Expect the unexpected! It sometimes felt this way when spending time in the association of Srila Gurudev, His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj. All over the world devotees were witness to so many unexpected, miraculous events. Even Srila Govinda Maharaj himself commented on numerous occasions that many miracles had taken place in his life. Here is the story of one of those miracles.
It was in 1996 and Srila Govinda Maharaj was sitting on his verandah in Nabadwip. This was before his verandah was renovated, so it was a very small area and this added to the intimacy of the darshans with His Divine Grace.
This was a time before email and the internet. Communications between the devotees and Srila Govinda Maharaj mainly took place in person or through letters that were mailed. Only occasionally did a phone call make it through. Mobile phones did not exist. Telephones were all land lines but they were not always reliable and it was not uncommon for the phone in Nabadwip to be dead for days at a time.
There were only a few devotees with Srila Govinda Maharaj that afternoon. I was there with Aravinda Lochan Prabhu, Jagadananda Prabhu, Swarnangii Devi and a few others.
The phone had been out of service for at least a week. You could not call out to anyone nor could you receive a call. So that afternoon Srila Govinda Maharaj picked up the phone just to see if there was a dial tone. He was just checking the phone.
Suddenly Srila Govinda Maharaj heard a voice on the phone. The phone was dead, but now there was a voice speaking to Srila Govinda Maharaj! On the phone was Krishna Vallabha Prabhu, a senior Brajabasi Vaishnava from Vrindavan.
Krishna Vallabha Prabhu was telling Srila Govinda Maharaj about a special plot of land in Vrindavan immediately adjacent to the Sri Sri Radha Damodar Temple that had just come up for sale. It had been entangled in some litigation but now the litigation was over and it needed to be sold. He told Srila Govinda Maharaj that everybody wanted to get this land. It was the news everyone had been waiting for. Various people wanted this land for prestige or business. But Krishna Vallabha Prabhu explained: “We want that you will purchase this land! We want it protected under spiritual shelter. We want it properly looked after. It is such a very special place.”
Krishna Vallabha Prabhu continued to explain that he could reserve the land for Srila Gurudev for just a few days before it would be open for everyone to buy the property. The money needed to be paid and the papers had to be signed and recorded within only 15 days.
There was a certain value assigned to the land but others were prepared to pay much more than that. But Krishna Vallabha Prabhu assured Srila Govinda Maharaj he would only need to pay the lower amount. They were not interested in asking for a lot of money, they just wanted the land in proper hands. And for this reason they were asking Srila Govinda Maharaj to purchase it. In fact Krishna Vallabha Prabhu told Srila Govinda Maharaj that he himself would put up the money on Srila Govinda Maharaj’s behalf, if getting the money was a problem. They were very anxious for Srila Govinda Maharaj to take possession of the property!
Srila Govinda Maharaj basically had this one phone call and everything was transacted within a few minutes on the phone. We were sitting in the room and did not really know what was happening. We saw Srila Govinda Maharaj become very, very serious on the phone. When he put it down he was astonished. Then he became even more surprised because after putting down the receiver, he picked it up again only to find the phone was dead! So it was dead before and it was dead after, and the phone did not ring. His face was a picture of total astonishment!
“Oray Baba!” Srila Govinda Maharaj would later recall “It was miraculous! The dead telephone talked with me and ordered: Send one man for getting the land.”
Whenever anything happened, Srila Govinda Maharaj would always look to see what the message was that was coming from the upper world. Many times others would think it was just a coincidence or a fortunate or an unfortunate event that this happened or that happened. But Srila Govinda Maharaj was always trying to understand: what was the will of the Lord behind each incident?
Srila Govinda Maharaj took it very clearly that this was an arrangement from above to engage in the service of this property, this land. He made quick arrangements. There was no time to waste. He immediately sent his trusted and competent servitor Purnananda Prabhu from Nabadwip to Vrindavan in order to do the paper work. Everything was completed in the time necessary and the land was transferred into the mission’s name.
How special is the land? The land is actually a part of the Sri Sri Radha Damodar Temple. You can see it is the same plot of land. Technically there is a wall separating the two, but what really is a wall? Spiritually speaking it is the same plot of land. Sri Sri Radha Damodar Temple is considered geographically and spiritually the center of Vrindavan. At the time of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu this was the place where all the Goswamis and other great Vaishnava saints congregated. Now it houses the Samadhi Mandirs of Srila Rupa Goswami, Srila Jiva Goswami, Srila Bhurgarva Goswami and Srila Krishna Das Kaviraj. Srila Govinda Maharaj spoke often about how it was such a great honor to be able to serve Srila Rupa Goswami and his own Guru Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj through serving and protecting this property.
Srila Govinda Maharaj saw this property as both the place of Srila Sridhar Maharaj’s service, being the full-fledged representation of Srila Rupa Goswami, as well as being the place of worship to Srila Sridhar Maharaj, close to Srila Rupa Goswami but distinctly honored separately from the various Pushpa Samadhis within the Sri Sri Radha Damodar Temple compound.
Within a year a guest house was built for the devotees. Then a mandir for the Deities was built. In November of 1999 Srila Govinda Maharaj very joyously presided over the installation of the Deities Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Gandharva Rasabihari to accompany Sri Sri Radha Rasabihari, the Deities from the old Vrindavan House that came with the property. Later a murti of Srila Sridhar Maharaj was also installed. Srila Govinda Maharaj saw that this very special property was Guru Maharaj’s place and it came to him in service to his Guru Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj.