2: Behind the Screen
(Second part of interview)
I feel that everything can come to us when there is necessity in our service life. What is necessary for us is to keep ourselves in a clean devotional mood and position of service, then everything will come to us. Bilvamangal Thakur wrote that dharma (virtue); artha (wealth); kama (women and other desires)—all these will wait upon the true devotee. Even Muktidevi will try to serve that devotee, and will request of him, "What is my service? Please give me some service in your service-world." If we try to see, we can see that it is true. For one who wants to pleasingly serve his Divine Master, dharma, artha, kama, mukta—everything—they want to serve him. In this way we receive more and more inspiration to see, "Yes, it is possible." When we can see this, it is a symptom that progress is being made in our path of spiritual life.
If we go to the town centre, on the way we will see a particular tree at a certain place, particular shops, then a petrol pump, and gradually along our way we will receive in many ways confirmation of our progress towards our destination. Similarly we see many symptoms along the path of our spiritual life, and we are not fearful. On a battlefield many may die but also many will be successful.
Seeing our Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math I can say that I have no doubt that, on the whole, we are succeeding. We see many symptoms that bring me much happiness.
Duryodhan wanted to succeed in finding the Pandavas. If he could find them during their final year of exile, then they would have to return for a further twelve year period of banishment. Therefore Duryodhan with his men earnestly searched the forests, mountains, caves, etc., for the Pandavas, but without success. With almost the whole year being finished Duryodhan became very hopeless and he called a meeting of his top men. In that meeting Bhismadeva said to him, "You can't find the Pandavas? There are five of them but you cannot find even one?" Bhismadeva then smiled and said to all those in that grand assembly, "You are foolish. You are searching in the wrong places because you do not know the proper way to search for them. Searching in the caves, the mountains, the jungles, and so forth, is not the process. Actually, wherever the Pandavas live you will be able to see the symptoms of their presence. Wherever they are present the cows will give much milk, the trees will bear much fruit, the crops will grow in abundance, the rains will fall timely, the rivers will flow very happily, the breeze will be fresh and clean, and in every way the whole environment will be prosperous. If you search such a place, you will certainly find the Pandavas staying there. Your searching the jungles and caves is not the process to find the Pandavas, but if you search the district where these auspicious symptoms are present, there you will find them." Duryodhan had almost no time left, and immediately he sent scouts to search such places.
Remembering this, when I see here in Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math that the trees are bearing much fruit, the cows are giving much milk, the birds are singing, the residents are happily trying hard to serve Srila Guru Maharaj's Mission, and the many other auspicious symptoms present here, I feel these to be all very happy indications. They all show that we are proceeding to our life's goal.
Also books are being published from all over the world. Recently we received publications from London, Hungary, Brazil, and Mexico, as well as from here in India. In addition we received newsletters from Australia, London, and America. In this way also we can see that everything is going nicely, and I feel that this is the mercy of Srila Guru Maharaj.
In our practising life some disturbance must always come, but we don't care for that. One who tries to serve must receive some disturbance in this mundane world. One who does not try to serve will not be disturbed: he will simply be alone chanting on his beads without trying to exert any effort to serve. In such a way he will remain without disturbance—and without progress. But one who takes to the service-life must receive some disturbances, and that is also one kind of good symptom. If a sportsman runs but does not feel any pain in his legs, then that kind of running is not sufficient for him. It means he is not trying hard enough, and he won't win the race in that way. With a relaxed mood, service is not possible for the beginners. Service is always difficult, and who can do that must be benefitted.
Question: We hear that the people of Nabadwip are special people. What view should those from outside the Dham have of them?
Srila Maharaj: If we can see with transcendental vision we shall see the residents to be very auspicious. But what we see now is not always auspicious, as our vision is covered by illusion, Maya. Bhakti Vinod Thakur wrote in his Nabadwip Dham Mahatmya that we do not see what is actually here. Here everything is auspicious, but what we see is actually Maya, and who we see, they also are in illusion. But underneath the cover of Maya is the real, living Nabadwip Dham. We are to discover the living Nabadwip Dham through our devotion and through the mercy of the devotees of Mahaprabhu. That is the only way it is possible, otherwise the dust and everything within our mundane vision is in Maya. Behind our mundane vision lives the real Nabadwip Dham.
maya krpa kari jala uthaya yakhan
We shall see with proper vision only when Mayadevi will mercifully withdraw the cover from our eyes. And that is possible only by means of the soul's devotional mood. The jiva is to surrender to Mahaprabhu and to Nityananda Prabhu. Nityananda Prabhu is the master of Maya, and by His will Maya will remove the cover from our eyes. At that time everything will be revealed before us, and we shall be able to see the real transcendental Nabadwip Dham.
At the moment we are trying to see the real Nabadwip, but what we see is only a part of Maya. That is the main philosophy given by Bhakti Vinod Thakur; by Kaviraj Goswami; by Narahari Chakravarti Thakur in his Bhakti Ratnakar; and also by Prabodhananda Saraswatipada, as well as by all the Gaudiya-Vaishnava sampradaya.
We are trained by Srila Guru Maharaj and so we always try to see with our devotional mood according to his directives, and what comes before us we do not immediately accept as transcendental. We judge, then recognise. Judging is also a manifestation of our mundanity, but by the mercy of Srila Guru Maharaj we can sometimes recognise.
When Guru Maharaj disappeared, on that very same day a big mango tree left its body. I was surprised because it was a very strong tree. Within twenty-four hours all its leaves fell off and we could all understand that tree had left his body, but at the time we could not understand why he left. I thought the tree left because he could not tolerate the strong separation. He perhaps was very dear to Srila Guru Maharaj, and in deep separation he left. But later I discovered this to be not the only cause. Another two mango trees of similar size continued to live nearby, but this tree disappeared. Therefore I began to meditate further on why he left—and what actually is there. Then one day some feeling came within me. I felt that for the devotees attending arati and other worship of Guru Maharaj, two pillars would be necessary to support a roof to give them shade. One of those pillars would need to be close to the very point where that tree stood.
It was my nature not to kill any tree in Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math. Only I will interfere with the trees for a very essential, unavoidable cause. If that particular mango tree had remained I would have settled for a lesser design of building rather than cut it down, therefore that tree himself disappeared. And now you can see how Srila Guru Maharaj's samadhi mandir, The Temple of Union in Separation, has manifest there. Although I could not understand how the Temple would manifest, that tree could.
By Radha Kunda in Sridham Vrindavan you can see six trees. In the form of those trees the Panca Pandavas and Draupadi are now living. They gave a dream to Raghunath Das Goswami, "Please don't oust us: we are the Panca Pandavas living here in the form of these trees." We try to see everything in this Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math with this kind of vision.
Everything here is very auspicious. I always feel much happiness inside to touch and see the trees. I think it is the grace of Srila Guru Maharaj, and also the causeless mercy bestowed upon me by many Vaishnavas, that these feelings and some good sense have come to me. Sometimes it may not be fully felt, but knowledge is helping us to see that everything is transcendental and everything is very auspicious.
I have been in charge of making many things here in the Math, but as much as possible I always try to avoid giving any pain to others. I think that if our devotees will also gain this kind of vision by the mercy of Srila Guru Maharaj, they will be very benefited.
Here in the Dham there are two things the mundane and the transcendental and we must separate them, otherwise we will always be the loser.
In the supremely high position all transcendental feelings will come to the siddha-purusa. An example is Gaura Kisor Das Babaji Maharaj. One day some boys threw stones at him and hurled insults, but he reacted by thinking, "Oh, Krishna, You are very naughty. You are disturbing me while I'm walking along the road. Krishna, You are very naughty! I shall go to Mother Yasoda and tell her what kind of naughtiness You have. Hearing that, she will beat You." That kind of vision is very high, but it is real vision. When we shall have that kind of sight we shall see everything to be transcendental, and we won't be able to see anything before us as mundane. That was the kind of vision of Gaura Kisor Das Babaji Maharaj, Vamsi Das Babaji Maharaj, Jagannath Das Babaji Maharaj, Bhakti Vinod Thakur, Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Prabhupada, and our Srila Guru Maharaj. By the mercy of Srila Guru Maharaj that vision must come to us in the future, I have no doubt.
Question: This is the Golden Jubilee Year of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math. What should we think, what should be our meditation, and what mood of glorification should we have especially at this time?
Srila Maharaj: Actually at first I was not so aware that this is the Golden Jubilee Year, then suddenly it came to my attention and I immediately thought of my Srila Guru Maharaj. I have seen in his character his glorification of the Vaishnavas, of saparsada Mahaprabhu, and of the Dham. We saw that he likes very much to engage in service to the Vaishnavas, to Guru, to Mahaprabhu, to Radha-Krishna, and to Nabadwip Dham. Whenever I would propose something within these categories, he would become very happy and would immediately give his sanction. So when it came to my notice that this year is the Golden Jubilee Year I thought that if I were to tell Srila Guru Maharaj, "This year is the Golden Jubilee, I want to make some festival for that. Everyone observes a Golden Jubilee as a traditionally festive year for all sorts of organisations, whether businesses, institutions, or whatever. Now is coming the Golden Jubilee Year of our Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math so I wish also to make some special arrangements,"—I know he would give his permission happily. He would not only give his permission, but if I were to ask him to write an article for a Golden Jubilee publication, he, although unable to see or write, would certainly speak something into a tape recorder. I feel this very strongly.
Whenever I wanted to start any new seva programme I would always ask Srila Guru Maharaj first to see if he would be happy or not. But he never gave a negative answer: he always answered in the affirmative. Whether I wish to go to Badrikasram, or if I wish to go to Rameswaram—for the service of Mahaprabhu he always gave his permission. Therefore, when the inspiration came to me to make extra programmes of glorification and celebration during this Golden Jubilee Year, I thought, "Yes, I must try." Even I thought that even if no one will help me and I am unable to do anything on a big scale, at least I must print something. In this way I prepared myself and started. Now I see that everyone is very enthusiastic for the Golden Jubilee Year Festivals, therefore I am more and more happy. This year many things have already happened for the remembrance of the Golden Jubilee, and many other activities worldwide are planned and are in the making.
Actually for the quick manifestation of service, some special occasion is often necessary. So, in remembrance of our Golden Jubilee Year we must serve with four times the energy!
Every year the Western devotees enthusiastically engage in some "marathon" service. Also here we shall do "quick delivery" service. We shall try to do as much as possible for the service of Sri Sri Guru-Gauranga-Gandharvva-Govindasundar in many ways. Srila Rupa Goswami listed sixty-four kinds of service in Sri Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu. Mahaprabhu gave, in a condensed way, just five:
sadhu-sanga nama-sankirtan bhagavat-sravana
We must try to engage in all the different types of service: preaching; glorification of Hari, Guru, Vaishnava; service to the Math and devotees; parikrama of the main three Dhams Vrindavan, Puri and Nabadwip and printing and publishing books glorifying Sri Guru-Gauranga-Gandharva-Govindasundarjiu. Guru means the Divine Master's glorification, also we shall glorify the Vaishnavas, Gauranga Mahaprabhu, and Gandharvva-Govindasundar. During this year we can publish many books along these lines. Also we have a big ambition for further publishing worldwide.
Devotees can distribute prasadam, hold programmes covering several days, and arrange Nama-sankirtan and Nagar-sankirtan in many places and many ways. We can also begin new long-term projects. It is not generally found in our sampradaya, but we can make especially for the Golden Jubilee Year some seventy-two hours continuous sankirtan programmes with chanting and glorification accompanied by prasad distribution. We can make flower gardens and vegetable gardens for Guru-Gauranga-Gandharvva-Govindasundar. And for Their satisfaction we can cultivate rice, serve the cows by feeding them, washing them, and cleaning their gosala, and we can engage in any number of activities. Looking after the cows is a service very much liked by Govinda. Also we can give nourishment to the trees by applying fertilizer, and by removing insects and growth from them.
Question: What special service can the devotees living in other countries perform?
Srila Maharaj: In other countries everywhere, the devotees should hold festivals in remembrance of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math's Golden Jubilee Year. I gave some hint in the Golden Jubilee Invitation that they can make sankirttan preaching programmes, chant with mrdangas and karatals in the streets, distribute books, publish books, and in many ways glorify Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, wherever they may be. They can start weekly weekend meetings, and they can inaugurate a main annual meeting with festivals and Prasad distribution as well as two or three other large festivals yearly. They can do many things in their countries in remembrance of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math's Golden Jubilee. At least everyone can chant, engage in glorification, and make some meetings. If it is possible, I may be able to send to their countries from here Sripad Bhakti Ananda Sagar Maharaj or others. I am also eager to meet with the devotees in the West, and if it is the desire of Krishna it must happen.
My nature is to be hopeful. Until death I am hopeful and after death also I have no problem actually. When Srila Guru Maharaj gives us backing then what problem can there be?
raksa kabari tunha niscaya jani
Bhakti Vinod Thakur, addressing Krishna, said in Saranagati, "You must save us. It is your duty, I know, so what fear can I have? I can jump into the polluted waters of the Kaliya Lake without fear, and I can do anything." In that way enthusiasm must come inside the devotees who are associated with such transcendental knowledge. Rupa Goswami said that sometimes the devotees may be a little disappointed also (ghana tarala), but mostly the devotees are very enthusiastic in the association of Krishna. Krishna always gives us His association, and if we have the capacity, we can recognise it immediately.
When many problems are in front of me, I am eager to solve everything immediately, but it is not possible immediately therefore I sometimes feel some pain. At that time I think, "Everything comes by the will of Krishna so I should not be in too much anxiety about any situation." Krishna knows how to purify His devotee, and my only duty is that I must be a devotee's devotee. This also is always my intention. If everything will go in such a line, there will be no fear from anywhere. And our backing is very strong: our Srila Guru Maharaj.
Question: Finally, do you have any further message for the devotees, especially on this occasion of the Golden Jubilee?
Srila Maharaj: They will try to serve Srila Guru Maharaj heart and soul. Service to Srila Guru Maharaj means his Mission, his Deities, and his devotees. They can decorate their service, but these are the three main service duties. His Mission is living in every country and in a nice, decorated way they may try to do more and more.
I am happy with the devotees of the West, but they can do more and more, and if you ask me whether Srila Swami Maharaj is happy, I must reply that he is not. He always wants full service, not partial service. But Srila Guru Maharaj was mainly very accommodative in that way: he always accepted even partial service from the devotees. That is not the nature of Swami Maharaj: he wants always to take the full energy of the devotees. It is Guru Maharaj's desire also, but he would look and give his mercy wherever any service was done; and that gives more hope to the devotees. But the devotees must try in the line of Srila Swami Maharaj! And I like that also. Twenty-four hours per day service to Sri Guru and Vaishnava is necessary, but if it is not possible to do so for a whole year, then the minimum is to give that type of service for at least a few days.
Question: All the devotees are very indebted always to Your Divine Grace, even more so that you have taken the time and trouble to talk with us today.
Srila Maharaj: I also tried in this way to draw something from Srila Guru Maharaj for the devotees. He showed ill health, but I tried for the devotees wealth. I don't know how much I was successful, but I think the intention was very good. Actually one moment can give us our full wealth, and also one inauspicious moment can give us our full destruction. I have seen this in my life.
One second, if it comes in a bad way can destroy everything we have, and one second coming in a good way can give us everything.
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