HH Bhakti Charu Swami Maharaj gave an amazing class on Srila Gaura Govinda Swami Maharaj on the auspicious occasion of his disappearance day on 29th February 2016 in Sridham Mayapur.
Download the audio for this lecture here:
From Sri Mayapur Chandrodaya Mandir
Date: February 29, 2016 Speaker: HH Bhakti Caru Maharaj
Subject: on HH Gour Govinda Swami on Occasion of his 20th Disappearance Day Anniversary
Yesterday was the disappearance day of our very dear and very exalted godbrother, His Holiness Gour Govinda Swami Maharaj. Because those two occasions are clashing, it was decided that we will have a special class on Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaj. Therefore, instead of having a class on the book Bhagavat, we’ll have a class today on the peron Bhagavat.
HH Gour Govinda Swami Maharaj ki jaya!
HH Gour Govinda Swami Maharaj’s tirobhava mahotsvaha ki jaya!
Gaura Premanade Hari Hari Bol!
On the disappearance days of exalted devotees, we sing a special song composed by Srila Narottama Das Thakur. It goes like
je ānilo prema-dhana koruṇā pracur
heno prabhu kothā gelā ācārya-ṭhākur
kāhā mora swarūp rūpa kāhā sanātan
kāhā dāsa raghunātha patita-pāvan
kāhā mora bhaṭṭa-juga kāhā kavirāj
eka-kāle kothā gelā gorā naṭa-rāj
pāṣāṇe kuṭibo māthā anale paśibo
gaurāńga guṇera nidhi kothā gele pābo
se-saba sańgīra sańge je koilo bilās
se-sańga nā pāiyā kānde narottama dās
Although most of you know this song, let us read the translation first before singing this song.
He, who brought the treasure of divine love and who was filled with compassion and mercy–where has such a personality as Advaita Acarya gone?
Where are my Svarupa Damodara and Rupa Gosvami? Where is Sanatana? Where is Raghunatha Dasa, the savior of the fallen?
Where are my Raghunatha Bhatta and Gopala Bhatta, and where is Krsnadasa Kaviraja? Where did Lord Gauranga, the great dancer, suddenly go?
I will smash my head against the rock and enter into the fire. Where will I find Lord Gauranga, the reservoir of all wonderful qualities?
Being unable to obtain the association of Lord Gauranga accompanied by all of these devotees in whose association He performed His pastimes, Narottama Dasa simply weeps.
HH Gour Govinda Swami Maharaj ki jaya
Srila Prabhupada attracted many exalted spiritual personalities. HH Gour Govinda Swami Maharaj is one of them. When we look at his life we can see that from the very beginning of his life, he had been a very, very dedicated devotee of Krishna. He was a very exalted devotee of Krishna.
Maharaj appeared in a small villiage in a small village in Orissa called Jagannathapur. He appeared in a devotee family. His father Ishavar Manik and mother were very wonderful devotees. His maternal grandfather, his mother’s father, was such an exalted devotee of Krishna that the whole day he used to just chant the holy names. He was also very famous as a kirtaniya. He had his kirtan and I heard that on special occaisions, the King of Orissa used to call his group to Jagannath Puri and to the capitol to chant the holy name of the Lord.
His mother’s family, in a village called (inaudible), which was about fourteen kilometers from Jagannathapur, had been worshipping Sri Sri Radha Gopal deities for more than 350 years. We can see that by Krishna’s divine arrangement, he appeared in a devotee family and had a very wonderful spiritual upbringing from his childhood.
He was born on 2nd September, 1929. When he was eight years old, he already read Bhagavad Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam, and Caitanya Caritamrita. Not only did he study these scriptures, but he could actually give classes and speak on those topics as an eight year old boy.
He was also a very brilliant student. Unfortunately, his father left this planet when he was 27 years old and the responsibility of maintaining the family came upon him. He could not go to the university. But although he did not have the opportunity to go to the university, on his own, he studied. During the day he used to work and at night he used to prepare for his graduation course. Although he appeared privately, he stood second in the whole university. That shows what a brilliant personality he was.
After doing his BA, he did his B8, and he took the occupation of a teacher. Although he was involved in his household life, he was extremely detached. I personally have seen, like, when Maharaj was in Bhubaneswar, the temple, there were many devotees. I was introduced to one boy who was his son. He was also staying in the temple, but he did not get any special treatment as Maharaj’s son. He was just like any other devotee there. Maharaj was extremely detached.
When he was 45 years old, Maharaj left home. He just left home and started to travel around India to the holy places. He went to the Himalayas and Maharaj, naturally, was quite disappointed in this mayavadi influence in the community of the sadhus. Most of the so called sadhus are impersonalists now a days. It’s very painful for a devotee.
Finally, Maharaj came to Vrindavan and in Vrindavan he thought that he would find the vaisnava association. Although all four sampradayas were very well established in Vrindavan – Maharaj used to go to the different ashrams in Vrindavan and spend days there. He would stay in the ashrams and listen to them. He could see that even though they were vaisnavas, it was not really appealing to his heart because he couldn’t see or find pure Krishna Consciousness in them.
In that respect we can consider that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu influenced two countries very effectively, two parts of India, Bengal and Orissa. Caitanya Mahaprabhu for the first twenty-four years of His stay on this planet, He stayed in Bengal. He started the sankirtan movement and created a tremendous influence. Nityananda Prabhu continued that.
In Orissa, He Himself was there. The unique thing about Orissa is that it is actually the land of Jagannath. As a result of that, most of the people there are great devotees. They have an inherent attachment to Krishna, to Lord Jagannatha.
Unfortunately, due to the British influence – When the British first came to India they came to Bengal, to Calcutta. They established their set up in Calcutta. As a result of the British influence, Mahaprabhu’s teachings were sort of lost. As you all know, when all kinds of apra sampradays started to pop up and the teachings of Lord Caitanya were practically covered over. Then came the teachings of Ram Krishna. The whole of Bengal became totally spoiled by their thoughts and non spiritual propaganda, whereas Orissa was not affected by any of these things.
Therefore, Krishna Consciousness remained quite in tact in Orissa. Even today we can see the difference between Bengal and Orissa. In Bengal, gradually due to Srila Prabhupada’s influence, things are changing due to our preaching, namahatta preaching in the villages and all. Krishna Consciousness is being established.
Orissa is very different. Even if you go to the villages, you will see that people are so devoted, so Krishna Consciousness. We can understand why Gour Govinda Maharaj was disappointed even when he went to Vrindavan. The pure Krishna bhakti was not there. He could not find it in these four sampradayas.
One day he saw a sign – the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Nothing that impressive, construction was going on, it was a construction site. But the sign was there. It appeared to him, an international society. He went to speak to the people in there. When he went there, he found the westerners, the Americans and Europeans. They had become Krishna Conscious. That impressed him so much. He felt that this was the real thing.
Krishna bhakti is meant for every single living entity. It is not just meant for Indians or Asians. It’s for everyone. Then he started to speak to some devotee who explained to him about Srila Prabhupada and how he went to America and spread Krishna Consciousness there and made them into devotees and how they were affected by Srila Prabhupada’s teachings.
He became eager to see Srila Prabhupada. He was already dressed in saffron and was a sadhu from his appearance. He asked the devotee, can I please meet your guru? That devotee said yes. You have to speak to his secretary. At that time Brahmananda Maharaj was his secretary. He went and spoke to him.
Srila Prabhupada, at that time, had just finished his lunch and was about to take rest. When Brahmananda told him that Srila Prabhupada had just taken lunch but, anyway, I will go and ask him if he would like to meet you. He went and told Prabhupada that one sadhu wanted to see him. Prabhupada’s immediate response was yes, bring him in.
Gour Govinda Maharaj was taken to Srila Prabhupada. At that time his name was actually Brajabandhu. We can see, born in a village called Jagannathpur, he had a name of Brajabandhu, friend of Vraja, friend of Vrindavan. We can see the spiritual background he had actually appeared in.
Prabhupada saw him dressed in saffron. After some exchange, Srila Prabhupada asked him if he was a sannyasi. He said no, I didn’t officially, formally take sannyasa. I’m just wondering around in search of spiritual upliftment. Srila Prabhupada said, I will give you sannyasa. In their first meeting Srila Prabhupada told him that he would give him sannyasa.
Srila Prabhupada gave him first and second initiation. In 1975 on the occasion of the inauguration of the Krishna Balaram Temple, Srila Prabhupada gave him sannyasa and the name Gour Govinda Swami. Srila Prabhupada gave him three instructions. Translate my books into Oria, build a temple, and you preach around the world. Prabhupada saw his spiritual accument.
At that time in Orissa, we got a piece of land given by a wealthy person. This land was far away from the city. Prabhupada told him to go there and build a temple. Being instructed by Srila Prabhupada, he just went. I
nitially, he did not have any place to stay, he had nothing in that place. There was a little village far away. But where the land was, there was nothing around there. The place was so remote that it was the hideout of dacoits. There was a tea shop. In the back of the tea shop was a room. Maharaj made an arrangement to stay in that room. At that time, one student became very affected by Gour Govinda Maharaj. He later became Sacinandan Prabhu. I think he was his first disciple.
Sacinandan Prabhu, on a cycle, used to take Gour Govinda Maharaj. In the carrier of the cycle, on the back, Maharaj used to sit there on the cycle to the city. Maharaj used to go to the offices or houses where he used to preach.
With his own hands he built a hut. He started to stay there.
In 1977, when Srila Prabhupada came to India, soon after the Kumba Mela in Janurary, from the Srila Prabhupada went to Calcutta and from there he went to Bhubaneswar. He stayed there for seventeen days. For Srila Prabhupada a nice arrangement was made in a rich supporters house. But Srila Prabhupada decided not to stay there. He decided to stay on the land in the small hut for seventeen days with a whole lot of his disciples. On the Nityananda Trayodasi day, Srila Prabhupada did the ground breaking ceremony of the temple there.
Gour Govinda Maharaj took up the mission. I have noticed those days that whoever came in contact with Gour Govinda Maharaj became extremely influenced. Even when some personalities were quite difficult to deal with, they committed themselves to serve with Gour Govinda Maharaj. In spite of all those difficulties and hardships, lack of facilities, they stayed there in Bhubaneswar serving and helping him.
One person who I remember is one of our very wonderful god brothers, Tejas Prabhu. I think Srila Prabhupada told Tejas Prabhu to help Gour Govinda Maharaj with funds. Tejas Prabhu is very expert at fund raising and Prabhupada understood that he should help Gour Govinda Maharaj in building that temple.
I remember in those days that Tejas Prabhu used to travel around with Banamali Prabhu, another Orissan devotee. They would travel to different places collecting funds. It was a struggle. The temple was coming up. But gradually we saw how the city started to move there.
Today, if you go to Bhubaneswar Temple, it doesn’t look like it used to be a dacoits den thirty-five or forty years ago. The city has shifted there. You see all high-rises in that area. A beautiful temple has come up.
When Maharaj started to give initiation, in 1985, devotees from all over the world became very much inspired by him. Not only his disciples, but many of our god brothers became very inspired by Gour Govinda Maharaj. They started to support and then the temple came up.
He was a brilliant personality. I remember in those days, during this time of the GBC meeting and Gaura Purnima festival, senior devotees gave a class for one day. But Gour Govinda Maharaj was so popular that he was asked to give the class for two days in a row.
He was extremely erudite and he was very straight forward. In one hand, he was very soft and gentle, smiling, but sometimes he would become hard as a thunderbolt. If somebody would say something without quoting the scripture he would say it’s cheating, how do you substantiate that statement? Where is it in the scriptures?
He had such a profound command over the scriptures. I had the good fortune of having some close exchanges, intimate association with Maharaj. I remember the first time I saw him, it was in the Calcutta temple. I was just a new devotee and one day Maharaj came and, he was a sannyasi so I made arrangements for his prasadam. While I was serving him prasad he was talking to me. All the time he was just smiling and laughing while talking to me. He was happy to see that I had joined.
At that time I did not meet Srila Prabhupada. I had just joined in Mayapur. I met Srila Prabhupada at Kumba Mela in 1977. Prabhupada, in our first meeting, gave me the instruction to translate his books into Bengali. That was the first instruction I received from Srila Prabhupada – you translate my books into Bengali. That gave me the opportunity to come close to Srila Prabhupada.
Then I was with Srila Prabhupada serving him personally. Then Srila Prabhupada from Mayapur went to Bombay, from Bombay to Hrishikesh, from Hrishikesh he came to Vrindavan. At that time, Prabhupada’s health was very bad. As a matter of fact, Srila Prabhupada went to Vrindavan from Hrishikesh in order to leave his body. In Hrishikesh he told us that the time had come for him to leave his body and that he wanted to leave his body in Vrindavan. So we should make arrangements to bring him to Vrindavan immediately. And we did that. That night we packed up and in the morning we left for Vrindavan.
Many devotees were coming to see Prabhupada at that time. Gour Govinda Maharaj also came to see Srila Prabhupada. Prabhupada had some very sweet exchange with him. Gour Govinda Maharaj was saying that the place was so remote where our land is in Bhubaneshwar that hardly anybody is coming. Prabhupada actually told him at that time, don’t worry, that place will become filled with people. I don’t know whether or not Srila Prabhupada said that the city would shift to that part or not, but one thing he assured him was that many, many people would come to the temple. Don’t worry.
When Gour Govinda Maharaj was leaving, Prabhupada called me. He asked me how he was going to Mathura. I went and asked Maharaj, how are you going to go to Mathura, to catch a train there. Maharaj said that he would take a bus, public transport. Prabhupada said no, tell them to drop him in my car. Prabhupada wanted him to be dropped at Mathura station in his car.
After that, I had on a few occaisions, visited Bhubaneshwar. I remember those days. There were very few devotees. Mostly it was very sweet. Bhagavat Prabhu was there. He was very fond of Gour Govinda Maharaj. He is our god brother from America.
Gour Govinda Maharaj was just absorbed in reading and translating, studying, and giving discourses. I noticed that he would not eat. Sometimes he would come and stay in Calcutta where I used to stay. I noticed that until Maharaj had translated a certain number of pages, I think it was ten pages of Srimad Bhagavatam, he would not eat. He would eat only after he had translated a certain number of pages of Srimad Bhagavatam. It was extremely austere.
Another time I remember Maharaj had some sort of ulcer in his leg. He wouldn’t take any treatment and it was getting worse and worse. The ulcer actually was eating up his bones, but he would not take any treatment. Finally, due to the intense persuasion of his devotees, he accepted the treatment. Otherwise, he was very detached and just depending on Krishna. Tremendous will. Tremendous determination. He was extremely detached. At the same time, rich with his devotion to Krishna.
He became a GBC. We also noticed that in the GBC Meetings, he would rarely speak. When there would be some critical input needed, and if the devotees asked Maharaj, he would give such a pure Krishna Conscious solution. We could see that although he was not speaking, he was listening so intently about the whole proceedings during our meetings.
Maharaj started to travel around the world and I noticed that wherever he went, he got such tremendous appreciation. He was very gentle and meek normally, but when he used to give a class, he was like a lion, roaring. Once one devotee how he was sitting next to him, he was shouting so much, I could hear him straight. I told him, it’s not that, it’s his ecstasy that’s making him speak like that. It’s the ecstasy that makes one speak like that, roaring like a lion.
Maharaj was, wherever he went, he created a tremendous appreciation. Devotees were so fond of him wherever he went. Devotees appreciated his scholarship, the depth of his devotion, and his very profound dealings with everyone in a very loving and intimate way. At the same time, he was extremely straight forward.
Twenty years back, here in Mayapur, Maharaj was here during the GBC Meeting. On the day of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura’s appearance, that year also was Srila Prabhupada’s 100th anniversary, 1996. One evening, Maharaj gave darshan just before evening arati. He told the devotees to go and attend the arotik. So all of the devotees, after just listening to him, came to the arotik. Maharaj used to stay where my room is in the conch building. Maharaj’s room was three rooms after that. His servant just came running to me. He came and told me that Guru Maharaj fainted. I also ran to his room. In the meantime, one devotee who was not a devotee but who had some experience in whichever way, I came and I found that he was feeling Maharaj’s pulse. He told me that he left his body. It was so sudden that we couldn’t even imagine that he could leave. He gave a class, spoke about Lord Jagannath’s glory, and to the group of devotees sitting there, and in a few minutes after that he just left.
The whole night we chanted kirtan. His leading disciples wanted to take Maharaj’s body to Bhubaneswar. They took Maharaj to Bhubaneswar in a vehicle. Some of us traveled to Bhubaneswar. Radhanath Maharaj and I traveled by train to Bhubaneswar that day. It was such a loss. It came so suddenly. There is no way of knowing how and when Krishna will call his devotees back to a new assignment.
In a similar way we saw how Tamal Krishna Maharaj also left his body so suddenly. At a time like that, we have to understand that Krishna called them to give them a more important assignment, some more important engagement. For us, it’s a great loss. We can’t fathom or understand what is Krishna’s plan, what is Srila Prabhupada’s plan.
I’ll end the class with a pastime that HH Gour Govinda Maharaj narrated about why Krishna came as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
One day in Vrindavan, Radharani was waiting for Krishna. The sakhis arranged the kunja. They met in flower groves. They decorated the place very beautifully for Krishna to come. Radharani was waiting for Krishna, but Krishna had not come. It was quite late but still, Krishna did not come.
One messenger was sent to find out what actually happened, why Krishna was not coming. So she went and found out that Krishna was with Candravali. Candravali, although she is Radharani’s sister, is Radharani’s competitor. Incidentally, in Vraja lila, it is Radharani and Candravali. In Dvarka lila, Candravali becomes Rukmini and Radharani becomes Satyabhama. So they are always with Krishna.
Krishna is with Candravali. Hearing that, Radharani became so upset. She said, if He ever comes here, don’t allow Him to come near me. I don’t want to see His face. When Krishna came, Lalita and Visakha stopped Him saying, no way can You go there. She doesn’t want to even see Your face.
Completely dejected, Krishna left the place and went to the bank of the Yamuna and started to cry, rolling on the ground. Radharani had rejected Him. Purnamasi came and, Purnamasi is yoga maya. She is an elderly lady who makes all of the arrangements for Krishna’s pastimes. That’s yoga maya’s position. She came and asked Krishna what happened. He narrated the whole incident. Then Purnamasi said, serious matter, let me see what I can do. Just stay here and I will make some arrangement, let’s see what I can do.
After a short while, Vrinda devi came there. Vrinda said look, Purnamasi sent me to help You out to unite with Radha, to arrange for you to meet Radha. So Krishna said please do that. In separation, My heart is breaking. Vrinda said look, if you go like this, there is no chance. Krishna said tell me what I should do. She said, get rid of your long hair, shave your head up. Give up the peacock feather on your forehead. Give up your flute. Instead of flute, you take a sannyasa danda. Dress up like a sannyasi. Give up this form of bending in three places and become straight. On top of everything, you have to hide your blue color. If you go there with this complexion, she will automatically recognize you. Assume a golden color.
According to Vrinda’s instruction, Krishna went there as a sannyasi. A sannyasi’s business is to beg. He was singing a song describing that, I am a begger, begging for Radha’s love. When Lalita and Visakha heard, they were very happy. Oh, you are glorifying Srimati Radharani. Where did you learn this song? He said, I learned it from my guru, ghandarvika. Ghandarva means the fine arts. They thought it was the teacher who teaches fine arts.
They thought, oh, you are a very nice sannyasi. What do you want? He said look, I am here to help everybody. Anyone who is in distress, my business is to help them out. They said, you see, our mistress is in great distress. Can you help her out? He said, sure I can. Please come and tell her what she should do. He said yes, I am a great astrologer. I can help her. Just by seeing the lines I can make out what is going to happen. I can suggest accordingly.
They went and reported that such and such a sannyasi came and he said that he can help anyone in distress. We thought that since you are in such distress we should ask him to help you. He agreed. Radharani came to the veranda, the sannyasi was there. She was covering her face because she didn’t see anyone but Krishna. She said, so sannyasi thakur, can you please read her palm? He said I am a sannyasi, I can’t touch a woman! They asked so how will you read the lines? He said no, no. Not the lines of the hand. I can read the lines on the forehead.
Lalita told him look, she doesn’t look at anybody other than Krishna. The only male she looks at is Krishna. No one else but Krishna. He said look, I am a sannyasi. I am beyond all of this bodily concept of life. One should not be ashamed in front of me. Tell your mistress to open her veil and let me see the lines on her forehead. Her veil was lifted, but as soon as the sannyasi saw her face, he could not retain his sannyasi form. He assumed his Shyamasundar form and this is how Krishna met Srimati Radharani and broke her anger.
Sri Sri Radha Madan Mohan ki jaya! Sri Sri Radha Madhava ki jaya!
Srila Gour Govinda Maharaj ki jaya!
Gaura Premande Hari Hari Bol!