For the occasion of Śrīla Mahārāja’s āvirbhāva tithi, Śayana Ekādaśī, a two day festival was organized at Śrī Gopīnātha Gauḍīya Maṭha, Purī. About 700 devotees attended the festival on both the days. One day prior to his āvirbhāva tithi Śrīla Mahārāja arrived at Śrī Gopīnātha Gauḍīya Maṭha and stayed there for three days. During those three days the essence of what Śrīla Mahārāja spoke is as follows –
GURU MAHĀRĀJA’S MERCY ON A FALLEN PERSON LIKE ME
“On the occasion of the āvirbhāva tithi of this fallen person, so many Vaiṣṇavas have come to bestow their blessings; I consider this as my greatest fortune. My physical state is impaired, so much so that now I am even incapable of going for darśana (audience) of Vaiṣṇavas by myself. Yet, unable to restrain my greed to obtain the mercy of Vaiṣṇavas, I have come here even in this state to be among you all. Earlier I would walk with the help of a stick, later by putting my arm around the shoulder of a servant, but now what to speak of ascending the stairs, I can’t even go from my bed to the bathroom by myself. Two servants have to lift me up to take me around, regardless of where I go.
In reality, instead of giving my introduction in my own words, let me introduce myself through the words of my guru-varga, Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā, 5.205-206):
jagāi mādhāi haite muñi se pāpiṣṭha purīṣera kīṭa haite muñi se laghiṣṭha
“I am more sinful than Jagāi and Mādhāi and even lower than the worms in the stool.”
mora nāma śune yei tāra puṇya kṣaya mora nāma laya yei tāra pāpa haya
“Anyone who hears my name loses the results of his pious activities. Anyone who utters my name becomes sinful”
After introducing himself in this way, Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī has said while describing the glories of Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu,
emana nirghṛṇa more kebā kṛpā kare eka nityānanda vinu jagat bhitare
“Who in this world but Nityānanda could show His mercy to such an abominable person as me?”
In the same way, who else can be as merciful as the prakāśa vigraha of that Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu, in other words, the non-different form of Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu, my gurupāda-padma, Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Dayita Mādhava Gosvāmī Mahārāja, who during the initial days of my maṭha-vāsa, to cut the hard knots in my heart, despite himself being most worshipable as well as the object of my service, had made arrangements for so many facilities for a conditioned soul like myself. Replete with the compassion of a guardian (vātsalya), Guru Mahārāja nurtured me in every way just like his offspring, by engaging me in various services. Being devoid of seeing faults in others, simply by focusing on my insignificant qualities, on that foundation, he inspired me to march forward on the path of devotion. ‘bhrutaśya paśyati guruṇāpi nāparādhān’, in other words, by adhering to the policy of not seeing any faults of the servitor, Guru Mahārāja did not fall short of compassionately awarding all kinds of services to an unqualified and offensive person like myself.
COMPELLED TO TAKE AN ELEVATED SEAT
“Although all you Vaiṣṇavas are seated on the floor and I have taken an elevated seat, that doesn’t mean that I am senior to you all and consequently you all are junior to me and that I am the object of your service and you are my servants.
I am not so unwise to haughtily take an elevated seat while making all the Vaiṣṇavas and my guru-varga, the non-different manifestation of Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu, sit below, but I am only circumstantially compelled to do so. Even then, I am not crestfallen due to this, because, once during the time of Śrī Navadvīpa-dhāma-parikramā, I was appointed to carry around the Deity of Śrīman Mahāprabhu in my hands. When Guru Maharaja sat with many other disciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda, he asked me to sit ahead of everyone holding the Deity of Śrīman Mahāprabhu. Seeing my hesitating, Guru Mahārāja told me, “Garuḍa serves by staying above, Hanumānjī serves by being at the feet, Yaśodā serves Kṛṣṇa by twisting His ears, cowherd boys serve Kṛṣṇa by climbing on His shoulders and gopīs serve Kṛṣṇa by making Him massage their feet. Therefore in the realm of devotion, in the realm of love, there are many types of services. That is why, for the objective of service, if you have to sit ahead of us, or behind us, above us, below us, or if you have to give us something or take something from us, in any condition do not hesitate in the slightest bit. Instead, give service the utmost precedence every time.”
I AM PRAYING FOR YOUR BLESSINGS
Hence, despite taking an elevated seat, I, who got trained up in his [Guru Mahārāja’s] teachings and who considers his ideal as the topmost, am desirous of serving you all by receiving your blessings and fulfilling your innermost desire. Due to the limitation of physical capability, I will accept your blessings by sitting on a higher level.
Therefore I have firm faith that for me - who has forgotten Kṛṣṇa, being bahirmukha [those who are trying to be happy by adjustment of this material energy] from beginning-less time, and who am the lowest, constantly afflicted by the pangs of material miseries awarded by māyā [the illusory energy of Bhagavān] - my param-bāndhava [bosom friends] Vaiṣṇavas, who are a manifestation of Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu and who remind one of Guru-Vaiṣṇavas-Bhagavān, will not deprive me of their blessings seeing me seated higher. I specifically pray to them that they, being pleased, bless me that until the last moment of my life, life after life, I keep serving the devotees and Bhagavān; let my heart not wander anywhere even for one muhūrta [approximately one hour and thirty six minutes] aside from their service, because their service itself is topmost.
All those who have become the servants of Prabhu as well as those who will become in the future – by holding a straw between my teeth, in other words, realizing that I have simply passed my life like a witless beast only for the sake of sense gratification like eating and so on - you all are my deliverers, praying thus to Bhagavān, I offer my salutations unto the feet of everyone. By meditating on these words, prostrating myself, I beg for everyone’s mercy.
AN OPPORTUNITY TO SERVE
I am even incapable of offering sāṣṭāṅga or pañcāṅga praṇāma, still as per the words of this verse from the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam ‘kāyena vācā manasendriyair vā buddhyātmanā vānusṛta-svabhāvāt karoti yad yat sakalaṁ parasmai nārāyaṇāyeti samarpayet tat’ [In accordance with the particular nature one has acquired in conditioned life, whatever one does with body, words, mind, senses, intelligence or purified consciousness one should offer to the Supreme, thinking, “This is for the pleasure of Lord Nārāyaṇa.”], despite not being in the position to serve with my body, I am dedicating my mind, words, senses, intelligence and citta (unconscious mind) to the goal of love for the Vaiṣṇavas.
On this tithi despite my desire to serve the Vaiṣṇavas, due to the lack of any place and manpower, I became infused with enthusiasm by the temple presidents, Śrī Gopīnātha Dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja and Śrī Vaṁśīvadana Prabhu of Śrī Gopīnātha Gauḍīya Maṭha and Śrī Dāmodara Gauḍīya Maṭha (situated nearby) respectively. Making both of them instruments, Guru Mahārāja bestowed upon me the wonderful opportunity of Vaiṣṇava sevā.
OBEISANCES TO ALL THOSE WHO ARE SERVING
Secondly, it is not that only when service is rendered in great quantity that it is considered as great service. For victory over Laṅkā, when the bridge was being built by Rāma, just as the extensive service rendered by Hanumān and the other monkeys was noticed by Lord Rāma, similarly the insignificant service rendered by a squirrel also successfully attracted the Lord’s attention, although it went unnoticed by others. Therefore service is a feeling of the heart and not an external exhibition. If service is rendered in exchange [of something], it is not considered service.
In this assembly there are many such devotees present who not only perform many services themselves but also get many services done through the medium of many people who have neither interacted with me nor have I interacted with them even once in my life. These devotees despite externally appearing as my disciples, due to their service inclination, are performing the function of being my guru.
Whosoever’s name I could, or I could not recall, due to the weakening of retention power, I express my appreciation towards all of them and I thank all of them. By body, mind, wealth, by bestowing enthusiasm, whosoever has helped me in any capacity, I befittingly offer my obeisances to everyone and worship their feet.
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.