Gour Govinda Swami Carita
by Kalakantha prabhu,
English translation by Jagannath Misra prabhuji
(edited by Govinda G.P. Embleton & Jd.)
Chapter 2, “Vanaprastha sadguru sadhana guruprapti o diksha graham”.
(This chapter is devoted to Gurudeva's acceptance of Vanaprastha, searching for sadguru,and attainment of Guru and acceptance of Diksha)
Countless salutations to your Sri Carana, as I herein describe your pastimes.
I am a wicked person, most fallen, and will not achieve deliverance after millions of births.
karma-nahi-jnana nahi-bhakti-mora nahi
I have no karma, jnana or bhakti - how will I achieve your mercy?
As the sun is not miserly in the distribution of his rays, so let your own immeasurable grace shine on me.
Weeping and weeping, so says this fallen one, “Please bestow your causeless mercy on me”.
Thus, in Cuttack he remained in one place for a few days; Maya soon approached in the dress of an old woman and spoke to him.
(Maya said) “Your insurmountable bondage to this samsara, only you will be able to sever.”
Hearing this, and contemplating on what he had heard, he travelled a great distance in search of the lotus feet of Guru.
Travelling around the Himalayas, in Haridwar and Hrisikesh, he continued his constant search for Guru.
He had darasana of many Munis and Yogis, who delivered nothing but false arguments, never touching on Bhakti.
False logicians can never know Krsna; only those who have Bhakti can know Krsna. These conclusions are the voice of scripture. Saying so, my Guru then gave the following understanding.
Listen Uddhava to my words, I am fond of bhakti - austerity, renunciation and sankha are worthless.
bhakti-bina-kona-karma-phale-nahi dhare (15)
One may endlessly perform yoga, sacrifice and austerity, but any deed that lacks Bhakti bears no fruit.
Once again, with clear logic, Gurudeva would verify the Kaliyuga dharma of Harinama sankirtan as the dharma of all sastras.
Hearing these sastric siddhantas, they (the Munis and Rishis) were often moved to anger and drove him from their ashrams, overwhelmed with indignant pride.
In this manner, Gurudeva would hold debates in different places, but everyone would respond in a similar fashion, as they did not know the siddhanta.
Many Munis, Rishis and Yogis, who had given up their homes, would live in these places, practicing meditation. All of those Yogis were Sadhus, and they maintained kitchens, and would distribute roti and dahl.
Two rotis and two ladles of dhal, per-person, created a queue of jostling Sadhus. Sadhus would eat and leave, at the kitchen, the plate, which would be in continual use. (They had communal kitchen plates.)
Thus, our Guru, who had forsaken his home, lived, for a short time, in these Yogis’ company. One day, as usual, he went to dine in the company of the Yogis, yet, on returning from the kitchen, found that he could not engage in bhajan, as his mind had turned restless.
Weeping and lamenting at the feet of Krsna, he promised never to eat at the free kitchens again. Thus, he moved here and there, sleeping beside and keeping company of, snakes and beasts. In this way some time passed, yet still he had not seen the lotus feet of his Guru.
He reflected on the fact that Vrindavana is Krsna's dear abode; “Surely, I must find my Guru therein. Krsna must of course be merciful to me in Vraj, and by the strength of that mercy, I will achieve the shade of the Guru's feet”.
Thinking thus, he went to Vrindavana-dhama, wherein he stayed, constantly taking Krsna's name, and thereby, he pleased Krsna. He carefully tried to achieve the mercy of Guru.
He would move from one ashram to another on a daily basis - but, as before, he had no peace, due to holding debates.
There is a place, in Vrindavana-dhama, called Ramanareti. Whilst there, he noticed a placard with "Iskcon" engraved thereupon, alongside the name of Srila Prabhhupada, the founder Acarya.
Seeing this, he entered the ashrama and inquired, from various devotees, if he could have darasana of the Acarya, who had been travelling the world, singing of Hari's virtues.
By Krsna's grace, he received the news, that, by some good fortune, Srila Prabhupada was, indeed, present.
Prabhupada's servant was Bhramananada das. Approaching him, in a humble mood, with a blade of grass between his teeth, he said, "Be merciful and arrange a meeting, between me and Srila Prabhupada". Hearing this, the servant replied, “Do not to worry, as Srila Prabhupada is presently resting, after which you can have his darasana.”
Hearing this, he again and again humbly petitioned, and noting his humility, the servant arranged a meeting, saying to Srila Prabhupada, “A sadhu has come desirous of meeting you”.
Srila Prabhupada said, “Call him at once!”, and the servant immediately called him forward.
The servant approached, declaring; "You are very fortunate, for Srila Prabhupada is happily calling you into his presence"
Seeing the Acharya, he offered his eight-limbed prostration, and said why he had come, in a suppliant tone.
Noting him clad in the garb of a mendicant, Srila Prabhupada asked him if he was a vanaprastha or a sannyasi, adding that, “If you are not a sannyasi, then I will give you sannyas”. Hearing this his heart was satisfied.
He thought, " This is my guru, for in our first meeting he knew what was in my mind.” The Guru is a servant of the Paramatma, who appears before us as a representative of the Paramatma.
In this way, the Guru and the disciple became acquainted; I am simply writing the events as I have heard them (from my Guru).
Srila Prabhupada told him to serve Krsna, and to translate all his books. He then gave him a magazine, upon reading which, he attained many siddantas. Very quickly, he translated it into Hindi, and gave it to Srila Prabhupada, who was delighted to read it.
Srila Prabhupada instructed his servants to make all arrangements for him to translate - a room, cloth, ink and paper were given; nothing was lacking.
Firmly accepting Srila Prabhupada as Guru, he remained in the ashram, and gave up travelling. He took much delight in translation work. This bliss is understandable by those who have likewise taken such shelter.
Noting his unwavering faith in Krsna, Srila Prabhupada gave him diksha, and changed his name to Sri Gourgovinda.
This Harinama-diksha took place in Bombay, with Gayatri initiation one month later in Hyderabad; He collected alms, and presented them as Guru-dakshina.
Always acknowledging Srila Prabhupada as a manifestation of the all-knowing Paramatma, he remained fixed in constant seva.
Srila Prabhupada, as a manifestation of the Paramatma, knew of his service attitude, and gave him the following message;
The message was to return to Odissa. Later on, I shall narrate all these events.
Countless obeisances to your feet. Please do not consider my offences.
With all hopes remaining at the lotus feet of my Guru, Kalakanta Das narrates the biography of Gurudeva.
Chapter 3, "Orissa agamana katha - Returning to Orissa"
All glories to Srila Gurudeva and glories to the devotees, as this akincana pays my homage to every one’s feet.
May all of you shower grace on this fallen soul and thus enable me to sing of our Gurudeva’s glories.
The tale of Gurudeva’s life is like a boundless ocean, and bathing therein entitles one to go beyond this material existence.
Folding my hands together, I entreat all the bhaktas to please listen, for by hearing this, one’s body, mind and words are cleansed. In the previous chapters I have portrayed Gurudeva’s virtues, and now, I will tell of his return to Orissa.
Srila Gurudeva is a radhapriya-sakhi, who gathers with the other maidservants of Srimati Radharani in the milana-kunja.
When Radha is upset with Syama, it is the sakhis who break her mana. Similarly, Srila Prabhupada had developed such a mana that he swore never again to visit Orissa.
Gurudeva would repeatedly ask Srila Prabhupada why Iskcon Temples had spread everywhere around the world, and yet there was no scent of the name of Iskcon in Orissa? Prabhupada said nothing.
Generally, whoever made enquires to Srila Prabhupada on whatever subject they wished to know about, they would always be answered in due course.
Gurudeva was wondering why Prabhupada did not respond, but, rather, kept silent.
With all his heart, Gurudeva remained in Vrindavana, serving Srila Prabhupada’s order with firm faith and devotion. One day, a letter came to Gurudeva from Srila Prabhupada, which he opened at once and began to read it with joy.
“I have acquired some land in Bhubaneswar wherein we will make a Temple. Please come to Mayapur”
Reading this, at once he set off for Mayapur, and upon arriving there, after receiving Srila Prabhupada’s darshan, he became ecstatic.
Vijayananda was present at this time (in Mayapura) with his wife Chabi devi, who were both Prabhupada’s bhaktas.
Srila Prabhupada said, “listen Vijayananda, this is my disciple Gour Govinda”.
Earlier I alluded to Srila Prabhupada’s mana, and now, in Mayapur, the origin of his discontent he began to disclose.
sava-dhame-ache-iskcon-utkale-kena-vada ? (20)
Vijayananda then asked Srila Prabhupada the following question, “Why is there an Iskcon centre in every dham except Orissa?”
Then Srila Prabhupada began to unveil his mind, and to speak of his discontentment.
(Srila Prabhupada said) “Utkala-ksetra is Jagannath’s abode, and the import of many sastras declare it as the topmost dhama. It was here that Caitanya Mahaprabhu enacted his antya-lila, and apart from this dhama, nothing else abides in my heart.”
(Srila Prabhupada said) “I have many western disciples both male and female, and they are not permitted to enter the Jagannath Temple. The pandas are ridiculing them, and hearing all this breaks my heart.”
“The western devotees act in accordance with guru, and are engaged in bhajana, having forsaken all their unacceptable tenancies, and have thus become Vaisnavas. Those who participate in His bhajana are dear to Lord Jagannath, so why are they deemed impure? Rather they are now to be judged as venerable.”
“Lord Jagannath is very fond of his devotees and Sri Sukadeva has said this in the Bhagavatam.”
Upon whose tongue the holy name is sung be they dog eaters or candalas they are now worthy of all respect and without delay reap the gain of undergoing pilgrimage and having studied the vedas.(29)
I am attained through bhakti and am very affectionate to the bhaktas. Those who perform bhakti, although born in dog eater and candala families are dear to me.(30)
(translator’s note; verses 29 and 30 are Sanskrit verses from the Bhagavatam)
(Srila Prbhupada said) “If those who follow me are forbidden from entering the Temple, then why should I go to that dhama?”
Hearing this Srila Gurudeva replied; “Srila Prabhupada, you are the friend of the fallen”.
“If you do not show your mercy and come to Orissa how will the people of Orissa be liberated? It is after all the vocation of a Vaisnava to liberate the entire world why then do you neglect Orissa?”.
Smiling Srila Prabhupada then said “listen to a few words of mine Sri Gour Govinda”.
(Srila Prabhupada said) “I want you take me to Orissa as soon as possible. I have some land in Nayapalli village in Bhubaneswar you go and open a Jagannath temple there.”
“There, we will establish a centre for the iswara of bhubaneswara now go and find this place.”
(translator’s note; Bhubaneswareswara is another name for Jagannath)
Srila Gurudeva was jubilant to receive these orders from Srila Prabhupada and left for Bhubanewar, with a certain Bhagavat das in his company.
Coming to Orissa, Gurudeva searched for the land, and upon discovering it, he became very happy.
However, at that time the land was deserted and even during the daytime, robbers would steal away wealth and could also take away one’s life.
Noting these circumstances, Bhagavat das was afraid and expressed his wish to leave that place. He said that it is “very difficult to live here, as this is a place of thieves who will take away our life”.
Hearing this, our Gurudeva said “O bhai (brother), this is simply your offensive judgement”.
“Srila Prabhupada said we are to reside here, so why do you want to leave?”
“If you want to go, then go! However, Srila Prabhupada has said, and therefore I will live here”.
Hearing this, Bhagavat das turned grave and retorted that a neophyte brahmacari should not live alone and if he does so, then maya will destroy him.
(translator’s note; navagata means newly created, novice Etc.)
(Bhagavat das said) “I will not allow you to stay here. My responsibility is to take you away from here”.
In this manner, they did not stay but eventually left that place, and it was with a sorrowful mind that Gurudeva met with Srila Prabhupada.
This sad news (of Gurudeva’s retreat from Bhubaneswar) will be narrated in the following chapter, along with his acceptance of sannyasa.
With my hopes remaining at the lotus feet of Srila Gurudeva, this Kalakanta relates Gurudeva’s lila.