In Glorification of Srila Guru Maharaj
by Tridandi Bhiksu Bhakti Pavan Janardan
We are all eternally fortunate to be able to remember and praise the outstanding qualities of Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj.
Srila Guru Maharaj, as he is affectionately called by his followers, is our real "Guardian of Devotion," who has appeared in this world to give us the most beautiful and elevated perception of what is Reality, and at the same time to protect the devotion of innumerable souls who have taken shelter at his lotus feet.
In the Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami, remarks that even Sesa Naga, with thousands and thousands of mouths, speaking for eternity, could not exhaust the glories of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. So, not to make an excuse for my own inability, but to express what is certain, I also have to say that no presentation could really adequately glorify what are the unlimited devotional qualities of Srila Guru Maharaj.
We have heard that Sri Krishnadas Babaji, the dear Godbrother of Srila Guru Maharaj, often visited Sri Hapaniya Dham, the divine place of his appearance. When Srila Babaji Maharaj was asked why he visited there, why he paid so much respect to the place of birth of a Godbrother, he replied that all his life he was hearing and singing the poetry and songs of Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhupad, and had concluded, "I do not see any difference between what you have written and what he has given." It was his conclusion that their expressions were of the same quality.
From the time that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, before his imminent departure from this world, asked Srila Guru Maharaj to sing Sri Rupa-manjari-pada, the most revered and beautiful expression of our highest ideal, Srila Guru Maharaj's most elevated and trusted Godbrothers all held him in a special position. Great spiritual personalities who were present at that time felt that when Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Prabhupad asked Srila Guru Maharaj to sing, that a divine transmission occurred in which Srila Prabhupad chose Srila Guru Maharaj as the representative of the line of Srila Rupa Goswami as the guardian of our mission. And like Srila Babaji Maharaj, Srila Guru Maharaj's Godbrothers sought his advice and his approval, even those who were senior to him in the mission of Srila Saraswati Thakur.
Srila Guru Maharaj captured the hearts of everyone, both faithful followers and adversaries, not only because he was the most qualified representative of our line, and chosen by his Guru, but because of his natural qualities and the purity of his heart. Once a rival, a person from another philosophical camp, came to hear from Srila Guru Maharaj. That person was respected in the community as a great and erudite scholar. When Guru Maharaj saw him, he asked him why he had come to visit him. That man expressed, "That is because in you we see three unique qualities: super intelligence, a disinterested nature and strong common sense."
It is the nature of this world that even a saint is sometimes abused or not understood. We have heard Srila Govinda Maharaj, the chosen successor and intimate disciple of Srila Guru Maharaj, express that when a thesis is presented, immediately the antithesis also arises. Srila Guru Maharaj could confront any challenge and defend the dignity of the Gaudiya Vaishnava line.
Once in Karachi, Srila Guru Maharaj was challenged, "If the infinitesimal can understand the Infinite, then He is not infinite."
This, of course, refers to the understanding that if the conditioned soul can know the infinite Lord, then He would not be truly infinite. But Srila Guru Maharaj simply replied, "If the Infinite cannot make Himself known to the infinitesimal, then He is not infinite."
No one could defeat him in an argument, and in his presence, no other line could have pre-eminence.
But in his own words, Srila Guru Maharaj described himself as a "back-pushing man." He would never take the initiative in a violent confrontation, and even when personally attacked, he would say, "Is that all they have to say about me. That is not so bad. I am much worse than that." He beautifully demonstrated Sri Gauranga's advice of always exhibiting humility, tolerance and respect for others. This he did naturally, because his heart was so magnanimous and full of all those Vaishnava qualities and sentiments.
We are most fortunate that in Srila Guru Maharaj's advanced age, he has accepted us and given us a place in his heart. We have come in contact with the highest Vaishnava, who is of the magnitude of the great Acharyyas in our line, whose conclusions are unique, and who has made his own singular contribution to our Sampradaya.
His writings, such as Sri Sri Prapanna-jivanamritam, Prema-dhama-deva-stotram, his commentaries on Sharanagati, on the Bhagavad-gita and Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, and his many bhajans, songs, and aratis are invaluable contributions to the Rupanuga Gaudiya Sampradaya. And his commentary on the Gayatri mantra, which presents an understanding in the line of Srimad-Bhagavatam which proceeds to Radha-dasyam, has never been given before by any Acharyya and will be eternally appreciated by the true followers of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
We are fortunate that at an advanced age, when he expressed himself with so much maturity and compassion, we have the words of Srila Guru Maharaj expressed in so many beautiful English books, which have now been translated into many other languages. When Srila Govinda Maharaj read Srila Guru Maharaj's explanations of Mahaprahbu's Sikshastakam, translated from its original English into Bengali, he very much appreciated them, and remarked that Guru Maharaj had commented many important things that had not been heard by the Bengali devotees.
It is a fact that Srila Guru Maharaj has given us so many important precepts and mature spiritual understandings that are essential to our eternal development. Without those conclusions it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to view one's own development correctly or focus on what is essential for one's own growth. For that reason, we are truly fortunate that we have had an opportunity to take shelter at his lotus feet. It is our greatest fortune, and the most important occurrence in our entire life.
The entire world is fortunate that Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has directed all humanity towards the shelter of Srila Guru Maharaj's feet, and those that have sufficient sukriti have taken his divine directive as their true salvation. By entrusting us to the shelter of Srila Govinda Maharaj, we can feel Srila Guru Maharaj's divine presence and concern for our eternal well-being. We can understand that Srila Guru Maharaj is eternally with us, and this will always be felt in the association of his true successor, Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj.