Bhakti Tirtha Swami enters into Nirjana Bhajana
Posted June 2, 2005
Dear Maharajas and Prabhus
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
Yesterday afternoon in Gita Nagari Dhama, H. H. Bhakti Tirtha Swami made his final public appearance. He was joined by H. H. Radhanatha Swami, H. H. Gunagrahi Swami, H. H. Bhaktivaibhava Swami, H. H. Bhakti Visvambhara Madhava Swami and H. H. Candramauli Swami. Bhakti Tirtha Swami spoke with great love and compassion to the devotees as he embarked on sixty minutes of honest and open sharing, explaining why this would be his last public appearance. "The time has now come to enter into nirjana bhajana," Maharaja revealed, sharing his decision to focus on his internal life by engaging in mana-seva (service in the mind). His desire now is only to speak, hear and think about Krsna. Maharaja went on to say that although a devotee is traditionally not meant to reveal his or her internal bhajana, it is also important at this time to consider priti, which involves revealing the mind in confidence and hearing others reveal their minds. In this mood, Maharaja desired to share some of his experiences involving the separation of the body, mind and soul that devotees undergo when they leave their bodies.
He went on to say that his perception of dying on the battlefield was to leave this world like Grandfather Bhismadeva, to preach until his very last breath. At the same time, he realizes that his service to Srila Prabhupada in this body, plane and institution is now over. As a result of his prayer in the mood of Vasudeva Dutta, Maharaja has opened himself up to being used as a puppet by Srila Prabhupada, publicly undergoing the death experience in such a way that he can share it with us, leaving his example as a legacy to assist in preparing us when we, too, one day must leave the body. So in many ways he is still dying on the battlefield.
Maharaja acknowledged that his service to Srila Prabhupada was unorthodox, and that this was both a blessing and a curse. A large part of his preaching involved being attentive to secular happenings on the planet, requiring him to acquire information through which he could relate to people involved in corporate leadership and politics. This was his sacrifice. By extending himself to preach, he fortunately received many blessings, but at the same time, immersing himself in secular subject matter did not supply the deep nourishment necessary for his soul. Now it was time for him to give his complete attention to the pastimes of Lord Krsna in Vraja.
From now on, Bhakti Tirtha Swami explained, the only devotees who would be seeing him personally would be his caregivers and H. H. Radhanatha Swami, who will be staying in Gita Nagari until Bhakti Tirtha Swami departs. Bhakti Tirtha Swami expressed his deep thanks to Radhanatha Swami, whom he views as a very special caregiver sent by Srila Prabhupada to assist him with the transition. If anyone else gets to see him, Maharaja said, it would be as a result of their services - as they bring something into his room, or read krsna katha to him. Only hearing, speaking and thinking of Krsna and Vrndavana from now on, Maharaja cautioned devotees that he would more than likely not respond if any other topic is brought up in his presence. The twice daily kirtana outside his room will continue: although the devotees who come to sing for him may not see Maharaja in person, they should know that he really appreciates their services.
Before closing with three quotes regarding nirjana bhajana, Bhakti Tirtha Swami emphasised the need for us to understand this process properly. Under no circumstances should it be undertaken prematurely.
'While Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu thus resided at Jagannatha Puri (Nilacala), he was continuously overwhelmed, night and day, by separation from Krsna. Day and night He tasted transcendental blissful songs and verses with two associates, namely Svarupa Damodara and Ramananda Raya. He relished the symptoms of various transcendental emotions such as jubilation, lamentation, anger, humility, anxiety, grief, eagerness and satisfaction. He would recite His own verses, expressing their meanings and emotions, and thus enjoy tasting them with these two friends. Sometimes the Lord would be absorbed in a particular emotion and would stay awake all night reciting verses and relishing their taste.'
(CC. Antya 20.3 - 7)
'Thus Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur advocated that every devotee, under the guidance of an expert spiritual master, preach the bhakti cult, Krsna consciousness, all over the world. Only when one is mature can he sit in a solitary place and retire from preaching all over the world. Following this example, the devotees of the International Society for Krsna Consciousness now render service as preachers in various parts of the world. Now they can allow the spiritual master to retire from active preaching work. In the last stage of the spiritual master's life, the devotees of the spiritual master should take the preaching activities into their own hands. In this way the spiritual master can sit down in a solitary place and render nirjana-bhajana.'
(Srila Prabhupada - SB 4.28.33)
'In 1977 A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, at the age of 82, suffered illness repeatedly and became in a physically weakened state. He decided to discontinue his travelling around the world and take shelter of Vrndavana dhama, the sacred place of Lord Krsna's pastimes. He listened and chanted Hare Krsna and meditated on the transcendental pastimes of Krsna, throughout the day and night. However, Srila Prabhupada remained in the association of his loving disciples, who assisted him during his final pastime by chanting, very softly and sweetly, the Hare Krsna mantra 24 hours a day. Srila Prabhupada said that this was his 'nirjana-bhajana', and that his sannyasi disciples, including the translator of this work, had to take over the responsibility of travelling and preaching all over the world, as he would not be able to travel anymore. This great spiritual master had taken shelter of Lord Krsna in Vrndavana during the last days of this life.
(H. H. Jayapataka Swami - Commentary on Srila Bhaktisiddhanta's Vaisnava Ke?, Verse 19)
After answering some questions from gurukulis, Bhakti Tirtha Swami had to leave the programme due to intense bodily discomfort. The remaining sannyasis continued to take further questions. We invite you to listen to the entire class, available on www.btswami.com or www.ifast.net
Your aspiring servant,
Citi-Sakti Devi Dasi