Śrī Gaura-kiśora – The Deity of Ideal Renunciation
By Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda
Excerpts from a glorification of Śrīla Gaura-kīśora dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja on his disappearance day
My śrī gurupāda-padma is not a teacher of any of the illusory subjects of this world, which are aimed only at enjoyment. Yet, at the same time, he alone is the indisputable genius in every subject in this world. Sadly, because I am deprived and fallen, because of my own weaknesses, not all of my gurupāda-padma’s teachings have entered my heart.
But in order to speak all the teachings that, by my gurupāda-padma’s mercy, have somehow entered through the pathways of my ears, may I possess millions upon millions of tongues, millions upon millions of heads and millions upon millions of years to live. Then I will sing about the unparalleled compassion and benevolence (amandodaya-dayā) of my gurupāda-padma throughout the unlimited universes with millions and millions of tongues and millions and millions of heads for millions and millions of years. Only then will I have truly performed guru-pūjā. Only then will he be pleased with me and shower his perpetual blessings upon me so that I can sing the glory of his matchless compassion with another million tongues. On that day I will finally be liberated from singing about fleeting illusory matters. On that day I will be released from the captivity of all the mundane teachings of this world.
Considering my favourite worldly topics to be very important and valuable, I accept them deeply into my heart. Thus I remain madly infatuated with the unconscious world. However, my gurudeva has repeatedly instructed,
śrī-caitanya-mano-’bhīṣṭaṁ sthāpitaṁ yena bhū-tale
svayaṁ rūpaḥ kadā mahyaṁ dadāti sva-padāntikam
When will such a master as Śrī Rūpa, who has propagated and established the deepest desire of Śrī Caitanyadeva’s heart throughout the world, personally give me the shelter of his own lotus feet?
When will I behold Śrī Gurupāda-padma’s extraordinary transcendental beauty and take shelter single-mindedly at his beautiful feet? When will such a day be mine?
I have heard from Śrī Gurupāda-padma that those who adopt this mentality are rūpānuga and are therefore very dear to Śrī Gaurasundara. And as for those who even endeavour to become rūpānuga, Śrī Brahmā himself could not finish extolling their good fortune, even if he spent his entire life trying.
Śrī Gurupāda-padma has eradicated all my doubts and instructed me on the matter of nāma-bhajana. Through this I came to know that one should not disobey guru – that is, one should not disobey śrauta-vāṇī, the divine message, which descends through the succession of bona fide gurus. Nor should one regard guru-bruva, or so-called gurus, as worshipful, and thereby disrespect śrī gurupāda-padma. One should know that without taking refuge of the non-dual Absolute Truth, Vrajendra-nandana, there is no auspiciousness for the living entity.
Give Up Everything and Stay with Me
“My gurudeva!” I am audacious to say “my gurudeva.” Is my heart so qualified that I can utter this? How exalted are even the toenails of my guru, and where am I, a dwarf on the lowest platform? How can I even serve Gurupāda-padma? While I sleep, I am robbed of Gurupāda-padma’s service. At that time I remain deeply immersed in selfish pleasure, and I spend the rest of my time feeding and dressing myself. Being bereft of service to Gurupāda-padma, I am unqualified, fallen and weak. Therefore, had he not profusely showered me with his compassion, I would have even more aggressively exploited the very nature of his mercy than I was doing already. My gurupāda-padma is the ocean of mercy, and even one drop of his mercy can drown me in an ocean of bliss.
How merciful was he that he used to say to me, “Your scholarship, your purity and your aristocracy – give it all up and come stay with me. You will not have to go anywhere else. Whatever you need – a cottage, a house, a mansion, a palace – whatever scholarship and prestige you need, or whatever degree of self-control and renunciation you wish to attain, you will get it all by being here. Just come to me. Do not run here and there, impelled by desires like, ‘I must have a nice home, I must find a good means to achieve material success and I must become vastly learned’. Do not aspire to achieve that what ordinary people value so much.”
I Was A Fearsome Logician
I was a fearsome logician. But out of immense compassion he kicked my pride aside. Thus he showed me his mercy. If I were to try to find the limit of his mercy, I would not succeed even if I continued searching for unlimited lifetimes. In fact, no one will ever find its limit. I am in no way qualified to introduce myself as his servant. Still, he has suffused me with the hope that I can identify myself as his servant, and through that hope I can always stay alive.
I used to feel that I was drowning in joylessness (nirānanda), and that I was absorbed in so many temporary activities. It is clear that I am weak, so I felt that when my śrī gurudeva would disappear I would go astray, for then I would not be able to hear his teachings. But today many, many incarnations of Śrī Gurupāda-padma have mercifully presented themselves before me. [Here, Śrīla Prabhupāda refers to his pure disciples, or sad-śiṣyas, as incarnations of his gurudeva.] They do kīrtana in front of me, and they read the Bhāgavatam and explain it to me. When they reveal ever-fresh explanations in accordance with my śrī gurupāda-padma’s heart, they bring life back to my dying body. Only because of this, I regain consciousness and attain the good fortune of hearing and speaking hari-kathā twenty-four hours a day, every day.
The Ideal Deity of Renunciation
Renunciation is something I had only read about in stories or had read instructions on in books like Vairāgya-śataka (A Hundred Verses Regarding Renunciation), Śānti-śataka (A Hundred Verses Regarding Peace) and Moha-mudgara (The Hammer that Demolishes Illusion). But when the mercy of that most compassionate Lord, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and of that most compassionate Kārṣṇa (Kṛṣṇa’s devotee) both fell upon me, the personification of Bhagavān’s own renunciation (vairāgya) appeared before me.
Although it is not possible for such renunciation to inhabit a human form, I nevertheless had the opportunity to see it in Śrī Gurupāda-padma. Yet, despite seeing him, I have somehow remained in the same darkness. My body gives me obstacles and I am unable to serve Gurupāda-padma twenty-four hours a day. The deity of ideal renunciation, whom I personally beheld, was not the embodiment of renunciation that merely demolishes illusion, nor of pretentious renunciation (phalgu-vairāgya). The renunciation he embodied was replete with the pinnacle of service to Kṛṣṇa, completely steeped in mahābhāva.
May he whose renunciation extends not only to wealth and women, but to personal prestige as well, be my object of worship. I aspired for the lotus feet of such a śrī guru, who would not accept even a single disciple. Still, I presented myself before him and begged for his mercy. He told me “I made one disciple previously, but that disciple cheated me and left, so I have decided not to make any more disciples.” Although I was distressed by his reply, I made a firm vow: “I will see how many times I am rejected, but without his mercy I will not venture out into the world.”
He Pulverized My Pride
When I came before that very gurupāda-padma, I could understand by his mercy that what I had considered to be the topmost ideal and the best way of life was to him the lowest of all. Although my ideal was extraordinary compared to the ideals of the people of this world, my śrī gurupāda-padma showed me one conception that was truly and absolutely transcendent. Prior to this revelation, I had studied many books by impersonalists expounding the idea of “neti neti” [The phrase “na iti, na iti”, or “it is not this, it is not this”, is the answer to the question, “Is this brahma?” In other words, if someone seeks the Absolute Spirit through empirical investigation, he will inevitably engage in negating all perceivable objects and designations, deeming them non-absolute.], a systematic negation of mundane attachments and designations. Now I had found an actual exemplar of it. Śrī Gurupāda-padma told me, “The ideal you now seek is not your true ideal.”
I used to think that my gurupāda-padma’s calibre of renunciation was second to none, but that his erudition was somewhat lacking. He pulverized my pride in my book knowledge by the mallet of his mercy and made me understand that my topmost ideal was in fact the most despicable. When these words of his entered my ears, when I received his mercy, my tiny brain did not have the strength to hold that divine knowledge. He had given an opportunity to a fool and a know-it-all like me to hear such a profound matter.
My gurupāda-padma never became involved in any matter of this world, but he pretended to bestow his mercy upon an unqualified person like me. The renunciation of the world’s most renounced personalities cannot compare to even a tiny fraction of a hundredth part of his renunciation. Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī Prabhu’s renunciation was fully manifest in my Prabhu. If the account of his life is published in the world, if my guru-varga [Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda here refers to his disciples as his guru-varga.] publishes an account of his transcendental life in simple language and propagates it everywhere, then the entire world will be vastly benefited. My gurupāda-padma did not only say that one should give up wealth and women, rather he instructed that even the urge to portray oneself as a great saint must be renounced. He was a bhagavata paramahaṁsa.
Open Your Eyes
People say that today is the disappearance day of my gurupāda-padma. However, I consider that today is his appearance day, and that I may worship him for eternity by glorifying him with a million mouths and millions of other senses.
Compelled by compassion, my śrī gurupāda-padma has appeared in this world to bestow upon me, by the collyrium of knowledge, the divine realization that I am the servant of Nanda-nandana. Due to my ignorance, I had come to believe that enjoying the objects of the senses was my duty and purpose in life. Thus I had completely lost sight of my real duty. But my śrī gurupāda-padma has appeared in this world to dispel the darkness of my ignorance.
Unable to see that supreme object, which is impossible to see with these eyes – eyes that simply obstruct what I am meant to hold in my sight eternally – and unable to see that supreme object, which is the only thing worth seeing, all I can see is the sensual veil that covers my eyes. Thus all I see is sense gratification within this transient world.
However, Śrī Gurupāda-padma removes the veil from my eyes and grants me true sight by divine knowledge. He pulls away the veil that covers my eyes, slightly parts my eyelids and instructs me, “Open your eyes and look.” For so long I thought I could see with my eyes shut.
So I am abandoning my pride and offering namaskāra to Śrī Gurupāda-padma. This indeed is the ingredient (arghya) of my worship. The act of renouncing the arrogant conception that I am the seer and enjoyer is called ‘namaskāra’. When I was nurturing the misconception that I am the doer, Śrī Gurupāda-padma opened my eyes and dismissed my notions of reality, which were improperly conceived. Driven by some other knowledge, I was following the blind. Gurupāda-padma made me realize that I must not follow the blind, that I must follow śrī gurupāda-padma, who is possessed of divine vision, and that to worship śrī gurupāda-padma was my duty.
Service to Śrī Gurupāda-padma is the Real Activity of My Being
By Gurupāda-padma’s grace, I have developed the conviction that service to him is my one and only duty and is, in fact, the real activity of my being. And after having darśana of Gurupāda-padma, the conviction that there is any necessity of doing something other than serving him was totally dispelled. Just to rescue me from the clutches of arrogance, Bhagavān’s beloved servant, His most cherished companion, revealed to me eternal service to Nanda-nandana, for he was overwhelmed by compassion. Only then could I understand that in relation to the living entity’s true identity, there is no duty and no source of auspiciousness apart from satisfying the senses of Nanda-nandana. The son of Nanda is the sole object of the living entity’s spiritual practice, and attaining Him is the one and only goal; and śrī gurupāda-padma is Nanda-nandana’s very dearly beloved.
Service to that gurupāda-padma cannot be performed by inept persons like me; not by body, not by mind, not by words and not by any other type of instrument. However, Śrī Gurupāda-padma infuses me with potency, and looks at me with loving eyes. Perhaps if I can obtain his grace, then by his causeless, heartfelt mercy, I may achieve the qualification to serve him.
I am not speaking theoretically. The day Śrī Gurupāda-padma placed his lotus feet, which are unattainable even for demigods, upon the head of such an undeserving person as me and bathed me in their dust was the day I was first able to understand what my supreme auspiciousness was. A spiritual master such as Śrī Gurupāda-padma wields the power to give service to the Supreme. May I have the ability to assimilate that awesome mercy. From that day, I certainly sought to receive such incomparable auspiciousness from Śrī Gurupāda-padma.
Śrī Gurupāda-padma is an exclusive servant of the Lord. If I cannot obtain his mercy, if I cannot obtain divine knowledge, then I will not even be able to comprehend the glory of Gurupāda-padma. Śrī Gurupāda-padma is eternal. May I not be bereft of his company for even a moment. Within even a moment of time, my bond with Gurupāda-padma can be broken. So, may I never abandon Gurupāda-padma for even one eleventh of a second, enticed by some mundane temptation. May I never cheat myself of my connection to Gurupāda-padma on account of heeding useless advice from worldly people who are fully averse to him.
Śrī Gurupāda-padma can protect me from all these deceptive perils, so at the beginning of every year, of every month, of every day, and of every moment, it is my duty to worship that Śrī Gurupāda-padma.
My gurudeva is present in various forms. If he did not exist in so many forms, then who would protect me? Those who my gurudeva took to be his own are my saviours. But as for those who blaspheme my gurupāda-padma or anyone who gives shelter to those who blaspheme him, may those inauspicious wretches never cross the path of my vision.
At every moment, he draws me to his lotus feet to keep me there. The moment I stray from Gurupāda-padma, the moment I forget Gurupāda-padma, is the moment I verily fall from Truth. If I do not remember Gurupāda-padma at the onset of every year, month, day and moment, I will surely meet with more and more peril. I will desire to be guru and will adopt the wicked mentality that others ought to call me guru and worship me. Thus I will have succumbed to meaningless infatuations (dvitīya-abhiniveśa). So it should not be that I came to perform guru-pūjā today. It should be that at every moment we are engaging in an eternal guru-pūjā.
Translated from Nikaṭa-kāla-vartti Cāra Rūpānuga Vaiṣṇava Ācārya
(Exalted Rūpānuga Vaiṣṇava Ācāryas of Present Times)
Compiled, translated and edited by
Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja
Originally published in the weekly Gauḍīya