Devotee: You said that we cannot have any real viraha or vipralambha until the stage of asakti, so I am wondering, in our neophyte stage, how can we develop properly if we are not able to feel real separation? How can I develop a proper mood of separation for my Gurudeva in this stage of my life?
Śrīla Mahārāja: Viraha from Gurudeva depends on sevā. [Like] if there is no viraha, you cannot perform arcana or harināma in the truest sense. Not everyone will experience viraha in the same way [either].
When you perform arcana, do you see Bhagavān? If not, then how do you perform arcana? The pramāṇa [that we are engaged in real arcana] is when we experience distress due to viraha from Bhagavān. [However, the reality is that] The living entity has forgotten Kṛṣṇa.
kṛṣṇa bhuli' sei jīva anādi-bahirmukha
ataeva māyā tāre deya saṁsāra-duḥkha
[Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta Madhya 20.117]
["Forgetting Kṛṣṇa, the living entity has been attracted by the external feature from time immemorial. Therefore, the illusory energy [māyā] gives him all kinds of misery in his material existence.]
Acting as an instrument, Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī posed a question to Mahāprabhu: “Prabhu, who am I?” Śrī Caitanya-deva replied, “Jīva, kṛṣṇera nitya-dāsa – every living entity [constitutionally] is the eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa”. Have we experienced this? No, we haven’t. Only if we continue to do anuśīlana [cultivation of service to Kṛṣṇa] - to remember Bhagavān to the extent that is possible for us - then we will experience it.
We haven’t seen Bhagavān, yet we engage in His service. That is why in arcana, one first has to perform bhūta-śuddhi. But before that, all the articles are purified by doing bhūmi-śuddhi, then āsana-śuddhi, śaṅkha-śuddhi, ghaṇṭā-śuddhi, puṣpa-śuddhi. However, just by purifying all the ingredients, can you become eligible to offer anything to Bhagavān? Can you request Bhagavān? [to accept your offering] No, before requesting Bhagavān, one must perform bhūta-śuddhi.
What is bhūta-śuddhi? Bhūta-śuddhi means to remember one’s identity, by chanting this verse:
nāhaṁ vipro na ca nara-patir nāpi vaiśyo na śūdro
nāhaṁ varṇī na ca gṛha-patir no vanastho yatir vā
gopī-bhartuḥ pada-kamalayor dāsa-dāsānudāsaḥ
"I am not a brāhmaṇa, I am not a kṣatriya, I am not a vaiśya or a śūdra. Nor am I a brahmacārī, a householder, a vānaprastha or a sannyāsī. I identify Myself only as the servant of the servant of the servant of the lotus feet of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the maintainer of the gopīs. He is like an ocean of nectar, and He is the cause of universal transcendental bliss. He is always existing with brilliance."[Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta Madhya 13.80]
[One must contemplate:] Why am I uttering this? What does the verse connote - 'I am not a brāhmaṇa, I am not a kṣatriya, I am not a vaiśya’, ‘I am not a brahmacārī, a householder, a vānaprastha or a sannyāsī’? If I am none of these, then what is my identity? I am the servant of the servant of the lotus feet of Bhagavān. Not only dāsa but dāsanudāsa. What does this mean? Realization will not come from reading, memorizing and repeating; realization of this depends upon one’s chanting and deep contemplation.
Similarly, viraha from Gurudeva and Vaiṣṇavas will be experienced as one contemplates upon them. As one reflects on their activities and teachings, one will experience viraha from guru, Vaiṣṇavas and Bhagavān. Till the time there is no viraha, the heart will not become absorbed.
This is the case with the material world as well – as long as the child is in one’s presence, one will not think much about him. However, when the child goes far away, every little thing connected to him serves as a stimulus of his remembrance. Once I saw a monkey clenching her dead offspring, even though the body was decomposed and full of stench. Generally, we observe that when the off-spring gets any food, the mother [monkey] snatches it by slapping the offspring and eats it herself, but when the offspring dies, the mother will carry it around and not leave it. This is the separation, which was not experienced earlier.
Likewise, only when viraha for guru, Vaiṣṇavas and Bhagavān is experienced, it will increase [one’s attachment and absorption towards them]. At such a stage, whenever harināma will be done, that will be in viraha. Then everything will become sambodhanātmaka, directly addressing the nāmī in case of the mahā-mantra. To the extent one gives one’s attention to Śrī Guru, Vaiṣṇavas and Bhagavān, to that extent one will experience viraha. Nobody can award you viraha, nor can one experience viraha by simply chanting harināma. When one sees everything in connection, only then viraha will arise. While performing arcana one will recall, this is how Gurudeva used to do this and this is how he used to do that – as one recollects every such activity of Gurudeva, he will feel separation.
There are instances when parents feel great separation upon losing their child, however, after the second child is born, the remembrance of the earlier child goes away. This is not [real] viraha. The viraha experienced in case of Bhagavān is apūraṇīya [irreparable], one can never pacify it. Similarly, viraha experienced from Gurudeva is never fulfilled. In this way, viraha will be experienced.