[The following is an excerpt of a bhāva anuvāda of a darśana with Śrīla Bhakti Vijñāna Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja on March 13, 2013 in Kolkata. Editors’ input: Additional text has been included in square brackets to facilitate the flow of content.]
Syāmārāni Didi: I have been with our Śrīla Prabhupāda Bhaktivedānta Swāmī Mahārāja since 1966 and our Gurudeva Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja since 1992, so many, many years. Whatever a conditioned soul can hear, who doesn’t have real say or real knowledge, can relate to Guru, I have done that. But now I met you just very recently, one year ago, and I am thinking about you so much, and have become so attached and affectionate, and even by your mercy, to Śrīla Bhakti Vallabha Tīrtha Gosvāmī Mahārāja, that I am worrying if I am going crazy, and I am thinking – by so much attachment and affection for you, what is happening to my relationship with my dīkṣā and śīkṣā guru, is it decreasing or increasing? What is this guru tattva principle?
Mādhava-priya Prabhu (to Śrīla Mahārāja): For the question she posed, firstly I responded to her based on everything I had heard from Śrīla Gurudeva [Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja] in Mathura, because she was inquiring about her present condition.
[Mādhava-priya Prabhu then translated didi’s question in Hindi to Śrīla Mahārāja.]: She is saying, ‘I had met with Guru Mahārāja in 1966, and for many years, whatever he has ordered me to do, I continued to do to the best extent possible. I continued to hear his hari-kathās and by serving him, I become very attached to him. Then in 1977, he became unmanifest. Then I continued to serve in [ISKCON], later I got to meet with Śrīla Gurudeva [Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja] in 1992, which is after a long gap, then she engaged herself to the best extent possible in the many services based on Śrīla Gurudeva’s [personal] instructions.
Now she met you last year on Gaura Purṇimā, before that she neither heard about you nor knew you, however since one year she is acquainted with you, and after associating with you, after hearing hari-kathā from you, after observing your conduct and dealings, she is experiencing the same feelings and emotions for you thinking, she must surrender herself at your lotus feet. Because of your relationship with Śrīla Bhakti Vallabha Tīrtha Gosvāmī Mahārāja, she gets the same feelings for him, although she did not get to associate with him much, nor did she get a chance to hear hari-kathā from him.
So now she is asking that ‘I hope this will not affect my relationship with my Guru Mahārāja and Śrīla Gurudeva. Just as it is said - one’s niṣṭhā towards one’s gurudeva should be one-pointed, so can this be taken as my niṣṭhā is going anywhere else? Since my emotions and feelings are going towards you, is that improper? Is there any consideration like that?’
Śrīla Mahārāja: What was your response?
Mādhava-priya Prabhu: I told her that when I was with my Guru Mahārāja [Śrīla Bhakti Pramoda Puri Gosvāmī Mahārāja] before that I knew Śrīla Gurudeva [Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja] and would hear hari-kathā from him.
After I accepted dīkṣā from Guru Mahārāja, I had the fortune to stay with him and serve him. When Guru Mahārāja was performing his sickness pastimes, I believe in 1999, at that Śrīla Gurudeva had come to see Guru Mahārāja. At that time he said, “Now serve very nicely as much as you can, however after the departure of your Guru Mahārāja, come directly to me.” So those words stayed with me.
After Guru Mahārāja disappeared, within a short span of time, I went to him. Śrīla Gurudeva asked me to come to Mathura, where on the very first day he had told me one thing –‘Although you are coming here, many people will speak many kinds of things, your god-brothers will also speak, however know this fact very firmly in your heart, that whatever service you render upon my instruction, all that service will be automatically considered as being rendered unto your Guru Mahārāja. You will not have to perform any service to him separately.’
Since then, I never ever worried about the fact that my direct service to Guru Mahārāja is not happening, or by [rendering service to Śrīla Gurudeva or by not rendering direct service to my Guru Mahārāja] I am committing any mistake.
Śrīla Mahārāja: What you mentioned is fine. Rāmacandra Kavirāja, whose disciple is he?
Mādhava-priya Prabhu: Śrīla Śrīnivāsa Ācārya.
Śrīla Mahārāja: Where would he stay?
Mādhava-priya Prabhu: In the association of Śrīla Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura.
Śrīla Mahārāja: And what did Śrīla Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura say?
Mādhava-priya Prabhu: rāmacandra sanga mānge narottama dāsa
Śrīla Mahārāja: The consideration depicted here is that of bhakti. He is begging for the association of Rāmacandra, although Rāmacandra is like Śrīla Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura’s disciple. He is not considering that Rāmacandra is like his disciple, he is only seeing his Vaiṣṇavatā.
[Mādhava-priya Prabhu additionally explained during the English translation: There was no fault on the part of Rāmacandra Kavirāja for not staying with Śrīla Śrīnivāsa Ācārya and instead staying with Śrīla Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura]
In the same way, Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī did not reside at the place of his guru.
Mādhava-priya Prabhu: In the temple of Rādhā Govindadeva.
Śrīla Mahārāja: Yes. Where did he reside?
Mādhava-priya Prabhu: Rādhā Dāmodara
Śrīla Mahārāja: Although Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī made the [Rādhā Govindadeva] temple, Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī took him [to Rādhā Dāmodara]. So does this constitute as disrespect on behalf of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī towards Rādhā Govindadeva?
Mādhava-priya Prabhu: No.
Śrīla Mahārāja: Why? Because he sees Rādhā Govindadeva in Rādhā Dāmodara.
Ok, now come to Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī - who had ordered him to write Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta?
Mādhava-priya Prabhu: Bhakta Haridāsa
Śrīla Mahārāja: Not Bhakta Haridāsa. Haridāsa Gosvāmī. He was the disciple of Vakreśavara Panḍita.
What did Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī make of his order?
Mādhava-priya Prabhu: guru mukha padma vākya….
Śrīla Mahārāja: No. ājñā gurūṇāṁ hy avicāraṇīyā [the order of the spiritual master must be obeyed without consideration - Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta Madhya 10.145].
The order [by Haridāsa Gosvāmī] has to be obeyed.
Mādhava-priya Prabhu [paraphrased]: At this point, Śrīla Mahārāja is saying, “How is it that Śrīla Harīdāsa Gosvāmī, although he was a Vaiṣṇava, Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī was referring him as guru? ājñā gurūṇāṁ hy avicāraṇīyā – the order of the spiritual master must be obeyed without consideration.
Because those who are on that level, the exalted Vaiṣṇavas, they can be also considered 100% as gurus. Why? Because Śrīla Mahārāja was mentioning that they see their guru manifesting in them [Vaiṣṇavas] and giving instructions through those Vaiṣṇavas. Guru can manifest through any pure Vaiṣṇava, and through him, he can give instruction. In the same way, Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī accepted Śrīla Harīdāsa Gosvāmī as his guru.
In the kingdom of bhakti, all these conceptions like ‘This is my gurudeva’, ‘This is another gurudeva’, ‘This is another gurudeva’, at this level, they do not work. Actually all the pure devotees are considered non-different, and guru can manifest anywhere and everywhere.
Syāmārāni Didi: So just by thinking of him [Śrīla Mahārāja], that thinking goes to our gurudeva and…
Mādhava-priya Prabhu: That is what Śrīla Mahārāja was saying. The first thing what I heard from Śrīla Gurudeva [in Mathura], Śrīla Mahārāja has also confirmed - Yes, that was cent percent true.
I remember once on the appearance day of my Guru Mahārāja in 2001 - he had already departed from this world - I was unable to go to my Guru Mahārāja’s maṭha for his vyāsa puja because of some service responsibilities.
That year we were in Delhi with Śrīla Gurudeva, in Poonam Didi’s house. That day, when Śrīla Gurudeva returned from his morning walk, he said, “Do you remember today is your gurudeva’s vyāsa pujā.” I said, “Yes gurudeva.” So he asked, “What are you arranging? I said, “Well, you are here so we will just worship you. That’s it.”
So we quickly arranged for some arati paraphernalia. Then Śrīla Gurudeva asked, “Do you have any picture of your Guru Mahārāja? I said, “I don’t have with me.” So Poonam Didi had one book from my Guru Mahārāja’s maṭha which had a picture of my Guru Mahārāja. We were looking for some arrangement to keep that picture somewhere, then Śrīla Gurudeva said, ‘No need to make any arrangement, give me this book.’ He just took that book and placed the photo of my Guru Mahārāja on his heart, and we worshipped our Guru Mahārāja [in this way]. So what Śrīla Mahārāja was mentioning that your guru can manifest through…
Śrīla Mahārāja: Everywhere.
Mādhava-priya Prabhu: He can manifest everywhere.
Śrīla Mahārāja: Now, Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī had to fulfil the order; however, he didn’t have the strength. So what did he do and why?
Mādhava-priya Prabhu: He went to seek permission…
Śrīla Mahārāja: To the temple of Rādhā Madana-mohana. Why to the temple Rādhā Madana-mohana? He could not go to the temple of Rādhā Govinda?
Mādhava-priya Prabhu: sambandha jñāna pradātā – [He is the bestower of the constitutional relationship of the living entities with the supreme Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa]
Śrīla Mahārāja: Yes. Rādhā Madana-mohana is the predominating Deity of sambandha jñāna. First, we will develop our relationship with Madana-mohana, after that one will get the qualification to serve Govindadeva, after that one will get the qualification to serve Gopīnātha. Not at the onset, if there is no sambandha jñāna, there will be no prītī [love]. There will be no prītī without sambandha jñāna.
When you get a dog and care for him, don’t you develop affection for him?
Mādhava-priya Prabhu: Yes.
Śrīla Mahārāja: Does your affection go towards someone else’s dog?
Mādhava-priya Prabhu: No.
Śrīla Mahārāja: And if that dog has some sibling, because eight or ten puppies are born [at one time]; in that case, your affection doesn’t go towards the siblings of your pet dog?
Mādhava-priya Prabhu: No
Śrīla Mahārāja: Why?
Mādhava-priya Prabhu: Because I gave my energy here.
Śrīla Mahārāja: No. Because you got that dog, now there is relationship that ‘he is mine’. Similarly, there must be sambandha jñāna, only then prītī [affection] will happen. To the extent this sambandha jñāna keeps increasing, the affection will increase.
One [Syāmānanda] who was in sakhya rasa, ended up in madhura rasa. So does that mean that he abandoned his [previous] guru? By the association of Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, Syāmānanda got entrance in madhura rasa.
Mādhava-priya Prabhu: There is no [question of] giving up. Just as you had mentioned, it happens step-by-step.
Śrīla Mahārāja: Yes. There is no question of abandoning. When you study, you first studied in primary school, now when you go to a higher grade, does that mean you have given up on the guru? Knowledge remains the same just that later it develops further. Neither the teacher nor anyone else is dissatisfied.
Mādhava-priya Prabhu: In fact, the teacher becomes pleased that the student who studied under me is progressing further.
Syāmārāni Didi: He also mentioned something about sakhya and guru
Mādhava-priya Prabhu: He was mentioning about Syāmānanda Prabhu, because his gurudeva was in sakhya, but in the association of Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, he was able to enter into mādhurya rasa properly.
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