Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura explains: When you serve Gurudeva, many demigods will come and try to make you fall down. They will try to break and destroy you, pulling you away from guru-sevā. They will try to make you lose your guru-bhakti. Why? The demons very faithfully followed Śukrācārya and became very strong, being able to defeat all the demigods. The demigods then plotted to destroy the guru-bhakti of the demons and were victorious. If anyone follows Gurudeva and has guru-bhakti, the demigods will try to break this. Because if one has guru-bhakti, he will be very strong, unconquerable. If anyone has guru-niṣṭhā, even if his nature is like a demon, or he is third-class, by guru-niṣṭhā and guru-sevā, the potency of svarūpa-śakti will come to him and no one will be able to conquer him. Therefore, when one starts guru-sevā, the demigods will come in many guises to stop one. They think, “If he continues, he will cross beyond us and go to Goloka Vṛndāvana.” They are jealous and try to kick one away from guru-sevā. If you have any weakness or selfishness, you will lose your guru-sevā and niṣṭhā and go far away from Guru-pāda-padma. We must be very careful.

Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura further explains, “Don’t give the seat of your own guru to any other person.” If the entire Guru-varga is present before you, up to Lord Brahmā, still, if your own Śrī Guru is directly before you, offer praṇāma first to him. If he so instructs you, then offer praṇāma to Param Gurudeva, Parameṣṭhī-guru, Parātpara-guru, Paramparātpara-guru, and the Guru-varga. If he so instructs you, then serve Gaurāṅga Mahāprabhu, Nityānanda Prabhu, or Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. Don’t do anything independently; otherwise, you will go far away from Śrī Guru. Because of independent desire, all living entities have fallen in this material world, going very far away from Kṛṣṇa. Now, if having been so fortunate to come to Śrī Guru the sādhaka do anything independently, again they will go far away from him. Who then will take care of them? Who will be their guardian?

Upon coming to Śrī Guru and offering oneself, he gives the mantra to chant. By chanting this mantra, one will develop a good relation with Śrī Guru. Guru’s mercy will continuously help one. While chanting guru-mantra every morning, worship Śrī Guru. Remember how he puts on tilaka, takes ācamana, chants āhnika, and so forth. Offer him flowers, Tulasī, sandal paste, water to bathe with, an āsana to sit on, a toothbrush and all necessary paraphernalia. Bathe and dress him, and offer him something to eat. If one doesn’t perform dadāti-pratigṛhṇāti, giving and taking with love, then no relationship is established.

dadāti pratigṛhṇāti guhyam ākhyāti pṛcchati

bhuṅkte bhojayate caiva ṣaḍ-vidhaṁ prīti-lakṣaṇam

Upadeśāmṛta 433

Offering pure bhaktas things in accordance with their needs and accepting gifts or remnant items given by them; revealing to them one’s heart-felt realizations concerning bhakti and asking from them about their confidential realizations; honoring with love the prasāda given by them and lovingly serving them prasāda—these are the six kinds of association that characterize love and affection.

These are the six symptoms of love. The sādhaka must daily first serve Guru-pāda-padma. This is favorable. On the other side, don’t perform any unfavorable action. Don’t sit on guru’s seat or bed, don’t take guru’s bhoga, and, without guru’s desire, don’t independently go anywhere or do anything. Don’t make a relation with any of his sevakas more than Śrī Guru. Then both the sevaka and sādhaka will go far from guru. Also, don’t read many books like novels, or anything opposed to scripture. Any book that Śrī Guru recommends is favorable for the disciple.

Jāhāra prasāde bhāi, e bhava toriyā jāi—Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura prays, By the mercy of Guru-pāda-padma, one can cross over the fearsome ocean of material existence. After one has surrendered to a Divine Master, and then, another guru comes, will one offer him respect or not? Are they not ācāryas and Vaiṣṇavas? Offer respect to all, but never forget or leave your Śrī Guru. Pray to the Vaiṣṇavas for faith in Śrī Guru. You can judge the quality of a Vaiṣṇava by how much he increases your love and faith for Śrī Guru.Never disrespect any devotee or Vaiṣṇava. Don’t forget this.

hoiyāchena hoibena prabhura jata dāsa

sabāra caraṇa vandoṅ dante kori’ ghāsa

Vaiṣṇava-vandana

Placing a straw between my teeth, I pray at the feet of all the servants of Mahāprabhu that were or will be.

Any Vaiṣṇavas that are present today, that were before, and that will come in the future, offer them obeisances with a straw in your teeth, meaning, with a humble mood. Don’t think that Vaiṣṇavas and great ācāryas were only present in the past and that now there are no Vaiṣṇavas, and in the future there will be no Vaiṣṇavas. Mahāprabhu’s line will never stop. Many ācāryas came before and many will come in the future. One ācārya said he would come one hundred times for one devotee. Mahāprabhu said He would take birth in three places. Anywhere His Deity is present and being worshipped, anywhere His devotees are performing nāma-saṅkīrtana, and anywhere a devotee continuously remembers Him, He will appear in their hearts. Their tongues will be His mother and He will be present as harināma. Mahāprabhu, Guru-pāda-padma, and the Vaiṣṇavas are always present.

One time one devotee asked Śrīla Gurudeva, “Oh, many new people have come who are very young, but you instruct your seniors to respect all.”

“Yes. The young devotees are not junior, the senior is junior. He has started bhajana from the age of five or six, having practiced for a hundred years in his past life. Therefore he has taste for bhajana from the age of five. But he who is sixty with no taste for bhajana is junior to he who is five, because he has been practicing bhajana for 105 years. Therefore respect everyone. In his previous life he was a big ācārya, therefore he has taste for bhajana, prasādam, kīrtana, and everything. But you have no love for anything, therefore you are old, cold, and dry like straw or a wood trunk. New trees, new branches, flowers and fruits are with him, hence he is senior and great.”

How can one understand this? Yahara prasāde bhai? How can I cross māyā if I have no respect for Vaiṣṇavas? If I believe there are no Vaiṣṇavas or devotees, who will protect me? Our Guru-varga have told, “They are all my vipadauddhāraṇa-bāndhava, friends who help me in a dangerous time.”

The devotees protect us by keeping us engaged in kīrtana and hari-kathā. Otherwise Māyā-devī will catch us and make us like Śiva Ṭhākura’s dumuru drum. She will play with us like dolls. Guru-pāda-padma sends Vaiṣṇavas to protect us. They are respected and not ordinary. They are my respected helpers. Therefore we see in the lives of our Guru-varga that when any Vaiṣṇavas would come, they would offer them praṇāma and say, ‘dāso smi,’ ‘I am your servant.’

Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura prayed, ‘yahara prasāde pai ei bhāva toriya jai,’ by Śrī Guru’s mercy we can cross māyā and overcome our anarthas stocked and balanced over millions of lives. But crossing all this will be very easy by Śrī Guru’s mercy. Don’t take any other’s prasāda, or mercy. Only wait for guru’s mercy. Be one-pointed to Śrī Guru-pāda-padma. Then he will arrange where you should stay, what you should do, how to maintain yourself, what to eat, and everything.

If anyone performs guru-pūjā, very easily one will realize everything by the mercy of the Divine Master. One will cross māyā by the prasāda, the mercy, of guru. He will meet with Kṛṣṇa and His family, and will be active and able for eternal service. All good qualities will be given by Kṛṣṇa.

Within the instructions of Śrī Guru all of Kṛṣṇa’s potency is present and by following these instructions the disciple will be connected to svarūpa-śakti. Once this connection is made it will not be possible to separate one’s self. This svarūpa-śakti, which is invested with guru’s instruction, will constantly attract and pull the disciple near, and inspire him to perform sādhana. By the power of this śakti all obstacles preventing progress of the sādhaka will be destroyed and nothing will disturb him. So a disciple should have full faith in Gurudeva and follow his instructions. Then the disciple will be fearless and unaffected by any hindrances, like Prahlāda Mahārāja was completely unfazed by the attacks of his father Hiraṇyakaśipu.

Guru-pāda-padma is vātsalya-mātri-koṭi, his affection for his own followers is more than that of millions of mothers. He arranges to take care of all his followers.

How will anarthas go? Guru-sevā is the only way. A mother always has love for her children, even if they are dirty. She will wash, clean, and dress them, massage and take them in her lap—she always cares for her children. Any child without a mother is called an orphan. No one looks after him. Kṛṣṇa told in the Bhagavad-gītā (9.31), kaunteya pratijānīhi na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati. Take care of My devotees, they are not fallen. Protect them.

Guru-pāda-padma arranges the family of Vaiṣṇavas for his disciples to stay in. In the guidance of Vaiṣṇavas, one can continuously serve Guru-pāda-padma. Then, how can anarthas come?

Kṛṣṇa-premarasa, vraja-rasa, and so forth, comes by the mercy of Śrī Guru. How is bhakti-yogī the highest? Realization will come of this. Then, in Vṛndāvana, the mañjarīs and Vraja-devīs will call that qualified gurusevaka. They will give one entrance into the service of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. The Vraja-devīs check to see who is completely following and serving Guru-pāda-padma with one-pointed love.

Prasāda means mercy, but this is not enough; it is not the complete meaning. Guru-prasāda means all the devotees with Śrī Guru. They are his prasāda, his remnants, his mercy is present with them. If you don’t respect Vaiṣṇavas and don’t serve them but, rather, you always fight with them, abuse and insult them, then Gurudeva will not be happy with you, God will not be happy. Guru’s prasāda is with those who have love for Guru-pāda-padma, therefore respect and serve everyone appropriately.

How should one serve? If any godbrother or godsister comes to you, if you are qualified, you can distribute Śrī Guru’s teachings to them. If you have an āsana, then give them a seat. If you have water, give them water. If you have any food or place to reside, give that. If you have nothing, then at least speak sweetly, not duplicitously or bitterly and with a fighting mentality. Endeavor to tolerate everything. If you have patience, you can conquer over everything. E bhava toriyā jāi—if you accept and have a relationship with Śrī Guru’s prasāda, you will cross māyā and never have any problem in life. All will bless you, and give you mercy and help. You will then never be afraid.

Kṛṣṇa-prāpti hoya jāhā ha’te—This is not too much of a headache. Why will one go to Kṛṣṇa? What is necessary then? Kṛṣṇa is sarva akarsaka, all-attractive. He is raso vai sah. When we have imbibed kṛṣṇa-rasa, we will not run here and there for jaḍarasa, mundane mellows.

If anyone deeply hears and remembers Prema-bhakticandrikā, he will never go away from Śrī Guru-pāda-padma. Guru-pāda-padma is always present. If God is always present and never dies, then God’s representatives and family members are also present and never die. Śrīla Gurudeva is watching what we are doing, seeing if we are remembering him or not, how much relation we have with him. Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura, and all our parakīya guru-paramparā teach us to follow guru-bhakti.

Gurubhakti is first, and then one can understand the dhāma and perform parikramā. If one has no relation with Śrī Guru, then one is an orphan. Māyā will smash you and throw you in the garbage. Śrīla Gurudeva alone does parikramā and he carries everyone along with him. I heard this from him many times. Gurubhakti is therefore most important.

By staying with Vaiṣṇavas, attaining Kṛṣṇa is very easy, very easy. But no guru-prasāda, then no Kṛṣṇa.

How does guru help us attain Kṛṣṇa? Guru-pāda-padma gives citjñāna. By going to sad-guru, one will realize that all one’s knowledge and qualities from this world are worthless. Understanding this, one will become free of false pride and offer praṇāma, surrendering to Śrī Guru. Śrī Guru has this power to steal away false pride.

Nityānanda Prabhu begged door to door on the order of Mahāprabhu, begging people for their anarthas and bad karma.

Prahlāda Mahārāja prayed to Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva, “Prabhu, the living entities have so many anarthas, give them all to me. I will suffer life after life in hell, but please bestow prema-bhakti on all the living entities.”

“You have defeated Me,” Nṛsiṁhadeva said. “I cannot bestow this. But if anyone remembers you, taking your shelter, I will free him from all suffering and bestow pure devotion.”

The Guru-varga take away all anarthas and false pride. Then the jīvas offer praṇāma. The mood of the ignorant jīvas is very strange. They cheat themselves, but think they are cheating others. They follow dharma, artha, kāma, and mokṣa for their own selfishness, not for the service of God. If they come to sad-guru, he will engage them in the eternal service of Lord Kṛṣṇa. They will then not serve the body, mind and senses, and will not follow any mundane person’s footsteps.

They will not be concerned if anyone is pleased with them or not, being one-pointed to God. No more problems can come to them. Why? They are careless and fearless. What can ordinary people give, take, or think? They are very small-minded misers. If they are angry, what is the problem for me? If they curse me, it will not have any effect.

Like the brāhmaṇas cursed Mahāprabhu, “You will have no money.”

“Yes, good,” Mahāprabhu said. “I am very happy.”

“Your family life will be destroyed!”

“This is even better.”

This is very favorable for sādhakas. If someone curses a sādhaka to lose all his worldly possessions, this is actually a blessing, and he should be very happy. This is not a curse; it is a boon.

The bhakta is not concerned about dharma, artha, kāma, and mokṣa. My friends at present, the senses and mind, always try to defeat and enjoy me. If I follow them, they are happy; otherwise, they become disturbed.

The forms, touches, tastes, sounds, and smells of this world are not able to attract the bhakta. His attachment to the body will become less and less, and finally, it will be completely finished. The body will remain like a temple of God. One will clean and maintain the body like a temple, but one’s relationship will be with God; as in a temple, the center of all activity is the Deity. When one is active in the service of God in one’s spiritual body, then the physical body will habitually be maintained without the necessity of great endeavor.

Those who have deep attachment to the body suffer greatly. Māyā punishes them to help them come out of illusion.

kṛṣṇa bhuli’ sei jīva anādi-bahirmukha

ataeva māyā tāre deya saṁsāra-duḥkha

Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 20.117

Forgetting Kṛṣṇa, the living beings have been attracted by His external potency from time immemorial. Therefore, māyā gives them all types of suffering within material existence.

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

In this way the baddha-jīva becomes the slave of lusty desires, and when these are not fulfilled, he becomes the servant of anger and continues to be kicked by māyā. Continuously moving throughout the universe, he may by chance meet a sādhu physician, whose instructions and prayers make the witch of māyā run away. The conditioned soul thus comes into contact with bhakti for Kṛṣṇa, and in this way he can go near Kṛṣṇa.

The living entities have forgotten their real responsibility. They run, jump, catch, hold, and embrace everything mundane with a desire for sense enjoyment. When one forcibly steals and tries to enjoy God’s property, then punishment will surely come.

When one understands this and offers himself to Guru-pāda-padma, Śrī Guru bestows spiritual vision and the sādhaka realizes everything. His disease of looking at everything as objects of his sense enjoyment is cured, as he understands, “I am the servant of God, and all jīvas and objects of this world are the property of God.”

First we offer praṇāma to Śrī Guru, who removes our illusion. Always remember and pray with this verse, oṁ ajñāna timirandhasya. Then, being with Guru-pāda-padma, you will never have any problem.

By praying to Gurudeva, how can we understand if his blessings are with us or not? Our Guru-varga pray, “Vande guroḥ śrī caraṇāravindam.”

Pray to Śrīla Gurudeva, submissively inquire from him, and endeavor to follow any advice he gives. Don’t do anything without his permission.

Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī met with Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu at Rāma Keli, then at Prayāga, learning everything from the Lord. Later he met with Mahāprabhu in Jagannātha Purī.

Mahāprabhu begged all the Vaiṣṇavas, “Please give him some mercy and blessings.”

In this way, when any devotee comes to Guru-pāda-padma for dīkṣā or harināma, Gurudeva begins a great fire ceremony. In that yajña, Śrī Guru offers, “Svāhā, svāhā! rūpa-mañjaryaī svāhā, lavaṅga-mañjaryaī svāhā,” and so forth. Śrī Guru offers one to Subala, Śrīdāma, Dāma, Vasudāma, Mahāprabhu, Advaita Prabhu, the entire Guru-paramparā, and all the associates of Kṛṣṇa. Śrī Guru requests God’s family, “Please help this soul.”

In the beginning of this book, Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura wrote:

śrī caitanya mano’bhīṣṭaṁ sthāpitaṁ yena bhūtale

svayaṁ rūpaḥ kadā mahyaṁ dadāti sva-padāntikam

When will Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī give me shelter at his lotus feet? Because he realized Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s innermost-desire he was able to establish his mission in this world and is very dear to the Lord.

Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu fulfilled the heart’s desires of Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Mahāprabhu desired to explain the glories and specialties of the Vraja-devīs to the living entities. Understanding their glories, the jīvas would accept shelter of the gopīs and mañjarīs, who would then take care of them. God and His incarnations never accept unqualified jīvas. Mañjarīs and Vraja-devīs are very kind, soft and sweet. They are also very simple and do not become upset if anyone disrespects them.

Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu wrote about the specialties of the Vraja-devīs in all of his books. How will perfection in prema-bhakti come? The final goal of life is pure love for God. To achieve this highest attainment, one must follow the process of bhakti-yoga. This begins with guru-pādaśraya, as described by Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu, and then kṛṣṇadīkṣā. After dīkṣā, there is śikṣā, and then viśrambheṇa-guru-sevā.

This doesn’t mean to serve Gurudeva for one or two days or years. Many people worship Śiva, praying, “Oṁ namo śivāya,” and after six months or a year, they chant, “śivo ’ham, śivo ’ham,” I am Śiva. Kālī then says, “Before you worshipped Śiva, and now you want to be my husband Śiva?” She will then take her sword and cut off the head of that rascal and throw him out to jackals and dogs.

First one follows guru-pādāśraya, dīkṣā and śikṣā, and then, when a little power comes, you say, “I am guru, I am Sadguru Bhagavān.” Now you are no longer a servant. You claim to be master of the whole world, jagad-guru. “Your identity is guru-dāsa.”

“No! I am oṁ viṣṇupāda parivrājaka ācārya, brahma-līn, aṣṭottara-śata!You have many nicknames and surnames. If any Vaiṣṇava comes before us, we should pray, “I am your servant.”

If this conception of being the master comes to the sādhaka, he will fall down and down, along with his entire party. Why? He did not take shelter of guru. Guru is Nityānanda Prabhu and all the Vaiṣṇavas. They have the self-conception, “I am dāsa.”

Mahāprabhu Himself said:

maj-janmanaḥ phalam idaṁ madhu-kaiṭabhāre

mat-prārthanīya-mad-anugraha eṣa eva

tvad-bhṛtya-bhṛtya-paricāraka-bhṛtya-bhṛtya-

bhṛtyasya bhṛtya iti māṁ smara loka-nātha

Mukunda-mālā-stotra 25

O enemy of Madhu and Kaiṭabha demons, O Master of the universe, the perfection of My life and My heartfelt prayer is that You accept Me as the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of Your servant.

Mahāprabhu instructed, “Never forget your eternal position.”

nāhaṁ vipro na ca nara-patir nāpi vaiśyo na śūdro

nāhaṁ varṇī na ca gṛha-patir no vanastho yatir vā

kintu prodyan nikhila-paramānanda-pūrṇāmṛtābdher

gopī-bhartuḥ pada-kamalayor dāsa-dāsānudāsaḥ

Padyāvali 63

I am not a brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya, or śūdra, nor a brahmacārī, gṛhastha, vānaprastha, or sannyāsī. Being situated above this gross and subtle body, I am the servant of the servant of the servant of the lotus feet of the master of the gopīs, Śrī Gopīnātha, who is the ultimate shelter of all, full of transcendental bliss, and an ocean of limitless nectar.

If one forgets his identity as the servant of guru, he has not taken shelter of guru but, rather, stolen guru’s post. “Who is guru?” “I am guru.” “Then what is your Guru Mahārāja’s post?” “I am now jagad-guru.”

If this position comes and one cheats others, then everything will be lost. “Dāso ’ham,” I am the servant. I am guru-dāsa, the servant of Śrī Guru. And anyone who comes, I will collect them and bring them to the shelter of Śrī Guru. This is my duty. If I don’t do this, I will lose everything and will fall prey to brahmavāda, bauddhavāda, or māyāvāda.

Here it is written, guru pādāśraya, dīkṣā, then śikṣā, and viśrambheṇa guru-sevā. This means your guru-sevā must continuously go on, and anything that comes to you must be entirely offered to Śrī Guru.

“My love, affection, desire, duty, property, wealth, health, and everything I possess is for guru-sevā.” Then everyone who is near you will come inside that channel and flow. If you are independent, then the flow of guru’s mercy will stop, and you will not be helpful to any jīva. Then you are not an authority; you are a cheater. This is called māyāvāda.

Water is helpful for people to drink, but when it is very cold, the water becomes ice, hard like a rock and undrinkable. When guru’s śakti comes, a little power, then I think, “I am the master.” ‘Prabhuta pai, mada kahi nahi,’ all become intoxicated with position and authority.

Where am I now? Have I crossed māyā? Visvāmṛta Ṛṣi tried to send his unqualified disciple to heaven upon his repeated requests, but the demigods kicked him out, shouting, “Get out! Rascal!” He shouted, “Gurudeva, Gurudeva, I am falling, save me! I will die.” Then Visvāmṛta Ṛṣi shouted, “Tiṣṭha!” (Be fixed where you are!) Then he hung in the sky, legs up and head down. This is like the position of the bogus disciple who tries to steal the post of his guru.

Sad-guru always thinks of himself as guru-dāsa, and always performs viśrambheṇa guru-sevā. He continuously serves his Gurudeva, and he brings everyone and gives them to the lotus feet of Śrī Guru.

If anyone came to Śrīla Gurudeva, he would offer them to the lotus feet of Rūpa Gosvāmī, saying, “Now you are a rūpānuga.”

Guru-sevā is essential! If I try to steal and enjoy guru’s property, I will be a great demon.

Gurudeva appears in his śrī-vigraha for the sādhaka. Gurudeva first appears in this world and helps the living entities in one body and then Guru-pāda-padma appears everywhere in thousands and thousands of bodies. If anyone serves him, worships and follows all rules and regulations of bhakti in front of him, then he will be connected to Śrī Guru, and vraja-bhakti-rasa, prema-rasa, and vraja-bhāva will flow to that person. This is the bhajanarasadhara that comes to the sādhaka. The sādhaka will not think, “I am equal to Śrī Guru.”

Uddhava asked Kṛṣṇa, “How can I protect myself from māyā when You go?”

“Worship My Deity.”

śailī dārumayī lauhī lepyā lekhyā ca saikatī

manomayī maṇimayī pratimāṣṭa-vidhā smṛtā

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 11.27.12

The Deity, or arca-vigraha of Śrī Bhagavān, is of the following eight kinds: marble or stone, wood, iron, gold or any other alloy, clay, painted, sand, mentally conceived, and made of gems, pearls or jewels.

If you have nothing, then you can even draw a picture of Śrī Guru on the wall and worship him there. The Deities of God and Śrī Guru are not different. If you don’t worship guru and perform viśrambheṇa guru-sevā, you will fall down.

Premasevā is learnt from Guru Mahārāja. By serving Guru-pāda-padma, pure devotion will come in your life.

Srila Gurudeva ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Sri Guru Darshan”. Available from rasik@bhaktabandhav.org )