(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 26 June 2015, Gita Nagari, USA, Srimad Bhagavatam 3.25.8)
Srila Kavi Karnapura, in his Caitanya Candrodaya Nataka, explains how there are two types of devotional service which are: devotional service with nectar and devotional service without nectar. Many get involved in the latter, in devotional service without nectar. But devotional service is not meant for that, it is meant for svādu svādu pade pade (Srimad Bhagavatam 1.1.19); it is meant for relishing at every step. So this is our challenge and the spiritual master is challenging the disciple.
One thing I learned from Tamal Krsna Maharaj, is that the duty of the spiritual master is to give the disciple a vision of what he can do with his life which is greater than what he would have thought of by himself! We see that Prabhupada did it. We see that Prabhupada would just literally blow the minds of his disciples by having ideas that were like much greater than they ever had.
Prabhupada generated that spirit by his purity, by his dedication, by his learning and by coming down to the level of people. Prabhupada did not, although he was also in his presence worshiped on great vyasasans and so on, Prabhupada did not stay on that platform. Prabhupada came down and lived with people, lived with hippies on the Lower East Side, stayed with them and gave so much personal attention so that people began to feel indebted. That is the only thing a spiritual master can do!
If it was so easy, just give some transcendental knowledge and the job is done, people will say, “Yeah, very nice.” But then how will they give their life? So Prabhupada pushed. He pushed. Prabhupada was very demanding. He would push devotees, push them to do things that were very difficult. Great struggle! Prabhupada wanted all these impossible tasks and because he was the spiritual master of the entire movement at that time, the whole movement just had to do what he said. His word was absolute for all.
Now, you know, it is different. Now we have so many spiritual masters and now in some temples, especially bigger temples more than one guru visits and each time, there are different people who come. When there is a certain guru coming, some people come out of the woodwork, otherwise, you do not see them so much. But when the guru is there, they all come and are around him.
When the next guru comes, again a whole new assembly is there. Otherwise, usually there are more deities than devotees in the temple. Maybe that is a little cynical from my side to say that but you know, you get the idea…
So, in that way, nowadays it is easier to sort of escape. There is more leeway for the mind to take advantage and to avoid the order on the head, that order of the spiritual master which is meant to be the jewel on the head, the jewel that the devotee carries on his head. The chudamani is the order of the spiritual master and whatever he wants, that we must do!