Srila Bhaktivedānta Vāmana Gosvami Maharaja and Srila Bhaktivedānta Trivikrama Gosvāmi Mahārāja were very upset when they heard members of the GBC were mistreating Gurudeva and trying to defame him in ISKCON. Some members even had the audacity to criticize Srila Gurudeva in the presence of Srila Vāmana Gosvāmi Mahārāja at Devānanda Gauḍīya Maṭha in Navadvīpa. Someone once said, “He as against the rules and regulations of your Vedānta Samīti by speaking on elevated topics that ordinary jīvas are not qualified to hear. You are president of the Samīti, please tell him to mend his ways or remove him from your society.”
Śrīla Vāmana Gosvāmi Mahārāja rebuked those who thus spoke and said, “I am not separate or different from Srila Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja. Whatever he speaks is correct and in line with “sadhu-guru-sastra”.
Śrīla Trivikrama Gosvāmi Mahārāja was also angered at the ill character of the GBC towards Srila Gurudeva Srila Vāmana Gosvāmi Mahārāja and Srila Trivikrama Gosvāmi Mahārāja said, “An offense to our dear godbrother is an offense to ourselves and our whole society.”
In September 1995, Pūjyapāda Bhaktivedānta Trivikrama Mahārāja arrived in Keavaji Gauḍīya Maṭha. Upon arrival, he offered prostrated obeisance to Śrīla Gurudeva and Gurudeva offered sāṣṭāṅga-praṇāma in return. Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja had immense respect for Śrīla Gurudeva. Sometimes, when Śrīla Gurudeva was residing inside his room, or absent, Śrīla Trivikrama Gosvāmī Mahārāja would bow to Gurudeva’s shoes at his door. In the temple programs, Śrīla Gurudeva and Śrīla Trivikrama Gosvāmī Mahārāja sat together for the kīrtanas and hari-kathā. Gurudeva deeply honored Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja and always requested him to speak first. One morning, a few days before Kārtika commenced, Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja gave class while Gurudeva was elsewhere engaged.
In his Hindi class, Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja raised the question, “How can we attain bhakti? Even if we end all our time with sādhus, if we have no faith in them, then we can never achieve bhakti. By feeding or giving money to sādhus, or even by following sādhu’s instructions, one does not achieve bhakti. Faith and respect for Vaiṣṇavas is crucial! We must never criticize our Vaiṣṇava guardians! Because of our wicked tendencies, when there is obstruction to our sense gratification we perceive defects in the faultless Vaiṣṇavas. Nothing is as despicable as a disciple who is disloyal and who denounces his spiritual guardian. Yet, we see dependents having no fear in making grave offenses to their śikṣāguru. Pūjyapāda Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja embodies all the 26 qualities of a Vaiṣṇava as described by the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Have full faith in him!”
Śrīla Trivikrama Gosvāmi Mahārāja then glorified Srila Gurudeva’s Vaiṣṇava traits. He said”, the primary symptom of a Vaiṣṇava is being saranagata, completely surrendered to Kṛṣṇa. Even if all other symptoms of a Vaiṣṇava are present in someone, if he is not surrendered to Kṛṣṇa, he is not a real Vaiṣṇava. Without the life-giving quality of śaraṇāgati, the other qualities are only like decorations on a corpse. All Vaiṣṇavas are śaraṇāgata, but not all Vaiṣṇavas possess the 26 characteristics of a Vaiṣṇava mentioned in śāstra. Pūjyapāda Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja is special in that he fully possesses all 26 qualities. He causes all bhaktas to feel that he is their ever well-wisher and spiritual friend.
“Vaiṣṇavas are merciful. Whether someone respects or insults him, Pūjyapāda Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja is equipoised. He gives affection and mercy to everyone. He does not consider the faults of others, rather, he sees even the slightest goodness in a person and encourages him to progress. The method of bestowing mercy on the righteous is different from that of delinquents. Externally, Vaiṣṇavas may appear more kind to sinners than the virtuous. Śrīla Mahārāja chastises the upright devotees to edify them. Meanwhile, he is affectionate to the dissolute so that they become good. The actions of a sādhu of Mahārāja’s caliber are not easy to comprehend. Even the abuse or curse of a sādhu is beneficial—meant for the recipient’s welfare.
“Śrīla Mahārāja never considers others his enemies, even if they are ingrates whom he has helped but who have then turned against him. Śrīla Mahārāja is like a sādhu who picks up drowning scorpions again and again, wanting to save them, even though they keep biting him for his efforts. When I ask, ‘What do you gain by trying to help such badmashes?’ He replies, ‘If they will not give up their nature, why should I forsake mine?’ ”
“Sādhus are tolerant. There is no end to Śrīla Mahārāja’s patience.
He maintains and nourishes so many. Yet when many of them have matured, they turn against him. He works always for the welfare of others, yet still people criticize and insult him. But Mahārāja never thinks ill of anyone.
“Vaiṣṇavas observe the essence. Mahārāja discerns if a person is eager for bhajana and helps him in all ways. If someone wants to serve māyā, he helps him on his way as well, knowing that, after receiving the continual kicks from māyā, he will come back and be prepared for his help.
“Mahārāja is nirdoṣa, faultless. He never criticizes others or speaks idly of mundane topics. Indeed, he wastes not a moment. He’s always engaged in hari-bhakti. He is magnanimous. He speaks vraja-kathā to inspire others towards vraja-bhakti, even if they are not qualified or strictly practicing bhakti. He knows that ten or twenty lifetimes may pass before a person becomes qualified, but he also knows that unless one hears vraja-kathā and develops greed for vraja-bhakti, he never has a chance to progress toward the ultimate attainment. So, Mahārāja generously speaks vraja-kathā to whomever he meets. Mahārāja is akiñcana—he considers nothing as his own property. Understanding that everything belongs to the Lord, Mahārāja takes responsibility to engage everything and everyone in God’s service.
“Mahārāja is sarvopakāraka—he is interested in the welfare of all living entities. He selflessly takes others on parikramā, maintaining the pilgrims by collecting bhikṣā, and he arranges festivals of bhakti for all people to attend without charge. Materialists use all their assets to gratify their mind and senses. Mahārāja employs whatever he receives for the upliftment of mankind in many ways, such as: publishing books, orchestrating pilgrimages, maintaining temples, restoring holy places, serving people in general to inspire them to follow bhakti, and serving the sādhus by providing whatever facility they require for performing bhajana, such as prasāda, room, cloth, and medicine.
“Mahārāja is never restless. Those who have material desires are always restless, but Mahārāja only desires to serve the transcendental Divine Couple—Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa; no matter what the external circumstances are, he knows that all events occur by the will of Kṛṣṇa. Thus he remains tranquil and internally absorbed in his spiritual service.
“Mahārāja is victorious over the six internal enemies and is always in control of his emotions. He never lusts for wealth or power; never becomes angry; always gives to others without being greedy for anything in return; is beyond the spell of illusion and madness; and is forever free of envy. He never boasts. Even though he has done so much service and such great deeds, he never praises himself, for he knows everything is done by the will of Kṛṣṇa and Guru.
“Mahārāja respects all people according to their position and encourages everyone forward on the path of bhakti without being critical. He practices tolerance and improves others with gentle instruction. To congenially uplift self-indulgent people is difficult. It is easy to respect those higher than oneself, but to respectfully edify ignorant reprobates is an arduous task not achievable by just anyone. Mahārāja knows that everyone is hungry for respect. He therefore helps others advance by respecting and encouraging them.
“Mahārāja is patient and as always at the appropriate time. He does not speak empty words; rather he takes action. He has helped so many, and when they later turned against him, he never thought ill of them. Mahārāja is Bhaktabāndhava—the friend of all devotees and of all living beings.”
“Unless you have respect for such a śaraṇāgata, akiñcana, and ideal Vaiṣṇava,” Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja concluded, “Then you will never be able to accept his mercy. By surrendering to such a great soul, his Vaiṣṇava qualities will manifest in you and you can attain vraja-bhakti.”
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Trivikrama Mahārāja glorified Srila Gurudeva in this manner, and encouraged the brahmacārīs to respect and have full faith in him.
Srila Gurudeva ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Sri Guru Darshan”. Available from: email@example.com )