2005 – On the Road With Gurudeva — Vyāsa-Pūjā in Hawaii–Śrīla Gurudeva stayed in Hawaii during January and Februray of 2005. While there, he celebrated the Vyāsa-pūjā of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Prabhupāda and Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja. On February 8, over 400 of Śrīla Gurudeva’s disciples celebrated their spiritual master’s appearance day. On this day, Śrīla Gurudeva first offered worship to the Guru-paramparā. He then sat on the vyāsāsana while the devotees came and offered flowers one after the other to his feet for over an hour. Later, Śrīla Gurudeva asked the sannyāsīs, brahmacārīs, and gṛhastha-bhaktas to speak in the assembly. Gurudeva himself then spoke for fifteen minutes about the significance of vyāsa-pūjā and explained that everything he received—all the respects and gifts—he offered to his beloved Gurudeva and Guru-paramparā. He then said, “On these days especially, we should pray that our hearts become the appearance place of Hari, Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, and then māyā will have no chance to enter our minds and hearts.”
Śrī Śrī Keśavajī Gaudīya Matha
In the meantime, a large plot of land had been purchased at Hartala, on the island of Koladvīpa, in Navadvīpa-dhāma. The land is adjacent to a main road that passes through the town and only half a kilometer from the Navadvīpa bridge over the Gaṅgā. Śrīla Gurudeva met with his close associates and plans were drawn up for construction. Gurudeva decided to name the temple Śrī Śrī Keśavajī Gauḍīya Maṭha. Parikramā in Navadvīpa would now be held from this new site. The land was registered under the International Gauḍīya Vedānta Trust.
Someone asked Śrīla Gurudeva, “Why are you opening such a big temple in Navadvīpa? Why not open temples in other places or in the Western countries?”
“A temple in Navadvīpa is necessary,” Gurudeva replied. “But the temple will only be full for one week of the year, during parikramā. The rest of the year the temple will be almost empty.”
Śrīla Gurudeva replied, “Performing parikramā, taking the bhaktas’ remnants and footdust, engaging in nāma-saṅkīrtana, and hearing hari-kathā, during the week leading up to Gaura pūrṇimā, will be more powerful than visiting millions of other holy places. Anyone who comes at any other time of the year will get less benefit. This is why I have arranged to build this massive temple. Everyone who comes here to Navadvīpa-dhāma to receive the mercy of the dhāma and Gaṅgā-devī can stay here and receive so much benefit. The mercy of Nityānanda Prabhu will be bestowed on everyone who visits this place.
At the new land site for Navadvīpa Parikramā, a huge bamboo pandal was built to house the ten-thousand-plus par of pilgrims. During parikramā a large cyclone caused the pandal to collapse. Fortunately there were no mortality’s from the accident. The pandal slowly fell, allowing most devotees the chance to run out. Everyone combined to clear the bamboo and tents out, and to free any pilgrims left underneath.
After parikramā, Śrīla Gurudeva went to Penang and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. He then went to Australia, Fiji, and Hawaii. When in Hawaii, Śrīla Gurudeva expressed his desire to take a tour to see the big whales. At that me, a foolish sannyāsī of his said to some followers, “Śrīla Gurudeva came to preach, but now he has desire to see whales. Is this rāgānuga-bhakti?”
Śrīla Gurudeva remained publicly silent when he heard of this circling remark, but he later said to his close associates, “They misunderstand why I went to see the whales. They are the associates of Kālīya, who, upon leaving Vraja, went to Ramaṇadvīpa (the Fiji Islands). The gopīs desired the fortune of Kālīya, who embraced Kṛṣṇa on all sides at once with his many coils and kissed Him with his hundreds of hoods, indeed, their fire of separation blazed when they saw Kālīya entwined with the limbs of Kṛṣṇa. The gopīs thought, ‘Will we ever be able to take birth in the dynasty of Kālīya and have the chance to thus embrace Kṛṣṇa?’ Kālīya’s poisonous nature disappeared when love for Kṛṣṇa awoke by His touch. By Kṛṣṇa’s order he left Vraja and settled in the islands of Fiji; there he associated with the aquatics, like the whales, and by his association they gained sukṛiti and entered the path of prema-bhakti. Wherever there are premī-bhaktas, or associates of premī-bhaktas, Vaiṣṇavas are eager to go there and have their darśana.”
A conditioned disciple may not understand the moods of his guru when he sees some activities he displays, but he should carefully avoid criticism of guru, otherwise he will become fallen. We should always view Śrī Guru with respect and spiritual vision, knowing he is not of this mortal world; endeavor to see him as he is present in the realm of Vraja and pray to him:
“prema-dhana vinā vyartha daridra jīvana
’dāsa’ kari’ vetana more deha prema-dhana”
Without love my life is useless. Please make me your servant and give me the wage of pure love.
Conditioned souls cannot understand the activities of pure devotees. This person did not realize that the mahā-bhāgavata is always absorbed in kṛṣṇa-līlā and that he moves everywhere only to purify the living entities. Mahā-bhāgavata Vaiṣṇavas do not go here and there according to their own whims and desire, they are personally guided by Krsna Himself to different places only for the benefit of jīvas in this world. After some me, the sannyāsī who critiqued Śrīla Gurudeva left the renounced order and entered household life.
From Hawaii, Śrīla Gurudeva went to cities in California, of which the largest program was in New Braja. There, Gurudeva spoke about the first verse of the Bhāgavatam, as well as on ātmā-tattva, sādhana and bhāva-bhakti, the 24 gurus, and vraja-līlā. He then went for a large hari-kathā festal in Houston, where he oke about different mahā-bhāgavatas like Dhruva and Prahlāda, and also about Lord Rāma and Dāmodara-līlā. Śrīla Gurudeva next went to Holland in July, and then returned to India. He preached in various cities in North and South India during Cāturmāsya.
On September 4, Śrīla Gurudeva was present at the Giridhārī Gauḍīya Maṭha, where he exhorted the devotees, especially those who had renounced family life, to take responsibility for service.
Śrīla Gurudeva said, “It is very important that we don’t focus on anyone’s faults. Look at their good qualities. We have to absorb these qualities in ourselves. We must take the association of Vaiṣṇavas who are superior to us and who have the mood we want. Then we can attain bhakti.
“Someone who has no niṣṭhā (strong faith) in his guru and in the Vaiṣṇavas, no attachment for them, no attachment for their service, and who doesn’t take any responsibility to do sevā—such a person is like an animal with two legs. Taking responsibility can even make an animal into a human. Stay in the maṭhas (temples) under the guidance of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas. Respect them and serve them with strong faith and attachment.
“Devotees must take responsibility for service. Wherever Gurudeva sends a disciple, he should do that service with a sense of responsibility. Gurudeva sent me to Mathurā, and I accepted all the responsibility of the maṭha—including fighting in the court, preaching, doing kīrtana, cooking, going house to house and preaching, writing books, and publishing Bhāgavata Patrikā. I took all this upon my head. is was my area of responsibility for Gurudeva.
“You have all come here from different countries for guru-sevā.
What responsibility have you taken? You should consider whether or not you have accepted any responsibility, and whether or not you have attachment for your service. All of you must think about this. Taking your own life in your hand, perform guru-sevā. Bhakti is not easily attained.”
Śrīla Gurudeva described accounts of ideal disciples who served their Gurudeva with the utmost dedication: Vālmīki, Upamanyu, and even Kṛṣṇa Himself. He then said, “We should be like such disciples.
Bhakti is not easy. Bhakti will not come simply by saying the word ‘bhakti.’ Moreover, in the line of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, is very difficult to attain vraja-bhakti or gopī-prema.
“You are very fortunate to have come here. Keep your good fortune by developing strong faith in guru, by performing devotional services under his guidance with commitment, and by following his instructions nicely—even if you have to go to hell. Go to hell with a contract. In other words, wherever you are sent— may even be to hell—you will have your commitment to Gurudeva always with you, and you will execute it.
Take guru’s instructions to heart, and then you will get bhakti; otherwise it is not possible.”
After Kārka, Śrīla Gurudeva held a three-day festal in Janakapurī, Delhi, from November 19-21. On the last day of the festival he installed the transcendental forms of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Ramaṇa Bihari, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, and Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja in his newly constructed temple: Raman Bihārī Gauḍīya Maṭha. Gurudeva spoke in Hindi before a crowd of thousands.
Śrīla Gurudeva said, “I have been traveling around the world, preaching Vedic culture. The Vedic teaching is that we are not this body. is body is made of bones and blood. We are eternal, but this body is perishable. All the world’s scientists and donors cannot extend a person’s life for even one second. In the heart of this body, we souls reside along with Paramātmā, the Lord’s localized four-armed expansion. As a result of our forgetting the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa, māyā, the Lord’s deluding material potency, captured us in this world and gave us gross and subtle bodies. Since time immemorial we have been transmigrating from body to body, and this will go on until we are liberated. In this human form of life you must realize who you are.
“Śrī Vālmīki anted under the guidance of Nārada Ṛṣi. Before chanting, he identified with his body, and he was a dacoit and a murderer. By Nārada’s mercy, Vālmīki attained perfection by chanting the name of Rāma. Ajāmila was also very sinful, but he also attained perfection by chanting the Supreme Lord’s holy names.”
Śrīla Gurudeva later said, “You should know the law of cause and effect. If there is no cause, how can there be an effect? This is philosophy. If God has no form, how can we have form? In the mango seed there is form, otherwise how can the mango manifest a form? All potency is in the seed.
“Today, we are installing the Deities Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Ramaṇa Bihari. If the devotee is pure, Kṛṣṇa will not only accept his offering, but will speak to him.” Śrīla Gurudeva told three accounts of various Deities of Kṛṣṇa interacting with His devotees: in South India, Jagannātha Purī, and Vṛndāvana. Gurudeva then said, “In our Vedic culture, our scriptures Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and Bhagavad-gītā teach that God is love and love is God. Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the form of love, and this truth is explained by His literary incarnation Śrī Vyāsadeva. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the explanation of pure love for Kṛṣṇa. You must have that kind of relationship with Kṛṣṇa, in pure love.
“There are not twenty gods. There is only one God, and that is Kṛṣṇa. He may have different names—somewhere He is called Christ, somewhere Kṛṣṇa and somewhere God—but all these are names of Kṛṣṇa. His manifestations as Dvārakādīśa and Lord Rāma cannot give the prema that Vrajendra-nandana, the original Supreme Personality of Godhead, can give. That original Supreme Absolute Truth never leaves Vṛndāvana. He Himself says this.”
When in Delhi, Śrīla Gurudeva often stayed at the home of Śrī Somnath Prabhu and Śrīmatī Poonam Devī, one family among his many disciples and followers in Delhi. Somnath Prabhu helps manage Śrīla Gurudeva’s property trusts in India. Somnath Prabhu once asked Gurudeva, “Sometimes our minds become very restless when we try to chant and practice navadhā-bhakti, and we are not able to fix our mind on spiritual practices. Please tell us a solution for this.”
“I will tell you from my own experience,” Śrīla Gurudeva said. “I hope will help you, so listen carefully. In the past there was a meeting of saints and this same question was raised there. Arjuna also asked this question to Kṛṣṇa in the Bhagavad-gītā (6.34):
cañcalaṁ hi manaḥ kṛṣṇa pramāthi balavad dṛḍham
tasyāhaṁ nigrahaṁ manye vāyoriva suduṣkaram
‘It is easier to control the air than the mind, so what all I do?’
“Kṛṣṇa instructed Arjuna to practice renunciation and controlling the senses. And later Kṛṣṇa told that if you can’t follow this, then perform karma-yoga and surrender all your activities unto Him. What is this karma-yoga?”
Śrīla Gurudeva explained: “Once there was a spiritual master who had thousands of disciples who were very qualified and intelligent.
Towards the end of his life, when the spiritual master had decided to leave this world, he called all his disciples and said that he wanted to a them all a question. The guru asked, ‘How can one clean the mind when is contaminated by material filth?’
“‘is is a simple question,’ his disciples thought.
“‘Come to me tomorrow with your answers,’ the guru said, ‘and I will bestow the ācārya post to whomever I am satisfied with.’
“The next day, disciples came with various answers, such as, ‘We will purify the mind by the process of renunciation.’Th e guru said, ‘A man came to me six months ago and I sent him to work in the gośala. He has busily been serving since then. Now go and call him.’
is person was brought forth and the guru asked the same question to him. The other disciples thought, ‘What does he know, he is only a worker.’ is disciple answered, ‘Since I met you, I don’t know where my mind has gone. I gave my mind to you on the first day. From that day I don’t know anything else. I am only doing the service which you have given me.’ His guru was very pleased with him, and made him the next ācārya.”
Śrīla Gurudeva concluded, “If you just give me your heart and mind, you will be peaceful and happy. I don’t need anything else from you. One should not a independently of guru. When I joined the temple, I completely offered myself to my Gurudeva, therefore no material filth or desires ever entered my heart. Those who a independently don’t have any power to control the mind and engage themselves in the service of God. For those who have gen their minds to Śrī Guru and who always a under his guidance, the spiritual master will manifest all truths and pastimes of Kṛṣṇa in their hearts; then your mind will never be disturbed in this material world.”
Somnath Prabhu and Poonam Devī happily accepted Śrīla Gurudeva’s instructions and engaged themselves in guru-sevā.
Srila Gurudeva ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Sri Guru Darshan”. Available from: firstname.lastname@example.org )