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Only a Real Guru Takes One to the Eternal World

[July 1, 2020 is the auspicious appearance day of the Founder-Ācārya of Viśuddha Caitanya-vāṇī Pracāra Kendra, Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Vijñāna Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja, in Vṛndāvana, India. The following is a bhāva anuvāda of an address by Śrīla Mahārāja on the same tithi on July 8, 2014. Editors’ input: Additional text has been included in square brackets to facilitate the flow of content.]

This human birth is rare because we have received it after wandering through 8.4 million species. However, only receiving this human form of life is not everything in itself. Many lifetimes went by but no one showered their mercy upon us. Although I was born many times prior to this birth, no one gave me such mercy as my guru-pādapadma bestowed upon me. On my janma tithi (appearance day), it is my duty to worship my Gurudeva - the one who opened my eyes, in other words, who gave me divine vision, who gave me an opportunity to know Bhagavān, who taught me how to render devotional service unto Bhagavān, as well as all other gurus who have given me [transcendental] knowledge. To remember them all is one’s duty on one’s birthday.

However, I am now in such a position [due to my advanced age] that my hands and legs do not move and I am not even able to sit [for longer duration], so how can I sing their glories? But Guru, Vaiṣṇavas and Bhagavān are all merciful, they come to this world to bestow mercy upon us in all situations [no matter what our current situation may be]. They are not ordinary living entities of this world; they come to deliver a fallen individual like me [Śrīla Mahārāja is saying this out of his spontaneous humility], to take us to the highest destination, Goloka, which is the living entity’s constitutional residence. That is why it is said, “svarūpe sabāra haya golokete sthiti' [Goloka is the natural residence of every single spirit soul.]

But who can really bestow this mercy? In order to establish us in transcendental knowledge, they commissioned [various] scriptures and illuminated on their profound conceptions. Who is Tāttvika-Guru? He who shows us the path to Bhagavān – Tat padam darśitam yena, tasmai śrī gurave namah [My salutations to that Guru who revealed to me that truth]. One who bestows upon us the vision of the divine lotus feet of Bhagavān is factually a Guru.

Otherwise, even a wrestler has a Guru. Everyone has a Guru; whether one is a karmī (fruitive worker), a jñānī (impersonalist) or a yogi (mystic), every one accepts and regards śrī Guru. However such a Guru can’t take them to the eternal abode. It is said in the Bhagavad-Gītā (15.6), ‘yad gatvā na nivartante tad dhāma paramaṁ mama’. Upon reaching that place one doesn’t need to return to this material world. That place is eternal. The word ‘Guru’ is to be attributed only to that personality who has attempted to take you to that eternal abode. Factually only he is to be considered as Guru. Why?

yānti deva-vratā devān

pitṛn yānti pitṛ-vratāḥ

bhūtāni yānti bhūtejyā

yānti mad-yājino 'pi mām

(Bhagavad-Gītā, 9.25)

[Those who worship the demigods will take birth among the demigods; those who worship ghosts and spirits will take birth among such beings; those who worship ancestors go to the ancestors; and those who worship Me will live with Me.]

Because by worshiping a particular personality, the worshiper will attain only that particular destination. But,

ā-brahma-bhuvanāl lokāḥ punar āvartino ’rjuna mām upetya tu kaunteya punar janma na vidyate

(Bhagavad-Gītā, 8.16)

[From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kuntī, never takes birth again.]

Wherever you go [within the material creation], punar āvartino, you will have to return again. Conversely, upon reaching the supreme destination one need not return to this world. So, only that Guru who by his own example shows the path leading to Bhagavān is factually Guru. Hence, it is said:

ācinoti yaḥ śāstrārtham ācāre sthāpayanty api svayam ācarate yasmād ācāryas tena kīrtitaḥ (Vāyu Purāṇa)

[One who understands the essence of Vedic literature, and who teaches this standard to others by his words and his personal example is accepted as an ācārya.]

So only one who teaches by practicing it himself and one who establishes his followers in the proper conduct to be followed is to be regarded as ācārya. Śrī Caitanya-deva also gave the same teaching through His own conduct.

By the mercy of the Guru-varga, I had the opportunity to access these teachings, so I express my deepest gratitude unto all of them on my janma-tithi. ‘Guru’ does not mean just one personality, the principle of ‘Guru’ also includes those who are with him. They are also worshipable as Guru. That is why all of them are offered prayers. So the praṇāma mantras are also accordingly composed.

vāñchā-kalpa-tarubhyaś ca kṛpā-sindhubhya eva ca

patitānāṁ pāvanebhyo vaiṣṇavebhyo namo namaḥ

[I offer my respectful obeisances unto the Vaiṣṇava devotees of the Lord. They are just like desire trees and can fulfill the desires of everyone, and they are full of compassion for the fallen conditioned souls.]

It is all in the plural case, no single personality has been addressed in this mantra; it is addressed to everyone. If respects are offered only to Bhagavān and not to His pāriṣadas [eternal associates], then there will be no auspiciousness. My parama-gurudeva was ordered by Śrīla Jagannātha Dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja to compose the Navadvīpa-pañjikā [containing the appearance and disappearance days of Vaiṣṇavas], because it enables remembrance of Vaiṣṇavas. Remembering this, I glorify the life and teachings of Vaiṣṇavas on their respective [appearance and disappearance] tithis.

So I began my kathā by first singing their glories. By serving Vaiṣṇavas, by singing their glories – 'je vaiṣṇava sevile acintya kṛṣṇa pāye' [By serving the lotus feet of Vaiṣṇavas, one can attain service of that Śrī Kṛṣṇa who is acintya, inconceivable.] We do not possess the eligibility to remember and think about Śrī Kṛṣṇa because He is beyond our gross material senses. That is why Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī said about Śrī Kṛṣṇa –

ataḥ śrī-kṛṣṇa-nāmādi

na bhaved grāhyam indriyaiḥ

sevonmukhe hi jihvādau

svayam eva sphuraty adaḥ


[Therefore material senses cannot appreciate Kṛṣṇa’s holy name, form, qualities and pastimes. When a conditioned soul is awakened to Kṛṣṇa consciousness and renders service by using his tongue to chant the Lord’s holy name and taste the remnants of the Lord’s food, the tongue is purified, and one gradually comes to understand who Kṛṣṇa really is.]

'Je vaiṣṇava sevile acintya kṛṣṇa pāye'- there is nothing greater than Vaiṣṇava-sevā.

I am now unable to sit [any longer] and thus I am helpless. Everyone please forgive me, I have to leave now.

vāñchā-kalpa-tarubhyaś ca kṛpā-sindhubhya eva ca

patitānāṁ pāvanebhyo vaiṣṇavebhyo namo namaḥ

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