Srila Gurudeva followed Siva-ratri. There was so much fighting about this in the matha even in Mathura, where Srila Gurudeva was in charge. His Godbrothers would become upset. I would cook on Siva-ratri, but they wanted there to be rice, dal, sabji and everything. They would not accept Srila Gurudeva’s idea and they complained about his following of vrata on that day.
Srila Gurudeva said to them, “Who is Siva? Do you accept Siva as separate from Visnu? That is a nama-aparadha. Sada Siva is directly Lord Visnu’s expansion. However, if you accept Siva as equal to Visnu, this is also nama-aparadha. If you accept Siva as an independent controller than this is aparadha, but at the same time, he is not separate from Visnu. In the Brahma Samhita, it is stated:
ksiram yatha dadhi-vikara-visesa-yogat
sanjayate na hi tatah prthag asti hetoh
yah sambhutam api tatha samupaiti karyad
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami
“Here it is described that, milk turns into yogurt by a transforming agent, but yogurt cannot again become milk. In the same way, Lord Visnu manifest as Lord Siva to perform a specific function. So he is an expansion of Lord Visnu, but Siva he is not equal to Visnu and he cannot become Visnu just like milk can become yogurt but yogurt cannot become milk. It is a great offense to disrespect Lord Siva and one should certainly perform fast on his day of Siva-ratri.”
Srila Gurudeva had to deal with so much disturbance amongst his Godbrothers over this matter. These Godbrothers, of course, did not include Srila Vamana Gosvami Maharaja and Srila Trivikram Gosvami Maharaja, but a collection of people who were not so serious about performing bhajana.
Srila Gurudeva later wrote a book titled Siva-tattva and he had it distributed freely to different mathas. He said, “By disrespecting the different demigods one commits nama-aparadha and invites calamity. If one makes this offence he will never attain pure bhakti. Those people who offend Lord Siva will surely suffer. Just look at what happened to Daksa-prajapati, and look at what happened to Pusa and Brghu. Pusa’s teeth were shattered and Bhrgu’s mustache was ripped off. Daksa’s head was replaced with the head of a goat!
“Bhagavan will never give mercy to those who disrespect Siva. He who disrespects Siva disrespects Bhagavan. Siva is mangala-murti. He gives auspiciousness and cleans one’s anarthas, awarding one a chance to serve Bhagavan. Srila Gurudeva would give so many lectures about the glories of Siva, Siva’s bhakti for Krsna, and how one should observe Sivaratri; but still, people were against him.
During the time of Param Gurudeva, people would complain to him saying, “Oh, Maharaja is following Siva-ratri. He is not your disciple, he worships Lord Siva.”
This reaction to a person wanting to follow Siva-ratri was common in the Gaudiya-matha. About such persons, people would say, “Oh, he is not a disciple in the Gaudiya-matha line,” and they would abuse them.
But Param Gurudeva said to the complainers, “Tell me one thing, who will purify us of our papa-bija—the seed or tendency to commit sin? Who will destroy our anarthas? Who will give us help and protection? Who will wash us clean and give us the chance to serve Krsna?”
Everyone was silent as Param Gurudeva continued, “When Lord Siva spoke the Bhagavatam, Sukadeva Gosvami heard from him. Siva Thakura is always engaged in hari-katha glorifying Lord Krsna and through his hari-katha, he cleanses the anarthas of the jivas. If you do not respect Lord Siva, you will have no taste for hari-katha, hari-kirtan, or bhagavad-bhajan. Your taste for maya will increase and you will fall down. There is no one else to save us from anarthas. On the order of Lord Siva, Maya can withdraw her deluding spell that she has on us. But if we disrespect Siva, then Maya will punish us, taking a fierce form such as Kali, Candi, or Rudrani. What is wrong with what Narayana Maharaja has done? Why do you see his respect for Siva as improper?”
Still, some of Param Gurudeva’s disciples continued to see Srila Gurudeva’s actions as unacceptable, disregarding Param Gurudeva’s opinion. When Srila Gurudeva followed Siva-ratri in the Mathura matha, these people would cause so much trouble. They would eat rice, dal, and everything on Siva-ratri, and not to long afterwards they fell back into material life one by one.
Srila Gurudeva would follow very seriously all the different vratas. He followed not only Ekadasi, Caturmasya-vrata, and Kartika-vrata, but also Purusotama-vrata, Kesava-vrata, Siva-ratri and Katyayani-vrata as well. Some people say, “Gurudeva did not follow Kesava-vrata and Katyayani-vrata. So where did we learn these from?”
I witnessed personally how Srila Gurudeva would daily go to the Yamuna during the time of Katyayani-vrata. He bathed there before brahma-muhurta, and then he would kneel down and offer different prayers and worship. I heard these prayers. I heard him pray to Yogamaya Paurnamasi with the verse:
sri-paurnamasim sirasa namami
Everyday Srila Gurudeva would go to the Yamuna and pray in this manner. He observed Katyayani vrata in a hidden way.