Srila Gaur Kishor Das Babaji Maharaj was the crown jewel of the paramahamsa Vaishnavas. After giving initiation to his disciple, nitya-lila-pravia parivrjakcrya-varya, Prabhupada Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur, the founder-acharya of the worldwide Sri Brahma Madhva Gaudiya Saraswata Sampradaya, he gave him two significant instructions that strike me as quite astonishing. The first of these was to never make disciples, the second was to never live in the land of Maya.
It is said that one should carry out the orders of the spiritual master without question (j gur hy avicray). We believe that our parama-guru-pada-padma (grand spiritual master) Srila Prabhupada respectfully took these orders into his heart and carried them out. Even so, to a person of lesser intelligence like myself, it might appear that when Srila Prabhupada began building maths and mandirs all over India and taking thousands of disciples, he disobeyed his spiritual master's order. Thus, the doubt arises, Is it possible that Srila Prabhupada, the founder-acharya of the Sri Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya-Saraswata-Sampradaya, and those who accepted the shelter of his lotus-feet were all unable to carry out the wishes of Srila Gaura Kishor Das Babaji Maharaj?
By my Guru Maharaj's divine grace, I quickly found the answer to this question in my heart, and it was an emphatic No! The understanding I received was that all these spiritual guides were able to do the needful in order to carry out Srila Babaji Maharaj's instructions.
Srila Gaura Kishor Das Babaji Maharaj used to call Kolkata (formerly written as Calcutta) klra brahma, or the goddess Kali's universe. In other words, he considered it to be Maya's capital city and an evil, polluted place, unconducive to spiritual life.
On one occasion, Babaji Maharaj came to Svananda Sukhada Kunj, Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur's home in Godrumdwip, while Srila Prabhupada was also visiting there. At the time, Babaji Maharaj was exhibiting his pastime of being physically unwell. Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur suggested to him that he go to Kolkata for medical treatment, saying, Bimala Prasad [Srila Prabhupada] is staying in Kolkata these days for his studies. If you go there, he will have an opportunity to serve his Gurudeva.
As soon as Srila Babaji Maharaj heard this suggestion, he immediately said, I will never accept service from Prabhu (Srila Prabhupada). I would rather die by drowning myself. If I drown in the Ganges, I will probably have to become a ghost, so I will jump into the Saraswati instead. Having said this, he began to run towards the Saraswati or Jalangi River, which flows in front of Svananda Sukhada Kunj.
Srila Prabhupada ran behind his spiritual master, earnestly imploring him to stop, but he did not. Instead he jumped into the river and disappeared. For forty-five days, there was no trace of Babaji Maharaj. Then one day, suddenly he appeared out of nowhere and said, One cannot get Krishna by committing suicide or leaving this material body; but I cannot tolerate anyone serving me.
Here we see Babaji Maharaj's noble example, he personally wished neither to go to live in Kolkata, nor even to accept the service of his one dear disciple, Saraswati Thakur. In contrast to this, what are we doing nowadays in our temples? Exactly the opposite. We are obsessed with becoming guru and receiving worship and personal services from our disciples. We have begun criticising, fighting and quarreling with each other, polluting the whole environment. Under such circumstances, O Prabhupada, it is my earnest prayer at your holy lotus feet that you please protect us from such sickening, evil influences and bestow your special grace on us that we, the devotees of Sri Saraswata Gaudiya Vaishnava Sangha, may be able to stay sincerely engaged in your eternal pure service, united together under your divine shelter, thereby carrying out your last instruction and fulfilling your final desire.
Some time after the above incident, Srila Prabhupada began his preaching mission and established the Bhaktivinoda Asan in Kolkata. Yet, though Srila Babaji Maharaj had called Kolkata the capital of Kali [Maya], Srila Prabhupada announced with all clarity, I am not living in the world of Kali or Maya. Though he took many disciples, he also often said, I have not made anyone my disciple. Through these examples, Srila Prabhupada educated us in Saranagati, or devotional surrender.
The demon Hiranyakashipu used every means possible to kill his son Prahlad Maharaj because he was a pure devotee of Vishnu. Even so, due to Prahlad's pure surrender or dedication to the Supreme Lord, all of Hiranyakashipu's military might was unable to touch even the tips of his toenails. We know that Prahlad Maharaj always meditated on the Lord, as a result of which the Supreme Lord gave him all protection. Similarly, because of their bonafide dedication to the lotus feet of the Guru, the Vaishnavas and Bhagavan, Srila Prabhupada and the disciples who accepted his divine shelter were fully protected from the influence of Kali, so much so that Kali was unable to touch even the tips of their toenails.
Seeing so many temples and disciples in Kolkata, men of materialistic vision like me may think that nobody is actually following Srila Babaji Maharaj's two extraordinary injunctions. I personally witnessed, however, the beautiful way in which my own Guru Maharaj, nitya-lila-pravia Om Vishnupad Srila Bhakti Promode Puri Goswami Maharaj, carried them out. Srila Guru Maharaj was so imbued with natural Vaishnava humility that whenever we paid obeisances to him, he would feel so shy and uneasy that he would immediately transfer this honor to Srila Prabhupada with folded palms. He was the embodiment of dedication to Srila Prabhupad, teaching us by his example how we are to render devotional service. Thus, even while staying in Kolkata, my Guru Maharaj remained fully dedicated to his spiritual master and never showed any interest in the temptations of the city. Srila Prabhupada was his life and soul, just as Srila Gaur Kishor Das Babaji Maharaj was Prabhupada's life and soul.
Srila Prabhupada was fully dedicated to his gurudeva, Srila Gaur Kishor Das Babaji Maharaj, and he engaged everyone in his guru's devotional service. Thus, by his power of devotion to Sri Guru, despite staying in apparent touch with the material elements, he was actually far away and fully detached from them. At the same time, by utilizing them in the service of Lord, he blessed those same temporary material elements with the highest benediction. Therefore, in spite of staying in Kolkata, Srila Prabhupada never felt that he was there for the sake of material enjoyment or achievement. Rather, being guru-devatm, totally devoted to Sri Guru, he always remained in the company of Sri Guru and the Vaishnavas and blessed the residents of Kolkata with Hari bhakti, guiding them towards the eternal divine goal of life.
Being merciful to one and all, he taught everyone about pure devotional service to the Supreme Lord and never thought for a moment that those who were dedicating themselves to Lord's service under his direction were his disciples. Rather, he would say of those great souls, They are my true friends who have come to save me from danger. Therefore, they are all my gurus. This is something that can only be realized when we reach the level of a topmost or uttama-adhikari Vaishnava. One cannot be guru-devatm, or non-different from the Guru, unless he becomes genuinely dedicated to Sri Guru and Vaishnavas - and unless one is guru-devatm, he cannot practice pure devotion to Lord. Again, without practicing pure devotion, one cannot render genuine service to Lord; and furthermore, without such service, one can never become Lord's eternal servitor. This is what Srila Prabhupada, who is Nayanamani Manjari in Vraja-lila, taught at every step of his life and precepts.
O Srila Prabhupada! Today, on the 129th festival marking the day of your advent, it is this fallen servitor's humble prayer at your lotus feet that under today's adverse circumstances, by educating us in your exalted spiritual ideals, kindly protect us from the clutches of those that are spoiling your teachings by misrepresenting and compromising your pure message in the name of preaching according to time, place and situation. Your precept is: We have not come to this world to be bricklayers or carpenters; we have simply come to be Lord Chaitanya's menial servants. With this remark, you actually pointed your finger towards the future generation's-our generation's-making a great show of external grandeur in big temples, natya mandirs, and guest houses, all of which are being built by spending the huge amounts of money collected from people by cheating in the name of service of Supreme Lord and His devotees. As a result, more or less all the temple organizations are gradually being converted into mundane hotels where there is plenty of arrangement for individual and collective sense-gratification under the pretext of practicing pure devotion.
Instead of following your gracious guidance and doing devoted tmavat sev of the temple deities, the kind of service going on in almost every temple is nothing more than the service of Maya for individual or collective sense-gratification. Thus, the evil influence of Kali slowly deviates us from the shelter of your transcendental principles and, in the name of propagation suitable to people of the modern age, is simply turning us into the bricklayers or carpenters you warned us not to become.
Again this humble servant of yourself prays to your Divine Grace in this auspicious occasion- O most magnanimous Prabhu, mercifully protect us from destructive jaws of Kali and engage us in the eternal service of eternal Divine Couple, Sri Sri Radha-Govinda of transcendental Goloka Vrindavan, the ultimate goal of human life.
A few persons in the spiritual world may dislike my above realizations of Srila Prabhupada's philosophy, but it is my humble request to the readers not to be displeased with me, but to please try to understand the spirit of my message. Basing yourselves in truth and reality, please keep me tied with the rope of your mercy and help me always to practice pure devotion to the divine Lord Krishna.
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