CHAPTER: ‘Coming to Srila Prabhupada’ by His Holiness Gour Govinda Swami
I was born in Orissa in a Vaishnava family. From childhood, we knew hare krsna-kirtana, Bhagavata, and Radha-Krishna deities. We knew many Vaishnavas, even disciples of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati, in Orissa. Now many have passed away, but there are still a few that are very old. I know them. At the time of my leaving home I had everything – family, wife, seven children, property, and a job. I was a government high school teacher earning a thousand rupees per month. But I gave up everything in search of a real spiritual master.
When I was teaching in school, it was just material education. But what to do? I had to teach that way or else my superior would dismiss me. I taught English, mathematics, and geography. After sometime something inside me objected. I decided, “No I shall not teach all this nonsense. Let me give up this job. I must teach real education that is spiritual.
At last, I gave it up. I knew I had to take shelter of a pure devotee who could give me cent percent Krishna.” So I went from the Himalayas to Kanyakumari. I met many sadhus, yogis, Mayavadis and Vaishnavas and talked with them, but I was not convinced. My plan was, after traveling throughout all of India I would go to Vrindavan. I was confident that at last Krishna would shower his mercy in his dear land.
When I arrived there, I appeared to be a wandering sadhu. I had not taken diksa from any guru, but I was wearing saffron-colored cloth. There are many temples and ashrams in Vrindavan; I was going from one to another, staying a night in each place.
Once when in Raman Reti, I saw a sign, “International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Founder-Acharya A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada”. I saw many foreign devotees with shaved heads, sikhas, and bead bags. I entered and asked to meet Prabhupada. Fortunately he was there. It was difficult to meet him because he was often traveling throughout the world.
It was 1974. There was no temple in Vrindavan. There were just a few cottages in which some of the devotees stayed. Grhasthas rented houses outside. Some devotees told me I had to speak with Prabhupada’s secretary in order to see him. I paid dandavats to him and asked to meet Prabhupada. He asked why I wanted to talk with him. I said that Prabhupada was such a great mahatma and I had a few questions to ask him.
It was midday. Prabhupada had eaten his lunch already and was sitting alone in his room on a chair. Brahmananda Swami told him that a sadhu was seeking his darshan. Prabhupada agreed, so I went in and paid obeisances. He asked me a couple of questions about where I was from and what my name was. I had already changed my karmi name. Gauranga Mahaprabhu and my family deities, Radha-Gopinath or Gopal Jiu, had been very dear to me since childhood, so I had changed my name to Gour Gopalananda Das. Then Prabhupada asked me, “Have you taken sannyasa?” I said, “No”, and then immediately Prabhupada said, “I will give you sannyasa.” I was seeking such a mahatma who knew my heart, so I was greatly satisfied. Krishna is so merciful that I met such a pure devotee. I surrendered myself and Prabhupada allowed me to stay.
Although I knew many Vaishnavas, I searched out guru, understanding it to be a serious matter. Within a few months, Krishna fulfilled all my desires. If one is eager, then Krishna will fulfill one’s desires. (Darshan, April 1989)
Source: Gopal Jiu Publications
Jun 25, 2022
Radhapriya Chawla, ISKCON Toronto Communications
Jun 19, 2022
Nrsimhananda das, Devotee Care Committee Member NA