sri sri guru gauranga jayatah!
Issue 25, Fortnightly Centennial Edition
Posted: 19 October 2022
In honour of the centennial appearance year of
nitya-līlā-praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda
Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Vāmana Gosvāmī Māhārāja
Dedicated to and Inspired by
nitya-līlā-praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda
Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Māhārāja
Remembrances of Śrīla Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja – Part 3
by Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Vāmana Gosvāmī Māhārāja
Appearing in English for the first time
“You have only one parama-gurudeva, not two”
Once, I asked Guru Mahārāja – Śrīla Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja – “Guru Mahārāja, we [your disciples] have two parama-gurudevas, don’t we?”
He was surprised to hear this: “Two parama-gurudevas!” he exclaimed. “Tell me, who?”
With some hesitation I said, “One is Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja [your dīkṣā-guru] and the second is Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda [your harināma guru].”
I had a keen desire in my heart to also call Śrīla Prabhupāda parama-gurudeva, because it was from him that my Guru Mahārāja had received harināma. Ah! If I could call Śrīla Prabhupāda parama-gurudeva, it would be a matter of great pride. At least from the perspective of what took place, I could certainly call him that, but what if Guru Mahārāja didn’t permit us to do so? Then my doing so would be disastrous. That was my fear. I contemplated this in that manner and eventually raised this concern to Guru Mahārāja.
Guru Mahārāja immediately understood my mood. In a peaceful manner, he replied. “You all have only one parama-gurudeva, not two. Simply because of one incident, you are thinking like that, but that alone is not sufficient. Śrīla Prabhupāda cannot be your parama-gurudeva because I cannot seat him on the āsana of being my guru- pādapadma. My guru-pādapadma is Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja and his guru-pādapadma is Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda. That is it. There is nothing more than that. Once, I clearly expressed this very matter to my guru mahārāja [Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja].”
Saying this Guru Mahārāja narrated an incident from his own life:
“It happened when our press [Gouranga Printing Works] shifted from Kolkata to Śrī Uddhāraṇa Gauḍīya Maṭha, in Chũchurā. One day I was working at a desk, absorbed in preparing an article for printing. Nearby, Guru Mahārāja was resting on his easy chair. There was no one else present. Suddenly, I heard Guru Mahārāja say, ‘O guru-bhāi!’
“Hearing this, I wondered, ‘Let me see which of Guru Mahārāja’s guru-bhāi (god-brother) he is calling for. I will first call for him and then resume my work.’ Thinking like this I asked Guru Mahārāja, ‘Who has come, Gurudeva? Who are you calling?’
“ ‘No one else is here,” he said, “I am calling you.’
“Surprised, I asked, ‘Am I your guru-bhāi?!’
“ ‘Why not?” he replied. “You have received harināma from Prabhupāda, so you are indeed Prabhupāda’s disciple.’
“Hearing these words deeply pained me. I said, ‘It may be that I have received harināma from Prabhupāda, but I am not his disciple. You are the disciple of Prabhupāda and I am your disciple. I have never thought of myself as one sheltered by Prabhupāda. You alone are my shelter, and I trust this much only. Now you are calling me guru-bhāi. Does that mean I am not your sheltered one (āśrita)? If so, I have become shelterless. I have seen in an article by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura that mantra-dīkṣā-guru is actually śrī nāma-guru. Therefore, you alone are my nāma-guru, and I am your disciple in every respect. You have called me your guru-bhāi. Do you now want to push me away from being under your shelter? O Gurudeva, these words have greatly pained me.’ I put my head down on the table, between my two arms, and started weeping.
“At that time, Gurudeva stood up from his easy chair and came over to me. Stroking my head with his hand, he said, ‘I was simply joking with you. You are indeed my disciple. All right, I will never again call you guru-bhāi. You are not the disciple of Prabhupāda; you are indeed my disciple, my sheltered one. Don’t be disheartened anymore.’
Then my Guru Mahārāja [Śrīla Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja] said to me, “I hope you understand why I have told you of this incident. You all do not have two parama-gurudevas, only one, and he is jagad-guru Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja.”
In this way, Guru Mahārāja declared his firm siddhānta.
Hearing this I was astonished. What amazing guru-niṣṭhā Guru Mahārāja has! He never mentioned his receiving harināma from Śrīla Prabhupāda in an assembly or before any individual. Considering himself a disciple of Śrīla Prabhupāda would have put him on the same level as Śrīla Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja, and he never maintained such an identity (abhimāna).
I think that Parama-gurudeva’s joke with Guru Mahārāja, was actually not a joke but a test. Param-gurudeva wanted to see Guru Mahārāja’s inner steadfastness (antara-niṣṭhā).
Guru Mahārāja had received harināma from Śrīla Prabhupāda, and therefore he is disciple of Śrīla Prabhupāda. Was it appropriate or not for Parama-gurudeva [Śrīla Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja] to consider Śrīla Prabhupāda’s disciple his own, simply because he had given Guru Mahārāja dīkṣā-mantras? To test him, he playfully addressed Guru Mahārāja as guru-bhāi. By this, he saw evidence of Guru Mahārāja’s inner steadfastness and that his ‘Sajjana-sevaka’ is one hundred percent his disciple. Therefore, without a doubt, Guru Mahārāja’s has one gurudeva, not two.
[Memory by Śrīpāda B. V. Tapasvi Mahārāja, a disciple of Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja.]
Vehicle number 11 is sufficient
I used to become enchanted with Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja’s way of thinking and the conclusions he came to. With his every act, I gained a new perspective.
Once, in the Gauḍīya Vedānta Samiti’s Śrī Vinoda-bihārī Gauḍīya Maṭha in Halder Bagan Lane, Kolkata, a rich devotee came to give Śrīla Mahārāja an Ambassador car [popular in India at that time] and put the key to the car in Śrīla Mahārāja’s hand. Śrīla Mahārāja heard what the man had to say, smiled, and returned the key. “I have no need for a car for preaching,” he said, “because for that purpose, my vehicle number 11 (my two legs) suffices. After that, I can travel by train or bus. Why get entangled in everything that accompanies having a car? I will have to keep a driver, fill it with oil and deal with several other such troubles. Then, after seeing me with a car, everyone will make a practice to also have one. We’ll thus be faced with an even bigger problem.”
Truly, it is seen in the lives of the niṣkiñcana guru and Vaiṣṇavas that they never complain about any lacking, nor do they expect anything from anyone.
[Memory by Śrīpāda Śyāma dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, a dīkṣā disciple of Śrīla Bhakti Pramoda Purī Gosvāmī Mahārāja and a śikṣā disciple of Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja.]
“From when is Dīpāvalī”
In his harikathā on 27 October, 1999, Śrīla Guru Mahārāja – Śrīla Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja – said, “The festival of Dīpāvalī begins from Kṛṣṇa Trayodaśī (the thirteenth day of the waning moon) of Kārtika month and lasts for four days – Trayodaśī, Caturdaśī, Amāvasyā and Pratipada [Annakuṭa Day]. On the day of Trayodaśī, there is Yama-dīpa-dāna [Yama–one of the mahājanas]. Outside the gate, one should place fourteen (7+7) dīpas (lamps) for the son and daughter of Sūrya (Sun), Yama and Yamunā.
[Regarding Yama-dīpa-dāna, it is stated in Śrī Hari-bhakti-vilāsa (16.211–212):
According to Padma Purāṇa – On the evening of the Kṛṣṇa Trayodaśī (the thirteenth day of the waning moon) of Kārtika month, by offering a dīpa (lamp) for the purpose of Yama outside the house, one is freed from the dismay of an untimely death.
By offering a dīpa on Trayodaśī, may Kāla (Yama, or death personified), the son of Sūrya, along with binding rope, chastisement rod, and Śyamalā (his wife), be pleased with me.]
[Memory by Śrī Navadvīpa dāsa Brahmacārī, a disciple of Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja]
Translated by the Rays of The Harmonist team
from Śrī Śrī Bhāgavata Pātrikā, Year-18, Issue 10-12
Śrīla Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja Centennial Special Edition- 2