by Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja
Devotee: I wanted to enquire as to how to recognise Guru, sastra, and sadhu.
Srila Guru Maharaj: We receive confirmation from our heart’s approval, our inner approval. We must trace it to there because that took me to my Guru. Guru is all in all, but who took me to my Guru? It was my inner sentiment, my inner guide. It did not like anything else in the environment but instead selected that advice. Many others do not care to come here, and many may ridicule this life, but what made me come here? I cannot deprecate that internal approval, consciousness and sincerity. Therefore that is an important factor and ultimately we have to depend on that internal consciousness the most. When collecting advice from the Scriptures and when seeking or relying on advice from a sadhu, the only thing that takes me there is my internal approval, my inner friend. If it were not for that I would not have come. Indeed, so many others do not come. So who has taken me to this plane?
na hi kalyana-krt kascid, durgatim tata gacchati
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita 6.40)
One who sincerely wants real good can never be deceived. When one is a real seeker of the truth, he can never be deceived. Krsna says: “My dear boy, one who is sincerely hankering after the truth can never come across misfortune. If apparently some misfortune comes to visit him along the way, that is to enhance his position for his improvement.”
Some sort of danger may come on our way but if we are sincere it will be as a test to us and when we will overcome that, it will be an addition to our glory. The temptations will be rejected and disarmed – but they will plead for us again.
So sincerity – sincere hankering after the truth – is needed if we are to go further. And that is made of sukrti – the grace of the divine agents who, by their nature, are wandering through this cursed land to help others who may not even know they are being helped.
Devotee: What are sravana-dasa and varana-dasa?
Srila Guru Maharaj: Sravana-dasa is when one is satisfied by first hearing the philosophy, teachings, etc., during probationary life. When one is satisfied with sravana he then comes to accept a guide, a Guru – and that is the stage of varana-dasa. He has the mood, “Now I am prepared to take formal admission in this line, and accept you as my leader. Now whatever you say, I must obey.” That is varana-dasa. At first there is acceptance of a clan such as Christianity, Mohammedanism, etc., to which someone has been introduced. After first accepting a creed, a person will be selected who will be able to satisfy me according to the principles of that creed. He will be able to give me the desired end of life. He is Guru. First the creed is accepted, then the guide.
Then beyond varana-dasa begins sadhana-dasa. Sadhana-dasa is the third stage, and it means to follow the practices under the guidance of our Guru. By following that we shall gain some realisations and attain a tangible position: “Yes, I feel that what was in the words and propaganda is now in my heart. My heart feels its touch.” And that stage is called prapana-dasa. Only after being thus established is one able to also distribute such things to others, and that stage is called apana-dasa. Without being established in prapana-dasa, only with the help of someone who is established there can we go to preach.
Devotee: Are there five stages?
Srila Guru Maharaj: Sravana, varana, and sadhana are within this camp. Then comes prapana – the tangible feeling, the position of oneself experiencing the thing – attainment. First we come in touch with that reality, then we become established in that real plane, and then we shall be able to distribute it to others – apana.
Devotee: When we have inner conviction, are we then safe? Also, does the external Guru help us to contact the Chaitya-guru, the internal Guru?
Srila Guru Maharaj: The external Guru – Mahanta-guru – not only helps us to contact the Chaitya-guru, but he helps to prepare us so we can infallibly read the direction of the Chaitya-guru. At first in a raw way we may receive direction from the Chaitya-guru, and that draws us to the Mahanta-guru. With the help of the Chaitya-guru we come to the Mahanta-guru. The Chaitya-guru helps us in a raw way, in a general way which is not very systematic and clear.
Coming to Mahanta-guru we feel, “Yes, with the help of my Chaitya-guru my internal hankering has been satisfied.” Then with the help of our Mahanta-guru we come to find that clear direction in our Chaitya-guru. They are helping one another. By the help of the Mahanta-guru our ability to read the Chaitya-guru becomes more clear, more skilfully developed. Our reading gof the innate Chaitya-guru becomes more clear as we become cleansed of the different thoughts and ideas mixed up from yogis, jnanis, karmis and so many other different sections. The Chaitya-guru will give us more adherence to the Mahanta-guru, and in this way they each help the other.
After receiving help from the Chaitya-guru we come to Mahanta-guru, but sometimes it may also happen that after accepting Mahanta-guru, the Chaitya-guru again becomes covered. The Mahanta-guru will then take the disciple and help him cleanse the dirt that has covered his Chaitya-guru. The Chaitya-guru may become buried by some anartha, or some Vaisnava-aparada but The Mahanta-guru will come to give relief.
Sometimes many may join the Mision and then go away. But the Guru does not allow them to easily leave. He tries his best to bring them back again and to a firm understanding: “Why have you gone away in order to search for other things?”
“The desire for money and the attraction of free mixing with the ladies disturbed me and drew me away.”
If the Mahanta-guru is genuine he will say that these particular desires should be removed. They are not the real objectives. For the good of the disciple he will explain the temporary nature of any connection with such things and how minor they are, and again try to reinstate him.
Some dirt may enter someone, but by the grace of the Gurus the dirt will be cleansed in no time and he will return to the real path.
“Don’t disturb yourself with these little, tiny, filthy things. Don’t go away in this way.” Many immature and unfit persons may join the Mission, so it is not impossible that some sort of anarthas may come again to attack. It is like a fight. Sometimes one party gains ground, and sometimes that same party is losing. And ultimately the real party will win the battle. It is a battle. In everyone’s heart there will be a battle because we are sadhakas not siddhas – we are not fully realised souls, but we are following the process to realisation.
Sometimes the devotees may feel defeated, and sometimes may even go mad. But on the whole they shall have to make progress. Therefore some sort of consideration and generosity should be allowed.
We should think that we are in a hospital where there are so many diseased persons. This is not a place where all the healthy people live – it is not possible. We are also patients and there are so many other patients. Patients are of different types: some may even die, and some may have a relapse. But ignoring all these facts, with real interest for my own health I must go on with the help of a doctor. Taking his help by following the proper prescribed medicine and diet, I will be cured. Just because so many others are getting worse or dying, does not mean that my own health must also deteriorate.
Another example is that in a school, all may not pass the examinations. Many will fail, but still a determined student must go on. We should not be discouraged from following the path of our eternal benefit just because of some unsuccessful candidates. I should not be cowed down by seeing this. I must be wakeful to the fact that this is my vital and only interest. I cannot just leave and go away.
Everyone may go, but I must fight single-handed with the enemy. All may fly away, but, because this is my vital interest, I will stay and fight single-handed with self-determination. Why? “Because I have already understood and realised this to be my vital interest., so I cannot go back.” If even once we find this to be deeply rooted within our heart, such determined resolve must come from within. We will find this to be the very thing we were searching after.
Devotee: Can a patient also become a doctor?
Srila Guru Maharaj: Yes. When he is fully cured, has studied about medicine, and has undergone the necessary education of a doctor, he may become a doctor.
It is necessary to be qualified and also appointed. You see, first of all it is necessary to be qualified, then by the appointment of the higher administration you can become a doctor in the hospital.
You may engage in private practice if you are qualified, but to become a doctor in a hospital you must have some sanction from above. In this way a sadhu can give assistance in several ways, but the Acharya, holding a big position, should have sanction from above. And that is prapana-dasa.
Devotee: Who will decide whether the patient is qualified to be a doctor?
Srila Guru Maharaj: External sanction is not necessary by letter, but he is to be already awake and fixed in the internal world. Inspiration will come from the internal world: “The people are suffering, and you have the medicine. You should distribute the medicine to the patients.” This may be seen in a dream, but while awake also, internal inspiration will come to you, and, because you know the medicine and you know the symptoms of the disease, irresistibly you will advance to help the patients. You have the medicine and you cannot but engage yourself in treating them. You will see this more clearly than daylight, more really than this word of experience.
People are suffering but you have the medicine. You used that medicine and you were cured. Now you find another to be suffering from the same disease. You have the cure in your hand, so why should you not apply it? What explanation do you have not to do so?
It will not be for making money that you will give the medicine, not for fame, but it will be due to the internal urge to help them. And you will find that the noble predecessors have also asked you to do so:
yare dekha, tare kaha ‘krsna’-upadesa
amara ajnaya guru hana tara’ ei desa
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta, Madhya 7.128)
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu instructed, “Whoever you meet, try to rescure them by talking to them about Krsna.” If there is a ditch and you see a man about to blindly fall into it, will you not try to save him? It is a natural feeling. When it is plain, so very plain that it will happen, but you don’t help him, then you will be responsible. This common sense may be applied. But we must be sincere.
The danger is that we must not be motivated by money, fame, or any worldly gain. Kanak, kamini, and pratistha are the three main disturbing elements that misguide us and draw us from this side to that. But when we are free from them, the street we walk shall be broad and clear.
God is good, and you will like to see everyone becoming good by getting God. God is good and God is great. When that superior type of thinking will be clear to you, all your activities will be controlled only by that one principle of life. And with that you will go on helping others with the firm faith that this must be given to all: “This is very tasteful. Please come to a safe position away from the danger-zone, and you will become happy.” The tasteful medicine will make people happy, and if that is actually in your possession you cannot but feel the urge within to help others.
With real knowledge all the general questions such as where we are to go, how to go, and why we should go, are to be solved in order to help others.
‘ke ami,’ ‘kene amaya jare tapa-traya’
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta, Madhya 20.102)
Who am I? Why am I troubled? And how can I achieve my desired end? These fundamental problems should be solved, and if you have the solution you must give it to others. “My friends, come and solve your problems!” That will be the mentality of a preacher – and found very intensely in an Acharya.
Devotee: Someone may have a sincere urge, but he may not be completely aware of the danger, and he himself may become infected.
Srila Guru Maharaj: The proper path follows a fine strategy: with the help of a higher agent he may approach, otherwise not. Without the help of a higher agent he will be nowhere, he’ll be lost. When he goes to cure a patient, if he will not be able to cure him, then the patient’s germ will attack him and he will also die with the patient. In that case he won’t be of any help and he should not approach. He should inform the higher doctor and ask for better medicine to help his serious patient. In the case of doubt that, “With my meagre medicine and meagre instruments I may not be able to cure this patient,” one should not venture to approach the patient, but instead he will appeal to the doctor of a higher position. This is very reasonable.
Following Mahaprabhu’s advice to help others, still it may be found in rare cases that the doctor approaches with a good heart to cure the patient, but himself dies. It is also not impossible, but not desirable. When one organised party approaches for relief-work, some soldiers may be sacrificed before obtaining victory. The victorious party will also have to incur some loss when fighting with the enemy. Similarly, in the Mission some soldiers may be asked to approach the rich men, and the women, therefore sometimes some may be lost. But their loss will be for the time being, and again they will come back. We expect them to come back again because once someone has a taste, he will not be able to forget that.
nehabhikrama-naso ‘sti, pratyavayo na vidyate
svalpam apy asya dharmasya, trayate mahato bhayat
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita, 2.40)
Whatever has been acquired is eternal – it cannot be destroyed.
kaunteya pratijanihi, na me bhaktah pranasyati
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita, 9.31)
The assurance is given by Krsna: “Even if he has come to Me only for the time being, he has taken some medicine before leaving, so he ultimately must come to Me again.”
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