Srila Bhaktivedānta Swami Maharaja spent considerable time in Delhi printing and distributing his magazines and books before his passage to America. Śrīla Gurudeva often stayed with him in his rooms at the Chippiwada Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa Temple. Before traveling to the USA by cargo in 1965, Śrīla Svāmī Mahārāja asked Śrīla Gurudeva to accompany him to the West. Gurudeva humbly responded that he could not go without the permission of his spiritual master, who had ordered him to manage Keśavajī Gauḍīya Maṭha and the preaching operations in North India. Śrīla Gurudeva bid him farewell and promised to stay in close correspondence.
When Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja was in the U.S., he requested Śrīla Gurudeva to send spiritual paraphernalia and other items only available in India. Gurudeva enthusiastically sent Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa Deities, outfits and ornaments for Their Lords, reference books, instruments (mṛdaṅgas, karatālas, and harmoniums), Ayurvedic medicines, peḍa (the famed Mathurā milksweet), Tulasī beads, and other articles.
Over the next twelve years, hundreds of affectionate handwritten letters were exchanged between Śrīla Gurudeva and Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja. On September 28, 1966, Śrīla Svāmī Mahārāja wrote the following:
By Air Mail Registered Post
International Society for Kṛṣṇa Consciousness Inc.
TWENTY-SIX SECOND AVENUE, NEW YORK, N.Y. 10003
Ācārya: Svāmī A.C. Bhaktivedānta Sept. 28, 1966.
Śrīpad Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja,
I received your letter, dated 20.9.66, on time. Our relationship is certainly based on spontaneous love. That is why there is no chance of us forgetting one another. By the mercy of Guru and Gaurāṅga, may everything be auspicious for you. This is my constant prayer. From the first time I saw you I have been your constant well-wisher. At his first sight of me, Śrīla Prabhupāda also saw me with such love. It was in my very first darśana of Śrīla Prabhupāda that I learned how to love. It is his boundless mercy that he has engaged an unworthy person like me in fulfilling some of his desires. It is his causeless mercy to engage me in preaching the message of Śrī Rūpa and Śrī Raghunātha.
In all the Gauḍīya–Maṭhas, I think that you are the real guru-sevaka, so I always correspond with you, and I always give my full love and affection to you.
On July 25, 1967, Śrīla Bhaktivedanta Svāmī Mahārāja returned from his first preaching tour in America with his disciple Kirtanānanda dasa. Srila Gurudeva met him at the airport and stayed with him in Delhi for six days at the Radha-Kṛṣṇa Chippiwada Temple.
Śrīla Bhakivedanta Swami, told Srila Gurudeva how he began his preaching in the bower of New York, one of the most degraded places in America. He prayed to his Gurudeva and began to chant the pañca-tattva mantra and mahāmantra in Tompkins Square Park. He kept his eyes closed and became absorbed in his chanting while many hippies began to dance around him joyously. They offered him drugs and alcoholic drinks, not knowing the regulations of devotional life. People became attracted to the path of bhakti and began coming to his discourses at a storefront shop called Matchless Gifts. He incorporated ISKCON, the International Society for Kṛṣṇa Consciousness, opened a center in San Francisco and New York, and continued his translation of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam—before returning to India. In the coming years, by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s desire, the Kṛṣṇa Consciousness Movement spread rapidly around the world.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svami Mahārāja arrived at Rādhā-Dāmodara in Vṛndāvana on August 1. A few weeks later, another disciple of Śrīla Svāmī Mahārāja, Acyutānanda dāsa, arrived from America. Śrīla Gurudeva often went to see Śrīla Svāmī Mahārāja in Vṛndāvana. He defended Śrīla Svāmī Mahārāja’s disciples and partook of their cooking—a unique gesture because most of Śrīla Svāmī Mahārāja’s godbrothers, as well as all the caste Gosvāmīs, would not accept the cooking of Westerners, who had previously been meat-eaters. Śrīla Gurudeva quoted Kṛṣṇa:
na me ‘bhaktaś catur-vedī mad-bhaktaḥ śva-pacaḥ priyaḥ
tasmai deyaṁ tato grāhyaṁ sa ca pūjyo yathā hy aham
A non-devotee brāhmaṇa who knows the four Vedas is not actually dear to Me. However, a devotee, even if born in a family of outcastes, is certainly very dear to Me. Everything should be offered to him, and whatever he offers should be accepted. He is as worshippable as Myself.
During his stay in India, Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja visited Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja, his sannyāsa–guru, in Kolkata. The two ācāryas spoke together intimately. Śrīla Swami Mahārāja spoke about opening a temple in Navadvīpa-dhāma. Extremely pleased by Śrīla Svāmī Mahārāja’s preaching, Ācārya Kesarī promised to help in any way he could and advised him to open the center in Māyāpura, predicting it would become internationally renowned as a magnificent temple of Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Ācaryā Kesari proposed that if Śrīla Svāmī Mahārāja opened a temple in Navadvīpa all people from India and the West would go there and give Navadvīpa more significance than Māyāpura, which is Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s actual birthplace.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Swami Mahārāja then spent a few days in Devānanda Gauḍīya Maṭha with his disciples. Ācārya Kesarī’s mission was flourshiing there, with over a hundred brahmacārīs and sannyāsīs dynamically preaching all over Bengal with Devānanda Gauḍīya Maṭha as a base. In December 1967, Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja returned to America, leaving Acyutānanda behind to study the etiquette and ways of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas.
Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada ki Jaya! (Excerpted from a Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Sri Guru Darshan”. Available from [email protected] )