Chapter 8 Part 2 – Marriage and Family Life

Whilst living at Athgarh he had visited Hrsikesha, Gaya, Vrndavana, Varanasi* and Ayodhya. He would speak with different sadhus about his situation. On one of his visits to Hrsikesha, one sadhu there had said to him, “You are a very learned man. First you should finish all your worldly duties. You should get your daughter married, then once all your family responsibilities are taken care for, come here and stay in this asrama. You will spend the last part of your life in this asrama.” Brajabandhu was very happy to hear this and it encouraged him even more to take a life of renunciation.

His mother was not very pleased with his mood of renunciation towards his family but he would say to her, “Do not worry! I am that Bhikhari Giri, (his great-great grandfather). I have taken birth from you, your are the daughter of Bauribandhu Giri and I am that mahanta Bhikari Giri. Gopala is mine, He is my Lord!”

One member of the Giri family dynasty had gone to Vrndavana and taken sannyasa; his name Bhikhari Giri, and Brajabandhu would always say that he was that person. Bhikhari giri went to Vrndavana some 150 years ago. Brajabandhu would also say to his uncle, “In your Giri ancestry, your great grandfather Bhikhari Giri was a mahanta (abbot) of Vrndavana. I am that Bhikhari a Giri who was the servant of Gopala and who came from Vrndavana by his own accord. I am that abbot; I will not stay.” After hearing this, Gopinath Giri said that his sister (Brajabandhu’s mother) would pass away very soon if she heard this. He said to his sister, “Keep a careful watch over him, and never let him out of your sight.”

When Brajabandhu was nearing retirement his wife hurt herself. (At that time he was forty-one years and his wife was thirty-six). In 1971 he was teaching in Athgarh, then he was sent to Kujang, which was his last school. He retired from there. It was in Athgarh where his wife fractured her wrist. It happened in the evening as she was going up to prepare a stick toothbrush for her husband. She would place it in water every night and in the morning Brajabandhu would take it out and brush his teeth. But this night she had forgotten to do it and it was late, ten o’clock at night. She was thinking, “If I don’t do it he will be angry with me in the morning.” So she went out into the dark to prepare it and she fell over. When brajabandhu arrived on the scene he found his wife unconscious; he sprinkled water on her and she regained her consciousness. Her wrist was fractured and Brajabandhu had to take her to the hospital in Cuttack. The cost of the treatment amounted to thousands of rupees. He had no money—what could he do? He prayed, “Krsna, please, I have no money and my wife’s condition is very bad. What shall I do?” so he chanted Hare Krsna and tolerated everything; his wife tolerated ad he tolerated, and in his own words His Divine Grace said, “My wife never once said, “I have accepted such a bad husband to take care of me, he has no money for the doctor.” That was never said, such mentality, such culture, such training we have but you (westerners) lack it, therefore we give training to you.”

Then, one of Brajabandhu’s students, Mahesvara Nayak, advised him that there was a man in a nearby village who could cure the wrist with herbs. So Brajabandhu sent his wife to this man and he treated her and within one to one and a half months her condition had improved and she was well on the way to recovery without needing to spend thousands of rupees at the Cuttack Hospital, money that Brajabandhu did not have anyway.

Soon after she damaged her wrist, Brajabandhu had found out about this person who worked with herbs. In the interim, his wife was tolerating the fracture. His Divine Grace said, “So I had no money to take her to the hospital, to bring her to Cuttack requires thousands of rupees. I had nothing—I did not even have a thousand paisa. I could not do it, I am a bad husband—yes! I could not care of my wife but I prayed to Krsna and Krsna gave me the intelligence and Krsna helped and I would have spent fifty rupees through the whole month—not more than that—and she was cured.”

Renounced or Not Renounced

Dhobani Dei: Renounced or not renounced, he could not tolerate anyone’s sorrows. If someone begged him for a dhoti he would his dhoti to them and he would just wear some small piece of cloth as a dhoti, even if the dhoti that he gave away had just recently been purchased. This was his attitude, and his mother and his wife accepted it. He would say, “This person is wearing torn clothing. Will I not give him mine?” he would without so that others could be clothed or fed.

Transfer to Kujang

In the meantime, the local people in Athgarh, seeing his detachment, (mood of renunciation) had complained to his school authority and asked that he should be transferred to another school. They complained to his higher authority against him and as a result he was transferred to Kujang High School and made a schoolmaster because of his past good reputation. No one in Athgarh could find fault with his character but they did not like his mood of renunciation.

Mr. Choudhary: I have worked at Kujang High School as most senior teacher in this high school since 1967. And our honorable good Gour Govinda Swami was here from 1971 up until 1974. I had the chance and the honor to work with him. He was not only a successful teacher but he was also very friendly with all his colleagues. He had a spiritual frame of mind.

In those days, once a week he organized some worship in his house and he called some of us to join that; he performed some puja and with us recited hari-nama and in the end we all enjoyed prasada.

When he joined the school he took a rented house on a way Kujang on pradip line. There he had rented a house with his family; then he shifted to the school hostel, at the back of the school, which is now dilapidated (1992).

After his transfer to Kujang, Brajabandhu’s mood of renunciation didn’t decreased but increased more and more. In his heart he was praying to be released from family life and to find a sadhu who would give him sannyasa, but externally he carried on with his obligations, struggling and struggling. He ate sun-dried rice, read Gita and preached. His wife did not want to take sun-dried rice so he said to her, “You may take par-boiled rice but I will take sun-dried rice.” His mood of renunciation was increasing daily.

Brajabandhu was a very religious and moral person. This he was always trying to instill in his students, and it could also be seen in his writings at that time.

While teaching at Kujang, at Bana Behari High School, Brajabandhu gave a lecture to the students. This lecture appeared as article in the school magazine, called Kujang Pradipa, which was published once a year.

Mr. Choudhary: He had also written articles in English, in our school magazine. He vividly described fundamental things about God and how to know about God and why should you know about Him. And really it is a masterpiece; most of the students and teachers liked this article.

The following is the article appeared in 1971 issue of the Kujang Pradipa.

(2) Cultivation of good habits
Brajabandhu Manik, BA. (Dist) B.ed.

My Dear Students,

This is my second talk to you. My first talk was “Realization of God and meditation” which was published in the “Basanti”, the school magazine of Bishwanath, Athgarh, in the month of March 1970. In that talk I have told you about the goal human life. To achieve that goal one thing is essentially required. It is the cultivation of good habits. Today I am going to tell you something about it.

You know, this is the age of science. Nowadays astronauts travel in Apollo moonship and make space travel. How is it possible? Can you make space travel? No, you cannot. They can do, because they have cultivated constant habit of space travel, which is very hard and difficult task. The habit formation makes every difficult task easier.

Look here student, in this connection, what Lord Krsna has told Arjuna, when the latter, finding it impossible to still the fleeting mind, said;

“The mind is very restless, turbulent, strong and unyielding, O Krsna. I deem it as difficult to control it as to control the wind.” (Gita chapter vi. 34)-(1).
In answer blessed Lord said,

“Undoubtedly, O mighty-armed Arjuna, mind is difficult to control and restless, but by practice (Abhyasa) and by dispassion it may be restrained.” (Gita chapter vi. 35-(ii).

Again in chapter XII. 9-(iii)-Lord Krsna has also told Arjuna to take to the Yoga of constant practice (i.e. Abhyasa yoga) to fix the mind steadily on Him. Repeatedly Lord Krsna has told about this Abhyasa Yoga, as it has wonderful power.

Then O children, cultivate good habits and thereby develop good personality and moral character. Swami Sivananda says, “You sow an action and reap a habit. You sow a habit reap a character. You sow a character you reap your destiny. Hence destiny is your own built-up. You are the architect of your own future.”

If you change the habits you can also change your character. Character is nothing but a bundle of good habits. It is the sum-total of one’s virtues. It is character which gives real force and power to man. You should bear it in mind that character is power. Without character attainment of knowledge is impossible. Character life’s pillar. One’s daily conduct reveals one’s character. Hence if you want to have a spotless moral character you should pay attention from your childhood to the cultivation of good habits.

This habit formation has strange attractive power. You will be attracted by that magnetic power, consciously or unconsciously, if you form habits either good or evil. If you form some evil habits from your very childhood you cannot develop good personality and posses good moral character. Evil habits are dire enemies, while good habits are your benevolent friends.

* Varanasi is also called Benares and Kasi. They are all the same place.

Habits originate in the conscious mind. But when the habits become established by constant repetition they sink down into the depths of the conscious mind. If some evil habits are established in the conscious mind it will be very difficult to eradicate them in a later stage. So you should be very careful in formation of habits. You should choose some good habits for cultivation and shun bad habits ruthlessly. Evil habits of sleeping in the daytime, late rising, loud talking etc., should not be cultivated at all.

In this age of scientific invention, the age of fashion and false notions, people are acting according to their own sweet will. Evil habits of all sorts have cropped up in all. Nowadays a friend greets another friend not with the names of God, but with a packet of cigarette or a peg of whisky. My dear children, bear it in mind, alcohol is a deadly poison that destroys the brain cells and nerves. Another evil habit is smoking which is very common all over the world. Smoking brings nicotine poisoning of the whole system. The other evil habits are betel-chewing, drinking strong tea and coffee etc. therefore I advise you to shun bad company of smokers, drinkers and vulgar people always.

Be careful boys. Cultivate the healthy habit of rising early in the morning, say, at 4.00 am.i.e. At “Brahma muhurta”, and pray to God. Don’t be a slave to sleeping in the daytime, it is very bad for health. Hence cultivate the habit of going early to bed and rising early. There is a saying, “Early to bed and early to rise makes one healthy, wealthy and wise.” Remember this saying and change your habits accordingly. You should also cultivate the habit of remembering God in all your activities. Then you will find that it is all ease to face hardship and meet the battle of life with a smile, patiently and heroically.

Again don’t be a slave to one idea. Whenever you get new healthy ideas, the old unhealthy ideas must be given up. The vast majority of persons are slaves to old outgrown ideas. They do not have strength to change the habits, because the old habits have been strongly established in their conscious mind like glue. Therefore, from your very childhood try to cultivate some good and healthy habits. This habit formation is like a double-edged razor. If you utilise it in good and noble ways you will be greatly benefited, but it will ruin you if you utilise it in evil ways. Very well, now let us disperse. May God give you strength and willpower to cultivate good habits and shun all the bad habits completely.

Om. Santi! Jai hind.*

Brajabandhu was greatly appreciated by the students and other teachers, and as his long-time school colleague Mr. Choudhry said, “He was liked particularly by the students; he would tell them how to lead this life, how we should look at God to solve all our day to day life’s problems, and some of us, who were a little spiritually minded, would go to his house for hari-nama and puja. Most probably once a week, we gathered there, four to five of us. The teachers all liked him, the students also like him very much, he was a good teacher – intelligent. He could teach so many things; literature was his favorite subject, besides which he was also teaching geography, history; he was good at teaching all subjects.”

Mr. Choudhary also alluded to Brajabandhu’s financial position. “He is a good gentleman. One thing that I should say is that is his financial position was not good, he was always in want. All the money he got as his salary he gave to his wife, and most of the time he had to ask for loans; but he was very particular, the very day he received his salary he would refund the loan. But after two to three days he again asked for a loan, and he returned it on the very day on the first of the month, like that.”

Mr. Choudhary: he was neat and clean, dhoti and full shirt, and in the last year changed to saffron. And he taught in saffron, no shaved head. His character was very high! All the students like him. All the teachers liked him; he had quite an impact on all of us at the school.

Brajabandhu Meets Krsna

Vasanti Devi: Once when my husband was coming back from visiting Hrsikesha he told me that he had met Krsna as a cowherd boy. Krsna was playing with a small calf and suddenly the calf ran and brushed against my husband. I did not believe it. I said to him, ‘It is out of joking you are saying this to me.’ Then he showed me his clothing and it was stained with cowdung. He said that near the railway station, near the Kujang bus stand, there was a crowd and he was standing a little back from the crowd and the calf brushed against him, and Krsna was there also. Then he said, “I met Krsna” and I said to him, ‘You are joking with me.’ So he showed me his clothing and his clothing was stained with cow dung! He said, ‘I saw Krsna today.’ And I said, ‘No, no, no, how will it be?’ he was assuring me that he had seen Krsna that day.

Brajabandhu and the Yogi

During married life Brajbandhu would try to get away to far off holy places in India during his vacation period. He would visit places such as Haridwar and Hrsikesha. Sometimes he would take the family, sometimes he would not. This is one experience that he had during a trip to Haridwar whilst visiting that area in 1971. He had spent all his available time there and now it was time to return.

Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja: …There was one incident; I had come to Haridwar from Orissa via Calcutta by train. My vacation time was nearly over and I went to the railway station counter to book my ticket to go back to Calcutta from Haridwar. I knew what the fare was and I had the correct money [thirty rupees] to get the ticket, but the ticket booking clerk said; “No! No!” he told some figure ten rupees extra. I said that I had come one month back and the fare was thirty rupees, I knew what is the fare; I had paid this fare and now he said it was more. ‘How is that?’ I said to him. ‘No! No!’, he said. ‘It is ten rupees extra.’ I had no money to pay the extra, how to pay him? So I had a friend with me, he had come with me.

I asked my friend, ‘Have you any money to spare?’ he said, ‘No, but I know one person who has some money. I may bring it!’ I said, ‘Yes! Go and bring it, otherwise how can I get the ticket?’

So my friend ran to get the money, and after some hours he came back, and that ticket booking clerk he went out and a new person came. When I asked the new ticket booking clerk for the ticket to Calcutta, and I paid him the extra ten rupees for the fare he asked, ‘Why are you paying ten rupees extra?’ and I said that the other clerk had said that the fare was not ten rupees extra and here it is, the extra ten rupees. The other clerk had told me that the fare increase was from thirty rupees to forty rupees. The new clerk then said, ‘O, he has told you the wrong thing—wrong fare.’

What is this? Then I looked up and that yogi was there. I saw that yogi there as the ticket clerk. The first ticket booking clerk was a yogi I had seen him in the Himalayas. I saw that yogi sitting there as the ticket booking clerk. He had made this magic just to put me in such trouble. I was running here, running there to try to get the extra ten rupees for the fare; there was not even a ticket booking clerk. In the beginning it was the yogi, he had just manifested himself to that spot to give me trouble.

His Divine Grace did not give much credibility to the tricks and magic of the yogic of the Himalayan region as these things did not have anything to do with Krsna-bhakti. But this one particular yogi definitely wanted to cause problems for His Divine Grace.**

Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja: I would go to the Himalaya region on my school vacation because I was practising how to leave home, how to develop detachment from this family life and to live a life of renunciation.

Great Faith in The Holy Name

Brajabandhu had great faith in the holy name. Once in 1972 whilst he was traveling to Haridwar and Hrsikesha, this time with his whole family, this incident took place… “I have personal experience, yes. I was a grhastha.. I was a teacher.. I would earn money. I had family big family! I have seven children – four sons, three daughters. Big basket I was carrying! Yes. Big basket carrying – very heavy! Do you understand?”

Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja: During this summertime there was vacation, about two month’s vacation… that time I was going to Himalayas..this Haridwar, Hrsikesha…there was no scorching heat of the sun…very cooling places were the Ganges flows…sit down on the bank of the Ganges…and many sadhus are there. So for this purpose I was going.

Once I was going…. I took the family with me…my wife, my children..booked the train ticket, there was a seasonal ticket. I booked that seasonal ticket, then I went, but I couldn’t get a reservation…on train. The train ticket inspector was there taking bribes. Who gives bribe, they are giving them seats. I couldn’t give a bribed, so he didn’t give me a seat. I said, ‘I have purchased this ticket, seasonal ticket, why you are not..?’ “No, no, no,! Seat is not available—go in common, general compartment!”

‘Why shall I go in general compartment, I have brought this seasonal ticket…’ but he didn’t listen. Somehow I entered that compartment, I went in. But in Uttar Pradesh…there is a station.. Bareilly station, Bareilly…another train ticket inspector came, he was a very rude person! He threw me out…. ‘Hey, why are you here, get out from here!’ He pushed me down… ‘No, you are not allowed!’ I said, ‘All right, if Krsna wants….’ So I got down with the whole family and sat down there on the platform at Bareilly station…started chanting Hare Krsna and told my wife and children, ‘All right, all of you chant! Hare Krsna, the whole mantra. If Krsna wants we’ll stay here and chant Hare Krsna, that is very good!’

So after one minute… you see, just after one, two minutes when we started chanting Hare Krsna, some gentleman came and chastised that train ticket inspector. ‘Hey, what are you doing! He has so many small children.. this scorching heat of the sun..sitting there, they’ll suffer…you are taking bribes, giving others seats… why are you not giving seats to these people! And he chastised him….. Then the train ticket inspector called me, ‘Yes, come on, come on, come on!’ You see!***

** When the author asked His Divine Grace for any other experience with the yogis he just laughed and said, “That is enough yogis’ activities”. He just kept laughing; but he did not take them seriously, he did not give them any credence!

***This story was told by His Divine grace in an evening class in Villa Vrndavana, Italy, in 1995. On his way back to the room he told his servant/secretary he had not planned to say this and did not normally speak these things in general classes – but the Lord prompted him to do so.

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