spoken on the veranda at the bhajan kutīra of Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara Deva Goswāmī Mahārāja.
We are now assembled in the bhajan-kuṭīra area of our beloved Śrīla Guru Mahārāja Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara Deva Goswāmī Mahārāja. So, needless to mention, this is a very, very holy place, holy pilgrimage site, for the devoted lovers of Their Lordships, all the sincere devotees. Here we can see the inside portion of the bhajan-kuṭīra, and we are just outside of the same bhajan-kuṭīra area. So this is that glorious holy place where Śrīla Guru Mahārāja used to be engaged in Hari kathā, Kṛṣṇa kathā, for hours. The nectars of his Hari kathā just flowed from this holy site for hours, for days, months, years. So this place is naturally imbued with many sweet devotional memories, spiritual memories. So much Kṛṣṇa kathā… and the Kṛṣṇa kathā took place in a reciprocating way, reciprocation between Guru Mahārāja and his Godbrothers, as well as other devotees.
So we’re very fortunate to be assembled in this bhajan-kuṭīra area of His Divine Grace, which is filled with the divine memories of his own personal bhajana. He used to stay absorbed here in chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, and also relishing so many beautiful glorious verses from the scriptures. Sometimes chanting, singing, then relishing the deeper meanings, of many beautiful pastimes of Mahāprabhu, and the Divine Couple. Here, absorbed in the bhajana mood for hours, days, months, years as well as delivering Kṛṣṇa kathā in beautiful, most wonderful ways of presentation.
I was fortunate to become the witness of such Hari kathā spoken in a reciprocating way between Śrīla Guru Mahārāja and many of his stalwart Godbrothers. This is the real ideal place. This is that bhajan-kuṭīra site where real iṣṭha-goṣṭhī took place. The iṣṭha-goṣṭhī which is described by Śrīla Rūpa Goswāmī through the verse,
dadāti pratigṛhṇāti guhyam ākhyāti pṛcchati
bhuṅkte bhojayate caiva ṣaḍ-vidhaṁ prīti lakṣaṇam
[“Offering gifts in charity; accepting gifts in charity; revealing one’s mind in confidence; enquiring confidentially; accepting prasāda; and offering prasāda are the six symptoms of love
shared by one devotee and another.”]
[Śrī Upadeśāmṛta, 4]
shared by one devotee and another.”]
[Śrī Upadeśāmṛta, 4]
That quality of iṣṭha-goṣṭhī, described in this verse took place over here, filled with glories, so much glories.
This is one such noble place where so much nectar of Hari kathā flowed like springs, and then was spread all over the world through many of the good hearted Western devotees. They collected that transcendental honey, that nectar of Hari kathā, in the form of video recordings and audio recordings, and then later on distributed it all over the world.So the glory, mahāt of this place is simply unending, without boundary, because even a small portion of infinite is also infinite.
That is so nicely described in Īśopaniṣad.
oṁ pūrṇam adaḥ pūrṇam idaṁ, pūrṇāt pūrṇam udacyatepūrṇasya pūrṇam ādāya, pūrṇam evāvaśiṣyate
[“The Personality of Godhead is perfect and complete, and because He is completely perfect, all emanations from Him, such as this phenomenal world, are perfectly equipped as complete wholes. Whatever is produced of the complete whole is also complete in itself. Because He is the complete whole, even though so many complete units emanate from Him, He remains the complete balance.”] [Śrī Īśopaniṣad – Invocation]
So many of Guru Mahārāja’s dear disciples such as Śrīla Bhakti Sundar Govinda Goswāmī Mahārāja, Śrīmatī Kṛṣṇamayi Devī, Śrīpād Aranya Mahārāja, myself, Śrīpād Giri Mahārāja, Jahnava Devī and many other good hearted devotees all over the world were the eye witnesses of what I have just spoken. Eye witness and heart witness, to be absorbed in hearing nectar of Hari kathā. Sitting in this place, the side veranda, or that eastern zone of Guru Mahārāja’s bhajan-kuṭīra for hours with so much joy and bliss. One can look at this place so full of memories as if it happened the other day. Guru Mahārāja used to be sitting here and I used to be sitting right close to his lotus feet, speaking to Guru Maharaja, a wonderfully affectionate loving spiritual father. So many personal talks were given in an informal way, with myself and Śrīla Govinda Mahārāja, and many other great souls.
This bhajan-kuṭīra was built up later, but the original bhajan-kuṭīra of Śrīla Guru Maharaja – both are original – but the initial bhajan-kuṭīr a of Guru Mahārāja actually started in this site but downstairs.
In the beginning of Caitanya Sāraswat Maṭh when Guru Mahārāja first came over here, practically this area was forest – Tapovanam. The environment of this whole area of Caitanya Sāraswat Maṭh what we see, was practically semi forest. What kind of forest? Filled with so many trees, fruit trees, flower trees, herbs, birds, and some wild animals. This way, Tapovanam… And Guru Mahārāja chose this forest, to begin his glorious mission, Śrī Caitanya Sāraswat Maṭh. I cannot say Caitanya Sāraswat Maṭh manifested later on, but from the beginning, this Caitanya Sāraswat Maṭh began from that time onward.
In this holy land, aparādha-bhañjana-pāṭ, in this Koladwīpa, Guru Mahārāja chose to start his glorious mission, explaining to us:
“All the conditioned jīva souls, the sādhaka devotees, sometimes are prone to make offences, knowingly, unknowingly that’s why they need help. So I want to start my mission in that part of Navadwīpa Dhāma which is famously known as aparādha-bhañjana-pāṭ – where all the offences done knowingly or unknowingly become easily forgiven by the special grant of the mercy of Gaura-Nityānanda, Gadādhara, Pañca Tattva, Gaura-līlā.”
This island is specifically recognised as the saviour of all, from all offences, saviour of sins. This island of Navadwīpa Dhāma is specially empowered with that merciful grant. It is patita-pāvana, and has saviour’s quality. So Guru Mahārāja preferred to start his new mission, or discover his ever old mission, Caitanya Sāraswat Maṭh over here.
So in the beginning Śrīla Guru Mahārāja started with just a thatched bhajan-kuṭīra, very simple mud house, with a straw roof made on the top, and some pieces of bamboo to create the structure in a strong way. Bamboos supported the mud walls and held up the roof made of mostly rice straws and wheat straws and of course the floor was just natural, smooth mud. And Śrīla Guru Mahārāja began to absorb himself in his bhajana, in that bhajan-kuṭīra, only with one Girirāja-Śilā, beautiful Girirāja. He engaged daily in worship of Girirāja Govardhana and was absorbed in chanting lākhs and lākhs of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra on his beads. Besides that he was absorbed in writing books. The great books like Prapanna-jīvanāmṛtam began in that original, old bhajan-kuṭīra. So beautiful… He used to remain absorbed in Girirāja sevā for hours, then chanting his rounds, relishing wonderful verses from the holy scriptures in his own personal way, and also engaged in writing the book Prapanna-jīvanāmṛtam. Premadhāma was composed later on, in this bhajan-kuṭīra, but Prapanna– jīvanāmṛtam was the first book started, in initial bhajan-kuṭīra, downstairs.
So, that’s how this Caitanya Sāraswat Maṭh and Śrīla Guru Mahārāja’s life of bhajana began on this spot of Navadwīpa Dhāma, in this Koladwīpa, after the disappearance of his great, glorious Gurudeva, our Param Gurudeva, His Divine Grace Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Saraswatī Goswāmī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda.Then, slowly and steadily, many of the local people came to understand, a great mahātmā is staying here in this forest, in disguise. They felt attracted to come to Śrīla Guru Mahārāja. Gradually some good hearted local people gathered around Guru Mahārāja, and eventually many of them became his initiated disciples, and started helping him and his mission. Previously, after externally coming out of Śrī Caitanya Maṭh, his Gurudev’s Mission, Śrīla Guru Mahārāja had a view to start some independent Mission with full freedom of affectionately spreading Mahāprabhu’s message of Divine Kṛṣṇa prema, His life and precepts, everywhere. So he came across the Gaṅgā, and then both the exalted Godbrothers, Śrīla Guru Mahārāja and Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Goswāmī, began to stay in Devānanda Gauḍīya Maṭh area for a while, together. Then Śrīla Guru Mahārāja started his preaching work, Hari kathā preaching in the Tegharipara area, where Kṛṣṇamayi’s residence was. And he also gave Bhāgavatam class in the Manipur Rāja Bari, for more than a month, and also in another place of Tegharipara, Gopāler Ma Bari which was the residence of a good lady, mother of Gopāla Bhaṭṭācārya, one of Śrīla Guru Mahārāja’s biological relatives. That family, a Bhaṭṭācārya brāhmaṇa family also hosted Śrīla Guru Mahārāja for giving Bhāgavatam class for quite some time. Thereafter, Guru Mahārāja started looking for a place for his bhajan-kuṭīra, or mission, and chose this place, which was practically a kind of jungle area, forest area.. At that time he did not even have to buy any land – in those days there was not so much legal restriction. A sādhu could just come and pick their bhajan-kuṭīra in a place without money, so he just came over and selected a spot here and started building his bhajan-kuṭīra. Nobody gave any objection because it was understood that Tapovana, forest land, is meant for the sādhus, for the renounced persons. Whoever owned the land also didn’t mind at all. He did not consider, “Why is this sādhu encroaching my land, and building his bhajan-kuṭīra, why he should stay without buying it from me?” Nobody thinks like that. This is Indian culture, respectable Vedic Indian culture.So Guru Mahārāja first started building his bhajan-kuṭīra without buying anything, just on his own accord.
Then at some point, Śakhī Bābu, a salt merchant, rich business man, who had also given great financial help to his Guru’s Mission, Śrīla Saraswatī Goswāmī Ṭhākura’s Mission, came over, looking for Śrīla Guru Mahārāja, a stalwart beloved disciple of Śrīla Saraswatī Goswāmī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda, his Godbrother. “Disappeared, where?” Devotees were desperately looking for Śrīla Guru Mahārāja, “Where he went?” Previously they knew that they were together in Devānanda Gauḍīya Maṭh area, together with Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Goswāmī Mahārāja. Then after that nobody knew. Guru Mahārāja came here in a confidential way, with an idea of, “Nobody should know where I am, I just want to be away from all distractions, name, fame, and spiritual social engagement.” His mind and his heart were in the mood, “I just want to absorb in bhajana peacefully and write books without any sort of distraction from outside.”So, that was how the first bhajan-kuṭīra started here. Later on as Śakhī Charaṇ, or Śakhī Bābu, started desperately looking for Guru Mahārāja, and then somehow or other he came to know where he was, because how long could a personality like Guru Mahārāja remain hidden. Guru Mahārāja gave Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam classes in Manipur Raja Bari, Tegharipara, so one way or another they got they got information, “Some mahātmā just came over and made a bhajan-kuṭīra, engaging in bhajan in this place.” They wondered, “Who is that mahātmā?” So one day Śakhī Bābu, accompanied by some other Godbrothers, came over to this place to have darśana of that mahātmā, and found exactly whom they’re looking for, Śrīla Guru Mahārāja, their dearly respected Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja, over here.
And they became very emotional. Śrīla Guru Mahārāja and they all became emotional to meet each other, to see each other after long time. And as Śakhī Charaṇ Prabhu looked around this area, and he came to know of Guru Mahārāja’s special liking for this place to start his new mission, he immediately decided then and there to buy this whole area of the land for Śrīla Guru Mahārāja’s mission. He immediately promised this to Guru Mahārāja and Guru Mahārāja liked his mood and lovingly appreciated. And he bought the whole area of this land very soon after that.Thereafter, Śrīpād Saurendranath Bhakti Bhāratī Prabhu, another stalwart disciple of Śrīla Saraswatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda, a very loving, dearly respected Godbrother of Śrīla Guru Mahārāja, also helped Śrīla Guru Mahārāja in the initial stages of his mission a lot, financially, as well as through making some necessary arrangements to support Guru Mahārāja’s mission. Śakhī Charaṇ, Dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, later on Pūjāpāda Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Goswāmī Mahārāja, Pūjāpāda Bhakti Dayita Mādhava Goswāmī Mahārāja, Pūjāpāda Śrīla Bhakti Saranga Goswāmī Mahārāja, all such exalted Vaiṣṇava servitors, also Paramahaṁsa Mahārāja, Śrīla Bhakti Vicar Yajavara Goswāmī Mahārāja and Śrīla Bhakti Kamal Madhusūdana Mahārāja, all came to help Guru Mahārāja as he needed, according to their abilities. And it was at that time that Śrīla Guru Mahārāja could feel and foresee one great glorious mission would manifest from this place. And having that inspiration he wrote that most wonderful verse, describing the future vision of Caitanya Sāraswat Maṭh. You can find that verse in the book Prapanna-jīvanāmṛtam.
śrīmac-caitanya-sārasvata-maṭhavara-udgīta-kīrtir jaya-śrīmbibhrat sambhāti gaṅgā-taṭa-nikaṭa-navadvīpa-kolādri-rājeyatra śrī-gaura-sārasvata-mata-niratā-gaura-gāthā gṛnantiśrīmad-rūpānuga śrī-kṛtamati-guru-gaurāṅga-rādhā-jitāśā
[“On the banks of the Ganges in Koladwīpa, Nabadwipa, Śrī Caitanya Sāraswat Maṭh stands resplendent. The flag flies high, singing its glories around the world. There, the residents chant the glories of Lord Gaurāṅga and aspire to serve Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Govinda in the line of Śrī Rūpa.”]
So that beautiful gaṅgā-taṭa verse he wrote because he could foresee how this would manifest. His vision became realised later on in the form of the beautiful Śrī Caitanya Sāraswat Maṭh, in a gradual but steady way. First this beautiful temple, and this bhajan-kuṭīra, both these buildings were manifested side by side. I can remember from my childhood that there was no Natha Mandir in front of the temple, only this wonderful temple was standing and in front of the temple was a beautiful long green lawn, adding to the natural beauty.
Śrīla Guru Mahārāja felt that his mission became non-different from his Guru’s original mission, Śrī Caitanya Maṭh and he was so dedicated and devoted to his own Gurupāda Pādma that he made a little exception in creating the name of his mission. Instead of Gauḍīya Maṭh he gave the name Śrī Caitanya Sāraswat Maṭh. He understood that Gauḍīya is implied, wherever there is Saraswatī Ṭhākura, Gauḍīya ideas and principles and that transcendental Gauḍīya stream of loving devotion, always understood in a self evident way. “I don’t need to put that name Gauḍīya in a separate way. It is well understood.” So he preferred to give the name for his mission, Śrī Caitanya Sāraswat Maṭh – Śrī Caitanya Sāraswat Gauḍīya Maṭh would be too long. The Maṭh representing the combined dhara, the flow, the siddhānta, ideals and pure devotion. Kṛṣṇa Caitanya Mahāprabhu is coming down to Saraswatī Goswāmī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda., and he realised that wherever there is the combination of both, everything is there.
Full, pure rūpānuga-dhara all included within – Śrī Caitanya Sāraswat dhara, bhakti-dhara, siddhānta-dhara, divya-prema-dhara, divya- rūpānuga-dhara. In the beginning at that mud house bhajan-kuṭīra Guru Mahārāja had to clear the place, wiping the mud floor, mixed with a little cow dung every day. He had to dig out and clean the stacks of earth made by termites almost every day, and clear out the earthworms. It was their playground in some way. Guru Mahārāja had to keep the floor clean, and especially around Girirāja, Whom he installed in a nice natural made throne. He continued to be absorbed in the loving worship of Girirāja daily and offered his cooked bhoga, for Girirāja’s enjoyment. Absorbed in chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantram without limits, besides engaged in writing Prapanna-jīvanāmṛtam. In this way he spent his initial days of his life here.
Then as the devotees came to know that he had already started his mission over here, not only his Godbrothers but also other good hearted people from this locality and from different parts of Navadwīpa and Māyāpur started gathering to have his darśana. So he could not remain hidden any more. What he intended in the beginning, staying in a disguised, hidden way, did not last for long,Guru Mahārāja also accepted that opportunity as more devotees came to see him and his new bhajan-kuṭīra. He took it as a great chance to speak Hari kathā to them, thereby bestowing all benedictions on them, by engaging them in listening to Hari kathā.He would also enjoy the natural bird songs, right here in Tapovana environment, which was filled with flowers and fruits, naturally growing in this place. Guru Mahārāja would simply collect them and offer in the bhoga of Girirāja. Then slowly he engaged a few local people to create a nice flower garden, a natural way to get more flowers for offering to Girirāja, to make garlands for Girirāja and to offer more during the time of arcana. This way, slowly he began to organise this place more.At some point he also called for some of his dear, close disciples to come over, and settle around this Maṭh so that he could receive help from them.
Previously these good hearted fortunate persons came over and took initiation from Guru Mahārāja, but because of their social obligations they went back to their own homes and places of job. Then at some point Guru Mahārāja called them and gave them one special order. He chose some of the families, families of my maternal grandparents, and also his second brother, all initiated disciples, and, gave both of them a place to settle inside the temple compound so that he could receive assistance from them whenever needed. Then, gradually, in course of time some more disciples came, and Caitanya Sāraswat Maṭh started developing. At some point some donations, lakṣmī also started coming. Then this place was reorganised and there was a planning for building this beautiful temple. So Caitanya Sāraswat Maṭh as an organised institution became running at that point.
Śrīmatī Kṛṣṇamayi Devī made a major financial contribution to build up this beautiful temple. We heard she donated around twenty two thousand rupees around that time, approximately seventy-five years ago.[which was a huge amount at that time]Later on also, many other devotees came forward to make some contribution to build up this temple, and the bhoga mandap. At that time many lady donors, as well as male donors, came forward, and Śrīla Guru Mahārāja also gave them a lifelong place, inside his temple. He already had a big area of the land, so that was given for the bhajan-kuṭīras of Kṛṣṇamayi Devī, Dharma Devī, Govinda Mahārāja’s mother, Rāma Devī, Guru Mahārāja’s own sister-cum-disciple and his other lady disciples. They were all Guru Mahārāja’s disciples.
So they built up their own residences with their own money on the land was given to them for free, and after they departed from this world, all stayed belonging to Caitanya Sāraswat Maṭh, naturally. So, in the history of the creation and development of Caitanya Sāraswat Maṭh, along with male devotees, many wonderful lady devotees, disciples of Guru Mahārāja had contributed. The brahmacārīs and sannyāsīs were staying in the main area, downstairs, mainly in the bhajan-kuṭīra building. And they managed nicely. Whatever accommodation was available, they would happily manage together, sharing the same room and facilities. Of course his Godbrothers also helped Guru Mahārāja sometimes.
For example, when the structure of the Natha Mandira was complete, rooms were built but not fully finished with the plastering and the painting, but usable, at that time Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Swāmī Mahārāja came here for a visit. He wanted a secluded room, like bhajan-kuṭīra, and since no other rooms were available, he was given a room in the corner of the Natha Mandira. He loved to stay at that room, very small room like bhajan-kuṭīra, with attached bathroom facilities, and it was very close to Śrīla Guru Mahārāja’s bhajan-kuṭīra so at any time they could easily go to see each other. Then Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Swāmī Mahārāja expressed the desire to finish this Natha Mandira. Whatever cost will be required, he was prepared to bear that, the rest of the expenditure. And that’s what he did, he ordered his disciples immediately, “You take care of Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja’s Natha Mandira.” And his disciples carried that out, following their Gurudeva’s order. Guru Mahārāja used to send me to ISKCON to collect lakṣmī for the Natha Mandira on behalf of Guru Mahārāja, as his representative. So ISKCON made the last contribution, by the order of their Guru, to finish this Natha Mandira. Later on, that same room where Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Swāmī Mahārāja had stayed was given to me. So, when building started for the current bhajan-kuṭīra, and the ground floor was completed, Guru Mahārāja stayed there, downstairs. There were three rooms, so sometimes he stayed in one side room, and sometimes the middle room. Then at some point the upper portion was built up and Guru Mahārāja moved upstairs.
transcribed by Paramananda
dasaedited by Kundalata dasi