Sri Sri Guru-Gaurangau Jayatah!
After Srila Gurudev's auspicious stay in San Jose, he came to the Soquel Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Seva Ashram on Sunday, November 12th. This older Ashram, planted in the lush Santa Cruz Mountains, is quite a change from the bustling metropolis on the other side of the valley. The Soquel Ashram is a peaceful haven to city life, surrounded with redwood trees and grassy hills. Fragrant eucalyptus trees border one edge of the property and shade Srila Govinda Maharaj's house.
The fresh air is filled with the constant hum of service. The residents of the Ashram and guests are all happily engaged in cooking for Sri Guru Gauranga Gandharvika Giridhari, gardening, cleaning, maintaining the property, offering worship to the Deities, and chanting the Holy Name of the Lord. With the divine presence of Srila Govinda Maharaj, all of these activities seem to fall into the most harmonious accord.
Srimati Diksavati didi said, "Srila Gurudev brought all of the devotees together. He made us feel like we were -- and still are -- part of his family." Indeed, his holy presence strengthened the spiritual community in Soquel.
Yudhamanyu Prabhu commented, "He made us realise what a wonderful community we have and what good association we have with each other."
While Srila Govinda Maharaj was visiting, his exemplary transcendental mood of devotion touched all. Swarnangi didi said, "He increased everybody's affection. Now so many can take initiation and their hearts are changed." Srila Gurudev showered this mercy on all persons and, like Srutasrava Prabhu stated, "he melted everybody's heart, filling them with enthusiasm and spiritual hope."
In the presence of such a pure personality, one can really appreciate the good fortune of having the association of the devotees and a strong service connection at the Ashram. Things are put into a different perspective. Uddhava Prabhu commented, "He had an effect on everything: the community, myself, the animals, the plants; everything was more beautiful."
Along with this general spiritual "upliftment," many cherish the memories with Srila Govinda Maharaj. During the early morning hours he gave the devotees his sweet darshan. Kalindi didi remembered how "he was praising the devotees for coming so early. He thanked them for sharing their energy."
This was also a time when Maharaj had more strength to speak at length about philosophical and other intimate matters. Although he discoursed about many subjects, the most repeated and emphasised ones were on the subject of avoiding Vaisnav aparadha, behaving humbly, tolerantly and giving honour to others.
Sometimes in the afternoon Srila Gurudev would take a walk around the eucalyptus trees and hills, from where one could view the expanse of the forested countryside. He would walk slowly, stopping occasionally to gaze out over the horizon or watch the children playing in the grass. During these quiet, personal moments with Srila Govinda Maharaj, one really felt lucky to be alive.
The area of Santa Cruz, although very expensive to live in, is rich with natural beauty. Kalindi didi mentions how Srila Gurudev went to see the ocean a couple of times. She said, "It was nice just to be close to him and watch him observe everything, like the waves and the sea lions."
The ashram is a wonderful place for the devotees to gather and receive the guidance of Srila Gurudev. Furthermore, Yudhamanyu Prabhu points out, "Srila Govinda Maharaj said that Krishna gave us this property and we should protect it."
In conclusion, I can say that all of the sincere participants of the mission of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math in California are inspired by Srila Govinda Maharaj's visit and that we are counting the days until he bestows his sweet association on as all once again.
28 December 2000
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