Day 15, Tuesday, 01/01/08
I went down to Gurudev’s room several times to see if it was appropriate to clean, but found it locked. When I eventually did manage to see Gurudev, He was chanting at His table. I asked if I could enter, and started cleaning up.
When I had put away His bed, I asked Him what the plan for the day was. He said that He would not be taking any breakfast, and wanted to start puja as soon as I was finished. I said that I would finish with the room, which meant sweeping and wiping the floor, then complete the bathroom whilst He performed the puja.
Then apologized for my poor manners during the drive to Phoenix and at lunch the previous day. Gurudev said, “Yesterday you and Aneer were just chatting away, even in the presence of two senior devotees. It wasn’t as if you were speaking anything particularly Krsna Conscious either. For future reference, you should just be quiet, or chant japa in the presence of the senior devotee. This is the etiquette.”
I said that I would. I told Him that I was sorry about the ridiculous comment I had passed during lunch at Madhumangal’s.
Gurudev said, “You seem to have a problem with your mouth.”
I agreed with Him and asked how to solve my problem.
Gurudev said, “Try and be more careful. Think before you speak.”
I thanked Gurudev and apologized again for my stupidity and offensiveness.
There was to be a program at Atri Rishi Prabhu’s home that afternoon, during which his son would be receiving a name. Gurudev and Krsna das Swami would be the guests of honour. Prithambar Prabhu fetched Gurudev and drove Him to Jagadishwar’s house, where Krsna das Swami was staying, so the swamis could travel together to the program.
At Jagadishwar’s house, when Gurudev was offered something to drink, whilst He waited for Krsna dasa Maharaj, He said, “We will drink the nectar of the Holy Name.”
There was a large crowd gathered at Atri Rishi Prabhu’s home in a huge marquee. After Krsna dasa Swami gave his address, Gurudev spoke. He said, “I would like to endorse everything that Krsna dasa Maharaj has said. Forgive Me, My voice is a bit strained. We had a late-night program until 01h30 actually.
It was worth it.” He gave His full blessings to Khaneya dasa, Atri Rsi’s very beautiful son.
When the time came for the yajna, Gurudev practically ran over to help Krsna dasa Maharaj stand up. He even held the chair in place as Maharaj sat down.
The program took a very long time. When all the formalities were over, the swamis were taken indoors for prasadam. There were several servers, but Alakananda and her brother Ranti dev managed things very well. I tried to steal an opportunity wherever I could. Towards the end of the serve-out, Suniti Mataji asked me to dish out my prasadam. I was just about finished when Gurudev indicated that He would like to leave. He then sent a message that I should “take prasadam peacefully.” I hastened to finish, since I didn’t want Him to wait for me. I then drove Gurudev back to the temple.
At around 16h30, Gurudev and I left to New Jaganath Puri with Rakesh Prabhu. Rakesh and his wife, Nelisha, thanked Gurudev very much for the wonderful harinam the previous night. Gurudev said, “Yes! We need more programs like that, actually.” One very instructive thing that Gurudev said to Nelsiha about her Kartik vrata was, “Its nice to take a vrata for Kartik, but we should not take on something so intense that at the end we are tired from it.”
Gurudev asked me to contact our Dr. Umesh Ravjee, who was meant to give Him some medication that He would take on His travels. When Gurudev arrived at New Jaganath Puri, He delivered His address. Actually, it was the anniversary of the opening of the Temple and the installation of Their Lordships Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundara. Gurudev started off by jokingly asking the devotees if they had recovered from the New Year’s Eve harinam last night. He said, “I’m still recovering!”
He read from BG 12.13-14. He also quoted from BG 6.46-47, which I asked Him about whilst we were in Cape Town.
After class, there was a huge kirtan, and although the devotees were still recovering from the maha-harinam, they danced along happily.
After the devotees had dispersed to honour prasadam in the hall downstairs, several people came to get darshan of Gurudev. At the very end, Rakesh and his wife approached Gurudev and asked Him to accept them as His aspiring disciples. Their smiling faces afterwards was more than an indication of the outcome.
We arrived at Sri Sri Radha-Radhanath Mandir at around 21h00. I arranged for Gurudev’s hot milk, and made His bed before retiring.
Day 16, Wednesday, 02/01/08
Gurudev entered the temple room during japa. After I’d offered Him acaman so that He could offer water to tulasi, He asked me about details of the program at KwaMashu that evening. I had to meet with Bhavananda Raya and Anandini Radhika to get an answer.
The Srimad Bhagavatam class would be given by Gurudev, so I fetched the book for Him. Class was about some “major realizations” that Narada Muni had after actually visiting the various palaces of Krsna in Dwarika an seeing Him engaged in various activities.
Gurudev took a fruit breakfast, which was kindly prepared by Hemalata. During the morning, I went down to Gurudev’s room and counted some Laxmi for banking. I had just started when I got a call. Bhaktin Reshi was very eager to buy something for Gurudev, and phoned me to ask what she could get for Him. Gurudev said that she could get some blank DVD’s, and agreed with my suggestion that she could also get a CD-rack.
Bhakta Ishan was keen to do some service for Gurudev, so he tidied up and reset His cupboards. Whilst counting, I occasionally peeped up at the television set to see the Russian DVD that Gurudev was watching. At one point the picture froze. Gurudev’s back was turned, so I brought His attention to this, asking if it was the same one that we has watched in Cape Town. He said that this was actually a new DVD master He had burned. I felt bad because it was probably because I had over-used the previous master that Gurudev had to re-do it. I always knew Gurudev to be very particular about the finest detail. This was no exception.
He had me watch that scene no less that three times before He gave the DVD a go-ahead! With that I was off to the bank.
There was an unexpected delay at the bank, so I was 6 minutes late to serve Gurudev His lunch. Fortunately, Ishan was around and served Gurudev at His preferred lunch-time of 1pm. I was grateful that Gurudev was not been unnecessarily delayed.
That afternoon, Laxminath Prabhu drove Gurudev and I to the program at Anandini’s nama hatta. I had asked to borrow Ashim Krsna Prabhu’s deity of Srila Prabhupada, which I had placed on the backboard of the car. When Gurudev saw this, He asked me to rather carry Srila Prabhupada on my lap. A second vehicle with some temple devotees followed us. Gurudev was very warmly and enthusiastically welcomed into the home by the nama hatta devotees. He asked Bhaktin Desire to select a verse from BG, and she chose BG 7.14. As Gurudev spoke, Bhavananda Raya gave a Zulu translation. Gurudev was very encouraging to Bhavananda and asked the devotees afterwards, “Was the translating ok? Did you understand everything?” And when they replied that they had, He said, “Very good! Well done!” After the talk there was a question and answer session. Then there was a lovely kirtan, which everybody enjoyed.
Gurudev then spent more than an hour speaking to Anandini, with the help of Nomfundo as a translator. He had to offer her some counseling because she had been approached by the Gaudiya Math recently, who had tried to woo her into joining them. Nomfundo said that some of them had even promised to give her initiation “over the phone”! Pretty desperate and pathetic if you ask me. While this was going on inside, the guests were served prasadam outside. We left soon afterwards. At the temple, I arranged for the hot milk, so that Gurudev could take His medication. I made His bed and then retired for the night.
Day 17, Thursday, 03/01/08
I was just beginning to lead the tulasi arati kirtan, when Gurudev walked into the temple room. I offered my obeisances and sang on, a bit nervously since I was in His presence.
During japa, Gurudev called me over and asked who was giving class. I said that I was not sure, but it would most probably be Him. As I knelt before Him, He took off the garland that was around His neck and placed it around mine. You
have probably heard of the expression “causeless mercy” before. This was certainly an example of that, since I was so undeserving of such a gesture. I still have that garland to this day.
Gurudev also asked whether it was Ekadasi that day or the next. We were going to Pradyumna Prabhu’s home for lunch the following day, and Gurudev wanted me to make sure that both he and Krsna das Swami were aware when Ekadasi was, since there seemed to be some confusion about the date.
I got so absorbed in cleaning Gurudev’s room and making several calls, that I could not deliver the Srimad Bhagavatam to Him on time. One point that stood out in the class was about japa. Gurudev spoke about getting one’s rounds chanted during the Brahma Muhurta period being very good because “the energy is such, that it is relatively the most suitable, conducive time.”
At one point, the electricity went off and came on again. This caused the sound system to go dead momentarily, and when it came back on the Govindam prayers played over the PA system. Gurudev said, “How auspicious!”
Hemalata, who has doing so much of Deity service, and would even be missing Gurudev’s classes regularly, made the sacrifice and prepared His fruit breakfast for the entire week. Some bhoga was bought by Mukesh which also helped.
I spent the majority of the morning dying Gurudev’s cloth. Ishan had said that he would help, but got caught up in other services, so Yauvan assisted me.
Ishan joined us later. Deva Deva and Karunamayi had prepared lunch and were busy re-heating everything at around 12h45. At 12h55, we were ready for action. Gurudev started honouring prasadam, beginning with the three soups. After a short while however, He said that none of them were hot enough. Deva Deva had to run back to the kitchen to re-heat the soups. I continued serving Gurudev some of the other preparations. When Deva Deva returned Gurudev apologized to him for the inconvenience He was causing, “Sorry to make you run around. Hot food is good for Me.” This is the first time I had heard Gurudev say this about His choice to eat His prasadam as hot as possible, and it sunk deep into consciousness. I made a determined decision, then and there, to always ensure that His meals will be served hot, no matter what.
After prasadam, Gurudev stood up and declared, “My feeling overall is that the prasadam was quite excellent.”
During the course of the morning, Gurudev had been in contact with Gaurangi, who was having drawings done for GM’s Radha Kunda DVD. Gaurangi had them flown down from Johannesburg at her own expense. I had to drive to the airport to fetch the package. There was also some medication I had to pick up from Dr. Umesh for Gurudev. When I returned, and wanted to hand over the items to Gurudev, He was busy chanting with Hemalata and Nerushni. Gurudev asked me, “Do you still have some rounds? Why don’t you join us?” I declined. After a short while, I reconsidered Gurudev’s offer and returned to the room to chant in His Divine presence. There was also a meeting with Prana Priya during the early evening.
In the early evening, Gurudev asked for His hot milk, and took His medication.
Ishan had offered to bring two sets of Gurudev’s cloth to His room. Since it was raining quite heavily, I told him to rather take it to Gurudev the following day. This was to prove to be a very, very big mistake. I made Gurudev’s bed and retired before 21h00, looking forward to the next day’s Ekadasi vrata.
Day 18, Friday, 04/01/08
Gurudev entered the temple room as I was leading the chanting of the Guruvastakam. After Gurudev had chanted His Gayatri, I offered my obeisances at His Divine lotus feet. He said, “Just by the way, I have no fresh cloth. This is yesterday’s cloth that I am using. Who is meant to see to My cloth?”
I was absolutely shocked and saddened that Gurudev had to resort to using the previous day’s cloth. I firstly apologized to Him profusely for the fact that He was inconvenienced. He said, “I know that I have at least 10 sets of cloth. Are there any freshly-dyed sets? Where are the sets you dyed yesterday?”
I said, “They have to be ironed, Gurudev. I was saving them for Your travels overseas.” Gurudev asked, “Are there any sets besides these?” I said, “Yes. They were ironed and ready but not delivered to You.” Gurudev, “Why? Who was meant to deliver them?” I said, “Well, Ishan but.ultimately I’m meant to manage things.” Gurudev, “You are meant to oversee these things, you know.”
I bent my head and looked at the marble tiles at Sri Sri Radha-Radhanath Mandir. I was humbled into silence.
Gurudev said, “Anyway, I’m going to the doctor this morning, so I’ll shower and change when I get back. Will there be a set available then?” I said, “Yes, Guru Maharaj. Definitely. I’m very sorry for the inconvenience. I take full responsibility for this.”
I felt really terrible that Gurudev had to be placed in such a situation because of my lack of intelligence. My mind was so pre-occupied with these thoughts that I left my cadar behind when I left the temple room to get some maha-sweets for the doctor. When I went back to the temple room to fetch my cadar, I offered my obeisances to Gurudev as always.
Even as I was getting up from offering obeisances, the look I saw on Gurudev’s face told me that something was terribly wrong.
“You told me that there wasn’t any cloth available. That’s not what Ishan says. He said that he had some sets ready and wanted to give them to you yesterday, but you said that you would take them today. Please don’t be dishonest. Don’t lie to Me.”, Gurudev said this with the most serious expression I have ever seen on His face in our time together.
I was completely numbed. Speechless, I just looked at Him. I managed to pluck up enough courage to say, “Guru Maharaj, I am not lying. I don’t remember Ishan giving me the cloth at 4pm. I would have brought it to You.” In fact the details of the incident were somehow suddenly forgotten, so I didn’t have an answer.
Gurudev said, in a very serious voice, shaking His head from side to side as He spoke, “Don’t lie to Me.” I said, “I’m not.”
Gurudev shot back, “You’ve done it before.” This devastated me. I was dumbstruck. Gurudev quoted an incident from the past, in which I had allegedly lied to Him. I took time to explain that incident in more detail to Him. He then seemed to understand the incident better, since I had now given Him a fuller picture down to the graphic details. Still, He would not relent, “Please don’t be dishonest. It’s for your own purification.”
Then He stopped talking. I was still reeling from the chastisement, and hearing that incident from the past brought back a lot of painful memories, so I was still speechless. Although I tried to move, I couldn’t. I just remained there kneeling before Gurudev in silence, too shocked to say or do anything. I have never seen Gurudev so angry before and I was in a state of shock. Gurudev could see this and repeated, “This is for your purification.” When I still remained frozen, He said, “OK. Let’s get on with things.” Although still shaken, I offered my obeisances to Gurudev and left.
Bhakta Rakesh had kindly agreed to drive Gurudev to the doctor since he was still on leave. We left the temple immediately after Srila Prabhupada’s Guru puja. We arrived at the doctor’s suites five minutes early. Gurudev chanted incessantly. Whilst we were waiting for Dr. Dylan, we chanted. My mind was still reeling from the incident this morning and I started to weep silent tears.
In Dylan’s surgery, Gurudev was seated at Doctor’s table for a short chat. Dylan is quite a character. He is a bundle of energy, exuberant and an eternal optimist. As we were waiting, he had had a small meeting with the receptionists and “gave them the sauce!” Now he was explaining to Gurudev what that was all about, “I believe that healing starts from the very first contact. If a patient hears somebody on the phone who’s not so helpful or even knowledgeable, the healing process is retarded. If the patient is cared for from the very beginning, healing can begin from that point. I’ve seen miracles, I tell you. Cases in which there was no chance of recovery have been completely healed, by the patient’s belief in themselves and the caregivers.”
Having meditated on this for a while now, I can clearly see that this applies to me very much. Many people contact me to arrange some program, or to get some information or to get in contact with Gurudev. I am so incompetent. If I am to ensure that the spiritual “healing” that Gurudev is able to dispense takes place effectively, I have to raise myself to an acceptable standard.
Gurudev’s treatment involved some minor surgery, which was performed under local anaesthetic. When he had finished, Dylan said, “You’re ready for action, soldier.” He shook Gurudev’s hand and, beaming from ear to ear, walked Him out of the procedure room to the reception, where we had to make our next appointment. One important point about Dr. Dylan is that he does this service for Gurudev absolutely free of charge. The cost of the treatments Gurudev receives would probably run into tens of thousands of rands. It is his way of doing some service for “the Swami”, and Gurudev appreciates it very much.
As we drove back to the temple, Gurudev examined His temple, where the surgery was performed, “I’m full of holes.”
Gurudev was given a prescription which we decided to get from a pharmacy closer to the temple. Bhakta Rakesh kindly agreed to pay for the medication.
When he returned to the car, Gurudev had a look at the invoice and then at the medication. Firstly, He expressed amazement that the medication had cost so much. Then, He realized that the pharmacist had made a mistake. He decided to go in Himself. The pharmacist was shown his mistake by Gurudev and kindly agreed to change the medication. There was a portion of the prescription that I would have to pick up the next day, and I said that I would.
When Gurudev got back, He took a shower, changed and performed His puja. There were some dates, which He offered to Giriraj, and that was all He took for breakfast. During the course of the late morning hours, Gurudev granted darshan to Bhaktin Gina, who was having some difficulty. Gurudev advised her to work on three areas viz. sadhana, service and association. I have included this detail because these are areas we can all improve in.
Thereafter, I met with Gurudev. In my eight years of knowing Gurudev as a disciple, this is the deepest, most honest and profound conversation I have ever had with Him. Four main topics were discussed. The first was my decision to immerse myself in book distribution. Then I gave an explanation about the “cloth saga”. I explained that I had asked Ishan not to bring the cloth down to His room because it was raining at that time. Gurudev pointed out that, although that may be true, He had several sets of cloth and it was completely unacceptable that He as a sannyasi should have to wear soiled cloth. He also said that I had presented that incident as if it were Ishan’s fault. I said that the whole thing was a misunderstanding, and admitted to having a very poor memory at times.
I then explained about the accusation of dishonesty, asking Gurudev if He trusted me. He said that He “basically trusted me” and that “nobody is completely trustworthy, unless they’re pure devotees.” He then quoted the incident from my past, in which I had apparently lied to Him and kept things from others. I explained that I had spoken perhaps a half-truth, which may be considered a lie, but at the time I was very bewildered.
He said, “Anyway, I basically trust you, but I know you have breaking points. And sometimes I get the feeling that you cover up for yourself and say things that are not absolutely true to save face, but I’ve never brought it up.” I said, “The reason I’m asking You about this ‘trust’ is that it would be very difficult for You to maintain me as a personal servant if You cannot trust me, I would think.” Gurudev said, ” Well, I hope that I can trust you enough.” I said, “You can.”
Then He mentioned about a bottle of cooldrink that was “missing” from His fridge. I explained that He had received three such bottles, one of which He had drunk in my presence, thus leaving the correct number of two remaining. I said, “I’ve never, ever stole from You.ever.” Gurudev said, “OK. Put it this way: My extent of trust for you is sufficient to have you continue with the service. Even you deal with money, quite a lot.” I asked, tearfully, “Do You doubt me in that regard?”
Gurudev said, “I trust you enough.” I said, “I’m happy with that, and I will maintain and increase Your trust in me. You can give me more responsibility and.”
Gurudev cut in, “We have to from time to time chastise the disciple. It is our sacred duty. Can’t just pat them on the head all the time, especially when there’s some glaring inconsistency. I am a sannyasi and I have to wear dirty clothes? ” I said, “I’m sorry about that.” Gurudev said, “I’ve got so many clothes, you know. I got enough clothes practically for the whole temple.” I said, “It’s just the dyeing.” Gurudev said, “Yeah, I know there was a slightly unusual situation with the dyeing, which doesn’t happen much at all but it happens. But still, I,ve got clothes.” I said, “I just have to get more in touch with the ironing part and having cloth ready for You.”
Gurudev said, “Like in Vrndavan, I had five or six sets. There were already a couple of sets there. I was there for a couple of weeks. One set went into the wash and didn’t come back. Then another set didn’t come back. Then another set.
Eventually, I got to the point there was only one set.” I was concerned that He was talking about 2005, when I served Him in Vrndavan, but Gurudev said, “No. Just now. It’s like that.” I said, “Five sets?” Gurudev said, “Six sets even. And it’s like that. And it’s a nuisance. If I had twenty sets of clothes, I’m sure we’ll get down to one. And then they’ll all get mixed up and so on.”
I said, “I promise You, on this day of Ekadasi, that I will personally take charge of Your cloth from now on. You will never be short of cloth ever again. As long as I am with You. You won’t be inconvenienced like that again.” Gurudev said, “Check the cupboard every day.” Then, in regards to my second initiation, Gurudev said that there was no rush, “You got to just settle down.” When I asked about my colour, He said, “There’s no need to make it an issue.” I said, “Just be a devotee and serve nicely.” Gurudev said, “Just do that. I’ll be back in two months, and we’ll see how it’s going then.”
I said, “If You’ll allow me, I ‘ll still want to maintain You in that position as being my friend, who I can tell anything to. I won’t be afraid to approach You with anything. I won’t keep any secrets from You. And I will try and improve the relationship with You.” Gurudev said, “Good. That’s nice.” I said, “But I am noticing also that this is an aspect of my personality – this cheating tendency. I mean, it’s not easy for a person to sit and tell You, You know. ‘I feel I’m cheating You.’ But I’m realizing actually it’s like that.’ Gurudev said, “It’s not like total cheating.” I said, “It’s like a white lie.”
Gurudev said, “Yeah, a subtle something.” I said, “It’s not something I’m intentionally doing. It’s my conditioning.
It’s my nature. But it’s something that I think can be eradicated by offence-less chanting. And Your association, and serving You Gurudev. I feel like I am learning and gaining and being educated every day.” I started to cry. “Thank You for Your patience.” Gurudev said, “Hare Krsna.”
I continued, “Thank You for Your love. Your compassion. And for tolerating me. I hope to one day sit here before You and say. like that day I was initiated. I said that ‘I am Yours’ and You said ‘I don’t know about that. Srila Prabhuapada’s and Krsna’s maybe.’ I hope to come and sit here before You one day and say ‘I am Yours’, and really, really mean it.”
Gurudev said, “Thank you. Hare Krsna.”
At 12h30, Gurudev left for lunch prasadam at Pradyumna Prabhu’s house. Krsna das Swami and Gurudev sat together, driven by Atri Rsi Prabhu. Jagat Guru Prabhu and I followed in another car. When they arrived, the swamis took darshan of the beautiful Dieties. Then they had their feet bathed and there was Guru puja. Gurudev was then invited to speak. He talked about Lord Caitanya’s desire to have this chanting spread to every town and village, and He gave His full support to Pradyumna Prabhu’s preaching center. Krsna das Swami, Gurudev and Jagat Guru Prabhu then took prasadam. They took their time and, as the rain poured down outside, I enjoyed serving Srila Gurudev and watching Him eating.
We left soon afterwards for the temple. Gurudev asked for His hot milk, opting to take some medication now and some later tonight. Gurudev was doing the Newlands nama hatta that evening and Avi picked Him up at around 18h30. Gurudev was intensely working on His computer until the second we left. Gurudev informed Avi that this was the first nama hatta He’d done in a few months. Avi had just become the father of a baby girl about 36 hours earlier, and wanted Gurudev to choose a name. When we arrived at the Newlands nama hatta, there was a huge kirtan to welcome Gurudev. Gurudev then sang, and things were off to an auspicious start. Gurudev asked Bhakta Viren, who’s birthday it was, to select a verse. The class was on BG 13.22, and it was very light-hearted and extremely educational.
Gurudev then performed the arati, whilst Ishkaar lead kirtan. Gurudev took over after He had finished, and I swear for a few minutes we were all airborne! After the kirtan, a large Ekadasi cake was brought in and Viren cut it. He then fed Gurudev, before relishing all the maha for himself. The rascal!
There was then a huge feast served to the devotees, whilst Gurudev took some prasadam cooked by our Godsister, Krsna Prema. Gurudev then granted darshan for an entire hour. He then distributed the multitude of garlands He’d received to all the youngsters.
We arrived at the temple after 11pm. As I was setting up His bed, Gurudev asked me, “Am I meant to be giving class tomorrow?” When I confirmed that this was actually the case, Gurudev said, “Actually I will take extra rest tomorrow.” I retired after 23h30. It was the most amazing day I’ve ever had in the service of Guru Maharaj.
Day 19, Saturday, 05/01/08
As per our discussion the night before, Gurudev didn’t come up for the morning program. I went down to His room with the bhoga offering for Giriraj after Srila Prabhupada’s Guru puja. Gurudev was chanting whilst gazing at the Radha Kunda DVD, doing a final check. I entered, handed Him the bhoga and offered my obeisances. After making His bed, I asked if I could clean up. He replied, “Yes. We can do the puja by 08h30 today. I asked, “Would You be taking any breakfast?” He said that He wouldn’t. Ramananda Raya had made some extra mangal sweets, which Gurudev offered to Giriraj.
Gurudev had asked me when would be a suitable time to pack His bags for His international travels. I suggested a time of 09h30, after I had fetched His medication from the pharmacy. On my way back to the room, I brought some maha prasadam so that Gurudev could break His Ekadasi fast. He honoured just a pinch of halava. The packing of the bags took over 1 hour. Gurudev instructed me to pack warm clothing for the cold Russian winter as well as plenty of mosquito repellant for Mayapur!
After this service, I dived into my japa. Bhakta Yauvan had come to visit Gurudev along with his sister Kajal. She had done exceptionally well in her final year at school, and was going to study medicine. Yauvan’s mum, Sharda had very kindly altered a set of sleeping clothes for Gurudev.
Dashen, who driving both Krsna das Swami and Gurudev to Pietermaritzburg called saying that he was a little delayed because the rain was making the roads hazardous to travel on. We were a little delayed to pick up Krsna das Swami, and Gurudev stoked us into action by saying, “Let’s move along!”
When we arrived at Jagadishwar’s home, Krsna das Swami was standing outside in the rain, with his disciples holding an umbrella for him. Dashen drove very, very cautiously. Krsna das Maharaj requested that the airconditioner be kept off during the trip, since his “sinuses were very weak.” felt like I was in a sauna.
Gurudev and Krsna das Swami both wanted to know where Svarupa Damodara Prabhu was. After much endeavour, I got him on the line and he spoke to Gurudev. At the home of Vrajadevi, the swamis were warmly welcomed and presented with many beautiful garlands. Gurudev was also happy to see Bhakta Preven again, and congratulated him on his being such a good “MC” during the hall program 2 weeks ago. After a short talk with the family, prasadam was served.
Alakananda and her brother Ranti dev managed the serve-out expertly. I could only stand and watch in amazement, seizing a chance here and there to serve something. Gurudev made a special point of glorifying the salad made by Aruna, Abhimanyu’s wife. Afterwards we took prasadam to our full satisfaction. Gurudev was concerned that we would be late for program at Reshi’s so we had to “double up”. I made some calls to Reshi’s to explain that we were running late, and to ask how many people were there. A bhaktin named Sraddha was chanting to keep those who had already arrived involved in hearing of the Holy Names.
When we arrived, Gurudev walked straight into the marquee. Rommie Mataji introduced the program before Gurudev lead a kirtan, whilst Lokabandu Prabhu performed arati. The kirtan started to build, and a few of us began dancing in joy. This a very significant point because this program was a memorial service.
Reshi’s husband, Naleen, had lost his father four days earlier. This program had meant to be a Krsna katha and had been planned for months. When Gurudev had found out and asked Naleen if he still wanted to go ahead with the program, he had said he would, and it should be dedicated to his father’s memory. So, we don’t always find people dancing at memorial services! This point was explained in-depth by Gurudev during His class. He spoke from BG 8.5-7. When the family got a chance to speak, I was amazed at how auspicious the conditions were under which this Prabhu left this world. It made me feel very confident and brave that I was a devotee.
After class, a huge feast was served. Reshi and her husband then had a darshan with Gurudev, during which time He further consoled them and they presented Him with the CD-rack and blank DVD’s we’d requested for. Gurudev then granted several darshans for up to an hour. We then left for Mother Suniti’s home, where Gurudev would be staying.
A certain Dr. Gongal, an orthopaedic surgeon, was waiting for Gurudev when He arrived. In fact, he had been waiting for an hour and a half! They spoke at length about various topics of the Krsna Conscious philosophy. When Gurudev retired to His room, He asked for His new medication which He had got from Dr. Dylan, and some juice. Gurudev then retired. It was well past 22h00.
Day 20, Sunday, 06/01/08
Gurudev joined us during the full morning program in Suniti’s temple room. Gurudev had told me we would perform puja to Giriraj a bit earlier to accommodate the special program. I collected the paraphernalia, and Gurudev worshipped Giriraj, whilst I stood nearby in attendance. We then chanted japa for an hour in the lounge. At this time, Gurudev stood up and took a look at the sky. Seeing that it had cleared up substantially, He said that we should go for a japa walk. It was a very short walk, lasting slightly over 10 minutes, but we relished it.
By the time we returned the devotees had already set up for the abhishek ceremony for the new Gaura Nitai Deities that Vraja Renu and Bhakta Rajesh wanted Gurudev to install. Gurudev immediately got into action with the abhishek. Gaura-Nitai are very merciful, even to the most fallen, so this sinful rascal, Caitanya Carana dasa was allowed to assist with the puja. One by one Gurudev requested for the auspicious items and bathed the Dieties, as Ranti dev sang a very nice kirtan. Then all the guests were allowed to bath the Deities. The Deities were then taken away to be dressed. During this time, Gurudev gave class from Srimad Bhagavatam 2.3.22. It was a very relevant verse and purport. The devotees fully appreciated the class, and everybody was completely absorbed.
Then the beautifully-dressed Deities were brought in. Gurudev performed arati and did a bhoga offering. He duly named Them Sri Sri Nitai Gauranga. Then Gurudev took His breakfast. Ranti dev insisted that I take prasadam simultaneously so that Gurudev could leave timeously for the airport. I packed up both Gurudev’s and my bag first before I honoured prasadam. After talking to the family for a while, Gurudev indicated that He would like to leave. The devotees in Pietermaritzburg are extremely attached to Gurudev, and He had to practically tear Himself away. It was very heart-warming.
Dashen and I packed the car and we were off. Dashen’s family also came along to see Gurudev off.
Gurudev wanted to make a stop at the temple first, so we headed for Sri Sri Radha-Radhanath Mandir. Gurudev told me that we would leave in 15 minutes. This allowed Him some time to do some last-minute work on His computer.
We arrived at the airport in good time. During the entire drive to the airport, I must have taken my eyes off Gurudev for about 3 minutes. This last term of service had been very purifying and thought-provoking. More and more I was seeing how glorious a devotee He was, and more and more I was seeing how completely unfit I was to serve Him.
After check-in, we wheeled Gurudev’s hand-luggage for Him until He had to pass through alone. As He entered that restricted area, I positioned myself so I could have one final word, “I am going to make You proud of me, not by words but by my actions.” Gurudev looked at me and said. “Good.” He then passed out of my sight as I offered my obeisances to my eternal spiritual master, Srila Bhakti Caitanya Swami.
Your insignificant servant,
Caitanya Carana dasa