Chapter 15 – Sunday 15th September 1974 at Midday

Gour Gopalananda went in and first offered his obeisances to Srila Prabhupada, who then began asking him questions. He asked, “What is your name? Where are you from, do you have a family?” etc. Gour Gopalananda told him that he was a wandering sadhu and Srila Prabhupada looked at him and asked, “Have you taken sannyasa?” He said, “No.” then Srila Prabhupada said immediately, “I will give you sannyasa.” Then Gour Gopalananda thought, “He knows my heart; I am searching for a sadhu, a Vaisnava-sannyasi, of whom I will take shelter and take sannyasa. He has said, ‘I will give you sannyasa.’’’ Gour Gopalananda immediately knew, “O, it is the Paramatma’s [prompting], what I am looking for, now is here. Yes I have found it now. I have got it now; this is Krsna’s arrangement.”

Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja: How can we find our guru? What is your inside he’ll speak. You see. At first sight I was so much attracted to Srila Prabhupada and he could know my heart. Then and there I surrendered! The date was Sunday 15th September 1974 at midday!

Gour Gopalananda had left home with that intention, that he must take up sannyasa from a bona fide person—sad-guru, to whom he would surrender and who would give him sannyasa. That was what he was searching for, and now he had found it.

Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja: You see, that is always there. Prabhupada said, ‘All right, stay here.’ I said, ‘I surrender, I want shelter. Please give me shelter.’ And Prabhupada said, ‘All right, you may stay here.’

Nowhere to Stay

At that time the temple president was Guru dasa; he did not allow Gour Gopalananda dasa to sleep in the compound. Gour Gopalananda tried to explain to the president that Srila Prabhupada had said it was all right, but he said, “No, no, no, you are not allowed—you will have to stay elsewhere.” Close by was a Gaudiya Math temple; Gour Gopalananda went there and spent the night. Early the next morning at 3.00 a.m. he awoke, took his bath and went to mangala-arati. He would take his bath early in the morning and then go to the temple. This went on for some days.
Then one day Gour Gopalananda dasa explained his situation to Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada explained to Gour Gopalananda, “Thieves entered the compound previously and stole building materials and other items; that is why the management is doing like that, do not take it personally, be patient.” The management were way of newcomers only because of the thefts that had taken place recently. Then Srila Prabhupada spoke to the managers and said, “O yes, allow him to sleep here.” Then Gour Gopalananda was allowed to stay in the ISKCON compound, but only after two or three days.

Oh, So Sweet Feast Today

At that time Gour Gopalananda was doing a variety of services. He was cleaning the toilets, cleaning the pots (“and very large pots too!” he commented), cooking capatis and also cooking for the devotees. He would also carry big buckets of water. When Gour Gopalananda began cooking for the devotees they would say, “O, so sweet feast today! Who has cooked?” “This impersonalist sannyasa has cooked,” was the answer. “O, so sweet today, how sweet; we have never tasted anything like that.” Every day they would say this.

Gour Gopalananda was dressed as a sadhu and he had a completely shaved head, no sikha—therefore the devotees thought he was a mayavadi-saynnyasi—an impersonalist. They did not have any idea of his great Vaisnava background. Al they knew was that when he cooked they would experience a wonderfully sweet flavor. (Many years later His Divine Grace reminisced and said, “They thought that I was an impersonalist sannyasa…,” then he would laugh.)

After about a week, Gour Gopalananda changed into dhoti and kurta and began to grow a sikha. But he did not tell anyone of his family background, his great Vaisnava background. He said nothing; he just wanted to serve. Many thought that Srila Prabhupada had converted this impernalist into a Vaisnava and Gour Gopalananda did not try to change their opinion. He said nothing; he had found his spiritual master and was only interested in serving him. What others thought of him was of no interest to Gour Gopalananda.

The Hindi Translation Begin

Gour Gopalananda and Srila Prabhupada generally spoke to one another in Hindi, and one day Srila Prabhupada asked Gour Gopalananda to translate his books into Hindi, Gour Gopalananda replied that his mother tongue was Oriya, but Srila Prabhupada said, “You speak nice Hindi.” He then requested his secretary to give him a Back to Godhead magazine and asked him to translate a part of one article into Hindi. This Gour Gopalananda did; it took about half an hour, and when he had finished he showed it to Srila Prabhupada, who then asked him to read it out aloud, which he did. Srila Prabhupada was very pleased and impressed with this and said to Gour Gopalananda, “You can translate my books into Hindi!”

At that stage the Hindi translation of Srila Prabhupada’s books had not begun. Gour Gopalananda was the first person to begin this task, and he began that very day! Srila Prabhupada said, “I will give you everything that you need—a room, pen and paper, desk and lamp, whatever you need. Now you translate my books into Hindi.”

Then the local devotees protested, “What is this? A room is available for him and we cannot get a room.” Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja said in regard to this, “It is always there, I tolerated everything. So miraculous, so wonderful. It was all Prabhupada’s mercy.”

Gour Gopalananda’s Computer Begins

At this time, Gour Gopalananda dasa also began his note taking. He had done this when he was studying, but now his note taking took on a different dimension, as he was making notes on the words of his spiritual master and of the previous acaryas.

On the 29th of March 1994, Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja spoke about his notes in private to his secretary. The secretary asked him when he had begun his ‘computer’. He used this term for all the notes he had taken from his study of the books of the acaryas and of Srila Prabhupada’s books. His computer was notebooks, exercise books, and local Indian-style notebooks, very old. He jokingly referred to them as his ‘computer’ because when he was at the Governing Body Commission meetings in 1994, most of the GBC members had computers. All Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja had was his very old Orissan notebooks wrapped in a piece of saffron cloth.

Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja said that from the first day he entered the Krsna-Balarama grounds in Vrndavana he began to make his notes, (i.e. his computer began) and also he looked up those points in the books of the acaryas and Gosvamis from which Srila Prabhupada had accessed his information. In Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja’s own words, he called himself a very ‘greedy fellow’ because he not only made notes from Srila Prabhupada’s books but also from the reference sources which Srila Prabhupada drew from to make his points in his purports. Starting in 1974, “From Srila Prabhupada’s source I would look up the source of his information. For one line in Srila Prabhupada’s purports there is an enormous purport, [to it] so I would research the point from Srila Prabhupada’s purports to where the acaryas have spoken about this particular point.”

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