His Divine Grace
Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Goswami Maharaja
On the new moon day of the month of Magha (February) 1921, Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvama Maharaja took his divine birth in a highly educated and respected brahmana family in the village of Tiwaripura, in the Buxar district of Bihar, India. He was given the name Sriman Narayana. His parents were devout Vaishavas of the Sri Sampradaya, and from the time he was a small baby, Sriman Narayana was regularly taken by his father to recitations of the Ramayana, which he grew to love.
In February 1946, he met his gurudeva, Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Keshava Gosvama Maharaja, and his life of complete and exemplary dedication to the path of Krishna-bhakti began. Upon taking harinama and diksa initiation from his gurudeva, he received the name ‘Sri Gaura Narayana. He accompanied his gurudeva on his extensive preaching tours throughout India, rendering him personal service and also actively assisting him in preaching. This included regularly hosting the thousands of pilgrims attending the yearly Navadvipa-dhama parikrama and Vraja-mandala parikrama, which, years later, would draw thousands of devotees from the world over.
Sri Gaura Narayana was known for his respectful and affectionate dealings with all Vaishnavas, in particular with his two Godbrothers, Sri Sajjana-sevaka Brahmacari and Sri Radhanatha dasa*. These three stalwart Vaishavas of the highest calibre assumed responsibility for their gurudeva’s mission in a mood of harmony and cooperation that would last the duration of their lives. In 1952, all three were given sannyasa, and Sri Gaura Narayana became Sri Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvama Maharaja. In his early matha life, he met Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the world famous preacher of Gaudiya Vaishavism. In the future, he would render superlative service to Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada by nurturing the tender seeds of bhakti in the hearts of so many of his dear disciples and followers around the globe.
In 1954 Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvama Maharaja was given responsibility for Sri Keshavaji Gaudiya Matha in Mathura. Under him, the matha flourished, as the local residents of Vraja came to experience the consummate care of one who is truly an eternal resident of Vraja. His gurudeva had instructed him to translate the writings of prominent Gaudiya Vaishnavas into Hindi, a task he assiduously assumed throughout his entire life and which resulted in the publication of nearly fifty Hindi texts. These invaluable masterpieces are currently being translated into the major languages of the world.
Since his heart brimmed with the most profound realizations of Radha and Krishna’s pastimes, which automatically include all tattva-siddhanta, it was radiant with the deepest affection. Those who heard his harikatha felt supreme protection from the onslaught of material miseries and experienced a deeper commitment to the path of bhakti. When he uttered the Hare Krishna maha-mantra at the time of initiation, it bore the same effect. He was famous throughout Vraja-mandala and the entire world for how he transformed people’s hearts in these ways.
For many years, he travelled throughout India to spread the message of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. In the mid 1980’s, the first Western devotees came to receive his guidance, and in 1996, at the repeated request of the Western devotees, he went to Europe and America. During the next fourteen years, he circled the globe more than thirty times. Whether he was in India or abroad, his preaching always bore the distinctive characteristic of boldly unmasking any misconception obscuring the specific purposes of Sriman Mahaprabhu’s advent, in strict adherence to the desire of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada and in perfect congruence with the conceptions of Srila Rupa Gosvami. Thus, in upholding the glorious tenets of the sampradaya, he performed the function of a true acharya.
A most endearing hallmark of his preaching was the heart-stealing affection he showed to all. As an uttama-bhagavata, he entered the deepest recesses of the heart to give the unmistakable reassurance that he was one’s eternal well-wisher. The depth of his affection is a tangible reality for all who have experienced it, and this in itself bears subjective testimony to the fact that he was a true emissary of the Supreme Lord. As thousands of devotees will affirm, his genuine interest in the spiritual well-being of all souls was evident in his equal love and affection for all. He cared not if a person were his disciple, the disciple of another, or of another philosophical school altogether. His divine affection knew no bounds.
At the age of ninety years, on December 29, 2010, at 3.00 am, at Cakra Tirtha, Sri Jagannatha Puri-dhama, he concluded his pastimes in this world. That day was the sacred appearance day of his beloved Godbrother, nitya-lila pravista om visnupada Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Vamana Gosvami Maharaja. The following day, in Sri Navadvipa-dhama, Sri Gaurasundara’s fully empowered emissary, the very embodiment of His unique compassion, was given samadhi. He will never cease to reside in his divine instructions and in the hearts of those who are devoted to him. He used to say, “Do not think that I will ever leave you – never, ever. I am always with you.”
In a mood of insignificance and longing for his mercy, we fall at his lotus feet and pray that he bless our attempts to always be able to render him some service.
From Rays of The Harmonist
No.23, Vyasapuja Edition
Mauni Amavasya, 2011
* Sri Sajjana-sevaka Brahmacari and Sri Radhanatha dasa were given the names Sri Bhaktivedanta Vamana Gosvami Maharaja and Sri Bhaktivedanta Trivikrama Gosvami Maharaja, respectively.