“I had not seen Jayapataka Swami in a preaching situation and did not know what to expect. He entered the packed Laguna Beach temple, with the beautiful Panca-tattva deities, and it felt as if the whole room was being flooded with sublime spiritual energy. The consciousness of everyone was being uplifted. There is a saying that when the tide comes in, all the boats rise. It was as if a tide of love for Srila Prabhupada and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was coming out of Maharaja’s heart, filling the temple room and elevating the consciousness of everyone there.”
“Srila Prabhupada raised the question, ‘Why do we call this building a temple and that building, an ordinary houses?’ He said, ‘In this house, we are living. And the next house, they are also living. So what is the difference? The difference is that here, Krishna is the center. Therefore it is temple. And next door, a house. That is the difference between house, ordinary house, and temple. This is also made of bricks and stones and wood, and that is also made of bricks and stones. They also live, they also cook, they also eat. Everything is the same, practically. But the difference is that there is no Krishna, and here is Krishna. That is the difference.” The temple is spiritual because everything is engaged in the service of the Lord. Even the physical body when fully engaged in the service of the Lord becomes spiritual. When we engage them in the service of the Lord, material things become spiritual. And conversely, if we want to use something spiritual which is meant for the service of the Lord—which is really everything that exists—for our sense gratification, it becomes material. So, Ravana kidnapped Sitadevi to enjoy her, but he didn’t get the spiritual Sita; he got the maya Sita.”
Giriraj Swami read and spoke from Srimad-Bhagavatam 9.10.20.
“Ravana is the personification of lust. All of us conditioned souls are afflicted by lust, anger, greed—the six enemies. So, externally we have enemies that we must contend with, and internally we also have enemies, such as these six. And the method for fighting both the internal and the external enemies is the same: We fight according to our ability, and we think of the Lord and depend on His mercy. Without the Lord’s mercy we cannot be successful in any endeavor, including fighting the internal and external enemies. This principle was not only espoused by our spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, but it was also practiced by him.”
rajas tamas ca sattvena
sattvam copasamena ca
etat sarvam gurau bhaktya
puruso hy anjasa jayet
Translation: One must conquer the modes of passion and ignorance by developing the mode of goodness, and then one must become detached from the mode of goodness by promoting oneself to the platform of suddha-sattva. All this can be automatically done if one engages in the service of the spiritual master with faith and devotion. In this way one can conquer the influence of the modes of nature.
Purport: Just by treating the root cause of an ailment, one can conquer all bodily pains and sufferings. Similarly, if one is devoted and faithful to the spiritual master, he can conquer the influence of sattva-guna, rajo-guna and tamo-guna very easily. Yogis and jnanas practice in many ways to conquer the senses, but the bhakta immediately attains the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead through the mercy of the spiritual master. Yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasado. If the spiritual master is favorably inclined, one naturally receives the mercy of the Supreme Lord, and by the mercy of the Supreme Lord one immediately becomes transcendental, conquering all the influences of sattva-guna, rajo-guna and tamo-guna within this material world. This is confirmed in Bhagavad-gita (sa gunan samatityaitan brahma-bhuyaya kalpate). If one is a pure devotee acting under the directions of the guru, one easily gets the mercy of the Supreme Lord and thus becomes immediately situated on the transcendental platform. This is explained in the next verse.
yasya saksad bhagavati
martyasad-dhih srutam tasya
Translation: The spiritual master should be considered to be directly the Supreme Lord because he gives transcendental knowledge for enlightenment. Consequently, for one who maintains the material conception that the spiritual master is an ordinary human being, everything is frustrated. His enlightenment and his Vedic studies and knowledge are like the bathing of an elephant.
Purport: It is recommended that one honor the spiritual master as being on an equal status with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Saksad dharitvena samasta-sastraih. This is enjoined in every scripture. Acaryam mam vijaniyat. One should consider the acarya to be as good as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In spite of all these instructions, if one considers the spiritual master an ordinary human being, one is doomed. His study of the Vedas and his austerities and penances for enlightenment are all useless, like the bathing of an elephant. An elephant bathes in a lake quite thoroughly, but as soon as it comes on the shore it takes some dust from the ground and strews it over its body. Thus there is no meaning to the elephant’s bath. One may argue by saying that since the spiritual master’s relatives and the men of his neighborhood consider him an ordinary human being, what is the fault on the part of the disciple who considers the spiritual master an ordinary human being? This will be answered in the next verse, but the injunction is that the spiritual master should never be considered an ordinary man. One should strictly adhere to the instructions of the spiritual master, for if he is pleased, certainly the Supreme Personality of Godhead is pleased. Yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasado yasyaprasadan na gatih kuto ’pi.
esa vai bhagavan saksat
loko yam manyate naram
Translation: The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krsna, is the master of all other living entities and of the material nature. His lotus feet are sought and worshiped by great saintly persons like Vyasa. Nonetheless, there are fools who consider Lord Krsna an ordinary human being.
Purport: The example of Lord Krsna’s being the Supreme Personality of Godhead is appropriate in regard to understanding the spiritual master. The spiritual master is called sevaka-bhagavan, the servitor Personality of Godhead, and Krsna is called sevya-bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead who is to be worshiped. The spiritual master is the worshiper God, whereas the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, is the worshipable God. This is the difference between the spiritual master and the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
“Devotees are infused with bhakti-sakti, and Krishna consciousness comes out through every pore in their body. Just as someone can get a person’s disease by eating the remnants of his or her food, because devotees are infected by Krishna consciousness, by coming in touch with them—through the dust of their feet, the water that has washed their feet, or the remnants of their food—one can get that infection. And we want that infection.
bhakta-pada-dhuli ara bhakta-pada-jala
‘The dust of the feet of a devotee, the water that has washed the feet of a devotee, and the remnants of food left by a devotee are three very powerful substances.’ (Cc Antya 16.60)
“It is by the association of devotees that one comes to Krishna consciousness. And even after developing love for Krishna, the association of devotees is still most essential.
krsna-bhakti-janma-mula haya ‘sadhu-sanga’
krsna-prema janme, tenho punah mukhya anga
‘The root cause of devotional service to Lord Krsna is association with advanced devotees. Even when one’s dormant love for Krsna awakens, association with devotees is still most essential.’ (Cc Madhya 22.84)”
“Srila Prabhupada, at the age of seventy, and at the order of his guru maharaja, crossed the ocean and sat down under a tree and chanted Hare Krishna. He said that anyone could take Krishna consciousness to anywhere in the world by the same method. You just go to a park in the center of the town, sit down under a tree and chant Hare Krishna. And—this is Srila Prabhupada’s own words—’Immediately people will think, Who is this crazy fellow sitting and chanting in the town square? And they will come around to find out about this crazy fellow.’ Then you tell them about Bhagavad-gita and Krishna consciousness. So, this is continuing by Srila Prabhupada’s mercy and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mercy. All we have to do is take it and distribute it. This is the mission of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu—that you should taste the nectar of the holy name, taste love of God and distribute it—share it with others.
“The rabbi said that sometimes he felt depleted. So I asked him, ‘Which activities drain you, and which nourish you? Maybe you can focus on those.’ He replied, ‘This might sound odd, but when I minister to people who are dying, I enter into a very sacred, spiritual space.’ And I could relate to that. A person’s leaving his or her body is a momentous event—especially if the person is God conscious. It can also be a fearsome situation. If the person identifies with the body and has been sinful, it can be terrifying. But the time of death is the most crucial period in one’s life. It is life’s final exam, and to help someone pass his or her life’s final exam is the best service you can render.”
Among the many moonlike devotees of Srila Prabhupada, Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja shines brilliantly in the firmament, illuminating the hearts and lives of those who come into his light.
Today we are observing the twentieth anniversary of Maharaja’s divine departure, on Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura’s appearance day in Mayapur, February 9, 1996. I had left Mayapur earlier that day, after placing my head on Maharaja’s lotus feet and receiving his affectionate blessing. As I learned later, that afternoon Bhaktarupa Prabhu and two senior lady devotees came to meet Maharaja in his room, and they inquired of him about Krishna—why Lord Chaitanya made his base in Puri, what was the relationship between Lord Jagannatha and Vrindavan. Maharaja enthusiastically narrated the pastimes of Krishna and how Krishna, having been in separation from Radharani, assumed the form of Jagannatha. Because of Maharaja’s exalted Krishna consciousness, he felt transcendental ecstasy remembering and narrating Krishna’s pastimes. And in this case he became overwhelmed, and he excused himself, saying that he was unable to speak more. He lay back on his bed and, gazing at a picture of his worshipable Deity Gopal Jiu, while devotees chanted the holy names, in a deep state of Krishna consciousness, he left this world.
In Srimad-Bhagavatam (4.28.47) Srila Prabhupada discusses the departure of the spiritual master: “[W]hen the mortal body of the spiritual master expires, his disciples should cry exactly as the queen cries when the king leaves his body. However, the disciple and spiritual master are never separated, because the spiritual master always keeps company with the disciple as long as the disciple follows strictly the instructions of the spiritual master. This is called the association of vani (words). Physical presence is called vapuh. As long as the spiritual master is physically present, the disciple should serve the physical body of the spiritual master, and when the spiritual master is no longer physically existing, the disciple should serve the instructions of the spiritual master.”
Devotees cried for Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja when he left, and we should cry for him now—for his mercy—and be eager to hear from him, as he instructed: “All sadhus speak through their books. Jiva Gosvami, Rupa Gosvami, Sanatana Gosvami, Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, and Srila Prabhupada all say that they speak through books. . . . This is our Vaishnava procedure. But you should see him. . . . You may say, ‘Oh, I have read their books, I have their association.’ . . . You cannot understand what they have said merely by reading their books.”
Once, when Maharaja came to Mauritius, after he gave a class at the ISKCON Vedic Farm in Bon Accueil, I mentioned to him the verses in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya 22.128–129) about the five most potent forms of devotional service:
sadhu-sanga, nama-kirtana, bhagavata-sravana
mathura-vasa, sri-murtira sraddhaya sevana
“One should associate with devotees, chant the holy name of the Lord, hear Srimad-Bhagavatam, reside at Mathura, and worship the Deity with faith and veneration.
sakala-sadhana-srestha ei panca anga
krsna-prema janmaya ei pancera alpa sanga
“These five limbs of devotional service are the best of all. Even a slight performance of these five awakens love for Krsna.”
I told him how much I cherished mathura-vasa, residing in Mathura (or Vrindavan). Maharaja looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Kamsa also resided in Mathura, but still he was a demon.” Immediately I realized that yes, a person can reside in Mathura, but he or she must also give up the demonic mentality of wanting to be the Supreme—the proprietor, the controller, and the enjoyer. Externally one may reside in Mathura, but internally he or she must do the work of purifying the heart.
Maharaja spoke these words to me with great love and compassion. I felt that he was seeing straight into my polluted heart and acting to purify it. He instructed me that the goal was not to reside in Mathura but to actually develop the consciousness of a devotee. And we can see from this example that the direct, personal association of a sadhu is required to understand the real import, or purport, of the books we read, of scripture.
The sadhus speaking through their books “are very, very merciful,” Maharaja said, “but you should follow the proper path. If you are intelligent you will understand how they are still here, not only in the form of their books, but also they are here. You should see them. . . . If you can get his mercy then you can see him. Otherwise, by your own effort and perception you cannot see him. No, no, no. You always think that you are drasta, the seer, and that the sadhu is drsta, the one to be seen. Everyone is like this. They think they are the seers. But it is just the reverse. You are to be seen and they are the seer.” And when a devotee asked him, “How are we seen by the sadhu—by our service?” Maharaja replied, “Yes. The sadhu is the seer. If he showers his mercy upon you, he sees you. If you receive that merciful glance then you are very fortunate.”
Part of Maharaja’s mission was to show that everything is in Srila Prabhupada’s books. He said that they are like an ocean filled with gems and that to gather those gems one must dive very deep. Maharaja’s own books include talks based on Srila Prabhupada’s books, revealing many beautiful gems there and showing how one can get the highest realizations of Krishna consciousness from them—sambandha, abhideya, and prayojana: what our relationship with Krishna is, how to act in that relationship, and how to actually realize life’s ultimate goal, pure love for Krishna, krsna-prema. We should also dive deep into Maharaja’s books and mine the priceless gems he has kept for us there.
After Maharaja’s passing I was unable to visit Mayapur for some years, and when I finally returned I was most eager to visit the newly constructed samadhis of my dear departed godbrothers—Tamal Krishna Goswami, Sridhar Swami, Bhakti Tirtha Swami, and Gour Govinda Swami. When I offered my obeisance at Srila Gour Govinda Swami’s samadhi, I felt that he gave me a direct instruction: “Do not judge others. You do not know what devotion they have in their hearts.” In other words, I am not the seer of the sadhus; I am meant to be seen by them.
On this occasion, I pray to Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja that by his grace he always keep me under his shelter, instruct me and rectify me without reservation or hesitation, and engage me in service to him, Srila Prabhupada, our parampara, and their mission.
Your—and his—eternal servant,
“Locana Dasa Thakura says, parama karuna, pahu dui jana, nitai gauracandra—these two brothers, Lord Nityananda and Lord Caitanya, are supremely merciful. Saba avatara, sara siromani—They are the essence of all incarnations. And kevala ananda-kanda—the method they teach is simply joyful. But the author further explains, visaya chadiya, se rase majiya—in order to become fully absorbed in the nectarean mellows of this blissful process, one must give up sense gratification. Now, someone might think, ‘I thought that there were no conditions, that the process is simply joyful.’ But the truth is that sense gratification which works against the success of devotional service is best given up.”