Once, a brahmacārī asked Śrīla Gurudeva, “Why do we go on parikramā every year? I heard that in our line mānasī-sevā is the highest practice. So, is it necessary to do parikramā physically year after year? Why don’t we simply visit the holy places mentally?”“Five material elements compose the physical body,” Śrīla Gurudeva answered. “These elements are governed by demigods. If we do not take the body on parikramā and engage it in the service of Hari, Guru and Vaiṣṇavas at the holy places, we will remain indebted to the presiding deities of the elements in our bodies and will not be able to achieve salvation. During parikramā our bodies touch the dhāma and become purified, and we have the opportunity to serve the sādhus. Our bodies thence purified, the senses become favorable to the execution of devotional service. The nine limbs of devotion are naturally performed during parikramā. When we engage in bhakti, the demigods presiding over the elements of the body are pleased and discharge all debt. If we don’t engage our bodies in service, our senses will be agitated, and it is unlikely we will have the mental discipline to serve internally. Laziness is the worst malady. We must cure indolence by forcible engagement in service. For this reason we travel in sādhu-saṅga to all those places where Śrīman Mahāprabhu and Nityānanda Prabhu went with Their associates:gaura āmāra, ye saba sthāne, karala bhramana raṅgese-saba sthena, heriba āmi, praṇayi-bhakata-saṅge‘In the company of devotees that have love for Gaurāṅga Mahāprabhu, I will visit the places where My Lord happily wandered.’“Alone you cannot attain perfection. By going on parikramā in sādhu-saṅga, and smearing the dust of the holy places on your body, you will certainly receive the mercy of Śrī Guru, Kṛṣṇa, and the dhāma.“The Guru-varga serve the dhāma by annually bringing the devotees together for parikramā. They teach us that parikramā of the dhāma must not only be done annually, but daily—no matter where we are physically. We learn from them that we must first offer praṇāmas to the Guru-varga when we wake in the early morning, chant our mantras, and also visit all the dhāmas, praying to Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, ‘Please let me stay nearby you. Without you I am a helpless orphan. Please do not reject me.’ You will always be with Guru and Vaiṣṇavas if you have this humble and prayerful mood.“While chanting harināma, you should mentally go to Vraja-maṇḍala, Navadvīpa-maṇḍala, and Kṣetra-maṇḍala. Offer obeisance at each of the places within these dhāmas, and pray at those places, as well as to all the devotees and associates of Rādhā, Kṛṣṇa, and Mahāprabhu. Render service in the mind by sweeping, cleaning, and decorating the dhāma, and offer gifts to the Deities. By doing so, your mind will be present in the spiritual abodes and will not wander in the realm of illusion, māyā-maṇḍala.“The dhāma cuts our relations with our temporary home and family, and awakens our relation with our eternal home and family. In truth, we are refugees in this world; like guests staying for some time in a boarding house—our material body. In these temporary dwellings we meet with many other refugees, whom we call our relatives. Inevitably however, death will come and all these relations will be lost. We must understand this bitter lesson. The duty of sādhus is to take the conditioned souls to the dhāma and connect them to Kṛṣṇa and His associates. is Navadvīpa-dhāma Parikramā has been going on continually from the time of Nityānanda Prabhu and Jīva Gosvāmī, to the time of Prabhupāda Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. My Guru Mahārāja continued this tradition and that continuation runs on to this day. All branches of the Gauḍīya Maṭha perform Navadvīpa-dhāma Parikramā.”In 1986, a massive celebration was held in Māyāpura for Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s fifth centennial. Millions of people came to Māyāpura from India and all over the world in the days before and after Gaura-pūrṇimā just for a chance to see the birthplace of Mahāprabhu. In preparation for all the people, the Bengal government set up temporary shelters, hand-pump wells, lights, and other facilities all around Māyāpura. The Indian Prime Minister granted 25 lākhas rupees for preparation and orchestration of the festival.Each branch of the Gauḍīya Maṭha organized a party of many thousands for Navadvīpa Parikramā; the overall congregation of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas was well over a hundred thousand adherents from all over India. The fifteen thousand strong Parikramā party of the Gauḍīya Vedānta Samīti, led by Śrīla Gurudeva and his dear godbrothers, Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja, and Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Trikrama Gosvāmī Mahārāja, was the largest group.ISKCON invited the Parikramā party of the Gauḍīya Vedānta Samīti to participate in their opulent celebrations at the Māyāpura Candrodaya-mandira on Jagannātha Miśra Mahotsava. Śrīla Gurudeva led the procession from Devānanda Gauḍīya Maṭha to Māyāpura, with dozens of other sannyāsīs and scores of brahmacārīs, all singing, playing instruments, and dancing ecstatically in saṅkīrtana. A hundred and eight mṛdaṅgas played in rhythm to the kīrtana of Mahāprabhu’s names and glories, and devotees carried 108 clay pots of paraphernalia for Mahāprabhu’s abhiṣeka. As the grand procession entered the Candrodaya-mandira’s gates, the devotees were welcomed with showers of flower petals from both sides.Śrīla Gurudeva spoke in the temple room, glorifying Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja, and the specialty of Māyāpura and Mahāprabhu. Gurudeva concluded his speech saying, “The glories and specialties of Sri Guru are always present in the place that Vaiṣṇavas are welcome, and those who respect Vaiṣṇavas can experience the mercy of Śrī Guru. Those who serve and respect the family and disciples of Śrī Guru are true guru-sevakas. Today, the magnanimous disciples of Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja have conquered the world by their service to the Vaiṣṇavas.”Thereafter, Śrīla Gurudeva offered puṣpāñjali to the deity of Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja, and then proceeded to Yogapīṭha with the Parikramā party. At midday, over 50,000 Mahāprabhu-bhaktas gathered in a field by Śrīdhara-āṅgana. Śrīla Gurudeva had arranged for the distribution of kicari, sweet rice, chutney, sabjis, and other varieties of prasāda, with generous help from Rāma Praka from Mathurā, Phuland from Āgrā, and other devotees. (click on the Title to read the full article)
Śrīla Gurudeva held a special discussion. He gave strong instructions on how to balance one’s day: a balance of sādhana-bhajana and temple services, a balance of sādhana-bhajana and preaching activities, a balance of sādhana-bhajana and family responsibilities, and a balance of sādhana-bhajana and earning money. Gurudeva began by saying that those who are not demons but are not doing bhajana are like very ignorant donkeys, kicked by the hind legs of the she-donkeys and taking all the burden of the washerman.In Holland, Śrīla Gurudeva said: “Persons favorable to devotion are of two kinds, and those who are not following the process, the rules of devotees and devotion, are greater in number. Real devotees are few, and even among that small number there are many divisions. Most are initiated by unqualified, false gurus, and even those with bona fide gurus are of many types. Some think, ‘My fire sacrifice has been performed and I have a sacred thread; therefore I am initiated.’ Such persons wear big tilaka, but there is no dīkṣā in the true sense, and they are continuing their unfavorable or sinful activities. They are greater in number, and we may be also in this category. There is no thick relationship with Kṛṣṇa and no real knowledge of tattva—not of jīva-tattva, bhagavata-tattva, guru-tattva, māyā tattva, or prema-tattva. Even if they remember a mantra like ‘aiṁ guruve namaḥ,’ their minds are elsewhere. After ten minutes they think, ‘What am I doing?’ They were sleeping or just drifting off. Then, while chanting, ‘klīm caitanyāya vidmahe,’ the mind is absent for half an hour. Most of us are in this category of struggle.”Śrīla Gurudeva continued: “Worldly affairs come, our job or the like, and we are always very careful and cautious in these affairs. The mind is always there—in computers and here and there—and not in the guru-gayatri and the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra. A pure devotee comes and inspires them, but as soon as he leaves—nothing is in there. Such persons numbers are greater. Others cannot follow ‘tṛṇad api sunīcena’ or even Srila Rūpa Gosvāmī’s instructions in Upadeśāmṛta: ‘vāco vegaṁ manasaḥ krodha-vegaṁ.’ Some wear neck beads of only one strand, which do not even touch the neck. Even in the military there are some rules and etiquette, and the soldiers are punished if they do not follow them. If we cannot follow these things, how can we follow vraja-prema? Caitanya Mahāprabhu and His associates were all paramahaṁsas, but they all followed Vaiṣṇava etiquette. If we follow their rules and regulations, a taste will come. In school there is daily reading and requirements completing the tasks given by the teacher. First, vāco vegaṁ: control your tongue. The today, ‘I will not quarrel with my wife or husband, children, Gurudeva, and other devotees.’ Without this you cannot control your anger. Don’t take rich foodstuffs. The fault of overeating is not only the fault of the tongue. All five senses are guilty, including the eyes. Looking brings attachment. Don’t try to be astrologers, and don’t read books other than bhakti books. There is no harm if you have not studied in school and colleges. By chanting, remembering, and serving Gurudeva you will be happy. Nothing else will make you happy.“Don’t criticize all the Kaṁsas and Jarasandas. Spend your time in always glorifying Nanda, Yaśodā, the gopas, gopīs, Kṛṣṇa, and the devotees. Don’t care much for your life’s maintenance. A lower-class devotee can do so, but when you are mature, you have nothing to do in this regard. What you need will easily come. Don’t talk prajalpa. Chant one lākha of holy names daily. If this is not possible, then chant fifty-thousand names. If not, then thirty-two rounds. If not, then go to the ocean and at once jump in. You should certainly go to the Pacific or Atlantic Ocean. Chant, but if your bona fide guru has come to give a lecture, then go and hear. Then your chanting will become high-class. Be confident that by doing all this, surely kṛṣṇa-prema will come. First finish these things, then do anything to maintain your life. The holy name will arrange everything for you.“Don’t associate with friends or family members if they are not devotees. They are all cheaters. If you are ugly, with two or three children, your husband will reject you and take a new wife. So, give up all your other jobs and come to śaraṇāgati—full surrender to Kṛṣṇa.”Some of the hundreds of devotees present were meeting Śrīla Gurudeva for the first time, and some had been waiting since the year before, counting the seconds. Some, although meeting with him in one or two countries each year, for the past three, four, or five years, were just now realizing the magnitude of their fortune in getting the most rare and precious association of such a high-class pure Vaiṣṇava from Vraja. Many within the various categories of devotees were now in the process of changing all their priories in life and were preparing to leave their money and position to remain with Śrīla Gurudeva. Holland was the first place of Śrīla Gurudeva’s preaching in the West. He was now fond of calling it “Holyland.” It was in Holland that he first initiated disciples outside of India. By now he had thousands of disciples in the West, and thus far this year’s tour had already made another three hundred fortunate in this way.
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)
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