Sri Sri Guru-Gaurangau Jayatah!
Arriving back in India I see nothing has yet been written about Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj's visit to Soquel, so I will attempt to say something about those glorious days.
Srila Guru Maharaj left San Jose at 9 a.m. on Sunday 12th November and arrived at Soquel at 10 a.m. I felt he was very happy to be there. The Soquel Ashram is a twenty-eight acre country estate and it is hard not to like it. It is very peacefully situated between the mountains and the seashore. It has an artesian well that automatically pumps pure drinking water to the surface twenty-four hours a day.
Srila Guru Maharaj went straight to the Temple to offer dandavat pranams to Their Lordships Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Gandharvvika Giridhari. On the way he stopped to view the large hill behind the Temple -- which many say is Guru Maharaj's Govardhan in the West -- as well as the many fruit trees and plants that dot the hillside. He noticed the clear sky overhead in which many big and beautiful birds were soaring on the waves of air rising from the surrounding hilltops.
After offering obeisances to the Deities Srila Gurudev sat on his vyasasan and spoke a few words. He said the Holy Name is going all over the world by its own accord and said he is the evidence of this, describing himself as a very fallen soul from a rural Indian village but with the opportunity to preach Krishna consciousness all over the world. The Holy Name hasn't just gone all over the world by its own accord, but people are chanting and glorifying the Names of Krishna, Mahaprabhu, Nityananda Prabhu and the Pancha-Tattva. All may not know the full meaning of the Holy Name but they are glorifying those Names. Gurudev explained this to be the special mercy of Krishna for this age of Kali because Krishna wants the souls to come back home, back to Godhead, and He has given Himself in His Holy Name for this purpose. Guru Maharaj said this time and many times when he was so happy to see the Western devotees practising Krishna Consciousness, "Now the sun of Krishna consciousness is rising in the West and setting in the East."
After this short talk Srila Maharaj went to his room for a bath and Prasadam. In the afternoon he met quietly with those who wanted to see him. Then followed the usual Sunday evening program. Hundreds of guest came to see and hear Guru Maharaj. The devotees said it was the best attended program ever at the Soquel Seva Ashram. As Guru Maharaj sat on his vyasasan and took questions he looked like an eternal sadhu who had come from the Himalayas to answer questions from young spiritual seekers of the modern age.
Srila Guru Maharaj answered by explaining that a child will see the sun revolve around the earth and will think the sun is moving and the earth is standing still. When he gets older he will be taught the sun doesn't move but the earth is moving. In primary education it is all right for the child to think the earth is the centre of the universe but in higher education it is necessary to teach the child the sun is the centre of the universe and the earth and all the planets are revolving around it. For higher education it is necessary to have a teacher, and so it is for spiritual education, and in spiritual life the teacher is known as Guru. It is the injunction of all the Scriptures that it isn't possible to learn higher spiritual truths without a teacher, a Guru. Srila Guru Maharaj added that a Guru must come in the proper channel for one to receive the property of Krishna consciousness.
There were many good questions at the program and as always Srila Guru Maharaj answered them all perfectly. At the end he led a beautiful kirttan which must have been heard all over the world. As Guru Maharaj was leaving, the directors of the T.V. station came up and paid their respects to him and thanked him for coming.
Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium
The next evening was a large program at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium. As Srila Guru Maharaj entered he was greeted by music performed by leading players of sitar and tabla. Their music transformed into a kirttan led by Paramahamsa Maharaj as Guru Maharaj took his seat on a huge vyasasan. The sitar and tabla players came and met very respectfully with Guru Maharaj after their performance.
Srila Gurudev's lecture emphasised the chanting of the Holy Name as the means of spiritual life in this age. He said it is a very simple and practical method that doesn't require many austerities. There are only four regulative principles which are necessary to follow for pious life, and it is necessary to receive the Name from the proper channel and to chant it without offences. Every religion chants the Name of their Lord. The Christians chant the name of Jesus. The Muslims chant the Name of Allah. The Buddhists chant the Name of Buddha and the Hindus chant the Name of their various Gods. All these people can't be wrong so there must be some value in chanting the Name of the Lord. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came and gave this simple and direct process of chanting the Holy Name of the Lord and if we follow it we will be benefited.
During the kirttan that followed Guru Maharaj did something I have never seen done quite like this before. As usual he stood during the chanting but then after some time he very slowly and graciously came to where the devotees were chanting. He began to dance slowly and gracefully with all the devotees, all the time with one hand raised beckoning everyone to chant the Holy Names of the Lord. At times he became lost in the crowd and then reappeared. Sometimes he was hard to see and at other times he was completely invisible. Sometimes one could completely see him for a few minutes and then he would disappear again. He would sometimes turn to the right and sometimes to the left. No one knew what his movements would be or where he would go next. As he moved amongst the devotees, their ecstasy increased. He danced in this way amongst all the devotees for a full ten minutes -- ten minutes that will remain in all the devotees' hearts forever.
Srila Guru Maharaj talked about and gave honour to Rsabhdev Prabhu of Soquel who came to India earlier this year to pass away. Srila Gurudev often said, "His desire was fulfilled. He wanted to leave his body in Nabadwip, in front of Gurudev and the Vaishnavas and by the side of the Ganges. All of his desires were fulfilled. I have read about the passing of many Vaishnavas, especially Haridas Thakur, but I have never seen it until now. Sriman Rsabhdev's passing was just like Haridas Thakur's. I read that story many times but I have never seen it until now." Everywhere Guru Maharaj went the devotees heard about the wonderful passing of this great devotee.
On Tuesday 21st November, Guru Maharaj left Soquel. He encouraged all the devotees to continue their seva and make the Soquel Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Seva Ashram even more beautiful than it is already. Hasyapriya Prabhu gave a lot of hope by saying it is likely we can get a permit to build a 7000 sq. ft. house in place of the existing 2500 sq. ft. house. With this, he said, many devotees could come and view Their beautiful Lordships and chant Their unending glories. Guru Maharaj also said, as he also expressed in Singapore and Hawaii, that if he got the chance he would be happy to come back and spend a longer period of time here in the association of the many sincere devotees.
-Chidananda Dasa Brahmachari
21 December 2000
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