Srila Gurudeva, The Guru of Magicians

by Srimati Syamarani dasi

magician.jpg - 32673 Bytes

Devotees all over the world, who are not at Govardhana, are hearing reports about Srila Gurudeva’s present pastime that are stirring their hearts. That is also true for us 1,200 devotees in Govardhana, who are sitting in the temple room, which is in the building adjacent to his own quarters. For a few moments each day at the beginning of class, we watch him on the large screen on the temple wall. Most times, he is lying on his bed, sometimes he is ‘sitting’ (because they have made the bed more upright), sometimes he holds up his hand in blessing, or even waves.

Seeing through the eyes of scriptures, we understand that, like his Master Sri Krsna, sri guru is a master magician. It is not possible that an uttama-adhikari devotee, who is always experiencing the sublime ecstasies of anubhavas, sattvika-bhavas, and vyabhicari bhavas – the transcendental sentiments of the devotee’s meeting and separation from his Master and Mistress Sri Sri Radha and Krsna – can simultaneously feel mundane pain. Rather, he is a magician who operates on our hearts.

One evening of Srila Gurudeva’s 2004 Badger Harikatha Festival, just before he began this lecture, his magician-disciple, Tamala-krsna dasa (Dr T), performed a magic trick in front of the 600 devotees present. He pointed to his shirt, showing us that it had no long sleeves, and he held out his hands to show us that he had nothing between his fingers. He then took a $5 bill from Srila Gurudeva and returned to him a $100 bill. Srila Gurudeva commented, “There is something special that I am giving. I can perform greater magic than that magician. I am Guru of so many magicians. That magician may be able to transfer $5 into $100, but I can transfer it into millions upon millions of dollars.

To help us understand this phenomenon, let us look at Srila Gurudeva’s hari-katha lecture of Jan 13, 2001, given in Auckland, New Zealand: “In Dvaraka, when Lord Sri Krsna was ending His manifest pastimes in this world, He sat at the shore of the ocean. There, it appeared that a hunter shot Him in the foot, and it seemed that He died. Only fools think so.

“Listen to this story, and then tattva (established philosophical truths) will come to you. Once there was a king and queen. One day a family of magicians came to the palace to perform a magic show. The father, his wife, and their two young sons who were nine and ten years old, made a marvelous magic show. The king and queen and the whole audience were very pleased. The queen gave the wife of the magician a wonderful golden necklace as a token of her appreciation, but both her sons wanted it. They each said, “I’ll take it, Mother. No, I’ll take it, Mother.” The boys began to fight over the necklace, pulling it back and forth. They were of equal strength, and neither could win. They finally became so furious that they simultaneously pulled their swords from their sheaths and cut off each other’s heads. Their mother was so grief-stricken that she took her sword and cut off her own head. Then, in total despair, not able to live under the circumstances, the father took his own sword and cut off his own head.

“You can imagine the horror of the king and queen and other spectators. The queen especially was feeling responsible, as she had given the necklace which caused the tragedy. The bodies and heads were taken away, and no one could stop thinking about the very sad affair. The next day, however, the queen received a letter from the father of the magicians. The letter stated, “Thank you very much for the gift that you gave us for our first magic show. Your necklace is with us and we are very happy. But we are waiting for our second gift. Where is the gift for our second show? Don’t worry. We didn’t die. Please come and see us.” The astonished king and queen immediately went to the home of the magician family, where they were warmly welcomed, and they were very happy to see them all alive and well.

“There was another, even greater magician, named Visashekar, who preformed magic shows during the time of the British occupation of India. He was so famous that even the governor, the viceroy, and other chief government ministers would all come to see him.

“Once, in Calcutta, he called all the important government heads to come see his show at four pm. Being very punctual, they all came at exactly four o’clock and sat in the assembly. They waited for Visashekar, expecting him at any moment, for they were all very busy and important people who did not expect to be kept waiting. Five minutes passed, then fifteen, then half an hour. The men became very angry and said to each other, “Just wait until we get a hold of Visashekar. When he comes here we will punish that rascal for making us late for our important appointments.” Finally, at five o’clock, a smiling Visashekar casually walked on stage. The men angrily began chastising him, “Why are you late? Why have you kept us waiting? Don’t you know that we are very busy and important?” Visashekar nonchalantly said, “What is the matter?” They replied, “You told us to come at four o’clock, and we have been waiting for an hour!” Visashekar said, “I am afraid you are mistaken. Look at your watches. It is just now four o’clock.” When they looked, all their watches said four o’clock. They were amazed to realize the magic show they had just witnessed.

“If an ordinary magician can do such things, why not Krsna? He created Brahma and Siva. Surely He cannot die. He only made it appear that He died when the hunter shot Him. It was like a drama. Even Krsna’s devotees cannot die. Bhisma is an example. He could only leave his body when he desired it.”

There is something special that I am giving. I can perform greater magic than that magician. I am Guru of so many magicians. That magician may be able to transfer $5 into $100, but I can transfer it into millions upon millions of dollars.
(Srila Gurudeva, Badger, Calif., May 22, 2004)
With our material eyes and ears, we may see or hear or read that Srila Gurudeva is weak or in pain – and that is his intention, so that we can increase our loving service to him. At the same time, in order to help us perfect our loving service, it is his intention to bring us to proper siddhantic understanding of his identity. We can understand a token of Srila Gurudeva’s powers by the following Harikatha discourse, which he gave in Badger on the same day as the above quote.

“Once, the sages Visvamitra and Vasistha were quarrelling. Visvamitra told Vasistha, ‘You should address me as Brahma-rsi, because I have become an exalted, realized brahmana.’ Vasistha said, ‘I will address you as Rajarsi, a saintly ksatriya, because you have come from a royal family.’ He refused to praise Visvamitra as a Brahma-rsi, because he considered he would become proud, and that pride would not be beneficial for him.

“Visvamitra then boasted that his performance of austerities was a great thing – greater than any other achievement. Vasistha disagreed. He insisted that sadhu-sanga was the greatest achievement.

“They went to Ananta Sesa-naga – the great serpent incarnation of the Lord on whose innumerable hoods millions of universes rest – and presented their situation to him. Visvamitra asked him, ‘Please, you decide if Vasistha is telling the truth, or I am. Am I greater than Vasistha, or is Vasistha greater than me?’

“Lord Ananta replied, ‘This is a very deep and heavy topic. At present, I am carrying the burden of entire universes upon my hoods. O Visvamitra, I am extremely tired. I want to rest one of my hoods. Please take my burden for a moment, and then I will answer. Please arrange that when I remove my hood, the universe will not move from its position. It should remain unwavering and not fall.’ Visvamitra said, ‘Oh, that is a very insignificant task.’ He then gave the fruit of all his performances of yoga and austerities, but he could not take the burden of Ananta for even a moment. As soon as Ananta began to remove his hood, there were severe earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters.

“Ananta then asked Vasistha, ‘Can you take my burden?’ Vasistha replied, ‘I am giving you the result of only half a moment of the sadhu-sanga that I have attained. If I have had any elevated Vaisnava association, then may the universe remain calm and quiet and unwavering.’ Then, although Ananta removed his hood from underneath the universe, it remained calmly in its place, hovering in space without moving.

“Ananta said, ‘Now, Visvamitra, I have given my answer, and you yourself can judge what it is. Vasistha has given only half a moment’s result of sadhu-sanga, and by that I became free from the burden. You could not arrange that for me.’

“So, even a fraction of a second of sadhu-sanga may change your entire life and make you happy forever. This is mahat-sanga.”

If the result of great sadhus’ association produces such a powerful effect, what to speak about the power of the sadhu himself. Srila Gurudeva is not invalid, and he has never had any material disease. He is a heart-wrenching magician with all mystic powers who, out of his beautiful love for his disciples and all living beings, appears to be invalid in order to increase the loving service of the disciples.

“A Vaisnava is always protected by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but if he appears to be an invalid, this gives a chance to his disciples to serve him.”
(Sri Caitanya-Caritamrta Adi-lila 9.11 purport)
In order to help us understand Srila Gurudeva’s present divine pastime, our Parama-gurudeva, Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja is waiting to give us his mercy. In this excerpt of his article called “Remembering Srila Prabhupada,” taken from Rays of The Harmonist (No. 16 Karttika 2006), he takes the position of a conditioned soul, and in this way he teaches us how to see and how not to see, how to think and how not to think.

We want freedom from the danger of seeing Srila Gurudeva as a mortal being, and we want to become one with his heart and his mission. We are fortunate to have the following words of our merciful Parama-gurudeva to guide us:

“The eternal form of the acarya deva is composed of knowledge and bliss, and remains constitutionally unchangeable – just like a dramatic performer [who appears to go through various transformations during his performance, but remains the same unaltered person].

“On the stage of this world, the acaryadeva merely acts out birth, death and so forth, all of which we can perceive using our knowledge-acquiring senses. The birth and death of an ordinary living entity is filled with pain and suffering, but the appearance and disappearance of the spiritual conscious form of the atimartya acarya, who is beyond the control of the material nature, is full of joy.

“To astonish his audience, a magician may use a weapon to execute a person standing before him. An ignorant child cries upon seeing this, but those who know better understand that the killing is merely an illusion and do not lament for the person ‘slain’.

“While the unbearable disappearance pastime of the acarya is like a stage act, an ignorant person like me who does not comprehend this cannot be consoled. Thus, I perceive his disappearance pastime, which is full of joy, to be extremely painful and heart-rending. Thus, while the servants of Sri Guru are feeling true separation, I am lamenting like a sudra.

“I have heard from you [my Godbrothers] all that viraha, separation, enhances the elegance of service; and when anything that stimulates remembrance of one’s object of worship appears on the path of one’s vision, it progressively makes one’s attachment for that object unflinching.

“Separation looks to enhance the highest pleasure of one’s worshipable object. In the state of lamentation, however, the bound jiva becomes bewildered, and thus inactive: his energy and capacity disappear and he becomes afflicted by grief. Due to the absence of service, one cannot see in him any transformation akin to an enhancement of joy. Thus, I – like an ignorant fool, a sudra – have become overwhelmed by lamentation. I am unable to discover any enthusiasm within. ‘Hrsikena hrsikesa-sevanami’ (‘to serve the master of the senses with my senses’) has become a formidable task for me.

[Home Page] vs.gif - 6443 Bytes

Contemporary Disciples Page