His first visit to the Gaudiya Math, and his first sight
of his Gurudeva, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Goswami Prabhupad.
His first conversation with Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Prabhupad, on the roof of the Gaudiya Math in Calcutta.
When I got there I found only one gentleman manning the outside hall; the rest had all gone on procession of Nagar-Sankirtan [congregational chanting in the town]. I had a little talk with that gentleman. I had studied somewhat about Chaitanya-dev and other Scriptures, but I found that these people representing the Math had a deeper and more sound knowledge than I had. The party returned from Nagar-Sankirtan and I saw Guru Maharaj at the head of the procession with his danda [mendicant's staff]. As soon as he reached the front of the Math some disciple came and took the danda from him, and gradually he was received there.
At first sight I found Guru Maharaj's attitude was that of complete indifference to the ordinary world. He did not care for anyone; he was self-sufficient. I got that sort of first impression. So I began visiting the Math. Gradually I came to realize that I wanted to stay in such company.
Unfortunately, I had been unable to find [such company] before, but now the thought came to me: what's to stop me coming and staying here? I cast my glance homeward; father gone, mother living, three younger brothers: they won't be much affected. But my wife will be affected. I don't know why, but a sudden thought came to my mind that if she dies, I am free. That thought came. I was attracted by that association [of the Gaudiya Math]. There were so many members of gentlemanly and educated nature, and wholly given to the Service of Mahaprabhu. That attracted me most.
And it was that very day, I came to my quarter and found that my wife was ill. I came home that night, and after three days she passed away. My mother tried to have me married again, but she was unsuccessful. And within six months she also disappeared in Haridwar at the time of the Kumbha Mela. She died there. One of my brothers, Satyen, was attending her with other pilgrims and sisters, etc.
I was free; I was visiting the Math. I was thinking that I must cast my faith here, so I thought it necessary to know as much as possible about the mission; and to know the mission means to know the leader of the mission. So I tried to go upstairs to where Guru Maharaj had his quarters. I would go in front of his room and sit there to hear, because I was thinking I shall join here. Then one day, it so occurred that a brahmachari stopped me when I was making an attempt to go upstairs.
"Where are you going?"
"I'm going to Guru Maharaj. I like to hear and associate very much."
"No, never. You must stay here in the waiting room, and when you see anyone you will inform him whom you want to meet. He will check, and when he returns with the answer, you can go. Otherwise you must stay here. Never cross this threshold."
A little harsh. Then I thought, "What should be the considerate nature of the sadhus? Why should there be any difference outwardly and inwardly? So I need not come here again!"
But at that very moment the position of Sukadev appeared in my mind. I had read in the Mahabharat that Srila Vyasadev sent Srila Sukadev Goswami to Rajarsi Janak to finish his education or sadhana. Srila Sukadev went, and he was detained for seven days at the outer gate. Then information went to Janak, who sanctioned, "Allow him to pass the gate." At the next gate, he was again detained. In this way, there were seven boundaries of the capital, and at each of the seven gates he was detained for seven days. So seven times seven means forty-nine days he was detained, and only then could he meet Janak.
This thought came to my mind. And then the next concluding thought came: "If there is anything bad here, and they take me and put me onto a throne to worship me, I should not come here; and if there is real good, and they beat with a broomstick, I must not leave!" That conclusion came to my mind, and I kept visiting.
The attending person came to me and asked, "Have you something to say?" I replied, "No, I have nothing to say," and he went back to report: "He says he has nothing to say." Then Guru Maharaj said, "He has something to ask?" The attendant again came to me, and said, "Guru Maharaj says, have you got anything to ask?"
"No, I have nothing to ask." He returned to Guru Maharaj. "He says he has nothing to ask." Again Guru Maharaj inquired: "He has got some purpose in mind for coming here?" The attendant returned to me. I said, "Yes, without purpose no incident can happen. When I came here, I had some purpose." He enquired, "What is your purpose?"
"To gain the grace of you all." That was my answer. Nothing else but that.
Perhaps that touched Guru Maharaj. He approached me and enquired who I was, what I did, where I lived, and so on. And then he said: "Yes, you are fortunate. You are born in the area of Gauda-Mandal." They had a booklet with them and the attending person brought it to me and said, "Guru Maharaj is offering this booklet to you."
"I already have it," I replied, but he said, "That does not matter; with his good will he is giving this to you, so it is something else. You take it." So I took it on my head and accepted it. That was the first talk with Guru Maharaj.
- Srila Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar Maharaj -
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