By Rukmini devi dasi
Great personalities are like trees. Their roots penetrate deep into scriptures, seeking nourishment. Hence they develop overpowering compassion. Their burning desire is to give to others profusely, without holding back. To do this, they are willing to tolerate any difficulties, as trees generally do. Sun or snow, the tree accepts its position without complaint. Heavy with the ripened fruits of saintly qualities, the tree naturally bows down in humility. It offers these fruits even to the hand that bears the axe to chop it. This analogy, likening saints to trees, was gleaned from the pages of Caitanya Caritamrta in Maharaja’s morning class just prior to the Vyasapuja ceremony. Kadamba Kanana refers to a forest of transcendental kadamba trees. No coincidence, indeed.
Working throughout the previous day until late at night, the devotees transformed the cozy Radhadesh community hall into a spiritual wonderland. Jaganatha, Baladeva and Subadra sat regally on an altar draped in a Ratha Yatra theme. Flanking them were gorgeous bouquets, spotted with peacock feathers. There was a life-size depiction of the desire tree of Lord Caitanya. Rupa and Santana Goswami sat at the trunk writing scriptures and above them was the subsequent parampara. The leaves were decorated with pictures and names of all of Maharaja’s disciples. It was a graphic expression of gratitude for being afforded such a rare connection to the disciplic succession as well as a spiritual family.
After a traditional reception, Maharaja was presented with a Vyasapuja book which included offerings from disciples all around the world. There were special wishes in virtual form from Bhakti Caitanya Swami and Bhakti Brnga Govinda Swami. Vyasapuja afforded a disciple that precious opportunity to personally reveal one’s heart to the spiritual master. Devotees grasped that special gift in earnest. With their words, they painted a portrait of glorification and reaffirmed the deep bond between spiritual master and disciple. Maharaja reciprocated with their sentiments intermittently. A special visual offering was made showing Maharaja’s intense travel, crossing all over the globe. In 2012 alone, he had visited 108 destinations in just 52 weeks, travelling more than 180 000 km. It was the equivalent of circling earth 4.5 times.
[quote]I’m coming to the end of that era of intense travel and outreach. It was the first phase of my sannyasa. Sixty is more just a number. I feel it in my bones and other places. I also feel there is a lot I want to do in the time I have left… The reason why I travel is not for me but for you that is why I keep going. All that travel is due to relationships… the purpose of these relationships is service to Srila Prabhupada and Krsna. That is the centre.[/quote]
Maharaja also gave an insight into his individual dealings with disciples.
[quote]To some of you, I will give a difficult task and to others, I will ask you to make your own life Krsna conscious. With some of you, I may be lenient and with others tough. I don’t know what inspires this, whether it is Krsna or just the need of time. Sooner or later, I will call upon all of you.[/quote]
With profound humility, Maharaja urged us all to become wings of the spiritual master and help his mission take flight.
[quote]One thing I can say about my mood is that I’m bold and I’m willing to take risks. I appreciate people who are (also) willing to take risks to bring Krsna consciousness to the foreground. If not then the world will not change […]
I also need help from you. I need help in the service I’m trying to do. I’m doing something in Africa (and)Amsterdam, my hometown. I (also) want to build the German yatra. From my side, I’m just all alone with my danda, trying to make a change in the world. Who is going to help me? If you don’t help me, then who will?[/quote]
After Gurupuja and an exchange of gifts, we all tucked into the incredible feast befitting the occasion. Afterward, the festival continued with the biggest initiation that Maharaja ever performed with seventeen first initiates, seven second initiates and many more devotees crammed into the Radhadesh temple room. Under the merciful gaze of Sri Sri Radha Gopinatha, they took vows connecting them to guru and Krsna eternally.
Like a noble tree bearing the sweetest of fruits, regardless of seasons, Maharaja extended himself in an attempt to connect to all his disciples in an intimate and meaningful way. In return, he asked only that we become like trees ourselves and distribute the fruits of the holy name… starting the very next day in the crazy capital of the material world, Amsterdam.
If you cannot view the slide show below, please visit flickr.