Sri Sri Guru-Gaurangau Jayatah!
All glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga
Please accept my humble obeisances. Now the sad event of Srila Govinda Maharaj's California departure has occurred, amid affection and tears with about thirty of his dear friends at San Francisco airport. Only his mood of "going to return" gives us any hope.
The California leg of his 17th Grand World Tour began remarkably two weeks ago on November 8th, amid the American shock that this nation couldn't resolve its presidential election. His glowing form and words abolished the mundane environment, as we ecstatically received him to California. His entire California community, and Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Seva Ashram Mahila Sakha in particular, are now completely uplifted by his grace once again.
[Right: The front of the new house before renovation.]
First, as the time was already late at night, he travelled to his new home in San Jose. 269 East Saint James Street had been transformed only for him, a miraculous gift from his Lord. I personally was privileged and delighted to observe the devotees' offering of love to him, as they changed it from an old house to a sparkling, completely new beautiful home, and finally, to an ashram of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math. He arrived at night-time to find it all lit up with the awaiting devotees' jubilant smiles as well as electric lights. He and his transcendental entourage entered and embraced it, then soon went to their respective quarters, took the Prasadam that had been carefully prepared, and settled down for the night.
The next morning after enlivening a few dozen happy souls with darsan in the soon-to-be temple room of Sriman Mahaprabhu, Srila Gurudeva took a more complete tour of his new ashram. He looked upstairs and down, and walked down the block as well. He noted many aspects of the house and surrounding neighbourhood. He told me that, during a previous visit, he had been attracted to the house and had requested a picture of it. It is no wonder, when we are with him, to see how Sriman Mahaprabhu fulfils his wishes in reciprocation for the pure love that Srila Govinda Maharaj extends to his Lord.
For two days, devotees and guests met with him and saw to all his needs. The house was full, from attic to all ends of the basement, with the unlimitedly fortunate group. He guided us in our final questions about Sriman Mahaprabhu's moving Pastime. Then, the grand parade day of November 11 Sankirttan Maharasa arrived.
Grand Parade to Saint James Street
The parade day was beautiful, cool, and sunny. Srila Gurudeva wanted to begin early, and everything went so smoothly at Mahaprabhu's former residence, we were out the door long before we had expected to be. The ladies had decorated His parade palanquin beautifully.
Headed by Gurudeva, the devotees carried Mahaprabhu, accompanied by singing and chanting with mridangas and karatals. The parade travelled the mile from 497 N. 17th St. to 269 East Saint James St. in about forty minutes, with many neighbours and passers-by joining in or otherwise showing interest and appreciation. Because of the expert, extra diligence of Sriman Shobhana Krishna Prabhu, the civic and traffic considerations were all completely favourable for the entire path. This transcendental procession is recorded on video-tape.
Sri Gauranga Sundar arrived at His new house and made His way through the gate, up the stairs, through the front door, and onto His simhasan, gorgeously and elaborately prepared by Srimati Deva Priya. His broad smiles and beaming face encourage everyone who sees Him in His new, large room. Srimati Vimala Devi offered the first arotik. The temple room was packed to capacity, and people who spilled over into the Prasadam room were able to see through the cameras arranged by Sriman Murali Mohan Prabhu.
[Right: some of the devotees of the Mahila Sakha who helped make it all possible]
It is impossible to give enough credit to the most important people of all, the kitchen crew. Feast after feast, Srimati Sanatani Didi, supported by Srimati Jivana Didi, Srimati Nandarani Didi, Srimati Braja Mohini Didi, Sriman Ramananda Prabhu, and many other dedicated servitors, arranged the cooking and did the cooking to perfection. Both kitchens, 17th St. and Saint James St., were utilised to capacity to prepare sufficient for the crowds. Sanatani Didi's cooking crews and serving staffs reflected top-notch Vaisnava standards of properly honouring those they served. Fifty-people-expected would turn into one-hundred people, and one-hundred into two-hundred-fifty. Always, Mahaprabhu's Prasad was delicious and abundant. Every meal should be mentioned, but the most unbelievable one of all was the festival at noon on the day of the Lord's Sankirttan Maharasa. Not only was everyone extremely satisfied, but Sanatani uncovered an excellent facility for future serving -- the long driveway covered with cloths.
This humble writer is even more unqualified than ordinarily to write about events following Srila Govinda Maharaj's traversal down Highway 17 to his Soquel home. My office work service came to me and took most of my time, so I missed too much of his divine activities during November 12th to 17th to properly relate them.
Return to San Jose
On this day, Srila Govinda Maharaj reiterated, as he did many times at the new ladies' ashram, that we are blessed by our cherished, beloved friend Sri Sripad Rsabhdev Prabhu. This is one more amazing fortune that we know will always provide our assurance of success in our attempts to be fully dedicated to the service to Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math.
May the worldwide devotee community bless me that one day I can properly record the incredible events that caused the new ashram to manifest. Headed by Sripad Daitya Krishna Prabhu, somehow the old, dirty house became the beautiful Temple, kitchen, and Prasadam rooms, the holy receiving room, resting place, and bathing quarters of His Divine Grace, and the charming downstairs ladies' quarters with five bedrooms, two bathrooms, two kitchenettes, and laundry room. Miraculously working until dawn for the final weeks were Prabhus Daitya Krishna, Hari Vallabha, Devala, Krishna Bhusan, Bhajanananda, Jayanta Krishna (who painted a ceiling for God Almighty like that other Italian Michaelangelo), Ramananda, Dyuti Sundar and Jaya Gauranga; and the ladies Amy, Deva Priya, Braja Mohini, Sudebika, Swarnangii and Ananda Cinmayee; the prior crews Revatinath Prabhu, Gopal and Gauranidhi; and the supporters Jivana Didi, Deva Mayee Didi, Daru Brahma Didi, Malati Priya Didi, Yudhamanyu Prabhu, Pusta Krishna Prabhu; and the grander congregation like Yogeshwari Didi, Syama Didi, Bharat Chandra and Narayani. Madhavananda Prabhu expertly built our beautiful front fence, which outlines the home and protects its inhabitants. The sublime entourage, Sripad Bhakti Amala Paramahamsa Maharaj, Sripad Bhakti Pavan Janardan Maharaj, Sripad Bhakti Sudhir Goswami Maharaj, Sripad Bhakti Kanan Giri Maharaj, Sripad Bhakti Chandan Parvat Maharaj, Chidananda Prabhu, Srimati Bhakti Lalita Devi, Srimati Sita Devi and Srimati Yamuna Priya Devi, will forever be listed as our benefactors because of their assistance in initiating the house into a seva land.
Sri Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj ki jaya! Sri Sri Guru and Gauranga ki jaya! Sri Sri Gauranga Sundar ki jaya! Gaura Bhakta Vrinda ki jaya!
As always, please overlook my neglect to show honour to the Vaisnavas. This neglect is too easy for me because of their exalted nature and my inability to comprehend that.
aspiring for service,
Posted 22 November 2000. Slightly amended 05 and 21 December 2000
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