How does Prabhuji view the different paths of yoga such as bhakti, karma, jñāna, rāja, tantra, karma, kuṇḍalinī, and so on?
Prabhuji accepts all the different yogic modalities as integral paths of Retroprogressive Yoga. If we wish to prepare a delicious meal, we will need the correct ingredients and the recipe explaining the preparation process. Time and interest are also required to carry out the task successfully. In the same way, Retroprogressive Yoga combines the different yogic modalities in an integral way. Sadhakas, or “aspirants,” should receive from their master the appropriate combination according to their particular situation.
What is the need for a temple like the Śrī Śrī Radha-Śyāmasundara Mandir in the Avadhutashram?
A temple constitutes a place where human beings gather with a selfless spirit and devotional attitude to worship God. It is the proper place for the practice of bhakti-yoga. It is a place capable of elevating us to the recognition of consciousness. Seeing the deities, praying, and leaving a donation are pious acts traditionally done when visiting a temple. A true mandir is not only a religious site, but also a spiritual one. There are many schools, colleges, institutes, universities, and educational institutions. However, temples are not only capable of informing us, but also of transforming us.
If Prabhuji is retired from public life, why do you publish his picture, make a site for him on the internet, and so on?
Prabhuji is our master and the founder of the mission. The tradition of the Sanātana-dharma religion advises the glorification of the guru by his disciples. As mentioned Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura:
yasya prasādād bhagavat-prasādo
yasyāprasādān na gatiḥ kuto ’pi
dhyāyan stuvaṁs tasya yaśas tri-sandhyaṁ
vande guroḥ śrī-caraṇāravindam
“By the mercy of the spiritual master one receives the benediction of Kṛṣṇa. Without the grace of the spiritual master, one cannot make any advancement. Therefore, I should always remember and praise the spiritual master. At least three times a day I should offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of my guru.” (Śrī Śrī Gurvaṣṭaka, 8)
By glorifying our master, we are just following our millennia-old tradition. The Śrīmad-bhāgavatam says:
rahūgaṇaitat tapasā na yāti
na cejyayā nirvapaṇād gṛhād vā
na cchandasā naiva jalāgni-sūryair
“My dear King Rahūgaṇa, unless one has the opportunity to smear his entire body with the dust of the lotus feet of great devotees, one cannot realize the Absolute Truth. One cannot realize the Absolute Truth simply by observing celibacy (brahmacarya), strictly following the rules and regulations of householder life, leaving home as a vānaprastha, accepting sannyāsa, or undergoing severe penances in winter by keeping oneself submerged in water or surrounding oneself in summer by fire and the scorching heat of the sun. There are many other processes to understand the Absolute Truth, but the Absolute Truth is only revealed to one who has attained the mercy of a great devotee.” (Śrīmad-bhāgavatam, 5.12.12)
Service, or “seva,” to the guru is one of the core principles of Hinduism. Prabhuji Mission, being a traditional Hindu church, practices the millennia-old tradition of guru-seva, or “service to the master.”
Throughout the Śrutis, Smṛtis, and Purāṇas, the disciple’s service to the guru is glorified.
तद्विद्धि प्रणिपातेन परिप्रश्नेन सेवया ।
उपदेक्ष्यन्ति ते ज्ञानं ज्ञानिनस्तत्त्वदर्शिनः ॥ ३४ ॥
tad viddhi praṇipātena
upadekṣyanti te jñānaṃ
“Know that by long prostration, by question, and service, the wise who have realized the Truth will instruct you in (that) knowledge.” (Bhagavad Gita, 4.34)
Kṛṣṇa states in the Bhagavad Gita that the two conditions for being instructed by a master are to inquire from the guru and to serve the guru. Within the path of Sanātana-dharma, service to the guru (guru-seva) is considered one of the most effective means of eliminating our anarthas (constitutional self-identity and other unwanted habits and thoughts). Service to the guru dispels ignorance. By the mercy of the master, Brahma-vidyā, o “wisdom,” is awakened in the heart of the disciple.
Kṛṣṇa confirms to Sridama that other aspects of devotion are unnecessary for disciples who serve their guru with devotion:
नाहमिज्याप्रजातिभ्यां तपसोपशमेन वा ।
तुष्येयं सर्वभूतात्मा गुरुशुश्रूषया यथा ॥ ३४ ॥
“I, the Immanent Self within all living beings, am not as pleased by sacrifices, nor by exalted birth, nor by penances, nor by tranquility of mind, as I am by the service rendered to a guru by his disciple.” (Bhāgavata Purāṇa, 10.80.34)
In his commentary on this verse, Śrīdhara Svāmī writes: “There is no one more worthy of service than a guru who bestows transcendental wisdom. This has already been said. Therefore, there is no greater religious duty (dharma) than to render service unto the guru. The present verse is meant to clarify this point. The word ijyā, or “Vedic sacrifice,” refers to the duties of a householder (gṛhastha–dharma). The word prajātiḥ, “exalted birth,” refers to the elevated birth in which one is initiated into the study of the Vedas by accepting the sacred thread (upanayana). This is a reference to the duties of a celibate disciple (brahmacāri-dharma). Since these two (ijyā and prajāti) appear in a compound, the instrumental case ending applies to both, that is, “by these two” (tābhyām). The word tapasā, “by means of penance,” signifies “by means of the duties of one who has retired to the forest’ (vanastha-dharma), and upaśamena, “by means of tranquility of mind,” signifies “by means of the duties of an ascetic” (yati-dharma). [Kṛṣṇa declares:] “I, Parameśvara, although [impartially] situated as the Supreme Being within all sentient beings, am not so pleased with all these practices as I am with service rendered to one’s guru.”
नष्टप्रायेष्वभद्रेषु नित्यं भागवतसेवया ।
भगवत्युत्तमश्लोके भक्तिर्भवति नैष्ठिकी ॥ १८ ॥
bhaktir bhavati naiṣṭhikī
“By regular attendance in classes on the Bhāgavatam and by rendering of service to the pure devotee, all that is troublesome to the heart is almost completely destroyed, and loving service unto God, who is praised with transcendental songs, is established as an irrevocable fact.” (Bhāgavata Purāṇa, 1.2.18)
God bestows wisdom upon the human being through His aspect of Gurudeva. It is through the instrument of the guru that Kṛṣṇa protects his devotees. Those who live in the grace of the guru are not in Kali yuga, because the master maintains a flow of Satya Yuga in this present iron age. The master’s guidance leads us to transcend saṁsāra.
The Retroprogressive Path is a continuous revelation that eternally broadens and deepens. It is an ontology of consciousness that we find at the core of the teachings of every religion and spiritual path. It is the discovery of diversity as a unique and inclusive reality. It is the encounter of consciousness with itself, aware of itself and its own reality. In fact, this path is a simple invitation to dance in the now, to love the present moment, and to celebrate our authenticity. It is an unconditional proposal to stop living as a victim of circumstance and to live as a passionate adventurer. It is a call to return to the place we have never left, without offering us anything we do not already possess or teaching us anything we do not already know. It is a call for an inner revolution and to enter the fire of life that only consumes dreams, illusions, and fantasies but does not touch what we are. It does not help us reach our desired goal, but instead it prepares us for the unexpected miracle.
This path was nurtured over a lifetime dedicated to the search for Truth. It is a grateful offering to existence for what I have received. But remember, do not look for me. Look for yourself. It is not me you need, because you are the only one who really matters. This life is just a wonderful parenthesis in eternity to allow knowing and loving. What you long for lies in you, here and now, as what you really are.
Your unconditional well-wisher,