Monday, August 28, 2006

Hide Your Guru

Hide Your Guru

By Madhavananda Das

The following article was something that we wrote for issue number 16 of Sri Krishna Kathamrita Bindu.

In Hari-bhakti-vilasa, verse 2.147, Srila Sanatan Goswami quotes Sammohana-tantra:

gopayed devatam istam gopayed gurum atmanah

gopayec ca nijam mantram gopayen nija-malikam

One should hide one’s ista-deva, one should hide one’s guru, one should hide one’s mantra, and one should hide one’s japa-mala.

Wise persons keep their valuables in a confidential place. Similarly, an intelligent sadhaka does not advertise his or her guru, nor do they broadcast themselves as disciples of their guru. Considering themselves as low, fallen, and unfit to be considered disciples, sincere devotees do not want to advertise who their guru is.

Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami has illustrated the mood of a devotee and disciple:

jagai madhai haite muni se papistha
purisera kita haite muni se laghistha

I am more sinful than Jagai and Madhai and even lower than the worms in stool. (Cc. adi 5.205)

Similarly, Thakur Bhaktivinode has stated:

garhita acare, rahilama maji’,
na karinu sadhu-sanga
laye sadhu-vesa, ane upadesi,
e bada mayara ranga

Remaining absorbed in abominable activities, I never kept company with sadhus. Now I adopt the garb of a sadhu and act out the role of instructing others. This is maya’s big joke. (Saranagati 7.3)

Although Thakur Bhaktivinode had so much association with elevated vaisnavas, including his siksa-guru Jagannath Das Babaji Maharaja, he did not flaunt that. Rather, he considered that, na karinu sadhu-sanga — “I have never had association with sadhus”.

The essential principle in being a disciple is to follow the order of the guru. Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami has described:

acaryera mata yei, sei mata sara
tanra ajna langhi’ cale, sei ta’ asara

The order of the spiritual master is the active principle in spiritual life. Anyone who disobeys the order of the spiritual master immediately becomes useless. (Cc. adi 12.10)

Similarly, it is stated in the Raghu-vamsa:

sa susruvan matari bhargavena
pitur niyogat prahrtam dvisad-vat
pratyagrhid agraja-sasanam tad
ajna gurunam hy avicaraniya

Being ordered by his father, Parasuram killed his mother, Renuka, just as if she were an enemy. When Lakshman, the younger brother of Lord Ramachandra, heard of this, He immediately engaged Himself in the service of His elder brother and accepted His orders. The order of the spiritual master must be obeyed without consideration. (verse 14.46, quoted in Cc. madhya 10.145)

Srila Thakur Bhaktivinode has described that there are two types of disciples, the antarmukha-sisyas and the bahirmukha-sisyas. Antarmukha literally means “inward-facing”. It refers to someone who is introspective. Bahirmukha literally means “outward-facing”, and refers to someone who is absorbed in external things.

Antarmukha-sisyas are desirous of bringing pleasure to their guru. Their focus is on following the guru’s instructions. The antarmukha-sisyas practice gopayed gurum atmanah. They keep their guru and their relationship with him confidential. An antarmukha-sisya is not interested in advertising himself as a disciple of his guru, but prefers to follow the guru’s instructions. His meditation is to try to understand what will please his guru. The antarmukha-sisya is anartha-mukta-avastha, he is free from anarthas. His vision of guru is known as sevya-darsana. He sees that guru should be served and pleased.

Bahirmukha-sisyas are disciples who practice the opposite of gopayed gurum atmanah. They are absorbed in advertising their guru and in making a show of themselves as being big or intimate disciples. Such a disciple is also known as guru-giri, or one who makes a business out of guru and one’s relationship with guru. They are not absorbed in the inner intention of guru. Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur has described persons who act on such an external platform as dharmadhvajis (“religion flag-wavers”), meaning those who make a hypocritical or pretentious show of religiosity.

Following the logic of atmavan manyate jagat (everyone thinks like I do), the bahirmukha-sisyas consider that their guru thinks like they do. Because they are motivated by the desires for fame and adoration they think that their guru also wants such things. The bahirmukha-sisyas are anartha-yukta-avastha, they have anarthas, material desires, in their hearts. Because of those anarthas they only see guru in terms of their own pleasure. This vision is known as bhogya-darsana. They think that making a big show of devotion will impress their guru and enable them to come close to their guru. Their idea of guru-bhakti is to loudly proclaim to the world, amar guru jagad-guru — “My guru is the best or the only one and any other guru is lesser.” They think that such publicizing will please their guru. Neglecting or minimizing their guru’s instruction regarding the worship of Krishna, the bahirmukha-sisyas place more emphasis on worshiping their spiritual master.

In the histories of all the major religions of the world it is commonly seen that the followers prefer to worship the guru, prophet, or founder rather than follow the instructions of that prophet to worship the Lord (who is unseen and unknown to them). Srila Prabhupada addressed this topic on a morning walk in Bombay on 29 March 1974 when some devotees mentioned to him that some of the followers of Swami Narayan were chanting the name of their guru instead of Krishna’s name:

Devotee: In England they are chanting, “Swami Narayan,” not “Krishna”.

Prabhupada: Just see.

Indian man (1): No, they are also Krishna-bhaktas.
Devotee: How are they, if they are chanting Swami Narayan’s name?

Indian man (1): They actually work for the Krishna only, and they...

Prabhupada: No, no. Krishna recommends sastra, harer nama, harer nama, harer namaiva kevalam. So why they should chant “Swami Narayan”? ... In the Bhagavad-gita it is said, satatam kirtayanto mam Krishna. Why should one chant any other name? Krishna says satatam kirtayanto mam. Hare Krishna. Not any other name.... But they are chanting “Swami Narayan.” They’re saying Swami Narayan is better than Krishna. What kind of preaching is this? ... This is nonsense. People will go to the temple and the preacher will say that Swami Narayan’s name should be chanted....

Indian man (2): Swami is their guru and Narayan is God, so both, Prabhupada and Krishna, Prabhupada and Krishna, Prabhupada Krishna...

Prabhupada: But that does not mean they should chant [like that]. Just like, we are not instructing our disciples to chant my name, “Bhaktivedanta Swami, Bhaktivedanta Swami.” No. They’re chanting Hare Krishna. hari-tvena samasta-sastrair uktah — “Guru is respected as good as Krishna.” But that does not mean I shall teach them to go and chant my name, “Bhaktivedanta Swami, Bhaktivedanta Swami, Bhaktivedanta Swami.” What is this? We are teaching, “Chant Hare Krishna.” Harer nama, harer nama...

— Srila Prabhupada morning walk, 29 March 1974, Bombay.

Although the antarmukha-sisyas, who follow the instructions of guru, get the full blessings of guru, the bahirmukha-sisyas do not get the proper result. In this connection Srila Jagadananda Pandit has written:

gorara ami gorara ami mukhe balile na cale
torara acara gorara vicara laile phala phale

It is not enough to repeatedly advertise that one is a devotee of Mahaprabhu by saying, “I am Gaura’s! I am Gaura’s!” Rather, those who follow the practices taught by Mahaprabhu are understood to get the results of being the Lord’s follower. — Prema-vivarta 8.6

Sometimes we see that bona fide spiritual masters allow themselves to be advertised in order to preach. However, this is done in service to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Such personalities are not materially desirous of receiving prestige from their disciples. The daksina, gift, that the guru wants is jnana-sandesah — the sincere search for spiritual knowledge (Bhag. 11.19.39).

As the ideal guru, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has taught us how to please the spiritual master. Mahaprabhu instructed His followers:

yadi ama prati sneha thake sabakara
tabe Krishna-vyatirikta na gaibe ara

If you really love me, then you should love My instructions: Don’t think of anything but Krishna. Don’t utter any name but Krishna. (Caitanya-bhagavat madhya 8.27)

Understanding that his spiritual master is always with Krishna, the antarmukha-sisya knows that by chanting Krishna’s name he will come closer to his guru. In the Vamana-kalpa, Lord Brahma explains:

yo mantrah sa guruh saksad yo guruh sa harih svayam

One should understand that the mantra one has received from the guru is identical with the guru and that the guru is identical with Lord Hari. (cited in Srila Jiva Goswami’s Bhakti-sandarbha, anuccheda 237.8)

Srila Rupa Goswami has described:

atha guroh sri-pada-dvandva-bhaktim

The holy name gives devotion to the guru. (Padyavali text 24)

Historically, the sadhu-samaja, the society of saintly vaisnavas, has never been impressed with mere external shows of devotion. They are moved, however, when they see the genuine vaisnava humility and other good qualities that have manifest in a devotee due to that devotee’s dedication to the instructions and bhajan given by guru (guru-nistha). Hence, introspective devotees prefer to keep their guru hidden and glorify him by exhibiting exemplary behavior.

For some devotees, pushing their guru is an easy way to avoid facing the reality of their own lack of advancement. They want respect, and they think it is easier for them to get it by broadcasting themselves as a disciple of a great personality than for themselves to manifest the qualities of a vaisnava. However, this kind of cheating mentality will never attract the attention of saintly persons. They are not impressed with whom we have taken initiation or instructions from. Rather, they want to see what is our own level of realization.

Since such neophytes equate the showing of respect to themselves with the showing of respect to their guru, when they become chastised or fail to receive the honor and recognition they want, they accuse the devotees, “You have offended my guru!” In this way, Kali, the personification of this age of quarrel and hypocrisy, is able to enter the movement of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and cause dissension, distracting them from their real business of chanting and distributing the holy names.

So Srila Sanatan Goswami’s instruction gopayed gurum atmanah — “One should hide one’s guru” — is advising devotees to go deeper in their relationship with guru by basing that relationship on following the instructions about service and bhajan that their guru has given.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Bitches Always Bark and Witches Always Howl

It's been several months since I posted any blogs. I intend to start doing so regularly again. Beginning with the following poem that I wrote for a friend recently who has been having troubles with some critics at their office. I thought some of you might also like it.

Bitches always bark,

and vicious witches always howl.

Donkeys always chew the chewed,

and never think of how.

How they came to be,

and who they are,

and what's the meaning of it all.

Our life is meant for contemplation,

something higher and profound.

Pleasure can be had by all,

men, women, birds, and beasts.

What distinguishes the humans

is potentiality for peace.

Animals will always fight

backbite n seek limelight:


A wise person, like the Moon

is steady n illuminating.

Not like flashy shooting stars

that come and go so fast.

Don't pay heed to barking dogs

vicious witches and the like.

Let your short life's caravan go on,

live life for yourself my friend

-- and don't ever compromise.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Addendum to "The Housewive's Lament"

Krishnarati Dasi in North Carolina sent us the following Krishna conscious addition to the Housewives Lament:

One day I was walking
I heard a rejoicing
I saw a happy woman
The picture of bliss.
In her hands were some beads
and these were her words
So fortunately I didn't miss:

"O life was a toil,
And love was a trouble
Beauty did fade and riches did flee
But when Krishna appeared
He burst maya's bubbles
And now everything's sweeter
Than I could wish it to be!"

(Apologies for that not-quite right-rhyming!)

The Housewife's Lament

Mahashakti just sent us this. This material world is definitely not a very nice place.

The Housewife's Lament
by Vera Johnson

1. One day I was walking,
I heard a complaining,
I saw a poor woman
The picture of gloom.
She gazed at the mud
On her doorstep ('twas raining),
And this was her song
As she wielded her broom:

/"O life is a toil,
And love is a trouble,
Beauty will fade
And riches will flee,
Wages will dwindle
And prices will double
And nothing is as I
Would wish it to be."

2. "There's too much of worriment
Goes to a bonnet,
There's too much of ironing
Goes to a shirt.
There's nothing that pays for
The time you waste on it,
There's nothing that lasts us
But trouble and dirt.

3. "In March it is mud,
It's slush in December,
The midsummer breezes
Are loaded with dust.
In fall the leaves litter,
In muddy September
The wallpaper rots
And the candlesticks rust.

4. "There are worms on the cherries
And slugs on the roses,
And ants in the sugar
And mice in the pies.
The rubbish of spiders
No mortal supposes,
And ravaging roaches
And damaging flies.

5. "It's sweeping at six
And i's dusting at seven,
It's victuals at eight
And it's dishes at nine.
It's potting and panning
From ten to eleven.
We scarce break our fast
Till we plan how to dine.

6. "With grease and with grime
From corner to centre,
Forever at war
And forever alert.
No rest for a day
Lest the enemy enter,
I spend my whole life
In the struggle with dirt.

7. "Last night in my dreams
I was stationed forever,
On a far distant rock
In the midst of the sea.
My one task of life
Was a ceaseless endeavor,
To brush off the waves
As they swept over me.

8. "Alas! 'Twas no dream -
Ahead I behold it,
I see I am helpless
My fate to avert!"
She lay down her broom,
Her apron she folded.
She lay down and died
And was buried in dirt.
Picture one: Advertisement For Jeye's Disinfectants.
From the British Library
Medium; Print on paper
Genre; Leaflet
Printer; Unknown, British
Circa 1870

Picture two: Advertisment for Goddard's Cleaning Materials
From the British Library
Medium; Print on paper
Genre; Leaflet
Printer; Unknown, British
Circa 1800s

Picture three: Women pounding and cleaning rice in Madras
From the British Library
Photographer; Nicholas and Curths
Circa 1870

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The False Sannyasi

This is an excerpt from Bindu 116. The picture is from an old Bengali version of Ramacarita Manas.

Rev. A. G. Atkins

Mr. A. G. Atkins was a Britisher and a Christian missionary who first came to India sometime before 1916. In order to meet the language study requirements of a missionary he began to read the Hindi version of Ramayana composed by the poet Tulsidas. He quickly became attracted to the story and devotional spirit of the story of Lord Rama and began a careful study of the book that continued for over twenty years. In 1941, on the suggestion of a friend, he began to translate it into English verse. He spent 12 years working on his poetic translation and finally saw the book published by the Hindustan Times in June of 1953. The following is an excerpt from book III, chapter 13.

Now, when Ravan saw that his way had been cleared,
He in hermit’s guise there before Sita appeared;

He who kept gods and demons in such total fright,
That they ate not by day and could not sleep at night,

Himself now afraid, like a dog that is seeking
To steal, looking all ways, came furtively sneaking;

His feet set in evil ways, counting no cost,
Ev’ry trace of strength, wisdom and glory now lost,

He told stories to Sita of customs and laws,
Giving kindly ways, threat'nings and love as his cause;

She replied, “Tho’ in guise of the saintly you speak,
“Full of evil and wrong are the things that you seek.”

Then his true name and form demon Ravan displayed;
Sita, seeing and hearing, was deathly afraid;

She replied, as she rallied her courage and will,
“Wretch! My husband is coming! Stand off and stand still!

“You are doomed, demon ruler; you’re now well-nigh dead,
“Like a rabbit that would with a lioness wed.”

At these words shame and wrath moved him more than before,
At heart feeling, “Here’s one to enjoy and adore!”

Then he seized Sita roughly and angrily, and in
His chariot waiting there placed her;

Altho’ from his trembling he scarcely could drive,
Thro’ the air to his dwelling he raced her. ·

— Pages 885-6. The Ramayana of Tulsidas. Published by Shri Krishna Janmasthan Seva-sansthan. Mathura, India. 1987.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

New Blog on Gopaljiu Publications News

Check it out:

Jaya Gopal!

kasturI-tilakaM lalATa-paTale vakSaH-sthale kaustubham
nAsAgre vara-mauktikaM kara-tale veNuH kare kaGkaNam
sarvAGge hari-candanaM su-lalitaM kaNThe ca muktAvalI
gopa-strI-pariveSTito vijayate gopAla-cUDA-maNiH

All glories to the crest jewel of cowherd boys known as Gopal, who has a musk tilaka-mark on his forehead, the kaustubha jewel on his chest, a graceful pearl on the tip of his nose, a flute in His hand, a bracelet on his wrist, graceful sandalwood paste on all of his limbs, a necklace of pearls on his neck, and who is surrounded by a host of gopis.
-- Sri-gopal-sahasra-nama, text 28

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Gopaljiu Parikramas

Our new blog site. We are just starting but I've posted a few things. We intend to update this site with pics and explanations of our research on different tirthas and places in India. Check it out:

Monday, January 02, 2006

A few photos from our ashram

Left side: Seshadevaji, who cooks, manages our book stock and plays ecstatic mrdanga in our bhajans and kirtans. Right side: Pradoshji, who manages our Indian book sales, translates and helps with research. Center: Madhavananda Das who eats and sleeps a lot.

Here is Pradoshji standing next to some of our books and the cabinet of Guru Maharaja's lecture tapes. We have nearly 3,000 tapes.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Ramananda Ray's Pen

This is the original (more than 500 years old) pen of Mahaprabhu's associate, Srila Ramananda Ray. We took the photo in his ancestral home near Jagannath Puri. It’s not an ink pen -- this is what they used for writing on palm leaves.

Serving Guests

In Sanskrit the word, "tithi" means one lunar day. It indicates time. An unanticipated guest who comes to one's home is called "atithi", or someone who is unexpected. Vedic culture teaches that the householders should serve such visitors with whatever means they have.

One of my greatest sources of happiness is serving guests who come to our Gopaljiu Publications ashram. Over the years many sadhus, sannyasis, scholars and illustrious personalities have come to visit us and our library. We try to feed them as best we can, pick them up from the airport or train station, help them make arrangements with their travel tickets, take them on parikrama, find rare books for them etc, etc, etc. The atithi is our great friend and worshipable guru. Sastra says:

gurur-agnir-dvijAtInAM varNAnAM brAhmaNo guruH

patireva guruH strINAM sarvasyAbhyAgato guru

The sacred fire is the guru for the twice born and the brahmanas are the guru for all varnas. The husband is the only guru for the wife and the unexpected guest is guru for all. -- Brahma Purana 80.47, quoted in Canakya Niti text 47

apavAdI haret pApam-atithiH svarga-saGkramaH
abhyAgataM pathi ZrAntaM sAvajJaM yo ‘bhivIkSate

The guest and the critic are the two real kinsmen of the entire universe. The critic dispels sins and the guest bestows heaven. -- Brahma Purana 163.20

There is much that could be said about these two verses. Unfortunately, I have a heavy deadline if we are going to make out next mag on time (it looks like me might not even make it). Later, if there is time I’ll try to write something. As far as the critic dispelling sin, we compiled a number of verses on that topic which we published in an article in Bindu no. 92.

Below are a few photos of some of the guests who have kindly graced us with their association.

Madhavananda Das on the left front with HH Radhanath Swami and his followers in Brahmagiri Orissa. In this shot we are just walking away from the
chandan pukur, that Srila Saraswati Thakur said was non-different from Radha Kund.

Yasodananda Das Babaji is a learned scholar and mahunt in an ashram in Athagarh Orissa, where our Guru Maharaja once taught school. He sometimes comes to bless us with his sanga.

HH Rasananda Swami visits our ashram. Left to right: Bhaktarupa Prabhu, HH Rasananda Swami who preaches in Brazil, Madhavananda Das and Bhakta Pradosh

Here is Prabhupada's disciple Sarvadrik Prabhu and his good wife. They were visiting from the USA.

This is Srila Prabhupada's disciple Pradyumna Prabhu. He stayed with us for a few days. Pradyumna was Srila Prabhupada's Sanskrit editor. Prabhupada used to call him "panditji".

This is Radha the calf and her mother in the background. She came to our ashram everyday (several times a day) for many months to get goodies. She is very fond of
capatis with ghur.

Nandagram at Sunset

Bhurijan Prabhu just sent us this wonderful picture along with the following text:

Srila Narottam Das Thakur prays in in Prema Bhakti Candrika as follows:

gobinda gokulacandra parama ananda-kanda
paribara-gopa-gopi sange
nandiswara jara dhama giridhari janra nama
sakhi-sange tare bhaja range

Sri Govinda, the moonlike personality of Gokula, the lifter of Govardhana Hill, the reservoir of all transcendental happiness is accompanied by the gopalas and the gopis and is living in Nandagram. Serve Him happily in association with the sakhis.