Srila Mahavishnu Goswami Maharaj – Memorial Service at Sydney
22. A lesson we can never forget: At about 3.10 or 3.15 p.m something changed. The breathing which was very erratic, became extremely regular and I had no idea and I thought something is going to happen now. Suddenly the movement of his air became very regular and myself, Vaishnava seva prabhu, Shyam prabhu, Sundar prabhu and the doctor, we all thought that things are changing now. At that point of time, we heard very strong rumbling in his stomach and we could realize at that point, it was the life air,the sound that Bhagavatam describes of life air. We could hear this in his stomach and we could hear literally the life air moving up to his throat and at that point when it moved up to the throat, Maharaj immediately closed his mouth very very tightly. I do not know how to describe it but he just pulled it in and at that point he held our hands very very tightly and he became very strong, very vigorous and he kept looking at the deities and he kept becoming very focused and his eyes became very big. We remember asking, “Maharaj, Maharaj” like that and we kept chanting. We realized at that point of time when Maharaj was hearing and remembering Their Lordships that Maharaj was totally in control of the situation. And when he closed his mouth, the sound of the life air ended and then he opened the mouth and we saw that his tongue is chanting vigorously. We could make out “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.” It was just going on.
At that point, his expression completely changed. He looked as if he was looking at someone. We brought the pictures of the deities. He looked at us on the left side and right side and it is the look that all of us have seen – that loving look of Maharaj- that look he gives us when he is very kind and fatherly. He gave that look to all of us and then he had the look of satisfaction of someone who had ended his race; A man who had arrived at the end of the shore. Very often Maharaj described to me as how nice death must be that at the end of it, you can cross the ocean if Krishna wants and see Him on the other side of the shore. How wonderful that feeling must be when we have ended the journey. Always he said that. When I saw the expression on his face, that description of death as he said came to my heart and then I realized that this is the expression he is giving because this is what he has reached. With his tongue he was chanting; with his eyes, he saw Krishna. And at that point of time, his hands were still with us. He took one very slow breath, another very slow breath, a third extremely slow one, he became fully fully relaxed and then he became very still and in that stillness, that moment, we realized that Maharaj has left us. It was like a man who had just peacefully ended his journey here, a life time of being with Krishna; working hard for Krishna.
Maharaj did not just teach us how to live but he also taught us how to leave. It was an amazing way for someone to leave us and everything we have ever read in Srimad Bhagavatam, Maharaj just symbolized it even at the point of leaving and at that point when he left us, I remember in my heart not feeling pain, but at the moment when he was going to leave, I actually remember saying, “Prabhujis, he is with us. He is still with us but he is concentrating on Krishna. Let us chant” and I remember feeling very happy that my spiritual father was actually showing that this is how we have to connect to Krishna at the last point of our life. And it is a lesson we all cannot forget because Maharaj left in total consciousness, totally conscious with nothing on him except kanti mala, Tulasi maharani, the chanting of the Holy names and hearing of Bhagavatam. This was the perfect way to leave.
23.Bhakti is unconditional: He left of all places in a hospital. He never loved hospitals. But he decided to leave there because he showed us one point. He told me “I am going to leave from this place because I want to show the world that bhakti is unconditional. Time, place and circumstances do not matter and in this hospital particularly, the consciousness is that of devotional service.”
24.Sure Sign of great devotee: After he left, H.H. Kavichandra Swami Maharaj came and later H.H. Bhakti caru Swami Maharaj came. As we were getting Maharaj ready, and propping him up, I realized that there was just the skin at the top of the head that had peeled off and it looked like a wound and I was just touching Maharaj’s forehead up to the point when he left and I do not recall and I thought may be accidentally I had brushed Maharaj’s head or something and I was worried. When some elevated sannyasis who came to give us great encouragement and take darshan of Maharaj when they saw the peeled off skin at the top of Maharaj’s head, they remarked, “Devaki, there are two types of devotees. There are devotees who are pure and they go back to Krishna. Then there is another class of pure devotees who Krishna gives the benediction to decide when they want to go and when they want to go, because of their pure devotional service, the force of their life air does not come out of the mouth.”
Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport to Srimad Bhagavatam 2.2.21, “The life air passes through seven openings, namely two eyes, two nostrils, two ears and one mouth. Generally it passes through the mouth at the time of an ordinary man’s death. But the yogi, as above mentioned, who controls the life air in his own way, generally releases the life air by puncturing the cerebral hole in the head. The yogi therefore blocks up all the above-mentioned seven openings, so that the life air will naturally burst forth through the cerebral hole. This is the sure sign of a great devotee’s leaving the material connection.”
They told me then that this is the evidence that your Guru Maharaj’s life air was pushed out on his conviction of pure devotional service. They all saw that Maharaj was placed in Samadhi and H.H.Bhakti caru Swami Maharaj, H.H.Radhanath Swami Maharaj, H.H.Gopala Krishna Maharaj, all of them gave us so much solace to remember that actually the real test of our loving our spiritual master is not in just feeling great separation from him but acting on that separation to become real instruments in his and in Krishna’s devotional service.
25. Our sincerity and gratefulness to our spiritual master: If we really want to be sincere and grateful to our spiritual master for all that he has done for us, and for all that he continues to do for us, then really we must become useful instruments in spreading Krishna consciousness and in serving devotees. That is what Maharaj would like best from us. I asked Maharaj one question when he had the stroke. “What happens when you leave us? How will I be able to contact you? As it is I am calling you daily, I am taking instructions from you. How to hear your voice again?” Maharaj said, “If you seriously study Bhagavatam, if you chant, if you obey every instruction that I have given you and if you try your best, then after I leave, I guarantee you that I will be closer to you than when I am right now. I will be with you the moment you want something to do with devotional service.” When we took out Maharaj’s diaries, in one diary Maharaj has written a sentence at 5.30 a.m. in Singapore in 1993. “A disciple’s love for his spiritual master is actually to be seen, in the level of his indebtedness to his spiritual master. And the spiritual master never leaves his disciple.” So I live with the conviction, as Srila Prabhupada always told us that finally vani is infinitely more important than vapu. But having said that, how can we forget the loving way in which Maharaj took care of all of us. That will always carry us through our devotional service.
26. No formalities in relationship: We have to follow the instructions of the spiritual master and continue to perform our devotional service and this cannot be done alone. We can only do it in the loving association of devotees. I use the word devotees and not disciples because Maharaj would not like it if I use the word disciples. Maharaj always told everyone that our relationship has no formalities. “It is just like father and son or grandfather and grandson. Anytime you want to talk to me, you please pick up the phone.” No one was exempt from calling Maharaj on the phone. Sometimes devotees say, “You mean your Guru Maharaj does not have a personal secretary – someone who will pass on the message?” Maharaj was his own personal secretary and would get angry if you do not call. For devotees who would not call for a week, Maharaj would say, “Why you did not call me for so long? I was waiting for your call.” And for those who were in difficulty, he would call them and ask them how they were. He did not ask them just spiritual questions. But he would ask them how is your family doing, how is your job, health etc.
It didn’t matter whose disciples the devotees were. Infact our normal complaint was Maharaj spent more time with disciples of other Maharaj than his own. Whenever we asked Maharaj he said, “That is because, they are much much more qualified than what you are(laughter). Thats why after one hour of sitting with you, I have to take some association of other disciples and it makes me feel very happy.” One of the sannyasis was giving initiation to a devotee and that time HH Mahavishnu Goswami Maharaj was with him and they were joking and talking with each other. After initiation cermony that Maharaj said to his disciple,”Now if you have any problems, turn to Mahavishnu Goswami Maharaj.” Guru Maharaj replied to him jokingly- “Maharaj, you have given him initiation, you have taken the deeksha and the Lakshmi and now I have to take his problems!(laughter)” and that Maharaj replied, “You might take his problems. But end of the day, I am responsible for him. So please help me lighten the load.(laughter)”. This was the loving exchange, Guru Maharaj had with many Vaishnavas.
If there was a problem in marriage, the temple president would send them to Maharaj first. In London, Maharaj would take his three wheel vehicle, drive up to their place and spend the whole day with them and come back. Within two weeks the devotees would come back to temple all fine. When Maharaj had the stroke, so many devotees came to see him and everyone who came to see him told me, “You may not know me but you know why we are here? We are here as husband and wife because of him. He saved our marriage.” Maharaj had only two things to tell them and this saved them always. He said, “If you want to fight with each other, you do thing. You go into separate rooms and scream at each other (laughter). Just scream and shout all you want but not in the presence of each other. If you are very angry, please go into the room, see Krishna and please chant. After ten minutes you come out and you will forget why you were fighting in the first place (laughter).” Another point he always said is, “Always remember that getting married and thinking that marriage is happiness is a contradiction in terms. It does not work. If you accept it, your marriage is happy. If you do not accept it, you are in trouble” and of course the famous point Maharaj said, “Before wedding there is engagement ring, after that there is nice wedding ring but after two or three weeks there is suffering.”(laughter) When he said all these things to these devotee couples, and counseled them, after a few moments they would say, “Alright! This is very nice” and they accepted Maharaj as their father.
Finally H.G. Devakinandan prabuji heartily thanked H.G. Viraja Krishna prabuji and H.G.Taral vilochana prabhuji for having organized such a wonderful program to remember a wonderful devotee. The final word which Devaki prabhuji spoke and we should always remember is that “the real test when the spiritual master leaves is not only at the point when he has left but to imbibe the instructions in our heart as if it is the first day we met him, as if it was the day we took initiation from him and keep that fire of devotional service and enthusiasm alive in our hearts and this can be done only in the loving association and cooperative spirit amongst the devotees.”
Thank you very much for the opportunity to share this nectarean offering of Devaki prabhuji.
H.D.G. Mahavishnu Goswami Maharaj Gurudev ki Jai! H D G Srila Prabhupada ki Jai!
Thank you very much.
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva,
Vaijayanti Mala devi dasi,