Gurudeva’s Friend

Gurudeva has a friend called Vishwaroop Baba. The friendship between my beloved spiritual master and Vishwaroop Baba spans over many years, I do not know how many years. I will address Vishwaroop Baba as simply Baba for the sake of this article. Baba is a resident of Vrindavana and resides at the Samadhi sthali (Place of Samadhi) of the great Gaudiya saint Prabodhananda Saraswatipada at Kali Deh. The relationship between Baba and Gurudeva is a unique one. Srila Gurudeva is extremely particular about the Seva he does for Sriman Mahaprabhu and Sri Sri Radha Krishna at Charan Pahari. Once every quarter of a year Srila Gurudeva pays a visit to Vraja to meet us and spend some Quality Guru-Sisya time with us and thus take association of Vrindavana Dhama. This is the time when some of his close householder disciples visit Vraja from different parts of the country and associate deeply with Srila Gurudeva. Charan Pahari is at the north eastern part of India in the state of Jharkhand while Vraja is on the north western side of central India.

sanatana-goswami-2Srila Gurudeva does the Vigraha seva of his deities at Charan Pahari with unparalleled attachment and these Sri Vigrahas are his very heart and soul. He would never hand-over the seva to anyone who shows even the slightest disinterest or inattention towards seva. However Srila Gurudeva summons for Baba every quarter for about three to four days till the time Gurudeva is in Vrindavana. Baba would nonchalantly purchase a few tickets of multiple trains to Ramgharh near Kuju village where Charan Pahari is located because there is no direct train to Ramgharh from Mathura. On his arrival a day before our Gurudeva’s departure to Vraja, the two friends would share their hearts and Gurudeva would blissfully handover the Vigraha Seva at Charan Pahari to Baba and he himself would peacefully travel to Vraja. In the whole arrangement what really intrigues me from a worldly point of view is the spiritual relationship between these two friends. The other day I was asked by Srila Gurudeva to visit Baba at Kali Deh and make arrangements for his regular quarterly travel to Charan Pahari by train. As I reached Kali Deh I was inspired to pose before Baba a few questions which would otherwise keep me in wonderment. I asked him “Baba, how is that, every time Gurudeva asks you to attend to him, you undertake this arduous journey by sleeper class to Charan Pahari and also take the pain to change trains. I cannot understand your relationship with Gurudeva”. To this Baba replied “You know I never like to leave Vrindavana even for a minute and yet when your Guru calls me I feel I should attend to his needs.” He further said “Your Gurudeva’s spiritual master is different from that of mine and we do not even share a common set of Sadhu association. Yet I do not know why I feel I should immediately attend to his needs. What binds your guru and me is unmotivated love which is nothing but the transcendental blessings of our Mahaprabhu. There are times when I too feel I should not leave Vraja next time around. However when the next quarter draws near I am automatically inspired to serve your Guru. All this is simply Sriman Mahaprabhu’s wish”.

Baba’s character is the very definition of the word “sadhu”. When I booked his ticket to Dhanbad from Mathura (Baba normally spends a day with his God-brothers at Dhanbad and then proceeds to Charan Pahari from there), he appeared to be extremely concerned. He said “Why did you book my ticket in A.C compartment”. I said “Baba, please consider this as our humble service to a Vaishnava who is the friend of Gurudeva”. Baba replied “You have paid Rs 300 more when there is no need. He said “The excess money could have help serve another Vaishnava. I am sad that you have served me this way”. I asked Baba to cheer up and subsequently Baba said “I have received a Bheeksha untensil (begging bowl) of pure steel and an umbrella. Those things are for you”. I said that if it is his wish I will gleefully accept a pure Vaishnava’s present. As I chatted with Baba, Baba said “I do not feel like accepting anything from anybody especially from people who do not perform Hari Bhajana. I tend to give away anything that clutters my small space which I call my Bhajana Kutir. When I am done with distributing anything other than my priciest possessions which comprise of a few granthas, my water pot and a pair of white cloth which I wear, I feel relieved. Thank you for relieving me from the burden of the steel vessel and umbrella”. I simply smiled and thought “Fallen people like us are happy to spend other’s money and use other’s belongings (anyway provided by the Supreme Lord) while we continue to use and accumulate worldly possessions and try to enjoy them”.

 Great Saints like Vishwaroop Baba are almost extinct what to ask about their being rare to find. I was blessed with his holy association. I learnt a few lessons on Vaishnava Sadachar (Vaishnava Etiquette) from him not as part of his preaching but what I witnessed in his persona and practical demeanour. All glories to Srila Gurudeva for giving me this rare opportunity of associating with a pure Vaishnava like Baba Vishwaroop.

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