śrī kṛṣṇa caitanya kṛpaika vittaḥ
yaḥ maryādā rakṣati vaiṣṇavānāṁ
kṛpāvalaṁ mādhava preṣṭha kāmī
śrī bhaktidaṁ bhāratim āśrayāmaḥ
My dandavat pranams to all Vaishnavs and Vaishnavis,
On the request of the sevaks of my beloved Gurudev, I would like to share my brief experience in Gurudev's association.
How I came to Gurudev?
I first heard of our Gurudev, Sri Srimad Bhakti Vijnana Bharati Goswami Maharaj through HG Srimati Syamarani didi and other devotees close to her. Since a devotee of the stature of Srimati Syamarani didi had accepted Gurudev as a shiksha- guru, I felt very confident that I should follow in her footsteps. I first met Gurudev back in 2013 in Pune where he would visit to give discourses even at his advanced age. From the time I met him and got to listen to him, I admired his staunch faith and purity. He was always very serious about bhakti, but at the same time he was merciful to give me his darshan and allow me to spend time close to him. After a couple of visits to Pune and spending time with him, my heart was set on receiving his mercy in the form of harinama. At that time Gurudev was not offering harinama or diksha, so I decided to wait until the right time came around. When I found out that Gurudev had started offering diksha, I immediately made travel plans to approach him at the Sri Chaitanya Gaudiya Matha in Chandigarh. It was the month of Kartik. Guru Maharaj would let devotees come to his room early in the morning and in the evening for personal darshan and offered prasadam to everyone. I would follow him around the temple premises feeling extreme bliss and love. One day when I was serving in the kitchen at the matha, Sripad Nemi Maharaj, came in and asked me to follow him immediately as Gurudev was calling me to give me harinama. I was pleasantly surprised as I had no assurance that I would be given harinama on this trip! As I followed Gurudev's instructions, for the first time I experienced taste for chanting the holy name.
Gurudev's instructions on serving Bhagavan:
One day while I was sitting at Gurudev's lotus feet outside his room, I asked him what service he recommended me to do. He asked me to offer Tulasi leaf on a daily basis at the lotus feet of Sri Bhagavan.
Gurudev's special mercy:
In the evenings, Gurudev would give rasika-hari katha at the matha. One evening, while I was playing mridanga, waiting for Gurudev to appear in the room where he would speak, I saw him enter wearing a beautiful garland. I closed my eyes and wished that I could receive that garland from him; as Gurudev settled down he pointed in my direction and the sevaka brought the garland and put it around my neck! This was one of the most blissful experiences I had.
In 2017, Gurudev kindly gave me diksha in Jagannath Puri. I remember I was at the last live discourse I heard from him - the day before his Vyasa puja. He spoke in a very moving way, about the extreme love and service attitude of everyone towards him. Even though most of us had barely begun our journey on the path of bhakti, Gurudev's gratitude towards us, spoke of his profound love towards all Vaishnavas, irrespective of their advancement. I felt like he was encouraging me and many others like me when he stressed the importance of seva. He encouraged us by glorifying all forms of service, he emphasized how we should not feel disheartened if we are unable to perform extensive seva like some others or seva for which we lack qualification. Every act of service, in Gurudev's eyes was appreciable - I felt very hopeful and loved by him.
Gurudev's sickness pastimes and entering nitya-lila:
When Gurudev was manifesting his sickness pastimes in August 2017, I wanted to go see him. By the time I made plans to leave, Gurudev was granted release from the hospital. Before I landed in India, Gurudev had entered nitya-lila. Heart-broken, I hoped to attend his samadhi ceremony in Sri Mayapur Dham. As I rushed to reach the site of the samadhi, I prayed tearfully to Gurudev to grant me his darshan one last time. As I arrived there, Gurudev's abhishekh was being performed. I wept thankfully and joined everyone in glorifying my dearest Gurudev. As we watched, Gurudev descended into the samadhi pit. As soon as he was placed in samadhi, there was loud lightning and pouring rain coming down! Sripad BV Siddhanti Maharaja narrated later, how Gurudev would say that when a ceremony is completed successfully, it is evidenced by lighting and rain!
Gurudev is an extremely erudite speaker, his purity, sincerity and life-time service and glorification of our guru-varga inspires me. Our Guru-pada-padma's life was about serving Vaishnavas and teaching us to follow in his footsteps through his own acharan (behavior). Through my association with him, I experienced his truly rasika vaishnava nature and got to hear his deep realization of the words of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Bhagavan Sri Vrajendra-nandana Krsna. All glories to Sri Srimad Bhakti Vijnana Bharati Goswami Maharaja! I pray to all of you to grant me your mercy, so that Gurudev accepts me as a particle of dust at his lotus feet. May I be able to follow in his footsteps to serve and glorify vaishnavas.
kripa-sindhubhya eva cha
vaishnavebhyo namo namaha
Sri Guru-Vaishnava seva prarathi
Achyuta Krishna das