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Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

Between 1950-1965, Pandit Sri Krishna Dasa Babaji Maharaja, Bhakti-tirtha (Radha-Krishna nitya-lila pravista) would often meet with Srila Prabhupada in Bon Maharaja’s college in Vrndavana. The following memories of Pandit Sri Krishna Dasa Babaji come from a book titled, “Our Srila Prabhupada—A Friend to All”, penned by a Srila Prabhupada disciple named Mula-prakrti devi dasi.

May everyone relish the sweet and sometimes humorous exchanges between the liberated ones.

Pandit Sri Krishna Dasa Babaji:

“I was a Sanskrit student and scholar in the early 1960’s in Vrndavana. I was teaching in Bon Maharaja’s Sanskrit college across from ISKCON. At that time, Srila Swami Maharaja also was living in Vrindavana writing English translations and purports to the Srimad Bhagavatam.”

“At the college, some local Gaudiya and Vrajavasi scholars and writers would regularly meet to share their work and ask for suggestions regarding Sanskrit or philosophy. I attended those writers’ meetings and so did Srila Swami Maharaja. That’s how we began our acquaintance and friendship.”

“I remember how delightful Swamiji’s countenance was. He was very charming, full of realization, very humorous and affectionate. He was so kind upon me even though I was a much younger and junior in all ways. Yet Swamiji treated me just like a son or a very little brother. He always encouraged me, asked about my welfare, and shared Hari-katha from his writings.”

“He was a valuable friend during that time. Although his material circumstances were then so poor, he always seemed to me to be one of the richest devotees in spiritual blessings. He was a very learned and humble Vaisnava. He worked very diligently on his manuscripts, and often spoke about the order from his guru maharaja, His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada.”

“I have one special remembrance of something that occurred during our regular meetings at Bon Maharaja’s college. Swamiji had every intention to somehow spread this Krishna knowledge in the West, despite all obstacles.”

“Prabhupada would often speak of this task of service, and was always looking for opportunities to somehow arrange to travel there. Most of us at that time were quite doubtful that he could succeed to go. He was practically penniless then, without sponsors or connections. Many of us were not so favorable for any Indian to go to the mleccha [western] countries, so we did not encourage him. Nevertheless, he was undaunted.”

“I recall how Swamiji came one day in great happiness and excitement. I think he had just completed his third volume of the Srimad Bhagavatam and he was carrying all three in his hands. He then explained to our group how he had finally printed the last texts and now the books were ready to go to the West.”

“In a very sweet way, he formally asked if we would all please bless his books that they would be able to go across the ocean and be successful in spreading Krishna consciousness in the western countries. Of course, we were willing to do that. So he carefully passed around the stack of three, brick-red, cloth bound books, and asked each of us to touch them and give our blessings, which we did.”

“Immediately after this he did something quite remarkable. Swamiji explained with deep seriousness how these Bhagavata books, now blessed, could not go across the ocean by themselves. Someone would have to take them to the west, popularize them, and distribute them properly to the public. So he then humbly requested, with folded palms, that our assembly would also bless him to accompany the books and preach on their behalf. In this way he took us all by surprise.”

“We all then felt moved to finally give our full blessings to his mission. I thought at that time how remarkable a Vaisnava he was, to request such blessings and to arrange for receiving them so wonderfully. I remember when I gave my blessings to him, I felt a spiritual surcharge in my heart.”

“Many years later, and now still it stands strongly in history how Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja [Srila Prabhupada] was successful in carrying our heritage and philosophy to the whole world. I feel honored to have been some very small part of that glorious success.”

Srila Prabhupada ki jai! Pandit Sri Krishna Dasji Babaji Maharaja ki jai!

Sajjana sadhu sanga ki jai! Jaya Jaya Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

Sri Ramanuja Acarya appeared in 1017 A.D. near Madras, South India in a family of Vedic scholars. Sri Vaisnavas say he was an incarnation of Laksmana. The word Ramanuja means “a follower of Rama.” He received this name because Laksmana always follows and serves His elder brother Bhagavan Sri Ramacandra.

A boy of amazing wit, Ramanuja quickly learned Sanskrit, logic, and the Vedas. He took diksa and married at age sixteen. Ramanuja studied with a mayavadi guru, Yadava Prakash, to master mayavadi philosophy and defeat it.

When the brilliant Ramanuja kept refuting his mayavadi arguments, Yadava Prakash tried to murder him. Unsuccessful, Yadava Prakash expelled Ramanuja from the asrama. Before leaving, Ramanuja completely defeated his guru’s theory of oneness and no distinction.

Ramanuja explained, “While a certain unity can be seen in the inter relatedness of all things, still everything within the universe has its own distinct reality. Pearls strung on a thread share unity; collectively they form an organic whole a necklace. Still, each individual pearl has its own unique qualities.”

“While spirit, matter, and God may be seen as one organic whole, each has its unique qualities. Therefore, Sankara’s principle of absolute oneness can’t stand. Rather, the principle of unity characterized by different qualities must be accepted.”

Sometime later, Yadava Prakash met Kuresh, Ramanuja’s student with a photographic memory. Quoting Srutis, the best of Vedic proof, Kuresh convinced him that Brahman has transcendental form and qualities coming from the ultimate reality the supreme Absolute Truth known as Lord Narayana.

Ramanuja initiated anyone regardless of caste. Using the panca samskara purification method, he turned sudras into pure Vaisnavas. He established that the position of a Vaisnava surpasses all social limitations and considerations. Identifying himself as a servant, Ramanuja taught the worship of the Vaisnavas. Several times envious brahmanas tried to poison Ramanuja.

To teach detachment to one disciple Ramanuja staged the following demonstration. He told the disciple to create confusion among the sannyasis by switching their clothes at the bathing ghat.

When the sannyasis, who were big scholars and renunciates, started wearing each other’s clothes a big argument began. The disciple could plainly see that the “renunciates” were attached to some cloth.

Then Ramanuja sent the disciple to the home of his grhastha disciple, Dhanurdasa. Ramanuja engaged Dhanurdasa in the temple to ensure he wouldn’t be home. Following Ramanuja’s order, the disciple began stealing jewellery from Dhanurdasa’s chaste wife, who was sleeping.

After the disciple took the ornaments from one side of her body, she suddenly turned over. The startled disciple fled through the window. But he waited outside to witness the reaction of Dhanurdasa. Upon returning home Dhanurdasa talked with his wife.

“I’m worried that the temple needs money,” said his wife.

“What makes you think that?” asked Dhanurdasa.

“Because while I slept one of the temple devotees came through the window and began stealing the jewellery from my body. To go that far, I think those poor saints must desperately need money.”

“What did you do while he was stealing your jewellery?”

“I turned over, but he fled through the window.”

“Why did you do that?” said Dhanurdasa.

“I didn’t mean to scare him. I only turned over so that he could take the jewelry from the other side of my body as well.”

Dhanurdasa rebuked his wife, “If you were not so affected by false ego, you would have given him all your jewels. Now what shall we do? We have failed miserably.”

His wife lamented, “You’re right. It is only my pride that kept me from surrendering everything. How will we ever make any advancement?”

Watching all this, Ramanuja’s disciple was astonished at the humility and surrender of these grhastha devotees. Ramanuja explained the meaning of these two events: the sannyasis’ clothes and the wife’s jewels.

The sannyasis were so attached to some ragged bits of cloth that they fought over it. But the grhasthas were detached, even from costly jewels if they were needed for Krishna’s service.

Ramanujacarya founded the Sri Sampradaya, one of the four major Vaisnava sampradayas (Brahma, Sri, Kumara, Rudra). This sampradaya propounds the Vedanta philosophy of visistadvaita vada, qualified monism.

Gaudiya and Sri Vaisnavas share many teachings and practices. The Gaudiyas took Ramanuja’s explanation of God and the jiva verbatim: “The principle of God is like a blazing fire, while the living soul or the jiva is like a spark a small part of God.”

Both accept three classes of jivas: eternally liberated, forever bound, freed by devotion and sadhana. Ramanuja taught serving God in Vaikuntha with awe and reverence in dasya rasa(mood of master and servant). Gaudiya Vaisnavas teach confidental service in madhurya rasa to Radha Madhava within the groves of Vrndavana.

Ramanujacarya wrote many famous commentaries on the Upanisads, Puranas, Bhagavad gita. Sri Bhasya, his commentary on Vedanta, presents a formidable challenge to Sankaracarya’s impersonal commentary.

To this day, the Sri Vaisnava disciplic succession from Ramanuja continues to uphold the traditions of deity worship and philosophy systemized by the founder. His samadhi is in Sri Rangam.

(An excerpt from the book Gaudiya Vaisnavas Biographies and Samadhis in Vrndavana by Mahanidhi Swami)

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

One of the oldest and most famous Gaudiya Vaisnava scholars in Vraja today is 99 year old Pandita Sri Krishna Dasa Babaji Maharaja, Bhakti-tirtha.

Srila Prabhupada and Pandita Sri Krishna Dasji became friends in the 1960’s after meeting in Bon Maharaja’s college in Vrindavana. A few years ago, Pandita Baba recounted his memories of Prabhupada for a book titled, “Our Srila Prabhupada—A Friend to All”.

Here we share those memories, and invite our readers to relish the sweet and sometimes humorous exchanges between the liberated ones.

Pandit Sri Krishna Dasa Babaji:

“I was a Sanskrit student and scholar in the early 1960’s, and I often visited Bon Maharaja’s Sanskrit college, which was across from where the ISKCON temple is now. At that time, Srila Swami Maharaja also was living in Sri Vrindavana Dhama. He was writing translations and purports to the beginning three volumes of his Srimad Bhagavatam series in the English language.

“At the college, there was an informal gathering of local Gaudiya and Vrajavasi scholars and writers who met regularly every few weeks or each month to share their work and ask for suggestions regarding the Sanskrit or whatever. I attended those writers’ meetings and so did Srila Swami Maharaja. That is how we began our acquaintance and friendship.

“I remember how delightful his countenance was. Swamiji was very charming, and full of realization, humor and affection. He was so kind upon me. I was a much younger man, junior in all ways. Yet Swamiji treated me just like a son or a very little brother. He always encouraged me, asked about my welfare, and shared hari-katha from his writings.

“He was a valuable friend during that time. Although his material circumstances were then so poor, he always seemed to me to be one of the richest devotees in spiritual blessings. He was a very learned and humble Vaisnava. He worked very diligently on his manuscripts, and often spoke about the order from his guru maharaja, His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada.

“I have one special remembrance of something that occurred during our regular meetings at Bon Maharaja’s college. Swamiji had every intention to somehow spread this Krishna knowledge in the West, despite all obstacles.

“He would often speak of this task of service, and was always looking for opportunities to somehow arrange to travel there. Most of us at that time were quite doubtful that he could succeed to go. He was practically penniless then, without sponsors or connections. Many of us were not so favorable for any Indian to go to the mleccha [western] countries, so we did not encourage him. Nevertheless, he was undaunted.

“I recall how Swamiji came one day in great happiness and excitement. I think he had just completed his third volume of the Srimad Bhagavatam and he was carrying all three in his hands. He then explained to our group how he had finally printed the last texts and now the books were ready to go to the West.

“In a very sweet way, he formally asked if we would all please bless his books that they would be able to go across the ocean and be successful in spreading Krishna consciousness in the western countries. Of course, we were willing to do that. So he carefully passed around the stack of three, brick-red, cloth bound books, and asked each of us to touch them and give our blessings, which we did.

“Immediately after this he did something quite remarkable. Swamiji explained with deep seriousness how these Bhagavata books, now blessed, could not go across the ocean by themselves. Someone would have to take them to the west, popularize them, and distribute them properly to the public. So he then humbly requested, with folded palms, that our assembly would also bless him to accompany the books and preach on their behalf. In this way he took us all by surprise.

“We all then felt moved to finally give our full blessings to his mission. I thought at that time how remarkable a Vaisnava he was, to request such blessings and to arrange for receiving them so wonderfully. I remember when I gave my blessings to him, I felt a spiritual surcharge in my heart.

“Many years later, and now still it stands strongly in history how Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja [Srila Prabhupada] was successful in carrying our heritage and philosophy to the whole world. I feel honored to have been some very small part of that glorious success.”

Srila Prabhupada ki jai! Pandit Sri Krishna Dasji Babaji Maharaja ki jai!

Jaya Jaya Sri Radhe!