Srila Bharati Maharaja glorifies
Srila Bhakti-Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja
Kolkata, India: February 28, 2013
Submitted by Syamarani dasi
For two months at the beginning of this year, along with continuing my regular publication work for Srila Gurudeva, I had the good fortune by his mercy to be allowed to follow his friend, Srila Bhakti-vijnana Bharati Maharaja. This took me to Pune, Bombay, Puri, Kolkutta, and Mayapura, where I could attend so many of Srila Maharaja’s question/answer darsans, evening classes, tulasi parikramas, and afternoon walks. In the course of his morning darsans in Kolkata came the auspicious appearance day of our parama-gurudeva Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja, and on that day Srila Maharaja spoke an atom of his glory. The sound file of Srila Maharaja’s darsana was transcribed by Govinda-priya dasi, and in honor of Srila Bharati Maharaja’s appearance day today, the transcription was edited by Radhika dasi with the kind assistance of Srila Maharaja’s sevakas, BK Damodara Maharaja and Sanatana dasa.
Today is the very sacred appearance day of my siksa-guru Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja.
Srila Kesava Maharaja made his divine appearance in the village of Vanaripada within the district of Varisala, Bangaladesh. He belonged to a family of very wealthy zamindar landlords. When he was very young, his paternal aunts Sarojini and Priyatama brought him to meet Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. We generally hear more about Sarojini because Priyatama left her body early on.
When Srila Kesava Maharaja came to Srila Prabhupada, he was given the service of taking care of all the court cases and many other required activities. During this time the Muslims captured various holy places of Mayapura, including Chandrasekhar Bhavan, Srivasa-angana, Sridhara-kholaveca’s place, and so on. Once, the Muslims who were taking care of Chand Kazi’s Samadhi beat a few of the brahmacaris from Gaudiya Matha. Srila Kesava Maharaja was unable to tolerate this violent behavior. Being very protective, he filed a court case on behalf of Sri Caitanya Matha, and some of the Muslims were put into jail.
Srila Prabhupada himself did not appreciate that the Muslims were put in jail. He said that we should oppose the unrighteous activities being performed rather than the people performing them. He said we should not look to punish people by putting them in jail, but rather to stand up for the principles we uphold and speak up against the unrighteous activities (the beating of the brahmacaris and claiming that no one else can enter that area). Thus, on the order of Srila Prabhupada, the devotees bailed the Muslims out of jail.
Srila Kesava Maharaja was unable to tolerate any abuse towards the devotees and wanted to protect them under all circumstances.
During the time of Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, perhaps in the year 1923, there were about 5,000 pilgrims, young and old, attending Navadvipa-dhama Parikrama. There were also many horses in the procession, and Thakuraji Himself was carried on an elephant. So many people gathered during this time at Paramatala, also known as Praudha Maya, the residence of Yoga Maya in Navadvipa.
During those years, Srila Prabhupada had been boldly preaching that varna (occupational duty) is determined by ones qualities and devotional practice rather than family lineage. This greatly upset many of the corrupt caste brahmanas. Antagonistic towards Srila Prabhupada’s teachings, they decided to attack the parikrama party with the intention of killing Srila Prabhupada. Srila Kesava Maharaja had great courage, like the disciple of Ramanujyacarya, and risked his life to protect his Gurudeva. At the time he was Vinodabihari Brahmacari, wearing white cloth. He exchanged his own white cloth with Srila Prabhupada’s sannyasa garments and requested Srila Prabhupada to escape and return to Mayapura. He had firm faith in guru, and was always ready to risk his own life in order to serve Srila Prabhupada and the devotees.
Although in the beginning of his matha life he was known as Vinodabihari Brahmacari, he was later awarded the title Krti-ratna by Srila Prabhupada, and became famous by that nomenclature. Krti means ‘activity’ and ratna means ‘jewel.’ Such a personality is expert in performing activities related to the service of guru and Vaisnavas and considers such activities his life and soul. He was a jewel among sevakas.
By the preaching of Srila Kesava Maharaja, his elder brother came to Srila Prabhapada and joined the Matha. Srila Prabhupada ordered him to accept sannyasa, but he was not willing. Even though Srila Kesava Maharaja was younger than him, he chastised his elder brother, saying, “Why are you not accepting Srila Prabhupada’s desire to give you sannyasa?” In this way, he inspired his brother to accept sannyasa, and his brother became known as Bhakti Kevala Audilaumi Maharaja.
Later, Srila Kesava Maharaja saw that Audilaumi Maharaj and his followers were diverting from the teachings of Srila Prabhupada. He could not tolerate even the slightest deviation from Srila Prabhupada’s teachings, and therefore he cut off all relationship with his brother and those who followed him. He would never allow devotees to go to Bagh Bazaar Matha, or to any other place, where Audilaumi Maharaja and his followers resided. If Srila Kesava Maharaja would find out that someone went to his brother’s Matha, he would request that devotee to fast for three days on panca-gavya [the five ingredients of the cow] This was that devotee’s prayascita (atonement). He would say, “Why have you gone there? Now you are impure, so you must purify yourself by performing this atonement.”
There were three ways in which Bhakti Kevala Audalaumi Maharaja and his followers were deviating from Srila Prabhupada. First, they were saying that the Hare Krsna maha-mantra is not supposed to be chanted loudly; rather it should be chanted silently. They believed that chanting should be performed in such a way that no one can hear the sound vibration. Second, they propagated the idea that in Kali-yuga sannyasa is strictly prohibited. Although Srila Prabhupada had personally initiated him and his followers into the sannyasa order, they preached against the sannyasa asrama. Third, although Srila Prabhupada himself personally established Sri Navadvipa Parikrama, the followers of Audalaumi Maharaja rejected its performance.
Srila Kesava Maharaja could not tolerate their deviation from Srila Prabhupada’s mission. He filed a case against them and boldly announced that they were not true disciples of Srila Prabhupada. They did not accept many of Srila Prabhupada’s teaching, so how can they be considered his disciples? Srila Kesava Maharaja said that such people should not be allowed to reside in Srila Prabhupada’s Matha.
I was the one who took dictations from Srila Kesava Maharaja at that time. I would then take those dictations to Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja, who would correct the language and make everything very clear. Then, I would go to the court and submit those papers.
The day before the judge was to announce his final decision, Audalaumi Maharaja and his followers came to court wearing a lighter shade of saffron than the color that they used to wear before rejecting sannyasa. Audalaumi Maharaja had given eight people sannyasa in one day, and then went to the court with a big procession of people who loudly chanted the maha-mantra.
In front of the judge, they said, “We are doing Navadvipa Parikrama, wearing saffron dress, and carrying our sannyasa dandas.” They started a Matha in the name of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. They also established the murti (Deity form) of Srila Prabhupada in the Matha that they had been constructing in Godrumadvipa. They had not previously planned to have a Matha in connection to Srila Prabhupada’s name, nor did they plan to keep his murti there. But because they felt threatened by the bold endeavors of Srila Kesava Maharaja, they gave their Matha the name: “Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gaudiya Matha.” They denied all the allegations coming from Srila Kesava Maharaja and audaciously said, “Just see! We are chanting loudly, wearing sannyasa dress, and we have named our Matha after Srila Prabhupada. So, how can you claim that we are not his disciples?”
Externally, it appeared as though Param-pujyapada Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Goswami Maharaj was defeated, but there was no official announcement by the judge regarding the actual victor. Audalaumi Maharaja and his followers had previously desired to sell Srila Pabhupada’s land. Srila Kesava Maharaj had opposed this idea and wanted to get a stay order so that no one could sell that land. The judge asked Audalaumi Maharaja’s party whether they were planning to sell that place. They replied, “No! We are not planning to sell this land. And in the future we will never, ever sell it.” They also proclaimed this in writing.
Srila Kesava Maharaja then withdrew from any further engagement in the court case. I asked him to clarify why he had done this. I said, “For so long, so many of your god-brothers were involved. I was coming to you, transcribing your dictations and then going to Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja and laboring so much. I was going to the court and bringing so much information. And then, right in the middle, you decided to stop the case. Why? I don’t understand. ”
Srila Kesava Maharaja replied, “Oh, there is no need to proceed further. Why? We are already victorious.” I said, “I don’t understand. Why are you saying this?” He then explained, “Even though it seems externally that we have been defeated, they were actually defeated. Externally it seems that they are victorious, but in actuality we are victorious. Why? Because my only desire was that they follow the line of Srila Prabhupada, and they themselves began to follow. They were wearing sannyasa dress, taking sannyasa, and chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra very loudly. This is what I wanted to see. In this way we were victorious. Our fight was not for anything else. We were fighting only on the behalf of proper siddhanta (conclusive truth), and I desired that somehow or another they should be reconnected with Srila Prabhupada.”
So in this way, because of Srila Kesava Maharaja’s mercy, even now, all of Audalaumi Maharaja’s followers, including those in Bagh Bazaar Gaudiya Matha, accept sannyasa. They perform Navadvipa Parikrama, chant maha-mantra loudly, and perform harinama sankirtana. This is all because of the mercy of Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja. This is a hint of his glory.