Pilgrimage to Sripat Bamunpara. Monday 4th April 2005

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Lord Siva residing in his Temple beside Srila Gurudev's family house. This Temple is the former home of Sri Sri Radha-Gopinath now presiding over the nearby new Sri Chaitanya Sridhar Govinda Seva Ashram.
'Bound by Affection' continued from page 1:

Srila Guru Maharaj had seen me, and it was my good fortune that he was very much attracted to me. He was searching for some boy who in the future could be like a guru. He had a formula. The particular boy would need to be a Brahmin, intelligent, etc. with that potential to be like a guru. At that time Srila Guru Maharaj was searching for someone to groom to continue his disciplic succession. When he saw me he tested me. He called Srila Krishna das Babaji Maharaj and other of his friends, and asked them to also test me.

They each gave Srila Guru Maharaj a very good report about me. Amongst those was Srila Guru Maharaj's sister, Rama Didi, who is still residing here at the Math [this was spoken in 1998 - Ed.]. She remembers everything. Rama Didi said to Guru Maharaj, "Yes, I think this boy is very good." Srila Guru Maharaj also asked her, "Rama Didi, you see this boy; will he be good or bad in the future?" Rama Didi said, "The future, I cannot say, but now he is looking good."

In the beginning I was a little bit suspicious as to whether I had done wrong or right. I was a young boy and already I had made the step to leave home and join the Math, but that was done really by emotion, not devotion. At first I was very unhappy, but later when I got the mercy of Srila Guru Maharaj, I became very happy.

Anyhow, after about one month, we went with Srila Guru Maharaj to Midnapore District. Midnapore is where Sripad Jajavar Maharaj's Math is. At that time Srila Guru Maharaj came close to declaring that if he can train this boy, he will become his successor. Then some friction came from our Math's brahmacharis, even with that brahmachari who read Bhagavatam to me and who previously liked me very much and took me with him many times. Hearing Srila Guru Maharaj's expression everyone became very envious and my fighting life started from that day.

From Midnapore we presently went to Puri with Srila Guru Maharaj for the Ratha Yatra programme. We had fifteen days in hand and Srila Guru Maharaj sent us to a district called Ganjam for preaching.

After that preaching programme, a particular brahmachari did not want to take me on to Puri for Ratha Yatra. Srila Guru Maharaj was very angry. He sent a telegram to him to bring me immediately. Actually, we only arrived on the Ratha Yatra day and Srila Guru Maharaj chastised that brahmachari: "He is a new boy and has not seen Ratha Yatra before. Why did you not want to give him a chance to see the Ratha Yatra?" In this way he heavily chastised him.

The devotees then proceeded to offer respects at the very house where Srila Gurudev appeared. Sripad Acharyya Maharaj and Sripad Paramahamsa Maharaj both spoke of Srila Gurudev's birth and childhood Pastimes.


At that time the rule of the Math was such that a new man must stay at the Math for a minimum of six months before being considered for initiation. But Srila Guru Maharaj broke that rule and gave me initiation on that Ratha Yatra day. He called for me, then told me, "Now I shall initiate you." There came some objection from the other side -- not directly, but indirectly -- but Srila Guru Maharaj did not care. He gave me first initiation on that occasion in Puri Dham. Srila Guru Maharaj told me, "When you will chant, chant attentively and not to think about checking about the time."

Active days in the Math

The whole day I would be working. I was very restless by nature, and always felt that I must always be doing something. Without work I could not stay anywhere. So, the whole day I would work. I felt that I always needed to be doing something.

Here at the Math, if there was nothing to do, I would climb up the long bamboo flagpole. I would go up the flagpole, then come down, then again go up. I would do this in the afternoons while the others rested or slept. I would not rest at that time. On other occasions I would climb a big mango tree.

During the first year that I joined there were so many mangoes, and I would eagerly climb the trees and eat them while sitting on the branches. Everyone complained about me, but I had no fear, that is I was a village boy -- fearless. And still I am fearless. I always feel that Lord Shiva is with me, giving me protection.

As a youth I went into the forests where there were tigers, bears and many other dangerous animals, but I would pass through those forests happily. When I was living in the villages I always felt that I had Lord Shiva's protection like that.

Still now I always feel the protection of Lord Shiva; that he is always looking after his own son. I was born by a boon from Lord Shiva, and because of this special opportunity I am a fearless person. Such is the beginning of my life history.


Sri Chaitanya Sridhar Govinda Seva Ashram, the beautiful Temple built in glorification of Srila Gurudev, his holy Appearance Place, and Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Radha Gopinathjiu. Sri Sri Radha Gopinathjiu have been worshipped in Srila Gurudev's family for generations. After seeing different pictures and a video of this pilgrimage to Sripat Bamunpara, His Divine Grace spoke for some time in a very happy and relaxed mood of his childhood Pastimes. He asked one of the devotees if he had been happy to see these Deities, and described Them as "very dear Deities."


Srila Guru Maharaj's personal servitor

Srila Guru Maharaj took me and gave me his own personal seva. I did all the personal seva of Guru Maharaj, and he constantly taught me many things. After about six months, a little less maybe, Srila Guru Maharaj arranged for me to study Sanskrit with a pandit who was living in the town of Nabadwip, and I would go there every day. Then suddenly one day I saw my uncle on the road. He recognised me. Even though at that time I was a brahmachari in saffron cloth, he immediately recognised me. "Oh, here you are, we have been searching for you in many places but could not find you, and here you are in Nabadwip." I said, "Yes, yes, I am here. I am living in the Math. Please come to the Math. Please, please come! I am there." But he asked me, "Where is your Math?" and I told the truth.

That was my mistake. If I had told a lie then they could not have traced me, but I told the truth: "I am living in Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math."

The next day at about 10.30 a.m. they came, twelve giants and my uncle, accompanied by some pandits also. They were staying in Nabadwip at that time. When they came I was putting up a fence in front of the Math, and they took hold of me and tried to take me away by force saying, "Oh, here is our boy." They were trying to take me and I was shouting loudly, "Oh, they are taking me! They are taking me!" Thankfully at that time one big goala (milkman caste) was there who had much respect for Srila Guru Maharaj and used to serve him also. His name was Ashwini Ghosh. I appealed to him, "Ashwini, they are taking me from here!" And Ashwini came and tackled them: "Why are you taking this boy?"

Sripad Acharyya Maharaj led the lively arati just after noon. A sumptous Prasadam feast (including five different kinds of delicious sweets) prepared by the Math's servitors was then distributed to the happy pilgrims.

They responded, "This is our boy, why can we not take him?" Then Ashwini replied, "If this is the truth, you must first go to Maharaj and tell him, then take your boy." They noted that the goala was very strong and quite probably a dacoit. Many of the goalas here at that time were dacoits. Especially in this area there were many famous dacoit families, and everyone knew it. So my uncle and his friends could not apply force but had to go to Guru Maharaj and talk with him.

Srila Guru Maharaj said, "If you can defeat me then you can take your boy, but if you cannot defeat me then you must leave your boy. All right?"

There were perhaps three Vedanta pandits, and they were each thinking themselves to be great pandits. They thought: "Yes, it will be no problem," and agreed. They returned the next day, and were easily defeated by Srila Guru Maharaj. They again tried for two more days but each time they were defeated. So they could not take me and had to give this news to my mother. Then my mother came here, and in this way many things happened.

"This boy will be my successor"

At that time at the Math four or five of the brahmacharis were very powerful. Three of them were particularly qualified and expected that one of them would be chosen to be the Acharya of this Math after Guru Maharaj. But when Srila Guru Maharaj declared that "This boy will be my successor," they all began to fight with me.

At that time we had a branch in Calcutta at Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj's house. Srila Swami Maharaj had given two rooms to Guru Maharaj for preaching. He was the only one who was able to inspire Srila Guru Maharaj to leave Nabadwip and come to Calcutta. Arrangements were also made there with two pandits for me to study grammar, the Kavya, Vedanta, etc. Every day Swami Maharaj would also directly teach me many things. Actually Srila Guru Maharaj was my teacher, and his learning was beyond compare.

The small goshalla in the Temple grounds.
One of the Temple's servitors.

That year we stayed there for three months, then Vrindavan for three months and somewhere else for another three months, thus always travelling to different places. All the time my main teacher was Srila Guru Maharaj, and wherever we went Srila Guru Maharaj would always engage a further teacher for me. In Vrindavan my teacher was Visvambar Babaji Maharaj. He was a good, a very good, babaji. I cannot believe how good he was. Twenty years later I happened to be in Mathura and heard that he was still alive, so I went to see him. That Babaji Maharaj after seeing me gave full dandavats to me. What more can I say? I was so surprised and astonished when I saw that great, great babaji.

Everyone respected him as a highly qualified pandit babaji. I had given brahmachari dandavats to him through courtesy, but he gave full dandavats to me in return, to which I was surprised and said to him, "Babaji, I am your student, you are my master. Why have you done this? I feel it an offence to take such respect from you." Babaji Maharaj replied, "Je, Baba! Seeing you I am feeling that it is Mahaprabhu in front of me and I paid dandavats to Mahaprabhu. You may be my student, but seeing you brought such remembrance to me of Mahaprabhu that I could offer nothing less. It was not to make offence to you."

I have seen how humble and tolerant all the people are in Vraja-Dham. They tolerate so much, but this babaji had an exceptionally renounced mentality. Even though he was a sahajiya babaji my feeling was to give him dandavats. At that moment the customary etiquette had been temporarily lifted.

Anyhow, we are followers of Srila Saraswati Thakura. That babaji's path was a little different, no doubt, but I did not know how qualified he was, so I must pay dandavats to him. In this way I gave respect to that babaji, but I was very much surprised to see his behaviour. He was my teacher and he recognised me as his boy student from twenty years before.

Next to the Temple grounds.
The entrance to the Math, seen from the inside. After the unseasonal storms in preceding days, the flag suffered a little damage.

Bound by affection

As time went by Srila Guru Maharaj gave more and more affection to me. Actually I was bound by his affection, not at first by Krishna consciousness. It was only his affection and attention to me that gave me the super-opportunity to stay in this line of Krishna consciousness.

Previously I knew so many things about Krishna, Mahaprabhu, Nityananda Prabhu and Pancha-tattva because I was born in a Brahmin Vaisnava family where such discussions were always taking place. I had some good background, but that was not the cause of my staying at the Math. The cause was the affection of my Guru Maharaj. After entering into the Krishna conscious environment it was Srila Guru Maharaj who gave me inspiration, and since then it has always grown, not decreased.

I also received much help, too, from his Godbrothers. They were very nice and they always gave me some substantial 'food' of the Krishna conception. Through that I have the opportunity not to criticise or abuse anyone. Today I see so much criticism and abuse of others, but Srila Guru Maharaj always praised other Vaisnavas and never criticised. For our protection and guidance he would sometimes give some information about them, but in a very honourable way. So the chance for me to make offence to the Vaisnavas was very much reduced.

I received so much help from his Godbrothers and Godsisters, and from time to time Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur's sister would also come to meet Srila Guru Maharaj, and she would also give her blessings.

It was very helpful for me that the merciful glance of so many gentleman and lady Vaisnavas came to me from the very beginning of my life under the lotus feet of Srila Guru Maharaj here at Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math.

Article transcribed by Mahananda Das B.R., first published May 2002
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Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, Nabadwip
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