I don’t know if my Prabhu’s kathā will be relishable or not for everyone. But someone may think: “What will I stand to gain by listening to your Prabhu’s kathā? Am I using my time and wealth to listen to your Prabhu’s kathā? How will my self-interest be fulfilled by listening to your Prabhu’s kathā?
Such questions and various forms of objections arise in a place where there is dvitīya-abhiniveśa (where the mind is absorbed in objects separate from Kṛṣṇa). This is because in this world, each individual is separated from every other by one thing—illusion. In this corporeal plane, the moods of “I, mine, yours, and mine,” are seen. Therefore, the selfish interest of two individuals cannot be reconciled. And, the auspiciousness of one cannot guarantee the auspicious of another. In this world of separate interests, there is a difference between the interests of mother and son, husband and wife, master and servant, and teacher and students. Therefore, by speaking the words, Āmār Prabhura Kathā, in this world, feelings of such disparity or separateness appear in the heart.
But such differences are not seen in the spiritual world. In that realm, advaya-jñāna Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is One without a second, is the only viṣaya (object of loving exchanges). The only aim of all the servitors in that realm, referred to āśrayas (abodes of love) is to bring happiness to Śrī Vrajendra-nandana Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, duality can never arise when everyone’s self-interest is one and where only one person enjoys being the cynosure of that interest. In that realm of divinity, there is no conception of “Your Prabhu and my Prabhu.” By speaking of “My Prabhu,” the kathā of “Your Prabhu” is spoken as well. Correspondingly, when the kathā of “Your Prabhu” is spoken, the kathā of “My Prabhu” is spoken as well.
The countless eternal associates of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the non-dual Absolute Truth and the one and only object of love, are indeed His fundamental principle of variegatedness. Their exclusive interest is to satisfy the senses of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Disparity of interest can never arise among those who are perpetually absorbed in rousing the pleasure of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s senses.
Therefore, in this world of disparity, people may or may not honor the accounts of my master. Nonetheless, since I am a lowly dog who is sustained by my master’s remnants, it is my sole constitutional duty and function (dharma) to extol his glories.
I understand the word Prabhu (master) to refer to that person who can extend his authority over me in every way, who can fully and always exercise control over my whole heart, and who in my every act, every footstep, every inhalation and exhalation and every directive of life, he is my sole ideal, goal and guide, or polestar. That person alone is my master. Someone who controls my heart for some time and after a while is expelled from it, who is my role model for a few moments but who, after a short time, does not remain so, is not worthy of being called my master. It therefore becomes apparent to me that such a person or thing is a mere illusion, or a speculation of the mind.
By nature I am critical, always looking for faults in others. My heart is so absorbed in attachment to my body and residence that the devotees call me gṛha-vrata, one bound by a vow to home and necessities. In my study of the life of Śrī Prahlāda Mahārāja, I have read:
matir na kṛṣṇe parataḥ svato vā
mitho ’bhipadyeta gṛha-vratānām
adānta-gobhir viśatāṁ tamisraṁ
punaḥ punaś carvita-carvaṇānām
Because of their uncontrolled senses, persons too addicted to materialistic life make progress toward hellish conditions and repeatedly chew that which has already been chewed. Their inclinations toward Kṛṣṇa are never aroused, either by the instructions of others, by their own efforts, or by a combination of both.
Having assimilated these words spoken by Śrī Prahlāda Mahārāja,
I become utterly overwhelmed with hopelessness. Here, Śrī Prahlāda Mahārāja is referring to a person who is attached to his body and residence, in other words, to a person who is avowedly determined to tend only to the functions of his body and the needs of his residence. Since his senses are restless, he is incapable of propelling his mind in the proper direction—toward Śrī Kṛṣṇa. He cannot do this of his own accord nor with the assistance of someone else, especially if the person whose help he seeks is being guided by the teachings of a guru who is impulsive like him, that is, someone whose heart is not at peace. Such a person simply continues to encounter troubles and suffering, like someone who keeps chewing what others have already chewed and spat out.
Previously I went to many places, to many religious groups, and I attended many religious gatherings, but it was never in my fortune to have the audience of a mahātmā, a great soul, who could fully capture my heart.
Diverted Towards Illusion
I have stated that only he who is my role model perpetually, at every single step, can be my master, but some may not agree with me on this matter. It seems to me, though, that those people are simply cheating themselves. I am extremely weak and cynical. If I ever see a person immersed in trying to perform hari-bhajana for half of the twenty-four hours of the day, and then, during the other half, I see him engaged in activities related to sense objects, I hesitate to accept him, to call him my master. The reason is this: it is my nature to only see faults; thus, when that person’s account of his various efforts to obtain sense objects appears in my heart, besides his efforts in hari-bhajana, I reflect on such accounts and immediately fall under the sway of sense objects even more than before. I start to reason that if this person, whom I were to have made my idol, spends some of his time engaging in serving the objects of the senses, then why should I not follow suit, since I am his disciple and he is my guru?
These types of thoughts take command of my heart and as a result, I choose someone who is a sense enjoyer as my guru. But then I see that instead of having kṛṣṇa-vastu (that is, someone qualitatively non-different from Kṛṣṇa—sākṣād-dharitvena) as my guru, ‘illusion’ has usurped that position. It is illusion that has taken command of my heart in the form of a false guru and is now standing on my head. Therefore, in accordance with the prescription of the scriptures, I have endeavored to take a firm vow to abandon such illusion.
mantreṇa nirayaṁ vrajet
punaś ca vidhinā samyag
(quoted from Śrī Nārada Pañcarātra)
If one receives mantra initiation from a non-devotee (avaiṣṇava), one can only attain a destination in hell. Therefore, one who has done so must take shelter of a bona fide Vaiṣṇava guru and take re-initiation in a full and proper manner, following all the prescribed injunctions.
Therefore, a guru whose form is akin to illusion (māyā-rūpī-guru ) is an avaiṣṇava, a non-devotee, and initiation or guidance from him will have me glide down into the hellish regions. Reflecting thus, I took shelter of a Vaiṣṇava guru as per the instructions of scripture. According to the signs of a devotee as specified by Śrīman Mahāprabhu, I understand the word ‘Vaiṣṇava’ in this way:
yāṅhāra darśane mukhe āise kṛṣṇa-nāma
tāṅhāre jāniha tumi ‘vaiṣṇava-pradhāna’
—Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 16.74
Know that person, the sight of whom induces the holy name to burst (sphurita) on to the tongue, to be prominent among Vaiṣṇavas. In other words, he is a foremost mahā-bhāgavata.
My Master’s Glories
Vaiṣṇavas are perpetually steadfast in their attachment to the holy name. They do not waste their time even for a moment by engaging in any other activity. Therefore, just the sight of such persons causes the holy name to appear in one’s heart. In other words, the desire to perform hari-bhajana arises. It is in this way that my Prabhu (master) extended control over my heart. I witnessed how day and night he never spent even a fraction of a moment in any activity other than hari-bhajana, or chanting the holy name. If I had ever observed that he performed hari-bhajana for twenty-three hours, fifty-nine minutes and fifty-nine seconds of the day, but then for the last remaining second directed his attention to some other object, then he would not have been able to exert his lordship over my heart, as I am completely attached to body and home. In my life I never heard him prescribe any activity other than hari-bhajana. His one and only instruction was this:
“The living entity has no other obligation than continuous hari-bhajana, nor will he ever have any other duty. The knowledge, or conception, that an obligation exists other than hari-bhajana is indeed illusion.”
How much will a society that is madly engrossed in material pursuits and bewildered by knowledge acquired through sense perception take note of and respect my master’s words? This I do not know. Nevertheless, it is quite apparent to me that his words are the one and only directive capable of leading a jīva to his ultimate auspiciousness. In his songs, Śrīla Narottama Ṭhākura Mahāśaya has also condemned all ideas other than this, as follows:
āra jata upālambha viśeṣa sakali dambha
dekhite lāgaye mane vyathā
Śrī Prema-bhakti-candrikā 2.7
Apart from this, whatever faulty philosophies are there, all are simply displays of arrogance. For one who respects them and makes an effort to understand them, excruciating mental pain will be the only result.
Moreover, this solitary instruction issued from the lips of Śrī Bhagavān Gaurasundara Himself: “kīrtanīyah sadā hariḥ—śrī harināma-saṅkīrtana is to be performed at all times” (Śrī Śikṣāṣṭaka 3).
Here, the word sadā means ‘without interruption’. In other words, perpetuity is emphasized.
Tridaṇḍipāda Śrī Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī also instructs, “sakalam eva vihāya dūrād caitanya-candra-caraṇe kurutānurāgam—leave all else far behind and develop attachment to the lotus feet of
Śrī Caitanya-candra.” (Śrī Caitanya-candrāmṛta 10).
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī’s anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyaṁ verse, as well as the statement by Kapiladeva found in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (3.29.12): “ahaituky avyavahitā yā bhaktiḥ puruṣottame—the bhakti that is performed to Me, Purusottama, is ahaituky, devoid of all desires other than to serve Bhagavān, and avyavahitā, free from the obstructions of karma, jñāna, and so on” (which is quoted in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu) both celebrate the fact that perpetual, continuous hari-bhajana is the ultimate form of auspiciousness for the living entities.
My spiritual master’s conduct and the kīrtana he performs have indeed unceasingly established this fact. Hence, ‘my’ master is he who establishes the innermost desire of Śrī Caitanya’s heart and is foremost among Rūpānugas. The beauty of ‘my’ master’s service attracts even Śrī Madana-mohana Himself. My master can take something that is unsightly (kurūpa) and make it beautiful (surūpa). He can dispel my lowly perception (kudarśana) and transform it into one that is beautiful (sudarśana). My sole desire, life after life, is to long to serve such a master and to aspire for the remnants of the servants of his servants.
I was engrossed in the many shortcomings of a baddha-jīva (conditioned soul). To fulfil my shortcomings, I became busily engaged in many material pursuits. I became madly engaged in trying to collect many sense-objects. I even desired the post of Lord Brahmā. I used to think that I could be relieved of my deficiencies by obtaining the objects of my senses. Therefore, I spent the entirety of my time in accruing many rare sense objects—but my inner lacking never went away. I met many great personalities of this world; but upon witnessing their various forms of limitations, I could not offer them my deepest form of respect.
The Acceptance of Śrīla Gaura Kiśora dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja’s Shelter According to the Instruction of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura
Upon seeing my miserable condition, Śrī Gaurasundara, who is supremely compassionate, gave His permission to His dear associates, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and Śrīla Gaura Kiśora dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, to bestow their mercy upon me. Being absorbed in false ego, I would praise the mundane self. I thus cheated myself of my eternal auspiciousness. But by the influence of my pious merits i.e. the sukṛti accrued from my previous lives, I obtained Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s grace when he became my well-wisher. My Prabhu (Śrīla Gaura Kiśora dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja) would often visit him; he would even reside with him for many days. Being controlled by his compassion, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura arranged for me to have the darśana of my Prabhu. After seeing my Prabhu, my mundane egotism started to decline. I used to think that all my fellow humans were degraded and fit to be rejected. But after beholding my Prabhu’s transcendental character, I realized that elevated Vaiṣṇavas are still present in this world. By my Prabhu’s causeless mercy, I was also able to behold the transcendental character and personality of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura.
Srila Gaura Kishora das Babaji Maharaja ki Jaya! (Excerpted from an up and coming Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Four Rūpānuga Vaiṣṇava Ācāryas of the Śrī Gauḍīya Sampradāya”. Contact email@example.com for future availability.)