Srila Guru Maharaja, the illustrious Srila Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar Dev Goswami Maharaja, appeared on the Krishna Navami day of the month of Damodar in the year 1895. This is the day of the appearance of the son of Nityananda Prabhu, Sri Virachandra Prabhu. Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada appeared in this world, also on the Krishna Navami day of the Vaishnav month of Hrishikesh, a day known as Sri Nandotsav, because it is the day after Sri Krishna Janmastami that Nanda Maharaja had a grand festival to celebrate the appearance of his Divine Son. Srila Prabhupada appeared on that date in 1896. When two or more planets appear in the sky at the same time, it is referred to as a conjunction in astrology. So we can say that there is certainly a Divine Conjunction of these great Acharyas in the Gaudiya Vaishnava line of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur, who are ever combining their endeavors to save the conditioned, fallen souls of this world. They may be seen as coming together, as did Sri Gauranga and Sri Nityananda, to so kindly distribute the highest conceptions of Mahaprabhu’s teachings, known only to his true devotees who follow in the line of Srila Rupa Goswami.
Whoever has had contact with these two great personalities, through their divine presence and teachings, must be known as most fortunate, and his future is indeed bright, his path back to home, back to Godhead being illuminated by these great souls. We have often referred to the occasion when Srila Guru Maharaja commented that Srila Prabhupada was a shaktya-avesh avatar, a great personality empowered to directly represent the Lord. At that time, of course Srila Guru Maharaja’s most prominent follower and disciple, Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev Goswami Maharaja, was present. And Srila Govinda Maharaja immediately astutely asked Srila Guru Maharaja, “He is whose shaktya-avesh avatar?” Srila Guru Maharaja had not openly declared that because he did not like to always directly reveal his conclusions. Sometimes he humbly left things unsaid, or even hid his deep realizations. But when asked, Srila Guru Maharaja said, “Of Sri Nityananda Prabhu.”
When we see how much Srila Prabhupada did to spread Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s mission all over the world, so liberally giving out His divine mercy as if it were water for the souls of this world who are dying of thirst in the desert of Kali yuga, we are immediately reminded of the unlimited mercy that Sri Nityananda Prabhu had when he roamed throughout Bengal, entreating everyone to take Mahaprabhu’s Name and Mercy. And we can also see the tendency, that desire to glorify the presence of Sri Nityananda Prabhu, that Srila Prabhupada showed as he installed Sri Sri Nitai Gauranga deities throughout the world. Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur had generally installed deities of Sri Gauranga and Sri Sri Radha Govinda. Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada primarily installed Gour Nityananda Prabhu on one altar, and Sri Sri Radha Krishna on another, in his temples.
As Sri Nityananda Prabhu asked everyone to chant the Names of Gauranga, Srila Prabhupada went alone to the West, aboard the freighter Jaladuta, with virtually no money, to spread the mission of Sri Gauranga. On board that ship he wrote in Bengali poetry: “Dear Krishna, You will attain the great fortune (of helping Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur), and when You obtain this fortune, Radharani will be pleased with You. I emphatically say this to You. “Sri Siddhanta Saraswati is very dear to Sri Saci Suta (Mahaprabhu, the son of mother Saci) and his service to Krishna is without comparison. He is a great mahanta-guru, the most powerful in the world. He is the giver of Krishna-bhakti to people of many different countries. “He has a very strong will that in all the places of the Western world Lord Gauranga’s Name will be chanted. In all the towns and villages of the world, from all the oceans and rivers, everyone should chant the Name of Krishna. That will give us great joy and there will be a great victory all over the world by the Supreme mercy of Sri Chaitanya. All the people of the world who are now miserable being contaminated by maya (or the illusory energy) will become happy and the desire of the Vaishnavas will be fulfilled. You have given me this order to perform this duty but I have no qualification and I am extremely fallen and insignificant. That is why the desire for Your mercy has awakened in my heart. Today, You are the most important person in my life. If I can get this power from You then I will obtain this service to my Gurudeva and my life will be fulfilled. By attaining this service I will be happy and perhaps I will also get a connection with You which is a rare fortune.”
Srila Guru Maharaja deeply appreciated the mission that Srila Prabhupada was empowered to spread. He himself always glorified Srila Prabhupada’s endeavor, and through Srila Guru Maharaja’s strong influence and leadership, helped the Gaudiya Vaishnavas in India, especially the followers of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur, to recognize and appreciate the work done by Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada on behalf of his spiritual master.
Srila Guru Maharaja himself had a divine communion with Sri Nityananda Prabhu. Once when he was in Ekachakra, the place where Sri Nityananda Prabhu appeared in this world, he prayed for Sri Nityananda Prabhu’s mercy. At that time, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur had left this world, and Srila Guru Maharaja was living in separation of his divine master, absorbed in his own bhajana, the solitary absorption in the internal worship of the Lord. He was living in Nabadwip, and he was reluctant to accept disciples, feeling himself to be unworthy of that responsibility. But when he prayed to Lord Nityananda Prabhu, he felt the direct presence of the Lord. And the Lord communicated, “You have so much of my mercy, and yet you want more. You must distribute that mercy to others.” From that time on, there was a change in Srila Guru Maharaja. He began to take a more middle course.
Although he still showed the reluctance of a humble Vaishnava to put himself in a prominent position, he gave his association to those who were attracted to his fine theistic conclusions and also began accepting disciples. Srila Guru Maharaja himself is a great mine of Vaishnava conclusions, and is most dear to Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur, who appreciated him as a fit person to properly present his divine teachings and the deep realizations of the line of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the great Acharyas, or teachers. He openly expressed that on many occasions, and when departing from this world, Srila Saraswati Thakur showed his appreciation for Srila Guru Maharaja by directly empowering him with the responsibility of caring for and protecting the line of Srila Rupa Goswami. Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur did this when he asked to hear Sri Rupa Manjari Pada from Srila Sridhar Maharaja’s own mouth. Many of the true followers of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur witnessed this delegation of responsibility, and felt that he chose Srila Guru Maharaja to embody the true conclusions of Srila Rupa Goswami; from that time on, they themselves sought the shelter of Srila Guru Maharaja.
Previously, I mentioned that the mercy of Srila Prabhupada and that of Srila Guru Maharaja is like that of Sri Nityananda Prabhu and Sri Gaurangadev. Srila Govinda Maharaja himself showed that sentiment when he declared that he had the association of Sri Nityananda Prabhu and Sri Gauranga in the persons of Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja and Srila Guru Maharaja, Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar Dev Goswami. We see in the persons of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Guru Maharaja the presence of these two most merciful Lords, who are ever blessing this land. And we aspire to follow in their footsteps as their disciples. Srila Guru Maharaja often remarked that without the mercy of Sri Nityananda Prabhu, it is not possible to have the mercy of Sri Gauranga. He said that for one who aspires to enter into the service of Sri Sri Radha Govinda, it is only possible if one receives Sri Nityananda Prabhu’s blessings.
As Srila Narottam das Thakur declares, nitaiyer koruna habe, braje radha krishna pabe: “Only when one obtains the mercy of Lord Nityanada can one approach Radha and Krishna in Vrindaban.” In the Sanskrit poetry of his Sri Sriman Nityananda-dvadashakam, Srila Guru Maharaja himself concludes, “Lord Gauranga personally embodies the madhura rasa of Sri Sri Radha Krishna and is always relishing that mood. But, O Nityananda Prabhu, if one does not worship Your lotus feet, then all devotion and prayers meant for that highest worship become false and illusory. I worship Sri Nityananda Chandra, who kindly bestows mercy to the most fallen souls by giving them the shelter of Sri Gaurangadev.” Sri Raghunath das Goswami showed us the proper path. Many times he had tried to escape from the bondage of his family life, and join Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in Jagannath Puri, but he was always unsuccessful and forcefully constrained by his parents. They even employed many guards to watch over him and see that he did not run off to join Lord Gauranga. But when he worshipped Nityananda Prabhu’s lotus feet at Panihati, and also served his followers, then Raghunath Das was granted Nityananda Prabhu’s blessings and was able to join Mahaprabhu and be granted the association of Sri Swarup Damodar by Mahaprabhu Himself.
It is our mood that Srila Prabhupada, in guiding his disciples to the lotus feet of Srila Guru Maharaja, gives them the entrance into the deep mood and worship of Sri Gaurangadev that is expressed in Sri Sriman Nityananda-dvadashakam by Srila Guru Maharaja. That deep feeling and absorption in the mood of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is embodied in the beautiful expressions and conclusions presented by Srila Guru Maharaja. Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada himself appreciated that quality of Srila Guru Maharaja, and kindly gave his fortunate followers further entrance into his most worshipable ideals, and blessed them with the continuation of their development under the guidance of Srila Guru Maharaja. Now that Srila Guru Maharaja has left this world, as has Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, we are reminded of how fortunate we are to have come under the shelter of Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev Goswami Maharaja, who is so dear to both of them.
He himself is like a son of both Srila Guru Maharaja and Srila Prabhupada. Naturally, he is the son of Srila Guru Maharaja, being his personally chosen successor and the very embodiment of his high realizations and conclusions. But also, like Sri Virachandra Prabhu, the son of Sri Nityananda Prabhu, Srila Govinda Maharaja is like the son of Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada himself publicly declared Srila Govinda Maharaja to be his son. Sri Virachandra Prabhu was so merciful that it is said that he exceeded his Divine Father in liberally distributing mercy to everyone, whether they were qualified or not. We also see that Srila Govinda Maharaja cannot restrain himself. Whatever the cost, even to the detriment of his own health or well-being, he must spend every amount of energy he has to spread the conclusions of Srila Guru Maharaja to every corner of the world. In that sense, he is like Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, and it is perhaps this similarity, along with the loving relationship that they had, that made Srila Prabhupada see Srila Govinda Maharaja as his son. And because he always presents so clearly the line of Srila Rupa Goswami, he is the true successor of Srila Guru Maharaja.