Lessons from the Twenty-four Gurus - Part 16

Dear Prabhujis and Matajis,
Hare Krishna. Please accept our humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva.

Today in our series of mails on "Lessons from the Twenty-four Gurus", we will continue to look at the qualities to learn from the spiritual master - Ocean. The avadhuta brahmana says (SB 11.8.5):

muniḥ prasanna-gambhīro durvigāhyo duratyayaḥ
ananta-pāro hy akṣobhyaḥ stimitoda ivārṇavaḥ

A saintly sage is happy and pleasing in his external behavior, whereas internally he is most grave and thoughtful. Because his knowledge is immeasurable and unlimited he is never disturbed, and thus in all respects he is like the tranquil waters of the unfathomable and unsurpassable ocean.

The following are the qualities to learn from the Ocean from the above verse:

1. prasanna - cheerful/pleasing
2. gambhīra - very grave
3. ananta-pāraḥ – unlimited
4. durvigāhyo – unfathomable
5. duratyayaḥ – unsurpassable
6. akṣobhyaḥ - never disturbed

 We had a peek into the quality of being prasanna (cheerful and pleasing) in the last part of this series. Today we will try to delve into the next quality - gambhira (grave).

2. Gambhira - grave:  Literal meaning of the word 'grave' is 'to be grounded'. Ocean, even though is a large reservoir of water, is grounded and does not flow like a river. If we go deeper into the ocean, it is very calm and peaceful. When we are grave, we will become calm and peaceful just like the ocean. Being grave does not mean showing a very serious expression on our face but to internally realize the reality of this world (duhkhaalyam ashaasvatam) and our own existence in this world as temporary and full of miseries.

We were reminded of a phone conversation we had with Maharaj few years back when we were discussing with him on how the word 'gravity' is closely related to 'gravitational force' which keeps us on the ground. When we are grave or humble, we will be on the ground and when we are proud, we will fly. When we float in the air against the laws of gravity, there is every chance of falling down. Similarly when we were floating in mada (pride), we are bound to fall down hard. Immediately Maharaj transcendentally quipped – "Yes! Better be grave when we are alive, otherwise we will be forced to be grave... (in the graveyard)." As HG Madanmohan Prabhuji had also shared Gurudev's words on "How to be humble?" - "As soon as we remember our ashes (grave), we can become humble."

Our Guru Maharaj also used to say that to become grave, we should try to visit the graveyards and spend some time regularly. We should remember that we are also going to be there one day sooner or later. We can learn from one of the best Vaishnava - Lord Siva who always lives in the crematorium and covers his body with the ashes. Being fully absorbed in Krishna consciousness, he need not be doing this, but that is how he teaches us all the greatest lesson, that we can remember Krishna with full intensity only when we remember our last day.

Srila Prabhupada and Krishna are giving us more deeper understanding of gravity. In Bhagavad Gita verse 17.16, Lord Krishna says 

manaḥ-prasādaḥ saumyatvaṁ maunam ātma-vinigrahaḥ
bhāva-saṁśuddhir ity etat tapo mānasam ucyate

Satisfaction, simplicity, gravity, self-control and purification of one's existence are the austerities of the mind.

So, being 'grave' is an austerity of the mind. Mind does not let us be grave and thoughtful. Its only aim is to enjoy. So we have to force the mind to think of our own precarious condition in this world and therefore perform devotional service with utmost seriousness. Any slightest slackness leads to great danger as we understand from the story of Bharat Maharaj who had to take the form of a deer due to his attachment to the doe in the last stages of his life,  even after renouncing his kingdom, family and everything else for the sake of attaining perfection of life.

When we are attached to anything, it will result in extreme pain and will not allow us to be grave. Ocean is grave because it is not attached to anything that is either born of it or sustained by it. Inside the ocean, there are so many valuable gems, minerals and so on. All those minerals, valuable gems like pearls etc are lying down in the ocean without any protective locker. It does not protest when we take those valuable gems or extract the minerals from it. But when we take those pearls out, we are protecting it so carefully inside bank lockers and other safety mechanism. Inspite of keeping it inside the bank locker, we still always meditate on the gems and feel insecure, whereas ocean which is the mother of all the valuable gems, minerals etc is grave and cheerful because it does not claim ownership of its possessions.

Being grave means we should be self-sufficient and should not expect anything from others. As long as we live in this world, we should continue to perform our service to the Lord, our responsibilities and maintenance activities without any dependence on anybody except Guru and Krishna. Our realization of our own temporary nature (and that of others), and our complete dependence on the Lord for everything will force us to be internally grave and thoughtful and this will manifest externally as a pleasing and cheerful attitude.

Krishna teaches us with His own example. He has an eternally smiling, pleasing and cheerful countenance. It is because even though everything comes from Him and completely under His control, still He stays aloof from them completely detached. When the Supreme Lord who can rightfully claim ownership of His creation, is detached from it, why should we, who are only temporary tenants in this ephemeral world claim ownership of our temporary possessions which is root cause of all the problems?

Let us pray to the Supreme Lord and His pure devotees to bestow upon us the transcendental qualities of gravity and thoughtfulness which we learnt from our spiritual master 'Ocean' today.

Thank you very much.
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva,
Kalacakra Krsna das and Sudarshana devi dasi