Sripad B.B. Bodhayan Maharaja
All Glories to Sri Brahma Madhva Gaudiya Saraswata Sampradaya (lineage). All Glories to my beloved Grand Spiritual Master His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur PRABHUPADA & my beloved Spiritual Master His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Pramode Puri Goswami Thakur.
Offering for the centennial ceremony
His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Vedanta Narayana Goswami Maharaja is a significant acharya in our Gaudiya Vaisnava world. Since he joined the mission of his gurudeva, His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Prajnan Kesava Goswami Maharaja, Srila Maharaja was engaged in serving Vaisnavas.
According to his discourses, I know that he was first engaged by his gurudeva to serve my spiritual master, His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Pramode Puri Goswami Thakur. He used to often mention an incident about his small water pot (lota) as follows:
In 1947, my spiritual master was at Chinsura Uddharana Gaudiya Math, which is currently being looked after by Sri Devananda Gaudiya Math. HDG Srila Kesava Goswami Maharaj engaged Srila Narayana Maharaj to look after my spiritual master at that time. My Guru Maharaja used to daily bathe in the Ganga. Once, Srila Narayana Maharaja, at that time a vanachari named Gauranarayana Das, went to the Ganga River near Uddharana Gaudiya Math along with my Gurudeva and was assisting him. Somehow or another, Srila Narayana Maharaja’s lota, which he had brought from his home life, fell into the Ganga’s current. Thus, he was feeling sad that the lota had floated away into the Ganga. Then, at that time, my Gurudeva told him, “If you have so much attachment to the lota, then how will you be able to establish your attachment with Krishna? You are coming here for spiritual practice which means to fix our attachment on Krishna’s services.” Srila Narayana Goswami Maharaja used to always mention this incident in all his harikatha discourses during the appearance and disappearance festivals of my Gurudeva.
I have also seen Srila Narayana Goswami Maharaj’s attentive service attitude, thus inspiring others to become sincere with their services. According to my observation, I saw that all the devotees in his mission feel enthusiasm to listen to harikatha, which is the heart of spiritual practice. I know from my grand spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur, that if a person has no interest to listen to harikatha, then there is no surety that that person will be able to continue his renounced life under the shelter of Gurudeva and continue living in the temple. That attitude of Srila Maharaja’s disciples makes me really happy.
Apart from that, whenever I invited Srila Narayana Goswami Maharaja to attend my spiritual master’s appearance and disappearance day festivals, he used to say that Srila Puri Goswami Maharaja performed two important services in Srila Prabhupada’s mission: one is mrdanga and the other is brhad-mrdanga. By mrdanga, he meant that my gurudeva was a good kirtaniya. By brhad-mrdanga, he said that my gurudeva was good in publishing various vaisnava literatures under the guidance of Srila Prabhupada Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur.
I also remember several incidents with Srila Maharaja. One year after my Gurudeva’s physical departure, at the request of two of my godbrothers – Sripad Madhavapriya Prabhu and Sripad Krishnakripa Prabhu (presently known as Srila Bhakti Vedanta Siddhanti Maharaja) – I brought them to Srila Narayana Goswami Maharaja as they wanted to take shiksha from him. It was around 4 PM when I took both of them to Sri Rupa-Sanatan Gaudiya Math, Vrindavan and Srila Narayana Goswami Maharaja happily accepted them. Now, they are really doing very nice service to our Gaudiya mission. I feel proud of my godbrothers and the magnanimity of Srila Narayana Goswami Maharaja that he never discriminated between his own disciples and the disciples of other gurudevas; he taught all of them equally.
I have even seen that whenever I used to go to Srila Narayan Goswami Maharaja with some questions, he used to answer with great care; I used to feel that my spiritual master was speaking through him. However, according to our spiritual relation, I am like his godbrother; therefore, he used to always give me a chair to sit in front of him. I used to feel very shy to accept that chair. Then, I used to humbly tell him, “Maharaja, when you joined the Gaudiya Math, I was not even born. How can I sit on the chair in front of you? My place is to sit under your feet. So please allow me to sit under your feet.” Although Maharaja did not agree, he was unable to refuse my approach. He would always try to fulfill whatever I requested.
Also, I have seen that Srila Narayan Goswami Maharaj was representing the teachings of Srila Viswanath Chakravarty Thakur, Srila Rupa & Srila Raghunatha by example to everybody without discrimination between eastern and western devotees. The rare exalted philosophical Vaisnava books as Ujjwal Nilmani, Gita-Govinda, Chamatkar Chandrika etc were available in the Sanskrit with the brief explanation only in Bengali. Now all the teachings of these rare books are available in the Hindi, English and other different languages by the grace of HDG Srila Bhakti Vedanta Narayan Goswami Maharaj. All spiritually sincere and inquisitive devotees, who want to know all the secret teachings of our previous teachers (Guru-Vargas) and pastimes of the Divine Couple Sri Sri Radha Krishna should feel indebted for the publications of HDG Srila Narayan Goswami Maharaj.
I remember one incident through which I appreciate his straightforward attitude towards me. In 2008, Srila Maharaja’s followers had told him that I am not favorable towards him; therefore, Srila Narayana Goswami Maharaja called me to his temple at Govardhan after Kartik Purnima. It was around 4 PM. When I met Srila Maharaja, he told me, “Why are you not coming to me? Everybody is coming but you are not coming to me.” Then, I explained, “Maharaja, I am not free from my services. After my Guru Maharaja’s physical departure, it is very difficult to manage the temples.” Then, he said, “I understand but I heard that you are not favorable towards me. Please talk to my devotees, Bhakti Vedanta Madhava Maharaja and others.” After that incident, I felt blessed seeing Maharaj’s straightforward simplicity which is his blessing to me, someone who is like his junior an unworthy godbrother. Thereafter, I returned to our Dauji Temple in Vrindavan.
I remember one more incident from 2009. It was 11 AM. I had come with 30 Canadian devotees for Govardhan Parikrama. At that time, I heard that Srila Narayana Goswami Maharaja was at his Govardhan temple. I took all the Canadian devotees to meet Maharaja wherein his servants mercifully allowed me and all the western devotees to meet Srila Maharaja. I was not prepared to meet Maharaja and had only Rs. 500 with me. After all 30 devotees left, I offered Rs. 500 to Maharaj. At that time, Maharaja playfully said, “I expect Rs. 5 lakhs from you; not just 500!” I said, “Maharaja, I don’t have that right now. Please accept this for my satisfaction.” Then he said, “Okay.” He accepted the donation and was happily smiling. I felt great intimacy with Maharaja.
Once, Maharaja was physically unwell in Jagannath Puri. It was two days before the appearance day festival of my Gurudeva. I went to Srila Narayan Maharaja to request him to attend the festival. Although the disciples around Maharaja said that he was unwell and that he could not attend, Maharaja immediately told me, “I will come at 10 o’clock to the festival.” After two days, on the appearance day festival, it was heavily raining. However, at exactly 10 AM, Srila Narayana Goswami Maharaja appeared at our temple for the festival along with his assistants, such as Srila Bhakti Vedanta Madhava Maharaja, and 20 other male and female disciples. Due to the rains, even the stage was not properly prepared but Maharaja was there exactly on time. That harikatha festival was so glorious and I was so happy. At the end of the festival, Srila Maharaja told to me, “Maharaja, I have some prasadam restrictions but my devotees will take prasadam here.” Then, Srila Maharaja left for his temple which is one block away from our temple in Puri and then all the devotees honored prasadam.
All of these incidents remind me of our previous teacher’s, Srila Bhakti Vinode Thakur’s, instruction, namely that simplicity is another name of Vaisnavism. Internally, Srila Narayana Goswami Maharaja was very simple.
On 29th of December 2010, I was in South Africa. I was in my room in a retreat center where a holy name retreat was arranged by South African devotees. All the devotees were very enthusiastic to attend the retreat as Srila Narayana Goswami Maharaja had just visited South Africa a few months before. Most of the devotees were at the center. One day in the early morning at 3 AM, the devotees knocked on my door and told me, “Srila Narayana Maharaja has disappeared.” As soon as I heard this, I immediately felt that another guardian of the entire Gaudiya society had physically left us. However, I believe that in spirit, he is always with us and protecting us from various dangers that come in the spiritual practice. Therefore, as I mentioned above, Srila Narayana Goswami Maharaja is a significant personality amongst our Gaudiya vaisnava acharyas. In his centennial ceremony, I humbly pray to his lotus feet to bestow his causeless mercy on me, all Gopinath Gaudiya Math devotees, and all devotees to inspire us to listen to harikatha as he had inspired his followers, and to serve guru, Vaisnavas, and Bhagavan for the rest of our lives with purity. I am especially requesting at the lotus feet of Maharaja – Please inspire me to chant with purity. I always saw that you were holding the chanting beads whenever I came to see you. Please inspire me to chant like that for the rest of my life just as you were always chanting.
Yours in the service of Lord Chaitanya’s mission,
Searching for a tiny speck of dust from the lotus feet of the pure devotees,
An unworthy servant of the Gaudiya Vaisnavas,
B. B. Bodhayan
President, Sri Gopinath Gaudiya Math.