After a week’s stay in Dallas, Guru Maharaj landed in New Orleans, Louisiana on the 14th of May. From there, Guru Maharaj drove down to New Talavan, Mississippi straight from the airport. It took 2 hours for Guru Maharaj and his crew to reach. New Talavan, situated in the Southern state of Mississippi, is an ISKCON Farm Community, established by Srila Prabhupada. The community spreads over a land area of over 1000 acres. The presiding deities are Sri Sri Radha Radha Kanta and Sri Sri Gaura Nitai.
Guru Maharaj stayed at HG Vedantakrit Prabhu and Narshinga Lakshmi Mataji’s house. Vedantakrit Prabhu is Srila Prabhupada’s disciple and Mataji, a disciple of Srila Guru dev. They have been staying at the farm community for 30 years and graciously invited Guru Maharaj to stay with them.
This is not the first time Guru Maharaj stayed at their home and it’s certainly not the first time Guru Maharaj visted New Talavan. Guru Maharaj was received at the home by many Srila Prabhupada’s disciples and other senior disciples of Guru dev.
The air, the trees and the following streams, New Talavan could transport one to goodness. Guru dev said that New Talavan reminded him of Vrindavan Dham! It was wonderful to see Guru Maharaj in a rather relaxed mood, spending time with his God Brothers and other disciples. Some of the devotees on the farm have spent most of their lives on the farm , taking care of the deities, milking the cows and harvesting vegetables. Many of them are Guru Maharaj’s disciples who went there on his instructions and have been serving ever since . Guru Maharaj was served prasadam made from farm grown vegetables, hand-picked by devotees. They cooked his meal with fresh herbs and medicinal ghee. The entire New Talavan experience was rather therapeutic. Kalasudha Mataji, Guru Maharaj’s designated cook here in the US has been cooking to the best of her ability, with great care and affection. The attention to detail which Mataji shows while cooking and the constant reciprocation she receives from Guru Maharaj is heartwarming. Every evening , Guru Maharaj went to the temple, had Darshan of the deities and gave a class. The classes were nectarine.
Having faith in deities:
Guru Maharaj spoke in detail about deities and explained how they were non different from Krishna. “So these deities have descended and giving their mercy. We are very fortunate to serve these deities. Some people don’t realize what a great good fortune it is to perform devotional service.” Further glorifying devotional service Guru Maharaj said , “Devotional service goes a long way”. When asked as to how to develop faith in the deity and in the process of Krishna Consciousness, Guru Maharaj said, “This is a gradual process and one gradually increases in one’s consciousness. Reading regularly adds. Associating with devotees who recite various pastimes from Bhagvatam, increases our faith.” Guru Maharaj also remarked that the devotees are not reading these days and that’s a matter of concern.
Secret of spirtual life:
Some disciples shared their experiences with Guru Maharaj. Kavalya Sundari Mataji remembered that once Guru Maharaj told them the secret to spirtual life. ” Guru Maharaj said that the secret to spirtual life is to always ask oneself, will this please Sri Nitai Gaur?”
Disciples and devotees at New Talavan said that they felt like they received much needed mercy showers from Guru Dev. Apparently, Guru Maharaj has been visiting New Talavan for over 25 years , whenever possible encouraging the devotees. Guru dev was the GBC for New Talavan over ten years ago, but still feels a sense of responsibility and affection for the Dham. It’s interesting to see how Guru Maharaj manages all these things , and how he is inspiring so many, not even a small fraction of which we know.
New Sankirtan Puri-New Orleans:
From the calmness of what felt like an English Country side , Guru Maharaj drove down to urban New Orleans. Everywhere Guru Maharaj is received with a grand reception, however New Orleans was exceptional. New Orleans houses a majority of Bengali devotees. Bengali Matajis dressed in bright yellow and red saris, with lamps and flowers , sounding Ulu dhwani welcomed Guru dev on the streets! It felt like Mayapur, certainly not the United States. Guru Maharaj in his arrival address said that , “I feel like I am in Mayapur. Thank you for your wonderful reception. I want that preaching here spreads and thereby spreading the glories of Lord Chaitanya”. Guru Maharaj stayed at Tapi Krishna prabhu’s home. Tapi Krishna prabhu had previously served as Guru Maharaj’s personal cook. He did everything in his given ability to make Guru Maharaj’s stay comfortable. Most of Guru Dev’s disciples at New Orleans drive taxis to make their living. They had their whole heart to offer to Guru Maharaj and utilised their every bit to serve Guru Dev. The warmth and hospitality they showered on Guru Maharaj and his team was a great example to learn from.
Guru Maharaj visited the temple in New Orleans thrice and delivered lectures. The presiding deities there are also Sri Sri Radha Radha Kanta , similar to New Talavan. Every lecture, everyday Guru Maharaj would always talk about the glories of Lord Chaitanya. “Because only the Lord can give out love for himself. He gave out this priceless jewel of love, without considering who is qualified and not qualified”.
Watch this movie!
Guru Maharaj then announced about the movie “Acarya”, now renamed as “Hare Krishna”. “So normally we are not advised to go to the movies but some Sanyasi was saying that this movie if you don’t go, you are in Maya. So please when it comes, please go. Try to enthuse others. The film is really about Prabhupada. If I am here when it releases, I’ll come with you. If I am not here, please take a photo of me and go”, Guru Maharaj said.
These are just a fraction of things that Guru Maharaj is performing. Carrying Srila Prabhupada’s mission in his heart, Lord Caitanya’s mercy as his tool, Guru Maharaj is travelling around the world, engaging devotees of all ages, color and backgrounds. Be it a palace like house in New Talavan or a humble home in New Orleans , he is continuing his mission.
All glories to Guru dev! All glories to Srila Prabhupada
Nanda Priya Nivedita DD