CENTENARY ANTHOLOGY : FOREWORD
The Exclusive Line of Srila Saraswati Thakur
Written by His Holiness Sripad Bhakti Pavan Janardan Maharaj. Formerly printed in the form of a Centenary Sri Vyasa-puja offering
All glories to His Divine Grace, Om Visnupad Paramahamsa Thakur Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj, the most illustrious follower of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur and who is ever giving the unlimited mercy of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to the fallen souls. He has appeared as our most Divine Guardian. He is ever radiant in his mercy, and, resplendent like the morning sun, he is illuminating the most hidden recesses of our hearts.
Srila Guru Maharaj's conclusions embody the full siddhanta of the line of Srila Rupa Goswami, and his beautiful poetic style shines with the most sublime Ujjvala-rasa revealed by Sri Gauranga to His true followers.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has glorified the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya Sampradaya. As an effulgent locket adorns a necklace, so Mahaprabhu appeared in the Sampradaya began by Lord Brahma: Krsna hoite chatur-mukha. There are of course four Sampradayas: one was begun by Brahma, one by the Kumaras, one by Laksmi and one by Lord Siva. Their preceptorial lines are continuing, and their followers present the conclusions of such stalwarts in their respective Sampradayas as Ramanuja, Madhvacharya, Visnuswami and Nimbarkacharya.
Still, in the words of Srila Guru Maharaj,
e-rupa aroti brahma sambhu agochara,
"The divine worship of Mahaprabhu is beyond the vision of even Lord Brahma or Lord Siva. Only by receiving the mercy of a devotee of Lord Gauranga can one attain such perfection." Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appeared in the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya Sampradaya, but what he came to give is beyond the vision of the preceptor of the Sampradaya, Lord Brahma himself. It is also beyond the purview of Lord Siva. Both are mahajans, and recognized devotees, still they are unable to participate in the exclusive devotion given by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and known to His internal devotees such as Srila Guru Maharaj. Rather they ever pray to have bestowed upon them the mercy of Mahaprabhu's true followers so they may continue the progressive development of their devotion.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is actually situated in His own internal Sampradaya, although apparently appearing within the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya Sampradaya. Madhavendra puri-vara, sisya-vara sri-isvara. Who preceded Mahaprabhu and showed the deep mahabhava mood of separation of Srimati Radharani was Sri Madhavendra Puri. In Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta, Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj progressively describes the deep mood of Srila Madhavendra Puripad expressed in the verse:
ayi dina-dayardra natha he,
"O my Lord! O most merciful master! O master of Mathura! When shall I see You again?" There it is noted that, "Actually this verse was spoken by Srimati Radharani Herself, and by Her mercy only was it manifest in the words of Madhavendra Puri. Only Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has tasted the poetry of this verse. No fourth person is capable of understanding it."
Srila Madhavendra Puri's effulgence of Krishna-prema showed, in the original sprout form, the glory of Mahaprabhu's Sampradaya. Although he was formally situated in the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya Sampradaya, prior to his appearance there was no one in that line who displayed the deep Love of Godhead, the mood of Krishna-prema of Madhavendra Puri. His disciple was the most fortunate Sri îswara Puri, who was accepted as the preceptor of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
When Mahaprabhu visited the place of the appearance of Lord Krishna in Mathura, and was dancing before the Deity of Sri Kesava, an elderly brahmana began to also dance in ecstatic love, Krishna-prema, along with the Lord. Later, Mahaprabhu asked that brahmana where he had acquired such love. The elderly brahmana replied that he had a connection with Srila Madhavendra Puri, who had visited his house and accepted him as a disciple. He also told Mahaprabhu Himself:
kintu tomara prema dekhi' mane anumani
"Upon seeing Your ecstatic love, I can just imagine that You must have some relationship with Madhavendra Puri. This is my understanding. This kind of ecstatic love can be experienced only by one who has a relationship with Madhavendra Puri. Without him, even a scent of such transcendental ecstatic love is impossible." Without a connection with Sri Madhavendra Puri, such Love of Godhead is not possible.
Srila Guru Maharaj has always said that we are not worshippers of form, but of substance. There is a qualitative presence that is expressed in Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta. We are not interested in mere general expressions like the Guru-parampara, but we are interested in the living line of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's Sampradaya which is manifest in the hearts of the most qualified representatives of the Lord. Just as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is much more than the Yuga-avatar, being the most sublime combination of Rasa-raj, Sri Krishna, with Mahabhava, Srimati Radharani, similarly there are personalities who embody the presence of Sri Madhavendra Puri.
In more recent times, that most divine presence again revealed itself in the person of Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur. Srila Guru Maharaj composed his beautiful Srimad Bhaktivinoda-viraha Dasakam during the time when Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur was personally present in this world. There, Srila Guru Maharaj reveals:
sri-gauranumatam svarupa-viditam rupagrajenadrtam
"That which is the Gracious Gift of Sri Gaurachandra, the deep, internal purport of which is known by Sri Swarup Damodar, that which is adored by Sri Sanatan Goswami, and distributed by the Rasa-tattvacharyas headed by Sri Rupa Goswami; that which is tasted and enriched by Sri Raghunath Das Goswami and followers, and tenderly protected by Sri Jiva Goswami and his associates; and that which is venerated from afar by the great personalities like Mahadev, lord of the gods, and Brahma, grandfather of the world—O wonder of wonders, that ecstatic nectar of the exclusive service of the lotus feet of Sri Radha—you hold the perfect position to mercifully give even that to us."
When Srila Guru Maharaj began to present his composition glorifying Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur before Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, at first Srila Saraswati Thakur listened in a very scrutinizing way to the initial verses. But as Srila Guru Maharaj continued in his presentation, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur became immensely pleased and appreciative, and commented that he was confident and satisfied that at least one of his followers was qualified to continue and properly represent his siddhanta and the essence of Mahaprabhu's line.
Srila Guru Maharaj has eternally glorified the quality of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur in his many beautiful compositions such as Sri Sri Prabhupada-padma Stavakah, which to this day is sung in temples all over the world by the followers of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Prabhupada. Srila Guru Maharaj has given us this beautiful pranam verse in glorification of his Spiritual Master which Srila Guru Maharaj himself has explained:
"With his first step, he vigorously cut asunder the whole plane of exploitation, and with his second, he has put a stop to all the calculations of the different scholars with their different conceptions of salvation, or liberated stages. With his third step, he has minimized the hardness and stiffness of the rules and regulations of calculative devotional service, by the touch of divine love: crossing Vaikuntha, he has given us the worship of Radha and Govinda.
"Calculation, the rules and regulations, awe, reverence, all these things are minimized, checked, slackened with the softness of Vrndavan within, and with the hardness of a devastator without, he created havoc in the materialistic world, fighting with one and all. Single-handedly fighting against the whole world, and cutting asunder everything—that was his external attitude. And his second attitude was to put a stop to all scholarly researchers and doctorates of different departments, and to stop their boasting research; and third, to minimize, to slacken the grandeur of the worship of Narayan. He caused the domain of love to descend into this plane with love from the heart as all in all. With that we come to serve our object of worship, and he represented the service of Radha-Govinda as the highest attainment. That was his history. The real existence of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur Prabhupada is in bhaktisiddhanta-vani, his divine teachings. May that bhaktisiddhanta-vani dance eternally within the core of your heart."
When Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur was leaving this world, he called for Srila Guru Maharaj. In a gathering of his disciples he asked Srila Guru Maharaj to sing Sri Rupa Manjari-pada. Previously, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur had examined Srila Guru Maharaj, and was satisfied that he could represent the essential line of Sri Gaurachandra, given by His true representative and follower, Srila Rupa Goswami. Now, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur gave the charge of that line to Srila Guru Maharaj in a way that many senior godbrothers present described as a "mystic transmission" of responsibility.
After Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Prabhupada departed from this world, his disciples sought out the association of Srila Guru Maharaj. It was not any formality which attracted them, any formal delegation of responsibility assigned to Srila Guru Maharaj. It was more intrinsic: they found in Srila Guru Maharaj that effulgent Krishna-prema which accompanies the highest realizations of the Rupanuga line. It was this divine presence that attracted them, that made them ardently desire his association.
Their attraction for the association of Srila Guru Maharaj was not because of his rank or seniority; he was not the most senior Vaisnava present. At that time there were other godbrothers of Srila Guru Maharaj, disciples of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, that were senior in the Mission to Srila Guru Maharaj; but they them-selves came to associate with him. Prominent devotees accepted sannyas from him, and saw him as their Sannyas-guru. Leading disciples of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur felt inspired by Srila Guru Maharaj and looked towards him for his approval and inspiration in their own endeavours to preach and present the philosophy of their Spiritual Master.
Srila Guru Maharaj has always presented the highest realizations of the Gaudiya-Vaisnava line, the true teachings of Srila Rupa Goswami. During the time that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur was present, Srila Guru Maharaj was a prominent preacher. After Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur left this world, many came to Nabadwip to associate with Srila Guru Maharaj. When we look to personalities like Srila Rupa Goswami or Srila Sanatan Goswami, we do not count the number of disciples they had or how many temples they established. Their contribution is never to be judged in such a superficial and neophyte manner. Actually all preaching and inspiration is derived from them alone, and the substance that they came to give is non-different from Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the internal reasons for His descent.
Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj gave so much to those who actually can appreciate the real Sampradaya of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the line of Srila Rupa Goswami. Without an appreciation for him it will not be possible for devotees today to ever know what are the essential teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu or ever aspire to know what is Krishna-prema, love of Godhead.
For the last forty-two years of his life, Srila Guru Maharaj was always in the association of his disciple and personal friend, Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj, his confidant and chosen successor. So intimately were Srila Guru Maharaj and Srila Govinda Maharaj related that one could consider their two personalities as one combined existence. For instance, if it be true that Srila Guru Maharaj for reasons of his health, and to ultimately 'percolate' his high realizations, remained in his Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math in Nabadwip, he ultimately counted on the presence of Srila Govinda Maharaj, who he imbued with an indomitable spirit to go out and give his own high realizations to the whole world. We are ever seeing the magnanimous and benevolent nature of Srila Govinda Maharaj, and we consider it to be synonymous with Srila Guru Maharaj's desire to give the essential teachings of Mahaprabhu to the ever-expanding Gaudiya-Vaisnava world, who so much need them.
Although superficially it may seem that Srila Guru Maharaj remained apart in his Math, actually it was not so. Srila Guru Maharaj depended on Srila Govinda Maharaj to assist him in his mission, was himself inspired by Srila Govinda Maharaj to share his beautiful real-izations with the world, and ultimately entrusted everything to the hands of his beloved disciple: his Teachings, his Deities, his Realizations, his Math, his Mission, his Life, Love and Inspiration.
Srila Guru Maharaj saw in Srila Govinda Maharaj the qualities of one who could continue his mission and fully represent his deep real-izations. Srila Govinda Maharaj is most qualified to give the essential conclusions of Mahaprabhu's teachings and the conclusions of Srila Guru Maharaj and the Acharyas who represent the line of Srila Rupa Goswami. Srila Guru Maharaj dedicated so many years to prepare Srila Govinda Maharaj for this great responsibility and considered that by seating Srila Govinda Maharaj in his own chair that his endeavour was now complete. Those who supposedly follow Srila Guru Maharaj but cannot appreciate and honor his desire do him a great disservice. When Vallabha Bhatta said he could not accept the authority of Sridhar Swami (who had previously commented on the Srimad-Bhagavatam), Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu concluded:
svami na mane yei jana vesyara bhitare tare koriye ganana
"A woman who does not follow her swami [husband] is no better than a prostitute."
I offer my dandavat-pranams at the lotus feet of Srila Guru Maharaj, Srila Govinda Maharaj, and their eternal associates and followers. They are all capable of flooding this entire universe with that Krishna-prema that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and his Parsada devotees came to give. They are each an ocean of mercy and are the only shelter for the fallen souls. I pray that they will not leave me behind. My prayer is that they will ever keep me near to them.
Foreword: The Exclusive Line of Srila Saraswati Thakur
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