Tributes to Gopiparanadhana Prabhu

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GBC Executive Committee

Gopiparanadhana PrabhuDear Devotees,
Please accept our humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
It was with great sadness that we heard of the tragic passing away of His Grace Gopiparanadhana Prabhu.
He was a leading disciple of Srila Prabhupada who served him faithfully since joining ISKCON in the early 1970's. Whatever service he did in Srila Prabhupada's movement he gave his whole heart to, although he is best known for his translating and commenting on different Vedic scriptures following in the footsteps of his Guru Maharaja.
His knowledge of sastra and his devotion to Srila Prabhupada are clearly evident in the service he has done for the BBT, particularly in the work he did on presenting Srila Sanatana Goswami's Brhad Bhagavatamrita as well as his contribution to the completing of Srimad Bhagavatam. These, and the other books he worked on, are a great legacy he has left behind him through which his memory will last in the hearts of the followers of Srila Prabhupada for many years.
We note that he passed away in the holy land of Sri Vrindavana Dhama, next to Govardhana Hill, one of the foremost pastime places of Lord Krishna and Srimati Radharani, while spending a few days there in between important preaching engagements. Even though we are feeling very deeply the great loss of his association, we still have no doubt that he has returned to Goloka Vrindavana to engage further there in the service of His Divine Grace.
Hare Krsna,
Your servants,
The GBC Executive Committee,
Hrdaya Caitanya das
Bhakti Caitanya Swami
Tamohara das

His Grace Ananda Tirtha Prabhu

Hare Krishna.
I attended the recent samadhi ceremony and memorial service for Gopiparanadhana Prabhu at Govardhan. It was an emotional ceremony, full of memories of a most dedicated servant of Srila Prabhupada. I also had the fortune toGopiparanadhana Prabhu visit the apartment next to the Govardhan Palace where he left this world. Unmentioned in any reports I read of his passing, Gopi Prabhu was actually living somewhat separately from his family as a vanaprastha and was thus alone when he left.
Years ago I had the fortune to spend some time at Govardhan serving the Brhad Bhagavatamrta project in Prabhu’s company. Once I recall meeting him wheezing and struggling up the parikrama road towards Govardhan town. He was in urgent need of asthma medicine which I glady hurried to get for him while he sat on the roadside waiting.
Some time back, perhaps after Aindra Prabhu left, I was wondering whose departure might be the biggest loss to our society, and I thought of Gopiparanadhana Prabhu. Although not as well known as many other senior devotees, his scholarship and humility were unmatched. His scholarship is well-evidenced, but what always struck me more was his genuine and total humility. It was if it were oozing out of his pores, a quality he lived by and owned totally.
It is hard for me to fathom the bigger picture, how this is all Krsna’s arrangement and for the ultimate good. Some years ago it was Sadaputa Prabhu, our number one scientist; then Aindra Prabhu, our number one kirtaniya; and now Gopiparanadhana Prabhu, our number one scholar.
None of these devotees were in the forefront of our consciousness, none made, so to speak, daily headlines, but their departure has created voids impossible to fill. They are simply irreplaceable.
Being in Vrindavan for a few days, some clarity on this difficult topic gelled in my mind. Every time I visited the temple, I was struck by the enthusiasm of the kirtan party. Rather than shrivel away in Aindra Prabhu’s absence, his crew, both veterans and newcomers, have bonded to not just maintain the kirtan but actually expand it. This goes to their great credit. I honestly don’t recall seeing the same enthusiasm even when he was here.
I know from the inside something of the ongoing struggles and sacrifices to keep the kirtan party running. Aindra Prabhu would certainly be pleased.
Now what will happen to Gopiparanadhana Prabhu’s legacy, his translation work and Bhagavata Vidyapitha school? That responsibility must now be shouldered by his senior students and well-wishers.
This is the natural progression of the changing of the guard, the principle of parampara in action. As the senior generation moves on to serve Srila Prabhupada elsewhere, the onus falls on their students and disciples to carry forth their work. As Srila Prabhupada took his spiritual master’s instructions as his life and soul, disciples such as Aindra Prabhu, Gopiparanadhana Prabhu–and of course so many others–similarly took Srila Prabhupada’s instructions as their life and soul. Now it is up to the next generation to carry on the great mission of all our spiritual preceptors.
Therein lies the challenge for all dedicated disciples and followers of Gopiparanadhana Prabhu, and indeed for all granddisciples of Srila Prabhupada.
Hare Krishna.
Your servant,
Ananda Tirtha Das

His Grace Dina Bandhu Prabhu

Gopiparanadhana PrabhuOn Sunday September 25th the ashes of His Grace Gopiparandhana Prabhu were placed in Samadhi by his son Gaura Mohan at the foot of Govardhana Hill just in front of the Bhaktivedanta Ashram. Earlier at the ashram there was a Smriti Sabha, Memorial Service, where many senior men and women offered their fond remembrances of him and the great service that he rendered to Srila Prabhupada, ISKCON, and the world.
First his wife Archa Murti shared with us the history of how he became a devotee and the various service he rendered. He had dropped out of Colombia University and became a hippie in New York. Being a bit of a bookworm, one time he descended into the subway with his books and stayed there for several days reading without bathing or eating! When he came up, he saw the devotees on the street chanting and one approached him. "Hey you look hungry! Come with us we're going to the Sunday Feast at the temple in a few minutes!" So he followed them back to the temple, but there was one devotee posted at the door checking out everyone who entered. When he smelled the bad odor coming from Gopi, he refused to let him enter saying that he had to go bathe and put on fresh cloth. Gopi protested that he had no where to go. While they were discussing, Yadurani happened by and noticed that he looked like and educated fellow. She began to ask him about his education. When he mentioned that he had studied various languages, she said great, now you can learn Bengali as we are on a marathon to publish 17 volumes of a Bengali scripture that my Guru Maharaja in translating.
She grabbed his hand and took him to the BBT had him take a bath and take the Sunday Feast. She got someone to give him a place to stay and told him to meet her in the morning in the BBT offices. Thus began an illustrious career of devotional service that culminated in finishing the translation of Srimad Bhagavatam and finally in publishing Brihad Bhagavatamrita of Srila Sanatan Goswami!
All the devotees who spoke consistently praised the humility that so naturally radiated from his personality. Never a person to put himself forward despite his great learning and scholarship. At the same time, though being an amazing scholar, who are generally caught up in their books and learning, he was a very warm and real person. Everyone praised his dedication to Srila Prabhupada and his ISKCON. Archa Murti revealed that Srila Prabhupada, being very pleased with his work, personally told him to correct the word for word translations and touch up the verse translations, but not to touch his purports as they were his personal ecstasies! Everyone unanimously agreed that his untimely demise was an unfathomable loss to ISKCON and the world.
When the Smriti Sabha was concluded, Deena Bandhu Prabhu led a kirtan and procession to the side of Govardhana Hill. There his son Gaura Mohan lovingly placed the urn with his father's ashes into a small samadhi next to the pushpa samadhi of Padma Locana Prabhu. Everyone came forward and reverently placed sand from Govardhana into the samadhi.
After the procession the devotees returned to the ashram where one of his students, Krishna Balarama Dasa, led artika with a heartfelt rendition of Gurvastakam. Then pushpanjali was performed after which all the devotees sat in the front gardens and enjoyed a sumptuous feast that was sponsored by His Holiness Gopala Krishna Goswami. The devotees remarked how every single preparation was excellent! And everyone revealed that their hearts felt a very special peace and happiness after the auspicious samadhi ceremony!
Srila Gopiparanadhana Prabhu ki jaya!
Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!
Sri Krishna Balarama ki jaya!
Bolo Sri Giriraja Maharaja ki jaya!

His Grace Dravida Prabhu

Gopiparanadhana Prabhu

I was shocked to learn this morning that my old friend and colleague Gopiparanadhana Prabhu had left his body suddenly at Govardhana. Just a few days ago I sent him a chapter of his Laghu-bhagavatamrta translation I had been reviewing — and now he’s gone. What a loss for our Society and the world! He was a pure and vastly learned Vaisnava who impressed everyone with his firm faith in and loyalty to Srila Prabhupada and his movement, his genuine humility, his warm and open personality, and his deep realization of the intricacies of bhakti. Though we mourn his departure, we rejoice at the auspicious circumstances of his passing — at the foot of Govardhana Hill chanting japa.
Gopiparanadhana Prabhu (or “Gopi,” as he was known to his close friends) joined the famous Henry St. temple in Brooklyn in 1973, the same year I did. We came from a similar background — New York Jewish intellectual. We even both played the recorder, a simple renaissance-era flute. (In fact, we used to occasionally play duets in Miami during slow times in the production of the Bhagavatam.) Of course, he was a real scholar, with a degree in linguistics from Columbia, while I wasn’t. But still, we both began serving in Srila Prabhupada’s Bhaktivedanta Book Trust the year we joined, and have done so for nearly 40 years since.
My main close association with Gopi was during the 6 years from 1983-89 in Miami, when we worked with Hridayananda das Goswami on the completion of Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavatam. Gopi really did tremendous work on that project, translating the verses and commentaries for most of the 10th, 11th, and 12th cantos, text that formed the basis for Maharaj to do his translations and purports. In fact, in 1989 Maharaj was not able to participate in producing the final 10 chapters of the Tenth Canto — the final canto in our production line — and Gopi did those all himself. Read the 87th chapter, the Prayers of the Personified Vedas, to get a further view of his brilliance, which he showed in distilling the purports from the extensive commentaries of the acaryas.
Over the years since Miami I’ve only occasionally had Gopi’s personal association, but I’ve followed his career from afar, appreciating his wonderful development of the Sanskrit school at Govardhana, his superb translation with commentary of the Brhad-bhagavatamrta, and his preaching in China and other places. And, whenever I had questions on the Sanskrit in Prabhupada’s books or other books, he was always there at the other end of the email. Hopefully his two main books that are nearing publication – Srila Jiva Gosvami’s Tattva-sandarbha and Srila Rupa Goswami’s Laghu-bhagavatamrta — can soon be brought out posthumously.
Gopi, you will be sorely missed by thousands, including your old friend,
Dravida Dasa

His Grace Gaurahari Prabhu (RNS)

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