PREPARING FOR HIS DISAPPEARANCE PASTIME AND DECIDING HIS TIME OF DEPARTURE LIKE BHĪṢMA PITĀMAḤ
September 3rd, 2017 was Śravaṇa Mahā-dvādaśī, the appearance day of Bhagavān Vāmana and Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, the topmost among the Ṣaḍ-Gosvāmīs. When Śrīla Mahārāja was informed about the tithi of Mahā-dvādaśī, he said very enthusiastically, “So today is Śravaṇa Mahā-dvādaśī. Very Good! Very Good!”
That morning, in his last conversation, Śrīla Mahārāja said the following to one of his servants: “It is my request that you prevent the devotees from feeding me any food [prasāda], because I am experiencing inconvenience with this and yes, if possible, take me to the maṭha after consulting with the doctor and if they deny, tell them that we do not have funds to pay the hospital bill and we want to go to a specialist hospital.” Seeing that the servant did not react, Śrīla Mahārāja asked, “Do you feel that I am telling you to lie? According to these words, ‘prema-dhana vinā vyartha daridra jīvana’, we are daridra (poor), and Śrīla Prabhupāda used to refer to the maṭha itself as a hospital. So by going to the maṭha will be going to a specialist hospital – therefore, in this way we will not be speaking anything fallacious, actually, we will be speaking the utmost truth.”
After speaking these words, Śrīla Mahārāja began chanting harināma and consequently, said nothing more until he manifested his disappearance pastime. At that time, his servants understood why Śrīla Mahārāja was repeatedly asking to be updated about the appearance of Ekādaśī tithi.
After approximately two hours of deliberation with the hospital doctor, Śrīla Mahārāja’s servants, his doctor disciples, as well as the doctor disciples of Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja, and a few other important devotees, unamiously agreed that the most sensible decision was to take Śrīla Mahārāja to the maṭha itself. Thus, on September 3rd, on the tithi of Śravaṇa Mahā-dvādaśī, Śrīla Mahārāja was brought to the maṭha around 10pm. Śrīla Mahārāja’s room in the maṭha was transformed into a makeshift ICU and Śrīla Mahārāja’s doctor disciples were present with him at all times along with his servants.
Śrīla Mahārāja’s health update was broadcasted via internet, phone and other mediums. Thus, devotees began arriving from Śrīdhāma Vṛndāvana, Delhi, Chandigarh, Manasā, Bengaluru, Pune and abroad. It felt as if Śrīla Mahārāja was present in Śrīdhāma Māyāpura for Śrīdhāma Navadvīpa parikramā, and many devotees were endlessly presenting themselves to take his darśana. It appeared as though everyone was on holiday, with no anxiety about their profession, job and household activities. The subject of everyone’s meditation was Śrīla Mahārāja’s health and darśana. As the embodiment of Śrīla Mahārāja’s lifelong training, with an open heart, Śrīla Mahārāja awarded darśana and physical contact to all the arriving devotees as per their respective desires, without any obstacles. Whatever the different devotees expressed as their desire, be it to sit in Śrīla Mahārāja’s quarters and recite a few stava-stuti, beg for forgiveness, touch his lotus feet or simply to remain in his presence for some time - Śrīla Mahārāja awarded enough opportunity to make everyone feel grateful. When a few devotees called out, “Mahārāja! Mahārāja!”, close to his ears, though Śrīla Mahārāja reacted by opening his eyes and expressing something in a chocked manner, due to their inability and misfortune, it was not possible for them to comprehend it.
On the night of Mahā-dvādaśī, many devotees sat outside Śrīla Mahārāja’s room and performed kīrtana the entire night. Everyone lost their presence of mind, no one understood what to converse with the other, where to go, whom to pray to, etc. Inevitably, in such a circumstance, everyone took shelter of the exclusive instruction of Śrīman Mahāprabhu, ‘kīrtanīya sadā hariḥ’.
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.