Lessons from the Twenty-four Gurus - Part 20

sudHare Krishna Prabhujis and Matajis,
Please accept our humble obeisances. All glories to His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva.

In continuation of our discussion on the topic "Lessons from the Twenty-four Gurus", we were meditating on the below qualities that we need to learn from one of the spiritual masters of avadhuta brahmana - Ocean

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.

1. prasanna — pleasing;
2. gambhīraḥ — very grave; 
3. ananta-pāraḥ — unlimited; 
4. akṣobhyaḥ — not to be disturbed; 
5. durvigāhyaḥ — unfathomable; 
6. duratyayaḥ — unsurpassable;

We had a peek into the quality of being prasanna (cheerful and pleasing), gambhīraḥ (grave), ananta-pāraḥ - (unlimited) and akṣobhyaḥ - (never disturbed) and durvigāhyaḥ (unfathomable) in the last few mails of this series. Today we will try to delve on the last quality of ocean mentioned in this verse duratyayaḥ (unsurpassable).

6. duratyayaḥ - unsurpassable: Unsurpassable normally means 'that which cannot be exceeded', 'of the greatest possible degree, quality or intensity. We all know how great, huge and unsurpassable ocean is. Even a big ship that many times act as runway for fighter jets or a passenger ship that carries thousands of people or huge cargo ships that carry thousands of tons of containers looks like a small ant compared to the enormous size of the ocean. Normally when we have to identify a personality with this 'unsurpassable' nature, we will think of someone who is materially very powerful, very expert, very skillful, knowledgeable and so on. But that almost always is accompanied with pride, conceit, envy, overconfidence etc. That is not considered bad too in this world. But when the same adjective 'unsurpassable' is to be used for a saintly personality, it actually refers to their transcendental qualities and their level of realization of the Supreme Absolute Truth.

We all have heard and discussed many times about the great feats that Srila Prabhupada performed in his short visit to this planet. He has achieved so many things that are not possible to even dream of. All the temples he has constructed, all the books he has written, all the devotees he has trained, all the world tours he has made alone does not make him unsurpassable. Beyond all these achievements, it is his innumerable transcendental saintly qualities such as humility, tolerance, courage, compassion for all the living entities, complete surrender to Lord Krishna, unflinching dedication and determination to follow the instruction of his spiritual master and many other such transcendental qualities that make him 'unsurpassable'. After all, the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna is completely unsurpassable. When a devotee is fully dedicated to the service of this unsurpassable Lord, they also automatically become 'unsurpassable', and Srila Prabhupada is the practical example in front of our eyes. For our own purification, we will briefly look at some of the instances that made Srila Prabhupada 'unsurpassable'.

1. Humility: Once when Srila Prabhupada was explaining about the three different classes of devotees (first class - uttama adhikari, second class - madhyama adhikari and third class - kanishta adhikari), one of the reporters asked him, "Which class do you belong?". Obviously all the devotees present there were annoyed at this question. But Srila Prabhupada very humbly replied, "Actually I belong to the fourth class (lower than the third class)". This response stunned everyone including the reporter. It is easy for someone to say when they have not achieved anything and are not an important person, but it is very difficult for someone like Prabhupada who had achieved so much in this world, to speak so humble. Truly his humility is 'unsurpassable'. There are innumerable such instances where Srila Prabhupada showed his humility, but for that we have to write a separate book.

2. Tolerance: How much he had to tolerate when he was trying to preach the message of Bhagavat-gita in India? If we were to write books, we will probably write and employ servants to print and distribute. But he was doing all this by himself. Even though he was neglected by the material-minded people still he was so tolerant in his preaching. When he went to the West, again he had to face so many difficulties and he tolerated. Who will be eager to teach the complicated subject matter to Westerners who do not have an iota of idea of the Vedic culture? But he ventured and tolerated all their mistakes, lack of proper respect, etiquette and everything. He tolerated his own bodily ailments so much that even when he was completely ill, he would continue to travel, preach and write his books. Our Guru Maharaj used to say, "Srila Prabhupada did not write these books sitting in a 5-star hotel, eating sandwich. He wrote these books after undertaking extreme austerities, that is why they are full of transcendental realizations and are so much respected."

3. Courage: Srila Prabhupada was courage personified. Being completely surrendered to Lord Krishna, he had nothing to fear in this world. Who would have the courage to call bluff on the scientists and professors calling them publicly 'fools and rascals'? Who can challenge those scientists to prove that 'life comes from matter' by even creating a mosquito on their own? He had the courage to defy all sentiments of age-old tradition of not taking the message of Bhagavat-gita outside the shores of India and preaching to the non-vedic people and converting them into first class vaishnavas. As many contemporary acaryas have approved, it is not possible for us to get another saint to surpass Srila Prabhupada's transcendental qualities in the near future.

4. Compassion: His compassion for all the living entities in well-known. ''Unsurpassable' compassion means risking one's own life to save another living entity. Srila Prabhupada risked 2 severe heart attacks in the Jaladuta to travel to the West to save the 'lost souls'. His unlimited compassion convinced him that so many souls are suffering all over the world without 'love for Krishna' and they do not even know that they are missing this which is why they are suffering. What to speak of the souls in the Western world, he is so compassionate to all the future generation 'lost cases' like ourself and many more to come, that he has put himself in his books! Even when he was in Vrindavana, he was so compassionate even to the scorpions and spiders that were living in his room in Radha-Damodara temple.

5. Complete Surrender to Lord Krishna: With all knowledge and achievements pride comes naturally. But this is where Krishna really tests us and to pass that test knowledge has to be combined with humility (vidya vinaya sampanne). Srila Prabhupada was given the title 'Bhaktivedanta Swami' because of his unsurpassable bhakti and knowledge of the shastras. But he was not proud of that knowledge thinking that he will turn the whole world to Krishna with his knowledge. When he reached USA, he wrote a poem which is famous as 'Markine Bhagavata dharma'. In that he prayed to the Lord feelingly, "How will I make them understand this message of Krsna consciousness? I am very unfortunate, unqualified and the most fallen. Therefore I am seeking Your benediction so that I can convince them, for I am powerless to do so on my own... I have no devotion, nor do I have any knowledge, but I have strong faith in the holy name of Krsna. I have been designated as Bhaktivedanta, and now, if You like, You can fulfill the real purport of Bhaktivedanta." Srila Prabhupada was so completely surrendered to Krishna that he threw himself at the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord and begged Him to use him in whatever way He wants, and the Lord used him to maximum capacity!

6. Dedication to Spiritual Master: We do not have any eligibility to speak of this quality (rather any of the above qualities) but having taken the service of enumerating some of the transcendental qualities of great saints, we have no escape route. By meditating on this astounding quality of Srila Prabhupada, we pray and hope at his lotus feet that one day we will also dedicate ourself to the mission of our spiritual master. Srila Prabhupada often would say that, even if you do not have any other qualification, if you have this one qualification, ie., to follow the instructions of the spiritual master, you will become successful. He has aptly written in his Bhagavatam purport 1.1.8, "The secret of success in spiritual life is in satisfying the spiritual master and thereby getting his sincere blessings." Srila Prabhupada hardly met his spiritual master 2-3 times but the instructions he received from him was engraved in his heart. He took inspiration from those instructions (to print books and preach in the Western countries) and served those instructions with heart and soul. It would be an understatement if we say that he sacrificed his life to carry out the instructions of his spiritual master. Truly his dedication and determination to follow the instructions of his spiritual master is incomparable and unsurpassable.

It did not take much time for us to write on these qualities but to actually follow them we have to surpass one 'unsurpassable' enemy that is sitting within us - that is our own 'mind'. We fervently pray unto the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada and our Guru Maharaj who gave us all the inspiration to take up devotional service, to shower their causeless mercy so that we will cultivate at least a fraction of these qualities in our life time.

With this offering, we are concluding a glimpse of the lessons learnt from 'ocean'. Krishna willing, we will try to continue with the lessons from the next spiritual master in our next offering.

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