Day 3, Sunday, 11/11/07
Guru Maharaja arrived during mangal arati, right as the last verse of the Guruvastakam Prayer was being sung. I honestly believe that this is the most important verse in the prayer, and Guru Maharaja’s appearing at that exact moment seemed to confirm this.
During japa I went to speak to Guru Maharaja. After offering my respectful obeisances, I asked Him if He would please give the Caitanya Caritamrta class, which He graciously agreed to do.
I suggested a fruit breakfast and He was agreeable to it. When I mentioned that there could be some avocados available, He said that there should be some salt provided also.
I then resumed my chanting and Guru Maharaja resumed His. After ten minutes, He summoned again and said something most amazing. “I don’t know if the authorities will allow it, but when I go to India next time around you can come with Me. They probably won’t allow it though.” I was speechless, but completely exhilarated at the same time. I thanked Guru Maharaja profusely and returned to my japa.
As I chanted, tears streaming down my cheeks, I thought, “Guru Maharaja is so kind. He knows I am going through the most difficult time of my life right now, and He wants to save me. Who can be more disqualified and unworthy to go to Vrndavana than me? Still, my merciful spiritual master wants to save me.”
At 06h30, I excused myself and went to fetch the Caitanya Caritamrta for Guru Maharaja, then I collected the bhoga for puja and cleaned His room. Guru Maharaja performed the arati for Srila Prabhupada’s Guru Puja, and I assisted Him.
The Caitanya Caritamrta class gave was one of the most amazing I’d ever heard, and later Guru Maharaja asked me to do a transcript of it. It is CC, Adi, Ch. 7,texts 95-96. (You will find this transcript posted on Guru Maharaja’s webpage.) The main theme of the class was the relationship we should have with the spiritual master, accepting His words as the absolute authority in our lives. He also spoke about Srila Prabhupada taking on the instructions of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati as his life and soul and his preaching having such a great impact on the West, as compared to his many Godbrothers. Whilst class was going on, bhaktin Varusha kindly agreed to cut fruit for Guru Maharaja’s breakfast.
Guru Maharaja conducted His puja immediately after class, and Ramananda Raya was present. Guru Maharaja was speaking to Ramananda Raya about how Indradyumna Swami had advised Him to worship Giriraj. “The worship is quite simple actually”, Guru Maharaja said. Then He did something amazing. After He told Ramananda Raya about His puja procedure, He asked him what he thought and if there was anyway He could improve. I was amazed at Guru Maharaja’s humility. Here He was, asking advice from His disciple.Ramananda Raya is also a very humble soul and told Guru Maharaja that whatever He had described sounded adequate. The conclusion of the discussion was that, apart from massaging Giriraj with some oils, everything was in order.
Whilst I then served Guru Maharaja His breakfast of fruit, I spoke to Him about my life. He spoke about “becoming more serious” and “being honest”. My life was starting to take shape like clay on a potter’s wheel, in Guru Maharaja’s lotus hands.
Guru Maharaja asked with great care and concern about the welfare of the other brahmacaris, and I explained to Him how each was doing. Guru Maharaja then had a meeting with Ramananda Raya, and asked him to translate something into Russian.
Bhakta Itumeleng had been very helpful, washing Guru Maharaja’s cloth since I became so engrossed in the service of keeping a journal and working on the transcript.
Bhakta Jakes also rendered some wonderful service by ironing Guru Maharaja’s cloth. Had these two devotees not “chipped in”, I probably would not have been able to finish my rounds.
That afternoon, Guru Maharaja was due to speak at New Jaganath Puri in Phoenix. Bhakta Aneer kindly agreed to drive Him there. Whilst we were getting ready to leave, Guru Maharaja asked me to fetch the Caitanya Caritamrta He had used this morning. I raced up to the temple-room to get it, but somebody had already taken it away. I told Guru Maharaja this and phoned Prabhanu Prabhu to ensure that he would make one available at New Jaganath Puri, which he kindly did.
On the way, Aneer asked Guru Maharaja about His DVD’s. He has most of them, and claims that the Varsana one is his favourite. Guru Maharaja was pleased to hear this.
When Guru Maharaja entered the temple-room, He noticed the the Sunday program was very poorly attended. “Where is everyone? Still tired from Govardhan puja?”, He jokingly asked the congregation. Undaunted, He proceeded to give a glorious class on the spiritual master, which was more or less an expansion of the morning class at Sri Sri Radha-Radhanath.
After class, Guru Maharaja gave darshan to a few devotees, including Bhakta Maran, who was planning to enter grhasta asram soon and desperately wanted Guru Maharaja to be present. Guru Maharaja said it wasn’t a problem, but to had to verify the dates after looking at His itinerary. He asked me to then get back to Maran with the confirmation. I made a mental note. That would prove to be a big mistake.
Whilst Guru Maharaja was giving darshan, I excused myself and went to take some prasadam. After I had just finished when I saw Prabhanu walking out of the temple-room carrying Guru Maharaja’s things! I raced towards him to take the things, praying all the while that I had not caused Guru Maharaja to wait. With a sigh of relief I saw that Guru Maharaja was still talking to some devotees, but was more or less ready to leave. We left for Chatsworth soon afterwards.
Once there, I set up the bed and bid Guru Maharaja well before retiring to my room. The next day, Guru Maharaja would be leaving us for Johannesburg to spend a few days there. Already, my anxiety was increasing in anticipation of the swift-approaching separation.
Day 4, Monday, 12/11/07
Guru Maharaja called me over to His side during the japa period. He wanted to clarify certain things. Firstly, we would have to pack His bag for Johannesburg sometime today. Then, I had to find out when the Ladysmith and Newcastle nama
hatta groups would be having there Ratha Yatra festivals next year, so that Guru Maharaja could see if He could fit it into His schedule.
He told me that He had asked me to do this some time ago but I had been neglectful. I bowed my head, wilting under the unavoidable fact that I had failed Him. Then, out of His fatherly love He changed the topic, by asking me to get things ready for puja, which we would do immediately after Srila Prabhupada’s Gurupuja. He asked me to confirm with Sheena whether there would be prasadam at the program for her grandfather that Guru Maharaja was doing on Friday, or whether He was going to Nityananda Pran’s.
Sheena had made several tiny ghee wicks and also a pretty little garland for Giriraj. I presented these to Guru Maharaja during puja. He was very pleased.
I served Guru Maharaja His prasadam and we continued our talks. After breakfast, Guru Maharaja had a meeting with Bhaktin Geena. He was attentive and accommodating, and didn’t rush her, although she took over 90 minutes to say whatever she had to say. Guru Maharaja then advised her accordingly. This mataji was having some difficulty with her service and was about to take on a very big service at the temple, which she felt was beyond her capabilities.
Guru Maharaja encouraged her, saying what happened when He joined. He said that soon after He joined, maybe a few months even, He was made the temple commander. He said that it was the temple commander’s duty to get people to do things, and sometimes they really didn’t want to! He explained the secret of how He resolved the problem. “One person in particular I had great difficulty getting to do anything. Then I approached him very respectfully, in a non-confrontational manner, and explained what I needed done and he did it. The last thing you should do when faced with opposition is enter into a confrontational mood.” Sound advice.
When Geena had left, Guru Maharaja asked me to get onto the phone and check with the Ladysmith and Newcastle leaders when their Ratha Yatra festivals would be. This took some doing, but eventually, I got the information. Guru Maharaja then saw that the dates they had given clashed with Maran’s wedding date, pointing to an e-mail He had just received. He said, “You were meant to check up on this earlier.”
I felt a knot in my stomach as I realized that I had messed up again. Fortunately, Maran e-mailed a while later indicating that He would be able re-schedule the wedding date so that Guru Maharaja could make it for the ceremony. This meant that Guru Maharaja could also attend the Ladysmith and Newcastle Ratha Yatras. Phew! What a relief!
Guru Maharaja then asked me to check up with the Johannesburg devotees about His accommodation during His forthcoming visit. Namacarya Prabhu was most helpful in this regard. Asha had kindly agreed to take Guru Maharaja to the airport and we left the temple well before time. Guru Maharaja would spend Srila Prabhupada’s Disappearance Day in Johannesburg. I recalled with fondness how we had spent this auspicious day together in Vrndavana in 2005.
Guru Maharaja waved us farewell as He walked through the security check point. Although He would only be spending 48 hours away from us, I was already missing Him so much…
I prayed to Krsna to allow me to serve Him with more competence. After all, He deserves nothing but the best!