Saturday, February 15, 2014

Nityananda and Guru-Tattva (Srila Sridhar Maharaj)

Excerpt from Sri Guru and His Grace
By Srila Sridhar Maharaj

The Original Guru

The original spiritual master is Nityānanda Prabhu. He is the general representation of guru. In the spiritual world, he is the guru-tattva principle in the four primary mellows of devotion, excluding the conjugal mellow. In mādhurya-rasa, Baladeva's representation is Anaṅga Mañjarī, the sister of Rādhārāṇī.

The position of Nityānanda is greater than that of Baladeva.


He is distributing prema, divine love.

And what is prema?

It is higher than all other achievements. If one can give divine love, then all others must be subordinate to him. If Kṛṣṇa is subordinate to Mahāprabhu, then of course, Balarāma is subordinate to Nityānanda. They are similar, but when magnanimity is added, Balarāma becomes Nityānanda. That Balarāma who can distribute divine love, who can perform that higher function has come here as Nityānanda. Our foundation must be solid and proper. Then the structure should be erected. Otherwise the whole thing will go down (heno nitāi vine bhāi, rādhā-kṛṣṇa pāite nāi*). We can get a solid foundation from Nityānanda Prabhu.

One day Nityānanda Prabhu came to Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s house in Māyāpura. Mahāprabhu’s mother, Śacīdevī, and Viṣṇupriyā devī, his wife, were also there, as well as other devotees. Suddenly, Nityānanda arrived, quite naked.

Mahāprabhu managed to give him some cloth. And perhaps He was concerned that the devotees might have some misconception about Nityānanda Prabhu. So, to prevent this he asked Nityānanda Prabhu for his kaupīna, his loincloth. He tore it up and distributed it amongst the householders that were present, instructing them:

"Keep a piece of his loincloth, as a kavaca, an amulet, and tie that with a thread to your arm or wear it around your neck. Please keep it with you. Then you will be able to achieve sense control very soon."

Nityānanda Prabhu has control of his senses to the extreme degree; he does not know anything of this world. His vairāgya, indifference to the world of mundane transaction, is of such a degree that he can appear naked amongst both male and female. So, the grace of Nityānanda Prabhu will construct a firm foundation for us. If there is a firm foundation, then we may build a great structure over it. If we have faith in Nityānanda, then that faith can bear any amount of weight. It won't betray us.

So, Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Prabhupāda has laid stress amongst the Westerners on devotion to Nityānanda. First, we must get His mercy. And then, afterwards, we can get the mercy of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu means Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa (śrī-caitanya, rādhā-kṛṣṇa nahe anya). First achieve the mercy of Nityānanda Prabhu, and then Gaurāṅga Mahāprabhu, and then Śrī Rādhā Govinda. In these three stages, we must raise ourselves up.

Devotee: How does one attain the mercy of Lord Nityānanda?

Śrīla Śrīdhara Maharaja: One who finds more inclination to serve Gaurāṅga and his dhāma, his transcendental land, and his servants can get the mercy of Nityānanda Prabhu. Nityānanda is very much kind to one who has some special tendency towards gaura-līlā.

"Take the Name of Gaurāṅga!"

Nityānanda Prabhu walked from door to door in Bengal, saying:

"Take the name of Gaurāṅga! I'll become your servant. You can purchase me if you only take the name of Gaurāṅga. I'll be sold to you without any price or condition."

That was his temperament. When Mahāprabhu was in Purī, he sent Nityānanda Prabhu to Bengal. At that time, he said:

"Without you I don't find anyone who can spread the holy name of Kṛṣṇa, or devotional service to Kṛṣṇa, in Bengal. They are more engaged in the tantric method and the smṛti. They make too much of these trifling things. They are puffed up, thinking that they have finished all knowledge. So, Bengal is a very hard field for preaching. Without you, no one will be able to awaken the masses. Separate yourself from the higher castes and approach the masses with the holy name of Kṛṣṇa. You are the fittest person for this work."

Nityānanda Prabhu went to Bengal, but without trying to preach the glories of the holy name of Kṛṣṇa, Nityānanda began to preach the name of Gaurāṅga. Nityānanda Prabhu found that there is some danger of thinking that Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes are very much akin to the mundane debauchery, lying, and stealing of a degraded soul. Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes are of a highly confidential nature. It is very difficult for the masses to understand the purity of kṛṣṇa-līlā. The mass mind cannot accept kṛṣṇa-līlā as the highest attainment. So, Nityānanda Prabhu found it would be difficult to preach kṛṣṇa-līlā, but he found it would be easy to preach gaura-līlā, where Kṛṣṇa has come to distribute himself to the public with so much capital in his mind.

Gaurāṅga means a dynamo which wants to distribute Kṛṣṇa, surcharged with the most magnanimous, intensified, pity and kindness for the ordinary people, with the greatest affection even for the criminals. Nityānanda Prabhu wanted to bring them in connection with Gaurāṅga, for then kṛṣṇa-līlā would automatically be within their fist. So, he began to preach about Gaurāṅga, not Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, as commanded by Mahāprabhu. So, Nityānanda Prabhu says:

bhaja gaurāṅga kaha gaurāṅga laha gaurāṅgera nāma re

(Bhaja Gaurāṅga, Premānanda Dāsa)

"Worship Gaurāṅga, speak only of Gaurāṅga, and chant the name of Gaurāṅga."

There is another instance of the relationship between Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma and Gaurāṅga and Nityānanda, which is described in the Caitanya-bhāgavata:

Śacīdevī had a dream that Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma were sitting on a throne, and Nityānanda was fighting with Balarāma:

"Come down from the throne. It is no longer Dvāpara-yuga. The age of Kali has come and my master Gaurāṅga must occupy your position on this throne. You come down!"

Balarāma began giving some opposition.

"No, no, why should we come down? We have been sitting on this throne for such a long time."

Nityānanda Prabhu began forcibly taking him down, and Balarāma submitted slightly. Nityānanda Prabhu said:

"My master Gaurāṅga wants to take the position now. The age for him has come."

So Nityānanda is very partial to Gaurāṅga. He says:

"Kṛṣṇa is far off. My Lord is Gaurāṅga."

So, we must be very grateful to Nityānanda Prabhu, for he is our guru. And guru's grace is so important that Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī says:

"Rādhārāṇī, I want your grace. Without you, I don't want Kṛṣṇa separately. I never want Kṛṣṇa without you."

That should be the healthy attitude of a devotee. This has been explained by
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, in his Gurvāṣṭakam:

yasya prasādād bhagavat-prasādo
yasyāprasādān na gatiḥ kuto’pi
dhyāyaṁ stuvaṁs tasya yaśas tri-sandhyaṁ
vande guroḥ śrī caranāravindam

“I bow down to the lotus feet of Śrī gurudeva. By his grace, we achieve the grace of Kṛṣṇa; without his grace, we are lost. Therefore, we should always meditate on Śrī gurudeva, and pray for his mercy."

This is the position of Śrī guru, by whose grace we can get everything, we can get the grace of Kṛṣṇa, and without whose grace, we have no other prospect. So, in this way, we must have reverence for he who has given us our first connection with Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

Guru Is Not a Doll

But at the same time we offer reverence to gurudeva, we must not conceive that the guru is a doll, a lifeless figure. Because we are familiar with a particular figure and accept that as our guru we should not become misled. The important thing is what he says, his instructions. That is attracting our inner hearts. I am not this body. I am the inquirer. That thing which is satisfying me, drawing the inquirer to the inquired - I must try to locate that thing in him. I must not rely on material calculation. I am not this body.

Who am I, the disciple?

Am I only this body, this figure, this colour, this caste?

Or am I this temperament, this scholarship and intellectualism?


I am he who has come to seek.

Who is the party within me, and who is the party in guru?

We must be fully awake to that.

What is the inner thing?

I have come for that. We must be awake to our own interest.

There is the relative principle and the absolute principle. We shall have to eliminate the form, ignore the form; we shall always have to keep the spirit. Otherwise, we become form worshipers, idol worshipers.

Guru: More than Meets the Eye

It is said, of course, that the connection with the spiritual master is eternal (cakṣu-dāna dilā jei, janme janme prabhu sei**). But we must not identify our guru with the appearance we perceive with our physical senses. Our inner identification of him will be clarified according to the growth of our vision. When our vision increases and takes shape from material to transcendental, his look will also change accordingly.

A man is sometimes known most externally, by his uniform, and then by his body, then by his mind, then by his intelligence. As much as our eye will develop to see things rightly, what we are seeing will also change its face. Kṛṣṇa says:

ācāryaṁ māṁ vijānīyān
(Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 11.17.27)

"Ultimately it is I who am the ācārya [teacher].”

It is the function of divinity, and in different stages there may be different forms. Different ācāryas may work at the same time. The knowledge, the ideal, is growing from subtle to gross. And the depth of the vision of the eye will disclose the different figures of the different ācāryas. It will go in different rasas to the highest position, by a gradual process of realisation. Otherwise our knowledge will be based on the material conception. And to force the material conception onto divinity is a crime, it is ignorance, and it is erroneous.

We have to free ourselves from the snare of identifying reality with the physical form presented to our senses. The eyes deceive us; they cannot give us the proper form or colour. The ears cannot give us the proper sound. The concrete reality is beyond the experience of our senses.

So, then what is that thing?

Because we are in such a low position, we can gradually go there to the inner world only with the help of our guru.

But how can we recognise our guru?

Sometimes in the winter he wears a particular dress, and in the summer he wears another dress.

If we attach so much importance to the external dress, then what should we do?

Should we think that the dress is indispensable to the body?

The guru may come to us in a particular body. Suppose the guru appears as a young man.

When he has become an old man, and the young form has grown into another form, how are we to recognise him?

How are we to differentiate?

Again, in one birth, he may have come in a particular body, and another time, he may appear in a different body. The same guru may appear differently at different times.

How are we to recognise him?

From the external consideration we must go to the internal.

If I am devoid of flesh and blood, and I exist only in a subtle body, then I shall also find my guru there, in a subtle body. The demigods, gandharvas, and siddhas, the perfected beings in the heavenly planets, also have their gurus, but they do not have a material body, nor does their guru have a material body.

So, by eliminating the external conception, we have to enter into the internal, and that will be all-important to a progressive disciple. That does not mean that one should disregard the physical form of our guru. But the real importance is within. We must worship the remnants of the guru, his coat, his boot, his sandal. But that does not mean that his shoe is superior to his body; we must serve his person. In a similar way, if we are eager to do some physical service for him, if we want to massage his feet, but he does not desire that, and says:

"No, no, no!"

Then should we do that?

Our internal obedience to him will be higher. In this way, we have to make progress from the gross to the subtle.

Who is guru?

Where is he to be located?

What is his ideal?

What does he really want me to do?

These things must not be dismissed from our ears. We must not give only formal adherence. We want the spiritual way. The spiritual man is going to the spiritual world to have the spiritual realisation. It is all a spiritual transaction. And all conceptions of mundane, whether physical, mental, or intellectual, should be eliminated in our journey if we want to go to the inner world of substance.

Progress Means Elimination and Acceptance

This attitude will decide our real progress, our real design of life. Our fulfilment comes always from the inner side. If one can catch up that thread, then he can go and get things of that higher, spiritual quality. We may appreciate the beautiful figure, style, movement, and intellectual delivery of the spiritual master, and so many other things may be appreciable.

But what should be the highest focal point of our realisation?

What should be our highest aim, for which we will eliminate everything else?

Progress means elimination and acceptance. And our spiritual life must always be a dynamic thing, otherwise we shall be dead. Progress means acceptance and elimination. The scientists also say this in their theory of natural selection:

"Survival of the fittest."

Nature is selecting some and eliminating others. Life is dynamic; we are living in a dynamic world. Everywhere we find acceptance and elimination. That is progress. And our life must be progressive, not static.

To get the grace of Nityānanda Prabhu, we should try as far as possible to study the character of Śrī Gaurāṅga Mahāprabhu, to serve him, to serve his dhāma, and his devotees. That will easily help us attain the grace of Nityānanda Prabhu. And there will always be so many practical dealings in our present stage, but we must always keep the highest ideal over our heads. With this ideal we shall be able to make progress. Our ideal, our highest model-- that is our all in all in life. To be acquainted with the conception of the highest ideal and to be on the path of realisation of that goal is the greatest wealth in one's life.

Śrīla Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī prays:

"I only aspire after one thing. I cherish the hope that one day I may be welcomed into the plane where Rādhikā and Mādhava are in their glory, sitting and playing."

That should be our prospect. This is found in Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī’s prayer to his guru. He says:

nāma-śreṣthaṁ manum api śacī-putram atra svarūpaṁ
rūpaṁ tasyāgrajam urū-pūriṁ māthurīṁ goṣthavāṭīm
rādhā-kuṇḍaṁ giri-varam aho! rādhikā-mādhavāśāṁ
prāpto yasya prathita-kṛpayā śrī guruṁ taṁ nato’smi 

(Śrī Mukta-caritam, Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī)

"I am fully indebted to Śrī gurudeva.


He has given me so many things. He has given me the highest conception of the holy name of Kṛṣṇa, the highest form of sound which contains the highest form of thought, aspiration, ideal, everything. And next he has given me the mantra. “

The name is there within the mantra. Without the name, the mantra is nothing. If the name of Kṛṣṇa is withdrawn and replaced with another name, the mantra will give the opposite result. The name of Kṛṣṇa is all in all. And within the mantra, the name is couched in a particular way as a sort of prayer.

And then he says:

"He has given me the service of that great saviour, the son of Mother Śacī, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, who is like a golden mountain standing to show the direction of kṛṣṇa-līlā. And gurudeva has brought me to the lotus feet of Mahāprabhu’s most favourite personal assistant, Svarūpa Dāmodara, who is the representation of Lalitā devī, the most favourite friend of Rādhikā.”

"Then he has brought me in connection with Śrī Rūpa, who was ordered to distribute the highest kinds of devotional love, rasa.”

Vaidhī bhakti, the worship of the Lord in awe and reverence, is of a lower order. But rāgānuga-bhakti, spontaneous love, the hearts innermost dealings, was distributed through Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī. Mahāprabhu considered Śrī Rūpa the best to deal with rāgānuga-bhakti.

Dāsa Gosvāmī says:

"Then, by his grace, I have achieved the association of Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī, who adjusts our position in relation to rāgānuga-bhakti.

“He explains the path of vaidhī-bhakti, and gives us sambandha-jñāna: the knowledge of what is what, a proper acquaintance with the environment."

Then he says:

"Gurudeva has given me Mathurā Maṇḍala, where Rādhā and Govinda have their pastimes; where the forest, the hills, every creeper, shrub, and grain of sand, everyone is bearing the acquaintance of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa līlā, and wherever I shall cast my glance they will help me in my remembrance of Rādhā and Govinda. I have received all these things from my gurudeva: Vṛndāvana, where the cows and the milkmen have their village constructed. I am becoming acquainted with their association, their nature, and their feelings of love for Kṛṣṇa.”

"By the grace of gurudeva, I have become acquainted with Rādhā-kuṇḍa, the favourite place of Rādhā and Govinda for their pastimes, and this great Govardhana. And lastly he has given me the hope that one day I can get the service of Śrī Śrī Rādhikā and Mādhava. I have been given all these assurances by my gurudeva, so I bow my head with all my respects to his lotus feet.

So, if we are conscious of all these spiritual matters, then we can think that we have approached our gurudeva properly.

What is our guru?

What is his mission?

It is filled with all these things.

Devoid of that, what is our interest?"

 * Śrī Nityānanda-Niṣṭhā—Nitāi-Pada-Kamala - Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura
** Prema-bhakti-candrikā, Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura

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