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Srila Bhaktivedanta Vamana Gosvami Maharaja Appearance




Today is super-excellent and auspicious as it is the appearance day of nitya-lila-pravishta om vishnupada ashtottara-shata Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Vamana Gosvami Maharaja. The life of pure devotees is aprakrita-jivana-charitra, it is transcendental. Srila Gurudeva, Srila Bhaktivedanta Vamana Gosvami Maharaja, was born in East Bengal. At the age of seven or eight he came to Navadvipa-dhama parikrama with his mother. When Srila Gurudevа saw Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada, he fully surrendered to his lotus feet. After the parikrama, all the devotees went to their homes, and our Gurudevа, Santoshа as he was then called, also had to go home with his mother. She told him, “You have to go back home,” but Santosha said: “No, I do not want to go back home. I have found my true home.”


He who bestows krishna-bhakti, krishna-prema, is the true father, mother and friend. Santosha listened to the katha from the lotus mouth of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada and the katha touched his heart:


sei se parama-bandhu, sei mātā-pitā

śrī kṛṣṇa-charaṇe yei prema-bhakti-dātā


Sri Chaitanya-mangala (Madhya-khanda 12.195)


[One who gives others divine love for the feet of Sri Krishna is our best friend, and our true mother and father.]


My Gurudevа's life is similar to that of Narada Rishi. Narada Rishi narrates the story of his life to Vyasadeva. This part of Srimad-Bhagavatam is known as narada-vyasadeva-samvadа. [Srila Gurudeva is telling the story of Narada Rishi's life when he was serving saints in the ashrama.]


“Мy mother was taking care of the santa-mahatmas (saintly personalities), and in this way, we were performing this matha-seva. I was also performing some more seva, where I was washing the achamanа-patra (purifying water cup) of the saints. When a santa-mahatma finished honouring prasada, after taking their permission, I took a little bit of remnants from their plates. 


“And I was listening to hari-katha from these sadhus, and by this, they became pleased with me.” How does a sadhu become happy? When someone listens to his hari-katha, then he becomes happy. “So a mahatma notices who is actually listening to him. And I was always very carefully listening to the hari-katha of these saints.


“Thus, the santa-mahatmas became very happy with me. In the evening, my mother would take me back to the house, but I did not want to go. My mother had to forcefully take me home. I would cry every day. I prayed to the Lord, ‘Please Lord, be merciful upon me, I want to listen to the hari-katha from santa-mahatmas.’ 


“Then the Lord listened to my prayer. When you are praying to the Lord, one day, He will listen to you. In the evening time, my mother was milking a cow and a snake bit her, which led to my mother leaving her body. I now became so happy, because now, no one would stop me from listening to hari-katha. So afterwards, I began travelling around with the santa-mahatmas. Then, one of them gave me this mantra, “Om namo bhagavate vasudevaya.” And I was chanting this mantra with firm faith. I began going on pilgrimages along with the sadhu, which was very nice, and I realised so much about myself and the Lord.


“While in the temple, a desire to take the darshana of the Lord began growing within my heart. Then once, there was a sudden flash of lightning and I saw the Lord and I immediately fainted. When I came back to my external consciousness, I realised I had seen the Lord, and I now had a strong desire to see the Lord again and again. I was deeply crying to see the Lord.  


[The Lord said to me,] “Narada, you will not get My darshana again. When you leave this body and you will get a transcendental body, then you will get My darshana.” 


And I understood my prarabdha and I was waiting to leave this body, I was waiting for my time to be over to then receive my transcendental body. And after some time, I left that material body. Then with my transcendental body I went to bhagavad-dhama and I obtained the darshana of Lord Bhagavan.”


[As I have already mentioned,] Narada Muni katha and Srila Bhaktivedanta Vamana Gosvami Maharaja katha have many similarities, almost the same. Srila Bhaktivedanta Vamana Gosvami Maharaja surrendered himself unto the lotus feet of his Gurudeva Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada and accepted harinama from him. 


Srila Prabhupada then admitted Srila Bhaktivedanta Vamana Gosvami Maharaja to school. At the temple, Narahari Seva-vigraha Prabhuji was taking care of the temple and all residents there— he was known as the mother of the temple. And everyone was so absorbed in Narahari Seva-vigraha Prabhu’s love and affection for all of the devotees. For this reason, they all used to call him Narahari Dada. 


Srila Gurudeva (Srila Bhaktivedanta Vamana Gosvami Maharaja) would tell, “One morning, I was helping along with Narahari Seva-vigraha Prabhu to prepare and cut vegetables. It was during the rainy summer season and a heavy storm came. That same morning, Narahari Seva-vigraha Prabhu washed everyone’s clothes.” My Gurudeva used to cut the vegetables in such a nice way, everything was all cut into equal sizes. That day, Srila Prabhupada came downstairs from his room and saw that my Gurudeva was busy in the kitchen.


Then, Srila Prabhupada asked Gurudeva, “You do not want to go to school today?” Narahari Seva-vigraha Prabhu responded by saying, “Today is a rainy day so he did not go to school.” Srila Prabhupada said only one thing, “You have to go to school,” and went back to his room. Now Srila Gurudeva was thinking, “My Gurudeva said, ‘You have to go school.’ ” Then, as now, brahmacharis were given only one set of clothes: one gamcha, one dhoti and one t-shirt. And at night, the gamcha and clothes we wore will be washed that same night and worn the next morning after they had dried. In those days, we were not financially strong, so the brahmacharis were given only one set of clothing. At night, we would wear a gamcha while we washed our clothes to wear the next day. 


So Srila Gurudeva was thinking, “It is Prabhupada’s desire that I have to go to school. But, how can I go to school?” Srila Prabhupada had given a narasimha-mantra to Srila Vamana Gosvami Maharaja. Srila Gurudeva continued, “So I prayed to Narasimhadeva Bhagavan while chanting the narasimha-mantra and I was asking how I could go to school so I could fulfil my Gurudeva’s desire?” During those times, there were no irons, so clothes had to be hung out to dry, then pressed with our hands. 


It was now around 3pm and Srila Prabhupada returned from his rest and he asked Narahari, “Where is Santosha?” This was Srila Vamana Gosvami Maharaja’s name before he accepted diksha. Narahari Seva-vigraha Prabhu replied, “He went to school.” 


If you recall, his clothes were wet. Srila Prabhupada asked, “How did he go to school? Were all of his clothes dried?” When Santosha returned from school, Srila Prabhupada asked him, “How did you go to school?” Actually, Srila Prabhupada knew everything, he was antaryami, however here, he was only performing a lokavat-lila.


Gurudeva (Santosha) said, “Prabhupada, you gave me this narasimha-mantra, so I just chanted that narasimha-mantra, and I prayed to Narasimhadeva. Then, my clothes suddenly dried, and it appeared as if someone had even ironed them. I still could feel the heat coming from my clothes.” When Srila Prabhupada heard this katha, he hugged Santosha and he cried. You see, Bhagavan is bhakta-vatsala, and Srila Prabhupada was now crying because he realised how the Lord protected His servant, His bhakta


Gurudeva continued, “I only chanted this narasimha-mantra two times to protect me from problems. In my life, I only chanted this narasimha-mantra one more time. Once, I was going to Assam on the express train. In those times, in 1971, there were so many restrictions in India, there was even a curfew in effect. And anyone who travelled on a train without a ticket would be imprisoned for two months and given a fine.


“I was travelling on the Assam express with one of my disciples. After boarding the train, he realised that he was travelling without a ticket. Then, my disciple came to my compartment and asked, ‘What should I do?’ ” 


I have heard this katha directly from the lotus lips of my Gurudeva himself. Now, Srila Vamana Gosvami Maharaja was thinking, “My disciple will be imprisoned. Hiranyakashipu will catch my children and I will just watch as it happens? This is not possible.” 


Then Gurudeva told, “I prayed to Narasimhadeva Bhagavan as I chanted the narasimha-mantra. And when the ticket checker came, he began checking the tickets of everyone in our compartment. However, he did not ask to check the tickets of my disciple or myself. And the ticket checker came into our compartment many times, but each time he did not check our tickets.” This is the mercy of Narasimhadeva Bhagavan, and shows just how He protects His bhaktas


My Gurudeva, Srila Bhaktivedanta Vamana Gosvami Maharaja was a siddha-mahatma. One, in 1981, for the Navadvipa-parikrama, there were around ten thousand devotees present in the evening for the prasada distribution. Also that year, there was some construction taking place, so there was no shed for coverage. There was only a plastic tarpaulin to help protect devotees from the sun and rain. 


On one particularly stormy night, that thin roof began to quiver. Some said, “There will be rain coming soon.” But Gurudeva exclaimed, “No, no, there will be no rain tonight, everyone will be safe.” And amazingly, it was raining everywhere except the place where all the devotees were gathered.


It was safe only where prasada was being distributed and honoured. The same thing occurred the next day. There was so much rain. And that time Gurudeva again said, “No rain will come.” Thus, there was no rain. A santa-mahatma can see everything. And like Gurudeva predicted, there was no rain on either night. Gurudeva also said, “Indra and devatas (demigods) sometimes become jealous and they oppose us. Perhaps, if somebody is performing some bhakti, the devatas sometimes could give problems to that person. This is why Indra and other devatas give problems like bringing rains. Our Gurudeva’s glories are like this.


Srila Bhaktivedanta Vamana Gosvami Maharaja was always chanting the holy names. In his last year, 2004, my Gurudeva did not talk to anyone, he was only crying. That year, he also did not attend Navadvipa-parikrama. In this same year, during Purushottama month, there was a program for Gurudeva in Jagannatha Puri. With one hundred and fifty devotees, I went to Mayapura-parikrama, Brazil devotees were also there— they all went to take darshana of Gurudeva. Srimati Uma Didi was there too. 


Gurudeva would only take prasada which was close to him, the prasada which was far from him, he would never take. There was a brahmachari who told Gurudeva, “Srimati Uma Didi has come.” Then Gurudeva said this two or three times, “Uma!” He said, “Uma!” everytime with tears coming from his eyes. 


During the time of parikrama, nobody was allowed to touch the lotus feet of Srila Vamana Gosvami Maharaja. There was even a sign written stating that nobody was allowed to touch his feet. Srila Gurudeva was not speaking anything, he was only chanting the holy names. He was absorbed in the chanting of the holy names just like Madhavendra Puri, when my Gurudeva was chanting holy names, “Hare Krishna…,”  tears began falling from his eyes.


There was always a small handkerchief in his hands, which he would use to remove his tears. Not for one second did his tears stop. This was not an artificial display. In one hand, he held his chanting bag, and in the other Gurudeva held a small cloth to wipe away his tears. I witnessed this myself, there is even a video of this which I have somewhere.


As I mentioned, in those times, the Mathura Matha was not financially sound. For this reason, I was doing bhiksha (collecting money from door to door) in Mathura, and I was also inspiring others to do bhiksha. On some occasions, as many as twenty five devotees were inspired to collect bhiksha. We had to go and collect money in order to cover the costs of the parikrama


In those years, for around three hundred to four hundred rupees, we were able to perform parikrama for Jagannatha Puri and Navadvipa. Whenever I would go to take darshana of Gurudeva, he would call me Shivananda Sena. I would bring a very big pomegranate with me to offer to Gurudeva. I would go to the market and get  two or three boxes of pomegranates, then I would offer them to Gurudeva, and I would also distribute them to all the devotees. When I would offer Gurudeva a big slice, he would become very happy.

 

Every year I would bring him pomegranates and Gurudeva would become very happy. Because in our shastras it is mentioned that whenever you go to Guru and Bhagavan, you do not go empty handed. Gurudeva would tell this story, “When you go to these three personalities, you have to take something.” Who are they? “Guru, the doctor and Bhagavan. Whenever you are going to the temple, even if you do not have anything, just take one Tulasi patra, or you can even take a few flowers for the Lord.” Gurudeva used to always say this.


So, whenever you are going to the temple, never go empty handed, take something to offer. When you take from someone, you have to also give back. Uddhavanti Maharaja would not accept service from anyone. In fact, no one was even allowed to wash his utensils. He would reside in a very small room, like a hut. He was very expert in Sanskrit. Once Uddhavanti Maharaja said, “If you accept service from anyone, you have to give something to him in return.” 


And my Gurudeva would preach alone, he did not like to keep any disciples or devotees with him. He would carry his own umbrella, which he placed over his shoulder, and a small bag in which he put his cloths. During those times, Srila Gurudeva would not take any disciple with him. I have heard this story from my Gurudeva directly. Srila Gurudeva was nirapeksha (not affected by anything). A santa-mahatma should actually be this way. 


So, there are three personalities you should never cheat. The first is the Lord. What can you offer to the Lord? The Lord has a wife who is full of opulence, Lakshmi-devi, thus, what would He want from you? The Lord’s wife is Ratnagari Lakshmi-devi, Lakshmi-devi is the source of all the opulence. 


Still, whenever you go to the temple, you can at least offer one flower to the Lord, or you can offer some Tulasi leaves, or even simply take some water from your house and offer it to the Lord. Some devotees can make normal water into Ganga water by simply chanting the mantra, ‘ganga yamuna cha…,’ Also, if you take one glass of water and just place one drop of ganga-jala in there, it all becomes ganga-jala. In any container of normal water, if you mix one drop of Gangaji, then it all becomes Ganga water. Srila Gurudeva used to say that when you place one pot of ganga-jala in front of Tulasiji, and afterwards, when all the Vaishnavas offer a drop of that ganga-jala in Tulasi leaf, you will get sukriti from placing the pot there— for vaishnava-seva.


There are many stories of my Gurudeva, but time is short. I will quickly recall one more pastime. Once, Gurudeva was performing Vraja-mandala parikrama, and he was coming to Mathura. Near Nandagaon, the car he was travelling in ran out of fuel. They found themselves in the middle of an empty village. There was nothing in front for three kilometres or for three kilometres back. 


They were seemingly stranded without fuel and it was a cold winter night. Then a person appeared and asked, “What happened Maharaja?” After hearing their dilemma, that person went somewhere and he returned to the car with some gasoline. On returning to the temple, Srila Gurudeva revealed that the person who appeared was none other than Krishna Himself, disguised as a villager.


In the Bhagavad-gita, the Lord Himself said, “I will take all the service and responsibilities of My one-pointed devotee. To that person who is one-pointed to Me, whatever you have, I will protect, and whatever you want, I will give.” 


There are many stories and beautiful pastimes about Gurudeva to recall. And on our Srila Gurudevas’ tirobhava and avirbhava tithis, on their appearance and disappearance days, you have to glorify them and listen to their life histories. From this, you will get so much inspiration and enthusiasm, and with this, you can perform hari-bhajana.


Thus, you have to try and follow the footsteps and examples set by our Gurudeva. This is why we have to listen to their life histories. Again and again, we have to listen to these pastimes so we can get inspiration and enthusiasm in our hearts. We should not be depressed or hopeless. Some, just by getting bitten by an ant, become hopeless. Just one ant bite and they become very upset. Do not be like this. We have to be always enthusiastic in our bhajana.


[Gaura Premanande! Hari Hari bol!

Jaya Srila Gurudeva ki jaya!

Jaya Srila Bhaktivedanta Vamana Gosvami Maharaja ki jaya!

Jaya jaya Sri Radhe!]


Date: 28 December 2021 Location: India

 

Translator: Unknown

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

Image: Unknown



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