by His Divine Grace
Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj
Founder President Acharya of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, Sri Dham Nabadwip
This Nabadwip Dham, on the banks of the Ganges, has such great value, especially for the realisation of our highest self, as recommended by Sriman Mahaprabhu. It is the land of love, sweetness, charm, and beauty—all are synonymous. It is heart-capturing. Our real existence is neither in our knowledge nor our power, but in our heart. Really, our proper identification is with our heart. So, in which direction our heart is moving, that is the all-important factor in our life. It is a heart transaction.
Mahaprabhu recommended: “Don’t rely on your knowledge, reasoning capacity, or power, but the heart transaction is all-important in you. The inner factor of your existence is in your heart. So try to guide your heart towards sweetness—towards home. And your real home is not here where we are wandering around with no certainty throughout eight million four hundred thousand species according to our karma. But only in the human birth, with the help of the divine agent, can we go back to our home: to home and affection.”
Home is there, where the environment will take care of us, our fortune, and our comfort, independent of our consideration. The affectionate paraphernalia there will help us very affectionately and lovingly. So we should make good use of this opportunity to go back to God, back to home, our sweet, sweet home.
Mahaprabhu recommended the path: “With the help of the divine agent and the revealed scriptures, try to go there yourself. Your present position is uncertain. After death it is not fixed where you will be carried by the current of your previous karma, therefore try to utilise for the best whatever time is available before your death. You have free will, therefore those days before your death are to some degree in your hand to use, so that time you must utilise with the utmost care for God realisation.” There is nothing so important as this for all of us.
The advice in common for us all is: “Give up all your duties and jump into the one duty, to go back home. There, everything is full and complete, and everyone will look after your real interest. So you must go there: back to God, back to home.” And Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came here only for the purpose of telling us this: yare dekha, tare kaha ‘Krsna’ upadesa, “Whoever you meet, talk to him about Krishna, and both parties—the hearer and the speaker—will be benefitted. By this cultivation of Krishna consciousness, both parties will be benefitted permanently.” So, only in Krishna consciousness will our time and energy be best utilised.
Other things are superficial, but the serving spirit is the deepest part within us. That is the deepest transaction: a transaction with the environment in the deepest plane. And that serving spirit is divided into two. In the lower position it has some calculation, such as: “I must do this, I must not do that; for I need to attain so many things.” But in the highest section, there is no calculation based on any selfish transaction. There the sacrifice is so great and so complete—so perfect—and the servitors have such deep connection with the Absolute that they do not care for themselves in the least. Through love and sacrifice they come to have such a deep connection. Their transaction with the Absolute is all-affection, all-loving.
Mahaprabhu Himself is the Absolute. He came as an Acharya to preach about the highest destination of the jiva. He disclosed that the highest attainment is the greatest sacrifice: we must ‘Die to live’. Our ego—our entire egoistic individuality—must die a wholesale death, and then we will find we are in such a place: in the family of God, the family of the Absolute. We shall be amongst our family members, and they are not guided by any law, but only by affection and love. Our highest fulfilment of life is achieved neither through attaining knowledge nor power, but through affection and love. No science and no power can achieve that.
At present science is serving power. So many scholars are investigating and discovering so many things, but that scientific research is really subservient to power because it is trying to compete for the domination of this lower world of selfish sense satisfaction. But the fulfilment of our heart’s satisfaction is in the Krishna conception of the Absolute. He is the Lord of love, beauty, ecstasy and happiness. That is the innermost necessity of us all. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, “Go straight to Vrndavan by this special train. Don’t try to break your journey anywhere, for that will only be a loss of time and energy.” In addition He said, “Whoever you find, give them Krishna consciousness. It is just as in a famine-stricken country, whoever you will find you will give some food to save him, but this is a hundred times more urgent—so you are to inject Krishna consciousness. Tell them, “A loving Lord is above your head seeing everything. You only have to connect with Him and His servants. His servants are very, very kind and magnanimous. Somehow get some connection with them, and try to go to your home. Here, nowhere is home. Your home is only there.”
For example, a madman may be wandering here and there, but if he is cured of his madness, he will go straight from the street to his home. He won’t continue to wander in the street endlessly like a vagabond but he will go straight home to both satisfy himself and also to satisfy his near and dear ones, his guardians.
So, whoever you come in contact with, Mahaprabhu advises, “Yare dekha, tare kaha ‘Krsna’ upadesa: whoever you find, you will have no other duty than to inject them with Krishna consciousness. That Krishna consciousness will not only save everybody from all troubles but it will also give them their highest fulfilment of life. Take that up and do such service with all seriousness and earnestness.”
Nityananda Prabhu is the most magnanimous among the group who recruits. He is the head, the leader of all the generous recruiters, the most generous recruiting officer. We must try to have His mercy. A single drop of Nityananda Prabhu’s mercy can help us wonderfully. Nityananda Prabhu wanted to distribute Sri Gauranga to one and all. He approached every door, begging each person, “Take the Name of Gauranga! Take the Name of Gauranga! I shall be eternally indebted to you. If you only take the Name of Gauranga once I shall be your slave—your eternal slave!” Appealing in such a way He would begin to cry and He would fall down and roll on their doorsteps.
When Mahaprabhu took His permanent seat in Jagannath Puri He sent Nityananda Prabhu to preach: “I give You Gauda Des [Bengal]. Without You, Nityananda, no one will be able to help them. Look after them. I give you this role. Go to Bengal to help them, to deliver them and give them the fulfilment of life.”
Nityananda Prabhu took up that responsibility, and here in Nabadwip Dham we are under His guidance. Nityananda Prabhu is the leader of those preaching about Gauranga; and for one who receives the grace of Gauranga, automatically the Radha-Govinda-lila, the Vrndavan-lila, is his.
yatha yatha gaura-padaravinde
vindeta bhaktim krta punya-rasih
tatha tathotsarpati hrdy akasmat
radha padambhoja sudhamburasih
Unknowingly, that lila will come within your heart. Your attitude cent per cent will be to understand Gauranga and you will find yourself to be automatically in Vrndavan—Radha-padambhoja-sudhamburasih, you have become a member in the camp of Radharani, the place of madhura-lila.
When madhura is being distributed to the ordinary public, it is called audarya-lila, and that is the highest. When nectar is being distributed, that nectar is more sweet. Nectar is sweet and gives the highest fulfilment, but when it is being distributed, it becomes greater, more generous, and more rare.
First part of an interview with His Divine Grace
Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj
Sevaite-President-Acharya of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math
Question: Now is the Golden Jubilee, the 50th anniversary of the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, Nabadwip. Please explain something of the early days here at the Math and in particular, why Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math is considered to be such a special place.
Srila Govinda Maharaj: After the disappearance of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Prabhupad, the Mission begun by him—Gaudiya Math—started to go in an unexpected way. Therefore many of the prominent personalities left. When Srila Guru Maharaj came out from the Gaudiya Math, about fifty per cent of the senior devotees also left. Everyone in the Mission had much respect for Srila Guru Maharaj. Therefore when he left, they also left. Some of the devotees who withdrew from the Gaudiya Math at that time were: Hayagriva Brahmachari [Madhav Maharaj as he was previously known]; Goswami Maharaj, who was in charge of preaching in the West; Kesav Maharaj, who then was Vinod Bihari Brahmachari, the estate manager in charge of commanding Srila Prabhupad’s central Math, Chaitanya Math in Mayapur; Narahari Prabhu, the advisory manager of Chaitanya Math; Narasimha Maharaj; Jajavar Maharaj; Vaikhanas Maharaj, as well as many others.
Most of the stalwarts left the Mission. Only three stayed: Nisikanta Sannyal; Bhakti Sudhakar Prabhu, he was a man of great personality; and Sundarananda Vidya Vinod, the editor and publisher of the Gaudiya magazine as well as of many of the books of the Gaudiya Math. By the mercy of Srila Prabhupad he did much seva at that time.
After the breakup of the Gaudiya Math Srila Guru Maharaj was not very enthusiastic to preach. He did not want to make another mission, and therefore went alone to Vrndavan. The devotees then lost track of him, but all Srila Guru Maharaj’s godbrothers were very enthusiastic to take him preaching. They repeatedly searched in many places to try to locate him. Finally some godbrothers discovered Srila Guru Maharaj in Nabadwip. I have seen the place in which he stayed at that time: it was a single room opposite the Ganges. It has since been altered but not demolished.
Word soon reached the other godbrothers and they came to take Srila Guru Maharaj to preach. Again they tried to make another mission with the association of Srila Guru Maharaj. Then Kesav Maharaj, Goswami Maharaj, and Narasimha Maharaj all took sannyas. They were the first three sannyas disciples of Srila Guru Maharaj, and with them the Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti was started at the Devananda Gaudiya Math. But again some differences came between the devotees.
It was Srila Guru Maharaj’s nature to stay alone, so when again some differences came, he gave everything to Kesav Maharaj.
Kesav Maharaj was a great disciple of Srila Prabhupad. He took sannyas from Srila Guru Maharaj and wanted to preach and be a guru. Srila Guru Maharaj established him as the head of the Devananda Gaudiya Math, and under him the preaching programme continued.
Srila Guru Maharaj stayed alone and did not go out even to beg. Mani Babu, his next younger brother, was a divisional superintendent in the Eastern Railway. Every month he gave ten rupees to Srila Guru Maharaj with which he maintained himself, thus he did not go out to beg. He lived in a house named Mager Badi near to what is now Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, and he paid two rupees per month rent. That house has since been demolished.
While staying at that Mager Badi two godbrothers of Srila Guru Maharaj were enthusiastic to stay with him. It later turned out that their thinking was that if they could help Srila Guru Maharaj to start another mission, then in due course of time they would inherit it, but Srila Guru Maharaj was very simple-hearted and could not understand their motive. He again engaged himself in preaching, but in a limited way, and on one occasion he engaged in Bhagavat-path [lecturing on Srimad Bhagavatam] for one month in the temple at the King of Manipur’s palace.
At that time Sakhi Babu, a godbrother of Srila Guru Maharaj, offered to buy Srila Guru Maharaj some land. Sakhi Babu was a great disciple of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Prabhupad who had done much service in Chaitanya Math. He did many things for Srila Prabhupad including the building of the Yoga Pith Mandir, and also the Bhakti Vijay Bhavan. He brought there electricity, a generator, and a road also.
It was this Sakhi Babu who told Srila Guru Maharaj, “If you choose a piece of land I shall give the money to purchase it.” In this way for his bhajan ashram Srila Guru Maharaj chose this land where Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math now stands. At first its area was one acre, stretching from the bamboo trees on one side, up to six feet behind Srila Guru Maharaj’s building on the other side, and up to my present house on this side. The south-western corner was marked by the small bathroom building, now in ruins.
At the time when Srila Guru Maharaj chose this land there were only a few trees: three mango trees, two guava trees, and the tree just to the north of my house here. One of the three original mango trees left at the same time as Srila Guru Maharaj’s disappearance.
After the purchase of this land in 1941 Srila Guru Maharaj made a thatched house, and on Ratha Yatra of that year he entered into this Math.
The Gaudiya Math was founded by Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Prabhupad, and later Jajavar Maharaj and other godbrothers of Srila Guru Maharaj incorporated the word Gaudiya into the name of their Missions: Syamananda Gaudiya Math, Devananda Gaudiya Math, and so on. But Srila Guru Maharaj thought in another way. Our sampradaya was actually started by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and it is running under His divine direction. Although we are Brahma–Madhva–Gaudiya sampradaya, the real conception of raganuga-bhakti was first shown by Madhavendra Puri, the ‘Grand Guru’ of Sri Chaitanyadev. There the conception was in seed form, but it manifest in the form of a tree in Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Therefore, bearing in mind the main identification of our sampradaya, Srila Guru Maharaj included the name of Sri Chaitanya in the name of his Math. The name of Srila Guru Maharaj’s Guru is Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Prabhupad, therefore to cover from beginning to end the identification of the whole sampradaya Srila Guru Maharaj used the name Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math as the name of his Temple and Mission.
Srila Guru Maharaj personally chose and purchased a very long, strong, and costly bamboo pole from one Narayan Ghosh who owned a large bamboo garden. On the very first day of his stay he hoisted a flag on that tall bamboo flagstaff on the spot where the Temple now stands.
When Guru Maharaj entered, his Deity was Giridhari Jiu, who he had brought from Vrndavan. He chose this place for a number of reasons. One reason was that it is aparadha-bhanjan-pat, Koladwip: the place where all offences of those who surrender are vanquished. Another reason for establishing his Math here was that, as well as being aparadha-bhanjan-pat, this is Giriraj Govardhan, Gupta Govardhan [Hidden Govardhan Hill].
Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Prabhupad preached over the whole of India and he also tried to preach all over the world, but still he was not able to preach successfully in this area of Koladwip. Here there were many great pandits who heavily opposed Srila Prabhupad and his preaching programme, therefore Srila Guru Maharaj wanted to convert that section.
He started to preach to that party headed by Tripathanath Pandit. He was the head of the area of Tegharipara. Also there was another big pandit famous throughout India; his name was Gopendu Sankhyatirtha.
Srila Guru Maharaj started to preach in the house of his aunt, Sarojavasini Devi. She was a very popular lady, and her name is also included on a plaque on the side of Mahaprabhu’s Temple here. She was very famous, and everybody respected her. When Srila Guru Maharaj started preaching in her house many of the members of the opposing group also came to hear—and were converted by him.
After Srila Guru Maharaj first came here, some of his godbrothers joined him, showing themselves to be unconditionally surrendered. Presently also, other godbrothers joined with Srila Guru Maharaj. These brahmacharis joined at least a few months after Srila Guru Maharaj’s first coming here to Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math.
Guru Maharaj’s nature was always to compose something, and he composed many slokas. When he started Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math he immediately composed the following sloka:
srimach-chaitanya-sarasvata-matha-vara udgita-kirtir jayasrim
bibhrat sambhati ganga-tata-nikata-navadvipa-koladri-raje
yatra sri-gaura-sarasvata-mata-nirata gaura-gatha grnanti
[In the holy abode of transcendental touchstone
Sri Nabadwip Dham—the selfsame Sri Vrndavan
in the land of Koladwip, whose inner identity
is the king of mountains Sri Govardhan
near the charming shores of the holy River Bhagirathi
who delivers all the fallen souls
stands that grand and glorious king of all temples—
Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math.
In that beautiful retreat, the surrendered devotees
whose lives are the message of Sri Gaura
are eternally absorbed in the loving service
of the Divine Master, the Golden Lord Gauranga
and the loving Lord Sri Govindasundar
with His consort Srimati Gandharva
accompanied by all Their beloved associates.
With hearts always filled with good hope
to attain the grace of the Lord
following faithfully in the Line
of Sri Rupa and Sri Raghunath—
the storekeepers of the unlimited treasure
of pure, sweet love divine
those surrendered souls ever sing the unending glories
of the transcendental name and qualities
of the most magnanimous, original Supreme Lord
Sri Sri Gaurangasundar.
Indeed, the hearts of all beings, moving and still
marvel in the glory of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math
as they take shelter in the soothing, affectionate shade
of the victory flag that flies aloft
and sings wholeheartedly to the world the ever-expanding
renown of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math;
bearing that banner of all transcendental benedictions
Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math ever shines resplendent
in all its divine magnificence.]
One day his godbrother Sakhi Babu, after hearing this verse, told his other godbrothers, “Srila Guru Maharaj has nothing except a thatched house, but he has erected a very long bamboo pole with a flag on top, and has then composed this sloka!” But Srila Guru Maharaj said to him, “You will see in future what will be here.” And later he has come to see what has manifest, as have we all.
Question: What size was the original thatched room?
Srila Maharaj: That building was twenty feet long by about twelve feet wide. At first there was not even a bed, but with some bamboo Srila Guru Maharaj presently constructed two. It was perhaps a few months or a year later that the brahmacharis came and built a house out of bamboo with a corrugated tin roof. When I joined I first stayed in that house.
Giridhari was in a thatched room measuring about six feet by ten feet made by Guru Maharaj beside his own room. It was where the present kitchen and bhoga storeroom stand. After maybe one or two years Guru Maharaj’s present building was constructed. Its picture is on the front of our Gaudiya Gitanjali book of kirtans. When I joined here on Nrsimha Chaturdasi day of 1946 or ’47 I saw that building. It was then about two years old. The building was made by a donation of bricks from a nearby brickfield owner. The third generation of the man who gave the bricks still comes here and they are very respectful always. Several members of that family came and took diksa from this Math.
The building was made from earth and bricks and was covered by plaster. No cement was used. Until today it is standing, though I need to repair it from time to time. The upper floor of the building was built much later and is constructed using cement.
Giridhari and Mahaprabhu were installed there by Srila Guru Maharaj. In the right hand room where Sripad Aranya Maharaj now stays is where Mahaprabhu used to be. When I joined here Srila Guru Maharaj lived in the room to the left of Mahaprabhu, and later Srila Guru Maharaj came to stay in the right hand room and Mahaprabhu moved to the left room.
I made two latrines, one for the brahmacharis’ room where Hari Charan Prabhu now stays, and the other for Srila Guru Maharaj’s room. Around 1957 when we made the room upstairs for Srila Guru Maharaj, I moved into Guru Maharaj’s old room.
The first brahmacharis who came wanted to serve Srila Guru Maharaj, but some came with some inner intention. It was their understanding from his horoscope that he would not live for more than 58 years; furthermore his health was not very strong and three or four times each month he would be very sick with severe headaches. They did not consider Srila Guru Maharaj would live very long and they thought that after his disappearance they would become the proprietors of this Math. But Srila Guru Maharaj did not tell any of them that they would be chief sevaite or proprietor of the Math. This was because he wanted to maintain his preceptorial line as well as his Guru-parampara.
The Guru-parampara descends through the disciples, therefore Srila Guru Maharaj searched for someone a little younger who he could train up to continue his parampara. It was under such circumstances that I joined in 1947, and after talking with me Srila Guru Maharaj decided within seven days that he would train me to be his successor. He could not hide anything, and he expressed this wish to Krishnadas Babaji Maharaj, Rama Didi, Gopal’s mother, his aunt, Krishnamayi Didi, his godbrothers, and others.
Question: In those days what was the daily routine?
Srila Maharaj: There was a full programme of worship.
Mahaprabhu was installed in 1944 or ’45, so on the altar were Mahaprabhu and Giridhari. The morning, noon, and evening aratis along with the other programmes were going on, just as at present. The programmes were held on the veranda.
Question: How many devotees were here when you first came?
Srila Maharaj: There were eighteen devotees: twelve adults and six youths. They would go to preach in Kolkata. Srila Guru Maharaj established the Kolkata Math some two or three years before I joined. It was started by the desire of Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj.
Srila Swami Maharaj was always very affectionate with Srila Guru Maharaj and he would come to meet him from time to time. He requested Srila Guru Maharaj, “I have two houses, one of which I am living in with my family. The other has a laboratory downstairs. I shall give you the free use of two rooms above the laboratory for the purpose of preaching. In order to have your association I can spare these two rooms. If you will kindly go there and stay, I shall be very happy.” This is how the 7 Sitakanta Banerjee Lane branch of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math was begun.
Question: Srila Guru Maharaj particularly came to Koladwip to be withdrawn from the preaching field, so was it purely Srila Swami Maharaj’s petition that led him to start another Math in order to preach in Kolkata?
Srila Maharaj: Srila Guru Maharaj always wanted to stay in the background. He did not want to take a prominent role to recruit others, make disciples, and so on. But Srila Swami Maharaj very much wanted to do something: to make another Gaudiya Mission headed by our Srila Guru Maharaj. He many times told Srila Guru Maharaj his wish, but Srila Guru Maharaj was not enthusiastic to do so. It was because of Srila Guru Maharaj’s close, affectionate relationship with Srila Swami Maharaj that he accepted his proposal.
During their stay in Sitakanta Banerjee Lane some very prominent people came to see Srila Guru Maharaj through Swami Maharaj, and in that way some grhastha devotees joined. Bhutabrt Prabhu and Nrsimhananda Prabhu were big brahmacharis, and they also stayed in Srila Swami Maharaj’s house and preached in Kolkata. From time to time Srila Guru Maharaj would go there, and he would sometimes stay for two or three months during which time the other brahmacharis would run the Math here in Nabadwip.
Question: What service duties were here for those in the Math?
Srila Maharaj: At that time all the regular temple programmes were running as well as cultivation. When I joined I made a very nice flower garden in front of the building. Also we cultivated vegetables and fruits. One day we picked a ten foot long ‘stick-sabji’ plant from the garden and took it to Sakhi Babu’s house. He was greatly surprised to see it.
Question: When most devotees think of the Math, they first of all think of the Temple. When did it begin to manifest?
Srila Maharaj: Construction was begun on the Temple after the first group of brahmacharis left to start their own mission. A new group came to stay here which was mainly made up of the direct disciples of Srila Guru Maharaj. That new group consisted of myself, Hari Charan Prabhu, Krishna Saran Prabhu (now Sripad Aranya Maharaj), and another two or three devotees. We stayed here and also we would go preaching outstation. We would go house to house to tell the people about Srila Guru Maharaj, and to beg alms. This was first begun by Jajavar Maharaj, Goswami Maharaj, and Madhusudan Maharaj, who all helped Srila Guru Maharaj after the first group of brahmacharis left Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math. They were the first to start and establish the preaching for Guru Maharaj and they collected also. We went with them, and in later years when they stopped, we continued the collection from that same field.
Each of those sannyasis had their own Mission, but they collected for Srila Guru Maharaj. Madhusudan Maharaj’s Math is in Burdwan, Jajavar Maharaj has two or three, and Goswami Maharaj has many Maths, but they each would come to preach and collect for Srila Guru Maharaj. We would take them and they would head our group. By their preaching, some rice, bhoga, and money came. In this way they helped Srila Guru Maharaj.
Even when Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math was just two thatched houses, there would be many thousands of people coming to attend the festivals and to take prasadam—just like now. Srila Guru Maharaj was able to provide prasadam for everyone by the energy of the devotees’ collection. Every year Madhusudan Maharaj would go to collect for the festivals with us, and sometimes Jajavar Maharaj would also come.
The first Nabadwip Dham Parikrama was started by myself under the guidance of Srila Guru Maharaj. I proposed to Srila Guru Maharaj that if we could start a Nabadwip Dham Parikrama, it would not be difficult to find people to participate. When going out on the collections and meeting the many villagers I would have the chance to encourage many people to join our parikrama.
At that time only two other parties did Nabadwip Dham Parikrama: Kesav Maharaj and the Mayapur Math.
Goswami Maharaj, Jajavar Maharaj, and Madhusudan Maharaj joined with our parikrama party along with their many disciples and followers. They would all come here in Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math at festival times. Their parties were big, and we would put up a temporary tent for their accommodation. Goswami Maharaj’s party itself consisted of maybe two hundred followers, mainly grhastha villagers. Jajavar Maharaj’s party was about a hundred persons, our own maybe two hundred, and Madhusudan Maharaj would have about fifty. In this way many people came and joined with our parikrama party. We continued in that way for a few years.
After that, Madhav Maharaj also started to make Nabadwip Dham Parikrama. Then, by the will of Srila Guru Maharaj, Goswami Maharaj made his Math in Mayapur—the Nandan Acharya Bhavan Temple—and he too started Nabadwip Dham Parikrama. Jajavar Maharaj’s party joined with Madhav Maharaj, and from that time our own parikrama continued independently. Every year since then there has been Nabadwip Dham Parikrama from Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math.
Question: I heard that parikramas to other holy places were also arranged.
Srila Maharaj: I took pilgrimage parties to other places in India, including Badarik Ashram, and so did Srila Guru Maharaj. At that time I wasn’t so expert at collecting funds, especially in Kolkata, but our expenses increased day by day. Furthermore no temple building had yet been constructed.
I had noticed that Kesav Maharaj, Chaitanya Math, and Goswami Maharaj were all running Indian tours. Therefore I proposed to Srila Guru Maharaj that we could also organise Indian tours, part by part: Southern India, Northern India, Western India, and so on. Srila Guru Maharaj replied, “If you can, that will be very good.”
The success of such a journey would very much depend on the cooperation of the railway company, so I suggested to Srila Guru Maharaj that if we go to Badarik Ashram, then it would entail the least reliance upon the railways. Then there would be a greater chance of success for the tour. To do that would entail taking the Doon Express to Haridvar and then a bus to Rishikesh, from where the journey would continue by foot. Srila Guru Maharaj commented, “It would be an arduous journey. Can you organise and run it successfully?” I said, “Yes. If you give your grace, I can.”
Srila Guru Maharaj gave me enthusiasm and said, “If you can, it will be very good.”
Then, myself and other devotees, we went and gathered people for the tour. With the help of our patrons we advertised by distributing handbills from door to door.
In the first party were about fifty-four persons. Myself and Paramahamsa Maharaj—a sannyas disciple of Srila Guru Maharaj who also helped him very much by collection and preaching—we took charge of the party. I was very young at that time, around twenty-four years old. For that first tour Srila Guru Maharaj said it was necessary for an older devotee to also head the party, therefore he invited Paramahamsa Maharaj. Actually I was in charge, but Paramahamsa Maharaj was very helpful. Each year we would go to Kedarnath, Badarik Ashram, and Tunganath.
After that we started various parikrama tours to the holy places of Southern India, Western India, Puri, Vrndavan, Dvaraka, and so on. These tours would all go to holy places. We established good relations with many people, and many of them also took initiation from Srila Guru Maharaj. Many of the participants became devotees. In addition, by those tours we were able to collect much money at that time. I can remember that each tour would make at least Rs 5,000. With our nourishment they were very happy.
Srila Guru Maharaj also came with us on three or four occasions. He went on the train tours and also on the pilgrimage by foot to Badarik Ashram. By that time the bus ran into the Himalayas all the way up to Rudra Prayag or maybe Chamauli. When we first started, the whole journey by foot was about 286 kilometres and it took one month to complete.
Question: In order that Srila Guru Maharaj was able to go on these tours his health must have improved considerably.
Srila Maharaj: Yes. Although Guru Maharaj’s health was not so good he would still go on these tours.
You would be surprised to hear that at that time no qualified person was in Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math who could maintain his Mission. When he was fifty-five years old Srila Guru Maharaj made a will. He made me the Sevaite and Acharya; Goswami Maharaj, Jajavar Maharaj, and Guru Maharaj’s godbrother, Sakhi Babu, were trustees, and perhaps Paramahamsa Maharaj was an adviser. Srila Guru Maharaj thought that they would stay and he would leave, and therefore he made them trustees, but they all left this world before him. In 1964, a few years after he passed the fifty-eight years that some expected him to live, he made a registered “Deed of Gift and Settlement”.
He installed Gandharva Govindasundar about four years after I came to the Mission.
The Temple was begun perhaps in 1955. First there was one thatched house, then a second, then the building of bricks, mud, and plaster, and after that gradually came the other buildings. The year I went to Badarik Ashram we collected Rs 5,000, and on returning I proposed to Srila Guru Maharaj that we shall make a Temple. Srila Guru Maharaj said, “With only Rs 5,000 what will you be able to make?” By the desire of Srila Guru Maharaj I then called Jajavar Maharaj. He came and Madhusudan Maharaj also came. It was Gaura Purnima time, and they went preaching for the festival to be held here. At that time a big donor came: Kisori Mohan Das Vairagya. His name is on the first of the marble plaques beside the Mandir. With his promise to give money for the Temple, Srila Guru Maharaj started the construction. I don’t have a clear memory of historical dates but it was maybe 1955. Kisori Babu then gave maybe ten or twelve thousand rupees—a lot of money at that time.
At first the raised Deity room and roof were finished but there was no veranda. Then the veranda came, after which Srila Guru Maharaj installed there the Deity. I can remember that the first abhisek of the Deity was in the old building. The Deity therefore must have first been installed there.
Question: When the Temple was only a temple room with no veranda, where did the devotees do bhajan?
Srila Maharaj: The devotees held bhajan in a thatched shed in front the Temple, like a small Nat Mandir. It was made of bamboo and corrugated tin sheet. Another person, a lady, also gave some money towards the Nat Mandir.
A little later when Kisori Babu left his body, only the ground floor of the Temple had been completed. In order to raise funds to continue building, some devotees of Srila Guru Maharaj made further collections in addition to the annual parikrama tours by train and the Badarik Ashram pilgrimage. We continued those tours every year from 1953 until 1979. After Srila Swami Maharaj’s disappearance when the Western devotees started coming, I no longer had the time to make the parikramas. Also some money started coming in from other sources, so for various reasons we stopped the parikramas. We are very few devotees here, and mainly it was due to a shortage of time that the parikramas were stopped.
Question: How long did it take to build the Temple?
Srila Maharaj: The Temple took twenty years to build, and when it was completed there was still no Nat Mandir. Around 1975 a lady devotee of Guru Maharaj promised Rs 5,000 and we started the construction of the Nat Mandir.
Up until close to the time of the completion of the Temple there was only one other building of bricks: the building of Srila Guru Maharaj. The Nat Mandir was built after 1975 as was the gosala [cowshed] by my present house. This building where I now stay was made also around that time. This was not originally to be my house but it was intended to be the kitchen.
One devotee, Banoyari Lal Simhaniya, wanted to fulfil the wish of Srila Guru Maharaj to make a kitchen building. I considered it would be good to make a two-storey building so cooking could continue above water-level during the time of flooding. Sometimes the water is more than five feet deep. So by making a two-storey kitchen, when the flood comes we could move everything upstairs and still be able to cook. Throughout the rest of the year we could cook downstairs, and during festivals we could cook upstairs as well as down.
When Srila Guru Maharaj saw it, he told me, “Now you should take the upstairs section and live there.” Previously I lived in the small southerly room on the roof of the Nat Mandir, but that was not sufficiently big for my many books and other things.
Another factor that decided my move was that especially in the rainy season it was quite far from the two-storey kitchen to the Temple. The path became slippery and it was difficult to take bhoga from this building all the way to the Temple every day. Therefore, for convenience, the devotees still tended to use the old small kitchen close to the Temple.
Many big festivals happen here and at those times we would use this kitchen below my room, but generally throughout the year the small kitchen would be used.
As they were using the small old kitchen so much, I asked Srila Guru Maharaj, “Now we have some chance of money, shall I make a big new kitchen at the site of the old small one close to the Temple?” He agreed. The old kitchen was then demolished and nicely rebuilt; and that is the kitchen which is now used all the time.
I came to stay in my present room in maybe 1982.
In 1973 the Temple was completed. Then the double-storey kitchen was made and the Nat Mandir was begun. The houses where Krishnamayi Didi and Sankari Didi used to live were constructed earlier, about 1963, as was a third house where Dharma Didi used to stay.
Gradually the Math’s land area increased during the time the Temple was being built. Simhajuli, where the rice is grown for the Math, was purchased in 1962. Srila Guru Maharaj himself used to oversee the cultivation of that land. During cultivation we would go there daily by bicycle, but Srila Guru Maharaj would go only every few days and he would take a rickshaw. At that time the eight kilometre journey cost two rupees. Only if necessary would he go daily. Satis Prabhu also helped much with the cultivation in Simhajuli.
In the very early days of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, Satis Prabhu stayed here. Nobody wanted to stay without a roof, but Satis Prabhu happily stayed here and he helped Srila Guru Maharaj to make the thatched house. He was the very first person to come and stay on the land after Srila Guru Maharaj purchased it.
Guru Maharaj himself planted the compound hedge and he did much other physical labouring work around the Math. I also helped Srila Guru Maharaj with the labouring duties in the Math compound.
Question: Are labourers hired to assist with the cultivation?
Srila Maharaj: Generally the cultivation is done by the brahmacharis of the Math, but at certain times extra labour is hired. Around 1962 we purchased two very big and strong male buffaloes to help with the cultivation. I was the driver of the buffaloes and they were very happy with me. They were very broad and strong, and they were so big it is not easy to imagine. The cross-bars on the cart were especially wide for the buffaloes to fit in.
Those buffaloes would play with me here, but Srila Guru Maharaj would be afraid they may kill me. They were big, strong, and young, and Guru Maharaj did not like that I would always mix with them.
In order to feed them grass I would take them to the pasture in front of Mahaprabhu’s Temple. One day I was with them there and Srila Guru Maharaj told me, “Don’t go close to the buffaloes.” But I assured him, “These buffaloes will not attack me.” He objected, “These are beasts, they can attack you.”
I replied, “No, Maharaj, these are not like beasts.” Then I went in front of the biggest buffalo, quickly went over to his rear, and thumped him on his leg. Then, like a kid goat, he quickly turned, and with his horns he put his head against my body, but very carefully. Seeing this, Srila Guru Maharaj said, “Oh, he will not attack you?” I reassured him that he would not. Again I did it many times. Srila Guru Maharaj watched and was surprised to see that each time the buffalo appeared to be quickly going to attack I would raise my arm slightly and he would put his horns carefully there by my side in a playing way. Srila Guru Maharaj was surprised to see that such a strong red-eyed buffalo, of whom everyone was fearful, was playing with me.
That buffalo’s name was Ramdas. The other buffalo was called Syamdas. When Syamdas died, I purchased another named Haridas. They were very strong, and they ploughed the fields, pulled carts, and so on.
Question: We are often asked what happens to the old cows here at the Math.
Srila Maharaj: Generally a cow will stay here all its life. The cows generally grow old and die here, though sometimes we do sell them when we have too many. When a cow becomes very old we will not sell her. We only sell cows that produce milk or that can have calves, and only do so if there is an excess of cows.
There were two cows here when I first came. One was white and named Surabhi, and the other was named Syamali. Syamali was very naughty and she attacked everyone. I think she probably wasn’t happy with her food.
In my youth I had been accustomed to drinking much milk, but after three or four years in the Math I became sick, and was diagnosed by the doctor to be suffering from a lack of milk. I was very sick and the doctor prescribed one or two apples and a kilogram of milk daily. I suggested to Srila Guru Maharaj, “I would like to do seva of Syamali, then she will give enough milk for me, in that way it won’t be necessary to purchase any additional quantity from the market.”
Srila Guru Maharaj readily and happily agreed. At that time Syamali was giving 2.5 kg of milk each day, but after I started to serve her she became very happy and gave up to 6.25 kg. When I would go to Kolkata she gave less milk, and when I would return she would give more. We didn’t have many cows at that time. Syamali was the first cow, then Surabhi, and then Nandini came a little later.
Later still, when more cows came, the gosala was constructed. At first we purchased some cows, but since then all the cows have been either bred here, or donated.
Question: In what way are we to understand the spiritual qualities of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math?
Srila Maharaj: We can have some idea of the spiritual nature of the Math from what Srila Guru Maharaj has said. Hearing his words and conception our own vision has grown. When Sakhi Babu one day jokingly said, “Srila Sridhar Maharaj has only erected a tall bamboo flagstaff, but he has composed such a grand sloka!” Srila Guru Maharaj responded, “In the future you will see what will manifest.” Lastly we can see what has come here—and not only the buildings. When the ground floor of the Temple was completed, the Koladwip Adhipati, the Master of Koladwip, Laksmi-Varahadev, in the form of a Salagram-sila Deity, came here gradually, by His wish. He was living like a king in a brahman’s house, from where He came here through Jajavar Maharaj and Goswami Maharaj. When He first arrived here, we did not know what type of Salagram-sila had come, but under instruction from Srila Guru Maharaj I searched the Garuda-purana to identify the name of the Salagram-sila according to His markings. From that I considered Him to be Laksmi-Varahadev. In order to double-check my conclusion, Srila Guru Maharaj wrote a letter to the brahman who had been caring for Him. He replied confirming the Salagram to indeed be Laksmi-Varahadev. He also mentioned in his reply that if a brahman brahmachari will serve Him, then He will be very happy.
Hearing this, Srila Guru Maharaj told me, “Arrange for Laksmi-Varahadev to have special paramanna [sweet-rice] every day. In that way He will be happy and the Math will be very peaceful.” Since that day a brahman brahmachari has always been doing His worship, and daily offering paramanna.
Srila Guru Maharaj saw Nabadwip Dham as aparadha-bhanjan-pat, and Koladwip as the ksetra, the land, of Laksmi-Varahadev. Kola means Varahadev. Srila Guru Maharaj, with his transcendental vision, has seen what is actually here. We consider that what is manifesting is in Koladwip, and by devotional service it is becoming revealed gradually.
Especially when Srila Guru Maharaj disappeared we have seen some special symptoms. From my youth I always tried to see that all the trees and all the paraphernalia of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math are not mundane. Actually, with my sense of vision I always consider everything here to be transcendental. I do not know how much I can feel, but I have no doubt that sometimes I feel it to be transcendental. We have also seen many symptoms.
In my younger days I would sometimes be a little angry and would want to leave the Math, but at that time I always asked permission to go from the trees, cows, and other living entities. Therefore I can understand I have some feeling for everything here, otherwise why did I go to ask permission from tree to tree? Furthermore, they didn’t give permission for me to go! Whether or not I see correctly, I can say I have some standard feelings given in the scriptures of how to see the Holy Dham and its paraphernalia. Through knowledge and the vision of Srila Guru Maharaj we are trying to see—and sometimes we are able to see also.
Question: What advice did Srila Guru Maharaj give as to how to see this place?
Srila Maharaj: He said this is a very auspicious place, and specifically it is Gupta Govardhan. Close to Govardhan Hill is Manasa Ganga, and Govinda Kunda is also here in remembrance of Govinda Kunda by Govardhan. In Vrndavan is Manasa Ganga, and here in Nabadwip is the Ganges. In Govardhan the lila of Krishna goes on in many ways, and here also the lila of Gandharva and Govindasundar takes place: the Pastimes of the Lord near Govinda Kunda of Vrndavan are happening here. And we remember Kusum Sarovar also, but until now I haven’t made it because time has been short due to the many services going on in our various centres here in India. I have always wanted to excavate the hole behind the Indians’ guesthouse and make it into Kusum Sarovar. That was my plan, and I asked Guru Maharaj if we could dig there a nice kunda with steps going down into it. He happily agreed.
You can see Koladwip-lila here:
kuliya-gramete asi’ sri-krsna-chaitanya
hena nahi, yare prabhu na karila dhanya
(Sri Chaitanya-bhagavat: Antya-lila, 3.541)
In order to very widely rescue the fallen souls Sriman Mahaprabhu showed here His Pastimes in such a way that anyone who takes shelter here must be rescued by Him from his unfortunate position.
(second part of interview)
I feel that everything can come to us when there is necessity in our service life. What is necessary for us is to keep ourselves in a clean devotional mood and position of service, then everything will come to us. Bilvamangal Thakur wrote that dharma [virtue], artha [wealth], and kama [enjoyment] will wait upon the true devotee. Even Mukti Devi will try to serve that devotee, and will request of him, “What is my service? Please give me some service in your service world.” If we try to see, we can see that it is true. For one who wants to pleasingly serve his Divine Master, dharma, artha, kama, and moksa—everything—want to serve him. In this way we receive more and more inspiration to see, “Yes, it is possible.” When we can see this, it is a symptom that progress is being made in our path of spiritual life.
If we go to the town centre, on the way we will see a particular tree at a certain place, particular shops, then a petrol pump, and gradually along our way we will receive in many ways confirmation of our progress towards our destination. Similarly we see many symptoms along the path of our spiritual life, and we are not fearful. On a battlefield many may die but also many will be successful.
Seeing our Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math I can say that I have no doubt that, on the whole, we are succeeding. We see many symptoms that bring us much happiness.
Duryodhan wanted to succeed in finding the Pandavas. If he could find them during their final year of exile, then they would have to return for a further twelve year period of banishment. Therefore Duryodhan with his men earnestly searched the forests, mountains, caves, and other places for the Pandavas, but without success. With almost the whole year being finished Duryodhan became very hopeless and he called a meeting of his top men. In that meeting Bhismadev said to him, “You can’t find the Pandavas? There are five of them but you cannot find even one?” Bhismadev then smiled and said to all those in that grand assembly, “You are foolish. You are searching in the wrong places because you do not know the proper way to search for them. Searching in the caves, the mountains, the jungles, and so forth, is not the process. Actually, wherever the Pandavas live you will be able to see the symptoms of their presence. Wherever they are present the cows will give much milk, the trees will bear much fruit, the crops will grow in abundance, the rains will fall timely, the rivers will flow very happily, the breeze will be fresh and clean, and in every way the whole environment will be prosperous. If you search such a place, you will certainly find the Pandavas staying there. Your searching the jungles and caves is not the process to find the Pandavas, but if you search the district where these auspicious symptoms are present, there you will find them.” Duryodhan had almost no time left, and immediately he sent scouts to search such places.
Remembering this, when I see here in Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math that the trees are bearing much fruit, the cows are giving much milk, the birds are singing, the residents are happily trying hard to serve Srila Guru Maharaj’s Mission, and the many other auspicious symptoms present here, I feel these to be all very happy indications. They all show that we are proceeding to our life’s goal.
Also books are being published from all over the world. Recently we received publications from London, Hungary, Brazil, and Mexico, as well as from here in India. In addition we received newsletters from Australia, London, and America. In this way also we can see that everything is going nicely, and I feel that this is the mercy of Srila Guru Maharaj.
In our practising life some disturbance must always come, but we don’t care for that. One who tries to serve must receive some disturbance in this mundane world. One who does not try to serve will not be disturbed: he will simply be alone chanting on his beads without trying to exert any effort to serve. In such a way he will remain without disturbance—and without progress. But one who takes to the service-life must receive some disturbances, and that is also one kind of good symptom. If a sportsman runs but does not feel any pain in his legs, then that kind of running is not sufficient for him. It means he is not trying hard enough, and he won’t win the race in that way. With a relaxed mood, service is not possible for the beginners. Service is always difficult, and who can do that must be benefitted.
Question: We hear that the people of Nabadwip are special people. What view should those from outside the Dham have of them?
Srila Maharaj: If we can see with transcendental vision we shall see the residents to be very auspicious. But what we see now is not always auspicious, as our vision is covered by illusion, maya. Bhakti Vinod Thakur wrote in his Navadvipa-dhama-mahatmya that we do not see what is actually here. Here everything is auspicious, but what we see is actually maya, and who we see, they also are in illusion. But underneath the cover of maya is the real, living Nabadwip Dham. We are to discover the living Nabadwip Dham through our devotion and through the mercy of the devotees of Mahaprabhu. That is the only way it is possible, otherwise the dust and everything within our mundane vision is in maya. Behind our mundane vision lives the real Nabadwip Dham.
maya krpa kari jala uthaya yakhana
a̐khi dekhe suvisala chinmaya bhavana
We shall see with proper vision only when Maya Devi will mercifully withdraw the cover from our eyes. And that is possible only by means of the soul’s devotional mood. The jiva is to surrender to Mahaprabhu and to Nityananda Prabhu. Nityananda Prabhu is the master of Maya and by His will Maya will remove the cover from our eyes. At that time everything will be revealed before us, and we shall be able to see the real transcendental Nabadwip Dham.
At the moment we are trying to see the real Nabadwip, but what we see is only a part of maya. That is the main philosophy given by Bhakti Vinod Thakur, Kaviraj Goswami, Narahari Chakravarti Thakur in his Bhakti-ratnakara, Prabodhananda Saraswatipad, and the whole Gaudiya–Vaisnava sampradaya.
We are trained by Srila Guru Maharaj and so we always try to see with our devotional mood according to his directives, and what comes before us we do not immediately accept as transcendental. We judge, then recognise. Judging is also a manifestation of our mundanity, but by the mercy of Srila Guru Maharaj we can sometimes recognise.
When Guru Maharaj disappeared, on that very same day a big mango tree left its body. I was surprised because it was a very strong tree. Within twenty-four hours all its leaves fell off, and we could all understand that tree had left his body, but at the time we could not understand why he left. I thought the tree left because he could not tolerate the strong separation. He perhaps was very dear to Srila Guru Maharaj, and in deep separation he left. But later I discovered this to be not the only cause. Another two mango trees of similar size continued to live nearby, but this tree disappeared. Therefore I began to meditate further on why he left—and what actually is there. Then one day some feeling came within me. I felt that for the devotees attending arati and other worship of Guru Maharaj, two pillars would be necessary to support a roof to give them shade. One of those pillars would need to be close to the very point where that tree stood.
It was my nature not to kill any tree in Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math. Only I will interfere with the trees for a very essential, unavoidable cause. If that particular mango tree had remained I would have settled for a lesser design of building rather than cut it down, therefore that tree himself disappeared. And now you can see how Srila Guru Maharaj’s Samadhi Mandir, The Temple of Union in Separation, has manifest there. Although I could not understand how the Temple would manifest, that tree could.
By Radha Kunda in Sri Dham Vrndavan you can see six trees. In the form of those trees the Pancha Pandavas and Draupadi are now living. They gave a dream to Raghunath Das Goswami, “Please don’t oust us: we are the Pancha Pandavas living here in the form of these trees.” We try to see everything in this Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math with this kind of vision.
Everything here is very auspicious. I always feel much happiness inside to touch and see the trees. I think it is the grace of Srila Guru Maharaj, and also the causeless mercy bestowed upon me by many Vaisnavas, that these feelings and some good sense have come to me. Sometimes it may not be fully felt, but knowledge is helping us to see that everything is transcendental and everything is very auspicious.
I have been in charge of making many things here in the Math, but as much as possible I always try to avoid giving any pain to others. I think that if our devotees will also gain this kind of vision by the mercy of Srila Guru Maharaj, they will be very benefitted.
Here in the Dham there are two things—the mundane and the transcendental—and we must separate them, otherwise we will always be the loser.
In the supremely high position all transcendental feelings will come to the siddha-purus. An example is Gaura Kisor Das Babaji Maharaj. One day some boys threw stones at him and hurled insults, but he reacted by thinking, “Oh, Krishna, You are very naughty. You are disturbing me while I’m walking along the road. Krishna, You are very naughty! I shall go to Mother Yasoda and tell her what kind of naughtiness You have. Hearing that, she will beat You.” That kind of vision is very high, but it is real vision. When we shall have that kind of sight we shall see everything to be transcendental, and we won’t be able to see anything before us as mundane. That was the kind of vision of Gaura Kisor Das Babaji Maharaj, Vamsi Das Babaji Maharaj, Jagannath Das Babaji Maharaj, Bhakti Vinod Thakur, Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Prabhupad, and our Srila Guru Maharaj. By the mercy of Srila Guru Maharaj that vision must come to us in the future, I have no doubt.
Question: This is the Golden Jubilee Year of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math. What should we think, what should be our meditation, and what mood of glorification should we have especially at this time?
Srila Maharaj: Actually at first I was not so aware that this is the Golden Jubilee year, then suddenly it came to my attention and I immediately thought of my Srila Guru Maharaj. I have seen in his character his glorification of the Vaisnavas, of Mahaprabhu with His associates, and of the Dham. We saw that he likes very much to engage in service to the Vaisnavas, Guru, Mahaprabhu, Radha-Krishna, and Nabadwip Dham. Whenever I would propose something within these categories, he would become very happy and would immediately give his sanction. So when it came to my notice that this year is the Golden Jubilee year, I thought that if I were to tell Srila Guru Maharaj, “This year is the Golden Jubilee, I want to make some festival for that. Everyone observes a Golden Jubilee as a traditionally festive year for all sorts of organisations, whether businesses, institutions, or whatever. Now is coming the Golden Jubilee year of our Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math so I wish also to make some special arrangements”, I know he would give his permission happily. He would not only give his permission, but if I were to ask him to write an article for a Golden Jubilee publication, he, although unable to see or write, would certainly speak something into a tape recorder. I feel this very strongly.
Whenever I wanted to start any new seva programme I would always ask Srila Guru Maharaj first to see if he would be happy or not. But he never gave a negative answer: he always answered in the affirmative. Whether I wish to go to Badarik Ashram, or if I wish to go to Ramesvaram, for the service of Mahaprabhu he always gave his permission. Therefore, when the inspiration came to me to make extra programmes of glorification and celebration during this Golden Jubilee year, I thought, “Yes, I must try.” Even I thought that even if no one will help me and I am unable to do anything on a big scale, at least I must print something. In this way I prepared myself and started. Now I see that everyone is very enthusiastic for the Golden Jubilee year festivals, therefore I am more and more happy. This year many things have already happened for the remembrance of the Golden Jubilee, and many other activities worldwide are planned and are in the making.
Actually, for the quick manifestation of service, some special occasion is often necessary. So, in remembrance of our Golden Jubilee year, we must serve with four times the energy!
Every year the Western devotees enthusiastically engage in some ‘marathon’ service. Also here we shall do ‘quick delivery’ service. We shall try to do as much as possible for the service of Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Gandharva Govindasundar in many ways. Srila Rupa Goswami listed sixty-four kinds of service in Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu. Mahaprabhu gave, in a condensed way, just five:
sadhu-sanga, nama-sankirtana, bhagavat-sravana
mathura-vasa, sri-murtira sraddhaya sevana
sakala sadhana srestha ei pancha anga
We must try to engage in all the different types of service: preaching; glorification of Hari, Guru, Vaisnava; service to the Math and devotees; parikrama of the main three Dhams—Vrndavan, Puri, and Nabadwip, and printing and publishing books glorifying Sri Guru Gauranga Gandharva Govindasundar Jiu. Guru means the Divine Master’s glorification, and we shall also glorify the Vaisnavas, Gauranga Mahaprabhu, and Gandharva Govindasundar. During this year we can publish many books along these lines. Also we have a big ambition for further publishing worldwide.
Devotees can distribute prasadam, hold programmes covering several days, and arrange Nam-sankirtan and nagar-sankirtan in many places and many ways. We can also begin new long-term projects. It is not generally found in our sampradaya, but we can make especially for the Golden Jubilee year some seventy-two hours continuous sankirtan programmes with chanting and glorification accompanied by prasadam distribution. We can make flower gardens and vegetable gardens for Guru Gauranga Gandharva Govindasundar. And for Their satisfaction we can cultivate rice, serve the cows by feeding them, washing them, and cleaning their gosala; and we can engage in any number of activities. Looking after the cows is a service very much liked by Govinda. Also we can give nourishment to the trees by applying fertilizer, and by removing insects and growth from them.
Question: What special service can the devotees living in other countries perform?
Srila Maharaj: In other countries, everywhere, the devotees should hold festivals in remembrance of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math’s Golden Jubilee year. I gave some hint in the Golden Jubilee invitation that they can make sankirtan preaching programmes, chant with mrdangas and kartals in the streets, distribute books, publish books, and in many ways glorify Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, wherever they may be. They can start weekly weekend meetings, and they can inaugurate a main annual meeting with festivals and prasadam distribution as well as two or three other large festivals yearly. They can do many things in their countries in remembrance of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math’s Golden Jubilee. At least everyone can chant, engage in glorification, and make some meetings. If it is possible, I may be able to send to their countries from here Sripad Bhakti Ananda Sagar Maharaj or others. I am also eager to meet with the devotees in the West, and if it is the desire of Krishna, it must happen.
My nature is to be hopeful. Until death I am hopeful—and after death also I have no problem actually. When Srila Guru Maharaj gives us backing then what problem can there be?
raksa karabi tuhu̐ nischaya jani
pana karabu̐ hama yamuna-pani
Bhakti Vinod Thakur, addressing Krishna, said in Saranagati, “You must save us. It is your duty, I know, so what fear can I have? I can jump into the polluted waters of Kaliya’s lake without fear, and I can do anything.” In that way enthusiasm must come inside the devotees who are associated with such transcendental knowledge. Rupa Goswami said that sometimes the devotees may be a little disappointed also (ghana-tarala), but mostly the devotees are very enthusiastic in the association of Krishna. Krishna always gives us His association, and if we have the capacity, we can recognise it immediately.
When many problems are in front of me, I am eager to solve everything immediately, but it is not possible immediately. Therefore I sometimes feel some pain. At that time I think, “Everything comes by the will of Krishna, so I should not be in too much anxiety about any situation.” Krishna knows how to purify His devotee, and my only duty is that I must be a devotee’s devotee. This also is always my intention. If everything will go in such a line, there will be no fear from anywhere. And our backing is very strong: our Srila Guru Maharaj.
Question: Finally, do you have any further message for the devotees, especially on this occasion of the Golden Jubilee?
Srila Maharaj: They will try to serve Srila Guru Maharaj heart and soul. Service to Srila Guru Maharaj means his Mission, his Deities, and his devotees. They can decorate their service, but these are the three main service duties. His Mission is living in every country and in a nice, decorated way they may try to do more and more.
I am happy with the devotees of the West, but they can do more and more, and if you ask me whether Srila Swami Maharaj is happy, I must reply that he is not. He always wants full service, not partial service. But Srila Guru Maharaj was mainly very accommodative in that way: he always accepted even partial service from the devotees. That is not the nature of Swami Maharaj: he wants always to take the full energy of the devotees. It is Guru Maharaj’s desire also, but he would look and give his mercy wherever any service was done; and that gives more hope to the devotees. But the devotees must try in the line of Srila Swami Maharaj! And I like that also. Twenty-four hours per day service to Sri Guru and Vaisnava is necessary, but if it is not possible to do so for a whole year, then the minimum is to give that type of service for at least a few days.
Question: All the devotees are very indebted always to Your Divine Grace, even more so that you have taken the time and trouble to talk with us today.
Srila Maharaj: I also tried in this way to draw something from Srila Guru Maharaj for the devotees. He showed ill health, but I tried for the devotees wealth. I don’t know how much I was successful, but I think the intention was very good. Actually one moment can give us our full wealth, and also one inauspicious moment can give us our full destruction. I have seen this in my life.
One second, if it comes in a bad way can destroy everything we have, and one second coming in a good way can give us everything.
From a lecture by His Divine Grace
Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj
It can sometimes be very hard for us to accept the different natures of the devotees in this Krishna consciousness Mission. If someone will stick to only one attitude then he must be doomed to failure. There are many devotees—and many different natures. As an example you can see in our own Sri Guru-varga that Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur has one kind of nature, Srila Gaura Kisor Das Babaji Maharaj has another kind of nature, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur’s nature is of another type, and Vamsi Das Babaji Maharaj’s nature is yet another. But they are all siddha-mahapurusas [perfected souls]. Also Srila Jagannath Das Babaji Maharaj has another type of nature, and our Srila Guru Maharaj yet another. So who are you to follow?
You cannot follow the activities of anybody, but it will be good for your practitioner’s life if only you take the guidelines from your Gurudev and do not try to imitate anyone.
We heard that Vamsi Das Babaji Maharaj ate fish and would often smoke a water-pipe. He would light the tobacco first, offer it to Sri Sri Nitai Gaura, and then he himself would take that. But if you try to imitate him you must fall down.
Devotee: Did They accept that offering?
Srila Govinda Maharaj: Yes, They accepted. Vamsi Das Babaji Maharaj’s position was such that he was a Paramahamsa Vaisnava in vatsalya-rasa, so Nitai Gaura could not ignore his offering. But you cannot imitate him.
Another nature was that of Gaura Kisor Das Babaji Maharaj. He was very renounced and would take as his prasadam only some soft rice with one green chilli. He would keep that rice in a pot for three or four days and each day he would take some from there along with one green chilli. He would take such type of prasadam, but he would always be engaged in his bhajan. And where would he be doing his bhajan? In a public latrine. His residence was a cubicle of a public latrine. People will not go to such a place because it is very dirty, but he lived there. You also cannot imitate him.
An example of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur’s nature is that in his earlier days he lived in the place where now stands the Sri Chaitanya Math, Mayapur. During the time of chaturmasya he would not use his hand to eat but he would take directly with his mouth from the ground, and he would chant one crore of Hari-nam [ten million Holy Names] in one month. In those earlier days he would continuously chant Hari-nam and would take only three or four mouthfuls of food; and that too directly from the ground. But in his later days he lived in the Gaudiya Math with many materials and many things. You cannot imitate him.
Our Srila Guru Maharaj also in his earlier days in the Gaudiya Math would take very watery dal and poor quality mashed vegetables along with rice. At that time he was leading a very renounced life. Later when I joined here I saw that Srila Guru Maharaj for several years daily took only 100 grams of rice, 250 grams of milk, and one potato. But during his later years I also saw that he would take prasadam without restriction.
I had the direct association of Srila Guru Maharaj for the last forty-two years until his disappearance and therefore I know firsthand much about his nature. From my first day here I very fortunately received the affection of Srila Guru Maharaj and he engaged me in his personal service. If he had a headache, I would massage him. I would also massage his feet and give nerve massage. At that time no woman, including his sister, Rama Didi, could go inside Srila Guru Maharaj’s room.
On my first day at the Math I saw Rama Didi arrive from her father-in-law’s house. From outside Srila Guru Maharaj’s door she asked, “Maharaj how are you? I am Rama offering you my obeisances.”
Srila Guru Maharaj then said, “O, Rama has come!” But Rama Didi could not enter his room. Srila Guru Maharaj asked her, “O Rama, come and see this boy. What qualities do you see in him? Do you think he can stay here in the Math and maintain his devotional life in our line?”
Rama Didi looked into Srila Guru Maharaj’s room from outside and replied, “Oh, this boy appears to be very nice. I think that by your mercy and grace he will be able to stay and maintain his spiritual life.” I can remember that scene: Rama Didi was wearing white cloth and her age at that time was twenty-nine.
When Krishnamayi Didi’s son and son-in-law both died she was in great distress and came here to take shelter. Her son and myself were both the same age. Krishnamayi Didi saw that Srila Guru Maharaj gave me much affection, therefore she treated me as her son and would always give me much enthusiasm.
She came from a very high family. Both her father’s family and her husband’s family were very high brahmans, but they were smarta, and so none of them liked the Vaisnava Temples. Krishnamayi Didi was previously coming here but hiddenly. Because her family were smarta they did not give her permission to come, but she came anyway. Her family knew Srila Guru Maharaj since childhood as Srila Guru Maharaj was their relative and also came from a very prominent smarta brahman family. Outwardly, therefore, they did not say anything wrong to Krishnamayi Didi, but they expressed their objection in many ways. She did not listen to them, and told, “I have a great Guru, and I cannot leave his lotus feet.”
When her very good son-in-law died she became very distressed and could not remain living in her house. She came to take shelter of Srila Guru Maharaj and offered her house to him. She said to me, “Please sell my house.” I eventually was able to sell it for a good price and, according to her wish, gave the money to Srila Guru Maharaj. He made one small single-roomed bungalow for her to live in. It is known as Rama Dham, and is where she now stays.
The first lady to help Srila Guru Maharaj in the Math was Rama Didi. When she would go to stay with her relatives, Krishnamayi Didi would help to look after Srila Guru Maharaj. It was necessary to cook in a very precise way for Srila Guru Maharaj otherwise he would get a headache. Krishnamayi Didi learnt to cook for him from Rama Didi. We would offer Srila Guru Maharaj her preparations, but after maybe two or three years she herself would take him his prasadam and offer it directly to him.
At that time Srila Guru Maharaj could not see very well. One day Krishnamayi Didi was giving something to Srila Guru Maharaj and by chance her finger and Srila Guru Maharaj’s finger touched. Immediately she paid her obeisances to Srila Guru Maharaj saying, “Oh, I have made a great offence!”
I was there and saw Srila Guru Maharaj smile a little, thinking, “She has acted perfectly.”
Srila Guru Maharaj was becoming old, his pulse and blood pressure were low, and his health was deteriorating. And after that incident Krishnamayi Didi became close in the service to Srila Guru Maharaj.
So from that first situation where no lady could enter his room we have seen how presently Krishnamayi Didi began rendering service to Srila Guru Maharaj, and later Rama Didi and so many others also came and served him in various ways.
Those early days were also very difficult for the devotees. Even Srila Guru Maharaj’s godbrothers would not walk along the veranda outside his room for fear of disturbing him even though they were living in the adjacent room to his quarters. At that time Srila Guru Maharaj was living in the room where Sripad Aranya Maharaj now stays. Mahaprabhu was in the next room, and the devotees occupied the most easterly room.
So, it is necessary to complete the first lesson, the second lesson, and then the third lesson. Only after that can you safely read the fourth lesson—to do otherwise is dangerous. It is necessary to know everything step by step. It is very dangerous if by reading only something anyone will think, “I know everything.” It is necessary to know fully and then someone can say something safely.
Now also, seeing the intention of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Prabhupad, another situation has come: the West and the East are mixing together. So many people from many varied cultures are coming to join Krishna consciousness, and as a result many of the main traditional standards have become relaxed. Seeing Srila Prabhupad’s intention to accommodate everyone it became necessary to change some of the main rules and regulations.
One day Sripad Bhakti Hrday Bon Maharaj brought two Western devotees to the Bag Bazaar Gaudiya Math. They went to bathe at the big cement water tub, but the two of them jumped into that water tank stark naked as everybody watched with surprise. The tank was set beside a wall, and from the opposite side of the wall the neighbours also could see easily, and they objected. A report came to Srila Prabhupad, “Maharaj, they do not know the courtesy of India. Following the custom of their own country they jumped naked into the water tank.”
Hearing this news, Srila Prabhupad replied, “Don’t stop them, that is their habit, but make there a shed so people cannot see but they can play.”
No doubt it was explained to them what is courtesy in India and therefore bathing naked should not be done, but Srila Prabhupad’s thinking was, “Again other Western devotees will come and they also will not know the local customs. For everyone to learn immediately by hearing is not possible, so first a shed should be erected in order to prevent others from being offended, and then we can try to teach the newcomer Westerners.” In this way when the Western and Eastern cultures mixed there has been a relaxation of rules and regulations.
There is another example that many of you have been witness to. One Western lady disciple of Srila Swami Maharaj was staying here. During that time she would daily make some pizza and other offerings for Sripad Jayatirtha Maharaj, but she very much wanted that her offerings be also accepted by Srila Guru Maharaj. Srila Guru Maharaj was from a very high smarta brahman family and that lady was very unhappy and crying because she was unable to offer any preparations to him. Seeing her mood I told her one day, “After Srila Guru Maharaj has taken his bath and completed his japa, bring your offering plate and I shall make some arrangement.”
She came with her plate of pizza, vegetables, and other things, and duly waited. I talked with Srila Guru Maharaj and tried to change his mood in various ways. He was happily awaiting his prasadam and I told him, “Srila Guru Maharaj, this lady is a disciple of Srila Swami Maharaj and she is very auspicious. Every day she makes an offering for Jayatirtha Maharaj and she will be very happy if you will also take something from the preparations she has made.”
He asked what was there and I explained that it was all very acceptable, that she is a disciple of Srila Swami Maharaj and that he could accept her offering. He then asked, “Where is the plate?” and she very happily offered that to Srila Guru Maharaj, and he took a little for her satisfaction.
We have seen Rama Didi fearfully standing outside Srila Guru Maharaj’s room and later we have seen the changed situation of that Western lady devotee offering her cooking to Srila Guru Maharaj, and him accepting it. But whom shall we follow? Shall we follow Gaura Kisor Das Babaji, or Srila Guru Maharaj, or Swami Maharaj, or whom?
One day I was in the Chandrodaya Mandir, Mayapur, in order to deliver an invitation to Srila Swami Maharaj. He was seated on an asan and I was seated opposite him. He was talking very happily with me and he described the activities of his preaching mission in the West by way of a report for Srila Guru Maharaj. At that time a very active and jolly girl came quickly and took something from the shelf behind Srila Swami Maharaj. She was very pretty and Srila Swami Maharaj asked me, “Do you know where I found this girl?” Very loudly he told me, “I collected her from a Hawaiian beach but now she is a very good devotee and is serving nicely, sometimes even serving me personally.”
He told me that she would every day see the devotees giving him a foot massage, but she was very unhappy because she herself was not allowed to do so. He explained, “One day she was crying in front of me, ‘Oh, I want to massage your feet.’ So on that day I gave her my feet and said, ‘Today you massage them.’” In this way Srila Swami Maharaj very happily related this incident.
So we can see that the traditional customs of conduct have changed now. But it was Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Prabhupad who gave us this seed. When there was a proposal to serve non-vegetarian food in order to attract Indian students and Westerners to hear about Mahaprabhu at a student home connected with the Gaudiya Math, Srila Guru Maharaj commented to Srila Prabhupad, “No Maharaj, if you make outside arrangements for the students to take their customary Western food in our student home it will not appear to be good in the eyes of other Indians and they will insult us.”
But Srila Prabhupad replied, “I considered this point one thousand births ago. For the service of Krishna we must be Vaikuntha-vrtti.” Vaikuntha-vrtti means that we can do everything for the service of Krishna. This type of mood is necessary.
But sometimes the devotees misuse that mood. I heard from some devotees that during their preaching activities they were living in a hotel. They rented one room for four persons but, by deceiving the proprietor, eight devotees used that one room along with its facilities. Not only that, but when leaving, they stole the blankets, towels, and other things, saying to themselves that those items are all the property of Krishna. They stole with the conception, “Oh, everything is for the service of Krishna and therefore we can take it.” In this way they misused that principle.
Swami Maharaj said, “Everything belongs to Krishna and is for Krishna, therefore you can do anything for the service of Krishna.” That was his order but they think it also includes stealing. That is misuse. The environment must be maintained so that we shall not disturb others. Without disturbing the rules and others, you can maintain your devotional life: that is the teaching of Mahaprabhu, Srila Swami Maharaj, and Srila Guru Maharaj. Misuse is a disturbance to others. Not only that but they will think the devotees to be thieves. In future they will think in this way and a bad name will come to the devotees. But those devotees were very enthusiastic and did not care about that.
I heard from one lady devotee also a story that an old man showed her a hundred dollar note and asked her to sit and talk with him. He was feeling very lonely and offered her the note. This lady devotee then sat there and after talking only a few words together she snatched that hundred dollar note from his hand and ran away. In this way sometimes many things happen and the collection by the devotees goes in a wrong way.
When a mission is very big it is difficult to prevent some wrong conduct from happening. Where only ten or twenty persons live, the rules and regulations can all be maintained nicely, but where thousands of people live, there must come some breakdown of the rules. No doubt there are basic guidelines, but the devotees are very enthusiastic. They are willing to jump into the poisonous Kaliya Lake expecting Krishna’s protection.
Bhakti Vinod Thakur said,
raksa karabi tuhu̐ nischaya jani
pana karabu̐ hama yamuna-pani
“I can easily drink the poisonous water of the Yamuna because I know that Krishna must protect me.” In this way enthusiasm first comes. Utsahan nischayad dhairyat. This is one of the first symptoms of devotion.
Utsaha-mayi, ghana-tarala, vyudha-vikalpa, visaya-sangara, niyamaksama, taranga-rangini: many kinds of nature come in the practitioner’s life. The first life is utsaha, they become very enthusiastic and sometimes do some wrong. It is necessary to gain understanding gradually, then less difficulty will come. It is impossible for us to know everything, and no doubt some difficulty must come, but in the proper way we shall try to know what is devotional life, and in that way less difficulty will come to us.
Srila Guru Maharaj always told that we need a living representative in order to harmonise and adjust things for time and place. In other words, we always need a guardian.
From a lecture by His Divine Grace
Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj
You joined the Krishna consciousness movement in the last chapter of Srila Guru Maharaj’s Pastimes, therefore you did not hear actually three fourths, but what you heard was the last chapter, the final chapter. Before reading other lessons, if you read the final lesson, that can sometimes be very harmful to digest. After reading the first lesson, the second lesson, and the third lesson, then you can read the fourth lesson. But by the time the Western devotees came to Srila Guru Maharaj, he could not wait and therefore he expressed his fourth lesson. For example:
He expressed the explanation of the gayatri-mantram which previously no one had done widely.
I have been with Srila Guru Maharaj for many years and I know his nature. Therefore I queried humbly, “Why are you expressing the gayatri-mantram interpretation? We have not seen this distributed anywhere. The previous Acharyas have not given it. My thought is that it is not necessary to broadcast this. Why are you giving it?”
Srila Guru Maharaj smiled and said, “Firstly, it has come in my heart and I cannot check myself. Secondly, if I do not give it, then I am thinking that nobody will be effective in giving it in the future. In the past it has not been given, and if in the future it will not be given, then I must give what I have now. You may control how it is published, but I must express my heart.” In this way Srila Guru Maharaj gave the explanation of the gayatri-mantram to the world. But that is the last chapter of his manifest Pastimes, and all the devotees know it. Also you will not find that explanation given anywhere previously in any chapter of any of the other Acharyas including Rupa Goswami and Sanatan Goswami. I heard from Srila Guru Maharaj that maybe Jiva Goswami gave some essence of that gayatri explanation but Srila Guru Maharaj had not seen that. Recently I did find it given in Jiva Goswami’s writings, but there he gives only a hint of the meaning.
Srila Guru Maharaj’s conception is very high, and he gave that gayatri explanation in the last chapter of his life. But it is also necessary to know his previous presentation. We can receive that from his book Sri Sri Prapanna-jivanamrtam. We must take this scripture into our hearts and then we shall be able to understand the other things. The first stage for us has been given by Srila Guru Maharaj there. Everything is there, including the very highest things, but mainly there is one theme: surrender—saranagati. The first thing is saranagati.
The fully surrendered soul can understand everything, and this is shown in Sri Sri Prapanna-jivanamrtam with many examples. If we shall think in that way, and try to proceed in that way, then no problem will come to us. And in his last manifest Pastimes Srila Guru Maharaj gave, amongst other things, his Rg mantram explanation of gayatri.
In the middle stage is Srila Guru Maharaj’s Srimad Bhagavad-gita explanation. In Srimad Bhagavad-gita there are some sections in particular where Srila Guru Maharaj gave high explanations. There are many slokas in Srimad Bhagavad-gita, but some are especially worthy of mention, such as verses 9.30–31, 10.9, and 10.10. One time Srila Guru Maharaj was discussing at length verses such as these with Srila Swami Maharaj and Srila Jajavar Maharaj. At that time Achyutananda Prabhu and Ramanuja Prabhu were there and they heard their Bengali conversation going on very happily, and for hour after hour. Srila Guru Maharaj and Srila Swami Maharaj talked together for maybe two or three hours and then Swami Maharaj returned to his quarters. He was staying in our Math’s blue guesthouse at that time. Then Achyutananda Prabhu asked Srila Swami Maharaj, “Prabhupad, what were you all talking about so happily and for so long? What was that subject matter?”
Srila Swami Maharaj replied, “If you were to hear even the gist of that, you would faint, therefore it is not necessary for you to know!”
Hearing such subject matters Jajavar Maharaj wanted to stop Srila Guru Maharaj from speaking further.
Lastly Sri Ramananda Ray expressed his own high explanation that is not expressively found in the scriptures:
pahilehi raga nayana-bhange bhela
anudina badhala, avadhi na gela
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 8.194)
While he was expressing that Bengali poetry, Mahaprabhu interrupted, “Hold your tongue, it is not necessary to express more.” And we also saw that Jajavar Maharaj wanted to hold Srila Guru Maharaj’s tongue: “Maharaj, don’t say any more. You please stop.” This we have seen, and it is part of the last lila of Srila Guru Maharaj.
Srila Guru Maharaj expressed to me, “Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Prabhupad gave me the property and Nityananda Prabhu ordered me: ‘You must try to give this to others’, therefore lastly I am trying to do so. Also others including Chandi Das, Vidyapati, and Narottam Thakur expressed some high conceptions. Who is able to understand shall understand it in future, but what I have I want to express now.” That was Srila Guru Maharaj’s desire and in that way he gave such high conceptions. But if someone will try to read the fourth lesson without first reading from the beginning the first, second, and third lessons then that will be very hard and that also can be harmful.
When I tried, by the order of Srila Guru Maharaj, to read the Hari-namamrta-vyakarana in order to learn Sanskrit, there was one book, Amara-kosa, the meaning of which I could not understand. Nobody can understand its meaning at first because it is only a book of words—a selection of words. It lists the main names of Visnu, of Indra, and so many main alternative names of others. Everything in heaven has so many names, not just a single name, and Srila Guru Maharaj instructed me, “You must memorise it otherwise you will not be able to write or read Sanskrit as you will not be able to understand its meaning.” To only memorise names without any meanings is very hard for me, but those first lessons are necessary. Yesterday I saw that book and was reminded of this.
Therefore it is necessary to complete the first lesson, the second lesson, and the third lesson, then it is possible to understand the fourth lesson. Srila Guru Maharaj gave those first three lessons in Sri Sri Prapanna-jivanamrtam as well as the fourth. If you read this book carefully, you will get everything.
Srila Guru Maharaj has given there the meaning of saranagati, in particular in this following sloka:
bhagavad-bhaktitah sarvam ity utsrjya vidher api
kainkaryam krsna-padaikasrayatvam saranagatih
[“Being governed by the faith that all success is achieved by serving the Supreme Lord, to abandon servitude to even scriptural injunctions and take exclusive refuge in the lotus feet of Sri Krishna in every time, place, and circumstance, is known as saranagati, unconditional surrender.”]
What is saranagati? It is Bhagavad-bhaktitah sarvam: it is not even necessary to serve any other god or demigod; through only the service to Krishna we can get everything. Therefore we must take shelter at the lotus feet of Krishna. Service to Krishna can give us everything and this type of faith is called saranagati. If you can memorise one sloka and put that in your heart, then from this one sloka you will get everything given in any scripture.
I tried before to know in one sentence what is saranagati. We know that saranagati is surrender, but that is not sufficient. Therefore I asked Srila Guru Maharaj. He replied, “Have you not read Prapanna-jivanamrtam?”
I said, “Yes Maharaj, I have, but is the explanation there?” Then he quoted this same sloka, and this is the main thing.
Devotee: I heard that Srila Guru Maharaj explained the difference between saranagati and atma-nivedanam. Please explain to us what that difference is.
Srila Govinda Maharaj: There are six kinds of saranagati. In Prapanna-jivanamrtam this is explained and in each case there are examples and expressions of the feelings of other devotees. If you read this book you can understand. There Srila Guru Maharaj explains the subject very clearly and very nicely.
Devotee: What is the meaning of atma-nivedanam?
Srila Govinda Maharaj: The following verse describes the six kinds of symptoms of saranagati. Atma-niksepa means atma-nivedanam.
anukulyasya sankalpah pratikulya-vivarjanam
raksisyatiti visvaso goptrtve varanam tatha
atma-niksepa karpanye sad-vidha saranagatih
[The six limbs of surrender are:
1) To accept everything favourable for devotion to Krishna.
2) To reject everything unfavourable for devotion to Krishna.
3) To be confident that Krishna will grant His protection.
4) To embrace Krishna’s guardianship.
5) To offer one’s self unto Him.
6) To consider oneself lowly and bereft.]
Devotee: What about nava-vidha bhakti, the nine principle forms of devotion?
Srila Govinda Maharaj: There are nine kinds of devotional practices: sravanam, kirtanam, Visnoh smaranam, pada-sevanam, archanam, vandanam, dasyam, sakhyam, and atma-nivedanam [Hearing and chanting the glories of the Lord, constantly remembering the Lord, serving the Lord’s lotus feet, serving Him as a servant, worshipping Him, offering prayers, serving Him as a friend, and completely offering the Lord one’s very self.] They are also included in saranagati, unconditional self-surrender. But saranagati is the first thing—and saranagati is the last thing. If you want to enter into transcendental knowledge, you must first take shelter of saranagati. This is the first lesson and this is the last lesson.
Everything is covered in this book Prapanna-jivanamrtam, and if you read it minutely you must stand in the plane of dedication. Many examples are given there from the scriptures as well as from the devotees’ lives. It is divided into the six kinds of saranagati, part by part. It is a very valuable and nice book, no doubt, and everything is there including this verse spoken by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu:
naham vipro na cha nara-patir napi vaisyo na sudro
naham varni na cha grha-patir no vana-stho yatir va
gopi-bhartuh pada-kamalayor dasa-dasanudasah
[“I am not a priest, a king, a merchant, or labourer (brahman, ksatriya, vaisya, or sudra); nor am I a student, a householder, a retired householder, or a mendicant (brahmachari, grhastha, vanaprastha, or sannyasi). I identify myself only as the servant of the servant of the servant of the lotus feet of Sri Krishna, the Lord of the gopis, who is the personification of the fully expanded (eternally self-revealing) nectarean ocean that brims with the totality of divine ecstasy.”]
Devotee: Is it necessary to have gone through Srimad Bhagavad-gita, Srimad Bhagavatam, and Chaitanya-charitamrta before reading Prapanna-jivanamrtam?
Srila Govinda Maharaj: No, it is not necessary. This is the first book of reading—and this is the last book of reading. Srimad Bhagavad-gita is also no doubt the first book of reading and the last book of reading, but there are many things there mixed in with bhakti.
In Prapanna-jivanamrtam is found only bhakti, and nothing else. But in the Gita is some description about karma, yoga, jnan, and many other things; that is why everybody likes Srimad Bhagavad-gita. The karmis like it, the terrorists like Gita, the yogis like Gita, Mahatma Gandhi liked it, Jawaharlal liked it—everybody likes Bhagavad-gita. The reason is that they each receive something from it to fulfil their own purpose. But in Sri Sri Prapanna-jivanamrtam whatever is included is only for the purpose of devotion: the relationship between Krishna and the jiva. It is a very pure devotional book.
Srila Swami Maharaj said to his sister, “This Prapanna-jivanamrtam is a very important and nice book. You have money, so please you spend some money for the printing of this Prapanna-jivanamrtam.” Her name was Bhavini Didi. We called her Pishima or ‘Madan’s Mother’ and it was she who subsequently gave the money for the first printing.
Another of the very high type of slokas there, is the following verse by Sri Kulasekhar:
nastha dharme na vasu-nichaye naiva kamopabhoge
yad yad bhavyam bhavatu bhagavan purva-karmanurupam
etat prarthyam mama bahu-matam janma-janmantare ’pi
tvat padambhoruha-yuga-gata nischala bhaktir astu
[“O Lord, I have no faith in religion, economic development, or sense enjoyment. May all these come to pass as they are ordained according to my previous karma. My earnest prayer is that birth after birth I may have unflinching devotion to Your lotus feet.”]
It is not very difficult to understand what Krishna-bhakti is, but what is necessary is the mood of surrender. If you surrender then you can understand everything. But if you do not fully surrender, then many difficulties will come. There is no difficulty for the surrendered soul.
manifest and revealed by His Divine Grace
Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj
gayatri muralista-kirtana-dhanam radha-padam dhimahi
Srila Guru Maharaj composed this verse, and only he is able to. I have never seen in any book from Mahaprabhu’s time right up to Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur’s time the type of explanation of gayatri as given by Srila Guru Maharaj. Actually, Mahaprabhu is our parent, and the seeds came from Krishna. Madhavendra Puri was the sprout of those seeds, Mahaprabhu was the actual tree, and the fruits are Rupa Goswami, Sanatan Goswami, and others. Srila Guru Maharaj is also in the line of the fruits. It is not that the persons are the fruits, but what they gave are the fruits of Mahaprabhu’s conception.
Om is the very gist of gayatri, and from that Om come merciful rays like the rays of the sun. Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, where always sankirtan is going on, is inside the flute of Krishna, and from there comes this sound ‘Om’. Om, the meaning of gayatri, is coming from Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, and from here the explanation of gayatri has been given by Srila Guru Maharaj:
gayatri muralista-kirtana-dhanam radha-padam dhimahi
The position of Srila Guru Maharaj is like water; and the servitors of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math are like lotuses; and the position of the worshipful Supreme Personality of Godhead is the Divine Form of Radha-Krishna—Om. Everything is within Om. Om is coming from the flute of Krishna, and the meaning of Om, of gayatri, is, gayatri muralista-kirtana-dhanam Radha-padam dhimahi. Krishna’s flute does not make any other tune except the glorification of Srimati Radharani, and that is the real meaning and gist of the gayatri mantram.
The sun’s merciful rays give nourishment to the lotus, but if there is no water then the lotus must become burnt by the rays of the sun.
The flute is the special symbol of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math. Before we adopted the flute as our symbol, it was not to be found anywhere. Now many others also have copied this, but it first came from here, Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math. What is the song of the flute? It is the glorification of Srimati Radharani by Sri Krishna, and this is depicted in the logo of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math.