Srila Gurudeva taught us that remembering Hari, Guru and Vaiṣṇavas is our sādhana, bhakti, and our bhajana. Despite our carrying out all kinds of other practices, if we forget this one thing, then we are extremely unfortunate. We must pray to never forget Hari, Guru and Vaiṣṇavas because the day we do so is the day that our downfall begins.
Śrīla Prabhupāda Sarasvatī Ṭhākura said, “A day dampened by clouds, storm, rain, and flood, is not a bad day at all; but that day which we fail to remember guru and Vaiṣṇavas—that is truly a bad day. That is the day we enter the realm of death (mahā-kāla).”
Mahāprabhu instructed Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī:
antare niṣṭhā kara, bāhye loka-vyavahāra
acirāt kṛṣṇa tomāya karibe uddhāra
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 16.239
“Be fixed in your faith internally, but externally behave like an ordinary man. If you act in this way, Kṛṣṇa will be pleased and will soon deliver you.”
Later, in Jagannātha Purī when Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī asked for instruction, Mahāprabhu said:
grāmya-kathā nā śunibe, grāmya-vārtā nā kahibe
bhāla nā khāibe āra bhāla nā paribe
amānī mānada hañā kṛṣṇa-nāma sadā la’be
vraje rādhā-kṛṣṇa-sevā mānase karibe
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya-līlā 6.236-237
Do not talk like people in general or hear what they say. You should not eat very palatable food, nor should you dress very nicely. Do not expect honor, but offer all respect to others. Always chant the holy name of Lord Kṛṣṇa, and within your mind render service to Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa in Vṛndāvana.
Whether you reside in Vraja by body or mind, you should always worship Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa and serve them in your mind. Our mind is very wicked. Prabhupāda Sarasvatī Ṭhākura addresses the mind as follows:
duṣṭa mana! tumi kisera vaiṣṇava?
pratiṣṭhāra tare, nirjanera ghare,
tava hari-nāma kevala kaitava
My dear mind, what kind of Vaiṣṇava are you? Simply for false prestige and a material reputation you sit in a solitary place and pretend to chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra, but this is all cheating.
jaḍera pratiṣṭhā, śūkarera viṣṭhā
jāna nā ki tāhā māyāra vaibhava
bhāviyā ki kāja, anitya se saba
My dear mind, why are you so proud of being a Vaiṣṇava? Your solitary worship and chanting of the holy name of the Lord are based on a desire for cheap popularity, and therefore your chanting of the holy name is only a pretension. Such an ambition for a cheap reputation can be compared to the stool of a hog, because such popularity is another extension of the influence of māyā.
Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī also shows us how to instruct the mind. He says:
gurau goṣṭhe goṣṭālayiṣu sujane bhūsura-gaṇe
sva-mantre śrī-nāmni vraja-nava-yuva-dvandva-śaraṇe
sadā dambhaṁ hitvā kuru ratim apūrvām atitarā-
maye svāntar bhrātaś caṭubhir abhiyāce dhṛta-padaḥ
O my dear brother, my foolish mind, taking hold of your feet, I humbly pray to you with sweet words. Please give up all pride and quickly develop deep, loving attachment for the spiritual master, Śrī Vraja-dhāma, the residents of Vraja, the Vaiṣṇavas, the brāhmaṇas, your dīkṣā-mantras, the holy names of the Supreme Lord, and the shelter of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, the eternally youthful Divine Couple of Vraja.
The day that you do not engage your mind in remembering guru, Vaiṣṇavas, mantra, harināma, and so forth, is the day of your greatest misfortune. You may be doing so many external activities, but really you are just making your way into the ditch of māyā. You will fall into calamity. Be very careful, and follow the instructions of our Gosvāmīs.
Rūpa Gosvāmī advises in the eighth verse of his Upadeśāmṛta:
“Tiṣṭhan vraje tad-anurāgi-janānugāmī—stay in Vraja and associate with anurāgis, or those who have deep affection for Kṛṣṇa. The Vrajavāsīs can awaken your remembrance of Kṛṣṇa. We must always stay under their guidance.
Kuryād vāsaṁ vraje sadā—always be in Vraja and also remember that if you do not absorb the mind in vraja-kathā, or have no relation with the Vrajavāsīs, then you are not really staying in Vraja—you are staying in hell. Therefore, tad anurāgī—that person who has anurāga is a Vrajavāsī, you should stay with him. Otherwise your misfortune is guaranteed.
This is the reason that Mahāprabhu spoke the words:
vraje rādhā-kṛṣṇa-sevā manase karibe
Fully understanding Mahāprabhu’s mood and desire, Rūpa Gosvāmī expressed this divine instruction in his own words:
smṛtyoḥ krameṇa rasanā-manasī niyojya
tiṣṭhan vraje tad-anurāgi-janānugāmī
kālaṁ nayed akhilam ity upadeśa-sāram
“While living in Vraja as a follower of the eternal residents of Vraja, who possess inherent spontaneous love for Śrī Kṛṣṇa, one should utilize all his time by sequentially engaging the tongue and the mind in meticulous chanting and remembrance of Kṛṣṇa‘s names, form, qualities and pastimes. This is the essence of all instruction.”
Tan-nāma-rūpa-caritādi-sukīrtanānu, or doing kīrtana of the names, forms, and pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa is not enough in itself. Apart from doing that kīrtana, you must engage your mind also—smṛtyoḥ krameṇa rasanā-manasī niyojya. This means you must engage your speech and your mind in that which is related to kṛṣṇa-bhajana and also in the glories of Hari, guru, and Vaiṣṇava. This must be done in Vraja— tiṣṭhan vraje—where the Vrajavāsīs are. This is the essence of all instruction.
Śrīla Gurudeva always told us to give up bad association, but giving up bad association is only possible when you surround yourself with good association.
ata ātyantikaṁ kṣemaṁ pṛcchāmo bhavato ‘naghāḥ
saṁsāre ‘smin kṣaṇārdho ‘pi sat-saṅgaḥ śevadhir nṛṇām
Saintly association is a priceless treasure for living beings.
sādhu-saṅga’, ‘sādhu-saṅga’— sarva-śāstre kaya
lava-mātra sādhu-saṅge sarva-siddhi haya
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 22.54
All revealed scriptures declare that even by associating with a pure devotee for an eleventh of a second, one can attain all forms of success.
tulayāma lavenāpi na svargaṁ nāpunar-bhavam
bhagavat-saṅgi-saṅgasya martyānāṁ kim utāśiṣaḥ
The value of even an eleventh of a second spent in association with the Supreme Lord’s devotees cannot even be compared to residence in the heavenly plain or liberation, what to speak of anything of so-called value from this world of death.
If you associate with a sādhu for just a moment, you can be liberated from material life. Therefore, always seek out sādhu-saṅga.
Who is a real sādhu? Kṛṣṇa told the Vraja-devīs:
na pāraye ‘haṁ niravadya-saṁyujāṁ
sva-sādhu-kṛtyaṁ vibudhāyuṣāpi vaḥ
“I will never be able to repay the debt I have for your spotless love. You are real sādhus.”
In the association of genuine sādhus you will hear vraja-kathā, the glories of Vraja, and remember Bhagavān. That person who can engage us in remembering Bhagavān is a sādhu; and an asādhu is that person who pulls us away from bhakti, bhajana, the dhāma, and Bhagavān. Therefore, we must be very careful to be in real sādhu-saṅga, not asādhu-sanga.
If the desire to serve and carry out bhakti’s limbs has not awakened within us, that is a sign that we are not in sādhu-saṅga.
kāma-krodhera dāsa hañā tāra lāthi khāya
bhramite bhramite yadi sādhu-vaidya pāya
tāṅra upadeśa-mantre piśācī palāya
kṛṣṇa-bhakti pāya, tabe kṛṣṇa-nikaṭa yāya
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 22.14–15
The conditioned soul becomes the servant of lusty desires, and when these are not fulfilled, he becomes the servant of anger and continues to be kicked by the external energy, māyā. Wandering and wandering throughout the universe, he may by chance get the association of a devotee physician, whose instructions and hymns make the witch of the external energy flee. The conditioned soul thus gets into touch with devotional service to Lord Kṛṣṇa, and in this way he can approach nearer and nearer to the Lord.
Sādhus are doctors that cure those suffering from material existence.
If we are so fortunate to meet such a sādhu, then the witch of māyā will no longer be able to keep us in her prison.
Śrīla Gurudeva told us first when we came to the maṭha, “Look, engage in sat-saṅga; then the witch of māyā will leave you and run away. She will not come close.”
piśācī hṛdi vartate
katham abhyudayo bhavet
As long as the desires for liberation and sense gratification, which are considered to be like witches, haunt the jīva’s heart, how will it be possible for pure devotion to ever blossom there?
When, by the power of sādhu-saṅga, Māyā-devī’s agents and influence are banished from your heart, you will be truly happy. This has been made very clear in the writings of Rūpa Gosvāmī and by our ācāryas.
Śrīla Gurudeva told us, “Take shelter of sādhus and remain in sādhu-saṅga.” This is the instruction of Mahāprabhu Himself. You may be chanting nāma, or repeating the syllables of the holy name, but only by the mercy of sādhus will you be able to chant the name purely.
sādhu-saṅge kṛṣṇa-nāma—ei-mātra cāi,
saṁsāra jinite āra kona vastu nāi
In real sādhu-saṅga, you will have a taste for kṛṣṇa-nāma, kṛṣṇa-kathā, kṛṣṇa-sevā, kṛṣṇa-bhajana, and in staying in Kṛṣṇa’s dhāma. Without sādhu-saṅga however, your misfortune is assured.
In Jagannātha Purī, Caitanya Mahāprabhu discussed the glories of sādhu-saṅga and harināma with Haridāsa Ṭhākura. Mahāprabhu said that if the mercy of God showers upon a jīva, then that jīva will find
sādhu-saṅga. He will take shelter of sādhus, hear hari-kathā, engage in kīrtana, and he will experience the sandhini-śakti from the sādhu. In this way, he gains awareness of his spiritual existence. The purified and self-realized jīva then discards the gross body, which is contaminated with material nature and is the source of so much suffering.
With sandhini-śakti—the sādhus grant spiritual existence to the jīvas. The soul is thus awakened into its true nature. Therefore, we must always endeavor to remain in sādhu-saṅga if we wish to find perfection in our existence.
When a chickpea is placed in the earth and watered, it grows into a plant. The root of the chickpea goes down and the plant comes up and sprouts two leaves, one on each side. Later, more leaves come.
The root travels deeper into the ground and collects water. Thus, the plant continues to grow. Similarly, in sādhu-saṅga, our tendency to serve Kṛṣṇa will sprout and continue to grow. Our roots are residence in the dhāma and associating with sādhus. Those roots will deepen and we will become more and more attached to sādhu-saṅga.
When we take the shelter of the lotus feet of the sādhus, gradually, we give up all our material abhimāna. We must catch hold of the feet of the sādhus and never let go. This is the root of spiritual life—the roots to our bhakti creeper. With strong roots our desire to serve Kṛṣṇa will develop from a seed to a sprout and will continue to grow.
The first two leaves that appear on the creeper of bhakti are kleśaghnī (freedom from suffering) and śubhadā (attainment of all auspiciousness).
In this initial period pāpa–bīja (the seed of sin), avidyā (ignorance), rāga (infatuation), dveṣa (aversion), abhiniveṣa (material absorption),
svarūpa–bhrama (self-illusion), asat-tṛṣna (material thirst), hṛdaya-daurbalyam (weakness of the heart), aparādha (offenses)—all these things, which are covering the real nature of the soul, will be gradually washed away.
When a forest is set on fire, all the insects, snakes, and different creatures in the forest come out of their hiding places and run out. Until we come into sādhu-saṅga, all our material desires and remnants of previous karma remain hidden, deeply covered within our hearts.
Then when we come into sādhu-saṅga it is like setting the forest of these desires ablaze. All our desires immerge and give us difficulty. All our anarthas come to the surface. But what do sādhus do? They destroy these desires with the sword of their powerful speech.
People are afraid of sādhus because of this. The sādhus cut away our five types of sufferings: (i) avidyā, ignorance or forgetfulness of Kṛṣṇa; (ii) asmitā, or the false egoism arising from the conceptions of “I” and “mine”; (iii) rāga, or attachment for the objects of sense gratification; (iv) dveṣa, or hatred or aversion to unpleasant, disagreeable or adverse situations; and (v) abhiniveṣa, or attachment for or absorption in sinful activities.
They vanquish our material attractions, desires, and attachments. By their power, they will remove all our kleśa. This process seems painful, but this is a stage of our purification and is necessary.
Still people think, “Oh, I can come to the dhāma, but who will take care of me when I am old? I will suffer so much and I will not have any one to support me.” But we should have faith in God and His devotees. If we surrender to them, they will make all arrangements for our welfare.
The sādhus who are completely free from mundane attachments wield the medicine that cures our material disease. You might think, “When I sit in front of sādhus, they are so strong that it feels like they are cutting me and then throwing salt on my wounds. They are tormenting me.”
But this is the process of our purification. Once we are freed of our sickness, we will feel so much happiness. We have been suffering for so many millions of lifetimes from this material disease. Once we are cured we will feel so much bliss. Therefore, we should not be afraid of taking the treatment of sādhus. Sādhus purify everyone by the nectar of hari-kathā. We can receive this rasa by going to sādhu-saṅga.
The stage of kleśaghnī—when we undergo the somewhat painful identification and subsequent eradication of our kleśa, or misery—has been described. The next stage is śubhadā. At this stage we do not suffer; rather, people respect us. They give us wealth and opulence, and offer us worship. This is an extremely dangerous stage. If, at this time, we forget guru and Vaiṣṇavas, then again we will fall into māyā’s clutches. We must be very steady in our sādhana at the stage of śubhadā.
Rūpa Gosvāmī writes:
vināśam āyāti vinā na bhogaiḥ
apaiti nāma! sphuraṇena tat te,
prārabdha-karmeti virauti vedaḥ
O nāma! The Vedas loudly declare that even without a devotee undergoing any suffering, his prārabdha-karma, which cannot be eliminated even by resolute meditation on impersonal brāhmaṇa, is at once mitigated by Your appearance on the tongue.
Everyone must suffer the results of their prārabdha and aprārabdha-karma, but if we are always doing nāma-kīrtana, then those reactions are taken away from us by those who are criticizing us or abusing us.
This is the only way that the tasting of those fruits is avoided. Those who respect us and praise us take away our puṇya, or the fruits of piousness. Bhajana cannot be performed so long as pāpa and puṇya are present.
One may bathe in the Gaṅgā and become purified of sin, but the tendency to sin is not necessarily destroyed. Rūpa Gosvāmī describes that meditating on brāhmaṇ will not free you from your prārabdha and aprārabdha-karma. The results of both puṇya and pāpa, whether they are being experienced now or will be experiences later, are great obstacles the sādhaka must overcome; otherwise, he will not be able to do bhakti.
When we first become devotees, ordinary people will make fun of us and abuse us. But by doing this, they are actually taking away our bad qualities, anarthas, and sins. Many people, especially here in India, are critical towards sādhus and say, “Oh! They aren’t doing any work. They are only eating. And we are working so hard. Still they have the audacity to give us instruction.” Those who criticize us are actually our well-wishers and they are taking away our sins. Therefore, we should be grateful towards them.
It is a very dangerous stage when we become senior. People think, “Oh, he is so qualified,” and we become surrounded by many followers, servants, and beautiful women. This stage is critical. We must be extremely careful. Anarthas can arise even from collecting sukṛti.
Women will come to tempt us. If we are not extremely careful and always praying to Govinda, “Oh! Please protect me,” then we will not be saved. Our followers will steal our blood, our energy, and our lives. Beware! Śubhadā is even more dangerous than kleśaghnī, but if we stay in sādhu-saṅga, we will be guided through bhajana-kriyā and anartha-nivṛtti. Our anarthas will be vanquished and we will develop niṣṭhā.
When you do bhagavata-sevā or bhakta-sevā, then all anarthas and inauspicious things will go. All kleśa will go. If however, you have a great balance of puṇya, pious credit, then you will be proud and unwilling to go near the sādhus. You will think, “I know everything. I know no less then these sādhus.” Wealth, beauty, knowledge—all these qualities and opulence’s are impediments towards the cultivation of pure devotion. When these anarthas are almost completely destroyed, and we are engaged in kīrtana and smaraṇa of the Kṛṣṇa’s glories, that stage is called niṣṭhā.
As the bhakti creeper develops, a stage called mokṣa-laghutākṛtā is reached. At that time the sādhaka loses all desire for mukti, liberation. His sole desire will be bhakti for Kṛṣṇa.
sārūpyaikatvam apy uta
dīyamānaṁ na gṛhṇanti
vinā mat-sevanaṁ janāḥ
Even if they are offered any of the four types of liberation—śālokya, sārṣṭi, sāmīpya, and sārūpya—the bhaktas do not accept.
The bhaktas only want the unalloyed service of the Lord.
As the bhakti creeper continues to grow, the sādhaka experiences sandrānanda-viśeṣātmā. This is a stage of condensed bliss in which understanding of the real glories of Śrī Guru awakens.
Śrīla Gurudeva used to ask us, “What is the meaning of the term kṛṣṇānandāya found in the guru-mantra?” He answered, saying,
“Sevānanda is that kṛṣṇānanda. Kṛṣṇa will be pleased or feel ānanda when you do service. Then you, the servant, will taste cid-ānanda, transcendental bliss. A person who does not serve will always be sad. He will not receive any sukṛti or blessings.”
If you lie around like a lazy buffalo you will never be able to get the mercy of guru and Vaiṣṇavas. We may be with sādhus in the dhāma, but if we are like buffaloes, not taking any responsibility for service, then we will not gain any benefit from their association. We must therefore serve with enthusiasm. We must develop sevā-vṛtti, the tendency to serve.
The sixth leaf of the bhakti creeper is called śrī kṛṣṇākarṣaṇī.
Niṣṭhā develops into ruci and āsakti. Then, finally, one attains bhāva and then prema. The seed of bhakti—the desire to serve Kṛṣṇa—sprouts and grows in this fashion. At first our desire to serve is weak, then it strengthens and matures. We come to the point where we cannot sit idle, and always engage in one service or another. We will feel responsible for all services. We will think, “I do not need to tell other people to do things, I will do it myself. I will make garlands for Ṭhākurajī. I will dress Ṭhākurajī. I will clean the temple. I will cook. I will wash the pots.”
We will not wait to receive instruction to do service because we are filled with ānanda-śakti. We have potency from svarūpa-śakti, which gives bliss and enthusiasm in service.
The root of all this development and these stages of bhakti is sādhu-saṅga. The rasa the sādhus give provides us with strength and taste. When the seed of the desire to serve Kṛṣṇa is watered by the sādhus’ mercy we gradually taste so much bliss in doing even the smallest sevā. We will be unable to rest without service. Even while resting we will engage in service, just like Hanumān, whose service to Rāmacandra never stops.
After the stage of āsakti, one enters bhāva. At this stage of bhakti one feels sandrānanda-viśeṣātmā—condensed bliss. The ātmā, self, achieves a viśeṣa, or special, form at this stage. Then one attains svarūpa-siddhi, realization of one’s eternal spiritual form.
The fifth leaf of the bhakti creeper brings about our transcendence, or aloofness, from all material elements. We have absolutely no more attachment to the senses and the objects of the senses. Then we are completely surrendered to the dhāma and are fully under the guidance of the Vraja-devīs according to our particular relation with Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. Then, when we attain svarūpa-siddhi, we actually enter Vraja and move on to vastu-siddhi.
The sixth leaf of the bhakti creeper is śrī kṛṣṇākarṣaṇī. The sādhaka’s bhakti is now able to attract the Supreme Attractor Himself. At this point, one has attained vastu-siddhi. But what is the root of all this? Sādhu-saṅga.
Sādhus destroy asat-pravṛtti, our wicked material tendencies. Mahāprabhu revealed the glories of sādhu-saṅga in his conversations with Haridāsa Ṭhākura at Siddha-bakula, as well as his dealing with Sanātana Gosvāmī.
Sanātana Gosvāmī came to Jagannātha Purī from Vraja. His whole body had become filled with infected oozing sores. His journey, throughout the duration of which he drank water that was impure and faced many other austerities, had made him ill. Puss flowed from his sores and he was surrounded by flies. Despite his condition, Mahāprabhu immediately embraced Sanātana Gosvāmī as soon as He saw him.
Mahāprabhu would go to maṅgala-āratī at the Jagannātha-mandira for darśana of the Lord, but Sanātana Gosvāmī and Haridāsa Ṭhākura would not go. Thus, they received the culture of the brahmaṇa-paṇḍās there. They acted in this way because they had both come in connection with Muslims, one by external birth and one buy former occupation. Therefore, they would not go even on the road in front of the temple, for the pandas would become upset even if the shadow of someone they considered unfit or low-class touched them. If something like that happened they would bathe and change their cloth before re-entering the Jagannātha mandira. Learning from this example of our Guru-varga, we should act according to our own adhikāra and qualification.
When Mahāprabhu would come and meet Haridāsa Ṭhākura at Siddha-bakula, Sanātana Gosvāmī offered obeisance to Mahāprabhu from a distance. Mahāprabhu however, forcibly embraced him. Mahāprabhu taught us how to properly honor Vaiṣṇavas. Puss and blood from the body of Sanātana Gosvāmī was smeared on the body of Mahāprabhu. Sanātana Gosvāmī felt so much distress. This became a daily event. Mahāprabhu said:
vaiṣnava-śarīra, aprākṛta sadā,
kabhu nāhe jaḍa, tathāpi ye ninde,
poḍe se viṣamādharme
One may find so-called defects in the body of a Vaiṣṇava but, in truth, his body is always transcendental. Never consider the Vaiṣṇava’s body to be material. That person who criticizes the body of a Vaiṣṇava falls into a deadly state of adharma.
Rūpa Gosvāmī writes:
dṛṣṭaiḥ svabhāva-janitair vapuṣaś ca doṣair
na prākṛtatvam iha bhakta janasya paśyet
gaṅgāmbhasāṁ na khalu budbuda-phena-paṅkair
brahma-dravatvam apagacchati nīra-dharmaiḥ
Established in his purely Kṛṣṇa conscious position, a pure devotee does not identify with the material body. Such a devotee must not be seen with a materialistic point of view. One must overlook his having a body that may be born in a lower-caste family, and one must not consider him to be possessed of an imperfect or diseased body. Although when utilizing ordinary vision, such imperfections may seem apparent, the body of the pure devotee is always completely pure, just as the Gaṅgā’s water may seem, at times, to be full of foam and mud while in truth it is liquid Transcendence.
Based on this verse of Rūpa Gosvāmī, Bhaktinoda Ṭhākura addresses Kṛṣṇa as follows:
tomāra vaiṣṇava, vaibhava tomāra,
āmāre korunā doyā
tabe mora gati, ha’be tava prati,
pā’bo tava pada-chāyā
The Vaiṣṇava is Your own, representing Your glorious divine potency. May he be merciful to me. Then my life’s journey will turn toward You, and I will attain shelter in the shade of Your lotus feet.
In that same prayer, he says, “O Nanda-nandana, I will never look at the face of a person who makes offenses to the Vaiṣṇavas. If I become implicated in such an offense, or if I offend the Vaiṣṇavas directly, my downfall is inevitable.”
If we cannot respect Vaiṣṇavas, if we are always criticizing them,
or making fun of them, then we are actually steadily collecting all the bad qualities that exist in this world. We think we have located bad qualities in others when, in fact, we are collecting those bad qualities ourselves. Therefore, Mahāprabhu taught us to respect sādhus appropriately.
Mahāprabhu said, “Just see Mādhavendra Purīpāda, in his final days he was praying:
ayi dīna-dayārdra nātha he
dayita bhrāmyati kiṁ karomy aham
O You whose heart is most merciful to the wretched! O Master! O Lord of Mathurā! When will I have Your darśana? O Lord of My life, because I cannot see You, My heart has become agitated. What shall I do now?
Mahāprabhu said, “He was praying with the mood of Rādhārānī and weeping profusely. Foam was coming from his mouth and he was sweating. His hair was standing on end. At that time Rāmacandra Purī came and said ‘Oh, why are you lamenting? Remember brāhmaṇa now that you are about to die.’ He was critical toward Mādhavendra Purī and instructing him in this way. On the other side, īśvara Purī was serving him tirelessly—wiping his body, cleaning him, giving him new cloth, and so on.
“Mādhavendra Purī said to Īśvara Purī, ‘Send this Rāmacandra Purī away. I do not want to see him.’ ”
Some people live with the Vaiṣṇavas and receive so much love and affection. Then suddenly, when the guru or Vaiṣṇava exhibits pastimes of illness or old age these people lose faith, because they perceive them with their mundane vision. We must ask ourselves, “Are we having darśana of sādhus or darśana of māyā? This is a very important test for a sādhaka.”
Śrīla Gurudeva would say, “Do we have mamatā for sādhus? Do we have unconditional affection, as a mother for her child?”
There are three kinds of sevakas. One is a guru-bhogi—he enjoys the wealth and opulence of guru. Another comes to test guru, and another comes to serve. Some people come to Śrī Guru and see that there is so much opulence, arrangements, and facilities for enjoyment. Seeing this, they say, “This is a good sādhu. I will stay here. This is such a beautiful place. Everything is so nice. I will stay here.” But when he sees that the sādhu is suffering, his body is rotting from various ailments, then he says, “Oh! Now look! Because he has been cheating people for so long, he now suffers in his old age.” Then he rejects that guru.
A real guru-sevaka, on the other hand, knows that the sickness pastimes of the pure devotee are a test to see who the real guru-sevakas are and who the guru-bhogis are. Aśvastha–līlā, the pure devotees exhibition of illness, is when the cheaters are separated from the sincere.
Those disciples who do service, remembering the full glory of the pure devotee, will receive supreme good fortune. During that period, the disciple has a golden chance to rapidly advance and gain realization of his eternal service and identity.
People think, “Oh! sādhus—how are they different from ordinary people? We are eating; they are eating. We are fasting; they are fasting. Why are so many people serving the sādhus?”
People with this doubtful and envious mentality ultimately reach
a destination of poverty of heart and spirit life after life. Those who are true sevakas will serve guru and Vaiṣṇavas at all times and in all conditions and thus achieve bhagavata-prema and residence in Vraja.
Vaiṣṇava-darśana, sādhu-darśana, guru-darśana, and govinda-darśana are attained by those who are fortunate. Those who have faith in sādhus in any condition are supremely fortunate. The sādhus have no attachment to the body. They are not servants of blood and flesh. Someone who is attached to matter cannot be a sādhu. Those who serve the transcendental bodies of the sādhus receive so much benefit. The sādhus do not have attachment; therefore, if they do not eat or drink, their body will become dry.
They will give up their bodies very quickly. Therefore, the duty of the sevaka is to serve Śrī Guru, to take care of the body of Śrī Guru or sādhus because they have no attachment for their bodies themselves.
They are present in their spiritual form and busy with their eternal service.
They have no affection whatsoever for their material bodies and when they feel the pain of separation from Kṛṣṇa, their deep moods or pains cannot be tolerated by the external body. Just like earth cannot tolerate when there is a great fire or heat, the material body cannot tolerate bhagavata-prema when it ignites within the body.
Therefore, to see sādhus or to see Govinda requires spiritual vision.
We should not go to a doctor to test him, thinking, “Is this doctor beautiful? Is he healthy? Does he speak sweetly?” This is not our concern. We are the patients. The doctor will look at us; we should not try to look at the doctor. Similarly, do we look at the sādhus or should they look at us? We must not think, “I will only consider this person a sādhu if he speaks sweetly to me…” or in similar ways. We cannot understand the sādhus with our material intelligence.
When he was in Jagannātha Purī, Śrīla Gurudeva glorified sādhu-saṅga extensively. He said, “When Mahāprabhu stayed here, He spent all His time in sādhu-saṅga. Without sādhu-saṅga we cannot gain spiritual intelligence, and without this viveka, we remain the fools of māyā.”
Srila Gurudeva ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Sri Guru Darshan”. Available from: email@example.com )