Every morning on the Vrindavan Parikrama Marg at around 10 o’clock a group of excited looking, simply clad devotees emerge after a Katha in the garden at Hit Dham, on the corner after Bhaktivedanta Hospital. Some loiter on the Parikrama Marg to speak to passers-by and invite them for Darshan.
This has been going on for several years and the group is growing. Those who wonder what the mostly yellow and white people are so excited about, only have to listen to Maharaj’s Katha once. The simplicity, the contentment, the love and faith in Vrindavan Dham, the poetry of Braj Shastra, it is all there ready for those who are ready to take part.
For those not acquainted with the Hindi Language, Maharaj’s disciple Shri Hit Rang Biharani Sharan Ji has translated some lectures into English. More and more people from across India are coming to Vrindavan with questions after hearing lectures online.
Maharaj’s katha is filled with simple solutions to help get our minds away from attachment to bodily matters and towards the highest Rasa. It only takes five minutes of listening to a lecture to find something that seems to be handpicked advice, especially for you. Whether the next step in your spiritual journey is to spend more time in Vrindavan, or whether you need more detachment from your body, everyone finds something helpful in Maharaj’s lectures.
To a man from Delhi who asked what to do about his wife’s cancer, Maharaj replied that he doesn’t know the cure for cancer, and only knows that this is part of the cycle of birth and death. What is more important than curing cancer of the body is curing the cancers of maan (value system), otherwise, what is the point of curing physical cancer, then going on to live a life where the burden of sin just goes on increasing?
A short life full of Bhakti and Prem is better than a long life of sin, so focus on cleansing the heart with charanamrita, listening to the nectar of the Lord’s pastimes… We are more focused on curing the ills of the body, but if maan is in a good state then that will keep us on the right track in this life as well as the next.
In order to increase our detachment from the body, Maharaj advises that we think of it as if it were someone else’s body – body is feeling itchy, body wants this…This simple technique does wonders to help stop the identification with the body – instead of identifying with the functions of the body as what I want, we just see them as what the body is doing, not of great concern to us; like an itch in someone else’s body.
Maharaj advises that we can achieve Ahimsa (non-violence) by seeing everyone as ‘apna’ (one of us, a dear one). Especially in Vrindavan, we should see every living being as our child or sister or mother. Otherwise, we will not get the full anand (joy) of living the Dham.
And how can we increase our awareness of the presence of God’s energy around us? Simply see God everywhere – Even inanimate objects are all made with His energy, it is all Him. Every lizard, every dog, look at them and think ‘this is a form of God’. This will bring peacefulness and happiness.
Maharaj Ji advises that the simplest solution and assured means for attaining Prem is taking shelter of Vrindavan Dham and Braj-Raj (Holy Dust).
“Vrindavan is not to be regarded as an ordinary place on earth, or just a religious place but Eternal (चिन्मय), where Divine Lilas of Priya Pritam are happening even today. Vrindavan Dham is fully capable of cleansing us of all sins and showering Priya Lal’s Anupam Ras (अनुपम रस). If we take the shelter of Vrindavan Dham and live our life as per our Guru’s instruction we will undoubtedly attain our true identity (स्वरुप की प्राप्ति).”
According to the biodata on Maharaj’s website vrindavanrasmahima.com Pujya Maharaj Ji was born to a modest and extremely pious (सात्विक) Brahmin (Pandey) family and was named Aniruddh Kumar Pandey. He was born in Akhri Village, Sarsol Block, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh.
His grandfather was a Sanyaasi (सन्यासी) and the overall household environment was deeply devotional, utmost pure and serene. His father Shri Shambu Pandey was a devotional person and accepted Sanyaas (सन्यास) in later years. His mother Shrimati Rama Devi was very pious and had great respect for all saints. Both were regularly engaged in Sant-Seva and various devotional services. His elder brother enhanced the spiritual aura of the family by reciting verses from Srimad Bhagavatam which the entire family would listen to and cherish. The holy household environment intensified the latent spiritual spark concealed within him.
Given this devotional family background, Maharaj Ji began reciting various prayers (चालीसा) at a very young age. When he was in class 5th, he started reading Gita Press Publication, Shri Sukh Sagar.
Leaving home for a life of renunciation at only 13, Maharaj spent several years meditating on Lord Shiva on the banks of the Ganga, between Varanasi and Haridwar. After watching Rasa Lila continually for one month, he became captivated by Radha Krishna’s Pastimes and got the train to Mathura.