Offerings Unto the Lotus Feet of a Vaiṣṇava



sri sri guru gauranga jayatah!

Rays of The Harmonist On-Line Edition

Special On-line Edition for the disappearance day of Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Pramoda Purī Gosvāmī Mahārāja
Posted: 20 November 2010


Dedicated to
nitya-lila pravista om visnupada

Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja


Inspired by and under the guidance of

Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja


Offerings Unto the Lotus Feet of a Vaiṣṇava

In remembrance of the transcendental life and teachings
of Śrīla Bhakti Pramoda Purī Gosvāmī Mahārāja

by Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja


pramoda

A glorification written for the auspicious occasion of
his 112th Vyāsa-pūjā celebration, 11th October 2010


~ His Appearance and His Taking Shelter of Śrī Guru

Most worshipful nitya-līlā-praviṣṭa Śrīla Bhakti Pramoda Purī Gosvāmī Mahārāja appeared in the village of Gangānandapura, in the district of Yaśohara in present day Bangladesh. His childhood name was Śrī Pramoda Bhūṣaṇa Cakravārtī. In His youth he had the good fortune to listen to recitations of the sacred literatures written by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura. In 1915, on the auspicious day of Utthānā-ekādaśī, Paramahaṁsa Śrīla Gaura Kiśora Dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja entered nitya-līlā. On that most auspicious day, Śrī Pramoda Bhūṣaṇa had the fortune of taking his first darśana of his eternally worshipful gurudeva, Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Siddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Ṭhākura, Śrīla Prabhupāda. Thereafter, in 1923, on the auspicious day of Śrī Kṛṣṇa Janmāṣṭamī, Śrī Pramoda Bhūṣaṇa completely surrendered unto the lotus feet of Śrīla Prabhupāda and accepted both harināma and mantra-dīkṣā (initiation) from him. He was given the name Śrī Praṇavānanda Brahmacārī.


~ Serving The Innermost Desire of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Heart

Śrīla Prabhupāda entrusted Śrī Praṇavānanda Brahmacārī with the responsibility of two extremely important services: mṛdaṅga (kīrtana) and bṛhad-mṛdaṅga (book publication). Under the guidance of Śrīla Prabhupāda, Śrī Praṇavānanda Brahmacārī used to lead kīrtana at many events. And at times, his kīrtana performances would even be aired on the radio. Many times when Śrīla Prabhupāda heard him sing “gopinātha! mama nivedana suno”, he would experience deep pangs of separation and wanted Śrī Praṇavānanda Brahmacārī to sing the song again and again.

Śrīla Prabhupāda Bhakti Siddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura rested the responsibility of serving the bṛhad-mṛdaṅga upon Śrīla Mahārāja (Śrīla Bhakti Pramoda Purī Gosvāmī Mahārāja). For many years Śrīla Mahārāja offered his services as the editor of the daily spiritual journal Dainika Nadiyā-Prakāśa, carrying out the orders of Śrīla Prabhupāda with steadfast dedication. Many articles of his were also published in the weekly periodical, Gauḍīya. Recognizing his genius for preaching Śrī Caitanya’s message, Śrīla Prabhupāda awarded him the titles upadeśaka (instructor) and pratna-vidyālaṅkara (exquisitely decorated with all ancient scriptural wisdom).

Even after the disappearance of Śrīla Prabhupāda, Śrīla Mahārāja served as the editor of the then monthly periodical Gauḍīya, which was published directly from Śrī Caitanya Maṭha (in Māyāpura), and for nearly forty years after that he remained the editor of the periodical Śrī Caitanya-vāṇi, which was published from Śrī Caitanya Gauḍīya Maṭha (in Kolkata).

Along with his service to the mṛdaṅga and the bṛhad-mṛdaṅga, he also had the fortune of directly serving Śrīla Prabhupāda’s transcendental body when Śrīla Prabhupāda exhibited the pastime of being ill.


~ His Service After the Disappearance of Śrīla Prabhupāda

For almost seven years after the disappearance of Śrīla Prabhupāda, Śrīla Mahārāja rendered service by accepting the responsibility of head pūjārī in the temple at Śrī Yoga-pīṭha in Śrīdhāma Māyāpura. But a number of years after that, when some disturbances arose in Śrī Caitanya Maṭha by the will of providence, Śrīla Mahārāja, seeing no other alternative, left Śrī Caitanya Maṭha with a heavy heart. My beloved gurupādapadma, Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja, established Śrī Gauḍīya Vedānta Samiti, and Śrīla Mahārāja stayed with him for some time. It was then that I had his darśana for the first time and was fortunate enough to render some service to him.


~ His Acceptance of Sannyāsa

After the disappearance of Śrīla Prabhupāda, Śrī Praṇavānanda Brahmacārī accepted sannyāsa from his Godbrother Śrīmad Bhakti Gaurava Vaikhānasa Mahārāja on the most auspicious day of Śrī Gaura-pūrṇimā, in 1947, at Śrī Gaura Gadādhara Maṭha, in the village of Śrī Campakahatta, Śrī Navadvīpa. Upon accepting sannyāsa, he received the name Śrī Bhakti Pramoda Purī Mahārāja.


~ A Life Full of Ānugatya

Śrīla Mahārāja was truly the embodiment of “tṛṇādapi sunīcena…”. He would always speak hari-kathā with perfect impartiality, keeping his eyes closed. He would profusely glorify the śrī bhāgavata-paramparā and śrī harināma. Śrīla Mahārāja lived an exemplary life, full of ānugatya (being under guidance). From the beginning of his devotional life and for many, many years after that, Śrīla Mahārāja demonstrated the ideal of living and practising devotional life while remaining completely under the guidance of his very qualified Godbrothers. Even after establishing Śrī Gopīnātha Gauḍīya Maṭha some time around 1990, he used to say, “I am not the ācārya or governor of this maṭha; rather I am an insignificant servant. Indeed Śrīla Prabhupāda and his associates are the ācārya and governors of this maṭha.”

Nowadays, most people practising devotional life find it quite difficult to genuinely accept as their superiors those who are on the same platform as they are or even those who are more advanced. However, it was seen in the exemplary life of Śrīla Mahārāja that whoever he saw as the object of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s mercy, in whomever he saw an intense desire to serve Śrīla Prabhupāda, he unconditionally bowed his head to. For instance, although Śrīla Bhakti Gaurava Vaikhānasa Mahārāja was his junior Godbrother, he still accepted him as his sannyāsa-guru. And even though Śrīla Bhakti Dayita Mādhava Gosvāmī Mahārāja took shelter of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s lotus feet much later than Śrīla Mahārāja, he nevertheless devoted almost thirty-five years of his life to fulfilling the innermost desires of Śrīla Bhakti Dayita Mādhava Gosvāmī Mahārāja by editing books and magazines for him and by contributing articles to the magazines.

Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara Gosvāmī Mahārāja was first drawn to the lotus feet of Śrīla Prabhupāda on account of regularly hearing hari-kathā in Kolkata from the divine lips of this same great personality, Śrīla Mahārāja. Yet, when the intimate associates of Śrīla Prabhupāda accepted Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara Gosvāmī Mahārāja as a highly exalted devotee, Śrīla Mahārāja did not even slightly hesitate in also accepting him as his śikṣā-guru. And even though it was Śrīla Mahārāja in fact, along with Śrīla Bhakti Hṛdaya Vana Gosvāmī Mahārāja, who first brought Śrīla Bhakti Kumuda Santa Gosvāmī Mahārāja from his home to the maṭha during his childhood, later, Śrīla Mahārāja personally used to inspire so many devotees to take shelter of Śrīla Bhakti Kumuda Santa Gosvāmī Mahārāja. It is impossible to find so much magnanimity in an ordinary person.


~ Entering Into the Eternal Pastimes of the Divine Couple

During the last days of his manifest pastimes (prakaṭa-līlā), he lived in vipralambha kṣetra, Śrī Jagannātha Purī*. It was there that by the orders of his īśvarī (the empress of Vraja, Śrīmatī Rādhikā), to enhance the beauty of Her service, Śrīla Mahārāja entered into the eternal pastimes of the Divine Couple on the eve of the autumnal rāsa-pūrṇimā of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Gopīnātha on the 21st of November, 1999.** On the autumnal rāsa-pūrṇimā of Kārtika, in the courtyard of Śrī Śrī Gopīnātha Gauḍīya Maṭha in Iśodyāna (the garden of his īśvarī), which is very close to śrī rāsa-maṇḍala – or in other words, Śrīvāsa Aṅgana in Śrīdhāma Māyāpura, which is non-different from śrī rāsa-maṇḍala in Vraja – he entered into the permanent state of complete absorption in his eternal service (samadhī).

_____________________
* The place where Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu relished the moods of Śrīmatī Rādhikā in separation from Śrī Kṛṣṇa.
** His divine body was transported from Jagannātha Purī to Śrīdhāma Māyāpura.


~ His Relationship With My Gurupādpadma

Most revered Śrīla Mahārāja had a very intimate transcendental relationship with my beloved gurudeva, nitya-līlā-praviṣṭa Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja. In 1990, for the occasion of my śrīla gurudeva’s disappearance day, Śrīla Mahārāja penned his humble expression of separation, which was published in Śrī Gauḍīya Patrikā (Year 41, Issue 4). Therein he wrote,

“Due to receiving divine guidance in the shelter of your feet and due to being affectionately blessed by both* of you, in the initial days of his maṭha life this fallen younger Godbrother of yours had the good fortune of serving the lotus feet of the most worshipful Śrīla Prabhupāda for three years. It was then that both of you made your unqualified, fallen brother full of intense enthusiasm to serve, by completely opening to him the unlimited storehouse of your affection. At that time, I had thought that I would spend my whole life in Śrīdhāma Māyāpura, serving our most worshipful Śrīla Prabhupāda, while constantly protected and guided solely by your divine affection for me.”

_____________________
* The two Godbrothers mentioned here are Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja – who was known as Śrīpāda Vinoda-biharī Brahmacārī at the time – and Śrī Narahari ‘Sevā-vigraha’ Prabhu.

From these words, it is clear that Śrīla Mahārāja spent the first three years of his devotional life in Śrīdhāma Māyāpura, and that he had deep niṣṭhā in my worshipful gurudeva. Because of that, he wrote elsewhere that Śrīpād Vinoda-biharī Brahmacārī was not just one of the exalted, renounced disciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda living in the maṭha, rather, he was the greatest of them all.*

_____________________
* From an article published in Śrī Bhāgavat Patrikā (Year 41, Issue 12)

Śrīla Mahārāja has also expressed in his article entitled “A Humble Submission – My Life Story”:

“Śrīla Prabhupāda used to address all of his disciples with āpa, the respectful form of ‘you’. But when he spoke to Paramānanda Prabhu, Vinoda-biharī Brahmacārī, Narahari ‘Sevā-vigraha’ Prabhu and Vaiṣṇava Dāsa Bābājī, he used the extremely intimate form, . It is certainly true that Vinoda-biharī Prabhu and Narahari Prabhu were the life and soul of the Māyāpura āśrama (Śrī Caitanya Maṭha). Their pleasing, lovable conduct would fill the hearts of the devotees with bliss, and that is why they were objects of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s boundless affection. I think that throughout my entire life I have never received such guileless affection from anyone as I have received from these two Godbrothers.”


~ Accepting Rūpānugatya, Following in the Footsteps of Śrīla Prabhupāda

Under the guidance of Śrīla Prabhupāda and his internal associates, and in their association, the path that Śrīla Bhakti Pramoda Purī Gosvāmī Mahārāja traversed to achieve perfection in following the footsteps of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī (rūpānugatya) – he who fulfilled the innermost desire of Śrīman Mahaprabhu’s heart – is truly evident in the internal emotions he has expressed through his writings.

For example, in the preface to the edition of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta published by Śrī Caitanya Gauḍīya Maṭha, Śrīla Mahārāja has explicitly stated:

“In Śrī Rāya Rāmānanda Saṁvāda, the love experienced by Śrīmatī Rādhikā is recognized as the crest-jewel of perfection (sādhya-śiromaṇi). But when Śrī Rāya Rāmānanda further explained about prema-vilāsa-vivārta – the aspect of love in which the experience of actual meeting occurs even at the time of separation, by virtue of adhiruḍha-bhāva* – Śrīman Mahāprabhu accepted that form of love as the highest limit of perfection. Subservience (ānugatya) to the sakhīs is the only way to achieve the sādhya-vastu, the ultimate objective of life.

_____________________
* Adhiruḍha-bhāva is the final limit of mahābhāva, which is the very essence of Kṛṣṇa’s pleasure-giving potency. Adhiruḍha-bhāva is characterized by the feeling that each moment is like a day of Brahmā when one is separated from Kṛṣṇa and that a day of Brahmā is like a moment when one is meeting with Him.

nijendriya-sukha-vāñchā nāhi gopikāra
kṛṣṇe sukha dite kare saṅgama-vihāra

sei gopī-bhāvāmṛte yāṅra lobha haya
veda-dharma-tyaji’ se kṛṣṇe bhajaya

rāgānuga-mārge tāṅre bhaje yei jana
sei-jana pāya vraje vrajendra-nandana

Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā 8.217, 219–220)

There is no desire for personal enjoyment in the heart of any gopī. They meet with Kṛṣṇa and joyfully play with Him only to give Him happiness.

Whoever develops greed for the ambrosia of love of God tasted by these gopīs abandons the religious duties prescribed in the Vedas in order to render perfect loving service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa.

And he who worships Kṛṣṇa on the path of spontaneous love (rāgānuga-mārga) attains Vrajendra-nandana in Vraja.

“Therefore, one cannot earn the qualification to perform vraja-bhajana (perfected internal service in the mood of the residents of Vraja) if there is even a trace of desire for the pleasure of gratifying one’s own senses. It is a fact that, “vidhi-bhaktye vraja-bhāva pāite nāhi sakti – devotion governed by the regulative principles (vaidhi-bhakti) has no power to grant vraja-bhakti” (Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 3.15). And since rāga-bhakti is so difficult to attain, it has been explained that, “nāma-saṅkīrtanaثalau parama upāya – in this age of Kali, nāma-saṅkīrtana (chanting of the holy names) is the ultimate limb of bhakti” (Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya-līlā 20.8). When someone is able to chant harināma without offences, then harināma alone mercifully bestows upon him the qualification to enter into rāga-bhajana. Merely displaying that one has acquired the qualification to perform rāga-bhajana without taking complete shelter of the holy name is nothing more than impertinence. It never leads to favourable results.”

Śrīla Mahārāja has also stated in an article entitled “Śrī Śrī Rādhāṣṭamī”* published in Śrī Caitanya Vāṇī,

_____________________
* Published in English in Rays of The Harmonist, No.14, Kārtika, 2004.

“With such a vast depth of emotion, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī, Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī and other Gosvāmīs have lovingly sung the glories of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. Śrī Prabodhānanda Sarasvatīpāda has relished the nectar of Her glories in such an unprecedented and astonishing way in his Śrī Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi. And the way Śrī Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has composed Sva-niyamāṣṭaka and other prayers gloriously demonstrates his intense longing to attain śrī rādhā-dāsyam, the role of a maidservant of Śrī Rādhā.

“This same mood is also found in the writings of the most worshipful Śrī Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Prabhupāda. It is found in his Anubhāṣya commentary on Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta and in his Anuvṛtti on Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī’s Śrī Upadeśāmṛta. It is found in his poetic translations of Śrī Bhramara-gītā, Śrī Mahiṣī-gītā and the ten states of divyonmāda that Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī described in Śrī Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi. And it is found in the maṅgalācaraṇa, or auspicious invocation, of his Prārthanā-rasa-vivṛti commentary on Śrīla Narottama Ṭhākura Mahāśaya’s Prārthanā and in the maṅgalācaraṇa of his Gauḍīya-bhāsya commentary on Śrī Caitanya-bhāgavata. The goal of our constant endeavour is to imbibe these wonderful expressions of yearning for śrī rādhā-dāsyam.

“The day when my most revered spiritual master, Śrīla Prabhupāda, first met his spiritual master, oṁ viṣṇupāda Śrī Śrīla Gaura-kiśora Prabhu, he saw him walking towards Śrī Svānanda-sukhada-kuñja. His appearance was that of an avadhūta* and he was singing one particular song over and over. Śrīla Prabhupāda wrote that song down with his own hand and kept it with him, regarding it as the dear-most treasure of his bhajana. As the servants of the servants of Śrīla Prabhupāda, our sole objective is to seek out that secret treasure. The Six Gosvāmīs have demonstrated the ideal of weeping in profound anxiety as they wandered throughout Vraja, crying “hā rādhe! hā rādhe!” In performing bhajana, our sole asset is our unpretentious cries to attain the undisguised mercy of the embodiment of mercy Herself, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. There is no other means to attain this treasure of devotion than by the causeless mercy of śrī gurudeva. The song of devotion that Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja used to sing goes like this:

_____________________
* Monier Williams Sanskrit dictionary defines an avadhūta as ‘one who has shaken off from himself worldly feeling and obligation’.

kothāya go premamayī, rādhe rādhe
rādhe rādhe go, jaya rādhe rādhe

Only when I sincerely offer my life and soul to attain this extremely valuable treasure, feeling true anxiety and deep yearning for it, shall I understand that Śrī Gurudeva has genuinely accepted me. Oh, when will such good fortune arise for me! The number of days of my life is almost exhausted!

So many examples such as these can be given, but for now, to prevent this offering from becoming too lengthy, I have only presented these two.


~ The Causeless Mercy My Śrīla Gurudeva and
Other Disciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda Bestowed Upon Me

In 1954 my most worshipful spiritual master, nitya-līlā praviṣṭa Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja, established Śrī Keśavajī Gauḍīya Maṭha in Mathurā and entrusted me with the complete responsibility of caring for the maṭha, from that time on. Because of this causeless mercy from Śrīla Gurudeva, I had the great fortune of serving and associating with most of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s intimate disciples. Whenever they would come to Vraja, they would unfailingly visit Śrī Keśavajī Gauḍīya Maṭha, since the only inter-city bus and railway stations in Vraja are both located in Mathurā. Śrīla Bhakti Pramoda Purī Gosvāmī Mahārāja also came and stayed in Mathurā Maṭha many times. Moreover, on many occasions like Śrī Navadvīpa-dhāma Parikramā, various special festivals, deity installations and so on, I received the association of Śrīla Mahārāja. In this way, I had the great fortune to hear about the precious treasure of bhajana that I mentioned before, directly from the lips of the associates of Śrīla Prabhupāda, and to store the glory of this precious treasure in the core of my heart by virtue of rendering service to them and receiving their mercy.

To prevent this extremely rare treasure of rupānuga-bhajana from disappearing from this world with the passage of time, and to prevent the conditioned souls from being deprived of it forever, wherever I travel in my service of preaching, I provide aspiring devotees clear insights, in line with the current of thought of our rūpānuga guru-varga; insights about śrī guru and śrī guru-paramparā; about the message of Śrī Rūpa-Ragunātha and the teachings of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta; about the profound purpose of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s advent and the speciality of His contributions to the world; about the glory of śrī harināma-saṅkīrtana; about chanting without making offences; and insights into the glories of vraja-bhakti, the transcendental love of Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, and the sādhya (ultimate goal) and sādhana (process) of devotional service. In truth, my śrīla gurudeva along with Śrīla Bhakti Pramoda Purī Gosvāmī Mahārāja and the other associates of Śrīla Prabhupāda are the inspirational source of every insight I have. I am simply an insignificant servant of my beloved gurudeva, nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja and of the other intimate followers of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda, totally dependent upon the spiritual inheritance they have left for me. Besides this, I do not have any independent existence or identity.

On the auspicious occasion of the appearance day of Śrīla Bhakti Pramoda Purī Gosvāmī Mahārāja, I offer my daṇḍavat praṇāmas unto the lotus feet of my śrīla gurudeva, nitya-līlā praviṣṭa Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja and unto the lotus feet of Śrīla Mahārāja, and I beg for their causeless mercy so that by following in their footsteps I may attain the qualification to engage in fulfilling the innermost desire of their hearts (mano’bhīṣṭa-sevā) – that is, to practice and preach that most precious treasure of bhajana, more and more.

Praying for a particle of the mercy of Śrī Hari, Guru and Vaiṣṇavas,
Śrī Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa


(Originally written in Hindi)
Translated from Śrī Śrī Bhāgavat Patrikā, Year 7, issues 8–9
by the Rays of The Harmonist team in collaboration with
the producers of Bhagavata Dharma (the magazine of Śrī Gopīnātha Gauḍīya Maṭha)


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