Did I ever mention how uncompromising Srila Gaurakishora Dasa Babaji was? He was very uncompromising, to the absolute degree. There was absolutely no way anyone could sneak any hidden desires past him, only pure, unalloyed devotion to Krishna would deserve his recognition. And herein lies the problem.
The other side of this strict avoidance of materialistic people is that no one could ever qualify to receive his grace, everybody failed at one point or another. His official biography has numerous anecdotes of this or that swami, baba, or an aspiring devotee falling from the path of service to the Lord, it seems no one stood a chance. And what’s more, not a single story had a happy ending or any chance of eventual redemption. Once doomed one was doomed for the rest of his life.
Maharaja once invited him to his house, if he was really sincere about vaishnava association, Srila Gaurakishora replied, he should have come to live with him in his hut instead. The other day I mentioned this story and there was a lesson there I liked at the moment but look at it form maharaja’s POV – you either renounce the world and become a babaji or you can forget about Srila Gaurakishora’s blessings and rot in your material life forever.
And if you think that moving to live as a renunciate would solve all your problems you are mistaken, too. Your problems would only start there and it would probably fasten your doom. I say this because there are way too many stories of devotees falling in their vows to have any reasonable chance of surviving.
There was once a dude who was doing very well, living in a hut, chanting his rounds and doing sankirtana with Srila Gaurkishora and others and still he had fallen, miserably. It started with him picking up karatals himself and singing in a new tune. That was it, that was enough.
Of course that was only an external manifestation of the materialistic desires that were hiding in his heart. He picked up the tune while secretly visiting his home where he couldn’t give up association of pretenders. Then he was caught singing songs glorifying real vaishnavas in their company and that’s when the verdict was cast – he was not fit for Srila Gaurakishora’s association anymore, he had to go. That devotee soon left on his own accord without even telling Srila Gaurakishora about his plans. He went to Puri, became a babaji, and came back telling the stories of his service to Haridasa Thakura. He became a babaji resident in Navadvipa and lots of people came to worship him.
Srila Gaurakishora lamented about his departure and blamed it on maya, he was sad that he couldn’t be saved, that his heart wasn’t pure. That devotee couldn’t give up the association of the pretenders and he became a pretender himself, nothing could stop him, Srila Gaurakishora signed that off as independent will of the living entity.
There was another devotee who took shelter of Srila Gaurakishora Dasa Babaji but still couldn’t give up association of pseudo-vaishnavas. Eventually he fell sick and had a woman to come and take care of him. After that he just left for Vrindavana where he admitted to another devotee that he had illicit sex. To atone for this sin he had taken a mortal dose of opium and thus killed himself. The devotee he confessed to came to Navadvipa and he too became sick and had female association. Srila Gaurakishora explained that previously he had given shelter to yet another devotee who had illicit sex and that devotee was brutally tortured and killed by some dacoits for his sins so Srila Gaurakishora didn’t want to have anything to do with these people. It sounds like a royal mess, the only thing clear from this is that there’s no atonement for illicit sexual relationships, only death. That’s a bummer.
Then there was a devotee who once came to Srila Gaurakishora (and he is introduced as “dear associate” in the biography), so that devotee came to complain about Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, there’s no name given but from the story it appears that it was Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura himself. The accusation was that “Prabhu” was exhibiting symptoms of a sense enjoyer, and that was enough. Srila Gaurakishora gave a big lecture on the status of the exalted devotees and ended it with “I shall never again look upon the face of that atheistic person who has commited this great offense.” I bet that devotee thought to himself that he should have never opened his mouth or shouldn’t have tried to judge vaishnavas’ behavior in the first place.
Another unfortunate soul ran his mouth about Vaikuntha like opulence of newly established worship in Sri Mayapura, in Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s math. That was a fatal error of judgment and he was banished from Navadvipa forever. He ended up scoring chicks by dressing as a babaji.
As you can see, there are too many pitfalls to navigate safely, one little error here or there and you are finished. There’s not a single story of redemption, though it’s probably the result of slightly biased selection of anecdotes.
I often think to myself what I would say if I met this or that person in real life. What would I report to Srila Prabhupada about my service, or what would I tell my guru if he caught me in the middle of my day, so there’s no wonder I once thought of a possibility of having a conversation with Srila Gaurakishora Dasa Babaji. I still think about it, occasionally, though in much more depressing manner.
I’ve never been too successful in my silent conversations with anybody but I somehow managed to pacify my counterparts in my mind, not so with Srila Gaurakishora, I see absolutely no way of earning his mercy, I would fail on each and every test and would be banished for life for each and every secret thought, sometimes not so secret.
Just today I wanted to catch up on things with devotees who have left ISKCON for Radha Kunda, I can offer some justifications for their abandonment of the shelter of Srila Prabhupada but I bet Srila Gaurakishora would have none of it and would curse me to my spiritual death for not giving up my attachment to them completely.
Or what about seeing faults in senior devotees? What about associating with people who love to seek faults in other vaishnavas? What about my own desire to chomp on each and every ISKCON related gossip? Why do I need to know how each and every famous guru fell in their service? Why?
Why do I feel I can keep my cleanliness by reading books translated by those who have left their spiritual masters? In some cases books explicitly prohibited by Srila Prabhupada.
None of this would pass by Srila Gaurakishora Dasa Babaji, at the very least he wouldn’t accept anyone living in the wider, materialistic society as a devotee. I simply have no chance. As things stand now I’m not even supposed to desire to renounce the world and move to Vrindavana or Navadvipa. I know I’m not ready but it would be wrong even if I was. What am I to do?
It also appears that as long as materialistic desires live in my heart I have a very real danger of falling very, very deep into the darkest regions of materialistic hell, for not giving them up completely. How is it possible for me to survive?
That’s why I never had any success in my mental conversations with Srila Gaurakishora and that’s why I will never have a chance of a real one with devotees of his caliber – too close to the fire. Icarus once tried to fly to the Sun with his artificial wings and got badly burned. That’s what’s going to happen to me if I somehow imagine that I deserve better association in my life.
Hmm, this kinda nullifies the merciful effort of Lord Chaitanya to save all fallen souls. The mercy is there but I can’t take it, too hot to handle. The more I try the more offences I commit, the deeper I fall.
Also that part about independent will of the living entity scares the hell out of me. In the official biography there’s also the mention of the previous karma being somehow responsible. I know my independent desires and I know my previous karma – I stand a snowball’s chance in hell to succeed.
Perhaps the train of Lord Chaitanya’s mercy has sailed for good and I have totally missed it. What was that about “I preserve what they have and give them what they need”? This is my only hope, and I suspect it’s not going to happen until the next life. Does it mean that I’m essentially free to sin since nothing good is going to happen until I die anyway? Tempting, tempting…