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.
In 1975, India faced national crises as the government declared a state of emergency, suspended democracy, arrested thousands of dissidents and officials, and censored the press. The emergency period lasted from June 25, 1975, until January 23, 1977. In September 1976, the ruling party initiated a widespread compulsory sterilization program to control population growth in India. Certain groups were targeted. Over eight million men were sterilized in one year alone. Being antipathetic toward sādhus, the government mandated that all red-cloth bābājīs must be emasculated. Government leaders announced, “Sādhus are like red monkeys, only eating, sleeping, and causing mischief. They are a heavy burden and a disturbance to our country. Rather than doing work to help our society, they beg in the towns and villages and have illicit affairs with women; hence, we will force vasectomies to prevent them from creating unwanted population growth.”
Mathurā and Vraja-maṇḍala were heavily targeted areas.
Every year thousands of sādhus from different parts of India like Haridvāra and Citrakūṭa assembled in Mathurā to celebrate Janmāṣṭamī. During the Janmāṣṭamī of 1976 the government announced a one-lakh cash incentive for every 100 sādhus that a police officer processed. Policemen would attend temples incognito and invite sādhus for a feast. The sādhus were told they would be taken to a program where they would perform kīrtana, partake of mahā-prasāda, and then brought back. They were then escorted in buses to a local hospital where they were systematically processed with crude surgery and then thrown out on the streets bleeding. Many sādhus died because of infections or complications resulting from unsanitary surgeries and lack of medical attention. After these atrocities continued for several months, many of the remaining sādhus adopted ordinary dress or went into hiding, while others gathered together to protest.
Śrīla Gurudeva instructed all red-cloth brahmacārīs to remain in the temple and only those in white would bring vegetables or water for the Maṭha. Because some of the local officials and policeman were favorably disposed to Śrīla Gurudeva and would come regularly to hear from him, there were no problems inside Keśavajī Gauḍīya Maṭha. But going outside always posed a threat.
Eventually a group of influential sādhus approached Śrīla Gurudeva and requested, “Please protect us, only you can stop these atrocities.”
Śrīla Gurudeva became furious because of this diabolical government policy and summoned secluded conclaves with all the sādhus in Vṛndāvana. There, Gurudeva advised the sādhus to practice their sādhana in āśrāmas rather than roaming about as destitute beggars; and he instructed them on how to properly follow the etiquette of spiritual life.
Gurudeva said, “These atrocities to sādhus cannot last for long. In the beginning of Rāma’s līlā, Rāvaṇa sent many cannibalistic demons and rākṣasas to Daṇḍakāraṇya where thousands of sages practiced austerities. Khara, Duśaṇa, Tāḍakā, Mārīca, and many other rākṣasas harassed the ṛṣis—ruthlessly killing and eating them. So many sages were killed that hills formed from their bones.
“Rāvaṇa sent his rākṣasas to the sages with the message, ‘You are staying in our King’s territory, therefore, you must pay tax.’
‘We don’t have any business or agriculture,’ the sages responded, ‘how can we give tax?’ ‘You eat our fruit and drink our water, and from this your body has made a lot of blood. You can give us your blood as tax.’ ‘What will you do with our blood?’ ‘Our king will drink your blood and become more powerful.’ ‘If the sādhus are weak and not doing bhajana,’ the demons thought, ‘then our king will never be defeated, thus, we must kill them or take their blood as tax.’
“Rāvaṇa had conquered heaven, and was controlling the world, but he wanted more power and so he thought, ‘If I drink the blood of the sages, I will acquire the strength of their austerities.’
“The rākṣasas brought a gold pot, and the sages cut open their thighs and gave blood, saying, ‘Take this blood to Rāvaṇa and tell him it will destroy his dynasty!’ The rākṣasas took the pot to Laṅkā, but Rāvaṇa was not present at the time. Hearing of the curse, his wife Mandodari said, ‘Take this pot and bury it at once under the Himālayas! I will give Rāvaṇa animal blood in its place.’
“The pot was buried in the mountainous region of Mithilā where Janaka Mahārāja ruled. Henceforth, Mithilā became devastated by drought, and the women and animals became barren. Desperate to save his kingdom and people, Janaka Mahārāja consulted his brāhmaṇa advisors and planned to begin a sacrifice. While plowing the ground to clean the ceremonial area, they dug up a golden pot and, upon opening it, found a beautiful baby girl inside—Sītā-devī. Sītā was the embodiment of the sādhu’s curse on Rāvaṇa, and in due course she was the cause of the destruction of Rāvaṇa and his dynasty.”
Śrīla Gurudeva continued, “Rāma went to the forest for 14 years. There He killed the demons that attacked the sādhus. And when He met the ascetics, He instructed them, ‘Your tapa-bala, strength from austerities, is lost when you become angry. At that me demons can easily devour you.’
“Sādhus that stayed in the āśramas of Gautama, Yājñavalkya, Viśvāmrita, and other great ṛṣis, were not tortured by the demons. Demonic people will torment sādhus that do not surrender to a pure guru and instead try to practice bhajana alone, without kīrtana or hari-kathā. Only those sādhus that were not under the shelter of powerful ṛṣis could be attacked by the rākṣasas. Some think, ‘If I’m alone then I can do bhajana without disturbance.’
Gurudeva concluded, “The sheltered soul who sincerely practices sādhana-bhajana, following the instruction of his Guru-pāda-padma, never falters in his spiritual practice, even if he is subjected to trial upon trial. However, one who gratifies his senses on the pretense of bhajana will surely suffer many tribulations.”
The sādhus arranged a large procession to the government offices in Delhi in protest but their calls for justice were ignored. Later, a law was passed stating that sādhus must register with the government, only then would they be left in peace. The government leaders stated, “Rickshaw drivers, thieves, and rogues dress in saffron, either don dreadlocks or completely shave, and beg house-to-house. Posing as saints, they spoil ingenuous women, and thus many illegitimate children are spawned—causing a nuisance to society.”
The government also began to charge a toll to enter Vṛndāvana and Govardhana. Checkpoints were set up on the roads and visors entering Vṛndāvana had to incur levies. The penniless sādhus were also expected to pay before they could enter Vṛndāvana. Violators were arrested and ordered to pay the fee.
The sādhus became irate. Where were they supposed to get money for paying taxes? They complained to Śrīla Gurudeva about the situation and as a result he met with many high-ranking officials. Eventually, he registered a lawsuit with the magistrate, and by his influence this unjust regulation was terminated and the tax checkpoints shut down.
Sādhus had to tolerate immense hardship in those years. Once there was an elderly disciple of Prabhupāda Sarasvatī Ṭhākura named Govardhana dāsa Bābājī who came to Vraja to practice bhajana. He lived in an old stone tower at an obscure Ghāṭa of the Yamunā in Mathurā. One evening he was severely beaten by a rough bunch of local thieves, who stole his few belongings and then threw him in the river, assuming him dead. The dacoits of Vraja would accost sādhus in this way, thinking that they stockpiled donations from the public.
Somehow the Bābā remained alive. He had been thrown face up in a shallow part of the Yamunā, and lay there unable to move because of his injuries. It was more than a day before Govardhana dāsa Bābājī was found and taken out of the water in a precarious condition. His wounds and bruises were infected and oozing pus, and his body was covered with worms and insects. Śrīla Gurudeva was called to the site, and he arranged for him to be taken to the hospital. His whole body appeared rotten, and no one wanted to take care of him.
Śrīla Gurudeva called for one of his dear brahmacārīs. When he came, Śrīla Gurudeva said, “Care for this sādhu, he is a disciple of Prabhupāda Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. Help him.”
The Bābā was senseless. His body was pale and worms were clinging to his sores. The brahmacārī removed the worms and washed his wounds with disinfectants. The doctors gave him medicine and many injections, while the brahmacārī regularly cleaned his wounds and body. Soon he regained consciousness and eventually was completely cured.
As soon as he was well again he came to see Śrīla Gurudeva in Keśavajī Gauḍīya Maṭha. “By your mercy I have received new life,” he said. “I have some money in my bank account, please take it.
“I did not serve you for selfish reasons,” Śrīla Gurudeva said. “Just promise that you will not go back to that tower.”
“I will go back,” the Bābā said boldly. “If Kṛṣṇa wants, He may kill me.”
“Please stay here in the temple,” Śrīla Gurudeva requested.
Despite Gurudeva’s requests, Govardhana dāsa Bābājī returned to his previous residence after staying for some time in the temple.
In those days it was difficult for sādhus. People thought, “Why should we give money to sādhus? They are very rich.”
Hence Śrīla Gurudeva never accepted money from people disinclined to bhakti. Most people doubted sādhus at the time and only a few people came to the temple.
One time, a sādhu named Gopāla dāsa Bābājī, who did bhajana in a simple residence at Govardhana, was visited by some people who offered praṇāma and tried to give him many gifts. He did not accept their presentations, but that night some dacoits came and accosted him, saying, “You bogus old man! We saw those rich people come earlier today. How mu did they give you?”
“I did not accept anything,” said the bābā. “I never do. Sometimes I accept incense and ghee-wicks to worship Girirāja, but only this.”
The dacoits did not believe the poor bābā. “No!” they said, “you are lying! We know you have amassed a lot of wealth by your pretense of saintliness.”
They beat the Bābā so brutally that he died and then threw his body in an old well. Afterwards, they trashed his hut in search of the presumed wealth, but found nothing. Realizing their sin, some of the group turned themselves in to the police. “We killed an innocent bābā,” they confessed. “Put us in jail. We are ready to suffer for this sin.” The police did not arrest them, and instead they left their case in God’s judgement. Later, the offenders suffered greatly as a result of their sin. People like this are great offenders to Vraja.
Śrīla Gurudeva went from village to village meeting with the people of Vṛndāvana and Mathurā. He warned them, “Don’t disturb the bābājīs, they have come for bhajana. You should support them. They only need a small amount of flour and vegetables for their sustenance.” Gurudeva changed the minds of many doubtful people who assumed that all bābājīs and sādhus were imposters, cheaters, and thieves. He thus protected Vraja-maṇḍala and the real Vrajavāsīs. Śrīla Gurudeva began to print many books and as these books were distributed, people began to have more respect for sādhus. In this way, Gurudeva’s influence transformed the nature of the people living in Vraja-maṇḍala.
Srila Gurudeva ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Sri Guru Darshan”. Available from email@example.com )
“The Vedic literature is like an endless ocean,” Gurudeva said. “The books of our Gosvāmīs are also very expanse, like an ocean. It is very difficult to take the abstract of all these in an hour. But I will make an attempt to do so. The essence of all the epics, Vedas, Upaniṣads, and scriptures was given by Caitanya Mahāprabhu in the Śikṣāṣṭakam. Everything is present in the Śikṣāṣṭakam, even more than what is in the Vedas. e Śikṣāṣṭakam is the essence of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Gītā, and all other scriptures. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī understood the essence of all because Caitanya Mahāprabhu inspired everything in his heart at Prayāga; He inspired in his heart all the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, and even what has not been given in the Bhāgavatam—the moods of Rādhikā. Mahāprabhu inspired knowledge of what is love in all its stages: sneha, māna, praṇaya, rāga, anurāga, bhāva, mahābhāva, as well as all their symptoms. Mahāprabhu told Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, ‘Gopī-prema is the object of all love; the gopīs’ prema is the topmost love. To serve the gopīs is the topmost goal of our devotion.
First we must fix the object of life, the object of our devotional activities, then we should know what practice to follow so that we can attain our goal.“Caitanya Mahāprabhu taught three things: sambandha, abhideya, and prayojana—in other words: the relation with Kṛṣṇa, how to achieve kṛṣṇa-prema, and the nature of kṛṣṇa-prema. The aim of our life is the love and affection in the hearts of the gopīs, especially in Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s sakhīs. This is our goal, as expressed by Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has described the process to attain this goal: ādau śraddhā tataḥ sādhu-saṅgo, tato anartha-nivṛtti, tato niṣṭhā ruci āsakti bhāva, and after that prema. In this world we can progress only to rati or bhāva. There can be no prema in this world. And one cannot achieve this very quickly in one birth or two or three or four. We can attain this only by the special causeless mercy of Kṛṣṇa, Caitanya Mahāprabhu, and His associates.“First we should understand śraddhā. There is no restriction that only someone in ISKCON can achieve śraddhā. We can attain śraddhā anywhere in this world. Śrīla Svāmī Mahārāja came to give this śraddhā—which is the seed of bhakti—freely to all people without discrimination.
This is not different from the mission of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Prabhupāda and Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī. It is not something new. He said that śraddhā is the firm belief in your Gurudeva, and that by doing kṛṣṇa-bhakti your life will be successful forever. He said that, by chanting, remembering, and meditating on Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes, we can attain perfection. From śraddhā, again sādhu-saṅga will be there, association with any high-class Vaiṣṇava. And then you’ll think, ‘I must accept initiation from a bona fide guru.’ And if you do not do so, you will be deprived of bhakti. You must accept initiation from a bona fide guru.
The symptom of a genuine guru has been described in all scriptures, especially in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.3.21). There, the symptoms of a guru are given:tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta jijjṇāsuḥ śreya uttamamśābde pare ca niṣṇātaṁ brahmaṇy upaśamjāśrayam“There are three symptoms of sad-guru: one is internal and two are external. To know all the śāstras and be able to remove all kinds of doubts from others is one of the external symptoms. To be detached from all worldly desires and sense gratification is the other external symptom. What is the internal symptom? There must be some realization of kṛṣṇa-prema; he must have love for Kṛṣṇa. If the two external symptoms are there in a person, but the internal symptom is lacking, then one should not accept him as a guru.
But if the internal symptom is there, and something lacks in the external, then we can accept him and it will be favorable for our spiritual life. If he lacks some knowledge of śāstra, there is no harm. But it is absurd to think that someone may have love for Kṛṣṇa, but no knowledge of the scriptures; śāstra-jñāna will run behind that person. Whatever that person does will be śāstra. A guru should be like that. A real guru never falls—never, never, never. Imitator gurus are always falling; but really there is nowhere for them to fall, because they are already fallen. Such a false guru never had niṣṭhā. If he had niṣṭhā he would never fall down.”Śrīla Gurudeva then said, “Caitanya Mahāprabhu mercifully descended to give this gopi-prema through nāma-saṅkīrtanam. If you want to practice the process to attain this goal, then you will have to follow Rūpa Gosvami, as described in this verse:tan-nāma-rūpa-caritādi-sukīrtanānusmṛṭyoḥ krameṇa rasanā-manasī niyojyatiṣṭhan vraje tad-anurāgi-janānugāmīkālaṁ nayed akhilam ity upadeśa-sāram
After asking a devotee to read Śrīla Prabhupāda’s translation and purport of this verse, Śrīla Gurudeva said, “We must do su-kīrtana of Kṛṣṇa’s nāma, rūpa, guṇa, and līlā. There are so many names of Kṛṣṇa:he kṛṣṇa karunā-sindho dīna-bandho jagat-pategopeśa gopikā-kānta rādhā-kānta namo ‘stu te‘O Supreme Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, You are an ocean of kindness. You are the friend of the destitute, Lord of the world, Lord of the gopās, beloved consort of the gopīs, and the most beloved consort of Rādhā. I pay my innumerable obeisances to Your lotus feet.’“Of these names, Gopikā-kānta is superior to the previous, because Kṛṣṇa is controlled by the gopīs. But still, something is missing there: Rādhā-kānta namo stute. This is supreme. ‘O Kṛṣṇa, You are controlled by Rādhā.’ Hearing this, Kṛṣṇa is satisfied. So, these names are gradually superior.”
Śrīla Gurudeva next beautifully described how Kṛṣṇa disappeared from the Rāsa dance, how the gopīs searched for Him and sang the Gopī-gīta, and finally how Kṛṣṇa reappeared and confessed His undying love for the gopīs; how He felt He could never repay them, and that He had only disappeared to reveal their glories to the world.Finally, Śrīla Gurudeva concluded his lecture, saying, “You should remember these pastimes with a melted heart and weep incessantly, while chanting:Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare HareHare Rāma Hare Rāma Rāma Rāma Hare Hare“If you can progress to this stage of chanting, you will forget when night began and when day started. You will chant constantly, oblivious of the world. This is the process. We must chant and remember these things. But you should be where all these pastimes were performed, in Vṛndāvana, where the Yamunā is still gently flowing, or at Govardhana, or Rādhā-kuṇḍa. If you can’t be there physically, then stay there in your mind. Now, even after five thousand years, the trees are waiting for Kṛṣṇa; they are eagerly waiting, feeling, ‘When will Kṛṣṇa come?’ And they are lying on the ground in separation, offering daṇḍavata-praṇāma. So, be situated there. But still only this will not do; something more is required. A very rasika-tattvajña Vaiṣṇava should be there, and in his guidance you should chant and remember.
Then your entire energy can be absorbed in bhajana and that kind of prema, gopī-prema, may come in your heart. This is the essence of all the teachings of the Vedas, Upaniṣads, the Gosvāmīs’ literature, and all scripture. In brief I have described this.”
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