Srila Sridhar Maharaja and Srila Govinda Maharaja in Nabadwip 1985.
From an informal talk at the London Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math — 26 October 1993
Devotee: I want to know if it is okay to read the higher books by the Goswamis, describing the intimate pastimes of Radha and Krsna? Srila Govinda Maharaja: We are not doing that. In my forty two years with Srila Guru Maharaja (Srila Sridhar Maharaja) I never once heard him give permission for that to us. I know many of the books you are speaking of, very well; that is my position was somewhat different. Srila Guru Maharaja is a Paramahamsa Vaisnava and I was his personal servant up until about 1983, when I engaged some others for his personal service. At that time my seva responsibility increased in such a big way that I was unable to always serve Guru Maharaja in person, still I was always looking after his health. From 1973 I was treating Srila Guru Maharaja as his doctor. Guru Maharaja was so ill that all the doctors had said that no medicine could work in his body, and they were sure that within a few days or a week at most he would leave his body. Of course Guru Maharaja’s body is siddha body, but still all the most qualified doctors said that it was beyond their capacity to treat him.
Then one day, I was taking my bath and I was crying, and I called to Lord Siva, “Oh Lord Siva, you have said that I am your son, and really I feel that I am. You are the master of all medicine, so please my Lord give me some medicine for my Guru Maharaja.” After my desperate prayer I heard the name of a medicine, as if from the air. At first I thought I had mistaken the sound of the water from the shower as the name of the medicine, so I prayed again, “Please let me hear that name again so that I may be sure.” And again the sound of that medicine came. I knew that medicine because at that time I was practicing as a doctor of Homeopathy to the people, but until now I had never treated Srila Guru Maharaja. This was because firstly I was not always staying with Guru Maharaja, and secondly I had never considered myself to be a very good doctor. I was able to give some help to the poor but I felt that was as much as I could do. In any case after hearing the medicine from Lord Siva, I felt very free in my mind and I knew that Guru Maharaja will not leave us now. In the meantime Hari Charan Prabhu called me on the telephone, “Srila Guru Maharaja is sinking fast, he has no pulse, only a slight heartbeat, and no blood pressure.” I told him, as a matter of fact, “Prabhu, don’t worry, I have just now been given a medicine by Lord Siva, give it to Guru Maharaja and he will be cured. I am coming right away.”
I took the last train from Calcutta, which was late, and arrived at the Math at about 12 O’clock midnight, and when I arrived I saw Guru Maharaja sitting in his chair and taking Prasadam with his own hand. I asked Guru Maharaja, “What happened? Hari Charan Prabhu told me you were sinking.” And Guru Maharaja replied, “Yes, I was but Hari Charan Prabhu gave me the medicine that you told him, and now you can see.” Then his pulse came back and blood pressure became normal, and Guru Maharaja said, “From this day you will be my doctor.” All of Guru Maharaja’s doctors consented, but still I was thinking that Guru Maharaja is so great that somebody will chastise me, “Why are you not calling the doctor, why are you treating Guru Maharaja.” I was a little afraid and still I could not consider myself as a very good doctor. Then Guru Maharaja said, “All the doctors have already said that no medicine can work for me, so now happily you can treat me.” So I became Guru Maharaja’s doctor, and after that his main illness was chronic headache. He had suffered from the headache from the age of seventeen, and from twenty two it became very strong. When Guru Maharaja was suffering with this headache he could not eat anything. Only he would take water and constantly throwing up. Sometimes this would last for three days, sometimes six days, and sometimes up to twelve days. So I began researching, and finally I told Guru Maharaja, “Maharaja, now your headache must go. I can treat you and forever it will be gone.”
All the Homeopathic doctors who had treated Guru Maharaja had prescribed Nux-Vomica and administered it from 30 to MM potency, but none had had the desired effect. As they had all prescribed this same medicine, I concluded that Nux-Vomica must be Guru Maharaja’s constitutional medicine. I then went to an Allopathic doctor and asked him what is the dosage of Nux-Vomica mother tincture in Allopathy. It was eight drops maximum, so I decided to give Guru Maharaja five drops. When the first signs of the headache came I administered the five drops of the mother tincture and the headache was reduced to a standby position. I was confident that not this headache will go because previously no medicine could check it. The only other medicine that could give Guru Maharaja relief from his condition was Cafergot, a type of Ergotamine. Ergotamine is a very serious drug, and through taking this, all of Guru Maharaja’s health problems came, but it was the only relief possible before now. After about two or three hours again the headache came and so I gave Guru Maharaja 1/4th dose of the Ergotamine, and again after about another six hours the headache returned and I gave the Nux-Vomica. In this way alternating between the two, and then after twenty four hours I stopped the Ergotamine and continued with the Nux-Vomica along with Lord Siva’s medicine and two other homeopathic medicines I had selected. That headache was then completely gone forever and so in this way I was the doctor of Srila Guru Maharaja.
Still if I was not at the Math I left instruction that if the need arose then the Allopathic doctor should be called. Once Guru Maharaja was suffering from bronchitis and so Hari Charan prabhu called the top doctor of Nabadwip, the president of the district medical board. He came and after seeing Guru Maharaja prescribed some medicine. Guru Maharaja flatly told him, “No, I will not take your medicine. Govinda Maharaja is my doctor and only after he comes and says, will I take your medicine.” Then the doctor was very angry and said, “Then why did you call me?” Guru Maharaja said, “I did not call you. Hari Charan called you.” So the doctor replied. “Do not call me again if Guru Maharaja will not take my medicine then why should I come?” And angrily the doctor left. When I arrived, I asked Guru Maharaja what had happened and he told me the events, so I went to see the doctor. When I reached there the doctor was still angry and he said, “Oh, Govinda Maharaja you have come. It is not necessary to come. I shall not go with you. I shall not see Guru Maharaja as my patient.” I told him, “You must continue to see Guru Maharaja.” “Why should I come, he will not take my medicine, No!” I said, “He will not take your medicine that is the truth. That is because you yourself have said that your medicine will not work on him. I am calling you because I am not a very good doctor and you are the best doctor in all of Nabadwip, and if you will examine Guru Maharaja and give your diagnosis and prescription, then immediately I can understand from you medicine what homeopathic medicine I should give instead of that. This is why I call you, and you have love for Guru Maharaja, so you must come.” Then the doctor was quiet and said, “Yes, if that is the cause, then I shall come.” Anyhow this was the history.
I could not always stay with Guru Maharaja and so I engaged some others for that. But before that, Guru Maharaja had no other servant, and so we heard many things during our association. And not only that, it was the desire of Guru Maharaja to tell something about the pastimes of Krsna, of Radharani, and others, so we heard from him, but always he told us in a very cautious way. Never did he tell us to read Ujjvala-nilamani or similar books, but some things he told us, and I know many slokas from Ujjvala-nilaman, Vidagdha-maddhava, Lalita-madhava and others. That is, Guru Maharaja had me study katvya (sanskrit composition), and it is necessary to read these verses to understand the many varieties of sanskrit metre, language, beauty, alankara, etc. But I can say it is a special case, it is not for all. These books are no doubt the supreme books of our Sampradaya, but they are not for all and everyone’s reading. If anyone will read these books then they will come prakrta-sahajiya, and what will be for them? We don not want that our brother and sister will become that, so we must be very serious about our practicing life. You have left everything; your culture, your allegiance to country, community, your habits, everything you have left to try and practice Krsna Consciousness, so you will have to be serious. And you also need the result. To only practice, that is not your lfe’s goal you need the end result — Krsna Consciousness — and how will you get that result? It is necessary to first understand this. We are chanting Hare Krsna but we have not become perfect. Why? We must research this. Why is it not happening, why is the feeling not coming inside? If it were merely a cheating matter then it would be no problem.
But it is not a cheating matter, it is proven in the scriptures of India; the Veda, Vedanta, Upanisad, Purana, there is five thousand years of culture, there are munis and rsis who have all got the result. If you study the scriptures like Mahabharata you will say that all the advices are very good and you will see that so many have gotten the result. Then why are we not getting the result? The time has come for us to know why. Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja Prabhupada has come to this world, Srila Guru Maharaja has come, Srila Prabhupada Saraswati Thakura has come, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura — their books and everything are with us, all the property of Sri Chaitanyadev’s Sampradaya is with us, but it is not fruitful to us. Why is this? It is necessary to know. We do not want to cheat anybody, we want to do something good for others, and if we cannot do anything good then at least we will not do anything bad to others. So we must be serious about our practicing life, and that means we must follow the directives give by Srila Guru Maharaja. Before approaching the rasa-tattva, the serious high pastimes of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna, we must prepare ourselves for that, otherwise that will not give us the perfect sentiment.
In Srimard Bhagavatam is is written:
vikriditam vraja-vadhubhir idam ca visnoh
sraddhanvita nuirnuyad atha varnayed yah
bhaktim param bhagavati pratilabhy kamam
hyd-rogam asv apahinoty acirena dhirah
“If you hear the pastimes of Krsna with the Gopis, especially the Rasa-lila, etc., — which have been revealed in this mundane world by the grace of Krsna — if you hear with full faith from a bona-fide Guru or Vaishnava, and if you subsequently describe that to others, then you will get the topmost supreme devotion to Krsna. The conjugal play of Krsna with the Gopis in paramour Love — which He tastes in a variety of ecstasies — if you hear that, then your heart disease of lust will be expelled forever.”
So why is it that when we contemplate that Lila we are getting difficulty and we are going to a hellish position? This we must research carefully, and that knowledge has been given by Bhaktivinoda Thakura and especially by Srila Saraswati Thakura. Srimad Bhagavatam has declared that the lust will be driven out of the heart, and one’s consciousness will come to the level of Krsna-Prema — bodily consciousness will be forgotten and that will be overtaken by Prema consciousness. One must get that position. So why are we not getting it? Harinama is transcendental vibration non-different from Krsna. We are changing the Hare Krsna Mahamantra, but in which way shall we chant? The Mahamantra manifests Himself by appearing in you heart and dancing on your tongue, but if Harinama is transcendental, then I cannot chant with my mundane tongue. This is the truth, the mundane cannot play with the transcendental. Only when the mundane becomes itself transcendental can it come in touch with the transcendental Name. It is very clear, so somehow or another we must make ourselves transcendental. There is a very nice analogy of the moon. The moon is always in the sky but sometimes it is obscured by the clouds. Sometimes we can see it and sometimes we cannot. So the position of Harinama is like that. Like the cloud we are always coming and going, and according to our standard of chanting sometimes Harinama may reveal a glimpse and sometimes He will remain covered, then finally He will reveal himself in our Hearts. We are getting some result, and then we can say yes, it is the truth. But if we get nothing then we will become hopeless and think, why should I spend my time for that? But behind that we will have to see that the reason is because I cannot chant properly.
We can see that in every religion there is the chanting of the Lord’s Name in one form or another, so they cannot all be wrong. So we can understand that there is great benefit in chanting the Lord’s Name, there is no doubt. And further, in the scriptures of India it is recorded that if you chant this particular mantra then you will get this particular result, another mantra, another particular result. The ancient rsis and munis have discovered and proven this. A rsi is he who can discover something in the field of Vedic religion, a ‘Ph.D.’ of religion and a muni is he who is successfully practicing the Vedic religion. The rsis and munis are all chanting the Lord’s Name. Lord Siva, Lord Brahma, the demi-gods and gods, all are chanting the Lord’s Name. Then inside of the chanting, like the Nux-Vomica, there is the medicine for us. This Krsna-nam is a Form of Krsna, and if you chant the Holy Name of your Lord, then you must get the result.
So what is the process to chant properly? Sriman Mahaprabhu has given the three-fold process: Humility, Tolerance, and Honoring others. If we cannot chant properly then in some way we are not following that process. It is our ego. We are getting some result, no doubt, otherwise we would give up chanting Harinama. Also, Bhaktivinoda Thakur has said that if we cannot avoid the Namaparsadha, offence to the Name, and in all probability we will not be able to avoid, but if our intention is to try to avoid that, then we should pray to Harinama, “Oh Harinama, I cannot properly chant Your Holy Form, so please reveal Yourself within my heart and purify me.” And Bhaktivinoda Thakur has said, “Chanting, chanting, chanting, chanting — somehow, in any way, we need to get the attention of that Holy Name.” In this way we must get the desired result. I can say it is so. Otherwise if it were only cheating then I would have left it long ago.
My nature is like that. I do not want to cheat anybody. I cannot beg from anybody, and I cannot cheat others. But sincerely I say to you, that you will get the result; if you chant in this way, following the process of Mahaprabhu, and carefully guarding against making any offence to the Vaishnavas. Then we should pray to Sri Harinama, “Oh, my Lord you are transcendental, and I am living within the mundane world. I am jiva-soul, and so I am also transcendental by nature, but due to misuse of my finite independence, I am covered by illusion, covered by ego. Please be kind upon me. Oh Harinama, give me your mercy and reveal Yourself within my heart.” This must be our mood of prayer. I heard from Srila Guru Maharaja, that when his Godbrother, Srimad Parvat Maharaja was a young boy he used to live in the house next door to Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur. He told us, “In my young age, I heard every night from about 2 a.m. until the morning, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur would chant the Mahamantra on his rooftop, but you could hear that his chanting was more like calling, a heartfelt call to his Lord.” So we must be serious about our chanting, and we must make obeisance to Guru and Vaishnava. We should know our Guru as perfect, but who Sri Vaishnava, that we do not know, and to what extent one is a Vaishnava, that we also do not know. Someone may be twenty five percent, or only five percent, we do not know. But we should know that everybody has some good qualities whether they are demon or a saint, be who is Vaishnava we do not know. So we must give honor to all and be respectful to everyone and be surrendered to the will of God, then the Vaishnavas must be kind to us. That is the process given by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur. It may be hard to follow that, but if we really need the true result, then we must proceed only in this way. And proper adjustment will be constantly required. Suppose someone will kick my father in front of me. If I will tolerate that and be humble, then he may kill my father. My father is to be protected by me, I am his young son, and he is old and weak, therefore it is my duty to protect him. So what is humility and what is tolerance, everything will need to be adjusted. And Srila Prabhupada, Saraswati Thakur, has given that adjustment. He says that to just make some show of being very humble, lower than a blade of grass, will not be sufficient. Of course that is the fact, but some substance must be within your heart, and that must be the perfect substance. In every situation you must have some realization. Should someone abuse your Guru in your presence, then what will you do? If you think, “I am very humble and I shall be tolerant of him”, then that is not real trnad api sunicena. We find the proper response in the person of Sriman Mahaprabhu who preaches this philosophy. When Sridhar Swami, the original commentator of Srimad Bhagavatam, was insulted by Vallabhacaryya, then Mahaprabhu said, “Oh, you do not give recognition to Sridhar Swami? Who will not give respect to their Swami, they are a prostitute.”
prabhu hasi’ kahe, — “swami na mane yei jana
vesydra bhitare tare kariye ganana”
(Cc Antya 7.115)< Then everywhere there is harmony, some adjustment, and with full consciousness we shall try to chant the Hare Krsna Mahamantra. Under proper guidance we can read everything. We have a right to read, but that must be under the guidance of a perfect person who knows fully that plane, then no offence will come to us in any way, and we shall not become prakrta-sahajiyds. Knowledge just for its own sake has no real value and will not give us our real goal. I recently met one old friend in New York, he is a disciple of Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada and famous as a pandit. He is accumulating much scriptural knowledge and learning, and he is constantly questioning me, and all very taxing, complex, scriptural questions. Finally I told him, "Prabhu what are you doing? You are questioning me and I am giving you answers, but then are you proceeding or are you remaining in you present position? If you think you are getting any benefit from me, then why are you not coming with me? Why are you remaining here? Come forward with me, otherwise why spend my time?" I asked him, "Are you satisfied with my answers?" He replied, "Yes Maharaja, I am very satisfied." "Then what will you do with my answers? If that does not reflect in your life, then all your questions are useless, and all of my answers are useless to you. My time is wasted and your time is wasted. If you are satisfied with my answers then why are you not coming with me? The he replied, "Oh Maharaja, I have no money. I cannot come right now." We must be very serious in our practicing life, then I can give you a guarantee that you must get your goal. You are in the line of Srila Guru Maharaja, you have the mercy of Srila Swami Maharaja and Srila Prabhupada Saraswati Thakur, then you must get it, but you must be very conscious about your practicing life. I have seen many in our line who think they are proceeding very happily and practicing very happily, but they are not seeing themselves through my eyes. Once, I said, "What is devotion and what is emotion?" Are you under emotion or are you under devotion? You cannot see." Hearing this Sripad Janardana Maharaja said, "Oh Maharaja, you are chastising me." Actually it is not to chastise anyone, I want to be serious for everyone and for myself also. Already sixty four years of my life have passed and how much longer I shall live I do not know. If we are under emotion, then we must leave that and try to go to devotion. Heart and soul I am trying. Guru Maharaja gave me some service. Previously in the time of Guru Maharaja whatever service I did he would digest. If I did right of if I did wrong, he is digesting that and my service is getting some position, but now all my good and bad is coming to me, and so I must be even more serious. And all the devotees are really very good, otherwise why are they coming in the line of Krsna Consciousness? Then I must be serious for them also. I must teach them, "Please come this way, don't go that way." That is my duty given by Srila Guru Maharaja, and if I can do that seriously and with all sincerity, then they will get the result, I will get the result and visvam purnam sukhdyate -- the whole world will be benefited.