śṛṇvatāṁ sva-kathāḥ kṛṣṇaḥ

puṇya-śravaṇa-kīrtanaḥ

hṛdy antaḥ stho hy abhadrāṇi

vidhunoti suhṛt satām

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 2.2.17

By hearing the līlā-kathā of Śrī Bhagavān, all misfortunes of the jīvas are dispelled. Those who possess an ardent desire to obtain unalloyed prema-bhakti at the lotus feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa must certainly hear His līlā-kathā repeatedly and incessantly.

Hearing the glories of Bhagavān automatically cleans the heart and gives all good qualities. Therefore, Mahāprabhu chose this siddhapīṭha, 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 siddhapīṭhas 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-mayīupāsana, 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-mayīupāsana, 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 kuśaāsana 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.

When Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura manifested Yoga-pīṭha Māyāpura and gave it to Prabhupāda Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura said, “O Bimala Prasāda, take care of the service of Mahāprabhu at Śrī Yoga-pīṭha.”

Prabhupāda Sarasvatī Ṭhākura built the temple there as well as Caitanya-maṭha, but he never accepted any remnants from the bhogathali of the Deities of Yoga-pīṭha. He didn’t have his bhajana-kuṭīra at Yoga-pīṭha near Mahāprabhu’s house but always stayed at a distance from Mahāprabhu’s house. When his followers brought him the mahā-prasāda, he only honored a piece of Tulasī. In this way he taught us that the temple of God is not for our own sense enjoyment. Sādhus should not be like vultures, always looking down. What is offered to God is the property of God to be distributed as He pleases. It is not for any authority to possess.

Once there was a brāhmaṇa who kicked a dog lying in the middle of a road in Lord Rāma’s kingdom. The dog complained to Rāma who called the priest into His royal court. The ministers found the brāhmaṇa guilty of offence to the dog and requested the dog to choose his punishment. The dog asked for the brāhmaṇa to be made a temple president. The brāhmaṇa danced in joy at the foolishness of the dog. Śrī Rāma asked the dog the reason for this boon rather than a curse. But the dog said, “In my last life I was a temple president, and whenever anything was offered to the Deities, I would wait outside the altar for Their plates to come out so I could first choose what I liked for my sense enjoyment; therefore, I became a dog in my next life. I am sure this will also happen to this brāhmaṇa, therefore, I request this.”

To really offer something to Bhagavān the person offering must be surrendered and first offer himself. Otherwise this is only a cheating business. Jagannātha knows everything. He has very large eyes.
He watches and maintains everybody. Materialists worship God only to fulfill their mundane desires; this is not actually worshipping God but is woshiprping oneself. Bhagavān is the Supreme Father and is very loving. If a young baby comes and passes stool on the lap of the father, the baby will be forgiven. But if one person is young with all knowledge and intelligence and then does such a thing, he will be punished. When a baby becomes older, it is taught to go to the bathroom and close the door. But we do not have this baby mentality, we think we are greatly learned. When a cow sees her baby calf, immediately milk drops from her udders, but she doesn’t give milk to her older calves. Don’t have a demonic mentality when going to God, only going to steal and enjoy all His property. This is not called śaraṇāgati, surrender. If you want to make relation with Him, learn to bow and be humble. Everything is His. Think, “I am His.” Then there can be no arrogance.

One time, many people went on Girirāja Govardhana parikramā. When they returned to Mathurā one businessman from New Delhi was crying, “I was robbed of 10,000 rupees.”

I replied, “You didn’t give even one rupee to Govardhana, therefore he took everything you had.”

“How can I go back to Delhi without any money?”

“Walk there and get beaten the whole way.”

God gives everything—body, wealth, and relatives—but if one selfishly uses everything without any relation or thanks to God, than God will take back His gifts from such a miserly person. This is not the process of bhajana and sādhana, we have to learn and understand this.

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja said, “Whatever money you make, first give 50% to Bhagavān.”

Śrīla Gurudeva says, “Everything is God’s property, give everything to Him!”

But people with demonic natures think, “Terā bhi merā, merā hi merā—what’s yours is mine and what’s mine is mine.’ If anyone is offered completely to someone, then that entire person’s property becomes one’s own. Therefore, offer yourself wholesale to Kṛṣṇa, than Kṛṣṇa will be yours and you will be His. Time is not waiting for anyone. So offer every moment to Kṛṣṇa.

Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī spoke hari-kathā continuously to Parikṣit Mahārāja. Parikṣit Mahārāja drank this nectar incessantly, without eating, sleeping or allowing anything material to block that flow of spiritual nectar. This is the real food for the soul. The glories of God are very tasteful, sweet and cooling. If we drink them always then all desire fires of hunger, thirst and lust will flee far away.

Kṣīra-corā Gopīnātha had love for Śrī Mādhavendra Purī. He stole one pot of kṣīra for him, but the pujārīs daily steal and sell all of Gopīnātha’s kṣīra. The pujārīs have relation with Gopīnātha’s kṣīra, but not with Gopinātha. If we have a relation with God’s opulence and if we are always waiting to take God’s wealth and hoard it in Swiss bank accounts for keeping healthy and wealthy, this is not God’s service.

By going to a place completely offered to God’s service, automatically the mind will be clean. If one goes to a so-called guru and temple, then the mind will be restless. The heart will never weep for Kṛṣṇa’s service. Vaiṣṇava etiquette and the hidden meanings of śāstra will not awaken in the heart and stay on the path of one’s memory. The memory will all be eaten by viruses and brain disease. Therefore, go to such a place where the glories of Kṛṣṇa’s nāma, rūpa, guṇa and līlā are always being described and where sādhana and internal service is going on. Then automatically the mind will become engaged.

In Śrīla Gurudeva’s temple, there is no external restriction or curfew. You don’t have to do a fixed eight hour work day of service. Forced duty and love is not the same. After a workers’ duty is finished, they will return to where they have love and a family relation. But if you make relation with God, then whenever you are not doing anything, your mind and heart will always be running to Him and if you don’t serve Him, then you will never feel well. If we go one step towards God, He comes ten steps towards us. If someone has one drop of love for God then he will always be more and more engaged in His service.

The Guru-varga are all loving servants of God. There is no question of being instructed by force to do something. Naturally all service is tended to. Serve even a little, but with love. Clean one place, but with love. Don’t show off cleaning everything without completely any task properly. This is not the symptom of love. If anyone is fully offered to God, then automatically God will accept anything he gives. Sudāma took broken pieces of rice to Kṛṣṇa and He accepted it. Ragunātha dāsa Gosvāmī was eating three day old rotten rice, but Śrīman Mahāprabhu ran and took it away. The devotees have great love for God. That love is very tasteful. Sweets have no sweetness; sweetness is present in the heart and moods. If the heart has no sweetness then everything will taste bitter, even the sweetest candies.

Bhagavān Himself said, “I want to always roll in the dust of Vraja, wearing this dust as the ornament of my body. By covering myself in the dust of Vraja I can obtain peace. I don’t want anything else!”

This vraja-raja is very helpful.

mādhava, bahuta minati kori toya, dei tulasī tila,

deho samarpinu, doyā jāni nā chāḍabi moya

“O Mādhava, with this offering of a Tulasī leaf and sesame seeds, I beseech You and pledge my body in Your service. I know Your compassion is such that You will not reject me.”

During Candana-yātrā, Bhagavān hides under sandalwood for 40 days. This sandalwood is the foot dust of the Vraja-devīs. Kṛṣṇa prayed to Nāradajī, “O mother, bring me the vraja-devī’s unsurpassable foot dust!”

This dust of the Vraja-devīs and Kṛṣṇa washed off of them while they bathed in the Yamunā. Then that dust went to Varuṇa-deva, who thought, “Where should I keep this?”

He prayed and Bhagavān told him to keep it on the bank of the ocean. Then Varuṇa-deva collected this dust and put it on the shore of the
ocean where it took birth as sandal trees. This is used for wor of the Deities of Kṛṣṇa and Viṣṇu all over the three worlds.

Śrī Rādhārānī prayed to Her sakhīs, “morile rākhibo bāndhi tamalera dale, sukhile milibo mui tāra pada tale, ‘O sakhī, when I die, hang My body from the branch of a Tamāla tree, then the elements of My body will mix with their sources and be able to serve Kṛṣṇa. The water in My body will go to the clouds and rain down on Kṛṣṇa, the earth in My body will make it soft for Kṛṣṇa to walk on the ground, the air will mix with the breeze to cool Kṛṣṇa, and the fire in My body will embrace Him and offer Him heat.”

Srila Gurudeva ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Sri Guru Darshan”. Available from rasik@kripa.tv )