Chapter 26 – Srila Prabhupada in Bhubaneswar 18 January to 3 February, 1977

Part One
19 January to 24 January

Nothing was here, only jungle, only that one hut. So I arranged for some tents to be pitched. I was thinking, “Prabhupada is coming, that means many western devotees will come. Men and women. Thousands of people will gather here; how will I accommodate them? How will I feed them? I have no money! Anyhow this is Prabhupada’s mercy.”
-His Divine Grace Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja

January 18

“On the evening of the 18th, at 8:30 p.m., we set off by train for Bhubaneswar. We arrived the next morning, 19 January 7:30 a.m. and were met by Gour Govinda Swami and other devotees, who had driven all night in Srila Prabhupada’s car so that he would have some transport available while he was in Bhubaneswar.

Srila Prabhupada and his entourage drove through the town and out a distance to the land, and no one was very optimistic about its prospects when they saw it. However, in discussion Srila Prabhupada was very positive and felt that in a few years it would be an important place, because it was right on National Highway No. 5, which goes through to madras in the south. The Bhubaneswar land is right on the side of the National Highway, and Gour Govinda Swami had managed to get it fenced all around and he had two small brick building erected on the site. So Srila Prabhupada was optimistic about building a temple there and was encouraging Gour Govinda Maharaja to organize it.”1a

January 19

Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja: So he came by train the next day. Prabhupada stayed there in that hut. Very humble. He lived in palatial buildings but he stayed here [in the hut]. I told Prabhupada, “I have arranged a nice guest house…” but he said, “No, no; I will stay here.” There was nothing here. Only this mud hut, only this mud hut. Only these two rooms.

Devadharma dasa: Then Srila Prabhupada arrived in grand style with so many senior devotees. It seemed like a mini Mayapura festival with about eight to ten sannyasis and GBC members. There were also thirty to forty devotees traveling with Srila Prabhupada.

Conditions on the ISKCON Bhubaneswar land were primitive; two small mud-walled huts with thatched roofs. Srila Prabhupada stayed in one eight-by-twelve room in of the cottages, and his servant and secretary were in the other room just on the other side of the wall. Electricity had been installed on the land a few days before, so Harisauri had placed an electric lamp and the dictation machine on Srila Prabhupada’s desk.

The second small building, about twenty-five feet from Srila Prabhupada’s hut, was a tiny temporary temple room. A shabby canvas roof spanned the open area between the two buildings, and Srila Prabhupada’s vyasasana was beneath this, arranged so he could lecture at outdoor gatherings. Two rented tents had also been erected on the land, to accommodate visiting devotees during Srila Prabhupada’s stay. Srila Prabhupada’s outdoors toilet, about twenty-five feet behind his hut, consisted of a latrine and a separate area for bathing.

Srila Prabhupada did not mind the primitive facilities; in fact, he liked them. Although he was ill and for personal comfort could have been residing in his choice of buildings in the west, he felt perfectly at home and happy living in a primitive mud and thatched roof hut on a secluded patch of land in the dust of Orissa.2

Devadharma dasa: Srila Prabhupada on the other hand was very much at ease, very relaxed and quite contented to be housed in one room of the asrama. Although Srila Prabhupada could have been staying in any of the ISKCON palatial buildings he was perfectly at palatial buildings he was perfectly at home in this humble setting and never complained about anything. He was able to conduct all his worldwide affairs and entertain all sorts of guests including two of the richest men in Orissa just from this one small room.

January 20

“One of the buildings on the land has two rooms, 8’x12’ and 8’x10’. It has single brick walls and a thatched roof. The interior wall ends at head height and there are bamboo slats between it and the roof. Each room has a single small window with steel bars and wooden shutters instead of glass. The doors are secured with a couple of steel links anchored to the door by a pin and this loops over a steel ring driven into the doorframe.

The bigger room has been set up for Prabhupada. Myself, Rameswar and Pradyumna stay in the other. Because the brick wall stops just above head height, we have to be very quiet so as not to disturb Prabhupada.

The building is situated sixty yards from the road and at right angles to it. The other smaller building is a temporary temple room and is about fifteen feet from the first, and further from the road. Inside there Panca-tattva, Srila Prabhupada, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta. It has two wooden doors at the front. The area in front of the buildings has been partially covered by a very shabby looking canvas canopy about fifty feet square and Gour Govinda has had a vyasasana placed under it for Prabhupada’s to lecture from.

At the side of our land there are two large tents erected to accommodate visiting devotees. Bhagavata dasa has brought Prabhupada’s desk lamp, brass-bathing buckets, a few bedding items and other necessities from the Kumbha-mela, and they will be permanently installed here in Bhubaneswar.

As for the toilet and the bathing facilities, these lie between Prabhupada’s room and the road. Nearest the boundary are the toilets with a simple cement base and two Indian squat style basins surrounded by catai fencing. Prabhupada asked Gour Govinda to get a western seat because the other is too difficult for him to use now.

The bathroom is simply a square concrete base a foot high with four posts supporting an enclosing catai screen (a coarse mat made from palm-leaves or bamboo); it lies between the rooms and the toilets. Prabhupada does not seem to mind the very simple facility and in fact seems to prefer it. His bed consists of a simple wooden frame with criss-crossed string for its base, onto which we have placed the cotton mattress that was brought from the mela on the train with us, along with the sheets.

The electricity was put on just a couple of days ago so Prabhupada will be able to translate if he desires; and I have set up his Dictaphone under the table and laid out his books. Prabhupada was a bit uncertain about how long he will stay, but it seems until the 3rd of February. The ceremony for laying the cornerstone of the proposed temple is on Nitynanda’s appearance day, which is on the second, and he plans to leave the day after.

Prabhupada has actually come here to see if he can improve his health as well as to give a boost to the project. The fresh water from Bindu Sarovara which he drank in Vrndavana helped his digestion and increased his appetite, so he hopes that a stay there will help his health. (In October 1976 a Calcutta devotee brought two large metal drums of water from Bind Sarovara lake at bhubaneswar for Prabhupada to drink, because it is said to improve one’s digestion).

The climate is also very nice, warm at night and hot in the day. He has instructed Gour Govinda he may begin advertising an evening program and he will meet with any interested persons he brings along in the afternoons. He wants to lecture in the evening and have prasada distribution. Today though was very quiet and practically no one came. He had a restful time.”2a

Srutidhar Das: Srila Prabhupada, who had earlier said to Srila Gurudeva, “Now Gour Govinda, you will take me to Orissa,” arrived in Bhubaneswar in 1977.

So we all arranged his accommodation at the State Guesthouse; I did this in conjunction with Dikpati Prabhu and Mr. Padhi, who was an architect. The state guesthouse had all sorts of comforts, but Srila Prabhupada sacrificed this offer and said, “No, I want to stay there where my disciple Gour Govinda has erected a hut for me.”

So this was the depth of love Srila Prabhupada for Srila Gurudeva, and Srila Prabhupada resided here for 16 days.
Bhagavata dasa: So then Srila Prabhupada came to Orissa; I also came, because when I was head of the library party in Orissa, I had made many connections with government leaders and other important people. So I wanted to introduce all these people to Srila Prabhupada. I did this and Srila Prabhupada was very pleased to meet them. There was also one life member who remarked that he thought Srila Prabhupada was very, very special because in the Back to Godhead magazine he had seen pictures of many great ISKCON temples all over the world. And even though Srila Prabhupada could live in any of these places, he was living in mud hut like a sadhu.

Gour Govinda Maharaja had arranged accommodation in many life members’ houses and the Government Guesthouse as well, but Srila Prabhupada said, “No, no, no, I want to stay on Krsna’s land.” The local people were saying, “He is a real sadhu because he has no attachment.”

Despite Srila Prabhupada’s advanced age (eighty-one years) he preferred to stay on ISKCON property, with very primitive facilities, rather than in a guesthouse with all the comforts, or in the house of any of the many local Indian businessmen.

Sitting on the outdoor vyasana, Srila Prabhupada spoke to a small gathering of devotees and some local villagers. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, he said, had two favorite places: Bengal and Orissa. And in Orissa (Jagannatha puri) He spent the last eighteen years of His life. He went to Vrndavana and South India but then returned to Orissa to stay with His personal associates, sri ramananda raya. Sarvabhauma bhattacarya and sikhi mahiti. Srila Prabhupada quoted a scriptural reference indicating that the spiritual movement for this age will begin in utkal, or Orissa. He said that Orissa was very special to the gaudiya Vaisnavas and that his own Guru maharaja was also born there, at Puri. “Now we have got a little place here,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it takes time, but slowly and surely, we can develop this center. Especially since Bhubaneswar is going to be the capital of Orissa. In the future many tourist will come to see the attractions of Orissa. Now it is up to the oriyans to develop this idea.”

Choudhary Jagannath prasad: When Srila Prabhupada came, my wife and I met him the following night. He was speaking about the proposed temple and the construction. We were very impressed.

Choudhary Jagannath prasad had been in search of a spiritual master; he wanted initiation. His father was initiated into the Vaisnava line, his uncle also, but they had taken from the rasa bihari Math Ashram. But he was not one hundred percent convinced that this was the right thing to do. Then when he met Srila Prabhupada, whom Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja had glorified so much since his arrival in the area, choudhary Jagannath prasad became very satisfied and he and his wife were inspired to take initiation from Srila Prabhupada. They were both very impressed with Srila Prabhupada’s lectures, his books, his spiritual discourses. Choudhary Jagannath prasad said, “We were impressed with his everything.” He also said, “I was greatly influenced by Srila Prabhupada and Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja, by their way of preaching.” He also said about Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja, “He was a most cultured man and he was expert in the writing of Srila Prabhupada’s books.”

Srila Gour Govinda Swami Describes the Conditions

Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja: Anyhow, Srila Prabhupada came; his desire, his dust fell here [on the Bhubaneswar land]. Srila Prabhupada said, “This will be the center of the city”; he also said, “This will be one of the best ISKCON temples in the world”. That is Srila Prabhupada’s mercy, his words are perfect, he could see. By Srila Prabhupada’s mercy everything is getting up, getting up, growing, growing, so I am begging for his mercy, nothing else. I have no other qualification, I am a most worthless fellow, not at all worthy of it. Anyhow, he stayed in this room. This place [the hut] was not like this [1992], much humbler hut, mud hut—holes are there in the wall—still, Prabhupada stayed here for 16 days. He did not go to stay in the State Guesthouse.

I arranged electricity, and we brought one cot. Srila Prabhupada stayed this side and one platform we made here, cement platform for bathing, covered with bamboo mats, like these bamboo mats cover it, and bath there. The servant was Harisauri; he would bring the water with the bucket. Prabhupada took bath on the platform, cement platform covered with bamboo mats. Also one toilet to pass stool. I set it there, this campa tree is there—see that place. Then Prabhupada said, “I couldn’t use it. I want commode,” so we immediately brought commode and set it up there, and that was covered with these bamboo mats. And electricity was brought; this side would be closed with a thick cloth curtain and no one could enter into this area. It was January, cold, winter; winter time, winter season. All others—many devotees—came; Prabhupada’s coming means many devotees came. They would lie down outside on one large tarpaulin that I had arranged. Also three tents were pitched for sannyasis and some senior devotees, and this area was covered, and everyday Prabhupada used to sit there in a cot with some cushions and we would offer guru-puja. He gave a bhagavata class and also at night he gave lectures. Many people would come. He said, “Gour Govind, whoever comes should get prasada”. Thousands and thousands of people came every day. I had no money at that time. I said, “Yes Prabhupada, what you have said should be done, I must do.” Anyhow, by his mercy money came; people have paid, people have paid for 16 days—money was coming. Yes, Prabhupada said it must be done; I couldn’t think of it, how it was, I had no money, no men, nothing.

In the two-roomed cottage, there was one room for Gour Govinda Swami with three other devotees, and the other room was Srila Prabhupada accommodation. The three devotees living with Gour Govinda Swami were Satsvarupa Maharaja, Srila Prabhupada’s secretary; Harisauri dasa, Srila Prabhupada’s servant and Pradyumna dasa, with his trunks of books. Everyone else either lived in the tents which Gour Govinda Swami had erected for the devotees or the ground in the open.

Ramesvara Swami had been acting as secretary for one month, which meant that he finished his month in Bhubaneswar and then he left. Then Satsvarupa Maharaja came and took up his service as secretary for one month. Pradyumna dasa stayed in the hut because he was editing tapes; Srila Prabhupada made recordings on the Dictaphone and the tapes would go to pradyumna’s wife and she would type them out. The typed material would then come back to pradyumna and he would edit it. He had all his books with him, reference books, etc. he was engaged in that service. Satsvarupa Maharaja continued to serve as secretary until Srila Prabhupada left Bhubaneswar.

Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja: Nothing—no amenities were there. Some devotees came and they all lay down in the open air, this outside in the biting cold. Only tarpaulin like this he has put up—tent house that only spread one tarpaulin. All right, lies down under the tarpaulin, you will lie down here. At least two tents were there; those who were sannyasis they may live in tents. Others slept and lived outside. Many devotees followed when Srila Prabhupada came. The atmosphere was very nice; many devotees were coming and going.

Jayadharma dasa: Well, we got to Bhubaneswar to see Srila Prabhupada; we had heard that he was going to build a temple there. So we caught a train to Bhubaneswar from Calcutta, (by the way, the train that we were booked on, there was a riot on that train and we had to stand all the way to Bhubaneswar—twelve hours). Anyway we got there and caught a rickshaw wallah to take us to a particular place out of town—the ISKCON land. We got a driver who knew the way and took us for a little ride in the rickshaw. You know, it took us twenty minutes and we were out in the paddocks. We were bit shocked to find that in the middle of one paddock was just a mud hut with a grass roof and a couple of tents and one of those pumps for water and that’s it! We stayed there in the tent for about ten days. It was very austere.

Devadharma dasa: When all the devotees came, different devotees, there must have been about devotees traveling with Srila Prabhupada. Their man concern was where were the good sweet shops in town and then they were driving into town bringing back boxes full of sweets, nice rasagulla, sandesa and all sorts of nice sweets.

Of course in the six or seven months that I had been there in Bhubaneswar I never even dreamt of going into a sweet shop and buying some sweets; the thought had never entered my mind, because we were contented, you know; you become satisfied with the simple pleasures of life. We would have thought, some nice bananas would be pleasurable.

January 21

“Again a quite day, no one came and Prabhupada followed his regular routine. Prabhupada has decided he wants to walk and this morning we went out of the bindu Sarovara, which is in the center of Bhubaneswar. It is a medium sized lake with a temple of Lord Siva at one end in the style of the Puri temple but smaller. The road goes all around with no footpath, so there is no place for Srila Prabhupada to walk.”

The Journalist’s Question

On the second day of Srila Prabhupada’s visit to Bhubaneswar while staying with Gour Govinda Maharaja, a well-known journalist, Mr. jitendra singh, who was highly respected in top parliamentary circles, had come to Bhubaneswar to listen to him. He arrived in a taxi accompanied by a devotee of whom he had asked the way, and by a Mr. prafula mahapatra; they all went together to get the darsana of Srila Prabhupada.

They found him in the hut, engaged in describing the initial difficulties he had encountered in the West—the United States—when he traveled there to preach the mission of Krsna consciousness. He had found the atmosphere of New York highly materialistic. But when he was about ten or fifteen minutes into his talk, he suddenly interrupted it and directed one of his western disciples to bring the sri Caitanya-caritamrta, open it to a particular chapter, and read a particular verse and its purport. The disciple offered his obeisances to Srila Prabhupada and did as he was asked. This behavior on Srila Prabhupada’s part was very puzzling, because there seemed to be no connection between the reading and what Srila Prabhupada had been talking about, and the devotee who had accompanied the journalist was asking himself what could be going on.

No sooner had this thought come into his mind, than Srila Prabhupada called him, and asked him to bring the Bhagavad-gita, find a certain chapter, and read a specific verse and purport. The devotee did as he was instructed, feeling even more surprised, and when he had finished, he and the two men offered their obeisances to the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada and returned to the car. No sooner had they reached it than the journalist, who was sixty-five years of age, was overcome with emotion; deeply moved, he said, “At last I have been able to get the darsana of the living Caitanya!”

He then explained that for forty long years he had a really deep and important spiritual question in his mind, and a powerful need to find the answer to it. To that end he had sought out as many spiritual leaders as possible, and asked them his question. He had been to the Vatican a number of times to speak to the pope; he had been to meet the spiritual head of the Kabba; he had been to the Aurovinda Society and to many other organizations; to Sai Baba, to Sri Chinmoy and all the so-called gurus; to them all he had put forward his question and none could give him an answer.

Finally, he desired to ask his question to Srila Prabhupada, and with that end in view had come to him without knowing his greatness. But first of all he waited for fifteen minutes while Srila Prabhupada talked about his experiences in the West. Then he began to think about directing his question to Srila Prabhupada. He had no sooner formulated the question in his mind and was ready to ask it, when at that moment Srila Prabhupada directed his disciple to bring sir caitanya-caritamrta and read from it. When he heard the verse and its purport, he immediately understood the answer of the Supreme Absolute, the answer he had been seeking for forty years—from when he was twenty-five years of age until then, when he was sixty-five. His joy knew no bounds. He said, “The tissues of the body started dancing.”

But suddenly a counter question developed in his mind; at that point Srila Prabhupada called for the second reading, from the Bhagavad-gita, and answered that question too. Jitendra singh was completely overwhelmed by the incredible extent of Srila Prabhupada’s understanding, and by his greatness—his inconceivable greatness.

January 22

“Prabhupada gave his first lecture tonight with about 150 to 200 people attending. During the question period one man asked, “What is Krsna? What does Srila Prabhupada mean by Krsna?” Prabhupada got angry with him, “Just see how degraded is this man!” he said loudly, and again he preached to them that, “You are Indian; you must know who is Krsna.” Then Gurukrpa and his men had kirtana. They were all staying in the tents, and afterwards there was prasada distribution, which was very well received, especially by about two hundred villagers who came for that, Prabhupada was generally pleased with the program.”

Srila Prabhupada Loving Grace Extends to All

One devotee was in a very low state; he was puffed up with ego and identifying ISKCON with himself. At public meeting in a temple of Lord Rama (this was in Bhubaneswar city) he announced that in the evening, the gathering would be addressed by His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada. But he had not consulted any of the ISKCON executives, or the devotees either. When he returned to the ISKCON land and wanted to take Srila Prabhupada to the function, he was intercepted by one of the disciples, who said, “You cannot order Srila Prabhupada around like this! Srila Prabhupada is the deliverer of the world; he is an exalted soul, a rare gift of Krsna to this material world to deliver the fallen souls. But his health is not good, so you should at least have had the courtesy to consult us before making your announcement. I will not allow you to speak to him.”

This really hurt the young devotee’s ego; he did not say anything, but he thought, “Well, I won’t come here any more!” and went off to his home. Even when Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja sent messages to him, and repeatedly sent messages to him, he kept refusing to come. Finally, Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja sent him a message to say that until he came to him, he (Gour Govinda Swami) would not take prasada. Although Srila Prabhupada did not know what had been happening. He was concerned that young devotee was no longer coming to Bhubaneswar land.

On receiving this message, the devotee felt he could ignore Gour Govinda Maharaja’s summons no longer. He went, and found that many thousands of people had gathered and a meeting was about to begin. Srila Prabhupada was sitting on a dais. He said, “Call that boy!” The devotee was standing right at the back, in the very last row of the crowd. The same devotee, who had prevented him from speaking to Srila Prabhupada earlier, turned and called his name in a friendly voice. At that, all this devotee’s anger at him vanished, and he went forward to the dais. Srila Prabhupada said, “What a funny boy! He was so much in the bodily consciousness for this small thing; he should rise above the platform of the body and come to the platform of the soul, so that he will become truly Krsna conscious. All right, come to the dais.”

He told some disciples to give the young man a microphone, and said to him, “You will read Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, then I will speak in English, and Gour Govinda Maharaja will translate into Oriya.”

Srila Prabhupada did not even know what had taken place, but by calling young devotee to him, he had calmed his anger and comforted him, and then he gave him a place in his evening talk by arranging that he should read before he himself spoke. This was the greatness of Srila Prabhupada’s loving grace.

January 23

“Ramesvara left today and Satsvarupa took over as secretary up to the Mayapura festival. Prabhupada had his walk at the Bindu Sarovara again but it is not such a good spot for this. Again a nice program in the evening with a good attendance, and Prabhupada speaking in English with Gour Govinda translating into Oriya.”

There Were Problems—Many Problems

Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja: There were problems, many problems; people were coming, so many devotees, hundreds, hundreds are coming, Prabhupada is coming, hundreds coming, and everyday coming. Everyday coming. Yes, where to accommodate? All right no place, lie down here. Underneath the tarpaulin like this. All lie down here, matajis were staying there, all going outside to pass stool. Taking bucket and lota for bathing.

Some women came. Gour Govinda Swami wondered, “Where to put them?” there was no real facility. “Where is a place for them to stay?” alongside the land was a mango grove, the place where Gour Govinda Swami had stayed at first, before he erected the mud hut, so he put them there. He said, “All right, let them be there, because there is a well, they can fetch water, take bath and pass stool—go out to the open field early in the morning—go out, pass stool and take bath, and have some privacy.”

All the cooking was done on open fires. Srila Prabhupada had said, “Gour Govinda, whoever comes must be fed, give him prasada, no one will go without prasada, without being fed!”

Gour Govinda Swami replied, “Yes, Prabhupada.” But he thought to himself, “I have no money!”

Then Srila Prabhupada said to him, “I will see that pots (handa) are always full.” “Yes, Prabhupada,” Whatever Prabhupada said, Gour Govinda Swami would always reply, “Yes, Prabhupada.”

He wondered what he could do. He had no money and thousands of people were coming everyday; how could he feed them all? But miraculously all were fed. So much cooking had to be done! Gour Govinda Swami did not know where he would get the money from. Every morning someone would come for money: “Gour Govinda, give money! So much needs to be purchased!”

And he would always say, “All right, wait, wait, wait! Let me go out, see—somewhere I am going out. Somehow some money may come.” Then money would come, miraculously. Then he would say, “All right, take the money and purchase what you need!”

Many years later Gour Govinda Swami said, “So many miracles. All miracles. Yes, how it was done I cannot think. Many miracles. Prabhupada’s mercy miraculous!” everyday people came and every day Prabhupada would give lectures and more people came; he was meeting so many people. Devotees were coming to give reports on their preaching in India and in the west. Gour Govinda Swami was not involved with that so much.

Srila Prabhupada would go out everyday for morning walks and Gour Govinda Swami and other devotees would go with him. There were many talks on different subjects. Srila Prabhupada was not unconvinced at all by the primitive conditions in Bhubaneswar; he just said that he was waiting for the appearance day of Nityananda Prabhu, to lay the corner stone for the beginning of the building of the temple. But there was opposition; some senior devotees said, “No—we won’t construct here, Prabhupada no one will come here! It is an out of the way place, a jungle.”

The ISKCON Bhubaneswar land was undeveloped at that time. It was all-vacant; it was not on a bus route. Everyone went to pass stool in the open field, taking a lota. There was only one bed and one western style toilet and these were for Srila Prabhupada only.

Many years later Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja would tell his disciples, “Srila Prabhupada told me that they objected to opening a center in Bhubaneswar. GBC’s*, sannyasis and some senior devotees said, “No don’t build a temple here; no one will come here, it is an out of the way place. Why should we construct temples and spend money here? We will do it in Puri and we can keep the Bhubaneswar land as an agricultural field” But Srila Prabhupada firmly said, “No! I will do it here!” and he called Gour Govinda Swami to him and said, “You have to stay here and see this through! Others will come and go. But they will help you; keep friendship with them. But you have to stay and you have to do—they cannot!”

It is Taped in My Heart

Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja: Srila Prabhupada drove them out of the room, everybody, because his every word was being taped—a tape recorder was always on! He told everybody, “Get out from here!” And then he called me in only. “Gour Govinda”, he whispered, “Gour Govinda, they are objecting. They are objecting to open a temple here in Bhubaneswar. They want it at Puri. But I said, “No; I’ll do it here and do this thing and see this project done, and this will be one of the greatest ISKCON temples in the world.”

As I was saying, he drove them all out, you see, from that room. He called me; so many things he whispered in my ear. Yes, indicating the westerners, he said, (whispering), “These people have problems, they can’t stay here. They can’t stay here. They will come and go, but they will help you!” He said, “You should have your own men, you should accept disciples, train them; otherwise how can you manage?” He told me like this, that was in 1977. “Your own men, train them, otherwise how can you manage?” He said this in that room over there [indicating the hut], only he and I, no one else was there; everybody out—out.

His every word was taped, but no tape was on then. It is taped in my heart. So he said everything will be there; these deities will be there, made in Orissa, made of brass—everything he said only to me, no one else was there. This, that, that, that, so many things he told me; we spoke confidential things. I’m not saying everything, only as is required I am saying. At least he said, “Tolerate and cooperate,” bas.

Trnad Api Sunicena

Whenever Srila Prabhupada called Gour Govinda Swami, he would immediately stop what he was doing, make his way quickly to Prabhupada’s room and fall flat on the ground like a stick; offer his obeisances and say, “Yes Prabhupada, you called me.” Some devotees thought Gour Govinda Swami was going to hurt himself because he hit the ground with his whole body and it made a slapping sound as he hit the floor. Of course, when he comes before his spiritual master, the disciple should always prostrate himself on the floor in front of him.

Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja: Mahaprabhu said; trnad api sunicena, taror iva sahisuna, amanina manadena kirtaniyah sada harih—be as tolerant as a tree, otherwise you can’t serve Mahaprabhu. No Guru and Gauranga unless you tolerate and cooperate. Mahaprabhu’s teaching is a most important teaching, otherwise you cannot do hari-bhajana. No pride, great humility, much humbler than a blade of grass lying in the street; unless you become like that, unless you become as tolerant as a tree, unless you pay respect to one and all and don’t demand respect for yourself, you cannot do hari-bhajana, cannot serve Guru and Gauranga. That is Mahaprabhu’s teaching; you see, most important instruction. “I teach you,” Kaviraja Gosvami says, “Make a garland of verse, put it around your neck and do hari-bhajana,” he said. Then you’ll become a real Vaisnava; otherwise you cannot become a Vaisnava. That is a fact; by our own effort we cannot do anything, but by the mercy of Guru and Gauranga, who are so powerful, we can develop such things, otherwise there is no possibility. Always begging mercy at His lotus feet—“Accept me as a speck of dust at your lotus feet.” This is the only prayer to offer, “I am a speck of dust at your lotus feet. Please accept me. I have no qualification, I am worthless fellow. I am completely dependent on your mercy, O my beloved revered spiritual master.” Yes! What he says, what comes from his lips, just accept it as it is, don’t add any deliberation to it, don’t twist it; that will be your asset and if you take it seriously and execute it at any cost, then you’ll get the mercy. It is super powerful:

mukam karoti vacalam
pangum langhayate girim
yat-krpa tam aham vande
sri-gurum dina tarine

“Then the dumb can become eloquent speakers of the Veda and the crippled can climb mountains, by the mercy of Guru and Gauranga.” It is so powerful.

Gour Govinda Swami led the evening kirtana; others would to take it over, thinking they could do better than Gour Govinda Swami. They thought, “Who is he to lead? We should lead.” On one occasion when Gour Govinda Swami was leading the chanting and Srila Prabhupada was in his room in the hut, sitting back listening to the kirtana, he asked the disciples who were with him in the room, “Who is chanting?” They responded in an almost annoyed manner, “O, that Gour Govinda Swami.” To this Srila Prabhupada replied, “O, Gour Govinda Swami, he is so sincere!”

Nimai Pandita dasa: (in conversation with His Divine Grace in 1992 at Bhubaneswar): … Guru Maharaja, Harisauri sent me some notes from his diary he made when he was here; he’d made some quick notes and sent them to me and in them he said that when Srila Prabhupada was here in Bhubaneswar, there were only two people who were enthusiastic about the project in Bhubaneswar, that was Srila Prabhupada and you, Guru Maharaja.

Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja: Yes, he said that, “You should have you own men, train them—men—disciples, you should accept disciples, you should train them, you should have your own men, otherwise how can you manage?” He said that thing, yes. I said to Prabhupada, “I don’t want to be the head, I want to be the tail.” But Prabhupada replied, “I want!” And I said, “All right!” I know that to become head means so many beatings; blows will come. But Prabhupada said, “I want!” “When you want, I should accept all these head beatings; all right, very good; it is pleasing to my guru.”

Srila Prabhupada wanted Srila Guru Govinda Swami Maharaja to be the head of the temple and to take the responsibility of taking disciples, but Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja did not want to accept that responsibility. This conversation between Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja occurred in Bhubaneswar in 1977. Srila Prabhupada entrusted the entire project to Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja’s leadership—he would stay and see the project through.

Whilst Srila Prabhupada was in Bhubaneswar he gave 50,000 rupees to the Bhubaneswar project. When Gour Govinda Swami explained to Srila Prabhupada that Orissa was a very poor state, and a significant amount of money could not be collected there, Srila Prabhupada said in Bengali, “Gour Govinda, ami jani, – Gour Govinda, I know it.” So then he said, “You provide 50% and I will provide 50%; whatever you collect for the project, I will match it.” He did this for Orissa, not for any other place. But after Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance, it stopped. There was only one amount paid.

Jayadharma dasa: At that time in Bhubaneswar Srila Prabhupada was saying that India—Krsna consciousness—was a lame man—he had no money—he was limited, but India had the vision—spiritual vision. In contrast the west was like a blind man—he had money but no spiritual vision. So now if the west can pick up the lame man, who can see, then they can help each other.

So, India or Krsna consciousness has spiritual vision and no wealth, whereas the west has wealth but no spiritual vision. If you combine the two, the blind west can carry the lame India and together they can function nicely. Srila Prabhupada liked this concept very much and for the money raised to go to the preaching in India. In Bhubaneswar, Srila Prabhupada was very enthusiastic about preaching in India; all India (Krsna consciousness) needed was laksmi.

January 24

“Bhagavata dasa arranged for Prabhupada to have his walk at the local zoo. When we arrived we went first into the big cats section where there were two cages side by side with lions in them. A whole family was in one of them. From Prabhupada’s reaction it was obvious he was not so happy to see them locked up in their tiny cells and he did not linger long.

After that he completed his walk around the zoo and then we drove back to our land. As the car neared the entrance he asked us, “So what is the lesson from this visit to the zoo?” getting no reply he said, “The lesson is that the lion is a prisoner—therefore how strong one may be, there is always some greater control.”

Again the program was nice and went on in the usual fashion. Gargamuni came back and had arranged for Prabhupada to visit Puri tomorrow, the 25th.”

* GBC: Governing Body Commissioners, or for short, GBC; members of the management council set up by Srila Prabhupada to make sure that his society (ISKCON) is managed nicely around the world.

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