The Real Mendicant
One landowner, known as Mr. Saha, once whimsically sent Srila Gaurakisora some rice. Other persons would also come and give rice to Srila Gaurakisora. All the rice to be found in Navadvipa at that time, was stored in the boarding house of one queen. Mr. Saha regularly sent rice to Srila Gaurakisora every day for a period of two months. Once, Srila Gaurakisora sent someone to go and tell Mr. Saha, that he should no longer donate the rice. When Mr. Saha found out that Srila Babaji Maharaja no longer wanted to accept the rice he immediately came there and asked,"What offense have I committed unto you? Why is it that you have discontinued accepting my rice donations?" Srila Babaji Maharaja answered,"My guru gave me the instructions, 'Never become a pala-garu or a dharmera-sanda'. Hearing Srila Babaji Maharaja speak in this way, one person did not understand the meaning of pala-garu and inquired about the word's significance. Srila Babaji Maharaja explained, "A domesticated cow that is nourished, bathed and attended by a householder is called a pala-garu. Similarly a devotee who accepts foodstuffs to fill his stomach from only one person, is on the same level as a cow, pala-garu and becomes dependant on that person. When the householder falls into debt, then he may sell the cow to his creditor to pay off his debt.
Dharmera-sanda or pious bull, refers to a renunciate that does not become dependent upon one person for the maintenance of his body. Like the pious bull he freely wanders from place to place. The bull simply moves from one place to another nourishing his body. Sometimes the bull may even get beaten by someones fist but still he doesn't become dependent and bound up in one place like the domesticated cow, pala-garu. Often a person who raises a mischevious bull has to pay a fine because of its rowdyism. When a bull is bound up like a domesticated cow, pala-garu he becomes desirous to eat many nice things. At the present day, we see many persons who call themselves madhukaris or religious mendicants. Many so called renunciate babajis claim themselves to be spiritual beggers. But the real madhukari, transcendental begger, is free from the modes of material nature. Those who are factual beggers are perfectly surrendered unto the Supreme Lord, Sri Krsna and devoid of any external consciousness of their gross material body. Real madhukaris are never eager like the materialists who are always disturbed by the urges of the tongue and the genitals. They gradually lose all desire to remain in the material world. Persons who live in Vrndavana or Navadvipa and are inclined towards enjoying the foodstuffs of the ordinary people are actually like domesticated cows, pala-garus. Others who travel from one house to another in the holy abodes of Navadvipa and Vrndavana with the intention to collect very nice foodstuffs are called dharmera-sanda. Srila Bhaktinovinda has composed the following devotional poem to describe the real Vaisnava mendicant.
kabe gauravane surandhuni-tate,
A newly-wedded man, who was a wealthy and famous disciple of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, came to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura to understand how to correctly follow the process of devotional service in married life. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura made it very evident to the visitor that persons who are married face many different kinds of impediments in the execution of their devotional service. After hearing this explanation the married guest became unhappy. Sometime later the same gentleman went to Kuliya in Navadvipa, where Srila Gaurakisora was residing. When Srila Gaurakisora heard that he was discussing married life he said, "Oh, very good. This is very good. Daily he can cook an offering for Lord Visnu with his own hands. After he prepares the offering for Lord Visnu's satisfaction, then he may accept it as maha-prasadam along with his religious wife. Instead of an exploitative mentality he must always consider his wife a servant of Lord Krsna and a representative of his guru. If this is done, then everything will become very auspicious for him. Everything in this material world is meant for the Lord's service whether it be wealth, jewels, wife, or ones' husband. Engage everything in Krsnas' service. You should always understand that your wife is not your servant, but she is a servant of Lord Krsna. In this way, she should always be respected."
Once one person by the name of Sri Yukta Vandyopadhyaya, who was an M.A. and a B.A., came from Calcutta to see the lotus feet of Srila Gaurakisora in Navadvipa. When he arrived there, one of his associates introduced him to Srila Gaurakisora who said, "Oh, very nice, I am glad that you have come here. Now you should stay and worship the Supreme Lord." Mr. Vandyopadhyaya said, "Before I left Calcutta I got a return ticket." When Srila Babaji Maharaja heard this, he became very amazed and said, "You mean you made arrangements for a return ticket before you even came? Then why have you come here to see me? Simply coming here to see me and then returning to Calcutta is useless. I would have thought that whoever wants to carry out devotional service comes to the holy abode of Navadvipa."
By this example, Srila Gaurakisora taught that going to see the holy persons to satisfy one's curiosity, or with some motive, or for the purpose of seeing other holy places, is no way to take the association of the devotees of the Lord. One should travel to the holy places of pilgrimage in order to take shelter of the pure devotees of the Lord who reside there, and not to satisfy any material motive. One can never actually take the association of higher Vaisnavas until he surrenders unflinchingly unto a pure devotee of the Lord. Real Vaisnava association means surrendering everything to the lotus feeet of the pure devotee by offering obeisances, inquiring submissively, and rendering devotional service unto him and always following his example. The real meaning of sanga is to wholeheartedly approach. If someone entertains the prospect of further sense enjoyment and purchases a return ticket before approaching the lotus feet of the Vaisnava then self surrender is impossible. Explanations pertaining to real devotional worship unto Lord Hari can never enter such a person's ear.
One day in Navadvipa, a very famous professional reciter of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, who was a Gosvami by caste, came to visit Srila Gaurakisora. He was dressed in fine woolen garments. In the course of their conversation, the topic of purity in devotional service was discussed. When Srila Gaurakisora was asked about this, he said, "If a person maintains materialistic intentions such as the desire for women, wealth, or position, then even the different rules for attaining pure consciousness become another form of impurity. A small spot of leprosy gradually contaminates the entire body. If someone thinks I will remain pure by wearing wool cloth while evacuating or go to bathe in the Ganges to become pure, and yet maintains material desires in mind and heart, will remain impure. Such a person is so contaminated that even if you explain how contaminated he is, he can never understand his impure condition. One who wears wool or silk cloth, takes only rice that has been dried in the sun, takes bath in the Ganges river, or superficiously accept all the processes in Vaisnava tradition for becoming pure, can never become purified as long as he is only thinking of his wife, children, money, and self-esteem. Whoever has no affinity towards serving the Vaisnavas can practice whatever purifying principles they want, but Krsna will never be pleased with their external purity."
Lord Caitanya's Birthplace
Once, during the festive season, a visitor came to Navadvipa and constructed a small tin house underneath a Nim tree on the southwest side of a large temple in Navadvipa. He installed the Deity form of Lord Caitanya as the small boy Nimai in the tin hut. When the festival arrived he began to preach to everyone that his Deity was the actual place where Lord Caitanya appeared. He requested everyone there to give donations liberally in order to excavate the lost place of pilgrimage. The pilgrims who visited him generously contributed large sums of money to the proprietor of the so-called birth place. In this way, the charlatan was conducting business.
In that area, there was a devotee named Srila Vamsi dasa Babaji, who was renowned as a self-realized Vaisnava and topmost paramahamsa. The business minded man knew how famous Srila Vamsi dasa Babaji was so he brought him to his tin house. He also tried to convince Srila Gaurakisora that he had dreams in which it was revealed that his hut was the original site where Lord Caitanya appeared. The visitor claimed that Caitanya Mahaprabhu had appeared to him within a dream and revealed that place as the original place of His transcendental appearance within this material world. The actual place, known as Mayapura today, was accepted by Srila Gaurakisora and Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura as being Lord Caitanya's birthplace and is backed with historical evidence. For example the names of the places in that area such as Banikpada, Sankharipada, and Malancapada are still present today.
Srila Gaurakisora said, "We must accept the proofs of those great personalities who have discovered the birthplace of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu while absorbed in deep devotional contemplation. The dreams of a charlatan can never reveal a lost place of pilgrimage or the Lord's appearance place. Those great souls who realize the holy places of pilgrimage never collect money on the pretense of excavating lost holy places. Only the perfect followers of Lord Caitanya, are actually qualified to reveal the Lord's holy birthplace. Sri Advaita Prabhu, who is none other than Lord Siva, caused Lord Caitanya to reveal HImself in this world. Similary Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Srila Jagannatha dasa babaji discovered this holy place where Sriman Mahaprabhu appeared."
The following day, after Srila Gaurakisora said this, Srila Vamsi dasa Babaji Maharaja, taking a small shovel in his hand, went to the place of that charlatan who was preaching that he was representing the "original" birthplace of Lord Caitanya and began to chop down the fence in the front of his tin hut. He showed the people how this hypocrite was imitating the exalted devotee of the Lord.
The Feast Of The Paramahamsas
The day before the Disappearance of Srila Sanatana Goswami, Srila Babaji Maharaja called one devotee and said,"Tomorrow is Srila Sanatana Goswami's disappearance day. Therefore we will have a grand festival. The caste Gosvami's here in Navadvipa never have a festival." The devotee then said, "How will we be able to arrange all the necessary paraphernalia for the feast?" Srila Babaji Maharaja answered, "Don't tell anyone. Tomorrow we will fast all day and chant Hare Krsna. We are insignificant beggars. It will be the grandest of all festivals."
How Can I Know A Vaisnava?
Once, someone approached Srila Gaurakisora, and asked "We see many narrations in the Srimad Bhagavatam, and other scriptures which describe the realized devotees of the highest order. But these narrations are often contradictory with the persons we see today who are called Vaisnavas. Sometimes we see that the so-called great devotees of today seem to have just the opposite symptoms of the devotees described in the scriptures. Therefore, mercifully instruct us so we can identify the real devotees of the Lord." Srila Gaurakisora replied "When the sweet will of a pure devotee is combined with personal inspiration from Lord Krsna, such a compassionate soul, without consideration of birth, time and place, liberates the fallen souls and those adverse to the Lord. Revealing his personal wealth of pure love of Godhead, the great mahabhagavat devotee attracts the living entities so they can begin their search for pure dedication unto Lord Krsna. When this happens Lord Krsna apprahensively thinks,"There are so many fallen souls that are whole heartedly surrendering unto my pure devotee, who is as dear to Me as My very life. Now I am becoming so indebted to them. It will be very difficult for Me to clear My debt to them. Being their dependent, I will become captured simply by the desire of those devotees who have surrendered to My dearmost servants, those close servants who reside next to my heart."
For this reason, Krsna covers the eyes of the ordinary people in general, so that they cannot realize the qualities of his pure devotee. Krsna also tests the other living entities in this way, to see how attached they are to Him. Those symptoms which characterize Krsna's material energy, are a perverted replica of the traits exhibited by the pure devotees of the Lord. Therefore it is only by the independent desire of the pure devotees of the Lord who are so compassionate, that their real symptoms and spiritual form can be realized, even through the scriptures. "Sometimes it is seen that a pure devotee will offer an important position to a conditioned soul. In this way such a person is carefully kept at a distance from them. At other times the pure devotees of the Lord may become alarmed at attracting too many followers, and thus keep their natural qualities hidden. Sometimes the elevated devotees externally accept disciples always remain surrounded by them, consult them in every activity, and apparently accept service from them. However they cover their spiritual identity from them."
Srila Gaurakisora continued, "I have seen with my own eyes, a devotee in Vrndavana who would perform his bhajana in a solitary place. He lived in a village just north of Sri Radha-kunda. When anxiety ridden persons would aproach him he would pray to Lord Krsna for the removal of their mental and physical distress. Because of fulfilling their desires, he became famous and well-known as a great devotee. This brought about a great disturbance in his life. He was free from the desire for wealth, women and presitige, always compassionate to all living entities, and exemplary in character. Gradually, along with the fame of a pure devotee, he became very annoyed. Some time later that great soul had one of his very wealthy followers in Calcutta employ a young, beautiful wife of a sweeper a monthly salary to sit in front of his solitary place of bhajana. Consequently, people would come and think the elevated soul was having illicit sex with the young girl and collecting money out of greed. Others would come but because their material desires remained unfulfilled they would discontinue meeting him. He was actually a great Vaisnava devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. When pure devotees of the Lord compassionately manifest their mercy the faithful are attracted and surrender unto them. Eventually the surrendered soul realizes the spiritual identity of guru-deva. Extremely fortunate persons are not deprived of the Lord's and His devotees mercy. Real Vaisnavas often deceive persons in various ways in order to obscure their spiritual identity. If you want to know the spiritual identity of the mahabhagavat devotee then with the deepest sincerity and heart-felt aspiration, pray unto the lotus feet of Lord Nityananda and Lord Caitanya. By the causeless mercy of Lord Gauranga and Nitai Prabhu your heart becomes free from pride and filled with humility. Sri Sri Goura Nitai then reveals the pure vaisnavas spiritual identity in such a pure heart. The pure Vaisnava makes Sri Sri Gaura Nitai known to all and Sri Sri Gaura Nitai introduces the self realized Vaisnava. Therefore in the Caitanya Caritamrta the author Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja has stated,
ei dui bhai hrdayera ksali andhakara
Imitating The Pure Devotee
One celebate student, brahmacari who was born in a brahmana family came to see Srila Gaurakisora pretending to be interested in bhajana. Shortly following this many persons came to offer respect to the celebate student. The brahamacari, after some time, decided he would also begin to live in the same way as Srila Gaurakisora. He secretly collected money which he used to build a small grass hut for his bhajana like Srila Gaurakisora's on the bank of the Ganges river. The brahmacari thought that he would approach Srila Gaurakisora and get his permission to begin his solitary bhajana. When he approached Srila Gaurakisora, who was in direct contact with Supersoul, Srila Gaurakisora stood up and said, "If you want to perform bhajana, then it is very good. But if you enter into the house of maya, then you will be captured by even more impediments then now. You should give up your idea of living in that hut, and just live under the nearby trees in the area."
One proud devotee who considered himself a follower of Srila Gaurakisora asked, "You first told us to lock ourselves up in small huts and to perform our worship of the Supreme Lord. But now you are giving the instruction that we should leave our huts and live under the trees in order to perform proper worship. What is this?" Srila Gaurakisora then manifested his pastime of anger, and said, "I have given the correct instructions. The body is like a hut and the eyes are like the window shutters. A person who closes the wooden shutters of his hut in order to imitate the activities of the elevated devotees by simply copying what he sees them doing is not factually closing the shutters. The only alternative for such a person is to take shelter beneath a tree. If you follow the instructions of the devotees and the Lord, then you will be able to obtain what is to your real benefit. In this way, if one is faithful to the service of the devotees and the Lord he will be able to carry out those instructions. But if one imitates the character of the great devotees of the Lord, he will quickly be checked and fall down."
Later on, after the brahmacari had left, Srila Babaji Maharaja said, "Just see how the ordinary public's intelligence has become spoiled. They simply want some cheap adoration from the people in general by living in a secluded hut on the side of the road. But after a short time they become attracted to gaining wealth, and must leave. Persons who are not even properly acting in the lower stages of devotion, want to obtain to the higher stages of realization as exemplified by the pure devotee paramahamsas!" Not long after this, the brahmacari wanted to return to his previous home.
Afterwards one person came to Srila Gaurakisora and asked about the whereabouts of the brahmacari, "Why did that brahmacari become influenced by maya? How is this possible after he received the association of the devotees of the Lord? If one contacts the devotees of the Lord, how can he fail to reap the beneficial results of their association?" Srila Gaurakisora replied, "It is not enough to only act like one is associating with the Lord's devotees. If someone abandons the association of the elevated devotees before the desired result, he will remain deprived of the ultimate attainment. Maybe that brahmacari will not eat meat or fish, and maybe he will follow some external codes of moral conduct, but he will never be able to enter into the realm of pure dedication, hari-bhajana.
The day before the Rathayatra car festival Srila Gaurakisora called over some nearby residents and asked, "Will all of you attend the Rathayatra car festival tomorrow? There will be a grand festival at the Podamatala in Navadvipa with a large chariot. Another car festival will be held at the residence of a famous landowner in Purvashali. If you go there, you will able to eat various sweets such as rasagulas and flat rice with sweet yogurt."
In this way, Srila Gaurakisora told different persons in five or six places about the Rathayatra festival which would take place the following day. The people began to think that Srila Gaurakisora was inviting them to attend the Rathayatra festival.
Several literatures such as the Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Sri Caitanya Bhagavat and the Srimad Bhagavatam were read daily by varying residents in the presence of Srila Babaji Maharaja. Srila Babaji Maharaja would comment on the ultimate conclusions of these literatures. Srila Gaurakisora used to like to hear the pastimes of Prahlada Maharaja again and again. He often said that Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu also used to relish hearing the pastimes of Prahlada Maharaja. Sometimes Srila Gaurakisora would hear the Premabhakti-candrika and Prarthana of Narottama dasa Thakura and explain their deep devotional siddhanta. Persons would come and read these different books, but it was Srila Gaurakisora who would actually explain their purport.
The next day everyone assembled at the festival of the Rathayatra. Because everyone was gone to the festival there was no one to read from any of the literatures. On that day Srila Gaurakisora came outside and sat before his small hut with a sweet smile on his face. He commented, "Today I have found new life. Everyone has gone. Those who are offenders of the holy name leave the association of the devotees and the glorification of the Lord's names and qualities to go and see the Rathayatra festival. There they will see many beautiful young women and have a chance to associate with ordinary people. Persons simply enact a drama in the association of pure devotees but because they are not loyal to them, they drift away with the current of their material desires." All alone, Srila Gaurakisora began to loudly chant the glories of the holy name of the Lord. After seeing the Rathayatra festival, the residents gradually returned. They came before Srila Babaji Maharaja who was sitting in the gravest mood, not speaking to anyone.
The Devotees Deceit
When Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura was enacting his pastimes of illness at his home in Calcutta at Bhakti-bhavan, a materialistic Goswami came to Navadvipa to visit Srila Gaurakisora for some deceptive purpose. In order to put the gentleman off, Srila Gaurakisora said, "You should go to Calcutta, place Srila Bhaktivinoda on your head and bring him back to the holy abode of Navadvipa. Kindly go there and rescue him from Calcutta." The caste Goswami, who was materialistic in nature, was not perceptive to the exchange that these two self-realized personalities and intimate associates of Lord Caitanya were enacting.
tomara hrdaye sada,govinda-visrama
By appearing in this world, the vaisnava automatically brings the paraphernalia of the divine abode of Goloka and engages himself twenty four hours in the service of the Divine Couple. The prayer written by Srila Bhaktivinoda containing the lines, "grhete goloka bhaya" depicts his personal bhajana with the intimate associates of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Those who have become free from the delusion of the fleshy eye can directly realize this spiritual example. The worldly Goswami went to meet Srila Bhaktivinoda in Calcutta and told him what Srila Gaurakisora has requested. Srila Bhaktivinoda, hearing this, simply indicated that he extended his full blessings for Srila Gaurakisora's devotional bhajana. Later, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada elaborately explained to the Goswami who was unable to interpert these exchanges as follows, "When the great devotees notice our crooked intelligence they deceive us as mentioned by the logic in the verse,
ye yatha mam prapandyante tams tathaiva bhajamyaham.
The great devotees recognize the mentality
of those who approach them. They know that such
persons are not interested in their real spiritual
interests. Therefore, the mahabhagavata devotee
will often speak with self-interested persons in
such a way to favorably appeal to their worldly
tastes. In this manner the pure devotee continues
his internal solitary engagement in the Lord's service
with no impediment. When materialistic persons would
approach Srila Gaurakisora and express their different
fruitive interests they would be deprived of their
real interests when they would hear what satisfied
their mundane endeavors. Some persons received the
opportunity to become more involved in material
affairs when they heard ordinary stories concerning
rice, wheat, mustard oil, betel nut, potatoes, and
kitchen vegetables. Devotional association cannot
be obtained if an exploitive mentality based on
insincerity accompanies the practitioner. The pure
devotee exclusively eulogizes divine and eternal
truth in the presence of those who are devotionally
inspired and self surrendered. Gaurakisora
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