Hare Krishna and pranams dear devotees,
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 HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj’s name often. I also had the good fortune to attend some of maharaj’s lectures at Punjabi Bagh. I was new and had no idea about Maharaj’s stature. I just knew that whenever maharaj would visit ISKCON Punjabi Bagh Temple, there was always more activity and extra enthusiasm in the devotees. But then the same was also the case when some other senior Sanyasis would come to the temple. I know maharaj was special but how special I didn’t know. I found maharaj’s lectures very simple, yet he had a special potency with which he will drill that simple message deep in my heart. HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj came across as a very humble and sincere sanyasi. That was my initial impression.
As I progressed a little in my spiritual journey and saw Maharaj, my respect for him grew by each day. Every time I would see maharaj, 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 HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj from my Guru Maharaj and other sanyasis 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, Maharaj told me that he would like to speak to me. Few months later I got a chance the meet maharaj for few minutes at Punjabi Bagh temple. In that meeting HH Gopal Krishna Maharaj asked me about myself and how I became a devotee. When I shared that one of my friend gave me Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad Gita and my life changed. In a very innocent manner maharaj smiled and replied how by simply reading Bhagavad Gita his life changed, this shows the potency of Bhagavad Gita ‘as it is’ and the need to distribute it. Maharaj asked me the name of the person who gave me Bhagavad Gita. Then to my utter shock Maharaj said he would like to meet my friend and thank him!
(p.s.- Maharaj did meet that friend, Mukul Harmilapi, after a few months and thanked him personally!)
I still hankered 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 stood no chance to catch maharaj’s attention among so many senior and sincere devotees.
Then on the day before Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance day I saw Maharaj twice in Vrindavan. First as I carried the Palanquin carrying Srila Prabhupada deity, Maharaj walked right in front of me for some time. Then the same day as I was assisting in serving lunch to senior devotees in the Balaram hall, in walked maharaj! I was so happy just to see maharaj walking in. Maharaj took prasadam. he ate very light. I tried to serve some vegetables and later some sweets but maharaj did not took anything else, but for me I had served Maharaj.
I saw maharaj many times during Kartik at Vrindavan. Strange as 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 maharaj 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 maharaj every other month with ease, his family was 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 maharaj the other day at Vrindavan, when we went to meet him. He said sanyasis like HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj, Bhakti Charu Maharaj, Jayapataka Maharaj, RadhaNath 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 maharaj handles all the tricky challenges in Russia and is also in change of all the big temples being constructed, still has strong Sadhna Bhakti and time for 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, HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj replied ‘Strong morning Program‘ ! A simple statement which underlines Maharaj’s message and instruction for all of us.
Sumeet Prabhu told me a very interesting incident. When his father was not initiated, he helped HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj to get a bank loan sanctioned from IOB Bank where he used to work. During one of the meetings Maharaj glorified his father, thanked him and folded his hands as a matter of respect. Later Summet Prabhu’s brother, who was maharaj’s initiated disciple, told Maharaj that maharaj should not have offered so much respect to his father 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 Prabhupada’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.
We can learn so much from maharaj as to how to practice humility and Vaishanava etiquette. I thought that I uselessly read books and try to find how to become humble 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 our new home and bless us 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. Hence maharaj meets everyone at the local temple only. Logical, but I was hankering for his mercy. I thought some day I may get lucky. And as a bonus the hankering keeps Maharaj in my thoughts.
( p.s. – By the mercy of devotees, HH Gopal krishna Goswami Maharaj finally showered his mercy upon us as maharaj visited our new home on Diwali eve. Maharaj was the first person to enter our new home, we shifted after maharaj’s visit)
I will try to please HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj by trying to serve devotees at Gurgaon and Punjabi Bagh temple with whatever little efforts I can do.
All glories to HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj.
All Glories to Srila Prabhupada.
p.s.- I wrote this blog originally in December 2013, this is a updated version.