Sri Sri Guru Gaurangau Jayatah

Auspicious Assembly at Villa Govinda

by Jagamohini Devi Dasi
From the 20th World Tour of His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj at Villa Govinda Ashram, Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, near Milan, Italy

  Vrndavan das Thakur has prayed in this way:
   sarvva-vaisnavera pa’ye kari namaskara
   ithe aparadha kichu nahuka amara
"I bow at the feet of the Vaisnavas; may there be no offense in my attempt to serve them."

"My Guru Maharaj is happy"

More than 100 devotees from around the world have traveled to Italy, to the transcendentally beautiful Villa Govinda to try to get some connection with these loving servants of our loving Lord.

In this morning’s darshan, His Divine Grace Srila Govinda Maharaj said, "Now we have a new center in Italy, and my Guru Maharaj is happy. I am feeling this in my heart." He went on to say that Srila Guru Maharaj has always had high honor for this "Roman country, for Italy." He added, "Now we are here, and I am seeing they are very sweet, natural devotees."

Visiting are devotees from England, America, Germany, Holland, Czech Republic, Spain, Brazil, Ireland and an enthusiastic group of twenty-seven from Hungary. They made the sixteen-hour drive through difficult terrain, pulled by their strong desire to take the darshan of a living saint, their beloved Srila Gurudeva. They arrived late in the night and set up a mini town of tents at Villa Govinda.

The weather in Italy at this time of year is very hot, near 39 degrees Celsius with high humidity. Many devotees have mentioned that they are reminded of the temperatures in the Holy Dham during the Sri Gaura Purnima festival. Due to the huge party of devotees gathered here at Villa Govinda eager to catch the grace of Srila Govinda Maharaj, the afternoon darshans begin small and intimate in His Divine Grace’s room but soon spill out of the doors and onto the veranda.
Jewel-like Devotees

In his constant affection and kindness to the devotees, His Divine Grace also moves outside and around to the front of Villa Govinda. Here, so many shining devotees, jewel-like in their Vaisnava qualities, sit before His Divine Grace, who stands out as the resplendent crown jewel of this beautiful, auspicious assembly.

Villa Govinda is a beautiful and very old fifteen-room villa in the countryside outside of Milan. It sits regally atop a hillside with a beautiful view of the unfolding valley below. His Divine Grace has expressed his extreme pleasure with all of Villa Govinda and the devotional nature of the Italian devotees whose faith and dedication to Sri Guru has brought the seed-thought of this ashram into sweet fruition. A couple of days ago, Srila Gurudeva visited the old and beautiful church of Montevecchia, which sits on a hilltop to the west of Villa Govinda.


His Divine Grace has displayed so much affection and appreciation for Italy and its pious culture of Catholicism. Many of the Italian devotees, including Krishna Kanta Didi, Munindra Mohan Prabhu, Tunga Vidya Didi, Janaki Vallabha Prabhu, and Madhurananda Prabhu, have family members living in the surrounding area who have come to receive the personal mercy of Srila Govinda Maharaj. His Divine Grace happily met with them and offered his affection and respect. The families are so blessed to have come in contact with grace personified.

On the grounds of Villa Govinda there is an old, lovely statue of the Blessed Mother Mary. It is more than 100 years old and the father of Krishna Kanta Didi has restored it to its original radiant state. Upon seeing this image of Mary, Srila Govinda Maharaj smiled and said, "Oh, she is wearing Indian dress!" During one darshan, he commented that Mother Mary is also watching over the devotees here.

A Visit to the Dairy Farm

A couple mornings ago, His Divine Grace traveled a short distance from Villa Govinda to a dairy farm. The pujari at Villa Govinda, Shyamasundar Prabhu, visits this dairy on a daily basis and receives a donation of a bucket of fresh milk. The dairy owner’s son happily greeted Srila Govinda Maharaj, and the devotees and gave him a tour around the facility. They have 270 cows including sweet calves and expectant mothers. Srila Govinda Maharaj and the devotees were shown a clever feeding system for the calves, a unique automated cowshed floor cleaner and a cooling cow shower.

The cows are healthy and give big quantities of milk. This farm is unique in that it is one of the few in the West that still brings the cows out to graze in the grassy fields. On the following day, Srila Govinda Maharaj commented that although this was a very nice dairy farm by all standards, the western manner of caring for the cows is often an unnatural process. He said that he believes our cows in Sri Nabadwip are very happy. Srila Gurudev also took time to give honor to the devotees. He spoke of Sripad Ashram Maharaj’s ongoing personal service to the Math’s cows, calves and bulls. "And the bull does not ever kick him," Srila Maharaj added with an affectionate laugh.

Spontaneous Outing to the River

On Tuesday afternoon, Krishna Kanta’s mother and father came to Villa Govinda to meet with Srila Govinda Maharaj. Srila Gurudeva happily greeted and chatted with them, and they told him about many of the beautiful sights and places of interest near the ashram. A little later in the afternoon Srila Gurudev surprised everyone by choosing to spontaneously visit one of these places. Devotees scrambled into cars and followed His Divine Grace to the River Adda. The lovely spot is best known for the ferryboat that was designed by Leonardo da Vinci and carries cars back and forth across the river. The ferry design is unique in that it does not use a motor, but travels back and forth on the river’s current.


The site is also well known for its delicious gelato, the Italian equivalent of ice cream. As Srila Gurudeva and the devotees walked along the river path and sat on the nearby benches watching the ferry, Munindra Mohan Prabhu and Tunga Vidya Didi slipped into the gelato shop and purchased cups of several flavors. When asked about what flavor he wanted, Srila Gurudeva answered, "Vanilla is preferable." So vanilla it was.

This little outing seemed to be very pleasing to Srila Govinda Maharaj. It was just a short drive, and the river was quiet and peaceful. The visit was short and sweet with just several devotees present. They clustered like honeybees around the sweetness of Srila Gurudeva’s satisfied smile.

The Voice of an Angel

On Sunday, as the kirttan for the noon arati was ending, the young son of a visiting Hungarian devotee wished to sing prayers to Lord Nrsimha. After starting, hesitating and stopping a couple times, young Golokapati (11-years-old), began to sing in a clear and pure voice, "Namas te Narasimhaya…." His manner was so devotional and sincere, and his voice was so charming and sweet that the few devotees present smiled to each other as they joined in the kirtan, acknowledging the special quality of this chanting. It was as if our hearts were caught off-guard and softened by this boy’s spontaneous desire for Harinam kirttan.

Hearing the sounds from the temple room, other devotees began to enter. Soon, the temple room was full and everyone was singing the sweet Mahamantra. Srila Govinda Maharaj himself came to one door to peek in, asking who was singing and then looked through the second door. Afterwards, someone mentioned that Srila Gurudev was eating lunch in the adjoining room during the kirttan and was moving and tapping his fingers to the chanting. The assembled devotees continued chanting for a long time after the arati and only stopped to honor prasadam. As the blissful chanting ended, Sripad Ban Maharaj commented in Italian, "This boy has the voice of an angel."
Holy Name floats down the hillside

That evening, the arati, fired up by Sripad Siddhanti Maharaj and Sripad Paramahamsa Maharaj, continued for a long time and grew until it spilled out of the temple room. The blissful sounds of the Holy Names floated all around us and down the hillside to mingle with the church bells. This kirttan carried on with an unforgettable sweetness for nearly two hours.


At one point, the Hungarian devotees gathered together with a guitar, mrdanga, bongos, and karatals to perform a Hungarian song about Harinam kirttan with lyrics in both the Hungarian and Bengali languages. The devotees sang and danced with a hint of their traditional culture. Soon, their song sounded more like a traditional kirtan and was beautifully led by Madhava Dayita Didi and Aninda Sundar Prabhu.

In this morning’s pre-dawn darshan, His Divine Grace spoke about how Sri Mahaprabhu has given special importance to two practices: sravanam and kirtanam. Srila Govinda Maharaj told us that it is necessary to hear about the glories of the Supreme Lord and His divine associates from the pure devotee. Secondly, the Kali Yuga dharma is sankirttan. This is the medicine for the conditioned souls. There is no other alternative to this most dear, sweet and ecstatic process. His Divine Grace said to "chant, dance and get joy in the heart."
Lotus Words

During one talk Srila Govinda Maharaj said that so often we are writing at the end of a letter, "Yours in the service of the Lord." He asked what this really means to us. Are we truly in the mood of giving ourselves totally in the service of the Lord or are these simply words that we use out of habit? To be raised to that platform, to give ourselves in service is not an easy thing.

Here in Italy in the association of Srila Gurudev and all the devotees, we are finding such high examples of service and Vaisnava qualities. With their help we have some hope of developing these qualities and nurturing the faith necessary to follow in their footsteps.

So, with the grace of Srila Govinda Maharaj, his holy world tour, and his merciful disciples and associates, we are receiving some assistance in this way. They are all helping to remind us of Sri Gaurahari’s beautiful message: by this process, devotion will be revealed in our hearts. Srila Guru Maharaj has told us, "Faith in the devotees, the Vaisnavas, grants us the most substantial help. Such a position is not flickering, but firm. One who has faith in the Vaisnavas achieves devotion of a tangible character."
Immeasurable Mercy

We give all honor and glory to His Divine Grace Srila Govinda Maharaj and all the Vaisnavas. Lord Gaurahari’s immeasurable mercy is flowing down to us through their compassion and grace. This blessedness has been pouring through our days and nights at the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math’s lovely and transcendental Villa Govinda. We pray that we might become worthy to catch a drop of this mercy and join in the service of Sri Guru and the Vaisnavas.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur prays:
  sakala chadiya bhai,
  sraddhadevira guna gai,
  yanra krpa bhakti dite pare
"Giving up everything, let us sing in praise of Sraddha Devi, faith, whose grace can take us to Krishna."

All glories to Srila Gurudeva’s 20th World Tour!
All glories to the all-merciful Vaisnavas!
All glories to the Devotees of Italy!
All glories to Sri Sri Dayal Nitai Gaurahari!

Offering all obeisance,
Jagamohini Devi Dasi, visiting from U.S.A.

What's New? - World Tour Information

Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, Nabadwip: