Navadwip, India — Thursday, April 7th
A reader writes: "We were singing 'Sri Guru Charana-Padma' (Srila Narottama das Thakur's Sri Guru-Vaishnava Mahatmya-Giti) and when we came to this line,
ha ha prabhu koro doya, deho more pada-chaya
O master! Please be merciful to me; give me the shade of your lotus feet...
I thought, what a wonderful expression this is: 'the shade of your lotus feet.'
"Just imagine after walking for days under the hot desert sun, coming to an oasis where you can slake your thirst and get some shelter in the cooling shade of a tree. It is a material example, but it can nevertheless give us some idea of what 'shade of your lotus feet' may mean. Wandering the length and breadth of the universe, suffering so much in this harsh, unforgiving foreign land, how wonderful it is to at last arrive at the cooling shade of the lotus feet of His Divine Grace..."
Yes, I replied. When I see this line, "Give me the shade of your lotus feet" (deho more pada-chaya), it always reminds me how wonderfully Srila Gurudeva designed our Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math logo to depict, and constantly remind us of that: if the fragile lotus flower (disciple) is exposed directly to the sun (Krishna, the source of all life) without the life-sustaining nourishment, protection, and support of water (Sri Guru), the sun will scorch and shrivel the lotus.
In Loving Search For The Lost Servant, Srila Guru Maharaj says:
...We must learn to see the Lord's hand in everything. And therefore the Vedas tell us to remember that the glance of the Lord is always upon us:
om tad visno paramam padam / sada pasyanti suraya
We are asked to see the holy feet of Narayan as we see the sun in the sky. Why the sun? The sun is described as pradarsaka: the seer, the witness. Apparently we see the sun, but really the sun helps us to see.
The holy feet of Vishnu mean the lowest part of Vishnu (yoge vidhayam yasya vidyate kvacit). His lower part to us is the beginning of realization for us. The beginning of realization is to think that God is always seeing us. As the sun helps us to see, Vishnu's holy feet are like the sun. So we should try to always see everything by the rays of the holy feet of Vishnu.
Krishna's lotus feet are compared to the sun. The sun is too bright to be looked at directly. Just as we have to shade our eyes with our hand when we want to look at the sun, the shade (shelter) of Srila Gurudeva's lotus feet will help us to see Krishna more clearly.
The sun (Krishna) enables us to see, but we cannot look at it (have knowledge of Him) directly. So, "Give me the shade of your lotus feet" doesn't so much mean "protect me from the sun" — keep me safe from Krishna! — but rather, "Help me to see Krishna more clearly (by instilling the proper conception of Krishna consciousness in me)."
Ideally, we don't surrender to Srila Gurudeva so that we can use the shade of his holy lotus feet to protect us from the blazing heat of material existence (because we never want to engage Srila Gurudeva in our service). To surrender (pranipatena) means to obey (pariprasnena) and to serve (sevaya), and this is emphasized in Bhagavad Gita by the quintessential guru, Krishna:
tad viddhi pranipatena / pariprasnena sevaya
upadeksyanti te jnanam / jnaninas tattva-darsinah
"If you want to see Me, to know Me (tad viddhi), you must shade your eyes from the blinding light of the Supreme Absolute Truth by taking shelter of Srila Gurudeva's holy lotus feet (pranipatena). My effulgence is too bright for you to gaze upon Me directly, so Srila Gurudeva will teach you (pariprasnena) how to see Me through service (sevaya). Only My authorized agents, My pure devotees (jnaninas) can see and communicate with Me directly (tattva-darsinah) and show you how you too can get My darshan someday (upadeksyanti te jnanam)."
When I stayed here at this Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math in Navadwip for one month with Srila Guru Maharaj in October 1983, every morning we used to go up to Srila Guru Maharaj's veranda to get his darshan and to hear from His Divine Grace, and every morning one of our sannyasis used to touch Srila Guru Maharaj's feet after offering his dandavat pranams, until finally, one morning, Srila Guru Maharaj said: "It is not so easy to touch the lotus feet of Srila Gurudeva!"
'Lotus feet' means service. Our sincerity can be judged by the degree to which we are willing to surrender (pranipatena) to the order of Srila Gurudeva (pariprasnena) and to follow those instructions (sevaya). "Surrender is not a lip transaction." We get the shade of Srila Gurudeva's lotus feet when His Divine Grace accepts our service — and it is not so easy to serve Srila Gurudeva:
...Only those disciples who surrender absolutely and exclusively (pranipatena) to Srila Gurudeva, who submissively receive [his] divine revelation without skepticism or argument (pariprasnena), with the sole intention of using this insight and enlightenment to unselfishly serve His Divine Grace (sevaya)...
can truly get the shelter (service) of Srila Gurudeva's lotus feet.
Layout by iMonk — April 7th, 2011.