Johannesburg, South Africa — Saturday, November 3rd

Srila Guru Maharaj's mercy

Today is the holy appearance day of my beloved spiritual master, His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad Srila Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj. In the Chaitanya Charitamrita, Mahaprabhu says:

brahmanda bhramite kona bhagyavan jiva
guru-krsna-prasade paya bhakti-lata-bija

Madhya Lila (19:151)

"Fortunate are those persons who, while being tempestuously tossed from one planet to another within this universe, get the opportunity, by Krishna's grace, to meet a genuine guru. By the mercy of both guru and Krishna, they receive the seed of good faith, the seed of devotion."

I only had the direct physical association of Srila Guru Maharaj when I went to the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math in Navadwip dham for four weeks in October of 1983 to celebrate His Divine Grace's Vyasa Puja, but as all the shastras say:

'sadhu-sanga,' 'sadhu-sanga' — sarva-sastre kaya
lava-matra sadhu-sange sarva-siddhi haya

"Even just a single moment of real association with a sadhu, or saint, is enough to ensure one's ultimate success in Krishna consciousness."

Although only recently initiated, I had been preaching extensively in Durban in the two years after reading Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj Prabhupad's Bhagavad Gita, As It Is in 1981, officiating at ten nama-sanghas (small neighborhood groups of devotees who meet every week for an hour of kirtan, krishna-katha, and prasadam), because I thought that was what we were supposed to do — preach!

I requested a personal darshan with Srila Guru Maharaj, and, although there were so many pilgrims at the Math at that time, His Divine Grace kindly agreed to see me.

While I waited nervously at the bottom of the stairs for Srila Guru Maharaj to send for me, I stood before the deities, Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Gandharva Govindasundarjiu, and as humbly and as sincerely as I could, said something like this:

"As You know, I am going up to see Srila Guru Maharaj now. I know that he is Your representative in this world, that he is non-different from You (acaryam mam vijaniyam). I want You. You know that. Please show me how to come to You. When I talk to You, I don't know if any direction I think I receive comes from You, or from my unreliable, sentimental sahajiya mind, but when I talk to Srila Guru Maharaj, I can be sure that You are talking to me. This may be the only conversation I shall have with Srila Guru Maharaj, so please let me know what You want me to do."

Then I walked up the stairs to Srila Guru Maharaj's veranda and sat expectantly at His Divine Grace's lotus feet, waiting for the nectar to flow from his lotus mouth (guru-mukha-padma-vakya) — but instead, I got a tongue-lashing that I will never forget! In less than half an hour, Srila Guru Maharaj destroyed all the misconceptions that I had about Krishna consciousness, as well as any quaint notions that I might have had about the efficacy of my so-called preaching:

"You try to save yourself first! You make busy yourself with how to be delivered yourself! Save yourself first, then you will know what to do. Don't be so eager to uplift others, otherwise, if it becomes a means of acquiring prestige for yourself, your life will be spoiled.

"First know what Krishna consciousness is yourself before you try to advise others. Give conscience to your own self. You know it first, have a stable position, and then you will think of others, otherwise it will become a trade-like thing for you. Half-knowledge, half-truth is more dangerous than falsehood. Do you understand?

"First know what the truth is before you go to distribute it, otherwise, in the name of distributing nectar, you will distribute poison. Half-truth is more dangerous than falsehood.

"Krishna consciousness is not one of many. It is not like Christianity, Islam or Buddhism — it is the best. Why is it the best? Try to study the special characteristics of Krishna consciousness. Before you try to educate others, educate yourself. Dive deep into the study of the scriptures. Realize yourself, and then speak from that plane.

"The first stage of Krishna consciousness is sravana-dasa: to attentively listen to what is what, until you become firm in your faith. If you do not establish a firm foundation in Krishna consciousness, some reaction will come in the near future and the whole thing will come crashing down. Slow but sure. Your progress may be slow, but your progress must be sure. Slow but sure wins the race. Do you understand?"

I understood that I was a fool — that everything that I thought I knew about Krishna consciousness was wrong — but I was so shocked by the severity of Srila Guru Maharaj's chastisement that, after I slunk down the stairs, I went to stand before the deities again and, feeling all sorry for myself, said:

"Gosh, Krishna, You are so heavy! Look, I know that I asked You to talk to me through Srila Guru Maharaj, but did You have to be so harsh? I know that everything You said is for my own good, but right now I feel so devastated. Please help me to understand Your instructions properly, and to do what You have told me to do. Thank You, I think..."

The words from Gurudeva's lotus mouth (guru mukha padma vakya) may not always be what we expect to hear, but if we take them to heart, they will revolutionize our consciousness (cittete koriya aikya) and destroy all our previous misconceptions (ara na koriho mane asa).

And that is what we want, right?

Our guardians must sometimes be cruel (to our ego) to be kind (to our soul). A parent may chastise a child out of affection. Srila Guru Maharaj was so merciful to me: he cared enough to correct me. Where would I be if he had spared my ego and allowed me to spoil my spiritual life?

Tags: Gurus & Guardians

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