The Appearance day festival of Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Vamana Gosvami Maharaja

06 January 1994

The Appearance day festival of Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Vamana Gosvami Maharaja

[The following transcription is a translation of Nitya Lila Pravista Om Visnupada Astottara Sata Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja Srila Gurudeva’s hari-katha in Hindi.]

Srila Gurudeva: First of all, I offer my prostrated obeisance to my spiritual master, Paramaradhya Nitya Lila Pravista Om Visnupada Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja. I also offer my prostrated obeisance at the lotus feet of Guru-presta, Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Vamana Gosvami Maharaja, whose appearance day we are honoring today. I also offer my obeisance to all the assembled Sannyasis, Vaisnavas, and Vaisnavis. I offer my obeisance to everyone. Today, we are celebrating the Vyasa-puja Mahotsava. What is a mahotsava? A mahotsava is a festival where everyone is so blissful. An ordinary person feels happy by eating and drinking. But, the Gaudiya Vaisnavas celebrate the festival of hari-katha. Now it has become late. All of you have been listening to hari-katha from ten in the morning to three in the afternoon.

Today, I feel very fortunate to have heard many wonderful explanations on Guru-tattva. I also heard many instructions and pastimes of Srila Vamana Gosvami Maharaja. All of us took part in listening to the glories of Srila Vamana Gosvami Maharaja. I am also very happy to see that all the Vaisnavas of the line of Srila Prabhupada i.e. the Saraswat Gaudiya Vaisnavas have assembled here and are taking part in this festival. After Prabhupada, many scholarly, most powerful disciples like Pujyapada Nemi Maharaja, Pujyapada Bon Maharaja, Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja, Pujyapada Bhakti Vilasa Tirtha Maharaja, our Gurudeva—Nitya Lila Pravista Om Visnupada Astottara Sata Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja, Nitya Lila Pravista Om Visnupada Bhakti Dayita Madhava Gosvami Maharaja, Pujyapada Yayavara Maharaja, Pujyapada Shrauti Maharaja, and Pujyapada Gosvami Maharaja, would assemble at hari-katha festivals. When they would assemble, we would sit in the corner of the assembly. Today, we consider ourselves very senior Vaisnavas. But if we look at these disciples of Srila Prabhupada, we will see how their transcendental qualities, Guru-nista, and divine preaching all over the world has made such a powerful impact on this world. Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja was also one such disciple. Just see the number of places he has preached in! He has preached all over the world. When I look at myself after seeing the disciples of Srila Prabhupada, I feel very sad.

pracenanaa bhajanamatulaa dunkaraacaevato me
nairyacyena jvalatihadayaa bhakti-lecalasasya
vinvadrecem agha-haratavakareyakarueya-vecem
aca-binduknitamidamupaityantare hanta caityam

[“I am too weak and too lazy to do even the smallest devotional service, so when I hear of the peerless and difficult-to-perform services performed by great devotees in ancient times, my heart burns with despair. O Lord! O killer of Aghäsura! When I hear that the waves of Your mercy splash everyone from the demigod Brahmä down to the most insignificant creature, my heart is sprinkled with a cooling drop of hope.”]

They were so qualified and where are we? But we are hopeful. All of you just heard Pujyapada Bhakti Prasad Puri Maharaja and others speak. We are hopeful that:

brahmanda tarite sakti dhare jane jane

[“Each and every one of the devotees of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu can deliver the entire universe.”]

I also wanted to offer my puspanjali at the lotus feet of Srila Vamana Gosvami Maharaja. But my flowers are not worthy of being called as a puspanjali. Yet, I want to speak some words. In the evening, there will be another assembly. I especially want to speak on the character and Guru-nista of Pujyapada Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Vamana Maharaja. I will try to state some glories of Vamana Maharaja’s qualities because I have been under the shelter of the lotus feet of these personalities for more than fifty five years. When I came to the Matha, Vamana Maharaja was the first person to receive me. He saw me at the station and said, “Are you Tiwariji?” Finding me at the station, he brought me to the asrama. He would give me everything I needed. Except for Guru Maharaja, Vamana Maharaja, and Pujyapada Trivikrama Maharaja, there was no one else in the Matha. Vamana Maharaja joined the Matha when he was only eight years old. His mother was a disciple of Srila Prabhupada. She offered him at the lotus feet of her Gurudeva. Since then, he has been residing in the Matha. Guru Maharaja admitted Vamana Maharaja in the Thakura Bhaktivinoda institute. If Vamana Maharaja would remember one sloka, Guru Maharaja would give him a glass of lemon juice. Vamana Maharaja would remember more than ten slokas every day. He is a great Srutidhara. He would remember a sloka just by listening to it once. We try so hard to learn one sloka. Vamana Maharaja is the sabdha-kosa (an encyclopedia) of the Gaudiya Vaisnavas. He knows and remembers so much! I think no one knows as much as him because I have not met with other Vaisnavas. But, I have the association of Vamana Maharaja. He remembers everything. He will recite all the slokas from the beginning to the end of Bhagavad Gita. He will not even stop for a moment. He knows all the slokas of the Srimad Bhagavatam as well. The sutras of the Vedanta Sutra correspond to the slokas of the Srimad Bhagavatam.

The sutra, “Athato brahma jijnasa,” corresponds to the sloka, “Janmadyasyayato ‘nvayaditaratas ca.” I have marked one very special quality of Srila Vamana Maharaja. If we do something even a little, then we will be quick to praise ourselves in one way or another. But, up until this day, I have never seen Vamana Maharaja praise himself in a direct or in an indirect manner. This is a very special quality. We praise ourselves in one form or another. But this quality is not found in Vamana Maharaja. His Guru-nista is of this caliber. When some problems came in the Gaudiya Matha, the Matha residents started returning to their homes. Court cases were filed in the Gaudiya Matha. At that time, Vamana Maharaja would cook while chanting harinama and he would take the Prasad to Guru Maharaja and all the devotees. He would also meet the lawyer at the same time. He did not have a minute to spare. If we were there during that time, then we would have returned to our homes. When Vamana Maharaja was studying at school, his name was Santosh. When he joined the Matha, Guru Maharaja named him as, “Sajjana-sevaka.”Sajjana-Sevaka would collect banana leaves and serve prasadam to all the Vaisnavas before going to school. He would arrange asans for all the Vaisnavas. He would serve banana leaves, salt, pieces of lemon, and water to all the Vaisnavas. After the Vaisnavas had finished honoring prasada, he would sweep and clean the floor. This was his service. He would do all the services. An express train doesn’t stop at any place; similarly, Vamana Maharaja would speak hari-katha from four in the afternoon to eleven in the night. We cannot speak for more than an hour. But, Vamana Maharaja explains one tattva after another in very simple language. His command of the Bengali language is brilliant. He explains many philosophical principles in a simple manner.

Vamana Maharaja defeats the false conceptions of others in a very unique manner. He doesn’t defeat a person’s arguments in a way that is apparent. We cannot understand how he does this. He corrects a person in a very polite, humble manner. He will completely break the person’s arguments; but the person will not realize that he has been soundly corrected. He does this in a very simple and perfect way. He is a very simple and tolerant person. He embodies all the qualities of a Vaisnava. Vamana Maharaja has four brothers. Druva was the eldest son after Vamana Maharaja. Nimai Pandit was the next brother. He used to work in a bank in Delhi. Subala and Nitai were the other brothers. All of them used to come and visit Vamana Maharaja. When Vamana Maharaja left home, they faced some problems. But, Vamana Maharaja did not have any mamata towards them. He treated them like ordinary people. Many devotees become subservient to their relatives. But Vamana Maharaja was not like this.

purvaitihasa, bhulinusakala, seva-sukhape’ye mane
ami to’ tomara, tumi to’ amara, kikajaaparadhane

–Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Atma Nivedana

[Since I have become absorbed in happily serving You, I have completely forgotten all my past history. All I know is that I am Yours, and You are mine. What else is of any value?]

He is always engaged in the service of Guru Maharaja. What is Guru-tattva? I remember so much about this topic. Tomorrow, I will speak on this subject during the morning. I wish to speak on Guru-tattva. What is Vyasa-puja? The day of the full moon during the month of Asada (June-July) is called Guru Purnima. This is the appearance day of Vyasadeva where everyone offers their puspanjali at his lotus feet. This is the general observance of this day. But a devotee who is the representative of Vyasa and who preaches Krsna’s glories everywhere is called an Acarya. When an Acarya worships his Gurudeva and the Guru Parampara on the day of his appearance, then that day is called Vyasa-puja. The Guru doesn’t accept the worship of his disciples. On his appearance day, a Guru or an Acarya worships his Gurudeva, Guru-parampara, Vaisnavas, Sri Radha-Krsna, and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. This is called Vyasa-puja. You can see this in the Vyasa-puja of Nityananda Prabhu. We can also see this in the life of Nitya Lila Pravista Om Visnupada Sri Srimad Bhakti Dayita Madhava Gosvami Maharaja. Not many years have passed since his disappearance. On his appearance day, Maharaja would honor all the Vaisnavas and Vrajavasis who came. He would apply tilak and garland them. He would give them clothes and worship them in all ways. He would also honor the disciples of his Godbrothers who were like his own disciples. He would garland us and honor us so much. He would worship the Guru-parampara. He would worship Radha-Krsna. If the Acaryas don’t show by their own example, then many people will think that Guru-puja means the day when the Guru is opulently worshiped by his disciples. This worship is not bona fide. Yes, the disciples should learn to worship their Gurudeva; this is imperative or else everything will be spoiled. The disciples should worship their Gurudeva. But if the Guru doesn’t worship his Gurudeva or the Guru-parampara, then how will the disciples ever learn to worship him?

Krsna has said in the Srimad Bhagavatham that “You must consider your Gurudeva to be My svarupa.”

acaryah mamvijaniyan
navamanyetakarhicit
namartya-buddhyasuyeta
sarva-deva-mayo guru

–SrimadBhagavatham 11.17.27

[One should know the acarya as Myself and never disrespect him in any way. One should not envy him, thinking him an ordinary man, for he is the representative of all the demigods.]

Krsna is Himself saying this. In his commentary to this verse, Srila Jiva Gosvami has said that if this verse implies to a spiritual master of the karmis, who consider him to be Bhagavat-svarupa; then what to speak of the Suddha-Vaisnavas?

saksad-dharitvena samasta-sastrair
uktas tatha bhavyata eva sadbhih
kintu prabhor yah priya eva tasya
vande guroh sri-caranaravindam

–Sri Gurvastakam 7

[All the scriptures proclaim Sri Gurudeva is saksathari, the direct potency of Sri Hari, and is thus considered by saintly authorities to be His non-different representative. Because Sri Gurudeva is so dear to the Lord, being His confidential servitor (acintya-bhedabheda-prakasa-vigraha, the inconceivable different and non-different worshipable manifestation of the Lord), I offer prayers unto his lotus feet.]

yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasado
yasya prasadan na gatih kuto’pi
dhyayam stuvams tasya yasas tri-sandhyah
vande guroh sri caranaravindam

–Sri Gurvastakam 8

[Only by the mercy of Sri Gurudeva can one receive the mercy of Krsna; without his grace the living entities cannot make any advancement nor be delivered. Meditating three times a day on the glories of Sri Gurudeva and reciting stava-stuti, I offer prayers unto his lotus feet.]

Gurudeva is asraya-vigraha. He is the servitor Personality of Godhead. The root of asraya-vigrahas are two-Baladeva Prabhu and Srimati Radhika. Both of them have expanded from Krsna. Srimati Radhika is Krsna’s hladini-sakti and Baladeva Prabhu is Krsna’s sandhini-sakti. Krsna is the predominating deity of cit-sakti. One line of devotion flows from Baladeva Prabhu and another line of devotion flows from Srimati Radhika. One who is under the guidance of Baladeva Prabhu and Srimati Radhika and who teaches other Their service is called an Acarya. Our brahmacari spoke very beautifully on this. A Guru who doesn’t teach his disciples on proper devotion is not a bona fide Guru. Our Brahma-Madhva Gaudiya Sampradaya has a specialty.

nikunja-yunorati-keli-siddhyai
yayalibhir yuktir apeksaniya
tatrati-daksyadati-vallabhasya
vande guroh sri caranaravindam

–Sri Gurvastakam 6

[Sri Gurudeva is always present with the sakhis, planning the arrangements for the perfection of yugala-kisora’s amorous pastimes (rati-keli) within the kunjas of Vrndavana. Because he is so expert in making these tasteful arrangements for Their pleasure, he is very dear to Sri Radha and Krsna. I offer prayers unto the lotus feet of Sri Gurudeva.]

In the other sampradayas, these pastimes of Sri Radha-Krsna are not served as much. The qualification of being a Guru largely rests on this quality.

mahaprabhoh kirtana-nrtya-gita-
vaditra-madyan-manasorasena
romanca-kampasru-taranga-bhajo
vande guroh sri caranaravindam

–Sri Gurvastakam 7

[Sri Gurudeva is inspired by Mahaprabhu’s sankirtana and is always dancing, singing, and playing musical instruments. Because he is tasting Mahaprabhu’s prema-rasa in his heart, like a madman he sometimes exhibits ecstatic symptoms—his hairs stand on end, he shivers, and waves of tears flow from his eyes. I offer prayers unto Sri Gurudeva’s lotus feet.]

All these slokas tell us the qualities of a bona fide Guru. A Guru worships Thakuraji by himself. He does the arcana-pujana. And, he is also making arrangements for:

nikunja-yunorati-keli-siddhyai

[Sri Gurudeva is always present with the sakhis, planning the arrangements for the perfection of yugala-kisora’s amorous pastimes (rati-keli) within the kunjas of Vrndavana.]

This is the quality of a Guru; this is his Gurutva. If a guru cannot give this siksa, then he cannot be called a Rupanuga Acarya. Who is a Rupanuga? We call our Guru-varga, “Rupanuga.” What is the meaning of Rupanuga? By the inspiration and mercy of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Rupa Gosvami wrote Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Ujjvala-Nilamani, Lalita Madhava, Vidagdha Madhava, and many other books. One doesn’t become a Rupanuga by following Vraja-bhakti because he maybe a Raganuga as well. A devotee is following a Ragatmika associate of Krsna but this Ragatmika associate may belong to either dasya, sakhya, vatsalya, or madhurya-rasa. But what is the specialty of being a Rupanuga? What was Rupa Gosvami’s identity in Krsna-lila? As an associate of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, he is Rupa Gosvami. As the associate of Sri Radha-Krsna, he is Srimati Rupa Manjari. What is Rupa Manjari’s seva? She is a prana-sakhi of Srimati Radhika; she is Her manjari. She serves the Divine Couple while being Radha-paksiya (having a strong inclination towards the service of SrimatiRadhika). She serves the Divine Couple, but where does Rupa Manjari’s tendency to serve lie in? She is always absorbed in the service of Srimati Radhika.

Krsna will call her or Srimati Radhika may also call her at the same time. But where will Rupa Manjari go? She will reject Krsna’s advances and go straight to Srimati Radhika. This is Rupa Manjari. If Krsna loses to Srimati Radhika, then the first sakhi who will clap her hands will be Rupa Manjari. And she also teases Krsna while engaging in the service of the Divine Couple. Therefore, Raghunatha das Gosvami has glorified Rupa Manjari by speaking this sloka:

tvam rupa-manjari sakhi prathita pure’smin
pumsah parasya vadanam na hi pasyasiti
bimbadhare ksatam anagata-bhartrkaya
yat te vayadhayi kim u tac chuka-pungavena

–Sri Vilapa Kusumanjali 1

[O dear friend Rupa Manjari, you are famous in Vraja as a very chaste girl. You never so much as look at the face of any other man. Your husband has been away at another village for the past few days, and yet your lips are freshly cut. Can it be that some excellent parrot has bitten them, having mistaken them for a bimba fruit?]

Who is a Rupanuga? A devotee who only follows the acara-vicara of Rupa Gosvami and who following his svarupagat-seva (the inherent service), gives this seed of the desire to serve in the hearts of his disciples, is a Rupanuga Vaisnava. Our sampradaya is the Rupanuga sampradaya. Narada Gosvami came and preached dasya-rasa in this world. Later, many Acaryas and the expansions of Krsna came as well. Yet, they could not give what Caitanya Mahaprabhu gave. What they gave is not even close to what Mahaprabhu gave. And, Caitanya Mahaprabhu inspired everything in the heart of Rupa Gosvami. Where did He do this? In Prayaga and Jagannatha Puri. Mahaprabhu inspired everything within Rupa Gosvami’s heart. A Guru who has these moods and who can give them to his disciple as well is a Rupanuga Gaudiya Vaisnava Acarya. Mahaprabhu is “Namomaha-vadanyaya,” but Srila Prabhupada said that Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura is also Namomaha-vadanyaya. Why? Bhaktivinoda Thakura distributed what Mahaprabhu came to give on a golden plate in a new manner. Therefore, Bhaktivinoda Thakura is maha-maha-vadanyaya. And what Srila Prabhupada do? He manifested the glories of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. Also, he manifested the Guru-parampara that stems from Radha-Krsna and Mahaprabhu. Those, who manifested Srila Prabhupada to this world are very auspicious personalities. We are so inconceivably fortunate because we came near such associates of Srila Prabhupada. We are not far away from them. But, I am unfortunate to not have obtained their moods. But these Mahapurusas have these moods.

Pujyapada Vamana Maharaja is one such eternal associate of Srila Prabhupada. We are very fortunate to have the association of such Mahapurusas. If we can accept their teachings and gain entrance into the realm of devotion, then we will have realized our inconceivably great fortune. Today, I will stop here because time is over now. Offenses at the lotus feet of Vaisnavas should not be committed. All of you should be merciful to me.

Devotees: Haribol!

Srila Gurudeva: Now arati should be done.

[End of Part 1. To be continued in Part 2]

[Break of audio]

[The transcription of Part 2]

Srila Gurudeva: What is Vyasa-puja? A person who is the representative of Vyasadeva i.e. who follows the instructions of Bhagavat-katha, is an Acarya or a Guru. You must understand him to be Bhagavan’s svarupa. It is said:

saksad-dharitvena samasta-sastrair
uktas tatha bhavyata eva sadbhih
kintu prabhor yah priya eva tasya
vande guroh sri caranaravindam

–Sri Gurvastakam 7

[All the scriptures proclaim Sri Gurudeva is saksathari, the direct potency of Sri Hari, and is thus considered by saintly authorities to be His non-different representative. Because Sri Gurudeva is so dear to the Lord, being His confidential servitor (acintya-bhedabheda-prakasa-vigraha, the inconceivable different and non-different worshipable manifestation of the Lord), I offer prayers unto his lotus feet.]

The sastras state that a bona fide Guru should be seen as non-different from Krsna. Guru is very dear to Krsna. Hence, he is regarded as non-different from Krsna. Sankaraji is also considered non-different from Bhagavan because of this reason i.e. he is very dear to Bhagavan. In the tattva-sandharba and the bhakti-sandharba, Srila Jiva Gosvami has explained Guru-tattva. Firstly, he has described the characteristics of a bona fide Guru. Karmis, jnanis, yogis, and tapasvis have gurus. But, what are the qualities of a Guru? I had spoken something about this during the morning class.

Rupanugatva is Gurutva (the quality of being a guru is parallel to being a follower of Rupa Gosvami). If a madhyama-adhikari gives siksa and is a simple, non-duplicitous Vaisnava, then he is a guru. Even if he doesn’t have a clear understanding of the sastras there is no harm. He need only possess bhakti towards Bhagavan. A person maybe conversant with all the sastras; yet, if he doesn’t have realization of Krsna, then he is not a guru. A guru must have realization of Krsna. How can a person who doesn’t have Radha-Krsna in his heart, give Them to the hearts of his disciples? Therefore, the most prominent quality of a guru is that he has realization of Bhagavan. The knowledge of the sastras is a secondary quality. Many people have an inclination towards collecting knowledge of the scriptures. They don’t pay attention to realizing Krsna in their hearts. Therefore, the guru and the disciple don’t benefit themselves. Hence, the realization of Krsna is the most prominent quality of a guru. The specialty of our sampradaya is that a Guru is fully conversant with the teachings of Rupa Gosvami. Thus, being fully realized, such a Guru belongs to our sampradaya. A conditioned soul has lust, anger, greed, illusion, pride, and envy in his heart. Yet, the conditioned soul has not committed any dhama-aparadha or seva-aparadha. To dispel these anarthas, a special potency is needed. To accumulate this potency is very difficult.

In the Gita, it is said:

kama esa krodha esa
rajo-guna-samudbhavah
mahasano maha-papma
viddhy enam iha vairinam

–Bhagavad Gita 3.37

[This desire to enjoy sense objects, which indeed transforms into wrath, is born of passion. It is all-devouring and extremely formidable. Know it to be the primary enemy of the jivas in this world.]

Lust and anger destroy a person. You must rid yourself of these anarthas. But how can you rid yourself of anger? Firstly, the mind focuses itself on sense objects. Then the conditioned soul develops desires for sense-gratification. If the conditioned soul is unable to enjoy the sense objects, then the unfulfilled desires make way for anger. When there is anger, the conditioned soul’s intelligence becomes bewildered. The conditioned soul thinks, “What should I do? What should I not do?” Thus, the conditioned soul’s intelligence is destroyed. Therefore, you should not have any desires in the first place. So how can you not have any material desires? Why will you not have any material desires? The mind is meant to have material desires. Therefore, it is very difficult to rid yourself of these material desires. Hence, lust, anger, greed, and the other anarthas don’t leave the conditioned soul. How can they go away? Don’t let your mind wander towards any material desires. Therefore, it is forbidden to even look at sense objects. But this is also impossible. This is a very difficult solution; yet, it doesn’t guarantee freedom from these anarthas.

But, by serving one bona fide guru, all the aparadhas and anarthas like lust, anger, greed, illusion, madness, and envy will be dispelled. This will be achieved by serving one Guru. Thus, the Guru must be of this caliber.

guru-mukha-padma-vakya, cittete koriya aikya,
ara na koriho mane asa

–Sri Guru-carana-padma 2

[Embrace within your heart the words emanating from Sri Gurudeva’s lotus mouth, desiring nothing else.]

What is the meaning of aikya? There are two meanings. You must consider the words and instructions of your Gurudeva to be everything. You must follow his every word. The other meaning is that you must reconcile the words of Sastra, Vaisnava, and Guru. Srila Narottama das Thakura has also said:

sadhu-sastra-guru-vakya, hrdaye kariya aikya
satata bhasiba prema-majhe

–Sri Prema-bhakti-candrika by Srila Narottama das Thakura

[Making the words of the saints, the scriptures, and çré guru one with my heart, I will float forever in divine love.]

Therefore, you must reconcile their words. You will have to consider the words of Sastras, Vaisnavas, and Guru to be one. If there is any difference between their words, then you must consider the two sources that correspond to each other. And then, you must deeply consider. If Sastras, Vaisnavas, and Guru have the same understanding, then it is all right. There is no room for doubt then. But if the words of Sastras and Guru are different, then there is something wrong. It may be that the words have a specific meaning. There is difficulty in understanding. For instance, the assertions of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Srila Prabhupada may be different. The conclusion of Bhaktivinoda Thakura is always right. Then does that mean that the words of Srila Prabhupada are wrong? Never. He is also an eternal associate of Sri Radha-Krsna. Therefore, what he says is always in the line of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. But we may be unable to reconcile. Srila Prabhupada is the Guru of the entire world. He is steeped in the conclusions of the purports of the sastras; he is a realized soul. Whatever he says is entirely correct. Therefore, in the light of his explanation of the sastras and of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s conclusions, although there may be some apparent difference—still whatever he says is correct.

krsneti yasya giri tam manasadriyeta
diksasti cet pranatibhis ca bhajantam isam
susrusaya bhajana-vijnam ananyam anya-
nindadi-sunya-hrdam-ipsita-sanga-labdhya

–Nectar of Instruction 5

[One should mentally honor the devotee who chants the holy name of Lord Krsna, one should offer humble obeisances to the devotee who has undergone spiritual initiation and is engaged in worshiping the Deity, and one should associate with and faithfully serve that Pure devotee who is advanced in undeviated devotional service and whose heart is completely devoid of the propensity to criticize others.]

In his purport to this verse, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has stated that even if a person has chanted the holy name just once; yet, you must offer your obeisance to him. If he is initiated, you must offer your obeisance by your body and mind. And if a devotee is chanting the holy name continuously and never criticizes anyone, and is absorbed in serving the eight fold pastimes of Sri Radha-Krsna, then you should be ready to give your life to him and considering him to be your dear most friend of the heart, you must serve him. The sloka is one, but Srila Prabhupada gave a slightly different explanation.

He said, “If a person chants the pure holy name even once, then you must offer your obeisance to such an exalted personality by your body and mind.”

When these statements of our Acaryas were being considered, some devotees said, “What Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has said is correct.”

And our Gurudeva said, “Who taught us who Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura is? Did you know who Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura is by yourself? Srila Prabhupada told us who he is. He is also Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s direct disciple. He has propagated his conceptions everywhere. Whatever he has heard, he has heard from him. So, he is only speaking what Bhaktivinoda Thakura has spoken. Therefore, what he has said is correct also.”

In the end, everyone agreed to what our Gurudeva said. Therefore, apparent differences must be careful deliberated on. So, Guru’s seva must be done with intimacy, visrambha guru-seva. To render intimate service, we must also ascend to that same stage where Gurudeva is. To worship Bhagavan, you must become like Him. Therefore, to render service to Guru, you must properly understand Guru’s conceptions. You must understand his desires. Just as you should not worship demigods independently; similarly, you cannot render service to Guru without understanding his conceptions. If you render intimate service to Guru, then he will be pleased and you will cross over this material existence. In the morning, some devotees spoke on how some wish to cross over this material existence to attain liberation, Vaikuntha, Dvaraka, or something else. Some do sadhana-bhajana for the anugatya, the guidance of Krsna’s friends like Subala or Sridhama. Some do sadhana-bhajana for the anugatya, the guidance of Krsna’s parents i.e. Nanda-Yasoda. Some also do sadhana-bhajana for the guidance of the sakhis. And what does our Guruvarga say?

They do sadhana-bhajana for the attainment of the service of Srila Rupa Gosvami’s foot dust. There is no higher attainment than this. What did Srila Prabhupada write?

adadanas trnam dantair idam yace punah punah
srimad rupa-padambhoja-dhulh syam janma-janmani

–Taking grass between my teeth, I pray repeatedly that I may become a speck of dust at Sri Rupa Goswami’s lotus feet, birth after birth. (Raghunath Das Goswami, Muktacarita.)

To aspire for the service of Sri Radha-Krsna is the highest and most beautiful desire of every soul. It is not possible for a higher desire than this to exist. When Srila Prabhupada came in this Guru-parampara, many of his eternal associates also came with him. In a very short time, they preached Mahaprabhu’s mission all over the world. Among them, Nitya Lila Pravista Om Visnupada Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja is his foremost disciple. This is his identity. Many people are identified according to the families they belong to; they are also identified when their parents are identified.

Srila Vamana Maharaja’s mother was the disciple of Srila Prabhupada. His mother’s name was Bhagavati Devi. Has anyone seen her?

Sripada Madhava Maharaja: I did.

Srila Gurudeva: Where did you see her?

Sripada Madhava Maharaja: At Guru Maharaja’s math in Navadvipa.

Srila Gurudeva: So, Bhagavati Devi was Srila Prabhupada’s disciple. And who was Srila Vamana Maharaja’s father?

Devotees: Satish Candra.

Srila Gurudeva: He was a disciple of our Guru Maharaja. Except for Vamana Maharaja’s mother, all his family members were the disciples of our Guru Maharajaji. His mother was one of the first disciples of Srila Prabhupada. She offered Vamana Maharaja to our Guru Maharaja’s lotus feet when Vamana Maharaja was still a little boy. Guru Maharaja was a fatherly figure to Maharaja and looked after him in every way. And who cared like a mother?

Devotees: Narahari Prabhu.

Srila Gurudeva: He was the mother of the Gaudiya Math. He would even clean everyone’s stool. During the night arati, he would gather all the children. There was no electricity then. If he saw some children sleeping then he would gently awaken them and bring them to arati. He would teach them, feed them, and care for them in all ways. There were many devotees then. These children loved him because he loved them more than any of their family members or friends did. Hence, a Guru must be loving and affectionate like Narahari Prabhu. Then he can attract everyone to him.

So, Vamana Maharaja’s childhood name was Santosh. This was his identity then. But what is our real, topmost identity? Our identity is that we belong to one of Jagat-Guru Srila Prabhupada’s foremost disciples—Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja. This is our identity in the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya Sampradaya. But another identity remains. This is our gross identity. If Guru Maharaja gives us our internal identity, then we will know our eternal identity. According to worldly vision, Vamana Maharaja belonged to one village of Bengal. But since his childhood, he has remained in the Gaudiya Math. Guru Maharaja admitted Vamana Maharaja in the Thakura Bhaktivinoda Institute. Staying in the asrama, he would study there. He had many classmates. But none of them..

[Break of audio]

Vamana Maharaja was a vidya-anuragi. He was a great vidya-anuragi. I related his glories in regard to his seva. He would distribute leaf-plates, salt, and water to everyone. He would then clean the place. This was his first service. In the Vaisnava Mathas, cutting vegetables is a very prominent service. He would cut vegetables and cook very swiftly. None could be compared to him. He would look another way and cut vegetables; such was his expertise. He would cut vegetables in one size. None would be big or small. While serving Guru Maharaja, he got a fever of 104 degrees. During that time many Vaisnavas from the other Mathas came to the Matha. And there was no one else left to cook other than Vamana Maharaja.

At that time, Guru Maharaja told Vamana Maharaja, “Are you sleeping? Do you have fever? Arise immediately and cook for everyone.”

Vamana Maharaja immediately got up and started to cook for everyone despite having a fever of 104 degrees. He did all the services. Guru Maharaja told him, “Now that you have performed all the services, you should go back to sleep.” Can anyone do like him? Can anyone cook and do all services while having a fever of 104 degrees? You cannot do or think about anything when you are sick. He did seva like this. When there was a flood in Mayapura…I heard this from Vamana Maharaja. We used to stay together during Guruji’s manifest presence. We used to also preach together. Even if no one would go along with Guru Maharaja, Vamana Maharaja and me would go along with him. Another person would also accompany us. Along with our Guru Maharaja, the three of us would go to Medinipura, 24 parganas, and to many other places. So, we had the opportunity to know many things.

Once, a flood came to Mayapura. He was swept away by the flood. Some villagers are expert boatmen; so was Vamana Maharaja. When he started to row a boat, a swift current came and carried Vamana Maharaja along. Now, Vamana Maharaja was in a dangerous position. Meanwhile, he found a tree. He caught hold of the tree and tied the boat to it. But, he saw a hissing snake above. He had no other place left to go. He took shelter of the tree while being surrounded by water from all four sides. And if the snake fell from top, then it would only make the situation worse.

Vamana Maharaja told me, “Chanting Bhagavan’s names, I caught hold of the tree for the entire night. After some time, people understood my position and rescued me.”

Sripada Madhava Maharaja: He was alone?

Srila Gurudeva: He was alone. He found shelter on some branches of the tree. He stood on one leg. Even when I came, I would stand on one leg and travel for many miles on the Calcutta carrier. There was nothing else then. We did not know what a thick dhoti was in the Matha back then. We were so renounced. Today’s devotees cannot even imagine how renounced we were. We were doing big, big jobs but after coming in the Matha, we practiced renunciation. Day and night, we were engaged in many services. Vamana Maharaja didn’t have a moment to spare. All the Matha’s responsibilities are on him. He would look after the Matha especially when Guru Maharaja would go preaching.

Later, he became the in charge of the press in Chuncura. The monthly journal, Gaudiya Patrika started sometime after I joined the Matha. Nrsingha Maharaja was the uncle of Vamana Maharaja; he was his father’s elder brother. He was a disciple of Srila Prabhupada and he took sannyasa from Sridhara Maharaja. He never left our Gurudeva. Although Narottama Prabhu and all the others left our Gurudeva, Nrsingha Maharaja said, “If I will stay then I will stay with the lion. I will not stay with goats.”

When the Bhaktivinoda Institute opened, Guru Maharaja made some changes. He told us, “In other schools, Sunday is a holiday. But I said, ‘In our school Sunday will not be a holiday. The day of Ekadasi will be a holiday.’ So, the government opposed this. They said, ‘Sunday will remain as a holiday.’ But I was determined. This is the parampara of our Sanatana-Bharatvarsa i.e. the culture of India. Hence, is this the culture of India or the foreigners? Rather than having a holiday on Sunday, we will have a holiday on Thursday, the day of Brhaspati or on Ekadasi.”

Guru Maharaja wanted the students to be first in all subject matters. In other places, the subject of dharma is optional. No one cares for dharma in these places. Guru Maharaja said, “This will be the rule in our school. If one fails in dharma then even though he has passed in all the other subjects, he will be considered a failure.” And Guru Maharaja implemented this. In the end, the Muslims and other persons wrote to the government saying, “Our son has passed in all the subjects but he has failed in the subject of dharma. So he is considered a failure.” So, this case went to the High court. But in the end, our Guru Maharaja won the case. In this way, Guru Maharaja had special conceptions. Therefore, whoever studied in the Thakura Bhaktivinoda Institute became great devotees. Although many became householders; still, they were followers of dharma.

As I mentioned earlier, Vamana Maharaja came to the Matha at a very young age. He came during the time of Srila Prabhupada. He even came before Sridhara Maharaja. Sridhara Maharaja joined the Matha in 1930. Vamana Maharaja joined earlier. And I came in 1946. So there is a difference of more than sixteen years. Vamana Maharaja came sixteen years earlier than me. And, he has been serving Guru Maharaja since. He has been listening to him since 1930. Therefore, many great devotees came after him. He took harinama from Srila Prabhupada. When there was some dissension, he had to leave the Matha. When he was told to take harinama again, he did not. Guru Maharaja then gave him initiation. After taking sannyasa, Guru Maharaja established the Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti in Kolkata and has always kept him close. He then gave Maharaja initiation and sannyasa as well. In 1952, the sannyasa ceremony of Pujyapada Vamana Maharaja, Pujyapada Trivikrama Maharaja, and mine took place. The three of us took sannyasa at the same time. Before taking sannyasa the three of us told Guru Maharaja, “We are not qualified for taking sannyasa. We will not take sannyasa.” Trivikrama Maharaja was the eldest of us. Trivikrama Maharaja was more than thirty five years old and Vamana Maharaja was thirty three years old. And I was a couple of years younger than Vamana Maharaja.

When Trivikrama Maharaja was asked, he said, “Guru Maharaja I will not take sannyasa.”

“Why?”

“Srila Prabhupada was such a renowned and learned scholar. So are Nemi Maharaja, Shrauti Maharaja, and you. All these personalities are so exalted. They are most worshipable to me. So, I will not take sannyasa.”

When Vamana Maharaja was asked, he replied, “Then I will also not take sannyasa.”

When Guru Maharaja asked me, I also said, “I will not take sannyasa.”

All three of us refused to take sannyasa. Then Nrsingha Maharaja asked me, “You will not take sannyasa?”

“No.”

“Why?”

“I am not qualified.”

“Who will judge your qualification? Your Gurudeva or your own self? Are you taking sannyasa for your own self or for the service of Gurudeva? Do you want to act according to the wishes of your Gurudeva or according to the wishes of your own self? Then why didn’t you remain at home?” asked Nrsingha Maharaja. He was a great logician.

His words entered my mind and I said, “All right. I will take sannyasa no matter what will happen. If Gurudeva wants to give me sannyasa, then I accept. If he wants to give me red cloth, I accept. I will do whatever Gurudeva tells me to do. I will not act according to my desires.”

When Vamana Maharaja and Trivikrama Maharaja were asked again, they refused again. Then Guru Maharaja told them, “All right. Gaura-Narayana will take sannyasa alone. No one else will take sannyasa.”

When all the preparations for the ceremony were made, Vamana Maharaja and Trivikrama Maharaja said, “Gaura-Narayana is taking sannyasa according to the desire of Gurudeva. He is acting completely according to the desires of Gurudeva without judging about one’s qualification. So, we will also take sannyasa.”

Hence, they also agreed. In this way, the three of us were the first sannyasa disciples of Guru Maharaja as well. Really, I see that the two were qualified for taking sannyasa. Nowadays, I see that the qualification for taking sannyasa has been lowered. Those, who don’t have any knowledge of the Gaudiya Vaisnava philosophy, and who don’t know the purports of the Srimad Bhagavatham, are taking sannyasa. But, how qualified were Vamana Maharaja and Trivikrama Maharaja. The only qualification one should have while taking sannyasa is, “I only want to serve my Guru Maharaja.” This is the only qualification needed. Vamana Maharaja served Guru Maharaja since the beginning of his life, and his service is most inspiring. Guru Maharaja would give the dictation for the Gaudiya Patrika and for his books just once and Vamana Maharaja would do everything. He would single handedly look after the Gaudiya Patrika. Guru Maharaja would dictate an essay and Vamana Maharaja would compile all the references. At that time, there were no cassette recorders. But, Vamana Maharaja would listen to every word and compile the essay of Guru Maharaja.

Vamana Maharaja was a very shy personality. He was of “Kanya-rashi.” He was very shy. He will not speak to anyone. Some people say, “Vamana Maharaja doesn’t speak to guests.” But this is not true; people don’t understand. He is of a very shy nature. He speaks only a few words. But he does speak and preach. Earlier, he would give hari-katha. I saw this during my own time.

Guru Maharaja would say, “Vamana Maharaja, speak hari-katha.”

When he would not speak, then Guru Maharaja would tell me to speak. I didn’t know Bengali, yet I would speak Bengali couplets in a broken manner. And, I would also do a little kirtan. If Guru Maharaja would become immersed in bhava, then he would tell me to sing. And I was not shy. I would stand and speak regardless of knowing anything or not. Therefore, Guru Maharaja would tell me to speak. When we were preaching in one place, Guru Maharaja told Vamana Maharaja, “You should speak hari-katha.” And Vamana Maharaja felt he was in a great dilemma.

He thought, “How can I speak?”

He then beautifully recited the slokas of the Srimad Bhagavatam and read the translation. He was of a very shy nature. Guru Maharaja thought, “How can I make him ready?” Vamana Maharaja was the in charge and publisher of the Gaudiya Patrika. One day, Guru Maharaja told him, “You should go preaching. Take Vrndavana das along with you as well.” Vamana Maharaja became very sad.

He thought, “Guru Maharaja is making me leave the Chuncura Matha. What should I do now?

He was very sad. When he returned from his preaching, he was completely changed. Now, he no longer remained in the press. After his preaching service, he made a vow and said, “I will no longer engage in press seva even if I am forced to.” This came to pass and Vamana Maharaja no longer actively participated in the press seva. He now went to preach everywhere and he would speak hari-katha for many hours.

Maharaja would sometimes go somewhere without telling anyone. No one knew where he went. His one specialty is that he will not tell anyone what he is going to do or where he is going to go. He will not tell anyone. On one night, he left Chuncura and caught a train from Kolkata to a place called Jayanagar. He got down and travelled by foot as there was no other way. He had to walk for four miles. It was night and it was 11 o’clock. The road was dilapidated. When he reached one place, he saw that at 11 o’ clock in the night, a festival was taking place on the banks of a river. A marriage ceremony was taking place. Puris were being made and everyone was dancing and making merry. Meanwhile, the father of the bride offered his obeisance to Vamana Maharaja and said, “Maharajaji, please bless my daughter and then leave.” At that time, he was still a brahmacari. He was also very thin. Now he has become broad. He would tell this to the children.

Sripada Madhava Maharaja: He told it to us as well.

Srila Gurudeva: He was an expert in telling stories to children. He told the children, “When I came there, the marriage party approached me and told me to bless the bride. They surrounded me on all four sides.”

Vamana Maharaja thought, “What should I do? I am also a little scared. This is supposed to be a joyous marriage ceremony.”

After a while, he started chanting harinama. If he had listened to the requests of the marriage party then it would have been very difficult for him to have escaped with his life. He started chanting harinama and left the place. No one disturbed him anymore. He started to chant loudly. When he reached the temple, Pishima (an affectionate Bengali term for a mother) asked him, “Baba, where were you?”

Upon hearing Vamana Maharaja’s encounter, she said, “There are only ghosts in that place.”

“Ghosts? A marriage ceremony was taking place there. How can ghosts possibly be there?”

“It was not a marriage ceremony! There were only ghosts there,” said Pishima.

Vamana Maharaja thought, “Oh Baba! I shall not return to that place.”

Vamana Maharaja would speak to the children this way. When Guru Maharaja would speak, Vamana Maharaja would swiftly take down the dictation. One month has thirty days. On one such month, forty religious assemblies were organized. Whenever Guru Maharaja would speak, Vamana Maharaja would quickly write down anything and everything would be published. When Guru Maharaja left the Gaudiya Mission, he established the Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti at Boshapada Lane in Kolkata. Vamana Maharaja was also there. He would cook and distribute prasad to all the assembled Vaisnavas. At that time, Sridhara Maharaja, Nrsingha Maharaja, Svami Maharaja, and Santa Maharaja was also there. The Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti was established there.

After proofreading a script, a correction takes place. On that day of the press seva in the Chuncura Matha, there was no one to do the correction. So, Vamana Maharaja ran the machine and obtained the proof. After correcting it, he started the press and started putting the paper in. Meanwhile, his hand was caught in the machine and his hand became completely bloodied. His fingers were also cut. Guru Maharaja was in his room and when he heard what happened, he started crying. Guru Maharaja immediately took Vamana Maharaja to Kolkata. Taking him there, he admitted him in a medical college for some days. After slowly recovering, Vamana Maharaja was discharged. Guru Maharaja was crying for him. Guru Maharaja was of a very grave nature; we would never see him cry. But I was there that day in the Matha. Guru Maharaja and me had gone preaching and we had just returned. Even when I was with Ananga Mohan Prabhu at Siddhabadi, Guru Maharaja would always weep for him. When Ananga Mohan Prabhu became sick, Guru Maharaja left all his services and took Ananga Mohan with him to Shimla. He had him admitted in a hospital there.

The foremost quality of Vamana Maharaja is his shyness. He never praises himself. He is always grave. His power of remembrance is astonishing. He is a brilliant speaker and writer. He has written Guru Maharaja’s biography and many other books. He has also published many books. He doesn’t have a tinge of arrogance. Also, he never speaks of his magnanimity. This is his special quality. If we give one paisa to anyone, we will be quick to tell everyone. But no one knows what Vamana Maharaja gives to another. He will give to another person very silently. No one knows what he gave or how much he gave. Vamana Maharaja gave one disciple of Kolkata everything. He had much faith in him. But this disciple returned home. No one knows how much he took along with him. People only speculate on how much he took. He is probably the brother of Kamalini. After Guru Maharaja’s disappearance, I was collecting donations when I was at Kesavaji Gaudiya Matha. I didn’t have any money and I didn’t know anyone there. I didn’t know any of the residents of Mathura. So what could I do since I had already started preaching? When Vamana Maharaja found out, he gave me five thousand rupees without telling anyone. From that money, I slowly started the preaching mission in Mathura. I don’t know what Vamana Maharaja has given to many people because he receives donations as well. He doesn’t tell anyone what he gives to others. He gives silently—charity must be of this nature. Your other hand should not know the donation you have given from your hand. And, he is also of a “gopana” nature. This is his expertise. No one can predict his actions. This quality is very necessary for an Acarya. His love and affection for disciples is unequalled. He even speaks to disciples who have just started to tread the path of Krsna consciousness. Hence, every disciple thinks, “Guru Maharaja likes me the most.” We don’t know how to love devotees as much as he does. But Maharaja knows how to love everyone. He is also very renounced. He embodies all the qualities of a Vaisnava.

The most important quality of a Vaisnava is that he is completely realized in Vaisnava philosophy. Vamana Maharaja knows everything. And, he will not speak in a place where I am present. Isn’t it? He will refuse to speak.

Sripada Madhava Maharaja: When Guru Maharaja came to speak, he immediately asked for another asana for you. He said he would leave if another asana wasn’t given.

Srila Gurudeva: He will not speak when I am there. He will say, “You should speak. You should speak.” As the audience looked on, we would spend five minutes trying to have each other speak. And, he will not say anything even if I made a mistake. Once, when we were in the Syamasundara temple, I said, “Baladeva Vidyabhusana has made this temple.” But, Syamananda Prabhuji had made the temple. After some days, Vamana Maharaja told me, “Syamananda Prabhu made this temple and not Baladeva Vidyabhusana.” He didn’t say directly. So, he is like this wherever I am. Even now, he will always tell me to speak. If there is something to be written, he will say, “You should write.” Giving respect to others is a very prominent quality of Vaisnavas.

So, today is his appearance day and not his birthday. He is not directly present here—but he is present here. How is he present? Where does Bhagavan reside? Where his glories are spoken. So, he is present here in one way or another. Hence, may he shower his mercy on all of you. And may all of you accept his blessings. If you can really do bhajan and render service to Guru and Vaisnavas, then you have really offered puspanjali at his lotus feet. And if you don’t follow his principles and conduct then no matter how many times you offer puspanjali at his lotus feet—you have not offered any puspanjali at all.

Therefore, all of you must try hard to do sadhana-bhajana. You must try to imbibe his qualities and conceptions. You should try to chant harinama. You must become lower than a blade of grass and more tolerant than a tree, then you can offer puspanjali at his lotus feet. We pray at his lotus feet that we may obtain the Guru-bhakti, Guru-nista, and Bhagavad-bhakti that he has. We pray that we can have nista towards the lotus feet of Guru like he does and that we may also engage in Guruseva like him. I will stop for today and we will deliberate on Vamana Maharaja’s glories on another occasion. I will stop for today.

vancha-kalpa-tarubhyas ca krpa-sindhubhya eva ca
patitanam pavanebhyo vaisnavebhyo namo namah

[“I offer my respectful obeisances unto all the Vaishnava devotees of the Lord. They are just like desire trees who can fulfill the desire of everyone. They are oceans of mercy and are the purifiers of the fallen souls.”]

Mahamantra should be sung.