Vaiṣṇavas next teach how to perform pāda-sevanam. Pāda-sevanam means to serve while following good etiquette. If one has good etiquette, he will serve respectfully without a mood of neglect, as if he is performing a duty by force. This is bhakti’s first aid. At the stage of pāda-sevanam, one has some taste. As Gaṅgā comes from the lotus feet of God, washing and purifying everyone, pāda-sevanam means one has desire for the service of Vaiṣṇavas, God, and the holy dhāma. It also means going on parikramā. Parikramā means going to serve, not to make a place dirty by spitting or passing there. One should clean, worship, and serve the holy places, not go to them for tourism. By serving Kṛṣṇa’s līlā-bhūmi, the mercy of those pastime places will come to one and one will achieve a relationship with the holy dhāma.

One should go to the holy dhāmas and serve; otherwise it is not called pāda-sevanam. If one has no service or responsibility, he is like an orphan dog. Seriously take some responsibility, vowing, “Every day I will do this service,” as Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī ordered Śyāmānanda Prabhu, “Daily sweep the pathways of Vraja.” If one has no service, he goes very far away. Pāda-sevanam means direct service of Guru, Hari, Vaiṣṇavas, dhāma, Gaṅgā, Tulasī, and so forth. To make a relationship with the divine personalities, pāda-sevanam, or service, is essential. Pāda-sevanam means one will be a servant, nearby the lotus feet of the transcendental personalities. If one does nothing, only taking care of his health and having no responsibility, with a free mind and desire, he certainly will perform some bad activities. If one serves the Deity, he is near God to a certain extent. If he serves the dhāma, he is closer still; if he serves God’s associates, he is more nearby. And if he serves the Vaiṣṇavas, he is even closer and dearer to God. By pāda-sevanam, all līlās, knowledge, and everything will manifest in the heart.

This is called śuddha-sattva-viśeṣātmā—God’s associates will bestow a ray of pure love upon you, and your heart will become very soft. Taste will come. Relation will come. And one will be close and very near. The transcendental personalities will then take care of us. By taking shelter of them, they will be our guardians and will watch over and think about us. Therefore, develop relationship with the Guru-varga. This is very sweet.

Then, arcana-aṅga-bhakti comes. If one takes dīkṣā with a viṣṇu-mantra, then he has a relation with Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Without worshipping Śrī Hari and making some offering to Him, one should not eat anything. Otherwise, one will go to hell. Some think, “Now I am a brahmacārī, a tyāgī. I have nothing. How can I serve the Lord?”

Such a person tries to cheat God. He has a body and worships his body day and night, doing abhiṣeka by bathing it, worshipping it by giving food, cleaning it and so forth; so, why doesn’t he worship the Deities of God or the Vaiṣṇavas? The servant of his body becomes mad. Because of over-attachment to his body, when leaving his body, he will suffer very much, thinking, “I am losing everything.” If the body has the slightest pain or discomfort, he becomes very sad. If one worships Śrī Vigraha, the Deity of God, attachment for the body will be less and less and then, finally, completely finished. Every fifteen days, one will fast; when the body says, “Give me food or water,” if one says, “No! I won’t give,” the body thinks, “Now he is very strong and is not giving me food. If I act against him, he will not give me anything and will give me up completely.” Then the body will never argue.

The sādhaka should worship the Deity with faith that the Lord is directly present before him. Mahāprabhu said, “Pratimā nahe tumi sākṣāt vrajendra-nandana (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya 5.96) “You are not an image; You are directly Vrajendra-nandana.”

One should worship the Deity of Kṛṣṇa as God Himself. The Deity is transcendental. Serve the Lord in His form as a Deity with deep love and faith.

When it is Janmāṣṭamī, one should think, “Today is Kṛṣṇa’s birthday! I will arrange a wonderful festival!” When it is Kārtika, one should think, “Oh! It is Rādhārānī’s month! Urjā-vrata! All power comes this month from svarūpa-śakti. Kṛṣṇa distributes the ūrjā, power of Urjeśvarī Śrīmatī Rādhārānī. Kṛṣṇa promises to give anyone who comes to the holy dhāma in this month the power of svarūpa-śakti, whether they are qualified or not, a businessman or madman, old or young. He promises to accept all and give them the power of svarūpa-śakti.”

One should think, “It is Ekādaśī. I will worship Kṛṣṇa and invite many people.”

Śrīla Gurudeva started this in Mathurā. He invited many people from all over Mathurā to come and perform nāma-saṅkīrtana on every Ekādaśī, in different groups.

Then, Vaiṣṇavas teach vandana. How should one pray? Śrīla Gurudeva would instruct his followers to pray with the verse: tat te ‘nukampāṁ su-samīkṣamāṇo



Completely fix your faith in the advice of Śrī Guru. Imbibe Śrī Guru’s vāṇī, transcendental instructions. Don’t look or run here and there. If guru’s heart melts, all his love and affection will come to you. You are the calf of Śrī Guru. A calf will not go to any buffalo, goat, pig, elephant, or camel for milk. When a calf is born, he will not even take milk from any other cow. He drinks from his own mother’s breasts. And a cow will not give her milk to the calf of another cow.

Anything you hear from Guru-pāda-padma, keep that with you like a seed. Every day, practice that. After continual practice, this will become perfect. When you daily clean iron, it will shine like steel. If you daily smear a clay pot with ghee, it will become very strong and shiny. Guru Mahārāja gives mantra and dīkṣā—daily practice that, remember and repeat those mantras. Gurudeva is the rasamaya-vigraha, embodiment of rasa. Anything that comes from his lips is sweeter than honey. This is very helpful for increasing one’s bhakti and bestowing bhakti-rasa. Therefore, very carefully accept the vāṇī of Guru-pāda-padma, his transcendental teachings. Never be hopeless. If you have no desire to follow the mantra and teachings of Śrī Guru, then you will never develop your bhakti. Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī came to Caitanya Mahāprabhu and was offered in the shelter of Śrī Svarūpa Dāmodara. Dāsa Gosvāmī would come and pray to Mahāprabhu, “You never give me any instruction.”

“You are with Svarūpa Dāmodara. What he says is good for you. If I tell you to do something and you don’t follow, then it will be problematic.”

Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī requested Svarūpa Dāmodara to beg Mahāprabhu to give him even one small instruction. Then Mahāprabhu said:

grāmya-kathā nā śunibe, grāmya-vārtā nā kahibe

bhāla nā khāibe āra bhāla nā paribe

amānī mānada hañā kṛṣṇa-nāma sadā la’be

vraje rādhā-kṛṣṇa-sevā mānase karibe

Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya-līlā 6.236-237

Do not speak mundane topics or hear what general people have to say. You should not eat very rich, palatable food, nor should you wear very nice clothing. Do not expect respect, but honor all others. Always chant Kṛṣṇa’s names, and within your mind and heart render service to Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa in Vraja.

Mahāprabhu told only four lines to Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī. Then, for the rest of his life, Dāsa Gosvāmī followed these instructions every day.

Any order that Gurudeva gives, any word he speaks, don’t think this is ordinary. Any order Gurudeva gives means that he came near you with that order in the form of his speech. Gurudeva is the bhakti-rasamaya-vigraha. He gives you this bhakti-rasa through his instructions. This is then your property, your wealth, your life and soul. But if you don’t accept this and don’t keep this with you, and if you don’t try to follow his advice, then you are very far away from Guru Mahārāja. You have lost everything. Anything Gurudeva says is truthful. If a disciple accepts this, this is bhakti-rasa.

Gurudeva is bhajanānanda and rasa-mādhurī—his heart is very soft and always absorbed in the sweet pastimes of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. All the Guru-paramparā is included in Śrī Guru—Param-guru, Parameṣṭhī-guru, Parātpar-guru, Paramparātpar-guru. Guru Mahārāja is not alone. His heart has a place for the Guru-varga and God. Don’t think, “My Guru Mahārāja is alone; other gurus are separate from him.” Mad guru jagad-guru—if I serve my Guru Mahārāja, I am serving all gurus. If I don’t serve my Guru Mahārāja, but rather run here and there trying to serve everyone, the result will be zero.

IS GURU BHAKTI FIRST? Is Guru-sevā the only way?

IS GURU BHAKTI FIRST? Is Guru-sevā the only way?

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 bhajana-rasa-dhara 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.

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



Śrīla Gurudeva did not give dīkṣā initiations for more than two decades after Acarya Kesarī’s disappearance. Nonetheless, he was widely revered as a spiritual master during this me. Many accepted Śrīla Gurudeva as a parakīya-guru and in turn he accepted them as parakīya disciples. Devotees from ISKCON, other Gauḍīya Maṭhas, local brāhmaṇas and priests, and village people from different castes all respected and accepted Śrīla Gurudeva as their beloved teacher and guardian. Examples of parakīya-guru and disciples can also be seen in the lives of the Six Gosvāmīs and previous ācāryas.

In some cases, the indirect disciple is superior to the direct disciple. If someone has offered everything to the lotus feet of a Vaiṣṇava, and the Vaiṣṇava has accepted one as his own, then mantra and dīkṣā are a formality. Our lineage is the bhāgavata-parampara—in which prominence is given to śikṣā, spiritual instruction. The siksa-guru increases faith in Gurudeva and Bhagavān and is as significant as the dīkṣā-guru. If one undergoes a formal dīkṣā ceremony yet never receives śikṣā, he will never be able to advance in bhakti. Śrīla Gurudeva told some of those who stayed with him, “You are my parakīya (indirect) disciples. This is a sweet relation.”

The dīkṣā-guru protects his disciples by sending them to high-class Vaiṣṇava association. The path of anugatya is illuminated by the disciplic succession: the mañjarīs serve under the guidance of the sakhīs, the Guru-varga serves under the guidance of the mañjarīs, and the Vaiṣṇavas serve under guidance of the Guru-varga. For sādhakas it is thus essential to follow the footsteps of those Vaiṣṇavas who are intimately connected to the Guru-varga. Then one will not endeavor to cultivate worldly friends and will certainly advance on the path of pure devotion for Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa.

Various ācāryas would send their brahmacārī disciples to Śrīla Gurudeva to learn how to practice strict sādhana. Also, followers of different spiritual masters would seek the guidance of Gurudeva after their own guru had departed. Over the following years, in addition to the numerous disciples of Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja who trained under Śrīla Gurudeva, many disciples of Śrīla Bhakti Jīvana Janārdana Mahārāja, Śrīla Bhakti Śrīrupa Siddhāntī Mahārāja, Śrīla Bhakti Sāraṅga Gosvāmī Mahārāja, Śrīla Bhakti Pramoda Purī Mahārāja, Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja, Śrīla Gour Govinda Mahārāja, as well as other ācāryas, trained under Śrīla Gurudeva. Gurudeva welcomed and cared for everyone. He always received the spiritual masters of those who came to him and taught those disciples how to properly serve their own guru; he never encouraged them to neglect their guru. He acted as siksa-guru without selfish motives. Many disciples of different gurus dwelt there harmoniously, yet everyone worshiped their own spiritual master with the full support and encouragement of Śrīla Gurudeva. When brahmacārīs of different gurus recited jaya-dhvani (names of spiritual masters and holy places declaimed before and after temple programs), Gurudeva instructed them to first praise the name of their own spiritual master. Such an ideal Vaiṣṇava is met only by great fortune.

Srila Gurudeva, Srila Bhaktivedānta Trivikrama Gosvami Maharaja, and Srila Bhaktivedānta Vāmana Gosvami Maharaja, were best of friends and closer than brothers. Although Srila Vamana Gosvami Maharaja was the official acarya, he always collaborated with Śrīla Gurudeva and Śrīla Trikrama Gosvāmī Mahārāja, and together they made all the decisions for the maintenance and development of the Gauḍīya Vedānta Samitī. These three godbrothers, known as the three pillars of the Samitī, first discussed issues together, and later had open meetings with the other members of the society. For a spiritual organization to be successful and to prevent it from being derailed from the authorized ideology and lineage, self-realized souls must be in positions of authority. The ideas of ordinary people generally cause disharmony.

Before giving dīkṣā initiations during festivals such as Gaura-pūrṇimā, Śrīla Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja would offer Śrīla Gurudeva prostrated obeisance—Gurudeva naturally returned the respectful gesture. Even though Śrīla Gurudeva was junior, Śrīla Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja would humbly say, “I am about to perform a sinful act, taking on the sins and offenses of these people. Please protect me.”

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Vāmana Gosvami Maharaja sent many of those he initiated—and who wished to be brahmacārīs—to study under the guidance of Śrīla Gurudeva at Keśavajī Gauḍīya Maṭha in Mathurā. Śrīla Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja would instruct them, “Go stay under the guidance of Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja and learn from him. If you disrespect or disobey the Vaiṣṇavas, and they dismiss you, then I will also not give you any shelter.”

Whenever Pūjyapāda Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja would come to Mathurā, he would bring many gifts like brooms, Bengali vegetables—banana flowers, jafru, parmal—cloth for the Deities and the Vaiṣṇavas, and sundries; he never came empty-handed.
Śrīla Gurudeva would occassionaly invite Śrīla Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja to Mathurā to give dīkṣā initiations to Mathurāvāsīs or brahmacārīs who were prepared. When these pure Vaiṣṇavas met, they offered praṇāma to each other and then spent many hours sitting side by side, engaged in conversation. Śrīla Gurudeva would give all the donations he had received to Śrīla Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja, who would in turn give everything he had collected to Śrīla Gurudeva. These collections were then mutually entrusted with the treasurer of the Gauḍīya Vedānta Samitī, Kṛṣṇa-kṛpā Prabhu, and when funds were needed for festivals or for maintaining various temple projects, they withdrew and used them accordingly. Śrīla Trikrama Gosvāmī Mahārāja also reserved donations he received throughout the year during his collections in the area of Chunura, from Uddhāraṇa Gauḍīya Maṭha, and he would deposit this with his godbrothers when they met four or five times annually. These three ideal godbrothers had complete trust in each other and they thus harmoniously served the cause of their divine master.

Sometimes godbrothers or their disciples came from other temples and stayed with Śrīla Gurudeva in Mathurā. He always taught them to respect and worship their own Gurudeva. Śrīla Gurudeva encouraged everyone to follow the appearance and disappearance days of all Vaiṣṇava-ācāryas; indeed, Śrīla Gurudeva himself respected and followed their āvirbhāva and tirobhava festivals. Śrīla Gurudeva always taught how to properly follow Vaiṣṇava etiquette by his own example. Śrīla Gurudeva instructed the brahmacārīs, “Never think that other Vaiṣṇavas besides your guru should not be respected. Śrī Caitanya



During Vraja-maṇḍala Parikramā, Śrīla Gurudeva, who at that time would go everywhere personally, left me behind in Mathurā to cook and arrange whatever was necessary. One day, the party went with two buses to Govardhana, and somehow or another Tīrtha Mahārāja pulled me unto the bus by force and made me sit. “Come with us for darśana!” he said. But when Śrīla Gurudeva looked back from the front and saw me sitting, he immediately got off the bus, which had not yet started, and walked toward the temple.

I thought, “Oh! He is going to cut sabjī and cook in the maṭha.” Immediately I got off the bus and ran to him. I quickly ran back to the temple and began all my services. When Śrīla Gurudeva saw me cleaning pots, sweeping, and cooking, he again got on the bus and went for darśana. So, what is important? Our own pleasure or the pleasure of Śrī Guru? How can we please Gurudeva?

When will that day come, when Guru and Vaiṣṇavas will engage us in their service and thus manifest the holy places in our heart.

In earlier years, we used to do Vraja-maṇḍala Parikramā on foot and with one or two bullock carts. We would set up kitchen and camp wherever we went. Gurudeva told me, “Even if you are sick, I will not let you go.” One time I was so sick but Gurudeva did not let me leave the parikramā and go to the hospital. He said, “If you will die here? I will bury you here and if you become ghost, I will take your ghost with me on parikramā. I will not let you go to the hospital. You must come with me. You cannot give up this Vraja-maṇḍala Parikramā and you cannot give up your sevā.”

I had such a high fever but I cooked anyhow. When I needed to do service I would have some strength. Then as soon as I finished cooking or serving I would fall ill once more, hardly able to move.

Śrīla Gurudeva taught us that this body becomes sick and one day will die. It will be burnt or eaten by worms. But if we are engaged always in service and if we always stay in the company of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, then our anarthas and our attachments will go away.

Leaving Guru and Vaiṣṇavas is easy, but once we have left them we can never come back. If you are sitting in a car or in a fast chariot, then you can go so far, so quickly, but if you fall off the chariot, then you can never run and catch-up with it because it is going much faster than you.

Guru and Vaiṣṇavas are like a transcendental chariot blazing through the material universe. If you take up their association you will travel with them at great speed. It is like being on a train. But if you jump off the train you will never be able to catch up to the train. We must therefore do anything for the attainment of sādhu-saṅga. If you are with Guru and Vaiṣṇavas then nothing in this world can harm you. But if you give up the association of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas so many problems will come.

Now I understand the glories of association with Śrī Guru, therefore, I have no attraction, no worries, and no disturbance. My heart and mind is always connected with Gurudeva and in thoughts of him.

Who will manifest the holy places in our hearts? Only Śrī Guru can do that. Sādhu-saṅga is extremely rare. It is the most valuable thing imaginable.

You should know that sādhus themselves are holy places personified. Śrīla Gurudeva used to take us to Jagannātha Purī. We were staying at Nīlācala Gauḍīya-maṭha. Śrīla Gurudeva took us to all the special sites there and engaged us in hari-kathā and kīrtana.

Utthana Ekadasi and the Disappearance Day of Srila Gaura-kisora das Babaji Maharaja

Utthana Ekadasi and the Disappearance Day of Srila Gaura-kisora das Babaji Maharaja

In Jaiva-dharma, Bhaktivinoda Thakura wrote that the people who do not follow the proper etiquette of Vaisnavism, who do not have renunciation, and who do not perform sadhana, should not be sannyasis and babajis. They will only be vantasis, or vomit-eaters. If they have no real relation and no real affection, how can they understand anything? How can they control their senses?

Bhaktivinoda Thakura was very serious. He called Bimala Prasada and said, “First you should begin daiva-varnasrama-dharma. Do not break the rules and regulations of dharma. Don’t jump to being a paramahamsa until you are above Maya. In this way, follow the rules of regulation of Vaisnavism in vaidhi-marga. Then open training-centers, or temples, mathas, and asramas. These will be places for students to reside. Then, you should also have books.

siddhanta baliya citte na kara alasa
iha ha-ite krishne lage sudridha manasa
—Caitanya Caritamrta, Adi 2.117

“Without discussing siddhanta, the mind will not be fixed in Krsna. You should distribute, write, and study these books. Then thirdly, you should give paramartiki-diksa. There is pancaratrika-diksa, and there is svarasiki-maya, or paramartika-diksa. When someone comes, he should first receive pancaratriki-diksa according to ordinary rules and regulation. Then, when they develop sraddha for sadhu-sanga and start the process of anartha-nivrtti, while engaging in bhajana-kriya, then they can receive paramartika-diksa. There is a great divide between pancaratrka-diksa and paramartika-diksa.”

Diksa-guru and siksa-guru are non-different. One must have a desire to follow bhajana-kriya, and a desire for real self-realization. A person who follows this tradition can be diksa-guru or siksa-guru. Many people instruct others to chant, but they do not chant themselves. What does that mean? That means that they are powerless. They are so-called gurus. They are not connected to God. To be connected to God, one must take shelter of the Guru-varga. When the guru-varga gives advice to chant harinama, then a real disciple never stops chanting. He will not be able to give up harinama. He will have a desire to hear hari-katha and to serve Hari, and he will progress slowly. But, they will progress, and they will never lose this path. When the siksa-guru gives instruction, people naturally desire to follow those instructions, but when a bogus-guru gives instructions, people will have no inspirations to follow him.

Listen to our latest classes:

“Rasik Mohan Das and the Bhaktabandhav team are doing an invaluable service publishing the hari-katha of Sripada Premananda Prabhu, Srila Gurudeva B.V. Narayana Gosvami Maharaja, and the books of the acaryas. Books like Sri Guru Darsana, Krsna-karnamrta, Radha-rasa-sudhanidhi, and so on, provide a wealth of information and purification: these volumes make one feel as though they are in Gurudeva’s presence, imbibing pure bhakti as only he could provide it.”

— Steven J. Rosen, Satyaraja Dasa (acbsp), author of 30 books on Gaudiya Vaishnavism, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Vaishnava Studies, and associate editor of Back to Godhead