The Disappearance Lila of His Divine Grace
Lord Caitanya said to Srila Ramananda Raya and Svarupa Damodara Goswami:
ka-i-avarahi-am pemmam na hi hoi manuse loe
ja-i hoi kassa virahe hontammi ko jia-i
“Love of Godhead, devoid of cheating propensities, is not possible within this material world. If there is such a love, there cannot be separation, for if there is separation, how can one live.” [Cc. Madhya, 2.42]
In January 1996, Srila Gour Govinda Swami delayed on his annual trip to Sri Mayapur Dham for Iskcon’s annual GBC meetings, due to the Srila Prabhupada Centennial celebrations in Orissa. He commented at the time that: “Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Maharaja said that this material world is not a fit place for any gentleman to live. Because he had felt disgusted, he left this world prematurely. I may also leave. I don’t know. I will ask Gopal. I will do what ever He wants.”
The next day he went to Gadei Giri to see Gopaljiu. While he was there he spoke to Ghanashyam Giri [cousin-brother of Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja who donated Sri Sri Radha Gopaljiu temple and Their land to ISKCON]. He recalls:
“We were discussing Gopal’s new temple and the planned installation of large deities of Radha Gopal to go with the existing small ones. Suddenly, Maharaja told me, “I won’t see this Deity installation. you will see it but I will not.”
I said, “How is that? You are ten years younger than I am. If you won’t see it how will I?”
Maharaja said, “No, no. You will see the inauguration of the temple and the Deity because you have served Gopal so nicely.” That was the last discussion I had with Maharaja. After that he went to Bhubaneswar for a few days and then to Mayapur where he stayed forever.”
After he had taken darsan of his beloved Sri Sri Radha Gopaljiu in Gadei Giri, for the next four days, Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja lectured before thousands of people at the Prahupada Centennial festival (Hare Krishna Utsava) in Bhubaneswar. Only after this, did he depart for the annual ISKCON G.B.C. management meetings in Sridham Mayapur.
Now in Mayapur, devotees were coming for darsan of Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja in his guest house room every evening. On the 9th February 1996 (Govinda Krsna Pancami), the holy appearance day of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, two senior ISKCON devotees requested an appointment in the early evening to see Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja. They inquired, “Why did Chaitanya Mahaprabhu stay in Jagannatha Puri?”
Srila Gour Govinda Swami explained the confidential significance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s pastimes in Puri. He described the viraha, the pain of separation Srimati Radharani feels when Krsna is away from Vrndavan, gradually unfolding the pastime to where finally Srimati Radharani and Krsna are united after Their long separation. He described how Krishna became so ecstatic upon seeing Radharani that He manifested a form with big round eyes and shrunken limbs (Lord Jagannatha).
At that time the devotees noticed that tears had come to his eyes and his voice had become choked up. Barely audible, he said, “…after a long separation Krsna came back to Vrajabhumi and then the eyes of Krsna fell on the eyes of Srimati Radharani – eye to eye union.”
Unable to continue, he folded his hands and in a barely audible voice said, “Please forgive me, I cannot speak more.” Overwhelmed with ecstatic love and unbearable separation from Srimati Radhika and Syamasundara he could speak and gave his final instruction: “Nama koro! Nama Koro!”
The devotees began to chant as he lay back on his bed. Upon request a servant placed a picture of Sri Gopaljiu in his hand. Gazing at Sri Gopal he called out, “Gopal!” Then closed his eyes and departed, returning to His beloved Lordships Sri Sri Radha Gopal Jiu in Sri Goloka Vrndavan Dham. At the same moment a garland fell from the transcendental Body of Sri Gopaljiu in Gadei Giri.
Srila Gour Govinda Swami was brought to the Sri Sri Krsna Balaram Mandir in Bhubaneswar where he was placed in samadhi in the small mud hut that had served as his bhajan-kutir for many years.
Srila Gour Govinda Swami’s disappearance pastime perfectly exemplified the highest level of surrender and separation from Krishna as explained by Sriman Caitanya Mahaprabhu in the above verse. During the Centennial year, he made a wonderful offering of himself at the beautiful lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada, on the divine appearance day of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. Srila Gour Govinda Swami had the ability to leave at will, meaning he could stay or go according to his own will and was not forced by the laws of material nature to leave. This is called iccha-mrtyu.
kasturi-tilakam lalata-patale vaksah-sthale kaustubham
nasagre vara-mauktikam kara-tale venuh kare kankanam
sarvange hari-candanam su-lalitam kanthe ca muktavali
gopa-stri-parivestito vijayate gopala-cuda-manih
All glories to the crest jewel of cowherd boys known as Gopal, who has a musk tilaka-mark on His forehead, the kaustubha jewel on His chest, a graceful pearl on the tip of His nose, a flute in His hand, a bracelet on His wrist, graceful sandalwood paste on all of His limbs, a necklace of pearls on His neck, and who is surrounded by a host of gopis. [Sri-Gopala-sahasra-nama, text 28]
To read further accounts, and also recollections of devotees who were present during this amazing final manifest pastime of His Divine Grace, please click on the devotee's name.
Lila Avatar prabhu
Account from the Book 'Gopal Jiu'
From 'A Life Sketch of Srila Gour Govinda Swami'