The following are some anecdotes from my experience attending the South India (SI) yatra (during Jan 2011) in the association of HH Romapada Swami and other devotees.
At the wonderful Simhachalam temple there is a ‘wish fulfilling’ pillar. One has to fold one’s hands around this pillar and whatever one wishes for, reportedly comes true. When HH Romapada Swami Maharaja was asked to do this, he very humbly and simply asked for ‘pure devotional service’. This shows how a pure devotee, even though always situated at the lotus feet of the Lord, is still eager for pure devotion. Maharaja, by example taught us how we should always be in a prayerful, humble mood and always seek pure devotional service rather than anything material.
Gives His 100%
Maharaja started his preparations for the SI yatra much before it even began. He spent so much of his valuable time and energy in order to help us receive the full benefit of the yatra. Even during the yatra, I noticed how Maharaja very meticulously highlighted different points in his book with different colors. True to his words, he gives his 100% to everything he does.
During the yatra, there were several days when Maharaja’s health was disturbed.
Maharaja often apologized for his voice (sore throat) but, promised to give his 100% and, true to his words did exert all his energy in giving us his 100%.
His Service Mood
During the SI yatra, one of the lecture halls had too many mosquitoes. I was appreciating how Maharaja, despite such inconveniences - mosquitoes, pollution, dust etc. kept smiling and serving Srila Prabhupada. In fact, on the first day of the yatra, Maharaja left early saying ‘He is leaving early so that he can serve us better’. He spent weeks simply hearing and reading more about all the places we were going to visit so that he could give us all that he learnt in full! People generally do some favor expecting something in return, but here was Maharaja, giving his heart and soul, SELFLESSLY into this yatra only so that he can help us advance in devotional service.
When we reached Kovvur, as we were getting ready for Maharaja’s class, I was surprised to see/hear the following. Maharaja was on the phone discussing with another devotee about Sampradaya (disciplic succession). He was requesting some clarification on the subject matter. Every moment of his life, truly, is dedicated in service to Srila Prabhupada and Krishna. He didn’t take a break even while walking from the Gaudiya Math temple to the venue where we were to hear him speak. It was non-stop service from his end. Dedication personified!
His Humility and Gravity
In Tirupathi, the devotees out of love and respect for Maharaja had placed the Vyasasana (seat) on a very high platform, like on a stage. But, Maharaja very humbly requested that he be given a simple seat. True to his vow, he always maintains austerity and never expects any high comforts. Even when several press reporters surrounded Maharaja for taking his pictures, he very politely requested them to stop taking his pictures. He never for a moment felt like he was a super star but, was rather concerned about the gravity of the holy place being disturbed. He was keen on maintaining a serious devotional mood throughout the yatra and didn’t want us to get distracted by the paparazzi.
A Humble Scholar
During his lectures, if Maharaja had any doubt about something he was talking, he would immediately and unhesitatingly refer to his notes. This showed his humility. Despite being an expert devotional scholar, Maharaja never hesitates to correct himself. Often, we think we know everything and even hesitate to accept our mistakes when pointed out, but, here is a pure devotee of the lord who despite being well-versed in the conclusions of the Vedas often checks Himself. How humble!
His Punctuality Ethic
One of the unbeatable qualities of Maharaja is his punctuality. By the time we reached the Tirupathi ISKCON temple, it was time for the morning Bhagavatam class. As we were still settling down in our hotels/rooms, we heard Maharaja, all set and ready, enthusiastically giving a class. We were amazed by Maharaja’s total dedication to his service, not wishing to take rest or a break! Very inspiring. In fact, we had another very enlivening class by Maharaja soon after the morning class. By the time this class was over, it was almost 1 p.m. and Maharaja had not taken breakfast yet. Maharaja never shows any sign of bodily discomfort. Even though it was late and Maharaja had not had breakfast yet, when some new devotees came to meet him, he showed no signs of urgency to leave; rather, he gave his special attention and blessings to all of them.
Furthermore, later, I heard from the devotees serving Maharaja that Maharaja had fever and had an even more late lunch. But, he was there on time for the next morning class and showed no signs of discomfort. Meditating on Maharaja’s wonderful qualities surely can increase our commitment to serve him and to assist him in his service to Srila Prabhupada!
While walking towards Ahobilam Matha, I noticed that something had pricked Maharaja’s feet. Maharaja, very smoothly just lifted his feet, removed the thorn or stone and kept walking, with absolutely no sign of pain or discomfort and not the least interruption to his service. Maharaja shows by example how we should put into practice the fact that ‘we are not this body, but, spirit souls, eternal servants of Lord Krishna’.