Gaura Gopāla Dāsa: Some people come into connection with the guru who have had less time in his association than oneself, but they immediately establish a relationship with him – they come to a particular standard of pleasing their guru with their service. This is something which wakes you up to the reality that time doesn’t always have so much meaning in relation to the association with the guru and service. You begin to understand the meaning of verses such as ‘lava mātra sādhu-saṅga’- a moment’s association is all that is necessary.
Giri Mahārāja: Compared to some, devotees like Kalki, Jagat-guru and Mañjarī didn’t get that much association from Guru Mahārāja. They were only with him for a few years, but whatever they received was quality association. They actually understood a lot more than some who were with Guru Mahārāja for many, many years. So it’s not always about how much time you spent with the guru. It is also based upon one’s sukṛti as well as guru–kṛpā.
Śrīpāda Āraṇya Mahārāja: Right at the very end of the līlā of their guru, they were able to catch it. They received some installment which was extremely potent and valuable. So it’s not always that those who come late are last. Some come late and end up staying longer.
What I experienced in regards to Narasiṅgha Mahārāja is that he was able to extract and drink from three nectar-sources – Śrīla Prabhupāda, Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja, and Śrīla Purī Mahārāja. He was able to gather that, harmonise that, take it, and disseminate it.
Assimilate and disseminate — these are important points. First of all, to recognise where divinity is flowing. Second, being able to take what was flowing and assimilate it. And third, to then disseminate it in such a way that it was digestible to the audience that he was speaking to. All these three factors are very important.
How was he able to do that? Because he was blessed by Śrīla Prabhupāda, because he followed Śrīla Prabhupāda’s instructions strictly. This is an important factor, and he adhered to those instructions very carefully. Then when he came to Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja, although externally it seemed that he didn’t have so much association, whatever association he did get had such an impact upon him that he wanted to take whatever Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja gave, assimilate it, and disseminate it.
Then the third installment was Śrīla Purī Mahārāja who corroborated both Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja and Śrīla Prabhupāda. All of them contributed something very, very important in the life of Narasiṅgha Mahārāja. I also had similar contact with Śrīla Prabhupāda, Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja and Śrīla Purī Mahārāja — Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja to a greater degree. What I perceived was that which Narasiṅgha Mahārāja gathered from Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja was something unique in relationship to all our other contemporaries – even to the point where he inspired me to again take up my dedicating spirit that I had established with Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja. It was his association that brought that out. It started the internal catalyst rolling and brought it to the forefront. In other words, not to put it off, put it off, put it off and become more unnecessarily entangled in certain things.
In the institution, I wasn’t able to express my feelings to the fullest expression about Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja to the devotees there for various reasons. But when I came in contact with Narasiṅgha Mahārāja, then all of that came right out! His association brought it out! Therefore, this place (Rūpānuga Bhajana Āśrama) took on real meaning with his association. It was meant for Prabhupāda and Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja, but he brought it out to its fuller extent. How did he do that? Through all of you.
He came and was sitting here just as he is now. Earlier I had used the expression, ‘he was here just the other day’. It is a fact. He hasn’t left. He is here, and he is definitely here through all of you, and through your enthusiasm for propagating his message. His message is the message of our guru-varga, it is the message of Mahāprabhu, it is the message of Lord Kṛṣṇa. It doesn’t change. Guru is one because the message is the same. It may be elaborated upon, but it doesn’t deviate from the siddhāntika line. There is no deviation. Narasiṅgha Mahārāja maintained that. That was something he was very adamant about — maintaining the dignity of the sampradāya as far as the siddhānta, and also through proper behaviour. He was a Vaiṣṇava. He was a Vaiṣṇava who was brought up in Mleccha-deśa like all of us, who transformed due to the association of Śrīla Prabhupāda, Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja, and Śrīla Purī Mahārāja. All of these personalities had a definite impact upon him to such a degree that a transformation took place and that is testimony to their potency.
The potency of the guru is exemplified in what is the manifestation. What does he produce? Just like the potency of a father is shown by the children he produces. It is not only based upon production but also their training. A guru may hand out beads, but that is the easy part. The day to day, moment to moment training is what we should be thinking about – not only in relation to our own development, but also to help others who we see are sincere and are actually here to render serious service.
We should not become, as Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja said, a ‘traitor to our own cause.’ ‘Traitor’ is a very strong word. We don’t want to enter into that category. How we avoid entering into that category is by surrendering to the lotus feet of Śrī Guru with mind, body, words, everything. It is all theirs. It is for their service. Whatever has been given, whatever comes under our jurisdiction by their grace, is to be used for them. As soon as we enter into the ‘I’ and ‘mine’ principle, then that is illusion.
As soon as we identify with the body then there is no question of love. Love cannot manifest as long as we identify with this body and the extensions of the body, because our identity is something totally different and that is what Śrī Guru comes to give. He comes to wake us up to the reality of our real identity. By his association, that comes out. Therefore, we should take advantage of his association. We must hear his words constantly. Like the flow of the Gaṅgā – it should not stop.
Vṛndāvana is the perfect environment for that. There is so much opportunity for that to take place and to realise how fortunate we really are. That is due to the grace of your Guru Mahārāja, our Śrīla Prabhupāda, Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja, Śrīla Puri Mahārāja and all the well-wishers. This is only coming because of them and all of you. It’s not that we’re going to sit here by ourselves. We need to create an atmosphere which is congenial for this type of consciousness to grow, develop and spread. It is lifetimes of service — janme janme prabhu sei.
The ‘machine’ (material body) is temporary. Eventually it will go, but where am I going? Who am I? Wherever we may go, we want to always be in the proper company, no matter what, no matter how many births it takes. Then we will be alright. Wherever our gurus are, that is where we want to be. I know wherever Narasiṅgha Mahārāja is, Prabhupāda, Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja and Śrīla Purī Mahārāja are there, without a doubt.
Gaura Gopāla Dāsa: In relationship to so many devotees that we may come in contact with throughout our lives, the association we want to seek out and stick with is that saṅga of devotees that encourages our faith in guru. It’s very, very simple. Whether it is younger, older, peers, whoever it may be – that’s an indispensable part of sādhu-saṅga. And of course, those people who discourage that faith, or even those who are neutral, that association is not beneficial at all.
Śrīpāda Ārāṇya Mahārāja: Faith is a very fine element, and when you come in contact with those who have faith, it increases, They enhance it. But when you come in contact with those who are full of doubts and are faithless, that also effects you.
Giri Mahārāja: Many people ask the guru, “Please give me your mercy!” But they don’t actually understand what form the mercy comes in. It comes in the form of the association of your godbrothers and god sisters, it comes in the form of well-wishing god-uncles and god-aunts, and it comes in the form of the instructions of the guru. Mercy is always there. Mercy is not like an electric shock that suddenly descends on you. It’s all around us and we can only see that through faith and association.
Dāruka Dāsa: It requires an effort from our side — some endeavour to connect.
Giri Mahārāja: It’s like the example Śrīla Prabhupāda gave of the man who is stuck in a well. When the rope was thrown down to him, the man on top told him, “Catch hold of the rope!”
“No I can’t. You’ll have to put my hands around the rope!”
Śrīpāda Ārāṇya Mahārāja: The Gaṅgā is there, but you will have to walk to the Gaṅgā to take bath. We have to make the endeavour.
Dāruka Dāsa: There was a time before our Guru Mahārāja’s departure to India when all the saṅga was together and harmonious because Guru Mahārāja was drawing that out from all of us.
Giri Mahārāja: Later, I made a statement that “It seems that when Guru Mahārāja was physically present he was able to draw the best out of everybody, but when he physically departed, then our real natures emerged.” But Dāruka corrected me and said, “Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that the ‘real self’ is as a serving unit, and the other nature that we are seeing now is the false self, which is full of anarthas?” So I have to thank Dāruka for correcting me. It is a fact – the guru is drawing service out, which is the natural inclination of the jīva.
Dāruka Dāsa: It was so apparent at that time because soon after, so many individuals in the group didn’t get along. They couldn’t even be in the same room together. But while Guru Mahārāja was present, there was no separate interest.
Śrīpāda Ārāṇya Mahārāja: He was like the magnet.
Giri Mahārāja: I remember you once mentioned how guru can draw so many diverse personalities together shows the potency of the guru. His sheer presence alone can unite everyone. That seems to be the case with every guru – whether it’s Prabhupāda, Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja or whoever. When he is present, he is in the centre and everything is revolving around him. When we no longer see his physical form and cannot understand that he’s always present, then everyone has their own agenda.
Śrīpāda Ārāṇya Mahārāja: It happened in the mission of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura on that level of personalities, so what to speak of us? But we see that there are some who hold onto the feet of Śrī Guru. We might not see it right away, but by their sincere endeavours and sincerity of heart it becomes revealed.
Once in Śrī Caitanya Saravata Maṭha, a certain sannyāsī told me, “You will be able to catch some things quickly before anybody else.”
Then I thought, “Yes, I might catch them, but to be able to hold onto them and implement them continually throughout my life – that is a whole other thing!”
To catch something and to be able to hold onto it and implement it – we want both. We want to be able to catch the inner heart of the guru and carry on with that. It shouldn’t just be, “Oh, I know that!” then forget about it when we get distracted. Again, we want that continuous flow to go on, and that encouragement comes through good association, the environment, and striving for that ideal. Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja used to use the word ‘undervalue’ – to undervalue what has been given to us. It is so high that it is beyond our comprehension, and to cheapen it, to undervalue it, is where the danger lies.
Narasiṅgha Mahārāja understood that and he upheld the proper line, the proper presentation of the siddhānta to a fit audience. Even Śukadeva hesitated to say the name of Rādhārāṇī because he was in a mixed assembly. Therefore he withdrew – he wouldn’t come out and directly extol the glories of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī out of fear that it would be ‘mutilated.’ — Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja used that word, ‘mutilated.’ What we have been given is so precious and Narasiṅgha Mahārāja was a person who exemplified that absolutely one hundred percent.
Gaura Gopāla Dāsa: He had that characteristic that we see in our ācāryas, as in the description of audārya where the cup is overflowing. It’s not an optional thing like, “I’m going to share this with others.” It’s more like, “I must share this with others! I can’t not share it with others! And it’s urgent. Whoever turns their ear towards me, I will give them as much as they can take as long as they are sitting in front of me.”
Śrīpāda Ārāṇya Mahārāja: That is compassion. That is Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. That is the compassionate nature of the guru. And Nitāi? He is the one who gives it out to everyone indiscriminately – no qualification!