This story was retold by Srila Govinda Maharaj several times, as he was still surprised by these events even after so many years. We have compiled this article from audio recordings of two of those darshans he gave in Kolkata in 2006.
One day Srila Govinda Maharaj and a small group of devotees went to the Ganges River near our Math in Nabadwip for bathing. The current was strong at the edge of Ganges where they were bathing and he suddenly noticed that the ornament that he wore on his arm had fallen into the water. Looking around, Srila Govinda Maharaj could immediately understand that the ornament had been instantly carried away by the swift current.
The ornament was a kavacha, which is a small capsule attached to a chain that is usually worn around the upper right arm. Inside the capsule are holy and auspicious articles. Srila Govinda Maharaj had this kavacha for a long time and he considered that it was for assisting him in his service.
At first Srila Govinda Maharaj thought of swimming to retrieve it, but decided against that and instead he began searching and told the 3 or 4 devotees near him to also search. They looked frantically, but they could not see anything but the Ganges water flowing past them.
Then remembering his Spiritual Master’s teachings, he began to pray to Mother Ganges: “I have not been here to bathe in your holy waters for a long time. This is a fault of mine and I have done wrong. You can punish me for my wrong activities but this ornament is not my property. It is my Guru’s property. It is for Sriman Mahaprabhu’s service. Oh Mother Ganges you have done wrong. You have stolen Mahaprabhu’s property. Please give it back to me for His service.”
Srila Govinda Maharaj later explained that to believe that the Ganges is a living person with consciousness is very hard. Everything exists within consciousness. Even if he could not see the grand form of Mother Ganges or her holy descent into the Himalaya Mountains, because he learned this history from his Spiritual Master, Srila Sridhar Maharaj, he had faith that this was true. He continued to explain the importance of faith. “We must have faith in our Spiritual Master’s instructions because without faith we cannot enter into the faithful world. That faith will give us a solid foundation in our spiritual lives. When a rocket pushes off from a solid launching pad, it can travel very far. It can break through the gravitational pull of the earth. With firm faith we can be propelled very far, even past the illusionary universe.”
Thinking and praying to Mother Ganges in this way, Srila Govinda Maharaj moved downstream about 12 to 15 feet. Then suddenly he felt something brush across his feet. He reached down into the water and to his amazement there was his ornament. Mother Ganges had given back the ornament! He was so surprised by this miracle! All the devotees were amazed. How could this happen? It must be a miracle! Srila Govinda Maharaj believed that everywhere is life, whether we can see it or not. With our limited vision we may look and see only a river and water. But because Srila Govinda Maharaj believed that everywhere there is life and consciousness, it was a simple matter that it exists in faith.