Rupanuga Guru Tattva

In honour of the appearance day of Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣak Śrīdhar Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj, we are posting a translation of a Bengali article written by Śrīla Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj in which he reveals the profundity of this occasion.

Originally Published in Śrī Gauḍīya Darśan
Volume 14, Issue 2, Tuesday, 1 December 1970

Śrī Gurudev is our most worshippable object. How so? Śrī Gurudev is not exactly our eternally worshippable beloved as is the Lord—Śrī Gurudev is more than Him. This is because the Lord is the nearest and dearest worshippable object of Śrī Gurudev, yet the jīva’s only medium for communication with the Lord is through Śrī Guru-pāda-padma and his service. Directly meeting the Lord is not the ultimate obtainment for the jīva, rather, service to the Lord through subservience to Śrī Guru (Gurvānugatya) is alone the true fortune of the jīva.

The mahājans have given a very beautiful analogy of the relationship between the jīva, Gurudev, and the Lord.

nārāyaṇo ’pi vikṛtiṁ yāti guroḥ prachyutasya durbuddheḥ
kamalasya jalād apaiti raviḥ śuṣyati nāśayati cha

They explain that the jīva is like a lotus, the Lord is like the sun, and Gurudev is like water. When a lotus is sheltered in water, the rays of the sun nourish the lotus and cause it to bloom. Yet when a lotus is pulled out of water, those very same sun-rays burn the lotus and cause it to dry up. Similarly, although the Lord is the cause of the supreme welfare of the jīva who is sheltered under Śrī Guru, the jīva who offends Śrī Guru, or leaves the shelter of Śrī Guru, is forever deprived of the Lord’s merciful glance. It is for this reason that Śrī Gurudev has been described in the scriptures as the mūl-āśray-vigraha (fundamental shelter of the jīva). Those who even slightly surrender themselves to Śrī Guru are greatly protected and highly qualified for devotion to the Lord.

Śrīla Narottam Ṭhākur has said,

āśraya laiyā bhaje    tāre kṛṣṇa nāhi tyāje
āra saba mare akāraṇa

[“Kṛṣṇa never abandons one who takes shelter of His devotee and engages in service. All others die in vain.”]

In fact, the extreme manifestation of the supremacy and glory of the āśray over the viṣay (the Lord) within the Rūpānuga-sampradāy is not seen anywhere else.

Śrīla Dās Goswāmī Prabhu has said,

āśā-bharair amṛta-sindhu mayaiḥ kathañchit
kālo mayāti-gamitaḥ kila sāmprataṁ hi
tan chet kṛpāṁ mayi vidhāsyasi naiva kiṁ me
prāṇair vraje na cha varoru bakāriṇāpi

Śrīla Narottam Ṭhākur has also said,

śrī rūpa-mañjarī-pada    sei mora sampada 
sei mora bhajana-pūjana 
sei mora prāṇa-dhana    sei mora ābharaṇa 
sei mora jīvanera jīvana

[“The feet of Śrī Rūpa Mañjarī are my fortune. They are my service and my worship. They are the wealth of my heart and my ornaments. They are the very life of my life.”]

The revolutionary conception we find in this verse and in this song, and its full manifestation in modern times between Āchārya-bhāskar Śrīla Saraswatī Ṭhākur and our Śrī Guru-pāda-padma, automatically increases the joy in the hearts of those who are truly sheltered under Śrī Guru.Where is there any comparison to Śrīla Saraswatī Ṭhākur’s expression of absolute earnestness for Śrī Gurudev, as found in the conclusion of his Anubhāṣya on Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmṛta? There he has written,

tā̐hara karuṇā-kathā    mādhava-bhajana-prathā
tulanā nāhika tribhuvane
tā̐ra sama anya keha    dhariyā e nara-deha
nāhi dila kṛṣṇa-prema dhane

[“There is no comparison within the three worlds to his merciful teachings of the practice of devotion to Mādhav. No one has ever assumed a human form and distributed the wealth of Kṛṣṇa-prem the way he has.”]

As Śrīla Dās Goswāmī Prabhu said with intense devotion (niṣṭhā) to his mūl-āśray-vigraha, “Oh Divine Mistress! I am maintaining my life up to now only in hope of obtaining Your mercy. Indeed, without Your mercy, I have no taste for even the mercy of Kṛṣṇa. Without You, Govinda is really nothing more than ‘Bakāri’ (a demon-killer) to me.”

The glory of the mūl-āśray-vigraha that has been proclaimed in this verse—it is as though that very same tune has taken on a different form in the verse of Śrīla Saraswatī Ṭhākur. It is as though his intense devotion for his mūl-āśray-vigraha has made him blind and he is thus unable to see anything apart from his Śrī Guru-pāda-padma—not even the higher āchāryas of his own sampradāy. He can see only his own āśray-vigraha. His devotion for his āśray-vigraha is that intense, and he is thus able to say,

tā̐ra sama anya keha    dhariyā e nara-deha
nāhi dila kṛṣṇa-prema dhane

[“No one has ever assumed a human form and distributed the wealth of Kṛṣṇa-prem the way he has.”]

We have also been fortunate to hear from the holy mouth of our Śrī Guru-pāda-padma that while speaking Hari-kathā to one servitor, Śrīla Prabhupād said, “Only Śrī Vṛṣabhānu Nandinī and my Śrī Guru-pāda-padma beautifully serve Kṛṣṇa at all times; I do not know, nor do I need to know, who else does or does not.” This is the ultimate example of devotion (niṣṭhā) to one’s mūl-āśray.

Śrī Guru-pāda-padma is the full manifestation of shelter (āśraya-tattva). The extent to which devotion to their Śrī Guru-pāda-padma makes the soul fortunate is incomprehensible for even liberated souls. ‘Sarva-siddhi karatale’ [‘All success in the palm of the hand’] or ‘muktira dāsītva prāpti’ [‘Obtainment of liberation as one’s maidservant’] are very insignificant notions.

To give us something of the identity of Śrī Rūp-Sanātan, Śrīla Baladev Vidyābhūṣaṇ Prabhu informs us,

govindābhidham indirāśrita-padaṁ hastastha-ratnādivat
tattvaṁ tattvavid-uttamau kṣiti-tale yau darśayāñ chakratu

The ability to show even the worshippable Supreme Lord Govinda at will like ‘hasthastha ratnādivat’ (‘a jewel in one’s hand’) that has been alluded to in this verse is also possible through subservience unto Śrī Rūpa (Rūpānugatya). Thus, the followers of the beautiful āchārya Lord Śrī Chaitanyadev, who is the inaugurator of saṅkīrtan and the origin of all devotion for Himself and its distribution to others, always flourish with the identification of being the followers of their Lord’s dearmost Śrī Rupa. They are not known as the Śrī Chaitanya-sampradāy. Where else is there such intense devotion to āśray? In truth, Rūpānugas do not even accept that the Lord is present in any place where the āśray-vigraha is not declared supreme. They say,

rādhā-bhajane yadi mati nāhi bhelā

kṛṣṇa-bhajana tava akāraṇe gelā
ātapa-rohita sūraya nāhi jāni
rādhā-virahita mādhava nāhi māni
(Gītāvalī: Rādhāṣṭakam, 8.1–2)

[“If you do not desire to serve Rādhā, your service to Kṛṣṇa goes in vain. We do not know the sun to be devoid of sunlight; we do not know Mādhav to be separate from Rādhā.”]

By the unconditional mercy of my Śrī Guru-pāda-padma, the light of the unparalleled glory of Śrī Guru-tattva is manifest in this world even to this day, and is bestowing divine vision upon those blinded by ignorance. I make my prostrate obeisance unto his lotus feet and earnestly submit this prayer: “Oh Gurudev! I do not even deserve to cast my eyes towards the light of your supramundane glory—I am that unfortunate and despicable. Therefore, oh saviour of the fallen! May you kindly bestow this mercy upon this fallen soul—that in some birth I can, as a particle of dust at Your lotus feet, obtain the fortune of constancy in Your service.”

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