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 very 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 respect 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 ve 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 very 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.
We can be saved from this situation by being always absorbed in the Absolute Truth under the guidance of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, by serving them and hearing hari-kathā from them. We should study the Bhāgavatam, Bhagavad-gītā, Rāmāyaṇa, and other scriptures, under guidance of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas. But it is not enough to only hear or read; we must endeavor to remember hari-kathā. While you are engaged in other activities try to remember what you have heard or read. Always remember the teachings and the pastimes of the Lord. And then after remembering, you should perform kīrtana. You should hear, chant, and remember. And not only that, you should also pray. You should hear, chant, remember, and pray. If you do that then these different influences, the planets, the sun and the moon will not be able to take away your life. You will achieve your transcendental form and go beyond this material realm.
A guru-sevaka who is truly serving guru will be empowered with all tattva-jñāna. He will become established in the Absolute Truth.
We cannot be freed from this body, the medium by which we experience endless suffering in this world of matter, until we hear hari-kathā and the glories of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas. When we develop faith in the glory and instructions of sādhus we can understand that our time in saṁsāra is coming to an end. That is when we come on the path to liberation.
The hearts of the sādhus are softer than butter. They are concerned about the welfare of everyone. Just by hearing about their mercy and qualities one becomes purified. If someone is not progressing, even after hearing the glories of Vaiṣṇavas, or in other words, if he does not sincerely associate with the sādhus and accept their hari-kathā and instructions, then there is no one as unfortunate, foolish, and wretched as he in the world.
Srila Gurudeva ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Sri Guru Darshan”. Available from: firstname.lastname@example.org )