WVA MAGAZINE


Centennial Celebration
For Revered disciple of
Paramahansa Thakur
Srila Sridharadev Goswami

Srimati Krishna Moyee Devi
Turns 100 years on 12 January,1998


Stalwart Vaishnavas are rarely to be seen and met according to Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Goswami Maharaj. Yet stalwart Vaishnavas never seem to falter - they just persevere no matter what kind of hardships they have to endure. Some fifty plus years ago, Srimati Krishna Moyee Devi, recently widowed, decided to devote the remainder of her life to Guru and Krishna. She surrendered at the lotus feet of that great Vaishnava preacher whose synthesis was so poetic and so elevated, even the birds cried during his darshans. I heard them myself. That was none other than Paramahansa Thakur Srila Bhakti Rakshaka Sridharadev Goswami Maharaj. His wonderful darshans took the form of a morning full of expectations of the unexpected, the mysterious minute by minute expanding revelations pouring from his lotus lips that could melt the heart of any surrendered soul and equally, would baffle those who were not prepared to surrender to the Supreme Magician, Sri Krishna Chandra.
Srimati Krishna Moyee Devi epitomized that kind of surrender. She served in the Math as a cook for 30 plus years before she was incapacitated by arthritis. At that time, in the early 70's a young lady had joined the Math and taken shelter at the lotus feet of Srila Sridhara Maharaj. Srila Sridhara Maharaj gave her the name of Jahnavi Devi and engaged her as the personal servant of Krishna Moyee Devi. She continues to this day in that service.

AN EXTRAORDINARY TRUST

I asked Krishna Moyee Devi what made her to move into the Math. She replied simply, "Because I liked it there". But her service orientation and her personal bhajan indicated a much deeper commitment than that. Her sobriety for proper implementation impressed Sridhara Maharaj so much that, when he had to go on preaching tours leaving the Math, he would leave her as Math-in-charge until his return. So much faith he had in her capacity to stick to the siddhanta that in his earlier will, he named her as a successor several times [before she became physically incapacitated]. She herself was a preacher of uncommon attributes as can be attested by her poetic composition on the "Auspicious Birth of Gurumaharaj" which is printed in English in Sri Vyasa-Pujamritam: 101st Appearance Day Celebration - 1996 [pp. 62 - 65, which is incidentally one of the finest translations of that composition performed by Utpalendu Gupta] and inscribed in Bengali in marble stone on the South wall of Srila Gurumaharaj's Samadhi Mandir and included in many Bengali publications during Srila Sridhara Maharaj's time. According to literary Bengali's, this poem is written in an erudite fashion of the old Bengali language using the classical style - not bad for a mere cook in the temple? In this way we can more appreciate Krishna Moyee Devi's uncommon humility in the face of her extraordinary capacities including that most difficult of all traits, tolerance. Many devotees [including myself] consider her a shuddha-bhakta [Pure Devotee of Lord Krishna].

AN AUSPICIOUS CHILDHOOD

Krishna Moyee Devi was born according to the Bengali Calendar 13-5 on Tuesday [Paushamas] - it was a most auspicious day being Sri Krishna Punya Abishek Purnima - most dear to Lord Krishna. She was educated in Calcutta in her childhood. She proved early on to be of exceptional intellect. At only 11 years of age, she obtained excellence in many subjects because of her capabilities. She was accorded gold medals and honours from the famous Judge Sir Ashutosh Mukhopadyaih. When she became 40 years of age, she was fortunate to meet her spiritual master, Srila Bhakti Rakshaka Sridharadev Goswami - the seventh sannyasi of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur. Shortly thereafter, she received both Harinam and Mantra initiations simultaneously from him and dedicated her life to the service of Sri Guru & Sri Gauranga.

THE SERVICE OF SRI VIGRAHAH

She narrates that at that time, she was requested to perform a most memorable service for her Gurudev. The temple had been recently established in Navadwip-Dham town itself in an area known as Kolardwip where Jagai and Madhai had their famous pastimes with Lord Nityananda. Srila Sridhara Maharaj had made arrangements with a Jaipur Murthi-walla to prepare Sri-Sri Radha-Krishna Deities for the newly constructed temple. When the Deities were completed, Sri-Sri Gandharvika-Govindasundar were brought from Jaipur by Krishna Moyee Devi and a promising young sannyasi, Govinda Maharaj. When the Deities arrived, Krishna Moyee Devi felt very blessed to have been intrumental in escorting Them to the Holy Dham and her Gurumaharaj's temple. But wonder of wonders, the Master of all Mystic Potencies unleashed a further astounding happening. Just as she thought that the service was done, she witnessed a most inspiring happening as Sridhara Maharaj and his exalted God-brother, Srila Bhakti Dayita Madhava Maharaj, Founder-Acharya of Sri Chaitanya Gaudiya Maths, began the installation of the Deities. The two God-brothers performed a roaring kirtan of immense proportions which culminated in the two dancing wildly and loudly chanting for the pleasure of Their Lordships. Krishna Moyee Devi was astounded - witness to this most ecstatic event her heart became filled with the mercy of Their Lordships and she actually envisioned at that instance that Sri-Sri Gaura-Nitai were in fact, dancing before Sri-Sri Gandharvika-Govindasundar. After witnessing this other-worldly event, she told that her commitment to the service of the Supreme Lord deepened through Sri Guru and His Grace.

tesam satata yuktanam
bhajatam priti purvakam
dadami buddhi yogam tam
yena mam upayanti te
BG 10.10

"To those devotees who are constantly dedicated to Me and who engage in My devotional service out of their love for Me, I bestow the internal divine inspiration by which they can approach Me and render various intimate services unto Me."

SRI GURU & HIS GRACE

Krishna Moyee Devi's literary praises were also reciprocated by her Gurudev who wrote original Sanskrit and Bengali shlokas in praise of her devotional qualities - surely we are speaking of extraordinary high things here. In Srila Sridhara Maharaj's time, we did not suspect that one of the devotee 'cooks' was the recipient of so much mercy from Srila Sridhara Maharaj. I pray that she will forgive me for any reckless assumptions I may have made in considering her a rank and file devotee. Nothing of the sort could be the case. We must be careful in approaching such an elevated soul, least we misunderstand their tolerance and humility for acceptance of our brash behaviour and presumptuous pretentiousness. Her surrender was 100% in favour of her Gurumaharaj's wishes - his desires to preach and thereby serve the wishes of his Gurudev, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur. One of those compositions I shall try to share with you here [by the infinite grace of Gaura Krishna Prabhu]. If there is any error in the translation it is surely my fault in copying the Bengali and not the translators' [performed on very short notice again by Utpalendu Gupta]:

It is still told that Krishna Moyee Devi was one of the main contributors to the building of Chaitanya Saraswat Math. So, it was ironic, when after living there for 50 years, after Srila Gurumaharaj had left, she announced that she could no longer stay in the Math and was leaving, at the age of 96 years. This is the determination of the stalwart Vaishnavas - pure devotees of Lord Krishna - they must gravitate toward the sincere bhajan of their Lord and Master where ever that may be, especially when they are handicapped and physically helpless.

DETERMINATION & DESPARATION

It reminds me of a passage from Srila Sridhara Maharaj in heyday of his wonder of wonders - that synthesis - the delivery which brought so many Vaishnava ears close to pick up the vibrations from his morning lectures - such high and sincere conceptions he gave in those days and our hearts still yearn for more, so the following is that volume of intensity turned up maybe a little higher than the norm for even Gurumaharaj:

[from a lecture entitled, "Unconditional Service"]
"We may chant the name, hear the musical kirtana, etc., but the very life will be present only as much as our activity is on the order descending from the plane above, and as much as that order is earnestly being carried out by us. In that way, we may be taken above. We may be promoted to the higher layer by preparing ourselves only to carry out that order from above, without question. If we are certain that the order is coming from the higher layer, we should surrender without question. By living at the disposal of the higher, we learn selfless service of the higher, which is not of any mundane source. This is our necessity: Vaishnava-seva and Guru-seva - service to the Vaishnava and Guru. By Guru-bhakti alone - devotion to Sri Gurudev - in one stroke, all desirable pursuits will be accomplished [etat sarvvam bhaktya, puruso hy anjasa jayet, SB 7.15.25]. There are so many symptoms by which to recognize the genuine Guru, and by obeying the directions of the higher, we can make progress towards the higher; we may hope to be selected by the higher and be taken up to that layer if we are considered sufficiently qualified. This attitude will be the main tenure of our lives if we want to go to the high, super-conscious regions.
"In the Vedanta-Sutra, it is mentioned that the process to reach that region is by revealed truth and not by reason [tarka-pratishthanat]. If we apply reason, we shall be nowhere. Among expert arguers, there may always be one more expert - in this way, on and on, no end. Thus, tarka, reason and argument, is inconclusive [apratishtha]. Intellectualism has no standing here, because super-consciousness is beyond our jurisdiction. It cannot be an object of our intellect. By serving, by honouring, by self-giving, and never otherwise, can we invite that higher guest. It is not possible to capture and encage Him by intrigue and conspiracy. Such an attempt will betray Satan in another colour. Deep self-surrender will take us into connection with the higher, noble substance, and it must be cultivated by any and all means."
pp. 71,72,73

And so, Krishna Moyee Devi came out from the Math after Gurumaharaj left the planet - for the same reasons which lead her to the Math in Gurumaharaj's time - to continue The Search for Sri Krishna - not being content with being merely comfortable and materially well-off. Sripad Gaura-Krishna Prabhu has looked after her, Jahnavi Devi and intermittently, Rama d.d. Pishima [Gurumaharaj's sister and disciple] since that time in the Math of Badrinarayan Prabhu in Sri Navadwip-Dham. That was the auspicious holy place for the special occasion of the celebration of her 100th birthday. I flew from Singapore only to be able to attend as I had known her since 1981 when I took shelter of Srila Sridhara Maharaj. Gaura Krishna Prabhu had also taken shelter at that time and so, we were constantly associating with one another and, as the years go by, we have become more and more riveted to those marvelous siddhantic insights that we were daily, minute-by-minute, laid before us, exposed by that great orator and master of Vedic synthesis, that dearly great soul, Srila Sridharadev Goswami Maharaj.

THE HONORARIES

Among those who attended the celebration were notably Sripad Nayananda Das Babaji Maharaj, disciple of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur and Acharya of Champahati Gaudiya Math, Srila Bhakti Vaibhav Sagar Maharaj, Acharya of Rudradwip Gaudiya Math and disciple of Srila Bhakti Vilas Tirtha Maharaj, Bhakti Bibuddha Bodhayan Maharaj, disciple of Srila Bhakti Promode Puri Maharaj and Math-in-Charge of Gopinath Gaudiya Maths in India, Bhakti Nandan Swami, disciple of Srila Sridhara Maharaj and Uttam Krishna Prabhu. Srila Sridhara Maharaj's brother, the legendary Amar Babu, sent one of his sons, Nanda Kumar Prabhu, [Srila Sridhara Maharaj's disciple] to attend the ceremonies. A number of prominent lady devotees [besides Srimati Jahnavi Devi & Anuradha Devi] were in attendance as well as those whose names are not known to me [and so I beg their forgiveness for the omission] Many others came to pay their respects and bestow gifts and garlands to the centennial celebrity.
I had asked her many times in the past, different questions to which she always begged off - her philosophical distinction was so clear. It was her practice that she usually would not return dandavat pranams from a brahmachari. Some misinterpreted that as some seniority complex but they were sorely misled by their speculation. On the contrary, she herself felt unworthy to receive dandavats from an ascetic because she was a woman [but we offered them anyway because we concluded that Krishna Moyee Devi was far beyond such bodily distinctions]. I was apprehensive about speaking to her. Still, I wanted to try to get an interview with her - to put some questions to her. And so, with the help of Bodhayan Maharaj and encouragement from Jahnavi Devi, we managed to get her preaching for a while. This is what she had to tell us:

EARLY YEARS WITH GURUMAHARAJ

BPH: Can you tell us about your first meeting with Srila Sridhara Maharaj?
Krishna Moyee Devi: I cannot remember the dates and times but I do remember receiving his genuine love and blessings. I formerly came to the Math without telling my family members because there would have been an objection. They would have prevented me from coming.

BPH:
What were the circumstances surrounding the acquisition of the land for Sri Chaitanya Saraswath Math?
Krishna Moyee Devi: It was during the time of the monsoons [heavy seasonal rains] and we found that a huge snake was on the roof top. We were all concerned and trying to devise a way to rid the place of the serpent. But Srila Gurumaharaj said that we should let that snake be [he had no place else to go because the water was too high]. He remained there without incident.
After some time, Srila Gurumaharaj brought Srila Govardhana Shila from Vrindavana. He composed one stotra. After that, he constructed the Math with donations from the devotees. Gopal Mishra used to work there. Also Bhutnath, Dharmadasini and Dulal Malik and Nityananda Prabhus were some of the devotees present.
The Ugra-Kshatriya caste contributed a lot of the funds. I also gave some money towards the construction of the third floor. I sold my land of about 3 bhigas at Shimjuli for Rupees 10,000 and donated the lot. Altogether I gave around 40,000 Rps and my daughter also contributed.

BPH:
Why did you decide to move into the Math?
Krishna Moyee Devi: I came to live in the Math because I liked it. I asked an uncle for permission and he said, "Yes, there is a genuine holy man there." My father did not approve of it so I had to come without his knowledge.

BPH:
What was your service when you joined the Math?
Krishna Moyee Devi: I prepared foodstuffs in the kitchen of the Math and also, I offered puja. When I first came here. Only the ground floor had been constructed when I came.
On one of my earlier visits, I had a quarter of a Rupee with me which I donated. I commented to Srila Gurumaharaj that I would like to have given more - a full Rupee if only I had one. Srila Gurumaharaj replied that it was not easy to give in full.
Goswami Maharaj, Keshav Maharaj, Madhusudan Maharaj, Paramahansa Maharaj, Jajabar Maharaj - all of them used to come and stay here. They all had so much affection for me. I later went to Vrindavana with Jajabar Maharaj.

BPH:
When Srila Gurumaharaj went to Badarik Ashram, did you accompany the party?
Krishna Moyee Devi: I did go with Gurumaharaj I remember, but I don't remember the year or the places we traveled through. I also remember going to Rameshwar with him one year. I was advised not to go because my son-in-law was very ill. They feared he might leave his body. Still, it was my heartfelt desire to go on pilgrimage with Gurumaharaj so I did that. When I returned, amazingly, my son-in-law was still alive.

BPH:
Whatever is performed for Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga is certainly not in vain it would seem. My dear Mother, we shall try to glorify the Holy Vaishnavas as is our capacity and qualification but it seems that we are always and forever short of the mark. Please accept my humble obeisance and best wishes for a glorious centennial celebration.

B.P. Hrishkesh Swami


 



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