Upon meeting with Vaiṣṇavas from the Gauḍīya-sampradāya, Śrīla Gurudeva’s heart became increasingly attracted to the transcendental path. He began to daily chant one lakh of harināma (100,000 holy names), and lost all taste for work and family life. Having become detached from worldly life, he considered resigning from his post as a police inspector and leaving home to join the maṭha of Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja. Often, he remembered the prediction of the yogī in the forest. Wherever he went he chanted the names of Gaura-Nāiti and Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. While eagerly awaiting an opportunity to go to Navadvīpa, he remained busily engaged in his official duties.
Śrīla Gurudeva’s central office was in Paṭnā, the state capital of Bihar. From there he was posted on various assignments. It was once announced that the British viceroy from Kolkata was on his way to the headquarters in Paṭnā to retrieve an important file required for a decisive case in England. The case had originally been filed in India but had since been transferred to England.
All the officers were afraid because it was a fifteen-year-old file that no one could find. The viceroy had a reputation for being merciless. He would suspend, fire, or punish any government worker that made a slight mistake.
The Paṭnā officers went to Śrīla Gurudeva for help. “O Tiwārījī! We know you are an inspector and are busy out in the field most of the time, but please help us find a crucial file. The viceroy is coming and we will be punished if it cannot be found. There are countless files in the cabinets and we don’t have a clue where it might be!”
“The file is not in my department,” Gurudeva said. “How will I be able to find it?”
“Just please come and help. It will boost everyone’s spirits.”
Distressed and pale with worry, the police officers stared desperately at Gurudeva. At the time, Gurudeva was chanting in his office and said, “First I must complete this round of harināma; then I will come.”
The officers consented and soon Gurudeva put away his beads and entered the large hall where the files were stored. He said to his co-workers, “Have you no faith in Bhagavān? Why are you scared and hiding like mice in a cave? Chant with me, ‘Jaya Sītā-Rāma, Jaya Sītā-Rāma!’”
Everyone started to chant and pray to Lord Rāma. The viceroy was due to arrive without notice so Śrīla Gurudeva’s colleagues pleaded, “Your love and faith in Rāma is so powerful. Pray to Rāma for help in finding the file. We will be suspended or even sent to jail if we can’t find it. Please save us!”
Persistently requested, Gurudeva agreed and assured his co-workers, “I will find this file you are so worried about. I will close my eyes and walk to a cabinet. By Rāma’s power, the first drawer I open and the very first file I touch will be the one you are searing for.”
Closing his eyes, Gurudeva spun around and then walked straight ahead with an outstretched arm while chanting, “Jaya Sītā-Rāma! Jaya Sītā-Rāma!” All the officers walked behind, chanting along with him. When he came to a nearby cabinet, Gurudeva opened it and pulled out a file. He opened his eyes and showed the file to the officers. “Is this it?” he asked.
They examined the file. “Yes! This is it!” they shouted in amazement. The officers were ecstatic and embraced Gurudeva, saying, “We searched for this file for days and had almost given up hope, but now you have saved us!”
The viceroy soon arrived with his convoy. Out of fear, no one dared approach or speak with him. Gurudeva wore the white suit of British officials; he was tall, strong, and handsome, with blue eyes like a Westerner. Because of his respectable appearance, the Indian officers urged Gurudeva to present the file. He met the viceroy and they shook hands. The viceroy asked him some questions and Gurudeva confidently replied.
The viceroy saw that Śrīla Gurudeva was intelligent and fearless.
He said, “I have heard about you. Word has it you do fine work.”
The British viceroy gave Śrīla Gurudeva a promotion, making him one of the top officers of Bengal, Bihar, and Odisha. Disheartened, Gurudeva thought, “I don’t want any promotion from foreigners controlling my country.”
At that time Gāndhī and Subha Candra Bose were in revolt against British imperialism. People throughout India were agitated. Gāndhī initiated a boycott on commercial salt and British cloth. Indians all over the country refused to use goods controlled by the British. They took salt directly from the ocean or caves and wore only cotton clothes they made using the traditional Indian handloom system.
Soon after getting promoted, Śrīla Gurudeva was ordered to go incognito to discover a group of Indian rebels who were using guerilla warfare to attact British soldiers and government buildings. Gurudeva’s superintendent gave him the details of the case and told him, “Find the whereabouts of these terrorists. When you locate them report to us and we will send officers to arrest them.”
Śrīla Gurudeva was not interested in acting against his own countmen and inwardly decided not to participate in this raid, even if it resulted in his own imprisonment. Self-determined, he remained at home for one week, praying to Kṛṣṇa and Rāma to become free from material entanglement. Detachment from worldly life had arisen in his heart since his meetings with the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas.
Gurudeva returned to the police headquarters after his seven-day absence, desiring to resign from his post as an inspector and anticipating severe chastisement. To his surprise, the lieutenant congratulated him, “Great job, the operation has been a success and the criminals are in custody.”
Puzzled to hear this, Gurudeva said, “Actually, I came to give in my resignation papers.”
The lieutenant laughed in surprise, “Why would you want to resign? You perform your work so well. You are an asset to the force. I will not accept your resignation.”
Śrīla Gurudeva meditated on the wonderful nature of divine play and considered the miracle to be another sign that he should leave all material duties and dedicate his life to the service of Bhagavān. In the Gītā (9.22), Kṛṣṇa says, “For those who are always absorbed in thoughts of Me, and who worship Me with one-pointed devotion, I Myself carry their necessities and preserve what they have.”
Since the British administration would not accept his resignation, Śrīla Gurudeva continued to engage in his duties as an inspector, traveling on assignments in Bihar, Bengal, and Odisha. Meanwhile, visits home decreased and his family members became despondent.
Gurudeva performed his duties carefully but his mind was always absorbed in Gaura-Nāiti and Navadvīpa. His taste for the Rāmāyaṇa diminished as his desire to read about the life of Caitanya Mahāprabhu increased. It was as if Caitanya Mahāprabhu and Nityānanda Prabhu were pulling him to Navadvīpa-dhāma, calling, “Why are you still at home? Come. Come soon.”
On a visit to Tiwārīpura Gurudeva met a Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava mendicant from Vṛndāvana. Gurudeva spoke with him about Mahāprabhu and revealed his desire to read about His life. The Vaiṣṇava showed Gurudeva a set of five Hindi books on the life of Mahāprabhu entitled Caitanya-līlāmṛta-laharī and offered them to Gurudeva. Gurudeva was elated and gave the Vaisnava a large donation for the books. Pleased with Gurudeva’s sincerity and service tendency, the Vaisnava invited him to Vṛndāvana before departing on his missionary journey.
Some days later a letter drafted in English arrived for Śrīla Gurudeva from Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja. The letter was addressed, “Dearest Nārāyaṇa.” Śrīla Gurudeva was astonished, “He has called me dearest?” He pored over the letter, relishing every word. In his reply he addressed Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja, “Dear Gurudeva.” Reading this, Acarya Kesarī was also surprised, “He is calling me Gurudeva!” He then sent him a reply with an invitation to come to Navadvīpa-dhāma Parikramā (an annual pilgrimage in the Navadvīpa area for the week preceding the advent of Mahāprabhu).
Gurudeva thought, “Alas! How can I leave? The government will not allow it.” It was 1946 and India was in a storm of revolution and partition as she emancipated herself from centuries of British regime. Śrīla Gurudeva was distressed because the same British government, which sat idly behind secure royal compounds while deep divisions spread throughout the land was now ordering him to thwart the insurrection.
With a heavy heart, Gurudeva took leave from work and returned home. His family worried, “What will happen to us if Śrīman Nārāyaṇa disobeys the government?” But Dhyānacandra Tiwārī, pleased with his grandson, said, “What is the value of fighting against our own country? It would be better to join the revolution and die for a good cause than to defend atrocious principles.”
Śrīla Gurudeva’s superior came to Tiwārīpur and entreated him to return to work, offering an even higher post and pay. Gurudeva said he would consider the offer but at heart he was contemplating the best way to escape material entanglement while praying to Mahāprabhu for deliverance.
To his delight a message arrived from Acarya Kesarī saying, “My dear Nārāyaṇa Tīwarījī, why are you attached to saṁsāra? Do you think this will bring you any happiness? Will any of your family or wealth go with you at the time of death? We are concerned for you. Quickly leave everything and come to Navadvīpa.”
Rūpa Gosvāmī had once written a letter to his imprisoned brother, Sanātana Gosvāmī, encouraging him to leave Rāmakeli to come to Vṛndāvana. In the letter he wrote:
yadu-pateḥ kva gatā mathurā-purī
raghu-pateḥ kva gatottara-kośalā
iti vicintya kurusva manaḥ sthiraṁ
na sad idaṁ jagad ity avadhāraya
Where has Yadupati’s Mathurā-purī gone? Where now is Raghupati’s northern Kośalā? By reflection make the mind steady thinking, ‘This world will not last forever.’
In a similar fashion, Acarya Kesarī wrote to Gurudeva, calling him to Navadvīpa. He included the following two verses:
nityārtidena vittena durlabhenātma-mṛtyunā
gṛhāpatyāpta-paśubhiḥ kā prītiḥ sādhitaiś calaiḥ
Wealth is an unending source of distress; it is challenging to acquire, and is essentially death for the soul. What fulfillment does one actually gain from his wealth? Similarly, how can one gain ultimate or enduring happiness from one’s supposed home, children, relatives, and domestic animals, which are all sustained by one’s hard-earned money?
nāsato vidyate bhāvo nābhāvo vidyate sataḥ
ubhayor api dṛṣṭo ‘ntas tv anayos tattva-darśibhiḥ
That which is subject to change is not eternal; it is transitory and therefore illusory. That which is real is neither fleeting nor subject to change. Seers of truth have concluded thus after careful examination.
Reading the letter, Śrīla Gurudeva was attracted by Śrīla Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja’s evident affection. He became determined to resign and leave home. It was the fall of 1946. Gurudeva considered, “I am doing all this service for the government, but it has no real value. I will distribute God’s love to the world. At home I am only serving a few family members, but in the āśrama I’ll be able to serve all people by giving them the means to attain supreme bliss.”
Orphans suffer because there is no one to take care of them. God is the loving parent of all souls but we have forgotten Him and fallen under the sway of illusion; thus we look for happiness in temporary relations with other bound souls. This kind of happiness is ultimately futile.
Real love and happiness are only present with God. Śrīla Gurudeva knew this truth from childhood. Having seen sādhus spreading pure love to the world he was very pleased and became eager to join their mission.
Pure sādhus do not merely distribute food, medicine, or cloth—this is indeed temporary. Sādhus give soul food—pure love of God.
That night Gurudeva dreamt of Nityānanda Prabhu, who caught his hand and said, “Don’t worry. You will have no more obstacles. Come with Me. Don’t stay here any longer.”
Śrīla Gurudeva went to headquarters the next day and again requested to be released from his government service. “Why do you want to quit?” the superintendent asked. “You have a great future ahead of you. You are one of the top officers in Bihar.”
“I will pursue other business,” Śrīla Gurudeva replied.
“What sort of business are you planning?”
“A business of pure profit.”
The superintendent was amazed at the young man’s determination to escape from his high post. He did not want to release him but considered that if Nārāyaṇa Tiwārī was so intent on leaving, forcing him to remain onboard would only result in lackadaisical discharge of his duties. So, after repeated requests, Śrīla Gurudeva was finally dismissed from his allegiance to the regime. Realizing the blessings he had received from Kṛṣṇa, Gurudeva happily left his high government post and returned to Tiwārīpura for a few days, telling his family he was on leave of absence. He contemplated renouncing home to join the mission of Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja.
One morning in the winter of 1946, Śrīla Gurudeva left his house and walked down the road towards the Buxar train station. He sat under a tree one kilometer away from his home and contemplated whether he should leave home immediately. Undecided, he walked back to his house and continued the day as usual. He followed the same routine for a few days until one morning, while sitting under the tree as the darkness of night began to dissipate, he heard a voice from above: “This is your final test. If you leave now for bhagavad–bhajana, you will never return. But if you tarry longer, you will never escape the shackles of family life.”
Gurudeva looked around. He was alone. He confidently rose and walked to the Buxar train station, where he met a friend who worked there. “Tāiwrīji, where are you going?” his friend asked.
“Don’t worry, brother. I have some important work to attend.” After purchasing a ticket, Gurudeva sent a letter to his father from the local post office and then boarded the train to Navadvīpa-dhāma.
The Tiwārīs anxiously searched for Śrīman Nārāyaṇa when they noticed his unwarranted absence in the morning. Receiving Gurudeva’s letter later that day, the entire household gathered to hear its contents. Paṇḍa Tiwārījī began reading out loud:
“Dear father, I humbly offer my praṇāma. I have left home for bhagavad–bhajana. Please don’t endeavor to find me.”
Paṇḍa Tiwārīji’s voice choked, and Lakṣmī-devī wailed in grief. With difficulty, Paṇḍa Tiwārījī composed himself and continued reading. “There are many siblings who will serve the household. If one leaves to search for Bhagavān—what is the harm or fault? Convey my deep regrets and apologies to mother and the family for upsetting their lives. Kindly forgive me.”
Paṇḍa Tiwarī set down the letter and sank to the floor. Around him, the ladies of the family wept in despair, while the men stood in stunned silence. Śrīla Gurudeva was the light of their home. The news rapidly spread throughout Tiwārīpura, the neighboring villages, and Gurudeva’s workplace. Everyone was shocked and could not believe that such a high-class brāhmaṇa with a large estate and renowned family, who was a state sports champion and a high-ranking officer, would ever leave his worldly life. He had everything, yet he left it all without a trace of attachment.
Srila Gurudeva left his home in Tiwārīpura before dawn and was due to arrive in Navadvīpa, Bengal, late at night. He had not informed Śrīla Bhakti Prajnāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja [otherwise known as Acarya Kesarī or Acaryadeva] of his arrival. God’s eternal associates have an unbreakable heart-to-heart relationship, and hence became apparent to Acarya Kesarī that his beloved disciple would arrive soon. At eleven p.m. he called Sajjana-sevaka Brahmacārī, “O Sajjana, go to the railway station. Nārāyaṇa Tiwārī is coming. He is a tall police officer with a large mustache and is wearing a white suit. Take a lantern and bring him to the temple.”
“Yes, Guru Mahārāja,” Sajjana-sevaka said.
Sajjana-sevaka went to the station and waited for the train to arrive. When it reached the station, he called out through the big crowd of people, “Tiwārījī! Who is Tiwārījī?”
Trains were fairly new in those days and did not run so often. Many villagers traveled on the trains out of curiosity and thus there was a large crowd disembarking. The only light at the station came from square kerosene lamps burning at intervals. Caring only a few possessions in an attache case, Śrīla Gurudeva disembarked and went to the office to ask the authorities how to find Devānanda Gauḍīya Maṭha. Navadvīpa was full of temples and he could go in circles before finding the right one in the dark.
Sajjana-sevaka walked up and down the station platform calling, “Tiwārījī! Who is Tiwārījī? Tiwārījī!”
Hearing his name, Śrīla Gurudeva came out of the station office and noticed Sajjana-sevaka. “I am Tiwārījī. How do you know my name?”
he asked. Sajjana-sevaka looked at Śrīla Gurudeva with wonder. He was tall, with a golden complexion, beautiful blue eyes, a large mustache,
and was wearing a spotless white suit. “My Guru Mahārāja sent me to bring you to our temple,” Sajjana-sevaka explained.
“Who is your Guru Mahārāja?”
“Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja.”
Gurudeva was amazed. “How did he know I was coming? I sent no letter announcing my arrival.”
“Guru Mahārāja knows past, present, and future. He told me you were coming and to bring you to the temple, since Navadvīpa is a large town and it is late.”
Holding forth a lantern, Sajjana-sevaka then led Śrīla Gurudeva to Devānanda Gauḍīya Maṭha. Acarya Kesarī had stayed awake and was pacing outside his room, waiting to meet Nārāyaṇa Tiwārī.
Upon arriving, Śrīla Gurudeva prostrated himself before Acarya Kesarī, who lifted him up and embraced him. Acarya Kesarī was tall, endowed with a grave temperament, and his body was golden and so like butter. Śrīla Gurudeva was also strong and grave, but upon seeing each other, their hearts melted with affection and both began weeping, as if they were meeting their dearest relative after thousands of years.
The relationship between a pure guru and pure disciple is like this. The soul reincarnates from one physical body to another and, although the relationship between kinfolk is temporary, the connection between Śrī Guru and his disciple is eternal. Those attached to worldly relations cannot overcome the material nature and become connected to the spiritual potency; hence, they cannot comprehend the love and affection between transcendental personalities and the suffering they feel in each other’s absence.
Acarya Kesarī was niṣkiṇcana-akiṇcana, without any material desires or possessions, and hence the āśrama situation was modest and simple. Only a few rooms were in the temple at the time: the Deity room, store room, Acarya Kesarī’s room, and a room for the senior disciples of Śrīla Bhaksiddhānta Sarasvatī Prabhupāda who resided in the temple. The brahmacārī disciples of Acarya Kesarī, such as Sajjana-sevaka Brahmacārī and Rādhānātha Prabhu, humbly stayed on the veranda.
Acarya Kesarī took Śrīla Gurudeva to his room and gave him a seat, mahā–prasāda, and a place to sleep next to his bed. They then spoke for some me before resting. Growing up in Bihar, Gurudeva had met with many sādhus and inquired from them about spiritual truths; yet he was never fully satisfied with those he met. He searched to find a pure devotee, but always found something to be desired. However, when he met Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja, he was immediately attracted by the power of his devotion, and naturally surrendered his heart to him. Early the next morning, Gurudeva woke and offered obeisance to Acarya Kesarī, who smiled and said, “You have arrived in the holy abode of Navadvīpa, the place of Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s pastimes. To attain the mercy of the dhāma (holy abode of the Lord), you must worship and offer respects to Gaṅgā-devī. Let us go there together.” Along the way, Acarya Kesarī described the glories of the Gaṅgā as she flowed through Navadvīpa-dhāma.
Gaṅgā-devī is hallowed water flowing from the venerated footbath of the Supreme Lord Viṣṇu. She descended to the Earthly realm from the heavenly abode by the appeals of King Bhagīratha, who begged for her to come deliver his forefathers. In order to decelerate the force of her current, and prevent her waters from shattering the Earth, she descended through the matted locks of Lord Siva at Gaṅgotrī in Uttara-khand, from where her waters still spring. As she flows through India, she circumambulates the nine islands in Gauḍa-maṇḍala, known as Navadvīpa-dhāma, with no desire to reach the ocean.
King Bhagīratha petitioned her, “Please come to the ocean.”
“I all not leave Navadvīpa,” she said. “These nine islands are the abodes of my dear friends, the embodiments of Bhakti-devī: Śrīmatī Rādhārānī and Her eight sakhīs (girlfriends).”
Varuṇa-deva, the personification of the ocean, then came and requested her, “The Ocean will not be purified of contaminations unless you flow there. I need your mercy. If you do not come, I shall come to Navadvīpa to meet with you.”
When Gaṅgā-devī resisted leaving Navadvīpa, the ocean swelled and flooded the land, drawing close to Navadvīpa. Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Siva, and the prominent demigods came and requested Gaṅgā-devī to mercifully bestow a portion of her sacred water to the ocean. She knew that soon Caitanya Mahāprabhu would descend with His associates and perform pastimes in Navadvīpa-dhāma. Her cherished hope was that Mahāprabhu would play in her waters just as Kṛṣṇa had done in the waters of her sister, Yamunā.
Lord Viṣṇu said, “You may stay here and send only a portion of yourself to the ocean. That water will have collected the mercy and foot dust of the Vraja-devīs and will purify the sins that have accumulated in the sea.” Gaṅgā-devī agreed to give a portion of her water and the ocean receded.
Upon reaching the banks of the Gaṅgā at Manipura-ghāṭa, where Mahāprabhu sometimes bathed, Acarya Kesarī and Gurudeva worshiped Gaṅgā-devī with incense, a ghee lamp, and flowers, and respectfully bathed in her sacred water.
Śrīla Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja said, “All desires impeding devotion will be cleansed from the heart of one who worships and bathes in the Gaṅgā here at Navadvīpa while praying for her mercy. Moreover, that person will develop a close relationship with the dhāma.”
Srila Gurudeva ki Jaya! (excerpted from a Bhaktabandhav book publication,“Sri Guru Darshan”. Available from: [email protected] )