Saturday, July 28, 2007

Indradyumna Swami's Sweet Dealings

After the final kirtana ending the final stage show at Kolobrzeg, I followed Maharaja from the stage to the car, as I stashed my computer there. He saw a little girl with tears in her eyes in the front row of the audience, and he stopped to comfort her. He told Dominik who manages the sound booth that the tune he played for the festival breakdown was too melancholy and asked him to change it. Then the pair of girls promising to see us at Woodstock came by to have their picture taken with Maharaja.

Indradyumna Swami arrived at the base for the Laksmi-Nrsimha Traveling Festival in Poland sometime around 9:00 p.m. I noticed the stairway to his room was a mess, so I swept it and missed his arrival speech. The devotees say he talked about Lord Caitanya’s mission.

He did not have any toothpaste and his servant told him I had some Neem toothpaste from India which he apparently really likes. I used to opportunity of giving him the toothpaste to briefly greet him. He thanked me and said it was the best gift I had ever given him. This was certainly a surprising thing to hear as toothpaste struck me as insignificant, and it made me laugh. And then he said something really special. “The best gift is not the thing with the most value, but the thing that is actually needed.” And then for him it was the toothpaste.
He asked about my Mom, and I said she was at a yearly Quaker gathering. He said something about her being an educated lady and me getting that quality from her. I told him she had written about him, “My regards to the Impresario.” And I explained that “impresario” meant a flamboyant director of an entertainment extravaganza and that she had seen the videos of the Polish tour which she liked.
Maharaja was pleased I came on time as he had requested, the day his organizers had recommended.

Because of cold, wet weather for days, on the Kolobrzeg harinama, Indradyumna Swami forbade those wearing only sandals from going out of fear they would get sick. A very few stayed in the bus honoring his will, but a lot of us went out anyway, rascals as we were. I had an umbrella and wore socks with my sandals, so I considered that was good enough to protect me from the cold and wet. I stood at the back so Maharaja would not see I didn’t have shoes, but I got caught anyway. He wasn’t too heavy about it, when I told him my excuse.
I was impressed with Indradyumna Swami’s enthusiasm to go on despite the miserable weather and equally impressed with the surrender of the other devotees. Some of the ladies’ saris got so soaked they stood near to our festival’s diesel generator using the heat to dry their clothes. Some wrang the water out of their socks before drying them, and as much water came out of them, as if they had washed them. I was lucky, avoiding puddles till the end, when trying to distribute some final invitations, I stepped in one. My umbrella kept my clothes from getting wet.

One morning Indradyumna Swami asked if anybody wanted to give class as he had deadlines for organizing festivals in other parts of the world and a parikrama in Vrindavan, Mayapur, and Jagannath Puri. No one volunteered for some time. Then I raised my hand and said I would do it if no one else would. He was pleased and praised the willingness to give a class at short notice as the quality of a brahmana. Just as ksatriyas never miss a chance for a righteous battle, vaisyas will always protect the cows, and sudras are always willing to do their handicrafts, a true brahmana is always eager to preach.

One night after returning from a festival I was sitting on the stairs in the school that was our base, inserting a piece of cheese into a sandwich my friend Braja Kisora gave me. Indradyumna Swami came by and motioned for me to give him some cheese and bread, and I removed the top piece of bread from the sandwich and wrapped the cheese in it and gave it to him. It was an amusing scene and an unexpected opportunity to serve him. I told Braja Kisora what happened so he could tell his wife that Indradyumna Swami had eaten some of the sandwich she made.

I was walking around with an umbrella in the rain as one of our shows in Miedzyzdroje ended, when Mathuranatha Prabhu, who is one of Indradyumna Swami’s personal servants, tipped me off to the fact that Indradyumna Swami did not have an umbrella, and had to walk from the stage to his car. Thus I got to serve Maharaja with my umbrella.

At the last festival in Miedzyzdroje, I got some flyers out of Maharaja’s car to distribute. Maharaja saw me and asked how many there were. I described a six-inch stack of them, and he said I should get two or three devotees to help me and pass them all out. I found about six devotees willing to help, and we found many people still were unaware of the festival. I felt victorious to help out in this way.

Indradyumna Swami arranged to greet Trivikrama Swami with kirtana, foot bath, offering of flowers and guru puja, as is his standard for his guru and sannyasi godbrothers visiting the tour. For me it is very powerful demonstration of his desire to cooperate with his Godbrothers and please Srila Prabhupada.

Nice points made at Indrasyumna Swami’s festival lecture:
Gandhi said you can judge a country by how they treat their animals.
When you associate with a happy person, your distress is minimized. Thus is not surprising that when we associate with God, who is the happiest person, as we do by chanting His holy name, we also become happy.