Introduction to Guru-Tattva
His Divine Grace
Sri Srimad Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaj

President-Acharya of
Shree Chaitanya Gaudiya Math

[exerpted from the Introduction to a forth-coming book on Guru-Tattva]


TAT - Transcendental Reality which cannot be
comprehended by material senses, gross or subtle.
TATTVA - Inner Significance of Transcendental Reality.


Etymological significance of the word, "Guru" has been elaborately described in different Indian scriptures It will not be wise to make the subject terse and beyond the scope of the subject by going through theoretical scholarly discussion which frusrates the real purpose of getting spiritual amelioration - practical realization of the Highest Bliss. Fundamental points relevant for devotional practice in procuring the Highest objective - Transcendental Divine Knowledge descending through preceptorial or disciplic channels as taught by realized souls, bona fide gurus, pure devotees with evidence from authentic scriptures - will be delineated.

Ordinary usual meaning:

GURU - Spiritual Master (Acharya), Preceptor, Professor or Lecturer, Advisor, Teacher, Instructor, Initiator.

Spiritual Interpretations

alparn va vahuva yasya
shrutasyo palcaroti yab,
barnapeeha gurum
vidvachchhrutopakriyaya taya
(Manu 2/149)

"As per scriptural prescript, one who imparts a bit or sufficient knowledge of the Vedas to deserving aspirant for his eternal benefit is termed 'Guru'."

gukarashchandhakarah syat
andhakara nirodhitvat
gururityabhi dheeyate

"'Gu' syllable of the word Guru denotes darkness (nescience) and the syllable 'Ru' denotes removal of darkness (nescience). One who removes darkness-ignorance is considered Guru."

gukarashchandhakarah syat
rukarasteja uchyate
ajnana nashakam brahrna
gurureva na samshayah

"'GU' syllable signifies darkness-ignorance and 'Ru' syllable light. Therefore, it truely indicates without doubt, that the self-effulgent Para-Brahma, whose light removes darkness and/or ignorance, is Guru."

chakshurunmeelitarn yena
tasmai shri gurave narnah
(Gaudiya Kanthahar)

"My prostrated obeisances to Shri Gurudeva who opens my blind eyes removing dark nescience with the application of the eye-salve of Divine Knowledge."

sakshad-dharitvena samasta-sastrair
uktas tatha bhavyata eva sadbhih
kintu prabhor yah priya eva tasya
vande guroh snoharanaravindam
(Vishvanath Chakravarty)

"The Spiritual Master is to be honoured as much as the Supreme Lord because He is the most Confidential Servitor of the Lord. This is acknowledged in all revealed scriptures and followed by all authorities. I offer my respectful obeisances unto the Lotus Feet of such a Spiritual Master, who is bona ride representative of Sri Hari."


The Spiritual Master (Gurudeva) is one with Supreme Lord Sri Han in the sense that he is His dearest servitor. Gurudev is not the Enjoyer Bhagavan, but He is the Most Confidential Servitor. As such Tulasi (basil) leaf is offered on the Lotus Feet of Sri Hari, but not on the Lotus Feet of Gurudeva; it is offered on the upper portion of His Spiritual Body, i.e., in His Hands.

yasya prasadat bhagavat prasado
yasyaprasadannagatih kutopi
tyayamstuvamstasya yashastrisandhyam
vande gurob sri charanaravindam
(Vishvanath Chakravarty)

"I offer my respectful obeisances unto the Lotus Feet of the Spiritual Master after meditating and singing in adoration, His Glories in the morning, at midday and afternoon, by whose Grace I can get the Grace of Sri Hari (the Supreme Lord) and without Whose Grace and compassion, I have got no shelter."

sri guruoharanapadma kevalabhakatisadma
bando mui savadhana mate
jahara prasade bhai e bhava tariya jai
krishna prapti hoi jaha hoite

guru mukha padmavakhya chittete kariya aikya
ar na kariha mane asha
Sri gurucharane rati ei se uttama gati
je prasade pure sarva asha

chakhu dano dila jei janme janme prabhu sei divya jnan hride prokashita
preme bhakti jaha haite avidya vinasha jate
vede gaya jahara charita
(Srila Narottama Thakur)

"The Lotus Feet of His Divine Grace Sri Gurudeva is the abode of exclusive devotion. I chant the glories of Sri Gurudeva in devout adoration. One can cross the ocean of births and deaths as well as get Sri Krishna by His unfathomable Grace. I should be satisfied by reconciling the nectarean sayings emerging from the lotus-lips of Gurudeva with the thoughts of my mind; nothing more should I expect to get. Devotion to the Lotus Feet of Sri Gurudev is the highest objective. All desires can be fulfilled by His Grace. It is by His grace I get the spiritual eyes to see God and thereafter, Divine Transcendental Knowledge is revealed within me. Thus, I have got prema-bhakti.1 My ignorance is removed. Such a Gurudev may become my eternal divine master in every birth. These Transcendental Pastimes of Gurudeva have been narrated in the Vedas.

We have heard one peculiar story of a community in India who do not acknowledge guru [a head for spiritual guide]. According to them, God is the only Guru and others are god-brothers. The eldest god-brother is called 'Dada Guru'. [ Dada - elder brother]. This sort of conclusion is neither rational nor supported by scriptures We find in this world that we accept authorities or experts in all matters. When we are acknowledging 'Guru' in every sphere, it seems absurd to declare that we need not require the help of Guru to know 'God' - Who is even beyond human comprehension. Those who espouse such an opinion are really not serious to know God. The indispensability for accepting guru for God-realisation is substantiated by scriptural evidence.

acharyavan purusho veda
(Chandogya Upanishad)

The person initiated "by Guru" can only know Para-brahma (God).

uttisthata jagrata
prapya varan nivodhata
kshurasya dhara nishita duaratya ya
durgam pathastat kavayo vadanti

Veda, Divinity Himself, is giving beneficial instructions to the sadhus, "O Sadhus! Rise up! [Withdraw your material senses from the material objects completely] Awake! [Be reinstated in your own real self] Sincerely endeavour to know God praying for the grace of the great saints. This world is as sharp as a razor and full of miseries; as such it is very difficult to get deliverance. It is impossible to cross the ocean of births and deaths without worship of Divinity. The realized saints state that without careful, zealous efforts, nobody can get God-realization - the only panacea for the malady of worldly afflictions, i.e. nobody can cross the ocean of births and deaths without worship of God, taking absolute shelter at the Lotus Feet of gurudeva."

Even the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna, Sri Gaurahari, and Lord Ramachandra played the pastimes of accepting Guru to teach indispensability of accepting Guru. Sri Krishna, Sri Gaurahari, and Sri Ramachandra accepted Sandipani Muni, Sri Ishwarapuripad and Sri Vasishtha Muni respectively as spiritual Guides.


[Extracts from a sermon delivered by His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad 108 Sri Srimat Bhakti Dayita Madhava Goswami Maharaj, illustrious Founder-Acharya of Chaitanya Gaudiya Math -- Registered Gaudiya Mission - on the Holy Day of His advent on Utthan Ekadashi Tithi in 1967 at Sree Chaitanya Gaudiya Math, 35, Satish Mukherjee Road, Calcutta 26.]

"To me, Gurudeva manifests Himself in four distinct forms:

  1. GU + RU - One Who destroys ignorance. The appearance of Absolute Knowledge, Bhagavan, removes ignorance. Hence, Original Guru is Bhagavan.
  2. He who has engaged me in the service of Bhagavan directly is the second appearance of my Srila Gurudeva Most Revered Nityalilapravishta Prabhupad Srimat Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Gosvami Thakur, Founder of the World-wide Sri Chaitanya Math and Sri Gaudiya Math Organisations [missions]
  3. Vaishnavas are the third appearance of Gurudeva. What do they do? As Gurudeva always engages His disciples in the service of His object of worship, Vaishnavas also do the same.
  4. Disciples are the fourth manifestation of Guru. They, as disciples, actually do the work of a Guru, i.e. they engage myself always in the service of Sri Gurudeva. There is no scope of doing any anti-devotional act of violation in their presence. If there is any violation, they will detect it. Hence, disciples are also my Guruvarga. Disciples perform Gurupuja by singing the glories of gurudeva. I perform Gurupuja by hearing. But if by hearing those glories, I have got the evil motive of misappropriating it, that will not be Gurupuja. As chanting is bhakti, hearing is also bhakti. In whatever way devotees may express their hearts, they are all my objects of worship.
[The message of His Divine Grace Nityalilapravislita Om lO8 Sri Srimat Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Gosvami Thakur on the Holy day (Krishna-Panchami Tithi) of His fiftieth Advent Anniversary at Sri Gaudiya Math, Ultadanga Road, Caloutta. [the Sermon was delivered in Bengali. It is difficult to understand the deep inner significance of his esoteric instructive message]

"Redeemers! Sympathisers! My Sri Gurudeva is the manifestation of the Pastimes of Vishnuvigrahah (Godhead) as His Absolute Counterpart Servitor. Though He is God's dearest Vishnuvigraha, yet he is dwelling in the hearts of all living beings of the world in the form of a Vaishnava to rescue fallen souls like me.
"Gurudeva in Human Form is the best among all living beings and is my sole object of worship. As perfect man, in spite of His being Servitor of the Highest Object of worship of Vaishnavas, His relation with Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is inconceivable simultaneous distinction and non-distinction. In Consideration of His non-distinct aspect, His Form is the highest object of worship. The visible world is eager to serve Him, but a man like me who is averse to God, is satisfied thinking Gurudeva a perfect man. Human beings, as devotees of that perfect man, are all Vaishnavas, They are manifestations of my Gururdeva in various forms. Positively, they are my Guruvarga and instructors; negatively they are the persons, who at the time of their performing bhajan, are very much eager to hear delirium from an abominable wretched person like me. It seems to me I am capable of reciting what I have heard from Sri Gurudev along with them unitedly. I have got no audacity to teach the world because peculiar characteristics of Vishnu-Vaishnava-Tattva are incomprehensible. Although they are eternally distinct, they are at the same time non-distinct which is inconceivable."
I have heard from Gurudeva that all obects of worship, all kinds of worshipper and worship are eternally incorporated in Absolute Undivided Knowledge [Advaijnan] Sri Krishna. In spite of their incorporation in Sri Krishna, they are eternal manifestations of variegatedness attached with divine pastimes. Myself and other living beings who are averse to Hari-Guru-Vaishnava [Supreme Lord-Spiritual Guide-Devotee] like me, are deviated from Eternal Truth due to their forgetfulness of the knowledge of eternal variegated divine pastimes. Even I have got no capacity correctly to understand why I have become deviated. In the context of my feeling eternity, I am eternal servant of Sri Krishna. I have lost remembrance that I am eternal servant of Sri Krishna, as I have fallen into the pit of misconception of self.
The knowledge that I am the marginal potency of Sri Krishna is nowin a dormant state due to above drawbacks. Hence, I have got this assumption that Absolute Bliss can be attained by abersion to the service of Sri Vrajendra Nandan Sri Krishna [son of Nanda Maharaj]. Who is All-powerful and All-knowledge. But that sort of anti-devotional attitude is opposed to variegatedness of Eternal Divine Pastimes. I shall commit a blunder in thinking 'Mayavad contention' as 'Brahmajnan'.
That wrong assumption misdirects me and deprives me from the service of Gurudeva forever. I am unable to comprehend simultaneous distinction and non-distinction of my existence. 'Dva Suparna' - three mantras of Sruti have not been subject-matter of my discussion. I commit offence at the Lotus Feet of Sri Sridhara Swami, who is one with Vishnu Swami, sustainer of the pure devotion, when I do not discern in their teachings manifestations of simultaneous distinction and non-distinction due to forgetfulness of real self.
I have been deprived of the loving service of my Most Beloved, by confusing Pure Non-Dualism with Absolute Monism. I am avoiding the procedure of getting TranscendentaI Divine Know1edge descending through preceptorial channel-disciplic channel or Self-Effulgent Knowledge of the Vedas. As such I have imbibed in me, false material ego of becoming a judge to determine right and wrong by inviting deep nescience due to lack of ontological devotional knowledge. It is for this reason only as a non-vedist:

  1. I commit offence at the Lous Feet of the Vaishnava by going to exaggerate efficacy of the Doctrine of Action [Karma-Vichar]

  2. I conclude "Panca-rartra system" as anti-vedic.
  3. I do harm to my eternal welfare by observing objects of worship - Sankarshan, Pradyumna, and Anirudha as distinct from Vasudeva.
  4. I have imbibed in me belief in Absolute Monism due to my offence at the Lotus Feet of Shandilya Rishi.

Sripad Purnaprajna Anandatirtha Madhavamuni [Sri Madhavendra-acharya] has blessed me by manifesting his allegiance to Vedavyas in this adverse situation. I am unable to express the extent of his grace unto me for my eternal benefit. Sri Gaurasundar distributed bountifully to all His associates, the sincere endeavour to serve the object of worship which has been inherited from Sri Madhavendrapuripad and preserved by him in the heart of Sri Ishwarpuripad. I was so long averse to Sri Hari due to my reluctance to serve the Lotus Feet of Sri [Raghunath] Das Goswami, embodiment of esoteric bhajan. [Ragunath] Das Goswami's Bhajan under the benign guidance of Srila Rupa Goswami, who expanded the Gospel of Divine Love, is conspicuous.
Sri Jiva Gosvami, following the footprints of Sri Sanatan

Gosvami, pulled me by the hair and placed me on the Lotus Feet of Raghunath Das and Svarup Damodar as their eternal servant. I have got the opportunity to realise Sri Gurudeva as non-different from the Lotus Feet of Sri Narottam Thakur in view of my being blessed in getting the privilege of hearing apophthegm flowing from the holy pen of Srila Kaviraj Goswami. I am a wretched insignificant creature of the world. Sri Vishvanath Chakravarthy is making the gesture of invoking Vyasapuja in one form or other by various alternative means to resist me from going astray. Vedantacharya Sri Baladev Vidyabhushan, who made the pastimes of appealing as Guru to infuse divine power to Sri Madhusudan Das and Sri Uddhav Das, has rescued me from the menace of the path of logical altercation by pronouncing propriety of Vedic knowledge descending through preceptorial channel. Sri Vishvanath Chakravarthy is perceived by his associates as custodian of the world. In that context, Sri Vishvanath appeared as Absolute Counterpart - grace incarnate of the Lord - to resist me in my attempt to know the Truth through empiricism. Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, Absolute Counterpart - Krishnavigraha, who is non-different from Krishna Dvaipayan Vedavyasmuni, has given me shelter at Vraja-rattan (at Chandrashekhar Acharya Bhavan - the holy place of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's Vraja-lila pastimes) inside Nabadwip by His pen and devotional practice.

[this concludes Part I of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Pragbhupada's Vaktritabali - a series of speeches delivered]

B.B. Tirtha Goswami Maharaj  


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