“When I was eight years old, my father made all the arrangements for my upanayana saṁskāra (sacred thread ceremony). That day, at home, there was a festive atmosphere. Before the ceremony, a new razor was placed in the barber’s hand, who for some time simulated as if he was cutting my hair, until finally, he actually shaved it off. The following morning, I was taken to the river to bathe, accompanied by a band of musicians. Śehnāī (a tubular woodwind flute-like instrument which gradually broadens towards the end) players were seated outside my house. When I returned from bathing, my old clothes were offered to the barber as per the prevalent custom. After dressing me in a yellow dhotī and uttarīya (upper cloth), I was seated on a wooden slab in a place resembling a maṇḍapa (pavilion). At that time, the priest arrived to make me recite the mantras. Prior to me, two other young boys were made to recite the mantras. Those boys quickly recited them and had their upanayana saṁskāra completed. When my turn came, the priest told me, “I will recite the mantra, and you keep saying, ‘Bāḍhaṁ-bāḍhaṁ’ in response, in other words, 'All right! All right! I will follow. I accept it.’”
Initially, I complied. But when the priest recited the mantra “mā diva svāmi—I will never rest during the day,” I did not say, “Bāḍhaṁ-bāḍhaṁ.” Then the priest and other seniors present urged, “Say ‘Bāḍhaṁ!”
I said, “I am just a child as of now, so I won’t sleep during the day, but what if, at a later date, I become unwell or for some other reason, have to rest during the day? Secondly, my father has always taught me never to take a vow in front of fire, demigods, gurujanas (authority figures), priests, etc. if I cannot maintain it. How, then, can I say ‘Bāḍhaṁ-bāḍhaṁ?’”
The priest replied, “Fine then, you utter, ‘yathā jñāna karo vāme’, or, ‘consciously, to the extent possible, I will certainly follow.’” Then I began to utter in that particular manner. After that, the priest said, “I will never bathe by diving in the water.” Again, I denied uttering “Bāḍhaṁ” Then, again, the purohita had to adopt the solution mentioned above, in order to move on to the next mantra.
In this way, my sacred thread ceremony was very much delayed, and as a result, many people began to complain about the consequent delay in honoring the feast. Nevertheless, with the exception of a few, everyone unanimously and heartily praised me. Now, I realize that because of the impressions received from my parents in this birth as well as those from my previous births, I never readily accepted anything at face value. I would not accept until I could internalize those statements within my conscience after sieving them through the lens of logic, argument and scriptural evidence.
The ‘Remembrance in Separation’ series, dedicated to Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Vijñāna Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja, was first published in Sri Sri Bhagavata Patrika in Hindi in the year 2018. The series unfolded over three volumes (Year 14, Volume 9-10, 10-11, 11-12).
Now, we are presenting the English translation of this in the form of a series of articles released in www.vcvani.com.
Since it covers a brief sketch of Śrīla Mahārāja’s life and precepts from childhood to his final pastimes, this series will be unfolded from now until his tirobhava tithi.