Recalling the earliest days in Bhubaneswar Sadhu Prabhu explained how Guru Maharaja would daily speak Bhagavat to an audience of devotees who would come from ‘outside’, but sometimes if the weather was bad and it was raining heavily, then the devotees wouldn’t come. So Guru Maharaja wouldn’t speak. Such occasions he would become extremely disappointed. Guru Maharaja would say that ‘today my life has left me ! I haven’t spoken, so I will not take Prasad.’ He would actually fast on those days. If he wouldn’t speak Bhagavat, then he would not eat.
Even in these early days, every morning he would speak Bhagavat and in the evening he would speak from Bhagavad-gita. In these evening classes usually only a few devotees would come, including Kalakantha Prabhu – and during the kirtan Sadhu Prabhu would play khola, even though he knew only one beat !
When Sadhu Prabhu first came to Guru Maharaja only a few devotees were at the temple; Vaisnava dasa, Braja kisore dasa, Yadavendra and Guru Maharaja’s son Abhaya. One time Abhaya, Guru Maharaja’s youngest son from his purvasrama became very sick. Bhagavat Prabhu heard about this and brought, actually carried him to the temple, where he stayed for a year. Years later he also took initiation from His Divine Grace and became Aniruddha dasa.
At that time Bhagavat class was spoken straight after mangala arati. First mangala arati, then hear Bhagavat, then do seva. First hear Bhagavat then do seva.
Every morning Guru Maharaja would wake up at around three, he would lead kirtan and perform arati. Later he would chant japa, do some translation work and then go out for bhiksa, collecting funds for the temple. Others would also go out for collection. Lagudi Prabhu would go into the city and sit outside the legislative buildings, spreading a cloth before himself and with closed eyes do kirtan. People would throw all sorts of items onto his cloth, paise, bidis etc ! He wouldn’t look, just sing with his eyes closed. Then he would gather up his cloth and it’s contents and take it all back to the temple.
Even at this time Nityananda Trayodasi was a big festival. Sadhu remembers how like a bull, with such force Guru Maharaja would sing, do kirtan. He would sing the same bhajans as he did during later festivals, and he remembers specifically Guru Maharaja singing nagare nagare nitai nece nece bhai re.
When Guru Maharaja would go to Mayapur they would put him in the brahmacari ashram, he would be sharing with the brahmacaris. Sadhu Prabhu would organize Prasad for Guru Maharaja. Even here regularly His Divine Grace would receive visits from various Iskcon leaders who would come to ask him questions – Tamal Krishna, Gopal Krishna, Bhakti Caru Swamis and others would come with their notebooks, right down his answers and then leave. But Guru Maharaja was not allowed to give Bhagavatam class at the temple.
Later on – in the mid 1980s at the Bhubaneswar temple some nasty politics was sometimes going on. Though it was Srila Prabhupada’s wish for Guru Maharaja to run the temple there, another person was placed in charge by the GBC. And politics was going on. Sadhu Prabhu was cooking, the deities were eating. Guru Maharaja had asked Sadhu how much money was required by him to cook for the month, ‘1000 rs’. So Guru Maharaja would give the money, and Sadhu Prabhu would cook.
Unfortunately the pujari at the time became unhappy with the simple prasadam he was getting, so one day he decided not to offer the bhoga, rather he would just offer some water and tulasi. When Guru Maharaja found out what had happened, that the deities had not been fed, he cried. From then on the management stopped Sadhu Prabhu from cooking (!). So Sadhu would go out do some bhiksa, and he would cook it, offer it and give it to Guru Maharaja.
From that time he became Guru Maharaja’s cook. Guru Maharaja told Sadhu not to take trouble with his cooking – that he should just put the vegetables in with the dahl and make dalma, rather than cooking so many different preparations. For him, dalma was enough, he would say. But if Sadhu Prabhu would make different preparations to offer, the devotees would eat it, and Guru Maharaja would just taste a little. But so long as dalma and rice were there, he was satisfied. And maybe a little chenna.
When Guru Maharaja developed his ‘illness’ and apparently became quite sick, Sadhu Prabhu would make pomegranate juice for Guru Maharaja as the doctor said it was good for his health. Even though Srila Gurudeva didn’t like it, still Sadhu made sure His Divine Grace would drink it !
One time Guru Maharaja told Sadhu he should never get married. Sadhu replied that he had come to Guru Maharaja only after already deciding that thing – that he would not get married and would just live in the ashram.
Before Sadhu Prabhu came to Guru Maharaja, Guru Maharaja would sometimes go to Sadhu’s village to hold programs there and he would carry the mrdanga with him, but after Sadhu joined His Divine Grace, Guru Maharaja stopped carrying it, ‘now that you are here… it is very heavy, I won’t carry it any more.’ But Sadhu never really understood why.
Also in the beginning a couple of times Guru Ma came to the temple, at the same time her youngest son Abhaya was there. Guru Maharaja saw her out of the corner of his eye and asked Sadhu, ‘Why has she come here ? Send her away and tell her she should never come back here ! I am a sannyasi, what will people say ! Tell Abhaya he should keep her away from this place.’
Sadhu Prabhu explained that there was no question of Guru Ma ever speaking with Guru Maharaja – she could not even come anywhere close to him. So it is not true that she once asked him for initiation.
- Sadhu Prabhu’s remembrances of the early days in Bhubaneswar with Srila Gurudeva
(Originally printed in the Ananda Sambada newsletter)