Śrīla Bhakti Jivana Janārdana Gosvāmī Mahārāja
[December 22, 2020 is the Appearance day of Śrīla Bhakti Jivana Janārdana Gosvāmī Mahārāja in Vṛndāvana, India. The following is an excerpt of a bhāva anuvāda of a discourse by Śrīla Bhakti Vijñāna Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja on December 7, 2016. Editors’ input: Additional text has been included in square brackets to facilitate the flow of content.]
Today is the āvirbhāva tithi of my śīkṣā guru, Śrīla Bhakti Jivana Janārdana Gosvāmī Mahārāja. The āvirbhāva and tirobhāva tithis of Vaiṣṇavas are both equally worshipable. From external vision, he performed the pastime of appearing in the district of Ganjam in Odisha. He would speak very sweetly. I had his first darśana at Śrī Syāmānanda Gauḍīya Maṭha [Medinipura].
Later he established a maṭha in Kharagpur at Śrīvasa palli. In a village nearby he also had a gośālā. He used to speak a lot of pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa from the Purāṇas. He spoke very slowly and sweetly. He would participate in Navadvīpa Parikrama and after the parikrama he used to stay in Navadvīpa itself. He would hold a grand festival on Rādhāṣṭamī and he would repeatedly chant 'Rādhe Rādhe'. Towards the end of his manifest pastimes, he awarded sannyāsa to Śrīla Bhakti Kamala Govinda Mahārāja and ordered him to become the successor of his maṭha. Śrīla Bhakti Kamala Govinda Mahārāja would also speak very sweetly.
THE SPECIALTY OF GANJAM
In Odisha, Ganjam is famous for Vaiṣṇavas. Vaiṣṇavas from this place visit Jagannātha Purī, throughout the year. Wherever these Vaiṣṇavas go for pilgrimage, they first have darśana of Jagannātha Deva and upon returning from pilgrimage, they again take darśana of Jagannātha Deva. This is the standard practice. People of Ganjam do not consume rice from any other place; this type of rice is called khanija rice and it is their specialty. First, they stuff the rice crop underneath the earth and after one year has elapsed, they extract that stored rice crop and use the rice which is called 'Khaṇi kā cāwal’. Some of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s disciples such as Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Gaurava Vaikhānas Gosvāmī Mahārāja, Ānanda-līlā-maya-vigraha Prabhu, Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Vaibhava Purī Gosvāmī Mahārāja came from that place.
Among the people of Odisha, those from Cuttack are addressed as atheists. When there was a Tsunami in Odisha, everything was destroyed by the flood, so much so that not even traces of the houses remained. That tsunami wrecked all four directions surrounding Puri and created much havoc, however, Purī itself remained unaffected. Nothing happened in Ganjam as well despite being near the ocean. People from Cuttack and nearby places came to Purī to take shelter. Hence it is observed from this instance that Jagannātha's sevakas are always protected by Jagannātha Deva.
‘RĀDHE RĀDHE’ TILL THE LAST BREATH
During the first tirobhāva festival of Śrīla Bhakti Jivana Janārdana Gosvāmī Mahārāja in Kharagpura, the organizers had distributed a tumbler to everyone who participated in the festival with his name engraved on it. I still have that tumbler I received. Śrīla Bhakti Jivana Janārdana Gosvāmī Mahārāja did not perform sickness pastimes much. He would always chant “Rādhe! Rādhe! Rādhe!” and uttering like this, he left his body.
BENEFIT OF REMEMBERING VAIṢṆAVAS
So what is benefit of remembering Vaiṣṇavas? Through their remembrance, our most formidable anarthas in the form of kanaka, kāmini and pratiṣṭhā are dispelled. My parama gurudeva referred to pratiṣṭhā as baghini, or tigress; as a tigress swallows [our devotion]. Pratiṣṭhā cannot be traced externally, it is situated deep within.
‘kanaka-kāmini,’ ‘pratiṣṭhā-bāghini,’ chādiyāche jāre, sei to’ vaiṣṇava
[One is truly a Vaisnava who has given up the habit of falling victim to the ferocious tigress of wealth, beauty, and fame. Verse 11, Vaiṣṇava ke]
Everything can be utilized, Śrīla Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura mentioned in one kīrtana [Prema Bhakti Candrikā]:
kāma kṛṣṇa karmārpaṇe,
krodha bhakta-dveśī jane lobha sādhu-saṅga hari kathā moha iṣṭa-labdha-bine,
mada kṛṣṇa-guṇa-gāne niyukta kariba yathā tathā
[I will use lust in the service of Kṛṣṇa, anger against those who are inimical towards the devotees and greed for associating with sādhus and hearing kṛṣṇa-kathā. I will become bewildered only when I cannot attain my worshipable Lord. Madness will manifest when I intensely glorify the divine qualities of Kṛṣṇa. In this way I will utilize all of these.]
Śrīla Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura saw no use for matsarya in his bhajana. All the five enemies are contained within matsarya – kāma, krodha, lobha, moha, mada. Matsarya includes all [varieties of pride]. Hence, parama gurudeva said, ‘‘pratiṣṭhā-bāghini,’ chādiyāche jāre, sei to’ vaiṣṇava’ –The one whom this tigress in the form of pratiṣṭhā has left is a Vaiṣṇava.
HE WAS A NIRMATSARA SĀDHU
In the beginning of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam [1.1.2] itself, it is mentioned: ‘nirmatsarāṇāṁ satāṁ vedyaṁ’, only nirmatsara sādhus [those who are a hundred-percent pure by heart] can understand the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, it cannot be understood by those who merely accept a dress of a sādhu. ‘Matsarya’ refers to those who are incapable of witnessing the progress of others [those who feel happy upon seeing misery of others and miserable upon seeing their happiness]. Only those who do not possess matsarya are capable of understanding the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Similarly, it was observed that Śrīla Bhakti Jivana Janārdana Gosvāmī Mahārāja was a nirmatsara sādhu [Endnote 1].
PREREQUISITE FOR HARI-BHAJANA
Today is his āvirbhāva tithi, so we will pray for his mercy so that we become nirmatsara like him and perform hari-bhajana. Unless we become nirmatsara, hari-bhajana is not possible. And this is not possible without the mercy of Vaiṣṇavas.
That is the reason why Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī said [Śrī Manaḥ-śīkṣā, śloka 7]:
pratiṣṭhāśā dhṛṣṭā svapaca-ramaṇī me hṛdi naṭet
katham- sādhu-premā spṛśati śucir etan nanu manaḥ
sadā tvam- sevasva prabhu-dayita-sāmantam atulaḿ
yathā tām- niṣkāsya tvaritam iha tam- veṣayati saḥ
[Why is it that deceit still lingers in the heart despite one’s having given up all material sense enjoyment? This verse has been composed in order to answer this question.] O mind, how can pure divine love appear in my heart as long as the shameless dog-eating, outcaste woman of the desire for prestige is audaciously dancing there? Therefore, always remember and serve the immeasurably powerful commanders of the army of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the beloved devotees of the Lord. They will at once banish this outcaste woman and initiate the flow of immaculate vraja-prema in your heart.] GVP
Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī pleads, ‘The cāṇḍālini in the form of pratiṣṭhā is dancing in my heart, so how can I contact that divine love?” What is the remedy? Sadā tvam- sevasva prabhu-dayita-sāmantam atulaḿ – you must forever take shelter of the beloved devotees of the Lord, who are incomparable (atulaḿ) commanders [in the army of Śrī Kṛṣṇa] and are immeasurably powerful. They will drive away the shameless outcaste woman in the form of pratiṣṭhā and make place for prema to reside in the heart.
We had no darśana of Śrīla Prabhupāda, but by having darśana of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s disciples, we can estimate how incomparably influential and powerful Śrīla Prabhupāda was.
So Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī mentioned, ‘prabhu-dayita-sāmantam atulaḿ’, call out to the incomparably powerful commanders, the beloved devotees of the Lord, for they will prevent everything [all the impediments]. Bemoaning alone will achieve nothing, only by following the conduct [of always remembering and serving those powerful Vaiṣṇavas] and acting accordingly [one will be freed from impediments like kanaka, kāmini and pratiṣṭhā].
BEG FOR UNALLOYED DEVOTION
Today is his āvirbhāva tithi. On āvirbhāva tithis, people give charity and perform pious deeds. Everyone including the parents offer charity on their children’s birthdays, so do great personalities. By approaching these great personalities, we will receive mercy because they will offer charity on their āvirbhāva tithi, so what will we beg from them? May I possess unalloyed devotion unto Bhagavān.
Only they can banish this prostitute of desire for name and fame from our hearts and make place for divine love to reside there, then only will hari-bhajana be possible.
[A story often told by Śrīla Mahārāja to emphasize what it means to be nirmatsara.]
A mother tells her child to drink milk. However, the child does not heed her instruction because he is engaged in watching cartoons on the television. He responds by saying, “Keep the milk on the table and I will take.” Mother comes back after ten minutes only to see that the glass of milk has not been touched. She inquires again, “Didn’t you promise to consume that glass of milk?” And the child responds, “O certainly I will take it.” So after five minutes she returns to discover, yet again, her child has not consumed the glass of milk. Then the mother quips, “Alas my child just doesn’t listen to me.” Does that imply that the child is deaf or can’t hear? He has heard his mother’s instruction clearly and even reciprocated by saying, ‘I shall drink it later’.
Finally, she takes the remote and switches off the television and the boy is taken aback, “Why did you switch off the TV?” The mother explains, “I came twice and told you to drink milk.” Despite hearing his mother, the boy says, ‘O! When? I did not listen’ or ‘You never told me so’. So, what he claimed earlier was useless.
Unless we sincerely attempt to practice what we have heard from the lotus mouth of the sādhus and reflect upon their teachings in our conduct, such hearing doesn’t constitute as hearing. And that is the reason why unless we become nirmatsara [pure-hearted], we cannot enter the path of Bhāgavata dharma.