The fortune of the soul with and without the grace of Sri Guru.

By Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj

Translated from the Bengali editorial published in Sri Gaudiya Darsan, Volume 2, Issue 4, on Tuesday, 13 November 1956, in honour of the appearance day of Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj.

On the eleventh of Kartik in Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math on the auspicious sixty-second appearance day of Om Visnupad Paramahamsa Parivrajakacharya-varya Astottara-sara-sri Srimad Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj, our “Sri Guru Puja” or “Vyasa Puja” festival was celebrated through the endeavours of the association of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math’s servitors and the presence and service offerings of numerous distinguished persons.

In all the scriptures, Sri Gurudev has been glorified as being nondifferent from Lord. When the Lord eagerly appears before us, the troubled souls, to bless us, we behold Sri Guru’s form and become fortunate.

We are extremely troubled souls. Our forgetfulness of our true selves is so severe that although we are disgusted with our extremely painful acts of aversion [to the Lord], we cannot even slightly cast our eyes towards the direction of cutting away the illusion of that aversion. We are so absorbed in our relationship with our body, this bag of flesh and bones, that nothing comes into our thoughts without relation to it. And thus, we do not think of anything except the body.

Why has this happened? Why are we undergoing this sort of worldly suffering—hellish suffering? Why are we not able to satisfy ourselves even after endeavouring from sunrise to sunset, day and night? Why are our great endeavours for happiness all fruitless? Why are there only outbursts of discontent all around me? Why doesn’t the curtain drop on this heart-rending scene for troubled souls like me? Why? Why is the heavy current of this world so cruelly oppressing all souls here? Can we even once calmly enquire about the reason for this? And why can’t we?

We are unfortunate. “Bhute pasyanti barbarah [“Fools see through the past].” We are not only unfortunate, rather, we are ungrateful. It is said, “One sings the glories of whose salt one eats.” Yet we eat the salt of one, and sing the glories of another. Therefore, truly, we are ungrateful.

Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta expresses the essence of all the scriptures:

jivera ‘svarupa’ haya—krsnera ‘nitya-dasa’
krsnera ‘tatastha-sakti’ ‘bhedabheda-prakasa’
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 20.108)

[“The soul is by nature an eternal servant of Krishna, Krishna’s marginal energy, and a manifestation both different and non-different from Krishna.”]

krsna bhuli’ sei jiva anadi-bahirmukha
ataeva maya tare deya samsaradi-duhkha
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 20.117)

[“When souls outside the realm of time and space are unmindful of Krishna and turn away from Him, Maya subjects them to the various miseries of worldly existence.”]

Consider Maya Devi’s list of illusory activities and daunting power. Yet is she at fault in this matter? It will be made more clear in the following verses:

krsna-bahirmukha hana bhoga vanchha kare
nikatastha maya tare japatiya dhare
(Sri Prema-vivarta: 6.2)

[“When the soul becomes averse to Krishna and desires enjoyment, nearby Maya seizes them.”]

kabhu svarge uthaya, kabhu narake dubaya
dandya-jane raja yena nadite chubaya
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 20.118)

[“Maya sometimes raises the soul to heaven, and sometimes submerges the soul in hell like a king who plunges a convict in a river.]

pisachi paile yena mati-chhanna haya
maya-grasta jivera haya se bhava udaya
(Sri Prema-vivarta: 6.3)

[“When one is possessed by a ghost, one becomes bewildered. This condition befalls souls bound by Maya.”]

These verses show that the fault is the soul’s own. So we understand that the soul has become bewildered before becoming possessed by Maya. Otherwise, where is Maya’s need to touch the pure soul? Thus, the devotee Ram Prasad said, “Svakhata salile dube mari syama [“O Durga, I am drowning in water I myself have dug”].”

The Supreme Lord is the supreme conscious being. And He is not only a conscious being: He is sat-chit-ananda. Sat means eternal, chit means conscious, and ananda means joyful—an ocean of rasa. In Srila Rupa Goswami’s language, [He is] the Akhila-rasamrta-murti [“the embodiment of the nectar of all pleasures”]. The soul is also eternal and anuchid-ananda, minutely conscious and joyful. The soul is entitled to the fortune of the joy of service (seva). The Lord’s service is the dharma of the soul’s own eternal self. Situated marginally, however, souls deviate from their duty, from their dharma, as a result of misusing their independence. When the soul becomes intent upon selfish enjoyment instead of the dharma of the self, that is, instead of the Lord’s service—the joy of service to the embodiment of happiness, the embodiment of joy [Krishna]—Maya Devi gets the chance to place her noose around the soul’s neck. And from then on, the soul, undergoing the consequences of forgetting the Lord, wanders throughout the material world (Mayara naphara ha-iya chira-dina bule (Pv: 6.4) [“The soul becomes Maya’s slave and wanders indefinitely”]). The more the soul increases their search for selfish enjoyment in this way, the more they are battered in Maya’s prison unceasingly.

ei-rupe brahmanda bhari’ ananta-jiva-gana
chaurasi laksa yonite karaye bhramana

[“In this way, innumerable souls fill the world and wander amongst the 8,400,000 lifeforms.”]

In this situation, how is an end possible? I will now explain not only that, but also how the soul gets into the previous situation.

sadhu-guru-krpaya yadi krsnonmukha haya
sei jiva nistare maya tahare chhadaya
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 20.120)

[“When a soul becomes Krishna conscious by the mercy of the sadhus and Sri Guru, Maya releases and delivers them.”]

Deliverance from this predicament is only possible by the mercy of Maya’s Master.

Maya’s Master, the Supreme Lord, is benevolent—extremely compassionate. Thus, He is eager to deliver souls from this sort of inauspicious, offensive, miserable life; He cannot remain calm. Thus, from time to time, He is compelled to come to this conditioned world like one of us. Here a question can come: the Lord is omnipotent, therefore what need is there for Him to come? Certainly if He simply wills it, everyone can attain deliverance. The answer is that He does not exert force over the independence He has given the soul; this is His general practice. [The soul’s] independence is there so that the soul can attain the wonderful wealth of service. … The Lord is naturally filled with compassion. Thus, He becomes like us, comes [the material world], and teaches everyone with His own behaviour all the ways to attain Him. Only at this point, in close proximity to Him through His form as Gurudevatatma [Sri Gurudev—our Lord and beloved], can we be offered to the Lord’s feet, and this is certainly attainable for fortunate souls. Srila Kaviraj Goswami has thus written,

brahmanda bhramite kona bhagyavan jiva
guru-krsna-prasade paya bhakti-lata-bija
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 19.151)

[“While wandering throughout the world, a fortunate soul attains the seed of the creeper of devotion (faith) by the mercy of Guru and Krishna.”]

And lastly,

krsna-charana kalpa-vrkse kare arohana
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 19.154)

[“The creeper of devotion climbs into the wish-fulfilling tree of Krishna’s feet.”]

This is Sri Gurudev’s external identity.

Actually, without the mercy of Sri Guru, the soul cannot attain any spiritual fortune at all. Thus, Sri Gurudev’s position is varvarti sarvopari [“existing above all”]. Thus, the practice of worshipping Sri Guru before worshipping the Lord is mandated, and thus, Gurudev’s capability to protect one even when the Lord becomes angry is renowned throughout the scriptures.

We are so averse, however, that we consider Sri Guru-pada-padma to be a mortal and simply increase our offensive mentality. We do even develop understanding of the Lord’s words of caution. The Lord says, “Know Sri Gurudev to be My own nondifferent form, faithfully worship him, and thereby you will attain all fulfilment”, yet we, with behaviour the opposite of this, are becoming even more fallen. Nevertheless, Sri Gurudev is the embodiment of intense compassion, the saviour of the fallen, and thus, despite our hundreds of offences, he does not stop consoling us.

We hear from beginning to end the teaching that the Lord’s power manifests on certain days. The appearance day of Sri Guru, however, is more merciful than any other day. Sri Guru-pada-padma appears on one day of the year and with special affection blesses us by giving us the special opportunity to fully worship him. Not only those who can offer themselves to truly serve this holy day are fortunate, but by their birth, “Vasundhara va vasatis cha dhanya [“Their residence and community also become fortunate.”].”

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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