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Pastimes of Shrila Sarasvati Thakura
One time SP was with a party of devotees at Kavor, where he had established 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 disappeared 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 editing 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 Gauriya 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 Gauriya 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).
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."
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 kicherie(?) fromm 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, sabhji, and a little ghee. During caturmasya he took sea-salt, not the machine processed salt.
SP would rise early before the otheres 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. (What did ACBSP mean by a yogi, bogi, and a rogi?)
Arcana was over at 10.30am, when full boga 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 istha 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. Moca 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 Sajjan 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 grammes of milk.
His dietry 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 preperations. He always took green papaya, cooked with water and blended untill 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 preperation), with milk (lightly sweetened with a little sugar) at 8.30 - 9.00pm. In the afternoon he liked to take lemon sharbet, 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 vegeterians. 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. Everythihg 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 one kind of vegetable. He also liked chick-peas, fried with hing and salt, and food cooked in cow's ghee or sesame oil.
He was very fond of hing; especially peanutsfried with a lot of salt and hing. He was very fond of sweets, and especially liked the Bagbazaar rasgullas. 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 Bagbazaar rasgullas. They were offered to the Deities and Sarasvati Thakura would take a little every day. Of course, milk preperations 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 preps 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 rasgullas 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 (means all the devotees?) Similarly, in Bagbazaar with Bagbazaar rasgullas, 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 ghee, 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 preperation with many different types of vegetables in it. Also another preperation Jotishekhara remembers is dhakkai kecharanna, or kichrie, cooked with vegetables and a lot of ginger, cooked in Dhaka style. Sarasvati Thakura also liked these preperations 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 ghee to their rice, or put extra salt or chillie, but he didn't like to do this. (N.B. BH John: Earlier it was stated that SP liked to take a lot of salt in his prasadam which made his remnants difficult to take. Please explain the contradiction. BVS: See Jotisekhara).
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 liquidy with a lot of water. He especially liked it if it was prepared at night and then taken the next morning, so as the flavour of the spices had time to come out, and the liquidy part would become quite solid. He liked this very much. Of course, you could only take that in the wintery 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 cookk that at the festivals in big brass pots, along with another preperation called pushpanna, which SP also liked , but he especially liked that Dhaka kicherie even more. Sajjan Maharaja sometimes used to cook the kochu pata shak with chola dahl and ghee, 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 (Ask Jotisekhara for the name).
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 vegbetable. These were, it seems, mostly a Dhaka, East Bengal preperation. Of course, Bengali vegetables are very succulent, because the soil there is very fertile (the Ganga delta is silt soil), and Bengali cooking is very simple but at the same time very tasty. Lord Chaitanya also liked these preperations.
There is also some story told from Annakut Mahotsav at Dhaka, which is not clear. There is also some mention of Sarasvati Thakura eating halva at the time of utsava(?) which was also distributed to the public. Sarasvati Thakura did eat food at mahatsav cooked by hired brahmanas.
He liked rasam very much, which is a South Indian preperation, 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 slighhtly sour. He told Sajjan Maharaja to cook rasam with curry leaves, which are commonly used in South India in all kinds of vegetables and rice preperations. He also liked Biridahl(?) Also chana bhajis(?) or fried chick-peas with puris and sajana (one drum-stick from the tree when it was young and soft). Also helancha shak(?).
Once when Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati was opening a new center in a house that had been given for the use of the Gaudiya Mission, a ghostly incident occurred.
He was staying in a room on the second floor. One brahmacari was in attendance, reading Shrimad Bhagavatam while he worked at his desk. That brahmacari suddenly saw a bone-hand float in through the window. He cried out and fainted. When Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta inquired the cause for his alarm, the brahmacari told what he'd seen, but Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati didn't seem to take it as very important. He told the brahmacari to chant Hare Krishna, not cry unin- telligibly.
Thereafter the hand again appeared and floated into the room as if to grasp the neck of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati. This time the brahmacari chanted Hare Krishna and then fainted. Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati revived the brahmacari, saying, "Don't faint. Chant and read Shrimad Bhaga- vatam." When the hand came again, the brahmacari did just that. Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta saw the hand and chanted, "Haribol!", and the hand disappeared. He then said to the brahmacari, "No need to worry, that ghost is now delivered."
Stories about Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Maharaja Prabhupada
As a boy, Bimala Prasada delivered his oldest brother Acyutananda from an offense he'd made in his last life. Acyutananda had a nervous disease, and once became very sick. Bimala Prasada took karatals and chanted the Hare Krishna mantra constantly for 6 days without eating. Then Ramanuja-sampradaya tilaka appeared on Acyutananda's forehead. He said, "I am a Ramanuja Vaishnava. I committed an offense to a Gaudiya Vaishnava in my last life and therefore had to take this birth. Now I am relieved." Then he left his body.
He got very sick ten days before he left his body. Two days later he wrote his last instruction: "Somehow we must become qualified to attain the shelter of Rupa and Raghunatha. Always chant Hare Krishna, always preach Krishna consciousness, and stay away from Vaishnava-aparadha. In this way become qualified to get the shelter of the lotus feet of Shri Rupa and Raghunatha." Two days after that he wrote his letter to Shrila Prabhupada (Abhaya Charanaravinda).
All the big intellectuals of Calcutta had a memorial gathering upon hearning word of his death. One (an atheist), in eulogy, said: "Who will we argue with now?"
As far as cleanliness was concerned, Sarasvati Thakura was exemplorary, 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 honour 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-Vilas 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 (N.B: I don't get this: I thought preachers shaved their heads regularly. If so then why is Sarasvati Thakura shaving his head monthly? Clear this up: When did preachers shave their heads and faces and when did the temple non-preachers?). According to Hari Bhakti Vilas, 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. (N.B: I don't know whether Shri Chaitanya did shave up on that day or not). According to the rules and regulations, it is obligatory for sannyasis to shave on this day. (N.B: Sarasvati Thakura had his mission in India, which at that time was even more rigid in following the rules and regulations than today. Therefore, so many rules and regulations were followed by the Gaudiya Math that Shrila Prabhupada never introduced into ISKCON: he never even gave much importance to them. We shouldn't be confused by this, however, but see that Prabhupada was preaching according to time, place and circumstance. He was thinking, "What is possible for people to follow in the world contaminated by Kali-yuga: What is suitable for them?" and put much emphasis on the very basic essentials of Krishna consciousness, namely, chanting, worshipping the Deity, studying the Shrimad Bhagavatam. Minor rules and regulations, or upaniyama, he never gave much stress to, and even if devotees became interested in following these he would often discourage them. The reason being that what may be applicable for people at a certain time, place, and circumstance may not be necessary or good for others, at a different time, place, and circumstance, just as meditation was prescribed for Satya-yuga but not for Kali. Therefore, acharyas preach accordingly and we shouldn't be confused by the minor details or intricate rules and regulations of Hari-Bhakti-Vilas. We should not think that Prabhupada taught anything less, as some devotees do).
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 baught 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 did't want them to imitate his position as acarya.
He would also use horses and elephants on occasion, so sometimes people would critisize, 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 elses."
A Sikh named Moca(?) 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 sankirtan 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 metres 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 sankirtan 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 pavillion 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 pavillion with the devotees dancing around him, but he himself would not dance, as he was always grave.
Jotisekhara observed that Sarasvati Thakura himself wasn't expert in singing kirtan. His voice was not so sweet from the external point of view. Therefore, he didn't lead so many kirtans. He never lead kirtan, (did he or didn't he?) but would have others do it
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 (Shrila Jiva Goswami's book, which teaches Sanskrit grammar and Krishna consciousness simultaneously), Kirtan 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 oredered him thrown in the Radha kund, 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 endeavour to discipline them because his idea was that example is better than precept: As an acharya 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 Sajjan 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 harernama were allowed to take his remnants
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
Sarasvat 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.