- My Beloved Masters
Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Kumuda Santa Gosvāmī Mahārāja
[April 12, 2023 is the appearance day of Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Kumuda Santa Gosvāmī Mahārāja in Vṛndāvana, India. Below is the article from 'My Beloved Masters' by Śrīla Bhakti Vijñāna Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja about the glories of Śrīla Santa Gosvāmī Mahārāja]
HIS EARLY DAYS AND JOINING THE MAṬHA
Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Kumuda Santa Gosvāmī Mahārāja appeared in the village of Narmā, West Bengal and was given the name Rādhā-ramaṇa dāsa after his family’s worshipful deity, Śrī Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa. His father, Śrī Vaikuṇṭhanātha Rāya, was a jamindār (landowner) as well as a practicing astrologer and Ayurvedic doctor. Being highly impressed by his first encounter with Gauḍīya Maṭha preachers, he invited them to stay for some days in his home. After regularly extending such invitations to devotees, Śrī Vaikuṇṭhanātha Rāya became closely acquainted with the Gauḍīya Maṭha.
The preachers of Śrī Gauḍīya Maṭha were so pleased with Śrī Vaikuṇṭhanātha Rāya’s service and hospitality that they would stay only at his house during their visits to his town. Because he was not particularly attached to the opulence enjoyed by landowners in that era, he would spend most of his time treating patients and calculating astrological charts. He rendered profuse, wholehearted assistance to the sannyāsīs and brahmacārīs collecting funds for the Śrī Navadvīpa-dhāma parikramā held by Śrī Caitanya Maṭha. He had a potent ambition for seeking his spiritual welfare, and so despite his worldly opulence and landowner affluence, he never hesitated to personally collect donations. He firmly believed that the association of sādhus is the only means of attaining wellbeing in this human life.
Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Hṛdaya Vana Gosvāmī Mahārāja and Śrī Praṇavānanda Brahmacārī (later known as Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Pramoda Purī Gosvāmī Mahārāja) once visited Śrī Vaikuṇṭhanātha Rāya’s home to collect provisions for the upcoming Navadvīpa-dhāma parikramā. Śrī Vaikuṇṭhanātha Rāya offered them one hundred eight rupees worth of silver coins in praṇāmī, and Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa dāsa and his brother, Kṛṣṇa dāsa, received the good fortune to serve them.
During his five-day stay, Śrī Praṇavānanda Brahmacārī observed that Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa dāsa spent the majority of his time sitting peacefully in the temple room, either hearing hari-kathā or performing kīrtana.
One day, after Śrī Praṇavānanda Brahmacārī sang Jīva Jāgô Jīva Jāgô, he and the boy, Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa dāsa, discussed the meaning of the kīrtana. Śrī Praṇavānanda Brahmacārī was amazed to see an ardent love for kathā and kīrtana in such a young boy. He said to Śrī Vaikuṇṭhanātha Rāya, “Your son’s behavior is rather atypical for a child. His natural attraction to spiritual matters amazes me. We would be greatly pleased to have him stay in our maṭha. There, he can gain both spiritual knowledge and a regular education. Will you allow him to come with us?”
Śrī Vaikuṇṭhanātha Rāya replied, “If he agrees to your proposal, you may surely take him with you. I have no objections.”
Śrī Praṇavānanda Brahmacārī asked Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa dāsa, “Will you come with us to live with the sannyāsīs and brahmacārīs in our Kolkata maṭha, where you can receive both spiritual and material educations?”
“Yes!” Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa dāsa immediately answered.
“There, you will have to serve sādhus all of the time, just as you are doing here,” Śrī Praṇavānanda Brahmacārī told him.
“That will only increase my good fortune,” he replied with a youthful enthusiasm. In this way, Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa dāsa agreed and accompanied the two visiting Vaiṣṇavas back to the maṭha at 1 Ulṭadāṅgā Road, Kolkata, which at the time was a rented apartment.
Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa dāsa’s mother, Śrī Ratna-mayī devī, was a considerably devotional woman. He was her third and youngest son and had been raised amid wealth. Before he left for the maṭha, she appropriately instructed him about his future stay in the austere atmosphere of his guru’s residence. She hugged him, kissed his forehead and said with tears in her eyes, “Bābā! Your purpose is noble. Make accomplishing this purpose your life’s only goal.”
Śrī Vaikuṇṭhanātha Rāya accompanied his son to Kolkata, where he had darśana of Śrīla Prabhupāda and talked to him about the boy.
Śrīla Prabhupāda asked Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa dāsa, “So, khokā ("kiddo"), will you be able to stay here?”
“Yes, yes,” the boy said. “I will definitely be able to stay.”
Upon joining the maṭha, the boy enrolled in a nearby school, the New Indian High School, and thus spent his time between his services in the maṭha and his studies. Sometimes Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa Brahmacārī washed the clothes of the accomplished sannyāsīs and brahmacārīs, and sometimes he cleaned their rooms. Other times, he cleaned the temple room with great delight. The devotees of the maṭha were captivated by the boy’s enthusiasm and sincere inclination to serve. Also, Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa’s voice was very sweet. He would sit with the devotees and sing kīrtana with them, heightening their ecstasy.
One day after Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa Brahmacārī had completed his studies at the New Indian High School, Śrīla Prabhupāda told the sannyāsī and brahmacārī disciples crowded around him, “When I see how sincerely and quickly this boy performs his services, it occurs to me that if he were to spend his life in the maṭha, I could delegate many services to him without worry. But since he is young and has just finished his schooling, it is up to his parents whether he continues to stay here.”
Sometime later, Śrī Vaikuṇṭhanātha Rāya visited the Kolkata maṭha and asked his son, “Do you want to continue your studies? If you want to acquire a higher education, then I am happy to talk to Śrīla Prabhupāda and make arrangements for you to do so.”
Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa Brahmacārī said, “I have heard from Śrīla Prabhupāda ‘jaḓa-vidyā ĵatô māyāra vaibhava—material knowledge is simply the opulent manifestation of Bhagavān’s illusory potency.’ Also, Ṭhākura Bhaktivinoda has stated in Śaraṇāgati, ‘vidyāra gaurave bhrami’ deśe deśe dhana upārjana kôri—in the pride of having acquired worldly knowledge, I simply wandered from one country to another accumulating material wealth.’ Furthermore, Śrī Caitanya-bhāgavata (Ādi-khaṇḍa 12.49) mentions:
paḓe kene loka? kṛṣṇa-bhakti jānibāre
se ĵadi nahilô, tabe vidyāya ki kare?
Why do people study? In order to know kṛṣṇa-bhakti. But what is the use of acquiring knowledge if that devotion does not arise?
Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa Brahmacārī continued, “Because I have heard and taken to heart the true purport of these statements and other similar declarations found in scripture, I am determined not to waste my invaluable time in this human life on acquiring higher education, material comforts or earning a livelihood. I want to obtain spiritual knowledge and thereby fulfill the true purpose of living in the maṭha.”
After Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa Brahmacārī consulted with Śrī Praṇavānanda Brahmacārī regarding his future, he decided that according to his current interest and inclination, it would be best to study Sanskrit under Śrīla Prabhupāda’s disciple Śrī ‘Kavya-vyākaraṇa-tīrtha’ Gaura dāsa Paṇḍita in order to comprehend the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava scriptural canon. Śrī Rādhā- ramaṇa Brahmacārī submitted this proposal to Śrīla Prabhupāda, who gave his permission. Thus Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa Brahmacārī relocated from Kolkata to Śrī Caitanya Maṭha in Śrīdhāma Māyāpura.
Sometime later, when Śrīla Prabhupāda held a grand event to showcase the Sat-śikṣa Pradarśinī exhibition in Śrīdhāma Māyāpura in the year 1930, he ordered Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa Brahmacārī, who was then absorbed in studying Sanskrit grammar, to dedicate himself to the services related to the exhibition. As per Śrīla Prabhupāda’s instruction, Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa Brahmacārī would deliver scripturally sound explanations to the guests regarding the exhibition’s many displays. Unbeknownst to him, Śrīla Prabhupāda listened in on these explanations, and when Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa Brahmacārī’s mother, father and two elder brothers came to see the exhibition, Śrīla Prabhupāda praised the boy profusely.
He told Śrī Vaikuṇṭhanātha Rāya and Śrī Ratna-mayī devī, “Your youngest son has accrued substantial qualifications for someone his age. At present, he is studying Sanskrit grammar and sincerely serving the residents of the dhāma.”
At the exhibition, Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa Brahmacārī spoke with his family members for some time about Śrīla Prabhupāda’s glories, the legacy of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s teachings, the specialty of the Gauḍīya Maṭha and the profound purpose of the exhibition’s themes. Then, he requested them to invite good fortune to their lives by taking shelter of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s lotus feet. Śrī Vaikuṇṭhanātha Rāya and Śrī Ratna-mayī devī were rendered speechless by their amazement with their youngest son. They decided then and there that they and their three sons would all become Śrīla Prabhupāda’s disciples.
Śrīla Prabhupāda showered his mercy on Śrī Vaikuṇṭhanātha Rāya, his wife Śrī Ratnamayī devī, and their sons, Śrī Rādhā-śyāma Rāya, Śrī Rādhā-vinodā Rāya, and Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa Rāya, by giving them all harināma. He asked Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa Brahmacārī’s parents, “Do you object to Rādhā-ramaṇa continuing to stay in the maṭha?”
Śrī Vaikuṇṭhanātha Rāya and Śrī Ratna-mayī devī replied, “Please consider this boy as having been offered for the service of your lotus feet.”
HIS ASTUTENESS IN SERVICE
After some time, Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa Brahmacārī was transferred to Śrī Caitanya Maṭha in Māyāpura, where the daily newspaper Dainika Nadiyā Prakāśa was printed. One day it so happened that there was no paper stock for the following day’s issue, and the rainy weather was making it difficult to procure a new supply. Śrī Prāṇavānanda Brahmacārī was the paper’s editor at that time, and he informed Śrīla Prabhupāda about the situation and asked him what to do.
Śrīla Prabhupāda asked, “Is there anybody who can bring paper from our Bhāgavata Press in Kṛṣṇanagara?”
Śrī Prāṇavānanda Brachmacārī mentioned, “Rādhā-ramaṇa Brahmacārī is here, and he will go if you tell him.”
Śrīla Prabhupāda then ordered Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa Brahmacārī to go, and the boy immediately left for Kṛṣṇanagara by bicycle. After riding a far distance in the rain, he finally reached his destination. When he collected the paper supply, the devotees at Bhāgavata Press bound it to the back of his bicycle. The knots they made, however, were quite loose, and the entire bundle of paper fell to the ground during his return journey. Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa Brahmacārī immediately removed his dhotī, which measured approximately five meters, and replaced it with his uttarīya (upper cloth), which measured only two meters. Using the dhotī, he very nicely bound the paper, secured it to the bike and carefully brought it to Māyāpura. Upon Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa Brahcmacārī’s return, Śrīla Prabhupāda was informed about the situation, and he praised the boy, acknowledging that although he was very young, he displayed great astuteness in a difficult situation.
When Śrīla Prabhupāda saw for himself how skillful Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa was during the Sat-śikṣa Pradarśinī exhibition in Śrīdhāma Māyāpura, he included his name in the list of devotees he would send to Ḍhākā to hold an exhibition there. When Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa Brahmacārī found out about this, he appealed to Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Viveka Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja, “My grammar studies have already been paused during the exhibition in Śrīdhāma Māyāpura. If I go to Ḍhākā, they will practically cease altogether.”
When Śrīla Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja put the matter before Śrīla Prabhupāda, Śrīla Prabhupāḍa called for Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa Brahmacārī and told him, “To think we must first obtain some qualification before attempting to serve Śrī Hari simply invites obstacles in our lives. Who knows what may happen in the time spent pursuing perfection. Our time in this human form of life is momentary. We cannot trust our breath will last.
“The rice paddy in the field must be dried while the sun is still shining. It is best to seize whatever opportunities for hari-sevā may arise. Your qualification will increase more by serving the Lord than by independently pursuing grammatical knowledge. Only a life led under guidance brings auspiciousness for a spiritual seeker residing in an āśrama.” Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa Brahmacārī took Śrīla Prabhupāda’s merciful instruction to heart and fixed it as the main instruction guiding him to the path of spiritual welfare.
Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa Brahmacārī was thus always faithfully preoccupied with various services, and in 1934, at Bāgbāzār Gauḍīya Maṭha in Kolkata, Śrīla Prabhupāda granted Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa Brahmacārī mantra-dīkṣā.
THE PRAISE AND CRITICISM OF ORDINARY PEOPLE IS MEANT FOR THEIR OWN SENSE ENJOYMENT
The devotees of Śrī Madhva Gauḍīya Maṭha in Ḍhākā once wrote to Śrīla Prabhupāda and requested him to send one kīrtanīyā for the maṭha. Knowing Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa Brahmacārī to be an exceptional kīrtanīyā, Śrīla Prabhupāda asked him if he could make the journey on his own. Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa Brahmacārī confidently affirmed that he could, and accepting the order of his gurudeva, he departed on his journey for Ḍhākā, which required him to travel first by steamship and then by road.
Being the first passenger to arrive at the steamship, Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa Brahmacārī took a seat next to one of the ship’s windows. After some time, the ship slowly began to fill with passengers. The passengers who arrived after him told him, “Move over. Why are you sitting near the window, anyway? You are a small child and can sit anywhere. Fresh air is required for old people. Why have you taken this seat? Get up from here and go sit elsewhere.”
Another person commented, “Nowadays, people give birth to a child and, without taking responsibility for looking after him, leave him in the maṭha. These children then become ‘sādhus’ due to laziness and their aversion to work.” After hearing these comments, Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa Brahmacārī quietly got up from his seat and stood near the ship’s entrance, so that no one would be bothered further. Seeing this, everybody became satisfied and remained peaceful.
Approximately ten minutes after he had moved from the window seat, an announcement came over the loudspeaker: “Everyone please be attentive. The ocean is very rough today, and we have no control over the ship. We are in perilous danger. Anything can happen, so everyone please remember God and pray to Him for our safety.”
Hearing this, one of the passengers, an old man who had previously complained about Śrī Rādhā- ramaṇa Brahmacārī, began crying and lamented, “My daughter is to be married, and I am carrying her dowry and wedding ornaments. If something happens to our ship, what will happen to my daughter’s marriage? Everything will be ruined.”
Another passenger responded, “Didn’t you hear the announcement? They are saying to remember God, so this is not the appropriate time to speak such things.”
The old man replied, “God will not listen to us, because we never did His bhajana. But surely He will listen to this young sādhu. Although he is very young, he has understood the true value of life.”
After this, all the passengers who had previously complained about Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa Brahmacārī forcibly sat him down among them and requested him to pray for their safety. He replied, “I have heard from my Guru Mahārāja that the Lord only hears the prayers of His surrendered devotees. As I am not yet surrendered to Him, He will not even hear me, what to speak of fulfill any request I may submit. However, my Guru Mahārāja has also mentioned that we should always perform nāma-saṅkīrtana. Therefore, I can chant the hare kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, and all of you can repeat it in kīrtana. But I cannot guarantee that God will hear or save us.” The passengers accepted his proposal, and they all began to perform kīrtana. After some time, the ship safely arrived at its destination.
Śrīla Santa Gosvāmī Mahārāja often mentioned this pastime, and in doing so taught us that both the criticism and praise of ordinary people have absolutely no value, and we should therefore never become affected by whatever they may speak. Such people praise and criticize only for their own sense enjoyment.
THE DEEP VISION OF GREAT PERSONALITIES
Once, Śrīla Santa Gosvāmī Mahārāja and my paramārādhyatama Guru Mahārāja, Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Dayita Mādhava Gosvāmī Mahārāja, were staying in the Madras Gauḍīya Maṭha as brahmacārīs. My Guru Mahārāja was then known as Śrī Hayagrīva Brahmacārī. Although they were brahmacārīs and not sannyāsīs, they were accepted as experienced seniors because they sincerely followed Śrīla Prabhupāda.