Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyāṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja
|Born||February 7, 1921|
Tiwaripur, Bihar, India
|Died||December 29, 2010 (aged 89)|
Jagannath Puri, Odisha, India
|Resting place||Sri Navadvipa Dhama, Bengal, India|
|Sect||Rupanuga Gaudiya Vaishnavism|
|Teacher||Śrīla Bhaktiprajnāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja|
|Initiation||Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava Harināma and Diksa, 1947, by Śrīla Bhaktiprajnāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja in Sri Navadvipa Dhama, Bengal, India|
|Ordination||Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava Sannyasa, 1952, by Śrīla Bhaktiprajnāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja in Sri Navadvipa Dhama, Bengal, India|
Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja (7 February 1921 – 29 December 2010) was an Indian guru (spiritual teacher) recognized as an authority on the philosophy, culture, and practices of bhakti-yoga in the Gaudiya Vaishnavism tradition of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He founded a global movement dedicated to bhakti-yoga known as the International Pure Bhakti Yoga Society and propagated bhakti-yoga through published writings and public lectures around the world.
Srila Narayana Maharaja was born on February 7, 1921, to a devout Brahmin family in Bihar, India. From a very young age, he displayed a propensity for religious study, which continued throughout his early adulthood. He was a regular attendee of local discourses on Vedic philosophy, one of which brought him into contact with Gaudiya Vaisnava followers of the Srila Bhaktiprajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja, who would eventually become his guru.
In 1947, he traveled to Sri Navadvipa Dhama during the annual festival honoring the birth of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and there met Srila Kesava Maharaja for the first time. He dedicated his life to the mission of his guru and accepted both harinama and diksa initiations from him. Five years later, he also took the vows of sannyasa from Srila Kesava Maharaja, which led him to begin traveling around India, and later the world, to educate people on bhakti-yoga and the worship of Sri Krsna.
From 1996 to 2010, Srila Narayana Maharaja circled the globe over thirty times and introduced his teachings on a global scale. As his followers grew in number, more than seventy of his written works were translated into all the world's major languages. He is regarded by adherents of Gaudiya Vaishnavism as one of the foremost teachers of bhakti-yoga in the modern age.
Srila Narayana Maharaja was born in a village named Tiwaripur, located near the bank of the Ganges River in the Buxar district of Bihar, India, to a very religious Trivedi Brahmin family. His parents were devout Vaisnavas belonging to the Sri Sampradaya tradition and named him Sriman Narayana. From the time he was a baby, his father used to take him regularly to recitations of the Ramayana, for which he had great affinity. Throughout his childhood, he would accompany his father whenever he attended kirtan and pravachan assemblies.
Meeting his guru
During his boyhood, teenage years, and early adulthood, he maintained the practice of listening to religious discourses, particularly on the subject of the Srimad Bhagavatam. Eventually he came to meet a disciple of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura and associate of Srila Bhaktiprajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja named Srila Narottamananda Brahmacari, who had traveled to Bihar in order to propagate the message of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu there. After engaging in various discussions with the devotee, he developed firm faith in philosophy of Gaudiya Vaishnavism promulgated by Srila Rupa Gosvami and decided to leave his home and join the mission.
Upon reaching Sri Navadvipa Dhama in Bengal, he took part in the annual parikrama of the birthplace and historical sites of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. After completing the parikrama on Sri Gaura Purnima (the birthday of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu) in 1947, he received both harinama and diksa initiations from Srila Bhaktiprajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja, who was a prominent disciple of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. Following tradition, at the time of his initiations, his guru gave him a new name by which he would be known, namely Sri Gaura Narayana. Later, his guru also awarded him the title of Bhakta Bandhava, which means "friend of the devotees," because he demonstrated continual dedication to serving the devotees of the Gaudiya Vaisnava community.
Throughout the next five years, he traveled all over India with Srila Kesava Maharaja, stopping from place to place as a means to remind the people of India about their Vedic heritage and introduce them to the philosophy of Gaudiya Vaisnavism and the teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. In 1952, on the day of Sri Gaura Purnima, his guru granted him initiation into the holy order of sannyasa.
In 1954, Srila Kesava Maharaja encharged him with managing a newly opened temple in the holy city of Sri Mathura Dhama named Sri Kesavaji Gaudiya Matha. Going forward, Srila Narayana Maharaja would divide his time between Mathura and Bengal with the aim of serving his guru's mission in both areas. Srila Kesava Maharaja named him vice-president of his institution, Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti, and also editor of all its Hindi publications, including a monthly periodical called Sri Bhagavat Patrika.
Srila Kesava Maharaja requested Srila Narayana Maharaja to translate the books of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura from Bengali into his native language, Hindi, the most commonly spoken language in India and the official language of the Indian government. Accordingly, Srila Narayana Maharaja fulfilled his guru's order by translating Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura's most famous books, including Jaiva-dharma and Bhakti-tattva-viveka. These books were subsequently translated from Srila Narayana Maharaja's Hindi versions into English and other world languages by his followers.
Outreach in India
After he was instructed by his guru to manage Sri Kesavaji Gaudiya Matha (the temple in Mathura), Srila Narayana Maharaja began concerted efforts to disseminate the teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu within Mathura and throughout the regions of India where Gaudiya Vaisnava philosophy was less familiar. He lectured extensively in Hindi, Bengali, and English throughout Uttar Pradesh and other parts of India, giving two or more discourses a day.
When not speaking, Srila Narayana Maharaja continuously wrote books and articles. Endeavoring to follow the wishes of his guru to render the Vedic scriptures into his mother language of Hindi, he translated and commented upon classics such as Srimad Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam along with the books of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and other prominent Gaudiya Vaisnava acaryas such as Srila Rupa Gosvami.
Srila Narayana Maharaja also began to organize the annual Sri Vraja Mandala Parikrama, a parikrama during the holy month of Kartik of the sites sacred to Vaisnavas for their connection to the activities of Sri Krsna. He continued this service for the next five decades.
Srila Kesava Maharaja passed away in 1968. Along with his godbrothers Srila Bhaktivedanta Vamana Gosvami Maharaja and Srila Bhaktivedanta Trivikrama Gosvami Maharaja, Srila Narayana Maharaja conducted the rituals for his samadhi.
Establishing a global mission
As Srila Narayana Maharaja continued to spread the teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu throughout India, increasing numbers of devotees from around the world traveled to see him. Beginning in 1996, he also began to travel outside India for his preaching, which brought him into wider contact with an international audience. As more of his books were translated into English and other world languages, larger groups attended his lectures, often numbering in the hundreds and thousands.
He established the International Pure Bhakti Yoga Society and a variety of other organizations to assist with his mission to propagate understanding of pure bhakti-yoga. He received numerous honors and recognition from secular and religious leaders for propagating a message of tolerance, peace, and love, including the World Peace Flame in 2001.
In the media
- "High Commissioner Chants Hare Krsna in Victoria Square". Vaisnava News Network. Retrieved 25 April 2020.
- SRILA BHAKTIVEDANTA NARAYANA GOSVAMI MAHARAJA facebook page
- Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja
- Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja books on amazon
- The real teachings of His His Holiness Narayana Maharaja
- Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja
- SRI SRIMAD BHAKTIVEDANTA NARAYANA GOSVAMI MAHARAJA: A CHRISTMAS MESSAGE
- The Passing of Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja
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