Grand Inauguration Festival,
Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math – London Chapter
West London Branch
16 August 2014
Report by Sripad Devashis Prabhu
Today we saw a prophesy fulfilled, today we saw history in the making—time, marked by a spiritual event envisioned by Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur in 1936, eluded to by Srila Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar-Dev Goswami Maharaj in 1941, confirmed again by Srila Sridhar Maharaj in 1983 and given direction and impetus by Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda-Dev Goswami Maharaj in the 1990’s until his passing in 2010. Now under the auspices of Srila Bhakti Nirmal Acharya Maharaj and due to the hard work and sacrifice of many dedicated devotees, a delightful flower has bloomed in West London. The new branch of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, the place where the teachings of pure Love of Godhead uniquely conceived in the heart of Srila Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar-Dev Goswami Maharaj in the line of Srila Prabhupad Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, Srila Thakur Bhakti Vinod and the Supreme Lord of Love Himself, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu—will shine and shower upon all.
In 1936 Srila Prabhupad Saraswati Thakur asked our Guru Maharaj, Srila Sridhar Maharaj to go for preaching in London. At that time, anticipating the imminent departure of Srila Prabhupad from the world and knowing that his presence at that parting would be required by Srila Prabhupad, Srila Guru Maharaj humbly declined his request. “I cannot understand their intonation and their customs and I do not mix very easily with others. If you order me I must go but I think your money will be wasted and you would get a better result if you send Aprakrita Prabhu.” Aprakrita Prabhu (later Srila Bhakti Saranga Goswami Maharaj) was sent. Still for his whole life following this, Srila Guru Maharaj considered that preaching in London was his own service, directed by his Guru Maharaj.
Five years later, Srila Guru Maharaj came to live at his eternal place of bhajan in Sri Nabadwip Dham. At that time there was just a small thatched hut where Srila Guru Maharaj stayed. He entered that hut on the Rathayatra day in 1941 planting a tall bamboo pole and hoisting a flag atop after composing the following Sanskrit sloka:
śrīmach-chaitanya-sārasvata-maṭha-vara udgītā-kīrtir jayaśrīṁ
“On the banks of the Ganges in Koladwip, Nabadwip, Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math stands resplendent. The flag flies high, singing its glories around the world. There, the residents chant the glories of Lord Gauranga and aspire to serve Sri Sri Radha Govinda in the line of Sri Rupa.”
After reading this sloka one of Guru Maharaj’s godbrothers questioned, “You have a very small hut and a tall bamboo pole and a flag. What is the meaning of such a grand sloka?” Srila Guru Maharaj replied, “You will see in the future what will be.”
In 1983 a handful of aspiring devotees began a small ashram in South East London. Inspired by the teachings and divine grace of Srila Sridhar Maharaj we asked him if we could make this the London branch of his mission. He mercifully replied to us, “My Guru Maharaj wanted that I would preach in London. I was not able to physically come to London but if you can make a centre there in the name of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math – London Chapter, I will consider this as a great service to my Guru Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur.”
With blessings received we began our attempt. We had no money, no experience and no real idea how to proceed. We only had the Holy Name, a few spiritual books and faith in our Srila Guru Maharaj. And we had each other.
Gradually, with much struggle, tears and laughter, with much hope and goodwill and the grace of Srila Guru Maharaj our numbers increased and the mission became established. In 1985 Srila Sridhar Maharaj installed Their Worshipful Lordships Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Radha Shyamasundar. At that time he said, “I consider the London Math as another room of my Nabadwip Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math.”
Over the years the location of the London Math moved until in 1996 we brought the house at 466 Green Street. Many times Srila Govinda Maharaj visited the London Math and stayed there and he was extremely happy and satisfied that we had this small centre in the name of Srila Guru Maharaj. By the grace and hard work of the devotees we managed to pay off the mortgage and the property was secure.
Still, Srila Govinda Maharaj felt some dissatisfaction and that dissatisfaction was that our Math was too small and something more commensurate with the dignity and position of Srila Sridhar Maharaj if possible, would be more appropriate. Whenever Srila Govinda Maharaj visited, our small Math was bursting at the seams. He told us, “We must try to secure a bigger centre where happily all of our devotees can be accommodated.”
We began to look for that bigger centre, especially Sri Govinda Prabhu and his family took this order of Srila Govinda Maharaj to heart. Now Sri Govinda Prabhu is Sripad Bhakti Vigraha Nyasi Maharaj and his passion to fulfil the order of Srila Govinda Maharaj has come to fruition. Srila Govinda Maharaj engaged Sripad Bhakti Chaitanya Bharati Maharaj of Russia to lead the search but finally our beloved Godbrother Sripad Lalita Madhava Prabhu found this property and secured it for the service of Srila Guru Maharaj. Srila Govinda Maharaj gave an indication, “If it can be near to the airport, that will be very good.” As Srila Bhakti Pavan Janardan Maharaj said, “If it were any closer to the airport we would not need to go through immigration!”
Srimati Saraswati Devi Dasi, Srila Govinda Maharaj’s personal servitor and caregiver until his final manifest days with us, moved her family home to the area of the new centre. Immediately she engaged herself in the service of the new Math, arranging everything to make it ready, sacrificing herself and tirelessly working, sometimes with others and sometimes alone, taking the reins and with much humility showing us the example of Guru Bhakti. By her efforts we are able to celebrate this great inauguration festival.
And so here we are today gathered in the great assembly of Vaishnavas personally invited by our Acharyadev, Srila Bhakti Nirmal Acharya Maharaj, from all over the world: Vaishnava Acharya Srila Bhakti Pavan Janaradan Maharaj (USA), Vaishnava Acharya Srila Bhakti Kusum Ashram Maharaj (Mexico), Vaishnava Acharya Srila Bhakti Vijay Trivikram Maharaj (Brazil), Tridandi Swami Sripad Bhakti Vigraha Nyasi Maharaj (USA), Tridandi Swami Sripad Bhakti Chaitanya Bharati Maharaj (Russia), Tridandi Swami Sripad Bhakti Svarup Tridandi Maharaj (UK), Tridandi Swami Sripad Bhakti Chandan Parvat Maharaj (USA), Tridandi Swami Sripad Bhakti Kamal Tyagi Maharaj (India), Sripad Kripamoya Prabhu and Srimati Guru Charana Padma Devi (Bhaktivedanta Manor ISKCON UK), Sripad Jai Nitai Prabhu and Bhava Bhakti Devi (Radha-Londonisvara Mandir ISKCON UK) and so many revered devotees. How beautifully the worshipful Vaishnavas all spoke. It was like something out of fable.
“When we get our new centre the big Mahaprabhu can go there.” Srila Govinda Maharaj told me.
After the honoured devotees had spoken we moved to the Temple Room for the darshan and first madhyana-bhoga arati of Sriman Mahaprabhu and Radha Giridharijiu. Joyful sankirttan followed as Lord Sri Chaitanyadev in His archa-vigraha manifestation showered His blessings upon the devotees. He had taken his place as the Lord of the West London Branch of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, taken possession of His property and the hearts of those who had assembled to glorify His Holy Name. It was certainly wonderful, inspiring and happy. “Param Vijayate Sri Krishna Sankirtanam!”
When the kirtan ended and conch shell blew, the jaya-dhvani of the Saraswat Gaudiya Sampradaya was loudly called and answered with enthusiastic “Jaya!”
Still hearing the echo of the sweet mrdanga and karatals we filed into the Prasadam Hall and sat to honour the great feast of Maha-Prasadam. I can scarcely remember so many wonderful dishes served at one time. One after another, more and more and each more relishable than the last. I had said to the devotees a few days earlier, “We should make this the feast to end all feasts. The feast that everyone will remember for years to come.” Those devotees did not disappoint. Everything was perfect and then it was served perfectly and with so much grace and joy. This is the company of devotees that I desire for all my life and lives to come.
And if that were not enough, following the feast that would require ordinary people a few days to digest, the devotees headed by Srila Ashram Maharaj and Srila Trivikram Maharaj intrepidly journeyed into central London to chant and dance through the streets bringing the Nagar Sankirttan of Sriman Mahaprabhu to the fortunate souls of Kali-yuga.
I offer my obeisance again and again to all the devotees that made this day a reality and it is my prayer that we can properly represent the unique treasure of Krishna Consciousness, the Golden Gift of the Golden Lord, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu revealed by Srila Sridhar Maharaj and spread all over the world through the generous heart of Srila Govinda Maharaj and continued today by their sincere followers. May I always remain an insignificant servant of you all.
Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, London Chapter, West London Branch Inauguration Festival ki Jai!
In all humility
Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, Nabadwip
http://scsmath.com | Main Centres