A Glimpse of the Life of
nitya-līlā-praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda
Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja
a disciple of
Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja,
one of the foremost disciples of
Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Prabhupāda
On February 7, the new moon day of the month of Māgha, 1921, Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja took his divine birth in a highly educated and respected brāhmaṇa family in the village of Tiwārīpura, in the Buxar district of Bihar, India. He was given the name Śrīman Nārāyaṇa. His parents were devout Vaiṣṇavas of the Śrī sampradāya, and from the time he was a small baby, Śrīman Nārāyaṇa’s father regularly took him to recitations of the Rāmāyaṇa, which he loved. His devotional nature was evident even in his childhood.1
In 1945, a disciple of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura named Śrīla Narottamānanda Brahmacārī was touring and preaching the message of Śrī Caitanyadeva in the Tewārīpura area. Śrīman Nārāyaṇa became convinced of the pristine philosophy of the ācāryas in the line of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhupāda, and in 1946, he travelled to Śrī Navadvīpa-dhāma, West Bengal, where he met Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja2. He received harināma and dikṣā initiation from him and was given the name Śrī Gaura Nārāyaṇa. He accompanied his gurudeva on his extensive preaching tours throughout India, rendering him personal service and also actively assisting him in preaching. This included regularly hosting the thousands of pilgrims attending the yearly Navadvīpa-dhāma parikramā and Vraja-maṇḍala parikramā, which, years later, would draw thousands of devotees the world over.
Because Śrī Gaura Nārāyaṇa was always serving Vaiṣṇavas in a very pleasing manner, his Gurudeva awarded him with the title Bhakta-bandhava, meaning “close friend of the devotees”.
Śrī Gaura Nārāyaṇa’s respectful and affectionate dealings with his two Godbrothers, Śrī Sajjana-sevaka Brahmacārī3 and Śrī Rādhānātha dāsa4 were exemplary. These three stalwart Vaiṣṇavas of the highest caliber assumed responsibility for their gurudeva’s mission in a mood of harmony and cooperation that lasted the duration of their lives. In 1952, Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja awarded all three of them sannyāsa. Śrī Gaura Nārāyaṇa became Śrī Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja, Śrī Sajjana-sevaka Brahmacārī became Śrī Bhaktivedānta Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja, and Śrī Rādhānātha dāsa became Śrī Bhaktivedānta Trivikrama Gosvāmī Mahārāja.
In 1954 Śrīla Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja gave Śrī Gaura Nārāyaṇa responsibility for the newly opened temple Śrī Keśavajī Gauḍīya Matha in Mathurā. The maṭha flourished, as the local residents of Vraja came to experience the consummate care of one who is truly an eternal resident of Vraja. For the next fourteen years, Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja spent part of the year in Mathurā and the other part in Bengal. For faithful devotees throughout India and later the entire world, he organized an annual Kārtika Vraja-maṇḍala parikramā until 2010. By his mercy, these parikramās are still taking place annually.
In 1968 Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja entered the eternal pastimes of Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, and Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja performed all the necessary rituals for his samādhi ceremony.
Śrīla Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja appointed him Vice-President of his institution, Śrī Gauḍīya Vedānta Samiti, and Editor-in-Chief of his Hindi publications and the monthly magazine Śrī Bhagavata–patrikā5. He had also instructed him to translate the writings of prominent Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas into Hindi, a task he assiduously assumed throughout his entire life and which resulted in the publication of more than fifty Hindi texts.6 These invaluable masterpieces are currently being translated into the major languages of the world. His illuminating Hindi, Bengali and English discourses were recorded and are gradually being transcribed or translated for publication.
A significant relationship in the life of Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja was with Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja Prabhupāda7, the world-famous preacher of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism and Founder-Ācārya of the International Society for Kṛṣṇa Consciousness. They first met in Calcutta in 1948 on the occasion of the inauguration of a new branch of the Gauḍīya Vedānta Samiti. Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja received sannyāsa from Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja in 1959. Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja later rendered superlative service to Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Prabhupāda by nurturing the tender seeds of bhakti in the hearts of so many of his dear disciples and followers around the globe.
Since Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja’s heart brimmed with the most profound realizations of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes, which automatically include all tattva-siddhānta, it was radiant with the deepest affection. Those who heard his hari-kathā felt supreme protection from the onslaught of material miseries and experienced a deeper commitment to the path of bhakti. When he uttered the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra at the time of initiation, it bore the same effect. He was famous throughout Vraja-maṇḍala and the entire world for how he transformed people’s hearts in these ways.
For more than half a century, Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja demonstrated and exemplified the pure, unadulterated life of utter dedication and loving service to his Gurudeva, Śrīman Mahāprabhu, and the Divine Couple, Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa.
For many years, he travelled throughout India to spread the message of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism. In the mid 1980’s, the first Western devotees came to receive his guidance, and in 1996, at their repeated request, he went to Europe and America. During the next fourteen years, he circled the globe more than thirty times. Whether he was in India or abroad, his preaching always bore the distinctive characteristic of clarifying the specific purposes of Śrīman Mahāprabhu’s advent, in strict adherence with the desire of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda8 and in perfect congruence with the conceptions of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī. Thus, in upholding the glorious tenets of the sampradāya, he performed the function of a true ācārya.
A most endearing hallmark of his preaching was the heart-stealing affection he showed to all. As an uttama-bhāgavata, he entered the deepest recesses of the heart to give the unmistakable reassurance that he is one's eternal well-wisher. The depth of his affection is a tangible reality for all who have experienced it, and this in itself bears subjective testimony to the fact that he was a true emissary of the Supreme Lord. As thousands of devotees will affirm, his genuine interest in the spiritual well-being of all souls was evident in his equal love and affection for all. He cared not if a person were his disciple, the disciple of another, or of another philosophical school altogether. His divine affection knew no bounds.
At the age of ninety years, on December 29, 2010, at 3:00 a.m., at Cakra-tīrtha, Śrī Jagannātha Purī-dhāma, Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja concluded his pastimes in this world. That day was the sacred appearance day of his beloved Godbrother, nitya-līlā-praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja. The following day, in Śrī Navadvīpa-dhāma, Śrī Gaurasundara’s fully empowered emissary, the very embodiment of His unique compassion, was given samādhi. He will never cease to reside in his divine instructions and in the hearts of those who are devoted to him. He used to say, "Do not think that I will ever leave you – never, ever – I am always with you."
In a mood of insignificance and longing for his mercy we fall at his lotus feet and pray that he blesses us in our attempts to always be able to render him some service.
For further information please see following references and lectures:
1 A brief autobiography: http://www.purebhakti.com/resources/ebooks-magazines/bhakti-books/english/573-impressions-of-bhakti
8 Refer to “Raising the Divine Temple of the Bhāgavat”: http://www.purebhakti.com/resources/ebooks-magazines/harmonist-magazine/75-rays-of-the-harmonist-no-17-karttika-2007-govinda-devah-saranam-mamastu
Below you will find a collection of Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja's lectures through out the years.