In ten short years, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta
Swami Prabhupad inundated the world with Krishna consciousness.
In the following excerpt from one of his essays, he smashes the sectarian
misconception that the Spiritual Master is limited to a particular
person, form, or institution, and establishes the universal conception
of Guru. This lecture was originally published in The
Harmonist in 1936, on the Advent Day of His Divine Grace Om
Vishnupad Srila Bhakti Siddhanta
Saraswati Thakur. It was reprinted as the Preface to Srila
Sridhar Maharaj's book, Sri
Guru and His Grace, in 1983.
the revealed scriptures it is declared that the Spiritual Master should
be worshipped like the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and this injunction
is obeyed by pure devotees of the Lord. The Spiritual Master is the
most confidential servant of the Lord. Thus let us offer our respectful
obeisances unto the lotus feet of our Spiritual Master."
uktas tatha-bhavyata eva sadbhih
kintu prabhor yah priya eva tasya
vande guroh sri-caranaravindam
on behalf of the members of the Bombay branch of the Gaudiya Math,
let me welcome you all because you have so kindly joined us tonight
in our congregational offerings of homage to the lotus feet of the
world teacher, Acharyadev, who is the founder of this Gaudiya Mission
and is the President-Acharya of Sri Sri Visva Vaishnava Raja Sabha
-- I mean my eternal Divine Master, Om Vishnupad Paramahamsa Parivrajakacarya,
Sri Srimad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaj.
years ago, on this auspicious day, the Acharyadev made his appearance
by the call of Thakur Bhaktivinoda
at Sri Ksetra, Jagannath Dham at Puri.
the offering of such an homage as has been arranged this evening
to the Acharyadev is not a sectarian concern, for when we speak
of the fundamental principle of Gurudev or Acharyadev, we speak
of something that is of universal application. There does not arise
any question of discriminating my Guru from yours or anyone else's.
There is only one Guru, who appears in an infinity of forms to teach
you, me and all others. In the Mundaka Upanishad
[1.2.12] it is said:
order to learn the transcendental science, one must approach the bona
fide Spiritual Master in disciplic succession,
who is fixed in the Absolute Truth."
tad-vijnartham sa gurum evabhigacchet
samit-panih srotriyam brahma-nistham
it has been enjoined herewith that in order to receive that transcendental
knowledge, one must approach the Guru. Therefore, if the Absolute
Truth is one -- about which we think there is no difference of opinion
-- the Guru cannot be two. The Acharyadev to whom we have assembled
tonight to offer our humble homage is not the Guru of a sectarian
institution or one out of many differing exponents of the truth.
On the contrary, he is the jagad-guru,
or the Guru of all of us; the only difference is that some obey
him wholeheartedly, while others do not obey him directly. In the
Bhagavatam [11.17.27] it is said:
should understand the Spiritual Master to be as good as I am," said
the Blessed Lord. "Nobody should be jealous of the Spiritual Master
or think of him as an ordinary man, because the Spiritual Master is
the sum total of all demigods." That is, the Acharya has been identified
with God Himself. He has nothing to do with the affairs of this mundane
world. He appears before us to reveal the light of the Vedas and to
bestow upon us the blessing of full-fledged freedom, after which we
should hanker at every step of our life's journey.
acaryam mam vijaniyan / navamanyeta karhicit
na martya-buddhyasuyeta / sarva-deva mayo guruh
transcendental knowledge of the Vedas was first uttered by God to
Brahma, the creator of this particular universe. From Brahma the
knowledge descended to Narada, from Narada to Vyasadeva, from Vyasadeva
to Madhva, and in this process of disciplic succession the transcendental
knowledge was transmitted by one disciple to another until it reached
Lord Gauranga, Sri Krishna Chaitanya,
who posed as the disciple and successor of Sri Isvara Puri. The
present Acharyadev is the tenth disciplic representative from Sri
Rupa Goswami, the original representative of Lord Chaitanya who
preached this transcendental tradition in its fullness. The knowledge
that we receive from our Gurudev is not different from that imparted
by God Himself and the succession of the Acharyas in the preceptorial
line of Brahma. We adore this auspicious day as "Sri Vyasa-Puja-Tithi"
because the Acharya is the living representative of Vyasadeva, the
divine compiler of the Vedas, Puranas, Bhagavad
Gita, Mahabharat, and Srimad Bhagavatam.
cannot know anything of the transcendental region by our limited,
perverted method of observation and experiment. But all of us can
lend our eager ears for the aural reception of the transcendental
sound transmitted from that region to this, through the unadulterated
medium of Sri Gurudev or Sri Vyasadeva. Therefore, gentlemen, we should
surrender ourselves today at the feet of the representative of Sri
Vyasadeva for the elimination of all our differences bred by our unsubmissive
attitude. It is accordingly said in the Bhagavad
approach the wise and bona fide Spiritual Master. Surrender unto him
first, and try to understand him by inquiries and service. Such a
wise Spiritual Master will enlighten you with transcendental knowledge,
for he has already known the Absolute Truth."
tad viddhi pranipatena / pariprasnena sevaya
upadeksyanti te jnanam / jnaninas tattva darsinah
receive transcendental knowledge, we must completely surrender ourselves
to the real Acharya in a spirit of ardent inquiry and service. Actual
performance of service to the Absolute under the guidance of the
Acharya is the only vehicle by which we can assimilate transcendental
knowledge. Today's meeting for offering our humble services and
homage to the feet of the Acharyadev will enable us to be favored
with the capacity of assimilating the transcendental knowledge so
kindly transmitted by him to all persons without distinction.
although it is imperfectly that we have been enabled, by his grace,
to understand the sublime messages of our Acharyadev, we must admit
that we have realized definitely that the divine message from his
holy lips is the congenial thing for suffering humanity. All of
us should hear him patiently. If we listen to the transcendental
sound without unnecessary opposition, he will surely have mercy
upon us. The Acharya's message is to take us back to our original
home, back to God. Let me repeat, therefore, that we should hear
him patiently, follow him in the measure of our conviction and bow
down at his lotus feet for releasing us from our present causeless
unwillingness for serving the Absolute and all souls.
at the feet of the Acharyadev, let us try to understand from this
transcendental source of knowledge what we are, what is this universe,
what is God, and what is our relationship with Him. The message
of Lord Chaitanya is the message for the living entities and the
message of the living world. Lord Chaitanya did not bother himself
for the upliftment of this dead world, which is suitably named Martyaloka,
the world where everything is destined to die. He appeared before
us four hundred and fifty years ago to tell us something of the
transcendental universe, where everything is permanent and everything
is for the service of the Absolute. But recently Lord Chaitanya
has been misrepresented by some unscrupulous persons, and the highest
philosophy of the Lord has been misinterpreted to be the cult of
the lowest type of society. We are glad to announce tonight that
our Acharyadev, with his usual kindness, saved us from this horrible
type of degradation, and therefore we bow down at his lotus feet
with all humility.
are happy that we have been relieved of this horrible type of malady
by the mercy of His Divine Grace. He is our eye-opener, our eternal
father, our eternal preceptor and our eternal guide. Let us therefore
bow down at his lotus feet on this auspicious day.
although we are like ignorant children in the knowledge of Transcendence,
still, my Gurudev has kindled a small fire within us to dissipate
the invincible darkness of empirical knowledge. We are now so much
on the safe side that no amount of philosophical argument by the
empiric schools of thought can deviate us an inch from the position
of our eternal dependence on the lotus feet of His Divine Grace.
had he not appeared before us to deliver us from the thralldom of
this gross, worldly delusion, surely we should have remained for
lives and ages in the darkness of helpless captivity. Had he not
appeared before us, we would not have been able to understand the
eternal truth of the sublime teaching of Lord Chaitanya.
I have no hope for any direct service of the coming crores of births
in the sojourn of my life, but I am confident that some day or other
I shall be delivered from this mire of delusion in which I am at
present so deeply sunk. Therefore let me with all my earnestness
pray at the lotus feet of my Divine Master to allow me to suffer
the lot for which I am destined due to my past misdoings, but to
let me have this power of recollection: that I am nothing but a
tiny servant of the Almighty Absolute Godhead, realized through
the unflinching mercy of my Divine Master. Let me therefore bow
down at his lotus feet with all the humility at my command.
Charan Das - For Members of Sri Gaudiya Math, Bombay.
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