Chapter 9 – 1973 Preaching is Greater Than Material Life

Gradually, Brajabandhu’s attachment to the holy name and his inner need to find a sadhu who could teach him the glories of the holy name, give him sannyasa and allow him to preach the message of Mahaprabhu, developed. He wanted to preach and become a wandering sadhu; his taste for family life was waning and his attachment for Krsna was increasing day by day. During this year he also visited the Haridwar-Hrisikesha region again, this time by himself. All he could think was how to renounce, where to go and what sadhu to associate with.

Mr. Choudhary: after some days he felt some inner call, as he said then, ‘to go to the Himalayas and have a darsana of Swami Sivanandaji in Hrsikesha.’ He collected subscriptions (donations) from the staff and outside and he went there. On his return we found some changes in him. He did not like to put on his usual clothes, rather he took the robes of a bhakta-sannyasi and took classes in the school. This was at the end of 1973, if I recollect correctly. He had a regular practice of Rama janma [the appearance of Lord Rama] Krsna janma [the appearance of Lord Krsna]; he was inwards, not outwards. But he never stopped these functions; he called others and gathered a few to observe these functions and fed them at his house with his wife and family.

The Gita Yajna

During Brajabandhu’s high school period he was invited to a matha named Poio Math which is a Radha-Krsna temple. It was near both Subhash Biswal’s village and his own village. Brajabandhu was requested by a man named Sukadeva Malik to give a series of lectures at this matha on Gita-jayanti. Gita-jayanti is the birth ceremony of the Bhagavad-gita! The distance from Poio Math to Gadai Giri temple is four kilometers.

Subhash Biswal: so in the Poio Math I met Brajabandhu again, this was in 1973. He was still teaching at that time. When I saw him I noticed that he was chanting “Jaya Govinda, Jaya Gopala” and he was always chanting the Hare Krsna mantra, but one very significant thing was that he was chanting the mantra starting with Hare Rama first and Hare Krsna second. So I met him again and I paid my obeisances to him and he paid his to me, he recognized me and said, ‘It is good that you are here and whatever I chant, just repeat it, and then we will start the speech on Srimad Bhagavad-gita.’ At this stage in his life Brajabandhu was wearing saffron clothing—sadhu-coloured clothing—a saffron-coloured lungi and a saffron coloured wrap. He looked just like a renuniciant, a sadhu.

Prior to this, Sukadeva Mallik had worked for the police force, but by 1973, he had retired and was no longer working at the Balikuda thana—Balikuda Police Station. In the matha in Poio there was a babaji whose name was Jagannathdas Babaji, Sukadeva Mallik would frequent this matha. This babaji asked him for his help to perform a Gita-yajna, so he asked, “What help can I give you?” the babaji asked him to collect bhiksa (donations) for him so that the Gita-yajna could go on. So for one year Sukadeva Mallik collected donations, for the babaji. The babaji then asked him to find four people who could speak and lecture on the Gita. The babaji said, “From the surrounding areas and nearby places you invite four person and pay them fifteen to sixteen rupees a night to speak on the Gita.” He found four people to speak, but they were not able to speak very nicely and they could not explain anything, so the babaji was very disappointed. He said to Sukadeva Mallik, “We need someone better than this; can you please find someone?” So whilst searching for a suitable person to speak at the Gita-yajna he ended up at the Jagannathpur High School.

He went to the school and asked for the Headmaster. The headmaster was sitting on a very high chair and Sukadeva Mallik asked him, “Sir, will you come and speak for us at the Gita-yajna?” the headmaster said, “Not me, but this person here, this babu (Brajabandhu Manik) he can speak at your Gita-yajna.” Sukadeva Mallik looked at ‘this babu’—Brajabandhu, who was sitting on the floor, and it was as if he was very deep in thought. He was wearing a gamcha and had one gamcha on his shoulder and he was sitting on the cement floor. The headmaster said then, “This babu knows Gita very nicely and he will come and speak for you. You can ask him.” So Sukadeva Mallik approached Brajabandhu and asked him to speak at the Gita-yajna, and Brajabandhu replied, “If ‘bhagavati-adesa’—if Saraswati the Goddess of Speech allows and wishes and orders me that I should attend, then I will come, otherwise not.”

When he heard this, Sukadeva Mallik turned to the person who accompanied him and said, “This man is not giving any clear answer, so let us go from here; it does not seem that he is going to speak for us!” that was 1 April, at seven o’clock in the evening. It was the first time that Sukadeva Mallik had seen Brajabandhu, but he was disappointed that he would only speak if Mother Sarasvati ordered him to go! Sukadeva Mallik found it too hard to believe, that Brajabandhu was going to speak to Mother Sarasvati.

Accordingly, Sukadeva Mallik and his friend both returned to the babaji empty handed; they had not found anyone to speak. They said, “It is not going to work. This person speaks to Mother Sarasvati—it seems to fantastic to believe.” Sukadeva Mallik and his friend thought that this was just too unbelievable.

But the next day, 2 April, at 7.00 p.m. Brajabandhu arrived. He was wearing wooden peg shoes—katthao and he had hired a coolie to carry a big trunk with all his books and clothes for him. He did not go to the matha directly; he went to Jagannathpur, which is about one and a half kilometers from Poio, and asked for a Mr. Utsava Gocchaiti, Mr. Gocchaiti was a person who was interested in hearing the Gita, so he called on him and asked for Sukadeva Mallik. Brajabandhu asked, “Can you please call Suka babu, the man who is organizing the Gita-yajna, so I can speak to him?”

At that time Brajabandhu was teaching in Kujang, but he had come to Jagannathpur because his house was there, adjacent to the Jagannathpur High School. That is where Sukadeva Mallik had first met Brajabandhu and it was the first day of Gita-yajna. The yajna had already started and they had called these four persons and given them rupees a night, and they were disappointed with them. Then on the second night Brajabandhu arrived.

So on the second evening, the Gita-yajna was going on, and a lady called, Charulata Nayaka was reading the Gita, when Sukadeva Mallik brought Brajabandhu in. he was wearing a dhoti and kurta and wooden peg shoes, and they requested him to give the talk on the Gita, so he spoke; and he spoke for four hours. Sukadeva Mallik had not prepared any garlands for the speaker because he had arrived unexpectedly, and they were not prepared to receive him properly. So he just came and gave the class and Sukadeva Mallik was very impressed; he said that he felt very nice in his heart.

Everyone who was there was impressed, and they all liked it, including the babaji. That night there was no place in matha for Brajabandhu to stay so he was accommodated at the house of Acyuta Nayaka, the father-in-law of Charu Nayaka, the lady who had been reading from the Gita that evening. She had been reading the Gita because there was no one to speak and the yajna had to go on—the glorification of the Gita had to go on—so she had been selected to read from the Gita. But everyone was very impressed and pleased when Brajabandhu arrived.

The next morning Brajabandhu woke up early and Sukadeva Mallik saw that he was sitting in lotus position and had hung a sign on the wall with the (om) symbol on it and was meditating on it. Then after that he spoke on the Gita from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. whilst he was lecturing, Jagannaathdas Babaji, who was much older than Brajabandhu, was sitting in front of him in the audience, and he began smoking ganja (marijuana) in his pipe and he was enjoying himself. When Brajabandhu saw this he became extremely angry and then shouted at the babaji, “Get out of here,” Brajabandhu was shocked that in the temple of the Lord someone would smoke ganja. This man was so ashamed and so embarrassed that he just dropped the pipe and ran into a large adjoining field and threw himself on the ground and started rolling around. He was very frightened. That babaji never took ganja again, he was so ashamed.

After the lecture on the Gita was finished, prasada was distributed. After hearing Brajabandhu speak on the Gita, Sukadeva Mallik was inspired to do this Gita-yajna every year. He was ready to do bhiksa (collecting donations) all over Orissa and do the Gita-yajna in many places so that Brajabandhu could go and speak and many, many people could hear him. He decided this after hearing Brajabandhu speak only once, he was so inspired.*

After that, and while prasada was being distributed, Brajabandhu in his wooden sandals was walking up and down the rows of people taking prasada and checking to see that everyone had enough and he was saying, “Give him chutney, give his this—give him that.” After everyone had eaten that morning, all those people, only after that, Brajabandhu took prasada.

Brajabandhu spoke for three days, morning and evening, and in the afternoon he would start at 3:00 p.m. and go on to 9:00 p.m. Sukadeva Mallik had arranged a nice-looking chair which was decorated tastefully for Brajabandhu to sit on, and he would give dobs** once in a while because his throat would be so dry from speaking. He would drink and then speak, like that for six hours. On the third day, when it was the farewell night, Sukadeva Mallik approached Brajabandhu and gave him the fifteen rupees as daksina, as donation, but Brajabandhu gave the money back to him and said, “Keep it, and with this money and with any more money that you get, build an asrama here for me.” Brajabandhu was already meditating on the idea of leaving family life and having his own asrama.

Brajabandhu Decides to Leave Home

Sukadeva Mallik: he did not accept the money but said I should build an asrama for him here! He had at that time already had this inspiration to have an asrama in that place, Poio. He had faith in me that I could build an asrama for him in this place. So I kept the money with Charulata Nayaka and I could see that Brajabandhu was very inspired after this Gita-yajna and with that in his mind at that time he made the decision to leave family life. So during these lectures he completely lost his taste for material life, he was completely turned off! He was in this mood of renunciation, it came up so much in him that he decided to leave.

Subhash Biswal: so after this Gita-yajna Brajabandhu asked me to come to him frequently so that we could have discourses on Radha-krsna-tattva. I was doing this and also I would go to Kujang High School and we would have discussions on the different tattvas. Brajabandhu was working very hard studying, reading and writing up until one o’clock in the morning. He would do a hard day’s work and then he would study religious book’s reading writing into the later hours of the night. He would make notes on what he was studying.

Subhash developed a friendship with Brajabandhu and would visit him regularly. As well as discussing the different tattvas and having bhajana-kirtana with Subhash, Brajabandhu began teaching him yoga asanas; he became like Subhash’s spiritual guide. At this stage in his life Brajabandhu would not sit in the common room with the other teachers, he did not mix with others, and Subhash could see that he was developing the symptoms of renunciation. Brajabandhu also intimated to Subhash that he was not finding any pleasure in his family life nor in this material world.

Mr. Choudhary: on his return from Hrsikesha we had talks, philosophical discussions. If I recollect, he had brought some rudraksa beads from Hrsikesha for us and japa-mala to count. I could remember one day he said—that is, before his final departure from this school, ‘You see, I can’t teach anything. I find my body charged with spiritual thoughts, wherever I look I find Lord Krsna on the walls, among the students and among my colleagues.’ Most of the time when Brajabandhu was sitting in the teachers’ common room we had discussions, but all relating to spirituality; he did not discuss material things. About one month after this he handed in a plain application, that he wanted to leave.

Acaryavan dasa: [I was not there when Gurudeva was teaching but] I met one of Gurudeva’s colleagues at the bookstall in Bhubaneswar. I was selling books. He was an older gentleman. He told me that he used to teach with Gurudeva and he said that at that time, at a certain point when he was in Kujang High School, Gurudeva asked for leave. Gurudeva said he could not teach anymore because everywhere he looked he saw Krsna. He was seeing Krsna in his students; everywhere was Krsna! He could not tolerate doing this teaching anymore, he had to go. So they gave him leave. This man explained this to me.

*Author’s note: it should be understood that there are many people wandering around posing as sadhus but one must hear a sadhu, you cannot see a sadhu; you must hear him and then see. So here is Brajabandhu Manik, schoolmaster, (hidden in the Kujang High School), speaking on the Bhagavad-gita and everyone inspired; they heard him and then they could see him. And the babaji was also inspired; to see a sadhu is not such an easy thing, one must hear and get the mercy of the sadhu and then by the sadhu’s mercy you will see him.

**Dobs: coconut drink, from the milk of the coconut before the inside skin goes hard. A very popular drink in tropical climates.

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