DEVOTION BESTOWED BY THE MERCY OF THE SPIRITUAL MASTER

May 19, 2021 in Articles by Laksman dasa

DEVOTION BESTOWED BY THE MERCY OF THE SPIRITUAL MASTER

Compiled by Isana dasa

But when you get chance of a bona fide spiritual master, a great soul, if you try to please him, to satisfy him, that will make you eligible to have taste for kṛṣṇa-kathā, on the topics of Kṛṣṇa

So, it is the duty of the student to offer respect to the bona fide spiritual master three times respect. So, serve, mahat-sevā, because that will, I mean to say, help me in making advance in spiritual knowledge. Syān mahat-sevayā viprāḥ puṇya-tīrtha-niṣevaṇāt. And also, by visiting sacred places. So, it is not always possible to visit sacred places. It may be very distant place. But when you get chance of a bona fide spiritual master, a great soul, if you try to please him, to satisfy him, that will make you eligible to have taste for kṛṣṇa-kathā, on the topics of Kṛṣṇa. SB 1.2.14-16 March 24, 1967 San Francisco EXCERPT: 

Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself or His representative, the unalloyed devotee, can mercifully bestow these combined potencies upon any man. Being thus endowed with such potencies, one can become an unalloyed devotee of the Lord

TRANSLATION

Whoever heard Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu chant “Hari, Hari,” also chanted the holy name of Lord Hari and Kṛṣṇa. In this way they all followed the Lord, very eager to see Him.  After some time, the Lord would embrace these people and bid them to return home, having investing them with spiritual potency.

PURPORT

In his Amṛta-pravāha-bhāṣya, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura explains that this spiritual potency is the essence of the pleasure potency and the knowledge potency. By these two potencies, one is empowered with devotional service. Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself or His representative, the unalloyed devotee, can mercifully bestow these combined potencies upon any man. Being thus endowed with such potencies, one can become an unalloyed devotee of the Lord. Anyone favored by Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was empowered with this bhakti-śakti. Thus, the Lord’s followers were able to preach Kṛṣṇa consciousness by divine grace.

100-101 Being thus empowered, they would return to their own villages, always chanting the holy name of Kṛṣṇa and sometimes laughing, crying and dancing.  These empowered people used to request everyone and anyone-whomever they saw-to chant the holy name of Kṛṣṇa. In this way all the villagers would also become devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

PURPORT

In order to become an empowered preacher, one must be favored by Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu or His devotee, the spiritual master. One must also request everyone to chant the mahā-mantra. In this way, such a person can convert others to Vaiṣṇavism, showing them how to become pure devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

102-107 Simply by seeing such empowered individuals, people from different villages would become like them by the mercy of their glance.  When these individuals returned to their villages, they also converted others into devotees. When others came to see them, they also were converted.  In this way, as those men went from one village to another, all the people of South India became devotees.  Thus, many hundreds of people became Vaiṣṇavas when they passed the Lord on the way and were embraced by Him.  In whatever village Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu stayed to accept alms, many people came to see Him.  By the mercy of the Supreme Lord, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, everyone became a first-class devotee. Later they became teachers or spiritual masters and liberated the entire world. CC ML 7.98-107 and purports

I’ve already described the sādhu. If you want love of Kṛṣṇa, then you have associate with sādhu. Sādhu means kṛṣṇa-bhakta

Just like you have come here in this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement meeting because you have got little śraddhā, faith. This is called śraddhā. You have to increase this śraddhā. How? Ādau śraddhā tataḥ sādhu saṅga [Cc. Madhya 22.83], those who are Kṛṣṇa’s devotees, you have to associate with them. You cannot develop Kṛṣṇa consciousness by associating with drunkards and others. No. That is not possible. You have to associate with kṛṣṇa bhakta. Ādau śraddhā tataḥ sādhu saṅga [Cc. Madhya 23.14-15], sādhu means bhajate mām ananya-bhāk, sādhur eva sa mantavyaḥ [Bg. 9.30]. I’ve already described the sādhu. If you want love of Kṛṣṇa, then you have associate with sādhu. Sādhu means kṛṣṇa-bhakta.  April 13 1975 Hyderabad

……………………….

Unless one is favored by a devotee, he cannot understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

It is not possible to understand Kṛṣṇa simply by studying the Vedas perfectly. One must have the mercy of a devotee (yat-pādam). Unless one is favored by a devotee, he cannot understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Arjuna confirms this in the Bhagavad-gītā (10.14): “My Lord, it is very difficult to understand Your personality.” The less intelligent class of men cannot understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead without being favored by His devotee. Therefore, the Bhagavad-gītā (4.34) contains another injunction:

tad viddhi praṇipātena

paripraśnena sevayā

upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ

jñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ

One has to approach a bona fide spiritual master and surrender to him. Only then can one understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead as a person. CC ML 6.151 PURPORT EXCERPT

By the grace of a Vaiṣṇava or bona fide spiritual master one can get both love of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, and Kṛṣṇa Himself

TRANSLATION

All these devotees had unlimited strength to deliver unobstructed, unceasing love of Kṛṣṇa. By their own strength they could offer anyone Kṛṣṇa and love of Kṛṣṇa.

PURPORT

Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has sung, kṛṣṇa se tomāra, kṛṣṇa dite pāra, tomāra śakati āche. In this song, Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura describes that a pure Vaiṣṇava, as the proprietor of Kṛṣṇa and love of Kṛṣṇa, can deliver both to anyone and everyone he likes. Therefore, to get Kṛṣṇa and love of Kṛṣṇa one must seek the mercy of pure devotees. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura also says, yasya prasādād bhagavat-prasādo yasyāprasādān na gatiḥ kuto ‘pi: “By the mercy of the spiritual master one is blessed by the mercy of Kṛṣṇa. Without the grace of the spiritual master one cannot make any advancement.” By the grace of a Vaiṣṇava or bona fide spiritual master one can get both love of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, and Kṛṣṇa Himself. CC ADI-LILA CH 11 TEXT 59

Note: Following the instructions of the spiritual master is imperative; but this is not the complete formula for invoking the mercy of the spiritual master.  Along with our heartfelt attempt to follow the instructions of our spiritual master, we are also encouraged to prayerfully beseech our spiritual master to benedict us with the ability to follow his instructions as evidenced by the following quotations:  

“Thus, Sanatana Gosvami prayed for the Lord’s confirmation that the Lord’s teachings would actually evolve in his heart by His grace.  Otherwise Sanatana knew that there was no possibility of his being able to describe the Lord’s teachings.  The purport of this is that the acharyas are authorized by higher authorities.  Instruction alone cannot make one an expert.  Unless one is blessed by the spiritual master, or the acharya, such teachings cannot become fully manifest. Therefore, one should seek the mercy of the spiritual master so that the instructions of the spiritual master can develop within oneself.  After receiving the prayers of Sanatana Gosvami, Lord Caitanya placed His feet on the head of Sanatana and gave him His benedictions so that all His instructions would develop fully.”  (TLC, Chapter: The Ecstasy of the Lord and His Devotees)

ha ha prabhu koro doya, deho more pada-chaya

Translation:  O master!  Be merciful to me.  Give me the shade of your lotus feet.

(Sri Guru-vandana, Narottama das Thakur)

O venerable Vaisnava, O ocean of mercy, be merciful unto your servant.

Give me the shade of your lotus feet and purify me.

I hold on to your lotus feet

(Ohe! Vaisnava Thakura, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur)

Gurudeva, give to this servant just one drop of mercy……….

Give me all help.  Give me strength.

Let me be as you are,…..

Your mercy is all that I am made of.

If you are not merciful unto me, I can only weep,

and I will not be able to maintain my life.

(Gurudeva,  Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura)

Conclusion: All of our advancement in Krishna consciousness comes by the mercy of our spiritual master as we endeavor, with all of our hearts, to follow his instructions.But it is only by his mercy that we can acquire the spiritual strength that enables us to follow those instructions. We must not overlook the understanding that the process of most humbly begging for his merciful benediction, from moment to moment, is an indispensable ingredient of his overall bundle of instructions to us. Therefore, the sincere student prays as follows: 

Oh! Enjoyer of the nectar of the name,

when will I touch your lotus feet until the end of time?

When oh when will that day be mine?

(Kabe Ha’be Bolo, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur)

Until the end of time means to be “fixed up”, in begging for mercy, without break, eternally.  This is the prescribed instruction for obtaining the mercy of the acharya.  

Understanding that our progress in Krishna consciousness comes only by the mercy of our spiritual master is a major step forward.  And understanding that this mercy only comes to the disciple who is fixed as a heartfelt beggar at the lotus feet of His Divine Grace completes the prescription. Above all, it is mandatory that one understands that it is only that topmost maha bhagavata spiritual master, who is authorized and empowered by his spiritual master and Krishna, who can bestow such causeless mercy upon a sincere disciple. Otherwise it is only the business of the cheaters and the cheated. Therefore, we chant, “All glories to Srila Prabhupada!”

In order to highlight the mood of the acarya, for our eternal guidance, let us contemplate the words of Srila Prabhupada, delivered at the feet of his guru, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Maharaja, in the concluding lines of his Vyas Puja address:

……. Therefore, let me with all my earnestness pray at the lotus feet of my Divine master to let me suffer the lot which I am destined to do for all my past misdoings, but let me have this power of recollection (that I am nothing but a tiny servant of the almighty absolute Godhead) realized through the unflinching mercy of my Divine Master.  Let me therefore bow down at his lotus feet with all the humility at my command. 

In February 1936, in Bombay, India, Bombay Gaudiya Matha