Book excerpts Acarya Kesari Srila Acaryadeva preaching suddha-bhakti in Kolkata and Medinipura

Srila Acaryadeva preaching suddha-bhakti in Kolkata and Medinipura

In 1964, upon the insistent entreaty of Sri Sudhira Kumara Saha, the owner of the famous Bhavani Paper Concern in Kolkata, Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti’s founder-acarya, along with many sannyasis and brahmacaris, observed urja-vrata niyama-seva for one month, at his Kening Street residence. For that month, his home was transformed into Sri Vaikuntha-dhama. Every day mangala-arati ; sankirtana; reading from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Srimad-Bhagavatam and other bhakti literatures; sandhya-arati and other devotional activities took place. Many educated, respected and prosperous persons from Kolkata participated. Srila Gurudeva regularly explained the dialogue between Vasudeva and Narada in the Eleventh Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam. Teachers, lawyers, educationalists, highly posted officials and many others were very attracted when they heard his Bhagavatam lectures, which were full of excellent siddhanta. From time to time, Sripada Trivikrama Maharaja, Sripada Vamana Maharaja and Sripada Narayana Maharaja [the author] also spoke on Srimad-Bhagavatam.
Srila Gurudeva returned to Sri Devananda Gaudiya Matha and from there preached in different regions of Medinipura and inaugurated the temple in Kalyanapura. He also preached sanatana-dharma in Sabadavede Jalpai and other places. Sri vyasa-puja was held with great pomp and ceremony in his presence in Khamati-grama.

In the next year, 1965, after Sri Dhama parikrama and Sri Gaura-janmotsava, Srila Acaryadeva went to Sri Siddhavadi Gaudiya Matha with many sannyasis and brahmacaris and there he laid the foundation stone for sri mandira. After returning, he preached for a month in Goloka-ganja, Bangoi-grama, Mathabhanga, Sitala Kuci, Siligudi and other places in Assam, and then returned to Sri Uddharana Gaudiya Matha, Chunchura.

Preaching suddha-bhakti in Sri Mathura, Vrndavana, Lukhnow and Kasi

During kartika-vrata niyama-seva in September and October 1966, Srila Acaryadeva performed the eighty-four krosa Sri Vraja-mandala parikrama with many pilgrims. First of all, Srila Acarayadeva went to Sri Kesavaji Gaudiya Matha, where Sri Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja [the author] and Sri Bhaktivedanta Muni Maharaja offered him garlands and sandal paste in a grand reception. Srila Gurupada-padma entrusted the responsibility of the parikrama to Sripad Harijana Maharaja and took rest in Sri Kesavaji Gaudiya Matha for a month. Afterwards he went to preach in Lukhnow, Prayaga, Varanasi and Gaya with Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja [the author] and a few brahmacaris, and then returned to Chunchura.

While Srila Gurupada-padma was staying in Sri Kesavaji Gaudiya Matha in Mathura, many educated people of the city came to hear his hari-katha. Among them, the principal of Sri Mathura Caturveda College, Sri Gaya Prasada Saksena (Employment Exchange Officer) and Sri Pitambara Pantha (SDOMES) are particularly worth mentioning. In Lukhnow Srila Acaryadeva accepted Sri Pitambara Pantha’s special invitation and for three days stayed at his residence with some sannyasis and brahmacaris, and then left for Kasi. While there he collected the Veda (the original scripture of the science of transcendental sound vibrations), some rare sacred literatures and a large brass bell weighing two maunds (about eighty kilos) for the matha in Navadvipa. After staying in Kasi for three days, he returned to Sri Devananda Gaudiya Matha.

Srila Acarya Kesari in Sri Caitanya Gaudiya Matha, Kolkata

From 26 January to 1 February 1967, there was a large annual week-long festival at Sri Caitanya Gaudiya Matha in Kolkata. The new temple and temple room were inaugurated with a great celebration during this time. Nitya-lila-pravista Sri Srila Bhakti Dayita Madhava Gosvami Maharaja was the president and founder-acarya of Sri Caitanya Gaudiya Matha and its branches in India. He personally went to invite our worshipful Srila Gurudeva and other Gaudiya acaryas to participate in this big therefore, many of jagad-guru Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada’s sannyasis took part. Some of the prominent sannyasis among them are mentioned here:

  1. Parivrajakacarya tridandi-svami Srimad Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja;
  2. Parivrajakacarya tridandi-svami Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Maharaja;
  3. Parivrajakacarya tridandi-svami Srimad Bhakti Bhudeva Srauti Maharaja;
  4. Parivrajakacarya tridandi-svami Srimad Bhakti Sarvasva Giri Maharaja;
  5. Parivrajakacarya tridandi-svami Srimad Bhakti Pramoda Puri Maharaja;
  6. Parivrajakacarya tridandi-svami Srimad Bhakti Kamala Madhusudana Maharaja;
  7. Parivrajakacarya tridandi-svami Srimad Bhakti Aloka Paramahamsa Maharaja;
  8. Parivrajakacarya tridandi-svami Srimad Bhakti Vikasa Hrsikesa Maharaja;
  9. Parivrajakacarya tridandi-svami Srimad Bhakti Prapana Damodara Maharaja;
  10. Parivrajakacarya tridandi-svami Srimad Bhakti Kumuda Santa Maharaja.

Paramapujya tridandi-svami Srimad Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja performed the inauguration of the newly constructed temple and temple room. Pujyapada tridandi-svami Srimad Bhakti Bhudeva Srauti Maharaja and pujyapada Bhakti Pramoda Puri Maharaja performed the installation of the deities, the Vaisnava homa-yajna and other ceremonies.
Every evening for three days, religious assemblies were held which were attended by learned audiences. Paramaradhya Srila Gurudeva gave three lectures filled with tattva-siddhanta on ‘The necessity of matha and mandira’, ‘The teachings of the Gita’, and ‘Yuga-dharma’. Each day a different dignitary chaired the assembly: the honourable Sriyuta Dipanarayana Simha (Kolkata High Court’s main judge), Sri Sambhunatha Banarji (Kolkata University’s former vice-chancellor) and judge Sriyuta Paresanatha Mukharaji.

Srila Acaryadeva said in one of his lectures, “The leading judge of the High Court of Bengal is present here at this religious conference. The fact that he is present in the matha and mandira is proof of the necessity for their existence. The authors of our smrti-sastras say that it is not proper to reside where there are no matha-mandiras.

“Nowadays many people question whether one will get food just by calling out to Krsna. This country can never be prosperous as long as this materialistic point of view persists. Modern politics are devoid of siddhanta and religious belief. In ancient times, the country was ruled according to the codes and rules drawn up by the sages. Today our country disregards these rules and has taken up western teachings. It is very sad that society allows the slaughter of cows and other animals and the consumption of alcohol, and that dharma has no place in the constitution of the nation. It is also unfortunate that this constitution makes no provision for religious people. On the contrary, religious people are faced with anxiety and inconvenience for no reason.

“It is easy for anyone to understand that the sadhus’ renunciation is a great help to the country. The government has not yet been able to solve the problem of unemployment. No one can tell how many more thousands of unemployed people there would be if all the highly educated persons presently residing in mathas were to move back into society and seek employment, whether in service, business or agriculture. If they wanted to take up farming, there would not be enough land to accommodate them.

“These days the suicidal and self-destructive teaching, ‘aham brahmasmi – I am brahma, the Supreme Absolute’, is being disseminated in many mathas, mandiras, missions and sevasramas. This is turning the public into atheists opposed to dharma.”

The audience listened very eagerly as Srila Acaryadeva, a fearless speaker of the impartial truth, expressed his revolutionary views. His brilliant lecture went on for almost one hour, after which other speakers also presented their views. When the assembly ended, all the sannyasis and brahmacaris of Sri Caitanya Gaudiya Matha came to Srila Acaryadeva’s lotus feet‚ praising his views and asking questions concerning the philosophical conclusions of bhakti.

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Then the sakhās came and asked Kṛṣṇa, “Sakhā, tell us, where did this Gaṅgā come from? We can’t believe this is the real Gaṅgā. You are very clever. Instead of sleeping last night, You made a dam and stocked water from all the drains and nearby ponds, and in the morning, opened the dam and are now telling us this is the Gaṅgā. You are cheating everyone. Gaṅgā is the water from the feet of Bhagavān. Show us the flow from Bhagavān’s feet, and then we will believe You are speaking the truth. You can cheat the old men of Vraja, but not us.” “Fine,” Kṛṣṇa said. “You want to see, come with me.” Kṛṣṇa went with the Vrajavāsīs to the top of the hill and showed them Harideva, present with four hands. From His feet, Gaṅgā was flowing down into Brahma-kuṇḍa and from there to Mānasi-gaṅgā. At that time, Girirāja Govardhana was twenty-one kilometers long and seven kilometers high. Taking the opportunity, Girirāja Govardhana also took bath, sinking down at that place into the water of Mānasi-gaṅgā. Seeing Gaṅgā-devī, a doubt came in Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s mind. “From where did Kṛṣṇa bring her?” She thought. The sakhīs angrily came to Kṛṣṇa and said, “You are a big cheater!” “How did I cheat? What did I do wrong? Did I not satisfy everyone by arranging for Gaṅgā to come?” “Where has she come from? She has many names and forms, so what is her name here?” “Her name is Mānasi-gaṅgā,” replied Kṛṣṇa. “Oh, now we understand,” the gopīs said. “Your mind is very restless. You have room for Gaṅgā in Your mind, but not for us.” A girl is jealous seeing her lover being attracted to another girl. Similarly, Śrīmatī Rādhikā and the gopīs now felt great jealousy, for which there seemed to be no solution. The gopīs said, “Your mind has place for another and not for us. You have cheated us all.” “No, I like you,” Kṛṣṇa replied. “You are all My beloveds.” “These are just words. Your mind had room for Gaṅgā and therefore she manifested from Your mind. Thus You have called her Mānasi-gaṅgā.” Kṛṣṇa is always defeated by the Vraja-devīs. He thought, “Finding a solution for the sakhās was not a problem, but how to solve this? If on one hand I say, ‘In my mind I have no place for Gaṅgā,’ then I will be a liar, and if I say, ‘She resides in my mind,’ then the gopīs will be angry and say ‘From where has this step wife come.’ ” Kṛṣṇa then said, “Gaṅgā-devī came from the dreadlocks of Siva Ṭhākura.’ ” “Śiva Ṭhākura is in Kailāsa, so how did Gaṅgā get here?” the gopīs asked. “Śiva Ṭhākura is present nearby.” Kṛṣṇa then took the gopīs for darśana of Śiva Ṭhākura, who He had invoked and requested to stay on the bank of Manasi-gaṅgā as Cakleśvara Mahādeva. Seeing Śiva Ṭhākura, the gopīs became slightly pacified. Kṛṣṇa then called Gaṅgā-devī before the gopīs, who came and said, “I am only the water that washes His feet. I am a servant and not His beloved. But you are His dearest, most beloved gopīs.” On Kṛṣṇa’s indication, Gaṅgā-devī went to Śrīmatī Rādhikā and, bowing down, she said, “I am also Your maidservant.” Hearing Gaṅgā’s supplication, Śrīmatī Rādhikā accepted Gaṅgā as Her sakhī, and all the gopīs became happy and their jealousy was finished. Why was Kṛṣṇa merciful to Gaṅgā? Why did He summon her to Vraja? Kṛṣṇa used to play in the Yamunā with His sakhās and sakhīs. Beholding this great privilege of her younger sister Yamunā, Gaṅgā-devī became overpowered by a strong desire to also serve Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa by her waters. She expressed her desire to Yamunā and begged for her help, who then requested Kṛṣṇa to bestow His mercy on her elder sister, Gaṅgā-devī. Thus, on Makara Saṅkrānti, Śrī Kṛṣṇa summoned Gaṅgā-devī to Vraja and blessed her by bathing in her waters with all the Vrajavāsīs.

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