Chapter 8 Part 1 – Marriage and Family Life

Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja would often explain that the eternal associates of the Lord who descend to act as gurus, such as Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, accept married to instruct us how to ac in regard to our worldly samsara and the associated trials and tribulations of accepting wife and children. Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja was a perfect grhastha while he remained in that asrama.

The Vedic Process of Marriage

During his time as a schoolteacher, Brajabandhu lived away from home. One day a relative came to see him at the school where he was employed, with a message that his marriage had been organized by his mother and would take place in two weeks’ time. This was the first time Brajabandhu had heard of this. He asked the relative, “Do you know who I am to marry?”

Brajabandhu was not interested in marrying, but his parents and the parents of the girl had arranged the marriage. This was and still is the custom; the system dates back many thousands of years. This is the ancient Vedic process. Unrestricted association between males and females was not considered proper according to Vedic standards, and once married, it was for life.

Brajabandhu had other plans and none included getting married; the idea had not even entered his mind. He had lived as a strict celibate (brahmacari) since birth, but he accepted the decision of his parents and senior family members in this regard. On many occasions his mother had asked her brother Gopinath Giri to persuade Brajabandhu to get married. Gopinath Giri went to the house of his sister Pata Dei and spoke to Brajabandhu. Brajabandhu respected his uncle greatly and surrendered to his uncle’s and his mother’s desire. So with the uncle’s help the marriage was arranged.

Dhobani Dei: Brajabandhu was not very interested to marry. But his uncle and his mother insisted. They questioned him many times: ‘Why you not marry?’ At that time he was a teacher in Dhenkanal district. So we called him to a place called Patakura, in the district of Kendnapara, where his parents-in-law-to-be lived. His uncle and mother arranged the marriage. His mother was crying all the time, “Why wasn’t he married? Why wasn’t he married?”

Brajabandhu was at that time going to teachers’ training college and had admitted himself for a two-year course, from 1950 to 1952. After that course he would receive a certificate as a certified teacher, and during this period he married. Brajabandhu was twenty-one when he married and his wife was sixteen; his wife was not from Vaisnava family or brahmana family; she was not interested in Krsna consciousness. He met his wife, Srimati Vasanti Devi, for the first time during the marriage ceremony.

Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja: In our country the parents do all the things. I had never seen her and I did not know anything about her. This is our custom my wife was sixteen years old when we married. At the time of Brajabandhu’s marriage there was no television in India. There were, however, radio, cinema and drama performances, but Brajabandhu did not succumb to any of these activities (considering India is one of the largest movie-going nations in the world). He had also never taken to eating betel nut (a popular intoxicating habit in India). Brajabandhu was not one for illicit sex, intoxication, gambling, or any frivolous activity! Also he was not interested in reading mundane literature such as newspapers, magazines and the like; all his spare time was for reading the scriptures. If some family members went to the cinema, he would admonish them severely, and say, “It is the work of ignorance. So you should not go there, you will not sleep well tonight.” So he would discourage them from going to the cinema.

Pure in all Actions

Bhagavata Dasa:…Although he had no inclination to get involved in householder life, his mother ordered him to do so, because as the eldest son he had to marry and manage the family. But it was not his personal desire. And because his wife wanted many children he gave her many children. He told me that although he had seven children he only had sex seven times in his life. That means he was a perfect grahastha-brahmacari—even in the grhastha-asrama he had perfect control of his senses. Only a greatly advanced devotee could have such perfect control.

There was no doubt that Brajabandhu was perfectly in control of his senses at all times and to testify to this his cousin Dhobani Dei, who had a great deal of contact with him said, “He did not take betel nut, did not smoke, drink or anything—no, nothing, he was always silent and meditating on Gopala—Gopala Jiu. He is a foreign element in this material world, he did not take such items, he was pure*

Brajabandhu’s Wife to Be

Vasanti Devi’s (Brajabandhu’s wife) father’s name was Sri Balaram Nandi and her mother’s name was Srimati Devaki Nandi. They were not devotees as such, they did not perform any specific spiritual duties or activities. Their business was dealing in bell metal, silver and gold. They were from the village of Patakura, which was in the district of Kendnapara which was approximately 35 kilometers from Jagannathpur. She took the Manik surname, her name after marriage changed to Srimati Vasanti Manik and she said many years later that, “I just accepted this life [religious life]. I just accepted it!”

Vasanti Devi: When we were married the ceremony was conducted by my husband’s father and it was a very simple marriage. I came to this place, Jagannathpur, the hometown of my future husband’s immediate family members, mother, father etc. it was arranged between the parents. We had a fire sacrifice, but it was very simple, not with all pomp and ceremony!

Dhobani Dei: When he and Vasanti Devi were married they received many gifts, clothes, saris, dhotis, brass cooking pots etc., and one gold ring. He [Brajabandhu] took that gold ring and said it was illusion and threw it into the forest; it was never seen again. He was never really interested to marry, but it was arranged by his family members.

Early Grhastha Life

Vasanti Devi: My husband would from the very beginning of our marriage rise early in the morning about 4:00to 4:30 a.m. and take his bath; then he would begin chanting Hare Krsna, doing prayer. This he did without fail. So then when we were first married after chanting he would go off to do his tutorial class, he was a tutor getting a fee. Then he was coming back from that class and he would eat.

In the absence of her husband, Vasanti Devi was offering to Krsna. If the food had not been offered then Brajabandhu would not take it! Brajabandhu would have his bath between 4:00a.m. And 4:30a.m. And in the summertime he would have another bath in the afternoon.

Vasanti Devi: There was a picture of Lord Krsna and my husband was offering prayer in front of this picture. Also he was doing bhajana in front of the picture. Then gradually he started offering incense, and then offering foodstuff and gradually he could not find time and I took over the small worship that he had begun. I was also offering the foodstuffs in front of the picture of Lord Krsna and he was taking that foodstuff. That picture was like our family deity, a holy picture.

Brajabandhu had been looking for an association of spiritually minded persons and he had come across the Divine Life Society, who were doing hatha-yoga and meditation. At that time he increased his daily worship at home to offering incense, offering flowers, a ghee lamp, full arati to the family picture Lord Krsna.

Brajabandhu would take prasada four times a day. In the morning at 9:00-9:30a.m. He would have a small snack consisting of rice, dal and sabji then he would go to his tutorial class, and on returning from the tutorial he would have a full lunch—rice, dalma, sabji, capatis. Then he would go to school to teach, and on coming back from school he would take a little prasada at 4:00-4:30p.m. This would be chipped rice, sugar and bananas with milk or curd; then before retiring he would take a little prasada again at 9:00-9:30p.m. Consisting of roti, dalma and sabji. He was very fond of dalma, made with mung dal. Then he would study his religious books late into the night and go to bed 12:30-1:00a.m.

Generally Brajabandhu would wake up at 4:00a.m. And would spend half an hour in the morning in prayer and half an hour in the evening in prayer (chanting Hare Krsna). Throughout his family life, in the night after coming home from school, he continued his deep study of Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam and different Puranas.

A Great Responsibility

Srila Gour Govinda: When I was studying at teacher’s training college, after doing a two-year training course, I left Middle school and began High school teaching. Then my govt. service began; than I was a certified teacher. Without this training you cannot get that job. In this secondary school I was teaching Oriya, mathematics, geography. I began govt. service schooling in 1952 and continued until 1955; at that time my father expired. I was the eldest son, were two brothers and one sister. The responsibility of the whole family came to my head!

My mother was there, my wife, my younger brother [Krpasindhu Manik] was there, and my sister was married. Her name was Subhadra Manik; my father had arranged this marriage. Myself, I had a son (Vijay) at that time, 1955. When my father expired, I had to take care of them all.

So I was serving in different schools in Orissa and I was transferred from one place to another—this was govt. service. So I was moving with the whole family—brother, wife, mother and children.

Dhobani Dei: Then his father died; Brajabandhu was very upset. He cried very much. He was greatly grieved. He did not have much land and property. He was worried because he did not have any idea about his household affairs. He would have to take on the responsibilities of the whole family.

Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja: I have experience in brahmacari, grhastha, vanaprastha and sannyasa, everything I have experience in. I was a poor man, I had no money. I was a grhastha, I was a head teacher, schoolteacher, I had only a small salary. You see at that I was…I began my service at twenty-five rupees a month. Beginning. When I left, at that time was getting 450 rupees a month. Deficity, deficity, always loan, loan, loan. I had big family—7 children—myself , my wife and my mother were there, father had already expired—sister married, brother married—they were not dependent on me, still in the beginning I… when my father expired, my brother—as a young boy—I gave him education, took care of him, gave him marriage. He got service, govt. service—he was a veterinary doctor—surgeon. I paid for it, everything for him. I did the work of the father because I was the elder brother, so…. I had to act like a father. When my father expired, he [Krpasindhu] was twelve years old and I was ten years older than him (twenty-two). I had been married one year. I was carrying the whole burden on my head. Whole family, my mother, they were all dependent—where I am moving, serving in different, different schools—govt. schools…from one place to another. I was carrying them all on my head. Renting a house, the govt. did not pay for my house; even though I was relieving teacher the govt. paid nothing, only salary. That was very difficult… we tolerated, and no money—always deficity. When somebody suffered I had no money for treatment. What shall I do… completely depend on Krsna…yes!

University Degree

Brajabandhu was endowed with great intellect and understanding, as well as being a perfect gentleman, as we will see as we go further on into his life.

Three years after he had become a certified teacher, Brajabandhu was eligible to enter in the next highest examination, Bachelor of Arts (B.A.). He appeared at the university examination as a private student, but he attained the second highest grades in the Utkal University and the second highest in Orissa. The full time students were eligible two years after obtaining the teacher’s certificate, but private students had to wait for three years. So in 1958 he prepared himself for his degree. As he was working as a teacher the only time he had was his school leave, the summer holiday period which was from May to June. He would study all night until 4:00a.m. and then take a rest till 7:00a.m. he would rise again at 7:00a.m. to carry with his studies. He did this for two months, three hours sleeping and twenty-one hours studying.

Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja: In 1958 I thought to enhance my educational qualifications, so that I could get promotion and get higher pay. So I attended some higher education examinations to get higher qualifications. I had never gone to university, I had never studied. My education was completely secondary stage. But privately I studied and appeared the university examinations. I applied for intermediate examinations and only studying for two months privately, in the summer vacation period, May and June. During that vacation I studied books myself, preparing myself. During that time I used to leave all the family members in the village, during vacation. I would stay alone at the school and study. At that time I was at Angul High School in the district of Dhenkanal in Orissa. I served there for ten years.

During that vacation I studied, I would stay up the whole night and study. I would stay until 4:00 a.m. in the morning and at 4:00 a.m. I would take rest until 7:00 a.m. and then get up and begin studying again. This was the program for two months, May and June of 1958—study period.

In the summertime he studied for his Bachelor of Arts course privately. At that time his family were living in Jagannathpur, his native village and he at the Angul High School in the district of Dhenkanal. Brajabandhu taught at Talcher High School, Angul High School, Athgarh High School, and lastly Kujang High School. All these placed are far away from his native village.

Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja: When I studied I would always read and make notes and I always referred to my notes. If you write it down it will always be yours, you will always have it, otherwise it will be lost! I would always refer to notes and so it became easy to remember the information. If you read and make a note, you will find you will acquire it. Reading alone will not help. The secret of success is to write it down. **

After two full months’ intensive study, (sleeping three hours in the early morning hours and studying the rest of the day), he appeared at the examination and came out with a distinction. To gain a distinction meant you would have to achieve a mark over 60%; he achieved it as a private student. He was still teaching and studying; he could only study that two months of the holidays. Now that he had his BA degree, Brajabandhu became a graduate teacher.
In the summer vacations when he was studying, Brajabandhu did not take a rest in the afternoon. He would read and study in the afternoon time.
There was also another degree, the Bachelor of Education (B.E.), a one-year course, which Brajabandhu could see would enhance his teaching skills. So he entered that examination also, as a private student; this happened between the years 1962 and 1963. His study routine was the same as for his BA—sleep from 4.00 a.m. to 7.00 a.m. and the rest of the day—twenty-one hours—study, except for a little time to eat something. He also passed this exam. He was now a Bachelor of Education and a Bachelor of Arts, a trained graduate teacher. He was now eligible for promotion, and after a couple of years the promotion came; he became a senior High School Teacher. During that time he was teaching English, Math, Oriya and Geography!

Preaching at Home

During his teaching times and study time Brajabandhu’s reading (reading meaning study of the sastra—religious scriptures) was not as regular as when he was at Gadai Giri or before he was married, but still he would study the Bhagavad-Gita, the Puranas and the Srimad-Bhagavatam any chance that he had.

Also sometimes during holidays, Brajabandhu would invite friends over for kirtana and a reading and discourse on the Bhagavad-Gita. His wife would prepare prasada and he would do some bhajana and speak of Bhagavad-Gita and then he would distribute prasada. He continued this program until he left home. Whenever he had the chance he would distribute prasada, have kirtana and speak on Bhagavad-gita. Brajabandhu’s wife would cook for the guest when they came for kirtana, but in His Divine Grace’s own words, “She was not so interested in preaching. She would cook and the children would sit and chant while the kirtana was going on.”

Brajabandhu did not have deities in the house, only the one picture of Lord Krsna. All the bhoga was offered to the picture and the picture was worshipped. As Brajabandhu’s job was transferable he did not acquire deities, as he did not want to carry them all around Orissa with him. He was constantly being transferred from school to school-a couple of years in one school, two or three years in another, and so on. Brajabandhu would always render atithi-seva to wandering sadhus and was always fond of inviting sadhus to his house.

* Author’s note: In this regard I will quote the words of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada: ‘Simple hearing is not all; one must realize the text with proper attention. The word nivista means that Suta Gosvami drank the juice of the Bhagavatam through his ears. That is the real process of receiving Bhagavatam. One should hear with rapt attention from the real person, and then he can at once realize the presence of Lord Krsna in every page. The secret of knowing the Bhagavatam mentioned here. No one can give rapt attention who is not pure in mind. No one can be pure in mind who is not pure in action. No one can be pure in action who is not pure in eating, sleeping, fearing and mating.’ (Purport Srimad-Bhagavatam 1:3:44) The point is here that Brajabandhu (Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja) was already pure in his eating, sleeping, fearing and mating from his very birth. This, as will be shown, is how he conducted himself throughout his life.

**Author’s note: As a point of interest Srila Gour Govinda Swami would always carry many books with him when he gave classes. These were all hand-written notes, notes made from when he studied the sastra. He did the same as in his school days and university days. (He once said that he did not have a computer; then he turned to all his note books and said that his computer was his note books! Years and years of note taking from the sastra.) [For more information on this matter see Chapter 15: Gour Gopalananda Meets His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada]

Although he was materially very poor, possessing only one blanket for his seven children, whoever came to his door, would always be offered whatever he had at his disposal. A sadhu came in the cold winter months and Brajabandhu gave him shelter for the night. In the morning as the sadhu was leaving Brajabandhu noticed the sadhu had no warm clothing. Against the wishes of the family, he gave the only blanket they had to that sadhu.

Krsna Consciousness and Family Life

There were seven children—four boys and three girls; the eldest boy was named Vijay and he was born in 1955 in Jaganathpur; then Abhay was born in 1957 in Angul, then Akshay and Ajay. The girls were Anasuya, Mina and Jyotsna. The children showed some interest in Krsna consciousness in their early life. When Brajabandhu would chant at home they would sit and chant with him. They would also chant early in the morning; he would wake them up and have tulasi-arati, chant Hare Krsna and then they would go about their usual daily activities.

Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja: I would wake all the children up around 4:30 to 5:00 a.m. and we would chant together. We would sit and have kirtana and have tulasi-arati.

Vasanti Devi: During that time, my husband was reading Puranas etc. he would invite others and would read and speak to them from Bhagavad-gita.

Brajabandhu was always trying to get the whole family interested in the religious side of life, so he would take them on pilgrimages to different holy places in India. Brajabandhu had visited the Sivananda Ashram in Hriskesha three times. He had also taken the whole family once to this whole region of northern India. They visited Vrndavana, Mathura, Nandagrama, Gokula, Haridwar, and Hrsikesha.

Also as part of his daily practices, he would regularly visit the Siva Mandir and read Bhagavata-gita there. It was 50 yards from home. He would go to the Siva Mandir in the morning before leaving home and also in the evening. He liked the peacefulness and solitude of the temple, and there he could study the Bhagavad-gita in peace.

Brajabandhu would read to his wife and preach to her. He preached to the whole family, to his brother, sister, everyone. He preached the whole time to whomever he could and to whomever would listen. He would also read Bhagavad-gita to the children, and whatever he had read from the scriptures he would then explain to anyone who would listen. He would also preach to his fellow teachers; some were interested and some were not, but to be polite they would always listen, as they all like and respected Brajabandhu.

By Krsna’s Mercy

Brajabandhu was very poor; no matter how much money he earned it was still not enough and he would always have to borrow more and then pay it back the next month when he was paid again. In his own words, “But by Krsna’s mercy we made it through the month to the next month.”

He was taking care of his 7 children, wife, mother and younger brother (Krpasindhu) but as well as that, he said, “When I was a boy and I was reading at that high school at my maternal uncle’s house, they left one child with me for education (my nephew). When I was married they left one child with me, my uncle left one child with me, one of my nephews. I also gave education to him. For five years. That was like eight children and a brother, such a grhastha life I had.”

Brajabandhu did his duty! Not only did he have his own family and children to look after but his uncles gave him one of his nephews to look after as well. His Divine Grace said, “Can you think of it what life I was leading? I was tolerating, accepting, tolerating everything—the will of Krsna, I have to tolerate, I have to accept it… yes. It is Krsna’s will. And crying, always crying when Nitaicandra will shower mercy—will shower mercy—that will give me a kick, I’ll get out from here. Just always crying, always! Yes! Nitaicandra is kicking—get His kick and get out from here, the deep dark well of maya and suffering, suffering, suffering so much. And increasing, increasing day by day. Not decreasing baba!”

Brajabandhu educated his younger brother and arranged for his marriage. He spent a great deal of money on him, and he obtained a good job, a govt. job, and earned thousands of rupees a month, but he never offered to pay a single paisa in return to Brajabandhu. Many years later His Divine Grace said, “He didn’t pay a single paisa to me—nothing. When he married he got a very bad wife—a materialistic person—a bad wife. She said, “Why do you want to give money to your brother? We’ll have the money and we’ll live comfortably together.” I tolerated it and thought, “Alright, this is Krsna’s will.”

His Divine Grace also said, “This is my practical experience, I am speaking from experience. Not theoretically. I have personal experience baba!.. I have all experience.”

Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja: Another instance I will give—one of my sons had some disease in the ear, so I took him to the hospital. The doctor wanted money—I had no money, so he didn’t look at me. So I came back…what to do? So I chanted only Hare Krsna… something was coming every day from his ear. I chanted Hare Krsna. Then I have a book—the book is still there with some treatment with herbs and leaves, so I treated with that, chanting Hare Krsna and it was completely cured within a week…so my last son. He was about six\seven years old…Some say a bad husband—I don’t care for it, I never listen to it, I did my best and also quarreled with the doctor; I came for treatment but you are not looking at me. Then I left and he wrote a letter against me to the DPI, the highest authority in the Education department. I didn’t care; I didn’t write; I scolded him because I went there but he didn’t look at me. Nothing happened to me—I was protected by Krsna. I had such a grhastha life, really dependent on Krsna. I am giving practical training baba, my practical experience. I am an experienced person. I am not saying theoretically—all practical. But you cannot understand because of your mentality (Western psychology) therefore you cannot understand what I am saying. And it works against you! Just try to understand!

Athgarh

Brajabandhu slept on the verandah of the house on a rope cot. He would rise early, bathe and do his daily schedule of duties and then do kirtana. He would kirtana and would also chant privately (mantra meditation). He would also encourage all of his family members to do the same, they would rise early in the morning and bathe and then have kirtana with him. The school at which Brajabandhu taught was the High School in the Athgarh sub-division, in the District of Cuttack, called Bishwanatha Vidyapitha. He was teaching mathematics and English. The students would call him Manik Sir.

Mahesvara Nayak: Guru Maharaja was a nice teacher; we used to call him Manik sir. I was at that school at the Athgarh High School, in the matriculation level, in class 9 and 10. In mathematics, while working out a sum, in the chapter on time and work there are some examples like this: Rama can do a piece of work in 12 days, Syama can do a work in ten days, and Govinda can do a piece of work in thirteen days. So in the course of working out and explaining this sum to twenty students, Guru Maharaja was experiencing such a mood that instead of teaching us arithmetic, automatically he was in the bhava stage, saying “Syama, Govinda, Gopala” in ecstatic mood. Also he was explaining the pastimes themselves “Govinda, Krsna,” he said like that, and we students, sometimes we wondered, what is that all about?

Brajabandhu, instead of teaching arithmetic—though he could teach arithmetic very well, according to his students—when reference was made to Govinda, Gopala, Krsna, he would begin teaching his pastimes of the Lord as described in the Vedic scriptures, to the surprise of all. Sometimes the Headmaster would visit the classroom silently, checking to see if the teachers were teaching the students properly.

On one occasion Brajabandhu was working out a sum on the blackboard for the students, and the Headmaster was secretly standing outside the classroom and checking what he was doing; was he actually teaching arithmetic or not?

So the Headmaster just came into the room, surprising everyone, and remarked, “Instead of teaching arithmetic, you are teaching that Rama, Syama, Govinda, Gopala can do a piece of work in a day; you are teaching the pastimes of the Lord, Govinda, Krsna.”

On another occasion the Headmaster asked Brajabandhu, “Manik Sir, what are you teaching? Instead of teaching arithmetic, you are teaching Govinda, Gopala, Krsna’s pastimes,” and Brajabandhu said, “O yes, yes that’s right.”

Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja: I was teaching, but this topic was coming up. You understand? Instead of teaching about mathematics I was teaching them about the pastimes of Krsna; the Headmaster was not happy with that. I was teaching the pastimes of Govinda, Gopala, and the gopis in Vraja-lila.

Mahesvara Nayak: but some things are true, this is sometimes what happened; sometimes when he was in an ecstatic mood, he did not want to gossip with any teacher, or any visitor. Sometimes he was in samadhi also. These were very surprising moods; the Headmaster and teachers were struck with wonder.

So Brajabandhu would go into such a mood—an ecstatic mood. He would explain the pastimes of Krsna, Govinda and Vraja-lila. He would also teach the students about Prahlada Maharaja and Dhruva Maharaja, how they were devotees and who they were devotees and how they had attained Krsna.

Mahesvara Nayak: He would explain nicely, very nicely, and also he explained in class in such a mood that I was thinking that, we were really fortunate to have a teacher (guru) like this, because nowadays it is essential that from our very childhood we should know about Krsna and also about bhakta, the pure devotee of the Lord; that is, a pure devotee like Dhruva or Prahlada. Guru Maharaja was teaching that also. And sometimes in the class he was also teaching on some verses of the Srimad-Bhagavatam and verses from the Gita.

Brajabandhu would speak from verses in the Gita to his students, and he would especially quote this verse:

apareyam itas tv anyam
prakrtim viddhi me param
jiva-bhutam maha-baho
yayedam dharyate jagat

“Besides this inferior nature, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is a superior energy of Mine, which are all living entities who are struggling with material nature and are sustaining the universe.”1

He would explain that this material world is a very difficult place and a struggle; he would always use the words, describing this material world; “Very difficult”, “nasty place.”

At that time the students were not respectful to their teachers and they went on strike at the school where he was teaching. They were very rebellious. Brajabandhu, who was always in a thoughtful mood, was in the room outside the meeting hall where the students were airing their views, and their action against the school and the teachers. He knew that the situation was not conducive to proper student conduct or their education and he felt that the only solution for these students would be to listen to the words of Lord Krsna from the Gita—spiritual knowledge—and automatically their minds would be pacified, to the point where they would not go on strike.

From time to time a teacher would transfer to a different school. There would be a farewell meeting. People would make speeches ; some of the senior teachers, the Headmaster and sometimes the students, would say something about the departing teacher, how he behaved and how he was dealing with students. At those meetings, Brajabandhu also used to speak about the persons and he would always find a chance to speak on religious topic. Even though it was not the place where religious topics were discussed, Brajabandhu would speak on Krsna-katha—Krsna, Bhagavan.

Mahesvara Nayak: We were very fortunate to have the association of Guru Maharaja from the very beginning. He was a good tutor; private students used to go to his room, ten to fifteen students. He taught students privately, morning and evening.

He lived in a private house in Athgarh, with his wife, mother and family. That is where the students went for extra tuition, to his private residence. I did not go for this private tuition because I lived five to seven kilometers from Athgarh town and it was very difficult for me to get there.

On Sunday Brajabandhu would not work because he would spend the whole day in spiritual practices and would invite all staff members for a spiritual discourse at his house. Brajabandhu had a large family responsibility. He was the only person earning money for his family. He had seven children, his widowed mother lived with him and he was supporting his younger brother in college. In spite of all this, many believed that Brajabandhu was receiving the blessings of Lord Krsna, and in spite of all his difficulties, he was always in ecstatic mood. It was some kind of test from the Lord, because in certain circumstances the devotee will grow up in a difficult situation, and will be able to preach in the future.

So on Sundays, he called the staff members together and conducted hari-katha—discussion. He would be in ecstatic mood—reading Krsna-katha: Gita, Bhagavatam, all the scriptures. This was a midday program, and after that he gave them prasada—which was anna (rice) and dalma.*** Brajabandhu was very fond of dalma. He would tell his guests, “I am very poor, and therefore, I cannot feed you many items. This is Krsna’s, Govinda’s, prasada , Gopala’s prasada, Jagannatha’s prasada. Krsna’s prasada is very tasty. It is not merely anna and dalma, it is Krsna prasada, Jagannatha prasada.”

In the afternoon, he would go upstairs to his room so there would be no interruptions from the children or anyone else. He would go up often in ecstatic mood, in full consciousness of the Lord and sit for sometimes two, three, or four hours, meditating on the Lord.

Brajabandhu was in Athgarh for two or three years. Not far from his house was a Radha-Govinda mandira. Everyday he used to go there for darsana. He was very fond of Radha-Govinda. This was in the morning before school. It was about a kilometer from his house, it was to walk there. From his house to school was about two or three kilometers. Brajabandhu used to walk to school, carrying a black clothe umbrella with a cane stick handle, wearing a light blue shirt, a white dhoti and katthao (wooden shoes).

Brajabandhu was unlike the others teachers, he was different. He had a different mood, he dressed differently, he acted differently, everything about him was different, and some of the students did not appreciate him because they wanted to enjoy material things. They did not care for spiritual education that Brajabandhu wanted to give them. But most of the students liked him and were quite happy to hear him speaking in class. Some of the teachers also liked Brajabandhu very much.

If the students misbehaved when Brajabandhu was teaching he would chastise them. He had a small stick (a cane) and he would use it on them if they misbehaved and would say, “This is not the proper behavior that is expected of students, so behave properly, be good students.”

Mahesvara Nayak: Guru Maharaja was my class teacher for one year, and for another year he was my teacher in mathematics, and English, and he collected the monthly fees from the students because at that time there was no clerical office to collect them.

In those days school would start 10.30 a.m. and finish at 4.30 p.m. Brajabandhu did not have lunch at school he would go home and have lunch there. He would fast on Ekadasi, and on Janmastami.

When he was teaching English he would also present Krsna-katha. One topic in English was from a book written by Ravindranath Tagore, a Nobel Prize winner. It was called ‘Tales from Tagore’. One story was called, ‘River Stairs’ and was about a sannyasi, who was the husband of Kusuma and belonged to the Goswami Hariparivar family. In the story Kusuma was going to her father’s house because her husband had gone; he had left his family and taken sannyasa. Brajabandhu was fond of sannyasa life, so in talking about Kusuma and her husband who became a sannyasi, and the activities of sannyasa, he was also preparing himself and saying, “One day I will take up sannyasa and leave this job.”

Detachment from Material Life

Throughout, Brajabandhu developed the mood of renunciation, and was meditating on the time when he could give up family life and proceed along the path of renunciation. Family life was an encumbrance and he had greater ideals. His cherished dream was to take the renounced order of life and preach the mission of Mahaprabhu. But he had two obstacles; the weight of family pressures, and no spiritual master of whom he could take shelter and who would award him the sannyasa title and instruct him on the path of renunciation.

Brajabandhu’s detachment from material life started from Athgarh (1971) when he was teaching in the local High School. He would wear saffron colored clothing, (sadhu’s clothes) and eat very simply. His wife was worried, and she would cry. She had many household responsibilities—the daughter was not yet married and the other children were too small to carry any responsibilities. She did not know what to do, and he did not pay any attention to them. He said, “I am going to serve God.” He was very softhearted person; he could not tolerate any suffering or going without food, but he had made the resolve to lead a life in service to God.

***Dalma: a thick soup made from dried legumes, peas or beans and containing many vegetables. This is a traditional dish Orissa, tasty and very famous.

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