por Shanti Devi Dasi,
... I never had the good fortune to personally see Bhaktivinoda Thakura, though I did have the opportunity to hear of his superhuman glories directly from Srila Prabhupada, both through his spoken word and his writings. On the other hand, it is far beyond my finite capacities to adequately describe all the wonderful things that I heard and witnessed of Srila Prabhupadas glories during my personal association with him.
Those who have deep love for their spiritual master in the most personal way, now, however, in his absence, they are overwhelmed by most painful feelings of separation. The pain bursts out from their heart and tears flow from their eyes and onto their chest like the torrents of rain in the month of Sravana. Their minds are disturbed by the desire, never to be again fulfilled, of hearing their Guru speak the nectarean topics of Krishna. They repeatedly sing the verses written by Narottama dasa Thakura in which he reveals the depth of his loss at being separated from the company of the great Vaishnavas.
je anila prema-dhana karuna pracura
hena prabhu kotha gela vaishnava thakura
My lord, the worshipable Vaishnava brought us the wealth of love for Krishna out of his unlimited compassion. Alas, where has he gone?
How can any attachment or hatred for material objects find a place in the heart where attachment to the guru, the eternal associate of Srimati Radharani, has awakened? In such a heart, there is constant awareness of the absolute necessity of attaining the supreme goal of life, loving service to Sri Krishna. This alone is the ultimate purpose of life for every single living entity. Srila Prabhupada himself said: The ultimate object of our desires is to become specks of dust at the lotus feet of the followers of Srila Rupa Gosvami. Remain united in following the asraya-vigraha in order to satisfy the transcendental senses of the one, non-dual Supreme Truth... May we never under any circumstances become indifferent to the seventongued sacrificial flame of the Holy Name. If our attraction to it remains ever-increasing, we will achieve all perfection.
We pray that our commitment to these last instructions of his manifest presence in this world may be unfailing. May we never interpret these words to elicit secondary meanings that allow us to engage in sense gratification, but rather, single-mindedly dedicating all our energies and working together, aim for the pleasure of the senses of the one, non-dual Supreme Truth, making it the one and only goal of our lives. If we wish to show our love and faith for our spiritual master, it will be by following these teachings. However, rather than giving full attention to the desires of the spiritual master, we may focus on serving his body or the extensions of his body represented by temples and asramas. If we do so, we will never be free of the pitfall of seeing the guru in purely human terms (martyasad-dhih). The Lord can only be seen through the path of transcendental sound (srutekshita-pathah) and the spiritual master, being his manifest representative, is also perceptible through divine sound vibration....
... Raghunatha dasa lamented the disappearance of Srila Rupa Gosvami with such intensity that stones could have melted. In Rupas absence, he felt the entire land of Vraja to be completely empty: Govardhana was like a great python, Radha-kunda the wide open mouth of a tiger, and he felt his own self to be void of life. Can we, ordinary mortals, imitate the eternal associates of the Lord in their feelings of separation?
Srila Narottama dasa Thakura also cried and prayed fervently to his diksha-guru Srila Lokanatha dasa Gosvami to attain the lotus feet of Sri Rupa Gosvami, who had actualised Sriman Mahaprabhus heartfelt desires on this earth. Narottama dasa sang that Sri Rupa was the worshipable object of his devotion, the treasure of his life, his jewelled ornament, the very source of his life, the perfectionof his desire, the ocean of ecstatic feeling, his Vedic religion, his vow, his penance, his prayer and his duty. Srila Rupa Gosvami was everything to Narottama dasa Thakura, and therefore he almost went mad out of his feelings of separation, crying day and night in the hope of receiving his mercy. If we could even feel a millionth part of what he did, our lives would be perfect; we would attain the greatest fortune. I do not know how many more lifetimes I will have to wait for this good fortune to be mine. Devotion to the spiritual master is the only way to reach our Divine Lord. The spiritual master is the personal companion of Lord Krishna or Sri Gauranga; he is most dear to Him. Srila Krishna dasa Kaviraja writes:
diksha-kale bhakta kare atma-samarpana
sei-kale krishna tare kare atma-sama
sei deha kare tara cid-ananda-maya
aprakrita-dehe tanra carana bhajaya
At the time of initiation, when a devotee surrenders to the spiritual master, Krishna makes him equal to Himself. He transforms the devotees body into spiritual substance; the devotee then worships the Lord in that spiritualized body. (CC Antya 4.192-193)
Krishna accepts us as a part of His own entourage to the extent that we surrender ourselves in body, mind and words to the spiritual master. He takes possession of us, transforms our bodies and makes them spiritual so that we will be able to serve Him directly. When asked how love for God develops, Prahlada Maharaja told the other boys in his school: guru-susrushaya bhaktya sarva-labdharpanena ca, through serving the guru, being devoted to him and by offering him all of ones gains. (SB 7.730) Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura comments on this verse as follows:
guroh susrushaya snapana-samvahanadikaya tatha
sarvesham labdhanam vastunam arpanena ca tac carpanam
bhaktyaiva, na tu pratishthadina hetuna
Service to the guru means serving him through such things as bathing and massaging him; offering the guru all of ones gains should be done with devotion and not out of personal motivations, such as the desire for personal prestige, etc.
In the Bhagavatam, after telling Yudhishthira how to conquer over various character defects, Narada summarizes by saying:
etat sarvam gurau bhaktya
purusho hy anjasa jayet
We can conquer over all these defects by rendering devotional service to the spiritual master. (SB 7.15.25)
In other words, the only way to conquer over lust, anger, greed, fear, lamentation, bewilderment, pride, envy, the three miseries and the three modes of material nature is by surrendering to the spiritual master. But if a disciple thinks the spiritual master to be nothing more than an ordinary mortal, then all his spiritual practices and worship of the Lord are simple a wasted effort. Therefore, in the following two verses from the Vishnusmriti quoted in the Hari-bhakti-vilasa, we are advised:
na guror apriyam kuryat
taditah pidito pi va
napriyam hi samacaret
Never do anything unpleasant to your spiritual master, even if you are humiliated and beaten. Never disregard his words, and never act in a way that is displeasing to him. (HBV 1.99, from Vishnu-smriti)
acaryasya priyam kuryat pranair api dhanair api karmana manasa vaca sa yati paramam gatim Do things that are pleasing to your spiritual master with your life and your wealth, with your work, your thoughts and your speech, and you will go to the supreme destination. (HBV 1.100, from Vishnu-smriti)
... If we take these instructions seriously and do everything we can to realize them, then we will one day become capable of giving the spiritual master the gift that he desires above all others. The spiritual master will be pleased and transmit unlimited power to the disciple with whom he is pleased. To the extent that we serve the spiritual master with sincerity and repeat his teachings, through the association with his words, our hearts will cry out with the desire for the good fortune to be associated with him by directly seeing, touching and serving him. Only then will we be able to understand the true spirit of separation.
We will then know that he is Radharanis personal associate who, in the form of Nayanamani Manjari has entered Radha and Govindas eternal pastimes and is there immersed in the ocean of service to the Divine Couple. When we feel this mood of separation, the desire to dedicate our lives for attaining this service will awaken. The spiritual master, who has given me the eyes to see the true purpose of life, is my master birth after birth. Cakshu-dana dila je, janme janme prabhu se. He is our lord and master lifetime after lifetime. We pray that he will be merciful and transform us, lowly creatures, by giving us the strength to put his message into practice and to preach that message, and then, when the time of death comes, he will take us back to his lotus feet, making us his own for eternity.
Being distanced from the spiritual master is a source of great pain. We pray that Srila Prabhupada will give us a place at his lotus feet even though we are the most unworthy servants of his servants, so that we may be able to render service to the Divine Couple according to his direction and by following his example. Our only authority to make such an audacious prayer is that we have taken the remnants of his servants food. We know that we have no right to make such a request of you, but to whom can we turn other than you, our spiritual master? By your grace, everything that would ordinarily be impossible becomes possible in a moment. Though today all our efforts are nothing but a joke, like those of a dwarf who tries to touch the moon, are your blessings not capable of effecting any miracle? Will they not give us a love for chanting the Holy Names without offense? Has Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura not sung of the power of the Holy Name to give us the realization of our eternal spiritual identity?
ishat vikasi punah dekhaya nija-rupa-guna
citta hari laya krishna pasa
purna vikasita hana vraje more jaya lana
dekhaya nija svarupa vilasa
When the Name is even slightly revealed, it shows me my own spiritual form and characteristics. It steals my mind and takes it to Krishnas side. When the Name is fully revealed, it takes me directly to Vraja, where it shows me my personal role in the eternal pastimes.
(Krishna-nama dhare kata bala? Saranagati)
Thus, by the blessing of the spiritual master, we will be able to receive the mercy of the Holy Name and then, all perfections will come through the Holy Name as Sriman Mahaprabhu Himself promised: iha haite sarva-siddhi haibe sabara.
Service to the guru in affection and love is possible both in this world and the next. The spiritual master is always participating in the eternally pure realm and is never under the thrall of birth and death in this world. One should never think of him as an ordinary mortal. By serving his teachings when he is no longer visible to our mundane eyes, we can get a vision of his transcendental form. Just like the Supreme Lord, the guru knows what is to be known, including all of us, but he is not known to anyone (sa vetti vedyam na ca tasyasti vetta). We cannot know him through our own power; it is only when he mercifully decides to reveal himself to us that we will achieve the great fortune of being able to see him. Therefore, the famous saying, guru-kripa hi kevalam (the spiritual masters blessings are our only salvation) is appropriate.
O Gurudeva, may my mind always repose in the shade of your lotus feet mama matir astam tava pada-kamale.
[Courtesy: Meditations on My Divine Master]