Let it Begin #5: Close Encounters of the Mahatma Kind

by Bhatka-Chris

Srila Prabhupada relates from the Nectar of Devotion that a moment’s association with a pure devotee brings feelings of such bliss and realization that have no comparison with anything material or mundane. It is this pure association, with Krsna’s dear most servants, and with Krsna Himself, that is the locus point of motivation for all service that we perform.

For many odd reasons I cannot even fathom, Krsna has provided me, just another American kid full of lust, dust, and bones, with rare moments of association with some of Prabhupada’s most powerful servants. But, there usually is a catch, some way I fumble the football. I met Bhatka-Tirtha Maharaja some years ago in Detroit, and the only thing I can remember from our conversation is the beautiful jewel of his smile and his asking about my girlfriend at the time without me even saying I was in a relationship. Oh, how I wish I could remember the rest of the conversation!! The first time I was ever at New Vrindavan, for the Govardhan Puja festival, I fell asleep ten feet in front of Radhanath Maharaja for most of his loving and rich telling of the Govardhan Hill pastime, and also, along with the other devotees I was traveling with, received his blessings just before we began a long night’s drive back to Michigan. We thought…oh, how auspicious! I then proceeded to get into an accident on the freeway a half-hour later. Anyone who has ever seen the car His Grace Purusa-Sukta Das drives…well, that big dent on the back is my fault.

Most recently, I was at New Vrindavan for the 2006 Festival of Inspiration (FOI). Being there for the week before the FOI even began, I got a real good, intense taste of where my service attitude was at. And where it was at was a lot of internal complaining of not wanting to spend time in the kitchen, and basically more complaining of how I thought this was going to be a vacation. Anyone who is anyone knows that being absorbed in the service prep for the FOI is no vacation, at least on any mundane level.

So, I adjusted as quickly as I could through my own difficulties, trying to subtly and not-so-subtly beat my whining inner child into submission. As the FOI drew nearer, what needed to be done grew to a fever pitch. In between one service and another, I joined our favorite mrdanga wizard Balarama Chandra Das for a quick jaunt up to Rupa-Nuga’s house to fill up about five or six big water jugs. That day was grey and wet, so we got the jugs filled up with wet, we got wet, and we jumped back into the Civic to roll downhill to the Temple.

We spied a curious sight as we drove in. A certain brave devotee with an umbrella was out for a japa-walk. Balarama pulled the car up next to this devotee, as we asked him if he needed a ride. The shining face of HH Sacinandana Maharaja responded in the affirmative to our reply. Now, at this point, I really had no idea who Maharaja was, and I sat in the front seat and looked back at the back seat filled with jugs and other junk, I wondered how this poor devotee was going to fit in the backseat. As I refused and delayed to move, Balarama, always a model of equipoise, began to ask, then demand, and then push me with great desperation out of the front seat so Maharaja, who was still shining, could come out of the rain. I eventually picked up the football I had fumbled and squeezed myself into the backseat, and Maharaja graciously took our quarter-mile ride back to his cabin.

When we got there, we were instantly invited in to take darshan of his Deities, despite the temporary hassle I had caused him. His Deities had the most beautiful, translucent color of blue I had ever seen. And what loving and lifelike detail! That color of blue, straight from Vaikuntha, is branded onto the fine tissues of my mind. As we left, Maharaja asked me my name, and he told me I was of a “Nectarine” quality. I didn’t quite catch that, so I
responded with a typical Sicilian and brusque”Huh?!” Maharaja, with even more enthusiasm, told me once again I was “Nectarine” I thanked him, and ran off back into the rain and the service with Balarama.

I still don’t believe I am anything resembling “Nectarine.” Maybe more like some stale orange juice…but to any senior devotee reading this, beware of Bhatka-Chris, who is prone to making a fool out of himself at the drop of a hat, and who will test your unlimited patience, and who will allow you to exhibit that patience in a way that would make Prabhupada very happy.

Information and Links

Join the fray by commenting, tracking what others have to say, or linking to it from your blog.

Reader Comments

Sorry, comments are closed.