YĀTRĀ TOWARDS ŚRĪDHĀMA MĀYĀPURA
Following the departure of Śrīla Mahārāja, as per the Vaiṣṇava tradition, a few devotees organized to bath his divine body with fresh water and adorn him with new clothes. Śrīla Mahārāja’s divine body was then adorned with tilaka markings in twelve places. Śrīla Mahārāja was brought in the Nātha-mandira before the Deities where everyone received the opportunity to take his darśana. The assembled devotees sang many Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava bhajanas and chanted harināma saṅkīrtana while circumambulating Śrīla Mahārāja. By flight from Faridabad via Delhi, Śrīla Mahārāja reached Kolkata by 12 a.m., where the brahmacārīs of Śrīdhāma Māyāpura’s Śrī Gopīnātha Gauḍīya Maṭha arrived to take Śrīla Mahārāja to Śrīdhāma Māyāpura with great honor befitting an ācārya in an elaborately decorated vehicle. Śrīla Mahārāja reached Śrī Gopīnātha Gauḍīya Maṭha located at Śrīdhāma Māyāpura at approximately 6 a.m. on September 6th.
Before accepting samādhi, around 10 a.m. September 6th, the day of Śrī Viśvarūpa Mahotsava, Śrīla Mahārāja first presented himself at the lotus feet of his śikṣā guru nityalīla praviśta oṁ Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Pramoda Purī Gosvāmī Mahārāja. Thereafter, with the intention of divine union with his gurupādapadma nityalīla praviśta Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Dayita Mādhava Gosvāmī Mahārāja and his godbrother nityalīla praviśta Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Vallabha Tīrtha Gosvāmī Mahārāja, Śrīla Mahārāja proceeded towards Śrī Caitanya Gauḍīya Maṭha. This was an unprecedented sight as many devotees assembled from various locations. Many sannyāsīs, brahmacārīs and other devotees of Śrīdhāma Māyāpura at once followed Śrīla Mahārāja accompanied with kīrtana. Through the medium of kīrtana, Śrīla Mahārāja informed his most worshipable gurupādapadma on the subject of his arrival — ‘jaya jaya śrī guru prema kalpataru adbhuta jāko parakāśa’ — offering his glorification by words. Thereafter, he met his godbrother Śrīla Bhakti Vallabha Tīrtha Gosvāmī Mahārāja at his samādhi and from there he took darśana of Śrīla Prabhupāda Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, Pañca-tattva and Śrī Śrī Rādhā Madana-mohana, who are eternally served there. Then Śrīla Mahārāja’s godbrothers and almost all the devotees of Śrī Caitanya Gauḍīya Maṭha performed the ārati ceremony of Śrīla Mahārāja.
At 11:30am Śrīla Mahārāja reached the courtyard of his self-appointed location of samādhi in front of Śrī Gopīnātha Gauḍīya Maṭha, where his god-brothers and other present sannyāsīs performed his abhiṣeka with pañcāmṛta: Ganges water, rose water, aguru and other articles. Then Śrīla Mahārāja was adorned with fresh tilaka at twelve places and a new set of clothes, the samādhi mantra was written on his chest with sandalwood and after offering him bhoga, his ārati ceremony was performed.
Observing those rules and regulations which have been mentioned by Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī in his Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta with reference to Śrīman Mahāprabhu giving samādhi to Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura and in the presence of many Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas, Śrīla Mahārāja entered samādhi in his bhajana-kuṭīra.
Devotees from Śrī Jagannātha Purī presented Śrīla Mahārāja with Śrī Jagannātha-deva’s garment which had Gīta-govinda ślokas written on it, mahāprasāda, a brushing wig, His remnant garland, sandalwood and so on. Being that Śrīla Mahārāja’s bhajana-kuṭīra was smaller in proportion to the devotees assembled there, a large LCD screen was arranged in the courtyard of the bhajana kuṭīra, where almost all the assembled devotees were able to directly watch every aspect of Śrīla Mahārāja’s samādhi ceremony with great admiration and without obstacle, in this way, they all experienced great satisfaction in their hearts.
SAMĀDHI CEREMONY VERY AUSPICIOUSLY CONCLUDED
Just after Śrīla Mahārāja put on the remnant locket of Śrī Jagannātha-deva [made from flowers which adorns Śrī Jagannātha-deva during Baḍā Ṣrṇgāra] and covered his head and face with the remnant cloth of Śrī Jagannātha-deva composed of Gīta-govinda ślokas, a sudden rush of torrential rain accompanied by thunder was arranged by Indradeva. No one had even fathomed this could occur prior to couple of muhūrtas as just hours before, when the devotees were traveling to Śrī Caitanya Gauḍīya Maṭha following Śrīla Mahārāja [procession], the road was so hot it was difficult for the devotees to walk, and even during his abhiṣeka and samādhi ceremony, it was difficult to sit in the sun. This mystery can only be perceived as per our respective qualification, yet Śrīla Mahārāja would personally express: “Whenever it rains in the beginning, middle or especially at the end of any undertaking, everything becomes very auspicious, and inevitably, perfection and completion is achieved in that undertaking.”
After the Vaiṣṇavas who were engaged in the samādhi sevā came out, all the assembled devotees gradually formed a line, sequentially filled Śrīla Mahārāja’s samādhi with the holy dust of the dhāma with great honour and deep spiritual moods. Subsequently, the samādhi area was neatly smeared and a Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava tilaka was established on top of it, where lastly Śrī Vṛndādevī was placed. The samādhi was nicely decorated with flowers, and sitting in front of the samādhi, the devotees together read from Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta about the pastime of the ‘the disappearance of Nāmācārya Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura’ followed by ecstatic saṅkīrtana. In this way, the samādhi ceremony of Śrīla Mahārāja accompanied by saṅkīrtana was completed in an extremely nice manner. Thereafter, all the assembled devotees were served mahāprasāda.
Many sannyāsīs, brahmacārīs and gṛhastha devotees and almost all the devotees who had taken shelter of Śrīla Mahārāja, being extremely satisfied remarked again and again, ‘In our lifetime we have participated in the samādhi ceremony of many senior ācāryas and Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava guruvargas, however, the orderly, wonderful and well planned manner in which Śrīla Mahārāja accepted samādhi — however much we glorify it, it would be less.
VIRAHA-MAHOTSAVA CELEBERATED AT DIFFERENT PLACES
Śrīla Mahārāja’s viraha-mahotsava was celebrated in India as well as at many places abroad. On September 7th, the viraha-mahotsava was organized at Śrīdhāma Māyāpura in front of Śrīla Mahārāja’s samādhi; on September 8th, at Śrī Caitanya Gauḍīya Maṭha, Śrīdhāma Māyāpura; September 9th at Śrī Jagannātha Purī Śrī Gopinātha Gauḍīya Maṭha located at Cakra-tīrtha; September 10th at Jayaśrī Dāmodara Gauḍīya Maṭha and at Śrī Girirāja Goverdhana Gauḍīya Maṭha situated in Murwillumbah, Australia; September 17th at the disappearance place of Śrīla Mahārāja, Śrī Rādhā-Mādhava Gauḍīya Maṭha Faridabad; September 20th at Manasā; September 21st at Jhalandhara; September 22nd Ludhiana; October 6th at Śrī Vinod Vāni Gauḍīya Maṭha, Śrī Vṛndāvana; October 16th and 30-31st at Śrī Gopinātha Bhavan, Śrī Vṛndāvana; November 4th at Śrī Rādhā Kunda; November 12th at Ambala; December 2nd at Gurugrama; December 10th at Chandigarh Śrī Caitanya Gauḍīya Maṭha; and December 26th at Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu Gauḍīya Maṭha located at Himachal Dangadi Hamirpura.
At all these places notable Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas glorified the exemplary character of Śrīla Mahārāja in an extremely sweet manner. Because of limitation of space I am refraining from explaining it elaborately.
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.