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(C) 1995 by Richard S. Brown All rights reserved.
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His Divine Grace
Tridandi Swami Bhakti Vilas Tirtha Maharaj

By Richard Shaw Brown

Dear devotees,

Dandavat. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

We have all heard many stories about Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada's amazing activities. But it is also good to hear the glories of our God-uncles (Prabhupada's Godbrothers), so we may not mistakenly minimize their greatness. With dandavats to you all I beg that you please accept this drop of Vaisnava mahima...

Around 1970 I was told a detailed story by HDG Tridandi Swami Bhakti Hrdaya Vana (Bon) Maharaj who was an eye-witness. On several occasions Srila Vana Maharaj became choked with emotion while relating this story. HDG Tridandi Swami Bhakti Sudho Ashram Maharaj told me that this is a well known incident in the life of Paramahansa Srimad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Prabhupada.

Once while residing in the Calcutta Gaudiya Matha, Srila Sarasvati Thakura was deathly ill and bed-ridden. In the room serving him were some of his leading sannyasi's including Srila Vana Maharaj. The devotees were at their wits end how to help, and so they finally pleaded with their Gurudeva asking him what to do to relieve his suffering.

Finally the great Prabhupada opened his eyes and begged them in a choked voice to please bring Kunja Dha (Kunja Vihari Dasa was later named Tridandi Swami Bhakti Vilas Tirtha Maharaj). At that time Kunja Dha was working at the Calcutta post office to help raise money for his Gurudeva's preaching. (In fact, it was Kunja Dha who met Srila Saraswati Thakura while he was a bhajan-anandi and helped him to come out and start preaching. He also helped Srila Saraswati Thakura carry the corpse of Srila Gaura Kishore Das Babaji Maharaj to the current samadhi in Mayapura).

A devotee was sent to bring Kunja Dha, who immediately left his duties at the post office and returned to the Math. As soon as Kunja Dha entered the sick room of Srila Saraswati Thakura, the great Acarya sat up with opened arms. Kunja Dha ran into the arms of his Gurudeva who embraced him tightly. The other devotees (including Vana Maharaj) were astounded to see the face of their Lion Guru resting on the shoulder of Kunja Dha with profuse tears pouring from his eyes onto the body of Kunja Vihari Das. And Kunja Vihari Prabhu was also weeping and trembling as he hugged his great master. This tearful embrace lasted what seemed like a long time. And after that Srila Saraswati Thakura was better.

NOTE: This is one of the many reasons why so many devotees sided with Kunja Vihari Das (HDG Srila Bhakti Vilas Tirtha Maharaj) after the matter of successor was left unresolved on the disappearance of Srila Saraswati Prabhupada; and it is important to note that out of the two groups taking sides, viz., Tirtha Maharaj V/s Ananta Vasudeva, it was Ananta Vasudeva who fell down, leaving Srila Tirtha Maharaj as the bona fide and fixed up successor in control of Sri Yoga pith and the Gaudiya Matha head-quarters in Mayapura, and most other places in India.

In fact Tirtha Maharaj was the main manager of the Gaudiya Mission from it's very beginning and up until his own departure. It is easy to see (although spiritually disturbing) why some of his Godbrothers were envious and jealous of him. After his disappearance, Srila Sraman Maharaj became Acarya of the original Gaudiya Mission; and after Sraman Maharaj left this world, Srila Bhakti Hrdaya Vana (Bon) Maharaj (the 3rd sannyasi disciple of Srila Sarasvati Thakura and one of his biggest preachers) was requested to become Acarya of the Gaudiya Mission, which he was until his disappearance around 1980.

During six years living in Sri Gaudiya Math (1968-1973) I heard many of the stories and glories of Srila B.V. Tirtha Maharaj from Srila Vana Maharaj, Srila Ashram Maharaj, and other Godbrothers of our Srila Prabhupada. Twice I had the opportunity to meet and speak with Tirtha Maharaj, and I will never forget his gravity and effulgence as well as the deep love and respect he shared with Srila Vana Maharaj and his other Godbrothers.

SRILA PRABHUPADA'S GODBROTHERS

I believe that Srila Prabhupada's senior Godbrothers ARE great saints, and blessed life-long personal associates of Srila Sarasvati Thakura. In spite of appearances, none of them (HDG included) were really offensive, because they were born devotees. If someone says that HDG literally meant what he said whenever he criticized his Godbrothers, that is like calling HDG an offender! Srila Prabhupada is a siddha-purusa, an uttama-adikari who was above ill-feeling towards his Godbrothers, all life-long devotees of Srila Saraswati Thakura.

In a world full of non-devotees, surely Prabhupada could not have actually felt ill-will toward Vaisnavas nor meant to offend his Godbrothers. It is above our understanding, but surely it is free of offense and therefore 'not to be taken literally' by us ACBSP disciples in an offensive manner. I stand for HDG's purity and also the purity of Srila Tirtha Maharaj, Vana Maharaj and the other life-long disciples of the great Srila Sarasvati Prabhupada.

Our siksa-guru Srila Rupa Goswami states in Sri Upadesamrta, verse 5, "One should mentally honor the devotee who chants the holy name of Lord Krsna, one should offer humble obeisance's to the devotee who has undergone spiritual initiation [diksa] and is engaged in worshipping the Deity, and one should associate with and faithfully serve that pure devotee who is advanced in undeviated devotional service and whose heart is completely devoid of the propensity to criticize others."

Dear devotee's, if anyone speaks or even thinks that Srila Tirtha Maharaj, Srila Vana Maharaj or their Godbrothers are not great Vaisnavas in the eternal service of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati, then they are GROSSLY MISTAKEN; and are liable to be punished by the Supreme Lord!

Your servant,

Hrsikesananda das