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His Divine Anger

One time Guru Maharaj (Srila Bhakti Dayita Madhava Goswami Maharaj), Gauranga Prabhu, and Tirtha Maharaj visited the appearance place of Srila Prabhupada in Puri Dham to pay obeisances. Suresh Prabhu and I were also present then. All of us took darshan, paid obeisances and were about to leave.

There was a tenant named Narayan Sahu who occupied 3-4 rooms upstairs. He used to sell pakoras (a type of fried food) that contained onion. In order to insult Guru Maharaj, he began to plead with him in Oriya language to accept pakoras from a poor man like him.

Guru Maharaj smiled and said, “Narayan Sahu knows very well that we don’t eat onions so we can’t accept it.”

But Narayan Sahu continued to plead. When he repeated the third time, Srila Tirtha Maharaj got very angry and his eyes became wide and turned fiery. He shrieked and chided that person. Whosoever was present got scared on seeing his fearful form. Foam was coming out from his mouth on both sides and his entire form became fearful li…

His Meeting with a Catholic Priest in London

On the morning of Monday, June 26, 2002, Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Gosvami Maharaj had a meeting with Father Alfred Agius, a Catholic (Jesuit) priest, who served as head of the Westminster Interfaith group, which encompassed greater London. This meeting was intimate, with only Maharaj, Father Agius, and a few other devotees present.

After exchanging introductions, Father Agius showed the devotees a number of nice publications he had assembled for the Westminster Interfaith group, demonstrating his sincere dedication to presenting religious perspectives from various faiths. After perusing these materials for some time, Maharaj engaged in conversation with Father Agius.

He explained the vital difference between the idea of the modern 'caste system', which is based upon birth, and the varnasrama system, which is based upon the character of a person. He showed how the varnasrama system is a natural thing.

He said, "If someone has the tendency to worship and study scripture…

Remembering Affectionate Exchanges Beyond this Lifetime

This morning, at around 9.30 AM, while Srila Gurudev was taking his breakfast, I conveyed the heartbreaking message of Parampujyapad Srila Narayan Maharaj's departure from this world. As soon as he heard, he was shocked.

"Left the body?" His mouth wide open in shock. He paused for a while and again said, "He left the body? I was informed that his health has improved. Is it not?"

I said that there was an improvement after what he had heard about Srila Narayana Maharaj's serious health trouble in October but that he left the body at about 3.00 AM today.

Srila Gurudev then said, “Everyone has to leave one day. Anytime anything can happen. This cause, that cause is just instrumental.”

He took his next spoon of breakfast and said, "He roamed a lot outside India even at his advanced age. What is good is that he left his body in India and that too in a Dham."

After a while, he asked about the Samadhi – when and where. I said it would be tomorrow in Navadvip.…

Surrendering to the Divine Professor

I came to Srila Gurudev Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Goswami Maharaj after becoming his first non-Indian full-time disciple initiated in 1995 at Sridham Vrindavan on Baladev Purnima at the end of the Radha-Govinda Jhulan Yatra Festival of Sree Chaitanya Gaudiya Math.

On my second trip to India in 1996, I approached him at this time with the idea to study Sanskrit. Gurudev replied, "You did not come to me, you came to learn something."

It meant I came with the desire not to serve the Guru but to learn something for myself. I clearly understood that Gurudev gave me a choice: to be an independent scholar in Sanskrit or to be his fully dedicated disciple.

I still insisted on studies anyway. Gurudev agreed with my desire and allowed me to live in Calcutta Math while I was attending Calcutta Sanskrit College, the same college where Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati studied 100 years before. A professor of Sanskrit there asked me, “What did you want to learn? We spent a lifetime i…

He Will Go, But He Will Not Go

One day Guru Maharaj suddenly got very restless and started saying, I have to go to Goalpara, I have to go to Goalpara! So Prasad Prabhu asked me to please explain to Gurudev that I think it's not right for him to travel at this point of time. "Why don't you wait?" I asked.

Very sweetly Guru Maharaj agreed, but when I went out, he started saying the same thing again– I have to go to Goalpara, I have to go to Goalpara!

That night, I had a dream of Guru Maharaj. I saw my childhood school where I studied until standard six. I saw the assembly area of that school and Guru Maharaj was lying there, lying so very still. I went there and put his head on my lap and asked, "What is happening? Why are you lying here?"

He told me, “I am going. I will go, but I will not go.” It didn't make any sense at that time to me.

The next day, I came to know that he forced everybody to go to Goalpara. Prahlad Prabhu informed me after some days that Guru Maharaj had become unw…

Understanding His Wellness is Beyond Medical Science

During those days when Guru Maharaj was becoming restlessness, he decided he will go to Goalpara. At that time, he would stay awake all night and wouldn't sleep most of the time. He wasn’t particularly very well from a doctor’s point of view, so we decided to take him for a one-day check-up.

I was standing at the entrance to the hospital and Guru Maharaj came with 4-5 people in his vehicle. He got down with a big smile on his face didn’t look at all like he was sick. Later he went into a ward where he could sit and wait until the rest of the things for the tests were arranged.

I learned later that he was told he was being taken to my house as my guest–the big, big hospital, otherwise, he would not have agreed to go. When they started injections and drawing blood, he immediately said, I will go back, I will go back! It was also difficult to get him into the MRI.

He came out and said, let’s go back to the math. From then on, when he felt a little unwell, we tried to see and underst…

Planting a Seed of Bhakti in His Doctor's Heart

I met Srila Gurudev in 2010 through a very long, circuitous network of phone calls and recommendations. When I first came to see Guru Maharaj, he was in his room downstairs in Kolkata. When I saw him for the first time, the main thing that struck me was what a childlike and innocent face he had, not that of a grumpy sadhu. We usually get a feeling when we meet sadhus that they are very serious persons, and we maintain distance. But he was very soft-spoken, smiling, and talked very slowly.

On that first visit, I gave him some medication and then left. Some months passed before I was to return. I was unfamiliar with that part of Kolkata and got lost on the way. After I became familiar with how to reach, I came more often whenever Guruji called.

On one of those visits, Guru Maharaj told his personal attendant to give me the book Affectionately Yours. Previously I had absolutely no idea of Vaisnava Philosophy. My family was associated with Ramakrishna Mission and worshippers of Kali Ma, l…

His Kirtan Transcends Time and Space

Words cannot begin to describe the immense good fortune I had to host a kirtan event for Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Goswami Maharaj at an ashram I was staying at in Hawaii. It was a kirtan to end all kirtans!

The divine atmosphere in his presence was full of sweetness. My heart was experiencing a dawning of nectar in his more than divine association. Adding to this surcharged atmosphere was the chanting of Bhutabhavan prabhu, his kindhearted disciple whose voice emulated a purity that was more than delightful, and a soulful resonance that was deeply soul-stirring.

As the evening went on, I felt like we were literally transported into a transcendental realm of incredible bliss, a sweetness beyond human conception – as if we were swimming in a vast ocean of pure honey-like bliss, an immersion that was manifesting due to his inconceivable holy presence; literally opening up the flood gates of the transcendental world of Goloka Vrindavan that was manifesting in this dimension. To say tha…

His Continuous Desire to Engage Us in Sankirtan

After most revered Gurudev was hospitalized on November 28, 2013, He engaged many fortunate devotees in a very intimate mood of loving devotional service. There should not be any trace of doubt that the illness pastimes of Guruji are meant only to give service opportunity to all His dear and sincere disciples.
Many disciples approached His Divine Grace in the past asking Him how He will be pleased and how He could be served. Srila Gurudev's answer was always, "This human birth is very rare. You should worship Supreme Lord from the core of your heart." He would point his fingers at the heart. 

When Guruji was on the hospital bed, He exhibited the pastimes of speaking very few words of this material world, yet His bodily actions and gestures in response to kirtans conveyed meaning. We observed him consistently patting His right hand at the place where the heart is located. This only reiterated, "Chant from the core of your heart." 
On the 3rd Dec, 2013 devotees perf…

His Divine Presence Transforms a Hospital Into a Tirtha

We got the message that Gurudev is performing the pastimes of illness, whoever wants darsan should go to Guwahati.  I was in the office. The next day morning we took a flight, six of us travelled from Pune to Guwahati the next morning. 

In the afternoon we arrived in Guwahati and went straight to the hospital, GNRC. We had darsan of Gurudev from very far as he lay inside the room. That time he was fully unconscious. We had gotten the message from the sevak team that the situation was very serious.  
Gurudev was on the fourth floor initially. We came back and there was a hall nearby the hospital where devotees would just sit and have conversation.  The only topic of conversation was centered around Gurudev. Everyone's attention was on the floor where Gurudev was–that was the point from where the soul of that environment existed, the soul of the hospital. There was not even a single time I felt that I am visiting a hospital.  It was an environment like the math.

Everybody was concerned…

His Special Arrangement for Diksa

During my first visit to India in 2008, I happily took Harinam initiation from Srila Gurudeva in Mayapur-dham. Some senior devotees urged me to immediately take diksa then also. I didn’t really understand the reasons to take diksa, and also felt unqualified to even ask for it. 

Nevertheless, I went to Srila Gurudeva and asked. He gravely inquired why I wanted it, and feeling a little bit conscience-stricken to ask so soon after having received Harinama initiation, I replied that the devotees urged me to take it. Srila Gurudeva then told me to do some devotional practice first. 

After that, I went back to the Netherlands and started, according to my limited capability, and despite my manifold drawbacks and anarthas, to perform devotional practice with a bit more intensity than before. Even though I felt my efforts were inadequate, by Srila Gurudeva's blessings, I was able to attend the Navadvipa-dhama parikrama of 2009. It was a purifying and auspicious time. I went again to Srila Gu…

He Will Award More and More Service

Sometimes Guruji would call me and make me sit in front of him. He would tell many stories about his childhood, or sometimes he used to speak about Param Gurudev.

One day I asked Guru Maharaj, how do I know if Gurudev, Bhagavan, or Vaisnavas are pleased with my activities? Bhagavan never comes and says, I am pleased with your services, and Vaisnavas also do not. Guru Maharaj gave a very very simple answer to that.

He said, there is only a very simple formula: if the object of our worship is pleased with our service, then he will award more and more service. If you are getting more service, and if you are also feeling blissful by getting that service, then you will know that Guru, Vaisnav, and Bhagavan are pleased with your service.

How much inclination you are getting to perform chanting, to perform circumambulation of the temple--the more you are getting an inclination to perform these activities, the more you can understand that Guru, Vaiṣṇav, and Bhagavan are pleased with these ac…

The Ever-Increasing Bliss in His Association

Now someone may look at Gurudeva and think he’s a old and sick man. No! If you can see him, then you can see he is not an old and sick man; he looks very beautiful. In the whole world, you cannot find anyone like this. Each interaction with him I felt was the best, entirely fulfilling, and it could not be better than that.

His realized logical explanations, his kirtans, his Hari-katha, his care for us, his beauty, all these things – every time, you would feel that it could not get better than that, but still, it would be better next time and again better next time – beyond all our expectations. 

So, by Guru Maharaja’s mercy, I could understand, I could directly see that his qualities are unlimited; you can never finish that. Not that you can think, "Now I know Guru Maharaja." Next time I would meet him, it would be a new higher experience, ever increasing.

For our benefit, to teach us by example, most of the times Guru Maharaja would express himself as “I am conditioned soul, I…

His First Meetings with Gurudeva

Our Radha Mohan Prabhu was clerk to my uncle who was an advocate (lawyer). When Guruji stayed at his (Radha Mohan Prabhu's) house, I wanted to see him. Sri Radha Mohan Prabhu said, "Guruji is a great saint. Because we worship Radha Krishna and Mahaprabhu at house, all devotees like us. So he is in our house. We also do not eat items that are not offered."

So, I went to see Gurudeva. Along with me was my college friend. I listened to Guruji speak there. I did not understand anything that Gurudev spoke. The language (philosophy) was totally new to me. Now I use those words, but at that time I did not know that terminology.

I used to wear shoes and have hair on my head. I was a student then. Listening to Gurudeva, I only understood that he is a Krishna Bhakta. I thought, I want Krishna Bhakti, so I'll go. I did not understand anything more than that.
Wherever Gurudev went, I followed him. After a few days, Gurudev was supposed to go to another village and a river was ne…

His Exalted Perspective is All-Embracing

In 2002, Guru Maharaj led Braja Mandala Parikrama. We went to Raman Reti in Gokul Mahavan, one of the twelve forests in Braj. Reti means sand, and raman means pleasure– together it means pleasure giving sand. Krishna and Balaram along with other cowherd boys, (sakhas) performed leisurely plays in this place during their childhood. Today that particular land is being taken care nicely by a mayavadi ashram. They serve prasad free of cost to all the pilgrims.

Upon our arrival there, Guru Maharaj spoke the glories of that place. He said that that was the place where Krishna and Balaram performed many playful pastimes. Therefore, nobody should be morose there– everyone should be laughing and smiling. Guru Maharaj was very blissful there. He laughed very sweetly and made all of us laugh loudly also.

After Harikatha and some playing in the divine sand, the sadhus and sannyasis were invited into the dining room. Everyone else followed after them and sat there in a line ready to take Prasad.

True Knowledge is Received Under His Guidance

Our Guru Varga–Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur Prabhupada's most prominent disciples such as Srila Bhakti Pramod Puri Goswami Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Kumud Sant Goswami Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Saran Trivikram Maharaj, and many others used to say, "Your Guru Maharaj is not an ordinary soul and should never be underestimated for His spiritual powers." 

Our Gurudev considers Himself as humbler than of blade of grass,and is much more tolerant than a tree. He is the true follower of Mahaprabhu’s teachings and conduct– therefore can educate others.

I recall the above mentioned Guru Varga performed the parikrama of Vraja Mandal, Sri Ksetra Mandal and Sri Gaura Mandal along with Gurudeva. In the year 1993, they advised their disciples to follow our Gurudev in performing parikrama. They also taught that under his guidance, all will get the true knowledge.

Gurudev has been very kind to all living entities. Everybody used to get attracted by his sweet personality, extraord…

His Humble Acceptance of Any Offering

During the 1979 Braj Mandal Parikrama, we went to Brahmand Ghat and the breakfast prasadam was prepared and brought from our Gokul math. Srila Maharaj was the Secretary of the Math, but he had no dedicated personal servant. I used to serve him a little. That day breakfast was being served, but I forgot to carry Maharaj’s bowl. I was wondering how to serve prasadam to Maharaj.

The leaf plate was also not available, but I had carried my bowl. I offered in that bowl and Maharaj took prasadam in that. I was a brahmachari that time. But he had no ego of being a sannyasi or being the secretary of the organization.

The more one is humble, the more Mahaprabhu showers His mercy on him. And also, the more one is advanced the more humble he is.

—Srimad Bhakti Saudha Jitendriya Maharaj

We Must Pray to Him for Shelter

I remember the Vraja-mandala parikrama that was performed in 1987. During the last days of the parikrama in Sree Chaitanya Gaudiya Math, Gokul-Mahavan, our most revered Srila Guru Maharaja, His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaj, raised a question to himself in order to instruct us: “As we increase our endeavor for devotion, our attachment to this world increases rather than our attachment to the Supreme Lord. Why is this so?”
While Srila Guru Maharaja was delivering a transcendental discourse from his lotus mouth, I recorded the divine and sublime words of Guru Maharaja.To purify my heart and to please the devotees who have affection for Sri Guru, I am making a small attempt to present the same transcendental words as they are:

"Here I have done my self-examination. So many days have been spent doing parikrama, following Vaishnavas and chanting the Lord’s name loudly. You might be thinking that I am doing a lot of kirtana and dancing. But what is the result? The hear…

Forgoing His Personal Comforts for the Pleasure of Supreme Lord

It was Kartik in Vrindavan. We had all gone for Kamyavan parikrama. We started in the morning with Guruji leading the kirtan for 3 kilometers, singing and dancing. We reached there and after the sabha khichari prasad and returned. While returning, all were feeling tired–doing kirtan in a sluggish way. 

Guruji saw this for half an hour, and then he himself came forward to lead the kirtan singing.
When he started to sing Nitai Gauranga, Nitai Gauranga, we all became enthusiastic and started playing mridanga. Guruji lead the kirtan for the whole of 2.5 km. By the time we reached back, it was 10:30pm and the assembly was started. 

During Kartik, Guruji was always present in all the sabhas. There were only five devotees attending the sabha that night. Guruji was alone on the stage. His eyes were red due to tiredness.

We have seen that when Guruji is extremely tired, he starts massaging his knees with his hands while sitting. We saw him attending four assemblies in a day ending at 12.30 am, but…

His Transcendental Love Enlivens Devotees During Parikram

Almost every component of the Braj-Parikrama administration was looked after by Gurudev.
This continued through the whole of the yatra during Kartik. Aside from single-handedly performing so many organizational duties, Srila Gurudev drenched us in the ambrosia of Krishna-Prem while leading the group on sankirtan through the paths of Braj-Dham. Gurudev used to raise both hands and jump in ecstasy while dancing in the Nagar-kirtans.

It was a big challenge for me to keep on holding the microphone for Him, following Him, and hastily chasing Him while His Nritya-Sankirtan was on. Gurudev never used to give any attention towards the microphone, as if there was no microphone at  all. That made my task very difficult. It brought me physically in His close proximity and I felt surcharged, sometimes electrified, sometimes got shocks! I have no words to describe what I actually felt, a kind of bliss.  

Gurudev was always taking care that I do not get exhausted. He will ask me if I had taken prasad,…

His Sweet Surprises During Kartik at Ludhiana, 2010

By causeless mercy of Our Most Revered Srila Gurudev, the Kartik-Vrat at Ludhiana started yesterday. To our surprise, only shortly after our arrival, Srila Gurudev suddenly joined evening Harikatha and spoke for more than an hour, during which He gave an introduction to Gajendra-Moksha dialogue in the 8th Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam.

Srila Gurudev expressed His desire to participate in the Nagar sankirtan this morning. He woke up and got ready when we entered His room and said that He wants to join the Nagar sankirtan for a very small distance. Devotees could not control their emotions when they heard this and became blissful. Pujyapad Madhusudan Maharaj lead the kirtan with "Jai dau Jai dau" while Srila Gurudev lead the devotees for about 50 m distance. Later, devotees danced in front of Srila Gurudev and proceeded further, while Srila Gurudev went back to His room.

Another surprise came with Srila Gurudev's arrival at the house of Sri Anil Dave Prabhu, where Nagar kirta…

The Importance of Sadhu Sanga During Parikrama

The 1979 Braj Mandal Parikrama was led by our most revered Gurudeva and I was part of that Parikrama. While we were in Goverdhan, my health was not well. Gurudev sent me to Vrindavan Math for rest. After resting for 2-3 days, I rejoined them in Barsana. I had missed few darsans and I contacted one pandaji who told me that he can show all of them in one day.

I asked Pujyapad Tirtha Goswami Maharaj, “Maharaj! Due to my bad health I missed few darsans and Pandaji will help me visit those places in a day. Shall I go?”

Then Maharaj told me the importance of sadhu sanga. “You see! The benefit of listening and singing the glories of the Lord in the association of devotees is more. There are many saints here, there is harikatha and kirtan, leaving all these you want to go alone to visit those places? Which one is better?” 

Maharaj spoke the supremacy of sadhu sanga over Dham (holy abode), “Sadhu sange Krishna nam ei matra chai, samsar jinite aar kono vastu nai – Nothing is as powerful as chant…

He is Actually Seeing

In 2005, I was serving in the maṭh itself. In the Vraj-maṇḍal parikrama, I was given the service of translating for the Western devotees. When we hear, we may not be attentive, but when we translate, we must be very attentive. That year there were so many Westerners that they filled an entire bus.

This was the first year that Srila Gurudev was not there in Vraj the entire time as he was performing the pastimes of sickness. When he arrived, he explained what he was seeing directly – how Suk and Sari called out, and how Kakkhati was given the service. I was finding it difficult to translate, not because of words, but because I was so ecstatic. I could see that Gurudev was speaking not because of the books or something, but he was actually seeing.

—Hari Prasad Das, Delhi

Offering His Heart Completely in Service

I understand that Guru Maharaj started to write the Kartik Handbook in 2002 out of compassion for foreign devotees who were coming to observe Kartik Vrata, as they had no guide to understand what was being spoken. For the benefit of all those devotees who could not understand Bengali or Hindi, Guru Maharaj took a very special effort to translate specially selected portions from Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur's Bhajan Rahasya.

During the time when he was compiling the Kartik Handbook, Guru Maharaj's extreme amount of care and affection was astounding. As I was listening to these pastimes being recounted, I could feel what genuine compassion Guru Maharaj had for all those persons requiring translation. Day in and day out, he was contemplating the very best words to use. While eating, sleeping, and taking bath, while doing any activity - he was only concentrating on that service. 

I have experienced personally also that we would sometimes feel the need to interrupt Guru Maharaj's se…

His Loving Mercy Extends Everywhere and To Everyone

I had the mercy of Srila Prabhupada to connect with a civic group here in Hilo called the Japanese Cultural Association. Every year they put on a big parade through the streets of Hilo. So I thought hey we should do a Rathayatra!  The devotees made a real miniature version of the Rath carts in Puri. About 15 feet long and 10 feet wide and 15 -20 feet high counting the canopy.  By Krishna's arrangement, Maharaja just happened to be in Hawaii and when I found out I invited him to take part. 
He stayed at my house for 2 or 3 nights. He had his servant with him who prepared his meals, and my over riding memory is of him sitting in the floor in the living room, looking up at a beautiful painting my artist friend Khandita didi had painted of the Sadbhuja form of the Lord. He was looking so intently at it and I could feel he was there with Sadbhuja.  
He has such a kind heart. When he first arrived, I brought him into my simple “temple room” which is my side porch. I had carefully cleaned …

His Soothing Effulgence

One time I came to Chandigarh to meet Guru Maharaja right after Kartik. His sevaks said, “No, actually, Guru Maharaja is tired now. Kartika is finished, so there is no more darshan.”

But then they said, “No, no, okay, come. Guru Maharaja’s darshan is open.” 
When they opened the door, the whole room was so bright and effulgent and Guru Maharaja was sitting there with a smile on his face. And I was so happy, so relieved to see him; it was like a shower of relief after burning in the sun of the West. 
I sat at his lotus feet and I said, “Guru Maharaja, I feel so lonely, you’re so far away, I don’t have your association.” 
Guru Maharaja looked a little confused. He looked at me and said, “You are never alone. Krishna is always in your heart.” 
I said, “But Guru Maharaja, I feel so far away, please give me your blessings.” 
And Guru Maharaja said, so humble, he said, “Okay, I will pray to Guru Varga for you.” 
He is never taking the position as guru, always the position of a servant. His whol…

His Preaching is Non-different from His Conduct

The founder acharya of Gopinath Gaudiya Math, Srila Bhakti Pramode Puri Goswami Maharaj, who is considered an outstanding personality of this world once commented, “All the Gaudiya Vaishnavas, sannyasis, and saints are parts of my body, but Srimad Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaj is the core of my heart.”

We are compelled to think how he has won the heart of this ideal. It is only due to his dedicated service attitude since his early life till date. 
Guruji gives emphasis to practise the instructions of the scriptures before preaching to others. He says, ‘Don’t follow me, follow my lecture only’ is applicable in politics.

Regarding preaching of dharma, he would say that our words will became impactful only to the extent we follow them in our own lives. Preaching without conduct is lifeless. It will only be an entertainment, and no one will be benefitted from it.
—Sri Bhakti Bibudh Muni Maharaj (2015)

His Merciful Reminders

I would like to share an experience from 2007. During my first M. Tech examinations, my friend Padmavati dasi and I went together for darshan. She was on one side and I was on the other side.

Padmavati told, "It is time for our exams."

Gurudev looked at me on the other side and said, "Before exams, one has to study."

That particular semester, I did not study at all but I never told anybody! How could he know? After that, I studied and somehow passed my exams.

Also I remember I asked Gurudev this question:

"Gurudev, how can we develop saranagati to Bhagavan?"

He said, "Ei gulo diye habe na"

By these material sense organs, nothing will happen.

Then he said, “If I look upon these buildings with my eyes closed, I will not see anything."

Finally he said, "granther arambhe kari mangalacharan."

A few days later, I asked, "How can one remember them?" (Guru, Vaishnava, Bhagwan, as instructed in the above verse CC Adi 1.20)

He said, …