Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
|Third Visit to South Africa|
[Condensed from the report by Krishnendu das]
May 31st, 1998 was the happiest day for all the devotees in South Africa: we were blessed by the arrival of His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Maharaj in Johannesburg. His third visit to South Africa had finally become a reality!
On June 4th, Srila Govinda Maharaj arrived in Durban. Most of the devotees from Durban and Pietermaritzburg took time off work to meet His Divine Grace at the Durban International Airport. Everybody was excited to see Guru Maharaj and his servitor, Rasabdhi Das Brahmachari Prabhu, accompanied by his Holiness Sripad Sagar Maharaj, Yudhamanyu Seva Vikram Prabhu, Chidananda Prabhu, and a Mr. Chowdry Prabhu. As expected, Srila Guru Maharaj and his entourage were welcomed in the V.I.P. lounge of the airport. After a rousing kirtan, Srila Guru Maharaj was taken to Rshabadev Prabhu's house.
|New Temple Ceremony|
On Sunday, June 7th, we accompanied Srila Govinda Maharaj and his
entourage from Durban to begin the Pietermaritzburg stage of the Tour. This
was an important day for all the devotees here, for Srila Govinda Maharaj was
to visit the Temple that we were building here in Pietermaritzburg with
Bhuvan Pavan Prabhu. A large public program attended by about 150 people was
held at the Temple site. The devotees made all the necessary arrangements for
a havan [fire sacrifice], which was conducted by Srila Govinda Maharaj,
assisted by Sripad Sagar Maharaj.
To ensure the success of the havan, Srila Maharaj sometimes asked Sripad Sagar Maharaj repeat the Sanskrit prayer if it was not chanted properly. As it was a hot day, some of the devotees took turns in fanning Srila Govinda Maharaj and holding an umbrella above his head.
Two devotees from Pietermaritzburg and one from Margate received Harinam initiation from Srila Govinda Maharaj. After the program Srila Govinda Maharaj proceeded to Bhuvan Pavan Prabhu's house. The Pietermaritzburg devotees once again used their catering skills to serve the public a delicious Prasadam meal. Srila Maharaj arrived later for a meeting with all the devotees. It was at that meeting that Maharaj decided on having three centers in South Africa: a Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math in Durban, Pietermaritzburg, and Johannesburg. Afterwards Srila Maharaj left for a radio interview. All the devotees sat and listened attentively to Maharaj's lecture and his answers to all the questions posed to him. When he sang "Jay Radha Madhava," the melodious voice of Srila Govinda Maharaj captured everybody's heart.
|Temple Construction Progress|
After breakfast the next morning, Srila Govinda Maharaj proceeded to
the Temple Site and Crèche. The children at "Krishna's Play Center"
welcomed Srila Govinda Maharaj by throwing flowers at his lotus feet. They
all greeted him by saying "Hare Krishna." Srila Govinda Maharaj sat and spoke
to the children and they began reciting some nursery rhymes for his listening
pleasure. The ever joyful Rasabdhi Prabhu taught the children to recite the
Srila Govinda Maharaj was very pleased with the progress of the Temple. Maharaj walked through the Temple and around the Temple site. When Maharaj visited South Africa for the first time, there were no Temple buildings erected. His second visit saw the completed crèche. His third visit saw the near completion of the Temple. All the Pietermaritzburg devotees are confident that Srila Govinda Maharaj will be back in Pietermaritzburg very shortly to officially open the Temple.
On Tuesday, June 9th, we took Srila Govinda Maharaj to see our local tourist attraction, the Lion Park. Later that evening, His Divine Grace delivered a lecture at one ot the many Hindu Temples here. The public joined in singing a kirtan by Srila Govinda Maharaj. Everybody was impressed by the humbleness of Srila Guru Maharaj.
The next day we took Srila Maharaj to see another tourist attraction, the Howick Falls, about twelve miles from Pietermaritzburg. The rest of the afternoon was free for Maharaj.
Srila Govinda Maharaj was always available for darshan; his room was always filled with devotees and friends eager to hear his discourses. On Thursday Maharaj and his entourage returned to Durban.
Friday, June 12th, was the saddest day for all the devotees in South Africa -- Srila Govinda Maharaj was leaving. All the devotees sat with Maharaj at the Durban Airport. All too soon, it was time for him to go. Amidst hugging and tears, and final good-byes, His Divine Grace Srila Govinda Maharaj left South Africa.
Previous Stage: Durban, South Africa.
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