Srila Govinda Maharaja on Sri Govinda Kunda Boat ride March 2004.
Note: an audio version of this discussion is available HERE
Honorable Vaishnavas, devotees, gentlemen and ladies, in your presence I feel very fortunate to be here. Sripad Bhakti Kanan Giri Maharaja and Sripad Bhakti Ananda Sagar Maharaja have previously asked me to tell you all about my relationship with Srila Prabhupada. Therefore, in order to serve Srila Guru Maharaja (Srila Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar Dev Goswami Maharaja), I will try to do this for their satisfaction. We are conditioned souls with very tiny capacities and Gurudeva and the Vaishnavas want something of us. In this way we receive their well-wishing and the transcendental wave will enter us. That is my strength. Srila Guru Maharaja, Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada and all the affectionate devotees, their mercy is my only wealth. What can I do by myself? What can I do by myself in this mundane world? This mundane universe is composed of many planes, and in all of them the mundane illusion is very strong. We are very tiny jiva souls. By the will of Krsna everything is possible and also by the will of the devotees Krsna will do the impossible in order to fulfill their desires.
Krsna wants the conditioned souls to willingly serve them with their own freedom. This is why Krsna will never take away our freedom. When the jiva souls are emanating from the Tattastha Shakti (the marginal potency) there Krsna is giving freedom to the individual souls. An example of freedom is the tongue. Through the tongue I can taste many things, some bitter, some sweet, some salty, everything can be tasted through the tongue. This is one freedom that I have. Krsna has given freedom to the jiva souls to taste the ecstasy, the four kind of rasas, and entering the eternal abode of Krsna where they can freely serve Him and His associates. Krsna is hoping that we will choose to serve Him, but He is not forcing. If He was to force, then that would interfere in the jiva souls freedom of choice. Most of the jiva souls emanating from the Tattastha Shakti immediately choose the service of the Lord. Three quarters of the jiva souls choose the spiritual world of service. However, one fourth, unfortunately become attracted by maya or lordship over the material energy. When they are looking at maya they are thinking that they are greater than the illusion.
Naturally, after the ego is attracted by maya, the soul will be drawn to a mayik loka, like this world. When these souls are drawn into the illusory environment of maya Krsna does not want that. But Krsna would never interfere with their freedom. He wants them to come of their own accord and discover their real happiness in His service. Ecstasy, happiness, charm, beauty, everything… is in Krishna’s abode. From time to time, Krsna sends his associates in order to assist the fallen jiva souls. His associates come to this plane in order to help the fallen souls rediscover their true wealth and place in His abode. Krsna himself is also coming whenever the jiva souls, who are acting under the influence of maya, begin to behave cruelly with the tendencies of the asuras, then Krsna himself will come in order to protect the sadhus and teach the jiva souls. He comes to reestablish religious principles. Sometimes he sends the avatars or his incarnations. But only one fourth of the jiva souls are living in the illusory environment. But most of the jiva souls, three fourths, they are always getting that happiness of the transcendental world. When Krsna himself comes, there is no problem because Krishna’s will is playing over this mundane world rescuing the jiva souls. But afterwards, circumstances will change making the devotional environment less favorable so Krsna sends powerful devotees, his associates, to help the jiva souls.
Through these associates of Krishna, these devotees, we are getting transcendental knowledge. This is the cyclic action. During the good times, many associates are coming. Just look at the last five hundred years at the great souls like Rupa Goswami, Sanatana Goswami, as well as other Acharyas came here to this mundane world and they preached Krsna consciousness. But afterwards the illusory environment again reasserted itself and the jiva souls were again dragged into maya. And what these souls preached then was misinterpreted by the apasampradaya, the imitationists. That we can see why Srila Bhakti Vinode Thakura came to clean the sampradaya of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Srila Bhakti Vinode Thakura composed many songs and wrote many books for the benefit of the conditioned souls and distributed Krsna nama, the Hare Krsna Mahamantra. His preaching was very sober and he tried in many different ways to give something substantial to the jiva souls for their benefit. And lastly, it can be said he gave us Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Prabhupada. Srila Bhakti Siddhanta who was Krsna Shakti preached with his full power all over India and even tried to preach all over the world. And within a few years he opened 64 preaching centers in India.
Later we have seen how the Indians were able to catch Krsna consciousness while the Western world still had no knowledge of Krsna consciousness. Srila Bhakti Siddhanta tried to preach in the Western world the movement of Krsna consciousness. He sent three of his most knowledgeable disciples to England, where they tried to preach in many ways in London and in Germany. But these attempts were not very fruitful. Actually they preached Krsna consciousness but unfortunately these disciples became converted in certain ways by the foreigners culture. This was not the intention of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur. Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarawati Thakur showed his unhappiness by later proclaiming that if anyone can purely represent Krsna consciousness in the Western world he will give his full blessings. At that time Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada was a householder, but Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarawati Thakur felt that anyone could get his blessings no matter what ashram or external qualification if they only desired to preach Krsna consciousness purely and with no compromises.
In 1947 I knew Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada as a householder. He was always trying to preach to others in order to break their egoistic mentalities and bring them to Krsna consciousness. At that time I was surprised that a householder with little money was doing what the sannyasis and brahmacaris were not. At that time I was the same age as his son, 17 years old, and I remember that Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada was bereft of friends in his preaching work other than Srila Guru Maharaja. Whenever he would write something, a letter, a pamphlet, a book, he would show it to Srila Guru Maharaja and myself. In 1944, he published a magazine called Back to Godhead but their was no one there to distribute it. So all the copies remained in his office. At that time, Srila Guru Maharaja and I were living in the same house with him, and I had just joined the movement, so he asked me, Gaurendu (my name at that time was Gaurendu Das Brahmachari), can you distribute these magazines? And I replied, Yes, I can distribute them.
Srila Guru Maharaja gave me the order that I should learn Srimad Bhagavad Gita in the mornings from Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada. So I studied Bhagavad Gita with Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada. At that time I was only distributing three books, one was Srila Guru Maharajas Sri Prappanajivanamritam. But when I got the Back to Godheads which were published in English, I felt very proud that I, an illiterate village boy should get the opportunity to distribute an English magazine. When I went door to door, if anyone would give me four paisa then I would give them a Back to Godhead, in this way, the first Back to Godhead distribution program started. So because there was no one there other than myself to distribute Back to Godhead, I was allowed to be the first distributor. Over the years my relationship with Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada developed very nicely. Every morning I would take breakfast with him and then he would give Bhagavad Gita class. Every morning I would come at eight oclock and I would find him eating four puris with sugar and some potato subji. Srila Guru Maharaja and I would like to have muri (puffed rice for breakfast). He would always tell me, You are simply cheating the stomach. Muri is nothing. There is only air inside. It is simply cheating the stomach. You must take something more substantial, like some chapati. But we always responded, We are happy to take muri.
During the riots of 1947, Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada was trying to get his godbrothers to go with him to convince Mahatma Gandhi personally of the need to renounce his political life and take up the banner of Mahaprabhu. Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada also was writing letters to Gandhi, many letters, trying to convince him that he was misguided, sometimes even challenging his ethics (How can you take this title Mahatma?). Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupadas chemical laboratory was in Allahabad, and his business notoriety allowed him to have personal exchanges with many big personalities of the day like Dr. Radhakrishnan, Gandhi, and many others. I cant remember the exact history but I think the only reason Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada was unable to personally go and try to convince Gandhi, was the fact that Gandhi had changed his travel plans and went somewhere else in Bengal instead due to more serious riot conditions. I have got the inspiration to preach from Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada. His enthusiasm and dedication in the preaching field I have seen. Nobody could understand that when he was a householder his future was to be a grand guru of the whole world. Only Srila Guru Maharaja was encouraging him in this way.
Once there was a great meeting of all the disciples of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur but Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada was not invited. I was very unhappy to see that. The others were thinking, He is just involved with business and family life. So what can he do. Maybe he published a magazine for three issues but then he stopped. What can he do in the preaching field? That was their idea. However what is Krishnas will nobody can say. Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada tried so much to maintain his family and business but he was unsuccessful. But how could he have been successful? He was a chemist and his laboratory was located under the floor that he gave Srila Guru Maharaja for use as a math or temple. This was his house. He gave us the first floor and downstairs he used for his laboratory. He invented and marketed many different medicines. But when the customers came, he would preach Krsna consciousness instead of doing business. Many of the customers left thinking, What business does he really want to do? He was always preaching Krsna consciousness. His nature was very strong and he was very fearless.
People like Gandhi and Nehru were at the very top of society in India but he did not care. He is teaching them. They are not accepting his teaching but he doesnt care. Again and again he is pushing Krsna consciousness, hammering Krsna consciousness, into them. Thus, he became a failure in every way in his business life. Seeing this, his sister, Pishima, told him, Brother, it is not your life this business life. You go and preach Krsna consciousness. That is your life. Then Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada said to her, But who will look after my family. Something has to be done for them. His sister replied, We shall see what can be done. You just go and preach. His sister was very nice and he got some inspiration to preach from her. This same sister would always invite Srila Guru Maharaja into her house whenever he was traveling to Calcutta. She would always prepare so many things for him. Preparations of unbelievable quality. Her cooking was of the quality of mother Satchi. I myself am not a bad cook, but after trying many times I could never compete with the cooking of Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupadas sister, Pishima. I remember in 1973 at the Mayapur inauguration ceremony, I tasted a preparation of Pishima and was astounded, to this day I remember it.
Anyway, when Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada made the decision to take sannyasa, he approached Srila Guru Maharaja, who was his intimate and long time friend and advisor. When Srila Guru Maharaja and I were living in Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada’s house in Calcutta, I remember them staying up every night until 2:00 in the morning. Swami Maharaja Prabhupada always wanted to discuss mayavada and sahajjiyavada. The talks between Swami Maharaja Prabhupada and Srila Guru Maharaja were very high and always many scriptural references were cited. For the 12 years we lived with Swami Maharaja Prabhupada, these discussions occurred every day. He would leave his business, he would leave his family, he would leave everything just to sit with Srila Guru Maharaja from 9:00 until the wee hours of the morning. And after taking sannyasa, what he accomplished, everyone knows. How he came to the West and preached is common knowledge. But when he returned to Nabadwip, after first preaching in the West, Srila Guru Maharaja told him that he should open a center in Mayapur. But Swami Maharaja Prabhupada stated that he didn’t want to create any quarrels with his godbrothers in Mayapur, mainly because they were very envious of him. I would rather make my center in Calcutta or Vrindavan or somewhere else where they are not. But Srila Guru Maharaja said, No, in Mayapur you must make your center. Mayapur is Mahaprabhu’s birthplace and our Gurudeva – Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur said that his disciples must live to glorify Mayapur Dhama. Now you have that chance. You must do it.
Then Swami Maharaja Prabhupada said, who will give me the land? To which Srila Guru Maharaja replied,” I shall arrange it”. So Srila Guru Maharaja coordinated with one of his godbrothers to find some land and then he sent me to arrange for the purchase of the land which was one acre. After that they constructed one building and after its completion, Swami Maharaja Prabhupada held and inauguration ceremony to which Srila Guru Maharaja and I attended. Perhaps you’ve seen that photo of Swami Maharaja Prabhupada, myself and Srila Guru Maharaja. Swami Maharaja Prabhupada and Srila Guru Maharaja are seated on the same vyasasana and I am in the lower corner chanting Sri Sri Prabhupada-Padma-Stavakah. After they both gave a lecture, then they pushed me to say something. The meeting was a very big meeting. I said, In the same vein, who can I tell and who would believe that today, that this Swami Maharaja Prabhupada was Abhay Babu who was my very affectionate father figure in Calcutta and now he is a world guru. Now all over the world, the chanting of the Hare Krsna mahamantra has begun by his grace. He was a very small businessman and who could believe what he has become, but the will of Krsna is not something easy to understand. In this way, I gave my lecture and everybody was very happy.
It was the will of Srila Bhakti Vinode Thakura, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur and Srila Guru Maharaja that Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada should become a world Acharya. Srila Guru Maharaja always gave his full support and encouragement to the preaching activities of Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada except in the case of giving him sannyasa. But there was cause for this. Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada came to Srila Guru Maharaja and asked for sannyasa. He said that his sister Pishima had taken charge of his family and that he intended to take sannyasa and go to the West to preach. Srila Guru Maharaja said, I cannot give you sannyasa now because your family has become my family, since I have been living with you all these years. “If I give you sannyasa then your family will chastise me for taking you away when only one of your sons is married and the other two are still very young. So if you take sannyasa now, your relatives and family will attack me for what I have done. I have been your friend since the first time you came to the Gaudiya Math in 1930 and I think that now you should go somewhere and stay there six months, away from your family. Then I shall see the situation and then give you sannyasa”. But Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada was adamant and he forcefully replied, “No, I need sannyasa now”. So Srila Guru Maharaja said, “if you need sannyasa now, then go to Keshava Maharaja, for he is very brave and very desperate. I myself am not very brave nor desperate. But you are desperate and Keshava Maharaja is desperate so you should go to Keshava Maharaja. My sannyasa mantra I have given to Keshava Maharaja so you can get my mantra through Keshava Maharaja”.
Keshava Maharaja at that time was in charge of the Mayapur land holdings and he was a fearless man. Keshava Maharaja was even more fearless and desperate than Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada. Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada could never beat someone with his hands but Keshava Maharaja could. Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada liked to shout but Keshava Maharaja liked to beat. Actually Keshava Maharaja liked shouting too – shouting and beating both. During the time of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakura, Keshava Maharaja was a brahmachari in saffron cloth. At that time the entire city of Mayapur was against the preaching of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur. Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur made Keshava Maharaja his manager. Keshava Maharaja said that if you want me to be your manager than give me white cloth. So Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur gave him the white cloth of an ordinary man. Then Keshava Maharaja became the rent and tax collector and when people didn’t pay, he would beat them. Soon everybody became very fearful of Vinode Babu. When he was a bramhachari, his name was Vinode Bihari Brahmachari but after he took white cloth then he told everyone, Do not call me Brahmachari, you call me Vinode Babu. Babu means one who has control over the society. That is why he wanted to be called Vinode Babu. It was from this man that Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada went to take sannyasa. And after he took sannyasa, he stayed around the Radha Damodara temple for some time and then made his way to the West, everyone knows the story.
After coming to America, he tried for one year to preach Krsna consciousness. He was very determined that he had to preach and that this was his duty. And by Krishna’s will the desire of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur was realized through the sacrifices of Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada and now the whole world is chanting the Hare Krsna mahamantra.
In 1967 he returned to India after his successful preaching attempt in the West, he wrote all his wealthy godbrothers, but none of them would arrange a reception for him. He did not write to Srila Guru Maharaja because he knew Srila Guru Maharaja was poor, even poorer than he was and could not afford such a reception. But after his wealthy godbrothers ignored his letters, then Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada wrote a letter to me. He wrote me, Please ask Srila Guru Maharaja if I can stay in his math when I return to India. Tell him I will be bringing some new American brahmacharis. When I told Srila Guru Maharaja, he was very happy. And Srila Guru Maharaja immediately wrote him, I shall arrange everything here in our math, you come here. This was the first and only invitation for Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada to come and stay in India after preaching in the West. And so Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada came and stayed for a month and Srila Guru Maharaja said in front of all of us, after what he has done, if my Guru Maharaja was still present, it is inconceivable how nice a reception he would have arranged.
Therefore we must arrange a reception with all the citizens of Mayapur in attendance. So in my name go and invite all the citizens to come and honor Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada. Even the most egotistical pundits agreed to come because Srila Guru Maharaja’s name carried so much respect. So everyone came to the town hall in Navadwip where I arranged a very big meeting. It was the citizens reception for Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada. The whole Navadwip Sanskrit College and the big pundits and the goswamis and all the Acharyas, all of them, came when they heard the invitation was from Srila Guru Maharaja. I remember Achutyananda Prabhu and Ramanuja Prabhu singing bhajans and then playing a record they had made in America of Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada chanting. It was a very big and very beautiful reception, it was the first reception for Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada and his new Western disciples. This was Srila Mahaprabhu’s will and Srila Bhakti Vinode Thakura had also stated that within 50 years the men of the West and the East would come to Mayapur and chant the glories of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu together. And now we are seeing that with our own eyes. And all the devotees of the Western world by the mercy of Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada are proceeding to Mayapur.
From Russia, Holland, Hungary, China, Krsna consciousness has been spread everywhere. By the mercy of Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada this has happened. Srila Guru Maharaja said that Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada was a saktyavesa avatar. Otherwise, he could not do what he has done. Nityananda Prabhu himself, has bestowed the mercy of Mahaprabhu through Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada. That was Srila Guru Maharaja’s vision. And I am very fortunate to have had the association of such a grand Acharya in our sampradaya from my youngest age. Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada was very broad hearted and his lectures show that. In his lectures, he would say, Srila Sridhar Maharaja is my siksa guru. At the time Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada said this, his position in India and abroad was so very high but he declared very happily and broadly that Srila Sridhar Maharaja is my siksa guru. He said,” If you want to learn anything, go to him”. And in my absence you should go to him. And through that mercy of Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada we have gotten Sripad Sagar Maharaja, Sripad Giri Maharaja and so many other devotees who know that Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada said, If you want to learn anything of the finest subject matter, go to Srila Sridhar Maharaja and you will get that and even I consider him to be my siksa guru. He was very broad hearted. He was a very big guru at that time.
He didn’t need to say that. He had nothing to gain by saying it. Yet he declared it, that is because he is a Vaishnava. And when somebody asks me why am I praising Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada so much, I tell them that the religion of the Vaishnava is to praise the Vaishnava. I come here to New York but I was born an illiterate boy and only by some good sukriti did I come to Srila Guru Maharaja. And my good fortune was that Srila Guru Maharaja was my teacher. And for many years, I learned from Srila Guru Maharaja, Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada and many of their godbrothers. That is my good fortune. My enthusiasm for preaching I got from Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada.
I remember that when Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada was publishing Back to Godhead, after a few years, I began thinking that I should publish one in Bengali which I did publish under the name Sri Gaudiya Darshan. For 17 years I have continued publishing it. The first two copies of that magazine I sent to Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada and after examining them, Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada sent a letter to me. It was a very nice letter. I had forgotten about that letter until I saw it in an ISKCON publication documenting the letters of Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada. It was a very kind letter, a very good certificate for me.
In the letter, Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada says that in the future, I will be this and I will be that and he said that he thought that the magazine was not the work of Srila Sridhar Maharaja but rather the work of me. In this way he glorified me. This letter is very good for me as a certificate. This is the highest certificate. Thinking about these things of spirit makes me wonder what can be done with this mundane thing: New York City. Many of the devotees are trying to attract me with this New York City but by the mercy of Sripad Giri Maharaja I have got this opportunity to meet with you all. Otherwise, it was not my desire to come to this big apple. I remember when Sripad Sagar Maharaja said that I had to see this big apple. I told Sripad Sagar Maharaja that you have not seen the glory or the majesty of the abode of the Lord. So why are you telling me about some big apple? But if you see that beauty of Goloka Dhama through the eyes of the devotees, you will see that and you will faint. But what is the position of this mundane world. In the spiritual world, all the ladies, like Laxmidevi are dedicating themselves with their full serving mood to Krsna.
All the ladies are very beautiful and very affectionate with Krishna and Krsna is only their enjoyer. And everyone is fully serving Krishna with their full devotional mood and energy. There the trees can produce any fruit you wish of the highest quality and with no seeds. The water is like nectar. For the residents walking is like dancing and their chanting and singing is unbelievably beautiful. And Krsna is playing his flute. And everyone is reacting to the sound in a personal way. They think, Oh, Krsna needs something. Krsna needs milk. Krsna need yogurt. Krsna needs my association. Krsna wants to play in the Yamuna. And within their personal relationship they are always serving Him.
Many times in the past I would make a joke about how I would come to the West. Three times, Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada offered me a plane ticket to come. But at that time, Srila Guru Maharaja was sick and I told Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada that I could not come. Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada’s desire was that I should see with my own eyes his worldwide preaching mission. And then I could report what I saw to Srila Guru Maharaja and this would make Srila Guru Maharaja most happy getting this information from me. This is why he invited me to come. But I told him, No, Maharaja, it is not possible because I have to take care of Srila Guru Maharaja. Many times Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada expressed his desire that I come to the West, and through that desire I am now able to come to the West. But my joke was that I would come to the West and the plane would go whoosh! And the plane will fall from the sky. Before coming to the West, I had never used an airplane because I had no money. If ever I traveled I would go by second class train. So I would always joke that I cannot use airplanes because if the plane falls from the sky then I will die. And many accepted what I said as the truth although I was joking.
But after the time of Srila Guru Maharaja, many devotees had the desire that I come to the West – they knew of my relationship with Srila Guru Maharaja and Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada. For 42 years I stayed with Srila Guru Maharaja. Therefore I must have some established position no doubt. Also I like to answer any challenge to Krsna conscious Siddhanta, that quality I got from Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada and Srila Guru Maharaja. Also many have told me that if someone has even the smallest brain they can still get something substantial after 40 years of staying with such great personalities. So in this way I cannot say I haven’t got something from them. I have got something no doubt. But they are very big and I could never compete with them. I am just the servant of the servant of the servant of Srila Guru Maharaja and Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada.
The mercy of my guardians is very powerful. Just like the will of Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada was very strong. He came to America alone and with no friends and he spent a whole year trying to preach Krsna consciousness. But when I come here, hundreds of friends are here waiting for me and I come here very easily. And whose mercy is that? It is Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada’s. It is Srila Guru Maharaja’s mercy. It is like I said in Australia; Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada blasted a tunnel through the mountainous ego of the Western world. And I am simply walking through that tunnel.
Maybe you have heard the story of how Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur entrusted the Sampradaya to Srila Sridhar Maharaja. Maybe you heard that story of how Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur wanted Srila Sridhar Maharaja to sing the song Sri Rupa Manjari Pada before departing this mortal world. I remember Srila Guru Maharaja telling me that at that time he hesitated because he was not a good singer. But Srila Bhakti Siddhanta insisted that he alone sing. But the secretary of the Math was thinking Srila Sridhar Maharaja cannot sing. So he ordered another man to sing the tune sweetly. But when Srila Bhakti Siddhanta heard the tune of this other man, he became very angry and ordered him to stop. He said, Only Srila Sridhar Maharaja can sing this. Then all of the godbrothers of Srila Guru Maharaja saw and respected Srila Guru Maharaja’s position as that of Srila Rupa Goswami. That is the highest position in the Sampradaya. And all of the dear godbrothers of Srila Sridhar Maharaja, who Srila Sridhar Maharaja respected as well, like Keshava Maharaja, Tirtha Maharaja, Paramahamsa Maharaja, Bhagavat Maharaja, Madhu Maharaja, Goswami Maharaja, all of these men were senior to Srila Guru Maharaja. Yet they took sannyasa from Srila Guru Maharaja.
The sannyasa mantra is the highest mantra, more than diksha mantra. And that mantra they took from Srila Guru Maharaja. These men knew what was what; they knew that Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarawati Thakur had given the charge of the sampradaya to Srila Guru Maharaja. And Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada knew this. And immediately, he invited Srila Guru Maharaja into his house and gave an entire floor to him. And said, you stay here and preach. At that time, Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada was a businessman but he also knew the business of Krsna consciousness. He could not do mundane business very well, but transcendental business he knew very well. Therefore he took Srila Sridhar Maharaja into his house and also their relationship automatically grew very nicely. And I have gotten some remnants from them. When they were discussing their topics and something came into my ears and entered into my heart that was my enrichment.
That was my position. And now you are giving respect to me. But I am a fallen soul and an unqualified man. But that respect, it is not mine, it is my gurus respect. My Srila Guru Maharaja and Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada told me that the master of kama or wealth is Narayan, the master of women is Krsna and the master of pratistha or fame is the guru. And anything I may have is not my property; it is my Guru’s property. I have some property and that is my friendship with all the devotees all over the world. That is my property. And that property is coming through the mercy of my gurus – Srila Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar Dev Goswami Maharaja and Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja Prabhupada.