Written by Bhakta Nandan
Arrival, 30 June
So it looks like we are still not out of the woods yet with regards to Maharaj’s toothache (following on from Maharaj’s last visit to the UK). Thus Maharaj had to make this whistle stop visit to the UK to get further dental treatment. It really was a short visit, after being in the USA for two weeks, preaching in New Vrindavana, New York and Gita Nagari. After this short visit, Maharaj headed off for the annual summer camp retreat outside Prague in the Czech Republic. The British devotees saw this trip as an extra dosage of mercy as after this visit, Maharaj will not be back until January.
Despite the tooth pains, Maharaj was in quite a relaxed mood. Just after lunch, I went to collect Maharaj from Krishna Kirtan’s house and drop him off at Edgware station, along with a couple of his disciples, so they could do harinam and the evening class at the Soho temple in North London. In the car, we spoke about the famous music festival Glastonbury, what a great preaching opportunity it was (I was there last week) and how it would be great for Maharaj to go there especially because the young British crowd that attends the festival would definitely take to Maharaj’s down-to-earth style and his funky off-the-wall kirtans. The devotees who go to Glastonbury every year would definitely be up for it. Maharaj just laughed and then said, ‘Wow! I’m sure the devotees would be up for it but the question is, would I be up for it?’ By this time the car had pulled up outside Edgeware station, onwards to Soho…
In the evening around 7pm, Maharaj had come back from Soho and was reminiscing about his early days. He mentioned his pastimes in Amsterdam with that famous Jai Nectar Bliss devotee. Once when they were doing sankirtan together, it was freezing cold and Maharaj had no gloves on. It was exceedingly austere, to say the least, and all the other devotee could say was, ‘Jai, nectar and bliss.’ Maharaj became incredibly irritated, ended up saying a few harsh words to this devotee and decided to storm-off, having had enough of the Hare Krsnas.
Funnily enough, before going off, Maharaj demanded to receive the mantra for offering food from that devotee. Initially, he refused but then Maharaj threatened him by saying that if he refused, then he would get half the reaction for taking unoffered food so naturally the devotee relented. After going off in a huff, Maharaj decided to go to his girlfriend’s place, so he got on the train and soon started experiencing some pain in his legs. He pulled up his trousers and saw all these nasty boils on his legs! Realizing that not much was going to happen at his girlfriend’s place, he went to the cinema instead. This is where Krsna’s hand really came into play. Near the end of the movie, there was a scene with some Hare Krsnas (obviously fake ones) who were just chatting away in a bar and then they sat down and had a few beers. When Maharaj saw this, he became so angry at the portrayal and that is when it clicked; he realized he could not just do this Krsna consciousness half-heartedly, like those fake devotees on screen, but he really had to commit himself fully to it.
Then finally what hit the nail on the head for Maharaj to return to the Amsterdam temple was hearing how Mahavirya Prabhu, a black-bodied devotee from the Amsterdam temple and a great friend of Maharaj, had threatened to fast until Maharaj came back to the temple or he would die. This is what really moved Maharaj, the love and affection that Mahavirya Prabhu had expressed for him just completely blew him away; a classic example of a true loving exchange between two great vaishnavas… It was a long day, and after this short but tender reminiscence, Maharaj decided to retire for the night.