Young Abhay Charan (Srila Prabhupada’s legal name) was convinced and years later, Srila Prabhupada told his disciples that during that fortuitous meeting he had internally surrendered to his spiritual master and he was defeated by Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur. “I was happy to be defeated by my guru Maharaj”, Srila Prabhupada would happily recount, even decades later.
Here, in Nawadwip, the all-conquering Nimai Pandit, the greatest scholar was happy to be defeated by his spiritual master, Srila Isvara Puri.
After some months, Isvara Puri, who never stayed in one place for long, left Nawadwip and continued his travels.
When Vaishnavas saw Nimai, they were simultaneously joyful and sad. They were happy because when they saw the Lord, their love for Krishna would awaken and increase immensely in their heart. But they were also sorrowful because he was still in the role of an academic teacher and hadn’t shown signs of being a devotee of Krishna. On the contrary, when he saw devotees, he would put them in terrible anxiety by forcing them to talk all different materialistic topics. Devotees couldn’t get away from him because he would grab and challenge them on verbal roots and grammar. He would not talk anything about Krishna. They would get exasperated. “Nimai, you are wasting your precious time. Why don’t you become a devotee? Why don’t you take the names of Krishna? What will you gain by talking these mundane, temporary topics which won’t help you at the time of death? What you are talking is all illusion and maya.”
Devotees would go to Ganga and pray to mother Ganges. “Please make Nimai Pandit a devotee of Krishna,” they appealed. One such devotee was Mukunda. He was around the same age as Nimai and sang beautiful kirtans. Devotees were addicted to the association of Mukunda. One day as Mukunda was walking, Nimai came from the opposite direction and grabbed him and challenged to a debate. Mukunda was also a great scholar and when Nimai asked tough questions, he gave good replies. But Nimai would tear the answers to pieces. Again he challenged Mukunda and yet again, Nimai defeated him. Mukunda began to think in the core of his heart, “This is not an ordinary human being. How can any mortal know so much? If only he became a devotee of Krishna, I will never ever give up his association.”
To be continued…