Diving into the Yamuna River
I had fallen in love with a black and white image of Shri Maharaj Ji seven years prior to meeting him, so you can imagine the thirst, the hunger, the desire to meet him had been swelling in my heart for so long, and so it was like a dam bursting!
Being the videographer meant that I had to be up front and so when Shri Maharaj Ji would go into bhava I was right there. If he started dancing hari bol – which I had never seen before in my life – I would be right there. In fact, on one occasion I had to shout to the circle standing around him to let me in, leaving just Shri Maharaj Ji and myself within it. He was dancing in ecstasy while men stood in a circle around us carrying pillows in case he fell unconscious to the hard floor. I got so close to him. All I can say is that he seemed to shower grace, his smile, his warmth and his love.
Shri Maharaj Ji’s mother was still alive too. She was 106 years old. I had the good fortune of doing pranam to her a number of times. She would be on her bed and they would bring her and sit her by the gate. Every day Shri Maharaj Ji would walk from his house, past where the hospital is now, and continue almost to the school he attended as a child, and then walk back. He used to carry a walking stick with him and the rhythm and cadence with which he would flick that stick was so captivating. Little village children, maybe 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, or 8 years of age would follow behind him like the Pied Piper calling out, “Jaya Shri Maharaj Ji ki jaya!”
Down the middle of Mangarh you could have cows, sheep and goats walking. It was an absolutely sparse little village at that time, though Shri Maharaj Ji’s house was something to behold even then. In the afternoons he would write aerograms. He would be given a stack of them to read which he always did in one sitting. Putting them to one side, he would then be given the envelopes that had the names on them for his reply, and in his own hand, he would write to them all individually.
Shri Maharaj Ji used to come to our room every day. Sometimes he would sit outside with us on the concrete roof and use me like a backrest. I would be sitting facing the other direction and he would lean up against me. Wool winding was another extraordinary thing that we did. We used sit on the cold concrete floor of his angan until at least 10.30pm, trying to get the knots out of the wool. Shri Maharaj Ji would grab this knotted wool and at great pace untangle it and then throw it back to you. It was like a huge family. It was really, really inclusive. It was spontaneous and natural; very beautiful and welcoming.
So for me everything grew and nothing diminished. He was fabulous! You just couldn’t take your eyes of him, and you didn’t know what he would do next. No one could get to the depth of him. Those four months of my first visit were the most formative four months of my life. Shri Maharaj Ji maintained a wonderful balance between playfulness and extraordinary depth and knowledge. He was Jagadguruttam, and yet he was so playful and joyful! You always felt like you wanted to run with your arms open to embrace him, and dive into the Yamuna River that was Shri Maharaj Ji.
He graciously threw open the doors of his heart and ashram to us. Westerners are now very much an integral part of the fabric of Shri Maharaj Ji’s teaching and mission in the world. But back then we were just as much a novelty to the Mangarhvasis as they were to us. Shri Maharaj Ji took such care of us. He had us sitting up the front in the sadhana hall because he knew that we had come long distances; he knew that we had trouble sitting cross-legged on the floor and he knew that the food was a challenge for us, etc. And when it came to communication, Shri Maharaj Ji made up for our deficiency by showering his presence. He was and still is the conductor, you just have to open your heart and mind and he won't hold anything back.
The author first heard about Shri Maharaj Ji while living in New Zealand in 1975. As he looks back at his life since that most auspicious day of first meeting Shri Maharaj Ji, he shakes his head in wonderment. For him the meaning of the word ‘Grace’ has revealed its face; it is none other than our very own Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj.
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