Sunday 2nd August, 2009
Evening Temple Program (Potomac, MD)
It was, once again, our great fortune to have the association of our Maharaja at Washington, DC. We were eagerly awaiting his arrival at the temple after his long (and tiresome journey or so I thought) from LA. As usual, Maharaja arrived with no fanfare, straight from the airport walking amidst the devotees, who were enjoying the melodious kirtan. He looked at the clock and without any delay began to take us through a pictorial yet transcendental journey through the spiritual planets to Goloka Vrndavana, showing no tinge of tiredness or uneasiness on his face. He spoke on Chapter 9: Bhagavad Gita "The Most Confidential Knowledge". After getting a sense of the diverse audience in the temple, he grabbed their attention very quickly with some rhetorical questions about the topic. Given the time limitation, Maharaja went on to discuss further about the two very important qualifications for receiving the most confidential knowledge that Krishna delivered to Arjuna – the non-envious mentality towards Krishna and faith in Krishna. As Arjuna was a close friend of Krishna he was naturally qualified to receive this knowledge. Maharaja also shared that one needs to cultivate faith by being in the association of devotees, hearing from them very respectfully and serving them with humility. Finally, Maharaja added how hearing and chanting should be done in the right consciousness without offenses. After the lecture, Maharaja, who was in good spirits stayed on to distribute temple prasadam to devotees showering his mercy to everyone who liked to have his association.
Monday 3rd August, 2009
Morning SB class
The morning of the next day, Maharaja led the mangala arati and it was so very wonderful to be in the association of all the devotees enthusiastically offering their prayers to Their merciful Lordships Nimai & Nitai. After an hour's break for japa, Maharaja gave a discourse on how to develop a spiritual conception of life. Maharaja spoke with an intense feeling that the influence of kali is so strong that for spiritual transformation to happen we have to have sincere desire and descending mercy. To emphasize more on the influences and the deteriorating effects of Kali, Maharaja shared how, while in LA, he observed that people were losing the basic sense of dressing themselves in a proper way. Upon pondering more on the feelings with which Maharaja shared his experience, we could gain a glimpse into the core of his heart. The amount of gratitude that he carries in his heart for his spiritual master was very apparent. We were touched when he expressed how he was saved from the effects of Kali. Maharaja continued to speak on the value of the human form of life, which could be understood only when one comes to the spiritual platform.
Tuesday 4th August, 2009 Morning SB class & Evening Home Program (Lord’s protection through disciplic succession)
In the morning Bhagavatam discourse, Maharaja spoke about what real shelter is and how we could attain the Lord’s protection through the disciplic succession. The mercy of disciplic succession can be fully received by letting go of our material conceptions. As long as we strive to seek happiness in the illusory things and continue to enjoy independently from Krishna, we are going to be bounced back and forth by the material energy. The mood with which he conveyed the message was very deep and that clearly showed how strong is Maharaja's desire to pull us out of the material conception of life and make us see the higher truth.
In the evening, on entering into the basement of the house where the program was to be held, Maharaja appreciated the hosts’ thoughtfulness in buying a house with a big basement, an ideal place for hosting a large audience. Acknowledging the audience, Maharaja continued the discourse on the topic that he spoke about in the morning. Maharaja started the discourse by throwing a quiz question from Nectar of Devotion. The question that he asked was – What are the five most potent/important items of devotional service that if even one is followed without offense then very quickly love of God will awaken within our heart? Devotees were so eager to answer the question that even after all the five items were said there were still some hands raised. Maharaja playfully asked the devotee who had his hand raised that if he had a sixth one to add to the list. Maharaja then went on to discuss some of the most important items on the path of devotional service:
1. Chanting the holy name
2. Association of devotees
3. Hearing about the Supreme Personality of Godhead
Chanting of the holy name is very sublime. Maharaja added that chanting of the holy name could stop even death and bestow upon us topmost gift of love of God. While sharing his thoughts on the next key point – the association of devotees, Maharaja noted that pure devotees are very powerful and a moment of association with them is most sacred. As he proceeded to the next topic - hearing, he encouraged us to ponder what we hear from various angles to understand the importance of the message being delivered, thus actively engaging our intelligence in the service of Krishna. Similarly, mind can also be fixed on Krishna by being in the association of devotees. So, when one’s intelligence and mind are fixed on Krishna, one achieves mental equilibrium. At the end of the discourse, Maharaja very patiently answered our questions and doubts and lovingly distributed prasadam that he had brought from LA.
Wednesday 5th August, 2009
Morning SB class & Evening Temple Program (Potomac, MD)
It was Lord Balarama’s appearance day and Maharaja mercifully gave his association on that auspicious day by narrating the various pastimes of Lord Balarama, an expansion of Krishna, from Caitanya Caritamrta Adi Lila. Maharaja made the class interactive by engaging all the kids present in the audience. He asked them to recount the various names by which Lord Balarama is known as well as stories about Lord Balarama that they have read about. He gave us a detailed overview of Krishna’s various plenary expansions, primary and secondary and where Lord Balarama fits in that picture. One of the stories he told us was how Balarama, who appeared as Lord Rama’s younger brother Lakshmana in Ram’s lila was unable to bear the austerities His elder brother had to undergo in the forest and being the younger brother could not successfully persuade Him to abandon the forest. Thus, he took a vow to appear as the Supreme Lord’s elder brother in His subsequent lilas and appeared as Lord Balarama in Lord Krishna’s lila and as Lord Nityananda in Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s lila.
In the evening temple program, Maharaja took us through another pictorial tour, this time of the various pastimes of Lord Balarama with Krishna in stealing butter, herding the cows etc. Although, the slides that Maharaja had prepared were enough for more than an hour-long presentation, in the interest of time he didn’t go through the entire presentation. Maharaja narrated various childhood pastimes of Lord Krishna and Balarama. One of those pastimes that he narrated was Krishna being accused of eating dirt by Balarama. Due to the influence of yoga-maya (Krishna’s spiiritual energy), Mother Yasoda was not aware of the real position of Krishna as the Supreme Controller and when Balarama was accusing Krishna for eating dirt, Mother Yasoda chastised Krishna and asked, “Krishna, did you eat dirt?” When she asked Krishna to open His mouth, Mother Yasoda saw the whole cosmic manifestation and everything as Krishna Himself says in Bhagavad Gita that, “By Me, in My unmanifest form, this entire universe is pervaded. All beings are in Me, but I am not in them.” Mother Yasoda realized that Krishna was none other than the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But, immediately, Krishna placed her again under His spiritual energy to experience sweetness of parental relationship.
Maharaja being adept in injecting the message directly into the core of our hearts continued to say that in order to advance in Krishna Consciousness (on the path to Krishna), we need direction and constant indications, which come through our spiritual master. The original spiritual master is Lord Balarama, who discloses Krishna. We need to strongly pray to Lord Balarama to provide us the strength to continue on this path. Maharaja couldn’t and didn’t want to stop glorifying Lord Balarama, yet because of time constraints, he ended the discourse by reading a couple of prayers written by Srila Rupa Goswami in honor of Lord Balarama.
Once again, we felt intense separation from our beloved Maharaja as he left Washington, DC but we take happiness in the fact that his association will vitalize other souls like us who are eager to get his mercy.