Posted January 5, 2009
30 Dec. 08 Report from Bhakti Caru Maharaja
Yesterday late morning, I came to Bombay, and went to see Jayapataka Maharaja in the afternoon. Bhakti Purushottama Maharaja, Braja Hari prabhu and Sunil Madhav from Chicago, came along with me. While driving to the hospital, I was feeling quite depressed. Just to think of the person who used to be so full of strength and vitality lying on bed in this condition is naturally painful.
I was remembering those early days in Mayapur - going to swim in the Ganges with him. With steady, powerful strokes he used to casually swim across that river. So many incidences flashed across my mind - once Radha Jivan lost his breath in the middle of the river and panicked and started to cry out for help, and Jayapataka Maharaja came to his rescue and carried him to the shore. Guru Kripa, (at that time a Swami), used to come to Mayapur with his tough group of devotees, called the Nama Hatta, from Japan. Often we used to sport on the bank of the Ganges. One day I was forced to wrestle with one tough American devotee who defeated me and it was seen as a defeat of Mayapur. Jayapataka Maharaja could not tolerate that. He just stood up and challenged anyone from that group to fight with him. A devotee who was equal to his size accepted his challenge and they started to fight. After a little struggle, Maharaja pin him to the ground and started to slam him again and again on the mud. We all, Mayapur devotees, felt that this was our victory in response to my embarrassing defeat. Once we got a false alarm that the Muslims attacked our Goshala and we all ran towards the Goshala with sticks and spears to protect our cows and on the head of our group was Jayapataka Maharaja. Once someone brought a crossbow from America and we used to practice occasionally with that. Jayapataka Maharaja would always hit the bull's eye without fail. He disclosed that he used to be a champion shooter in his early days.
When we arrived in the hospital, we were informed that Maharaja was still taking rest. So we decided to go to the ISKCON temple in Mira Road and have darshan of Sri Sri Radha Giridhari and Jagannatha-Baladeva-Subhadra. When we came back, Maharaja was awake and greeted us with a happy smile.
There was a big difference between my last visit to him and this one. Although he lost a lot of weight he seemed to be doing extremely well. He was obviously happy to see us. With a big smile he started to speak, "Bhakti Charu Maharaja ordered me to stay. How could I disobey his order? Therefore, I am still here." Everyone began to laugh. I corrected him, "No, I did not order you to stay but I begged you to stay. The devotees were praying for you all over the world. Thank you very much for listening to our appeals." He folded his hands and said, "The devotees are very kind. They are very merciful. I will do whatever Krishna wants."
I told him that I heard that the day before he went to Sri Sri Radha Giridhari temple and led a kirtan. He said, "Yes. For about five minutes I led the kirtan." Then he started to sing, "jaya Jagannatha, jaya Jagannathi." In order to show us how he led the kirtan. I told him that in a few days he would also be dancing while leading the kirtan. He laughed loudly and said, "Let us see what Krishna wants."
Just by being with him, the sadness that was prevailing in my heart disappeared and the whole mood became very jovial. I told him, "Let us go for a walk", and he told me that he started to walk holding on to the parallel bars. One of the devotees who were taking care of him told me that he was almost running this morning. He mentioned how these physiotherapists are really making him work hard. They ask him to stand up and sit down or walk. But then he admitted that their treatment was very good and it is working. One therapist is teaching him how to close his eyes and move his eyebrows. Then he mentioned that even such simple things became so difficult to do at times, as if he is learning everything from the beginning. I reassured him that the way his condition is improving, very soon he will become alright again.
He is having difficulties to move his right hand and right leg. The devotees helped him to sit on a chair and he seemed a lot more expressive and joyful being in that position. He remembered that when he was in the Hinduja hospital, I was singing some bhajan and he thanked me for that. I was surprised that he could remember that because we were under the impression that he was completely unconscious at that time. I told him that his consciousness seems to be so clear and his memory so vivid. He agreed that with his mind he doesn't have any difficulty. He has difficulty only with his body. I felt very confident that his body would also become alright within a short time. I remembered Badrinarayan Prabhu's comment, "It seems that Jayapataka Maharaja is an irresistible force of nature that can never be stopped." I remembered those Kshatriya warriors of the Vedic times who would be injured almost to the point of death, but then in a flash, they would recover from that injury and start to fight again as if nothing happened to them.
He mentioned that Sivarama Maharaja phoned him yesterday and how much he enjoyed talking to him. He feels very happy when senior devotees phone him or visit him.
Gopala Krishna Maharaja called and he told him that we were there with him and what a wonderful time he was having with us. A little after that, Guru Prasad Maharaja called from Mexico and Maharaja told him the same thing.
I told him that he should get well quick and go to Mayapur. All these years he had been traveling around the world. Now he should just stay in Mayapur and let the devotees from around the world come and see him. This is how due to so many devotees involvement Mayapur is going to develop. He accepted that proposal. One of his disciples who is taking care of him jokingly mentioned that he has a ticket from Bombay to Kolkata, which will expire if he did not use it within a certain time. We all started to laugh and Maharaja also started to laugh. We expressed our concern that he would have difficulty going to him room on the roof of the Lotus Building. Bhakti Purushottama Maharaja suggested that he could stay on the ground floor of the Conch Building. I reminded him that if he had to stay in the Conch Building, then did not have to stay in the ground floor. He could rather stay in my room because there he could go by the elevator. Maharaja jokingly reminded us that still he will have to climb half the flight of stairs because the lifts there do not go to the landing of the floors. We assured him that we could carry him in a palanquin. He accepted that idea.
Many devotees were waiting outside for Maharaja's darshan. Therefore, after spending about two hours with him, we left.
Bhakti Raghava Maharaja, who had been suspected to have a contagious disease called Chicken Guinea, was also in the Bhaktivedanta hospital, in a room opposite to Maharaja's. So, we went to see him. [note from Chakra's editors, please see the CDC fact sheet on chikungunya posted on Chakra here]
Maharaja was sitting on a chair in front of his deities, chanting. When I tried to embrace him, Maharaja tried to resist because of his infection. But I insisted, saying, "I touch you to get purified myself." Maharaja looked very embarrassed and kept on saying, "please, please."
I met him after many, many years. We remembered the early days in Mayapur. We used to be so close and rendered so many services together.
His condition is much better now. In a couple of days he will be discharged
from the hospital. He has many preaching projects developing in different
parts of India, and he told us how he was going to spend time in different
places and eventualy come to Mayapur for the GBC meeting.