Giving Respect:
What to Do and What Not to Do

His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad
Srila Bhakti Nirmal Acharya Maharaj
Caracas, Venezuela
19 September 2009

 

One time, when Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj was in America, he wrote a letter to Srila Sridhar Maharaj. (I have that letter with me, Gurudev it to me, and it is a very good letter, I saw it.) He had something like an infection in his back and was suffering very much when he wrote it. In the letter, he addressed Srila Sridhar Maharaj as his siksa guru, "Om Vishnupad Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj." He wrote humbly, "I am living in this America, suffering so much, and you live in Gupta Govardhan—please give me some mercy, please rescue me from here. I am suffering so much, maybe I am making some offence, please rescue me." Param Guru Maharaj encouraged him a lot, gave him energy, "You are a saktyavesa avatar of Nityananda Prabhu. You are living in America now, but even if you live in hell, it is not a problem because you are an associate (parsada) of Nityananda Prabhu—wherever you are, that is Vrindavan."

Gurudev, our Gurupadpadma, also stayed with his Guru Maharaj, Param Guru Maharaj, at Sita Kanta Banerjee Lane, Kolkata, in Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj's house—it was not Srila Swami Maharaj's birthplace, it was a rented house. Gurudev said that during that time Srila Swami Maharaj taught him Srimad Bhagavad-gita, and when there was some house programme, Srila Swami Maharaj would take him there along. Srila Swami Maharaj told him, "I am a white-clad householder, and you are a saffron-clad brahmachari, so you can sit on the vyasasan and read Srimad Bhagavatam, and I can explain it." This is the relationship they had. Moreover, Srila Swami Maharaj said about Gurudev to the effect, "I admit that Gaurendu is my son."

One time, when Srila Sridhar Maharaj heard Srila Swami Maharaj was coming from the West, he cleaned and prepared his bed so that he could sleep on it. When Srila Swami Maharaj came, Srila Sridhar Maharaj told him, "Come, your bed is ready." When Srila Swami Maharaj heard that it was Srila Sridhar Maharaj's bed, he stepped back and said to Gurudev, "Gaurendu, do you think I will sleep here? Have you become crazy? No, no, I cannot sleep here. Where is your room? I can go there!"

This is the kind of respect Srila Swami Maharaj give to Srila Sridhar Maharaj. I heard it from Gurudev. This is an example for us how we must respect senior Vaishnavs. You can also find some lessons and teachings in Chaitanya-charitamrita, you can see what Mahaprabhu's conception is. When some devotees dishonoured others, Mahaprabhu chastised them. When Jagadananda Prabhu once showed some disrespect to Sanatan Goswami in some small matter, Mahaprabhu chastised him very hard for that. This is how it happened:

When Sanatan Goswami came to Puri from Vrindavan, his body was very bad and he wanted to commit suicide, thinking, "My body is getting rotten, I cannot serve Lord Krishna, Vaishnavs with this body, then I better die," but he was afraid to tell Mahaprabhu about it. He told about his intention to Haridas Thakur, and one day when he came to Haridas Thakur's house, Mahaprabhu was also there and He found out that Sanatan Goswami was going to commit suicide. Mahaprabhu said to him, "What are you thinking to do? It is not your property, it is My property!" "Diksa-kale bhakta kare atma-samarpana, sei-kale krsna tare kare atma-sama sama." (দীক্ষাকালে ভক্ত করে আত্মসমর্পণ, সেইকালে কৃষ্ণ তারে করে আত্মসম, Cc, 3.4.192) It means, "When you surrendered to Me, when you took initiation from Me, you gave everything to Me, so how can you spoil and destroy others' property? Moreover," said Mahaprabhu, "deho-tyag tamo-dharma: if you leave your body, it is not dharma (religious), it is tamasik. Do you think that if you leave your body you will get Krishna? If as long as you are alive in this world you serve Krishna, then you can get Krishna." Sanatan Goswami Prabhu then said, "Prabhu, this body is getting rotten, what can I do with this body?..." When Sanatan Goswami said it, Mahaprabhu forcefully embraced him, and he became very sad, "Oh, I have made such a big offence! I always want to keep far from Mahaprabhu because my body is rotten, but He forcefully came to me!"

In the meantime, Jagadananda Prabhu saw this and thought, "Oh, this kind of person has come, and Mahaprabhu is always treating him with so much attachment..." Jagadananda Prabhu could not tolerate Sanatan Goswami so much because Jagadananda Prabhu was Satyabhama before. There are two moods, vamya and daksinya; Rukmini (in daksinya-bhava) always thinks, "Oh, Krishna will run away..." and Satyabhama (in vamya-bhava) thinks, "Krishna is my property! Why will He run away?" and Krishna is always afraid of Satyabhama. Jagadananda is that kind of person, and Mahaprabhu is also always afraid of him.

Jagadananda Prabhu has so much affection for Mahaprabhu. He was Krishna's associate, and he knew who Mahaprabhu was, why Mahaprabhu had taken sannyas, he knew everything. Before, when Krishna lived in Dvaraka, all queens, including Satyabhama and Rukmini, served Him in many different ways, and now Krishna Himself came in this world as a sannyasi and lived a very renounced life, sleeping on the floor, using banana leaves as His bed, and so on. Jagadananda Prabhu could not tolerate it, he always thought, "How much He is suffering!" One time, he dried some banana leaves and stuffed them into some cotton cloth he had and made a pillow and a mattress for Mahaprabhu. This is how Jagadananda Prabhu served Mahaprabhu.

Another time, Jagadananda Prabhu brought some scented oil from West Bengal. A sannyasi never uses oil for message, so Govinda, Mahaprabhu's servitor, always massaged the Lord without any water or oil. Jagadananda Prabhu brought that oil and told Govinda, "Govinda, please keep this oil for Mahaprabhu." When Mahaprabhu felt the smell, He asked, Govinda, what is this?" Govinda said, "Oh, it is some oil, Jagadananda Prabhu brought it." Mahaprabhu replied, "Oh, OK, looks like Jagadananda wants to have a family life with Me!" Jagadananda Prabhu heard it and became angry. He threw that jar of oil on the ground and ran to his house—he closed the door and did not come out for three days. When Mahaprabhu heard that Jagadananda had not eaten, bathed or come out of his house, He came to him and said, "I have not taken any prasadam, I have also been fasting for three days, and I will eat only if you cook for Me." Jagadananda Prabhu became shy and immediately came out and they took prasadam together—his anger was gone...

So, this is that Jagadananda Prabhu whom Mahaprabhu chastised. What did He chaste him for?

One day, Jagadananda Prabhu told Sanatan Goswami, "Mahaprabhu told you to stay in Vrindavan, so why are you here? Go to Vrindavan." Sanatan Goswami came and said to Mahaprabhu, "I have some time and I want to go Vrindavan, even Jagadananda also says I should go..." Mahaprabhu became unhappy, "What?! I can tell you this, but how can Jagadananda tell you what to do? He is such a small boy! Sanatan, you are My Guru, and Jagadananda dares teach you?!" Mahaprabhu could not tolerate this kind of dishonour.

 

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