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Srila Gour Govinda Svami Appearance

Today is very sacred as it is the appearance day of nitya-lila-pravishta om vishnupada ashtottara-shata Sri Srimad Gour Govinda Svami Maharaja, who is the prominent disciple of nitya-lila-pravishta om vishnupada ashtottara-shata Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja. Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja took shelter under the lotus feet of Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja, and Svami Maharaja took shelter under the lotus feet of his Guru, nitya-lila-pravishta om vishnupada ashtottara-shata Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada.

Srila Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhara Gosvami Maharaja composed this verse in glorification of his spiritual master:




praṇamāmi sadā prabhupāda-padam

Sri Sri Prabhupada-padma-stavaka

[He is the dearmost intimate follower of the Divine Daughter of Sri Vrishabhanu, and I know myself as the most fortunate by taking the dust of his holy feet upon my head. I make my obeisance unto his invincible, wondrously purifying lotus feet - perpetually do I bow to the brilliance emanating from the toenails of the holy feet of my Divine Master.]

How powerful is the dust from the lotus feet of high-class exalted Vaishnavas! Those who have taken shelter at the lotus feet of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada are not ordinary personalities. Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja became very powerful by the association of a high-class exalted mahapurusha like Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada, then, with Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja’s association, Srila Gour Govinda Svami Maharaja excelled greatly in his missions.

Today, I want to glorify Gour Govinda Svami Maharaja’s life history, teachings and contributions. I only once got the opportunity to take darshana of his lotus feet and receive mercy from him. I recall in 1993 or 1994, Gurudeva went to Jagannatha Puri for two weeks and stayed in a house on the beach. During his stay, Gour Govinda Svami Maharaja came to meet with him and they nicely discussed the very beautiful philosophies of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His dhama.

Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja was such an exalted Vaishnava, I have heard stories of his glorious life history being told from some of his disciples, who are all very humble. There is no need to ask a tree, “Who are you?” When a tree’s fruits manifest, you will understand what kind of tree it is. In the same way, a guru is measured by his disciples; a bona fide guru generates bona fide disciples, this is the process.

Srila Gour Govinda Svami Maharaja was an exalted rasika-vaishnava and Gurudeva, Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja, glorified him many times. If you ever read Srila Gour Govinda Svami Maharaja’s books and Srila Narayana Maharaja’s books, you will find an identical mood. In his own words, Gurudeva would say, “My mood and that of Gour Govinda Svami Maharaja, is the same.”

Once, on the disappearance or appearance day of Gour Govinda Svami Maharaja, Gurudeva gave a lecture on his qualities. Gurudeva mentioned how Gour Govinda Svami Maharaja had the highest mood of our guru-parampara and always spoke very boldly, especially when he chastised his disciples. As he would give his classes, often he would take his stick and hit or tap devotees, and as a form of loving chastisement, he would mercifully call his disciples “Hey, stupid nonsense rascals!” This is the grandeur of his love and affection.

Meeting With Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja

In the earlier years of his life, Gour Govinda Svami Maharaja was a householder, he had a wife, children and was a school teacher in his village. He then decided to abandon his home and begin a pilgrimage to search for his Guru. One night, as he was sleeping in the temple of the demigoddess Durga, she appeared before him in a dream and instructed, “Listen, I am the supreme controller of this material world. No one can escape my jail, however, you are a devotee of Lord Krishna. You are a Vishnu bhakta and I am now permitting you to be free from my jail.”

Searching for sadhus or guru, Gour Govinda Svami Maharaja visited some pilgrimage places in India. He was a very learned scholar and retained extensive knowledge of the Vedas, Puranas, Upanishads and Bhagavad-gita, to name but a few. Finally, his travels led him to Vrindavana. Prior to this, he went to Mathura and visited our Sri Keshavaji Gaudiya Matha. At that time, Gurudeva, Srila Narayana Maharaja was not around, perhaps he was somewhere on his preaching mission. Hence, Gour Govinda Svami Maharaja came to our Sri Keshavaji Gaudiya Matha, only took darshana of our Thakuraji and proceeded to Vrindavana. While in Vrindavana, one will encounter many different types of sadhuskarmi (those who pursue the path of karma), jnani (those who pursue the path of knowledge directed towards impersonal liberation), etc.

Upon his arrival, he went to Krishna-Balarama temple. There, he first met Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja. Once he saw Svami Maharaja, he completely surrendered to his lotus feet and Svami Maharaja accepted him as his disciple. Since he was such a qualified and learned scholar, after only several months, Svami Maharaja gave him sannyasa. I heard some ISKCON devotees complain about him, “Oh, he’s a newcomer. Why give him sannyasa?” Svami Maharaja very firmly and mercifully replied, “It is my choice whether to give him sannyasa or not.” In this manner, he chastised his senior disciples.

Having Faith in Guru Vakya

Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja told Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja, “You have to translate all of my books, especially in Oriya language.” He further instructed, ”Go and preach in Orissa.” Following his Guru’s orders, Gour Govinda Svami Maharaja travelled alone to Bhuvaneshvara. All he had was Svami Maharaja’s blessings, who told him, “One day, your temple will be the best temple in the world,” – this is called guru-vakya (the words of the Guru). What does it mean to be a disciple? It means to have faith in the instruction of your Guru. Gour Govinda Svami Maharaja elaborated on these topics in his granthas. Svami Maharaja told him, “One day, I will come to your temple.”

When Gour Govinda Svami Maharaja first arrived, that place was literally a jungle, where only many snakes and dacoits resided. Through great efforts, he cleared the area and established a small temple there. Initially, he performed all of the sevas (rendered services) for Thakuraji, Gopala Jiu, all by himself as he did not have any disciples. Yet, he had firm faith in the instruction of his Guru. On one occasion, Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja, as promised, went and stayed with him at his temple. Currently, if you ever visit Orissa, you will see this very beautiful temple is amongst the most prominent in the world, possibly more than 400 devotees live there at one time!

Gour Govinda Svami Maharaja preached all over the world and spread the loving messages of his Guru. You see, a bona fide disciple is the one who preaches the message of our previous acharya. You should learn shastras and then preach everywhere. Srila Gour Govinda Svami Maharaja would always explain, “Everyone must follow the rules and regulations of the varnashrama-dharma.” Vedic culture and shastras both strongly emphasise - if you do not follow the rules and regulations of the varnashrama-dharma you cannot attain shuddha-bhakti.” He would often use these eye-opening words, “Cats, dogs and hogs do not follow the rules and regulations. However, you are human beings, you have to follow varnashrama-dharma.”

If you want to enter shuddha-bhakti, you must listen to the very beautiful lectures of Gour Govinda Svami Maharaja on varnashrama-dharma. Additionally, he spoke such beautiful sweet and deep rasa-katha. All of his books are about Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Why did Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appear in this Kali-yuga? Srimati Radharani and Sri Krishna have appeared in this Kali-yuga in the combined and most merciful form of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Gour Govinda Svami Maharaja explained all of these things and nicely provided evidence from shastra.

Preaching the Correct Conception of Mahaprabhu’s Mood

At times, he would directly indicate someone’s faults by saying, “Oh, this is your fault…’ For example, some people used to put a peacock feather on the head of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. They decided, since Mahaprabhu is also Krishna, He should wear a peacock feather. Nevertheless, Gour Govinda Svami Maharaja mercifully instructed them, “No, this is a disturbance in the mood of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.” Krishna has appeared in this Kali-yuga in the form of Gauranga; still, what is the mood of Gauranga? Bhakta-bhava — the mood of a devotee. In this specific Kali-yuga, Krishna has manifested with Srimati Radhika’s mood and complexion. This is very clearly explained in this shloka:

anarpita-carīṁ cirāt karuṇayāvatīrṇaḥ kalau

samarpayitum unnatojjvala-rasāṁ sva-bhakti-śriyam

hariḥ puraṭa-sundara-dyuti-kadamba-sandīpitaḥ

sadā hṛdaya-kandare sphuratu vaḥ śacī-nandanaḥ

Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita (Adi-lila, 1.4)

[May the Supreme Lord who is known as the son of Srimati Saci-devi (Sacinandana), be transcendentally situated in the innermost chambers of your heart. Resplendent with the radiance of molten gold, He has appeared in the Age of Kali by His causeless mercy to bestow what no incarnation has ever offered before: the most sublime and radiant mellow of devotional service, the mellow of conjugal love.]

Accordingly, Gour Govinda Svami Maharaja was a great Vaishnava and preached his high-level nectarean vrindavana-kathas all over the world before entering his nitya-lila (eternal pastimes). Those greatly fortunate jivas who took darshana of Gour Govinda Svami Maharaja are now very successful in their spiritual endeavours. Now that this great personality has left this material world, how can one take his darshana or have his association? Darshana is taken with your ears, by listening to his hari-katha. In order for a devotee to really take darshana, it must be done with your transcendental senses, not material ones. You have to take darshana with your ears by listening to hari-katha.

Gour Govinda Maharajaji’s Meeting with Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja

To elaborate, we will have to return to the earlier story of Gour Govinda Svami Maharaja’s meeting with Gurudeva in a beach house, discussing such pleasant hari-kathas together. There, he asked deep and beautiful questions of Gurudeva and many times, Gurudeva would reply, “A perfect question deserves a perfect answer.” Sadly, some people do not know how to properly ask a sadhu a question. If you ask the question properly, then you will be answered properly. Do you understand this simple philosophy? During their moments together, Gour Govinda Svami Maharaja would ask Gurudeva many questions regarding Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

I recall some of their conversations. In one, they discussed the pastime of Sanatana Gosvami asking Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, “Ke ami – Who am I?” Sanatana Gosvamipada already knew the answer, as in krishna-lila he is none other than Srimati Radhika’s nearest and dearest, Lavanga Manjari. Considering this, why did Sanatana ask this to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu? Solely for loka-shiksha (teaching for others). Sanatana Gosvami was an incredibly learned person, he knew all of the Vedas and Puranas, yet, he very humbly asked Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, “O, tell me about krishna-tattva (the truths related to Krishna), prema-tattva (the truths related to divine love), bhakti-tattva (the truths related to devotional service), rasa-tattva (the truths related to mellows), everything.” This was his dainya (humility).

Similarly, Gour Govinda Svami Maharaja was very humble, he already knew all tattvas (fundamental truths) as he is an uttama mukta-mahapurusha (topmost liberated great personality). Despite him already knowing everything, he very humbly inquired about Navadvipa-dhama from Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja. When they met, he asked, “Why is Navadvipa-dhama higher than Jagannatha Puri and Godavari?” Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu manifested His topmost lila in South India, on the bank of the Godavari River. Why is this place not higher than Navadvipa-dhama? Also, Lord Chaitanya Mahraprabhu manifested another great lila in Jagannatha Puri. Why is Navadvipa-dhama higher than other dhamas?

You must ask these questions. Gour Govinda Svami Maharaja inquired on many of these topics through many of the questions he perfectly presented to Gurudeva, who in response, very deeply explained these topics. As like Rupa and Sanatana Gosvamis, when they met, they wonderfully discussed many different shlokas and tattvas. Comparably, when Gour Govinda Svami Maharaja met with Gurudeva, Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja, they discussed many philosophies.

Gurudeva would always say, “Navadvipa-dhama is non-different from Vrindavana-dhama.”

Our scriptures also clarify this notion. Navadvipa-dhama is known by many names— Nava-Vrindavana (new Vrindavana) and Gupta-Vrindavana (hidden Vrindavana) are just a few, and Jagannatha Puri is actually part of Dvaraka. Knowing this—how can one possibly equate Navadvipa-dhama to Jagannatha Puri? In His youthful pastimes, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu as Nimai, performed all of His sweet lilas in Navadvipa-dhama. Our scriptures explain:

ārādhitam nava-vanam vraja-kānanam te

nārādhitam nava-vanaṁ vraja eva dūre

ārādhito dvija-suto vraja-nāgaras te

nārādhito dvija-suto na taveha kṛṣṇaḥ

Sri Navadvipa-shataka (78)

[If you worship the nine islands of Navadvipa, you are actually worshipping Vrindavana and can easily gain entrance into that confidential place. If you don't worship and take shelter of Navadvipa-dhama, Vrindavana will be very far away from you. If someone will worship dvija-suta (Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu), the son of the brahmana Jagannatha Mishra, that person will attain vraja-nagara Sri Krishna in Vrindavana. If one worships Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who is actually Krishna Himself, in Navadvipa, one is performing complete worship of Krishna. Worshipping Sacinandana Gaurahari in Navadvipa is as good as worshipping Krishna in Vrindavana. If one does not worship dvija-suta Gaurahari, Lord Krishna will be very far away.]

One must always remember, without the mercy of Navadvipa-dhama, no one can attain Vrindavana-dhama. One who worships Sacinandana Gaurahari can very easily attain Krishna, the beloved of the gopis.

Since today is the incredibly auspicious appearance day of Gour Govinda Svami Maharaja, I pay my unlimited obeisances unto his lotus feet and pray that one day I will understand his heart and perform bhajana and sadhana.

Gaura Premanande! Hari Hari Bol!

Srila Gour Govinda Svami Maharaja ki jaya!

Jaya Jaya Sri Radhe!


Transcriber: Sanatana dasa (USA) Editor: Sanatana dasa (USA) Integrity check: Divya-premamayi dasi (Slovakia) Proofreader: Chandrika dasi (UK) Image: Navina-krishna dasa (Holland)

Date: 2 September 2016 Location: Malaysia

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