For the soul, which is eternally anxious to engage in the Lord’s service, He manifests through energy, through a principle by which He engages all living beings in His loving service and this is called guru tattva,writes Radhanath Swami
Lord Krishna, in His supreme abode of Gokula, has nothing to do with creation of material existences; it is through His various expansions and incarnations that all this work of His is done. The original personality of Godhead is Rasabihari. He only has one business — to engage in loving pastimes with His devotees. But we should know that all devotees of Krishna are all expansions of Himself. There is the Vishnu tattva. Those expansions which are directly and personally Krishna Himself, who assumes various forms in various places. For instance, Narayan and all of the various avatars, the lila avatars, they are Krishna who have expanded as the same person revealing various attributes and opulences of the supreme personality.
And then there is shakti-tattva. Srimati Radharani, in the world of Vraj bhumi, she is not different than Krishna. There is no difference between Radha and Krishna the one personality has expanded into two forms for the sake of intimate loving exchanges. She is the supreme enjoyer just like Sri Krishna who is also the supreme enjoyer. But how can you enjoy if you have nothing to enjoy? So, Srimati Radhika is the supreme absolute truth who has appeared to fulfill His every desire in the form of His pleasure potency. And there is also the tatastha shakti or jiva tatva, the infinite part and parcels of Krishna who are eternally subordinate to Krishna and have free choice, independence to either surrender in love to Krishna or to rebel against Krishna. Now this jiva tattva is always subordinate.
But we have the choice of being subordinate to either Krishna’s superior spiritual energy or His inferior material energy which is conducted by the three modes of material nature. We are all servants of Krishna. If we serve Him directly, then we can achieve eternal bliss, eternal knowledge and awareness of our eternal existence. But if we serve Him indirectly by serving His maya shakti, His external energy then we become covered of our true identity and we have to suffer the three fold miseries of material existence, miseries caused by one’s own body and mind, miseries caused by other living beings and miseries caused by natural disturbances, higher powers. And we are subjected to the repetition of birth and death and all of the sorrows that pertain to that. So, for the jiva (soul) as well as for liberated soul who are eternally anxious to engage in the Lord’s service, the Lord manifests through energy, through a principle by which He engages all living beings in His loving service and this is called guru tattva.
It is been explained by great Acharyas that the conditioned jivas in this world that point Krishna in the spiritual world embraces the jiva of this world, that is called guru tattva. That is guru. Guru is that place of our meeting with Krishna. And that guru Tattva is categorised by previous Acharyas as either Vishnu tattva or jiva tattva. It is in its own unique category. A jiva soul who is an inspired devotee surrendering his life to the previous acharyas, that soul by the arrangement of previous acharyas may be endowed with guru tattva, which is actually Krishna Himself, spreading His mercy and reveling Himself.
Krishna’s original expansion is Lord Balaram and He is the guru tattva because in the spiritual world He is making all arrangements for all of the eternal souls to engage in the loving service of Lord. The abode of Vrindavan is the expansion of Balaram and everything in Vrindavan is ultimately working under His instruction. So, therefore, all the liberated eternal associates of the Lord in the spiritual world can only approach Krishna through the grace of Balaram or Srimati Radharani, depending on the particular rasa, and their associates. So it is Balaram, who in the spiritual world, is facilitating devotion for all beings to Radha and Krishna. That is guru-tattva. And in this material world it is Lord Balaram Himself in this form of guru tattva that empowers the spiritual master to engage us in the loving service to God and to reveal Krishna to us.
Sometimes we hear that there is only one guru, jagad guru or Krishna, specifically revealing Himself through Balaram and in this way all gurus...true gurus, bonafide gurus... are simply empowered representatives of that tattva, the original guru.
Balaram appeared in Ram’s lila as Lakshman and in Gauranga Mahaprabhu’s lila as Nityananda Prabhu, the original Guru. It is widely believed those who are associated with the Guru or represent the Guru, they are Guru’s Guru and they must be offered the same kind of respect that is generally given to the Guru. However, if you offend the representative of Guru, then you offend the Guru himself. Also, if you offend the Guru, you eventually offend Shri Balaram and Shri Krishna.
As Kaviraj Gosvami explained “You cannot have faith in Lord Chaitanya without Nityananda. You cannot approach Mahaprabhu without Guru and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has personally proclaimed this.” In the Chaitanya Bhagvat, He explains that “anyone who offends Lord Nityananda is condemned by me.” Mahaprabhu said “without approaching Nityananda, without approaching guru tattva, His representatives, no one can approach me.”
We should know that if we are strongly connected with faith and devotion to Balaram with guru tattva through our spiritual master then all of the powers of Maya and all of the demoniac influences can pound upon us, but we will remain unshaken. After all, in His mere expansion as ananta shesha, He is holding all the universes like little jewels on His hood.
The author is spiritual leader of ISKCON