Where there is a guru...
by Premavatar das
Posted May 14, 2003

Dear readers, please accept my dandavat pranams. All glories to Sri Sri Guru and Gauranga.

I recently found an article entitled Prabhupada's Pranama Mantra (written by Gopakumara dasa) posted here at Chakra. In this reply, I would like to clarify a point made in that article.

One of the basic tenets of our Vaisnava faith is that when the Lord descends to our world, he appears together with his entourage. This is necessary for his lila to unfold in all its magnitude. Because of this, the entourage of the Lord is also worshipable for the devotee. The same principle is valid regarding the Vaisnava guru. The guru neither appears nor acts in a vacuum, nor is he worshipped in that way. Indeed the word 'acharya' means 'one who teaches by example'. The guru does not only instruct others through his verbal teachings, but also through his dealings with others and the environment.

Many devotees have seen the famous photo of Srila Prabhupad and Srila Sridhar Maharaj seated together at the inauguration of the Sri Mayapur Chandrodaya Mandir (for those interested, the whole lecture given by Srila Sridhar Maharaj at that ceremony as well as video footage is available for download at http://www.vaisnava.com).

Sadly, devotees often see only parts of the original photo, where we can also see who is actually leading the kirttan where both Srila Prabhupad and Srila Sridhar Maharaj are singing, namely Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Maharaj.

That same Srila Govinda Maharaj is the actual composer of the pranam mantra submitted by Gopakumara Prabhu here at Chakra a few days ago - it is not composed by Srila Sridhar Maharaj, as stated by Gopakumar Prabhu (the complete prayer, with diacritics and correctly spelled, is available at http://www.scsmath.com/n_corner/trove/dailyprog.pdf).

Of course, in a way this is 'just a detail', since Srila Govinda Maharaj is the spiritual successor of Srila Sridhar Maharaj, and since they worked so intimately for so long. But just like we can learn a lot from the relations Srila Prabhupad maintained with his disciples, the same is also true for Srila Sridhar Maharaj. Where there is a guru, there is also a disciple and follower, and their relationship is beautiful to behold.

While this is not the place to enter into a detailed description of the relationship between Srila Prabhupad, Srila Sridhar Maharaj and Srila Govinda Maharaj, it is worth noting that they maintained a close relationship for several decades. It is not that Srila Prabhupad or Srila Sridhar Maharaj related to one another in a vacuum. The tree of them even lived together in Calcutta in the 1940's, where Srila Govinda Maharaj was personally instructed in the Bhagavad-Gita by Srila Prabhupad. Later, Srila Govinda Maharaj became the first distributor of the Back to Godhead magazine. And in the 1980's, Srila Sridhar Maharaj composed the pranam mantra of his own dear disciple, Srila Govinda Maharaj. No wonder, then, that Srila Govinda Maharaj would also honour his siksa-guru Srila Prabhupad through composing such a beautiful pranam mantra as the one posted here at Chakra by Gopakumara Prabhu.

With humble regards to the reader, and apologies for any offences and mistakes,
Premavatar das
(A disciple of Srila Govinda Maharaj)