WHERE SHOULD WE DO OUR BHAJAN?

Hearing the glories of Bhagavān automatically cleans the heart and gives all good qualities. Therefore, Mahāprabhu chose this siddha-pīṭha, the perfected place of Gambhīrā. No ordinary people were allowed to enter that area for it was reserved for the service of Lord Jagannātha.In the garden of Kāśī Miśra, Tulasī and flowers are cultivated for Jagannātha’s service. But there is some other special glory there. Kāśī Miśra would daily go to that place and with firm concentration, sit and meditate on serving Lord Jagannātha. All places aren’t pure and the mind won’t be clean to serve Bhagavān. But there are some siddha-pīṭhas reserved for Bhagavān’s service. These days people make so called temples for the service of God, but they use these places for arranging marriages and hotels for mundane sense enjoyment and all people come and enjoy there. Then is that place for Bhagavān or for ordinary people? People build a temple and think, “This is owned by our family. This is my child’s room, my nephew’s room, my uncle’s room and all our anniversaries, marriages, birthday parties, śraddhā ceremonies and funeral festivals will be performed here. Everything is ours and Ṭhākurajī is imprisoned in a little room.”Then is that a place for Bhagavān’s happiness or one’s own families’ enjoyment? That place was only made for one’s own prestige. Then when any donations are collected all the money is counted and hoarded. The pūjārī is a paid worker who comes and places some sugar candy and flat rice on the altar, waves some incense and leaves. Then flies, mosquitoes and rats come and eat the offerings and pass stool on the altar. Is that a siddha pīṭha reserved for the service of God? A perfect place is where everything is used for the service of God with no trace of material sense enjoyment. Saintly people stay in such places to perform their bhajana, otherwise sādhana is not possible.Rich businessmen come to disturb the sādhus practicing bhakti in the temples. They say, “Hey, why don’t you come and do any business for me? You only eat and sleep like a lazy buffalo! You are a weight to society. Get out of this place.”People call their buildings a temple and keep a small altar to evade government taxes. Therefore, they name some place a temple. In such places the mind will never be clear and able to properly chant harināma and guru-mantra because they are full of the bad impressions of materialistic sense enjoyers.One time a sage was traveling and came to sit underneath a banyan tree to perform bhajana. But when he sat to meditate, he could not connect with harināma; instead, thousands of dead bodies appeared in his mind. All ghosts and demonic spirits were flying around that area cackling and attacking him.He said, “What do you want?”They said, “This is our graveyard, why did you come here.”In this way, not all places are pure and favorable for bhajana.Śrīman Mahāprabhu knew that this place of Gambhīrā was a beautiful garden reserved completely for the service of Jagannātha. Kāśī Miśra, the king’s guru, practiced sādhana and meditation of serving Jagannātha there from morning to evening. By going to a pure place your mind will be pure. But by going to a tamasika or rajasika place the consciousness will be restless and impure.For thousands of years all the king’s gurus of Jagannātha Purī would come to that place and do sādhana. What type of sādhana did they perform? One type of worship is called mantra-mayī-upāsana, where one only chants mantras and worship the Deities with arcana. But another type of worship is called svarasiki, this means to serve God internally out of pure loving affection. This love is the instrument of service and worship. What is the process to offer one’s body, senses, mind and heart to God? This is called real sādhana and meditation. The love of the conditioned souls has been spread and misused for millions of lives. How can this love be collected and offered to God? Conditioned souls use all their love and affection for temporary relationships.With mantra-mayī-upāsana, one remembers many mantras from the scriptures while giving incense, ghee wick, bhoga and other paraphernalia to the Deity. This is one method of serving Bhagavān. In the other process, there are no external materials; rather, the heart is the instruments and wealth. This is real pūjā, worship. Pūjā, worship, means to offer everything for the pleasure of the beloved.Kāśī Miśra, Sārvabhauma Paṇḍa, and other saintly devotees would come there and sit on a kuśa-āsana and practice mānasī-sevā. Always remembering the material world and speaking about mundane things is not the same as constantly engaging the mind in Bhagavān’s service. This is very difficult for ordinary persons. This is called samādhi, controlling the mind and intelligence and absorbing it in Bhagavān’s service. Such exalted saints who do so have conquered the mind.Śrī Guru sits in one place while chanting harināma and mantra; meanwhile all the offerings and Deity service run nicely in the temple. But this is only going smoothly by the power of Śrī Guru’s mānasī-sevā.One time, a brahmacārī asked Śrīla Gurudeva who manages and runs such big festivals like Śrī Navadvīpa-dhāma and Śrī Vraja-maṇḍala parikramās.Śrīla Gurudeva replied that everything is maintained and done by Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī and the Guru-varga. Śrīla Gurudeva said, “One dog was walking underneath a rolling cart and thinking that he was the cause of the carts motion. Śrī Guru performs parikramā and thousands and thousands of devotees follow behind him automatically. Without his power no one would have the strength or ability to perform parikramā or follow bhakti.”Because of the internal mānasī-sevā of advanced Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, all external functions and services of the Deities and temples run naturally. If there is no internal service then externally nothing will go on. This is the specialty of Śrī Guru.Kāśī Miśra and the gurus in Jagannātha Purī would take bath in the ocean in the morning, and after donning tilaka, chanted their mantras while starting their internal service. Don’t think mānasī-sevā is imagination. When chanting guru-mantras, all paraphernalia is as near as your desire and thought. But if the mind’s nature is always to be restless and moving, then you cannot serve Bhagavān. The mind will run to wherever it has love and attraction. Pray to Śrīla Gurudeva for love of Kṛṣṇa, then naturally you will always remember Him.While performing mānasī-sevā sitting at this place of Gambhīrā, Kāśī Miśra would bathe Jagannātha, offer ornaments to Him and dress Him, and cook wonderful tasty foodstuffs and offer them as bhoga for Jagannātha. Mahāprabhu chose that nirguṇa place for His residence.It is said in śāstra, “The temple of Bhagavān is nirguṇa, transcendental.” But if a place is a temple in name only, while it is actually a place for sense enjoyers, than this is a tāmasika center. Those places that are reserved for the service of God are protected and cannot be entered by materialists. (click on the title to read the complete article)

Mohini Ekadasi

Gauranga Mahaprabhu follows Ekadasi today at Mayapura, but you are American das and not Gauranga das. Therefore, you follow Ekadasi tomorrow. If it is Sunday, 1st January, then it will be Sunday, 1st January at all places. But, during Ekadasi, Mohini-devi cheats and bewilders the intelligence of certain devotees. Hence, they speculate and based on their mundane calculations, they say, “No, no. How can it be Sunday, 1st January at all places?” If Ekadasi-devi comes to you on a particular day, how can it be possible for her to appear at different times in different places? Is this calculation logical? This is Mohini-devi’s bogus program. The laptops and computers contain Mohini-devi’s program. But, does Mahaprabhu have no intelligence? Does Ekadasi-devi have no intelligence? It is the duty of the residents of different countries to properly observe Ekadasi. Over the span of fifteen days, she moves all over the world. She appears in not only this brahmanda, she appears in many brahmandas. Which calendar to follow—the sun calendar or the moon calendar? The sun calendar never changes; it is always fixed. The moon calendar is subject to change, but the sun calendar never changes.Fourteenth January is Sankranti. The month ends on this day. At all places, this day marks the end of the month. This date has been provided by the sun calendar. Any program you can think of runs according to the sun calendar. But, Mohini cheats us now. Her tricks claim not only victims from the overseas; even India is not spared. In India, some people follow Ekadasi tomorrow, while others follow Ekadasi tomorrow. The smartas follow Ekadasi a day before her appearance. There are many rules and regulations. But, this is not good. Realize, “I am Krsna das; I am not Maya das. I am Gauranga das. My svarupa-stiti is in Goloka Vrindavan and Mayapura. I will follow any form of vrata, tapa, japa, and niyam only according to the Mayapura calendar. Otherwise, by following the calendars of Russian das and American das, will I be helped?”Will they tell you, “Ekadasi is best and good for you?”Ekadasi-devi announces her appearance day. Krsna and Mahaprabhu always tell us to follow Ekadasi.Now, I will relate some glories of transcendental Mohini. When the ocean was churned, Mohini-devi appeared to distribute the pot of nectar. She distributed the nectar to only the demigods. She didn’t spare even a drop for the demons. But, Rahu and Ketu took some of this nectar by hiding between the sun and the moon. Although Cakra Sudarsana separated their heads from their bodies, they didn’t die for they had already drunk the nectar. Despite drinking nectar, the fire of anger and jealousy scorched their hearts. Driven by feelings of enviousness, they are always attracted to the proposition of consuming the sun and the moon. They ominously tell the sun and the moon, “Why did you complain against us?”

Glories of Sita-devi

In 1987, at the Rupa-Sanatana Gaudiya Matha, many senior devotees of ISKCON came to Srila Gurudeva, as well as devotees of other Gaudiya Mathas. Srila Gurudeva gave darsana from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. A Maharaja asked Gurudeva, “How can we become related to Bhagavan and...

HOW CAN WE CHANT HARI NAMA AND INTERNALLY GO ON PARIKRAMA OF THE DHAMA?

Śrīla Gurudeva concluded, “In the beginning stage, the sādhaka cannot perform aṣṭa-kālīya-līlā-smaraṇa—meditation on Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa’s eight-fold daily pastimes—but if he ever wants to advance, he must chant harināma while internally going on parikramā of these holy places every day. Parikramā should be done in the guidance of the Guru-varga while begging for their mercy.“Even if a dog comes to a person’s door daily, he will one day be given a piece of bread. After some days, he will become a member of the household. Similarly, if you pray every day to the Guru-varga and go to Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa and Mahāprabhu’s pastime places, you will surely achieve Their mercy and make your human birth successful—of this there is no doubt. Hence, don’t waste your time. Memorize the stavas, stutis, and aṣṭakams and pray every day from the core of your heart while internally going on parikramā of the holy dhāma.” (Click on the Title to read the full article)

Kesava-vrata: Offer Yourself like Candana

Hari-katha inspired by the Guru-varga. The souls bound by maya reside within a material body. Some bodies are like caves with four supporting pillars. Superior to those bodies are those with two pillars. Sometimes the souls live in bodies of plants. Some are able to...

WHAT IS REAL GURU SEVA?

Once, when Ramānujācārya had finished speaking hari-kathā in the morning the newly married daughter of one of his disciples approached him weeping profusely.“What is wrong my daughter?” Ramānujācārya asked.The girl replied, “Guru Maharaja, I do not want to complain, but I cannot tolerate my situation any longer. My in-laws are treating me like a slave. I have been married into a far away village, and the whole day I am abused and forced to work without any rest. I have no time to chant my guru-mantras or do any bhajana. They say this is all useless activity. Please protect me Guru Mahārāja and give me a place at your lotus feet!”Ramānujācārya called his personal servant who was very dear to him and told him, “Go with this girl and do all the work that is given to her by her in-laws. This will please me. Do not think that I have sent you for any ordinary work. If you follow my instructions you will please me. This is real service to me.”The sevaka thus went with the girl, accepting the instructions of his Gurudeva as his life and soul. At her in-laws home, he became the menial servant of the household. The shy girl did not disclose that he was a senior disciple of Ramānujācārya.The girl’s father-in-law thought that the she had brought a servant from her father’s home because he had said to her formerly, “If you cannot handle all the work here, then go to your father and have him send a servant to replace you.” Seeing the humble yet strong and healthy young man return with his daughter-in-law, he engaged him in all forms of work to maintain the household.The family had no mercy; they were greedy and abusive. The sevaka was fed with half-rotten food or whatever was stale and left over, but he was humble and did all the service he was ordered to do without complaint, all the time remembering his Gurudeva.Some months later, a large religious assembly was held in the area. The Śaṅkarācārya of that time was there giving a discourse. The girl’s in-laws went there to listen to the māyāvādī speak. The sevaka passed by this assembly several times as he collected water from the well to carry out his chores. Coming back and forth several times, he overheard some of the māyāvādī’s words. Unable to tolerate hearing the blaspheme of Bhagavān and especially his own Gurudeva, Ramānujācārya, he entered the assembly and asked if he could say something. Everyone there looked at him with contempt, like he was an ordinary low-caste servant. They ridiculed him, but the māyāvādī-guru said, “I encourage listeners to ask any questions they may have. If anyone has an inquiry or wishes to debate on any point let them do so.”The sevaka, raised his hand and requested a chance to speak once again. Seeing this, the in-laws tried stop him, but the Śaṅkarācārya silenced them, and called him forward. The sevaka then spoke, in eloquent Sanskrit, the teachings of Ramānujācārya. He spoke for five minutes, but by that time everyone was so surprised and pleased with his speech that they cheered and urged him to continue. He then went on for hours more, stunning everyone present.The māyāvādī-guru lowered his head in shame. His philosophy was completely smashed and defeated by a mere house-servant in tattered clothes. Humbled, and in awe of the sevaka’s knowledge and qualification, he said, “Salutations O Divya-sūri—O enlightened one.” He then departed with his followers.The girl’s relatives asked their daughter-in-law, “From where did you collect this person? We engaged him as a menial servant and now he is being considered a Divya-surī by the Śaṅkarācārya. Even hell will have no room for us! This is all your fault Who is this person? Tell us.”She replied, “I opened my heart and pain to my Guru Mahārāja and he sent his sevaka of his to serve you in this household.”“What is guru-sevā,” Śrīla Gurudeva asked us after telling this story. “Sitting around guru all day long is not guru-sevā. To follow Gurudeva’s instructions is guru-sevā. Also to go to those who have lost faith in guru and to bring them back on the right path— that is real guru-seva. (Click on the Title to read the full article)

WHY SHOULD WE CHANT 64 ROUNDS?

Mahāprabhu was very clever, He said, “I will accept the bhaktas invitation for lunch on one condition. They must be a lākhapati.”Lākhapati is generally a word used to describe someone who is wealthy. All the bhaktas were disturbed thinking that they were all very poor. Then Mahāprabhu said, “They must chant one lākha of harināma and then I’ll take prasādam from them. Otherwise I won’t touch anything.”The bhaktas thought, “When will we have time to chant 64 rounds and after perform all our services?” There would be no time to go and address anybody and no time to talk uselessly; there would be no time to waste a moment. Then after chanting, they would cook and offer and serve Mahāprabhu. Why did Mahāprabhu give this instruction to chant 64 rounds? While chanting, devotees could always pray to Śrī Rādhārānī and the Vraja-devīs. By remembering and praying to them for six to eight hours daily, their mercy would easily be attained and then strong energy and taste comes. Then when they cook or offer any bhoga, those foodstuffs will be like the cooking of the Vraja-devīs and their mahā-prasāda. Otherwise one who does not follow, remember and pray to the Vraja-devīs, anything offered independently to Kṛṣṇa will not be accepted.Kṛṣṇa and Mahāprabhu say, “If you have no relation with the Vraja-devīs, if you are not praying and requesting them for relation and shelter, then I will not be related to you.”In Dvārakā they chant, “oṁ namo bhagavate vāsudevaya, śrī-kṛṣṇa śaraṇam mama.”But they don’t chant, “Rādhe Rādhe! Prāṇeśvarī Rādhe! Madeśvarī Rādhe!” They only go to the side of Kṛṣṇa; therefore, Kṛṣṇa does not accept them.Mahāprabhu instructed all bhaktas to chant daily 64 rounds of harināma with the aim and object fixed on serving Śrī Vraja-maṇḍala and the Vrajavāsīs. And if they do not think about Vṛndāvana, then they are very far from Kṛṣṇa and Mahāprabhu and They won’t accept anything.From the day Mahāprabhu instructed the devotees to be lakhapatis, they seriously chanted 64 rounds daily and after came to the Gambhīrā near Mahāprabhu and invited Him to take prasādam and bhikṣa. This is called vraja-sevā and svarūpa-siddhi. If you think, “I will do everything! All work!” If you are not under guidance and shelter of the Vraja-devīs then everything you do will be karma. Karma and sevā are very different. Karma is anything done independently. If you work for 24 hours a day with an independent doer mood, only material results will come.Mahāprabhu instructed, “Chant 64 rounds daily while remembering the Vraja-devīs and Vrajavāsīs, and practicing internal mānasī-sevā. Otherwise the mind will go restlessly here and there. Pray for the service of the Vrajavāsīs. Pray, “Please accept me!” While chanting, always pray. If there is no prayer, then chanting is only dry practice, like a tape recorder or parrot. Once, a person taught a parrot to chant, ‘Rāma Rāma, Rādhe Syāma.” The parrot chanted over and over and all people came and said, “Bah! Very good parrot.” After some time a cat came. The parrot forgot Rāma’s name and started shrieking, “Kaw, kaw, kaw, don’t kill me!”Mahāprabhu said, “Chant 64 rounds of harināma while praying and remembering the holy names of the Vraja-devīs. ”After, when one goes for any task or service, then the practical mood will come and one will continue to pray and if anything goes wrong, the vraja-devī’s will be your guardians and will protect you. Otherwise, one’s service will be improper and not connected. Chanting does not mean austerity; it is the process to build relation with God and His associates. Therefore pray, “I’m very wicked and useless, please accept me and give me your eternal service. I’m waiting for this only, I will take nothing else.” Now the mind is restless and there is no desire or taste for any service. By force we do anything, and if any disturbance comes, like a volcano we erupt in anger.Gambhīrā means deep and grave. These instructions of Mahāprabhu are very important and serious. In this world all give instructions for material acquisition. From the beginning of life parents train their children, “mama, pāpa, uncle, auntie.” Then they send them to school where teachers teach business and atheistic philosophy. Sad-guru and vaiṣṇavas teach paramārtha, spiritual truths and treasure. They bring us to the transcendental path. No one else teaches this. Materialists hear the instructions of sādhus and tell their relatives; “Don’t listen to these crazy fools!”Worldly people always teach about material sense enjoyment for the dead physical body. But no one is merciful and teaches about the real life of the soul. No one helps to break attachment and bring one to the God’s lotus feet. They know this world and mortal life is temporary but without sense enjoyment their minds are not happy.Mahāprabhu told all the bhaktas that He would not accept or have any relation with a devotee who did not chant one lakh of harināma daily. Haridāsa Ṭhākura chanted three lakhas daily, and therefore, Mahāprabhu sent mahā-prasāda for Him daily. One day Govinda Prabhu went to give Haridāsa Ṭhākura mahā-prasāda but he wouldn’t accept saying, “Now my body is not helping or allowing me to complete my vowed number of holy names; therefore, I won’t give it any help with this prasādam. If this body doesn’t serve God, it is worse than useless.”Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja taught all his disciples to first chant sixteen rounds after maṅgala-āratī without distraction and then perform any other activity. The minds of those who have no relation with Śrī nāma will never be purified. (click on the Title to read the complete article)

HOW CAN SOMEONE WHO IS NOT A SADHU, RECOGNIZE WHO IS A SADHU?

In 1956 Srila Gurudeva returned to Mathura after Navadvīpa Parikramā and continued translating books alongside the publication of the monthly editions of the Śri Bhāgavata Patrikā. Acharya Kesarī stayed in Mathurā during this particular summer.

On July 27 a mandate requiring anyone considered a sādhu to register before a government officer was brought to the Indian Lower House of Parliament—the Lok Sabhā. When Acharya Kesarī’s attention was drawn to the proposed legislation, he objected with a lion-like voice, “How can someone who is not a sādhu recognize a sādhu, what to speak of dispersing assessment? Only a sādhu can control another sādhu. The Indian Penal Code has ample regulations to suppress sinful behavior and activities opposed to society. What is the need for this separate law targeting sādhus?”Acharya Kesari started a forceful campaign against the proposed mandate. He dictated a letter of protest as Gurudeva swiftly transcribed. It was printed in Hindi, Bengali, and English, and sent to prominent politicians, leaders of religious societies, members of parliament, and the President of India. As a result the Lok Sabhā quickly rejected the proposal.

Also in the summer of 1956, the followers of the Nimbārka-sampradāya in Vṛndāvana cast aspersions on Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu in their journal, Sri Sudarśana, saying that He was a disciple of Keśava Kāśmīrī. In other editions, they insolently dared to claim that Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava Acharya’s such as Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhakura were in the Nimbārka-sampradāya. When Śrīla Gurudeva showed these editions to Acharya Kesarī, he became irate and had an essay published in the August issue of the Bhāgavata Patrikā entitled, “Sri Nimbāditya and Nimbārka are not the same person.”In response to this essay, the directors of the Sudarśana journal announced that they were filing legal proceedings for libel. The Sudarśana editor wrote a long letter to Śrīla Gurudeva claiming that the Bhāgavata Patrikā had presented false information about their sampradāya, saying, “Your article has caused immense damage to the reputation of our sampradāya and has seriously wounded the sentiments of its numerous followers. The value of such damage, although incalculable, has been estimated at 10,000 rupees.

”Śrīla Gurudeva showed the threat to Acharya Kesarī, and he replied firmly, “We will prove each and every word based on evidence from śāstra.” On August 27, 1956, Śrīla Gurudeva replied to Sree Brajbihari Saran at the Gautam Rii, Barahghat, Mathurā, writing:

Regret to inform you that a letter dated 23-8-56 (posted on 24-56) under a registered cover, addressed to Sree Tridaṇḍī Svāmī Śrīmat Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja, designating him as Editor and Publisher of Bhāgavata Patrikā, is received under protest.

The addressee is not in any way guilty of or liable for any of the charges, criminal or civil, and does not admit any content of the letter as you have alleged. If you are wrongly, improperly, and illegally willing to enter into any litigation, you are at liberty to do so at your own risk. Yours Truly, Svāmī B.V. Nārāyaṇa

Indignant, Brajbihari Saran of the Sudarśana journal contacted lawyers to start a legal battle. The lawyers warned him, “You don’t know Keśava Mahārāja and Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja. They never lose a case. Their knowledge of court proceedings and scripture is exceptional. Prosecuting them would be like a mouse going in a hole in search of an earthworm and finding a black snake that eats it instead.

”Cowed by what they heard, the Nimbārka leaders dropped the case and retracted their calumnies about the Gauḍiya-sampradāya.

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

WHY HAVE YOU LOST YOUR GURUDEVA?

Śrīla Gurudeva gives guru-mantra, but should this become secondary? He gave us the mahāmantra also, but this does not mean guru-mantra is secondary. We chant it a few times a day and then forget about it. Then who do we stay with? Ghosts? Witches? Will Kṛṣṇa so easily come to deliver us?Āre Bābā! Seriously chant guru-mantra!

Chant it continuously. Śrīla Gurudeva’s eternal svarūpa will then manifest to you. Why have you lost your Gurudeva? What is the meaning of this? Guru-mantra and guru’s svarūpa are non-different. Therefore, Gurudeva gives guru-mantra and says, “Chant this mantra, and I will never be distant from you.”But we do not chant this mantra and are then naturally always disturbed. If we are always chanting guru-mantra, then all auspiciousness will easily come. The svarūpa of the mahāmantra will be revealed to us.

We will have darśana of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa only by Gurudeva’s mercy. Why? Gurudeva is always chanting the mahāmantra. He is chanting śuddha-nāma, but we are not.Who is the most helpful for us in this world? Is the mahāmantra the most helpful? By which medium did the mahāmantra come to us? Who gave it to us? Did Kṛṣṇa give it to us? Did Mahāprabhu give it to us? Did any other sādhu come and give it to us? Only our Guru-pāda-padma is with us. We must follow only him. We shall chant his mantra.

I said, “If I chant your mantra will you be pleased?”Śrīla Gurudeva said, “Nityānanda Prabhu will be happy and Baladeva Prabhu will give you cit-bala, spiritual strength.”“But will you not give anything?” I asked.“Yes…I have some love for my Guru Mahārāja, therefore you will receive love for your Guru Mahārāja.”This is called guru-śakti and guru-bhakti. If you have no guru-bhakti, you have nothing.Śāstra says:prathaman tu guruṁ pūjyāṁtataś caiva mamārcanamkurvan siddhim avāpnotihy anyathā niṣphalaṁ bhavetHari-bhakti-vilāsa 4.344Śrī Kṛṣṇa says, “One must always worship one’s Guru first and only then worship Me. If one follows this process properly, one will naturally attain all perfection, but if one neglects this process everything will be fruitless.”Guru-bhakti must come before kṛṣṇa-bhakti. Gurudeva is not only Baladeva Prabhu’s expansion.

All gurus are not Baladeva Prabhu’s or Nityānanda Prabhu’s expansion. Some gurus come to this world by the order of Rādhārānī, and they are Rādhārānī and Rūpa Mañjarī and Rati Mañjarī’s direct followers. Not all lines are the same. Kṛṣṇa Himself is surprised and marvels at how Śrīmatī manifests Her group in this world and attracts everyone to Vraja to serve Him.Not all lines are the same. Different lines send people in different directions. Many people came after Nayana-maṇī-mañjarī and Vinoda Mañjarī.

Who is a true follower of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s line? The understanding of this is very rare. We are therefore very fortunate. Guru-bhakti is not only the backbone of bhakti, it gives us spiritual strength and bliss.In śāstra, there are prayers such as:gurur brahmā gurur viṣṇurguru devo maheśvaraḥgurur sākṣād parabrahmatasmai śrī-guruve namaḥDoes this mean that guru is Brahmā, Śiva, Viṣṇu, or Sākṣād-Parabrahma? What is the meaning of this prayer?

A disciple or follower that offers himself completely to Guru-pāda-padma attains the protection and care of Brahmā, Śiva, Viṣṇu, Parabrahma, and all other powerful personalities. These personalities take you in their lap and bless you. They say, “I will take care of you. Why? Because you have taken shelter of sad-guru! You are very lucky.”Rāmacandra Kavirāja was the disciple of Śrīnivāsa Ācārya. He stayed with Narottama Ṭhākura, but how strong his relation was with his Gurudeva! His Gurudeva went in samādhi to Rādhā-kuṇḍa to find

Śrīmatī’s lost nose ring. Rāmacandra Kavirāja also went there with his siddha-svarūpa and joined his Gurudeva in mānasī-sevā. Together, they searched for the nose ring and when it was found, they came back together. How strong his relation with guru is!How can we have relation with Gurudeva if we do not chant his mantra and always remember him? If our hearts have no room for him, then we are bogus disciples. I do not like this.

I desire that everyone pray to him, chant his name, and follow his footsteps and desire. What does he want for us? What is his line? Let this be our focus.Śrīla Gurudeva is present now also, protecting us, and helping us move forward on the path of vraja-bhakti. He is preparing us for the birth of our soul in Vraja, where we will blissfully serve Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa under guidance of the Vraja-devīs. Birth from the womb of the mother is birth of the body, but not of the soul. For the birth of the soul, guru is the father, and Gāyatrī is the mother—guru pitā gāyatrī mātā.

Through saṁskāra, spiritual initiation, Guru Pitā and Gāyatrī Mātā accept one, and give spiritual birth to the soul. The soul is now very small, like a dormant seed inside the body, where it is a prisoner, bound by its karma. When the conditioned soul accepts the shelter of sad-guru and receives the gāyatrī-mantra as its spiritual mother, then Gurudeva and Gāyatrī nourish one and help one develop in spiritual existence. If one gives up Guru Pitā and Gāyatrī Mātā, then one will be like an orphaned child. The flow of spiritual life will stop. One will run to accept the offerings of Māyā-devī. (CLICK on the Title to read the full article)

WHY ARE PEOPLE AFRAID OF SADHUS?

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:yad-brahma-sākṣāt-kṛti-niṣṭhayāpi,vināśam āyāti vinā na bhogaiḥapaiti nāma! sphuraṇena tat te,prārabdha-karmeti virauti vedaḥKṛṣṇa-nāmāṣṭakam 4O 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. (click on the Title to read full article)

HOW CAN WE RECOGNIZE WHEN KRSNA AND GURU ARE PLEASED WITH US?

There are many spiritual teachers in this world. Most are impersonalists or only so-called spiritual teachers, who are really materialists, who do not think about how to help anyone else. How can the conditioned souls progress and get the nectar of pure love and devotion for God?

This is the desire of a bona fide guru. Many people give charity to the poor and destitute. And many philosophers advocate this charity for maintenance of the body. Although they may give food to the poor for a day or two, the next day people will again be hungry. How long can they give shelter to the hungry? If the poor and destitute want to take shelter of the donor and stay with him continuously, the donor will not give any chance. He will give cloth, medicine, and food, and then send them away.

This is one manifestation of pride.If anyone comes near God’s associates in this world, they will take responsibility to help that person cross over the ocean of material existence and attain the shelter of the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord. A so-called spiritual teacher does not help take care of other souls, but only maintains the physical dress of the embodied souls. This is only cruelty and pushes them deeper into illusion.Śrī Guru is not an ordinary mortal.

If someone who does not know how to swim goes to help another drowning person, then they will only drown together. If one is not qualified to help, then one will be pulled down and defeated by the soul drowning in material life. Śrī Guru means he who brings others out of the darkness of illusion into the light of truth. If one acts as guru without qualification, he will be pulled into darkness as well, this is not helping anyone. This is also cruelty. If you do not help others, or if you are pulled down by them, both are problems. If you do everything for God’s pleasure, this will be real help for all souls.

If we go for any personal help, then people will steal and enjoy us.Śrīla Gurudeva guides the soul into a pure loving relation with Kṛṣṇa. Any personal help is not good; no one is our relative if we are not related to Kṛṣṇa. If one is related to Kṛṣṇa then all souls are one’s relatives. A guru will thus have neutrality. He is the servant of Kṛṣṇa, and comes to this world to help the conditioned souls. Gurudeva is internally engaged in service to Kṛṣṇa, but those with no transcendental vision will not be able to see this.

Therefore, guru practically shows by example and teaches others how to serve Kṛṣṇa. Such a guru is called ācārya, or a spiritual preceptor.ācinoti yaḥ śāstrārtham ācāre sthāpayaty apisvayam ācarate yasmād ācāryas tena kīrttitaḥVāyu Purāṇa An ācārya is one who fully understands the conclusions of the revealed scriptures and whose behavior reflects his deep realization. He is a living example because he teaches the meaning of the scriptures both by word and deed.Śrī Guru is present with his disciples through his speech and instructions.

If anyone hears or reads his discourses or books, than Śrī Guru is directly with them. Śrī Guru’s speech is not ordinary words and sentences. It is spiritual. Śrī Guru is eternally present with his instructions. Śrī Guru is always with one who is connected to his message and instructions. (Click on the title to read full article)

HOW SRILA TRIVIKRAMA GOSVAMI MAHARAJA GLORIFIED SRILA GURUDEVA

Srila Bhaktivedānta Vāmana Gosvami Maharaja and Srila Bhaktiv­­­edānta Trivikrama Gosvāmi Mahārāja were very upset when they heard members of the GBC were mistreating Gurudeva and trying to defame him in ISKCON. Some members even had the audacity to criticize Srila Gurudeva in the presence of Srila Vāmana Gosvāmi Mahārāja at Devānanda Gauḍīya Maṭha in Navadvīpa. Someone once said, “He as against the rules and regulations of your Vedānta Samīti by speaking on elevated topics that ordinary jīvas are not qualified to hear. You are president of the Samīti, please tell him to mend his ways or remove him from your society.”

Śrīla Vāmana Gosvāmi Mahārāja rebuked those who thus spoke and said, “I am not separate or different from Srila Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja. Whatever he speaks is correct and in line with “sadhu-guru-sastra”. Śrīla Trivikrama Gosvāmi Mahārāja was also angered at the ill character of the GBC towards Srila Gurudeva.

Srila Vāmana Gosvāmi Mahārāja and Srila Trivikrama Gosvāmi Mahārāja said, “An offense to our dear godbrother is an offense to ourselves and our whole society.”In September 1995, Pūjyapāda Bhaktivedānta Trivikrama Mahārāja arrived in Keavaji Gauḍīya Maṭha. Upon arrival, he offered prostrated obeisance to Śrīla Gurudeva and Gurudeva offered sāṣṭāṅga-praṇāma in return. Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja had immense respect for Śrīla Gurudeva.

Sometimes, when Śrīla Gurudeva was residing inside his room, or absent, Śrīla Trivikrama Gosvāmī Mahārāja would bow to Gurudeva’s shoes at his door. In the temple programs, Śrīla Gurudeva and Śrīla Trivikrama Gosvāmī Mahārāja sat together for the kīrtanas and hari-kathā. Gurudeva deeply honored Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja and always requested him to speak first. One morning, a few days before Kārtika commenced, Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja gave class while Gurudeva was elsewhere engaged.

In his Hindi class, Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja raised the question, “How can we attain bhakti? Even if we end all our time with sādhus, if we have no faith in them, then we can never achieve bhakti. By feeding or giving money to sādhus, or even by following sādhu’s instructions, one does not achieve bhakti. Faith and respect for Vaiṣṇavas is crucial! We must never criticize our Vaiṣṇava guardians! Because of our wicked tendencies, when there is obstruction to our sense gratification we perceive defects in the faultless Vaiṣṇavas. Nothing is as despicable as a disciple who is disloyal and who denounces his spiritual guardian. Yet, we see dependents having no fear in making grave offenses to their śikṣāguru.

Pūjyapāda Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja embodies all the 26 qualities of a Vaiṣṇava as described by the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Have full faith in him!”Śrīla Trivikrama Gosvāmi Mahārāja then glorified Srila Gurudeva’s Vaiṣṇava traits. He said”, the primary symptom of a Vaiṣṇava is being saranagata, completely surrendered to Kṛṣṇa. Even if all other symptoms of a Vaiṣṇava are present in someone, if he is not surrendered to Kṛṣṇa, he is not a real Vaiṣṇava. Without the life-giving quality of śaraṇāgati, the other qualities are only like decorations on a corpse.

All Vaiṣṇavas are śaraṇāgata, but not all Vaiṣṇavas possess the 26 characteristics of a Vaiṣṇava mentioned in śāstra. Pūjyapāda Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja is special in that he fully possesses all 26 qualities. He causes all bhaktas to feel that he is their ever well-wisher and spiritual friend.“Vaiṣṇavas are merciful. Whether someone respects or insults him, Pūjyapāda Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja is equipoised. He gives affection and mercy to everyone. He does not consider the faults of others, rather, he sees even the slightest goodness in a person and encourages him to progress.

The method of bestowing mercy on the righteous is different from that of delinquents. Externally, Vaiṣṇavas may appear more kind to sinners than the virtuous. Śrīla Mahārāja chastises the upright devotees to edify them. Meanwhile, he is affectionate to the dissolute so that they become good. The actions of a sādhu of Mahārāja’s caliber are not easy to comprehend. Even the abuse or curse of a sādhu is beneficial—meant for the recipient’s welfare.“Śrīla Mahārāja never considers others his enemies, even if they are ingrates whom he has helped but who have then turned against him.

Śrīla Mahārāja is like a sādhu who picks up drowning scorpions again and again, wanting to save them, even though they keep biting him for his efforts. When I ask, ‘What do you gain by trying to help such badmashes?’ He replies, ‘If they will not give up their nature, why should I forsake mine?’ ”

“Sādhus are tolerant. There is no end to Śrīla Mahārāja’s patience. He maintains and nourishes so many. Yet when many of them have matured, they turn against him. He works always for the welfare of others, yet still people criticize and insult him. But Mahārāja never thinks ill of anyone.“Vaiṣṇavas observe the essence. Mahārāja discerns if a person is eager for bhajana and helps him in all ways. If someone wants to serve māyā, he helps him on his way as well, knowing that, after receiving the continual kicks from māyā, he will come back and be prepared for his help.“Mahārāja is nirdoṣa, faultless.

He never criticizes others or speaks idly of mundane topics. Indeed, he wastes not a moment. He’s always engaged in hari-bhakti. He is magnanimous. He speaks vraja-kathā to inspire others towards vraja-bhakti, even if they are not qualified or strictly practicing bhakti. He knows that ten or twenty lifetimes may pass before a person becomes qualified, but he also knows that unless one hears vraja-kathā and develops greed for vraja-bhakti, he never has a chance to progress toward the ultimate attainment. So, Mahārāja generously speaks vraja-kathā to whomever he meets. Mahārāja is akiñcana—he considers nothing as his own property.

Understanding that everything belongs to the Lord, Mahārāja takes responsibility to engage everything and everyone in God’s service.“Mahārāja is sarvopakāraka—he is interested in the welfare of all living entities. He selflessly takes others on parikramā, maintaining the pilgrims by collecting bhikṣā, and he arranges festivals of bhakti for all people to attend without charge. Materialists use all their assets to gratify their mind and senses.

Mahārāja employs whatever he receives for the upliftment of mankind in many ways, such as: publishing books, orchestrating pilgrimages, maintaining temples, restoring holy places, serving people in general to inspire them to follow bhakti, and serving the sādhus by providing whatever facility they require for performing bhajana, such as prasāda, room, cloth, and medicine.“Mahārāja is never restless. Those who have material desires are always restless, but Mahārāja only desires to serve the transcendental Divine Couple—Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa; no matter what the external circumstances are, he knows that all events occur by the will of Kṛṣṇa. Thus he remains tranquil and internally absorbed in his spiritual service.“Mahārāja is victorious over the six internal enemies and is always in control of his emotions. He never lusts for wealth or power; never becomes angry; always gives to others without being greedy for anything in return; is beyond the spell of illusion and madness; and is forever free of envy. He never boasts. Even though he has done so much service and such great deeds, he never praises himself, for he knows everything is done by the will of Kṛṣṇa and Guru.

HOW DID SRILA GURUDEVA PROTECT THE SADHU’S DURING THE 1976 GOVERMENT EMASCULATION PROGRAM?

In 1975, India faced national crises as the government declared a state of emergency, suspended democracy, arrested thousands of dissidents and officials, and censored the press. The emergency period lasted from June 25, 1975, until January 23, 1977. In September 1976, the ruling party initiated a widespread compulsory sterilization program to control population growth in India. Certain groups were targeted. Over eight million men were sterilized in one year alone. Being antipathetic toward sādhus, the government mandated that all red-cloth bābājīs must be emasculated. Government leaders announced, “Sādhus are like red monkeys, only eating, sleeping, and causing mischief. They are a heavy burden and a disturbance to our country. Rather than doing work to help our society, they beg in the towns and villages and have illicit affairs with women; hence, we will force vasectomies to prevent them from creating unwanted population growth.”
Mathurā and Vraja-maṇḍala were heavily targeted areas.
Every year thousands of sādhus from different parts of India like Haridvāra and Citrakūṭa assembled in Mathurā to celebrate Janmāṣṭamī. During the Janmāṣṭamī of 1976 the government announced a one-lakh cash incentive for every 100 sādhus that a police officer processed. Policemen would attend temples incognito and invite sādhus for a feast. The sādhus were told they would be taken to a program where they would perform kīrtana, partake of mahā-prasāda, and then brought back. They were then escorted in buses to a local hospital where they were systematically processed with crude surgery and then thrown out on the streets bleeding. Many sādhus died because of infections or complications resulting from unsanitary surgeries and lack of medical attention. After these atrocities continued for several months, many of the remaining sādhus adopted ordinary dress or went into hiding, while others gathered together to protest.
Śrīla Gurudeva instructed all red-cloth brahmacārīs to remain in the temple and only those in white would bring vegetables or water for the Maṭha. Because some of the local officials and policeman were favorably disposed to Śrīla Gurudeva and would come regularly to hear from him, there were no problems inside Keśavajī Gauḍīya Maṭha. But going outside always posed a threat.
Eventually a group of influential sādhus approached Śrīla Gurudeva and requested, “Please protect us, only you can stop these atrocities.”
Śrīla Gurudeva became furious because of this diabolical government policy and summoned secluded conclaves with all the sādhus in Vṛndāvana. There, Gurudeva advised the sādhus to practice their sādhana in āśrāmas rather than roaming about as destitute beggars; and he instructed them on how to properly follow the etiquette of spiritual life.
Gurudeva said, “These atrocities to sādhus cannot last for long. In the beginning of Rāma’s līlā, Rāvaṇa sent many cannibalistic demons and rākṣasas to Daṇḍakāraṇya where thousands of sages practiced austerities. Khara, Duśaṇa, Tāḍakā, Mārīca, and many other rākṣasas harassed the ṛṣis—ruthlessly killing and eating them. So many sages were killed that hills formed from their bones.
“Rāvaṇa sent his rākṣasas to the sages with the message, ‘You are staying in our King’s territory, therefore, you must pay tax.’
‘We don’t have any business or agriculture,’ the sages responded, ‘how can we give tax?’ ‘You eat our fruit and drink our water, and from this your body has made a lot of blood. You can give us your blood as tax.’ ‘What will you do with our blood?’ ‘Our king will drink your blood and become more powerful.’ ‘If the sādhus are weak and not doing bhajana,’ the demons thought, ‘then our king will never be defeated, thus, we must kill them or take their blood as tax.’
“Rāvaṇa had conquered heaven, and was controlling the world, but he wanted more power and so he thought, ‘If I drink the blood of the sages, I will acquire the strength of their austerities.’
“The rākṣasas brought a gold pot, and the sages cut open their thighs and gave blood, saying, ‘Take this blood to Rāvaṇa and tell him it will destroy his dynasty!’ The rākṣasas took the pot to Laṅkā, but Rāvaṇa was not present at the time. Hearing of the curse, his wife Mandodari said, ‘Take this pot and bury it at once under the Himālayas! I will give Rāvaṇa animal blood in its place.’
“The pot was buried in the mountainous region of Mithilā where Janaka Mahārāja ruled. Henceforth, Mithilā became devastated by drought, and the women and animals became barren. Desperate to save his kingdom and people, Janaka Mahārāja consulted his brāhmaṇa advisors and planned to begin a sacrifice. While plowing the ground to clean the ceremonial area, they dug up a golden pot and, upon opening it, found a beautiful baby girl inside—Sītā-devī. Sītā was the embodiment of the sādhu’s curse on Rāvaṇa, and in due course she was the cause of the destruction of Rāvaṇa and his dynasty.”
Śrīla Gurudeva continued, “Rāma went to the forest for 14 years. There He killed the demons that attacked the sādhus. And when He met the ascetics, He instructed them, ‘Your tapa-bala, strength from austerities, is lost when you become angry. At that me demons can easily devour you.’
“Sādhus that stayed in the āśramas of Gautama, Yājñavalkya, Viśvāmrita, and other great ṛṣis, were not tortured by the demons. Demonic people will torment sādhus that do not surrender to a pure guru and instead try to practice bhajana alone, without kīrtana or hari-kathā. Only those sādhus that were not under the shelter of powerful ṛṣis could be attacked by the rākṣasas. Some think, ‘If I’m alone then I can do bhajana without disturbance.’
Gurudeva concluded, “The sheltered soul who sincerely practices sādhana-bhajana, following the instruction of his Guru-pāda-padma, never falters in his spiritual practice, even if he is subjected to trial upon trial. However, one who gratifies his senses on the pretense of bhajana will surely suffer many tribulations.”
The sādhus arranged a large procession to the government offices in Delhi in protest but their calls for justice were ignored. Later, a law was passed stating that sādhus must register with the government, only then would they be left in peace. The government leaders stated, “Rickshaw drivers, thieves, and rogues dress in saffron, either don dreadlocks or completely shave, and beg house-to-house. Posing as saints, they spoil ingenuous women, and thus many illegitimate children are spawned—causing a nuisance to society.”
The government also began to charge a toll to enter Vṛndāvana and Govardhana. Checkpoints were set up on the roads and visors entering Vṛndāvana had to incur levies. The penniless sādhus were also expected to pay before they could enter Vṛndāvana. Violators were arrested and ordered to pay the fee.
The sādhus became irate. Where were they supposed to get money for paying taxes? They complained to Śrīla Gurudeva about the situation and as a result he met with many high-ranking officials. Eventually, he registered a lawsuit with the magistrate, and by his influence this unjust regulation was terminated and the tax checkpoints shut down.

Sādhus had to tolerate immense hardship in those years. Once there was an elderly disciple of Prabhupāda Sarasvatī Ṭhākura named Govardhana dāsa Bābājī who came to Vraja to practice bhajana. He lived in an old stone tower at an obscure Ghāṭa of the Yamunā in Mathurā. One evening he was severely beaten by a rough bunch of local thieves, who stole his few belongings and then threw him in the river, assuming him dead. The dacoits of Vraja would accost sādhus in this way, thinking that they stockpiled donations from the public.
Somehow the Bābā remained alive. He had been thrown face up in a shallow part of the Yamunā, and lay there unable to move because of his injuries. It was more than a day before Govardhana dāsa Bābājī was found and taken out of the water in a precarious condition. His wounds and bruises were infected and oozing pus, and his body was covered with worms and insects. Śrīla Gurudeva was called to the site, and he arranged for him to be taken to the hospital. His whole body appeared rotten, and no one wanted to take care of him.
Śrīla Gurudeva called for one of his dear brahmacārīs. When he came, Śrīla Gurudeva said, “Care for this sādhu, he is a disciple of Prabhupāda Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. Help him.”
The Bābā was senseless. His body was pale and worms were clinging to his sores. The brahmacārī removed the worms and washed his wounds with disinfectants. The doctors gave him medicine and many injections, while the brahmacārī regularly cleaned his wounds and body. Soon he regained consciousness and eventually was completely cured.
As soon as he was well again he came to see Śrīla Gurudeva in Keśavajī Gauḍīya Maṭha. “By your mercy I have received new life,” he said. “I have some money in my bank account, please take it.
“I did not serve you for selfish reasons,” Śrīla Gurudeva said. “Just promise that you will not go back to that tower.”
“I will go back,” the Bābā said boldly. “If Kṛṣṇa wants, He may kill me.”
“Please stay here in the temple,” Śrīla Gurudeva requested.
Despite Gurudeva’s requests, Govardhana dāsa Bābājī returned to his previous residence after staying for some time in the temple.
In those days it was difficult for sādhus. People thought, “Why should we give money to sādhus? They are very rich.”
Hence Śrīla Gurudeva never accepted money from people disinclined to bhakti. Most people doubted sādhus at the time and only a few people came to the temple.
One time, a sādhu named Gopāla dāsa Bābājī, who did bhajana in a simple residence at Govardhana, was visited by some people who offered praṇāma and tried to give him many gifts. He did not accept their presentations, but that night some dacoits came and accosted him, saying, “You bogus old man! We saw those rich people come earlier today. How mu did they give you?”
“I did not accept anything,” said the bābā. “I never do. Sometimes I accept incense and ghee-wicks to worship Girirāja, but only this.”
The dacoits did not believe the poor bābā. “No!” they said, “you are lying! We know you have amassed a lot of wealth by your pretense of saintliness.”
They beat the Bābā so brutally that he died and then threw his body in an old well. Afterwards, they trashed his hut in search of the presumed wealth, but found nothing. Realizing their sin, some of the group turned themselves in to the police. “We killed an innocent bābā,” they confessed. “Put us in jail. We are ready to suffer for this sin.” The police did not arrest them, and instead they left their case in God’s judgement. Later, the offenders suffered greatly as a result of their sin. People like this are great offenders to Vraja.
Śrīla Gurudeva went from village to village meeting with the people of Vṛndāvana and Mathurā. He warned them, “Don’t disturb the bābājīs, they have come for bhajana. You should support them. They only need a small amount of flour and vegetables for their sustenance.” Gurudeva changed the minds of many doubtful people who assumed that all bābājīs and sādhus were imposters, cheaters, and thieves. He thus protected Vraja-maṇḍala and the real Vrajavāsīs. Śrīla Gurudeva began to print many books and as these books were distributed, people began to have more respect for sādhus. In this way, Gurudeva’s influence transformed the nature of the people living in Vraja-maṇḍala.
Srila Gurudeva ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Sri Guru Darshan”. Available from rasik@kripa.tv )

IS GOPI PREMA THE OBJECT OF ALL LOVE?

“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 uttamamśābde 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:tan-nāma-rūpa-caritādi-sukīrtanānusmṛṭyoḥ krameṇa rasanā-manasī niyojyatiṣṭhan vraje tad-anurāgi-janānugāmīkālaṁ nayed akhilam ity upadeśa-sāram
Upadeśāmṛta 8

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-pategopeśa 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 HareHare 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.”

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