Saturday, October 13, 2018

Contemplations on Guru-Tattva

by Patita Pavana das

Krishna consciousness is still quite young in the West. Only 50 years ago, Srila Prabhupada came and made it known around the world. That is just 2 generations, given a generation of 25 years. Therefore, there are still many misconceptions about the concept of Guru-Tattva and how it reveals itself in this world.

If you first consult the Bhagavad Gita, you can see that the original Guru or spiritual master is Krishna Himself. In one verse it is said that remembrance, knowledge and forgetting come from Him. That means then, that everything anyone in this world could know has its origin in Him. He is Bhagavan and Bhagavan is described in the Tattva-Sandharba by Jiva Goswami as Lord of all energies. He works through his energies, and the original energy from which every other emerges is Srimati Radharani.

Guru-Tattva is a work of Radharani, through which She reveals Krishna. Only through the will of Guru-Tattva can we know Him, otherwise not. As Srila Sridhar Maharaj said, "The finite cannot know the infinite, but the infinite would not be infinite if He could not make Himself understood by the finite." And if that understanding is going on, this revelation, then this transaction takes place through Guru-Tattva.

Guru-Tattva has complete freedom. Therefore Guru-Tattva can take place in any form, reveal in any way. There are no restrictions. At the times when such transactions occur through a person thanks to the mercy of Guru-Tattva, that person functions as a spiritual master or guru. The discretion, when and how this takes place, lies solely with the Guru-Tattva. Wherever Guru-Tattva wants to manifest itself through a person, revelation takes place. The guru is therefore not in this position by himself, but by the empowerment of Radharani. The guru functions as a transparent medium through which Radharani reveals Krishna.

This revelation manifests itself in its recipients first as Shraddha, transcendental trust. Srila Sridhara Maharaj says, "Faith is the halo of Radharani." This wonderful touch of Radharani's radiance manifests as a desire to surrender to Krishna. In the beginning, this desire is still very weak and obscured by other interests. Through sadhana this desire can be strengthened and freed from our provincial interests. Sadhana is only possible in connection with Guru-Tattva, because through Guru-Tattva the path of spiritual progress is revealed to us. We are totally dependent on Guru-Tattva in our efforts along this path.

Srila Sridhara Maharaj, in his book "Sri Guru and His Grace," describes that in the person of Guru, there is the absolute aspect, the manifestation of Guru-Tattva, and the relative, human aspect. Both aspects, the manifestation of Radharani's mercy and love and the individual soul exist in parallel in one and the same place, the person guru. In order to get in contact with the absolute aspect, the Guru-Tattva, a certain inner attitude is required. The Bhagavad Gita says: "One should turn to a spiritual master and ask him questions in a submissive attitude...". This submissive attitude is necessary because only in this attitude is our mind open to new things, ready to learn. If we approach the guru with a preconceived opinion and without the desire to be humbled by divine revelation, contact with Guru-Tattva will remain closed to us, as Krishna never restricts our free will. Only when we approach the guru with the corresponding desire for revelation can this nectar river of divine love flow to us. Srila Sridhara Maharaj says: "To the extent that we seek Krishna in the guru, Krishna will reveal Himself to us through the guru."

It is said that it is an offense to regard the guru as an ordinary person. It is a mistake that one only too easily commits as a conditioned soul when one focuses on the relative, human side of the guru. To err is human. Therefore, one will inevitably find imperfections in the human side of the guru. One may become confused and even come to the conclusion that the guru is not a guru. However, this is a great mistake that prevents us from approaching the absolute aspect of the guru. The harsh term of offense is used, but it is not inappropriate in this context. The touch of Radharani's effulgence is a causeless mercy, and mercy means you get something you do not deserve, a gift. And this supreme gift of the promise of and connection with the source of all love and the path to our real home is so great and is given to us out of pure love, that every form of rejection means harshness. Hence the term offense.

It is said in various contexts about the fall of a guru. The guru person is a guru because Guru-Tattva chose him as a means to contact us. One should not believe that the presence and temporary visibility of the guru's human side is a fall on his part. This is confirmed in the Bhagavad Gita 9.30. The fall of a Guru can only be spoken of when Guru-Tattva withdraws from the person. Then the person becomes overpowered from the human side and the sincere souls can no longer get in connection with Guru-Tattva through him.

Wherever a transaction of Shraddha, devotional service and inspiration thereto takes place, Guru-Tattva acts. Therefore, Guru-Tattva manifests in so many different kinds of guru: Diksha-Guru, Shiksha-Guru, Vartma-Pradarsaka-Guru, etc. The guru teaches by example, and therefore the pure souls see a guru in each devotee, the presence of Guru-Tattva. This is the ultimate view; being able to perceive Krishna anywhere, anytime. If we try to gain this view, we will very quickly make spiritual progress.

Translated from German by Satyavrata Muni das. The original can be found here:

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