Introduction by the repeater HG Sujintendriya das:
One of our beloved spiritual master’s illustrious disciples, Her Grace Haridhwani devi dasi. She met guru maharaj in 1981 and also was initiated the same year. She has been serving in New Talavan Farm in Mississippi, USA, for the past 34 years. And she was teaching there for many, many years. Now she helps with the deity service and recently she is trying to serve the vaishnavas by devoting her time on the Facebook page to guru maharaj katha and also administration work for guru maharaj’s official disciple page.
HG Haridhwani mataji:
Hare Krishna! I know alpo alpo Bengali and I will say something, you have to say if I am saying it right! Aami aapnaar hashi mukh dekhe kushi paalam. Is it right? I am very happy to see your smiling faces! Please forgive me if I made any mistakes in Bengali.
I am not sure what I should be telling but when I asked Shyamarasika prabhu, he said, some pastimes of guru maharaj would be good. And also maybe they are illustrating some of his shining qualities. So as prabhu said, I live in a very big farm in the United States of America. It is big, do you know acres? It is 1200 acres. And it is really very beautiful there. We have cows and orchards and gardens. Also nice pukur – lakes. When guru maharaj used to come there earlier, he would like to take the boys to swim in the lakes. Srila Prabhupad actually came to our place in 1975 and I wasn’t there at that time but I heard that Srila Prabhupad said that New Talavan reminded him of Mayapur. Guru maharaj was also our GBC for many, many years so he would come there very often. And he would always make us feel like we were his special New Talavan family.
So one nice pastime that he would have with the children was during guru puja, at the end of guru puja, after everyone came up for their sweet or cookie, then those cookies that were left over – and we would make sure there were many of those – that the kids would waiting anxiously because those left over he would throw – shoooook, shooook, like that! And the kids would run out catching, catching them! So they would be anxiously waiting for him because they knew they would be hearing so nice Caitanya lila. And we all know that guru maharaj has this shakti that he makes you love him, you are defeated by his sweetness, so all of the children would be so happy to see him.
So one nice pastime I remember, I have three children, one daughter and two sons. So once when my two children, the girl and my elder boy, were little I heard them arguing, do you know we used to call guru maharaj Acharyapad? Do you know? So I heard them arguing and the first one is telling, he is MY Acharyapad! But then the other one is telling, no, no, no, he is MY Acharyapad! So they are back and forth, back and forth. So I was just thinking then that how wonderful it was that we can all feel like he is our Acharyapad, he is our guru maharaj. Isn’t it? Haribol!
So then I also had the mercy to go on safari with guru maharaj many times, I think ten times I went with guru maharaj. And I have to tell you that I am feeling a little guilty that I am not going this year. But I am almost seventy now and it is a little tough for me. A little tough. But one thing I remember, so many safari pastimes I can think of. And for us it was such a nice opportunity to really every day seeing guru maharaj and hearing him and getting to serving him all those days! So one outstanding thing was that he was always caring for everyone like he was their dear father! He would come around and ask, is everything alright? Do you need sun screen or is your stomach sick? How is the prasadam? And so because we are always feeling his loving care, we would want to reciprocate with him. So everyone knows that safari isn’t like just some tour or just going to the holy places, that is not all it is. Because guru maharaj we know, he is always intent on giving Krishna consciousness to others. So then every place we are doing pandal program, nice pandal program. Just like tonight, Shyamarasika prabhu told me that guru maharaj is in, I forget that place, Hooghly, and doing pandal program with the safari devotees. So when were on safari with him, we would often come up on the stage during the program and he would be so pleased when the devotees would tell about their experiences in Krishna consciousness. And we would be happy that we could assist him in his preaching pastimes and reciprocate with him in that way!
So when my younger son, his name is Prabhupad Charan, guru maharaj named him, when he was ten years old, I brought him to India for the first time. So we also went on safari that year and the namahatta devotees they taught Prabhupad Charan enough Bengali to introduce himself. And then he would tell that he was going to recite a Bhagavad Gita verse and then he would. And I have to tell you, now he is a man, but 25 years ago he was this big moon faced kid with white hair, so when he would be up on stage and would be doing this, the people were very much appreciating that – here is this American kid but he is doing like that! And guru maharaj would just sit on the Vyasa aasan and would look at Prabhupad Charan and like he is saying, that’s my boy! Just giving him so much mercy, it would melt my heart!
So I am really happy to have discovered the service of glorifying guru maharaj on Facebook. Another mataji from New Talavan and I were asked to do some research for guru maharaj’s biography about a year and a half ago. So that started me thinking about some of the lilas and qualities of guru maharaj and I started writing about those for the biography, some background that I could assist Satyaraj prabhu with. And then after guru maharaj’s transplant surgery and every day the health reports were coming, then I would share that health report, that update, on my page with one of the pictures that I had of guru maharaj. And I have so many pictures from years and years that when I posted that picture then I would also tell the pastime that went with that picture. And that is kind of how it started that now I am devoting that page and my energy to glorifying guru maharaj through that page and if you go to Helen Brown Haridhwani on Facebook, every day I am posting about guru maharaj. Does anyone have any questions? Anything that you would like to ask me about?
Question: Mataji, it is very nice to hear pastimes about guru maharaj. We would like to know when was your first meeting with guru maharaj and your initiation, you experience?
Haridhwani mataji: So I met guru maharaj in 1981 at another farm in America called Murari Sevak in the state of Tennessee. I had two young children, my son was like one year and my daughter was three. I had been reading Srila Prabhupad’s books for seven years before, but where I live there was no temple and I had no association of devotees. So I would pray every day to Srila Prabhupad. Actually I lived on a farm in Minnesota where my husband and I, we grew our own food, we liked goats, we had honey bees, do you know what is a hippie? We were hippies but we were constructive hippies! Because we grew our own food! No drugs! Constructive hippies! But it was difficult for me because I was trying to be a devotee but my husband, he was not interested in Krishna consciousness. So every day I would pray to Srila Prabhupad, please just give me the association of the devotees. So it was arranged that I go to this place in Tennessee, so I joined Krishna consciousness at this place, and the next month was the first time guru maharaj visited there. This place was like isolated and like not many maharajas or Prabhupad disciples would come there, it was like we say in English, off the beaten path. So the devotees were so excited that Jayapataka Maharaj was coming! So I remember we escorted him into the temple and we were doing guru puja, and after everyone had gotten their sweet, he started his pastime of again throwing the cookies! So I wanted to catch another cookie, I had my son, now he is 38, I had him on my hip and my hand is up like this! So he would look at me and then get this look on his face and throw it to someone else! And so many times this is happening. He is looking and then to someone else. And then all of a sudden I realized that I am actually so new devotee, so new having devotee association, that I am holding up my muchi hand! So when I realized, I moved my son to my other hip so I could hold out my clean hand and as soon as I did that, he looked me and then there was a big, big, hashi mukh, big smiling face, and I caught the cookie! So I was understanding that from that very first meeting he was giving me instructions. And I am so grateful for all these years of his mercy and his instructions! So then that was May of 1981, in the fall then it was Ratha Yatra in New Orleans and I was initiated there. I remember when it was time for my initiation, I had an interview with guru maharaj. And he was asking me a question about the difference between Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan realizations. And when I answered he said, a little shaky, but ok! And then I remember that actually at that time my son was real, mama’s boy, as you say in English. Wasn’t Samba, Krishna’s son Samba, always stayed with his mother? So I had him on my lap when I was talking to guru maharaj, a good thing, he had fallen asleep. So I remember that the last thing that guru maharaj said to me was, that actually the disciple is troublesome for the spiritual master. But just as the mother accepts the trouble of caring for her child, the spiritual master accepts this burden because it is a burden of love. It was so meaningful for me because I could like in some way understand what he was saying.
So I am going to tell something that, please forgive me if I sound like some important person. It is just to show how merciful guru maharaj is. When I was on safari in 2001 we were in Coimbatore, and it was my birthday! My 50th birthday and so guru maharaj told one of the matajis to arrange for a party. So there was cake and ice cream for all the devotees. So it was in a wedding hall and he told me I should serve out all of the devotees some cake and ice cream, like that. And do you know how in wedding halls you have those narrow tables when you sit on one side, isn’t it? So there were some brahmacharis sitting across from guru maharaj and I was finished serving, so I came back over that way. So guru maharaj told them, you go find somewhere else to sit and let mother Haridhwani sit there, across from him. And he had a box of ice cream cups in front of him. So he would take one cup, take a little with the spoon and then hand it to me. And then again, and again and again. Then he had one mataji give me his lotus garland and I was feeling so like overwhelmed with his caring. Then he started to talk about my seva and the first thing he said was when I come to New Talavan, Mother Haridhwani makes me a paneer sandwich. And he likes that thing so much! So it makes me so happy that there is one thing that I can do that pleases him! So then when he left, I was just so overwhelmed that I started to cry! Just thinking how merciful he is.
So I guess I wanted to let you all know how important, I think you all know this, but how important it is for us to do what we are supposed to do, to please guru maharaj. Because if you really love someone, you want to please them and you want to do what they say. So we all took vows before the deities and the fire when guru maharaj, so we all have to be careful that we are chanting and we are following and I might be, there is an expression in English, preaching to the choir, that means talking to the people that are already doing like that. But we all know that there are some people that have made their promises to guru maharaj and then they are not keeping their promise. So you have to be determined to keep that promise. Because the worst round that you chant, maybe sometimes we are not very attentive, but the worst round that you chant is better than not chanting at all! And I know that the devotees, especially the Bengali devotees, they love guru maharaj so much. So the best way that you can show him that you love him is to follow the order of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, is that you become Krishna conscious and you give Krishna consciousness to others. Is that good? Is that enough? Is that alright. So thank you so much for your kind attention. Srila Prabhupad! Guru Maharaj ki jai! Haribol! Jai vaishnavas! Vancha kalpataru bhayas cha …
Transcribed by Jayaraseshwari devi dasi
31 March 2019