This moving story is taken from the Holy Biography of Nityalilapravishta Om Visnupada Paramahamsa 108 SriSrila Bhakti Dayita Madhava Gosvami Maharaja. In this anecdote, one Sri Kamakhya Carana Sen asks questions of his Guru Maharaja, Srila Bhakti Dayita Madhava Gosvami Maharaja, which led him to make a life changing decision. Sri Kamakhya Carana Sen is known today as His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaja, who is the narrator of this story. A full English edition of this biography will be available from GOKUL in the near future.
In this text, the title “Srila Gurudeva” refers to Srila Bhakti Dayita Madhava Gosvami Maharaja.
In 1947, Srila Gurudeva again visited Assam. He had gone there at the request of a householder devotee of Sri Gaudiya Math at Gowalapada (the headquarters of Gowalapada Mahakuma) named Srimad Radha Mohana dasa Adhikari. Accompanying Him on this journey were Srimat Krsnakesava Brahmacari, Srimad Uddharana Brahmacari, Sriman Madhavananda Vrajavasi and Srimad Ratharudha dasa Brahmacari. Srila Gurudeva and the other Vaisnavas stayed at the residence of Radha Mohana Prabhu. Religious meetings were organized at different sites throughout the city. Advocate Sri Ksiroda Sen presided over a special session of Hari-Sabha.
The local government pleader Sri Kamakhya Carana Sen, the pleader of Mecapada estate, Sri Priyakumara Guharaya and other prominent citizens were also present. Sri Kamakhya Carana, the son of Sri Dhirendra Kumara Guharaya, met Srila Gurudeva for the first time at the residence of Srimad Radha Mohana Prabhu. Later, he became Sri Krsna Ballabh Brahmacari, and eventually Srimad Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaja. Sri Kamakhya Carana and His friend, Devavrata (Ravi) approached Srila Gurudeva with many philosophical queries. When Sri Kamakhya Carana paid obeisances to Srila Gurudeva, who was seated on His bed, he shuddered, experiencing the electrifying effect of the showering of His blessings. Sri Kamakhya Carana asked, “Repeatedly chanting the name of Hari, I often have the feeling that soon I will obtain darsana of Bhagavan, but as soon as the thought arises that I will leave my loved ones, I become afraid and I cease chanting. By what method can I continue to chant at such moments?”
Although the question lacked intelligence and depth, Srila Gurudeva endeavored to explain with the help of an example. He replied, “Some ducks were swimming in a pond which was foul and stagnant. With great glee they were living by eating snails, worms, prawns, etc., in that putrid environment. One day, they saw their cousins flying overhead in the azure sky. They were in all respects, from feather to size, very beautiful. The ducks on the pond reasoned that the handsome appearance of their cousins was due to the fact that where their cousins soared was a better place than their own pond. Then they felt sorry for themselves, thinking that if they could only go to that place, they too would become as attractive as their cousins. However, the birds in the sky were actually swans who were returning to Manasa Sarovara from the sea. Seeing the forlorn expression of the ducks, one of the swans felt pity for them, and circled downwards. The ducks were filled with a sense of awe upon seeing this majestic creature more closely. They prayed to be taken to the swan’s abode. The swan said that it was for this very reason that he had descended from above to take the ducks away from that unhealthy, foul place. The ducks, however, replied that they did not possess the strength to fly far and high. Full of compassion, the swan suggested to the ducks that they climb onto his back. Upon hearing this, the ducks conferred with one another and then asked the swan whether or not they would find snails and worms in their new place of residence. The swan replied that such low creatures are not to be found in the Himalayan Manasa Sarovara. In that place, they live by eating the lotus flower. Speaking in chorus, the ducks wanted to know how they would therefore survive there. Unanimously, they decided not to go. It was the petty attractions of the pond that held the ducks back. Analogously, it is the external gross creations of Maya and its attractions that act as barriers to our leaving this mundane world. Sri Bhagavan, uncontaminated by material attributes, is ever blissful and any place He is present becomes pure and sanctified. There is nothing in the place where He resides that is foul or temporary. Those who cling to the creations and manifestations of Maya can never reach the True Creator. Bhagavan and Maya are polar opposites. Man cannot become free from base desires without the help of sadhus:
tato duhsangam utsrjya
satsu sajjeta buddhiman
santa evasya chindanti
“The wise avoid the wicked and seek the holy. One who is holy, offering holy advice, cuts asunder the desires that create obstructions in one’s spiritual life.”
Srimad Radha Mohana Prabhu had taken diksa initiation from Srila Prabhupada. As Sri Radha Mohana Brahmacari, he had resided at the Math for a period of time. When he became a householder, he took the name Srimad Radha Mohana Adhikari. The residents of Gowalapada greatly respected him for his devotion and chanting. To them, he was known as “Radha Mohana da.” He worked in the Records Office of the uncle of Sri Kamakhya Carana (Srimad Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaja). Being thus connected, and residing in the same village, Srimad Radha Mohana Prabhu had great concern for the spiritual advancement of Srimad Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaja. Mention should also be made that the devoted wife of Radha Mohana Prabhu was also very instrumental and made her valuable contribution in this regard. Radha Mohana Prabhu was the main source of inspiration behind Srimad Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaja’s decision to join Sri Gaudiya Math, and as a result of this, he had to suffer taunts and criticisms.
Srila Gurudeva used to send letters to Sri Kamakhya Carana at the address of Sri Radha Mohana. In one letter, answering some queries of Srimad Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaja, Srila Gurudeva had advised Him to peruse the work of Srimad Bhaktivinoda Thakura known as “Jaiva Dharma.” By reading this book, Srimad Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaja was able to set to rest any doubts He may have had. Srila Gurudeva expressed the opinion that a government job would not be suitable for a person who had opted for the life of a monk, and who wished to follow the path of renunciation. The householder who chants the Name of Hari should always seize any opportunity to advance his spiritual life. Heeding these words of advice from Srila Gurudeva and finding it impossible to perform adequate bhajana in His present circumstances, Sri Kamakhya Carana resolved never to enter householder life.