[September 23, 2018 is the first disappearance day of Śrīla Bhakti Vijñāna Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja in Vṛndāvana, India. The following is an excerpt from the upcoming English translation of the three articles about the life and precepts of Śrīla Mahārāja published in Hindi in ‘Bhagavata Patrikā’. Editors’ inputs have been included in square brackets.]
ALWAYS POSSESSED WITH AN ASTUTELY SUBLIME PERSPECTIVE PURSUANT TO SCRIPTURAL DOCTRINE
One unique feature was always striking in Śrīla Mahārāja’s character - whenever he accepted responsibility for, or commenced any service, he would become so absorbed in it that all else would fade into oblivion. Having once imbibed something as truth, or given his word to someone, he would never retract, no matter how much inconvenience was endured to fulfill his stance. Even in the seemingly most inconsequential incidents, one would be astonished to hear his astutely subtle and deep viewpoint, which was always pursuant to scriptural doctrine. We will present one such anecdote, as recounted by Śrīla Mahārāja, which depict these special qualities in him.
One time when I was residing at Śrīdhāma Māyāpura, I contracted chicken pox along with many other devotees. I became incapable of rendering any service. However, when I remembered ‘tat kṛpa avalokana’, in other words, ‘seeing Bhagavān’s mercy in every situation’, which is one of the sixty four limbs of devotional service, I saw my present situation also as auspicious. I considered, “Generally, being engaged in some service or the other, there is no opportunity to study scriptures. But now I can study the scriptures for as much time as I like.” Therefore, I began reading Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta. As I read on, I became so engrossed and blissful that I would not feel inclined to put the book down for even a moment. At that time, Śrīpāda Kṛṣṇa Keśava Brahmacārī, a disciple of Śrīla Prabhupāda, told the other brahmacārīs, “Please pay attention to him, lest he become insane by incessantly reading the scripture.” Anyhow, I actually did not experience the agony of chicken pox at all, because most of my time was spent reading Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta.
Upon hearing that some devotees were suffering from chicken pox, Guru Mahārāja wrote a letter to the then temple president of Śrī Caitanya Gauḍīya Maṭha, Śrīdhāma Māyāpura, Śrī Bhaktiprasāda Āśrama Mahārāja, informing him to provide a special diet such as halwā and purī, etc. to those who were suffering. Although Śrī Āśrama Mahārāja mentioned Guru Mahārāja’s letter and his instructions regarding the special prescribed diet, for whatever reason, he was unable to provide that diet for us. At that time, some brahmacārīs began to urge me, “You always have an active correspondence with Guru Mahārāja through letters so inform Guru Mahārāja of the fact that we are not being provided the diet he prescribed and describe to him the overall situation.”
I replied, “If, for some reason, Śrī Āśrama Mahārāja is unable to follow the order of Guru Mahārāja, then that should be a matter of his concern, not ours. Why should we become despondent over this? Secondly, I cannot demand anything from Guru Mahārāja because when I had expressed my desire to permanently reside at the maṭha, I had not entered into any agreement stating that, ‘I will serve but you all should take care of me in special circumstances.’ Therefore it is only appropriate to spend this time howsoever we can while depending on guru, Vaiṣṇavas and Bhagavān.” Then, two of the brahmacārīs spoke, “We have informed our family members by letter, they will definitely make some arrangement or other. If you wish, you can also write to those from your pūrva-āśrama (life before joining maṭha) and call for something.” I replied, “If I write to my ex-relatives, I know they will certainly make some arrangement or the other. Regardless, I will not do so because despite the fact that they fulfilled my various necessities for many years, I have not done anything for them in exchange. By becoming a brahmacārī, I indirectly declared my ‘lack-of-support’ to them and now, upon experiencing a little inconvenience, is it befitting to ask them for help? Sheerly out of shame, I will never be able to do such a thing.”
After a couple of days, one brahmacārī approached me, suggesting, “My father has sent some money to me, I will get something for everyone out of that money.” Hearing him, I exclaimed, “Don’t dare to get anything for me using that money! I will not accept anything, so do not bring anything to me.” Petrified, the brahmacārī left.
After a couple of days, two of my godbrothers, Śrī Nitāi Datta and Śrī Keśava Mukherjee, came to Śrīdhāma Māyāpura for a few days. Seeing the devotees afflicted with chicken pox, they were inspired to arrange prasādam for all of us as per the prescribed diet. Then onwards, this belief became firmly rooted in my heart that if we are desirous to advance on the path of truth then, by the inspiration of Bhagavān, even unknown and unlikely personalities will come forward and provide exactly whatever is necessary.