Devotional Life of an Acharya

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[The following is an excerpt from the book Sri Guru Nityananda Prabhu and His Divine Mercy]


There is a village called Gadei Giri, located over one hundred-fifty kilometers from Jagannatha Puri, which was heavily influenced by the preaching of Sri Shyamananda Pandita Prabhu. In this holy place, the worship of Sri Sri Radha Gopala jiu was conducted through the regular chanting of Hare Krishna Mahamantra, as well as the singing of bhajans about Sri Sri Radha Krishna and Shriman Mahaprabhu composed by Shriman Mahaprabhu's devotees, especially Srila Narottama Dasa Thakura.

The History of Gadei Giri and Sri Sri Radha Gopala jiu

Far away from the city life, surrounded by simple beautiful ponds of lotus flowers, striking coconut and banana trees situated along the paddy rice fields enhance the beauty of this village which exists solely for the pleasure of Sri Sri Radha Gopala jiu. Cows can be seen grazing in the fields and birds can be heard singing their beautiful songs. Mostly people live very simply and humbly in mud cottages. They have Tulasi plants in the courtyard and work on the surrounding farms. In the middle of all this natural beauty there is a village called Gadei Giri, where there is a simple but very special and divine mud hut in which Sri Sri Radha Gopala jiu originally resided and were worshiped by devotees who have been following the tradition set by Srila Shyamananda Pandita prabhu for over three centuries.

The Gadei Giri village was established around the late seventeen century and it is named after a very dear, pure and sincere devotee, Sri Gadei Giri who founded this village upon hearing the transcendental sounds of flute and ankle bells in the middle of the jungle. At other times he heard the auspicious sound of conch-shell and ringing of the temple bells and considering this place to be highly sacred and tapo-bhumi, he made a little temple along with his residence. Gradually other people came to stay there and it became a village.

The Giri family's tradition to worship Gopala has been the real treasure of the family. They worshipped Gopala by serving Him constantly. All their activities were in relation to the pleasure and service of Gopala only. They wore Vaishnava-tilak, had three strings of tulasi beads around their neck and wore dhoti and had sikha. They simply loved Gopala and did everything to please Him and His beloved Shrimati Radharani. They chanted Hare Krishna Mahamantra and regularly studied Shrimad Bhagavatam, Sri Caitanya-caritamarita, Bhagavad-gita, Ramayana and other scriptures. They sang the songs of Sri Vidyapati, Sri Chandidasa and other Vaishnava Acharyas including Srila Narottama Dasa Thakura. They were very expert in presenting the Lord's pastimes in songs and then explaining the meaning, which is the traditional way of preaching for Gaudiya Vaishnavas.

More than two centuries after the Giri family had so devotedly worshiped Sri Sri Radha Gopala jiu, generation after generation, and pleased The Lordships with great kirtan, Sri Sri Radha Gopala jiu called Their Own devotee directly from Goloka-Vrindavan to spread Their glories around the world. Now Sri Sri Radha-Gopaljiu desired to break open the door of Their mercy to the entire world.

Sri Bauribandhu Giri was a great devotee of Krishna who also served Sri Sri Radha Gopala jiu from his childhood like his ancestors had. All his actions and activities were for the pleasure of Krishna. He would ecstatically chant, dance and perform kirtan for the pleasure of Sri Sri Radha Gopala jiu, so much so that at times it is said that Gopala jiu would come and dance with him. He had two sons and a daughter. All children were devoted to the service of Sri Sri Radha Gopala jiu.

Appearance in a Vaishnava Family

Sri Bauribandhu's daughter Pata Devi had an inclination and natural attachment to the service of Sri Sri Radha Gopala jiu. However, along with rendering variety of personal loving devotional service, Pata Devi had a special attachment for chanting Hare Krishna Mahamantra and hearing Shrimad Bhagavatam, Mahabharat, Ramayan, Caitanya-caritamarita and various other Puranas. She was also able to memorize the verses as she was hearing. By the Lordships mercy, Pata Devi's marriage was arranged with Sri Ishwar Chandra Manik whose family was also initiated into the Vaishnava tradition for several generations and was chanting Hare Krishna Mahamantra and singing the songs of Srila Narottama Dasa Thakura and worshiping Shrimati Tulasi Devi. Sri Ishwar Chandra Manik and Shrimati Pata Devi both had strong faith in the glories of Shrimad Bhagavatam.

They lived little over fifteen kilometers away from the village of Gadei Giri in the village called Jagannathapura. By following the Vedic tradition the couple begot their first son. Both the parents were regularly reciting various scriptures including Shrimad Bhagavatam, Caitanya-caritamarita, Bhagavad-gita and Ramayana, along with daily morning worship of Tulasi Devi. All along Shrimati Pata Devi was constantly praying for a son who would be a pure devotee and would serve Sri Sri Radha Gopala jiu, thus keeping up the family tradition.

In the year 1929, Lord Balarama's appearance day was celebrated by reciting various scriptures and kirtan that lasted for several days. About two weeks later, Sri Krishna Janmashtami was celebrated with great kirtan and devotion. Shrimati Pata Devi was fully absorbed in the loving celebration for the appearance days of Krishna and Balarama. The only thing she prayed and requested the Lordships for was a child who would serve Sri Sri Radha Gopala jiu.

Finally, a week after Sri Krishna Janmashtami and a week before Sri Radhashtami, on September 2, 1929, at about 7.30 AM (According to the Georgian calendar, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura also appeared on 2nd September), the kirtan was going on outside the small mud hut, when the beautiful rays of shining Sun touched the roof of the mud hut and dissipated the darkness of night. The soft pink lotuses in the pond along with various other flower buds were opening to welcome the special sunshine of that day, and varieties of birds were singing wonderful songs. The cows started inviting their calves to drink milk, the deer and the doe went out in search for food, bumblebees rushed towards the blooming lotus flowers, eagerly waiting to suck the special honey, and butterflies started singing beautiful songs while the soft reddish and golden hue of the morning Sun was welcomed by everyone. The bells in the temples were ringing and shringar arati was going on while Vedic hymns were being chanted. At this auspicious time, the child appeared in this world. At the Supreme Will of Shriman Mahaprabhu, an eternal associate of Lord Nityananda and dear devotee of Shriman Mahaprabhu appeared from the womb of Shrimati Pata Devi, a devotee of Gopala and the daughter of the Giri family.

Within the family everyone hoped, prayed and expected a devotee of Sri Sri Radha Gopala jiu, but what they could not expect beyond the realm of their thoughts was that like a Sun, this child, a pure premi-bhakta, would dispel the darkness of kali-yuga through his pure shining personal example, by preaching world wide and spreading the glories of Sri Sri Radha Gopala jiu and Shriman Mahaprabhu. The tremulous kirtan was going on at Gadei Giri on the birth of the son in the house of the Giri family, and Sri Sri Radha Gopala jiu became very happy to have a devotee who descended from Goloka Vrindavan to spread Their glories. The child was named Brajabandhu.

Sri Brajabandhu Manik, who would later came to be known as His Divine Grace Gour Govinda Swami Srila Gurudeva, was a devotee from birth and his activities from his very appearance were transcendental, unique, and the family was highly amazed at the unusual activities of the child, Brajabandhu. Shrimati Pata Devi would have to sing the Hare Krishna Mahamantra at night to put her dear son to sleep. Every year the parents recited the complete twelve cantos of Shrimad Bhagavatam to their loving child. They started initiating him to Vaishnavism by teaching him various Vedic etiquettes; however they were surprised to see that all these Vedic etiquettes were very natural to him and he did not struggle to learn them. The little child was automatically so eager to bow down and pay obeisances to Shrimati Tulasi Devi. Every time he visited Sri Sri Radha Gopala jiu mandir he would pay repeated obeisances to the Lordships. As he grew up and began to walk on his own, he started dancing for Sri Sri Radha Gopala jiu.

Once a renowned blind astrologer named Nityananda Khadiratna came to Gadei Giri. Brajabandhu was a small child and was visiting Gadei Giri with his mother at that time. Shrimati Pata devi was very happy to learn along with other things that Krishna Himself had sent his child from His abode to the material world for preaching His message and for the deliverance of the conditioned souls.

As a little child, whenever Brajabandhu's mother could not make him stop crying, she would bring Shrimad Bhagavatam for him to hold and this would stop his crying immediately. Even when he was really young and had just learned reading, he would read Shrimad Bhagavatam with so much devotion and dedication that he would forget to honor his prasadam. Electricity had not reached all the villages at that time but Brajabandhu was so interested in reading Shrimad Bhagavatam that he would sit close to his mother in the kitchen and in the mere light of the cooking fire he would read the glorious pastimes of the Lord described in Shrimad Bhagavatam. From his very child hood, he started serving Sri Sri Radha Gopala jiu by plucking flowers, making beautiful garlands, sweeping and cleaning the temple, washing the Lordships clothes and even stitching their clothes. He also helped in various other ways by preparing food for the Lordships and above all singing and dancing for Their pleasure. He was always very excited about going on padayatra with his uncles to other villages.

To read more about the life and teachings of His Divine Grace Srila Gour Govinda Swami, please visit

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