Today (Thursday December 27th) is the disappearance day of our Prabhupada’s guru, Shrila Bhaktisiddhata Saravati Thakur (also called “Prabhupada” by his followers). This is one of those important days to remember such great personalities, our glorious predecessors. He was the son of Thakur Bhaktivinode who was the pioneer of Krishna consciousness in the West.
Today (Thursday December 27th) is the disappearance day of our Prabhupada’s guru, Shrila Bhaktisiddhata Saravati Thakur (also called “Prabhupada” by his followers). This is one of those important days to remember such great personalities, our glorious predecessors. He was the son of Thakur Bhaktivinode who was the pioneer of Krishna consciousness in the West. In many ways Bhaktisiddhanta put into form the ideas of his father, and our Prabhupada followed the lead of these two superlative devotees in giving shape to the mission of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (the incarnation for this age).
Prabhupada was empowered by Lord Nityananda to spread the teachings of Lord Chaitanya all over the world. By studying the life and teachings of Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta and Shrila Bhaktivinode we can better understand our lineage (Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradaya) and how our Prabhupada was faithful to his predecessors while adapting the details according the the time, place and circumstances he encountered.
Their are many accounts of Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta’s extraordinary character and birth by which we can understand from one perspective his divine nature. Although they are inspiring, of more importance to us, are his teachings and personal example. They also indicate his superlative qualities as an empowered uttama (realized) devotee. There are a number of books about Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saravati Thakur that you can consult to find out more about his life. For now I will share with you a few of his words to give you a glimpse of his powerful preaching and hopefully inspire you to learn more.
“My Gurudeva is residing in many different personalities. If he does not reside in many different personalities, then who will protect me? Those whom my gurudeva considered close to him are my saviors. But I hope never to see the faces of such evil-doing rascals as those who have criticized the lotus feet of my Gurudeva, or those who have somehow supported such criticisms.”
“By attributing fatherhood to Divinity, we can only demand some service from him and later express some gratitude. But expressing [this type of] gratitude [after getting boons] is not rendering devotional service, nor is it a symptom of love. The concept of service from the father on one hand and of expressing gratitude on the other is founded on partial realization. This is not the same as having the unalloyed desire for the happiness of the Lord; this is not devotional service.”
“Mudane renunciation, sacrifice and austerity are not the symptoms of saintliness. The ant may say, “The elephant eats a lot; I do not eat so much, I eat very little.” Then the ant becomes a greater sadhu than the elephant! But the elephant carries Krishna to Syamanta Pancaka (in Kurukshetra, where Radharani sees Krishna again) and the ant may bite Krishna. In spite of eating a lot the elephant is carrying Krishna, serving Krishna, and in spite of eating a little the ant may bite Krishna.”
“The full realization of ananda (bliss or joy) is our supreme goal. Mere relief from pain is not our need. We have to find our wealth in a positive liberation. But we have to make sure that we do not look for the wrong thing. One has to be very cautious about this. We have to do the preparatory groundwork before death. We will accept the help, knowledge and intelligence of our friends, of science, or any other source only if that helps us to serve the devotees of the Lord. But we will not cultivate any tendency to carry our burdens and trash from here to the other world.”
“Shri Gurudeva has said, “Come, we shall all serve the Lord together.” When he said, “we”, he did not mean any one person. Some become selfish thinking, “It is my service alone, no one else has a right to do this.” But the merciful Shri Gurudeva says, “Give up your envy and competitiveness, let us all serve the Lord together,”
The worship of the Lord is higher than anything. “Since this is higher than anything else, no one else can do it”, or “I won’t let anyone else to it”—such envy does not come from the lotus feet of gurudeva. The kirtana that is done by everyone is sankirtana.
The message of Lord Shri Gaurasundar [Chaitanya] is that to pray for the Lord for his help, we have to become “trinadapi sunicha”—humbler than a blade of grass. One does not ask for help unless he understands his own limitations. When we consider ourselves helpless we realize, “Things are not getting done by my own endeavor; I have no choice but to accept help from others,” then only will we pray for such help. The work that has to be done by many can never be done by one’s own effort.”