By His Holiness Tridandi Swami

Sripad Bhakti Ananda Sagar Maharaj

yad yad acharati sresthas, tat tad evetaro janah
sa yat pramanam kurute, lokas tad anuvartate
(Bhagavad-gita: 3.21)

«The masses follow the ways of great men, following the standards they set.»

This well-known verse sung by Sri Krishna in Sri Gita was sung by Prabhupad Om Visnupad Astottara-sata-sri Srimad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaj when his beloved disciple and intimate attendant, Om Visnupad Astottara-sata-sri Srimad Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj, approached Srila Prabhupad’s lotus feet to take transcendental initiation from him and join him in his holy Mission of Sri Gaudiya Math. Srila Prabhupad expressed his divine joy and confidence that the appearance in his Mission of such a person as Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj — our Srila Guru Maharaj, who descended in high brahminical lineage and was already replete with profuse scriptural knowledge and saintly qualities — heralded the welcome of many superior personages within the fold of Sri Gaurangadev.

As a unique tridandi sannyasi of the Sri Gaudiya sampradaya, Srila Guru Maharaj’s radiant example continued throughout his entire sojourn in this world and beyond. He preached with formidable command all over India, taking a prominent part in the founding and organising of many of the Gaudiya Maths of Srila Prabhupad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami. Because of his high scriptural command and pure representation, Srila Prabhupad one day addressed him as «sastra-nipuna Sridhar Maharaj» (genius in scriptural representation), and finally, he was chosen by Srila Prabhupad to sing Sri Rupa Manjari Pada for him during his (Srila Prabhupad’s) last days of manifest Pastimes in this world.

A great nectarean current of Sanskrit and Bengali devotional compositions and commentaries flowed from the pen of Srila Guru Maharaj, including his Sri Gita chatuh-sloki and Brahma-gayatri commentaries, unique to the entire sampradaya in full-fledged theistic representation. A handsome collection of monumental works in English were brought to scholars and seekers worldwide, and an endless stream of new publications from his taped conversations continue to be brought out, by the grace of that Guardian of Devotion, Om Visnupad Astottara-sata-sri Srimad Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj.

Today is the 62nd anniversary of the holy appearance day of Om Visnupad Astottara-sata-sri Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj. On this most holy of holy days I beg to offer my prostrate obeisances unto his lotus feet, unto the lotus feet of his illustrious Sri Gurudev, and all their associates. As is well known, Srila Govinda Maharaj was chosen by Srila Guru Maharaj long before his disappearance as his Successor-Acharya-President for his Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math of Nabadwip, Nadia, West Bengal, with its branches all over the world. At that time he happily retired and gave all duties and his exalted divine chair to Srila Govinda Maharaj. After that, by Srila Guru Maharaj’s instructions, the following sloka in glorification of Srila Govinda Maharaj became manifest by Srila Guru Maharaj’s wish and composition, for our supreme benefit. Now I am giving some explanation of this sloka with my full respect, in the hope of attracting his causeless mercy.

gurvabhista-supurakam guru-ganair asisa-sambhusitam
chintyachintya-samasta-veda-nipunam sri-rupa-panthanugam
govindabhidham ujjvalam vara-tanum bhakty anvitam sundaram
vande visva-gurun cha divya-bhagavat-premno hi bija-pradam

Gurvabhista-supurakam: he fulfils the cherished desires of his Gurudev. At Bamunpara, District Burdwan, only about six miles from Sripat Hapaniya, on 17 December 1929, Acharyadev Sri Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Maharaj made his gracious advent in the world just to fulfil the innermost heart’s desire of his Srila Guru Maharaj: without, to distribute the unalloyed grace of Sri Chaitanyadev to every nook and cranny of the universe, and within, to maintain the indomitable standard of exclusive devotion to Sri Gurudev. Srila Guru Maharaj taught us that one with a high vision will see his Sri Gurudev as the manifestation of the Lord’s most dear servant, who in the supreme position is seen to be Srimati Radharani.

Constitutionally, a disciple sings the glories, that is, performs the kirtan, of his Gurudev. But in particular and special cases we hear Gurudev performing the kirtan of his disciple. In 1985, Srila Sridhar Maharaj conferred the sannyas order upon Srila Govinda Maharaj. The next day, which was his own day of advent, Srila Guru Maharaj began the day by joyfully enumerating the unending glories of his beloved disciple, Srila Govinda Maharaj, before the assembled fortunate devotees. The talk was no less than three hours long. Among the multitude of points he mentioned, Srila Guru Maharaj referred to Srila Govinda Maharaj’s learned scriptural representation, his knack of being on hand at the time of need, his mystical devotional nature, and his abundance of strong common sense in all dealings. It is for the fortunate and faithful soul to see how the pure devotee servitor ever fulfils the cherished wishes of his Gurudev in a multitude of ways.

Guru-ganair asisa-sambhusitam: he is fully adorned with the blessings of all his Gurus, his Guru-varga. World preacher and ambassador of Krishna consciousness, Om Visnupad Astottara-sata-sri Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad, proclaimed at his public address at the opening of his Sri Mayapur Chandrodaya Mandir, «I consider Sri Govinda Maharaj to be my dearmost son, and his Gurudev, Om Visnupad Srila Sridhar Maharaj, to be my Siksa-guru.»

In his Declaration of Spiritual Succession of 1986 Srila Guru Maharaj stated to all the devotees present, when naming Srila Govinda Maharaj as his successor, «All my godbrothers are very affectionate towards him, and they are happy that he will have this position.»

When in 1947 Srila Govinda Maharaj approached the lotus feet of his Gurudev Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj, Srila Guru Maharaj was surrounded by fourteen or more brahmacharis including his own godbrothers. Thus, from that early age of only seventeen, Srila Govinda Maharaj had their association and enjoyed their whole-hearted blessings and affection.

In 1989, during his address to the devotees assembled at Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math on the advent day of Srila Guru Maharaj, observed in his separation, Sripad Bhakti Kankan Tapasvi Maharaj declared, «Srila Sridhar Maharaj was the foremost of the followers of our Gurudev, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaj, and he has clearly declared that he has selected Sripad Govinda Maharaj as his successor. So my dear devotees, you please all accept him as the successor of Srila Sridhar Maharaj, otherwise you will have to fall down from your spiritual life.»

It was none other than Sripad Tapasvi Maharaj who was the intermediary in recommending Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj to Srila Prabhupad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaj for both initiations in one day (Hari-nam and gayatri), to which Srila Prabhupad agreed. Also both during the time of Srila Guru Maharaj as well as after his disappearance, many of his godbrothers, such as Their Divine Graces Sripad B. V. Jajavar Maharaj, Sripad B. D. Madhav Maharaj, Sripad Krishna Das Babaji Maharaj, Sripad B. P. Puri Maharaj, Sripad B. K. Santa Maharaj, Sripad Satprasangananda Prabhu, and others gave their happy blessings to Srila Govinda Maharaj in many ways and expressed their joy.

Chintyachintya-samasta-veda-nipunam: well-versed in both the conceivable and inconceivable conclusions of all the religious scriptures. Once, Srila Guru Maharaj had promised to attend a meeting for delivering a Bhagavat lecture at the house of Sri Satkari Banerjee in Kolkata, a prominent and respected industrialist of the time. The occasion was in observance of the disappearance of his father, Sri Hari Prasad Banerjee. Suddenly, Srila Guru Maharaj suffered a migraine headache attack, so he sent Srila Govinda Maharaj to the meeting in his place. Many distinguished and learned guests attended that meeting. At that time, Srila Govinda Maharaj was only a youth of twenty-one years, a young boy in appearance. At first Sri Satkari Banerjee thought, «I have invited so many qualified persons — how will this young boy speak before them about the Bhagavat?» But after Srila Govinda Maharaj had spoken, all were highly satisfied with his delivery. In that meeting many questions were posed and everyone was very satisfied and surprised to hear the answers given by Srila Govinda Maharaj. The next day, Mr Banerjee remarked to Srila Guru Maharaj, «I could not imagine that a young boy would be capable of delivering such high thoughts in a Bhagavat speech.» It was that Mr Banerjee who bore the cost of the Deities of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math of Nabadwip.

Highly realised and possessing natural talent in Sanskrit and Bengali, the mother tongues of Gaudiya–Vaisnava thought, Srila Govinda Maharaj has given us many valuable divine prayers and songs filled with the conceivable and inconceivable thought of the Vedas.

Sri Rupa panthanugam: he is the faithful follower on the path of Srila Rupa Goswami. Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj, the one who was chosen by Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaj to sing the holy prayer of the divine succession of Srila Rupa Goswami, chose as his successor Srila Govinda Maharaj. As Srila Prabhupad’s choice naturally drew the Vaisnavas’ highest regard for Srila Guru Maharaj, similarly Srila Guru Maharaj’s choice clearly reveals his indomitable hope for the bright future of the divine succession of Sri Rupa, having reposed all his divine qualities in the personage of Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Maharaj. The faithful followers of Srila Guru Maharaj cannot but feel genuine safety under the shelter of the future guardian he chose for them, and offer Srila Govinda Maharaj the same respect and service that is offered to Srila Guru Maharaj himself.

Govindabhidham ujjvalam vara-tanum bhakty anvitam sundaram: he is known as Srila Govinda Maharaj, and he possesses a splendid and radiant divine form that revels in the ecstasy of pure devotion for Lord Sri Krishna. Although we may have thought that the Gaudiya skies were about to be plunged into darkness when the full moon of Srila Guru Maharaj disappeared from our view, Srila Guru Maharaj himself had no intention of allowing any darkness to enter his sampradaya. He selected the brilliant, beautiful, and devotional personality of Srila Govinda Maharaj, who can satisfy all our divine aspirations. Seeing him in his effulgent form, delivering a wealth of Hari-katha (narrations of the Supreme Lord) to the pilgrims hailing from the world over, we find that Srila Guru Maharaj never left us. He is residing resplendently in all his divine glory in the personality of Srila Govinda Maharaj.

Visva-gurun cha divya-Bhagavat-premno hi bija-pradam: by the blessings of his Guru Maharaj and his own exalted capacity now we are seeing that he has manifest his holy self as ‘Visva-gurun’, the Guru of the Universe, and he is the bestower of the seed of love divine for the Supreme Lord, Hari. The flag of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math flies high, singing its glories to the world. The fortunate souls from all over the world, far and wide, are coming to hear the nectarean delivery of Hari-katha from Sri Gaurangadev’s pure devotee, Om Visnupad Astottara-sata-sri Srimad Bhakti Sundar Govinda Maharaj. His immaculate delivery infuses divine faith into the hearts of all, planting the seed of transcendental love divine.

Vande (’ham): I offer my humble obeisances unto his holy lotus feet.

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