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(C) 1995 by Richard S. Brown
All rights reserved.


Wonderful Anecdotes Of Sarasvati Prabhupada

By Richard Shaw Brown


Vande gurun isha bhaktan

From Jan. 1968 I lived continuously for 6.5 years with the 3rd direct sannyasi disciple and very close intimate servitor of Srila Sarasvati Prabhupada, named Tridandi Swami Bhakti Hridaya Vana Maharaj. He was also Prabhupada's most famous preacher and he dedicated his entire celibate life to the personal service and mission of his Gurudev. Sripad Vana Maharaj spent LOTS of private time with Saraswati Prabhupada and he remembered many personal incidents in the life of Prabhupada, some of which he described to me over my years at his feet in Sridham Vrindavan. All of the stories were unique and I would like to relate four of them to the VNN devotees.

---On one occasion Sripad Vana Maharaj was alone with Saraswati Thakura on the roof of the Calcutta Gaudiya Math during a cloudy night. Vana Maharaj noticed that Prabhupada remained silent and was looking up at the night sky for a very long period. Swami Vana was worried that his Gurudev would strain his neck so he asked his Guru why he continued to look at the night sky? The great Prabhupada replied that he had looked up and seen a star and that he must find and see another star before looking down. With his head up he explained to Vana Maharaj that if you see the Moon or any single star in the sky it is important that you must see another star before looking down again. To fail to do so would bring ill-fortune.

---Another similar example. Srila Sarasvati Prabhupada believed that to see the Moon on the 4th day after Purnima would bring blame and accusations against anyone who did so. He personally told Vana Maharaj that Lord Krishna had once seen the 4th day waning Moon while residing in Dvaraka and this was the real reason why Krishna got falsely accused of stealing the Syamantaka ruby.

---Prabhupada Sarasvati Thakura was unpopular with the Smarta Brahmins and other Sanskrit scholars who he ridiculed for their mundane ideas. So a plot was hatched to humiliate Prabhupada. Although Prabhupada was a great scholar, still he was not specifically a Sanskrit expert in the academic sense. So an assembly of Sanskrit experts was planned and Srila Sarasvati Prabhupada was invited to debate his philosophy with them IN SANSKRIT LANGUAGE. At the appointed time Prabhupada arrived with a large number of his disciples and they took their seats together. Among his disciples was an exceptionally gifted Sanskrit expert holding a Ph.D. with honors, although none of the Smartas was aware of this. The sabha was convenied and a powerful Smarta leader stood up and addressed Prabhupada, in very advanced extempore Sanskrit, and after offering his arguments for almost one hour he triumphantly took his seat, sure that he had stumped the controversial Acharya.

A silence then fell over the learned assembly and all eyes (and ears) were on the grave looking Sarasvati Thakura who simply cast an almost imperceptible glance at his expert Sanskrit disciple. This junior disciple, then a brahmacari, immediately stood up, and in the greatest display of Sanskrit scholarship, which Swami Vana Maharaj said was inspired by Lord Hari Himself, he completely astonished the entire assemble with his philosophical counter arguments in unparalleled extempore Sanskrit. Then, after Prabhupada's disciple had devastated the antagonists and refuted all their arguments from memory, a great hush hung over the Sabha as Prabhupada, followed by his devotees (including Sripad Vana Maharaj), simply walked out in complete victory. Such was the power of Prabhupada that he was victorious without even opening his lotus-like mouth.

---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.