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Remembering Early Days

His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad
Srila Bhakti Nirmal Acharya Maharaj
Bengali/English lecture on Sri Vyasa Puja Day
29 September 2019, Tarakeswar, part 1


মূকং করোতি বাচালং পঙ্গুং লঙ্ঘয়তে গিরিম্ ।
যৎকৃপা তমহং বন্দে শ্রীগুরুং দীনতারণম্ ॥

mukam karoti vachalam pangum langhayate girim
yat krpa tam aham vande sri-gurum dina-taranam

"The dumb can speak, the lame can climb a hill—all it takes is mercy from Gurudev."

(Bhavartha Dipika)

গুর্ব্বাভীষ্টসুপূরকং গুরুগণৈরাশীষসংভূষিতং
চিন্ত্যাচিন্ত্যসমস্তবেদনিপুণং শ্রীরূপপন্থানুগম্ ।
গোবিন্দাভিধমুজ্জ্বলং বরতনুং ভক্ত্যন্বিতং সুন্দরং
বন্দে বিশ্বগুরুঞ্চ দিব্যভগবৎ-প্রম্­ণো হি বীজপ্রদম্ ॥

gurvvabhista-supurakam guru-ganair asisa-sambhusitam
chintyachintya-samasta-veda-nipunam sri-rupa-panthanugam
govindabhidham ujjvalam vara-tanum bhakty anvitam-sundaram
vande visva-gurun cha divya-bhagavat-premno hi bija-pradam

I offer my obeisance unto he who perfectly fulfils his Gurudev's most cherished desires; who is fully adorned with the blessings of his Gurudev’s associates; who is expert in all aspects of Vedic knowledge, both conceivable and inconceivable; who is the pre-eminent follower of Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu's line; who is known as 'Govinda'—Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj; whose beautiful, effulgent, exalted form is infused with pure devotion; who is the Guru of the entire universe; and who is the giver of the seed of divine love for the Supreme Lord.

Today's day is accepted as the day of my birthday. Actually I did not remember when was my birthday, what day I came to this world... [In another instance, His Divine Grace revealed that this day was selected by Srila B.S. Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj himself.]

I remember when I was twelve years old, I would always read Srimad Bhagavad-gita. "Krsna mata, krsna pita, krsna prana dhana (কৃষ্ণ মাতা, কৃষ্ণ পিতা, কৃষ্ণ প্রাণ ধন). Krishna is my mother, Krishna is my father, Krishna is my very life and wealth." Krishna is my mother, Krishna is my father—I knew that, I had such sukriti. Since my childhood I have always been inspired to read Srimad Bhagavad-gita. My father did not like it, but I would read it secretly. I would bathe, put on a dhoti and go to the Deities' room before going to school. There, I would close the door and read Bhagavad-gita. People mostly did some puja in the mornings and evenings, and nobody would go to the Deities' room at other times, so nobody even knew when I went there. When I saw that nobody would see me, I would sneak to the Deities' room and stay there reading Srimad Bhagavad-gita. In the middle school also, from the sixth grade, we had a subject called Religion (Dharma). I heard many stories like those of Ekalavya, Dhruva Maharaj, Prahlad Maharaj, and others at those lessons, and I liked it a lot. I remember I also got the highest mark on this subject (84-95%).

Anyhow, I do not know by what pull I have come here.

কি জানি কি বলে তোমার ধামেতে
হইনু শরণাগত ।

ki jani ki bale tomare dhamete
ha-inu saranagata

"I do not know by what force I have taken shelter within Your abode..."

I do not know what has brought me here, who has brought me here, and I will never know it. Gurudev always told me that when Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj gave him sannyas in 1985, he also gave him all responsibility for this Mission. Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj stayed until 12 August 1988. After that time, foreign devotees wanted Gurudev to go preaching abroad, and this was also the desire of Srila Sridhar Maharaj; but Gurudev thought at that time, "I have one servitor with me who cooks and helps me, he can go abroad with me, but I do not have anybody who would look after the Math if I go abroad..." That was the source of Gurudev's anxiety. Even in those days, there were some godbrothers who used to disturb Gurudev a lot, and those who are unfortunate are taking their association now. That is why Gurudev worried at the time, "Who will I leave in charge of the Math when I go abroad?"

When I joined Gurudev's Mission in 1992, Gurudev spoke to me one evening. He asked me, "What service do you like?" I said, "Whatever service you give, that is the service I like." Gurudev knew that I was educated, that I had got some mundane education, I told him about it myself—he asked me and I could not lie to him, but I did not show it in front of other devotees, so they used to think I was a simple cowherd who was good at looking after cows. I used to serve at the goshala and in the crops fields of the Math in those days—my main duty was to look after the cultivation of the crops fields. I would pay obeisance to the Deities and then go to the goshala. That was my habit. Guru Maharaj also said that he was habituated with serving cows. He would say, "If you serve the cows of the Mission, then your Deity will be happy, your servitors will be good, and the temple will run well, but if the service to cows and Deities is obstructed, it creates quarrel and dissension, so much problem comes then." So, when Gurudev asked me, "What service do you like?" I told him, "Whatever service you give me, that is the service I like." Then he told me that somebody had recently poisoned his dogs. You know that Gurudev had favourite Alsatian dogs that used to guard the Math. Whenever somebody did some wrong at night, the dogs would be after them. So, one godbrother of Gurudev had a paid goshala worker give poison to the dogs at night and before mangal arati they were dead. You know, some workers will even kill for fifty rupees. I caught that man and chastised him. I just remembered his name was Ghupi. He gave poison to the dogs for fifty rupees, and those were huge Alsatian dogs, if they stand on their rare legs they were each perhaps six feet tall. So, Gurudev told me, "Those dogs are dead now. If you can guard the temple at night, I will be happy." I agreed and started guarding the Math at night. I still have that habit of light sleep even now—I often wake up at 1-2 o'clock at night. I go to bed at 10, but I do not want to sleep, so I read some books and then go to sleep—I lie down reading, fall asleep and then wake up looking around for the book. It still happens quite often. I used to study a lot at night also, then I worked till late, etc. This is how the habit came. Anyhow, this is what happened in Gurudev's time and this was the beginning of my service...



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Rupa Goswami: Meeting Mahaprabhu
'Due to the great crowds in Prayaga, Mahaprabhu went to a place called Dasasvamedha ghat. It was there that the Lord instructed Sri Rupa Goswami and empowered him in the philosophy of devotional service.'


Nitai gunamani amara
'Nitai, the jewel of all good qualities, my Nitai, the jewel of all good qualities, brought a flood of divine love and inundated the earth.'
নিতাই গুণমণি আমার

Devotion must come without emotion.