A class by His Divine Grace Bhakti Gaurava Narasingha Maharaja on the occasion of Srila Bhakti Pramoda Puri Maharaja's Avirbhava Mahotsava. (Govindaji Gardens, 10th October, 2002)
Today is the appearance of Srila Bhakti Pramoda Puri Gosvami Maharaja. This is only the second or third time we have been at Govindaji Gardens during this time of year, because usually every year we would be in Mayapura or in Jagannatha Puri at the Vyasa Puja of Srila Puri Maharaja. Now the Vyasa Puja of Srila Puri Maharaja is celebrated in many places around the world, but the main celebration observance is at Gopinatha Gaudiya Matha in Mayapura and at Dauji Temple in Vrndavana. Dauji means the older brother of Krsna, Lord Balarama. There is a very old Deity of Baladeva in that temple. Some of you have been to that place. It is a very nice temple of antiquity in Vrndavana. So today Bodhayana Maharaja and many disciples of Srila Puri Maharaja are gathered there for the Vyasa Puja.
Srila Puri Maharaja's appearance in this world was in 1898. Then his disappearance was 102 years later at the end of Karttika while he was residing at Jagannatha Puri. Jagannatha Puri is known as 'Vipralambha-dhama,' the place where the Lord and His devotees feel intense separation. Jagannatha Himself feels great separation for Vrndavana - that is why He looks the way He does. There is one story that Visvakarma came to carve the Deity of Jagannatha for King Indradyumna and there was an agreement between the shilpi and the king that he should not look at the work as it is going on. One special log appeared in the sea at that time and no one could carve it. The wood was so hard that anyone who attempted to carve that wood would break his chisel. So finally Visvakarma came in disguise from Svarga-loka and it was agreed that he would carve the Deities of Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra, but the king should not look. Everyday the king would hear the sound of carving, then one day he noticed that for many hours there was no sound. The king became very anxious thinking that something had gone amiss. He could not resist and he opened the doors. As soon as he opened the doors Visvakarma vanished and returned to the heavenly planets and the story goes that he left the work 'incomplete' - he had not completed carving the Deities. But Indradyumna accepted that everything was the arrangment of the Supreme and what had been carved there was accepted. Then the worship of Jagannatha began. This is one story how Jagannatha appeared in this form.
However, there is another incident that is the most original story as to how this shape of Jagannatha appeared. What is most prominent about Jagannatha? The eyes of Jagannatha are most prominent. Why are His eyes so big? Once in Dvaraka there was a conversation going on between some of the queens, who were discussing about Vrndavana and in particular the residents of Vrndavana. Dvaraka Krsna was in another room, but He heard the conversation about Vrndavana. "That is My old playground. All My old friends are there - My mother Yasoda, My father Nanda Maharaja, all my cowherd boyfriends and girlfriends. My Radharani is there in Vrndavana." Then Dvaraka Krsna fell into a love-sick mood and that mood was so deep it became a trance. When we see something very beautiful or wonderful our eyebrows go up and our eyes widen. So Krsna's eyes became big and His body became as hard as wood. He became very rigid and His arms protruded straight out and finally He fell on the ground. He was in a frozen condition and His eyes were huge. When He fell over He made a noise and from the next room Baladeva suddenly entered Krsna's quarters. He is also from Vrndavana and He saw the ecstatic condition of His brother immersed in vipralambha - separation from Vrndavana. Baladeva, by association of Krsna's samadhi, also entered that mood and He also fell over. At that time Subhadra, the sister of Krsna and Balarama also entered the room. She was caught in that Vrndavana mood and entered that trance and also fell unconscious. So there were three - Krsna, Subhadra and Baladeva, all lying there unconscious. Then everyone ran into the room and gradually they were able to revive Them one by one. That is how the original forms of Jagannatha, Subhadra and Baladeva first came into the world, due to feelings of separation from Vrndavana. They experienced this mood of vipralambha. One may also say 'vipralambha mahabhava' - this great feeling of separation of love for Krsna and Krsna's love for His devotees and Vrndavana.
Since that time till now, everybody and anybody worships Jagannatha. Even the Buddhists worshiped Jagannatha for centuries and referred to Him as Lord Buddha. India has been ruled over the centuries by different types of people - sometimes the gross materialists worship Jagannatha, the Buddhists worship Jagannatha, the Mayavadis worship Jagannatha. Ramanuja also worshipped Jagannatha. Everybody worships Jagannatha, but very few people understand the mood of Jagannatha. He is known as 'Jagan-natha' - the Lord of the universe, Isvara, Bhagavan etc. He holds sankha and cakra also. But what is His mood? When Mahaprabhu entered Puri for the first time and saw Lord Jagannatha, what happened? He also fainted and fell into the same ecstatic mood as Jagannatha. For the most part it seemed as if all the life had left His body. Of course, the life cannot leave Mahaprabhu's body because His life and His body are non-different. He is not a soul within a body. It is different for those who have spiritual bodies.
We are a soul within a body. The life can leave and this body becomes dead. But the life cannot go out of the body of Mahaprabhu because He has a transcendental body. There is no difference between a transcendental body and the atma. They are one and the same thing. There are no transcendental bodies in Mrtyu-loka. There is a body and a soul. The two are joined. But in the spiritual world, there is not a soul and a body - there is only the body of the soul. The soul has it's own body. Krsna also has His own body - this we discussed the other day. Who is the Paramatma of Krsna? Radharani is the Paramatma of Krsna and Krsna is the Paramatma of Radharani. That is another plane, another world, another circumstance. However, to the mortal eye, it seemes that the life of Mahaprabhu had left Him and He became very stiff. When He would fall into His trances, His body also would become hard like stone or wood. His breathing would also stop. So when He saw Jagannatha, He also entered into that deep mood of separation from Vrndavana. Jagannatha Puri is called Vipralambha-dhama because the Lord Himself, seated there as Jagannatha is in the mood of separation from Vrndavana.
Yearly the Ratha-yatra festival is held and everybody sees it on TV, but the purport of that festival is not knowable to the common people nor to the TV narrator. Neither is it proper for any person to come on television and try to inform the masses what is the real play of Jagannatha on this day. For most people it appears to be a big fun festival with many crowds and excitement. For the most part that is what it is for the common people. But for the followers of Mahaprabhu, the festival of Jagannatha has a special meaning. That meaning is that Lord Jagannatha is returning to Vrndavana. The Gopis and others who met Him at Kuruksetra, by their affection and attatchment, are drawing Krsna back to Vrndavana. He is seated on His chariot in a trance, going to Vrndavana. The chariot goes to a temple called Gundica. Gundica is Vrndavana in Jagannatha Puri. So it is Vipralambha-dhama and the Lord is there is a mood of vipralambha.
Puri was the base of activities for Mahaprabhu for twenty-four years and for six of those years He moved in and out of Jagannatha Puri. This included coming to South India and Vrndavana and also preaching in Benares along the way. Six years he spent residing in Puri performing sankirtana-lila with His devotees. Daily He performed sankirtana pastimes and observed different festivals celebrated for the Deities there with His devotees. He observed Ratha-yatra, the boat-festival and He and the devotees would also perform dramas sometimes. In this way He was very much amongst the people for six years. Six years travelling outside of Puri and six years in Puri very much among the people and His devotees. Then came the last portion of His pastimes. These last twelve years are known as His vipralambha-lila and He entered into a 'guha' - a cave of these feelings of separation from Krsna. These feelings were manifest in Him both day and night non-stop for twelve years continuously. During that time Mahaprabhu was more or less distant from the people. He was not seen very much in public, and when He was seen it was a very amazing thing. Why? Because the public could not understand what was the deep mood of Mahaprabhu.
He would stay in His room and chant all night. His room had no windows and only one door and the walls were made of thick stone. Sometimes it would become quiet and when it did, his servants would open the door to see if He was resting or if He was alright. But sometimes when they opened the door He was not there. He would vanish - walk right through the walls. He would walk out into the town of Puri in the middle of the night and sometimes they would find Him at the Simhadvara gate at the Jagannatha temple. Sometimes He would be laying in a cowshed. They would find Him in some unconscious condition and on this particular evening the devotees searched for Him for hours but could not find Him.
During this time Mahaprabhu had fallen into the ocean. The ocean in Puri has a very strong current. If you jump in the water at one place, within ten minutes you will find yourself 15-20 meters down the beach. It pulls you to the left. Now down on the coast the fishermen fish at night - they take their boats with a small light and they go out and fish. While the devotees were searching for Mahaprabhu, suddenly one fisherman came running up the beach in a state of madness shouting, "Hari! Hari!" He was running this way and that way, up and down and incoherently shouting "Hari! hari!" To most people it seemed that this was a fisherman who had gone mad, but Svarupa-damodara recognised that this man was exhibiting the symptoms of bhava and prema. He was ecstatically chanting the Holy Name of Krsna. He approached him and calmed him down and asked, "Have you seen Mahaprabhu?"
"No, no - I saw a ghost! I have touched a ghost and it jumped inside me. A ghost has got me! Hari! Hari!"
Svarupa-damodara said, "No, no. That is not possible. If a ghost possesses a man, he cannot chant 'Hari, Hari', because if a man shouts 'Hari', the ghost will leave. A ghost cannot remain where the Name of Bhagavan is present. No, you have seen Mahaprabhu."
"No, I know what Mahaprabhu looks like - very tall and very beautiful, fair features - we all know what He looks like. But this thing I touched was something different. It was a ghost for sure. It was about twelve feet long."
But Svarupa-damodara was convinced that he had found Mahaprabhu.
"No, I caught this dead body in my net. It was twelve feet long and when I touched it, a ghost grabbed me."
So they told him, "Take us to where that place is," and he took them to where he had beached his boat and his net was there. Mahaprabhu was in the net and His body was stretched to twelve feet long. His normal height was a little over two meters, but at that time it was nearly four meters in length. No ordinary person can understand the depth of the Lord's feelings of love. Seeing that, an ordinary fisherman thought he had become inhabited by a ghost. He had the experience of Mahaprabhu and by simply touching Him he was swooped into that mood of ecstatic love. So, from the very beginning we see that when Krsna Himself remembers His devotees in Vrndavana, He enters that mood. And when Balarama sees Him, He also enters that mood. When Subhadra sees them, she also enters that mood. Mahaprabhu comes to Puri, He sees Jagannatha - He also enters that mood.
The fisherman followed no regulative principles and was probably not even a member of the three higher castes - he was maybe not even a sudra. Along the coast of India there are many different types of people that don't even come from India. You can find Somalian people down there, African people - so many people on the coast because across the ocean is Africa. So much mixing goes on in these places that these people do not belong to any varna. This fisherman was probably an outcaste and probably wasn't even allowed in the Jagannatha temple because of his occupation. But he came in direct contact with Mahaprabhu which is a very rare thing. He began to experience love of God and ecstatically he was chanting the Holy Name. The experience was such that he himself could not understand what was happening to him. In his own simple thinking he thought that he had become captured by a ghost. But he became a recipient of love of God because he came in contact with those who are the abode of love of God.
Since those days until now, many great devotees prefer Jagannatha Puri above all places for their bhajana. Three places are significant for Gaudiya Vaisnavas - Vrndavana, Mayapura and Jagannatha Puri. Of course, we find our acaryas and great devotees living in all three of these places at different times. But Jagannatha Puri has its profound significance in relation to vipralambha. Many of our devotees have chosen to live there and perform their bhajana, particularly Bhaktivinoda Thakura who performed his bhajana there for many years. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura was born there in Jagannatha Puri and also performed vipralambha-bhajana in Puri during the last years of his life. Srila Puri Maharaja chose to remain in that place during the last years of his mortal life. The last years of our life in this world are the beginning years of our life in eternity. That which is the end is not the end - it is the beginning. In this world are we even alive? Some may say that, "Of course we are alive." Then why is this place called Mrtyu-loka, the place of death? Maybe we are not even alive yet. That is some extreme thinking.
He reasons ill who tells that Vaisnavas die
When thou art living still in sound.
The Vaisnavas die to live, and living try
To spread a holy life around.
The Vaisnavas die to live. Real life is on the other side. This so-called life is really a process of death, that is all. It is a slow process which may take one year, fifty years or one-hundred and fifty years, but this so-called life is simply the process of janma, mrtyu, jara, vyadhi - birth, death, old age and disease. There are six transformations within the body - first birth, then growth, then duration, then reproduction, then dwindling, then death. We are caught in this process. Life is not here, it is transitory. You see a photo of yourself as a baby - you look nothing like the day you were born. Only perhaps in the eyes there is some glimmer of the soul. They say that the soul is seen through the window of the eyes. Change, change, change, change - you see so many pictures of yourself, friends and others - change, change, change. Even sometimes you can't recognise - change, change, change, change - always changing. Scientifically it is said that every atom in your body changes every seven years. So when you are seven, by the time you are fourteen there is no part of you that was there before. It is all gone. You are new body and it just keeps changing.
This is not the world of life. This is called Mrtyu-loka - this is the world of death. Vaikuntha means the plane where there is only life and there is no death. Everything lives there and life is eternal - the atma is eternal. The only thing living here is the atma. As soon as the atma leaves this body is dead. You have heard me ask many times, "Where is the atma in the coconut tree?" It's in the top of the tree, not in the bottom. In the mango tree the atma is in the root. There is one particular root that if you cut it, the whole tree dies. You can cut all the roots of a coconut tree and it will come back. But there is a piece of the coconut tree at the top - if it cracks or if a particular big black bug even bites it, it's gone! Everything has an atma. As soon as the atma finds the living condition in the body unfavorable, it goes and that body becomes a dead body. Nothing is living here except the atma and the atma is simply running from one body to the next, to the next, to the next until it reaches Vaikuntha. Then it lives forever. It is eternal. Life is eternal, but life is not eternal in Mrtyu-loka.
So many devotees have chosen Jagannatha Puri as their preferred place in their last days - many great acaryas. So today is the day of Srila Puri Maharaja's appearance in the world. We have written an offering which is going in the Vyasa Puja book. So I will read that offering:
"The appearance and disappearance of Sri Guru may be compared to the rising and setting of the sun. When Sri Guru appears, he gives us the hope of attaining the lotus feet of Krsna in pure devotional service, and when he disappears from our mortal vision he takes away all our material attachments.
From the moment of the disappearance of Sri Guru, the bona-fide disciple has no hope or desire to maintain his attachments to material life. In such a state of utter hopelessness the bona fide disciple takes the deepest shelter of the lotus feet of Sri Guru.
sri-guru-gauanga mano'bhista sthapibare
sisyera hrdaye arti jage tivrakare
bhasane lekhani-mukhe tahai prakasi
karye han tat-para alasya vinasi
"Separation calls into the disciple's heart a deep anxiety to fulfill the desires of Sri Guru and Gauranga. As I speak about this in my speeches and writings, I become inspired to overcome my lethargy and dedicate myself fully to that purpose."
Sri Guru is the dearmost servant of Krsna, the dearmost servant of Srimati Radharani, the dearmost servant of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and the dearmost servant of the followers of Sri Rupa and Raghunatha. Thus the bona fide disciple desires only the shelter of the dust of the lotus feet of Sri Guru.
sri-rupera pada-dhuli janaha svarupa
sei se sarvasva tahe na hao virupa
"Know that your true identity is to be a speck of dust at the lotus feet of Sri Rupa. Don't go against this identity, which is your greatest treasure."
The bona fide disciple must make the order of Sri Guru his life and soul. For without following the order of Sri Guru one cannot make progress on the path back to Godhead. If the bona fide disciple pleases Sri Guru by following his instructions he easily achieves the supreme destination.
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."
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."
Remembering the following words of Srila Narottama Dasa Thakura, a bona-fide disciple serves Sri Guru, always keeping his instructions within his heart.
guru-mukha-padma-vakya cittete kariya aikya
ara na kariha mane asa
sri guru carane rati, ei se uttama gati
je prasade pure sarva asa
Fix your mind on the words emanating from the lotus mouth of the spiritual master. Place your hopes in nothing else. Affection for the guru's lotus feet is the ultimate goal, for by his mercy all of one's aspirations are realized. The Upanisads have spoken thus:
yasya deve para bhaktir
yatha deve tatha gurau
tasyaite kathita hy arthah
Only unto those great souls who have implicit faith in both the Lord and the spiritual master, who is His manifestation and not different from Him, are all the imports of Vedic knowledge automatically revealed. (SU 6.23)
On this most holy occasion of Sri Vyasa-puja of Om Visnupada Paramahamsa Parivrajakacarya Sri Srimad Bhakti Pramoda Puri Gosvami Maharaja, we remember with great affection how his appearance gave, to the multitude of fallen souls, the hope to one day serve the lotus feet of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna in pure devotion. And with great pain in our heart we also remember his humble departure from the scope of our mortal eyes. Now when darkness has seized the world and caused a flood of ignorance to emerge, we remember his affectionate instructions never to deviate from the shelter of the Holy Name of Krsna. With this humble prayer I prostrate myself at his lotus feet and pray that he will remove all my many impediments on the path of pure devotional service.
apayayan mam anabhipsum andham
bhakti-pramodah puri-namni khyatah
krpambudhir yas tam aham prapadye
I offer my most respectful obeisances to His Divine Grace Sri Srimad Bhakti Promoda Puri Gosvami Maharaja, the dearest servant of Sri Sri Radha-Gopinatha and Sri Sri Gaura-Gadadhara, who out of His causeless mercy has forced me to drink the nectar of pure devotional service, filled with knowledge and renunciation, although I am unqualified and unwilling to do it."
The great wealth that becomes the inheritance of the servants of the maha-bhagavatas is their qualities, not anything mundane of this world. Yesterday we were in Melkote and I mentioned to Sridhara Swami who was there, that generally people worship Yoga-Narasingha in order to get material benefits and liberation. That is why He is so popular. There are many nice temples and Deities of Narasingha. Some are very old - the one in Melkote can be traced back to Prahlada. Prahlada is a maha-bhagavata, not only a maha-bhagavata but amongst the maha-bhagavatas he is a mahajana, one of the twelve exalted personalities who know the true purport of the scriptures and the process of devotion. It is very rare to know these things in their entirety.
Prahlada is one such personality and he is said to have initially installed that Deity. But whether any pure devotee of Krsna worshipped that Deity between then and now is a question. Of course, Ramanuja did at a time, but generally people are worshipping the Supreme Lord for some material benefit and lastly liberation. Liberation is itself a material benefit. Lord Narasinghadeva offered liberation to Prahlada, but Prahlada rejected it. Lord Narasingha insisted and offered liberation three times to Prahlada and each time he rejected it. Liberation and material benefits are not the wealth of worshipping the Supreme Lord. This is not the great fortune that will come to you if you are engaged in the service of the Vaisnavas and the great devotees. If you are looking for such things then you are simply walking down a dark, dark tunnel to nowhere.
The real benefit of serving and glorifying the great souls is that we will imbibe some of their qualities. Actually we will feel very blessed if we can imbibe even a fraction of their qualities. Even a fraction of their love for Krsna - if we can imbibe that then we will feel ourselves to be the most fortunate souls in this universe. Once somene asked me in a challenging way, "Have you experienced love of God?"
I said, "Yes."
They responded sarcastically, "Really? You are such a person?"
"Yes, why not? You see, I am not the source of that love, but when I came in connection with my guru, and in connection with certain great liberated souls who were absorbed in love of Krsna, and entering the room where they were and being with them at some select moment then that great nectar simply splashed out."
Just as when you are near a waterfall, you may also get splashes from that. So coming into their association we may have some experience of what they are experiencing in some small way. Then the secret is that if we offer ourselves as servants to their lotus feet, then it is guarranteed that we shall enter into that experience.
Nowadays, at least in some places, there is only one pure devotee - and that is Prabhupada. It is so extreme that no one else could even dream of becoming a pure devotee. But if that is the case then we all may as well pack our bags and go home because that is why we come to Krsna consciousness in the first place. Not to become the guru but to become a pure devotee of Krsna, because the non-pure devotee of Krsna is suffering in this material world and we want to end the suffering in this material world. We are tired of roaming around in various species of life in this world. We are even tired in this human form of life. There are so many disappointments. We are tired of these things and we desire a good life of serving Krsna and all those things associated with Krsna consciousness. That means, in a word, that we want to become pure devotees of Krsna.
If we will take up the service of those great souls then we have a very good chance of becoming a pure devotee of Krsna. One cannot become a pure devotee of Krsna without serving a pure devotee of Krsna. There are some cases when great souls appear in this world, but even then we find that they are serving their gurus. Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Srila Sarasvati Thakura have been accepted by great personalities to have descended, not raised on the ascending process. They came to this world from the spiritual sky, from the lila of Krsna. They were not people of this world who by many lifetimes of pious activities and sukrti, finally contacted some preaching and gradually, gradually went upwards. They are taken as coming from the spiritual world to come here with a message.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja once said that he had heard there were many siddha-mahatmas in Vrndavana and he went around to see a few of them. Many people were saying that they were siddha-mahatmas, perfected souls. In most cases he was sorely disappointed, but there were one or two and he mentioned in particular one Ramakrsna Dasa Babaji. This person was very impressive. Srila Sridhara Maharaja listened and watched him for some time and he said that, "I realised that this person was giving his very best to the rules and regulations that govern the devotional world. He was practising them to the utmost of his ability and trying to reach up to that spiritual platform and he was of course significantly elevated.
But at the same time I realised that my Guru Maharaja had stepped off that platform down to this world and he carried a message for the benefit of all living entities." There is a difference. Sometimes in a prison the governor enters the prison from the free world by his own choice. He goes inside the prison to reform them. Inside the prison there are some prisoners who are reforming, following the rules and the program for improvement because they want to get out of the prison. Other prisoners are commiting more crimes within the prison. But this person from outside enters to reform them. A foolish prisoner may think, "He is in the prison just like me, " but actually he is not under the laws of the prison and at a chosen time he returns to his own place beyond the prison walls. So Srila Sridhara Maharaja expressed his realisation how his Guru Maharaja had come down with the message of Mahaprabhu to benedict the fallen souls of this world.
It is a particular situation. Nobody looks at their guru as a conditioned soul. If you look at your guru as a conditioned soul then either you do not actually have a guru or you are making an offense. You cannot see your guru as a conditioned soul. Either he came down from that place to do this work, or he came up to that place to do this work. It is difficult to say but sometimes we have that information. For the most part most of the followers of Mahaprabhu come up from this platform to do this work for Mahaprabhu and will be taken by their guru's grace back to home, back to Godhead. Anyone who takes up this service of Mahaprabhu and the service of His devotees is guarranteed the same thing. We speak of Srila Prabhupada as having come from the spiritual sky but nobody knows where he came from, whereas we know the name of Bhaktivinoda Thakura in the eternal lila. He is Kamala-manjari and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta is Nayanamani-manjari. But after that we don't know. We feel that they have come from there - Srila Prabhupada, Srila Sridhara Maharaja, Srila Puri Maharaja - we feel that. But who they are there, it is not known.
By serving our guru, by serving the Vaisnavas, by serving these great souls we will then enter into the realm of pure devotional service. Then we will find that the qualities that attracted us to them will be imbibed by us also. Without imbibing those qualities we have not been successful in Krsna consciousness. Therefore it is said that, in time, one should see how much we are improving our qualities. There are twenty-six qualities of a pure devotee listed in Caitanya-caritamrta. We should look to see from time to time if we ourselves are developing any of these qualities. If we find that we are not, then we should try to increase our earnestness and sincerity within our heart.
We must be clear in our purpose why we have come here. What is our purpose? Nothing to be gained. We have come here to give. We have come here only to give ourselves and serve Krsna and Krsna's devotees, not to gain anything. We take it that whatever is given to us is their mercy. There is a saying, 'Nothing risked - nothing gained.' We have another saying, 'Everything risked - nothing gained!' We are not for risk and then we will gain. We are for risk and no gain. We should not seek the praise of others. We should try to learn to give elegant praise to others. We should not try to be recognised for our service, but we should try to learn to recognise others in their service. We should not feel that we are the best devotee of Krsna, we should feel that we can only serve Krsna with the help of others. If Krsna's devotees were put in a line, we would be lucky to be on the list. We would only be listed amongst Krsna's devotees by their mercy.
In the material world everybody wants to raise their head, be proud. Everybody wants to be number one. Everybody wants to be praised. For a devotee it is the opposite. He is very happy to praise other devotees and praise their service. But he is not eager for his own praises. There was one politician who came here once and the devotees introduced me, "This is our Guru Maharaja." That man folded his hand and I told him that, "Actually I am the servant of all the devotees here. If I am the guru then that means I am the servant of all the devotees here." That man comes from Hindu society and he had never heard anything like that. He was very impressed by that. He has met many gurus of all types and generally those gurus will give some type of blessing. When he was told by me that "I am the servant of all the devotees here" and he got some impression.
So the real standard of spiritual life is not available everywhere. What is the standard look of a guru? A big sikha, a big japa-mala, a beard, long hair, rudraksa? Most people in India have the image of a guru based on Bollywood. One of our devotee's mother told him, "No, all these gurus are bad. You have seen the movies!" She actually made her reference to movies. The image of the guru in Indian movies is that he is either a crook or a fool. In the western culture he is a fool. Any time they make a film on the life of a saint, he acts like an idiot. That is because the common people do not know what a saint is. He is neither a fool nor an idiot. He knows the science of Krsna and he is the abode of all good qualities. He is always absorbed in service of Krsna and the Vaisnavas and he does not do any of these things for material benefits.
If we want that standard of purity we must serve those great souls and glorify them. By association, then gradually we will become purified and these qualities which we find in them are actually intrinsic to the soul. The soul has a birthright of these qualities, but in association with the material world the soul can never know it's true self. It can never come to it's true existence. But only in association with liberated souls, then the soul can come to it's own true existence where the soul itself is the abode of all good qualities and is always absorbed in the service of Krsna and absorbed in the mellows of love of Krsna.
Many of us were very fortunate to have the direct association of Srila Puri Maharaja at different times. Even some of our children here got his association - a little vani and mostly vapuh. Our Kunjavihari got the chance to touch Srila Puri Maharaja's lotus feet. That is called vapuh. vapuh-seva. The other side is vani. When the vapuh is no longer present, then the vani is there. Vani means instruction. We must live by the vani, even during the living presence of our guru. Historically speaking, most devotees don't get to spend so much time with their guru. Here, I am living with all of you and you have spent hundreds and hundreds of hours with me. Most of Srila Prabhupada's disciples never got the chance to talk to him. Many of Srila Sridhara Maharaja's disciples never got the chance to talk to him. Some of them lived with him for many years.
But one thing in common which is shared by both those who have had a lot of association and service of their guru, and those who haven't. The common thing is that all have service, either close or at a distance. All must be engaged in service. In both categories both must take the order and teachings of their guru as their life and soul - that vani. One may not have personal service, but if he follows the vani he will be successful. If one does not follow the vani but yet has personal service, he may be classified as a fly. A fly is very physically close to the guru, but he is just an irritation. Of the two, the vani is most important - learning the teachings and following the order. If we have the chance to serve our guru personally in some way we should do so.
I always like to remember the service that I had for Srila Prabhupada on different occasions, or a little service for Srila Sridhara Maharaja on even less occasions, or some service for Srila Puri Maharaja. But that which is most important is their instruction. And their instructions come to us in two ways - one by their words and the other by their example. We try to draw from both of these things. This is the life, this is the strength to go on in this material world living a spiritual life and not succumb to the plane of maya.
So Srila Puri Maharaja lived for 102 years and his mission was one of the smallest ones. This was amazing. At the time, his temple in Mayapura was smaller than this one. When we first met Srila Puri Maharaja, the Deities were in a room half the size of our office. There were eight rooms in the building and the Deities were on the top. Later some temple was built. The building was as wide as this hall and it was two storeys. That's all it was. Yet people from big institutions such as ISKCON, Sridhara Swami who came here recently - he received Nrsingha mantra from Srila Puri Maharaja some years ago - big gurus in ISKCON, Giri Maharaja when he was still a student in the gurukula used to come with sannyasis to see Srila Puri Maharaja, big acaryas of the Gaudiya Matha - Madhava Maharaja's successor Ballabha Tirtha Maharaja with thousands of disciples - many, many people would come for the darsana of Srila Puri Maharaja. But his Deity room and his own room were very, very small. These were all very intelligent people. The average people would walk past Srila Puri Maharaja's matha and go to ISKCON or some other Gaudiya Matha because it was big. It has a big gate with lights so they would go there. Thousands of people every day would walk right past Srila Puri Maharaja.
But many intelligent devotees - some of whom who where the heads of those big temples and institutions with many success stories in their Krsna conscious lives - they had the intelligence and the good fortune to come and take the inspiring darsana of Srila Puri Maharaja. Both by his example and by his teachings he was a beacon, a very great source of inspiration to all types and all classes of devotees at all stages. Although he had so many exalted qualities, two things stand out the most. I heard many times a reference to Srila Puri Maharaja as a 'nama-acarya.' His attachement to the Holy Name and his mood of chanting the Holy Name was exemplary even for those who are themselves great personalities in Krsna consciousness.
And his humility was outstanding to the point that he was referred to by many people as the murti of 'trnad api sunicena'. That is Mahaprabhu's instructions to His devotees to be humble and more tolerant than a tree, humble like a blade of grass, not desiring any respect for yourself but giving all your respect to others. Srila Puri Maharaja was not just on occasion humble. He was humility personified. Humility was always in the forefront of all his dealings with the devotees. So these two things - he was glorified as a nama-acarya, an example of chanting the Holy Name and his humility. If a person has these two outstanding qualities without even knowing what other good qualities are, then rest assured, all good qualities that exist are with such a person. A person with all humility who takes complete shelter of the Holy Name of Krsna is a veritable ocean of goodness and all good qualities.
Srila Bhakti Pramoda Puri Gosvami Maharaja Ki Jaya!