The Founder-ācārya of Śrī Caitanya Gauḍīya Maṭha, Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Dayita Mādhava Gosvāmī Mahārāja
[February 21, 2023 is the disappearance day of Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Dayita Mādhava Gosvāmī Mahārāja, the Founder-ācārya of Śrī Caitanya Gauḍīya Maṭha, and the revered spiritual master of Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Vijñāna Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja, in Vṛndāvana, India. The following is an excerpt from 'Volcanic Energy' by Srila Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja wherein Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Pramoda Purī Gosvāmī Mahārāja glorifies Śrīla Bhakti Dayita Mādhava Gosvāmī Mahārāja.]
By Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Pramoda Purī Gosvāmī Mahārāja
At nine o’clock in the morning on Śukla Pratipadā tithi, the sixteenth day of the month of Govinda, 492, according to the Gaurābda calendar (Tuesday 27 February, 1979, according to the Gregorian calendar) on the auspicious disappearance day of vaiṣṇava-sarvābhauma Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja and Śrī Śrīla Rasikānandadeva Gosvāmī, the Founder and President-ācārya of Śrī Caitanya Gauḍīya Maṭha—an institution with branches across the country—the most respected tridaṇḍi-svāmī Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Dayita Mādhava Gosvāmī Mahārāja, concluded his pastimes in this world while in his bhajanakuṭīra in Śrī Caitanya Gauḍīya Maṭha, situated at 35, Satish Mukherjee Road in South Kolkata, amidst the tumultuous chanting of the holy names of Bhagavān. He entered into the third yāma, or forenoon pastimes, of the aṣṭa-kāliya-nityalīlā of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Govinda Gopīnātha Madana-mohana Nayananātha with a desire to meet Śrī Śyāmasundara at Śrī Rādhā-kuṇḍa at noon. Identifying himself as the servant of Śrī Varṣabhanāvī-dayita dāsa, he has most eagerly entered into the eternal service of his gurudeva. Although it is a matter of great joy that he has attained the eternal service of his most worshipful Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Govinda-jī in Their transcendental abode, Śrī Goloka Vṛndāvana, which is situated far beyond this illusory material world, the pain and spiritual loss felt in the hearts of his beloved associates and followers due to his physical absence is extremely unbearable. His godbrothers, his countless disciples—both ladies and men—and all the ladies and the gentlemen who were attracted to his divine qualities, today realizing themselves to be completely helpless and without a shelter, cry bitterly.
His most enchanting, divine lotus face; his peaceful, soft and pleasing bright
complexion, which sparkled like gold; and his extremely soft body, which was just like a lotus, befit his unlimitedly compassionate heart, which was completely full of egalitarian kindness for all. His divinely benevolent character was completely devoid of the concept of ‘mine and yours.’ He truly embodied the phrase “vasudhaiva kuṭumbakam—the world is one family.” His sweet voice, which sounded as if it were submerged in honey, was ripe with true love and affection. He was insurmountably passionate in preaching the principles of pure devotional service to Śrī Śrī Guru-Gaurāṅga, and his efforts to that end were untiring. He was unceasingly affectionate to his fellow godbrothers, and he possessed a strong parental love for his disciples.
Śrī Mahārāja’s expertise in refuting misconceptions about the path of bhakti was extraordinary, as was his ability to establish the actual principles of bhakti, which are based on the authentic scriptures. He energetically excavated the lost places of pilgrimage, propagated the importance of following Vaiṣṇava etiquette, manifested the service of deities by establishing many maṭhas, yearly organized Śrī Navadvīpa parikramā and triennially organized Śrī Vrajamaṇḍala parikramā. He was capable of drawing out the
jewel-like essence of any subject by churning the ocean of the scriptures, and what is more, he virtuously preached those teachings by imbibing them in his personal conduct. His attachment to bhagavad-bhajana was astonishing. His tolerance and humility were exemplary; he considered himself as worthless, even though he possessed the most desirable qualities in terms of family background, conduct, knowledge and intelligence. Despite possessing these qualities, he was completely devoid of pride. He was enthusiastic to distribute the prema-dharma of Śrī Caitanyadeva everywhere, without considering the caste or creed of those to whom he was distributing it. He desired to assist every living entity in attaining his or her eternal spiritual welfare. He was completely devoid of any desire for worldly gain, recognition or fame. He possessed sincere faith in rendering service to Śrī Hari, guru and Vaiṣṇavas. These are but a few of his countless divine qualities. As these qualities appear one by one in the consciousness of the devotees [who now feel themselves bereft of his association], the agony of their separation from him is exponentially increased in the core of their hearts.
The President and ācārya of Śrī Caitanya Gauḍīya Maṭha appeared in this world in 1903 on Uṭṭhāna Ekādaśī in the Kāñcanapāḍā village of the Faridapūra district of Bangladesh. His father, the late Śrī Niśikānta Bāndhopādhyāya, a renowned personality in that province, named him Śrī Heramba-kumāra Bāndhopādhyāya. Śrīla Ācāryadeva’s mother’s name was Śrīmati Śaivālinī devī. Although his father was a resident of Bharākara village in Ḍhākā, Śrīla Ācāryadeva was born at his maternal ancestral place, the aforementioned village of Kāñcanapāḍa. After his birth, he spent the next four years in Faridapūra with his father. When Śrī Ācāryadeva lost his father in his childhood, he returned to Kañcanapāḍā, and it was there that he spent his childhood and attended school.
From his very childhood, he exhibited great faith in spiritual activities. His sacred thread ceremony was conducted at the age of seven. From then onwards, as per the instructions of his religiously devout mother, he would regularly study the scriptures like Śrī Mahābhārata, Śrī Rāmāyaṇa, Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā and others. Because his mother regularly recited Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā to him, he memorized it in its entirety, and his belief that its subject matter is the complete real truth became firm and unflinching.
Since his early childhood, he was habituated to lead a firmly disciplined life. He was widely renowned in the community as a naiṣṭhika-brahmacārī, or a committed, lifelong celibate. By the effect of the matchless sweetness of his divine body—which was tall, brightly complexioned, flawlessly beautiful, wonderfully well-formed and majestically radiant—and his kind behavior, he held leading positions in various fields of activity since his time as a student. His desirable qualities and competence were readily visible when he took part in sports and acted in amateur plays based on spiritual subjects. He was always a frontrunner when he participated in social service activities. For example, he helped poor students by establishing a library and also took part in the nation’s freedom movement.
His deep faith and proficiency in spiritual subjects was evident, even in his childhood. Everybody was amazed to observe his acute intelligence during his life as a student. Later in his youth, after studying various scriptures, including Vedānta, he studied the spiritual literature related to bhakti, namely Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta. As he became increasingly attracted to the highly sound principles of vaiṣṇava-dharma, he realized that since these scriptures are topmost, it is most sensible to follow them while under the guidance of a true spiritual master and to dedicate one’s life to preaching their message.
During his youth, his renunciation of worldly objects became quite pronounced. He renounced the material world and first went to Haridvāra, and later to the Himālayas in order to perform penances. There, inside a cave, after he had been absorbed in meditating on the Supreme Lord for some days according to a severely austere procedure, he suddenly received a divine order to return to Bengal. After doing so, he met oṁ viṣṇupāda aṣṭottara-śata śrī Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvātī Gosvāmī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda, the Founder-ācārya of Śrī Caitanya Maṭha and other Gauḍīya Maṭha branches, and within a short time accepted the shelter of his lotus feet. From then on, he followed and extensively preached the teachings of pure prema-bhakti as practiced and taught by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. By virtue of his unflinching, single-pointed devotion to the lotus feet of his gurudeva and the mercy he received from him, he quickly became renowned as a glorious preacher who was among the associates of Śrīla Prabhupāda, who gave him the name Śrī Hayagrīva Brahmacārī. Later, when he accepted the renounced order of life, he became known as parivrājakācārya tridaṇḍi-svāmī Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Dayita Mādhava Mahārāja. He had accepted the mood of one in the renounced order during his steadfast brahmācārya.
By the divine influence of his wonderfully magnanimous and most ideal conduct, and by the effect of listening to his highly potent hari-kathā, thousands of people, both men and women, from all over the country—from east to west, north to south—became attracted to Śrīman Mahāprabhu’s prema- dharma and accepted initiation into gauḍīya vaiṣṇavadharma, became established in following the etiquette of devotional service and are now
performing sādhanabhajana. The manner in which Śrīla Ācāryadeva Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Dayita Mādhava Mahārāja established magnificent preaching centers—which included non-profit and volunteer-based Sanskrit Educational institutions, libraries to facilitate debates on comparative religion, primary and higher secondary schools, charitable hospitals and many other types of organizations—in each region of the country—Śrī Vṛndāvana in the north, Guwahati in the east, Chandigarh in the west and Hyderabad in the south and many other maṭhas at different locations—was simply supernatural and divine, as was the way in which, within a single lifetime, he laboriously and passionately preached to everyone the prema-dharma practiced and preached by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, irrespective of the caste and creed. He extensively preached to both the highest and the lowest communities of society, to the rich and the poor alike. As a result, countless men and women from different castes all over the country have been initiated into Śrīman Mahāprabhu’s prema-dharma and have become established in following vaiṣṇava etiquette. Above all, his most extraordinary and unique contribution to the larger Śrī Sārasvata Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava community is his untiring twelve-year effort to acquire and manifest the glories of the divine appearance place of nitya-līlā-praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda aṣṭottara-śata Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda, the Founder-ācārya of the many branches of Śrī Caitanya Maṭha, in Śrī Purī-dhāma.
My gurudeva, Śrīla Prabhupāda, is glorified by the words “śrī-gaura-karuṇā-śakti-vigrahāya namo ’stu te— offer heartfelt obeisances to the embodiment of Śrī Gaurasundara’s mercy potency.” As a result of the mercy of that śrī gurudeva, his dearest associate, Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Dayita Mādhava Gosvāmī Mahārāja, has fulfilled his heartfelt desire by preaching throughout the world the very name, form, qualities and pastimes he (Śrīla Prabhupāda) previously glorified. Now, being again drawn in by that very mercy, Śrī Mādhava Mahārāja has accepted the eternal shelter of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s divine lotus feet, which bestow freedom from sorrow and fear and are the source of eternality. It is for this reason alone that Śrī Kavirāja Gosvāmī has boldly proclaimed in Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya-līlā 7.11), “kṛṣṇa-śakti vinā nahe tāra pravartana— one can not propagate nāma-saṅkīrtana without being empowered by Kṛṣṇa.” Just as Śrīman Mahāprabhu enriched His dearest associate—that is, my gurudeva, Śrīla Prabhupāda—by bestowing upon him His own effulgent form and prized quality of magnanimity before sending him to this material word to preach the glories of the Lord’s holy names and service, Śrīla Prabhupāda similarly sent his dearest associate, Śrī Bhakti Dayita Mādhava Gosvāmī Prabhu, into this material world after bestowing upon him his own effulgent form and prized qualities and infusing him with his limitless power of mercy (kṛpā-śakti). As a consequence of receiving this power of śrī gurudeva’s mercy, he quickly established skyscraper-like temples and maṭhas in almost every state in the vast expanse of this country, whose boarders are formed by the Himālayas in the north and the ocean in the south. In this way, he instituted the service of the deities of Śrī Śrī Guru-Gaurāṅga Gāndharvikā-Giridhārī and preached the glories of śrī harināma mahā-mantra, which is adorned with thirty-two syllables. After accomplishing these services here in this world, he has again returned to serve the lotus feet of his gurudeva.
All the associates of Śrīman Mahāprabhu—like Śrī Svarūpa Dāmodara Gosvāmī, Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī, Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī and others—have entered into the Lord’s eternal pastimes after fulfilling Śrīman Mahāprabhu’s most cherished desires, and subsequently, all other guru-vargas who came in their disciplic succession have, under the guidance of śrī gurudeva, attained the eternal shelter of śrī guru’s lotus feet and thereby gained the qualification to render service to Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa Yugala in their amorous pastimes after fulfilling the most cherished desires of their respective guru-vargas. We, too, should similarly follow with our body, mind and words the lotus footsteps— that is, the teachings and conduct—of all such exalted personalities. Śrīman Mahāprabhu offered the garland hanging from His own neck to his followers and instructed them to engage in kīrtana of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s names, which are our most cherished possession:
āpana galāra mālā sabākāre diyā
ājñā kare prabhu sabe—kṛṣṇa gāo giyā
bôlô kṛṣṇa, bhajô kṛṣṇa, gāo kṛṣṇa-nāma
kṛṣṇa binu keha kichu nā bhābihô āna
ĵadi āmā’-prati sneha thāke sabākāra
tabe kṛṣṇa-vyatirikta nā gāibe āra
Śrī Caitanya-bhāgavata (Madhya-khaṇḍa 28.25- 27)
Offering His own garland to everyone, Śrī Gaurahari advised, “Sing ‘Kṛṣṇa!’ Speak about Kṛṣṇa, serve Kṛṣṇa and invoke His name. Know for certain that there is nothing other than Kṛṣṇa. If you have affection for Me, then sing only of Kṛṣṇa, and no one else.”
Therefore, our duty after his disappearance is to fulfill His most cherished desire by performing that service that is dearest to him. In Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā 22.109), Śrīla Kavirāja Gosvāmī has written:
Śrī Jagadānanda Paṇḍita has said:
‘gorāra āmi, gorāra āmi’ mukhe balile nāhi cale
gorāra ācāra, gorāra vicāra laile phala phale
Simply saying “I am Gaura’s! I am Gaura’s!” does not suffice. The fruit is only attained when one follows Gaura’s conduct and conceptions.
Therefore, we must thoroughly follow Śrīman Mahāprabhu’s teachings and conduct by body, mind and soul.
In accordance with the principle stated in Raghu-vaṁśa (14.46), “ājñā gurūṇāṁ hyavicāraṇīya—the order of the spiritual master must be obeyed without consideration,” which has been quoted in Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā 10.145), the most distinguished way for a disciple to express his or her love for śrī guru is to take a vow to endeavor to fulfill śrī gurudeva’s most cherished desire by mind, body and words.
Just before completing his manifest pastimes in this world, my most worshipful Śrīla Prabhupāda expressed his desire to hear two bhajanas: Tuhũ dayā-sāgara, which is Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s translation of the second verse of Śrīman Mahāprabhu’s Śrī Śikṣāṣṭaka, and Śrī-rūpamañjarī-pada, a kīrtana from Śrī Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura’s Prārthanā. In this way, he very precisely revealed our life’s only duty. With a great sense of grief in our heart that arises from deep-rooted feelings of separation from śrī gurudeva, we must weep and vow to fulfill his most cherished desires. Showing a complete disregard toward fulfilling śrī gurudeva’s desires on account of the agony of separation can never be considered a proper example of loving devotion.
It is only because of our disinclination towards rendering service that Śrī Ācāryadeva manifested his sickness pastimes. For many years prior to his leaving this world, he enacted the pastime of suffering from a heart ailment. Both his disciples and his highly expert doctors had repeatedly advised him to take rest, but no one among them was able to restrain him, the volcano of kṛṣṇa-kīrtana who was always full of volcanic energy. He would say, “I have taken birth as a mortal human, and will thus one day have to face death. It would therefore be better to use my last breath to perform kṛṣṇa-kīrtana, as Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has described: ‘bhajite bhajite, samaya āsile, e deha chāḓiyā dibô— absorbed in bhajana, when the time arrives, I shall readily give up this body.’ ” Although he was personally never in favor of consulting a doctor or kavirāja (an Ayurvedic physician), he was unable to deny the persistent requests of his disciples. Thus, the doctor would be called every so often to administer medicines according to his prescription. Those who served Śrī Mahārāja did so to the best of their abilities, and there was no margin for error in their service. For two months, devotees remained awake both day and night and took turns lovingly serving him with the utmost sincerity. In this way, they remained engaged in the service of their gurudeva. However:
kṛpā kôri’ kṛṣṇa more diyāchilā saṅga
svatantra kṛṣṇera icchā—kailā saṅga-bhaṅga
Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya-līlā 11.94)
Kṛṣṇa mercifully gave Me the association of a Vaiṣṇava. But because He is independent in His desires, He has now severed that association.
His prominent disciple servitors—namely tridaṇḍisvāmī Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Vallabha Tīrtha Mahārāja, Śrīmad Bhakti Vijñāna Bhāratī Mahārāja, Śrīmad Bhakti Lalita Giri Mahārāja, Śrīmad Bhakti Sundara Nṛsiṁha Mahārāja,
Śrīmad Bhakti Bhūṣaṇa Bhāgavata Mahārāja, Śrīmad Bhakti Prasāda Purī Mahārāja, Śrīmad Bhakti Vaibhava Araṇya Mahārāja, Śrī Maṅgala-nīlaya Brahmacārī, Śrī Pareśānubhava Brahmacārī, Śrī Madana-gopāla dāsa Brahmacārī, Śrī Nityānanda dāsa Brahmacārī, Śrī Nṛtyagopāla dāsa Brahmacārī and others—are fortunate to have tirelessly rendered service to their gurudeva day and night. While he manifested his sickness pastimes, devotees arranged for nāma-saṅkīrtana and the recitation of various scriptures—like Śrīmad Bhagavad-gīta and ŚrīmadBhāgavatam—and devotional prayers to be continuously performed in both the maṭha and hospital. During that time, non-stop continuous nāma-saṅkīrtana lasting for three days and three nights was sometimes performed in the maṭha. From the time he entered the nitya-līlā of the eternal abode of Vraja at nine o’clock in the morning of 27 February, 1979, until the time his divine body was offered samādhi in Śrīdhāma Māyāpura, the loud congregational chanting of the divine holy names continued on. By great fortune, the presence of the nāma-bhajanānandī Śrīpāda Kṛṣṇadāsa Bābājī Mahārāja ensured that all services were smoothly accomplished and were accompanied by the loud chanting of the holy names. Śrī Bhāgavata dāsa Brahmacārī and many others accompanied Śrī Bābājī Mahārāja in the nāmakīrtana.
At four o’clock in the evening on 27 February, 1979, pūjyapāda Mahārājaśrī was brought out of his room on his bed, taken into his dear temple hall, the saṅkīrtana-bhavana, and was placed in full view of his eternally worshipful life and soul, Śrī Śrī Guru-Gauraṅga-Rādhā-Nayananātha-jiu. Countless devotees, both men and women, offered him flowers and garlands while continuously singing his glories as streams of tears poured forth from their eyes—an extremely heartwarming scene. All pūjyapāda Mahārājaśrī’s fellow godbrothers—namely myself, Śrīmad Bhakti Suhṛd Bodhāyana Mahārāja, Śrīpāda Kṛṣṇa-keśava Brahmacārī, Śrīpāda Jagamohana Brahmacārī, Śrīpāda Kṛṣṇadāsa Bābājī Mahārāja and others—along with all of their disciples from all āśramas—sannyāsīs, brahmacārīs, gṛhasthas and vānaprashthas—tearfully offered flowers and garlands to his divine body. He was then offered Śrī Bhagavān’s flower garland and sandalwood paste remnants, and tulasī leaves from the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord and mahāprasāda were placed in his mouth. His fully decorated bed and his divine body, which had been ornamented with fragrant flowers and garlands, were placed upon a large truck that had also been decorated with beautiful leaves, buds and flowers. The members of the saṅkīrtana party sat nearby and loudly chanted the holy names, accompanied by mrdanga, karatālas and other instruments. The prominent singer was, again, Śrīpada Kṛṣṇadasa Babaji Mahārāja.
Many devotees respectfully followed Śrī Mahārāja by bus during his journey to Śrīdhama Mayapura. At about eleven o’clock at night, Śrī Mahārāja and the accompanying devotees reached the parent branch of Śrī Caitanya Gauḍīya Maṭha, situated at Īśodyāna in Śrīdhama Māyāpura. Bitterly crying, the residents of the maṭha there offered their heartfelt welcome to Śrī Mahārāja. His divine body, along with his bed, was respectfully placed in the large temple hall, a place that was very dear to him. The devotees loudly cried and offered prayers at his lotus feet while saṅkīrtana was continuously performed. After careful deliberation and consulting prominent Vaiṣṇavas, Śrīmad Bhakti Vijñāna Bhāratī Mahārāja, Śrīmad Bhakti Bhūṣaṇa Bhāgavata Mahārāja, Śrīmad Bhakti Lalita Giri Mahārāja, Śrīpāda Jagamohana dāsa Brahmacārī, Śrīpāda Kṛṣṇa-keśava Brahmacārī and other Vaiṣṇavas and I selected a place north of the deities’ room and past a bakula tree as the place for establishing Śrī Mahārāja’s samādhi in the maṭha. With the site established, Śrī Bhāgavata dāsa Brahmacārī and other devotees began digging the samādhi pit, which measured seven-and-a-half feet in height and was as wide as the height of an average man on all four sides. At the bottom of the samādhi pit, Śrī Mahārāja’s seat was established to face the eastern direction.
The digging of the samādhi pit was completed at approximately two o’clock in the morning. At that time, cow ghee was applied to Śrī Mahārāja’s divine body while I recited Vedic hymns. During the auspicious recitation of those hymns, his divine body was bathed with water of the most worshipful Śrī Gaṅgā. After his body was wiped dry, he was dressed in a new set of clothes and decorated with tilaka in twelve places. I then wrote the samādhi-mantras from Saṁskāra-dipikā on the chest of Śrī Mahārāja using mud from Śrī Rādhā-kuṇḍa. Afterward, Śrī Mahārāja was taken from the temple hall to the samādhi pit amidst the loud chanting of kīrtana. As someone called out the jaya-dhvani, Śrī Mahārāja was lowered into the samādhi pit and seated on a new āsana facing east. After Śrīmad Bhakti Lalita Giri Mahārāja worshipped Śrī Mahārāja using sixteen types of paraphernalia and offered him fruits, roots and sweets as bhoga, he performed āratī. After all the present devotees offered flowers to the lotus feet of Śrī Mahārāja, his body, which had been fixed in an upright sitting position, was dressed in new saffron cloth and then completely covered with salt and earth. While devotees offered earth, an indicating marker was kept to identify the exact place of his forehead. Once the earth enveloped the entirety of his body, a potted tulasi plant was placed above the samādhi and decorated with flower garlands from all sides. The devotees present then performed parikramā of the samādhi accompanied by a mahā-saṅkīrtana. All this took place from three o’clock to five o’clock in the morning.
On the morning of 28 February, 1979, immediately after the rituals of Śrī Mahārāja’s samādhi ceremony were completed, I narrated the pastime of Śrī Haridāsa Ṭhākura’s departure from this world as it is described in the Eleventh Chapter of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta’s Antya-līlā. Kīrtana was performed before and after his lecture. Śrīla Mahārāja’s appearance day happens to be on Utthāna Ekādaśī, the same day as the disappearance day of my parama-gurudeva, Śrīla Gaura-kiśora dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja. It was on the disappearance day of my parameṣṭhī-gurudeva (great-grand spiritual master), Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī