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Sri Guru-Tattva:
The Captain of Your Boat

His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad
Srila Bhakti Nirmal Acharya Maharaj
Reading from Srimad Bhagavatam and
Sri Gaudiya Kantha-hara
22 July 2013


Within you there are so many obstacles, so many material desires—they are like many branches of a tree—but if you serve your Guru properly, if you have devotion to the Guru (bhagavad-bhakti), if you take shelter in him, then you will be able to remove this bondage with the modes of material nature (rajo-, tamo-, sattva-gun). When these three modes of material nature leave you, through the relationship with your Guru you can get service to the Lord and finally reach your destination. This is written very nicely in Srimad Bhagavatam.

এবং গুরূপাসনয়ৈকভক্ত্যা বিদ্যাকুঠারেণ শিতেন ধীরঃ ।
বিবৃশ্চ্য জীবাশয়মপ্রমত্তঃ সম্পদ্য চাত্মানমথ ত্যজাস্ত্রম্ ॥

evam gurupasanayaika-bhaktya
vidya-kutharena sitena dhirah
vivrschya jivasayam apramattah
sampadya chatmanam atha tyajastram

"By serving and worshiping a bona fide Guru with one-pointed determination, you can gradually acquire an axe of knowledge with which you can sever the trimodal bondage within the material body and attain spiritual benefit. Attaining that spiritual benefit you will then give up the axe of knowledge and attain supreme devotion."

(Srimad Bhagavatam, 11.12.24)

It means you must first acquire good intelligence, a strong common sense; then if you serve your Guru very carefully, being always alert, you can finish your human body in this very birth—all material desires that are like many branches of a tree, will be removed from you (you will become free from the rajo-, tamo-, sattva-gun)—and you can finally get to your destination.

How will you get rid of the modes of material nature? It is written here (Krishna tells it to Uddhav Maharaj). Those who are intelligent never think about hell or heaven, or even this human plane of existence. If somebody thinks about this, it means they have an ego, an attachment to their body. What do the intelligent people, on the other hand, do? They understand that day by day their life is passing very quickly. There is this example of a bird—a bird is thinking, "Oh, my nest is being destroyed," and it starts building another nest in some other place, but those who are intelligent start practising Krishna consciousness under the guidance of Guru and Vaishnavs.

নৃদেহমাদ্যং সুলভং সুদুর্লভং
প্লবং সুকল্পং গুরুকর্ণধারম্ ।
ময়ানুকূলেন নভস্বতেরিতং
পুমান্ ভবাব্ধিং ন তরেৎ স আত্মহা ॥

nr-deham adyam su-labham su-durlabham
plavam su-kalpam guru-karnadharam
mayanukulena nabhasvateritam
puman bhavabdhim na taret sa atma-ha

(Srimad Bhagavatam, 11.20.17)

"Those who get this human body but do not try to practise Krishna consciousness, do not try to cross the ocean of material existence, are suicidal (atmaghati). In this human body there is only one way how you can bring benefit to yourself—this body is like a boat and you must accept a Guru as the captain of this boat. What does the Guru do next? When you surrender to his lotus feet, when within your heart you take shelter in him, he gives you mercy that works like a favourable wind. In this way, propelled by that favourable wind of the Guru's mercy, this boat can take you to your destination. However those who cannot understand who is the captain, what is the mercy of devotion, who do not know what is favourable to devotion, what that favourable wind is, are suicidal."

It also says here that a conditioned soul's mind is always fickle—it is always busy looking for beauty, taste, smell, sound, etc. All senses are always busy searching for pleasure, and they always become tired. You become annoyed and start thinking, "What is my real benefit? What should I do?" Then your mind becomes a little bit cool, not so fickle and restless (it is laulya, one of the faults such as atyahara, prayascha, prajalpa, niyamagraha, etc.).

Mind is always restless, always goes to different places, and we are always disturbed by the mind, but if the soul practises Krishna consciousness properly, it can understand, "This body is a boat," and slowly, slowly this desire to enjoy will go away. When that bondage of the material desires is broken, you get the service to the Lord, and that restlessness goes down a little—not completely, but becomes suppressed.

Next it says here,

মনোগতিং ন বিসৃজেজ্জিতপ্রাণো জিতেন্দ্রিয়ঃ ।
সত্ত্বসম্পন্নয়া বুদ্ধ্যা মন আত্মবশং নয়েৎ ॥

mano-gatim na visrjej
jita-prano jitendriyah
sattva-sampannaya buddhyam
mana atma-vasam nayet

"You must never overlook the activities of the mind, rather you must use your intelligent to conquer your senses and life air and come under the control of the soul."

(Srimad Bhagavatam, 11.20.20)

Do not ignore it when your mind goes to some place, you must take it seriously. "The mind is going this way? Oh, OK, it can go..." No! You must control it, do not let it go here and there. It is like when water starts dripping, you must stop it at once. If you do not stop it, the hole will become bigger and there will be a full current falling through. If you see water is dropping and do not stop it, it will start dropping more and more: you must stop it at the beginning. Jita-pran means pranayam, controlling the life air, and jita-indriya means controlling the senses, with the help of buddhyam, intelligence. Krishna says this to Uddhav Maharaj. You must control your mind and senses, do you understand? Do not think, "Oh, the mind is going to another place, let it go." No.

স্বে স্বেঽধিকারে যা নিষ্ঠা স গুণঃ পরিকীর্ত্তিতঃ ।
কর্ম্মণাং জাত্যশুদ্ধানামনেন নিয়মঃ কৃতঃ ।
গুণদোষবিধানেন সঙ্গানাং ত্যাজনেচ্ছয়া ॥

sve sve 'dhikare ya nistha sa gunah parikirtitah
karmanam jaty-asuddhanam anena niyamah krtah
guna-dosa-vidhanena sanganam tyajanechchhaya

"When the soul becomes controlled by material nature, it is called an influence of a mode of material nature. Being influenced by such faulty modes, following material desires, the soul becomes entangled in the impurity of karma."

(Srimad Bhagavatam, 11.20.26)

Such people cannot leave their attachment. They know that Krishna says, "Hear My glories and you will get faith," but they are always anxious. They know that material desires are a source of misery, but they cannot leave these desires. But Krishna says, "If you practise devotion to Me properly, you will get relief. You must worship Me with love and affection." Who said this? Krishna. To whom? To Uddhav Maharaj. Krishna told everything to him. He even said, "Uddhav, you are most dear to Me! Brahma is not as dear to Me as you are, Siva is not as dear to Me as you are, even I Myself am not as dear to Myself as you are. That is why I am telling this all to you." It is written very nicely...

It is written in Hari-bhakti-vilas (1.101)

যো বক্তি ন্যায়রহিতমন্যায়েন শৃণোতি যঃ
তাবুভৌ নরকং ঘোরং ব্রজতঃ কালমক্ষয়ং

yo vakti nyaya-rahitam-nyayena srnoti yah
tabubhau narakam ghoram vrajatah kalamaksayam

"If somebody wears the clothes of an acharya, but practises other things, chants kirtan but in a way that goes against the prescription of the scriptures, invents their own practices, then both who listens to them and who does it go to hell."

পরমার্থগুর্বাশ্রয়ো ব্যবহারিকগুরুর্বাদি
পরিত্যাগেনাপি কর্তব্যঃ ।

paramartha-gururvasrayo vyavaharik-gururvadi
parityagenapi kartavyah

(Sri Bhakti-sandarbha, 210)

"There are vyavaharik gurus (who use others, who flatter others), laukik gurus (who perform worship to impress others)—you must give up such unfit gurus and take shelter of a bona fide Guru."

অবৈষ্ণবোপদিষ্টেন মন্ত্রেণ নিরয়ং ব্রজেৎ ।
পুনশ্চ বিধিনা সম্যগ্ গ্রাহয়েদ্বৈষ্ণবাদ্ গুরোঃ ॥

avaisnava-upadistena mantrena nirayam vrajet
punascha vidhina samyag-graha-yed-vaisnavad guroh

"If you take anti-devotional instruction from those who are not devotees of Krishna, who associate with women, you will go to hell. You must take shelter of a Vaishnav Guru."

(Sri Hari-bhakti-vilasa 4.366)

গুরুষু নরমতির্যস্য বা নারকী সঃ ।

gurusu naramtiryasya va naraki sah

"Those who see Sri Gurudev as an ordinary mortal man, belong to hell."


Krishna says to Arjun, "Ordinary people cannot understand Me. They think I have two hands and they also have two hands, I have two legs and they also have two legs, etc. They think I am just like them..." Similarly, if you see your Gurudev as a mortal man, you will go to hell.

যস্য সাক্ষাদ্ভগবতি জ্ঞানদীপপ্রদে গুরৌ ।
মর্ত্যাসদ্ধীঃ শ্রুতং তস্য সর্বং কুঞ্জরশৌচবৎ ॥

yasya saksad bhagavati
jnana-dipa-prade gurau
martyasad-dhih srutam tasya
sarvam kunjara-sauchavat

"The spiritual master should be considered to be directly the Supreme Lord because he gives transcendental knowledge. For those who think the spiritual master is an ordinary human being, everything is frustrated. Their knowledge and attempts to study are like the bathing of an elephant."

(Srimad Bhagavatam, 7.15.26)

If you take initiation from a Guru, and for you the Guru is a mortal man, then your initiation is useless, it is like the bathing of an elephant. Srimad Bhagavad-gita said,

তদ্­বিদ্ধি প্রণিপাতেন পরিপ্রশ্নেন সেবয়া ।
উপদেক্ষ্যন্তি তে জ্ঞানং জ্ঞানিনস্তত্ত্বদর্শিনঃ ॥

tad viddhi pranipatena, pariprasnena sevaya
upadeksyanti te jnanam, jnaninas tattva-darsinah

"You will be able to attain knowledge by satisfying the divine master with submission, relevant inquiry, and sincere service. The enlightened souls who are learned in scriptural knowledge and endowed with direct realisation of the Supreme Absolute Truth will impart divine knowledge to you."

(Srimad Bhagavad-gita, 4.34)

Through complete surrender, honest enquiry, and service temper, you can understand everything easily. If you have service temper (seva-pravritti), the Guru will give you some good advice.

Then we come back to where we started from,

এবং গুরূপাসনয়ৈকভক্ত্যা বিদ্যাকুঠারেণ শিতেন ধীরঃ ।
বিবৃশ্চ্য জীবাশয়মপ্রমত্তঃ সম্পদ্য চাত্মানমথ ত্যজাস্ত্রম্ ॥

evam gurupasanayaika-bhaktya
vidya-kutharena sitena dhirah
vivrschya jivasayam apramattah
sampadya chatmanam atha tyajastram

"By serving and worshiping a bona fide Guru with one-pointed determination, you can gradually acquire an axe of knowledge with which you can sever the trimodal bondage within the material body and attain spiritual benefit. Attaining that spiritual benefit you will then give up the axe of knowledge and attain supreme devotion."

(Srimad Bhagavatam, 11.12.24)

If you worship a bona fide Guru with devotion, then you will get an axe of spiritual knowledge to detach yourself from the body, and you will get spiritual benefit.

সংসারের পার হৈয়া ভক্তির সাগরে ।
যে ডুবিবে সে ভজুক নিতাই চান্দেরে ॥
আমার প্রভুর প্রভু শ্রীগৌরসুন্দর ।
এ বড় ভরসা চিত্তে ধরি নিরন্তর ॥

samsarera para haiya bhaktira sagare
ye dubibe se bhajuka nitai chandere
amara prabhura prabhu sri-gaura-sundara
e bada bharasa chitte dhari nirantara

"To cross over material existence and dive into the ocean of devotion, you must worship Nitaichand. The Master of my Master is Sri Gaurasundar, I always keep this conviction within my heart."

(Chaitanya-bhagavat, 1.17.152-153)

Finally, the Guru is compared to Nityananda Prabhu.

So, today is Sri Guru Purnima and I have read about the Guru-tattva from all these different scriptures...


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Regulated Life
'We are blinded by the illusory dust. How will we then see the transcendental abode? Those who eat regularly, who work regularly, who sleep regularly, can practise properly. Regular sleeping, regular prasadam is also part of service. If you cannot do it, you will not be able to practise.'


Jaya jaya gurudever
'Throughout the play of the past, present, and future, this servant prays for your mercy, desiring only to serve Sri Sri Gandharvika-Giridhari.'
জয় জয় গুরুদেবের

'Give me some power, some energy, some devotional activities, some devotion
so that I can serve your lotus feet until death.' That is our only hope and prayer
to the Guru. Nothing else.