Srila Gurudeva is the embodiment of mercy and his form is the very abode of pure love. According to the descriptions of a pure saint presented by scriptures, and according to the exemplification of such descriptions as seen in our disciplic succession, his character was a perfect example of detachment from material objects, owing to his absorption in the Absolute Truth.
Śrīla Gurudeva did not give dīkṣā initiations for more than two decades after Acarya Kesarī’s disappearance. Nonetheless, he was widely revered as a spiritual master during this me. Many accepted Śrīla Gurudeva as a parakīya-guru and in turn he accepted them as parakīya disciples. Devotees from ISKCON, other Gauḍīya Maṭhas, local brāhmaṇas and priests, and village people from different castes all respected and accepted Śrīla Gurudeva as their beloved teacher and guardian. Examples of parakīya-guru and disciples can also be seen in the lives of the Six Gosvāmīs and previous ācāryas.
In some cases, the indirect disciple is superior to the direct disciple. If someone has offered everything to the lotus feet of a Vaiṣṇava, and the Vaiṣṇava has accepted one as his own, then mantra and dīkṣā are a formality. Our lineage is the bhāgavata-parampara—in which prominence is given to śikṣā, spiritual instruction. The siksa-guru increases faith in Gurudeva and Bhagavān and is as significant as the dīkṣā-guru. If one undergoes a formal dīkṣā ceremony yet never receives śikṣā, he will never be able to advance in bhakti. Śrīla Gurudeva told some of those who stayed with him, “You are my parakīya (indirect) disciples. This is a sweet relation.”
The dīkṣā-guru protects his disciples by sending them to high-class Vaiṣṇava association. The path of anugatya is illuminated by the disciplic succession: the mañjarīs serve under the guidance of the sakhīs, the Guru-varga serves under the guidance of the mañjarīs, and the Vaiṣṇavas serve under guidance of the Guru-varga. For sādhakas it is thus essential to follow the footsteps of those Vaiṣṇavas who are intimately connected to the Guru-varga. Then one will not endeavor to cultivate worldly friends and will certainly advance on the path of pure devotion for Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa.
Various ācāryas would send their brahmacārī disciples to Śrīla Gurudeva to learn how to practice strict sādhana. Also, followers of different spiritual masters would seek the guidance of Gurudeva after their own guru had departed. Over the following years, in addition to the numerous disciples of Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja who trained under Śrīla Gurudeva, many disciples of Śrīla Bhakti Jīvana Janārdana Mahārāja, Śrīla Bhakti Śrīrupa Siddhāntī Mahārāja, Śrīla Bhakti Sāraṅga Gosvāmī Mahārāja, Śrīla Bhakti Pramoda Purī Mahārāja, Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja, Śrīla Gour Govinda Mahārāja, as well as other ācāryas, trained under Śrīla Gurudeva. Gurudeva welcomed and cared for everyone. He always received the spiritual masters of those who came to him and taught those disciples how to properly serve their own guru; he never encouraged them to neglect their guru. He acted as siksa-guru without selfish motives. Many disciples of different gurus dwelt there harmoniously, yet everyone worshiped their own spiritual master with the full support and encouragement of Śrīla Gurudeva. When brahmacārīs of different gurus recited jaya-dhvani (names of spiritual masters and holy places declaimed before and after temple programs), Gurudeva instructed them to first praise the name of their own spiritual master. Such an ideal Vaiṣṇava is met only by great fortune.
Srila Gurudeva, Srila Bhaktivedānta Trivikrama Gosvami Maharaja, and Srila Bhaktivedānta Vāmana Gosvami Maharaja, were best of friends and closer than brothers. Although Srila Vamana Gosvami Maharaja was the official acarya, he always collaborated with Śrīla Gurudeva and Śrīla Trikrama Gosvāmī Mahārāja, and together they made all the decisions for the maintenance and development of the Gauḍīya Vedānta Samitī. These three godbrothers, known as the three pillars of the Samitī, first discussed issues together, and later had open meetings with the other members of the society. For a spiritual organization to be successful and to prevent it from being derailed from the authorized ideology and lineage, self-realized souls must be in positions of authority. The ideas of ordinary people generally cause disharmony.
Before giving dīkṣā initiations during festivals such as Gaura-pūrṇimā, Śrīla Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja would offer Śrīla Gurudeva prostrated obeisance—Gurudeva naturally returned the respectful gesture. Even though Śrīla Gurudeva was junior, Śrīla Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja would humbly say, “I am about to perform a sinful act, taking on the sins and offenses of these people. Please protect me.”
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Vāmana Gosvami Maharaja sent many of those he initiated—and who wished to be brahmacārīs—to study under the guidance of Śrīla Gurudeva at Keśavajī Gauḍīya Maṭha in Mathurā. Śrīla Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja would instruct them, “Go stay under the guidance of Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja and learn from him. If you disrespect or disobey the Vaiṣṇavas, and they dismiss you, then I will also not give you any shelter.”
Whenever Pūjyapāda Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja would come to Mathurā, he would bring many gifts like brooms, Bengali vegetables—banana flowers, jafru, parmal—cloth for the Deities and the Vaiṣṇavas, and sundries; he never came empty-handed.
Śrīla Gurudeva would occassionaly invite Śrīla Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja to Mathurā to give dīkṣā initiations to Mathurāvāsīs or brahmacārīs who were prepared. When these pure Vaiṣṇavas met, they offered praṇāma to each other and then spent many hours sitting side by side, engaged in conversation. Śrīla Gurudeva would give all the donations he had received to Śrīla Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja, who would in turn give everything he had collected to Śrīla Gurudeva. These collections were then mutually entrusted with the treasurer of the Gauḍīya Vedānta Samitī, Kṛṣṇa-kṛpā Prabhu, and when funds were needed for festivals or for maintaining various temple projects, they withdrew and used them accordingly. Śrīla Trikrama Gosvāmī Mahārāja also reserved donations he received throughout the year during his collections in the area of Chunura, from Uddhāraṇa Gauḍīya Maṭha, and he would deposit this with his godbrothers when they met four or five times annually. These three ideal godbrothers had complete trust in each other and they thus harmoniously served the cause of their divine master.
Sometimes godbrothers or their disciples came from other temples and stayed with Śrīla Gurudeva in Mathurā. He always taught them to respect and worship their own Gurudeva. Śrīla Gurudeva encouraged everyone to follow the appearance and disappearance days of all Vaiṣṇava-ācāryas; indeed, Śrīla Gurudeva himself respected and followed their āvirbhāva and tirobhava festivals. Śrīla Gurudeva always taught how to properly follow Vaiṣṇava etiquette by his own example. Śrīla Gurudeva instructed the brahmacārīs, “Never think that other Vaiṣṇavas besides your guru should not be respected. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu said
(Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya 16.70):
prabhu kahe,—“vaiṣṇava-sevā, nāma-saṅkīrtana
dui kara, śīghra pābe śrī-kṛṣṇa-caraṇa”
Serve Vaiṣṇavas and always ant the holy name of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. If you do these two things, you will very soon attain shelter at Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet.
“You must always chant harināma,” Śrīla Gurudeva instructed,
“but never neglect vaiṣṇava-sevā.”
Many senior sannyāsī disciples of Prabhupāda Sarasvatī Ṭhākura like Śrauti Mahārāja, Yāyāvara Mahārāja, Paramahaṁsa Mahārāja, Janārdana Mahārāja, Purī Mahārāja, and others would come and stay in Mathurā with Śrīla Gurudeva. They had great affection for him and would come for one month or fifteen days. Śrīla Gurudeva arranged everything to serve them. He would also request them to speak and he listened to their hari-kathā. In those days temple funds were quite limited. The brahmacārīs went daily on bhikṣā and collected enough to serve the devotees and Guru-varga. Many sannyāsīs and Vaiṣṇavas came and stayed with Śrīla Gurudeva because they knew he was honest, truthful, and always respected all Vaiṣṇavas appropriately. Hence, other ācāryas would send their disciples to stay and learn how to properly serve Vaiṣṇavas from Śrīla Gurudeva. Gurudeva always instructed his dependents to be loyal and faithful to their spiritual master.
After Śrīla Bhaktedānta Svāmī Mahārāja entered nitya-līlā, many of his disciples followed the instruction of their spiritual master and sought shelter from Śrīla Gurudeva. Other ācāryas would ge disciples of Śrīla Svāmī Mahārāja new dīkṣā, sannyāsa, or babaji-vesa mantras. Śrīla Gurudeva vehemently opposed this practice. He told those who came to him, “Never take new dīkṣā; follow Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja. Always remember his glories and develop an internal relation with him by sincerely chanting and serving.”
For the service of his dine master, Śrīla Gurudeva traveled among the many centers of the Gauḍīya Vedānta Samitī, residing in them for sometime to help nourish the devotees and maintain the temples. He stayed in temples such as Devānanda Gauḍīya Maṭha, Keśavajī Gauḍīya Maṭha, Golokaganja Gauḍīya Maṭha, and Uddhāraṇa Gauḍīya Maṭha.
Śrīla Gurudeva never tolerated misdemeanor; it was impossible for him to accept and tolerate faulty speech or conceptions. Indeed, he was a very strict disciplinarian. Gurudeva focused his energy on practically following the ideal of scripture as heard from the Guru-varga. He never retired from any endeavor until his intention was accomplished, and he was not satisfied with the attainment of knowledge without complete realization; thus he never stopped endeavoring in anything until he had complete experience and realization of a subject.
Śrīla Gurudeva’s nature was softer than a flower yet stronger than a thunderbolt.
vajrād api kaṭhorāṇi mṛdūni kusumād api
lokottarāṇāṁ cetāṁsi ko nu vijñātum īśvaraḥ
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya 7.73
Who can comprehend the heart of exalted, transcendental personalities, whose natures are harder than thunderbolts and more tender than lotus flowers?
Many people in the Gauḍīya Vedānta Samitī feared Gurudeva because of his strong, uncompromising nature, especially those who were not actually inclined to following pure bhakti. Upon seeing Gurudeva, such people would tremble and quickly hide from sight, but Gurudeva was not worried about this. Later on, out of their selfishness, certain people resorted to dark arts, hoping for the early demise of Gurudeva, thinking, “When will he leave so we will finally attain peace?” But such rascals do not know that God and His eternal associates never die; they are eternally present. Indeed, they are the mahā-kāla ki kāla svarūpa, the form of death for death himself. Māyā cannot defeat them, for they are like the trident of Śiva, removing impediments to devotion throughout the three worlds. Simply by remembering their names one becomes purified. One attains welfare even by taking their names in animosity.
Srila Gurudeva ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the bhaktabandhav book publication, “Sri Guru Darshan.” Available from: email@example.com )