Only One Guru in an Infinity of Forms

by Sriman Bhagavat Das

8 June 2006

Murali Krsna Swami has written an article about the difference between Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja and Srila Narayana Maharaja by quoting from a taped conversation of a darshan of Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja. He also casts aspersions upon what he calls those "so-called disciples (who) want to falsely promote the idea that Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja instructed his disciples and faithful followers to leave Prabhupada's ISKCON to join Narayana Mahraja's camp."

Murali Krsna Swami attempts to create the false impression in the minds of the reader that this difference means his Guru is good and Srila Narayana Maharaja is bad. However if we read the statements of Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja we will see that he never makes any ill reference toward Srila Narayana Maharaja he says the following: "Every individual has his own way. Understand? Yes. All individuals are not the same. Temperament is different. Yes. What is one's temperament, way, he takes that path. You follow your path, my path is different." So we should note how carefully he speaks about another Mahabhagavat making it clear that "Every individual has his own way all individuals are not the same." Murali Krsna Swami also put up another article from Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja stating that "There is no one like my Guru." insinuating that hearing and taking instructions from another guru no matter how exalted he is if he has a temperament different from your Guru this constitutes a lack of chastity on the part of the disciple in relationship with his diksha guru.

Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja talks about Srila Bhaktivinodes Dhara or path but where did he get the inspiration for his path. Well as Bala Dasa points out in his article Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura: "found the tender of that spark, Jagannatha Das Babaji, who was quietly, with a handful of renunciates dwelling on the very edge of the universe here on planet earth, receiving the current of the truth of Bhakti and allowing it to pool in their hearts as Babaji's. So Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura, guided by Yoga Maya to reconnect with the purest source of the Divine current, rejected his Ceremonial initiation "Diksa Guru", Bipin Vihari Prabhu, and accepted Siksa and thus the real Diksa, from Jagannatha Das Babaji" So the source of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura's inspiriation to preach all over the world came from a Bhajanandi not a preacher like Bipin Vihari Prabhu who used to do a lot of preaching in Bengal and Orissa. If you read some of the statements that Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura makes in his books and letters about Bipin Vihari Prabhu you will see that he did not reject Bipin Vihari Prabhu, the Thakura had great love and affection for him, but he found the siksha and spiritual inspiration that he was seeking in the Bhakti Current flowing from Srila Jagganatha Das Babaji. Does this mean that Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura was in conflict with what Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja states in his lecture "There is no one like my Guru"? I don't think so!

Sometimes taking siksha from someone has nothing to do with any so called difference in the path of your diksha guru and your siksha guru it is just about inspiration and association and seeing your guru's bhakti in that person no matter what their temperment is. Srila Gaura Kishore Das Babaji took diksha from someone in the line of Jhanavi Mata's Sampradaya coming from Lord Nityananda and babaji vesha from Bahagavat Das Babaji a disciple of Srila Jagganatha Das Babaji. However when they were gone he took siksha from Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura for the association and inspiration even though he was a babaji and Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura was a Grihastha. Was Goura Kishore Das Babaji being unchaste to his diksha and babaji guru's for doing so? I don't think so!

It appears that these two articles coming one after the other by Murali Krsna Swami demonstrates that he has an agenda and not just a selective memory. I say this because he could not possibly have forgotten the lecture his Guru Maharaja gave called "After the Guru Leaves" which clearly points out another part of the path that Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura set out for us by his instructions in his book Bhakti Tattva Viveka as follows:

"Even for Vaisnavas who are duly initiated into the genuine sampradaya the vastu-prabha or illumination of one's eternal identity arising from their diksha-mantra which they received from their diksha-guru, won't appear until they receive this svarupa-jnana by the mercy of a siksha-guru."

So the question Murali Krsna Swami has to ask himself is where is he presently situated. Has he already attained knowledge of his Vastu-prabha or the illumination of his eternal identity? Did Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja give him darshan of his own spiritual form and illuminate to Murali Krsna Swami what his spiritual form is and what service he is to perform to Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja in the Spiritual world? Has Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja done this for Murali Krsna Swami the way Srila Prabhupada did this for Srila Gour Govinda Swami? If he hasn't then he still needs the help of a siksha guru as per the instructions for the path or dhara of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura. If he has then he still needs a siksha guru to finish bringing him to prema from bhava as Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja indicates in the lecture after the guru leaves as follows:

"And the instruction of guru is also guru. You'll get guru-krpa through his instructions, vani. One who is very, very eager and very, very inquisitive, prays to his spiritual master, "O my spiritual master, you have departed. You are not physically present, so I cannot understand. I am such an ignorant fool. I have no qualification. Though your instructions are there, I cannot understand what you have said. Please help me."

"So guru will also come, but not in the same form. He may come in the form of a sadhu, a very dear devotee, who is also very dear to your spiritual master. Through him this will be revealed. Doubts will be cleared. Through him you will be able to understand tattva, purport. You should think, "My guru is teaching me, he is speaking to me in this form." Don't think, "My guru is not here. He has departed. What shall I do?" Pray fervently to your spiritual master. He must help you. We have personal experience. We have been helped in this way."

Now before Bala Das accuses me of putting words in Srila Gour Govinda Maharajas mouth let me explain why I said that the help he received was to bring him from bhava to prema although Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja does not state that here directly. First of all I was present in Bhubaneshwara when Srila Prabhupada illuminated Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja's Vastu-prabha to him. Secondly I was with Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja when a year and a half after Srila Prabhupada left he displayed all the ecstatic symptoms of the Bhava stage in Mayapur and I was one of the people who tended to him during that time. I had these symptoms confirmed by Srila Akinchana Krsna Basa Babaji Maharaja who examined Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja at my request. Therefore when Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja says "We have been helped in this way" this is what help he is indicating he received for himself. Now before Murali Krsna Swami accuses me of diminishing Srila Gour Govinda Maharajas position I want to say to everyone who is reading this article that they should know for a fact that Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja was a great mahapurusha confirmed as such by the Acahraya of the Ramanuja Sampradaya and so this entire thing is just Nara Vrata Lila or the human like pastimes of a great siddha mahapurusha and not to be confused with our own struggles for perfection but an ideal example of how to go about attaining perfection.

Which brings us back to the original point that I have been making all along in my critique of Dhira Govinda Prabhu and my response to Bala Das. That this activity of the illumination of ones vastu-prabha and receiving Krsna's darshan and Krsna Prema must be done in person as one associates with the manifest sadhu and hears the transcendental sound vibration from his lotus lips. Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja also confirms this by his life and these instructions above.

As far as the so called difference is concerned between Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja and Srila Narayana Maharaja the readers should take note that Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja was speaking based on one tape he heard or a few tapes but not all. Srila Narayana Maharaja certainly told them to do bhajan but that was so they could eventually receive Krsnas Darshan and Krsna Prema and then preach more effectively. The long term strategy was for them to become more effective preachers. Srila Bhakitisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura chanted one billion names of Krsna over the course of 7 years to prepare for establishing Gaudiya Matha. Srila Prabhupada spent years in Vrndavana doing bhajan and preparing to preach in the west. Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja did bhajan very deeply while I was there with him in Bhubaneshwara before he went preaching all over the world. So this is a tradition in our sampradaya first some bhajan and tapasya and realization and then preaching is more effective.

I know that someone is going to drag up that "preach now samadhi later" quote. Well guess what guys IT'S LATER! We are not 25 anymore we are 55 and it is time for us to follow the other instructions that Srila Prabhupada gave us about leaving family life after 50, taking vanaprastha and sannyas, and going to the holy places to do Bhajan and tapasya, and get some realization and then go out and preach again with some real potency behind it the way Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja both did. How many of us are going to follow their example and leave our families and prepare ourselves for our preaching mission instead of making plans to take care of grandchildren and improving our retirement income! All of us should try to not just give lip service to the words of our Acharya's but try to follow in their footsteps and follow the example that they set for us.

Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja's appreciation of Srila Narayana Maharaja's deep transcendental understanding of the siddhanta was demonstrated by a couple of stories given by Prem Prayojana Prabhu in a lecture of his about Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja given on the Maharaja's disappearence day as follows:

"I remember that Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja used to love Srila Gurudeva's books. If any devotees were going to Vrndavana, he would send them to bring all the books of Srila Narayana Maharaja. "If any new book has come out, bring it at once." At first the disciples were bringing only the English books because they did not know that there were Hindi books. Then he asked them to bring all the Hindi books also. When Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja would get a new book, he would stay up all night till he finished reading the book. When Venu Gita came out, Gaura Govinda Maharaja was so happy. He stayed up all night and read it from cover to cover. The next morning he said, "O my God! This Srila Narayana Maharaja is lifetimes ahead of me. In what life I will become like him I don't know." He kept all of Gurudeva's books in the bookcase right next to his bed.

One time someone asked him, "Which is your favorite dhama? Where do you like to do bhajana?" He said, "Sri Ksetra Puri Dhama, where I have done bhajana my whole life. I like this dhama." That person asked him, "Why don't you go to Vrndavana?" Gaura Govinda Maharaja answered, "I will stay here in Sri Kestra Puri. Bhakti Pramoda Puri Maharaja is in Navadvipa, and Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami is there in Vraja Mandala. So there is no need for me to go there." He was thinking, "There should be one powerful Vaisnava in each dhama. Then everything is okay." This was his conclusion."

So even though their may be so called apparent differences their is also appreciation of the exhalted transcendental position of Srila Narayana Maharaja by Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja and the feeling was mutual as Prem Prayojana Prabhu explains in the same lecture as follows:

"Now I want to tell something about Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja's Hari-katha. He was always very very inspired. At the time of speaking Hari-katha he would come with his stick and keep it by his asana. When Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja was giving class, everybody would fight to be in front. Why did the devotees want to be in front? They wanted to be within the range of his stick because during his lecture at any time he could pick up his stick and-boom-hit someone on the head. He would ask a question. "Do you know this verse?" "No." "Why not?" Boom! He would hit them with his walking stick. All the devotees would try to be far forward so that at least there would be a chance for getting his mercy.

One time Srila Gurudeva (Srila Narayana Maharaja) said that Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja was a saktyavesa avatara of Abhirama Thakura. Abhirama Thakura was an associate of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He had a whip and anyone he hit with his whip would get Krsna-prema. Srila Gurudeva said that the sakti of Abhirama Thakura came in Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja. Everyone was eager to be beaten by his stick so they could get Krsna-prema."

So they have a mutual feeling of appreciation of each others very exalted position. Any attempt to try and create division is just devotional service in the mode of ignorance and passion which creates a separatist mood which is firmly opposed to Srila Bhaktivinode Dhara.

Now someone may ask if Srila Narayana Maharaja was actually appreciated by Srila Prabhupada? Well let's see what Srila Prabhupada wrote to Srila Narayana Maharaja in his letters. This letter is dated September 28, 1966:

"Our relationship is certainly based on spontaneous love. That is why there is no chance of us forgetting one another. With the mercy of Guru and Gouranga may everything be auspicious for you. This is my constant prayer. From the first time I saw you I have been your constant well wisher. At his first sight of me Srila Prabhupada (Bhaktisiddhanta) also saw me with such love. It was in my very first darshan of Srila Prabhupada (Bhaktisiddhanta) that I learned how to love."

So Srila Prabhupada also felt deep love and affection for Srila Narayana Maharaja and ultimately engaged him in sending mrdanga, kartals, deities, books, and all other paraphernalia for preaching. In his last days Srila Prabhupada asked him to help his disciples to become more qualified after he was gone and to encourage the Gaudiya Mathas and ISKCON to work together.

Srila Prabhupada said "Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada ordered all of us to preach in Europe and America. That was his strong desire. His other desire was that we all work together to preach. I didn't waste a single moment. I tried my best, and to some extent it has been successful." His voice was choked with emotion as he continued to speak: "If we can work conjointly, then, as Sri Caitanya Mahäprabhu declared, this sankirtana movement has great possibilities." Then he told me, "I want you to help take care of my disciples. I want them to be good and qualified devotees. If they come to you, please care for them." "I pray to you that you will put me into my samadhi with your own hand. I don't want to take samadhi from anyone else's hands. I think you are the proper person ."

This was Srila Prabhupada's mood in the last days the mood of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura that all the Vaishnavas would preach together to in vaishnava prema in order to create vaishnava dharma that would be so beautiful and attractive that it would attract all the religions of the world to flow into it. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati thakura talks about this prediction in an article he wrote called "Thakura Bhaktivinode" as follows:

"Thakura Bhaktivinoda has predicted the consummation of religious unity of the world by the appearance of the only universal church which bears the eternal designation of the Brahma Sampradaya. He has given mankind the blessed assurance that all Theistic churches will shortly merge in the one eternal spiritual community by the grace of the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna Caitanya. The spiritual community is not circumscribed by the conditions of time and space, race and nationality. Mankind had been looking forward to this far-off Divine Event through the Long Ages. Thakura Bhaktivinoda has made the conception available in its practicable spiritual form to the open minded empiricist who is prepared to undergo the process of enlightenment. The key stone of the Arch has been laid which will afford the needed shelter to all awakened animation under its ample encircling arms. Those who would thoughtlessly allow their hollow pride of race, pseudo-knowledge or pseudo-virtue to stand in the way of this long hoped for consummation, would have to thank only themselves for not being incorporated in the spiritual society of all pure souls."

Murali Krsna Swami and all other Gaudiya Vaishnavas should pay attention to this quote of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura. These are the words of Jagad Guru Srila Prabhupada so please try to imbibe this mood of co-operation that was requested and predicted by Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura and confirmed by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura and requested by our own Srila Prabhupada before he left this world. This is devotional service in the mode of goodness and pure goodness. All of these forms of devotional service are explained by Kapila Dev in the 3rd Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam. Srila Prabhupada was once asked "You said that Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura did not finish his work in this world why?" Srila Prabhupada replied that "he left it for us to finish!" So lets fulfill this great prediction by Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura that all the Gaudiya Vaishnavas from all over the world will embrace in vaishnava prema and establish vaishnava dharma which will be so irrisistably attractive that all the religions of the world will flow into it. Unless all the Gaudiya Vaishnavas embrace in Vaishnava prema and display this all attractive love first for each other, then none of the other religions of the world will feel attracted to join if we continue to display the same separatist attitude that they already have to contend with in their own churches.

From now on lets think of how we can encourage communication and co-operation amongst ourselves instead of division and separation based on the hollow pride of race, pseudo-knowledge or pseudo-virtue which will stand in the way of this long hoped for consummation of the spiritual society of all pure souls.

Your Worthless Servant
Bhagavat Dasa

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