In this immortal work of spiritual genius, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura describes the method by which the Lord descends to deliver the fallen souls. Although composed in very high English, the sincere seeker will find this short essay profound explanation as to the nature and function of guru.
"Sri Caitanya is Sri Krsna Himself. The associates of Sri Krsna Caitanya are constituents of Himself. It is our object in this sort paper to study the implications of these doctrines.
Sri Krsna's active existence involved the undivided operation of the following six divine entities viz., gurus, devotees, avataras (divine descents), divine manifestations, divine powers, and Godhead Himself. All these are jointly and severally divine.
As Sri Krsna Caitanya is identical with Sri Krsna the active existence of Sri Caitanya also implies the cooperation of the above six divine categories.
When Sri Krsna Caitanya was pleased to manifest His appearance on this mundane plane all the six constituents of Himself also necessarily made their appearance as part and parcel of Himself. IN the marvelous work, Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika, we have the detailed identification of the several characters who are divinely associated in the performances of Sri Krsna Caitanya with the corresponding characters in the Dvarpara lila of Sri Krsna. This correspondence is an essential part of the religion of pure devotion propounded by Sri Krsna Caitanya . In the opening verses of his great work Sri Caitanya caritamrta, Sri Krsnadas Kaviraja Gosvami accordingly makes his obeisances to Sri Krsna Caitanya in His above six-fold form.
Sri Caitanya is the Divine Personality Himself. His associates share His divine nature. Sri Krsna Caitanya is an extended subject. All the six divine forms have to be worshipped if is the intention to worship Sri Caitanya.
The guru is one of His constituents. It is necessary to receive initiation from him. It is also necessary to be instructed by Him. As teacher, the guru has two forms. He guides from within. He also appears as a guide and instructor existing outside his disciples. Initiation is received from one person only. Instructions may be had form many gurus. Sri Kaviraja Goswami himself was instructed by the famous six Goswamins.
The guidance of the guru is no curtailment of one's spiritual freedom. Those who are eternally free also follow his guidance by the spontaneous undeviating impulse of their perfectly pure nature. Guidance of the guru is the only divine guidance. Only atheists who are by their choice opposed to the service of Godhead, can be consistent opponents of the obligation to serve the guru in the same unconditional way as one should be prepared to serve Godhead Himself. There is no difference between the two functions. If the claim of the one is denied it necessarily involves the denial of the claim of the other. Nityananda and His companions form one of the five groups of the associates of Sri Krsna Caitanya, whose distinctive function is that of the guru.
The guru admits to the service of Krsna. The next divine category is the bhakta or devotee. In this case also as in that of the guru, service of the divinity, which is the distinctive function of the bhakta, is not confined to him only. The servants have been divided into two classes viz., (1) servants other than consorts and (2) consorts. The guru has distinctive function as master. The servant has no distinctive function as master. This distinguishes the guru from the bhakta. The bhakta is also Godhead in the distinctive form of this servant to whom the guru manifests the divinity. The mercy of the bhakta enables the dissociable soul to receive the mercy of the guru. The guru and the bhakta are the inseparable divine counterparts of one another. The guru and the bhakta are thus two distinct entities forming the five categories. The avataras (descending divinities) are the third category. They have their distinctive functions in the maintenance and deliverance of jivas inclined to divine service. They have distinctive functions as master. The difference between the avataras and the divinity as master consists in this that the avataras are derivatives from the divinity possessing the plenary divine nature. The relation between the two is analogous to that between the original self-existing source-light and other shining lamps that have been lighted from the source. There is no substantive or magnitudinal difference between the two. But there is distinctiveness in function. The avataras have distinctive natures of their own. But the divinity is their common source possessing all their distinctive functions in a synthesis which distinguishes Him from the avataras without suffering any diminution of His divinity by the eternal parallel coexistence of the distinctive activities and personalities of the avataras as divinities.
Another divine category is the group of the divine manifestations. The manifestations are divine forms who are either identical with that of the divinity or of a distinctive nature. Krsna can appear simultaneously in the same form or in different forms to different persons and also simultaneously retain His own form. All these other forms are His own manifestations.
The fifth divine category is divine power. Divine power is the Predominated Moiety of the divinity who is Predominating, Whole. Sri Radhika is the predominated Counter-Whole of Sri Krsna. Sri Radhika has Her duplicates and constituents who are also of the nature of plenary powers of the divinity. She also directly serves Sri Krsna in an infinity of ways in Her countless distinctive plenary and secondary forms.
The pedant is disposed to be skeptical by reason of a lurking belief that it is the look-out of the divinity to make Himself known to Him. But the jiva is a dissociable particle of the divine essence with the onus of choosing for himself from among the alternatives of a serving, a neutral and disobedient career, his own relationship to the divinity. He cannot escape the privilege of exercising his responsibility except by conscious self-deception or by hypocrisy.
"I don't read the book. I read the author. I first see the author to see if he is authentic or not. I am a proof reader. I always see what is right and what is wrong. My father trained me in proof reading, but I an not only a proof reader of the press. I am a proof reader of the world. I proof read men; I see their faults and try to correct them. I am a proof reader of religion also. I have appeared in the karkata lagna (astrologically). So whenever I see anything undevotional I will act like a karkata (a crab). If I see any so called devotion which is not actually in the true unalloyed spirit, I shall pierce it.!" --Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur.
"I have most probably given many people troubles in the mind. Some of them might have thought about me that I am their enemy because I was obliged to speak the plain truth for service and devotion towards the Absolute Godhead. I have given theml all those troubles only for the reason that they may turn their face towards the Personality of Godhead without any desire for gain and with unalloyed devotion. I hope some day or other they may understand me rightly." -Excerpt from the last lecture of Srila Sarasvati Thakur. Translated from the Bengali and printed in the first edition of Back to Godhead by His Divine Grace. A.C.
Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
Om tat Sat.
All glories to our spiritual grandfather, the divine spiritual master of so many pure devotees of the Lord and the founder-acarya of the Gaudiya Matha. His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Promode Puri Maharaj has written of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura in his newly published book " Essence of Pure Devotion" :
"The most worshippable Sri Srila Prabhupada is the dynamic manifest form of the merciful potency of Lord Gauranga Deva. I have heard that in his childhood he used to be referred by his Spiritual Preceptors-who were self realized souls-by the name Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati. Later in the year l918, when he entered into the renounced order of life, he used to be called Tridandi Swami Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati. Hereafter, in different Holy pilgrimage places he used to identify himself as Sri-Varsabhanavi Dayita Das. He is the non different expansion of Srimati Radharani Herself, always joyfully exhibiting the nature pleasing to Srimati Radhika which in the mood of service to Lord Krsna. The verses of the devotional song, "Vilapkusumanjali", expressing lamentation in separation to Srimati Radharani, was known by him by rote. In the description of the glories of Srimati Radhika, or sometimes at the very mention of her name, he would be overcome by emotion and tears would stream profusely from his eyes. He would become transfixed in overwhelming emotion on hearing certain popular verses of the song "Vilapksumanjali", like 'vairagya-yuga bhakti-rasam, asa bharair-amrtasindhumayuaih' or the verse 'yasyah kadapi vasunancha lakhelanotha' from 'Sri Radharasa Sudhaniddhi'. He frequently used to sing the lyrics of the song below.
radha dasye rahi cahda bhoga ahiMeaning: One should remain the servant of Srimati Radharani, giving up all sense of material enjoyment and try to humbly preach the glories of the Name. The pure devotees do not merely practice solitary bhajan, which is a form of cheating.
pratistasa nahe kirtanagorava
radha ityajan taha chadi mana
kena va nirjana-bhajana-kaitava
His last words at the time of passing away in his eternal pastimes were: "All of you, with the objective of satisfying the transcendental senses of the Supreme Absolute Truth, should cooperate with one another in obedience to the most surrendered counter-part of the Supreme Lord. That most surrendered soul to the Supreme Lord (asraya vigraha) is Srimate Radharani" and Her most beloved associate which is the spiritual master." ( pages 1-2 "Essence of Devotion")
Our own Srila Prabhupada, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada called his beloved gurudeva " A Vaikntha Man," "One of Lord Caitanya's Private Stock." We can live the rest of our lives in trying to emulate Their mood of devotion and dedication to distribute the mercy of the Divinity, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Param viajayate sri krsna sankirtanam.
Puru Das Adhikari
[Originally published 02/24/99 on VNN]