”We are blessed to be here in the association
of our Sri Acharyyadev His Divine Grace Srila Govinda Maharaj, along
with his beloved devotees in Soquel, California. His Grace is gradually
recovering from the strain of traveling and is reminding us that
he has come here, in part, to improve his health in the peaceful
atmosphere of this rural ashram. Today Srila Gurudev showed more
energy and came down to the temple room, offering his dandavat pranams
to Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Gandharvika Giridhari and graced the assembly
of devotees with sweet harikatha. After ten minutes or so, Srila
Gurudev said that he was not able to talk very much. He added that
he wanted to speak longer, but he had spent most of his life talking.
And now he could not stop. What to do?
Earlier, in his room, His Divine Grace enthusiastically told about
the pastimes of Sri Adwaita Acharrya and his consort, Sita Thakurani,
whose appearance day was recently observed. He shared one story
about Adwaita Acharyya Prabhu, who was lamenting that Mahaprabhu
was always giving him too much honor. The Vaisnavas and Mahaprabhu
offered all respect to Sri Adwaita Prabhu because of his advanced
age but did not allow him to reciprocate in the same way. This distressed
Sri Adwaita Prabhu so much that he devised a plan to trick Mahaprabhu.
Sri Adwaita began to preach the Mayavadi philosophy in the village.
A report came to Mahaprabhu that Adwaita Acaryya Prabhu was now
engaged in preaching about the impersonal form of the Lord. Mahaprabhu
showed His divine anger and began beating Sri Adwaita with a stick.
He beat him over and over while chastising him until Sita Thakurani
intervened and begged Mahaprabhu to stop. She reminded the Lord
that Her husband was an old man who would surely die if the beating
continued. But all this time Sri Adwaita Prabhu, in his humility,
was feeling so much happiness. The Supreme Lord was no longer treating
him with great respect, but blessing him again and again with His
After recalling this pastime with a delightful grin, Srila Gurudev
made comments about the clean air at the Soquel Seva Ashram, which
is situated on several acres of a beautifully wooded gulch, or ravine,
near the northern California coast. He said he believes the climate
will aid his healing He also made observations about the changes
he sees since his last visit four years ago. He pointed out that
the bright yellow sunflowers are so much bigger. He showed affection
for the ashram dogs and told stories about the dogs he had in his
earlier years. After taking a little walk around the beautiful grounds
of the ashram, which include fruit orchards and flower gardens,
Srila Gurudev said he thought this Soquel ashram was like Govardhan.
He repeated that Soquel reminded him of Govardhan and San Jose of
Vrindavan. So often he sees places come in twos like this. In Calcutta,
there is Dum Dum Park and Kaikhali; then there is Nabadwip and Hapaniya.
Near Vrindaban, in the district of Mathura, there is Govardhan.
Looking out to the rear of the temple, one can see how the land
rises gently to form a broad hill that is reminiscent of Sri Govardhan.
Hearing Srila Govinda Maharaj share this holy vision makes us appreciate
the land and the many devotees who are serving in this ashram. Now
there are many devotees visiting and seeking the mercy of Srila
Gurudev and the Vaisnavas. Today it rained very hard and devotees
from Tijuana and other areas of Mexico, Venezuela, England, Canada,
Oregon, Utah, and many different cities in California made their
way through the downpour to the shelter of His Divine Grace’s
feet. He seemed happy to see his growing family in front of him.
At one point he asked about the possibility of expanding the size
of the visiting room.
Srila Gurudev is sometimes playing out the pastime of diminished
health but he has given us reminders that we should not see the
Guru with our mundane vision. Also His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti
Raksak Sridhar Dev Goswami Maharaj says in Sri Guru and His Grace,
“We must not identify our guru with the appearance we perceive
with our physical senses. Our inner identification of him will be
clarified according to the growth of our vision. When our vision
increases and takes shape from the material to transcendental, his
look will also change accordingly.” He also says, “But
that does not mean that one should disregard the physical form of
our guru. But the real importance is within.”
In Divine Guidance Srila Govinda Maharaj tells us that when he goes
before Sri Jagannathdev in His Temple he says to Him, “My
dandavat pranams to Your lotus feet. I am present here, Sir. I am
here.” He notes, “please see me,” means “My
good and my bad - everything is in front of You. You please make
me as You like to see me.” In a similar mood we may try to
approach Srila Gurudev. “I am here at Your lotus feet. Please
With a similar sentiment, I offer my obeisances to His Divine Grace
Srila Govinda Maharaj, our divine Guru-varga and all the venerable
Jagamohini Devi Dasi