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Is Bhagavan Subordinate to His Bhakta?

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sri sri guru gauranga jayatah!

Rays of The Harmonist On-Line Edition

Year-3, Issue 3
Posted: 3 April 2010

Dedicated to
nitya-lila pravista om visnupada

Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja

Inspired by and under the guidance of

Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja

Is Bhagavan Subordinate to His Bhakta?

by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada

(Portrait of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada)

Question 1: Is the absence of complete faith in Sri Bhagavan the cause of inauspiciousness?

Answer: Wherever there is an absence of complete, unflinching faith or confidence in the Supreme Lord, who is the embodiment of auspiciousness, inauspiciousness is inevitable. Therefore, in all respects, one must abandon the process of empiricism (arohapantha), or the path of hearing from inauthentic sources (asrautapantha), and instead accept the process of descending knowledge (avarohapantha), or the path of hearing the divine message from the authentic source (srautapantha). If we desire spiritual welfare, then with utmost selflessness, we must surrender all the material possessions we have acquired to date unto the Lotus feet of the Supreme Lord, and we must long for His causeless mercy.

Unless one is blessed by a particle of His mercy, it will be completely impossible to comprehend His message or anything about Him. Moreover, unless we have complete faith that it is His nature to bestow all auspiciousness upon us, we may not be able to relinquish our accumulated material possessions, free from doubt. That is, if I plunge into doubt by some misfortune, I may think, “If I renounce all that I have, will I not sink thereafter into the depths of great difficulty? If He will have nothing to give me, will I not become the loser on both ends – the material and the spiritual?” But this variety of doubt is completely baseless. If such doubts manifest, they simply lead the living entities to their own ruin.

* * *

The Supreme Lord never sends His surrendered devotees away with unfulfilled desires. The living entity can become fearless, free from all anxieties and truly happy only when he develops firm faith that Sri Bhagavan alone has the potency to fulfil all of his requirements and provide him shelter in every respect. When the living entity becomes the recipient of Bhagavan’s most propitious compassion (amandodaya daya) the depth of his good-fortune cannot be expressed in words. Upon receiving His mercy, the living entity obtains an especially invaluable, transcendental treasure: he feels a constant lacking and discontent. In other words, despite serving Him at each and every moment, his desire to serve the Lord does not end, he feels as if he is unable to serve Him at all and that he has not developed even a drop of love for Him. At that time, there will be no reason to lament, “cultivating the name, form, qualities and pastimes of the Lord is monotonous” or, “the future is full of the darkness of hopelessness” or, “I have been cheated by coming to Him”.

The Lord, who is grateful, competent and extremely benevolent, would never, ever immerse us in the ocean of despair. Although we possess the precious jewel called independence, our independence is, in fact, totally dependent upon the Lord. The moment I act in contradiction to this fact, the very moment I attempt to misuse my independence, I will be ruined.

If we beg the people of this world for help, none of them will be able to truly provide us with what we lack or offer solutions to our problems. For this reason, Srimad Bhagavad-gita instructs us with such a bold voice to completely surrender unto the lotus feet of the Supreme Being (bhagavad-vastu), the Lord of all lords. Sri Krsna alone is that bhagavad-vastu – Svayam Bhagavan Himself. To surrender unto Him is the one and only objective for the living being. Only when we surrender to Him completely shall we achieve perfection in all the goals of our life and perfectly comprehend everything concerning duty and non-duty. Therefore, the means by which one may attain such self-surrender, or complete saranagati, even while in the midst of many internal and external obstacles, is a topic of utmost importance that must be carefully deliberated upon.

Question 2: Is Bhagavan subordinate to His bhakta?

Answer: Verily, Sri Govinda is subordinate to the devotees. Although the devotees of Bhagavan are His energy, or sakti, still, in relation to service, the bhaktas have much more power, or sakti, to serve than the Lord Himself. And why not? If that were not so, they would not be able to serve Sri Bhagavan. Bhagavan is completely independent from any form of control or regulation, yet He becomes as if subservient and controlled by the beauty of the service of the devotees and says:

aham bhakta-paradhino
hy asvatantra iva dvija
sadhubhir grasta-hrdayo
bhaktair bhakta-jana-priyah

Srimad-Bhagavatam (9.4.63)

O brahmana, I am subordinate to My devotees. In fact, it is as if I am not at all independent, for the sadhus are the true owners of My heart. And the devotees of My devotees are also extremely dear to Me.

In reality, it is impossible to serve effectively unless one is directly cognizant of the emotions deep within the heart of the person being served. Sometimes, the topmost servants may wait for the orders of their master, but other times, aware of the inner feelings of their worshipful lord, they may serve him without being ordered. As the soul of all souls, Bhagavan wanders in the hearts of His devotees, and in the same way, the devotees wander in the heart of Bhagavan; they are the soul of the Supreme soul.

Question 3: Who should one associate with?

Answer: Only he who preaches that one ought to serve Bhagavan with devotion is sri guru. And none but the devotees are actually saintly personalities, or sadhus. The conceptions of karmis, jnanis and yogis all stem from aversion to Bhagavan and to serving Him (bahirmukhata). One must therefore renounce the association of karma-yogis, brahma-jnanis, mayavadis and ku-yogis (imposter yogis). One must only associate with bhakti-yogis. Only then can one achieve spiritual welfare.

Question 4: Is Srila Gurudeva a mortal human being?

Answer: Srila Gurudeva is never a mortal human being. He is not merely a lump of flesh and blood that may perish in a moment. In Srimad-Bhagavatam it is said that Srila Gurudeva is Bhagavan Himself. He is an incarnation.

By his own sweet will, Srila Gurudeva mercifully descends from the world of divinity to this one. He is eternally present in both manifest and non-manifest pastimes. He always resides as our lord and arouses our faculty of intelligence (buddhi-vrtti).

Sri guru – the embodiment of sat, cit and ananda – is a supra-mundane, exalted personality. One who considers him to be an ordinary human being will offend the holy name and find himself in hell. Sri guru is the knower of the reality of the soul, he is the knower of the reality of Sri Krsna and He is the most beloved fellow of Sri Caitanyadeva. He has descended just to deliver fallen souls like us. He is neither a karmi, nor jnani nor yogi; He is the topmost devotee of Bhagavan – a companion in the pastimes of the Ocean of Pastimes Himself.

Just as deva is eternal, sri guru is also eternal. Here the word deva refers to aprakrta kamadeva Sri Krsna, the God of transcendental love. Srila Gurudeva is the very svarupa of that same Krsna – that is, he is the non-different, intrinsic from of Krsna; he is the direct manifestation of Sri Krsna (prakasa-vigraha).

When we contemplate non-difference from the Lord, Srila Gurudeva holds the topmost position on the continuum of worshipful entities. Although he is Bhagavan Himself, he is very dear to the Lord. Srila Gurudeva manifests his pastimes as the embodiment (vigraha) of Visnu’s asraya-jatiya aspect – that is, as the Supreme abode of love of God. Sri guru and Sri Krsna are simultaneously and inconceivably one and different (acintya-bedhabheda-tattva). Srila Gurudeva is the supreme shelter of love of God (asraya-jatiya-tattva) and Sri Krsna is the Supreme Godhead (visaya-tattva). Srila Gurudeva is sevaka-bhagavan, the Lord as the abode of loving service, and Sri Krsna is sevya-bhagavan, the Lord in the mode of the object of loving service, or Svayam Bhagavan. In the vision of a disciple who has realized his own svarupa while pursuing raga-marga, Srila Gurudeva, who is so dear to Sri Mukunda, is perceived as non-different from Sri Krsna’s sakti – that is, he is a manifestation of Sri Varsabhanavi, Radhika.

Srila Gurudeva, who is exremely dear to Sri Krsna, is the internal potency (svarupa-sakti) while Sri Krsna is the fountainhead of all potencies (saktiman). Sri Krsna is the enjoyer (purusa), and our gurudeva is Sri Krsna’s nature (prakrti) and His beloved (kanta).

Translated by the Rays of The Harmonist team
from Srila Prabhupadera Upadesamrta
Questions re-numbered for this on-line presentation

Srila Prabhupadera Upadesamrta is a compilation of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada’s instructions in question-and-answer form.

Next Issue - Year 3, Issue 4: “The Enlightening Potency of Words”, 3 May 2010
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