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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.
Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati used to "install" the printing presses that were acquired by the Gaudiya Matha for literature publication.
He gave a heavy class on detachment from material life. Later, while writing, he observed a monkey stealing bananas from the godown, which was just next to his study. He ran out with a stick to chase the monkey away, overturning his writing table and spilling ink on the pages of his manuscript. When the cook saw this, he inquired, "Today you told that one must be detached. How to understand your behavior just now - for two bananas you jumped from your writing to chase a monkey, and even ruined your work in the process?" Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati answered, "These banansa belong to Shrimati Radharani, because they are to be used in Krishna's service."
He went to take a bath in a pukkur, and when he was seven steps above the surface of the water, the water rose seven steps and touched his lotus feet. Then all the brahmacaries jumped in, to bath in the carinamrta.
At the Yoga Pith temple was a cook who was very passionate. He fought with every devotee there except for Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta himself. Then he died. After the funeral ceremony was completed, the Gaudiya Matha brahma- charies were sitting together and talking about how much trouble they'd had with the cook - each was telling stories about the fights he'd had with him. Suddenly Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati appeared at the doorway and said, "He always washed his dhoti nicely and was very clean." From then on nobody dared say anything negative about that cook.
When one mayavadi sadhu was preaching his oneness philosophy in the presence of Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati and his disciples while they were riding on a train from Calcutta to Puri, Bhaktisiddhanta ordered his brahmacaries to feed the sadhu some rotten mangos which had been donated to his party earlier (they were ripe when donated, but got rotten because Bhaktisiddhanta would not take them due to his vow, and therefore no disciple would take either). After being obliged to eat four mangos, that sadhu fell at Bhaktisiddhanta's feet and swore he'd never preach oneness again.
His kirtana procession (with him personally at the head) would stop all traffic wherever it went in Calcutta; in Puri even the brahmins accepted his nam-sankirtana as fully authorized.
He would raise his danda to strike his opponent if he didn't accept his preaching.
He stayed in Puri in his last days. He lectured for some days at the place known as "Goverdhana" in Puri, and before and after his talk he would recite prayers praising Goverdhana Hill and requesting shelter in some corner there. He would sometimes comment to his disciples, there's not much time left. They could see something was going to happen soon, but weren't sure what.
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?"
Appeared Feb. 6 1874. Father was deputy magistrate of Puri, had been for three years. Bhaktivinode Thakur had been concerned that the pure teach- ings of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu would be usurped by unauthorized persons, who were members of 13 apasampradayas. Bhaktivinode Thakura had started his mission for LC late in life. He was also very busy with his profession. But he wrote profusely, and wanted someone to preach boldly to establish these pure teachings.
Padma Purana predicted Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati: a very ele- vated, pure and learned personality would appear in Purushottama-ksetra to spread the glories of Lord Jagannatha all over the world. His activities would be very unique.
When he was 6 months old, the Rathayatra was held. The cart stopped in front of SBV's house (which was on the main road between the temple and the Gundica mandira. The cart stayed there for 3 days. On the 3rd day, Bhagavati devi (ma of SBS) brought out the child and the pujaris picked him up and put him on the cart. He crawled to the base of Lord Jagannatha, and touched His lotus feet. Simultaneously a garland fell from the neck of the Lord and landed around the child. The pujaris exclaimed that this boy is particularly blessed by Lord Jagannatha.
Annaprasha festival (rice ceremony), first grain taken by kids, so for SBS the first grain was Jagannatha Prasada. Vimala devi is offered the prasada after Jagannatha takes; hence his name Bimala Prasada. Bhagavatam and gold coins - took SB.
When he was five family had become senior deputy magistrate: only three of these in all of India under British Raja. Mango incident happened at this time. Never again took ripe mangos. But he took green mango chutney offered by his disciples; this was a favorite of his.
When SBS was 7, Bhaktivinode Thakura moved to Calcutta, to the "Bhakti Bhavan" house was building. While digging foundation they found Deity of Lord Kurma. SBV initiated his son into the worship of Lord Kurma. He was doing this every single day without missing. Admitted into school. Was very expert student. Studied books of SBV, but never fell behind in school - he remembered everything after hearing it once. Teachers were astonished, father pleased.
SBV had taken initiation from Bipin Behari Goswami, who came in the line of Gadadhara Pandit. When BBG was visiting SBV, SBV paid obeisances and BBG placed his foot on SBV's head. SBS saw this and was surprised. He thought this was a dangerous thing for BBG to do. When SBV left the room, SBS asked him a question: "You are my father's guru. But do you know who he is?" BBG was taken aback at this 7-year-old's question. SBS continued, "My father is a nityasiddha, an eternal associate of the Supreme Lord. Do you have sufficient spiritual potency to place your foot on his head?" SBV returned at this time, so the conversation was interrupted. BBG said, "Your son is bold to the point of being rude." Later on, SBV found this out and used to tell this story to his disciples.
SBV is Kamalaman-manjari, and SBS is his eternal assistant. At age 13 he started higher education. Once SBV returned from Puri with Tulasi and initiated his son into chanting HK and he also took Nrsingha mantra initiation.
During this time he invented a shorthand script called Vikanta.
SBV, after seeing the wonderful vision of a golden mandira, began begging door to door for funds to establish the Yoga Pitha. At 18, SBS entered Capital Sanskrit College affiliated with Calcutta University. Within a short time mastered the 6 limbs of Sanskrit studies: shiksha, jyotish, chanda, alankara, etc.
When SBS was 22 he left college to avoid taking householder life. He took up work under the king of Tripura. Tripura had been turned to a Vaish- nava state by the king of Manipur, who was a disciple of Narottama dasa Thakur. So SBS became Raja Pandit there for 3 years. He retired with full pension, which SBS accepted for a few years and stopped.
Around this time he took initiation from Gour Kishore dasa Babaji. GK had been a grain merchant before taking babaji. He'd gone to Vrindavana and did bhajana for a long time. Then he came to Navadwipa. By this time SBV had retired and had built a bhajana kutir in Navadwipa (Godruma). He gave SB class there every day. GK used to come to these classes. SBV told SBS to accept GK as initiating guru. SBS approached GK, asking "Please give me your mercy." GK answered, "Mercy is not mine to give. It is the property of Lord Chaitanya Himself. I'll ask Him, and if He agrees, I can give you."
Second time they met, SBS inquired, "Did you ask Him?" "No, I forgot." Third time same thing happened. SBS said, "You worship that great cheat, Krishna, Who is cheating everyone. And so you are also cheating me. But if you continue in this way, I will simply give up my life, because my life is useless without receiving you mercy." Then GK gave initiation to SBS as Varshabhanavi-devi dasa. Then SBS gave up all other activities to chant 194 rounds daily for 7 years. He had a kutir but did not spend the time to repair the roof; he just used an umbrella if it rained.
One disciple of SBV who wanted to continue the mission came looking for SBS in Nabadwipa at this time, knowing him to be as powerful a personality as his father. He went around asking the locals if they knew of a sadhu match- ing SBS's desciption, but they all answered, "We don't know of a sadhu, we only know of one madman. We see him moving here and there, crying aloud and sometimes rolling on the ground." So he went searching for him in the jungle next to the Ganga, where they said he sometimes could be seen. Suddenly he heard SBS crying "Krishna Krishna Haribol! Nitai Gour Hari Bol!" He saw him burst out from the forest and plunge, fully dressed, into the Ganga. He kept on shouting in the water, splashing about. Then he came out. The disciple of SBV then approached him, requesting him to come to Calcutta to head up the sankirtana mission there. SBS answered, "Sankirtana? Can you not see the wonderful sankirtana mission of Shri Chaitanya right here in the holy dham of Navadwipa? Is it not wonderful? Shri Pancha-tattva are chanting and dancing in ecstacy, surrounded by all their associates. Can you not see this?" Then SBS ran off, again shouting "Haribol" in great ecstacy. As it was sunset by this time, that man took his bath in the Ganga, and mentally renounced the idea of organizing the sankirtana mission.
But later on, in 1918, SBS appeared at his door in Calcutta, in sannyasi robes with danda, freshly shaven, and ordered, "Now we are founding a Society, the Shri Gaudiya Matha. Draw up the papers immediately and have it registered. Though he'd arrived at 4 p.m., the work was done before that same afternoon was ended.
Even before 1918 he decried the Jatigosai/brahmana monopoly of giving initiation only to born brahmins. He preached very boldly against them. The brahmins challenged him, "where does the Gaura mantra appear in any authorized scripture as a Gayatri?" (Because the Gaudiya Vaishnavas would take this mantra as a pancharatriki mantra for brahminical initiation.) They said, "Shri Chaitanya claimed only to be a devotee. Why do you say he is the SPOG and use His name in place of authorized scriptural names and mantras?"
SBS cited Chaitanyopanishad from the Atharva-veda, discoverd by Shrila Bhaktivinode, 19 verses glorifying Lord Chaitanya. In another assembly he directly attacked the brahmins and Jati Gosai. He initiated the movement to take back the teachings of Lord Chaitanya from the hands of such unauthorized persons. Shrila Visvanatha, Baladeva, his disciple Uddhava dasa Babaji, his disciple Madhusudana dasa Babaji, were all saintly renounced souls: after Bala- deva there was no-one to strongly represent the pure teaching of LC and preach them boldly. During SBV's time, Gaudiya Vaishnava meant Baul, Aula, Sakhi Beki, Jati Gosai, etc. who were all degraded. The Vaishnavas got no respect. At this time the shaktas became strong from RamaKrishna-Vivekananda, and this put further obstructions for the establishment of pure Vaishnava dharma. SBS preached against all of this nonsense.
When GK left the planet, the babajis wanted to do the samadhi rites. He'd said he wanted to have his body dragged through the streets by his "disci- ples." Babajis had gathered to do that, they'd tied a rope around the neck. SBS crossed over to Navadwipa from Mayapura and stopped them, saying "None of you are his disciples." GK had only 2 disciples, one SBS, the other was Vamsivata dasa Babaji Maharaja, who was an avadhuta. "I am the right claimant to perform these last rites." They said, "But he was a babaji, and you are not." SBS answered, "GK does not come in babaji line. He was initiated by Nimai Chand Goswami, who was a Nityananda Parivat, coming in the line of Lord Nityananda. He received his Vesha (babaji dress) from Bhagavata dasa Babaji Maharaja, who is an initiated disciple of Jagannatha dasa Babaji." Before SBS, from time of LC, param-bhakta Vaishnavas would get Vesha (white knee length cloth, koupin, waterpot and bead-bag) initiation, not tridandi sannyasa. "Bhaktivinode Thakur also took Vesha from Jagannatha dasa Babaji. SBV, though diksha initiated of BBG, received siksha and vesha from JDB. And GK got siksha from SBV. Mahaprabhu's line is Bhagavata Parampara, not seminal line." So he challenged them to show that any such line came from Rupa or Sanatana Goswami. Rupanuga means coming in Bhagavata Sampradaya. Rupa told of Advaita's rejecting His own son Madhusudana because he accepted LC only, but not LN.
"If you are Babajis, then you are fully sense controlled. So the one of you who has not engaged in any illicit activities in the past 1 year, come and do the last rites." No one stood up. "One month? One week? 24 hours?" No one stood up. SBS then placed GK's body in samadhi.
So after finishing with the smartas, jati gosais, he took on Babas. Then in 1918 he opened his first center in Ultadanga Road in Calcutta. He was then 44. Kunjabihari Vidyabhusana (Bhakti Vilasa Tirtha Maharaja) was his main manager and a prominent devotee in the Matha. SBS had made a vow after taking sannyasa that he would never touch money. Everything was arranged by his disciples. Many of them took up jobs, e.g. Kunja Babu became a post- master. SBS did nagara kirtana with disciples and was invited to programs by the King of Burdwan or the King of Kooch Bihar; everywhere he established Lord Chaitanya's teachings as the most excellent spiritual philosophy.
He knew all Vaishnava philosophies most expertly. He brought out books on their darshans, e.g. Madhvacharya's arguments against Mayavadis. And Ramanuja. In the temple he established in Mayapur he built 4 small temples in honor of the 4 sampradayas. He put the deities of the 4 founders.
He started the Gaudiya Mission in the midst of war and national liber- ation agitation. He was uncompromising in his disregard of such mundane concerns. "The most important thing is to invoke the spirit of devotion to the Supreme Lord; this concern lies far above any material consideration." Many leaders objected, but he continued. In this period SP visited SBS on the rooftop at Ultadanga Road; SP was adherent of the national liberation movement, but SBS convinced him in one sitting of the vital necessity of Lord Chaitanya's mission over everything else.
SBS's sannyasa: happened in 1918. He could have taken babaji. Many babajis wanted to initiate him, as he'd shown himself to be such a powerful exponent of Vaishnavism (e.g. his 3-day debate with caste brahmins attended by Vaishnava scholars, in which he resoundingly defeated caste pretensions and established the Vaishnava view of brahminical status by quality of work, not birth). When he gave himself tridandi sannyasa (or had taken sannyasa from a picture of GK), this was a shock toeven his supporters, including disciples of SBV. The controversy was over varnashrama; they thought he was returning to the VAD that LC had rejected in his talks with shrila Ramananda raya. But he was establishing Daivi-varnashrama. Prabhodananda, Lokanatha Goswamis were great Gaudiya sannyassis of the past. Prabhodananda Saraswati converted a great smriti acharya, Gopal Bhatta Ghosh, and gave him tridandi sannyasa. Gadadhara Pandita was also tridandi sannyasi. Without establishment of DVAD, babaji (supposedly paramhamsa) will become a farce. Order of LC: Nityananda to take up grhastha.
Then he went to Vrndavana and challenged the authority of the babajis. He sent 3 disciples to west, and he gave 10 westerner initiation. They protested that this was unauthorized. He said, "Everything I am doing can be supported by scriptural reference, but nothing you do can be. You take young boys who don't even know how to clean themselves after passing stool and giving them 'sakhi rupa.' I am giving samskara to reform the fallen souls, and this samskar is the Hari Nama, which Lord Chaitanya gave as the siddha pranali. No rules of caste or creed bind this Harer Nama diksha."
They said SBS was not properly initiated in an established line. He disproved this. GK was initiated in line of Nityananda, but he did not accept that line. But SBS rejected that line from Nimai Jatgoswami (line of Nityananda, Jahnavi, Bir Chandra Prabhu. SBS stressed Bhagavata Sampra- daya, and didn't care for seminal line.
"Rupanuga virrudhapa siddhanta": any conclusion against the precepts of Rupa Goswami is to be rejected immediately.