Written by Nandan
Thankfully, Maharaj was able to get a well-earned break on Wednesday, 18 November, and he pretty much spent the whole day delving into the magic of the Caitanya Caritamrta, particularly the Madhya Lila and the sweetness of Krsna. Around 4 pm, disciples started streaming into his room to get some intimate association and katha.
Maharaj continued from the morning of his reading of the Madhya Lila and sharing the nectar with the devotees. It was a highly esoteric conversation. Maharaj was speaking on the concept of ‘sthayi bhava’ and the various mellows of devotional service that were being unfurled in that famous, formative conversation between Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Sanatana Goswami. Suffice to say, Maharaj was going very deep into the subject matter and it was wonderful to see Maharaj in his element, really relishing the subject matter as opposed to being preoccupied with managerial issues.
Maharaj outlined how there are two definitions of bhakti. One is the liberal, very broad definition and the other is the very high one. We stick with Srila Prabhupada’s liberal definition. Maharaj gave the example of us being like glasses with ink but when we add more and more water, eventually it becomes pure. The problem is we are not just adding water but also ink!! Laughter from the devotees.
Of course time is a big factor, when you age, you do think ‘I’m losing time, running out, life almost gone, what am I doing?’ Then we become submissive, you realise the truth of the situation. Maharaj gave the example of the American devotee who was doing harinama outside the room. This devotee had been religiously doing harinama every day. Maharaj explained how he knew this person from the 80’s and how he was a very different man then. But age makes one wake up like no one’s business.
One of the bhaktas then said that it would be nice if we could act so seriously when we were still young. Maharaj stated that there are some exceptional individuals who are serious from day one, case in point being HH Jayadvaita Maharaj who took sannyasa in his early 20’s and never looked back or like HH Bhakti Tirtha Swami who was fasting so much and sleeping so little that one of the devotees approached him about his severities, then the great Swami replied, ‘You don’t know what it is like in this big, passionate body.’
British disciple, Gurudas, then asked a question about the difference between direct service and indirect service. Maharaj explained that serving Krsna is also chanting. We do a lot of working with the material energy for Krsna, it may not seem as direct but it is no different. But then there will come a time when we will want more and more absorption so sannyasa ashram is there. He affirmed that as you become more senior, you will preach more and more. Even if you’re not a sannyasa, just keep preaching as a brahmachari.
BUT on the way to that stage, one will have to deal with the material energy for Krsna. Maharaj recalled his own experiences of buying marble from Rajasthan in the searing heat for the temple. There were these Nepali cooks who were singing horrible songs and they got a goat in front of his room and slaughtered it and cooked it on top of the room and offered it to him, not to mention the greedy marble contractors. So we have to deal with the heavy, external energy. So the external energy is heavy but it is seva for Krsna, so we do it.
After the enlightening discussion, Maharaj and all the disciples went for a nice evening stroll around the dhama and a tall South African devotee came along. Maharaj was talking with his South African disciple about the general management of the temple city project. To establish something in South Africa, you have to deal with the African element. Similarly in Bengal, you have to deal with the Bengali element. Therefore we need saintly people to build this place. Maharaj added that personally, he could not deal with the mechanics of the material energy for too long… it is not his constitutional position any more. He is more into hearing and chanting now.
Staying on the subject of management, Maharaj added that when you hire professionals, naturally their time is money so they want to move quickly and to a fixed schedule. Whereas with devotees, you have to juggle with so many needs and concerns. Of course, Srila Prabhupada also managed projects but made it clear it’s not for sanyasis. Only in emergency situations.
Eventually the devotees all decided to head back to Maharaj’s room. Gurudas Prabhu then asked if book distribution is a direct or indirect service. Maharaj replied that it is direct but if we are not glorifying Krsna, then it becomes heavy and external. Now there are good salesman and they may get some bliss, “I just sold 100 books!!!” But the principle is to glorify Krsna.
Maharaj then finished of the day with humorous anecdotes from his days doing books from cars.
HH Kadamba Kanana Maharaj ki Jai!