Written by Nandan
Friday, 13 November
Maharaj took his leave of Vraj and the sunburnt plains of North India and headed for the lush, tropical delta of Bengal in East India. Specifically to the Holy Dham of Mayapur, home of Caitanya Mahaprabhu and his intimate associates. When driving from Kolkata airport to Mayapur, one gets a real glimpse of the Bengali countryside. It hasn’t been hit so hard by industrialisation so it looks quite similar to how it would’ve been 500 years ago. Even from a material perspective, it’s an attractive place – flat as a pancake, covered with a carpet of green and liberally sprinkled with coconut and palm trees, huge lakes and shimmering rivers. One can easily imagine the Lord in his childhood frolicking about in these fields and taking dips in the rivers.
Of course, the material world is never so simple! So for us mere mortals, one also had to deal with mosquitoes, the humidity and a bewildering array of creepy crawlies. Maharaj arrived late in the evening and was provided with his regular room at the end of the senior brahmachari ashram. Not surprisingly Maharaj was pretty tired and swiftly took rest.
Saturday, 14 November 2015
Disciples, admirers and friends came to see Maharaj the next day. It was good to see that he had recovered from his shingles but he also mentioned various health issues he had to deal with. A lot of it was just down to the ageing process and Maharaj accepted it in a naturally philosophical manner. His room was in a good location with plenty of sunshine coming through and a balcony which had a direct view of the TOVP domes. A magnificent sight. When asked what his plans are in Mayapur, there was an instant come back, “Meetings, meetings and more meetings!!” He is a key member of the Mayapur development committee but one sensed that he was doing this service more out of duty than relish!
At lunchtime, Maharaj was with a host of disciples namely Nimai Prabhu (his personal servant), Tulasi Prabhu (a wonderful disciple from Bulgaria), Pradyumna Prabhu (a family man and disciple from Germany) and Sridhar Prabhu (a disciple and electrician from South Africa). Maharaj was giving them all advice for their spiritual lives and he asserted the point of being the ten percent that does ninety percent of the work in the movement.
He also encouraged his grhastha disciples to move to Mayapur and the value of going there, particularly to Sridhar Prabhu who was abroad for the first time. Sridhar had decided within a day to come to Mayapur, got an instant visa and even though he had trouble with customs and was only here for three days, he stated that he wouldn’t have given up this moment for anything.
Soon the mood became lighter as Maharaj and his disciples had a conversation about the different nations and their varying national characters! Maharaj found the Germans to be more polite than the English, particularly in airports. There was also talk about the crime rate in Vrindavana, some devotees looked a little concerned but Maharaj pointed out to try and see Krsna in everything, just keep looking for Krsna and we will be fine. Then he spoke at length to Sridhar Prabhu about life in South Africa.
I also asked Maharaj about his meetings in Mayapur and he talked about the immense work needed to develop the Mayapur city complex. Quite mind boggling; there was talk of nodes, transport links, housing, electricity, water, etc. as well as liaising with the Indian government and especially the local government. No mean feat, indeed! We talked about dealing with the locals, I mentioned how the Vraj locals seem to have more of an edge to them than the Nawadvip locals. Maharaj laughed, “That’s what you think!”
Shortly after, a tall Czech devotee came and identified that he doesn’t really feel like he gels with the Czech temple and struggles with reconciling his Czech identity. Maharaj made the point that whatever body we have will stay with us and will colour how we are seen by the world. Maharaj is always the ‘Dutchman’ even though he has been living in different countries for decades now. At the same time, depending on one’s nature, one will thrive in a certain type of temple. For example, the Czech culture has that old Soviet style authority about it which permeates the mood of that temple. It will resonate with some but not with others.
In a similar vein the Manor temple in England has a certain corporate flavour to it and this won’t be everyone’s cup of tea either. He said this while grinning at the British guy in the group… myself!
HH Kadamba Kanana Maharaj ki Jai!