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Gour govinda Swami
Receiving Gopal's blessings, Gour Gopal left Gadeigiri and traveled to Cuttack, where he spent the night. The next morning he set off by train to the Himalayas where he wandered in search of a guru. In a 1989 conversation Gour Govinda Swami re¬counted some of those days:I was born here in Orissa. Many Vaishnavas are here. There are so many tnathas of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Gosvami here in Orissa. I know many Vaishnavas. I was born in a Vaishnava family. From my childhood I have been attracted to Mahaprabhu. From an early age I was performing sankirian and worshiping Radha Krishna deities. In my family we were reading the Bhagavatam. I was born in such an atmosphere. But I had to search out a bona '' fide gwrw. I wandered from the Himalayas to !, Kanya Kumari, throughout the whole of India. Although I met many Vaishnavas, I was not satisfied with them.I was a secondary school teacher. I gave up my service. I gave up my family. I had seven children. I had land and property twenty-five years government service with a pension, but I gave up everything and left home. I searched throughout India and met many Vaishnavas and many jnams and mystic yogis. I had dis¬cussions with them. Then I told them, "Sastra, scripture, says, harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam, kalau nastyeva nastyeva .nastyeva gatir anyatah. Only the chanting of the 4 holy names of Krishna is the yuga-dharma in kali-yuga, the process for this age. Why shall we do all these gymnastics, teffta-yoa, ti/zi/-yoga, etc.?"At last they told me, "Get out of here." 1 said, "All right. Thank you. I am going." After wandering through all these places, at last I came to Vrindavan. That was my final goal. I thought, "Let me finish all parts of India, and at last I will go to Vrindavan." Vrindavan is the very dear land of Krishna. I had full belief that Krishna would shower His blessings upon me in His beloved land of Vrindavan. At that time I was a wandering sadhu. I was not actually a sadhu. I had just put on saffron dress, like that, so I was out¬wardly appearing to be a sadhu.
Not having money for the train ticket, Gour Gopal convinced the ticket collector to allow him free pas¬sage to Mathura. It was September 1974. For some time he movedi from place to place, staying at different asramas for one night at a time. At one Gaudiya Vaishnava temple, seeing that he didn't have a sikha the devotees mistook him for a mdyavad sannyasT and kicked him out. After some days he came to The International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Ar¬riving at their property in Raman Reti, Vrindavan, one devotee gave him a copy of the society's maga¬zine. Back to Godhead. Seeing the photo in the maga¬zine of the founder-flCflri/a, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, he immediately felt attracted to him. He decided that he must go to see Srila Prabhupada. However, when Srila Prabhupada's secretary saw his matted hair, beard, and torn cloth he was reluctant to allow him in.Gour Govinda Swami recounts:When I arrived in Vrindavan I found so many temples and asramas where nama-sankirtan was going on, so I wandered about. I would spend each day in a different asrama to see what was going on there.One day I saw a sign, "International Soci¬ety for Krishna Consciousness, Founder Acarya His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada." I went there. Construction had just started. No temple was there at that time, only huts. Prabhupada's room was :,, the only real building. Devotees were staying in the huts and some married couples were staying outside in rented houses. I entered the compound and saw many western devotees with shaven heads, tilak, and neck beads chanting Hare Krishna. I was very impressed.Some devotee gave me a copy of Back to Godhead magazine. I looked through it and thought, "Oh, it's very nice." This was the thing I was searching for. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's mes¬sage was there. Bhagavatam was there. I in¬quired whether the founder-acfln/fl. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja was present. Fortunately he was there at that time. So I wanted to meet him. The devotee told me that I should speak with his secretary who will make the arrangements.
At that time Brahmananda Swami was his secretary. So I went to him
and requested, "Please make some arrangement that I can meet Srila Prabhupada."He
said, "Why do you want to meet him?"I said, "I want to pay
obeisances to him. I only have a few words to say. It is a very serious matter.
Please allow me." I repeatedly paid my obeisances to Brahmananda Swami and
asked him to allow me to see Srila Prabhupada.Finally he went inside
Prabhupada's room and said, "Some sadhu is here asking for your
darsan.""All right, let him come," Prabhupada said.
So I went into the room. It was midday.Prabhupada had just taken his noon prasad and was sitting on a chair. Nobody was there. I offered my obeisances. At first sight I felt that Prabhupada could understand me.He asked, "Where have you come from? What is your name?" Seeing my garb he said, "Have you taken sannyasa?"I said, "No, I have not taken sannyasa."He said, "I'll give you sannyasa."Then I could understand, "He is a genu¬ine guru because he knows my heart. He is caitya guru. I was in search of such a person under whom I could take shelter. I took shelter of him. My heart was naturally attracted toward him. I had full faith in Krishna and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and They helped me.This is my experience. I have met so many Vaishnavas, so many godbrothers of Prabhupada. Some are still here in Orissa, they come here. Whenever they come to Bhubaneswar they come to me. I don't go to them.Hearing about Gour Gopal's academic ability, Srila Prabhupada requested him to translate one of his articles from the Back to Godhead magazine into Hindi. Srila Prabhupada appreciated the work and ordered him to translate more. Gour Gopal then translated Srila Prabhupada's first book. Easy Journey to Other Planets, into Hindi. Aside from translating, Gour Gopal en¬gaged in whatever service was requested of him. He cooked, washed pots, and cleaned the temple. A few months later in Bombay he received first initiation from Srila Prabhupada. At that time his name became Gour Govinda Das. A few months after that in Mayapur, West Bengal, Srila Prabhupada gave him second ini¬tiation and sent him to preach in Orissa.