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His Exalted Perspective is All-Embracing

In 2002, Guru Maharaj led Braja Mandala Parikrama. We went to Raman Reti in Gokul Mahavan, one of the twelve forests in Braj. Reti means sand, and raman means pleasure– together it means pleasure giving sand. Krishna and Balaram along with other cowherd boys, (sakhas) performed leisurely plays in this place during their childhood. Today that particular land is being taken care nicely by a mayavadi ashram. They serve prasad free of cost to all the pilgrims.

Upon our arrival there, Guru Maharaj spoke the glories of that place. He said that that was the place where Krishna and Balaram performed many playful pastimes. Therefore, nobody should be morose there– everyone should be laughing and smiling. Guru Maharaj was very blissful there. He laughed very sweetly and made all of us laugh loudly also.

After Harikatha and some playing in the divine sand, the sadhus and sannyasis were invited into the dining room. Everyone else followed after them and sat there in a line ready to take Prasad.

It was my first Braja Mandala Parikrama with Guru Maharaj. My mentality was limited then.

I was thinking, how can we sit with the mayavadis and eat? Mahaprabhu says that one should not even see the face of mayavadis. Now how is it that we are sitting to eat whatever has been cooked and served by them?

I looked around to see that all sannyasis and brahmacharis of our Math were sitting in line waiting for the prasad to be served. I revealed my doubts to some devotees, inquiring from them. They answered that we should follow senior Vaisnavas, and that I should eat because seniors are eating. Yet, I could not accept that somehow from inside.

Shortly after that, I noticed Guru Maharaj was not eating. I thought because he is perfectly situated, he is following the scriptural instructions - not to eat at the place of non-Vaisnavas. Instead of sitting in the line, I stood up and went away. I thought that I should ask Guru Maharaj why other devotees of our Math are eating here.

I saw from a distance that Guru Maharaj was about to enter the car – one of his legs was inside the car and was in a posture of almost entering inside with his back and head bent. Suddenly, a group of foreign devotees surrounded him to ask some questions. I thought I would join them and ask my question, too. When I reached, to my surprise, they were asking the same question I had also intended to ask.

One devotee asked Guru Maharaj, “In Vaisnava scriptures, it is said that we should not associate with mayavadis. If one has to follow to that strictness, why are they sitting and eating here?"

Now, Gurudev drew his leg out of the car with a characteristic smile over his already effulgent face. Srila Gurudev replied spontaneously.

“They are not Mayavadis. They stay in the Vraja, and hence they are Vrajavasis. They are very dear to Supreme Lord. If we are eating here, we are dining with Vrajavasis, not Mayavadis. We are praying to serve Vrajavasis, and they want to give us prasad. What more could we want?”

Guru Maharaj’s reply, his vision and his plane of thought took me to another dimension of Vaishnavism. I got a very sweet feeling that I am under the shelter of such a realized sadhu. A fanatic with an improper understanding of the scriptures would have disapproved that act. I was actually fanatic. My approach lacked the understanding of Gurudeva's and Vaishnava's mood. Yet, the very thought that I am under supreme guidance placed me in a great bliss.

When the other devotees asked why Srila Gurudev was not eating, he clarified his position with a chuckle. “I have some stomach problem, that is why I'm not eating, but they are Vrajavasis.” I then realized I had been observing and attempting to imitate the external behavior of Gurudev falsely. I went there immediately and sat in the line along with other devotees to accept prasad.

Srila Guru Maharaj ki Jai!

Vrajavasi bhakt ki Jai!

Gokul Dham ki Jai!

—Prahlad Das


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