6th March, 2015. Gurgaon
Kindly accept my good wishes for Gaur Purnima and Holi.
I had the good fortune, or some sukriti, to be able to attend the sanyasa diksha of HG Ganganarayan Prabhuji, who is now HH Bhakti Prema Swami, at Ujjain yesterday. He is the first disciple of HH Bhakti Charu Swami to get sanyasa diksha. I took darshan of guru maharaj, that too on Gaur Purnima day, and association of so many senior vaishnavas and then saw an exceptionally qualified devotee & disciple becoming a sanyasi. So it was all extra extra bonuses for my parched soul.
I didn’t have the good fortune to get too much association of HH Bhakti Prema Maharaj but whenever I have met maharaj in the past he always gave me something- to act upon, to contemplate or to follow. I have never met him without receiving some form of mercy from him. Maharaj is very humble in nature, does wonderful Gaur katha & deep explanations of vaishnava bhajans, in other words maharaj is adorned with the finest of vaishnava qualities. Maharaj is a qualified MBBS doctor who surrendered to his spiritual master in his very first meeting with him.
I could get association of HH Bhakti Prema Maharaj who met devotees and answered their questions with ease and in a style we could all absorb it.
HH Bhakti Charu swami maharaj too met devotees briefly and informed, to the delight of all the present, that there is going to be a mid year retreat in Rishikesh, India, this year. Hari Bol !
Later, I was fortunate to meet so many senior devotees from all over the country. At one such time I was in association of HG Mukunda Priya Prabhuji and other devotees from Surat, all listening with rapt attention to HG Parashurama Prabhuji’s witty anecdotes. During the conversation Prabhuji asked `who is a vaishnava?’, we all knew that something different was coming our way. Prabhuji then narrated a very nice story which I am sharing below.
Many years back there was a disciple in Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya, at Srirangam, who once asked Parasara Bhatt `what are the true qualities of a Vaishnava? Parasara Bhatt did not give a direct answer and instead instructs this devotee to go to Tirupati and ask this question from Ananta Acharya. The devotee, after several days of travel, reached Tirupati. After reaching there he met Ananta Acharya and asked the same question. To his surprise, Ananta Acharya ignores his question. When the devotee observes that Ananta Acharya didn’t reply he feels that may be he is not qualified to ask such a question or may be didn’t ask the question in a submissive mood and he needs to become more humble. He then start serving the temple and devotees. After some time there was a festival in the temple and a lot of devotees were attending it. Ananta Acharya saw this devotee sitting down and waiting to honour the prasadam. He asked the devotee to first serve all the other devotees before taking his prasadam. The devotee readily gets up and enthusiastically serves till the last guest was fed.
After the festival was over Ananta Acharya called this devotee and told him that he will now reply to his question. He answered that a true Vaishnava is like a crane, like a hen, like salt and like you. The devotee thanked him but he could not understand its real meaning. He comes back to Parasara Bhatt, narrates him the whole story and then requests him to explain its meaning to him. Parasara Bhatt, of course, understood it all and explained as :
Crane: A crane stands on one leg for hours and keep looking in the water. If he sees a small fish, he let it pass but as soon as he sees a big fish he immediately catches it. Similarly a Vaishnava does not want to hear the talk of mundane people who are like small fish but he is eager to feast on the wisdom of great devotees who are like a big fish. Also a crane’s colour is white, symbol for purity and pure goodness. In the same way the heart of a Vaishnava is always completely pure and his actions are always for the good of others. Another quality of a crane is that during the change of season a crane flies hundreds of kilometers to a new country/region. Similarly when a Vaishnava sees that a place in which he is living is full of material dealings, he will leave that place and seek the association of true devotees elsewhere.
Hen: A hen goes to garbage bins which are full of rubbish and picks out some very wholesome seeds, it eats them and feeds them to the kids. Similarly, a Vaishnava is Saragrahi, he is only concerned with the essence not with other things. So a vaishnava picks up the essence of all the shastras, filtering out the rest, and gives the same to others as well.
Salt: When we taste a delicious preparation, we usually glorify different items but not the salt. Actually it is the salt which brings out the flavour in any preparation but no one talks about it, it remains hidden. Similarly a true Vaishnava is forever willing to do great service and yet he doesn’t want any glory for himself and wants to remain hidden. As as in order to give flavor to the preparation, the salt is willing to melt and completely willing to give up its identity, similarly, a Vaishnava too is willing to give up everything just to serve the devotees.
You : It means that like you served other devotee, a vaishnava always serves others.
What a beautiful way to explain the characteristics of a Vaishnava! I really liked the comparison of vaishnava with the salt.
HH Bhakti Prema swami has all the above four attributes in generous amount.
It was an impromptu trip, which I hastily planned after speaking with Murari Prabhuji. We, myself and Shyamsundar prabhuji, spent less than 6 hours in Ujjain and almost 24 hours in the train journey but my soul felt satiated due to association with so many vaishnavas, from the beginning to the very end of my trip.
All glories to our illustrious guru parampara.
All glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
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