The construction progressing agreeably, (for the “Rupa Sanatana Gaudiya Math” in Vrndavan) Śrīla Gurudeva focused on arranging Deities for the temple. He told the brahmacārī assistant who was managing the work in Vṛndāvana, “Tomorrow we will go to Jaipur and meet with sculptors.” That night, Śrīla Gurudeva dreamt of Vṛndā-devī. She told him, “It is good you are manifesting Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa and Mahāprabhu in my abode. But will there be no place for me? I reside in Dāna-galī, Māna-galī, Yamuna-galī, and Kuñja-galī. Kṛṣṇa’s grandson, Vajranabha, established my vigraha in Vṛndāvana, but I was removed and brought to a forest in Kāmyavana where
I am neglected. An indifferent government-paid priest sometimes offers bhoga, but more often forgets. I desire you to bring me back to Vṛndāvana and install me in your temple.”
“The government won’t allow me to take you from Kāmyavana,” Gurudeva said. “Shall I make a better temple for you there?”
“No. I will come to the temple in Vṛndāvana. Establish my mūrti there. Soon the whole world will be ready for you to cultivate vraja-bhakti. I will give shelter and inspiration to those who come to this temple eager to serve Śrīmatī Rādhikā in Sevā-kuñja.”
The next day in Jaipur, Śrīla Gurudeva went to Sundaralal, the son of the sculptor who made the Rādhā Vinoda-Bihari Deities in Keśavajī Gauḍīya Maṭha. After cordialities, Śrīla Gurudeva said, “We need Deities of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, Mahāprabhu, and Vṛndā-devī. Can you make them?”
“My father was initiated by your Gurudeva,” Sundaralāl said. “Now, both your Gurujī and my father are no longer present.
Gurujī gave the Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa mantra to my father, but he never gave me the mantra. Moreover, he never gave us a mantra for Vṛndā-devī. Now you must initiate me. The Divinity will not appear in a person’s heart unless he first receives the divine mantras from a bona fide guru and achieves perfection in them. You will only be satisfied with the Deities I make if you first make them appear in my heart, like Gurujī did for my father.”
“I do not accept disciples,” Gurudeva said.
“I cannot fashion the Deities unless you give me their mantras.”
Śrīla Gurudeva had never given mantra initiation. “You don’t understand,” he said. “I can’t give you the mantra. In our society there is only one ācārya—Śrīla Bhaktedānta Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja. I will speak with him, and he will come and initiate you.”
“No,” Sundarlāl said. “I will only make the mūrtis if you give me the mantras.” He earnestly requested Śrīla Gurudeva again and again for initiation.
“I’ve never seen such stubbornness,” Śrīla Gurudeva thought. “I will pray to Govindadeva and wait for His inspiration before making a decision,” he said.
Śrīla Gurudeva went to the temple of Sri Govindadeva, circumambulated the mandira four times, and took caraṇāmṛta. The pūjārī gave him a garland and some prasāda. “This Sundarlāl is so stubborn,” Gurudeva told Govindadeva. “He insists I give him initiation. What should be done?”
In a dream, Śrī Govindadeva appeared to Śrīla Gurudeva and said, “You must initiate Sundaralāl. I desire this of you.”
Sundarlāl rejoiced when Śrīla Gurudeva agreed to his request. Śrīla Gurudeva and the brahmacārī who was accompanying him stayed in Pani Pech, on the other side of Jaipur. On the designated morning, Sundaralāl came in a car with his brothers, their wives, and children. The whole extended family assembled and prostrated before Gurudeva. “O Mahārāja, you’ll have to give the mantras to all of us,” Sundarlāl said.
Astonished, Śrīla Gurudeva resisted, but to no avail.
“You must accept us all or none.”
With a sigh, Gurudeva said, “Okay. But first I will tell you a story. There was once an old lady who was so expert at making deities, who made them so beautifully, that no one would buy any other deities in the market beside hers. One day, the other sculptors in the market came to harass her. They said, ‘Oh, old dame, you have destroyed our livelihood! How will we survive?’
‘What do you mean? What have I done?’ She asked.
‘Only your deities sell.’
‘What am I to do?’
‘How do you make them so beautiful?’ they asked.
‘I was extremely beautiful in my youth. So I remember my image in youth, and make deities resembling that.’
‘You should see yourself now,’ the sculptors chuckled. She refused. But one day they walked before her as she was downcast busy at work and surprised her with a mirror. When she looked up at being addressed, she saw her reflection in the mirror. Her face was wrinkled and ugly with age, her eyes sunken, hair gray. Thereafter, whenever she made deities, they looked decrepit just like her. The other sculptors rejoiced. ‘Now, she makes old, ugly deities, and no one will buy them!’ ”
“I will give you and your family the mantras,” Śrīla Gurudeva told Sundarlāl, “And if you properly meditate on them, their worshipful Deities will appear in your hearts. But I warn you, if you remain attached to material faces and figures, their forms will plague your hearts and you will not be able to manifest the Lord’s mūrti. You must be singlemindedly attentive to the mantra with love for the Lord in your heart. en you will be successful. If not, well, then we will not accept the deities. You must also follow the regulations of an initiated Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava.”
“Agreed,” Sundarlāl said. “We will forever keep the mantras’ presiding Deities in our hearts and will abide by all regulations.”
Śrīla Gurudeva then bestowed the mahāmantra, gopāla-mantra, and a Vṛndā-devī mantra to Sundarlāl and his family. Over the next weeks, Sundarlāl practiced the mantras and waited for divine inspiration. Gurudeva returned to Mathurā. Once a week, Gurudeva sent a brahmacārī to meet Sundarlāl in Jaipur and ask if he had had any revelation. A month later, Sundarlāl euphorically declared that he had seen the dazzling Lords in his heart and was prepared to begin fashioning them. He asked for a thousand rupees to purchase marble and said, “I’ll need five to six months to make the mūrtis.”
It was the spring of 1986. The major temple construction was completed. Śrīla Gurudeva desired to install the Deities and inaugurate the temple during the upcoming Kārka. During Cāturmāsya, Gurudeva sent the brahmacārī weekly to check on the progress in Jaipur. It was a five-hour trip to Jaipur. The brahmacārī
left Mathurā at four in the morning and reached Jaipur by nine. He left Jaipur at three in the afternoon and arrived back in Mathurā at eight. He brought back pictures of Govindadeva, Govindadeva’s prasāda, and prasādī candana for Śrīla Gurudeva to distribute to the congregation. “Mahārājajī,” the brahmacārī said, “the Deities are thin and look like children. Sundarlāl has not done well.”
“I will go see for myself,” Śrīla Gurudeva said.
After Rādhāṣṭamī, Gurudeva went to see the Deities. He was more than pleased with them, but the brahmacārī who went with him was still dissatisfied. “They are too small and thin,” he argued. “We won’t take these Deities.”
Śrīla Gurudeva and Sundarlāl were upset. “Gurudeva,” Sundarlāl said, “I formed whatever picture of Radha-Krsna, Mahāprabhu, and Vrndadevi you manifested in my heart. If you don’t take them I will give up my life.”
“They are enchanting,” Gurudeva said. “We will take them as they are. What is the cost?”
“Gurujī, you have given me a priceless treasure. You revealed their Lords to me and gave me the inspiration and ability to manifest them outwardly. I couldn’t live with myself if I took any remuneration.”
“You are like my son. It is my duty to make sure your family is cared for. What would cover your costs and time spent?”
“Eleven thousand rupees.”
Śrīla Gurudeva happily gave Sundarlāl the sum.
Back in Mathurā, Śrīla Gurudeva sent out invitations for an installation ceremony to be held that Kārtika. Gurudeva entreated Śrīla Bhakti Pramoda Purī Mahārāja to preside over the occasion. Śrīla Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja came from Bengal to observe the completed temple. Gurudeva asked him, “What name should we give the new maṭha?”
“Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī would meet here and speak hari-kathā,” Śrīla Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja said. “So we should call the Śrī Rūpa-Sanātana Gauḍīya Maṭha. Here Rūpa Mañjarī gives instruction on how to serve Rādhā-Mādhava in Sevā-kuñja.”
The name decided, Śrīla Gurudeva told the brahmacārī who was overseeing the proje, “Hire a truck and go bring the Deities from Jaipur. Also buy crowns, ornaments, paraphernalia for worship,
and cloth to sew into outfits.”
“Don’t worry, I will return with stout and tall mūrtis.”
“You will bring back buffalos! You don’t know anything. Do as I say!”
“Sundarlāl’s murtis appear like skinny children.”
“They are exactly as Thyey should be!”
The disagreement continued throughout the day. At night, as usual, the brahmacārī massaged Śrīla Gurudeva to rest and then went to sleep himself. That night he had a mysterious dream.
Śrīla Gurudeva was sitting on a chair chanting in the morning sunlight in the temple courtyard when two beautiful five year-old girls capered up to him. One wore a peacock-colored dress and the other wore rose-colored attire. They played on either side of Gurudeva, climbed onto his lap, held his hands, and hugged his neck—as if they were his children. Seeing the spectacle, the brahmacārī exited the kitchen where he was cooking breakfast and scolded the girls. “Hey! What are you doing? Mahārāja is a sannyāsī. Your behavior is inappropriate. Get off with you!”
Unheeding, the girls continued to play with Gurudeva. At this, the brahmacārī tried to drive them out, but they eluded him, running around the courtyard, hiding under tables and beds, and finally again taking refuge of Gurudeva. They stood behind him, looking out from either side with a pleading expression, as the brahmacārī advanced. But Gurudeva held him back with a protective smile. This surprised the brahmacārī because Gurudeva was very strict and he had never seen him even speak with girls, what to speak of such a scene as the present. “Restless girls,” he said. “What do you want? Why won’t you leave?” The brahmacārī brought toffees and said, “Take these and go!” They stood defiant under Śrīla Gurudeva’s ward. Perplexed, the brahmacārī moved away for a few moments and then returned with a packet of sweets. To his amazement,
he saw that Gurudeva had vanished from the scene and in his place a third young girl was playing with the other two girls.
And then the brahmacārī startled awake. “Prema,” Gurudeva called. “Uṭho! Chalo!” It was three-thirty a.m. “Maybe he’s going to Govardhana?” he thought. Śrīla Gurudeva would go to Govardhana once or twice a week. He would leave before maṅgala-āratī, do full parikramā, and return by ten. In those days, Prema was the only one to accompany Gurudeva. They would take a bus to Govardhana. After offering prostrations at Dāna-ghāṭī, Gurudeva would tuck his sannyāsa cloth up to his knees and stride along the parikramā path so fast the brahmacārī had to run to keep up. For the first half of Govardhana parikramā, Gurudeva chanted harināma and for the second half he recited prayers and verses of the Gosvāmīs. Twenty-one kilometers were covered in less than three hours.
Prema rolled over, rose stiffly, then went and offered praṇāma to Gurudeva.
“Shall we go to Govardhana?”
“No,” Gurudeva said. “Did anyone appear in your dream?”
Prema reddened. “Two little girls.”
“What were they like?”
“Very bold and clever. They liked you. They sat on your lap and played with you. They wouldn’t leave, even when I gave them candy and told them to go.”
“How did they look? Were they anything like the Deities of Rādhikā and Vṛnda in Jaipur?” Gurudeva asked.
Silence. The brahmacārī began to weep. “Exactly,” he said.
“Describe your dream,” Śrīla Gurudeva said.
When Gurudeva heard what outfits the girls wore, he said, “We’ll make the same for the inauguration.”
Without delay Śrīla Gurudeva said, “Get ready to go to Jaipur.”
Together they went to Jaipur. They warmly met with Sundaralāl and his family. Gurudeva gave gifts and sweets to the family. They transported the Deities to Vṛndāvana. During Kārtika, the inauguration festival was completed with pomp and ceremony. Śrīla Bhakti Pramoda Purī Gosvāmī Mahārāja performed the installation. Murtis of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī were established in front of the altar. Śrīla Janārdana Gosvāmī Mahārāja and other disciples of Śrīla Bhaksiddhānta Prabhupāda were present. The sannyāsīs of the Gauḍīya Vedānta Samīti participated in the ceremonies. Their Lords Śrī Śrī Gaurāṅga Rādhā Vinoda-Bihari and Vṛndā-devī were resplendent in Their raiment. Thousands of guests blissfully partook of Their prasāda. Despite the temple being situated in a narrow alley, many people began coming daily for darśana—especially eager to see the Deity of Vṛndā-devī re-established in Vṛndāvana. There has been no lack in Ṭhakurājīs’ service to the present day.
When the name Śrī Rūpa-Sanātana Gauḍīya Maṭha was announced in the invitation card, some locals from the Rādhā-Dāmodara Temple were indignant. They came to Gurudeva and protested, “Why did you name your temple ‘Rūpa-Sanātana?’ Our temple is the place of Rūpa and Sanātana.”
“There is no question of changing the name,” Śrīla Gurudeva said. “Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī would regularly meet here. Now they will always be here to train people how to follow vraja-bhakti and serve in Sevā-kuñja.”
“Rūpa Gosvāmī’s samādhi is at the Rādhā-Dāmodara temple,” they persisted. “You should serve the Rādhā-Dāmodara temple and not divert people to this new temple on the strength of the names Rūpa and Sanātana.”
“The Guru-varga are eternal,” Gurudeva said. “Their will is done. This is not my doing. There is nothing to fear. The glory of Śrī Rādhā-Dāmodara will only increase by further propagation of the glories of Śrī Rūpa-Sanātana from this maṭha.”
In this way, Śrīla Gurudeva established a maṭha on the pathway to Sevā-kuñja. Within that elegant āśrama he manifested a branch of Sevā-kuñja and requested Vṛndā-devī, “If anyone comes here to your lotus feet, then is my wish—my prayer—that you give them the qualification to attain their transcendental service to Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa.”
Śrīla Gurudeva called the Sevā-kuñja shrine which he established on the floor above the main temple hall Vinoda-kuñja, “Because,” he said, “Rūpa Mañjarī, Vinoda Mañjarī, and Vinoda Bihārī are present here.”
From the establishment of Rūpa-Sanātana Gauḍīya Maṭha forward, Śrīla Gurudeva would preside over a large festival that he organized for the glorification of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, which was held annually during the five days of Jhulan-yatra. Gurudeva invited all the local scholars and esteemed Vaiṣṇavas to speak and participate in the annual celebration in honor of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī. Eventually, this festival became a main event in Vṛndāvana. During one of these festivals, Kṛpalu Mahārāja came with some of his disciples to Rūpa-Sanātana Gauḍīya Maṭha. Śrīla Gurudeva invited him to speak, but he said, “O Mahārāja, you are an illustrious rasika-santa of Vraja. I have been attracted here by the fragrance of your pure bhakti and desire to bathe in the flow of your rasa-kathā.”
Kṛpalu Mahārāja glorified Śrīla Gurudeva in this manner and then sat to hear his kathā. He stayed afterward for the Jhulan swinging of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, and then gave a donation to Śrīla Gurudeva and invited him to his āśrama to speak hari-kathā there.
At the first gathering held for the disappearance day of Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu, Śrīla Gurudeva said, “Now I feel that by Vṛndā-devī’s mercy we have received this place in Sevā-kuñja. She has given us a place here along with the eligibility to serve the Gosvāmīs by reading their message. This āśrama has manifested 500 years after Mahāprabhu’s appearence, and the granthas of the Gosvāmī’s are now being published on a grander scale than ever. None of this is possible without an understanding of the Gosvāmīs’ mood.”
Śrīla Gurudeva gave utmost emphasis on the importance of distributing the message of the Gosvāmīs by translating and printing their books. He taught that the most pleasing service to the Guru-varga is to hear and chant the glories of the Gosvāmīs and to repeat their message for the help of the conditioned souls. In other services, the chance of having an ill-mentality is a possibility, but if someone serves the divine message of the Gosvāmīs, then the Guru-varga are most pleased.
Śrīla Gurudeva had the transcendental potency to manifest the books of the Gosvāmīs and he engaged fortunate souls with a strong desire to serve in the glorious collaboration of publishing. “You should first listen and then do kīrtana,” Gurudeva would say to them.
“Then offer that to the Gosvāmīs and manifest in the form of books. This is the best service one can render to Mahāprabhu. If you are only engaged in building temples and so forth, then the Guru-varga is not fully pleased. They desire that we all do bhajana and understand the instructions of the rūpānuga line.”
During his speeches on the glories of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, Śrīla Gurudeva spoke on Rūpa Gosvāmī’s definition of pure bhakti:
ānukūlyena kṛṣṇānuśīlanaṁ bhaktir uttamā
Śrī Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 2.2.11
Continuous, ardent endeavor, performed exclusively for the pleasure of Kṛṣṇa, and out of genuine intent for His well-being, neither prone to any selfish or ulterior desires, nor covered by knowledge, fruitive action, or any other occupation, is called uttamā-bhakti.
Śrīla Gurudeva boldly proclaimed, “Any desire other than that of becoming the maidservant of Srimati Radharani is anyābhilāṣa, an ulterior and unfavorable desire. If Radharani is not pleased with our activity it is not anukula. Ānukūla anuśīlana is service performed under the guidance of Rādhārānī’s sakhīs and mañjarīs. Even kṛṣṇa-dāsya is anyābhilāṣa. In Rādhārānī’s dāsya there is no anyābhilāṣa.
To become the maidservant of Śrīmatī Rādhikā is the only aspiration we must cultivate. Here at Śrī Rūpa-Sanātana Gauḍīya Maṭha, there is a special arrangement for the living entities to come and attain the service of Śrīmatī Rādhikā in Sevā-kuñja. Paṇḍitas and students of logic and various scriptures have many ideas about anyābhilāṣa.
They are learned but their learning is not helpful. Study the books of the Gosvāmīs with a mood to serve this sacred literature and to attain service in Sevā-kuñja. Know that to please Rūpa Gosvāmī you must serve under the guidance of a pure Vaiṣṇava. Those who come and try to reside independently in Vṛndāvana-dhāma will not achieve the mercy of the Gosvāmīs. Attraction and attachment to the material world will not leave us until we have developed the desire to follow the anugatya of Rūpa Mañjarī and the mañjarīs of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī. One may proclaim to the world that he is a sannyāsī or a brahmacārī, but unless he genuinely takes shelter of Śrī Guru, and follows his heart’s desire, he will remain attached to the material world. Mañjarī-bhāva must be the only objective for which we strive. If it is, then we will be personally maintained and cared for by Śrīmatī Rādhārānī’s associates.”
Some devotees from different institutions challenged Śrīla Gurudeva about why he gave so much focus on the elevated pastimes of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa in his classes and books. Śrīla Gurudeva described that for one who desires freedom from material existence and the disease of lust in the heart, he must hear hari-kathā about Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes with the Vraja-devīs from a Vaiṣṇava realized in these topics. Śrīla Gurudeva elaborated in depth in the introduction to his book Veṇu-gīta, which he published in late 1994.
In his commentary, Śrīla Gurudeva selected verses from
the previous ācāryas and from the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam to support the necessity of hearing vraja-kathā:
“The esoteric and confidential conclusions regarding the amorous pastimes of Rasarāja Śrī Kṛṣṇa with the gopīs are not fit to be disclosed to the common man; but without revealing them, no one can enter into this topic. I shall, therefore, describe these topics in a concealed manner so that only rasika devotees will be able to understand, whereas ineligible fools will not.
“Anyone who has established Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu in his heart will attain transcendental bliss by hearing all these conclusions. This entire doctrine is as sweet as newly grown mango sprouts, which can be relished only by devotees, who are likened to cuckoo birds. For the camel-like non-devotees, there is no possibility of admittance into these topics. Therefore, there is special jubilation in my heart. Hence, after offering obeisance to the devotees, I am revealing this subject without hesitation.
“In order to bestow mercy upon the devotees as well as the conditioned souls, Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa manifests His human-like form and performs such extraordinary pastimes that anyone who hears them becomes exclusively devoted unto Him.” –Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.33.36)
“A sober person who, in the beginning, faithfully and continuously hears from his guru the narrations of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s unprecedented Rāsa dance with the young brides of Vraja, and later relates those pastimes, very soon attains parā-bhakti (supreme loving devotion) for the Supreme Lord, and thereby becomes competent to quickly dispel the heart’s disease of lust.
“Here, the words laulyam api mulyam ekalam (indeed the only price is en how can this greed be obtained? The words kṛṣṇa-bhakti-rasa-bhāvitā–matiḥ indicate one whose intelligence or perception has been awakened toward the nectar-filled loving service to Kṛṣṇa. Here, the implication is that by faithfully hearing the narrations of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes saturated with rasa from the lips of rasika Vaiṣṇavas, in whom kṛṣṇa-bhakti-rasa has arisen, or by faithfully and attentively studying the literatures related to the pastimes of Śrī Kṛṣṇa composed by such Vaiṣṇavas, this greed may be obtained. Other than this, there is no other means to obtain such greed.
“Some maintain that at present no sādhaka exists who is completely free from anarthas. Hence, no one is eligible at the moment nor in the future will anyone be eligible. This argument is completely illogical. Freedom from lust and all other anarthas in and of itself is not the qualification for entrance into rāgānuga-bhakti. On the contrary, greed awakened towards the Lord’s sweetness is the sole qualification for entrance into rāgānuga-bhakti. Nor is there any certainty that by routine observance of the limbs of vaidhī-bhakti (following rules and regulations) alone, greed toward rāgānuga-bhakti will automatically awaken. There is no evidence of this anywhere. Hence, our highest obligation is to follow the purport and commentaries of the previous ācāryas to the above-mentioned verses of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.”
Srila Gurudeva ki Jaya! (excerpted from “Sri Guru Darshan”, available from: [email protected] )