by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda
Question 1: What is the nature of the guileless servant of śrī guru?
Answer: Were a servant of śrī guru truly selfless, he would consider śrī guru to be devatātmā – that is, he would consider him to be [non-different from] the Supreme Lord (devata) and the one person truly worthy of his love and affection (dear like his own ātmā). And he would always foster the conception, or belief, that “Śrīla Gurudeva is my eternal master, and I am his eternal servant.” Service to śrī guru would be his very life; it would be his ornament and his existence.
He knows nothing but śrī guru. Under all circumstances – while he is sleeping or dreaming or eating or engaged in bhajana – he is always thinking of śrī gurudeva, taking his guidance and following in his footsteps. He knows that śrī gurudeva, who is very dear to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, is completely independent and is īśvara-vastu – an entity non-different from the Supreme Controller, Śrī Bhagavān.
I pray that whether or not Śrīla Gurudeva accepts my service, as I am unqualified, I shall always remain present to render service exclusively to him by all means – through my mind, body and words. If he rejects me, I shall know that I am unqualified, but Śrīla Gurudeva is truth. So, my sole prayer is this: may temporary sensual pleasures never distract me from serving Śrīla Gurudeva, who is the eternal truth; may they not make me averse to serving him – not even for a second – may Śrīla Gurudeva mercifully accept my service; and may I never fall into bad association and thus be deprived of his association.
Although I am unqualified, my sole recourse is the fact that he is especially compassionate to those who are the most unqualified. Thus, with the hope of receiving his causeless compassion, my greed to engage in his service increases more and more.
Question 2: How can we gain genuine prosperity?
Answer: I only know that by keeping our mind and intelligence inclined towards Śrī Bhagavān and calling out for Him, we can achieve complete welfare. My request is that all of you should do this.
Śrī Bhagavān is the one and only Supreme controller, He who allots all the progress, comforts and discomforts in this world. We are thoroughly dependent on Him and surrendered to Him. Whatever He arranges for us we should accept with humility.
Question 3: Is loudly singing the holy names in the association of other devotees (nāma-saṅkīrtana) the easiest and the topmost means to achieve true spiritual welfare?
Answer: There is no path beyond that. Only those who understand that they have no other responsibility in this world besides nāma-saṅkīrtana are engaged in chanting the holy names. Nāma-saṅkīrtana alone is the path. It is the only path. Apart from this there is no other way to enter the realm of transcendence.
Nāma-saṅkīrtana is the only path to achieve the topmost goal – divine love (prema). There is no second path. This is why it is said in scripture:
harer nāma harer nāma harer nāmaiva kevalam kalau nāsty eva nāsty eva nāsty eva gatir anyathā
There is no other way, no other way, no other way. It is repeated three times.
kalau tu nāma-mātrena pūjyate bhagavān hariḥ
In Kali-yuga, Śrī Hari is worshipped through the chanting of His holy names alone.
Question 4: From whom should we hear sermons about the Supreme Lord Hari (hari-kathā)?
Answer: One should hear – that is, perform śravaṇa of – hari-kathā from śrī gurudeva. Thereafter, for the satisfaction and pleasure of our iṣṭadeva – the Lord about whom we have heard – the message we received from śrī gurudeva should in turn be delivered – kīrtana – to those who are ready to hear it with a submissive and service-oriented mood, but not to those who are unfaithful.
One must hear from śrī gurudeva, not from atheists. If by mistake someone has accepted any non-devotee as guru, he must reject him and again accept the merciful shelter of a Vaiṣṇava guru.
Question 5: What is the means to attain Śrī Bhagavān?
Answer: To render loving service to Śrī Bhagavān is the eternal, constitutional nature of the living entity, or jīva. Everything the jīva chases after in this world is subject to beginning, interim existence and finally destruction. A man meets a fate of suffering instead of experiencing happiness because he accepts that which is unreal as real, and that which is temporary as permanent.
However, when a person becomes intelligent, when he attains wisdom by hearing and seeing, then, in the association of saints, or sādhus, he offers his life in service to Śrī Bhagavān, who is Himself the very basis of immortality and freedom from grief and fear. Service to Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Govinda is the ultimate purpose and eternal perfection (sādhya) of the jīva.
The combined form of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Govinda – Śrī Śrī Gaurasundara – appeared in this world to bestow upon the jīvas the beauty of service to Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Govinda. This mercy is attained only by accepting the shelter of śrī nāma; there is no other means.
Translated by the Rays of The Harmonist team from Śrīla Prabhupādera Upadeśāmṛta