02 September 2016, Malaysia
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Today is a very auspicious day, the appearance day of nitya-lila-pravista-om-visnupad-asttotara-sata Shri Shrimad Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja, who is the prominent disciple of nitya-lila-pravista-om-visnupad-asttotara-sata Shri Shrimad Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja. Shrila Gour Govinda Maharaja took shelter in the lotus feet of Shrila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja. And Swami Maharaja took shelter in the lotus feet of nitya-lila-pravista-om-visnupad-asttotara-sata Shri Shrimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada.
Shrila Bhakti Rakshak Shridhar Goswami Maharaja composed this verse:
caranasrita-renu-dharas tam aham
pranamami sada prabhupada-padam
(Shri Shri Prabhupada-padma Stavakah)
How powerful is the dust of the lotus feet of the high-class exalted vaihsnavas! Those who took shelter in the lotus feet of Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada are not ordinary persons. They are very powerful and this is due to the association with a high-class exalted maha-purusha. Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada, then Bhaktivendanta Swami Maharaja, and then Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja.
So I want to speak a little about Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja, his life history, teaching and contribution. Just once I got an opportunity to take darshan of his lotus feet and to receive mercy from him. I remember that in 1993 or 1994 Gurudev went to Jagannatha Puri for two weeks and he stayed in a house on the beach. At that time, Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja came and met with him. They discussed very nice, beautiful philosophy about Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His dhama.
I remember, Shrila Gour Govinda Maharaja was such an exalted vaishnava. I heard about his life history from his disciples. They are very humble. There is no need to ask the tree, “Who are you?”, because when it gives its fruits, you will understand what kind of tree it is. In the same way, Guru is measured by his disciples. A bonafide guru means bonafide disciples. This is the process.
Shrila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja was an exalted rasika-vaishnava. Gurudev Shrila Narayana Goswami Maharaja, many times glorified Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja. If you read Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja’s books and Gurudev Narayana Maharaja’s books, you can find the same mood is there. Gurudev told, “My mood and the mood of Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja is the same”. These are Gurudev’s own words.
Once, on the disappearance or appearance day of Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja, Gurudev gave a lecture about him. Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja had the highest mood of our guru-parampara. And he spoke very boldly, he chastised his disciples. When he was giving classes, he used to take a stick and beat his disciples. He called them, “Hey, stupid nonsense! Rascals!” – this is his love and affection.
At the beginning, Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja was in household life. He had wife and children and He was a school teacher in his village. Then he left his house. He was inquiring about Guru. One night, he was sleeping in the temple of the demigoddess Durga, who told him in his dream, “Listen, I am the supreme controller of this material world. No one can escape from my jail. But you are a devotee of Lord Krishna. You are Vishnu bhakta… So I am now giving permission to you. You can go out of my jail.”
Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja visited some pilgrimage places in India, searching for sadhus and gurus. He was a very learned scholar – He knew the Vedas, Puranas, Upanishads, Bhagavad-gita, everything. Vast knowledge. Finally he went to Vrindavana, but before that he went to Mathura in our Keshavji Gaudiya Math. At that time, Gurudev Shrila Narayana Maharaja was not there. Maybe he left somewhere for preaching. Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja came to our Keshavji Gaudiya Math, took darshan of our Thakurji (vigraha darshan) and then he proceeded to Vrindavana. In Vrindavana there are many different types of sadhus: karmi, jñani, etc. He went to Krishna Balarama temple, then ISKCON temple and then he met Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja. Once he saw Swami Maharaja, he completely surrendered to his lotus feet. And Swami Maharaja accepted him as his disciple. After a few months, Swami Maharaja gave him sannyasa, because he was a very learned scholar and qualified person. I heard some ISKCON brothers complained about him, “Oh, he’s a new comer. Why give him sannyasa?”. Then Swami Maharaja told, “This is my choice to give him sannyasa or not” and he chastised his senior disciples.
Swami Maharaja told Gour Govinda Maharaja, “You have to translate all my books, especially in oriya language.” He told, ”Go and preach in Orissa.” Then Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja went to Bhubaneswar. He was alone. Swami Maharaja gave him blessings and told him, “One day your temple will be the best temple in the world” – this is called guru-vakhya. What does it mean to be a disciple? It means to have faith in the instruction of your Guru. Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja wrote these things. Swami Maharaja told him, “One day I will come to your temple.” At that time that place was full of jungles and snakes and only dacoits lived there. But he cleaned that place and established a small temple. He did everything for Thakurji seva. His Thakurji’s name is Gopal Jiu. He was doing everything himself because he has no servant. But he had faith in the instruction of his Guru. Then once, Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja also came and stayed with him. If you now go to Orissa, you will see a very beautiful temple there. Maybe more than 400 devotees live there.
Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja preached all over the world the message of his Guru. A disciple is the one who preaches message of our previous Acaryas. You should learn shastra, and then preach everywhere.
Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja was always explaining, “Everybody should follow the rules and regulations of the varnashrama-dharma.” Because our scriptures, Vedic culture explains, “If you do not follow the rules and regulations of the varnashrama-dharma you cannot attain shuddha-bhakti.” He used to say: “Cats, dogs, hogs do not follow the rules and regulations. But you are human beings, you have to follow varnashrama-dharma.”
If you want to enter into shuddha-bhakti, you must listen the lectures of Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja – very difficult lectures about varnashrama-dharma. Simultaneously, he spoke very nice beautiful sweet rasa-katha. All his books are about Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Why Mahaprabhu appeared in the Kali Yuga? Krishna has come in this Kali Yuga in the form of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He explained these things and gave evidence from shastra. He used to directly indicate to somebody’s faults telling, ‘Oh, this is your fault…’ Some people used to put a peacock feather on the head of Mahaprabhu because they thought Mahaprabhu is Krishna so He should wear a peacock feather. But Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja told, “No, this is a disturbance for the mood of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.” Krishna has come in this Kali Yuga in the form of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. But what is the mood of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu? Bhakta-bhava – the mood of devotee. Krishna has come in this Kali Yuga and He took Shrimati Radhika’s mood and complexion. It is explained very clearly:
anarpita-carim cirat karunayavatirnah kalau
samarpayitum unnatojjvala-rasam sva-bhakti-sriyam
sada hrdaya-kandare sphuratu vah saci-nandanah
(Sri Chaitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 1.4)
[May the Supreme Lord who is known as the son of Shrimati 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?]
So, Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja preached all over the world. He was telling the highest hari-katha of Vrindavana when he entered his eternal pastimes, nitya-lila. He was a great vaishnava. Those who took darshan of Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja are very successful. You have to take darshan with your transcendental eyes, not material. You have to take darshan with your ears, listening to hari-katha.
Why am I saying this? Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja met with Gurudev on the beach in the house and they discussed very nice hari-katha. He asked very nice and beautiful questions to Gurudev. So Gurudev many times told, “Nice question – perfect answer.” People don’t know how to question a sadhu. Because if you properly ask the question, then you will get proper answer. Understand? Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja asked Gurudev a lot of questions about Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
I remember a few words… Sanatana Goswami asked to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, “Ke ami – Who am I?”. Sanatana Goswamipad knows the answer. In Krishna-lila he is Lavanga Manjari. But why did he ask this to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu? This is the teaching for others, loka-siksha. Sanatana Goswami was a learned person, he knew all Vedas, Puranas but he very humbly asked Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, “Oh, you also tell me about Krishna-tattva, prema-tattva, bhakti-tattva, rasa-tattva, everything.” This is his humility, dainya. In the same way, Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja was very humble. He knows all tattva because he is uttama mukta mahapurusa. He knows everything. But he very humbly asked Gurudev Shrila Narayana Goswami Maharaja about Navadwipa Dhama. He asked, “Why Navadwipa Dhama is higher than Jagannatha Puri and Godavari?”
Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu manifested His topmost lila in South India on the bank of Godavari River. So why this place is not higher than Navadwipa Dhama? And another thing, Lord Chaitanya Mahraprabhu manifested His topmost lila in Jagannatha Puri. Why Navadwipa Dhama is higher than other dhamas? You must ask this question. Many questions he asked and Gurudev very nicely explained him, like Rupa Goswami and Sanatana Goswami, when they met together and discussed different shlokas. In the same way, when Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja met with Gurudev Shrila Narayana Goswami Maharaja, they discussed this philosophy, tattwa. Gurudev told that Navadwipa Dhama is non different from Vrindavana Dhama. Our scriptures explain these things… Navadvipa Dhama has many names – Nava-Vrindavana, Gupta-Vrindavana, hidden Vrindavana. But Jagannatha Puri is actually a part of Dwarka. So how possible to equal Navadvipa Dhama to Jagannatha Puri?
And Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Nimai, He performed all His sweet lila in Navadwipa Dhama. Our scriptures explain:
aradhitam nava-vanam vraja-kananam te
naradhitam nava-vanam vraja eva dure
aradhito dvija-suto vraja-nagaras te
naradhito dvija-suto na taveha krsnah
(Navadvipa Satakam, verse 78)
Without the mercy of Navadwipa Dhama, no one can attain Vrindavana Dhama. One who worships Sacinandana Gaurahari can very easily attain Krishna, the beloved of the gopis.
So today is the appearance day of Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja. I pay my obeisances onto his lotus feet. Maybe one day I will understand his heart and will do bhajana and sadhana. Gaura Premanande! Hari Haribol! Jay Jay Shri Radhe! Shrila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja ki jai! Jay Jay Shri Radhe!
Transcriber: Sanatan Das (USA)
Editors: Divya Premamayi Dasi (Slovakia) and Acyuta Priya Devi Dasi (Brazil)