Srila Bhakti Pramode Puri Goswami Maharaja:
“Those who identify themselves as disciples cannot defend their identity as “disciple” or guru-dasa if they live whimsically in transgression of the standards of discipline established by sad-guru and the Vaishnavas, or if they abandon fulfilling the heart’s desire (mano’bhista-seva) of Sri Gurudeva and thereafter seek shelter in personal sense-gratification on the pretext of doing seva and puja (ceremonial worship). Their style of living can never be considered pursuant of paramartha, or transcendence. If one does not precisely follow the orders and instructions of Sri Gurudeva, without changing them, one can never do true good to oneself or others.”
Today is the appearance day of Nitya Lila Pravista Om Visnupada Astottara Sata Sri Srimad Bhakti Pramoda Puri Gosvami Maharaja. Both, the appearance day and the disappearance day of the Vaisnavas are helpful. If we remember the Vaisnava on his appearance day and pray to him, then holding our hands, he will teach us everything. After his disappearance, he is present in the eternal world. If we pray to him, remember him, and worship him, then he will shower his mercy and blessings from the eternal world. These blessings are more powerful and tasteful. Thus, the appearance and disappearance day of the Vaisnava is very good.
On his appearance day, the Vaisnava came to this world. Vaisnavas don’t have their own choice or desires. God Himself or His Svarupa-sakti send the Vaisnava to this world. Mahaprabhu or His followers also send the Vaisnava to this world to help and change the jivas. As all of you previously heard, Srila Puri Gosvami Maharaja appeared in a Brahmin family. During Srila Prabhupada Sarasvati Thakura’s time, the daily Nadia Prakash was published. It carried the news of Vaikuntha—Vaikunthiya-varta. This Dainika Nadia Prakash was printed and distributed everyday. Fortnightly or monthly periodicals were also published. They were not only published in Hindi and Bengali. They were published in Odiya, Tamil, English, and many other languages. Srila Prabhupada had this transcendental literature distributed everywhere in the world. If anyone accepted this message, they would go near Prabhupada and meet him. Thus, they would directly receive their own permanent soul’s service and position.
Srila Puri Gosvami Maharaja came to Mayapura and saw that all the Vaisnavas were praying after Mangala-arati. He asked, “Are you praying for God or for ordinary people?”
Somebody said, “We are praying to God. Our Vaisnava Acaryas have written and instructed us to only pray to God and serve Him for His pleasure.”
“If you are praying to God, then how is the sadhaka getting benefit? An ordinary person has no idea about God. What is helpful for the sadhaka and the living entities? They have no taste to serve God; so how can they please God?” asked Puri Gosvami Maharaja.
His godbrothers told him, “If you have desire, then all the service moods will come near you.”
“Are only our prayers enough to make God happy and pleased? Is there no other way?”
“God will be pleased if you engage in navadha-bhakti. This is the proper way to please God.”
Then Srila Puri Maharaja asked, “The conditioned souls have come near Prabhupada and he gave them harinama and mantras. He gave them permission to render service. But how will they realize as they serve? How will they realize if God is accepting their service or not? I am praying during the morning and following all the limbs of bhakti, but how will I understand that I am progressing? How will I realize that God is accepting my service?”
When Srila Puri Gosvami Maharaja discussed this subject with his senior godbrothers, Srila Prabhupada heard everything. Prabhupada called him and said, “You have many questions.”
“Yes Prabhupada. I have questions. How can I understand?” asked Puri Maharaja.
Srila Prabhupada said, “If you have God’s mercy and blessings, you will forget all attachments and relations. You will be one-pointed. If you have a desire, then God will give you good qualities for His happiness and pleasure. If any soul has a desire to understand God, then God will help such a soul. God’s helpers i.e. the Mahabhagavat Guruvarga will also help. The thirty million demigods will help. But you must always be under the guidance of the bhakta (Vaisnava-anugatya).”
“But will one become a devotee by only dressing as such and staying in the temple? By respecting Guru-Vaisnavas, will one become a devotee? How will one become a devotee? How will I become Krsna’s real follower and understand Him?” asked Puri Maharaja.
Then Prabhupada replied, “In Kali-yuga, nama-sankirtana is very important. If one has taste for nama-sankirtana, then everything will be all right. The Gosvamis and Acaryas practiced everything in their lives and then, gave instructions. Mahaprabhu Himself always chanted.”
Srila Puri Gosvami Maharaja then took harinama from Srila Prabhupada Sarasvati Thakura. Even before he started doing his many services, he would complete chanting his 64 rounds. He would have many services during the day. He thought, “All my godbrothers are awake the entire night and chanting. I must also do this. But I feel tired sometimes. Anyhow, I will always pray to Srila Prabhupada.”
Srila Prabhupada told Puri Gosvami Maharaja, “How can you chant properly? You must always chant when you are rendering your services. If you don’t do so, then your service will be karma. You must always chant when you are doing service. If you forget God while doing your service, then you will be bound to your karma. You must always remember Him.”
Srila Puri Maharaja went preaching with the senior devotees to Varanasi, Madras, and Bombay. Srila Prabhupada would send him preaching with the senior devotees. He would do nice kirtana; he would also cook. He was also the in-charge of Prabhupada’s press department. Prabhupada called the press, “Jivanta-mrdanga.” By playing on a mrdanga, the sound produced will only go so far. But the sound of hari-katha will go everywhere by the medium of the books. So, Srila Prabhupada told Srila Puri Maharaja, “You should help the devotees in the press.”
Then Srila Puri Maharaja collected all the hari-katha and instructions of Srila Prabhupada. He would write essays and proofread everything. He took responsibility of the press department. The Bhagavat press of Srila Prabhupada’s was located in Krsna-nagar. The articles would be composed and proofread there. Now offset printing has come. But during the early days, the letters would be manually fixed and ink would be given along with a paper. The paper would then be stepped on. Sometimes, the paper wouldn’t be entirely printed. Then it would be a problem. One copy wouldn’t do—more than a thousand copies were needed. One by one, all the issues would be prepared. Everyone had to work so hard. But, they would work undeterred.
Prabhupada would say, “This service is not for anybody. This service is God’s service. By distributing God’s advice and instructions, all the souls will be engaged in His service because they will read what has been given to them.”
The karmis, jnanis, yogis, and mayavadis would also propagate their ideas and conceptions through the press department. They wouldn’t distribute their books only in Bengal—they distributed their books all over India and out of India as well. During those days, Srila Prabhupada’s hari-katha was collected and compiled in a book called, “Sarasvati Jayasri.” This book had four parts. In these books, Srila Puri Gosvami Maharaja wrote everything regarding Srila Prabhupada. He also detailed Prabhupada’s childhood. Srila Puri Maharaja compiled many books like, “Vaisnava-vijaya, Brahmana-Vaisnava, and Prabhupada Bhagavat-vakya.”
Everyone would go preaching, but Srila Prabhupada gave Srila Puri Maharaja this special service. It is not bad to go preaching but the press service (jivanta-mrdanga) is also important. After the four parts of the Sarasvati Jayasri was completed, Pranavananada Prabhu (Srila Puri Maharaja) continued collecting Prabhupada’s instructions and hari-katha. Prabhupada would himself check all the four parts of the book. He would read and check everything. He would then shower Pranavananda brahmacari (Srila Puri Maharaja), with his abundant blessings.
Srila Prabhupada told him, “How do Guru-Vaisnavas permanently help everyone in this world? They do so in two ways—vapu-vaibhava and vani-vaibhava. They come to this world in a body or structure. But they don’t stay in their body for a long time. Even when they leave their body, their vani (instructions) remains permanently in this world. Their instructions continuously run in this world. If anyone wants to come near Rupa Gosvami or Sanatana Gosvami, then he should come near their books. If they read, hear, touch, or offer their obeisance to the books, then they are directly in the presence of Rupa Gosvami or the Sad-Gosvamis.”
Similarly, Srila Gurudeva is present with all his lectures and classes. If you go near them i.e. if you hear, read, distribute, or glorify his instructions and hari-katha more, then you are not far away from Gurudeva. You are always with Gurudeva. Acarya Ramanuja gave 108 instructions before his disappearance. Similarly, Srila Prabhupada also gave 108 instructions before his disappearance.
Srila Prabhupada said, “I am non-different from my advice.”
Srila Puri Maharaja collected this wealth of Prabhupada’s instructions. He was the prominent helper of the press-seva. After Prabhupada’s departure he came to Srila Parama Gurudeva. Once, Bhakti Dayita Madhava Gosvami Maharaja called him and said, “Will you help me in my preaching services?” He invited Krsnadas Babaji Maharaja and many of his godbrothers.
He told them, “All of you are my senior godbrothers. If all of you help me, then it is possible for me to preach and help the jivas. Otherwise, my own understanding and opinion is not helpful.”
He told Puri Maharaja, “If you come, I will distribute your mercy. Your heart has place for Prabhupada. Please come with me.”
Then Srila Puri Maharaja went preaching with Bhakti Dayita Madhava Maharaja for a long time. He didn’t care for his old age. He would eat once during the dasami (the day before ekadasi). He would observe a nirjala-fast on ekadasi. He would never sleep during the night. Many of Prabhupada’s disciples like Akincana Krsnadas Babaji Maharaja, Srila Puri Maharaja, and other sannyasis would fast the complete day and night. They would never talk. They would only do kirtan, chant harinama, and do parikrama. They would never talk or address anyone.
Srila Puri Maharaja also became the editor of Caitanya Gaudiya Matha’s magazine. He would check everything. He would look into everything and then, recommend the publishing of a certain book. He would chant a minimum of 64 rounds everyday. He would then work in the press. He would also offer many stava-stutis (prayers). He would also go preaching with Pujyapada Madhava Maharaja. Forty-fifty godbrothers would accompany them. Srila Puri Maharaja did not have disciples then. They would do nagar-sankirtana and have hari-katha programs in the evening. They would organize many big programs in Hyderabad, Madras, Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Assam, Bangladesh, and many other places. They would preach non-stop everywhere.
When the devotees would receive many presentations, they would ask, “Maharaja, people give many things.”
Srila Puri Maharaja replied, “Yes. People will give many things to try to bribe and cheat you. But you should not be cheated. You should offer everything at Prabhupada’s lotus feet. Prabhupada will accept everything and he will protect you. Otherwise, preaching will stop if you become attached to one place. The sevakas will take care of a temple; Prabhupada and Mahaprabhu will take care of the temple. But everyone should go to preach in a new place. This is our duty and service. We should not be continuously in one place. If water stops in one place, it will stagnate. Water will be clean when it is flowing all the time.
The sadhu is a Parivrajaka—he doesn’t stay in one place all the time. Many things happen if he preaches everywhere. He should go from one place to another for Prabhupada’s service.”
Srila Puri Maharaja would preach everywhere and he would also always write and edit magazines and books. He would work in the press, and have the articles printed and distributed. During and even after Pujyapada Bhakti Dayita Madhava Gosvami Maharaja’s disappearance, Bhakti Vallabha Tirtha Maharaja respected Puri Maharaja like his own Gurudeva. All the sannyasis would also give him such respect. If any Gaudiya Matha would call Puri Maharaja, he would definitely come. He would never stop himself. When Bhakti Vaibhava Puri Maharaja opened a center in Balesvara, Puri Maharaja came to install the deities. He also came to Siligudi-Assam, when the Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti opened a center there. As we know he also came to Sri Rupa-Sanatana Gaudiya Matha in 1987 for the deity installation ceremony.
Maharaja would say, “It is possible to enter Raganuga-bhakti if your mantra-upasana is strong. Then it will be possible to have anuraga. But first you have to learn and practice yourself. You will have many problems if you don’t respect Bhakti Devi, Ganga Devi, Tulasi Devi, and the Vaisnavas. You will be guilty of Vaisnava-aparadha if you don’t respect the Vaisnavas. You stay in the Dhama, but you don’t offer obeisance to the Dhama. You have no respect. You don’t serve or glorify Tulasi Devi. You don’t understand who Ganga Devi is and who Bhakti Devi is.
Therefore, Mahaprabhu Himself respected all the Vaisnavas, Ganga Devi, Tulasi Devi, and Bhakti Devi. We should be very serious in our lives. The blessings of all these personalities will come to us when we follow the devotional program. They will help us; then we will never disobey the Vaisnavas.”
He stayed in Caitanya Gaudiya Matha for some time during Bhakti Vallabha Tirtha Maharaja’s time. One day, he sent a letter to our Gurudeva in Mathura. Since the letter was in Bengali, Gurudeva had me read the letter to him. In that letter Srila Puri Maharaja said:
“Now I am old and it is not possible for me to go here and there. I have a desire to make a small straw hut in Mayapura. I will stay and serve there. I will be there during the last time of my life. You should help a little.”
Then Maharaja started his preaching. Gurudeva said, “Okay. I am going to Navadvipa and helping.”
Srila Puri Maharaja preached his complete life but he never gave harinama-diksa to anyone up until his old age. At the last moment, he opened a small center in Mayapura. Then he started giving harinama, diksa, babaji-vesa, and sannyasa. Many, many people would come to him. Many qualified people waited eagerly to receive his grace. Now everybody came and then, Maharaja started his preaching by his own self. He started accepting everybody. To accept means to take responsibility. If one doesn’t accept disciples, then he doesn’t have any responsibility. He is free at that time. But if he accepts disciples, then he has a responsibility towards his Gurudeva. He has to take care of his Gurudeva’s mission. This responsibility is very hard to carry out. The guru has to clean, purify, and offer the disciples at God’s lotus feet. God should then accept them. Thus, the Guru should give the proper moods to the disciples. It is not possible in this world for an ordinary person to become a Guru.
There was a big snake lying on the street. Many small ants were biting it and taking its blood and flesh. But the big snake could not move. All the ants were cutting his body and running away with its flesh. So, who is the snake? The snake was an unqualified guru. The guru gave diksa and harinama to many followers, but he could not purify them. Now, he took birth as a snake and his followers took birth as the ants. The snake’s body is poisonous; yet, all the ants were eating him alive. So, if an unqualified guru cheats people and gives them nama-diksa, then the disciples will steal everything of the so-called guru. The disciples will then fight and argue and make a Mahabharata war.
Maharaja stayed for some time in Ambika-kalna near Gaura-Nitai. He would have Gaura-Nitai’s darsana everyday at Gauridas Pandita’s residence. Now also, his asrama is there. Then he came to Jagannatha Puri.
He opened a center and stayed there. Maharaja wrote in an article that “Many people think that I have come to Puri for restoring my health. But I did not come to Puri for this reason. Mahaprabhu stayed in Vipralambha-ksetra (Puri) for eighteen years. Mahaprabhu, and all the Gosvamis like Svarupa Damodara and Ramananda Raya stayed here. Their footsteps are here. Mahaprabhu tasted very deep moods in Gambhira-lila. He tasted Vraja-rasa and Vraja-bhakti. He distributed this Vraja-bhakti. Hence, I came here. It is possible to distribute from here. Srila Prabhupada Sarasvati Thakura appeared here. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura would always speak hari-katha here. Haridas Thakura and all the devotees eternally reside here.”
It was not possible for Srila Puri Maharaja to go for Jagannatha’s darsana. Then many, many pandas and pujaris (priests) of Jagannatha came and took Maharaja on a palanquin. They would respect him so much. They carried Maharaja on the palanquin and took him inside the Jagannatha temple. They would never allow another person on a palanquin. But they took Maharaja for Jagannatha’s darsana. When Maharaja went near Jagannatha, he became absorbed in the moods of Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu. He thought of the moods Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu experienced when They had the darsana of Jagannatha and when They met Him. He cried for Their moods. The pandas brought Maharaja back to the temple after he did parikrama of the temple four times.
After returning Maharaja became completely silent. He didn’t speak to anyone from that day. He was silent for five-six years continuously. But he knew everything. He would chant. He would take some prasada or take nothing at all. Gurudeva went to meet Maharaja in Puri.
Gurudeva told the sevakas, “What are you doing? Maharaja has a desire to go. Why are you stopping him by your requests? Don’t do like this. Maharaja is ready to go.”
The sevakas were crying and catching hold of Maharaja’s feet, they said, “No. You should not go now.”
But Gurudeva said, “No. Don’t argue. You should request Maharaja to continue his service in the eternal world.”
Srila Puri Maharaja then opened his eyes and spoke a little with Gurudeva. Gurudeva told the sevakas, “If any Guru-Vaisnava has a desire to go, then you should not disturb him any longer. Guru-Vaisnavas come by God’s desire and they go by God’s desire. But if they are present among us, then it is our good fortune. We lose or miss everything when they go.”
Whenever Maharaja would give class, especially during his old age, he would speak slowly. His body became like Jagannatha das Babaji Maharaja’s body. Despite his old age, he would speak hari-katha in any place he was invited. He would also install deities in his old age. He wrote many books on pancaratrika-vidhi, bhajana-pranali, diksa, sannyasa, and deity installation. His disciple is publishing many books. Some of them are Bhakti Pramoda Vani-vaibhava, Janmastami-vidhi, Vigraha-pratistha, rasa-lila-tattva, manjari-tattva-nirupana, and many other small books. He is collecting all the teachings of Maharaja and printing them now. They are being distributed now.
Guru-Vaisnavas come from the eternal world to help the jivas. To fulfill Mahaprabhu’s mano-bhista (innermost heart’s desire), Prabhupada Sarasvati Thakura gave all his followers this qualification. We should pray to them and wait for their mercy. Then nobody will go the wrong way. No ordinary mentality will come; a spiritual mentality will come. Spiritual power will come that will make us attracted and inspired to follow spiritual instructions. Then we will never be lost.
We will listen more about Maharaja in the evening class. You may also go to Gopinatha Gaudiya Matha. Pujyapada Bodhayana Maharaja has come to honor the Vyasa-puja ceremony of Srila Puri Gosvami Maharaja. I like that you go hear hari-katha and offer puspanjali. This is good.
Gaura Premanande! Hari Haribol!