Srestharyya Sripad Jagabandhu Das Adhikari, Bhaktiranjan (J. B. D.)

December 1930

Departure of J. B. D.

The day before the close of the spiritual Exhibition that had been organised in the spacious compound of the Gaudiya-Math, which function formed the concluding activity of the long series of the festivities of the auspicious Inauguration of the New Buildings of the Math., Srestharyya Sripad Jagabandhu Das Adhikari Bhaktiranjan, the donor and architect of those superb Buildings, took his departure from the scene of his unique devotional labours with the supreme satisfaction that his soul had at last found and successfully performed his duty to Godhead and humanity. Bhaktiranjan prabhu’s disappearance took place on the 19th of November.

Real significance of the disappearance of the pure devotee of Godhead

There are numerous scriptural texts to the effect that the appearance and disappearance of the devotee of Godhead in this world are part and parcel of their pure, blissful service of the Divinity. They require to be specifically distinguished from apparently similar events, viz., the birth and death of those conditioned souls that fall into the clutches of the Deluding Energy by their wilful neglect of the service of Godhead. Those who regard this world as a place intended by Godhead for the activities of the pure soul are not satisfied by any scheme of life that has no reference to the living principles of eternal existence, absolute knowledge and un-interruptible perfect bliss that alone may properly appertain to the soul in his natural condition. A person with a real hankering for the spiritual life, does not think that the whole of his duty consists in trying to minister to the ephemeral and unwholesome pleasures of the perishable body and ignorant mind. He should be desirous of looking beyond these temporary utilities to find the function that will last. It is to such persons that the words of the scriptures testifying to the immortal nature of the soul, carry spontaneous conviction by a receptive impulse of the soul himself from within. But these momentary impulses do not come to stay. That is the reason that we are unable to incorporate them in every activity. It is not improper to try to prolong the worldly life with the aid of science. It is also necessary to live in order to serve. It is meaningless to try to live for the sake of trying to live. There is a function the Realisation of which is prevented by the dread of death which is responsible for all activities for the prolongation of life. Death will come at the moment appointed by God. It will come naturally and as the proper culmination of our activities, as a help for further activities, without the accompaniments of dread and stupefaction, if the true function of life is not neglected. This happy consummation is not promised by Medical men or biologists. It is not in their power to promise the life eternal because it is not their business to know why any person should live at all even for a single day. Bhaktiranjan prabhu earned the reward of being called to the Presence of Krishna by the proper performance of the function that was allotted to him by Godhead in this world. His disappearance is a startling corroboration of the scriptural tradition that a builder of the shrine of the Divinity obtains the reward of his service by being withdrawn from this vale of suffering on the completion of his task. Such disappearance is coveted by the purest souls. We intend in this short discourse to present our readers with a few personal reminiscences of the departed soul which may enable us to obtain some idea of the nature of Jagabandhu’s realisation of the real function of life.

Cost of the New Buildings

Jagabandhu never regarded the cost of the Buildings as involving any sacrifice to himself. He said that all that was his, was the wish to build the Temple of Godhead and the home of His devotees. The money that was required for the purpose, had been supplied by Sri Gurudeva. He said that this could not be understood by any one except himself. He was particularly anxious to disclaim all credit for spending any money of his own on the Buildings. This was the argument which he also mainly employed in convincing the heirs of his properties. He told them that he had not touched either his capital or the profits of his business to the extent of a single piece of building in the Gaudiya Math. He also urged every one to wish to serve the Lord if he wanted to have a proper idea of his case. In no other way any one else could understand or believe what he said. But it is certain that he did not grudge in the least the enormous cost of the Buildings. On the contrary he was always full of new plans for expenditure. He was extremely fond of the most costly decorations. He felt very sad if any one asked him to reduce his lavish expenditure on decoration. When he was told to give up some of his plans of decoration in view of the fact that they could not be completed within the time at his disposal, he appeared to be very much distressed taking it to be a great punishment inflicted on him by the Lord for his past misdeeds. He was very particular to pay in cash both for material and labour, saying that if he tried to build on loan he would be in the power of his creditors and might be compelled to use inferior material. The original plan that he had conceived of the Buildings underwent rapid expansion as the work progressed. He always assured his best friend, Sripad Kunjabehari Vidyabhusan prabhu, that he was prepared to spend whatever was necessary for making the Temple as beautiful as possible. As the costs mounted up to an ever increasing figure the delight and enthusiasm of Bhaktiranjan prabhu proportionately increased. His gladness knew no bounds on the day of Inauguration of the Buildings drew nigh. He confessed to all his friends that he had no sleep at night for his anxiety to complete the Buildings in time for the Inauguration Ceremony. The only way to please him was by praising the Buildings. If any defect was pointed out he would not rest till the defect had been completely rectified. He demolished costly constructions many times over without the least hesitation to avoid every defect that was detected. It is not possible to make an actual estimate of the cost of the Buildings. Jagabandhu himself never set any limits to his expenditure. In these circumstances the cost is likely to have been very high, probably higher than any guess of a businessman. Jagabandhu built the Temple of Godhead in the spirit and with the purpose of the true devotee. No one will probably ever know what the Buildings actually cost. He made an unconditional gift of the Buildings and land to Sri Gurudeva. This proves the perfection of his faith and must be wholly unintelligible to persons who are less devoted to the service of the servants of Krishna. It is the pure, selfless soul of J. B. D. that has been translated into the living Abode of Godhead and His devotees.

Personal labour in the construction of the Buildings

It is necessary to mention a few details regarding the personal exertions of J. B. D. in connection with the buildings of the Math. He was present on the premises from the day when the foundations were laid. He was in the worst state of bodily health at that time and onwards. He, however, chose to accept personal hardship of the most intensive type. He did not care for wind, rain or the sun and attended personally to the laying of one brick upon another. The whole of his time from early morning to a very late hour into the night, was wholly consecrated to the service of the Buildings. His secular business prospered most wonderfully all the while that he was engaged in this manner. His attachment to the work of actual construction need not, therefore, be supposed to be allied to any form of barren asceticism or stoicism. He was able to make the most efficient arrangement for the conduct of his secular affairs by giving practically all his time to the service of the Math. This is also not intelligible to those who have no experience of the real nature of the genuine devotion to the servants of Krishna. The service of Godhead is the only complete and true way of fulfilling our duties to humanity. There are, indeed, hypocrites who teach to neglect worldly affairs as the necessity of spiritual life. J. B. D. knew better. He devoted all his attention, time and money to building the Abode of the servants of Krishna without having to neglect his ordinary worldly affairs in any way. No one ever heard him brag of his ‘spirit of sacrifice.’ He knew that the service of Krishna is always a fulfilment of everything and never a sacrifice of anything. But the worldly mind can never understand this. He also asked all his dependants and relations to devote all their time to the worship of Godhead under the guidance of the really pure devotees of the Gaudiya Math. This exhortation and his own living example had their effect on their hearts. This is the way in which J. B. D. was making the real ‘provision’ for his numerous adopted household. He had no children of his own. He did not believe in the sufficiency or beneficence of any earthly provision. He almost made none for his widows. He entrusted to his heirs, by way of their ‘provision’, the task of the due completion of the Gaudiya Math Buildings. Those rich men who may be disposed to think that personal labour is unnecessary in the service of Godhead, cherish a fatal blunder from which they can be rescued only by following the example set by J. B. D. There is no indignity in doing manual service for the Lord. Those who do such service are fully the equal of those who are fit to worship Sree Sree Radha-Govinda in their minds without the manifestation of this apparently external form of activity. As a matter of fact neither the mind nor the body can serve Krishna. Krishna may, however, enable both to be employed in His service. As soon as one obtains this mercy of Krishna his bodily and mental activities acquire the spiritual character and become super-mundane and altogether wholesome in their aptitudes. Those who may be disposed to regard J. B. D. as unfit for mental worship and accordingly to undervalue his personal manual labour in connection with the building of the Gaudiya Math, are themselves unfit to understand the principle of pure devotion to Krishna. The sweeper who worships Krishna is infinitely higher than the conceited pseudo-Brahman who scorns any form of the worship or any of the worshippers of the supreme Lord. This is not sentimentalism. The realisation of this great truth is the only cure both of sentimentalism and nihilism, which are the cousin-germans of rank atheism. For kins and savants no less than for the poor and ignorant, the conduct of this simple faithful servant of the Lord, should serve as a great eye-opener. The same remark is equally applicable to those malicious hypocrites who may choose to regard the Temple of Godhead and the Abode of His pure devotees as having any similarity to their own showy habitations dedicated to the sedulous cultivation of undiluted sensuousness. It is necessary to build for Godhead and His devotees the most sumptuous edifices. It is unnecessary to build even a hovel for the gratification of one’s own sensuous appetites. J. B. D. toiled bare-handed under the burning sun to build the House of Godhead with the accumulations of a life of exemplary industry. His conduct should be the living refutation of the sophistry and casuistry of the whole race of self-seeking atheists of every denomination.

It is never possible to exhaust the infinite goodness of every single act of the pure devotee of Godhead by describing the same in the poor language of this world. The only hope in penning these lines is that the high topic will mercifully impart a particle of its quality to this attempt of most inadequate praise of the activities of Godhead and His pure devotees.