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Srila Bhaktivedanta Vamana Gosvami Maharaja Disappearance

Srila Bhaktivedanta Vamana Gosvami Maharaja’s Complete Surrender

Our beloved Gurudeva, nitya-lila pravishta om vishnu-pada ashtottara-shata Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Vamana Gosvami Maharaja was born in East Bengal, what is now called Bangladesh. Around the age of seven or eight, Santosha, as Gurudeva was named, attended Navadvipa-dhama parikrama with his mother, and upon having the darshana of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada, he completely surrendered to his lotus feet.

Normally, after Navadvipa-dhama parikrama all devotees return to their homes. However, when our Gurudeva, who was only a small boy, was being forced by his mother to return back to East Bengal. But he simply said, “No, I don’t want to return there, I have come to my real home.”

If you read Narada Rishi’s life history, then you will find so many similarities to the life history of our Gurudeva’s. In Srimad-Bhagavatam Narada Rishi narrated his entire life history to Vyasadeva Gosvami. Narada Rishi retold how he attained his perfection goal.

In the same way, Srila Gurudeva told his mother, “I have come to my real home and will not return back to East Bengal. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada is my real mother and father.”

In Chaitanya-charitamrita it is explained, ‘sei se parama bandhu, sei pitā-mātā śrī-kṛṣṇa-caraṇe yei prema-bhakti-dātā’ — One who has established my relationship with Krishna, he is my supreme friend, my mother and father. He is a guru.

Importance of Following Basic Shastric Injunctions

When Santosha, meaning Gurudeva, listened to hari-katha (narrations of the Lord) from the lotus lips of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada, what type of katha did he listen to? Initially, in the Gaudiya Matha, one hears about atma-tattva — You are not this body, you are the soul and the eternal servant of Krishna.

jīvera ‘svarūpa’ haya kṛṣṇera ‘nitya-dāsa’ kṛṣṇera ‘taṭasthā-śakti’ ‘bhedābheda-prakāśa’

Chaitanya-charitamrita (Madhya-lila 20.108)

[It is the living entity’s constitutional position to be an eternal servant of Krishna, because he is the marginal energy of Krishna and a manifestation simultaneously one with and different from the Lord.]

Actually this is called the Gaudiya mantra, maha-mantra. Try to understand that when you first speak hari-katha, you must explain— ‘jīvera ‘svarūpa’ haya kṛṣṇera ‘nitya-dāsa’ kṛṣṇera ‘taṭasthā-śakti’ ‘bhedābheda-prakāśa’’. Or when speaking another katha, you must first learn these basic shlokas (verses):

labdhvā su-durlabham idaṁ bahu-sambhavānte mānuṣyam artha-dam anityam apīha dhīraḥ tūrṇaṁ yateta na pated anu-mṛtyu yāvan niḥśreyasāya viṣayaḥ khalu sarvataḥ syāt

Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.9.29)

[After many, many births and deaths one achieves the rare human form of life, which, although temporary, affords one the opportunity to attain the highest perfection. Thus a sober human being should quickly endeavor for the ultimate perfection of life as long as his body, which is always subject to death, has not fallen down and died. After all, sense gratification is available even in the most abominable species of life, whereas Krishna consciousness is possible only for a human being.]

Srimad-Bhagavatam provides evidence that this human body is very rare. The verse states, ‘labdhvā su-durlabham idaṁ bahu-sambhavānte…’— after 8,400,000 species, the Lord mercifully gives us this human body. Why? So we can attain our highest perfection. You have to practice devotional service to the Lord until you give up this body.

In our previous lives, we have always enjoyed the same four things — eating, sleeping, defending and mating. Yet, we did not practice devotional service to the Lord. For this regard, when we hear, ‘labdhvā su-durlabham idaṁ bahu-sambhavānte, mānuṣyam artha-dam anityam apīha dhīraḥ, tūrṇaṁ yateta na pated anu-mṛtyu yāvan, niḥśreyasāya viṣayaḥ khalu sarvataḥ syāt’, we must realise that during each life we have already enjoyed these four things.

Still, we were never satisfied and we have just forgotten. We no longer recall the many different types of sense gratifications that we have enjoyed in our previous lives. Maya (the Lord’s illusory potency) is very tricky, she makes us forget these things. For this reason, in every life we think, “This is my first life and I must do this, this and this.” Except, this is not true.

Why am I saying this? Because when Srila Gurudeva heard this katha, he was touched in his heart. You are listening to many kathas, this is true. Yet, your heart is not touched. Listening to hari-katha means it has reached your heart, it must touch your heart.

When Santosha heard this hari-katha he thought, “O, I must not return home to Bangladesh. I will just stay at the lotus feet of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada.” Despite his mother’s efforts, Santosha was crying and insisted, “No! I don’t want to go.” Finally, his mother left him in the temple and he resided there, serving under the guidance of Narahari Seva-vigraha Prabhu, who is known as the mother of the Gaudiya Matha. He also served all the other Vaishnavas too.

Exceptional Intelligence and Photographic Memory

This katha comes directly from the lotus lips of Srila Vamana Gosvami Maharaja; He told us how he served Vaishnavas, always stayed in their association and learned all the shlokas. At that time, Srila Prabhupada would award one chocolate if you learned one shloka. Every day, ten to fifteen brahmacharis (students in the temple) would come for one chocolate. However, Gurudeva would learn five, six or even seven shlokas daily and would often receive as many chocolates.

Srila Gurudeva was incredibly intelligent and had an impressively strong memory. Actually, once I directly asked my Gurudeva, “Gurudeva, how many shlokas do you know?” He answered, “If I speak for seven days and seven nights, I will still not finish speaking shlokas.” So many shlokas! For this reason, all Gaudiya Vaishnavas awarded him the title of ‘Gaudiya Dictionary’— Shabdakosh — which means dictionary.

Perhaps you memorise a verse, but you tend to forget exactly where the shloka is mentioned, but Gurudeva would always be able to reference every shloka, that is, which book it was mentioned in, the page number of the book and the edition number of the book, including all the specific variations of the editions. For example, Chaitanya-charitamrita comes in both Bengali and English editions and the chapter and verse reference numbers vary between them. However, my Gurudeva was always able to reference exactly which shlokas were in each edition and he could even recall the exact page number within each book! We easily forget these details.

In which section in Chaitanya-charitamrita is this shloka, “jīvera ‘svarūpa’ haya kṛṣṇera ‘nitya-dāsa’ kṛṣṇera ‘taṭasthā-śakti’ ‘bhedābheda-prakāśa’,” mentioned? One may easily answer, “Sanatana-shiksha,” but, which page number and which edition? You cannot recall these things.

However, my Gurudeva was incredibly intelligent. Even during his school years, he would never open his books in class. One day, his teacher was giving a class and Gurudeva had not opened his book, like all of the other students, who were reading. The teacher saw this and became very angry, he shouted, “Hey! Why have you not opened your book? I am reading and you should all be following along together.”

Another student quickly responded, “He already knows everything you are saying. There is no need for him to open his book.” So, the teacher tested this fact, and Gurudeva was able to prove that he knew everything in the first, second and last chapters of the book. Gurudeva said, “I never opened my book, if I read a book just once, I could easily remember everything.” He would also say, “If I read a shloka once, I can memorise it.” When you visit Sri Rupa-Sanatana Gaudiya Matha or any temple, you can read many shlokas written in Sanskrit all over the walls — except, how many times do you have to read the verses in order to memorise them? ‘Dharma-kṣetre, kuru-kṣetre…’, then you forget. My Gurudeva is very talented, you cannot imagine this; he never forgot anything he read. There is a Sanskrit word to describe such a personality, medhavi, which means one with a sharp intellect.

Sri Nrisimhadeva Protects His Sincere Devotees

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada enrolled him in school, and he was admitted to the Bhaktivinoda Institute. One day, during the monsoon season, a large storm came early in the morning. Then, Narahari Seva-vigraha Prabhu said, “Oh, there is heavy rain, and school should be closed. So there is no need to go to school today.” 

For this reason, Gurudeva washed his cloth, put on a gamcha (towel) and began cutting sabji (vegetables) with Narahari Prabhu. My Gurudeva was very expert in preparing and cutting sabji. Srila Gurudeva, Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja, even said, “Srila Vamana Gosvami Maharaja cooks and cuts sabji perfectly.” 

When preparing sabji to offer as bhoga (enjoyment) to the Lord, a varied combination of vegetables is important, and if everything is not cut in the right dimensions, then the sabji may not be appropriately cooked, in other words, left a little raw or not evenly seasoned. 

Whenever Srila Vamana Gosvami Maharaja cooked, it was done in a proper and perfect way. At that time, around 250 devotees would stay in our temple. And sometimes, when Gurudeva would assist Narahari Prabhu to cook, then everybody would recognise and say, “O, Sajjana-sevaka cooked today,” and anyone who would honour his prasada would agree how delicious and nectarian it was. Everything was properly prepared with the right amount of salt, and everything he cooked was always exemplary. 

Gurudeva would say, “I never use many spices in my cooking.” Whatever he cooked was sweet like nectar and everyone would always know and say, “O, Sajjana-sevaka cooked today's sabji.” 

Returning to the story, that day was a rainy day with heavy downpour, and rather than going to school, Gurudeva simply washed his cloth, put on a gamcha and began cutting the sabji with Narahari Prabhu. In the meantime, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada came and asked, “Hey Sajjana, Sajjana-sevaka Brahmachari, you did not go to school?” Actually, when Srila Gurudeva met with Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada, he was given harinama-diksha (Lord’s holy names) initiation. This is our Gaudiya tradition, first one receives harinama-diksha — there are two kinds of diksha (initiation), one is called harinama-diksha and the other is mantra-diksha (worshipping the Lord through mantra), that is gopala-mantra and gayatri-mantra.

So this day it rained heavily, which is quite usual in Bengal in the rainy season. When Srila Prabhupada entered and saw Gurudeva was not in school he asked, "Sajjana, why aren't you in school?" Sajjana-sevaka Brahmachari’s friend Narahari Prabhu replied, "Oh, it's raining so much today! It may be that the school is closed. I advised him not to go to school, so he washed his clothes." Prabhupada replied, "He has to go anyway.” After hearing this instruction from Prabhupada, Gurudeva began thinking, “This is Prabhupada's desire, I must go to school.” Except, how would he be able to go to school? 

Nowadays, we own many clothing items. However, at that time brahmacharis only owned one set of clothes— one kurta (t-shirt) and one dhoti (a type of sarong that outwardly resembles trousers) and perhaps one gаmcha and one chadar (neck-cloth) to adorn the neck. During those times, things were much more strict and austere.

So, Srila Gurudeva was contemplating, “I have to go to school because Prabhupada’s desire is that I attend class today.” But, how would he go to school? You cannot go to school wearing a gamcha. Gurudeva told us, “I came in my room and began thinking, ‘O, Prabhupada’s desire is that I go to school today.” 

Srila Prabhupada had given him the nrisimha-mantra, as well as harinama, so Gurudeva said, “I just chanted the nrisimha-mantra, returned to my room and saw my clothes were completely dry. Not only that, they even seemed to be ironed, so I was able to attend school.” 

It was now midday and when Srila Prabupada honoured prasada, he asked, “Where is Sajjana Brahmachari?” 

Narahari Prabhu responded, “He went to school.”

Prabhupada quickly asked, “How is this possible? You told me that he just finished washing his cloth and they had not yet dried?” 

Afterwards, Prabhupada did not inquire any further from Narahari Prabhu. However, at 4 o'clock, when Gurudeva returned back from school, he asked him, “How were you able to go to school today?” At that moment, Gurudeva replied simply, “You had the desire for me to go to school. For this reason, I chanted the nrisimha-mantra. And when I entered my room, I saw all my clothes were completely dried and even pressed.” After hearing this, Srila Prabhupada’s heart melted and tears began rolling down his face, realising just how much bhakta-vatsalya (parental love and affection) Nrisimhadeva has for His devotees. This nrisimha-mantra is very powerful. 

You can now see in Sri Chaitanya Matha, Srila Prabhupada established a Nrisimhadeva vigraha (deity). The location of the deity is just behind where the speakers usually give hari-katha. Furthermore, near Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s birthplace, Yoga-pitha, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada established a Nrisimhadeva mandira (temple) and placed His deity there.

ananyāś cintayanto māṁ

ye janāḥ paryupāsate

teṣāṁ nityābhiyuktānāṁ

yoga-kṣemaṁ vahāmy aham

Bhagavad-gita (9.22)

[But those who always worship Me with exclusive devotion, meditating on My transcendental form – to them I carry what they lack, and I preserve what they have.]

In Bhagavad-gita, Sri Krishna says to Arjuna, “One who is one-pointed with Me, whatever he needs, I will carry on My head” — Yoga-kṣemaṁ vahāmy aham’. Yoga-kṣemaṁ refers to— Everything one needs to maintain their life and to develop spiritually. 

Yet, for this to materialise, what is required? Aikantika-nishtha (one-pointed faith), ananya. What does ananya mean? Not worshipping any demigod or demigoddess, only the Divine Couple, Sri Sri Radha and Krishna and maintaining one-pointedness towards Them. Then Krishna will personally carry everything on His head.

Car Running Out of Petrol Pastime

Actually, I recall a very nice and beautiful katha, which I believe took place sometime around ’99. Srila Gurudeva, Srila Bhaktivedanta Vamana Gosvami Maharaja, came to Mathura to take darshana (auspicious sight) of all the Vraja-mandala pilgrimage sites in Mathura, Nandagaon, and Varshana. One day, he hired a car, and there were perhaps, three or four brahmacharis with him. Their journey that day required a long distance drive, and after traveling to Kamyavana, then Nandagaon and back to Mathura, it was near complete darkness. Suddenly, the driver stopped the car, as it ran out of gasoline. Now, how will they get gas?

They were in a complete desolate area, yet somehow, after ten minutes, an unknown person out of nowhere managed to bring some gas to fill the car. My Gurudeva, Srila Bhaktivedanta Vamana Gosvami Maharaja, was just sitting in the car and did not say anything. Then they commenced their journey back to the matha.

When they arrived in Mathura, Srila Gurudeva Narayana Gosvami Maharaja anxiously asked, “Why are you so late?”

Then, Gurudeva related the whole incident to him and revealed, “Actually, do you know who this person was? It was Krishna Himself, disguised as a Vrajavasi and He was the one who brought us petrol.”

Srila Bhaktivedanta Vamana Gosvami Maharaja mercifully recounted his own life history, and, incidentally, he mentioned how he delivered many ghosts from their terrible condition and had arranged many marriage ceremonies for ghosts too.

One special quality of Gurudeva, Srila BV Vamana Gosvami Maharaja, was that he always knew the hearts of all devotees. Once, he gave a hari-katha in Kolkata;— when you are in places like Bengal, normally after speaking, the audience will ask questions that they have regarding the subject just covered. One day, prior to commencing, my Gurudeva requested that if anyone had any questions, they should write them on a paper. Following his instructions, they all wrote their questions on a paper. And after speaking his hari-katha, Gurudeva asked, “Does anyone have any questions?” However, the entire audience was astonished because all of their questions had been answered without presenting their piece of paper.

Most of the time, Gurudeva generally gave hari-katha on the Eleventh Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, as the Eleventh Canto is abhidheya-tattva (categorical knowledge on the process of devotional service). Whenever Srila Bhakti Prajnana Keshava Gosvami Maharaja also gave hari–katha, he mostly covered the Eleventh Canto also. Try to always understand and absorb their transcendental teachings.

In this way, Gurudeva mercifully explained this katha to us, his life history and how he always served all Vaishnavas. In fact, there are many kathas to be spoken about his life history. Hence, earlier this morning I had a Hindi and Bengali katha, further glorifying his aprakrita, transcendental, life history.

[Jaya Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Vamana Gosvami Maharaja ki jaya!] [Jaya Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Trivikrama Gosvami Maharaja ki jaya!] Bolo Vrindavana Bihari Lala ki jaya!

Gaura Premanande! Hari Hari Bol!

Date: 30 October 2019  Location: India


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

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