Srila Mahavishnu Goswami Maharaj – Memorial Service at Sydney
9. Personal attention to everyone: The first time I met Maharaj was when Maharaj came to Singapore and I introduced myself and he asked me what is my name, who am I, who is my family, how many brothers and sisters I had and what my parents were doing. Nobody had asked me these questions before when I was in the temple for nine years. I was in the temple from 1983 and all I did in the temple was either wash the toilets or wash the pots and whenever I wanted to sit down and read Bhagavad gita, all the temple president would say was that I was not ready for it. He would say, “Go back and wash the pots.” The temple president never knew where I came from, who I was. Sometimes he would forget my name also. And for the first time Maharaj asked me what is my name and at the end of it, he told me to open the catursloki Bhagavad Gita 10.8. He explained the four verses to me in just five minutes and I found that no one had explained to me Bhagavad gita this way. At that moment I thought this is the person to whom I must surrender my life. It was a spark and Maharaj encouraged me and today somehow by his mercy, I am very fortunate to have the association of Maharaj and all the wonderful devotees.
10. Always seeing the good everywhere: I remember one time, in a very famous lecture, one devotee stood up and said, “Maharaj, I have been in ISKCON for 20 years and I see so much of trouble in ISKCON. How can you continue to stay in ISKCON? You are very old and you have been in ISKCON for thirty years.” Maharaj said, “I have been in ISKCON for thirty years but not even one day I have seen a single complaint in ISKCON and I have not seen a single problem in ISKCON. The problem is with our eyes.” When he said that, I realized that we all wear different hats but ultimately what is important is whether we are following the instructions of Srila Prabhupada and Maharaj showed us that.
11. Renowned for his sadhana: Maharaj was renowned for his sadhana. In Dwaraka, he would wake up at 1.30 or 2 o’ clock in the morning daily. When he was shaving, he would finish reciting half of Bhagavad gita and by the time he finished his bath, the other half was on the way. He was so fast with chanting. Sometimes I would be just putting my ear to the bathroom door, trying to catch up with the verses Maharaj was chanting. By the time he was ready to start chanting, by 2.30 or 2.45 he would have finished all the important verses. By Mangala arati, he made sure, he finished his rounds. He always told me to try to finish 16 rounds before Mangala arati so that when you stand up for Mangala arati you won’t fall asleep. Otherwise when you wake up for Mangla arati, you are half asleep. By the time you start chanting your rounds, you are fully asleep. So it is better to wake up in the morning. I asked Maharaj how to wake up in the morning. He said, “the problem is we are thinking we are waking ourselves but the Supersoul wakes us up. If the Supersoul knows that we want to wake up and we sincerely pray to Supersoul, why will He not wake us up for the morning Mangala arati?”
12. Uninterrupted devotion in all conditions: When Maharaj had the stroke in the year 2000, he was actually in London and it was the exact stroke that H.H. Jayapataka Swami Maharaj had recently. The doctors gave 24 -72 hours maximum and said that this is the most important time. If he does not come out of it, then he would be a vegetable or he will leave and within 48 hours when I flew in, I was not sure whether Maharaj will be there or he would not be there. But the moment I rushed up to the hospital, I found that Maharaj had put both the hands up and he was saying “Haribol!” and that was the hand that was supposed to be paralyzed and he couldn’t wait to come out of the hospital. He fought with all the doctors. I remember one night, he was told by one Indian lady doctor, who was very young that, “You must take this tablet. If you do not take it, the chances of a stroke coming or clot coming are going to be there!” I think that tablet was for thinning the blood. But Maharaj told her, “It is not the medicines that save us. It is Srila Prabhupada and Krishna. Now if you want, you take the medicine. You may need it for your brains!” She said, “You have to take it because, if you do not take it, then you will not be alive in the morning.” Maharaj said, “If I am not alive in the morning, it is because you said this to me. You doctors are supposed to encourage us to live but you are telling us we are going to die. What is the point of being in a hospital!” This lady doctor came to me very shaken and said, “Is he your grandfather?”. I said, “Yes. He is my grandfather.” She said, “Would you do me a favor? Would you sign an indemnity form absolving the hospital because we are very sure that in the next 10 to 12 hours, something is going to happen.” I said, “Okay. I will sign it.” I told Maharaj about this. Maharaj just asked me to keep quiet and go to take rest.
I was literally under the bed because there was no other place and at around 3.30 or 4.00 in the morning, Maharaj started banging the bed. I woke up and asked Maharaj what is it? He said, “Devaki, what time is it?” I said it is 4 o’ clock. Maharaj said, “Let us do Mangala arati now.” I said, “Maharaj, you are supposed to have a stroke. May be you can take a break.” Maharaj said, “If you want, you take a break. Don’t tell me that I want to take a break. If you are tired, say that you are tired. Don’t tell me that I am tired!” So myself and Amogha prabhu were there and we started doing Mangala arati. After Mangala arati, Maharaj chanted. Maharaj could not use his hand very well. So he was using other hand to chant and at the end of the chanting, the lady doctor came again and Maharaj said, “Daughter, I am waiting for you to come. I am alive. You see, I am alive. You may be whatever, but always remember not to forget your culture. Don’t forget that your culture is Krishna consciousness. Those who are not afraid to die, they don’t die. But those who are afraid to die, they are the ones to die first. I am very strong. See, my hands and legs are very good” (laughter). The lady doctor was bewildered and said that it was time for her to leave. While leaving she told me, “You have one hell of a grandfather. I never had a grandfather or patient like that!”(laughter). Maharaj’s dedication to devotional service never stopped in any condition of life. Any condition of life, it never stopped.
13. A Loving father: Once I fell down two floors in Singapore and broke my hand badly. I fractured my ribs and I was in the hospital. My wife called Maharaj and told him that I am in the hospital and Maharaj said that he will pray for me. The next day I called Maharaj. It was impossible for me to chant with my right hand as it was broken. I told Maharaj about this and I was feeling very bad about it. Maharaj said, “You just chant what you can. You chant two or three rounds and it is okay, my son. Don’t worry about it.” Five minues later I called HG Vaishnava seva prabhu about some temple matter and asked him where is Maharaj. He said, “Maharaj has gone downstairs to the temple room because he told me that he is going to chant your rounds for you.” Maharaj has said, “Because Devaki cannot chant his rounds, so I am going to chant his rounds so that he can keep his vows.” When I heard this that day, I just chanted and I did not care about the pain because it was too much for me to think that this is the love Maharaj had. This was not only for me but I think for everyone of you, whoever have experienced this moment of loving exchange, when you felt really he was just like your father or sometimes more than what you would imagine your father to ask and these are the same things that Maharaj would ask.
To children, Maharaj was always loving. That is why he started Prahlad School. He was always dedicated to building up a future for children in Krishna consciousness. If you ask Maharaj’s son Shyam prabhu, how Maharaj brought up his children, he said, “My biggest regret is till today, I do not understand why my father took sannyas, because he was the most loving father we ever had. He was there in every stage of our lives. We were never in want of anything and he left his house when his thaali (plate) was full. At the height of everything being perfect, when his wife was serving him nicely, when the children were doing very nicely, when he was going for all the programs, when everything was very smooth, he left. This is what we could not understand.” Years later, when Maharaj had stroke and when his son came to see him, after that day, Shyam prabhu told me, “Now I understand why he took sannyas. Because he had so much to give. It was not enough for us to hold his love within just the confines of the family. He had so much to give. So much love and so much care and so much dedication to Srila Prabhupada.” Maharaj told once, “I left and took sannyas because I knew that everything was alright in the house. If I were to move at a time when everything was good, then I have to depend more on Krishna and more on Srila Prabhupada.” So this was the mood that Maharaj had.
14. Krishna elixir – the only medicine and cure: Towards the end, in the last three or four months of his time in the world, Maharaj gave us many many ideas that the time was coming. On 17th November,2009, Maharaj gave me a call and told me, “Devaki, now the time is coming.” I said, “Why Maharaj?” He said, “I have lost appetite. The day I lose appetite in having prasadam, that day the fire is going. Once our appetite is going, then it is time to wind up the body.” Then Maharaj also told me that “This time I am not picking up.” I said, “Maharaj you always pick up. You tell us time is over but you pick up.” He said, “But this time it is not happening. Let us do more devotional service.” In November his health deteriorated in Rajkot. By 17th December, one month later, we finally brought him to Bombay and in Bombay he was in the Juhu temple where the doctor said that he must take a blood test. Maharaj said, “No. I don’t want blood test. I just want to be with Krishna.”
Then we suggested and requested Maharaj to come to Bhaktivedanta hospital where devotees are there. So he went there. When he was there, he found the atmosphere so congenial to devotional service. All the devotees were serving with so much love and so much care. Doctors were devotees first and doctors next. Maharaj said, “this is nice place for me and I would just continue to be here.” So he stayed on long time in Bhaktivedanta hospital but he refused medication. After a while, the doctors kept telling me, “I know this is all nice. But you know, Maharaj has to take something. Otherwise he is in a hospital and there must be some treatment.” So the CEO of the hospital HG Madhavananda prabhu came to see Maharaj and said, “Maharaj, you have to take some medicine.” Maharaj said, “You don’t understand. I am already taking medicine. I am taking your association and that is medicine. How long can the medicines make me last? May be a month more or two months more but this association is best. I have not come here to be medicated by western medicines; I have come here for your consciousness.”
In that way all the devotees became so enlivened because daily in typical Maharaj fashion, wherever he was, Bhagavatam was there and kirtan was there. He would take daily walks. He went to meet all the patients and the patients became very much enlivened.When we told them that Maharaj was wardened there, they could not believe and said, “You mean, he is a patient also?” Maharaj told one particular doctor, “Any one who treats me, he ends up in the hospital. Just be careful of this point.” (laughter) True enough, two days into the treatment, this doctor sprained his neck so badly. He banged into a cabinet in his own house and his neck was fractured. (laughter) Maharaj was in Room 6. The doctor was in Room 5 and that morning I told Maharaj that the doctor is next door. Maharaj said, “Let’s go and visit him.” Maharaj told the doctor, “Doctor, who is visiting who?” (laughter). All this time his health was deteriorating. It was just going down…down…down… Like we are all laughing now, we were all laughing then also. But we never realized that he knew that time was coming. Then Maharaj had a desire to go to Nasik because that was where he grew up.
Krishna willing, the transcription of this offering shall be continued in the ensuing mail.
Thank you very much.
Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev,
Vaijayanti mala devi dasi,