Śrīla Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj explains the necessity of subservience to Guru–Vaiṣṇava.
translated from the original Bengali text
published in Śrī Gauḍīya Darśan,
Volume 5, Issue 11, Friday, 10 June 1960.
What is bhajan? The service of that which is to be served (bhajanīya-tattva). Even if the conception of ‘that which is to be served’ finds a place in the hearts of men in many different forms, still the revelation of the form of ‘that which is to be served’ in the pure, clean heart is the Lord Himself. The Lord’s fundamental, original form is Nanda Nandan Kṛṣṇa, the Akhila-rasāmṛta-mūrti [the embodiment of the nectar of all rasas] celebrated by the highest section of liberated souls.
anādir ādir govindaḥ sarva-kāraṇa-kāraṇam
This is the conclusion of the Vedas, Vedānta, Gītopaniṣad, and other scriptures. Thus, that which is to be served is none other than Śrī Kṛṣṇa, Power Himself accompanied by His Power (Saśakti-śaktimān). Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s service cannot be performed by a soul with mundane ego. Śrīla Rūpa Goswāmīpād has said,
sevonmukhe hi jihvādau svayam eva sphuraty adaḥ
We can understand from this verse also that Kṛṣṇa’s Name, Form, Qualities, Pastimes, associates, and identity are all supramundane. He only bestows His mercy and reveals Himself to the senses of the soul who is qualified and devoted to His service.
Śrī Gaurasundar also said, “Aprākṛta vastu nahe prākṛta gochara: supramundane existence is not materially perceptible.” A genuine servant of Kṛṣṇa is also supramundane. Furthermore,
sei-kāle kṛṣṇa tāre kare ātma-sama
sei deha kare tāra chid-ānandamaya
aprākṛta-dehe tā̐ra charaṇa bhajaya
In truth, a devotee dedicated to Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s service resides in the supramundane realm and serves Kṛṣṇa with a supramundane body. A soul’s pride in considering Kṛṣṇa’s service mundane is nothing more than self-deception.
Here there is a question. “Māyā-baddha jīvera nāhi Kṛṣṇa-smṛti jñāna: souls bound by māyā have no consciousness of Kṛṣṇa.” So how is it possible for souls to attain such fortune?
Answer: The solution to this problem is the appearance of sādhu, guru, and scripture.
Question: But how will the soul attain them?
Answer: Only by subservience (ānugatya). Yes, subservience is the only way to attain Kṛṣṇa’s service. The inclination to serve Kṛṣṇa will arise in the heart as a result of subservience to a devotee engaged in supramundane service.
The sādhus and scriptures disparage the soul’s freedom in all respects and teach that submission to the Lord is the sole path to be followed. A relationship with the Lord Himself is possible only through the sādhus’ association (satāṁ prasaṅgād). The life of the Vaiṣṇava sādhus is subservience. The activities of their senses are engaged in Kṛṣṇa’s service twenty-four hours a day.
tapana budhāyata āurake dharāyata āpanā raṁ
Thus, as soon as one can make one’s mind and activities like the minds and activities of the sādhus, which are fully established in the soul’s dharma—the dharma of Kṛṣṇa’s service, so soon one will become fulfilled.
Śrī Kṛṣṇa is served by His supramundane servitors through undeviating devotional practice (avyabhichārī bhakti-yoga). Moreover, without subservience to a genuine devotee of Kṛṣṇa, devotion cannot become undeviating (avyabhichārī). Thus, “Lava-mātra sādhu-saṅge sarva-siddhi haya: all perfection is realised within a moment of association with sādhus.” This principle is an eternal truth. In the prayers to our two wish-fulfilling Āchāryas we see:
tattvaṁ tattvavid-uttamau kṣiti-tale yau darśayāñ chakratu
Thus, remaining inattentive or inactive in this regard [in taking shelter of the Vaiṣṇava] is the soul’s one and only misfortune. Kim adhikam iti: what need I say more?
bhavanti hṛt-karṇa-rasāyanāḥ kathāḥ
taj-joṣaṇād āśv apavarga-vartmani
śraddhā ratir bhaktir anukramiṣyati
“One who, without deviation, serves Me exclusively with devotion, transcends the modes of material nature and becomes fit for spiritual perfection.”