Today I wish to write about one of the most senior and respected leader of ISKCON HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj.
During my initial days I heard Maharaj’s name often. I also had the good fortune to attend some of his lectures at Punjabi Bagh. I had no idea about Maharaj’s stature and just knew that whenever he was at Punjabi Bagh Temple, there was always more activity and extra enthusiasm in the devotees. But then the same was the case when some other senior Sanyasi would come to the temple. I knew he was special but how special I didn’t know. I found his lectures very simple, yet he had a special potency with which he will drill that simple message deep and he came across has a very humble and sincere sanyasi. That was my initial perception.
As I progressed a little in my spiritual journey and saw Maharaj, my respect for him grew by each day. Everytime I would see him, I would somehow try to get his attention in a polite manner. I would see Maharaj at Vrindavan, often at the mangal arti. As I heard more about him from other sanyasis and Guru Mahraj my respect and greed to meet him grew every day. Last year I was fortunate to receive a small gift from Maharaj, along with many others devotees, for service during the Book distribution Marathon, as HG Rukmini Prabhuji called me and introduced Maharaj to me, he told me that he would like to speak to me. Few months later I got a chance to meet for few minutes at Punjabi Bagh temple. I still hanker for a personal meeting with Maharaj but no such chance came as whenever I saw him he was always surrounded with devotees and I knew I stand no where among those much senior and sincere devotees to catch his attention.
Then one the day before Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance Day I saw Maharaj twice. First as I carried the Palanquin carrying Srila Prabhupada, Maharaj walked right in front of me for some time. The the same day as I was assisting in serving lunch to senior devotees int he Balram hall, in walked maharaj. I was so happy just to see him walking in. He took prasadam, very light, I tried to offer some vegetables and then some sweets but did not took anything, but for me I had served Maharaj.
I saw him many times during Kartik at Vrindavan. As strange it may sound but every time I see Maharaj my hankering to meet him personally grows and I like him more and more at a personal level, without actually knowing him I seem to develop faith and relationship with Maharaj.
I also hear with awe as Sumeet Prabhu would explain me regularly his meetings with maharaj, he seem to meet him every other month with ease, his family is very close to Maharaj. While we were speaking about various sanyasis and glorifying them, we again came back to discuss HH Gopal Krishna Maharaj. We remembered how HH Janananda Maharaj glorified him the other day at Vrindavan, when we went to meet him. He said sanyasis like Gopal Krishna Goswami, Bhakti Charu Maharaj, Jayapataka Maharaj, Radha Nath Swami are all pure and special souls and without special mercy of Srila Prabhupada they can’t do what they are achieving. He specially glorified Maharaj as he handles all the tricky challenges in Russia, is in change of all the big temples being constructed, still does strong Sadhna Bhakti and deity worship.
I remember HG Rukmini Prabhuji telling us early this year in one of the lectures that when asked what is Maharaj’s secret, Maharaj replied` Strong morning Program’ ! A simple statement which underlines Maharaj.
Sumeet Prabhu told me a very interesting incident. When his father was not initiated, he helped maharaj to get a bank loan sanctioned from IOB where he used to work. During one of the later meetings Maharaj glorified his father, thanked him and folded his hands as a matter of respect. Later his brother told Maharaj that he should not have done so much respect as it was their duty to serve in this spiritual movement. Maharaj replied that there were many reasons why he did it
1. His father has not surrendered to Maharaj, only the son.
2. His father was an elder person in age and therefore must be respected as per material world norms
3. He helped in Prabhupad’s mission which is the savior of mankind; such people who help in this process should be profusely thanked
4. By showing etiquette of folding hands, it creates softness in heart and respect for ISKCON.
What not we can learn from such devotees in humility and Vaishanava etiquette. I thought that I uselessly read books and try to find how to become when I can listen to Maharaj’s pastimes and learn directly from his behavior.
Few weeks back I found courage to request HG Vidur Priya Prabhuji to please request Maharaj to visit my new apartment and bless it with his lotus feet. Sumeet Prabhu told me that it is very difficult because Maharaj has a very busy schedule and also as Maharaj has thousands of disciples in Delhi/ NCR so it becomes difficult to please each disciple so he meets everyone at local temple only. Logical, but my mind hankers for his mercy. Some day I may get lucky. And as a bonus the hankering keeps Maharaj in my thoughts.
I will try to please Maharaj by trying to serve devotees at Gurgaon and Punjabi Bagh temple with whatever little efforts I can do.
HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj Ki Jai.
All Glories to Srila Prabhupada.