Collected from their own transcendental reservoir and
offered for the glorification and satisfaction of
Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math Sevaite President Acharya
His Divine Grace
Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj
Beloved Spiritual Master
who withdrew his manifest Pastimes
on 12 August 1988
His Divine Grace
Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj
Bowing my head and laying down my full body in the desire to surrender to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga I wish to express my sincere and happy acknowledgements to all those who helped in the preparation of this book, which has been compiled as an offering unto His Divine Grace Om Visnupad Paramahamsa Parivrajakacharya-varya Sri Srimad Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj on the occasion of his 62nd Sri Avirbhav Mahotsav. I pray that he and our beloved Srila Guru Maharaj, His Divine Grace Om Visnupad Paramahamsa Parivrajakacharya-varya Sri Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj, may be satisfied by this humble offering and attempt to chant their glories. I am feeling great happiness receiving the authoritative articles of glorification of Their Divine Graces from Sripad Bhakti Ananda Sagar Maharaj, who is heading the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math’s main overseas branch in London; Dr Dolgobinda Shastri, Srila Govinda Maharaj’s former Sanskrit teacher and present Director of the Jagannath Research Institute, Puri; and from Sripad Dayadhar Gauranga Prabhu Bhakti Prabhakar, who was formerly a professor of neurobiology and whose service activities now include leading this Math’s branch in Malaysia. Their articles make up Part One of this book. I am sure the reader will share my joy in reading these.
Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj’s glories are chanted by Srila Guru Maharaj and by all the devotees of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math. In the second and third parts of this book we have the fortune to receive Srila Govinda Maharaj’s association in the form of instructions and guidance compiled from his informal talks and his letters respectively. We can never fully repay the Spiritual Master for even one word of instruction, and so I am confident the devotees will appreciate the greatest value of these, despite the inevitable imperfections in my humble attempt to put them into print.
Above all I am most indebted to my Hari-nam and Diksa-gurudev, His Divine Grace Om Visnupad Paramahamsa Parivrajakacharya-varya Sri Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj, and to my full Siksa-gurudev, Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj, for their grace upon myself and upon everyone everywhere by giving the opportunity to connect with the highest prospect of life by means of engaging in their service. I pray to them and to all the readers that you may enable me to properly utilise this chance.
Humbly aspiring to serve the Vaisnavas,
—Mahananda Das Bhakti Ranjan
4 December 1990
The Holy Appearance Day of
Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj
Glorification by the Devotees
The Glorious Advent
of the Pure Devotee
By His Holiness Tridandi Swami
Sripad Bhakti Ananda Sagar Maharaj
yad yad acharati sresthas, tat tad evetaro janah
sa yat pramanam kurute, lokas tad anuvartate
“The masses follow the ways of great men, following the standards they set.”
This well-known verse sung by Sri Krishna in Sri Gita was sung by Prabhupad Om Visnupad Astottara-sata-sri Srimad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaj when his beloved disciple and intimate attendant, Om Visnupad Astottara-sata-sri Srimad Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj, approached Srila Prabhupad’s lotus feet to take transcendental initiation from him and join him in his holy Mission of Sri Gaudiya Math. Srila Prabhupad expressed his divine joy and confidence that the appearance in his Mission of such a person as Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj—our Srila Guru Maharaj, who descended in high brahminical lineage and was already replete with profuse scriptural knowledge and saintly qualities—heralded the welcome of many superior personages within the fold of Sri Gaurangadev.
As a unique tridandi sannyasi of the Sri Gaudiya sampradaya, Srila Guru Maharaj’s radiant example continued throughout his entire sojourn in this world and beyond. He preached with formidable command all over India, taking a prominent part in the founding and organising of many of the Gaudiya Maths of Srila Prabhupad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami. Because of his high scriptural command and pure representation, Srila Prabhupad one day addressed him as “sastra-nipuna Sridhar Maharaj” (genius in scriptural representation), and finally, he was chosen by Srila Prabhupad to sing Sri Rupa Manjari Pada for him during his (Srila Prabhupad’s) last days of manifest Pastimes in this world.
A great nectarean current of Sanskrit and Bengali devotional compositions and commentaries flowed from the pen of Srila Guru Maharaj, including his Sri Gita chatuh-sloki and Brahma-gayatri commentaries, unique to the entire sampradaya in full-fledged theistic representation. A handsome collection of monumental works in English were brought to scholars and seekers worldwide, and an endless stream of new publications from his taped conversations continue to be brought out, by the grace of that Guardian of Devotion, Om Visnupad Astottara-sata-sri Srimad Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj.
Today is the 62nd anniversary of the holy appearance day of Om Visnupad Astottara-sata-sri Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj. On this most holy of holy days I beg to offer my prostrate obeisances unto his lotus feet, unto the lotus feet of his illustrious Sri Gurudev, and all their associates. As is well known, Srila Govinda Maharaj was chosen by Srila Guru Maharaj long before his disappearance as his Successor-Acharya-President for his Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math of Nabadwip, Nadia, West Bengal, with its branches all over the world. At that time he happily retired and gave all duties and his exalted divine chair to Srila Govinda Maharaj. After that, by Srila Guru Maharaj’s instructions, the following sloka in glorification of Srila Govinda Maharaj became manifest by Srila Guru Maharaj’s wish and composition, for our supreme benefit. Now I am giving some explanation of this sloka with my full respect, in the hope of attracting his causeless mercy.
gurvabhista-supurakam guru-ganair asisa-sambhusitam
govindabhidham ujjvalam vara-tanum bhakty anvitam sundaram
vande visva-gurun cha divya-bhagavat-premno hi bija-pradam
Gurvabhista-supurakam: he fulfils the cherished desires of his Gurudev. At Bamunpara, District Burdwan, only about six miles from Sripat Hapaniya, on 17 December 1929, Acharyadev Sri Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Maharaj made his gracious advent in the world just to fulfil the innermost heart’s desire of his Srila Guru Maharaj: without, to distribute the unalloyed grace of Sri Chaitanyadev to every nook and cranny of the universe, and within, to maintain the indomitable standard of exclusive devotion to Sri Gurudev. Srila Guru Maharaj taught us that one with a high vision will see his Sri Gurudev as the manifestation of the Lord’s most dear servant, who in the supreme position is seen to be Srimati Radharani.
Constitutionally, a disciple sings the glories, that is, performs the kirtan, of his Gurudev. But in particular and special cases we hear Gurudev performing the kirtan of his disciple. In 1985, Srila Sridhar Maharaj conferred the sannyas order upon Srila Govinda Maharaj. The next day, which was his own day of advent, Srila Guru Maharaj began the day by joyfully enumerating the unending glories of his beloved disciple, Srila Govinda Maharaj, before the assembled fortunate devotees. The talk was no less than three hours long. Among the multitude of points he mentioned, Srila Guru Maharaj referred to Srila Govinda Maharaj’s learned scriptural representation, his knack of being on hand at the time of need, his mystical devotional nature, and his abundance of strong common sense in all dealings. It is for the fortunate and faithful soul to see how the pure devotee servitor ever fulfils the cherished wishes of his Gurudev in a multitude of ways.
Guru-ganair asisa-sambhusitam: he is fully adorned with the blessings of all his Gurus, his Guru-varga. World preacher and ambassador of Krishna consciousness, Om Visnupad Astottara-sata-sri Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad, proclaimed at his public address at the opening of his Sri Mayapur Chandrodaya Mandir, “I consider Sri Govinda Maharaj to be my dearmost son, and his Gurudev, Om Visnupad Srila Sridhar Maharaj, to be my Siksa-guru.”
In his Declaration of Spiritual Succession of 1986 Srila Guru Maharaj stated to all the devotees present, when naming Srila Govinda Maharaj as his successor, “All my godbrothers are very affectionate towards him, and they are happy that he will have this position.”
When in 1947 Srila Govinda Maharaj approached the lotus feet of his Gurudev Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj, Srila Guru Maharaj was surrounded by fourteen or more brahmacharis including his own godbrothers. Thus, from that early age of only seventeen, Srila Govinda Maharaj had their association and enjoyed their whole-hearted blessings and affection.
In 1989, during his address to the devotees assembled at Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math on the advent day of Srila Guru Maharaj, observed in his separation, Sripad Bhakti Kankan Tapasvi Maharaj declared, “Srila Sridhar Maharaj was the foremost of the followers of our Gurudev, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaj, and he has clearly declared that he has selected Sripad Govinda Maharaj as his successor. So my dear devotees, you please all accept him as the successor of Srila Sridhar Maharaj, otherwise you will have to fall down from your spiritual life.”
It was none other than Sripad Tapasvi Maharaj who was the intermediary in recommending Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj to Srila Prabhupad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaj for both initiations in one day (Hari-nam and gayatri), to which Srila Prabhupad agreed. Also both during the time of Srila Guru Maharaj as well as after his disappearance, many of his godbrothers, such as Their Divine Graces Sripad B. V. Jajavar Maharaj, Sripad B. D. Madhav Maharaj, Sripad Krishna Das Babaji Maharaj, Sripad B. P. Puri Maharaj, Sripad B. K. Santa Maharaj, Sripad Satprasangananda Prabhu, and others gave their happy blessings to Srila Govinda Maharaj in many ways and expressed their joy.
Chintyachintya-samasta-veda-nipunam: well-versed in both the conceivable and inconceivable conclusions of all the religious scriptures. Once, Srila Guru Maharaj had promised to attend a meeting for delivering a Bhagavat lecture at the house of Sri Satkari Banerjee in Kolkata, a prominent and respected industrialist of the time. The occasion was in observance of the disappearance of his father, Sri Hari Prasad Banerjee. Suddenly, Srila Guru Maharaj suffered a migraine headache attack, so he sent Srila Govinda Maharaj to the meeting in his place. Many distinguished and learned guests attended that meeting. At that time, Srila Govinda Maharaj was only a youth of twenty-one years, a young boy in appearance. At first Sri Satkari Banerjee thought, “I have invited so many qualified persons—how will this young boy speak before them about the Bhagavat?” But after Srila Govinda Maharaj had spoken, all were highly satisfied with his delivery. In that meeting many questions were posed and everyone was very satisfied and surprised to hear the answers given by Srila Govinda Maharaj. The next day, Mr Banerjee remarked to Srila Guru Maharaj, “I could not imagine that a young boy would be capable of delivering such high thoughts in a Bhagavat speech.” It was that Mr Banerjee who bore the cost of the Deities of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math of Nabadwip.
Highly realised and possessing natural talent in Sanskrit and Bengali, the mother tongues of Gaudiya–Vaisnava thought, Srila Govinda Maharaj has given us many valuable divine prayers and songs filled with the conceivable and inconceivable thought of the Vedas.
Sri Rupa panthanugam: he is the faithful follower on the path of Srila Rupa Goswami. Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj, the one who was chosen by Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaj to sing the holy prayer of the divine succession of Srila Rupa Goswami, chose as his successor Srila Govinda Maharaj. As Srila Prabhupad’s choice naturally drew the Vaisnavas’ highest regard for Srila Guru Maharaj, similarly Srila Guru Maharaj’s choice clearly reveals his indomitable hope for the bright future of the divine succession of Sri Rupa, having reposed all his divine qualities in the personage of Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Maharaj. The faithful followers of Srila Guru Maharaj cannot but feel genuine safety under the shelter of the future guardian he chose for them, and offer Srila Govinda Maharaj the same respect and service that is offered to Srila Guru Maharaj himself.
Govindabhidham ujjvalam vara-tanum bhakty anvitam sundaram: he is known as Srila Govinda Maharaj, and he possesses a splendid and radiant divine form that revels in the ecstasy of pure devotion for Lord Sri Krishna. Although we may have thought that the Gaudiya skies were about to be plunged into darkness when the full moon of Srila Guru Maharaj disappeared from our view, Srila Guru Maharaj himself had no intention of allowing any darkness to enter his sampradaya. He selected the brilliant, beautiful, and devotional personality of Srila Govinda Maharaj, who can satisfy all our divine aspirations. Seeing him in his effulgent form, delivering a wealth of Hari-katha (narrations of the Supreme Lord) to the pilgrims hailing from the world over, we find that Srila Guru Maharaj never left us. He is residing resplendently in all his divine glory in the personality of Srila Govinda Maharaj.
Visva-gurun cha divya-Bhagavat-premno hi bija-pradam: by the blessings of his Guru Maharaj and his own exalted capacity now we are seeing that he has manifest his holy self as ‘Visva-gurun’, the Guru of the Universe, and he is the bestower of the seed of love divine for the Supreme Lord, Hari. The flag of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math flies high, singing its glories to the world. The fortunate souls from all over the world, far and wide, are coming to hear the nectarean delivery of Hari-katha from Sri Gaurangadev’s pure devotee, Om Visnupad Astottara-sata-sri Srimad Bhakti Sundar Govinda Maharaj. His immaculate delivery infuses divine faith into the hearts of all, planting the seed of transcendental love divine.
Vande (’ham): I offer my humble obeisances unto his holy lotus feet.
A Born Preceptor
An Offering of Flowers in a Few Words
Dr Dolgobinda Shastri,
Director, Jagannath Research Centre, Orissa,
M.A. Ph.D. (Utkal),
M.A. (Sanskrit), M.A. (Journalism) (Cal),
Kavya-Vyakaran-Puran Tirtha (Cal),
Retd. O.E.S. Principal.
4th December 1990
On the Advent Ceremony, Vyasa-puja, of
His Divine Grace Om Visnupad
Sri Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj.
Towards the last quarter of 1947, I was directed by His Divine Grace Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj to start a Sanskrit school at 7 Sitakanta Banerjee Lane, Kolkata, the old ancestral house of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj, the founder of the worldwide organisation ‘ISKCON’. By then, that house was rented as the second branch of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, Kolerganj, Nabadwip.
Srila Guru Maharaj, my Siksa-guru, asked me to teach Hari-namamrta-vyakarana, kavya, alankar, and chanda to his brahmacharis, amongst whom was Sri Gaurendu.
I found Sri Gaurendu, now our Sri Govinda Maharaj, to be extraordinary, most intelligent, and endowed with exceptional memory power. He could reproduce every lesson the next day without mistake. I taught him some metres of Chanda-manjari, like tunak, totak, mandakranta, etc., but to my utter astonishment, he composed Sanskrit verses in those metres within a few days. One day he narrated before me that he had addressed a gathering of more than two thousand people to whom he explained the feeling, thinking, and willing faculties relating to devotional practice. I asked him to explain it elaborately and he did so, nicely. Generally this is a topic to be taught to graduate students of philosophy. This was my second astonishment: that a boy of eighteen, without a general school education, could grasp and explain intricate psychological terms so correctly, so nicely!
I had to change my attitude and approach towards him. Such qualities as he displayed cannot be manifest in anyone without sadhana of a previous life or the special krpa of a Siddha-guru. At that time my vision changed and from then onwards I saw him as the embodiment of service to his beloved Guru Maharaj.
Gradually our intimacy was transformed to a level of friendship, and when we both were alone we would chant bhajans. Mostly there were three songs—Badasi yadi kinchidapi, Madhava! bahuta minati kari toya, and Tatala saikate—that, from his sweet tone, would drench us both in tears. The element of divine love of the highest stage was his natural instinct.
From the very beginning I understood that Srila Guru Maharaj was trying to shape Gaurendu according to his own image and wished to make him his successor. I could also understand that as Srila Guru Maharaj liked me much, it was my divine obligation to contribute the best I could towards the fulfilment of his cherished desire. From 1947 until the last day of my stay in Kolkata in 1961, I was in closest touch with both of them. Then, after nearly thirty years, by Srila Guru Maharaj’s divine will I was compelled to return to Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, and found to my utmost satisfaction that Srila Guru Maharaj had fulfilled his wish to his heart’s content and then departed to his eternal abode. He transmitted whatever treasure he had—mental, intellectual, and spiritual—to his most beloved disciple, Govinda Maharaj, and merged in him. This is ‘Union in Separation’. His Samadhi Mandir now stands there at the Math as the embodiment of ‘Union in Separation’. Anyone who wants to see Govinda Maharaj and Guru Maharaj united in one whole can stand before the Samadhi Mandir, observe it from top to the plinth floor, once read the verses inscribed on the marble plaques, stand again in front of the Deity—and he will find what Govinda Maharaj is.
At last, to all devotees of Srila Guru Maharaj, I assure them that they will receive everything from Govinda Maharaj that they ever expected from Guru Maharaj. Amrta, Govinda, and sundar were very much liked by Srila Guru Maharaj and were solace of his life-breath. He has combined these three into one in Govinda Maharaj, and left for his eternal abode keeping him here for you all. His Govinda is amrta, his Govinda is sundar; let all of you taste the ecstasy of his Govinda Sundar.
The Spiritual Succession
of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math
by His Grace
Sripad Dayadhar Gauranga Das Bhakti Prabhakar Ph.D
It is a well-known fact that Srila Guru Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami, at the age of 86 in 1979 was not prepared to begin a new campaign of initiating disciples from all over the world because he did not expect to survive long enough to give them shelter through their introduction to the bhakti path. Several disciples of Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj had approached him in 1979 and 1980 for his connection, but for that reason he did not accept them as initiated disciples. Still, he became saddened with the circumstances of their plight. It was then that his dearmost disciple and long-time confidant, Srila Govinda Maharaj, urged Srila Guru Maharaj to reconsider giving his divine connection to those who approached. Srila Guru Maharaj desired to help, but he feared he would not be staying much longer in this world to give them the necessary direct guidance. This seemingly impossible dilemma set the stage for the most wondrous and fortunate sacrifice to have ever been witnessed in our lifetimes. Feeling Srila Guru Maharaj’s pain and understanding the dire need of the devotees approaching Srila Guru Maharaj for his connection, Srila Govinda Maharaj made a proposal to Srila Guru Maharaj. The substance of that proposal was staggering to the most imaginative minds: if Srila Guru Maharaj would give his connection to those devotees, then Srila Govinda Maharaj would accept the responsibility for their spiritual lives after Srila Guru Maharaj’s departure from this worldly plane. It was then that Srila Guru Maharaj reversed his policy and began giving initiations to the Western devotees. Srila Govinda Maharaj’s promise warmed the heart of Srila Guru Maharaj, and his acceptance of disciples from the West was similar to, and indeed reminded us, of the great campaign of Sri Nityananda Prabhu some 500 years ago. There it was first demonstrated how the stalwarts canvass to recruit and accept anyone with interest in Mahaprabhu’s Mission, regardless of qualification.
Certainly our qualifications in coming to Srila Guru Maharaj were questionable. We had been summarily rejected by our former associates, and we hadn’t a clue really what we were coming for except to continue what Srila Swami Maharaj had given to us. Yet somehow, Srila Guru Maharaj accepted us—such was his magnanimity. And, moreover, this was only due to the great mercy of Srila Govinda Maharaj. So, in what category can we posit his mercy?
From 1982 to 1986, Srila Guru Maharaj preached to the entire world, without, to use Srila Govinda Maharaj’s words, ‘world itinerancy’, and, according to Srila Guru Maharaj’s own divine plan, Srila Govinda Maharaj took sannyas in November of 1985. So it was that Srila Guru Maharaj, at Gaura Purnima in 1986, told the world of his decision to depart this worldly plane and reiterated his wish of the last forty years to leave everything in the hands of his dearmost disciple, Srila Govinda Maharaj. No doubt we were saddened to hear the news of his impending departure. But the inevitability of it had been before us for several years as Srila Guru Maharaj increasingly revealed the symptoms of failing health. Yet, we had the hope of a small child thinking that Srila Guru Maharaj would remain in this earthly plane throughout our lives. Such was the love he cultivated in us and such was our unfathomable attachment to His Divine Grace. All the more remarkable was this feat when we consider that he only performed this service by, and for, the mercy of Srila Govinda Maharaj.
When Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj came to the West and created such a great following, it occurred to us (after his departure) that he came only to take us to the lotus feet of Sad-guru, his Siksa-guru, Srila Guru Maharaj. Now, shortly after the departure of Srila Guru Maharaj, it is becoming increasingly apparent that Srila Guru Maharaj’s great preaching and canvassing campaign to create a ‘relief agency’ for the fallen souls of the Western world, was to recruit us solely for the service of Srila Govinda Maharaj, who would carry out the wishes of the parampara perfectly. Such is the way of the very high Vaisnavas, and we have been ever so fortunate to witness that. This was Sri Guru and His Divine Grace, and it was our great fortune to be recruited to fulfil that. A few days before the Gaura Purnima celebration of 1986, Srila Guru Maharaj delivered the following ordinance to all the devotional community present and, indeed, for his disciples near and far throughout the whole world:
“According to the desire of my Divine Master, I have been maintaining this disciplic succession, but it is no longer possible for me, as I am now too old and invalid. You all know that from long ago I have chosen Sriman Bhakti Sundar Govinda Maharaj, and I have given him sannyas. All my Vaisnava godbrothers are very affectionate towards him, and it is also their desire to give him this position. I have previously given to him the charge of the Math, and now I am giving him the full responsibility of giving Hari-nam, diksa, sannyas, etc., as an Acharya of this Math on behalf of myself.
“Those who have any regard for me should give this respect and position to Govinda Maharaj as my successor. As much as you have faith in my sincerity, then with all sincerity I believe that he has got the capacity of rendering service in this way. With this, I transfer these beads, and from now, he will initiate on my behalf as rtvik. The rtvik system is already involved both here and also in the foreign land. The rtvik is the representative. So, if you want to take from me, and you take by his hands, then it will be as well and as good as taking from me.
“In the Mahamandal, Sagar Maharaj and many others are also rtvik of Swami Maharaj and also myself. They may do so, but in this Math and in any Math under this Math, he will be the representative. If anyone cannot accept this, he may leave the Math rather than stay here and disturb the peace of the Math. With all my sincerity and good feelings to Guru-Gauranga, to the Vaisnavas and the Acharyas, Mahaprabhu, Pancha Tattva, Radha-Govinda, and Their parsads, with all my sincere prayers to Them, henceforth he will represent me in this affair beginning from today’s function.
“Now I shall go from here, and he will do the necessary. On my behalf, he will give Hari-nam, diksa, sannyas, and everything.”
Srila Govinda Maharaj agreed to accept the responsibility of the Western disciples of Srila Guru Maharaj in 1981, out of his intense desire to serve Srila Guru Maharaj. As Srila Guru Maharaj’s disciple, he could empathise with the yearning of the Western devotees for Srila Guru Maharaj’s connection. In this way, both Srila Guru Maharaj and Srila Govinda Maharaj were helping each other to serve the Divine Mission of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Srila Govinda Maharaj further explained at informal gatherings during Srila Guru Maharaj’s Vyasa Puja celebration in 1988 in Nabadwip Dham:
“Srila Guru Maharaj called Puri Maharaj and requested him, ‘You arrange everything for Govinda Maharaj’s sannyas.’ And after that function was performed, Srila Guru Maharaj was somewhat satisfied. Then on the 2nd of December 1985, Srila Guru Maharaj registered his last will. He became very satisfied after that with this work—his transcendental work. Of course, we were praying, very selfishly perhaps, that Srila Guru Maharaj must stay with us, but I came to understand that Srila Guru Maharaj has his own desire and his own life also, and we cannot disturb that. One time when I voiced the sentiment that he stay with us, Srila Guru Maharaj very quickly turned away his head from me. That time, it came very heavily to my heart that Srila Guru Maharaj wants his own association, the Pastimes of Sri Sri Radha-Krishna. He is that Srila Rupa Goswami coming in the form of Guru Maharaj in this world, and he now wants to go there, but we are disturbing him. Then I thought either today or tomorrow or someday—any day we must face the inevitable separation. This situation of separation will come and then, what to do? If Srila Guru Maharaj wants, immediately he can leave. And he did that.
“But afterwards when we took Srila Guru Maharaj’s divine form downstairs, I could see that his body was so bright, and no disturbance was in his body. So from upstairs to downstairs, I was steady. And since that time, I have not come back up here until today (to Srila Guru Maharaj’s room). This is the first time since Srila Guru Maharaj’s departure (on 12 August 1988) and it is for duty to Srila Guru Maharaj. Only I am coming now to give the initiation for the devotees. Now we are bound to do our duty. Sometimes Srila Guru Maharaj would say, ‘The transcendental duty is our life—there is no other life.’
“So, duty we must do, but there are two kinds of duty: mundane duty and transcendental duty. Sometimes mundane duty is attracting us, but we can transform that duty also in a transcendental way. Narottam Das Thakur also said in one song, grhe va vanete thake, that we can stay in grhastha life, or sannyas life, or brahmachari life—any life, if we can chant the mahamantra and worship Mahaprabhu. Then, everything is going in that direction. No problem. At the time of Sriman Mahaprabhu, most of His devotees were also grhasthas—Srivas Pandit was a grhastha of the Pancha Tattva, and Advaita Prabhu showed grhastha life. Nityananda Prabhu lastly also showed grhastha life. In Kali-yuga, sannyas life is not recommended, not favoured for the devotional attitude. But tridanda sannyas is accepted in Srimad Bhagavatam—not karma-sannyas, but bhakta-sannyas, that is another type of sannyas. It has its root exclusively in Guru-seva—nothing else. No other thing. This way, there is some promise in Vaisnava-sannyas: by kaya, body; mana, mind; vakya, speech; everything I shall engage in the service of Guru–Vaisnava. That is the sannyas for this age. That sannyas is possible everywhere, and everyone can take it.
“Formally, in our Vedic sastra, there is brahmachari, grhastha, vanaprastha, and sannyas; that sannyas is daiva-varnasram-dharma. There are two kinds of varnasram: daiva-varnasram and asura-varnasram. That sastric sannyas is daiva-varnasram, and that is also accepted by Srimad Bhagavatam and certainly other sastras. But commenting on the parichaya—identity or acquaintance—of the Vaisnava, Mahaprabhu says in one sloka:
naham vipro na cha nara-patir napi vaisyo na sudro
naham varni na cha grha-patir no vana-stho yatir va
gopi-bhartuh pada-kamalayor dasa-dasanudasah
“This is our parichaya. We are not brahmans; we are not kings, vaisyas, or sudras; we are not brahmacharis, sannyasis, or vanaprasthas, but our parichaya is that we are the servitors of the servitors of the servitors of Guru–Vaisnava.
gopi-bhartuh pada-kamalayor dasa-dasanudasah
“This is Mahaprabhu’s desire and we are following that. But for the general people, they want to see the red cloth, and they are thinking, ‘It is a sadhu’. In this way, for the benefit of the people—the general mass—we are trying to maintain the sannyas life, trying to maintain the grhastha life, every life. But bhakta life is the only life. Where there is bhakti, there—that is life. Where there is no bhakti, there is no life. This is Mahaprabhu’s teaching.”
We had the rare pleasure and opportunity to come to Srila Guru Maharaj, no doubt. But what we have yet to learn is that we entered onto a stage where a transcendental symphony was playing (lila)—where Srila Guru Maharaj and Srila Govinda Maharaj were playing—and we were also a witness to that. Those who came but could not, cannot, or will not, see this divine relationship playing before our eyes have missed the most valuable treasure shown: sadhu-sanga.
Our greatest fortune is in being placed in the divine hands of Srila Govinda Maharaj after Srila Guru Maharaj’s unexpected (by us) departure. Srila Guru Maharaj’s arrival, his Pastimes, and his departure were all miraculous and transcendental. Those who wish to fault any of his Pastimes as mundane, incoherent, or foolhardy do themselves the greatest harm. But they are certainly not the first to underestimate the divine instructions of Srila Guru Maharaj.
In 1981 when I visited a number of Srila Guru Maharaj’s godbrothers on his order (to undertake a comparative study), I was often told by those well-meaning godbrothers, “Yes, but Srila Sridhar Maharaj is now too old and invalid”, as if to say “Your Guru Maharaj is no longer preaching in this world at large.” But we can see that after 1981, from Srila Guru Maharaj’s informal talks alone, several books have already come tat are lauded the world over. In addition, he closely supervised our printing and translation of his most revered writings, The Hidden Treasure of the Sweet Absolute and Positive and Progressive Immortality. Certainly now, no one thinks we were following an ‘invalid’. So also, the entire life span of Srila Guru Maharaj was filled with integrity and intent of purpose. He did not decide on his successor at the time of his departure: forty years earlier he had decided that Srila Govinda Maharaj would succeed him, and at the end of his life, as we have quoted herein, he has firmly and resolutely reasserted his wish for our benefit. The elixir of nectar which has been carried to us from Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math for the last fifty years is still flowing by the mercy of Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu represented in the person of Srila Govinda Maharaj. I take the feet dust of that elixir on my head and pray that the good sense to continue to do so never leaves me. The nectar has now become doubly sweet with the advent of Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Maharaj. Srila Guru Maharaj—acclaimed by one and all as the “maker of Gurus”—has presented us with his most precious gem in the personage of Srila Govinda Maharaj. In Srila Guru Maharaj’s own words, we say, “May we thank our lucky stars!”
By His Divine Grace
Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj
The Divine Account
I am feeling very fortunate and thankful to you all because you have engaged me in the service of my Divine Master, Srila Guru Maharaj. I am always busy with other services of this Math, and therefore I cannot properly serve you all. Also I have a little deficiency in English, and therefore am a little cautious to speak in English; but it is my duty to serve the Western devotees, and I cannot forget that. Just now I was doing other duties, but when you engaged me in this service of speaking to you I thought, “Oh, this is also my service, but I have not carried it out.” In this way I am very thankful to you all because you want to engage me in my Divine Master’s service.
In earlier days my Divine Master was sitting in this chair and distributing his mercy to devotees all over the world. Devotees were coming from so far. Some came 10,000 miles, some 6,000 miles, and some 3,000 miles. Sometimes when Guru Maharaj was feeling sick he would say, “I am not feeling well; I cannot speak now.” At that time my tendency was to be very affectionate to my godbrothers, and I would request him, “Maharaj, please speak a little, at least for only five or ten minutes. They have come from so far away. Please speak for five minutes, or even without speaking anything, just be seated there for five minutes.” In this way I requested him for my godbrothers. And Guru Maharaj always agreed to my request. Even if he was not feeling well, he still would come to speak something for the devotees’ benefit. But when he was sitting in this chair, he was like another man—not a sick man. He would speak about Krishna consciousness with full energy and full enthusiasm. I know, and Guru Maharaj knew, that sometimes he wanted to avoid the meeting, but that was not sufficient for me. Once seated in his chair he was the worldwide Mission’s Acharya speaking, and I would be surprised that often he would speak for two hours. In this way with much difficulty Guru Maharaj tried to distribute the Krishna conception, Krishna consciousness, to the devotees.
There are two kinds of devotees we can see in the world: those with a preaching tendency and those with bhajan tendency. One is called gosthyanandi and the other bhajananandi. He who wants to conceal himself and chant for his own benefit, who is doing bhajan, is called bhajananandi. In the time of Prabhupad Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati there were two or three devotees who were like that. One you know very well: his name is Krishna Das Babaji Maharaj. Krishna Das Babaji Maharaj was a very close friend of Guru Maharaj. He was a graduate, and learned, but he did not want to preach, he always wanted to do some bhajan for himself. He was in the mood of one who is self-satisfied—atmarama—one who tastes ecstasy himself, but does not distribute it to others. But Prabhupad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati was not happy with this mood.
At that time Guru Maharaj was preaching in Northern India: Delhi, Kuruksetra, Ambala, and other places. In the winter season it is very hard to preach there with snow falling and the well-water freezing. Once I heard from Guru Maharaj that one night he was in Ambala railway station with Bon Maharaj. They had no place to sleep, so they tried to sleep under the footbridge, but ice was falling down, and it was not possible to sleep. Guru Maharaj had only one blanket and was thinking he may die because it was so cold, but he thought, “If I die, it will be for Krishna consciousness, for my Guru Maharaj, then I have no problem.” That night two men died. They also had no shelter, but they could not tolerate the cold. In this way Guru Maharaj was preaching in Northern India. When he came near Benares, he wrote a letter to Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Prabhupad telling of Krishna Das Babaji Maharaj’s affection for him. At that time Krishna Das Babaji Maharaj’s name was Svadikananda Brahmachari.
He wrote, “Svadikananda Brahmachari is staying in Balihati. If you order me, I shall try to bring him for preaching.” Prabhupad Saraswati Thakur was very happy with that letter and immediately replied saying, “If you can bring him with you and engage him in preaching, then I must say that you are his real friend.” And there he mentioned: “Seated in the jungle of Balihati chanting on beads is not Krsnanusilana, real cultivation of Krishna consciousness.”
The real practice of Krishna consciousness is to preach to others and to practise oneself, by chanting ‘Hare Krishna’ and doing Guru–Vaisnava-seva. It was the mood of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur that if Srila Guru Maharaj could bring that devotee for preaching, then he would be the best friend of that brahmachari, and so asked him to try.
When we are meditating, we may think, “What are we feeling?” Many thinking matters come into our mind to disturb us and proper meditation is sometimes not possible. But yogis are meditating with much endeavour with their full energy. When there are the activities of pranayam, asana, dhyan, dharana, and so on, this yoga is called astanga-yoga, but those who practise this properly are achieving in their samadhi only a little feeling of Paramatma. One who is very expert may see Paramatma at a particular moment, but still, after that he must come back to his previous consciousness. But Prabhupad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati practised and preached the best method, and that is called bhakti-yoga; and not ordinary bhakti-yoga, but ananya-bhakti-yoga. Ananya-bhakti-yoga, or exclusive devotion, means:
sarvopadhi vinirmuktam, tat-paratvena nirmalam
hrsikena hrsikesa-sevanam bhaktir uchyate
Another similar sloka is:
anyabhilasita sunyam, jnana-karmady anavrtam
anukulyena krsnanusilanam bhaktir uttama
This is very wholesome advice, and Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Prabhupad gave a translation in Bengali poetry form: “With all your energy, all your senses, and all your activities, engage yourself twenty-four hours a day in the service of the Lord. That is real bhakti, and in that there is no fault that will come to attack you.” The conditioned soul has faults, no doubt, but Krishna takes everything in His own account, so the conditioned soul’s account is empty. There is no fault-counting, therefore no problem comes to the real devotee. He is not doing anything for himself, he is not eating for himself, he is not sleeping for himself—he is not doing anything for himself. He does everything for his Divine Master, for his Divine Lord, so what fault can he have? Maybe a very qualified person can do many things, but they are always plus-minus accountable. Srimad Bhagavatam says:
yasyasti bhaktir bhagavaty akinchana
sarvair gunais tatra samasate surah
harav abhaktasya kuto mahad-guna
mano-rathenasati dhavato bahih
All kinds of qualifications grace a devotee, and the sastra sees no defect in him. If devotion is quite exclusive, there can be no fault there. In this way Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Prabhupad tried to preach Mahaprabhu’s conception all over the world. Another name of that preaching conception is paramahamsa-dharma.
I heard this following history from Srila Guru Maharaj. You have seen recently on Vyasa Puja day a disciple of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Prabhupad give a lecture in Bengali very enthusiastically. When he was a child, a young brahmachari, he went by horse and cart to preach with some sannyasis. At that time Prabhupad had two horse-drawn carts and one motor car. Big sannyasis and expert devotees were going by car for preaching. The middle-class devotees were going for preaching by horse and cart, and others were going by tram, bus, and other means. That brahmachari was going by horse and cart with some sannyasis. Another sannyasi was watching. Although a prominent disciple and qualified man, that sannyasi did not have so much exclusive devotion to Srila Prabhupad. He said, “I am very unfortunate; I cannot understand my Divine Master properly. My Divine Master is preaching and demonstrating practical paramahamsa-dharma, but I cannot understand this.” Paramahamsa-dharma is the way of practising Krishna consciousness with all one’s energy, activity—everything.
A hamsa takes milk from water. Hamsa means swan. If you give milk mixed with water to a swan, it will extract the milk and leave the water. This is the nature of a hamsa. A paramahamsa is also doing likewise: from every matter, from everything, he takes the service of the Lord. He does everything and uses everything for the service of the Lord, and the unwanted parts he leaves aside, just as the swan leaves aside the water. This is the nature of a paramahamsa.
Why must I live? Because I must do my Master’s seva, his service; otherwise I do not want to live. What is Vaisnavism? A Vaisnava is always worshipping his Lord twenty-four hours a day. Worshipping means serving the Lord. That is Vaisnavism. In some ways it is a very easy thing.
We are coming from Visnu. Our origin is coming from Visnu-tattva. Every jiva-soul has fifty qualities. According to the scriptures the Supreme Lord possesses sixty-four qualities, but each jiva has only fifty. The jiva-soul has so many qualities in common with the Lord because he originates from Visnu-tattva. Visnu is brhatvat brmhanatvat: He is very great, the greatest. Yato va imani bhutani jayante, yena jatani jivanti, yat prayanty abhisamvisanti, tad vijijnasasva tad eva Brahma. From where are all the material worlds and spiritual worlds coming? And who is giving light, and where will everything go? That is the Brahma-tattva. From where everything is coming and to where everything is going is Brahma-tattva, whereas we are anuchitkan, atomic particles of consciousness. We have much qualification because our origin is Visnu. So if we cannot engage those qualifications in the service of the Lord, we cannot get any transcendental benefit. Our fault is in avoiding engaging our capacity in His service. Our soul must be attracted by Parambrahma, Krishna, but maya is living in the middle portion. We are attached to maya now. And because of our activity, maya covers us like a cloud, or like rust. This rust is called ahankar. In the scriptures it is said:
ahankara-nivrttanam kesavo nahi duragah
ahankara-yutanam hi madhye parvata-rasayah
Bhagavan, the Lord, is near to us, but we cannot see Him. Why? Because inside is rust, therefore Krishna cannot attract us. But if there is no rust, we must immediately become attached to our Lord’s service, as iron is attracted to a magnet. One who is practising Krishna consciousness twenty-four hours a day is a pure devotee. And Srila Prabhupad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur was preaching that conception with all his associates. But that sannyasi said, “I cannot properly understand my Divine Master. This fourteen-year-old boy is going for the service of the Lord, and he is going by horse-cart. But our ideal is given by Rupa, Sanatan, Jiva Goswami, and so on, and they would live underneath a tree, taking only a little buttermilk. But Prabhupad is giving all facilities for practising and preaching Krishna consciousness, and that boy is using those facilities. This I can easily understand, but why can I not understand Srila Prabhupad?” In this way he showed himself to be perplexed. Srila Guru Maharaj was there and heard this, and I heard it from Srila Guru Maharaj.
It is very easy to practise Krishna consciousness if we can engage ourselves always in the service of Krishna. Many duties will come to us, and all the fruit of all duties must go to Krishna. In this way we will have no liability; all liability will go to Krishna.
After Srila Guru Maharaj made the memorandum of rules and regulations of his Mission, the government had some difficulty in accepting its contents. So I had to give an explanation of the rules and regulations of this memorandum to them. One point that Srila Guru Maharaj gave there is that the Acharya is not liable for the accounts of his society, although he is vested with all powers. The Acharya has veto power. If a resolution is passed by other members in a meeting, but the Acharya does not consider it proper, he can cancel it with his veto power. But the government could not understand this. They said, “What is this? If one man can manage everything, then he is liable for everything, but here the Acharya has no liability, and yet he can do everything. It is not possible!”
Why did Guru Maharaj form the constitution in this way? The Acharya is the representative of the Lord in this mundane plane. If a devotee will think the Acharya to be like ourselves, a mundane man, it will not be possible for that devotee to get the full benefit of devotion. In the sastra it says:
acharyam mam vijaniyan navamanyeta karhichit
na martya-buddhyasuyeta sarva-deva-mayo guruh
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 11.17.27)
Who is Guru? He is Krishna Himself appearing in the form of Guru, for our benefit. Therefore we are not to differentiate between the Lord and the Guru. If we do differentiate, we will be offenders. We are not to make such differentiation.
yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasado
yasyaprasadan na gatih kuto ’pi
dhyayam stuvams tasya yasas tri-sandhyam
vande guroh sri-charanaravindam
If the Guru is merciful, Krishna must be merciful, and we can consider that we have passed our examination. But if we fail to satisfy our Guru, then we have failed our examination, and Krishna cannot help us.
There is another very nice example which I have mentioned before, using the analogy of the relationship of the water, the lotus, and the sun. If the lotus is in the water, the sun nourishes it, making it glorious, but if we pull the lotus out of the water, then the sun will burn it. In this way Guru is like the water; he is our life. We are like the lotus, and the Lord is like the sun. The mercy of Sri Gurudev can give us everything: unlimited things, things we cannot imagine. But if the Guru is dissatisfied, Krishna does not care for those who displease him.
So in our governing body, all the men and women are disciples and Guru is Acharya. Then how will they judge the Guru? They cannot judge the Guru, and this is the purport of what Srila Guru Maharaj wrote in his society memorandum. The Acharya is not liable for any account, but he has great power. He is like an autocrat. Krishna is an autocrat, and His position is autocratic. Similarly the Acharya’s position is like that of an autocrat. The government wanted to modify the wording a little, but when I told them that I did not make the constitution, but it was written by a big lawyer, they gave due consideration and recognition.
The only thing necessary for the disciple is to give full obeisance to his Guru. Then he will have no problem in his spiritual life. But it is very difficult for the conditioned souls. The illusory environment is always bolstering our ego. That ego is barring our entrance into the transcendental world. If we remove that ego from our heart, then we must become able to live in the transcendental world.
The scientists and the scriptures also differentiate between chetana (consciousness) and jada (matter). But matter is coming from where? Matter is coming from consciousness. This is tangible truth, and this is where Darwin’s theory fails. If there is no consciousness, there can be no matter. Then if consciousness is the mother of matter, matter may be fully conscious. I cannot see this pillar moving, but it is moving now. The scientists say there is some internal motion going on all the time. It will be seen that in fifty or a hundred years’ time this pillar will fall down. It is going, day by day. Imperceptibly, a child is also changing daily, and we can see this if we compare the one-year-old and the six-year-old. In this way everything is moving. So we should try to see everything transcendentally.
Bhakti Vinod Thakur said that we see Nabadwip Dham as though it is the mundane world. Many thorn trees used to be at Isodyan and also on the land in Mayapur where the Mayapur Chandrodaya Mandir is now. But Bhakti Vinod Thakur said, “You are only seeing many thorn trees. When you see Mayapur proper, you will see here many transcendental things; I am seeing those.” Here there are many flower gardens and many nice transcendental buildings. Everything is transcendental here. The dust of Mayapur is transcendental; the grass also. Everything here is eager to serve Mahaprabhu. It is all very nice and continually serving Him. Mahaprabhu is coming here and performing His lila, chanting with His associates and devotees, and every bathing ghat on the Ganges here is built out of mani, manikya, ratna, and so on (invaluable spiritual gems, jewels, and so forth.) Everything is transcendental. But we are living in maya so we cannot see in that way at present. Therefore it is necessary for us to open the door to the world of consciousness.
Bhagavan Sri Krishna says in Srimad Bhagavad-gita:
daivi hy esa gunamayi mama maya duratyaya
mam eva ye prapadyante mayam etam taranti te
Everything here is happening with the combination of maya and the jiva-soul. The soul is getting happiness, sadness, and many things, but with the connection of maya. When maya leaves us, then our material ego will also leave, and then we shall be able to see the transcendental world; and we will get our position in the service of our Supreme Lord, our Supreme Godhead. We are waiting for that day. Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur has written many things in his songs in this regard, including the following:
kabe gaura-vane, suradhuni-tate
‘ha radhe ha krsna’ bale’
ka̐diya bedaba, deha-sukha chhadi’
svapacha-grhete, magiya khaiba
puline puline, gada-gadi diba
dhama-vasi jane, pranati kariya
magiba krpara lesa
vaisnava-charana- renu gaya makhi’
gauda-vraja-jane, bheda na dekhiba
dhamera svarupa sphuribe nayane
hai-ba radhara dasi
He says that when we can see that transcendental form of Nabadwip, we will understand where we are. Then we can say confidently, “We are living on Gupta Govardhan now!” Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur said that this place Koladwip—where this Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math is situated—is Gupta Govardhan, and that it is aparadha-bhanjan-pat in Mahaprabhu’s lila. That means that if we live here with full faith for one night, all our sins and offences will go. Also in the holy book Bhakti-ratnakara it is given that this place, Koladwip, where we are living is aparadha-bhanjan-pat. When that day will come to us—when maya and our ego leave us—then we will be able to see everything, including our Lord’s manifestation, in the form of the Dham. With our transcendental body we will be able to serve our Lord in many ways: santa, dasya, sakhya, vatsalya and up to the highest, madhura.
Madhura-rasa is very gloriously manifested only in Krishna-lila, and hankering for that rasa is manifested fully in Gaura-lila. Krishna is so beautiful that Krishna Himself cannot imagine how beautiful He is. And when Krishna sees His face in the mirror, He wants to embrace and kiss Himself, and He is very disturbed: He cannot tolerate. He needs Himself. But can He succeed? Madhura-rasa is inside Him, and He is as though mad, thinking, “What shall I do?” And Krishna is seeing that Radharani is getting all the ecstasy from His transcendental form and by His service. What Krishna wants, She immediately presents Him with that. She knows what Krishna wants, and She is always preparing for Krishna. Krishna has no chance to serve that Mahasakti, Radharani. By the service of Krishna, Radharani gets everything, but Krishna does not get that, even though He enthusiastically wants it most. So He thinks, “It is only possible if I Myself assume the position of Srimati Radharani, then I shall be able to taste that ecstasy She is feeling.” In this way Krishna took the bhava and kanti—the mood and colour—from Radharani and He became Gaura Mahaprabhu; and that is the very highest entity that we worship with utmost reverence.
Now our position is very low, but from below, downstairs, we are expecting that by the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu we must get a lift, an elevator to go there. And by coming in touch with Srila Guru Maharaj already we have a connection to go there. It is only necessary for us to have a little strength to tolerate the speed. Krishna is very merciful to the souls of Kali-yuga because He gives them the opportunity to connect with Himself. ‘Himself’ means Nam, Hari-nam. Krishna and Krishna-nam are nondifferent. He, in the form of Nam, always wants to distribute His mercy to the fallen souls. That connection we have already; now it is only necessary to tolerate the speed of our journey. That is our only duty, and who cannot so tolerate will fall down. Every jiva-soul has freedom, that is, he is free not to take hold of a pillar, stick, or other handhold, and so he falls down by the wind.
We are so fortunate to have taken birth in this age of Kali-yuga, and especially so, having attained this human body. Not only that, but we have connected with this Krishna consciousness through the merciful devotees of Srila Swami Maharaj and Srila Guru Maharaj; then what fear need we have? We have received everything, but now it is necessary to digest it properly. We have received much instruction and many books from both Srila Swami Maharaj and Srila Guru Maharaj, and we have heard many valuable teachings from them. We are observing their associates now living in this world: they are present in this world, and we are hearing from them and trying to practise Krishna consciousness as much as possible. We are trying to a lesser or greater degree; still, no doubt, our attempt is lacking. It is always necessary to have more and more attachment with consciousness—full Krishna consciousness. Everything is consciousness, but it is necessary to engage ourselves fully with that Krishna consciousness. Many, many births have gone before, and maybe many are waiting in the future. But at this moment we have this human body. We do not know how much time we have in this world, but one second is sufficient for us to surrender with that full consciousness. So we must try; we have no other place or direction to go. Only these directives we can follow: what is shown by Srila Guru Maharaj, Srila Swami Maharaj, and Mahaprabhu in the scriptures. There is only this one directive. It is not much for us. We have spent before many lives with our own happiness, but if we can spend this life for Krishna, that cannot be negligible. Many thousands and thousands, and crores and crores of lives have passed. Eighty-four lakhs of species of bodies are covering the jiva-souls in this world, but only four lakhs of those are human. We now have this human body, this body with developed consciousness, so we must use it properly. Therefore, Srimad Bhagavatam has said: “He who is a suicidal man is he who is looking at everything but not taking anything.”
nr-deham adyam sulabham sudurlabham
plavam sukalpam guru-karnadharam
puman bhavabdhim na taret sa atma-ha
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 11.20.17)
We have this human body in our hand, and it is very rarely achieved. Many, many births have passed, but suddenly we have attained this human body by our karma, good karma no doubt. It is sulabham sudurlabham, which means it is not easily attainable, but we have attained it. If you want to cross a river or an ocean, you need a boat. This human body is like a boat, and we have now attained it. With the help of this human body, our soul can easily cross over the ocean. But who is the guide of the boat? My Gurudev is he, the navigator. All my good fortune has descended from Krishnaloka in the form of my Gurudev, and I have connection with him. Krishna is very merciful to show our destination through the Guru, through the Sadhu, and through the scriptures. In this way he is giving the favourable wind for this boat of ours to go to our destination. So, one who will not take this chance is a suicidal man.
We have a very good chance, and we must take this chance. We can go this side, that side, or so many ways: we have the right, but it is not good for us. We must go straight, and that one-way direction is to the spiritual world. That is our destination. We need to go there. We do not want to look at anything except that single goal, just as Arjuna with single-pointed attention shot the eye of a model bird without seeing anything but that single point of the target. That is, our attempt must also be in this way.
Many things have happened in our lives, but we do not want to discuss that. Many things may come in our lives in the future, but we do not want that. Now we have a connection with Krishna, His entourage, and also His service, and this is our destiny. We must try with our full energy to reach our destination, and when we get the help of all our environment, what fear can there be for us? Maybe sometimes we will fall down a little, but we must immediately arise, continue, and run again, so that is no problem. To try with our full single-pointed energy is the proper action. We are to take the proper action for this human body and our transcendental soul, jiva-soul.
In this way I am trying to present to you something of the conception of our Srila Guru Maharaj. You are trying very hard, and you are so affectionate to me, therefore you want to hear something from me. What I have, I also want to give others. This is not a ‘testable’ matter, but it is also not a hidden matter. The property I have is also yours.
It is necessary to have proper adjustment with all, and that is congregational chanting. If I can play mrdanga, I must play mrdanga. If you can play kartals, you must play kartals. If someone can dance, he must dance. If someone can chant, he must chant. Everybody can do one thing or another, so by congregational chanting we will go with a big ship to our destiny. This is our goal, and the method is called gosthyanandi bhajan.
Jay Om Visnupad Paramahamsa Parivrajakacharya-varya Astottara-sata-Sri Srimad Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj ki jay!
Surrender And Serve
His Divine Grace
Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj
We are not renounced sannyasis; we are more than grhasthas, but this ‘grha’ is the house of Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Gandharva Govindasundar Jiu. In this way we are actually members of Their house, not sannyasis. We are members of Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Gandharva Govindasundar’s servitors’ group, and therefore we have much responsibility. The highest responsibility is to serve the Sadhu, the Guru, and the Vaisnavas. In the scriptures it is said that every grhastha must do some Vaisnava-seva, some Guru-seva, and in this way they can increase their devotional life. Our service to Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Gandharva Govindasundar is also like the service of a householder. Many devotees are coming and going, and for the purpose of preaching we are making many programmes, so this is also one kind of grhastha life. In the book Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, in which Rupa Goswami gives the science of devotion, he has written one sloka:
anasaktasya visayan yatharham upayunjatah
nirbandhah krsna-sambandhe yuktam vairagyam uchyate
We are followers of Prabhupad Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur and Sriman Mahaprabhu, as well as our Srila Guru Maharaj. We are trying to maintain our devotional life with this conception of yukta-vairagya. We must invite into our lives that which is necessary for devotion, and leave aside whatever may be harmful. Mahaprabhu said that we are not brahmans; we are not ksatriyas; we are not vaisyas; and we are not sudras. Also we are not vanaprasthas; we are not grhasthas; and we are not sannyasis; our only identification is that we are the servitors of the servitors of the servitors of the servitor’s servitors of Sri Krishna. And what kind of Krishna? Gopi-bhartuh pada-kamalayor dasa-dasanudasah.
Not Kuruksetra Krishna and not Dvaraka Krishna, but He who is protecting the cows, He who is Lord of the gopis, and He who is playing in Vrndavan and on Govardhan Hill; that type of Krishna, cowherd boy Krishna: we are to be the servant of the servant of Him. To be such a servant is our main line and goal of life.
naham vipro na cha nara-patir napi vaisyo na sudro
naham varni na cha grha-patir no vana-stho yatir va
gopi-bhartuh pada-kamalayor dasa-dasanudasah
Spontaneously we must try with our full devotion to establish and maintain this conception in our life. Twenty-four hours a day service to the Lord is necessary, but the nearest Lord is Guru, Vaisnava, and Mahaprabhu. We are to fully surrender there; not only surrender and lie down, but surrender and serve. We are to surrender and serve with our full energy twenty-four hours a day, and then we must reach our transcendental destination very easily and without caring about anything. That is the devotional mood.
One day during the translation from Sanskrit to Bengali of Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, many pandits came to the Math here in Nabadwip. There was one very difficult sloka, the meaning of which the pandits could not fully understand. This sloka said, “I don’t care for Baladev, and I don’t care for Rukmini or Satyabhama, but I must do my service: that type of ego I have.” But that is very difficult to understand. Baladev is Guru, and Satyabhama is a super-servitor of Krishna, therefore how can anyone say that he does not care for them? So why has Rupa Goswami composed this verse?
The pandits were all puzzled and came to Srila Guru Maharaj. They were very satisfied to hear his reply. He told them, “Rupa Goswami composed this sloka with some purpose: to show what the target of the devotee is. ‘O Baladev! O Satyabhama! You are both most worshippable to me, but please do not interfere with me now. I am busy with my service and have no time to spare. I know that you are both super-servitors of Lord Krishna, but I am your servitor’s servitor; I have some duty.” If their Master’s table is dirty, will the Master clean that? No! If the Master will want to clean it, the devotee must give objection, “Please give me that opportunity; it is my duty, not yours.” In this way the devotees have some ego: they must serve their Master. “Please do not interfere here, but go and be seated over there, and I shall worship your lotus feet.” This is the meaning that is coming through this sloka.
In that assembly there were great, great pandits, including Sri Ram Gopal Vidyabhusan, who was a very great devotee of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Prabhupad and a great Sanskrit scholar. Previously those pandits could not understand the gist of that sloka, but when Srila Guru Maharaj explained it they were all very happy. This interpretation can now be found in Srila Guru Maharaj’s Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu commentary.
The servitor’s nature is that he does not wish to give any trouble to his Lord. Even when the Lord is lying down and sleeping, the servitor will not stop: he must engage in his Lord’s service. Nothing can separate him from his Lord’s service, just as the soldier-ant cannot give up its grip, even if its head becomes torn from its body in the attempt. But it is true that one servitor cannot do everything. Therefore in Vrndavan, and everywhere, there are many groups. In each group there is a main leader as well as other leading devotees. They instruct others while they themselves engage in service. In this way the transcendental service world is running very happily, and that is called Goloka Vrndavan.
sriyah kantah kantah parama-purusah kalpa-taravo
druma bhumis chintamani-gana-mayi toyam amrtam
katha ganam natyam gamanam api vamsi priya-sakhi
chid anandam jyotih param api tad asvadyam api cha
(Sri Brahma-samhita: 5.56)
This is a very nice sloka from Brahma-samhita. One who once reads Brahma-samhita can never forget it. Mahaprabhu brought from South India two books. When He came across the Brahma-samhita, He was surprised and thought, “This is My conception!” and took with Him a copy of that book. The other book He brought from South India was Sri Krsna-karnamrtam. In Brahma-samhita all the siddhanta is given in gist form, and in Krsna-karnamrtam all the rasas are similarly given. Mahaprabhu took in His left hand Krsna-karnamrtam and in His right hand, Brahma-samhita.
But for us to understand Brahma-samhita is a little difficult; therefore Rupa Goswami, Sanatan Goswami, Jiva Goswami, and other Acharyas composed many Vaisnava scriptures for our sampradaya, many books for our help. One such book is called Sri Hari-bhakti-vilasa; another which is by Rupa Goswami and gives the science of devotion is called Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu; and Srila Sanatan Goswami composed Brhad-bhagavatamrtam. Srila Rupa Goswami composed Laghu-bhagavatamrtam and many natakas (plays), such as Ujjvala-nilamani.
Many compositions have come for the development of our transcendental knowledge, but we are not qualified to read every book. In order to read the books it is necessary to have some previous qualification, some primary qualification. Otherwise, if we go to read those books, we will go down with our mundane mind, and sahajiyaism, imitationism, will immediately catch us. Therefore Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Prabhupad instructed us to avoid reading any explanations about madhura-rasa. Srila Guru Maharaj also instructed us not to try to read these books, but first we may read the primary books under the guidance of the Vaisnavas, and that will be very helpful for our devotional lives.
There are many books, but particularly Srila Guru Maharaj’s Srimad Bhagavad-gita will be very helpful for us, although the interpretations of Sri Gita from other sampradayas may not be helpful.
It is necessary to see what should be the one target in our lives, and that is service to Guru and Vaisnava. This is the main thing in our lives. To get a position or to get a chair is very easy. Anyone, anywhere, can make a chair for himself. But to receive mercy from Guru and Vaisnava is very difficult, although that is the wealth of our lives, and that is what we need for our practising life. Our only hope is that our Gurudev, his godbrothers, and other Vaisnavas will not leave us. They are always giving us causeless mercy, and we are able to maintain our spiritual lives with that.
durdaive sevaka yadi yaya anya sthane
sei prabhu dhanya tare chule dhari ane
No doubt we are conditioned souls and sometimes must do some wrong. It is a real possibility in our life. But our Guru is conscious, so he will not leave us: he must take us and forcibly rescue us bringing us to his lotus feet. That is also a qualification of Guru. Our Gurudev is very great, and therefore from every direction our minds may be rescued and brought to his lotus feet and engaged in his service. Also it is my own experience that sometimes I may try to do something about which I do not know much, but there is no fault in trying. Rather, I must try, but the result is in the hands of Krishna, Guru, and Vaisnava. My attention is not to be attached to the result; they will see to that.
I must only serve. I must try to serve, and I must not forget my duty. This is the main theme of our lives. We have had many births, lakhs and lakhs of births, but somehow we now have this human birth, so we must use this body in the proper way. We have a very high chance, a super-chance with this mundane human body.
By our good fortune we have received the seeds of Krishna-prema, from which grow the bhakti-lata, or creeper of devotion, and if we can cultivate that properly, we can cross over the illusory environment. Not only can we leave the illusory environment and go to Viraja and Brahmaloka, but we can cross even those planes very easily by our devotion. And with the help of that bhakti-lata we can go to our main destination: Goloka Vrndavan. When we get shelter in that kalpa-vrksa, that wish-fulfilling tree, the lotus feet of Krishna, everything will be fulfilled automatically, and we need this. We now have the human body, but we do not know what may come in the future, and we do not know where our karma will take us when we die.
yam yam vapi smaran bhavam tyajaty ante kalevaram
tam tam evaiti kaunteya sada tad-bhava-bhavitah
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 8.6)
If at the time of dying I remember a dog, then I shall go to the womb of a dog. Such danger is there.
So we must do everything for the service of our Srila Guru Maharaj; then nothing can disturb us. It is necessary that the mind be captured by the transcendental environment. If we can do that then we can use everything for the Lord’s service. That is paramahamsa-dharma.
The Living Life
His Divine Grace
Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj
Without servitors, associates, and paraphernalia, the Lord’s position is Brahma, where there is no action. There is no feeling, willing, action or thinking. That is the plane of nirakar nirvises, nondifferentiation. The activity of the transcendental world is positive, whereas the activity of this mundane world where we are living is negative. We need to leave this mundane world with the help of the positive current, and that help comes to us in the form of our Guru-parampara. A light bulb requires both negative and positive electricity for it to light up. When there is darkness, we can think what light is, and in this way our programme for being rescued from the mundane world is going on.
Narad Goswami gave a conception to Vyasadev, who then engaged in proper contemplation and attained realisation.
bhakti-yogena manasi, samyak pranihite ’male
apasyat purusam purnam mayam cha tad-apasrayam
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 1.7.4.)
There are two kinds of maya: yogamaya and mahamaya. In yogamaya, Krishna is playing in His transcendental Pastimes, but mahamaya is the illusion where we are at present. Here is only the activity of mahamaya, illusion, but sometimes it may also be possible to receive some help from that.
There are many things to be known in transcendental knowledge, but Mahaprabhu simply instructed, “Chant the Hare Krishna mahamantra, and then you will realise everything.” Only by properly chanting this Hare Krishna mahamantra we will see everything. Similarly, Narad Goswami spoke only four slokas to Vyasadev, called the Bhagavat chatuh-sloki, and through meditation upon these slokas evolved the whole Bhagavat of eighteen thousand slokas. For our benefit it has appeared in this mundane plane by the grace of Srila Vyasadev. Srimad Bhagavatam is a manifestation of Sri Krishna. The whole body of Srimad Bhagavatam is Krishna’s body. In the Srimad Bhagavatam, and also in other scriptures, we find that the main instruction is to chant the Holy Names of the Lord. This is a very nice thing, and the chanting of this Hare Krishna mahamantra is our only hope. In this way we can go to our transcendental destination, and we can attain everything. Also, if we preach about that mahamantra to others, we shall be benefitted. When someone will practise, others will see that practitioner’s life and must be inspired.
In this way Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu wants to take all the jiva-souls from all over the world to the transcendental world. There are countless numbers of jiva-souls, and if the world were to be emptied, more will immediately come to refill it, just as wind rushes into a depression. This is one kind of Pastime, lila, of Krishna. By His will everything is moving. The transcendental world is always very happily moving whereas the mundane world is moving unhappily. Everything is gachchhatiti jagat, which means that it is always moving. There is jada jagat and chetan jagat: the material world and the transcendental world. Everything, everywhere, is moving. This wall is moving, this light bulb is also moving, and within a hundred years we will be able to see how they have changed their form. Jagat means ‘world’. There are the transcendental worlds and the material worlds—everywhere, and inside everything, always some activity is going on.
The proper work is service to Krishna, and the whole transcendental world is fully engaged in His service in many ways. There are many Avatars such as Saktyaves-avatars and Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Vamana, and so on, also the Chatur-vyuha and Ksirodakasayi Visnu, Garbhodakasayi Visnu, and Karanodakasayi Visnu. There are so many manifestations of the Lord. There are many things in the transcendental world, and it is called purna—full.
We have this birth in our hand, and we shall try to utilise it properly to go to the transcendental service world. To properly use it means to chant the Hare Krishna mahamantra, to do Vaisnava-seva, and to try to improve our devotional practising life.
Everybody is trying to make his heart clean, no doubt, but we must get problems with our human body; however these we shall try to ignore. We may have many diseases, but we are not to run behind the diseases, rather we shall try to run with our conception of Srila Guru Maharaj. In this way we must all try to proceed. First there is the practising life, and only later will the higher knowledge come to capture us. When the higher knowledge conquers us, He will play in His own way. But we are practitioners, therefore it is most important that we try very hard to practise, otherwise we will not get that fortune. It is necessary to practise without offence, and in that way we will quickly be successful. It is a very easy thing and also a very hard thing! No doubt it is a very hard thing, but if you can follow under the guidance of an expert, it is also an easy thing.
I have mentioned that when I joined Srila Guru Maharaj’s Mission, he gave me only one advice, and I think that this is the first and last advice of Srila Guru Maharaj. He told me, “You must follow my directives, not your mind.” When we are unqualified, we have no knowledge as to what is Krishna consciousness: we have no knowledge about the transcendental world. Therefore we are to expertly try to follow our Guru; and Guru must be perfect. Before accepting Guru I may examine him in many ways and pray to Nityananda Prabhu to show His real form as my Guru. But once I have accepted someone as my spiritual instructor, Guru, then I must follow him properly.
Nityananda Prabhu is the treasurer of Vrndavan, and so we may pray to Him; that means to our Srila Guru Maharaj, who is nondifferent from Srila Nityananda Prabhu, and He must be merciful to us and give the opportunity to stay in Vrndavan Dham. Vrndavan Dham is here in a hidden way in Nabadwip, and here at Koladwip is Gupta Govardhan, Hidden Govardhan Hill. He who wants to see can actually see this.
By following a pure devotee, sadhu, we can achieve everything. Sometimes living with a sadhu may not be good for us due to the chance of our making offences, but if we are far from sadhu but thinking about him and serving him, then that is sometimes better for the conditioned souls.
The name I have given for Srila Guru Maharaj’s Samadhi Mandir is ‘The Temple of Union in Separation’. Union in separation is the highest life in the spiritual world. When Krishna is with Radharani and the Vraja-gopis, He is eating, playing, and doing other things. When He is before Radharani, She sees only one Krishna, but when He is out of Her vision, She sees Krishna everywhere: many Krishnas. That is the idea of ‘union in separation’.
yadi nayana mude thaki’ antare govinda dekhi
nayana khulile dekhi syame
“If I close my eyes, I see Govinda within my heart. When I open my eyes I also see the same Syam before me.” That is also the position of the Mahabhagavat.
sarvabhutesu yah pasyed bhagavad-bhavam atmanah
bhutani bhagavaty atmany esa bhagavatottamah
One who sees the presence of Krishna is a Mahabhagavat. Everywhere, in every matter and in every service, he feels Krishna’s presence. In good matters, in bad matters, in everything and everywhere, the Mahabhagavat sees Krishna. He is a paramahamsa. He feels the presence of Krishna and sees the play of Krishna. All this is mainly coming via the channel of union in separation. That is the highest goal of our spiritual life. Mahaprabhu said,
vadanam gad-gada-ruddhaya gira
pulakair nichitam vapuh kada
tava nama-grahane bhavisyati
“O Lord, when will My eyes be adorned with tears of love, flowing like waves? When will My voice tremble with love, and when will My body thrill to the chanting of Your Holy Name?”
When we shall take Krishna-nam properly, then these feelings must come to us, and we shall be able to see the play of Krishna. Krishna will dance on our tongues. We cannot chant properly now, but when Suddha-nam, the pure Name, will appear on our tongues, He will dance, and then we shall be able to feel everything:
hrdaya hai-te bale jihvara agrete chale
sabda-rupe nache anuksana
I must make myself as a platform for the dancing of Krishna-nam. We must try in that way, and we shall be able to see that all the trees and all the paraphernalia of this Nabadwip Dham and of this Math of Srila Guru Maharaj are transcendental: we shall be able to feel that. These transcendental feelings are necessary, and when they appear they will not leave our heart. We may be trying mundanely now, but we must try with whatever we have. If we are able to run, we may try to win a 100 metre race. But now our legs are very weak. We cannot even walk properly, and are therefore taking the help of this mundane earth. We are taking that help like a baby who is trying to move by first taking the help of the earth. But when we gain strength in our legs, we shall be able to run, and after practising at 100 metres we can very easily try for 400 metres, or 1500 metres, or even the marathon.
With the association of the devotees we can progress in our spiritual lives very quickly. A real devotee can give us everything. With his association we shall get many things and a ‘living life’. Life is not dead matter, but living life is necessary.
indriyani parany ahur indriyebhyah param manah
manasas tu para buddhir buddher yah paratas tu sah
If we can engage proper intelligence for the service of the Lord, then we must certainly be the gainer. Proper intelligence is necessary, and that comes with the association of the devotees. Our mind is always going this way, that way, and every way, but when we get the association of the devotees, we shall automatically and always talk about Krishna consciousness; of that there is no doubt. Just now I was doing some other service, but when you all came here to me, automatically I immediately engaged myself in speaking about Krishna consciousness. Therefore we can see practically the benefit of associating with devotees. You also try wherever you are living to make an association of devotees, and you will also be happy.
Sweet Success Assured
His Divine Grace
Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj
By the will of the Lord, trikala-darsi rsis have made the laws, and those are recorded in the scriptures. They make the laws, but the laws are for whom? It is necessary to know. The law is not for those who are perfect persons, but the law is for the sinners and offensive persons. The paramahamsas always see everything as property for the service of Krishna. The paramahamsas use everything in that way, and therefore no fault touches them. But everybody must follow the rules and regulations so as not to disturb the environment here in this mundane plane. But where everybody is perfect, there is no necessity for making laws. If nobody sins, then there is no necessity for having prison houses. In every country there are many prison houses, but there would be no necessity for these if everybody was perfect. The pure devotees are always perfect, and so it is not necessary to make any restrictions or rules for them. They are doing what is good for the service of Krishna, and that is the rule they are following. They are not disturbing others, therefore there is no necessity for law and restriction. In such a plane everyone’s mood is to serve others and not to take for themselves. That is the service world, and in that world there are no problems. What disturbances may be seen there, are for the nourishment of the Pastimes of Krishna. There may even be jealousy in that plane, but that jealousy is also very nourishing for His Pastimes, though that is a very high thing. That world is the transcendental world, where there is no fault and no wrong. Whatever appears to be wrong is really glorifying Krishna and giving Him satisfaction.
During the Rasa-lila, Srimati Radharani was watching Krishna dance with the other gopis. She thought, “I know that He is not fully satisfied, but why is He doing this for so long? And what is My position there? I am His super-servitor, and so I do not like it when Krishna deals with Me in the same way that He deals with others!” Thinking this, She left. As soon as Krishna noticed that Radharani was no longer there He became beside Himself and started searching for Her. He left everything and everyone, and went searching for Her.
Such things cannot be explained fully, but when they come down and manifest in the heart, you will be able to understand them. Srila Rupa Goswami explained in his book Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu:
atah sri-krsna-namadi na bhaved grahyam indriyaih
sevonmukhe hi jihvadau svayam eva sphuraty adah
This is a very nice sloka and gives us much hope. Krishna’s Name, Krishna’s Fame, Krishna’s Pastimes, Krishna’s Form—everything about Him—is transcendental, and therefore we cannot conquer Him with this mundane human body and mundane self. But we can conquer Him fully with our transcendental mood of service. Sevonmukhe hi jihvadau svayam eva sphuraty adah: when He is satisfied with our mood of service, He Himself will come down into our hearts and will dance on our tongues. It is not by the power of our exertion, but Krishna Himself will come on our tongues, and He will dance showing His form and Pastimes.
Nityananda Prabhu is very merciful, Srila Guru Maharaj is very merciful, and Srila Swami Maharaj is very merciful, therefore there is no doubt that we must get everything necessary to connect with the high transcendental matters. Then why should we have any fear about mundane activities? Only we must not make any offence to the Vaisnavas; that is our cautionary rule. We must follow the path of avoiding offence to Vaisnavas. Srila Krishna Das Kaviraj heavily expressed in Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta:
yadi vaisnava-aparadha uthe hati-mata
upade va chhinde, tara sukhi’ yaya pata
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 19.156)
With his head the elephant rips up trees and throws them out; similarly Vaisnava-aparadh is like that elephant’s head: it rips up the creeper of devotion, the bhakti-lata, and throws it away. At that time the heart becomes empty of devotion and full again with illusion. No other disturbance can come in the way of bhakti except Vaisnava-aparadh, and it is my earnest prayer that you all give me blessings so that I may be safe from the danger of ever committing Vaisnava-aparadh in my life.
Question: You said that we are to be the servants of the Vaisnavas, but we also hear that the Vaisnava is a servant of all jivas and of the whole world. So how are we to adjust?
Srila Govinda Maharaj: Anything other than service to the Vaisnavas is not service to Krishna, but that is karma. Only service to the Vaisnava is real service to Krishna, and only that can take us out from the illusory environment to the transcendental service world. The only service to the jivas which is actually good is if we can engage them in the service of Guru-Vaisnava; otherwise serving them will be the cause of not only their bondage but also my own bondage (loko ’yam karma bandhanah).
The meaning of the word ‘mahotsav’ has been explained by Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur in one article that he wrote. In the Vaisnava community many mahotsavs are being held in every temple, but generally the meaning of ’mahotsav’ is not known. ’Mahotsav’ means ‘maha utsav’, that means that it is a ‘super-festival’. Everywhere they are telling, “We are celebrating a super-festival.” Here ‘super’ means that there is transcendental blessing, mercy, everything—prasadam. In which way is Krishna taking our humble offerings? Through Guru-Vaisnava. To satisfy the Vaisnavas is really to satisfy Krishna. Krishna says:
aham bhakta-paradhino hy asvatantra iva dvija
sadhubhir grasta-hrdayo bhaktair bhakta-jana-priyah
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 9.4.63)
But if there is no Vaisnava present, where will we see the transcendence? But if a Vaisnava takes prasadam, that will then be transformed into a maha-utsav—mahotsav. There may be only five, or even just one or two, Vaisnavas present, but that is then a mahotsav, whereas if there are thousands of people present to take food but no Vaisnava, then that is not actually a mahotsav. First the Vaisnavas will take prasadam, and then those who are fully body conscious will take after them.
Therefore everything is not service to Krishna and the Vaisnavas. There are very few Vaisnavas, but first we shall try to serve the Vaisnavas, and in that way we can distribute prasadam to the masses. Amongst thousands gathered at a festival there may be only one or two Vaisnavas present, but if they first will take that prasadam and the remainder is distributed to the masses, the mahotsav is successful. In that way the masses will get nitya sukrti, or eternal merit, through that maha-mahaprasadam.
We want to serve the masses, but in which way? By giving them mahaprasadam. When Krishna takes food, that is called mahaprasadam, but when that mahaprasadam is taken by a Vaisnava, it becomes maha-mahaprasadam, and it is that which we want to distribute to everyone. Amongst those who are gathered at a festival some of those who are body conscious may be destined to become ghosts, but they will be benefitted by taking prasadam, and if they will take maha-mahaprasadam after the Vaisnava-seva, then they will get more benefit.
At present they will not listen to the advice of the scriptures. They are attached to the mundane world. Also maya always keeps some cover over this transcendental Nabadwip Dham. There are many here who are playing upon that cover like insects on a bottle of honey which has the top firmly closed; they try to take that honey but cannot. If we do not follow the directives, our position is also like that. First it is necessary to open the bottle, then the honey can be distributed everywhere. The devotees will take that honey and glorify it with an intoxicated mood. While they relish the taste and enthusiastically give glorification, some honey may spill here and there, and we can take that. This is very nice for us and we can easily get that ecstasy.
bhuvi viluthamo natamo nirvisamah
Without caring, they are relishing that honey, dancing and crying, and in this way they are taking that intoxication. That is called alankar. Here intoxication does not mean the intoxication of alcohol and drugs, but the intoxication of Hari-katha. That type of ecstasy comes down from the transcendental world through the servitors of Krishna. Those servitors dance and chant ecstatically, and while doing so, some of that ecstasy is spilt here and there, and we can easily take that.
Srila Guru Maharaj wrote, “I have collected those drops of ecstasy in my Sri Sri Prapanna-jivanamrtam. You take it and taste for yourself just what this is.”
niksipta madhu-bindavas cha parito bhrasta mukhat gunjitaih
yatnaih kinchid ihahrtam nija-para-sreyo ’rthina tan maya
bhuyo-bhuya ito rajamsi pada-samlagnani tesam bhaje
(Sri Sri Prapanna-jivanamrtam: 10.14)
I think that this is the highest sloka I have received in my life, and I shall try to explain the meaning.
“In the lotus feet of Bhagavan Sri Krishna is honey. The devotees in a very glorifying way taste that, and it is not a mere drop of honey, rather it is an ocean. They take that and become very intoxicated. They chant and glorify their Lord, and that honey overflows. A few drops of that come down into this world, and I am quickly collecting those drops of honey and keeping them in a pot: that is Sri Sri Prapanna-jivanamrtam. For my benefit and the benefit of the searchers, I am presenting this in book form. You take this and bless me.”
This, in a simple way, is the meaning of that sloka, and I think that this is the highest sloka I have heard in my life. I am always quoting this, and whenever I have a chance I include it in a book.
This is one of the two slokas that I always want to publish and distribute. The second sloka is from Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta:
krsna-lilamrta-sara tara sata sata dhara
dasa-dike vahe yaha haite
se chaitanya-lila haya sarovara aksaya
mano-hamsa charaha tahate
“What is Krishna-lila? It is the real essence of nectar. It is the gist of sweetness, happiness, and ecstasy. The sweetness of the sweetest thing that can ever be conceived of is represented in Krishna-lila. Then what is Chaitanya-lila? In Chaitanya-lila, that sweet nectar of Krishna-lila is flowing in all ten directions in hundreds of streams as if from a fountain. That fountain is Chaitanya-lila.”
All the devotees like to read Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta and I have also read it many times, but the meaning is not always apparent to us. The real meaning comes through our service, so we must try wholeheartedly and happily to serve, even though sometimes service may not come so happily to us. Sometimes it may give us pain or difficulty.
On the occasion of moving the No. 1 Ultadingi Road branch of the Gaudiya Math to the Bag Bazaar Math in Kolkata, all the devotees were chanting and dancing, and so became very tired. Because they were so exhausted, everybody took rest and tried to sleep even without eating. Srila Guru Maharaj was also very exhausted. His name then was Ramendra Sundar Babu. One devotee approached him saying, “O Ramendra Babu, please come with me in order to bring here a pot of sweet prasadam from a devotee’s house.”
Although Srila Guru Maharaj was also very exhausted he said, “Yes, I shall go.” On arriving at the devotee’s house Srila Guru Maharaj saw there a large pot weighing perhaps sixty kilograms. His body was very strong and, carrying that pot on his head, he went to the Bag Bazaar Math. However, he was not in the habit of carrying things on his head and later said, “At that time I thought my head was going to be crushed!”
Srila Guru Maharaj took that heavy pot thinking, “It is an austerity for me no doubt, but I must take it because this prasadam will be taken by the Vaisnavas and everyone gathered there, and they will be happy. Nobody else can bring this pot at this time, so I must do it.” Later he explained that when he was feeling so much pain in his head he was thinking, “Krishna wants this service from me, therefore I am happy to do this.”
That brahmachari who asked Srila Guru Maharaj to carry the pot later said, “Maharaj, I have done much offence unto your lotus feet.”
But Srila Guru Maharaj replied, “What offence?”
“Oh, on that day I was unable to get anyone to bring the heavy pot of prasadam to the Bag Bazaar Math, therefore I asked you to do so. But you are a very high class brahman; not only that, your position was very exalted, but I could not understand or recognise this on that day. I therefore treated you like a servant by asking you, ‘Ramendra Babu, come with me.’” Lastly he asked Srila Guru Maharaj for permission to stay in this Math, and he did stay for perhaps three or four months.
Service to the Guru and Vaisnava is our life, and we must try to perform that service. No doubt we cannot always satisfy Guru and Vaisnava, but the main thing is to have the tendency and inner desire to satisfy them. Transcendental power comes down through that channel, and if we want it, we must try in this way. Through the Guru and the Vaisnavas, transcendental power comes to us and gives us devotional strength. That strength is the service to Guru and Vaisnava.
Narottam Das Thakur wrote: “Nitaiyer karuna habe Vraje Radha-Krishna pabe.” When we can please Guru and Vaisnava, they will give their mercy, and then we must surely get service to Radha-Govinda and Mahaprabhu. This is very clear. In this way Nityananda Prabhu is very merciful, and He takes the conditioned souls from the very low level up to the high level: that is the power of Nityananda Prabhu. The incarnation of Nityananda Prabhu is Gurudev. Always He distributes the mercy of Mahaprabhu, and He gives entrance to the lila of Radha-Krishna. He is actually the first treasurer of the whole of the transcendental world. He is the master of the whole of that realm, and when we may get entrance to Goloka, Vraja Dham, we shall receive the mercy of Radharani’s servitors. But first, to serve Nityananda Prabhu is most necessary; we must satisfy Nityananda Prabhu.
In Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta it is related that Raghunath Das Goswami many times tried to go to join with Mahaprabhu’s Mission in Jagannath Puri, but he was always unsuccessful and could not meet with Him. Many times he tried to go to the lotus feet of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, but his father tried to keep him in household life, and therefore Raghunath was very sad.
One day he heard that Nityananda Prabhu had come to Panihati near Raghunath Das Goswami’s father’s house. Immediately he went to see Nityananda Prabhu thinking, “Without the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu I will not get Mahaprabhu’s mercy.”
So he went to Nityananda Prabhu. Seeing him, Nityananda Prabhu was happy and said, “You are a thief. Always you are trying to go to Mahaprabhu in the manner of a thief, but first you arrange a festival to feed all the devotees gathered here for My satisfaction. If you can satisfy Me in this way, I shall give you direct entrance to Mahaprabhu’s lotus feet.”
At that time wherever Nityananda Prabhu went He was accompanied by many devotees; also on that occasion in Panihati Gram many were present.
Raghunath Das was very happy to hear Nityananda Prabhu’s order and said, “Yes, Prabhu, I shall try.” So from many villages he collected large quantities of yoghurt, milk, flat rice, bananas, sandes, and many other eatables in order to feed the devotees. He made all arrangements. Nityananda Prabhu with His associates, servitors, and devotees all very happily took that mahaprasadam. Nityananda Prabhu said, “Yes, now you have finished your grhastha life. Your household life is now finished, and you will attain to Mahaprabhu’s lotus feet.”
Then he went back to his father’s house, but he did not enter the inner quarters. Instead, he lived on the outside in the reception room. Raghunath Das Goswami’s mother said to her husband, “Many times your son has stealthily tried to run away to go to the lotus feet of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu; therefore bind his hands and keep him in a room so he cannot leave.”
Raghunath Das Goswami’s father was not a pure Vaisnava, but he had regard for the Vaisnavas. He replied, “How will binding your son keep him here? There are three things that are sufficient to bind one in this mundane world: one is money, another is wife, and the third is fame. But I gave all of my money to him; I gave him a good and very beautiful wife; and I gave all my fame to him, but still I cannot bind him. If I cannot bind him by this method, then how will you keep him here merely by binding his hands? It is impossible to bind him, to keep him in a house. Now I see that also I cannot bind him and that today or tomorrow he must join with the Mission of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
“chaitanya-chandrera krpa hanachhe i̐hare
chaitanya-chandrera ‘batula’ ke rakhite pare?”
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Antya-lila, 6.41)
“Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s mercy has come down into his heart—who can bind a ‘madman’ of Chaitanyachandra? Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is now very merciful to him, and therefore nobody, including myself, can check him.”
After only twelve days he met Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. When Mahaprabhu saw him, He said, “My Raghunath has come back now, but he is very thin. He has not taken any food during his journey, except for only a little milk that he begged from the brahmans’ houses.” Then he put Raghunath Das Goswami in the care of His personal secretary and friend, Svarup Damodar, saying, “You please take care of this boy.” In this way Mahaprabhu distributed His full mercy to Raghunath Das Goswami. This is the history of Raghunath Das Goswami’s life.
Without service to Nityananda Prabhu we will not achieve anything. Nityananda Prabhu means Gurudev. The incarnation of Nityananda Prabhu is Sri Gurudev. His position is just like Krishna’s, rather it is even more than Krishna’s. What Krishna cannot do, Nityananda Prabhu can do. That is His very heavy and powerful position. And by the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu we must get entrance into the lila of Radha-Krishna. What Mahaprabhu wants to distribute in this mundane plane is Krishna-seva under the guidance of Radharani. That is the highest goal of our life. By the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu we must receive that opportunity. Srila Guru Maharaj’s line is very clear. Through service we can reach the goal, otherwise there is no possibility. Always the mood of service will give us enthusiasm to engage with even more of a serving attitude. By that mood of service we can achieve everything.
Srila Guru Maharaj gives the example of a boy playing football. The football always comes to the feet of a good football player. For one who can play nicely, the football always comes to him. The centre-forward is very clever and swift, but one who cannot play properly is always running around the whole ground, but the ball is always far from his feet. Similarly, for one who can do seva, seva will come to him more and more. This is a very nice example for us. It is necessary to sincerely try to serve, and in this way we will find that we are always engaged; and by the mercy of Srila Guru Maharaj we must fulfil his desire. We are only to sincerely try to serve, and it is good if we do not involve ourselves with any result that may come. Sometimes the result may come very nicely, and sometimes no result may come, but we are not to involve ourselves with that. In Srimad Bhagavad-gita Krishna says in regard to the mundane world’s affairs:
matra-sparsas tu kaunteya sitosna-sukha-duhkha-dah
agamapayino ’nityas tams titiksasva bharata
Everything in this mundane plane is sometimes coming and sometimes going. Sometimes there is happiness and sometimes sadness. Sometimes we have good food, sometimes bad food. Sometimes we achieve what we want, and sometimes we do not. But service life is not like that. We must not involve ourselves with any mundane matter. We must involve ourselves with service ,and we must try to fulfil our service, but the result is in the hand of Krishna. Whatever comes may be good or may be bad, but as much as possible I must always try to be successful. This is our life, and joyfulness and success must finally come to us. Since so long ago in my life also, I have seen many things happen, but ultimately I have been successful.
During the time of Srila Guru Maharaj many times many things happened in this Math, but he told me, “Don’t be upset; this is your duty, and any result will come through Krishna, so that result may be good for you.” This is the way we must try to serve. We shall try to engage in the particular service in which we have capacity and with which we are familiar. But first importance will be given to following instructions. If instruction will come for us to do service for which we are not accustomed, or which is against our nature, then we are to prepare ourselves for that.
When I joined Srila Guru Maharaj’s preaching Mission, I was very young, perhaps seventeen years old. After seeing me Srila Guru Maharaj asked, “Can you stay here?” I was surprised. I thought, “Why is he asking me this? I came to stay. I did not come with any thought of leaving, so why is Srila Guru Maharaj asking me this?” I was a little upset, wondering why Srila Guru Maharaj was asking me this. Then the brahmachari who first brought me to the Math said, “Yes, Maharaj, this boy can stay.”
Srila Guru Maharaj then said, “Yes, this is very good. His intention that he must stay is very good.” He further said to me, “Can you follow me?” At that time it was not within my nature to give a negative answer. If I was ordered to do anything, I would immediately say “Yes.” Even without fully hearing the order, I would immediately agree to it; that was my nature. If the question would come, “Can you do it?” I would always immediately tell “Yes.” I did not like the word “No.” So when Srila Guru Maharaj asked, “Can you follow me?” I said, “Yes, I shall do anything you instruct.”
Then Srila Guru Maharaj said, “First you try to follow this one instruction of mine.” I replied, “Please, Maharaj, say what that instruction is.”
He replied, “Do not listen to your mind, but hear from me. What I shall order, you are to follow that. Can you do that?”
Then one day I was taking prasadam, but that prasadam didn’t appear to be very nice, especially the dal which contained so many insects. The dal tasted very nice but there were many white insects floating on the surface. When the cook came to serve that dal I noticed the insects. Nearby, standing on the veranda, was Srila Guru Maharaj. He was watching, so what should I do? At first I thought, “Oh, it is very bad”, and my mind told me, “Don’t take it!” Then suddenly and immediately I took the decision, “Oh, no, no. I must take it. It has come as the mercy of Srila Guru Maharaj, therefore I must take it.” At that time I immediately gave out some sound, “Oh, no, no. I must take.”
It was the order of Srila Guru Maharaj: “What I shall tell, you must do. What I shall give you, you must take.” So I must take that prasadam, and happily. After taking prasadam I went to Srila Guru Maharaj in order to give some massage and to have some discussion. He was joking with me and said, “Why did you say, ‘Oh, no, no. I shall take’?”
Then I explained, “Maharaj, it was full of insects. It was not pure dal, but on the top many insects were floating—perhaps thirty or forty! So I was thinking it was not good. But suddenly and immediately I remembered your order, ‘What I shall give you, you must take; and what your mind will say, you don’t follow that.’ Remembering that, I happily took.” Then Srila Guru Maharaj said, “Very good. You can follow me.” In this way I had my first examination—and passed.”
Sometimes many things may come to confront us in order to examine us, but we must sincerely try to pass those tests. No doubt we may sometimes fail, but we have heard that “failure is the pillar of success”. Therefore there is no problem, and again we must try.
bhumau skhalita-padanam bhumir evavalambanam
tvayi jataparadhanam tvam eva saranam prabho
When a young child is at first trying to walk by himself, he will not successfully be able to do that. Sometimes he will fall down, but he will get up and try again until finally he is successful. At first he will try one step, then two steps, then three steps, then four steps. In this way he will go forwards and fall down, but then he will try again to walk. Our attempt is also like that: sometimes we must fall down, but there should be no fear of that because we must have the strength of mind to know that we have the backing from our Guru and the Vaisnavas. Seeing their merciful world we must take the chance again and again; that is the main thing, and there is no other way.
Here where we are living is the mundane plane, where in a cyclic way we are receiving birth after birth throughout the fourteen worlds. But our goal is to cross over this environment to Paravyoma Dham and to Goloka Dham: that is our destination. By repeatedly trying, one day we must be successful in reaching that goal. Another way for us to go is by the merciful blessings of Guru and the Vaisnavas. They are not blind, but seeing our intention they must surely help us by giving guidance as to which way we can go and what will be beneficial for us. What we may get by way of inspiration is received from the Chaittya-guru, the internal Guru. Other directives we receive from the Mahanta-guru, the external manifestation of Sri Guru. Therefore our future is very bright, no doubt, but we must follow the directives of Srila Guru Maharaj and try to go to our transcendental destination. This is our only duty; there is no other duty.
It is very fortunate when the opportunity to engage in direct service to Krishna comes to the jiva-souls, and Krishna gives that through Guru. Therefore Nityananda Prabhu, that is, Sri Guru, is the only hope in our lives. Lastly we have seen how Srila Guru Maharaj was always chanting, “Dayal Nitai, Dayal Nitai, Dayal Nitai.” He said, “My only hope is ‘Dayal Nitai, Dayal Nitai.’”
Nobody could understand the meaning within that, but by the mercy of Srila Guru Maharaj I immediately guessed it. Srila Guru Maharaj is showing us the proper line. He has crossed over all stages of the practising life; that is called paramahamsa, and now he is showing us our fortune, that is, Dayal Nitai. By the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu we must be successful; therefore our practising life must go in that direction. This is my advice to you all, and also I am trying, and praying to Sri Guru and the Vaisnavas, “Please give me that type of increasing inspiration and power to preach to others and be successful as a servitor myself.”
Answers Through Letters
His Divine Grace
Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj
Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj is known the world over by the affectionate but reverential name, ‘Srila Guru Maharaj’. He disappeared from his manifest Pastimes in this world on 12 August 1988. Since that time his dearmost and topmost Divine Servitor and Successor Acharya, Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj, has been increasingly involved with the direct guidance of Srila Guru Maharaj’s Mission and devotees worldwide. Srila Govinda Maharaj himself is our shining example of exclusive devotion to Srila Guru Maharaj, and his radiance is felt by countless fortunate souls around the world through his replies to their letters.
Question: I used to help in the local preaching centre, but that has closed down, therefore my service has stopped, and I have gradually become isolated from my godbrothers. What am I to do? At present myself and family are worshipping the pictures of Srila Guru Maharaj and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Would it be all right to have a Sri Murti of Srila Guru Maharaj made for our altar? I would also greatly appreciate some personal information about Srila Guru Maharaj, such as his favourite prasadam, bhajans, slokas, and such.
Srila Govinda Maharaj replied:
In general we shall try always to associate with the devotees who are in the same line as ourselves, who are further ahead, and who are favourable in their mood of assistance to us. Therefore if we can associate with those who are going in the line of Srila Guru Maharaj, that will be good, otherwise not. If you have no association of good Vaisnavas, then you can take association from Srila Guru Maharaj’s books and instructions, with serious endeavour to put into practice the advice found there.
When Srila Guru Maharaj was directly present he constantly gave his association in order to guide souls as fallen as ourselves on the path of the ultimate good. Now, in his absence, he remains present as our guardian in the form of his direct representative, dear associates, and Chaittya-guru who reveals that path of the highest good. Srila Guru Maharaj’s presence is found in his message, in his instructions, in his guidance, and in each particle of every single atom of his established place of bhajan, Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math. With the vision of service to the holy abode, we can directly witness and realise this extension of his divine service: this wealth of his divine service. Srila Guru Maharaj himself many times said that in pursuit of the highest ideal it may sometimes be necessary to march on alone when favourable association is not immediately available by the side of a devotee.
Before installing any Sri Murti it is absolutely necessary to see that Sri Murti is not a doll. It is necessary that not only the present seva can be done nicely, but also that in the future, for our lifetime and also after that, the service can be properly continued. Please carefully consider and with honest heart you decide.
Srila Guru Maharaj’s favourite preparations included natural orange juice (with just a little sugar), chhola dal, alu bhaja (fried potatoes), and every day he would take muri (puffed rice). He would very much like to take puris with the alu-bhaja; also he liked alu dam (potato curry) and samosa.
There are many slokas and bhajans that he much appreciated and liked, especially Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur’s songs from Saranagati: Kabe ha’be bala; Tu̐hu daya sagara; ki jani ki bale; Emana durmati; Radha-Kunda-tata, and others. Also Srila Narottam Das Thakur’s bhajans, such as Hari Hari bada sela and Sri Rupa Manjari pada, and also his own composition Sujanarvuda radhita. He would always be reciting many different slokas and, included amongst them, he particularly liked many of the slokas in chapter two of the Madhya-lila of Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta.
Question: I have heard it said by the devotees that there is no such thing as love in this mundane world. Please can you explain this statement?
Srila Govinda Maharaj replied:
It is true that there is no word in English to correspond with the divine love mentioned in the scriptures. Love and prema are not the same. Each jiva-soul has three kinds of qualities: willing, feeling, and thinking, but in this mundane world the jiva-soul is covered by illusion; that is called ‘maya’. The jiva-soul in his clean position always worships his beloved lover, that is, Krishna, and that is the only duty he thinks of. The natural duty in the transcendental service world is love. The transcendental world is full of love. Krishna is infinitely loving. He gives love infinitely, but by giving His love to one, He is not reduced thereby so that He would not then be able to give His love to others. Mostly all the jivas are going there to that plane of the transcendental life of love, but unfortunately a few souls come here to this world. In this mundane plane they are always searching for love, but here pure love is not to be found. There is the plane of renunciation, the plane of dedication, and the plane of exploitation. Real love is seen in the plane of dedication, and that is the transcendental world.
By nature the jiva-soul is living. He must do something, and he is doing, but in this mundane plane his activity is always with the illusory plane of exploitation. Here everything is exploiting everything else, but in the plane of dedication there is no possibility for exploiting, only for serving Krishna and His associates. There, whoever is taking and whoever is giving—everybody is extremely happy. Someone is eating an apple: the devotee is happy, the apple is happy, everyone is happy. That is Krishnaloka, Vraja Dham.
Srila Rupa Goswami gave a description of what love is:
vyatitya bhavana-vartma yas chamatkara-bhara-bhuh
hrdi sattvojjvale badham svadate sa raso matah
Whatever is the extreme point of what we can guess here to be love, real love is far beyond that. What kind of happiness, joyfulness, and fulfilment of life is there, we cannot guess from this mundane position. But in suddha-sattva, in the heart free from the covering of illusion, then that ecstatic ocean can be felt. In the mundane plane, what we see to be love is just a tiny shadow of those feelings. Therefore it is not possible to experience such things in this mundane plane without connection with the transcendental world. In this world we are living with only the shadow of that loving sense and with the identification of male and female. Sometimes we are trying our best together, and with each other, to get that essence. And sometimes for the non-disturbance of this mundane plane we are living together with some system for sympathetically dealing with nature and our hankering for real love. But by our activity here we are going in a circular way, again and again dying and taking birth. We are taking so many different types of birth in different forms of life, and we are searching, “Where is love? Where is love?” like a blind fellow searching for the light of the world of dedication. We cannot see where that world of dedication is, but our supreme lover, Krishna, can see everything. Seeing our hankering tendency He may sometimes distribute His merciful loving light through Sri Guru–Vaisnava in order to prepare us to receive a drop of the ecstatic ocean of love.
Your letter is very hard as it is attached with the confidential Pastimes of Radha and Krishna. Anyhow I hope that you can understand the meaning nicely. You are fortunate to have the association of a devotional family. It is by service to the devotees headed by our Srila Guru Maharaj that the real meaning of the transcendental world can be nicely understood. You can see so much guidance in Srila Guru Maharaj’s books and can try to follow that. Everyone, in honesty, wants real love, and Srila Guru Maharaj is preparing us for that by his instructions and advice.
Question: What should our mood be for making real progress in spiritual life?
Srila Govinda Maharaj replied:
Srila Guru Maharaj said that always we must be humble, and we should try to help our own spiritual lives as well as the devotional faith of the other devotees. That is only possible by the way of trnad api sunichena taror api sahisnuna, amanina manadena kirtaniyah sada Harih. That is, the jiva-soul is independent, but when he is bound by illusion everybody must think, “I have something”. But when he can understand himself properly, then he will think, “I am very, very insignificant, and my only hope is the mercy of the Vaisnavas, and my only shelter is my Divine Master”. If he thinks in this way, then he will be free from maya by the blessings of Krishna.
We are practising Krishna consciousness, or we came to practise Krishna consciousness, not for any mundane benefit. Where we shall see the real light of Krishna consciousness, we must really pay obeisances there. If we can preach in this humble way, then no problem will come and illusion will not attack us. In this way all the devotees can cooperate together just like a noble family. Srila Guru Maharaj said himself that we are all students; maybe there is some classification, but we always must learn from our Divine Master, from the glorified Vaisnavas, and from the scriptures. After the disappearance of Srila Guru Maharaj many things have happened in the Western world that are no doubt mostly inauspicious, but if we can see by means of the conception of our Srila Guru Maharaj, then we can collect from there also our super benefit.
Question: Now that Srila Guru Maharaj has disappeared from this world I am feeling very empty. Therefore I am praying to you for your guidance.
Srila Govinda Maharaj replied:
After the disappearance of Srila Guru Maharaj, in his separation so many inauspicious things have happened, and due to that I am really too much shocked both mentally and bodily, but by the will of Krishna, there is no other way to spend a single moment without His seva programme. Nirjan-bhajan may be possible singly, but sankirtan is not possible without Vaisnava association; in that way we are in the proper line of our Srila Guru Maharaj. Until death we must try to maintain our joyful sankirtan life. We have no other ambition except to be the servants of the servants of the Vaisnavas, but when we see our friends madly jumping into the ocean of illusion and becoming puzzled, then we must be afraid of maya and more tightly embrace the shelter of our protector.
Question: How can I best serve Srila Guru Maharaj?
Srila Govinda Maharaj replied:
Srila Guru Maharaj has already instructed you on the highest direction of your service. There is no service anywhere that is comparable to service rendered to Koladwip. And in Koladwip there is no service that is comparable to the service of Srila Guru Maharaj and to his Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math. You have the great fortune to have the opportunity to render such direct service. Only very few have such opportunity, and this is not comparable to service rendered in any other quarter.
The wealth of the devotee is exclusive devotion to Sri Guru. We all have so many seniors, and Vrndavan is the ‘land of Gurus’, but ananya-bhakti is exclusive absorption in devotion to my own Sri Gurudev. Srila Guru Maharaj taught this and practised this, and we are to try to follow in that line.
Question: I am purchasing a building to be used as an ashram here in the West to represent your Math in Nabadwip. I am asking your instructions as to how I shall proceed with full earnestness.
Srila Govinda Maharaj replied:
When we go to start a new preaching centre and want to install the Deities for our seva programme, first it is necessary to see that the Deity is not a doll and also that the ashram is a conscious part of the Krishna conception. If we can properly maintain both the Deities and the ashram for as long as we live, and longer, then we can start a preaching centre.
Srila Guru Maharaj disappeared, and we all fell down into the ocean of his separation, but Srila Guru Maharaj gave us full direction in the Krishna-seva conception. His Divine Grace is now living with us in the form of his divya-vani, in his divine instructions and his associates. Now our only hopeful shelter is the lotus feet of his divine associates, servitors, and followers.
Question: I am planning to purchase a small facility for an ashram here in our country and am asking for your blessings and advice.
Srila Govinda Maharaj replied:
Try to preach from your ashram the specific conception of our Srila Guru Maharaj about Krishna consciousness. Also Srila Guru Maharaj always asked all the devotees to try to serve his Deities here at Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math in the regular way. Preaching is life. Without preaching, Mahaprabhu may not be satisfied, but with preaching then your enthusiastic programme of service must surely become fulfilled, glorified, and joyful. This is my prayer unto the lotus feet of our Divine Master.
Question: My wife is not attracted to chanting the Hare Krishna mahamantra, but she is presently associating with members of the Ramanuja sampradaya. They chant other Names of the Lord. Please can you give some instruction on the difference between chanting ‘Hare Krishna’ and chanting other Names of the Lord? Please explain to her which is the topmost sampradaya.
Srila Govinda Maharaj replied:
I am happy to hear that you are sincerely trying to guide your good wife towards the all-fulfilling line of our Srila Guru Maharaj. Chapter Ten of The Search for Sri Krishna nicely presents the glories of the mahamantra. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came to give this mahamantra as the yuga-dharma for this age, and all of our predecessor Acharyas are chanting its greatness. In Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta there are clear scientific explanations of the supremacy of Sri Sri Radha-Krishna in Vrndavan, and Sriman Mahaprabhu established this conception over all others.
The Ramanuja sampradaya is glorious and is presenting pure devotion, but of a lower order than the devotion presented by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s gift of service to Radha-Krishna. The highest goal of seva of the Ramanuja sampradaya is service of Laksmi-Narayan, which is in vidhi-marga and therefore virtually unattainable for the fallen souls of Kali-yuga. However in Radha-Krishna’s seva of Vrndavan the worship is in raga-marga, and by the grace of Sri Nitai-Gaura everyone has some hope to enter there. The service of Laksmi-Narayan can give up to two and a half rasas, whereas Radha-Krishna-bhakti can give us the full seva of five rasas; especially madhura is found there. It is only possible to get such service from one who is established there in raga-marga.
The following quotation is in the Brahmanda-purana:
sahasra-namnam punyanam trir avrttya tu yat phalam
ekavrttya tu krsnasya namaikam tat prayachchhati
“Three times chanting the one thousand names of Visnu may give the result which can be achieved by once chanting Krishna’s Name.”
In Jaiva-dharma, in Sri Nama, Namabhasa, o Namaparadha Vichara, and in Sri Hari-nama-chintamani, the glories of the mahamantra have been chanted. However it is necessary to maintain our spiritual lives under the guidance of Sri Guru-Vaisnava; otherwise we cannot progress properly. So many things may come in front of us to cause disturbance. Sri Sri Nitai-Gauranga are exclusively distributing this highest gift, and we are to find guidance from Their bona fide representative. By sincerely wanting Their gift, Sri Krishna will lead us to such a bona fide guide.
Other sampradayas may also be chanting ‘Hare Krishna’, but they are doing so under quite a different conception. Some consider that Narayanloka is the highest, and that Krishnaloka is lower than that. Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur was once by Radha Kunda, and an important person, a king perhaps, was doing dandavat pranams circumambulating this sacred kunda. At that time Paramananda Prabhu told Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Prabhupad that they are also worshipping Radharani. He replied that they are worshipping Her, but under the impression that Radharani is under the guidance of Krishna, whereas we have the clear conception from Sri Nitai-Gauranga which is quite the opposite.
You should both regularly read Srila Guru Maharaj’s books and sincerely follow his guidance and advice. Everything is nicely presented by him in a short, conclusive, and sweet way. By focusing our energy only there, it will bring the highest transcendental fruit.
Question: There seems to be a very fine line between reality and illusion. Everywhere I look I see a forest fire of self-interest. I feel we need some solid, tangible guidelines and encouragement to align us with the current of the Gaudiya sampradaya.
Srila Govinda Maharaj replied:
What Srila Guru Maharaj has given to the world is living and is with the highest prospect of fulfilment. He has glorified and distributed pure Vaikuntha-nam. By following the path of pure chanting with service-mood, gradually we can connect with the Lord’s figure and colour, His qualities, then His associates and paraphernalia, and then His Pastimes. We can be given the chance to enter there and be given some duty if we may be blessed by Him with some engagement. Srila Guru Maharaj is in front of us and is guiding us in this line. With firm faith, simply we are to follow the process that he is continually describing to us. With this real spiritual connection the path must take us to where we are welcome as a willing servitor. In the highest position all labour is a labour of love, and there is no weariness, indifference, or hate there. Srila Guru Maharaj has given such bright promise of that land, and that has drawn the fortunate souls throughout the whole world to his lotus feet.
The prospect is great, but no doubt these are difficult times for all the devotees now that Srila Guru Maharaj has disappeared from our immediate vision. It is a time of test, but Srila Guru Maharaj himself gave assurance that those who are victorious in standing by the ideal even after the disappearance of their Guru, will be glorified and successful in spiritual life.
Question: I received connection with Srila Guru Maharaj by rtvik initiation, but my rtvik Guru has now fallen down. Like others I feel badly deceived. I am writing to you directly seeking your advice and shelter. Can you please tell me whether my existing diksa initiation by that rtvik Guru is still valid under these circumstances? What should I do?
Srila Govinda Maharaj replied:
I am not aware of the exact circumstances of your own initiation, but I can clarify what is the situation for devotees who may have received connection to Srila Guru Maharaj through the rtvik process. That is, when a person holds a post as an officer in the government, he may himself be given duties to appoint others in certain ways and to make all types of arrangements. If he should leave or be ousted from that officer’s post, then naturally his authority as a government representative is also finished. However, whatever arrangements he had made and whoever he had appointed during the time of his holding office; all this will still stand and will be recognised by the government as before. But when that officer goes, then those that were being engaged by him may ask, “Now what is my duty?” For Srila Guru Maharaj’s devotees that duty is to serve his central Math and Deities, and this is what Srila Guru Maharaj advised to everyone after their taking initiation. Engage in this central service, chant ‘Hare Krishna’, and preach Srila Guru Maharaj’s conception, and if anyone will find any difficulty, then he will ask the chief secretary.
Question: What should we think when chanting japa?
Srila Govinda Maharaj replied:
I asked Srila Guru Maharaj what we should focus our attention on while chanting japa, whether on the Deity form of Krishna, or something else. His reply was that we are only to concentrate on avoiding the ten offences and four types of Namabhas. Everything is in the pure Name chanted under the guidance of Gurudev, so if we can chant purely, without offence, then everything will be revealed. We are not yogis, jnanis, tapasvis, and so on; we are active devotees aspiring after the pure ideal of our Srila Guru Maharaj.
Question: For two years now I have been intrigued by astrology. I am enclosing my birth chart and asking if you can give some advice?
Srila Govinda Maharaj replied:
Srila Guru Maharaj and Srila Prabhupad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur were both great jyotisis, knowers of astrology, but few people know that Srila Guru Maharaj was a great jyotisi. By the order of Srila Guru Maharaj I also studied astrology in order to get some understanding, but I am not practising that. I looked a little at your chart, but I do not know the Western type of astrology, only something of the Eastern system.
Although Srila Guru Maharaj knew astrology well, he did not practise it. Rather he gave enthusiasm for chanting, reading devotional books, service, and so on, and if we can unquestionably follow that line, it will be best for our future.
Question: My wife is not a devotee, and sometimes she gives opposition to my practising life. How can I overcome this problem? Also Srila Gurudev, I wish to ask some further questions: i) Can you tell me about my past lives, as I have been asked this by colleagues at work? ii) Is ‘Prabhu’ used only to address initiated disciples? And, iii) may we read Srimad Bhagavatam?
Srila Govinda Maharaj replied:
When Srila Swami Maharaj first started his Krishna consciousness movement in the West, in America, at that time he tolerated many things for the sake of the fallen souls. Even he could not take the food to which he was accustomed, but gradually everything came nicely under his control. In this way we must tolerate everything and know that if it is Krishna’s will, it will therefore come gradually to the set-right position. With the proper transcendental vision we can always and everywhere receive enthusiasm to do the seva of our Divine Master.
Regarding your first question, Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur in his Saranagati sang:
purva itihasa, bhulinu sakala
seva-sukha peye mane
ami ta’ tomara, tumi ta’ amara
ki kaja apara dhane
The meaning is that the Vaisnava does not care to remember or think about his past lives. He is fully engaged in joyful Krishna-seva through his Gurudev, and he is satisfied.
Secondly: ‘Prabhu’ is customarily only used as a title for initiated devotees.
Thirdly: we can read Srimad Bhagavatam, but cautiously and with the association of a qualified Vaisnava, otherwise we may go in the line of sahajiya (imitation). Some of the sections of Srimad Bhagavatam are very helpful for the devotees, but that also must be read within the association of the Vaisnavas. In Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta it is given:
yaha, bhagavata pada vaisnavera sthane
For the fallen souls of this age it is better to read the many scriptures of our Srila Guru Maharaj and to hear Srimad Bhagavatam from a qualified Vaisnava. In our fallen position Srimad Bhagavatam is always as worshippable as Sri Krishna. We are to pray to it in our heart as His manifestation.
Question: I have been involved with the Krishna consciousness movement for several years and have recently had the association of some disciples of Srila Sridhar Maharaj. They have described his teachings and mood, and their association has inspired me, again giving me hope in spiritual life. They have also chanted your glories, and I am writing to you for your mercy.
Srila Govinda Maharaj replied:
It is true that we are most fortunate to have come across the shelter of Srila Guru Maharaj and Srila Swami Maharaj, and the association of their devotees. Vaisnava-sanga is giving us the highest opportunity to serve Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Gandharva Govindasundar, as we can directly connect with them (the Vaisnavas). Like the telescopic system we must send our service through Guru-Vaisnava. Service is our life, and in the association of the Vaisnavas we must get everything. You please try to read the books of Srila Guru Maharaj, especially The Loving Search for the Lost Servant, Sermons of the Guardian of Devotion, Prapanna-jivanamrtam, and others. It is not only that we are to get inspiration, but we need to do something, and that is seva of Sri Guru–Vaisnava. From that door our super-fortune will come to take us into the ecstatic ocean of Nam-sankirtan.
Question: Here in the cultural environment of the West it seems necessary to make adjustments for time and place. Must we wear the dress of the traditional cloth of the Gaudiya–Vaisnavas—tilak, dhoti, and so on—to present the teachings of Mahaprabhu? Please offer me some advice on this matter.
Srila Govinda Maharaj replied:
Regarding your questions: for householders, what is a suitable dress for their duties, they may accept that. For their preaching, what is most suitable may be worn, but at least for arati, for the worshipping of the Deities, the dhoti, and so on, should be worn. The brahmacharis will more actively maintain the external garments. They are full-time representing the Mission and should be recognised as such, as far as possible. But for sannyasis they are to always wear the dress of sannyas. If it is absolutely necessary for them to wear shirt, pants, and so on, at any time, then under those garments their sannyas cloth will be worn. The only time for them not to wear their sannyas garments is in a grave life-or-death situation.
The thread must always be worn. The kanthi-mala (neck-beads) must also be worn but, if necessary, a single thread may be worn at the least. These general guidelines you can follow. We want to favourably present Srila Guru Maharaj, and what is suitable for that we will accept according to the circumstances.
In every sampradaya and every religion there must be some who will misrepresent the teachings or give a bad impression to the public, but that should not hamper our own mission. Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Prabhupad would always establish the super-excellence of the pure Gaudiya–Vaisnava conception, and he would march onwards strongly despite so much heavy opposition. In this way he established the dignity of this Mission.
Question: I am a householder, and I have one room which is reserved solely for worshipping the Lord and bhajan. My request is: what form should that worship take, and in what way can I improve my sadhana?
Sometimes I hear devotees criticising other devotees, and I feel I must run away and hide so as not to lose respect for them. But Srila Guru Maharaj mentions that our environment is always favourable. I see that the devotees are a part of that environment and should not be criticised. Is this correct?
Srila Govinda Maharaj replied:
There are nine kinds of sadhana-bhakti:
sravanam kirtanam visnoh smaranam pada-sevanam
archanam vandanam dasyam sakhyam atma-nivedanam
iti pumsarpita visnau bhaktis chen nava-laksana
kriyeta bhagavaty addha tan manye ’dhitam uttamam
Archan is one branch of sadhana-bhakti, but Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu described that really the path for the fallen souls of Kali-yuga is the congregational chanting of Hari-nam and also the independent chanting of the mahamantra. If the fully surrendered soul will try to maintain this practice, then that is enough for that jiva-soul, especially in this age.
harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha
And also in Srimad Bhagavatam:
kaler dosa-nidhe rajann asti hy eko mahan gunah
kirtanad eva krsnasya mukta-sangah param vrajet
In order to have more engagement the grhastha bhakta can practise other branches of bhakti, but chanting the Name without aparadha, called Suddha-nam, can give everything to us.
Practically a real devotee does not criticise anyone. Sometimes they may analyse others and learn from them, but not in the mood of criticism. Also it is practically to be noted that sat-sanga, real sadhu-sanga, is very rare in this world. When great personalities like Sripad Swami Maharaj and Srila Guru Maharaj will point out others’ practice of religion, then that is not criticism, but it is only for the benefit of their associates and followers that they are to beware of such things.
I am trying to answer your questions, but no doubt it may not be possible to cover everything in a letter. Anyhow, with the guidance of Srila Guru Maharaj given in his books, lectures, and so on, and with sincerity of purpose in following them, the proper adjustment to each circumstance will come. Srila Guru Maharaj himself always stressed that we are all students, not masters, so we are always learning how to serve and what is service. Our real wealth and fortune is that we have come across a true guide for our divine prospect.
Short Excerpts From Letters
by His Divine Grace
Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj
We must always guard our faith carefully. Faith is the foundation of our devotional life, and if it becomes injured or shaky, then the whole of our devotion is in a shaky position. Village talks can damage our faith, and Mahaprabhu instructed this to such an exalted person as Srila Raghunath Das Goswami. So we can understand the importance of this message for such as ourselves.
Not only our body, but our faith and devotional creeper must also be looked after. If our faith is once broken, it may not be possible to fully repair it again. Therefore if any black spot can be seen in another that may injure our own faith, then we must be careful to avoid that from afar. With great humility and respect for everyone we must try to always engage in topics and service connected with Krishna and Sri Guru.
The jnanis and yogis are going to much trouble, and with great austerities they are constantly rounding the universe searching for a hole in the cover in order to go out. But the devotees simply surrender to the Lord and His devotees and in that way accept His divine will and protection. They qualify to enter far beyond the plane of the material universes.
This mundane world is the very distrustful area of maya. The demoniac asura mentality has always given trouble to the devotees ever since the beginning of the conscious world, but the devotees are taking everything in the light of Krishna consciousness. They see that all is coming by the will of Krishna, and so their spiritual benefit is behind everything.
Bilvamangal was blind, but Krishna was playing with him by slapping his hand. When Bilvamangal tried to catch Him, Krishna hid Himself. Bilvamangal then told Krishna, “You can hide from me in this way, but You will have to be very powerful if You can leave from my heart.” So when we know that everything is within Krishna consciousness, then we have no problem.
Problems will always come, but the solving of those problems is activity for us. If there were no victory or defeat, then nobody would work, and everyone would stay like stone. We are always enthusiastic to get victory for our Srila Guru Maharaj’s satisfaction.
If we can understand what was so dear to Srila Guru Maharaj, especially his Deities, Math, devotees, and paraphernalia, then it is not possible to think that suddenly these things are no longer dear to him and so give them all up so easily. In this way we are trying to serve Srila Guru Maharaj’s desires here for his Mission.
What Srila Guru Maharaj gave, not everybody can understand, but still it is to be expressed. For example, many explanations have been given of the gayatri mantram by the Acharyas, but Srila Guru Maharaj broke the hard fort around that mantram and revealed the internal meaning. Already Srimad Bhagavatam has given the meaning of the gayatri, but that is in 18,000 slokas. I asked Srila Guru Maharaj, “The gayatri is a hidden treasure, but you are distributing that by including it in the English commentary of Srimad Bhagavad-gita. Even the big rsis did not do this.” However Srila Guru Maharaj said, “But somebody must give this meaning to the world, so who will give that if I do not? No one will believe them.”
In Kali-yuga sin committed in the mind is not counted, but Vaisnava-aparadha is different from sin. Vaisnava-aparadha penetrates to the atma and causes destruction of the devotional creeper. The essential point is that we will try to keep within the favourable association of the bhakta-sadhu and stay far away from the dangers of Vaisnava-aparadha.
We are not to be indifferent, but we are to be kind. Srila Sanatan Goswami asked Srila Rupa Goswami what, in a short way, is the essence of the instructions of Mahaprabhu. He replied, “jive doya, Name ruchi, Vaisnava-seva.” This is Vaisnava dharma: kindness to every jiva-soul, chanting Krishna’s names without offence, and service to the Vaisnavas.
Outer space is a foreign place for us, and it is only possible to survive there in a carefully protected space capsule. Similarly we are to lead spiritual life in this world in an environment carefully protected by devotion.
Yes, there is freedom with the jiva-soul. There is the freedom to spoil everything, but also with that freedom there is the opportunity to build our spiritual fortune.
Twenty-four hours a day service to the Lord is necessary, but the nearest Lord is Guru, Vaisnava, and Mahaprabhu. We are to fully surrender there, not only surrender and lie down, but surrender and serve. We are to surrender and serve with our full energy twenty-four hours a day, and then we must reach our transcendental destination very easily and without caring about anything.