Great souls have two types of activities – prākṛta and aprākṛta. Prākṛta means that which has some connection to this world. Those personalities are born, they go to school, they have to be taught how to read and write, they may be a businessman at some point in their life, they may marry, they may remain brahmacārī, or they may accept sannyāsa. This is called prākṛta-līlā – that which appears to be material. Aprākṛta-līlā is the eternal engagement of those great souls.
We accept Śrīla Prabhupāda as a nitya-siddha, an eternally perfected devotee who comes down to this world on the Lord’s order. Such nitya–siddhas are considered very rare. There are not many – even amongst great devotees. When Kṛṣṇa descends in any Vaiṣṇava, that is called guru-tattva. Kṛṣṇa is eternally perfect, and that thing which descends into any Vaiṣṇava to represent Kṛṣṇa as guru, is also perfect (siddha).
There are three types of siddhas – nitya-siddha, sādhana-siddha (perfected through sādhana) and kṛpā–siddha (perfected through grace). Sādhana-siddha means that one becomes perfected by practice, kṛpā-siddha means that simply by divine mercy one becomes perfect. We shouldn’t crack our heads too much trying to understand which type of siddha a Vaiṣṇava is. Siddha is an ocean in itself. Siddha means the attainment of final perfection. Perfection is infinite. It is always going on – perfection upon perfection upon perfection. Even within a nitya-siddha some kṛpā (mercy) comes. Mādhavendra Purī is a nitya-siddha devotee and an eternal resident of Vṛndāvana. He is in śānta–rasa. He came to this world and attained admission in mādhurya-rasa. Thus, a nitya–siddha received kṛpā–siddhi.
We must always see our guru as a nitya–siddha. We should not consider our guru as a sādhana–siddha, or even a kṛpā–siddha, what to speak of a conditioned soul. Guru means that Kṛṣṇa descends and resides in a particular jīva to inspire us. That inspired side of the Vaiṣṇava is called guru-tattva.
When addressing his guru, a disciple should not look at any mundane side of his activities. He sees only the divine side. For example, the śrī-mūrti of Kṛṣṇa may be made from aṣṭa-dhātu, pañca-loha, marble, wood etc. but when you take darśana of Him, what do you see? Do you see the shining metal, or do you see Kṛṣṇa present there? If we look upon the Deity as stone, wood, metal and so forth then we are a pāṣaṇḍī. We are an offender. One should not look upon the Deity in that way. One should see the Deity in terms of being sacchidānanda-vigraha – the divine form of the Lord manifest before our eyes. We should not consider Him to be made of metal, wood and all these things. There is nothing is more discouraging for a pūjārī than when somebody asks, “What is the Deity made of? Is He aṣṭa-dhātu? Pañca-loha? Is He wood? Is He stone?”It’s a very discouraging question. Don’t see like that! See divinity! Don’t see the world – see Kṛṣṇa! See the shining face of Kṛṣṇa behind everything.
Śrī Gurudeva holds a similar position. We should not see him according to his birth, nationality, age etc. We should see him as a representative of Kṛṣṇa. Śrī Guru is non-different from Kṛṣṇa. He is like an ambassador. An ambassador is a representative of his country. He represents the leader of his country. He holds that type of dual position. We do not deal with him simply as an ordinary family man. He may have ten children, he may play cricket, he may do so many things with his own clan. But when we approach him, we deal with him according to his position.
Some have said that our Gurudeva, Śrīla Prabhupāda, was a sādhana-siddha. But we say he is a nityā-siddha. He showed perfection through sādhana. by serving the order of his guru. By serving the guru one will attain all perfection. Śrīla Prabhupāda exhibited this type of sādhana–siddhi again and again, even though he is a nitya–siddha. When thinking of our guru and param-gurus, we should always consider them as nitya–siddhas. Although a pure Vaiṣṇava may be classified as either a nitya-siddha, sādhana-siddha or kṛpā–siddha, in regards to the guru there is only one category – nitya-siddha. This is particularly for the disciples. Otherwise they may think, “Oh, my guru is a sādhana–siddha. I wonder what he was before he began his sādhana.” The mind is like an unchaste wife and it will run here and there. Therefore, Kṛṣṇa says:
ācāryaṁ māṁ vijānīyān nāvamanyeta karhicit
na martya-buddhyāsūyeta sarva-deva-mayo guruḥ
“One should know the ācārya as Myself and never disrespect him in any way. One should not envy him, thinking him an ordinary man, for he is the representative of all the demigods.” (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.17.27)
“I am the ācārya. I descend in the ācārya. Treat him as non-different from Me!” That means that in your mind you must consider the guru just as you would consider Kṛṣṇa – eternally perfect. Of course, we are not talking about the bogus section. We are talking about the real section of guru-tattva, and in particular I am talking about Śrīla Prabhupāda.
A nitya–siddha’s eternal engagement in aprākṛta-līlā is always in the service of Kṛṣṇa. But where? There are many Kṛṣṇas – there is Vaikuṇṭḥa Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa as Rāma in Ayodhyā, Kṛṣṇa in Dvārakā, Kṛṣṇa in Mathurā, Kṛṣṇa in Vraja. Through our faith, we specifically feel that our Gurudeva is in the most intimate group of servants of the Supreme Lord. He is not the Vaikuṇṭha type. He is of the higher Goloka type.
It is a very unique thing that even in his prākṛta-līlā, his so-called ordinary life, there are some clues that will reveal to us some idea about his higher position in the eternal pastimes. We can trace that throughout his life, from his very birth, Śrīla Prabhupāda had some divine connection with the side of service which is associated with Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī.
When Prabhupāda was a small boy, his father, Gaura-mohana De, entertained many sādhus – whether they were hookum sādhus, a tasapsvī sādhus – it didn’t matter. His father saw that these sādhus may have hundreds of material qualities, but somewhere within them, that divine agency may be there. So he would ask them, “Please bless my son that he will become a great devotee of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī.” That is a very unique blessing to seek for anyone’s son.
Similarly, when Prabhupāda was a child, his father gave him little Rādhā-Govinda Deities to worship. Not Kṛṣna alone, but Rādhā-Govinda. There are millions of devotees of Kṛṣṇa throughout in India, but who is devotee of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa? That is very less. Even in Vṛndāvana many people go to take darśana of Bāṅke-Bihārī – not Rādhā-Bāṅke-Bihārī.
Gaura-mohana wanted Prabhupāda to become a very fine mṛdaṅga player. Generally here, only men play the mṛdaṅga, but actually, the gopīs are the best mṛdaṅga players. People asked Gaura-mohana, “Why don’t you get your son educated so he can go to Europe?”
He replied, “No! My son will not become a mleccha. He will be educated and live in India. He’ll learn mṛdaṅga, and worship Rādhā-Govinda, so that he may become a great devotee of Rādhārāṇī.”
These things which he received in some seed form from his father, took full shape after meeting Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. Prabhupāda didn’t receive any guru. He received a guru of the highest category – a guru whose eternal identity is Nayanamaṇi Mañjarī in the eternal līlā, who is assigned to the most intimate camp of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī.
Prabhupāda received the instruction to print books – not any books, but books about Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa and Lord Gaurāṅga. He received that order from his Gurudeva, Nayanamaṇi Mañjarī, the representative of Rādhārāṇī. And where did he receive that order? Not in any ordinary place, but on the banks of Rādhā-kuṇḍa, the highest place of eternal service in rādhā-kṛṣṇa-līlā. These books printed by Śrīla Prabhupāda is direct service to the Queen of Vraja. The best preacher of Kṛṣṇa’s glories is not Kṛṣṇa Himself, but Kṛṣṇa’s devotees. And who is the best devotee? The best devotee is Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. Thus, when Kṛṣṇa comes as Lord Gaurāṅga in the mood of Rādhārāṇī, then the distribution of Kṛṣṇa consciousness reaches its highest platform.
Later, after the time of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta, Śrīla Prabhupāda began his missionary activities and set up his first preaching mission under the name of ‘The League of Devotees.’ It was registered in Lucknow and was set up in Jhansi where he rented a cottage which was called Rādhā Smarak…Rādhā Smarak.
The place where Prabhupāda used to stay and print his books in Delhi, was called Chippiwada. He didn’t stay in some cheap hotel or dharmaśālā, but lived in the compound of a Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa temple.
Then when he assigned himself for bhajana life, he took up residence in Vṛndāvana. Vṛndāvana is the eternal abode and here we begin to close in on his eternal identity. By the grace of his gurus, he stayed in the Rādhā-Dāmodara Temple of Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī. Śrīla Prabhupāda’s bhajana-kuṭīra was behind the samādhi of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhupāda, who is the head of the whole sampradāya, both in this world and in that world. We are told that ontologically, the highest position for any jīva is to come and serve Kṛṣṇa in the camp of Rādhārāṇī behind Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī. If we can get behind him, the drops of nectar that come in that flow are the sweetest of the sweet. This was revealed by Mahāprabhu Himself. When the taṭasthā–jīva enters the spiritual world, where will he go? He will take a seat in the line behind Śrī Rūpa, and begin the work of Rūpa in a grand fashion.
Rādhā-Dāmodara Temple is the place of Rūpa Gosvāmī’s samādhi. Samādhi means the deepest absorption of a Vaiṣṇava in consciousness of service to Kṛṣṇa. Rādhā-Dāmodara Temple is where in the līlā of Kṛṣṇa, the Lord begged for the foot-dust of Rādhārāṇī – rādhā-pāda-sevā. Kṛṣṇa told Her, “I will serve Your lotus-feet!”
Then Rādhārāṇī replied “No, no, no! You cannot serve My feet.”
But He begged to serve those lotus-feet of Rādhārāṇī. Generally, everyone in the whole universe, from Brahmā down, is begging at the feet of Kṛṣṇa. But here, Kṛṣṇa is begging at the feet of Rādhārāṇī. So that place is divine, and rādhā-pāda-sevā is shown by Kṛṣṇa to all. “You all come to Me for the best of fortunes, but I seek My fortune at the lotus feet of Rādhārāṇī. Then what type of fortune will you get there? Even I will attain such great fortune.” Kṛṣṇa Himself shows that the service of Rādhārāṇī is the highest type of service, that, “Only through Rādhāṛāṇī can anyone please Me. otherwise not.”
This place of rādhā-pāda-sevā is Śrīla Prabhupāda’s place of bhajana.
If we deeply contemplate these things concerning Śrīla Prabhupāda, where does it eventually lead us? Not to Vaikuṇṭḥa, not to Dvārakā, not to Mathurā – it all points to Vṛndāvana. And where in Vṛndāvana does it go? It goes to the lotus feet of Rādhārāṇī. In this way, we see that the prākṛta-līlā gives some clue concerning the aprākṛta-līlā.
Throughout the period of his life known to us during his preaching mission, Prabhupāda was primarily concerned with the basic necessities of all living beings – they must chant the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa, take kṛṣṇa–prasāda, read the literature of Kṛṣṇa. He kept his higher aspirations within himself. He did not reveal his higher thoughts and aspirations on an everyday basis to others. He only told a few things in his books, in his letters, and a few things he revealed on the vyāsāsana which were extremely rare and high. Otherwise he was shouting, “You are not this body! You must face death! Give up your nonsense! Surrender to Kṛṣṇa!” He was engaging in that service-necessity to save the living entities.
But when he returned to Vṛndāvana in 1977, although he continued in that line, the curtain was pulled back and for some days his heart’s desire was directly manifest in relation to the eternal pastimes of Kṛṣṇa. It was so very wonderful, but also very perplexing for the devotees, because most of us were on the prākṛta side. Even when something very high and divine was being expressed, we could not trace its meaning until many years later. For example, Prabhupāda suddenly manifested a great desire to go to Govardhana. He couldn’t even sit up, what to speak of move or walk? He wanted to go to Govardhana Hill at any cost. “Take me there in a bullock cart! However it is possible, take me to Govardhana Hill. I want to go to Govardhana!”
The devotees thought, “If he goes to Govardhana Hill, he will die on the spot! He can’t be moved from bed.” The devotees were thinking from the material perspective. So many things happened in those two or three days, until finally Prabhupāda’s godbrother, Kṛṣṇa Dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja came and gave some pacification to Prabhupāda’s heart.
We are told that the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas in the line of Śrī Rūpa and Raghunātha have a cottage at Govardhana Hill. It is the place of residence for the followers of the Rūpa-Sarasvatī line. We are residents of Govardhana, and Prabhupāda began to manifest a desire to go to Govardhana, his eternal residence.
Prabhupāda’s disappearance pastimes began to manifest during the month of Kārttika. Although Kārttika is generally known to everyone as the month of Dāmodara, it is actually the month of Rādhārāṇī. The month that follows Kārttika is Mārgaśīrṣa – the month of Kṛṣṇa. Dāmodara has two meanings. The first is when Kṛṣṇa is captured by the love of Mother Yaśōdā – a general call goes out. But the inner group knows, “Oh! Kṛṣṇa is captured by the love of Rādhārāṇī.” That is the Dāmodara that we worship during Kārttika. It is the most auspicious month in all of Vraja – the month which belongs to the Queen of Vṛndāvana. Even the smallest act of devotion performed in Kārttika gives the greatest benefit.
What we are explaining is that the guru does not suddenly reveal his connection with Divinity at the last hour – even throughout his so-called mundane life, if we look at it deeply with reverence, we can see that everything has some connection to Divinity. That is advised by the scriptures – “Do not see the guru in any mundane way.” Remove the tinted vision – see clearly! Don’t consider a Vaiṣṇava in terms of his birth, caste etc. See the divinity within! Try to see him with a divine eye. Faith opens such inner vision – not jñāna (knowledge). That only comes through Śraddhā Devī.