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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 late January 1996, Srila Gour Govinda Swami had mentioned:
"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."
Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja had been delayed on his annual trip to Sri Mayapur Dham for the GBC meetings in 1996 due to the Srila Prabhupada Centennial celebrations in Orissa. He had taken darsan of his beloved Sri Sri Radha Gopaljiu in Gadei Giri before embarking on his trip to Sridhama Mayapura.
Now in Mayapur, devotees were coming for darsan of Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja in his guest house room every evening. Two senior devotees requested an appointment to meet with Srila Gour Govinda Swami to ask some questions. They wanted to know, "Why Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu stayed in Sri 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, eye to eye union.
...after a long separation Krsna came back to Vraja Bhumi 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]
"This material world is such a dreadful world, dangerous situation, nasty place. Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami Prabhupada Maharaja has said this is not at all a fit place for any gentleman to live, any gentleman to live. Such a place. When there is such situation, dangerous situation, who is our savior, who will save us? Who will save us? These Vaisnavas, these dear devotees of Sriman Mahaprabhu, these Gaudiya Vaisnavas, acaryas, previous acaryas; they are our savior.
santo brahma-vidah santa
naur drdhevapsu majjatam
Srimad-Bhagavatam says, this bhava-sagara, this material world is a very dreadful ocean of material existence, very dreadful ocean. We have been drowning and drowning here lakhs and lakhs of lives, laksa laksa janma. We are always in need of a strong boat. That strong boat are the brahma-vidah-sadhus. These Gaudiya Vaisnava Acaryas are strong boats. So their puja is Vyasa Puja. So this is the day you are so kind to me and I always cherish the desire in my heart to get such mercy from you, life after life. To get such opportunity to offer my puja to such Vaisnavas, such Acaryas. I hope so."
- Everyday glorifying the Srimad-Bhagavatam, Caitanya-caritamrta, Bhagavad-gita and explaining their deeper conclusions.
- Illuminated the wonderful gems hidden in the Sri Bhaktivedanta purports. Just as a seed of the banyan tree contains an entire banyan tree inside so Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja drew out the deeper meaning and significance of each and every passage, line and word of the Srila Bhaktivedanta Purports.
- Completing Srila Prabhupada’s last founded project in Bhubaneswar, Sri Sri Krsna Balarama Mandir. The first ISKCON temple established in Orissa and the 108th temple of Srila Prabhupada's world wide established temples of ISKCON. Final installation and the temple inauguration was on Lord Nityananda Prabhu Appearance Day, 1991.
- Fulfilled Srila Prabhupada’s desire to bring Patita Pavan Sri Sri Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra Devi to an ISKCON center in the holy dhama of Purusottama Ksetra to give darsan to one and all.
- Initiated construction of a grand new temple for Sri Sri Radha Gopal Jiu in Gadai Giri in 1993 and was completed in 1999 with grand festival and inauguration and installation.
- Offered the beautiful Sri Sri Radha Gopinath lotus bud temple to Srila Prabhupada for his Centennial bringing Srimati Radharani to ISKCON Bhubaneswar for the first time on Sri Ramnavami, 1995.
- Initiated the Sri Sri Rama Govindaji Mandir in Berhampur, Orissa, India. A large plot of land was donated in 1975 south of Bhubaneswar where Sri Sri Radha Govinda and Sri Sri Sita Rama Laksman and Sri Hanumanji have now been installed. The main temple is now under construction and have a regular local following.
- Established the annual Orissian Padayatra on Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance day 1992. Orissian Padayatra takes Sri Sri Gour Nitai and Srila Prabhupada in a bullock cart to remote villages and towns throughout Orissa promoting the Holy Name and the mission of Lord Caitanya to every town and village. It has continued every year since its inception.
- Began the first Orissian regular sankirtan party and Nama-hatta along with book distribution on sankirtan buses with Sri Sri Jagannatha Baladeva and Subhadra Mai and Sri Sri Gour Nitai Who traveled throughout Orissa. Books are printed at the ISKCON BBT press in Bhubaneswar in Oriyan and distributed throughout the state.
- Renovated the ancient Sri Alarnath Temple in Brahmagiri, near Jagannatha Puri (25kms). Lord Caitanya stayed at this temple during Anavasara of Lord Jagannatha and melted the stone in front of Sri Alarnath Deva where He would offer His obeisances. The temple was in need of much renovation work and repair so for Srila Prabhupada's centennial 1996, funds were directed for this project and a commemorative plaque installed celebrating Srila Prabhupada's centennial. Previously, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Maharaja had also undertaken this renovation work for Sri Alarnath Deva.
- Lead the most noble cause of the reforestation project for Lord Jagannatha in Puri. More than 125,000 trees were planted for the future building of Lord Jagannatha's Rathayatra cart and for cooking.
- Served as GBC member for ten years, from 1986 - 1996, which included the duty of overseeing the ISKCON Gurukula schools throughout India.
- Established many annual festivals in Bhubaneswar for the first time, including the Snana Yatra, Rathayatra and the twenty-one day Chandan Yatra Festival that attracts thousands of devotees each year. Each festival is followed according to established sastric regulation and held on the same days as the Puri festivals.
Established the annual Rathayatra Festival, building all three carts for Their Lordships, Sri Sri Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra Mai from fresh lumber brought to the temple each year. Lord Jagannatha is brought out of the temple in an ecstatic, drunken condition and given pillows to step on to as He unsteadily walks down the temple stairs to His new cart.
- A special pandal temple was erected each year in the downtown city area of Bhubaneswar for Gundica Marjana where every evening, hundreds and thousands of local people would come for the evening program of kirtan and prasadam and for special darsan of Lord Jagannatha after His long stay. Now a permanent Sri Gundicha Mandir is being established in Gopabandhu Nagar in Bhubaneswar.
- Founded and operated the first Orissian BBT press producing thousands of books for distribution throughout Orissa. It has been operating for more than thirty years.
- Authored the Oriyian book Bhagavata Darsan and Orissa’s own ‘Back to Godhead’ magazine.
- Translated "Easy Journey to Other Planets" into Hindi on the instruction of Srila Prabhupada.
- Without fail, everyday, carefully translated Srila Prabhupada’s books into Oriya and printed them at the temple based BBT press. Book parties were daily going out distributing these books as well as the long term sankirtan bus parties.
- Traveled extensively all over the world expanding the preaching mission of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He traveled each year to North and South America, Canada, Europe, Australia, Mauritius, Africa, Asia and throughout India.
- Initiated hundreds of devotees from all over the world and inspired thousands more by his Krsna-katha.
- Inculcates and nourishes the seed of bhakti in the hearts of all sincere seekers of Krsna-prema, with his pure Krsna-katha.
- Emphasized unflinching faith in sadhu, guru and sastra.
- Uncompromisingly adhering to the siddhantas.
- Perfect example of humility in his personal dealings.
- Demonstrated impeccable sannyasa character and principles.
- Taught simplicity by his own example. Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja stayed in the same hut that he built by hand for Srila Prabhupada since 1977.
Param Pujay Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja dispelled the doubts of those who came to him for shelter and spiritual guidance. He would place great stress on the offenseless chanting of the Holy Name, encouraging and inspiring all to achieve the pure state of chanting - prema-nama - he would always say, “chant without offense, chant the pure name, get Krsna-prema and get Krsna in this very life!” He practiced and preached complete surrender, not partial or conditional surrender, but complete one hundred percent surrender to the instructions of his spiritual master Srila Prabhupada.
Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja deeply understood the internal mood of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and extensively taught these profound and subtle teachings. Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja would always emphasize that the sastras can not be studied without the bhagavata-bhakta, the pure devotee because the conclusions of the Vedas are only to be found in the hearts of the premi-bhaktas. One can study the Vedas for one entire life and never arrive at the conclusion. One must simply and humbly hear from the bona fide Acarya and serve His lotus feet and all the conclusions of the Vedas will be revealed.
The Last Limit of Bhakti
One of the main aspects of Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja's preaching was to reveal the inner-most pastimes and truth of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Going very deep into the topic, one hears the esoteric meaning for Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's Appearance and pastimes. Speaking about Gauranga Mahaprabhu, he said, “If prema-bhakti is added to Krsna, that is Caitanya. Therefore, Sacinandana Gauranga is the Supreme Absolute Truth, Param Tattva, Bhagavan, but with Bhakti-naipunya added to it. And in the Gauranga form you will find two things combined together - sambhoga (union) and vipralambha (separation). These two things combined together, that is Gauranga. That is bhakti-naipunya - the last limit of bhakti.”
The Lotus Feet of Sri Guru
Sri Guru vandana is a personal offering to Srila Prabhupada from Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja. It was complied from the lecturers delivered by him about Sri Guru Tattva: “The lotus feet of Sri Guru are the abode of pure bhakti, kevala-bhakti sadma. I offer my prayers and respectful obeisances there with utmost care, savadhana mate. I shall never become careless. One should understand what is the meaning of sri-guru-carana-padam. These words "Sri Guru" are very significant. What is the meaning of Sri? Sri means shoba, sampada, srestha, Sri means beauty, it means transcendental wealth, and it also means the topmost. These are meanings of 'Sri'. Then what is the meaning of Sri Guru? Sri Guru refers to that Guru who is endowed with Sri, that is prema-bhakti. And this word 'Sri' is only applicable to a guru who is always manifested. It is not that the Guru is ever unmanifest. There is no question of His disappearance. He is eternally manifest and thus He is called Sri Guru. Therefore, this word 'Sri' is used, otherwise this word cannot be used.”
The Embankment of Separation
One of the main aspects of his preaching was to reveal the inner-most secrets of Puri-Bhubaneswar Dham of Lord Jagannatha and why Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu stayed in Puri. He gave the most subtle and lucid understanding of the Lord’s pastimes in Jagannatha Puri including a very deep purport to the pastimes of intense feelings of separation felt by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu after he left Nadia and came to Sri Jagannatha Puri Dhama. He revealed the significance of Purusottoma Ksetra in Puri, Who is Lord Jagannatha and the meaning of Rathayatra. In fact, it is beautifully described how Lord Jagannatha and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu are two crying forms of the Lord together in Sri Ksetra dhama. Lord Jagannatha is Sri Krsna crying for Srimati Radharani and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Sri Krsna in the mood of Srimati Radharani crying for Sri Krsna. They are together but crying in separation. This is the highest form of prema, prema-vaicittya.