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Gurudev: Surrounded by Affection

His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad
Srila Bhakti Nirmal Acharya Maharaj
Disappearance day of Srila Govinda Maharaj
Siliguri, evening class, 24 April 2021, part 3
Translated from Bengali

 

Our Gurudev, Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj, came to Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj in 1947 and stayed with him as a brahmachari. He came to the temple when he was seventeen years old and stayed at the temple for twenty-four years. After that, he went to live in his family, but even when he left to live at his home, he did not leave the temple—he always took care of the temple and always helped Param Guru Maharaj as a secretary of the Math.

In the early days, Gurudev took Param Guru Maharaj and devotees to different places—he made tours of the chari-dham parikrama (Puri, Vrindavan, Badrinath, South India) and many other holy places. Srila Gurudev loved Param Guru Maharaj so much—within just seven days after he came to stay at the temple, Srila Sridhar Maharaj declared that in the future this boy would be the next acharya after him.

After that, much water flew under the bridge down the Ganga... I have spoken about Srila Sridhar Maharaj many times, you all know his pastimes. After many years, Srila Sridhar Maharaj brought Srila Gurudev back to the temple again and gave him sannyas. Srila Sridhar Maharaj had waited for Gurudev for thirty years to give him his chair—he had been waiting for him to come back from his family life. In the end, Srila Sridhar Maharaj said, "If you do not take this chair, I will break the temple and give the Deities to my godbrother!" When Gurudev still did not agree to take this chair, Srila Sridhar Maharaj said, "If you do not take sannyas and take responsibility for Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, I will commit suicide and you will be held responsible for my suicide!" Then Gurudev had to agree. Srila Sridhar Maharaj had a very close relationship with Gurudev.

When Srila Swami Maharaj, the founder of ISKCON, was going to inaugurate ISKCON in Mayapur in 1973, Srila Sridhar Maharaj came to the inauguration ceremony with Gurudev. When Gurudev gave a short lecture on behalf of Srila Sridhar Maharaj, Srila Swami Maharaj was astonished to hear it, "How much this boy knows!" In that lecture, Gurudev recited a sloka,

কম্প্রতি কথয়িতুমীশে সম্প্রতি কো বা প্রতীতিমায়াতু ।
গোপতি-তনয়াকুঞ্জে গোপবধূটী-বিঢং ব্রহ্ম ॥

kam prati kathayitum ise samprati ko va pratitim ayatu
go-pati-tanaya-kunje gopa-vadhuti-vitam brahma

"To whom can I say and who will believe me if I say that Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is hunting the gopis in the bushes by the banks of the Yamuna?!"

A small cowherd boy herds cows on the bank of the Yamuna and all the women of Vraja's brahmans are running after Him all over Vrindavan! And who is this young boy? This is not an ordinary boy—He is the Lord Himself, Vrajendra-nandan Sri Krishna (the son of the king of Vraja). He is Nanda-kishor, Sri Nanda-nandan Krishna! Who could have said it? In the same way, who would have thought that Srila Swami Maharaj, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj, who was known as Abhay Babu, who used to run his shop business in Kolkata, had at his old age gone abroad, travelled all over the world and established such a big ISKCON! How many foreign devotees he brought to this path! He used to be a simple grihastha, but he established hundreds of temples of ISKCON all over the world. Who would have said that this Abhay Babu who used to sit in his shop would become Jagad Guru? After he took initiation from Srila Prabhupad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur, he got association of many Vaishnavs, especially Srila Sridhar Maharaj, and in the end he took a ship and went abroad—he had been prevented three times, but he still went there and preached Hari-katha all over the world.

Srila Sridhar Maharaj was very affectionate to Srila Gurudev from Srila Gurudev's very young age—Gurudev used to always say that he was a very naughty, a very bad boy, but Srila Guru Maharaj moulded him very nicely. Srila Sridhar Maharaj sent Gurudev to a school to study Harinama-amrita-vyakaran, he got him admitted into a school to study Sanskrit, and he taught him so many things. Many of Srila Sridhar Maharaj's godbrothers would always come from various Gaudiya Maths to see Srila Sridhar Maharaj (Srila Keshav Maharaj from Devananda Gaudiya Math, Srila Bhakti Dayita Madhav Goswami Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Pramode Puri Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Kamal Madhusudan Goswami Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Saranga Goswami Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Hriday Bon Maharaj, Srila Bhaktyaloka Paramahamsa Maharaj from Paramahamsa Gaudiya Math, Srila Vaikhanash Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Kumud Shanta Maharaj, and many others). Everybody would come to Srila Sridhar Maharaj, and everybody said, "If you want to hear Hari-katha, you must come to Srila Sridhar Maharaj." Gurudev was there at that time—he always served them all, he would arrange for their prasadam, etc. And they all loved Gurudev. Srila Swami Maharaj also said that although he had many biological sons, he actually had only one real son—Gaurendu Brahmachari (Srila Govinda Maharaj). Srila Krishna Das Babaji Maharaj also loved him very much. All of Param Guru Maharaj's godbrothers loved him. Even Srila Bhakti Vilas Tirtha Maharaj (Kunja Babu) respected and was very affectionate to Gurudev although he was not on very good terms with Srila Sridhar Maharaj. Srila Sridhar Maharaj trained Gurudev in this way, "Even if the relationship with my godbrothers is a little strained, you must go, give obeisance to him and come back." One time, when Gurudev was with Param Guru Maharaj at a train station, they saw Srila Bhakti Vilas Tirtha Maharaj, who was the Acharya of Sri Chaitanya Math. Srila Sridhar Maharaj was two compartments away from him in the train, and he sent our Gurudev to pay dandavat to Srila Bhakti Vilas Tirtha Maharaj. He taught him in this way, "I may not be able to go and talk to him, he may not respect me, but it is not a problem—you can go and pay dandavat to him." I have heard it from Srila Gurudev's own mouth.

 

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Sri Sri Damodarastakam
'O Lord, although You are able to give all kinds of benedictions, I do not pray to you for the boon of impersonal liberation, nor the highest liberation of eternal life in Vaikuntha, nor any other boon [which may be obtained by executing the nine processes of bhakti]. O Lord, I simply wish that this form of Yours as Bala Gopala in Vrndavana may ever be manifest in my heart, for what is the use to me of any other boon besides this?'
শ্রীশ্রীদামোদরাষ্টকম্

If we practise, we will be able to believe, but our problem is that if we do not see
something we do not believe in it. That is the problem.

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