Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Are there any questions?
Devotee: Is it possible for you to speak something about your spiritual master, Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Once, after taking the permission of his Gurudeva, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, my Gurudeva went to visit Śrīla Gaura-kiśora dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja. At that time Bābājī Mahārāja had closed the door of his bhajana kuṭīra, which was a municipal outhouse. He had locked himself inside and refused to meet with anyone.
The police superintendent and district magistrate had previously come there and told him, “Bābājī Mahārāja, why are you sitting in this impure place? We will make you a very beautiful place where you can do bhajana.”
Bābājī Mahārāja had replied, “Oh, I am very weak. I cannot open the door.” Why did he say this? He used to tell his devotees, “The smell of this outhouse is nothing in comparison to the stench of the sense enjoyers who come and disturb me, saying, ‘Bābājī Mahārāja, give me a son, a very qualified wife, and much wealth.’ They used to harass me in this way. I cannot tolerate this. Staying in an outhouse is preferable to dealing with those people. No one will disturb me while I am here.”
Gurudeva, along with his paternal aunt, Śrīmatī Saroja-vāsinī, and a brahmacārī who later became a very good speaker by the name of Śrīpāda Nemi Mahārāja, all went to see Bābājī Mahārāja. They saw that the door was closed and called to him, “Bābājī Mahārāja, please be merciful and open your door. We want to take your darśana.*”
At first, Bābājī Mahārāja gave the same answer he had given the superintendent: “I am very weak. I cannot open the door.”
My Gurudeva, who was at that time eighteen-year-old Vinoda-bihārī Brahmacārī, replied, “Bābājī Mahārāja, we are disciples of Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. He has sent us to see you.”
Bābājī Mahārāja then said, “Oh, you are disciples of Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura? Okay, okay. I will open the door.” He thus allowed the three devotees to enter. They went into the municipal latrine and offered their obeisances.
Bābājī Mahārāja told my Gurudeva, “You should boldly preach the mission and instructions of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Do not fear; I will save you from all problems and dangers.”
Guru Mahārāja used to tell us this story with tears in his eyes, saying, “This is how I am now able to boldly preach in Bengal and Assam and so many other places.” He told us that later on this actually took place – Śrīla Gaura-kiśora dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja protected him whenever obstacles came.
For example, Śrīla Guru Mahārāja was once preaching boldly in Assam, where his audience consisted of many persons opposed to Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism. This group did not accept the worship of Śrīmatī Rādhikā with Śrī Kṛṣṇa; they worshiped Śrī Kṛṣṇa alone. Guru Mahārāja told them, “Kṛṣṇa-bhakti alone is not perfect. It is like an offense. Also, those who do bhajana but at the same time eat meat, eggs, and fish, and also drink alcohol, are not pure bhaktas. In fact their mouths are like drains, because their mouths are the containers of all kinds of stool, urine, and other wastes.”
Hearing this, some of the members of the very large opposition crowd became enraged and shouted, “Caitanya Mahāprabhu is not the Supreme Lord. Do you have any proof that He is?”
In response, our Guru Mahārāja requested Śrīla Vāmana Mahārāja to stand up and provide sastric evidence that Mahāprabhu is the Supreme Lord, at which time Śrīla Vāmana Mahārāja quoted one-hundred-one Sanskrit verses.
The crowd then began to throw stones and many other things, trying to kill both Guru Mahārāja and Śrīla Vāmana Mahārāja. However, there were also some favourable persons present in the audience who began to throw stones back at the aggressors, and somehow the conflict subsided.
In this way, he used to preach boldly. If anyone said anything against Śrīla Prabhupāda Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura or our sampradāya, he would become furious. He would at once attack them, like a lion, with so many sastric arguments that no one could defeat him.
Some time in 1956, Śrīla Gurudeva came to Mathurā to visit Śrī Keśavajī Gauḍīya Maṭha. At that time some followers of the Nimbārka sampradāya in Vṛndāvana used to publish a spiritual journal called Śrī Sudarśana. In one issue they made false accusations against Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, saying that He was a disciple of Keśava Kaśmīrī. They said that Keśava Kaśmīrī was not actually defeated by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Rather, he defeated Mahāprabhu and initiated Him into the gopāla-mantra.**
When I showed this to Śrīla Gurudeva, he became extremely angry. He told me, “Bring a paper and pen,” and began to dictate. He then immediately published this dictation as a short essay in our Śrī Bhāgavata Patrikā. The headline was ‘Śrī Nimbāditya and Nimbārka are not the same person.’ In the essay he said that nowhere in the scriptures is there any mention of a Nimbārka sampradāya. The Purāṇas mention a Vaiṣṇava ācārya named Śrī Nimbāditya, and the four Kumāras have accepted Nimbāditya Ācārya as their sampradāya-ācārya.
Nimbārka Svāmī is a completely different person. Nimbāditya was a disciple of Nāradajī at the end of Dvāpara-yuga, but Nimbārka Ācārya appeared much more recently. Great and eminent authors of scriptures, such as Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, have mentioned the names of the prominent ācāryas of all the other sampradāyas, but they have not mentioned the name of Nimbārka Ācārya anywhere.
The scriptures of the Six Gosvāmīs mention the names of ācāryas such as Śrī Rāmānuja, Śrī Mādhva, Śrī Viṣṇusvāmī, Śrī Nimbāditya, and Śrī Vallabha Ācārya. If the Nimbārka sampradāya had existed even to a slight extent at that time, then they would most certainly have mentioned the name of Nimbārka Ācārya as well. None of the other sampradāya ācāryas, such as Śrī Rāmānuja, Śrī Mādhva, Śrī Viṣṇusvāmī, and so on have mentioned Nimbārka Ācārya’s name in any of the scriptures they have written.”
The Nimbārka sampradāya currently uses the Pārijāta-bhāṣya, which was written, not by Nimbāditya Ācārya but rather by Śrīnivāsa Ācārya [different from the Śrīnivāsa Ācārya in the Gauḍīya sampradāya] and Keśava Kaśmīrī. These two wrote this scripture and then preached that it had been written by their guru.***
When Gurudeva’s essay was published in Śrī Bhāgavata Patrikā, the office directors of the Sudarśana journal announced that they were making arrangements to prosecute for slander. Śrīla Gurudeva replied firmly, “We will prove each and every word that we have written on the basis of evidence supported by śāstra.”
The scholars filed a court case demanding one hundred thousand rupees for defamation. They went to an advocate (lawyer) who told them, “You do not know Śrīpāda Keśava Mahārāja. He is a very dangerous person. He knows the law better than we advocates do. Do not put your hands in a snake’s hole, otherwise that snake will come and bite you. Better to leave this alone; better to be silent.”
When the prosecution party heard about Śrīla Gurudeva’s immense scriptural knowledge and profound personality, they became absolutely silent, and from that day onwards they did not dare to write any more nonsense.
Devotee: In the past you have described how affectionate your Guru Mahārāja was. Can you speak something now in this regard?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Once, while pūjyapāda Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja was doing service at a printing press in Chuṅchuṛā, his fingers were severely injured. Our Guru Mahārāja began to weep and at once took him to a medical hospital in Kolkata, where he arranged treatment for him. Although Śrīla Vāmana Mahārāja’s fingers had been crushed under the printing press, after some time they were completely healed with only a scar remaining.
There was a disciple of our Guru Mahārāja who joined before me, whose name was Anaṅga-mohana. He used to play very sweetly on mṛdaṅga, and he engaged in many personal services for our Guru Mahārāja, such as cooking, washing clothes, and so on.
He contracted tuberculosis, at which time he was vomiting blood, even on the body of our Guru Mahārāja. Guru Mahārāja served him with his own hand, cleaning away his stool, feeding him, and nourishing him in every way.
I told Guru Mahārāja, “Please feel free to go and preach. I will look after him. Do not worry.” Kindly giving me this ‘love-burden’ of caring for Anaṅga-mohana, he then went to preach.
I would clean Anaṅga-mohana’s vomit and stool, burying it in the earth. Guru Mahārāja also sent me with him and Triguṇātīta Brahmacārī to Tambaram Hospital in Madras, which was a hospital for tuberculosis patients, and he was there for about three or four months.
Because this hospital was very expensive, Guru Mahārāja’s godbrothers became upset and told him, “We cannot give you any of the money we have collected. These are such heavy expenses! Why are you doing all of this for your disciple?!” In this regard he did not care for the opinion of his opposing god-brothers, who finally gave up his association. How loving he was!
Although Guru Mahārāja spent a great deal of money to save Anaṅga-mohana, Anaṅga-mohana left his body in Tambaram Hospital. At the time of his departure Guru Mahārāja was performing parikramā in Navadvīpa with thousands of pilgrims. I wrote him a letter saying, “Although you gave me so much wealth to save and protect Anaṅga-mohana, I could not save him. Triguṇātīta Prabhu and I are returning to Sidhāvāḍī. Please excuse me.” He read my letter and began to weep loudly.
He loved me so much for this. I had also developed slight symptoms of tuberculosis, and Guru Mahārāja took me to a hospital in Kolkata, where I was treated and recovered.
Guru Mahārāja gave sannyāsa first to Śrīla Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja, Śrīla Trivikrama Gosvāmī Mahārāja, and me. We three then began to increase our preaching fields and we performed many other services.
Previously, Guru Mahārāja’s respectful relationships with his god-brothers obliged him to be controlled by their opinions and ideas, but now he was independent. He would go to various places with thirty or forty brahmacārīs and sannyāsīs, and preach. Once he had an audience of 15,000 people. At that time there were no microphones, so his audience heard him by his loud speaking.
I was also present with him, and at those times I would cook for him, massage him, and wash his clothes. When he gave classes, I would take notes. On his order I learned Bengali and read the Jaiva-dharma, and then I became a very good speaker. Also, at that time I was known as the best singer in the Gauḍīya Maṭha.
ISKCON leaders know that Guru Mahārāja also gave sannyāsa to parama-pūjyapāda Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja. At first they wrote this in their books, but later they deleted his name.
The two were bosom friends.
Mahābhuddi dāsa: How could our Śrīla Prabhupāda have been one of the co-founders of the Gauḍīya Vedānta Samiti if they were not friends? How would he have taken sannyāsa from him if they were not friends?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: In fact, Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja wrote to me: “Our relationship is certainly based on spontaneous love. That is why there is no chance of us forgetting one another. By the mercy of Guru and Gaurāṅga may everything be auspicious for you. This is my constant prayer. From the first time I saw you I have been your constant well-wisher. At his first sight of me Śrīla Prabhupāda also saw me with such love. It was in my very first darśana of Śrīla Prabhupāda that I learned how to love.”
Vrajanātha dāsa: Remembering your Guru Mahārāja, you spoke for such a long time.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: I became unaware of the time.
* Meaning, “We humbly request your audience.”
** “The next morning the poet came to Lord Caitanya and surrendered unto His lotus feet. The Lord bestowed His mercy upon him and cut off all his bondage to material attachment” (Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā, 16.107).
*** On Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja’s request, we have added some sentences from his biography of his Guru Mahārāja to his discussion of Nimbāditya Ācārya.
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