[This year, February 24 is the disappearance day of the Founder-Ācārya of Śrī Caitanya Gauḍīya Maṭha, Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Dayita Mādhava Gosvāmī Mahārāja, the beloved spiritual master of Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Vijñāna Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja. The following is in excerpt from ‘Volcanic Energy’, a book by Śrīla Mahārāja about the glories of his guru-pādapadma.]
ACCEPTING NOTHING FOR HIMSELF
Once, Guru Mahārāja preached in Amritsar accompanied by twenty devotees, including Śrī Bhakti Vallabha Tīrtha Mahārāja, Śrī Bhakti Prasāda Purī Mahārāja, Śrī Ghanaśyāma Brahmacārī, myself and a number of our godbrothers.
Lālā Śrī Viśana dāsa, who was the greatest contributor to the construction of the Śrī Durgiyānā mandira in Amritsar, had arranged for our accommodation, prasāda and whatever else Guru Mahārāja and his party required. He introduced us to a milk vendor and said, “He will provide whatever milk you may require in both the morning and evening.” He then introduced us to a grocer and said, “Whatever you may need—be it rice, pulses, flour, ghee or anything else—please do not hesitate to ask him. He will provide you with whatever you need.”
Guru Mahārāja later told us in private, “We are bhikṣukas (mendicants). We should never ask for or accept anything for our own use. In fact, we are sādhus, or persons who are fully dependent upon sat-vastu Śrī Bhagavān and follow the principle of ‘yatheccha lābhe santoṣa—being completely satisfied with whatever comes of its own accord by the desire of Śrī Bhagavān.’ Additionally, ‘tat-kṛpāvalokanam—sādhus see His mercy in every situation,’ and therefore a preaching sādhu should never ask for anything for himself.
“Above all, a sādhu preacher should not stay in the home of a gṛhastha. However, if he is circumstantially compelled to stay in the home of a gṛhastha, he should do so in a most disciplined manner and strictly maintain the Vaiṣṇava etiquette befitting a renunciate. He should remain satisfied with whatever the gṛhastha devotee provides according to his capacity and of his own sweet will. If out of extreme necessity the preaching sādhu should require anything beyond what his gṛhastha host is capable of providing, he should request money from the bhaṇḍārī, or āśramī, [Endnote 1] of the maṭha before departing on his journey, and purchase whatever is needed with that money. He should remain fervently careful that others do not find his activities to be objectionable or disgraceful. Therefore, ask neither the milk vendor nor the grocer for anything. All that we need will become available by the mercy of śrī guru, Vaiṣṇavas and Bhagavān. If any of you need anything additional, then you can ask me for the money to purchase it. Although our host has told us to ask for whatever we desire, still, I will feel great shame if anyone accepts anything for his own use.
Following Guru Mahārāja’s order, none of us asked for anything from either the milk vendor or the grocer. But when the milk vendor became increasingly insistent, we agreed to daily accept five liters of milk. Lālā Śrī Viśana dāsa, however, instructed the milk vendor to forcibly give us twenty liters. When Guru Mahārāja came to know we were accepting twenty liters of milk a day, he chastised us. When we informed Guru Mahārāja that we asked for nothing, but rather Lālā Śrī Viśan Dāsa instructed the milk vendor to give us twenty liters of milk, Guru Mahārāja said, “Okay, fine. Cook khīra daily with that milk, and I will offer it to Ṭhākura-jī. Every evening, we will distribute that khīra to the audience after hari-kathā.” We prepared khīra daily and Guru Mahārāja happily distributed the prasāda to the audience every night.
After the Amritsar program had concluded and we continued on to another program at a different location, Lālā Śrī Viśan Dāsa told others, “The devotees stayed at my place here for fifteen days, but I did not incur any costs. First of all, they did not want to take anything. Then, even when I offered, they would not accept anything. When finally, I forcibly gave them something, they distributed it to everyone. They are truly uninterested in accepting anything for themselves, whether for immediate or later use. Many other visiting sādhus often ask for us to provide them with supplies for their journey, but Śrī Mādhava Mahārāja and his travelling sādhus were uninterested in accepting supplies for themselves even while they were staying here. What, then, can be said of their interest in collecting things to take with them?”
When Guru Mahārāja manifested his disappearance pastime, Lālā Śrī Viśana dāsa published an article in a local Amritsar newspaper informing all about Guru Mahārāja’s physical disappearance from this world. He wrote, “Throughout my lifetime, I have received darśana of many sādhus who have visited Amritsar to speak hari-kathā and perform kīrtana, but despite their best efforts, none of them could hide their faults from my astute perceptiveness. Śrī Bhakti Dayita Mādhava Gosvāmī Mahārāja was the only great soul who exhibited an absolutely spotless (bedāga) character during his visit in Amritsar. He was, in the truest sense, a sādhu. What to speak of me, even the most wicked of persons would be unable to detect any fault in his divine character.”
Śrī Murāri Lāl Vāsudeva of Punjab National Bank used to accompany Lālā Śrī Viśan Dāsa to hear Guru Mahārāja’s hari-kathā and kīrtana. He, along with his four sons, had personally served Guru Mahārāja and observed his conduct very closely.
After Guru Mahārāja entered aprākṛta-līlā, Śrī Raghunātha dāsa, one of the sons of Śrī Murāri Lāl Vāsudeva, moved to Mumbai. There, he invited some preaching devotees to visit his home for some days. As soon as the devotees entered his house, a few of them demanded a few items, including two dozen bars of Dove brand soap. Śrī Raghunātha dāsa then phoned my godbrother Śrī Bhakti Prasāda Purī Mahārāja and asked, “Mahārāja-jī, please confirm whether or not these preachers have been sent by Śrī Caitanya Gauḍīya Maṭha. Perhaps they are independently travelling here and there to fulfil their own selfish motives in the name of preaching and helping the whole world find ‘welfare.’ ”
Śrī Purī Mahārāja asked, “What makes you suspect they have not been sent by Śrī Caitanya Gauḍīya Maṭha?”
Śrī Raghunātha dāsa replied, “When our respected Guru Mahārāja-jī, Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Dayita Mādhava Gosvāmī Mahārāja, came to Amritsar, all the brahmacārīs and sannyāsīs accompanying him never accepted anything for themselves, even after being requested many times. Instead, they always insisted they required nothing. But the devotees visiting my home today have deceitfully presented themselves as penniless and have presented a long list of demands. Their instructing tone smacks of self-righteousness and implies they feel themselves to be doing us a great favor by staying with us.”
Śrī Bhakti Prasāda Purī Mahārāja then chastised the devotees and reminded them of their duty to follow Guru Mahārāja’s ideal conduct of being an uttama-sevaka, a topmost servant, which is helpful in successfully spreading the teachings of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
A person who collects and stores all the ingredients necessary for serving Śrī Bhagavān and His devotees, and also manages the affairs of a maṭha or āśrama.