Written by Sesa Das
Starting his morning in Radhadesh and continuing to give Srimad Bhagavatam class on the topic of Gajendra’s return to the spiritual world, Maharaj spoke about how Gajendra was sufficiently offering realized prayers and therefore got the mercy & darsana of the Lord. Maharaj went on to speak how when Gajendra was touched by the Lord he attained his spiritual body & so we also touch the Lord’s body in deity worship, but we sometimes know the deity is God, but haven’t got the full real belief it’s true. Srila Prabhupada went to many places and turned them into tirthas. He transformed Tompkins Square park and the tree, Matchless Gifts is surcharged with transcendental energy as all the Krsna Consciousness in Srila Prabhupada is in that storefront! We sometimes get shadow ecstasy in the presence of these great devotees, and are therefore able to do super nature things beyond the impossibles. And via this association with pure devotees and the dhamas we can make this ecstasy permanent!
Just like if you leave some money with a devotees usually it will stay, however if you leave a book with a devotees, rest-assured it’s gone! So we transform through Krsna’s touch and the ecstasy which is dormant and transcendental acts and awakens it all.
The class and QnA came to a close by Maharaj stating we only see the tip of Srila Prabhupada’s mercy, because like an iceberg you see the tip or part sticking out of the water, however the majority of it is underneath the water! So there’s more mercy than we can imagine…
Later the same Maharaj flew to Vienna, Austria and would begin his Slovakia tour. Welcomed at the airport by a dozen or so devotees (including Gopali dd, Yamunacarya prabhu, Navadvipa prabhu, Teja Gauranga prabhu, Jalasaya dd and many others) Maharaj was driven from Austria over the board to the Bhaktiloka temple in Slovakia, where he would stay for the night.
Early next morning Maharaj set off to Markiza TV studio for an interview on their livestream morning show, which is the most popular news broadcasters in Slovakia. All had been expertly arranged by Gopali. As we came into the studio complex, many of the team began to come over and introduce themselves and Maharaj was mic’d up for the interview. The set was outdoors as the sun was shining, but a cooling breeze was they so we weren’t in the scorching heat. As you’ll see in the pictures there was 5 cameras set up from various angles, a live band set up & playing in the intervals, coffee machines with snacks and a pond in the background. The two presenters took a key interest in Maharaj from the start of their meet. Fredy, a celebrity in Slovakia & Hungary who now travels teaching Yoga explained a little about Maharaj to them in Slovakian stating that Maharaj is a Bhakti Yoga teacher, so he teaches the Yoga of love. When they went live, the lady presenter gave quick introduction to Maharaj and out excitement, eagerness and maybe a tinge of nerves she stated Maharaj teaches loves (although in short this is the essence so she was right). The male presenter began to ask why Maharaj left everything and what made him turn to this path he pursued over 45 years ago. Maharaj began to talk about the situation of Holland as he was growing up and how to intense spiritual culture of India really touched him when he visited the country, leading him to pursue spirituality further. Gopali also expanded about the Bhakti Yoga process and how we focus on chanting the Hare Krsna Mahamantra.
Afterwards we travelled to the border of Slovakia & Hungary, where Fredy lives in a wonderfully natural and peaceful house. His garden accommodates peacocks, African sheep, rabbits, ducks, and much much more (over 100 animals peacefully live in harmony there). Over the next few days he kindly accommodated Maharaj and organized many programs for him.
Staying at Fredy’s was interesting and full of nature. As soon as the sun began to rise the noise began. No the devotees, no, this time it was all the animals, especially the cuckoos in his back garden jungle. For the next hours the cuckoos would be constantly sounding.
During the day Maharaj spend breakfast and sometimes talking to Fredy & to find out what about you’ll have to listen to the evening lecture! One not to be missed! Later in the day Maharaj went on his walk with a few disciples, however no-one knew the area and we were all figuring out and bearings and where would be peaceful and quiet. Maharaj took the lead taking us to a near by lake. Being used to going at a fast speed on the high hills of Radhadesh, Maharaj was now on an unusual flat surface in Hungary and going very slowly. None the less it was a very peaceful & explorative walk. Towards the end we passed a house with a sign saying AG UTCA & Maharaj stared at it saying “mmmm, Acyuta Acyuta.”
Later that evening we went to The Yoga Vidyadarya in Bratislava, Slovakia. As many devotees assembled from Czech also as it’s just across the border Maharaj began a kirtan which very soon turned into a rip roaring kirtan. Maharaj as always had taken everyone out of the city centre & placed us all in the spiritual world. & then he began sharing his reflections on the birth of Parikshit Maharaj, as he read and spoke on the 1stCanto of Srimad Bhagavatam descriptions of Krsna saving Parikshit within the womb of his mother & then went on to glory and explain the high calibre of Parikshit’s character & ruling ability.
The next day Fredy & Gopali had arranged for Maharaj & the Hare Krsna’s could come to an annual Yoga gathering. Over 30 other yoga and spiritual societies had gathered with stalls, exhibitions and rooms hired for practical yoga sessions. The venue was actually a sports centre which meant it was very spacious and ideal for the intention of this gathering. Over 500 spiritual minded individuals had gathered, inquisitively viewing the stalls, products and at all part of the day in the main court yard was a stage & loads of grass land for people to assemble to practice the yoga that was being taught on stage.
As soon as Maharaj arrived and came to the main arena Fredy welcomed him, then although there was a bhajana session happening Maharaj stole the attention of everyone on the lawn, including the performers who stopped and invited him on stage to sing and play kartals with them.
A couple of hours later Maharaj had his own slot on stage & many devotees and disciples joined him on stage as he lead a kirtan. Somehow I came on & was given the whompers. As I played I realized it’s a deadly combination to be sitting next to Maharaj & playing these as he pushed me harder & harder to go faster & faster. Not knowing if the sun was going to burn me or Maharaj. As soon as the tune changed I quickly passed the whompers to Patrick from Slovakia, who is millions of times better than me and gladly changed for the kartals. The last 15 or 20 minutes of the slot Maharaj began to speak about the real meaning of yoga, starting by describing how Brahma came into the world as the first living being & then did years of austerities & ending the class linking back to this about how now the world is filled with people but without real yoga we may deep within feel like we are the only living being in the whole world due to loneliness. As the class went on people’s attention was tuned in and locked on Maharaj’s words. Many heads nodded in acknowledgement and agreement, and phones where being drawn out of bags and handbags to take videos of what was being said. Afterall a video often lasts longer than our memory at times. Maharaj finally ended his slot with a kirtan and then invited people to the room booked for the Hare Krsnas if they wanted to further meditate, discussion or had any questions.
The TV crew from Markiza had also come to video part of the kirtan, talk & after the slot began to ask Maharaj several questions about his life. The link for this is below:
As we made our way to the room, at the beginning on a few were present & Maharaj began then soon the room began to fill up & many questions were flying around the room. Maharaj left all that came with a warm and pleasant personal experience. As the day went on the room was used for various seminars and interactive sessions and Maharaj went around meeting people who had come, spending time with many yoga students, signing their books and spending time with the organizers who had great affection for him.
After a long day we all looked forward to the night of sleep ahead. Maharaj had done so much preaching and spent so much time cultivating many.
The following day the yatra gathered at the Bratislava temple house for the Sunday congregational celebrations for Balarama Jayanti. Although officially Balarama Jayanti was on the following day, due to making it practical for more to attend there would be celebrations on Sunday also. During the morning Maharaj was meeting many devotees & then after noon the program began with Maharaj leading a kirtan. Grab the recording to this kirtan! It’s on the 6th of August! Just before the kirtan a few of us where discussing some of the wild kirtans in South Africa, the extent to which I hadn’t experienced anywhere else yet. Little did I know what Maharaj had instore for today! After around 10 minutes of warming us up, Maharaj began to rock & then he rocked more & more & more & the whole temple room was up, although there was not so much space Maharaj made it irresistible to stay seat and not sing til our lungs ran out of air. He got us chanting Krsna bursting out of our throats, breaths, into our ears & making our minds go crazy! There was nothing but Krsna Krsna Krsna! Maharaj then slowed the kirtan down, 40 minutes into the recording he began singing the “Hari Haraye Namah” bhajana. Although many of us had been there whilst he lead this bhajana, it was different this time! It started the same but Maharaj knew the build-up he was beginning and taking us on. After minutes the room had the divine words “sri caitanya nitayananda sri advaita sita” bouncing off all the walls. We had all innocently come to see and spend the evening with Maharaj & he turned it into a completely ecstatic, mind blowing experience. No-one had anything but this bhajana and the desire to not stop chanting going through their head. I spoke to many after the program and everyone had the same feeling of complete madness during this kirtan. There was no other cares! Just hearing or re-thinking about the kirtans made us all go back to the madness! Listen at your own risk.
After the kirtan Maharaj gave a class on Balarama, explaining how He’s always ecstatic as He’s always serving Krsna and so this is the real key to life. It’s so simple and sublime. We try for ourselves and so many walls come up but when really serving Krsna we experience the eternal happiness (Nityananda). Maharaj explained that we can try all & it’s not enough! Therefore we need to turn to Balarama, the giver of spiritual strength. When we are happy what can touch you? What else do you need? But when we are depressed we think and feel all has gone wrong, all didn’t happened right and will never happen. & the real secret of Balarama is that He gives His whole life for others! In this way Maharaj began explaining that yes we do take austerities, but to keep going & attract others we need to have fun! He then went around the room asking what several individuals do to have fun. Some said they eat prasadam, some jump and dance, some read, some sleep, and a few other answers were given. Then at the end of the whole class during the QnA Gopali dd who was translating, asked Maharaj what he does to have fun. A great question, to which Maharaj replied he finds it really fun to drive people mad in spiritual life. He likes to made people go mad for Krsna and then he sees them go beyond any of their limits and that is his fun. He ended the class stating that we all have to find something which inspires & pulls us through to Krsna prema & share it! & then in the mood of making us mad again he lead a 20 minute kirtan before the feast was served.
The rest of the day Maharaj spent time with the devotees and having several private darsans.
The following day (7th August) was Balarama Jayanti, Maharaj woke up early to chant & spontaneously decided to take a visit to Paramesvara prabhu’s house to spend some time with him & the Harinama ruci group who were staying there. Amazing Krsna arranged everything worked to get there and back as nothing was planned.
Later in the day Maharaj was scheduled to go to Aupark, Slovakia to meet an influential celebrity rapper named Majk Spirt (prounced Mark Spirit). Aupark is a popular shopping centre, with a funfair outside, & we gathered in a gigantic park, which personally I thought was similar to & reminded me of Central Park, NYC. It was huge & very open, a good place to choose for the picnic. There was an amazing feast put together – samosas with chutneys, pastries, salad, fruit salads, and a variety of sweets like Sandesh, date balls, & a few Slovakian sweet sauces. Maharaj met Fredy in the park and with a few disciples sat down in the park to later on receive Majk. Spending a couple of hours together Maharaj and Majk exchanged many of their personal reflections and life experiences. Majk informed us how he had been God conscious and praying for many years, and over a decade ago came in contact with the Bhagavad-gita. He told Maharaj how he really wanted to visit India and was just awaiting the time to be freed up from his career schedule. Maharaj told him about a few key places to visit in India such as Vrindavan, Mayapur, Jaipur, Rajasthan, along with the cultural background of each place. Having a pleasant time together Maharaj then had to leave for to be on time for the evening program in Vienna. As Maharaj & Majk departed they had a final few exchanges and Majk out of gratitude gave a few of his latest CDs to Maharaj. He was a wonderful person, we saw many crowding around him, lining up to take a selfie & he had a desire to help the youth shape a better future for themselves & this is tried to do through his music. Hopefully we will meet him again in the future.
From Aupark Maharaj was picked him by Paramesvara prabhu in a smooth & almost silent car. On the way I being tired fell asleep & Paramesvara said to Maharaj: “I must be a good driver as he’s asleep within seconds.” To which Maharaj replied: “No, he’s a brahmacari. Just give him any time or space to sleep and he’ll take it.” As we approached Vienna the Harinama was going on for an extra hour and therefore Maharaj although fasting and having a full on day thus far thought to take advantage on this day & went straight into town to meet the Harinama ruci team. Within a few minutes of locating them in the town centre Maharaj was mic’d up and leading the harinama.
Then around 6pm the temple began to fill up as the program was about to begin. Maharaj began with a mellow kirtan & then gave a class on Lord Balarama. During the QnA Harinamananda prabhu asked if there was any difference between Nityananda and Lord Balarama. To which Maharaj began to remember and recite the pastime when Saci mata had a dream of Lord Caitanya fighting Krsna & Nityananda fighting Balarama over the food offering. Then Nityananda prabhu & Balarama began fighting with more vigour & Nityananda said: “Get out of here! This is our yuga not yours! This is for us!” So in this way we see they are the same but this yuga is for approaching Nityananda & He is Balarama in His most merciful mood. Maharaj explained that Nityananda is Balarama who is completely drunk from service & therefore doesn’t care but gives the highest to anyone & all.
Then Maharaj for the final time began leading a kirtan & got everyone up singing and dancing ecstatically. The madness of kirtan had returned and everyone was up and jumping wildly!
The next morning Maharaj had an early flight to Brussels where he would have a few days to rest before the Janmastami celebrations in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Links for the Markiza TV show interviews:
Please watch the above link from 1 hour 40 mins to see Maharaj’s interview.
If you want to watch our part only then scroll down and find Najvacsi jogovy festival and click on it.
Visit Flickr to see more photos.