„I will see you again in autumn, Maharaja!“. „Yes, if Krishna’s willing!“ During the four months I had Maharaja`s association I heard him say this many times. Whenever devotees left Vrindavana Maharaja would request them to come back soon, but then also added that he might not be around anymore by that time. Maharaja was aware that having 4th stage cancer means there is little chance in prolonging life too much.
Gunagrahi das Goswami, who joined ISKCON in Bufalo,NY in1969 and preached Krishna Consciousness for almost a half-century, came here to Vrindanvana in August 2016 to go through some medical treatment, but mainly to get ready for his final test. The daily kirtanas in Giriraja Maharaja’s house, where Maharaja was staying, soon developed to a very wonderful and popular kirtana community. Disciples, friends of Maharaja, local kirtanyas as well as visiting guests from all over the world would gather every evening to sing the Holy Names of Krishna.
I was very fortunate to be able to stay in an apartment which is located just opposite the room where the kirtanas were being held. After a whole day of studying the Bhagavatam, I would go almost every evening to the kirtanas there. I loved the wonderful atmosphere that was created by Maharaja and his disciples. I felt that the chanting in this Kirtana Sanga was very unique. Devotees came together not just to sing and have a good time, but chanted as a service, to give support to Maharaja.
But actually, it was he who gave life to us! I was deeply touched by Maharaja’s kindness, care, love he gave to everyone who came to these kirtanas and how he expressed his gratitude and humility. What impressed me the most was how absorbed he was, how he was relishing the kirtanas, how he got pleasure seeing the devotees chanting and dancing in front of Goverdhan-Dhari!
By his example, Maharaja practically showed us what real success in life means - to chant the holy names, be fully absorbed and remember Krishna at the time of death.
Prabhupada emphazised deep chanting and warned us, that chanting like a parrot will not help: Ante narayana-smriti[SB 2.1.6]. That is the success of life. Somehow or other, if one can remember Narayana, Krishna, that is success of life. The... In Bengal there is a proverb: bhajana kara, püjäna kara, martye janle haya. Your devotional service will be tested at the time of death. Because yam yam vapi smaram loke tyajaty ante kalevaram [Bg. 8.6]. At the time of death, if we can remember Krishna, narayana-smriti, that is all success. The practice of devotional service means so that we may be so accustomed to chanting Hare Krishna mantra that at the time of death we may remember it. Otherwise... Not like parrot. The parrot also imitates chanting. But when the cat catches, he does not say "Hare Krishna." He says [imitates parrot sound], "kanh, kanh." So not that kind of... We should be accustomed to chant Hare Krishna that whenever the death point is there, he would chant "Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna." Then that is success. So practice means to remember. Sada tad-bhava-bhavitah [Bg. 8.6]. If we practice always thinking of Krishna, naturally, at the time of danger, we shall chant HareKrishna.
Maharaja was very much aware of this principles and chanted for many months before his glorious departure in the holy Dhama surrounded by his Godbrothers and disciples. I am very grateful that I came to know Maharaja, although just at the very end of his life, but he left a deep impression in my heart. I will always remember his loving smile and the lesson he taught us by his own example: `Don`t chant like a parrot, that will not help you at the time of death, Chant deeply absorbed! `
1 - Lecture The Nectar of Devotion - November 14, 1972, Vrindavana