Śrīla Sāraṅga Ṭhākura
[December 2, 2021 is the disappearance day of Śrīla Sāraṅga Ṭhākura in Vṛndāvana, India. The following is an excerpt of a bhāva anuvāda of a discourse by Śrīla Bhakti Vijñāna Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja on December 9, 2015. Editors’ input: Additional text has been included in square brackets to facilitate the flow of content.]
Today is also a special tithi - the tirobhāva tithi of Śrīla Sāraṅga Ṭhākura.
BRINGING THE DEAD BACK TO LIFE
Śrīla Sāraṅga Ṭhākura was a devotee of Śrī Caitanyadeva. He never used to make any disciples. Śrī Caitanyadeva said, “Why don’t you accept any disciples?” He replied, “Because I do not find any one qualified.” Then Śrī Caitanyadeva assured, “When you accept someone as your disciple, he will become qualified.” At that time, he resolved, ‘Tomorrow, when I go for a bath in the Holy Ganges, whomever I first meet, I will accept as my disciple.’ The next day the first person he came across was one dead body which was floating on a raft and flowing away in the Ganges. So, he revived the corpse and offered him the [dīkṣā] mantra. And because that disciple received the mercy of Śrīla Sāraṅga Ṭhākura, he came to be known as Śrī Sāraṅga Murari.
Śrīla Sāraṅga Ṭhākura’s Śrīpāṭa is in Māmagāchi, a little further from the railway line. There was a lake there, and near that lake there used to be a dilapidated house. Once Śrīla Sāraṅga Ṭhākura was sitting on one wall of that house, brushing his teeth when an ascetic (yogi) arrived there mounted on a lion and wished to have his darsana. Śrīla Sāraṅga Ṭhākura thought, “This ascetic is a superior personality, why should he be bothered, instead I shall go to see him.” So Śrīla Sāraṅga Ṭhākura ordered that broken wall - ‘Let’s go’. When Śrīla Sāraṅga Ṭhākura appeared before that ascetic mounted on a broken wall, the latter wondered - ‘What opulence can I exhibit before this personality? Although I am mounted on a lion, which is still an animate being! Anyways people even casually subdue such animals.’
Like in Nandanakānana, there was a lioness called Lakṣmi. There was a tourist company by the name Mukherjee; they used to take tourists on a safari. They had two buses and they used to be usually packed because on that safari, the guide would call out to the lioness, “Lakṣmi! Come over, come over', and the lioness would come to him and he would put his arm around her and pose for photographs. To witness this spectacle, people would get very excited. So, a lion can be subdued anyway, however Śrīla Sāraṅga Ṭhākura traveled on a dilapidated wall, an inanimate object. Witnessing this, that ascetic fled.
When we visit that place during Navadvīpa parikramā, the Deities served by Śrīla Sāraṅga Ṭhākura are there. Earlier it was under the management of Gauḍīya Maṭha, and later when there were disturbances in the maṭha, the management went back to their hands. There is beautiful grove where Śrīla Sāraṅga Ṭhākura did harināma. A little further from this place is the Śrīpāta of Śrīla Vrṇdāvana dāsa Thākura.
REAL ESSENCE OF DĪKṢĀ
Today is Śrīla Sāraṅga Ṭhākura’s tirobhāva tithi. We will pray for his grace because whoever Śrīla Sāraṅga Ṭhākura accepts becomes qualified. Otherwise, in the words of Śrīla Prabhupāda, dīkṣā in essence doesn’t take place. [The process of hearing of dīkṣā mantras] is compared to simply air being blown into one’s ear. There is one speech by Śrīla Prabhupāda, ‘If divya jñāna (transcendental knowledge) is not attained, if the tendency to commit sins is not completely uprooted, then how can it be considered that dīkṣā has taken place?
divyaṁ jñānaṁ yato dadyāt kuryāt pāpasya saṅkṣayam tasmād dīkṣeti sā proktā deśikais tattva-kovidaiḥ
"Dīkṣā is the process by which one can awaken his transcendental knowledge and vanquish all reactions caused by sinful activity. A person expert in the study of the revealed scriptures knows this process as dīkṣā."
If transcendental knowledge is bestowed and the sins are completely destroyed, only then it is dīkṣā otherwise it is not dīkṣā, it is like blowing air into the ear. This is Śrīla Prabhupāda terminology. So, when transcendental knowledge will be attained, only then it is called dīkṣā.
I JOINED THE MAṬHA SIMPLY TO SERVE
I do not know much about Śrīla Sāraṅga Ṭhākura, because I only speak what I have heard. All my life I have been [primarily] performing one service - construction for the maṭha, wherever that opportunity arose. I sacrificed preaching and studying, I was simply engaged in this service. What is the reason? I had this conception in mind, ‘Even if I do not end up performing hari-bhajana, the construction service that I am engaged in, where the devotees will eventually get to hear hari-katha, at least all that good will to come to me, no one can stop that.’
Only in 1982 I left construction service, because I met with an accident. At that time, in Kolkata, I read many old scriptures, lying in my bed. The librarian would give them to me and take them back after I had read them. This is how I ended up reading the scriptures; I did not read them upon joining the maṭha. Whatever I read earlier, that is it. This is my history. All I did was seva, I did not come to the maṭha to study the scriptures, I only happened to study them out of constraint [since I could not engage in my primary service being bed-ridden].