I remember Pujyapada Gour Govinda Maharaja. He came from an aristocratic brahmana Vaisnava family, his father and mother were Vaisnavas, in his house there was a deity of Gopalji-deva, and he was thus trained in Vaisnava philosophy from the beginning.
Later he began searching for his Gurudeva. Continuing to search, he travelled all over India, as I did – I also searched for my Gurudeva. His search brought him here and there, and on his return journey he came to Vrndavana and saw a saintly person in saffron cloth and became attracted. He heard some words of his Gurudeva, Parama-pujyapada Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja, and he was attracted. Prabhupada, Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja told him, "I want to give you sannyasa," and he did so. He then told him, "Go to the capital of Orissa, Bhubaneswar, and preach everywhere there."
Gour Govinda Maharaja was a very strong and bold preacher, he was very expert, and he was in the line of rupanuga Vaisnavas. He especially used to read my books, and whenever a new book was published he had it brought to him. He had so much honor for me.
We met first in Vrndavana, but at that time he was not well-known. At that time Tamal Krsna Gosvami and others did not allow anyone to meet with me, and so he had no chance to meet me. When I went to Puri, however, he came with a disciple, Birbhadra brahmacari, and we discussed many subject matters. He was so bold that he never cared for criticism of his siddhantic understanding. He told what I tell – what is written in Jaiva-dharma – that no conditioned souls ever came from Goloka Vrndavana. They came from Maha Visnu, or from the tatasta (marginal) region. Also, just as I do in my classes – as I begin from the stage of sraddha and finish at Vraja-prema, he used to do the same. ISKCON leaders used to tremble, demanding to know, "What is he doing? He is often talking of the gopis. Why is he doing that? Our Prabhupada has not done so." But they never knew their Prabhupada. Who sang "Jaya Radha-Madhava Kunja-vihari" and many other such bhajans? He has done so, and he often recited four or five slokas of Sri Brahma-samhita, such as:
Venum kvanantam aravinda-dalayataksam
Kandarpa-koti- kamaniya vesesa-sobham
Govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami
["I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, who plays His transcendental flute. His eyes are like lotus flowers, He is decorated with peacock plumes, His bodily color resembles a fresh black cloud, and His bodily features are more beautiful than millions of cupids."
He also sang:
laksavrtesu surabhir abhipalayantam
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami
["I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, the first progenitor, who is tending the cows, yielding all desires, in abodes built with spiritual gems and surrounded by millions of purpose trees. He is always served with great reverence and affection by hundreds and thousands of goddesses of fortune (gopis)."He was very fond of such slokas, but to whom will he give them? I know that Pujyapada Gour Govinda Maharaja was one of the only qualified persons to hear. Some of Srila Swami Maharaja's other disciples used to say, "If you utter the name of a gopi, you will go to hell." I see that I have glorified the gopis from the beginning, and I have never fallen down. But why, from top to bottom, have they gone down? If they are not uttering the word gopi, why are they falling? It is because they are not glorifying the gopis; that is why they are falling down. This is the main reason. If anyone will actually follow my example, he will never fall down.
( Brahma-samhita. 1.2.234)]
Gour Govinda Maharaja very boldly gave proper teaching. I heard on one of his cassette tape recordings that, "Even if a person wears tilaka and large kanti-mala, five kilos of japa mala, saffron cloth, sandals and dor-kaupin (sannyasa undergarments), he isn't necessarily a Vaisnava. If one is engaged in politics, duplicity, hypocrisy and diplomacy, from where will his bhakti come? I do not like this. I do not want to be with such a person." It is because of this honest preaching that he was banned from going to Holland, Australia, Germany and other places. He was totally banned, but he told those who banned him, "You can ban me, or I can give up my life, but I cannot change my siddhanta as you are asking." So many Vaisnavas from Western countries were attracted to him. They rejected all other leaders and never wanted to hear from them. After the divine disappearance of Srila Swami Maharaja, some of his other disciples came to me and learned elevated topics like Brahma-samhita and so on. They were hearing my classes – only to defeat him. They did not come to learn, but only to defeat him. They had thought, "No one should go to him. They should come to me."
But this was impossible. Those who went to him, even as spies, became his followers; and this is also true in my case. Many spies of ISKCON came to me to find out, "What is he telling?" and many of those spies became totally mine.
They wanted to ban him totally, to stop him from preaching proper siddhanta, but he told them, "I must obey my Prabhupada." My ISKCON, and the idea of the present ISKCON leaders is different. My ISKCON is the guru-parampara of Krsna, Brahma, Narada, and so on. Gour Govinda Maharaja's conception was different from mine in certain ways, but it was also different from that of the other ISKCON leaders. When the ISKCON leaders put pressure on him and told him that all will boycott him, he remained within the institution. He was very bold, and for that reason he left his body in Mayapura. If he was like me, he could have done like me. If there will come a time that there is no bhakti in the Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti, I will not remain there. What would be the use? My purpose is to serve Radha and Krsna Conjugal. If it is not allowed, then why be in that bogus institution? The ISKCON established by Parama-pujyapada Srila Swami Maharaja is not the one of nowadays. Srila Swami Maharaja's ISKCON is "Krsna bhakti-rasa bhavita matih."* [see endnote] That is the real ISKCON.
It was for this reason – that he could not execute his service to his Gurudeva within the institution – that Pujyapada Gour Govinda Maharaja left his body in Mayapura, and he has told his followers at that time: "Try to be in the association of Narayana Maharaja; he is a pure devotee." He told this to his devotees, and that is why, not all, but all his prominent disciples have followed me. They came to me after his departure and began to weep, and I told them: "Don’t weep. I will help you as much as I can." That is why they are with me, and I am helping them in Krsna Consciousness. I want to increase their faith in his lotus feet, in our guru-parampara, and Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja.
I am finishing my class here, and now we will offer puspanjali. Everyone should first offer flowers to their own diksa-gurudeva, and then to others.
[*Endnote – Srila Prabhupada is quoted in the book Journey to Self-Discovery: "In another verse, Rupa Gosvami says, krsna-bhakti-rasa-bhavita matih kriyatau yadi kuto ’pi labhyate. I have translated the words Krsna consciousness from krsna-bhakti-rasa-bhavita. Here Rupa Gosvami advises, 'If Krsna consciousness is available, please purchase it immediately. Don’t delay.' It is a very nice thing." Also, in Vrndavana, March 13, 1974, Prabhupada stated: "Rupa Gosvami advised, krsna-bhakti-rasa-bhavita matih kriyatam yadi kuto ’pi labhyate. He advises that, 'If Krsna consciousness is available, you should purchase it. You should purchase it anywhere it is available.'" In Seattle, Washington, Oct. 4, 1968, Srila Prabhupada stated: "Krsna-bhakti-rasa-bhavita matih. Matih means intelligence or status of mind, that 'I’ll serve Krsna.' If you can purchase this status of mind anywhere, please immediately purchase it."]
Editorial advisors: Pujyapad Madhava Maharaja and Sripad Brajanatha dasa
Transcriber: Janaki dasi
Editor: Syamarani dasi
Typist: Anita dasi
HTML: Bhutabhavana dasa
[Website extra: To read a very nice biography of Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja, visit http://www.gopaljiu.org/Gurudeva/Gurudeva.htm