All glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga
His Divine Grace Sri Acharyyadev Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj’s
Jagamohini Devi Dasi reports from Nabadwip Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math on the glorious occasion of Srila Govinda Maharaj's 76th Anniversary Sri Vyasa-Puja.
govindabhidham ujjvalam vara-tanum bhakty anvitam sundaram
vande visva-gurun cha divya-bhagavat-premno hi bija-pradam
Sweet Family of Devotees
His Divine Grace Srila Govinda Maharaj arose in the pre-dawn darkness of his holy appearance day anniversary to find his veranda in Sridham Nabadwip transformed into a snowy wonderland. Young Varsana Devi Dasi from Soquel, USA, was inspired by Srila Gurudev’s wish to one day see the stark and pure white loveliness of the snow that drapes all of St. Petersburg in the winter months. Late at night, after His Divine Grace took rest, Varsana and her helpers quietly decorated his veranda with hundreds of paper snowflakes, sparkling sequins, flower garlands, balloons and even a bowlful of snow. Sripad Bhakti Kanan Giri Maharaj brought new propane gas heaters that have the feel of a fireplace with dancing flames for His Grace’s veranda. This, along with His Divine Grace’s kind smile, and the sweet family of the devotees, created a warm and comforting glow on this cold, but very auspicious, winter morning.
Outside the veranda, the devotees layered themselves in wool and gathered for aratis, first at the temple of Sri Gangadhar Siva, then the temple of Sri Gupta Govardhan Giriraj, then Srila Guru Maharaj’s Samadhi Mandir and then the temple of Their Lordships Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Gandharvva Govindasundarjiu. In the misty darkness they chanted and performed parikrama around the temples and then back across the road to circumambulate the sweet waters of Sri Govinda Kunda. The full moon was still spilling its silvery light, and there was no constellation, but just one singularly bright star, a pinprick of luminous light that shone in the sky and seemed to enhance the beauty of Sri Giriraj’s mandir in the centre of Sri Govinda Kunda.
Dawn arrives softly and sweetly in Sri Nabadwip Dham. It blushes the sky with pink and unfolds its warm light down through the trees, to the rows of flower plants waiting to burst into bloom, to the green field where the shy deer reside, to the soft holy dust of the parikrama path. The devotees, now warmed and energized by kirttan, follow the sunlight and continue their parikrama down the road and through the village lanes to the banks of the holy Ganges River.
Pure and Spotless Moon
Later, in the morning of this auspicious day, His Divine Grace enters the nat mandir surrounded by hundreds of disciples, guests and well-wishers. The nat mandir is beautiful and fragrant with banners, mango leaves and flower garlands, but now it becomes even more beautiful by the presence of His Divine Grace and his dear devotees. He shines as charmingly as the pure and spotless moon in the midst of so many illuminated stars. I am reminded of a verse of Srila Guru Maharaj’s Srimad Bhaktivinoda-viraha Dasakam:
naksatrani cha ranjayan nija-sudham vistarayan rajate
sach-chhastrani cha tosayan budha-ganam sammodayams te tatha
nunam bhumi-tale subhodaya iti hlado bahuh satvatam
Today, in this grand and auspicious assembly, we are also feeling so much happiness and inspiration. Sripad Bhakti Sudhir Goswami Maharaj speaks in a clear, sweet and insightful manner and elucidates each line of the pranam mantra that was written under the instruction of His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj for his beloved disciple, Srila Govinda Maharaj: Gurvvabhista-supurakam Guru-ganair asisa-sambhusitam.... Sripad Goswami Maharaj praised and reminded us of Srila Govinda Maharaj’s immeasurable qualifications and glories — how at the tender age of seventeen Srila Govinda Maharaj left his family and sought the shelter and spiritual guidance of Srila Guru Maharaj; how his family tried to make him leave, even forcibly, but he would not budge from Srila Guru Maharaj’s lotus feet. He said, “I am coming. I am giving myself to you. That is forever.”
Guardian of Spiritual Wealth
Srila Guru Maharaj saw in Srila Govinda Maharaj from the very beginning, some extraordinary capacity, and at the age of seventeen he was selected by Srila Guru Maharaj to be his successor. In time, he would entrust him as the guardian of the storehouse of divine spiritual wealth. Sripad Goswami Maharaj noted that Srila Gurudev was ornamented with the blessings of all the Guru-varga. His uncle gurus all had so much respect and sweet affection for him and noted that he perfectly fulfils the desires of his beloved Guru Maharaj. They found in Srila Govinda Maharaj one who could be the architect of the outward expression of Srila Guru Maharaj’s high conception.
Srila Guru Maharaj said, “You must take this position.” And against his own wishes, he reluctantly obeyed and took the position of Srila Guru Maharaj’s successor. Today, we see how he is humbly carrying out this duty. He is taking what comes to him in the way of praise and recognition and placing it, like a golden gift, firmly at the lotus feet of his beloved Spiritual Master, Srila Guru Maharaj. This is his saintly example.
Sripad Bhakti Bimal Avadhut Maharaj told the assembly that because of Srila Govinda Maharaj’s gracious visit, all of Russia and the surrounding areas were miraculously and spiritually surcharged. Srila Gurudev spoke shortly, but very affectionately, and expressed appreciation to all the devotees and guests present, reminding us of our goal by saying, “Vaisnava seva – that is our life.”
We shall hanker for connection with Sri Guru
Srila Narottam Das Thakur says, asrayalaiya bhaje tahre krsna nahi tyaje: “If one can get a bona fide guardian, his future is ensured.” And in Sermons of the Guardian of Devotion, Srila Guru Maharaj says, “When we suffer from uncertainty to the extreme, we shall hanker for connection with Guru, the reliable source. I cannot only put an enquiry to him with faith and trust, but Guru is a guardian who is my well-wisher more than I am to my own self. ‘Guardian’ means a friend who thinks more of me than I think of myself. He knows more about my welfare than I do. Such is the position to have a guardian, a friend, a Guru.”
Recently, Srila Govinda Maharaj said, “One who is happy to see the Vaisnavas, and in turn, the Vaisnavas are happy to see him; he is a real Vaisnava.” Also, we have heard, “One who is a lover of the devotee has got substantial devotion.” We find that these qualities are fully present in His Divine Grace.
The glorification of Srila Govinda Maharaj went on late into the night in the nat mandir with several senior Vaisnavas speaking deeply and wholeheartedly about the glories of Sri Guru and the Vaisnavas. These were all spoken in Bengali, but still, the sound and the mood were irresistibly sweet. Here, in Nabadwip, in this abode of ‘inexhaustible sweetness and purity,’ we have so many heart-capturing examples of the Vaisnava qualities of tolerance and humility. I feel that it is here that we can put ourselves in the way of grace. In one essay, Thomas Merton prayed, “Is it merciful of Your light to bring us, inexorably, to despair? No, it is not despair that You bring me, but to humility. For true humility is, in a way, a very real despair; despair of myself in order that I may hope entirely in You.”
On our own we cannot do anything, but if grace comes from above, from Sri Guru and Vaisnava, there will be some sweet hope. If we can attract that grace with such sincere, heartbreaking mood of unworthiness, of shame, then we may have some great expectation. The negative mood can invite the Positive. And Sri Guru, like the Supreme Lord, is kind and loving. He is won over by the affection of his devotees.
Daksa Prayed to Lord Siva, “I did not know your full glories.... I request that you be pleased by your own mercy, since I cannot satisfy you by my words.”
I also pray to His Divine Grace and to all the Vaisnavas that you will be pleased by your own kind mercy. I do not have the words to adequately glorify you.
All glories to His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj on the occasion of his divine appearance.
All glories, all glories to all the worldwide Vaisnavas.
Offering obeisances and praying for your grace,
Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, Nabadwip
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