- Friday, 19 December 2014
- Last Updated: Friday, 19 December 2014
Sriman Siddhanath Tiwari (1929 - 28-11-2014) was born in Tiwaripur, Bihar, India. He was the youngest of three brothers and had four younger sisters.
When Siddhanath Tiwari was nineteen years old an extreme example of renunciation and determination touched his life. His eldest brother Sriman Narayana prabhu renounced his work, and previous ashram and silently left home to join the Gaudiya Math under the care of Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajïäna Kesava Gosvami Maharaja . Later Sriman Narayana prabhu accepted the sannyasa order to become Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Goswami Maharaja.
Siddhanath Tiwari Prabhu recalls, "After some years we came to know that Srila Gurudeva was living in Mathura. By now father had given up all desire to bring him back home. He would say to everyone, "If Sriman Narayana wants to perform bhajana, then we should not partake in sin by creating obstacles on his path." From time to time mother, father and other family members used to visit him in Mathura, and upon returning they would praise his devotional activities and his conduct.
As I grew up I started working in Jamshedpur Tatanagar. I was keeping regular contact with Srila Gurudeva through the post. In response to one of my letters in 1962, he wrote, "Listen, whenever you find some time, come to Navadvipa. Many exalted Vaisnavas visit there from all over India. You will get an opportunity to associate with the sadhus and a chance to hear hari-katha." After receiving this letter I took leave and went to Sri Navadvipa Dhama.
The whole journey I kept wondering if my brother would recognize me or if I would be able to recognize him. We had not seen each other for a long time. Anyhow, I reached Devananda Gaudiya Matha, and the very moment I arrived, hari-katha was being spoken. I inquired about Srila Gurudeva and was told that he was sitting on the dais along with the other sannyasis. Param-gurudeva was also present there. I became completely bewildered; after all, I was seeing my brother after a long time. But upon careful observation I ascertained one particular sannyasi to be my brother. I went forward and touched his feet and offered him my obeisances. In response Srila Gurudeva said, "Sidhanatha, you came! Now your life will be successful. Do not touch my feet, touch the feet of my Gurudeva and the other exalted saints. I too beg for their mercy all the time." I did as he instructed and Srila Gurudeva introduced me to everyone. Later he advised me, "Listen, this is a holy place. Do not wear a loongi* here, only a dhoti. Do not accept any service from anyone here; as far as possible serve everyone else."
*Loongi- A particular style of wearing a casual, mostly check pattern wrap-around sheet.
Everyone's affectionate behavior towards me in Devananda Gaudiya Matha
I stayed for about ten days in Devananda Gaudiya Matha. During this period I had the opportunity to observe very closely the sweet affectionate behavior, the hari-katha and the ideals of Srila Param-gurudeva, Srila Bhaktivedanta Vamana Goswami Maharaja and Srila Bhaktivedanta Trivikrama Goswami Maharaja. Srila Trivikama Maharaja arranged a room, mosquito net and other necessities for me. Whenever it was time for prasad, Srila Bhaktivedanta Vamana Goswami Maharaja would call me, "Sidhanathaji, let's go, it's time for prasad. Rotis have been made for you, hot rotis. Come, come." He spoke these words with such affection and sweetness that they are still fresh in my memory.
Ten days later I said to Srila Gurudeva, "I must leave now. Please give me permission. But I have one request." Srila Gurudeva replied, "What is that?" I answered, "The family members have not seen you in quite some time, and many of them have not seen you at all since you left, so at least try to go home just once." Srila Gurudeva replied, "I no longer lead an independent life. I follow my Gurudeva's orders regarding all my activities. Whatever you are telling me, say it in front of my Gurudeva, and whatever he decides I will follow." Srila Gurudeva took me to Param-gurudeva. The moment Param-gurudeva saw me he inquired, "Dear Sidhanatha, do you have something to say?" I offered my obeisances and said, "I have a request. Please give my brother permission to visit our home just once." Srila Param-gurudeva replied, "What are you saying? Now, why does he need my permission? If one is not to be trusted, he will be kept under check, but we have complete faith in him." That very moment Srila Param-gurudeva fixed a date for his visit, and said, "On the way to Mathura Narayana Maharaja will stop in Buxar and he will be accompanied by a few brahmacaris." Then I said, "Now please give me permission to leave." Srila Param-gurudeva responded, "No, no, you remain here. Narayana Maharaja will live in Mathura and I will put you in charge of this Matha." At first I replied, "Maharajaji, do you also have some other Mathas? Shall I call for my third brother to take charge too?" On hearing this Param-gurudeva burst out laughing. Then I pointed to all the devotees standing there and said, "Maharajaji, please select any one of these to be responsible for the temple, and give me permission to leave." This way we had a very light-hearted exchange before my departure.
Making his life successful by always staying in high class association
Before departing I inquired from Srila Gurudeva, "Why did you decide to leave home?" Srila Gurudeva replied, "In fact, I was not able to leave home despite my desire to do so. Firstly, the S.P. would not accept my letter of resignation. Three or four times he refused to accept it and only with great difficulty he finally did so. Secondly, I attempted to leave home nine times. I would go a few kilometers and then turn back each time. I even cried at times, but still remained indecisive. Then I heard an aerial voice say to me, 'This is your last chance to pass this examination. If you fail this time, you will never get another chance this life.' So then I took a firm stand and left. Our domestic condition was not such that I could leave, but whatever transpired was by the will of Guru-Vaisnavas and Bhagavan, and I feel it was a blessing in disguise for all concerned."
On my way back home I thought to myself again and again, "Oh, Srila Gurudeva is serving Bhagavan in such esoteric association. He has dedicated his life to following in the footsteps of Guru and Vaisnavas. Indeed, his life is successful." I felt so proud to be his younger brother.
Instructing us to serve the devotees
After some time Srila Gurudeva came to Tiwaripur accompanied by four brahmacaris. According to prior arrangements Srila Gurudeva led programs with hari-katha and kirtana for three days. Before arriving Srila Gurudeva informed us that he desired to stay outside somewhere, so we had arranged for everyone to stay in a nearby school. Srila Gurudeva reminded us again and again, "Do not consider these brahmacaris accompanying me to be ordinary people. Even the demigods desire to serve them. Please make the best arrangements you can for their accommodations, prasada and donations. And you should especially try to adopt in your life whatever pertinent instructions you hear from them in their hari-katha." After three days Srila Gurudeva left for Mathura.
Whenever some devotees would pass through Buxar from Navadvipa to Mathura or vice versa, Srila Gurudeva would inform us by letter: "On such and such train, on such and such date, so many devotees are coming. Prepare rice, dal, kacauri, kheer, etc., and take it to them." In the summers we would try to serve the devotees as per Srila Gurudeva's instructions. By doing this service we gradually started to develop affection for Srila Gurudeva and the other devotees, and in fact a deep desire to live the life of a Vaisnava awakened in the heart.
Keeping his promise to father
In the summer of 1975 our father became quite ill and it became obvious that he would not remain with us much longer. As Srila Gurudeva had promised our father that he would be at his side in his last moments, we sent a letter to Srila Gurudeva informing him of our father's condition. But we got no reply. Then we sent a telegram and Srila Gurudeva came to the village within a short time along with two brahmacaris. As usual he stayed somewhere outside and not in the home. He remained with us for three days.
All the village came to have his darsana and the atmosphere became completely spiritual with kirtana in the morning and in the evening. He would often speak from Bhagavad Gita to our father, and advised him, "Chant harinama. If you are unable to chant loudly then keep chanting Lord Rama's name in your mind. Externally it seems like I could not serve you, but indeed I have tended to you from the spiritual viewpoint. If I have performed even a little bit of pure bhakti, then you will not have to take birth again."
The third day Srila Gurudev desired to take leave, and the entire village walked along with him. Srila Gurudeva requested everyone to return back as they reached the border of the village. When we came to the highway, we saw another few hundred people waiting there too!
In this way he left for Mathura while continuing to give instructions on bhakti to everyone non-stop. That very night father gave up his body. Srila Gurudeva had already left a clear-cut guideline to follow upon his passing away. He had said, "You perform his funeral rites, and I will do my duty – I will make sure that father reaches the top most spiritual abode."
Impartiality and staunch adherence to proper Vaisnava etiquette
Once my brother and I begged for diksa from Srila Gurudeva. He explained, "Listen, I do not give diksa initiation. My Gurudeva and many other senior Vaisnavas have bestowed the responsibility for diksa upon Srila Bhaktivedanta Vamana Maharaja. So you will have to approach him and pray for diksa." Then Srila Gurudeva gave us many instructions regarding the duties of an initiated disciple and also spoke at length about the relationship between disciple and guru. When we received the good fortune of having Srila Bhaktivedanta Vamana Maharaja's darsana, we expressed our desire to accept diska from him. He also refused to initiate us, saying, "Right from birth Bhagavan has given you the relationship as younger brother of Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja. That is why you should take diksa from him only." This discussion continued for many years. In the end Srila Gurudeva gave me harinama just seven or eight years back and instructed me to chant harinama continuously.
I had the good fortune to get Srila Gurudeva's darsana in Delhi as well as in Govardhana just before his departure from this mortal world. Externally Srila Gurudeva is not present in front of our eyes now. I have only one prayer at Srila Gurudeva's lotus feet – may I be given the opportunity to serve and associate with him life after life.
Adapted from Some Remembrances of Srila Gurudeva’s Ideal Life .
Before leaving this world, Sriman Siddhanath Tiwari Prabhu directed Sripad BV Madhusudan Maharaja, his own son Sriman Krsna-murari Tiwari Prabhu, Sriman Govinda Tiwari Prabhu and his elder brother Sriman Krsna-bihari Tiwari Prabhu, his whole family, and all village people of Tiwaripur to construct a temple in honor of Srila Gurudeva's, Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja's, worshipable deities, Sri Sacinandana Gaura Hari and Sri Sri Radha-Raman-bihariji. Sriman Siddhanath Tiwari Prabhu donated land and was helping organize the seva.
Sriman Siddhanath Tiwari Prabhu was a happy person, friendly to all, soft hearted, and simple, which are all qualities of a vaisnava. Before his departure from this world in November 2014, he came to Vraja-mandala Parikrama and met with all of Srila Gurudeva's disciples. Afterwards, he left this world very happily. Whoever comes in this world has to leave, and his leaving was glorious. Before leaving he was remembering and worshiping Sri Saci-nandana Gaura Hari and Sri Sri Radha-Krsna yugala. While leaving this world, he was very conscious, remembering his Thakurji, and chanting harinam. For over fifty years he was doing Gaura-mandala and Vraja-mandala parikrama in sadhu sanga. Whether staying or leaving this world, the benefits of bhajan and sadhu sanga were his.
Param pujyapad Sriman Siddhanath Tiwari prahbhu ki Jaya! Srila Gurudeva ki Jaya! Sri Siddhapith Tiwaripur ki Jaya!