Written by Rukmini devi dasi, 29 apr 2019
he guro jnana-da dina-bandho
“O spiritual master, O giver of divine wisdom, O friend of the fallen, you are the giver of your own bliss and you are the only ocean of mercy. Although dwelling in Vrindavana, you have descended for the welfare of fallen souls like myself and you are preaching the divine love of Radha for Krishna. Please be kind upon me.”
(from Prayers in Glorification of the Spiritual Master)
Kingsday was barely over when Vyasapuja dawned. In the morning class Maharaja turned to the Antya lila of Caitanya Caritamrta, a section on sadacara that Krsnadasa Kaviraja includes to prevent us from taking Vrindavana cheaply.
“When spiritual life is a struggle to make a commitment, lust is a constant pressure. It’s not that we have to overcome the material energy, but we have to look for absorption.”
Instead of a ‘sense grati-vacation’, going to the holy places was his advice. Maharaja shared his meditations in Benapole, Bangladesh, where Haridasa Thakura transformed the lustful intentions of a prostitute to pure love of God.
“If we are light in our spiritual practice the wind of lust will sweep us off our feet. One must be heavy with the weight of knowing, exploring and serving Krsna. It is not enough to do the right things. Sadacara is still too light. Initiation is still too light. The unabating pressure of lust will still be there. How do we get rid of it? We turn to the mercy of Lord Caitanya.”
It was the ground-setter to the Vyasapuja celebrations which continued as per tradition in the community hall where we were under the sweet shelter of Krsna’s lotus feet – literally! High up on the ceiling was a gigantic depiction of Krsna’s feet with all the symbols embossed on translucent yellow fabric. Adorning the ceiling was a paper-chain version of the disciplic succession – Vaisnavas holding onto the feet of the Vaishnava ahead of them. Around us were the waves of the ocean of material existence. On all the walls were creative depictions of the different countries that Maharaja preaches in and his special projects (and nuances) there. Kalindi and her team of devotees from all over the world did a sterling job.
Krishna Kirtan, the funny but thoughtful master of ceremonies, set the program into motion and after a lightning quick foot bathing, it was time for offerings of the heart in spoken word.
Some reflections and offerings that are embedded in my memory:
Rupa Sanatana: May your example guide me in the expression of freedom through responsibility.
Gopinatha Acarya: To be a guru is to be a disciple. To be true to ourselves and the spiritual master is the difference between the imitator and the real disciple.
Atulya took the first verse of the sad-goswami astakam and explained it in relation to Maharaja’s qualities; everyone can relate to him and he is an example of no envy – “you share your mellows.”
Gaura Mohan highlighted the meaning behind the decor, including “Blessings are the stepping stones in spiritual life” which was lettered onto the ceiling.
Bhagavati hinted at the rapid advancement made by Manisha Mataji, a cancer-patient Maharaja initiated and shared his response: “I didn’t do anything special. I’m just the servant of great personalities before me.”
Gurudasa was in top performance. His live rap was pacey, catchy and creative.
Navadwipa Prabhu (read in absence): One cannot repay the debt to the spiritual master because he introduces you to the spiritual world.
Gopali: There is nothing that can compare to the taste of serving you directly or indirectly.
Neil: I come to make a lifelong commitment to use this life in the service of Krsna. This is no longer scary.
Jahnavi Candrika: This is our real new year. I’m so proud to be your disciple. I hope that you will be proud of me also.
Urugayi: You are someone who really cares about our benefit. You saved my life in so many ways.
And then little Giriraj handed Maharaja a t-shirt with “Papa Gurumaharaja”, matching his own mini version.
Sanatani: I’m grateful for the time you spent with us in Vrindavana. Thinking of it brings me to tears. I think now I have developed the intelligence to just say, “Yes”.
Tirumala, Kalindi and Tungavidya presented words in action with their first Krsna conscious kids book ‘Simha’ decked with beautifully painted illustrations for Maharaja (in response to which he did a series of baby poses). Tirumala also send a video of a “based on real life” story of the adventures of a tortoise – with expert graphics, script and soundtrack.
A team of devotees from New York including Aditya, Ataryami and Harivilasa also sent video offerings and a feel for the important New York project they are supporting in Maharaja’s absence.
Sadbhuja: The nature of the spiritual master is that he engages us in service and without him we cannot serve.
Sudhama: Your blessings are our strength, your shelter is our blessings…
Nityamanjari: It’s so wonderful to be part of Lord Caitanya’s mission by your mercy. With Kingsday we can purify Amsterdam and ourselves as well.
Gita Govinda and Rati Manjari took the limelight with a spiritual take on a Stevi Wonder song on the good old days on sankirtana.
Harinamananda: You are my best friend. You are always there for me, especially on harinama. Once we did harinama at the departure gates at the airport and we didn’t see that you were watching from the lounge. You are always looking out for me.
Namarupa: You said that you consider sadhu-sanga successful if we leave with a deeper commitment.
Krishna Kirtan: A meditation from Maharaja: When will my disciples stop looking to take and start giving?
Sutapa: All my life I tried to fit in but now I’m connected to you. It’s unpredictable and dangerous to be your disciple. Jayadvaita Swami told me the greatest thing you can have in your life is someone who has more faith in you than you do.
You said: “I don’t know how much I love Krsna but I love the opportunity to do devotional service.”
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