One day, Śrīla Gurudeva saw two brahmacārīs fighting in the temple courtyard. They picked up bamboo sticks and struck each other so violently that blood flowed. Gurudeva thought, “Are they devotees or animals?”
Meanwhile, Acarya Kesarī was sitting outside his room within view of the scene, chanting peacefully without intervening. Gurudeva approached Acarya Kesarī and humbly asked, “O Guru Mahārāja, please tell me, why aren’t you rebuking the brahmacārīs for their behavior?”
“That is not my duty,” Acarya Kesarī said. “If they were following me, they would be humble. They are acting like animals. So, why should I worry about them? I am here solely to serve Guru and Gaurāṅga. I will help anyone who comes with a desire to serve, even if they have a bad nature; but if they would rather fight over sense enjoyment, then they should leave.”
Shortly after, the brahmacārīs stopped fighting and approached Acarya Kesarī, each defending his own side and claiming the other was at fault.
“You can go to the police to settle your dispute,” Acarya Kesarī said. “This is not the place for such nonsense. If you want to practice bhajana, I shall help you; otherwise, you can leave immediately.”
Acarya Kesarī was a strict authority and did not tolerate activities unfavorable to bhakti. He was reared in a family that owned and rented vast amounts of land. Entire villages paid their dues to his family. As a young man he often dealt with difficult situations and unruly tenants. Later, while ling in Māyāpura, he was an expert manager of the Gauḍīya Maṭhas. Having a grave disposition,
he never took sides in personal disputes between temple residents.
However, if anyone attacked the temple whatsoever, he became like a lion defending God’s proper. Accordingly, his godbrothers gave him the title Acarya Kesarī, ‘the lion-like preceptor.’
The Devānanda Gauḍīya Maṭha compound included a large field where the devotees cultivated vegetables. In those days, Acarya Kesarī had insufficient funds to construct a fence around the proper.
To protect the land, the brahmacārīs surrounded the area with thorn bushes. Still, buffalos and other animals entered the garden, consuming and destroying the vegetation. Herdsmen would intentionally allow their drove to enter the area. Gurudeva and the brahmacārīs tried repeatedly to protect the track of land, but the herdsmen came late at night while everyone was asleep, allowing the drove to eat everything.
Intending to stop the intruders, Śrīla Gurudeva kept vigil one night. The herdsman arrived at midnight, fully intoxicated and rowdy. To their surprise, Gurudeva drew a large stake and began to drive the buffaloes away. Startled, the herdsman yelled, “Why are you driving our herd away?”
“Why are you destroying our temple’s farm?” Gurudeva shouted back. “I won’t tolerate such unlawfulness!”
Ignoring his questions, the herdsmen assailed Gurudeva. Undaunted, Gurudeva struck them with his stick. The scene became hysterical as the drunken men called out to one another and retreated. The perpetrators returned to their village and instigated their neighbors to defend them. That same night, an angry mob returned and surrounded the temple compound. By this point the police were involved and trailed behind the horde. The commotion roused Acarya Kesarī. After hearing a brief summary of the affair, he told Gurudeva, “Go inside while I talk with the officers.”
Acarya Kesarī approached the head officer who said, “We are here to arrest the man who beat the herdsmen. Hand him over.”
Acarya Kesarī calmly escorted the officers into the compound and offered them seats saying, “Please tell me how one person could fight alone against so many? A large band of these men came with their herds to ravage our land. They come on a regular basis and allow their animals to eat our vegetables. Tonight they were drunk and attacked our brahmacārī when he confronted them. In the midst of the confusion, they beat each other and ran away, shouting like madmen.”
“Where is the man who fought with them?” the officers asked. “We want to see him immediately.”
“First examine these drunken buffalo herders,” Acarya Kesarī said. “Ask them how one man could beat all of them?”
The police questioned the herdsmen and observed their drunken state. Upset by their behavior, the police said, “If you ever come back and disturb this temple, we will beat and imprison you!” They told Acarya Kesarī, “Call for us if they return to disturb you. We will protect the temple.”
At that moment Gurudeva came out of the inner room and introduced himself. The officers said, “Oh! It’s Tārījī! Are you the same distinguished inspector who recently left his post? We have heard about your eminent composure but were never able to meet you.” They were pleased to meet the esteemed Nārāyaṇa Tārī and engaged in friendly exchanges before dispersing the crowd and securing the temple on their leave.
Acarya Kesarī was impartial when the two brahmacārīs had previously been selfishly fighting yet protected Śrīla Gurudeva in this instance because he was defending the temple.
Acarya Kesarī told Śrīla Gurudeva, “One who as against the rules of dharma must pay the consequences; but you must be qualified in order to discipline others. By surrendering to God, your life will be successful; otherwise, you will fail the test during challenging circumstances. When Rāvaṇa stole Sītā-devī from Rāma, Hanumān jumped across the sea and burnt down Rāvaṇa’s city of Laṅkā. This was true humility. Devotees are submissive to Hari, Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, and tolerate all attacks upon themselves, but owing deference to demons is the sign of a coward, not a devotee.”
Acarya-deva concluded, “You never need worry. Kṛṣṇa is protecting you.”
Srila Gurudeva ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the Bhaktabandav book publication, “Sri Guru Darshan”. Available from: firstname.lastname@example.org )