Chowpatty Temple


Padmanabha and I passed the tulasi grove of the brahmacari asrama and made our way to the rear entrance of the Temple.  We left our capalas by the doorway, rang the bell and entered.  We quickly offered obeisances and headed for Srila Prabhupada’s murti.  We offered dandavats to Srila Prabhupada, touched his feet and offered obeisances to Lord Sthanu-Nrsimha, Sri Sri Pancha-Tattva and Sri-Sri Radha-Madhava and the Asta-Sakhis.  Everything about Mayapur was big.  Chunky.  The Temple walkways, buildings, the two Temple rooms, the chandeliers, the tulasi plants on their mandaps, the altars and, of course, the Deities.  The largeness of the ISKCON Mayapur Campus seemed to radiate the audarya (mangnanimous) mood of Lord Chaitanya.  Radha-Madhava’s exalted pujaris, Jananivas and Pankajanghri prabhus, were also there – as always.

The Temple Room resembled an airport hangar.  The roof was high and the interior spacious.  Sri Sri Mayapura-candrodaya Mandir was not a ‘finished’ Temple in the sense of Krishna-Balarama Mandir in Vrindavan; or Radha-Rasabihari, in Mumbai.  His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, ISKCON’s Founder-acarya, had placed Ananta-Sesa in the foundations in 1977.  He had  envisioned a colossal ‘Temple of the Vedic Planetarium’ in Mayapur.  Since he was no longer personally present, his disciples intended to fulfill his grand ambition.  This adbhuta mandir (‘magnificent Temple’) had been predicted by Lord Nityananda over 500 years ago.  His Holiness Jayapataka Maharaja related another prophecy by Srinivas Acharya, a confidential associate of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.  Srinivas Acharya had a vision in which he saw what appeared to be life-size Deities of the Pancha-Tattva, on the altar of a wonderful Temple, in Sri Mayapur Dhama.  These Deities were being worshipped by devotees from different parts of the world.  When Srinivas looked closer, however, he saw that the figures on the altar were not Deities but the Pancha-Tattva Themselves!  About a hundred years ago the great Vaishnava acarya, Bhaktivinoda Thakur, had a divine vision wherein he saw a beautiful Temple and Celestial City on the present ISKCON land.

One of our South African devotee-teachers, Nrsimhananda prabhu, was giving Bhagavad-gita class upstairs.  I rushed up the stair-case to catch the tail-end of it.  I marvelled at how much progress had been made on the Mayapur Campus since my first visit in 1997.  Everything was very pakka.  I mentioned this to the Director of ISKCON Mayapur, His Holiness Bhakti Purusottama Swami.  He humbly replied that it was because of the Festival.  We attended Gaura Arati, the auspicious worship of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, in the Pancha-Tattva Temple Room.  The Festival period was over, so most of the foreign pilgrims had left and many of the local devotees had gone to Vrindavan or elsewhere.  There couldn’t have been more than 50 devotees in the Temple room.  Kirtan was still jubilant, and I got quite sweaty dancing, though the large fans kept me cool.  After arati, I caught up with some devotee acquainances.  I saw Subhaga Maharaja, whom I had met in Vrindavan in 1997.  The gentle Bengali sadhu informed me that he had had a brain tumour and that it had been removed.  He looked a little frail.  I also saw one of the cooks from Chowpatty Temple, Saci Suno prabhu.

I presented one of the pujaris with carob from my friend Nanda Kumar prabhu.  He gave me some of Radha-Madhava’s jewellery to give to him in reciprocation for his gift.  Padmanabha and I took some hot milk and moori with the brahmacaris, and returned to the ashram to take rest.

A Ukrainian devotee, Lokesvara prabhu, accompanied me from Grant Road Station to Victoria Station.  We blissfully spoke about Krishna consciousness on the local train and as we arrived at Victoria Station, I wondered if I would make it in time for the 8:15pm train to Howrah?  We stumbled through the crowds looking for the Howrah train.  I scanned the list at the side of the coach, looking for my name and seat number.  I gave Lokesvara a rushed hug and stepped onto my coach.  I browsed the section marked ‘1-72’, looking for number 50.

I was pleasantly surprised to find an Indian brahmacari and an elderly South American couple in my compartment.    The Indian monk, Padmanabha, offered me capatis and a piece of cake – maha-prasada from Radha-Rasabihari. I told my devotee travelling companions that I was most grateful to be travelling in their association.  Padmanabha said, ‘No! No, prabhu! We are happy to be travelling with you!  It is a blessing to travel with devotees’.  I humbly requested they pray I might have the association of devotees at the time of death.

Padmanabha squeezed onto his bunk – to accomodate a steel vanity-case containing mataji’s Gaura-Nitai Deities.  He very kindly offered the elderly mataji his bunk.  Even though he looked very uncomfortable, he never complained.  That night I dreamt of Maharaja.  I was at the Ayurvedic Chemist by the Jain Temple in Mira Road.  Maharaja was there with his personal servants, Stoka Krishna and Siksastakam prabhus.  I hid because I did not want Maharaja to be bothered by seeing me again. Maharaja did, however, notice me. I said, ‘I am sorry for any offences I might have made’.  Maharaja replied, ‘That’s good’.  In my second I was walking through some dark streets with a group of friends.  The night was filled with a sense of expectation.  We walked past a school hall lit by a scattering of electric lamps.  In my last dream, I was on an Indian train which had bunks going up six or seven levels.  I was on one of the top bunks.  The South American devotees, Advaita Charan prabhu and his wife, were there.  I had a conversation with a sulky twelve-year old American gurukuli.  I said to him, ‘You were in Maya during the school holidays, weren’t you?’  The boy just sat there, pouting.  I think he was unhappy his holidays were over.  Then Savya Saci, my friend from the Bhaktivedanta Hospital, entered the compartment.  Savya Saci was grinning in his characteristic way.  I was happy.  At least we could say goodbye to each other properly.

The next day I woke up and reflected on my good fortune – I am so happy to have such a kind and beautiful spiritual master.  Krishna has been most kind to me.  

It wouldn’t be long before the train arrived at Howrah Station.

March 15 2001, Mumbai, India

Maharaja had accepted me as his aspiring disciple.  He asked what my plans were.  I told him that I was planning to go to Mayapur.  I left the Bhaktivedanta Hospital and took the train to Grant Road Station.  Looking out the train window at the dirty tracks and buildings, I realized that it is only by the mercy of the Vaishnavas that we can make any spiritual progress.

Gaura-Nitai looked very life-like during the next morning’s darsana.  I couldn’t stay for Bhagavatam class, however, because I had to buy my train ticket to Howrah.  The morning sunlight dazzled like liquid gold.  I saw a calf sucking on it’s mother’s udders from the bus window and remembered reading in Krsna Book that this was auspicious. This good omen must, in some way or other, be connected to my being accepted by my Spiritual Master.

I jumped off the bus at Churchgate Station, bought my ticket and danced through the crowd singing Hare Krishna.  Moving in this carefree spirit, I walked – or, rather, danced – into a young German couple leaning on their luggage at the foot of a large column.  The girl, Trinity, was about 25; and her companion, Kai, 35.  They were what you could call ‘techno-hippies’.  It was their first visit to India.  They asked me if I knew of any good guesthouses in Mumbai.  I made some suggestions.  I somehow ended up talking about ISKCON Chowpatty.  Trinity and Kai were so intrigued by my descriptions of this special place that they asked me to take them there.

The three of us bundled into a cab.  The cabe wove its way through the Mumbai traffic to Radha-Gopinath Mandir.  I took them to the Gift Shop and  Kai bought an Introduction To Bhagavad-gita As It Is.   Kai was mesmerized by the Temple.  He took me aside and whispered:  ‘I have definitely been to India before’.  Gopijanavallabha prabhu, from the guest department, showed the couple the Temple Room.  Trinity gazed at Radha-Gopinath while Kai walked around the Temple Room looking at pictures of Krishna’s pastimes.  Trinity covered her head with her scarf.  Gopijanavallabha looked at me and at her and said, ‘She respects the Temple etiquette’.  When I looked again, I noticed that tears were streaming down her cheeks.  Gopijanavallabha offered them some prasada.  I chatted some more with them before they left.

I washed my cloth, shaved and showered.  It was difficult saying goodbye to my friends.  I met Sankirtan prabhu in the passage and said, ‘Yes, absence makes the heart grow fonder.  I am going to miss you’.  He gently smiled and moved his head from side to side.  Dauji prabhu packed some prashadam for me.  I was now in a state.  I took darsana of Radha-Gopinatha, and packed my bags.  I felt hollow inside.  Had I really accomplished, as my Gurumaharaja had asked, what I had set out to achieve here in India?  I suddenly felt detached from everything.  Was this how a rich person feels towards the objects of wealth?  I suddenly felt very removed, in spirit, from Chowpatty.  I was leaving.  Being transported.  And feelings of separation were beginning to take hold.

I rushed downstairs to fetch my prasada.  I placed my luggage near the front of the Temple and began to say goodbye to my friends from the asrama.  It suddenly dawned on me that I had forgotten to offer my obeisances to Maharaja. I wanted to run upstairs but the devotees said, ‘There he is!’  Maharaja was walking by the Laxmi-Narayana Temple.  I offered my obeisances to him.  Maharaja asked, in a somewhat tentative manner, ‘So, are you going now?’  ‘Yes.  I am taking the train to Howrah’.  Maharaja looked at Krishna-Balarama and the small group and said, ‘This is not the first time we are saying goodbye’. ‘Maharaja, please pray that I can always be steady’, I entreated.  Maharaja said, ‘Yes.  Always’.  Maharaja looked at Krishna Balarama and said, ‘Give him your blessings’.  He began to ascend the metal staircase.

Krishna Balarama faced me and said, ‘Blessings!  Blessings!  Blessings’.  I retorted light-heartedly, ‘You are an empowered devotee.  Maharaja has empowered you to give me your blessings’.  We both laughed.  I watched Maharaja, for what seemed an eternity, walk up the staircase.  I was leaving Chowpatty once again.

Sri Sri Radha-Gopinath Mandir, Mumbai

It was on a warm October morning ten years ago that I first visited Sri Sri Radha-Gopinath Temple in Chowpatty. ISKCON Chowpatty is now famous throughout the world for its warm Vaisnava hospitality and rich spiritual culture.

A disciple of His Holiness Giriraja Swami, Krishna-kirtan prabhu, had told me about this really simple temple about 45 minutes from the centre of Mumbai. He had also given me some audio tapes of classes by His Holiness Radhanath Maharaja’s (the project’s leader).

Yasomatinandan prabhu and I made our way by bus from St. Joseph’s College, around the corner from ISKCON Juhu, to Andrew Wilson College. That was our landmark. Somehow or other, we alighted near Babulnath Mandir, and took a right down a road unknown to us. That was my first taste of Indian street-life. Next thing we were in front of a run-down metal gate and a building that looked more like a school than a temple. Just as well I had learnt devanagari and could read the fading sign – ‘Sri Sri Radha-Gopinath Mandir.’ This was it! This was Chowpatty Temple!

As we climbed the stairs, we could hear the strains of the guru-puja prayers: sri guru carane rati, ei sei uttama gati (‘attachment to the lotus feet of the spiritual master is the perfection that fulfills all desires’). We offered obeisances and joined the kirtan. I can still see His Holiness Radhanath Maharaja standing on the edge of the kirtan with outstretched hands. There were about fifteen brahmacaris in the kirtan (nowadays there are about 100!). We also had the good fortune of hearing Bhagavatam from Radhanath Maharaja. After class, we chanted japa in the temple room (quiet meditation on the maha-mantra on prayer-beads), then took breakfast.

Navakishore prabhu (from Mauritius) was our host. He took us to a little guest room next to the brahmacari classroom. I remember the straw mats on the floor. The room was also spacious. Govinda prabhu gave Bhagavad-gita class. After Govinda spoke, Yaso spoke for about ten minutes. We took prasadam (a sanctified vegetarian meal meaning ‘mercy of God’) and rested. Most of the devotees I met that day are still around – Sankirtan prabhu, Sanat-Kumar prabhu, Govinda prabhu, Saci-Kumar prabhu and Govinda prabhu. The devotees were so friendly and blissful I thought to myself, ‘I want to be like them.’

Ten years have passed. There have been a lot of changes. The building, for one, is now exclusively owned by the Temple – no schools, no internet cafes, no offices. There is more room now – then, again, there are more devotees! The Temple room has been beautifully decorated and transformed under the personal supervision of Radhanath Maharaja. You can really feel the presence of Radha-Gopinath. Srila Prabhupada looks like he is beaming.

I remember inviting a hip young German couple to the Temple in 2001. The girl covered her head with a light cloth, sat on her knees, gazed out at the Deities and just cried for about ten minutes! Despite all the opulence, the devotees have maintained their culture of simplicity and humility. I am always very touched whenever I visit Chowpatty…it is a wonderful Temple.

Radha-Gopinath Mandir, Chowpatty, Mumbai, 21st February 2001

‘Maharaja got in the night before yesterday’, Radha-Gopinath prabhu intimated to me.  We were both waiting outside his living-quarters.  ‘Do you think it would be possible for me to meet with Maharaja?’ I asked.  Radha Gopinath prabhu was doubtful, ‘Maharaja has hardly had time to speak to me about the Gaura Purnima Festival and other important Temple matters.  And I’m the Temple President.  I’m not sure if he’ll meet you, prabhu.’

Maharaja’s servant came out.  Radha Gopinath went in.   I was still waiting outside Maharaja’s room when Radha Gopinath re-emerged three hours later.  Had he put in a  good word for me?  Would I be able to meet with Maharaja? Yes, he had spoken to Maharaja.  Maharaja had no problem with me going to Mayapur.  I explained to Radha Gopinath that I was in India was to request diksha initiation from Maharaja.  I had a letter of recommendation from my Temple President.  I might not see Maharaja for another three years.  Radha Gopinath was concerned:  ‘Let me speak to Krsnanand prabhu.  He is going to the Station with Maharaja tonight.  They might have space for you in Maharaja’s vehicle.’

Radha Gopinath presented my case to Krsnanand prabhu.  Krsnanand paused then said, ‘Yes, prabhuji.  You can join us.  Just be on time.’  It seemed like there was a glimmer of hope.  I went back to the ashram to take a shower, feeling a little bit better.  I went downstairs at the appointed time, and squeezed into the back of the Temple Sumo with Krsnanand prabhu, Maharaja’s servant, an American disciple and another Temple brahmacari. Maharaja sat in the passenger seat.  He exchanged some words with Gaurakishore, the American boy, asking him if he was alright.  Maharaja turned around, and greeted me. I was surprised he remembered my name.  Maharaja asked me if I was going to the Belgaum Ratha Yatra.  No.  I was just joining them for the ride.  But there was more.  The vehicle threaded its way through the night traffic past the old Siva Temple, Babulnath Mandir.  ‘Maharaja, I wanted to talk about our previous discussion…about my proposition’, I said, trying to find the right words.  It was frustrating.  You cannot demand initiation.  It is an act of mercy on behalf of the guru. I wanted to scream out, ‘Please, initiate me now!’  But I had to be patient.

Maharaja asked if I was going to Mayapur.  ‘Yes’, I replied.  ‘That is not a problem’, he said.  ‘When are you leaving India?’  I answered, ‘The 29th of March.  From Delhi.’  As the Sumo veered along Marine Drive, Maharaja humbly said, ‘I am your servant.’  I counteracted, ‘No.  I am your servant!’  Maharaja said, ‘You should go to Vrindavan after Mayapur, then back to South Africa.  You can do two things.  Meet me here, in Mumbai.  Or – if  you are leaving from Vrindavan to South Africa – write a long letter with your realizations, ideas and convictions about your stay in India and the places you go.’  He paused: ‘What are you going to do?  Go to Mayapur, Vrindavan and South Africa?  Or, Mayapur, Mumbai and Vrindavan?  You have two choices.’

The vehicle arrived at the bridge that crosses the highway.  Maharaja returned to the subject of initiation, ‘I take these things very seriously.  When you go back you must think very seriously about what you want to do.  You must be sure that you won’t go away.  You must be convinced about what you want in terms of your connection.’  I wasn’t sure what Maharaja meant, ‘Do you mean my connection in relation to the bhakti process?’   Maharaja responded, ‘More specifically, with your connection to that process.’  I realized that he was talking about the disciple’s relationship with the guru;  and  the disciple’s relationship with the chain of disciplic succession or parampara.  Initiation meant a lot to me.  ‘I could return to Mumbai, Maharaja.  If you are here’,  I said.  Maharaja described his schedule, mentioning that he was going to Kurukshetra Ratha Yatra on the 17th of March.

The vehicle neared Victoria Station.  I could see the trains and train-lines below.  People swarming in the floodlights.  Maharaja encouraged me, ‘You have served nicely in the Temple.  You are sincere.  And you have a nice disposition.’  The car stopped.  Maharaja spoke reassuringly, ‘Do not feel dejected.’  He stroked my sikha (the unshaved part of the devotee’s crown).  Maharaja sat back in his seat and said, ‘I am nice to people until they want initiation from me.  Then I harass them!’  He laughed heartily.  I felt bad.  ‘Sorry for asking’, I said.  My response elicited more laughter from Maharaja and the devotees.  I was embarassed.

The brahmacaris scrambled out of the Sumo.  Radhanath Maharaja’s personal servant grabbed his suitcases.  We all offered dandavats to Maharaja as he climbed out of the passenger seat.  I stood up.  Maharaja was facing me.  He placed his garland around me neck.  Maharaja looked so clean and fresh.  One of the boys was holding Maharaja’s danda.  The party disappeared into the crowds, leaving me to reflect on the day’s events.

Mumbai, February 2001

Vrajabihari prabhu asked me to accompany him to the airport to fetch Prahaladhananda Maharaja and Bhakti Caitanya Maharaja.  I was looking forward to seeing Bhakti Caitanya Maharaja and meeting His Holiness Prahladananda Maharaja.  Vrajabihari prabhu garlanded Praladhananda Maharaja and I garlanded Bhakti Caitanya Maharaja.

Bhakti Caitanya Maharaja asked, ‘Where are they taking us?’  I wasn’t sure.  I asked a rhetorical question, ‘The Temple?’  Maharaja said, ‘Aren’t they taking us to the hospital?’  It was distressing to see Maharaja looking so weak.  He didn’t speak much, just chanted.  When we arrived at the Bhaktivedanta Hospital, we took the sannyasis suitcases to their rooms.  They spoke to one of the main doctor’s at the Bhaktivedanta Hospital, Sri Krsna Caitanya prabhu.  I offered obeisances to Bhakti Caitanya Maharaja.  He thanked me for coming and gave me his garland.  He said, ‘Sorry for being such a nuisance.’  I replied, ‘No, Maharaja.  We were looking forward to receiving you.’  I then asked, ‘Is it an emergency?’  Maharaja said, ‘Yes…it’s serious.  We had to leave Mayapur directly.’  Maharaja had a severe case of asthma.  I asked Maharaja if he required any service.  I would cancel my Mayapur trip if necessary.  He said, ‘If you like.  But you can go ahead.’

As it turned out, several other sannyasis and senior devotees checked into the hospital.  I soon met Niranjana Swami and Vaidhinath prabhu.  The hospital was also offering relief for the victims of the Gujarat earthquake.  I shared a room with Niranjana Maharaja’s personal servant for 20 rupees a night.  I developed the habit of taking breakfast at the Mira Road Temple and dosas and sambar in the canteen for lunch.  My main service, in the beginning, was cleaning Bhakti Caitanya Maharaja’s room with the help of Savya-saci, Niranjana Maharaja’s servant.  I ended up, however, cleaning the room every morning and washing cloth for Bhakti Caitanya Maharaja, Niranjana Swami, Prahladananda Swami and Vaidhinatha prabhu.  Other services included serving prashadam for these devotees and performing various menial services in the hospital, such as accompanying His Grace Vijay prabhu into the operating-theatre and assisting the servants of the various Maharajas.  It was a great opportunity to serve, but very intense.  On one of the nights, we sang in Niranjana Maharaja’s room.  On another night, we visited Sridhar Maharaja (who had severe hepatitis) and chanted in ‘Nrsimha Kutir’.  The apartment was across the road from the Hospital.

I accompanied a young Indian bhakta, Manoja, to Sridhar Maharaja’s apartment on one of the mornings.  We presented Maharaja with a garland of marigolds from Sri Sri Radha-Giridhari.  Maharaja was very happy with the garland.  He asked what I had done before I took up Krishna consciousness.  I informed Maharaja that I had been a student of History and had written a thesis on the slave trade to the Cape.  Maharaja told me that his brother had been a Rhodes scholar.  He then asked, ‘Why History?’  He seemed bemused by this.  He said, ‘My brother studied South American history.’  ‘Do you think it’s practical to take initiation from Radhanath Maharaja.  After all, Maharaja never visits South  Africa.  Maybe I am being idealistic’  Sridhar Maharaja replied, ‘You have to have faith in that person.  The person you receive initiation from has to inpire you your whole life.’  I offered obeisances to Maharaja and took his permission to leave.

Something extraordinary happened in the afternoon when I returned to the Temple to get maha sweets from the pujari (priest of the Deity).  The altar was closed and there were no devotees around.  As I was leaving the Temple compound, a devotee called Premavatara offered me a garland.  It was the same garland which I had presented to Sridhar Maharaja in the morning!

ISKCON Chowpatty, Mumbai, 30 January 2001

Radhanath Maharaja’s quarters were at the end of a prefabricated metal corridor, paved with what appeared to be shower tiles.  My hands carried a photocopied ‘Letter Of Recommendation For First Initiation’  from my Temple President, Sikhi Mahiti prabhu.  The letter was for Maharaja.

The narrow corridor opened into a small seating area outside Maharaja’s room.  I sat on one of the chairs next an older devotee in white.  Trai prabhu.  He was seated next to his wife.  We could see into the room from where we were sitting.  The room was covered with straw mats.   Maharaja was sitting on an asana on one side of a low, wooden desk.  Malati Mataji, a very senior disciple of Srila Prabhupada, was also seated on an asana on the other side of the table.  She wore a saffron sari.  They were both laughing.

Trai prabhu was looking at some photographs.  He also had a copy of the Bhagavad-gita in his hands.  While waiting to meet with Maharaja we spoke about Harinamas, devotees we both knew, Prabhupada’s books and what we would be doing in India.  After some time, Maharaja stood up, and walked Malati out of the room.  Trai went inside.  After an hour or so, Maharaja bade me enter.  I sat down.  ‘Who are you?’ Maharaja asked.  ‘Bhakta Michael, from Cape Town’, I replied.  I was nervous.  He asked, ‘How can I serve you?’  The question threw me.  Maharaja was the senior devotee.  Maharaja was the guru.  Shouldn’t it be the other way around.  So I said, ‘I should be asking you that question.  How can I serve you?’  Sitting with straight back and legs crossed Maharaja spoke in a deep voice, ‘Surrender to Krishna!’  Maharaja said, ‘I don’t take visitors after 6:30pm’.  It was 8:15pm.  I said, ‘Should I go?’  He said, ‘Stay.’  I felt privileged that he was letting me stay in his room.

Maharaja asked me what I did before I met the devotees.  I told him I had studied Law and a Master’s degree in History at the University of Cape Town.  He asked me, ‘What kind of History you studied?’  I explained to him that I had written a thesis on the abolition of the Slave Trade to the Cape at the turn of the 18th Century.  I further explained how unhappy I was studying Law.  My academic pursuit of History was an escape from Law, a subject which I had never really been interested in anyway.  He then asked specifically how I met devotees.  I explained that I had met a devotee at a book-stall near the University and shortly after had visited the Temple.  ‘How did you like Pune Yatra? What was the thing you liked the most?’  I liked the Harinam.  I asked Maharaja if he had received my letters.  He said that he hadn’t received any.  I mentioned to Maharaja that I had distributed books 108 Bhagavad-gitas as a Vyasa Puja (birthday of the guru) offering to Maharaja.  He smiled.

Maharaja carefully perused Sikhi Mahiti’s letter.  One of the notable things about this darshan with Maharaja was the feeling that he was listening to me with great attention and sympathy.  He asked me if I had his lecture tapes.  I said I had about fifty.  I explained why I wanted to take shelter from him.  He asked me what I planned to do in India.  It was my intention to follow Maharaja to Mayapur and then spend some time in Chowpatty.  I also mentioned that His Holiness Mahavishnu Swami had invited me to serve him in Bangladesh.  Maharaja intimated to me that it would be better if I stayed in Chowpatty.  Words came out from my heart to my mouth, ‘I am fallen compared to the brahmacaris here, Maharaja.  I often find myself in compromising situations in Cape Town.’  Maharaja consoled me, ‘Stay here some time.  It will be good for your brahmacharya.’

I offered Maharaja pictures of our Deities and a maha mangala sweet (a sweet offered to the Temple Deities in South Africa).  Maharaja gently dissuaded me from this action by saying, ‘Just wait.’  He gave me a sweetball, then accepted my gifts.  The mercy comes from above – not from below.

I have never felt a sense of inner happiness as I did after my meeting with Maharaja.  I couldn’t stop smiling.  I felt emotions I had never felt before.  Radhanath Maharaja was very gentle, understanding and patient.  Maharaja was very positive.  I never, for one moment, felt any negativity from Maharaja during that conversation.

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