Reclaiming Srila Prabhupada’s birthplace at Puri

Srila Gurudev, His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Ballab Tirtha Goswami Maharaj, have always told us about the transcendental, very hard struggle our institution has made for getting back the birthplace of Srila Prabhupad at Puri. I wanted to share this struggle on the request of Srila B.A. Paramadvaiti Maharaj, who always wanted that the world must know the kind of struggle made by my Gurudev and his Gurudev for getting back the holy birthplace of Srila Prabhupad in Puri.

Most of the time we hear that most of the godbrothers of our Param Gurudeva Nitya Lila Pavitram Om Vishnupada Stotam Srimad Bhakti Dayita Madhava Goswami Maharaj approached him in 1970 and requested him to do something for getting back the birthplace site at Puri of Srila Prabhupada, so that we can have a good birthplace temple over there. On the request of his godbrothers, Srila Dayita Madhava Goswami Maharaji first decided to approach the other gaudiya acaryas senior to him for same purpose but he got no response from them and finally he decided that now so many Vaisnava wanted it so he must do it.

Whenever our Param Gurudev decided to do anything it was like a do or die situation for him. He would always finish what he started. Very soon after the struggle in Puri began very soon it dawned unto him that it is something impossible because the place where Thakur Bhaktivinod has stayed in Puri with his family was belonging to one math in Puri and after they left Puri that place was divided between 30,40 different tenants. He would stay there for years to get it.

In India it is very difficult to take back your property from tenants. So my Guru Maharaj was then the secretary of Sri Chaitanya Gaudiya math and Param Gurudev instructed him to work for this purpose. Both of them took it as their life objective. It was a more spiritual task for them than anything else. So, they started working in Puri practically and on ground. My Gurudev was working on the field and the whole story is about the and honesty with which he worked for almost ten years to get back that particular holy place which is holiest of the holiest places for the Sarasvat Gaudiya Vaisnavas.

So I will try to translate from the biography written by my Guru Maharaj, biography of his Gurudev and the title is Pavan Jivan Caritra Sriman Bhakti Dayita Madhava Goswami Maharaj. So here there is a chapter of Sri Caitanya Gaudiya Math for Puri. Grand road Puri. My Gurudev writes here that according to the worldwide Sri Chaitanya Math and Sri Gaudiya Math Srila Prabhupada appeared on 6th feb 1874 Friday Magi Krishna Pancami Tithi in Purushottam month. The place is very close to Sri Jagannath temple. Its Narayan Chatta Math a joining place where Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur resided with his family. In Padma Purana it is stated that the whole world will get Krishna Bhakti from Utgath. To fulfill this prediction Srila Prabhupada appeared in Puri at Purushottam dham. This birthplace is very holy for all his disciples and disciples of disciples. So when they decided to get it back it was a very tough job. They had to stay in Puri in Dudwala Dharamsala where the rooms were inundated with ants, mosquitos and all kind of insects, but they had to stay at those rooms which were very close to the birthplace and they tolerated all the hardships. They, means my Gurudev and his Gurudev. So everyone was admonishing Param Gurudev that this would be a very difficult job to complete, and that he should not try to do it, but he would never reply to them and he would always keep on trying, trying and trying more and instruct his secretary to write letters to chief ministers – Sri Sadashiv and Sridev misra who were endowed commissioners and he would fix appointment and then he would meet personally and request. In all this effort one Udhana math Acarya Tridandi Swami Srimad Bhakti Sundar Sagar Maharaj helped them. He introduced them to one Sri Ranganath Misra who was advocate of Cuttack and finally became chief justice of supreme court of India and Ranghanath Misra became very much helpful in this holy endeavor. Actually that place belonged to Sri Dakshin parshav math that was owned by this math. The whole building and the land and the mahant of that math has leased that building for 99 years to Araya family. Bimal araya and Gopinath araya and forefathers has got this lease from that math and they constructed a two big store house in that place, which was the same place where Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur was staying when was the administrator of Jagannath Mandir.

While staying in this house in 1874 Srila Jagat Guru Srila Prabhupada appeared. So after a very long time of lease, Dakshin parshav math write to the court to take back that property. And as in India the case went from judge court high court to supreme court and they got back the property from araya family. But when they got back the property it was already subdivided between 14, 15 families who were staying there for years. So it was heavy to get back that property for the math. So at that time even Iskcon was interested to get that place and they came and tried but finally they gave up because of the complexity, but Param Gurudev was not taken aback by all complexities and problems, he was only fixed on the objective that he has to take back the birthplace of his Gurudeva.

Even people from Sri Chaitanya Gaudiya Math advised Gurudeva not to go for this kind of complicated endeavor but he was indifferent to all these advisers. So Dakshin parshav math were now the owner, but unable to get the position of the property because there were so many tenants there. They have lost hope that they will ever get back that property. At the time on the advice of Sri Ranganath Misra advocate our Param Gurudev decided to buy that property. They made an offer to Dakshin Parshav Math, who were reluctant in the beginning, but later they said: "if we do not get the possession of the property we better sell it off". So without having the possession, the property was bought by Param Gurudev and in the moment they got the papers from the property he was so happy that he said this to many people. At that time there were so many obstacles from other maths who created problems by writing to different ministers and government that they are the real inheritors of this place, which became another bottle neck in getting back the property.

On the one hand there were tenants, on the other there were people from different Gaudiya maths who were not permitting our Param gurudev to do what he wanted to do. So then during all this struggle many chief ministers and government commissioners were changed and many people came for help. And one of the very prominent persons who helped was Sri Ganga Dharmaha Patra of Puri. And he promised that he will do everything to get back that property for us. And just when they were going to get back from Parashav Math, they came to know that other Gaudiya Maths have approached for getting back in their name. When he heard this our Param Gurudev became very sad because from very beginning he asked these people to help but when they refused and took no interest only then he took initiative to take alone. But now when he was going to take it back they jumped into it. So he was very upset. He cut short his north Indian tour and came back to Puri and stayed in this difficult situation. At that time our Param Guru Maharaj was absolutely dependent on the field work of his secretary of my Gurudev who was running from pillars to post to get the things done.

Gurudev used to stay on the bank of the Puri sea at Chaitanya ashram which is one of the branch of Param Pujyapad Tridandi Srimad Bhakti Kumud Santa Goswami Maharaj who gave accommodation for staying, but the place was far away from the city and for all purposes for visiting courts and different offices Guru Maharaj was coming to Puri mostly on foot which was a 3,4 km walk and in hard sun sometimes he will get a rikshaw but mostly he will be on foot. And every day there were court cases at different courts because there were different tenants and different court cases were going simultaneously. In the beginning the advocates in the court used to joke about the sannyasi coming to courts, and they were not liking the idea that one holy man should be worried about visiting courts and having cases and all that, but Guru Maharaj was unmindful of all this criticism and he went on with his job and one day he got an opportunity to address these lawyers of Puri court. When they came to know about him, they became very much impressed and from now onwards they used to wait for him, and if some day he was not visiting the court they would inquire about him why he has not come. Because they were impressed that there can be someone so much obsessed with the object of getting back the birthplace of his Param Gurudev, they gradually started to help. Ultimately there were many obstacles, many problems and the kind of struggle which no one can make. Many godbrothers of Guru Maharaj who were told to help have left Puri telling this is not for what they have renounced the world and they have come for doing harinam and bhajan and not for struggling in courts and running in offices. So many could not stand the hard work and the hard struggle. And there were so many ups and downs that ultimately it looked like impossible to get the place back.

Finally the case went to the governor of Puri, mister Bili Jatti at that time. So once Param Gurudev decided to meet him and went to Bhubaneswar and when Param Guruji was entering governor residence he saw the governor leaving the place with the whole entourage of security cars and his own car so Param guruji came out of the taxi and stood on the road and suddenly all those cars stopped and the governor came out of the car broke the security cordon and offered obeisances to Param Gurudev.

Param Gurudev told him: "I came to see you" and he said "please, come I will meet you".

That was the influence of the personality of Param Gurudev. After the governor heard him, he decided in his favor and finally we got back the whole papers from the original leaser.

For one year Param Gurudev requested all the tenants to vacate and rent some other place, that this place should be utilized for some higher purpose, but no one was listening to him and after one year these tenants also fight a case against our math.

When these tenants fight the case we have no other option than to go to court in December 1975. Our advocates were Sritendranath Mukhaupadyaya, Narayan Misra and Sri Narayan Singh.

The case slowly came in our favor. Sri Bin Patra had a room next to the birthplace and he gave this room to our Math. My Gurudeva and his godbrothers stayed there, continuing the struggle against the tenants. Srimvat Krishna panda also gave a small room to our math. After getting this second room we celebrated the entrance festival in the Avirbhav Sthali of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur on 15. December, 1974. In that room our Param Gurudeva offered his arati-puja to a very big picture of Srila Prabhupada and a very good sankirtan there. A very big sign board was placed denoting that this is the birthplace os Srila Prabhupada.

The struggle to vacate this place continued, slowly one by one tenants left the place. In this process so many incidents happened, the tenants created so many problems for Guru Maharaja and the brahmacaris, even threatening them and committing all kinds of offenses. Nevertheless the struggle continued. Ultimately all tenants left and we got the building back in 1977. Between 1973 und 1977 all the entourage of Param Gurudeva, including my Guru Maharaja used to stay at Bhakti Kumud Santa Maharajs place which was Sri Chaitanya Ashram on Seashore. Many brachmacaris, like Bhagavata das brahmachari, Govardhan das, Sri Narayan das naren, Sridev Prasad brahmachari, they were helping Gurudev, but mostly Sri Gouranga Prasad brahmachari used to stay with Guru Maharaja and he used to accompany him to Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and other places. They used to stay at Duudvala dharamsala guesthouse at Bhubaneshwar and Banka bazar Santosh baba in Cuttack and sometimes in Satchidananda ashram in Cuttack.

In this way it was a very long run, an unimaginable struggle.

Guru Maharaja also writes about Pisima, one aunt who stayed in Chaitanya ashram. She was a very old disciple of Bhakti Kusum Santa Maharaja, but she was very sincere in her service and she was very famous as Pisima of Sheldi amongst the devotees.

When they got the two rooms adjoining to the birthplace, they shifted from Chaitanya Math to those rooms, and from there the struggle went on.

Ultimately, it is written that Guru, Vaishnava, Bhagavan, they also test the sincerity of purpose of a devotee. When one is very sincere, they bless this person and by that blessing the impossible becomes possible.

Guru Maharaja gave the example of Visvanath Chakravarti Thakur. There was a small bird which is Rangatuni species of bird, very small. You can hardly see this bird. And the bird gave eggs at the shore of the sea at a tree. And then, the bird returns to the eggs and finds all are gone. The bird came to know that there was a high tide and all eggs have gone to the sea. The bird was very upset and started praying to the sea, please, give me back the eggs, but there was no reply. After a long, long time this Rangatuni bird became very upset and decided: "I will dry up the ocean". With this determination she started emptying the sea with bringing one drop of water and putting on the sand. And other birds asked: "What are you doing?" and she said: "I will empty the sea because my eggs are there." They said: "Please stop this, it is something impossible" but the bird did not stop so ultimately this story reached Devarsi Narada. He asked what this bird is doing and talked to the bird but she said: "I am not going to stop." This impressed Narada so much that he went to Garuda. Garuda was told by Narada that he should help that small bird. It belongs to you. Garuda went to see. Garuda just slapped the sea with his very big wing and the sea came running bringing these small eggs of the bird.

If we are sincere God will definitely help. That was the story of getting back the birthplace where Guru Maharaj has done something which cannot be expressed with words properly, but those who has witnessed it acknowledge his contribution.

Hare Krishna


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