A Real Vaishnava
Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj
Srila Gurudev recalls a story which illustrates the importance
of honouring all devotees who are dear to Sri Guru.
Once I was with Srila Guru Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj, and a pilgrimage party in the Mathura Railway station. We had a group of about sixty-five people with us and were travelling in a reserved train carriage. At that time I saw on the platform the leader of the Mayapur party of devotees, Srimad Bhakti Vilas Tirtha Maharaj, who was Prabhupad Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur’s secretary. He also had a pilgrimage party with him, and it was bigger than ours. He had perhaps one hundred people with him, and he also had a reserved carriage on the same train.
I saw Tirtha Maharaj and his party not far from our party. No one from our party went over to their party, and no one from their party came over to our party. When both parties were departing the station to go and visit the Yamuna and the temples in the area, I was walking with Srila Guru Maharaj, Paramahamsa Maharaj, and others. I could see Tirtha Maharaj walking and talking with five or six devotees.
At that time I said to Srila Guru Maharaj, “I want to go over there.”
Guru Maharaj asked, “What for?”
I replied, “Only to offer my obeisance. There on the platform is Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur’s secretary. I can see him from here, but I am not offering my obeisance to him. I do not think this is good. But I will follow whatever you order.”
Guru Maharaj was very happy to hear my answer and he said, “You can go. You have the right to do so. So go.”
Then I went over to offer my obeisance to Tirtha Maharaj. When Tirtha Maharaj saw me, he was surprised, “Govinda Maharaj, Sridhar Maharaj’s secretary, has come to offer his obeisance to me?!” Then he said to his followers, “You see Govinda Maharaj: he is a real Vaishnava.” I was very shy to hear this. He asked me, “How is your Guru Maharaj? Where are you going from here?” and other questions. Two or three times during our conversation he remarked, “Govinda Maharaj is a real Vaishnava. His heart is always inclined in a devotional way. Do you see this?”
I was very shy during our conversation, and afterwards I offered my obeisance to him again. I talked with the other devotees with him a little bit, and then I returned to Guru Maharaj. Guru Maharaj asked me, “What did Tirtha Maharaj say to you?”
I explained what he said, and Guru Maharaj replied, “I also think that [I also think that you are a real Vaishnava]. When you wanted to meet him, remembrance of my Gurudev came to me. He was Prabhupad’s secretary, and you saw him walking nearby. I think that it was necessary for you to offer your obeisance to him, yet I cannot boldly say to you, “Go there and offer your obeisance.” Also, it was not necessary for our whole party to do that. If any one goes over to that group, they may be converted. So restriction is necessary for them. But that group cannot convert you. You wanted to go over to offer your obeisance to him and I am very happy.”
Our association with Srila Guru Maharaj was very nice. Guru Maharaj had no envy or anger towards anyone from any party. He always lived with an affectionate devotional mood, and I am trained by him in that.