The Departure of His Holiness Gopal Krsna Goswami

By Niranjana Swami - 9.5 2024

My heart grieves today, having heard about the departure of such an outstanding Vaisnava as His Holiness Gopal Krsna Goswami. I offer my condolences to the thousands of Vaisnavas and Vaisnavis worldwide whose hearts must be aching with intense feelings of separation from the physical loss of their spiritual master, guide, friend, and well-wisher.

Last year, I posted a blog about my meeting with Gopal Krsna Goswami in Delhi. If you have not read it yet, please do. It follows below. You will get a small sense of what kind of Vaisnava he is. As the expression goes, “Love is in the details.” That was Gopal Krsna Goswami. He was always attentive to details.

The last time I was with him was in Pune last October. The following photo, I believe, was taken at that time. Maharaja looked even more frail than when I had seen him earlier in the year. But that did not stop him from greeting his godbrothers, attending the temple programs, getting down on the floor to offer his full obeisances to the Deities and Srila Prabhupada even though he had to walk with help, and just being the perfect exemplary Vaisnava he always has been.

That evening, a class was scheduled on the temple grounds. There was a huge gathering for the event. Gopal Krsna Maharaja spoke in Hindi, but I sat through the class with a translator beside me. Maharaja was lucid and vibrant. He spoke about Damodara-lila, and especially book distribution. He requested everyone present to double book distribution over the previous year.

After the lecture, when someone summarized a few points from Maharaja’s talk in English, it was mentioned that Gopal Krsna Maharaja’s expressed desire was to double book distribution. Gopal Krsna Maharaja promptly clarified, “It’s not my desire; it’s Srila Prabhupada’s desire.” Srila Prabhupada’s book distribution was always a priority in Gopal Krsna Maharaja’s heart. Please see the following photo.

Here is my blog from last year.

His Holiness Gopal Krsna Goswami ki jaya!!

I arrived in Delhi late on the 16th night and spent the night at the Delhi temple. I was enlivened to learn from Karabhajana dasa that Gopal Krsna Goswami was there in the temple, and even more enlivened when I was toldthat Gopal Krsna Maharaja asked if I would take breakfast with him in the morning.

After attempting to rest from a long day’s trip from Taiwan, including a four- hour transit in Singapore, upon rising I chanted most of my japa and then went to the temple room to take darshan of Srila Prabhupada, Sri Sri Gaura Nitai, Radha Partha Sarathi, and lastly Sita Rama Laksman Hanuman. As expected all of the Deities were dressed gorgeously. It was difficult to take my eyes off from Them.

I then learned from one of my hosts that devotees are preparing to install Lord Nrsimhadeva next month and was taken to the area where He will be installed. My impression was that they are preparing quite an elaborate Deity installation festival. However, not wanting to keep Gopal Krsna Maharaja waiting for me I reminded the devotees that I needed to be prompt for breakfast, at which time I was taken to his room.

I’ve known Gopal Krsna Maharaja for many years. Having served with Ma- haraja as a co-GBC in Canada more than 30 years ago I had many opportunities back then to spend time together with him.

Gopal Krsna Maharaja has so many outstanding qualities about which I could write. But yesterday morning I was immediately reminded that he is an amazing example of Vaisnava hospitality.

I was aware that Maharaja has not been keeping in very good health, which already had me concerned about not taking too much of his time. But that did not stop him from hosting a breakfast with more preparations than I could count… what to speak of all of the delicious Radha Partha Sarathi maha-prasadam which was also set out for me on the table.

Being a little jet-lagged, I was not able to honor very much of the prasadam, but fortunately we did get the opportunity to “catch up” with each other. We had not met each other in person since before the pandemic.

Gopal Krsna Maharaja inquired about the devotees in Ukraine and I then inquired about his health. It was the wrong topic. He said that he was fine but that he was diagnosed with a throat infection which was already improving. We quickly switched to the preaching in Delhi and Maharaja then shared with me that there are currently 15 temples in Delhi. I suggested that it would likely take several days to visit each temple in Delhi alone. Maharaja then invited me for a two-day parikrama to each of the temples. I did not commit, but I’m going to have to seriously consider it. Fifteen full-fledged temples in one city is no small achievement!

After some more exchanges, I told Maharaja that there was likely a taxi waiting for me to take me to Govardhana. It was then that I learned that Maharaja had a arranged for his personal driver to take me to Govardhana, so there was no need to be concerned about the time of my departure.

When it did come time to leave, I was shown to the new elevator which was made for Maharaja to move between floors. It was installed not long ago to assist Maharaja in his movements throughout the temple. It was a small ele- vator which could not fit more than two people. I suggested that due to my size it might not fit more than one, thinking that Gopal Krsna Maharaja might be thinking to go down in it. Still, I wasn’t exactly sure why the elevator was brought to our floor. Looking at Maharaja, I then just assumed that I would be leaving Maharaja. So I offered my obeisances and agreed to go down in the small lift.

To my surprise, but much to Gopal Krsna Maharaja’s nature, by the time I landed on the first floor, Gopal Krsna Maharaja had already walked down the stairs (although it was visibly not easy for him to do so) in order to accom- pany me to the car.

I was totally embarrassed, but not surprised. This was just another confirmation that Maharaja was Vaisnava hospitality personified. I learned a lot from his example.

Hare Krsna
Below are some photos which Maharaja’s secretary forwarded to me this morning.