[Condensed from the report by Dipta Krishna das]
His Divine Grace Om Vishnupada Paramahamsa Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Maharaj placed his divine lotus feet on Mauritius soil at 12:40 a.m. on Tuesday, 19 May, 1998. After sitting for just a few minutes in the V.I.P. lounge, His Divine Grace went outside to meet the hundreds of devotees who had come to welcome him.
Immediately scores of beautiful fresh garlands landed around the neck of His Divine Grace and his associates. Sri B.M. Choudhury, who accompanied Srila Guru Maharaj, exclaimed: "So many people at this late hour!" And Guru Maharaj replied, "This is Mauritius!"
After less than an hour's drive, Srila Guru Maharaj was seated in a brilliant hall at the Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Ashram, where Guru Puja was performed. Seeing so many people waiting to welcome him, Guru Maharaj remarked: "Next time I'll take the 3:00 a.m. plane in this case only, then I shall stay awake all night and you all can rest." What a sacrificing nature!
The next day Srila Guru Maharaj was ready to give darshan from as early as 5:00 a.m. The Mauritian devotees were very fortunate because Guru Maharaj gave very long darshans -- in the morning from 5:30 to 9:00, and in the evening from 4:00 to 6:30.
People from all ranks came to meet Srila Gurudev. On such occasions Guru Maharaj invited questions, especially those that were useful to us. All the assembled devotees listened with rapt attention to his holy, confidential discourses.
Almost every evening, from 7:30 to 9:30, programs were arranged at different localities. The halls were always crowded, and the audiences listened attentively to the sweet lectures of His Divine Grace. At the end of each lecture Srila Guru Maharaj chanted so melodiously and divinely that the sweet kirtans penetrated directly to the hearts of everyone, who would then get up and dance with joy.
A large pandal [tent] that could accommodate hundreds of people was erected for the celebration of Sri Guru Puja. But on the eve and on the day selected for the evening offering of Sri Guru Puja, it so rained heavily that pools of water accumulated upon the pandal. All the devotees were frustrated, but, miraculously, towards the evening the dark clouds disappeared and the sun shone brilliantly. Hundreds of people attended the program, and all crowded into the pandal and lined up to offer flowers at the lotus feet of Srila Gurudev.
|Young and Old Initiated|
Originally some thirty-five devotees wanted to take initiation, but
many others were so impressed by the presence, lectures, and chanting of
Srila Guru Maharaj that the number of new devotees, whose ages ranged from
seven to seventy-eight, more than doubled. Guru Maharaj stressed that
devotees should chant with maximum attention, and that if they avoided the
ten offenses to the Holy Name, they would soon attain perfection in the
service of Sri Sri Radha-Krishna.
On one occasion Srila Guru Maharaj felt terribly sick. He was having difficulty breathing and had lost all energy. A doctor was called immediately and Srila Gurudev was much at ease with him. The next day Gurudev felt that his lungs were so clear that he declared, "I feel like different person!"
To the joy of all, after a proper examination, the doctor revealed that Guru Maharaj's heart was like that of a youth of seventeen. The doctor remarked that every time he visited Guru Maharaj, he himself felt completely relieved! He wished that Srila Guru Maharaj could stay longer so that he could fully recover, and promised His Divine Grace that he will be cured completely during his next visit.
On another occasion, while sitting in the hall of his Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Ashram, Srila Gurudev said, "This hall is unique, and built with prestige." He also observed that first-class materials were used.
His Divine Grace also visited his center in the village of La Flora, in the south of Mauritius. There he remembered: "Last time I came here, the hall was illuminated with earthen lamps, but today this temple looks so bright and beautiful, I wish that there be hundreds of such centers around Mauritius." While there, Srila Guru Maharaj appreciated the little children's recitations of various slokas, and requested that Sanskrit also be taught to them.
On two occasions Guru Maharaj visited some of our local attractions. He very much appreciated the beauty of the island, admiring the scenery and, seeing the sea, he recited several slokas glorifying the ocean. On one of these tours he was taken to a small island where there is a temple with deities of several devas. There Srila Guru Maharaj narrated an incident of a devotee, Govinda Das, who was wholly devoted to Mother Kali.
Govinda Das served Mother Kali with so much love that he could even converse with her. One day Govinda Das was about to die, so he asked Mother Kali to award him mukti [liberation], but Mother Kali said that mukti remains in the hand of Lord Vishnu. Govinda Das then said, "Why didn't you tell me earlier, and why did you keep me in ignorance for so long?"
Mother Kali replied, "Well, I'll try to reinstate the loss. I'll offer you bhakti [devotion to Lord Krishna] and prolong your life." When Govinda Das came to the lotus feet of Sri Krishna, the first song he composed was "Bhajahu re mana Sri Nanda-Nandana abhaya-charanaravinda re" in which he revealed that in vain he had been serving assiduously the materialists who were so miserly that they refused to give him anything in return for his service: "biphale sevinu krpana durajana chapala sukha-laba lagi' re."
During Srila Guru Maharaj's stay, the local devotees had lost track of
days, dates, and time. But finally the terrible moment approached. From the
early hours of the morning, the devotees crowded into the lecture hall. Some
could not control their feelings and broke into tears. At this Guru Maharaj
remarked, "I will leave with an even sadder heart."
Every devotee wished in their heart that something would happen to let their beloved Guru Maharaj stay a little longer, but this time Lord Krishna did not choose to show His mercy in the form of granting that wish. Srila Guru Maharaj also wished he could stay longer, but his "children" in other countries were also waiting for his darshan.
Amidst the anguish and the flowing tears, Guru Maharaj withdrew from our vision and entered the V.I.P. lounge. Then, a few minutes before boarding the plane, Srila Gurudev graciously came out again and showered salutations and blessings on his dear devotees.
Upon my return to the Ashram I went over to his lecture table. Every part of my body felt that Guru Maharaj was still seated there; my inner eyes could see him sitting there, but my fleshy eyes could not. How terrible is the separation from one's beloved Guardian and Guru! Long live Srila Gurudev!
Next Stage: Johannesburg, South Africa.
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