The essence of the Guru-disciple relationship.

By Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj


Viśvanāth Chakravartī Ṭhākur in his Śrī Gurvaṣṭakam has very clearly expressed the position of Guru, the position of the disciple, the form of Guru, the service of Guru, and our service to Guru. Everything is expressed there.

When I first joined, almost from that very day I began singing this Gurvaṣṭakam:

trāṇāya kāruṇya-ghanāghanatvam

I did not know the meanings then, but I began singing it. Day by day as I was engaged in some service for Gurudev, it began revealing itself in my heart finally up to,

nikuñja-yūno rati-keli-siddhyair
yā yālibhir yuktir apekṣaṇīyā
tatrāti-dākṣyād ati-vallabhasya
vande guroḥ śrī-charaṇāravindam

Viśvanāth Chakravartī Ṭhākur composed this. It is very strong and substantial. I did not know Sanskrit at first, and I could not feel it, but the words began hitting the walls of my heart and trying to break through.

That is my explanation of my feelings.

yasya prasādād bhagavat-prasādo
yasyāprasādān na gatiḥ kuto ’pi
dhyāyan stuvaṁs tasya yaśas tri-sandhyaṁ
vande guroḥ śrī-caraṇāravindam

In the Upaniṣadas (Īś: 5), it is said, Tad dūre tad v antike [“He far, and He is near.”]. When we are enriched with śraddhā, it is very near to us. We can get that knowledge.

When we are in the lowest level, the first stage of practising Kṛṣṇa consciousness, we must see Gurudev as nondifferent from our Lord, that the Lord has very mercifully come down in the form of Guru to rectify us and help take us to Goloka Dhām. This is the first stage, and the second stage is also like that.

sākṣād-dharitvena samasta-śāstrair
uktas tathā bhāvyata eva sadbhiḥ
kintu prabhor yaḥ priya eva tasya
vande guroḥ śrī-charaṇāravindam

In the final stage, Gurudev is our guardian, and Gurudev himself is also worshipping Lord Kṛṣṇa. There, we are under his guidance, and he is engaging us in the worship of Lord Kṛṣṇa. In that final stage, we can see Gurudev’s in the topmost position we as Rādhārāṇī. But that is very far from us, and now we can see him in the first stage and second stage.

Still, we will think our Gurudev is supreme, and in the higher level she is Rādhārāṇī. Prabhupād Saraswatī Ṭhākur said this. So, Guru has different forms. Sometimes we see Gurudev to be a form nondifferent from Kṛṣṇa, and sometimes we see Gurudev as the supreme servitor of Kṛṣṇa.

All our auspicious and beneficial wealth comes from Kṛṣṇa in the form of Gurudev to us. Because of this, Viśvanāth Chakravartī said,

yasya prasādād bhagavat-prasādo
yasyāprasādān na gatiḥ kuto ’pi
dhyāyan stuvaṁs tasya yaśas tri-sandhyaṁ
vande guroḥ śrī-charaṇāravindam

We must consider that the mercy of Kṛṣṇa appears in the form of the mercy of Gurudev. If Kṛṣṇa is happy, Gurudev will be happy, and if Gurudev is happy, Kṛṣṇa will be happy with us. But in the form of Gurudev, we receive a little more benefit: if Kṛṣṇa is angry with us in any way, Gurudev can save us from Kṛṣṇa’s anger, but if Gurudev is unhappy with us, Kṛṣṇa cannot help us.

You have seen at our Śrī Chaitanya Sāraswat Maṭh the symbols of the water, lotus, and sun. The lotus represents the servitor, the jīva-soul, the sun represents Kṛṣṇa, and the water represents Gurudev. When the lotus lives within the protection of the water, the lotus blooms in the sun’s ray and is not destroyed by the sun’s ray. When the lotus lives in the water, the sun gives good nourishment to the lotus, and the lotus blooms. But if we take the lotus out of the water and keep it on the ground in a field, the sun burns the lotus. So, with the protection of Gurudev, Kṛṣṇa like the sun will always be merciful to us. Then, we will see (SB: 11.17.27), “Sarva-devamayo Guruḥ: all the gods—everyone—lives within the body of Gurudev.” Because of this, Guru-pūjā is organised first in the Vedas and all the scriptures. Everyone will honour their Gurudev as the Jagad-guru, and as we honour our Gurudev we feel that he is our life and soul, and our protector.


Read Śrī Gurvaṣṭakam here.

Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj is the foremost modern representative of the teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Both definitive and progressive, his exemplary life, practice, and teachings brilliantly illuminate the path of divine love. For more information on Srila Govinda Maharaj, please visit his biography page.
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