Written by Vasudev Das
New York and New Jersey (27-28 June)
Maharaj left Gita Nagari early on Saturday morning (27 June), because he had a preaching program scheduled at 26 2nd Ave in the evening. We reached New York around 4 pm. Maharaj stayed at the Bhakti Center on 1st Ave and he walked one block to 2nd Ave – it was pouring sheets of rain that night so we walked quickly.
Maharaj began the program with kirtan, and then spoke on the Bhagavad-gita verses requested by the organizers. At the end of the talk, he gave his personal accounts of the lessons he learned from his near-death experience in Vrindavan; the audience listened raptly, and the tension in the air was so thick, you could cut it with a knife. He explained how this incident shaped him to be more sensitive to people. Even if there is a disagreement, it is important to keep everyone satisfied, he said. After the program, Maharaj stayed late to speak with people and left 2nd Ave around 11:30 pm.
The next morning, Maharaj was scheduled to give class at the Bhakti Center as part of their public Sunday Feast program, which began at 10:30 am. He spoke on Srimad Bhagavatam 1.10.34-36 in a class entitled “Details of Krishna’s Journey”. Maharaj ended his class with a short kirtan, but when it was over, hardly anyone moved. He looked around a little puzzled and asked, “Why is everyone still sitting?” Someone yelled, “Because they want more kirtan, Maharaj!” Maharaj expressed concern that he would be going against the schedule, but he was assured he could perform kirtan for as long as he wanted. He sang a very sweet kirtan for another twenty minutes or so, and we saw more than one devotee wipe tears from their eyes. From around 1:00 to 4:00 pm, Maharaj took lunch and met with different devotees who had come from all over to meet with him.
Afterwards, we left for ISKCON of Central New Jersey, arriving later than anticipated due to a flat tire and unforeseen traffic. Maharaj met with his godbrother Madupati Prabhu by offering obeisances, who in turn greeted him by offering obeisances and garlanding Maharaj at the gates. Because Maharaj had to be at the airport at 4 am Monday morning, he only briefly chanted kirtan before and after the program, choosing to spend his allotted time speaking about various pastimes. He promised the devotees that because he had to leave quickly, he would return again to spend more time there.
Maharaj left for New York City around 8:00 pm, and flew to London early the next day, 29 June!