Did you ever instinctively foresee something but did not act on it? Did you ever not follow that inner voice but then it turned out to be true? I believe everyone has had this experience, but what or who is it that is talking to us from within? Ultimately it is Paramatma, the Supersoul, the Lord within our heart who wants to guide us!
Not every intuitive thought is necessarily coming from the Supersoul, but there are certainly some situations in life, some moments where we do get some guidance directly from within. Unfortunately, we are not able to always hear that voice. Therefore, out of His compassion, that same Paramatma appears in front of us in the form of the spiritual master. In this way, we get guidance from within and from without.
Back here in Vrindavana, I was reflecting on this topic during the Tirobhava Festival, the disappearance day of my Guru Maharaja, H.H. Bhakti Svarupa Damodara Swami. While senior devotees and disciples were glorifying Guru Maharaja, I was also asked to share some memories of our Gurudeva. I decided to tell about an incident that had given me a lot of faith in my Guru because it revealed to me how he is residing within my heart. Or in other words, it made me understand that my spiritual master is truly connected to the Supersoul, who resides in the hearts of everyone, including mine…
It was September 2003 when Maharaja visited Zurich and I was fortunate to serve him as his cook. One day I cooked lunch for him and included a Swiss specialty in the menu, called Rösti, which is basically a simple, but tasty potato dish. While preparing it I noticed a thought coming up in my mind saying: „Why don't you put some fresh coriander into the Rösti?!“ An inner dialogue started: „No! Why coriander, this is a Swiss preparation, coriander is an Asian herb, good for curry but has certainly nothing to do with a Rösti!“ So I continued the cooking, but that inner voice came up again and said: „Actually it would be nice if you add some coriander!“ Still, I ignored that voice, after all, before joining the Hare Krishna movement I had been a chef and I knew what I was doing. I had prepared literally thousands of Rösti`s before and never used fresh coriander leaves with it.
After cooking, I personally went up to the VIP Room to serve my Guru the lunch prasad. When I later came to pick up the plate I was happy to see that Guru Maharaja had eaten everything and seemed to be pleased with the prasada I had prepared for him. But then, just before leaving the room, Maharaja made a seemingly casual comment that struck me with wonder. He said with a special smile on his face: „Everything was very nice, just one thing: Next time you prepare this Rösti, just put little fresh coriander leaves in it, that would be very nice!“
Wow! I could not believe it. I immediately said: „Yes Guru Maharaja, I will do that next time!“ and left the room. That inner voice had told me all the time! From then I realized that there is a direct connection between my intuition, that inner voice within me and my spiritual master outside of me!
One may argue, that this is a sentimental conclusion, and it happened just by chance, but not for me! It was such a clear indication and this understanding would become very important for my life, sooner than I thought. Once Sri Guru leaves this world, once Vapu, the physical form of Guru, is no longer available to us anymore, the only thing left for us is the memories of our association with him, the personal instruction he gave us and degree of love and faith we have developed over the years. In other words, when Guru leaves us, we are being forced to go deeper into our relationship with him, otherwise, there is the chance that we might lose our connection to him.
I was very fortunate that my Guru had taught me this lesson before he left this world. This has helped me a lot to stay connected with him after he had physically left. And as beautifully expressed by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur, a Vaishnava actually never leaves:
“He reasons ill who tells that Vaisnavas die, when thou art living still in sound! The Vaisnavas die to live, and living try to spread the holy name around!”
Picture: H.H. Bhakti Svarupa Damodar Maharaja