Ācārya Siṁha

The Life of Swami Bhakti Gaurava Narasiṅgha Mahārāja

Introduction

This biography ‘Ācārya Siṁha – The Life of Swami Bhakti Gaurava Narasiṅgha Mahārāja’ is the authorised biography of Swami B.G. Narasiṅgha and is the culmination of eight years of research and interviews with Swami Narasiṅgha himself as well as godbrothers, friends, disciples etc. Narasiṅgha Mahārāja personally provided the framework for this biography and gave his approval for it’s publication. We hope that this biography will be appreciated by his many friends, well-wishers and disciples as well those seeking to know more about his life of service to his gurus.

namaḥ oṁ viṣṇu-pādaya kṛṣṇa-kṛpā śrī mūrtaye
śrīmate bhakti gaurava narasiṅgheti nāmine

“I offer my pranamas to Oṁ Viṣṇupāda Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Gaurava Narasiṅgha Mahārāja who is the personification of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s mercy.”

namo ācārya-siṁhāya gaura-dayā-svarūpine
su-siddhānta-prakāśāya ku-darśana-vināśine

“I offer my praṇāmas to that lion-like ācārya who is the personification of Śrī Caitanya’s mercy; I offer respects to he who manifests the true Vaiṣṇava siddhānta and eliminates all types of false philosophies.”

This biography is based upon a series of interviews given by Śrīla Jagat-guru Swami Bhakti Gaurava Narasiṅgha Mahārāja between 2013 and 2019, as well as interviews with his godbrothers, godsisters, disciples and friends.

In March 2014, Śrīla Narasiṅgha Mahārāja had the idea of writing an autobiography as a method of preaching and began corresponding and sending drafts to a content creator in New Jersey. After a month however, he was dissatisfied with the direction in which the work was going and decided to drop the idea altogether. Two months later, I brought up the idea again to him and volunteered to write it myself based upon recorded interviews with him. Śrīla Narasiṅgha Mahārāja felt much more comfortable with this proposal and thus I began writing a framework for the biography and started to interview him whenever there was time and he had the inspiration. Simultaneously, I also interviewed those devotees who were close to him for many years to fill the gaps in his timeline.

The first and second chapters of this biography were primarily written by Śrīla Narasiṅgha Mahārāja himself, with some added segments from direct interviews with him. In this way, we were able to understand the specific tone that he wanted throughout the entire book. We also consulted with him in regards to how specific portions and certain people that he met during his journey should be dealt with in writing. Thus, he gave very specific instructions on how this biography should be presented.

After his departure from this world in January 2020, I began compiling a list of godbrothers and godsisters that he had served with and consequently we contacted and interviewed them.

Śrīla Śrīdhara Deva Gosvāmī once advised that one should tread with caution when writing about the life of the spiritual master and not place too much emphasis on the relative side (apekṣika-sthiti) of the guru and his occasional pastimes (naimittika-līlā) – especially prior to his meeting his spiritual master. By stressing his so-called ‘mundane side’ one presents him to the public as an ordinary jīva and the disciple becomes guilty of guruṣu nara-matiḥ (considering the guru to be an ordinary man). Thus, although Śrīla Narasiṅgha Mahārāja’s early years are full of fascinating adventures, we have tried to narrate only those related to his spiritual journey which ultimately led him to the lotus feet of Śrīla Prabhupāda. At the same time however, Śrīla Narasiṅgha Mahārāja wanted his biography to be readable and relatable to older devotees and inspiring for new aspirants. Unlike some biographies that have been embellished with half-truths and even fictitious events, Śrīla Mahārāja’s life was so colourful and adventurous that there is no need to fabricate stories for cheap thrills.

Some persons may ask why we have referred to Narasiṅgha Mahārāja as ‘Mahārāja’ or as ‘Narasiṅgha Mahārāja’ throughout the biography, rather than his birth-name (at the beginning of his life) and as Jagat-guru Dāsa/Swami later in the narrative. There are two reasons for this – firstly, because there are so many names used in the text that we do not want to confuse readers who are not familiar with all these persons and with Sanskrit names. Secondly, and more importantly in relation to Mahārāja’s life prior to initiation, we have not referred to him by his civilian name out of respect for his position as our guru. In 1981, when approached for advice by one gentleman who was writing a biography of Śrīla Prabhupāda, Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja told him that he should not refer to him merely as ‘Abhaya’ before initiation, as this would drag him down to a mundane level. One should always show proper regard for one’s spiritual master. This is the standard procedure in biographies of personalities such as Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura.

We would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to our godbrother Kalki Dāsa who enthusiastically took on the service of contacting and interviewing numerous devotees who knew and served with Śrīla Narasiṅgha Mahārāja. We would also like to thank all those devotees who took the time to answer our questions, write their memories of Śrīla Narasiṅgha Mahārāja, and send old photos for his biography.

We also offer our obeisance and thanks to Śrīla Narasiṅgha Mahārāja’s dear godbrother, Śrīpāda Bhakti Kiśora Araṇya Mahārāja for his thoughtful suggestions in presenting this work.

We will be posting each chapter of this biography on our website as they are completed.

Narasiṅgha-pāda-sevaka
Swami B.V. Giri