This booklet of short stories is a Vyasa-puja offering to a dear godbrother, His Holiness Giriraj Swami, who selflessly gave his every life breath to serving Srila Prabhupada’s instruction by building this grand Sri Sri Radha-Rasabihariji Temple complex, thereby helping Srila Prabhupada to save the spiritual lives of millions of persons from Bombay and abroad.
Recently I heard some devotees remarking that nowadays Giriraj Maharaja is manifesting symptoms of being very advanced, such as whatever he desires, whether it is for good of ISKCON, or for the good of his own disciples, or even for the good of humanity, Sri Krishna fulfills that desire. This remark made me reflect back over the years, and I considered whether there actually was ever a time that Giriraj Maharaja was not acting on the pure-devotee platform. With his mind cemented on the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada, he was always completely detached from worldly affairs and the bodily concept of life. Though detached from family and former friends, he was at the same time congenial to them and a genuine well-wisher. He was always completely surrendered to Srila Prabhupada and could understand, and thus execute, his innermost desires for managing the temple, the devotees, and for preaching in Bombay and around the world. He was always a humble servant of his senior sannyasi godbrothers, offering all respect and giving them assistance in so many ways whenever they came to Hare Krishna Land. He was always expert and a perfectionist in everything he did.
One of the symptoms of someone on the brahma-bhuta platform is that he is completely fearless. Giriraj Maharaja exhibited this many times, especially during the temple demolition and the famous Malhotra murder case—and other times as well. His manifestation of fearlessness is quite astounding to an ordinary individual.
As I recollect back over the years on my association with Giriraj Maharaja, I see that there are many experiences which can be instructive, and therefore I would like to share them with you. As I was his secretary for many years, we went through many pastimes together, though not exactly “together,” because I was always on the ground looking up at the lotus feet of a person totally in tune with Srila Prabhupada’s heart. Really I have no qualification to glorify such an exalted devotee, but I hope that these words of appreciation will inspire some of you to take shelter of His Holiness Giriraj Swami Maharaja.
The Boston Temple Commander
My first introduction to Giriraj Maharaja was even before I ever met him personally. When I was in the Boston temple in 1972, the devotees there told me about this wonderful brahmacari who had been the temple commander. He used to work so hard all day—personally doing much of the temple service plus going out on sankirtana, supervising temple activities, and engaging devotees in service—that even until late at night, sometimes at 11:00 p.m., he was just then trying to chant his Gayatri mantras.
Though he had left Boston in 1970 to join Srila Prabhupada in India, the Boston devotees could not stop talking about him and his wonderful qualities.
I came to India in 1973, during the time when Giriraj Maharaja was in America for a few months because of illness. When he finally returned to India, I was told that I would be his secretary. Really I just wanted to go back to America in those days, and I started begging Tamal Krishna Maharaja to allow me to return.
But he simply told me, “Just look at Giriraj! Look at his beautiful eyes! He has such beautiful eyes. He is so pure and innocent. If you just stay here and serve him, you will become purified.” So I thought, “Yes, that’s what I want! I really want to become purified.” So in this way Tamal Krishna Maharaja was able to convince me to stay in India and become Giriraj Maharaja’s secretary.