Srila Prabhupada once remarked to his dear disciple, 'Gour Govind, you will take me to Orissa!'
In 1973 HDG Srila Gour Govinda Swami, who was a devotee of the Lord from his birth, renounced family life and became a wandering sadhu known as Gour Gopalananda. He wore saffron cloth and carried with him a copy of the Bhagavad gita, a pen and notebook as he travelled through the sacred sites of Bharat varsa, India, searching out that divine personality who could clearly explain to him the meaning of the Bhagavatam in light of Mahaprabhu's teachings. After visiting many of the pilgrimmage places in northern India where he spoke with a variety of sadhus, yogis and holy men, knowing that his quest had met with no success, he decided to head down to Lord Krsna's own sacred land of Sri Vrndavan dhama, where surely the Lord would fulfill his desires. Upon arriving at Mathura-Vrndavan he visited different asramas, where because of his outward appearance of matted hair, beard and torn saffron gamcha it was usually assumed that he was simply another wandering sadhu, not a vaisnava. During this time he spent four days at Sri Keshavaji Gaudiya Matha in Mathura.
Whilst wandering through Vraja dhama he eventually headed to the Iskcon property at Raman Reti where the Sri Sri Krsna Balarama Temple was still very much under construction. There he was given a copy of Back to Godhead magazine in which he found the teachings what he was looking for - he discovered in that magazine the very eprson he was looking for, the person who could perfectly reveal Bhagavatam, Krsna and Mahaprabhu - and he was also quite struck with amazement to see that westerners had taken to the path of bhakti, that they had shaven heads with sikha, wearing tilak and dhoti. He decided that he must meet the sadhu who was responsible for this most wonderful feat.
He discovered that the founder of this International Society for Krsna Consciousness was staying on the property at that time, so he approached one of these amazing western vaisnavas and asked if he could pay his respects to Srila Prabhupada. Brahmananda Swami took him in to speak with Iskcon's founder-Acarya Sri Srimad A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and instantly Gour Gopalananda fell down in dandavats. As he arose Srila Prabhupada asked him about himself, "Have you taken sannyasa?" Upon hearing Gour Gopalananda's negative response Srila Prabhupada told him, "Then I will give you sannyasa!"
At that very moment Srila Gour Govinda Swami accepted Srila Prabhupada as his eternal spiritual master... Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja later related how he felt, "I immediately knew, "Oh, this is paramatma; what I am looking for now, it is here. Yes, I have gotten now. I have gotten now." You see this is Krsna's arrangement. How we can find our Guru? What is your inside, he'll speak, you see. Only two or three questions he asked. I immediately surrendered!"
From that moment their relationship of sat-sisya, totally surrendered disciple and Sat Guru, bona fide mahabhagavata spiritual master was re-established.
What Srila Prabhupada said about Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja
1. 'Krishna sent him...'
2. 'Two of My Disciples Should Initiate'
Srila Gour Govinda Swami Glorifies Srila Prabhupada
3. at Installation of Srila Prabhupada's Murti in Bhubaneswar
4. 'there is no-one like my Guru'
Srila Prabhupada speaks about his dear disciple Srila Gour Govinda Swami...
1. "KRSNA SENT HIM"
Our most worshippable ISKCON Founder-Acharya
Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada confirms,
"Krishna sent him."
Gopal Krishna: Who, Goura Govinda Swami? He is a very sincere devotee.
Prabhupada: Oh, yes, undoubtedly.
Gopal Krishna: Very sincere.
Prabhupada: KRSNA SENT HIM. In Vrindavan he said "Please give me shelter." I thought that there are so many Indians, they come and go. So when he insisted, [I told him] "All right, you stay."
Hari-sauri: Yeah. He took sannyasa at the opening of the temple. I remember that.
Prabhupada: He's a good boy.
Hari-sauri: He's stuck it out for a long time in Orissa. He’s been there a long time, by himself a lot of the time too.
Prabhupada: Yes. Yes. He's organizing nicely.
Gopal krishna: He’s very sincere. He follows all the regulations very rigidly. He gets up in the morning, ideal example.
Jagadish: He understands the philosophy quite well.
Prabhupada: Oh, yes. And he is educated. He is B.Sc. He knows Hindi also.
(editor’s comment: Perhaps significantly, this is the only time Srila Prabhupada is recorded to have said “Krishna sent him” about any of his individual disciples.
And it is also interesting to note that Srila Prabhupada spoke these words glorifying our Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja in 1975 after many years of being disappointed by his senior disciples, and often expressing so.
And further, this wasn’t simply some word of encouragement for his disciple because Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja wasn’t present at that time to hear him say it.)
2. SRILA PRABHUPADA SAYS, "TWO OF MY DISCIPLES SHOULD INITIATE..."
In his rooms in Vrindavan towards the end of 1977, shortly before Srila Prabhupada departed from this world, the topic of who would give initiations within Iskcon after Srila Prabhupada had left was raised with our beloved founder-Acharya.
Srila Prabhupada himself expressed that he wanted the many senior GBC devotees who were also present in the room at that time should be involved in managing his society, but that he wanted that two of his disciples should themselves accept disciples after his own departure. These two disciples he named as Sri Srimad Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja and HH Sri Radha Govinda Swami Maharaja.
(further notes: As you will be aware, this conversation with Srila Prabhupada has not been revealed before. As we are led to understand, unfortunately after Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance many of the later tapes of conversations with Srila Prabhupada mysteriously vanished - possibly including a tape of the above conversation; some say that more than 40 tapes from the last couple of months went missing. There are also 500 tapes not yet released to the ‘public’ by the Archives. Who knows what's on them.
I should also add here that the original ‘very reliable source’ of this story - a devotee who was present in the room at the time the above conversation took place -apparently says that if this were made public and his name mentioned he would deny it totally.)
... Now Srila Gour Govinda Swami Glorifies his beloved Gurudeva, His Divine Grace Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
3. INSTALLATION OF SRILA PRABHUPADA’S MURTI AT BHUBANESWAR
(from a discourse given by Srila Gour Govinda Swami on the occasion of the installation of Srila Prabhupada's deity at Bhubaneswar on 21 January 1991.)
Today we are going to install the sri vigraha of our beloved spiritual master Sri Srimad A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupadji Maharaj. We have this opportunity, especially today, to glorify our revered and beloved spiritual master Srila Prabhupadji Maharaj, and his nectarean pastimes and preachings.
In Srimad Bhagavatam 9th canto (9.5.15-16) it is said:
‘By hearing His Name the living entity becomes completely cleansed of all material contamination. That Supreme Lord is known as Tirthapada, because tirthas are there at His Lotus Feet. Those who have taken shelter of that Tirthapada Bhagavan, is there anything unattainable on their path? They have everything, because when they have the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is Purnabrahma, completely full, so is there any other thing one has to obtain? One has everything.
‘So such a vaisnava, why he comes here?
Caitanya Caritamrta says "mahanta-svabhava ei tarite pamara, nija kaya nai tabu-yan ta'ra ghara" (mad. 8.39)
This is the nature of a mahajan, he has no business in this material world. He does not belong here; why he comes here? To deliver these most fallen souls, out of mercy, he has no other business here.
Srimad Bhagavatam says: "mahad-vicalanam nrnam, grnam dinacetasam, nihsreyasaya bhagavan-nanyatha kalpate kvacit."(l0.8.4)
“0 Lord those persons who are too much attached to their home and wealth and have forgotten completely the Supreme Lord and their own identity, the mahatmas go to their houses to do real good to them, just to remind them of their own svarup. This is the real benefit, they don't go for any other purpose.”
What is the supreme perfection of human life? To attain Love of Godhead. Who is Godhead? Krsna. To know Him in tattva, that is the supreme perfection, isn't it? He is known as Visaya Vigraha Bhagavan. How can you understand Him? By the mercy of Asraya Vigraha Bhagavan, or acharya. Guru or vaisnava, what do they do? What is their business? Their only business is Hari Kirtan.
So if that guru doesn't do Hari kirtan, if he doesn't speak about the Name, fame, qualities, paraphernalia, nectarean pastimes of Visaya Vigraha Bhagavan, can anybody know or understand them? If that acharya doesn't speak about Grantha avatar, Srimad Bhagavatam, can anybody understand the teachings given there, in tattva? No. The Supreme Lord is there, His Name is there, His mantra is there. They all have descended in this material world, incarnated here. Unless Acharya Avatar Gurudeva does kirtan in the ear of the sisya, disciple, it will never be effective.
So, therefore, although in all Vedic literatures the Divine Names of The Lord, mantras, everything is there, still unless we hear from the lips of that mahanta gurudeva, we can not hear it. So there is absolute necessity of accepting a bona fide acharya. The Names of The Lord, mantra, Bhagavatam, all these are visaya vigraha. We can only understand the real svarup of visaya vigraha by the mercy of acharya, when he does kirtan. Therefore Mahaprabhu has said this thing: "Kirtaniya sada Hari".
Srila Jiva Goswamipad has said in his sandarbhas that in Kali Yuga, although other processes of bhakti are there, still these should be understood by "kirtanaksa bhakti", otherwise you can not understand. Sravanam, kirtanam, Visnu smaranam. In Kali Yuga you can understand only through kirtanaksa bhakti. Unless gurudev does kirtan, you can't understand. This kirtan is, eternal process, nitya kirtan dharma, that is business of asraya vigraha Gurudev.
What is dharma of sisya? Disciple is always humble. Guru does kirtan - disciple hears. Sravanam Kirtanam. Unless you hear how can you do kirtan, what kirtan you'll do? What you have heard only that kirtan you'll do. This is eternal process, Gurudevas kirtan, disciple's humble hearing. This eternal flow is known as srauta dharma, hearing dharma, and this is mercy of the Mahanta Guru.
"So, such a Mahanta Guru is our revered and beloved spiritual master, Sri Srimad A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami. Out of his causeless mercy he came here, and through his mercy we could understand this. So we should glorify him today as we are going to install his sri vigraha in this bhajan kutir. He came here in 1977. He arrived here on 18th January and stayed 17/18 days, in that very humble cottage. He refused to stay in the state guest house arranged for him, he stayed here. There-by he teaches us how to accept the arrangements of Krsna.
"He told me "no, Gour Govind, in that cottage you have erected, that Krsna has arranged. I won't stay in that guest house".
"He stayed here for 17-18 days with no modern amenities, only he told me to bring electricity. He was using a dictaphone for his translation, that was absolute¬ly necessary for him. By his mercy, for the first time it was brought to this area. By his mercy he came, so everything came here, for the first time - water pipe, telephone connection, everything, because all these things would be used for Hari Kirtan, so Krsna sent.
"When he was here all of the time he was doing Hari kirtan, speaking about Krsna, 'Mahaprabhu. Many, many people, thousands and thousands, were coming, taking prasad. During the auspicious occasion of the appearance day of Lord Nityananda, on 2nd February 1977» he layed the foundation stone of this Krsna-Balaram Mandir. He waited for that day to come. He waited, stayed for 17-18 days, otherwise he would "" have gone earlier. He waited for that auspicious day.
Srila Gour Govinda Swami offering arati to Srila Prabhupada after his installation in 1991
"So his bhajan kutir is there. We have kept it because that will always remind us of his staying there and working there, his dictaphone. You can also hear it from here, dictaphone. When all are asleep, he is saying on his dictaphone; at 2 a.ms at 2:30 a.m. you can hear. Still it is being heard, can you hear him? You have deaf ear, so you cannot hear it. Open your ear, hear it, that transcendental sound that will purify your whole body. It is always there, it is eternal always purify¬ing.
In Hari Bhakti Vilas (10. 113 ) Srila Sanatan Goswami has quoted this verse from Padma Puran: "na karma-bandhanam janma, vaisnavanams ca vidyate, visnor anucaratvam hi, moksam ahur manisninah" A vaisnava has no birth, no death no karma bandhana, bondage of karma, because they have completely taken shelter at the Lotus Feet of Krsna. The Lord is eternal. He has no birth or death. Similarly, His dear devotees, those who with pure love have taken shelter of His Lotus Feet have no karma bandhana. Krsna is eternal, He is always everywhere.
Similarly such vaisnavas are always there. Though apparently my revered, beloved spiritual master, the spiritual master of the whole world Sri Srimad A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupadji Maharaj has disappeared, but he actually has not disappeared, he is still present.
"Lord Krsna never leaves Vrndaban, even one step, but when Akrura came by the order of Kamsa "oh, He left Vrndaban and went to Mathura." His Mathura lila is manifested, Dvarka lila manifested, but Vrndaban lila is always there, though apparently it is unmanifested, but it is there. Those who have developed such vision can see how that lila is going on. Can you see? "visaya chariya kabe sudha habe mana, kabe hama herabo sri Vrndaban."
"When will I see Vrndaban? When will that day be mine when my heart will be cleansed of all material contamination, when will I become completely detached from material association or attachment; completely attached to the Lotus Feet of Krsna. By the mercy of such dear devotees as Rupa and Raghunnath and their followers, then I will be able to see. Otherwise it will' not be possible.
"Similarly, the lilas of His pure devotees are eternal. Though apparently it is not manifested, it is there; if you are fortunate you can see it. As I say, still Srila Prabhupada is speaking in his bhajan kutir. You may hear it, how he is speak¬ing in his dictaphone at 2a.m., 2:30 a.m. . He has speaking and he is still speaking, and you can hear how he is present. I never feel his separation, I always feel his presence, how he is teaching me, how he is slapping me, how he is directing me, how he is instructing and guiding me, you understand?
When you give this "jay nitya lila..." like that, it is very painful for me. His nitya lila is going on here.
He has brought down here Krsna-Balaram, Gour-Nitai, Jagannath Baladeva and Subhadra, and he is always at Their Lotus Feet, sitting there. So pray for his mercy, and through his causeless mercy you can also feel his presence.
" I can clearly recall, in 1977 when he was just leaving this place, he was asked when again he will come here and he said "I will come here when the temple will open", and he has kept his word, he has come now.
"When he was here it was jungle. Nobody was coming here, even if you asked the rikshaw wala to come here that time at mid-day, they say "no", they will not go there, what to speak about night, "no, that's a very dangerous place, we won't go there." Nobody was coming here, such a place. But, at that time, some of his leading dis¬ciples objected to open a temple here. He said "no, I will open a temple here. This will be the middle of the city." Now, it is the middle of the city. And he said that this will be one of the best ISKCON temples in the world. So how he had clear vision you can understand.
"So today he is appearing in his bhajan kutir. His vigraha is non-different from him. So you must glorify him, beg his mercy to shower on us, thereby we can understand Krsna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead in tattva and perfect our lives. May he bless us, shower his mercy on us, such pamaras, patitas, such adhamas.
4. THERE IS NO ONE LIKE MY GURU - from a class on Srimad Bhagavatam 2.4.92 Bhubaneswar
"The Gaudiya sampradaya, the parampara of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, is a bona fide Vaisnava sampradaya. One should accept the instructions with a simple heart, which are coming from the acaryas in this parampara as it is, and practice them in one's life. Then you will get the mercy of Sriman Mahaprabhu.
We are not speaking anything pseudo-sampradayist. We should not hear the words of pseudo-sampradayists. When Mahaprabhu ordered, "You become guru and deliver this world," that instruction has come unto my guru, Srila Prabhupada, and my guru gave me this same order. So I will never develop any duplicity or crookedness in executing this order. That means I will never come in murkha-sampradaya or kapatya-sampradaya or phalgu-sampradaya, the schools of fools, hypocrites and pretenders. I will never teach duplicity or crookedness to anybody. Those who are visayis, materialistic persons, are duplicitous, crooked and envious; they come under pseudo-sampradaya. They are selfish persons.
Those who are under the bona fide sampradaya coming from Sriman Gauranga Mahaprabhu, they are so powerful that they kick all such sampradaya. They are always, twenty-four hours, day and night, engaged in loving service to the lotus feet of Radha and Krishna, executing the order of their guru. They never desist from rendering pure service without duplicity (niskapata seva.) An Acarya is natural, not pretending, he is not pretentious. He is not pretending as acarya. He is a natural acarya, not artificial. He is more humble than a blade of grass lying on the street and as tolerant as a tree. He gives respect to one and all, seeing Krsna in everybody and never demands respect for himself.
Our teachings, which are coming through our parampara are true, coming from Mahaprabhu. They are our sadacara, our regulative principle. They are law for all humanity. And this law, this sadacara, has come down to us through parampara. If we disrespect it, if we don't execute in our life, if we add any deliberation, if we twist it, then we will become offenders. We will commit offence by not obeying the orders of guru. Yes, namaparadha. Then we will be far away from the lotus feet of our guru. Guru will never keep us at his lotus feet. If, in order to execute, to obey the order of my guru, it is needed to become very proud, I will never hesitate to become very proud. If it is needed to become an animal, I will never hesitate to become an animal. If it is needed to go to hell for my guru, I will never hesitate to do it. Do you follow me? That is how to execute the order of the guru. That is how to become a true follower of guru.
I will never hesitate to do it. I will never hear from anyone but my guru. Those who are saying something different from this teaching coming through bona fide parampara, coming from Sriman Mahaprabhu - we will never listen to them. If somebody says something different, then like Bhimasena, with my fist, I will crush it. I will destroy it. I will defeat it. I am so proud. With just one speck of dust from the lotus feet of my guru, crores and crores of people of this world will be delivered. You should understand how powerful one little speck of dust of my guru's lotus feet is. There is no such a scholar as my guru. I will never accept anyone else as a scholar. There are no such teachings as those that my guru has imparted, to be found in any human being, or in any demigod, I know it very well. No one else can give such teachings. There is nothing in this world that is as heavy as a tiny speck of dust from the lotus feet of my guru. This is the follower of true parampara. I am following such parampara. This is the teaching; one should understand it very well.
…He (Srila Prabhupada) is empowered! Can't you understand this thing? Why couldn't they (Srila Prabhupada's god brothers) do this thing? Why do they come at this time and do now, when the atmosphere is created, the platform is there, foundations are already laid, some construction is there? Now they are coming. Now you are going there, leaving ISKCON camp. Such foolishness! You are such a fool! Can't you understand this thing? Thereby they are committing such offense. [Srila Prabhupada's god brothers say] He has given only elementary knowledge ABC, nothing higher. You can't understand what he (Srila Prabhupada) has said. When a tiny seed is there, it contains, like the seed of a banyan tree, so tiny, but it contains a great banyan tree inside. You, fool, cannot understand this thing. So intolerable. As a disciple of my Guru Maharaja and as a member of his founded society ISKCON, it is our duty to keep up the prestige. Yes, it is our duty now.