"You Smiled, Chastised and Ignored for My Good"
An offering to the lotus feet of the Guru-Ji
My dear Guru-ji, the savior of my life, I prostrate myself at your lotus feet, press them to my heart and I pray you and all your beloved masters to give the right understanding of how to touch your unlimited glory and write just what will satisfy you. My heart is covered with ignorance, in which the pratishtha dances, so give me strength to glorify only you, not myself.
The first meeting
When my harinama-guru, Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja, entered nitya-lila, I was completely at a loss, not knowing who to follow. I prayed to Nityananda Prabhu and our Guru-varga. One day I had a dream, in which a beautiful, unusually shining girl said: "You are not looking for a guru, the guru is looking for you." Soon after that, I went to India and there was this meeting. When I saw you, my heart was filled with love and repentance, which I had never experienced before. I realized that you found me, picked up from the roadside. Tears of gratitude to Nityananda Prabhu rolled unceasingly, and there was only one desire: to become an ant to invisibly sneak into your room and ride in the dust of your lotus feet and breathe sandalwood fragrance of spirituality that always filled your room. At that moment, you gave me the opportunity to understand that true happiness is not liberation from the suffering of this world, it is an opportunity, life after life to be in communion with pure devotees. In my head sounded the words of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura: "Ḳ̣̣ita-janma hau jathā̄ tūyā dā̄sa- I am ready to be born a worm, just to remain Your devotee."
Guru-ji, all this is not my feelings and emotions, as now I am covered again by the mud of my own selfish desires. You only mercifully allowed me to touch your mood. Later, from your katha, I learned that this is the influence of communication with pranaya-bhakta.
Indistinguishable from Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja
One day, when I was washing your plate, in my heart came a great regret, that I had never had the opportunity to physically serve Srila Gurudeva, Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja. I thought: "I'm so unlucky! Now Srila Gurudev is gone, and I will never be able to serve him." With such thoughts, I went into your room to put the plate in place. You gave me sweets, but when I almost left the room, you called me again and said: "This is the sweets for you from me." Then he took out an apple and put it in my hand, saying: "And this is to you from your Gurudev," and smiled sweetly. Before, I had heard many times that a siksa-guru was indistinguishable from a diksa-guru. But then I realized that you do not just know my heart, you are that person, serving whom, I can satisfy Gurudev. Moreover, the most effective way to develop a connection with Srila Gurudeva is to serve you, the one who is with him on the same spiritual level. Through this story, you showed the principle of akhanda-guru-tattva.
Although you shed so much mercy on me, I still tried to distinguish between you and Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja. One day a group of devotees came to you, who listened to hari-katha on Radha-kunda. They asked you to tell Krsna-lila. You, the infinite ocean of mercy, answered them very strictly, that we do not have the qualification to listen about it. You said only that which could benefit those devotees who were present in your room that day. But I was so stupid! I decided that you are uttering something that contradicts the katha of Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja. I was very upset.
Later, I came to you for a personal darshan and asked: "Our Srila Gurudeva, in the introduction to the Vena-Gita, says that from the very beginning of the spiritual life, we must listen to Krsna's pastimes. He refers to the following verse:
anugrahaya bhaktanam manusham deham asritah
bhajate tadrisih krida yah srutva tat-paro bhavet
"Krishna appears in His eternal human form and reveals His pastimes from mercy to devotees. Upon hearing of His pastimes, one should devote himself to serving Him." (Srimad-Bhagavatam, 10.33.36)
However, you said that we are not qualified to listen to Krsna-lila. My dear Guru-ji, you gave such a terrific answer, after which I realized that never, under any circumstances, we should not distinguish between pure devotees. We should understand their individual characteristics, as well as the time, place and circumstances under which they speak. You very patiently explained to me: "Do you think that I do not know the specifics of the katha of Srila Narayana Maharaja? We have known each other for a long time, we discussed "Jaiva-dharma" together when he wrote comments on this book. He invited me to go with him to the West. Srila Narayana Maharaja is my close friend. He did not only talk about Krsna-lila, he gave many lectures on "Upadesamrta" and the third verse of "Siksastakam", did not he? Is it right to concentrate only on one part of what he gave. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam, in the Caitanya-caritamrta and the books of Sat-Goswami describe everything, but why do pure devotees write new comments? Why does Krishna send his companions here? Because the Absolute Truth is multifaceted, each Vaishnava shows different facets of it according to dasa, kala, patra. Therefore, it is so important to always strive to communicate with a living sadhu who sees your heart and gives instructions accordingly. You can not understand what instructions described in the sastras are for you. Therefore, the guidance of a pure devotee is so necessary. Never discriminate among pure Vaisnavas. If there are questions, you should ask." My dear Guru-ji, thank you for this incomparable lesson!
After the first five months with you, I returned to Russia. I wanted to tell everyone only about you. However, at that time, some devotees assured me that Srila Narayana Goswami Maharaj would never be pleased with me, since I went to Sri Chaitanya Gaudiya Math. One day, Srila Gurudev, Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Goswami Maharaj appeared to me in a dream, and I asked him: "Gurudev, are you pleased that I am communicating with Srila Bharati Maharaj?" Srila Gurudev replied: "You can not even imagine how pleased I am. Srila Bharati Maharaj is my dear, close friend. "
After that, whoever said anything, I always firmly believed that you are indistinguishable from Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja for me.
Mood of service
Guru-ji, the most valuable thing that you let me know is that without Vaishnava service I can never understand sastra, chanting harinama, living in the holy dhama, serving the deities. You taught that a genuine sadhu-sanga is sadhu service. Only in the mood of service can one cultivate devotion to Sri Krishna. When I read your book "Volcanic energy", every time I am amazed at what unlimited the spirit of service Srila Bhakti Dayita Madhava Maharaj possessed. Reflecting on the versatility of the mood of service for Vaishnavas described in this book, I realize that I am not something that is not devotee, I'm not even human. You are indistinguishable from Srila Bhakti Dayita Madhava Gosvami Maharaja, you are just as he tried to serve every devotee. You told hari-katha with great zeal, distributed prasadam to every devotee, answered many questions and often lamented that this body does not allow you to do other services.
In 2012, we came for Kartika to Chandigarh. We were five russian devotees. One day you called us, and then took us to the room where the vegetables were stored, and started asking about what is growing in Russia, what we can eat. Then you inquired what dish we like. One devotee replied that we like mashed potatoes. You called Narottama Prabhu and asked him to tell him how to cook it. After that, you ordered Narottama Prabhu to prepare mashed potatoes every morning. We were shocked by your concern for us, new devotees. One day Narottama Prabhu told how one day Srila Bhakti Dayita Madhava Goswami Maharaj organized prasadam for the guests of the Math who arrived after the end of the lunch prasadam. Soon after, they became devotees. Narottam Prabhu explained that, following your Gurudev, you care for us. You showed the versatility of guru-seva and taught us to honor everyone who is trying to follow the path of bhakti.
With great respect you treated every thing that we brought, putting it to your head. If you saw that in the Math somewhere without the need the light is on or water runs, you immediately turned it off. You taught us to take everything absolutely as guru's mercy, as objects for serving the Lord and the Vaishnavas. Verily your mood of service was present in every your action.
One day a few years ago you said, "I live while I tell hari-katha. As soon as I can not do this, I'll leave right away." Through hari-katha you cut the material knots in our hearts and, at the same time, gave a very subtle sense of connection with spiritual reality.
Guru-ji you were always giving prasadam to everyone visiting you. Once leaving India to Russia you asked me: “Do you know why I am giving always prasadam? Do you think I just want to feed them? No?”
prasada-seva, korite hoia, sakala prapanca jaya
By serving prasadam, we can conquer over material nature.
( «Shuddha-Bhakata», v. 5)
I have a sincere belief that it will help people to get rid of the shackles of material bondage. That's why you always have to bring prasad for the devotees and distribute it".
You also loved to watch the devotees honor prasadam. When we used to come to Jagannatha Puri with you, prasad was handed out right outside your room. You used to come out of the room and watch us while eating. It made us feel extraordinarily blessed.
Once you called us to your room and gave us delicious pancakes that Narottam Prabhu prepared. We were very happy to have them in your room. You, seeing our happiness, also smiled joyfully and asked whether it was good or not.
When we were together in Pune, every day during dinner Narottama Prabhu asked how much each devotee ate. One day we wondered why he asks us about it every day. He said, "I personally don't care, but when I go into Srila Maharaj's room, he asks me how much, every devotee has tasted chapati and feels joy when I tell him about it."
The deepening internal affairs
Guru-JI you have always treated me as it was necessary for my real goodness, knowing when to praise, ignore or give instructions.
At first, you gave me a lot of opportunities to be physically close and get your attention and smiles. Every day, with a very small group we came to you for darshan, that time you often looked me in the eyes. Then I understood not much, but just felt incomparable happiness and love. You praised me even for the most insignificant service, I considered myself very lucky. So you gave me affection for you.
The next time I came to see you, you were chopping off my pride. No matter what I do, no matter how hard I tried to catch your eye, you just ignored me. You always praised my friend, but not me. Then it was very difficult for me, although I understood that it is a mercy. Although I was aware that this was how you raised me, I had no strength to accept and the only thing I could do, was tearfully pray and continue. Soon I realized that although externally we had little communication, but internally, through prayer it became much more.
That year you said to me, "When you do any service, try to always sing the Holy names. When the house is cleaned, cook, wash, repeat Harinam! You are where your mind is, if you sing the name of the Lord, you can do seva, not karma. This is how your consciousness aspires to Bhagavan." Then I asked you if I could be in my mind with you, being in Russia? You said we are where our mind is. When I remember your instructions during my daily duties and begin to chant the Holy name, my mind rushes to you. Although this teaching sounds simple, it has bottomless depth and versatility that can change one's whole life and make the connection with you more deep.
At that time, you very clearly delineated in my mind external and internal, to cry out for the Almighty and deepen the connection with you in my heart. Now I understand that what I received that year is much more valuable than just your external attention and smiles.
Guruji, when I first came to Calcutta, I didn't understand English very well. At that time, there was no one in the temple who could translate into Russian. Soon Narottama Prabhu called us to you for darshan. We translated what we wanted to ask by the dictionary. You answered in English and looked me at the eye.
In that moment, I started to understand you, moreover, I was simultaneously translating into Russian, although some of the words I didn't know, but the point was clear. Seeing how I translate, you asked me, "How is that possible? In Jagannath Puri I saw that you do not understand English, you were translated by other devotees." I said, "Srila Maharaj, I don't know how this is possible, but by your grace everything is possible." In the answer you only smiled.
When I came to India, I used to wash your pots and plates at least once a day. This service was very dear to me. However, in the 2014 in Chandigarh, Narottama Prabhu told me not to come for this service because it was already done by other Mata-JI. I was very upset, but I didn't tell anyone. Every day, I felt bad more and more that I didn't have this service and eventually burst into tears, but no one saw it.
That day, you asked Amritananda Prabhu if he was cold. He said no. Then you said, "Madhumati feels is very cold." Then you told Narottama Prabhu to give me seva. I was amazed, I didn't tell anyone about my experiences, but you knew everything. I genuinely wanted this service, and you graciously allowed this. It was miraculous.
Conquered by the love of his servants
Once in Chandigarh you went out to bask in the sun, we sat around wanting to hear your hari-katha. But the sevaks forbade us to ask you questions, explaining that you can't talk much. As soon as they left, you started talking to us. Then he looked around and asked us not to tell the sevak about it. In fact, I remember many such cases.
Once, after dinner, when all mathavasis rested, I sat on a bench opposite your room and read. You looked out the window, called me and said with a smile: "My sevak has locked me from outside so I can rest, but I want to walk, I have a key, open the door." I did what you asked me to do. After walking around the math for a while, you came back and told me to lock the room and return the key, so none of the sevaks would know about it, otherwise they would be upset. All of this you spoke sweetly, laughing.
Guru-JI, you always amazed me with your obedience to your sevaks, who loved you immensely and sincerely served. Although they were your servants, you were afraid to disobey them. Like Krishna, you have been conquered by the love of your devotees.
A unique contribution
Guru-ji, you showed a perfect example of worshiping pure devotees. You taught us to follow the Vaisnava Panjika carefully. You did not just often talk about the paramount importance of this process, you taught us by your own example. Every day you checked the Vaishnava calendar and glorified the Vaisnavas. Your hari-katha about these great souls was so powerful and so imbued with the mood of deep separation that your love for them touched our hearts. Thanks to you, we learned that Srila Prabhupada has so many great disciples.
Under your guidance was published a wonderful book "My beloved Masters", now, thanks to this publication, the whole world has the good fortune to remember about these paramahamsas.
So very skillfully with your love, you destroyed the sectarian mood. Thanks to you, we realized that we are all one big family of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and no matter what Math one is from.
Importance of real-life communication with the sadhu
Guru-ji, you have always emphasized importance of real-life communication with the sadhu. When, in 2015, I asked blessings on the website of your hari-katha in Russian, you very accurately placed priorities by saying: "This is good enough, as far as it will inspire to come to me and receive real-life communication."
One day a devotee asked you: I read in the book of Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja about how important it is to read the sastras and books of Vaisnavas. Also, I repeatedly heard from you and Srila Gurudeva (Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja) that there is no substitute for living communication and listening to the shabda-brahman. How can these statements to bring into harmony?
Srila Bhakti Vigyana Bharati Maharaj: Indeed, there are two such statements. At the initial level, we must listen directly, from the mouth of the sadhu. Then we can find sincerity. It is very important to listen to pure devotees and serve them! The second statement is that by reading the books of Vaishnavas, we get communication with them. This is the truth, but you must understand that direct interaction with the Vaishnava will have a greater impact. In doing so, you must not think that Srila Vedavyasa, Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami and all our guru-varga have not told anything. All that is needed to gain devotion is already in their literary works. Everything can be found in the prayers of Srila Narottama Dasa Thakura and Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. However, people read "Caitanya-caritamrta" and become sahajiyas. This indicates that they are not able to understand true meaning of this work.
For the conditioned soul, it is much more important to listen directly from the lotus mouth of the sadhu, his katha is full not only of spiritual nectar, but also expresses the correct understanding of the meaning of Vedas. Though words of previous acaryas have great power, we did not find qualification to understand that is actual for us. Communicating with the sadhu, it is possible to find understanding that the sadhu and his writings are not different from each other.
Many books are written, but only the Vaisnava who has realized himself, a bhakta-bhagavata, can give people great fortune to hear about it. If you do not have the opportunity to directly ask something to the sadhu, then you can address for details to a grantha-bhagavata. Thus, you need a sincere need for this knowledge, and not just a desire to accumulate information and be proud of it.
Another time the devotees asked blessings on the sermon, but you answered that your blessings are to communication with the sublime devotees and service to it.
Somehow we shared with you what we want to invite preaching devotees to Russia, organize festivals, but you answered to us personally: "It is not necessary to do it, try to come to me as often as possible. If three times a year is impossible, come twice, if that is impossible for you, always come in Kartik."
Thus, you have always inspired us in service and real-life communication with the sadhu. Guru-ji, I pray to you that good luck will smile to me, and I meet in this life a person that is not different from you.
Leaving Sri Chaitanya Gaudiya Math
Guru-ji, you have never aspired to take the position of guru, to gain fame and honor, you have always served everyone, inspired to perform seva and chant harinama. Even talking about how to help the younger devotees, you often used words: "I served them ..."
When we understood the value of communicating with you, therefore, 5-7 people came to you for darshans. However, every year by the will of Krishna, more and more people realized your glory. In front of my eyes, many devotees asked to give them harinama and diksa, but you always answered that your duty is only to inspire to chant the holy name, therefore you have blessed all devotees to receive initiation from Srila Bhakti Ballabha Tirtha Gosvami Maharaja.
When the highly respected Srila Bhakti Ballabha Tirtha Maharaj entered the internal state of consciousness, you did not approve of the initiation that began to happen on his behalf. You have detailed why this is apasiddhanta in your letter to the GBC, and why in this situation you were forced to give initiations. Guru-ji, I believe that this letter will help even new generation of sincere devotees avoid mistakes and understand the fine details of this issue.
Although outwardly you left Sri Chaitanya Gaudiya Math, but in reality you never left. After you left, a few days later we met with you in Delhi. You gave us a very important darshan in English. I tried to keep it in my heart, and then I wrote down what I remembered, because I felt what you said is very important to you and to us. I'm sorry if I made any inaccuracies.
Srila Bhakti Vigyana Bharati Maharaj: Math is not walls, it is ideals of our guru-varga. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati taught not to get attached to the walls, but always follow the uncompromising teachings of suddha-bhakti. My Guru Maharaj and his great spiritual brothers taught us this from our own example. After Srila Prabhupada left, many troubles began in Sri Chaitanya Matha, because some individuals deviated from the teachings of their spiritual master. At that time, one by one, Srila Prabhupada's older disciples were leaving their math. Guru Maharaj remained and continued to serve Srila Prabhupada in all possible ways. However, some cunning devotee forced him to leave, but he continued his service to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. Defending the principles of suddha-bhakti, Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Maharaj even sued those who deviated from the teachings of Srila Prabhupada. Following the example of my guru-varga, seeing deviations, I was forced to leave Sri Chaitanya Gaudiya Math.
I served this Math for many years, designed and built most of the temples. Together with Gurudev, we cut a red ribbon when we opened our first temple.
Guru Maharaj took me in a different service: building Math in the holy place of the appearance of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, organizing huge festivals and serving all the disciples of Srila Prabhupada. Despite all this, now, after leaving Math, which I served all my life, I am happy because I remained true to the ideals that Guru Maharaj put into me.
To this day, he continues to care about me. I did not plan to leave from Math during Sri Navadvipa-dhama Parikrama, but realizing the mood of the leadership, I wanted to do it as soon as possible, and Guru-Ji arranged everything. One disciple of Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja bought us tickets to Delhi. Another devotee allowed us to stay at his home and met us at the airport. We had a hard way, we flew to Delhi at 24.00, and only at one o'clock in the morning my sevaks took a little prasadam.
Many devotees came to me and asked: is it right that the mantras on behalf of Srila Bhakti Ballabha Tirtha Maharaja are given through an audio recording. I could not deceive them, since such initiation is completely contrary to the teachings of guru-varga. One devotee asked, "If I have an audio recording of the mantras uttered by Srila Bhakti Ballabha Tirtha Maharaj, does this mean that I, too, can give harinama and diksha on his behalf?" The presence of an audio record alone does not allow anyone to do this. Srila Bhakti Ballabha Tirtha Maharaj himself did not consent to initiate on his behalf in this way. Seeing the situation, carefully thought everything over, I was forced to start giving mantras to devotees, although I never aspired to this.
Srila Narottama Das Thakura says ("Sri guru-carana padma", 2):
guru-mukha-padma-vakya, cittete koriya aikya,
ar nā koriho mane āşā
sri-guru-carana rati, ei se uttama-gati
je prasade pure sarva āşā
"I want this that words emanating from the lotus mouth of the spiritual master purified my consciousness, my heart. I have no other desires, for a loving attachment to the lotus feet of Gurudeva is the highest goal. By his grace all desires are fulfilled. "
Mantra is not a simple sound, it is a spiritual potency that passes from the mouth of the guru, it can not be conveyed through an audio recording, if the Guru himself did not give his sanction to this. Therefore Narottama Das Thakura wrote that the words emanating from the lotus mouth of Sri Guru are capable of purifying the heart.
Madhavendra Puri in Vrndavana had everything for service: the temple, many cows, every day a big festival was held, annakut. But one day, Gopal appeared to him in a dream and said that he was hot and asked Madhavendra Puri to bring sandalwood from Puri and put on him. Upon learning of the Lord's desire, Sri Madhavendra Puri did not hesitate to leave everything and in old age he walked from Vrndavana to Jagannatha Puri. He was not attached to external comfort, in his heart was one desire - to bring joy to Gopal. For the service of the Lord, Sri Madhavendra Puri easily left everything that he had.
Simplicity and sweetness
Guru-ji, you are undoubtedly the greatest acharya, but you have never aspired to take the position of a guru and avoided it. You did not like talking about yourself, instead you could glorify your guru-varga for hours on end.
Although you built most of the branches of Sri Chaitanya Gaudiya Math, under certain circumstances, to serve the Lord, you left this organization quite easily, without attachment, soared like a bird. You have never been interested in the number of people who came to you at katha, how it was appreciated, how much donations were given, what they gave you. External circumstances did not affect you. Many times you made it clear that you know our hearts, so it's pointless to be hypocritical and try to look better than we really are. You always said only the truth, regardless of whether someone likes it or not. You were absolutely fearless, because you took refuge in the Supreme Lord completely. Your life was the embodiment of this verse:
sadhavo hridayam mahyam sadhunam hridayam tv aham
mad-anyat te na jananthi naham tebhyo manag api
"I live in the hearts of pure devotees, and they live in my heart. My devotees do not know anybody except Me, but I do not know anyone but them." (Srimad-Bhagavatam, 9.4.68)
Although you are the greatest expert on the scriptures, who have grasped the Absolute Truth, tattva-darsi, but I was always much more attracted by your simplicity, immediacy and sweetness. Your smile eclipsed millions of suns, and your loving and profound look freed from suffering and ignorance.
Trying to become a servant