My first darshan of Srila Maharaj was on a most fortunate day in Pune, in December 2008. The first ever harikatha I heard from his lotus lips was on Sri Nrsimha Deva’s avirbhav. His harikatha attracted me more than anything else. That day he had said: ‘Lord’s Lotus Feet are Ashoka, Abhay and Amrta’ and had also explained the verse ’mukam karoti vacalam pangum langhayate girim yat-krpa tam aham vande sri-gurum dina-taranam’. I had felt then that for the first time I understood the real meaning of that verse. I was also attracted to his great divine personality, his intelligent look and talk, and of course, his affectionate smile. Also I had received prasadam from his holy hands. Without my knowing, my spiritual journey had begun that day.
2009 was the most blessed year of my life and I found that very quietly Srila Maharaj had taken the role of my most beloved Siksha Guru. In December 2009 during his next darshan, by a glimpse of his mercy he had made me realize I am sitting at the feet of an Uttama Bhagavata, a great vaishnava, God-sent for me. That time he had blessed me with Srimad Bhagavad Gita book.
In 2010 August I was blessed with Harinam and in 2011 with a spiritual name and Mantra diksha from my dear most Gurudeva Srila Bhakti Vallabh Tirtha Gosvami Maharaj at Sri Jagannath Puri and Kolkata Math respectively.
The first time we were in Kolkata Math, Srila Maharaj had just begun Harikatha in Bangla and suddenly spotting us in the audience, took permission of the Bengali listeners and switched to speaking in Hindi so that we could understand. His kind gesture touched our heart. That day in the katha he told, never wait for an opportune time to take up devotional practice, it never comes by. It would be like waiting for the river to stop flowing for you to cross.
In the initial days I heard harikathas from him like a child hears stories from elders and would be so fascinated to hear instances of Sakshi Gopal, Madhavendra Puripad, Mahaprabhu, Nityananda Prabhu and their associates, Prabhupad and His associates, pastimes of Lord Jagannath, glories of the Holy Name, Glories of Ekadasi tithi and Tulasi devi, Rath yatra pastimes of Mahaprabhu, etc only to realize later that we are getting introduced to the most merciful Vaishnavas and also to the holy vaishnava scriptures like Sri Sri Caitanya Caritamrta, Sri Caitanya Bhagavat and Srimad Bhagavatam. He would explain such high topics like Sanatana Siksha, Mahaprabhu Raya Ramananda Samvad so lucidly. He would speak without fail the glories of the Vaishnavas on their tithis with such great love and attachment for them and taught us Vaishnavas are our real saviours, and their remembrance, our real wealth.
Once, in reply to a devotee’s question, Srila Maharaj said, the best atonement for all sins is chanting of the Holy Names and quoted the line ‘sarva maha-prayascitta yeh prabhur nama’ of Srila Vrndavan Das Thakur. His words expressed his deep faith and conviction in the power of the Holy Name.
Very magnanimously he gave us his wonderful association in Pune and also in Bangalore every year in the last few years and gave us a glimpse and taste of real vaishnava association.
Sheerly by his causeless mercy, he blessed me to be able to participate in his Samadhi proceedings at Sridham Mayapur, even though I could not go for his darshan during his illness pastimes.
It is my experience that to serve my beloved Siksha Guru I pray for strength from my most revered Diksha Guru and when I am to speak glories of my dear most Diksha Guru I remember my dearest Siksha Guru.
Ohe, Vaishnava Thakura dayara sagara ei dase karuna kari
diya pada chaya shodha he amaya tomara charana dhari….