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Saturday, October 24, 2009

janme janme prabhu se

Last year I compiled the scriptural anthology ‘The glories of the (one) Guru’ (posted on mainly to show that the Guru is a distinct person, not some universal tattva that can be supplemented by so many self-chosen śikṣā-gurus and that appears as another person in each lifetime. Narottam Dās Thākur clearly says 'janme janme prabhu se' ('He is my master, birth after birth'). Today I found these texts in Sanātan Goswāmī’s Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta (2.4.3-4)-

bhaktiṁ nava-vidhaṁ samyag jñatvedaṁ vanam āgataḥ
apaśyaṁ sahasaivātra śrīmad-guru-varaṁ nijam
pūrvavad rājamano'sau dṛṣṭvā māṁ praṇataṁ mudā
sāsīrvādaṁ samāliṅgya sarvajño’kṛpayat-taram

Gopakumāra said: “Having learned the nine types of devotion I came to this forest Vṛndāvana where I suddenly saw my own Śrī Guru. He shone just like before. Seeing me offering my obeisances to him he was very glad, blessed me and embraced me. Then that omniscient one was most kind (to instruct me in the secrets of bhakti).”

Note: The word ‘nijam’, ‘my own’, shows that Śrī Guru did not appear in the form of some other person replacing him/her – it was the very same person.

Sanātana Gosvāmī comments on verse 4: asau guru-varaḥ pūrvavad rājamana iti nirvikāritvādi bhagavad avatāra-lakṣaṇaṁ mathurā vrajabhumī rasikatvaṁ ca darśitam-

"Though Gopakumāra had been to the heavens and a long time had passed (meaning thousands of years), Śrī Guru was unchanged, which shows that he/she is an avatāra of the Lord and a rasika of Mathurā and Vrajabhūmi as well."

This confirms the eternality of the Guru as a distinct individual (not just a tattva) as glorified in Narottama's song: 'janme janme prabhu se' ('He is my master, birth after birth').

The rest of Sanātana Gosvāmī’s commentary is interesting and important, too, so I’d like to add this too –

akṛpayattaram atyantam kṛpāṁ kṛtavān akhilaṁ parama rahasyaṁ bhakti-tattvam anubhava paryantam upadiśad ityarthaḥ yataḥ sarvajñaḥ

“He was very compassionate, so he instructed me in all the greatest secrets of bhakti, including the realizations about it. (This was possible because) it came from the omniscient.”

This text has also been added to ‘ The glories of the (one) Guru’, p. 9, on, linktab 'Articles'.


  1. this means that the diksa guru personally, leaving his manjari seva in siritual world, will have to come back birth after birth to guide the disciple if the disciple somehow can't manage to go to the spiritual world birth after birth? or guru can send an expansion since the liberated soul can take on unlimited forms as vedanta sutra 4.4.11 and Chandogya Upanishad 7.26.2 states? or he can send his representative, as AC bhaktivedanta swami said?

  2. I would think in terms of the Chandogya and Vedanta Sutra option. Besides, my Guru said that the Guru only comes back for the submissive disciple, not for the bloopees.

  3. I must say, this is an incredible photo. I wonder how many of us - quite a few I imagine- were attracted to become Viashnavas by seeing images of saintly people like this. I say become because in our hearts we do know the difference between actual transformation and passing immitation. Where we were genuinely transformed, we seek to find that experience again and again. There is something about the dress of a saint where, albeit eccentric and colorful, it lends genuinity to madness. Also, the image of a saint combined with the image of a cow, the symbol of the lila, as we see in this photo, is quite mesmerizing. We see the cow in the pasture and the lila-eye expects to see Shyam somehere in the picture as well. But seeing the sadhu instead reminds us that, for us, the lila is actually in the presence of the sadhu.

    Anyway, beautiful photo.

  4. Sometimes a picture says more than 1,000 words...........

  5. A picture which says more than a thousand words inspired me to say a few myself - just see the need to talk! But now I must go mum. I promise. At least for a while.

  6. Words in praise of a sadhu are never wasted............

  7. Thank you for your presentation. However, I was hoping you could answer a few questions:

    1) How does this relate to the concept of vyasti guru? Are all varieties of guru considered vyasti guru? I have often heard vyasti guru described as the embodiment of the guru principle. Perhaps this is where the idea of the mutability of guru arises: as long as one represents samasti guru, the vyasti guru can be found there, even if in different individuals.

    2) What about cases in which the guru falls from the path of bhakti? Was he/she never one's guru to begin with? As guru may not necessarily be of the highest order, this seems theoretically possible. How does one reconcile this? This does not appear to be a new issue, assuming Krsna-bhajanamrta is legitimate; the text deals with this topic at length.

    Thank you for any insight you have to offer.

  8. Anon,
    Jiva's vyasti/samasti-tattva must be seen in harmony with the teaching of Sanatan Goswami quoted here in the blog, not in contradiction. If people interpret vyasti-guru to be mutable it may be their jump to conclusions only.
    The shastras are packed with references to the Guru in the singular case - I have collected many of them in my scriptural anthology 'The glories of the [one] Guru." on my website.

    Yes, if Guru fell down he was never Guru to start with, Guru is ananta.

    The Guru-paragraph in Krishna Bhajanamrita is a bit troublesome, particularly the part where it is advised to rectify your own Guru.
    After all, one of the 10 namaparadhas is Guror avajna, and its a heavy one.

    Guru - love him or leave him.

  9. Thank you for the thoughtful response.