Firstly let me offer my respectful obeisances to my initiating spiritual master, Oṃ Viṣnupada Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Goswāmi Mahārāja, and then at the lotus feet of my instructing spiritual master Oṃ Viṣnupada Śrī Śrīmad Gour Govinda Goswāmi Mahārāja.
The Vaiṣnava devotees appear before the souls of this world in order to instruct them on the science of devotional service to Śrī Śrī Gour Nitai, and Śrī Śrī Rādha Kṛṣṇa. Firstly the spiritual master attracts the disciple to his lotus feet, bestowing upon them his own service. The conditioned soul has no power to make that connection with an all-spiritual personality like the spiritual master, but the Guru, out of his infinite compassion, enables the devotee to take shelter of his lotus feet. Without the shelter and service of such a liberated Vaiṣnava, the conditioned soul can never become free from his causeless unwillingness to serve the Supreme. The relation between the spiritual master and the disciple begins from the time the Guru first casts his merciful glance upon the disciple. This glance is the cause of all good fortune.
I had the great good fortune to receive the glance of Śrīla Gour Govinda Mahārāja in the Iskcon temple in Melbourne, Australia, around mid-September, 1994. I had joined the temple as a full-time devotee some months earlier
, but was exceedingly disappointed with what I found there. There seemed such a vast difference between what I was reading in the books of Śrīla Prabhūpada , and what I was experiencing in my day-to-day life as a devotee. That dichotomy seemed impassable. Out of frustration I prayed to Śrīla Prabhūpada, “Please send me a spiritual master like you!” Within a day or two I got a copy of some lectures from Śrīla Gour Govinda Mahārāja, and when I played the tape, I heard him roaring like a lion, “The pure devotee possesses Kṛṣṇa, and he can give Him to the disciple. The guru who does not possess Kṛṣṇa is simply a cheater!” These words pierced my heart, and I knew that I had found my spiritual master.
Śrīla Gour Govinda Mahārāja would tell us, “When you come to the sadhu, then māyā becomes very furious. She says, ‘Hey! Where are you going? I will not let you leave me!’” Thus she puts up millions of obstacles to keep us away from the sadhu’s association.” I experienced this directly, with all types of temple presidents and senior “well-wishers” trying to dissuade me from my choice. I was fortunate not to be dissuaded, and against all odds I purchased a ticket to Melbourne.
I remember Śrīla Mahārāja as he exited from the car which had picked him up from the airport. He was so grave, like millions of oceans. I thought of what I had heard about Śrī Guru being heavy, in that he cannot be shifted from the service of the Lord.
At that time there was a lot of opposition from certain elements against his preaching, so there was no one able to stay there at that time. So there was a huge plate of his Mahā-Mahā-prasadam, and I could take it all myself. That struck me at the time.
His classes were extraordinary. By his grace I had a small understanding of the verse from Śrī Caitanya Caritamrta(Madhya-lila 22.47);
“kṛṣṇa yadi krpa kare kona bhagyavane
guru-antaryami-rupe sikhaya apane”
“Śrī Kṛṣṇa is situated in everyone’s heart as caitya-guru, the spiritual master within. When He is kind to some fortunate conditioned soul, He personally gives one lessons to progress in devotional service, instructing the person as the Supersoul within, and the spiritual master without.”
I was amazed at his personal interest in the persons who came for hari-katha. His compassion was palpable. He presented everything in an uncompromising manner, but with great humor. He relished hari-katha, so it was easy for him to inject that enthusiasm within others. He had real love for his spiritual master, and the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam.
After a few days in Melbourne, we went with him to the farm outside the property, where he gave the most amazing speech. He told us how we had to cry for the mercy of Nitai. That class remains embedded within the core of my heart. It was like a thunderbolt, smashing my mountain of pride
, while illuminating my heart with a great hope.
That night I couldn’t sleep, and early the next morning I asked his servant for a darsana with Śrīla Mahārāja. I entered and offered my respects to him. He had all the time in the world for me. I was so excited I blurted out, “Can you be my Guru?” He laughed a lot and said very affectionately, “Please slow down! Who are you and what is your name? Where do you live? What do you do?” Then he placed his lotus feet within my heart and said, “The relationship with the spiritual master is an eternal one, based on love and trust. I accept you as my eternal disciple, but don’t be in a rush for initiation, as Śrīla Prabhūpada waited for twelve years.”
At the time I was astonished at his statement, and it was only when he disappeared from this world and I went and took initiation from Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja, that I understood his intention.
Oṃ Viṣnupada Śrīla Gour Govinda Mahārāja ki jai!