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Many positive things also happened...

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During the month of Kartika 1991 in Vrndavana I was fortunate to be at an observance of Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance which was attended by several of his senior sannyas disciples and Srila Govinda Maharaja (the current Acharya of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math the temple founded By His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhar Dev-Goswami) and many of the wonderful Vaisnavas of the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math.

It is said when discussions of Krsna Katha commence it is like churning a pot of nectar and generally the order of speakers goes from less senior to most. Following this schematic first some of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples spoke memories and appreciations of His Divine Grace and then Srila Govinda Maharaja was asked by Bhakti Gaurava Narasingha Maharaja to speak something on his experiences with Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabuhpada.

The history related from Srila Govinda Maharaja was extraordinary. I will try to retell what he said to the best of my ability. While certain details such as his exact age at the times of these pastimes escape me the general point and the main details I feel I have committed enough to memory to repeat.

Essentially he told the following.

He explained how he came to join the Math.

Everyday that he would go to play soccer after school. The trip to the football field would take him by the Math. He would hear the Kirtanas as he walked by and I believe he also said he would sometimes hear some speaking of a class as well. For some time he was attracted but never actually stopped.

He explained that his Father was a professional musician. An expert at the percussion instruments of Kirtana. This of course was not like western professionals as they would play kirtana but still his Father did not want Govinda Maharaja to follow his footsteps thus he was forbidden to learn how to play.

Little did his Father know Govinda Maharaja would often go to the pandala in advance of a performance and hide under the stage. From this post he would listen to the beats his father played on the mrdunga and later at home secretly replicate them until he was quite good at playing.

One day as a teenager he entered the Math as Kirtana was about to commence. He asked if he could play the drum and in a mood of “Sure why not” with little expectation someone gave him the drum. Obviously he played very expertly which drew immediate attention from all the Vaisnavas there that day. He was warmly treated and very much encouraged to take up Krsna consciousness. This progressed to the point where he felt incline to join but being underage his father refused to allow it. So as he said he took to running away from home to the Math and his Father would come and take him back home. This eventually turned into situations involving his Father “Coming in the front door as I ran out the back door.”

Eventually this created so much disturbance that a plan was hatched that Govinda Maharaja would stay with one householder and hide from his Father. Since he would not be at the Math, the Math would not be culpable to the Father as to the whereabouts of his son.

The householder turned out to be none other than our Srila Prabhupada, who was affectionately referred to by the devotees at that time as “Abay Babu.”

As a young brahmachari Govinda Maharaja lived there with Srila Prabhupada for many months. Every night Prabhupada would read Bhagavad Gita to him and give class. The birth of the externally manifest Bhaktivedanta purports.

One day Govinda Maharaja was in the attic for some reason or another when become across stacks of “Back to Godhead Magazines“. That evening he asked Srila Prabhupada about these magazines.

Prabhupada explained that sometimes he would print a new issue before he was able to completely distribute the previous one. He explained to Govinda Maharaja that due to his busy schedule he had fallen behind and it would be a great assistance if Govinda Maharaja could help him distribute them.

Govinda Maharaja explained to Prabhupada that he spoke no English thus he saw no way he could distribute an English language magazine. Srila Prabhupada sat him down, taught him a handful of English lines about the magazine and sent him out. (Sound familiar to anyone.)

So out he went.

Srila Govinda Maharaja then said “I do not mean to speak in a proud way but merely stating fact, I am the original distributor of Back to Godhead Magazine. (Beside Srila Prabhupada of course.)

Eventually Srila Govinda Maharaja’s Father begged the temple authorities that his son could join if they would just tell him of his son's physical whereabouts. There was a family reunion and Govinda Maharaja was officially given sanction by his Father to join the Math. He did not. Instead he continued to live with Srila Prabhupada for quite some time continuing their program of Bhagavad Gita study and BTG distribution.

He later told of Srila Prabhupada’s depart and return from America.

He said “Here we still affectionately knew him as Abay Babu even though he had by that time taken Sannyasa.

He left for America our beloved Abay Babu.

Imagine our surprise when he came back, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Fully manifest Sakyavesa Avatara!"

He went on to make the point that we can never know who a devotee might actually be and what Krsna may do with him or her at some point in the future.

The point of this story is this.

These great souls are our family. It is of our finest self interest to move ourselves as close to them as we can. Not push them away or aside. What to speak of the spiritual suicide of condemning them. We need their mercy as we need the mercy of all Vaisnavas.

They were dear enough to His Divine Grace that they lived with Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada was intimate enough that when the need to place a young Brahmachari outside the Math came up our Srila Prabhupada was asked to handle the responsibility. Srila Govinda Maharaja was the first brahmachari to distribute Back To Godhead magazines under the personal direction of His Divine Grace

A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, if theat doesn't qualifiy him as our senior spiritual relative what could or would?

These associates of Srila Prabhupada's who predate his mission in the West are all our senior in terms of sukrti, birth, service, association, experience and simply years lived.

Whenever we come into contact with someone who feels the hallucinated freedom to criticized such persons we should plug our ears and run full speed from their company.

I beg the devotees to see the huge trick Maya plays by maintaining disharmony in the broad community of the devotees.

Change starts one person at a time.

On this day, as I have countless days before, I humbly pray an end to these imagined quarrels.

I offer my humble dandavats at the feet of all the Vaisnava devotees of the Lord.

Krsnanatha dasa

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Krsna is the source of remembrance and forgetfulness. Fortunately He has not yet allowed my advancing senility to deprive me of this recollection.

I have often reflected on the amazing sukrti it would take to live with Srila Prabhupada one on one, for months on end, every night reading sastra in His company and hearing from Him, His absolute realizations on the subjects covered. Nightly chanting Kirtana together. Daily taking prasada prepared from his own hands within the sphere of His Divine company.

I am always hoping to someday be properly grateful that such persons are within this family of devotees which has causelessly rescued me and treated me as one of their own despite all lack of merit and qualification from my side.

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Yes that is what struck me also. Prabhupada passed by me once within a few inches and I considered that an amazing grace from Krsna. This is a treasure of retelling. I hope it is archived somewhere.

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in this life is that I did not go with the devotees I met in 1971 to the temple. Just a glimpse of Srila Prabhupada would have saved me from falling further into the depths of this ocean of misery. But Krsna had other plans for me so I continue to suffer.



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How Well Do You Know Srila Prabhupad & Narayan Maharaj?




EDITORIAL, Jul 18 (VNN) — Dandavat pranams to all the soft-hearted Vaishnava devotees of the Lord.


Over the last eight years, I have observed Srila Narayan Maharaj, spent time with and observed his disciples, and taken some time to read his translations and writings. I have also educated myself as to the history of his relationship with my Guru Maharaj - Srila Prabhupada.


I do not know how much my godbrothers know about the relationship between our Guru Maharaj and Srila Narayan Maharaj.


The first time I met Narayan Maharaj, I presented him with a nice garland and thanked him for coming to preach in the west. I was impartial, giving him all respect as a Vaishnava sannyasi. I was not looking for a teacher, I had already been with Srila Prabhupad for thirty years.


A major concern was the siddhanta, or conclusion. Was Srila Narayan Maharaj bona-fide and fit to ascend the Vyasasana, or was he preaching something different to Srila Prabhupada and the rest of the Parampara?


Also, how does "The Final Order" and ritvik initiation relate to the presence of a Maha-Bhagavat devotee? And what are the consequences of insulting a Maha Bhagavat devotee?


His Disciples


It is said that you do not get a good fruit from a bad tree. Associating with Srila Narayan Maharaj's disciples was the most convincing to me. Over a period of eight years, I found them to be brahminical, fixed, sweet, exhibiting all devotional qualities, all in all - a tribute to their Guru Maharaj and Vaishnava's everywhere.


His Sannyasis are fixed, sweet, extremely scholarly, potent and not into politics. In all my conversations on siddhanta, they have convinced me of the validity of Srila Narayan Maharaj's teachings, and their bona-fide relationship to our parampara.


His Relationship with Srila Prabhupada


Srila Prabhupada said, "I didn't have any desire to take sannyas, but upon the repeated insistance of Srila Narayan Maharaj, Srila Kesava Maharaj bestowed boundless mercy upon this unwilling and blind person."


Srila Prabhupada was then assisted with his taking of sannyas by Narayan Maharaj, who dyed his cloth, made his danda and performed his sannyas fire jajna. Narayan Maharaj was a diksa & sannyasi disciple of Srila Bhaktiprajnana Kesava Maharaj, and thus a senior sannyasi godbrother to Srila Prabhupada, although he accepted Srila Prabhupada as his Siksa guru.


Srila Prabhupad requested in a letter to Trivikrama Maharaj in Navadvip, that he send a picture of Srila Bhaktiprajnana Kesava Maharaj, for it to be included in the parampara in all ISKCON temples. (This was never implemented).


Srila Prabhupad's negative quotes regarding 'his godbrothers' certainly did not extend to the group that he helped establish - the Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti - that included his own sannyas guru! Srila Narayan Maharaj was a cornerstone of this establishment.


In a letter to Srila Trivikram Maharaj in condolences for the passing of his sannyas guru - Kesava Maharaj, Srila Prabhupada writes, "I have a very close connection with Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti. Yourself, and particularly Sripad Vaman Maharaj are well aware of the fact that I am one of the three persons who founded Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti. We had conceived of the idea of the formation of Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti at Bosaped Lane, Calcutta, even before Srila Kesava Maharaj accepted sannyasa."


Srila Narayan Maharaj along with Srila Sridhar Maharaj spoke up against their godbrothers in the Gaudiya Math defending him in his use of the title "Srila Prabhupada". (This endearing term was how Bhaktisiddhanta was known).


Upon his passing, Srila Prabhupada only wanted Srila Narayan Maharaj to perform his last-rights, and asked him to help his disciples after he passed away.


How did Srila Prabhupada feel about Narayan Maharaj? In a letter dated Sept. 28th 1966 from the Gopal Agarwal house, Srila Prabhupada wrote:


"I received your letter dated 20.9.66 on time. Our relationship is certainly based on spontaneous love. That is why there is no chance of us forgetting one another. By the mercy of Guru and Gouranga may everything be auspicious for you. This is my constant prayer. From the first time I saw you I have been your constant well-wisher. At his first sight of me Srila Prabhupada (Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami) also saw me with such love. It was in my very first darshan of Srila Prabhupada that I learned how to love. It is his boundless mercy that he has engaged an unworthy person like me in fulfilling some of his desires. It is his causeless mercy to engage me in preaching the message of Sri Rupa and Sri Raghunatha..."


(After reading this, how can any Srila Prabhupada disciple harbor any negative thoughts regarding Narayan Maharaj?)


The Siddhanta


As Rupanugas, followers in the footsteps of Rupa Goswami, our prime business is to first understand what it means to be/live as a devotee. What is the path of pure-bhakti, where does it take you, and how do you attain perfection. (The goal).


It behooves us to educate ourselves with the knowledge flowing from the lotus lips of our predecessor acharyas, and to understand their conclusions.


After years of study, I can assure you that their conclusions are one.


Everything written in Srila Prabhupad's books reflects this conclusion, and Srila Narayan Maharaj supports and preaches the same conclusion.


i.e. nikunja-yuno rati-keli-siddhyai, ya yalibhir yuktir apeksaniya, tatrati-daksyad ati-vallabhasya. (He serves Sriman Mahaprabhu's Sankirtan mission on this planet - previous verses), and assists the gopis in the loving pastimes of the Divine Couple in the higher realm. Guru must be "there".


Ritviks & "The Final Order"


I have always had some nagging doubts about "The Final Order", some anomaly's if you like, for instance: Why would the Parampara stop with Srila Prabhupada when Krsna say's in the Bhagavad Gita "This knowledge comes in an unbroken chain of masters". I believe it will continue, regardless of whether or not I - do not have faith in there being another pure devotee after Srila Prabhupada - just because I cannot become 'that'.


Also, Srila Prabhupada said that you should take up this sankirtan movement and take it to every town and village, but if you do not, then someone else will do this job, but it will happen because Sriman Mahaprabhu has predicted this. Being convinced that ISKCON has failed to do this I can only conclude that others ARE doing this, with Narayan Maharaj, BB Tirtha Maharaj, Puri Maharaj, Bodhayan Maharaj, all travelling and preaching in the west. Very exalted vaishnavas, sweet men preaching the mission of Sriman Mahaprabhu - Lord Chaitanya, it is continuing. (Also Srila Prabhupada was a founder of the Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti - it is also his movement!)


By saying that Srila Prabhupada is the last pure devotee on this planet, you limit Krsna and Lord Chaitanya. I will accept that Srila Prabhupad's books will be the lawbooks for the next ten-thousand years. (Narayan Maharaj tells his disciples to read them, and teach from them daily).


Srila Rupa Goswami advised that if your Spiritual Master leaves the planet prematurely, (which means before you have attained Bhava) then you should take shelter of another Maha Bhagavat devotee. You may not agree with Rupa Goswami, but that is your decision.


Ritvik initiation is bona-fide - when the Spiritual Master has asked his disciples to act in this capacity, and only while he is alive on the planet.


Otherwise the Parampara would have ended with Lord Chaitanya, or Srila Bhaktivinode, or Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati. etc.


What are the consequences of insulting a Maha Bhagavat devotee?


Srila Narayan Maharaj knew Srila Prabhupada since 1947. After Srila Prabhupad's sannyas, for five years he spent much time with Narayan Maharaj, going on parikram daily, discussing Srimad Bhagavatam and the writings of the Goswami's.


Srila Narayan Maharaj is a very advanced and much loved Siksa disciple of Srila Prabhupada. By denying him access to the Math's and an invitation to ascend the Vyasasana in all of Srila Prabhupad's temples, the devotees of ISKCON have denied themselves an opportunity to please His Divine Grace - that's putting it mildly - you could say "greatly displeased" or "greatly offended!" How can they advance?


In the presence of a more advanced devotee one should not accept disciples, but refer them to the oldest/most advanced Vaishnava. Srila Narayan Maharaj used to refer people who came to him for initiation to Sridhara Maharaj.


Only after Sridhar Maharaj passed away did he start accepting disciples.


(Not until 72 years of age - mature and qualified - definitely - super-aggressive - I would say not! Compassionate - incredibly!)


So I encourage all of my godbrothers to associate with Srila Narayan Maharaj - Srila Gurudeva; you can only gain more love for Srila Prabhupada. I am convinced that he loves Srila Prabhupada more than me - and that Srila Prabhupada loves him more than most!


If you love Srila Prabhupada, you have nothing to fear from Srila Gurudeva.


His bhakti is amazing...


Your servant,


Kulasekhara das

Srila Prabhupad's first initiated European Disciple.


Unqualified Siksa disciple of Srila Narayan Maharaj.





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