om ajnana-timirandhasya jnananjana-salakaya
caksur unmilitam yena tasmai sri-gurave namah
I would like to place this small offering at the lotus feet of my most revered spiritual master, nitya-lila-prabista oṁ visnupada astottara-sata Sri Srimad Bhakti Vijnana Bharati Gosvami Maharaja. Although you are absent from my material vision, I am not blind to seeing your merciful potency which is ever present in my life.
I recall when devotees would ask Guru Maharaja, "Oh, Srila Maharaja, when we leave here and go back to our respective homes, how will we be able to serve and associate with you?" Guru Maharaja, in a way that brought calming reassurance to all of those present, would say in essence, "You should remember and meditate on the Hari Katha which was spoken and sincerely try to implement these teachings into your lives". So often, Guru Maharaja would emphasize the special importance of remembering the Vaisnavas and that glorifying such personalities is key to developing bhakti. Also, such remembrance and glorification of Vaisnavas opens up a connection for us to receive Their blessings and better imbibe Their quality of conduct in our own lives.
Guru Maharaja was so dedicated to serving Hari Katha, even when His health was not so good. He would uplift and inspire all of us with his unparalleled strength and service attitude. Guru Maharaja was the embodiment, the personification of seva to Hari, Guru, and Vaisnavas.
Once, in Sridhama Mayapur in 2017, Guru Maharaja's health was very delicate and it was declared He would not be giving Hari Katha that night. Still, so many devotees gathered in front of His doorway engaging in sankirtana. Our hearts were full of concern. The doors to the room opened, and much to our surprise, Guru Maharaja, without the assistance of any sevahk, arose from His bed and began walking toward us with an indescribable energy in His body, taking His seat in front of us to deliver Hari Katha. Undoubtedly, Guru Maharaja could hear our hearts crying out for Him. I will never forget how strong Guru Maharaja looked to me on that occassion, I find myself at a loss for words to accurately describe it.
I came to stay with Guru Maharaja 5 months before this incident. I arrived at Sri Vrindavan Dhama during kartik in 2016 with a firm conviction that I would not leave His association. At that time when I arrived, Guru Maharaja was staying at Sri Gopinath Gaudiya matha, giving Hari Katha every night. I slept outside of His doorway for a week with a few other boys, until everyone shifted to Sri Gopinath Bhavan for the remainder of kartik. Just as a wandering stray dog dedicates themselves to one who shows them kindness and compassion, I in the same way after wandering lost and confused for so long, began following this most munificent and merciful Vaisnava, convinced He would lead me home.
I was taken in by the sevakas and even given some small services to perform here and there. Knowing my pitiful condition, they had mercy on me and treated me with affection. I was encouraged to lead kirtans in the evening before Guru Maharaja would give Hari Katha. I would feel so nervous singing in front of Him. Guru Maharaja would say that we should know the deeper meanings and moods of these kirtans and bhajans we sing, not just whimsically attempt to sing them.
Just like that, Guru maharaja always encouraged us to go deeper. Even by just allowing the eyes to rest on Guru Maharaja's transcendental form alone would we all be inspired to go deep into these truths passed down to us by this most perfect line of disciplic succession we are so fortunate to be in.
Without fail Gurudeva would distribute prasadam from His soft lotus hand to any and all who came to take His darsan. If I could, I would go back to the last time that I received prasadam from Him, relish it to my full capacity, and still not be able to fully understand just how special it was. Gurudeva, once was asked "What are you doing when You give Prasadam?" To that, He would reply, "I am taking away anarthas and giving bhakti."
I really miss being in Gurudeva's presence and coming into His room in the morning to pay my dandavat pranams. I really miss hearing his sweet and soothing voice and seeing his beautiful smile which would fill anyone fortunate enough to see it with bliss. I miss honoring His remnants and cleaning His dishes. I am missing that deep gaze which pierced through the facade that I put up and went directly to my soul. I miss watching Gurudeva walk around His Puri matha, observing the construction going on. I miss watching Him sit alone under the sun, undisturbed and uninterrupted. I say these things now, but truthfully, i did not take full advantage of His association. My condition is such that I am completely and utterly ungrateful and unintelligent.
Guru Maharaja would say that His blessings are always there.
I continue to feel your love and guidance, and I pray that You will always keep me under the cool shade of Your lotus feet. Although I feel I stray away at times, I will forever wear the collar You gave me and this servant will never forget his master. I am yours.
kripa-sindhubhya eva cha
vaishnavebhyo namo namaha