There is a craze for kirtan mela around the world. How do you see this rise in chanting the holy name?
Well basically it’s very good. You know it’s a lot better to go a kirtan mela and get into the kirtan, it’s a lot better to do that than stay at home and watch Bollywood, Aiswarya and Abhisheik. No thanks! You want to destroy your Krishna consciousness as quickly as possible just watch Aiswarya and Abhisheik and just watch all that nonsense stuff, really. So it’s a lot better to be in a kirtan mela than to do that sort of thing or just any kind of materialistic type of activity.
Having said that, having said that, there are some important considerations also. You know if devotees are into kirtan mela but not into chanting sixteen rounds a day, minimum, that means there is something wrong.
If devotees are only into kirtan mela with other devotees, it’s just a whole devotee program but they’re also not interested in taking the kirtan out into the public, sankirtan. We quoted that line just a few minutes ago, kali-kaler dharma krsna-nama-sankirtana, that in the kali yuga the yuga dharma kali kaler dharma the specific religious activity for kali yuga is krsna nama sankirtana. Sankirtan means in public as distinct from a few of us getting together and having a kirtan together, which is nice, not that it is wrong at all, it’s nice, but sankirtan which is the yuga dharma means taking the chanting of the holy names out into public and chanting with the public.
So kirtan melas, we love them, we had the kirtan mela here, several months ago, wasn’t that just outstanding, it was just outstanding. But it can’t just end there, we’re meant to move forward, this means on the basis of our inspiration from kirtan mela we should now be inspired to take the kirtan out into the public. Yes. Not just keep it amongst ourselves, our little group. But to take it out.
If the kirtan mela worked, including our Mauritian kirtan mela, if it really worked and if it was really successful then more people would have become inspired, really inspired to take the kirtan out. It’s very nice in Mauritius, there is regular harinaam, it’s very nice, so more devotees should be going on that. If that’s happening then we know kirtan mela is really successful.
(Transcribed from a questions and answers session in Mahebourgh, Mauritius on 12-12-2015)
Well, prayer is like a standard practice in the process of Krishna consciousness. We should pray to the Lord. This means in general that we can offer our own prayers. It is a standard activity we are meant to do, having said that, if we pray through Srila Prabhupada, it is MUCH MORE LIKELY that Krishna will hear us and take note of our prayer because Prabhupada is much more than we are. Krishna listens to Prabhupada. Krishna will probably listen to us but not the same way. Just not the same way. Therefore, it is always recommended to approach Krishna through the spiritual master, in our case it is particularly through Srila Prabhupada. (Mahebourg Festival, Mauritius, Dec 16th 2016)
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur’s Appearance Day, ISKCON Mayapur, Feb 15th 2017.
Srimad Bhagavatam 3.22.5
tava sandarśanād eva
cchinnā me sarva-saṁśayāḥ
yat svayaṁ bhagavān prītyā
dharmam āha rirakṣiṣoḥ
Now I have resolved all my doubts simply by meeting you, for Your Lordship has very kindly and clearly explained the duty of a king who desires to protect his subjects.
Manu described herewith the result of seeing a great saintly person. Lord Caitanya says that one should always try to associate with saintly persons because if one establishes a proper association with a saintly person, even for a moment, one attains all perfection. Somehow or other, if one meets a saintly person and achieves his favor, then the entire mission of one’s human life is fulfilled. In our personal experience we have actual proof of this statement of Manu. Once we had the opportunity to meet Viṣṇupāda Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Mahārāja, and on first sight he requested this humble self to preach his message in the Western countries. There was no preparation for this, but somehow or other he desired it, and by his grace we are now engaged in executing his order, which has given us a transcendental occupation and has saved and liberated us from the occupation of material activities. Thus it is actually a fact that if one meets a saintly person completely engaged in transcendental duties and achieves his favor, then one’s life mission becomes complete. What is not possible to achieve in thousands of lives can be achieved in one moment if there is an opportunity to meet a saintly person. It is therefore enjoined in Vedic literature that one should always try to associate with saintly persons and try to disassociate oneself from the common man, because by one word of a saintly person one can be liberated from material entanglement. A saintly person has the power, because of his spiritual advancement, to give immediate liberation to the conditioned soul. Here Manu admits that all his doubts are now over because Kardama has very kindly described the different duties of individual souls.
Today of course is the most auspicious and wonderful and glorious day, the anniversary of the appearance of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur as we are all very well aware. What a wonderful occaision. We will read one verse from Srimad Bhagavatam. The verse itself, well of course every verse of the Bhagavatam is very nice. The purport is relevant, you could say for today. The verse itself, well, it’s a nice verse. Let us read that to start off with.
So this is now Srimad Bhagavatam canto three, chapter twenty-two, The Marriage of Karduma muni and Devahuti, text five.
Maharaj reads the verse and purport.
So praying for mercy from the divine lotus feet of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura and by the mercy of Srila Prabhupada. And for the mercy of Srila Prabhupada himself and all of the vaisnavas. I’ll just try and say a few words in glorification and appreciation of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.
On reading that purport the day before yesterday, I was struck by Srila Prabhupada’s mood of celebration of his having met that saintly person Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. And I imagine we’ve all read in the Lilamrta the description there of that meeting.
Srila Prabhupada arrived there in a somewhat skeptical mood, at least to some degree, but he left in a very different mood having heard from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta. A very different mood actually, transformed. His life, his heart, had just been touched. And more than just touched, deeply penetrated by the association of this great devotee of the Lord and all of his attitudes, his perspectives, his life, everything. At least Srila Prabhupada described it in that way. Everything was transformed.
Srila Prabhupada, whenever he would refer to his spiritual master or say something about him, which he would do frequently, you could always see and feel in the tone of voice that the deep reverence and appreciation for this amazing transcendental personality. Certainly in his time, basically, unique personality.
Let us, seeing that today is his appearance day, let us say a few words about his appearance, his early days, and go through his time on this planet a little bit. Let’s try and touch on some of those different incidents, many of them, if not all, many of you I am sure are quite familiar with. Let us just try and focus like that and see how far we get as far as time allows. Of course today we are chanting, dancing, and fasting today, so maybe we will have a little extra time.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, we know that he had been praying for a ray of Visnu. He had accepted as his life’s mission the mission of spreading Krishna Consciousness, establishing the Krishna Consciousness movement. But it was hard to get help. Sometimes good help is hard to find. In those days, it was really hard to find people who were devotees in the deepest sense of the term, and who were really willing to assist and who understood the mood of Lord Caitanya and what to do to be followers of Lord Caitanya, specifically of course to try and spread the Krishna Consciousness movement.
You can say in many ways that Bhaktivinoda Thakura was something like a one man army, a very powerful army, but still just one man. He was praying somehow or other let someones or someone come from somewhere who can help and take the mission forward into the future after his own time was over. Among other things he was praying to have a child who would be like that, some special transcendental personality sent by the Supreme Personality of Godhead to take up the mission and carry on with it after Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s time was over. So he was praying for that ray of Visnu.
Actually, Bhaktivinoda Thakura had many children. He actually had thirteen children, eight sons, five daughters. One son, by his first wife, who unfortunately passed away just very shortly after giving birth to the first son. Then by the second wife Srimate Bhagavati Devi, who was also a very great devotee. He had the remaining twelve children.
On this day 143 years ago today by the lunar calendar, by the solar calendar February the sixth 1874 in that holy place Sri Jagannath Puri Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura appeared in this world as the sixth child, the fourth of eight sons, and the third son of Bhaktivinoda Thakura by Srimati Bhagavati Devi. As I’m sure you all know extremely well that when he just came out of the womb, his umbilical chord was wrapped across his left shoulder, chest, and right thigh like a brahman thread.
So many things we have heard so many times. In fact, that umbilical chord was wrapped so tightly or in one way or another, that umbilical chord left a mark on his body in the shape of a brahman thread which was clearly visible throughout his whole life. Very extraordinary type of happening.
That was February sixth, so five or six months later the Jagannath Ratha Yatra festival took place. Again, another incident I’m sure you are all very well aware of. As it happens sometimes in the Jagannath Ratha Yatra festival, Lord Jagannath’s cart somehow broke down or stopped. Some divine arrangement was there, surely. It stopped right outside of the house of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. Those of you who have been to Jagannath Puri will know where that is on the left hand side as you are going down from the Temple towards the Gundica Temple.
I remember the first time that I ever went there was 1979 and there was just a house actually. There was some sort of Temple but nothing serious. There was a little sign saying that it was the birthplace, and there was another little sign saying “Not an ISKCON Temple.” Anyway, perhaps I shouldn’t have even mentioned that. As an historical point that was actually the situation.
Lord Jagannath’s chariot broke down, or stopped there, and stayed there for three days. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, as the very great devotee that he was, organized an akhanda kirtan, non stop, unbroken kirtan there for those three days. In some sort of transcendental and mysterious way the Lord remained there, right in front of his house. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura told Srimati Bhagavati devi to take their little child there and place him at the lotus feet of Jagannath. So the mother did that and placed Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura right at the lotus feet of Lord Jagannath. As the description goes, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, a little child of five or six months, managed to roll over a little, extended his arms, and touched the lotus feet of Lord Jagannath. As he did that, one garland fell spontaneously by the arrangement of the Lord, from Lord Jagannath, and just fell encircling Srila Bhaktisiddhanta. Again, something very auspicious, very wonderful, and very transcendental. If a garland falls from the deity it is auspicious. It is a sign. If some jewelry falls from the deity it’s a bad sign. Anyways, here we have the garland from the Lord.
Same day, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura went to the Jagannath Temple and got some special maha prasad. That special maha prasad is called Bhimala Prasad. In the grounds of the Jagannath Temple there are several little sub temples. One of them is Bhimala devi who is Yoga Maya in Jagannath Puri. Just immediately after the food has been offered to Jagannath, then the first maha is taken and offered to Bhimala devi. Then that is special prasad. Any Jagannath prasad is special but this is special special maha prasad. And so that was fed to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura for his first grain ceremony on that same day.
Of course we know that at that time in his early days Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura was known as Bhimala Prasad. In my research I haven’t found out if he was given that name then or earlier or when exactly. So his first grains were Bhimala Prasad.
Then many incidents are there, many of which we have all heard of many times. At the age of three Srila Prabhupada describes in very heartfelt terms in a class, I think it’s 1969 if I’m not mistaken, the disappearance day of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura in America. Srila Prabhupada describes the extreme determination displayed by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura throughout his life. Srila Prabhupada describes how little Bhimala Prasad at the age of three, just a little child, running through the family house, saw on the table in the middle of one of the main rooms, one very nice looking mango. He picked it up and started eating it assuming that it was already prasadam because that was the practice in those days, especially in mango season. There were just mangos everywhere, you couldn’t give them away, what to speak of sell them.
There was an ocean of mangos and he knew of course that Bhaktivinoda Thakura offered everything. So he just assumed that as usual here is a prasad mango just sitting here, so he helped himself. As he was starting to eat it, Bhaktivinoda Thakura appeared on the scene and stopped him and told him that it was not offered. At that time Bhaktivinoda Thakura was worshipping Govardhana Sila. That was not offered, that was bhoga. You have eaten something which was not offered to the Lord. You have done a wrong thing.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, Bhimala Prasad, even at the age of three, so already manifesting Krishna Consciousness so strongly, took a vow that for the rest of his life he would never eat mango. He never did. He was offered mango so many times, particularly when he was the great spiritual acharya. But he would always refuse saying, I cannot. I am an offender. Often times during that time he would recite the verse from Isopanisad
īśāvāsyam idam sarvaṁ
yat kiñca jagatyāṁ jagat
tena tyaktena bhuñjīthā
mā gṛdhaḥ kasya svid dhanam (Iso. Mantra 1)
Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. This very well known verse. Therefore one should not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong. Particularly that things belong to the Lord. So at those times he would often recite that verse and never accept mangos.
Just a little aside, one time when Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura was traveling on a train, as the great spiritual leader going from town to town and having big preaching programs, one time on the same train and the person ended up in the same compartment, was one mayavadi sannyasi. Someone, as they are sitting there, someone came in and offered Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura some mangos. He refused, as we have mentioned. The mayavadi sannyasi said no, no, you can accept it. Something along the lines of because it’s all one, don’t worry about it too much. Just accept it. It is coming by the will of Bhagavan.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura explained to him that as a child, I committed an offense in this regard, so it is my vrata, my strict vow, I do not, have not, and will not. The mayavadi still said a few things about how he should still accept it.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura noticed that the mangos where a little off, a little advanced, in another sense of the term, ver ripened and slightly changed fragrance. He looked at the mayavadi and said no, I cannot. But you take them. The mayavadi noticed the smell and then he tried to escape it. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura told him, no, it’s all one. It doesn’t really matter. You must take them. If you don’t you must admit that it’s not all one. So, begrudgingly the man ate those mangos, two or three of these really not quite right mangos.
This is Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.
As Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Bhimala Prasad was just growing up little bit, still just a young boy, Bhaktivinoda Thakura noticed that of all of his children, who were all devotees, even one other brother, Lalita Prasad – Interesting point. All of the boys were given names ending with Prasad. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta was Bhimala Prasad, then of course this other brother was Lalita Prasad, there was a Radhika Prasad, Kamala Prasad, and a few other Prasads.
They were all devotees, and of course, it’s interesting to note that Lalita Prasad did also become a somewhat prominent devotee and guru figure, in a different mood. At least he did become some sort of prominent spiritual person.
So Bhaktivinoda Thakura noticed that Bhimala Prasad was really special from amongst the other children and he gave him special training and attention to help him develop as a Vaisnava. In 1881, now Bhimala Prasad is seven, he’d already memorized the entire Bhagavad Gita and not only memorized it, like sometimes little children memorize verses and you can just see that they jammed it into their head somehow, but Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura at the age of seven, could explain every verse very nicely. It was clear that he was special and Bhaktivinoda Thakura, as the time was going on, understood that this seems to be that ray of Visnu, that special person who I was praying for. So he gave him special attention.
Bhaktivinoda Thakura moved around a bit with his family in those years. In 1881, same time, Bhaktivinoda Thakura built a house in Calcutta, Ramabhagan, that part of Calcutta. While digging for the foundations, a deity of Kurma deva was unearthed, and also, a little later but in the same process, a Nrsimha Salagram Sila. Bhimala Prasad, when he saw these, became very inspired. He wanted to worship them. So Bhaktivinoda Thakura gave him what is sometimes referred to as Harinam initiation at the age of seven in 1881. He instructed him in the worship of those deities, including Nrsimha Sila.
If you know something about Silas then you know that you have to be careful with Nrsimha Silas. Don’t make too many mistakes. Bhaktivinoda Thakura had sufficient faith in Bhimala Prasad to entrust a Nrsimha Sila to him, plus the deity of Lord Kurma and gave him mantras and initiation. Bhaktivinoda Thakura acquired from Jagannath Puri a very nice set of tulasi japa beads. At that time in 1881, Bhaktivinoda Thakura gave them to him during the course of the initiation. Those beads, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura kept for his entire life. Those were his japa beads for his life. He treasured those and used those and he really chanted a lot on those beads. This is all in the context of Bhaktivinoda Thakura appreciating that of my children, devotees, this one is special.
Among other things as Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura gradually became a little older meaning he is still not ten years old, he started showing amazing, not just outstanding but unique intellectual capacities. He was able to memorize anything, not just scripture or the writings of acharyas. He could memorize just anything by just seeing it one time. Even right at the end when he was just coming to the point of leaving this world, he could still reproduce verbatim any part of any book that he had read in the last fifty years. So just from another dimension.
As is mentioned in the Srila Prabhupada, people like Udhava and Maharaj Pariksit and Jiva Gosvami in the descriptions of their childhoods they would not go and play with their neighborhood contemporaries. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura would stay at home and study particularly Narottam das Thakur’s Prarthana and Prema Bhakti Candrika again and again. Like in our GBC meeting the other day we were informed that HH Prahladananda Swami, who I think is not here right now, has read Bhagavad Gita at least 160 times. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura was really developing as a devotee, very seriously chanting and doing his deity worship and studying vaisnava literature.
One time he went out for a walk with Bhaktivinoda Thakura and they happened to encounter some sort of sudo babaji type, outwardly a devotee, but in terms of actual lifestyle there were some serious problems there with following properly. They met on the street and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura did not offer obeisances. The babaji asked Bhaktivinoda Thakura why did he not offer me dandavats. Bhaktivinoda Thakura said I will ask him. And he stepped away and asked him. He came back and said that my son has told me that he did not offer dandavats because he does not offer obeisances to sahajiyas. What a characteristic of strictness and even some might say of being severe. It was already manifesting to some degree.
In 1881 at the age of 14 he started studing astronomy, astrology, and a bit of palmistry. But mostly astronomy. At the age of 15 he impressed his teachers so much. They were so amazed that they gave him the name Sri Siddhanta Sarasvati. From that time on this name has been used. From 1881 maybe at home he was called Bhimala Prasad, but he was referred to as Sri Siddhanta Sarasvati.
In 1893, he was 19, he published his translation and explanation of Surya Siddhanta, the oldest of the traditional vedic literatures on astronomy. It’s technical, we won’t go into the details. But astronomical calculations based on astronomical sastra have to be adjusted every now and then because the planets shift. If you don’t adjust then the calculations will be off. At that time, no one had done the proper calculations, they were using old calculations which were really quite inaccurate.
He corrected that and in the introduction to that he chastised those traditional astronomers, some of them were caught up to some degree with western conceptions of astronomy. Let me just read that quickly. “At present the majority of persons reputed as learned in astronomy are averse to sastric understanding. They shamelessly promote themselves as knowledgeable in sastra, even if totally unaware of it’s contents.” That’s pretty strong isn’t it? To be totally unaware you must be pretty unaware.
“The disease has taken the form of inordinate desire for honor. This evil has engulfed the jyoti tirthas,” who are the people, the experts on astronomy, “and resultantly their work is incomplete and short-sighted. I have brought this translation of Sri Surya Siddhanta with the hope of attracting the attention of really intelligent thinkers towards the study of astronomy. The jyoti tirthas spend most of their lives busily expanding their bellies and have completely stopped cultivating the complex knowledge of mathematical astronomy received in guru parampara.”
In 1892 when he was about 18, he entered Calcutta’s Sanskrit College and in order to help his sort of classmates, he formed what he called the Association of Lifelong Bachelors. You may have also heard it referred to as the August Assembly. The members took a vow of celibacy and he was the only one to maintain it. It was not exactly like a Krishna Consciousness group. That was there, but it was more like austerity, piety, morality, which often tends to be the focus in Hindu society as opposed to chanting the holy names and so on. He was very prominent for his morality, truthfulness, piety. Even he said later that he became a little proud because of that.
During the school holidays he studied, Sanskrit grammar. His teacher who had taught Bhaktivinoda Thakura or tutored him in Sanskrit early, Sharnama was amazed at how he picked up sandhi which is how the ends of words change and the beginnings of the next words change when those words meet. The changing of letters at the beginnings and endings of words when those words meet.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura memorized the whole table and it’s big, really big, in three days. His teacher said that you should not finish your study of sandhi so quickly. It took me a long time. In Benares scholars go through grammar during their whole life. Whoever continuously studies attains attains liberation among dying. Sri Siddhanta Sarasvati replied, then from today I reject you. The goal of my life is neither mastery of grammar or liberation, but worship of Hari and attaining His affection. I have studied the vedas and their various parts only in a secondary manner.
At that college, he got into a conflict with the head of the astronomy department who was one of these people like he was referring to in the introduction that we read a bit of. Miscalculations, because of not making proper adjustments in terms of the shifting of the planets over cosmic time, plus being influenced by western approaches, so they got into a heavy clash. There was a debate organized and sort of monitored by the chairman of the whole college. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura devastated him so strongly that the head of the college offered Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, would you like to become the head of the astronomy department. He was still a student, only 18 or 19 years old. Following that, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura got into a conflict with the chairman himself about certain things that they were doing in the school.
In 1895, having been there for about three years, felt he had to leave the college. Normally it would have been a big embarrassment to drop out of such a super prestigious institution. Normally it would have been disgraceful. But Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura considering that if he were to remain attentively studying at college, he would be brow beaten to enter family life, brow beaten meaning pressured. But, if I were perceived as a foolish good for nothing, then no one would put such an inducement upon me for becoming engaged in worldly advancement. Considering this, I left the Sanskrit college. And to maintain my life for service to Hari, I sought an honest occupation with modest income.
What many devotees may not be aware of is that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura left that college in 1895. From them until 1905, he worked in the government of the Maharaj of Tripura, which was one of the old states in those days like kind of somewhat independent states. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura was so expert that he ended up as the overseer of the Tripura Government Secretariat in Calcutta. But, he said, the ongoing envy, malice, and sleaze amongst the workers, his coworkers, this is like a classic old english word that means just blah, greasy, semi liquid, muck that might leak out of your toilet or something. So seeing these types of moods amongst his coworkers, he more or less pulled out in 1900, and he completely pulled out in 1905.
In 1897 he started observing caturmasa. He’s working, but obviously maintaining very strict brahmacari standards. In 1897 he started observing caturmasa. Once daily before sunset he would take only rice, cooked by himself with just a touch of ghee, no salt, no spices, no vegetables. He’d take it by the method known as gograsa. It means eating like a cow. The food is just thrown on the ground. You sit on the floor, lean forward with your hands behind your back, and with your mouth directly eat the food until you sit up again. Once you sit up that’s it, you’re done for the day.
He didn’t shave or cut his nails and he slept minimally on the bare earthen floor, not even the floorboards, but the earth directly with no bedding or pillow or even a straw mat.
In January of 1900 when he was 25, just before 26, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura requested that he take initiation from Srila Gaura Kisore Das Babaji Maharaj. This of course is another very well known pastime. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura said later that he was very happy to do that. He actually felt that Srila Gaura Kisore would be very happy to accept him because he’s the son of Bhaktivinoda Thakura who is like the siksa guru of Gaura Kisore. They know each other well and Gaura Kisore had considerable regard for him. He thought, yes, good. Let me go and get initiated.
Off he went, but Gaura Kisore das babji just laughed and refused him. He said, I once accepted a disciple but he cheated me and ran away. I’m not accepting anymore. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura begged him and begged him and Gaura Kisore das babji said come back in a few days, that he would ask Mahaprabhu. If he agrees, you can be initiated. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura came back in three days. Gaura Kisore das babji said ah, I forgot to ask, come back in a few more days.
Srila Prabhupada explains that the third time Bhaktivinoda Thakura said, you get accepted by him, or please don’t come back to this house. So after a few more days Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura went back and asked what did Mahaprabhu say? Gaura Kisore das said, yes, I asked Mahaprabhu. He did not reply. In other words, sorry. Let’s not talk about this any longer.
Then Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura really fell on the ground at his lotus feet crying and begging. He repeated a line which I’m sure so many of you all know from a song by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. He stood up and begged him karuna na haile, kadiya kadiya,
prana na rakhiba ara
Without your mercy, weeping and weeping, I will no longer be able to maintain my life.
There are descriptions from different sources. Bhakti Vikash Maharaj has given a really outstanding description, of course there are others too, but Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura said on another occasion that if he had actually continued refusing, he would have continued coming back until the end of his life. Gaura Kisore das Maharaj accepted him.
Srila Prabhupada says that Bhaktivinoda Thakura asked Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura to accept Gaura Kisore das babji as his spiritual master that you go and take your initiation from Gaura Kisore das babji Maharaj. So he thought, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, again this is Srila Prabhupada speaking. So he thought I’m a great scholar, I’m son of a magistrate, Bhaktivinoda Thakura, who is a great vaisnava. He will be very much pleased to accept me. Srila Prabhupada continues, of course he was very much pleased, but in the beginning he refused. He refused because of course that is only show, he was not proud. But just to teach us. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura explained that I was a little proud so I was thrice refused by guru maharaj. Although he was the only disciple.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura is this incredible, intellectual, just one of a kind. Gaura Kisore das babji Maharaj, his biographies describe him first of all as being illiterate, second as being somewhat cranky, if you know what I mean by that. And sometimes even a little crude. People would come and ask him for initiation. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura was not the only one to do that. He would often chase them away physically and hit them with his umbrella. What contrasts of character.
Let me just read something from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura that shows his actual attitude. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura says that even though my guru maharaj could not read or write, whenever he opened his mouth, out came the vedic literatures.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura said, when, out of false ego I was thinking, I’m a great scholar of mathematics and philosophy, let any big pandit come day or night, I’ll cut his propositions to pieces. At that time I got the darshan of Sri Gurudeva, who ignored everything that was previously appreciated in me, my truthfulness, my moral and pious life, and my intellectualism. He ignored everything, knowing them to be of little value. And when I saw that he ignored whatever was good in me, I realized how good he himself must be. Who could neglect so many “good qualities” in me, what inconceivable wealth he possessed. Humbly and sincerely I pray to the Supreme Lord for His mercy. Later by his grace I recognized that without receiving the blessings of this peerless saint and without serving him, nothing good could happen to me. When I accepted that and acted accordingly, and received the causeless unlimited grace of my Sri Gurudeva, taking refuge at his lotus feet, I deemed my life fulfilled. My gurudeva mercifully told me, reject your knowledge, purity, and aristocracy and come close to me. Don’t go anywhere else. Whatever you require, as many rooms, houses, palaces, and mansions, as much scholarship, skills, self control and renunciation, you will get. Simply, come close tome.
It’s very profound.
So after his initiation, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura sort of moved away from his government work, although not immediately. But he still had followers, and he gave up his astronomy. But he still had followers in astronomical and astrological circles.
One day his followers pressured him to debate with one of the leading astronomers who was very attached to the western ways and the miscalculations and all of that. And so they had a debate on the second of January, 1902, in Calcutta. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura’s superior learning and his ability to express himself, left that scholar so completely devastated, his theories and reputations smashed to pieces. The man involuntary, spontaneously passed stool and urine where he was sitting.
Later when Srila Bhaktisiddhanta was Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, the preacher, devotees would come and ask him to read their palms. Sometimes he would sort of look to humor them, look around at their palm, and then close their palm strongly and say, all bad. Just chant Hare Krishna.
There are many things, but we have run out of time I’m afraid. I want to give a conclusion here that after a little while, we were at 1902, fast forward a bit. Bhaktivinoda Thakura disappeared in 1914 and Gaura Kisore das babji in 1915. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura really felt their absences. He had been doing his great vrata, I’m sure you’ve heard of that, chanting a billion names. But then he was wondering after this what to do. Now these two have gone, my shelters, they’ve gone, and I’ve finished my vow. What to do?
Shortly after the disappearance of Gaura Kisore das babji in 1915, while sleeping in his grass hut at the yoga pitha, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura had a dream in which Gaura Kisore das babji and Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Jagannath das babaji, who he also knew, and who appreciated him a lot, and the Six Goswamis and the Pancha Tattva and numerous other great devotees and acharyas appeared to him, coming from the east, came to him. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura said that they told him this, Sarasvati, why are you worrying? Begin the task of establishing suddha bhakti, distribute Gauravani universally, expand service to Gaura nama, Gaura dhama, and Gaura kama. With unbreached enthusiasm, broadcast Bhaktisiddhanta. We are eternally with you, ready to help. The support of unlimited people, immeasurable opulence, and boundless scholarship awaits the blessing to serve your mission. These people and things, they are awaiting the blessing to serve your mission. All will manifest when required. Come forward with full strength, distribute the message of Mahaprabhu’s prema dharma throughout the globe. No worldly hinderance or menace will be able to disrupt this undertaking of yours for we are forever with you.
I think the rest is history. He started the preaching mission. Srila Prabhupada met him in 1922. Therefore we are here. We can, on this day particularly offer our most humble thanks and appreciations at the lotus feet of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura for all of that great mercy which we have received.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura ki jaya!
Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!