Dec 19, 2013 CANADA (SUN) A serial presentation of the life and pastimes of our illustrious Sampradaya Acaraya.
The Charming Garden of Svananda-sukhada-kunja
In 1898, when Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura was staying in Godrumadvipa, just after the garden of Svananda-sukhada-kunja had been built, he first met his spiritual master, Srila Gaurakisora. One day, humbly following the direct instruction of Srimati Radharani, and chanting in a sad voice, Srila Gaurakisora, the chief of the followers of Srila Rupa Gosvami, arrived in the beautiful garden of Svananda-sukhada-kunja. This transcendental crown jewel of the renounced order was wearing a tigerskin cap and carrying a basket containing various paraphernalia used in his personal bhajana.
Srila Gaurakisora had previously received the basket and cap from his spiritual master, Srila Bhagavata dasa babaji, in Kalana. After his arrival, he offered Srila Bhaktisiddhanta four or five sets of Tulasi beads, a wooden stamp with the words "Hare Krsna", the tigerskin cap, and his other personal items which he used when worshipping. In January, 1900, Srila Gaurakisora initiated Srila Bhaktisiddhanta in Svananda-sukhada kunja.
The great devotee, Srila Gaurakisora, often came to the garden Svananda-sukhada-kunja to hear Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura's explanations of the Srimad Bhagavatam. He usually arrived at around three o'clock in the afternoon and left at five. On several occasions he spent the night in a corner of the garden in a small hut, and sometimes he would stay at Pradyumna-kunja in Bardhaman at the home of Sri Ksetranatha Bhaktinidhi and Sri Bipina Bihari Bhaktiratna. Cattopadhyaya Bhakti Bhrnga would also regularly come to Navadvipa to hear Srila Bhaktivinoka's lectures. Sometimes Srila Gaurakisora honored prasadam from Svananda-sukhada-kunja and sometimes he fasted, while other times he cooked for himself. Sometimes he acted as if he was afflicted by a disease called 'siroroga', insanity and blindness. Srila Bhaktivinoda arranged a proper diet for him, but to his dismay, Babaji Maharaja continued to remain couched in a grave mood of renunciation, refusing to pay any attention to the diet.
By 1908 Srila Gaurakisora had seemingly lost his external vision. The following year he stopped travelling and decided to reside in a bamboo hut in Navadvipa for performing his solitary bhajana. Srila Gaurakisora would live in Pradyumna kunja, which was previously owned by Saratcandra Vasu of South Calcutta, and from there, visit or stay at Svananda-sukhada-kunja, where he would remember the Lord's holy names in solitary worship. Being free from gross physical consciousness, Srila Gaurakisora often failed to recognize whether he was dressed or not. Thus, he often went unclothed to bathe at the Sarasvati River. After bathing, he would enter his small bhajana kuthira and begin calling the cowherd maidens of Vrndavana in a deep voice.
Calcutta, the World of Illusion
While Srila Gaurakisora was enacting his divine pastimes as if his eyesight were becoming weak, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta asked him to go to Calcutta for proper medical treatment. Srila Bhaktivinoda also requested him many times to go there, but Srila Gaurakisora said, "I will never go to the world of 'maya', Calcutta." Srila Bhaktivinoda then assured him that his servant, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, would remain there with him in Calcutta so he would undergo no inconveniences. Upon hearing this, Srila Gaurakisora answered, "I will never accept his service. I will first drown myself in the Ganges River. If I drown myself, maybe I can take birth as a ghost." Srila Gaurakisora stood up and began to quickly run towards the Sarasvati River which flowed in front of Svananda-sukhada-kunja. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, running behind him, humbly requested again and again that he come back, but he disappeared and was neither seen nor heard from for forty-five days.
Then suddenly, he arrived one day and said, "By committing suicide I will not attain to the lotus feet of Lord Krsna. Nevertheless, I cannot tolerate anyone directly serving me." Although requested hundreds of times to accept medicine, Srila Gaurakisora never consented. He always strictly followed Ekadasi without accepting even water. On days other than Ekadasi, he would often eat mud from the banks of the Ganges River, or cracked rice with dried peppers soaked in Ganges water. Because his renunciation was genuine, it gave pleasure to the Supreme Lord.
From 1903-1904, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta lived in Mayapura at the present day Yoga-Pitha, where the Adhoksaja Visnu Deity was uncovered when the construction of the Sri Caitanya Matha began. At that time the Yoga-Pitha was known as Kanthala-tala. Srila Gaurakisora would often spend much of his time there. This period serves as an unprecedented chapter in the world of pure devotion as exemplified by the unique relationship shared by the spiritual master Srila Gaurakisora and his disciple, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta. Although apparently blind, Babaji Maharaja once arrived alone at Sri Mayapura at the Yoga-Pitha at two o'clock in the morning. Later that morning, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, amazed to see his spiritual master, inquired, "When did you arrive, Gurudeva?" Babaji Maharaja replied, "I arrived at about two this morning." Astonished, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta asked, "Who brought you here last night? How did you find someone to show you the path?" Srila Gaurakisora replied, "Oh, someone showed me the proper way." Srila Bhaktisiddhanta then said, "Externally, you appear to be blind. If someone had not brought you that long distance by hand, then how could you have come? Was it Krsna who brought you here last night?"
Hearing this, Babaji Maharaja could only smile. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, sharing an internal relationship with his spiritual master, realized the purport of this exchange. In those days there were no footpaths to walk from Kuliya to Mayapura and no landing places for a boat. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta again inquired, "Who could have brought you across the river in the dead of night?" Srila Gaurakisora, in the same amused way, said, "One person took me across the river." His disciple then realized that the person was none other than Lord Krsna, the son of Nanda Maharaja.
The Sri Brhadbhagavatamrtam Lecture
Once, for the entire month of Vaisakha, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta explained the 'Sri Brhadbhagavatamrtam' of Srila Sanatana Gosvami at the Yoga Pitha. Srila Gaurakisora and Sri Yukta Ksetranatha Sarakara Bhaktinidhi attended.
The Genuine and Imitation Bhajananandi
While Srila Gaurakisora was residing at a dharmsala in the village of Kuliya, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta came and asked him many questions regarding the residents of Vrndavana and the various devotees who were performing solitary worship there. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta especially asked about the famous solitary worshippers who were considered to be perfectly realized souls in the estimation of the general public. Srila Gaurakisora laughed again and again at his query, and said," They are all impostors."
One babaji residing at Kusuma-Sarovara was renowned as a great bhajananandi. In addition, he even had one or two disciples who were reputed to be perfectly realized devotees. But Srila Gaurakisora did not even slightly recognize them as genuine babajis. After some time, the so-called exalted soul in Kusuma-Sarovara became afflicted with leprosy of the throat and died after extreme suffering. He lived in the holy dhama, but his behavior was offensive toward Srila Gaurakisora because his mind was bent on sense enjoyment.
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