“The seed of devotional service fructifies and becomes a transcendental creeper. Finally it reaches the lotus feet of the Lord in the spiritual sky. This seed is obtained by the mercy of the Lord and the guru. By the Lord’s mercy one gets the association of a bona fide guru, and by the mercy of the guru, one gets a chance to render devotional service. Devotional service, the science of bhakti-yoga, carries one from this material world to the spiritual world.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 13.18 Purport)
As we are growing up, a harsh reality hits us. Like a brick thrown in the face, there is no immediate relief from the pain. We simply have to accept the fact. It is the truth that so many others before us have faced, and we will have to find some grace and composure in moving forward.
The reality is that death will occur. It is guaranteed, along with taxes, as famously quipped by a founding father of the United States of America. I am going to die. Nothing will be able to prevent the inevitable end. It is the destiny as soon as there was birth.
जातस्य हि ध्रुवो मृत्युर्
ध्रुवं जन्म मृतस्य च
तस्माद् अपरिहार्ये ऽर्थे
न त्वं शोचितुम् अर्हसि
jātasya hi dhruvo mṛtyur
dhruvaṁ janma mṛtasya ca
tasmād aparihārye ‘rthe
na tvaṁ śocitum arhasi
“For one who has taken his birth, death is certain; and for one who is dead, birth is certain. Therefore, in the unavoidable discharge of your duty, you should not lament.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.27)
A somewhat comforting thought is that the same rule applies to others. Everyone is destined for the same fate. We had no control over the time and place of our birth, and so we were forced into this situation of eventual exit from the world to which we grow attached.
This means that our association with others is only temporary. The time they spend with us is limited. Those loving parents that cared for and protected us during childhood. That best friend from the neighborhood who would play video games and talk on the phone. That colleague at work whom we saw in the office for five days a week, for ten years and more.
They must all depart at some point in time. If we are fortunate, we find people who make a lasting impact. For instance, a father who taught us the way. They paved the foundation for our steady disposition, strong work ethic, and properly grounded outlook later in life, during adulthood. They protected us both in the physical sense and also in the mental preparation to handle the difficulties life would throw our way.
As described by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, a fortunate person comes in contact with the spiritual master, who then shows the way towards transcendence. This association, which might be for only a few minutes, makes an impact that lasts beyond the present lifetime.
That meeting triggers the second birth, which is only available to the human being. The first birth is certainly important, occurring through the combination of mother and father. Even the animals have this opportunity, so the second birth carries added significance.
The spiritual master brings me into the eternal engagement known as dharma. I cannot understand this term while in other births. As a mature human being I have the opportunity to see the distinctions between body and soul, life and death, one hundred years and eternity.
I can learn my true identity and act in a way that matches who I am. This essential characteristic is what defines me, and in the mode of living corresponding to that feature I am truly happy. I will continue to be in bliss after exiting the body. Death will not destroy my way of life; though technically my body will be lifeless.
The spiritual master, the mother, the father, the king – whoever elevates their dependents to the spiritual platform has fulfilled their duty. They have left a lasting impression in an otherwise temporary world. From Vedic literature we consult the many instances of Narada Muni rescuing disciples from hopelessness, despair, and even a life of crime.
The disciples in his line continue the tradition and further extend the impact of the original spiritual master, the adi-guru, Shri Krishna. Those who lead us to Krishna’s lotus feet are blessed in this world, and they can never be properly repaid, though we try on a daily basis through the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
From despair and dread,
To eternal living led.
By that protector now departed,
From that influence first started.
Now known the only way,
Holy names always to say.
But fortunate that contact came,
Surrender to lotus feet to reign.
Categories: spiritual master