Srila Gurudeva spoke after placing Srila Bhaktivedānta Swami Mahārāja in samādhi. “Samādhi means fixed intelligence,” Śrīla Gurudeva said, “or that place where upon going, one’s intelligence becomes fixed. By approaching and taking shelter of a person in samādhi, one’s consciousness becomes clear and pure. Therefore, a samādhi temple is built. The Deity in Hari’s temple is worshiped, and going there one does kīrtana of Hari’s qualities and pastimes. Similarly, when one goes to the samādhi temple, one should recite the glories of the personality placed therein and medatite on his qualities. He then becomes fixed in pure intelligence, freed from the contaminations of the mind, and inclined to perform bhajana. With great respect and care, the divine bodies of mahā-bhāgavata Vaiṣṇavas are protected from the onslaught of time.
“Even the shoes of Vaiṣṇavas are worthy of great respect. Bharata worshiped the shoes of Lord Rāma, saying, ‘These shoes are my all-in-all. They will protect me and provide me with inspiration and instruction.’ Bharata spent his whole life worshiping those shoes, not only for the fourteen years Rāma was exiled in the forest. The objects that come in touch with mahā-bhāgavatas are invested with spiritual potency and should be preserved and honored.
“When Haridāsa Ṭhākura departed, Gaurāṅga Mahāprabhu felt intense pain. He took Haridāsa Ṭhākura’s divine form in His arms and began to dance, saying, ‘Separation from Kṛṣṇa’s devotees is the worst form of suffering! I have lost My greatest treasure! The most valuable thing in this world is sādhu-saṅga! I lost his association, but Haridāsa Ṭhākura’s transcendental body will be here in samādhi to help everyone for thousands of years to come.’”
Śrīla Gurudeva said, “Even today, after 500 years, the samādhi of Haridāsa Ṭhākura is renowned, and those who go on pilgrimage to Jagannātha Purī vis this place, offer obeisance, bhoga, and ārati, and thereby bring auspiciousness upon themselves. Likewise, this samādhi of Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja all be famous throughout the world, and pilgrims will come from all over to bow down here and receive spiritual blessings.”
A commemorate service was performed a few days later. Many ācāryas, Gosvāmīs, and esteemed sādhus were present, along with thousands of Vrajavāsīs and devotees who had come from all over the world. They did not come for a donation or opulent eatables, but for their spiritual welfare. Many ordinary people also came, hearing that clothes, lavish mahā-prasāda, and donations were being distributed.
The lecturers were seated on a stage before the thousands of guests in a field in front of the Kṛṣṇa-Balarāma Temple. When requested to speak, Śrīla Gurudeva addressed the audience: “By the will of Kṛṣṇa, Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Swami Maharaja came to this world and preached everywhere. Now he has gone back to eternal Vraja and met there with Kṛṣṇa and the Vrajavāsīs. If anyone worships and respects him on his disappearance or appearance day, the Vrajavāsīs take notice and say to him, ‘You made such a sweet relation with the conditioned souls, attracting them home to Vraja. Now they are meeting together and begging for your mercy, closeness, and affection. Just see, they are weeping in separation from you!’
“One cannot establish a relationship with the Vrajavāsīs by ordinary sādhana. But simply by observing the festival days of the Vaiṣṇava ācāryas, one becomes related to the Vrajavāsīs and their mercy showers down upon one. This mercy cannot be acquired from millions of lives of severe austerity and sādhana.”
Śrīla Gurudeva concluded, “The mahā–bhāgavata looks on from a distance when he leaves this world to see if his instructions and conceptions are being followed. Hidden from sight, he always helps and protects his disciples, grand-disciples, and anyone who comes in this line or who remembers and prays to him.”
After Śrīla Gurudeva spoke, many ācāryas and paṇḍitas glorified Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja, saying, “Such an amazing worldwide ācārya has never been, nor will be in the future! He preached to all people without consideration of caste or creed, giving rise to bhakti, knowledge of their self, and their relationship with God.”
After the senior Vaiṣṇavas and godbrothers of Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja had spoken, a Western disciple, who was considered close to Śrīla Svāmī Mahārāja, stood up and said, “If anyone wants bhakti or to enter eternal Vraja, he must take birth in the West and do sādhana. Then he will understand the glories of Vraja, and can come here and achieve the perfection of life.”
Hearing this, many Indians in the crowd stood up and shouted, angrily demanding an apology. Śrīla Gurudeva stood up in displeasure and, taking the microphone in his hand, retorted, “Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja took the glories of Śrī Vraja-maṇḍala to the West and taught the Westerners everything they know about bhakti! Did he take birth in the West? The Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi 9.41 states:
bhārata-bhūmite manuṣya-janma haile jāra
janma sārthaka kari kara para-upakāra
One who has taken birth as a human being in the land of Bhārata (India) should make his life successful and work for the benefit of all other people.
Śrīla Gurudeva said, “You must not disrespect the Vrajavāsīs and Vṛndāvana! Your good impressions and sukṛti all be destroyed. However misbehaved they may be, the mother’s children are the object of the mother’s special affection. No matter how much others may endeavor, they cannot attain the same status as the mother’s own children. The mother always thinks of her own children first.
“Whoever takes birth in Vraja-maṇḍala has a natural relation with Vraja. However opposed they may be, you have no right to chastise or punish them. Prabhu will care for them. You will ruin your life by the influence of such madness and pride. Bhagavān never tolerates dishonor to the Vrajavāsīs. Always remember this! However great one may become, even if the world worships him, still, it doesn’t mean he has become the rightful claimant of worship—that is reserved for Bhagavān and the Guru-varga.”
Śrīla Gurudeva endeavored to help this devotee become humble, but after some days the devotee began to chastise and tried to control everybody.
Some of Śrīla Svāmī Mahārāja’s godbrothers were antagonistic and said he had usurped the position and name of his Gurudeva, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Prabhupāda.
Śrīla Gurudeva replied to them, “Those who are real disciples will teach others whatever they learned from their guru. That person who helps everyone by reading the message of the eternal world, inspiring people to follow bhakti, is called guru. What is the fault in that? When a son becomes an adult, his parents arrange for his wedding with the daughter of a good family. It is irrational to say, ‘at boy must not become a father. His father will be the only father.’ Whence did the son’s father come? Likewise, Śrīla Svāmī Mahārāja assimilated the conceptions of Śrīla Prabhupāda and distributed this to the whole world. Others embraced this message and accepted Śrīla Svāmī Mahārāja as their guru. There is no fault if that person who as for the welfare of the entire world is respected by the entire world.”
Those opposed replied, “Why did he take the name ‘Prabhupāda?’ He shouldn’t have done that.”
“The son will be called father,” Śrīla Gurudeva said. “A child will never call his father, ‘Uncle’. Similarly, the disciples of a guru may call their guru ‘Prabhupāda,’ there is no fault in that.”
“That name was respected and reserved for only our Prabhupāda, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura.”
“Yes, this is very good for all of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Prabhupāda’s disciples. But the disciples may call their own guru ‘Prabhupāda’, just as the wife calls her husband ‘Svāmī’ or ‘Prabhu.’ Śrīla Svāmī Mahārāja is referred to as ‘Prabhupāda,’ but you took the other titles of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta, su chas Parivrājakācārya, Oṁ Viṣṇupāda, Aṣṭottara-śata, and Gosvāmī.”
Hearing Śrīla Gurudeva’s words, the curtain of misunderstanding was withdrawn from these devotees’ eyes. Śrīla Gurudeva always spoke the uncompromising truth.
Some days later there was another large festival in honor of Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja. ISKCON management invited the Home Minister of India, Local and District Superintendents of Police, magistrates, and local officials. Śrīla Gurudeva was invited to attend the proceedings.
The Home Minister spoke out of envy and spite, saying, “Today, ISKCON is calling me here because they only preach to the rich, out of their greed for wealth. They do not go to the poor people in the villages. Now that I am a minister, they are inviting me. When I was an ordinary man, they never came to my house or called me. They only respect the affluent, giving no attention to the impoverished. This is not the ideology of our India!”
As the Home Minister paused in his speech, Śrīla Gurudeva stood up and called out, “How dare you speak disrespectfully in the assembly of Vaiṣṇavas! I have something to say in response.”
Śrīla Gurudeva took the microphone and said, “You may be an eminent government minister, and if you have the power, you can take me to jail. But first sit down and listen! I think your parents are not Hindu and do not follow dharma. You must not have been born in a religious family, otherwise, how could you oppose our sacred Indian culture? ISKCON has mercifully invited you here to make your life successful. You never went to any temple or followed the principles of dharma or bhakti. Your parents didn’t teach you any respect for dharma, therefore you are antagonistic and a sense enjoyer!”
Red-faced, the minister jumped up in fury and reached for the loudspeaker, as the crowd clapped and chanted, “Jaya Mahārāja, Jaya Mahārāja!”
“I will answer this!” the minister shouted.
But as the minister took the microphone and began to speak, the lights and power went off, and people clapped and shouted even more. A few minutes later, the generator started running and the minister said, “I’m not opposed to Hindus or Vaiṣṇavas. My parents are dhārmika. In my childhood, I would go to the temple often. I only wanted to say that ISKCON ould prea to all classes of society. And just see, they have called me here only to insult me!”
“To insult you?” Śrīla Gurudeva said. “No! They have called you to purify you and change your inimical lifestyle.”
ThCCe minister angrily came down from the stage and left by car with his staff. Śrīla Gurudeva then powerfully spoke for an hour to all present. The memory of this class became a protective shield for the ISKCON leaders.
Srila Gurudeva ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Sri Guru Darshan”. Available from [email protected] )