Interview with Srila Gurudeva in Murwillumbah, Australia, January 15, 2000
Devotee: I am looking for a guru.
What are the qualities of a good guru – a bona fide guru?
Srila Gurudeva: He knows all sastra – Vedas, Upanisads, and all other Vedic scriptures – and thus he can remove the devotees’ doubts. He has realization of the Supreme Lord, and therefore he is able to transfer Krsna from his own heart to the heart of his disciple. He is quite detached from worldly things, but we cannot see this symptom.
We can understand that a person is able to remove all kinds of doubts by his responses to our inquiries. However, if one can remove doubts but does not personally follow the rules and regulations of bhakti, that person cannot be bona fide guru.
Where is the reporter?
Brajanath dasa: I spoke with him last night. He will be here at 5:30. He said he will meet you this morning at 5:30 or 6:00 o’clock.
Gauracandra dasa: Gurudeva, may I ask a question? Krsna has created the material world so that He can enjoy pastimes of delivering the suffering fallen jivas. He cannot enjoy this pastime in the spiritual world because in the spiritual world no one is suffering. Only in the material world does Krsna have the opportunity to exhibit compassion.
I, a jiva, am suffering in this material world. Does this mean that Krsna doesn’t love me so much? Does it mean that He loves His pastimes of deliverance more than He actually loves me? Does He place the jivas here to suffer just so that He can manifest His pastimes of compassion?
Srila Gurudeva: Krsna can accomplish so many things by one activity. He has come from Goloka Vrndavana to relish the love and affection of the Vrajavasis, especially the gopis, and more especially Radhika. Those who hear all of Krsna’s sweet pastimes with the Vrajavasis will be liberated and develop krsna-prema.
Krsna has also come to establish religious principles:
yada yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati bharata
abhyutthanam adharmasya tadatmanam srjamy aham
paritranaya sadhunam vinasaya ca duskrtam
dharma-samsthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge
Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion, at that time I descend Myself. To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I appear millennium after millennium.
Gauracandra dasa: I am wondering how much Krsna loves me, compared to how much He loves His pastimes. It seems that I have to suffer so that He can be compassionate.
Srila Gurudeva: You cannot realize Krsna’s love at your present stage, but when you have attained the bhakti of Uddhava you will realize that He has so much love and affection for you. He is causelessly merciful. He comes here for so many reasons – about twelve reasons – as I explained yesterday. He comes here to help persons like you.
Do you still have the doubt? Has it not yet been removed?
Gauracandra dasa: I know I am stupid, Gurudeva. I have got so much to realize.
Srila Gurudeva: We cannot imagine Krsna’s love. It is beyond the limit of our mundane knowledge. He is samadarsi, which means that He is equal to all. He comes to this world, but He is not attached to it. One of His names is Ananta, which indicates that He is unlimited.
If you love Him, you will realize, “He loves me.” If you do not love Him, you will think, “He is neglecting me.”
Kamsa thought, “Krsna is my enemy. He is coming to kill me.” But Krsna did not kill him. Rather, Krsna liberated him from all worldly considerations, so that he would no longer commit offences to devotees. So, Krsna is very kind.
Devotee: I suppose this refers to the verse:
ye yatha mam prapadyante tams tathaiva bhajamy aham
mama vartmanuvartante manusyah partha sarvasah
In whatever way My devotees surrender unto Me, I reward them accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Prtha.
Srila Gurudeva: Yes.
Sacinanadana dasa: Can I ask a question? A bhakta once came to Srila Gaura Kisora dasa Babaji, along with his new wife. Srila Gaura Kisora dasa Babaji told him, “Every day you should do puja to your wife.” Is this appropriate for us? And if it is, then how should it be done?
Feeling that he had attained nothing by staying with Babaji Maharaja, a young man left him. Then, after about two weeks he returned to Babaji Maharaja with a beautiful young lady from a wealthy family, whom he had married. He offered pranama to Babaji Maharaja and said, “Babaji Maharaja, I have entered the samsara, the material world. Bhaktivinoda Thakura has written in his Gitavali: ‘krsnera samsara kara chaòi’ anacara – we should give up our offences and perform bhajana as family men.’ Therefore I have collected a krsna-dasi. Please be merciful to her, and to me also, so we can engage in bhajana and have a successful material life as well.”
Babaji Maharaja replied, “You have done so well! I am so pleased! You have collected one krsna-dasi? Then you should do one thing: you should offer puja to this krsna-dasi. Every day you should cook an offering for her, and offer her pranama and some flowers saying, ‘You are a krsna-dasi, and very dear to Sri Krsna.’ But beware. Don’t try to enjoy her, otherwise everything will be destroyed for you and you will descend into hell!
Hearing this, the boy was astonished and was rendered speechless. Frightened, he called his ‘krsna-dasi’ and quickly left. Was deceiving Babaji Maharaja an easy thing? It was not possible to deceive him. (Taken from Srila Gurudeva’s Prabandhavali, Chapter Five. This indented quote has been added by the editors)
Srila Gurudeva: You can daily wash her feet and then take her foot-bathing water on your head. (With sarcasm) You can pray like this, “Oh devi, be kind to me.” And if she beats you, you should say, “O devi, I am now satisfied.”
Madhusudana dasa: Gurudeva, there are two things necessary to advance in bhakti; sadhana, devotional practice, and guru-krpa, the mercy of guru. If I have these, do I require any separate effort to develop raganuga-bhakti? Or, does it appear spontaneously?
Srila Gurudeva: When your guru manifests his mercy upon you, he will pray to Krsna for you. Krsna knows everything, so He will be very kind. His heart will melt, and He will have mercy upon you so that you will attain success.
Madhusudana dasa: I don’t have to make any special effort to develop raganuga?
Srila Gurudeva: Both are needed; sadhana must be performed.
When Yasoda was trying to bind Krsna, she vowed, “I will bind Him, otherwise I will not eat anything.” Perspiring, sometimes she was thinking, “What is this?! I am not binding Him?? Oh Narayana, Narayana! I must bind my son!” Seeing her great determination, Krsna at once allowed Himself to be bound, merely by the rope that tied her hair.
drsöva parisramaà krsnah
Because of mother Yaçoda’s hard labor, her whole body became covered with perspiration, and the flowers and comb were falling from her hair. When child Krsna saw His mother thus fatigued, He became merciful to her and agreed to be bound.
Sripad Nemi Maharaja: So we should just meditate, “Narayana, Narayana, Narayana.”
Srila Gurudeva: Without Narayana, our destination cannot be reached.
Sripad Sudhadvaiti Maharaja: Without Narayana Maharaja, there is no destination.
Sripad Nemi Maharaja: Srila Gurudeva, if we remember slokas from Sri Vilapa-kusumanjali while we are chanting harinama, is this like remembering Krsna’s pastimes, or is it like remembering asta-kaliya-lila?
Srila Gurudeva: You can think as you like. Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami has given asta-kaliya lila in Vilapa-kusumanjali, but in brief. It is all right to think in this way.
Aristastana dasa: Gurudeva, every day we are chanting in the song Sri Guru-carana-padma, “Janme janme prabhu sei (Sri guru is my lord, birth after birth).” Is it that we are only starting to serve Gurudeva in this life and that it will now go on forever, or have we already started in past lives?
Srila Gurudeva: Some have performed bhakti in previous lives, and some are newcomers. Regarding those who are now advanced, they have performed devotional activities in past lives. Regarding those who don’t know much about bhakti, but are beginning to develop sraddha by hearing from bona fide Vaisnavas, they are new. It may also be true that some persons have accrued sukrti in previous lives, from having previously accepted a guru and are now joining again, but they may not be very sincere, whereas a new devotee may advance more quickly if he is sincere.
Kamala-kanta dasa: Srila Gurudeva, one of your preachers once said that bhakti cannot be checked by any material cause. What does it really mean?
Srila Gurudeva: What do you mean by ‘material cause’?
Kamala-kanta dasa: Well, entanglement in the material world.
Srila Gurudeva: If someone is helping his gurudeva by giving a great deal of money, and if his gurudeva really spends this money on book publication, temples, and service to guru and all other Vaisnavas, then, although that money is material and some sin may have been committed by various donors, it will help in that person’s development of bhakti. Do you understand?
A flower and water are material, but when offered to Thakuraji they become transcendental.
Prakasatma dasa: Yesterday you were speaking in your class about Ananta Vasudeva. [See endnote 1] I am wondering; when the maha-purusa (self-realized acarya) leaves this world, is it usual that his mission goes into chaos?
Srila Gurudeva: Not necessarily. If one is like Ananta Vasudeva, then for him it will be chaos. After our Gurudeva departed from this world, even after over forty years, we have remained fixed in his devotion. On the other hand, anyone who is engaged in nonsense activities and offenses must suffer in chaos. By serving one’s gurudeva with visvambhena-guru-seva (intimacy) one very quickly develops krsna-prema, but if one commits offenses he goes to Rasatala (the lowest planetary system).
There is a sloka in sastra which states that if the root of the lotus is situated in the water, it blossoms under the sun. If there is no water, however, that same lotus will wilt and dry up.
Sripad Madhava Maharaja:
narayano ‘pi vikrtim yati guroh pracyutasya durbuddheh
kamalam jalad apetam sosayati ravir na posayati
When a lotus flower is situated in water, the rays of the sun cause it to blossom. The same sun, however, will wither a lotus which is not situated in water. In this example the disciple is compared to the lotus, Sri Guru to water, and the Supreme Lord to the sun.
Prakasatma dasa: So we have to pray to the guru that he will always be…
Srila Gurudeva: Guru is the root of bhakti. Guru, Vaisnava, and sadhu are the roots. A sadhu is able to describe to us the glory of gurudeva, because he himself is guru.
Devotee: I have a question. We know that sri guru’s position in Krsna-lila is as a manjari. What is his position in Caitanya-lila?
Srila Gurudeva: What do you mean by ‘manjari’?
Devotee: I don’t know.
Srila Gurudeva: It was for all of you that I spoke about raganuga and related topics in my class. Don’t jump to the top. Begin from the bottom, not from manjari-bhava, otherwise you’ll be…
Sripad Madhava Maharaja: He is not asking what is guru’s manjari form in Radha-Krsna’s pastimes…
Srila Gurudeva: What does he want to know?
Sripad Madhava Maharaja: He wants to know what is the form of guru in Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s pastimes?
Srila Gurudeva: It is better that you desire to know how your anarthas will disappear, and how your sambandha-jnana (relationship) with Krsna will strengthen. Don’t go beyond that. You are new, so where have you heard about manjari-bhava? Perhaps someone has told you that you are a manjari? It is best not to think about this at your stage.
Sripad Suddhadvaiti Maharaja: Srila Gurudeva, Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja used to say that sraddha (implicit faith that by performing bhakti all other subsidiary activities are automatically accomplished) and sukrti (spiritual credits accrued by performance of bhakti in previous lives) are interrelated; they are linked. We hear that according to previous sukrti we get sadhu-sanga; still, all of us Westerners took birth in the families of cow-eaters. Is that the reason why it is seen that the sraddha of most Westerners remains kamala (soft and pliable) for a very long time?
Srila Gurudeva: It may be; it may be.
Sripad Suddhadvaiti Maharaja: We had accumulated sukrti, but still we took birth in the families of mlecchas.
Srila Gurudeva: Yes.
Sripad Suddhadvaiti Maharaja: So, how much sukrti was there?
Srila Gurudeva: We think that Western persons live in bhoga-bhumi.
Sripad Madhava Maharaja: The place of enjoying material life.
Srila Gurudeva: Not sadhana-bhumi (the place of sadhana-bhakti). But now, by the grace of a maha-purusa (self-realized soul), they are coming in the devotional line.
Sripad Suddhadvaiti Maharaja: But their sukrti is meager?
Srila Gurudeva: It may be that their sukrti is okay. Otherwise, how is it that they are now becoming advanced? Padmanabha Maharaja and all others here were cow-eaters, but just see the transformation. See how they have become advanced.
Sripad Nemi Maharaja: His question is: If we had the sukrti to get the sanga of a very beautiful sadhu, then why did we take birth in the family of cow-eaters? It seems strange that both would be there?
Srila Gurudeva: But now you do not take cow-meat; do you?
One more point: Even if you would have eaten cow-meat throughout your life, but in the end of your life, by the mercy of Krsna or guru and Vaisnavas you have chanted only a few holy names, then all your sins will go away.
Have you read about the pastime of Ajamila? He not only ate meat, but he engaged in numerous abominable sinful activities. Still, all his sins disappeared by chanting nama-abhasa (a semblance of the pure holy name of Lord Narayana). So, there is nothing to fear or worry.
Sripad Padmanabha Maharaja: Can it also be possible that someone was a devotee in his previous life, but he then committed some heavy vaisnava-aparadha was then cursed to take birth in some bhoga-bhumi, or in some family of cow-eaters? Is that also possible?
Srila Gurudeva: It may be; it may be. If one commits guru-aparadha, he must get some sinful result.
Srila Gurudeva: (To Jiva-pavana dasa) When will you take sannyasa? Or, will you remain married throughout your life?
Jiva-pavana dasa: I am waiting for your order.
Srila Gurudeva: Your son is already a sannyasi, but you are still now where you were before.
Jiva-pavana dasa: I have a three year plan but you can make it three weeks if you like.
Devotee: I would like to ask about Vraja-prema. What are the rasas included in Vraja-prema?
Srila Gurudeva: There are twelve rasas in Vraja, but the main ones are three: sakhya (friendship), vatsalya (parent-hood), and madhurya (amorous love). Santa is present there, but it is covered. It does not manifest.
[I will tell you a story about Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasavti Gosvami Thakura. He had two disciples, named Ananta Vasudeva and Sundarananda, who were both very brilliant and had sharp memories. They both served him, and at that time they were controlled by his influence.
After Srila Prabhupada left this world, they became ‘guideless,’ and no one could control them. Ananta Vasudeva became the President of the Gaudiya Mathas all over India and also took sannyasa. However, after some time he and Sundarananda began to think, “Our Gurudeva, Srila Prabhupada, was not qualified to give siddha-deha (one’s perfect spiritual form) and manjari-bhava. He has not indicated that he will give that to us. It is better to have another guru, and retake diksa from him.”
Criticizing Srila Prabhupada in so many ways, they both went to a babaji of Navadvipa, took shelter of him, and received [so-called] siddha-bhava from him. They threw the books of Srila Prabhupada, such as Srimad-Bhagavatam and Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, in the Ganges River, and did other very nonsense things with those books. What became of them as a result of criticizing their Gurudeva and disobeying him? Lust came in their hearts and they could not check it.
Ananta Vasudeva gave up his sannyasa asrama and married a lady, and then he went to Vrndavana to engage in bhajana. He was hosted at the Radha-ramana Gosvami temple, where the Radha-Ramana Gosvami eventually took all the property and gold that he had collected from his disciples. The Gosvami also took away all the books that he had printed and expelled him from his house.
Ananta Vasudeva eventually became so depressed that he took poison and died, and his disciples took him in the night and gave him [so-called] samadhi. And what became of Sundarananda? At last he became totally mad, at which time he began smearing his own stool all over his body.
We should be very careful about guru-aparadha. (July 9, 2007, Srila Gurudeva’s evening class)]
[When Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada entered his unmanifest pastimes, the Gauòiya Maöha became divided over who would be the next acarya. Ananta Vasudeva was nominated, but in time it was seen that he was not qualified. Many devotees asked my Guru Maharaja what to do, and he told them that if a guru is fallen he should be given up, and a bona fide guru accepted instead. If a disciple does not realize that his guru is unqualified at the time of diksa but finds out later, he should reject that person and accept a real guru. If one’s diksa-guru is unable to give pure bhakti, then one should humbly ask his permission to take shelter of a qualified çiksa-guru. However, if the disciple is refused permission, then he must conclude that this so-called guru is selfish and worldly-minded, and should therefore be rejected. (Srila Gurudeva’s Prabandhavali, Chapter Six)]
[Srila Gurudeva: After Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, there was a person named Ananta Vasudeva. He was very qualified, but he became charmed by a lady devotee and left his sannyasa. He married, after which many devotees became against him and said, “Now you should enter family life. This behavior is like that of a dog who eats something and again vomits it.” At that time he was very powerful. He had money and so many disciples, and he began to torture his god-brothers, the disciples of Srila Bhaktisiddanta Sarasvati Thakura, who opposed him.
Satyarupa dasi: What was the cause of the friction?
Srila Gurudeva: It came about because he was attracted to his own lady-disciple and married her. His god-brothers told him that in Srimad-Bhagavatam and other scriptures it is written that such behavior is not a good thing for Vaisnavism. They said, “You should go with her, and you should vacate your position as acarya.” Everyone turned against him. He was at that time very wealthy and had a great deal of power, but his god-brothers left him and established their own mathas here and there.