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The Glories of Sri Srimad Bhakti Pramoda Puri Gosvami Maharaja

In our guru-parampara (disciplic succession of spiritual masters), Srila Bhakti Pramoda Puri Gosvami Maharaja is the very nearest and dearest disciple of nitya-lila Bhaktisiddhanta Srila Prabhupada.

vaiṣṇavera guṇa gāna

karile jīvera trāṇa

In Chaitanya-bhagavata, Vrindavana dasa Thakura explained, “In this life, it is very difficult to perform bhajana and sadhana (devotional activities), because Kali-yuga is very powerful. However, if you listen to the life history of our previous acharyas (teachers) and of our guru-varga (successive lineage)when we hear how they performed sadhana-bhajana and how they served their guru-parampara, some hope, asha, will come in our hearts. I am always placing emphasis on these words: guru-seva (service to guru).

Prahlada Maharaja said:

guru-śuśrūṣayā bhaktyā

sarva-labdhārpaṇena ca

saṅgena sādhu-bhaktānām

īśvarārādhanena ca

Srimad-Bhagavatam (7.7.30)

[One must accept the bona fide spiritual master and render service unto him with great devotion and faith. Whatever one has in one’s possession should be offered to the spiritual master, and in the association of saintly persons and devotees one should worship the Lord.]

There are many processes to attain the Lord. However, Prahlada Maharaja said, “A very simple process is to serve guru.” Guru-shushrushaya, guru-seva. This is the best and easiest process. Srila Gour Govinda Gosvami Maharaja told, “In this material world, you have sacrificed all of your blood for your family members and for everyone else, still, it is very difficult to completely satisfy them. However, if you offer a little bit of service to guru, guru will be pleased with you.”

And when guru is pleased with you, Krishna will also be pleased. You see, if Krishna is unhappy with you, guru can protect you. But, if guru is unhappy with you, no one can protect you. Thus, the conclusion is— how we will serve our gurupada-padma (lotus feet of guru) with guru-nishtha (strong faith in guru) and guru-bhakti (devotional service to guru), which are called the backbone of our sadhana-bhajana.

So, we see how Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada’s disciples like Srila Bhakti Prajnana Keshava Gosvami Maharaja, Srila Bhakti Dayita Madhava Gosvami Maharaja, Srila Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhara Gosvami Maharaja and Srila Bhakti Pramoda Puri Gosvami Maharaja, were completely surrendered to his lotus feet, and they served Prabhupada and fulfilled all of his desires. How did they fulfil the desires of their guru? A guru never makes a disciple, a guru only makes a guru. Do you understand? This is the philosophy. And what does this mean? Guru inspires the hearts of his disciples to preach all over the world. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said:

pṛthivīte āche yata nagarādi grāma

sarvatra pracāra haibe mora nāma

Chaitanya-bhagavata (Antya-khanda 4.126)

[As many towns and villages there are on the surface of the globe everywhere people will know My name.]

Mahaprabhu told, “One day, My name will be preached all over the world.” For this regard, all the disciples of Prabhupada preached everywhere on this planet. Now they are called jagat-gurus (gurus of the entire world).

And how did Srila Bhakti Pramoda Puri Gosvami Maharaja serve his guru? I would hear Gurudeva, Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja, glorify him often. On many occasions Gurudeva would say, “When I first met Srila Bhakti Pramoda Puri Gosvami, I always noticed he was absorbed in writing. He wrote many granthas (books) and he was always chanting the holy names.”

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare

Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

Srila Prabhupada gave him this instruction, “You have to manifest granthas.” Srila Bhakti Pramoda Puri Gosvami Maharaja also performed many other services. During this mentioned time, he was also a temple president.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada always told all his disciples, “Everyone has to chant sixty four rounds.” How many rounds? Sixty four. Have you chanted sixty four rounds? Do you understand? Srila Prabhupada also instructed Srila Bhakti Pramoda Puri Gosvami Maharaja to manage everything for his patrika (periodical magazine). In this way, he was managing these things and also manifesting granthas.

One day, Srila Bhakti Pramoda Puri Gosvami Maharaja asked his Gurudeva, “Gurudeva you instructed that I have to chant sixty four rounds every day. Can I perhaps chant slightly less? Maybe forty rounds or fifty rounds?” Then, Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada asked him, “How many hours are you sleeping each night?” Maharaja replied, “I am only sleeping four hours.” How many hours did he say? Four hours, and the other twenty hours, he was engaged in seva. Srila Prabhupada replied, “Okay, you can sleep one less hour. You’ll sleep for only three hours. However, you should not stop chanting sixty four rounds.”

When you hear this katha, story, so much inspiration enters your heart— to hear how Prabhupada’s disciples served him is so inspirational. Despite Srila Bhakti Pramoda Puri Gosvami Maharaja being engaged in his daily seva for twenty hours and only sleeping four, Prabhupada insisted, “No, you cannot be excused.” You say, “O Gurudeva, I do not have time to chant so many holy names.” “Ok, you can just sleep less, as you will still have to chant sixty four rounds of the holy name each day.” Sańkhyā-pūrvaka-nāma-gāna-natibhiḥ. During Prabhupada’s time, they were very fixed. Every brahmachari (celibate student) had to chant sixty four rounds in addition to rendering his regular service. If you only chant the holy names and do not engage your mind in servicing guru— your mind will be going here and there. Because, our minds are like what? Ghosts. If you do not engage your mind in serving in Krishna consciousness, then it will automatically travel here and there. Thus, one should chant sixty four rounds and read granthas each day.

During the time of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada, there was definitely no excuse. If you attempted to say, “Oh, I have no time. I have to do all of these things.” No. Just look how Srila Prabhupada told Srila Bhakti Pramoda Puri Gosvami Maharaja, “Okay, if you sleep four hours every day, now you can sleep only three hours. And with this one extra hour, what can you do? You can chant more holy names.” This was his firm instruction to his disciple.

When one hears this katha so much inspiration comes in one’s heart. You must chant the holy names and also render service to Guru and Vaishnavas. Because if you do not chant the holy names— how will your mind be purified?

nāma vinu kali-kāle nāhi āra dharma

sarva-mantra-sāra nāma, ei śāstra-marma

Chaitanya-charitamrita (Adi-lila 7.74)

[In this Age of Kali, there is no religious principle other than the chanting of the holy name, which is the essence of all Vedic hymns. This is the purport of all scriptures.]

The essence of all the scriptures is nama-sankirtana (chanting the holy names of the Lord). How will you stay with the Lord if you do not chant the holy names— what to speak of Guru or Vaishnavas?

I have read and listened to the life history of Srila Bhakti Pramoda Puri Gosvami Maharaja from his disciples. I had the great fortune of meeting him once in Vrindavana. At that time, he did not have a temple and was staying in Vrindavana at Sri Chaitanya Gaudiya Matha. That day, I arrived with Srila Gurudeva. Perhaps you have seen a picture from that moment Gurudeva and I met with him. Actually, I met with him many times. He was always incredibly humble, he is actually called the embodiment of trinad api sunich, “One must be very humble and meek”, and Maharaja was always chanting, “Haribol! Haribol! Haribol!”

I will tell you one of his stories, which shows exactly why he was the personification of trinad api sunich and dainya-murti (embodiment of humility). Once, there was an acharya who was giving a class on Bhajana-rahasya grantha. Do you know this book, Bhajana-rahasya? In Bhajana-rahasya’s preface, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada wrote, Archana and bhajana. Archana means to worship Thakuraji (deity) and bhajana means, one who has realised his own transcendental constitutional form, siddha-deha, and with this form, directly serves the Divine Couple, Sri Sri Radha and Krishna. This is real bhajana.

Try to understand that sadhana and bhajana are not the same things. Sometimes, you are using these words together, but actually, this is not accurate. Bhajana is a very high level spiritual practice— only uttama-mahapurushas (pure devotees in the highest stage of devotional life) can perform bhajana, we cannot really perform bhajana. Only those who are the eternal associates of Krishna, Krishna’s nitya-parikaras, can do so.

What does the word bhajana mean? Seva. And we are sadhakas (spiritual practitioners), therefore we can do sadhana (regulative devotional practices).

To briefly explain archanaarchana is worshipping the Lord and most neophyte devotees, kanishtha-adhikaris, are focusing their intentions on worshipping Thakuraji.

arcāyām eva haraye

pūjāṁ yaḥ śraddhayehate

na tad-bhakteṣu cānyeṣu

sa bhaktaḥ prākṛtaḥ smṛtaḥ

Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.2.47)

[A devotee who faithfully engages in the worship of the Deity in the temple, but does not behave properly toward other devotees or people in general is called a prakrita-bhakta, a materialistic devotee and is considered to be in the lowest position.]

This is one of the definitions of a kanishtha-adhikari devotee, a neophyte devotee. If you recall, in Bhajana-rahasya’s preface Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada wrote, ‘Archana and bhajana’. So, when that acharya was giving this example of archana, he was referring, more to kanishtha-adhikaris’ archana. However, it is important to understand that in high level stages, there are no differences between archana and bhajana. Srila Jiva Gosvamipada explained, “What does archana mean? Kunja-seva (service in secluded pastime groves of Sri Sri Radha-Krishna).” Like Sri Rupa Gosvami performs or like all other high classed, exalted devotees perform— manasi-seva (service rendered within the mind) in their siddha-dehas (spiritual bodies), they perform this type of archana, radhikam archayami (“I worship Sri Radhika.”).

Returning, that acharya actually did not criticise anyone, he simply said this in his hari-katha, “Did you know that Srila Bhakti Pramoda Puri Gosvami Maharaja was an expert in worshipping Thakuraji? Since he was born in brahmana (priest) family, from childhood, he had many good impressions, and he very expertly and properly worshipped Thakuraji.”

That day, a disciple of Srila Bhakti Pramoda Puri Maharaja attended the class and did not fully understand what the speaker said. Hence, that disciple mistakenly thought, “Oh, perhaps my Gurudeva is kanishtha-adhikari? As shastras (scriptures) state, a kanishtha-adhikari’s focus and intents are on archana.”

Every disciple normally thinks, “My Gurudeva is uttama-bhagavata,” however, this disciple now questioned, “Did he criticise my Gurudeva by saying he is kanishtha-adhikari?” Then, his mind became very disturbed as, sometimes, listeners do not hear properly. They just listen with one ear and it goes out of the other. Perhaps at times they are not even listening at all. They only sit there and allow their minds to wander. This was the problem.

In the same way, that disciple of Srila Bhakti Pramoda Puri Gosvami Maharaja, did not listen properly and after hearing this katha, he thought, “One who is a kanishtha-adhikari gives intents to worship to Thakuraji. And this speaker gave an example of Bhakti Pramoda Puri Gosvami Maharaja and even mentioned how he was an expert at worshipping Thakuraji. So, did he mean that my Gurudeva, Bhakti Pramoda Puri Gosvami Maharaja is a kanishtha-adhikari?” His mind was very disturbed.

Then, after the class he left and told his Gurudeva, “Gurudeva my mind is very disturbed.” Srila Puri Maharaja asked his disciple, “What happened?” His disciple replied, “I went to hear hari-katha from this person and he said that you are a kanishtha-adhikari!” After hearing this, Bhakti Pramoda Puri Gosvami Maharaja very humbly asked, “Oh, you listened to hari-katha from a Vaishnava?” And then shouted, “Haribol! Haribol!”

After, he took his japa-mala (a string of one hundred and eight prayer beads) and placed them on top of his head while saying, “Ah, I was thinking that still I am not a Vaishnava. However, now, a Vaishnava has given me this title of kanishtha-adhikari. Look, I am a kanishtha-adhikari!”

You see, in Chaitanya-charitamrita it is explained:

yāhāra komala śraddhā, se ‘kaniṣṭha’ jana krame krame teṅho bhakta ha-ibe ‘uttama’

Chaitanya-charitamrita (Madhya-lila 22.69)

[One whose faith is soft and pliable is called a neophyte, but by gradually following the process he will rise to the platform of a first-class devotee.]

Srila Bhakti Pramoda Puri Gosvami Maharaja told his disciple, “One day, he is a kanishtha-adhikari. And after a few years, he will become a madhyama-adhikari. Then, he will become an uttama-adhikari. So, why do you have a problem? Now, I am a Vaishnava. As a Vaishnava has just given me this stamp— that I am a Vaishnava. Prior to this, I was thinking that still I was not a Vaishnava.”

'āmi to vaiṣṇava', e buddhi hoile, amānī nā ho'bo āmi

pratiṣthāśā āsi', hṛdoya dūṣibe, hoibo niraya-gāmī

Kripa Koro Vaishnava Thakura, verse 2,

by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura

[If I think, "I am a Vaishnava," then I will never become humble. My heart will become contaminated with the hope of receiving honour from others and I will surely go to hell.]

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura sang, “If you think, “I am a Vaishnava”, then you cannot offer respect to others.” Ami to vaiṣṇava. Always try to consider, “I am not a Vaishnava, everyone else is a Vaishnava.” This pastime shows why Srila Bhakti Pramoda Puri Gosvami Maharaja was the embodiment of trinad api sunich. Any uttama-bhagavata always believes, “I am just a kanishtha.” He would even think, “I am not even him.” This is the humility of Vaishnavas. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu taught us how we can always become humble:

tṛṇād api sunīcena

taror iva sahiṣṇunā

amāninā mānadena

kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ

Chaitanya-charitamrita (Adi-lila 17.31)

[One who thinks himself lower than the grass, who is more tolerant than a tree, and who does not expect personal honour, yet is always prepared to give all respect to others, can very easily and always chant the holy name of the Lord.]

If you want to chant the holy names, you must first acquire four qualifications. First, tṛṇād api sunīcena— you must always remain humbler than a blade of grass. Taror iva sahiṣṇunā— you must always be tolerant like a tree. Amāni— you must never hanker for your own name, fame and reputation. Mānadena—always give respect to others. After this, you will be qualified to chant the holy names. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura sang this song:

kabe nityānanda, more kori 'doyā, chārāibe mora viṣayera māyā diyā more nija-caraṇera chāyā, nāmera hāṭete dibe adhikār

Kabe Ha’be Bolo, verse 6

by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura

[When will Nityananda Prabhu be merciful to me and deliver me from the enchantment (maya) of the sense objects? When will he give me the shade of his lotus feet and the right to enter the market place (nama-hatta) of the holy name?]

Kabe nityānanda, means akhanda-guru-tattva (He from whom all gurus manifest), and He will give you shelter under His lotus feet. Then, you will be freed from all of maya’s clutches. And what does maya mean? Attachment to material sense gratification. After, you will be qualified to chant the holy names. Thus, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura is saying, “Kabe nityānanda, more kori 'doyā, chārāibe mora viṣayera māyā diyā more nija-caraṇera chāyā, nāmera hāṭete dibe adhikār.” Then, you are qualified to chant holy names.

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare

Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

As mentioned, Srila Bhakti Pramoda Puri Gosvami Maharaja is the embodiment of trinad api sunich and he chanted the holy names.

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare

Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

When I met with him, he mostly glorified nama (the Lord’s holy name) and explained nama-aparadha (offences against the holy name). Nama aparadha vichar— you have to consider ten offences to the holy names. This is very important. You must chant the holy names, this is true. However, how will you chant the holy names?

ye-rūpe la-ile nāma prema upajaya

tāhāra lakṣaṇa śuna, svarūpa-rāma-rāya

Chaitanya-charitamrita (Antya-lila 20.20)

[Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu continued, “O Svarupa Damodara Gosvami and Ramananda Raya, hear from Me the symptoms of how one should chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra to awaken, very easily, one’s dormant love for Krishna.”]

Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, “O Svarupa Damodara, Raya Ramananda. How will you chant the holy names? Accepting harinama and diksha from guru is not enough. You must learn how to properly chant the holy names.” Sacinandana Gaurahari Himself spoke these things. Learn these shlokas, especially the third verse of Shikshashtakamtṛṇād api sunīcena taror iva sahiṣṇunā amāninā mānadena kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ. And always control your senses. This is very important.

Thus, today is a super excellent auspicious day. There are so many stories of his life that we can speak on how Bhakti Pramoda Puri Gosvami Maharaja served his gurupada-padma. I pay my humble obeisances to Srila Bhakti Pramoda Puri Gosvami Maharaja and pray that one day I can serve my Gurudeva as he served his.

vāñchā-kalpa-tarubhyaś ca

kṛpā-sindhubhya eva ca

patitānāṁ pāvanebhyo

vaiṣṇavebhyo namo namaḥ

[Jaya Srila Gurudeva ki jaya!]

[Jaya Srila Bhakti Pramoda Puri Gosvami Maharaja ki jaya!]

[Jaya jaya Sri Radhe!]

Date: 24 September 2017 Location: Malaysia


Transcriber: Sanatana dasa (USA) Editor: Sanatana dasa (USA) Integrity check: Divya-premamayi dasi (Slovakia) Proofreader: Chandrika dasi (UK) Image: Navina-krishna dasa (Holland)

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