He was the Embodiment of Humility, Affection and Insight
I offer my humble obeisance at the lotus feet of Srila Bhakti Vijnana Bharati Maharaja. After the disappearance of my shiksha- and sannyasa-guru, Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Goswami Maharaj, I found that he had recommended associating with his dear friend Srila Bharati Maharaja. I did not hear that he particularly recommended anybody else. After that, I spent as much time as I could with Srila Maharaja whenever I came to India.
For me, among Srila Maharaja’s many other qualities, he was the embodiment of humility, affection and insight. He was like a gentle giant, both physically and spiritually. Previously, he used to be extremely strong. One day, when he was sitting in his arm chair during his walk around the block at Pune, he related how he used to carry 50 kg sacks of cement by himself. “Now I am walking with a stick,“ he added humorously.
Once he told the story of how he saved a workmen who was falling from a ladder, but Maharaja was quite seriously injured when a sack of cement landed on him. “I saw this as a result of my seva,“ he said. Others might have been resentful that this had happened as a result of his engagement. However, Maharaja was deeply grateful that he could not work for a while, so he had the opportunity to read Sri Caitanya Caritamrita.
I was continually amazed at his profound insight into apparently simple principles of bhakti. This seemed to be the result of deep meditation and realization. Also, in his hari-katha, he gave fascinating details about the moods and interactions between Gaudiya Math devotees that we never heard from anybody else. His attention to detail was fascinatingly unique, whether it related to train services or the details of service to Lord Jagannatha in the temple. He always emphasized the importance of Vaishnava-seva, a deep faith that he received from his Guru Maharaja. Without this, we cannot get the grace to perform sadhana and bhajan. He lived to give hari-katha. He said that old age had attacked all his other senses and capabilities, but he could still speak. When he spoke, he became transformed. It seemed that hari-katha flowed through him. Ordinarily soft and mild, he became very powerful and forceful when he spoke from the vyasa-asana. One morning, a devotee complimented him on the previous evening’s hari-katha, “The devotees liked it very much,” she said. “I do not care whether they liked it or not,” he replied simply.
One day, he related how Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura smeared his lotus foot dust on his son, then Bimala Prasad, to give him blessings. I was sitting very close to Srila Maharaja, and he stroked my back as he related the story. I took that as his kind and causeless blessings.
I remember him with deep affection and honor as the shiksha guru who kept me connected after the disappearance of my beloved diksha and shiksha gurus. I pray for his blessings that I may serve my guru-varga life after life.