Written by Nandan
Russian Srimad Bhagavatam Class
On Saturday, 21 November, Kadamba Kanana Swami gave the Srimad Bhagavatam class to a mainly Russian audience who were very attentive and very enthusiastic. The class was about the pastime of Maharaj Chitraketu and the nature of happiness & suffering in the material world – the samsara chakra, the wheel of birth and death & endlessly wandering life after life in the material world.
Maharaj started off by saying that it may seem that work can change destiny. Then he pointed out that he is from the Netherlands where it rains 300 days per year and it is cold rain. So the normal colour of the Dutch is white face with a red nose. The Russian devotees found this remark hilarious.
Maharaj then reminisced about how he walked past a big poster of palm trees and sunshine. It took over his mind and he bought the ticket. Not much later he came to ‘sunshine loka’, also known as Kenya in Central Africa. He went to the beach and there were coconuts everywhere. Maharaj’s sentiments were now, “Did it! I defeated destiny! I shook off karma!”
So to celebrate his victory, he sat under a palm tree and plop – a scorpion! He was inspired to tell his friends back home about his adventure. Then plop – another scorpion! The tree was full of scorpions. So he went for a swim, then a man said that he could not swim. So Maharaj got haughty, of course he could swim; he is from Holland!! Then the man said that when the tides come in, so do the sharks. He couldn’t swim!! More hearty Russian laughter.
So he couldn’t swim and couldn’t sit under a tree. He had to sit in the direct heat with just a towel to use as shade. Then Maharaj realised, “If you’re destined to suffer, you will!”
Considering that a lot of the Russian devotees in the class had moved to Mayapur with their families in search of a better life, Maharaj made the pertinent point that moving to Mayapur does not mean karma goes away. The good karma and bad karma are still there alongside the transcendental blessings. It is our identification with karma which is the problem. But it only applies to the body, not the soul. We must sail on the boat of knowledge and not get affected by the heavy waves of material nature.
Suffice to say, the Russian devotees loved the class and had plenty of questions to ask afterwards so the class even went overtime despite the beckoning of breakfast prasadam. The Russian interpreter was also interesting for whenever Maharaj would convey some expression or change his voice for some effect, the interpreter would do the same!
Later on that day…
Mayapur Grhasta Community Program
It was 2.30 pm and we were in the leafy grhasta community park in a beautiful residential square with well-tended lawns. It was a family friendly environment, with pretty apartment buildings, deities of Gaura Nitai, children and young ladies dancing about gaily in circles, and devotees of so many different nationalities as well as a multitude of scholars including the distinguished sastric teacher Atul Krsna Prabhu who had come to witness Maharaja’s program. Beautiful green leaf arches and marigold garlands were decorating the surrounding railings and Maharaj was leading a high-spirited belter of a kirtan to start off the program.
There were around 100 devotees in total and the climate was humid but pleasant. If one strained their ears, they could even hear the cooing off birds like doves and partridges in the branches. In the middle of his rollicking kirtan, Maharaj suddenly decided to change the tempo, going mellow but punctuating it with some robust vibratos. It continued in this style for a while before Maharaj gradually started increasing the pace again until it became a musical whirlwind again. The kirtan was also being accompanied by some inspired mrdanga playing by a strapping young gurukuli lad. As this ‘bobby dazzler’ of a kirtan was rising to a crescendo many of the Prabhus and Matajis were getting up and dancing with such gay abandon that it seemed as if they were back in time 500 years and in the middle of a kirtan from the Caitanya Caritamrta! With effortless grace Maharaj then wound down the kirtan until it ever so softly faded away into the ether…
Maharaj then spoke on the binding effect of Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the Lord’s influence on Swarup Damodar which empowered his spell binding singing of the holy names. Maharaj then celebrated Krsna’s exquisite facial features and how his eyes stretched from ear to ear and penetrated into everyone they gazed at. Simply through his face, his glowing face, one is mesmerized. The beauty of Krsna is just so stunning, it is overwhelming. Yet although priceless, the nectar of his face is available to everyone. But the point is, Krsna is waiting for us but we are not up to the mark yet – still not pure in devotion. Most people are just worshipping Krsna out of fear. This point was followed by a rib tickling take on the Nrsimha prayers which conveyed how we are simply singing to protect ourselves.
After looking for a verse on his e-book but seeing that it was taking so long, Maharaj started bemoaning the awkwardness of this modern contraption and how paper books are so much more convenient…
The day before, Maharaj had an important meeting in Kolkata and he commented in this program, how being on the road to Kolkata was such a different reality from Krsna’s moon like face. It was so intense but still somehow we must keep Krsna’s face as our meditation. On that note Maharaj started another beautiful kirtan. This time it was emotional and sombre. The devotees found it so heart rending that a lot of them closed their eyes in deep contemplation and swayed from side to side. And a good number of them looked like they were going to go into tears. It really bought out a lot from the devotees’ hearts.
On Sunday, 22 November, Maharaj once again led a rousing morning prayer and then rest of the day, packed to the rim with meetings. Monday, 23 November, was also a similar program but with an interesting addition. Starting from this day, every weekday morning Maharaj began his much anticipated series of classes on the Nectar of Devotion to the Bhakti Sastri students of Mayapur.
Maharaj had been teaching these classes for about 13 years now and they have become famous and much loved by devotees far and wide. Maharaj himself also seemed to thrive from giving these classes and acknowledged in the first days session that he would like to continue giving these classes for as long as possible and as far as his capacity will allow. The Nectar of Devotion has given him so much ‘juice’ over the years and what could be more relishing than sharing that taste with others. Suffice to say, with his classes, meetings and spending time with various devotees, Maharaj’s schedule was ‘choc-a-bloc’!
HH Kadamba Kanana Maharaj ki Jai!