Memories of Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja

by Srila Bhaktisvarup Damodar Maharaja

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South France summer of 1994

This glorification was spoken by Srila Bhaktisvarup Damodar Maharaja at Gour Govinda Maharaja's disappearance festival, Mayapur 2006:

My association with Gour Govinda Maharaja was primarily in 1977 when I was with Srila Prabhupada in Bhubaneswar for laying the foundation stone of the temple. I saw Maharaja staying in the hut, which is still there. He was serving Srila Prabhupada by doing translation work. He was humility personified. I always liked him, but our responsibilities were in different fields. So we didn’t get to often meet. But in the GBC meetings we always sat together. I invited him to Manipur in 1981 when we opened a small temple and installed the deities there. We arranged for his ticket a one hour flight from Calcutta. I was told it was the first airplane journey in his life. We organized a Krishna conscious debate competition between students and I requested Maharaja to be a judge. The subject was how Krishna consciousness is the only solution to the many problems of this world. He was very happy to be a judge.

We had a very informal relationship. When I was the GBC in France he came there a number of times. He liked South France -- with its climate, landscape, architecture, geography, and the mountains on the Spanish border, it is very attractive. We had a small preaching project there -- a quiet place far away from the cities -- situated in the forest by a small lake. One evening we had dinner together and I asked Maharaja, “It seems like you have some difficulty with your body. You cannot walk freely. Doesn’t this journey give you some problem?”

He replied, “So long as I can preach; I can speak on Srimad Bhagavatam, it gives me unlimited pleasure, unlimited happiness.”

I told him that he had been given some special blessings by Srila Prabhupada. I admire your courage and your determination in order to carry out Prabhupada’s order in order to please him. Our exchanges were very informal. When we joined at the festival for Srila Prabhupada’s centennial in 1996. The year that Maharaja passed away, he did a very good festival in Bhubaneswar. I didn’t go to the festival, but we were informed that Maharaja was speaking like a lion at the pandal.

He came to the GBC meeting late. The very day that he passed away, I came from the top floor downstairs and we met halfway. I said, “Maharaja how are you doing? I heard you had a wonderful festival in Bhubaneswar.” He was laughing joyfully and looked very healthy. He was going up the steps to the GBC room. We had a friendly chat and I went downstairs for a meeting. He had a separate subcommittee meeting so we didn’t sit together that day in the GBC.

Later after the meetings were over, I was in Nabadwip. Some of Maharaja’s disciples had brought his car up to Mayapur. They parked it at my place in Nabadwip. The driver of the car came to me that evening and told me, “Our Guru Maharaja seems to be having some heart problem; I want to take the car. However, he had lost the keys to the car. He was running here and there looking for the keys and was in a very depressed sorrowful mood. He said that Gour Govinda Maharaja was sitting unmoving in his bed and may leave his body. Finally the keys were found and I came with him to Mayapur in a hurry to see Maharaja. When we arrived we found that he had left his body and was in the room surrounded by many devotees. That moment was very painful. We didn’t expect that Maharaja would depart so soon.

One can say many things about Maharaja. He was a greatly advanced soul. One of the most qualities that I remember of Maharaja was his humility and his great attachment and determination to execute the orders Srila Prabhupada gave him. Following Prabhupada’s instruction he was continuously translating his books from English into Oriya. Because of his work, most of Prabhupada’s books are available in Oriya. These books are a very big source of inspiration for the Oriya devotees. When I’m traveling around the world today it’s very wonderful to find so many devotees reading the books, beautiful printed magazines, and email magazines that the devotees at Gopal Jiu Publications have been producing based on Maharaja’s lectures. These are an important source of inspiration for many, even for those who never met Maharaja. Just by reading these books they get inspired. Maharaja’s disciples who are carrying out his desire to make these lectures available are giving a very important contribution to our Krishna consciousness movement.

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South France summer of 1994

We are very happy that our Guru Maharaja Srila Prabhupada produced wonderful great souls like Gour Govinda Maharaja. All of us have to leave this world one by one. In the last few years we have lost many of our godbrothers like Sridhar Maharaja, last year Bhakti Tirtha Maharaja, just before that Tamal Krishna Maharaja and many others. Try to see that life in this material world is very temporary. Therefore, as we saw in the video [of Gour Govinda Maharaja shown just before this talk], Maharaja was saying that we have to cry for Krishna. If, in this lifetime, we can develop this culture of crying for Krishna and the blessings of guru. If we develop this culture and culture of humility and 100 % dependence on the blessings of the spiritual master and the supreme lord and the vaishnavas and vaishnavis we can make the best of this temporary human form of life. That way someday by the blessings of guru and Krishna we can go back to godheard. I’m very happy that so many sincere souls are assembled here this evening. Maharaja left on the appearance day of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Prabhupada. We are certain that Gour Govinda Maharaja got all of the blessings of our Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Prabhupada and Krishna. Gopal was very dear to Gour Govinda Maharaja. They are making a very nice memorial for Gour Govinda Maharaja at his birthplace. We would like to invite everyone to come there. If you come to Jagannath Puri, it’s only about a three hour drive from there. We would like to thank everyone for this program.

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