Navadwip, India — Thursday, April 1st


We're still not used to the idea that Srila Gurudeva has left us... (Yes, we know that Srila Gurudeva never leaves us, but in the present state of shock that we are all in, who can think properly?)

After Srila Gurudeva entered samadhi, just before the rain began, a temporary corrugated iron and bamboo shelter was erected over the site. Every day this shelter is improved, but on the first morning, after the first two mangala aratis at the Shiva mandir and Sri Govinda kunda, we gather for the third arati in front of Srila Guru Maharaj's samadhi mandir, as is our custom, before remembering that there is a new mandir in the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math now, and turn left to face the makeshift hut, where Sripad Niskinchan Maharaj performs the first arati for Srila Gurudeva in his new place of bhajan.

By the second morning, an improvised door and a little veranda have been added to the shelter, so we are a little more conscious of the new mandir, but still, after the main arati, when we congregate in front of Srila Guru Maharaj's samadhi mandir to begin our circumambulation of the temple and mandirs, some of us, because we are so habituated, almost begin the circular walk with Srila Guru Maharaj's mandir before suddenly remembering, and veering around the new mandir...

It will be some time (after the ground settles) before a suitable new samadhi mandir can be built to properly house and honor Srila Gurudeva, but now that a big picture of His Divine Grace has been placed in the makeshift mandir, colorful curtains and coverings brighten the walls, and festoons of marigolds hang from the veranda and roof, we are finally getting used to the idea that Srila Gurudeva is now "living here, engaged in intense bhajan, absorbed in a deep state of profound meditation."

Only now, we can't just go barging on to his veranda like we used to, to disturb him with our inane questions and frivolous complaints or demands. If we want Srila Gurudeva's advice and guidance now, we too, must look inward...

Tags: Gurus & Guardians

Navadwip, India — Saturday, April 3rd

Spiritual solace

For the past week here at the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math in Sri Navadwip dham, subdued devotees have been trying to come to grips with Srila Gurudeva's sudden departure, discussing it in the morning and evening classes, trying to make sense of it all.

Ten days after Srila Gurudeva's disappearance, next Tuesday, we will celebrate a Grand Disappearance Festival here, in remembrance of the pastimes and glories of His Divine Grace, Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj.

These remembrance festivals and discussions about Srila Gurudeva are very good for us right now, not as some sort of cathartic exercise, but because the relief that we get from remembering His Divine Grace's pastimes is spiritual rather than emotional or psychological.

In Bhagavad Gita — The Hidden Treasure of the Sweet Absolute, Srila Guru Maharaj gives an extraordinary explication of the catuh-sloki, or four essential verses. In the last of these verses, 10:11,

tesam evanukampartham / aham ajnana-jam tamah
nasayamy atma-bhavastho / jnana-dipena bhasvata

Srila Guru Maharaj gives this alternative explanation:

"Being conquered by the love of those devotees who in their unalloyed loving devotion become afflicted by the all-devouring darkness born of their pangs of separation from Me, I illuminate their hearts with My presence, destroying the darkness of their pain of separation."

Then, taking us even deeper — just as Srila Krishna-dasa Kaviraj Goswami draws out the inner meaning of what Krishna is saying to the Gopis in Srimad Bhagavatam 10:82:44 — Srila Guru Maharaj says:

Therefore, here in Sri Gita, the Lord is saying, "Tesam evanukampartham: being conquered by the love of those unalloyed devotees, when I cannot tolerate their pain of separation, I at once come running to satisfy them, and I reveal to them with special light, special consciousness, 'I have returned to you — see Me now.' With powerful brilliance (jnana-dipena) I show them My presence when they are very much in need of Me, and I relieve their pain of separation."

And since Krishna says, "I am the guru; I reveal Myself to you through Srila Gurudeva" (acaryam mam vijaniyam), we can think that when, in the pain of separation from Srila Gurudeva, we remember his glories and discuss his pastimes with our godbrothers and godsisters here, in the classes, and during remembrance festivals like this, His Divine Grace likewise comes to "illuminate our hearts with his presence... when we are very much in need of him."

Tags: Gurus & Guardians

Navadwip, India — Tuesday, April 6th

Disappearance festival

The Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math is full. Devotees from all over the world — USA, Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Russia, Ukraine, England, Italy, Turkey, South Africa, Mauritius, Singapore, Australia — have come for the special Disappearance Festival to honor Srila Gurudeva, His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj.

Many of the devotees were just here for the Gaura Purnima festival, and some have bureaucratic hassles with the recent stipulation that anyone with a multiple-entry Indian tourist visa who leaves the country cannot return for at least two months.

After the five regular morning aratis, the main program begins with kirtan at 9:00 a.m., lead by our new Sevaite-President-Acharya, Srila Bhakti Nirmal Acharya Maharaj, who, along with our senior sannyasis, guests and visiting dignitaries, glorifies Srila Gurudeva until after noon, when the special arati and puja is offered to Srila Gurudeva.

After the puja and arati, a splendid prasadam feast is served in Srila Gurudev's honor. Some of the many preparations that the hundreds devotees and guests partake of include: curd, potato, and two other subjis, rice, dhal, tomato chutney, an assortment of savories, pushpana rice, sweet rice, misti-doy, gulabjamins and a whole lot of other sweets that I cannot identify — and even cups of ice cream!

In the grand style of Srila Acharya Maharaj, all the visiting brahmanas, sannyasis and brahmacharis are given a donation, an umbrella, and a Bengali copy of Srila Gurudeva's Benedictine Tree of Divine Aspiration — and everybody leaves fully satisfied and happy.

Tags: Feasts & Festivals

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