My Diksa & Siksa-Gurus

Jun 13 2018 - Krishna Talk 212

Question: Narasingha Maharaja has on numerous occasions made the following statement:

“I received hari-nama from Srila B.P. Puri Maharaja, gayatri from Srila B.R. Sridhara Maharaja and sannyasa from Srila Prabhupada (A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada).”

Of course, we all know that Narasingha Maharaja received all three of his initiations, hari-nama, gayatri and sannyasa, from A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, but we also know that Narasingha Maharaja received siksa between 1986 and 1988 from Srila B.R. Sridhara Maharaja, and from Srila B.P. Puri Maharaja between 1994 and 1999. It should also be clear that Narasingha Maharaja never received any sort of re-initiation from either of his siksa-gurus. So what does Narasingha Maharaja mean when he says, “I received hari-nama from Srila B.P. Puri Maharaja, gayatri from Srila B.R. Sridhara Maharaja and sannyasa from Srila Prabhupada”?

Answer: Narasingha Maharaja briefly explains as follows:

brahmanda bhramite kona bhagyavan jiva
guru-krsna-prasade paya bhakti-lata-bija

“According to their karma, all living entities are wandering throughout the entire universe. Some of them are being elevated to the upper planetary systems, and some are going down into the lower planetary systems. Out of many millions of wandering living entities, one who is very fortunate gets an opportunity to associate with a bona fide spiritual master by the grace of Krsna. By the mercy of both Krsna and the spiritual master, such a person receives the seed of the creeper of devotional service.”

The spiritual master, the representative or manifestation of the caitya-guru, Paramatma, appears before the fortunate living entity as the diksa-guru (initiating spiritual master) and the siksa-guru (instructing spiritual master). Both the diksa and siksa-guru are to be understood as equal manifestations of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

guru krsna-rupa hana sastre pramane
guru-rupe krsna krpa karena bhakta-gane

“According to the evidence of the scriptures, the spiritual master is non-different from Krsna. Lord Krsna. In the form of the spiritual master, shows compassion to His devotees.” (Cc. Adi 1.45)

acaryam mam vijaniyan navamanyeta karhicit
na martya-buddhyasuyeta sarva-devamayo guruh

“One should know the acarya as Myself and never disrespect him in any way. One should not envy him, thinking him an ordinary man, for he is the representative of all the demigods.” (Cc. Adi 1.46, from Bhag.11.17.27)

siksa-guruke ta’ jani krsnera svarupa
antaryami, bhakta-srestha, — ei dui rupa

“One should know that the instructing spiritual master is non-different from Krsna and manifests two forms – as the Supersoul and as the greatest devotee of the Lord.” (Cc. Adi.1.47)

There are two types of siksa-gurus, or instructing spiritual masters. One teaches by example and the other teaches by relevant instructions. Srila Prabhupada explains in the purport to the above verse as follows:

“There are two kinds of instructing spiritual masters. One is the liberated person fully absorbed in meditation in devotional service, and the other is he who invokes the disciple’s spiritual consciousness by means of relevant instructions. Thus the instructions in the science of devotion are differentiated in terms of the objective and subjective ways of understanding…There is no difference between the shelter-giving Supreme Lord and the initiating and instructing spiritual masters. If one foolishly discriminates between them, he commits an offense in the discharge of devotional service.”

In other words, one type of siksa-guru instructs us objectively by his example, and the other instructs us subjectively by his relevant instructions. Both these siksa-gurus are to be understood as personal representatives of Sri Govinda, whereas the diksa-guru is a personal manifestation of Madana-mohana. This is confirmed by Srila Prabhupada as follows:

“The initiating spiritual master is a personal manifestation of Srila Madana-mohana vigraha, whereas the instructing spiritual master is a personal representative of Srila Govindadeva vigraha.” (Cc. Adi 1.47 Purport)

Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Having received hari-nama-diksa, gayatri-diksa and the renounced order of life (sannyasa) from that great personality, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, I can never fully express my indebtedness to His Divine Grace, even if I were endowed with the prolonged life of Lord Brahma. Only by the mercy of His Divine Grace, the saktyavesa-avatara of Sri Nityananda Prabhu, do I know anything regarding the science of Krsna consciousness.

guruvajnam sirasi-dharyam saktyavesa svarupine
hare-krsneti mantrena pascatya-pracya-tarine

“Taking the order of his guru upon his head, he became empowered by Nityananda Prabhu to act as a saktyavesa-avatara. He distributed the Hare Krsna mantra all over the eastern and western world, delivering and uplifting all fallen souls.” (composed by Bhakti Sundara Govinda Maharaja)

Srila Prabhuada is remembered as being the eternal servant of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, who instructed Srila Prabhupada to preach in English and to print and distribute Krsna conscious literature. His Divine Grace dedicated his life to fulfilling the instructions of his guru and passed those instructions on to his disciples.

radha-kunda tatangane ati antaranga sthane
ela tana sandra premavesa
gadha anuraga-mane sarva-atma nivedane
mathe tule nila gurvadesa

“In the most intimate place of the madhurya pastimes, namely Sri Radha-kunda, His Divine Grace experienced the full ecstasy of krsna-prema. Whole heartedly surrendering unto Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura with intense love His Divine Grace received upon his head the most holy order of his Gurudeva, “If you ever get money print and distribute books.” (Srila Prabhupada Lila-Smarana Mangala Stotram 10)

As per the order of his Guru Maharaja, Srila Prabhupada engaged us in the sankirtana movement and distributing Krsna conscious literature worldwide. He often expressed his appreciation for his disciples doing so, as is referenced in the following letter:

“You are doing so much for fulfilling the desire of my Spiritual Master so you are indirectly the representative of my Guru Maharaja. He has been helping me in this matter by sending so many young boys and girls, otherwise who would help me in this mission while I came here empty handed and without any friend. I can only pray to Krsna to take care of you, otherwise I cannot repay your sincere service in my mission.” (22nd February 1970 - letter to Bali-mardana)

On the occasion of receiving sannyasa from Srila Prabhupada on Gaura Purnima day 1976, His Divine Grace ordered me to preach the sankirtana movement of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in every town and village as a parivrajaka, a traveling mendicant. In a letter the following year His Divine Grace blessed me with the following words:

 “You are a very nice sannyasi, and expert in this kind of preaching, so I have faith that you will be able to do effective work to spread this movement for everyone’s benefit.” (31st January, 1977- Letter to Jagat-guru Swami)

Those words of His Divine Grace have encouraged me throughout, and sustained me through otherwise unsurmountable difficulties. Apart from the fathomless ocean of divine instructions given by Srila Prabhupada personally, thru his letters and in the Bhaktivedanta Purports, his instruction given just a few weeks before his departure from this world in 1977 in Vrndavana, to seek guidance from his Godbrother, Swami B.R. Sridhara Maharaja in Navadvipa, was second to none – “If you have questions regarding philosophy (Gaudiya siddhanta) you may go to my Godbrother, B.R. Sridhara Maharaja at Navadvipa.”

At that very moment my Godbrother, Swami B.V. Tripurari Maharaja was massaging Srila Prabhupada’s lotus feet. It was ten years later (1987) that Sripada Tripurari Maharaja encouraged me to journey to Navadvipa to personally take shelter of the siksa and lotus feet of Srila Sridhara Maharaja. And it was the following year that Srila Sridhara Maharaja conferred his full mercy upon me, naming me ‘Bhakti Gaurava Narasingha’ and instilling the verse, “matala hari-jana visaya range, pujala raga-patha gaurava-bhange” into the deepest recesses of my heart. Indeed, the very name given to me, ‘Gaurava’, was derived from this verse:

matala hari-jana visaya range
pujala raga-patha gaurava-bhange

“The path of divine love is worshipable to us and should be held overhead as our highest aspiration.” (Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura)

It is said by Srila Prabhupada’s disciples that His Divine Grace gave us everything. Therefore, it should be remembered that His Divine Grace gave us Srila Sridhara Maharaja. About the transcendental qualifications of Srila Sridhara Maharaja there should be no doubts. Srila Prabhupada stated in a letter to his disciple Hrsikesa Dasa that His Divine Grace considered Srila Sridhara Maharaja to be his siksa-guru. It is also certainly worth remembering here that not just anyone could be the siksa-guru of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada without being transcendentally situated in the highest order of the rupanuga-sampradaya. In a letter to his disciple Hrsikesa Dasa, Srila Prabhupada wrote as follows:

“So if you are actually serious to take instructions from a siksa-guru, I can refer you to one who is most highly competent of all my god-brothers. This is B.R. Sridhara Maharaja, whom I consider to be even my siksa-guru, so what to speak of the benefit that you can have from his association.” (31st, January, 1969)

In 1967 when Srila Prabhupada and a few of his disciples were attending the Vyasa-puja celebrations of Srila Sridhara Maharaja at Sri Caitanya Sarasvata Matha he wrote the following:

“Yesterday we have all come to Navadvipa. This place is another establishment of one of my Godbrothers. It is very nice and extensive place and my God-brother, B.R. Sridhara Maharaja has spared one entire nice house for my stay. He has also agreed to cooperate with our society. We shall observe his birthday ceremony tomorrow and the brahmacaris shall learn how to celebrate the spiritual master's birthday.” (26th October, 1967 - Letter to Satsvarupa Dasa)

During Srila Prabhupada’s stay at Sridhara Maharaja’s asrama, our Godbbrother, Acyutananda Prabhu observed Prabhupada and Sridhara Maharaja fully absorbed in a deep discussion in Bengali. When Acyutananda asked about the nature of their talk Srila Prabhupada replied, “If I were to tell you, you would faint. Sridhara Maharaja has very high realisations.” (Prabhupada-lilamrta, Vol. 3. p.205)

There are many such references that validate the elevated position of Srila Sridhara Maharaja and not least of all the following statement by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura showing his great appreciation for Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s composition “Bhaktivinoda Viraha Dvadasakam,” a poem glorifying the position of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura:

"Bhaktivinoda Thakura himself has written this (poem) through him (Sridhara Maharaja). Now I am satisfied that after me what I came to say, that will stay, that will remain; I find in these slokas the (proper Gaudiya) siddhanta."

The Siksa of Srila B.R. Sridhara Deva Goswami Maharaja

The siksa of Srila Sridhara Maharaja is none other than that of the Divine Preceptors of the line of Sri Rupa Gosvami known as the Rupanuga-varga. So much so, that each and every word emanating from his lotus mouth was a gem of Gaudiya siddhanta, his numerous writings are indeed testimony to that.

The words of Srila Sridhara Maharaja, both on audio tapes and in book format, are perhaps one of the greatest theological treasures amassed in the 20th Century. When the transcendental vibration from his lips enters the heart of a sincere seeker of truth, one immediately feels the fulfillment of the innermost hankering of the heart – we want Krsna and nothing else.

To compile the complete list of Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s glorious siksa is not possible. However, at the top of the list we present Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s commentary on brahma-gayatri known as Sri Gayatri-nigudhartha. This commentary is the definitive commentary on brahma-gayatri extolling the siddhanta of the Gaudiya Vaisnavas in the line of Sri Rupa Gosvami leading us to radha-dasyam, the exclusive service of Srimati Radharani. This crest gem among Gaudiya commentaries enters the heart and establishes the worship of Srimati Radharani as life’s ultimate goal. Therefore, I say with folded hands that, “I have received gayatri from Srila Sridhara Maharaja”.

Sri Gayatri-nigudhartha, the illustrious commentary on the brahma-gayatri in the line of Srimad Bhagavatam, is presented here:

bhvades-tat savitur-varenya-vihitam ksetra-jna-sevyarthakam
bhargo vai vrsabhanu-jatma-vibhavaikaradhana sri-puram
bhargo jyotir-acintya-lilana-sudhaikaradhana-sri-puram
bhargo dhama-taranga-khelana-sudhaikaradhana-sri-puram
bhargo dhama-sada nirasta kuhakam prajnana-lila-puram
gayatri-muralista-kirtana-dhanam radha-padam dhimahi
gayatri-gaditam mahaprabhu-matam radha-padam dhimahi
dhir-aradhanam eva nanyad-iti-tad-radha-padam dhimahi

“With all of your thoughts and heart’s desire, fully engage yourself in the pure devotional service and worship of bhargo, the supreme goddess Srimati Radharani, who is the unlimited origin and possessor of the svarupa-sakti of Krsna, the Supreme Beautiful Godhead (deva). Being the ultimate and all harmonizing potency of Krsna, She remains His eternally unexcelled beloved servitor. In order to fully enrich and promote His lila-vilasa, She manifests Herself in variegated congenial forms. It is She Who manifests Herself as dhama (Goloka) the abode of Krsna, in the form of beautiful effulgence (saundarya-jyoti) and opulence (vaibhava), adorning and glorifying Him all around. It is She who extends Herself as lila-sakti (the potency principle which promotes the bliss giving pastimes of Sri Krsna in variegated colorful, tasteful, mystically opulent and beautiful ways). She is the unlimited ocean of love of Krsna personified (mahabhava-svarupini). Therefore, adore Her as the supreme goal of life, Who gives venerable, blessed intelligence, realization and taste of enhanced loving worship towards Her and Her eternal beloved deva, Sri Krsna, the all fulfillment of life. The sound of gayatri is none other than the divine flute song of Krsna. This flute song is naturally filled with radha-prema and dedicated to serve pleasure unto Her. What is the special characteristic of this all-attractive flute song in the life of devotional aspirants? It deeply attracts all souls to the unending beauty, glories and qualities of His eternal beloved Srimati Radharani, and situates them correctly in their own respective positions in Her eternal ecstatic service. Krsna's flute song thus deeply inspires the devotees to embrace an artist-servitor in the divine service-concert of His eternal consort Srimati Radharani through harmonious service performance. The innermost meaning of this flute song for all devotees is radha-padam dhimah,i which means to wholeheartedly embrace and engage yourself in the service of the lotus feet of Srimati Radharani with all devotional love. The highest and innermost instruction of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is radha-padam dhimahi."

Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s purport to Sri Gayatri Nigudhartha may be found at the following url:

The Siksa of Srila Bhakti Pramoda Puri Maharaja

The pure devotees of Krsna are the reservoir of all good qualities, but the crest jewel of those qualities is humility. Only those devotees who have developed the quality of humility can constantly chant the holy name of Krsna.

trnad api sunicena taror api sahisnuna
amanina manadena kirtaniyah sada harih

“One can chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking himself lower that the straw in the street. One should be more tolerant than the tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige and ready to offer all respects to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of Krsna constantly.” (Siksastaka 3)

Once, in the time of our Guru Maharaja’s grhastha-lila as a pharmacist, he was asked by a Godbrother if he had a formula for the disease of material consciousness. Much to that Godbrother’s surprise, our Guru Maharaja answered that yes, he had a formula, but that he was unable to put it into a bottle. When asked what that formula was, our Guru Maharaja quoted the third verse of the Siksastaka.

Indeed, the ahankara (false ego) that binds the conditioned soul to the cycle of endless birth and death is crushed by one who chants the holy name of Krsna with the humility described in the third verse of Siksastaka, trnad api sunicena taror api sahisnuna. This Vaisnava humility is so profound that it is all-attractive, even to the Lord Himself. The heart of Krsna is filled with love for such Vaisnavas.

ahankara-nivrttanam kesavo nahi duragah
ahankara-yutanam hi madhye parvata-rasayah

“Kesava (Krsna) is not far from those who are free from false-ego. However, there are mountains between Him and those who are infested with false-ego.” (Brahma-vaivarta Purana)

naham tisthami vaikunthe yoginam hrdayesu va
mad-bhakta yatra gayanti tatra tisthami narada

“I am not in Vaikuntha, nor in the hearts of the yogis. I remain where My devotees engage in glorifying My activities and chanting My name. (Padma Purana)

It has been observed by many Vaisnavas, both aspiring and advanced, that Srila Bhakti Pramoda Puri Maharaja was the abode of Vaisnava humility, winning the heart of Krsna and the affections of all those who came in contact with him. Many times we saw the demonstration of Srila Puri Maharaja’s humility and on such occasions it left us utterly speechless.

Finding a place in the heart of Krsna, it has also been observed that Srila Puri Maharaja’s affectionate relationship with Krsna was much like that of Sri Uddhava, as indicated in the last two lines of Srila Puri Maharaja’s pranama-mantra:

yathoddhavasya-kumarad bhagavadarccane rati
vaisnavanam sarva krtye daksata parama tatha

“Unto he who is forever vigilant in both the practice and preaching of bhagavata-dharma and in whom was manifest from his very childhood the divine loving attachment to the holy service of Lord Sri Krsna as was found in Sri Uddhava.”

Srila Puri Maharaja was always deeply respectful toward his many Godbrothers. His high regard and deep affection for such Godbrothers as our Guru Maharaja, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and Srila B.R. Sridhara Maharaja was a thoughtful reminder of how fortunate we were to have come into contact with such great souls. It was the profound humility of Srila Puri Maharaja that made this hard-hearted soul understand what was required to chant the holy name of Krsna purely. Therefore, I often say that, “I have received hari-nama from Srila Puri Maharaja”.

When my initiated japa beads were stolen, in keeping with Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition to approach a senior Vaisnava to chant on and replace my stolen japa-mala, I requested Srila Puri Maharaja to chant on my new beads. He kindly accepted.

Many devotees have lost their initiated beads over time or had them stolen. Usually, as a replacement, devotees purchase new beads and then sanctify those beads by touching them to the representatives of santa-rasa such as the Yamuna, Radha-kunda or Govardhana, or sometimes to the lotus feet of the Deity of Krsna or to the hands of Srila Prabhupada. They do not know that to replace ones initiated beads, it is a superior and desired method to approach a living senior Vaisnava to chant on those beads, rather than going to the santa-rasa section or directly to the Deity.

Approaching a senior Vaisnava to chant on one’s replacement beads does not constitute re-initiation as one might speculate, but it does demonstrate one’s own humility and ability to recognise senior Vaisnavas.

My Respectful Obeisance

Having said all of the above, I offer my respectful obeisance’s to my diksa and siksa-gurus:

krpa-sindhu prabhupader carana-vandana
sakala bhuvane kaila nama-sankirtana

“I take shelter at the lotus feet of Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada who is an ocean of mercy and who has inundated the world with the Holy Name of Krsna (nama-sankirtana).”

ksudra-puspa yaiche arka-kirana bhaksana
ei jiva taiche pusta sridhara-siksana

“As a tiny insignificant flower basks in the rays of the Sun, so this insignificant jiva basks in the rays of divine instruction emanating from the lotus mouth of Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Deva Gosvami Maharaja.”

vrksa lata yaiche pusta candera prakasa
sri puri-acarya haite rupanuga dasa

“As the trees and creepers are nourished by the cooling rays of the full moon so this servant of the followers of Sri Rupa is nourished by the great acarya (the rupanuga-varga), Srila Bhakti Pramoda Puri Maharaja.”

swami narasingha kahe lainu sarana
ei tina gurudevera carana smarana

“Swami Narasingha says, ‘I take shelter of these three divine preceptors, whose lotus feet I constantly adore and remember.;"