Calcutta, India — Friday, August 10th

23rd World Tour begins

Srila Gurudeva begins his 23rd World Tour today, with His Divine Grace's first visit to Bangkok, Thailand. Shortly after breakfast, Srila Gurudeva comes down the stairs to offer his obeisance to Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Radha Madana Mohanjiu before leaving for the airport.

All the devotees who have been waiting downstairs for the past hour to see Srila Gurudeva one last time before he leaves, surge around His Divine Grace, offering their garlands and their obeisances.

Included in Srila Gurudeva's entourage for this first part of the tour are Sripad Bhakti Sudhir Goswami Maharaj, Sadhu Priya, Gopal and Ranajit Prabhu, Jamuna Priya and Bhakti Lalita Devi Dasi.

Tags: World tours

Calcutta, India — Sunday, August 12th

Disappearing gurus

Today is the holy disappearance day of His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj. Why do we refer to these days — the anniversary of the death of our great Vaishnava acharyas — as "disappearance" days?

When I first came into contact with Krishna consciousness and heard that Srila Prabhupad had disappeared, I remember thinking: "What happened to him? Did anybody ever find him?" Why do we say that Srila Guru Maharaj disappeared? Is "disappeared" a euphemism for death? Is it just another way of saying that he "passed away"?

Our Vaishnava calendar is based on the lunar month, and each month ends on the full moon day (purnima). Today is the dark moon day (amavasya). Srila Guru Maharaj disappeared on this day, on the day when the moon disappears from the sky. Srila Guru Maharaj is still present, but like the moon, he is invisible to our naked eye.

Where does the moon go to when it disappears? Why can't we see it? When the moon aligns with the sun on the same side of the earth, the illuminated half of the moon faces the sun and the dark side of the moon faces the earth, so although the moon is still present in the sky, it is invisible from the earth. Anybody with a rudimentary knowledge of astronomy knows this.

Similarly, any disciple with even an elementary understanding of our philosophy knows that even when the guru disappears from our vision — when he cannot be seen from this earthly plane because he is (once again) aligned with the effulgence of the spiritual sky — his presence can still be felt.

Spring tides — the exceptionally high and low tides that occur when the sun and moon are directly in line with the earth and their gravitational pulls reinforce each other — occur during both the full moon and the dark moon. Just as the earth feels the intense influence of the unseen presence of the dark moon in her spring tides, we can feel the strong influence of the unseen presence of Srila Guru Maharaj in our prayers.

When gurudeva disappears from our vision — not only when he leaves this world (as in the case of Srila Guru Maharaj), but also when he is far away, in another country (as Srila Gurudeva is now, on his 23rd World Tour) — we can still feel his influence. When we need his advice, we may stand before (a picture, a book, or a mental image of) him, and pray: "Please help me. Please tell me what to do."

According to our sincerity and the intensity of our prayer — if we are exclusively surrendered and attentive to our guru (pranipatena), if we are honestly seeking an answer from him (pariprasnena) not for our own selfish reasons, but only with the desire to serve him (sevaya) — we will be able to discern our unseen guru's advice to some degree (upadeksyanti te jnanam). "The soul receives a revelation when it is anxious for it," according to Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur.

Of course, the veracity of this transmission will depend upon our ability to receive it — on the capacity of our realization, or how deeply we are diving into reality — so it is always a good idea to try to confirm the validity of these instructions with the senior Vaishnavas in our mission.

It is easy to see the guru when he lights up this planet like the full moon at night, but to detect his presence when he is no longer visible, on the dark moon nights, takes some expertise. So on this dark day in our lives, when we commemorate the disappearance of our beloved Srila Guru Maharaj, we meditate on his powerful unseen presence, and his continuous influence on our lives.

Tags: About Guru | Slokas

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