After the departure of Param Gurudeva, Śrīla Gurudeva spent most of his time in Mathurā. For some months of the year, particularly after Kārtika, he traveled to Bengal and preached there.
Over the years in Mathurā, Śrīla Gurudeva accepted personal service from various sevakas. First came Muralī Prabhu from Tiwārīpur, Bihar. Later, Kanhaiyā Prabhu came. After him, there was Sundarānanda Prabhu, who was later sent by Śrīla Gurudeva to be the sevaka of
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja. Gopī-kānta then came to Śrīla Gurudeva and after some time was sent to serve Śrīla Bhakti Jīvana Janārdana Gosvāmī Mahārāja. Then Lakṣmaṇa Prabhu served Śrīla Gurudeva. After Lakṣmaṇa Prabhu, Gopī-kānta Prabhu came back for some time. After that, Kālacānda Prabhu was Gurudeva’s sevaka, and then Śeṣaśāyī Prabhu served Gurudeva for some time.
Śubhānanda Prabhu and myself next came. One sevaka named Gaura-kṛṣṇa served for a while and after him Navīna-kṛṣṇa Prabhu took up the service. Dvija-kṛṣṇa Prabhu came and also served Śrīla Gurudeva primarily as his cook.
Once, Śrīla Gurudeva was asked a question about Kālā Kṛṣṇadāsa, the sevaka of Mahāprabhu. Mahāprabhu had declared that He would go alone to South India, but His associates requested Him to take at least one sevaka with Him. They selected a brāhmana boy named Kālā Kṛṣṇadāsa and Mahāprabhu agreed to take him along.
Kālā Kṛṣṇadāsa thus had the chance to personally associate and interact with Mahāprabhu, the Supreme Lord Himself who liberates all souls. Mahāprabhu exclaimed, “I will liberate the entire world by any method necessary.”
Kālā Kṛṣṇadāsa served Mahāprabhu by carrying His kamaṇḍalu and His second set of ḍor-kaupīna and outer sannyāsī cloth. He collected alms and prepared Mahāprabhus meals. When they rested in the evening, Kālā Kṛṣṇadāsa would massage Mahāprabhu’s feet.
Although he was awarded such a chance to serve in this way, Kālā Kṛṣṇadāsas mind was not properly fixed in that service. As Mahāprabhu was engaged in chanting the holy name and speaking hari-kathā,
Kālā Kṛṣṇadāsa wondered into a nearby community of low-class gypsies. When these gypsies saw Kālā Kṛṣṇadāsa, a young beautiful man, the different families amongst them began to fight over who would have their daughter marry him. Girls began pulling Kālā Kṛṣṇadāsa by the hand in different directions, saying, “Oh, come with us! Come with us.”
In the meantime, Mahāprabhu was searching for Kālā Kṛṣṇadāsa. He found him being fought over amidst the gypsies and pulled him out of his entanglement by the hair.
Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī writes:
durdaive sevaka yadi yāya anya sthāne
sei ṭhākura dhanya tāre cule dhari’ āne
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya-līlā 4.47
If by chance a servant falls down and goes astray, glorious is that master who captures him and brings him back by the hair.
Bhagavān Himself, Mahāprabhu, is present there and His sevaka is serving him closely, but how unfortunate the sevaka is when the love and attraction of his heart does not go towards the Lord even though he is staying so close and still he is allured by māyā. By serving the Lord his consciousness had not changed.
So the devotees asked Gurudeva, “Why do we see this behavior of Kālā-Kṛṣṇadāsa in the pastimes of Mahāprabhu?”
Śrīla Gurudeva had a sevaka who was very handsome. He was one of Gurudeva’s earlier sevakas. He would cook and play mṛdaṅga and sang melodiously in kīrtana. He was quite intelligent and could speak hari-kathā very well. One time, Śrīla Gurudeva asked him to arrange a place for some guests to stay in the temple. He gave an impudent answer and from that time started behaving strangely. One day, the owner of a factory came to visit Gurudeva.
This sevaka asked the owner, “Please give me some job in your factory.”
The owner responded, “You are worshipful to me because you are the close servant of my Guru Mahārāja; how can I give you work in my factory?”
“No, don’t think this. Please give me a job.”
The owner told this to Gurudeva and Gurudeva asked his sevaka, “What is the difficulty? Why do you want to have some mundane work?”
The sevaka became enraged hearing this and he picked up a stick nearby and moved as if he were to beat Śrīla Gurudeva. The other brahmacāris nearby held him down and stopped him. How is this possible for someone who is staying with a mahā-bhāgavata?
If someone is serving the mahā-bhāgavata, taking the remnants of his food, massaging his feet, drinking his caraṇāmṛta, and offering him obeisance, then how can such a bad condition come to him? How is this possible? So after this event, the brahmacārīs asked Gurudeva this question about Kālā Kṛṣṇadāsa.
Śrīla Gurudeva replied:
brahmāṇḍa bhramite kona bhāgyavān jīva
guru-kṛṣṇa-prasāde pāya bhakti-latā-bīja
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 19.151
Out of many millions of wandering living entities, one who is very fortunate, by the mercy of both Kṛṣṇa and the spiritual master, receives the seed of the creeper of bhakti.
tāte kṛṣṇa bhaje, kare gurura sevana
māyā-jāla chuṭe, pāya kṛṣṇera caraṇa
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 22.25
When the jīva then worships Kṛṣṇa and serves his guru, then the bonds of māyā are released and he achieves the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa.
Śrī Guru gives the transcendental water of hari-kathā and hari-kīrtana to the sādhaka and thus nourishes the creeper of his devotion. The sādhaka then acts like a gardener caring for his bhakti-latā creeper. But there is a danger.
seka-jala pāñā upaśākhā bāḍi’ yāya
stabdha hañā mūla-śākhā bāḍite nā pāya
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 19.160
If one does not distinguish between the bhakti creeper and the other creepers, the sprinkling of water is misused because the other creepers are nourished while the bhakti creeper is curtailed.
prathamei upaśākhāra karaye chedana
tabe mūla-śākhā bāḍi’ yāya vṛndāvana
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 19.161
First one must identify the unwanted creepers of desires in his heart and carefully uproot them, then the main creeper of bhakti can grow and in time reach Goloka-Vṛṇdāvana.
And there is another even greater danger.
yadi vaiṣṇava-aparādha uṭhe hātī mātā
upāḍe vā chiṇḍe, tāra śukhi’ yāya pātā
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 19.156
If the devotee commits an offense at the feet of a Vaiṣṇava while cultivating the creeper of bhakti in the material world, his offense is compared to a mad elephant that uproots the creeper and breaks it. In this way the leaves of the creeper dry up.
Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta describes how a fortunate jīva by the grace of Bhagavān and the mercy of guru comes into the association of a transcendental personality from the spiritual world. That guru plants the seed of the tendency to serve Kṛṣṇa, the devotional creeper, in the jīva’s heart and then he waters it with hearing and chanting of the names, forms, qualities, and pastimes of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa. The seed of devotion then sprouts and the creeper will ascend towards the spiritual world. However, the weeds of ulterior desires can choke this creeper and also, the mad elephant of offenses to Vaiṣṇavas tramples the devotional creeper. These offenses break the creeper of devotion. Therefore one must be extremely careful not to commit any offense towards the Vaiṣṇavas, and likewise, must carefully uproot any ulterior desires unfavorable to the cultivation of pure devotional service.
If someone commits offense to a Vaiṣṇava, even if that person is the servant of Bhagavān or the servant of Śrī Guru, still Bhagavān and guru will not protect that person. One must be extremely cautious not to make offense towards any exalted personality.
Śiva Ṭhākura was once speaking hari-kathā with Satī sitting on his lap. Satī cursed Citraketu Mahārāja, a pure Vaiṣṇava, to become a demon. Satī did not think, “I am on the lap of my Prabhu, Śiva Ṭhākura.
He is my superior so I should not curse anyone in front of him.” To curse someone or to bless someone in front of one’s spiritual master or superior is guru-avajñā. So Satī was not only offending Chitraketu Mahārāja but she was disrespecting her Prabhu, Śiva Ṭhākura, as well. She then later went to test Lord Rāma Himself to see if He was really the Supreme Lord. As a result Satī herself had to perish. At the sacrifice of Dakṣa, she committed self-immolation, burning herself to ash. Satī was serving Śiva Ṭhākura similarly to how the sevaka serves Guru. Sometimes the sevaka will become arrogant and will criticize, offend, or neglect Vaiṣṇavas.
For many years aristocratic students would come to Śrīla Gurudeva in Mathurā. They stayed under Gurudeva’s tutelage and became ve qualified. However, many of them started looking at the other Vaiṣṇavas as low-class and insignificant and they would criticize them saying, “You have only come here to maintain your lives and to have easy facility for eating and sleeping. You do no bhajana and know nothing of Vaiṣṇavism. You are ve poor, beggarly persons, who did not have enough food in your villages to eat. You were lazy and did not want to do any work,
so you ran away and joined the maṭha. Were you chased out of your villages because you were thieves? Therefore you entered the maṭha and became brahmacārīs.”
Śrīla Gurudeva mercifully gave a place to these people from aristocratic families in Mathurā. They studied under Gurudeva. They were intelligent and studied in the big universities and had big jobs and they saw anyone from a lower class to be worthy of contempt. Sometimes brahmacārīs tried to attend the classes when Gurudeva was instructing these people from Mathurā, but the puffed-up Mathurāvāsīs would take them aside and tell them, “Jā, jā! Go and do your work. Go wash the pots, clean the bathrooms, sweep the temple. This is plenty for you. Don’t try to rise up. Don’t try to attain some high position. Be happy with your place.” Because of this offensive mentality of looking down upon Vaiṣṇavas, these men soon became inimical to Śrīla Gurudeva himself.
harau ruṣṭe gurus trātā
gurau ruṣṭe na kaścana
gurum eva prasādayet
If Hari is displeased with someone, guru can save him. But if Guru is displeased with someone, then even Hari will not save that person. When Śrīla Gurudeva sees that some of his followers are making offenses towards his followers and Vaiṣṇavas, then he is extremely displeased and he cannot tolerate this. guru and Bhagavān mercifully accept people and give them a chance to serve them. Such sevakas should always remain very humble and pray to Hari, Guru, and Vaiṣṇavas that they never commit offense. They should understand that they have received such a position out of their great fortune. But it is not that they are deserving or supremely exalted. If a sevaka desires to retain his position as the servant of Guru, he should always have a prayerful mood. He should pray to the Vaiṣṇavas:
egāo egāo mora vaiṣṇava gosāi
karuṇā jala sinchaya tava rakṣa pāya
O Vaiṣṇava Ṭhākura, please shower your rain of mercy upon this fallen wretch and thus protect me.
If one has offended a Vaiṣṇava, his heart will become dry and hard and he will become ve small-minded. He will gradually lose all taste for harināma, for hearing hari-kathā, taking mahā-prasāda, and staying in the maṭha. His heart will always be burning. He will be completely spoiled and contaminated at heart.
Therefore, Gurudeva warned, “Look! I am not here alone. All those who are here with me are Vaiṣṇavas. By offending them one will certainly fall down. One should not think, ‘I am Guru’s sevaka; everyone should have faith in me and serve and respect me.’ ”
Be careful of the mentality that you are the guardian of Guru and have made him glorious. One person foolishly said, “I am like Gurudeva’s father and mother, his best friend, his all in all. Without me, Gurudeva could not have done what he did.” In response, another devotee said, “Yes! You are everything to Gurudeva, except for one thing—you are not his disciple. You are his father, mother, and guardian, so how can you be his disciple?”
Some people may say that this is a very exalted position and it shows that the mood of opulence towards Guru has gone and that the sevaka has a very close relation, but on the other hand it is said—vancet dravanādibhi—if someone wants a person to be very far away from him, from his heart, then he will give him material respect, wealth, position, and will glorify him. In this way, he will keep that person distance from him. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu instructed His followers to always be amānī-mānada. Amāni-mānada means that one should desire no personal respect and should always give ree to others. So in this way, Śrīla Gurudeva desires no personal respect and he will give respect to others and will praise others. But actually, if guru is worshiping his disciples, then guru is actually neglecting them. It is much better for guru to chastise his disciples. In this way, he protects his disciples from becoming arrogant. If you accept someone as your own, then you should not glorify him and announce his name and fame before others. Guru desires that his sevakas understand their own shortcomings and rectify themselves, that somehow they can change their wayward nature.
When guru gives a turban, tilaka, and glorifies a person, then he is being raised up for a fall, to rectify him of his pride. In Hindi, there is a saying, which means that when people get praised continuously, it makes them more and more puffed up. They become so puffed up that they can no longer sit. They desire more and more prestige. If anyone tells them anything a little bit against them, or a little bit critical, then it is like they burst in anger and shout, “Sālā! Don’t you know who I am? I am the father of Gurudeva.” This is like saying, “I am the guru of my guru; I am everything to him! Without me, Mahārāja would have no life.”
If Gurudeva or Bhagavān praise their dependents, it can give rise to a great anartha in the heart of the sādhakas. It is very hard to tolerate such an anartha.
The disciple should always pray that Śrī Guru chastise him and correct his faults. He should always reserve the right with his guru to chastise him. One should pray to Guru, “Always keep me as your humble follower and chastise me when I do wrong.” If at the time guru chastises his sevaka or disciple, that disciple then also speaks back to guru or reprimands guru, or complains about his Guru to others, then he will certainly fall down. If he goes around complaining, “Oh! Mahārāja said this and that. He was so abusive,” this is taking away the right of guru to chastise. Then the guru will stop chastising and then gradually, the disciple would certainly fall down. Therefore we should always have someone who is there ready to chastise us if we do wrong. Without a guardian we are hopeless.
We should never take away the right of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas to chastise us. If we ourselves go and reprimand our guru or think ourselves to be superior to our guru then he will become silent and will not chastise us. Then guru will worship us. And he will say, “You are everything. You are my master; you are the authority.” So, a sincere sādhaka should always be cautious and understand that if Guru and Vaiṣṇavas begin to regularly praise him and worship him then he should try to rectify that situation before his downfall. He should pray for forgiveness for his offense. And he should always pray to Guru and Vaiṣṇavas that they be his chastiser and guardian.
When this question was asked to Gurudeva about why a sevaka would leave guru or Bhagavān, Gurudeva said, “They are serving physically, but where is their mind? Is their mind engaged in service with sincerity? They look, ‘Oh! Who has come, who has given how much, who is a wealthy person, who has given donations?’ ”
When people come to the sevaka of guru and say, ‘Oh! You sing so nicely and you do such nice service. You cook so well. O Prabhu!
Really you have kept guru completely pleased by your service.’
These people who come and give praise like this are great enemies, because then the sevaka will always be thinking about them and will forget about Guru and Vaiṣṇavas. We think of these people and try to take care of them and to keep them happy. In this way we leave the service of guru and begin serving others. That person is not a real guru-sevaka. He is showing that he is serving guru only to really engage others in his own worship and to enjoy himself. If he is a real sevaka then he will always be eager to be chastised by his guru. He will always be very humble and consider himself insignificant. He prays to guru, ‘If I have any mistake or any shortcoming please at once chastise me and correct me for my fault.’ And if he ever does anything wrong he will fall at the feet of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas and weeping, will pray for forgiveness.
But some people become so arrogant that if guru finds any fault with their character and says anything to them then they are ready to start a fight and they will raise their hand to fight with guru, or they will turn their back on guru and leave him. Or if guru chastises them, then they will leave like a scolded wife and spend days crying here and there, and they will tell everyone they meet, “Oh! Gurudeva is so mean. He wrongly accused me.” They will tell everyone and try to show that they were right and that they had done nothing wrong. If someone acts like this then he has left his dharma as a sevaka. If the ‘se’ from the sevaka is taken away then all that is left is vaka, which means a crane, which represents the hypocrite. That person is only an impostor in the dress of a sevaka. Cranes are white and they have a nice long śikhā, and they do austerities with their eyes closed, standing on one foot in the water. Why?
They only want to catch a fish. They wait and do austerities until a nice big fish comes along and then they snatch it up and eat it. One should be ve careful not to be such a servant of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas. If one is a real sevaka then what happens? Kṛṣṇa-bhakte kṛṣṇera guṇa sakali sañcāre—Kṛṣṇa’s qualities enter His devotees. So if someone is with guru and they are really a bhakta and a servant then all the good qualities of guru and Bhagavān will enter that person. Then he will be humble and fully qualified in all the different manners of vaiṣṇava-sevā and Vaiṣṇavism.
By the good qualities of guru he becomes qualified. What is the fruit of this qualification? He learns to ree all Vaiṣṇavas properly according to their position. He always chants harināma and his mind will be naturally absorbed in Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa’s eternal pastimes.
How can these good qualities and tattva-jñāna enter our hearts? How can we protect our bhakti and maintain a life of service of Hari, Guru and Vaiṣṇavas? Scripture states:
āyur harati vai puṁsām
udyann astaṁ ca yann asau
tasyarte yat-kṣaṇo nīta
Both by rising and by setting, the sun decreases the duration of life of everyone, except one who utilizes the time by discussing topics of the all-good Personality of Godhead.
When the sun and the moon rise and set they steal the span of life of all living beings. The sun and the moon thus enjoy all life forms. All the devatās and dānavas enjoy the mānavas, or humans. When a boy or girl comes into maturity then different supernatural beings come at any opportunity and try to enjoy him or her through some subtle form. Apsarās or gandharvas will come and they will embrace you in their subtle forms and in that way enjoy you and cause you to lose your vital energy. Our life span and vital energy is thus being stolen from us. The presiding deities of the nava-graha, nine planets, are all like different manifestations of time, which steal away the life of all beings. When any planet’s period is acting in a person’s life, then that planet enjoys that person who is under its sign. During the Rāhu period, Rāhu enjoys that person. During the Ketu period, Ketu enjoys that person. Similarly, during one’s maṅgala-daśā or śani-daśā, Mars and Saturn enjoy that person.
Srila Gurudeva ki Jaya! (excerpted from “Sri Guru “Darshan”, please order this wonderful book from [email protected])