nama om vishnupadaya
parampada iti namine.
My eternal gurupadapadma Shrila Bhaktishastri Parampada das Maharaja (1901-2004), the Founder Acharya of Giridhari Gaudiya Matha in Ambika Kalna and Navadvipa, was the dear disciple of my parama-gurudev Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada, who was the original founder of Gaudiya Matha and one of the foremost followers of Shrila Rupa Goswami.
My Gurupadapadma’s father Shriman Krishnadas Kaviraj das was a completely dedicated disciple of Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada. Being an Ayurvedic kaviraj doctor, he would eagerly serve all the devotees of Gaudiya Matha by giving free Ayurvedic treatment.
Shrila Gurudev’s mother was also a very sincere and advanced initiated disciple of Shrila Sarasvati Prabhupada. She was always engaged in the service of Shri Shri Gaur Radha Giridhari.
His father was faithfully surrendered to Shrila Sarasvati Prabhupada’s service to such an extent, that much before Prabhupada decided to start his mission and establish his first Chaitanya Matha (the origin of all Gaudiya Mathas in Vrajapattan) in Shridham Mayapur in 1918, he took his wife and son and came to stay in Shridham Mayapur. In this way, his father surrendered his life without hesitation to humbly assist his gurudev, even though Mayapur was a total jungle at that time.
Thus, my gurudev was so fortunate to get the direct association of and abundant mercy from Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada from his very childhood, especially during those early days of the Gaudiya Matha in Mayapur. He would directly sit on the lap of His Divine Grace. Shrila Parama-Gurudev would love and take care of him as his own child.
In his later days, when I was with him, the name “Prabhupada” was like one of his mantras and would bring tears to his eyes due to his extreme attachment to his gurudev. It was because of the supreme affection Shrila Prabhupada showed to him as a child.
His Service in Mayapur
When he was a child, Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada gave him a very special service of going to the Ganga very early in the morning, during the brahma-muhurta, to bring fresh Ganga water and then give it to all the Matha devotees, for putting their tilaka.
He became so enchanted by the beauty of Mayapur and considered it as his home, even though living there was very austere at that time. He would enthusiastically perform various devotional services instructed to him by Shrila Prabhupada, by his father, and by his godbrothers.
He accepted both harinam and diksha directly from Shrila Sarasvati Prabhupada in Mayapur in 1920. Parampada das was the spiritual name given to him by his gurupadapadma. After diksha, he became very attached to chanting the holy names constantly throughout the day while doing his services in Mayapur. He would take every chance he got during the day and night to loudly read the holy books of Shrila Sacchidananda Bhaktivinoda Thakura.
Whatever attraction I have for the vani of our dearmost Thakura is due to my gurudev’s causeless mercy and sidelong glance upon me. I would cry in bliss observing his unflinching attraction to Shrila Bhaktivinoda’s song book Sharanagati, which he would always hold in his hands close to his heart. Without doubt, it was more dear to him than everything else in this world.
No wonder, he later went on to become the headmaster of the Bhaktivinoda Institute High School next to the Mayapur Yogapith, which was personally established by Shrila Sarasvati Thakura.
For many years, my gurupadapadma taught Thakura’s books to young children in English and Bengali. He was given the title of “Bhaktishastri” by Shrila Sarasvati Prabhupada himself, due to his scholarly knowledge and deep realization of Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura‘s books.
The service he always wanted me to do was to sing the verses of Shri Sharanagati for him. He would hand me his book and close his lotus eyes. Tears of pure love would trickle down from the corners of his eyes on hearing me sing those verses, even though I could not sing them so well.
His Worship in Kalna
Later on, Shrila Sarasvati Thakura specifically instructed him to accept the grihastha-ashram, in order to serve his father and mother for as long as they live, because his parents were unalloyed devotees of Shri Guru, Shri Nitai, and Shri Gauranga. He carried this order on his head and devotedly served his vaishnava-parents till their last breath.
Though he wanted to reside at the lotus feet of Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada in Mayapur eternally and serve his gurudev there, he had to go with his parents to reside in Ambika Kalna on the opposite banks of Shantipur in order to serve them, as per his gurupadapadma’s orders.
Ambika Kalna is the holiest of all towns, around 30 kms from Mayapur, where the supreme Lord Nitai married Jahnava and Vasudha. It is also the esoteric meeting place of Lords Nitai Gaur with Shrila Gauri das Pandit.
I would sit outside his bhajan-kutir in the night and hear the sound of his sweet enraptured voice chanting the holy names, which would never stop for the most part of the night.
My Gurudev’s wife left this world quite early. He dedicated himself fully to nam-bhajan in Ambika Kalna at the lotus feet of his own Gaur Radha Giridhari, under the shelter of Gauri das Pandita’s dancing deities of Shri Shri Nitai Gaurasundara at Mahaprabhu-badi, near Jahnava mata’s house.
These deities had personally jumped from the altar and danced with the real Lords Nitai Gaur who were visiting from Mayapur. Shrila Gauri das is none other than Subala sakha, the leader of all the priya-narma cowherd boyfriends of Lord Krishna, and a very dear assistant to Shrimati Radharani.
Due to my Gurudev’s very advanced yet very simple and renounced nature, his illustrious godbrother Srila Bhaktipramoda Puri Maharaja became his intimate friend. He would invite him to stay in his Gopinath Gaudiya Matha in Ambika Kalna. He repeatedly offered the sannyasa order of life to my gurudev. Also, he was dear to my sannyasa-gurudeva Srila Bhaktikumuda Santa Goswami, who in turn was made a devotee by Srila Bhaktipramoda Puri Maharaj.
But due to my gurupadapadma’s extreme humility, he did not want to accept the external robes of the renounced order of life, because it would bring name, fame, and followers. He would always shun respect and offer all respect to others, till the very end of his manifest pastimes.
It was absolutely clear to everyone who had the divine darshan of my gurudev that he had no desire for fame or disciples. He preferred not to get involved in the internal workings and management of Mathas since he never wanted to see others’ faults or to judge any devotee. He did not join any faction after the disappearance of his gurudev because his only meditation was on his own bhajan and service to Shrila Prabhupada.
His Extreme Humility
In fact, he was such a personification of humility, that he was extremely pained when I used to offer obeisances to him. He would also bow down and offer obeisances in return to everyone, even at his ripe old age of 100.
His guileless, innocent, and pure nature brings tears to my eyes whenever I remember him. He would personally arrange for prasadam for all visiting devotees, and constantly ask them whether they are fully satisfied in his sweet loving voice, which was always imbued with his natural humility.
It was clear to me that he was constantly feeling intense separation from his divine gurudev Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada by observing how fondly he talked about him. He never ever cared for his own personal comforts. He stayed in a very simple bhajan kutir opposite his Shri Shri Radha Giridhari temple for decades. He always honored simple prasadam, which I served him with my own hands.
He had so much staunch and intense love for his gurupadpadma Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada and his family that he never ever took sides or even heard a single negative thing about his own godbrothers or any devotee for that matter. He never knew what duplicity is, which is why he could take constant shelter of the holy names throughout the day and night.
He was very dear friends with my most beloved shiksha-guru Shrila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who was directly empowered by his gurudev to spread the holy name all over the world. They met many times in Shridham Mayapur and used to discuss hari-katha together.
I had served, preached, and published the vani of my beloved shiksha-gurudev Shrila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada for 12 years in the brahmacharya order before accepting diksha from my gurudev on September 14, 2001.
Everyone who met my diksha-gurudev fell in love with his simplicity and child-like devotion, and thus respected him very much. I remember how I got the maha-garland of Shri Shri Radha Madhava in Mayapur once, when the pujaris heard that I am his disciple.
My gurupadapadma used to take me to Lord Nitai’s marriage place in Kalna, which was his favorite place. I would sit at his lotus feet there with great ecstasy almost in a trance. It is there that I received his final order for me to dedicate my entire life and soul to spread Nitai’s unique name and glories along with Harinam.
On the day of diksha, he instructed me the same verse which he had directly received from Shrila Sarasvati Thakura, “nam bhaja, nam chinta, nam kara saar…” which means “Worship the name, remember and meditate on the name, and make the holy name as the essence of your existence.”
When I asked whether I can bring new souls to him for initiation, he laughed and said that he was too old to accept any more nam-aparadhas of new disciples. He put his lotus hand on my head and authorized and ordered me to start initiating disciples myself. I can never forget that day when he empowered me in this way due to his causeless mercy. I always consider that all my disciples are being sent by him to engage me in guru-seva and bhakta-seva.
His Order To Accept Sannyasa
It was he who ordered me to go to his beloved godbrother Shrila Bhaktikumuda Santa Goswami in Shri Chaitanya Ashram, Behala, Kolkata for accepting sannyasa-diksha. Shrila Santa Goswami mercifully smiled and agreed to grant me his blessings in the form of the sannyasa-order on September 18, 2001, simply by hearing the name of my gurudev.
Shrila Bhaktikumuda Santa Goswami was almost a century in the renounced order of life. He also did bhajan in this world for almost 100 years like my gurudev. He came to Shrila Prabhupada’s shelter when he was 11 like my gurudev. He was a brahmachari and sannyasi for a total of 80-85 years.
Shrila Bhaktishastri Parampada Dasa Maharaj’s divine disappearance from this world was in 2004. He rejoined Nitai Gaur, Radha Krishna, and his own Gurupadapadma Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada in Their eternal pastimes in Vraja and Navadvipa-Ekachakra in Goloka. He left me in an unbearable grief of separation from his divine lotus feet and his divine remem. The pangs of separation from one’s beloved spiritual master is the greatest misery in the whole of creation.
His Two Desires
My only solace and remembrance in his separation is to whole-heartedly follow his eternal instructions to me by utterly surrendering myself to spreading the unlimited glories of Harinam, Nitaibhakti and Nitainam.
A Small Offering
Even though I am completely unqualified to even understand a tiny drop of his glories, I humbly offer this small biography at his lotus feet in the hope to attain his causeless mercy and service life after life. I hope he forgives my inadequacy to properly glorify him. Jaya Shri Gurupadapadma! Jaya Shrila Gurudev! Jaya Guruvarga! Joy Nitai! Hare Krishna! जय निताइ! हरे कृष्ण!