Sripad B.V. Mahavir Maharaja
Jayati Jayati Bhaktabandhava!
In the commentary of the first verse of the book Gopi-gita, Srila Gurudeva wrote: “Jayati means ‘to become glorious or victorious.’ When we call out, 'Gurudeva ki jaya ho!' 'Govindaji ki jaya ho!' or 'Tulasi-devi ki jaya ho!' we are expressing our hope that they will have victory. The victory of one party automatically implies defeat of the opposing party. He who is conquered is captured and imprisoned by the victor and, having come under his full control, is bound to carry out his every order. The heart and mind of a conditioned soul are in battle with Sri Hari, Guru, Vaisnavas, Vrnda-devi, and all other transcendental personalities. A conditioned soul who aspires to be a devotee laments his condition and prays, 'My uncontrolled heart and mind are like demons, and therefore I have no desire to serve Krishna, Guru, and Vaisnavas.' 'Gurudeva ki jaya!' actually means, 'O Gurudeva, please conquer my rebellious heart and mind so that they have no choice but to obey your every command. O Gurudeva, having conquered my heart, do as you please with me. Make me your servant; make me yours.'”
Having this aim as the very meaning of my life, I call aloud again and again for his mercy: Srila Gurudeva ki jaya!
The ripened fruit of the Rupanuga tree
Srila Gurudeva is the ripened fruit of the Rupanuga tree. He is the pinnacle of Mahaprabhu's movement. The deepest knowledge of rasa-tattva he manifested through his books, the nectar of Radha-prema he distributed through his Harikatha, what he achieved as an acarya attracting the hearts of millions and the respect of important political and religious leaders, how he spread the paradigm of Raganuga-bhakti around the world, how he protected the different dhamas, and how he accomplished many other incomparable deeds established Srila Gurudeva's unique position in the modern history of Gaudiya Vaisnavism. We are not talking about just one more acarya. We are talking about someone extraordinary who is the embodiment of Mahaprabhu's manobhistam (heartfelt desire) in its complete and vast form.
Very close to him
I came to the lotus feet of Srila Gurudeva when I was 25, and by his causeless mercy, I received diksa and saffron cloth in Kartika 2007. After that, I had the opportunity to serve him very closely for three years. This intimate contact with Srila Gurudeva had a tremendous impact on my life! Nothing could be better than that! I could understand not only how he preaches, but also how he behaves and relates to others in his intimacy, receiving his direct love, care and protection. Allowing me to perform different menial services for him, he was giving me a very rare chance to advance and purify myself. I remember how Sripad Madhava Maharaja once told me that "to think Srila Gurudeva needs our services is a type of offense. He is just giving us a chance to purify ourselves."
Now these memories that I have with Srila Gurudeva are the fuel of my life! And I always keep the hope that Srila Gurudeva will again appear in front of me and give me some order. I hope he will find me again, life after life. For a baby like me, to be in a very close physical association with him is vital. Although the siddhanta says that vani seva is higher, for a person like me, vapu seva is indispensable. But I am so fallen and unqualified that, even ten years after his departure, I am unable to feel viraha and renounce this material world at once for the exclusive service of his lotus feet. I am unable to please Srila Gurudeva in the way he expects from me.
The following are eight verses I could compose by the mercy of Srila Gurudeva alone.
I offer prayers unto Srila Gurudeva, Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja, who, as Bhaktabandhava, is the worthiest shelter for every living entity. He fulfils the inner-heart desire of Gaurahari by bestowing radha-dasyam, the opportunity to serve Radharani as Her maidservant.
yuga acarya narayanam
Srila Gurudeva is the foremost of the acaryas in the line of Srila Rupa Gosvami in the present age, and therefore he is very dear to Sri Rupa Manjari. Through his unconditional friendship he uplifts and saves the fallen souls from the bondage of the material life.
vande gurum narayanam
gaura kantir anga citram
I offer prayers to the lotus feet of Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja, Srila Gurudeva, who appeared in the oriental horizon of Vraja, and, with the effulgence of his wonderful golden limbs, dispelled the darkness of Kali-yuga.
radha pranaya sevike
radha ananda vidayine
ramana manjari caranam vande
I offer my prayers to the lotus feet of Sri Ramana Manjari who, as an intimate servant of Sri Radha, is very dear to Her. She is expert in giving pleasure to Sri Radha, and is always engaged in serving Her love.
nayana mani nila prema sarovar
pranayini panaka karuna adara
mathura mandala nikate nivasa
ekacitta vraja rasika vara
The gem of Srila Gurudeva’s eyes is like a blue lake of love, the reservoir from where the devotees drink his compassion. Always absorbed in the mood of Vraja, he resides in Sri Mathura mandala. He is the best among all vraja-rasika devotees.
svarasiki yogyata'bhisara lila
yugala milana malati kutira
sattvika vikara bhava suvarna
kadacita shyama'para goura varna
Internally, Srila Gurudeva meditates in an unbroken flow of pastimes throughout the day, when finally, he is able to arrange for the meetings of the divine couple in the malati groves during Their night pastimes. Externally, he exhibits different ecstatic transformations, and a very beautiful bodily complexion which is sometimes darkish and sometimes golden.
grantha prakasha'nvaya manobhista
simhadvani tika stamba Guru nistha
tat tat bhakata pada anusari
ramani siromani jana sukhakari
Having a mountain like Guru-nistha, Srila Gurudeva published different scriptures with purports that sound like the roar of a lion, thus fulfilling the heart’s desire of our Guru-parampara. Following in their footsteps, he gives happiness to all maidservants of Radha.
anvita rupanuga bhava ucchistha
vani prachara ca vigraha pratistha
dhama sevayati sthitisthapaka
jayati jayati bhakta bandhava
Endowed with the remnants of the mood of the Rupanuga, Srila Gurudeva preached the teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, established deities, and restored the pastimes places of Radha and Krishna to its original state. All glories, all glories to him who is the best well-wisher of all living entities.
Srila Gurudeva, koro more atma satha! Make me one with your service mood, with your inner heart’s desires, with your mind and with your loving attachment to the service of the lotus feet of your Svamini Srimati Radhika.
Below there are many sweet accounts of Srila Gurudeva’s life history, teachings, and loving exchanges with me and other devotees.
Sri Gurudeva mano-bhistam
Srila Gurudeva said, “If you want to satisfy me, then try to understand my heart. Try to understand what I want and then try to realize it.” What is Gurudeva’s mano-bhistam (heart’s desire)? What does Gurudeva want by coming in this world? The simplest explanation is that he wants us all to become Rupanuga, i.e., followers of Sri Rūpa Gosvāmī and Sri Rūpa Manjarī. Thus, Srila Gurudeva’s mano-bhistam is the same as that of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and all Guru-parampara. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu wants to make available in this world the access to the service of the lotus feet of Sri Radha under the guidance of Sri Rupa Manjarī. But this mano-bhistam is divided into two aspects: practice and preaching, based on raganuga-sadhana-bhakti. Therefore, in order to please Srila Gurudeva, we have to practice and preach like he did. Only by keeping his photo on the altar, doing puja and giving some donations will never suffice.
The day-by-day in Mathura
Srila Gurudeva used to give Harikatha three times a day: in the morning, after lunch, and in the evening. The brahmacaris who lived in the matha (Gaudiya asrama) worked very hard since 3.30 - 4.00 am, but if someone would fall asleep during Harikatha, Srila Gurudeva would make them stand for the rest of the class. Every day they had to memorize one verse and repeat in front of Srila Gurudeva during class. If someone would fail, then Gurudeva would not allow them to take some delicious preparation like paneer or jackfruit subji. Therefore, all brahmacaris became very qualified. After the evening prasad and Harikatha, Srila Gurudeva would lead them to perform Harinama-sankirtana on the streets of Mathura, while going for house programs. Only by 11 pm they would return to the matha. Srila Gurudeva also translated books, travelled around India, and always chanted not less than sixty-four rounds of japa every day.
Teaching the pandits
When Srila Gurudeva used to organize Bhagavat-saptaha in Mathura, he would invite different pandits from Mathura and Vrndavana to attend the programs and speak about different subjects. Respectfully listening to them, Srila Gurudeva would wait patiently till the end to speak and establish the real siddhanta of Srimad Bhagavatam, making due corrections on the mistakes of the pandits. After conquering the admiration and respect of the pandits, they used to come to ask some questions about different scriptures. Srila Gurudeva said that they knew Sanskrit much more than him, but due to Srila Param Gurudeva’s mercy, some realization came in his heart, allowing him to access the deepest meaning of the Sanskrit words that all pandits didn’t know.
Fighting the sahajiya-babajis
Srila Gurudeva wrote the book Prabhanda-pancakam in which he establishes the proper Gaudiya-siddhanta and defeats the preaching of apa-sampradayas, specially the sahajiya-babajis from Radha-kunda. After printing the book, he went to Radha-kunda to distribute it for free and challenge the babajis for a debate. Nobody came forward. Srila Gurudeva told once that “99% of the people living in Radha-kunda are of loose character. They don’t know even how to clean themselves after using the toilet and want to talk about gopi-bhava.”
Never compromising with apa-siddhanta
Before Gurudeva began to preach in the West, some of the ISKCON leaders made him a proposal: “We can take you to preach everywhere, we will arrange everything for you, programs, people, etc., but you have to agree to speak that the jivas (living beings) fell from Vaikuntha.” Gurudeva strongly replied, “What nonsense is this? I will never say like that! It’s not written anywhere in sastras. Go away from here! I don’t need anything from you. I don’t need your material things, nothing. I will never speak apa-siddhanta! Never!” And when they tried to prevent Srila Gurudeva from travelling around the world, He said: "I will jump like a lion, and no one can stop me! I will travel everywhere!”
Going to the West
In 1996 Srila Gurudeva started touring in the West. At first, he went to Netherlands, then England, France, etc. After Srila Gurudeva conquered Mathura, He was able to conquer the whole world. He travelled around the globe more than thirty times. His last tour was in 2010 to Brazil, South Africa, USA, Italy, and Russia.
Knowing more than Gurudeva
It is very dangerous when a disciple begins to think that he knows more than his Guru. Some of Gurudeva's disciples became scholars in Sanskrit and sastras, and began to think, "Gurudeva doesn't know what I know. I know more than Gurudeva." And what happened after that? They left Gurudeva and left bhakti because it is an insult to think that you know more than Gurudeva. If you know more Sanskrit or slokas by heart, does it make you more realized than Gurudeva? Bhakti will not come from memorizing books. Bhakti will come through visrambhena guru-seva (intimate service to Sri Guru) and sambandha-jñana (knowledge of one’s relationship with Radha-Krishna). You may not know Sanskrit at all, or you may not even be able to read and write like Gaura-Kisora Das Babaji Maharaja, but if you have Guru-nistha, then Radha and Krishna are bound to show Their mercy to you. The most important thing to start bhakti is to cultivate Guru-nistha. Without Guru-nistha we are not even able to begin our practice. If you have Guru-nistha, Krishna can protect you, but if you don't have Guru-nistha, nobody can protect you! Without Guru-nistha it is impossible to have any type of auspiciousness in our life. Always remember the incident of Indra-deva when he neglected his Guru Brihaspati, he lost all protection against the demons, and was defeated by them. Gurudeva often said that Guru-nistha is the backbone of bhakti.
Once Sripad Srauti Maharaja from France asked Srila Gurudeva how he should speak Harikatha. Then Srila Gurudeva answered, “…when you speak Harikatha, you should not speak what you have read from the books, rather you should speak in the same way you heard from me, because there is power in my words, there is realization.”
We must become the parrots of Gurudeva.
The title Yuga-Acharya
Srila Gurudeva is one of the most important acaryas of all time. For this reason, in October 2003, he was awarded the title “Yuga-Acharya” by the Acharya Pith and the World Religious Parliament, organized by the prominent religious leaders of Vraja-mandala and New Delhi, respectively. During his speech, Srila Gurudeva highlighted with a very humble and devotional speech why he did not consider himself the Yuga-Acharya. He said, “I am in no case fit for the high class of honour you have given to me. It is due to your own greatness, benevolence and charitable natures that you are giving it to me. I feel ashamed to accept this designation, because it is far too elevated for me. (…) In this honorific title you have used the word Acharya. In that regard there are so many past acaryas, such as our Six Gosvamis, Sri Madhvacarya, Sri Vallabhacarya and so on. In comparison to all of them, I am insignificant. I do not understand the reason you all find me fit for this designation of Yuga Acharya. This is Kali-yuga and so many exalted, self-realized acaryas came. It may be possible that since this is Kali-yuga, I am the present, or most recent, acarya of Kali-yuga. (…) One fact is true though; from the core of my heart, I am always totally surrendered and dedicated to the Vrajavasis. My very big concern is that all the important places in Vraja-mandala are vanishing and they are not being looked after correctly. (…) I have arranged this parikrama in order to bring the foreign devotees here – to narrate to them the glorification of Vraja-mandala and to have them visit all these glorious places. I would like them to understand the glories of the holy places. I also want them to see the dilapidated condition of these places so they can begin to think about their renovation. These foreigners should see what they are giving their life to, and through them I will do what I can to redevelop the pastimes places in Vraja. I tried by my own efforts to renovate Brahma-kunda and Uddhava-kyari, which is practically totally destroyed, but the government did not want to cooperate. At Uddhava-kyari we have planted many trees, but then the government members told me, 'Why have you done this on your own? You should go through the government.' If we go through the government, however, the government men do not do anything to help. I want to redevelop Uddhava-kyari and I have already spent 150,000 rupees to do so. The government men wrote me, ‘Don't plant trees there’. But before the government's letter reached us we completed the planting in two days. I met the magistrate, but he had no brain. I told him and his associates, ‘In the entire universe, Vraja is the most important place, and you want to stop redeveloping it? I do not think that there is one real Indian in the Parliament, otherwise he would have thought about renovating these places. This Vraja-mandala is the life and soul of Bharata (India), and unless we accept its culture our life will go in vain. This is the Indian government in name only. If its members were Indian, they would have taken care.’”
Who is a Vrajavasi
Then, Srila Gurudeva begun to explain the deeper meaning of what is to be a Vrajavasi: “What is Bhagavat-prema? Without Radha-dasyam no one can attain Lord Krsna. Who is a Vrajavasi? Not everyone born in Vraja is a Vrajavasi. A Vrajavasi is one who has a mood like Nanda Baba, Mother Yashoda, or Srimati Radharani. One who has a bhava (transcendental emotion) like Nanda Baba that 'Krsna is my son,' or that 'Srimati Radhika is my sakhi’, that person is a Vrajavasi. One who has such a relationship with Srimati Radharani will think, 'We don't want any direct relationship with Krsna. Our mistress, our life and soul, is Srimati Radhika. If Sri Krsna calls me I won't go. I will only do what is required to make Them meet.' The manjaris, those Vrajavasis who think 'Srimati Radharani is our friend,' understand that Sri Krsna is fully controlled by Her. They are palya-dasis of Srimati Radharani and are so great that they can even stop Krsna when He is on the way to see Her. This culture is full of prema. This spiritual culture has degenerated now in Vraja. I would like to see that when people come from outside to look into this culture, the residents approach them in an honourable way – not to rob the Westerners pockets to fill their own. These days Indians don't read Srimad-Bhagavatam, and certainly they don't read it in Parliament. I don't think that anyone in our Parliament knows these truths or has even read Srimad-Bhagavatam.”
Chastising whenever and whoever as needed
Seeing that many of the local pandas were there hearing attentively, Srila Gurudeva took the opportunity to clarify some important siddhanta and gave a very straight forward speech to them, because he knew they had some misconceptions: “Javata is the place of Srimati Radharani's in-laws, not Nandagaon. We don't believe that Nandagaon is the place of Srimati Radharani's in-laws, but rather that place is Javata. Srimati Radharani is not married to Sri Krsna. Radharani is dear to Sri Krsna, but Yogamaya didn't allow their marriage. If Srimati Radhika was Krsna's wife and Nanda Baba was Her father-in-law, they would have taken Her in their home – but they didn't. She didn't live there. Also, Satyabhama and Rukmini had so many children. Why didn't Srimati Radhika have any children? Srimati Radhika did not stay or live in the house of Nanda Baba as a bride, because She is Krsna's paramour. This paramour-rasa is the topmost rasa. A wife is a type of servant. If one becomes a wife she is forced to serve her husband, and her husband is bound to supply her necessities like clothing and other paraphernalia. We have never seen that Krsna gave clothes, soap, or anything of that sort to Srimati Radharani. He only gave Her garlands, which are free of cost. He never spent any money on the gopis. We have to reconcile Srimati Radhika's supposed marriage. She was married in Bhandiravana, but that was not a real marriage. It was by the gandharva system of simply exchanging garlands. No in-laws were present. By Yogamaya's order, She and Krsna never married. The essence of this Srimad-Bhagavatam is parakiya-bhava, and this is what Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu came to give. I want to present the idea of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Srimad-Bhagavatam was spoken by Sri Sukadeva Gosvami and written by Sri Vyasadeva. This is what Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu came to give. He accepted that Srimati Radharani was never married to Krsna, and our Gosvamis like Srila Rupa Gosvami, Srila Sanatana Gosvami, and Srila Jiva Gosvami are in that same line. There are so many examples of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's mercy, in the form of Srila Rupa Gosvami's Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu. These books are only descriptions of these principles. I want to renovate Javata. I went to that sacred place of Srimati Radharani's in-laws, but I saw that the managers are installing deities of Durga-devi and Ganesa. Ganesa, Sankara, and Parvati are sitting there on the altar. I was so sad to see these deities sitting there. I told the managers, ‘If you take them off the altar, then I will develop this place.’ They became angry. I am trying to beautify this small place where the pastimes of Javata can be remembered. In Vrndavana, at Rasa-sthali, there is no vata, banyan tree. I want to plant a vata tree there. I came to know that Bhattaji wants the renovation of this place. Let them come up with a program and I'll see it. Since I already want to serve this sacred place, I can expand my program to include them."
Establishing Srimad Bhagavatam as the spotless evidence
Some of the Nandagaon pandits were upset by Srila Gurudeva’s saying that Nandagaon was not Srimati Radharani's in-laws' place, so he spoke further: “The Srimad-Bhagavatam is written in paroksavada. Paroksavada is a statement that is made only indirectly. For example, Krsna told the gopis who came after hearing His flute, 'Go back to your homes and serve your husbands. It is the dharma, religious duty, of a chaste wife to serve her husband – even if her husband is ugly, sick, lame or crippled or harsh.' 'Oh,' the gopis replied, 'We have just heard this message from you. You are so great to have given us this instruction, and therefore You are our Guru. We have heard from the authorities that we must serve our Guru first, and then anyone else. We accept You as our Guru because You are giving us this religious knowledge. Also, you are our real pati (husband), one who nourishes another. You are the personality who nourishes our heart. You nourish everyone, even our husbands, and therefore you are our pati in the real sense.' We should therefore understand that this section of Srimad-Bhagavatam contains statements made indirectly. Srimati Radharani possesses all the qualities that attract Lord Krsna. At the same time, Krsna is so attractive that He attracts Her. He attracts Srimati Radharani more than He is attracted towards Her. So, I am not rejecting Krsna. He is unlimitedly beautiful and has such unlimitedly great qualities that even Srimati Radharani becomes attracted towards Him. Please do not misunderstand that by glorifying Srimati Radharani I am undermining the glorification of Krsna. I am not trying to make Krsna look small. By paroksavada, indirect reference, I am truly glorifying Him.”
According to tattva-vicara – Krishna is the same. But from the point of view of rasa, Krishna is different in Mathura, Dvaraka, and even in Vrndavana. Krishna with His friends, with mother Yaśodā, with the gopīs, with Radhika are all different ‘Krishnas’. Parakiya-tattva is the very life of Vraja, because everyone in Vraja is somehow making arrangements to favour Krishna’s parakiya-rasa with Radha.
Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Gosvami Maharaja gives a nice definition of parakiya-rasa. He says that parakiya means the feeling of belonging to and depending on someone else to live. In this way, all Vrajavasis have this type of feeling towards Krishna. All Vrajavasis feel that they belong to Krishna. Their lives are meant only for His happiness. Their life-airs belong only to Krishna. Therefore, the gopis also belong to Krishna and not to their husbands.
parakiya-bhave jaha vradjete pracara
This verse says about the glory of unnata-ujvalla rasa and the preaching of parakiya-rasa in Vraja. This is what Srila Gurudeva did; he preached parakiya-rasa like all the Gosvamis and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. If Vrajavasis do not understand this, how they will protect Vrndavana? Therefore, our Srila Gurudeva is the original Vrajavasi. Therefore, some of them got upset with Gurudeva, but Gurudeva did not compromise with anyone. Param-Gurudeva said that we should always tell the truth, even if it is unpleasant to someone. Srila Gurudeva did not want to satisfy anyone with his words. He just wanted to tell the truth. So Srila Gurudeva became very famous throughout the Vraja-mandala, and most Vrajavasis loved him very much.
Krishna is not God
Srila Gurudeva said, “Srila Swami Maharaja came to Western countries to tell that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but I have come to say that Krishna is not God. He is the beloved son of mother Yasoda and Nanda Maharaja, a dear friend of Subala and Madhumangala, and the beloved of the gopis, especially of Srimati Radhika.”
Once, the disciples of Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja offered him to open a temple in Vrndavana, and Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja replied: “There is no need to open a temple in Vrndavana. There, the rasa-acarya (referring to Srila Gurudeva) is present. What kind of preaching can we do there?”
Srila Gurudeva was also strict and disciplined in his sermons. Everyone knows that our Gurudeva was very kind and sweet, treating everyone with great love and affection. But at the same time, he was very strict because his Gurudeva was known as Acarya-Kesari, the lion-like acarya. And Gurudeva had the same nature like him. Srila Gurudeva became famous for his chastisements of the matha-vasis and whoever crossed his way with an inappropriate manner. But due to the soft and freaky nature of the western devotees, Srila Gurudeva had to adjust himself in order not to hurt many western devotees with his harsh approach. Once he pointed out to some Indian brahmacaris while addressing some western devotees. “Do you see these boys? I can chastise them, I can even kick them, but they would never leave me. But you people are so sensitive that if I just pinch you a little bit, you will go far away from me and from bhakti.”
Special affection for some disciples
One day, during a morning walk in Australia, Sripad Damodar Maharaja asked Srila Gurudeva, "Gurudeva, do you have any special affection for some disciples, or do you love all of them equally?" Gurudeva answered that he regarded the disciples differently. The devotee said, "But you must treat everyone equally. Krishna treats everyone equally. Why you don’t?" And Gurudeva said, "Krishna also does not treat everybody equally. Those who are para-dhina towards Krishna get more love from Him." Para-dhina means the one who makes Krishna depend on him. Gopis are para-dhina. Krishna depends on the love of the gopis. They can control Krishna with their love. Therefore, Krishna gives more love to the gopis than to others. If a disciple serves Gurudeva with full affection, enthusiasm and complete surrender, then Gurudeva is bound to give him more love and attention. If a disciple is trying to satisfy Guru’s heart and knows his mano-bhishtam, he, of course, gets more love and affection from his Gurudeva. Gurudeva says, "One way or another I treat everyone equally, but I am not treated equally by all.” He gave the example of the sun. The sun sheds the same light on everybody. But if you remain inside the house, you won't be able to get as much light as those who are outside. If you are hiding in the room, the light won’t reach you. You have to go out, and then you’ll get sunlight. In the same way, if you hide from Gurudeva’s mercy, and do not serve him, how can you expect the same type of reciprocation like the ones who are completely dedicated to Guru-seva? Gurudeva always said, "My mercy is always available to all!” But you also should make an effort from your side. If you do not do anything, how can you expect to receive his mercy? Then the disciple joked, “So, everyone is equal but some are more equal than others.” and Srila Gurudeva laughed.
Worship me with love
Once Gurudeva asked, "How do you worship me? Worshiping with paraphernalia is not so important. Worshiping with your heart is much higher. I want you to be tadatmiya with me." Tadatmiya means one in heart and soul, fulfilling Gurudeva’s mano-bhistam (his heart's desire). Just like when you place an iron rod into the fire, it will turn red and become hot, changing the nature of the iron into fire. Iron cannot burn, but if you put it into the fire, it will be able to burn other objects. Likewise, if we tune our hearts with Gurudeva’s, we will be able to absorb or reflect his moods and seva-vrtti (tendency to serve). We should try to be as close as possible to Gurudeva’s heart, moods, teachings, behaviours, and serve him whole heartedly.
Give me your independence
Gurudeva once said, "If you want to give me something, give me your independence." The more independent we become, the less Gurudeva can help us! The first limb of bhakti is Guru-pada-asraya, or to take shelter at the lotus feet of Sri Guru. It is not enough to just put Gurudeva’s picture is the altar and say ‘Gurudeva kripa koro, udhar koro’. We have to perform like “sarva dharman parityajya and anyabhilasita suniyam”, give up all mundane duties and desires which are not in line with Guru-seva.
The meaning of the word Visnu
Once Srila Gurudeva explained what the word "Visnu" means. Literally, Visnu means “the all-pervading one”, He is everywhere. Who's everywhere? Krishna is everywhere. He is dwelling inside of each atom and in the heart of every living being. But who is in Krishna's heart? Radha is. Therefore, Srimati Radhika is the all-pervading. Krishna is everywhere, but there is one place – His own heart – where Srimati Radhika lives. So, when we pronounce the titles of our acaryas, "om visnupada…”, does it mean that our Gurudeva is at the feet of Visnu? No. He is at the lotus feet of Radha.
Our ID card
Srila Gurudeva clearly gave us what is our eternal identity. If you go to the store, each product has its own label with the name of the product, the company that manufactured this product, and all necessary information about it. So, what is the information written in our spiritual label? That we are the maidservants of Srimati Radhika, under the guidance of Rupa Manjari in the group of Lalita Sakhi. That's our ID card. This should be very clear in our mind. That is our goal. If you do not establish the goal, it is impossible to perform sadhana.
In the mood of Rupa-Raghunatha
Srila Gurudeva said that you should be very careful when you follow Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu because He is in the mood of Radha, feeling separation from Krishna, and this is not our mood. His sadhana is different from ours. What he practices is not what we want to practice. he wants to hear the poetry of Vidyapati, Candidas, Bilvamangala Thakura, and Jayadeva Gosvami. But what is their mood? It is the mood of svakiya-bhava (marital mood). But our path is in the line of Sri Rupa Gosvami and Raghunatha das Gosvami. In order to become palya-dasis of Radha, we must follow in their footsteps. Raghunatha das – Prayojana-Acarya - is the teacher of the ultimate goal. Rupa Gosvami – Abhideya-Acarya – is the teacher of the way to achieve this goal. Bilvamangala Thakura sings, “Krishna's face is more beautiful than His lotus feet, but Srimati Radhika worships His lotus feet.” Gurudeva said we don't like it. “We like it when Krishna worships the Lotus feet of Radhika. This is the mood of the Rupanuga.” Another example given by Srila Gurudeva is about the understanding of the meaning of Maha-mantra relished by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Hare is the vocative of Hara, Radha, and Krishna means Vrajendra Nandana Syamasundara Krishna. Rama means Ramaniya Krishna – Radha Raman. Thus, the Maha-mantra is the union of Radha and Krishna. But when Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu chants the Maha-mantra, He does not think like so? For Him, Hare means to call Hari, Krishna. Therefore, the entire Maha-mantra of Mahaprabhu consists only of the names of Krishna. Why? Because He is chanting in the mood of Radha, and She is not going to call and cry for Her own self. Therefore, Srila Gurudeva always emphasized, “We follow only the mood of Rupa and Raghunatha!”
One heart for two
Srila Gurudeva wanted us to develop affection for him. How should we become tadatmiya with Gurudeva? Tadatmiya means one in heart and soul with Gurudeva. Such disciple will be enriched internally by the moods of his Guru, like a crystal that absorbs the colour of the light that was shed on it. Or when we put an iron bar into the fire, and it gets hot and red like fire. The nature of iron is to be cold, and it does not burn. But at the moment the iron bar becomes red-hot, we cannot tell the difference between iron and fire. In the same way, we are like the iron bar and Gurudeva is like the fire. Iron cannot transfer its qualities to the fire, due to its inferior nature, but Gurudeva can easily transfer his quality to us, due to his transcendental nature. So, if we become one with Him, then all his bhavas will be transferred to us.
kṛd asau bhāva ucyate
“When devotional service is executed on the transcendental platform of pure goodness, it is like a sun-ray of love for Krsna. At such a time, devotional service causes the heart to be softened by various tastes, and one is then situated in bhava (emotion).”
Srila Gurudeva said: “What is the transcendental mood of one situated in bhava-bhakti? Raga-atmika-bhakti is situated in the heart of such associates as Subal, Sridam, Madhumangala, Nanda Baba, Mother Yasoda, and the gopis. If one remembers and follows their service to Krishna according to their relation with Him, their bhakti will then manifest in the heart of that qualified devotee.” So, Srila Gurudeva is also one of those nitya-siddha parikara (associates) from whom we can receive this bhava.
More than millions of mothers
Srila Gurudeva is very merciful. He always gives us the second, third, and fourth chance. His love for us is greater than millions of mothers’. A mother always sees her child as a good person, and will always say to everyone: "My son is wonderful; he has so many good qualities. He is the best son in the world!" It’s because the mother's love is unconditional. She looks at her son's defects, but considers only his good features. Likewise, Srila Gurudeva again and again encourages his disciples to continue practicing, despite of all his (or her) faults. Gurudeva’s nature is to find a small spark in the middle of a mountain of ashes-like anarthas of his disciples, and start blowing it so the fire can start again. It means that, whatever good qualities can be found in the disciples, no matter how small they could be, Gurudeva will only look at that and try to make them grow. There are no limits for his causeless mercy.
I give you Krishna-prema!
Once, Srimati Vrnda Didi asked Srila Gurudeva: "When you are sitting on the Vyasa-asana, and all the devotees are in front of you, you keep looking to us as if you are scanning everyone, and sometimes you stare at some person. Sometimes you fix your eyes on me, and I don't know what to do at this moment: whether to look in your eyes or to look down. I feel embarrassed. And I want to know, Srila Gurudeva, what do you do when you are staring at everyone like that?” Srila Gurudeva said, "I am giving you Krishna-prema!”
jaguka hridoye mora sumangalarati
“Shower Your kind glance upon the world now. Awaken in my heart that most auspicious rati.”
Like Krishna, Gurudeva can give so much through his merciful glance. He can even install deities just by glancing the murtis. Not only that but Srila Gurudeva had very particular blue eyes accompanied by a fearsome sight like a lion.
Same Guru may not come
Once Śrīpāda Āśrama Mahārāja asked: Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura has prayed, “Cakṣu-dāna dilā jei, janme janme prabhu sei – You are my master birth after birth.” Guru is one. Guru is coming birth after birth. In what stage does the devotee have to be, in order to have that particular manifestation of Guru-tattva come back to him for a relationship birth after birth?
Śrīla Gurudeva replied: There is no certainty that it will be the same Guru. But Nityānanda Prabhu is akhaṇḍa-guru-tattva, so a bona fide Guru, one who is in His line, will come.
(Marina di massa, Italy. July 2, 2010)
Dreaming with Srila Gurudeva
Once a devotee asked Srila Gurudeva, "Gurudeva, when I dream of you, is it true or not?" Srila Gurudeva answered, "Only if I come in your dream three times in a row, with the same instruction, then you can believe that is me." This is the rule; otherwise the mind can dream up many things about Gurudeva.
Offering bhoga twice
Once I was in Navadvipa Dhama serving Srila Gurudeva and after getting his plate with prasadam, I noticed that he would put his hands above it in a gesture of offering that food to Radha-Krsna. Knowing that it was already offered before handing to him, I asked Madhuvrata Prabhu why that happened, and he replied that Srila Gurudeva used to do like that sometimes, even knowing that they always offer his meals to Thakurji before serving him. Apparently Madhuvrata Prabhu didn’t know the reason, and I never got to ask to someone else about it.
My true father
The first time I saw Śrīla Gurudeva, it was the first day of Kārtika Parikrama 2007, and he was weeping in separation while glorifying Param Gurudeva. When I saw that, I felt a great relief. My biological father always scolded me when I wept, telling me that ‘Men don’t weep’. But I was sure that my spiritual father would always encourage me to weep.
Bengal village preaching
After Kartika 2007, I was listed to go to Bengal pracara after parikrama, with Sripad Bhaktisar Maharaja. At that time, I was so new that I even didn’t know what Bengal pracara was. In fact I hardly knew about anything. I just had less than a year associating with devotees in Brazil. Even my English was very poor. Then many devotees began to tell me how hard it is to go to the villages of Bengal, how the food was heavy, the water was dirty, there were no bathrooms, no safety, and so on. I was shocked. So I went to Sripad Madhava Maharaja and began to ask him what that was all about. Calmly he replied, “There is no problem at all. You shouldn’t fear anything. After all, Srila Gurudeva would be very happy.” Then I argued saying that Bhaktisar Maharaja doesn’t speak English and I don’t speak Bengali. How would we communicate to each other? I also told that I didn’t know about the Bengali Vaisnava etiquette and that it would be very difficult for me, apart from many other issues related to my welfare. Finally, he accepted my pleas and put me in Sripad Visnu Maharaja's (Jiva Priya) group to go to another village. Visnu Maharaja was starting a brand-new preaching field which would have more facilities than the other ones and different western boys were going too - Candrasekhara Prabhu from Australia, Srivas Prabhu from Canada, and Haridas Prabhu from England. The result was just amazing and beyond all my expectations. We collected so much rice, brought many new devotees, and established a preaching center in the village of Srimantopur. Srila Gurudeva was extremely pleased with our endeavor and said that he wasn’t expecting that much from us. I only know that I gave all my blood to make that preaching the best we could. Two years later, we arranged a four-day festival for Srila Gurudeva in our village. About five thousand people attended the programs and more than hundred took initiation. Srila Gurudeva mentioned that it was one of the best festivals he attended. Many Indian and foreign devotees were invited. He was also very happy and impressed to see our hard work for collecting rice and bringing many people to Navadvipa Dhama parikrama. He blessed that center with the name Sri Haridas Gaudiya Matha, and it is running up to now in a grand manner.
After our successful first Bengal pracara in 2008, we came to Navadvipa Dhama parikrama, bringing so much rice, vegetables, dry coconuts, and a good amount of money. Srila Gurudeva was still living in his old bhajan-kutira outside of the matha. One day I went there and saw some devotees massaging him and thought I would also like to do it. But I felt it would be better if I first massage Sripad Madhava Maharaja, and then if he recommended me I would be able to massage Srila Gurudeva. After massaging Sripad Madhava Maharaja for few days, I mentioned to him that I would like to massage Srila Gurudeva. He said okay and called me inside the room. Srila Gurudeva was getting ready to be massaged and as soon as he saw me, he shouted: "What are you doing here? Go at once to distribute prasada!" Immediately I left the room without saying anything. The next day, Sripad Madhava Maharaja let me go again, and when Srila Gurudeva looked at me, he said: "What? Go and do some seva in the matha.” But instead of running, I kept looking at Sripad Madhava Maharaja to see what he would say. Then he looked at Gurudeva and told in Bengali, "Let him stay." And Srila Gurudeva kept silent. From this day, whenever I was near Srila Gurudeva, I could come for massage.
The book and the rose
In 2008, when I went to live in Mathura, where there was a bookstall near the matha’s gate, which was closed for few years. One day, after giving him massage, Srila Gurudeva instructed me to be in charge of that bookstall. He told me to keep all the accounts properly and to go outside for book distribution as well. He also gave me instructions to make everything look very beautiful. It was just after Rama-navami, and shortly after Srila Gurudeva left for preaching in the west. Three months later, when he came back for Janmastami, the book stall was doing very well. Many books were sold, new shelves were made inside the stall, the walls got new painting, and everything was very beautifully decorated. On the day of his arrival in the matha, I had the idea to keep the stall opened, hoping that he could see it on his way up to the temple room. As usual, many devotees welcomed him with kirtana and it was so crowded that I lost my hope that he could have a chance to look at me. So, I just kept myself inside the stall, watching everything. As he was passing in front, I just called Sripad Madhava Maharaja, indicating to him to look at the stall. Immediately, he pulled Srila Gurudeva in front of the stall. When Srila Gurudeva put his eyes on the bookstall, it was just as if the world had stopped. He looked carefully at each and every detail. My heart was beating fast. I could see Srila Gurudeva’s eyes glowing. He was very happy to see his books there. And as his eyes moved around, they fell on me. Srila Gurudeva had a beautiful rose in his hand, and with a very slow and gentle movement, he gave it to me. I just thought: “Oh Lord! My life has been crowned with success!" As he left with the crowd, I sat down on the stall and felt so much love coming from him. He was happy with my small service.
Serving without fear
Once, in 2009, Śrīpād Mādhava Māhāraja asked me to look after Śrīla Gurudeva while he went out for some business. Srila Gurudeva was sitting on the veranda of his bhajan-kutira in Govardhana, taking a sunbath and chanting. I kept myself a little far watching him. After a short while, he looked at me and asked, “Don't you have any work to do? I don't like to see people near me doing nothing.”
Immediately, I was put into a serious dilemma. Should I just follow his order straight away or try to explain to him what I was doing there? Starting to feel very nervous – but holding my ground – I slowly told Srila Gurudeva that Śrīpād Mādhava Māhāraja had requested me to stay there guarding while he went out for some time. “I don't need anything,” Gurudeva replied. “Go and find some work.”
I was very inexperienced at that time, and that was the first time I was alone with Srila Gurudeva, but somehow I understood that in this situation, Mādhava Mahārāja’s order to serve Srila Gurudeva was higher than Srila Gurudeva’s order to me. I therefore just remained where I was, literally ignoring Śrīla Gurudeva's order. But I had a good feeling that I was doing the right thing, and luckily he didn’t say anything else.
A little later, I noticed that Srila Gurudeva was trying to reach out his lotus feet for some reason but was unable to do so. And he began to use one of his foot to itch the other one. Somehow I understood that he was trying to remove his socks because he was feeling hot. Without hesitating, I ran to him and began to remove both socks gently. Then I looked at him smiling and said, “That's why I am here.”
Srila Gurudeva gave me a big smile and said, “Now sit here and chant.”
Twisting my ears
Once I went with Srila Gurudeva in his car from Mathura to Durvasa Matha. There, myself and Brajanatha Prabhu had to carry him up the very long stairs of Durvasa Matha. To carry Srila Gurudeva, we would move to his back, catch each other's arms crossing like a chair, and Srila Gurudeva would lean back a little bit to sit. Without any difficulties we did that and carried Srila Gurudeva all the way up. When we came back to Mathura Matha, again we had to carry him upstairs. But as we started doing the same procedure again, Srila Gurudeva was already leaning back, and because we were not ready, he had to hold himself not to lose his balance. And that made him very upset. Then he just turned to me and caught my ears, twisting it, and said: “You don’t know anything!” I got scared because that was the first time Srila Gurudeva chastised me. And Brajanatha Prabhu kept looking at me, expecting that I was going to try again but being reluctant to fail again I stepped back. Upset, Brajanatha Prabhu took Srila Gurudeva on his arms and carried him alone. After dropping Srila Gurudeva in his room, he came and chastised me. I apologized for not being able to catch his hands properly at that time, but for my surprise he said, “No, I am not upset because you failed to catch my hands. I am upset because you left me alone to carry Srila Gurudeva.”
My true mother
During Gaura-Purnima 2009, my parents came to India and I brought them to see Śrīla Gurudeva for the first time. When they entered the room, I told to Srila Gurudeva, “These are my parents. They came to see you. I am very grateful for all they did for me before; therefore, I want to offer them the most precious thing I have in my life, and that is your association. So kindly bless them.” Srila Gurudeva just showed his hand in a sign of blessing. As he noticed my mother crying, he told her, “I have so much affection for your son. I am taking care of him. Don’t worry.” And she began to cry even more. At that moment she knew for sure that I would never return home again.
The slap I didn’t get
Once I was with Srila Gurudeva in Pialli, West Bengal, for a three-day festival. After the first day's program, I followed Srila Gurudeva to his room, and Sripad Madhava Maharaja asked me to keep an eye on Srila Gurudeva while he was going somewhere. Srila Gurudeva sat on his bed and began to pull some money out of his pockets, put everything together on the bed, and called me to help him count it. Short after we started putting the bills together in our hands, I noticed that he was arranging it very nicely, putting Gandhi’s face all in the same position, but I wasn’t. Too late! Immediately, as if guessing my mind, he noticed that I was messing up. Then he raised his hands as if going to give me a slap. I just closed my eyes preparing for that most awaited moment: my first slap. Seconds passed and to my surprise nothing happened. When I opened my eyes, Srila Gurudeva was smiling, holding his hand just one inch from my face. And he just told me: “Put the bills face to face.”
Not missing a chance to massage Srila Gurudeva
Once Srila Gurudeva was in Govardhana, and I had to go there to bring new books to the bookstall in Mathura. When he saw me, immediately he asked why I have come if I have my service at the bookstall. After explaining to him why I came, he said: “Good! As soon as you get the new books, return immediately to Mathura.” I said sure, I will. But the person who was supposed to give me the books was very late. As soon I went to Srila Gurudeva’s room, it was time for his massage. Then when he saw me, he asked, "Did you get the books?" I answered, "Yes." He replied, "Good! Now you should go back to Mathura.” Then I began to think that it was too late already, and told him in Bengali in a playful way, “Srila Gurudeva, now is almost 11:30 am, and by the time I arrive in Mathura, lunch time will be over and also I open the stall at only 4 pm. If you allow, I would like to massage you now, take lunch here, and then leave for Mathura.” He and Madhava Maharaja laughed. Then Sripad Madhava Maharaja told Gurudeva in Bengali, “He can speak good Bengali now. Do you remember when we went to his preaching village, where he was begging rice in the various houses saying, “Ma, chawal din!”? Then Srila Gurudeva laughed and let me stay.
One morning in 2008, while Srila Gurudeva was staying in his bhajan-kutira at the B block of Navadvipa Matha, he fell inside the bathroom and hurt himself a little bit on the elbow. When I went there after mangala-arati, Sripad Madhava Maharaja had everything locked. Then I looked through the window, and saw Srila Gurudeva lying on his bed, wrapped in a thin blanket, and looking sick. When Sripad Madhava Maharaja noticed I was there, he called me inside the room and explained what happened and how Srila Gurudeva was feeling a little bit shocked because of his fall. Then Maharaja asked me, “Go and massage Srila Gurudeva’s lotus feet very gently to make him sleep for some time. Srila Gurudeva was looking so fragile like a baby. He seemed to be so delicate and fearful. For the first time I realized how old he was, and how shocking it would be for him to realize his body wasn’t working nicely as before. That was the first time I felt like he wouldn’t stay much longer among us.
Taking me for a walk in Navadvipa Matha
In 2008, when Srila Gurudeva’s bhajan-kutira was on the B block of the Navadvipa Matha, I used to clean his kitchen after lunch and then sit in front of his room, guarding the area while everyone was resting. Sripad Madhava Maharaja instructed me that if Srila Gurudeva needs something I should call him to come. One day, Srila Gurudeva just left his room unexpectedly after lunch and asked me, "Where is Madhava Maharaja?" I replied, "He is sleeping. I will call him." But then Srila Gurudeva said, “Don't call him. He needs to rest. You should come with me downstairs.” I knew that I was disobeying Sripad Madhava Maharaja, but somehow I felt it was okay. Srila Gurudeva put his hand on my shoulder and we went downstairs. Srila Gurudeva walked around the temple, and twenty minutes later Sripad Madhava Maharaja came running, upset, saying to Srila Gurudeva, “Why did you come down without me? Why didn't you call me?" And they argued with each other in a very loving way for the delight of devotees around. Srila Gurudeva said, "You were very tired, and needed to rest." Then he caught the shoulder of Sripad Madhava Maharaja and continued walking.
How to manage my daily routine
Once Srila Gurudeva was walking in the park in Mathura, and I was following him to help with any service needed. When he sat down to rest, I offered my pranama and put some flowers at his lotus feet. He looked at me and asked how I was. Then I took the chance to ask him how I should manage my daily sadhana. I told him that besides the bookstall, I had to clean the garbage room every day, wash the pots at night, attend kirtan and Harikatha, chant 64 rounds, and due to all that I was unable to study properly. Then I asked if I should chant less and study more or chant more and study less. To my surprise, he told me that I should manage my time in such a way that I will be able to finish 64 rounds and memorize one sloka per day at least. Then he began to explain how much I should sleep, do seva and organize my time in a better way. He said, “There is enough time to do all these things.” After organizing my time in the way Srila Gurudeva told me, I realized how it was possible.
Sickness pastimes in Delhi
I was in the Bangalore Matha when we received the news about Srila Gurudeva’s sickness pastimes at the hospital in Delhi in September 2010, and that we all should go there as soon as possible because there was a rumor that he could enter in samadhi at any time. When I arrived there, it was about one week before Vraja-mandala parikrama. I was trying to get an opportunity to serve Srila Gurudeva in his room as before, but nobody was allowed inside. There was a small group of devotees who were serving him for two months already and had been trained by the doctors. They knew exactly what to do and every one was under a very heavy pressure. But I still did not lose hope to serve and begin to pray to Srila Gurudeva from my heart, “Gurudeva, please let me serve you again. I don’t want to go to parikrama, I have no taste for it. I want to be here with you and serve you."
In the meantime I used to join the kirtan in front of his room, and talk to those who was serving him inside to get more news about his condition. From Sanjay Prabhu I was told how Srila Gurudeva used to chant his gayatri and stava-stutis for a long time. From Madhuvrata Prabhu I was told how Srila Gurudeva used to respond to the different kirtans that were being sung outside, by moving his lotus feet with the rhythm of the mrdanga. From Sripad Madhava Maharaja I was told how different devotees used to visit Srila Gurudeva, including some GBC members, who came to apologize for their offenses. From Kishori Mohan Prabhu and Sudevi Didi I was told what and how much Srila Gurudeva was eating. Like this, many devotees gave me different information.
How I got to serve during sickness pastimes
The day before parikrama would start, Sripad Madhava Maharaja instructed everyone to go to Vrndavana. Only Gurudeva's sevakas could stay in Delhi. Then I thought, “What should I do? What to do? I don't want to go to Vrndavana! I have no desire to do parikrama." Then I began to think what to do. A few weeks before, in Bangalore, I cut my finger while opening a coconut. The wound was so deep that my finger got paralyzed, but I didn’t have time to heal it and it was still not moving properly. One of Srila Gurudeva’s doctor was from Bangalore; I showed my finger to her, and she said that she could use an electric-pulse machine for the treatment but it would take some days to fix. Then I had an idea. I went to Sripad Madhava Maharaja and told him about my problem and if I could not fix it at that time, I would be unable to work hard during Bengal pracara, which happens just after the parikrama, and if he gives permission, I could stay in Delhi doing the treatment for some time. Maharaja replied, “Okay, but don't keep anyone with you, do it in your room, and don't go here and there.” Three days later, Madhuvrata Prabhu became ill, and Sripad Madhava Maharaja came up to me and said, "Gokul (my brahmacari name was Gokul Chandra das), we need you to serve Srila Gurudeva."
Later, I told Sanjay Prabhu about my plan, and his reply was, “It was not your plan. When a maha-purusa wants to take service from you, nobody can check it. He will make all the arrangements for you to come to him.”
Night shifts in Delhi
I started doing night shifts with Sanjay Prabhu and then later with Madhava Priya Prabhu. The situation was very difficult. By seeing Srila Gurudeva in that condition my mind became very restless, but one way or another, it was necessary to get together and engage in the services. At night, Srila Gurudeva used to be in his inner consciousness. Sometimes he would move a little bit and ask to stop the fan. Often he used to spit a lot of mucus and we had to constantly clean his mouth with a tissue paper. One by one he was manifesting all the ecstatic symptoms. Although his body was very weak, when he used to look at us, we could see how his eyes were looking powerful, and he was aware of everything. You can see when people are very sick because there is no life in their eyes - their eyes become like a piece of glass, lifeless - but Srila Gurudeva’s eyes were sparkling and fearsome as usual.
Singing for Srila Gurudeva
When I was doing the shifts with Sripad Madhava Priya Prabhuji, he used to ask me to sing different kirtans that were very dear to Srila Gurudeva, like Palya Dasi Kori, Cintamani Moy, Gopi-gita, etc. We used to sing very softly beside Srila Gurudeva’s bed.
Sickness pastimes in Govardhana
After some days, Srila Gurudeva ordered them to take him to Govardhana. There I also continued serving in his room, but things were becoming more dramatic as the disappearance day of Pujyapada Srila Vamana Gosvami Maharaja and Pujyapada Srila Trivikrama Gosvami was approaching. Outside of the bhajan- kutira, some devotees were engaged in 24 hours kirtan, while others were doing Govardhan parikrama or just praying in the temple room for Srila Gurudeva to stay longer with us. Once Srila Gurudeva was having a lot of hiccups for hours, and nothing could stop it. Then I told Sripad Madhava Maharaja that I knew how to stop it by massaging a point on his finger and by keeping a warm bag on his navel. Immediately it stopped.
Stopping the sickness pastimes
To everyone’s surprise, Srila Gurudeva came out of his room on the last day of Kartika, gave a speech and pacified everyone by saying he would meet us again in Navadvipa Dhama. Later Srila Gurudeva decided to spend the winter in Jagannatha Puri, but Sripad Madhava Maharaja told me that I should go to Bengal pracara because I had become the leader of the team and there was so much service to do there. That is why I didn’t continue serving in Puri.
Dreaming of His departure
One month later, I was in Shyam Nagar, Kolkata, doing a Bhagavat-saptaha with Sripad Sridhara Maharaja when Srila Gurudeva entered samadhi. At that very night, I had a dream in which Srila Gurudeva was walking in my direction having many devotees beside him. He was looking very effulgent and beautiful. Immediately I thought he was cured but when I looked around, all the devotees were crying. Then I asked everyone, “Why are you crying? Srila Gurudeva is healthy again!” But when I looked back to him, he was not there. He had disappeared. Then I understood why everyone was crying. He had left this world. At that very moment, a brahmacari woke me up saying that Srila Gurudeva entered samadhi. Somehow, I answered to him that I already knew it, and he became surprised. The next moment, I realised that it was not a dream anymore and that it was true. I sat on the bed and began to cry, embracing that brahmacari. Quickly we got ready and went to Navadvipa to help with arrangements for the samadhi, while Srila Gurudeva was coming by car from Puri.
Caring for him for samadhi
After helping devotees to dig the samadhi-sthal (hole in the earth) for the samadhi, I put saffron colour in the new clothes Srila Gurudeva would wear during the ceremony. When he arrived in the Navadvipa Matha, we kept him on the stage in the temple hall, and for the whole night I sat beside him, and sometimes I massaged his lotus feet. In the morning, taking him on parikrama around Navadvipa, we gave him pancamrta-abhiseka. After bathing, Visnu Maharaja (Jiva Priya Prabhu) and I took Srila Gurudeva to the veranda of the bhajan-kutira building and helped others to dress him and put on tilaka. Again Visnu Maharaja and I carried Srila Gurudeva together and put his body inside the samadhi-sthal, where senior devotees were waiting to perform the samadhi rituals. After everything finished, we covered his body with salt and sand and put a Tulasi tree on top. Two months later, after the Navadvipa Dhama parikrama, I became the pujari of his samadhi for almost two years.
The godbrothers' relationship
Srila Gurudeva would always encourage his disciples to carry on with their sadhana and seva, having a loving and respectful behaviour among themselves. But among the siblings, the point of view is different. The nature of brotherly love is different. Brothers will check each other’s faults in an equal way, and often with no mercy. Mother forgives quickly, but brothers cannot tolerate too much. Therefore, we must learn how to look at our godbrothers through the eyes of Srila Gurudeva. We should try to love everyone as he did, try to appreciate the good qualities of each other, and sincere desire for Guru-seva. Everyone has good qualities, but because we ourselves are full of bad qualities, we tend to look at others' bad qualities as well. We see defects in others because we have them inside ourselves. The kanistha-adhikari thinks that everyone else is a kanistha, and assumes himself as a pure devotee. But the pure devotees only see everyone’s bhakti. Srila Gurudeva said, "At least in this life try to reach the level of madhyama-adhikari."
As for me, I certainly understand how far I am from it. Therefore, I am totally depending on the mercy of my spiritual brothers, in whom I am taking shelter after the disappearance of Srila Gurudeva.
Having said that, I offer my humble obeisance to the lotus feet of Srila Gurudeva, hoping that he will find me life after life, so that I will have the chance to serve him more and more, and always much better than before. I know I am not worthy of being his disciple, but at least I want to try. And as Srila Gurudeva used to say, “To try is bhakti.” I still have hope.
Your aspiring servant,
Tridandi Swami Bhaktivedānta Mahāvīra (Brazil)
(Name given by Srila Gurudeva: Gokul Chandra Das Brahmacari)