All glories to Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, and his merciful benediction on all the living entities of this degraded Kali-yuga, who had the fortune of his association during his presence in this world. His benediction and mercy continues by his instructions in his books, recorded conversations, lecutures, letters, etc. By this he continues to be manifest and those who follow these teachings live with him.
I would humbly like to present another of his benedictions and manifestations of his mercy, which is felt by hundreds of his disciples and followers, and thousands who never had that divine saintly person enter their lives directly. This blessing, is the continuation of his line of teachings and loving example, by His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja.
Srila Prabhupada spoke in conversation to Srila BV Narayana Mahraja just before he left this world and this was the last conversation he had before leaving. (This conversation is available and many have read or listened to it.) He asked Srila Narayana Maharaja, holding his hand and with tears in his eyes, to please help his disciples and followers in the mission of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
...So for a moment let us reflect on this, and who is asking this, and from whom is that being asked... Firstly, let us remember and reflect that Srila Prabhupada is an eternal, and perfect associate of Sri Nityananda and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the Divine Couple, Sri Sri Radha- Krishna. He is manifest here in a human form to reclaim the lost souls of Kali-yuga from their repetition of repeated birth and death in this material realm. To awaken them from ignorance of their constitutional position as eternal servants of the Divine Couple. He therefore mercifully instructs his followers to follow the perfect path of Sambandha(relationship), Abhideha (process of Bhakti), and prayojana (perfect ultimate goal)..
I will try to keep things short, simple and give my personal experiences. I pray that this may be valuable to some persons who are now exposed to the divisions and lines being drawn by certain individuals, between my beloved Diksa Gurudeva and my beloved Siksa-Sannyasa Gurudeva. This controversy is being perpetrated by persons ignorant of Guru-tattva and who are without any association of Srila Narayan Maharaja, to understand his depth of Bhakti, Siddhanta, and loving dealings with all whom he comes into association with. (Just as in the character and personality of our beloved Srila Prabhupada.)
This is a division being drawn in the west in 1996 when Srila Narayana Maharaja came there from India for the first World Tour of his. (To date he has done 26 such tours around the world at such an advanced age.)
Some devotees whom I spoke with at that time, had gone to his lectures and received immense blessings and realizations based on his association. They related their enthusastic apprecations to me, upon my inquiry.
Other devotees however, who did not have that personal experience of his association, and they related to me, that Srila Narayana Maharaja was in the Gaudiya Matha and was presenting teachings that were different from our Srila Prabhupada. Warning me not to go and hear from him, as I might become confused with his presentations. (They obviously had not understood that before leaving this world Srila Prabhupada had instructed that his disciples and society should cooperate together with Gaudiya missions, to spread the mission of Lord Caitanya in the world. He also established a Bhaktivedanta Memorial Trust to finance amongst other things, the rebuiling of Gaudiya Mathas!)
In 1997, Srila Narayana Maharaja came again to America on his 2nd World Tour. I was with close devotee friends, who had attended his festival the previous year.They were relating their transcendental experiences of his visit and urging me to attend his lectures and festival this time.
I thought to myself, that I was a disciple of Srila Prabhupada since 1975, Brahiminical initiation in 1976. I had read all of SP's books and also distributed thousands to others, been Sankirtan leader of such distribution in temples, congregation director at temples, leader of new devotees in the temples, an ashram teacher at a Iskcon Gurukula School community, and temple president, as well in Iskcon. I felt I knew Srila Prabhupada teachings somewhat and the correct conceptions of his teachings. " Let me go and hear from this Sadhu who has been a sannyasi disciple of the same spiritual master as Srila Prabhupada's sannyasa spiritual master for longer than I have been alive! If I hear anything contradicitory, I will leave and understand for myself what is the truth."
This is what I would like the readers to hear:
When Srila Narayana Maharaja came to the community of devotees in California, USA in 1997, I took that rare opportunity to attend his festival of Bhakti. The first night I listened to him speak on the "Nectar of Instrucion" by Srila Rupa Goswami. Before I comment on the philisophical aspects of his talk, I would like to say something about his personality and nature. I was very overwhelmed by his loving dealings and friendly moods to all in attendence. Spending little moments of affectionate jestures and loving words to different devotees. I began to feel his moods and impressions on me as so much similar to the way I felt, in 1974, when I first met Srila Prabhupada! That I was with another Pure Vaisnava Maha Bhagavata.
His class was so enlightening and profound! His command of various sastric evidence from various Vaisnava Vedic literatures and verses was captivating. He also illistrated certain points with Lila Katha illucidating in the transcendental pastimes of the Lord, the points addressed.
That evening I did not have a chance, and was shy to come close to him. However the next morning I was invited to come on his morning walk with some other male devottes. Very soon on the walk he noticed my new face approached me. One of my godbrothers introduced me as a disciple of Srila Prabhupada, etc.
He approached me and I felt an overwhelming feeling again, that was similar to being with Srila Prabhupada! A feeling that I had not had for 20 years with anyone. I felt when I was around Srila Prabhupada, that he knew every thought I had and had know me for many lifetimes. He was an embodiment of love, compassion and bhakti for Lord Krsna. And now again, such a personality was before me.... it was very moving!
He then came closer and asked me "How have you come here?" I was swimming in thoughts and felt his transcendental depths. I was thinking to myself, externally, how I had driven to this rural setting, etc. and he said "No, how have you come to your Srila Prabhupada?"
At first I thought that he knew my thoughts and was adjusting what I needed to understand! I was thinking back to my first meetings with my beloved Gurudeva, Srila Prabhupada. He then said, "No! You have not come to him! He has come to you! He wants to save you from this miserable material ocean and lovingly wants to take to to his eternal home with his Lordships, Radha and Krsna!"
Then he turned and continued walking... I felt deeply touched by his words and felt Srila Prabhupada pulling me closer. Also, I felt that Srila Narayana Maharaja was now coming to me in the same manner also, as Srila Prabhpada has come in my life. He wants to get me to take up the process of "One-pointed Bhakti", very seriously. And devote myself deeper to the teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's mission. Purebhakti!
That few days inspried me deeply, to recomit to my efforts to please Srila Prabhupada and his desires for me as his disciple. After Srila Prabhupada's departure I had gradually became frustrated and disappointed in the changes in his society that had been so pure and such a great impetus for advancement in Bhakti. As well as seeing so many sentior disciples and leaders fall away from SP's principles of spiritual life.
I took the advantage to get books by Srila Narayana Maharaja and and some books explaining his relationship to Srila Prabhupada for many years beginning in 1947! Very intimate and deep spiritual friendly dealings. He had accepted my Srila Prabhupada as his Siksa Guru. He had been assisting him in many ways, throughout Srila Prabhupada's years in the western countries. Also helping his society after his departure in many instances as well. I have also personally heard from my godbrothers who were fortunate to be with Srila Prabhupada in his last days, the intimate ways in which Srila Prabhupada delt with Srila Naryana Maharaja, and how Srila Prabhupada asked Srila Narayana Maharaja to personally help his disciples after his departure. He had asked Srila Narayana Maharaja to bring them further towards Mahaprabhu's line. (A transcription of theseBengali talks is available on request!)
He also asked him, with tears in his eyes, to personally place his body in Samadhi and conduct all necessary details concerning this endeavor. (Even though his senior disciples had been instructed on all the proceedures by Srila Naryana Maharaja, at Srila Prabhupada's request! Srila Narayana Maharaja was the last devotee SP spoke to before he returned to his abode in Goloka Vrndavana!
He (Srila Prabhupada) is not subject to the four defects of a conditioned soul. Namely, the tendency to commit mistakes, to be in illusion, imperfect senses, and the cheating propensity. He gave the ultimate recognition of honor to his near and dear friend for over 25 years, by requesting the above and also to put his transcendental body in Samadhi. (This was not just a formality that was known by Srila Narayana Maharaja. Disciples of Srila Prabhupada had been instructed to learn this process, and had learned it completely. Yet, Srila Prabhupada asked: "Still I want him to do!"
Srila Prabhupada never officially appointed any successor Acarya. Truth! He established a GBC Governing Body Commision, to be the "Ultimate Managerial Authority." Truth! As far as spiritual authority he left his senior disciples and had 11 of them acting as "Initiating Gurus". SP on many occasions commented that "The Acarya is self-effulgent." meaning it will be obvious by the qualities and potency of such an individual or individuals, who are Acaryas.
To those who had the merciful opportunity to have darshan and hear from Srila Gaura-Govinda Maharaja will testify to self-effulgency and purity, present in his character. Comment: In many Gaudiya Vaishnava Missions , and other Sampradayas , the acarya is the one who places the present acarya in Samadhi. Truth!
This brings in the question of "Guru-Tattva" , the definition of Guru and different levels of Guru.
SP has commented in his Upadesamrta by Srila Rupa Goswami, in the verse 6:
"In this verse Srila Rupa Goswami advises the devotee to be intelligent enough to distinguish between the kanistha-adhikari, madhyama-adhikari and uttama-adhikari. The devotee should also know his own position and should not try to imitate a devotee situated on a higher platform. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has given some practical hints to the effect that an uttama-adhikari Vaishnava can be recognized by his ability to convert many fallen souls to Vaishnavism. One should not become a spiritual master unless he has attained the platform of uttama-adhikari.Comment: In my oppinion and personal realization, Srila Narayana Maharaja is undoubtedly in the highest level of position in levels of Vaisnava's. A Uttama Maha-Bhagavata siddha purusha, as was SP and all of our Gaudiya Rupanuga Vaisnava Acaryas in the line of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Sri Sri Radha-Krsna. For over 10 years I have had the extremely merciful opportunity to travel around the world with SNM over 16 world tours! His level of scriptural knowledge and deep grasp of the essence of all these literatures is truly awe-inspiring! What to speak of his personal love and affection and awesome depth of compassion and encouragement.
***A neophyte Vaishnava or a Vaishnava situated on the intermediate platform can also accept disciples, but such disciples must be on the same platform, and it should be understood that they cannot advance very well toward the ultimate goal of life under his insufficient guidance. Therefore a disciple should be careful to accept an uttama-adhikari as a spiritual master.***"
NoI: verse 6
He has been awarded a very significant award from a congregation of many groups of Pandits and deep spiritual practicioners in Varshana Dhama, Sri Vrndavan. This award was the title of "Yuga Acarya"! His lectures are full of references to scriptural truths, and our Acaryas teachings in the line of authorized disciplic succession. His eloquent speaking inspires thousands of devotees and newcomers to practice the path of pure devotion to Absolute Truth, Sri Sri Radha and Krsna. In my and thousands of devotees oppinion, he is truly the self effulgent Acarya of the our Sampradaya , the Brahma Madhva Sarasvat Gaudiya Sampradaya and is pleasing Srila Prabhupada by his world wide preaching and example.
(On the other hand .... although I don't like mentioning it, almost all of the 11 "Senior appointed Gurus have fallen away from the standards that SP has set out for initiated devotees. Not speak of dozens and dozens of sannyasi's, senior men and senior women in his society.) SP has many times been quoted as stating "Judge by the results!"
All devotees need the association of the Pure Vaisnavas to remain on the path of Bhakti.
In a wonderful kirtan by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, SP's great-grand spiritual master he states: "bandhu-sange yadi tava ranga parihasa, thake abilasa... "If you are at all interested to enjoy in this world... material comforts, material society and friends, position and prestige.... don't go to Mathura (Vrndavana) and especially Kesi-Ghata where Sri Hari, in the form of Govinda, who gives pleasure to all. Whose glance is captivating and smiling. In a 3-fold bending form of shyama color and yellow garments, and peacock feather. Don't go there... it will be dangerous!
Your material aspirations will vanish and you will be captivated my the Loving Prince of Vrndavana!"
I would like to state to the readers: If you are interested only in materialistic acheivements that cannot be taken with us when we leave this world, or prestige and pride that comes with position and power, don't associate or hear from a pure devotee of the Lord such as Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja! Don't hear from those who are inspired to acheive Purebhakti under his guidance!
Let me leave you with this quote by SP in his Nectar of Devotion (chapter 19 last purport)
"Although many different processes for developing love of Godhead have been explained so far, Srila Rupa Goswami now gives us a general description of how one can best achieve such a high position. The beginning of ecstatic love of Godhead is basically faith. ... There are many societies and associations of pure devotees, and if someone with just a little faith begins to associate with such societies, his advancement to pure devotional service is rapid. The influence of a pure devotee is such that if someone comes to associate with him with a little faith, one gets the chance of hearing about the Lord from authoritative scriptures like Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam."
Pure love, pure bhakti, the goal of our practices of bhakti.... We should accept what is favorable for Pure Bhakti, and reject what is unfavorable for Pure Bhakti!
Praying to remain in the service of Hari, Guru and Vaisnanvas...thank you,
Swami BV Sajjan
aka: Krishna Bhajana das ACBVSP
(Yes, my name was changed by Srila Narayana Maharaja, just as Srila Prabhupada's name, Abhaya Charan that his Diksa-Guru Srila Bhaktisiddhanta gave him, was changed to Bhaktivedanta Swami by his Sannyasa Guru!)
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