Why do we use the word ‘samādhi’? What is the meaning? Śrīla Gurudeva says that if one does mantra-sādhana, or meditiation, this is called vaidhī-marga. This will first result in sukṛti, and after some time it will give vaikuṇṭhīya-bhakti. But if anyone goes to the samādhi place of a rāgānuga or rūpānuga bhakta, praying, crying, begging, and surrendering there, then this rāgānuga or rūpānuga bhakta’s samādhi will give that person a connection to anurāgamayī-bhakti, by bestowing spiritual power and taste upon him.

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu used to discuss bhakti all the time, with Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī, and Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura. After Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura departed from this world, Mahāprabhu took his aprākṛta (transcendental) body and, together with all the devotees, carried him to the tīrtha-rāja ocean. There they performed abhiṣeka (ritual bathing) of his sacred body, applied tilaka, gave a new dor-kaupīna (loincloth), and offered jagannātha-prasādam and jagannāthavastra (cloth). After all this, Śrīman Mahāprabhu, with His own hands, placed Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura in samādhi. Mahāprabhu then explained that anyone who was present at that samādhi-giving ceremony, who helped to establish the samādhi site, even if by offering just one handful of sand; anyone who saw the ceremony, did
nāma-saṅkīrtana there, or just offered respect to that place, they will all attain prema-bhakti, kṛṣṇa-bhakti, vraja-bhakti. Pṛthivī-devī (Mother Earth) is perpetually pleased, now that she holds the transcendental body of Haridāsa Ṭhākura in his samādhi. And in the future, whenever a sādhaka comes to this samādhi, offers respect and obeisance there, sits and hears the glories of Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhakura, or chants harināma in that place, then that samādhi will help the sādhaka and give him prema-bhakti.

Over 500 years have passed since Haridāsa Ṭhākura was placed in samādhi in Jagannatha Puri. When we visit there now,  we see that Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Śrī Advaita Ācārya, Śrī Jagannātha-deva, and Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Govinda are all present with Haridāsa Ṭhakura at his samādhi. Together, they continuously distribute nāma-prema-rasa. Śrīman Mahāprabhu explained that any remnant item, anything that was used by or related to a mahā-bhāgavata anurāgī-bhakta is forever helpful for the sādhaka. After Lord Rāmacandra had left Ayodhyā, Bharata Mahārāja took the Lord’s wooden shoes. He worshiped those shoes and prayed to them. Thus, he received Lord Rāmacandra’s mercy and was able to help the jīvas

After placing Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura in samādhi, Śrīman Mahāprabhu Himself went for bhikṣā (begging alms). In honor of Haridāsa Ṭhākura, He arranged nice mahā-prasādam, which He distrib­uted to all the bhaktas. He then glorified Haridāsa Ṭhākura. He said, “If you leave Me, I will be alone.” Previously, Haridāsa Ṭhākura had told Mahāprabhu, “I know You are going soon, but I will not be able to tolerate this separation from You. Therefore, I want to go before you.” So now Mahāprabhu is saying, “If you leave us, then Pṛthivī-devī and this whole world will become orphaned.” Therefore, Mahāprabhu arranged a samādhi
center for him.

The Importance of Śrī Guru’s Vigraha

When ordinary people, like māyāvādīs, bhogīs, karmīs, jñānīs, and yogīs, leave this world, their dead body is burned or thrown in water. Some cultures dry dead bodies in the sun, while others put them in oil or chemicals, and still others put them in a box and bury them. They may keep a memorial place for that person, but such a memorial place is not helpful. It will not give kṛṣṇa-bhakti or help to purify the soul. Why? Ordinary people do not identify with their soul. They don’t believe in their soul, but instead have attachment to their body. They have material ideas. However, the body and soul of mahā-bhāgavata Vaiṣṇavas are both transcendental. Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī explains,

dīkṣā-kāle sisya kare ātma-samarpaṇa

sei-kāle kṛṣṇa tāre kare ātma-sama

sei deha kare tāra cid-ānanda-maya

aprākṛta-dehe tāṅra caraṇa bhajaya

Ś Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya-līlā 4.192–193)

[At the time of dīkṣā, when a disciple fully surrenders unto the Lord, Śrī Kṛṣṇa accepts him to be as good as Himself. When the devotee’s body is thus transformed into spiritual existence, he renders service to the lotus feet of the Lord in that transcendental body. ]

If anyone takes dīkṣā from a sad-guru, Kṛṣṇa makes that person’s body transcendental. A conditioned soul may see that body, touch it, serve it, discuss with it, or take help from it, but that body will not be mundane. It may look mundane, but it has spiritual power. Therefore, if such a body is kept somewhere, that place is called a samādhi center. Clever and qualified people will not run to God’s temples; instead they will go the samādhi centers of our mahā-bhāgavata guru-varga. They will not run anywhere else, and from these samādhi centers, they are receiving special benefit.

Śrī Caitanya Mahaprabhu used to go to Ṭoṭā Gopinātha every day, to meet with Gadādhara Paṇḍita. Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura writes,

hā hā kaṣṭaṁ sakala-jagatāṁ bhaktibhājāṁ viśeśaṁ

gopīnāthālaya-parisare kīrtane yaḥ prasośe

aprākaṭyaṁ bata samabhajan mohayan bhakta-netraṁ

vande tasyāprakaṭa-caritaṁ nityam aprākṛtaṁ tam

Ś Gaurāṅga-līlā-smaraṇa-maṅgala-stotram (101)

One evening, Śrī Gaurahari was dancing in the beautiful sunset saṅkīrtana, in the Toṭa-Gopīnātha temple, enchanting the devotees’ eyes. He ran to embrace Gopīnātha, and when He met with Him, He entered into Him and never came out. Now He is eternally present there. Alas Alas the devotees througout the entire universe have now become filled with intense grief.

Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura explains that when our guru-varga descend from the eternal world into this material world, they enter into a body. This body is like a temple or kuñja-kuṭīra in which they perform their service. But when their manifest pastimes come to an end, then, by the order of svarūpa-śakti, they move to another kuñja and continue to serve from there. Just like Nityānanda Prabhu, who at the end of His manifest pastimes went to Ekacakrā-grāma. There, He met with Baṅkima Rāya and He hid Himself inside that Deity. Later, Jāhnavā-mātā and Vasudhā-devī also went there and became deities next to the Baṅkima Rāya Deity in which Nityānanda Prabhu is present.

The guru-varga like to share their wealth of bhakti with the conditioned jīvas. To continuously help these jīvas, they each open their own center, or branch office – their samādhi-kuñja. All their activities have one purpose: to give vraja-bhakti to the conditioned souls. If anyone comes to their samādhi-kuñja, following every­thing he previously learned from his guru and aspiring to fulfill his guru’s desire, then the guru-varga will pray for him.

A prime example of this is Ācārya Rāmānūja, who never had the opportunity to directly meet with his guru, Śrī Yamunācārya, while he performed his manifest pastimes. Rather, Ācārya Rāmānūja first
came to Śrī Yamunācārya just after Śrī Yamunācārya had entered his final state of samādhi. Prior to this first external meeting, Ācārya Rāmānūja had already accepted Śrī Yamunācārya in his heart as his guru. Thus, at their first direct meeting, Ācārya Rāmānūja fully surrendered to Śrī Yamunācārya and earnestly prayed to his guru’s samādhi-vigraha, or spiritual body. Śrī Yamunācārya then fully accepted Ācārya Rāmānūja, and  although he had already entered the state of samādhi, he gave Ācārya Rāmānūja all the necessary answers for his spiritual progress. He made him fully qualified and made him into a spiritual master and ācārya.

Another such example is that of Gaurīdāsa Paṇḍita. Śrīla Gurudeva explained that when Gaurīdāsa Paṇḍita served and pleased Mahāprabhu and Nityānanda Prabhu, Śrī Śrī Gaura-Nitāī gave him Deities of Themselves, so he could always serve Them. Initially, upon receiving these Deities, Gaurīdāsa Paṇḍita was bewildered; he could not distinguish between the Gaura Nitāī who had visited his house and Their forms as Deities. After serving the Deities, however, he realized that there actually was no difference. This is the opposite of ‘blind faith.’ Anyone who is practicing bhakti and realizing something can truly understand reality and then share this with others.

Ācārya Rāmānūja gave his own deity to his disciples and followers for them to serve while he was still physically present in this world. If anyone would ask that deity a question, the deity would answer; the deity was accepting bhoga and everything that was offered to him.

Kṛṣṇa told Uddhava, “I am leaving this world, but if anyone makes My Deity and worships Me in that form, then I will be present with him and I will accept his service. They can make my Deity in eight ways: they can carve it from wood; make it from clay; paint it; make it out of brass, iron, copper, silver, gold, or any other alloy; carve it from stone; make it of sand; make it of pearls and jewels; or it can be mentally conceived. However anyone chooses to worship and follow Me, I will be present there, helping him and accepting his sevā.

The same applies to Śrī Gurupāda-padma and to all the mahā-bhāgavata Vaiṣṇavas. Before, Śrīla Gurudeva appeared as just one deity – the body he used while he was physically present in this world. But when that body entered samādhi, he manifested himself as many deities. If anyone faithfully serves such a deity, then Śrīla Gurudeva will be present there. This is called the samādhī center, or samādhi-kuñja. Anyone who serves there will realize these things. His prema will be equal (sama), and he will think,
“I am with Gurudeva, and Gurudeva is with me.”

Mahārāja Rāmacandra left Sītā-devī, but after doing so, He made one Deity of Her every year. Over the course of one-hundred years, He made one-hundred Deities, which He installed and fully accepted. At the end of His pastimes, these Deities asked Him, “Oh, first you accepted us and now you will reject us?” Lord Rāmacandra replied, “I will accept you all in your next life.”

Śrīla Gurudeva’s samādhi center is powerful. Anyone who remembers him there, serves there, goes there every day and prays, will receive all sat-cit-ānanda-tattva, all spiritual knowl­edge, and his loving relationship with God will be established.

Śiva Ṭhākura Himself gave His śiva-liṅga. Anyone who worships
a śiva-liṅga will receive their benefit from Lord Śiva. And if any­one in this world worships the deity of a demigod, that demigod will be pleased and give, as a boon, the fulfillment of that person’s mundane desire.

Kṛṣṇa has said that śrī guru and all the mahā-bhāgavata Vaiṣṇavas are non-different from Him. Worshiping them and following them is more special than worshiping and following Kṛṣṇa directly.

The Importance of
Śrī Guru’s Instructions and Śrī Guru’s Deity

The mahā-bhāgavata guru-varga is always present in two places. One place is in their lectures and books, in their advice and instructions (vāṇī), and the other is in their deity (vapu). They are forever present within these two forms. Śrīman Mahāprabhu gave instructions to Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī, who then followed those instructions his entire life. Mahāprabhu had told him, “My advice is non-different from Me.” The same goes for the advice of Śrī Gurupāda-padma. But how can we understand and realize his advice? For this, we need to go to his samādhi center. Realization and understanding will come from there.

Śrīla Gurudeva explains that the ṣaḍ-gosvāmī, the aṣṭa-kavirāja, the dvādaśa-gopāla, the cauṣaṭṭi-mahānta, and even Jagaī and Madhaī, are all still present in this world at their samādhi-kuñja.
It is by their inspiration that, up to this day, people in this world are still practicing hari-bhakti.

Śrī Guru Is Not an Ordinary Person

Ordinary people disturb others during their lifetime, and some­times they also continue disturbing others even after they leave their body. Śrīla Gurudeva told the following story:

One day, there was a big storm. The sky was clouded, rain was pouring down and it was very windy. A sādhu, caught in that storm, took shelter outside a tall building, thinking, “When the rain stops,
I will continue on my way.” As he was waiting, he heard some voices, coming from upstairs, from the first floor of that building. A lady was asking her daughter, “Look! There is a procession, carrying a dead body. Where has that person who has died gone? Has he gone to Vaikuṇṭha, to Goloka Vṛndāvana, or to a hellish planet?” The daughter, who was only seven years old, looked at the procession and said, “Oh my dear mom, this dead person has gone to hell.”

A few minutes later, another procession carrying a dead body came by and the mother again asked her daughter, “Quickly! Go look and tell me: Did this dead person go to heaven or hell, or to Vaikuṇṭha or Goloka Vṛndāvana?” Again the girl looked at the procession and said, “Oh, this person went to Goloka Vṛndāvana.”

Hearing this conversation, the sādhu was surprised. He thought, “How can this seven year old girl know where these dead people went? I have been doing sādhana for a long time, but I do not know anything! I have no realization. But this little girl, without doing any bhajana, she knows.”

When the rain stopped, the sādhu went upstairs and asked, “Oh dear Mother, please tell me: When you asked your daughter to look at the processions, how did she know the proper answer? How does she realize and understand where dead people go?”

The mother answered, “One can identify a tree by looking at its fruit. When you see the fruit, you will know the name of that tree. The first dead person was carried by only four people. Everybody around looked disturbed. Why? During his life, this person disturbed everybody all the time. Just before leaving his body, he sent his four sons to all the villagers, telling them, ‘Our father is soon leaving his body. He is crying and weeping for forgiveness. Please, all of you, come and forgive him. He has been disturbing you all the time, but now, in his final moment, all of you should come and forgive him.’

“All the villagers came. This person was crying and praying to them for forgiveness. He then requested the villagers, ‘Please, after
I leave this body, you should all come, tie my legs, and hang me in the street. Then, when crows and eagles come to eat my body, I will become purified from the reactions of my bad behavior. This will be good.’ All the villagers were thinking, ‘Ok, this person is crying and asking for forgiveness in his last moment. He is repenting.’

“When that person finally died, the four sons called all the villagers, and together they hung that person’s dead body in the street. But just before that person died, he had told his sons,
‘When all the villagers come to hang my dead body, you should call the police and tell them that the villagers have killed me and hung me in the street. They will then all be arrested and the government will give you a lot of money.’

“So when my daughter saw this dead body going with only four people, his four sons, she understood that he must have gone to hell. In his life, that person was disturbing everybody, in his final days he was disturbing everybody, and even after he left
he continued to disturb all. He has definitely gone to hell.

“When the second dead body was carried by in a procession, my daughter saw that thousands and millions of people were crying. They were following behind the dead body and glorifying the person who had passed away. Why? During his life, he had always been very helpful to everyone. And now, after his departure, by his will, all of his possessions, as well as all the schools and hospitals that he had established during his life, were given to the people who now, in his absence, felt like orphans. Everyone was crying for him. My daughter then concluded, ‘Definitely, this person went to Goloka Vṛndāvana.’ ”

Śrīla Gurudeva said, “How long will you remain duplicitous?
If you cannot clean anyone’s heart, if you cannot change their mood, offer them in the service of God, or engaged them, by love, in the process of bhakti, then you are cheating all the jīvas. Then you are not helpful for anybody, and thus, you will also suffer. Your life will be useless. Don’t tell lies, don’t cheat, and don’t be duplicitous.”

When a member of the guru-varga departs, everybody all over the world and even God Himself will glorify that person. They will construct a glorious temple for him, which will be a permanent and sweet place of shelter for both the sādhakas and the siddhas. That place will continuously shower nectar on everybody and even God Himself will love that place. All are very lucky when the samādhi-kuñja of a mahā-bhāgavata manifests before us.

Srila Gurudeva ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Sri Guru Darshan-As It Is”. Available from rasik@bhaktabandhav.org )