Service in Separation
Genuine concern for the wellbeing of all
Guru Mahārāja used to serve Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Sambandha Turyāśramī Gosvāmī Mahārāja, a disciple of Śrīla Prabhupāda, by sending him money every month. Once, Śrīla Turyāśramī Gosvāmī Mahārāja sent a letter to Guru Mahārāja from Jesaur, Baḍadiyā, in former East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), requesting him to send the money to a person in Bairākapura who would then bring it to him.
Without disclosing this to anyone, Guru Mahārāja would send money to him through me every month. There were many other devotees about whom Guru Mahārāja was always very concerned and whom Guru Mahārāja would always serve by sending whatever they required. Some of these devotees I never met in my life, nor did I ever witness them visiting Guru Mahārāja. Still, Guru Mahārāja, absorbed in some internal mood unknown to others, would always remain engaged in such services. It is absolutely impossible for anyone to comprehend or draw any conclusion about his divine activities unless one attains the same elevated citta vṛtti, or consciousness, he possessed.
Fulfilling the promise of Śrīla Prabhupāda
When Śrīla Prabhupāda once performed a deity installation in Sarbhog, Assam, the huge crowd that gathered to have his darśana appeared like an endless procession of ants. Observing the scriptural etiquette that one should not visit a sādhu without something to offer, everyone brought offerings like rice, grains, vegetables and so on. As all came forward one by one to receive his darśana, Śrīla Prabhupāda asked his sevaka, “Where are all these people going? It appears as if they are passing through the maṭha on their way elsewhere.”
His sevaka replied, “They are not going anywhere else, and have come only for your darśana. They have never before received the opportunity to see a tridaṇḍi-sannyāsī. After hearing about your glories, they have all come for sādhu-darśana.”
Śrīla Prabhupāda was touched and said, “So much eagerness they have for sādhu-darśana! So much faith they have in sādhus! I will come here every year.”
Unfortunately, Śrīla Prabhupāda performed his aprākṛtalīlā (disappearance pastime) soon after, and thus never physically visited Sarbhog again.
Remembering Śrīla Prabhupāda’s words that he would visit Sarbhog every year, Guru Mahārāja would yearly visit Sarbhog to celebrate Śrīla Prabhupāda’s appearance day. He would say, “Whatever Śrīla Prabhupāda has spoken can never be false. He will appear here every year in his deity form.” In this pastime, Guru Mahārāja exemplified the consciousness (citta-vṛtti) of a fully surrendered disciple in relation to fulfilling the words and innermost desires of śrī guru.
The great wealth of a tattered blanket
Wherever he travelled, Guru Mahārāja always carried one particular blanket with him, which he would place on his bed. Although he would receive many blankets during his travels, he would only ever use that one particular old blanket.
Guru Mahārāja’s sevaka once removed that old blanket, hid it somewhere and replaced it with a beautiful new blanket. Upon seeing that the old blanket was missing from his bed, Guru Mahārāja at once inquired about its whereabouts from his sevaka, who replied, “That blanket had gotten quite old and was worn out, so I…”
Guru Mahārāja interrupted him to say, “Even if it were completely worn out and torn to pieces, I would have it sewn back together and use no other blanket for the rest of my life. My most worshipful gurupāda-padma, Śrīla Prabhupāda, very mercifully sat on that blanket, being fully aware that it had previously been used by me. If you were to understand its true value, you would never try to remove it. It is not important whether an item is old or new, or if its price is high or low; its true value is completely dependent on its connection with a great personality who either gave it with love or used it and mercifully left it for others as his remnant.”
Such was Guru Mahārāja’s attachment toward a seemingly insignificant object that was connected to Śrīla Prabhupāda. His attachment to that blanket gives some indication as to the immensity of his attachment to Śrīla Prabhupāda.
The apparent end point of others’ attempts was for him a starting point
Every year after the Gaura-pūrṇimā festival, Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara Gosvāmī Mahārāja used to invite many of his godbrothers to attend a function at his Śrī Caitanya Sarasvata Maṭha at Kolera-gañja, Navadvīpadhāma. During the time of one such occasion, Guru Mahārāja, after the completion of the Gaura-pūrṇimā festival, was engaged in managing the affairs of Śrī Caitanya Gauḍīya Maṭha—such as bidding farewell to the pilgrims and settling accounts—and despite his sincererst desire and efforts to reach Śrī Caitanya Sarasvata Maṭha in a punctual manner, he arrived somewhat late to the assembly of Vaiṣṇavas gathered there. Upon seeing that Guru Mahārāja had arrived, Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Kamala Madhusūdana Gosvāmī Mahārāja said, “Mādhava Mahārāja, you have arrived very late today. We have been waiting for you for a long time.” Guru Mahārāja replied, “Mahārāja, because many pilgrims had come to our maṭha for Navadvīpa-dhāma parikramā, we have incurred a great debt. Today I was busily engaged in settling these debts and resolving other issues, so that the services of the maṭha can continue. I beg for you and all the other Vaiṣṇavas present to please forgive me for my delay.”
Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Vicāra Yāyāvara Gosvāmī Mahārāja then said, “ ‘Nārambhān ārabhet kvacit—There is no need of such an ostentatious display.’ Why have you taken on more responsibility than you can easily handle?”
Hearing this, Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara Gosvāmī Mahārāja said, “Mādhava Mahārāja, I would like to reply to pūjyapāda Yāyāvara Mahārāja’s comment.”
“Yes, Mahārāja-jī. As you please,” Guru Mahārāja relied.
“For an elephant,” Śrīla Śrīdhara Gosvāmī Mahārāja started, “a stick of sugar cane is as insignificant as nasavāra (snuff tobacco), whereas for an ant, the same sugar cane stick is like a mountain. An activity that to us may seem like a huge endeavor is nothing but an insignificant task for pūjyapāda Mādhava Mahārāja; he can perform such deeds without any difficulty.
“In this regard, I have had firsthand experience. Śrīla Prabhupāda had sent pūjyapāda Mādhava Mahārāja—then known as Śrī Hayagrīva Brahmacārī—and me to acquire some land at the meeting place of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and Śrī Rāya Rāmānanda at Kovvur, near the banks of the Godāvarī River, in order to establish Śrīman Mahāprabhu’s footprints (pāda-pīṭha) there. After many days of endless endeavor, I said, ‘Hayagrīva Prabhu, Śrīla Prabhupāda has sent us here with great hope to obtain a piece of land on which to establish Mahāprabhu’s pāda-pīṭha. My brahmacārī name given by Śrīla Prabhupāda was Rāmānanda dāsa, and this is the meeting place of Śrīman Mahāprabhu and Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya. Although we have tried our best to acquire land, we have not been successful. What is your opinion? Should we stay here longer, or should we leave for Madras for preaching?’
“Śrī Hayagrīva Prabhu replied, ‘It is my feeling that we have thus far not made any special endeavors. I think we should continue our efforts for some time more.’ ”
Śrīla Śrīdhara Gosvāmī Mahārāja then mentioned to all the Vaiṣṇavas present, “You may estimate his capability from this statement of his. The apparent end point of our attempts was for him a beginning point of fresh endeavors. Later, through his tireless efforts, a large plot of land was acquired in Kovvur and a maṭha was established there. Śrīla Prabhupāda used to describe Śrī Hayagrīva Brahmacārī as having ‘volcanic energy,’ and Śrī Vāsudeva Prabhu used to call him sarva ghaṭe, one who excels in completing all types of tasks.
“My personal view about pūjyapāda Mādhava Mahārāja is that he is comparable to none other than Śrīla Vakreśvara Paṇḍita, an associate of Śrīman Mahāprabhu who could dance continuously during kīrtana for seventy-two hours without becoming fatigued.”
Beyond the glorification of my Guru Mahārāja, this narration relates a significant lesson. Although Śrīla Śrīdhara Gosvāmī Mahārāja was senior to my Guru Mahārāja, having joined the maṭha and having been awarded sannyāsa-veśa earlier than him, he did not hesitate in observing and speaking about the good qualities of his junior godbrother. Śrī Goloka Vṛndāvana is the topmost abode, superior to all other Vaikuṇṭha planets, and it remains eternally free from even the faintest scent of jealousy and envy. Because Śrīla Śrīdhara Gosvāmī Mahārāja is among the great personalities who are sincere (nirmatsara) followers of the loving residents of this very Goloka Vṛndāvana, he remains free from the material limitations of this world, and was therefore able to offer such genuinely humble and non-duplicitous praise.
Tolerating false allegations
When Guru Mahārāja began renting an apartment on Rāsa-bihārī Avenue in Kolkata, he began preaching from there, and within a short span of time, by Guru Mahārāja’s divine influence, the construction of maṭhas began in various locations like Kolkata, Māyāpura and Hyderabad.
When this news reached Śrī Caitanya Maṭha, some envious persons began speaking against Guru Mahārāja: “After Śrī Bhakti Sāraṅga Gosvāmī Mahārāja, Mādhava Mahārāja was the second best collector of funds in the Gauḍīya Maṭha. He must have withheld some of his collections while he was staying in Śrī Caitanya Maṭha. Otherwise, how would it have been possible to start building maṭhas one after another, so soon. He has certainly stolen Śrī Caitanya Maṭha’s wealth.”
When Guru Mahārāja heard about these allegations, he said, “Through his own conduct, Śrīla Prabhupāda taught us not to react to such statements. When faced with such a situation, we should remember the verse beginning tat te ’nukampāṁ, engage in introspection (su-samīkṣamāṇo), and understand that actually, our detractors are inadvertently doing us a favor. By hearing their false allegations, people will assume we have enough money to repay their loans, and thus they will happily loan us whatever funds we require.”
There were many such incidents that very clearly manifested the quality of taror-iva sahiṣṇunā, being as tolerant as a tree, in the transcendental character of Guru Mahārāja.