Chapter 19 – The First Visit Back to Bhubaneswar

The First Visit Back to Bhubaneswar

After his initiation, Gour Govinda dasa was sent to the land in Bhubaneswar, to that famous place which is glorified in the Vedas and writings of the acaryas, Orissa, with an American devotee named Bhagavata dasa. In days of old Bhubaneswar was called the city of temples.

At that time, the donated land was jungle, a very out-of-the-way place. The donated land was undeveloped jungle—and so was all the land around for kilometers and kilometers. The area was infested with snakes, spiders, scorpions and ghosts; no one would go there. Across the road was the Nayapalli Village; this road happened to be National Highway No.5, which stretched from Calcutta to Madras, and passed by the small village of Bhubaneswar-Nayapalli. Bhagavata dasa was not too keen to say there; he felt that no one could stay there.

Bhagavata dasa:… Then Prabhupada told me that Gour Govinda was going to Orissa to preach. Prabhupada asked me I would like to go with him. So we packed up and went with Gour Govinda to Bhubaneswar. When the guru orders, you go…

An Out of the Way Place

The Bhubaneswar land was such an out of the way place that even the rickshaw wallahs would not go there. Bhagavata said, “No one can stay here, the dacoits will come even in the daylight and kill us. We can’t stay here; let us back.” But Gour Govinda dasa replied that Srila Prabhupada had told us to stay here. What was he saying? Did he want to go back and defy the order of the spiritual master? Then Gour Govinda dasa said to him, “You may go back but I will not go. I will stay here.” Then bhagavata said, “No! No! No! You are a brahmacari, you have only recently joined the mission of Srila Prabhupada; you are a neophyte. You can’t stay here alone. I will not allow you.”

Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja: I came here (Bhubaneswar); first, Srila Prabhupada sent this bhagavata with me. “O, what is this place? In board daylight the dacoits will kill you here. No one can stay here baba!” he told me. “No, no, nobody can stay here, it is a completely out of the way place. Even in the daytime no rickshaw wallah comes here, no!” Completely, he said, “Ohh, I can’t stay!” then he forced me, “No one can stay.”

But Prabhupada said that we have to come, stay here, do this thing. How are you saying? That no one can stay? No one can stay, but how Prabhupada has sent us there! All right, you may go but I want to stay, I’ll stay here. I was a brahmacari at that time. He said, “No; brahmacari is not allowed to stay alone. I won’t allow you to stay alone.” He told me. He forced me. What to do? He was a senior devotee, I am recently joining for two months only. What could I say?

Hyderabad and Srila Prabhupada

Thus, under the advice of bhagavata dasa, Gour Govinda dasa reluctantly left the Bhubaneswar land. Previously, while bhagavata dasa had been in Calcutta, he had arranged for two train coaches to take the devotees from Calcutta, after the Mayapura festival of 1975, to Hyderabad, where the next festival would be. Bhagavata knew that the train was coming and they would get on for free. So they waited for that train to Hyderabad.

Gour Govinda dasa wanted to explain the situation in Bhubaneswar to Srila Prabhupada and the fact that he had not wanted to leave but was persuaded to by bhagavata dasa. He felt compelled to go back to the Bhubaneswar land. Srila Prabhupada had asked him to go there and develop the property and he wanted to carry out the order to the best of his ability despite the dacoits, the wild animals, the isolation and all the other difficulties.

“…Please Give Me Sannyasa…”

When they arrived at Hyderabad, Gour Govinda Dasa, explained everything to Srila Prabhupada. At that time Srila Prabhupada had been thinking of giving him sannyasa, and if he had been a sannyasi he would not have had to listen to Bhagavata dasa, he could have stayed on the Bhubaneswar property alone and begun the preaching work of Srila Prabhupada in Orissa.

So he immediately asked Srila Prabhupada, “Please give me sannyasa.” Srila Prabhupada said, “All right, I will give you sannyasa in Vrndavana.”

Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja: At that time a festival was going on in Hyderabad. Prabhupada was there, grand festival, many devotees are going and some were going by train, some reserve coaches were going from Howrah to Hyderabad, passing through Bhubaneswar. So we got into it and went to Hyderabad; there I met Srila Prabhupada. Prabhupada asked, “What is that?” I said, “This bhagavata didn’t allow me to stay and he didn’t want to stay there. Nobody can stay there it is such an out-of-the-way place.” He told me this thing, “Brahmacari is not allowed.” “So, Srila Prabhupada, when will you give me sannyasa?” At the first meeting he had told me he would give me sannyasa. I asked, “When will you give me sannyasa?” He said, “O, are you coming to Vrndavana for the opening?” “Yes.” “So there I will give you sannyasa.”

When I take sannyasa now I can move alone. Now this bhagavata can’t threaten me.

Bhagavata dasa: We went on the train to Hyderabad. Prabhupada saw us there and he called Gour Govinda over and said, “Why are you here?” He told Gour Govinda to come and see him the next day and explain. The next morning we went to Prabhupada’s room and Gour Govinda explained everything. Then all of a sudden Gour Govinda turned to Prabhupada and said, “Prabhupada, I want to take sannyasa” Prabhupada looked at him. There were two or three sannyasis as well as several Governing Body Commissioners in the room, some big or so-called big devotees. At that time many of the leaders were against new Indian devotees taking sannyasa. Prabhupada said, “So you want to take sannyasa. Let me tell you what it means to take sannyasa.” Prabhupada explained the qualifications to take sannyasa. “The sannyasis can never have any sex desire. He should never even think of a woman for one second. A sannyasa is fearless, he’ll go anywhere to preach, no matter how dangerous it is. A sannyasa never thinks he is alone, but always knows that Krsna and guru are with him.” After Prabhupada had explained all these things, he just looked at Gour Govinda and said, “Now, do you understand?” Gour Govinda said, “Yes.” Then Prabhupada said, “All right, let’s take prasada.” And that was it. He never said yes and he never said no.

Then I remember going into Srila Prabhupada’s secretary’s room where all the sannyasis and GBC’s had gathered. They were all saying, “Did Prabhupada say yes or did Prabhupada say no? What did Prabhupada say? We don’t understand.”

Sannyasa means total abstinence from sex life and the association with women (even mentally); a true sannyasa meditates on the Supreme Lord and is not interested in the phantasmagoria of this material world. We have seen that Gour Govinda dasa has led his whole life like this; he only married because it was the wish of his family; he had seven children only because his wife wanted many children. From this earliest childhood, he meditated on the family deity Sri Sri Radha Gopala Jiu and as he grew older he was looking for that person to whom he would surrender and who would give him sannyasa, so that he could preach the mission of Mahaprabhu. This time was now approaching. As a sannyasa he would not have to depend on others and he could go anywhere to preach; he could reside on the Bhubaneswar land by himself and effectively oversee the building of the temple and carry one the preaching activities that his spiritual master wanted, despite the cobras, scorpions, dacoits and being alone in a deserted place. As described in the Vedic scriptures a sannyasa is fearless.

He had molded his life around one focal point, renunciation; he did not have to learn all these things once joining the mission; he already knew what a surrendered soul was, what devotion to Krsna was, what the message of the Gita was, what the message of the Bhagavatam was, what the message of the Sri Caitanya-caritamrta was. He had studied most of the Vedic scriptures, he was already a Sanskrit scholar and knew that he should surrender, inquire from and serve a bona fide spiritual master to make his life perfect and to become a bona fide disciple himself.

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