Day 26, Saturday, 03/05/08
Gurudev entered the lounge at 06h30, and I had already set up for the puja. Gurudev chanted japa for a while, then performed the puja to Giriraj. Since Gurudev was using sandalwood oil to massage the Lord’s body for this entire trip, He didn’t use Giriraj’s silver tilak, eye and mouth pieces. Yet still the Lord looked so handsome with His new turban on! While I offered Giriraj the breakfast bhoga, Gurudev watched me from His armchair, and chanted japa. Deva Deva, who is a pujari at New Jaganath Puri, showed me some more details of how to make an offering to the Deity, which was over and above the basics that I knew. Gurudev took His breakfast of fruit by 07h20. He had to be in Durban by at least 09h00 for the National Council Meetings so we left by 8am. On the way, Gurudev asked me to find out from Nityananda Prana about the evening’s program at Clare Estate Tent Campaign. As soon as we arrived at Sri Sri Radha-Radhanath, Gurudev desired to pack His bags for His international travels, and guided me as to what I should pack.
For the next 6hours, Gurudev was attending the meetings. There were two devotees from Gauteng, viz. Vrshabanu and Caitanya, who kindly drove Gurudev to the venue for the meetings. At around midday, Gurudev phoned me saying that I should ask our driver, Avi, to fetch Him from the venue of the meetings and go directly to Krsna Prema’s home in Parlock. Avi first came to the temple to fetch me and the luggage. The meetings went on for longer than anybody planned, so we had some time to chant japa. Gurudev then emerged, and greeted all of us, before getting into Avi’s car. We were off to Parlock! Once there, Gurudev was very warmly welcomed by the family. Gurudev was taken into the spacious house and lead into the lounge. The room quickly filled with devotees and guests, as Ishkaar sang the Guru Vandana and Rohininandan performed foot-bathing and Guru-puja for Gurudev. Such was the intensity of love with which the entire thing was done, that I saw a diamond-like tear in the corner of Gurudev’s eye. Gurudev then chatted with the family for a while before being served His lunch. It was Chinese cuisine, and He liked it very much. “Excellent!” , He said, “I have to add it to your repertoire.” There was no time for me to take prasadam because the program was about to begin and Gurudev was anxious to get started. There were at least 60 people in the marquee and more streamed in as the program went on. Gurudev spoke from Caitanya Caritamrta, chapter 8. It was the pastime of Ramacandra Puri, and Gurudev delivered a very inspiring class, on many levels. Gurudev first spoke about Krsna Conscious family life as exhibited by Krsna Prema and Rohininandan. Then, as He was speaking about “relationships”, He recalled how, on His first day of school, He cried in anxiety over the imminent separation from His mother. He said that His mother cried also, in anxiety over imminent separation from Him. Then He entered the actual pastime of Ramacandra Puri, and explained the dangers of Vaisnava aparadha. One very important point He made, “The first relationship is with Krsna. If you develop your relationship with Krsna nicely, you’ll be able to develop your other relationships nicely also.”
We ended with a big kirtan, and although the ground was muddy from the recent rain, we managed to dance a little. Thereafter the devotees took a prasadam feast whilst Gurudev gave darshan. Neelentheran Prabhu kindly offered his service to drive Gurudev to the Clare Estate Tent Campaign. Gurudev spoke on Bhagavad Gita 4.38. To my disappointment, I realized that I had forgotten Gurudev’s water-cup at Krsna Prema’s home. I asked Nityananda Pran if he had a cup, but all he could offer me was a tea-cup. I gladly accepted his kind offer. Before Gurudev spoke, He drank some water out of the tea-cup, making a joke that “Don’t worry, it’s not tea!” He told one nice story about the ship and the light-house to emphasize the danger of having an incorrect paradigm or conception. He also told a beautiful story about Arjuna Acarya, who made an alteration in the Bhagavad Gita. His action then lead to a personal encounter with Krsna and Balaram, proving that Krsna is personally present in the pages of Bhagavad Gita.
After class, Gurudev invited people onto stage for a final kirtan. Once again, Syama danced very nicely, encouraging the other girls to get more involved in the kirtan. The timing of the kirtan was somewhat distrurbed by one person who played karatals completely out of time. He insisted on playing although requested to stop. When I asked Gurudev about this man later, He said that this man had been around since the early days at Cato Ridge, and was always very eccentric.
Gurudev was then served some prasadam by Nityananda Prana. Gurudev then spoke to many well-wishers. Neelentheran drove Gurudev back to Krsna Prema’s asram, and He took rest by 23h30.
Day 27, Sunday, 04/05/08
Gurudev came out of His room at 06h30 carrying Giriraj’s paraphernalia box, indicating His desire to start the puja as soon as possible. Whilst Krsna Prema prepared the bhoga for Giriraj’s offering, Gurudev performed the puja and I packed His bags. Gurudev wanted me to take His luggage to the temple, where we would “re-strategize the packing”.He would be attending the Vyasapuja of HH Kadamba Kanana Swami, which was happening from 07h30 at Sri Sri Radha-Radhanath Mandir. On the way, we came across a detour, since the freeway was blocked. Gurudev asked me if I had packed His suci-kit, and I realized to my horror that I hadn’t! He said that it was okay an that we would get it later. We arrived at the temple a few minutes after 07h30, and Gurudev practically walked straight into the temple-room and got onto the vyasasana. He glorified Kadamba Kanana Swami very wonderfully. Later He asked me to give Him copy of the recording of the talk so that Narushni could transcribe it. (You will find this posted on Gurudev’s site.) Yadurani, a young disciple of Kadamba Kanana Maharaj, lead Guru puja, and Gurudev appreciated her singing very much. Guru Gurudev took the feast prepared for Kadamba Kanana Maharaj’s vyasapuja feast for His breakfast. When I asked if everything was to His liking, He said that it was “very nice”.
Gurudev wanted me to re-pack His bags immediately after I took breakfast. He asked me to place an empty plastic container in the bag to substitute for the space the suci-kit would take. After I had finished, Gurudev said, “Well done! We did it!”, thus encouraging me very much.
Since the National Council Meetings had been concluded in one day, Gurudev’s plans changed. He would be taking lunch at Krsna Prema’s, and then He would go to the Tongaat Tent Campaign and afterwards return to Parlock to take rest. Around 13h30, the devotees came to fetch Gurudev for lunch. A simple but delicious lunch of baked veggies, salad and soup was served to Gurudev. Ishkaar Prabhu served Gurudev and I assisted. Gurudev then spoke to Srida, the baby daughter of Avi, who’s name He had chosen. Gurudev then spoke about Krsna Consciousness in general. He said that He had heard that David Beckam’s maid had taken some books from a sankirtana devotee and given them to the popular football star.
Another sankirtana devotee had met Keith Richards and a friend as they came out of a nightclub early one morning. The devotee had tried to preach to them, and they had taken a book and given a donation. However, Keith Richards had said, “So, you converted to Hare Krsna? Can we un-convert you?”
He then spoke to some of the family members. Ishkaar’s wife, Treshika, is very talented in making counters, and Gurudev discussed with Ishkaar some patterns that He wanted her to make. Ishkaar, who is qualified medical doctor, had a look into Gurudev’s ears. They have been troubling Him for a long time now, and several types of medication seemed to only give some temporary relief at best. The problem stems from Gurudev’s surfing days, when He used to spend many hours in the ocean waves, as a youth.
We all adjourned to another room to take prasadam, whilst Gurudev chanted japa.
Gurudev decided that He would like to go for a drive to the Hazelmere Dam, and leave from there to the Tongaat Tent Campaign. At the Dam, Ishkaar set up a chair for Gurudev and He sat and chanted. As night set, the chill set in. Fortunately, I had carried Gurudev’s warm clothes and gave them to Him to use. Working under the light of a lantern, Treshika made several beautiful counters for Gurudev. Whilst chanting, I was bitten by some mosquitoes, and asked Gurudev if He was also being harassed. By Krsna’s grace, He was not being troubled. He did, however, recall His experiences with mosquitoes in Siberia, where the mosquitoes are larger and more vicious. He said, “Once we were waiting at the airport for a flight, and went for a walk in the forest, which is just nearby. Boy, we were bitten by mosquitoes! You’d flick them away and within a second they were back.” At around 18h30, Ishkaar drove Gurudev to Tongaat. Cakradhari was leading beautiful bhajans. He stopped in respect of Gurudev’s presence, and they conversed in Hindi for a while before Gurudev asked him to continue for another 5 minutes. Gurudev didn’t speak from the Bhagavad Gita, but rather gave a general class. The final kirtan was lead by Gurudev, and Ishkaar played the harmonium expertly. Gurudev enjoyed the kirtan, and mentioned to Ishkaar what a difference the harmonium makes. Many devotees came to meet Gurudev afterwards. Gurudev was then offered some Jaganath maha-prasada by Deva Deva. We left for Parlock soon afterwards with Ishkaar. Gurudev took rest by 23h00.
Day 28, Monday, 05/05/08
Gurudev came down the stairs and immediately set up for puja. Whilst He was busy with this, I packed up His bags, and carried them downstairs. I then came before Gurudev and offered my obeisances. The first thing He said was that I had left the plastic container (that we had used as a substitute for His suci-kit) in the big bag. He said that He’d removed it and we should arrange for Him to get it on Thursday. I then cleared up the Lord’s paraphernalia and packed up whatever I could.
The roads were busy like anything, so it took some time to get to the airport. Once at the airport, Rohininandan garlanded Gurudev and offered his obeisances, thanking Him for His association. Gurudev and I walked into the terminal and checked in. After we’d passed through into the waiting area, Gurudev looked around and said, “Let’s find a quiet spot – if there is such a thing.” Indeed, the airport was abuzz with travelers of all description. Eventually we found a place and settled down to chant japa. Gurudev said, “There isn’t any program tonight that I know of, so you should get working on the diary.”
I nodded in agreement. It was a short flight, taking only 90 minutes. During the flight, we were offered some dried fruit, which was the only thing we’d eat until around 2pm. At the East London airport, Paramisvarah was waiting very eagerly to receive Gurudev. There was then an hour’s drive to King Williams Town, where Paramisvarah and his wife Paramisvari live, and would be hosting Gurudev. Once there, Gurudev was warmly welcomed and shown to His room. I busied myself unpacking Gurudev’s bags and setting up the computer. Paramisvarah and I served Gurudev His lunch, and then He retired to His room to do some work. The rest of the day was spent working on His computer and chanting. At around 18h30, there was a house program at Paramisvarah’s residence. About 10 devotees and well-wishers attended. The talk was on Bhagavad Gita 2.13-15, and was very well received. There were several people wanting to meet with Gurudev afterwards. Two black-bodied boys in particular received some special mercy, because they got Gurudev’s darshan for around half an hour! He spoke about the Christian faith compared to Krsna Consciousness. One boy in particular was very inclined, and asked some very smart questions. It appears that he has been cultivated by our Godbrother, Siddhanta in East London, who has now relocated to Pretoria. Gurudev took rest by 21h30.
Day 29, Tuesday, 06/05/08
Gurudev offered the mangal arati, whilst I lead kirtan. There were only four of us, but the mood was very lively. We performed tulasi puja, and then got straight into japa. Gurudev had already worshiped Giriraj, assisted by Paramisvarah. There was to be a Guru puja to Srila Prabhupada at 07h30, so Gurudev decided to go for a morning walk along the dirt-road that runs parallel to Paramisvarah’s house. During the walk, the local dogs started barking at us, probably thinking us quite an unusual sight, pacing up and down the road, dressed in bright outfits. Gurudev told me that they barked because they were envious. Paramisvarah joined us after a while. Gurudev stopped at one tree and began looking at it with great interest, “This looks like a peepal tree. I’m sure it must be a relative of some sort. See the pointy leaves?”
When we got back to the house, we had Guru puja to Srila Prabhupada, and then resumed our chanting. Gurudev was then served His breakfast of fruits. He opted not to have yoghurt since there was some mucus building up in His system and He didn’t want to aggrevate the situation. Immediately afterwards, I had to get on the phone to check if Nitai Prabhu was in readiness to fetch Gurudev from the airport in Durban. Gurudev was flying over to attend the wedding of His Godbrother, Shyamlal’s daughter. I also had to phone an optometrist to re-schedule Gurudev’s appointment. This done, I left Gurudev to work alone whilst I worked on the diary. Gurudev worked on His computer right up until lunch, which was at Rajen Prabhu’s house. Rajen and his wife are both aspiring disciples of Gurudev. The prasadam was prepared simply but very tastefully. I neglected to tell Gurudev the full menu, so He asked for a second helping of methi. When I brought Him the pasta, He had a look of surprise on His face. There was also some delicious cheesecake, and Gurudev had two helpings!
Later, when we were returning to Paramisvarah’s house, Gurudev spoke about the fact that He wasn’t aware that there was a wider variety of preps on offer. He said, “Why would I ask for a second helping of methi?” It wasn’t a chastisement, but rather some guidance for the future, and I took it in that spirit.
Once at the house, Gurudev again worked relentlessly on His computer, checking e-mails and editing His projects.
There was a program at a temple in East London that evening and we drove there in convoy. The attendance was small, but Gurudev was respectfully received, as was His message. We were accompanied also by Svetadvipa Prabhu, who had arrived from Port Elizabeth with Bhakta Jakes and Bhakta Neo, two very wonderful black-bodied devotees from Mafakeng. They added some spice to the kirtan. The 5 Radhakunda DVD’s that I carried were all sold out in a flash. We then returned to King Williams Town. Gurudev declined the offer for more prasadam later in the evening, and He took rest by around 22h00.
Day 30, Wednesday, 07/05/08
The mangal arati was offered by Svetadvipa Prabhu, and Gurudev lead the kirtan. There were four more people at mangal arati this morning, including Svetadvipa, and that made the kirtans even more relishable. During the japa period, Gurudev took us on another japa walk. Once again the nighbourhood dogs barked at us. As we walked past one barking dog, Gurudev wagged His finger at him and chanted His japa even louder. I asked Gurudev about following the instructions of the spiritual master and He answered, quoting Srila Prabhupada, “You’ll follow each…every one of My instructions, no matter how small.” We walked for about 20 minutes along the road, and Gurudev would wag His finger at the barking dogs. Gurudev said, “Dogs are extrememly envious. They bark at anybody who comes onto their master’s property. If Krsna came into the yard, they’d bark at Him too! ‘Get out! This is my place!’ That’s why they’re here in this material world…because they’re envious.” I took the opportunity to ask Gurudev about this most abominable anartha of envy and how to get rid of it. His answer was most instructive, “We see that Krsna’s enjoying so much and everyone’s serving Him, and we want that for ourselves. So, the way to deal with it? Take up devotional service and get back into the habit of serving Krsna and pleasing Krsna…”
“Via the devotees, Gurudev?”, I chipped in.
“Yeah. The devotees. Krsna. Like that.”, Gurudev continued, “It’s a habit. We have the habit of not…Of wanting to be the enjoyer and not wanting Krsna to be the enjoyer. So we have to get back into the habit of living like that. Krsna’s the center and our activities are for His pleasure.” Then there was a Bhagavad Gita class, and Gurudev spoke from 3.21. It was a powerful class, discussing the benefits of good leadership. Gurudev also spoke about the nature of (pure) devotional service: “Therefore devotional service is the panacea. This one medicine – pure devotional service – cures all the other problems. Learn how to live nicely, live nicely and teach how to live nicely. We will be successful.”
Svetadvipa Prabhu joined Gurudev for breakfast. Gurudev then returned to His room to work on His computer. Later that afternoon, Gurudev’s lunch was prepared by a team of devotees, including Svetadvipa, who is quite a good cook. Once Gurudev had taken prasadam, He returned to His work, and I followed Him. He said that we should pack for His trip to Durban. He decided to take only one piece of luggage viz. His hand-luggage, which is a small trolley-bag.
That afternoon there was a harinam in King Williams Town with Gurudev. Gurudev lead for a while, then returned to the car to chant some japa whilst we continued.
There was a program at Rajen’s and Maggie’s home in the evening. It started off with some mellow bhajans as the guests filtered in, then a big kirtan lead by Svetadvipa whilst Gurudev performed arati. Gurudev then gave His address, speaking from Srimad Bhagavatam 10.9.20. It was the delightful pastime of Damodara. Thereafter the devotees were served a feast, whilst Gurudev said He’d just have some juice. The 8 Radhakunda DVD’s that I carried were sold out. Gurudev asked me to make arrangements to get more stock for the trip to Port Elizabeth. We returned to Paramisvarah’s asram, and Gurudev took rest by 21h30.