Is a Guru Necessary?Is a Guru Necessary?
Narasiṁha CaturdaśiNarasiṁha Caturdaśī
By Published On: May 13, 2022Tags: 8.1 min read

In this rare article written in 1928 for The Gauḍīya, Volume 7, issue 28, Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura describes the attributes of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, explaining what Kṛṣṇa is, and what He isn’t. This article was translated from Bengali by Sanātana Dāsa.

Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya-Deva has given the true path for understanding Kṛṣṇa-tattva. Kṛṣṇa-tattva manifests all revealed and unrevealed natures, as well as gross and subtle designations.

Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Lord (Parameśvara), one whose form is of eternity, bliss and knowledge (sacchidānanda-vigraha), primeval (anādi), the oldest among all (sarvādi), one who gives pleasure to the cows and the senses (Govinda) and the cause of all causes (sarva-karana-karana).

Kṛṣṇa is not an object confined to anyone, nor is He under anyone’s control. Material nature (prakṛti), time (kāla), fruitive activity (karma) and space (vyoma) are all under His control. He is eternally untouched by ignorance (ajñāna) and incessantly full of spiritual bliss (ananda). He is neither temporary nor subject to destruction. No nescience can ever touch Him. He is complete in knowledge and untouched by any type of distress. Miseries, sorrows etc, can never come near Him.

Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality (Puruṣottama). He is not merely some impersonal, neutral material conception. He is not undifferentiated, rather He has a very exceptional form (vigraha). He is not an element of the gross or subtle realm ruled over by the three modes of goodness, passion and ignorance which are under the purview of the jīva’s knowledge-acquiring senses. He creates the continuous time factor and manifests both the eternal and temporary elements. He is the eternally existing father who existed before the creation and appearance of both the material world and the spiritual world (Para-vyoma). The endeavour to find a root cause within the realm of sense-perception will lead to a series of causal findings as we move deeper and deeper. In this way, after one goes on searching repeatedly, one reaches a position where the process of causality comes to an end – that is Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Historians have not been able to categorise Him within the framework of time, place and circumstances. This is because He is unconquerable (ajita). If He had been some particular element of this world and not completely transcendental (para-tattva), then He would have been considered an inferior object rather than considered to be purely spiritual subject matter (turīya-vastu). He is not the Kṛṣṇa limited by the description of Bankim Chandra. He is that element addressed by Śrī Caitanya’s concept of the Name and the Named being non-different. Kṛṣṇa is that Reality whose nature is distinct by His completeness, purity, eternality and liberated state. Kṛṣṇa is a transcendental touchstone (cintāmaṇi) – His name fulfills all desires. His name, form, quality, uniqueness of His associates, the various bhāvas that form the basis of His pastimes and His bhāva itself – all these various elements are non-different from Him. For this reason He is the non-dual Absolute (advaya-jñāna). He is undefeatable (aja) and eternal (śāśvata). His appearance at the end of Dvāpara Yuga is merely His visible manifestation in this material world. Even though during that time He displayed suitable feelings for the Transcendental Reality to descend into this world, still, eternally, He does not have to accept birth under the jurisdiction of material nature. His birth and displays of power are all eternally situated in the spiritual realm. That spiritual realm, or Para-vyoma, is inside as well as outside the gross and subtle confines of the material world – both externally and internally it is inseparably connected and fully developed. In its fully developed state it has unlimited variegatedness; when it is in it’s unmanifested state it is extremely subtle. He is very far as well as very near and always situated in an all-pervading sense. When He manifests, He does not remain in a trance, slumber or in a state of anonymity. Whenever He wills it, He manifests Himself to one whom He feels compassion for.

Kṛṣṇa’s will-potency (iccha-śakti), creative-potency (kriyā-śakti) and knowledge-potency (jñāna-śakti) are always present. All these potencies only reach completeness within Him. Even if something else has some completeness, the one who measures that is limited in his conception of completeness, and his knowledge of that particular object is not equal to His all-knowing characteristic, hence He is unparalleled (asamorddhva). Since He is situated as Puruṣottama, both eternal spiritual substance and perishable mundane substance are situated at His two sides. He is nowhere situated within the human system of pañcāṅga-nyāya, born out of fallible knowledge and nourished by moralistic religion. Only when one properly establishes Him, one start to realise that His slightest presence gives rise to real logic and reason. Within the entire gamut of divine knowledge possible within the boundary of man’s imagination, He occupies the position of the highest worship. Among the different manifestations of the object of worship, no one considers kṛṣṇa-tattva to be simply a manifestation. This is because He is the origin of all manifestations. Śrīmad Bhāgavata says:

ete cāṁśa-kalāḥ puṁsaḥ kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam
indrāri-vyākulaṁ lokaṁ mṛḍayanti yuge yuge

“The various avatāras are either plenary manifestations or parts of plenary manifestations. But Kṛṣṇa is the original source of all these avatāras. He appears age after age in order to save the world from the demoniac enemies of Indra.” (Bhāg.1.3.28)

Kṛṣṇa is Himself the beloved Lover (kānta) and to His most intimate associates He is their beloved. Kṛṣṇa, in His various stages of boyhood, is known as Bāla-Gopāla, and amongst all the various groups of mothers and fathers, He is their only worshippable boy. Kṛṣṇa is the friend of all (jagad-bandhu). If the jīva does not develop friendship with Him, then he falls into an arena full of danger where he accepts an adversary in this land of enemies to be his friend. If an attempt is made to worship objects other than Kṛṣṇa as God, then after sometime, instead of the practitioner’s fragile serving propensity becoming purified, such a person will become a prisoner to animal, insect and stone-worshipping religions due to the influence of gross materialism born out of his unfortunate pride in rendering so-called service. If one tries to obstruct Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes, instructions or deliberations, one’s endeavor for perfection will always be ten fingers too short (i.e. incomplete)

Kṛṣṇa is always full of bliss. From the viewpoint of those affected by the illusory potency of Māyā and the conviction born from it, He is accepted as innumerable when he is conceptualized as an ordinary jīva.

Again from the Vaikuṇṭha perspective, His all-pervasive nature is not separate from Him. Unfortunate people become ensnared when they try to measure Him by their narrow human codes of conduct. When they try to measure His pervasiveness through various limitations, they only manage to relocate Him far beyond those boundaries. Since they imagine Kṛṣṇa as some special object of enjoyment from their experiences of gross worldly pleasure, they establish Him as an object born out of Māyā and as a result, their serving propensity becomes sense enjoyment. Considering the all-powerful characteristic of Kṛṣṇa, depending upon the kind of aversion one harbors, they try to create an ‘idol’ based on their own mental conceptions. Also sometimes, from the factory of human comprehension, they create an ‘idol’ based upon their impersonal notions. Such kinds of imaginative averseness towards service turn into pride, and as a punishment for this, the jīva imagines that the concepts of Brahman and Paramātmā are separate from knowledge of Kṛṣṇa. No one can attain eligibility for cultivating service to Kṛṣṇa (kṛṣṇānuśīlana), until and unless service to karṣṇa or service to the Bhāgavata is rendered. Therefore, until one is granted that eligibility, there is no chance of gaining substantial knowledge of Kṛṣṇa, there is no chance of getting Kṛṣṇa’s personal association, and there is no chance of gaining the eligibility of actually hearing about the great power and influence of Kṛṣṇa’s potency. Thus, those who are unqualified, being forced by the reactions of their fruitive activities, embrace the temporary time factor through different material coverings under the designation of various gross and subtle impressions.

There is no chance for the entangled conditioned jīva to realise the eternal truth, eternal-constitutional position etc. He is always mentally agitated and wanders the fourteen planetary systems in various species of life. The enjoying propensity appears and makes him an enjoyer, or the enjoying propensity leaves and makes him a renunciate. By considering what is good and what is bad, he is propelled to move from one position to another. Such changes of position due to inner motivation leads him to auspiciousness. This realisation of truth leads him to the domain of bhajana. That is why Gītā says:

catur-vidhā bhajante māṁ janāḥ su-kṛtino ’rjuna
ārto jijñāsur arthārthī jñānī ca bharatarṣabha

“O descendant of Bhārata, there are four kinds of persons who are fortunate enough to worship Me­ – those who are in distress, the inquisitive, those that seek wealth and those that desire self-realisation.” (Gītā 7.16)




Bankim Chandra – Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay (1838 –1894) was a Bengali author and poet who wrote the book Kṛṣṇa Charitra wherein he portrays Kṛṣṇa as a mundane historical character, devoid of any transcendental attributes.

Pañcāṅga-nyāya – The fivefold stages of the Nyāya system of logic. They are pratijñā (proposition), hetu (reason) udaharana (example), upanaya (application) and nigamana (conclusion).

Karṣṇa – A devotee of Kṛṣṇa.

Is a Guru Necessary?Is a Guru Necessary?
Narasiṁha CaturdaśiNarasiṁha Caturdaśī
Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda appeared in this world in Jagannātha Purī in 1874. He was the son of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura. Learning Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava philosophy from his esteemed father, he took initiation from the renowned ascetic, Śrī Gaura Kiśora Dāsa Bābāji in 1900. After accepting the sannyāsa order in 1918, he founded the Gauḍīya Maṭha with 64 centres in India and 3 abroad. Travelling the length and breadth of the subcontinent propagating the teachings of Śrī Caitanya, he departed from this world in 1937. He was the guru of many stalwart Vaiṣṇava ācāryas such as Śrīla A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda, Śrīla B.R. Śrīdhara Deva Gosvāmī and Śrīla B.P. Purī Gosvāmī.
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