Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Vilāsa Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja
[April 6, 2023 is the appearance day of Tridaṇḍi Svāmī Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Vilāsa Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja, in Vṛndāvana, India. The following is an excerpt from a bhāva anuvāda of the kathā given by Śrīla Bhakti Vijñāna Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja on the same tithi on April 25, 2013 and April 4, 2015. Editors’ input: Additional text has been included in square brackets to facilitate the flow of content.]
Today is the appearance day of Śrīla Bhakti Vilāsa Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja, a dear disciple of Śrīla Prabhupāda Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Ṭhākura.
A SERVICE OPPORTUNITY
In the earlier years, Śrīla Mahārāja used to stay in Bhubaneśvara. He was well-built and exceptionally intelligent. Afterwards, he moved to Jagannātha Purī, wherein he became unwell and was diagnosed with tuberculosis. On hearing of this, Guru Mahārāja immediately invited him to stay with us at Kolkata. At that time, we were staying in an old apartment on Satish Mukherjee Road. By Guru Mahārāja’s mercy, I had the opportunity to serve him at that time by taking him to the doctor, and then to a vaidya (an Ayurvedic physician) who eventually cured him. That vaidya was a Śrīkhaṇḍa-vāsī, coming from the lineage of Mahāprabhu’s devotees from Śrīkhaṇḍa. Śrīkhaṇḍa-vāsīs were renowned vaidyas and had amazing ways to cure patients. Mahāprabhu said that those who are mercifully treated for their illnesses by the residents of Śrīkhaṇḍa would be cured not only of their material disease but of the disease of material existence (bhava-roga) as well.
HIS STAY IN MĀYĀPURA
Śrīla Bhakti Vilāsa Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja later built a maṭha in Māyāpura called Rūpānuga Bhajana Āśrama. He also participated in the first Vraja-maṇḍala parikramā organized by Guru Mahārāja. When he was constructing his maṭha in Māyāpura, he wanted to locate his bhajana kuṭīra on the front side, which was next to the main road. His reasoning was that, that way he would easily get darśana of devotees. However, I requested him not to do so and to build it on the back side instead, so as to avoid any disturbance while doing bhajana. In hindsight, he appreciated the recommendation later, saying, “I am glad I heeded your words. There is so much commotion on the front side due to the honking of vehicles and rikshaws; I would have never been able to do bhajana peacefully!” He lived an extremely renounced life. Day and night he would write scriptures and print them, all by himself. He printed a lot of valuable books.
He would serve the Deities of the maṭha himself, even in his old age. A brahmacārī from our maṭha would go to do the śriṅgāra of the Deities daily, after Śrīla Mahārāja’s sevā was done.
HIS UNIQUE CONTRIBUTION
[Śrīla Bhakti Vilāsa Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja was greatly inspired to retain the sanctity of Śrīdhāma Māyāpura, upon visiting which, many could benefit by witnessing its spiritually surcharged activities and atmosphere. It was the pioneering vision and outcome of years of intense labor of Śrīla Prabhupāda to reinstate Śrīdhāma Māyāpura to its original glory. After the departure of Śrīla Prabhupāda, as the glories of Śrīdhāma Māyāpura spread, many visitors including casual tourists started getting attracted, leading to an unwarranted increase in nuisance in the area.]
Śrīla Mahārāja labored hard to curb many such unwanted activities and disturbances in Māyāpura, like shops selling meat and materialistic people flooding the holy dhāma, equating it to an ordinary tourist destination. People would come and camp on the banks of the Ganges, carrying out illicit activities. There was one shop in particular named Gaurī-Śaṇkara which used to sell chicken. Śrīla Mahārāja objected - Why use Śiva and Pārvatī’s sacred names for such a profane business?
He filed a petition in the High Court to curtail such activities and ensured that the prohibition was sanctioned so as to stop allowing the holy dhāma to turn into another tourist destination for sense enjoyers. When the new restrictions were approved, all such tourists were barred entry to the sacred land of Māyāpura, 4-5 miles away from its boundary. He had gone to great lengths to specially solicit the assistance of the Delhi police force for this. That is why it is still written there, after you cross the railway line, ‘By the order of the High Court, it is prohibited to have picnics from here onwards.’ If anyone was suspected to be coming there for a picnic, with vessels and other paraphernalia, they would be taken for interrogation by the police guard who was always stationed there. Such was his niṣṭhā that he had vowed that – ‘As long as I live, I will not allow my Gurudeva’s holy land to be polluted by materialistic activities.’
It is remarkable how, many disciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda served in multifarious ways and made such vital contributions.
[I beg for mercy at his lotus feet while remembering him on his appearance day today.]