Shri Shrimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja
November 9, 2002
Today is a very auspicious day. It is the appearance day of param-pujyapada nitya-lila-pravista om visnupada Shrila Bhakti Shri Rupa Siddhanti Gosvami Maharaja. He was born and brought up in East Bengal. He was a learned scholar and a good writer. When he first came to Shrila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, he saw that all the brahmacaris in the temple were very learned, and he thought, "I am not learned, so I should return to my home. There I will study Sanskrit, law, and other subjects, and then I will join and serve Shrila Prabhupada."
He returned home and began to study law; but our Guru Maharaja, his elder god-brother and also like his father, went to his home and inspired him, "Oh, what will law do for you? Law cannot give you love and affection. At once return to the matha and study love and affection under the guidance of Shrila Prabhupada. You are wasting so much time, and perhaps you will die in the meantime. Please come at once." By the inspiration of our Gurudeva, he returned to the matha.
The name given to him by Shrila Prabhupada was Bhakti Siddha-svarupa brahmacari, meaning "the personification of perfected bhakti." Shrila Prabhupada selected a very good name for him.
Bhakti Siddha-svarupa brahmacari was so bold – very, very bold. He once went to preach in East Bengal, in Dhaka, with pujyapada Nemi Maharaja. Nemi Maharaja was an extremely learned person and an excellent scholar. Shrila Prabhupada used to send him to learned circles. He inspired all audiences to laugh and weep, and he inspired all by his scholarship. Nemi Maharaja was giving class there in Dhaka, and because Siddha-svarupa brahmacari was a good speaker, he called out to him, "Oh, Siddha-svarupa brahmacari, please speak something."
Bhakti Siddha-svarupa brahmacari began to speak boldly, saying that, "Vivekananda is not vivekananda (meaning "one who has knowledge and a sense of discrimination)." In other words he saw the real meaning of the word in connection to that person and proclaimed, "Vivekananda has no knowledge at all. Vivekananda went to Western countries like America and gave a class on zero, saying that the world is zero. In other words, he was speaking Buddhist and mayavada philosophy. So he is Vi-ve-ka-nanda, not Vivekananda." *[See endnote 1]
He added that Rabindranath Tagore, who had received a nobel prize, was nothing more than a ramachagal, a goat with a long beard. He should be in the kitchen where people who are interested only in cooking and not in hearing elevated hari-katha will hear him, but those who want pure bhakti will not be able to do so. *[See endnote 2]
Hearing this, the people in the audience became upset and left that assembly, and they turned against the Gaudiya Vaisnavas. Nemi Maharaja sent a telegram to Shrila Prabhupada in Mayapura complaining that, "My whole preaching has been spoiled by this boy. Please call him back to you. I cannot preach here because no one is willing to listen anymore. All are against us."
Prabhupada at once answered in a telegram, "Oh, Siddha-svarupa brahmacari is very bold. He has preached what I personally wanted to tell. I am coming just now, and I will prove that he is correct. He has done billions of rupees worth of preaching here – not small scale at all. The right audience is attracted. Those who are sincere and know how to discriminate – they are attracted. I am very, very happy. I am coming immediately." Prabhupada then very soon came to Dhaka, where he called the entire assembly. He proved that the words of Siddha-svarupa were true to the highest extent, and everyone became very inspired.
Siddha-svarupa brahmcari had great regard for his god-brothers, and in fact he used to refer to my Gurudeva as his siksa-guru. Gurudeva and he sometimes went to markets together with him to collect vegetables. At that time our Gaudiya Matha was very poor. The devotees used to take spinach and a few other varieties of bhoga, but they had no rice at that time. It wasn't until Bhakti Saranga Gosvami Maharaja came that everything changed.
Siddha-svarupa brahmacari used to go to Howrah market, very nearby to the train station, two or three miles from Ulta Danga. He and Guru Maharaja would collect vegetables and put them in two big bags, one being heavier than the other. Siddha-svarupa prabhu used to run after the heavy one. My Gurudeva also used to run after that one, saying, "I will take the bigger one," and he would say, "No, I will take the bigger one." Guru Maharaja told him, "Why should you take it?" "You are my senior, so I must take it." Guru Maharaja replied, "I am elder than you; I am stronger, so I should take it." Thus they quarrelled like this -- a prema-kalaha, or loving quarrel.
Nowadays we see the opposite. Now, what to say of god-brothers, even the relation between disciples and Gurudeva has been changed. Gurudeva now has to see, and to fulfil, all the desires of his disciples, otherwise the disciples may leave him. Gurudeva is serving according to the wish and desire of his disciples, while the disciples don't care for Gurudeva. Nowadays they don't think about the desire of Gurudeva, but at the time of Prabhupada the only thought was, "How to serve Gurudeva."
They used to keep their lives in their hands for their gurudeva, as my gurudeva did for Shrila Prabhupada at the time of Navadvipa parikrama. At that time disciples did not quarrel among themselves, whereas nowadays we see the opposite. A guru has to be very careful that, "How can I fulfil all the desires of my disciples so that they may not give up bhakti?"
I see and realize this. Very few disciples want to offer their lives and souls for Gurudeva; one can count their names on one's fingers. So, I request you all to follow your Gurudeva, the other disciples of Shrila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and Shri Shrimad Bhakti Shri Rupa Siddhanti Gosvami Maharaja.
Follow parama-pujyapada Shrila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja. He risked his life and went by boat to America. He was very ill, performing an illness pastime, but he was not concerned with this. Rather, he was praying to Krishna, "What service can I do for You there?"
So many of Shrila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati Thakura's disciples were like that. This was Shrila Bhakti Shri Rupa Siddhanti Gosvami Maharaja, a perfect example of disciple. He did what his Prabhupada wanted, and what my Gurudeva wanted.
He wrote a commentary on Shrimad-Bhagavatam, establishing the link between Shrimad-Bhagavatam and Brahma-sutra. He also published two Bhagavad-gitas – one with the commentary of Shrila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura compiled by Shrila Bharati Maharaja, and the second with the commentary of Shrila Baladeva Vidyabhusana. Also, Shri Isopanisad and the books of Shrila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura: Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu-bindu, Ujjvala-nilamani Kirana and Brhad-Bhagavatamrta Kana."
Shrila Shri Rupa Siddhanti Maharaja was also a very strong ruler, so bold to speak the truth. He was a good controller and manager too. He was also a kavi, or poet. He had all good qualities.
I am giving puspanjali in the lotus feet of Shrila Bhakti Shri Rupa Siddhanti Gosvami Maharaja. I pray that he should be pleased to give us his causeless mercy -- that we can follow his footprints.
I want to say that Rasananda brahmacari [now Shripada Shridhara Maharaja, the disciple of Shrila Shri Rupa Siddhanti Maharaja] has spoken very excellently about his Gurudeva. Now we must go to parikrama, and upon returning, Ramacandra prabhu or someone else will translate the Hindi into English so that all can benefit.
Also, I want to give my blessings to Janardana prabhu [now Shripada Sagar Maharaja] of Venezuela. He has translated five of my books: "Acarya Kesari Shri Shrimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami – His Life and Teachings," with all siddhanta; "True Conception of Guru-tattva," "Secret Truths of the Bhagavatam," "Upadesamrta" of Shrila Rupa Gosvami, and "Happiness in a Fool's Paradise." I am giving my blessings to him. Now he is going to translate our edition of Bhagavad-gita and many other books. My heartly blessings to him that in the future he may produce more publications. Vrndavanesvari devi dasi from Spain and Durlabha prabhu from Mexico City have also helped so much. My thanks to you.
*Endnote 1: (excerpts from the books, lectures, and conversations of parama-pujyapada Shri Shrimad Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja, quoted from his Vedabase folio):
Disciple: For Kierkegaard, the important thing is not so much what one chooses but that one makes the choice. Through choosing one discovers his own integrity.
Shrila Prabhupada: But it is not clear how a person can make the right decision. One man may choose to slaughter, and another man may choose to help others. Or a man may give charity to others and yet at the same time encourage killing animals. For instance, on the one hand Vivekananda advocated feeding the poor, but on the other hand he suggested feeding them with Mother Kali's prasadam—the flesh of bulls. So what kind of ethics is that? What is the value of ethics if it is based on imperfect knowledge? ("Beyond Illusion and Doubt")
There is no difficulty. Simply one must be sincere, not sinful. But a sinful man cannot understand Him. The sinful man, he will say, "Oh, Krishna is also man. I am also man. Why I am not God? He is simply God? No, I am also. I am God. You are God, you are God, every God." Just like Vivekananda said, "Why you are searching after God? Don't you see so many gods are loitering in the street?" You see. This is his God realization. This is his God realization. And he became a big man: "Oh, he is seeing everyone God."
This foolishness, this rascaldom, is going on all over the world. One does not know what is God, what is power of God, what is meant by God. They are accepting some rascal as God. (London: July 17, 1973)
I have read one speech, Chicago speech by late Vivekananda Swami. He's talking to the audience that "You work so hard, why you give credit to God?" (LA: Dec. 16, 1968)
Now we are speaking of Krishna and the Supreme Person. Mattah parataram nanyat [Bhagavd-gita, 7.7]. So there is no need of Vivekananda. When the Supreme Person is speaking, accepted by all. In the Bhagavad-gita it is said that "You are accepted by authorities." Vyasa, Devala, Asita, Narada. We have to accept authority who is accepted by authorities. Vyasadeva, Narada, Devala, Asita, Ramanujacarya, Madhvacarya, Caitanya, even Sankaracarya—they have accepted Krishna as the supreme authority. You take the authorities statement. Don't go elsewhere. Then you'll be misled. When the supreme authority is speaking, take it and apply it in life. You'll be happy. Hare Krishna. (India: Aug. 17, 1976)
Therefore sometimes we find that although they say it [the world] is mithya [false], jagan mithya, and take sannyasa and for some days they remain meditation or aloof from any worldly affairs, but later on, when they do not find Brahman, they come again to this mäyä to open hospitals, schools, as sannyasi. Just like in our country there are many. The beginning we see that... Vivekananda Swami, he took sannyasa and meditation. Later on, after his touring in the Western countries, he came to India to open hospitals, schools, like that. But if the world is false, then why you are coming to open school and hospitals? (SA: Oct 18, 1975)
Hayagriva dasa: For Kierkegaard, the important thing is not so much what one chooses, but how one makes the choice. Through choosing one discovers his own integrity.
Shrila Prabhupada: But it is not clear how a person can make the right decision. One man may choose to slaughter, and another man may choose to help others. Or a man may give charity to others and yet at the same time encourage killing animals. For instance, on the one hand Vivekananda was advocating feeding the poor, but on the other hand he was suggesting feeding them with Mother Kali's prasada—the flesh of bulls. So what kind of ethics is that? What is the value of ethics if it is based on imperfect knowledge? (Back To Godhead Magazine)
*Endnote 2 (excerpts from his lectures and conversations, quoted from his Vedabase folio):
Bhaktijana: Is he a nice poet?
Prabhupada: He is nice poet from materialistic point of view. That's all. To satisfy the materialistic person. He is not a nice poet from spiritualistic point of view. We have nothing to do with him. (chuckles) We have to do with the poet like Vyasadeva. Don't you see how nicely he has written Shrimad-Bhagavatam? There is no comparison, even from the literary point of view. He is perfect poet. (New York: Oct 26, 1966)
Prabhupada: Because they have no conception of Godhead. Nirakara [the conception of a formless, qualitiless God]. So nirakara, where is the loving affairs with nirakara? I cannot love the air. If I want to love, if somebody says, "You love this air, nirakara," oh, where is my love? Love must be there. Just like here we have got Krishna. We can love. We cannot love this sky. So they have no conception of God; therefore their love of God is all fictitious. Just like Rabindranath Tagore, he has written Gitanjali, "Tumi." Who is that tumi, he does not know. All the poetry's "tumi, tomara," and who is that rascal, tumi or tomara? But that he does not know. This is going on. Now if I say, "My husband, tumi," I know, he's my husband. Or his form is like that. Then I can say. But he does not know who is that tumi. Everyone... The impersonalists will pray, tam eva mata tam eva pita. But who is that mata, who is that pita? That he does not know. We say, "Here is your mata, pita, Krishna. Here is Krishna." That is tangible. Fact. Not fictitious. (Calcutta: Jan. 29, 1973)
Rabindranath became very popular on account of his introducing Maghmela, where young boys and girls could easily meet. (Delhi: Nov, 29 1975)
Gopala Krishna: How do you feel about Rabindranath Tagore, the poet?
Prabhupada: (laughs) So you want my right answer? The answer is that anyone who has no Krishna consciousness, he has no good qualification. Or he's a fool, in simple word. So we have to test whether one has got Krishna consciousness or God consciousness. If one has no God consciousness, then according to Bhagavata: harav abhaktasya kuto mahad-guna [SB 5.18.12]. Those who are not Krishna conscious, they cannot have any good qualification. Why? Manorathena asato dhavato bahih. Because they are, they have no God consciousness means they do not know what is God; therefore their consciousness is either on the bodily platform or mental platform or intellectual platform. God consciousness is on the spiritual platform. (New York: July 28, 1971)