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 RAKṢAKA ŚRĪDHARA GOSVĀMĪ MAHĀRĀJA
One day, Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara Gosvāmī Mahārāja instructed me saying, “You should never lay emphasis on the rhythm, musical meter, melody and other nuances of kīrtana. Instead, always focus on its deep meaning and try to follow the inner mood of the Vaiṣṇava who composed it.”
On another occasion he instructed me: “Try to become ugraśravā – that is, always hear the narrations of Bhagavān’s pastimes exclusively from the lotus lips of advanced devotees, for such narrations are tremendously powerful.” I inquired, “Mahārāja, how will it be possible for me to always hear from advanced devotees?” Śrīla Śrīdhara Gosvāmī Mahārāja replied, “Everything is possible through the medium of service. Serve advanced devotees whenever you receive the opportunity to do so.”
On yet another occasion, while sharing some incident from his life, he said to me, “One time your Gurudeva Śrīla Mādhava Mahārāja requested me to chair a debate held in Madras between Dr. Rādhā-Kṛṣṇan – a strong proponent of the school of advaitavāda (non-duality, or impersonalism) and Dr. Nāgarāja Śarmā – a firm promoter of dvaitavāda (duality). In my opening address, I explained, ‘Although I am not qualified to act as a chairman for this debate, I have become inclined to accept this position only in trying to keep the instructions of the Vaiṣṇavas upon my head.’
Dvaitavādī Dr. Nāgarāja Śarmā refuted my stance saying, ‘It is not incumbent on the Vaiṣṇavas to exhibit their humility in all places and circumstances.’ In my concluding speech, I responded to his statement saying, ‘To the extent one remains in advanced association, to that extent humility naturally manifests in him; and to the extent one remains in inferior association, that much more pride is born in him. By the influence of advanced association, the mood of ‘dāso ’smī (I am your servant)’ appears in Vaiṣṇavas and by the influence of inferior association, the mood of ‘aham brahmāsmi (I am brahma, the Absolute Truth)’ appears in non-Vaiṣṇavas. Vaiṣṇavas do not exhibit show-bottle humility; rather, spontaneous humility manifests in their hearts innately, by virtue of advanced association.’”
In this manner, I received from Śrīla Śrīdhara Gosvāmī Mahārāja the following mantras:
‘Always focus on the deep meaning of the kīrtana and follow the innermost moods of the Vaiṣṇava who composed it.’
Always be situated in ‘spontaneous humility born from the influence of advanced association’ – this is the key to unearthing the profound meaning of the doctrine, ‘tṛnād api sunicena’, as preached by Śrīman Mahāprabhu.
THE MANTRA RECEIVED FROM ŚRĪ ŚRĪMAD BHAKTI SĀRAṄGA GOSVĀMĪ MAHĀRĀJA
Once while Śrīla Gosvāmī Mahārāja manifested a sickness pastime, I bought a portable commode made of cane from Navadvīpa for him. When Śrīla Gosvāmī Mahārāja saw it, he told me, “I can never use this commode. Because every time I attend to nature’s call, some Vaiṣṇava will have to clean it. In my entire life, I have never considered any Vaiṣṇava to be my servant. I have always regarded all the Vaiṣṇavas as worthy of my service, whether they happen to be my seniors or juniors. I have not come to the maṭha to serve Bhagavān, but with the objective to serve the Vaiṣṇavas. Service to Bhagavān can be obtained anywhere; however, an opportunity to serve the Vaiṣṇavas is extremely rare.”
I received this mantra from him and decided that I would lead my life not for the service of Bhagavān, but for the service of the Vaiṣṇavas and I would accept all Vaiṣṇavas as objects of my service, regardless of them being my seniors or juniors.
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.