|| Sri Sri Gaura-Gadadharau Vijayetam ||

shriharidasniwas

Tirobhav of Sri Sri Haridas Shastri ji Maharaj

||Sri Sri Gaura Gadadharau Vijayetam||

 

Tirobhav of

Sri Sri Haridas Shastri ji Maharaj

 

Our venerable Gurudev, His Holiness Sri Srimat Haridas Shastri ji Maharaj has entered nitya-lila of Sri Sri Radha-Govinda ji.  The tirobhav occurred at around 09:30 AM on 6th October, 2013.

Sri Maharaj ji had appeared in this world on 21-Februrary, 1918 in erstwhile Manbhum (now Purulia) District of West Bengal.  In the year 1933, at the tender age of 15, he renounced the care of his parents and came to Vrindavan to live the life of a renounced ascetic, devoting himself entirely to the service of Sri Sri Gaura-Gadadhara-Radha-Govindadev ji.  Details about his commitment to Dharma, to the study and teaching of shastras and to Go-seva can be seen elsewhere in this site.

Since the last couple of years, Sri Maharaj ji had been keeping unwell and had to be hospitalised on several occasions.  In spite of his physical illness, he would be mentally as alert and agile as ever.  He continued giving classes on the scriptures to his close disciples and kept on writing books until a month before his tirobhav.

 

Samadhi

On account of his frail health Sri Maharaj ji had been admitted to a nursing home in Mathura and was undergoing treatment.  There, on the 6th of October, at around 09:30 AM he concluded his manifest lila.  He entered the nitya-lila of Sri Sri Radha-Govinda ji.  It was Ashwin Shukla Dvitiya

In the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition, after a mahapurush enters nitya-lila, his body is not treated as that of an ordinary person.  During his manifest life on this earth, on account of his ekata with Sri Krishna, his body gets potentized by His swarupa-shakti.   After his tirobhav, he is placed inside the earth and a small temple (called Samadhi mandir) is built over it.  Since he enters the nitya-lila of the Lord, this event is celebrated as an utsav (festival) in the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition.

The kandha-utsav (kandha – shoulder, utsav – festival; kandha-utsav – the festival of carrying the Vaishnava saint on the shoulders to the place of Samadhi) of Sri Maharaj ji was held on the same day, i.e. 6th of October.  The news of his entry into the nitya-lila had quickly spread far and wide.  Many people came to the ashram for participating in the kandha-utsav. There is a scriptural process of how a mahapurush should be put in Samadhi.  Sri Maharaj ji had earlier explained the details of the same to his close disciples who have been serving him in the ashram – Sri Hare Krishna Das Babaji and Sri Bhagavat Prapanna Das Babaji.   He had also insisted that the event be kept simple without any fanfare.   In accordance with his desires, they performed the Samadhi ceremony.

After bringing Sri Maharaj ji to the ashram from the nursing home, he was seated with a plant of Sri Tulasi Devi beside him.  Sri Hare Krishna Das Babaji and others performed his abhishek (bath) with water, fragrance, etc.  Sri Bhagavat Prapanna Das Babaji then applied tilak on him and put a fresh set of dress and sacred thread on him.  The disciples and others who had assembled in the ashram offered garlands and flowers.  Then he was lifted up by several devotees and carried to the site of the Samadhi.

 

Sri Hare Krishna Das Babaji bringing water and

other ingredients for abhishek of

nitya-lila-pravishta Sri Sri Haridas Shastri ji Maharaj

 Decades ago, Sri Maharaj ji himself had located the spot for his own Samadhi within the ashram premises next to that of his Gurudev.  He had got the space for the Samadhi prepared, got the inner walls cemented and painted and had the structure built above it.  The front opening had been sealed with a stone slab.  Sri Hare Krishna Das Babaji got the front slab removed and everything inside was found in a ready-made condition.  This made the process of Samadhi very easy and simple.  From this we understand that he was concerned about minimizing our efforts of placing him in the Samadhi temple, an ideal Vaishnav as he was.

 

While other devotees hold Sri Maharaj ji upright,

Sri Bhagavat-Prapanna Das Babajiapplies tilak

Sri Bhagavat-Prapanna-Das Babaji holds the lips of

Sri Maharaj ji and Sri Hare Krishna Das Babaji pours 

charanamrita of the Lord into his mouth

 

 

Disciples and other devotees offering flowers and

garlands to nitya-lila-pravishta Sri Sri Haridas Shastri ji Maharaj

 

 

 

nitya-lila-pravishta Sri Sri Haridas Shastri ji Maharaj

being carried by devotees for Samadhi

Sri Maharaj ji was carried to the spot of Samadhi and lowered into the space (already prepared by Sri Maharaj ji) along with loads of flowers that had been offered to him.  Sri Bhagavat Prapanna Das Babaji went down into the pit, placed Sri Maharaj ji in a sitting posture and placed his danda, kamandal and chanting beads with him.  Devotees continuously performed Sri Harinama-sankirtan.  The space around Sri Maharaj ji was filled with the dust of Vraja and salt.  Finally a stone lid was placed on the Samadhi and it was sealed with cement.  It was done by 4 PM.

Devotees and other visitors surround the

Samadhi temple while Sri Maharaj ji is placed there

 

The Samadhi temple of Sri Maharaj ji immediately after the

mason’s preliminary work was over.  Bamboos were

placed in the front temporarily.  The door was yet to be made.

 

The freshly painted and finished Samadhi temple of Sri Maharaj ji

 

 

A grand viraha-utsav was held from 16th to 18th of October, 2013 at “Sri Haridas Niwas” ashram in Vrindavan for nitya-lila-pravishta Sri Sri Haridas Shastri ji Maharaj.  It consisted of different events as described below.

 Vidvat-Goshthi

On 16th of October a Vidvat-Goshthi (a conference of scholars) was held under the aegis of Sri Haridas Shastri Go Seva Sansthan, the Society that Sri Maharaj ji had established for looking after the administration of various activities in the ashram.  This conference was also called smriti-sabha (a conference for remembrance).  It was a gathering of sadhus and scholars, mainly from Vraja and a few from outside.  They offered their verbal tributes to Sri Maharaj ji.  The Chief Guest for the function was Sri Purushottam Goswami Maharaj, the chief priest of Sri Sri Radha-Raman temple of Vrindavan, who had been specially invited for the occasion.

 

A large banner in the courtyard in front of the

main temple provided the backdrop for the occasion

The venue was the courtyard in front of the main temple of the ashram.  A large banner provided a perfect backdrop for the conference.  Three large pictures were placed next to Sri Tulasi Devi in the courtyard.  Right next to Sri Tulasi Devi was the portrait of Sri Sri Ramakrishna-Das Babaji Maharaj (also called Sri Pandit Baba).  To his left was the picture of his vesh-disciple, Sri Sri Vinod Bihari Goswami Maharaj (also called Sri Gaura-Vinod Das Babaji Maharaj), our Param-Gurudev.  Next was the picture of Sri Sri Haridas Shastri ji Maharaj, our worshipable Gurudev.  They were decorated with large garlands and the participants of the conference were offering flowers to them.  The courtyard was covered with soft mattresses and sparkling white sheets on which all the guests sat comfortably.

 

The pictures of (L-R) Sri Pandit Baba, Sri Param-Guru

and Sri Maharaj ji during the vidvat-goshthi

 

Banner at the main entrance

The function began at 3:30 PM. The master of ceremony was a disciple of Sri Maharaj ji, Sri Japesh Bandyopadhyay.  He began by chanting shlokas that eulogize Sri Guru.  This was followed by lighting of a ceremonial lamp.  This is a large brass lamp on a tall stand that has seven wicks for being lighted up by seven dignitaries. The chief guest, Sri Purushottam Goswami was requested to light the ceremonial lamp.  However, since he was on a wheel chair and was not in a position to walk up to the lamp, he lit a candle while on his wheelchair and handed it over to Sri Bhagavat-Prapanna Das Babaji, who walked up to the lamp and lit it.  This was then followed by the other six dignitaries lighting the lamp.  They were Sri Hare Krishna Das Babaji (our senior God-brother) and the following dignitaries of Sri Haridas Shastri Go Seva Sansthan: Sri Sandeep Mittal (secretary), Sri GP Singh (vice-president), Sri Deepak Kapoor (treasurer), Sri Dalchand (deputy-secretary) and Sri Jai Singh (deputy-secretary).  As the lamp was being lit, Sri Japesh Bandyopadhyay and Sri Narasimhan Ranganathan chanted Veda-mantras for propitiousness and peace.

 

Office-bearers of Sri Haridas Shastri Go Seva Sansthan

lighting the ceremonial lamp

 

Sri Sandeep Mittal giving his welcome address

Next, our senior God-brother, Sri Hare Krishna Das Babaji, on behalf of the ashram, offered a flower-garland to the chief guest. Then, one of our God-brothers, Sri Satyanarayana Das Babaji, assisted by Sri Padmanabh Das Babaji applied sandal paste on the foreheads of all the guests and offered them flower garlands.

As this was going on, Sri Sandeep Mittal sang Sri Guru-ashtakam (samsara-davanala-lidha-loka) composed by one of the greatest saints and scholars of the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition, Sri Vishwanatah Chakravarti Thakur.  Sri Jyotirmoi Goswami accompanied him on mridanga.  All members of the audience enthusiastically joined him in singing the ashtakam.  After completing it, Sri Sandeep Mittal gave a warm welcome address to the chief guest as well as to all the guests.  He also reminisced some of his conversations that he had with Sri Maharaj ji in the past. 

 

Sri Hare Krishna Das Babaji offering flower garland to

the Chief Guest Sri Purushottam Goswami (on wheel chair)

Following this, the MC spoke about the life of Sri Maharaj ji in short.  He explained how Sri Maharaj ji came from Bengal to Vrindavan in the year 1933, while still at a tender age and how he started living with the then-famous saint of Vraja, Sri Ramakrishna Das Babaji (also called Sri Pandit Baba) and then became a disciple of Sri Vinod Bihari Goswami ji Maharaj, under whose guidance he studied the scriptures and performed seva of Sri Sri Gaura-Gaddadhara-Radha Govinda ji.  He also mentioned that Sri Maharaj ji had played a major role in helping Sri Kripasindhu Das Babaji (who used to render close personal service to Sri Pandit Baba) set up the Bhagavat Niwas (the site where the Samadhi temple of Sri Pandit Baba ji is located).  He also read out two documents written by Sri Kripasindhu Das Babaji about 65 years ago.  In the first one Sri Kripasindhu Das Babaji had written that he used to have high regards for our param-guru, Sri Vinod Bihari Goswami ji Maharaj and used to consider him equivalent to Sri Pandit Baba himself.  In the second document, he had eulogized Sri Maharaj ji for his saintly nature.  According to the documents Sri Kripasindhu Das Babaji had invited Sri Param-guru ji as well as Sri Maharaj ji to permanently reside in Bhagavat Niwas.  Then the speaker also described Sri Maharaj ji’s commitment to serving the shastras and the divine ceature, “Go” as well as his seva of Sri Sri Gaura-Gadadhar-Radha-Govindadeva ji in the main temple of the ashram.

After narrating the life of Sri Maharaj ji, the MC invited some of the assembled sadhus, scholars, mahantas and others to come to the stage one by one and offer tributes to Sri Maharaj ji through their speeches.  The chief speakers were:

1)      Sri Sevananda ji of Sri Akhandananda Ashram from Moti  Jheel

2)      Sri Ananda Gopal Vedanta-tirtha from Radha-Kunda

3)      Sri Ram Jivan Das Yogacharya, Jyotishacharya from Kadam Khandi

4)      Sri Raja Ram Mishra, ex-Principal of Sri Ranga-Lakshmi Sanskrit College, Vrindavan

5)      Sri Sacchidananda from Patharpura, Vrindavan

6)      Sri R.N. Singh, District Judge, Mathura

7)      Sri Gopal Bhaiyya, a Vraja-vasi and an old acquaintance of Sri Maharaj ji

8)      Sri Badarish Bhagavatacharya, a scholar of Srimad-Bhagavatam

9)      Sri Sanatan Kishor Deb-Goswami, the priest of Sri Madan-Mohan temple, Vrindavan

10)    Sri Ghanshyam Das, a preacher from ISKCON, Srinagar (Kashmir)

11)   Mahant Sri Ambika Das Mahatyagi, Vrindavan

12)   Sri Braj Bihari Das ji Maharaj of Chaar sampradaya, Vrindavan

13)   Sri Achyut Lal Bhatt, a descendant of Sri Gadadhar Bhatta and a scholar of Srimad-Bhagavatam

14)   Sri Vinod Banerjee, ex-principal of Hazarimal Somani Inter College, Vrindavan

15)   Sri Purushottam Sharma, a disciple of Sri Maharaj ji. He also works as the priest of the ashram for special occasions like Gopashtami celebrations.

16)   Sri Jagadananda Das, editor of Vrindavan Today

17)   Sri Prema Prayojana, Vrindavan

The principal of Sri Rangalakshmi Sanskrit College, Vrindavan, who was unable to join the session, sent a note in Sanskrit praising Sri Maharaj ji.  He had also composed a shloka glorifying him.  The MC read it out to the audience.

 

Pictures of various speakers offering their tributes to Sri Maharajji

On this occasion, a new book was released by the chief guest, Sri Purushottam Goswami.  It is titled, “Sri Mantra Bhagavatam” and is the first book of Sri Maharaj ji to be released after his entry to the nitya-lila.  The programme of launching of the book was co-ordinated by Sri Narasimhan Ranganathan, a student and a disciple of Sri Maharaj ji, who came from the city of Chennai to attend the programme.  Addressing the audience, he informed them that this book was compiled by Sri Nilakantha Suri.  It is a collection of mantras from the Rig-Veda in which events from Srimad-Bhagavatam have been described.  The mantras are followed by explanations of Sri Nilakantha Suri in Sanskrit and Sri Maharaj ji’s explanations in Hindi.  In this book Sri Maharaj ji has also included his Hindi translation of a work of Sri Vaishnav Das Pandit who had collected Rig-Veda mantras that describe the lilas of Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu as well as some mantras that extol Sri Harinama-Sankirtan.  In all 250 mantras from Rig-veda have been compiled here.

 

Sri Narasimhan Ranganathan describing

the book “Sri Mantra Bhagavatam”

 

Helped by others, the chief guest unpacks the new book

 

The new book, “Sri Mantra-Bhagavatam” is released

 

“Sri Mantra-Bhagavatam”, the new book

by Sri Haridas Shastri ji Maharaj

After launch of the new book, the MC requested the chief guest, Sri Purushottam Goswami ji to address the audience.  However, Goswami ji preferred to lead a kirtan session.  He started with the Bengali kirtan, “yadi Gaur na hoito tabe ki hoito …”.  After that he led a session of Sri Hari Nam Sankirtan, during which all members of the audience stood up and danced joyfully.  The entire ashram resounded with loud sankirtan.

 

The Chief Guest Sri Purushottam Goswami leading the kirtan. 

Sri Bhagavat-Prapanna-Das Babaji is holding the microphone for him.

Towards the end of the programme, Sri Japesh Bandyopadhyay described the details of an important seva that Sri Maharaj ji had entrusted him with.  There is an old temple in the village of Bharatpur in Murshidabad district of West Bengal.  It houses the deities of Sri Sri Radha-Gopinath ji (deities that Sri Gadadhar Pandit Goswami had given to his brother, Sri Vaninath Mishra to worship), the deity of Sri Meya-Krishna and of Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu that Sri Gadadhar Pandit Goswami used to worship as well as a copy of the Bhagavad-Gita hand-written by Sri Gadadhar Pandit Goswami himself.  A local landlord had constructed the temple ages ago and it was in a highly dilapidated condition.  Sri Maharaj ji took up the seva of constructing the temple for Sri Radha-Gopinath ji for the pleasure of Sri Gadadhar Pandit Goswami, to whose disciplic succession we all belong.  He handed over the responsibility to Sri Japesh and asked him not to disclose it to others until the work was over.  When construction of the new temple was over, he was pleased and then he permitted the details to be revealed to others.  Sri Japesh took this opportunity and described to the august assembly of sadhus the details of this seva that Sri Maharaj ji had performed towards the fag end of his manifest period in this world.

After the detailed description of the Bharatpur temple, Sri Jyotirmoi Goswami, a member of the Goswami family of Bharatpur, who had been invited for attending the ceremony, addressed the gathering.  He is a descendant of Sri Vaninath Mishra, the brother of Sri Gadadhar Pandit Goswami.  He explained how they were finding it difficult to repair the old, dilapidated temple and they expressed gratitude to Sri Maharaj ji and his disciples for constructing the new temple at Bharatpur.

 

Sri Jyotirmoi Goswami, a descendant of

Sri Vaninath Mishra addressing the audience

 

Sri Japesh Bandyopadhyay narrating how

Sri Maharaj ji got the temple for

Sri Gadadhar Pandit Goswami’s deities constructed

Finally, on behalf of “Sri Haridas Niwas” ashram, Sri Bhagavat-Prapanna-Das Babaji (earlier Sri Bhrigunath Mishra), a disciple of Sri Maharaj  ji who had been studying the scriptures from him and serving him closely for the past several years, proposed the vote of thanks.

 

Sri Bhagavat-Prapanna-Das Babaji proposing

the vote of thanks on behalf of the ashram

During the programme, the organisers had arranged for fresh fruit juice to be served to all visitors from time to time.  In addition, before they departed, they were served gifts and Prasadam.  The programme ended at around 8:30 PM.  Hardly anyone felt that the programme had been going on for about 5 hours, so blissful was the mood.

Adhivas Kirtan

Immediately after the conclusion of the vidvat-goshthi, a two-hour session of adhivas  kirtan was held.  The venue was again the main courtyard in front of the temple.  Kirtaniyas came from outside and were joined by the ashram inmates as well as many visitors.  During adhivas kirtan, many Bengali passages composed by Vaishnava saints were sung in different classical tunes to invite Sri Mahaprabhu and His associates to the ashram.  It was interspersed with Sri Hari-nama-sankirtan.

 

Adhivas kirtan in the courtyard in front of the main temple

Ashta-prahar Kirtan

From the early morning of the next day (17th October), the kirtaniyas came again and started the 24-hour Sri-hari-nama-sankirtan session in the ashram.  The Hare Krishna Mahamantra was sung continuously till the next morning in different classical ragas.  The ashram inmates and visitors also joined them from time-to-time.

Meeting of the Society members

A few years ago, Sri Maharaj ji has established a registered Society by the name of Sri Haridas Shastri Go Seva Sansthan to look after the administration of various ashram activities.  The life-long President of the Society was Sri Maharaj ji himself.

 

Sri Hare Krishna Das Baba ji during the meeting

of the Society in which he was installed as its President

On 18th of October, the Secretary of the Society, Sri Sandeep Mittal convened a meeting of the founder members, executive committee members, patron members and life members of the Society.  About 50 members arrived and assembled in the main temple hall.  Everybody took darshan of the deities and then the meeting began.  All members agreed that the activities of the Society would continue smoothly in the future in accordance with the desires of Sri Maharaj ji.  As willed by Sri Maharaj ji, his senior disciple, Sri Hare Krishna Das Babaji, whose commitment to Go-Seva has been exemplary, was nominated as the next life-long President of the Society.  Few other issues were also discussed.

Bhandara (feast)

In the afternoon of 18th of October, a large feast (called ‘bhandara’ in the local language) was organised.  Sadhus of Vraja, disciples of Sri Maharaj ji and many other visitors were invited for the feast.  The venue was in front of the Samadhi temples.  Sri Hanuman ji’s temple, Sri Param-Guru ji’s Samadhi temple and Sri Maharaj ji’s Samadhi temple were decorated abundantly with flowers.  A day prior to the bhandara, the ashram building, go-shala building and the Samadhi temple around the area of the bhandara were painted and spruced up.  A large and beautiful tent was erected in the area in front of the Samadhi temples.  The ground was covered with a green carpet.  Visitors sat in rows and were offered sumptuous, delicious prasadam.  In a single sitting, about 250 persons could be accommodated.

 

Go-shala buildings around the bhandara area being spruced up

A separate waiting area was prepared in another place (in the space on the right side of the door of the ashram building) for visitors to wait.  There was a separate tent there and the ground was covered with a green carpet and then with soft mattresses and white sheets for the visitors to sit and relax while waiting for their turn at having prasadam.  Many visitors went inside the ashram building to have darshan of the deities.  They also paid obeisance in front of Sri Maharaj ji’s room where Sri Maharaj ji’s bed and study table have been kept as memorabilia of Sri Maharaj ji.  Three large pictures of Sri Pandit Baba, Param-Guru ji and Sri Maharaj ji adorn the room.  Visitors also met and paid obeisance to Sri Hare Krishna Das Babaji and Sri Bhagavat Prapanna Das Babaji.

 

Room of nitya-lila pravishta Sri Sri Haridas Shastri ji Maharaj

on the day of bhandara

 

Temple deities on the day of bhandara

(L-R): Sri Gaura Sri Gadadhar Sri Govindadev, Sri Radha

Delicious varieties of prasadam were distributed to the assembled vraja-vasis, sadhus, disciples and visitors.  Young vraja-vasi boys in uniform (white dhoti and yellow kurta) were serving prasadam to all.  Cooks worked for three days within the ashram to prepare the large quantities of prasadam.  In all about 1500 persons were served prasadam

 

The bhandara (the pink tinge in the picture is due to the colour of the tent)

 

 

Temple of Sri Hanuman ji and Samadhi temples of

param Guruji and Sri Maharaj ji decked up with

floral decorations, in front of which bhandara took place

The cooking was efficiently managed and supervised by one of our God-brothers, Sri Dalchand ji.

Before departing, every invitee was served ample dakshina as well as a packet of prasadam each, to be carried home.  Throughout the programme, all invitees appeared to be deeply satisfied.  The overall atmosphere was serene and peaceful.

 

Samadhi of nitya-lila pravishta

Sri Sri Haridas Shastri ji Maharaj

The events at “Sri Haridas Niwas”, Vrindavan received the attention of the local media as well.  A wide and detailed coverage was given in the local newspapers and the cable TV channels.

Thus ended the viraha-utsav of His Holiness Sri Sri Haridas Shastri ji Maharaj.

sakshat-haritvena samasta-shastrairuktastatha bhavyata eva sadbhih |

kintu prabhoryah priya eva tasya vande guroh sricharanaravindam ||

(“All the scriptures declare that Sri Gurudev is Sri Hari Himself, and saintly devotees consider so as well. I worship the lotus feet of that Sri Gurudev who, in spite of being Sri Hari Himself has a relationship of inseperable mamattva to Lord Sri Hari.” –Sri Guru-ashtakam)

 ||Sri Hari||