From time to time, upon meeting Śrīla Mahārāja, devotees would inquire, “How is your health now?” At such times Śrīla Mahārāja would respond, “Now what more to say with regards to health? No matter what my physical state externally may be, there is no lack in my will power. Now my time has come and whenever the order arrives, I shall gladly depart – bhajite bhajite, samaya āsile, e deha chāḍiyā dibo…”
In 2017, while traveling from Śrī Jagannātha Purī to Śrīdhāma Māyāpura for the purpose of Navadvīpa parikramā, Śrīla Mahārāja stayed at a place called Debra for three days where, due to the fatigue experienced from travel, he contracted a mild fever. Śrīla Mahārāja started to repeatedly say, “I do not wish to leave my body here nor at any householder’s place. As soon as possible, take me to Śrīdhāma Māyāpura; there I won’t be worried about whatever transpires.”
When the servants said, “Mahārāja jī, you have contracted fever several times before. By taking some medication it will become alright by morning, so what is the reason for so much worry?” Śrīla Mahārāja said, “Now we have to be on our toes all the time as I can leave my body anytime. In my entire life, whenever I gave my word, I have never gone back on it despite a thousand impediments. So, whatever consent I have given for the programs so far is alright, but please do not accept invitations for any other programs henceforth. Even if all goes well, I wish to reside at one place and I do not wish to travel more.” The servants assured, “Alright Mahārāja jī, we will do as you desire.”
BIDDING FAREWELL TO ŚRĪDHĀMA MĀYĀPURA
In Śrīdhāma Māyāpura Śrīla Mahārāja expressed – “This time I am bidding farewell to my Gurupādapadma and Śrīdhāma Māyāpura possibly because, given my present physical condition, I may not be in a position to present myself again here while still alive. However, I am satisfied that by the mercy of Guru Mahārāja, even before I could leave my body, I received one place in Śrīdhāma Māyāpura where I can enter samādhi. I do not wish to be a burden on any Vaiṣṇava, I wish to depart from this world before that. What to speak of other things, even for my samādhi and last rites, I do not wish to inconvenience anyone, and accordingly, I will arrange everything before departing.”
On two or three occasions, impelled by circumstances, the servants requested Śrīla Mahārāja, “Mahārāja, you will certainly go whenever you wish to depart from this world, we will not be able to stop you, however, we wish to submit one prayer - that you leave this world while you are still active [speaking & moving around]. Please do not become silent, remaining in internal consciousness like Śrīla Bhakti Kumud Santa Gosvāmī Mahārāja and Śrīla Bhakti Vallabha Tīrtha Gosvāmī Mahārāja, because it is extremely difficult for the servants to intuitively render service in that state. We are not on such an exalted platform where we can perceive your mood (bhāva) and despite knowing the words of Śrīla Vṛndāvana Dāsa Ṭhākura – “yata dekha vaiṣṇavera vyavahāra duḥkha, niścaya jāniya tāhā paramānanda sukha [Endnote 1]” – it is extremely painful to see guru in such a condition.”
Śrīla Mahārāja replied, “I am not independent. I am [partly] dependent-independent, therefore, I will have to abide by whatever my Prabhu will desire. However, I am habituated to dovetail my desire in His desire – ‘tomāra icchāya āmāra icchā miśainu’— so, I will certainly convey your desire to the higher quarter. I have a feeling that things will unfold just as you have desired because you are all Vaiṣṇavas.”
Vyavharika duḥkha means, ‘matter of fact sadness’, in other words, ordinary sadness derived from shortages of worldly opulence, disease, poverty and foolishness.
One must not, upon witnessing any tangible grief in the life of those Vaiṣṇavas who are mature in bhajana, think that because of these circumstances they are experiencing grief and hardships. Instead, one must firmly understand the opposite - that although externally appearing to be in grief, in reality, they are experiencing the topmost bliss. In other words, they are engrossed in the happiness derived from the bliss of rendering service. Despite appearing to be steeped in material disease, they are completely detached from it, oblivious to the bodily platform just as the lotus flower is completely untouched by the mud despite coming from it.
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.