This is a narration of a nectarean activity of His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaj that took place during His 1999 US tour. It describes a distressful, but spiritually instructive situation.
His Divine Grace and His devoted followers left the New York area after many successful programs and arrived without incident at the Miami airport at approximately 2:30 PM on Thursday August 5, 1999. However, upon checking the status of their baggage, they found to their utter dismay that Srila Gurudeva's tridanda, which was in its own protective flight case, had not arrived with the rest of the luggage.
Due to the ignorance and lack of sensitivity of the airline personnel, who did not realize the transcendental position of the person to whom they were speaking, no great effort was made to confirm the whereabouts of the sacred tridanda. This only made the situation worse.
Maharaj would not take any sustenance, either liquid or solid, and would not leave the baggage area under any circumstances, choosing only to chant the Names of God and to concentrate upon the Lotus Feet of His beloved Gurudeva. Seeing Srila Gurudeva in this state reminded one of Dhruva Maharaj. When Dhruva stopped breathing, everything around him came to an abrupt halt.
It was not known whether the holy tridanda had become lost, stolen, or had suffered some other sort of mishap. The devotees were in a state of intolerable anxiety, seeing their beloved spiritual master not taking any foodstuffs or even water. In their minds they were thinking that they must have committed some grievous offense to be subjected to seeing their Gurudeva in such a condition.
During this period of stress and uncertainty, His Divine Grace explained that tridanda ("three rods or sticks") has three different meanings or aspects. First, tridanda represents the dedication of body, mind and speech to the service of Sri Guru-Bhagavan.
Secondly, at the time of receiving tridanda, three Deities are installed by means of homa, namely: Garbhodakasayi Visnu, Karanadakasayi Visnu and Ksirodakasayi Visnu. Thus, these three Deities reside within tridanda. Included in this second explanation, is the axe at the top of tridanda, an axe made of knowledge, the purpose of which is to cut through maya, or illusion, and which also represents the relationship (sambandha) between the living entity and Bhagavan Sri Krsna. This axe is known as "jivadanda."
Thirdly, danda (one rod, or stick) represents the potential of punishment if one should misbehave.
Maharaj said that He would not be able to preach, and that His strength and spiritual potency were gone without His tridanda. He said that His beloved Gurudeva is with Him in the form of tridanda and harinama-japamala. The following are Maharaj's statements which will help explain this more clearly:
"When I received my tridanda, my Gurudeva performed oblations and then offered the tridanda to me. He ordered that I should keep it with me wherever I should go. He ordered me to always engage my mind, senses, words--- everything--- in the service of the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna. There is an axe at the top of tridanda which signifies the removal of ignorance by obtaining knowledge from the Guru. My Guru Maharaj always took His tridanda with Him wherever He went. Tridanda and harinama-japamala represent His direct blessings. From both of these items, I obtain the strength and inspiration to serve Sri Krsna."
Despite the seemingly adverse and unfavorable circumstances of this incident, we can look beneath the surface and understand that everything occurs due to the Supreme Will of Lord Sri Krsna. As His Divine Grace often says, whatever Lord Krsna wills is always for the best. For His devotees, among other things, this was a demonstration by their spiritual master of the strictness one should observe in following the instructions of the guru.
This allegiance to the words of His Gurudeva demonstrated by Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaj is not born of mere obligation, but from unparalleled love and affection for His spiritual master. By His own words, Srila Gurudeva confirms that spiritual potency flows from the Guru to the sincere disciple, and is nourished and sustained by the bond of affection that exists between them.
Most fortunately, confirmation was received at 9:00 PM that the tridanda was on its way on another flight. Upon receiving His tridanda, His Divine Grace's face became ecstatic as He exclaimed, "Now, I have gotten back my life!"
-Akincana Das, UK
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