- Remembrance in Separation - Bhagavata Patrikā
I Never Left the ‘Maṭha’
On the tithī of Ekādaśī, on 19 March, 2016, before physically (externally) leaving Śrī Caitanya Gauḍīya Maṭha, Śrīla Mahārāja expressed the following: “We have always heard from Guru Mahārāja that mere clay, or the land alone does not constitute the maṭha, the principle alone is our maṭha. When I came to the maṭha, despite the relatively greater opulence of various other Gauḍīya Maṭhas, I surrendered at the lotus of Guru Mahārāja being attracted to his ideal character. At that time, from the material perspective, Guru Mahārāja possessed nothing. I have even spent considerable time residing under a tin-shed in Māyāpura. Now, I wish to leave this world while following the very ideals that he exhibited, not compromising them in any way whatsoever.”
Oftentimes Śrīla Mahārāja would say, “I can never leave Śrī Caitanya Gauḍīya Maṭha because for me, Śrī Caitanya Gauḍīya Maṭha stands for the ideal personified by my Guru Mahārāja as well as my god-brother Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Vallabha Tīrtha Gosvāmī Mahārāja and many other god-brothers and devotees. Therefore I, being a product of their teachings, ideals, affection, nurturing, chastisement and so on, can never separate myself from them even if I wish to, just as any living entity cannot separate himself from Kṛṣṇa even though he may want to, and just as any student cannot separate himself from the teachings received from his preceptors.”
SUPPORT OFFERED BY SOME VAIṢṆAVAS
On 20th March, 2016, the president of Śrī Viśva-vaiṣṇava Rāja-sabhā (World Vaiṣṇava Association) Śrī Bhaktyāloka Paramadvaiti Mahārāja sent us a letter via email which read as follows:
Śrī Śrī Guru Gaurāṅgau Jayataḥ,
Dearest Śrīla Bhāratī Mahārāja, Daṇḍavat praṇāmas, With pain I have observed the immaturity and strange behavior you have been exposed to. Maybe you remember, even though I knew nothing of the intricacy of the subject of initiation within Śrī Caitanya Gauḍīya Maṭha, I had begged you on behalf of the foreign devotees to please give initiation to them. You know better than anyone what is right and what is wrong in each moment. I am deeply touched now by reading your letter (to the Governing Body of Śrī Caitanya Gauḍīya Maṭha). Our own facilities are rather very humble in Vṛndāvana and Māyāpura, but consider them yours, if you are in need or if you have a desire to be and preach there.
Especially the Yamunā-kuñja, right next to Imlītāla is a very appropriate place with a private kitchen and room, to give hari-kathā there and attend [to] your followers and other devotees.
Right now we are using it as an office for the coordination of our Vraja-sevā. You personally helped to build up such a huge mission as Śrī Caitanya Gauḍīya Maṭha. I am sure Lord Kṛṣṇa wants you to be more free and to dedicate yourself to all those who admire you. If for any reason, at some point, you decide to travel outside of India, we would be very happy and proud to host you in Berlin, Miami, Mexico or any other places. Considering your genuine spiritual and impartial loving advice, we requested you to become the chief advisor of the Viśva-vaiṣṇava Rāja-sabhā. We consider you a senior most Vaiṣṇava and well-wisher of all. I pray that all the devotees who have committed mistakes against you may be forgiven so that the glory of the mission and their spiritual life may continue. It is surprising how big institutions can act in such strange ways, but you and me, in one way or another, have also been part of creating such big institutions. I could never understand why my spiritual master’s ISKCON made so many mistakes and could not even reflect upon them in more than 30 years, what to speak of correcting them. You can imagine, many more questions will come to you on such an unavoidable topic as institutionalization and Vaiṣṇava conduct. We request your servants to dutifully compile these questions and your answers to them, so that they may be published on our Vina website, if you consider them beneficial for the public. I bow to your holy lotus feet and beg for mercy and bhakti and I hope to be able to get your divine darśana soon again, wherever our sweet Lord may make it possible. Yours in the service of Hari, Guru and Vaiṣṇavas Svāmī BA Paramadvaiti
On 24th March 2016, Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Tīrtha Mahārāja from Śrī Śrī Keśavajī Gauḍīya Maṭha, established in Navadvīpa-dhāma by Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja, sent the below mentioned letter through Śrīpāda Rāmacandra Prabhu:
Śrī Śrī Guru Gaurāṅgau Jayatah
(Respectful and humble invitation)
Most worshipable Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Vijñāna Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja-jī,
I offer my countless obeisances at your lotus feet. On behalf of all the devotees of our organization and myself, I humbly request you to reside at any of our maṭhas or preaching centres. Kindly bestow your mercy upon us by accepting our request. Let us receive the good fortune of serving you and your associates to the best of our ability.
We all have deep faith and special feelings towards you. [While residing at our maṭha] anyone may accept harināma and dīkṣā from you; we have no objection whatsoever with this because it was the special desire of our Gurupādapadma, Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja that everyone should cooperate together to comprehensively spread Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism. Therefore, please accept my humble request.
The Servants of your lotus feet
Bhaktivedānta Tīrtha Mahārāja and all the members
Śrīla Mahārāja’s response:
I DO NOT ACT EMOTIONALLY OR PASSIONATELY
At this juncture of my life, I do not desire to lend myself to any other institution because, in my sixty-two years of residence in the maṭha, I have seen many things with my eyes. I am an old fool. I do not act out of emotion or passion, without deliberation and contemplation, nor do I simply rely on someone’s suggestion. If today, those who have observed me, known me and ‘understood’ me for such a long time consider that I am at fault, then I do not have the faith that those who have been acquainted with me for a very short time would not be inconvenienced by me or by my conduct, conceptions or principles. I have seen many things at many places in relation to disciples and donations. Hence, I do not mind visiting any place and residing there from time to time, however, to do so permanently would be inappropriate.
I CANNOT REMAIN SILENT UPON OBSERVING ANY PRINCIPLE BEING COMPROMISED IN MY PRESENCE
After speaking thus, Śrīla Mahārāja became silent. At that time, one of the servants said to Śrīla Mahārāja, “You, your ideal as well as your true grit is unparalleled. It is astonishing that you are even thinking and speaking like this, facing the situation without even a speck of anxiety, despite your age. However we are conditioned souls, not yet completely dependent on Bhagavān. So we are worried that, God forbid, if like some of our guru-varga, you exhibit sickness pastime for a long time or even for a short time, then what will we do? Where will we stay along with you? You do not wish to become a part of any [established] institution; also it is exceedingly challenging to constantly move from one place to the other in this physical condition. In this situation, what is the [our] duty?” Then Śrīla Mahārāja replied, “I haven’t trained myself to keep my head covered with a big leaf like Lomāsā Ṛṣi, hence, some place or the other must be arranged. Although I may not be in a position to arrange for the accommodations of the visiting devotees, nevertheless there should be space suitable enough to sit and perform hari-kathā and hari-kīrtana. There is no need for luxury, even a tin-shed will do, however, I have no reservations even if it turns out to be luxurious – I will take that to be the desire of my Prabhu. I will not, however, be able to remain quiet upon observing any compromise in principles in my presence.”
The ‘Remembrance in Separation’ series, dedicated to Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Vijñāna Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja, was first published in Sri Sri Bhagavata Patrika in Hindi in the year 2018. The series unfolded over three volumes (Year 14, Volume 9-10, 10-11, 11-12).
Now, we are presenting the English translation of this in the form of a series of articles released in www.vcvani.com.
Since it covers a brief sketch of Śrīla Mahārāja’s life and precepts from childhood to his final pastimes, this series will be unfolded from now until his tirobhava tithi.