His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad
I am paying my humble obeisance at the lotus feet of my beloved Gurudev Om Vishnupad Jagad-Guru Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj, as well as all the Vaishnav-vrinda, all the Vaishnav-mandala.
I believe that all the devotees of Chaitanya Saraswat Math all over the world follow the practising rules and regulations as much as possible, that they do what is necessary for their spiritual practice, what is in favour of devotion. Following what your mind tells you to do is not good at all for a devotee. Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj told our Gurudev, "Do not follow your mind. Follow me." Sometimes we think that we are doing so much service, but actually we do not know what is service and what is karma. If somebody wants to do something without permission of their Guru, without an instruction of their Guru, it will be karma, not service (seva).
বড় দুঃখ পাইয়াছি স্বতন্ত্র জীবনে ।
bado duhkha paiyachhi svatantra jivane
"I experienced only great distress in my independent life, but all my distress has gone far away when I accepted Your feet."
Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur says this. He says, "I had got so much sadness, so much sorrow, so much unhappiness when I was independent, but it was all gone when I surrendered at the lotus feet of Gurudev, surrendered to Lord Krishna." We must have surrender. Surrender (saranagati) comes through faith, and it is the most important thing for our spiritual life. Saranagati, surrender, is not only saying by mouth that "I have surrendered." Not like this. Surrender, Gurudev said, means you are paying obeisance to your Guru, and your eyes, your head, your hands, everything is down on the ground, and you are giving your Guru a sword, or a knife, and say, "You can kill me, you can do whatever you like, I am fully surrendering to you." But how do we do full surrender? Almost everyone gives their full obeisance to Gurudev, but inside they have so many desires of their own. Surrender means we should have no desire of our own, no desire for anything for ourselves. Your desire should be Gurudev's desire. You cannot defend yourself—you must be a surrendered soul, not a defender.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur writes in his books, and I saw it also in one of Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj's books: we have been listening to all kinds of elements—kama, krodha, etc. (lust, anger, etc.)—we became their servant, and so many problems, so much unhappiness, so much sadness came to us then. When you surrender fully, do not take anything on your shoulder, give everything to your Guru, give everything to your Lord, then you can understand how much pleasure, how much happiness you can get. You will see how happy you will be if you do that.
Still, we cannot understand it. Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur says,
ষড়ঙ্গ শরণাগতি হইবে যাঁহার ।
sad-anga saranagati ha-ibe yahara
"Sri Krishna hears the prayers of those who surrender in the six-fold way."
(Saranagati, 1.5, by Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur)
Sad-anga saranagati means there are six types of saranagati:
দৈন্য, আত্মনিবেদন, গোপ্তৃত্বে বরণ ॥
dainya, atma-nivedana, goptrtve varana
"(1) Humility; (2) self-submission; (3) accepting the Lord as your guardian and master; (4) maintaining the faith that 'Krishna will certainly protect me’; (5) Engaging only in activities that are favourable to devotion; (6) rejecting everything unfavourable to devotion."
(1) Dainyata, humility. (2) Atma-nivedanam, surrender. (3) Goptritve varan, Krishna is the protector, He looks after us, He will save us. (4) Avasya raksibe, we must have faith that Krishna will protect us. (5) We must accept what is favourable to devotion (bhakti-anukul). (6) We must reject what is unfavourable to devotion (bhakti-pratikul).
Gurudev would also say, "Sadhu haowa, sadhu saja na (সাধু হাওয়া, সাধু সাজা না): it is necessary to be a sadhu, not pretend to be a sadhu." That is the main thing. We must be properly honest. Sadhu's character is honesty: 'sadhu' means 'sad', honest. What is the quality of a proper Vaishnav? Who is a Vaishnav?
"Those who have given up money, women, and fame, are the true Vaishnavs."
(Vaishnav Ke? 11)
Kanak, kamini, pratistha. Kanak (money, wealth, Laksmi Devi) is for Narayan. Kamini (women) are for Krishna. Pratistha (name and fame) is for Gurudev. Whatever I have got, whatever I have is coming from Gurudev and is coming for Gurudev. You must understand this. I have told it many times—we did not come to Krishna consciousness to be a great Vaishnav or to be a Vaishnav; we have joined Krishna consciousness to become a servant of a Vaishnav. This quality must be there.
'আমি ত' বৈষ্ণব', এ বুদ্ধি হইলে
"ami ta' vaisnava," e-buddhi ha-ile,
"If I think, 'I am a Vaishnav,' then I will never stop expecting honour from others (I will never become void of the desire for honour)."
(Kalyan-kalpataru, Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur)
If I think I am a Vaishnav, if such thoughts come to me, then I will not be able to give honour to others, I will not be able to respect others. That is the main thing in our spiritual life. If you want to be a servant of the Guru, you must serve Vaishnavs. You should not have any other desires of your own. There should be no desire of your own whatsoever. We must look at the desire of the Lord, the desire of our Guru. Such mentality must come to you.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur also said, "Maner kheyal khusimata bhajaner abhinayke bhajan bole na, guru-vaishnaver anugatye guru-vaishnaver seva kore tader mana santusti korar nama-i haya bhajan (মনের খেয়াল খুশিমতো ভজনের অভিনয়কে ভজন বলে না, গুরু-বৈষ্ণবের আনুগত্যে গুরু-বৈষ্ণবের সেবা করে তাঁদের মান সন্তুষ্টি করার নামই হয় ভজন ।). If you follow your mind and practise whatever comes to your mind, that is not spiritual practice, that is not service, that is not bhajan (bhajan means service). Guru-Vaishnaver anugatye—you must do service under the guidance of the Guru and Vaishnavs, and you must please your Guru and Vaishnavs." That is the main thing, and that will be service then; otherwise, it will be all karma. Karma and service look the same, but they are not.
You may be doing something—some service that Gurudev told you to do—and you are not getting pleasure from that, but that is not a question, that is not your problem.
তোমার সেবায় দুঃখ হয় যত,
tomara sevaya, duhkha haya yata,
"All the distress I encounter in Your service is also my greatest happiness."
When you do some service, some sadness, some problem can come to you, but that too should be your happiness. That is anandadayak kosta (আনন্দদায়ক কষ্ট), a welcome austerity. Everything is pleasure (seo ta parama sukha).
I told also yesterday,
ন ধনং ন জনং ন সুন্দরীং
na dhanam na janam na sundarim
"O Lord of the universe! I do not desire wealth, followers, beautiful women, or learning. Birth after birth, O Lord, let me have unconditional devotion to You."
(Siksastakam, verse 4)
We do not want wealth, we do not want property, we do not want name and fame. This is Mahaprabhu's Siksastakam. We sing it every day during the niyom-seva month.
dhana jana ara, kavita-sundari,
"When will I say that I do not want any wealth, followers, poetic talent, beautiful women, or any other bodily happiness? O Gaurahari! Birth after birth, please give me unconditional devotion to Your holy feet."
Bhaktivinod Thakur also sings the same thing here. The last line in the song to that fourth verse of Siksastakam is very nice:
pasu paksi haye thaki' svarge va niraye
"Whether a bird or a beast, in heaven or in hell, let there be devotion to You in the heart of Bhaktivinod."
Wheather I become a bird or I become a beast, it is not a question. I do not want to be Indra, Brahma, or anything else. I can be a bird or a beast as long as I am your servant—if I can just become a servant of a servant, to be only your dust, that is sufficient for me. That is the main thing in our spiritual life. We must follow this.
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