After the Disappearance of Sri Guru

By Sri Srimad Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja - 13.11 2017

Part One: The Greatest Sorrow

Edited by Madhavananda Das

In Caitanya-caritāmṛta, madhya 8.248, it is mentioned how once Mahaprabhu asked Ray Ramananda, duḥkha-madhye kona duḥkha haya gurutara?— “Which sorrow is the most intense?” Ray Ramananda answered, kṛṣṇa-bhakta viraha-vinā duḥkha nāhi dekhi para — “Being separated from akṛṣṇa-bhakta, a dear devotee of Krishna, is the most grievous sorrow and unhappiness.” If someone becomes separated from a dear devotee of Krishna, he will experience acute pain. No other kind of sorrow can be compared to this. This is like kṛṣṇa-viraha-duhkha, the pain of separation from Krishna. This is what Uddhava is feeling after the Krishna sun has set, after Krishna has disappeared. Uddhava has been put into such painful grief, a most sorrowful condition. And similar to this is kṛṣṇa-bhakta-viraha, separation from a dear devotee of Krishna, who is always with Krishna. If someone is separated from such a dear devotee, that is like being separated from Krishna. There is no other sorrow like that.

Mahaprabhu said this when Haridas Thakur disappeared. Haridas Thakur, who is known asnāmācārya, was day and night, twenty-four hours, engaged in chanting the holy name. Not sleeping, not eating. That means he was always with Krishna. When he disappeared, Mahaprabhu cried piteously, because such a dear devotee, who was always with Krishna, has left. That is the most acute pain. Mahaprabhu cried and said:

kṛpā kari’ kṛṣṇa more diyāchilā saṅga
svatantra kṛṣṇera icchā, — kailā saṅga-bhaṅga

haridāsera icchā yabe ha-ila calite
āmāra śakati tāṅre nārila rākhite

icchā-mātre kailā nija-prāṇa niṣkrāmaṇa
pūrve yena śuniyāchi bhīṣmera maraṇa

Krishna was so merciful to Me that He gave Me the association of such an elevated devotee, paramahaṁsa, such a dear devotee of Krishna, who was always with Krishna. Getting His association, I felt that I was with Krishna. Now Haridas Thakur has disappeared. And the pain in My heart is most grievous.

The disappearance of such a dear devotee is very inauspicious. Therefore, Mahaprabhu cried. So one must cry because it is the most grievous pain, the most grievous distress one can feel. But us, foolish conditioned souls, we cannot cry for it. We have only developed attachment for this body and bodily relations. If we lose some of our near and dear ones, we cry and feel sorrow. “Oh, my dear friend died.” “My wife died.” “My father died.” “My mother died.” He feels sorrow and cries. Such a foolish person. But who is crying when a dear devotee disappears? Who cries for that? Only the vaiṣṇavas cry. They never cry for material separation — if they lose their materially near and dear ones.

If you want to cry, cry for Krishna. Krishna is our nearest and dearest one. Krishna is our object of love. Krishna is the sole life. Krishna says in Bhagavad-gītā (7.9), jīvanaṁ sarva-bhūteṣu — “I am the life of all living entities.” And Mahaprabhu was crying, hā kṛṣṇa prāṇa mora — “Krishna is My life. Now My life has gone out. I cannot see Krishna, I cannot find Krishna.” He cried piteously when Haridas Thakur disappeared. “Krishna is so merciful. He gave Me the association of such a dear devotee who was always with Krishna. But now he disappeared, so I cannot feel the presence of Krishna who is My life. I am without life, I am without life.” That is how one should cry.

Krishna is svatantra. His will is supreme. Similarly, whatever a dear devotee of Krishna wants, Krishna grants. And Haridas Thakur wanted that, “I’ll leave this planet.” And Krishna granted that to him. Although Mahaprabhu is Krishna, He said, “Haridas Thakur is such a dear devotee of Krishna, I have no power to check him. “Don’t go, don’t go. Stay with us.” When such a dear devotee develops the desire that, “O Krishna, please take me. I don’t want to live here.” Krishna grants it, and he leaves this planet. Such was the case with Haridas Thakur. Mahaprabhu cried and picked up the transcendental body of Haridas Thakur. Chanting, “ hare kṛṣṇa”, while shedding tears, He danced. This is what Mahaprabhu has taught us.

Cry for the Sun

A dear devotee of Krishna, who is an ācārya, comes here to give us Krishna. kṛṣṇa se tomāra, kṛṣṇa dite pāra, tomāra śakati āche — “O vaiṣṇava Thakur! Krishna belongs to you because you have bound up Krishna in your heart with the rope of love. Only you can give me Krishna.” Ācāryas like my revered spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, come here to give us Krishna, to spread Krishna consciousness throughout the world. He did such good to us. When such an ācārya disappears, such a dear devotee of Krishna, we should cry because this is the most acute pain for us. When the ācārya leaves, a dark period comes. The sun sets and darkness comes. Here, Uddhava says that the Krishna sun has set, so darkness is prevailing. We are in darkness. What auspiciousness is there for us? Similarly, when such a dear devotee of Krishna, an ācārya, disappears, there is a dark period, a most inauspicious period. We are in such a most inauspicious dark period. Groping in the darkness. Now that such a dear devotee, ācārya, has gone. As the effulgent sun may be covered by a patch of black cloud, similarly such a dark period has come. After the disappearance of my revered spiritual master, a dear devotee of Krishna, Gaura, such a dark period has come. Definitely we are in a dark period. We are suffering and crying, groping in the darkness. What auspiciousness is there? So, we must cry for that effulgent sun to again rise. Let that patch of dark cloud disappear! We must cry for it.

We are spending the dark night in a motel. But we should not just sleep and snore. We should cry and cry, anxiously waiting for the rising of the effulgent sun. Let the darkness disappear and the effulgent sun rise, so that I can catch up the road to Purushottam Dham. I am just a traveler spending the dark night in this motel. This illusory material world is like a motel. The illusory energy of the Lord is like darkness, whereas Krishna is like the sun — kṛṣṇa sūrya-sama; māyā haya andhakara. Those who are covered by this illusory energy are in darkness. We must cry for the effulgent sun to rise. Don’t forget this. This is such severe grief for us. We have to cry and then pray for the effulgent sun to rise. Then all happiness, auspiciousness, and enlightenment will come. Then we will catch up the road leading to Purushottam Dham, the abode of Lord Jagannath. I am just a traveler going there. Otherwise, where is there any auspiciousness for us if we are bereft of devotion, Krishna, and such a dear devotee?

— Excerpted from the booklet After the Disappearance of Sri Guru. Published by Gopal Jiu Publications. Bhubaneswar Orissa.

After the Disappearance of Sri Guru – Part Two: The Dark Period

By Sri Srimad Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja

When the acarya disappears, a dark period comes, just as a patch of black cloud covers up the effulgent sun. It is an unfortunate time, but it is temporary. That cloud will go away. A violent storm may come and disperse the cloud, and then the effulgent sun will come out. If you trace out history you will find that after the disappearance of an acarya, this period comes. That period came after the disappearance of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta. Then his disciple Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami appeared like the effulgent sun. After his disappearance, a dark period has come. The sun is there. It is only covered by a temporary black cloud. It will be dispersed and then the effulgent sun will come.

Mahaprabhu was doing acarya-lila — preaching. After the disappearance of Mahaprabhu the Goswamis came. They were not preachers. They were bhajananandis. They just stayed in the jungle of Vrindavan and wrote books. They were ordered to do four things: a) Write bhakti sastras, scriptures speaking the science of bhakti; b) Excavate the lost tirthas such as Shyama-kund and Radha-kund; c) Install deities, construct temples for the deities, and teach the process of deity worship; and d) Teach vaisnavaetiquette — Sanatan Goswami wrote Hari-bhakti-vilasa, wherein he quotes many sastrasdescribing vaisnava etiquette.

They were doing these four things. They were not preaching, but they were preparing the preachers. Scriptures are needed for that. Otherwise, what will a preacher speak? We quote authority from sastra. In Caitanya-caritamrta(madhya 22.65), Chaitanya Mahaprabhu spoke the definition of uttama-adhikari to Sanatan Goswami:

sastra-yuktye sunipuna, drdha-sraddha yanra
‘uttama-adhikari’ sei taraye samsara

Sastra-yuktye sunipuna — he is very proficient in presenting sastric conclusions, siddhantas. By presenting them strongly he defeats bogus philosophies and establishes pure bhakti-siddhanta. He is very strong in tattva. He is drdha-sraddha — he has unshakable, strong faith. Such a person is an uttama-adhikari. Only such an adhikari vaisnava can deliver the whole world — taraye samsara.

The six Goswamis were preparing preachers. Jiva Goswami sent his three students, Shyamananda Thakur, Narottam Das Thakur, and Srinivas Acharya, with books and told them, “Go and preach!” These three elevated vaisnavas went to preach. Shyamananda Thakur came to Orissa. Narottam Das Thakur went to the eastern side, to Manipur and Assam, etc. And Srinivas Acharya preached in Bengal. They are the first preachers who came after the disappearance of Mahaprabhu.

Then came Bhaktivinode Thakur. Gaura Kishor Das Babaji and Jagannath Das Babaji were not preachers. They were bhajananandis. Only Bhaktivinode Thakur came out, that is acarya. After Bhaktivinode Thakur came, then successively Bhaktivinode’s son Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur came, and then Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

Bhaktisiddhanta had many sannyasi disciples. Also, Mahaprabhu had predicted,

prthivite ache yata nagaradi grama
sarvatra pracara haibe mora nama

My name and teachings will be spread to all corners of the world.

Still, after the disappearance of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, a black period was there. Who fulfilled Mahaprabhu’s prediction? Bhaktivinode Thakur started. Because India was blindly following the West, he thought that the books and teachings of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu should be presented in English‚ and that this science should be taught in the Western world. He was very disappointed that although this culture is here in India, Indians are blindly following Western civilization, dog civilization. Bhaktivinode Thakur is mahajana, acarya. He had the transcendental vision that Mahaprabhu’s teachings should be presented to the Western world in English, and then, when the Western people would accept it, the Indians’ eyes would be opened.

Bhaktivinode Thakur also predicted that a very powerful son would be born who would fulfill this desire, who would preach and spread Mahaprabhu’s teachings in the West and throughout the world. His son, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati, was born. He was a very powerful vaisnava. From his very birth he was a brahmacari, and he was very strong, very powerful. He did not go to the West, but he prepared some of his sannyasi disciples to go and preach. He sent Bhaktipradip Tirtha and Bon Maharaja, but they could not achieve success.

My guru-maharaja, Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, was just a grhastha. He was not a sannyasi. He was not living in the asrama. But he got the real mercy of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, Thakur Bhaktivinode, and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He was empowered because he was a true follower. He did not twist the teachings. He did not add any deliberation to them. He followed them “as it is”. Then he preached in English throughout the world. In their first meeting Srila Bhaktisiddhanta told him to preach in the West. He could understand, “The person has now come to me who can do it.”

Our Srila Prabhupada was a young man at that time. After the disappearance of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, all of his sannyasi disciples fought with each other. There was a case before the Supreme Court. They were quarreling like dogs for a piece of bone.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta had set up sixty-four temples. In the court case they were all divided. This mathawent to this person, and this matha went to another. So many, many divisions. It was a black period. There was no strong acarya. And now, after the disappearance of Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, a similar period has come. Quarreling and fighting is also going on now in Prabhupada’s society. So many have lost faith and left. Some of them became karmis and are doing other business. So many of the gurus, the pillars of the society, fell down! Again, this is a dark period. In any case, Mahaprabhu’s movement will never be lost. The day will come when the black patch of clouds will be dispersed and the effulgent sun will come out. Prabhupada has said the day will come when the acarya will appear.

Devotee: How have previous acaryas been recognized by the vaisnavas?

Gour Govinda Swami: By their potency, their effulgence, and their proficiency. How they present facts. They have been recognized by their clarity, their quoting of authority, defeating bogus philosophies, establishing pure siddhanta, and attracting many people, making many persons vaisnavas. That is the proof. Krishna is all-attractive. It is said that in the material world Krishna attracts the jivas in two forms: in the form of His holy name and in the form of acarya — nama-rupe, acarya-rupe.

Devotee: Today, it seems like ISKCON is focused more on following an institutional path than in recognizing and following the vaisnava-sadhus. For example, guruship is decided by the GBC. Also, it seems like many are attracted to take sannyasa just to get some power.

Gour Govinda Swami: Yes. What to do? It is a matter of time, place, and circumstance. “Please, give me position.” Better to give it to him. Don’t let him feel disappointed or depressed. This is a large worldwide organization, and somehow we have to keep it up. Two aspects are there — two facets, two sides — and one of them is the organizational consideration. It is a different consideration, how to keep up the organization. We should not allow the organization to be split up, broken into pieces. In order to keep up the institution, the GBC is doing these kinds of things.”

Devotee: When there are failures in this organization, and we see gurus falling down, it gives a bad name to . . .

Gour Govinda Swami: You should understand this thing. The society gives opportunity. If one has been given a position in the society, and he is really intelligent, he will understand, “I don’t deserve it; I have no qualification. But still this opportunity has come to me. So I must make myself qualified, then I can stay in the position. Otherwise I will lose it.”

For the sake of maintaining the institution, opportunity is given. Unity must be there. We should not allow it to be split up. This is an organizational matter. Why should a member feel discouraged that he cannot get an opportunity?

Srila Prabhupada did the same thing. Prabhupada knew these people were not qualified. But he gave them sannyasa. Prabhupada said, “Take this opportunity! Do it now!” Otherwise, how could he manage the society? He would give someone sannyasa, and then put that sannyasi in one area to manage. In this way the brahmacaris and devotees will obey him, because he is a sannyasi.

Mahaprabhu took sannyasa for this same reason. He was Mahaprabhu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But because He was a grhastha, many were not accepting Him and were criticizing. Mahaprabhu thought, “I have to take sannyasa, because a sannyasi has prestige.” The general people have the notion that a mayavadi sannyasi is Narayan. Mahaprabhu thought, “I must take sannyasa, otherwise these people won’t listen to Me.” So He took up sannyasa from Keshava Bharati, who was a sannyasi in the mayavadi sampradaya. However, Mahaprabhu preached vaisnava philosophy. That was His purpose.

Similarly, Srila Prabhupada gave sannyasa. Otherwise, how can you manage such a worldwide organization? All of the brahmacaris and devotees will accept if a sannyasi is the leader. They will offer him obeisances and accept what he says. But if he is a grhastha, if he is a brahmacari, nobody will accept.

Prabhupada gave an opportunity. If you are intelligent you will understand this. You should think, “I don’t deserve it; I am not qualified. But he gave me an opportunity, so I must make myself qualified and keep up the position.” But instead of being intelligent you are a fool. You are thinking, “Now I am a sannyasi!Now I am great! Now I am guru! Now I am acarya!” You have developed pride. You commit aparadha and fall down. This is the reason for these fall downs. So when we think of organizational matters we should consider all of these things. Otherwise how we will maintain the worldwide organization? These two aspects are there, the spiritual aspect and the organizational aspect. This is the organizational aspect.

— From an evening darsana, Bhubaneswar, 31 March 1992. Edited by MD.

— Excerpted from the booklet After the Disappearance of Sri Guru. Published by Gopal Jiu Publications. Bhubaneswar Orissa.