Towards the end of June, Śrīla Gurudeva visited Hawaii for the first me, staying in Oahu and Maui. On the morning of June 28, Śrīla Gurudeva spoke on the essence of all Vedic scriptures and the literature of the Gosvāmīs.
“The Vedic literature is like an endless ocean,” Gurudeva said. “The books of our Gosvāmīs are also very expanse, like an ocean. It is very difficult to take the abstract of all these in an hour. But I will make an attempt to do so. The essence of all the epics, Vedas, Upaniṣads, and scriptures was given by Caitanya Mahāprabhu in the Śikṣāṣṭakam. Everything is present in the Śikṣāṣṭakam, even more than what is in the Vedas. e Śikṣāṣṭakam is the essence of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Gītā, and all other scriptures. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī understood the essence of all because Caitanya Mahāprabhu inspired everything in his heart at Prayāga; He inspired in his heart all the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, and even what has not been given in the Bhāgavatam—the moods of Rādhikā. Mahāprabhu inspired knowledge of what is love in all its stages: sneha, māna, praṇaya, rāga, anurāga, bhāva, mahābhāva, as well as all their symptoms. Mahāprabhu told Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, ‘Gopī-prema is the object of all love; the gopīs’ prema is the topmost love. To serve the gopīs is the topmost goal of our devotion. First we must fix the object of life, the object of our devotional activities, then we should know what practice to follow so that we can attain our goal.
“Caitanya Mahāprabhu taught three things: sambandha, abhideya, and prayojana—in other words: the relation with Kṛṣṇa, how to achieve kṛṣṇa-prema, and the nature of kṛṣṇa-prema. The aim of our life is the love and affection in the hearts of the gopīs, especially in Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s sakhīs. This is our goal, as expressed by Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has described the process to attain this goal: ādau śraddhā tataḥ sādhu-saṅgo, tato anartha-nivṛtti, tato niṣṭhā ruci āsakti bhāva, and after that prema. In this world we can progress only to rati or bhāva. There can be no prema in this world. And one cannot achieve this very quickly in one birth or two or three or four. We can attain this only by the special causeless mercy of Kṛṣṇa, Caitanya Mahāprabhu, and His associates.
“First we should understand śraddhā. There is no restriction that only someone in ISKCON can achieve śraddhā. We can attain śraddhā anywhere in this world. Śrīla Svāmī Mahārāja came to give this śraddhā—which is the seed of bhakti—freely to all people without discrimination. This is not different from the mission of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Prabhupāda and Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī. It is not something new. He said that śraddhā is the firm belief in your Gurudeva, and that by doing kṛṣṇa-bhakti your life will be successful forever. He said that, by chanting, remembering, and meditating on Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes, we can attain perfection. From śraddhā, again sādhu-saṅga will be there, association with any high-class Vaiṣṇava. And then you’ll think, ‘I must accept initiation from a bona fide guru.’ And if you do not do so, you will be deprived of bhakti. You must accept initiation from a bona fide guru. The symptom of a genuine guru has been described in all scriptures, especially in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.3.21). There, the symptoms of a guru are given:
tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta jijjṇāsuḥ śreya uttamam
śābde pare ca niṣṇātaṁ brahmaṇy upaśamjāśrayam
“There are three symptoms of sad-guru: one is internal and two are external. To know all the śāstras and be able to remove all kinds of doubts from others is one of the external symptoms. To be detached from all worldly desires and sense gratification is the other external symptom. What is the internal symptom? There must be some realization of kṛṣṇa-prema; he must have love for Kṛṣṇa. If the two external symptoms are there in a person, but the internal symptom is lacking, then one should not accept him as a guru. But if the internal symptom is there, and something lacks in the external, then we can accept him and it will be favorable for our spiritual life. If he lacks some knowledge of śāstra, there is no harm. But it is absurd to think that someone may have love for Kṛṣṇa, but no knowledge of the scriptures; śāstra–jñāna will run behind that person. Whatever that person does will be śāstra. A guru should be like that. A real guru never falls—never, never, never. Imitator gurus are always falling; but really there is nowhere for them to fall, because they are already fallen. Such a false guru never had niṣṭhā. If he had niṣṭhā he would never fall down.”
Śrīla Gurudeva then said, “Caitanya Mahāprabhu mercifully descended to give this gopi-prema through nāma-saṅkīrtanam. If you want to practice the process to attain this goal, then you will have to follow Rūpa Gosvami, as described in this verse:
smṛṭyoḥ krameṇa rasanā-manasī niyojya
tiṣṭhan vraje tad-anurāgi-janānugāmī
kālaṁ nayed akhilam ity upadeśa-sāram
After asking a devotee to read Śrīla Prabhupāda’s translation and purport of this verse, Śrīla Gurudeva said, “We must do su-kīrtana of Kṛṣṇa’s nāma, rūpa, guṇa, and līlā. There are so many names of Kṛṣṇa:
he kṛṣṇa karunā-sindho dīna-bandho jagat-pate
gopeśa gopikā-kānta rādhā-kānta namo ‘stu te
‘O Supreme Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, You are an ocean of kindness. You are the friend of the destitute, Lord of the world, Lord of the gopās, beloved consort of the gopīs, and the most beloved consort of Rādhā. I pay my innumerable obeisances to Your lotus feet.’
“Of these names, Gopikā-kānta is superior to the previous, because Kṛṣṇa is controlled by the gopīs. But still, something is missing there: Rādhā-kānta namo stute. This is supreme. ‘O Kṛṣṇa, You are controlled by Rādhā.’ Hearing this, Kṛṣṇa is satisfied. So, these names are gradually superior.”
Śrīla Gurudeva next beautifully described how Kṛṣṇa disappeared from the Rāsa dance, how the gopīs searched for Him and sang the Gopī-gīta, and finally how Kṛṣṇa reappeared and confessed His undying love for the gopīs; how He felt He could never repay them, and that He had only disappeared to reveal their glories to the world.
Finally, Śrīla Gurudeva concluded his lecture, saying, “You should remember these pastimes with a melted heart and weep incessantly, while chanting:
Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare
Hare Rāma Hare Rāma Rāma Rāma Hare Hare
“If you can progress to this stage of chanting, you will forget when night began and when day started. You will chant constantly, oblivious of the world. This is the process. We must chant and remember these things. But you should be where all these pastimes were performed, in Vṛndāvana, where the Yamunā is still gently flowing, or at Govardhana, or Rādhā-kuṇḍa. If you can’t be there physically, then stay there in your mind. Now, even after five thousand years, the trees are waiting for Kṛṣṇa; they are eagerly waiting, feeling, ‘When will Kṛṣṇa come?’
And they are lying on the ground in separation, offering daṇḍavata-praṇāma. So, be situated there. But still only this will not do; something more is required. A very rasika-tattvajña Vaiṣṇava should be there, and in his guidance you should chant and remember. Then your entire energy can be absorbed in bhajana and that kind of prema, gopī-prema, may come in your heart. This is the essence of all the teachings of the Vedas, Upaniṣads, the Gosvāmīs’ literature, and all scripture. In brief I have described this.”
On June 29 Śrīla Gurudeva flew to Maui, where he sweetly spoke for a few days on Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes in Vraja. From 1998 forward, Śrīla Gurudeva annually visited Oahu and other islands in Hawaii, and spent extra time there, without a large festival, to focus on his writing. The environment in Hawaii especially reminded Śrīla Gurudeva of Vraja, with its beautiful gardens, forests, fruits, flowers, and temperate weather. In Oahu, Śrīla Gurudeva stayed in the beach house of Vṛndāvana Prabhu. The house had a wonderful garden. Gurudeva’s servants would pick fruits, flowers, and vegetables from the garden, and use them to cook for and worship the Deities. Seeing the devotees engaged in services in the garden and kitchen, it reminded Gurudeva of mañjarīs arranging cooking for Kṛṣṇa under the guidance of Śrīmatī Rādhikā.
From Hawaii, Śrīla Gurudeva returned to India for the main annual festivals of Guru-pūrṇimā, Jhulan-Yātrā, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī’s disappearance festival, Baladeva-pūrṇimā, Janmāṣṭamī, and Rādhāṣṭamī.
Srila Gurudeva ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Sri Guru Darshan”. Available from: firstname.lastname@example.org )