Found in Sanga, Sanga 1999.

Q. When we worship a guru we worship the Lord’s potency existing in the jiva-tattva. What kind of expansion of the Lord is this guru potency?

A. At first we shall see Sri Guru as saksad-hari, representing Krishna in general and in this sense non-different from him. Only after some time as we advance will we begin to see him as representing a particular potency of Krishna, and this will be relative to one’s developing innate serving tendency. Different disciples may see the same guru as representing different potencies. One may see him representing Subala, another Sri Radha, etc.

Just as a U.S. senator while coming from a particular state and representing it also represents the entire country when he becomes President. In the same way, when the Vaisnava serves as Sri Gurudeva, while he has his own particular sentiment, he represents the others as well for those whose nature it is to serve in other capacities. Therefore, Krishna says of Sri Gurudeva, acaryam mam vijaniyat, “He represents the whole of the Absolute.” And at the same time, kintu prabhor ya priya eva tasya, he is vrajendranandana-prestha—dear to Vrajendra-nandana Sri Krishna.

Our sampradaya is primarily a madhurya lineage.This means that it represents the full face of rasa, as all sentiments are found within madhurya. However, madhurya is not an independent affair. As all rasas are within it, it is composed to some extent of all of them. Without the other rasas madhurya has no independent standing. The parakiya of madhura-rasa requires the clash of vatsalya and the support of sakhya, etc. for it to flourish. All are present where madhurya is the primary representation, and thus Mahaprabhu’s sampradaya facilitates all in vraja-prema.

While most of the acaryas in our sampradaya are themselves from the province of madhurya, there are exceptions, and those that find their beatitude and finality in madhurya also represent the entire country of love as Sri Gurudeva. We are the Rupanuga sampradaya, followers of Rupa manjari and Rupa Goswami. As Rupa Goswami our founder represented all of the divine sentiments in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu. In Ujjvala-nilamani he revealed his own heart, that of Rupa manjari.

Q. When will my troubles end?

A. When you take the necessary steps to end all troubles. It is not very useful to question as to the end of suffering when we do not avail ourselves seriously of the spiritual solution to all material problems. Indeed, anyone who seriously applies themselves in spiritual practice under good guidance will know that they are approaching the end of all suffering rapidly. The distance we must go to find good guidance, however, is much greater than the distance we must travel from that point onward to perfection. Then again, seek and you will find, and take courage from Krishna’s words in Bhagavad-gita, “Anyone who is sincere, dear one, walks not the road of misfortune.” (Bg. 6.40)

Q. What is the difference between Goloka and Vraja Dhama?

A. There are many divisions of Goloka. The basic three are Dvaraka, Mathura, and Vrindavana. Vraja refers to the Vrindavana-lila. Navadvipa is also there within Vrindavana in the sense that the most intimate union of Radha-Krishna is Mahaprabhu, and Vrindavana is within Navadvipa in the sense that service to Navadvipa in dasya-bhakti begets vraja-prema.

Q. You once said that sometimes poetic descriptions are used in the Bhagavatam. For example, a man with a thousand arms may be a poetic way of describing a big person. How then should we approach the sacred literatures: literally or symbolically?

A. How can a book of poetry be without this? We should try to find the philosophical message in each episode of the Bhagavata first. Later we may live in the poetic Bhagavata world. For preaching it is important to focus on the tattva of the treatise. If people are not able to fathom descriptions of persons with ten heads, and so on, we should not be concerned as much about convincing them of this as we are about other philosophical issues like sense control, the primacy of consciousness, etc.

Of course when we stress the imperfection of the senses, this does open the door to many possibilities. As a general rule for ourselves we should follow the same principle. We can take the man with a thousand arms to be very strong and learn the lesson that the episode seeks to convey. At the same time one has to think that the poet sees that which he describes, for he lives in that conceptual world. So there are persons with a thousand arms and there are very strong ones as well.

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