KcKd: Prabhu, in this, just for your information before we begin, we generally record these memories not only on personal interaction but also in general what you have heard about Maharaj, those kind of things also you can share Prabhu.
RSP: Ok Prabhu. Probably 10 -15 years ago, Maharaj arrived in Pune once. My first impression of him when I met him was in the Bhagavatam class, when I saw him and observed a spark in his eyes and big gleaming smile on his face very joyfully, blissfully situated. For us he was new, first time we got introduced to him. In the Srimad Bhagavatam class he quoted many nice references from Srimad Bhagavatam and when he concluded the class one brahmachari asked a question to Maharaj, “Maharaj, you are so blissfully situated in Krishna consciousness. In our young stage we feel very lusty and find it difficult to control our lust.” Maharaj gave one-line answer. He said, “Then you should get married.” The brahmachari said, “I didn’t intend to get married, I wanted to say can you please share some ideas on how one can get rid of lust.”
Then Maharaj said, “Yes, I never told to marry a woman. I suggested you to marry the Srimad Bhagavatam.”
The way Maharaj elaborated this point was so thrilling. He said, “When a man marries a woman, he gets her a new Kanchipuram silk saree and drapes around her body. Similarly, Srimad Bhagavatam is also kept in a very nice silk cloth, you will find whenever there is a big program they keep Bhagavatam on a silken cloth and also a newly wedded man always takes his wife around when he goes to the marketplace he does not go alone. Similarly, you should always carry the Bhagavatam wherever you go.” And this brahmachari was saying, “But Maharaj our life is too busy with management and I have no time what the use of is carrying it?”
Maharaj said, “I never told you to read. I only told you to carry.” (laughter). And then the devotee said, “If I simply carry, take it here and take it there and bring it back what is the use?” Maharaj said, “You don't know. If you carry Bhagavatam with you, Bhagavatam will inspire you to read it. You will open a page and read and then you will get further inspired and eventually you will be able take out time for reading Bhagavatam that work will personally be done by Krishna. You must commit yourself by taking it with you.” And also Maharaj said, “Just as a newly wedded man delights in the presence of his wife and feels free with joy, similarly for a bhakta, you should have the same delight it should come with your association with Srimad Bhagavatam. Just as in a wedded relationship it's a very calm combination of happiness and security, having the sense of belonging to be with someone you love, when they love you very much, in the same manner, if you read Srimad Bhagavatam you will develop a strong sense of security and shelter in Krishna's lotus feet.” He said that Sambandha will develop and he was telling Sambandha means bound together and husband and wife are bound together. Similarly, you also have to be bound with Krishna’s lotus feet. If you have connection with Srimad Bhagavatam and that bond becomes thicker, then the bonds of lust to the material world will become very weak and you'll become free from it and this is the way he was explaining. Many of us heard this for the first time and we were very thrilled. That was the time when many devotees would earlier be reading only Bhagavad Gita now they moved to reading Srimad Bhagavatam. This was one thrilling thing. Later on, that day he gave one more class, brahmachari class and one more very interesting thing came. The talk was about how much brahmachari can take facility and how much they cannot take and what is luxury the question came – labho jiveta yavata. Maharaj said, “We should only accept what minimum is required” and then Maharaj said, “Why do we accept only minimum what we need? The minimum we possess, minimum will be the maintenance.” And he said, “The more you possess, then the more the maintenance and the maintenance time will swallow your Krishna time.” And then he quoted an example. He said, “See, I am wearing sleeveless (half-sleeve) kurta because I'm saving the time that will be taken for washing (the extra piece of cloth)” and he pointed out to the end of the wrist. “If I have this much cloth in the right hand and left hand how much time it goes in washing for that portion of the kurta?” Everybody had a good laugh (laughter). So he was telling, “In this way you should always think how to cut down the things that you possess. Go back and see (in your room) if you have more than one pen, give it away to other devotees. We should not accumulate many things without using them. If you accumulate things without using them, it becomes a crime since you're taking Krishna's thing and possessing and not using it, and also we should keep our possessions to a minimum.” These two interactions are very green in my mind and I remember very freshly.
At the time Maharaj wanted to meet one Krishna das Maharaj who was also Prabhupada disciple, in Pune. Actually, he was in forest, he was an Ayurvedic Vaidya and he was in forest for 10 years. He met Prabhupada and became Prabhupada disciple. But then he was living in Pune and practicing Ayurveda medicine in one room. Maharaj asked me to take him to meet him. That time he told me that we are making a very big temple in Rajkot. It will be a place where many hundreds of devotees can come and learn and practice spiritual life and take care of the good health also and in this way they will not have to have any other anxieties in this world but simply focus on Krishna with one-pointed attention. He was telling these while coming back from the Vaidya. That was many years ago. At that time, I asked Maharaj temple construction started Maharaj? He said, “No, no, no. We have only the land.”
KcKd: That must be before 2000 Prabhu?
RSP: Yes, that must be around 2000 approximately, yeah.
KcKd: Because only in 2002 rajkot temple construction started.
RSP: Yes, it must be between 2000 and 2001. In that range only he must have come.
KcKd: The interesting thing that you said about the ayurvedic hospital that he said, we need to have an ayurvedic hospital in the compound. It is something that Maharaj shared the desire with us also, that we need to have only the natural treatments so in Rajkot also there is one very old Vaidya. Maharaj had a difficult relation with doctors especially allopathy doctors. It is very hard to get authentic approval from him, so this was one of the Vaidya’s (he liked). And there is also an interesting point he would say, the real doctor is one who says I treat, and He cures. Interesting point you said Prabhu (about the Ayurvedic hospital). It looks like Maharaj always had these interesting thoughts in his mind.
RSP: All of us had a common feeling when he came and went, something that tremendously impacted us was that he himself was feeling very deeply sheltered in Krishna and Srimad Bhagavatam. Actually we don't have to worry about anything in the world. We all generally worry about so many things, but after meeting Maharaj, the effect was that we need not take the material problems so seriously. If you study Bhagavatam well and pray to Krishna, whatever has to be done Krishna will do and you just keep focusing on devotional service. Some of the problems will be solved and some of the problems will not be solved, but you need not worry as long as you are in Krishna’s lotus feet, you've already attained perfection. This is the kind of feeling that everybody had, and we wanted to call him again whenever we get an opportunity. But another time he came unfortunately I was not there. Later on, I wanted to find out how to call Maharaj and I had gone for one meeting, ISKCON Managers meeting and somebody told me that Devakinandan prabhu from Singapore is a senior disciple of Maharaj and if you put a word to him, he will arrange Maharaj to come. Then I went and met Devakinandan prabhu then that time I didn't know who's this great soul Devakinandan Prabhu. Then later on I came to know from devotees about that he sings verses from Srimad Bhagavatam like a cuckoo and he's an advocate. Night he sleeps at 10 ‘o clock and morning he rises very early. He manages a very big community in Singapore and later second time when I met Devakinandan prabhu I invited him to Pune.
Devakinandan prabhuji came to Pune. He gave a very impactful Bhagavatam class reciting the Bhagavatam verses very sweetly in very nice meter very nicely and his speaking was very great relish, speaking with confidence and was full of blissful Krishna consciousness. It was a well-attended program and it was Sunday feast, there were around 700 devotees. I asked Devaki prabhu to come to India and after that Devaki prabhu told me whenever I come to India, I come to Rajkot and then when I come to Bombay, I can come here. Probably two three times he came to Pune. Few of the times also whenever he came, he would tell certain interactions and things about Maharaj and what he learned. I asked him a few questions on what the method of Maharaj’s is follow up of his disciples, how he takes care of the disciples? He was telling that Maharaj gives one-one personal time to every disciple and that was a big shock to me. We were also eager to know on how to care for people who are coming to us. He was telling that Maharaj had given that kind of an access at one time, now he is quite elderly and health issues are there some young disciples may not be able to meet, but most disciples can be able to meet. Maharaj also travels and visits personally many places and people can meet him one to one. Maharaj is utterly simple and is easily approachable and accessible. He is very merciful and very forgiving and very encouraging, is always delightful and he gives advice and always great hope in Krishna consciousness to anybody who comes, people will come with a drained heart, but they will get a lot of energy and go back. So Devakinandan prabhu gave a lot of ideas about Maharaj also and from Devakinandan Prabhu’s conduct and behavior and the way he takes classes we got a lot of shakti also when he came. The only thing is we can't get him very often because he told me that when Maharaj was getting very elderly and Maharaj asked him to travel to a few specific places where his disciples are in more density and Maharaj had given him the task of offering care to those devotees also. Because of that Devakinandan prabhu became preoccupied. Probably he came 2 or 3 times. I had a plan of inviting him every year, but things didn't workout that way but later on we met you once and you are available, and you gave a class and we understood, “Oh we have another Devakinandan prabhu here, in India and locally available in Chennai, Bangalore and I am very happy to know that. So, one observation I've made that in this world not all the jivas are fortunate to interact with pure devotees directly. So those people who get the touch of pure devotees like Maharaj in their personal life, that is very very impactful.
Recently I was reading Shuddha bhakti chintamani by HH Sivaram Swami and in that book, he says that the difference between a madhyama adhikari preacher and pure devotee is that the impacts are different when they both preach. Sometimes the madhyama adhikari preacher is focussed on eradicating the lust or anartha that exists in the heart of the practitioner and follows a strict procedure. But a pure devotee focuses on finding the spark of devotion which is already there in the heart of the practitioner.
KcKd: Very interesting!
RSP: He finds a spark of pure devotion in the heart of the follower and that fire burns down all the unwanted anarthas as a corollary benefit which the person may not even bother about so much.
Kalachakra prabhu: Beautiful!
RSP: Because the devotion is so much enhanced in the heart of the practitioner, that his whole focus goes on devotion. Just like what happened to Dhruva Maharaj, when he followed Narada muni, Narada muni just gave him the mantra and told him to focus on Lord Vishnu. The result of focusing on Vishnu was he attained the love of God and as a corollary benefit, his material desires got nullified.
KcKd: Very beautiful point prabhu.
RSP: On the other hand, oftentimes when we preach to new people the focus so much is on anartha nivrti. That person is also struggling with anartha and he is unable to do the nivrtti of the anartha and he feels very much concerned in his spiritual life and he also gets only a semblance of devotion, bhakti abhasa. He is not able to experience the suddha bhakti. Yourself and Devakinandan prabhu are very fortunate because you got the impact of pure devotion straight from Maharaj. Because of that you can become vehicles of Maharaj’s mercy and also reach out to different people and different places and share that mercy. Often times, I find this in ISKCON also, that those who are in direct touch with gurus and those who, while being in touch with spiritual master directly the one who is intelligent enough to focus on this aspect of guru, which is the Vaishnava aspect of the guru, the pure devotion aspect of guru rather than get bogged down by post and position and control and management and everything you know, they are able to capture krishna's, kṛṣṇa-bhakti-rasa-bhāvitā matiḥ.
When one focuses on this, then those disciples become just like what Isvara puri did with Madevendra Puri you know! Because of that Ishvara Puri later on went on to become the guru of the Supreme Personality of Godhead you see. I feel that you both have benefited very immensely by Maharaj’s association.
So one thing Maharaj was telling in Pune, he said that he was working abroad, many years working and he said that I arrived and met Srila Prabhupada at my later age, I wish I met Prabhupada many years ago and I would have been able to spend more time to do the (devotional) activities. This was something that he told me personally after the class. Therefore, I feel that many of you, Maharaj has also taught you that we should study Bhagavatam, you should read it and write it down and gather the pearls just like how you do in Granthraj. That is a very good habit he taught all of you. Besides you and Devakinandan prabhu, I see Vaijayantimala mataji and other people also. This is a very good habit he has not only made you to preserve the riches but he has also taught you the secret of expanding the riches. I also read your second book that you made on Applied Bhagavatam (Srimad Bhagavatam in Practice). I'm currently reading that book and using that book. Very wonderful it is. Beautiful!
RSP: very nice logic and all put together. Nicely point wise. It is very helpful.
Kalachakra prabhu: Thank you prabhu.
RSP: And both the books are very nice. You have brought any more books after that?
KcKd: We had printed one Pearls of Wisdom. Do you know like Srila Prabhupada’ s small books? So, in that we had put small little snippets kind of a thing, in concise form. Even in Pune it is available.
RSP: If it is available in the gift stall, I will take it.
KcKd: Yes, Yes, Yes.
RSP: And I am also observing one good thing prabhu. All of you HH Mahavishnu disciples, you are all keeping nice touch with spiritual sound vibration, and sharing and keeping touch with each other and keeping yourselves so alive. You know what it reminds me of? In Vrindavan, when the Queens of Dwarka arrived in Vrindavan, at that time they observed one thing that in Vrindavan everybody was very sad since they did not have Krishna with them. But one person was very blissfully smiling and very joyfully engaged in service. And that person was Vrinda devi.
RSP: Vrinda devi. And so they asked Vrinda devi, how is it that you are not showing any signs of sorrow or separation from Krishna and you seem to be so jolly? She said, “Don’t you know the secret? Uddhava is in the form of Gulmala latha in Vrindavan.”
KcKd: Sorry Prabhu, Uddhava in the form of?
RSP: Gulma latha. āsām aho caraṇa-reṇu-juṣām ahaṁ syāṁvṛndāvane kim api gulma-latauṣadhīnām
Vrinda devi says, “He is there as gulma-latha. When we were all very sad, Uddhava came to this swarupa form and he spoke Krishna katha continuously for several days and after hearing Krishna katha I feel presence of Krishna even more than when He was personally present here.” After having heard that the Queens said “Now, we also want to hear.” They requested Uddhava to speak also and after Uddhava spoke, they also forgot the absence of Krishna completely. I felt that, that is the same thing happening to all of you in relation to Maharaj. Maharaj has given the rich spiritual content for all of you, due to which even though Maharaj is physically absent, your feelings for Maharaj and connection with Maharaj and spiritual relationship is enriching all your hearts very wonderfully.
KcKd: So nice Prabhu. Really, this is actually inspiring us much more because we don’t know Uddhava’s pastime and all but when advanced devotees like you say this, we are very inspired and enthused prabhu. Thank you.
RSP: Thank you and you are always welcome to Pune prabhu. Pune is like your home. Whenever you come you can stay in temple itself. You can give Bhagavatam class, give Brahmachari class here. Now devotees know you here and they are all very happy by your visit. Keep it in mind. Last time when you gave Brahmachari class I heard it online and we had put it in zoom.
KcKd: Yeah Yeah Yeah!
RSP: Now when the lockdown is over, you please keep coming prabhu.
KcKd: Sure Prabhu. One thing I wanted to ask you; I mean you visited Maharaj in the Bhaktivedanta hospital in his last days is it?
RSP: Actually, when I went, I could not see him personally. Actually, I had gone but I think there was no access that time.
RSP: Actually, he was there, I also wanted to see him. I just wanted to remind him that he came to Pune but personally could not meet him. I knew that he was there. Probably they had kept him for some treatment, I think.
KcKd: Yes, Yes Yes! Probably that time. Maharaj was always very appreciative of yourself, Gauranga Prabhu and Radha Gopinath prabhu and all. And he would always be very appreciative of the way the cultivation is done by all the devotees, especially in Mumbai and Pune.
RSP: Actually, Maharaj has been to Chowpatty also.
KcKd: Yes, yes. He came for a couple of times or so I think. He used to remind us about it, and he was very inspired by the kind of cultivation that happens all over the world from Chowpatty (congregation). So yes prabhu. We all help each other right! We see so many nice things happening within the same family we have different nice things happening. So, we also are very much inspired.
RSP: When I meet you personally sometime here in Pune or in Chennai or wherever. I would like to also learn from you, how you travel and take care of the devotees and what type of training programs you do in a very planned way. Last time when I saw you here in the terrace, you were doing class after that I could not meet you. I would like to know, how, just like Devakinandan prabhu is keeping lot of spirit in Singapore in the community because some of our Pune boys are there in Singapore. They are so happy in Singapore they will not leave Singapore and come to Pune also. (laughter). They are so happy there, a couple of them when they came here last time to Pune, they had so much nectar to share, you know. Although their Krishna Consciousness took birth in Pune here, but they are getting so much of juice and nectar there. This is one of the things that I want to know from you and Devakinandan prabhu, both of you. I have seen you conducting the class, very interesting it was. At the same time how you do it in such a way that you take care of all the disciples of Maharaj in all the different places. Because we made one survey, who are alive in Krishna Consciousness and who are all absconding, you know and even those who are in touch, not all of them can be said to be having life and some people may be coming to temple physically and come to class may be but they do not have fiery spirit. So, I am also very keen to learn from you how you move around and make sure everybody, the connectedness is maintained, and also the inspiration is given, and people are kept alive. Sometimes we get carried away in cultivating new people and we forget the older devotees.
KcKd: Yeah, across the board in ISKCON that challenge is there Prabhu, in cultivating and keeping them in service. Actually Prabhu I was thinking of this question in mind, beyond our discussion about Maharaj’s memories. I was planning to ask you how you are able to establish such a huge congregation in Pune and other places also and especially the college preaching is so challenging in many other places also but you are able to do it so easily you know.
RSP: College preaching has been very good from 1995 up to 2010 or 2012 or so. Lot of people were lining up, in Pune almost 500 brahmachari joined. Almost 250 people we sent out to different temples. But after 2012 or 2013 when mobiles/smart phones came, we found that the boys could not preserve their purity. They became very cunning, diplomatic, got spoiled, polluted, contaminated and Indian boys became almost like western boys and also the free mixing of boys and girls have started in India now very badly and due to the contaminating association even people who even though they become devotees they have completely become weak-minded. One word used in Bhagavatam, our Nimi Maharaj asking, (SB 11.3.17) taranty añjaḥ sthūla-dhiyo – sthūla-dhi means a person with gross animalistic intelligence. They don’t have the subtle, (11.14.26) tathā tathā paśyati vastu sūkṣmaṁ. sūkṣmatva is required for spiritual subjects. The boys don’t have it because they don’t have the adhikara, they have degraded themselves very badly. Not only in one college or two colleges, everywhere it is like that now. Now it has become big challenge for us, so we are also in the lookout on where to get pure boys. We don’t want a very big number, we want only a small number, those who are spiritually inclined who will be able to understand the spiritual subject well. Besides that, one more thing has happened. Life tools type of preaching has come now. Many people are very much attracted to it because it is spirituality without religion.
KcKd: Spiritual but not religious – SBNR.
RSP: They are saying like that. They say that you need not have to much bother about God, but you just be a good human being. So, things have gone in that direction, so therefore, it becomes very difficult for us to preach purely and bring people like the way we were doing in a very big way like before. Now also we are getting in many places, but we are not able to do it the way we were doing it many years ago. Even to make devotees we are not able to recruit the way we were recruiting before.
RSP: In the coming years I have to come up with new strategies.
KcKd: At some point this boiling the milk that Prabhupada said. That is very much required prabhu. Someone told me either you or someone. From some years ago you told that you need to have 500 Bhagavatam circles.
RSP: Correct. That was the reason I distribute Bhagavatam home to home. So once Bhagavatam reaches home we can then start the circles.
KcKd: I got this report that you distributed some 650 or 800 Bhagavatams.
RSP: Correct, yes it was in last marathon.
KcKd: Just wondering that, say even 50% of them, many people buy Bhagavatam but for them to read it through require some personal guidance. That is needed and once they start studying Prabhupada’ s books seriously and start studying Bhagavad Gita and Bhagavatam then they will be self satisfied, and maturity will increase.
RSP: That is the main point, the teacher, the student and the dwell time, these 3 are most important. Somebody to teach the scripture, you are teaching very nice Srimad Bhagavatam and then the student must be available and eager and there must be a dwell time between the two. They take out weekly 2 hours or whatever time and if they do for a long period of time if it happens only then they will be awakened. Otherwise what happens the teacher is available, and the student is not available very busy, then the student is available physically but mentally worried about so many things. Therefore, I told dwell time also. We must dwell on the scriptural message only then the student will be able to awaken and benefit. So sometime when I meet you personally Prabhu, we will sit and personally discuss about this.
KcKd: Yes Prabhu.
RSP: Reaching new people is one thing and then solidifying the old people and systems and plan what you all are doing amongst your HH Mahavishnu Goswami disciples too, because I see that some of the groups are doing very well even after the Guru has left the planet they have been very faithful in listening to Guru’s instructions and that is a success actually.
KcKd: Yes Prabhu.
RSP: Some of the Prabhupada’s disciples they are 50, 55 years they are in the movement and on and on they are going. This is the actual success. Even in the physical Vapu absence of the Guru, the disciples see a strong connection to the Guru.
KcKd: That is very much needed prabhu since at some point in the near future the reality is that we may not have physical association of Prabhupada disciples. How do we manage that? That is the biggest challenge. We will discuss prabhu, but I don’t know how much value I will add but I do have a lot of eagerness to serve in any capacity in whatever insignificant way it may be. Especially when I come to Pune, it is vibrant group you know. I always tell the devotees that this much of vibration and the enthusiasm is not available in most of the places. It is there but definitely here it is a notch higher.
RSP: The Infosys group is very fond of you. So that is why, Pune can be like a home for you. You can always come. When you come, don’t feel shy to send me SMS. So that when you are here, we will call you.
RSP: So nice Prabhu, thank you.
KcKd: Definitely. I should thank you for your time prabhu and I am eagerly waiting to meet you sometime and work with you in whatever capacity. Thank you so much for your inspiration.
RSP: Hyderabad Prabhujis will again write to you.
KcKd: Yes, yes, thank you prabhuji, Hare Krishna
RSP: Hare Krishna.
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