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from Sripad Bhakti Sudhir Goswami Maharaj's Daily Darshan website
Sunday, April 11, 2004
Sri Chaitanya Saraswata Krishnanushilana Sangha
Kolkata, India

One Master Dog
Spiritual Fidelity and Loyalty
By Bhakti Sudhir Goswami

In response to a question concerning "chastity to Sri Guru."

Srila Sridhar Maharaja says initiation means essentially placing oneself under the guidance of a superior Vaishnava. Guru means guide. In all spiritual matters, especially in identifying whose association is desirable and whose is undesirable we shall take guidance from our guru. Our own judgment is not reliable. It is in recognition of this fact that we have approached the lotus feet of Sri Guru. We should not be misled by the glaring misconceptions of novices but focus upon Srila Gurudeva and our guru varga for proper understanding and it’s application.

Srila Sridhar Maharaja instructs us, "Because I am not reliable a guardian is necessary. We think to know what is good, what is bad — I must keep that in my own hand. I cannot give that standard to any other's hand. Good or bad, that responsibility I must not give to anyone. But such thing is also to be given up, we must depend fully on the higher guardian's decision.

"It is important, we must consciously do this: transfer the standard of judging right and wrong — the standard of judgment — to give it to another. I won't be able to judge my own interest. My interest will be judged by my guardian. To transfer the standard of judgment to any other hand is a dangerous thing, so we must do it consciously."

As is the case in analyzing any precious substance, an expert’s assessment is necessary to identify the real from the fake (and all of the gradations). There is no more valuable substance than Krishna consciousness, so how indispensable is the discerning eye of an expert? The genuine conception of chastity (fidelity, loyalty) we seek is apparent in the teachings and behaviour of the highest devotees; those entrusted by Mahaprabhu with His line (sampradaya).

Raghunatha das Goswami was living only on a cup of buttermilk per day but rejected that as unacceptable when the container was from the place of an opposition party to his guru (sakhi sthali). Is his behaviour a mere fanatical boycott or is there a deeper spiritual principle to be considered? Rupa Goswami (the leader of this line) has praised the chatak bird for not seeking sustenance from any other source than the unpredictable, sometimes devastating thundercloud (viracaya dandam dina bandhu dayam va). Srila Govinda Maharaja echoes these sentiments when he declares, "I am a one master dog."

We should not allow the inept social interactions of neophytes to cast a shadow upon the illuminating examples of superior Vaishnavas. Unfortunately there are unscrupulous, so-called devotees masquerading as "bosom friends" of gurus living and departed and sometimes blanket prohibitions are in order. Often we use terms like "association" and "devotee" in an all-encompassing sense but it is really higher association that we seek. Srila Sridhar Maharaja gives his opinion in Sri Guru and His Grace:

"In a certain stage, we should beware of bad association, so in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (1.2.91) Rupa Goswami has said, sajatiyasaye snigdhe sadhau sangah svato vare: what sort of saintly persons shall we try to mix with earnestly? Those who are in our line, who have the same high spiritual aspirations as we do, and who hold a superior position. To associate with such saintly persons will help us the most to progress towards the ultimate goal."

Rupanuga means to aspire to these standards and apply them in our life.

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