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Sweet Talks with Shrila Prabhupada’s disciples

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The-Meaning-of-Radhe.jpgShri Shrimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaj
June 25, 1996
Bakersfield, California

Shrila Gurudeva: Jagannatha, Baladeva, Subhadra, Vrndavana, Radha-Krishna, Vrnda Devi, Navadvipa Dhama, Gaura-Nitai—all are here. So, I am so glad to come here. There are so many devotees here. Perhaps, everyone knows me. Some are new.

Have you met me before? Is this the first time? What is your name?

Devotee: Nirguna dasa.

Shrila Gurudeva: Very good name. I am glad to meet you. You are a senior Vaisnava.

Devotee: This devotee is preaching in a Central American country, Costa Rica.

Shrila Gurudeva: Costa Rica? Where Ramesh lives?

Devotee 2: Yes. He was a young boy when we were there.

Shrila Gurudeva: He told me, “I will come to New York and meet you.” He invited me to preach in his country also.

You can tell something. Stand up so that all will see.

Devotee: We heard wonderful things about Shrila Narayana Maharaj. We had close times with our Shrila Prabhupada as well. And now, we have this chance again. So what more can I say?

[Applause]

Shrila Gurudeva: You should speak as well.

Shripad Padmanabha Maharaj: I had the most wonderful opportunity to participate in a week of hari-katha and kirtans. All the devotees should encourage each other to develop their Krishna-bhakti more. I thank Shrila Narayana Maharaj for coming here and inspiring us. There should be encouragement for the devotees so that they can develop their Krishna-bhakti more. We feel that coming here and to Badger was a very blessed opportunity because the devotees have been together for so many years. So many stalwart Vaisnavas, Godbrothers and Godsisters do kirtan and bhajan here. They have even made one temple here; so they are very worthy.

Shrila Gurudeva: I think that this is a very good temple. Gaura-Nitai are here.

Shripad Padmanabha Maharaj: So they have joined forces together even though they are not officially in the institution. But, because they want to continue the service of Prabhupada; they are having morning programs together. Bhagavat classes are also given. Guru-puja and chanting is also done. We do this only on the inspiration of our Prabhupada even without any institution.

Devotee: Prabhupada said, “If we are alone, we are like one stick that can be broken very easily.” We, as Godbrothers are bound together like sticks. It is very hard to break these sticks. So, we are bound together.

Shripad Padmanabha Maharaj: Prabhupada desired so much for all of us to have sadhu-sanga. This was the reason that he created the society of Krishna consciousness. Sadhu-sanga means to associate with a devotee, who is of the same mood and who is also superior to oneself. So we know that wherever we can find Krishna-bhakti in such a Vaisnava, then that Vaisnava also has the power to give that Krishna-bhakti. Bhaktivinoda Thakura has said, “Krishna se tomara, Krishna dite paro, tomara sakati ache. Ami to kangala, Krishna Krishna boli, dhai tava pache pache.” The Vaisnava has Krishna in his heart.

I feel personally that our Guru Maharaj, Shrila Prabhupada will be very pleased to see me associating with this very close friend and Sannyasa Godbrother of his. Shrila Narayana Maharaj has so many histories that he can tell us. He had so much association of our Prabhupada before he came to America and after he came from America as well. If there are any ever well-wishers of Prabhupada’s institution, then Shrila Narayana Maharaj is one of those well-wishers.

So, I am sure that he feels very much at home here with the devotees. Hare Krishna.

[Applause]

Shrila Gurudeva: I am requesting Bhudhara Prabhu to speak something. He is also a very senior disciple of Shri Bhaktivedanta Svamiji. He is also a very learned person. He is very sincere. I feel so fortunate to have a friendship with him. So, he should speak something.

Bhudhara dasa: Maharaj, there are some Prabhupada disciples here.

Shrila Gurudeva: Here? I want to know who they are.

Bhudhara dasa: I don’t know them all actually. This is Madhusudhana and his wife, Kancanbala.

Shripad Padmanabha Maharaj: They are very old disciples of Prabhupada. They came when Prabhupada was first in New York City. Madhusudhana is one of the oldest disciples of Prabhupada.

Shrila Gurudeva: Very good.

Shripad Padmanabha Maharaj: He has done so much service to Prabhupada’s books—printing and distributing them.

Shrila Gurudeva: Very good. Are there any more disciples of Svamiji?

Shripad Padmanabha Maharaj: And his wife, Kancanbala.

Shrila Gurudeva: You are also a disciple of Svamiji.

Devotee: Vrajendra-nandana Prabhu and Gopavrndapala Prabhu are also here.

Shrila Gurudeva: Who is Gopavrndapala Prabhu?

Shripad Padmanabha Maharaj: In 1972, he and I travelled in one small van all over America, selling Prabhupada’s books. Paramatma Prabhu is also sitting here.

Shrila Gurudeva: Who is Paramatma Prabhu?

Shripad Padmanabha Maharaj: He is a disciple of Prabhupada. When he was sixteen years old, he became a devotee in 1970. At that time he was still in high school. So he wore dhoti and kurta to school with a shaved head, tilak, and everything.

[Laughter]

Shrila Gurudeva: Very good. And do you know Jadurani?

Shripad Padmanabha Maharaj: Yes, everyone knows Syamarani. She has left her trademark all over the world with her paintings.

Shrila Gurudeva: And Vrndavana-vilasini?

Shripad Padmanabha Maharaj: Everyone here knows Vrndavana-vilasini as well.

Shrila Gurudeva: Svamiji has given her a very good name. And Sita Thakurani is also here.

Shripad Padmanabha Maharaj: Vidyananda Prabhu is here. He is taking the video. And of course, Prana-Kisora, Preyaratna is here. Tirthapada is also here.

Shrila Gurudeva: So many disciples are here.

Shripad Padmanabha Maharaj: Krishna dasi is also sitting here. She is first initiated by Prabhupada and second initiated by Shrila Shridhara Maharaj.

Shrila Gurudeva: Very good. I am so glad to know everyone.

Shripad Padmanabha Maharaj: Ram-vijaya Prabhu is also here. He was first initiated by Prabhupada.

Shrila Gurudeva: Oh he is also initiated by Svamiji?

Shripad Padmanabha Maharaj: First initiated.

Shrila Gurudeva: And second by another. Oh then you are a senior Vaisnava. You are so lucky.

Shripad Padmanabha Maharaj: And there is one very important lady in this room.

Shrila Gurudeva: Who?

Shripad Padmanabha Maharaj: She is the wife of Nirguna.

Shrila Gurudeva: Where is she?

Shripad Padmanabha Maharaj: Nilacala, she is a Prabhupada disciple also.

Shripad Madhava Maharaj: And Anandini Devi?

Shrila Gurudeva: Anandini Devi.

Shripad Padmanabha Maharaj: She is a Prabhupada disciple also.

Shrila Gurudeva: I am so lucky to meet you all.

Shripad Madhava Maharaj: Gopanandini is also there.

Devotee: She is not here though.

Shrila Gurudeva: You should speak.

Devotee: After Prabhupada left in 1977, it has been rather difficult. I was in Los Angeles for seventeen years. I left in 1989, because it was becoming extremely difficult without Shrila Prabhupada and I could feel myself going down. I put on white when Prabhupada left as a dedication to him. I just want to dedicate my life to him, but it was difficult. So, I thought Vrndavana would be the answer. But after a year in Vrndavana, it wasn’t the answer. Although I met Shrila Narayana Maharaj in 1989, I wasn’t able to associate the way I wanted to due to the pressure from my peers. But then after a year in Vrndavana, I could still feel myself going down in my service to Shrila Prabhupada. I was very depressed. So, I remembered, “Sadhu-sanga, sadhu-sanga.”

I thought, “I have heard Shrila Narayana Maharaj is a sadhu. And I feel it. I don’t care for what anyone says. I am desperate for sadhu-sanga. I have to save myself. Prabhupada says, ‘Save yourself first.’”

So, I started seeing him. Ever since then, I feel that my service, my devotion, and everything else to Shrila Prabhupada has become deeper and deeper. I am just so grateful.

[Applause]

Shrila Gurudeva: Syamarani should speak.

Syamarani dasi:

vanca-kalpa-tarubyas ca krpa-sindhubhya eva ca
patitanam pavanebhyo vaisnavebhyo namo namah

I feel so happy to be in higher association again after so many years. Actually, Prabhupada’s movement was built so much by all these devotees. They distributed books, published books, and opened so many temples. I thought I might share with you on Shrila Narayana Maharaj’s relationship with Shrila Prabhupada. Maharaj was speaking about all the different senior disciples of Shrila Prabhupada. But of all the different disciples of Shrila Prabhupada, the most senior disciple is Shrila Narayana Maharaj. He met Shrila Prabhupada in 1946, when most of us weren’t even born. From that very moment, he began serving Shrila Prabhupada in so many ways. He went with Prabhupada to different places to preach. He helped Prabhupada begin the Jhansi temple. He went with Prabhupada to Delhi, Calcutta, and to so many places to preach with Prabhupada. In the late fifties, he was the original person who inspired Prabhupada to take sannyasa. And we know that Prabhupada is a nitya-siddha devotee. But by lila, he was playing the part of a householder and he was reluctant.

So Shrila Narayana Maharaj told his Diksa Guru, Shrila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaj, “Unless you ask Abhaya Carana Prabhu, he won’t take sannyasa.”

So when Shrila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaj requested Shrila Prabhupada, then Prabhupada decided to take sannyasa from him. And we all know the lecture that Prabhupada gave in 1968 in October when Shrila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaj, the Diksa Guru of Shrila Narayana Maharaj, left this world. Prabhupada gave a speech and said, “Now, my Godbrother has gone to Krishnaloka. And my Guru Maharaj, Shrila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati Thakura has spoken to me through this Godbrother.”

And Prabhupada composed a verse for him:

vairagya-vidya-nija-bhakti-yogam apayayan mam anabhipsum andham
Shri-kesava-bhakti-prajnana-nama krpambudhir yas tam aham prapadye

"I did not want to accept this sannyasa order, but this Godbrother forced me, 'You must.' He forcefully made me drink this medicine. Krpambudhi. He did this favor to me because he was an ocean of mercy. So we offer our obeisances to the Vaisnavas, the representatives of the Lord, they are so kind. They bring the ocean of mercy for distribution to the suffering humanity. So I am offering my respectful obeisances unto His Holiness Shri Shrimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Maharaj." (Shrila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaj on the disappearance of Shrila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Maharaj, 1968)]

Shrila Gurudeva: Then he sent the letter to me.

Syamarani dasi: He sent the condolence letter to Shrila Narayana Maharaj with the signature of all the Prabhupada disciples who were there in Seattle.

Shrila Gurudeva: And I read it in the council when the Viraha-Utsava was there.

Syamarani dasi: And that sannyasa ceremony of Prabhupada was performed by Shrila Narayana Maharaj, who was already a sannyasi. He made Prabhupada’s danda. He also made Prabhupada’s sannyasa cloth and taught him how to wear it. And then, Shrila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaj encouraged Prabhupada to come to the West.

Actually, this was a conspiracy from the four of them in the spiritual world—Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, Shrila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Maharaj, Shrila Prabhupada, and Shrila Narayana Maharaj. They arranged for Prabhupada to take sannyasa and to come to the West. Prabhupada came to the West and developed so many seeds, sprouts, and beautiful plants of bhakti. He created a platform and Shrila Narayana Maharaj has come. He spoke of three reasons for his coming here.

1. To go to all the holy places where Shrila Prabhupada established temples and take the dust of Prabhupada’s feet and put it on his own head.

2. To bathe himself in the dust of Prabhupada’s feet, to give him energy to continue Prabhupada’s mission.

3. To re-energize and give empowerment to all of Shrila Prabhupada’s followers who were neglected, mistreated, or somehow or another, feel not completely connected.

So, we are so unlimitedly fortunate to have him here now, to give us that spiritual energy and the illumination of Shrila Prabhupada. We all know that everything is in Prabhupada’s books. But, sometimes we can’t see what Prabhupada had destined for us. I think of the example of a savings bond. The parents have a savings bond for their children. When the child is very young, the parents put money in the bank and tell the child, “When you reach adulthood, then this savings bond will mature and you will get all this money.”

So, now twenty years have passed. Shrila Prabhupada is giving us this savings bond in the form of Shrila Narayana Maharaj to put the light on Shrila Prabhupada, so we can see what he really wanted to give us. He said that Prabhupada is giving him water to water all of our seeds, plants, and sprouts so that we can see Prabhupada fully.

Devotees: Gaura Premanande! Hari Haribol!

Shrila Gurudeva: Really, I am so glad to come here. I went to Holland, England, and now I have come to America. I went to Houston and then, I went to Los Angeles. I have come from there. I saw Svamiji in Holland. He greeted me and welcomed me. I was moved. When I went to England, I saw that Svamiji was not so happy. He was half happy and half, unhappy. He was happy that I have come because he has told me to come.

Svamiji is a very renowned, realized associate of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Krishna. I served something to him with my whole heart. I served him in this way, so he became so happy. But, he saw towards his disciples and he became somewhat unhappy. When I came to Houston and Los Angeles, he was there but I saw that his head was like this.

[Shrila Gurudeva makes a gesture]

I saw that he was ashamed there. Svamiji thought, “They should honor him like how they do here.” The Hindu community, others from all over India, and the general devotees were so happy to see me. But by some cause, Svamiji could not be pleased by the behaviour of some devotees. Especially, I went to the Los Angeles temple to take the footdust of Svamiji. But it was very difficult there. But anyhow, he was so pleased and he gave some inspiration through you devotees like Bhudhara Prabhu and all others. I went there, but I saw that he was not fully there. Perhaps he has gone to the garden behind the temple.

I saw that he has met me here and welcoming me, he embraced me. He wanted to do so even in the temple, but it was very difficult for him. And, he became silent. I did parikrama and it seemed that Svamiji was weeping. His face was sad. I bowed down and took his footdust. With a weeping heart, I then left. But when I came here, I saw that Svamiji is so happy here. He is so happy here.

He is telling me, “I am here. I am only present there partially. But I am here fully because all my disciples and devotees here are so liberal minded. They honor all the Vaisnavas.”

So, I think that Krishna not only lives in temples. How can He happy when He sees that His devotees are not honored? Because it is written in the Shrimad Bhagavatam and other scriptures that “Those, who only worship deities are kanistha-Vaisnavas. They cannot honor any Vaisnava.”

An Uttama-adhikari is on such a high level. The madhyama-adhikari is in the middle. He serves all the devotees like he serves Krishna. But an Uttama-Mahabhagavat serves devotees more than he would serve Krishna. Like Yasoda; when Narada or any Brahmin comes, then she will take his footdust and gives it on the head of Krishna. So, Krishna is not superior; Vaisnavas are superior. So, if you serve Vaisnavas, then you are serving Gurudeva. If you are not honoring Vaisnavas, then you are dishonoring Gurudeva. This is the way.

So, I think that Svamiji is so happy here and he is fully here, and fully in Badger as well. I am glad to know and to see your honor for me, though I am not an honorable person. I am also a kanistha-Vaisnava. But yet, I am so glad to be among you. I am like you and all others. We are like friends. I want that we should all together serve Svamiji and Radha-Krishna. We should give a scope to all other persons. We should also help those who have no taste in Krishna consciousness. We should meet with all devotees, without any consideration of caste and creed that “He is of Shridhara Maharaj. He is of Madhava Maharaj.”

All are the same. Shrila Bhaktivedanta Svami is one of the very stalwart and powerful disciples of Shrila Prabhupada. Our Gurudeva is also like this. They were separated only for maintaining and not for any other reason; not for quarrelling or anything else. We know that Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura established Gaudiya Math. After his departure from this world, Shrila Bhaktivedanta Svami established ISKCON. I think that Svamiji has never left Prabhupada’s mission. This was a branch only, in the Western countries or anywhere. Svamiji didn’t establish ISKCON because he had no faith in Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada and his mission. He only established ISKCON to preach here and there. So, ISKCON is not separate from the family of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. We should know that we are all in the family of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and we should try to honor all, who are in Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s family. We are all now in the family of Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Thakura. But our Gurudeva, or Shrila Sarasvati Thakura, or Shrila Svamiji have not told anywhere that “You should dishonor any Vaisnava.”

So you should honor everyone as you have honored me. I am not a very good devotee, but you have honored me. I think that this honor should be given at the lotus feet of Svamiji and Guru. This honor is for him and not to me due to any quality of mine. Your honor for me is the honor for Svamiji because I have served him a little. I am in the line. So, I am giving all the things at the lotus feet of my Gurudeva and at the lotus feet of Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaj. He should be pleased and he should give some mercy even to those who are making him unhappy. So, he should be merciful and inspire everyone. Thus, those devotees will also be so generous like how all of you are. Svamiji came to the West with a very open heart and not with a sectarian heart. Therefore, he was not sectarian; any Vaisnava cannot be sectarian. Those who are sectarian and who think that they are Vaisnavas, are not really Vaisnavas. The first quality they should have is that they should not be sectarian.

So, I am so pleased. I think that I will have to live here for four nights. You should make any programs and we should follow. Thus, we should follow hari-katha and everything. I will follow what you will arrange. Today, I will have to take some rest. You should do one kirtan and then, we will finish for today. And you should tell what programs you have for me.

Gaura Premanande! Hari Haribol!

*Transcribed and edited by the Govardhana dasa.

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