by Subha Krishna das
25th December 2011 and 1st January 2012
We wish our respected readers a happy new year! Over the last two Sundays, we continued discussing Chapter 19 from the Madhya Lila of Sri Caitanya Caritamrta. We heard about how the Lord Caitanya visited Vrindavana and how He sported there in the waters of the Yamuna. The Lord’s ecstasy on seeing the Yamuna was so intense; He plunged into her deep waters. The Lord had to be literally dragged out of the water by the associates who accompanied Him. At this time, a very scholarly devotee named Raghupati Upadhyaya came to see Mahaprabhu. Raghupati Upadhyaya spoke about the glories of Lord Krsna. This pleased Mahaprabhu very much. The Lord asked him several questions, some of which are mentioned below:
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu asked Raghupati Upadhyaya, "According to your decision, who is the foremost being?"
Raghupati Upadhyaya replied, "Lord Syamasundara is the supreme form."
"Of all Krishna's abodes, which do you think is the best?"
Raghupati Upadhyaya said, "Madhu-puri, or Mathura-dhama, is certainly the best."
When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu asked, "Among all the mellows, which do you consider best?"
Raghupati Upadhyaya replied, "The mellow of conjugal love is supermost."
Mahaprabhu was pleased by the answers of Raghupati Upadhyaya, who realised that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Lord Krsna Himself.
Vallabha Bhattacarya was struck with wonder to see Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Raghupati Upadhyaya dance. He even brought forward his two sons and made them fall down at the Lord's lotus feet.
From Vrindavana, the Lord went to Prayaga, accompanied by Vallabhacarya. An ocean of people surrounded Mahaprabhu: they were drawn to Him by His beautiful limbs, His ecstatic sankirtana and His effulgent associates. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu went to a place called Dasasvamedha-ghata. It was there that the Lord instructed Sri Rupa Gosvami and empowered him in the philosophy of devotional service. What were His instructions to Srila Rupa Gosvami? They were the very essence of the science of bhakti. These instructions are known as Sri Rupa Siksa. They were imparted to Rupa Gosvami over a period of ten days. The subject matter of these instructions is so exalted that it furnished Rupa Gosvami with material to author several wonderful books on the science of bhakti. Sripad Vaikhanas Maharaja spoke briefly about the glories of Srila Rupa Gosvami. Rupa Gosvami’s only preached what he practised himself. He exemplified the highest possible renunciation, living only on some dry bread and fried chickpeas. Rupa Gosvami was perpetually absorbed in the transcendental lilas of Their Lordships Sri Sri Radha Krsna in Goloka Vrindavana. Mahaprabhu placed Rupa Gosvami in the care of Svarupa Damodara Gosvami(Lalita sakhi). The instructions of the Lord to Rupa Gosvami at Prayaga will form the subject matter of our following Sunday lectures.
December 18th, 2011
June 26, 2011
This Sunday, we celebrated our second annual Ratha Yatra. Please check the homepage of our website to read a report of the Ratha Yatra festival.
May 29, 2011
May 22, 2011
Today is the disappearance day of Sri Raya Ramananda. Sri Raya Ramananda is an elevated personality in Gaura Lila. He is none other than Visakha Devi, the dear most sakhi of Srimati Radhika. The topic of discussion today was Sri Raya Ramananda Samvada which forms part of Sri Caitanya Caritamrta; it is considered one of the panca bhutas(five life airs) if Caitanya Caritamrta. Sri Rämänanda Räya was the governor of the southern regions of the kingdom ruled by the heroic Orissan King Mahäräja Pratäparudra. Residing in Vidyänagara on the banks of the holy river Godävari,(present day Kobüra, Räjamundari, in Andhra Pradesh) he performed his administrative duties. While Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was on His tour of South India, He met Sri Ramananda Raya on the banks of the river Godavari when He went to take His early morning bath. When the two personalities saw each other, they were struck with wonder and amazement. Later that day, Raya Ramananda dressed in ordinary clothing and went to see Mahaprabhu. And so on the banks of the river Godavari, Mahaprabhu ordered Ramananda Raya to speak on the ultimate goal of human life and the means to attain it.
Initially Ramananda Raya suggested varnasrama as practised by ordinary persons to be the ultimate aim. Mahaprabhu asked him to speak further. Then, Ramananda Raya suggested Jnana-sunya Bhakti as the ultimate goal; Mahaprabhu was somewhat pleased but asked him to speak further on the subject of Bhakti. Ramananda Raya successively described devotion in the moods of servitude, friendship, parental affection and finally the love of a female beloved of Krsna. He established Madhurya Bhakti as the highest form of Bhakti. This pleased Mahaprabhu greatly. Ramananda Raya continued speaking on the orders of Mahaprabhu and when their discussion came to a close, Mahaprabhu revealed to Ramananda His Raya Rasa-raja Mahabhava svarupa- His own true identity as Sri Krsna covered by the sentiments and complexion of Sri Radha. Sri Raya Ramananda Samvada is essential reading for every Gaudiya Vaisnava as it discusses Bhakti tattva. To newcomers, it reflects the exaltedness of the Gaudiya Vaisnava philosophy. Please attend our next Sunday class in which we will continue discussing this sublime text.
May 1, 2011
This Sunday we discussed the glories of Kesava Vrata and Gadadhara Pandita. Kesava Vrata is currently being observed in the matha; it involves special worship of Tulasi. Tulasi Devi is known as ‘Kesava priya’ or one who’s very dear to Lord Kesva(Krsna). The Lord only accepts food items if they are offered with Tulasi. Giridhari Prabhu explained in his class the glories of ‘Kesava Vrata’ and the significance of observing it. This Vrata should be observed sincerely in order to please Tulasi Devi; by taking shelter of her, we will obtain the mercy of the Lord. Kesava is the name of Lord Krsna and can mean two things: Kesava, the slayer of the Kesi demon; or Kesava, the One who delights in decorating the hair(kesa) of Srimati Radharani. Srimati Radharani once approached Yogamaya Paurnamasi Devi with the intention of knowing how to please Lord Krsna. The latter advised her to worship Tulasi Devi sincerely; and by following Paurnamasi Devi’s advice and performing Parikrama of Tulasi, Srimati Radharani pleased Our Lord greatly. Tulasi Devi is an expansion of Srimati Radhika Herself.
Tuesday is the Appearance Day of Sri Gadadhara Pandita, who is none other than Srimati Radharani. When the Lord wanted to relish pastimes in the mood of a devotee, Radharani knew He needed assistance. So She appeared as Gadadhara Pandita; Lalita appeared as Svarupa Damodar Gosvami and Visakha appeared as Raya Ramananda. The role of Gadadhara Pandita was also to test the Lord to see how much He was relishing the taste of becoming His own devotee. The intimate pastimes of Mahaprabhu and Gadadhara Pandita are truly amazing and very confidential.
We are having a special Yajna at the matha on the eve of Akshaya Tritiya. The details are available on our website. Please participate with family in the Yajna by making a contribution. Your fortunes will increase many folds. Also, details of the Bhagavata Saptah being held between 10th May and 16th May are on the website. Entry is free for Bhagavat Saptah; please attend with friends and family and receive the blessings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the Vaisnavas.
April 17, 2011
Today Srinidhi Prabhu gave a very scholarly class on the glories of Sri Baladeva Prabhu. Baladeva Prabhu is the embodiment of the Lord's Samvit sakti and is extremely merciful. Baladeva Prabhu always appears alongside the Lord in one form or the other. Baladeva Prabhu manifests the various paraphernalia of the Lord and the dhama in which the Lord performs His lilas or pastimes. In the Rasa dance, Baladeva Prabhu is Ananga Manjari; Baladeva Prabhu appeared in Treta Yuga as Laksmana and in Kali Yuga as Nityananda Prabhu, who is the embodiment of mercy. There are many confidential pastimes related to Sri Baladeva Prabhu. Baladeva Prabhu is non-different from Krsna. Baladeva Prabhu is by nature very humourous and loving and He performs some fascinating pastimes. Srila Gurudeva is quoted as having said that the Srimad Bhagavatam is Baladeva Prabhu Himself. To obtain the mercy of Krsna, one must have the mercy of Baladeva Prabhu.
Starting from the 10th of May next month, we are having a Bhagavat Saptah recital, in which the whole of Srimad Bhagavatam will be covered in a series of lectures over 7 days. The speaker is Sripad Bhaktivedanta Sridhara Maharaja, one of our Gurudeva's most senior disciples. He will be coming from Vrindavan specially to give these lectures. Please do attend with friends and family and obtain the fruit of hearing the essence of all Vedic literature. Further details will follow soon.
April 10, 2011
Today we discussed the glories of Sripad Ramanujacarya, the founder of the Sri Sampradaya and one of the four great acaryas of the Vaisnava tradition- whose apperance day was a few days earlier. Ramanujacarya is an incarnation of Ananta Sesa, the Divine Serpent o which our Lord rests in Sri Vaikuntha. Ramanuja was a not just a great Vaisnava acarya, he was a social reformer as well. He had disciples from all sections of society and did not believe that caste is a barrier in the execution of devotional service. Ramanuja even took siksa from Kancipurna who was of a lower caste by birth. Giridhari Prabhu related some amazing pastimes of this great acarya and in the context of the life of Ramanuja, he explained the need for surrender and service unto the lotus feet of the Vaisnavas, who are a veritable treasure-trove of love and mercy. Mahaprabhu adopted the principles of surrender and service unto the lotus feet of the Vaisnavas from the Sri Sampradaya; in addition, Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada accepted a total of 108 principles of devotional service and Vaisnava etiquette from the Sri Sampradaya. There were readings from Sripad Ramanujacarya's Prapannamrta- a collection of Sanskrit verses glorifying Vaisnavas. Readers interested knowing more about the glories of Ramanujacarya, can follow this link...
April 3, 2011
Today, Swami BV Vaikhanas spoke on the glories of Sri Caitany Mahaprabhu. The readings were from a small booklet entitled, ‘The Speciality of the Gift of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’, the contents of which were personally penned down by our most worshipful Gurudeva on the eve of the 500th Appearance Day of Lord Caitanya in 1986. This booklet explains the special gift of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in this Age of Kali. Eight important points are laid out, which explain in a nutshell, the contribution of Mahaprabhu, the most important of which is ‘unnataujjvala rasa’. Mahaprabhu also expounded the concept of acintya-bhed-abheda tattva which preaches simultaneous oneness and difference from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Mahaprabhu is non-different from Lord Krsna, but He is in the mood and complexion of Srimati Radhika. Some mundane people consider Lord Caitanya to be a social reformer; some consider Him to a great devotee of Krsna and yet others are non-convinced of His identity or His divinity. While persons in the first two cases might be right to certain extent, they are unable to comprehend the speciality of the Lord. Only devotees in the Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya studying under the care and guidance of a bonafide spiritual master can fathom the greatness of Mahaprabhu and what He came to gave and how freely He gave it without any consideration of caste, class etc. The illusory potency of Lord Krsna keeps those unfit for spiritual realisation in a confused state, while on the other hand, the Lord’s devotees relish His transcendental pastimes. We must remain convinced that Mahaprabhu is extremely munificent; He gave what no other incarnation had ever given in full- Krsna prema.
To understand the subject matter of Mahaprabhu’s contribution to Bhakti, we welcome you to our matha to listen to discourses on the topic. We also have a wonderful collection of books that explain the glorious pastimes of Mahaprabhu and the reasons fro His descent. Though the subject matter might seem difficult to understand at first, by constant hearing and listening, it is understood.
Between the 23rd and 1st of May we have arranged Bhagavat Saptah. The speaker is Sripad Bhaktivedanta Sridhar Maharaja from Vrindavan: a very senior disciple of our Gurudeva and a stalwart authority on Gaudiya Vaisnava philosophy. The lectures will be between 6 pm and 9 pm on the dates mentioned. Please attend with friends and family and spread the love of Lord Krsna! Check back for additional details.
March 19 and 20, 2011
On the 19th we observed Gaura Purnima, the appearance day of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu: our programme started at 4 pm and went on till 9 pm; abhiseka of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was performed and there was ecstatic sankirtan. The following day, we observed the Festival of Jagannatha Misra and a grand feast was served. Please read our 'Gaura Purnima Report' to know more about the the programme on these days.
March 13, 2011
This Sunday programme saw the continuation of our discussion on the glories of Sri Navadvipa Dhama. Giridhari Prabhu lectured in Hindi and English on the glories of the holy Dham. Today, our Parikrama party is performing Parikrama of Godruma Dvipa in Navadvipa. Navadvipa has nine islands; each of these stands for one of the nine limbs of Bhakti as detailed in the priceless Srimad Bhagavatam, starting with sravanam, kirtanam, smaranam etc. the nine islands of Navadvipa are as follows: 1) Antardvipa, which includes Sri Mayapur (atma nivedanam-surrendering everything); 2) Simantadvipa (sravanam-hearing); 3) Godrumadvipa (kirtanam-chanting); 4) Madhyadvipa (smaranam-remembering); 5) Koladvipa, where our Kesavaji Gudiya Matha is situated (padasevanam-serving the lotus feet); 6) Ritudvipa (arcanam-worshipping); 7) Jahnudvipa (vandanam-praying); 8) Modadrumadvipa (dasyam-being a servant); and 9) Rudradvipa (sakhyam-being a friend). When you do Gaura Mandala Parikrama you visit each island in the order that is listed. Giridhari Prabhu explained the ten offences to be avoided while performing Parikrama in the Holy Dhama; the ten offences are as follows:
1. To have conlenpt or disrespect towards the guru who is the revealer of the Holy Dhama.
2. To think that the Hofy Dhama is temporary.
3. To comriit violence towards any of the residents of the Holy Dhama, or to any of the pilgrims who come there, or to think that they are ordinary mundane people.
4. To perform mundane activities while living in the Holy Dhama.
5. Earning money by, and making a business of Deity worship and chanting the holy name.
6. To think that the Holy Dhama belongs to some mundane country or providence such as Bengal, or to think that the Dhama of the Lord is equal to a Holy place • connected with some Demigod, or To attempt to measure the area of the Dhama.
7. To conrmiit sinful acts while in the Dhama.
8. To consider Vrndavana and Navadvlpa different.
9. To blaspheme the sdstras which glorify the Holy Dhama.
10.To be faithless and to think that the glories of the Dhama are imaginary.
So we must be careful to avoid these offences while performing Parikrama. It should be noted that whilst in previous Sunday diary entries there is mention of offences as not being an impediment in the Holy Dhama, ‘offences’ refers only to those offences committed unknowingly. Offences committed knowingly are sure to bring adverse effects. Therefore, we must remain very careful while residing and performing Parikrama in the Dhama; and this is true in general, too. Giridhari Prabhu explainedthe essence of a lecture our beloved Srila Gurudeva gave in 2002:
“In Bharatavarsa, Gauda-bhumi is the most superior place, and Gauda-bhumi includes five tracts of land. For example, the first is the land between the Yamuna River and the Sindhu Rivers, in Punjab; the land between the Ganges and the Yamuna rivers, Kanyakubja, is the second; and the land passing through Ayodhya, between the Ganges and Gomati rivers where Salagrama is found, is the third Gaura. The place in which Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu took birth is the fifth Gauda, and therefore, among the five Gauda-bhumis, Navadvipa is the best place.”
We are greatly indebted to Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura for so nicely explaining the superiority of and reviving the Holy Dhama, the glories of which were deaf upon the years of the residents of the Dhama until Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s clear exposition of the true identity of the Dhama in his writings. The bhajan kutira of Bhaktivinoda Thakura is situated in Godrumadvipa.
Next Saturday is Sri Gaura Purnima, the auspicious beginning of the new year for Gaudiya Vaisnavas and the day on which Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu descended into the material world over 500 years ago. Please join us in the Matha for our evening programme which begins at 4 pm. There will be abhiseka of the deities and ecstatic sankirtan. On Sunday will be the feast of Jagannatha Misra. Please join us on both days with family and friends.
March 6th, 2011
This Sunday programme was in many senses an extension of our discussion last week, viz. the glories or mahatmya of Sri Navadvipa Dhama, the Parikrama of which is set to begin on the 13th of this month. Swami BV Vaikhanas spoke from Chapter 4 of the Navadvipa Dhama Mahatyma book which we commenced reading last Sunday. He described from the book the actual arrival of Srila Jiva Gosvami in Navadvipa. Jiva Gosvami had been travelling a long distance to arrive at the holy Dhama and finally when he arrived, his body thrilled all over and he experienced intense ecstasy and fell down in a deep swoon. He smeared the dust of the Dham on his body and experienced transcendental bliss. The pious residents of Navadvipa knew that Jiva Gosvami was no ordinary personality: his body displayed auspicious signs. When Nityananda Prabhu was informed of the arrival of Jiva Gosvami, the former let out a laugh. He was glad the Jiva Gosvami had finally arrived in Navadvipa and that they could now inaugurate the first Parikrama of the Dhama. We must realise the need for Srila Bhaktivinod Thakura to have written this book in the first place. Although only 400 years had elapsed since Mahaprabhu’s disappearance from the manifest world, people of the Dhama were losing faith in its spiritual identity and Parikrama was hardly ever performed and even if it was, it was without devotion. Perceiving the great dangers arising from such thinking, Bhaktivinod Thakura wrote this jewel of a book from his intimate realisations. It was Bhaktivinod Thakura, again, who re-established the prominent pastime places of our Mahaprabhu. We further heard about the meeting between these two transcendental personalities: Nityananda Prabhu and Srila Jiva Gosvami. It is said that during Parikrama, sections pertaining to the glories of each pastime place are read from this book in Bengali by devotees. So please join us for Navadvipa Dhama Parikrama between the 13th of March and the 20th of March.
Sri Navadvipa Dhama ki jaya!
February 27th, 2011
These days there is a very important subject of discussion at the math. What is it, you’re wondering? The upcoming Navadvipa Dhama Parikrama: the circambulation of the nine islands where Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu performed His divine pastimes just over 500 years ago. And so not surprisingly, this Sunday we discussed Sri Navadvipa Dhama and its glories. After some ecstatic sankirtan, Venugopal Prabhu gave class on the glories of Navadvipa Dhama with readings from a wonderful book named ‘Navadvipa Dhama Mahatmya’ or ‘The Glories of Navadvipa Dhama.’ In this book by one of our prominent acaryas, Srila Bhaktivinod Thakura, the greatness of these nine Islands is described. The book referred to above contains only the ‘Parikrama Khanda’ of the original work. The first parikrama of Navadvipa Dhama was performed by Sri Nityananda Prabhu along with Srila Jiva Gosvami. Srila Jiva Gosvami lamented that he could not relish the manifest pastimes of Mahaprabhu; Sri Nityananda Prabhu consoled him by taking him on a Parikrama of Navadvipa and showing him the pastime places of Mahaprabhu. The book details the conversation between these two great personalities. Visiting the pastime places of the Lord and feeling separation from Him there is an uplifting experience in itself. Navadvipa is non-different from Sri Vrndavan Dhama. Every Island corresponds to one of the nine limbs of bhakti described in the Srimad Bhagavatam starting with sravanam, kritan, smaranam, aracanam, vandanam, sakhyam, dasyam, padasevanam and atmanivedanam. Whilst Vrndavana Dhama is meant for the most advanced souls, Navadvipa is true shelter for devotees seeking to advance in spiritual life. In Navadvipa Dhama, one’s offences are overlooked in the light of one’s devotion; the same is not true of Vrndavana. Does that mean that Navadvipa grants devotees the freedom to commit any offence and escape from their reactions? Certainly not. The forgiving of offences committed in this Dhama is an incentive to sadhakas or aspirants. Offences have the potential to ruin one’s spiritual advancements. When we perform parikrama with a mood of humility and surrender, the Dhama rewards us by cleansing us of our offences or aparadhas. The pastime places in Vrndavan are also present in Navadvipa in a hidden fashion; hence Navadvipa is known as ‘Gupta Vrndavan’ or ‘Hidden Vrndavan.’ The aforementioned book makes some statements about Navadvipa which might seem like exaggerations, but the realisation of these statements is only possible when one actually resides in Navadvipa. Just as the taste of the fruit is not to be had upon the mere sowing of the seed, so also the benefits of having visited Navadvipa Dhama and performing parikrama become evident only when one concludes parikrama.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, by his divine insights, revived the pastime places of the Lord in Navadvipa just under a century and a half ago. These pastime places are still to be seen today and to the spiritually enlightened, they reveal their innermost secrets. So what are you waiting for? Please join us for Sri Navadvipa Dhama Parikrama which starts on 13th March and goes on till 20th March. Let the book ‘Navadvipa Dhama Mahatmya’ be your guidebook to bhakti and parikrama be your actual experience of Bhakti. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for details about transportation and accommodation.
February 20, 2011
This Sunday programme was a celebration of the glorious pastimes of our parama-gurudeva or in other words, the guru maharaja of our beloved Gurudeva Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja. Parama-gurudeva’s actual appearance day is tomorrow, but we celebrated his wonderful life and pastimes today. Vaisnavas are a veritable treasure trove of mercy and our parama-gurudeva was one such great Vaisnava. The following verse in our prayer sequence is dedicated to him:
namah om visnupadaya acarya simha rupine
srimad bhaktiprajnana kesava iti namine
“I offer my humble obeisance unto Srila Bhaktiprajnana Kesava Maharaja, the lion-like acarya who never fears anything, having taken shelter of Lord Krishna.”
The Vaisnavas are also celebrated in this verse:
kripa-sindhubhya eva cha
vaisnavebhyo namo namaha
"I offer my respectful obeisances unto all the Vaisnava devotees of the Lord. They are just like desire trees who can fulfil the desire of everyone. They are oceans of mercy and are the purifiers of the fallen souls."
In the first verse quoted above, there is description of parama-gurudeva as ‘acarya simha rupine’ or ‘lion-like’ acarya. Why? Srila Bhaktiprajnana Kesava Maharaja was a fearless preacher of Gaudiya Vaisnavism. He was among the most intimate disciples of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Thakura Prabhupada and was very dear to Prabhupada. Giridhari Prabhu gave class today with readings from a book by our Gurudeva entitled ‘Acarya Kesari Sri Srimad Bhaktiprajnana Kesava Gosvami - His Live and Teachings’. Born in an aristocratic zamindar family, Srila Bhaktiprajnana Kesava Maharaja had little taste for the pleasures of this world and met Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada in 1915 during the annual Navadvipa Parikrama in West Bengal. Parama-gurudeva immediately took shelter of Prabhupada. His aunts had the distinction of being the first two female disciples of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada. Srila Bhaktiprajnana Kesava Maharaja was extremely learned in scripture and could defeat all manner of atheistic arguments and the cut the arguments of the Mayavadis. His astuteness in business and law matters saw him appointed the manager of all Gaudiya mathas during the manifest presence of Srila Prabhupada. His initiated name was Vinod Bihari Brahmacari; he would later become Bhaktiprajnana Kesava Maharaja following sannyasa. Parama-gurudeva rescued Candrasekhara Bhavan in Mayapur: it used to be Muslim cemetery. Candrasekhara Bhavan was where Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu performed some of his childhood pastimes. Following the disappearance of Srila Prabhupada and the subsequent spilt-up in the Caitanya Gaudiya matha, parama-gurudeva went on to found Sri Kesavji Gaudiya Matha and Sri Devananda Gaudiya Matha. He continued preaching and writing and exemplified utmost renunciation. He found an extremely sincere disciple in our Gurudeva and gave him sannyasa. The legacy of parama-gurudeva is his protection of the Gaudiya Vaisnava siddhanta and the training of expert disciples. Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg. To learn more about parama-gurudeva’s pastimes and glories, visit http://www.purebhakti.com/ and navigate to the ‘eBooks & Magazines’ section from where you can download a copy of the book referred to above.
We also performed guru-puja of Srila Bhaktiprajnana Kesava Maharaja and puspanjali in which devotees and guests offered flowers to parama-gurudeva and prayed for his mercy.
Srila Bhaktiprajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja ki jay!
Srila Gurudeva ki jay!
February 13, 2011
Thursday was Advaita Saptami (the appearance day of Advaita Acarya) and today Sripad BV Vaikhanas Maharaja discussed the glories Sri Advaita Acarya. Whenever the Supreme Lord descends to the earthly realm, He is always accompanied by His eternal associates or parsadas. Sri Advaita Acarya is none other than Lord Maha Visnu Himself. Lord Caitanya is always worshipped with the Panca-tattva:
I offer my respectful obeisances unto Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Lord Nityananda, Sri Advaita, Gadadhara Pandita, Srivasa Thakura, and all the devotees of Lord Caitanya.
These Five great personalities appeared with Lord Caitanya: Lord Nityananda, Sri Advaita Acarya, Gadadhara Pandita and Srivasa Thakura. They are all non-different from Mahaprabhu but are best understood as His expansions endowed with inconceivable spiritual energy. In our class we focused on the reason for the descent of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and more specifically on His relationship with Sri Advaita Acarya and the relationship of Sri Advaita Acarya with other members of the Panca-tattva. Maharaja explained how although Sri Krsna is the reservoir of all pleasures, He in unable to relish the deep moods of Srimati Radhika. It is for this reason that Mahaprabhu descended: to taste the mood of Srimati Radhika and experience the transcendental ecstasy She feels in absorption of Sri Krsna. But Srimati Radhika was aware that if Krsna were to descend as Mahaprabhu in His darkish complexion, He would immediately be recognised. She therefore endowed Mahaprabhu with Her golden complexion which is why Mahaprabhu is known as Gauranga. Sri Advaita Acarya appeared in Santipur near Mayapur in Bengal well in advance of Sri Caitanya. Sri Advaita Acarya was a pious soul devoted to preaching Krsna bhakti and Srimad Bhagavatam but He grieved for the piteous state of Vaisnavism in Bengal during His day and the crass materialism that seemed to pervade society like a disease. Even brahmanas were not engaging in devotional activities but chose instead to learn the Vedic literatures in order to earn wealth and live affluently. He prayed to Lord Krsna with intense faith to come and rescue the fallen souls in the age of Kali. Sri Advaita Acarya worshipped Lord Krsna with tulasi leaves and Ganga water. So fervent were Sri Advaita Acarya’s prayers that the very throne of the Lord in Vaikuntha began rocking. It was time for the Lord to descend. Mahaprabhu finally appeared on the auspicious Purnima day. Sri Advaita Acarya was overjoyed and rendered so many services to our Mahaprabhu. The Lord would often use His Yoga Maya potency to conceal His real identity and this was why even Sri Advaita Acarya would not always remain actively conscious of the Lord’s real identity. Sri Advaita Acarya and Nityananda Prabhu would often have friendly arguments. Various pastimes were narrated.
Class was followed by Bhoga Arati and prasadam was served to all. Wednesday, 16 February is Nityananda Trayodasi- the appearance day of our beloved Lord Nityananda Prabhu. Our programme starts at around 8.30 am and will be followed by Ekadasi prasadam. Please do join us with friends and family.
February 6, 2011
This Sunday programme was an extension of our Vyasa Puja celebrations of last Wednesday. Vyasa Puja is a day on which we honour the appearance day of our spiritual master Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja. The programme started with sankirtan glorifying Srila Gurudeva. Sripad Vaikhanas Maharaja then called on devotees to express their heartfelt vak-puspanjali (words like an offering of flowers) to Srila Gurudeva. Sripad Bhagavata Maharaja spoke first on the unique position of Sri Guru and how spiritual advancement cannot be made without the grace of Sri Guru. Maharaja explained the unique contribution of Srila Rupa Gosvami to our Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya. We’re all known as ‘Rupanugas’ – followers of Rupa Gosvami. Rupa Gosvami is glorified in the following hymn:
sthapitam yena bhu-tale
svayam rupah kada mahyam
["I was born in the darkest ignorance, and my spiritual master opened my eyes with the torchlight of knowledge. I offer my respectful obeisances unto him. When will Srila Rupa Gosvami Prabhupada, who has established within this material world the mission to fulfill the desire of Lord Caitanya, give me shelter under his lotus feet?
(Prayer by Srila Narottama dasa Thakura)]
Even though there are so many great acaryas, Srila Rupa Gosvami has been attributed with the honor of being that person who has established the ‘mano-bhistam,’ the innermost heart’s desire, of Sri Krsna in the form of Caitanya Mahaprabhu.. Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja ‘Srila Prabhupada’ is said to have mentioned that Rupa Gosvami built a wonderful framework of devotion within which the whole world could take refuge and live very peacefully. Indeed, in our Sampradaya, this is our strongest belief. The sublime literatures that Srila Rupa Gosvami gave the world are spotless and unparalleled; they contain the most confidential secrets of bhakti or devotion. He wrote Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Ujjvala-nilamani, Vidagdha-madhava, Lalita-madhava, Hansadutta, and many other books. Srila Rupa Gosvami also manifested the highest level of renunciation despite have being born in an aristocratic Brahmin family. We must understand that our guru is the representative of Srila Rupa Gosvami; our devotional offerings go through our guru and the parampara to Rupa Gosvami himself; and through Rupa Gosvami to Sri Mahaprabhu Himself.
Others who also spoke included Aseem Krsna Prabhu and his wife Suchitra Didi. Some devotees who Srila Gurudeva initiated in the month of Kartik last year spoke very fondly of him. Giridhari Prabhu shared some very intimate memories of Srila Gurudeva. He explained that of all his transcendental qualities, there is one quality which is the most special in our Guru Maharaja: karuna (compassion). Indeed, Gurudeva was very compassionate and loving to all his devotees and especially to his brahmacaris who endeavoured to serve him in ever so many ways. Gurudeva was very merciful to all who took shelter of him; he would chastise only when necessary. Though Sri Guru appears to be a mortal person and manifest certain symptoms of ordinary mortals, his position is inconceivable. He is the representative of Sri Krsna and Srimati Radhika.
There was guru puja followed by puspanjali in which all assembled devotees and guests offered flowers to Srila Gurudeva’s picture. This was followed by Bhoga Arati and then a grand feast was served. More than 50 people attended, making the programme a grand success for Sri Madan Mohan Gaudiya Matha. New books of Srila Gurudeva were on display; they are perhaps his best contribution to Gaudiya Vaisnavism. These new arrivals are a must read for anyone interested in our philosophy and movement.
You are welcome to share your memories of Srila Gurudeva if you could not attend our programme or could not speak (enough) due to lack of time. Our tributes section will remain active for some more time. Just send them to email@example.com
Srila Gurudeva ki Jaya!
January 30, 2011
This was a packed Sunday programme, both in terms of its content and attendance. Today is the appearance of our Gurudeva’s beloved godbrother, Sripad Trivikrama Maharaja; it is also Ekadasi. The programme started with sankirtan which lasted more than an hour. Sripad Bhagavat Maharaja gave class and recounted how fondly and highly our Gurudeva held his godbrother. Srila Trivikrama Maharaja joined the Gaudiya Matha a little earlier that our beloved Gurudeva. He took sannyasa along with our Gurudeva and Srila Vamana Maharaja in 1952. The three were so close that our Gurudeva often remarked that they were one soul in three bodies. Such was their spirit of unity!
Srila Trivikrama Maharaja was an expert organiser with a degree in law, yet he manifested the utmost humility. Sripad Vaikhanas Maharaja further glorified Srila Trivikrama Maharaja and explained his deep mood of service and scholarship, both uncoupled with any false ego, or coloured by envy and self-interest. It was explained how Srila Trivikrama Maharaja, out of his utter humility, refused to make disciples or give initiations. He in fact even declined the request of our Parama Gurudeva Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja to accept duties as acarya of the Gaudiya Matha.
Srila Trivikrama Maharaja chose an austere life and would sometimes manifest ecstatic moods, leaving devotees dumbfounded. Giridhari Prabhu also related some interesting pastimes of this great personality in our Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya. Though feared for his frankness, Srila Trivikrama Maharaja was highly respected and was a topmost devotee of Lord Krsna; he also associated with Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja ‘Srila Prabhupada’. All this serves to reinforce the need for association with devotees, sadhu-sanga; and humility despite one’s supposed ‘position’. Sripad Bhagavat Maharaja has been in Bangalore for some time and will be leaving tomorrow for Puri. We are immensely grateful to him for his association and sweet harikatha. Please join us between 8 am and 2 pm for the Vyasa Puja celebration of our beloved Gurudeva’s appearance day on the 2nd of February at our matha. Additional details are available on the website.
January 23, 2011
Today, Sripad Bhagavat Maharaja lectured about chapters nine through eleven of the Bhagavad Gita. He discussed the most important verses, including this most important verse, in which Lord Krsna directly addresses Arjuna:
“Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, become My devotee, offer obeisances to Me and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me.”
(Bhagavad Gita 9.34)
A verse almost identical this occurs in Chapter 18, the chapter concluding the Gita. It says, in other words, that one must take complete shelter of Lord Krsna to make any advancement in devotional life. The Lord is won over only by love or prema. Maharaja explained how Srimati Radhika is the topmost devotee of the Lord, as She is completely immersed in love for Krsna. This intense loving mood of Srimati Radhika was what Lord Krsna, in the form of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, descended to taste. In Chapter 10, Lord Krsna describes how He pervades the entire cosmic manifestation and yet how it is He who is its underlying principle. But Lord Krsna accomplishes all this through only a small expansion of Himself! So then what must be His true glory! Although Arjuna was completely convinced of Lord Krsna’s glories, he was aware that in the future materially conditioned individuals would approach the Bhagavad Gita and be quick to dismiss Krsna’s statements as grandiose claims. Therefore Arjuna asked Krishna to reveal His universal form, or Visvarupa, to prove His Godhood. Krsna obliges and blesses Arjuna with divine eyes for viewing His universal form. The verses describing the universal form of the Lord were read out dramatically by Maharaja and he paused briefly in between to elaborate where necessary. The Visvarupa can be viewed only by one completely surrendered to the Lord and only by His will. The Catusloki Gita (four essential verses of the Gita) were explained. The reading concluded with the eleventh chapter. This was followed by a question-and-answer session in which the importance of good association or sadhu-sanga was emphasised. Maharaja held his audience in attention by his dramatic rendition of the verses and his wonderful (and often humorous) examples. There was a grand feast of Krsna-prasadam distributed to the large gathering of devotees and guests.
What is the Catusloki Bhgavad Gita? Who first received it? And why is the Catusloki so important? To understand these subjects, attend the next Sunday class and don’t forget to purchase the Bhagavad Gita translations of our beloved Gurudeva and Srila Prabhupada from our matha.
January 16, 2011
This week’s programme was special: Sripad BV Bhagavat Maharaja gave hari katha. Sripad Bhagavata Maharaja is a diksa disciple of AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja ‘Srila Prabhupada’ and also a siksa and sannyasa disciple of our beloved Gurudeva Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja. Maharaja lectured on the Bhagavad Gita, one the most sublime scriptures in the sea of Vedic literature. In our Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya as in any other Vaisnava sampradaya, the Bhagavad Gita is a central text used to illustrate the true purport of the Vedic literatures: devotion to Sri Krsna under the guidance of a baonafide spiritual master. Maharaja quoted Srila Prbhupada as having said that the first six chapters of the Gita are the front cover; the last six chapters, the back cover; but the six chapters in between are the very substance and essence of the Gita in which Lord Krsna exhorts Arjuna to surrender to Him unconditionally in a spirit of devotion. Also explained was the significance of associating with devotees and the importance of chanting the Holy Name of the Lord. Indeed, nama sankirtana is the only means of deliverance in the Age of Kali. Maharaja is going to give a series of lectures on the Bhagavad Gita starting from Monday. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to hear the very essence of the Vedic scriptures from a pure Vaisnava! Click the ‘Contact Us’ button for details on how to get to out matha. Please attend with friends and family.
January 9, 2011
Readings resumed from the Brihad Bhagavatamrita of Sanatana Gosvami- annotated and commented upon by our beloved Gurudeva. The sublime exchanges that took place between Maharaja Pariksit and his mother Uttara Devi concerning the principle of unalloyed devotion to Sri Krsna were discussed. We have made our journey with the pious Brahman from the eastern regions of India, to Kasi, and now to Prayag and seen the power of the Gopal Mantra. So what happens at Prayag? Is it the end of the Brahman’s journey? Does he find true devotion to Sri Krsna? Attend the next Sunday class to find out…
January 2, 2011
This was our first Sunday programme for the New Year but sadly also the first Sunday programme after the divine disappearance from this material world of our beloved Gurudeva- Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja. Swami BV Vaikhanas gave a class on the inner meaning of the appearance and disappearance pastimes of great Vaisnava acaryas. He also discussed in brief the unique role and contribution of our beloved Srila Gurudeva to Gaudiya Vaisnavism. The Samadhi ceremony of Srila Gurudeva was recounted in detail to all assembled devotees. There was Guru Puja followed by puspanjali, in which all assembled devotees and guests offered flowers to Srila Gurudeva.
A special flower garland which graced the transcendental body our Gurudeva before he was placed in Samadhi in Navadvipa was placed in front the devotees for them to offer their respects. Prasadam from the Viraha Mahotsava (festival of separation) of Srila Gurudeva held in Navadvipa was distributed to all.