The following is an unreleased account written by H.H. Satsvarupa Maharaja of a number of days spent in Vrndavana during which he was able experience the extreme good fortune of acting as host to my divine spiritual master om visnupada paramahamsa parivrajakacarya astottara-sata Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja. Having written it, H.H. Satsvarupa Maharaja gave copies of it to a number of his ISKCON guru godbrothers who, at the time, were also accepting Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja in the capacity of their siksa guru. However, when, after some time, H.H. Satsvarupa Maharaja gave up his connection with Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja, he sent urgent messages to all of those godbrothers to whom he had earlier given copies of the Vrndavana journal, requesting them to destroy their copies.
However, one of those copies was given to me by a secretary of one of the guru godbrothers of H.H. Satsvarupa Maharaja. Upon showing it to Sri Navin Krsna prabhu, the secretary of Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja, I was told by him that H.H. Satsvarupa Maharaja had personally presented copies to them both also.
H.H. Satsvarupa Maharaja has been described by his godbrother H.G. Ravindra Svarupa prabhu in this way: "He is by nature transparently honest-even, some say, to a fault. His own account is characteristically direct, simple and guileless.
Therefore, in these days when malicious rumors and false accusations
abound, I hope that all devotees will be benefited by H.H. Satsvarupa
Maharaja's reliable eyewitness account of some days in the life of such a
dear devotee of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Sri Sri Radha Krsna yugal.
Submitted by Sridam sakha das
The Vrndavana Journal Unshredded
December 20, 1992, 2:20 P.M.
Because of rioting in Mathura, we have not been to see Srila Narayana Maharaja in some days, but today, Madhu went to his matha and found no difficulty in traveling. Srila Narayana Maharaja laughed at the suggestion that he was in any trouble and laughed when Madhu said we hadn't come because we thought it was too dangerous. He said we should come tomorrow for a 10:30 A.M. meeting. Madhu invited Maharaja to come and stay two days at our house in Vrndavana. He considered it, speaking in Hindi with Navina, Savita, and Uma. Nothing definite was decided. Navina suggested I should personally invite Maharaja.
This invitation was Madhu's idea. I'm a little shy, thinking this house isn't so nice or that something might not go right when he is here. How could we justify taking him away from his routine in Mathura? But of course, I like to be with him and want to please him. And I want him to approve and bless me. I don't seem to have so many questions. I know what I haste to do in my writing service. And my japa, for example, seems no better than it ever was. I don't see how it will improve no matter how much I see Srila Narayana Maharaja.
Don't be foolish . . . Invite him and hear from him. Try to add to the little spark of aspiration for raganuga which he has implanted in your heart.
So we are on for visiting Srila Narayana Maharaja tomorrow morning. I am eager. We're afraid it
may not take place; the time between now and then may not pass or something may arise to stop us. When we do get to his feet, it will be a relief. I will tell him we were afraid of "Kamsa in Mathura," so we did not come. We should have come anyway, but we got bad reports.
Madhu and I read and discussed verses of the Gopigita which Srila Narayana Maharaja has already spoken on. I like having these discussions and we plan to continue them throughout the year, filling our minds with the details of the Venu and Gopigitas.
Krsna and Radha are present in unmanifest Vrndavana. By hearing of Their pastimes from the lips (words) of a rasika Vaisnava, and bv reading the writings of predecessor rasika Vaisnavas, especially Srila Rupa and Raghunatha Gosvamis, and Visvanatha Cakravarti and Bhaktivinoda Thakura , we can get a glimpse of it. The more we hear, the better.
There doesn't seem to be much point in my noting once again my lack of feelings in this area. Better to do something about it. Fuel up by hearing. Then will have something to write.
I wanted to do poems, but there is a mood of pulling out from India for me.
Today we will ask Srila Narayana Maharaja if we can see him more often. Also, I will invite him to this humble house. These visits with him are of crucial importance; they are even more important than answering my mail or enjoying solitary peace in the house. So what if I get rattled around on an auto rickshaw ride to Mathura? It's worth it. It can all be taken away at any moment.
But the soul and the soul's relation to God will remain. Pray to be guided to the next life by remembering your gurudeva. Pray to resume his service in the next life.
If Srila Narayana Maharaja agrees to come here, we will do a mahacleanup and make it as nice as possible. There may not be time to paint his room.
Maharaja is giving us nectar, although we are not qualified. We take it anyway.
I asked him to come to Vrndavana. He replied, "I will see." Go ahead and paint the room, just in case he comes.
Speaking of the adharamrtam from Krsna's lips. Only the gopis can taste it. The flute receives the nectar and turns it into sound vibration. Some, like the birds of Vraja, can hear the flutenectar. We at best can hear, not the flute, but the spoken nectar of His lila, how His flute acts.
I was reading Hari-sauri Prabhu's Transcendental Diary on the roof. Around 4:50 P.M. Madhu came up. He said that Vegavati and Svarga dasis had been visiting Srila Narayana Maharaja in Mathura. A man came in and told him something in Hindi. Then Srila Narayana Maharaja turned to Vegavati and asked her to tell Madhumangala to come at once and pick her up. He was coming here to Vrndavana!
I went downstairs and in a blissful burst of energy, Vegavati, Svarga, Bhakta Alex, and I fixed up the room for Maharaja's arrival. We brought my bed in, put clothes on the shelves, new pictures on the walls, swept the cobwebs away, cleaned the bathroom . . . now they have gone to get blankets.
There must be some threat of arrest for Maharaja. It's unforeseen mercy on us that he is coming here. I hope I can stay alert and serene him nicely, befitting the siksa-guru.
It passed through my mind that I'll have to stay up late tonight because that's Maharaja's habit. He takes a full meal at 9:00 P.M. I am not mentally criticizing him for anything. I just want to be humble and serve.
I, who have not a drop of devotion in my heart for Radha and Krsna - if I can serve and honor this friend of my gurudeva's, this friend of Prabhupada's, this rasika Vaisnava, then Radha and Krsna and Prabhupada will show me their mercy.
This will be the epitome of my visit to Vrndavana, just as I were come to my last week here. It's still hard to believe it's happening.
Maharaja arrived about half an hour ago. He went to the room we had prepared for him and sat down. He briefly described that he was advised to come and stay for some days in a solitary place. Soon he began talking about the Bhajanrahasya, which he is discussing in his Hindi-speaking classes.
He said it begins with three verses: srnvatam svakathah krsna, nasta-prayesu abhadresu, and tat te 'nukampam. He asked me if I knew the meaning of the tat te 'nukampam averse. I explained it as follows: if a devotee meets with difficulties in life, yet he accepts them as reactions to his past activities and surrenders to Krsna, then he earns the right to go back to Godhead.
Maharaja said that this is the simple explanation. He said that this is the understanding of a junior devotee. A senior devotee understands it even further. When we chant even namabhasa, our prarabdha-karma is removed. And yet a person has to progress onward to remove further anarthas before he can reach the stage of ruci or asakti or higher. But how will he be able to do that if he becomes liberated? Therefore, Krsna kindly gives that devotee more prarabdha-karma so he can take another birth and continue onto prema. The senior devotee understands that any suffering he is receiving is Krsna's mercy so that he can continue to execute his bhajana up to prema.
Maharaja then explained the meaning of mukti-pada. He said that mukti is within bhakti. Mukti sits at the feet of bhakti. It also means that the devotee can go to the spiritual world and serve Krsna's feet by putting Krsna's feet on her breasts.
Maharaja said that maybe it is Krsna's arrangement he has come. He just moved in in such a homey way. It's supposed to be secret, but I'm sure his ISKCON friends will soon find out. I hope he won't be inconvenienced. I will do the best I can along with the others to keep him comfortable here. He said that he would speak to us twice a day so that we can finish the Gopi-gita.
This is Prabhupada's mercy on me. I want to take advantage of it in the right way.
He is so close - right in the next room. I have to be alert not to become too familiar. He came into my room, saw my desk, and said he'll have to get his own desk lamp from Mathura.
I'm thinking, "What if he discovers my non-devotee poetry books under the cover in the closet? I will be completely exposed . . . I pull a note from the wall, "Dreams, poems, diary." Can't have a rasika devotee see where I'm at.
Explaining the nastaprayesu abadresu verse he said that there are still some anarthas in the heart of a devotee after he serves the book and person bhagavata. These are described in Madhurya kadambini - the devotee stops chanting before completing his quota, thinks of sense enjoyment during harinama, and so on. But by association with the pure bhagavata who is free of anarthas, he also becomes free. As he said this, I thought that by Maharaja's association, I could improve in my own anartha-filled practice of harinama.
May I take full advantage of his presence in that way.
I asked Maharaja if I could inform the little group that he is here. At first he said yes, but then Navina came in and said Maharaja didn't want anyone to know for three or four days. They plan to read the newspapers and see how things go.
So the lid is on. But some of the matajis and men who come by to do service are bound to find out. I will have to tell each one who finds out, "Don't tell anyone else."
Maybe his being here will help my bhajana and japa.
I spoke with Madhu about his relationship with Maharaja, and of my other disciples too who know Srila Narayana Maharaja. We made an analogy of manjaris who enjoy through serving Radha; yet they get all the same signs on their bodies as She does.
I'm not fully explaining it here, but I know what I meant.
December 12, 3:30 A.M.
Maharaja told me his schedule. He rises about 4:00 A.M. From 4:00 A.M. to 9:00 he does bhajana, harinama (japa), and some reading. A walk at 7:00, breakfast around 9:00. 9:0010:00 he writes (although he says that when he goes to write, his head hurts and it prevents him from concentrated work). Around 10:30 he usually starts seeing people. Lunch at 12 noon.
We will follow our individual schedules awhile he is here.
He seemed concerned that I left so early (before 4:00 A.M.) to go to the temple. Madhu will stay back.
I was thinking how Lord Caitanya and later Rupa Gosvami wanted to see the Deity of Gopala on Govardhana but didn't want to step on the hill. On the pretext of a Muslim invasion, the Gopala Deity came to see Lord Caitanya and Rupa Gosvami. I don't want to compare myself to a great devotee, but on the plea of Muslim agitation, Narayana Maharaja has come to my humble home.
I should be careful not to think he is inconveniencing me - I can't play tapes of Srila Prabhupada's lectures in the bathroom or in my room while eating, I can't make noises, can't get up at 1:00 A.M. He is not an ordinary man. The fact that he is willing to accept such a simple material standard as this makes a relationship with him sweet and accessible. I won't forget his rasika nature or ability to explain slokas.
I think his being here will also help me to see how he is representing Srila Prabhupada for me. Prabhupada wants me to receive him in a Vaisnava way, and if I hear from him submissively, I will be better able to write and lecture on behalf of Prabhupada. I will also get a deeper appreciation of who Srila Prabhupada is as an eternal associate of Lord Caitanva and Radha-Krsna.
I met him at 7:00 A.M., ready to go for a walk. Srila Narayana Maharaja says it's colder here than Mathura. He is wearing my "Swami hat." We walked on the parikrama trail. He said when he walks, he doesn't talk but does harinama. I agreed to that. He found a road I didn't know existed. It was secluded and flat. He said the doctor told him to walk a mile a day. Going past fields he said, "That is mustard."
"You told me this yellow is the color of Krsna's dhoti "
"It is also the color of Srimati Radhika's body. But it has not fully blossomed yet," he said.
Later, he said Krsna played and took His cows all over Vrndavana. Krsna liked to do the rasa dance in places like Vamsivata and other places too, near the Yamuna. Krsna used this area where we were walking for cowherding.
He said, "You should not have difficulty with your bhajana." I thought he meant I should overcome aparadhas and inattention in chanting. Then I realized he meant my routine should not be inconvenienced because he was here.
I laughed and said, "My difficulty in bhajana is not caused by you but by my mind. I think my bhajana will improve because you are here."
We walked mostly in silence. He was pleased with the road for walking. I was able to see it as a pleasant, rural village road with fields alongside, and my senses were alert in a different way.
I was also aware that we make an unusual two-some. I noticed puppy dogs and children and a man with donkeys, a boy driving a fast jeep - everything colored by the fact that I was walking with Maharaja. Vrndavana is beautiful even from my limited point of view. I know only a few sites, the Pagala Babu Mandir, the ISKCON Mandir, the railroad, and the Radharani Express.
10. 30 A.M.
I read through some sections of Hari-sauri Prabhu's diary. Then I read a little in Srila Prabhupada's purports to Mukunda-mala Stotra. It occurred to me that preaching is a very deep thing. I react adversely to the hype that has accompanied preaching in ISKCON - the pressure put on devotees to produce results, the demeaning of sadhana, and so on. But Prabhupada's preaching mood is deep and attractive if we are fortunate enough to tune into it. I would like to do some more preaching, to catch the spark and burn with it as a worthy son and follower. Surely writing is a form of preaching. And caring for disciples, accepting new disciples.
Partha-sarathi Prabhu asked me how to see the balance between sadhana and preaching. I said all development of our sadhana will be shared with other devotees. Just by living in ISKCON, we preach. It's the nature of our movement. So the devotee who tends to his sadhana and who sometimes goes alone to do it, will inevitably contribute his realizations to the society of devotees. He will be able to say honestly that chanting Hare Krsna is the life of all knowledge and increases the bliss for which we are always anxious. He will be able to give us a taste of that nectar.
The sharing happens automatically, and yet we need to keep at it, be inspired to do it, and realize some of the depth of the preacher's compassion.
Maharaja is sitting in the outdoor hallway on one of the wicker chairs Baladeva purchased in Mathura. He is reading one of the books by the six Gosvamls (I think it's Vilapa-kusumanjali). I am happy to see him relaxed and not bothered here. Right now there are no songs or chants being broadcast, and the birds are chirping. I hope this kind of peace can continue as long as he likes. I prefer to see him like this than to run up to him with questions. I invited him here for solitude. Let him have it. He rarely has this opportunity. And who can use solitude more profitably than he can?
I'm used to the disturbances of the neighborhood, but with Srila Narayana Maharaja here, I am noticing them more and I'm disturbed on his account. Our front gate is so flimsy and public. People can see in and push their way in if they want. A man came by with karatalas and stood at the entrance chanting Hare Krsna. We tolerated his exhibition, didn't give him anything, and eventually he went away. Just now he came and saw Maharaja sitting and reading. He chanted and whomped on his karatalas and I glared at him with folded arms from behind the screen door of my room.
After one intrusion ends, there is quiet, but then someone talking loudly walks by or the neighbors will begin a loud conversation. On the whole, it's not so bad.
A newspaper arrived: I can hear Maharaja turning the pages. This is crucial because he can get some idea of the development of Hindu-Muslim strife and specifically any references to the government arresting Hindu leaders or sadhus.
The routine we are developing here will probably go on for a week. At any rate, I have only a week left. If Maharaja needs to, he can stay here after I leave.
I read today's Indian Express. The government has banned Hindu political organizations, including the Vishva-Hindu Parishad. The ban seems unpopular with journalists and others. It will be counter-productive. The main, immediate need is to stop violence. It sounds tense. The Hindu organizations want to declare December 1 "Black Day" and December 1420 "Protest Week." I wonder how this will affect Maharaja, and also our intended departure from India. Should we avoid stopping at the Delhi temple?
One editorial said that better than banning the Hindu organizations would be to arrest their leaders and members under present penal codes. That sounds ominous. Maharaja is not a member of the VHP, but his picture was printed in the paper claiming him as a member. And as he said, he is known throughout the province and even all over India as a "strict" person and a Hindu. That is why he has been advised to lay low for a week.
We are not pestering him for classes.
I came down from the roof and sat by Maharaja as Navina massaged him. He was sitting on a mat in the sunlight. He said he's happy to be here. He said something like "It's God's grace." I think he meant that I am able to live in this solitary way. He said it's not possible for him. But at least for these days, he's peaceful, I hope.
I told him he could stay here after I leave. He said that he thinks the agitation will die down in a few days and he will be able to return to Mathura. If necessary, he could go to his Rupa-Sanatana Mandir or to "Tamal-kunja" in Vrndavana.
Then he said devotees can come this afternoon at 4:00 P.M. for the Gopi-gita class. He wants to finish the chapter before I leave. We are inviting the select group. What a surprise, when they hear Maharaja is here and they can come and be with him! Let me not be puffed-up as if I am special and have captured him. But it's a fact, this asrama has become a tirtha.
Either he keeps "my" Swami hat or leaves it for me as maha-prasadam. Either way I'm happy.
I look forward to Baladeva's return from Delhi. I want to tell him how thankful I am that he arranged this house so that Maharaja could come and use it.
Maharaja is sitting cross-legged on the wicker chair saying Gayatri. He took what seemed to me a long time to carefully apply his tilaka. I wish that front gate was more private. So far he hasn't been intruded upon. But I know it can happen and probably will. Hopefully they won't be heavy intrusions.
I like this role of providing him a peaceful place. The house is quite humble, yet he likes it. He likes to be outdoors in the front yard.
I may read and write while he's here, but mostly I listen to what he is doing, hover around in case I can help, and think about his presence.
All this may not solve my longstanding difficulties in doing bhajana. But it's up to me to improve. I'm getting plenty of causeless mercy.
Thank you, Srila Prabhupada, for Maharaja's visit, for the solitude you give me, and the intelligence you give me how to use solitude and for everything you do to save me and maintain me in this movement - for Krsna consciousness. I'm made of your mercy and feeling grateful.
Nicest kind of association - to sit beside him on the roof, neither of us talking, both chanting. My chanting was as usual. But I pray he may infuse me with devotion. Then both reading silently. Thank you, Prabhupada.
Maharaja is pacing back and forth in the darkening evening outside my door chanting japa: Hare Krsna Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna Hare Hare/Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare . . . It's like that. It's not so much going to him and asking questions as living closely. I go again and again and put my head on his brown shoes outside his door.
He went to use the bathroom. Alex was inside. At once Maharaja headed out the gate and passed urine squatting in the field across the way.
Some devotees are finding out he's here. One devotee returned from Jagannatha Puri and sent me a note and some maha-prasadam: "You may want to distribute it to certain house guests also." They say they have a sixth sense as far as he is concerned. They ask me if they can render him some service.
On the roof he spoke two verses tonight closely following the commentary of Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura and Srila Jiva Gosvami. He said that there are many hidden meanings which he could not tell us. He warned us not to think of these lilas with worldly kama.
I must not take this for granted; when he's gone, I will feel it - the fortune and the feeling of separation.
The gopis love Krsna even more than other vrajvasis. None feel the pain of His separation as much as the gopis do. If we want to love Krsna or His dear devotees, we have to be prepared to feel pain in separation from them.
Maharaja also said that when someone dies, whoever loves them the most feels the most grief. I try to guard myself against such losses by not loving "too much." But when I do that, I cheat myself.
Krsna enables us to offer the use of this simple house for Maharaja. He is also letting me share the nature of quiet solitude which I so much value. It encourages me to see that Maharaja also likes this kind of life with time to himself for bhajana. It's like his indirect approval for me to live this way when I'm on my own.
I hear him chanting japa in the next room.
Little things: yesterday on the roof he gave us each a piece of sweet (Jagannatha "tongues") before the reading. We neglected to wash our hands. (We had to leave his presence to do so.) He pointed it out. He said he didn't feel unclean, but he washed his hands after eating and before touching the scriptures (book). Same with touching japa-mala. He said cleanliness is for the ordinary sadhaka like himself, whereas we were all above that and were always clean . . .
I wake and rise at l:00 A.M. Chanting eight rounds in a whisper. Just trying to place the chanting in my attention instead of thinking of things. By giving harinama respect, He will reveal His nature to me. The main respect is to devote my time to chanting and to honor the numerical vow as the most important thing to do. These are lower considerations, but they are all I have right now.
Thinking over how to pack luggage - how will it go when we travel to Delhi? Will the civilized world hold up and not fall into chaos? Will we be able to travel? That's one side of my thoughts. Another is the feeling, "What are we trying to accomplish by leaving Vrndavana?" We are planning how to successfully leave India and reach America, but what is so desirable about going there?
We are going to preach and to serve the devotees elsewhere. I am also going to face new adventures in writing. And leaving Vrndavana will produce a feeling of abhasa-viraha from Krsna's and Radha's dhama.
At mangala-arati I decided to attend the temple program from 7:009:00 A.M. for Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati's disappearance. But back at the house, hearing Maharaja chanting japa in his room and then hearing him sing a little, I thought of my duty to him as his host. Nladhu helped me to decide in favor of staying back from the temple. I can go with Srila Narayana Maharaja on his walk soon. I may be criticized by some, but his being here is such a rare opportunity. I don't want to think, "Oh, if I don't go with him today, I can go tomorrow." This special treat could be taken away at any moment.
Surrender to hearing the sound of the holy names,
Morning walk: He asked me how many rounds I chant. I said, "Today I have done sixteen, but I am doing extra."
"I thought you were doing more," he said.
"Usually I do sixteen, but since you have come, am doing more."
"Why?" he asked.
"Because you inspire me."
He said he tries to do one lakha a day (sixtyfour rounds). Thirty-two in the morning, sixteen at noon, and sixteen in the evening. "I have a program to do that," he said, but sometimes he cannot.
I said, "I am a slow chanter; it takes me two hours and fortyfive minutes to chant sixteen rounds. Should I go faster?"
"Not faster," he said. "Quality should not be sacrificed for quantity."
He pointed to the flowers blooming in the fields. In a few days they will be fully bloomed, he said. Their color will be like butter.
We passed cow dung patties. He said Jatila used to make them. Seeing a certain berry growing, he said Krsna used to eat them. He asked if I'd been to Davanalakunda. He wants to walk there one morning.
He talked with a young boy who walked beside us.
He said he was born in a village, all brahmanas and agricultural fields. He used to help his father in the fields. And from the youngest age, he was doing harinama.
He asked if I knew what Krsna and Radha were doing at this time, 7:40 A.M. I guessed wrong. He said Krsna is milking cows and wrestling. Radha is with the sakhis, preparing to come to meet Krsna at Ter Kadamba. The sakhis are decorating Her and inspiring Her by recalling last night's pastimes. Syamala asks Radha what She did last night with Krsna. Radha says, "I forget everything."
I asked, "If Krsna always wants to be with the gopis, does that mean when He is with His mother or the gopas, He doesn't take pleasure in their company? Maharaja said that He takes pleasure, but not so much as when He is with the gopis. I asked if this disappoints the gopas. He said that Krsna makes them feel happy - He doesn't let on that He is thinking of the gopis.
We walked for thirtyfive minutes. His hint to me was to increase the japa quota, if I can. But the main thing is bhajana - writing, reading, japa.
Two of Maharaja's lady followers are here. I am a little upset that they broke his solitude here. Why don't they come only in the evening? But Maharaja can't be controlled by me. If you have him in your house, then people are going to come see him.
I also resent that my own peace is disturbed. Anyway, calm down. As I write
this, Srila Narayana Maharaja is talking with Baladeva.
B: "We are happy to have you here."
NM: "I am also happy to be here."
Everything happens naturally with Maharaja. People who want him and need him get to see him. They have previous qualifications (samskara), or they just get his mercy.
Maharaja is saying the water here is dirty. He is praising Tamal-kunja for its gardens and birds. That hurts. But objectively, it's true. This is a run-down place by comparison, and not protected. But we will make it nicer.
Don't expect to get all praises or to "own" Maharaja or anything like that. When you think like that, your bubble will be popped.
Neither can you stop other people from coming to see him, but your duty is to control it so it doesn't get out of hand.
The morning was recovered - Maharaja spent one and a half hours reading, I was happy to see, uninterrupted after the flurry of talking.
Compared to him, I'm tiny with no realization. Yet I have my set-up with disciples, etc. Should I be ashamed of my diet differences and my various habits which are considered dirty? Sometimes I cower and just want to get out of Srila Narayana Maharaja's way, not take time to pass stool, hurry up so he can go . . . be quiet when I wake up early, etc. - as befitting a disciple. But sometimes I want to assert my needs.
I could write a lot about this - but not now. I should always be tiny before Maharaja. Yet be unashamed to do your minimum bodily maintenance and your writing, your service - do it even though it's a lowly level of bhakti.
There is also a WestEast thing. We are Western-inclined and Maharaja does things in the Indian way. India is spiritual. But by "West" we mean not just mundane notions and languages, but ISKCON and preaching adapted to many places and peoples - as our Prabhupada taught and gave us.
Afternoon visitors for Maharaja. I feel some annoyance that his peace is broken.
"You have visitors?" I say.
He says to them, "Have you paid the tax?" And now they sit and joke in Hindi. I'm realizing better these surroundings are somewhat impoverished. That front gate looks unprotected to me. (Even the goatherds going by can see our scene, Maharaja and his friends at his feet. And since his remarks about the dirty water and the gardens of Tamal-kunja, I'm more sensitive. He did say this place is "sattvic," but in my sensitivity, even that seems like a euphemism for "bare of adornments, comforts, etc.")
This place reminds me of when we invited Srila Prabhupada to the Boston temple in 1971. There was no heat and the building was old. Later I apologized by letter. Srila Prabhupada said it was all right. He also said we should offer the best to the spiritual master. This place is the best we have. But it's not the best ISKCON has. Tamal-kunja and Ayodhyapati's place are better. Should I suggest to Maharaja or Navina that they transfer there? But that might seem as if I want to get rid of him. Don't suggest he leave your place. His coming here is like Krsna's going to the house of Srutadeva.
I can't worry about the fact that Maharaja is popular and guests will come as long as he's here. It's not the fault of our non-private gate entrance. Even at his matha, you can get in to see him, or he sits outside the room and gets "attacked." He does not screen guests there, so I can't expect to do it here. If I try, I will just be anxious and frustrated and maybe offend people. He's only here for a few days. At least I shouldn't be annoyed with the visitors because they infringe on my privacy. Just see the difference between Maharaja and I. He attracts people and allows them to meet with him. I don't attract many people and I don't welcome or allow them to meet with me.
Come to think of it, I'm amused at my own frustration here now that Maharaja has "taken over." I can't keep away his guests, but it's not so much my worry. Yet I worry and am happy when I see him as I did this morning when he sat alone in half sunshine reading his precious books, Stavavali or Vilapa-kusumanjali.
I also realize a little better what he goes through every day. As they talk with him now he occasionally interjects a Hare Krsna mantra. I think he would like to be alone, finishing his one lakh quota or reading.
Maharaja said kind things to me on the roof in the presence of others. He said he only came here because, "I want to live with him." He said if he can be in the shade of "Satsvarupa . . . " (I can't remember the rest.)
I said, "You are telling me my Sat-svarupa." (I can't know it without you.)
Earlier, one of the devotees said, "Extraordinary things like this [Srila Narayana Maharaja staying here] don't last long." In a few days he will leave, he said. He is saying there's no danger in Mathura.
Also, he's joking that now "everybody" knows he is here. He jokingly blames Jagattarini for telling everyone.
He thanked Baladeva. Asked him to stay. I said Baladeva has to go back to earn money. "Oh, to complete [the purchase]?"
He makes us all feel great. Speaking inner meanings of Tenth Canto, "Song of the Gopis."
I feel from him mv own desire to chant japa and his practice to do it whenever possible. May I imbibe some of it!
I place his shoes for him to use. He said, "Oh, why? What will your Prabhupada say?"
I said, "He will be pleased with me."
December 14, 8:00 A.M.
Maharaja led us to Davanalakunda. He asked a sadhu walking on the parikrama path where Davanalakunda is. We arrived there and he told the story as it is in the Krsna book. Then he said this is a pastime of purva-raga with the gopis. When Krsna danced on Kaliya's heads, it was just to show the gopis how powerful and beautiful He is. After that, at Davanalakunda, the gopis were able to come close to Krsna because it was an emergency and so everyone - parents, boys, cows - mixed. Maharaja also said the forest fire was started by Kamsa.
On the way back, he asked if I had been to Kaliya-daha (ghata). I said yes. He asked if I had been to Prabhodhananda Sarasvati's samadhi (near Kaliya-daha). I couldn't recall if I had been there and said no. He was surprised and asked twice if I had been there. (As if I should have.)
I asked why we say in Gayatri that the sun gets effulgence from Radha-worship. He said Siva and Brahma pray to be in Radha's pastimes. So She agreed to live on Brahma Parvat (a hill at Varsana) and Siva came as Nandisvara Parvat and She was sometimes there. Surya did austerities and begged Radha to come to Surya-kunda. So in Her nara-lila, She goes there.
He said if the davanala or fire of desire to see Krsna burns in the heart, it can be satisfied only when we see Krsna.
At the end of the walk, he said he had been talking and didn't do harinama. In Mathura when he walks there is no talking. I apologized. He said tomorrow will be his last walk and at 9:00 A.M., he will go to Rupa-Sanatana Mandir, stay for a few days, and then return to Mathura.
Maharaja's association encourages me to chant extra rounds. I am also eager to go west for preaching. And always ready to hear more from Maharaja. I like chanting japa in my room and hearing him chant japa in his room.
As I write this on the sunning roof, he is downstairs reading the newspaper, sitting in the sun, on the wicker chair. It's his last day here, so I will not get agitated if people come to hear from him. I tell myself this, but I would much prefer to be quiet and remember that when he first came here, he was able to read and chant in peace, at least more than he usually does in Mathura. But we'll have to see who comes.
I can't help but be amused by the scene here. Every morning since Maharaja arrived, it has been like this. His peaceful time is so fragile. He sits near that completely non-private gate!
Savita came and he read aloud from a precious Sanskrit book. But then one of my disciples came. He wanted to see Madhu: he said he was having trouble. He started a loud conversation with another devotee at the pump a few feet from where Srila Narayana Maharaja was trying to read. I went out and chased him away. But later I felt I offended my disciple and wrote him a note, apologizing.
A little later I looked out and a sannyasi was standing talking to Maharaja! I went out and Srila Narayana Maharaja said, "So many people are coming! That front gate should be covered!" Wow. He yelled at me! "I agree," I say. "It's the big defect of this place."
Maharaja said, "Yes, it is a defect."
The sannyasi asked to me, "How is your health?" I wave him to leave Maharaja alone. I escort him to the gate. He says, "I was just walking by." Just walking by, but does he have to walk in because he sees Maharaja? Anyway, maybe I offended him. Darn that front gate!
A lady disciple leaves and a moment later, comes back in the gate. Srila Narayana Maharaja says to her, "Coming and going, coming and going." "Please forgive me," she says.
Madhu comes by and says exactly what was on my mind. What can Maharaja expect when he's sitting right near the entrance? If he wants privacy, maybe he can go on the roof. Maharaja doesn't seem so perturbed by all this, despite his comments. So why should I get upset and give myself a headache? It's the last day of his visit.
Haribol, haribol. I'm sitting by my doorway, facing the entrance to this house. Navina was reading aloud in Hindi to Maharaja. I feel like a watchdog with my eye on the entrance. But when someone appears there, I don't start barking and run out. I peer, retreat so they won't see me, but I'm also ready to take action if need be.
When Savita was sitting alone with Maharaja, both looking at the book in the sunshine, I gestured to Vegavati to look at them. "Are you ready for that?" I asked, and said, "It will take you a few births." She agreed.
While I watch, Lalita-manjari comes through the gate carrying a tin suitcase she got for Madhu. She's such a nice servant. We just can't stop the traffic here. That's life - traffic.
The door to Maharaja's room needs oiling. It opens with a loud squeaking noise.
But basically, it's peaceful so far today, and he's had less visitors that he would have had in Mathura. He's got a straw mat outside his room. Gamcha and other clothes are on the clothesline.
I'm glued to this spot, although the room is too chilly. As soon as Maharaja goes to the bathroom, I'll go on the roof for sun.
Took lunch with Maharaja in his room. He had a stack of rice. My plate had katoris on it. He said, "Eat according to your ruci" The preps were nicely cooked by Navina. I said, "Navina told me your spiritual master said, 'If you cook with ghee and spices, even dry grass and stones will taste all right. But if one can cook tastefully without spices, he's a good cook."'
Srila Narayana Maharaja said, "Navina cooks according to my ruci." He said his spiritual master took urad dal, and when he ate, he didn't look to the right or left of his plate, but was in "prasada-bhavana."
"Any difficulty?" he asked me. I was eating a lot for me, but he said I took only small amounts and my capatis were "feeling in separation" because there was a big stack of them untouched.
I told Srila Narayana Maharaja that I like to hear his harinamajapa when I'm in my room and he's in his. "How do you hear it?" he asked. "Through the walls," I said.
Srila Narayana Maharaja is sitting on a wicker chair talking to guests outside his room. I'm not going to be anxious about what happens when the 4:00 P.M. group arrives, but we hope the early guests will leave and that Srila Narayana Maharaja will shift to the roof. The present meeting is in Hindi.
Remember the nice times, sitting with him for lunch! I noticed he rearranged some of the pictures I placed on the shelves. He had one with a picture of his Guru Maharaja and next to it, the Deities on the altar at Kesavaji Gaudiya Math. He took one large picture I had of Rupa Gosvami and placed it in a prominent place.
I'm looking forward to going into the room after he uses it. We'll try to keep it as he had it, but for practical purposes, we'll have to use it our own way too.
After class on the roof, Srila Narayana Maharaja walked with the devotees across the field of Swami Bon's college. He noted cement markers for each of the four sampradayas. He said Swami Bon wanted to make the biggest university in India, but couldn't do much. The devotees asked him if he would like to walk to Krishna-Balaram Mandir and take darsana. He said, "No, I will practice under Satsvarupa and one day to go Krishna-Balaram Mandir." We walked back to this house and again two devotees followed. He said if we find akarsana-sakti (attraction) in him or in hari-katha, then just imagine how much is in Hari Himself.
He said he will stay two more days. In the verse tonight, the gopis asked Krsna for just a little of the medicine to counteract kama-raga. Srila Narayana Maharaja said they are like beggars who ask for a little but want a lot. Later I said we have learned something from the gopis. We will ask him to tell us "just a little" about gopi-bhava. He replied smilingly, "Don't deceive me.'
Yesterday afternoon on the roof, I told the devotees Srila Narayana Maharaja's talk at Davanala-kunda. When he came up, they said I told. He joked that I shouldn't have. He said I am like him, telling what should be kept secret. He told a Hindi saying, "You broke a big pot right in front of many people in the market."
At mangala-arati in KrishnaBalaram Mandira I keep my "secret" special identity - that Srila Narayana Maharaja is in "my" house and I'll soon return there and hear his japa through the walls.
This morning he chanted "Radha-krpa-kataksa Stotra" to himself - I heard it through the walls.
We are putting two straw mats up to make the gate more private. We will have to see if he really does stay all day and overnight like he said he would. He moves with a special flow of spontaneous events, not like my rigid schedule.
It seems to get colder every night. Electricity off all night two days in a row. Still off.
At about 7:l0 A.M. we walked out of the gate.
Maharaja, Navina, Madhumangala, and I. Maharaja took a few steps and then turned back and saw Madhu and said, "You've come?" He said, "I don't want any talking or any disturbance."
"I won't do any talking and they won't either," I said. Then we started walking and chanting. After some time, I noticed that Navina and Madhu had gone back.
We walked down the main road and then the side road which overlooks the vista of yellow mustard flowers, and then the Pagala-baba Mandir and the road to Mathura. On the other side there are huts and a village. When we got as far as he wanted to go, Maharaja stopped walking and looked out at the field. He said when he sees a field like this, he thinks of Srimati Radhika and Lord Caitanya because this is Their color. He also thinks of Krsna's ... I supplied the word, "Pitambara."
Maharaja said, "This cadar that we wear is pitambara and pitambara means Krsna is coming."
We walked a little more while chanting. Then Maharaja asked me if I'm getting a taste in bhajana.
I replied, "When you speak I get a taste, and when I read. But chanting is difficult because my mind wanders."
Maharaja said that whatever I hear from him and whatever I read, should be added to the japa.
Before we began that conversation about bhajana, he asked me, "So you are chanting perhaps thirty-two rounds?"
I replied, "Yesterday I chanted thirty-two rounds. Today, so far twenty-two."
He said, "Bas, very good."
He said that I should add whatever we have read while chanting. Especially what Radha and Krsna are doing. Then he quoted from the prayer to the six Gosvamis, the line radha-krsna guna-smrter and asked me the meaning.
I answered, "It means the qualities of Radha and Krsna. "
He asked, "What are Their qualities?"
I replied, "Their vilasa, Their pastimes."
He said we should add this and then the chanting will have such a sweet taste. Otherwise, in vaidhi-bhakti when you chant, all worldly things come in the mind, relationships and friendships, things like that. But instead, you can think what Krsna is doing now at this time of the day or what He is doing with Radharani, and especially think of these things from the viewpoint of how the gopi-manjaris are serving Them. Especially think of the manjaris' service to Radhika. You can add this, he said, to your chanting.
He said that at the time of death, you will be able to think of these lilas and not worldly things, and then you will be able to go on to think of them in the next life. He said we are not interested in salvation.
I said, "But we want to associate with devotees again in our next life and be able to think of Krsna."
He said, "Yes, that is what we want."
Then he stopped walking and told me that many years ago, he wanted so many books when he was in Mathura, but he had no rasika books or other books of the Gosvamis. This was in the 1940s when he didn't know anything about these things. So some Vaisnava came and gave all these books to his gurudeva. He read those books himself. Maharaja said that Krsna will arrange for everything for our bhajana.
When he said that, I thought to myself that Prabhupada has arranged that I could meet with Srila Narayana Maharaja and maybe by Prabhupada's and Srila Narayana Maharaja's grace, I will now be able to take up some of this proper bhajana and improve my japa. But this idea to chant more is also good.
When we got near the house, I started thanking Maharaja for the valuable instructions he gave me this morning and I said I hoped I would practice them.
As we came in the gate he said, "We have been gone fifty minutes, is that right?" I looked at my watch and it was fifty minutes. He laughed and said he had no watch, but he was able to time it exactly by his japa. I asked him how long he took for each round. He smiled and said that some things should not be told now. In other words, he wasn't going to tell me yet how long it took him to chant each round.
Then we stood close together and he told me some pastime to illustrate the principles of why everything shouldn't be told at once. He said after Uddhava had been with the gopis in Vrndavana, he was about to leave and make his last pranamas. He had been repeatedly asking the gopis, "What do you want me to tell Krsna?"
The gopis said, "Uddhava, you are a child. You do not even know the ABCs of prema. Especially our prema for Krsna." Then they said. "Our hearts are like stone, but Krsna's heart is like makkhana, butter. It is very soft. So if you were to tell Krsna that we were very sad in separation from Him, He would die. And if He died, then everything would be finished. So you should tell Krsna that we are very happy, that we are drinking and eating, like that. And then later you may tell Him a little bit of something. "
Before Maharaja started this story, I had repeated what he had said the night before, when the gopis ask Krsna, "Give us just a little bit of the medicine which will cure lust." Now Maharaja was telling how the gopis told Uddhava to tell just a little bit to Krsna.
Uddhava went back to Dvaraka. He hadn't seen Krsna in a long time, but he did not tell Krsna about the gopis actual state. He first told Him that they were happy and doing very nicely. The gopis told Uddhava that he should tell Him that they were happy so that Krsna would be happy and enjoy with the devotees in Dvaraka. But after a while, Uddhava began to tell a little bit of the gopis' feelings of separation. Gradually he told more and more, and described their state of maha-bhava.
The point is, not everything about Vraja should be told at once, but a little bit and then a little bit. I'm not exactly sure how this applies in my case. The principle is that to please Krsna, everything should not be told at once, but gradually.
8:45 A.M., roof
Srila Narayana Maharaja gave me clear information about what bhajana is. I have to try practicing it: while chanting "add" thoughts and feelings that I have heard about raganuga. In a sense, I already knew this. But how to practice it so that the other thoughts don't come? It's not enough to hear and to count the rounds. Try recalling thoughts of what I have heard, how the manjaris serve Radha.
It means driving out those other thoughts when they come. Or gently putting them aside. It also means faith in the pastimes so that I can incline myself to enter that world (avyakto sanatana).
Increase rounds and add thinking of Radha-Krsna guna-smrter. When he told me what the gopis said to Uddhava, he also said that if you have an old cloth and you wash it, you cannot wring it out in your hands with a very strong motion. If you do, the cloth will tear to pieces. So Krsna's heart is like that: "Don't tell Him at once of our fully bereft state." Similarly, what we learn of Vraja should be shared gently and gradually.
Srila Narayana Maharaja is gradually instructing us in raganuga. Today's discussion was significant for me personally, especially when he encouraged a quota increase and thinkings of Radha-Krsna guna-smrter.
Navina came up to the roof to put Srila Narayana Maharaja's blankets in the sunshine. He says Maharaja would like a home in Vrndavana. He also said Srila Narayana Maharaja chants a round quickly, but he pronounces the mantras very clearly. He said Maharaja is very happy with the straw mats covering the front gate He is sitting reading a newspaper outside his room and people can't see in. We'll have to see who comes later this morning. I'm sure he won't be completely undisturbed
"Extraordinary things like this don't last long."
This place is sweet for my use, but it's even sweeter to see it being used by Srila Narayana Maharaja. I can see his shoes from here and I know he's sitting reading, facing the covered gates. I just want him to be undisturbed. The longer the better. I thought this house unworthy for him, but it's mainly okay, at least for his visit of several days. It has not been perfect - interruptions, cold, the gate electrical failure all night . . . But even in times like that, I get to relish his undisturbed conditions and I have the satisfaction of rendering a simple kind of service.
Baladeva has kindly given this house and now it's being used in a perfect way. Maharaja can use solitary hours better and deeper than I can. Let him dive deep in Stavavali. I will sit here happily and watch.
A disciple wrote me that she's upset she has to leave Vrndavana. Her attachment is nice. I told her perhaps she doesn't have to leave. But if she does, then go with a preaching spirit. As for me, these last days are filling me up with abundance. Still, I see them as last days. I will be looking forward to the writing yajna and praying that Krsna will allow the pen to flow with topics relevant for devotees.
At 11 sharp, Savita and others came through the gate and caught the lotus
feet of Maharaja. No protest from me. They talk in Hindi, yet I guess he's
trying to ask them to leave. Savita is charming and wants to stay.
(I remember the time I told Srila Prabhupada on behalf of the devotees in his room that we would leave him alone so he could work. He replied that this talking was also work, and that I didn't know what work was.)
Five or six ladies have arrived.
Maharaja is on the roof. He told Madhu don't let anyone up before 4:00 P.M., but some of the ladies say he told them to come this afternoon. They are talking with Navina and so far they haven't gone up. Madhu and I want to "wash our hands" of further responsibility whether they go up or not. Navina is talking with them. I don't dare leave my room. "Your" house becomes tense sometimes when a rasik-guru is visiting.
I hope I can sincerely apply the instructions I got today on japa. I could go out and tell the ladies the things Maharaja has said and done while he has been here, but that wouldn't pacify them. Besides, I don't think he wants me spilling everything out of my heart. If I do it in my diary, that's different.
Maharaja walked after our evening class across Bon Maharaja's field. He said he's trying to write when he's in Mathura. He starts work at 9 00 A.M.
Before that, he does bhajana. He would work earlier, but his head hurts.
Keep in my heart what he said to me on the walk. "Bas. Very good.' [regarding increasing my quota to thirty-two rounds while he's here.] And his instructions to add Radha-Krsna guna-smrter to bhajana.
I went to use the bathroom, but from outside the main room, I heard Srila Narayana Maharaja talking. I looked in and there he was squatting down beside Santi and Navina. Prema-bhakti-marga was also there. Maharaja was supplying a missing word in the transcript of his Venu-gita talks. The only light was a burning candle. He was explaining the word and the lila. A sweet thing to behold, his simplicity in coming to be with all of us.
The newspaper today told of the mass arrest of VHP, leaders, so it may not be safe for Maharaja to return to his matha. I admitted to a Godbrother that this house is inconvenient - Maharaja says it also - he can't read at night. This is the third night in a row without electricity. It comes on only in the daytime. And at other houses, they have heaters, walledin compounds, etc., although I doubt it's as quiet as here.) Maybe he will shift.
He said he would speak here again tomorrow afternoon at 4:00 P.M.
December 16, 8:00 A.M.
I just returned from the walk with Maharaja. He went out the gate quickly in his long bundi jacket and I was behind him. We went down the same road that leads to the old parikrama trail, then past that temple which has Durga on a tiger in front of it, and then we made a quick left down a long road. All during this time we didn't talk, but just chanted japa. Maharaja said it's colder now and some fog has come. Then we went off that road at the point where there's a big tree. You go left and it turns into a narrow dirt lane. We were walking for over twenty minutes. Maharaja saw a dried up canal and told me that this canal feeds Davanala-kunda. It occurred to me that he knows the terrain of Vrndavana like the back of his hand. After he walked as far as he wanted, he said, "'Have we walked a mile?" I said yes, certainly.
He stopped and again looked at the yellow blossoming mustard flowers. He said, "how they are beginning to blossom." He said this color reminds Krsna of Srimati Radharani. Sometimes Krsna wears these flowers behind His ears.
"They're such small blossoms," I said.
Maharaja said, "Anything and everything in Vrndavana reminds Krsna of Srimati Radharani. Some flower or some fruit - anything - reminds Him of Srimati Radharani's qualities."
I said, "We should want to be in that mood too." Maharaja laughed. Then he quoted a verse, sevon-mukhe hi jihvadau. "Do you know what it means?" I quoted the whole verse, atah sri-krsna namadi. I said it means that we cannot know Krsna with our blunt senses, but when we serve Him, beginning with the tongue, then Krsna will be revealed to us in His holy name.
Maharaja said this is all right, but he wanted something more. He explained that we have a body, mind, and words. Everything should be engaged in Krsna's service. When we do this, we always think of Krsna at all times. He quoted another phrase from a verse, nikhilasv apy avasthasu, body, mind, and words should all be engaged in Krsna's service.
Maharaja said we should chant to please Krsna and Radha. When we say Hare, Krsna will be pleased. So we should chant softly and sweetly for Their pleasure.
I said, "Oh, we should be confident that They will hear it and be pleased?" He said, "Yes, certainly They will be pleased." So that should be the mood of our chanting. Radha and Krsna are everywhere and if you chant, They will hear you and They will be pleased. Then you will make all success and advancement.
I thought this was a very good instruction in addition to what he told me yesterday morning. He asked, "Is this something new?"
"Yes," I said, "it is new." He said that it is all there in the scriptures that if you chant, you please Krsna. But what he added was the specific focus on the Vrndavana mood. By chanting, we may please Radharani and Krsna. He said actually, we should be even more focused on Srimati Radharani than on Krsna. When She hears you say Krsna and Hare and RadhaRamana, She will be so pleased.
We walked some more in silence. I began to think that this ideal instruction would be hard for me to follow. I wanted to tell Maharaja something about my struggles to control my mind. I was thinking of saying, "Arjuna said the mind is as difficult to control as the wind." I seem to spend most of my time thinking of other things and trying to bring the mind back But I didn't express this; I kept silent.
After awhile, Maharaja spoke again. He asked, "This year, your trip to India and Vrndavana, has it been successful?"
"The main reason I came was to get your association, so it has been successful because I got so much of it in Bombay and now." I said that now I am prepared to go back to the West and practice what he has taught. As I said this, somehow it didn't sound like it was coming from a deep place within me. We walked some more in silence.
Then I said, "Last year I was actually more excited that I could reach this goal, but now it seems far away. It will take many lifetimes, but I am not going to be discouraged by that." Maharaja didn't say anything at first, but after awhile he said, "We will consider our life successful if in this lifetime, we can develop some greed to become the palya-dasi of Srimati Radharani."
"If we do that, then in the next life, we will be able to continue on the path," I said.
He said that surely Krsna will make an arrangement. Radharani will make an arrangement. He gave the example of Bilvamangala Thakura who considered Cintamani, a prostitute, to be his guru because she turned him toward Krsna. So his greed is the greatest thing.
I said developing this greed is even more important than removing anarthas. He said certainly. If some of the greed comes then the anarthas will quickly go away. He said that I should not be disappointed that I don't attain success in this so quickly, He quoted the verse that was composed by Rupa Gosvami, that it will take kotijanma before we attain laulyam. Maharaja said ordinary bhakti we may get, but this laulyam can take many lifetimes.
As we neared the last part of the walk I said, "The ISKCON devotees who follow you, Maharaja, follow you for this reason. You awaken in us the hope of attaining this greed [to become the maidservant of Radharani]. Otherwise, why should we come to you? We have our own institution and so many activities, but we don't have this greed."
"Yes," he said, "the other things are secondary." I said, "Like maintaining the temples and distributing books." He said, "These are essential for ordinary people, but those who want something higher must have this greed. Even Prahlada Maharaja cannot imagine what this greed is."
He mentioned other great devotees. But then he laughed and said what to speak of us ordinary devotees. He exposed my disappointment as naive. Who am I to even think that I should attain this greed and therefore when I don't feel it, become disappointed? Even Prahlada Maharaja cannot imagine what it is.
About that time, we were ready to come in the gate of the house. He said that Uddhava also does not know what it is. He only knows a little bit. But when Uddhava tried to become a gopi, he couldn't enter the greed for service to Radharani. I said, "Yes, you told us once that when Uddhava saw how grief-stricken the gopis were, he wanted to go back to be with Krsna in Dvaraka." Maharaja said it is very rare.
What did I hope to achieve and what have I achieved on this trip to Vrndavana? How kind Maharaja has been to focus on my case and think what is best for me.
So many foolish things pass through my mind. I pray to continue to serve Maharaja, hear from him, and approach this wonderful greed that he talks of. I hope to chant the Hare Krsna mantra to please Radharani and try to remember Radha and Krsna even though my mind is so cancala.
9:50 A.M., roof
Maharaja also said on the walk that the cuckoo is near and dear to Krsna because it sings in a beautiful voice and reminds Him of Radha's voice and singing. As he said it, I had a little realization that the poetic metaphors in the Gosvamis' poetry are not concocted. Krsna and Radha feel and see this way, and a rasika devotee can live in Vrndavana even today (physically, or at least in mind) and have these perceptions.
Be reminded of Radha-Krsna. Do everything to please Them. Chant to please Them.
Last night Maharaja was talking about this house with a Godbrother. I heard him say, "The ants are coming," and they laughed. I thought he meant the ants were coming into his room. But then I picked up that he was saying the devotees have found out he is here, like ants who have discovered the sugar.
I am enjoying Maharaja's morning by watching from my room. One of his brahmacaris from Rupa-Sanatana Mandir arrived on bicycle with vegetables for Maharaja's lunch. Maharaja is sitting on a straw mat in the mild sunshine. Now the brahmacari has taken the pillows and mattresses out of Maharaja's room and is cleaning them. The door squeaks . . .
Even if Savita comes now, it won't be so bad. Maharaja has had from 8:0011:00 undisturbed. The neighborhood is also quiet today. I am pleased to overlook all this from my chilly room. The electricity is back on, but we can expect it will go off when we need it most.
No one came all morning. Maharaja put oil on his body, sitting with no shirt on. The front gates are covered. Now he'll take his bath. I'll take mine immediately after.
There's talk of his shifting soon, but nothing definite. Today could be the last day, or maybe not.
I'm not inclined to blurt out what he told me on the walks. What good will it do if I say he encouraged me to chant thirty-two rounds? Better I do it and then say he recommended it. Also, the hints about Radha-Krsna guna-smrter and soft, sweet chanting to please Radhika - better I do these things rather than tell others the "latest news." It will build up within one as a nice pressure. And it will be a secret between him and me. At best, I will be able to practice what he said.
Maharaja was sitting. I went to him, touched his feet, and said that I am happy he was undisturbed all morning. He said he was reading deeply in the "Ten Vows" of Raghunatha dasa Gosvami. "It is very good for raganuga."
I said I appreciate what he told me this morning, to chant sweetly and
softly for Srimati Radhika.
He said, "It was good?"
I said, "Yes. a secret."
He said I should take prasadam now. "Navina has made some paramananda [sweet rice]," and he would give me some.
Srila Narayana Maharaja is on the roof with his guests. The newspapers tell us that three state governments where the BJP rules have been dismissed. VHP and RSS leaders have been arrested. It is not a good time to be visible. Will he stay here? Shift to Tamal-kunja?
Srila Narayana Maharaja just finished speaking on the Gopi-gita. I told him that when they are finished typing it, I will edit it and show it to him.
"There is no need. You are not an orphan boy. I have full faith that you cannot make a mistake in siddhanta. "
Then I said I would show it to a Godbrother. He said my own decision was enough.
On the roof he told others I have given him my own lantern. "He has given everything of his own. He is Sat."
We took maha-prasadam from his hands. Then he walked across the field again, escorting the devotees back to Krishna-Balaram Mandir. Some took dust from his footprints.
It has been decided that he will leave this house tomorrow around 9:00 A.M. He said he will stay away from Mathura for another five days or so because of the political agitation. He never goes to the VHP's political meetings or talks about politics, but they use his name as a Hindu sadhu for their own purposes.
I can visit him when he moves. We will quiet down to our routine and get ready to leave India.
Anarthas I can see at this time: As Maharaja is honoring me, I am feeling puffedup and important in front of the others. I don't deny it when he says I am sat, I am learned, etc.
I resent that certain devotees are coming to see and hear Maharaja at "my" house and are rendering him services.
We are concerned with Maharaja's safety, that he not be arrested, etc. But when I read the reports of national arrests, I seem at least equally concerned for my own safety. I want to leave India as scheduled.
I am attached to my bodily routine eating and sleeping, etc., and also my little lordship.
I don't want to displease Maharaja or my Srila Prabhupada.
Every night, Navina holds an "examination" for Madhu. He asks him to repeat what Maharaja said in the evening talk. Madhu goes over the words in the verse. Navina has been kind to encourage him. I heard their voices and stood outside the room listening to Madhu repeat and express his own enthusiastic appreciation of Srila Narayana Maharaja.
December 17, 8:00 A.M.
I wasn't sure whether Maharaja would go on a walk this morning since he is leaving, but he did. He glanced at my clothes and said, "Are your colors matching?" I have a gray cadar, gray scarf, blue gloves, and my bundi jacket is a brighter orange than his. I placed my jacket up close to his and matched them. I said, "Yours is better because it's lighter. "
He said that his Guru Maharaja wore light colors and Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati also wore light. He likes to wear light shades also. He said that Swami Maharaja [meaning our Prabhupada] wore whatever anyone gave him. He said it in an affectionate way, that Prabhupada just accepted whatever he got. I said, "Yes, but the Gaudiya Vaisnava color is light," so I made a mental note to try to always wear light-colored saffron.
Maharaja also said that Raghunatha Gosvami wrote that he wants only things that come from Vrndavana. I thought, "Yes, I should wear my Vrndavana bundi in the West and anything else (gloves) I can bring from here. I won't find a speck of cintamani Vraja-raja (dust) outside Vrndavana.
When we came to the turn going to the dirt path he said, "Perhaps for the rest of your life you will remember that we walked here."
I said, "Yes, I will. And when you're not here, I will also come here and walk and remember." We didn't talk much on this walk. When we got to the first corner after leaving the house, we heard them chanting mantras or hymns from the Mayavadi temple there. He said that they are chanting something from the Vedas, but in the whole Veda, there is scarcely any mention of Radha or Krsna. So when we chant Hare Krsna once, we cover the entire Veda. But they don't believe that. In this way, I took it that he was encouraging me on the theme of harinam-bhajana.
We walked further down the road and saw black smoke coming from a factory in the distance. He said that the factory is poisoning the oxygen.
We got to the point where he walks no further. He stopped and looked out over the fields. He said, "In America, do they have mustard flowers like this? "
I said, "No, I haven't seen them. But they have yellow flowers. Is it all right to try to think of Radha and Krsna in the West when we see yellow flowers or a forest or a river?"
"Yes," he said, "but actually Vrndavana is so helpful." And then he began to praise Vrndavana. He looked down at the sand glowing in the morning sunlight and said, "This is all cintamani. The sand is Baladeva Prabhu personified."
"Perhaps some day, everyone [meaning all of Maharaja's ISKCON followers] can come and live in Vrndavana."
He said, "They will reach a stage where they will have to."
It occurred to me that I am going back to the West because I have to. I have to preach and also, I am just not ready to live in Vrndavana full-time.
He said even the ants who live in Vrndavana are fortunate all living entities. Even if we don't realize that the dirt is cintamani, still it is the fact. Therefore, there is always benefit in living here. And there is great benefit in going to Krsna's lila places.
As we walked, a man passed us chanting, "Jaya Radhe Radhe, Radhe-Syama Jaya Radhe Radhe Radhe-Syama." Maharaja repeated what he was chanting and said, "Nowhere else in the world does anyone chant these names or know these names except for ISKCON persons."
"Not even in Jagannatha Puri?"
"No," he said, "not there either."
As we headed back he said, "Vrndavana is now moving out to this part, but
you still have to go to places like Vamsivata and Seva-kunja." He laughed.
I said, "Those are the most intense places of Vrndavana-lila. "
I wanted to keep his rule of not talking, although I wanted to bring up a question about tonight's class. But I tried to keep quiet and hear his japa while murmuring my own mantras. This is the real lesson to be learned - how to chant faster, how to chant sweetly, and how to chant with devotion. I can learn it in his association.
But finally I asked if we would have a class at 4:00 P.M. He said we would. I suggested we read from Vilapa-kusumanjali and he agreed. Then he invited us to come.
A man passed us herding three donkeys. Maharaja said, "He has no coat. We
have become luxurious." In other words, this man didn't need a coat and yet
somehow, we thought we did. I said, "And he's saying Jaya Radhe."
"Nowhere else," Maharaja said.
As we headed around the last turn he said, "The reason I have come to Vrndavana is for you." He gave me a loving glance. He said that it was not due to trouble (Hindu-Muslim) but because I had asked. He kept it in his mind and when there was an opportunity, he came. He said it has been so helpful here for his bhajana because it has been peaceful.
Then he walked back and forth chanting just inside the gate. Now he is sitting in the wicker chair, chanting in the last minutes of his stay in our house. I went into my room to leave him alone to chant. Just before that, he said that I could come over to see him at any time I wanted, except during the day when he is taking visrama (rest).
Vegavati delivered Maharaja his Hindi newspaper while he was sitting in the wicker chair. I sat at my door and tried to overhear. I think he asked her what she was doing and she said japa. Then I heard him say, "Now add something." He began telling her what Krsna was doing at this time. It was the same thing he had told me the other day on the morning walk. At this time of the day, Krsna is with His friends milking the cows in Nandagram. Srimati Radharani is getting ready to go to Nandagram from Her place at Yavat. Krsna will then meet Her at Ter Kadamba and He will play some trick to squirt Her with milk.
As I write this, it is now 8:30 A.M. Time for Maharaja to leave. I am chanting my twenty-third round.
Acyuta arrived about forty-five minutes late, but neither Maharaja nor his servant seemed to be disturbed. I asked Maharaja to please take any pictures he wanted with him. He took three small parampara pictures of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, Gaura-kisora dasa Babaji, and Bhaktivinoda Thakura. Navina said that Maharaja would take these with him wherever he went now.
Maharaja came out and we walked him to the gate. He said that I could come at any time in the day because I only had a little time left in Vrndavana. He said, "But then we won't be able to have our walks anymore."
"Yes, but you can walk in other places. There are nice places like the Vrndavana parikrama." Then I realized who I was talking to and said, "But you know Vrndavana!" He laughed and said, "Yes, I know."
It was a sweet parting. I told him how much I liked Navina's cooking, his sukta. Maharaja got in the jeep seat, smiled, and said, "But I think Madhumangala is more qualified." I said, "Madhumangala will have to learn from Navina."
The jeep pulled out, with Madhu and I standing and watching. I said to Madhu, "We're usually not in this position. We're usually the ones who are leaving. But here we are the home owner's watching him leave."
Then we went back into the room Maharaja had used. Madhu took a few photos of the room as Maharaja had used it. He had put a quilt on the floor for winter living, and he had made a sitting place with bolsters. Otherwise, everything was as we had prepared it for him. I was thinking of saying to Maharaja when he left that his visit was like Krsna's coming to see Srutadeva, the poor man. I didn't say it, but I was thinking like that.
After Srila Narayana Maharaja left, Madhu said, "Now you can relax." A rasika-guru is no longer living in your house. You can follow your own schedule, use the bathroom when you want, the way you want. You don't have to worry that visitors will come to disrupt his (and your) morning activities. Relax.
"Relax" - you will no longer be able to hear his japa through the wall or savor his presence as he sits on a mat in the sunlight reading Raghunatha Gosvami in Sanskrit. Relax, you can't expect to exchange words with him at any time during the day. You are only now a potential visitor to see him in his residence.
Relax - you chanted thirtytwo rounds a day when he was here. You went together on a morning walk. "Perhaps you will remember it for the rest of your life." "You are not an orphan boy. I am confident you cannot make a mistake in siddhanta."
Relax. And get ready to leave Vrndavana.
anasritya vrndatavim tat-padakam
kutah syama-sindho rasa-syava-gahah
"Without worshiping the pollen of Sri Radha's lotus feet, without taking shelter of Vrndavana which bears Her footprints, and without respectfully greeting the great souls whose hearts are filled with deep love for Her, how will one be able to plunge into the nectar ocean of love for Lord Krsna? "
Sri Sva-sankalpaprakasa-stotra, text 1, by Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami
tadera carana-sebi-bhakta-sane bas
janame janame hoy ei abhilas
"This is my desire, that birth after birth I may live with those devotees who serve the lotus feet of the six Gosvamis"
(Nama-sankirtana, Narottama dasa Thakura text 7).
tirtha-bhutah svayam vibho
"My lord, devotees like your good self are verily holy places personified. Because you carry the Personality of Godhead within your heart, you turn all places into places of pilgrimage"(Bhag. 1.13.10).