Śrīla Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj describes the fortune of the soul with and without the grace of Śrī Guru.
Śrī Guru Pūjā
Translated from the Bengali editorial published in Śrī Gauḍīya Darśan, Volume 2, Issue 4, on Tuesday, 13 November 1956, in honour of the appearance day of Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣak Śrīdhar Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj.
On the eleventh of Kārtik in Śrī Chaitanya Sāraswat Maṭh on the auspicious sixty-second appearance day of Om Viṣṇupād Paramahaṁsa Parivrājakāchārya-varya Aṣṭottara-śara-śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Rakṣak Śrīdhar Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj, our “Śrī Guru Pūjā” or “Vyāsa Pūjā” festival was celebrated through the endeavours of the association of Śrī Chaitanya Sāraswat Maṭh’s servitors and the presence and service offerings of numerous distinguished persons.
In all of the scriptures, Śrī Gurudev has been glorified as being “nondifferent from Lord”. When the Lord eagerly appears before us, the troubled souls, to bless us, we behold Śrī Guru’s form and become fortunate.
We are extremely troubled souls. Our forgetfulness of our true selves is so severe that although we are disgusted with our extremely painful acts of aversion [to the Lord], we cannot even slightly cast our eyes towards the direction of cutting away the illusion of that aversion. We are so absorbed in our relationship with our body, this bag of flesh and bones, that nothing comes into our thoughts without relation to it. And thus, we do not think of anything except the body.
Why has this happened? Why are we undergoing this sort of worldly suffering—hellish suffering? Why are we not able to satisfy ourselves even after endeavouring from sunrise to sunset, day and night? Why are our great endeavours for happiness all fruitless? Why are there only outbursts of discontent all around me? Why doesn’t the curtain drop on this heart-rending scene for troubled souls like me? Why? Why is the heavy current of this world so cruelly oppressing all of the souls here? Can we even once calmly enquire about the reason for this? And why can’t we?
We are unfortunate. “Bhūte paśyanti barbarāḥ [“Fools see through the past].” We are not only unfortunate, rather, we are ungrateful. It is said, “One sings the glories of whose salt one eats.” Yet we eat the salt of one, and sing the glories of another. Therefore, truly, we are ungrateful.
Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmṛta expresses the essence of all of the scriptures:
kṛṣṇera ‘taṭasthā-śakti’ ‘bhedābheda-prakāśa’
ataeva māyā tāre deya saṁsārādi-duḥkha
Consider Māyā Devī’s list of illusory activities and daunting power. Yet is she at fault in this matter? It will be made more clear in the following verses:
nikaṭastha māyā tāre jāpaṭiyā dhare
daṇḍya-jane rājā yena nadīte chubāya
māyā-grasta jīvera haya se bhāva udaya
These verses show that the fault is the soul’s own. So we understand that the soul has become bewildered before becoming possessed by Māyā. Otherwise, where is Māyā’s need to touch the pure soul? Thus, the devotee Rām Prasād said, “Svakhāta salile ḍube mari śyāmā [“O Durgā, I drown in water I myself have dug”].”
The Supreme Lord is the supreme conscious being. And He is not only a conscious being: He is sat-chit-ānanda. Sat means eternal, chit means conscious, and ānanda means joyful—an ocean of rasa. In Śrīla Rūpa Goswāmī’s language, [He is] the Akhila-rasāmṛta-mūrti [“the embodiment of the nectar of all pleasures”]. The soul is also eternal and anuchid-ānanda, minutely conscious and joyful. The soul is entitled to the fortune of the joy of service (sevā). The Lord’s service is the dharma of the soul’s own eternal self. Situated marginally, however, souls deviate from their duty, from their dharma, as a result of misusing their independence. When the soul becomes intent upon selfish enjoyment instead of the dharma of the self, that is, instead of the Lord’s service—the joy of service to the embodiment of happiness, the embodiment of joy [Kṛṣṇa]—Māyā Devī gets the chance to place her noose around the soul’s neck. And from then on, the soul, undergoing the results of forgetting the Lord, wanders throughout the material world (Māyāra naphara ha-iyā chira-dina bule (Pv: 6.4) [“The soul becomes Māyā’s slave and wanders indefinitely”]). The more the soul increases their search for selfish enjoyment in this way, the more they are battered in Māyā’s prison unceasingly.
chaurāśī lakṣa yonite karaye bhramaṇa
In this situation, how is an end possible? I will now explain not only that, but also how the soul gets into the previous situation.
sei jīva nistāre māyā tāhāre chhāḍaya
Deliverance from this predicament is only possible by the mercy of Māyā’s Master.
Māyā’s Master, the Supreme Lord, is benevolent—extremely compassionate. Thus, He is eager to deliver souls from this sort of inauspicious, offensive, miserable life; He cannot remain calm. Thus, from time to time, He is compelled to come to this conditioned world like one of us. Here a question can come: the Lord is omnipotent, therefore what need is there for Him to come? Certainly if He simply wills it, everyone can attain deliverance. The answer is that He does not exert force over the independence He has given the soul; this is His general practice. [The soul’s] independence is there so that the soul can attain the wonderful wealth of service. … The Lord is naturally filled with compassion. Thus He becomes like us, comes, and teaches everyone with His own behaviour all of the ways to attain Him. Only at this point, in close proximity to Him through His form as Gurudevatātma [Śrī Gurudev—our Lord and beloved], can we be offered to the Lord’s feet; this is also certainly attainable for fortunate souls. Śrīla Kavirāj Goswāmī has thus written,
guru-kṛṣṇa-prasāde pāya bhakti-latā-bīja
This is Śrī Gurudev’s external identity.
Actually, without the mercy of Śrī Guru, the soul cannot attain any spiritual fortune at all. Thus, Śrī Gurudev’s position is “varvarti sarvopari [“existing above all”].” Thus, the practice of worshipping Śrī Guru before worshipping the Lord is mandated. Thus, Gurudev’s capability to protect one even when the Lord becomes angry is renowned throughout the scriptures.
We are so averse, however, that we consider Śrī Guru Pāda-padma to be a mortal and simply increase our offensive mentality. We do even develop understanding of the Lord’s words of caution. The Lord says, “Know Śrī Gurudev to be My own nondifferent form, faithfully worship him, and thereby you will attain all fulfilment”, yet we, with behaviour the opposite of this, are becoming even more fallen. Nevertheless, Śrī Gurudev is the embodiment of intense compassion, the saviour of the fallen, and thus, despite our hundreds of offences, he does not stop consoling us.
We hear from beginning to end the teaching that the Lord’s power manifests on certain days. The appearance day of Śrī Guru, however, is more merciful than any other day. Śrī Guru Pāda-padma appears on one day of the year and with special affection blesses us by giving us the special opportunity to fully worship him. Not only those who can offer themselves to truly serve this holy day are fortunate, by their birth, “Vasundharā vā vasatiś cha dhanyā [“Their residence and community also become fortunate.”].”