Dear Srimati _______________,
Please accept my humble obeisances in remembrance of our Divine Masters.
I have read your email and carefully considered what was written there.
To gain the mercy of Sriman Mahaprabhu, one must get the mercy of Sri Nityananda. We cannot approach Krishna except by the grace of Sri Radha. In the same fashion, it is my firm belief that we must serve under the guidance of Srila Govinda Maharaja if we are to expect the full grace of Srila Sridhara Maharaja. I do not see any other way. Anyone who has a different opinion does not understand what Srila Sridhara Maharaja wanted and expected of us.
To “cultivate bhakti” one must follow the direction of the spiritual master. Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s direction to us was to serve under the direction of Srila Govinda Maharaja. Any other idea lives in some hazy area, like the idea of Srimati Mira Bhai, who shows so much apparent devotion to Krishna, but completely neglects Sri Radha. Our gurus completely rejected this conception. We must also reject it. If we do not reject it, and accept the proper conception, we will live in the fog that exists as a cloud covering real devotion and our progress will be very slow and tedious.
Only by following the order of Sri Guru will we be able to see through the cloud of misconception to the pure Krishna Conception.
Service does not follow behind love. We do not think “First let me love Sri Gurudeva, then I will serve him as he desires.” No. That is not our process. Our process begins with service to Sri Guru. As we give our full energy to the service of Sri Gurudeva, gradually, by His Divine Grace, love will begin to develop. In this way, love follows service.
Srila Prabhupada illustrated this idea with the example of a married couple. When first married, they serve each other. Then, after a period of service, enduring hardships together and resisting the temptations that come to test their commitment, love and attachment develop. In this way, such a strong bond may develop that it extends even into the next life.
All our ideas of love are polluted by selfish interests, false ego and the conditioning wrought by the material environment. Love of God is a meaningless phrase unless it has the backing of unflinching dedication to serving the order of Sri Guru.
Duty is something we can understand. Our duty is to serve the chain of command, beginning with Sri Krishna, then His delegated agent, Sri Guru, then the servants of Sri Guru. As we become more and more dutiful in serving our immediate commander, we will gain the positive recognition and good will of those higher in the chain.
As we progress in Krishna Consciousness, dedication to duty gradually recedes as it is overtaken by the overwhelming spontaneous appeal of serving the Lord and His devotees. This is the position where we see our Gurudeva residing. It is a domain that we see existing always above our heads. Attaining this position is so attractive to the practitioner that he foregoes all self interest to apply himself more and more completely to the duty at hand, ever hopeful that some day Sri Gurudeva, seeing his dedication, will call him to come and assist him in some service there.
Srila Guru Maharaja’s order was clear. After his departure, serve Srila Govinda Maharaja with the same faith and dedication that we held towards him. This is our first duty. Beyond this, I do not know anything.
I am happy to hear from you again after such a long time and hope to hear from you more often in the future.
I pray this finds you well in all respects.
Swami B.K. Giri