For Revered disciple of
Srila Sridharadev Goswami
Srimati Krishna Moyee Devi
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.
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
"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
[from a lecture entitled, "Unconditional Service"]
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.
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.
EARLY YEARS WITH GURUMAHARAJ
BPH: Can you tell us about your first meeting with Srila Sridhara