Gurudev's Teaching and Pastimes
His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad
Gurudev always preached Mahaprabhu's Siksastakam all over the world: be humble, tolerant and give honour to others. Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur also wrote,
তৃণাধিক হীন দীন অকিঞ্চন ছার ।
trnadhika hina, dina, akinchana chhara
Give up your false ego, and always consider yourself lower than grass, poor, needy, and mean.
বৃক্ষসম ক্ষমাগুণ করবি সাধন ।
vrksa-sama ksama-guna karabi sadhana
Practise tolerance like a tree. Stop ill-treating others, instead nurture them.
জীবন-নির্ব্বাহে আনে উদ্বেগ না দিবে ।
jivana-nirvahe ane udvega na dibe
Do not trouble others for your own upkeep, and forget your own happiness in the course of helping others.
Trnadhika hina, dina, akinchana chhara: you must be humble like grass. Vraja gopis left everything for Krishna—even their honour, their shame, everything. They did not think about themselves, they always thought about Krishna, how to make Krishna happy. Our Gurudev also always thought how to make his Gurudev happy.
There was a period when Gurudev lived in Kolkata while Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj lived in Nabadwip—Gurudev would sometimes come to Nabadwip to see him. One time, Srila Sridhar Maharaj told everybody, "If Govinda Maharaj gives me medicine, I will take it, otherwise I will not take any medicine." Another time, when Gurudev left Nabadwip for Kolkata (at that time the direct road through the bridge was not there, so he would take another road), Srila Sridhar Maharaj sent one devotee to stop Gurudev's car. He said, "Stop him, I have pain in my heart." The devotees quickly took his bicycle and stopped Gurudev's car. Gurudev came back to the temple and said, "Maharaj, I left just five minutes ago and you were fine. What has happened?" Srila Sridhar Maharaj said, "After you left, I felt some pain in my heart, but now that you are here I feel OK. You must stay here today. Stay for one-two days." Gurudev laughed remembering it, he would say, "Anyhow, by hook or by crook, he did not want me to go to Kolkata. He always wanted to stop me." That kind of love and affection Srila Sridhar Maharaj gave to Gurudev.
The day when Gurudev joined the Mission in 1947, was Nrisingha Chaturdasi day and everyone was fasting from morning to evening on that day. Gurudev was a young boy and he did not know what was called fasting (he did not know how to fast), so he was very hungry. Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj was chanting at his veranda downstairs, in front of his room, and asked Gurudev,
"Are you hungry?"
"Yes, I am," answered Gurudev.
"What can I give you today?"
"I saw one ripe papaya on the tree," said Gurudev.
"Can you climb the papaya tree?"
"Yes, I can, it is not a problem."
"OK, climb it and bring the papaya."
Then Gurudev brought that papaya to Srila Sridhar Maharaj and Srila Sridhar Maharaj said, "Now you can take it." Such was Srila Sridhar Maharaj's love and affection to him.
Even when Srila Sridhar Maharaj was at first living on the bank of the Ganges in a thatched house, many of his godbrothers would come to see him. He would often keep some two-three-day-old prasadam (some sandesh, for example) and when his godbrothers would come, Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj told Gurudev, "Give it to them." Gurudev got to serve Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Saranga Goswami Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Prajnan Keshav Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Dayita Madhav Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Kamal Madhusudan Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Vichar Jajavar Maharaj and others. He considered it his great fortune that he had got that opportunity to serve all those godbrothers, all those great personalities.
Gurudev also told this story. In summer season, the devotee who was in charge of storekeeping (bhandari, ভাণ্ডারী) asked Gurudev to pick mangoes from the mango trees every day. He would use Gurudev to climb the trees because Gurudev was young and actually liked climbing trees, but that storekeeper would take good mangoes for Guru Maharaj and also keep some in the kitchen for the Deities, and he would always all the rotten mangoes to Gurudev. One day Gurudev thought of a plan, "OK, he is giving me only rotten mangoes, I will teach him a lesson!" What did he do? He took a plastic bag, climbed a tree and put some good mangoes in that bag leaving it to hang on a branch. After he had given some mangoes to the storekeeper, he climbed the tree again and ate those mangoes. The storekeeper saw it and, when Gurudev got down, he hit him. Gurudev screamed and the manager brought him to Srila Sridhar Maharaj.
"What has happened?" asked Srila Sridhar Maharaj.
The manager replied, "This young boy is stealing mangoes from the tree!"
"OK, you go, I will take care of it." After the storekeeper left, he turned to Gurudev and asked him, "Is it true? Did you eat stolen mangoes?"
Gurudev explained, "I did, because every day I work so hard to bring him mangoes, but he gives me only bad mangoes."
"It is not good because when some fruit grows on a tree you must first give it to the Deities, then you can take it. This is the rule."
"OK," said Gurudev, "I will not take it again..."
"Do not worry, if you need anything, come to me. If you are hungry and you want some mango, I will give it to you."
Then Srila Sridhar Maharaj gave some good mangoes to Gurudev and Gurudev ate them very happily. He went outside and showed it to the manager who had beaten him, "You see? You are giving me a slap, you are chastising me, but my Guru Maharaj has given me good mangoes!"
This is how Srila Sridhar Maharaj showed so much love to Gurudev. He always depended on him in everything. So many sannyasis, so many great scholars came to him, but he finally chose our Gurudev as the acharya, as his successor. We can see then how much love and affection he had for him. Even Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj Prabhupad said, "I have only one son." Srila Swami Maharaj had sons, but he said, "I have only one son, that is Gaurendu Brahmachari." When Srila Swami Maharaj Prabhupad was coming back from his first preaching in the West, he wanted to give the news to his siksa-guru Srila Sridhar Maharaj, so when he was coming back, Srila Sridhar Maharaj had actually cleaned and prepared his own bed for him...
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