The original spiritual master is Nityananda Prabhu. He is the general representation of guru. In the spiritual world, he is the guru-tattva principle in the four primary mellows of devotion, excluding the conjugal mellow. In madhurya-rasa, Baladeva's representation is Ananga Manjari, the sister of Radharani.
The position of Nityananda is greater than that of Baladeva. Why? He is distributing prema, divine love. And what is prema ? It is higher than all other achievements. If one can give divine love, then all others must be subordinate to him. If Krsna is subordinate to Mahaprabhu, then of course, Balarama is subordinate to Nityananda. They are similar, but when magnanimity is added, Balarama becomes Nityananda. That Balarama who can distribute divine love, who can perforrn that higher function has come here as Nityananda. Our foundation must be solid and proper. Then the structure should be erected. Otherwise the whole thing will go down (heno nitai vine bhai radha krsna paite nai ) . We can get a solid foundation from Nityananda Prabhu.
One day Nityananda Prabhu came to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's house in Mayapura. Mahaprabhu's mother, Saci devi, and Visnupriya devi, his wife, were also there, as well as other devotees. Suddenly, Nityananda arrived, quite naked.
Mahaprabhu managed to give him some cloth. And perhaps He was concerned that the devotees might have some misconception about Nityananda Prabhu. So, to prevent this he asked Nityananda Prabhu for his kaupina, his loincloth. He tore it up and distributed it amongst the householders that were present, instructing them, "Keep a piece of his loincloth, as a kavaca, an amulet, and tie that with a thread to your arm or wear it around your neck. Please keep it with you. Then you will be able to achieve sense control very soon."
Nityananda Prabhu has control of his senses to the extreme degree; he does not know anything of this world. His vairagya, indifference to the world of mundane transaction, is of such a degree that he can appear naked amongst both male and female. So, the grace of Nityananda Prabhu will construct a firm foundation for us. If there is a firm foundation, then we may build a great structure over it. If we have faith in Nityananda, then that faith can bear any amount of weight. It won't betray us.
So, Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has laid stress amongst the Westerners on devotion to Nityananda. First, we must get His mercy. And then, afterwards, we can get the mercy of Radha-Krsna. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu means Radha-Krsna (sri krsna caitanya radha-krsna nahe anya ). First achieve the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu, and then Gauranga Mahaprabhu, and then Sri Radha Govinda. In these three stages, we must raise ourselves up.
Devotee: How does one attain the mercy of Lord Nityananda?
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: One who finds more inclination to serve
Gauranga and his dhama, his transcendental land, and his servants
can get the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu. Nityananda is very much kind to
one who has some special tendency towards Gaura lila.
"Take the Name of Gauranga"
Nityananda Prabhu walked from door to door in Bengal, saying, "Take the name of Gauranga! I'll become your servant. You can purchase me if you only take the name of Gauranga. I'll be sold to you without any price or condition." That was his temperament. When Mahaprabhu was in Puri, he sent Nityananda Prabhu to Bengal. At that time, he said, "Without you I don't find anyone who can spread the holy name of Krsna, or devotional service to Krsna, in Bengal. They are more engaged in the tantric method and the smrti. They make too much of these trifling things. They are puffed up, thinking that they have finished all knowledge. So, Bengal is a very hard field for preaching. Without you, no one will be able to awaken the masses. Separate yourself from the higher castes and approach the masses with the holy name of Krsna. You are the fittest person for this work."
Nityananda Prabhu went to Bengal, but without trying to preach the glories of the holy name of Krsna, Nityananda began to preach the name of Gauranga. Nityananda Prabhu found that there is some danger of thinking that Krsna's pastimes are very much akin to the mundane debauchery, lying, and stealing of a degraded soul. Krsna's pastimes are of a highly confidential nature. It is very difficult for the masses to understand the purity of krsna-lila. The mass mind cannot accept krsna-lila as the highest attainment. So, Nityananda Prabhu found it would be difficult to preach krsna-li1a, but he found it would be easy to preach gaura-lila, where Krsna has come to distribute himself to the public with so much capital in his mind. Gauranga means a dynamo which wants to distribute Krsna, surchared with the most magnanimous, intensified, pity and kindness for the ordinary people, with the greatest affection even for the criminals. Nityananda Prabhu wanted to bring them in connection with Gauranga, for then krsna-lila would automatically be within their fist. So, he began to preach about Gauranga, not Radha-Krsna, as commanded by Mahaprabhu. So, Nityananda Prabhu says, bhaja gauranga kaha gauranga, laha gauranga nama, "Worship Gauranga, speak only of Gauranga, and chant the name of Gauranga."
There is another instance of the relationship between Krsna and Balarama and Gauranga and Nityananda, which is described in the Caitanya-bhagavata. Saci devi had a dream that Krsna and Balarama were sitting on a throne, and Nityananda was fighting with Balarama, "Come down from the throne. It is no longer Dvapara-yuga. The age of Kali has come and my master Gauranga must occupy your position on this throne. You come down!" Balaram began giving some opposition. "No, no, why should we come down? We have been sitting on this throne for such a long time." Nityananda Prabhu began forcibly taking him down, and Balarama submitted slightly. Nityananda Prabhu said, "My master Gauranga wants to take the position now. The age for him has come." So Nityananda is very partial to Gauranga. He says, "Krsna is far off. My Lord is Gauranga. "
So, we must be very grateful to Nityananda Prabhu, for he is our guru. And guru's grace is so important that Raghunatha Dasa Goswaml says, "Radharani, I want your grace. Without you, I don't want Krsna separately. I never want Krsna without you." That should be the healthy attitude of a devote. This has been explained by
Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, in his Gurvastakam :
yasyaprasadan na gatih kuto 'pi
dhyayan stuvams tasya yasas tri sandhyam
vande guroh sri-caranaravindam
" I bow down to the lotus feet of sri gurudeva. By his grace, we achieve the grace of Krsna; without his grace, we are lost. Therefore, we should always meditate on sri gurudeva, and pray for his mercy."
This is the position of sri guru, by whose grace we can get everything,
we can get the grace of Krsna, and without whose grace, we have no other
prospect. So, in this way, we must have reverence for he who has given
us our first connection with Krsna consciousness.
Guru Is Not a Doll
But at the same time we offer reverence to gurudeva, we must not conceive that the, guru is a doll, a lifeless figure. Because we are familiar with a particular figure and accept that as our guru we should not become misled. The important thing is what he says, his instructions. That is attracting our inner hearts. I am not this body. I am the inquirer. That thing which is satisfying me, drawing the inquirer to the inquired--I must try to locate that thing in him. I must not rely on material calculation. I am not this body. Who am I, the disciple? Am I only this body, this figure, this color, this caste? Or am I this temperament, this scholarship and intellectualism? No. I am he who has come to seek. Who is the party within me, and who is the party in guru? We must be fully awake to that. What is the inner thing? I have come for that. We must be awake to our own interest.
There is the relative principle and the absolute principle. We shall
have to eliminate the form, ignore the form; we shall always have to keep
the spirit. Otherwise, we become form worshipers, idol worshipers.
Guru: More than Meets the Eye
It is said, of course, that the connection with the spiritual master is eternal (caksudana dilo yei, janme janme prabhu sei ). But we must not identify our guru with the appearance we perceive with our physical senses. Our inner identification of him will be clarified according to the growth of our vision. When our vision increases and takes shape from material to transcendental, his look will also change accordingly.
A man is sometimes known most externally, by his uniform, and then by his body, then by his mind, then by his intelligence. As much as our eye will develop to see things rightly, what we are seeing will also change its face. Krsna says, acaryam mam vijaniyan, "Ultimately it is I who am the acarya. " It is the function of divinity, and in different stages there may be different forms. Different acaryas may work at the same time. The knowledge, the ideal, is growing from subtle to gross. And the depth of the vision of the eye will disclose the different figures of the different acaryas. It will go in different rasas to the highest position, by a gradual process of realization. Otherwise our knowledge will be based on the material conception. And to force the material conception onto divinity is a crime, it is ignorance, it is erroneous.
We have to free ourselves from the snare of identifying reality with the physical form presented to our senses. The eyes deceive us; they cannot give us the proper form or color. The ears cannot give us the proper sound. The concrete reality is beyond the experience of our senses. So, then what is that thing? Because we are in such a low position, we can gradually go there to the inner world only with the help of our guru.
But how can we recognize our guru? Sometimes in the winter he wears a particular dress, and in the summer he wears another dress. If we attach so much importance to the external dress, then what should we do? Should we think that the dress is indispensible to the body? The guru may come to us in a particular body. Suppose the guru appears as a young man. When he has become an old man, and the young form has grown into another form, how are we to recognize him? How are we to differentiate? Again, in one birth, he may have come in a particular body, and another time, he may appear in a different body. The same guru may appear differently at different times. How are we to recognize him? From the external consideration we must go to the internal.
If I am devoid of flesh and blood, and I exist only in a subtle body, then I shall also find my guru there, in a subtle body. The demigods, gandharvas, and siddhas, the perfected beings in the heavenly planets, also have their gurus, but they do not have a material body, nor does their guru have a material body.
So, by eliminating the external conception, we have to enter into the internal, and that will be all-important to a progressive disciple. That does not mean that one should disregard the physical form of our guru. But the real importance is within. We must worship the remnants of the guru, his coat, his boot, his sandal. But that does not mean that his shoe is superior to his body; we must serve his person. In a similar way, if we are eager to do some physical service for him, if we want to massage his feet, but he does not desire that, and says, "No, no, no," then should we do that? Our internal obedience to him will be higher. In this way, we have to make progress from the gross to the subtle.
Who is guru? Where is he to be located? What is his ideal? What does
he really want me to do? These things must not be dismissed from our ears.
We must not give only formal adherence. We want the spiritual way. The
spiritual man is going to the spiritual world to have the spiritual realization.
It is all a spiritual transaction. And all conceptions of mundane, whether
physical, mental, or intellectual, should be eliminated in our journey
if we want to go to the inner world of substance.
Progress Means Elimination and Acceptance
This attitude will decide our real progress, our real design of life. Our fulfillment comes always from the inner side. If one can catch up that thread, then he can go and get things of that higher, spiritual quality. We may appreciate the beautiful figure, style, movement, and intellectual delivery of the spiritual master, and so many other things may be appreciable. But what should be the highest focal point of our realization? What should be our highest aim, for which we will eliminate everything else?
Progress means elimination and acceptance. And our spiritual life must always be a dynamic thing, otherwise we shall be dead. Progress means acceptance and elimination. The scientists also say this in their theory of natural selection, "survival of the fittest." Nature is selecting some and eliminating others. Life is dynamic; we are living in a dynamic world. Everywhere we find acceptance and elimination. That is progress. And our life must be progressive, not static.
To get the grace of Nityananda Prabhu, we should try as far as possible to study the character of Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu, to serve him, to serve his dhama, and his devotees. That will easily help us attain the grace of Nityananda Prabhu. And there will always be so many practical dealings in our present stage, but we must always keep the highest ideal over our heads. With this ideal we shall be able to make progress. Our ideal, our highest model-- that is our all in all in life. To be acquainted with the conception of the highest ideal and to be on the path of realization of that goal is the greatest wealth in one's life.
Srila Raghunatha Dasa Goswami prays, "I only aspire after one thing. I cherish the hope that one day I may be welcomed into the plane where Radhika and Madhava are in their glory, sitting and playing." That should be our prospect. This is found in Raghunatha Dasa Goswami's prayer to his guru. He says:
rupam tasyagrajam uru-purim mathurim gostavatim
radha-kundam giri-varam aho radhika-madhavasam
prapto yasya prathita-krpaya sri gurum tam nato 'smi
"I am fully indebted to sri gurudeva. Why? He has given me so many things. He has given me the highest conception of the holy name of Krsna, the highest form of sound which contains the highest form of thought, aspiration, ideal, everything. And next he has given me the mantra. " The name is there within the mantra. Without the name, the mantra is nothing. If the name of Krsna is withdrawn and replaced with another name, the mantra will give the opposite result. The name of Krsna is all in all. And within the mantra, the name is couched in a particular way as a sort of prayer.
And then he says, "He has given me the service of that great saviour, the son of Mother Saci, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is like a golden mountain standing to show the direction of krsna-lila. And gurudeva has brought me to the lotus feet of Mahaprabhu's most favorite personal assistant, Svarupa Damodara, who is the representation of Lalita devi, the most favorite friend of Radhika .
"Then he has brought me in connection with Sri Rupa, who was ordered to distribute the highest kinds of devotional love, rasa. " Vaidhi bhakti, the worship of the Lord in awe and reverence, is of a lower order. But raganuga-bhakti, spontaneous love, the hearts innermost dealings, was distributed through Srila Rupa Goswami. Mahaprabhu considered Sri Rupa the best to deal with raganuga-bhakti.
Dasa Goswami says, "Then, by his grace, I have achieved the association of Srila Sanatana Goswami, who adjusts our position in relation to raganuga-bhakti.
He explains the path of vaidhi-bhakti, and gives us sambandha-jnana : the knowledge of what is what, a proper acquaintance with the environment." Then he says, "Gurudeva has given me Mathura Mandala, where Radha and Govinda have their pastimes; where the forest, the hills, every creeper, shrub, and grain of sand, everyone is bearing the acquaintance of Radha-Krsna lila, and wherever I shall cast my glance they will help me in my remembrance of Radha and Govinda. I have received all these things from my gurudeva : Vrndavana, where the cows and the milkmen have their village constructed. I am becoming acquainted with their association, their nature, and their feelings of love for Krsna.
"By the grace of gurudeva, I have become acquainted with Radha-kunda, the favorite place of Radha and Govinda for their pastimes, and this great Govardhana. And lastly he has given me the hope that one day I can get the service of Sri Sri Radhika and Madhava. I have been given all these assurances by my gurudeva, so I bow my head with all my respects to his lotus feet."
So, if we are conscious of all these spiritual matters, then we can think that we have approached our gurudeva properly. What is our guru? What is his mission? It is filled with all these things. Devoid of that, what is our interest?
Devotee: There are so many visions about the International Society for Krsna Consciousness (lSKCON). But what should the real vision of ISKCON be?
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: In this verse, Raghunatha Dasa Goswami gives the real acquaintance of what is lSKCON (nama-srestham manum api saci-putram atra svarupam ). ISKCON must not deviate from this line We have not come here to deceive ourselves, but to fulfill ourselves. ISKCON will fulfill everyone's inner demand, even extending to the vegetables and stones, taking them to the feet of Mahaprabhu and the gosvamis. From village to village, every one, in every place, should be hunted and approached, "Take the name of Krsna! Come under the flag of Mahaprabhu! This grand worldwide mission will thrive like anything; it will touch the heavens and cover the Earth, and other planets also. That was the aim of Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, and we understand and appreciate that.next