This article was originally posted in Jagadananda Dasa’s blog, a Sanskrit teacher, writer and translator, currently located in Rishikesh, India.
Kutichak Prabhu invited my wife and me to come to Ste-Agathe for a program with Bhaktivedanta Sadhu Maharaj. Kutichak kept repeating that Paramadvaiti Maharaj, Sadhu Maharaj’s sannyasa guru, insisted that we meet. To tell you the truth, decent sadhu sanga is hard to come by in this part of the world, and I have long wanted to meet this Brajavasi of noble origins and get to know him better. There is an article about him on the old VNN site.
On arrival, I gave Maharaj my last copy of Madhurya Kadambini, which was left over after my course. I had never met Maharaj before, but after talking with him a little, I found out that he was never forced to give up his initiation in the Nityananda parivar. Radha Govinda Das Babaji was the first preacher of Gaudiya Vaishnavism in the Munger region, probably in the late 19th century. If I am not mistaken, this Baba is mentioned in Vrajake Bhakta by O.B.L. Kapoor, which will need to go back and check out. As far as I can remember, he converted the then king of Munger, which was a fairly large sized principality under the Raj, and ever since then, the royal family’s kula gurus have been Nityananda-vamsis. The Munger royal family has its temple on the Mathura Road near the crossing of the Parikrama Path in Vrindavan.
Anyway (all this conversation was going on in Hindi) Maharaj surprised me by showing a very warm and favorable attitude to Ananta Das Babaji and other representatives of the bhajananandi community, including my own Gurudeva. He did not seem to completely understand all the issues involved, at least he asked questions about the sources of quarrel between Lalita Prasad Thakur and Siddhanta Saraswati, but he clearly showed admiration for my Prabhu, and even at one point said to one of the other devotees there, that manjari-bhava was an absolute necessity for bhajan in our sampradaya. He is a Brajavasi and Radhaikanta-prana.
After Maharaj led the Jaya Radha Madhava kirtan, everyone was sitting around waiting for him to speak. Instead he asked me to sing Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s Radha bhajane jadi mati nahi bhela kirtan. People had a little trouble following, so after a couple of verses, Maharaj just asked me to start explaining it. Talk about “give a dog a bone”–I was off to the races. If you have been reading the contents of the past few weeks on this site, you will have a general idea of the kinds of things that were discussed–a fair amount of Prema-vilasa, etc. I steered clear of some of my more controversial issues, as it was a mostly mixed audience of Iskcon and various Gaudiya Math disciples. But, on the whole, I feel that it was well received. Most of all by Sadhu Maharaj, who sat there with his eyes closed and a smile on his face most of the time. So I had a good time, and I hope everyone else did, too. I thanked Maharaj and everyone else for allowing me to speak, especially on such a sweet subject.
Maharaj will be at Prahlad’s place in the Ottawa valley tonight and then heading back to New Hampshire tomorrow.