An Excerpt: “Sometimes we fall prey to the delusion that we alone possess the truth. Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāja deplores the myopic mindset exposed in asserting, ‘my guru, my organization, my mission, is in sole possession of Krishna consciousness’. It is bigotry in the guise of fidelity. He admonishes emphasizing one to the exclusion of all others: ‘You think the truth is a monopoly of your trade… but Krishna consciousness is not any particular person's monopoly. Wherever it is, we must bow down our head. One who has got the eye, he will see it. It is not the monopoly of anyone. It is the monopoly of Krishna and Krishna consciousness; and wherever that Krishna consciousness is available, we are concerned with that’”.
He did not exempt his own institution. Modification is inevitable but to the degree that it is true to the spirit of the Founder-Acharya, Śrīla Bhakti Rakshak Śrīdhar Dev-Goswāmī and his Divine Servitor, Śrīla Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswāmī, it will thrive or descend into moribund decline…
|| The Flag of Śrī Chaitanya Sāraswat Maṭh ||
With reference to his Śrī Chaitanya Sāraswat Maṭh in Nabadwip Dhām, Śrīla Bhakti Rakshak Śrīdhar Dev-Goswāmī says, “This is Govardhan, Gupta Govardhan; Nabadwip is Gupta Vrindavan, more magnanimous than Vrindavan; the Dhām of the fallen, and Govardhan is here. And Rādhā Kunda on the other side. Most holy place for the fallen [aparādha-bhañjanera pāṭa; the place where all offenses are forgiven]. I selected this to be my eternal home. And this is Govinda Kunda, Gaur Haribol! Gaur Haribol! Gaur Haribol! Nitai Chaitanya…”
In the Padma Purāna it is written:
nāhaṁ vasāmi vaikuṇṭhe yogināṁ hṛdayena ca
mad-bhaktāḥ yatra gāyanti tatra tiṣṭhāmi nārada
“I am not in Vaikuṇṭha nor the hearts of the yogis. But where my devotees are singing my glories, I am present in that place”.
Similarly, where there is substantial glorification and service of Śrīla Guru Mahārāja by his devotees, he is present, and as such, that place can be considered to be an extension (vaibhava) of Śrī Chaitanya Sāraswat Maṭh and Gupta Govardhan. In remembrance of Śrīla Guru Mahārāja, and with the intention of promoting his conceptions, we view this as the plane of our service aspiration.
We are serving in separation. Śrīla Guru Mahārāja, “What is meant by dedication? Dedication in its highest stage is union in separation… viraha, vipralambha is the most spacious thing pertaining to Krishna consciousness”. In separation, out of service necessity, our vision becomes more expansive. Wherever we may reside, we try to incorporate what is before us into the service of Śrī Guru, Gaurāṅga, and Rādhā Govinda.
Śrīla Guru Mahārāja, “Everywhere one may see guru, it is possible. Everything is giving instruction to me to advance towards service of Krishna; the whole paraphernalia, the whole environment is guru. In Vrindavan it is so. Nabadwip consciousness, Vrindavan consciousness: everything will excite me to go and serve Gaura and Krishna. That is what is necessary; everything will remind me, excite me in the service of my Lord, viśvaṁ pūrṇa-sukhāyate: the whole world will be of the highest pleasure to us when we shall get such adjustment in our soul's position. Then we are really in Vrindavan”.
The application of this principle has spread the Krishna consciousness movement all over the world. We are aspiring servitors of the holy lotus feet of Śrīla Guru Mahārāja and his domain under the guidance of Śrīla Gurudeva, Śrīla Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami. And that is not a geographical location but a plane of Krishna consciousness enriched with a particular type and degree of devotion or dedication.
Śrīla Guru Mahārāja founded Śrī Chaitanya Sāraswat Maṭh deliberately with Govardhan Shila. Following his example and obeying his order, our Deity is Girirāja Govardhan, who is fully Krishna (sākṣād vrajendra-nandana-hari). Although it may not be apparent (gupta) if we look deeply we will conclude: Where does he reside if not Govardhan? And with whom? Where the lord is present, he is accompanied by his paraphernalia: his abode, associates, pastimes etc. (dhāmnā svena sadā nirasta-kuhakaṁ satyaṁ paraṁ dhīmahi).
We recognize, revere, and aspire to serve Gupta Govardhan of Nabadwip and Govardhan of Vrindavan. We hope that it is not impertinence but in deference to, and in the light of Śrīla Guru Mahārāja’s conceptions that we humbly proceed. We are trying to preserve, protect, and extend his conception to others. Where Girirāja is present, Govardhan is manifest. Nestled in the foothills of wherever, from a relatively hidden position (gupta) in service to Śrīla Guru Mahārāja, fortunate souls may glimpse Govardhan. Understandably, it may not be visible to everyone.
“What is our most important service? To acquire the angle of vision; the most important is that; everywhere. Only we are to acquire the proper angle of vision. New eye: dīkṣā means divya-dṛṣṭi not our prejudiced estimation. But piercing that, to have a real view into the reality of things, that is what is necessary. The whole sādhana means that realization”. — Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāja
At present our vision is clouded with prejudgement and misconception; only by the grace of Śrī Guru, when that is removed, can we see things as they are (ācāryavān puruṣo veda).
andhībhūtā cakṣū yara viṣayā ḍhulite
ki rupe se para-tattva pāibe dekhite
“Anywhere he appears, the śrī-mūrti of Krishna is dazzling in its own glory. But one can only have a view of that, whose eyes are clear, not covered with thousands of prejudices. So many demands, desires are covering our mental eye, rather, the real seer inside is the soul; the eye of the soul. There are so many thick prejudices, good, bad, covering our eyes; so we can't see Him. If that is cleared, the prejudices are removed, then we can see Krishna is there, everywhere. He is everywhere (aprākṛta vastu nahe prākṛta-gocara).”
“Once Śrīla Saraswatī Ṭhākur gave a novel explanation of Govardhan. As the Gopas propagate cows, extending their numbers without caring for the laws of breeding, so also he told, Krishna Consciousness will propagate without caring for any law… (no dīkṣāṁ na ca sat-kriyāṁ na ca puraścaryāṁ manāg īkṣate). The self-extension of Krishna consciousness does not care for any external limitation. It can go anywhere and everywhere freely. This is Rāga Mārga… Mercy does not care for any qualification.
vana dekhi’ bhrama haya—ei ‘vṛndāvana’
śaila dekhi’ mane haya—ei ‘govardhana’
“Mahaprabhu when seeing a forest, ‘Oh this is Vrindavan! Any hill, ‘Oh Govardhan!’ Any river, ‘Oh, this is Jamuna!
“What is Vrindavan? Not a fable, not any concocted story but the broadest, the widest plane of the whole universe; beauty, sweetness, and blissfulness but to understand this, we have to dive deep…
“Even here in Nabadwip Dhām we have to pierce through the surface. We have to dive deep within Nabadwip, the inner Nabadwip, the Nabadwip of Gaura Nitai. Externally we may find Jagai, Madhai, Chand Kazi, so many, [laughter] but if we will dive a little deep, we shall find what is there. In the Dhām we see so many things [contrary] but when our real eye is awakened we will have darshan of the real Dhām”. — Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāja
We aspire to this vision. Śrīla Guru Mahārāja, “a true disciple's mind is always living in the domain of his gurudeva”. This aspiration we cherish, and fills us with hope.
In his final days Śrīla Govinda Mahārāja summarized: "Everyone has some fault; little bit. Who has big or who has small, that is not the question, but devotional spirit, that is the question. And who has devotional spirit fully, he is the devotee and must be honored, must be respected.”
Sometimes we fall prey to the delusion that we alone possess the truth. Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāja deplores the myopic mindset exposed in asserting, “my guru, my organization, my mission, is in sole possession of Krishna consciousness”. It is bigotry in the guise of fidelity. He admonishes emphasizing one to the exclusion of all others: “You think the truth is a monopoly of your trade… but Krishna consciousness is not any particular person's monopoly. Wherever it is, we must bow down our head. One who has got the eye, he will see it. It is not the monopoly of anyone. It is the monopoly of Krishna and Krishna consciousness; and wherever that Krishna consciousness is available, we are concerned with that”.
He did not exempt his own institution. Modification is inevitable but to the degree that it is true to the spirit of the Founder-Acharya, Śrīla Bhakti Rakshak Śrīdhar Dev-Goswāmī and his Divine Servitor, Śrīla Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswāmī, it will thrive or descend into moribund decline (prakṛti-vaicitryād; pāramparyeṇa; kālena naṣṭā pralaye vāṇīyaṁ veda-saṁjñitā).
Śrīla Govinda Mahārāja emphasized his position as the “Sevaite” President Acharya of his Guru Mahārāja’s Maṭh, Śrī Chaitanya Sāraswat Maṭh. He is serving Śrīla Guru Mahārāja and engaging other fortunate souls in that service. He revealed his heart’s core expressing, “If someone serves the lotus feet of Śrīla Guru Mahārāja, I become their slave!” To marginalize Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāja and his conceptions is suicidal. Śrī Chaitanya Sāraswat Maṭh is not a generic religious organization. The promotion of Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāja is not a personality cult, neither is it optional nor redundant. It means dedication to his particular representation of the highest spiritual substance; Reality the Beautiful.
“This is the all-conquering conclusion: the highest conception of the Ultimate Reality must also be the highest form of ānanda, ecstasy. Śrī Chaitanya Mahāprabhu is Krishna, ecstasy Himself, [enveloped in the heart and halo of Śrī Rādhā] tasting His own sweetness and dancing in ecstatic joy”. - Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāja. Prema Dhāma Deva Stotram (66)
Śrīla Saraswatī Ṭhākur recognized in Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāja one who perfectly represents his siddhānta and preceptorial line. He proclaimed of the comprehensive ontological depth and accuracy of his Bhaktivinoda Viraha Dāsakam, “Bhaktivinode Ṭhākur has himself made him write this; he wrote this through him. What I came to teach, to give to the world; it will be there. I am satisfied that there is one left who will be able to represent me fully”. He is also recognized by the principal disciples of Śrīla Saraswatī Ṭhākur, Acharyas in their own right, including world-renowned, Śrīla A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, as Siksha Guru, Rupānuga Dhāra, and one given admission into the group of Śrī Rūpa. What distinguishes Śrī Chaitanya Sāraswat Maṭh is the original, conceptual wealth Śrīla Guru Mahārāja personifies, and enshrined in a myriad of compositions:
Śrī Prapanna-Jīvanāmṛtam; Laghu Chandrikā Bhāsya, Commentary on Bhaktivinode Ṭhākur’s Śharaṇāgati; Prema Dhāma Deva Stotram; Search for Śrī Krishna: Reality the Beautiful; Śrī Guru and His Grace; Golden Volcano of Divine Love; Loving Search for the Lost Servant; Subjective Evolution of Consciousness: The Play of the Sweet Absolute; Interpretation extracting Rādhā Dāsyam from the Gāyatrī Mantram; Śrīmad Bhagavad Gītā: The Hidden Treasure of the Sweet Absolute; numerous essays in Gaudiya, The Harmonist, Gaudiya Darshan; published talks, prayers, pranāms, songs, glorifying Mahaprabhu, Nityānanda Prabhu, Gadādhara Pandit et al., Śrīla Saraswatī Ṭhākur and our Śrī Guru Varga: The Siksha Guru Parampara.
Read any page of any book, any line of any sloka of Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāja and you will discover something original, substantial, and wonderful; the highest siddhānta in virtuosic poetic expression.
Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāja describes his vision of the Maṭh he founded, Śrī Chaitanya Sāraswat Maṭh, encapsulating the conceptual architecture in its pranām mantra:
śrīmac chaitanya-sāraswata-maṭhavara udgīta-kīrttir jaya-śrīṁ
bibhrat saṁbhāti gaṅgā-taṭa-nikaṭa-navadvīpa-kolādri-rāje
yatra śrī-gaura-sāraswata-mata-niratā gaura-gāthā gṛṇanti
nityaṁ rūpānuga śrī-kṛtamati-guru-gaurāṅga-rādhā-jitāśā
“The flag of Chaitanya Sāraswat Maṭh flutters high, high in the over-sky [outer space] in Nabadwip on the banks of the Ganga.
“Chaitanya, [borrowed] from Chaitanya Maṭh, and Sāraswata, from Sāraswatī, our Gurudeva, Srila Bhakti Siddhānta Saraswatī Ṭhākur. chaitanya-sāraswata, the knowledge that has come from Chaitanyadeva up to Saraswatī, our Guru Maharaja. Propaganda within that era, we are to revere, accept and preach.
“The angle of vision of our Guru Maharaja, Saraswatī, about Śrī Chaitanyadev. How Śrīla Saraswatī Ṭhākur has seen with his divine eyes; it is available here, we are concerned with that. From Chaitanya to Saraswatī; our Guru Maharaja, the guru parampara, the whole is covered, considered, cultured, and being preached or spread. That is chaitanya-sāraswata. Hare Krishna!
“Chaitanyānuga; Saraswatī. Another meaning: Saraswatī means "vani" "vakya" "words" "expressions" of Chaitanya. Chaitanya-Vāṇī, the real preaching, instructions of Śrī Chaitanyadev, his words; that may be the meaning here.
Chaitanya Vāṇī, really, from Chaitanya to Saraswatī. The culture of Bhāgawatam as viewed by Śrī Chaitanyadev, and his followers, up to Saraswatī. That is the object, the theme of our life, the purpose of our life. Our paricaya, our identification, nature, acquaintance is there. Who are we? We are so and so. They are our masters, we are servants of that group. We want to revere them, to propagate them, to ask people to accept them. Our whole concern is there: chaitanya-sāraswata, sāraswata-chaitanya. Gaur Haribol! Gaur Haribol! Gaur Haribol!
“What distinguishes chaitanya sāraswata? How it is modified by Śrī Chaitanyadev; the line of Bhāgawatam; what he has spread. Amongst all the acharyas, Śrī Chaitanyadev preached about love divine. Clearly and in a developed way, in a scientific way, only Śrī Chaitanyadev preached the fifth end of life; that Bhāgwat Prema. The end of life is to acquire love, affection, attraction for God or Godhead, for Krishna. Krishna is the Lord of Love, and he is the innermost conception of Godhead. The highest conception of Godhead is Krishna, and jīva can have relation with him, that of love. And that is the highest achievement of all souls ever known, come to the world.
“So Chaitanya Sāraswata, not other Sāraswata. Chaitanyānuga Sāraswata; followers that belong to the school of Śrī Krishna Chaitanyadev, who believes in the consciousness of Krishna; the believers of Krishna consciousness.
“The flag fluttering high over the sky means to have control over the whole globe… so it flutters high to control, udgīta-kīrttir jaya-śrīṁ. bibhrat, singing the glory of its capturing the whole world by Śrī Chaitanya thought.
“And what is that? rūpānuga śrī, their object is to enter into that loving service which is directed by Śrī Rūpa in the camp of Śrī Rādhārāṇī [Rādhā Dāsyam]. That is the wealth of their heart; that is their aim, and they are following the method of Śrī Chaitanya. And their flag is flying over high in the sky on the banks of the Ganges in Govardhan. This is what is shown in this sloka, [the Maṭh Pranām of Śrī Chaitanya Sāraswat Maṭh].
“When I was [establishing this Maṭh] there was only a thatched cottage, and I, meself, was cleansing the clay and dirt with my own hand. At that time this was composed; came through me. I had some inner thought that Mahaprabhu is accepting my service from such a lower level; cleansing the clay and earth, all these things. But there is some future grant, it portends some future resourcefulness; this place will be of high order. He is accepting service from my own hand; that was my feeling at that time. I composed that, somehow it came. And one very tall bamboo was put here, its flag fluttering above. That gave some inspiration to me.
“udgīta-kīrttir, its glory is sung high in the sky. jaya-śrīṁ bibhrat, and it is holding the victorious color with it. jaya-śrīṁ bibhrat the victorious resourcefulness is floated by this fluttering of the flag which is so high, posted in the over-sky [outerspace] on the banks of the Ganges in Nabadwip; that it may have such potentiality.
[Urjjeshwarī is a name of Rādhārāṇī (Jayaśrī); urjja means resources “She commands all the resources, the shakti, the power; all the resources culminate in her”.]
“gaṅgā-taṭa-nikaṭa-navadvīpa-kolādri-rāje location of the place is Govardhan, Koladwip kolādri-rāje King of mountains; kolā, kolādri; mountain: on the banks of the Ganga it is glittering there. And what is the function there?
“yatra śrī-gaura-sāraswata-mata-niratā, Who are really followers, Gaura Saraswatī; from Śrī Gaurāṅga to Saraswatī has come that flow; they have got faith in that; gaura-gāthā gṛṇanti singing the glories of Śrī Gaurāṅga to the world. Those that are devoted in the cultivation of the grace of Gaurāṅga; gaura-sāraswata, from Gaurāṅga that came through, interpreted by Saraswatī, our gurudeva, Śrīla Bhakti Siddhānta Saraswatī Ṭhākur. Gaura-Sāraswata, who engages himself fully in that opinion, that idea and thought, mata-niratā gaura-gāthā gṛṇanti, and that quality, glorification of Śrī Gaurāṅga, that flow of gaura-gāthā they are singing here.
“And what is their object, the aim of their life? śrīmad rūpānuga śrī-kṛtamati: rūpānuga bhajan, madhura rasa; Rādhā anugatā, Krishna bhajan; that is their aim. With that intention they are singing this saṅkīrtan of Śrī Gaurāṅga; and their aim is there; nityaṁ rūpānuga śrī-kṛtamati-guru-gaurāṅga-rādhā-jitāśā, their only hope is that one day they will go be able to reach the destination; they will be able to serve Śrī Rādhā and her beloved. That is the aim, and Gaura Saṅkīrtan. Their object is to attain their highest position in the rupānuga service, in the camp of Rādhārāṇī. Their mentality is there and the activity is here.
“In a very dignified way, the flag is fluttering there, high up in the sky, from the Ganges on the summit of the Govardhan Girirāja. And I was then only in a cottage. I wrote this in 1943 or so. And now it is 1983; forty years ago that came through my pen.
“So your aim at present, that this will be here, and you will try to distribute this gauravānī from here to the world, that is divine arrangement; I keep it on my head.
“Activity under the guidance of Śrī Gaurāṅga. And our object is in the camp of Rādhārāṇī, Rādha Govinda's service, guided by Śrī Rūpa Goswami (the line of Śrī Rūpa). Who are we? From Chaitanyadeva to Saraswatī Goswāmī, that flow of instruction is our base, and and our stay is in Govardhan, aparādha-bhañjanera pāṭa. That was the idea.
“It came from the inner compartment of my heart and I produced in that way. My hope, some mystic hope, or ambition, whatever you may say, that mystic something made me to write this.
“Who made me write this and who supplied this thought in Bhaktivinode Ṭhākur [his prophecy] he will guide you. It may not come by the lips to the ear but heart transaction, tene brahma hṛdā ya ādi-kavaye transmission from heart to heart; to Brahma, Krishna gave the first knowledge to Brahma, the creator, through the heart. Brahma Veda was given to Brahma, creator of the world, through heart, inspiration, not coming through the lip to the ear. Bhāgawatam says, this transmission, the transaction, the flow of the heart, heart to heart, otherwise, ear cannot catch, the lips cannot pronounce.” — Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāja
Śrīla Guru Mahārāja thematically emphasizes, quality over quantity, substance over form and formality. This is epitomized in the following sloka of Śrīla Rūpa Goswāmī’s Upadeśāmṛta (9).
vaikuṇṭhāj janito varā madhu-purī tatrāpi rāsotsavād
vṛndāraṇyam udāra-pāṇi-ramaṇāt tatrāpi govardhanaḥ
rādhā-kuṇḍam ihāpi gokula-pateḥ premāmṛtāplāvanāt
kuryād asya virājato giri-taṭe sevāṁ vivekī na kaḥ
Śrīla Guru Mahārāja: “This sloka reveals the gradation, the hierarchy, how things develop… self-giving; according to the degree of self-surrendering, and the development of ānandam from deep to deeper to the deepest”.
‘Superior to Vaikuṇṭha is Maṭhura, for there Śrī Krishna manifests his birth pastime [enabling vātsalya rasa and subsequently, sakhya rasa]. Superior to Mathura is Vrindavan where Krishna enjoys the Rāsa Līlā [madhura rasa]. Better still is Govardhan, the plane of even more confidential Pastimes of Divine Love. But best of all is Rādhā Kunda. It holds the supreme position because it is overflowing with the nectar of the highest kind of Krishna Prema (mahābhāva-svarūpā śrī-rādhā-ṭhākurāṇī). What discerning person, knowing the substance of Krishna consciousness, would not aspire for Rādhā Dāsyam, the divine service of Śrī Rādhikā at Rādhā Kunda, situated at the foothill of Giri Govardhan?’
He further elucidates, “Rādhā Kunda is Rādhārāṇī represented as liquid: to bathe there is to transform oneself completely; to identify exclusively with the interest of Rādhārāṇī.”
Śrīla Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāja announced at the installation of the Deities in our Soquel, California Ashram, “We are so fortunate that Girirāja Govardhan has very mercifully given us shelter at His lotus feet. And we are even more fortunate that Girirāja Govardhan has given us shelter beneath his divine hidden form in Koladwip, Nabadwip. And we feel that Girirāja has also manifested here in this Soquel Ashram. For this reason the divine name of Their Lordships has come down from the divine abode: Śrī Śrī Guru-Gauranga Gāndharvikā-Giridhārī.
“Gāndharvikā is always satisfying Krishna with her dancing and singing. Gāndharvikā-Giridhārī's pastimes of singing and dancing take place in the Rāsa Līlā. Beyond that, Gāndharvikā is satisfying Krishna in Rādhā Kunda. The pastimes in Rādhā Kunda are even more beautiful and satisfying to Krishna. All the hidden pastimes of Krishna are happening around Girirāja Govardhan, especially in Rādhā Kunda, rādhā-kuṇḍam ihāpi gokula-pateḥ premāmṛtāplāvanāt. There the Divine Couple are always relishing the supreme taste of their pastimes in a variety of ways.
“We are so fortunate that our Grand-Guru, Śrīla Bhakti Siddhānta Saraswatī Ṭhākur, showed Śrī Śrī Guru Gaurāṅga Gāndharvikā-Giridhārī to be his worshipable Deities in the pastimes of his bhajan life. Today those Deities have manifested here. We are feeling so fortunate and very comfortable that this is our home. That is our feeling.”
With the highest fidelity and utmost dignity, upholding its principles, and personifying its substance, Śrīla Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Mahārāja carried the flag of Śrī Chaitanya Sāraswat Maṭh around the world twenty-four times, nourishing the aspiring servitors with Śrīla Bhakti Rakshak Śrīdhar Dev-Goswāmī’s SuSiddhānta and Vāṇī-sevā (vilasatu hṛdi nityam bhaktisiddhānta-vānī).
May the aspiration for that service forever play in our hearts. Wherever the location, whatever the nomenclature, to the degree that we are faithful servitors, under the guidance of Guru and Vaishnav, dedicating ourselves to this divine conception, one will detect the presence of Śrī Chaitanya Sāraswat Maṭh in all of its dignity and pristine glory.
— Bhakti Sudhir Goswami
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