Jul 132020
 

On the anniversary today of the incorporation of ISKCON in New York City . . .

Bhavananda: In Svarup Ganj there’s one big astrologer. So, he saw your photograph, and he said, “This is the face of the most powerful spiritual personality on the planet.”

Prabhupada: [laughs] Hare Krishna.

Brahmananda: Then what else?

Bhavananda: Then he said that “I can tell from his face that he can make a house in which the whole world can live peacefully.”

Devotees: Jaya Prabhupada!

Prabhupada: At least I desire so.

(Morning Walk, July 1, 1975, Denver)

Jul 092020
 

For Gopala Bhatta Gosvami’s disappearance day, I thought to read one verse and purport about him from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila, Chapter Ten, “The Branches of the Caitanya Tree”:

TEXT 105

sri gopala bhatta eka sakha sarvottama
rupa-sanatana-sange yanra prema-alapana

TRANSLATION

Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, the forty-seventh branch, was one of the great and exalted branches of the tree. He always engaged in discourses about love of Godhead in the company of Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami.

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami was the son of Venkata Bhatta, a resident of Sri Rangam. Gopala Bhatta formerly belonged to the disciplic succession or the Ramanuja-sampradaya but later became part of the Gaudiya-sampradaya.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

The word sampradaya means “party.”

PURPORT (continued)

In the year 1433 Sakabda (A.D. 1511), when Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu was touring South India, He stayed for four months during the period of Caturmasya at the house of Venkata Bhatta, who then got the opportunity to serve the Lord to his heart’s content. Gopala Bhatta also got the opportunity to serve the Lord at this time. Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami was later initiated by his uncle, the great sannyasi Prabodhananda Sarasvati. Both the father and the mother of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami were extremely fortunate, for they dedicated their entire lives to the service of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. They allowed Gopala Bhatta Gosvami to go to Vrndavana, and they gave up their lives thinking of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. When Lord Caitanya was later informed that Gopala Bhatta Gosvami had gone to Vrndavana and met Sri Rupa and Sanatana Gosvami, He was very pleased, and He advised Sri Rupa and Sanatana to accept Gopala Bhatta Gosvami as their younger brother and take care of him. Sri Sanatana Gosvami, out of his great affection for Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, compiled the Vaisnava smrti named Hari-bhakti-vilasa and published it under his name. Under the instruction of Srila Rupa and Sanatana, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami installed one of the seven principal deities of Vrndavana, the Radha-ramana deity. The sevaits (priests) of the Radha-ramana temple belong to the Gaudiya-sampradaya.

COMMENT

Actually, one of the families entrusted with the Deity service at the Radha-ramana temple has a history of relations with the line of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati. Visvambhara Gosvami’s father or grandfather had relations with Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, the family maintained relations with Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and then Visvambhara Gosvami had very friendly relations with Srila Prabhupada. And he spoke very nicely about Srila Prabhupada. Now Visvambhara Gosvami’s son Padmanabha Gosvami is also very favorable to ISKCON. In fact, ISKCON devotees often honor prasada at his home at the Radha-ramana temple. I also took prasada there with His Holiness Tamal Krishna Goswami, and Padmanabha Gosvami showed us a letter that Srila Prabhupada had written to his father, Visvambhara Gosvami, about how all Vaishnavas should cooperate. So, not only does the Radha-ramana temple belong to the Gaudiya-sampradaya, but at least some of the sevaits have had close relations with the line of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura.

PURPORT (concluded)

When Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami took permission from all the Vaisnavas before writing Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami also gave him his blessings, but he requested him not to mention his name in the book. Therefore Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami has mentioned Gopala Bhatta Gosvami only very cautiously in one or two passages of the Caitanya-caritamrta. Srila Jiva Gosvami has written in the beginning of his Tattva-sandarbha, “A devotee from southern India who was born of a brahmana family and was a very intimate friend of Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami has written a book that he has not compiled chronologically. Therefore I, a tiny living entity known as jiva, am trying to assort the events of the book chronologically, consulting the direction of great personalities like Madhvacarya, Sridhara Svami, Ramanujacarya, and other senior Vaisnavas in the disciplic succession.” In the beginning of the Bhagavat-sandarbha there are similar statements by Srila Jiva Gosvami. Srila Gopala Bhatta Gosvami compiled a book called Sat-kriya-sara-dipika, edited the Hari-bhakti-vilasa, wrote a foreword to the Sat-sandarbha and a commentary on the Krsna-karnamrta, and installed the Radharamana Deity in Vrndavana. In the Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika (184) it is mentioned that his previous name in the pastimes of Lord Krsna was Ananga-manjari. Sometimes he is also said to have been an incarnation of Guna-manjari. Srinivasa Acarya and Gopinatha Pujari were two of his disciples.

COMMENT

Srila Gopala Bhatta Gosvami ki jaya!

One story about Gopala Bhatta Gosvami is that on the eve of Nrsimha-caturdasi all the other Gosvamis and Vaishnavas in Vrindavan were preparing to worship their deities and hold festivals. Gopala Bhatta Gosvami had only a salagrama-sila; he didn’t have a deity with form, with arms and legs, a body he could dress and decorate. So he was feeling deprived of the opportunity to serve his deity like the other devotees who had deities with forms. Out of his strong desire, a salagrama-sila manifest in the form of Radha-ramana. Radha-ramana is considered the most beautiful deity of Krishna. It is the one original deity of the Gosvamis that has remained in Vrindavan, while the others had to be taken elsewhere for fear of the Muslim invaders. And near the temple of Radha-ramana in Vrindavan is the samadhi of Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami.

Gopala Bhatta Gosvami’s uncle and siksa-guru was Prabodhananda Sarasvati. His samadhi is also located in Vrindavan, just off the parikrama path near Kaliya-ghata, which is quite near our Krishna-Balaram temple. Often when we go on parikrama down the path near the Yamuna, we visit Prabodhananda Sarasvati’s samadhi and bhajana-kutira. Then we proceed to Srila Sanatana Gosvami’s samadhi. Sanatana Gosvami was the most senior of the Gosvamis and was also a close associate and instructor of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami. In fact, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami worked with Sanatana Gosvami to produce the great treatise Hari-bhakti-vilasa.

I feel that Gopala Bhatta Gosvami has been especially merciful to me on two occasions. On one, I visited his bhajana-kutira at Sanketa, a place between Nandagrama and Varsana where Radha and Krishna used to meet and sometimes perform rasa-lila. Gopala Bhatta would sit and chant underground in a deep cavern accessible only through a long, narrow passage. At the end of the passage was a somewhat roomier place where Gopala Bhatta used to chant, now marked as his bhajana-sthala. I remember going there with Tamal Krishna Goswami and others on a very hot day and struggling to crawl through the passage to the bhajana-sthala. It was difficult, but when I finally reached there, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami was very merciful. He allowed me to chant with a glimpse of taste. And after all the devotees emerged from the cavern, I stole back in. I crawled back to Gopala Bhatta’s lotus feet and sat there chanting. I will never forget his mercy to me there, and I pray that he will enable me to chant with relish and love.

On the other occasion, during Kartik of 1999, shortly before my surgery, I visited Gopala Bhatta’s samadhi near the Radha-ramana temple in Vrindavan. We arrived just after raja-bhoga-arati, and the pujari was closing the doors to the samadhi-mandira. But he was kind enough to open the doors for us, to allow us darshan of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami. He gave us some flowers and caranamrta and invited us to stay for prasada. Thus our small party, along with some local sadhus, honored Gopala Bhatta Prabhu’s maha-maha-prasada with great relish, and we even stayed to take a little rest before, filled with bliss, we continued on our way. So, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami is very kind.

 Years later, when some of my disciples from Bombay went to Vrindavan on pilgrimage, they visited the samadhi of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami. They told the pujaris about me, how my health no longer allowed me to visit Vraja, and asked for some prasada for me. And the priest kindly gave them a piece of cloth from Gopala Bhatta Gosvami’s samadhi. It is very special. Now, twice a year, on his appearance day and on his disappearance day, we bring it out and touch it. So now we shall pass it around and touch it to our heads and to our hearts—and pray to Gopala Bhatta Gosvami for his sublime mercy.

Thank you.

Hare Krishna.

[A talk by Giriraj Swami on Gopala Bhatta Gosvami’s disappearance day July 31, 2002, Carpinteria, California]

Jul 082020
 

Dear Bhakti Charu Swami Maharaja,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. And all glories to your wonderful service to him.

One of your most prominent qualities while you were physically with us was your deep love for Srila Prabhupada. Very soon after you met him, he included you in his personal staff and made you his secretary for Bengali and Hindi correspondence. Soon thereafter, he gave you first and second initiation and then sannyasa. And you personally, lovingly served him throughout his last days.

You were also devoted to ISKCON. You always considered ISKCON to be a unique creation of Srila Prabhupada’s and always wanted to serve ISKCON—both the devotees in ISKCON and ISKCON as an entity, a manifestation of Srila Prabhupada. You loved anyone who loved Srila Prabhupada.

You were a very pure-hearted, loving person. Your love for Srila Prabhupada was seen in your love for the devotees and for people in general, whom you wanted to bring to Srila Prabhupada—and in how you encouraged devotees to increase their engagement, take on more responsibility, and become more loving, humble servants. The more responsibility one accepts, you once explained to a devotee in Mauritius, the bigger servant of the devotees one becomes. This reminded me of something Srila Prabhupada once said when a disciple came into his room in Mayapur one day and began to complain about the management. Srila Prabhupada said, “If you think you can do better, why don’t you?” Somehow, the disciple came out and announced that Srila Prabhupada had made him the temple commander, and he began to boss around the other devotees. Some devotees complained to Srila Prabhupada that the devotee had said that Prabhupada had made him the temple commander and that now he was barking orders at everyone. So Srila Prabhupada called for the devotee and instructed him: “First you become the servant of everyone; then you become the temple commander.” Thus Srila Prabhupada expressed the same idea, that a bigger position means becoming a bigger servant. And you, in parampara, had that same understanding.

Listening carefully to all of your instructions, we can understand how closely you followed the disciplic succession. Some of your statements were very close to Srila Prabhupada’s words, and some took the basic principles that Srila Prabhupada gave and sweetened them with beautiful personal realization.

Another of your many fine qualities was your offenselessness. You were very careful not to commit any offense against any devotee, or any living entity, and if you felt you had committed an offense, you immediately tried to mitigate its effects by approaching the person, apologizing, and asking forgiveness. Somehow or other you tried to rectify the offense. From our point of view, we wouldn’t think you had committed an offense, but within your pure heart you may have felt that you had, and immediately you would try to approach and please the person you feared you had offended, to remove the effects of the offense.

You exemplified the principle found in The Nectar of Devotion of “Not Giving Pain to Any Living Entity,” which was supported with a reference from the Mahabharata: “A person who does not disturb or cause painful action in the mind of any living entity, who treats everyone just like a loving father does his children, whose heart is so pure, certainly very soon becomes favored by the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” That was you: so pure, just like a loving father to everyone—and favored by the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

 You were a perfect gentleman—and Vaishnava. Once, an interviewer asked Srila Prabhupada, “How would I recognize a true follower of the Krishna consciousness movement by his behavior? What would his traits be? What would his outward expressions be?” And Prabhupada replied, “His behavior—he is a perfect gentleman. That’s all. You cannot find any fault in him. That is perfect Krishna consciousness.” That was you: a perfect gentleman—one could not find any fault in you.

Your heart was pure and very sensitive—full of appreciation for other devotees and sensitive to your own faults, which again, from our point of view, wouldn’t even have been considered faults. That’s really the heart of a Vaishnava—full of love and appreciation for others but sensitive to one’s own deficiencies or mistakes.

As stated by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita (12.13–14), “One who is not envious but is a kind friend to all living entities, who does not think himself a proprietor and is free from false ego, who is equal in both happiness and distress, who is tolerant, always satisfied, self-controlled, and engaged in devotional service with determination, his mind and intelligence fixed on Me—such a devotee of Mine is very dear to Me.” You exemplified all those qualities described by Lord Krishna and thus were very dear to Him—and to us, to all others.

Now you have left this world and gone to Srila Prabhupada and Lord Krishna. As Srila Prabhupada said, when a Vaishnava departs we feel both happy and sad—happy because the Vaishnava has gone to serve Lord Krishna and sad because we will miss the Vaishnava’s association. Sometimes the pain of separation is so intense that we can only recall Raya Ramananda’s exchange with Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (Cc Madhya 8.248):

“duhkha-madhye kona duhkha haya gurutara?”
“krsna-bhakta-viraha vina duhkha nahi dekhi para”

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu asked, “Of all kinds of distress, what is the most painful?”
Sri Ramananda Raya replied, “Apart from separation from the devotee of Krsna, I know of no unbearable unhappiness.”

Still, we will try to be happy serving in separation. As Srila Prabhupada wrote to one of his disciples, “Please be happy in separation. I am separated from my guru maharaja since 1936, but I am always with him so long I work according to his direction. So we should all work together for satisfying Lord Krishna, and the feeling of separation will transform into transcendental bliss.”

By serving Srila Prabhupada’s—and your—instructions, we will feel his presence, and yours. And in fact we will live with you both. As Srila Prabhupada wrote in his dedication to Srimad-Bhagavatam: “To Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja, my spiritual master: He lives forever by his divine instructions and the follower lives with him.”

Please look kindly upon us and guide and inspire us, following in your footsteps, to serve Srila Prabhupada and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and when we have done what you want us to do here, bring us back to you and Srila Prabhupada’s lotus feet.

Your eternal servant,
Giriraj Swami