South Africa 2018

In his purport to Bhagavad gita 2.7, His Divine Grace, Srila AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (our Founder Acarya) explains the position and role, and benefit of having a bona fide spiritual master: In every step there is perplexity, and therefore it behooves one to approach a bona fide spiritual master who can give one proper guidance for executing the purpose of life. All Vedic literatures advise us to approach a bona fide spiritual master to get free from the perplexities of life which happen without our desire. They are like a forest fire that somehow blazes without being set by anyone. Similarly, the world situation is such that perplexities of life automatically appear, without our wanting such confusion. No one wants fire, and yet it takes place, and we become perplexed.

The Vedic wisdom therefore advises that in order to solve the perplexities of life and to understand the science of the solution, one must approach a spiritual master who is in the disciplic succession. A person with a bona fide spiritual master is supposed to know everything. One should not, therefore, remain in material perplexities but should approach a spiritual master. Srila Prabhupada further extolls that this is the purport of this verse. We learn that spiritual life has three key ingredients: guru, japa and seva. As such LokSA began planning for Vyasa puja in May 2018, in the esteemed presence and under the guidance of His Holiness Rama Govinda Swami. Due to experience and skills being honed, most of the responsibilities were either rotated or retained by the disciples. So Krishna Kesava prabhu went about discussing past Vyasa puja celebrations. Roles and responsibilities were quickly assigned and taken by disciples. Maharaj gave wise guidance and suggestions. The venue was later decided to be Sri Sri Radha Radhanath Temple in Chatsworth – the temple Gurumaharaj found to be “out of this world”. We held the Vyasa puja celebrations on 28 July 2018, because with Syana ekadasi falling on a working day, the attendance would have been limited. So, to ensure maximum attendance, it was decided to celebrate it on a weekend. Vyasa puja 2018 was celebrated over two weeks; in two parts.

The first was a Padayatra, held on 14 July 2018. Devotees met at 09:30 and decorated a palanquin that carried Their Lordships, Gaura Nitai. We do not have a bullock cart, so our Deities are carried on devotees’ shoulders. On this occasion, we were led by the kirtan group, with Their Lordships in the middle, followed by the Food for Life vehicle. Devotees distributed Simply Wonderfuls, books, Janmastami invitations and plates of prasadam. 400 books were handed to devotees for distribution and 200 of which were “Introduction to Bhagavad gita” translated into the local Zulu language. There were some really destitute people; one elderly lady said that she was wondering where she was going to get lunch from. Lord Nityananda and Gauranga facilitated that she get prasadam. Approximately 500 plates of prasadam was served on the day.

Recently a child was killed in a hijacking and our Padayatra passed that very spot. Wherever the soul is, it would have got a degree of mercy by enjoying the Lord’s glance and by getting the Holy Name. The procession ended at a local temple. The pujari welcomed Sri Sri Gaura Nitai with arati and beckoned us to enter the mandir. We sang kirtan for about five minutes and exited; where after devotees were served prasadam in their dining hall.

On Saturday, 28 July we started with bhoga cleaning and preparations at 09:00; with Vyasa puja to start at 15:45. HG Sri Mukunda prabhu and HG Sadhana sakti mataji did the buying and transporting of bhoga to Sri Sri Radha Radhanath Temple. We also held our Monthly Sankirtan Festival on the day, which will be reported on later. Our head cook was our gurubhai, HG Ramachandra prabhu from Sri Dham Jagannatha Puri, Bharat (currently serving at New Jagannatha Puri Temple in Phoenix, Durban).

Our Vyasa puja program commenced at 16:00 in the temple room. HG Saradiya rasa mataji managed the table with Gurumaharaj’s books, which were discounted for the day only. The Vyasa puja Program Director was Krishna kunja prabhu. Bhakta Rauul led Sri Guru Vandana to His Divine Grace, Srila Prabhupada. Krishna kunja prabhu introduced Gurumaharaj, and HG Vraja Hari prabhu read out the offering by His Holiness Partha Sarathi Das Goswami Maharaj, to Gurumaharaj. HG Sarvanga Sundri mataji read out Gurumaharaj’s offering to Srila Prabhupada, where “Bombay Is My Office” was quoted.

HG Atmarama Gaura read out his offering, eloquently quoting Srimad Bhagavatam and Caitanya Caritamrta, lauding Gurumaharaj’s Sankirtan efforts.

And then Gurumaharaj arrived! Hare Krishna!!! Via Skype. We offered our Dandavat pranams and had the divine presence of our Dearest and Most beloved Sri Guru. Gurumaharaj explained brief pastimes of Saint Tukaram and glorified his abhangas. In the middle of the address (and true to Gurumaharaj’s caring nature), He even voiced His concern over HG Svarup Damodara prabhu’s ill health.

Our Temple President, His Grace Vibhu Caitanya das addressed Gurumaharaj: Once a month, we hold a Monthly Sankirtan Festival, where devotees take books and distribute for 2 – 3 hours. The book scores are then read out for the pleasure of Sri Sri Radha Radhanath. On this day, approximately seventy devotees participated and sold 324 books. This festival was dedicated to Gurumaharaj.

Gurumaharaj was very bubbly and full of smiles, looking in good health and commenting on the devotees He could see. The network connection was not ideal, but Gurumaharaj was present in Durban. The camera focused on the birthday cake and Gurumaharaj said that it smelt nice. Gurumaharaj was happy to see HG Radha prema mataji, who recently underwent an operation.

After the Skype connection ended, HG Krsna Kesava prabhu and HG Nikunja Vilasini mataji read out offerings. Bhoga offerings were brought in and offered whilst bhajana lalasa was sung. We ended with Guruvastakam and guru puja. Devotees were then served sumptuous prasadam.

By now, it was late, but no one wanted to leave. As a God family, we stood around in small groups discussing the day and as a congregation, we enjoyed each other’s association and reflected on Gurumaharaj’s Skype message. We only left when each and every devotee/ visitor partook of prasadam.

The following day, I saw a few disciples at the temple. We were tired, but LokSA is strong and rejuvenated by Vyasa puja. Even then, many devotees hailed Gurumaharaj and His loving demeanour; asking: “when is Maharaj coming? We need another katha and kirtan.”

Ah. Our Dear Gurumaharaj.
Our Dear God family.
The Dear devotees of the Lord.

Srila Prabhupada
really did build a house in which the whole world can live. We know. We are in it. Gurumaharaj negotiated room for us. We need to pay for our lodging with our sadhana. Where, in this day and age do we find such mercy, as is manifested in the guru, because when the spiritual master sees that the devotees are satisfied by eating bhagavat-prasada, he is satisfied. Our continued, eternal Dandavat pranams to the lotus feet of Srila Gurudev, Om Visnupada Lokanatha Swami Maharaj.


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