Book excerpts Acarya Kesari Part 3: The Departure of Srila Narahari Seva-vigraha Prabhu  

Part 3: The Departure of Srila Narahari Seva-vigraha Prabhu  

On 30 January 1948, Nathurama Godse shot Mahatma Gandhi at the Delhi prayer assembly. On that very same day, ajatasatru pujyapada Sri Narahari Brahmacari Seva-vigraha Prabhu disappeared from this world in Sri Navadvipa-dhama, during the brahma-muhurta hour. At that time, Srila Gurudeva was preaching in the Medinipura area. When he returned to Chunchura on 1 February, he received a telegram from Sri Mahananda Brahmacari with this heartbreaking news, and became stunned like a stone. When his external consciousness returned a short time later, he began to cry, overwhelmed by the piercing separation.

Sri Seva-vigraha Prabhu was one of the foremost disciples and intimate servants of jagad-guru Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada. Our most worshipful Srila Gurupada-padma had a very close friendship with him; they lived together for a long time and served Sri Dhama Mayapura in countless ways. Srila Prabhupada turned over the entire responsibility for Sri Dhama Mayapura to this dear servant and could then preach suddha-bhakti everywhere with a peaceful mind. [After Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance,] Sri Seva-vigraha Prabhu and Srila Gurudeva left Caitanya Matha together and established Sri Devananda Gaudiya Matha in Sri Dhama Navadvipa. Like Srila Prabhupada, Srila Gurudeva entrusted the whole responsibility of Sri Devananda Gaudiya Matha to Sri Seva-vigraha Prabhu and could thus preach peacefully everywhere.

In the first issue of Sri Gaudiya-patrika, the main magazine of the Samiti, Srila Gurudeva wrote an essay entitled Viraha-mangalya, about Seva-vigraha Prabhu. “The torment I feel by not being able to see Sri Gurupada-padma and Thakura Narahari Seva-vigraha Prabhu, who was devoted solely to serving him, mingles with my pen, causing it to falter at every step and proceed so slowly across the page.

“Srila Prabhupada was very pleased to discover his intimate servitor, pujyapada Sri Narahari Brahmacari Seva-vigraha. He handed over the whole responsibility of his beloved akara-matha-raja, Sri Caitanya Matha, to him and happily went to far distant places to preach pure bhakti with full concentration. … O Narahari Da! Your uninterrupted service to Hari, Guru and Vaisnavas will manifest of its own accord in the memory of anyone who takes your auspicious name. You are the embodiment of Srila Prabhupada’s dear-most Sri Caitanya Matha; when we lived with you, we all thought that we were living in the Caitanya Matha. You have performed the ideal service in a way that is supremely blissful and free from anger. This is the sole aim and objective of Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti.”

Srila Gurudeva also glorified his best friend, Srila Narahari Thakura, in his preface to Prabandhavali, which was presented on Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s disappearance day. In that preface he described him as a brilliant star of the Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti who is eternally immersed in the flow of nectar coming from Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura.

Srila Narahari Seva-vigraha Prabhu appeared in the famous Vasu dynasty of the village of Deyada in the Yasohara district of East Bengal. In his early life he and his family were initiated with the sakti-mantra, but he and the majority of his family members were later influenced by Vaisnava association and were initiated into the krsna-mantra, and all began to perform sadhana-bhajana. When his elder brother left this world, Sri Narahari renounced his family and this material world, and took shelter at the lotus feet of jagad-guru om visnupada Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada was pleased with Sri Narahari’s versatile abilities and service mentality, and appointed him manager of Sri Caitanya Matha.

Sri Narahari was like a mother in nurturing the young boys who lived in the matha. Every day he would wake them up, feed them and take care of them. Because of this sweet, affectionate behaviour, the matha residents referred to him as ‘the mother of the Gaudiya Matha’. But everyone, young and old, addressed him as ‘Narahari Da’. He was always chanting sri harinama and was totally absorbed in the various services of the matha. No one knew when he slept and when he woke. Sometimes in the deep night, when everyone else was sleeping, he would sit in his secluded bhajana-kuti and chant sri harinama with vipralambha-bhava (feelings of separation from Sri Sri Radha-Krsna). We have heard that he sometimes used to tie his sikha to a wooden handle high on the wall to force himself to stay awake while he chanted harinama. No matha resident ever saw him become angry. Even if someone needed to be chided for some special reason, he would scold them sweetly while smiling with great affection.

The following incident took place when I [the author] was new in the matha. I was young then, and very energetic. In the morning, the local farmers would bring vegetables, milk and other products from their neighbourhoods to the vegetable market on the street just outside the matha. Sri Seva-vigraha Prabhu and Srila Narottamananda Brahmacari went outside on the side of the road and began to bargain for vegetables for the matha. The farmers were an unruly lot, and they quarrelled about everything. One time one of them struck Narottamananda Prabhu on the head, drawing blood. Hearing the tumult, I came out, and when I saw the blood on Prabhuji’s head, I lost all self-control. I took a piece of bamboo from the courtyard of the matha and hit that insolent farmer on his back so hard that the bamboo broke and the farmer fell to the ground. In a moment, hundreds of farmers assembled and began to create an uproar, threatening to attack the matha. However, pujyapada Sriman Seva-vigraha Prabhu calmly and peacefully settled this difficult situation with great expertise. First, he caught me and locked me up in a room in the matha. Then he confronted the crowd alone, and pacified them all.

Seva-vigraha Prabhu had a very affectionate manner. He went to the home of all sorts of people and spoke hari-katha. He took an interest in people’s happiness and distress, and they endured their difficulties because of his sweet words.

Srila Gurudeva could never forget his dear godbrother. Whenever he remembered Sri Seva-vigraha Prabhu, he became overwhelmed with feelings of separation. Srila Gurudeva named the huge entrance gate of Sri Devananda Gaudiya Matha ‘Sri Narahari Torana’ in Sri Seva-vigraha’s memory. This can still be seen today.

The decision to establish a matha in Jagannatha Puri and the publishing of a monthly transcendental magazine

After the Sri Ksetra-mandala parikrama, Khutiyaji, the respected panda of Puri, as well as many godbrothers, implored Srila Gurudeva to establish a branch matha of Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti in Sri Jagannatha Puri. Srila Gurudeva liked the idea. In 1948, after the week-long Sri Navadvipa-dhama parikrama and Gaura-janmotsava, the prominent members of the Samiti made these decisions at an assembly in the Kolkata matha :

  1. Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti will establish a branch matha in Sri Jagannatha Puri.
  2. Sri Dvaraka-dhama parikrama will be performed in the upcoming month of Kartika.
  3. A transcendental monthly magazine, Sri Gaudiya-patrika, will be published for the next Gaura-purnima, and this will be the main magazine of the Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti.

That very day, Srila Gurudeva began work to fulfil these resolves. He gave instructions to collect a block, a rubber stamp, a three-coloured picture of Srila Prabhupada, a sign board for the Gaudiya-patrika’s office and other items.

During urja-vrata niyama-seva, approximately one hundred and fifty pilgrims, sannyasis, brahmacaris and grhastha-bhaktas participated in the pilgrimage to Dvaraka. The parikrama party first took darsana of the pastime places in Mathura and Vrndavana, then of Sri Govinda, Gopinatha and Madana-mohana in Jaipura and of Galta nearby. Formerly, vedantacarya Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana defeated the Vaisnavas of the Sri sampradaya in a major philosophical debate in Galta and waved the victory banner of the Gaudiya Vaisnavas. In Galta, Srila Guru Maharaja gave a brilliant lecture on Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana and his commentary on Brahma-sutra. He said that Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana Prabhu defeated the opposition by the inspiration of Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, and on the strength of Cakravarti Thakura’s arguments. The mahanta of the Sri sampradaya at Galta-gaddi was extremely impressed by Acarya Kesari’s personality and by his discourse, and had Sri Thakuraji’s maha-prasada served to the entire parikrama party.

From there the pilgrims reached Porbandara via Puskara, Ajmer, Mehasana, Miramgaon, Surendranagara and Dhola. In Porbandara they had darsana of the temple of Sri Sudama Vipra. They then travelled by ship to Venta Dvaraka and visited the temples of Sri Dvarakesaji, Dauji and Rukminiji. The next day, they took the boat Sonavati to Gopi-talaba and Nagesvara Siva, and finally reached Gomati Dvaraka, where the pilgrims had darsana of Sri Dvarakadhisa, Totadri Matha and Gomati Ganga. After that, the pilgrims returned home via Mehasana and Agra.

[CC-by-ND GVP]

Must Read


After taking sannyāsa, Caitanya Mahāprabhu came to Śrī Jagannātha Purī. In the Gauḍīya-sampradāya, sannyāsa means accepting gopī-bhāva and the shelter of the vraja-gopīs. Why then did Mahāprabhu not go to Vṛndāvana? This is an important question. Most people think that Jagannātha Kṣetra is Dvārakā Purī or Vaikuṇṭha. This same Jagannātha Purī (Jagannātha Kṣetra) is known as Nīlāñcala or Nīlācala. Nīlā means blue, and the extra part of a sāḍī that women wear over their heads is known as āṅcala. Who is She whose āṅcala is blue? She is Śrīmatī Rādhārānī. Jagannātha has taken shelter under Rādhārānī’s blue āṅcala. This is the confidential purport of Jagannātha’s residence in Nīlācala. Jagannātha left Dvārakā and His 16,108 queens, thinking, “I will go to Nīlācala. I will seek refuge under Śrīmatī Rādhārānī’s āṅcala. She will take care of Me. No one else takes care of me.” Kṛṣṇa was not happy in Dvārakā. “My queens are always fighting and stealing everything I have.” He thought. “They each have ten sons and one daughter and each of those sons and daughters have ten sons of their own. None of them however, have a soft heart. They are all interested in their own opulence and comfort. They like Me and they respect Me, but they are attached to their family.” Then one day, Kṛṣṇa, along with Baladeva Prabhu and His sister Subhadrā-devī, heard Rohiṇī Mātā glorify the Vraja-devīs. The Vraja-devīs were always in Kṛṣṇa’s thoughts, but till now He had not received the chance to hear about them. Rohiṇī Mātā was speaking vraja-kathā to Kṛṣṇa’s queens, her heart overflowing with love. “She is speaking about the Vraja-devīs?” Kṛṣṇa thought. “I will also hear.” But when this kathā entered Kṛṣṇa’s ears His body melted. Baladeva Prabhu and Subhadrā, who were also listening with Kṛṣṇa from outside the room, also melted. They now wondered where to go.

I am Like His Dog

The Vaisnava may be a disciple of any bona fide Guru, and if he has sincerely taken shelter of the lotus feet of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Nityananda Prabhu, and the Divine Couple—Sri Radha-Krsna; we should honor him. We should try to honor the devotee even if he is not initiated...

End of Katyayani-vrata

The Vraja-devīs performed worship and chanted this mantra everyday, and on this day today Kṛṣṇa Himself came and gave them darshan. Śrīmatī Rādhārānī, the aṣṭa-sakhīs, and nitya-siddha mañjarīs also came on this last day and gave their darshan. This means that they accepted the sādhana-siddha gopīs, and were ready to give them training. Kṛṣṇa arranged this whole situation to make them the eternal servants of the nitya-siddhas. Śukadeva Gosvāmī explained all these glories of kātyāyanī-vrata to Parīkṣit Mahārāja...

Absolute Charm – Govinda-lilamrta

The sakhīs are decorating Śrīmatī after Her abhiṣeka. They give Her a necklace of charming jewels strung with hair from the tail of a yak. If a person wears this kind of necklace, the influence of any bad energy or animosity will not affect one. Some people try to control others or cause harm with the powers of taṅtra and mantra. Kaṁsa has many followers and demons that practice this. There are millions of them, and they always try to disturb the Vrajavasis and Vraja-devīs...


O brother, simply by chanting the names of Kṛṣṇa, one can receive the lotus feet of Rādhikā, and by chanting the names of Rādhikā, one can receive the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa. Thus, I have briefly explained everything by which you will be relieved from the pains of your heart. All other topics are full of miseries and dualities. Txt.1 Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī writes in the Nāmaṣṭaka, “Nārada muni bājāya vīṇā rādhikā-ramaṇa name_Nārada Muni plays his vīṇā, singing the names of Śrī Rādhikā-Ramaṇa.” nārada-vīṇojjīvana! sudhormi-niryāsa-mādhurī-pūra! tvaṁ kṛṣṇa-nāma! kāmaṁ sphura me rasane rasena sadā O life of Nārada’s vīṇā! You are the exhilarating waves on the transcendental ocean of nectar! O condensed form of all sweetness! O holy name of Kṛṣṇa! By Your own sweet will, may You eternally dance on my tongue, along with all transcendental rasa. Before, Nārada Muni chanted God’s holy name. But once Kṛṣṇa appeared in Vṛndāvana, Nārada understood that Kṛṣṇa can never leave His svarūpa-śakti, and he must receive Her mercy; therefore, Śrīmatī Rādhārānī must also have appeared nearby. Nārada came to Vṛṣabhānupura for Śrīmatī Rādhārānī’s darśana, but Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja was hiding Her. Nārada Ṛṣi’s desire to have darśana of svarūpa-śakti was very strong, so somehow he convinced Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja to give Her darśana. He requested Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja to bring the necessary paraphernalia to perform a blessing ceremony. Once Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja had left the room, Nārada Ṛṣi offered sāṣṭāṅga-praṇāma and performed parikramā of Śrīmatī Rādhikā. She gave Nārada Ṛṣi Her darśana and mercy and instructed him to go to the foot of Girirāja Govardhan and there to wait at Nārada Kuṇḍa. She told him to wait there and soon he would understand and witness everything. From that time on Nārada began chanting Rādhā’s holy name. He thought, “I have chanted Kṛṣṇa’s name for millions of years, and now this chanting has produced the fruit of rādhā-nāma.” By chanting kṛṣṇa-nāma, His causeless mercy will manifest as a taste for chanting the name of Rādhā. For that person who chants Her name, Kṛṣṇa will arrange a place in sevā-kuñja with Rādhikā and the mañjarīs. The sādhaka will learn there to serve Her lotus feet. Therefore it should be understood that if one continuously chants kṛṣṇa-nāma, the result will be the blessing of service to Rādhā’s feet. When one chants rādhā-nāma, all of Kṛṣṇa’s nāma, rūpa, guṇa, līlā and mādhurya-mayī sevā will manifest in his heart. Chanting of Kṛṣṇa’s name alone is the same as brahma-upāsanā or the worship of impersonal Brahma. Brahma is not Parameśvara, the Supreme Lord or avatārī, the source of all incarnations. If the Lord is without svarūpa-śakti then He is śakti-hīna or devoid of all power; He is only Brahma. The name Kṛṣṇa implies that He is present with His svarūpa-śakti. Then He is complete and happy. Similarly if someone is not taking shelter at svarūpa-śaktis’ feet, then Kṛṣṇa will never be happy with that person. Kṛṣṇa Himself does ārādhana of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī and also teaches everyone rādhā-upāsanā.

More Articles Like This