RECEIVING MANTRAS REPLETE WITH PRICELESS TEACHINGS
Śrīla Mahārāja used to say, “Although I received my dīkṣā mantras from my Gurupādapadma, I received various mantras from the many disciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda. In other words, I received mantras in the form of the many teachings from them.” Among those, we are presenting a few mantras here, from the very words of Śrīla Mahārāja.
THE MANTRA RECEIVED FROM ŚRĪ ŚRĪMAD BHAKTI KUMUD SANTA GOSVĀMĪ MAHĀRĀJA
Once, the devotees of Śrī Mādhava Gauḍīya Maṭha in Ḍhākā wrote to Śrīla Prabhupāda, requesting him to send a kīrtanīyā who could sing sweetly for the maṭha. Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa brahmacārī (Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Kumud Santa Gosvāmī Mahārāja’s name prior to sannyāsa) was a kīrtanīyā of unprecedented talent. Śrīla Prabhupāda asked him if he could manage the travel alone. Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa Brahmacārī confidently affirmed that he could, and accepting the order of his gurudeva, he departed for Ḍhākā, which required him to travel first by steamship followed by a road journey.
Arriving first on board, he took a window seat. However, as more passengers began to board the ship, one by one, they pressured him to relinquish his seat, saying, “Why are you sitting here? You are just a child. The elderly need more fresh air. Get up and go sit elsewhere.”
Another person commented, “Nowadays, after giving birth to sons, parents leave them in the maṭha instead of accepting the responsibility of their upbringing. Such children become ‘sādhus’ as a result of their laziness and aversion to performing any labor.” After hearing these comments, Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa Brahmacārī quietly got up from his seat and stood near the entrance door of the ship, so that no one would be inconvenienced. Seeing this, the other passengers became satisfied and peaceful.
Approximately ten minutes later, an announcement was broadcasted over the loudspeaker: “Everyone please be attentive. The ocean is very rough today, and we have lost control over the ship. We are in an extremely precarious situation. Anything can happen, so everyone please remember God and pray to Him for our safety.”
Hearing this, an old man who was previously complaining about Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa Brahmacārī began to cry, lamenting, “My daughter’s marriage has been fixed, and I am carrying paraphernalia and ornaments for her wedding. If the ship gets damaged, what will happen to my daughter’s marriage? Everything will be ruined!” Another passenger responded, “Didn’t you hear the announcement? They are saying to remember God, so talking about such matters is not appropriate right now.” The old man replied, “Because we have never done bhajana for His pleasure, God will not heed our prayers but He will most certainly hear the prayers of this young sādhu. Although he is very young, he has understood the true value of life.”
After some moments, all the passengers who had previously criticized Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa Brahmacārī, now forcibly sat him down amongst them and pleaded to him to pray to Bhagavān for their safety. He replied, “I have heard from my Guru Mahārāja that the Lord only hears the prayers of His surrendered devotees. As I am not yet fully surrendered to Him, He will not even hear my prayers, what to speak of accepting and fulfilling them. However, my Guru Mahārāja has also mentioned that we should always perform nāma-saṅkīrtana. Therefore, I can chant the hare kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, and all of you repeat it after me. But I cannot guarantee that God will hear or save us.” All the passengers unanimously accepted his proposal and began to perform kīrtana. After some time, the ship safely arrived at its destination.
Mentioning this incident many times over, Śrīla Santa Gosvāmī Mahārāja would award the teaching that there is no real substance in the criticism or praise of ordinary people. Therefore, without becoming affected in any way by their statements, we should exclusively engage in the service of Hari, Guru and Vaiṣṇavas. The praise and criticism of such people is solely for their own sense enjoyment.
In this way, I received this mantra from Śrīla Bhakti Kumud Santa Gosvāmī Mahārāja: ‘Do not become puffed up like a balloon by words of praise from ordinary people, and alternatively, do not let their criticism deflate your enthusiasm, because the criticisms or praises of ordinary people are compelled by the discontentment or gratification of their selfish motives, respectively.’
Therefore, it is not that Śrīla Bhakti Vijñāna Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja’s character was shaped solely based on the instructions and teachings awarded by his Guru Mahārāja. Rather, Śrīla Mahārāja used to say, “Just as in a family, all the members contribute towards shaping the character of a child by their respective teachings, in the same manner, by the mercy of my Guru Mahārāja, all the disciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda have refined my character by the virtue of their teachings.”
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.