Calcutta, West Bengal, India — Friday, July 21st
Srila Gurudeva's order
Part II of III: Why Srila Gurudeva's order is inviolable — From a talk I gave about the four regulative principles to prospective disciples of Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Maharaj in August 2005, on Lord Balaram's Appearance Day, at the Vaishnava Festival in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Today is a very auspicious day: the divine appearance day (birthday) of Lord Balaram, who is the general representation of guru. It is also a special day, an appropriate day, for the fortunate few who will become disciples of His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Maharaj when they receive initiation from His Divine Grace later this morning.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says that a sincere disciple must have three qualifications: pranipatena, pariprasnena and sevaya. Srila Sridhar Maharaj says that pranipatena means that we should be "finished with the charm of this material world." We have been frustrated in all our material activities — and even spiritually, any connection that we have tried to make on our own with divinity has failed — so we seek relief by searching for a qualified guru and surrendering to his lotus feet.
We are told that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Prabhupad used to say, "Don't come to me with a 'return ticket' when you come to take initiation." So don't come here today to take initiation from Srila Gurudeva then go back to doing whatever you were doing before. What is the value of that? Sure, you will be able tell your friends, "Hey, guess what? I have a guru now!" but is that all initiation means to you?
Initiation means that we are so charmed by the Krishna conception of divinity that we hear from Srila Gurudeva (pariprasnena) that we request initiation from His Divine Grace (pranipatena) so that we can learn to serve that transcendental plane under his guidance (sevaya).
Pariprasnena means to respectfully ask Srila Gurudeva questions — not about how we can make our lives more enjoyable in this material world, but about how we can properly serve His Divine Grace (sevaya). We never want to engage that higher, transcendental world in our service: sevaya means that we want to serve, not be served.
Remember, pranipatena means that we are finished with the charm of this material world; we have no further ambitions in this world; we are tired of exploiting this world; we want to dedicate ourselves exclusively to that higher, transcendental world. So when we request initiation, we have to be prepared to make some sacrifices: to give up those material activities that are not favorable to our new spiritual lives of dedication.
Srila Gurudeva therefore asks us to follow four regulative principles: no illicit sex, no intoxication, no meat-eating, and no gambling. This is not something that I am just making up! This is not my opinion: it is Srila Gurudeva's order. If you actually read his books, you will see that Srila Gurudeva says: "The four regulations are the basic foundation for everybody.... It is inconceivable to me that anyone who comes to receive initiation does not know about the four directives and the rules and regulations of Krishna consciousness."
Incredibly, even in our own society we find some so-called devotees — so-called disciples of Srila Gurudeva — saying that it is "not necessary" to follow the four regulative principles. I don't know where they get this ridiculous idea from! If they took the time to read Srila Gurudeva's books and listen to his digital recordings, they would find that His Divine Grace repeatedly advises us to follow the rules and regulations.
Anybody who says that it is not necessary to follow the four regulative principles is an offender to Srila Gurudeva. Why do they say this? They are not followers of Srila Gurudeva or Srila Guru Maharaj. They are not members of our Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math. They should get out!
It is inconceivable that anybody could so insolently and so blatantly — within our own society! — abuse Srila Gurudeva and deceive his sincere disciples like this. We hate these backstabbers! They are destroying our mission. They are betraying the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math and all that it stands for. To such traitors I say emphatically: "Get out! You do not belong here, so take your things and get out!"
As I said earlier, there are also ten offenses against the Holy Name that must be avoided, and you should understand what these are too, because if you chant the maha-mantra that you receive from Gurudeva but are not careful to avoid these offenses to the Holy Name, you will not make any substantial advancement in Krishna consciousness.
There is no time to discuss all ten offenses now, but I am scheduled to discuss a different one every day for the rest of this ten-day Vaishnava Festival. In any case, when you receive initiation you will get a book that lists all the offenses, and you should study these offenses, try to understand what they mean, and why you are told to avoid them.
The first offense against the Holy Name is to blaspheme the guru. If Srila Gurudeva asks you to follow the four regulative principles but you defy the order of your guru and openly challenge his authority by telling to his disciples that is not necessary to follow his instructions — that is an offense against the Holy Name. How can you abuse Srila Gurudeva like that, usurp his position, encourage his disciples to disobey his orders, and still expect the Holy Name to be pleased with you?
This is the very first offense against the Holy Name, because Krishna gives Himself to us through His agent (acaryam mam vijaniyan). How can we get Krishna if we abuse this authorized agent of the Absolute? Srila Gurudeva is our only connection with the transcendental world. We sabotage our spiritual development when we disrespect or criticize him, and we commit spiritual suicide when we incite others to defy him.
The seventh offense against the Holy Name is to sin and chant. It is suicidal to think, "Since the Holy Name of Krishna is so powerful, there is no need for me to give up my sinful activities — to abstain from illicit sex, intoxication, meat-eating and gambling — because when I chant the maha-mantra, all my sins will be washed away."
Don't do that! Don't abuse Krishna like that! Don't use Krishna to clean up the filthy mess that you have made — to wipe away the reactions to your sins — and then toss Him aside like a dirty rag when you're done!
How can Krishna be pleased with us if we use Him as a washrag? How can we expect Krishna to reveal Himself in our hearts when we exploit Him for our filthy purposes like that? How can we expect to make any advancement in Krishna consciousness with an attitude like that?
Krishna consciousness is not a game. When you get initiated, you make a serious commitment to Sri Guru and Krishna. Think about what I have said and try to understand your responsibilities and obligations as a disciple, otherwise your attempt to become Krishna conscious — however sincere it may be now — will ultimately fail if you ignore the rules and regulations and disregard Srila Gurudeva's instructions...
—From Affectionate Guidance—
In this letter, reprinted in Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Maharaj's book, Affectionate Guidance, His Divine Grace is incredulous that some of his disciples might not be aware of, or follow the four regulative principles:
[When senior devotees like you] recommend someone for initiation, why would I think that they don't know the rules and regulations? It is inconceivable to me that anyone who comes to receive initiation does not know about the four directives and the rules and regulations of Krishna consciousness! I assume they must all know the primary rules and regulations.
Srimad Bhagavatam states that by following the directives one will be pious, otherwise if one is engaged in sinful activities, how can they get the connection with, and the practice of, Krishna consciousness? It is a very simple matter....
Everywhere there is a natural process of rules and regulations. The four regulations are the basic foundation for everybody. These regulations are like learning the alphabet: without learning the alphabet it is not possible to read any book...
I must say clearly that when anyone wants to practice Krishna consciousness, they must formally or practically try to make themselves a pious person. But piety must be disturbed if one will not follow the four regulative principles....
Perhaps, for the time being, they cannot leave those habits, but why should [they engage in sinful activities] twenty-four hours a day? If we have no sincerity in our practicing life, we cannot get the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu.
—From Forgotten Promises—
In early August 2004, Madhusudan Prabhu interviewed Srila Govinda Maharaj for his popular Internet Radio based in Hawaii. I printed this excerpt from that interview in my Forgotten promises blog:
"We are preaching in a very simple way," [Srila Gurudeva] said. "Chant Hare Krishna without offense, be humble, be tolerant, and give honor to others. All over the world, our preaching style is like that. And we are not only preaching this, but we are trying to practice this as well."
Then Srila Gurudeva's voice became grave, and he began to lament:
"When we joined the mission, when we took initiation, we made a promise to ourselves and to our guru, but now we are forgetting our promise. Circumstances are changing our promise, and we are becoming a slave to circumstances.
"That is not acceptable," Srila Gurudeva said emphatically. "It is not palatable, not recognizable. But this is the fact: our devotees are very sweet devotees, very good devotees, but when they are forgetting their promise, that becomes painful. How will we adjust [that] with our life, and practicing procedures (sadhana)? Very difficult."
Layout by iMonk — July 21st, 2006.