Chapter 28 Srila Prabhupada in Bhubaneswar

Part Two
January 27 to February 3

So that was a wonderful time in Puri. Then we went back to Bhubaneswar and it was very austere, passing stool in the open paddocks, bathing under a pump and eating in the open sleeping on the ground. For us westerners we were really finished. It was really difficult. I think that bodily distress was so great that it really clouded the intelligence at that time, it was so austere!

In retrospect, (1991) for Gour Govinda Maharaja to stay there on that piece of land, living in that mud hut and building that wonderful temple under such harsh conditions, he must be a great devotee! This is not a normal occurrence. The vision for the temple was Gour Govinda Maharaja and Srila Prabhupada and no one else was into it.
- Jayadharma dasa

27 January

In discussion with his disciples many years later, His Divine Grace said this about Srila Prabhupada in Bhubaneswar:

Devotee: When Srila Bhaktisiddhanta was talking with Prabhupada, just some time before he left, he said there will be fire in the matha, meaning some trouble would come. Before Prabhupada left did he tell you that ISKCON would go through any disturbance like that? Did Prabhupada tell you anything before he left? How ISKCON would progress?

Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja: Not said, no. Other things he said, that I cannot tell you, that are very, very confidential. What is to be expressed, I expressed. Pointing out the western devotees he said many things. He also told me not to say.

Devotee: To be tolerant. How can we be tolerant?

Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja: Mahaprabhu said, “trnad api sunicena”, “Be as tolerant as a tree.” Mahaprabhu set an example. Acaryas have set an example, how tolerant they are and how humble they are; and so they are teaching. They are setting an example and teaching and they you pick up how they are doing it. It should be done like that, otherwise you cannot do hari-bhajana.

Devotee: Prabhupada started translating the tenth canto…..

Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja: He completed the ninth canto. At the end of the ninth canto he noted; “Completed in Bhubaneswar,” and started the tenth canto.

Devotee: Could you hear him translating into the Dictaphone here?

Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja: Yes, he went to bed very early—8:00 pm or 8:30 pm he goes to bed—and then he gets up very early. When all are sleeping he is translating. He only said, bring the electricity. He needs it for his Dictaphone. I had already applied for it and then it came also. Before Prabhupada’s arrival it came.

At that time, a few of the devotees objected to opening a center here, because it was an out-of-the-way place. They told Prabhupada, “Why spend money here? It is better to open a center in Puri.” But Prabhupada was not willing, he told me, “Gour Govind, I want to open a center here.” Then he said. “This will be one of the best ISKCON centers in the world and this place will be the heart of the city.” Then he said to me, “You’ll do it, you’ll see this project is done, you’ll stay here.” So he put he responsibility on my head and I said, “Yes, I must do as you say, Srila Prabhupada.”

January 28, 29, 30 & 31

“On January 28 at 2.50 a.m.: Prabhupada completed the ninth canto of the Bhagavatam and began the chapter summary of the ninety chapters of the tenth canto. Pradyumna was so excited he stayed up and recorded the time and listened on the other side of the partition wall as Prabhupada translated.

Prabhupada had a visit from Nityananda Kanungo, a former governor of Bihar. He gave us this land here and is still a very influential man. Prabhupada received him very warmly and he has agreed to come for the foundation-stone laying ceremony on the appearance day of Lord Nityananda on February 2nd.”

Bhagavata dasa: at that time we were preparing to install the Ananta Sesa deity for the new temple to be constructed in Bhubaneswar. I remember Gour Govinda Maharaja would go into the room with Prabhupada and they would sit for a long time and talk about many things. Prabhupada was giving him special instructions. Actually there was nothing here, only a mud hut. You could look for miles in every direction and there was just vacant land.

All these big GBC’s and Maharaja who came to be with Prabhupada were saying to him, ‘This place is useless. It’s just a mud hut in the middle of the desert. There is nothing here. We should simply close this down and build something in Puri. Why are we wasting our time and money here?’

Prabhupada looked at them and shook his head, and said, ‘You do not understand. Someday, this temple will be in the center of the city and it will be one of the most important temples in our whole movement.’

Whilst Srila Prabhupada was in Bhubaneswar in January 1977, two old acquaintances of Gour Govinda Swami (Brajabandhu Manik) had met up with each other in a place called Naulo. They were Subhash Biswal and Sukadeva Mallik. Sukadeva Mallik had lost Brajabandhu (who was now Gour Govinda Swami) when the latter had left for Hrsikesha in April 1974. When Sukadeva Mallik met Subhash Biswal, Subhash said to him, “You were doing this Gita-yajna and you brought along this Balaram das to speak on the Gita, but there was another babu you brought—Brajabandhu Manik; he is now in Nayapalli. He has taken sannyasa and is there preaching.” On hearing this news Sukadeva Mallik immediately set off for the Bhubaneswar Nayapalli area, to meet up with his old friend Brajabandhu Manik.

Sukadeva Mallik arrived in Bhubaneswar and saw Srila Prabhupada. He recalls, “Srila Prabhupada was very old—very, very old—at that time, and a lot of devotees came; I remember seeing fifty to sixty western devotees; some panditas from Puri were there, the King was there, Nityananda Kanungo was there, and the opening took place where the Lotus Temple is being constructed now [1994].”

Sukadeva Mallik: I spoke to Gurudeva [Gour Govinda Swami] and among so many people Gurudeva was very happy to see me. During the years when I had lost touch with Gurudeva I was still doing this Gita-yajna, but with a babaji, Balaram Das. This Balaram Das from a deviant sampradaya; in Orissa they call them, ‘Not so good.’

Gurudeva was very happy to see me, and said, ‘I wont let you go. I will keep you here for three days.’ So while I was there Gurudeva served me prasada with his own hands.

Whilst Sukadeva Mallik was in Bhubaneswar he asked Gour Govinda Swami to attend the next Gita-yajna and speak there. But Gour Govinda Swami said that he could not come back to the place where he had done the Gita-yajna previously. He said, it was not correct to go to where his family members were, as he was now in the renounced order of life. But Sukadeva Mallik convinced him and said to him, “No, no, you have do it.” Gour Govinda Swami agreed, after this Sukadeva Mallik left to do bhiksa for the next Gita-yajna.


Then on Tuesday 31 January 1977 Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja went to see all the prospective initiates about their up and coming initiation by Srila Prabhupada. At approximately 8.30 – 9.00 p.m. he arrived at the house of Choudhary Jagannath Prasad and explained to him and his wife that the next day would be their initiation and told them to please make themselves ready for tomorrow.

Since Gour Govinda Swami’s arrival in the area he had been preaching vigorously and had encouraged some of the local people take initiation from Srila Prabhupada.

Choudhary Jagannath Prasad: I was surprised. All of a sudden Gour Govinda Swami was at our door and told me, ‘Tomorrow Srila Prabhupada will give you initiation. Prepare yourself, obtain new clothing and everything necessary for initiation.’

February 1

Choudhary Jagannath Prasad: On the next day, Wednesday 1 February 1977, we took initiation from Srila Prabhupada. Included amongst the group of devotees were myself and my wife, Dikpati, Anapurna, Upananda, and one devotee from outside Orissa. On the following day, 2 February 1977, the corner stone was laid by Srila Prabhupada. I cannot express the spiritual development I had after my association with Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja and Srila Prabhupada.

Most of the Oriya devotee initiated that day were in some way or other helping Gour Govinda Swami to develop Krsna consciousness in that area, either by donations, going with him on preaching programmes and or arranging different speaking engagements for Gour Govinda Swami to speak at so as to solicit help for his present and future plans for developing Krsna consciousness in the area or for the building of the proposed temple.

The Oriya people initiated were: Anapurna Das (the wife of Mr. Vasudeva Das) her name became Anasuya devi dasi; her son also took initiation, Visnu Prasad Das his name became Visnudevananda dasa; Choudhary Jagannath Prasad and his wife, his new name became Jagadananda dasa and his wife’s name became Maya devi dasi; Digamma Pattanaik his new name was Dikpati dasa and Upendra Sahoo became Upananda dasa.

Anasuya devi dasi: Then, after our initiation, I went to Srila Prabhupada and offered my obeisances at his lotus feet. I then asked Srila Prabhupada, ‘O great Srila Gurudeva [Prabhupada] when you will visit us next?’ then Srila Prabhupada told me, ‘Don’t worry, I will come definitely when the temple is inaugurated…’

This mataji Anasuya devi dasi would address His Divine Grace Gour Govinda Swami as baba. Srila Prabhupada heard his new disciple addressing Gour Govinda Swami as baba, and he turned to her and said, “Do not call him baba; call him Maharaja. You should come to him and learn Vaisnava etiquette and the basis of Krsna consciousness; under his guidance you will advance in spiritual life.” She was quite taken back, but she never used the term again when addressing His Divine Grace Srila Gour Govinda Swami.

February 2nd
Lord Nityananda’s Appearance Day

“After walking in the park, Prabhupada returned and he gave a very nice lecture on Nityananda Prabhu’s appearance; he had Gurukrpa Maharaja sing Nitai-pada-kamala before he began. The theme of his lecture was how our movement is going on because we are surrendering to Nityananda-Balarama who is the original guru.

It is a half-day fast, then a feast, and at 11.00 a.m. Prabhupada came out into the pandala. This had been set up on the back half of the land and was quite large. To the left of t he stage as the audience faces it, a hole had been dug where the cornerstone laying ceremony was to take place. Pradyumna had set up the fire yajna and the chief guest speaker was Sevasiva Rath whom Prabhupada had invited for this evening.

The chief guest was Mr. Kanungo, who was here with his whole family. Actually it was his daughter who gave us the land. After Prabhupada had come onto the stage Pradyumna performed the ceremony and did the fire yajna. Throughout the day at least a thousand people came and took prasada, and Prabhupada was very pleased by this. He stayed for an hour in the morning and then went through his usual routine of massage, bathing, prasada and rest.”

February 3rd

“Prabhupada is very pleased with the work Bhagavata is doing here in Bhubaneswar and has therefore appointed him temple president so that Gour Govinda can concentrate on his translation work. He also told Nandakumara that he too should remain here and help him. He was praising Bhagavata by calling him Bhagavata Maharaja and then he said a little seriously, ‘Well, do you still want to take sannyasa?’ Bhagavata replied that he thought he should wait a little while as he wasn’t sure that he was properly qualified just yet. Prabhupada smiled and said, ‘Yes, one should not take sannyasa unless he is firmly convinced. One should wait until 50 years old. We are giving so many young men sannyasa for preaching, but that has not turned out so well.’’’

Before Srila Prabhupada left Bhubaneswar, Gour Govinda Swami asked him to allow some devotees to stay there to help build the very large project that Srila Prabhupada wanted for Orissa. He considered for a moment and then he said, “Bring me Bhagavata dasa.”

When Bhagavata dasa arrived, Srila Prabhupada, asked him, “Bhagavata, how are you?” he replied, “By your mercy, Srila Prabhupada, I am just going on.”
Then Srila Prabhupada said to him, “We have a big project that we are trying to develop here, so I think that you should stay here and help Gour Govinda Swami.”

Bhagavata tried to explain to Srila Prabhupada that he was supposed to go to New York to the temple there; they were going to make him a manager. But Srila Prabhupada cut him off and said, “O, there are so many devotees in our New York temple. You do not have to go there.” Then Bhagavata tried to counter, “But, Srila Prabhupada, it would be difficult for me to work in Orissa because the GBC for Orissa, Gargamuni Maharaja, and I have been quarrelling. I cannot work with him.”

Srila Prabhupada responded, “That is not a problem. I remove Gargamuni Maharaja. Now you work directly for me.”

Bhagavata then said, “Well, Srila Prabhupada, I am having problems with my sadhna, I am not chanting all my rounds.”

Srila Prabhupada then said, “But I have seen you working very hard all day and all night. Sometimes when you worked hard you cannot chant all your rounds. That’s all right as long as you work hard for Krsna.” Bhagavata started to realize that if he did not surrender to this service, his spiritual life was condemned. Then he said to Srila Prabhupada, “It says in the Bhagavad-gita that by pleasing the order of the spiritual master one makes advancement in spiritual life. So if this is your order, I take this order and follow it…” and then Srila Prabhupada said, “That is very good; you have understood what is in my books.”

Devadharma dasa: Then one day Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja mentioned to Srila Prabhupada that a devotee was planning to leave; that was me! Srila Prabhupada said, ‘Why must he leave! Bring him here!’ then I went to see Srila Prabhupada. Satsvarupa Maharaja introduced me to Srila Prabhupada and said, ‘Srila Prabhupada, this is Devadharma dasa; he wants to leave and go to Bombay because he doesn’t think he’ll be able to get along with Bhagavata.’ Srila Prabhupada looked as if he had been shot in the heart. He put one hand to his brow, gestured with the other and said, ‘This is the whole problem. He cannot get along with Bhagavata and Bhagavata cannot get along with Gargamuni, and what are we supposed to do?’

Needless to say I felt like the lowest dog on the planet and I just had to agree to stay.

Srila Prabhupada left Bhubaneswar after he had performed the cornerstone laying ceremony for the future temple, which was on the appearance day of Lord Nityananda, 2 February 1977. He also made Orissa a separate zone; Gour Govinda Maharaja could deal directly with Srila Prabhupada concerning all matters.

When he departed so did most of the devotees, which left Gour Govinda Swami by himself with one or two other devotees, including Bhagavata dasa to push on with the work in that place—that place which was a jungle but would become the center of the city, and that temple which would become one of the best temples in ISKCON.

Srila Prabhupada also gave Gour Govinda Swami a further instruction, which now made three very important instructions: 1, to develop the land and build a magnificent temple there; 2. to translate Srila Prabhupada’s English translations of the ancient Sanskrit Vedic scriptures into Oriya; and 3. to make his own disciples, to help him with the spreading of the mission of Krsna consciousness and to help complete and maintain the temple there in Bhubaneswar.

“In the late afternoon we got everything packed ready to leave and the sannyasis and some other leading men all crowded into Prabhupada’s room and he talked for an hour or so, ranging over many different topics, until it was time to catch the train back to Calcutta, which left at 10.55 p.m. We arrived in Calcutta at 8.30 a.m. on 4 February.”

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