“Even while engaged in various activities, devotees whose minds are completely absorbed at Your lotus feet, and who constantly hear, chant, contemplate and cause others to remember Your transcendental names and forms, are always on the transcendental platform, and thus they can understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.2.37)
शृण्वन् गृणन् संस्मरयंश्च चिन्तयन्
नामानि रूपाणि च मङ्गलानि ते ।
राविष्टचेता न भवाय कल्पते ॥
śṛṇvan gṛṇan saṁsmarayaṁś ca cintayan
nāmāni rūpāṇi ca maṅgalāni te
kriyāsu yas tvac-caraṇāravindayor
āviṣṭa-cetā na bhavāya kalpate
Vyasa Puja is the worship ceremony dedicated towards the spiritual master, who is the representative of Vyasadeva. We celebrate the day which marks the appearance in this world of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who exemplifies pure devotion to God through thoughts, words, and deeds.
The glories of the spiritual master are endless. Their association, either through physical presence or by the impression they have left in the world, is like turning on the light in a dark room. It is finally learning of our true identity, after failing to do so through many stages in the journey through life.
The spiritual master understands the Supreme Personality of Godhead because they are always on the transcendental platform. This is the verdict of the demigods in their prayers to the womb of Devaki. This was during the advent of Hari as Shri Krishna in this world.
The guru stays on the transcendental platform through various activities. They do this both for self-purification and for leading the way. Such persons who lead by example are known as acharya. They provide practical guidance in how to escape the cycle of birth and death, in how to be free from illusion and be always absorbed in remembrance of the all-attractive one.
1. Constantly hear
This is known as shravanam in Sanskrit. It is the easiest process by which to make advancement. Simply sit down for a little time and hear. Everyone is accustomed to such hearing from the very beginning of life. The child listens to the parents. The student listens to the teacher. The husband accepts constructive criticism from the wife, and so on.
The guru hears attentively from their own spiritual master. They respect the tradition of parampara. They keep the chain going, to make sure that the knowledge-transfer reinstated by Krishna to Arjuna remains moving forward, to rescue countless generations.
स एवायं मया ते ऽद्य
योगः प्रोक्तः पुरातनः
भक्तो ऽसि मे सखा चेति
रहस्यं ह्य् एतद् उत्तमम्
sa evāyaṁ mayā te ‘dya
yogaḥ proktaḥ purātanaḥ
bhakto ‘si me sakhā ceti
rahasyaṁ hy etad uttamam
“That very ancient science of the relationship with the Supreme is today told by Me to you because you are My devotee as well as My friend; therefore you can understand the transcendental mystery of this science.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.3)
2. Constantly chant
This is known as kirtanam in Sanskrit. We typically associate kirtanam with systematically chanting the holy names, such as within the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
The guru might chant both softly in japa and loudly in sankirtana. They take the holy name to be everything. They understand that the holy name is the transcendental sound representation of the Absolute Truth.
The guru might also practice kirtanama through describing. They speak endlessly about the transcendental qualities, gunas, of the one who is both nirguna and saguna. They produce volumes of literature and establish a system of propagation for the purpose of breaking through barriers of language, dogmatic insistence, and resistance through ignorance.
3. Constantly contemplate
The guru is always in bliss, ananda, because they are always contemplating the glories of the prananatha of Shrimati Radharani. They cannot fathom any person being so kind, so as to extend mercy in a steady flow, sourced in a reservoir as large as an ocean.
“A juggler, a magician or one who speaks nonsense as an academic career is not a guru. Rather, a guru is one who presents Bhagavad-gita, Krishna’s instructions, as it is. Shravana is very important; one must hear from the Vaishnava sadhu, guru and shastra.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.2.37 Purport)
4. Constantly cause others to remember Krishna’s names and forms
I can save myself through shravanam, kirtanam, and smaranam. Remembering is enough to escape the cycle of birth and death. Through remembrance at the critical moment of quitting the body I can win the rare achievement of liberation.
अन्त-काले च माम् एव
स्मरन् मुक्त्वा कलेवरम्
यः प्रयाति स मद्-भावं
याति नास्त्य् अत्र संशयः
anta-kāle ca mām eva
smaran muktvā kalevaram
yaḥ prayāti sa mad-bhāvaṁ
yāti nāsty atra saṁśayaḥ
“And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.5)
The guru is so kind that they help others to remember. They make this their life mission. They are not content with saving themselves. They understand that God the person is the best friend to every living being. People simply have to remember, and for this purpose there is the guru, whose glories know no end.
Infinitely to extend,
Of glories without end.
Guru to this world came,
To celebrate holy name.
And for others to inspire,
An awakening to require.
That remember Krishna forever,
And take birth again never.