(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 26 June 2015, Gita Nagari, USA, Srimad Bhagavatam 3.25.8)
When our real focus is blocked, we become self-centered, thinking all the time about ourselves – my spiritual life, my advancement, my needs… and this is a problem. The spiritual master is rather the opposite of that. To be a spiritual master, is in one way, a thankless task – it is not as much fun as it looks.
For example – garlands! They are itchy, smelly and work on your sinuses. They are also sweaty and they make stains on your clothes. Oftentimes, they are full of insects that creep down your neck and back, either worms, ants or other varieties of bugs. Then when devotees really get fired up, they hang lots of garlands on someone’s neck, so it gets really heavy. Then there are garlands which are not strung very tight and as they are hanging around your neck, the flowers are going down and then that string cuts into your neck and after a while you are wondering, ”What’s that in my neck!?” Then you realize, “Okay, it’s the garland!” And that is only garlands, you know! What to speak of all the other things? So, the life of a spiritual master is a life of sacrifices, it is a life of selflessness and it is a life of giving all one’s energy to others – all for the welfare of others.
We are here now, at the very beginning of the disappearance festival of His Holiness Bhakti Tirtha Maharaj and that is exactly what he has showed – tireless selflessness. My connection with Maharaj was maybe the most in South Africa, then in Mayapur over the years and sometimes here in the USA, but I never saw him relaxing actually. I cannot remember that he ever relaxed. From what I saw, he was always on the go, always tirelessly working, working very hard – always. Even earlier as Ghanasyam, he was working very hard – sleeping less, eating less, chanting more and preaching more than anybody else. And when there was a lack of leadership, he was ready to step in and be that energy to inspire others.
So that selflessness is the quality of the spiritual master and that is the one quality that Srila Prabhupada wanted everyone to have because Prabhupada said he wanted all of his disciples to be spiritual masters and that actually translates into becoming selfless.