At Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math on the 6th of Kartik on the auspicious appearance day of Vyasa’s nondifferent form Sri Guru-pada-padma Om Visnupad Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj and Sri Nityananda Prabhu’s son Srila Virachandra Prabhu, a grand Sri Vyasa-puja festival organised by the devotees of the Math was beautifully observed with great pomp in the presence of highly worshippable Saraswat Vaisnavas and devotees. Although externally natural foul weather (duryoga) was observed on the said date this year, because it gave the Math’s servants a greater opportunity for service, upon observing the smooth conclusion of the festival all the devotees felt jubilant.
ayur harati vai pumsam udyann astam cha yann asau
tasyarte yat-ksano nita uttama-sloka-vartaya
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 2.3.17)
[“Rising and setting, the revolving sun takes away the life of everyone except those who spend their time engaged in discussion of the Supreme Lord.”]
Foul weather has existed even prior to our birth. When birth after birth we have had to cope with foul weather in one body after another, what can we call a fair day? The great souls thus say that only the time we spend engaged in hearing, chanting, and so forth about the Lord has any value.
As a result of the fearsome rainstorm that devastated Pakistan recently, even the glorious leading countries of modern society are bound to realise their own insignificance before nature’s infinite power and bow to it. If such an attack on a nation can be the cause of new life for a nation and make them favourable to the all-mighty Lord, then even such foul weather can create a bright future for a nation; even such foul weather shows the path of opportunity to the wise.
Therefore, when a day on which service activities that would be performed with one level of enthusiasm repaid us with four times greater service responsibilities, then such foul weather indeed gave us a great opportunity for spiritual practice. So, those from distant places who wanted to be present that day later mitigated their remaining despondency.
Anyhow, I will try to reflect according to my understanding the light we have received about Sri Guru-tattva which was glorified by the worshippable Vaisnavas from various places on the said day.
Sri Gurudev is our most worshippable object. How so? Sri Gurudev is not exactly our eternally worshippable beloved as is the Lord; Sri Gurudev is more than Him. This is because the Lord is the nearest and dearest worshippable object of Sri Gurudev, yet the soul’s only medium for communication with the Lord is through Sri Guru-pada-padma and his service. Directly meeting the Lord is not the highest attainment for the soul, rather, service to the Lord under guidance of Sri Guru (Gurv-anugatya) is itself the true fortune of the soul.
The great souls have given a very beautiful analogy for the relationship between the soul, Gurudev, and the Lord:
narayano ’pi vikrtim yati guroh prachyutasya durbuddheh
kamalasya jalad apaiti ravih susyati nasayati cha
They explain that the soul is like a lotus, the Lord is like the sun, and Gurudev is like water. When a lotus is sheltered in water, the rays of the sun nourish the lotus and cause it to bloom. Yet when a lotus is pulled out of water, those very same sun-rays burn the lotus and cause it to dry up. Similarly, although the Lord is the cause of the supreme welfare of the soul who is sheltered under Sri Guru, the soul who offends Sri Guru or leaves the shelter of Sri Guru is forever deprived of the Lord’s merciful glance. It is for this reason that Sri Gurudev has been described in the scriptures as the fundamental shelter of the soul (mula-asraya-vigraha). As much as someone places themselves in the shelter of Sri Guru, so much so they will be sheltered and qualified for devotion to the Lord.
Srila Narottam Thakur has said,
asraya laiya bhaje tare krsna nahi tyaje
ara saba mare akarana
[“Krishna never abandons those who take shelter and engage in service, but all others die in vain.”]
In fact, the profound manifestation within the Rupanuga-sampradaya of the importance and greatness of the shelter (asraya) over the object of worship (visaya) [the devotee over the Lord] is not seen anywhere else.
Srila Das Goswami Prabhu:
asa-bharair amrta-sindhu mayaih kathanchit
kalo mayati-gamitah kila sampratam hi
tvan chet krpam mayi vidhasyasi naiva kim me
pranair vraje na cha varoru bakarinapi
[“Filled with an abundance of hope, an ocean of nectar, somehow or other I have passed the time. If You do not bestow Your mercy upon me now, O Radha, then what is the use of my life, or Vraja, or even that demon-killer?”]
Srila Narottam Thakur has also said,
sri rupa-manjari-pada sei mora sampada
sei mora bhajana-pujana
sei mora prana-dhana sei mora abharana
sei mora jivanera jivana
[“The feet of Sri Rupa Manjari are my fortune. They are my service and my worship. They are my heart and wealth. They are my ornaments. They are the very life of my life.”]
The revolutionary conception we find in this verse and in this song and its full manifestation in modern times in the sun-like Acharya Srila Saraswati Thakur and our Sri Guru-pada-padma automatically increases the joy in the hearts of those who are truly sheltered in Sri Guru. Where is there any comparison to Srila Saraswati Thakur’s expression of ultimate earnestness for Sri Gurudev as is found in the conclusion of his Anubhasya on Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta? There he has written,
tahara karuna-katha madhava-bhajana-pratha
tulana nahika tribhuvane
tara sama anya keha dhariya e nara-deha
nahi dila krsna-prema dhane
[“There is no comparison within the three worlds to his merciful teachings of the practice of devotion to Madhava. No one has ever assumed a human form and distributed the wealth of divine love for Krishna like him.”]
As Srila Das Goswami Prabhu said with intense chastity (nistha) to his mistress: “O Mistress! I am maintaining my life up to now only in hope of attaining Your mercy. Indeed, without Your mercy, I have no taste for even the mercy of Krishna. Without You, Govinda seems to me to be really nothing more than a demon-killer (Bakari).”
The glory of the mula-asraya-vigraha that has been proclaimed in this verse—it is as though that very same tune has taken on a different form in the verse of Srila Saraswati Thakur. It is as though his intense chastity to the mula-asraya-vigraha has made him blind and he is thus unable to see anything beyond his Sri Guru-pada-padma—without his asraya-viraha he cannot see even the higher acharyas of his own sampradaya. His chastity to his asraya-vigraha was that intense, and he was thus able to say,
tara sama anya keha dhariya e nara-deha
nahi dila krsna-prema dhane
[“No one has ever assumed a human form and distributed the wealth of divine love for Krishna the way he has.”]
We have also been fortunate to hear from the holy mouth of our Sri Guru-pada-padma that while speaking about the Lord with a servitor, Srila Prabhupad said, “Sri Vrsabhanu Nandini alone beautifully serves Krishna at all times, and my Sri Guru-pada-padma does. I do not know, nor do I need to know, who else does or does not.” This is the ultimate example of chastity to the mula-asraya.
Sri Guru-pada-padma is the full manifestation of shelter (asraya-tattva). The extent to which chastity to Sri Guru-pada-padma makes the soul fortunate is incomprehensible for even liberated souls. Sarva-siddhi karatale [“All success in the palm of the hand”] or muktira dasitva prapti [“The attainment of liberation as one’s maidservant”] are very insignificant notions.
To give us something of the identity of Sri Rupa and Sanatan, Srila Baladev Vidyabhusan Prabhu informs us,
govindabhidham indirasrita-padam hastastha-ratnadivat
tattvam tattvavid-uttamau ksiti-tale yau darsayan chakratu
The ability to show even the worshippable Supreme Lord Govinda at will like hasthastha ratnadivat [“a jewel in one’s hand”] that has been alluded to in this verse is also possible through subservience unto Sri Rupa (Rupanugatya). Thus, the followers of the Lord in His form as an Acharya, Sri Chaitanyadev, the inaugurator of sankirtan and the origin of all Avatars whose purpose is His own service and the distribution of that service, are always well known as the followers of their Lord’s dearmost Sri Rupa—they are not known as the Sri Chaitanya-sampradaya. Where else is there such intense chastity to the asraya? In fact, Rupanugas do not accept that the Lord is even present in any place where the asraya-vigraha is not declared supreme. They say,
radha-bhajane yadi mati nahi bhela
krsna-bhajana tava akarane gela
atapa-rohita suraya nahi jani
radha-virahita madhava nahi mani
(Gitavali: Radhastakam, 8.1–2)
[“If you do not desire to serve Radha, your service to Krishna goes in vain. We do not know the sun to be devoid of sunlight, and we do not recognise Madhava separate from Radha.”]
By the unconditional mercy of my Sri Guru-pada-padma, the light of the unparalleled glory of Sri Guru-tattva is manifest in this world even to this day and is bestowing divine vision upon those blinded by ignorance. I make my prostrate obeisance unto his lotus feet and I earnestly submit this prayer: “O Gurudev! I do not even deserve to cast my eyes towards the light of your supramundane glory; I am that unfortunate and despicable. Therefore, O saviour of the fallen! May you kindly bestow this mercy upon this fallen soul: that in some birth I can, as a particle of dust at Your lotus feet, attain the fortune of constancy in Your service.”