"Chanting Harinama and Serving Vaisnavas is Most Important"
I am the lowest and most junior of Guru Maharaja’s disciples. I cannot share any experiences of personal association with him because I was not qualified for that in this birth. Due to my offenses and karma, I discovered Krsna consciousness a bit late in life, after already becoming hopelessly entangled in worldly work and family life. Still, I can share a little about the causeless mercy he showed me in the three months leading up to his disappearance. Over the past few years, I had become attracted to Guru Maharaja from his books, videos, and glorification by so many senior diksa and siksa disciples of Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja, my harinam gurudeva. At some point I heard that Guru Maharaja began giving initiations, even outside India via skype, but I had no reason to think that that might be possible for me, living in an area where there wasn’t much chance for association. Then at the end of April 2017 my family and I moved from Virginia to Florida, to a city only a few hours drive from Alachua, where there is so much devotee association. Towards the end of May 2017 I found out that Syamarani didi, BV Madhava Maharaja, and BV Tapasvi Maharaja would all be in Alachua, and circumstances in my life exactly at that time made it perfect for a ‘getaway’ to go there and have association. The first day I was there I inquired as to whether skype initiation would be possible, and I was told maybe; they would look into it. The second day they said maybe, but still uncertain. Finally, arrangements were made on the third day for skype, and Guru Maharaja mercifully gave me diksa. I am ever-grateful to Syamarani didi and BV Tapasvi Maharaja for helping arrange this and for all their support and guidance. Guru Maharaja taught that the most important things are chanting harinam and serving Vaisnavas, and he gave me the great gift of service to a Vaisnavi as part of his divine disappearance pastime. To respect her humility, I will not mention her name here. After taking initiation near the end of May 2017, the next time that circumstances in my life magically made for a perfect ‘getaway’ to Alachua for association was at the beginning of September 2017. The day I arrived there (Sept. 3) all were concerned because Guru Maharaja’s health was not good, but at first there was no indication he was planning to depart very soon. The Vaisnavi I mentioned who was staying there had been planning to go to India to see Guru Maharaja in the near future, but due to his failing health she wanted to move her trip up to the next few days. Late that night while staying with a friend I received a message that since it had become clear that Guru Maharaja might depart soon, she decided to fly to India early the next morning, and I was offered the service of driving her to the airport – about 2 hours away in Orlando. All this was happening so fast and unexpectedly! I was astonished that although there were so many more qualified and deserving devotees in Alachua, somehow or other I got the opportunity for this service. So the next morning (Sept. 4) I, accompanied by two of my godsisters, took her to the airport. It was a blissful two hours thinking that seated beside me was one of the most respected and beloved Vaisnavis on the planet! Only Guru Maharaja could arrange such a wonderful thing! Of course, at the same time all were in anxiety over Guru Maharaja’s health and possible departure. When I arrived home late that night I could see from Facebook posts that Guru Maharaja’s health had turned critical, and in the morning I saw the sad news that he had departed. Later I was to find out that the Vaisnavi I had taken to the airport the previous day did not make it to India in time to have darshan of Guru Maharaja before his departure, but was able to participate in his disappearance programs. Anyway, I am grateful to Guru Maharaja for giving me the opportunity to take diksa only three months prior to his departure, and also for giving me the opportunity to serve an exalted Vaisnavi as part of his disappearance pastime. I am further grateful for the opportunity to get to know Guru Maharaja more and more by hearing his hari-katha audio files as part of the ongoing titling seva. All glories to Guru Maharaja!