The Devānanda Gauḍīya Maṭha compound included a large field where the devotees cultivated vegetables. In those days, Acarya Kesarī had insufficient funds to construct a fence around the proper.
To protect the land, the brahmacārīs surrounded the area with thorn bushes. Still, buffalos and other animals entered the garden, consuming and destroying the vegetation. Herdsmen would intentionally allow their drove to enter the area. Gurudeva and the brahmacārīs tried repeatedly to protect the track of land, but the herdsmen came late at night while everyone was asleep, allowing the drove to eat everything.
Intending to stop the intruders, Śrīla Gurudeva kept vigil one night. The herdsman arrived at midnight, fully intoxicated and rowdy. To their surprise, Gurudeva drew a large stake and began to drive the buffaloes away. Startled, the herdsman yelled, “Why are you driving our herd away?”
“Why are you destroying our temple’s farm?” Gurudeva shouted back. “I won’t tolerate such unlawfulness!”
Ignoring his questions, the herdsmen assailed Gurudeva. Undaunted, Gurudeva struck them with his stick. The scene became hysterical as the drunken men called out to one another and retreated. The perpetrators returned to their village and instigated their neighbors to defend them. That same night, an angry mob returned and surrounded the temple compound. By this point the police were involved and trailed behind the horde. The commotion roused Acarya Kesarī. After hearing a brief summary of the affair, he told Gurudeva, “Go inside while I talk with the officers.”
Acarya Kesarī approached the head officer who said, “We are here to arrest the man who beat the herdsmen. Hand him over.”
Acarya Kesarī calmly escorted the officers into the compound and offered them seats saying, “Please tell me how one person could fight alone against so many? A large band of these men came with their herds to ravage our land. They come on a regular basis and allow their animals to eat our vegetables. Tonight they were drunk and attacked our brahmacārī when he confronted them. In the midst of the confusion, they beat each other and ran away, shouting like madmen.”
“Where is the man who fought with them?” the officers asked. “We want to see him immediately.”
“First examine these drunken buffalo herders,” Acarya Kesarī said. “Ask them how one man could beat all of them?”
The police questioned the herdsmen and observed their drunken state. Upset by their behavior, the police said, “If you ever come back and disturb this temple, we will beat and imprison you!” They told Acarya Kesarī, “Call for us if they return to disturb you. We will protect the temple.”
At that moment Gurudeva came out of the inner room and introduced himself. The officers said, “Oh! It’s Tārījī! Are you the same distinguished inspector who recently left his post? We have heard about your eminent composure but were never able to meet you.” They were pleased to meet the esteemed Nārāyaṇa Tārī and engaged in friendly exchanges before dispersing the crowd and securing the temple on their leave.
Acarya Kesarī was impartial when the two brahmacārīs had previously been selfishly fighting yet protected Śrīla Gurudeva in this instance because he was defending the temple. Acarya Kesarī told Śrīla Gurudeva, “One who as against the rules of dharma must pay the consequences; but you must be qualified in order to discipline others. By surrendering to God, your life will be successful; otherwise, you will fail the test during challenging circumstances. When Rāvaṇa stole Sītā-devī from Rāma, Hanumān jumped across the sea and burnt down Rāvaṇa’s city of Laṅkā. This was true humility. Devotees are submissive to Hari, Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, and tolerate all attacks upon themselves, but owing deference to demons is the sign of a coward, not a devotee.” Acarya-deva concluded, “You never need worry. Kṛṣṇa is protecting you.” (click on the Title to read the Full article )
Sannyāsīs and devotees from various societies had great faith in Śrīla Gurudeva and his non-sectarian spirit. Thus many people from all over India would gather and perform parikramā together under his guidance. The pilgrims walked in procession, while the luggage and cooking paraphernalia were taken on horse or buffalo carts. As Sanātana Gosvāmī would go on parikramā of Vraja and rest under a different tree each night, Gurudeva also stayed at a different place eve night with the devotees: on sool grounds, empty fields, dharmaśālās, and dilapidated temples.
Śrīla Gurudeva would send the brahmacārīs to serve the sannyāsīs and householder disciples of Prabhupāda Sarasvatī Ṭhākura and Ācaraya Kesarī. He said, “Go and soak their feet in hot water, then massage them with oil. Otherwise, how will they be able to go on parikramā tomorrow?”
“By this kind of service to Vaiṣṇavas,” Gurudeva instructed the brahmacārīs, “you will receive their affection and mercy. Bhakti will never descend if Vaiṣṇavas are disrespected or neglected. Pride has no place in bhakti. One must learn to respect and serve all jīvas for the pleasure of guru and Bhagavān.”
In whichever village Śrīla Gurudeva chanced to stay, the surrounding Vrajavāsīs would come and participate in the programs, sing in the kīrtanas, and listen to the hari-kathā. The villagers would normally retire when it became dark at around 7:00 p.m., but when Gurudeva came to their village on parikramā, they would light candles and kerosene lamps and attend the programs. They would bring hot milk and capātīs or porridge as offerings to the pilgrims.
Śrīla Gurudeva said with gratitude, “My dharma is to serve the Vrajavāsīs, not to take from them.”
Paṇḍitas and brahmaṇas would leave their homes and listen to hari-kathā late into the night. Some Vrajavāsīs would ask Śrīla Gurudeva questions on various topics. Once, when Gurudeva concluded his hari-kathā before a crowd of pilgrims and locals, a leader amongst the Vrajavāsīs spoke up, “Bābā, you are always speaking of vraja-bhakti and the moods of the gopīs. What is the most prudent and straightforward process to obtain this most exalted aspiration? We locals are set in our ways. To what degree can we engage in devotional practices every day? You are a great ācārya and hearing hari-kathā from you inspires us all. How can we practically integrate these teachings into our daily lives? We will try our best to abide by your advice.”
Śrīla Gurudeva replied, “One who has desire for vraja-bhakti must follow Ekādaśī purely. On Mādhava-tithi (Ekādaśī) you should engage your time in worshiping Śrī Hari and fasting from grains and sense enjoyment, all the while cultivating in your heart the aspiration to attain Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa’s service in Vraja. For one who does so, vraja-bhakti is assured.”
Śrīla Gurudeva spoke in depth on the glories of Ekādaśī. The villagers were inspired and agreed to follow Ekādaśī, as well as to encourage others to do the same. Another Vrajavāsī then asked, “We took birth in Vraja-maṇḍala. Why aren’t our hearts pure and full of love for Vraja and Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa?”
“You have taken birth in Vraja because of pious merits from past lives,” Gurudeva said, “but you have been debased by undesirable association. A covering of māyā inhibits one from experiencing Vraja in truth. That net of illusion is attainment to material family life and sense gratification in this world, along with distaste for bhakti and Kṛṣṇa. People have made their homes all over Vraja but know nothing other than the four walls of their house. Since they do not frequent Śrī Hari’s temple, their inimical family members gradually convince them to leave Vraja for a more affluent city ”
Gurudeva continued, “Those under the influence of wicked company begin to think, ‘What is there at the mandira? Why should I follow bhakti, Ekādaśī, and all that fanciful talk? This is the modern world we live in. The place for old-world sentimentalism is rapidly passing.’ The homes of such people are like the dens of demons, where everyone is engaged in selfish enjoyment; while the homes of those who have faith and devotion become temples of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. Those people never suffer any shortage.” (click on the Title to read the full article )
Once, a brahmacārī asked Śrīla Gurudeva, “Why do we go on parikramā every year? I heard that in our line mānasī-sevā is the highest practice. So, is it necessary to do parikramā physically year after year? Why don’t we simply visit the holy places mentally?”“Five material elements compose the physical body,” Śrīla Gurudeva answered. “These elements are governed by demigods. If we do not take the body on parikramā and engage it in the service of Hari, Guru and Vaiṣṇavas at the holy places, we will remain indebted to the presiding deities of the elements in our bodies and will not be able to achieve salvation. During parikramā our bodies touch the dhāma and become purified, and we have the opportunity to serve the sādhus. Our bodies thence purified, the senses become favorable to the execution of devotional service. The nine limbs of devotion are naturally performed during parikramā. When we engage in bhakti, the demigods presiding over the elements of the body are pleased and discharge all debt. If we don’t engage our bodies in service, our senses will be agitated, and it is unlikely we will have the mental discipline to serve internally. Laziness is the worst malady. We must cure indolence by forcible engagement in service. For this reason we travel in sādhu-saṅga to all those places where Śrīman Mahāprabhu and Nityānanda Prabhu went with Their associates:gaura āmāra, ye saba sthāne, karala bhramana raṅgese-saba sthena, heriba āmi, praṇayi-bhakata-saṅge‘In the company of devotees that have love for Gaurāṅga Mahāprabhu, I will visit the places where My Lord happily wandered.’“Alone you cannot attain perfection. By going on parikramā in sādhu-saṅga, and smearing the dust of the holy places on your body, you will certainly receive the mercy of Śrī Guru, Kṛṣṇa, and the dhāma.“The Guru-varga serve the dhāma by annually bringing the devotees together for parikramā. They teach us that parikramā of the dhāma must not only be done annually, but daily—no matter where we are physically. We learn from them that we must first offer praṇāmas to the Guru-varga when we wake in the early morning, chant our mantras, and also visit all the dhāmas, praying to Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, ‘Please let me stay nearby you. Without you I am a helpless orphan. Please do not reject me.’ You will always be with Guru and Vaiṣṇavas if you have this humble and prayerful mood.“While chanting harināma, you should mentally go to Vraja-maṇḍala, Navadvīpa-maṇḍala, and Kṣetra-maṇḍala. Offer obeisance at each of the places within these dhāmas, and pray at those places, as well as to all the devotees and associates of Rādhā, Kṛṣṇa, and Mahāprabhu. Render service in the mind by sweeping, cleaning, and decorating the dhāma, and offer gifts to the Deities. By doing so, your mind will be present in the spiritual abodes and will not wander in the realm of illusion, māyā-maṇḍala.“The dhāma cuts our relations with our temporary home and family, and awakens our relation with our eternal home and family. In truth, we are refugees in this world; like guests staying for some time in a boarding house—our material body. In these temporary dwellings we meet with many other refugees, whom we call our relatives. Inevitably however, death will come and all these relations will be lost. We must understand this bitter lesson. The duty of sādhus is to take the conditioned souls to the dhāma and connect them to Kṛṣṇa and His associates. is Navadvīpa-dhāma Parikramā has been going on continually from the time of Nityānanda Prabhu and Jīva Gosvāmī, to the time of Prabhupāda Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. My Guru Mahārāja continued this tradition and that continuation runs on to this day. All branches of the Gauḍīya Maṭha perform Navadvīpa-dhāma Parikramā.”In 1986, a massive celebration was held in Māyāpura for Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s fifth centennial. Millions of people came to Māyāpura from India and all over the world in the days before and after Gaura-pūrṇimā just for a chance to see the birthplace of Mahāprabhu. In preparation for all the people, the Bengal government set up temporary shelters, hand-pump wells, lights, and other facilities all around Māyāpura. The Indian Prime Minister granted 25 lākhas rupees for preparation and orchestration of the festival.Each branch of the Gauḍīya Maṭha organized a party of many thousands for Navadvīpa Parikramā; the overall congregation of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas was well over a hundred thousand adherents from all over India. The fifteen thousand strong Parikramā party of the Gauḍīya Vedānta Samīti, led by Śrīla Gurudeva and his dear godbrothers, Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja, and Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Trikrama Gosvāmī Mahārāja, was the largest group.ISKCON invited the Parikramā party of the Gauḍīya Vedānta Samīti to participate in their opulent celebrations at the Māyāpura Candrodaya-mandira on Jagannātha Miśra Mahotsava. Śrīla Gurudeva led the procession from Devānanda Gauḍīya Maṭha to Māyāpura, with dozens of other sannyāsīs and scores of brahmacārīs, all singing, playing instruments, and dancing ecstatically in saṅkīrtana. A hundred and eight mṛdaṅgas played in rhythm to the kīrtana of Mahāprabhu’s names and glories, and devotees carried 108 clay pots of paraphernalia for Mahāprabhu’s abhiṣeka. As the grand procession entered the Candrodaya-mandira’s gates, the devotees were welcomed with showers of flower petals from both sides.Śrīla Gurudeva spoke in the temple room, glorifying Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja, and the specialty of Māyāpura and Mahāprabhu. Gurudeva concluded his speech saying, “The glories and specialties of Sri Guru are always present in the place that Vaiṣṇavas are welcome, and those who respect Vaiṣṇavas can experience the mercy of Śrī Guru. Those who serve and respect the family and disciples of Śrī Guru are true guru-sevakas. Today, the magnanimous disciples of Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja have conquered the world by their service to the Vaiṣṇavas.”Thereafter, Śrīla Gurudeva offered puṣpāñjali to the deity of Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja, and then proceeded to Yogapīṭha with the Parikramā party. At midday, over 50,000 Mahāprabhu-bhaktas gathered in a field by Śrīdhara-āṅgana. Śrīla Gurudeva had arranged for the distribution of kicari, sweet rice, chutney, sabjis, and other varieties of prasāda, with generous help from Rāma Praka from Mathurā, Phuland from Āgrā, and other devotees. (click on the Title to read the full article)
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