Śrī Gāyatrī Mantrārtha Dīpikā – Illuminations on the Essential Meaning of Gāyatrī
Chapter Four – Śrī Akhaṇḍa Guru Tattva – The Principle of Guru in Śrī Guru Gāyatrī
by Śrīla Bhakti Nandan Swāmī Mahārāja
The cause of the guru disciple relationship as it manifests in the life of a spiritual seeker is the sweet will of the divine couple Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, and it is divinely ordained that one who seeks pure devotional service to Them shall be introduced to Them through Their divine representative Śrī Gurudeva. As Śrī Guru is a living principle of śrī-guru-tattva, he is a direct expansion of the grace of the divine couple, and is thus a natural transparent medium for the seeker’s entrance into eternal life with Them. Śrī Guru is known as an affectionate guardian, friend, and guide; a kind messenger of immortal divine hope and prospect. It is Śrī Gaurāṅga Mahāprabhu, the highest manifestation of śrī-guru-tattva, who has beautifully revealed its conclusive truths to the world. He revealed that when a person aspires to live a life of dedicated service, earnestly seeking shelter in the ambrosial embrace of Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa’s blissful, loving pastimes, Śrī Guru appears. In that unlimitedly beautiful world of ecstatic love for Kṛṣṇa, ultimately everything exists to enhance the līlā and pleasure of the divine couple, and therefore Śrī Guru is found in each of the five main rasas (śānta, dāsya, sakhya, vātsalya, and mādhurya).
The gurus of each rasa are self-fulfilled within their respective rasas, and are credited with the excellence of their unique individual aspects of sevā both in this world and within Goloka. Śrī Guru helps his disciple to gradually cultivate devotional love for the divine couple within and properly attain entrance into Their eternal loving service. He then further enriches that relationship in variegated beautiful ways following the taste of his own guru-varga. The Divine Couple become especially pleased with a devotee who engages in the loving devotional worship and service of his pure guru. Therefore holy sādhus and śāstras especially emphasize the need for accepting and following such a sat-guru with a respectful service attitude.
The meditation on śrī-gāyatrī plays a most vital role in the relationship between Śrī guru and his disciple. Śrī Guru naturally remains inseparable from gāyatrī meditation because it is Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa’s grace personified within Śrī Guru which initiates such a fortunate soul into the gāyatrī-mantra. Śrī-gāyatrī then gradually reveals to that devotee the ultimate objective and principle of initiation, inspiring him to wholeheartedly embrace its accompanying meditational practices throughout life. Therefore, in the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava tradition, the guru-mantra and guru-gāyatrī are meditated upon with utmost respect and gratitude following the brahma-gāyatrī dhyāna. The last part of brahma-gāyatrī—dhiyo yo naḥ pracodayāt—clearly indicates the function and role of Śrī Guru. The term pracodayāt means ‘directs towards’ or ‘engages in.’ deva (Kṛṣṇa) and His effulgent, glorious pleasure-potency bhargo (Rādhikā) inspire the transcendental intelligence of a jīva-soul, attract such a soul towards Their lotus feet, and engage him in pure devotional service to Them. The transparent via-medium through whom such service descends to a disciple is Śrī Guru or guru-tattva. It is to be especially noted that Śrī Guru first initiates a devotee with the brahma-gāyatrī. That same brahma-gāyatrī then directs the devotee to worship Śrī Gurudeva for further benefit and accomplishment. It is therefore significant that the guru-mantra and guru-gāyatrī follow the brahma-gāyatrī.
Śrī guru-mantra and guru-gāyatrī refer to the akhaṇḍa āśraya vigraha, the complete guru-tattva. This akhaṇḍa (undivided) guru-tattva manifests in three aspects, namely: caitya–guru, dīkṣā-guru, and śikṣā-guru respectively. Caitya-guru is none other than the indwelling Supersoul, Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa within. Dīkṣā-guru and śikṣā-guru are the two kinds of physically present gurus appearing externally as pure devotees in human form. Such gurus, exclusively on the higher stage of ātma–nivedana from the uttama-madhyama and uttama-adhikārī level, eternally remain manifest through their holy legacy. These three aspects of guru-tattva are the aim and subject of mantra meditation. According to one’s inspiration one may meditate upon each guru individually with distinction, or upon all three of them collectively in harmonious interrelation and unity. (1) The holy scriptures recommend that while chanting the aforementioned mantras, one should meditate upon Śrī Guru’s eternal form (if it has been revealed) in a way which is unified with contemplation on his manifest saintly human persona as well.
(1) The guru-mantra and guru-gāyatrī in regard to the worship of caitya-guru are aiṁ gurave namaḥ and aiṁ gurudevāya vidmahe caityarūpāya dhīmahi tanno guruḥ pracodayāt. There are also a few other guru-mantras and guru-gāyatrīs slightly distinct from one another among the four Vaiṣṇava sampradāyas.
The following reference to the guru-mantra is found in the Sūta-śaunaka-samvāda of the Bṛhad-brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa: śrīṁ guṁ bhagavad-gurave svāhā; and reference to the guru-gāyatrī is found in the Padma Purāṇa as follows: śrīṁ gurudevāya vidmahe gaurapriyāya dhīmahi tanno guruù pracodayāt. Śrīla Dhyānacandra Gosvāmī recorded these mantras in his Śrī Gaura-Govindārcana-smaraṇa Paddhati, and some Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas headed by him have accepted them in their worship of Śrī Guru. (2) These mantras specifically indicate a guru of mādhurya-rasa bhakti, whose inner identity personifies the highest kind of love relationship with the Divine Couple – principally that of a divine damsel of Goloka who is always engaged in Their blissful loving service. (This refers only to nitya-siddha and sādhana-siddha gurus.)
(2) Śrī Dhyānacandra Gosvāmī has been recognized as a member of the guru-varga following the lineage of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. In the concluding paragraph of Chapter 30 in his book Jaiva Dharma, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has described him as follows: “Śrī Dhyānacandra Gosvāmī was a perfect master in all subjects, and especially in the esoteric art of cultivating love for Śrī Hari he was second to none. He was the first and foremost of all the disciples of Śrī Gopāla Guru Gosvāmī.” Śrī Gopāla Guru Gosvāmī was the disciple of Śrī Vakreśvara Paṇḍita, who was an intimate associate of Śrī Gaurāṅgadeva.
Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, however, found some misapplication of the guru-mantra established by Dhyānacandra Gosvāmī in relation to certain unqualified gurus during his time. Being concerned about the situation, he preferred not to introduce that mantra to his society lest he be identified with its inappropriate use. He realized through revelation that it would be most helpful for all classes of spiritual students to enter into the mādhurya-rasa conception of Śrī Guru at a more mature stage of spiritual understanding. He wanted to protect the highest conception of Śrī Guru from misuse, and thus he directed his followers along a safer path which would give rise to true advancement in a practical way instead of through an artificial and abrupt path of so-called progress. This genuine path delineating the true conception of Śrī guru begins from his divya-jñāna-svarūpa and culminates in his mādhurya-prema-svarūpa.
The mantras which Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura gave to his followers are aiṁ gurave namaḥ and aiṁ gurudevāya vidmahe kṛṣṇānandāya dhīmahi tanno guruḥ pracodayāt. The guru-mantra and guru-gāyatrī presented by Śrīla Dhyānacandra Gosvāmī and Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura are deeply interrelated and differ only in manner of presentation; not in their intrinsic nature or divine essence. Therefore, dear devotees, let us now enter into the beautiful world of the meaning and purport of śrī-guru-mantra and guru-gāyatrī, appreciating their naturally harmonious characteristics.
The precise but full translation of guru-gāyatrī is as follows:
“Understanding Śrī guru as the pure representation of kṛṣṇānanda/gaurapriya-tva let me thus meditate on that – his divine svarūpa and engage in his service. May he further enthuse and engage me in that meditation and devotional service to him.”
In the guru-mantra presented by Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura (aiṁ gurave namaḥ), aiṁ is the seed mantra of the specific aspect of Kṛṣṇa’s potency which manifests in the form of His pure devotee Śrī Guru or guru-tattva.
Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s qualities of sat-cit-ānanda have three corresponding potencies: sandhinī, samvit, and hlādinī. Aiṁ represents the samvit aspect of divine cognizance and knowledge (cit) which congenially promotes the hlādinī aspect (ānanda) unified by sandhinī (sat).
Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the viṣaya-vigraha (the supreme object of all worship) and Śrī Rādhikā is the original āśraya-vigraha (the supreme worshiper of the viṣaya-vigraha). Both aiṁ and śrīṁ are the seed mantras for the āśraya-vigraha, yet despite their close interrelation, these two bīja mantras are slightly distinct from one another. Aiṁ represents divya-jñāna-tattva which culminates in mādhurya-prema-tattva, and śrīṁ represents that mādhurya-prema-tattva congenially promoted by that divya-jñāna (aiṁ). (3) Aiṁ includes sat-gurus of all five main rasas in deeper harmonious relation to śrīṁ.
(3) The two characteristic functions of Śrī Guru and guru-tattva are awakening divya-jñāna and prema-bhakti within his disciples. As gu means darkness and ru means destroying, the word guru primarily refers to one who removes the darkness of ignorance with the light of divine knowledge. Examples from among the writings of the Vaiṣṇava ācāryas are:..sarva-vidyā-viśāradaḥ (Śrī Hari-bhakti-vilāsa 1.35) divyaṁ jñānam yato dadyāt (Viṣṇu-yāmala) and cakṣudāna dila yei, janme janme prabhu sei, divya jñāna hṛde prakāśita/ prema bhakti jāhā hoite, avidyā vināsa yāte (Śrīla Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura).
Aiṁ represents Goddess Sarasvatī, who is pure transcendental knowledge, enlightenment, and intelligence that fully promotes kṛṣṇa-prema-bhakti. In the holy scriptures she has been addressed as parā-vidyā (the highest super-excellent knowledge), ahaitukī-jñāna (causelessly revealed knowledge), divya-jñāna (purely divine knowledge), prajñāna (the topmost transcendental knowledge) and vidyā-vadhū (beautiful divine knowledge full of devotional love as referred to in Śikṣāstakam). Addressing Śrī Guru with this bīja-mantra significantly indicates that Śrī Guru and guru-tattva are the pure representation of such divine knowledge and intelligence which exclusively promote nothing other than mādhurya-prema-sevā.
Sarasvatī Devī is among the most endeared and beautiful expansions of Śrīmati Rādhārani. Her bīja-mantra is aiṁ, and Śrīmati Rādhikā’s bīja-mantra is śrīṁ. Thus aiṁ is the expansion of śrīṁ, and therefore the seed mantra aiṁ in the guru–mantra and guru-gāyatrī esoterically indicates that Śrī Guru and guru-tattva are ultimately also expansions of rādhikā-tattva.
sarasvatī kṛṣṇa-priyā, kṛṣṇa-bhakti tāḥra hiyā,
vinodera sei se vaibhāva
“Decorated with the effulgence of knowledge of divine love, damsel Śuddha Sarasvatī is ever dedicated to pleasing Kṛṣṇa. As such she is dearly loved by Kṛṣṇa and is the treasure of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda’s heart.” (Kalyāṇa kalpataru, Upadeśa, 10th song)
Being non-different from divya-jñāna-tattva (prajñāna), a guru of mādhurya-rasa (as referred to by the word aiṁ) is understood to be of a similar nature and identity as this same tattva in the nitya-līlā of the Divine Couple.
Gurave means unto Śrī Gurudeva, and namaḥ is an obeisance meaning: “I respectfully dedicate myself to the service of Śrī Gurudeva.” Thus deeply entering into this full-fledged conception with its slightly mysterious connotation, Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura chose the bīja mantra aiṁ to represent Śrī Guru, and therefore presented the guru-mantra as aiṁ gurave namaḥ.
The guru-mantra as presented by Śrīla Dhyānacandra Gosvāmī is śrīṁ guṁ bhagavad gurave svāhā. Śrīṁ means saundarya and ānanda, which denotes beauty and ecstasy – the components of hlādinī-śakti – which originates from Śrī Rādhikā. Śrīṁ therefore refers to Śrī Guru as a pure representative of this hlādinī potency.
Guṁ is another seed mantra for Śrī Guru and guru-tattva; bhagavad gurave means, ‘Unto the guru who is non-different from the Supreme Lord’ and svāhā means, ‘I dedicate my heart unto.’ As śrīṁ is the bīja-mantra for worshiping Śrī Rādhikā, the application of this bīja-mantra to Śrī Guru has special significance. It reveals the truth that either by his internal nature in this world, or in all respects on the plane of nitya-līlā, a guru of mādhurya-rasa bhakti has an inseparable relationship with Śrī Rādhikā. Sublimely imbued as he is with Śrī Rādhā’s grace, such a guru is considered to be Her qualitative expansion as a sakhī or mañjarī or one of their intimate servitors, and therefore he has also been referred to as śrīṁ.
Bhagavad refers to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and bhagavad gurave indicates that Śrī Guru is the manifestation of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s grace as well. A mādhurya-rasa guru is devoted not only to Śrīmati Rādhārani, but also to Śrī Kṛṣṇa. He offers his devotion to Kṛṣṇa by loyally attending upon Śrī Rādhikā, and being pleased with such pure loving service, the aprākṛta Yugala (Divine Couple) bless him with further entrance into Their confidential pastimes, which are full of quintessential love-ecstasy. He is considered so very close and dear to Them that he remains eternally blessed by an inseparable love-relationship with Them. By receiving such recognition from the Divine Couple, he ever feels that he cannot live without that grace. This union with the Divine Couple in irresistible love-attraction makes him Their intimate representative. Therefore bhagavad gurave refers to the personification of the divine grace of the bhāgavata.
The deepest significance of the word svāhā is dedication of one’s heart. Thus, the conclusive translation of the guru-mantra, śrīṁ guṁ bhagavad gurave svāhā in the line of Gauḍīya siddhānta is, “I respectfully dedicate my heart and soul to the holy service of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa (4) through service to Śrī Guru, who is a non-different manifestation of Their mercy.”
(4) Śrīṁ and bhagavad refer to Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa respectively.
The distinction between the guru-gāyatrīs accepted and established by Dhyānacandra Gosvāmī and Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura for their guru-dhyāna is twofold: (1) the invocation bīja-mantras (aiṁ in contrast to śrīṁ), and (2) the term describing Śrī Guru’s characteristic (kṛṣṇānanda as distinct from gaura-priya). These definitions of Śrī Guru are like two petals of the same lotus, and each aspect of guru-tattva has a distinct taste in relationship to the Divine Couple. While Kṛṣṇānanda refers to Śrī Guru’s relishing the taste of mādhurya-rasa-sevā through mādhurya (that which embraces within it all other wholesome love-mellows), gaura-priya refers to Śrī Guru’s tasting mādhurya-rasa sevā through the mood of audārya (the act of magnanimously sharing the above-described mādhurya). The inner meanings of these two terms are so closely interrelated that they cannot really be separated from one another, and therefore their distinction appears only in simultaneous unity (bhedābheda siddhānta).
In the gāyatrī-mantra, aiṁ gurudevāya vidmahe kṛṣṇānandāya dhīmahi tanno guruù pracodayāt, aiṁ is the seed mantra for Śrī Guru or guru-tattva; gurudevāya means devoted to Śrī Gurudeva; vidmahe denotes sambandha-jñāna (one’s progressive understanding in relation to the guru’s svarūpa and ultimate realization of that svarūpa through devotion); kṛṣṇānandāya represents the offering of veneration unto one who is full of ecstatic love for Kṛṣṇa and who gives pleasure to the heart of Kṛṣṇa through pure love-service; dhīmahi represents the abhidheya (means), which herein denotes a disciple’s becoming deeply absorbed in the divine identity of Śrī Guru through devotional love-engagement; tat means ‘that’; naḥ means ‘us’; guruh means Śrī Gurudeva; and pracodayāt denotes the guru’s inspiring and directing the disciple towards the attainment of the final goal, the prayojana.
The guru-gāyatrī is divided into four parts. The first part, aiṁ, represents the whole nature of gāyatrī in seed form. The second part, gurudevāya vidmahe kṛṣṇānandāya, refers to the understanding of guru-tattva svarūpa as the representation of both divine knowledge and kṛṣṇānanda through devotional intelligence. The third part, dhīmahi, represents the function of engaging in devotional dhyānam, which means remaining absorbed in that divine connection and service. And the final part, tanno guruḥ pracodayāt, refers to an eager prayer on the part of the disciple towards Śrī Guru for blessing his life with ecstatic love of Kṛṣṇa (Kṛṣṇānanda ) and giving him further engagement in his devotional service.
The word kṛṣṇānandāya in this gāyatrī is most significant. By itself it is a whole treasure-world of definition about Śrī Guru or guru-tattva, self-evidently showing us their complete nature and characteristics. The meaning of Kṛṣṇānanda is threefold:
- Kṛṣṇānanda (kṛṣṇa yasya ānandam) and āya dhīmahi conjointly mean to meditate on that guru whose entire happiness in life is Kṛṣṇa, or that guru whose heart is full of the beauty of ecstatic love for Kṛṣṇa.
- Kṛṣṇānanda (kṛṣṇasya ānandam) āya dhīmahi means to meditate on that guru who gives pleasure to his dearmost Lord Kṛṣṇa through his pure devotional love-services.
- In the word kṛṣṇānanda, Kṛṣṇa is Śrī Kṛṣṇa and ānanda is hlādinī Rādhikā, so kṛṣṇānandāya dhīmahi means meditation on Śrī Guru who is the representative of both Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa combined.
These three aspects of the term kṛṣṇānandāya dhīmahi may be applied to gurus of all rasas, but when this kṛṣṇānanda becomes imbued with the mellows of mādhurya-prema and specifically manifests through a mādhurya-rasa guru, it then reaches its highest expression. A guru possessing such kṛṣṇānanda has been esoterically glorified in sacred texts and thus he is aspired after by saints and sincere devotees. (5)
(5) Śrī rādhikā mādhavayorapāra…nikuñja-yūno rati-keli siddhai…vande guroḥ śrī caraṇāravindam (Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, Gurvāṣṭakam).
Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the sat-cit-ānanda-vigraha, the embodiment of all truth, awareness, and ecstasy. In nitya–līlā His ecstasy aspect (ānandam) expands through His hlādinī potency, which manifests from Śrī Rādhikā. (Thus Śrī Rādhā is also addressed as Govinda-nandinī, Hlādinī, and Madana-mohana-mohinī.) A deeper meaning of kṛṣṇānanda is that a bona-fide guru from every principle rasa, and specifically mādhurya-rasa, represents the function of this hlādinī potency according to his own position in the range of rasādhikāra (capacity for involvement within a particular rasa).
The full-fledged conception of kṛṣṇānanda found in mādhurya–rasa enables a nitya–siddha or sādhana–siddha guru to freely relate to the Supreme Personality of Divine Truth through all facets of intimate relationships, and thus to relish all ambrosial tastes of ecstasy. This fact, however, can only be properly conceived through transcendental realization.
This aprākṛta mādhurya-rasa is most prominent in the divine damsels of transcendental Vraja, and Śrī Rādhikā is their super-excellent Queen and guru. She is the unending fountainhead of all mādhurya–rasa premānanda, and all other damsels and their close followers are Her different types of expansions. Each of them is considered a pure loving servitor with her own individual role, characteristic, expertise, beauty, flavor, and taste. Thus remaining purely dedicated to the supreme guru Śrī Rādhikā, each of them is also considered to be Her representative as guru in both planes. (Only the two types of representative gurus – nitya-siddha and sādhana–siddha – have been referred to here in this context.) The fact pertaining to the sādhana-siddha guru indicates that before his attaining to the siddha stage, he remains as a sādhaka–guru, progressing towards divine accomplishment and fulfillment. Hence, it is understood that following the examples of the nitya-siddha and sādhana–siddha mādhurya–rasa gurus, sādhaka mādhurya-rasa gurus are found on this plane who are also very helpful in properly guiding a devotee toward the goal of mādhurya-rasa sevā. It is for this reason that such a qualified sādhaka-guru is also considered to be a representation of Śrī Rādhikā’s grace (nitya-siddha gurus sometimes come down to this earthly plane, but such an occurrence is a rare event. It is mostly the sādhana-siddha and qualified sādhaka gurus who become comparatively more available on this plane to extend their gracious guidance to a devotee.). Therefore the meaning of kṛṣṇānanda in the context of the guru–gāyatrī ultimately refers to a purely devoted servitor of Śrīmati Rādhārani who gives inexhaustible pleasure to Kṛṣṇa through devotional service.
The last part of this gāyatrī is tanno guruḥ pracodayāt, which means, “May Śrī Guru inspire us with that (tat) and engage us in that.” It is a sincere heartfelt prayer to Śrī Guru and akhaṇḍa guru-tattva for receiving invaluable inspiration and engagement as indicated by the word ‘tat‘, the divine treasure of kṛṣṇānanda with its threefold meanings (one whose entire happiness is Kṛṣṇa, one who gives pleasure to Kṛṣṇa, and one who represents both Kṛṣṇa and Rādhikā combined).
Unifying all these meanings, the following prayer is offered to Śrī Guru, “May Śrī Guru inspire us to meditate on ecstatic love for Kṛṣṇa and engage us in His pure love-service. May he inspire us with his personal example of offering pleasure to Kṛṣṇa and finding the joy of fulfillment in Kṛṣṇa. May he inspire us in our meditation on akhila-rasāmṛta-mūrti Kṛṣṇa (the all-attractive personality of all-encompassing bliss) and Ānanda Śrī Rādhikā, who is the bliss of even the supremely blissful Kṛṣṇa. And may he also engage us in service to Hlādinī Śrī Rādhikā, who by Her boundless devotional love and charm captivates even He who is the Supreme Captivator.”
The second meaning of tat is dhyāna. The term dhyāna indicates penetrating deeply into the nature of a thing’s inner identity through meditation and subjective experience, and so guru-dhyānam refers to a devotional effort to dive into the inherent nature of Śrī Guru through such singularly-focused contemplation. Therefore in relation to the term dhīmahi (which stems from the root-word dhyāna and is referred to by the word tat), the other aspect of this prayer expressed through tanno guruḥ pracodayāt is, “May Śrī Guru send the blessed inspiration to our hearts and kindly engage us also in dhyāna in regard to his divine svarūpa (eternal identity).” This svarūpa is none other than the pure representation of kṛṣṇānanda.
The term kṛṣṇānanda in regard to a mādhurya-rasa guru also closely relates to the mood of the aṣṭa-dāsāksara (eighteen-syllabled) Kṛṣṇa mantra and kāma-gāyatrī. Such a guru who is worshipped by the guru-mantra and guru-gāyatrī is also imbued with the quality of exclusive dedication indicated by these two other mantras given by Śrī Guru. He represents the love-ecstasy that the gopīs have for Kṛṣṇa as referred to by the phrase gopī-jana-vallabhāya svāhā. The flow of this particular taste and experience naturally impels him to transmit the seed of such consciousness to his disciple at the time of initiation.
The internal meaning of the Kṛṣṇa (Gopāla) mantra is exclusive dedication of one’s own self, heart and soul—everything—for the service of that unique Kṛṣṇa Govinda who manifests as the beloved Lord of the vraja–gopīs. Following the gopīs‘ path in the special mood of ecstatic conjugal love for Kṛṣṇa, a mādhurya-rasa guru and his kṛṣṇānanda-svarūpa ideally represent the characteristic and mood of the above-described Kṛṣṇa mantra.
The same siddhānta in regard to the gopāla-mantra is also applicable to the same kind of guru in relation to the kāma-gāyatrī. He is an ideal living example of kāma-gāyatrī sādhana, and his quality of kṛṣṇānanda is related to each and every part of kāma-gāyatrī. The term puṣpa-bāṇa herein reveals the superlative transcendental nature and characteristics of both Kāmadeva Kṛṣṇa and His līlā with His most intimate devotees. Such līlā involves the aiming and shooting of His flowery love-arrows toward His beloved consort Goddess Śrī Rādhikā and Her maidservants. Graciously awarding this ambrosial treasure to those damsels in response to their loyalty to Śrī Rādhā, Kṛṣṇa pierces their hearts and thereby arouses a sweet pang of intense devotional love-desire for Him. By His nature, the God of transcendental amorous pastimes loves to pierce the hearts of His devotees in order to create a sweet disruptive attraction therein. As a loyal servant and companion of Śrī Rādhikā, a guru of mādhurya-rasa is the natural recipient of such puṣpa-bāṇa from Kāmadeva Kṛṣṇa, and thus becomes engaged in His service in accordance with His puṣpa-bāṇa nature as the hurler of powerfully fragrant, ever-blossoming love-arrows. The term puṣpa-bāṇa in the kāma-gāyatrī therefore signifies the love-arrows sent between Kṛṣṇa and His beloveds in their ever-blissful, love-laden Vṛndāvana pastimes. This is an in-depth glimpse into the term dhīmahi. The nature of such engagement also includes appropriately reciprocating with Kṛṣṇa, piercing His heart and arousing pleasing love-attraction within Him as well. Hence such a guru is both the suitable recipient and reciprocator, and exemplifies those twin applications of the term dhīmahi in the kāma-gāyatrī.
The final part of kāma-gāyatrī, tanno’naṅga pracodayāt, represents a prayer consisting of two aspects. The first aspect is a wholehearted prayer for that highest blessed fortune of being struck by Kāmadeva’s puṣpa-bāṇa. The second aspect refers to the devotee’s imploring Kāmadeva for the capability to reciprocate with Him with the unceasing anaṅga to embrace that puṣpa-bāṇa. The term anaṅga means ecstatically amorous love-desire in transcendence. This relates to ānanda, and so anaṅga in relation to Kāmadeva actually denotes kṛṣṇānanda. A guru of such kṛṣṇānanda embodies the above prayer, and by introducing the kāma-gāyatrī to his disciple, the guru carefully encourages him to gradually cultivate a similar prayerful mood to attain the highest ideal of life. He plants the seed of this devotional consciousness in his disciple’s heart at the time of initiation, encouraging him to ultimately follow his example with all humility. It is naturally understood that in his divine identity, the guru referred to in the above context is a sakhī or a mañjarī or one of their intimate followers in the nitya-līlā of the Divine Couple. In this connection, the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava sannyāsa-mantra also carries the inner character and taste of the above-described kṛṣṇānanda in a similar way.
In the mantra śrīṁ gurudevāya vidmahe gaura-priyāya dhīmahi tanno guruḥ pracodayāt, śrīṁ is the bīja-mantra for a guru expanded from the āśraya-vigraha Śrī Rādhikā; gurudevāya means to devote to Śrī Gurudeva; vidmahe means to know or realize Śrī Guru (as gaura-priya) through devotion; gaura-priyāya means dedication unto the guru who is dearmost to Śrī Gaurāṅgadeva, and also unto he whose iṣṭadeva (the worshipable beloved Lord of one’s deepest longings) is Gaurāṅga; dhīmahi means to meditate and engage in devotional service; tat means ‘that’; naḥ means ‘us’; guruḥ is Śrī Gurudeva; and pracodayāt means ‘please direct, inspire, and engage’.
The term gaura-priyāya is another significant definition of Śrī Guru and his nature. As indicated above, the word gaura-priya has two connotations: one who is beloved to Gaura, and one in whose life Śrī Gaura is the dearmost object of all devotion and love-ecstasy. In the life of a śuddha rasika gaura-bhakta, these two definitions intertwine and weave a special taste of ecstatic devotional mood towards Śrī Gaurāṅga.
According to the realization of pure devotees of Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, Śrī Gaura is none other than Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself embraced by Śrī Rādhikā’s super-excellent mood and complexion. In other words, Kṛṣṇa, being particularly eager to taste His Rādhikā’s divine love for Him, fully absorbed Himself in Her pure mood, and beautified by Her golden complexion, manifested as Gaura. Gaura-priya therefore naturally means kṛṣṇa-priya in a parallel sense. This conception of gaura-priya denotes one who is loved by Gaura because his devotion possesses special attractive qualities that arouse within Gaura the pleasure of loving that devotee.
Two types of devotional service by which a gaura-priya guru deeply pleases Śrī Gaurāṅgadeva and attracts His fond attention are saṅkīrtana and rasāsvādana. The term saṅkīrtana has a very broad meaning. It refers to devotionally chanting, singing, speaking, and propagating the Holy Names and glorious līlā of the Supreme Personality of Divine Truth, Kṛṣṇa, and the highest ripe fruit of this saṅkīrtana is rasāsvādana, or relishing with deep respect the mellows of ecstatic love for Kṛṣṇa. By offering pure loving services to Kṛṣṇa through these two beautiful interrelated ways – saṅkīrtana and rasāsvādana – a sat-guru naturally pleases Lord Gaurāṅgadeva in the most comprehensive way.
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is much more than merely a great historical personality. He has been referred to as a tattva, the non-different manifestation of Kṛṣṇa, and through the inner subjective dimension of his consciousness, a pure devotee realizes this immortal truth. Upon entering into the fond remembrance of Śrī Gaura’s rasāsvādana līlā which was visibly manifest in the past, a sat-guru can always fully participate in those līlās within the innermost core of his heart, vividly experiencing them in the present moment. Thus, in the heart-world of prema–sevā in his eternal svarūpa, the sat–guru ever remains dearmost to Gaura (gaura-priya).
Analyzing the definitions of kṛṣṇānanda and gaura-priya as found in the guru-gāyatrī mantras can be compared to looking at the same beautiful diamond from two slightly different angles of vision. In other words, it is the same guru-tattva defined from two different perspectives due to the individual guru’s distinct taste in relationship to the same goal – Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa; and such distinction is best understood from the viewpoint of all-harmonizing unity. Like the taste of kṛṣṇānanda, the taste of gaura-priyatva can also be found in all the five principal rasas. For example, it is observed that both during and after the manifest presence of Śrī Gaura, there were many gaura-priya devotees who had different kinds of relationships with Śrī Gaurāṅga in different devotional love-mellows (rasas). But because of Śrī Dhyānacandra Gosvāmī’s specific inner yearning and taste, his divine revelation into the beautific mysteries of mādhurya-rasa bhakti and his subsequent initiation into mañjarī-bhāva sādhana were bestowed by a mādhurya-rasa guru Śrī Gopāla Guru Gosvāmī. Hence, the term gaura-priya in this gāyatrī cited from his Śrī Gaura-Govindārcana-smaraṇa Paddhati ultimately refers to a mādhurya-rasa guru who is imbued with the mood of audārya.
Audārya means a generous demeanor of sharing with others, and Śrī Gaura is considered to be the fullest embodiment of this noble quality by dint of His distributing the invaluable bliss of kṛṣṇa-prema. He is therefore also known as the audārya-prādhāna-mādhurya-rasa vigraha, the divine personality in whom the mādhurya quality is embraced within the prominence of audārya. Some other examples of audārya gaura-priya gurus who eternally give pleasure to Śrī Gaura through saṅkīrtana and more specifically through their participation in rasāsvādana with Him are: Śrī Gadādhara Pandita, Śrī Svarūpa Dāmodara, Śrī Rāya Rāmānanda, the Six Gosvāmīs headed by Śrī Rūpa and Śrī Raghunātha, Śrī Kṛṣṇa Dāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī, Śrī Vasu Ghoṣa, Śrī Narahari Sarakāra Ṭhākura, Śrī Śrīnivasa Ācārya, Śrī Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura, Śrī Śyāmānanda Prabhu, Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda, and other like-minded guru-varga from the same divine succession. Regardless of whether such gurus were contemporaries of Mahāprabhu or appeared after His manifest presence on Earth, through their deep devotional meditation on His eternal līlās they could always associate with Him through different dimensions of their transcendental experience.
Rādhā-bhāva is the primary characteristic of Śrī Gaura’s rasāsvādana, and gaura-priya gurus of the above-described category (audārya-prādhāna-mādhurya-rasa) always cherish this rasāsvādana līlā in the core of their hearts. During Śrī Gaurāṅga’s manifest presence, such gurus, attracted by deep loving devotion for Him and fully imbued with the blissful mood of a gopī, participated in His rasāsvādana līlā with great eagerness to assist Him in accordance with His particular moods at each moment. Thus they sometimes sang songs about the pastimes of Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, sometimes spoke nectarean words about Them, and sometimes embraced their beloved Lord, all of their activities appropriately corresponding to each divine sentiment which arose in Him. They either soothed or enlivened Him in His respective tasting of Śrī Rādhikā’s sweet pain or joy in intense love for Kṛṣṇa just as the sakhīs and mañjarīs served their Mistress as Her intimate companions during Her similar states of experience. As they served Śrī Gaura with such sweet devotion, His divine love-ecstasy irresistibly flooded their hearts, and the more they imbibed and tasted that bliss, the more their hearts yearned for it throughout eternity. Feeling an unprecedented mad love for Gaurahari, they continually realized in an ever-fresh way that He is the eternally worshipable beloved of their lives, which in turn impelled them to embrace Him again and again to their hearts. This divine experience refers to the second aspect of the term gaura-priya: one who has attained Śrī Gaura as his Beloved.
As previously explained the term dhīmahi refers to the holy recommendation for one to wholeheartedly engage in service to Śrī Guru. However, in this context the guru is additionally meditated upon in his gaura-priya aspect as the living representation of a reciprocal love-relationship with Śrī Gaurāṅgadeva. The precept of visrambhena guroḥ sevā (6) (faithful dedication to Śrī Guru) as presented by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī is considered to be the purport of this word dhīmahi in both guru-gāyatrīs. Besides this, dhīmahi also corroborates the conception of meditating on Śrī Guru’s spiritual form, and thus some relevant points in this connection are presented herewith.
(6) Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, Eastern Direction, Second Wave, verse 74.
Particular devotees from the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava community, in the line of mādhurya-rasa sevā have felt inspired to meditate on the nitya-siddha sakhī (7) form of their guru at certain times. Hence the focus of their meditation was that divine image of their guru which was revealed to them through their subjective realization, in unified conjunction with that form of his which was visibly manifest. This meditation on Śrī Guru in his nitya-siddha sakhī form is known by the Vaiṣṇava gurus as guru-rūpa-sakhī-dhyāna. (8) These Vaiṣṇavas saw their gurus’ corresponding manifestations in both gaura-līlā and kṛṣṇa-līlā. According to their inspiration, therefore, while chanting the guru-mantra and guru-gāyatrī they would meditate in a harmoniously integrated way on both their guru’s present form in gaura-līlā and his corresponding form in kṛṣṇa-līlā. The gaura-priya and kṛṣṇa-priya identities of the guru eternally exist in inconceivable oneness and difference (acintya-bhedābheda). The practice of concurrent meditation on Śrī Guru’s form in both gaura-līlā and kṛṣṇa-līlā is accepted not only by some orthodox Vaiṣṇavas from the line of mādhurya-rasa sevā, but also by some of the Vaiṣṇavas following other lines of rasa-sevā like dāsya, sakhya, and vātsalya.
(7) The term sakhī here refers to any divine damsel engaged in intimate service to Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa.
(8) Guru-rūpā sakhī vāme, tribhaṅga bhaṅgima ṭhāme cāmarera vātāsa kariba –“I eagerly await that day when, as a young gopī submissive to my dear guru in the form of a sakhī in nitya-līlā, I will be situated by her left side, engaged in waving a cāmara whisk and pleasing Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is charmingly manifest in His beautiful threefold-bending form.” (Śrīla Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura, Prārthanā, song 28) Further, ye samaye yebā līlā, ye rasa kautuka khela, śrī guru-mañjarī anugati, tāmbūla cāmara vyaja, ghanasāra malayaja, kara vasa bhūṣaṇa-sevādi (Śrī Premānanda Dāsa, Manaḥ-śikṣā, song 104). This refers to a disciple’s service to the Divine Couple through his (her) loyal submission to Śrī Guru in the form of a mañjarī. The following mantra is also known as a praṇāma-mantra to the guru-rūpa-sakhī: rādhā-sammukha-saṁsaktiṁ sakhī-saṅga-nivāsinīm tvām ahaṁ satataṁ vande mādhavāśraya-vigrahām (param-guru-rūpam sakhīm). (Arcana-kana and also compiled in Bṛhat-bhakti-tattva-sāra, second volume).
The final phrase tanno guruḥ pracodayāt in conjunction with the term gaura-priya herein reveals a taste which is complementary with kṛṣṇānanda. It refers to meditative engagement in the service of the guru who is the delegate of that Kṛṣṇa who is permeated with Śrī Rādhikā’s mood and complexion (bhāva and kānti). Here again, in relation to gaura-priya, the term tat elicits the following prayer: “May Śrī Gurudeva inspire us and kindly engage us in emulating his own pure example – that of accepting Lord Gaura as one’s most precious object of loving dedication – that we may also be counted amongst His dearmost servitors sharing in His transcendental ecstasy.” And the word tat in relation to the term dhīmahi conveys the meaning of the second part of the above prayer: “May Śrī Guru also compassionately engage us in dhyāna in regard to his svarūpa, which is a pure representation of gaura-priyatva.”
In conclusion, with all feelings of deep gratitude we offer our most respectful praṇāmas to Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, who compassionately revealed to us the guru-mantra and guru–gāyatrī from the divine world for our eternal benefit. We pray that any description herein of mantras proffered from another branch of the illustrious Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava sampradāya may serve only to enhance our insight into the precious inheritance bequeathed by Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, and his sublime intention to protect and nurture our highest spiritual interests.
This essay is respectfully presented in the light of the holy teachings and realizations of His Divine Grace Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara Deva Gosvāmī Mahārāja, and is dedicated to all sat-gurus and akhaṇḍa guru-tattva.