The Last Hari-kathā
For the occasion of Śrīla Mahārāja’s āvirbhāva-tithi, Śayana Ekādaśī , a two-day festival was organized in Śrī Gopīnātha Gauḍīya Maṭha. Almost 700 devotees attended the festival on both the days. One day prior to his āvirbhāva-tithi, Śrīla Mahārāja visited Śrī Gopīnātha Gauḍīya Maṭha and remained there for three days. [Despite his extreme weakness and ill-health, Śrīla Mahārāja’s āvirbhāva-tithi was celebrated with great jubilance, with many senior Vaiṣṇavas offering puṣpāñjali for two days and everyone receiving the opportunity to worship him on the day of his vyāsa-pūjā.]
Following his vyāsa-pūjā, Śrīla Mahārāja travelled from Bhubaneśvara to Delhi, arriving at Śrī Rādhā Mādhava Gauḍīya Maṭha in Faridabad where he began residing.
Before Śrīla Mahārāja manifested his sickness pastime, he spoke hari-kathā on the day of Nandotsava as well as during the weekly Sunday program at Faridabad maṭha. On the day of Nandotsava, Śrīla Mahārāja said – “I cannot speak much. Now everything is beyond my control, however not speaking on the important tithis constitutes an offence [hence I will speak a bit]. The festival that is celebrated commemorating Kṛṣṇa’s birth is known as Nandotsava. There is no mention anywhere about the utsava [or festival] of Vasudeva. This Nandotsava is famous for all the Vrajavāsīs attending this festival without any invitation. On this day, Śrī Nanda Mahārāja opened his treasure chest and freely gave gifts in charity to all the arriving Vrajavāsīs. This day is famous for dancing and singing. Replete with bliss, devotees participate in dancing and singing, this is called lāsya. Among the women of Vraja, Yaśodā Mātā is the most plump, even still, she danced in bliss. This is why all the devotees perform ānanda-gīta [blissful singing] today. However, what to speak of participating in dancing, I don’t even possess the ability to stand.”
THE ESSENCE OF HIS LAST HARI-KATHĀ
On Sunday [August 20, 2017], Śrīla Mahārāja spoke in his last formal hari-kathā –
[During Śrīla Prabhupāda’s time] One day in Kolkata, a disaster presented itself. A great thunderstorm arrived, because of which, many could not come to hear hari-kathā. Even for those who came, it became impossible to return home. Observing this, some devotees said to our parama-gurudeva, Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Ṭhākura Prabhupada, ‘Today is a very inauspicious day.” Śrīla Prabhupāda replied, “The day when there is no hari-kathā is the most inauspicious day. The arrival of a thunderstorm does not make the day most inauspicious, a day spent without hari-kathā is most inauspicious. Therefore do not lead your life without hari-kathā. You all are very fortunate that despite such a thunderstorm you could be present for hari-kathā.” Kicharī was prepared and offered as prasāda to all those present in the maṭha. All the devotees rested in the hall of maṭha for the night.
It is my misfortune that I have not been able to speak hari-kathā daily. It is inappropriate to pass life without hari-kathā. Those who are fortunate will daily perform kīrtana and hari-kathā.
What is the true meaning of ‘hari-kathā’? Only playing mṛdaṅga and performing kīrtana does not constitute hari-kathā. That kathā which is meant only for [the pleasure of] Hari is called hari-kathā. If kathā is spoken for our own benefit, then such kathā is not hari-kathā.
It is observed that Arjuna killed many soldiers fighting in the war, however, this was done as service to Bhagavān. On the other hand, Yudhiṣṭhira was extremely devoted to religion. In his entire life, he never engaged in any useless talk. Even still, Yudhiṣṭhira’s adherence to religion is not so laudable as he lacked real surrender towards Kṛṣṇa. He did not possess absolute faith in the words of Bhagavān. Leaving the service of Bhagavān for the sake of truthfulness - such thinking is impure.
Bhagavān is absolute truth or true substance, hence, whatever is done for the sole purpose of serving Bhagavān, constitutes hari-bhakti.
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.