I offer my heartfelt dandavat pranama at the lotus feet of my gurupada-padma, om visnu-pada astottara-sata Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja, and to my siksa-guru, nitya-lila pravista om visnupada astottara-sata Sri Srimad Gaura Govinda Maharaja. Today is the subha avirbhava tithi of Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja. This is a very auspicious day because on this day one very near and dear associate of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appeared in this world.
Krsna has no birth and no death: "janma karma ca me divyam evam yo vetti tattvatah" and "saksad-dharitvena samasta sastrair uktas tatha bhavyata eva sadbhih." All sastras give the conclusion that Sri Guru has all the qualities of Hari—no birth, no death. "Kintu prabhor yah priya eva tasya, vande guroh sri caranaravindam." The Vaisnava appears in this world to the eyes of the conditioned souls and he disappears from their eyes but he does not come or go. He is always present. "…iti bakabhid vartmapa-gane kuru tvam phutkaran avati sa yatha tvam mana itah." Sri Raghunatha dasa says, "O my dear mind, I am attacked by so many bad qualities. What should I do? Oh, just call out to the guardians of the path of raganuga bhakti and they will come and save you." Sriman Mahaprabhu’s powerful devotees are the guardians of the path of raganuga bhakti. If anyone takes shelter of them and prays to them, they will at once come and save that person.
So a Vaisnava has no appearance or disappearance actually but:
duhkha-madhye kona duhkha haya gurutara?’Mahaprabhu asked Sri Raya Ramananda, "Of all types of distress, which is the most significant, highest distress?" Raya Ramananda said, "I don't know any distress." Why? Anyone who is following the path of uttama bhakti and who is surrendered to the lotus feet of the Lord does not know the meaning of this word distress. "Atma-nivedana, tuwa pade kori, hoinu parama sukhi, duhkha dure gelo, cinta na rohilo, caudike ananda dekhi." Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja would sing this kirtana all the time. "O my Lord, since that moment I surrendered my heart at Your lotus feet, I became happy. All my sufferings and sorrows have gone far away and everywhere I look I see only ananda—caudike ananda dekhi.
‘krsna-bhakta-viraha vina duhkha nahi dekhi para’
So what is distress? Sri Raya Ramananda said, "I don't know any distress except one: "krsna bhakta viraha duhkha". The distress of separation from pure devotees. Who can feel separation? One who has met the pure devotee can feel separation. Without sambandha, without relation, how can you feel separation? Also that person who has heard from his guru varga can feel separation. Why? One who has attachment coming from hearing, "sravana jata rati", can feel separation although he may not have met Srila Rupa Gosvamipada, Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja and others. If one hears from a realized person, then rati can come. Srila Gurudeva gives the example of Rukmini—she never met Krsna, but hearing about Him from Narada Muni, she became so attached, "Oh, I will give up my life, but I will only marry You." And she wrote the letter to Krsna. This is sravana-dasa prema.
I want to speak a few words in glorification of Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja. He was born in a Vaisnava family in Orissa in Jagannatha-pura which is quite close to Jagannatha Puri Dhama. His father's brothers were very famous kirtaniyas. They would go everywhere doing harinama sankirtan. As a very small boy he would go with his uncles from village to village singing kirtans—especially kirtans of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Srila Narottama dasa Thakura. In his childhood he was always reading Srimad Bhagavatam and Caitanya Caritamrta. Before he was 10 he would give Bhagavatam lectures in the village. When he was a little older, not from any desire to be married but only out of responsibility to his family members, he was married—he saw the face of his wife for the first time on the day of the wedding. He was completely detached. Whatever his parents arranged, he was agreeable with. He was just doing his duty. His parents were poor so he had to work while studying at college part time. Even so, in the whole state of Orissa he got the second best results in his degree from the Utkal University. He was very intelligent.
Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja became a school teacher. He taught a variety of classes, such as mathematics, history and Hindi but in every class he would teach his favorite subject, Srimad Bhagavatam. One time a government inspector came to the school and discovered that Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja was telling Hari katha to the students. The government inspector questioned why he wasn't following the academic curriculum. The administration tried to make some problem for him but he was very strong because he knew what was the actual meaning of education. Many years later after he had given up householder life, about 30 of the boys he had taught in his purva asrama met him and became his disciples. This was the result of his strong preaching during his householder life!
When he was forty-five years old, he left home and traveled all over India meeting many sadhus and gurus. At that time he defeated many Mayavadis in debate. While he was in the Himalayas, he thought, "Surely Radharani will be merciful to me and give me the shelter of sad guru in the Holy Dhama of Vrndavana." Therefore he came to Vrndavana. He went everywhere in Vrndavana. He even came to Kesavaji Gaudiya Matha in Mathura where he met our Srila Gurudeva in about 1972. He came to Kesavaji Gaudiya Matha but he went on. Why? He had one determination in his mind. "I have read in Caitanya Bhagavat: 'Prthivite ache yata nagaradi grama/ sarvatra pracara haibe mora nama.' Caitanya Mahaprabhu said that in as many towns and villages as there are in the whole world my name will be preached everywhere. How will it be? I want to discover that person who can teach me this." So he went everywhere. When he came to Vrindavan somehow he got a "Back to Godhead" magazine with a list of many preaching centers all over the world and one Gaudiya Vaisnava sadhu preaching everywhere. In that magazine he saw Western people wearing tilak, sikha, and kanthi mala and he thought, "Perhaps I can find the answer to my question here." So he came to Krsna Balarama Mandir and connected with his eternal gurupada-padma, Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. At once he took shelter of him.
Sripad BV Padmanabha Maharaja: You know, the story of his sannyasa ceremony is very wonderful. Prabhupada had agreed to give him sannyasa but no one knew. At the opening of the Krsna-Balarama Mandira in 1975, Srila Prabhupada was giving sannyasa to Tripurari Maharaja. At the fire yagna there were two asanas, each with a set of cloth and danda. Tripurari Maharaja was sitting on one asana and the other was empty. No one could understand why there were two. Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja was the priest performing the ceremony. When it was time to receive the mantras, he got up from his place and went and sat down on the empty asana. The other sannyasis present expressed surprise, “But Prabhupada, he’s just a new boy.” Srila Prabhupada replied, “He was born a Vaisnava. You are the new boys!”
Sripad Aranya Maharaja: Srila Prabhpada sent him to Orissa right after their first meeting. Some persons had donated a piece of land in the middle of a jungle outside Bhubanesvara. At that time if you wanted to go there by rickshaw, the rickshaw wallas wouldn't take you there because it was only full of snakes, scorpions and dacoits. Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja went to this piece of land in the middle of this dangerous jungle. With his own hands he built a mud and grass hut and he lived there. He thought, "Why did my Gurudeva tell me to make a temple here?" At that time in Bhubanesvara all the activities were going on in the old part of town but now we see in the last 30 years due to town planning that not so much is going on in the old part of town but now that piece of useless jungle is right in the middle of the most high-class area of the new town where all the doctors and lawyers are. Srila Prabhupada knew but Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja was thinking, "Why did he tell me to make a temple here in the middle of nowhere? But anyway my Gurudeva has told me to do and I must obey his order."
Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja would often quote from sastra: "guru ajna na langhiye." The order of the guru is not the subject for your deliberation. You cannot question whether or not to do it or why or anything. You should just follow completely. To illustrate this point Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja would give the example of Jamadagni ordering his son Parasarama to cut off the head of his mother. Jamadagni said, "Your brothers did not obey my order to cut off their mother's head so you cut off their heads and cut off the head of your mother also." At once Parasarama took his ax and killed his brothers and his mother. His father said, "I am so pleased with you. You can take any benediction from me." Parasarama asked, "Bring my mother and brothers back to life." Parasarama's father agreed. Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja would tell this story to illustrate that when the guru gives an order, you should follow without any speculation.
So he was in Bhubanesvara living in a mud hut in the jungle and gradually those students that he preached to when he was a school teacher met with him. They became brahmacaris and also made some huts and lived with him. He began to train them. One college student would come on his bicycle. Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja wanted to go preaching here and there in Bhubanesvara. So, being a sannyasi he would sit on top of the back wheel of the bicycle and his disciple would peddle. He rode him all around Bhubanesvara and Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja preached to the people. Soon more and more people became attracted to him.
One of his godbrothers named Bhagavat dasa, who is now living in Florida, was a brahmacari at that time. He came to live in the mud hut with Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja and he saw how he lived. Other devotees were there also and were observing him. Sripad Padmanabha Maharaja told us that Bhagavat prabhu came to him and said, "I've been living with Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja and he's a sadhu!" Why did he have so much conviction that he was a sadhu? One of the reasons was that over a period of ten years no one ever saw him take rest. Maybe he took rest but no one saw because after everyone had gone to sleep, he was still writing and before everyone was up, he was chanting. So whether he took rest or not no one knew. At that time he would follow caturmasya strictly as Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura had followed. At the end of caturmasya he was only eating a handful of rice from the floor with his hands behind his back. He followed completely and strictly. At that time Bhagavat prabhu was convinced, "This person is a sadhu."
There are many astonishing stories about Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja and there is so much opulence in these stories but I remember once that one disciple of Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja was telling some pastimes and Srila Gurudeva wasn't satisfied. He said, "When you glorify your Gurudeva, you should tell laukika-sad-bandhu-vat sambandha. Why? This is more important because remembering stories of the natural affectionate dealings between guru and Vaisnavas will deepen your own connection with your guru and this will bring suddha sattva visesatma prema suryamsu samyabhak; the transference of all the bhava in his heart will come by the remembrance of his intimate relationships.
In 1977 just prior to the disappearance of Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Srila Prabhupada came to Bhubanesvara. He wanted to see how his disciple was doing in this jungle. The other disciples and sannyasis traveling with Srila Prabhupada were making all arrangements for his tour. Srila Gaura Govinda had arranged for Srila Prabhupada and his party to stay at the Government Guesthouse in the middle of the city. When they arrived at ISKCON Bhubanesvara, they saw a mud hut with a straw roof and a few other straw shelters where the brahmacaris were staying. When Srila Prabhupada had finished inspecting the land they said “Okay, Srila Prabhupada, we should take you to the guesthouse now.” “Guesthouse? I’m not going to any guesthouse. I am staying here with my son Gaura Govinda.” They could not believe it. The bags where already in the city. They sent for Prabhupada’s bag and put it inside the mud hut. The only bathing facility was a bucket behind a hessian screen. Sometimes Srila Prabhupada would call Gaura Govinda Maharaj, lock the door for hours kicking out all other devotees and speak so many confidential topics. No tape recorder was allowed. Prabhupada stayed for 17 days in that hut with Gaura Govinda Maharaja always speaking hari katha.
Shortly after this Srila Prabhupada enacted his disappearance pastimes. The next year Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja came to the parikrama in Mayapur. It was Ekadasi day and kirtana was going on. During the kirtana Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja became unconscious and fell to the ground. The devotees picked him up and brought him back to his room. The devotees could not ascertain what was wrong with him. Sometimes he was speaking but he did not seem to make sense and sometimes he was rolling and he would become unconscious. Many sannyasis and gurus were there. They called a doctor who could not find out what was wrong. By the arrangement of Krsna, Krsna dasa Babaji Maharaja came strolling into ISKCON Mayapur. He was always doing kirtana and had had stickers printed saying “Chant Hare Krsna Maha Mantra" and he would put them everywhere. Srila Prabhupada had told his disciples “You learn kirtana from Sri Krsna dasa Babaji Maharaja.” He was always laughing and singing all the time and spoke very little.
One of the sannyasis saw him and said “Please come. We have a problem with one of our sannyasis.” He brought Krsna dasa Babaji Maharaja to see Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja. Babaji Maharaja looked at him and was touching him and chanting something in his ear and then he began to laugh and said “Oh, don’t worry. He’s in bhava. No problem at all. He became unconscious just because of bhava.” So then the devotees who were there developed some deep respect for him.
Sripad Padmanabha Maharaja: I read an article by Lagudi dasa who was the personal servant of Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja at that time. He wrote an article telling what happened. Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja was in this state of consciousness for a long period of time, maybe about four months. Lagudi prabhu narrated several stories about Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja during that time. He said that his body had become so skinny, weighing about only 80 pounds, because he was practically not even eating. He had no strength in his body so Lagudi prabhu used to carry him to go to the latrine and then bring him back. Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja was in such an incredible state of consciousness. Lagudi prabhu said they were staying in the Long Building. They could hear people as they were coming down the long veranda. As soon as anyone walked by the doorway, Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja would immediately do full dandavat pranama. When another person walked by, immediately again he would do full dandavat pranama although he was in this very weakened condition. Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja was in a very extraordinary state of consciousness. Gradually one day he came out of this state of consciousness. He was looking at his hand and asked Lagudi prabhu, "What is this?" "Maharaja, that's your hand." "This is my hand?" He was completely in another realm.
Sripad Aranya Maharaja: After some time Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja returned to Bhubanesvara. He was very humble. He never let anyone do any seva for him. Even in his old age he was washing his own cloth and living in one room—sleeping, writing, chanting, eating in only one room.
Once some of his godbrothers were living with him and they were all going out preaching. One night when he returned late from preaching there was a little milk left in the pot. Everyone had taken milk but there was a little left. He drank this. Then another devotee came back even later. He saw Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja drinking and he saw that the pot was empty. He said, "You drank all the milk. You didn't leave any for me." This statement was quite unreasonable because the devotee had come back really late but Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja felt so bad about the incident that for the rest of his life he never drank milk. From this incident we can have a little understanding how much he honored his godbrothers. He never wanted to accept any position higher or superior to others or for his personal convenience. He was such an exemplary person.
When he became a sannyasi, he left his home, his wife and seven children. He was 45 years old and his children were still young. After he left, his wife and children were in great difficulty to maintain their lives. Because he had been teaching in a school, he was entitled to receive a pension. The government told his wife, “If your husband will sign a document, you can receive his pension. All he has to do is sign this paper.” One government minister came to him when he was staying in his bhajana kutira and told him that his wife and children from his purva asrama were in great financial difficulty and that they could receive his pension if he would sign for them. Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja answered, “I have no family members.” He was really sannyasi. Sannyasa means social death. He maintained no connection at all with his past life. He refused to sign that paper. Why? Because he was cruel? No, because he had faith in Krsna. “I should not compromise my sannyasa vrata.” He knew that Krsna would take care of everything.
So he went to preach in a village where he organized a big pandal program. One young man from a very wealthy family attended that program. He was very impressed when he heard Gaura Govinda Maharaja’s hari katha. After he asked some of the devotees who knew Gaura Govinda Maharaja, “This sadhu is a great personality. If he was previously in household life, then I want to marry his daughter because if he is so qualified, then his daughter must also be highly qualified.” He found out about Gaura Govinda Maharaja’s family and went to their village and proposed marriage to his eldest daughter. She was married to him and he maintained the whole family very luxuriously. Hari katha is so powerful—it fulfills all material desires, what to speak of all spiritual desires. Govinda Maharaja had many pastimes like this. His character was astonishing.
Now I want to tell something about Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja's Hari-katha. He was always very very inspired. At the time of speaking Hari-katha he would come with his stick and keep it by his asana. When Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja was giving class, everybody would fight to be in front. Why did the devotees want to be in front? They wanted to be within the range of his stick because during his lecture at any time he could pick up his stick and—boom—hit someone on the head. He would ask a question. "Do you know this verse?" "No." "Why not?" Boom! He would hit them with his walking stick. All the devotees would try to be far forward so that at least there would be a chance for getting his mercy.
One time Srila Gurudeva said that Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja was a saktavesa avatara of Abhirama Thakura. Abhirama Thakura was an associate of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He had a whip and anyone he hit with his whip would get Krsna-prema. Srila Gurudeva said that the sakti of Abhirama Thakura came in Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja. Everyone was eager to be beaten by his stick so they could get Krsna-prema.
During every one of his lectures he would burst into song and sing at the top of his voice. On Nityananda Prabhu's Appearance Day just before he left this world, he was singing for hours very loudly. He would take his stick and swing it around his head and jump from his seat during the kirtana. It was amazing. Waves of the madness of Nityananda Prabhu's mercy were washing over everyone during his kirtana. During his lecture he would sing. He would especially sing the songs of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Srila Narottama dasa Thakura. He gave me an order, "Everyday you must sing the kirtanas of Saranagati of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura.” He always put stress on this. Why? You cannot do bhakti unless you have bhakti adhikara. What is bhakti adhikara? Saranagati. He told this to the devotees and sang the songs of Saranagati, explaining each verse and telling a story to illustrate each verse of every song.
However, he knew that most of his disciples had no adhikara in bhakti. Therefore he engaged them in going here and there to collect money to build the temple that Prabhupada had told him to construct in Bhubanesvara. Prabhupada gave him very strict instructions. You have to make three prakosthas for Gaura-Nitai, Krsna-Balarama and Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra, and in another place separate from Them, Radha-Gopinatha. Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja was very determined to fulfill Prabhupada’s instruction. As Western devotees became attracted to him, he would tell them to collect money. Thus gradually he was able to manifest this huge temple.
When he was starting the construction, one very wealthy Indian person came—someone from the Hinduja family. He was very impressed by the hari katha and said to Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja, “You are trying to build a temple here. Tell me how much it will cost. I will pay for everything and at once we will build the whole temple.” Gaura Govinda Maharaja said, “No. My disciples will collect all the money by hard work.”
This was a very ecstatic time and gradually the temple was built. There was a very big temple and big guest house also. But where did Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja stay? In his mud hut that he had built with his own hands twenty years earlier.
I remember that Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja used to love Srila Gurudeva’s books. If any devotees were going to Vrndavana, he would send them to bring all the books of Srila Narayana Maharaja. “If any new book has come out, bring it at once.” At first the disciples were bringing only the English books because they did not know that there were Hindi books. Then he asked them to bring all the Hindi books also. When Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja would get a new book, he would stay up all night till he finished reading the book. When Venu Gita came out, Gaura Ginda Maharaja was so happy. He stayed up all night and read it from cover to cover. The next morning he said, “O my God! This Srila Narayana Maharaja is lifetimes ahead of me. In what life I will become like him I don’t know.” He kept all of Gurudeva’s books in the bookcase right next to his bed.
One time someone asked him, “Which is your favorite dhama? Where do you like to do bhajana?” He said, “Sri Ksetra Puri Dhama, where I have done bhajana my whole life. I like this dhama.” That person asked him, “Why don’t you go to Vrndavana?” Gaura Govinda Maharaja answered, “I will stay here in Sri Kestra Puri. Bhakti Pramoda Puri Maharaja is in Navadvipa, and Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami is there in Vraja Mandala. So there is no need for me to go there.” He was thinking, “There should be one powerful Vaisnava in each dhama. Then everything is okay.” This was his conclusion.
His lectures were very amazing and he created a phenomenon which no one had ever seen. Actually, our Bhakti Sar Maharaja was the person who brought Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja out of India for the first time. At that time Bhagavan was still ruling in Europe and everyone had to take initiation from him, but Bhakti Sar Maharaja thought that there should be some choice. When Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja came to Europe, he told the katha of our Gosvamis. No one had ever heard anything like it before. He was speaking from Bhakti-Rasamrta-Sindhu, Ujjvala Nilamani, Gopala Campu, the books of Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura and many other Gosvami granthas. He spoke with so much affection.
During this tour of Europe, anyone who saw him would realize there and then that this was a real Vaisnava, the likes of which they had never encountered before, making their so-called “guru” look pale. And wherever he went, they would go with him. He would move around from country to country, and so many devotees would follow him. Usually the best devotees in each temple would disappear, and later they would end up in Bhubanesvara. The GBC was freaking out and was putting bans on him to keep him from coming to any of their temples. Still, he would go from country to country. He would fly and lecture in one country. He would take rest and in the morning he would fly to the next country. As soon as he would finish speaking, the devotees would jump into cars and buses and drive like crazy to the next country to get there just on time for the beginning of his next lecture. Again he would take rest, then the next morning fly to the next country.
The devotees followed him all around Europe like this. Why? Because his lectures were so astonishing. Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja would sit down with his notebook and say, "Today I want to tell you about something." I remember once in Paris he said, "I want to tell you about sat-sampradaya.” No one ever heard this word before—sat-sampradaya. What does it mean? The real rupanuga guru-varga. In those days we were all quite ignorant thinking that Prabhupada has a disciple and his disciple has a disciple and this is called parampara. He said, "There is such a thing as sat-sampradaya, which means the eternal transcendental sampradaya. And what is the difference between the sat-sampradaya and asat-sampradaya? The sat-sampradaya has one treasure, one dhana, aprakrta dhana, transcendental wealth. That transcendental wealth is one-pointed service at the lotus feet of Srimati Radhika. That guru who has the treasure of manjari bhava, service at the lotus feet of Radhika, is called guru in the sat-sampradaya. And if that treasure is not in his possession, then he is not in sat-sampradaya. It is called asat-sampradaya." We never heard any katha like that before. Then he would say, "What is that treasure?" And he would begin to sing the songs of Narottama dasa Thakura like "radha krsna prana mora yugala kisora…syama gauri ange dibo candanera gandha camara dhulabo kabe heribo mukha-candra." All were hearing what they never heard before. They thought, "This is wonderful katha!"
He would tell many things. He would speak about sabda brahman because many devotees had a misconception that simply by reading Prabhupada's books they could learn everything. Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja said, "You have to hear directly from the lips of the pure sadhu. Bhakti-sakti is in his sabda brahman. Krsna Himself is sabda brahman. He will come in your heart and clean your heart through the sound vibration coming from the pure sadhu. Then you can get bhakti, otherwise not, impossible." Sometimes for three days he would lecture on verses from Srimad Bhagavatam only about sadhu sanga. He collected every verse from Srimad Bhagavatam and he would tell the verses and explain them one by one.
Sripad Asrama Maharaja once asked him, "Maharaja, what if we hear from tapes." Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja replied, "Tapes are something but not complete. You will have to hear directly." Sripad Asrama Maharaja asked, "But what about you?" Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja replied, "I am hearing from my Gurudeva everyday and what he is telling me I am telling you." This is why the lectures of Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja were so powerful, attractive and revolutionary. Some people would say, “We don't accept him. Why is he so different from Srila Prabhupada?” But he told us, "I am hearing from my Gurudeva every day and what he is telling me, I am telling you." He was so humble about it, very, very humble. He would be like a lion while speaking, and as soon as the lecture finished, he became like a pussy cat, like a lamb, very very soft and shy, keeping his head and eyes down.
When he would start his hari katha, he would give a very long mangalacaranam, glorifying his guru, his guru-varga, all Vaisnavas, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Radha-Krsna. Then he would recite many verses glorifying Srimad-Bhagavatam. He would become transformed and speak as if possessed. Observing him, we can see how the hari katha manifests in the world by the mercy of Krsna and Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
He was always saying, “You will have to associate with sadhus. Sadhu sanga sadhu sanga sarva sastre kaya. Satam pransangam mama virya samvido. Mahat-sevam dvaram ahur vimuktes. Sometimes for three days he would lecture only on Bhagavatam verses about sadhu sanga. He collected every verse from the Bhagavatam. He would recite the verses and explain them one by one.
On special occasions he would look at the audience and see that they were not so qualified, but he could not contain his mood, so he would say, “All of you, you are not qualified, so I am speaking this katha for Radha-Krsna, for the deities. You just sit and listen quietly.” He would speak for three hours in English. After that he would repeat the same lecture in Oriya. He would make all the Oriyas sit through the English lecture and all the Westerners sit through the Oriya lecture. He said, “It does not matter if you cannot understand the language. Just sit with your ears open and pray. You should have so much faith in sabda brahma.” He put so much stress on sabda brahma, transcendental sound. He would say, “This is not available anywhere. It only comes from the lips of a pure devotee.”
One time he went to New Vrndavana in America. He had been wanting to go there for many years because he wanted to tell the katha of Nava Vrndavana, Lalita Madhava of Rupa Gosvami. He said to the devotees, “You are not qualified to hear this. I am only speaking Lalita Madhava for Radha and Krsna. You should just sit and be quiet.” And he told very sweet pastimes manifested in this world by Srila Rupa Gosvamipada in his Lalita Madhava.
One time he was explaining the verse:
anyabhilasita sunyam jnana-karmady-anavrtamHe told us, "Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura said this word anukula is very significant. What is the significance?" At that time I didn't understand anything at all. After many years now something is coming by the grace of Srila Gurudeva. Srila Gaura Govida Maharaja said that uttama bhakti is the service of Krsna but not Krsna at any place, time or under any circumstances. Krsna has 96 heroic moods and among them are dhirodaatta, dhirodatta, dhira-santa, dhira-lalita. One mood is called satha. Srila Rupa Gosvami in Utkalika Vallari describes this heroic mood: satho 'yam naveksyah punar iha maya mana-dhanaya. What is satha? The satha-nayaka is that beloved who is very gentle and very honorable to your face but behind your back makes so many offenses. Another hero is called dhrsta, which means he is very proud, puffed-up, carefree and somewhat callous. Sometimes Krsna is daksina. This means when the hero meets with his beloved, in his mind from time to time he thinks about another girl. This is called daksina. He has love for her completely but he keeps some favorable disposition toward someone else. But another mood is when Krsna is so desperate that He will follow Srimati Radhika like a shadow anywhere She goes. Then He is anukula nayaka—completely absorbed in Radhika, and even the shadow of the thought of any other nayika cannot come in His mind.
anukulyena krsnanu-silanam bhaktir uttama
Sometimes Krsna comes to the kunja of Radhika but Radhika told Rupa Manjari and Rati Manjari to stay outside and make sure Krsna does not come. “Yat-kinkarisu bahusah khalu kaku-vani / nityam parasya purusasya sikhanda-mauleh." At that time Krsna comes and falls at the feet of Rupa and Rati Manjari and begs them, "Oh, please let Me meet with your Svamini."
All the great devotees like Prahlada, Hanuman, Uddhava, the Pandavas, the 4 Kumaras, the 12 mahajanas, the Nava Yogendras can all pray to Krsna but Krsna is praying to the dasis of Radhika. And more than that, at that time when Krsna is praying to them, what are they doing? They are abusing Him using harsh language and making Krsna feel so bad that He prays the earth should open and swallow Him. Krsna begs, "Please let me meet with your Svamini. I'll never make such an offense again for my whole life."
"No, you should wait."
"I've been waiting for a very long time."
Krsna is begging again and again. Tears come in His eyes, but at that time Rupa Manjari and Rati Manjari, seeing His tears, still don't give in to Him because Radharani had told them, "Oh, when Krsna speaks sweet words to you, even He may cry, but you should keep your patience. Don't become soft. Don't give in to Him."
So even if Krsna is crying, they won't allow Him to meet with Radhika. Why? These tears are not anything special. These tears may be false. Even though He may cry, still the thought of another gopi may come in His mind as in His daksina mood. But when Krsna starts to perspire, that means He has forgotten about everyone else and only Radhika is in His heart. At that time Radhika is thinking, "Alright, I should meet with Him. He is really sorry." This feeling in the heart of Radhika comes in the heart of Sri Rupa Manjari because their hearts are connected like two points on a vina. If you pluck the string of a vina, then this note touches both ends. The feeling that comes in the heart of Radhika also comes in the heart of Rupa Manjari. When she sees that Krsna really is repenting—really He thinks of Radhika and no one else, and He is sweating—then Rupa Manjari takes Krsna by the hand to bring Him to meet with Radhika. This mood of Krsna is called anukula nayaka: "anukulyena krsnanu-silanam bhaktir uttama". What is uttama bhakti? We will only serve Krsna who is anukula nayaka, who has completely forgotten about everyone else, who has only Radhika in His heart and not even the shadow of the thought of anyone else is in his heart.
Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja was a very astonishing personality. One year, perhaps 1994, Srila Gurudeva was in Puri and Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja came to meet with him. He came in the afternoon when Srila Gurudeva was resting. It was quite hot. Srila Gurudeva’s servant said, “He is resting now.” He went away and came back in the evening. He was very humble and determined, coming in the mood of a disciple. He asked Srila Gurudeva three questions. (1) What is the svarupa of Jagannatha Puri Dhama? (2) What is the exclusive aim and object for those who are rupanuga? (3) What is the meaning of this verse:
ahus ca te nalina-nabha padaravindamSrila Gurudeva was very happy to hear these questions and he began to speak. He explained that Jagannatha Puri Dhama is one prakash of Dvaraka. Yet Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu came to Puri to do bhajana and by His bhava-netra He saw Vrndavana. Why? Because Sri Caitanya Caritamrta (Madhya 17.55) says:
yogesvarair hrdi vicintyam agadha-bodhaih
vana dekhi’ bhrama haya——ei ‘vrndavana’It was a mistake. By mistake He thought that this was Govardhana and that this was Vrndavana. It is never written in Caitanya Caritamrta that Puri Dhama is Vrndavana. By mistake He thought that it was Vrndavana. Gurudeva said that Puri Dhama is not the original Dvaraka but is the Dvaraka prakash because Jagannatha-deva is Dvarakadhisa. He has the disc and conch in His hands, and Subhadra is next to Him. You can identify the dhama by the parikara vaisistya. But Mahaprabhu has come here to relish separation pastimes, and by His vibhrama He was seeing that this is Vrndavana.
saila dekhi’ mane haya——ei ‘govardhana’
The next question was what is the aim and object of rupanuga Gaudiyas. Srila Gurudeva described tat tad bhava icchamayi and in this bhava-ullasa-rati, the sthayi-bhava of the manjaris. This is the aim of the rupanugas—exclusive service to the lotus feet of Srimati Radhika.
Then he explained “ahus ca te nalina-nabha padaravindam” according to the commentaries of Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, Srila Sanatana Gosvami and others. As Srila Gurudeva was speaking, Sripad Bon Maharaja was there watching from some distance. He told me that he observed all the sattvika bhavas in the body of Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja hearing Gurudeva’s katha. His hairs were standing on end, his body was trembling and tears were coming from his eyes. Bon Maharaja thought, “This sannyasi is no ordinary person.”
Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja was living in Puri, and because the atmosphere of the dhama inspires one to remember Gambhira lila, he would especially tell everyone the pastimes of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in Gambhira. I remember how he would describe Mahaprabhu weeping in the Gambhira and remembering:
kva nanda-kula-candramah kva sikhi-candra-kalankrtihSrila Gaura Govinda Maharaja would sing this verse from Lalita Madhava and weep. He would explain how Sriman Mahaprabhu in Gambhira would embrace Sri Svarupa Damodara and Sri Raya Ramananda and say, “Oh, where is He who appeared like the moon in the dynasty of Nanda Maharaja and He grew up like a full moon? Where is He who wears a peacock feather in His hair? Where is He who played very slow and long drawn out notes on His murali? Oh, where is that Krsna whose complexion is like an indranila jewel? Oh, where is that Krsna who is an expert dancer? O sakhi, I am dying! You should bring Him at once. He is the only medicine to save My life. There is no other cure for My disease. Krsna is the treasure of My heart and He is My best friend. Oh, where is He? O Vidhata, O Creator, I curse you. Why have you taken Krsna away from Me?”
kva mandra-murali-ravah kva nu surendra-nila-dyutih
kva rasa-rasa-tandavi kva sakhi jiva-raksausadhir
nidhir mama suhrttamah kva tava hanta ha dhig vidhih
Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja would tell these verses over and over again. He would say, “I have opened a crying school here in Bhubanesvara. You have come here to learn what? How to collect money? How to eat and sleep? No. You come here only for one thing.” Then he would sing a verse from Caitanya Bhagavat:
bhakti-yoga bhakti-yoga bhakti-yoga dana“Bhakti yoga is a treasure. What is that treasure? You just remember Krsna and weep and weep and weep.” So he said, “I have to come to give you only this thing, not for anything else.” He would tell many many pastimes of Mahaprabhu’s separation. He told us, “You should learn the art of how to cry for Krsna. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself came to show us all of these things by His own example. Try to be a follower of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and learn how to cry for Krsna.” Then he discovered his disappearance pastimes and all were crying.
bhakti-yoga ei krsna smarana krandana
Srila Locana dasa Thakura said: abaddha koruna-sindhu katiya muhan / ghare ghare bule prema-amiyar ban. There was one ocean of mercy but there was a dam holding back the mercy. Nityananda Prabhu came and cut the dam, making a channel so that this mercy could flow to everyone’s door. I think that Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja opened a channel for us. We were all members of ISKCON and we did not know what was proper siddhanta, tattva, what is bhajana, who is Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu or the aim and object of our life. But Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja came.
There was a big wall between ISKCON and Gaudiya Math and Srila Gurudeva. Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja came and broke the wall. Then all devotees went through the hole and came to Gurudeva. Because as soon as Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja left this world, only about four weeks later, for the first time Srila Gurudeva went on tour around the world. Mainly he went to the places where the disciples of Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja were. They were inviting Srila Gurudeva, “Come to Australia. Come to Holland. Come to England. Come to America. Come to France” By the invitations of many of the disciples of Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja, Srila Gurudeva began to go all over the world and his first temples in Australia, in Birmingham, in Malaysia, in Bali were opened either by the disciples of Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja or his friends and followers. They made a very good platform for Srila Gurudeva’s preaching.
Many people had been making problems for Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja. Thus upset his disciples and they all wanted to leave ISKCON. We would say to him, “We don’t need this movement. Let’s make our own movement.” On one or two occasions he answered, “No, we should not leave. This is Prabhupada’s movement. You should be patient. We should only leave when it becomes intolerable.” One disciple asked, “What does it mean ‘when it becomes intolerable’?” Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja said, “When they change the siddhanta. If they will pass a resolution changing the siddhanta, then it will become intolerable.” So this happened. A resolution was passed in 1995: we have all fallen from Goloka-Vrndavana. He told the devotees, “Wait until ’96. Then the Prema Yuga will begin. The Age of Love of Vrndavana will go everywhere.” And in l996 Srila Gurudeva started going everywhere.
In this way we see how Srila Prabhupada, Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja and Srila Gurudeva are all on the same team, all in the same line and together cooperating to bring the nectar and mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, His very rare gift of rupanuga bhajana to the jivas of Kali Yuga.
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