About Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Vijñāna Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja,
affectionately addressed as 'Śrīla Mahārāja'
Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Vijñāna Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja made his divine appearance in this world in a Cakravartī brāhmana family (Bharadvāja gotra) on the auspicious day of Śayana Ekādaśī in Sītā-Rāmapura village of Bankurā district, West Bengal on July 21, 1926.
Few disciples of Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Vicāra Yāyāvara Gosvāmī Mahārāja, residing at Śrī Śyāmānanda Gauḍīya Maṭha, Medinīpura, would regularly collect alms from the village where Śrīla Mahārāja was working as a teacher. Encouraged by them, Śrīla Mahārāja began frequenting Śrī Śyāmānanda Gauḍīya Maṭha for darśanas and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam discourses from the year 1944. There Śrīla Mahārāja met one of the foremost disciples of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Dayita Mādhava Gosvāmī Mahārāja, who he would later accept as his spiritual master.
After years of interaction, having developed affectionate relationship with Śrīla Mādhava Gosvāmī Mahārāja, Śrīla Mahārāja left home in 1955 to reside at the newly established Śrī Caitanya Gauḍīya Maṭha, at Kolkata, fully surrendering in service of Śrī Hari, guru and Vaiṣṇavas. That same year, he was awarded harīnāma and dīksā on Śayana Ekādaśī, and was given the name Śrī Narottama dāsa brahmacāri.
Śrī Narottama dāsa was given the opportunity to intimately serve many direct disciples of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura (Śrīla Prabhupāda), as a result of which he received their affection and profuse blessings to realize the deep truths of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava siddhānta. Taking note of Śrī Narottama dāsa’s unyielding dedication and mood of service, Śrīla Mādhava Gosvāmī Mahārāja awarded him sannyāsa in 1969, and the name Śrī Bhakti Vijñāna Bhāratī Mahārāja.
Having profound confidence in Śrīla Mahārāja’s abilities, Śrīla Mādhava Gosvāmī Mahārāja entrusted him with many critical assignments such as managing the Maṭha’s Vraja-maṇḍala and Navadvīpa-dhāma parikramās, escorting pilgrims to North and South India, arranging pradarśanīs (exhibitions), preaching across India and overseeing the construction of most of Śrī Caitanya Gauḍīya Maṭha’s branches, also appointing him Assistant Secretary of Śrī Caitanya Gauḍīya Maṭha, and conferring upon him the title ‘Sevā-vigraha,’ along with a certificate that described him as anālasya (never lazy) and sadā-satarka (always alert).
After the disappearance of Śrīla Mādhava Gosvāmī Mahārāja, Śrīla Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja untiringly served as the Secretary of Śrī Caitanya Gauḍīya Maṭha for about twenty-five years.
Śrīla Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja is renowned amongst Sārasvata Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava community for his contribution towards the sampradāyika-sevā of translating, from Bengali to Hindi, Śrīla Vṛndāvana dāsa Ṭhākura’s ‘Śrī Caitanya-bhāgavata’ (with the commentary of Śrīla Prabhupāda), and Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī’s ‘Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta’ (with the commentaries of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and Śrīla Prabhupāda).
Śrīla Mahārāja was a veteran amongst the eleventh generation of descendants in the bhāgavata-paramparā coming from Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and was greatly respected for his unique realizations and vast depth of knowledge. He was especially known for his encyclopaedic knowledge of Gauḍīya Maṭha history and his firm faith in Vaiṣṇava-sevā.
Śrīla Mahārāja regarded glorifying and serving Vaiṣṇavas and non-sectarianism as the greatest assets for spiritual advancement. He unfailingly checked his panjikā (Vaiṣṇava calendar) daily to ensure that he did not miss glorifying Vaiṣṇavas on their appearance or disappearance days. He would firmly assert that it is the duty of every devotee to follow this practice, failing which constitutes an offence.
In Śrīla Mahārāja’s association, one would experience a deep sense of appreciation and attachment for Bhaktivinoda dhārā and all the predecessor ācāryas. His mood brought one closer to the spiritual family of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura. Śrīla Mahārāja witnessed four generations during his devotional lifespan and thus served as a vital link to connect us back to the spiritual roots of Gauḍīya Maṭha, especially the mood with which his guru-varga served and preached. His unique calling was to preserve, protect and preach the legacy and gravity of the precept and teachings of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura and his dear associates.
Śrīla Mahārāja’s hari-kathā is replete with fascinating anecdotes coupled with his astonishing ability, even in his advanced age, to draw from his vast memory bank, the most relevant passages of the Vedic texts. His rich insights compel one to see things in a fresh perspective. His profound yet simplistic manner of addressing queries left one spiritually nourished.
After years of selfless and uninterrupted service to the mission of his Gurudeva, Śrīla Mahārāja accepted upon himself the grave responsibility of an initiating ācārya (as service to his guru-varga), and founded the mission ‘Viśuddha Caitanya-vāṇī Pracāra Kendra’, to carry on the legacy of Ṭhākura Bhaktivinoda, as preached by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura and his dear associates.
Despite his advanced age, Śrīla Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja continued to preach viśuddha caitanya-vāṇī—the supremely pure teachings of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu— without any concern or complaint regarding hardships, physical or otherwise. Out of his endless compassion, Śrīla Mahārāja blessed all sincere practitioners who sought association by imprinting the impressions of associating with a genuine sādhu upon their hearts.
On September 5, 2017, on the auspicious disappearance day of Nāmācārya Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura and the tithi of Ananta Caturdaśī, Śrīla Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja entered the eternal pastimes of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa at 12.28 pm, amidst the chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra by hundreds of devotees, in a very peaceful atmosphere. Thereafter, he entered sāmādhī in Māyāpura on September 6, 2017. Although he has left our external vision, he continues to live through his vāṇī. May he continue to shower his mercy upon all of us.