The pastime between Lord Caitanya and Ramachandra Puri is very instructive to understand the concept of pleasing the spiritual master. Madhavendra Puri had two disciples – Isvara Puri and Ramachandra Puri. Isvara Puri served and satisfied his spiritual master so wonderfully that he received the benediction from Madhavendra Puri that he would be a great devotee and lover of Krsna. And this is no ordinary benediction. Isvara Puri became the spiritual master of none other than the Supreme Personality Himself – Lord Caitanya. Could there be a better benediction than this?
On the other hand Ramachandra Puri, due to his offense to his spiritual master, received such a rebuke and rejection from Madhavendra Puri that became a dry speculator and a critic of everyone else. So much so that he started to find faults with Lord Caitanya. But Lord Caitanya is so merciful that He did not consider Ramacandra Puri’s offenses. Rather He treated him like his spiritual master. The Lord took Ramacandra Puri’s criticism of His eating habits as an instruction to control His eating. And the Lord duly complied.
CC Antya 8.99-100 — If one’s spiritual master rejects him, one becomes so fallen that he, like Rāmacandra Purī, commits offenses even to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu did not consider the offenses of Rāmacandra Purī, for the Lord considered him His spiritual master. However, his character instructed everyone about the result of offending the spiritual master.
I do not have an initiating spiritual master yet. I hope Lord Caitanya blesses me with one soon. Therefore I hardly have any realizations about serving my diksa-guru and pleasing him. But I will equate pleasing both instructing and initiating spiritual masters on the same level. We must note that we can serve our spirituals masters in two aspects – vapu and vani. Vapu means rendering physical service to the spiritual master. Vani means following the instructions of the spiritual master. Srila Prabhupada could not serve his spiritual master Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur personally. But he served him in words and spirit. This shows that vani is more important then vapu. This is a very important concept to understand.
“Just follow his order. Spiritual master is along with you by his words. Just like my spiritual master is not physically present, but I am associating with him by his words.” (Srila Prabhupada lecture on SB 1.1.2)
All the scriptures recommend that it is by pleasing the spiritual master and serving him directly that one can attain the highest perfectional stage of devotional service.
SB 4.28.34 Purport: Yasya prasādād bhagavat-prasādaḥ. A disciple should always remember that by serving the spiritual master he can easily advance in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. All the scriptures recommend that it is by pleasing the spiritual master and serving him directly that one can attain the highest perfectional stage of devotional service.
By satisfying the spiritual master, one automatically satisfies Kṛṣṇa. Thus the devotee becomes enriched by both the spiritual master and Kṛṣṇa. In CC Madhya 19.151, Lord Caitanya says guru-kṛṣṇa-prasāde pāya bhakti-latā-bīja. One must first please the spiritual master, and then one automatically pleases Kṛṣṇa and gets the strength with which to cross the ocean of nescience. If one seriously desires to return home, back to Godhead, one must therefore become strong enough by pleasing the spiritual master, for thus one gets the weapon with which to conquer the enemy, and one also gets the grace of Kṛṣṇa.
Narada Bhakti Sutra 8, Purport: By the divine grace of the spiritual master, the seed of pure devotional service, which is completely different from the seed of fruitive activities and speculative knowledge, is sown in the heart of the devotee. Then, when the devotee satisfies the spiritual master and Kṛṣṇa, this seed of devotional service grows into a plant that gradually reaches up to the spiritual world. An ordinary plant requires shelter for growing. Similarly, the devotional plant grows and grows until it takes shelter in the spiritual world, without taking shelter on any planet in the material world. In other words, those who are captivated by pure devotional service have no desire to elevate themselves to any material planet. The highest planet in the spiritual world is Kṛṣṇa-loka, or Goloka Vṛndāvana, and there the devotional plant takes shelter.
The essential principle of pleasing the spiritual master is to follow his instructions closely. Srila Prabhupada has instructed us to chant sixteen rounds of Hare Krsna mahamantra, and follow the four regulative principles. We must first do that sincerely. His next instruction to us is to read his books regularly. I personally read his books every day. Besides the CC study, I read Srimad Bhagavatam every day at least for 30 minutes. I do not understand or remember everything that I read. But I hope that at least my endeavor and determination to read his books on a daily basis pleases Srila Prabhupada.
This lesson (on Ramacandra Puri criticizing the Lord) should be remembered by us always. It teaches us the basic and most fundamental concept of pleasing the spiritual master, and the risks of displeasing him.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada!