The Glories Of HDG Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj

by Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaj

Boston Common, Boston, Massachusetts: 23 August 2002

Why has Sanjaya das Prabhu suddenly brought us to this place? Is there anything that can occur spontaneously or are events such as this preordained? Our Most Revered Parampujyapada Parivajakacharya Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj came to this place and started kirtan. In his remembrance, we are performing kirtan here, so that he will be satisfied. The ultimate goal should be the satisfaction of Sri Krishna. Krishna bestowed so much grace upon Srila Swami Maharaj. Our Paramgurudeva Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur, the Absolute Counterpart of the Supreme Lord, was the founder of Sri Gaudiya Math and Sri Chaitanya Math. It was he, who, as the spiritual master of Paramapujyapad Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj, imparted to him the power to preach all over the world.

Srila Swami Maharaj started on his life's mission by praying for the grace of Supreme Lord Sri Krishna and His personal associates. We have heard that he came alone, with no assistance from others. His Gurudeva had given him the order to spread the all-embracing, all-accommodating divine knowledge and love of God throughout the world. He travelled from India with great difficulty and eventually disembarked in Boston. I have heard that he came by ship and that this was the first place he came to in the USA. Today is the day when Swami Maharaj left India for the USA. This is a very important day! HDG Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaj leads a nagar sankirtan procession.I have a connection with him. We may say that this is accidental but actually everything is preordained. Nothing occurs by chance.

When I was in Vrindavan at Sri Chaitanya Gaudiya Math with my revered Gurudeva Parampujyapada Srila Bhakti Dayita Madhava Goswami Maharaj, we heard that a godbrother of our Gurudeva, Parampujyapada Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj, was staying at the Sri Sri Radha-Damodar temple. As he was a godbrother of our Gurudeva and a disciple of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur, he was naturally the object of great regard and reverence. Thinking, "I shall go there and pay my obeisances to him," I made my way to the Sri Sri Radha-Damodar temple. Upon meeting him, I offered my humble obeisances and he then began to speak. Showing me his writings, he said, "I want to publish a monthly magazine, Back to Godhead. Please go through my writings." The printing, by Vrindavan Press, was very indistinct. Because it was his order, I tried to go through it. When I had gone through the text he had given me, he said, "I have written other articles. You should also go through those." He did not mention at that time that he had the desire to go to foreign countries to preach. The only thing that he said was that I should go through his writings. After that I prayed out loud to him, "Will you not come to our Math? Our Gurudeva is there. Please come and see him." He immediately agreed, saying, "Yes, I will come tomorrow to see your Gurudeva."

The very next day he came to our Math and entered the room of our Gurumaharaj. I remained outside during the discussion of these two godbrothers. Only Swami Maharaj and our Gurudeva were there. Neither I nor anyone else knows what subject they might have been discussing. Swami Maharaj came out of the room after about half an hour or so to go back to his temple. At the gate of our Math, he suddenly called me and said, "You see, I have the desire to go outside India to spread the message of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Will you accompany me? Will you go with me?" Because at that time I was the Secretary of Sri Chaitanya Gaudiya Math institution and had been given enormous responsibilities by our Gurudeva, I remained silent. Swami Maharaj is guru---shiksha guru---and our guru is also guru---diksha guru---what could I say? Therefore, I remained silent. Finally I said that I was the Secretary of that institution and that Gurudeva had given me many responsibilities. With urgent work to do, how could I leave at that time? He was disappointed as he could not find anyone to assist him.

Ultimately, he came to the west alone. He came to this place first. He traveled by ship, not by air, and he disembarked here. He performed kirtan here by the grace of the Supreme Lord. The Supreme Lord can do anything. Nothing is impossible for him. If we have straight-forwardness and sincerity of heart then the Supreme Lord will fulfill our desires. We should perform kirtan with straight-forwardness of heart and sincere belief. Srila Swami Maharaj performed kirtan alone here. Do you think that it is possible to do this alone---to propagate the message of divine love alone throughout the world? How is such a thing possible? It is possible only by God's grace! We should think about this! We should not worry whether or not many persons are coming to assist.

When our Paramgurudeva Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur wanted to take initiation from Srila Gaura Kishore das Babaji Maharaj, Babaji Maharaj said, "I have made up my mind. I shall not take on any disciples. If I accept you as my disciple then I shall have to give consideration to you. This will distract me from my worship. I cannot assume the responsibility." Our revered Paramgurudeva would come and pray for the grace of Babaji Maharaj repeatedly but was refused every time. Acting as though he were a person exhibiting a sort of mundane vanity or pride, Srila Gaura Kishore das Babaji Maharaj would tell Paramgurudeva that there are many gurus, so why bother to make repeated supplications to him? He should go to some other person. However, our Paramgurudeva remained firm in his resolve. Repeatedly he would come, about fourteen times in all. Finally, Babaji Maharaj said to him, "I will ask Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. If he so orders, then I shall give you mantra."

After some days had passed, our Paramgurudeva again prayed, "Will you please ask Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu on my behalf?" Gaur Kishore das Babaji Maharaj replied, "Oh, I have forgotten about it." When we become bewildered we lose our faith and cannot progress, but our Paramgurudeva remained undeterred. Feeling disappointed, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur left. After some time, he again returned. He was always praying to the Supreme Lord, "Please kindly fulfill my desire!" Our Paramgurudeva asked Babaji Maharaj, "Did you ask Sri Chaitanyadeva?" Babaji Maharaj replied, "Yes, I did ask." Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur then said, "What did He say?" Gaura Kishore das Babaji Maharaj said, "Mahaprabhu says that you have mundane vanity and pride. He says that you should not be given mantra." Then our Paramgurudeva became very disappointed. He remained there, praying to Lord Chaitanya, "Please give me Your order." At that time, Gaura Kishore das Babaji Maharaj was sitting on a broken boat on the bank of the confluence of the Ganges and Saraswati rivers. He was always performing harinama. If someone rich, such as an influential zamindar (land owner), came to touch his holy feet, he would immediately curse them that all their wealth and possessions would be destroyed. They were afraid of him and paid their obeisances from a distance. Nobody had the courage to touch him. But then, Babaji Maharaj, after so many times refusing to give mantra, all of a sudden took the dust from his own lotus feet and besmeared it on Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur telling him, "You are the only person capable of spreading the message of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, therefore I am blessing you and giving you mantra." He imparted all his power to only one disciple!

Having received the orders of his Gurudeva, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur then performed six years of penance. He chanted Supreme Lord Hari's Holy Name one billion times. Such great austerities! After this, he thought, "I have no personal qualities. How will I be able to fulfill the desire of Gurudeva?" He felt very discouraged, always praying for the grace of Gurudeva. Paramgurudeva's father, Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, was also his Gurudeva. He had a vision of Bhaktivinode Thakur, Gaura Kishore das Babaji Maharaj, Jagannatha das Babaji Maharaj and the Panchatattva (Sri Krishnachaitanya in five features or aspects). They told him not to be afraid and that many people would soon come to follow him. "Preach the message of divine love of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu! Start!" Taking this to heart, he went to Ultadanga Road in Calcutta and started Sri Gaudiya Math. Srila Gaura Kishore das Babaji Maharaj, with only one disciple, started the whole movement. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur also imparted that powers to others. Wherever they went, they were not afraid of anything. They met with many high government officials. They had no fear and went everywhere because they had the power of their Gurudeva behind them. Srila Bon Maharaj also went to London following the orders of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur. They were preaching in this way. Ultimately, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur wrote a letter with specific instructions to Paramapujyapad Swami Maharaj who was a householder at that time.

When I visited New York in 1997 , Vaikunthanath das Prabhu, a disciple of Swami Maharaj, met me and was very enthusiastic to take me to different places where I met many devotees. I went to different ISKCON temples and was eventually taken to Tompkins Square Park by Vaikunthanath Prabhu and one of Swami Maharaj's dedicated sannyasi disciples [click here for an account of that event]. At that time, Sriman Vaikunthanath Prabhu asked me to listen to a taped lecture of Srila Swami Maharaj. I told him that I would hear it as soon as the opportunity arose. I eventually heard it during a two-hour car journey to Hartford, Connecticut.

In that recording, Swami Maharaj was relating his life story including the disappearance of our Paramgurudeva Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur. Swami Maharaj said, "I did not have enough money to maintain my family. I could not get money or earn anything in Calcutta, so I went to Bombay (Mumbai) but was not successful. In the meantime, I heard that our Gurudeva was in Puri. He was not feeling well. He might leave the planet at any moment. Hearing this, I was disturbed. At present I am in my house, thinking how to maintain my family. On the other hand, my godbrothers are with Srila Gurudeva. They are serving. My life is futile. Thinking like this, I then wrote a letter to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur, saying, 'Kindly instruct me. I am your unfortunate disciple. I could not serve in the way that all of you are serving. Please give some orders to me.' Srila Gurudeva received the letter and then replied saying that I had a good hold over English. He said that it was his desire that I spread the message of divine love of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to all the corners of the world. I thought, 'All right, I shall try.' At that time I was thinking that I should keep some money for the welfare of my family although I was trying to fulfill my Gurudeva's order. Then I got the news that Gurudeva had passed away. I thought, 'I am wasting time in householder life, attached to worldly relations. By doing this I shall not be able to fulfill the desire of Gurudeva.' Immediately after that I renounced family life."

Swami Maharaj stayed first for several years at the Sri Sri Radha-Damodar temple. I met him at that time. With great risk of life, he always prayed for the blessings of his Gurudeva and performed the kirtans of Srila Narottama das Thakur and Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur. Nobody in the west understood them. But he prayed nonetheless. In this way all the people of the western world got into the habit of singing songs written by great devotee sages. Wherever I go, I now hear those songs. Srila Swami Maharaj himself used to sing and would also translate and publish great Vaishnava literatures.

This is the first time that I have come to Boston. Our Paramapujyapad Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj came here by ship earlier where he started the spread of the message of all-embracing, all-accommodating divine love of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the west.

I am only here for four days. I am staying at Sanjaya das Prabhu's house. He has brought us here. This place is holy for us. Take the dust. [Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaj takes the dust from the park and puts it on his head.]

Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj wanted me with him, but I could not come. I committed an offense at his lotus feet. Everything is preordained by the Supreme Lord.

Gaura Premanande! Hari Hari bol!

Questions and Answers

Devotee: One thing I am kind of wondering is, that, among the many different groups of Vaishnavas, there is sometimes some conception everyone seems to agree with. When we perfect the path of devotion and go to the spiritual world, we have an eternal relationship with Krishna. That relationship is spiritual, so it is dynamic and changing but in another sense it is eternal and is unchanging. My question is this: when we go to the spiritual world where our relationship with Krishna and His devotees is eternal and unchanging, is there anything that we may do here in this material realm that will alter our relationship with Krishna? I shall give an example. If I become a big guru with many disciples and then go back to the spiritual world to have a relationship with my guru and Krishna, will I be able to do more service? Could it be a material thought that I will be able to do better quality, more wonderful service in this way?

HDG Srila B. B. Tirtha Maharaj: I have heard from my Gurudeva, Srila Bhakti Dayita Madhava Goswami Maharaj, the elder godbrother of Srila Swami Maharaj, that the guru never thinks of himself as guru. But an outside person may think that this person is acting as guru by giving mantra and that another person is acting as a disciple by the taking of mantra. But the guru always thinks that he is the eternal servant of Supreme Lord Sri Krishna. He will be satisfied if the conditioned souls, who are averse to the Supreme Lord and have forgotten their relationship with Him, are able to understand Him. If he can enable them to understand their real nature and bring them under the shelter of the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord, then the Supreme Lord will be happy. For that reason, the guru tries to explain to them that they are not of this world, that they are connected to the Supreme Lord and that they are His eternal servants---the outcome of His marginal potency. All potencies should remain for the possessor of the potency. My potency works for me and the Supreme Lord's potency works for Him. Only that should be awakened.

For example, there is a magnet and there is iron. The magnet has the power to attract iron. When iron comes near the magnet, it becomes attracted. If both a magnet and iron are there but there is no attraction, then something must be wrong. Krishna is there and He is attracting all. By attracting all, He pleases all. He is called Krishna because 'krish' means "to attract" and 'na' means "to give happiness." By attracting He is giving anand---bliss. He attracts everyone. Nandanandana Krishna possesses all kinds of qualities, all kinds of sweetness and all kinds of delightfulness, but He is not attracting me---I am not feeling anything! What is the defect? The magnet and the iron are both there. If the iron is not running toward the magnet then the iron must have some sort of defect. There is a coating of rust on the iron, and if I remove the rust, then the natural function will become manifested. Then the iron will run to the magnet. The magnet will attract it. In this way, when we become averse to the Supreme Lord, we become covered by the illusory energy (maya) in the form of three primeval qualities, namely sattva, rajas and tamas. By rajo-guna we are born, we remain in this world by means of sattva-guna and by tamo-guna, we die. We are then compelled to take birth in different species and again we die. By great fortune we have achieved this human birth. Only in the human birth has God given us the discriminative power: "You should think whether you want to enjoy this world or if you would rather come to Me." Give up the desire to enjoy and dominate the material world. You should not just engage in eating, mating, sleeping and defending. All the animals are doing the same thing. You have been given this special potency that you must utilize to accept the eternal and reject the non-eternal.

When, by our previous good impressions (sukriti), we knowingly or unknowingly serve Krishna, we create an impact on our real self. When we do something good in this world we get physical and mental benefit, but that is only temporary. The body is not eternal so the benefit is also not eternal. Our real self is eternal and is eternally connected to the Supreme by means of association with a suddha-bhakta---a pure devotee.

There are many different forms of the Supreme Lord such as Lakshmi-Narayana, Sita-Rama, Dwarakadisha Krishna, Mathuradhisha Krishna and Nandanandana Krishna. All these are different forms. There is Half-man/Half-lion Bhagavan (Narasimha), Fish Bhagavan (Matsya), Boar Bhagavan (Varaha) and so many more. Now, if you receive the grace of the preceptorial channel for Boar Bhagavan, then that mantra will take you to the abode of Boar Bhagavan and, similarly, if you take mantra from a pure devotee of Narasimha Bhagavan, then that mantra will take you to Lord Narasimha's abode. If you take mantra from a devotee of Dwaraka Krishna, then it will take you to Dwaraka. If you take mantra from Nandanandana Krishna's devotee, then you can go to His abode. You have to go through the bhagavata-marg (the devotional path) and when you want to stop somewhere, you must not---you must go on. You have taken Krishna mantra from a personal associate of Nandanandana Krishna and you are not to stop---you must continue relentlessly. Then you will cross, cross, cross and, ultimately, at the culmination, you will reach the lotus feet of Supreme Lord Sri Krishna. At Prayag, Sriman Mahaprabhu imparted this knowledge, which is the culmination of bhakti-rasa, to Srila Rupa Goswami. "How to obtain krishna-prema" is the subject of the 19th chapter of Madhya-lila of Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita. Have you gone through this?

Without performing any service to Krishna and the krishna-bhakta, you cannot have the desire to understand the Absolute. "Athato brahma-jijnasa": "Now is the time to inquire about the Absolute Truth." Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has taught us the proper mode of inquiry through Srila Sanatana Goswami. When the time of deliverance from maya arrives, then we will put relevant questions to a realized soul---a sadguru (a bonafide preceptor). Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appeared in the mood of a devotee. In the form of Radharani, the Highest Guru, Nandanandana Krishna Himself appeared. Sanatana Goswami asked Him questions such as, "Who and what am I? Why am I burning from the three-fold afflictions [miseries caused by one's own body and mind, miseries caused by other living entities and miseries caused by the demigods in the form of natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and so on]? What is the ultimate object and how are we to get it?" When we put these questions to a sadguru, then the time for emancipation from the entanglement of this non-eternal sphere has come. It was declared by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to Srila Sanatana Goswami. You must have these types of questions in mind.

Devotee: You mentioned a different mantra---a Nandanandana mantra from a realized soul.

HDG Srila B. B. Tirtha Maharaj: Srila Sanatana Goswami has written this in his Brihad-Bhagavatamritam. You will get many things on the way to Krishna and, if you stop, you will not make any progress. Whatever you have gotten from your Gurudeva, you have to continue to do, with sincerity. Then you will cross Vaikuntha, you will cross Ayodhya and, eventually, you will reach the dhama (holy abode) of Nandanandana Krishna. Patience should be there, for without patience you cannot get anything.

To read more articles by HDG Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Goswami Maharaj, and for information on his preaching activities, kindly visit the GOKUL website at

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