Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Trivikrama Gosvāmī Mahārāja
[November 16, 2023 is the disappearance day of Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Trivikrama Gosvāmī Mahārāja in Vṛndāvana, India. The following is an excerpt of a bhāva anuvāda of discourses by Śrīla Bhakti Vijñāna Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja on January 24, 2017 and on January 8, 2013. Editors’ input: Additional text has been included in square brackets to facilitate the flow of content.]
Today is Pūjyapāda Trivikrama Mahārāja’s appearance day. Both the appearance day and disappearance day of a Vaiṣṇava are equally auspicious. This is because both days bring their remembrance, which is auspicious for us.
When they reveal their glories through their actions, only then can we follow their appearance and disappearance days. Otherwise, we wouldn't know anything. Who can know them if they don't reveal themselves? Some Vaiṣṇavas choose not to reveal themselves; they simply come and go.
Once Śrī Gauḍīya Vedānta Samiti organised a parikramā of Śrī Puruṣottama-dhāma (Jagannātha Purī) during Puruṣottama-māsa. Under the guidance of Pūjyapāda Bhaktivedānta Vāmana Mahārāja, it was led by Pūjyapāda Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja and Pūjyapāda Bhaktivedānta Trivikrama Mahārāja. One day, their parikramā was going to the Ṭoṭā-gopīnātha temple and Pūjyapāda Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja invited me to join.
At Ṭoṭā-gopīnātha, Pūjyapāda Trivikrama Mahārāja spoke first. In his kathā he was lamenting, “I have performed many parikramās, of Gauḍa-maṇḍala, Vraja-maṇḍala and Kṣetra-maṇḍala for more than fifty years. But I never saw any improvement in my devotional practice and now I am realising that it has no benefit. I have been going to temples for darśanas for so many years now, but there has been no impact. I am now realising what our pūrva ācārya, Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura (Śrī Prema Bhakti Candrikā 2.5), has said ‘tīrtha-ĵātrā pariśrama kevala manera bhrama—the labor of visiting places of pilgrimage is nothing but the mind’s bewilderment.’ In other words, it is purely illusion to think that one attains spiritual merit by visiting places of pilgrimage.”
Hearing Mahārāja’s kathā, many of the brahmacārīs’ looked dejected and perhaps even mentally questioned the worth of performing parikramā to begin with, if someone as senior as Pūjyapāda Trivikrama Mahārāja was saying that there is no value in performing parikramā. Sensing this, Pūjyapāda Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja urged me to speak hari-kathā. I asked him how long I could speak. He replied, “As the parikramā party will be honouring prasādam here itself, you can speak as long as you want.”
After first glorifying Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja, I refuted his statement by saying, “What Mahārāja-jī just said, is apt from his point of consideration, and is also the opinion of Śrīla Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura. But one has to consider for which level of advancement this is appropriate. Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī says,
jagāi mādhāi hôite muñĩ se pāpiṣṭha purīṣera kīṭa hôite muñi se laghiṣṭha
mora nāma śune ĵei tāra puṇya kṣaya mora nāma laya ĵei tāra pāpa haya
emana nirghṛṇa more kebā kṛpā kare eka nityānanda binu jagata bhitare
(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 5.205-207)
[I am more sinful than Jagāi and Mādhāi and even lower than a worm in stool. The pious activities of that person who hears my name are completely destroyed. Anyone who utters my name commits a sin. Who in this world but Nityānanda could show His mercy to such a vile person as me?]
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, the foremost authority in the realm of bhakti, has expressed similar sentiments:
adharo ‘py aparadhanaṁ aviveka-hato ‘py aham tvat-karuṇya-pratikṣo ‘smi prasīda mayi madhava
(Stava-mālā, Volume 1, Praṇāma-praṇaya-stava (14))
[Although I am a mine of offenses, and although I cannot tell right from wrong, I still hope for Your mercy. O Mādhava, please be merciful to me.]
Are Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī and Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī lying when they say this? And if not, then can we really accept that Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī is a mine of offenses and Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja is more sinful than Jagāi and Mādhāi and that by uttering his name we are committing sins?
No. Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī and Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī are speaking like this as a consequence of the natural humility that arose out of their surrender. Humility is directly proportional to the quality of the sādhu-saṅga one receives. The higher one’s association, the deeper is one’s humility.
So these words are an expression of Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja’s humility, but can we follow this in our lives? Or should we, upon hearing about such unprecedented humility, pray at his lotus feet, begging, “O Vaiṣṇava Ṭhākura! When will I also become so humble, having received such high association as you!”
Pūjyapāda Trivikrama Mahārāja is also expressing natural humility because he is always looking upwards towards his guru-varga and feeling himself to be completely insignificant in comparison to them.
Until now I have discussed Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja’s glories. Now, let us consider our position. In Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, Ambarīṣa Mahārāja’s precept shows how he engaged all of his senses in the service of Bhagavān. Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī has said, “pādau hareḥ kṣetra-padānusarpaṇe—he engaged both his legs in walking to the places where Śrī Hari had performed His pastimes.” So the purport is that we must engage our feet in walking to the hari-kṣetra (places related to Lord Hari). Certainly, we must serve Hṛṣīkeśa. This is the way to gain victory over kāma (material desires) or sense gratification.
The staunch follower of Śrīla Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, has revealed the actual meaning of Śrīla Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura’s aforementioned statement, and in doing so, has verified it’s harmony with the above verse from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam:
gaura āmāra, ĵe-saba sthāne karalô bhramaṇa raṅge se-saba sthāna, heribô āmi praṇayi-bhakata-saṅge
[In the company of praṇayi-bhaktas, I will [visit and] behold all the places where my Gaura joyfully visited.]
The true aim of performing parikramā is to attain progress in bhakti and to develop love and attachment for the places where Bhagavān performed His pastimes. This attachment is transmitted from the hearts of praṇayi-bhaktas (devotees who possess deep, transcendental love for the Lord) into the hearts of those who accept shelter at their lotus feet. It is only when parikramā is performed in the association and under the guidance of such pure devotees that it yields the highest benefit.
In this way I concluded my kathā. Hearing my words, Pūjyapāda Trivikrama Mahārāja looked at me and smiled approvingly.
I don't know many details regarding Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja's appearance, but I do know that he was fearless and never hesitated to preach against the opposition. He was free from all deceit. Mahārāja was taking care of the press in Chuṇchuṛā, where there was also a maṭha. Eventually the press was shifted to Navadvīpa. Trivikrama Mahārāja was also responsible for the ‘Vratotsava Nirṇaya Pañjikā’ (calendar determining fast and festival dates).
Today we may no longer see him in person. But even still, he has left his invaluable teachings and principles behind, which we can imbibe and get the ultimate benefit.