Yesterday was Magha pūrṇimā vrata, the day Mahāprabhu took sannyāsa and the appearance day of Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura.
If we can become connected to the guru-varga in the eternal world, our lives will be successful. Otherwise our lives will be lost.
We heard how Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī ordered Narottama, Śrīnivāsa and Śyāmānanda Prabhu to go preach with the books of the Gosvāmīs. Upon reaching Visnupura, the kingdom of Bir Hambir (a Hindu king who followed bhakti as a smārta but was also a big dacoit), Bir Hambir sent his soldiers to steal their wealth.
Bir Hambir’s astrologer told the king, “A group is passing through your kingdom with a vast treasure. If you steal this, you will be very rich.”
Narottama, Śrīnivāsa and Śyāmānanda Prabhu became very sad, having lost all the Gosvāmīs’books. Śrīnivāsa Prabhu said, “I will give up my body if I cannot retrieve these books. I will not stop searching until I find them.”
Śrīnivāsa Ācārya began searching everywhere in the area, without success. Then he heard that the local king would daily hear the Śrīmad-bhāgavatam from a brāhmaṇa priest within the royal assembly. He said, “I shall go. If any good person helps me, it will be possible to find the books.”
He went to Bir Hambir for help but, hearing the smārta brāhmaṇas speak on the Śrīmad-bhāgavatam — only nonsense — he became disturbed. The brāhmaṇa had no relation with the Bhāgavata and did not really touch even one verse.
Śrīnivāsa Prabhu was very sad. He sat there in the assembly, hearing the class despondently. He prayed to the Gosvāmīs, guru-varga, Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, his Guru Mahārāja (Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī), and to Śrīmatī Rādhārānī for help.
Bir Hambir would respect sādhus. Seeing Śrīnivāsa Ācārya, who was very humble and effulgent, the king asked him, “What do you need?”
“This paṇḍitajī is explaining the Bhāgavatam here. If you give permission, I may also speak something on the Bhāgavata.”
“Yes, come and speak.”
Then Śrīnivāsa Ācārya began to speak on the Bhāgavatam, explaining the purports of the Gosvāmīs. Everyone in the assembly became surprised to hear the wonderful hari-kathā, and their natures changed.
The king said, “Please give class daily here.”
Then, for one month, Śrīnivāsa Ācārya spoke the Bhāgavatam morning and evening, for many hours throughout the day. The people’s natures completely changed.
Bir Hambir requested him, “Please give me dīkṣā. I wish to accept you as my Guru.”
Ācārya Śrīnivāsa gave him dīkṣā. Then the king asked, “What can I give you as bhikṣā?”
“I lost a bullock cart full of my Gosvāmīs’ books. If you can bring these books back and give them to me, then I will be happy. This is the dakṣiṇā I desire.”
“Okay, Gurudeva,” Bir Hambir said. “Come with me.”
Bir Hambir led him through his palace, and as they walked, he spoke, “Sometime before, my soldiers stole the bullock cart. My astrologer had told that very great wealth was passing through my kingdom, and if I stole it, I would be fabulously rich. Therefore I carried off this bullock cart. But when it arrived and I opened the boxes, I saw only palm leaves with Sanskrit written on them. I could not understand what it was.”
“Please show me,” Śrīnivāsa Ācārya said with excitement.
The king led him to a rundown area where the chests were being kept. Luckily, the books had not been rained on and spoiled. When Śrīnivāsa Ācārya found these books and touched them, his heart was as if broken. . . and he fell down crying.
“I am going now,” he told the king.
“No, you can’t leave,” Bir Hambir said. “You are my Guru Mahārāja.”
“This is not possible.”
He sent news to Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura and Śyāmānanda Prabhu that the books had been found, and they returned.
Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura began kīrtana there with Śyāmānanda Prabhu. The sky filled with clouds, as if a great storm was coming. A little later, the whole area became effulgent and green. Then, when he sang of separation, everything turned dry. The palace became surcharged with the mahā-saṅkīrtana of Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura. The people forgot everything and danced in ecstasy like madmen.
“Narottama Ṭhākura, Śrīnivāsa Ācārya and Śyāmānanda Prabhu are my three ācāryas,”
Bir Hambir said. “None of them will ever leave here. They will daily perform kīrtana and speak the Bhāgavatam. I will drink this nectar. My life has been lost in fighting and theiving. But I never stole paramārtha, the supreme wealth of life.”
Now, how could they leave? It was the order of Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī for them to go preaching the saṅkīrtana movement, fulfilling the desire of Mahāprabhu by distributing anurāgamayi bhakti. If this is not given, then the jīvas will continue running for jaḍa-anurāga. The living entities are all ready to commit spiritual suicide, like jumping into fire, all the while thinking, “This is very tasteful.”
Like bugs fly into fire seeing its glow. . . in this way, the jīvas see māyā in a very attractive form, and they jump inside māyā, only to burn and suffer.
Narottama Ṭhākura, Śrīnivāsa Ācārya and Śyāmānanda Prabhu thought, “Staying here is not enough. We must go.”
They spoke amongst themselves, “One process is possible. We will call Govinda, Gopinātha and Madana Mohana. If They come, it will be possible. If They come and make a relationship with the king and the king begins to serve them, he will give us up. If we don’t give him something more sweet, he will not give up one sweet for nothing.”
They opened temples of Govinda, Gopinātha, Madana-mohana, and Rādhā-kuṇḍa, Śyāma-kuṇḍa, and a garden like Vṛndāvana.
“Everything is good,” the king said. “But who will sing beautiful songs, and who will worship the Deities?”
“I will teach you,” Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura said. “I will give you my own property.”
Śyāmānanda Prabhu said, “Don’t worry, I will help you.”
“There is no problem,” Śrīnivāsa Ācārya said. “Many devotees will come and reside with you. And your own family members, soldiers and citizens will become nice kīrtanīyas, pujārīs and Bhāgavatam speakers.”
The king was surprised with this movement, which was like a touchstone. He was surprised, “How is this possible?”
Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura said to him, “Today, you will sing.”
Like when Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja went to the West, he didn’t have any mṛdaṅga or karatāla players. The Westerners didn’t know anything about kīrtana. No Gauḍīyas would ever have believed it would be possible for Westerners to sing gauḍīya kīrtanas. They didn’t know the melodies or method.
But what is the power of the guru-varga! Simply by the spiritual power of Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja, thousands and thousands of Westerners changed and became engaged in the limbs of devotion, singing and dancing in bliss.
Narottama Ṭhākura, Śrīnivāsa Ācārya and Śyāmānanda Prabhu made one of the king’s family members into a priest and said, “You will give class.” They told another, “You will sing kīrtana.” “You will worship the Deities.”
Now also, Deities of Mahāprabhu, or Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, and so much art comes from Visnupura, Bakura.
Gurudeva sent me there, and I would see in all houses, by the mercy of Narottama Ṭhākura, Śrīnivāsa Ācārya and Śyāmānanda Prabhu, all people were great artists and kīrtanīyas with deep attachment for Mahāprabhu and the kīrtana movement, even now, after four hundred years.
This is the mercy of the guru-varga. But you must pray to them for mercy. Then their mercy can come. If you think they are ordinary men and women, then nothing will come to you. By the mercy of the guru-varga, all qualities of this world may come, what to speak of spiritual qualities. By their mercy, you will build the foundation for your spiritual body and will enter that spiritual world. All spiritual property from the treasure house in the transcendental world will come within you. All good qualities will come to you.
Then Narottama Ṭhākura, Śrīnivāsa Ācārya and Śyāmānanda Prabhu left.
Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura went to Kheturi-grama, Śyāmānanda Prabhu went to Odisha, and preached in areas like Balasore, where Kṣīra Cora Gopinātha is present in Gopī vallabha pura. They reproduced all the books of the Gosvāmīs , copying them by hand.
Śrīnivāsa Ācārya Prabhu went to Katwa, Srikhanda, Jhanji Grāma, North Bengal, Assām, Gohati and Bangladesh.
They went preaching for the welfare of all living entities. They did not preach for business. Why don’t we work and help the jīvas? Now people are selfish. They say, “I will go preaching.” When they come back, people ask them, “How much money did you collect?” But how many people’s hearts did you change? How many people did you distribute nectar to? And drinking this nectar, how many people changed and became inclined to the service of God — They don’t ask this. If anyone collects a lot of money and brings it back to his leader, then he will be glorified as a great Ācārya.
The guru-varga do not act like this. They travel without any condition or want, only to help the living entities. How do they help?
taṁ namāmi hariṁ param
“All sins are completely destroyed by the chanting of Bhagavān’s names, and all kinds of miseries are relieved by complete surrender to His lotus feet and by always bowing down to Him. I offer my respectful obeisances unto that Absolute Truth, Śrī Hari.”
This harināma-saṅkīrtana movement is helpful for all living entities. It is not a business. If you chant this without any selfish motives, anyone who hears your chanting will be purified. If you have relation with harināma, not relation with money, name, fame and followers, then you can help others. If you make announcement of your own glories, this is not paramārtha; this is an anartha.
One should chant harināma for the pleasure of Mahāprabhu, and to help the living entities and oneself to achieve a spiritual relation. Then this harināma is helpful for all, and the kindness and help of harināma will come.
Now there is dryness and business. “I will come, but you must give my fare, my lodge and food.”
Otherwise, how can sādhus come? This question also comes. But there is no need to ask this. People will automatically arrange. The inspiration of God will come, the order of God will come. Everything will automatically happen.
One, two, three, ten people will run automatically to help.
Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura preached throughout Bangladesh and Bengal. He would give dīkṣā and harināma to people from any caste who would come and take his shelter. People would come from all over and take shelter of Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura. But then, many smārta brāhmaṇas from all over India, like Dhaka, Chattagrama, Haripura, Srihatta, as well as smārta brāhmaṇas from South India and other states, protested. An announcement was made all over:
They said, “He came from another caste, he is not a brāhmaṇa. But now he is giving dīkṣā to brāhmaṇas and many others. He is changing so many people. They are chanting harināma, and do not follow the Vedic rules and regulations. They only cry, weep, dance and roll about on the ground. He is making the populace crazy and maddened. Now wives do not follow their husbands and husbands do not follow their wives. This Narottama is breaking the relationships in society and making all into Bābājīs. This is a big problem.”
Brāhmaṇas from all over India assembled to oppose Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura.
“We will make him answer our questions,” the smārta brāhmaṇas discussed amongst themselves.
There were many learned disciples of Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura, such as Gaṅgā Nārāyaṇa Cakravartī and Rāma Kṛṣṇa Cakravartī. Also, many disciples of Śrīnivāsa Ācārya, such as Rāmacandra Kavirāja, were present. Many people heard the news that the smārta brāhmaṇas were coming to oppose Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura.
The disciples of Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura did not want to bear any ill news and disturb their Gurudeva, knowing he was always busily engaged in his internal service to his Lords, Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. His learned disciples then set up many shops. Some sold cooking supplies, some cloth or clay pots, and others tāmbūla and so forth. Everything needed to cook and live was set up. Why? They knew the smārtas were coming and would not eat anything from other castes. So they would have to buy all ingredients, as well as pots and wood for cooking, as long as they were there. They would need oil, wood, tents and so many things. Therefore, the disciples of Narottama made a large market.
Smārta brāhmaṇas came from all over India to oppose Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura and debate about the legitimacy of his preaching.
The smārtas all chewed pan, so the devotees set up pan shops for them. The smārtas would come and ask, “What is the price for one piece?”
“Do you want smārta tāmbūla or paramārtha tāmbūla?” the shopkeeper asked.
“What is the meaning of paramārtha tāmbūla and smārta tāmbūla?” the smārtas asked.
“Do you want smārta tāmbūla mixed with intoxicating substances, or paramārtha tāmbūla mixed with raisins, cloves, cinnamons, coconut and pure things?”
The smārta brāhmaṇas thought, “How is it that a pan seller is asking such a question about smārta and paramārtha? Why are they hating us smārtas, implying that we like intoxicants?”
When they went to purchase any items, the Vaiṣṇava shopkeepers asked the smārtas their identity. When asked, the smārtas replied with their different bodily designations as brāhmaṇas by caste. The Vaiṣṇavas defeated the smārtas’ relative conception by speaking on the absolute truth of the soul as a servant of God, not bound to any mundane caste or creed.
The smārtas were surprised. Anywhere they went, they returned humiliated. The shopkeepers smashed their pride. The shopkeepers wore Tulasī neckbeads, tilaka on their foreheads, and spoke in Sanskrit.
The disciples of Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura did not attack by arms. This is a process followed by foolish people. If one is clever and knows the proper method, he will defeat his opposition at the appropriate time with the appropriate means. If you go to fight with someone with arms emblazoned, like an earthquake or volcano, this is not the best method. One should deal with those antagonistic in a quiet and peaceful manner, with sharp intelligence.
At night, the smārtas who had gathered discussed the coming debate and concluded, “If we were so badly defeated and humiliated by mere shopkeepers,” the smārtas thought, “how intelligent must Narottama be? There is no need to meet with him. We will surely be defeated.”
Then the smārtas ran away at night, without coming back. There was no need to fight with them, they all fled of their own accord.
The disciples went to their Gurudeva the next day and began kīrtana. After hari-kathā was finished, they told Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura of the previous day’s events. They said, “There are many demons in this world who are the followers of Rāvaṇa. The rākṣasas left their bodies in Śrī Laṅkā in the previous ages and have now come in kali-yuga, taking birth as brāhmanas. They all came to attack you. ‘Rākṣasāḥ kalim āśritya jāyante brahma-yoniṣu – taking shelter of Kali-yuga, rākṣasas (demons) take birth in brāhmaṇa families.’”
“Why didn’t you bring them to me?” Narottama asked.
“They would have caused a disturbance.”
“Why didn’t you give them any treatment by feeding them mahā-prasāda? Why weren’t you kind to them? Did you give them caraṇāmṛta?”
“Gurudeva,” his disciples said, “they came only to attack you.”
“You are very cruel,” Narottama said. “The air here is clean, not polluted. This is a place of saṅkīrtana. It is not good that they came all the way here and have now gone back without feeling any joy. Anyhow, don’t worry. One day I will call them, and they will all come and perform nāma-saṅkīrtana, their hearts changed.”
How open and broad is the heart of Śrī Guru! Śrī Guru never hates anyone.
Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura spread the saṅkīrtana movement, distributing prema-bhakti everywhere. He made all his disciples qualified, by nourishing them with the anurāgamayi bhakti of the Vrajavāsīs.
Jāhṇavā Mātā Ṭhākurānī, Virachandra Prabhu and other prominent Vaiṣṇavas came with thousands of devotees from all over India.
Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura had opened seven temples. Don’t think he simply installed Deities in these temples. These Deities would directly be present with Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura. When he sang his bhajanas, the Deities would not be able to remain on Their altars. They would dance in ecstasy.
Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura welcomed all Vaiṣṇavas who came, giving them all facilities and accommodations for their comfort. The disciples of Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura had deep love for Guru-pāda-padma and deep attachment for the Vrajavāsīs and vraja-sevā. They also had great affection and respect for Vaiṣṇavas. If one has no affection for Vaiṣṇavas, his life is useless and will be dry like a dead and uprooted tree.
When any Vaiṣṇavas left, Narottama felt great pain at heart. He would respect all with honor and love.
Disciples of other ācāryas, such as Śyāmānanda Prabhu and Śrīnivāsa Ācārya, assembled for festivals with Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura. They would graciously be given mahā-prasāda and lodging so they could participate in saṅkīrtana mahotsavas lasting for months on end.
śuniyāchi sādhu-mukhe bale sarva-jana
śrī-rūpa-kṛpāya mile yugala-caraṇa
hā! hā! prabhu sanātana gaura-paribāra
sabe mili vāñchā-pūrṇa karaha āmāra
śrī rūpera kṛpā yena āmā prati haya
se-pada āśraya yāra seī mahāśaya
prabhu lokanātha kabe saṅge lañā yābe
śrī-rūpera pāda-padme more samarpibe
“I have heard from the mouths of Vaiṣṇava sādhus that only by the mercy of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī can one obtain the lotus feet of Śrī Yugala. Alas! Alas! O Sanātana Prabhu! O supremely merciful Vaiṣṇava associates of Śrī Gaurasundara! All of you please fulfil my heart’s longing. I pray again and again that the mercy of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī may shower down upon me. O what wonder! One who has attained the shelter of the lotus feet of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī is indeed most fortunate. When will my Śrīla Gurudeva, Śrīla Lokanātha Gosvāmī, take me with him to meet Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī and offer me at his lotus feet?”
Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura would compose songs in prayer to his Guru-pāda-padma.
Śrī Guru can never reject his disciples. The relation between Śrī Guru and his disciples is very close. Ordinary people cannot understand this.
Once, Rūpa Gosvāmī spoke very strongly to Jīva Gosvāmī, saying, “I want you to leave. You cannot stay here with me any longer!”
All know the position of Jīva Gosvāmī after this occurrence. In the same way, Narottamadāsa Ṭhākura did not go far away to his Gurudeva. How is this? I explained this many times.
If one’s heart has place for his Guru Mahārāja, no dacoits, cheaters, hunters or killers will be able to enter his heart. Being close to Guru-pāda-padma at heart, the disciple will always be safe and protected. The disciple will drown always in Śrī Guru’s mercy and glories. Then he will have no problems. But if one leaves his Guru Mahārāja, he will have no refuge in this world and will easily be conquered and destroyed by māyā.
Therefore Śrī Guru sometimes tests his disciples, “What is the nature of my disciple in my proximity, and how does he act when he does not have my direct association?”
A real disciple will always be with his Gurudeva at heart, even if he is at a distance physically. A real disciple will never leave his Gurudeva, even if his Gurudeva says, “Get out! Stay away!”
Jāhṇavā Devī and all other Vaiṣṇavas came there, so how could it be that Narottama’s own Gurudeva was not present as well? How can one understand if Śrī Guru is present with one or not? If others take over my heart and mind, then my nature will turn bad. Bad attachments and qualities will come, and all goodness will be lost. This is the test and exam put to a disciple. The result is my own nature and activities. If I am always engaged in hari-kathā, kīrtana, bhajana and in the association of Vaiṣṇavas, then I am with Guru Mahārāja and God as well. Why? Because all activities pleasing to Śrī Guru and God are being performed. If one is engaged in māyā, the symptom will be that one is only interested in collecting disciples, property and fame, and one will engage in businesses such as hotels to increase his grandeur.
If a disciple engages his time in such a manner, he is not with Śrī Guru; he is in hell!
Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura did not give his Guru Mahārāja up from his heart.
We should learn from the example of Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura. The Vaiṣṇavas gave him the name Ṭhākura. The three great ācāryas of that time were given the titles Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura, Śrīnivāsa Ācārya and Śyāmānanda Prabhu. These titles were given by Jāhṇavā Mātā Ṭhākurānī and the respected and prominent Vaiṣṇavas.
A real Guru doesn’t think, “My disciples are my servants.” A bona fide Guru thinks, “These are the servants of God. They are not ordinary.” A genuine Guru will not show disdain to his disciples, nor will he think of them as very inferior to him. He doesn’t think, “You are ordinary and secondary, but I am primary.”
This is not the rule and nature of bhakti. Bhakti has open-hearted communication, attraction, affection and love. A real relationship between Śrī Guru and his disciples will be affectionate, intimate and strong. It can never be be broken. This is called the family of God. If Guru looks at small faults and rejects all his disciples, thinking, “They have this fault and this other fault,” where will goodness come from? If Guru has goodness within, his goodness will spread to all his disciples. If a Guru is false and collects only the bad qualities of his disciples, how can he benefit them? He is not a genuine Guru, and he cannot purify anyone.
If one’s heart is clean and cannot accept anything impure, then he can purify all others with his goodness. For example: If someone collects damp wood and burns it, so much smoke will come, disturbing all those nearby. If another person begins a fire ceremony, lighting perfumed incense and offering pure ghee into the fire, the surrounding atmosphere will become pure and all people will become joyful. In this way, if you collect the bad nature of others and stock it in your heart, the nature of all around you will become disturbed. The area around you will become polluted. If you are always near Guru-pāda-padma and goodness, you yourself will always be joyful and you will make all around you happy. So why should we collect the bad things from the environment?
Jāhṇavā Mātā and the Vaiṣṇavas were very pleased with Narottama dāsa and gave him the title Ṭhākura. Singing his kīrtanas, all became ecstatic in the bliss of devotional service.
He wrote Prema-bhakti-candrika. This book is a ray of prema-bhakti – it is like a guiding ray of the moon, showing the pathway through a dark realm to attainitssource. Where does this prema-bhakti come from? When the sun rises, his rays illumine the land and one can perceive objects of this world. But where does this prema-bhakti come from? When the light of prema-bhakti comes over the horizon of our anarthas, one can understand the source of prema-bhakti and how it can be achieved. From which direction does it arise? If its light comes, one can understand. Therefore, Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura wrote this book Prema-bhakti candrika.
Śrīla Gurudeva spoke on this book many years ago in Mathurā. If we read or hear this book spoken by rasika Vaiṣṇavas, we can realize the pure love of Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura.
Throughout Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura’s life, he was engaged in hari-kathā and kīrtana incessantly. He would dance hours on end in saṅkīrtana. When he danced, the flow of his tears would shower the devotees surrounding him.
When he was aged, he appeared to become ill and paralyzed. What is the purport? He was now always engaged in Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa’s eternal pastimes within his internal bhajana.
The envious smārta brāhmaṇas announced, “Now he has become paralyzed, due to the sinful activities he performed throughout his life. He gave dīkṣā to brāhmaṇas, being himself of another caste. He saw himself as such a great Ācārya, thinking he was qualified to worship the Deities of God. But God has rightly punished him, and he has become paralyzed.”
The brāhmaṇas taunted the disciples of Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura by insulting their Gurudeva. The disciples became furious to hear the criticisms. To hear offense of one’s Guru is intolerable for a real disciple. They did not know what to do.
One day, the senior disciples of Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura came to their Gurudeva and said, “Guru Mahārāja, please protect us. We are suffering so much. Our enemies are always taunting us, as if they want to kill us with their words against you. Please protect us, Gurudeva. They want to destroy our bhakti. If bhakti is lost, then everything is lost.”
“What is the problem?” Narottama said.
“The smārtas are insulting you.”
“That is no problem,” Narottama Ṭhākura replied. “That is their nature.”
“Gurudeva, you are very kind to all. Please help us in this difficulty .”
“Take me to the Gaṅgā on a stretcher, accompanied by nāma-saṅkīrtana,” Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura said.
A huge saṅkīrtana party was arranged, and Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura was placed on a stretcher. In the midst of a large kīrtana, Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura was carried to the Gaṅgā by four of his disciples. Those antagonistic thought he had left his body.
The distance was many kilometers. Upon arriving, Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura’s body was gently lowered into the water, where his limbs remained submerged for some time. Then, suddenly, he jumped up and began to dance ecstatically, like a young man full of vitality.
The saṅkīrtana party increased in fervor and bliss with every step, as Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura danced with the massive assembly all the way back to his temple. The villagers throughout the countryside came to see the assembled devotees and offered respect to Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura. All people changed by the purifying effect of Narottama’s dancing , and the hearts of the antagonistic were transformed. They stopped insulting him, and showed him due respect.
Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura preached for a long time after this. The illness pastime of mahā-bhāgavatas is very important and special. Śrī Guru gives a chance through this pastime for his disciples and followers to remember and serve him more intently. Ordinary people cannot understand this truth. Śrī Guru is never ill. His body is transcendental.
yata dekha vaiṣṇavera vyavahāra-duhkha
niṣcaya jāniha sei parānanda sukha
viṣaya-madāndha saba kicchui nā jāne
vidyā kūla, dhana-made vaiṣṇava nā cine
Caitanya-Bhagavat Madhya 9.240-241
“When you see a Vaiṣṇava of the highest order who seems to be suffering from material misery, you should know for sure that he is really experiencing the highest ecstasy. Bewildered by sense enjoyment and puffed up with pride in their knowledge, education, birth, wealth, beauty and so on, ignorant people cannot understand the activities or position of a Vaiṣṇava. A Vaiṣṇava, on the other hand, never considers country of birth, level of education or wealth to be important qualifications, but distributes the Lord’s mercy to everyone, regardless of their social position or cultural background.”
The pastimes of Vaiṣṇavas are very difficult to understand for those covered by material intelligence. Vaiṣṇavas are never disturbed by anything in this world. Where are they present? Just as Śrīnivāsa Ācārya appeared to leave his body, remaining motionless for many days without showing any signs of life, Rāmacandra Kavirāja came, hearing the news. All present said, “Gurudeva has left his body.”
“No! My Guru Mahārāja is busily engaged in the service of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. I will go and find him.”
He told those around not to disturb either the body of his Gurudeva or his own. He sat in a meditative posture and went into an internal state of consciousness. Externally, it appeared that he had also left his body, for he was not even breathing. But truly, he had gone to his Guru Mahārāja in transcendental Rādhā-kuṇḍa, where he helped his Gurudeva serve Śrīmatī Rādhārānī.
Who can fathom the activities of Vaiṣṇavas? Nonsense people have no common sense. How can they understand? Therefore, never insult or dishonor Śrī Guru and Vaiṣṇavas: kaha na re karo ninda krsna krsna boli, ajaya caitanya se jinibe khele. Don’t fill your heart with garbage. Don’t think, “I am a Vaiṣṇava, now I am capable and worthy of insulting all others. All are bad, only I am good. I am the authority. All others’ opinions are wrong.”
This is the philosophy of rascals! This is not Vaiṣṇava philosophy. Vaiṣṇavas collect only goodness. Honeybees only collect nectar from flowers and turn it into honey. They may even collect nectar from a poisonous flower and turn that into honey, but honeybees will only collect nectar, never poison, and it will be helpful for all.
The dharma of Vaiṣṇavas is never to insult others. Vaiṣṇavas give proper respect to all. Even if one has no good qualities, if he is very bad and sinful, why should I collect the bad qualities from him and bring them into my heart?
At the time of leaving his physical body and entering nitya-līlā, Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura went to the Ganga surrounded by his disciples and sat in the water. He asked his dear and near disciples to massage his body and as they did so, he melted away into the river, leaving behind a pool of milk.
We have come in this gauḍīya paramparā. If we pray with the bhajanas of Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura, Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and the other ācāryas, we will be close to them. They have written these songs for us to show us the pathway to achieve prema-bhakti. The ācāryas are present with us in their prayers.
Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura prayed:
kabe kṛṣṇa-dhana pābo, hiyāra mājhāre thabo,
sājāiyā dibo hiyā, vāsaibo prāṇa-priyā,
nirakhibo se candra-bayān
“When will I gaze on the moonlike face of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the treasure more dear to me than mylife? When will I decorate Him and seat Him in my heart, relieving my sinful life?”
Our ācāryas have reserved this transcendental wealth for us. This is our spiritual food and shelter. If we leave that aside and go to collect mundane film songs and so forth, we are the disciples of film stars and singers. But if we sing, remember and pray with the songs of our guru-varga, we will be in their line, as their followers.
Therefore, out of their great kindness, the guru-varga have saved this property of heartfelt love for us. If we neglect these bhajanas, feeling we have no time to remember or sing them, how can we progress and approach our guru-varga? We will only collect māyā. Then we will suffer, and feel great tension and depression.
This is our identity. This is the result of our exam. Where am I? Why am I disturbed? What is the problem? I do not sing these bhajanas. I do not go near the guru-varga. I never pray. Now I am the founder. I do not need to sing kīrtana. I don’t need to chant harināma. I don’t need darśana of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, because I am now the founder. But what is the founder? What have I found? Am I the founder of māyā? Am I the founder of a sewage plant? This is all useless! Therefore—
choḍata dhana-jana kalatra-suta-mita choḍata karama-geyāna
rādhā-pada paṅkaja madhurata-sevana bhakativinoda paramāṇa
Give up everything and come to the guru-varga! Then your life will be successful. Otherwise, everything is useless, useless, useless, bogus, bogus, bogus. Many people run, I will also run.
Śrīla Gurudeva collected the songs of Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura. He sang these and taught them to his followers.
śrī-guru-caraṇa-padma kevala-bhakati-sadma bando mui sāvadhāna mate
This kīrtana is found in all countries, in all languages. All devotees know and sing this bhajana. This is the prayer of Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura. His love and kindness is all present in his bhajanas. His prema-bhakti will come to us if we sincerely pray daily with his kīrtanas.
Śrīla Gurudeva accepted these bhajanas and gave them to us. Therefore I pray to Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura, Śrīla Gurudeva and the Vaiṣṇavas, “When will that day come when I can pray with the heartfelt love of Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura?”
When Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja was about to enter nitya-līlā, Śrīla Gurudeva was with him and sang—
śrī rūpa mañjarī-pāda, sei mora sampada
In his final pastimes, Śrīla Gurudeva requested this song to be prayed in Jagannātha Purī, Govardhana and Delhi—
śrī rūpa mañjarī-pāda, sei mora sampada,
sei mora bhajana-pūjana
sei mora prāṇa-dhana, sei mora ābharaṇa,
sei mora jīvanera jīvana
If prema-bhakti comes in the heart, people will not lose their heart. But if this prema-bhakti does not come in the heart, then everywhere is only māyā, māyā, māyā, and everything will be lost.
Therefore I request the brahmacārīs to be very humble. They have received this great opportunity and should always be busily engaged in their own spiritual lives. They should not become disturbed over very small matters. They will lose everything. Our program of hari-kathā, kīrtana and everything will become dry. Then māyā will catch and smash us, and everything will be lost.
I do not desire that in this test of Guru-pāda-padma, when he has disappeared from our vision, that we all go the wrong way. I desire that this line always be alive for us. This is only possible if we are always with the guru-varga. If any small insignificant fire comes from outside trying to burn us, we should not take up arms to fight, turning our temples into battle places. If dogs bark—why should we be disturbed? If jackals howl—that is their nature. If anyone insults us, this is not for us; they are insulting themselves. Be very polite and humble. Then you can protect this confidential prema-bhakti, and it will develop more and more and will never be lost.
Offered in remembrance of Śrīla Gurudeva
Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja