Vraja-līlā

<< 15 Feeling Separation >>

His Holiness Tamal Krishna Goswami

Today I have seen how much love a spiritual master may have for his disciples. Although Indradyumna Swami is one of the most active preachers in our society, still he came here for two days to be with Vraja Līlā. Actually, when I inquired this morning from Kārtidā, Vraja Līlā’s nurse, she told me that Vraja Līlā might possibly last another week. I said that she knows her Guru Mahārāja will be here for only one or two days, so I think everything was arranged by Kṛṣṇa in such a perfect way.

How fortunate and elevated this girl is, that she had her Guru Mahārāja sitting by her side at death, giving her instructions and constantly chanting for her! When we think about this, we remember how Haridāsa Ṭhākura passed away. Haridāsa Ṭhākura wanted to see the lotus feet of his beloved Lord, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, and pass away in His presence. The very same thing has happened here today.

Indradyumna Mahārāja came here to instruct her and to chant for her, and then very peacefully, without having to experience any unnecessary pain or difficulty, in his association she passed away. Now she can bless all of us. She was praying for our blessings, but I think her achievement and her destination places her in a position where we can pray to her for her blessings.

Although some of us begin as gurus for our disciples, it seems that these disciples are more fortunate than we are. They get the right names, and they leave in the right situations. Actually many of them are elevated personalities.

When Śrīlā Prabhupāda was getting ready to leave his body he saw that we were very unhappy, but he kept reminding us there was nothing to lament for. Whether a Vaiṣṇava comes into this world or leaves this world, it is the same. We should understand that this girl is a great Vaiṣṇavī. From what I know, and others can say, she endeared herself so much to so many devotees in Vṛndāvana. Devotees in Vṛndāvana are not ordinary, and for someone to do that means they have a very soft devotional heart.

Other devotees here will speak, and at some point I’d like to hear Indradyumna Mahārāja lead a very big kīrtana so I can remember Lord Caitanya holding Haridāsa Ṭhākura and chanting the holy names. The situation here is very similar. Vraja Līlā’s Guru Mahārāja is a most wonderful kīrtaniya, and we should have such a kīrtana that it will immediately uplift all our spirits and enable us to understand that there is nothing lamentable on this glorious occasion. We are to be pitied because we are sitting here at least I am, with all of my anarthas. But here is a girl who achieved such a perfect departure.

His Holiness Girirāja Swami

The first time I met Vraja Līlā was when she came to visit Arcā Vigraha dāsī. I could see they had a sweet relationship. After Arcā Vigraha passed away, Vraja Līlā came back to ask me some questions. Her questions were so elevated and so sincere that I could understand she was a very special devotee.

When I came back from Bombay, I was thinking of her strongly and felt that I must go and see her again. Just as I was thinking this, Kuntī devī came and said Vraja Līlā was asking for me. But I couldn’t go at that moment, so I recorded a message and sent it to her. Then I visited her a few hours later.

She was still in good consciousness and could see, hear and speak without much difficulty. We had kīrtana, and I spoke some Kṛṣṇa-kathā, and she asked me some questions afterwards. Then she came to the point of her impending departure and requested that I give her the same mercy I had given to Arcā Vigraha. I said, “What do you mean?” She replied that she wanted the confidence that she would be successful at the time of death. I spoke some words to her, and at the end she said, “Thank you very much. My doubt is removed.”

The next morning, Kuntī devī came to see me again and said she felt that although everything was auspicious for Vraja Līlā, something was not quite right with her. She felt Vraja Līlā was missing her Guru Mahārāja, Indradyumna Swami, and we should ask him to come. I suggested she contact him. It was Indradyumna Mahārāja’s own inner spirit and Vraja Līlā’s own pure devotion that brought him here.

The purpose for which he came and the purpose for which she wanted him to come were fulfilled in a very short time. I feel that the event was completely auspicious. She was, and is, a wonderful devotee. Through our association with her in these last days, as brief as it may have been, we have learnt many things. We are indebted to her, and we hope she will look over us kindly and help us in our own attempts to become Kṛṣṇa conscious.

I feel that because her Guru Mahārāja is such a perfect representative of Caitanya Mahāprabhu, it is extremely appropriate and glorious that she should pass away in his presence. Hare Kṛṣṇa.

His Holiness Indradyumna Swami

When Śrīlā Prabhupāda arrived at our temple in Paris in 1973 and sat on the vyāsāsana, the first thing he did was thank all of us, his disciples, for all the service we had done. At that time I felt very awkward that my spiritual master was inspired by my devotional service and was thanking me for it.

Now, many years later, by his mercy I understand why he felt like that, because I am also feeling very indebted to my disciple, Vraja Līlā dāsī, for teaching me so many things today. In particular she has shown me how much love the disciple can have for the spiritual master. I pray to love Śrīlā Prabhupāda as much as she loves me. Her love was so powerful that it dragged me thousands of miles across the oceans and deserts to Śrī Vṛndāvana-dhāma to help her leave her body.

A few days ago, I was sitting in an apartment in a tiny village somewhere in the south of Poland when the telephone rang. It was my disciple Mānasī Gaṇgā dāsī. My first reaction was “How did she get this telephone number?” I used that apartment two years ago and had come there for only five minutes that day. And suddenly I was getting a phone call from Mānasī Gaṇgā in India.

She said, “Śrīlā Gurudeva, Vraja Līlā is very, very ill and she may pass away at any moment. Please come to Vṛndāvana to help her.”

I hesitated to go immediately, because I knew that Vraja had been through leukemia crises before. Several years ago she had a crisis in Russia and had pulled out of it. I wasn’t sure if she would actually leave this time. I was apprehensive about leaving Poland because we were in the middle of a major festival tour. We were holding three festivals a week with more than five hundred people attending each time. I was torn between going to Vṛndāvana for the possible departure of Vraja Līlā and staying and continuing with my service.

I was thinking the only way I could solve the dilemma of whether or not to go to Vṛndāvana was to ask a godbrother to help me. That evening, my secretary, Nṛsiṁha Kavaca dāsa, checked his telephone answering service and picked up a faint message from Kuntī devī in India. She was also insisting I come to Vṛndāvana because Vraja Līlā was getting worse. Then she mentioned that Girirāja Mahārāja also felt strongly that I should come.

I immediately telephoned Girirāja Mahārāja in Vṛndāvana and discussed the matter with him. We agreed that I should come, but I explained that I couldn’t stay away from my service for long. I was in anxiety that if I came to Vṛndāvana and Vraja Līlā didn’t depart within the two or three days I was there, then she would be devastated when I had to leave. I asked him, “Considering this, is it better to go or stay?”

I requested him to discuss the matter with Tamal Krishna Mahārāja and said that I would accept their answer. The next day Gāndharvikā Giridhārī called me with their reply, “No one can answer your question. No one.”

This was their answer. But they were very intelligent, because they gave this message through Gāndharvikā Giridhārī and Vaiṣnavī. When these two disciples got on the phone, they pleaded with me to come. I finally agreed.

But I was still in anxiety about leaving the festival tour. So I went into the temple room and prayed to Śrīlā Prabhupāda, “Śrīlā Prabhupāda, please give me an indication that what I’m doing is right.”

Forty-five minutes later Nṛsiṁha Kavaca dāsa came running into my room. He said, “Śrīlā Gurudeva, B. B. Govinda Mahārāja wants you to contact him urgently in Russia. He’s left his telephone number.” I reached for the phone, dialed and was surprised to get through on the first try. Sometimes it takes days to get through to Russia. Govinda Mahārāja came on the line and said, “Indradyumna Swami, you must go to Vṛndāvana immediately. Vraja Līlā is about to leave her body.” I said, “Mahārāja, it’s Śrīlā Prabhupāda’s mercy you contacted me. I’m on my way. Thank you very much.”

Through Vraja Līlā’s departure I have experienced how deep the guru-disciple relationship can be. Just a few hours before she passed away she was asking such nice questions. As I gave the answers I was thinking this is like Lord Caitanya inquiring from Rāmānanda Rāya. Lord Caitanya knows the answers, but He is eliciting them from Rāmānanda Rāya and enjoying hearing him glorify Kṛṣṇa. As I was answering Vraja Līlā’s questions I felt she knew the answers but she was giving me the chance to glorify Śrīlā Prabhupāda and Kṛṣṇa.

In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, in the chapter describing the glories of Dhruva Mahārāja, Śrīlā Prabhupāda explains that one of Dhruva Mahārāja’s gurus was his mother, because she was the one who directed him to go to the forest to find God. Eventually Dhruva Mahārāja became fully Kṛṣṇa conscious. As he was going back to Godhead in a Vaikuṇṭha airplane he remembered, “Oh, my mother, Sunīti! Where is she? I don’t want to go back without her.” The Lord answered his prayers, and soon Dhruva saw that she was also going back to Godhead in a Vaikuṇṭha airplane.

In his purports to this pastime, Śrīlā Prabhupāda says that sometimes the disciple can actually deliver the guru. So I am praying to Vraja Līlā to please continue to shower her mercy upon me as my wonderful Kṛṣṇa conscious disciple.

I would also like to express my heartfelt thanks and appreciation to another very dear disciple of mine, Gāndharvikā Giridhārī dāsī, who took care of Vraja Līlā for two years. I entrusted Vraja Līlā to her and she carried out this service perfectly. I know it will be difficult for her to bear the separation of Vraja Līlā. All of us will experience separation, but I think this will be especially true for Gāndharvikā. She and Vraja were like one body.

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