Srila Mahavishnu Goswami Maharaj – Memorial Service at Sydney
15. A hard worker: Godavari River was very dear to Maharaj. He told us, when he was 16, he would swim everyday across the river. Maharaj was a very strong swimmer. He said that he would swim across, tie up his clothes, put them on his head and do freestyle. He would go across to study and swim back and give tuitions in the night. After swimming back and giving tuitions in the night, next morning he had to go to work. Maharaj worked very hard. If you spoke to those who knew him in Nasik, they said that he was the oldest in the family. There were 15 brothers and sisters. Maharaj was eldest. He was the eldest boy. He has a sister older to him. Maharaj was 91 when he left and his sister is 96. She still walks without a stick and she had come for Maharaj’s samadhi. Maharaj had to take care of all their marriages. All sisters’ marriages he had to take care of and by the time his eldest daughter was getting married, he was finding at the same time, a groom for his youngest sister. He had to work very hard day and night for the money. Maharaj said, “Every business I started, somehow or the other, there were losses. And every time I started, I had to stop, but I never gave up because Krishna was always supporting me.” So Maharaj worked hard all his life. And that is why even when he became old, he could not stop working, could not stop moving. In the last three months also, he was actively preaching.
16. Keeping the fire of Brahmacarya: I asked Maharaj, “How did you find time to study Bhagavad Gita and Bhagavatam all the time” and Maharaj said, “Whenever there was no customer, I was with Bhagavad Gita and whenever there was customer, I spoke about Bhagavad Gita and when I finished my work, and went back, I took care of the children. When they went to sleep, I had my own corner in my house and I would read Bhagavad Gita” and that was always his advice to all of us grhasthas. He said, “Wherever you may live, you must have that one corner where you are alone with scriptures.” When I got married, he told me, “Devaki, always in your heart keep the fire of brahmacarya always fired up. Some corner of your heart, you must remain brahmacari and how do you remain brahmacari ? On the strength of Bhagavatam. The fire must be there. Do not, after becoming grhastha, give 101 excuses that “because of family and friends and all I cannot attend temple programs and I cannot do seva.” Then your fire goes.”
17. Completely free from all fears: In Nasik, because there was no proper medication, when a lot of devotees were there, he began to get terrible asthmatic attacks and the asthma attack became so bad that he could not breathe. We had to bring him to the hospital and we thought that the end may be near. The hospital was terrible. It looked like a factory. It was on the third floor, and there was no lift. We had to carry Maharaj to the third floor and when we brought him into the room, Maharaj took one look at the room and he said that his asthma is finished. He said, “The room is so dirty that I am feeling better.” Immediately Maharaj told me to take out a verse from the fifth chapter of Bhagavad Gita and he took out the purport in that verse and immediately without anyone recognizing what was happening, he spoke for half an hour on Bhagavad Gita, doctors seated, nurses included, patients coming in and sitting down. Once he had an audience, he started speaking and once he finished he said that we should just discharge ourselves from the hospital. He said, “Let us go. I am feeling good now. If this is the hospital, I am just better off leaving.”
Even then when we went for the X-rays, all the doctors told us that his lung infection was very bad. It could either be TB and there was also extra swelling of nodules and they said it could be cancer. They were not sure of the diagnosis. They wanted more results coming and on that day, Maharaj told me, Vaishnava seva prabhu and Sundar prabhu that “Now the time is coming. I do not want any medication. Let me just read Bhagavatam. Let me just be with Krishna.”
We brought him back to Bhaktivedanta hospital and there the doctor’s diagnosis was that his oxygen saturation was becoming very low, meaning to say in layman’s terms, he would not be able to hold oxygen and Dr. Shyamlal prabhu told me that the day will come, it could be two years, could be three months, or one day, where he would just gasp for breath and he would not be able to retain it any more. Then he would leave. We came up to Maharaj and we thought, it is our duty to explain this to Maharaj. Before I could open my mouth, Maharaj told, “Devaki, I have purchased the ticket for the train. I am now getting on the platform and I am just waiting for the train. When the train comes son, I will leave. I am just waiting because I have got my ticket.” Then Maharaj told me,”I know exactly what is happening to me. You don’t have to tell me anything.”
18. Merciful to all, Merciless to himself: When Maharaj came back to Bhaktivedanta hospital in Mumbai, he said, “I want to see everyone.” That is when we had the exodus of devotees coming and Maharaj at that time was so much merciful. He saw everyone and after seeing each one of them, he needed 15–20 minutes to recover his breathing. But everyone who came to see him, kept telling me, “Are you sure this is an emergency Prabhu? You told us that it is an emergency and everyone should come.” Maharaj was speaking and laughing with everyone but they never saw what happened after they left. How much struggle he had just to get back his breath, prop himself up and see the next batch of devotees. This is how he kept going. It came to a point where pain killers were needed because the doctors said, “If we do not give the pain killers, the pain is unbearable. Maharaj is enduring it.”
19. Krishna is ready; so I am ready: Every night he could not sleep. One night when I came back again to the hospital, Maharaj was lying down, his chaadar was all the way up, and he looked extremely extremely peaceful; his eyes were closed. He did not see me. I said, “Maharaj, I am Devakinandan das here. How are you?” Maharaj said, “Devaki, I am ready.” He said this in a very sharp and shrill voice. I said, “Alright Maharaj. What are you ready for?” He said, “I am ready to leave.” I said, “Maharaj, you have said this before. That is why you are not going to leave.” He said, “He is ready.” So then I stopped and asked Maharaj, “Who is ready?” Maharaj said, “Krishna is ready.” I said, “Maharaj, is Krishna ready for you to be ready?” Maharaj said, “He is ready. Therefore I am ready.” Then he never talked for the whole night. He just kept chanting. In the last few days, Maharaj indicated to Vaishnava Seva Prabhuji to get devotees to sing his favourite bhajans, like “bhajahu re mana”. He started asking us to sing all the kirtans and bhajans that he loved in the early years, when he went to Fiji, when he went to Australia and all the time he had the strength and the breath to sing all these kirtans. He got everyone to sing. For the whole night he made us sing. He just kept telling us to sing.
Some devotees came and saw Maharaj and told Maharaj we will come and see in two weeks time and Maharaj said, “Now you will never see me again.” My wife, Radhika, was supposed to go to Australia to study in January for a course in her teaching and that morning in Nasik she came to see Maharaj and said, “Maharaj, I feel I should not go” and Maharaj said, “The Supersoul is always right. Don’t go now in January.” I did not realize but today I know that if she had gone in January, then I could not travel up and down and I would not have been able to serve Maharaj in the last few days and that he gave me a chance to do so.
20. Investing his thinking, feeling and willing in Krishna: On the 24th January 2010, in the night, Vaishnava seva prabhu called me and told me, “Things don’t look very good now and Maharaj is calling for you many times.” I tried to arrange for my flight as soon as I could. I spoke to Maharaj in the phone and said that I am coming and just give me a few hours now. He kept saying “hm..hm..hm…” In the last three or four days, Maharaj stopped speaking. We thought he could not speak because he was sick. But later, H.H Bhakti Caru Maharaj instructed us that “Your Guru Maharaj is not speaking because he has withdrawn his senses. Now he is withdrawing them from external consciousness and he is fully fixed now in Krishna.” So at that point of time, whenever we chanted verses, we would be chanting Srimad Bhagavatam for hours and hours and suddenly when a verse came that he liked, at that point, where we thought he was completely asleep, he would just get up immediately and we will be shocked. We would chant verse half way and at the point where we are starting, he would end it for us and after ending the verse, he would say 2 or 3 lines with his eyes still closed that this is nice verse, it means this, the synonym for this word is nice, and this point in the purport is very significant. It would rattle off like automatic and then he would finish and become silent and we would think what was all that about! Then we realized that Maharaj was not sleeping but he had withdrawn his consciousness. He was fully aware of his surroundings.
21. Always conscious of protecting his spiritual children: On January 25th, in the morning, I took the plane and I reached there. When I reached Mumbai, I found that I had missed calls on my phone. Vaishnava seva prabhu had called Radhika and asked where I was. I called Vaishnava seva prabhu from the Mumbai airport and he said that Maharaj is asking for me. I said that I have just landed and in a few minutes I will be there. Normally the traffic to Mira road temple is very bad but on that day, Krishna cleared everything. I reached there to the third floor and I saw devotees chanting. When I went inside and I saw Maharaj, I thought I have never seen him this way because this time it was different. This time, the deities pictures were all placed, Tulasi Maharani was near him, he had a garland on him. He had the remnants of the IV still there but he was shoving it away. We asked Maharaj whether he wanted it to be taken out and Maharaj nodded ‘yes’. I said “Maharaj, I am Devaki here.” He held my hand. It was not like I was holding the hand. But he was holding my hand. It was the comfort of someone holding your hand. You know there is a difference. Even at that time, when I sensed that the difficulty and the pain was too much, still he was conscious of protecting us. Dr. Shyamlal prabhu said, “Maharaj, I know the pain is unbearable now. Can I give you some medication?” Maharaj just shook his head with ‘no’. We wanted to put the nebulizer for him. Once we put it, he pushed it aside. Twice we put it, he pushed it aside and he was gasping for air. So I asked “Maharaj, can I sing?” He nodded with an ‘yes’. So we chanted from 2 o’clock and from 3 o’clock there was great struggle in the movement. He kept moving and moving. But his eyes were very conscious. He kept looking at all of us with his loving glances on each side and he kept looking at the deities.
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,