Interpretation: Guru isn't a person but a tatva By Srila Baba



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One must consider Guru as personification of the supreme Godhead Krishna himself. How is this possible? Suppose someone gave you a lemon to chew but warned that you must think this is a sweet Rasgulla. Now while you chew on it, your mouth sense sourness but you have to convince yourself and everyone that it tastes so sweet. (This is the problem many devotees face since they do not see the qualifications of a Guru described in the scriptures in their Guru but the same scriptures say that doubting one's Guru is a serious offense to Guru tatva). But how then the disciple is supposed to accept this verdict of the scriptures?

Guru is not a person but a tatva. The personal qualities and faults of the person being regarded as Guru have nothing to do with that tatva. (Though the qualities of a pure devotee affects those who come for his association, the faith of the disciple most importantly decides what he absorbs from the association.) If the disciple has firm faith in the Guru tatva, he will attract the mercy of Krishna through his Guru. Just like the moon reflects the scorching light of the sun in a mellow and cool manner, the Guru reflects the powerful mercy of Krishna in a more delicate and compassionate manner.

In Gaudiya vaishnavism, Guru tatva has four forms: 
  1. Samashti
  2. Vyashti
  3. Devotee son of Brahmin in Navadwip
  4. Manjari in Vrindavan

Samashti Guru is omnipotent and omniscient, the supreme Godhead Krishna himself. All sects and spiritual leaders accept this and have no disagreement on this. The young Brahmin devotee of Navadwip is a bhakta of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The young maiden of Vraj, the manjari is the maidservant (bhakta) of Srimati Radharani. Now comes the question, who is the Vyashti Guru (the person on this earth who has been born into a family and will eventually die, but certainly is more spiritually evolved than others?) Is he just a bhakta? Or is he personification of the supreme Godhead Krishna himself? If yes, how?

The Vyashti Guru is the sum total of Samashti, Navadwip devotee and Manjari of Vrindavan. All transcendental personalities and scriptures come to shower mercy on the disciple but look towards the Guru. If Guru is pleased with the disciple, all will shower mercy on the disciple. But if Guru is not pleased with the disciple, they will go back. If this Vyashti Guru is pleased, Samashti Guru will also be very pleased. If Vyashti Guru is pleased, Manjari of Vrindavan and Navadwip devotee will also shower their mercy on the disciple. Such is the importance of the Vyashti Guru. (That is why a sadhak must look for the qualities mentioned in the scriptures before getting initiated, but not after. Doubting one's Guru is a detrimental offense to the Guru tatva). But most people think that Guru is just a mediator between Krishna and the devotee. So let's get initiated and go home and chant. What is the use of sitting next to him? The scriptures say otherwise:

"Sakshat bhagavatibuddhyat na martya buddhyat karhichit"

Meaning: Guru is personification of Bhagwan (Krishna) himself. Never consider him as a human being.

"Yasya deve parabhaktir yatha deve tatha gurou, 
tasyayte kathita hyarthah prakashante mahatmanah." (Guru geeta)

Meaning: Whosoever has supreme bhakti for the Lord and has the same kind of bhakti for Guru, to that great soul the meaning of the scriptures, when told, reveal themselves.

The kind of yearning we have for the Lord; the way we perform all our activities, worship, good deeds, austerity and service for Krishna, if a disciple has the same yearning, devotion and love for Guru, all the tatvas of the scriptures reveal themselves to the disciple.

"Dadami buddhiyogam tam yena mamupayanti te" (Shrimad Bhagvat Gita)

Meaning: I (Krishna) give such intelligence so that he knows me.

The sadhak doesn't have the intelligence to worship and devote himself at Krishna and Guru's lotus feet. He doesn't have the intelligence to recognize the transcendental quality of his Guru, but through devotion and unfailing faith, he attracts the mercy of Guru and Guru gives him the intelligence to understand the glories of Guru. The Samashti Guru gives this intelligence.

"Krishna yadi kripa kare kono bhagyavane, 
Guru antaryami rupe shikhaye apane." (Chaitanya Charitamrita)

Meaning: When Krishna showers his mercy on a lucky soul, Guru teaches and reveals all tatvas in the heart of that person.

If a sadhak has spiritually enhancing deeds done in previous lives, and has been able to please his Guru through unfailing faith and Ananya (no one other than Guru) Nishtha (determined devotion), then all treasures of spiritual world, the deepest tatvas, will be revealed to him.

Through reading scriptures and hearing intellectual lectures on Srimad Bhagavatam, a sadhak may come to know various philosophies of our scriptures but due to materialistic samskaras, he doesn't get enlightened, the philosophies don't become a part of his thoughts and his life. Everyone who listens to scriptural lectures knows that this samsaar is temporary, the relations and bonds here are untrue like a dream, but still they are engaging in this samsaar, trying to please their 'near and dear ones' and worrying about accumulating more and more wealth. Apart from some weak deliberations, nothing much changes. But when the sadhak devotes himself to his Guru and with utmost determination, follows the words of his Guru, he is able to disentangle himself from the web of Maya and realize the supreme love of Krishna.

"Tesham evanukapartham ahamagyanajam tamah,
Nasayamyatma bhavasthah gyandipena bhasvata."

Meaning: I (Krishna) bestow my mercy on them so that the darkness of ignorance is dispersed and the light of knowledge enlightens his soul.

The disciple who has Ananya Nishtha for his Guru and follows his every word physically, mentally and verbally, is showered with mercy by Guru and has nothing unachieved in the spiritual world. When the disciple serves his Guru with unfailing devotion, Guru enlightens his heart and gives him the intelligence to understand the deepest and most mystic tatvas of Radha Krishna leelas and Manjari bhaav.

"Shri Guru charane rati, ei se uttama gati"

What is the best destination, spiritual achievement for a sadhak? The love and devotion at the lotus feet of Sri Gurudev is the highest and best spiritual achievement for a sadhak. Why? Because the mystical pastimes of Radha Krishna in Nivrita Nikunj (the most private chambers of the kunj) are imbibable only through the mercy of Guru. Radha Krishna also have the power to give Manjari bhaav, but they will not. The procedure is that only the Guru Manjari can bestow her mercy on a Sadhak Manjari, then Radha Krishna accept her in their lovely pastimes.

A sadhak finds and takes shelter in Guru with the mercy of Radharani. But finally, when she enters the Goloka Dham and reaches the Nikunj bhavan where Radha Krishna are seated together in a golden throne, due to the Mugdha (illusory power) effect of Yogamaya, Radharani thinks that she has seen the sadhak manjari for the first time. Transcendental pastimes cannot be accomplished without this illusory effect of Yogamaya. If Radharani would remain Sarvagya (one who knows everything), there will be no fun or amazement in the pastimes. She would know where Krishna is, therefore not experience separation from him, and neither experience the tremendous joy of meeting him again. All the pastimes are conducted by Yogamaya and everyone, including Radha Krishna, are made to think that they are simple cowherd boy and girls of Braj. Therefore, when the new manjari stands at the gate of Nikunj, Radharani is surprised to see her. She asks Lalita, "Sakhi, who is this new sakhi? Why do I feel such a strong pull towards her?" Lalita Sakhi looks at the Guru manjari. Guru manjari says, "Radharani, she belongs to me." Radharani is exhilarated to hear this. She beckons to the new manjari. Rup manjari holds the new manjari's hand and takes her to Lalita, and Lalita gives her to Radharani, who immediately embraces her as if she was a long lost dear friend. All the pains of innumerable trials and tribulations, the fire of samsaar that burned through innumerable births, get extinguished and cooled by her embrace. Radharani cries tears of love, holding the manjari to her heart. The tears wash away all pains of separation and the manjari gets intoxicated by the divine love of Radharani. This is achievable only by the mercy of Gurudev. That is why the devotion to his lotus feet is the best spiritual achievement.

On this day of Guru Purnima, we worship our Guru with utmost devotion and pray to him "O Gurudev, be pleased. Accept me at your lotus feet. I submit my heart and soul at your lotus feet. Cleanse my heart of false ego and pride, and make me pure so that I can serve you."

Gurudev will himself cause the devoted disciple to progress in bhajan. Just like a child knows nothing except his mother, the disciple just doesn't know anything other than and cannot leave his Guru. He contemplates his Guru, he prays to Guru, he worships his Guru in all forms of devis and devas, all transcendental entities are forms of his Guru for him, he knows nothing except Guru. And just like a mother always takes care of her little child, feeds and baths him, keeps him nearby whatever other works she has to do, similarly, Guru also always takes care of such a devoted disciple in all situations, whatsoever.

There was a disciple of Adi Shankaracharya named Padpadma (the name was later given to him). He was a simple person, uninterested in the highly intellectual discussions of Vedanta, and was always engaged in service of Guru and sometimes, his godbrothers. No one thought much of him since in Gyan marga, studying the scriptures of Vedanta is very important for acquiring Gyan (the ultimate knowledge). In Bhakti marga, a sadhak needs to hold the lotus feet of Guru and Govind and cry "I don't know anything. I am most fallen. Please save me from this samsaar ocean. Please take me in your shelter." The sadhak need not know anything. That is why it is the simplest road to enlightenment. But in Gyan marga, scriptural knowledge is must. So, everyone started treating the simple disciple of Shankaracharya as a servant. The disciple would wash everyone's clothes, clean the ashram, look after the cows, etc. During the Vedanta lectures, he would join his hands in humble obeisance and listen to his Guru with tears of joy and contentment. He understood nothing and yet, he was most glad to hear his Guru speak on the philosophies of Vedanta. One day, while he was away washing the kaupin and utensils of his Guru by the river, Shankaracharya had assembled all his disciples to speak on a grave and deep topic of Vedanta in his ashram. Not seeing the disciple there, he asked another disciple to fetch him to the lecture. The other disciples, who were excited to hear the topic, were annoyed that such a grave discussion is being held off for a person who seemingly isn't interested and has no knowledge about. But Shankaracharya waited till he arrived to the assembly and looked at him eagerly and enquiringly with joined hands. Then Adi Shankaracharya said to the assembly, "Today, this grave and deep topic of Vedanta will be explained not by me, but my disciple here." All the disciples started laughing, thinking that Shankaracharya was joking out of sarcasm. But Shankaracharya said, "Don't laugh. I am not joking. My disciple here is going to explain this highly mystic and complicated topic to you all. Please pay attention." Saying this, he looked at the simple disciple standing beside him with joined hands. The disciple paid his obeisances to his Guru and started speaking so beautifully, illustriously and by breaking the complicated matters in simple words, that all the disciples of Shankaracharya sat stupefied in awe. Such is the power of the mercy of Guru. One need not doubt his powers, his glories, just have utmost faith and devotion on your Guru and you will achieve everything.

"Sri Guru bhakta jan, tahaar charane man, 
Aropiya katha anusaare."

Meaning: Associate with only a bhakta of Guru. Keep your mind fixed on the feet of such a person. And try to follow his words in your life.

Why associate with only a Guru bhakta? Others who are Krishna bhakta and are engaged in devotion should not be associated with? No. If someone is Krishna bhakta but not Guru bhakta, then he will surely mislead you. Because without the mercy of Guru, the correct siddhantas of scriptures cannot possibly be acknowledged by the sadhak. His association will surely mislead others. You may ask, if the Guru bhakta is not learned in scriptures, then? Still, associate with him, because all the scriptures will be revealed in his heart by Guru, whether he reads any scripture or not. Follow his words without doubt.

The mercy of Guru is not biased, but still the amount of devotion and yearning of a disciple attracts the compassion of Guru. Therefore, there are three degrees of the mercy of Guru: Sadharan mercy, Vishesh mercy and Atyantiki mercy. Sadharan mercy is the mercy of Guru bestowed equally on all. The Guru is the well wisher of all his disciples. Even the disciple who visits once in a year, gives 20 - 25 rupees to Guru (because he 'should') and is satisfied with this association for another year, is atleast in the shelter of Guru and Guru blesses him to progress in his spiritual path at his own pace. Vishesh mercy is when a disciple visits Guru frequently and tries to serve his Guru and associate with him. Then Guru also starts missing him out of compassion whenever he is not able to come for sometime. Guru remembers him time and again, showering his mercy on him. But Atyantiki mercy is when the disciple doesn't know anything other than his Guru, whether he visits Guru or stays at home, and follows his every word with all his heart. While eating, sleeping, sitting, standing, he always remembers his Guru. Then Guru also remembers him always in his heart, prays especially for him to Radharani and his mercy takes care of him always. Such Guru bhakta is very rare in this world. Devotion to Krishna is difficult. Faith in Guru is also difficult. But Ananya Nishtha in Guru is rare. My heartfelt obeisances to such Guru bhaktas!

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