Srila Mahavishnu Goswami Maharaj – Memorial Service at Sydney
In Srimad Bhagavatam 3.13.4, Sri vidura speaks the following verse
shrutasya pumsaam sucira-shramasya
nanv anjasaa suribhir idito ’rthah
paadaaaravindam hrdayeshu yeshaam
“Persons who hear from a spiritual master with great labor and for a long time must hear from the mouths of pure devotees about the character and activities of pure devotees. Pure devotees always think within their hearts of the lotus feet of the Personality of Godhead, who awards His devotees liberation.”
Srila Prabhupada mentions in his purport that the transcendental students must not only hear about the activities of the Lord, but they must also hear about the transcendental qualities of the devotees who are constantly thinking of the lotus feet of the Lord within their hearts. A pure devotee of the Lord cannot be separated from the lotus feet of the Lord for even a moment. Such pure devotees of the Lord are as glorious as the Lord; they are, in fact, recommended by the Lord as more worshipable then He Himself. Worship of the devotee is more potent than worship of the Lord. It is therefore the duty of the transcendental students to hear of pure devotees, as explained by similar devotees of the Lord, because one cannot explain about the Lord or His devotee unless one happens to be a pure devotee himself.
Thus we understand the paramount importance of hearing the glories of the pure devotees of the Lord and by hearing about their qualities and activities, we understand the way of the vaishnava behaviour and by trying to follow in their footsteps, our life attains perfection. The memorial service for our beloved spiritual master H.H.Mahavishnu Goswami Maharaj, was held in Sydney on 24th April 2010. In that wonderful program, our beloved god brother H.G Devakinandan prabhuji from Singapore, the most beloved disciple of our Guru maharaj gave a wonderful speech glorifying Maharaj. As described by H.G.Viraja Krishna prabhuji, H.G Devakinandan prabhu is one hundred percent dedicated and obedient to our beloved Maharaj without any other ulterior motives and thus hearing about Maharaj from Devaki prabhu has the great effect of purifying us. I am trying to post the transcription of some of the points spoken by Devaki prabhu about Maharaj for the pleasure of everyone.
1. Friendly and loving dealings : Maharaj had loving dealings with one and all and very often we found that Maharaj would be so friendly that if he were to sit in an autorickshaw in Dwaraka, after a while, Maharaj would just know who the driver was, where he came from, how many children he had and after everything, Maharaj would always bless him and request him to chant and read. This was his mood.
2. Strict and expert dealings: Maharaj, for those who had worked with him, he was very kind and loving but when it came to preaching or building temples he could be quite merciless. He had the same attitude that we read Srila Prabhupada had about building temples. Very strict on time. Very strict on Lakshmi. Not a cent should be spent more and not a cent should be spent less. Every time we presented the budget to Maharaj, and how much we would spend, myself and H.G Vaishnava seva prabhu would be sweating for half an hour making sure we had all the figures before him and then from Rajkot, we will call him in Nasik. We would give him 10 or12 breakdowns of amounts and he would listen to all of them and then put down the phone saying, “Very good, very good.” We would be relieved. Within the next ten minutes, Maharaj would call back and say, “Devaki, the sixth amount, why is it so much? Something is wrong somewhere”. Then we would really sweat. I will say, “Maharaj, please give me 5 minutes” and put the phone down. Then I would ask Vaishnava seva prabhu to pick up the phone and talk to Maharaj. Maharaj had such an amazing memory. Being a lawyer, I do not know why I had to deal with Lakshmi. Maharaj would say, “As far as you are so bad with Lakshmi, that is your qualification. If you are any smarter, you would take the money. I know how bad you are with figures”. So Maharaj was always trying to keep us in balance. He was very pucca with whatever he did. Very expert.
3. Very conscious of time : The day we finished the Dwaraka temple construction and we had the opening ceremony, myself, HG Vaishnava seva prabhuji, and devotees who had worked with Maharaj we thought we will take a week off, take some time to chant our rounds, be with Maharaj and spend time. That night when everyone had left, Maharaj said, “Tomorrow we go to Rajkot”. He was not going to sit back on his laurels. He immediately made the next move. He was very conscious of his time. He kept saying “my time is coming anytime. It could end any time. I am living on borrowed time. Please do not waste the time” and the next day after he finished building Dwaraka temple, he left for Rajkot. He never sat on his laurels. He never said, “This is very nice. Let me take a break.” Immediately he got us to go to Rajkot.
4. Faith in Srimad Bhagavatam : In Rajkot, the gate opens and then there is land and there is no one there and we asked Maharaj what to do? Maharaj said, “Very simple. You just put a mat there. Take your kartals and just chant the Hare Krishna mahamantra. Then you take your Bhagavatam and start chanting Kunti maharani’s prayers and Bhishmadeva’s prayers. After that you just serve some prasadam to whoever is there guarding the land and then you just come back”, and this we did for almost every two weeks he sent us there. When we asked Maharaj should we move around and meet some people, Maharaj said, “Nothing to do. You sit there and read Bhagavatam and chant Bhagavad gita. In due course of time, everything will come if Krishna wants.”
5. Always abiding by Krishna’s plans: When Maharaj came to Dwaraka, again he came without a plan. He had no plans. Maharaj is very famous for not making plans, or making plans and changing them at least 10 times in one day. Sometimes 3 times in one hour and we will be completely perplexed because he would keep changing, changing and changing and all of us had to change and change and change. Once when I asked Maharaj, “Maharaj, why do you change your plans?” He said, “Devaki, I am trying to hear the inner voice of Krishna. When Krishna changes His plans, I have to change my plan. So don’t blame me. Blame Krishna.” (laughter)
6.Unparalleled austerity and unmotivated devotion: When we came to Dwaraka, there was nothing there. Maharaj did not go to any of the ashramas to stay. He said we will just stay in the outskirts. It was just open grassland. Maharaj said, “You just set up a tent, put some sheet over and we will sleep there.” We were completely flabbergasted. Because when you travel with sannyasis, the idea in our rascal mind is, at least there must be some benefit somewhere in terms of material comfort, but Maharaj did not think of that. I said, “Maharaj, there is no toilet, nothing.” Maharaj said, “You go to the ashram, take bath and come back here.” That was it. There was nothing else to do. Dina prabhu and Taral prabhu were cooking outside in the open air. Maharaj, every morning, after taking bath, he would sit there and we would read Srimad Bhagavatam. We told, “Maharaj, may be we should move around?”. Maharaj said, “No moving around. We sit here and do Bhagavatam first. Bhagavatam will attract everything to come. Krishna is Dwarakadish. Why won’t He like to hear Bhagavatam? Let us just glorify Bhagavatam and become satisfied.” So we tried to be satisfied. It was very difficult with thorny bushes and grass and the heat of the sun. But Maharaj never stopped. There is a famous picture of Maharaj lying down and a umbrella being held by one of the brahmacaris and that was his afternoon nap. He will just sleep on the ground and his sannyas top cloth was his pillow. For two or three weeks, he did that non-stop, unmotivated and on the fourth week, one man came to see us and he said, “You know Maharaj, my mother had a trust. In that trust, we have a ten room guest house and now that my mother has left, she wanted me to give it to some charity. I heard the news that there is a sadhu in Dwaraka who is just sitting down and reading Bhagavatam and does not want anything. So I thought you should be the right person; because you do not want anything, you should get everything.” When we heard that, we thought it is amazing because this is exactly what Maharaj told us two weeks back to do. He had so much faith in Bhagavatam and Krishna who will build the temple. It is not anything else; least of all it is Lakshmi. Money will never build temples. It is devotion that will build temple.
7.Unique service: When Maharaj was in London in the earlier days, Maharaj told me that he was useless in the temple. Maharaj said, “I was more than fifty years old. My legs could hardly balance because I had a very bad back and I could not do washing because after a while, I would slip and fall. I could not go up and down and do book distribution because I could not balance myself. My walking was not good. I could not do Deity worship because of balancing problem also. After a while, the Pujari said, “You better not do the aarati because the aarati plate may fall also.” So the temple president was asking, “What are you going to do? You can’t do anything.” Maharaj said, “I can do one thing, if you want. I can sit and study Bhagavatam” and the Temple President said, “No one had ever told me this! I never thought that there is a service like that which you can do here.” So he said, “You sit in one corner and you study Bhagavatam.” Maharaj sat under a pillar in Soho street temple and it became famous as Mahavishnu Goswami pillar and today if you ask any of Srila Prabhupada’s disciple there who knew Maharaj, then they would point that this is Mahavishnu Goswami pillar. This way he sat for 8 years, not speaking but studying and studying and studying.
Maharaj said, “I used to be surprised why when people would walk by and see me, they would bow to me.” Maharaj asked, “Why you are bowing to me?” They said, “We are bowing because we can’t do what you are doing. We can do all the seva but we can’t sit and read Bhagavatam. So we bow to Bhagavatam and to you.”
8.Touching the hearts by pure preaching: So the day came, when just by the providential arrangement of the Lord, there was no one to give the class and at that time the temple president looked around and said, “Yes. Mahavishnu das vanachari. He is there. He is reading. Let us just put him on vyaasaasana and fill up the gap.” But on that day, everything changed. Because, the moment the devotees heard Maharaj, they thought that he should become the permanent speaker in Soho Street temple and after a while, the news spread to Bhaktivedanta Manor and from Bhaktivedanta Manor, two devotees from Belgium came and asked whether Maharaj can come to Belgium to speak and Maharaj started speaking in Belgium and then Holland and then he had preaching tours in Europe and after a while, after he took sannyas, he was giving classes in Mayapur. One day, one devotee from Singapore, HG Dinanukampan prabhu, he met Maharaj when Maharaj was giving sanskrit claases and Maharaj started the class by saying that “I am here to share with you devotional service. Do not think you are learning Sanskrit.” Then Dina prabhu called us in Singapore and said that there is a very unique sannyasi and it is a good thing to find out whether we can arrange to bring him to Singapore and we all thought it is very exciting. In Singapore, the devotees bought him the first world ticket and thus Maharaj started in Singapore.
Krishna willing, the other transcendental qualities of Maharaj which just captivate all our hearts, so lovingly remembered and described by Devakinandan prabhu, shall be posted in the ensuing mail.
Thank you very much.
Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev,
Vaijayanti mala devi dasi,