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Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami Maharaja
His Appearance, Childhood, and Youth
Even before Sarasvati Thakura’s appearance in this world, his great-grandfather, while on his death-bed, spoke about a great sadhu, famous in the whole world, who would take birth in Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s house...
Indeed, Bhaktivinoda Thakura himself predicted in the Chaitanya Siksamrta that a powerful acarya would appear in this world to establish daivi-varnasrama-dharma. Bhaktivinoda Thakura wanted this daivi-varnasrama system re-established to supplant it’s decayed descendent — the caste system: which is based on one’s birth rather than qualification.
The astrologer, called at the time of Sarasvati Thakura’s birth, also proclaimed how the child would become a great devotee. And so it was then that, on February 6th, 1874 AD, Sarasvati Thakura appeared in this world in the karkata-lagna, or the astrological lagna of the Cancer.
One time, when he was only five or six years old, he accompanied his father, Bhaktivinoda Thakura, on a visit to one sadhu by the name of Svarupa Dasa Babaji, in Puri. When they met, this babaji told Bhaktivinoda, “You have no neckbeads and no tilaka. You are not a Vaishnava. You don’t even have any Vaishnava dress.” Bimala Prasada (as the young Sarasvati Thakura was then called) replied, “My father is an ajanma Vaishnava, janma-gata Vaishnava — He is a born Vaishnava, even without the outward signs.” Upon hearing this, that babaji was so impressed with this young boy, who at such a tender age had explained such a highly philosophical point.
On another occasion, they went to Dakhineshvar Math, to visit the renowned, so-called “holy-man” of Bengal, Ramakrishna, who, upon seeing them remarked: “The two are just like Gaura Nitai.”
He spent around fifteen days at Radha-Ramana Temple, Vrndavana, from between 1898 — 1899, and in 1905 also. Madhusudana Goswami, the father of Visvambhara Goswami, kept a diary, and every day would write a page about the activities that took place there. So there are many things written of Bimala Prasada. I saw Padmanabha Goswami, the grandson of Madhusudana Goswami, who looked for more than an hour for the exact references relating to Bimala Prasad, but he couldn’t find any. So if anyone wants to research this in the near future he can also do so. It is very interesting to give such references for some of the activities of Sarasvati Thakura’s early life.
At the time of Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Bimala Prasada would go and preach in brahmacari dress, wearing a white dhoti with a white kurta and chadar. Meeting with college students, Englishmen, and other high-class, educated gentlemen, in the parks of Calcutta, he would converse with them informally. However, he would especially criticize the Brahma-samaja (an imitation of Christianity), which was very prominent at that time, and followed by many eminent people, like the Tagores and others. They would sing, “nirakar tomar carana dekhi — I see Your feet,” referring to God, whom they saw as impersonal; but Bimala Prasada was quick to point out that “If there is no akara, if there is no form, how can one see `It’s’ feet?”
At birth, the umbilical-chord had wrapped itself around his body
like a brahmana-thread, leaving a mark which remained clearly visible
throughout his life. Even as a young boy, due to the size if his large brain,
Bimala Prasada had a large head, in proportion to his body.
His body was decorated with all the signs of a maha-purusa, as
described in the sastras. For example; the Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila
panca-dirghah panca-suksmah sapta-raktah sad-unnatah
tri-hrasva-prthu-gambhiro dvatrimsal-laksano mahan
“There are thirty-two bodily symptoms of a great person: five of his bodily parts are large, five fine, seven reddish, six raised, three small, three broad, and three grave.”
Purport: “The five large parts are the nose, arms, chin, eyes, and knees. The five fine parts are the skin, fingertips, teeth, hair on the body, and hair on the head. The seven reddish parts are the eyes, soles, palms, palate, nails, and upper and lower lips. The six raised parts are the chest, shoulders, nails, nose, waist, and mouth. The three small parts are the neck, thighs, and male organ. The three broad parts are the waist, forehead, and chest. The three grave parts are the navel, voice, and existence. Altogether these are the thirty-two symptoms of a great personality. This is a quotation from the Samudrika.”
His feet were soft like butter, so much so that to those who touched them, it almost seemed as if there were no bones. His skin was so delicate that even the slightest touch would redden it. Standing tall, at around 6’ 1” — 6’ 2”, he had a slender build, and a somewhat unusual characteristic about his bodily features was that he appeared to have breasts, almost like that of a woman.
His face was jolly and he was often seen smiling, but at times he was also very grave. His schedule was to rise and chant by two-o’clock each morning, and while reading he would sometimes wear spectacles, but never wore them, in general, while eating, chanting japa, or speaking with disciples.
Sometimes while speaking he would mention the name Radha and, all of a sudden, manifest astasattvika-vikara, or the eight symptoms of ecstasy, described in the Nectar of Devotion, Chapter twenty-eight, as: becoming stunned, perspiring, standing of the hairs on the body, faltering of the voice, trembling of the body, changing of the bodily colors, shedding of tears, and devastation. His whole countenance would turn white, then red, with his hair standing on end, and his whole body would become stiff. Tears would flow profusely from his eyes and his speech would become grave. Bhakti Pradipa Tirtha Goswami Maharaja (Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s disciple), who took sannyasa initiation from Sarasvati Thakura, personally saw, on two occasions, how his whole body became red, and all bodily transformations were also present, when he was lecturing about Radha-tattva, in Vrndavana. When speaking about the instructions of Rupa and Raghunatha. his whole body, especially his face, would sometimes become bright-red. These incidents occurred several times, in different places, especially at Radha Kunda or Mayapura, in full view of everyone, even though he tried his utmost to suppress these feelings. He would continue talking, but those present could see that, internally, he was experiencing turbulent spiritual ecstasies. Sarasvati Thakura never liked the sahajiyas who artificially showed so-called “ecstatic symptoms”, or who proclaimed themselves to be “such-and-such sakhi”. Therefore, he would generally explain just ordinary things that were not on the level of bhava or prema, which brought on these uncontrollable emotions.
At the time of initiation, Gaura Kisora Dasa Babaji didn’t change Sarasvati Thakura’s name. Earlier in his life he had written a book called “Siddhanta Candrika” — a book on astrology. He received the name “Siddhanta-Sarasvati” from a society of astrologers, in recognition of his contribution in the field of astrology; later adding the prefix “Bhakti” himself when he took sannyasa.
He accepted the title “Prabhupada” at his second Vyasa-puja ceremony, when a written offering was sent from Mayapur by his disciple, Ananta Vasudeva, in which the term “Prabhupada” was used. Previously he was generally known as Sarasvati Thakura, but the name “Prabhupada” became gradually accepted. Amongst his favorite songs were those of Bhaktivinoda Thakura: “Gopinatha” (from Kalyana-kalpataru), “Radha-Krishna Bol” (from Gitavali), “Jaya Radha-Madhava” (from Gitavali), “Shri Nama-kirtana” (from Gitavali), and “Radha-kunda-tata kunja kutira...”
Many times he quoted the verse:
ksinoty abhadrani ca sam tanoti
sattvasya suddhim paramatma-bhaktim
jnanam ca vijnana-viraga-yuktam
“Remembrance of Lord Krishna’s lotus feet destroys everything inauspicious and awards the greatest good fortune. It purifies the heart and bestows devotion for the Supreme Soul, along with knowledge enriched with realization and renunciation” (SB 12.12.55). Of course, there were many slokas he often quoted, but this one was particularly mentioned by Jyotisekhara.
His pronunciation of the name Krishna was neither like the Bengali “Krishnoh” (the final “a” pronounced “o”), nor the Oriyan “Krushna” (with the “i” pronounced “u”, but exactly like the Sanskrit “Kreshna.”
As far as cleanliness was concerned, Sarasvati Thakura was exemplary, saying, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness. Unless you’re sattvic you cannot be pure.” His table, chairs and seat — everything had to be kept neat, clean, and tidy. He would bathe no less than three times a day, changing his cloth each time he did so, which was: when he woke in the morning, before his mid-day meal, and again in the evening, without using soap or oil (in India, especially Bengal, it is a common practice to apply oil to the body before bathing). If anything unclean touched his hand, e.g.: his leg or foot, or before using his japa-mala, he would do acamana with an acamana-cup that he always kept near. Before taking maha-prasada he would wash his hands, and if Jagannatha maha-prasada was brought to him he would pay full obeisances, do parikrama of that prasada three times, and only then would he honor it.
The system in the Gaudiya Math was that those who were preaching outside would shave regularly, and those not preaching would follow the minor rules of Hari-Bhakti-Vilasa much more, shaving their heads, not on a daily or weekly basis, but once a month. Sarasvati Thakura, as a preacher, would shave his face regularly, and his head once a month. According to Hari Bhakti Vilasa, Sarasvati Thakura and the other devotees would shave on Mondays and Tuesdays, but not on any special holy day, like the appearance or disappearance of any great Vaishnava or avatar, nor on Ekadashi or purnima (except Mastika-mandana purnima, in the month of Bhadra — the day Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu took sannyasa). According to the rules and regulations, it is obligatory for sannyasis to shave on this day.
Sarasvati Thakura would generally dress very simply, wearing the traditional top and bottom piece of a sannyasi, made of cotton, and in the winter season he would also wear a chadar. However, if it was very cold he would use a special coat. He also had a walking-stick at hand for when he went outside, and five strands of tulasi beads adorned his neck. His clothes were usually bought by devotees, and people often gave him shawls, clothes, cloth, shoes, etc., when coming to see him. Sometimes he would buy clothes himself, and if anyone asked him or he saw that someone had no warm clothes, he would give them his own.
It was only for preaching purposes or special functions that he would dress extravagantly, as was the case at one function in Madras, where there was a picture taken of him wearing a gown, some very nice clothing, with English styled shoes, made in India, and a turban, which he only wore occasionally for some big public function; otherwise, if he was going out in the hot sun, he would have some disciple hold an umbrella over him.
When his two sannyasi disciples went to England he also had gowns, or long coats, made for them, because they were going to preach overseas. However, even though he occasionally dressed in a very gorgeous style for preaching, he wanted his sannyasi disciples in India to dress simply. He didn’t want them to imitate his position as acarya.
He would also use horses and elephants on occasion, so sometimes people would criticize, saying, “What kind of sadhu are you with all these nice clothes, horses and elephants?” but he exclaimed, “All horses and elephants should be used by sadhus only, not by anyone else. All cars are also for sadhus. Luxurious items in the world are required for Krishna’s service and not anyone else’s.”
A Sikh named Mocha Singh was the paid bodyguard of Sarasvati Thakura. He was very tall and strong, and every night would consume twenty-eight to thirty chapatis. There was no real idea of any danger, but he was kept for enhancing the prestige of Sarasvati Thakura.
Sarasvati Thakura would sleep on a bed, but all the Gaudiya Math brahmacaris and sannyasis would sleep on the floor. The rule was not to use shoes, and to only occasionally drink milk. Sometimes Sarasvati Thakura would check to see that the brahmacaris and sannyasis followed this strictly.
His bead-bag, and all the bead-bags belonging to the Gaudiya Math members, were white, even if they were brahmacaris or sannyasis.
Sometimes he would sit very straight on an ordinary wooden chair or armchair, to give a lecture, with his legs not crossed, but placed in front of him, and the devotees would sit on the floor in front of him cross-legged. Otherwise, when he gave lectures in the temple he would sit on a simple flat, wooden seat.
He had a book with him in phonetic type, which was a new kind of writing like short-hand, made by him in his youth, but that whole system is now lost.
Usually in Mayapur, while the sankirtana was going on in the temple, Sarasvati Thakura would stand just outside at the back, behind the tulasi-manca (a pillar, usually about one to one-and-a-half meters high, on which tulasi is permanently kept. This is very common in Bengal and Orissa, but less so in other parts of India) and watch the sankirtana go on. Sometimes the devotees would dance back and forth from the Deities to the tulasi-manca and sometimes they’d go round in a circle. Sarasvati Thakura liked all this. Sometimes they would dance in a circle around the nat-mandira (Gaudiya Math temples, according to typical Bengali design, have a Deity-house, with a covered pavilion in front of it, separated, not joined together. Nat-mandira literally means “temple for dancing”), and Sarasvati Thakura would stand in the middle of the pavilion with the devotees dancing around him, but he himself would not dance, as he was always grave.
Jyotisekhara observed that Sarasvati Thakura himself wasn’t expert in singing kirtana. His voice was not so sweet from the external point of view. Therefore, he didn’t lead so many kirtanas. He never lead kirtana, but would have others do it.
Shrila Gaura Kisora Dasa Babaji
Shortly after the disappearance of Gaura Kisora Dasa Babaji from this world, which occurred in Navadvipa, Sarasvati Thakura went ahead with plans to place him in a samadhi. However, due to pressure from the people of Navadvipa, and from one wealthy man in particular, Sarasvati Thakura had to place him in a samadhi, not in Mayapur, which was his desire, but on that rich man’s land in Navadvipa. That rich man was particularly adamant about this. Sarasvati Thakura was then heard to proclaim, “Within one month this man will be finished!” and it was noted, in time, how this came to be a fact. Within one month all his businesses were finished. That man then came pleading to Sarasvati Thakura, exclaiming, “Please, you help me now. See my position. I made some mistake!” Sarasvati Thakura then replied, “What can I do? It is already done.”
In 1932, when at Godruma Sarasvati Thakura noticed that because of the erosion of the river bank, Gaurakisora dasa Babaji’s samadhi would soon fall into the Ganga. Therefore, the body, which was inside a box in the samadhi, was taken to Mayapur, where a temple and new samadhi were made.
His Nature and Dealings With Devotees
Sarasvati Thakura was always absorbed in the philosophical siddhantas and, not caring for the world, he never compromised in his practice of staunch Vaisnavism. He said himself that if this had not been so then no one would have obeyed him. Whatever he asked of others he would follow himself, showing the ideal of an acarya; rising very early each morning, before anyone else, and being always absorbed in chanting and preaching Krishna consciousness. Others might have taken rest during the day, but he would hardly ever do so. After his meal, which was always very simple, he would go and dictate letters. He always wore tilaka, chanted on his beads, observed the gayatri mantra, attended arati, etc., very strictly and on a regular basis. While performing the Deity parikrama each day, he would circumambulate Their Lordships once and then stand in one place, while all the other devotees would walk around four times.
A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, several times, told a story to demonstrate how strict Sarasvati Thakura actually was in dealing with women. The wife of O.B.L.Kapoor, who was also a harinama disciple of Sarasvati Thakura, requested to see him in private to speak with him. At that time he was old enough to be her grandfather, and was a very senior, respected, naisthika brahmacari-guru, but still he said, “No, I cannot see you alone. Whatever you have to say, do so in the company of others.”
Dr. Kapoor revealed how Sarasvati Thakura gave harinama to his wife, without even seeing her face, because there was a screen placed between them.
The Zamindar, a very rich man of Navadvipa, was named [...] His mother was over 60 years old and he brought her to meet Sarasvati Thakura, but he said, “Mother, you stay downstairs. Don’t come up. I don’t want to meet any women. Send your son to meet me.” Even women accompanied by their husbands couldn’t come to meet him. During lectures, a fixed screen divided the men and women, so they couldn’t see each other. This was very strict.
As Shrila Prabhupada later wrote in a letter [7/4/70], “He didn’t like very much preaching amongst women.”
Although living in opulence, he was a complete tyagi — a yukta vairagi. He was very merciful, friendly, and affectionate, especially to younger boys. He saw to the comfort of all the devotees and would often ask them; “Have you taken prasadam? How did you like it?” Sometimes he would even come down at around ten to eleven o’clock in the evening, to see that the brahmacaris were sleeping and to check that they were using mosquito-nets. If they were not he would personally put them up, so as they could sleep properly and not get sick. He didn’t want their service hampered unnecessarily in any way.
He didn’t encourage the brahmacaris to have too much milk; only a little sometimes, but not daily. The reason was because it would agitate them, as it is a rich food. Also, the brahmacaris were not supposed to wear shoes. Sarasvati Thakura, when going for preaching to respectable men, would wear a coat, shoes, etc., and would be very nicely dressed. Otherwise he would dress very simply when he was staying inside the Math.
People could not bear to look at him eye-to-eye; so powerful and penetrating was his glance. Even great scholars of India became humbled just by his looking at them. Madana Mohan Malviya and Raja Gopala Sastri — famous Indian scholars of the time — became submissive to him, just being in his presence. This is called sabdyasa. Just as there were so many scholars who met Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu but could not stand up to Him, so, in the same way, no one could stand before Sarasvati Thakura.
People would often bring mangoes for Sarasvati Thakura, because he was a sadhu, and they knew they should always bring something for a sadhu. So, in the season, many would bring them, but he would not touch them himself and distributed them to all the others. He would not take himself, saying, “I am an offender. I cannot take this.”
Whenever young men joined the Math, leaving their homes, their parents would sometimes come looking for them in order to take them back. Sarasvati Thakura would hide them under his bed and tell the parents that he did not know the whereabouts of their sons. All the other devotees would also reply in this way and the parents would then leave. Then Sarasvati Thakura would tell the boy, “Maya is trying to pull you to hell. That is maya crying, not your father and mother!”
This happened many times, so much so that between 1918-19 the police were called on several occasions to the Math. However, he would still hide them in order to keep them as brahmacaris. He said, “If we had not taken such action there would be no such thing as the Gaudiya Math.”
If anyone left the Math to return to material life, Sarasvati Thakura would become very upset, even to the point that he would sometimes send others to try and bring them back. On one such occasion, a brahmacari left, after having an argument with a sannyasi. Sarasvati Thakura came to know of this and told the devotees, “Bring him back, bring him back!” Even if that person was at fault he didn’t like it when they left. If someone was doing very badly and was very offensive, they had a policy whereby they would send them to Mamgachi temple, within Navadvipa Mandala, which was the birth-place of Vrndavana dasa Thakura. One explanation for sending them to Mamgachi might have been because it was a remote place in a village, and therefore they couldn’t disturb anyone there, and could gradually become rectified. Another point is that they may have gotten the mercy of Vrndavana dasa Thakura, the author of the Chaitanya-Bhagavata, whilst residing there. Mamgachi Math thus became jokingly known as “the jail of the Gaudiya Math”. Even now that system is still used in the Gaudiya Math. In Mamgachi there are plenty of cows and a big garden, so, whoever went there would work with the cows and in the garden, performing hard, physical, labor.
Jyotisekhara Prabhu recalls how Sarasvati Thakura was very affectionate towards him, who loved him very much because he was young and submissive. Sometimes, as in one incident at Chuttak Parvat, Sarasvati Thakura would call him over and then give him some rasagullas.
Whenever anyone came before Sarasvati Thakura, even before they had time to offer their namaskaras, he would say, “Daso’smi — I am a servant.” People often tried to touch his feet, but he would stretch out his long arms and say, “Daso ’smi,” and prevent them, including his initiated disciples. Even though thousands of people came to see him, none were allowed to touch his feet, even if it happened to be only a young boy (ordinarily, in Bengal, especially at that time, for young boys to touch the feet of seniors when coming in their presence was common).
He was always ready and willing to talk with people, except during his half-hour afternoon rest, whether on a train or in a room, and whenever someone went to see him he would definitely say something, but this was not the case with ladies.
Whenever he received a letter from anyone saying that they were arriving to meet him at a certain date and time, whether it was a devotee, a well-wisher or whoever, he would always send one or two brahmacaris to meet them at the station. Even if that person knew the way, or never even asked for help, Sarasvati Thakura would still send someone, out of kindness.
In general, he never spoke harsh words, and when someone did something wrong he would say, sorrowfully, “seita karar bhalo na — This is not good. You should not do this.”
As an acarya, he would sometimes mildly chastise or correct his disciples, but if he saw his disciples wanting to correct others he never approved. If someone would complain to him about a particular person, he wouldn’t get involved, but would rather say, “Oh, he is very unfortunate because he has done a bad thing and you are also unfortunate because you have gotten involved in it. Both of you are unfortunate.”
Whenever disputes broke out between grhasthas or Math members, he sent them to Ananta Vasudeva, never letting himself get involved. Ananta Vasudeva gave the final decision and Sarasvati Thakura accepted that. On one such occasion the sannyasis quarreled with the grhasthas, claiming they were better as they were more renounced. However, the grhasthas claimed they were better as they were donating money and supporting everything. Ananta Vasudeva quoted from the Chaitanya-charitamrita, Antya-lila: 4.67, which says; “yei bhaje sei bada — Anyone who takes to devotional service is exalted...,” and from Madhya-lila: 22.26, “cari varnasrami yadi krishna nahi bhaje... — The followers of the varnasrama institution accept the regulative principles of the four social orders... However, if one carries out the regulative principles of these orders but does not render transcendental service to Krishna, he falls into the hellish condition of material life.” He also quoted Shrimad Bhagavatam, 11.5.3: ya esam purusam saksad... — If one simply maintains an official position in the four varnas and asramas but does not worship the Supreme Lord Vishnu, he falls down from his puffed-up position into a hellish condition.” Sarasvati Thakura accepted this judgment.
Early each morning, at four-thirty, a bell was rung in the Math to wake everyone up, and Sarasvati Thakura himself would come down to the Nat Mandira and wake those devotees who were still sleeping, telling them, “Don’t sleep after the bell has been sounded. Get up.”
Once Kunjada was chastised by Sarasvati Thakura because he never got the devotees up when the bell was rung, and he himself may have been sleeping also.
A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, January 15, 1977, Conversation: “Our guru maharaja was so strict. A little discrepancy he would chastise like anything; but we liked it very much.”
Generally, Sarasvati Thakura was mild in his nature, and only once did he ever slap a devotee. This devotee had come to Puri to bathe in the sea, and when he came back Sarasvati Thakura gave him a slap in the face and said, “Why are you wasting your time?”
On another occasion, while explaining Harinamamrta-Vyakarana, Kirtana brahmacari fell asleep in the class, so he took a rod and beat him with it.
Once, in Mayapur, a brahmacari was sleeping during Sarasvati Thakura’s class, so he ordered him thrown in the Radha kunda, saying, “I have invited my spiritual master here, but if he sees you sleeping he will go away.”
From 1932 onwards, many kinds of people joined the mission, with the majority of them being attracted by the opulence. To develop a big organization many types of people are required to clean, to work in the garden, etc.; so all different people were accepted and not so many of them were very serious about spiritual life. Before Sarasvati Thakura left this world, some sannyasis started to think that after their guru-maharaja leaves the planet they would have their own temples and disciples, and become big gurus. Sarasvati Thakura made no endeavor to discipline them because his idea was that example is better than precept: As an acarya he set an ideal example and he thought that if someone was not serious he should not interfere with them, but if someone was serious then they would automatically follow.
Sometimes he would ask Sajjana Maharaja, who distributed his remnants, “Who took the nice sweet and who took the chewed-up drum-stick (a type of vegetable that is chewed, then spat out)?” In this way he could understand the minds of the devotees. However, only those who had taken harinama were allowed to take his remnants.
Being an expert astrologer, he would sometimes look at devotees’ hands. One time he looked at Jyotisekhara’s and noticed that on the lower left hand corner of his right hand was a chakra. He remarked on this and said, “This is a sign that you will be expert in writing and speaking to destroy all wrong, non-devotional ideas.” Sarasvati Thakura would only occasionally look at a devotee’s palm in this way and give a comment. He wasn’t in the habit of doing this regularly and never did so at all with non-devotees. It wasn’t that his disciples would ask him to look at their hands, but sometimes he told them to show them to him. One time he looked at a brahmacari’s hands and said, “You must get married! You will not be able to stay a brahmacari.”
One pujari at the Chaitanya Math in Mayapur was caught stealing the golden ornaments from the Deity, but Sarasvati Thakura did not chastise him. He had those ornaments taken from him and instructed him to change his robes. “You should not remain dressed as a sadhu,” he told him. Then he told his disciples to feed him nicely and tell him to go home, which they did.
A brahmacari took some books from the Gaudiya Math bookstore, for his own personal reading, without informing the man who was in charge. When Sarasvati Thakura found out he took this unauthorized action seriously and gave instructions that brahmacaris should not keep books, saying, “By studying so many books you may become a pandita but you may not become a devotee. Hearing is essential. If you hear from sadhus that is sufficient.”
There is a story of Sarasvati Thakura in Puri. He was at Lila-kuti, a big building near the seashore. He had come there with some devotees and they had given all kinds of provisions for cooking ... However, one of the devotees saw one of the brahmins who was engaged as a cook, steal one of the tins of oil, so Sarasvati Thakura cackled that brahmin and spoke to him and said, “You are a brahman engaged in the service of God. It is not good to steal the oil that we have given for the service of God. As a brahmana I can give you a tin of oil if you require it but please don’t take that which we have offered in the service of God.... The oil we would use was mustard oil. Sarasvati Thakura paid some money to the man and the oil tin was returned, saving him from a great offense, being so merciful.
In Chuttak, when the Math was in a rented house, one brahmacari named Jagannatha would stay in a small thatched cottage in the middle of the garden, each night, in order to protect it from thieves and monkeys and all sorts of things. Whether summer-time or winter he would sleep there, leaving his body uncovered. In the winter the other brahmacaris would live indoors, wearing warm clothes, but Jagannatha remained outside and subsequently became a little proud saying, “Oh, I’m such a brahmacari. I never use these things and can sleep outside even in the winter, without cover.” Sarasvati Thakura then told him, “You stay inside the house now and use warm clothes. You are boasting how great a brahmacari you are, so another brahmacari can stay there in winter in your place. They can also do it; you’ll see.” Jagannatha brahmacari said in response to this, “No, I’m the only one who can do it.” Sarasvati Thakura continued, “Your place is suitable for you. You don’t like to stay in the house, that is your disease. It is their disease that they do not like to stay in the garden, but they are not boasting because of that.” Consequently, Jagannatha brahmacari came inside and another brahmacari went outside in his place.
One day the Queen of Auli [pronounced Ali], the wife of a wealthy king, came to visit the Gaudiya Math at Chuttak. At that time, Bhakti Viveka Bharati Maharaja, a sannyasa disciple of Sarasvati Thakura, gave the young Jyotisekhara a very nice, ripe mango, saying, “Give this to the queen to eat.” The queen was sitting down, along with some of her friends and followers, eating prasada, so Jyotisekhara felt a little apprehensive about presenting it to her, seeing as this would show preference to her over the others, and it was not the custom to neglect others when serving prasadam — everyone shared equally whatever was there. Jyotisekhara pointed this out to that sannyasi, but he rebuked him severely, using bad language. While all this was taking place, Sarasvati Thakura happened to be near by and heard the commotion. He therefore called Bhakti Viveka Bharati Maharaja and asked him, “Are you a sannyasi of Auli or of the Gaudiya Math?” From that day on he called him the Auli-rani sannyasi, and Jyotisekhara never heard Sarasvati Thakura call him by his real name, Bhakti Viveka Bharati Maharaja, ever again.
For three months continually, in 1935, Sarasvati Thakura stayed at Purusottama Math and many people came to see him. One yogi even came, and after hearing him talk, wanted to take initiation. That yogi had long, matted hair, so Sarasvati Thakura asked him to cut it, along with his beard. The yogi asked why and was told how it was pleasing to Krishna, so he accepted this and cut his matted locks, but he came before Sarasvati Thakura with his beard still intact. He therefore asked him again to shave his face, but he said he had some bad scar on his chin which looked grotesque, and would thus rather keep his beard. Sarasvati Thakura consented to this and gave him initiation. That yogi donated some rice-farming land to the Purusottama Math, which is still used to grow rice for the temple.
The vice-chancellor of retore Benares Hindu University, a very famous man of his time, named Madana Mohan Malviya came to the Gaudiya Math and had some intricate, philosophical questions to present to Sarasvati Thakura. Sarasvati Thakura said, “I won’t answer you, but you should ask the devotees who are washing the arati paraphernalia.” The scholar then said, “No. I am asking very difficult questions on Vedanta: They won’t be able to answer!” However, Sarasvati Thakura insisted that he go and ask those pujaris, who were cleaning the Deity paraphernalia at that particular time; so, being submissive to the will of Sarasvati Thakura, he went to ask them. When he approached them, they said, “Well now we’re busy washing these plates, but please help us, and when we’ve finished then your question will be solved.” Even though he was such a famous, respectable man, he agreed to join in and help do this humble service. After all the brass was cleaned, he returned to Sarasvati Thakura without saying anything more to the pujaris. Sarasvati Thakura then asked him, “Did you get the answer to your questions?” Madana Mohan Malviya replied, “Yes, even without discussion. When I was helping clean the arati paraphernalia the answers automatically came in my mind.” Sarasvati Thakura then replied, “Yes. The philosophy of Krishna consciousness can be understood by a service attitude, not by any amount of intellectualism. `sevonmukhe hi jihvadau...’ Just by reading books and reciting slokas — that won’t help you. Serving God will give us all the answers to the questions in the sastras. My guru, Gaura Kisora Dasa Babaji, was not literate, not a pandita, but all the slokas and siddhantas came to his mouth, because he was sevonmukha — inclined to serve Krishna.”
A school headmaster named Brahma once came to Sarasvati Thakura desiring initiation. He had a beard and mustache so he was told to first shave his face, after which he would be given initiation. However, that man said he couldn’t as he was too attached. Sarasvati Thakura then said, “Either you love your mustache or you love Krishna. If you want Krishna then give up your hair. One of them should be dear to you. Krishna is our dear one, our priya. If something else is priya it is impossible to get Krishna!” That headmaster then went away without taking initiation.
Whenever staying in any rich man’s house, which he would sometimes do, as in the case of the palace he stayed in, belonging to the Maharaja of Mysore, he would, when leaving, give some money to the sweepers, cleaners, servants, and those who’d been attending on them, showing his concern for them.
One time he went to a village in the Mednapur district and stayed in a rich landlord’s house. The landlord served very opulent foodstuffs but Sarasvati Thakura did not eat it, saying, “First you have to practice my advice. If I can’t do anything good for you then why should I accept anything from you? It is not my duty. I will take your prasada but you will not take my advice — this is not good.” Therefore he fasted for a day until that landlord consented to take initiation. If any householder was not his initiated disciple, Sarasvati Thakura would not eat his food.
Although he would visit many houses, especially of prominent people, and speak to them of Krishna consciousness, he never ate their food, because they were not devotees. If he was in a town where there was no Math near by, one of his disciples would prepare something. He also had a policy of never accepting money after speaking Krishna-katha, but would say, “You can come to our temple and give it there instead.”
Once, a very prominent, rich man came to the Gaudiya Math, and while taking prasadam asked again and again for rasagullas. Sarasvati Thakura asked him, “Are you eating prasadam or is the prasadam eating you? You should not eat prasada, as prasada is the bhokta [enjoyer]. You are the bhogya [enjoyed]. Don’t try to eat prasada; it is not a material thing.” This is similar to the advice he often gave, saying, “Don’t try to see Jagannatha. Jagannatha is the Seer so let Him see you.”
Those who came to him who were not willing to listen submissively were not spoken to extensively by him. Once, at Chuttak Parvat, one pandita came, and during a discussion he told Sarasvati Thakura, “Please give me the reference from Veda. I’m not interested in listening to the Puranas and Chaitanya-charitamrita, or anything like this.” At that time Ananta Vasudeva Vidyabhusana was present, so he took up the argument saying, “Why should we not discuss the Puranas and Chaitanya-charitamrita, etc.? This is the essence of the Vedas. The Vedas emanate from the breathing of Narayana, but the Puranas are spoken by the Lord; especially the Bhagavad-gita, which is directly spoken by the Lord.”
Thus Sarasvati Thakura would not waste his valuable time with such foolish people, but others like Ananta Vasudeva would deal with them.
There were many beggars at the Saksi Gopala temple once, when the Gaudiya Math grhasthas were passing. However, they didn’t give any donations, thinking, “We shall give to God. Why give to the poor? The karmis, they’re giving to the poor.” Sarasvati Thakura became very sorry upon hearing this and said, “Inside the body of the poor there is the Supersoul. Lord Chaitanya fed the poor. Don’t dislike that. It is not bhakti to hate the beggars. You are not giving to the poor but to the Supersoul!”
He himself used to give alms and never saw anyone as rich or poor, but as a temple of God. He said they should be served, and would personally give them prasadam. However, he did not do this regularly to the same people, because it would encourage them to just come to the temple for eating only. If anyone unknown came at the time of prasadam he would say, “They are antaryami-prerita (sent by the Supersoul),” and would have them fed.
Sometimes he would send to Radha Kanta Math (the place where Lord Chaitanya used to live) and Tota Gopinatha temple (the temple where Gadadhara Pandita used to worship) a plate of uncooked rice and vegetables, along with a donation of around ten rupees, as an offering to the Deities. On Ekadashi days and special festival days he would send rice, dahl, gee, flour, fruits, vegetables, etc., in a basket or on a plate. The Gaudiya Math, at that time, had no shortage of funds.
When the Gaudiya Math was in a rented house in Chuttak, and before they had moved to the present site, a Muslim thief came and stole some coconuts from the Math. He was arrested, and Sarasvati Thakura himself went to the court hearing and said, “He should be punished fittingly. He has stolen from God.”
Many times people would come and steal from the Math’s garden, taking fruit, flowers, vegetables, etc. Sarasvati Thakura did not like this but never got personally involved. On one occasion a brahmana boy, who was of a brahmana family, was caught stealing, and when Sarasvati Thakura heard of this he became very sorry, saying, “Oh that boy is a brahmana. You should excuse him.” At other times he would also say, “You should give something to them; some fruit or coconut, or something like that.”
Many caste brahmanas, especially in Orissa, even the Puri-Pandas (temple priests) regularly ate fish, smoked bidis, and had many such disgusting habits, but Sarasvati Thakura still gave respect to their caste, maybe on the basis that at least their forefathers had been worshipping Vishnu. He also cited the example from the Chaitanya Bhagavata of how Pundarika Vidyanidhi was beaten by Lord Jagannatha and Lord Baladeva for disrespecting the temple pandas. In sastra, in the Varaha Purana, and the Chaitanya Bhagavata, it is stated that many demons will take birth in brahmana families in Kali-yuga, but even so, Sarasvati Thakura’s strong tendency was to give respect even to mischievous descendants of brahmana families. Indeed, it is also found in the biographies of those in Chaitanya-lila that in the society of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, when all the devotees took prasadam together, which was revolutionary at the time (that brahmanas could sit with people of the lower castes to eat), still the caste brahmanas would be seated in honored positions. These were all considerations that Sarasvati Thakura took into account. In the Chaitanya-charitamrita, Antya-lila: 6.64-66, in the story of the Panihati Cida-dadhi festival, it is described how Lord Nityananda especially honored the brahmanas, seating them on a raised platform, with the others seated below.
It should be noted, however, that he did not accept these caste brahmanas as real Vaishnavas just because of their birth in brahmana families. He only respected their high birth. The analogy he gave was that the father may be a doctor but that doesn’t mean the son is. “One’s title may be Goswami but not all birds are Garuda, and not all fishes are Matsya avatara,” he would say. Unless they were initiated by him they weren’t allowed to worship the Deities in the Gaudiya Math.
He also had good relationships with the Muslims of Mayapur and the surrounding villages, especially those who were descendants of the Chand Kazi, as they were inclined somewhat to Krishna consciousness and Sarasvati Thakura respected them as being descendants of the Kazi. The big Muslim landholders of the area would often visit him.
Sarasvati Thakura recognized only a small number of devotees in India, outside of the Gaudiya Math, whom he saw as genuine and sincere. These included Siddha Mahatma Vasudeva Baba in Puri, of the Shri Sampradaya, whom he very much respected; Svarupa Dasa Babaji; Ramakrishna Babaji, of Radha Kunda, who was in the parampara coming from Bhugarbha Goswami; he was very renounced and a serious, advanced devotee; Madhusudana Goswami of Radha Ramana Temple; and from Gopivallabhapur, a famous Vaishnava center in the Mednapur district of Bengal, there was Visvambhara Ananda Goswami.
He didn’t like to expose any mission like the Rama Krishna Mission, or any famous man of the world by name. He taught that one should see what their teachings are and condemn that, giving the example: “Don’t say directly `cow,’ but rather, `an animal with four legs, a long tail, two horns, etc.’ Don’t start a quarrel.”
Once, in Vrndavana, Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s so-called “guru,” Vipina Bihari Goswami, said that Raghunatha Dasa Goswami was a sudra by caste. From that day on, Sarasvati Thakura never spoke with him, considering that he had committed a great offense, as Raghunatha Dasa Goswami is considered great even amongst the maha-bhagavatas. Sarasvati Thakura started fasting in protest, so Kunja Babu tried to pacify him, but never said anything against Vipina Bihari Goswami. Sarasvati Thakura then exclaimed, “You may compromise but I cannot! I cannot tolerate that Raghunatha Dasa Goswami be called a sudra.” He continued, “I am coming here in a big car, taking the position of an acarya taking all honor and respect. So, taking the position, with all the paraphernalia for worship of an acarya means I cannot make any compromise!”
Sarasvati Thakura once had a large boil on his back-side, but refused any treatment, except for a neem poltice.
Krishna Kanti Brahmacari* was trained as a doctor, and was thus also called “Doctor Babu.” He would come each night and treat the boil, advising him to stop traveling and lecturing. Eventually he brought one big doctor from Calcutta, who’s advice Sarasvati Thakura took, as well as the medicine he offered. However, when he had gone, he threw that medication in the Radha kunda at Mayapur, proclaiming, “My only medicine shall be harinama and Krishna seva. I have to act as an acarya!”
The garden that the Chaitanya Math acquired was opposite the Math itself, on the other side of the road, between the bank of the Ganga and the road. They would grow different kinds of vegetables there, such as eggplants and squash. Mangala Nilaya brahmacari was in charge of the garden, but Sarasvati Thakura noted that nobody was really enthusiastic about working there, so he requested the devotees, especially the brahmacaris, to go and work there. When there was no response to his request he personally went there with a spade. Upon seeing this, all the brahmacaris and sannyasis came, feeling very ashamed, and heard him declare, “I shall work in the field. Why not? It’s all Krishna’s service.” After digging in the garden for some time, he put some vegetables on his head, in a basket, and brought them in for the Deities. After this instructive behavior of Sarasvati Thakura there were always regular workers in the garden.
Within the premises of the Chaitanya Math there was (and still is today) also an isodhyana, a flower garden, “God’s garden”.
Once, it came to Sarasvati Thakura’s notice that two sannyasis — Bhakta Gavasti Nemi Maharaja and Bhaktiviveka Bharati Maharaja — had said; “We are collecting the money. Unless we help guru- maharaja he cannot preach. He is depending on us.” Sarasvati Thakura told all the devotees during the next morning lecture: “You all stay inside the Math for the next fifteen days and chant Hare Krishna, without going outside to collect anything. I will maintain you all by the mercy of Krishna, and Vishnupriya, as well as Laksmidevi, will bring so many things. Without your help, without your going outside, so many things will come to the Math.” So for one day he went out personally on madhukari bhiksa*, forbidding all others to venture out. That day, so many things were brought, unrequested, to the Math: gee, grains, vegetables, etc. Sarasvati Thakura had only gone out for one day, but for fifteen days, while everyone sat in the Math, so many things came. The devotees felt ashamed, but had learned an invaluable lesson.
Sarasvati Thakura was always speaking about Krishna, and was always absorbed in topics concerning Him; trying to make others understand Him also. He always stressed full surrender to Krishna. All day and night, wherever he was, he would be always absorbed in Hari-katha.
He was never interested in such activities as bathing in the ocean at Puri or in holy rivers, which he considered to be a diversion from his life’s engagement of absorption in bhajana, hearing, chanting, preaching, and writing.
He did not like an outward show of opulence, even though he sometimes used it as a means to attract materialistic people. His instruction was his opulence. He never liked miracle performing either.
The ancient Shri Vaishnava temple, in Alalanath, was being rebuilt and repaired by the Gaudiya Math, under the direction of Sarasvati Thakura, even though it didn’t belong to them, because it was considered very important (the Gaudiya Math now have their own temple in Alalanath).
The construction workers were habituated to smoking bidis (a cheap kind of cigarette), so Sarasvati Thakura personally rolled these for them, in order that the work went on smoothly. He did this just to show how much he wanted the temple reconstructed quickly.
He once stayed at Gopalaji Math in Cuttack for six days, during which time he explained the Siksastaka. The custom at this place was to take prasada squatting on the floor, rather than sitting, with the left hand kept behind the back. Sarasvati Thakura also followed this system whilst there.
Whenever he was present, Sarasvati Thakura had a rule that if someone had come to give a donation to the Math, they were to bring it to him first, so as he could see who was the donor and what they were giving. Only then would it be put in storage. These included donations like milk, sweets, rice, coconuts, etc.
There was a rule in the Gaudiya Math that, at least once a month, everyone had to shave his head and face completely. There were some, however, who, even in the presence of Sarasvati Thakura, didn’t follow this rule. They included prominent men, like Bon Maharaja and Paramananda Vidyaratna, and many well-known brahmacaris. Sarasvati Thakura never corrected them for this, nor did he intimate displeasure, and was still cordial with them. If other devotees complained about their lack of strictness, Sarasvati Thakura would sarcastically remark:
“They are `babu brahmacaris’ (Babu means `a well-to-do householder’, or someone who likes to dress and eat nicely — a bit of a sense enjoyer).” One time in Mayapur, in 1934, at the Bhakti Vijaya Bhavan*. Anyway, during the time of the Navadvipa dhama parikrama, reinstituted by SP, so many pilgrims came due to the widespread preaching of SP, making Mayapur very famous. Many came from all over Bengal. One time he was bathing early in the morning and the water was coming down in the pipe, and the pipe was open at the bottom and the water was just falling on the ground. So some pilgrims were very intelligent and were talking that water for drinking and putting on their heads. So, from that day on, when SP saw this, he was unhappy and only bathed in the tub from then on, and he poured the water on the head only, not the feet, and ordered his disciples, “You throw this water away at a distance.” He was determined that no one took his bath water.
When he arrived in Jamshedpur, an industrial city in the present day Bihar, there were huge crowds waiting for him at a public meeting. Sarasvati Thakura went onto the stage and from there bowed down. Whether he bowed down to the people there or to great demigods and rsis who may also have been there, who others couldn’t see, wasn’t known, but he bowed down. What happened then was that, everyone was so amazed that such a great and famous guru could be so humble, that they all returned obeisances and bowed down — thousands of people.
Both Sarasvati Thakura and Bhaktivinoda Thakura made a point of being at the train station half an hour to an hour before the arrival of the train.
In Cuttack, there was a kutir, where Sarasvati Thakura stayed, speaking Hari-katha. The munshi [local judicial officer] disturbed the talk... After, Sarasvati Thakura chastised him, quoting Tapana Misra, who begged Lord Chaitanya, “I don’t know what is sadya sadhana tattva. Please enlighten me.”“This is the proper way to inquire‘, said Sarasvati Thakura.
In Cuttack, the pujari forgot to put the mosquito net for Krishna one night. Sarasvati Thakura said it was wrong and the next morning explained in the lecture the importance of Shri Vigraha, the Deity form of the Lord.
Kesava Maharaja was a brahmacari when he convinced the Governor of Ekadashi.
Sarasvati Thakura had four to five thousand disciples, mostly in Bengal, with many also in Orissa, and a few in other places of India. He had some foreign disciples also who were mostly German.
He encouraged young men, around twenty to thirty-years-old, to join, and used to think those around forty were hopeless, as they’d wasted the best part of their lives in grhastha life.
Out of around ten thousand initiated disciples he gave thirteen babaji initiation. Jyotisekhara recalls some of their names: Bhaktisvarupa Puri Goswami; Tirtha Goswami; Bhaktisaranga Maharaja, etc. They were so absorbed in bhajana that even when it was time for eating they were unaware. One time Sagara Maharaja went with the devotees for nagara-sankirtana, but on coming outside the gate they just remained there and did sankirtana outside the Math for 2 hours. When they finished they told him, “Maharaja, we all walked around the town for two hours, chanting,” to which he agreed saying, “Yes. We all went around the town.” He didn’t realize they’d only stood at the gate and performed sankirtana.
Sarasvati Thakura gave trija [third birth], or manjari-svarupa [siddha-svarupa], to thirteen of his disciples; not all at once, but at different times, according to the rules given in Satkriya-sara-dipika — a book by Gopala Bhatta Goswami, which describes the different rituals for Vaishnava rites. Their samadhis were also made according to Satkriya-sara-dipika. Some of the samadhis are at Mayapur, and some at the Radha Damodara temple in Vrndavana.
Some were grhasthas and some were tyagis. Since that time, in our line, no one has given this trija.
One interesting point is that Sarasvati Thakura gave babaji initiation even though he externally kept himself in the position of a sannyasi in the varnasrama system. Traditionally a sannyasi cannot give babaji initiation, as a babaji is considered above a sannyasi, above varna and asrama. Becoming a babaji means initiation into the life of a paramahamsa. However, Sarasvati Thakura could do this, because although externally he played the role of a sannyasi, he was an actual paramahamsa, enabling him to give paramahamsa babaji initiation also. Those who became babajis gave up their brahmana thread and didn’t strictly follow all the rules and regulations of the sastras, governing behavior according to varna and asrama.
He warned his babaji disciples not to tell their manjari svarupa to others. They would stay in the Mathas, in the three dhamas of Vrndavana, Navadvipa, and Puri, and attend all the temple functions, such as lectures and kirtanas, but they themselves would not give lectures in the temple. They would go for bhiksa and go outside for nagara sankirtana. They wouldn’t go for preaching and most of their time would be spent in bhajana. Sometimes they would help with the Deity worship, or arcana. One babaji, named Radha Govinda Brijabasi, the father of Ananta Vasudeva, it would seem he lived in the Math in Vrndavana.
The first Vyasa puja ceremony of Sarasvati Thakura was held in 1929, and then every year afterwards in different locations. Each individual devotee would daily perform guru-puja to a picture of Sarasvati Thakura in their own rooms, using incense, a gee-wick, etc. However, only those who were second initiates were allowed do this and for them it was obligatory.
The titles upadesaka (instructor), mahopadesaka (great instructor), and maha-mahopadesaka (very great instructor), were given to different devotees during the Gaura Purnima festival according to the degree of their ability to instruct others. Maha-mahopadesaka was awarded to a select few only, like Narayana Dasa, Bhaktisudhakara and Aprakrta Bhakti Saranga Goswami. Bhakti Kumuda was given as a title according to the name of the siksa guru. For example, Jyotisekhara Prabhu came to Krishna consciousness through the group of Bhaktisudhakara Prabhu. So those in that group who were qualified enough received the title Bhaktikamuda. Similarly, there were other siksa gurus, but, of course, the diksa guru was one, and the siksa gurus placed in these posts by Sarasvati Thakura were also his disciples. There were only a few such siksa gurus, such as Sundarananda Vidyavinoda, Navina Krishna Vidyalankara, Kunjavihari Vidyabhusana, Nandalal Vidyasagara, etc., and each had their own group. Whenever the devotees would approach Sarasvati Thakura he would sometimes comment, “O, sundarananda vidyavinoda loka,” or, “Bhakti sudhakarer loka.” “These are the people of Sundarananda. These are the people of Bhakti Sudhakara.” Without getting a recommendation from such a siksa guru Sarasvati Thakura would not accept anyone for initiation and would ask an aspiring devotee which group he belonged to.
Generally, the brahmacaris living in the Math would come under the group of a sannyasi, and householders living outside near the villages would be in the group of a householder devotee. The groups were set out geographically: Dhaka came under the jurisdiction of Sundarananda Vidyavinoda, Mednapur under Navina Krishna, Orissa under Bhakti Sudhakara.
The upadesakas were under the mahopadesakas, and the mahopadesakas were under the maha-mahopadesakas, with Sarasvati Thakura over all of them.
Householders may have been preached to and brought up to the stage of harinama* by a sannyasi, but they would be put in a group of a householder devotee, who would then oversee their spiritual life as their siksa guru. This was following Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s directions in Harinama Cintamani, which states that those who are householder devotees should be trained by senior householder devotees and those who are renounced should be trained by those who were also renounced devotees.
Amongst his disciples Siddhanti Maharaja, known as Siddhasvarupa brahmacari at the time, and Shridhara Maharaja were particularly scholastic knowing many verses, especially Siddhanti Maharaja. Sarasvati Thakura told Shridhara Maharaja that he appreciated his devotion and bhajana*. However, as far as preaching was concerned, they weren’t so active. Sometimes Sarasvati Thakura would comment on this saying, “What is the use of your knowing so much Veda, so much sastra? Who will understand in Kali-yuga? Better to go out and preach.”
Sarasvati Thakura told Bhakti Vaibhava Sagara Maharaja, “You are an ajanma bhakta — a devotee from your very birth.”
There was a devotee called Bhagavad Janananda Prabhu, who used to pick flowers every day from the garden for Deity worship: He died at an early age. Sarasvati Thakura revealed that this devotee was a sakha of Krishna who had come to this world to worship Him. To another disciple Sarasvati Thakura said, “You are ajatasatru.”
The first sannyasa initiate of Sarasvati Thakura was Bhakti Pradipa Tirtha Maharaja, who was given first initiation, or harinama, by Bhaktivinoda Thakura, so his status was like that of a Godbrother of Sarasvati Thakura, but he voluntarily took the position of a disciple. Sarasvati Thakura used to say was very simple and innocent, just like a child.
Sakhi Carana Bhakti Vijaya Prabhu was instructed by Sarasvati Thakura to construct the Yoga-pitha temple in Mayapur. Bhaktivinoda Thakura had already made a small temple there with Jagannatha Misra, Saci Devi and Nimai, in another hall, but it was Sarasvati Thakura’s disciple, Sakhi Carana, who gave money for building the big temple. Before joining the mission he was a salt merchant with a vast amount of wealth, which he utilized later for the temple construction in Mayapur, at the Baghbazaar Gaudiya Math.
Miss Bowtell (a harinama disciple, made as a result of Bon Maharaja’s preaching in London) wrote to Sarasvati Thakura from London asking for diksa, to which he replied: “Why only you? I want many to come to Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.”
A prominent disciple at the time was Paramananda Vidyaratna Prabhu, who was brought, by his father, to the Math in Puri as a pilgrim, while still a child of around twelve. Unfortunately, his father died at Saksi-Gopala (a village just outside Puri, where the famous Saksi-Gopala temple is) and no one knew of the young boy’s family or of anyone else to care for him, so Sarasvati Thakura had him brought up in the Math and gave special attention to him. He became very dear to Sarasvati Thakura, but after many years in the Math, aged just over thirty, he wanted to marry. This came as a surprise to Sarasvati Thakura who said, “I have brought you up just as a hen brings up its chicken. So many years you have been with us and now you want to marry. This is very bad. I brought you up to become a preacher, but now you are spoiling your life by getting married.” He was very distressed by all this and wrote him a letter saying, “I had hoped you were going to be a good man but now you’re getting married. I brought you up for preaching.”
Sarasvati Thakura liked brahmacaris and said preaching was essential. “Brahmacaris can preach but grhasthas are tied up,” he would say.
At the Cuttack Math there was one Bodhayana Maharaja. Sometimes his methods of collecting were not very pleasing to Sarasvati Thakura. Sometimes he would tell people that the Math had thousands and thousands of brahmacaris, that they also ran a leper colony which had one thousand lepers, that they ran a students hostel, and also fed the poor. This was, of course, all untrue, and Sarasvati Thakura did not approve.
On one occasion, he was coming from the bazaar having collected so many things from Marwaris*. For example: he said to someone, “We have three hundred brahmacaris, so give three hundred vests,” which he got. When he arrived at the Math, on arriving at the gate, he started calling out in a loud voice, to attract everyone’s attention; “Jai! Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami Maharaja Ki Jai! being very elated, and also thinking that Sarasvati Thakura would be pleased. However, Sarasvati Thakura was so upset that he fasted that whole day.
On another occasion he arranged for many grhasthas from the Mednapur district to take harinama initiation. However, Sarasvati Thakura said they were disciples of Bodhayana Maharaja and not his. “He is trying to have many people take harinama from me, but actually they are disciples of his. I don’t need so many so-called disciples. Bodhayana Maharaja is bringing forward so many insincere people for show only,” he said.
Bodhayana Maharaja once went to the income tax officer and said, “Please help us to collect from the Marwaris,” knowing that the Marwaris are a very prominent business community in India. The idea was that if the income tax officer went with him, they could be intimidated into giving good donations, but the income tax officer refused saying, “This is not proper.” Bodhayana Maharaja then said, “Well at least let me take your car now that I’ve come, so as I can get back to the Math.” The income tax officer granted this, but Bodhayana Maharaja went back to the Math via the bazaar, and without the income tax officers knowing, went to the Bazaar and collected from the marwaris, telling them to please give donations. Seeing the income tax officer’s car, they felt there was some kind of threat and so gave profusely, including money, dhotis, and so many other things. Then he returned to the Math and Sarasvati Thakura heard how he had made this collection. He became angry like fire and arranged to have everything returned. He used to say, “karilam sannyasi hoy gelo bilasi -- I made them sannyasis but they’ve all become sense enjoyers.” Of course, not all the sannyasis were like this; some were and some weren’t.
Puri Maharaja was there at the same time. He was a very simple sannyasi, and he had at that time collected vegetables and rice from door to door. SP went to Puri Maharaja and took his bhiksa in his utariya. Bhiksa means to go begging for collection and also means “that which is collected.” utariya is the top piece worn by a sannyasi, also used to collect that which is given. Traditionally, people may give as bhiksa money, rice, dahl, vegetables, etc. SP said, “This Puri Maharaja’s bhiksa is sattvic. Gaurasundara is pleased with his bhiksa.” SP was very particular about bhiksa, and discouraged the cheating style. He used to say that Laksmi is always with Narayana and one should go on madhukari bhiksa, without any motive,, and whatever one gets should be simply accepted. Madhukari means to go from door to door taking a little collection from every place, just as a bee goes from flower to flower, taking a little nectar from each.
Bhakti Garvasti Nemi Maharaja once went to a rich man in Bombay to petition him for a donation. That man offered fruit and sweets, while Nemi Maharaja proceeded explaining how there was no water in Mayapur, which was causing the sadhus there many difficulties. “Please give me a donation for tube wells,” he requested. “You take this little prasada first and then we’ll discuss,” replied the rich man, but Nemi Maharaja startled him by declaring, “Unless you promise money for three tube wells, I will not eat anything.” The wife of that rich man then reasoned: “If this sadhu leaves our house without taking any food it will be very inauspicious for us.” “Please, give him the money for the three tube wells,” she told her husband. Sarasvati Thakura became very sorry upon hearing of this incident: He never liked this process of collecting money by force, saying it was not the process of bhiksa.
A sannyasa disciple of Sarasvati Thakura by the name of Nemi Maharaja, already mentioned above, once came from Bombay, where he was stationed, to visit Sarasvati Thakura in Puri. He offered his pranamas but was told that he hadn’t done it properly. “First, as a sannyasi you should touch your danda three times to the floor whenever you see your guru, signifying body, mind and words (tridanda); three items surrendered. You should do that,” he said. “The ground where the danda touches is symbolic of the heart.”
There was a brahmacari called Sajjana Maharaja who was the cook and personal assistant of Sarasvati Thakura. His name was Maharaja because a cook is referred to as “Maharaja” in northern India. Sarasvati Thakura never cooked himself and always had Sajjana Maharaja traveling with him for this. It was rarely allowed that anyone would cook apart from him. Even ladies would cook sometimes, that wasn’t forbidden, but, generally, Sajjana Maharaja would cook, and was instructed exactly how to do so by Sarasvati Thakura.
Many times Sarasvati Thakura would be speaking Hari-katha and the time for his meal would come, so Sajjana Maharaja would try and interrupt him, telling him that it was time for his meal, because he knew he could go on and on, regardless of time. When speaking about Krishna he became absorbed. Many times Sajjana Maharaja would disturb Sarasvati Thakura while he was speaking, either informally to guests, or formally in a meeting. Sarasvati Thakura never liked being disturbed and told him to stop doing this. He liked to go on and on and on. Sarasvati Thakura told him, “Whenever I’m talking you should wait.” But again and again Sajjana Maharaja would come. Again and again (not all on one occasion, but on many occasions) he’d disturb Sarasvati Thakura when he was speaking to some gentleman or group of gentlemen. Sajjana Maharaja looked after him just like a mother — cooking, washing and ironing his clothes, etc.
Sarasvati Thakura especially liked to preach amongst the educated people. However, although he had a small number of outstandingly intelligent disciples, most of those who came to him for initiation were not highly educated. In the Chaitanya-charitamrita, Antya-lila:4.68, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says, dinere adhika daya kare bhagavan... — The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, is always favorable to the humble and meek, but aristocrats, learned scholars, and the wealthy are always proud of their positions.” However, Sarasvati Thakura showed special mercy to the rich and intelligent classes: His idea being to convert the rich men first so that people would see Vaisnavism as not just a beggar’s religion, as was previously thought. Sarasvati Thakura would often meet the vice chancellors and principals of universities and colleges and have meetings arranged in their homes. He liked very much to preach to students and held many college programs.
Dandapani Dolai took diksa in 1932 at Chuttak Parvat, on the occasion of Sarasvati Thakura’s sixtieth birthday. He was a grhastha bhakta and was told to complete one lakh, 100,000 names of japa (64 rounds) daily, but with all his family duties he found it too difficult. He took harinama in 1930, in Navadvipa, and was told to chant harinama and observe Ekadashi, along with other festivals. He was also told by Sarasvati Thakura to read Chaitanya-Bhagavata, Shrimad-Bhagavatam, and all the other important books, and to try and learn Sanskrit.
Sarasvati Thakura had several followers from the Muslim community, especially in the Mayapur and Navadvipa areas. Even though not actually initiated, they still, unofficially, considered themselves disciples. Sarasvati Thakura also had seven, harinama-initiated, western disciples.
There was one Muslim devotee of the Gaudiya mission named Kalachand, from a nearby Muslim village called Miapur* . In his garden was a very nice mango tree, and on one occasion the ripe mango’s were stolen by some boys from the village. Sarasvati Thakura became very upset upon hearing this because they were to be offered to the Lord.
In Miapur, Sarasvati Thakura gave harinama initiation to a Muslim villager (is this the same Kalachand mentioned above?), and the people of Navadvipa remarked, “Oh, he will not become purified.” Sarasvati Thakura then narrated a parable: “A Muslim villager was once appointed as a judge, but, out of malice, some Hindus said, `Well, maybe he’s not getting any payment.’”
This Muslim devotee would lead the Navadvipa parikrama group, holding a flag. He was a grhastha, whose whole family became Vaishnavas, remaining at the same Muslim village in Mayapur. The local people never troubled them for changing from Islam to Krishna consciousness, and to this day, the descendant in their family leads the parikrama.
While at Lila Kuti, in Puri, Sarasvati Thakura, accompanied by Ananta Vasudeva, a proficient singer, was asked by a householder devotee, who had come from Calcutta: “Guru Maharaja, please ask Ananta Vasudeva to sing yasomatinandana brajabara nagara. He sings it so nicely.” Sarasvati Thakura replied, “No. This is wrong. Any song should be offered for Krishna’s pleasure. Not that you will hear it and enjoy.” This man was a disciple of Sarasvati Thakura and so he was admonished further: “Yasomatinandana braja bara nagara...You want a nagara [an enjoyer]. You want this kind of song. You don’t want, dusta mana tumi kiser vaishnava...You don’t want, gopinatha mana nivedana suna.... This kind of song you’re not asking for!” [These two songs quoted here are giving instructions to the neophyte devotee on proper attitude and controlling the mind in devotional service].
Seva Vilasa Brahmacari was once holding an umbrella over Sarasvati Thakura, in Mayapur, to protect him from the sun, but seeing as he was so short in comparison to Sarasvati Thakura, he kept hitting his head with it. Sarasvati Thakura then humorously remarked: “He is killing me with his umbrella,” so someone else took over.
Bhakti Shrirupa Puri Maharaja, whose father was a disciple of Bhaktivinoda Thakura and a sannyasa disciple of Sarasvati Thakura, left this world two years before Sarasvati Thakura. He was very gentle and mild in his behavior and anyone who saw him would automatically be attracted to him. This is not the Puri Maharaja who was Sarasvati Thakura’s first sannyasa disciple. His samadhi is in Mayapura at Shrivasa Angana, along with his father’s, Bhakti Vilasa Prabhu, and Sarasvati Thakura personally performed the samadhi ceremony. Anyone who came to him, whether sinful or whatever, would be attracted by him. He was very open with everyone, treating all with kindness, whatever their behavior may have been. There were many genuine saintly sadhus like this in the Gaudiya Math.
Bhakti Svarupa Puri Maharaja disappeared about one year before Sarasvati Thakura. He was a highly realized soul, not caring for food, shelter, or material things. He was always engaged in kirtana, only sleeping a few hours at night. Sarasvati Thakura said he was a jivan mukta — a liberated soul in this very life. Bhakti Vaibhava Sagara Maharaja was another who Jyotisekhara saw as always engaged in bhajana, and was very sincere to Sarasvati Thakura. This is in comparison to others who appeared to be scheming and enhancing their prestige.
Sarasvati Thakura sent his first sannyasa disciple, Bhakti Pradipa Tirtha Maharaja, who was also the harinama disciple of Bhaktivinoda Thakura, to Dhaka, now the capital of Bangladesh, in order to preach. At that time Subhoda Babu was one of the many people who came every day to listen to the devotees lecture and was very impressed. However, the sahajiyas of the area stood firmly against Bhakti Pradipa Tirtha Maharaja and the Gaudiya Math preachers, not approving of their teachings, and seeing them as a threat on their hold over the people. They told all their followers, which was practically the whole town, not to give them anything, which meant they had to struggle very hard as they were not even getting donations to eat. Then, one morning, the man they were staying with, abruptly told them they had to vacate the premises by that same afternoon and that he couldn’t help them anymore. Fortunately, however, Subhoda Babu invited them to reside at his house. These events occurred in 1928. Subhoda Babu went on to take initiation, and was given the name Sundarananda Vidyavinoda.
Puri Maharaja, an initiated disciple of Sarasvati Thakura, from Berhampur, Orissa, now has his Math in Berhampur, Rajamandri, Visakhapatnam, etc. He recalls that when Sarasvati Thakura was present in this world, even though he took harinama initiation from him, he wasn’t so much interested and didn’t want to join the Math. He was more interested in Gandhi’s independence movement. From time to time he would visit the Gaudiya Math at Mayapur, Puri, Cuttack, and other places, but wasn’t interested in joining at that time, having other ideas instead.
As a young boy he remembers how, every six months or so, he would be taken by one Sharmaji to visit Sarasvati Thakura in Mayapur, Cuttack and other places. Seeing as he was only a young boy at the time and there were so many other people present, he never personally spoke anything with Sarasvati Thakura. It was only in 1931 or 1932 that another devotee bearing the same name, Puri Maharaja, who was visiting Berhampur, pushed him into taking harinama. He told him that he should get initiated because he was from a Vaishnava family, and even though he wasn’t so much inclined he coerced him saying, “Next time I come I’ll bring Sarasvati Thakura’s japa-mala for you.” The system they had if Sarasvati Thakura could not be physically present was that he would chant on the japa-mala, which would then be sent to the aspiring devotee, and in this way they would take harinama from him. When Puri Maharaja was given his japa-mala in this way his name wasn’t changed. His name was Narasimha at the time so he became Narasimha Brahmacari. It was quite a common system that the persons name wouldn’t change on harinama. Another example Puri Maharaja gives is of Nityananda Brahmacari, who was called Nityananda at home and simply became known as Nityananda Brahmacari.
Paramananda Vidyaratna once called Jyotisekhara to see the rasa-lila-yatra* in Cuttack, but Jyotisekhara told him, “Guru Maharaja doesn’t like this.” Paramananda didn’t listen to such advice, and although reluctant, Jyotisekhara went anyway, considering the seniority of Paramananda, who was one of the original three trustees of the Gaudiya Math. The next morning the whole episode came to the attention of Sarasvati Thakura who sarcastically remarked: “Paramananda Prabhu has a license to do whatever he likes.” Later on Paramananda became a householder and left the society, being, it seems, never really serious about spiritual life.
The harinama-initiated Bhaktivardhaka Sagara Maharaja joined the Math in 1922 as a young man of around twenty-four, interested in spiritual life. He joined at the time before the mission was called the Gaudiya Math. The Math was a house at the time, on Ultadanga Road, and called Bhaktivinoda-asana. Later on the name was changed to the Gaudiya Math. When he first joined, Sarasvati Thakura gave one householder devotee, Avidya Haran, the assignment of teaching him the philosophy. At that time there were very few brahmacaris or members even. Avidya Haran is the one who constructed the Nat Mandira in Mayapur, or the Chaitanya Math.
During the time of Sarasvati Thakura, Sagara Maharaja held several important positions, and was in charge of the Puri Math for seven years, which was an important Math, considering that every year Sarasvati Thakura would spend the summer there. At one time he was in charge of three Mathas: Delhi, Vrndavana and Kuruksetra. His speciality was collecting donations for the mission, especially money.
In Vrndavana there was one Krishna dasa Babaji who was a disciple of Bhaktivinoda Thakura, not to be confused with the Akincana Krishna dasa Babaji, who was a disciple of Sarasvati Thakura. Akincana Krishna dasa Babaji’s brahmacari name was Krishna Kinkore.
There is another Babaji of Sarasvati Thakura’s called Radha Govinda Dasa Babaji, who lived in Puri and was the father of B.P.Tirtha Maharaja and Ananta Vasudeva. He once told Sarasvati Thakura: “I am not so popular. When I go house to house for bhiksa they don’t allow me in. The fathers of the young boys don’t allow me in because their sons are interested in following me when I give them maha-prasada and preach to them. The fathers of these boys are even scared about letting them out when I’m around, because they are afraid of them becoming sadhus.” Radha Govinda Babaji would go on the street and the tendency of the boys was to follow him. Sarasvati Thakura replied with the example: “Some people, when invited to someone’s house to eat, will take all varieties of nice food. But afterwards, when outside, they will say everything was very nice but the yogurt was too sour. So in this way they unnecessarily criticize. In the same way, in your devotional service, even though you may be doing everything very nicely, people will unnecessarily criticize. But you shouldn’t mind that. It is simply their criticizing tendency.”
Siddha Bhagavan Dasa Babaji of Kalna was very famous, and even today, in Bengali Vaishnava circles, his name is very well known. He was known as Siddha Babaji but took babaji initiation again from Sarasvati Thakura, reforming into a proper Gaudiya Vaishnava babaji, as previously he was initiated into an apasampradayic line.
After taking diksa, or second initiation; not at the time of harinama, or first initiation, all the brahmacaris living in the Math could wear saffron colored robes, but if they became implicated with women, Sarasvati Thakura said they had to wear white. Many brahmacaris wearing saffron, later on got married, that wasn’t forbidden. Jyotisekhara asked Sarasvati Thakura why he was dressing everyone in saffron ]The reply is not clear from the tape]. Unlike the South Indian sampradayas, before taking sannyasa, the devotees were not checked with astrology. i.e. In Shri and Madhva lines, before taking sannyasa, a candidate would have his horoscope read to ascertain if his chart indicated a person fit for lifelong renunciation. Bon Maharaja came from a very high class aristocratic background, and spoke excellent English, and therefore preached to the aristocratic classes.
One advocate, Gopala Prahararaja, made a six volume elaborate and extensive dictionary of the Oriya language, famous even to this day. He invited Sarasvati Thakura to his house in order that he would bless him, his family, his home, and his work on the dictionary. He wasn’t prepared to take initiation, but in his dictionary he wrote a six-page sketch on the life of Sarasvati Thakura, with the history of Mayapur also included. Along with this advocate, many of the great scholarly people of that time very much appreciated Sarasvati Thakura. The advocate’s house was in Cuttack. A photograph of Sarasvati Thakura with that advocate was published in the dictionary, which also appeared in the Gaudiya magazine.
In Mayapur, one brahma-raksasa ghost came to Sarasvati Thakura and bowed down before him. He asked him who he was and he informed him how he was his disciple before Sarasvati Thakura came to this world, but due to the offense of kicking a pure devotee, his own Godsister, in his previous life he was forced to take on the body of a ghost. He then requested Sarasvati Thakura to excuse him and release him from his condition, which he did. Sarasvati Thakura then personally related this incident to the devotees.
Once, at Tridandi Gaudiya Math in Bhuvanesvara, one Ekadandi sannyasi, a sannyasi of Sankaracarya, of the Mayavada school, came to Sarasvati Thakura and they had some discussion. After the discussion he became convinced and took tridandi sannyasa. As he had already taken sannyasa, having already renounced the world, Sarasvati Thakura didn’t tell him to become a brahmacari, but immediately he went to the tridandi sannyasa order, and was given the name Bhakti Svarupa Maharaja. From Bhuvanesvara he went to Vrndavana and was never seen again by anyone, so it was thought that even though he was a young man, he had left his body in Vrndavana.
In Dhaka there was one Tribhuvana brahmacari, who would get up at around 7.00 a.m., missing the whole morning program. Some householder devotees complained to Sarasvati Thakura about him, who replied, “Anyway, he may do that but you don’t do it. You come early in the morning and attend the program.” Tribhuvana came to know of the complaint and so expected Sarasvati Thakura to say something to him, but he never did. Anyway, expecting some chastisement, he rectified his bad habit. This is an example of how, even by Sarasvati Thakura not saying anything, Tribhuvana knew that he was doing wrong in the presence of Sarasvati Thakura, so he stopped getting up late.
The Bhaktivinoda Thakura school at Mayapur was at that time run by the Gaudiya Math. Now it is run by the West Bengal Government Educational Authority. Now, because Mayapur is a Muslim village, there are many Muslim students, and a request was made that instead of closing the school on Ekadashi, as Sarasvati Thakura had introduced, they should close it on a Friday, which is the Muslim day of prayer. Sarasvati Thakura related this problem to Vinoda Bihari Brahmacari*, who was also involved in the management affairs, and turned it over to him for his consideration. The Mohammedans had made a petition to the government inspector. This British man came to see Vinoda Babu, who tricked him by showing him a few of the Ekadashis which fell on the Friday and said, “Actually, Ekadashi means Friday. Only we are Hindus and they are Muslims. So we have our way of saying.” So in this way he tricked the inspector and the holiday continued to be on the Ekadashi. An inquiry was made and the rule was passed that the holiday should be on Ekadashi. It was a government recognized school, therefore there was some authority over it like that. Sarasvati Thakura heard about this incident and said to Vinoda Babu, “O, you are a very cunning fellow,” and approved of this action.
Among the eighteen sannyasis made by Sarasvati Thakura, one was Oriyan. As an Oriyan pandita from a brahmana family, he first came to Sarasvati Thakura with some objections, stating; “Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is a prophet. He is not God Himself. He may be called jagat-guru, but not Krishna.” In reply, Sarasvati Thakura, using so many quotations and arguments from sastra, convinced him. When he was thus convinced, this man, without going through the stage of brahmacari, or any other stage, was immediately awarded sannyasa by Sarasvati Thakura. He was a very prominent figure and was very learned in sastra. His conclusion had been wrong, but now he accepted the right one, so Sarasvati Thakura decided to give him sannyasa immediately with the name Bhakti Vaibhava Vaikanasa Maharaja.
O.B.L.Kapoor tells of how he came to Krishna consciousness. In 1935, after taking his M.A. in philosophy, from Allahabad University, he started out on a quest which had been occupying his mind for some years; namely, to find a spiritual guide. In 1931, he visited Naimital in summer, which was a sub-Himalayan hill-station, and there Giri Maharaja, a sannyasa disciple of Sarasvati Thakura, was giving a series of lectures from the Bhagavad-gita. Although the subject was the Gita, he actually spoke more about Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His teachings. O.B.L.Kapoor became very interested by his presentation, and met him afterwards, discussing with him for several days. He was a convinced Shankarite at this time, and thus felt there was no philosophy superior to that of Sankara. Even though they discussed a lot, he wasn’t convinced, so Giri Maharaja suggested that it was better for him to meet his guru, who was residing in Calcutta. “He has got full knowledge about sastra and all transcendental purity also,” he said. Even though O.B.L.Kapoor was not convinced by his philosophical presentation, he was very impressed by his lecture on Mahaprabhu. Previously, he hadn’t really known much about Lord Chaitanya, but now he felt himself attracted toward Him. He was attracted by Mahaprabhu’s personality and wanted to know more and more about Him, so he decided to go to Calcutta and meet Sarasvati Thakura. So, he came down from Naimital first to Allahabad, and to his great good fortune, Sarasvati Thakura himself, at that time, had come there. Giri Maharaja had already informed Sarasvati Thakura about this interested young man, so O.B.L.Kapoor went to see him in Allahabad. He was made to sit in a room adjacent to the room Sarasvati Thakura was in. The door of Sarasvati Thakura’s room was closed, but suddenly he opened it and came out. Immediately, O.B.L.Kapoor was attracted just upon seeing him. Sarasvati Thakura then sat down in a chair and started talking to O.B.L.Kapoor as he sat on the floor. Sarasvati Thakura was already informed of his position, so he started talking about Advaita philosophy. He started demolishing it by argument and sastric evidence. O.B.L.Kapoor just sat and listened to Sarasvati Thakura, who spoke as though charged, not giving any opportunity for Kapoor to speak. Having demolished the Advaita philosophy, he spoke of Shri Krishna and His lila in Vrndavana, which impressed O.B.L.Kapoor even more. He was more attracted by the picture of Krishna in Vrndavana than his demolishing of Advaita philosophy. He still had his philosophical doubts, having been trained in philosophy [in India, if you take a degree in philosophy, that means you may especially study Advaita philosophy, and O.B.L.Kapoor was entrenched in that]. After speaking for about an hour, Sarasvati Thakura just got up and went inside his room, as if overcome with some kind of emotion, so Kapoor never got a chance to speak. However, every day, while Sarasvati Thakura was in Allahabad, Kapoor would go and visit him, and gradually was able to ask many questions which were on his mind, and in this way felt himself being drawn closer and closer to Sarasvati Thakura. After about ten days, Sarasvati Thakura went to Benares, being invited by the Maharaja of Varanasi. Taking permission from Sarasvati Thakura, Kapoor accompanied him to Varanasi and stayed with him as one of the guests of the Maharaja. For around fifteen days he was there, and this time he got ample opportunity to talk with him. Also, so many people would come and meet Sarasvati Thakura and Kapoor would listen to their conversation. Sarasvati Thakura then returned to Calcutta, and Kapoor, after going to Allahabad, also joined him to go to Calcutta and spent some time with him. When he went to Darjeeling he also accompanied him. Gradually, gradually, he was being weaned away from Advaita-vada, and in 1932 he took initiation. Although he was serving in the University Bombay Presidency, he was able to come to the Vrajamandala parikrama in 1932, and took initiation at Radha Kunda. On Kartika purnima, in Allahabad, 1931, he had taken harinama, along with his wife. He had been given beads and told to chant the Hare Krishna mantra. In 1932, only he took initiation, not his wife. There was no fixed number of rounds given, and he was told to just chant as much as he could. Actually, in studying the life of Sarasvati Thakura, I found some devotees were told chant sixty-four rounds, some were told to try and chant sixty-four, some to chant sixteen, and others to chant as much as they could. Generally, those who were householders, who had family duties, were just given beads and told to chant as much as they could. Kapoor sometimes contributed articles to the Harmonist magazine. He also recalls that some grhastha disciples, on the Vrajamandala parikrama, were taking tea daily. It was going on and was known. Specifically he remembered one devotee who was initiated by Sarasvati Thakura, and had donated the land for Shri Rupa Gaudiya Math at Allahabad, who was also drinking tea. Kapoor went to Baghbazaar Gaudiya Math from time to time to get the association of Sarasvati Thakura, and he kept regular correspondence with Professor Nishikant Sanyal also. From time to time he would write letters to Sarasvati Thakura, not any more about philosophy, as he was now convinced, but more about sadhana. Dr.Kapoor recalls one incident in which he asked Sarasvati Thakura what his stage in bhakti, having some high opinion of himself. Sarasvati Thakura gave the rely: “First!”
O.B.L.Kapoor, being a learned scholar from Allahabad, the Hindi speaking part of India, was instructed by Sarasvati Thakura to learn Bengali, so as he could study the original Bengali texts of the Chaitanya Bhagavata and the Chaitanya-charitamrita, etc. Sarasvati Thakura liked other Gaudiya Math members who were also learned and non-Bengalis, to learn Bengali for this reason.
Bhagavata Maharaja, who is now the head of the Baghbazaar branch in Calcutta, came to the Gaudiya Math as a young man. He happened to be in Gaya when Sarasvati Thakura was there with some of his disciples, having several days of public programs. That evening, the last day, Sarasvati Thakura didn’t speak, as he had done on previous days, but one of his sannyasi disciples did. The future Bhagavata Maharaja was present for that program. The young man was impressed with what he heard and asked if he could meet the guru, so the next day he went to see him. He sat on the floor and Sarasvati Thakura sat on a chair, speaking for more than two hours. All the devotees had packed their belongings and were ready to leave, but they didn’t want to tell Sarasvati Thakura to stop speaking, so from behind him they were gesticulating to the young man, who was facing them, telling him to stop the conversation, because they wanted to leave, but he didn’t respond to them and went on listening to Sarasvati Thakura, and in this way became convinced, joining the mission later on. He didn’t have much association with Sarasvati Thakura, because he came near the end of his manifest pastimes, and he was also posted at Gaya — a long way from Calcutta — and so he didn’t see Sarasvati Thakura much.
In Bhuvanesvara, Harinama brahmacari was late doing the arcana. It was meant to be opened at 4.30am, but didn’t start until 7.00am. One thief came to Bhuvanesvara and put poison in the milk and bananas the devotees were about to take. The idea was to make them all sick and then go and steal from the temple, while they were all in hospital. The devotees were taken to hospital, so sick that they became unconscious, and while in this state, in the hospital, they were still chanting, and performed arcana as if they were offering arati at the arati time, saying the premadhvani prayers.
Sarasvati Thakura gave a gold medal for English to one sannyasi who was very sweet and polite.
Once, on a very hot day, a devotee was fanning Sarasvati Thakura, when he asked him, “Why don’t you fan yourself, it’s so hot?” The devotee replied, “You are the spiritual master, the representative of God. If you are cool then I am cool.” Sarasvati Thakura was very satisfied with this reply.
Jyotisekhara relates that, although Sarasvati Thakura was fully surrendered to Lord Chaitanya, and his whole life was dedicated to bringing others to that same idea, or principle of surrender, almost all of his disciples could not take it up very deeply in their hearts and lives. Many sannyasis especially tried for name and fame. No doubt their character was pure, in as much as they at least followed the moral principles; but as far as fully surrendering to Krishna, in Jyotisekhara’s opinion, almost all could not take up their guru’s motto, or his same spirit, to heart: “guru mukha padma vakya cittete koriya akya, ara na koriho mane asa...”
Jyotisekhara laments that even though the sannyasis were learned in sastra, good preachers, in as much as they could explain sastra, they, nevertheless, got diverted from the real aim of life — to be fully surrendered to Krishna — because of the foolish pursuit of name and fame.
Immediately after this, Jyotisekhara, a householder devotee, told me that Sarasvati Thakura had once explained that the householders cannot know the mind of a sannyasi. He said the householders were always looking for opportunities to criticize the sannyasis, and that they did not understand their mentality. One who is attached to home, wife, children, and the rest, does not know what it means to give up everything for the sake of serving Krishna. A sannyasi always has to tolerate so many things. He has to always act on such a high standard and can’t just sit around and talk all nonsense, worldly things with anyone. Those who are not sannyasis, it is not possible for them to understand what it means to be one. At the same time Sarasvati Thakura also warned the sannyasis to be very careful in their behavior, because they are always open to criticism by the people in general, just like Chaitanya Mahaprabhu also said, “sannyasera alpa cidra, sarva loka gaya — a sannyasi’s slight mistake is criticized by all.”
The only sannyasi to fall-down, Bhakti Svarupa Puri Maharaja, left the Gaudiya Math, on the plea of becoming a Christian. He actually went back to his wife and adopted Christianity to cover-up his falling down from sannyasa. A few days later he died. A year after leaving Sarasvati Thakura, he died.
Sarasvati Thakura made eighteen sannyasi, and it is said that one fell-down, named Bhakti Svarupa Puri Maharaja. His wife came to pull him back in Vrndavana.
There was one Bhaktiviveka Bharati Maharaja who joined the mission in the early days. He was fat, so Sarasvati Thakura would always be on his case. He would say to him, “Are you taking gee?” and sometimes he would pinch his skin jokingly.
There is a picture of the early members of the mission when they were just starting the mission.
Ananta Vasudeva and Sundarananda Vidyavinoda
Ananta Vasudeva and Sundarananda Vidyavinoda were liked by almost everyone for their pleasing behavior. They were scholars and writers and were considered the two hands of Sarasvati Thakura, because they helped him in his writing work. They were very much absorbed in spiritual subject matters. In a lecture in Darjeeling it is said that Sarasvati Thakura stated; “Whatever I have told, whatever I have not told, it will be explained by Ananta Vasudeva and Sundarananda Vidyavinoda.”
The prayers: “nama om visnupadaya krishna presthaya bhu-tale shrimate bhaktisiddhanta sarasvatiti namine...,” and all the pranama-mantras for Gaurakisora Dasa Babaji, Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Jagannatha Dasa Babaji, were all composed at one time by Ananta Vasudeva in 1929. The prayers honoring Sarasvati Thakura were first recited at his Vyasa-puja ceremony, and then after they were accepted, all the devotees would recite them in mangala-arati, before kirtana.
When his Guru Maharaja was explaining the Bhagavata, Vasudeva would assist, and at the time of his disappearance Sarasvati Thakura said, “Whatever I have not explained Ananta Vasudeva will explain. The message of Rupa Raghunatha is to be taught by him.” Then he called for Vasudeva and told him: “You will explain Rupa Raghunatha vani!” Thus, after Sarasvati Thakura’s disappearance everyone accepted Vasudeva as their leader, but after some time a dispute broke out.
Sarasvati Thakura regarded Ananta Vasudeva as his Ganesa, just as Vyasadeva has his Ganesa. “He has done many things for me,” he would say. Sarasvati Thakura would speak and Vasudeva would write it down. In this way his commentaries, like the Chaitanya-Bhagavata Gaudiya Bhasya, Chaitanya-charitamrita Anubhasya, and the Shrimad-Bhagavata Bhasya were prepared.
In Darjeeling the devotees asked Sarasvati Thakura, “When you leave this world who will speak to us your truth?” to which he replied, “Vasudeva Prabhu is very intimate with me. In all these books: Chaitanya-charitamrita, Chaitanya-Bhagavata, etc., he has helped me, so he knows my ideas. I have taught something and that which I haven’t will be told by him.”
One night, Ananta Vasudeva dreamt about Sarasvati Thakura as Nayana Manjari in Braja, and when he told this to Sarasvati Thakura he laughed and accepted it. It was thus revealed to the devotees that his svarupa was Nayana Manjari.
It was under the instruction of Sarasvati Thakura that Ananta Vasudeva and Sundarananda Vidyavinoda tried to print the Vaishnava Manjusa* at the Krishna-Nagara press.
They also helped him in the making of books, such as the Chaitanya-charitamrita with his Anubhasya commentary.
Sometimes, when Sarasvati Thakura was speaking, a thought would come to his mind and he would have trouble remembering a particular sloka. He would then ask Ananta Vasudeva or Sundarananda for help, which they would promptly supply.
Sarasvati Thakura used to say, “Sundarananda is my right hand and my other hand is Ananta Vasudeva.” He also said, “One who stands against Sundarananda is asundara.”
Subhoda Babu, as Sundarananda was then called, met Sarasvati Thakura there and was initiated around 1929, at the time of the parikrama. He was selected by Sarasvati Thakura, as a very sincere grhastha devotee, to write many books.
He sacrificed his life for the work of his Guru Maharaja, who engaged him in research work, as he was a pandita. The Gaudiya magazine was begun with him as the editor, and later on he even became the secretary of the Gaudiya mission.
He was a good orator also. In all the major halls, such as the Albert Hall, in Calcutta, when there were public meetings, Sarasvati Thakura would sit in the chair as the president and have Sundarananda speak, as well as himself. Some of the sannyasis became very sorry at this saying, “Why is Sarasvati Thakura encouraging this grhastha to speak? Why is he not encouraging us?” Sarasvati Thakura said in reply to this: “He is Vyasa!” From that time many books, not to do with the Gaudiya Math, were reviewed by him in the Gaudiya magazine.
Sarasvati Thakura started the work “Vaishnava Manjusa,” which was something like an encyclopedia on Vaisnavism, and then told Sundarananda to complete it. Many sannyasis didn’t like him because he was a grhastha and very knowledgeable regarding sastra. Sarasvati Thakura once asked him to give a lecture at a program in Calcutta’s Albert Hall. However the sannyasis opposed this because they wanted to speak, thinking they were superior as sannyasis. Sarasvati Thakura then retorted, “Sundarananda may be a grhi but he is accepted by me. Krishna will be pleased. Your lecture will be boasting. You are making some competition between you to see who is best, to show that you are better than Sundarananda and better than each other. But Krishna will be pleased with him; yasmin tuste jagat tustam — If He is satisfied, the world is satisfied”.
Later, unfortunately, long after Sarasvati Thakura had passed away, Sundarananda had some philosophical disagreement with his teachings, especially on the point of our sampradaya being in the Madhva line. He therefore put himself under one Kanupriya Goswami of Navadvipa* and took “reinitiation” in Vrndavana, outside the line of Bhaktivinoda Thakura; thus deviating from, and rejecting Sarasvati Thakura, although, apparently, Sundarananda himself denied this.
There was one Bhakti Viveka Bharati Maharaja who was expert in management, especially at organizing festivals.
From the very beginning, when he joined the Math, Kunja Babu, who later became Tirtha Maharaja, sacrificed everything for Sarasvati Thakura, giving his money and time. He even went to Mesopotamia, in present day Iraq to do service in the postal department there, and then sent money back to the Math. So, naturally, Sarasvati Thakura had faith in him and gave him a lot of responsibility, so much so that he became a close associate of Sarasvati Thakura.
He told Kunja Babu that since he was an expert at management he should help in that area.
After the death of his mother, Kunja Babu decided to perform the sraddha ceremony, using the Raghunatha-smarta system, rather than the Vaishnava one, which greatly displeased Sarasvati Thakura. Therefore, before he left for his mother’s house, in order to carry out the ceremony, Sarasvati Thakura requested him to use the Hari-bhakti-vilasa or Sat-kriya-sara-dipika system. Despite this instruction, however, Kunja Babu disobeyed his spiritual master and went ahead, following the smarta system. Sarasvati Thakura gravely proclaimed after this event that, “He is the secretary of the Gaudiya Math, but he is doing this smarta system. It will be the cause of the downfall of the Gaudiya Math.” It was all a sad state of affairs, because it showed that, even as a leader and after so many years, Kunjada still never had faith in Vaisnavism. This was in 1934 — two years before SP this world. Sarasvati Thakura was very disturbed by all this and wrote two or three letters about it.
In Cuttack, Cintamani Nayaka (later spoken about as Cintamani babu), a betel-shop owner, had a Salagrama-sila who was famous for fulfilling the desires of those who pleased Him, and even to this day people go to Him and pray. One night in a dream the Salagrama appeared to Cintamani, telling him to give the Salagrama-sila away to a sadhu, along with a plot of land for building a temple. However, no name was mentioned, so the next day Cintamani Babu wrote down the names of the different Mathas in Cuttack on separate pieces of paper and asked his blind daughter to choose one. She chose the name of the Saccidananda Math* .
Cintamani Nayaka then followed the advice of his dream and handed over the Salagrama-sila to Sarasvati Thakura, as well as some land and a garden, next to his own residence, for the establishment of the Math. The Salagrama-sila further told him in a dream to take harinama initiation from Sarasvati Thakura, to which he also complied. In front of the land he donated were some shops belonging to Cintamani Babu, leaving only a little space for a gate. Therefore, Sarasvati Thakura explained how this would hinder the appearance of the Math, and asked him to give the shops as well, which he did. The shop-keepers moved out and a wall was erected to create a nice appearance in front of the Math. Cintamani Babu, a moderately wealthy man, declared that he would spend not a single paisa on anything but for the service of God.
Soon after these events with Cintamani Nayaka, the same Salagrama-sila appeared to one Vinodini Dasi in a dream, telling her to make a temple for Him in a place where there were many coconut trees. She searched through Cuttack and found the place, which happened to be the land given by Cintamani Babu. She then paid for the construction of the temple there. Sarasvati Thakura had actually been searching for a place to build the Math, so without any endeavor of his own, and by his desire alone, this all came about. He wanted to take the Radha Krishna Deities from the rented house that They were in immediately, but construction was going on, so where to keep the Deities was a problem. Cintamani Babu therefore agreed to move out to a smaller house of his until the work was completed (around two years later), and his own house was used for worship of the Deity. The new temple of the Saccidananda Math was thus established when everything was ready, in 1932, and the Radha Krishna Deities were installed.
One day, in Mayapur, during the rainy season, Sarasvati Thakura was walking on the Advaita Sarani Road, now known as Bhaktisiddhanta Road, which is the only proper road through Mayapur. At the time it was under construction, and over one ditch was a bridge made of bamboo poles tied together with string — a system still commonly used in the villages of Bengal to this day, especially in the rainy season, when many new little rivulets flow through the fields. The bamboo, however, becomes very slippery due to the wetness, making it very awkward to walk on. There was one of these bridges that Sarasvati Thakura started to cross, but it was very poorly made and sloped downwards so as the level of it was not straight. It also started to shake from side to side, and just as he was nearing the other side he slipped, but Ananta Visvambhara was right beside him and caught him by his whole body in his arms. Normally one would be very careful about even touching the lotus feet of the guru, and even touching the feet should be done gently, but he caught his whole body in a firm embrace and saved him from slipping over. Sarasvati Thakura then commented, “As you have saved me from this danger today I give you the benediction that Mahaprabhu will save you from all dangers.”
This Ananta Visvambhara Brahmacari was very big and strong and used to take part in wrestling competitions before joining the mission. For his mid-day meal he would consume no less than 1 kilo 700 grams of rice — a huge amount, enough to feed 6-8 Bengalis. Once, when all the devotees were sitting in line taking prasada, Ananta Visvambhara just stood and looked at his plate sorrowfully, because there wasn’t enough rice on it. Sarasvati Thakura happened to enter the room and saw the situation. Calling to the devotee serving he said, “Give him more! He requires more. Give him as much as he wants!” Ananta Visvambhara would practice wrestling every day with people from outside, even though Sarasvati Thakura did not approve.
Ananta Visvambhara was also a good collector of funds, having a good rapport with the gold-merchant community of Calcutta. He opened a private account in Beadon Street Post Office, using the thirteen thousand rupees he kept from donations given to him, which he intended to use for some purpose in the future. Due to sickness, Ananta Visvambhara was once sent home by Kunjabihari, the secretary of the Math, who told him, “Better go home now. When you recover fully come back, because you won’t get properly looked after here.” While at home he once read in the Gaudiya magazine, which he was regularly receiving each week, the headline, “Braje chalo — Go to Braja.” It was an announcement that Sarasvati Thakura had planned a grand parikrama of the whole of Braja Mandala. However, there was not enough funds and many people were invited for the event. It so happened, however, that Kunjabihari was a clerk in the Post Office and therefore knew of Ananta’s account. On Ananta’s returning to the Math, after his sickness had subsided, Kunjabihari approached him and pleaded, “Now that Sarasvati Thakura is having difficulty organizing this parikrama for want of funds, could you please donate your money,” but he refused. Kunjabihari then informed Sarasvati Thakura of the situation who personally requested Ananta also, but it was to no avail. Finally Sarasvati Thakura asked Ananta’s close friend, Vinoda Bihari brahmacari, who became Kesava Maharaja later on, to try and convince him. Kesava Maharaja sat Ananta down, gave him sweets, patted him on the back and told him that seeing as it was Sarasvati Thakura who was asking for the money, he should please turn it over and not worry, assuring him that he would, somehow or other, pay back everything. Thus, under pressure from all sides, Ananta finally agreed, turning over the money at Radha Kunda when the parikrama reached that point. Sarasvati Thakura publicly thanked him saying, “He has helped with the financial needs of this parikrama in a way which no others, not even big big sannyasis, have been able to do.” Approximately thirteen thousand pilgrims and devotees took part in that parikrama.
Nishakant Sanyal (Bhakti Sudhakara Prabhu)
There was a well-known professor of the prestigious Ravenshaw College13 living in Cuttack by the name of N.K.Sanyal. He joined the Gaudiya Math in 1925 and was initiated with the name Bhaktisudhakara Prabhu, and was a very surrendered soul. In only eleven years since joining he was considered a paramahamsa, and even though a householder, Sarasvati Thakura said, “He is the guru of sannyasis. He is like a clear, white, spotless flower and I am indebted to him. He’s such a good soul. He has sacrificed everything for me.”
His full salary of eight hundred rupees a month was given, by him, to Sarasvati Thakura, who would then give back two hundred rupees for the maintenance of his family. Bhaktisudhakara said, “I am a professor but I shall live like a clerk.”
In order to compile his Ph.D. thesis on the doctrine of Shri Chaitanya, Samvitananda needed to travel to London, so Bhaktisudhakara Prabhu paid for all this. Sarasvati Thakura was very pleased and tried his best to help, explaining how Samvitananda could spread the message amongst the educated people. However, some of the sannyasis and householders of the Gaudiya Math criticized the idea, saying that Bhaktisudhakara Prabhu was not getting enough money himself so why should his money be given for this purpose. Bhaktisudhakara then retorted, “I have sacrificed everything for my Guru Maharaja. Let my guru take my money and use it as he likes according to his own sweet will. Do not disturb him with your complaints. I give my income to him and what he does with it is up to him.”
He wrote lectures for Bon Maharaja in London to deliver. While staying in his college quarters, one night Bhaktisudhakara had a dream of a long, white, ghostly hand stretching out to him. He then awoke, startled, in the middle of the night and immediately ran to Sarasvati Thakura, who was staying some distance away, in the Math. Bhaktisudhakara was very disturbed and scared by this event, but on seeing and hearing Sarasvati Thakura he became pacified.
While driving to Darjeeling, up in the hills, the car stopped at the side of a hill and Sarasvati Thakura asked Bhaktisudhakara, “If I push you off the side of the hill will you agree?” to which he replied, “Yes. If you push me you will save me. There will be no harm.” SP was very pleased with this.
Jyotisekhara Prabhu’s full name is Jyotisekhara Dasa Adhikari Bhaktisastri Bhaktikamuda Upadesaka. Bhaktisastri is in reference to him having passed the Bhaktisastri examination. Bhaktikamuda and Upadesaka were titles given to him by Sarasvati Thakura. He was also given a certificate of blessing, asirvada patra, by Sarasvati Thakura, which is a certificate written in Sanskrit, given to some disciples each year at Gaura Purnima, but only to those who had satisfied Sarasvati Thakura.
Jyotisekhara started living in the Math in 1926, when he was only sixteen years old. His father and mother were also disciples of Sarasvati Thakura’s, so he left home with their permission and blessings. He took harinama in 1928 and diksa in 1930, on 25 December, in Jajpur, a famous holy place of Orissa, on the banks of the River Vaitarani. On that same day Sarasvati Thakura came from Calcutta to install the footprints of Lord Chaitanya, near the River Vaitarani.
He was in the Gaudiya Math editorial service, given to him by Sarasvati Thakura. Most of the time he was at the Math at no.1 Ultadangi Road.
When he was a young boy of around sixteen, before he was initiated, in the Chuttak Math, he came directly to Sarasvati Thakura one day and told him that he wasn’t getting any soap for washing his clothes, and that the temple commander would not give him any either. So Sarasvati Thakura told Ananta Vasudeva to see that he got some. Ananta Vasudeva then went downstairs with Jyotisekhara. Ananta Vasudeva said to Jyotisekhara, “You have come to the Math not for any material thing; not for wealth, money, fame, not for mukti or bhukti. Why you are asking Guru Maharaja for soap? It is a very trivial thing. You could have asked me.” From upstairs Sarasvati Thakura heard all this and spoke from above to Ananta Vasudeva, not exactly to chastise, but to explain, saying, “He comes to me. He knows me. He loves me, that’s why he comes to me. That’s all right. Let him come for anything he needs. He doesn’t know who he should go to get soap, so let him come to me.”
Sarasvati Thakura noted how Jyotisekhara Prabhu attended all the temple functions, including the morning and evening programs. Once, when both Jyotisekhara Prabhu and Bhaktisudhakara Prabhu (or professor N.K.Sanyal) were present, Sarasvati Thakura praised Jyotisekhara Prabhu, saying, “He’s a good boy.” Upon hearing this Bhaktisudhakara Prabhu replied, “No. He’s not doing anything. He’s not so good.” He said this because he had brought him to Krishna consciousness and didn’t want him to get too proud.
It seems that Sarasvati Thakura had said that Jyotisekhara was attending all the temple functions and was busily engaged also in different services from morning to evening.
When only a very young boy, Jyotisekhara heard the last [ninth] verse, of Gurvastaka, which explains the importance of the Gurvastakam, saying that anyone who rises early and recites these prayers loudly will get the association of Vrndavana-natha, Lord Shri Krishna. So this made a big impression on his mind. Therefore, even though he was a young boy, around fifteen or sixteen, and still studying at school, he would nevertheless, still come home in the evening from school, and after taking his meal, go to spend the night in the Math, so he could rise early and hear the Gurvastakam. One devotee of the Math complained to Sarasvati Thakura saying, “This boy doesn’t do any service in the temple and simply comes at night to sleep, that’s all.” Sarasvati Thakura said, “Do not disturb him. Let him come.” Then Sarasvati Thakura asked Jyotisekhara, “Actually, why are you doing this?” Jyotisekhara then replied, “I like to hear this Gurvastakam. My house is a little distance from the Math, so I come here to stay at night so as I can rise early and attend the program.” Sarasvati Thakura then spoke again to the devotee who complained and said, “Just see, this is the reason why he’s staying. He has very good interest in Krishna consciousness.” After this Jyotisekhara was given some service: to distribute the Nadia Prakasa to the subscribers in Chuttak, which was coming daily from Calcutta by train, and he would distribute in the evening, after his studies. There were ten to twenty subscribers. Sarasvati Thakura told him, “If you make more subscribers and make up to one hundred in Cuttack, I’ll buy you a bicycle for your deliveries.” [Nadia Prakasa ran on daily for sixteen years]. In Cuttack, Jyotisekhara wasn’t able to do it, but in Berhampur, Ganjam District, he got one hundred subscribers involved and Sarasvati Thakura gave him, not only a cycle, but an English made one, which was very expensive at the time.
Another time Sarasvati Thakura called Jyotisekhara Prabhu and said, “You come with me in the car.” Bhaktisudhakara Prabhu was there at the time, however, and restrained Jyotisekhara from going, saying, “No. It is not the proper practice to sit on the same asana as the guru. You should not do this! The guru may call you but you should not go. You can follow him afterwards by rickshaw,” which he did.
One day Sarasvati Thakura was going by train from Cuttack to Puri and told Jyotisekhara to go ahead and arrange a seat on the platform or waiting-room, but by mistake he got one in the lady’s waiting-room. When Sarasvati Thakura saw this he mildly rebuked him saying, “You should have seen what you were doing.”
When he was still only a young boy, Sarasvati Thakura gave him a big gulabjamun, the size of a mango to treat Jyotisekhara with kind love and affection. After giving him two big gulabjamuns he told him that one was for him and one for the other devotees.
Jyotisekhara was once taking the cooking paraphernalia from the Cuttack Math to Puri, for a festival there. When he was returning to Cuttack from Puri, and while getting off the train, he did not bother to get a coolie, in order to save money. As a result the train departed with some of the things still on board. When Sarasvati Thakura found out he said, “Penny wise pound foolish.”
SP was always a proof-reader. One time Jyotisekhara wrote him a letter, but he wrote the address as “Shri Gaudiya Math, Baghbazaar, Calcutta. The “Baghbazaar he wrote in two words. SP corrected him. First thing is not Bhag, which in Bengali means a tiger. There is not any tiger in the Baghbazaar. Another thing is you spell as one word not Bazaar but the whole thing will be Baghbazaar. In this way he corrected him.
Again in Cuttack, Sarasvati Thakura asked Jyotisekhara to make a poem in Oriya on the SB 11.5.33-34, describing Lord Chaitanya: vande mahapurusa te caranaravindam... That is two slokas from SB then SP took that poem to a great Oriyan scholar, Gopala Prahararaja, who had made the dictionary of the Oriyan language. The scholar said it was a very good poem and praised it. SP brought it back and told Jyotisekhara how the scholar had praised it, and he said, “I knew from the very first day I saw you at Nilima House that you were a writer.
He left the mission in 1946 to live outside.
In the introduction: A note by Bhakti Vikasa Swami: “I’ve heard him criticized for still living at home and being so old, with his family, and that doubt was also in my mind. At the same time I see he’s a very nice devotee. Certainly, very much Krishna conscious. In the Shrimad Bhagavatam: Canto 8, Chapter 19, Text 2, in A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada’s purport, he says: “... Someone might argue that since Prahlada Maharaja, even though very old, was attached to his family, and specifically to his grandson, Bali Maharaja, how could he be an ideal example? Therefore this verse uses the word prasantah. A devotee is always sober. He is never disturbed by any conditions. Even if a devotee remains in grhastha life and does not renounce material possessions, he should still be understood to be prasanta, sober, because of his pure devotion to the Lord.” Of course, this is not an across-the-board recommendation that everyone just stay at home all their lives. Indeed, the sastra repeatedly stresses the need to renounce family life in old age. However, this purport demonstrates that there may be rare cases where an advanced devotee remains in family life even in old age. It is not for me to judge Jyotisekhara Prabhu. I asked Jyotisekhara how come he wasn’t in this final stage, by going to live in a temple or in Vrndavana, but he said, “Where is the sanga? Wherever you go, the most important thing is association. So it’s very difficult to get that anywhere.”
A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Jyotisekhara Prabhu recalls sometimes seeing Abhay De14 at the Baghbazaar Gaudiya Math. Sarasvati Thakura liked him and would be very pleased to see him because he knew that Abhay De liked to preach. On the occasion of the annual varsika-utsava (festival of Janmastami), in Sarasvati Thakura’s room, upstairs at the Baghbazaar Math, Jyotisekhara saw Abhay De sitting near his guru-maharaja, who told him to start a magazine in Bengali, giving him the idea: “ghore phirae chala — return back to home `Back To Godhead,’ as a title. He also quoted a sloka in Sanskrit: yad gatva nanuvartante, tad dhama paramama mama, Bg. 15.6, on the same topic and then said, “This idea of going back to Godhead is the basis of the Gaudiya Math.”
Abhay was well known in the Math and would come every two or three days when he was in Calcutta, wearing a dhoti, kurta, and chadar.
Around 1928, in Puri, Jyotisekhara Prabhu, who was a brahmacari collecting alms, met Abhay De on the sea-shore.
He told him that Sarasvati Thakura was staying at Chuttak Parvat at the time and asked him to please come and see him. Abhay De then gave him a three rupee donation for the Math and received a receipt.
Jyotisekhara noticed how Abhay De did not talk to Sarasvati Thakura but liked to listen instead to what he had to say.
When he was a young boy, in 1924, having recently joined the mission, Jyotisekhara was ordered to go to Calcutta from Puri by Sarasvati Thakura, who wanted him stationed there. He told him to go with Abhay De, who was about to leave for Calcutta, because he was too young and wouldn’t know how to get around, especially in a big city like Calcutta.
Jyotisekhara recalls seeing Abhay De regularly from 1937-1939 at the Gaudiya Math. Abhay De would always dress very simply and was very jolly, with a smiling appearance. He would go directly and meet with Sarasvati Thakura, who was very merciful to him, or sometimes he’d meet with Ananta Vasudeva, not bothering with anyone else. He never mixed with Kunja Babu. His Godbrothers would criticize him saying, “Who is this householder? He’s so bold: Without consulting us he’s going directly to mix with Guru Maharaja,” but he ignored their remarks, not caring for them.
In 1928, when Jyotisekhara was eighteen years old, with many big big leaders present, including Kunja Babu and Ananta Vasudeva, there was a discussion held. Abhay De was also there. Sarasvati Thakura had an idea to make a new magazine in English. They already had the Harmonist magazine, which used highly philosophical, Sanskritized terminology, but he wanted a new magazine in English that would present the Gaudiya Vaishnava teachings in a language suitable for modern man, presented in a way that would be appealing to them. About three suggestions were given for the title, including: “Universal Brotherhood,” “Universal Truth,” and “Gaudiya Message.” However, it was Abhay De’s suggestion of “Back to Godhead” which met with Sarasvati Thakura’s great approval. “Yes. This is the right title,” he proclaimed joyously, very much appreciating the suggestion. After the meeting, Sarasvati Thakura even delivered a lecture entitled “Back to Home, Back to Godhead.” He liked Abhay De because he grasped the same idea of Krishna consciousness as his guru. This is the observation of Jyotisekhara. For three months, in Calcutta, between 1934-35, or there-abouts, Jyotisekhara saw Abhay De daily attending the Math and going directly to see Sarasvati Thakura, not mixing with other devotees. The Harmonist was mostly translations of articles from Sajjana Tosani which were scholarly Bengali articles, so this Back to Godhead magazine was desired by Sarasvati Thakura and very much needed, but the Gaudiya mission didn’t even take that work up seriously and nothing ever actually got done, though the idea was given out at the time. SP told Abhay to make BTG. Sometimes he gave him prasada in his, upstairs at the Gaudiya Math... One time, he may have given this to Abhay De. Jyotisekhara met Abhay De around 1928 on the sea-shore.
Instructions to Devotees
Sarasvati Thakura said that brahmacaris, grhasthas and sannyasis must all observe the morning and evening aratis as they are the most important bhaktyanga. “Even if you happen to miss other bhaktyangas, don’t miss this,” he would say.
He explained how there were two kinds of separation: the separation of Radha-Krishna-viccheda [separation] and Gaura-Gadadhara-viccheda—separation of Gauranga from Gadadhara and Gadadhara from Gauranga. Gaura-Gadadhara-viccheda is even more spiritually important than Radha-Krishna-viccheda. This was all explained. Near Cuttack, on the Mahanadi River, called Gaurgadai-ghat [the only place of Gaura-Gadadhara-viccheda], the place where Chaitanya Mahaprabhu sent Gadadhara back when He was leaving Puri one time. Gadadhara gave up his ksetra sannyasa. Gauranga sent Him back. Then He explained that this is considered more important because Radha-Krishna-lila is vivarta-vilasa, but Gaura-Gadadhara-lila is vyaitra-vilasa[?]. This was an esoteric teaching from the instructions of Raya Ramananda, which are the highest teachings of the Gaudiya Vaishnavas. This whole subject is also dealt within the Chaitanya-charitamrita Anubhasya by Sarasvati Thakura.
He would tell those living in the Math, or the Mathavasis, that at night, as soon as they woke up, they shouldn’t go back to sleep again, but get up, even if it was very early like 2.00am, and chant the holy name. Many devotees followed this advice and rose very early to chant. “Chant the nama mahima. Practice that. I also do that. Harinama is our life,” he would say.
Svadhikananda brahmacari, who lived in Mayapur, would tie his sikha to a bamboo pole of the house with a string, with the idea that if he was dozing during japa this would keep him awake, because as his head went down he would be jerked awake. Sarasvati Thakura did not approve saying that the chanting has to come from the heart. The brahmacari then relied, “I want to chant one lakh of names daily.” “You will not chant one lakh of names because when you chant you must do so clearly. Speak and hear, otherwise your chanting will not be counted. This is not sadhana. Sadhana means you should chant loudly and clearly. We physically don’t introduce methods to stay awake, but mentally stay alert and in that way stay awake,” he said. In this regard he quoted his own song; “shri dayita dasa kirtanete asa, kara ucchaihsvare ‘harinama-raba’, kirtana-prabhave smarane svabhave, se kale bhajan-nirjana sambhava” up to, “sakale vrajantheo jan sangup [the last verse of the song beginning dusta mana tumi kisera vaishnava],” and said: “Shriday kara uccaihsvare — One should chant the name loudly, by which your mind will be pure and you can chant the name again and again.” Sarasvati Thakura himself chanted slowly and clearly.
He explained that there are two kinds of parampara: Bhagavata and Pancaratriki. Pancaratriki means the line from guru to disciple, or father to son, but the essence may get lost. However, in the Bhagavata parampara, someone may be living at a far place, he may not be formally initiated by a guru, but he may grasp the spirit of Lord Chaitanya. The Pancaratriki parampara will inevitably break down in course of time.
He never liked the devotees sitting in the temple holding their knees cross-legged.
Sarasvati Thakura once said in Calcutta, “Don’t do gonatoshan (satisfy the people)! Worship Janardana (the maintainer of the people), Krishna. don’t try to satisfy the janata — the people in general.”
Once, in Puri, in a lecture, he told the story of Ajamila when he was calling the name of Narayana: He first of all meant his son, but only when he thought of Narayana did the Vishnudutas come. Unless our bhava is suddha, Krishna will not come. Simply to call the son’s name, Govinda, Vishnu, etc., is namabhasa.
Mahaprasada, after offering in arcana to the Deity with tulasi and mantra, it is prasada. But Sarasvati Thakura described how in the vision of the uttama adhikari the whole world is prasada: everything is Krishna’s mercy.
Once, he went to Mayurbhainj district, in Orissa — one place; Kaumara — one harijana, an outcaste, gave yogurt in a pot. There were twenty to twenty-five devotees with Sarasvati Thakura. They told Sarasvati Thakura, “It is given by a harijana so we cannot take it.” Sarasvati Thakura then quoted (CC Antya. 4.176): “dete bhadra bhadra jnana — what God has sent us without our endeavor is antaryami prerita — sent by the Supersoul. It is more valuable than that which is offered to the Deity with arcana and puja. It is a better type of prasada.”
He always took darsana of Jagannatha in Puri from behind the Garuda-stambha, not close to Jagannatha, just like Lord Chaitanya used to do. He used to say, “Let Jagannatha see us. Let Him caste His merciful glance upon us. He will look at Garuda, because Garuda is His devotee. So at that time He will see us. We will stand behind our guru, Garuda.” Many people would go close to Jagannatha, but Sarasvati Thakura did not like that, saying, “It is better to see patita pavana Jagannatha, the Deity, just at the outside of the temple.”
He said, “Don’t give maha-prasada to a maha-bhagavata like Vamsi Dasa Babaji. They are not qualified to give Krishna’s mercy to a maha-bhagavata. If a maha-bhagavata asks for maha-prasada then we may give it to him, not otherwise. A mahabhagavata will give Krishna’s mercy to you.”
Once in the Gaudiya Math, many sannyasis and many grhasthas were there. Abhay Babu was also there. This was when the question was there, who is greater, a sannyasi or a grhastha? One time came out in ista-gosthi.
At the time of Vrndavana parikrama, many pilgrims were taking fruits, flowers and twigs as toothbrushes. All these things to use for themselves from the trees. Sarasvati Thakura forbade that saying, “Everything in Vrndavana is meant for Krishna’s enjoyment. All the trees are rsis and munis, so don’t disturb them.” While sitting in a chair in Vrndavana flies came on his body, so the devotees tried to fan them off. However, Sarasvati Thakura said, “No, they are Brijbasis. If they sit on me I’m very fortunate.”
One devotee said, “Be merciful to me. I want to see God in this life.” Sarasvati Thakura replied, “You will see God? No! God will see you. For your satisfaction you will see God. This is not the process.”
One time the devotees were traveling to Kavoori in south India, on the bank of the Godavari River — the place where Chaitanya Mahaprabhu discussed with Ramananda Raya. They were going on the train and even though Sarasvati Thakura had a first class ticket he came in the second class compartment just to see the devotees and give his association. Jyotisekhara was leaning against the seat and Sarasvati Thakura saw this and said, “stri sanga kocho — you are associating with women.” Jyotisekhara was very surprised because he couldn’t even see any women around. Sarasvati Thakura then explained: “You are leaning very comfortably against the seat but aram is haram. Aram means comfort and haram means something very abominable. One time on the train traveling, Jyotisekhara was in the second-class compartment. Sarasvati Thakura then came from the first-class compartment to see his disciples. When he came he saw Jyotisekhara Prabhu was sitting and admonished him saying, “stri sanga korcho...- you are associating with women.” Jyotisekhara was surprised and looked around but there were no women, so Sarasvati Thakura explained that he was sitting with his back against the seat, so that is just like associating with a woman. “Aram (comfort) is haram (abominable.) Comfort is apallable,” he said.
Sarasvati Thakura said, “Don’t sit against the wall. That is stri-sanga. That bodily comfort is a kind of pleasure as a stri-sanga is a kind of bodily pleasure.” Sarasvati Thakura himself would sit with a very straight back. He would say, “Aram (comfort) is haram.” So he warned his disciples against subtle sense pleasure in this way. This instruction was especially meant for brahmacaris and sannyasis.
One night, before Gaurakisora Dasa Babaji’s appearance festival, a Muslim gang from Mayapur village raided and took a big basket of mangoes. The temple commander or leader, Vinoda Babu, caught one of them and tied him up and produced him before Sarasvati Thakura in the morning. Sarasvati Thakura immediately ordered his release and said, “You have made an offense. They came for prasada. Anything in our store-room may already be considered prasada. Now you bring ten baskets of mangoes personally to their village,” which he did, taking all day to do it. He was upset thinking, “I am the temple commander catching a thief in the night and I got this kind of treatment.”
He used to say that in the morning you should sing this song: bhajare bhajare amara man ati manda, bhajana vina gati nai re..., a song of Bhaktivinoda Thakura, which is a prayer to the wicked mind to worship Radha Krishna. He said you should utter this song and beat your head with shoes, because the mind is so bad. Because the mind is so bad it should be punished. Of course, this is allegorical.
At Baghbazaar once, Sarasvati Thakura went to offer pranamas before the Radha Krishna Deity. At that time an outside man was also coming to take darsana of the Deities. He was standing just where Sarasvati Thakura’s head was touching the floor. Seeing this, many devotees called him away and admonished him for breaking the etiquette by standing just next to the guru’s head. But then Sarasvati Thakura admonished those devotees saying, “This man is coming from outside. He may not know all the rules. Don’t discourage him. Why ten of you all have to shout at once? One of you can go to him personally and tell him. Don’t disturb him so much!” He went on further, saying that this was an insult to that man. Similarly it would sometimes happen like this. Just like in all the Gaudiya Math temples, the deity is on a raised platform and the people see the Deity from the ground below. Generally, the rule is that the ordinary people wouldn’t come up to onto that raised platform, but see the Deities from a little distance. So, similarly, if someone came close-up to the Deity breaking the rule, Sarasvati Thakura said that one person should tell him and not ten or more shouting at him. One person should politely and gently tell him of the rule and tell him to please come down. That system is there that outsiders won’t come so near the Deity, because of various reasons: they may not be following principles strictly, their clothes might not be so clean, and just coming from outside might mean their body is not so clean.
One time an old man of around sixty was somewhat chastised by one of the brahmacaris, but Sarasvati Thakura said, “No, no. You shouldn’t do like that! Anyone over forty, they can’t exchange much, so if you’re going to speak to them do it politely and don’t chastise them.” That brahmacari had chastised him saying, “You are not doing anything for spiritual life. You’re not chanting or anything like this.” Sarasvati Thakura said, “Beginners after forty, it is very difficult to improve them.” However he did say also that those who are older and who are anti-devotional in their attitude, who ask anti-devotional questions and criticize, should be spoken to very strongly. Just like a crocodile: You need a double-barreled shotgun, or you need to shoot doubly strong to kill a crocodile. In the same way, these old men who are fixed in the anti-devotional life, have to be spoken to very strongly if there is to be any chance of changing their mentality. Unless you do this then you may simply be wasting time. They may not be able to accept what you have to say.”
There was one old man in Cuttack who would come to Sarasvati Thakura for advice. Sarasvati Thakura told his devotees that if someone is past the age of sixty then don’t preach to them so much. They can’t accept so much different philosophy. Just advise them that now in your old age you chant Hare Krishna that’s all You can’t change their mind so late in life.
One time Sarasvati Thakura went to the temple of Jagannatha, along with some devotees, for darsana. After darsana he asked the devotees, “Have you seen Jagannatha?” to which they replied, “Yes.” “No, no. You cannot see Jagannatha. He will see you. No one can see Jagannatha but He will see you: How you are a devotee, how pure you are, whether your life is good or bad. If you want to see Jagannatha that is for your enjoyment,” he said. He also made a statement after this published in the Gaudiya magazine, saying that Jagannatha is drsta, whereas we are drsya. This means He is the Seer and we are the seen.
Sarasvati Thakura said that for most devotees it would take three lifetimes to achieve perfection in Krishna consciousness, meaning most are in the stage of chanting with many aparadhas, so for them to get free from this would take three lifetimes. Those in the stage of namabhasa will take two lifetimes and those in suddhanama will go back in this very life. Those in the nama aparadha stage in this life could progress to the namabhasa stage in the next life: Those in the namabhasa stage in this life could progress to the suddhanama stage in the next life. He said this specifically in reference to those who had accepted a sad guru. “Even if they are aparadhi, if they accept a sad guru and chant the name, it will work and have its effect. They won’t have to wait many lifetimes to become purified,” he said. He also said, “I have not come to encourage the asuri varnasrama dharma -- Hinduism. Hinduism is only meant for elevation to Svargaloka. they do some punya karma but that punya karma is not our final goal. Our final goal is to go back home, back to Godhead. Hinduism is another obstacle on our path back to Godhead.”
He once informed the devotees that Bhaktivinoda Thakura was an incarnation of Gadadhara Pandita, and that he himself was dayita dasa — the servant of the servant of that Gadadhara (Radharani). He also said that Gaura Kisora Dasa Babaji was Rasa Manjari in Krishna lila and Svarupa Damodara in Gaura lila. He told these facts in a lecture at urjavrata time in Vrndavana, but never told of his own svarupa. His disciples ascertained that he was Nayana Manjari and he accepted this. Ananta Vasudeva dreamt that he saw Sarasvati Thakura as Nayana Manjari in Braja. When he told this to Sarasvati Thakura he laughed and accepted it. That day all the devotees knew that his svarupa was none other than Nayana Manjari. Once, at Puri, Bhaktiviveka Bharati Maharaja, a sannyasi disciple of Sarasvati Thakura, asked him what his svarupa was. He replied that the svarupa of a guru like Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Gaura Kisora Dasa Babaji, etc., is just as you see them, that is their svarupa. whatever bodily features they may have or complexion, dress, etc., that is their svarupa. In Krishnaloka they are all sakhis, but here they are Gaura nija-jan — personal associates of Lord Chaitanya: gaurangera sangi gane, nitya siddha kori mane, se radha madhava antaranga. When you see Rupa Goswami, Sanatana Goswami, and the other devotees of Lord Chaitanya in the male body you should understand that in Krishnaloka they have female bodies. Whatever form you see them in Gaura lila with is their permanent svarupa in Gaura lila. Just as Bhagavan Acarya was lame, he’s eternally lame. They may have ordinary non-Vaishnava names like Jhoru Thakura, Vasu Ghosa, but these are their eternal names.
Sometimes he would refer to dandavat bhaktas, who were those who would come and offer obeisances, but hat was about as far as their devotion went. This meant that they were really “dandavats — just like a stick.” Lifeless like sticks. All they could do was fall down and offer obeisances. He used to say, dandavat sahasrani kora patra na diyate.
You are offering me thousands of obeisances but cannot even give so much as a leaf in my hand.” kora patra means some leafy vegetable. “You couldn’t even give me a little leaf.”
He coined one little Sanskrit phrase: “dandavata sahasrani, korapatra na diyate — You will offer thousands of dandavats but you won’t even give me a little leaf in your hand.”
Once, in Patna, Shridhara Maharaja and Hayagriva Brahmacari15 spoke out against the Rama Krishna mission. when Sarasvati Thakura heard this he corrected them saying, “It is better to attack their teachings rather than naming them,” giving the example that instead of saying directly a cow, you can say a big animal with four legs, a tail and horns, it gives milk, etc.
Jyotisekhara once asked Sarasvati Thakura about his japa-mala saying, “If I am on the train and go to the toilet should I put them in my pocket or leave them outside?” Sarasvati Thakura then said he should keep them with him always so as they do not get lost or stolen. The harinama mala received from the guru are just like a Deity and one should keep it very carefully.
One devotee went to the toilet in the train and his bead-bag was stolen, because he left it outside. Maybe someone thought there was money inside. He told Sarasvati Thakura who said to take the bead-bag inside the pocket in the bathroom in such circumstances, and later the bag can be washed.
Once, one devotee, the editor of Ananda Bazaar Patrika, a daily newspaper of Calcutta, said to him, “I see there are many hypocrites in your mission. People who are not very sincere. what they say and what they do are not the same. Why do you not put them out? Let them go home and get married or something like that. Why keep them in your Math?” Sarasvati Thakura replied, “Oh editor, you will save me! What is a better place than this Math? Is there any better place to save them? Here they may be good or bad, but if their fortune will allow, they will become good. If not, what can I do? Is there any better place? No there isn’t.”
Many traditional Vaishnavas in Bengal and Vrndavana emphasized studying many sastras, Sarasvati Thakura never did. Rather, he emphasized sevonmukhe hi jihvadau svayam eva spuraty adah — by serving Krishna you will be blessed to understand him. Although it must also be noted that many of his disciples were very learned in sastra also. Sarasvati Thakura always emphasized, “do something for Krishna. Do something for guru and Deity. Our mission is one of arcana and kirtana, not just arcana. Along with arcana the kirtana must go on.” Sometimes if he saw that the arcana was going on without kirtana he would say, “Why is this? The kirtana must go along with the arcana. Just like at the Bhoga arati time there should be Bhoga-arati kirtana as Jiva Goswami taught that without kirtana arcana is not complete.”
Sarasvati Thakura gave much import to these two slokas: sevonmukhe hi jihvadau.. and nayam atma pravacanena labhyah... from the Katha Upanisad, saying that the Absolute Truth cannot be realized by one’s own endeavor, by mental speculation or one’s brain power. Also the verse mahat krpa vina... — without the blessings of a great devotee no one can achieve devotion, even by performing so many austerities, etc. mahat pador raja visekam, na mahat pador raja visekam SB 5.12.12. and 7.5.32.
One time, one devotee was talking with Sarasvati Thakura and he yawned. Sarasvati Thakura then told him that when you yawn you should cover your face with a cloth. He said, “Don’t show such a big face to sadhus.” This was at the time of the “Theistic Exhibition” in Calcutta.
There was a rule that the Mathavasis or the brahmacaris should not stay in one room in one place for more than three days. They couldn’t sleep in the same spot for more than three days at a time. Actually, Sarasvati Thakura liked that parties of brahmacaris would go from place to place, not spending very much time in one Math, but go from place to place to preach. In this way always busy. Sarasvati Thakura said, “You should not be mathawa, pretending to be a sadhu in order to live a lazy life.” This is an Oriyan word: mathawa -derived from the word matha -- asrama. Generally a person who lives in an asrama is considered to be a very lazy person, which Sarasvati Thakura did not want. So the word for idle person in Oriyan is “one who lives in a matha — mathawa.” Sarasvati Thakura did not want his disciples to be such mathawas. He used to call them mathamedhi. Just as there is a grhamedhi there is also mathamedhi.
He told one Vaikanasa Maharaja: “At least every day you should go out for half an hour. At least you should go to a minimum of five houses. Don’t just sit in the Math all day. Go out and preach. At least the people will see you moving in the town and think something about our mission. Don’t sit idly in one place. even if no one gives you anything no harm. At least people will see you.”
Ananta Visvambhara was also in charge of the Bhakti Kuti. That is, the bhajana kutir of Bhaktivinoda’, in Puri. So one time he was going from the Math at Puri, Purusottama Math, to go to the Bhakti Kutir. At that time Sarasvati Thakura was residing in Puri, staying in his room facing the sea, which meant that the nice sea breezes were coming into the room. So, as he went out Ananta Visvambhara saw that the wooden slat which they used for window coverings. So he saw that only one side was open and said to Sarasvati Thakura, “If you have the whole window open then the breeze will come more and be more pleasant.” He replied, “Too much comfort and bodily enjoyment will be detrimental to my bhajana.” Anyway Ananta Visvambhara went and opened the window, but as he went again he saw that Sarasvati Thakura had closed it again. Half closed, just sufficient to let a little air and light in, but not more than he needed.
One day, Krishna Babu, who was an Oriyan disciple of Sarasvati Thakura, who had an anti-Bengali feeling, was told by Sarasvati Thakura, “Krishna Babu, do you think if you go to the jungle in Orissa that the Oriyan tigers will not eat you because you are Oriyan... do you think that they will embrace you?” In this way he sarcastically pointed out his fault.
One time, Jyotisekhara was to go outside with one sannyasi to collect something, so he told Sarasvati Thakura, “That Maharaja will go outside with me. Is it all right if I accompany him?” Sarasvati Thakura then replied, “Don’t say `He will go with me,’ but rather, you will go with him. Your position is inferior. Not that, `he will go with me,’ rather, `I will go with him’.”
Aman Raja of Orissa came to the Saccidananda Math from one state in the western part of Orissa. He asked to hear some kirtana. Sarasvati Thakura said he has come to hear some sweet sounds ”You should not try to enjoy this sankirtana, the enjoyer is Krishna.” The Raja wanted Ananta Vasudeva to sing, but Sarasvati Thakura asked someone who was not such a sweet singer to sing. “We should not sing for any king to satisfy them, but to satisfy God. Every bhajana is meant for God, that should be sung in the temple for God, not made a public performance for everybody to enjoy on the mundane platform. Similarly, the traditional dances the temple dances , are meant for God, not for the general populace, that these dances should not be enacted on a stage. They should be enacted in the temple for God -Jagannatha.”
On the day of Gundica marjana Sarasvati Thakura explained, “It is not simply a matter of cleaning the temple externally, we have to clean internally our hearts.” There is that extensive purport in the Chaitanya-charitamrita by Sarasvati Thakura regarding Gundica marjana, the internal cleansing of the heart — a very important purport.
He used to teach the devotees to recite his own song, dusta mana tumi kiser vaishnava... Sarasvati Thakura instructed the devotees to sing this song early in the morning, being the equivalent to beating the mind with shoes and he instructed the devotees to always remember this song to help us in dealing with the rascal mind. Sarasvati Thakura said this song Bhajare Bhajare should be sung in front of the Deities daily in the morning. From another song Sarasvati Thakura told, he noted this line: panca putra sange nace raya bhavananda tin putra sange nace sen sivananda. Anyway, the point that they had children, so many children, does not take away from their glories. They are not ordinary material people, Sivananda Sena. Because they are associates of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Through the idiom of this song he taught all the brahmacaris not to have any feeling against these pure devotees who are householders. Bhaktivinoda Thakura says -- ajasra smara, always think of them because they are all pure devotees of the Supreme Lord, so always think of them with great reverence. The purport of this song is that the mind is very bad and we should police it.
One time, in Puri Sarasvati Thakura was coming from the seashore to the Bhakti kutir, which is the cottage of Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s bhajana. He saw a nalia, which is a caste of people in Puri who take people out in their boats in the sea and they help them or assist them in their sea bathing. Because bathing in the sea in Puri is a religious practice, but you also may need some help because the waves are so strong, so the nalias are there. Sarasvati Thakura said, “We are nalias. The ocean of material existence is much greater than the sea that we are now seeing. Nalias pick people up out of the sea who are drowning, and we also do the same thing. We take people from the ocean of material existence.
At Chuttak Parvat, one area in Puri, where the Purusottama Math is now, there was a disciple of SP’s named Sankirtana brahmacari bathing in the sea just at the area of Chuttak Parvat, but he was carried out to sea by the strong waves there. One nalia went out and saved him. Sankirtana brahmacari then told this story to SP who replied very gravely, “You are in the `bhava-sagara — the ocean of material existence.’ The guru will save you. If you are sincere, then, just as you have been saved today from the ocean by the Nalia, so the guru will save you from the ocean of material existence.”
The following story was told before. Sankirtana brahmacari was saved when drowning in the sea. It seems that the system was that the nalia would take them out in a boat and then let them down and they would hold onto ropes, but he somehow or other cou8ldn’t hold onto the rope. He was drowning and the nalia saved him, “Why have you gone to bathe in the sea?” Sankirtana brahmacari then said, “Well we come to Puri dhama for bathing in the sea.” SP said, “This is one kind of or personal enjoyment. It is sufficient that you are walking in Puri dhama, you don’t have to bathe in the sea. You can go to the sea and put some water on your head. Honor the sea which is a great maha-tirtha at Puri, but don’t go to swim in the sea.” Sarasvati Thakura did not recommend improvement either on the mental or the physical platform, for instance, by becoming a great Sanskrit pandita or by doing physical exercise to become very healthy. He said that we should spend all our time, from morning to evening within the sixty-four items of devotional service in the morning rising early, doing the parikrama of the temple, joining in the kirtana, arcana, seva, all these activities, up until night.
At Lila kutir, near Haridasa’s samadhi in Puri, Sarasvati Thakura used to explain the Jaiva-dharma to all the devotees at that same kutir in the same place. From 2.00pm — 3.00pm all the grhasthas, brahmacaris and sannyasis would come together to hear him speak on Jaiva dharma — a book by Bhaktivinoda Thakura — there. He considered Jaiva- dharma a very important book, and instructed al the devotees to read it from time to time. Sarasvati Thakura was speaking at this kutir which was a place that they took on rent before they had their own matha. Hired brahmanas were cooking, and not all the time would they have initiated devotees cooking because this time they hired brahmanas. Of course, these were Puri brahmanas so it was somewhat special. For festivals, in different places, they would hire brahmanas for cooking. Sarasvati Thakura would not eat that cooked by such brahmanas. He would have it offered then distributed to the public.
In Mayapur he instructed his preachers that if they went to any place they should stay in a big building and travel in a nice car, or on a big horse. You should not go in a poor manner or in a humble manner. The standard should be high. Don’t be misers he said. Spend for preaching and make a big impression. This was at the time when many preachers were gathered in Mayapur and he was sending them out to preach in different places in India. He told the preachers: “You should all have visiting cards, your cloth should be neat and clean.
One sannyasa disciple, Sara Maharaja, went to as professors house for begging alms. He praised the wife of the professor very much saying, “You are just like Laksmi,” and in this way she became very pleased and the professor was very pleased also and gave some alms to Sara Maharaja, who brought these alms to Sarasvati Thakura ... rice, vegetables, and different things. Sarasvati Thakura at this time was staying in Puri. He asked Sara Maharaja where he had got the alms from, and when you went to the professors house did you speak any Hari katha. When he came to know that he had simply praised the wife without speaking any Hari katha at all he became very disappointed. He said that no offering should be accepted without Hari katha. He said that as a sadhu you should go from door to door and speak the glories of Lord Hari, and then let them give you some madhukari. You should be like a bee taking madhukari Go door to door to preach. Praise Lord Hari, don’t praise the people of the house. Otherwise if you take such offerings that will not be pure. It will not be sattvic and Krishna will not accept it.
Sarasvati Thakura once said that the Math is like a hospital, Harinama is the medicine, prasada is the diet and those who are staying in the Math they should be doing the work of nursing, not just simply having a joint mess. three things are required: medicine, diet and nursing. In this way he came up with so many novel ideas.
One devotee was dancing in a very strange wild manner. Sarasvati Thakura told him to stop it and not dance in that manner.
He stressed arcana for householders, and would give Deities to them. He never liked tulasi being used as a medicine. For medicine you can take caranamrta, which, according to sastra, can cure all diseases, that’s enough. This was his policy. Any more would take that as aparadha, don’t think of tulasi as a medicine.
In dealing with his sannyasis and leading devotees, Sarasvati Thakura was very strict. He himself, as an ideal acarya, accepted opulence sometimes in preaching, but he was always very strict in his practice of Krishna consciousness and he stood very strongly against apasampradayas. he was very cautious in keeping his leading disciples and sannyasis in line that they not be carried away by their big positions they had, that they not artificially think they were on a very elevated platform, that they not become interested in lobha, puja, patistadi yata upasakha gana. There are many stories about how he chastised especially some of his ambitious sannyasis. Jyotisekhara observes how nowadays so many things are going on but in Sarasvati Thakura’s personal presence he tried to see that their behavior, the behavior of the sannyasis was very strict and pure.
At Cuttack Gaudiya Math, at the time of the lecture they have these big rugs, which are spread out for people to sit on. One time, the devotees only spread it out half way so Sarasvati Thakura said, “Well, why not stretch it out full,” to which the devotees said, “No, not so many people are coming. Half is sufficient.” Sarasvati Thakura then replied, “No. So many gods and goddesses are coming. We must have a place for them to sit: brahma adi deva gane, at Gauranga’s arati so many gods and goddesses attend, so make a place for them. Spread it out full. You cannot see who is coming to hear Bhagavatam.”
Sarasvati Thakura was once asked by the headmaster of the Thakura Bhaktivinode Institute, Kisori Mohan Bhakti Bandhar, “Why so many devotees staying in the Math, give up everything, engage in devotional service, why do they not improve to the advanced stage?” Sarasvati Thakura answered, “They have internal worms. They are being eaten up by worms inside. They are taking food but are not getting nourishment because of worms. they are engaging in devotional service but the advancement is eaten by material desires and secret bad behavior. So they become weak.”
Sarasvati Thakura said, “Don’t read the newspaper: nana kotha nana beta...(Prema-bhakti-candrika) There’s one song like this. If you see... just see if there’s anything necessary for me... not deeply plunging in to it... one or two hours lost. If you read newspapers at night you will see such things in dreams. Generally devotees should not read them.
Those who wanted to study the Vedas and become big panditas Sarasvati Thakura discouraged saying, sevonmukhe hi jihvadau... — You will understand Krishna by service. By your service God will be merciful to you and you will understand all the conclusions of scripture. Don’t waste your time being a pandita. It is like trying to take the torch at night to see the sun.” Of course, he wanted his disciples to know sastra, but if anyone had the attitude that let me be a pandita instead of learning and studying in the mood of submissive service, he would think that that was jnana and not bhakti. “Hear from the lips of a pure devotee. The guru will tell you which books to read, one by one. Those who will not read sastra they will be a sadhu. And on the other hand, if you do not read at all then you’ll be a sahajiya. Those who read without the instruction of guru, all kinds of different books, they will never get bhakti,” he said. So he saw not only what people were reading but how they were reading. He understood their mood. If they were reading for the purpose of self-purification and preaching, that he accepted.
There was one Shri Bhusana brahmacari, who was in the habit of bathing five times a day, from time to time washing his hands, whenever he went out anywhere he would come back and wash his lower legs and feet. SP wasn’t very pleased with this. He said that bathing is not our religion. Chanting the holy name is our religion. Don’t waste time. Keep you life very simple and spare time for chanting the holy names. Not spend so much time for bodily maintenance. bathing the body is required but not excessively. So one who keeps clean like that is suitable for arcana. So you do the arcana.
Once SP was talking to Jyotisekhara Prabhu and Jyotisekhara was noddinghis head as if in agreement, so SP asked him; “Are you simply nodding your head or do you understand actually what I say?” In this way he called Jyotisekhara’s attention to the fact that he should not just be in agreement with what the guru says, but should actually try to understand what he says also.
In Chuttak, when SP was there, generally, except in the time of public functions, he wouldn’t speak in the temple regular daily lecture but some other sannyasi or prominent devotee would. Now, one time, Jyotisekhara, when he was 16 or 17 years old, was sitting, playing the mrdanga drum in the Math during the kirtana and he was dozing off. At this time it seemed that SP was coming to give the lecture. So, Kirtana brahmacari, seeing Jyotisekhara dozing took the drum from him, thinking that now SP is coming so why should someone be dozing while playing the khol in his presence? SP saw that and asked that brahmacari why he had taken the khol from him. (Of course art that time Jyotisekhara hadn’t even taken initiation). Kirtana brahmacari then explained “Oh he is dozing.” So SP said to Jyotisekhara, “Don’t doze,” and he told that brahmacari, “Don’t take service away from someone else. If he is not doing properly you can encourage him and teach and enthuse him, but don’t take service away from another!”
One time, in the kirtana, Jyotisekhara was ringing the bell loudly during arati. SP admonished him and said, “You are inattentive. You are not thinking of the kirtana song. You are just intent on ringing the bell loudly,” and he quoted, “sankha bhaje ghanta bhaje, madhur madhur madhur bhaje” which means that in the time of Lord Chaitanya’s arati, the conch and the bell sound very sweet. So he was admonishing Jyotisekhara that simply on making a banging sound which wasn’t sweet for the Lord.
One time, during the parikrama of the Deities after the arati they would circumambulate the Deities, chanting kirtana. One time, SP noticed one devotee playing the khol who wasn’t chanting. It is very common in Bengal and Orissa that the khol player would play very elaborate beats and so would be concentrating very seriously on playing the khol, and therefore he doesn’t sing because it takes a lot of concentration to keep such intricate beats in time. So SP said, “No, the khol player should also sing while he is chanting. He should also chant while playing the mrdanga. Don’t just play the mrdanga. You should chant also!”
One time there was a festival at the Baghbazaar Gaudiya Math. One householder sat down to take prasadam, but one brahmacari admonished him, “You have only given such and such amount of money, but you have come with all your family members, five or six”. SP was present and he told that brahmacari, “Don’t count the number of people who come. He may give or not give. Don’t worry about that. Don’t count. Let all come and take prasad.” This householder and his whole family were all devotees, but he was not a very rich man, so SP admonished that brahmacari. SP considered the position of someone who gave a donation but didn’t come to take prasadam less fortunate than one who could not afford much of a donation but could come to take prasadam. Of course, distinction is made between devotees and non-devotees, if they come simply to fill their belly. Of course some ceremony then prasad is distribut4ed to everyone, but it wasn’t a standing rule that anyone and everyone could just come and fill their belly cheaply.
On the other hand, there is a story that occurred in 1933, in the Purushottam Math. There was an initiated devotee named Manik who was a householder. He lived outside and regularly came to take prasadam. One time SP said to him, “You should not eat prasadam but prasadam should eat you. Don’t come here for simply enjoying prasada. At least you should do some service if you are going to take prasada. Why are you coming to take prasada every day?” Instead of thinking of prasada as mercy he saw it as just food, and SP had noted this. What had actually happened was that many people were coming regularly like this to take prasada. Before this there had been two schools of thought amongst the devotees. One was, “I’m not going to give you any prasada. You are not serving here.” The other was, “No, no. Let everyone come and take prasada.” So the case of Manik was brought to the attention of SP as a kind of test case and this was his reaction.
One time, someone had come late at night, around 10.00pm, to the Math and requested prasada. The devotees who were engaged in the cooking said, “No, no. There is nothing left. It is all finished.” SP was chanting japa on the veranda close by and heard all this, so he said, “No, no. Give him some prasada. He has come late at night. Give him some flat-rice or something.”
The last time SP left Puri, shortly before his disappearance, after following the Karttika vows there, he was leaving in his car from the Math, when one disciple of his came and said, “What shall I do now that you are leaving.” SP said, “Hear the Bhagavat daily in the Math.” That was his advice.
SP read both C.C. and CB 108 times and told others to do likewise, expecting everyone to do that. Of course, it’s doubtful if anyone did, but the idea was meant to read again and again and absorb the mind in Gauranga. Just as Mahaprabhu liked to hear the stories of Dhruva and Prahlada Maharaja. SP said to read CB first then C.C., and then SB The reason being that CB is very easy reading for Bengali people because it has no difficult philosophy and is mostly lila. CC is also very attractive with some very difficult sections also. In the Shrimad Bhagavat the language is difficult Sanskrit.
Once, when Jyotisekhara was new in the Math, SP asked him whether he was reading CB. When he said “No”, Sarasvati Thakura told him that he should read it early in the morning, before mangala arati, at 5.00 a.m. “Starting from tomorrow, you read from 4.00am -5.00am. Read it clearly and loudly and it will clear any cough in your throat.” SP said that CB and CC, even though written in Bengali verse, are full of all satric conclusions, and he recommended them, along with SB, especially the sections on Dhruva Maharaja, Prahlada-carita, and Kapiladeva’s instructions. He recommended all of these to be read 100 times.
He did not recommend reading the gita and SB, but CB, except learned scholars, whom he would recommend to read the Bg and SB. For the ordinary Bengali he recommended CB and Krishna-prema-tarangini, a Bengali verse edition of SB by Bhagavatacarya, a disciple of Lord Chaitanya.
SP said that there were four books that every Gaudiya Vaishnava should read: Chaitanya Bhagavat, by Vrndavana dasa Thakura, Dasa-mula-siksa by Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Shri Krishna-bhajanamrta by Narahari Sarkara and Prema-bhakti-candrika by Narottama dasa Thakura. He said that Chaitanya Bhagavata should be read 100 times. Gaudiya Vaishnava scholars generally consider Chaitanya-charitamrita to be the most important biography of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, even more so than Chaitanya-Bhagavata, in as much as it deals with: (1) the philosophy of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in great detail and (2) the highest ecstasies of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, which are referred to only somewhat in Chaitanya-Bhagavata. SP himself would generally explain philosophy very deeply, but he said that Chaitanya-Bhagavata is more important than Chaitanya-charitamrita for the common man because it is a lila-grantha. Without describing so much about philosophy, it describes the lila of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and is therefore easy for the common man to follow and understand the philosophy, even though SP himself mostly explained philosophy, he said that philosophy is only for the greatly learned people, and for the common men Chaitanya-Bhagavata is more important, so he said, “Read Chaitanya-Bhagavata from time to time.” If anyone came to him he would ask them if they had read Chaitanya-Bhagavata. He often asked people this, including non-devotees. He recommended that for ordinary people, the first Vaishnava literature they read be Chaitanya-Bhagavata. This was of course, because he was preaching mostly in Bengal and Orissa, so this was special advice for them. He recommended to everyone to first read Chaitanya-Bhagavata, then Prema-bhakti-candrika, then Shrimad-Bhagavatam. He recommended that Prema-bhakti-candrika be translated and published and distributed in different languages of the world. He said that in Prema-bhakti-candrika all of the siddhantas of the Goswamis were expressed.
He told the sannyasis and brahmacaris, “Don’t keep many books with you. Don’t have big big libraries: Just three books. Three or four books are sufficient.”
Once, in Dhaka, he told Sundarananda Vidyavinoda to give a series of lectures on the Gita in colleges. Although generally he would have people go to the Bhagavatam or Vaishnava literatures immediately, of course the Gita is also a Vaishnava literature that is considered to be for beginners. Those books which deal exclusively with Bhakti and which are not used by other schools as the Gita is; that means the Chaitanya Bhagavat, as we discussed, Prema Bhakti Candrika, Shrimad Bhagavatam. These books SP recommended people to go to directly. However, we should always remember that SP is preaching in Orissa and Bengal, where most of the people who came to him already had some background, or at least some understanding of Vaishnava philosophy. His understanding was that the Gita was for the people in varnasrama; karmis, jnanis, yogis; then they may come to Bhakti. But in the case of the people amongst whom he was preaching, he wanted them to take directly to bhakti.
Once, at Baghbazaar, SP saw the devotees sitting and waiting for prasada. Kunjada had made a system whereby devotees who had taken diksa sat in a separate line from those who were only Harinama disciples. Seeing this SP said, “Those who are diksit, they are inferior to harinama”, though they were thinking diksit is superior. “They don’t believe the name and the named are non-different, nama namabhina. For them arcana is required.” He quoted so many things. Lord Chaitanya, in the Chaitanya Bhagavata, says: ihe hoite sarvasiddhi hoibe sabara: The Holy name alone can give perfection. Diksa purascarya apehsa na hare (CC Madhya 15.108). Chanting of the holy name is not dependent on brahminical initiation or anything else. Those who were diksit had been in the matha longer and therefore, they were thinking themselves superior.
SP was so strict that Jyotisekhara recalled that in the time of SP in the Gaudiya Math they had never seen the Rasa-grantha. That means that the books dealing with the intimate rasa pastimes of Radha and Krishna, such as Gita-Govinda, Govinda-Lilamrta, etc. His rule was not to read rasa-grantha. Even in the Chaitanya-charitamrita there are some sections which describe the feelings of rasa that Radharani is expressing for Krishna. SP said to his disciples, “Don’t read this section. It’s not for you. You are not at this stage!” Only one or two disciples who had been given Manjari svarupa were allowed to read it, but not publicly, only privately to themselves.
Conversation, 24 January, 1977: “My guru maharaja SP used to say that, `When our members become sahajiyas, they will be more dangerous.’”
Those who are outside and are sahajiyas, we know their position, they are not following any correct siddhanta or any proper acarya. So we know they are sahajiyas, and we avoid their association. But if someone, in the name of being a follower the proper acarya, if he’s also a sahajiya, if our own men become sahajiyas, in the guise of being bona fide followers of a proper acarya, then they are more dangerous, because, in the name of doing the right thing, they will be misleading people into doing the wrong thing.
One Gaudiya Math sannyasi was always preaching to others about hearing nicely while chanting japa. SP remarked, “He himself doesn’t hear properly when chanting, but he is preaching to himself.”
Sometimes SP would criticize the asrama saying, “Our asrama is like a joint-mess, a place just for eating and sleeping.’”
He used to visit his different Mathas, giving a lot of importance to hearing and chanting, but he found many times that the Math members were passing their time idly. SP used to quote from Bhaktivinoda Thakura, “khai daya para cinta nai — simply eating and sleeping, with no spiritual thoughts (Kalyana Kalpataru)”. He would note that their main activities were cooking, eating and washing the pots, then resting again, getting up, cooking, eating, washing the pots.
SP put more stress on kirtana, arcana, and seva. To newcomers he stressed, “First of all do sankirtana, chant the holy names.”
One brahmacari who worked in the garden as his service was illiterate. SP once asked him “What do you know of spiritual knowledge?” and he replied, “I am hearing you again and again in the class and whatever you are speaking I am trying to understand.” SP then asked him to speak something about spiritual knowledge, and even though illiterate, he spoke so many facts about spiritual knowledge, full with realization. SP then said to the devotees present, “This is proof of `sevonmukhe hi jihvadau — one can understand Krishna when he is blessed.’” So, by SP’s blessings, even an illiterate man can understand. this brings to mind the verse, “muckham karoti vacalam, pangum langhayate girim yat krpa tam aham vande, shri guroh dina taranam — I offer my obeisances to my guru, the deliverer of the fallen, by whose mercy a lame man can cross a mountain, or a dumb man can recite poetry” SP had asked him, “You just speak something you’ve learned from me,” and he spoke many things. SP said, “Just see. He’s not gone through any Vedanta sutra or Puranas, but he knows so many things. He does not know even how to speak Bengali very nicely but he knows so many siddhantas.”
Another illiterate devotee, Ghanasyama, SP asked him once, “Say something you have heard from me,” and he repeated so many things. SP then said, “just see. Even great panditas cannot understand what I am saying, but here he is, illiterate, and he’s understanding. He is able to say so many things.”
One day SP explained the difference between krpa and daya, which both mean “mercy.” Daya — to see someone in a difficult situation and to give him something, but krpa means ahaituki, or causeless mercy; three’s no particular reason why the recipient should get that mercy, but anyway, by the causeless mercy of the Lord or His devotees, even an unworthy or unsparing candidate is blessed with that mercy, without any condition: “ha ha prabhu nityananda premananda sukhi, krpa balo kana koro ami boro duhkhi...” from Narottama dasa’s song. He is praying that Nityananda will give His glance of causeless mercy upon him. That is from the song starting, “shri krishna chaitanya prabhu daya kora more....” If one can get that mercy then the siddhantas, or the conclusions of devotional service will come to you automatically. And because the great panditas, who have studied the sastra very deeply don’t have this krpa, they cannot come to the correct conclusion. Whereas, those who are even illiterate, if they get this krpa, they can explain all the deep meanings of the sastra, even without studying them.
SP did not like devotees or anyone making their own arrangements for comfort and everything else. His motto was “krishnarthe akhila cestitam” — from Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, meaning “Everything should be done for the sake of Krishna.”
SP himself was the embodiment of this saying, and was always busy in satisfying Krishna in different ways. There were several mottos SP used to quote like this, again and again, which were the guiding principles of his life and those around him. “samsiddhir hari tosanam — the perfection of life is to satisfy Lord Hari,” was another and “kirtaniya sada hari,” etc.
If SP saw someone doing service in the Math like cleaning, but he wasn’t chanting, he’d say, “You should chant when you do this. Always chant the names of Lord Shri Hari.”
SP said that three of the ten offenses while chanting the holy name were very difficult to give up:
Committing sins on the strength of the holy name — (#7).
Giving up the concept of “I” and “mine” — (#10).
“These are possible to give up only by guru krpa,” he said.
One devotee heard SP saying we should cry for Krishna so he told SP he couldn’t cry for Krishna. “I don’t have that feeling. I tried but I can’t cry,” he said. SP then said, “Crying for Krishna is absolutely necessary. If you cannot cry then at least you should cry that you cannot cry.”
SP also said that women are on the level of jungle men, or wild people, meaning aborigines. He warned that women generally cannot go to a very high level of consciousness, so he warned that though their words may be sweet, their hearts are very hard. This of course, is from sastra. SP many times warned against association with women. In CB he gave a ten page purport on big sized pages, about the dangers of associating with those who are attached to women. This was the purport to the Bengali verse, “muni gana dustha sanga kori nanandan”. In this long purport SP gives so many quotes from scriptures warning about the dangers of associating with women.
In SP’s Gaudiya Bhasya commentary, he always discouraged the association of women within the Math also. They could come and visit and take darsana etc., but not intimately mix-up. They should keep away from the place of cooking, because that’s the extension of the Deity service. Very strict16.
Of course, even in many Gaudiya Math temples, maybe because they are so short of manpower or whatever, they also have women, at least cutting the vegetables and this and that, and also sometimes cooking, I’ve seen. Some centers maintain more strict standards than others. they had a division system, where a screen was put so that the women might have been able to see the men but the men could not see the women. When spreading out the carpet to sit on they would not allow the men and women to sit near each other on it.
SP many times quoted the SB verse from the 9th canto, which is also in Manu samhita, matrasva svasi hit travan... — even a learned person shouldn’t sit close to his mother, daughter, or sister, because the senses are so strong that they can agitate the mind even of a learned person.
Once, Jyotisekhara was chanting japa on his beads and he asked SP how his mind could be fixed on the name. SP said, “The name is full of all potencies. He is God Himself, so utter loudly and hear simultaneously. If you actually do that, chant and hear, then you will see how you will get the result. You will experience. If you chant and actually hear, it will not take a long time before you become Krishna conscious: `jei nama sei krishna bhaja nistha kari — that name is Krishna. Worship the name with firm faith. And SP said, “You chant 100,000 names (64 rounds) every day.” Jyotisekhara said, “How is it possible? We have so many duties. We have to attend the temple functions and go outside for preaching. There’s so many things to do.” SP then said, “Well at least try to chant 32 rounds (50,000 names) a day.”
SP explained that seva (service) and mala (chanting) are non different. “Service to guru is service to Krishna. Even if you do not 64 rounds, if you are fully engaged, that is all right. But your lakhya should be one lakh. Your aim should be to chant one lakh of names. In Bengali lakhya means “aim.” A lakhya should be to chant one lakh. And your aim should be also service to Hari, guru and Vaishnavas. And sometimes if you are so busy and have no time to chant on your mala at all in the day, then at night, instead of going to take rest, then you chant. In the daytime you should be busy in service. If you cannot finish your prescribed japa then sleep less and chant. Do not increase your time for sleeping, increase your time for chanting.” SP also said that serving Hari, guru and Vaishnavas is more important than chanting 64 rounds. “Unless you do service your so much chanting will be meaningless,” he said. SP himself, didn’t chant 64 rounds every day, according to Jyotisekhara.
Bhaktivinoda’s sister, that is the pisima (aunt) of SP, used to live near Bhaktivinoda’s house in Swarup Ganj and would sometimes come to see SP. However, SP wasn’t very interested and didn’t keep connection with relatives, and very much disliked his brahmacaris and sannyasis keeping up their family relationships. “Forget them: Don’t remain entangled!” he used to instruct. When a letter came from home to a brahmacari or sannyasi SP would say “This is a letter from maya!” And when the mother and father came looking for their son and the mother was crying, he would say “These are tears of maya!”
“Don’t write letters home to your family. That is writing to maya. When you take the red cloth that means you have cut connection with the world. That is the color of Brahma (brahmajyoti also means reddish). You are a brahmacari. Remain always spiritual. Brahme carati iti brahmacarya -- Brahmacarya means to remain in brahma (spiritual atmosphere)”.
There are many big rivers in Bengal, such as the Ganga, Padma, Meghna, Teesta, Brahmaputra, Jamuna, and especially in East Bengal, much of the travel is done by boat. You’ll travel from one town or village to another going by steamer or launch, is as common, if not more so than going by bus or train, especially in east Bengal, where there is the Ganga delta and other big rivers. So SP instructed his disciples, as many of them would be out traveling preaching, going by boat. He told them, “When you go on the river you should be respectful to the river. Don’t think of them as ordinary rivers: They are all personalities. they’re all great devotees. Just as Ganga is a great devotee of the Lord. So, for instance, you shouldn’t take any food with you. that may be maha-prasada, but if you leave any remnants, then it becomes your remnants. You cannot keep your remnants on the river. Also , if there is any left-over leaf-plate, anything, you can’t throw that in the river. Even if you have to wash your hands, if that is done in the river then that is your remnants being washed in the river. So better you do not eat at all on the boat as far as possible.” In this way, SP was always teaching the finer points of bhakti. He also taught that before entering a holy river for taking bath, you should bow down, offer pranams, take some of the water on your head, and in this way remember that this is not just an ordinary river but a very holy one.
BST: “I’m speaking, you are hearing, but there is a gap between us!”17
Sarasvati Thakura’s sannyasis would also sometimes give alms to the poor, considering them antaryami prerita — sent by the Supersoul.
At Chotimangalapur, the ancestral property of Bhaktivinoda Thakura, it was divided into three parts, according to his will: one part going to Sarasvati Thakura, one part to Lalita Prasada, and the other part to the rest of the brothers. Sarasvati Thakura visited Chotimangalapur many times.
While still living in Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s house and before he started the Chaitanya Math, Sarasvati Thakura spent some months living in Radha-Ramana Temple in Vrindavan (the living quarters for the families of the priests engaged in worshipping the prominent Deities of Vrindavan are called “Temple.” Hence the names Radha-Ramana-Temple, Madana-Mohan Temple, etc.). This was because Bhaktivinoda Thakura traveled extensively with several of the Goswamis from Radha-Ramana-Temple, including Madhusudana Goswami. Bhaktivinoda Thakura, along with Bimala Prasad, traveled with these Goswamis all over North India, holding public meetings to present the Vaishnava siddhanta and giving lectures in various places, defeating groups like the Brahma samaja. They also spoke against the Arya Samaja idea, which states that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was an ordinary man. Bhaktivinoda Thakura would often go on horseback from place to place for preaching also.
In Madras, SP noted that the ladies of one particular caste always used to tie their saris with a kach just as a brahmacari does with his dhoti, leaving a little bit tucked in the back. So the actual Vedic method for wearing a sari with the kutch is how they dressed. SP said to the devotees who were a little bit surprised to see the women wearing saris like this that was the Vedic method. He also noted that the brahmana thread was not previously used , but only the dhoti and chadar, but later, because people might not wear the chadar, they would wear the uparita to signify they had an upper cloth. uparita means brahmana thread, it doesn’t mean a piece of thread, but means going close to the guru). In South India, at least at that time, you could see who was a brahmana because they would only wear a dhoti and chadar, the chadar being folded on their shoulders, with the rest of the chest and back bare, as well as the arms, and the sacred thread. So SP explained these things about the brahmana dress of South India to his disciples when he was visiting Madras. This just shows his vast scope of sastric and Vedic cultural knowledge.
He used to say that anyone who was not taking urad dahl, must be taking fish secretly. This was because, when urad dahl is cooked in certain ways, especially if it’s made into bora a kind of fried preparation, it tastes similar to fish, and the Bengalis are very fond of fish. SO, most of the devotees who had joined the Math must have been fish-eaters before they joined. So he said this in a kind of joking manner: “Anyone who’s not eating urad dahl, who doesn’t like it, must be eating fish secretly.”
At the time of his departure from this world he recited Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s Bengali verse version of ceto darpana marjanam verse, as if to instruct his disciples that, “I have brought you such a great thing which was meant for your purification but you have not become purified. And this second verse, amo tu daive name na hoy laruch — I didn’t get any taste for the holy name. He banged his head while saying this. Banging his head means he struck his own head with his hand. He quoted Bhaktivinoda’s Bengali verse reedition of Siksamrta, 2.
Once Sarasvati Thakura described that in arati you should see the Deity, hear the arati song, and, according to the song, you should see the arati. This means that just like we have jaya jaya gauracandra aratike sobha, etc., so when that line is sung, seeing Lord Chaitanya, thinking how Lord Chaitanya arati is going on, on the bank of the Jahnavi, attracting the minds of all the universe, like this line by line you should meditate on the song and the Deity.
In Mayapur, on Gaura purnima, he had a professional drama group perform some drama, just like popular Bengali religious dramas: Haricandra, and Nimai Sannyasa (names of two popular dramas) to attract people to come to Mayapur, but he said that the devotees shouldn’t see this. The idea was that at the time Mayapur wasn’t so well known, so just to attract people to come and establish Mayapur as a place of pilgrimage he did this, but he didn’t approve of it intrinsically. That’s why he said the devotees shouldn’t see it. He called the brahmacaris and told them: “This is not for you to see. It is only an attraction for the public.”
Fighting in the Math
Concerning the mission, he said, “If there is no good soul in the mission I don’t want it. I don’t want bad `cows’ in the mission. If there are some bad `cows’ who harm others I don’t like them, and there is no need for them. One `cow’ is sufficient if it is a good one: dusta goru chaye khali gohal bhalo — Better to have an empty cowshed than a troublesome cow’. We want living source not so-called sannyasis. If our mission will not flourish with living source then stone and brick we’ll distribute to the poor. Let-out the temple to the poor. Rent it out. Distribute the bricks for one rupee each!” This was said in Baghbazaar when many devotees were fighting amongst themselves. “koriachalam sannyasi hoy... — I’ve made them sannyasis but they’ve simply become sense enjoyers,” he would say many times.
After 1933, he traveled throughout India and preached extensively but only made a few new temples. At this time his disciples began quarreling amongst themselves, so he tried to pacify them and rectify the situation. He also wrote articles like: “bhalo ami-boro ami — Don’t be boro (big), be bhalo (good); Vani (instruction), Vapuh (Personal presence of the guru)”, Vani O Vapuh (A dissertation on the relative importance of a service to the instruction of the guru and personal service to the guru, and preaching vs. fund-raising, organization, and management.
Book Production, distribution
Sarasvati Thakura would say, “I don’t read the book, I read the author. I first see the author to see if he’s authentic or not. I am a proof-reader. I always see what is right and what is wrong. My father trained me in proof-reading, but I am not only a proof-reader of the press I am a proof-reader of the world. I proof-read men: I see their faults and try to correct them. I am a proof-reader of religion also. I have appeared in karkata-lagna; so whenever I see anything nondevotional I will act like a karkata (a crab). If I see any so-called devotion which is not actually in the true unalloyed spirit, I shall pierce it!”
SP was publishing magazines in various language, including: English, Assamese, Hindi, Bengali, Oriyan, and one Bengali daily — Nadia Prakash. Sometimes people would not send in their subscriptions and the devotees would complain to SP, asking whether to stop supplying them or not. He would then become very angry and ask them, “Are you commercially hired fools? No! Supply them free.”
His general health was good, although he would sometimes fall sick a little bit now and then, but on the whole there was no particular sickness.
History of the Gaudiya Math
Even though so many of Sarasvati Thakura’s disciples split away from the original mission and made their own mission, still none of them ever became sahajiyas, mayavadis, or anything like that. None of them ever decried Sarasvati Thakura.
Preaching in India
Sarasvati Thakura related a story on the train once to the devotees: There was once a mayavadi, or a brahma upasaka — one who worships the impersonal brahmana as the Absolute. He gave a loan to a man but could not recover that loan, despite requesting him many times. Therefore he took him to court. This is a story from Madras. In the court the man who took the money said, “You are brahma, I am brahma. What is the difference, money is with brahma?”
Different sampradayas such as Ramanuja and Madhva, present Vaisnavism differently. Sarasvati Thakura explained that just as there are many sweets like rasagulla, sweet-rice, laddu, etc. But the difference in Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s cult is that He gave sweets full of vitamins. Just as Radha gave Krishna the best sweets, full of vitamins, and also the most palatable.
In Bombay, a man who had no son worshipped Kartikkeya. When a son was born he did Kartikkeya puja with very great pomp, but after one year that son died, so the man destroyed his deity of Kartikkeya. Sarasvati Thakura heard about this and commented: “This is just like the Satya Narayana puja. You accept Satya Narayana if he gives you something, but if you don’t get something then you call him mithya Narayana. Don’t make God your order supplier. Become the servant of God.”
Dandapani Prabhu remembers that on Gaura purnima, at the Visva Vaishnava Raja Sabha (universal conference of devotees, mentioned by Jiva Goswami in his writings, and actually organized by Sarasvati Thakura), Sarasvati Thakura and other sannyasis would speak. Sarasvati Thakura would repeatedly talk on acintya-bheda-abheda-tattva.
Once, in Baleshvar, Orissa, a yatra achatra group invited him to attend their performance, but he didn’t go. He said, “We don’t want yatra chaitanya. We want real Chaitanya.”
On the seashore in Puri one pandita asked, “Why are you chanting harinama so much, one lakh plus every day?” Sarasvati Thakura then gave the example of the student writing ABC, as a young child, and when quite some years older, also doing geometry. The grandmother sees in the geometry equation, ABC, “Oh, you’re still doing the same thing when you were five years old. Now you’re fifteen and still doing ABC.” She doesn’t understand how it appears to be the same thing as when he was ve3ry young, but actually he’s advanced so much with a scholarship. This high-level post-graduate religion is chanting Hare Krishna. You do not understand that. You chant the names of your children every day and don’t get tired, so when we chant the names of Krishna out of love we should not be tired. That pandita was thinking harinama was a very basic practice, not for advanced people. Nama gane sada ruci — we want to chant more and more.
In 1932, a few college students came to Baghbazaar Gaudiya Math. They said to Sarasvati Thakura, “We are doing sin. We know it is not good but commit sin again and again. We commit and again we repent. Why are we doing like this from time to time?” Sarasvati Thakura then replied, “It is hrdaya daurbalyam — weakness of the heart. Your conscience is not so strong. Your discrimination is not so strong, therefore you are committing sins from time to time. Whenever you mix with a Krishna conscious sadhu he’s influence will be injected into you. At that time the heart will be purified. Alone you cannot overcome sin. By sadhu sanga, by sadhu krpa you can overcome it. Sadhu sanga is absolutely necessary to overcome sin; alone you cannot do.”
In those early days, BBP and others used to preach by walking from village to village between Krishnanagar and Calcutta. They would beg a little rice and eat it with wild spinach. SP started his mission with practically no funds. Later, when the GM was established at Baghbazaar, it became fantastically prosperous. Huge funds were coming in, wonderful festivals were held, books were printed, many devotees joined, were maintained and went out for preaching.
The Gaudiya Math was preaching up a storm, with sannyasis going here and there, place to place. as a result, so many brahmacaris joined.
In the early days of the GM the financial condition was very poor, but SP never worried about money. Later, the preaching activities of the GM expanded greatly and much money came. SP seemed to have a mystic power: whenever money was needed for a project it would come, although no-one could foresee where it would come from.
Once, SP said, "Now we have defeated all the bogus philosophies of the bogus sampradayas. Now we should come to the conclusion of our siddhanta (philosophy) and spread the chanting of the holy names widely."
So-called educated people would sometimes come to challenge SP: "Why are you preaching? What is the use? Your ideas are wrong!" Once, a group of about a dozen university professors came to Baghbazaar Gaudiya Math, wanting to challenge. SP said, "Whatever questions you put I am prepared to answer, but first you must listen to me speak for at least one hour, without interrupting." They all agreed. SP then spoke for one and half hours continuously. He conclusively covered the whole scope of Vaishnava philosophy, extensively quoting from sastra and from the acaryas. By the time he had finished, the professors found that all their questions were answered. They then left without saying anything more, astonished at the depth of SP's learning.
When Sarasvati Thakura went outside for preaching, especially in the villages, throngs of people would converge on him, wanting to touch his feet. The devotees would form a ring around him to prevent the people jostling him or touching his feet. In their excitement the villagers would usually forget the correct protocol, in their eagerness to get the darsana and dust of a great devotee. They would sometimes become almost wild in their excitement, so the devotees would protect Sarasvati Thakura by forming a ring around him.
Generally Sarasvati Thakura preferred preaching to educated people in towns rather than in villages. However, then, as now, village people in India tended to be more religious and enthusiastic to receive sadhus. They could not understand his scholarly speeches, but were simply happy to have the darsana of such a great personality.
Sarasvati Thakura said, "There are sixty theories I do not like in India," and he then gave a list of sixty prominent theories at that time. He wrote an article, "Sampradayik Samanyata" in Bastam Parliament, which used the idea of a court to test all these different theories. There was the defendant and there was the pleader? He gave Manu and Vyasa the roles of Chief Justices, and Smarta Raghunandana was the opposition pleader, etc.
He used to read the newspaper everyday and would sometimes quote some incident from it in his preaching.
Sarasvati Thakura was never fond of lonely places, and always liked to be talking to people about Krishna, being the ideal of a gosthyanandi.
He would travel, along with his sannyasis and senior devotees, from place to place, giving highly learned discourses on subjects with titles such as "Shri Bhasya", and "Anubhasya", "Acintya bheda abheda tattva and Visistadvaita", "Shrimad Bhagavatam and Mayavada", "Shridhara Swami and Mayavada", etc.
He didn't like that devotees would spend a long time in Deity worship and said, "Do it, but also go outside to meet others for preaching." He didn't like that they would be in the temple all the time. His aim was to see everyone go out and preach, which he was very interested in. Because they had many devotees going daily door to door, gradually many gentlemen accepted the doctrine propagated by them. Sarasvati Thakura would say that it is our duty to knock on every door. "They may or may not like to hear, but it is our duty to call on them and speak the message of Lord Chaitanya," he would say.
Sarasvati Thakura was fond of speaking to the educated class of people. He didn't generally speak in mass meetings of less-educated people, but was very fond of distributing prasadam to village people and such types. The Gaudiya Math would arrange some prasadam distribution, and he would go amongst the people when they were taking prasadam and say, "Oh, are you taking prasadam. Have you taken to your satisfaction? Are you getting enough? Is it cooked nicely? Are you enjoying nicely? etc." Sometimes he would also lecture amongst the masses, but his language was not understandable by them. It was an unusual language and no one else spoke in such a manner. Only those who became his disciples picked it up, but otherwise, his style of speaking was so scholarly and at the same time had such a powerful transcendental message. No one ever spoke the way he did.
The Jata Gosais and Brijbasis had the practice of giving manjari svarupa and a manjari name at the time of initiation. Form the very beginning, their initiates would claim to have understood their position as a Manjari, intimate gopi assistants of Shrimati Radharani. Sarasvati Thakura did not approve of such a process and would say, "First chant the name of Gauranga. After getting the mercy of Lord Chaitanya there will be anartha nivritti. Then there is the possibility of artha pravriti. Anartha nivritti means to get rid of all the bad things in the heart, and artha pravriti means to enter into, or develop ones actual goal of life. Those who do not obey Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, their claims of being Manjaris and their worship of Radharani is all false." He wrote "Prakrta-rasa-satadusani — One hundred faults of the prakrta sahajiyas".
Sarasvati Thakura once challenged a Jata Gosai, who was coming from the bazaar holding a fish: "You are a guru — a Goswami; how can you take fish!" The man then replied, "This is Ganga phala, fruit of the Ganga." Sarasvati Thakura later commented on this, saying, "They are heartless creatures. They have got many disciples. They are all eating fish — Ganga phala."
During Kartika, Sarasvati Thakura went to Radha Kunda, where he stayed for some days, giving classes. In the beginning babajis were coming. Maybe they thought that here was such a famous devotee of Krishna, surely at Radha kunda he's going to speak on some highly exalted subject matter like Radha Krishna and the gopis, which they all liked to hear18.
Sarasvati Thakura stood against the saktas, the worshippers of Kali and Durga. In 1934, on the day of Kali-puja, he went to Dakhineshvar, on the outskirts of Calcutta, where there is a famous Kali temple, and told the people there not to do offering of goats and other animals for sacrifice. As a result, many temples gradually gave up doing this bali-dhan, because many people, with the exception of the priests, appreciated Sarasvati Thakura's full explanation of why this should not be done. He explained that a Vaishnava is a real sakta because he knows who is sakti and who is saktiman.
One time Sarasvati Thakura came to Vrindavan in his very nice "Ambassador" car, with a driver and assistants, Piyari Brahmacari and Krishnananda Brahmacari. The two brahmacaris were dressed in three-piece suits, and Mocha Singh was by his side, dressed very luxuriously, and brandishing a gun. The Brajabasis said, "This is not the proper way to come to Vrindavan. You are spoiling the spiritual atmosphere!" Sarasvati Thakura then replied, "You are all imitating Rupa Goswami. I have not come to imitate him, but to establish his actual mission. I have come to re-establish the spiritual atmosphere which has been disturbed by the false imitators."
For preaching, Sarasvati Thakura would sometimes wear shoes, coats, etc., and had servants, a watchman, a car, etc. The Jata Gosais often criticized him for this, but they were adhyakikata, seeing by the eyes only. A sadhu is adhoksaja, not understandable by material eyes, but the critisizer is adhyakikata, seeing through worldly vision. In Shrivasa Angan, Sarasvati Thakura cited some examples to explain this point: "Shrivasa, Shrinidhi, Shripati, and Shriram — these were four brothers. Malini was the wife of Shrivas, whose aunt was always criticizing Lord Chaitanya, saying, `He's coming here everyday with His kirtana — it is not required.' One day after a try Lord Chaitanya told Shrivas, "Here is some nondevotee, therefore I cannot chant." Shrivas then found his aunt, hiding under a rice basket, so he pulled her out by the hair and threw her out. Vasudeva also told Kamsa, `I had a girl child,' so he was lying for the sake of Krishna. The moralist will call Vasudeva a liar, but the moralist and the critisizer cannot understand the sadhu.
"One time, a brahmacari came to Shrivas Angan, and Lord Chaitanya asked Shrivas who he was. Shrivas said that he was a pure brahmacari, who eats only fruits and milk. He is a brahmacari from birth and is very pure. Shri Chaitanya said `Drive him away. Just taking milk doesn't make one a brahmacari. He is a moralist, but he is an atheist.'“ These were some examples that Sarasvati Thakura gave, and can be found in his boktritabali, collected lectures.
In Vrindavan Sarasvati Thakura liked to speak of Gauranga and in Navadvipa about Krishna and Vrndavana lila, but during urjavrata, wherever he was, he spoke mostly of Radha.
Prabhupada’s Letter, 6/22/70: "One of our Godbrothers was chanting in a solitary place without any responsibility for preaching work, and my spiritual master was not very satisfied with him."
On Ekadashi, some devotees remained in the Math, fasting, but one sannyasi, Ashram Maharaja, took Ekadashi prasadam and went out preaching. Sarasvati Thakura commented on this, saying, "He has understood the principle of the Gaudiya Math."
A magistrate came to the Gaudiya Math and said, "You go and preach in the hilly places and convert the jungle tribes to Hinduism and Vaisnavism." Sarasvati Thakura replied, "Dictating or commanding to forcefully convert others is not our process. To turn a Christian into a Hindu, or a Hindu into Christian is not our goal. Everyone is the son of God, so we should explain to them their actual position, or svarupa — `jivera svarupa haya krsner nitya dasa' We should explain to them about the soul, not try to convert a Christian to a Hindu or vice versa. We are not preaching in this spirit. We are concerned with the soul and not with any sectarian matter. The Arya Samaja, they are trying to make Hindus out of Christians, not us." He was then asked, "Why do you preach to scholars and in Universities?" to which he answered, "If we go to ordinary people then people will say this is choba lokera dharma, this is religion for the small people, or the low classes, unimportant people. Yad yad acarati sresthas (Bg 3.21) -- we should preach to the leaders and others will follow."
Once, Sarasvati Thakura was invited to speak at a Rama temple in Puri. There was a Ramanandi sannyasi19 living there and Sarasvati Thakura had some discussion with him. This sannyasi said Rama was greater than Krishna, as He was more moral and ethical. Sarasvati Thakura replied, "Krishna is the avatari, the source of all other incarnations." When Sarasvati Thakura delved more deeply into his philosophical concepts he found him to be not a Vaishnava but a Mayavadi, wanting to become one with Rama.
One mayavadi sannyasi came and put some questions to Sarasvati Thakura, who replied, "Triputivinasa — you do not believe in the three things: the Seer (drsta), the seen (drsya), and seeing (darsana). Also, you do not accept bhakta, bhakti, bhagavan, vakta (speaker), srota (hearer), and bhasa (speech). So why are you asking me questions if you don't believe that there is a speaker, a hearer, and the subject matter? It is outside your theory, but we say `Suka uvaca', `Pariksit uvaca'. It is in our line."
When meeting with a sadhu, Sarasvati Thakura would generally ask him what his parampara was, and if not in a bona fide one, didn't like to discuss with him. He wouldn't take prasada at such a place either where there was no bona fide sadhu.
One headmaster came to Sarasvati Thakura in Mayapur once, and told him, "You are talking very great things, but we are now in a hellish condition. Please give us a simple process which we can easily follow. All this giving up of fish and flesh is very difficult for us. We are conditioned souls." Sarasvati Thakura then said, "Yes, you are in the well; but you should come out of the well, I should not go into the well. Do not say that it should be so easy and simple. You come to me. I should not go down — you should come up. You stretch up your hand and I'll pull you up. Do not try to pull me down to hell. We cannot give up our essential practices and allow you to eat fish and flesh. Why should we go to hell? You come up."
On one occasion Sarasvati Thakura had arranged a meeting in the temple and had chairs set up in the Natha Mandira. This was against all rules, as chairs weren't allowed in the Natha Mandira, but for the preaching function he arranged it like that.
Some gentlemen were coming wearing trousers and shirts, so it would be difficult for them to sit, so he arranged chairs. The idea of not having chairs is so as your legs are not stretched out in front of the Deity. That is against the rules. But Sarasvati Thakura thought that we have to find a suitable means so that they could hear and be benefited. Also, at this meeting, Sarasvati Thakura himself sat on a chair in front of a table, in front of the Deities.
The district judge in Cuttack asked Sarasvati Thakura why he was arranging such a nice temple in the city. "Why don't you concentrate on preaching in the backward areas, in the hill areas of Orissa?" he said. "Generally the rishis and munis make their asramas in the forests, why don't you? They would have a simple arrangement for bhajana. why are you hear in the city with such a nicely built temple with all facilities?" he further inquired. Sarasvati Thakura replied, "We are not the bhajananandi sadhu. We should use all modern facilities and technological advantages and preach amongst the educated people door to door. We should preach first of all to the merchants, rich men, educated men. If we can convince them, all the other people, the less educated, the poor class, they will automatically follow. Now, traditionally, sadhus don't like to go to rich men or kings, but our duty should be that to get to these people. The time will come when all of India will follow my message. If we simply go to the hills for our own bhajana, or if we simply go amongst the less-educated classes, our preaching will not be as effective. We have to see how people will be benefited. That is our thought."
In Orissa, Sarasvati Thakura mostly lectured in Bengali and occasionally in Oriyan, but his Oriyan was not so good.
In Chuttak there is a place called Mitra Kuti a residential house where Sarasvati Thakura stayed and spoke Hari katha. One Munshi, judicial officer, caused a disturbance with a question in the middle of the talk, to which Sarasvati Thakura told him, "Please don't disturb now. I'll answer your question after the lecture." After the lecture was over Sarasvati Thakura requested him, "Now please ask your question," to which the Munshi said he had forgotten it. Sarasvati Thakura then said, chastizingly, "Questions are not meant to be asked out of curiosity, but are meant to be serious! If the question was serious then you would not have forgotten it." Then he gave the example of Tapana Misra, who approached Chaitanya Mahaprabhu asking, sadhya sadhanath tapta what means “what is the goal of life and how to attain it?”.
Once, there was an article in an English newspaper entitled "Math O Ashrama", which said that one should be a grhastha before taking sannyasa. Sarasvati Thakura, who was staying in Cuttack at the time, heard of this article and said that it was against the scriptures and that the sastras say that whenever the consciousness is there you can take sannyasa. He became like fire and told Jyotisekhara to write an article against this, in the Paramarthi, the Gaudiya Math Oriya magazine. "Why can't a brahmacari take sannyasa? Why must he be a grhastha? A brahmacari must be a sannyasi!" he retorted.
Once, at an arranged public program in Chuttak, when the king of Orissa came, Sarasvati Thakura asked Ananta Vasudeva to sing "Shri Vraja-dhama-mahimamrta" which describes Vrindavan, Radha kunda, Govardhana hill, etc. Sarasvati Thakura later explained these topics in his room.
In Puri, a man came to Sarasvati Thakura and said, "When you are preaching, when you are speaking to me, please give examples from the Vedas, not the Puranas, not from Chaitanya Bhagavata, not from all these different books." Sarasvati Thakura then said, "Why? The Puranas are more essential than the Vedas. When the Vedas do not explain a point, the Puranas will explain. Without the Puranas the Vedas have no value. You must accept the Puranas. Purana means `that which makes complete.'" This gentleman accepted this version.
In Calcutta one pandita came and said to Sarasvati Thakura that many great personalities in the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition, such as Candidas, Jayadeva, Vidyapati, and even Lord Nityananda, had married. According to he sahajiyas, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu mixed with Shati, the daughter-in-law of Sarvabhauma. Even Rupa and Sanatana had women, according to sahajiya books which attempt to justify the mixing of them with women. Sarasvati Thakura replied to this saying, "It is quite impossible. Lives of the acaryas are very pure. They do not keep any women with them, so you are telling a lie." Many men of Bengal, many sahajiyas, write books with these things written. It is a wrong opinion, with no evidence. They may concoct some "evidence" but it is all simply enviousness, in order to justify their sexual activities in the garb of devotees. Lord Nityananda and many others did have wives, but they did not have mundane lusty sexual affairs with them. The sahajiyas claims that Lord Chaitanya, Rupa, Sanatana, and others, mixed with women, are simply malicious lies.
When Madana Mohan Malviya talked about varnasrama dharma, Sarasvati Thakura said, "I have come to establish daivi varnasrama dharma. Now India is full of asuri varnasrama dharma." After people took diksa, Sarasvati Thakura didn't see their worldly caste. He told Madana Mohan Malviya, "Don't see the caste of the devotees; yatha kancanatam yati kansan rasa vidhanatah tatha diksa vidhanena dvijatvan jayate nrnam; according to this sloka anyone from any background can become twice-born by the process of initiation." Madana Mohan Malviya liked Sarasvati Thakura and came to see him many times, and, on his invitation, Sarasvati Thakura often spoke in Benares Hindu University.
Sarasvati Thakura wanted to preach in South India and Vrindavan, but he left this world ten years early. In the south he wanted to establish Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's footprints at all places; he only did so in three places -Kurmaksetra, Singhacalam, and Kavoor. He liked South India, because it is a place of devotion, and wanted big temples there, like the one at Baghbazaar.
Once, in South India, Madras, in a lecture at the Gaudiya Math, he said that in South India people know arcana but not kirtana, and that they know Vishnu, Vasudeva, Kurma, Nrsimha, Narayana, etc., but not Radha Krishna.
Sarasvati Thakura said, "I will come again and pick up those devotees of mine who do not go back to Godhead — those who do not complete their bhajana. At that time I shall also fulfill my desire to preach in South India and Vrindavan. I shall establish many pada-pithas of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, so that people in future will know that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came to all these places." There were two South Indian devotees, Jagannatha and one lady devotee, and Sarasvati Thakura used to tell them that in South India they know arcana but not kirtana.
Sarasvati Thakura especially spoke in South India against Mayavada, as traditional Mayavada is particularly strong there.
In South India Sarasvati Thakura also visited Shringeri Math, the place of Sankaracarya, and had some discussion with the Mayavadis there. He also took some photos there to print in the Gaudiya. This is when he went to Mysore. At this time he also visited Udupi and discussed with the followers of Madhvacarya. His discussion with the Shringeri followers of Sankaracarya didn't result in much, because they weren't very serious to discuss. They are all mixed up with so many politicians and so many social functions, so they could not discuss very seriously. All these big religious leaders at that time were interested to mix with Jawarharlal Nehru, Gandhi, and other important men.
Once, SP desired to preach in Mysore, presently part of Karnataka state, South India. He wrote a letter to the king of Mysore requesting him to make all arrangements. Unfortunately, that letter came into the hands of a Muslim minister of the king, who, not wanting such a program to take place, failed to deliver it to the king. This happened twice. Fortunately, SP's third letter to the king of Mysore came into the hands of a Hindu minister, who delivered it to the king. The king immediately replied through this minister that he had not received the two previous letters and would be very happy to host such a program. SP performed this function in grand style. Many of the leading devotees of the GM were present, but SP wanted Kunja Babu present also. So he sent a telegram to Calcutta to call him. Kunja Babu arrived within three to four days. SP asked him how he had managed to come so quickly. After all, he had responsible duties as a post office employee. KB replied, "I am always ready for your service. I perform my office duties well in advance so that if I ever need leave at short notice, I get sanction very easily.
In 1933, in Mayapur, at Bhakti Vijaya Bhavan, he explained about the harijanas, saying, "Those devoted to God are harijana. Why are they untouchable?" Then he explained that the word "jayanti" should not be used for anything else except in relation to "Krishna-jayanti" or "Gaura-jayanti" (Krishna's or Gauranga's appearance day) In this way, Sarasvati Thakura, with his sharp vision and understanding, found out everything that was wrong in the world and pointed it out.
Knowing that not everyone would come forward for harinama initiation, Sarasvati Thakura said that even if people chanted without taking harinama, they should be encouraged to continue. "If they are chanting without other motives, that is namabhasa. They may have taken the name from some sadhu, but if you chant having taken the name from a pure devotee, that is suddha nama," he said. "However," he continued, "The professional singers — better that they be stopped. They're not chanting `Hari Hari', but `Money Money'; simply increasing their bile secretion, which is harmful for the body .
One man came from Mednapur asking for help, because a famine was taking place at the time. Sarasvati Thakura replied, "There is a famine of food and people suffer, but because there is a famine of Hari-katha, people are suffering more. I am preaching in the world because I see a famine of Hari-katha. You should help me; I should not help you. Lord Chaitanya said to do para-upakara."
Once, at Ravenshaw College, a student challenged, "You are not udara, liberal. You are sectarian and not generous to all, because you do not mix much with the poor, downtrodden people." Sarasvati Thakura then said, "Are you udara? If you are, you should accept us. Why are you criticizing us?"
One pandita asked Sarasvati Thakura about the chanting of Hare Krishna, saying it was a new thing and not mentioned in the Vedas. "Maybe there is some inference in the Gita or Bhagavata, but not in the Vedas," he said. Sarasvati Thakura then quoted from the Rig Veda sukta: "om asya jananto nama cit viratyano — it mentions the name as apakrta. By chanting Krishna — Krishna is the cit nama, transcendental name, Krishna is manifest." Also, he quoted the Kalisantanara Upanisad in which the Hare Krishna mahamantra is clearly mentioned. Why Hare is in the form of address — Krishna but not Krishnah, with the visarga at the end? This means it's in the vocative form. Hare, Krishna, Rama — in the vocative form. He explained that this time "Rama" in the maha-mantra means "Radhika Ramana Rama." It can be chanted on mala or with mrdanga and karatalas. Vrindavan sadhus say that it must be chanted on mala because it is given as a mantra by the guru at diksa, and therefore cannot be chanted with mrdanga and karatalas. Sarasvati Thakura said, "It is a mantra all right, but not a mantra like `om namo vidmahe etc.' It is a mantra, but a mode of address also. Whenever addressing any man you can call him loudly also, so, therefore, it can be used with mrdanga and karatalas." In this way Sarasvati Thakura expertly answered all kinds of questions and established his siddhanta.
In Bombay, one so-called "Vallabhacarya-line sadhu" was instructing his disciples that they must send their wives and daughters to him because the sastras say that all good things should be given to the guru. Some members of the public filed a case against him in the courts. Sarasvati Thakura commented on this saying, "This is not the idea of the Bhagavata. Bhagavata says that the guru is not a flesh-eater. The body of a woman is flesh. The guru has developed his soul; he is not a tiger or lion. When it says that you should give good things to the guru, it means that you should give your soul to the guru."
In one English medium primary school Sarasvati Thakura was present to give a talk to the children, who were around nine to ten years old. He asked them, "Which is it better to water, tulasi or eggplant20?” Many of the children replied, saying that we should water the begun and we'll get some food, but from the tulasi we will get nothing Sarasvati Thakura then explained, in very simple language: "We should not desire fruit, but should work with a fruitless motive. Perform tulasi seva. Worship God without desire for fruit. Tulasi is not a plant like mango or begun, which will give you fruit, but is very dear to Krishna. Tulasi is an incarnation of Radha. Tulasi is the ticket-collector for entrance to rasa-mandala. Without her permission no one can go to Vrindavan, as she is the gate-keeper."
One man said, "I saw Krishna. I was sitting on the riverside when I saw Him." Sarasvati Thakura then asked, "O you did. Did you not also see maya? If you are still seeing maya it means you didn't see Krishna. That means you must have seen some ghost." The man said he had seen Krishna yesterday. "The test of actually seeing Krishna is that one is no longer interested in maya. Otherwise so many people can say they have seen Krishna, when they haven't really," said Sarasvati Thakura, quoting from Rupa Goswami: “sneram banghi — my dear friends, if you still want attachment to material society friendship and love, then do not go to see Govinda."
At the time of Sarasvati Thakura, in Orissa especially, even in the towns (nowadays you will still get this in the villages), when the nagara sankirtana would pass, they would take out their conches and blow and come and offer obeisances, and would very much appreciate it. Sarasvati Thakura very much liked the system of mushti dhan, which the Gaudiya Mathas were doing at that time, wherein many people who wanted to, who appreciated the activities, they would keep a pot in their house, and every time they cooked food for the family, they would take one handful of rice or two or three, whatever their fixed quota was, in the name of the Gaudiya Math. So, gradually, some amount would accumulate, and every week devotees from the Math would go and collect that and use it in the Math. In this way, by taking a little from each family, they covered the needs of the Math. Sarasvati Thakura liked this system, because it didn't put any strain on anyone and was pleasing to one and all. It didn't make the sadhus very greedy either and was very sattvic.
It is stated elsewhere that Sarasvati Thakura often didn't change the name of an initiate at initiation. For example: Nityananda became Nityananda Das Brahmacari, the only change being the extra "Das". Or sometimes he only changed the name slightly, as in Abhay Carana to Abhay Caranaravinda Das.
In Puri, Sarasvati Thakura lived for two months in the summer in rented houses, before he had the Purushottam Math. At that time he told the devotees to go in the early morning on harinama sankirtana on the seashore, chanting the Panca-tattva mantra. They should chant this more he said, because at this time Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the Panca tattva were coming for bathing here. Sarasvati Thakura could read and speak Oriyan somewhat, but not so well. For his Paramarthi Oriyan magazine, he would dictate something in Bengali to be written, and Jyotisekhara would write it down immediately in Oriyan, because Oriyan and Bengali are very similar languages.
Sarasvati Thakura did not like the mundane historians concepts of Lord Chaitanya and His followers. In their concept, Lord Chaitanya was a mere man who lived for some time and died. They didn't realize that He is God Himself, still living now, and that He is antaryami, in everyone's heart. They don't understand these things and try to judge everything from the material viewpoint. Even some books that were reported to be Vaishnava books he never accepted, not believing things that were written in them. These were books like "Advaita Mangala" and "Advaita Prakash", which were about Advaita Prabhu. Also that which was written about Narahari Sarkara of Shrikhanda, and songs bogusly ascribed to him he never accepted. According to historians, Narahari Sarkara worshipped Lord Chaitanya as Gauranga-nagara, the enjoyer of Vishnupriya, which is bogus.
In the west of Jajpur district, in Orissa, the hilly area, where there is a railway station, Sarasvati Thakura went and spoke in a public meeting about the "dasa-vidha nama aparadha". The king postulated to Sarasvati Thakura that when chanting the names why worry about offenses, as the name can be chanted in any manner? Sarasvati Thakura quoted the ten offenses from the Padma Purana. The sadhus who were present there were propagating chanting without bothering about offenses and they didn't believe Sarasvati Thakura's quote from the Padma Purana, so he said to the doubtful king, "I'll show you how this is true." The meeting was organized from 4.00pm to 9.00pm, but Sarasvati Thakura said the sadhus should stay from 5.00pm to 7.00pm (the evening sandhya, time for taking ganja, opium). Sarasvati Thakura said that all the sadhus should stay. We'll be having sankirtana and hari-katha, they should not go outside. Thousands of sadhus gathered for the meeting, but the meeting was from 5.00pm to 7.00pm, so by 6.00pm, many of the sadhus had left the meeting, because they had the habit to smoke ganja or tobacco, or take tea. They could not stay seated for the full two hours for Hari katha. Sarasvati Thakura showed the king, saying, "Just see what is the situation. Because they are addicted to opium, ganja, tea, cigarettes, etc., they cannot stay for the recitation of the holy name. Is this not due to their offenses?" The king then understood. Sarasvati Thakura finally instructed that these five things should be given up by serious reciters of the holy name: Meat eating, gambling, illicit sex, intoxication, and the search for money, because these are the five places where Kali resides. The king accepted this and became his disciple, taking Harinama initiation.
As his main bases, Sarasvati Thakura chose to stay in Orissa and Bengal, as these were the places of Lord Chaitanya's pastimes, and also very good for preaching and enrolling devotees, because people of these areas already had the culture of Lord Chaitanya. He sent devotees also to Burma, although he never personally went there himself. The Math there, in Rangoon, was in a rented building that was destroyed during the Japanese attack, and some devotees were killed also, after which, it was never reestablished.
Sarasvati Thakura was asking someone there, "Can you understand my language? God knows all languages. Can you see God? Can you speak with God?" and the man became silent. Then Sarasvati Thakura then said, "Silence. You can't talk with God. SP was talking in Bengal, but the people couldn't understand. One man said that he should speak in Oriyan.
Sarasvati Thakura gave the preachers impressive titles like bhakti sastri, etc. Acarya trik maha mahopadesah upadesah. These were all titles given for preachers. Jyotisekhara himself was given the title upadesaka by Sarasvati Thakura. Kunjabihari Vidyabhusana was given the title acaryatrik, which means acarya three times over. That title needs some explaining. They were just big titles, that's all. Note also Vidyabhusana, Vidyavinoda, and Vidyaratna were very impressive titles. Sarasvati Thakura didn't want his disciples to have the attitude of mundane panditas, or to consider jnana more important than bhakti. Still, he gave titles such as these to demonstrate that devotees were learned in sastra and aware of all sastric conclusions. Jyotisekhara Prabhu explains that he got the title Bhaktisastri and at that time he had not even studied Bhagavad-gita from cover to cover, what to speak of the Nectar of Devotion or Shrimad Bhagavatam, etc. Sarasvati Thakura taught by speaking. The devotees would learn by hearing, and the emphasis was on hearing. Jyotisekhara recalls that later he read all these books and saw so many things which were systematically recorded in these books which he had learned first by hearing from Sarasvati Thakura.
At the end of every lecture, SP would recite the verse by Prabodhananda Sarasvati from the Chaitanya Candramrta, in which he says, "Taking a straw in my mouth, I go to you, and though you are a very wonderful person, I request you to please give up all your nonsense ideas and just take shelter of Lord Chaitanya." See Vaishnava verse song book. p102.
dante nidhaya trinakam padayor nipatya
kritva ca kaku-shatam etad aham bravimi
he sadhavah sakalam eva vihaya durad
I take a straw in my mouth. I fall down at your feet and flatter you. O sir, you are such a great and intelligent man. There is no one greater than you. You are so intelligent, rich, and beautiful. You may ask, "Why are you so humble? Why are you flattering me? What is your intention? Tell me." O you are a great sadhu. You have learned so many nice things, I know, but kick them out, please. Whatever nonsense rascaldom you have learned, whatever hogwash things are in your brain, kick them all out. Throw them all far away and place all your love in the lotus feet of Lord Gauranga.
Many times SP used to quote the sloka: "na ham vipro na ca narapatir napi vaisyo na sudro ... — I am not a brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya, sudra, brahmacari, grhastha, vanaprastha, or sannyasi. I identify myself as a servant of the servant of Krishna." He also liked to quote the verse of Raghunatha Das Goswami, "adhodante dantetrnam vilapa kusum anjati — we simply want to be the dust of Rupa Goswami.” He also used to quote many times the sloka from Chaitanya Charitamrita, wherein Prabodhananda Sarasvati says, "My dear sir, you simply give up all your ideas and surrender at the lotus feet of Lord Chaitanya. I am saying this with a straw in my mouth." He would especially quote this at the end of every lecture. He was always thinking of how to uplift the conditioned souls from their suffering condition of maya.
In 1920 SP gave a lecture about the arca-vigraha, giving some more sayings, "Brahmanas are like paisa and Vaishnavas are like rupees. In one rupee there are 64 paisa. The brahmanatra or the position of being a brahmana is included in Vaishnavatra or the position of being a Vaishnava. Even if a Vaishnava comes from an untouchable family, he is not only touchable but the guru of non-Vaishnava brahmanas.
Gaura Kisora das Babaji forbade SP to go to Calcutta, calling it the maya-brahmanda (world of illusion). SP replied that Calcutta is a good place to fulfill the mission of Lord Chaitanya by preaching. Many learned people who lived there would hear the message of Gauranga. How then could it be the world of maya? Rather it is just like Vaikuntha. Gaurakisora dasa Babaji also requested Bhaktivinoda Thakura not to remain in Calcutta at the last stage of his life. Calcutta or in Bengali "Kalikatta" is the place of Kali, he said. Bhaktivinoda Thakura sent his respects to Gaurakisora dasa Babaji with the reply, "Where I reside is not the place of Kali."
SP would rise early before the others each day and finish his bath after going to the toilet, etc., before anyone got up. He would rise by 3.30am and at 4.30 was mangalarati.
In the early morning, and also in the afternoon, around 4.00pm, he would pass stool and bathe.
Arcana was over at 10.30am, when full bhoga was offered, and then he would take prasadam at around 11.00am. All the other devotees would take at around 12.30pm. The Deities were put to rest at 12.00 noon.
During the day, if not engaged in some preaching or other service, he would generally dictate books. He would speak and Ananta Vasudeva would write. After lunch he would answer letters, before the ista gosthi.
In the late afternoon, around 5.00pm, he was very fond of walking, whether on the beach in Puri, or on the road in Mayapur. He would walk up and down, accompanied, maybe, by a few disciples, or other people, and talk with them on Krishna consciousness, or chant japa. Mocha Singh, his bodyguard, accompanied him, wherever he went.
When in the Bag Bazaar Gaudiya Math, he would often walk up and down on the veranda, chanting japa. Sometimes he would wander throughout the Math, chanting in a very mild sound, almost like singing.
If anyone came after 9.00pm, when he was staying in the matha, he would talk with them, otherwise he would roam about on the veranda chanting Hare Krishna and slokas about the glories of the holy name. He would take rest at about 11.00pm.
Sarasvati Thakura's daily intake of prasadam was very little, and was usually brought to him by Sajjana Maharaja. Within a few minutes he would finish eating, and many times he would be absorbed in thoughts of Krishna consciousness, taking the food only as a matter of formality, when actually he wasn't very interested in it.
His personal requirement of rice was only around two kilos for a whole month. Daily he would take only around two hundred grams of milk.
His dietary habits were typically Bengali: 7.00am — a light breakfast (a little halava or a sweet) and full prasadam at 11.00am, the basis of which was a large amount of rice with spinach and other vegetable preparations. He always took green papaya, cooked with water and blended until it became like soup. This was good for the liver and digestion. He would also take a little lime with his meal.
At night he would take puris and potatoes cut into squares and fried (a typical Bengali preparation), with milk (lightly sweetened with a little sugar) at 8.30 — 9.00pm. In the afternoon he liked to take lemon sherbet, which is a sweet lemon water drink with sugar, or cool, dark (young/raw) coconut (dab).
He was very particular about the purity of food and did not eat where people were not vegetarians. In Bengal and Orissa there are many people who are inclined to Vaisnavism but who eat fish. Sarasvati Thakura, therefore, never went to a village or place where there was no vegetarian home or temple where food could be cooked.
In Sarasvati Thakura's time, all the cooking pots in the Math were brass or bell-metal. The plate eaten off was a leaf plate or often they had stone plates and brass ones for devotees. Sarasvati Thakura's was silver. He had a brass lota and for going to the toilet, a brass container also. Everything in those days was generally made from better materials.
In his prasadam he liked a lot of salt, which made taking his remnants difficult.
He was fond of sajana (drumsticks), soft and young. Sajana is a kind of vegetable. He also liked chick-peas, fried with hing and salt, and food cooked in cow's gee or sesame oil.
He was very fond of hing; especially peanuts fried with a lot of salt and hing. He was very fond of sweets, and especially liked the Baghbazaar rasagullas. But at the age of 53 he stopped taking these sweets as it was troublesome for his teeth as they were becoming affected. He also liked sweet samosas.
Every day they would have some sweets purchased from the shops, such as Baghbazaar rasagullas. They were offered to the Deities and Sarasvati Thakura would take a little every day. Of course, milk preparations are considered pure even if bought. Another point is that if they were made in the temple they would not be as nice as those in the shop because milk preparations are special items, and one who is expert can cook them very well. In those days, especially in the shops, they had very expert sweet makers, and milk sweets from Bengal are famous all over India even to this day.
First class rasagullas were being sold in Swarup Gunj just on the other side of the river from Mayapur. SP used to get these to be purchased in Swarup Gunj and they would be offered to the Deity in Mayapur. SP would quite often have a large quantity purchased, offered, and distributed to all. Similarly, in Baghbazaar with Baghbazaar rasagullas, which were very famous and popular.
In the afternoons he liked to sometimes take alu-chura, or fried flat-rice with a little masala and gee, with pieces of fried potato put inside it.
On Ekadashi day, he would observe it by taking fruit at 4.00pm and a glass of milk at night, and nothing else all day.
Regularly, in Sarasvati Thakura's time, in the Gaudiya Math, for all the devotees, they used to cook neem begun (deep-fried eggplant, fried in oil with neem leaves). Also laphra, which is a vegetable preparation with many different types of vegetables in it. Also another preparation which Jyotisekhara remembers is dhakkai kecharanna, or kichrie with vegetables and a lot of ginger, cooked in Dhaka style. Sarasvati Thakura also liked these preparations very much.
His policy on taking prasadam was that whatever was there, as it was offered, he liked to take it. People, they liked to add extra gee to their rice, or put extra salt or chilies, but he didn't like to do this.
SP liked Dhaka kicherie, which they cooked usually in a big brass pot with many vegetables mixed in it. That Dhaka kicherie is also very liquid with a lot of water. He especially liked it if it was prepared at night and then taken the next morning, so as the flavor of the spices had time to come out, and the liquid part would become quite solid. He liked this very much. Of course, you could only take that in the winter season or the rainy season. If you kept it overnight in the summer season it would become bad. This was usually prepared at the time of a festival, so after the festival was over, and it had become thicker. SP would say, "Bring that kicherie over to me." They would cook that at the festivals in big brass pots, along with another preparation called pushpanna, which SP also liked, but he especially liked that Dhaka kicherie even more. Sajjana Maharaja sometimes used to cook the kochu pata shak with chola dahl and gee, and a little sugar. SP liked that very much. He also liked that pepper substitute they put in the dahl, which is a kind of root that looks like ginger.
Sarasvati Thakura also liked to eat a kind of big root grown under the ground, also known as ull or kochu, and cooked as a vegetable. These were, it seems, mostly a Dhaka, East Bengal preparation. Of course, Bengali vegetables are very succulent, because the soil there is very fertile, and Bengali cooking is very simple but at the same time very tasty. Lord Chaitanya also liked these preparations.
There is also some story told from Annakut Mahotsava at Dhaka, which is not clear. There is also some mention of Sarasvati Thakura eating halava at the time of utsava which was also distributed to the public. Sarasvati Thakura did eat food at mahotsava cooked by hired brahmanas.
He liked rasam very much, which is a South Indian preparation, like a watery soup, cooked and taken with the meal, mixed with rice. It is a daily food in South India, especially in Tamil Nadu, and is very good for digestion. It is made by boiling water with different spices and a little salt and some tamarind, so that it is slightly sour. He told Sajjana Maharaja to cook rasam with curry leaves, which are commonly used in South India in all kinds of vegetables and rice preparations. He also liked Biridahl, also chana bhajis or fried chick-peas with puris and sajana. Also helancha shak.
SP's general policy was to spend most of his time in Bengal and Orissa, where he would preach. He was sometimes traveling outside South India, Bombay, Delhi, Vrindavan. Mostly he was based in Calcutta, Mayapur, Puri, then he would work on books, editing articles for Gaudiya, and he sent devotees out to different parts of India and the world to preach.
In the early days of his work he would travel by third-class in the train, but later, when he was established, he traveled first class. He would go in a group and, taking many things like books, cooking utensils, a mrdanga, karatalas, etc. Sajjana Maharaja and Vasudeva always traveled with him in first-class, while others went second or third-class, according to their seniority.
At Chuttak station, whenever he came, passing on his way to Madras, Puri, or wherever, there was always a big reception for him, with kirtana, the Boys Scouts, college students — a vast gathering at every station along the way, especially in Bengal and Orissa, and particularly Chuttak, because there were many devotees there. The train was often delayed around half-an-hour in Chuttak for the reception. This was a common thing however, that prominent people would delay the train in this way.
(???...) Sometimes SP used to give harinama just on the train. There's one story where he met one man, rather one man came to him requesting harinama. SP said, "On such and such a day I'll be traveling on a train. You travel with me between Baleshvar and Bhadrak, and I can give you harinama. So like this, many times he would do. No yajna was needed for harinama- that was only for diksa. For harinama he would simply give a mala and instruct the disciple to chant the Hare Krishna mahamantra. On the train he would travel in a first class compartment with Sajjana Maharaja. He would not do kirtana in the train but would chant japa, do harinama, and sometimes preach, as first class meant many respectable people, and at stations usually there would be devotees waiting to receive him. He would come out (???...) at major stations like Kharagpur, Baleshwar, Bhadrak, etc. He wouldn't get down from the train but would just stand in the doorway, greet the devotees, accept their obeisances like this. Even in the middle of the night, if the train was stopping in a station and devotees were there, SP would be then ready to greet them. The train might stop only for three or four minutes, in the middle of the night at some station, but all the devotees would be there. SP would come out and there would be a big kirtana waiting for him. there would be a kirtana and SP would give a welcoming address. Often important people from the town would also come. Sometimes the train would be delayed for SP, because the stationmaster, the people inn the train, the train driver, even they might be interested to see what is going on. and their devotional sentiment was also sometimes aroused like this. SP also went to many places that were off the railway line by car. SP could remember the names of all the devotees. If he visited a place after not being there for some time, he would ask who was that man who came to see me last time — he remembered everyone.
Radha Govinda Babaji, the father of Bhakti Pradipa Tirtha Maharaja and Ananta Vasudeva, would say prema dhvani in a very long way, at the Math before going to the station he would say long premadhvanis and thus miss the train. Even sometimes they would go to the station, and they would be going along with "Jai" this and that. "Ki Jai" this and that, maybe for half-an-hour, in the meantime the train would have gone. (???...) who used to say, among all the different "Jais" he would asay "kapata manusa ki jai" which means a cheating man; or rather Govinda Babaji would explain that this means Gauranga (???...) He is God, but He has come in the guise of a man and refuses to be let Himself knowmn as God; Therefore He is kapata manusa. "kapata" means "cheating". See also S.B. 1.1.20.
In 1932, Sarasvati Thakura came to Jajpur(?) in Orissa, where he visited the Varahadeva Deity and the descendents of Mahaprabhu.
In the holy place known as Jajpur, in Orissa, SP was staying in the Jagannatha dharmashala (lodging house, run on a charitable basis). There, on the other side of the Vaitarani river, which close there was the Viraja temple. One has to cross the Gauranga palli (palli means "bridge") to get to it. While crossing the Vaitarani SP said "If you cross the Vaitarani you will cross the Viraja (spiritual world)." Or in other words, you will reach the spiritual world. This is , of course, in reference to the Vaitarani of Viraja river, which is at the border of the material world. One side is he material world and the other side is the spiritual world. One has to cross over the Viraja river to come out of the material; world to the spiritual world. Viraja means Vigata Raja, or without tama and raja, without the modes of ignorance and passion (CC reference Madhya 21.50). After that function in Jajpur there was a function in which Jotishekhara was given initiation. That was on Christmas day, 1930 (1932).? So many senior devotees were there also. They came at night to Jajpur station which was in the middle of the jungle at that time, infested with tigers. Now it's all cleared land. Tigers were roaring, and SP asked, "Oh, are they tigers roaring?" "Yes," came the reply. From Jajpur SP went to Kurmaksetra, Mangalagiri, Singhachalam; all these places for establishing the footprints of Lord Chaitanya. SP said crossing Vaitarani means to cross the material world and enter brahmaloka. He said that Bhubaneswar is Sivaloka, Puri is Vaikuntha, Alalanath is Gokula, for viraha bhajan (worshipping Krishna in the mood of separation). The Deities Gopi Gopinath (Radha Krishna) were installed at Alalanath.
Once, when theyu were visitiong Jajpur, in Orissa, there was all dense jungle arouynd — now there isn't. They were waiting at night having come to Jajpur Road Station. They were waiting for the train when fromthe jungle a tiger roared. SP noted that "Just hear how the tiger is roaring." This was in 1930. (Correction: there was a road to Shri Silam throuigh the jungle, but ot was very bad. SP went in his own car, driven by Krishnanandana brahmacari and Piyari Mohan brahmacari. These were two brahmacaris who were the drivers of that car. SP had a very good car. Whenever he visited these famous temples, SP would make some offering to the Diety and also to the beggars there. he would put some money in the box in front odf the Deities (the pranami box). These were the days when the temples were not managed by the government agencies. Of course, SP didn't like to give to professional beggars, but to visiting sadhus like that, who needed a little help.
On the Navadvip Parikram, SP and also other sannyasis would lecture. When he was older, SP was unable to walk long distances on the parikram so he would go by car and boat.
For Braja mandala parikrama he had two camels purchased for taking the loads from one place to another. They also had one elephant called Kirtan Das, which was donated by Janaki Nath Bosh, the father of Subash Candra Bosh. Janaki Nath Bosh went on the Navadvipa parikrama and Braja mandala parikrama. They brought him from Bengal to Vrndavan by train.
Everywhere in South India they got good regard from the Vaishnava brahmanas, but this was not so in Puri, where the people are less educaed. Generally speaking, the brahmanas in South India were well educated in sastra, at that time, and they liked to recognize those missions that followed sastra, so they recognized the Gaudiya Math as such and gave all due respect. They rejected many invented Mayavadi hodge-podge groups, but the Gaudiya Math they aceepted. South Indian vaishnavas (Shri Vaihnava and Madhva brahmanas) tended to be very conservartive and so many of them neer took diksa from SP, although a few did.
In Madras, great receptions were arranged for SP, especially two were very memorable: one by the Municipal Corporation, and another by the Boy Scouts. While touring South India for the purpose of visiting the holy places that Lord Chaitanya went to, and installing His footprints there, SP would come unanounced, or maybe there would be a letter in advance, but anyway, he wouldnb't stay very long, maybe one day and one night. there would be no big programme, or no big advertisement. they would simply ask the Superintendent of the temple if they could install Mahaprabhu's footprints and they would go ahead and do it. Just SP with five or six members, with sankirtan would install the footprints, and then they would ask the local priests and temple managers to make a temple for Lord Chaitanya's footprints. So, in this way, SP travelled throughout South India. He would give them money for doing this; a small temple. At Madras, at the reception, Rangacharya, the Chief-Justice of the high court was present. Also, it seems that the Corporation of Madras and the Boys Scouts of Madras gave separate receptions for SP, both of which were attended by many people. SP stayed there for five or six days in Madras.
SP never visited Assam, though some of his disciples went there. the Gaudiya Math there in Gauhati, during the time of war was destroyed by a bomb and a few brahmacaris were killed. (Question: BH John: Earlier it was stated that the temple in Burma [Rangoon] was destroyed in the war by a bomb and brahmacaris were killed. Did this occur once or twice?)
SP visited Mallicharjuna Tirtha, also known as Shri Sailam, that's presently in the state of Andhra Pradesh — one place that was visited by Lord Chaitanya and is a very famous temple of Lord Siva. At that time there was no proper road so they had to go through the dense forests and hills for many miles. In his Anubhasya commentary to Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita, in one section, SP has written that "I am writing this in Shri Silam."
Whenever SP left Puri to go to Calcutta he would recite the verse, "pratyasami kiru(?) govardhana puja," written by Raghunatha Das Goswami, expressing a desire to stay near Govardhana hill at Radha kunda.
12. Book Production and Distribution. Writing work, etc.
SP knew everything about printing, as he was taught in his youth by his father — all the different stages, like typesetting, proof-reading, working the machine, binding — everything. He knew about the mechanical workings of the printing machine. He started the Bhagavat Jantra Nagara Press. When the Paramarthi Press was installed in Cuttak, he personally gave instructions, during the previously mentioned lecture, regarding management of the press -how they should compose everything, take quotations for different jobs, things like this (???...) He said that the press is the brhat mrdanga, and even the building of the press should not be thought of as material: The bricks, the pillars, it is all cintamani i.e. as the same constitution as the spiritual world. That press is just inside the compound of the temple, just to the side, in front of the Deities.
At Cuttak Satchidananda Math in 1932, the Paramarthi Press was established by SP. He had six journals going on in India in Hindi, English, Assamese, Oriyan and two in Bengali (one fortnightly and one monthly). The Paramarthi Press was established within the premises of the Math in Cuttak, just close to the Deities, so Pancharatriki marg (Deity worship) and Bhagavati marg (preaching) were side by side. At that time of establishing it SP gave a wonderful lecture right inside the press shop, with devotees sitting inside and outside the press shop, in which he said that the press is the brhat mrdanga — in the press, the machine, the composing materials, all are Krishna, and they are not like the worldly press. The whole building is aprakrta, or a product of transcendence.
Whatever other work SP was involved in, he always payed close attention to the production of his magazines. He wanted Gaudiya philosophy preached door to door by the media of these literatures.
It is said of SP that when asked to read books for publication, to approve them, he did not read them, but simply glanced through the pages to see how many times the name Krishna was written.
The insignia for the Gaudiya Mission, of the press next to the mrdanga was also given by SP. Letter: 9/14/70.
SP never liked that books be given away freely, citing the example, "If you try to give pajalyam (a very famous type of mango) free, people will think there is something wrong with it, so you have to sell it, then people will appreciate it's value. Similarly with our books."
About book distribution, SP gave the example of fajli mango, a very famous variety of mango, of very good quality. "If you give people free fajli mango they will suspect that it is full of germs or worms — so never distribute books for free. Take money from the people. Otherwise they will take i lightly or misuse that book. Devotees used to go door to door and in offices selling books in the morning and afternoon. Generally in the evening... Morning and the afternoon, there would be a break at mid day for prasadam, istha gosthi. 7.00 — 12.00 and 3.00pm — 5.00pm, like that. Generally, in the evening the devotees were not allowed outside, but would stay in for bhajan and kirtan. Big books were sold to interested people and regular subscribers, otherwise sm,aller books and magazines were distributed. At prteaching programmes, book tables were set up and in this way the Gaudiya Math books were distributed.
Whenever there was anything published in a newspaper, magazine, or book, against the true teachings of Lord Chaitanya, SP would become very angry. He would then call his disciples and order them to write something in retaliation, against this. He would also give the direction of what to write and how to write it. This is the meaning of "rupanuga virata pasya a hedonta adwonine" (see song book. Last line of pranami mantra). He would not tolerate any article whether in Bengal or Orissa or anywhere, that was against the proper teachings of bhagavat dharma, especially misrepresentations of Lord Chaitanya's teachings, which he was very concerned about. It was some kind of a fashion at that time for writers and journalists to write against the cult of Lord Chaitanya. Seeing such activities, SP became furious like a lion. The were rebuttles sent under the direction of SP, that were so strong, writers in Bengal and Orissa eventually gave up making articles against Lord Chaitanya, fearing retribution from the Gaudiya Math. One time, for example, an article came out sayig that brahmacaris should become grhasthas and then maybe they think about taking sannyasa. SP became very angry saying, "What is this? This is not according to sastra! Brahmacaris should beconme sannyasis. Why should they become entangled in material life?"
Before initiation, SP wrote many books. He printed the book of Bhaktivinoda's autobiography, but said that this book should not be given to everyone (???...) misunderstand. (Question: Bh John: Where is that book now, and is it often found that someone will write an autobiography, seeing as people may critsize saying it is pride writing about oneself? Also, what is it that SP didn't want people to read that they might misunderstand about Bhaktivinoda Thakur in this book?)
SP brought pandits from the Shri sampradaya, from Shri Rangam, and from the Madhva sampradaya at Udupi, to Mayapur. there was one pandit from each sampradaya who were helping SP with philosophical exceges of their respective sampradayas, and also with Sanskrit writing (Sanskrit translation). SP was giving his commentaries on Sanskrit works like the Brahma Samhita. Also there were Sanskrit slokas in the Begali books he was commenting on, like the Chaitanya Charitamrita and others. these pandits were there in Mayapur from 1930 — 1932. the pandit from the Madhva line was called Brahmanyadeva, who helped specifically with books that SP published, like "Yukti Mallika" of Vadiraja, which SP published. He would ask him questions and get the answers. Similarly, the Ramanuja pandit helped with the Shri Bhasya. SP wrote a commentary on the Yukti Malaka.
Jotishekhara also says that he saw him in Ultadingi in 1928, meaning he was coming and going. they would take prasadam with all the devotees, even though many brahmanas, especially in South India, have a strong caste feeling, yet SP was initiating brahmanas from all castes. But these two pandits had no such feelings and took prasadam with all the devotees toigether.
Once, in Mayapur, SP said, "Don't try to publish many big books, but publish many small booklets, by which many people may be benefitted. Song books like Prarthana, by Narottama Das thakur, Gitamala, by Bhaktivinoda Thakur — these are very good for villages." SP then said, "From my childhood I have been reading Prarthana and Yamunacharya's Stava." once, in the Gaudiya Math, he said to read these two books, and his own song, on the guru parampara. That one beginning "krishna hoite cahur mukha... every brahmacari should read this. At the time of Bhaktivinoda Thakur, SP wrote this and kept it written on the wall of his houise at Maniektolla Street, in Calcutta, and saw it regularly.
In Cuttak, SP was searching for Chaitanya Bhagavata in 1920. He searched through many mathas but couldn't find it. Nowadays, the Chaitanya Bhagavata is available everywhere in bookshops, but at that time it wasn't. The sahajiyas didn't like the Chaitanya Bhagavata, and called it a dry book. They like Chaitanya Charitamrita, Shrimad Bhagavatam, etc., because they deal with Radha Krishna lila, but SP published Chaitanya Bhagavata — Chaitanya lila. At that time Chaitanya Bhagavata was very rare in India. even what editions there were were full of errors. So, before SP's edition there was no proper one. (Question: Bh John: Was it SP who made it more widely available by printing it?) (Answer: B.V. Swami: Yes, he popularized it.
He printed English books in Madras on an outside press. He wanted to make his own press in Madras.
During the time of Bhaktivinoda Thakur, SP, who was entrusted by Bhaktivinoda Thakur to print many Gaudiya Vaishnava books which were not in print, wanted to print Govinda-lilamrta and Gita-Govinda, and Gopi-Gita, but Bhaktivinoda Thakur rebuked him saying, "No more than two copies are required, and you can keep them in the library. No one in this world can understand these books. Print two: one for yourself that you may be satisfied, and another one in case anyone in the future can understand," so SP stopped the printing. SP was also printing Gopi Gita, but he stopped doing so on Bhaktivinoda Thakura's order. Bhaktivinoda Thakur said that it was better that the rasa sastra be taken out from this world and destroyed rather than be exposed to those who are not fit to understand it. Great damage has been done by the misuse of these rasasastras, by exposing them to people not fit to hear.
(Question: Bh John: Surely SP would have known not to print these books, without being told by Bhaktivinoda Thakur, so how come he wanted to go ahead in the first place with publishing these. After all, wasn't his whole mood against the sahajiyas very strongly?) (Answer: B.V Swami: So many things may be done as lila. Why did ACBSP support Gandhi in his youth?)
ISKCON's Prabhupada: Conversation August 16 1976: "My guru maharaja wanted to publish this Govinda-lilamrta. He asked permission of Bhaktivinoda Thakur, who told him, "I'll tell you some day," and when SP reminded him, he said, "Yes, you can print one copy. If you are so much anxious to print it then print one copy. You will read it and you will see that you have printed it; not for general distribution."
SP wrote twenty explanations of the first verse of Shrimad Bhagavatam, but it was eaten by rats, upon which he became very sorry. He said, "I've written another explanation, but it's not as good as the first one I wrote, which I cannot remember now." (If he is srutidhar, how is it he forgets? B.V. swami question).He also lost to rats, two verses that he wrote in Sanskrit about the lotus feet of Lord Chaitanya, in the Puri temple. Lord Chaitanya's feet melted the stone by the Garuda stambha in the Puri temple. The impression is still there.
Regarding the covers of books: He didn't like to have pictures of Krishna on the cover, lest the book be misused and there was some offense, as people might put something on top of the book or they might lean on it. He would lioke to have maybe the picture of the Deity inside. This is interesting, because Shrila Prabhupada (ISKCON) (???...) changed that policy. He wanted very much that the covers be very attractive in order to help selll the book. Bhakti Vivek Bharati Maharaja printed a book once with his own picture inside, and SP became very sorry upon seeing that, saying, "You've put your own picture, but why don't you put the pictures of our parampara, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Why do you have to advertise yourself?" SP didn't like to have even his own picture inside his books, but his disciples they liked to publish his picture, but when he saw that this Bharati Maharaja had put his own picture inside this book he wasn't very happy atall. SP said, "If I have my picture printed in my book then my disciples will want to print their own pictures in their books, so better we just keep our pictures of our parampara — Bhaktivinoda, etc., and Mahaprabhu, like this. (Question: Bh John: What about ISKCON's Prabhupada who had his pictures in all his books? and what did he himself say on the subject? Also did he allow his own disciples to print their pictures in the future in their books?) (Answer B.V.Swami: SP was not against having his own picture in the book, because he is an acarya, but he was afraid his disciples might imitate this practice. A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is an acarya. Acaryas do "advertise" themselves in a limited way to establish their authority).
Beforte taking sannyasa, SP wrote a book explaining many questions from the Mahabharata, but the manuscript was lost before publication.
One time in Cuttak, where the Paramarti Press was, they printed in the Oriyan script, the Bengali song Radha Krishna bol bol bolerai shabai, and distribute d as a handbill when they went on nagar sankirtan. This is a nagar sankirtan song, so SP himself would stand at the front of the sankirtan party and distribute these handbills to the people in general.
Sambidananda Das, the brother of Kunjada, went to London for doing his Phd on the subject, or doctrine of Lord Chaitanya. SP gave the outline of that thesis which was printed in the Harmonist.
Regarding the Navadvip dhama Panjika (Vaishnava calendar), Jagannatha Das Babaji gave direction to Bhaktivinoda thakur who engaged SP as Bimala Prasada at the time. To execute this they consulted one Nandulal Vidya Sagar, of Medinapur, a renowned astrologer, who made up the Navadvip dhama Panjika, according to Bimala Prasada's direction. At this time he was 22 years old. SP taught astrology at the house of Bhaktivinoda thakur, in Calcutta. "The Bhakti Bhavan," under the name that that teaching unit was known as Sarasvati Ashram.
One time, SP was going on the Madras Mail (train to Madras) when the train stopped at Berhampur (Orissa). He met there a party of devotees who had come to see him, and said to them, "I have not seen Beronpur town, only the station. My blessings to all the people of Beronpur," and he said to the devotees, "You try to preach the message of Lord Gauranga in the Oriyan language." In that party of people who came to meet SP at the station (the train would stop for only five to ten minutes, and they would meet in that time) was one Madhusudana Sharma, who was a kaviraja (an ayurvedic doctor). Just with this little inspiration, Madhusudana Sharma was so much enlivened by the words of SP that he had one printing press that he decided to immediately donate for printing books and other publications, in the Oriyan language, to the Gaudiya Math. It was taken to Cuttak and then the Paramarti Press was established.
SP liked that inn his temples and different buildings, there would be some S.B. slokas, and instructions, writings, or verses, from the scriptures on the walls, inside and out, permanently written or painted very beautifully, or erected in marble.
At the Vasudeva Baba Mandir, near the Radha Kantha Math in Puri, is a statue of Vasudeva Baba. SP inscribed all around the walls some Bhagavata slokas. He was very fond of this practice.
At the time of Gaura Purnima, all the devotees would sit together and discuss. these are some of the unique sayings of SP, uniqye because of the unique use of language. He would speak of ontology being the internal essence, and morphology as the outward grandeur to attract people to the ontology. If there is no money in a beautiful purse, what is the use of the purse? So, morphology, without ontology is useless. Vox populi verses vox dei: Truth may be spoken by one man the masses may have a different opinion but they do not know what is the truth.
After SP's disappearance, Sundarananda Vidyavinoda collected his lectures as boktritabali, published essays as prabandhabali, his letters as patrabali. All different things that were pubnlished in the Gaudiya. He collected them into books, but the vast majority of them are lost. Lectures, coversations, that's SP samlap(?) The vast majority like the letters were lost. Explanation: Over the years, during SP's presence, selected lectures, essays, letters, and conversations of SP, were edited and published in "Gaudiya" magazine. After SP's disappearance, Sundara Vidyavinoda made compilations of these already published lectures in a series of books called "boktritabali", his essays as prabandhabali, his letters as patrabali, and his conversations as samlap.
The devotees used to say that there were two things that were very sweet: Prabhupader dahl and Prabhupader gal. Dahl means the dahl prasadam left by SP (his remnants), and gal means SP's chastizement.
SP was very alert to people sleeping in the class, and if he saw that someone was doing so, he would say, "Stand up, go and wash your face!" He would say, "My guru maharaja is present. Bhaktivinoda Thakur is present. All the acharyas are present. You are insulting them by sleeping."
One time, one brahmacari was sleeping during a lecture so SP said to throw him in Radha kund, in Mayapur Chaitanya Math. "My guru and all the acharyas are here, so why do you embarass me by sleeping?" he said.
One time, in Mayapur, Jotishekhara was cleaning the floor on the first floor veranda, and after sweeping all the dust together, he swept it over the edge, which then fell down onto the ground floor. SP saw this and admonished him saying, "You are doing your service, but someone else is doing the service of cleaning below. Why should you spoil their service? You are making this place clean but another place dirty."
In 1929, at Mayapur, on Gaura Purnima, at Yoga Pitha, there was an incident where SP chastized some of the sannyasis; notably Bodhayan Maharaja and others. They had collected some money and had spent iton items they needed for their personal use, like cloth, umbrellas, shoes, etc. SP called together all the sannyasis and chastized them, saying that first of all, any collection should come into the accounts and all the needs for the Deities (God's service) should first be seen to. Then if there's any balance,the mission will see what you require and will give to you. Not that one should take directly from the collection. In this regard, he wrote in his Gaudiya Bhasya (commentary on the Chaitanya Bhagavata), in the section where Advaita Acharya celebrated a huge festival, the disappearance day of Madhavendra Puri, that if the money is mis spent, the collection which is being collected with great difficulty by the brahmacaris and sannyasis, then there will come a day in our mission when we will hire pujaris, and the pujari will take from the collection box to buy coconut oil for his wife's hair: The mission will be ruined. They had been making a collection for the Gaura Purnima festival, so they'd made a big collection.
One time, a man asked SP to please speak some Hari-katha. However SP replied to this man, Gunamani, in a sarcastic poetical manner: "Gunamani ami gay tumi shun...(???...) — I will say but you have to listen!" In other words, this man was not interested in following what SP said. therefore he replied to him in this sarcastic way. This Gunamani Das, was initiated, but not very serious, it seemed. the point is that you cannot order the guru, "Now you speak!" SP said, "You can't just order me to speak! You sit here and wait. When Hari comes then I will speak Hari-katha!"
In the Math in Cuttak, there wa a nice pond. Sometimes people would come to catch the fish there, because there were many fish in that pond, and in Orissa, as in Bengal, the eating of fish is very common. SP saw one man coming with a rod for catching the fish and he said, "This pond is non-different from the Yamuna. Do not kill the fish!" This particular man was cautioned again and again by SP but still he came. Because of disobeying SP's order he was bitten by a snake while fishing, and died.
One night, also at Cuttak, the pujari forgot to fix up the mosquito net for the Deities. The next day, before mangala arati, SP asked that pujari if it was true that he had done this. When the pujari confirmed this SP said, "Krishna has not slept at night. You have done wrong. Why have you done this? You fixed the mosquito net for yourself, but not for Krishna." The pujari admitted his mistake. (B.V.Swami: observation: "The major point here is how could SP have known? For a normal person it would not have been possible"). (Bh John: observation: "It appears to me that this can be looked at another way. Maybe someone had told SP about it in the morning. At least that's my understanding when I read it").
(Question: BH John: Do we use nets in ISKCON for the Deities?) (Answer: Mostly, yes).
One day, on Ekadashi, Parvata Maharaja took a rasgulla and SP chastized him saying, "This is not proper because it is made with flour!"
One time, one man came to SP and asked, "Oh, what is the Rama Krishna Mission doing? What is the Aurobindo Society doing?" SP replied, "Why have you come to me? If you go to the bazaar to purchase cloth, go to the cloth-shop, not to the sweet-shop or brass-shop. This is the Bhakti School. If you come here ask about bhakti. First of all decide what you want, then go to the right place. If you go to the cloth shop and ask, `Why is the medicine shop selling bad medicine,' what can they reply?"
In Cuttak once, when SP was standing and taking darshan of the Deities, at some distance, he said, "There is an ant in the flower on Krishna. Remove it!"
(The point here is not chastisment but that SP saw an ant at such a distance, so put this section elsewhere).
16. Deities — Worship, etc.
One other point to do with archana wa that one had to be initiated by SP. No outside caste brahmana could come. If someone joined the mission as a caste brahmana, even then he had to wait in order to get Pancharatriki brahmana initiation from SP before they could worship Deities.
SP allowed caste brahmanas to cook in the Gaudiya Math, simply on the basis of their birth as brahmanas. Even if not initaited by him, but if they were caste brahmanas, of good charachter, meaning they didn't take fish or flesh, and all these things, then he allowed them to cook. However, they were not allowed to do the arcana unless they took diksha from him. At the Yogapitha, the system even untill today is that those who come from brahmana families, and again are initiated in the Gaudiya line, only they can do the arcana. (Question here: Was this instituted by Bhaktivinoda Thakur or SP and why is it perpetuated untill today) (???...) why is that Jotishekahara gives the reply: "Jagannatha Misra was a brahmana, so they are following the caste system, as it was the habit in those days.)" (B.V.Swami: Answer: I'll explain). (Bh John: This is not my question. I think it is a question by yourself).
He would insist that in the arati there must always be kirtan.
During arati, the kirtan would be sung according to what was happening. For instance, at the time of waving the camara, they would sing the line, "Camara dulaya..." and for the time of offering water, there were different arati songs they would sing and they would sing the kirtan corresponding to how the arati was going on. The devotee conducting the arati would keep everything nicely in time, so as it would fit to the song and also they were singing, there was coordination. In regard to the song by Bhaktivinoda Thakura, the last words, "Bhakativinoda deke gorara sampada," SP once explained that Bhaktivinoda Thakura can see and understand the "sampada" (opulence or wealth) of Lord Chaitanya. He can understand the glories of Lord Chaitanya because he is fully surrendered to him. SP explained this point elaborately once. (Question Bh John: How did they manage to syncronize the singing with the offering of the items? It seems very difficult to do).
The Deity installations in all his temples were done according to Hari-bhakti-vilasa. In the Atharva Veda, the Gaura mantra from the Chaitanya Upanisad was found, in Samdalpura, Orissa, in one temple there, by Bhaktivinoda Thakur and SP. This describes Gaura tattva and Gaura puja. For worshipping Gauranga, the Dhyanacandra Pandit Arcana Paddhati was used.
The Deities were given names like Guru Gauranga Vinoda Ramanjiu, Guru Gauranga Vinoda Anandajiu, Guru Gauranga Kantajiu, Guru Gauranga Vinoda Madhavajiu, Guru Gauranga Vinoda Pranjiu, etc. Vinoda means Radha. In Bengali if you write Radha or if you write badha, it looks almost the same. There's only one small dot between the R and the B which makes the difference. So SP used to say, "If we don't worship Radha in our bhajan, there will be baddha (obstruction)." This was a pun he used. Question: Bh John: What does badha mean in this sense?)
When establishing Deities, SP always gave Radha the name Vinoda. Just as in the name Guru Gauranga Vinoda Pranjiu.
Shri Shri Guru Gauranga Vinoda Pranjula, were the names of the Deities in Mayapur Shri Chaitanya Math. Shri Shri Guru Gauranga Vinoda Ramanjula(?) were the names of the Deities at the Satchidanandana Math in Cuttak. Shri Shri Guru Gauranga Vinoda Kantajula(?) were the names of the Deities at the Madhva(?) Gaudiya Math in Dhaka. In this way SP used to name the Deities he installed and many people asked him why he never included the name of Radha. He explained that the name Vinoda means Radha. Vinoda 2 meanings and Bhaktivinoda 2 Radha(?) Therefore, he didn't like to put the name Radha. Those in the line of Bhaktivinoda Thakur do not like to discuss so much about the Radha lila. The understanding is that one should first become a Goswami, being free fro anarthas, before he goes to this very high level. they can read books like Jaiva dharma, Chaitanya Shiksamrta, Bhagavad-gita, etc. Especially this very high level lila-grantha is misused generally and misunderstood by people. So SP didn't like this misuse and misunderstanding. (Question: Bh John: Why did ISKCON's Prabhupada not use Vinoda instead of the name Radha for Deities?) (B.V.Swami: Answer: Can't say). (Question: Bh John: Can anyone say?)
An acharya who can directly see God, he can install the vigraha. From his heart he will install God. Just as from Vasudeva's heart Krishna appeared> Anyone can go to the market and buy a Deity. We can respect that but that is not pratistitha (properly installed) vigraha, that is not properly established Deity. 12 (Svayambhu) forms of Vishnu descended in the world, such as Kesava, Narayana,etc. These are established in the world and these self-established Deities, plus the deities installed by acharyas, these are called vigraha. Anything else is considered idolatry. the Deities should only be worshipped after the pratistha(?) ceremony.
SP would always give brass Radha Krishna and Gauranga Deities to his disciples. He would install, worship, and give Them to householder devotees who had sufficient means to worship Them properly. Those who are very poor cannot worship regularly to the proper standard, because festivals must be observed, and nice bhoga offered, etc. Those who didn't have the means to worship properly, to worship Deities, could worship with pictures, salagram-sila.
Sometimes people would want to take flowers from the Math, for their home puja, that were being grown for the puja of the Deity in the temple. SP said, "This is not correcrt! These flowers we have grown for offering to Krishna. If you want to offer to Krishna, you, as householders, make your own arrangements. Not that we make the arrangements for worshipping Krishna and you take from our arrangement, but you make your own arrangements, earning your own money. This is the proper way to offer to Krishna. The duty of the devotees is to try to protect the property of the Math." SP told them, "If you want to beg flowers and all these things, for puja, you do that from householders, not from God's house."
SP also liked plenty of flowers to be offered to the Deities. He would see that plenty of flowers were purchased every day and offered to the Deity. In Bengal there are many nice flowers, like beli, champa, chameli, etc. Once, in Puri, at Purushottama Math, SP saw there were no flowers for the Deities, and asked why it was so. He was told that now it was the wrong season, and flowers weren't available. SP said then, "How could you do aercaha worship without flowers. Somehow or other you should get some. You can't do archana without flowers." in the month of Chaitra, or the spring season, there was one kind of flower (which name is not clear) which SP liked very much. They should offer every day to the Deities in the Math, beli flower.
For coking for the Deities, and for distribution also, to the devotees, mustard oil was used. Although for some preperations like puris, they would have to use ghee.
When SP was staying at Puri he always used to go in sankirtan procession to the Tota Gopinath Mandir and the sankirtan group would sing the song Gopinath Momonisvan(?) SP explained that Gopinath is our most beloved and he said that the devotees who were staying at Purushottama Math they should regularly go to Gopinath mandir and bring some rice, flowers, and other presentations in a basket for Gopinath. This is opur most beloved Deity."
SP went from Puri to Alalanath, Ram Nagari(?) which is 18 miles from Puri, at the time of installing the Deity. He took the Deity on a decorated chariot and all along the path it was just like a forest, with many flowers, and SP would quote from the Chaitanya Charitamrita: "brahma dekhe brahma naya, evam bhavam (find this verse?)" Justlike Lord Chaitanya going throufgh the Jarakanda forest, He remembered or mistook it for Vrndavan, so SP was remembering this lila and quoting this verse. The Deity was a Jaipur marble Deity. At Allalanath he fed the brahmanas maha-prasadam, installed the Deities with the names Gopi Gopinath, and stayed at the birthplace of Ramananda Raya, two miles away from Allalanath. That place is also the place of Shikhi Mahiti and Madhavi Devi, where they used to stay at Ramagiri(?) Under a great banyan tree there he fed all the brahmanas.
The Jagannatha Deity was established at Lord Chaitanya's birth place in Mayapur by Bhaktivinoda Thakur. When the London Gaudiya Math was being established, the Deity of Adhoksaja Vasudeva was found in a London roadside by one of the prabhus, just as he was waiting on the path. It was brought to India by Bhakti saranga Goswami, who was there in England. (Question: Bh John: What was the devotees name? And how old were the Deities? Also where were they; in a shop? Where is that Deity today and how did it come to be in London?) The Adhoksaja Deity of Jagannatha Misra was found while the digging was going on for building the Yoga Pitha temple.
In 1931, at Puri, the day of Chandan Yatra, the day when the Jagannatha Madan Mohan (Vijaya vigraha or Utsa vigraha) is brought to the Narendra Sarovara, for the Chandan Yatra. SP said that on this day we should bring the Gauranga vigraha to the Jagannatha Vallabh Udyan (another place in Puri) and have Gauranga Chandan Yatra there. Similarly, as in the Jagannatha Chandan Yatra, they brought the Deity of Gauranga going around thelake in a boat, with SP and one or two others sitting inside, whilethe others performed kirtan. they were performing kirtan on the bank of the lake. SP did this for two days, and it was taking place at the same time as the Jagannatha Chandan Yatra, which goes on for 21 days. The Gauranga Chandan Yatra was done for one year only. (Question: Bh John: Why was it stopped?)
In 1930, 25 December, SP came to Jajpur, a famous holy place in Orissa, from Calcutta. He installed there the footprints of Lord Chaitanya, near to the River Vaitarani. On that day also, Jotishekhar took harernama from SP. In the daytime, SP put up at the Jagannatha dharmsala, near the River Vaitarani. they all took prasadam there and then went to the Varaha temple, where the footprints were installed. the prasadam they took there was cooked by the Gaudiya Math themselves, and they gave to the local priest at the Jagannatha temple to offer. They would do this in holy places. They would take the prasadam of the Deity in the holy place. In another place, like a land-holders house, landlords house, they would cook and SP himself would offer that, or someone else would, and after puja they would take. From Jajpur they went, consisting of a party with SP and several leading sannyasis other leading devotees and other devotees also, to Kurmachalam (the place of Shri Kurma). In the evening all the local brahmanas came, and they had a parikram of the temple, ceremonial welcome, and SP installed the footprints of Lord Chaitanya there.
Madan Mohan Malviya specifically asked SP about Deity worship, about the Deities beibng idols. SP told him to go and see the pujaris and ask them. So, the pujari was engaged in cleaniong the archana utensils. He then asked the pujari why he was worshipping stone idols, and was told that, "Your eye is stone, that,s why you can't see: premanjana churita bhakti vilochanena... : sevonmukhe hi jihvado...- If you serve then you can understand." At that time Madan Mohan Malviya came to SP and said, "I want thousands and thousands of such sadhus: There should be thousands and thousands of sadhus by which India can become independant. (Is this the same story as the one earlier in which MMM went to the pujaris and washed the paraphernalia and got answers to his questions? If so which story is correct)?
Once, inside the Jagannatha temple, while taking the darshan of Mahaprabhu's footprint, SP said that Mahaprabhu's footprint is so soft, meaning His heart is also so soft that it melted the stone. "His heart is amando daya — full of mercy, which never causes harm to others (see CC Madhya 10.119. SP often quoted this term)," he said. SP also wrote a poem about that footprint, but it was written and then lost before publication.
18. Disappearance Pastimes
One time SP was with a party of devotees at Kavor, where he had establshed the Ramananda Gaudiya Math. Kavor is the place in Andhra Pradesh, on the Godavari River, where Mahaprabhu discussed with Ramananda Raya. Now, all the devotees were taking prasada there, when SP said to them, "The sun is about to set. You will not get such delicious prasadam like this in the future." This was obliquely referring to his upcoming disappearance from this world. "Such a function will not be held any more," he said. This was at the annual festival of the Kavor Gaudiya Math. Of course, the devotees at that time couldn't understand what he meant, This was five or six years before he passed-away. (Question: Bh John: If this was five or six years before he passed-away, which was quite a while before his departure, then someone reading this book might conclude that this was speculation on the part of Jotisekhara. After all, couldn,t SP have been referring to something else?)
Shortly before his disappearance, SP, on his last visit to Puri, was approached by the Deputy Magistrate of Orissa, Radhe Syama Patnaik, who expressed the opinion that he, SP had done many good things for the world, but had not done much in Puri. He suggested establishing a Bhagavat Sabha (meeting place of devotees) in Puri, as Bhaktivinoda Thakura had done at Jagannatha Ballabha Udyana (Ramananda Raya's place of bhajan). SP replied, "My time has come to leave this world. What can I do now?"
At that time, the grandfather and father of the narrator of this story (Janaki Ballabh Patnaik) were present. they were both initiated by SP . The driver of SP's car, Pyari Mohan Brahmacari (a renowned renounced devotee), sounded the horn of the car, signalling time to go. At that time SP noticed that JBP's grandfather was present and asked him, "How are you?" JBP's grandfather said to this son, "Now take your last darshan of SP. I don't think he will come here again." JBP's father paid obeisances to SP, who looked at him in a most merciful way. JBP's father felt as if SP were crying within, but did not express it externally.
In Vrndavan, early in 1935, he wrote a letter, saying that, "I have to stay in this world ten years more, but now I am going. The internal struggle in the Gaudiya Math is too much. They don't want me in this world!" In the last one or two years he became very critical of materially motivated devotees, especially Bon Maharaja, who was sent to London to preach, but started a Hindu Mission there. SP wrote to the king of Tripura, the Maharaja of Tripura, who was a great supporter of religious preachers, especially the Gaudiya Math. He wrote to him saying, "Don't give any money to Bon Maharaja." He also critisized Bhaktiviveka Bharati Maharaja as the Auli Rani sannyasi. He also critisized Kunja Babu for his smarta sraddha ceremony. Several times SP spoke to them individually, and also in the istha gosthi, but they were unruly, desiring power. Before SP diappeared he disliked many, not all of them: Shridhar Maharaja, Bhaktisvarupa Puri Maharaja, Giri Maharaja, Bhaktipratheep Tirtha Maharaja, and others, were all liked by him. (Question: Bh John: It doesn't seem to suit to the character of SP that he should have this type of defeatest attitude. After all, wasn't he called the "Lion Guru". So how do we see his seeming despondency, without becoming critical, thinking that he gave up to easily, and left this world early because of some trouble from devotees?) (Answer: B.V.Swami: Ask Jotisekhara. ACBSP also said he left early, being disgusted). (Question: Bh John: In your answer, who left early, being disgusted, SP or ACBSP)?
At the end of his manifest appearance, SP was feeling somewhat discouraged by the behaviour of some of his disciples. SO, feigning a heart-attack, he went to Radha kund, and he wrote a letter, his last letter, to his disciples. there was some tension between two groups: One headed by Kunja Babu, the other by Ananta Vasudeva. Kunja Babu said, "Unless we (meaning him and his followers) collect money, you cannot do all that you are doing. You're just sitting and writing books on the order of SP." they were writing books and editting his lectures, publishing them, weekly and monthly magazines. So Ananta Vasudeva said, "Unless there is this vani seva, this preaching, by the method of making transcendental literature, the vani of SP , all your collecting money is useless." One party consisted of Ananta Vasudeva, Sundarananda Vidya Vinoda, and others, and the other Kunja Babu and others. Now Kunja Babu's party told the other party, "You should also go for collection. We're collecting and you're simply sitting and writing." But Ananta Vasudeva's party said, "No. We're writing on the order of SP." SP said that one party is doping vani seva and the other is doing vapu seva, and he wrote an article in the Gaudiya magazine, entitled "Vani and Vapu". SP wrote that we are a mission of the vani. We may not collect so much money. Money is not such a great thing. But the vani we must follow." So like this, he pretended to have a heart-attack. He told that he had had a heart-attack. It was at this time that he said he wanted to stay in this world for ten more years but now he was not feeling to do so. He was disturbed by the shraddha ceremony of Kunja Babu. At first SP was very pleased with Kunjada. He was working in the Post Office in Calcutta, helping to organize the mission. Later he went to Messopotamia and sent money for the mission. SP praised him saying, "He is just like a manjari helping the sakhis. He is a manjari. As the manjaris help the sakhis, so Kunjada is helping our mission in many ways." But after ten years, when he performed the smarta shraddha ceremony for his mother, deliberately defying SP's order, SP said, "This day is the day of the downfall of the Gaudiya Mission!" SP sent him three letters to stop that smarta shraddha, but still he went ahead with it. In the beginning, when Kunjada first came, SP appreciated his service and even helped him financially. From 1923 Kunjada was helping SP, but after 1932 he didn't follow his orders properly anymore (Question: Bh John: Why? Did he have some quarrel or something?) Jagat Bandhu Das, a rich merchant, who was preached to by Kunjada, and subsequently erected the Bag Bazaar (big marble temple) in Calcutta. After his death, his two wifes gave all his property to a "Trust", meant to be for the work of the Gaudiya Mission, and Kunjada had a controling position in that Trust. So, after that, he didn't like to follow SP and SP became very sorry for that. He wanted to use that Trust property for his own personal usage. So the first few years with SP were very good, but at the end, very bad. (Question: Bh John: Was it the snarta shraddha ceremony that turned kunjada into a more rebellious devotee? Also, how did they know SP was faking a heart-attack?) (B.V.Swami: More details of feigned heart-attack needed).
Regarding the twp parties, SP felt disturbed by their squabbling. To the party raising money, he said, "Yes you raise money. That is a good thing." He wanted to encourage them also, but he said, "Do not disturb those who are distributing the vani. The money should be for preaching the vani." Both sides would complain to him. For instance, Sundarananda Vidya Vinoda (the editor of the Gaudiya magazine) would come and complain, saying, "You have made me the editor of this magazine, but they are not giving money for it's publication." So SP went from Mayapur, Calcutta to Radha kund, just fifteen days before he passed away. He also said that he had some work to do in Vrndavan, "But I'm not going to do it now."
Ten days before his disappearance, SP wrote a letter, saying, "Ihave many things to do in Vrndavan, but because of internal quarrels in the Math, my life is being shortened by ten years. That letter is printed in the Gaudiya magazine. (Question: Bh John: What were the many things SP had to do in Vrndavan?) (Answer: B.V.Swami: Establish a big temple for Radha Krishna at Radha Kund, preach Krishna consciousness as it really is, not as being preached in the distorted form as at present in Vrndavan).
In his last days, Kunjada brought doctors, who gave SP injections, despite his objections and protests.
At the time of disappearance, his health was good up until around nine days before he passed away, when he had some sudden fever. He was talking Krishna katha just up to the time of his departure from this world. On the evening he passed away. In the daytime he hinted that he was going to depart and in the night his sickness appeared to increase. One doctor came to his bedroom. Then his sickness appeared quite severe and he passed-away at 4.00am.
Before his disappearance, he recited some sloka, which begins, "govardhana dehi pada palavam(?)"
At the time of passing away, around this time, SP was quoting Bhaktivinoda Thakura's Bengali rendering ofthe second sloka of Siksastaka: "amar dudaive name nahoylo rucih...(?) — By my misfortune I have no taste for the holy names..." and beating his head.
SP disapeared aat the age of 62. He accepted the tiltle "Prabhupada" at the age of 57.
In the last Vyasa-puja cermony, in Puri, devotees gave so much pranami (money) that it covered his feet. SP then said, "there is lots of money, but is there lots of life?" There was more than ten thousand rupees, which was a lot of money in those days, but SP said that the life, or the prana is no more than five or ten rupees. This was in 1935. (Not part of disappearance pastimes, so put it in another section).
At the Theistic Exhibition in Mayapur, from that time on Mayapur became famous, because crowds of people came from all over Bengal to see it. It was a great attraction.
Also, on the gates, at the entrance to Mayapur, established by SP (I believe that's called Gauranga Toran[?]), is written: "param vijayate shri krishna sankirtanam. toran(?) — Bengali or Sanskrit word for ornamental entrance gate to a city or temple complex: Two pillars with an arch over the top (this kind of information goes in the footnotes).
The Gaudiya Math owned a launch, for crossing the river, so that people could approach Mayapur from Navadvipa. If the road was very muddy, and some respectable gentleman was coming, then straw was put down and a car or horse cart was sent to Hularghat, and then they could proceed to the Math. Bhakti Sarani was the original name of the road from Hularghat to Mayapur.
Two or three times, that is known of, at night, SP had visions of the Panch tattva in Mayapur. Once, at Brajapatana, Bhakti Bhavan, he saw the Yogapitha as the birthplace of Lord Chaitanya. (Question: Bh John: I thought the Yoga Pitha was known to be the birthplace of Lord Chaitanya by this time, when it was discovered by Bhaktivinoda Thakur. Also, how do we know that he had these dreams? Who did he tell and why did he tell them, seeing as he was always very careful about revealing these types of things?) He had the idea that in Mayapur there should be a Vishnupriya Palli, or an area where ladies were allowed to live andd all the householders could make their houses there. He had the idea for a wonderful library — "The Bhaktivinoda Thakur Research Institute" — a great library, where all the great books of India could be preserved. This was to be at Mayapur. He also wanted a college. All this was a Chaitanya Math project. He wanted a "Pancha-tattva" building (temple building). He wanted two buildings, called Shrivasa Angan, and Advaita Bhavan Shridharangan(?) Murari Gupta Bhavan(?) These were his ideas for Mayapur. He wanted to build it up.
At the Chaitanya Math temple in Mayapur, the temple of Shri Shri Guru Gauranga Vinoda Pranjin jula(?) he had the acharyas deities — namely, Ramanuja, Madhva, Vishnuswami, and Nimbarka, established.
SP tried his best to develop Mayapur.
21. Preaching in the West and to Westeners.
SP was very anxious about preaching in the west, and would often speak about how Lord Chaitanya's message would be broadcast through the modern media, radio, televidsion, etc. He was very anxious how this would take place. He told many times to the devotees going overseas: "You tell them about going back to Godhead." (???...) Jotisekhara Prabhu notes how Tirtha Maharaja, Bon Maharaja, they went to |London. But they just tried to catch a few top people in society. they had no idea how to catch the masses.
Just a very few foreigners came, like Sadananda brahmacari came from Germany, he came to India.
He was very hopeful for preaching in the western countries. In Puri he said that Jagannatha should go throughout the jagat. The world will accept the maha-mantra and maha-prasadam. Bhaktivinoda Thakura has said that the time will come when thousands of devotees will be there throughout the world. That will come.
He gave instructions to devotees going west: "Don't be a historian. Don't talk of Krishna consciousness in an historical way. Present it as something transcendental. Don't describe Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Lord Krishna as historical figures. Otherwise that means avajananti mam mudha. Don't present Them as ordinary people. They are like the sun for the whole world."
An example used by ISKCON's SP in the beginning of his Bhagavatam was originally given by SP: How to preach in a foreign contry. If someone is living in a foreign country and his house is on fire, but he doesn't know the language, somehow or other he will communicate. So somehow or other, when you go to a foreign country, the message is foreign to them, but somehow or other you have to communicate it. It's an emergency situation: People are going to hell. ISKCON's SP wrote that in a letter 4/21/70.
On the instruction of SP Aprakrta Bhakti Saranga Goswami approached the Governor of Patna, who was a Britisher, naturally, who was favouerable to the Gaudiya Math, to introduce a motion into government to help preacherrs go overseas.
Regarding the caste system he said, "Everyone will be allowed to come to the Nat Mandir (the place where everyone comes in front of the Deities to take darshan and dance before Them). He said that there will be a great Nat Mandir constructed in the western world, where all will come together, dance, chant, and embrace.
SP said that in the near future our message shall spread throughout the world. The time is coming. We are preaching, and if no one is coming now, don't be disappointed if people are refusing to come. In the future those who are false devotees will go away and the real sadhus, with a good heart, they will come. Those who are cheaters (kapat) they will go out, jumping over the wall, and those proper devotees they will come. Bad blood will go out and fresh blood will come to India. He was referring to westerners coming. He was very happy when westerners came. At that time no one could imagine westerners (rulers) taking up "Indian" culture and religion. Jotisekhara remembers that one time when he was at Puri, an Australian man came and SP, "Give him water. Give him prasadam. Look afrter him!" He gave Jotisekhara charge for this, saying, "Make sure that no disturbance is caused to him. Always serve him." Jotisekhara was still a yuoung boy at the time. SP liked westerners very much. His English speaches, many of which were printed inn the Harmonist, were meant especially for them. He said that the sun is going from the east to the west. In the same way Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's philosophy would go from east to west. The time is coming when the sun will rise there and there will be darkness in India. SP sent disciples to the west. He didn't go himself. He said, "If I go tothe west, our preaching and programmes will be affected in India. At that time, going by ship took a long time. Also, SP's English wasn't so perfect for lecturing. Between 1925 and 1933(?) he established fifty centres in India. He was so busy expanding his work. So for this reason also he didn't go to the west.
When Bon Maharaje went to London to make a lecture in a public hall, SP said in a message he sent: You should preach like this: Tell then that we are not Hindus. We are not brahmanas, and have no caste. We are Vaishnava das anu das. Hinduism is not our aim or object," and he told the westerners, "Don't think that you are the rulers. You are the servant of the servant of Krishna."
Bon Maharaja. Bhakti Pradip Tirtha Maharaja, he also knew English very well, so he went to London with Bon Maharaja, even though he wasn't such an eloquent speaker as Bon Maharaja he was proficient in English. Was from a Bengali family, settled in Cuttak. On the order of SP, N.K. Sanyal would write speaches and send them by airmail to Bon Maharaja to speak in england, because Bon Maharja was a good orator, but his scholarship and command of philosophy was not as great as that of N.K. Sanyal, as later became very apparent, he was somewhat lacking in the devotional sentiments to such an extent that he was rejected by SP. So theteam ibn London was Bon Maharaja and tirtha Maharaja. Bon Maharaja was there — an impressive figure, an impressive orator — and Tirtha Maharaja was an actual devotee. Also, Goswami Maharaja was there at some point. The first time Bon Maharja went with Tirtha Maharaja, Bhakti Pradip Tirtha Maharaja. the second time he went with Bhakti Saranga Goswami Maharaja, who was generally known as Goswami Maharaja, and another man, a grihastha assistant for cooking, etc. They conducted their activities of preaching usually in western dress — first-class western dress. King George the Sixth (Question: Bhakta John: was it Fifth or Sixth?) was met by Goswami Maharaja first of all in his chamberr and later on he met both Bon Maharja and Goswami Maharaja at a public function, with so many others they went and shook hands, offered some respect, like that, and they met many famouis aristocrats, members of the aristocracy, Lords and Ladies, but they didn't make any significant impression on the minds of the people.
When any European came to the Math, how he should be preached to was given by SP: "Don't dictate to him, `You must do like this,' but inspire him to serve Krishna." He also told that idea to mahatma Gandhi, that you should speak to the westerners like this. Don't disturb them. Don't upset their minds. He will accept everything but we should not compel them. Dictation is not our aim and object. Inspirartion is our aim and object. He has a soul and we should inspire that soul. He is Krishna das. He is ...(???) if we deal with him properly he will get the right impression automatically. Service is the only methjod by which inspiration (???...) if we are sevonmukhe, if we are inclined to serve, then he will also get the inspiration to serve Krishna.
When George the Fifth was ruling SP made a special edition of Nadia Prakash, the English newspaper, at the Gaudiya Math. George the Fifth himself appreciated that. He told the Governors and the then Viceroy of India to help SP in all respects. SP tried to get some motion in government to help preachers going overseas. One cabinet minister in England, named the Earl of Zetland, wanted to give a chance for the Gaudiya Math people to preach in Britain. The British appreciated that he is not disturbing us and he is encouraging religion. The special edition of Nadia Prakash had thirty pages in all, all in English, and it said that India should be ruled by the devotees' ideas. Devotees may not be expert to practically rule, but they can give the spiritual idea. Then India will be happy. The British can continue to rule India, but they should listen to the devotees. George the Fifth aappreciated this as compared to the "Quit India" campaign of Mahatma Gandhi and others. This special edition of Nadia Prakash had pictures of George V on a horse, and the then British Prime Minister. It was sent to many of the leaders in Britain. Another book, "Erotic Principle and Unalloyed Devotion," was sent to al libraries, political, religious, and intellectual leaders, free, throughout the world. He tried to catch the leaders and convince them — yad yad acarya srestas...
SP spoke of the Gaudiya Math as the Gaudiya Mission aftter sending preachers to Europe...(???)
The road from Hular ghata to the Chaitanya Math in Mayapur was very muddy, so SP had them put straw all over the road, so the car could come, at the time of the visit of John Anderson, the Governor of Bengal.
SP said that Lord Chaitanya preached "extended Christianity" in a Chaitanya Bhagavata purport. In other words, whatever Jesus Christ taught, those ideas are there in Lord Chaitanya's philosophy, but much expanded upon. He accepted Jesus as a saktyavesa avatara. He spoke of the amandodaya daya of Lord Chaitanya — the mercy by which doing good to some doesn't do any harm to others.
Commenting on "Do not take the name of the Lord in vain" — the teachings of Jesus — SP said that "in vain" means anyabhilasa (Material desires. See CC Mad. 24.330.), or cultivating another motive other than pure devotion.
"Give us our daily bread" was interpreted by SP that "bread" means "food for the soul." In Paul's letter he said that we don't sacrifice any animal, but "sacrifice your self and chant the names of God." SP quoted this. This is giving the idea of the sankirtan movement. About Jesus Christ he said, " He was a saktyavesa avatara. He didn't teach this eat, drink, and be merry business."
23. Mahatma Gandhi, etc.
So, at the time the Independance Movement and the Gaudiya math were not on very good terms, because the Gaudiya Math were not against British rule, and even used to invite governors and other big officials of the British Raja to preside over their meetings as chief guests like this. (Question: Bh John: This seems to be a classic example of SP provoking trouble, like you said in the introduction. Did SP start this inviting of big British officials before or after the incident concerning the flood relief money? the reason I am asking is that it is good to know exactly what occurred first in SP's disagreements with the Independance Movement. What was the first major confrontation that sparked it off?)
Of course, even Bhaktivinoda Thakura was very supportive of the British Raja. One time, in a public meeting in Madras, a guest speaker, Raja Gopal Acarya, a famous member of the Indian Independence Movement. They used to invite such people to make the function appear respectable to materialistic people, so he was invited to speak and he spoke against the Gaudiya Math, Saying, "You're against the idea of independance. You have no independance. You are just using borrowed ideas."
Because Sp didn't support Gandhi's independance movement, and in fact invited British dignitaries to important functions of the Gaudiya Math, there was open disagreement between the followers of Gandhi and the followers of SP, or rather, there was open disagreement between Gandhi and SP. It was Madan Mohan Malavya(?) of Benares Hindu University, who prompted Gandhi to approach SP, telling him that this sadhu is a great learned and respectable scholar, with many followers, especially in Bengal and Orissa, so you try to bring him into your fold. But SP could never accept his usage of the word "jayanti" or "harijan" for ordinary people. Gandhi gave ten questions to SP in an attempt to bring hin into his fold, but he was unsuccessful. Gandhi did not like SP because of this, and SP did not like Gandhi, but no tension developed between them or their followers, as it did that one time when Netharji Subhas Bose made his demonstration outside the Gaudiya Math in Bag Bazaar. Citaranjan Das, and many other famous leaders of Bengal, Orissa, and Benares, liked SP and very much appreciated his mission. Someone else who liked SP was Mati Lal Nehru(?) of Allalahbad, the father of Jawaharlal Nehru. SP only told to the people wanting independance, "Your mission is a karmi mission. Our mission is a mission of devotion." Gandhi's followers used a translation of the Gita in Hindi, by some karmi. SP didn't like that. That was the edition of Balagangadhar Tilak, the guru of Gandhi.
In 1934 Mahatma Gandhi gave ten questions. He presented ten questions for the scholars and the pandits of the time to answer. SP had his answers published in the Gaudiya. They were questions like "what is a harijan?" Generally SP gave the answer that generally harijan means someone of low caste. No Hari-bhakta is a harijan. Don't say that the harijan is someone from the lower caste. In our temple, anyone of any caste can come and join in. There is no caste system. Harijan is the highest person, not the lowest. So like this he defined the proper usage of words. Just like "jayanti" — don't use that word for an ordinary man. Jayanti means the day on which Krishna was born — Krishna -jayanti, or Gaura jayanti. You cannot even use that for other forms of the Lord like Rama or Nrsimha. what to speak of the modern age: they say Gandhi jayanti, Ravindra jayanti, vidya(?) jayanti, Mahavir jayanti. this is all incorrect. (Question: bhakta John: Can we get all ten questions and answers?)
Also Gandhi, when starting his non-violence movement, put ten questions to SP, in Calcutta. The replies were published in the Harmonist, and Gandhi also appreciated these, which were, of course, according to sastra. (What were they?)
In the year 1931 there was a huge flood in the Mednapur district of West Benga, desterying many villages and many people's livelihoods. At the same time SP was contemplating his "Theistic Doll Exhibition" and collecting donations for it. One devotee was collecting in the name of Flood Relief, making a lot of money, but SP took it and engagedit for the exhibitionNetharji Subhas Bose took a party outside the Bagbazaar Gaudiya Math in Calcutta in protest against this action. They had a protest party standing at the gate of the Gaudiya Math, staying outside for several days and nights, sleeping onthe gate, with banners, signs of protest, and regular chanting of "Jai Hind!" and slogans in protest against the doll exhibition utilizing the funds that were collected for flood relief. In this strike, Gandhi also came to Calcutta to join Netharji Subhas Bose. This went on for three days. SP said that the oil for the Deities lamp should not be used for your chakha (Gandhiji's spinning wheel). After sitting in the temple for three days, SP came out and spoke to them like this. He also said that "We must start a daily newspaper, to presenr our points of view", and from that time on he started Nadia Prakash, the daily spiritual newspaper. One of the main purposes of Nadia Prakash was to answer such challenges as these, which were put to his mission. SP said, "there are floods in Mednapur, but you are already in a much worse flood — bhava sagar, or the ocean of material existence. Your soul is drowned in this bhava sagar. So my mission is to stop the flood of the bhava sagar, to stop that flood, a much bigger flood than these small floods which you consider devastating in Mednapur. These incidents were, of course, reported in all the newspapers, especially in Calcutta. At that time Mahatma Gandhiput twelve questions to SP (was it ten or twelve?) Cittaranjan Das, a very prominent, famous and wealthy advocate and a leader of the Independence Movement in India at that time, said that SP was a singha guru, or a lion guru. Also, Shishir Kumar Ghosh, editor of Amrita Bazaar Patrika(?) a famous paper in Calcutta, also called him that. (Question: Bh John: Did SP come out winning the confrontation about the fllod relief money or not? Was there a bad public feeling about this or not?)
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose came one time with a party of supporters to the Gaudiya Math, at the time when SP was holding his first "Theistic Exhibition" in Mednapur. Now, at that time there had been a great flood in Mednapur, a district west of Calcutta. Because of the flood the people were in grea difficulty — poverty stricken. This was in 1933. they were suffering from shortages of rice, cloth, and all essentials, so Netaji came and told SP, "You stop this exhibition! Why are you spending so much money for this when the people need practical help? You're spending so much money for lights, electricity. You have elephants and so many other things." SP then told him, "No, you do not know. This is the only way to root-out miseries from the world. You are working only for the good of the body. You are treating the symptoms not the original disease. Don't blow on boils — operate.
Annie Besant, Mahatma Gandhi's friend from London, who was famous for founding the "Theosophical Society" also came and said the same thing and SP gave the same answer. Mahatma Gandhi also came and told SP, "Don't waste money on this. Spend money on the daridra Narayana, the poor Narayana." SP then told him, "Your idea is wrong. You cannot serve daridra Narayana. Just as you cannot mix gold and stone. This is cit-jada-vada or attempting to mix the material with the spiritual — tasmin tuste jagat tusta — if Krishna is satisfied then the whole world is satisfied. You don't disturb us. In the Jagannatha temple they are using ghee for the ghee-wick. You don't say to use it for oiling the wheel, your spinning wheel. All the oils should be used for Krishna." Madan Mohan Malavya(?) formerly told this story at Benares Hindu University. He accepted SP as a great sadhu. When he visited the Gaudiya Math he said, "You are the only man preaching the independance of the soul. We are trying to get independance for India. That means independance for the body only. I want brahmacaris like you. Thousands like you are needed all over India. You are the only man preaching about the soul."
ISKCON's SP conversation: Aug 2, 1976: "My guru maharaja at every step condemned the Rama Krishna Mission and Vivekananda. He said quite frankly, `If there are any impediments for our movement it is Gandhi and Vivekananda.' He said frankly, `Hodge-podge. Gandhi's also hodge-podge. He was a politician and in politics he mixed some spiritual ideas and made a hodge-podge. This Vivekananda was also a politician...'"
At the time when SP was preaching, the Rama Krishna Mission was very prominent, especially in Bengal. They were very active in material welfare work and made some pracar (propoganda) that this is religious. Sarasvati Thakura, however, wrote many articles against them. About Rama Krishna himself Sarasvati Thakura said, "He looks just like a goat with his beard."
Raja Gopal Sastri was a well-known scholar of Royapeta in Madras.
Janaki Nath Bose. SP went to his house in Cuttak. He was invited there once. He was the father of Netaji Subhas Bose and was a famous advocate. Janaki Baba challenged him, saying, "Why are you coming to Orissa and erecting new temples? There are so many temples here in a state of ruin. Why don't you renovate them instead of making new ones?" SP replied, "In a temple we want to speak on the pure siddhanta of the Gaudiya Vaishnavas, but no one will allow us to speak so clearly and purely in their temple. Therefore, our own place is required. We want a temple where we can speak this truth freely, without fear of constraint." So Janaki Babu donated to SP for that purpose. Janaki Babu was not against SP but he had some doubts. That's only why he asked. He and his wife were both very pious people. (Question: BH John: What did he think of the incident concerning his son and the flood relief money?)
One time, Janaki Nath Bose, the father of Netaji Subhas Bose, came to visit SP at the temple dressed in English dress — coat, shirt, pants, etc. SP gave him a chair to sit on, although most visitors would be content to sit on the floor, but SP gave him a chair. It wa at Cuttak where Janaki Nath resided. SP had him honoured with a fan. One devotee waved the fan. SP treated him respectfully, as he was a rich, learned, and prominent man. SP at that time told him, "I request you not to take flesh or fish anymore," because Janakinath had hired mohammaden cooks in his house for cooking these things. SP said, "I will send you prasadam every day from the Math. A tifin was sent everyday to be filled up for Janakinath Bose and his family. This went on for ten years. His mother, father, everyone, took mahaprasada, until Janakinath Bose died. So we see the way SP dealt with rich and prominent people. Janakinath was a very prominent advocate of Cuttak. He had eighteen sons from one wife (get this verified) of whom Netaji Subhas was one.
One Raja had given an elephant to Janakinath. SP later wanted an elephant for parikram and Janakinath gave that to SP. The Raja who had so many elephants had given the elephant as payment for his fees, as Janakinath had heard a case for him. (Question: BH John: It seems Janakinath favoured SP even though his son Netaji Subhas didn't. Is this true?)
One prominent advocate came to see SP at Bagbazaar, but he committed a great offence by smoking in front of him. (???...) He did not care to listen to what SP said. three times Goswami Mahraja requested him to stop smoking, but he did not heed his request. After a few days he became infected with cholera and shortly thereafter died in hospital.
Madan Mohan Malviya(?) A household name, especially in north India, where he was highly respected as a scholar and patriot. A member of the Indian congress and Vice-Chancellor of Benares Hindu University. A prominent figure in the movement for Indian independance, for which he was an expert and insatiable fund-raiser.
A staunchly traditional Hindu, he was not fond of M.K. Gandhi or J.L. Nehru, both of whom he considered adharmic (irreligious). (Why did he consider then irreligious, especially Gandhi?) (Answer: B.V.Swami: No need to put this in the book. Gandhi was a non-traditionalistic, and used a pose of being religious for political purposes. His promoting of the lower castes was not appreciated by traditionalistic Hindus). (Bh John: Question: I think it is good to put in the book, as it will explain why Madan Mohan Malviya saw them as irreligious. Also, aren't the traditionalistic Hindus into castism in a negative, wrong way, seeing themselves born as a higher or lower caste and unable to change due to birth)?
25. Nitai Gaura Radhe Syam..., mantra, sankirtan, chanting, etc.
One time in Puri, one pilgrim asked one of the inmates of the Gaudfiya math to take him to Charan Das Babaji's disciple's, Ram Das babaji's matha. Ram Das Babaji means Nitai Gaura radhe Syam. He had the Jhanj Pita Math(?) (Is this Ram Das Babaji another name for Radha Ramana Charan Das Babaji?) the brahmacari took the pilgrim. Maybe he was a relation or something like that. On the way they met Ram Das Babaji and the brahmacari rebuked him as being a sahajiya. When SP heard this he said, "Ram Das Babaji's moral character is very good. You may not possess such a a strong moral character." He asked him to return and beg forgiveness from him. "His siddhanta is bad, but not his character, so criticize his teachings, not him personally," said SP. It seems that SP was identifying sahajaism with the illicit sex cults of which Ram Das Babaji was not a part of.
Once, when invited by Rama das Babaji to his matha, SP went and took prasadam there. SP sent prasadam from Purushottama Math, in Puri, to Jhanj Pita Math(?) and Jotisekhara Prabhu says that he himself, Jotisekhara, personally took that prasadam. That was on one day only. So there was a mixture of good and bad feeling s between them.
SP also told his disciples: "You should make a written notice and put it on every tree in every village, that this Nitai gaura Radhe Syam is not a proper mantra, and is apasiddhantic." So, after some time, Rama Das Babaji told his followers, "When you go to the temple of Totha Gopinatha, don't go to the temple of Totha Gopinatha, don't go by Chatak Parvat, where the Purushottama Math is situated, but go another way so as not to disturb them."
Charan Das Babaji was formerly initiated by Jagannatha Das Babaji, but was rejected by him later. One group of his disciples had a system that in his temples his photo would be on the altar and these disciples would put tulasi at his feet. SP very strongly objected to this. His followers split into two groups. One put tulasi on his feet, another didn't.
Often people who were good singers would come to the matha or to a public function and would like to sing because it is very common even today in Bengal and Orissa, that people they learn how to sing bhajans and different kinds of devotional songs — folk songs. And they like to sing. Sometimes they may make a show of singing in a so-called "devotional" manner. It is a whole performance. So when such people came SP would have them sing nam sankirtan: Hare Krishna Maha mantra or something: Haraye namah Krishna... Pancha Tattva Maha mantra. But he wouldn't have them sing bhajans which express the mood of a Vaishnava if they didn't have such a mood. for them only nam sankirtan. They often like to sing Vaishnava bhajans with imitative feelings.
It is a tradition in Bengali kirtan to add akhara. Meaning that
along with the song you add some line which isn't in the original song but which
enhances the mood of the song or part of the song. For instance, when we sing
sankha bhaje gantha bhaje madhur madhur madhur bhaje (see song book for
spelling), it is an akhara to the line, "sankha bhaje ghantha bhaje bhaje
karatala, madhurya mrdanga bhaje parama rasala." We also see for instance
in Bhaktivinoda Thakura's songs that he many times added the akhara which is to
be sung. But SP did not encourage the devotees to make up their own akar and
add them to songs. He never liked that. Sometimes we find that people sing
akars and use so many that you can hardly distinguish what is the original
song. Also, unless they are expert in the devotional science, they may
introduce some bhakti siddhanta virudha or rasa bhasa. It is said in the
Chaitanya Charitamrita Madhya 10.113 (check): "bhakti siddhanta virudha ar
rasa bhasa sunite prabhu chaitanya na hoi abas(?)" So to avoid this
danger, and also sokjeone imagining himself as a great poet, as a great
composer of akars, which you also find, SP recommended to just stick to the
original song that is given by the acharyas.
Another chant popular in Bengal and Orissa was "Shri Krishna Chaitanya Prabhu Nityananda, Hare Krishna Hare Rama, Shri Radhe Govinda," which was not objected to by SP. He never said that this was rasa bhasa, saying that Nitai Gaura Radhe Syam was rasa bhasa, as they put Nitai Gaura and Radhe Syam in one line together, whereas the Hare Krishna Hare Rama, Shri Radhe Govinda is on a separate line.
26. Vratas and Austerities
For four or five years SP observed caturmasya after starting the Gaudiya Math. Then he stopped doing it. But those who were living in the Math they observed caturmasya. He used to observe urjavrata every year, according to Hari-bhakti-vilas, sometimes in Puri, sometimes in Radha Kund. He would stay in one place for a month without moving. According to Hari-bhakti-vilas, that means during caturmasya they wouldn't take brinjala (egg-plant) potala (a kind of vegetable), gur (raw sugar), and all luxurious things were given up. Whilst he was observing the vow to chant ten million names of the maha-mantra, he would bend down to take kichirie(?) from the floor, in the way a cow would. This is called go-gras, or in the manner of a cow. During the urja-vrata (vows observed during Kartik, the month of Damodara) he would take food once a day, cooked with no spices — rice, dahl, sabji, and a little ghee. During caturmasya he took sea-salt, not the machine processed salt.
At Radha Kund he fed the brajabasis and brahmanas very happily, giving plenty of katchouries, sweet rice (known as chac a chac, which means `first-class', in Vrndavan) sweets. One time he served at Radha Kund so many people prasadam. He took two motor cars full from Vrndavan to Radha Kund to serve.
Two Brajabasis were SP's disciples. One was from Varsana and the other from Radha Kund. SP gave them special regard and was very intimate with them. He told how Sanatan Goswami would go place to place in Vrndavan and speak with the Brajabasis, saying, "How are you? How are your children? etc." Rupa Goswami said, "This is Hari katha not gramya katha, because it is in relationship with Brajabasis."
In Vrndavan there were sadhus who were considered siddha purusa. Narahari Das Babaji and Vinoda Bihari babaji. there were other elevated babajis also, but these two were very special. When SP went to Radha Kund he spoke intimately with them. Also, in the Radha Ramana temple, Gokulananda temple in Vrndavan were some devotees he spoke intimately with.
Sometimes in Mayapur it used to happen that some of the Muslim villagers would come and steal from the store of the Gaudiya Math. Items like rice, fruit, etc. One time one devotee caught a thief and brought him before SP. He said, "Do not punish him but give him what he wants, and give him some rupees also, because he is a dhama basi." Same story, Vinoda Babu.
SP loved the Mohammedans of Mayapur. He was very fond of them. they had a very good relationship. SP always considered their descent from the Chand Kazi and their being dham-vasis.
Going on the Vraja Mandala Parikram, SP would have basketfuls of tomatoes, radishes (the long, white, Indian vashriety), guavas, etc., carried from village to village, and he would distribute it to the villagers. they would distribute and then send a car to purchase more again and again. He used to give to the boys and girls especially of Braja, but if his disciples stretched out their hands to take, he would say, "No, no. This is not for you!" He would personally give by his own hand, not only to the young children, but to all, young and old. He very much liked to serve Brajabasis.
In Chiriya-kunj, in Vrndavan, was one Krishna Das Babaji, who was a friend of Bhaktivinoda Thakura. He would sometimes put outside his kutir all old scales of fish and horrible things, so people would think that he was not a good sadhu and wouldn't come and disturb him. Sometimes he would pay a woman of the Bangi caste (very lowest caste), to sit outside his cottage so that people would think that he was having some dealings, some affair with a low caste woman, so they wouldn't come to bother him. Bhaktivinoda thakura told about this saying he was doing this as a kind of lila, just to make people think he was a rogue and therefore not bother him, so as he could do his bhajan peacefully.
28. On mangement
Many sannyasis and leading devotees of the Gaudiya Math told SP to make a will for the management and organization of the Gaudiya Math after his departure. SP didn't like tthat, saying, "If money is kept within the Mission we will become mahanta (a term referring to the propriortor of a temple in Bengal or Vrndavan) and by managing the temple they live very comfortably. They manage the funds of the temple and live very comfortably. So SP said, "I don't want to make any agreement or document. When there is life in the mission it will run on. I am not a contractor or a mason. I have not established these temples in the manner of a contractor or a mason. If life is there, with or without any document or will, everything will go on. But if there's no life, with or without a document then things will not go on in a spiritual way. Without the living source, without life, then the mission has no meaning. It will be a bad mission. rupa raghunatha vani pracar — this is what we want. I am the priya of Rupa Raghunatha. I am not the priya of some contractor. I build these temples for love of Rupa raghunatha, not for increasing some contractor's business. I havbe not come to build so many temles for the world's sake but for God's sake."
Kunja Babu presented a will to the High Court, a will of SP, but it was rejected as a forgery. This was after the disappearance of SP. SP made a document saying that three devotees should manage. Namely: Kunjada Babu, Vassudeva, and Paramananda. They were not the owners of the temple. Kirtananda brahmacari asked SP to keep some money aside, because the devotees had dedicated their lives. If there were medical expenses or some emergency, then some money would have to be spent. SP said, "You go and preach to the people, and if they are convinced they will help you. If not they may not give to you. try to convince them that the path of Lord Chaitanya is absolutely good. Otherwise if you just go to collect money, it will just be a profession. When you preach, people will put many questions to you and examine you. You must give clear answers to them, then you can spread the message of Lord Chaitanya. If you try to satisfy the public for the purpose of collection, then it is a mahanta matha. Every day go to the householders." After 7.00am no one would stay in the matha. SP's order was that everyone should go out to meet the public. "Don't sit idly in the matha, then you are mathua (idle man). Even if you meet only five members of the public everyday still you should go out."
For Gaudiya Math devotees who were to be married, that was performed according to the "Satakriya Sardipika(?)" by one devotee — Acarya Das Adhikari. He was authorized by SP to do so, and he would usually marry the devotees within their own caste. After marriage, the devotees were still expected to follow the full system of harernama and all the other points. The marriage was performed in their home village or town, not in the math. Shraddha ceremonies were performed in the matha. Unmarried girls would take harernama at their own risk. If their parents married them to someone who was opposed to their Krishna consciousness then they had to continue whatever their husband was like.
There was a disciple of SP named Acharya Das who would perform the marriage ceremonies, shraddhas, and all these things, according to Vaishnava rituals, for the householder members of the Gaudiya Math. He performed all these samskaras according to Satkriya Sardipika of Gopal Bhatta Goswami. Grhasthas would live outside, but SP would expect them to come regularly to the matha and engage in devotional activities. One time, one householder who hadn't been coming regularly, came to the matha. SP called him over and spoke to him, saying, "Why are you all the time remaining at home and chewing the chewed. You're always engaged in inauspicious material activities. Why don't you come regularly to the matha?" SP made a rule that after diksa, that is what was called gayatri initiation, the householders must be very strict. they should come regularly every evening and listen to the Hari katha, and they can't get up in the middle and leave. they have to stay in the matha for the whole evening activities, then they could go home only. After diksa SP liked that they would keep this standard, that they would have no more children, no more sex. One Satish Chandra Babu(?), a householder devotee disciple of SP, approached him for diksha, and SP told him, "Diksha means you have to become very strict."
Once, a young man came to SP in Mayapur for a blessing before his marriage. SP said, "You become a disciple and take harernama. Marriage means to engage your family in devotion, otherwise marriage is bad. First of all promise that you will be good and then your family will be good. Marriage is not absolutely required, but if you really must, stay pure by getting married. If you can't keep your marriage pure, I don't recognize it." that boy took harinama.
SP didn't encourage brahmacaries to marry. If they were insistent, they were allowed to marry, but the idea was that they were to make their family life Krishna conscious.
SP's ideals for householders was that whatever they earned they should give all to him and he would return them something by which they could live. At least Professor N.K. Sanyal (Bhakti Sudhakara Prabhu?) followed this. He earned Rs.900 a month — a good salary then — which he gave all to SP. Sp would then give him back Rs.300 for his household expenses. Another householder, Sundarananda Vidya Vinoda, ar first sacrificed all his money like this, then he later left home to live as a separate grhastha within the mission. Some, but not all householders, who had firm faith in SP would dedicate their salaries like this for the mission. SP never pressurized his householders, but he liked them to do this saying, "If you do this, even in the householder life you are a saranagata bhakta, or a surrendered devotee. First of all use money for God's sake, then you take for yourself.
SP always encouraged brahmacari life and not grhastha life.
His policy was that women must be married and unmarried women he didn't like that idea. Women were always separate from the men, in the public assembly and women should be married. "Chik" — a fine bamboo screen for dividing women from men. Not only in the Gaudiya Math but was also common in public meetings.
He did accept just a very few unmarried women as disciples and that was at their own risk. In other words, if they got a non-devotee husband, due to the arrangement of their parents, that was not SP's concern.
SP liked to have temples in populated areas in the cities, not in very lonely places, although, of course, he didn't establish many centres in specific holy places related to the lila of the Lord Krishna. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, that was a different matter. (Why?)
SP established Mathas in towns and cities. He was asked once by a devotee, "Why are you establishing within the towns? Usually temples are established on hill-sides, or in a secluded, peaceful place." But SP said, "I am not a nirjan bhajan sadhu. I have come to the town because people may come to the temple to hear Hari-katha. the place where Hari-katha is propogated, that is nirjana."
In Calcutta someone asked him, "You have installed so many Deities in temples, but you didn't make any land or provisions for the Deities (usually, when a temple is established, the traditional system is some land or other allowance is made so that the Deities maintenance will be assured in the future). the time will come when noone will give you alms, so how will the temples run on?" SP said, "I am not an engineer or a mason that I am building temples like this. I am the peon of Rupa and Raghunatha. I've come to the world to bring life. If there is no life in the temple. If there are lifeless people and the temples should be lost, I don't care for that. The Ramanujacarya temple in Puri (Amar Math) — one guru in his line, some time after him, called Guru Govinda(?), he said, `You destroy this tempe because there is no life in it. If there is no life in the temple then it is not required!'" Actually, this is an historical fact, that the temple was broken. SP gave this example from this Shri Vaishnava temple in Puri. the temple was destroyed because the sadhus misused the facilities. the bricks were distributed to the public. This was before the time of Lord Chaitanya, and after the temple was rebuilt.
SP had many old Vishnu temples in villages restored and repaired.
On his sixtieth birthday, they celebrated the Vyasa puja celebration at Puri, at Chatak-Parvat, tyhe Purushottama Math. This was attended by the Raja (king) of Puri, the district collector, and other dignitaries — all very big peopole. So SP said that at that time that a temple of Radha was absolutely required there, because that Chatak-Parvat is non-different from Govardhan Hill, so he said a temple of Radha was required — Radha Krishna. SO the Raja of Mayurbhanj gave a donation for that temple. That temple was not completed in SP's time, but later it was.
In Vraja he wanted to make his biggest temple at Radha Kund. He also wanted a big temple at Chatak Parvat, in Puri, which is non-different from Govardhan Hill. In Radha Kund he wanted Radha's temple — that means Radha Krishna temple — and eight temples for the asta sakhis. He said, "There is no big temple for Radha in Radha Kund." He said these things on the Vraja Mandala Parikram in 1935. that day they also fed chaka chak prasada to the Brajabasis.
At Bhubaneswar, when SP established the tridandi Gaudiya Math, he made a sak (spinach) festival. Sak is very simple green-leaved food, coming in many varities in India, especially Bengal and Orissa. Lord Chaitanya was very fond of that sak. Generally it is thought of as a poor man's kind of food. SP was also very fond of it and made tghis sak festival, or "festival of spinach", then he installed the Deities there. there were twnty five different varieites of spinach cookedthere. Not twenty five different ways of cooking necessarily, but twenty five differrent kinds of spinach. Just like, for instance, there is Data sak, Lal sak, Kumra sak, Karala sak, Pat sak, Palang sak, Helancha sak, Kochu sak, Potol sak, Kai sak, etc. At Chatak-Parvat, two days before the annakuta mahotsava (Govardhana Puja) ceremony in 1932, he informed the devotees to gather bhoga from different parts of India. Devotees brought one thousand different types of preperations, cooked in different parts of India. there were South Indian varieties, Gujarati varieites, North Indian varieties, Bengali varieties, Oriyan varieties, etc. there were so many recipies. Apurna(?) Devi, living in Vrndavan, cooked something (can't understand what it is ...???) Telegrammes were sent and devotees came from different parts of India, like Mysore, Dacka, East Bengal, and so many different things were brought.
33. Parikramas and Festivals.
During the Braja Mandal Parikrama, SP revealed (rediscovered) many places of Krishna lila. at the festival in Radha kund he fed the brijbasis so nicely — opulent food like laddu, pera, kacoris, etc. — that they could never forget. the parikrama party stopped for seven days at Radha kund. At Radha kund on Radhastami, 500 people assembled to hear SP's speach. All spaces above and below were filled up. At one point he began speaking animatedly on Radha-tattva. After ten to fifteen minutes he stopped, silent, overwhelmed with ecstasy. After some time he again began speaking.
Jaga Mohan Pattanayak an advocate, asked SP at Sachidananda Math, in Cuttack, "Why do you have such big festivals? And why serve so many preperatuions at your festivals? In other temples, at festivals they only serve rice and one other preperation to all the people, but youi serve rice, kitchrie, sweet-rice, etc. Why?" SP replied, "All these things we are offering to God, and we are not distributing this prasadam just to any general public, but to Vaishnavas. Whoever comes to our festival, whether initiated or not, are Vaishnavas. They are special people because they have come to Krishna." Again, someone asked SP "Well, before you have your feast and festival, the organizer will tell the cook to cook for three hundred people or five hundred, so you are cooking for the people." SP then said, "No. We are not cookng for the people but for God and distribution to Vaishnavas. A festival is for the pleasure of Hari, guru, and Vaishnavas. So we are arranging for that. Everyone who comes to the Math we consider a Vaishnava. They are not ordinary people."
At the time of the Vrndavan and Navadvipa Parikrams, the devotees would be working very hard making all the arrangements. They would have three to five lorries full of different kinds of sweets and nice prasadam to distribute to everyone. This was for feeding the Brajabasis. At that time, around 1930, Vrndavan wasn't developed atall. There was no proper road, no metalled road, no cars used to come. It was a perfectly tranquil, rural atmosphere. The devotees would go with an advance party, set up tents, and make all cooking arrangements. There were guards dset up , because some areas especially were very dangerous for dacoits (gang of thieves). Every day, in the afternoon or the morning, if he got the time, SP would recite the verses beginning, "radha kunda kunja kotira..." which is a song taken from Gitavali of Bhaktivinoda Thakura. SP would recite this every day whilst on the Vraja Mandala Parikram. He would have one of the best singers sing this while they were sitting in their tent. Because tghe paths on the Vraja Mandala Parikram are full of thorns, SP told the devotees that if they wished they could use canvas shoes to protect their feet on this parikram from the thorns, even though the ettiquette is not to use any footwear. Many did use these shoes on the recommendation of SP, canvas shoes with rubber bottoms. When SP visited Radha kund, he stayed at Gopal Dharmsala. SP rented a cottage at Visrama ghata for two to three years for the convenience of the Gaudiya Math pilgrims. It is now no longer there. SP sometimes used to stay there.
SP taught and practised renunciation, but for preaching did everything in a grand way. For Govardhana Puja, Annakuta Mahotsava, he called cooks fromall over India. There would be unlimited preperations, over a thousand items with varieties of cooking, such as Begali style, Andhra style, Gujarati style, etc. thousands would attend. When the GM was shifted from Ultadingi to Bagbazar, the sankirtana party was accompanied by musical bands, not only from all parts of India, but one from the west also. SP went ahead of the Deities, sweeping the road. Calcutta had not seen or heard of such a festival, which instantly gave huge prominence to the GM. The kirtana parties were singing "Radha Krishna bol bol bolo re sabai... jai sakal bipod bhaktivinoda bole jokhon o nama gaya" (Everyone chant "Radha Krishna." Bhaktivinoda says that when that name is chanted all dangers go away). During the procession, as SP passed under a gate, part of it broke and fell down. SP narrowly escaped injury. Everyone became anxious and agitated, but SP said, "jai sakala vipod Bhaktivinoda boler jokhon o nama gaya." We have been saved from danger because we singing nama-kirtana."
At the time of Rasa Yatra and Jhulan Yatra, SP didn't have these temples, didn't have theese festivals celebrated in his Mathas. He said, "Let the devotees hear and try to understand Krishna. Let them not try to enjoy this rasa-lila from the unrealized stage." SO Rasa Yatra and Julan Yatra were not celebrasted. They did not have a swing in the temples in the Gaudiya Math on Julan Yatra. Madhurya Rasa should not be preached. (Quesrtion: Bh John: Why do we celebrate this Julan Yatra in ISKCON then?)
There is one place in Puri called Balagandhi, which is on the grand road in the middle of the route between Jagannatha temple and Gundica — the route that Jagannatha takes in His cart festival. SP said that the rope of the Jagannatha cart should be pulled by devotees. the non-devotees, who are mukti kami, they should not pull the rope. SP said this at Balagandhi. (Question: Bh John: Earlier, SP said that anyone who comes to the festivals is a Vaishnava, and here we see him saying that they are mukti kamis. Please explain. Also, what was ISKCON's SP standard for those who pulled the rope of the cart, and why did SP set this standard?)
There is a description of a great festival that SP observed in the Gaudiya Math. It was at Govardhan puja, when many people came to forcefully take prasadam in an unruly manner. SP had them all take it up to the gallery by ropes. So the people of Bagbazaar threw stones and disturbed the function. This was the Annakut function, but there may be some other description also. Anyway, the people tried to disturb it, trying to tak all the food. Initially a big hill of rice and other prasadam was put in the temple room before the Deity and the people tried to get that and eat it before the function was complete. Gross people from Bagbazaar came wanting to snatch the prasada and eat it all. But what happened, it seems there was some cooperation from the authorities. the police were sent and they drove the people out — It's not very clear(?) So SP was very grateful. Previously, before British time, during Muslim rule, he could not have expected such help from the authorities for protecting religious people. So he printed in the Nadia Prakash that the British are helping us. the disturbances were apparently something to do with Jagabandhu Dhatta, who had built the temple, that people were very envious of him for different reasons. He was a very rich man. (???...) occurred in 1934. A gang of Gundas entered the temple forcibly and caused this disturbance, but after this the authorities sent men door to door warning people not to disturb the Gaudiya Math. It was great protection. Of course, the Gaudiya Math, SP he as his father had done, he didn't sympothize with the independance movement, butrather he cooperated with the British. (Question: Bh John: I was not aware that Bhaktivinoda Thakura was in favour of the British also. Is this where SP got his ideas about the British from also — namely his father? and could it be said that Bh Thakura had this nice view of them because he also worked very closely with them as a magistrate?)
34. The "fire" is kindled: Fighting in the Gaudiya Math.
... extracted from May(?) 20-22(?) 1977: SP wrote on a piece of paper: "In case I die, these three men: Kunja babu (later to become Bhaktivilas tirtha Maharaja), Paramananda Vidya Ratna, and Ananta Vasudeva, will be tustees, with the majority being effective. So that scrap of paper was kept by Tirtha Maharaja, and later on guru maharaja wanted to make a constitution, but he avoided, he didn't do it. After his demise that scrap of paper was presented in the High Court and the property was given. (Question: Bh John: I thought the paper was rejected by the court? Also, why did SP write this if he didn't really appear to strongly favour this idea?)
In the beginning, from 1927 — 1930, the Mission was very alive, but after 1930 some of this kind of idleness, laziness, back-biting, materialistic propensities, entered the mission, despite SP's strong efforts to keep that out, the people they did not care to hear. even the sannyasis and brahmacaries would often do things which SP didn't like. They would even go to the jatra(?) (some kind of materialistic, quasi-religious play), to the cinema.
When the organization expanded there was money, many branches, prestige, then always problems occurred. In the early days, all the devotees were very seriously engaged in their sadhana — very serious about spiritual life. Later on, although the preaching was going on, they were building buildings, and doing so many things, but the spirit was different. It even came to the point of arguing over which rooms in the Gaudiya Math building in Bagbazaar, they should occupy. Bodhayan Maharaja once came back from giving a lecture and told the brahmacaris, "Oh, I have given such a good lecture, so many people have appreciated that, so I should not take rice prasada like all the other devotees but tonight cook for me some puris. they should be hot puris." When SP heard that he became very sorry, saying, "karilam sannyasi hoy gelo vilasi — I have made them all sannyasis but they have become sense enjoyers." Many times he said this. They would do this business of giving lectures as a matter of prestige.
38. Critisizers of SP
Ananta Vishvambhar had seen in the "Theistic Exhibituion", the "Bhagavata Exhibition" in Mayapur, that one time, SP was there sitting on a chair when Dina Bandhu Das Babaji, who was serving Gaura Kisora Das Babaji up to his last moment, he was always with him, how one time he had come there and SP was sitting on a seat. Immediately he got up and offered all respect to him, saying, "You are very respectable to me because you are my God-brother and you are always serving my guru," and then they both sat down together, and Anantadeva himself personally saw and heard how they were discussing. Dina Bandhu was also refgerring to SP as his God-brother, sayinng, "You are my God-brother." Gaura Das Babaji had eight to ten discuiples like this. SP was asking how many disciples he has. So, if they mutually accepted eacvh other as |God-brothers, and it's a well known fact that Dina Bandhu was the constant associate and disciple of Gaura Kisora Das Babaji, then how could they say that SP had no guru.
Aboput Gaura Kisora Das Babaji having disciples — that may be, but they were siksa disciples. People who were constantly with him. Formally accepted disciples, it's known that only SP was, even though the method of him being a disciple was not exactly according to any formality either, and Vamsi Das babaji is also said to be his disciple.(Question: Bh John: You used the story of Dina Bandhu Das previously, stating that he would call SP his God-brother, but in this story it is said that SP was the only initiated disciple of Gaura Kisora Das Babaji, so it appears that Dina Bandhu Das Babaji wasn't formally initiated by Gaura Kisora Das Babaji, so when he calls SP his God-brother how are we to take it?) (Answer: B.V.Swami: SP's initiation was not according to proper formality but was bhagavati-marg; he was accepted by Gaura Kisora Das Babaji. See how Lord Chaitanya initiated Rupa and Sanatana, no formality.
SP was going for a hernia operation but he never underwent the surgery because he thought that the doctor had been called to kill him, because sometimes people were paid-off to kill him. He was thinking like that.
14/11/70: "When my guru maharaja SP introduced this system — Pancharatrika diksha — it was protested, even by his inner- circle of God-brothers or friends. Of course he had no actual God-brothers but there were many disciples of Bhaktivinoda Thakura who protested against this action of my guru maharaja, but he didn't care for it." (Question: Bh John: This also helps to invalidate the fact that Dina Bandhu Das Babaji called SP his God-brother, because here ISKCON's SP confirms that SP had no actual God-brothers, so when Dina Bandhu called him his God-brother, he wasn't referring to formally initiated God-brother.) (Answer: B.V.Swami: Yes, Godbrother, not formally).
Another story told in the Sarasvati Jaya Shri — a loosely organized compilation of rememberances of SP by different disciples, published shortly after his departure. There is one story of the young Bimala Prasada. One ofhis brothers leftt his world at a young age, so just before he died he asked for forgiveness from Bimala, which was duly granted, saying that, "In my previous life I committed some offense to you, therefore I had to be born inthis world again. Now please forgive me." So, just at the time he left this world, lying on his bed, automatically, Shri sampradaya tilak manifested itself on his forehead and he left the world in this way.
One elder brother of SP's was always against him and was very puffed-up in his behaviour thinking that he knew everything. SP said once to him, "Don't think that Bhaktivinoda Thakura is just like a mundane father of yours. He is completely transcendental." So from that time on that brother was always against SP, always critisizing him. After SP started his preaching mission he even incited one mundane scholar, Priyanatha, to write a book against him, critisizing him in so many ways. So SP replied . This was just at the beginning of his preaching days. He replied in a book called "Purva Pakha Priyanather Pratyottar — A Reply to the Opponent (prathi pokka[?]) Priyanatha." I have a copy of this very old book. Priyanatha, inspired by that envious elder brother had asked some challenging questions and SP answered then in this book. that was a brother by Bhaktivinoda Thakura's first wife. So it was this brother who left this world early, and at this time begged forgiveness for his offences to SP. It may not have been offences in a previous life but in this life (find out).
There was always a difference between SP and his brother Lalita Prasada, who SP considered to be propogating something very similar to the Jati Gosai Vad(?) the opinion of the caste Goswamis. After taking sannyasa SP no more spoke with him. A disciple of Lalita Babu called Priyanatha wrote a book against SP attempting to show how he was not following Bhaktivinoda Thakura. (see above).
In 1932, Visvambhar Das of Pathapur(?), in Vrndavan, published a book on behalf of many babajis and goswamis in Vrndavan against SP. He said that his line of parampara was incorrect and challenged SP giving many sastra pramanas. SP. they said took harernama from Gaurakisora Das Babaji, whose guru was an East Bengal Advaita Parivar Gosai. When SP took harernama he did not tale hharernama mala from Gaurakisora Das babaji, because Gaurakisora Das Babaji never used harernama mala himself. Instead, he just gave him some Navadvip dust in the hand. Nor did he get Pancharatrika samskara from Gaurakisora Das Babaji, so his diksha is not bona fide. Since SP didn't get panchartrika diksa himself, how could he give it to others. Gaura Kisora Das Babaji didn't have a brahmana thread, so from where did SP get his brahmana thread. Bhaktivinoda thakura also had no brahmana thread and was initiated by Jata Gosai Bipin Bihari. Of course, we understand that this was for formality also, because he couldn't find any real sadhu (Question: Bh John: Wasn't Jagannatha Das Babaji available then, or someone else?) Also, Bhaktivinoda Thakura gave SP the Nrsimha mantra for worshipping the Deity. SP was giving Radha Krishna mantra to others, but where did he get this mantra. SP was the first person in India to introduce such a line. There are Rupa and Sanatana lines, Vrndavan and Navadipa sadhus, Jagannatha Das Babaji, Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Gaurakisora Das babaji — none of them ever used a brahmana thread, so where did SP get this from? How was SP to reply to this? Unless it is according to sastra they will not accept his answer. Also, they were saying that SP was a sannyasi but he had no sannyasa guru. How can he give sannyasa to others? SP's answer was, "phalena pariciyate — A cause is known by it's effect. This is bhagavata parampara. It is not mentioned in the scriptures this bhagavata parampara. SP first spoke of this. Parampara means guru shisya guru shisya line, but bhagavata parampara was written by SP. He said Bhaktivinoda Thakura is Kamala manjari. Radha nityajan — he is a personal associate of Radharani. He ordered me to establish daivi varnashrama. I must obey his order — sastra or no sastra. the acharya is not under the sastra. the acharya can make the sastra. Like this, I saw many things that are being injected by Bhaktivinoda Thakura, the acharya to me. By his mercy, by the mercy of Gaura Kisora Das Babaji Maharaja and Jagannatha Das Babaji Maharaja, not caring for any precise technicalities, we are going on." At this time he designed the Gaudiya Math logo showing ragamarga, vidhimarg, bhagavat pancharatriki parampara. the performance of diksha is only by the mercy of guru. Just like Madhvacarya took from Vyasadeeva, despite there being a thousand year difference between them — phalena pariciyate. My bhajan, my preaching. No one else in India is doping or can do. These Parivars (Parivar means "family") are parivars only. Also used as Advaita parivar, Gadadhara parivar, Narottama parivar — "gurus" in seminal descent (Jata Gosai) from great personalities or diciples of great personalities. Family line of gurus. They are families only. They have no bhajan. They don't have the life of Lord Chaitanya. Something new brought by the acharya is called vaisisthya (special characteristic). Something new but based on the sastra. Like Laxmipati Tirtha, the only record of his name is given by Baladeva Vidyabhusana much later. Just like Ramanujacarya, Madhva, they apparently introduced something new, but because it was based on sastra it came to be accepted. Jiva Goswami, Bhagavata sandarbha, said of Madhvacarya that he was a pracin (old) Vaishnava. Madhva is an acharya because he accepted dasya rasa even more than Nimbarka, Vishnuswami, and Ramanujacarya, but Lod Chaitanya referred to the followers of Madhva as tomar sampradaya (CC Madhya 9.277. tomara sampradaya — your sampradaya, i.e. Lord Chaitanya did not think of himself as part of the Madhva line). In other words Lord Chaitanya brought in something new which was different from the Madhva line This is a new thing. Madhavendra Puri brought in a new thing. Jiva Goswami rrespected Madhvacarya as an old and experienced Vaishnava, a teacher of Vaishnavism in the past, and not as the acharya of this line, because he didn't accept Radha. (What did SP say on this subject?) (Answer: ACBSP said nothing on this). (What did SP say though). There are many chapters of the Bhagavata he didn't accept.
One time a group of brahmacaris accompanied SP. A group of devotees accompanied him to Navadvipa town. there was some programme there which they were invited to by some well-to-do devotee to do some programme there, but at that time the whole town of Navadvipa was against SP and the Gaudiya Math, because they were establishing Mayapur as the place of birth of Lord Chaitanya. Previously people had thought that it was in Navadvipa town, and because of this the importance of Navadvipa was being diminished and the income of the people of Navadvipa, thus also being diminished. So there was sever opposition to SP. They were doing the programme and when they were it was evening time, they were to go back, but they learned that a party was waiting to attack them, so Keshava Maharaja, known as Vinoda bihari brahmacari at that time, who in physical appearance at that time was similar to SP, he was also a blood relation (How?). Anyway, he proposed to SP that he give him his sannyasa clothes and he would give him his white brahmacari clothes so as he could escape. SP did this and later, very late at night, when the party was waiting fro them had dispersed, all the other group surrounding Kesava Maharaja, dressed in sannyasa clothes, continued and returned to Shridham Mayapur. (Question: Bh John: Why didn't they attack the party like they had planned? Was it because they saw that SP was not there or was it because the plan was aborted, or was there some other reason? It is important to find this out, as it is a very serious incident).
Most of the Babajis in Navadvipa town would critisize the Gaudiya Math and SP. He would critisize the false babajis and they would critisize him. They said, "The Gaudiya Math is not a bona fide organization, because SP who is the guru of that Math, he has no proper guru himself...Who is his guru...He has not taken any proper initiation." They considered a "proper guru" to be from their bogus "parivara's. So Anantadeva, whenever he would come across these critisisms, which was common, as he was living in Navadvipa, he would refute by telling this story, fro his own personal experience, that in 1925 or 1926, when they had the first "Theistic Doll Exhibition" in Mayapur, which first attracted huge crowds of people to Mayapur, and really established it as a prominent holy place, that was organized by SP. So when they first had that Anantadeva (is this the same as Ananta Vasudeva or not?) personally saw that SP was sitting on a chair and at one point Dina Bandhu Das Babaji arrived there. Now Dina Bandhu was known to all as being an intimate associate and disciple of Gaurakisora Das Babaji and remembered and served him up to his very last moment, so when Dina Bandhu arrived SP immediately got up from his chair, welcomed him, gave him a nice place to sit, and they were discussing amongst themselves so many things about Gaurakisora Das Babaji and they mutually referred to each other as God-brothers. So if Dina Bandhu accepted SP as his God-brother, and Dina Bandhu is well known to be the disciple of Gaurakisora Das Babaji (????....End of tape).
SP got a very large and dangerous boil one time. It was on the top left part of the back. (???...) Krishna Kanti brahmacari, who was known as Doctor Babu by all the devotees, because he was qualified as a doctor. He later on became Shaman(?) Maharaja who after Bhakti Vilas Tirtha Maharaja was the head of the Gaudiya Math. He always used to ask Doctor Babu, "Doctor Babu, when will SP be cured?" They were in fgreat anxiety. this time SP was taken to the Bhakti Bhavan at Mayapur. Doctor Babu would bring western style medicine, but SP would never accept it. He preferred ayurvedic medicine to western medicine, although he sometimes did use western medicine. SP gave the example that Vaishnavism is like homeopathic(?) medicine. At first the disease will appear worse, e.g., if you have one boil you may get many boils, or ifyou have a fever it may increase, but that is god, bringing out the bad things, then ultimately there will be the cure.
Once, SP saw the pranami box open. There were so many bad and spoiled coins which could not be used for anything. So people have given these in the pranami box. SP commented on this quoting a Bengali preoverb: "kanagoru brahman dan — which means giving a useless cow as a donation to the brahmana
At the Calcutta Bagbhazaar Gaudiya Math he would stay upstairs. the temple was donstairs. Before mangalarati they would sing "shri krishna brahma devarsi", then guruvastakam, Shri Krishna Chaitanya, Lila Madhava(?) Most devotees didn't take bath before mangalarati (What did SP say about this?) SP would never lead kirtan or play any instrument. He was not musically adept, but he would join in the kirtan. he always liked the kirtan to be very simple and would say, "If you do not know how to sing, still open your lips and recite the holy name. You may not sing well but to chant the name is kirtan." this is in no doubt in reference to the misconception very common in Bengal that kirtan singing has to be very musically stylish, but SP didn't like that very much. He never emphasized on expertize in music and singing. He emphasized more on bhaskti in kirtan. In the Gaudiya Math they used the Manaharshahi sankirtan. there are three styles of kirtan in Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradaya, and the gaudiya math used the simplest — the Manaharshahi Sankirtan. The method of Deity worship was based on the simple method given by Dhyanachandra, a disciple of Vrakesvar Pandit (?) (an associate of Lord Chaitanya). But even Dhyanachandra's method was simplified for use in the Gaudiya Math. So during mangalarati they would only chant the maha-mantra. They didn't have tulasi arati, at least in the morning (Why?) Everyone had to come to mangalarati, after which they would circumambulate the Deities, and during this time they would sing the song of Bhaktivinoda Thakura: "Bhajare bhajare amara nama (???...) bhaja bhaja bhale Radha Krishna caranaravinda(?)" At 5.30am, they would have breakfast in the summer season, or at 7.00am in the winter. After mangalarati they had different services. Some would go out for biksha or collecting, some took bath, some took bath later. Most devotees went out during the day for preacing. there was no fixed time for japa but everyone was expected to chant sixteen rounds. After prasadam at 12.30pm...Between(?) 9.00 — 10.00pm(?) devotees would come in to chant japa. SP emphasized, "sevonmukhe hi jihvadau — Krishna can only be understod by service." He would take the same prasadam as the devotees but at night he would take milk and puris and a little sabji, whereas the other devotees would take rice, dahl, and sabji (also at night or not?) Everyday in the Math, from 2.00pm — 3.00pm, there was an istha gosthi (some discussion). devotees would come back from biksha which means they would go door to door and ask for some collection. Naturally people would ask, "What are we giving for? and there might be some philosophical question. So those who couldn't give the answer, the brahmacaris, they would say, "Alright, I will come again tomorrow and then I wil give you the answer!" During the istha gosthi they would then discuss all the philosophicaal points. The answers would be given by SP and Tirtha Maharaja, whowas also known as Bhaktipradipa Tirtha Maharaja, and who took harernama from Bhaktivinoda Thakura in 1913 and diksha and sannyas from SP. He always acted as the disciple of SP and never thought that because he had taken harernama from Bhaktivinoda Thakura. He never had that feeling that I should be equal to SP and always considered himself just like his disciple. So, like this, the senior devotees, sannyasis, they would give the answers (did just SP and Bhaktipradipa Tirtha Maharaja just give the answers or not?) (Answer: other sannyasis would also). During that istha gosthi time also they wold sing one song before the istha gosthi began of Bhaktivinoda Thakura's in praise of the holy name: "Jaya jaya harinam cid anandam nitya dhama, para tattva aka(?)" and they would discuss especially jaivi dharma and Bhaktivinoda thakura's "Shri Chaitanya Siksamrta."
As regards kirtan, SP never liked extensive akors. Akors are very common in Bengali bhajan, kirtan, they will apart from the origianl song, they will make up or add different lines. Just like for instane we sing the akor in Jaya jaya Gaurachandra aratika sobha. We use "Gaurange arotika sobha jaga jana mane lbha" or wqe sing madhur madhur madhur bhaje" These are akors added on to the original song. It is very comonin Bengal that people they will make up different lines to add to the song. Akora meaans alankara(?) or decoration. Something which brings out the meaniong more and more. But SP never liked extensive use of these akoras. He never did arati or puja himself. In the evening arati they would sing, "Jaya Jaya Gauracandre..." just as we do in ISKCON also, and after arati they would always have reading and commentary on the Shrimad Bhagavatam. SP, Tirtha Maharaja, and other sannyasis, would give that class and inn the Calcutta Bagbazaar Gaudiya math, all the Maths, many people would come to hear this. At least fifty pepole, because in those days the preaching was very strong, and there was plenty of interest. (Would Ananta Vasudeva and Sundarananda also give class?)
There is a garden in front of the Purushottama Math and monkeys would come and take vegetables, fruits, and so many things. SP would watch and would loudly chant "Hare Krishna" to keep them away. He was always alert for the monkeys.
To Tota Gopinath temple in Puri, SP would go with a kirtan party sometimes and as they were going they would sing the "Gopinath" song of Bhaktivinoda Thakura.
The Gaudiya Math had donated to it a very nice car, and a horse and cart. the hordse was very strong, black, and beautiful. In Bagbazaar people would say, "Just seee the Gaudiya Math horse." There was some romour that it ate rasgullas but it didn't. there was also an elephant named Kirtan Das who took the Deity on Vrindavana parikram. The Deity, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, known as Mayapur Sundara(?) or Navadvipa Candra(?) Janaki Nath Bose, the father of Netaji(?) Subhas Candra Bose, who was from Cuttak, donated that elephant along with the horse. That Deity is now being worshipped at (???...) in the Gaudiya Math there, and is known as Koka Nimai. Koka is an affectionate name for a young boy. (???...) name was Ramu(?).
SP encouraged essay writing, and every year, at the time of the Navadvipa Dhama Parikram, a prize was for given for essay writing. There was a special name for that prize. The essay could be on any Krishna conscious subject. There was also a two hour examination on the Bhakti Sastri, plus an oral exam. Thhe exam was set by SP. There was also the sampradaya-vaibhavacharya(?) exam which was different to the |Bhakti sastri. It was about the history of the sampradaya. Different Vaishnava sampradayas, different philosophies, converse(?) in the philosophies. That one(?) after Bhakti sastri.
At night one time, in Mayapur, SP walked out from the Yoga Pitha and one devotee saw him going, as he had slipped out without anyone seeing him going. Walking along the road, that devotee, by the grace of SP was able to see a vision of wonderful, beautiful looking people, performing sankirtan. SP turned to that devotee and said, "These are the devotees from the heavenly planets who have come to take darshan of Lord Chaitanya's birth place. Jotisekhara remarks that when Jagannatha Das Babaji first went to Lord Chaitanya's birth place he also saw the sankirtan party ferom the heavenly planets. He also remarks how the devotees from heaven are also seen. Bhaktivinoda Thakura in his vission of Chaitanya's arati, "... Brahma adi deva gane." The demigods, headed by Lord Brahma, worshiperforming sankirtan. SP turned to that devotee and said, "These are the devotees from the heavenly planets who have come to take darshan of Lord Chaitanya's birth place. Jotisekhara remarks that when Jagannatha Das Babaji first went to Lord Chaitanya's birth place he also saw the sankirtan party ferom the heavenly planets. He also remarks how the devotees from heaven are also seen. Bhaktivinoda Thakura in his vission of Chaitanya's arati, "... Brahma adi deva gane." The demigods, headed by Lord Brahma, worshipame down from the Bhaktivijaya Bhavan at 2.00am shouting, "Just see. Just see! Gaura-Nitai are going on kirtan. Follow Them. Follow Them! Come and see!" He was shouting out like this and alll the devotees came to see but they could not see anything.
Of course, the facilities were less in those days, just as we have so much technological facilities these days. Jotisekhara relates how even the wireless radio came later on in SP's preaching mission time. In Cuttak, one person in the town initially had a wireless. At that time there was only one radio station in the whole of India, at Darjeeling, and Haripada Vidyaratna, a disciple of SP, on three occasions was given the opportunity to broadcast vaishnava songs from Darjeeling. The first time he sang Gopinatha, by Bhaktivinoda Thakura. The second time "Tatala-saikate by Vidyapati. The devotees in Cuttak went to the house of the only person, one raja, to listen to that being broadcast.
SP always found, as is the tradition with great realized acharyas, in every line and every word of sastra and our acharyas, so many meanings, so much depth of meaning.
(This section isn't very clear). It seems SP wa walking on the veranda chanting japa. There would always be a dog there (can't understand that part?)
Bhakti sastri classes were held in Mayapur at Bhaktivinoda Thakura's school (the one he established and which was controlled by the Chaitanya Math). Devotees joined for one year, and only those who were educated were allowed to join). they could also study privately and all of them took the examination at Mayapur at Gaurapurnima. the Gaudiya Math bore the expenses for those who wanted to study for one year. Those who were not members of the Gaudiya Math were also welcome to follow this course. Every year there were two hundred students for the Bhakti sastri course — fifty in the school and the rest doing private study.
(Much earlier) Bhaktivinoda Thakura wrote a letter mentioning three points what he (SP) should do at that time:
1. To establish varnashrama dharma.
2. To make a printing press in Mayapur.
3. Not to be a miser, not only to do your bhajan, bot to preach door to door.
Ajnarudhi — a word understood by people inn general. Vidyatrudhi(?) -understood by vidvan (the internal meaning). For example, the mayavadis say we are brahman (Ajnarudhi) but Vidyatrudhi says that brahman is the light coming from God's body. (SP's version). That which is understood by Vidyatrudhi... SP's terms were very technical: ontology, morphology, adhyakika(?), adhoksaja..., so many. Every word he could make a book from.
This is a testimony from Sadhunugraha Prabhu, who was a disciple of SP and also had some relationship with him through Bhaktivinoda Thakura. The Chotimangalpur property of Bhaktivinoda Thakura was eight to ten acres. Whilst he was living there, he was worshiping the salagram sila and Jagannatha — the family Deities. All the festivals such as Dolyatra, Durgapuja, etc., were observed there. Sometimes they woulld take the Deities around the village in a procession, and since 350 years back, Durgapuja is going on there. Sometimes, when SP visited them, he wouldn't go inside the house, but would stay only in the Chandi-mandapa, the place where Durga was worshipped, though Sadhunugraha says he doesn't know why. there was a big area in front of the house. Sometimes he would walk up and down chanting japa. His father, who was also his disciple told about this...(???...) SP used to go occasionally as he had some share in the property.
Before Lord Chaitanya came there was darkness. After He departed there was also again some darkness. The six Goswamis were stars. SP made the Visva Vaishnava Raja Sabha, which was pioneered originally by the Six Goswamis and also done by Bhaktivinoda Thakura.
Introduction (Don't put in Introduction. Make new chapter or put in another chapter).
SP was so revolutionary. Now we hear about him but we are so remote from the time and circumstances in which he acted, that it is difficult to realize how strong he actually was. His whole life history and everything about him was completely dynamically in line with the reality of Krishna being the Supreme Personality of Godhead and us being the eternal servants, confirmed through the line of Lord Chaitanya. He studued the vast expanses of scripture with the aim of establishing the reality which he, as a pure devotee, actually experienced at every moment. He himself putting on a brahmana thred, that it is difficult to realize how strong he actually was. His whole life history and everything about him was completely dynamically in line with the reality of Krishna being the Supreme Personality of Godhead and us being the eternal servants, confirmed through the line of Lord Chaitanya. He studued the vast expanses of scripture with the aim of establishing the reality which he, as a pure devotee, actually experienced at every moment. He himself putting on a brahmana thr is claiming a monopoly on truth, actually it is a fact. It was a fact that he was claiming a monopoly on truth because only he was actually in contact with truth. But others who were accustomed to having generation after generation monopoly on making disciples and exploiting them in the name of Lord Chaitanya. These peole felt they had an inherent inborn right. Whi is this upstart coming and challenging us, they would feel. So for this, SP was stoned in Navadvipa and and tewmples closed on him in Vrndavan. His life was threatened several times. What about his coming into Vrndavan in a motor-car! So revolutionary. He challenged everyone. Rupanuga viruddha pasiddhanta dhvanta harine(?). Anything that was not in the line of Rupa Goswami, as he saw it, not as others interpreted Rupa Goswami. Even those who could trace out diksha parampara lines of Rupa Goswami, for even those, he said, "You are not following properly!" He studied everyone and everything, still he preserved his humility and gentlemanly behaviour, but he did not, would not, could not, compromise. Being given the special mission by Lord Chaitanya he had a dream to come out of his bhajan. All the Panch Tattva, six goswamis, all acharyas — come out of your bhajan and estqablish our mission as it must be established properly now. So on the strength of his conviction, with this conviction, with the knowledge the whole parampara and God HImself is directly behind him, he preached with unprecedented, unrelenting, boldness. Noone had preached as boldly as this in the history of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Narottama Das Thakura also on this principle of caste defied the standard conception that one from a lower caste than brahmana cn be given initiation and can then also give initiation. SP did not only defy that conception but he decried it. He publicly said that not only did he go against the social convention but he publicly, loudly decried the social convention. That your so-called initiation is not initiation at all. They were sayig to him that your initiation is not bona fide, and he came back at them with great strength quoting from sastra that your initiation is not bona fide, only my initiation is bona fide. He argued just like a lawyer. He practically established I am the acharya. This is the way to follow LOrd Chaitanya. Everythng else going on in the name of Lord Chaitanya is all rotten. If you want to follow Lord Chaitanyaa folow me. This was practically his message. He did not say that dierectly but by condemning everything that did not follow LOrd Chaitanya properly. If we examine what is left there is no one folowing in exactly the proper way exactly as he himself. This book gives a more personal look at SP than has ever been available before in any language through the eyes of realizations of the devotes who lived with him.
It is practically a joke that such a miniscule insect as myself could dare to write something about SP. If I compare my position to that of a particle of dust that has even once come into contact with his divine lotus feet, I find mine to be much inferior. Still, SP is adhama janara bandhu — the friend of the fallen people — and gaura vani shri murtaye dina tarini — the personification of the teachings of Lord Chaitanya, the deliverer of the fallen souls. Having made little or no progress in Krishna consciousness, ecvn afternearly twenty years of making a show of devotional service, I find myself as if stuck perpetually in the slough of loathesome material desires. Finding myself in such an abominable condition, I have come to the conclusion that there is absolutely no other way for my elevation but to tryto get the mercy of the acharyas, especially that of my initiating spiritual master and saviour, His Divine Grace, ACBSP, who is the representative of all the previous acharyas. It is through his divine grace that not only insignificant me, but also almost everyone else in the whole universe, can be connected to SP, and through him to the whole parampara up to Lord Chaitanya and Krishna. As Ganga is offered to Ganga, I offer this collection of anecdotes to my spiritual master, ACBSP, and through him to my param guru, SP. Having offered it to them, I also offer it to Jotisekhar Prabhu, to whom this book belongs more than it does to me. I pray to them all that they may be pleased with this attempt and bless me that at least I may cease to be a burden on them, and that some day I may be able to do something very pleasing to them in their preaching mission.
Renunciation Through Wisdom (Sword of Knowledge) p.68 — For BST Book.
Jotisekhara quoted a quote SP made from Rg Veda about the holy name. That is quoted in SB.11.2.49 purport.
SP: I am speaking, you are hearing, but there is a gap between us." This statement gives us some hint of how a great Vaishnava preacher, although moving among us, apparently as one of us, is always apart from us. SP had many disciples at different levels of spiritual advancement, all committed to following him. Some were apparently advbanced and intimate, yet SP himself knew of the great gap between himself and his followers. Even his close associates could not catch up with him. Later events showed that almost all of his disciples had failed to grasp the essential purpose of his mission. Even those who had some realization of what he wasnted (a strong, united, preaching movement) were later unable to implement it very effectively ( with the obvious exception of one disciple). This profound statement also gives insight into the "lonely" position of a guru and a sannyasi. Of course, mahabhagavata devotees are never lonely, because they are fixed in their relationship with Krishna. But in this world, there may be few or no people for them to relate with on an equal, friendly platform.
SP's favourite bhajans were Yasomatinandana, Shri Rupa Manjari Pada, Harinama tuya aseka svarupa.
SP said and also wrote that, "I have never made any disciples. All are my gurus." he would not chastise his disciples. Automatically their wrongs would be corrected by the greatness of his personality.
Bhaktivinoda Thakura openly expressed (in his Navadvipa-dhama-bhava-tarangini) his siddha svarupa (eternal form in Krishna lila): seven and a half year old Kamala Manjari, a young gopi girl. But SP never revealed his siddha svarupa. Madhava Maharaja, who came to prominence for his widespread preachuing in Bengal after SP's disappearance, ascertained that SP was Nayana Manjari: the personification of Radha's looking at Krishna (nayana means "eye"). When Madhava Maharaja secured the birthplace of SP at Puri and installed the Deites there, he named Them "Shri Shri Radha Nayanananda Jiu". ACBSP has written in this regard:....
In the early days of the Chaitanya Math, when it was just being established, the local Musl;im villagers created many disturbances in an attempt to stopthe development of the Math. Once, they tried to dig a graveyard at the place where SP used to chant. Binode Bihari Prabhu (an active and fearless administrator, always ready to tackle difficult situations, later became the well-known Kesava Maharaja) was deputed by SP to keep guard on that area. BBP kept watch on horseback. The Muslims knew BBP and feared him. they did not create any disturbance again.
SP called the GM "Banihatta" (Vanihatta — the marketplace of spiritual instruction; similar to the Namhatta, the marketplace of the holy name established by Nityananda Prabhu).
His Devotees (Disc 1)
and would ask the devotees to get a haari(?) to clean the toilet. A haari(?) is a member of one of the lowest castes in India whose work includes cleaning toilets — a job everyone else despises. It is considered a very low-class job. At times, when devotees were inclined to cleaning his toilet, he would insist on a haari(?) Once, Jotisekhara, who is narating thes stories, cvleaned SP's toilet for two days and on the third day, when SP saw him doing this, he told him to take diksha (he had already taken harernama) and on that very day he gave him diksha.
(???...) Radha Govinda Babaji, he would dance in various, extraordinary ways.
There is one story concerning Kunja Bihari where there is a photo of Jagabandhu Bhaktirajan(?), who made the Bagbazaar Gaudiya Math, sitting at the feet of Kunjada, who is sitting in a chair. SP didn't like this when he saw it, that one godbrother should take a guru-like position, as it is the wrong etiquette. Godbrothers critisized Kunjabihari and SP was very sorry that he was critisizing (the story is not very clear).
Every year, SP would send devotees from Calcutta, especially Vinoda Babu, who later became known as Kesava Maharaja, for collection of taxes and fees(?) The land was rented out and SP used to have some share in it. Vinoda was appointed manager on SP's behalf.
In Mayapur, some land was given by a jamindar of Navadvipa and Mohammedan villagers who were farming the land. they were supposed to give taxes but they didn't give, so Vinoda Babu, who later became Kesava Maharaja, called all those Mohammedan land-tillers. Vinoda Babu was involved in administration and difficult things like this, collecting taxes. He was a strong character. There was one jack-fruit tree in fornt of the Chaitanya Math. That's still there. So he tied those people to the tree and put mud ontheir head as a kind of public insult, punishment. These were mthods used in those days, much milder than the methods used nowadays. Nowadays, if there is a land dispute, it's usually just killing that's all. In India, SP saw this. He was not happy. SP said, "We are sadhus. We should not give so much trouble others. Let them go and give them maha-prasadam. (See Sword of Knowledge p68).
It is said that B.R. Shridhara Maharaja would remember all the points of SP's speaches and would assimilate the essence within his heart.
SP called one devotee and told him to take sannyasa. that devotee fell at SP's feet saying, "I won't take sannyasa now, I'm afraid." Sp then said, "Why be afraid? You are on the path of fearlessness. You are going to the kingdom of fearlessness. Just like if you go to tthe Himalayas will there be any fear of heat? You are on the path back to Godhead, there is no need to fear." He gave him sannyasa with the title "Bhakti Vicara Jajabara Maharaja".
SP used to call AV "my Ganesa" because he used to help in writing and preaching, just as Ganesa helped Vyasadeva. Sometimes, while giving lectures SP would speak animatedly for some minutes, so quickly that it was difficult to understand. Then he would stop and ask AV to explain what he ahd said, which AV would do exactly.
AV was an expert singer and mrdanga player. SP would often ask him to sing. If he asked others to sing, he would tell them which song to sing, but with AV he didn't. It was as if AV knew his masters mind. AV could sing bhajans for a long time without getting tired.
One time in Puri, at the Lila kutir, there was one room near to Haridas Thakura's samadhi, and SP was staying there. He liked to heart "Yashomatinandana" sung when he was there. Ananta Vasudeva was an expert singer and mrdanga player and SP liked to hear him sing.
SP appointed three devotees as trustees of the Gaudiya Math: Ananta Vasudeva, Kunjabihari Vidyabhusana, and Paramananda Vidyaratna. In the GM there was a saying: "If you want to know about siddhanta (philosophy) you should go to Vasudeva Prabhu, and if you want to know about service (seva) you should go to Kunja Babu." AV was known as "siddhanta vigraha" (the personification of correct philosophical conclusions) and Kunja babu as "seva vigraha" (the perfection of service). No one knew what glories Paramananda Prabhu possessed, but somehow SP loved him very much. Paramananda was the only person who dared joke with SP.
Jadumani Patnaik, the grandfather of Janaki Ballabh Patnaik, lived most of his life as a grhastha in the GM. When he became old and infirm and found it difficult to stay in the Math, SP advised him to go and live at home again. "You are from a Vaishnava family, so there is no harm. They will be able to properly care for you."
His Nature and Dealings with Devotees
Sometimes SP appeared deeply absorbed in thought, as if engaged in thinking in the welfare of all living beings. Sometimes he became like a lion and spoke so strongly on Vaishnava philosophy that others became afraid of him. Again, when he taught the Bhagavatam to his students, he expressed a different demeanour. Although he manifested different moods at different times, he was always absorbed in Krishna and was never frivolous or mundane.
SP was very affectionate to his disciples. If he had not been it would not have been possible to attract so many men to join him, leaving their affectionate mothers and families. (Indian families are traditionally very tight-knit, and Bengali mothers in particular are known for their profuse love for their sons). If SP had not been affectionate, few could have remained. Had he simply taught the scriptures, administered rules and regulations, and used harsh words, few could have come. He was so affectionate it could hardly be described. He was always concerned for his disciples, not only for their spiritual welfare, but for their material welfare also. If grhastha disciples came to serve in the Math, SP after some time, would see that their families, if in need of it, got some money.