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Srila Bhakti Srirupa Siddhanti Gosvami Maharaja Appearance

We are gathered here today for a very auspicious occasion, the appearance day of a very special Gaudiya acharya, nitya-lila pravishtha om vishnupada ashtottara-shata Sri Srimad Bhakti Srirupa Siddhanti Gosvami Maharaja. In order to purify my tongue on this special day, I want to speak some words about his life history and contributions. As this verse states:

vaiṣṇavera guṇa-gāna karile jīvera trāṇa

Sri Caitanya-bhagavata by Vrindavana dasa Thakura

[Singing the glories of the Vaishnavas delivers the living entities.]

If you glorify the lives of Vaishnavas and their transcendental activities or when you perform shravana and kirtana, listening to or speaking about their lives, your tongue becomes purified. Earlier in my life, while staying in Sri Devananda Gaudiya Matha, I had the great fortune to visit Srila Bhakti Srirupa Siddhanti Mahajara’s temple with Srimad Madhusudana Maharaja— who at the time was named Krishna-kripa Brahmachari. One day, we visited his Radha Bazar temple and by our great fortune, Srila Bhakti Srirupa Siddhanti Maharaja had just returned from Kolkata.

Powerful Preacher

What is sadhu-darshana? From childhood, some of us have heard the glories of sadhus and at times, have even had the great benefit of attaining sadhu-darshana. I have also had the great honor of taking the darshana of Srila Bhakti Srirupa Siddhanti Maharaja. During that time, his health was failing. I recall he was sitting outside and only spoke a few words to his disciples in Bengali regarding bhakti and the symptoms of a true saint— he possessed all symptoms and twenty six qualities of the Vaishnavas, like kripalu, mercy.

Just by seeing this great personality, you can realise his conceptions, behaviours and mentality. For example, when Vasanthala Chaturvedi would give hari-katha in our Sri Keshavaji Gaudiya Matha, he would say, “How can you easily distinguish the qualification of the speaker? Just by hearing his vandana (the offering of prayers) and mangalacharana (auspicious invocation), one can gauge the level of the preacher.”

Through the preface of the speech, you can already tell some things about someone’s personality and bhajana (spiritual life). Everything manifests automatically, just as the preface of a person’s book gives the reader an introduction to the author. Srila Bhakti Srirupa Siddhanti Gosvami Maharaja’s personality, his bhajana, all of his specialities, would automatically and spontaneously manifest when he shared his nectarean kathas. There is another example, during the disappearance of our Gurudeva, Srila Bhaktivedanta Vamana Gosvami Maharaja, Madhu Didi spoke so beautifully and gave pushpanjali (flower offering) to the feet of Srila Gurudeva. With her heartfelt words, Madhu Didi nicely expressed our bhavas or sentiments.

There is bhasha (language) and there is bhava (mood), and whatever bhavas are contained in your heart are expressed through language. When a person speaks katha, they are simply expressing their personality and simultaneously revealing their bhajana. Meaning, when a person speaks katha, you can understand several things about his nature, personality and even spiritual practice.

I find myself very blessed to have had the opportunity of taking darshana of the gana (group) of nitya-lila pravishta om vishnupada Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada. Meaning, his associates like Srila Bhakti Vichara Yayavara Gosvami Maharaja, and other disciples like Srila Bhakti Kumuda Santa Maharaja, Srila Bhakti Pramoda Puri Maharaja, Srila Bhakti Vaibhava Puri Maharaja and pujyapada Srila Bhakti Jivana Janardana Maharaja. I had the great fortune to see them and to hear katha from some of the disciples of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada.

Bold Preaching in Bengal

Srila Bhakti Srirupa Siddhanti Gosvami Maharaja’s preaching, his hari-katha was very similar to that of pujyapada Srila Tirtha Gosvami Maharaja— who just previously spoke. Both of their voices are just like shankha-dhvani, the sound of a conch shell. Have you heard the sound of a conch shell? It is so beautiful, and it is similar to the sound one hears when they both speak. Being a great speaker, Srila Bhakti Srirupa Siddhanti Gosvami Maharaja was sent by Srila Prabhupada to Eastern Bengal to spread the teachings of our Gaudiya Vaishnava conceptions.

As a brahmachari, his name was Siddha-svarupa Brahmachari. Once, he attended a very large assembly in Bengal, where thousands of people gathered. There, he spoke against Rabindranath Tagore and Vivekananda from the Ramakrishna Mission, which was widely popular at the time, especially in that region. While speaking he said, “What has Vivekananda preached?” You see, some people preach and do not follow their own preaching, and some follow instructions and never preach. One should preach and also follow what they have just spoken— your behaviour should match your preaching.

āpane ācare keha, nā kare pracāra pracāra karena keha, nā karena ācāra

‘ācāra’, ‘pracāra’, — nāmera karaha ‘dui’ kārya tumi — sarva-guru, tumi jagatera ārya

Sri Caitanya-caritamrita (Antya-lila 102-103)

[Some behave very well, but do not preach the cult of Krishna consciousness, whereas others preach but do not behave properly. You simultaneously perform both duties in relation to the holy name by your personal behaviour and by your preaching. Therefore, you are the spiritual master of the entire world, for you are the most advanced devotee in the world.]

‘Ācāryavān puruṣo veda’ (Chandogya Upanishad 6.14.2) means that the preaching of Vedas is actually spreading the words of our acharays. And Srila Bhakti Srirupa Siddhanti Gosvami Maharaja was against this Ramakrishna Mission group because Vivekananda travelled to Western countries and spread misconceptions by saying things like, “Everyone is Brahma.” He preached that the only things we need to concern ourselves with is making our bodies strong, and giving charity to those in need, like Mother Teresa. However, don’t people in Western countries already do these things? They already donate to charities, and most Westerners already love to eat. These missions, headed by Vivekananda and other people, set up charities for the poor and became world famous for their endeavours— just like Mother Teresa did.

Nowadays in Western countries, the name Mother Teresa is highly recognisable. Vivekananda also attained notoriety for travelling the world preaching misconceptions like, “You have to make your body strong,” and also saying things like, “Why are you watering Tulasi plants? We should instead give this water to an eggplant tree. You should play football and not study Bhagavad-gita. Because, if you read Bhagavad-gita, so much pain will come in your back from sitting in a reading position. Why read Bhagavad-gita? Just do one thing. Play football, then your body will be strong and you will all be healthy.”

Thus, in an attempt to clarify certain misconceptions and misteachings, Srila Bhakti Srirupa Siddhanti Gosvami Maharaja spoke against Rabindranath Tagore and Vivekananda in this large assembly, he boldly said, “Rabindranath is ramachagal, like a goat.” In this way, Srila Bhakti Srirupa Siddhanti Gosvami Maharaja very strongly publicly spoke against these sahajiyas (imitationists) and against the Ramakrishna Mission. When the audience members heard these things, they began throwing objects at him. The scene became quite chaotic as he was publicly stating everything in an area full of their supporters. So in response, the enraged crowd began launching items at him.

Since the Bengalis became upset with him for speaking boldly, they began to say, “Why did you speak like this about them? Rabindranath Tagore is a worldwide famous writer. How can you say these things about him?” The crowd were angry over the things Srila Bhakti Srirupa Siddhanti Gosvami Maharaja had said. In response, Maharaja said, “Okay, tomorrow I will explain everything properly.”

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada’s Approval

Then, what happened? A telegram was sent to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada where someone said, “Srila Prabhupada, this Siddha-svarupa Brahmachari has ruined our preaching efforts here. Everyone is now against us, and we will no longer be able to obtain any favourable donations for our Navadvipa parikrama.” Because when they would go preaching in Bengal, they would collect rice donations and other goods to assist our yearly parikramas.

How did Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada reply after reading the telegram? He wrote, “No, actually Siddha-svarupa Brahmachari’s preaching is worth lakh crore rupees,” thousands and millions of rupees, “He did so much preaching on our behalf and everything he spoke is correct.” Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada also said, “His message was not intended for fools who are like animals and only respond to harsh words. Rather, his message was meant for the good people within our society, those who can think for themselves and have some knowledge of shastra. Those in the crowd against him are simply unaware of the truth. Everything Siddha-svarupa Brahmachari preached was proper.”

Srila Bhakti Srirupa Siddhanti Gosvami Maharaja did not have many temples, I believe he only established around three or four. Although his temples were not as large as others, like the ones found here in Govardhana or Jagannatha Puri, they were so beautifully decorated! If you have noticed, our temple walls are adorned with these 3D sculptures, bas relief paintings of Sri Radha-Krishna’s and Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s lilas. Actually, this idea originally came from the temples of Bhakti Srirupa Siddhanti Gosvami Maharaja. His temples were so nicely decorated with these beautiful renditions of Their lilas (pastimes) that the idea spread to all other Gaudiya Mathas. Nowadays, most Gaudiya Mathas have similar representations on their walls.

Also, the prasada from his temples is so amazing. If you take prasada from his temple just once, you will remain hankering to have more. Sometimes I went to honour prasada in his temple with Gurudeva. We visited his Radha Bazar Gaudiya Matha and I witnessed first-hand how beautifully he expressed all kinds of services.

I pay my obeisances to this great mahapurusha— who also composed so many books. In the same way, although Srila Rupa Gosvami departed from this material world around 500 years ago, his books are still with us, and through his books we can understand his bhava and his personality. We have never physically seen Sri Rupa Gosvamipada, but if you have read his books, then you will be able to understand some aspects about him. Gurudeva would say, “Through books we can understand the author’s personality and moods. A speaker may withhold his mood while preaching. However, a writer’s mood flows uninterrupted throughout his book.”

Writing a book is no ordinary feat. If you ever attempt to write a book, you shall see for yourself. It is a very difficult task to accomplish in any language. If you do try, you will find out exactly how lengthy the process can be. And also, how difficult it can be to write an entire book in proper sequence.

Srila Bhakti Srirupa Siddhanti Gosvami Maharaja composed so many books in both Sanskrit and Bengali. He was an exemplary Vaishnava. I pay my humble obeisances to his lotus feet again and again. And I pray that one day a single drop of his mercy can come upon me.

[Jaya Srila Gurudeva ki jaya!]

[Jaya Srila Bhakti Srirupa Siddhanti Gosvami Maharaja ki jaya!]

[Jaya jaya Sri Radhe!]

Date: 1 November 2019 Location: India


Translator from Hindi: Taruni-gopi dasi (Brazil) Transcriber: Sanatana dasa (USA) Editor: Sanatana dasa (USA) Integrity check: Divya-premamayi dasi (Slovakia) Proofreader: Candrika dasi (UK) Image: Narasimhananda dasa (Russia)

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