Chapter 14 – Gour Gopalananda Meets His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

So I was looking for a real guru—sad-guru—to take up sannyasa and preach. When Srila Prabhupada first saw me I paid my obeisances and he just looked at me and said, ‘Have you take sannyasa?’ and I said, “No.” and he said, “I will give you sannyasa.” That was the first thing! I immediately surrendered because what is in my heart he spoke. So I understood he is my guru, yes, he knows my heart. It is mercy only, causeless mercy. Yes, Prabhupada is just giving [mercy]; you just have to catch it. We say it is like hanging ropes.
—His Divine Grace Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja

Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja: In Vrndavana, I was moving, moving. In Vrndavana I was moving, I spent one day in the one matha just observing things, what was going on, what is that. Who is there? What sadhu-Vaisnava? So in this way I was spending one day in one matha and another day in another matha. There are so many mathas, mandiras in Vrndavana, so full, so many.

Gour Gopalananda entered Vrndavana in the last part of 1974; he would visit different asramas, spending a day here, a night there. He would just observe what was going on in the different asramas and then he would move on. Then one day he was traveling through, the Ramana-reti area and he found a sign, a large sign, which read:

International Society for Krsna Consciousness
Founder Acarya His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada

When he saw this he thought; “What is this? International society! Let me go and see what it is,” The temple was not yet built—only the foundation was laid—and there were thatched cottages and devotees were living in these temporary dwellings. The only house there was the one where Srila Prabhupada lived. That day he went looking and he found ISKCON.

The International Society for Krsna Consciousness (ISKCON) is a spiritual movement meant to bring about a change in society at large through the medium of chanting Hare Krsna and following the four regulative principles: no meat eating, no illicit sex, no gambling and no intoxication. Its founder and leader, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada (1896-1977), is a disciple of His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja (1874-1937). Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati was the founder of the Gaudiya Math preaching mission and an acaryas in the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya-sampradaya. It was on the order of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada Maharaja that Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada went to the western countries at the age of 69 (the age when most people have retired) and began preaching the glorious message of Mahaprabhu. As a consequence of his preaching the ISKCON mission began.

After successfully preaching and establishing many temples in the western countries His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada took his western disciples to India and began opening temples there. It was at the construction site of one of these temples, the Krsna-Balarama temple, that Gour Gopalananda met His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada and his disciples. The disciples had shaven heads with sikha, they wore kanthi-mala around their necks and they chanted on japa-mala (all these symbols of Vaisnavism were only too well known to Gour Gopalananda, as he had grown up in these surroundings). They wore saffron cloth, and when he entered the compound one western devotee gave him a Back to Godhead magazine. He looked over the pages and found what he had been searching for: Srimad-Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita and Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, which he was reading when he left family life. As he read through the Back to Godhead magazine. Gour Gopalananda felt as though his prayers had been answered; Krsna had led him to the right place.

Bhagavata dasa: …Then one devotee gave him a BTG magazine. He looked at that BTG and began to read Prabhupada’s article/lecture about Gaura and Gopala. When he saw the picture of Prabhupada and read the lecture, then he could understand, “This is my guru.” He asked to see Prabhupada but they were reluctant to allow him because Gour Gopalananda was just wandering everywhere and he was living with simple clothes so he looked like some ordinary person. No one could recognize him. Similarly Bhagavatam describes how no one could recognize Jada Bharata. By looking at Gour Gopalananda no one could understand him, they thought he was an ordinary man. They could not see that he was a greatly advanced Vaisnava.

Krsna consciousness is more than another sectarian faith. It is a technical science of spiritual values that is fully described in the Vedic literature of ancient India, and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu had His chief associates, the Gosvamis of Vrndavana, expand upon this technical science. The aim of Krsna consciousness movement is to acquaint all people of the world with these universal principles of God-realization so that they may derive the highest benefits of spiritual understanding, unity and peace.

The Vedas recommend that in the present age the most effective means of achieving self-realization is the holy name of the Lord, Krsna. Following the Vedic recommendation, the members of ISKCON chant Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Hare Hare/Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. The sublime chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra gradually awakens one’s dormant love of God.

Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja: So I was searching for this thing and it is here. So I said, “All right, let me enter into this and see what is going on.” So I entered into it, so many white devotees, shaved head, chanting Hare Krsna. Saffron robes, I thought they looked very nice with their robes.

One of the devotees gave me a copy of this Back to Godhead magazine, and I looked at it, because I was searching for three things; Bhagavata [Srimad-Bhagavatam], Krsna and Mahaprabhu. “Where it is?” I said, “O! O, yes it is! I found it—here it is. I have found it in Vrndavana!” I thought of, yes, “After completing all parts of India, in Vrndavana, the dear land of Krsna. Krsna may fulfill my desire there.” So my last item was coming to Vrndavana, and Krsna fulfilled my desire. “O here! Yes! Bhagavata, Krsna and Mahaprabhu. O! What I searching for is here! I have found it! I’ve found it!” Then I enquired….

Gour Gopalananda enquired, “Where is the Founder-Acarya, is he here or not?” Fortunately he was in. he asked, “Can I meet him?” He was told, “You first meet the secretary.” His secretary at that time was Brahmananda Swami. Brahmananda would sit in the front room and Srila Prabhupada was in the next room. So first he had to meet the secretary, and then, with the secretary’s permission, he would be allowed to meet Srila Prabhupada; otherwise he could not get to meet him. So he went there, he paid his obeisances, and he said, “Swamiji will you please make some arrangements so that I may meet the Founder-Acarya His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami?” Gour Gopalananda said, “I want to have darsana and a few words, such a great mahatma. If I meet him, some good fortune may come to me. Mahatma-darsana is available because of good fortune; otherwise no one could meet such a mahatma. If good fortune comes to you, you can meet such a mahatma. So if a mahatma is available why should I depart from that? Please help me.”

So Gour Gopalananda paid his dandavats repeatedly, and said, “Please help me, please help me.” The secretary replied, “For what purpose?”

Gour Gopalananda said, “Just to meet and talk with him and to hear something from him, a mahatma, yes. I have some questions I want ask him. Will you please kindly make some arrangements so that I may meet him?”

Gour Gopalananda was wearing saffron-colored clothing, looking like a wandering sadhu. So the secretary thought that perhaps he might really be a sadhu.

It was midday; Srila Prabhupada had just taken his lunch and was sitting alone in his room, reclining in his chair. Brahmananda Swami went in to say to him, “This sadhu has come and wants to meet you.” Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja many years later said, “…It was the Paramatma’s prompting, Krsna’s arrangement.” Immediately Srila Prabhupada said, “All right, allow him to come in.” So Gour Gopalananda went inside. Srila Prabhupada was sitting by himself in a chair and Brahmananda Swami sat outside in the anteroom.

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