With Guru Maharaja at Sri Sri Radha Radhanath Temple 25 January – 7 February 2011

On Tuesday 25 January, I received the opportunity to serve Guru Maharaja at Sri Sri Radha Radhanath temple while Arjuna-acarya prabhu returned home for a few days.
Guru Maharaja was scheduled to visit the home of a well-wisher. Isvara  Puri prabhu is a medical doctor and a disciple of His Holiness Giriraja Swami Maharaja. His home is nicely situated in a peaceful valley estate in Mount Edgecombe, not far from Phoenix. Upon arrival at prabhu’s home, Guru Maharaja was welcomed with a foot-bathing ceremony and Guru puja arati. He then addressed the family of devotees and retired for the evening.

The next morning, the sun awoke behind sleeping hills covered in dewy green grass. The fresh, crisp morning air of the valley refreshed the consciousness. After assisting Guru Maharaja dress and put on his socks, I performed the worship of Sri Giriraja.

As part of his healthy eating plan- prepared by a professional dietician- Guru Maharaja was served his breakfast comprising ten grapes and half a cup of berries. Although the diet plan can appear pedantic with its measurements, Guru Maharaja appreciated us adhering strictly to it, and serving him only measured portions of the low fat, low cholesterol diet prasadam.  It really is about time that we serve Guru Maharaja like this, not only because it is good for his health, but mainly because he prefers it. This means no more deep-fried foods, no more full-cream products, and
vegetables drowned in oil, butter or ghee.

Guru Maharaja went in for an MRI and CT scan on Wednesday 26th January from 11.00 to 13.00. This scan, kindly funded by a few disciples and well-wishers, clearly revealed the status of his physical condition. The specialists, shocked at the precarious condition of Srila Gurudeva’s health, were able to make a confident prognosis of the way of recovery using these results. From this, Guru Maharaja’s international travels for three months, at least, were suspended; and his attendance of meetings, programs and other events were reduced to a minimum.

On Sunday 30th January, Guru Maharaja attended an important preaching event along the South Coast at the Scottburg Town Hall, organized by Bhakta Sean and Haridev prabhu. The venue was well-decorated in banquet style, and the guests- mainly influential, well-placed individuals- were nicely welcomed and seated on time. Haridev prabhu facilitated the flow of items nicely. Guru Maharaja’s talk was the highlight of the event.

Guru Maharaja gave such an interesting and holistic class, covering many topical issues and motivating the audience to a state of higher consciousness-  Krishna consciousness. From this, we were again able to appreciate Guru Maharaja’s expertise at preaching in a way suitable to the audience and effecting practical positive change by inspiration and
winning-over the hearts of the audience. His powerful presence was felt by all, and many of the guests thanked him afterward for what he shared with them.

Guru Maharaja requested a program on Friday 04th February at Clair Estate Namahatta. On the way we had a terrible accident: a reckless man racing on the main highway tried cutting into the lane next to us. He swerved so sharply, he lost control of his car and crashed- at full force- into the front passenger’s door, where Guru Maharaja was seated. The window immediately shattered. The impact was so forceful, I expected us to be thrown off the road. The reckless man then crashed into the barrier and smashed into two other vehicles, causing the traffic to stop, momentarily. Some men immediately got off their car and pulled the reckless driver out and beat him up, drawing blood.

By Krsna’s kind mercy, Bhakta Karun, our driver, kept steady control over our car and pulled off on the side. Considering the impact with which we were hit, I was surprised that we were not thrown of the road. Thankfully, Guru Maharaja was unharmed. Although his door was badly smashed from the outside, the inside showed no damage, except for the shattered window. This was also Krsna’s kindness- Bhakta Karun’s vehicle is reinforced with strong sidebars to resist such impacts, and being an S.U.V we were more protected from the impact.

Shaken, we immediately set off for the temple, cancelling the evening’s program. Guru Maharaja was examined by Umakanta prabhu, a well-qualified and expert medical practitioner and devotee. Fortunately, there were no internal
or external injuries, and after a good night’s rest, we were back to normal.

On Saturday 5th February, Guru Maharaja did a program at the home of Rasa-mandala and Rasa-lila in Phoenix, opposite the New Jagannatha Puri Temple. It was well attended by over a hundred people, comprising devotees and many guests exposed to Krsna consciousness for the first time. Guru Maharaja gave a well calibrated talk, revealing the power of the Holy Names via the Ajamilla pastime. He then answered questions and gave away a Bhagavad-gita to a member of the audience who listened attentively.

On Sunday, Guru Maharaja appreciated the non-greasy lunch prasadam cooked by Mother Kamala Manjari and her family. She cooked without any ghee or oil, but rather only with “Spray and Cook”- just as Guru Maharaja likes it.  In his class, at the Sunday Love Feast, he mentioned how he is relieved not to have to eat any fried foods any longer. We humbly hope that we can all cook in such a pleasing way to Guru Maharaja: low fat, low cholesterol and non-greasy!

My short stay serving Guru Maharaja was relishable. It was wonderful to be with Guru Maharaja, although it’s unfortunate that he is inconvenienced at the moment. Since Guru Maharaja’s unfortunate blackout in Port Elizabeth, at the end of December last year, his health has suffered and made everything more difficult for him. In the position of his personal assistant, it was visible how much so this was: sitting, standing up, walking, climbing stairs, paying obeisances and sitting in a vehicle require cautious consideration before doing.

Guru Maharaja conveyed his blessings to the devotees in all yatras. He appreciates the prayers of the Vaisnavas around the world for the improvement of his health and requests us to all continue with that as well as extra chanting of the Holy names. He is a fearless preacher of Krsna consciousness and is extremely attached to the chanting of Hare Krsna. Even though he is physically unwell, his glorious spiritual qualities are always manifest, and can be appreciated more, now.

All glories to the lotus feet of our divine master, always.

Your servant,
Isvara Puri dasa

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