Writings

26 April 2008 – 02 May 2008

Day 19, Saturday, 26/04/08


We arrived at the aiport ten minutes after Gurudev was to have landed since Rakesh was delayed in traffic. It was obviously beyond his control, but still I was very much in anxiety. My attempts to convince the security personnel to let me into the luggage claim area proved fruitless. He did let me stand at the entrance, though, and from this vantage spot I scanned the area for Gurudev. To my great surprise, I saw Gurudev wheeling His trolley towards me! I offered my obeisances, taking over from Gurudev in wheeling the trolley. Gurudev walked out of the terminal and I walked beside Him. Rakesh had just entered the terminal, and his daughter, Saishna, offered Gurudev a rose. Rakesh garlanded Gurudev and offered his obeisances. As we walked through the terminal, Gurudev turned to me and asked, “What’s our program?” I briefed Him on the plan for the rest of the day. Whilst being driven to the temple, Gurudev spoke to Saishna. She was not her usual bubbly self, and her parents explained that she was sick. Gurudev showed great concern and compassion at hearing this, “We will pray to Krsna to make you better.”

For much of the remainder of the trip, Gurudev spoke to Rakesh and Nellisha about their home situation. They are trying hard to remain enthusiastic amidst very trying circumstances. Gurudev gave Rakesh a patient hearing before advising him. As we pulled up to Sri Sri Radha Radhanath Mandir, Gurudev asked me if I had clear directions to get to our lunch engagement. I said that I would follow up with a call to Kumaran’s asram. Once in Gurudev’s room, I unpacked His bags. As I did so, I asked Gurudev about His forthcoming travel plans to the Eastern Cape. I was curious if Gurudev wanted me to travel along, and He said that He didn’t mind. Gurudev said that He would be returning to Durban for Syamlal Prabhu’s daughter’s wedding, and then flying back to Port Elizabeth. I mentioned to Him that it would be too costly for me to travel to and from Port Elizabeth. He agreed that I should stay behind in Port Elizabeth.

I then prepared to pack His bag for His stay at Park Rynie. He instructed me to pack Giriraj’s paraphernalia. He also asked me to pack two pieces of maha-prasad cloth, which He planned to give to some devotees.

We were driven to the asram of Kumaran and Nutan by Rakesh Prabhu. On the way, Gurudev asked about the health of HH Partha Sarathi das Goswami with great concern. We arrived at Kumaran’s home at 16h30. Gurudev was warmly greeted by Kumaran and Nutan. Maran and his new bride were also there, and it was Maran who served Gurudev His lunch. Whilst waiting for the ladies to re-heat the prasadam, Gurudev was informed of the status quo of the “festival”, of which His address would be the high point. When He heard about the Hare Krsna Rock Band’s desire to have Him join them in chanting Gurudev replied, “Oh yes, we will rock around the clock.”

Gurudev was given a run-down of the rest of the evening’s program by Maran. Maran also requested a brief profile of Gurudev from me, which he would read as an ntroduction. As Gurudev took prasadam, He commented about the chillie He had been served, “This is nothing like the chillie I had in Cape Town. It’s called a habenero, and it was the hottest thing I ever had.”

After His meal, Gurudev spoke to Kumaran and Nutan, handing them one of the pieces of maha-cloth from Gokul which He had asked me to pack earlier.

Then we were driven to the beachfront by Rakesh. There were a fair number of devotees there, and the Rock Band was belting out the maha mantra. Gurudev didn’t join them though, since the program was running late. Gurudev waited for them to end, very patiently. Gurudev then gave the discourse, from Bhagavad Gita to the appreciative audience. He used jokes aplenty, but still maintained His focus in delivering His message. There were a lot of newcomers, and they appreciated it very much. After the class, Gurudev gave out some free DVD’s that Maran had sponsored as a post-wedding gift. Then there was Gaura Arati, lead by Gurudev, and the audience “got into it”. Gurudev then sat on the vyasasana and gave darshan. At around 21h30, we left for Haridev’s home, where Gurudev would be staying. Gurudev was very warmly and regally welcomed by Haridev’s family. Seated in the lounge, surrounded by all the devotees, who were sitting on the carpet, Gurudev spoke about the program’s success, as well as lengthy talks about Srila Prabhupada. Rakesh, who had a long drive back to his Newlands home, excused himself and left. Saishna, his daughter, had also taken ill, so it was wise for them to drive back as soon as possible. Gurudev showed much concern about the welfare of Saishna. Then Gurudev gave Haridev the second piece of maha-cloth He had asked me to carry, explaining that it was worn by Srimati Radharani at the Mayapur Candrodaya Mandir in Sri Mayapur Dham. Haridev was overwhelmed by the gift and thanked Gurudev extensively. Haridev was appreciating Gurudev’s lectures on Nectar of Devotion. Gurudev replied by saying that He was deeply affected by the lectures given by Giriraj Swami on the Nectar of Devotion in Vrndavana. He said that although He had read the book before, this seminar “turned the light on.” What He had extracted and what was taught by Giriraj Swami was like “night and day”.

Neeletharan and his wife had arrived and joined the discussion. They have joined ISKCON quite recently, and are extremely eager to attend as many classes, courses and seminars as possible. Gurudev appreciated this, saying that Rupa Goswami speaks about “lobha” or greed as being a key ingredient in attaining bhakti, “Devotees who attended these seminars deal with life better.”

As the conversation continued well into the night, Gurudev spoke about His first meeting with Srila Prabhupada. We remained fixated as He spoke, “Srila Prabhupada was the first devotee I saw. I was at Auckland University walking on the grounds, when I heard what sounded like little bells ringing. It was the karatalas in a kirtan party. I turned around and there was Srila Prabhupada. There were two girls on either side of Srila Prabhupada, throwing flower petals at His feet as he walked. I thought to Myself, ‘This is what heaven must be like.’ I followed them, and Srila Prabhupada gave a lecture from a small stage. My life changed. My material life became intolerable.”

Gurudev was then invited to the dining room to honour some prasadam. Neelentheran joined Gurudev, and Haridev served because I had several rounds to chant. Whilst taking prasadam, Gurudev continued His talk with Neelentheran. Gurudev retired soon after prasadam.

Day 20, Sunday, 27/04/08


Gurudev was chanting His japa by 6am. Whilst settling down again to join Him, I was requested to make some hot milk for Him to take His medication. Kalavati, Haridev’s wife, kindly accepted the service, and I served Gurudev His milk. Whilst sitting near Gurudev, I decided to seize the opportunity and ask Him a question related to a recent class, “If one is on the platform of mixed devotional service, how does he elevate himself to pure devotional service?” Gurudev answered with one word, without hesitation, “Association.”

Food for thought…

Gurudev asked me to make a call on His cellphone, but whilst trying to put in the secret pin, the phone rejected it. It locked, and asked for the PUK number. I knew I had typed in the correct digits, so this was very confusing. I told Gurudev immediately. He was not pleased, and wanted me to “sort it out” myself. Several calls to the helpline proved fruitless. While I was thus becoming increasingly frustrated and flustered, Gurudev recalled that His phone’s contract was due to expire. He asked me to call Mathura Mandala, our Godsister who got Gurudev the contract, for advice. She was of great assistance, and before long she had provided the helpline receptionist with the necessary information and given me the PUK number. With a sigh of relief, I switched Gurudev’s phone on.

We were then off to the beach for a morning japa walk with Gurudev. Gurudev spoke to the devotees on various topics. Some were very amazing, others just plain funny.

One topic that came up was Gurudev’s surfing history. Gopalraj asked Him, “How do ride a tube?” Gurudev said, “Well, it’s not easy. If you get it wrong, you end up in a mess. Especially where there is a rocky beach. The waves are especially good where there’s a rocky beach, rather than a sandy one.”

Gurudev then recalled the early days of ISKCON South Africa, when the devotees had had a farm at Cato Ridge. Gurudev said that the devotees used to swim regularly in a lake at the farm, and “rescuing them was a daily affair”! Gurudev added that swimming is a Vaisnava sport, and exercises the entire body.

When we returned to the house, Gurudev gave a class from the 12th canto. Gurudev then took breakfast, and some of the devotees sat with Him. The devotees offered Gurudev some habenero sauce, causing Him to recall the hot habenero He had eaten whilst at Cape Town. He recalled also how He had once been preparing a chillie subji called “chillieshark”. It was quite a large quantity and Gurudev had to cut all the chillies Himself. Gurudev remembered how His hands had burned for some time thereafter. Gurudev was in a particularly jovial mood, and cracked many jokes which the devotees loved hearing. After prasadam, Gurudev chanted japa.

We then packed up Gurudev’s bags and prepared to leave. Haridev drove us to Nischal Prabhu’s home for lunch. First, however, Gurudev chanted a short kirtan, and then He spoke with the family. Neelentharan was requested to take prasadam with Gurudev, and humbly acceded. The cuisine was Mexican, and Gurudev enjoyed it, calling it “excellent”. Gurudev was concerned about being late for the Sunday Love Feast at New Jaganath Puri, so He asked me to phone the devotees there. They said He didn’t have to be there until 5pm, which gave us slightly more time. As soon as Gurudev had finished taking prasadam, we left with Neelentharan for New Jaganath Puri. There was no time for me to take prasadam, but the devotees kindly packed me some “padkos”.

Gurudev waited patiently for the kirtan leader to finish as He took darshan of Jaganath, Baladev and Subhadra. Gurudev asked Ragunath Bhatta Prabhu to select the verse to be lectured on. The chanting of Jaya Radha Madhava turned into a roaring kirtan! The verse selected was Bhagavad Gita 10.10. Gurudev, in a mood of encouraging the devotees, requested that some of them chant the verse from memory. Neelentharan had bought some bottled water for Gurudev earlier in the day. Whilst waiting for the devotees to chant, Gurudev called me to His vyasasana and asked me about the water. This was a display of Gurudev’s very personal mood and His desire to reciprocate with this devotee’s service attitude. After the class, several devotees sought out Gurudev’s darshan.

Deva Deva arranged for some Jaganath maha prasadam for Gurudev. He tasted the nut chutney, and said, “I will only eat whatever there is of this.”

Neelentharan drove Gurudev back to Sri Sri Radha-Radhanath mandir, and we reached by 20h00. Gurudev thanked Neelentharan for his service, and bade him well. I then unpacked Gurudev’s bags and made His bed. I then took prasadam, and retired.

Day 21, Monday, 28/04/08


After Tulasi arati, and as Gurudev was settling down for His japa session, I asked about the day’s plan. The main service would be to do some banking, otherwise it was more or less as usual. Gurudev requested to have some maha-prasadam for His breakfast, which usually comprised of some subji, 2 or 3 puris and some halava. Dashen Prabhu had kindly bought Gurudev a new DVD player, and He asked me to set it up during the morning, since the old machine kept “freezing”. This made my task of checking the master-copies of the Ratha Yatra project very troublesome, hence the need for a new one. I was then off to the bank. Since the previous day had been earmarked as a public holiday, but was a Sunday, today was designated as a holiday, hence the bank was closed. When I reported this to Gurudev, He said that we could do the banking the next day.

Gurudev wanted me to shave His head at about 2pm, so I left the room to attend to other services until that time. (I really like shaving Gurudev’s head since it is such an intimate service. He is perfectly capable of shaving His head Himself, and has done so on many occasions, so getting to do this service is a real boon for me.)

We left to the evening’s house program in Pinetown with Bhakta Jarod. En route, Jarod asked Gurudev about His preaching in Russia, particularly the weather. Gurudev quipped, “They say that in Siberia, its cold for 9 months of the year and for the other 3 months it’s very cold.” We all laughed!

When we arrived, the enire family, which is quite extended, totaling maybe 30 came out to welcome Gurudev. They showered flower petals on Gurudev’s path as Sharda Mataji lead a kirtan. Gurudev smiled in acknowledgment as He settled into His chair, “Very nice kirtan.” Gurudev then took some time to speak with the family members. Some other senior devotees, as well as the temple brahmacaris had arrived by this time. The senior devotees joined Gurudev for prasadam, whilst the others sat outside in the veranda and chanted bhajans. After He had taken prasadam, Gurudev walked into the kitchen and glorified the cooks. He asked about who cooked the preps He enjoyed the most. Almost all of them were prepared by Sharda, who blushed as Gurudev praised her expert cooking.

Then, as He sat back on His chair, He commented on the kirtan being lead by Gaura das, “Very mellow mood.” The devotees were then ushered into the lounge, where class was to be held. Raghava Pundit Prabhu was asked to select a verse and it was Bhagavad Gita 9.2. The chanting started of very mildly, then grew in intensity until everyone – including Gurudev – were jumping in ecstacy!

Gurudev then settled back into His chair to begin the class, “Yes. This is our program: Class, kirtan-class, maha kirtan-class and prasadam-class.That’s the class nobody falls asleep at.” Afterwards Gurudev spoke to the family and guests, and distributed some DVD’s which had been arranged by Bhakti Nilaya. In fact this entire program had been arranged by Bhakti Nilaya, and this family was being cultivated by him. The rest of the devotees were served a sumptuous feast, Gurudev sat and chanted. He requested for some juice, which I duly served Him. The family then took Gurudev’s permission and took some family photographs with Him. Jarod drove Gurudev back to the temple. Gurudev retired after 21h30.

Day 22, Tuesday, 29/04/08


Gurudev came up to the temple room during japa. He also gave the morning class. He spoke on Srimad Bhagavatam 10.80.42. It was a very instructive class, about becoming fixed through getting the higher taste. It was raining quite heavily, so I held an umbrella over Gurudev’s head. I was reminded of the pastime in which Mother Yasoda arranged for some shoes for Krsna as well as a personal servant to carry an umbrella for Him out of her loving concern.

The major part of the morning was spent at the bank, where there were long, long, long queues. Also, there were several trips made to and from the bank, so my day was vanishing before my very eyes. When I finally got back after completing all the banking, I told Gurudev that I wouldn’t be able to prepare His lunch as I had suggested the previos day. Gurudev agreed that the most feasible option would be to take the devotee lunch. I was very worried that it wasn’t sufficient, or what He wanted. Gurudev asked, “Who cooked?” I said that it was Ashim Krsna, and I asked if it was alright. He said that the prasadam was “excellent”, taking some weight of my mind.

Gurudev had a program at Allan Prabhu’s home, and was busy working up to that very minute we had to leave. And as our lift arrived and He readied Himself to leave, He said, “Not enough time in the day.” What a devotee! So surrendered…

There was a large crowd crammed into Allan’s cosy home. Keshan and his team were leading nice bhajans when we arrived.Gurudev then spoke on Bhagavad Gita 7.3. He emphasized the rarity of devotional service. Then there was Guru puja to Srila Prabhupada, which Gurudev performed. The family had arranged for some snacks for Gurudev, which were fried on-the-spot by His Godsister, Prashuti Mataji. He enjoyed the samoosas very much, “These samoosas are first class.” Not willing to leave anything to chance, I decided to sample those samoosas myself. Indeed, they were first class!

We got back to Sri Sri Radha-Radhanath by around 21h00, driven by Bhakta Rishan.

I had just remembered that Gurudev had to take a special medication which should be taken with milk. “Should I go to the Deity kitchen to rustle up some maha-milk?”, I asked. “It’s okay…” ,Gurudev said. So, I made His bed and retired.

Day 23, Wednesday, 30/04/08


As I arrived back at the temple room with Giriraj’s bhoga, Gurudev was sitting in His normal spot chanting japa. We discussed the day’s plan, which included a trip to a school in Pietermaritzburg and the beginning of the Tongaat Tent Campaign. Gurudev asked me to confirm the times of these programs. Later, when I brought the Srimad Bhagavatam to Him, so He could read up on the verse for class, Gurudev said, “I wasn’t asked to give class.” This was true. I had neglected to ask Him, taking it for granted that He would speak since He spoke yesterday. I realized then and there that the spiritual master and His service must never be taken for granted, and that we should make sure that arrangements are made well in advance. It’s not that we make the arrangements and the spiritual master has to fit into our plans, but rather we should fit into His plans…

Dashen Prabhu came to fetch Gurudev and take Him to the program at the school in Pietermaritzburg. Madhumangal, Mayapur Candra, Dinanath Prabhus and I also went along. Gurudev chanted japa for the entirety of the hour-long journey. As we approached our destination, I realized to my horror that I had forgotten to bring the box of sponsored books for the children! Fortunately, Jaiscacinandan Prabhu mercifully arranged to bring these books, and delivered them personally. At the school, Woodlands Secondary, Gurudev was warmly greeted by Rommie, who is on the teaching staff. Once the 300 or more students were assembled in the hall, the program began. Firstly, a black-bodied student named Kwanele, who acted as the master of ceremonies, spoke some glorification of Gurudev. I must say, this boy has a firm command of the English language, and spoke with great confidence and with a very pleasant disposition. This was also picked up by Gurudev, who said something about it later. Then Bhakta Kreegan spoke about what it is to be a Hare Krsna. He is also a very pleasant, young man. Lokabandu Prabhu then introduced Gurudev. Gurudev then delivered His address, which was a lving appeal to the children to take more seriously to spiritual life. Then there was a big kirtan, with all the devotees on stage. Then, Mayapur Candra made his way off the stage and into the audience! That got the kids really excited!

The children were then lead to the feeding area, where they were served sumptuous prasad, and got a free book from Gurudev. All the while, we were having a harinam, mingling with the students. For a few minutes, Woodlands Secondary was transformed into the spiritual world! Rommie showed Gurudev her classroom, and we were amazed to find an altar set up! When Gurudev saw this, He offered His obeisances then and there, and we all followed suit. He asked if this was allowed at the school, and Rommie said it was. In fact, there were posters of a Christian nature displayed also. The most amazing thing was that the entire altar had been set up by Bhakta Kreegan, who is in Rommie’s class, of his own free will. Gurudev was quite impressed by this.

We were then taken to Lokabandu Prabhu’s asram, where Gurudev took His lunch. I began serving the bitter preps first. As I served Gurudev some methi with curd, He asked for more, saying, “It’s about My favourite prep.”

Gurudev was eating well, and I was pleased. Then, as Gurudev started His sweet, I asked Abhimanyu to take care of washing His hands. Dashen and I took a few minutes to take prasadam, because Gurudev was in a hurry to get back to the temple. As we drove off, the devotees gathered outside to see Gurudev off. Dashen was kind enough to offer his service again. Once we arrived, I got cracking in packing up Gurudev’s bags for our stayover in Tongaat. Deva Deva Prabhu came to fetch Gurudev that afternoon to drive Him to Tongaat. When we arrived at Clive and Nishi’s asram, Gurudev was given a warm welcome. After chatting to the family for a while, He was served some savouries and juice. Gurudev was then given a tour of the house. I took some to unpack His bagsand set up the computer.He then sat down and chanted japa. One by one, the family members congregated in the lounge to take advantage of Gurudev’s association and chant with Him. When I asked what I should carry to the program. Gurudev told me that He would do a slide show, so I got the necessary items ready. We left for the Tent Campaign about twenty minutes later. Gurudev spoke on Bhagavad Gita 18.64-65, saying that He would start at the “end” of the book. The audience was very attentive, and some good questions came at the end. One vital point that Gurudev made was about His own chanting… He said, “I’ve chanted for 2, sometimes 4, hours a day, every day for the last 35 years. It’s not like I’m bored with it. Actually, it’s very nice.” There was then fired up kirtan by Cakradhari Prabhu from Orissa, whilst Gurudev performed the arati. Gurudev encouraged me to dance, and to encourage others to dance. Looking back at my time with Gurudev, He has always done this actually. He wants to present Krsna Consciousness as vibrant and exciting, not dull and lackluster. After the kirtan, prasadam was distributed, whilst Gurudev sat down, granting darshans and signing DVD’s of His latest projects for the devotees.

As Deva Deva drove Gurudev to the house, He said, “For a first night, that was a good crowd.” We all agreed. Deva Deva was curious to know how many disciples Gurudev had. Gurudev said, “400 disciples who are initiated, and about 200 aspiring. I see all of them at least once a year, sometimes twice.” Deva Deva and I exchanged glances. I said, “Gurudev, we are so lucky and blessed to have so much of Your precious association. Thank You.” Gurudev replied, “Hare Krsna.” Then He continued chanting. The car was silent for a while as we all absorbed the depth of this exchange…

I made Gurudev’s bed, and packed more of the things away before retiring. It was well past 23h00.

Day 24, Thursday, 01/05/08


Gurudev was up by 6am. As He dressed up, I waited in my room, chanting. When Gurudev came out, I offered my obeisances and then went to clean His room. Whilst tidying up, I noticed that there wasn’t a gamcha. Gurudev had to use His pyjama pants into the bathroom. There were two gamchas being used to wrap up some external hard drives, and when I suggested that Gurudev use one of these, He agreed.

I then began setting for puja to Giriraj, since Gurudev had indicated that He wanted to do that as soon as possible. The fact that Gurudev was engaging me as His personal assistant for the worship of the Lord reminded me of the third verse of the Guruvastakam:

sri-vigraharadhana-nitya-nana-
srngara-tan-mandira-marjanadau
yuktasya bhaktams ca niyunjato pi
vande guroh sri-caranaravindam

” The spiritual master is always engaged in the temple worship of Sri Sri Radha and Krsna. He also engages his disciples in such worship. They dress the Deities in beautiful clothes and ornaments, clean Their temple, and perform other similar worship of the Lord. I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master.”

Deva Deva, Karunamayi and Gopesvari had arrived by this time, and joined Nishi in the kitchen, where she was preparing Gurudev’s breakfast. I joined Gurudev in the lounge after He had finished the puja, and we chanted together for a while.Gurudev requested some hot milk to take His medication, and Karunamayi did this service. When it was time for the offering, Gurudev asked me to offer the bhoga toGiriraj. I was humbled by this request, realizing how completely unworthy I actually was. Gurudev was served His breakfast thereafter. Deva Deva and I served together. There were also some sweets prepared for an offering to Giriraj by Deva Deva and team. They also brought some maha-prasadam pera from Jaganath in Phoenix. Gurudev tasted their offering, and then ate the whole pera brought from Phoenix. After we had taken breakfast, Gurudev decided to find out if there was an MTN cellphone shop nearby so that He could get His replacement. Clive drove Gurudev to few places to check out if the phone He wanted was available. As we jumped off the car at the first mall, Gurudev asked me if I had His (old) phone with me. I said that I had it. He asked me about my own phone, and I told Him that it was a very basic model, but it had to be strong, judging by the number of times it had been dropped and was still working. Gurudev laughed in acknowledgement, “Yes. Our Caitanya Carana is the world’s champion phone-dropper.” Everyone, including me, laughed. Whilst at the mall, Deva Deva bought Gurudev several pairs of socks.

Gurudev stopped at a computer megastore, and looked around for an SD card, which Deva Deva kindly paid for.

Whilst driving around, Gurudev asked me to get a hold of Krsna Prema on the phone to confirm details about the house-warming program Gurudev would be having there at the weekend. When the topic of prasadam came up, Gurudev said, “No. Not Mexican. I think I’ll take break from that for a while. How about some Chinese?”

Gurudev also had me call Mogi at the travel agency to finalize some details in His itinerary. Since the price of tickets would be going up in the near future, Gurudev had bought all of His international tickets for the entire year.

When we got back to the house, Gurudev had me sit down and watch the entire Durban Ratha Yatra . It took about 5 hours! Still, it was absolute nectar! Most importantly, it was for Gurudev… Around 13h30, Gurudev took lunch prasadam. As afternoon turned into night, the weather took a turn for the worse, and it started raining quite heavily.

As Gurudev was being driven to the site, He commented about the unexpected downpour, “Well, it looks like that’s the end of the Tent Campaign.” Indeed, we were all in agreement that the weather would adversely affect attendance. To our surprise, we saw that the tent was at least half-full and the crowd kept growing! The first thing that Gurudev said when He started speaking was, “Yes, it’s raining. And that’s a shame. Still, ‘the show must go on’ as they say.” This displayed His absolute determination to continue preaching under all circumstances. Gurudev spoke on Bhagavad Gita 9.13-14. There was a kirtan afterwards, and the devotees lifted themselves out of their seats and danced their rain-soaked blues away! Gurudev returned to the house and rested by 22h30.

Day 25, Saturday, 02/05/08


Gurudev came out of His room and joined us in the lounge by 6am. He immediately started puja, which I had already set up for. We then settled down to chant japa. At one point, Gurudev turned to me and asked, “How’s the diary?” He also warned me not to be subjective in my presenting the diary. I made a mental note of this, and apply myself very hard to maintain this standard.

The devotees “went the extra mile”to make a grand breakfast for Gurudev, including a sweetcorn bake by Nishi. She had taken the trouble to ask me what Gurudev would like eat, and I had suggested this prep. She didn’t know how to make it, so I gave her Vrajadevi Mataji’s details. As Gurudev ate helping after helping of the sweetcorn bake, He appreciated very much, “Apart from Vrajadevi in Pietermaritzburg, she’s the only one who knows how to make sweetcorn bake.” Nishi and I exchanged knowing glances. Gurudev finished His meal, but didn’t stop glorifying Nishi, “Excellent! World class.” Nishi simply beamed from ear to ear, so pleased that Gurudev was satisfied.

Since I had found several places on the DVD’s where there was “freezing”, Gurudev decided to watch the DVD Himself. Unfortunately, Clive’s DVD player was a little faulty, and this proved to be a problem.

During the course of the day, several devotees visited Gurudev, including Paramisvarah and family, Cakradhari and Aravinda dalayataksa. Cakradhari Prabhu has spent a lot of time in Vrndavana, and got into a discussion with Gurudev about the state of affairs in Vraja. Gurudev was saying that things have really changed in certain parts, even in Govardhan Town and Vrndavana Town, with massive construction and development going on. In the villages though, things are still more or less untouched by modern technology.

Deva Deva had made a beautiful turban for Giriraj, and when He presented it to Gurudev said, “Thank you. It looks great!” Gurudev was served His lunch at 2pm. There was also a bottle of maple syrup that Gurudev had had me bring along from Durban. This was given to Gurudev by Savia Saci, who recently married our Godsister, Syamesvari. Gurudev requested that I pour some of the maple syrup over His dessert. After the meal, Gurudev appreciated the cooks’ efforts, “What a grand feast! Yet another.” Before we left for the program, Gurudev sat in the lounge and chanted japa. Deva Deva had a camera and took several group photographs with Gurudev.

When we drove up to the tent, I noticed that the crowd had already filled the tent about 75%. Gurudev gave a class from Bhagavat Gita 10.9. He mentioned about the five most potent forms of bhakti. He said that of the five, “association” is mentioned first. Gurudev then started a kirtan that had the whole tent rocking! Gurudev specifically called the devotees onto the stage to dance. Our Godsisters, Syama and Yogini were ready for action, and danced up a storm!

Gurudev then spent several minutes granting darshans. Afterwards we drove back to the house and retired. It was well past 23h30!

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