Few days before the launch of the ‘journey Home’, devotees and well-wishers from all over the world were excited. Resident monks and members of the ashram in Mumbai, where Radhanath Swami was staying during this period, were particularly keen that he speaks from his book in his usual weekly classes. However in none of the programmes that were building up for the book launch did Radhanath Swami mention about ‘Journey Home’. As we were intrigued by his silence on the book, we also got desperate to hear him speak some stories from his autobiography. During this period, one evening Radhanath Swami was scheduled to address over two thousand youth at a spiritual festival. A few of us decided to meet Radhanath Swami before his lecture and request him to speak from his book. He patiently heard our appeals, but said he feels shy to speak about himself. We insisted this would be a great source of inspiration and joy for all the assembled guests and devotees. Taking pity on us, Radhanath Swami reluctantly agreed to speak a little bit, provided some participants asked questions indirectly referring to the book. He insisted he wouldn’t on his own take the initiative to speak from ‘Journey Home’.
As the lecture began the hall was pregnant with anticipation of stories; none however came out. Finally, the master of ceremonies, Gauranga dasa asked the two thousand plus audience if they would all like to hear from ‘Journey Home’. As the crowd roared in unison, expectations rose. However Radhanath Swami continued to enthral the audience with his discourse, without speaking anything from his autobiography. Finally Gaur Gopal dasa and I decided upon a trick; we selected fifteen students from the crowd and fixed questions indirectly referring to incidents from the book. Soon the boys fired questions on ‘Naga Babas’, ‘Mother Ganges’, and myriad gurus. With each question the hall reverberated with laughter as it was now obvious to all that Radhanath Swami was being cornered and forced to speak on ‘journey Home’. However in all humility and with a straight face Radhanath Swami replied on the merit of each question, without once referring to the book. Although the class was ecstatic as usual, a few of us were simultaneously disappointed that he hadn’t spoken any story from his autobiography.
Later at night, after the programme, Radhanath Swami came to the ashram and relaxed; many monks including myself gathered excitedly around him. He then began to narrate in graphic detail the various stories and events related to ‘Journey Home’. He also profusely apologized to the devotees that he hadn’t spoken from the book during the class. “I am sorry”, said Radhanath Swami, “I feel very shy to speak about myself and my book. You tried your best, but I refused. I am really sorry.”
It’s amazing that Radhanath Swami hadn’t spoken most of these stories for all these forty plus years. And if ‘Journey Home’ hadn’t been out, the world would have forever been bereft of his realizations. He went through a plethora of strong spiritual impressions and unforgettable experiences as he came to India searching for God. And only because his friend, Bhakti Tirtha Swami insisted and took a promise from him, Radhanath Swami has finally told the story to the world.
Having known Radhanath Swami and observed him closely, I am convinced that his present tour for the ‘Journey Home’ book launch is with reluctance. He wants to share his story because he is convinced that’s not his story but the story of God’s grace. This is also an exhibition of his magnanimous heart; he wants to selflessly share the wealth of his heart with the whole world. Personally he remains ever humble and shy.
This is a genuine quality of a spiritual seeker. He is naturally humble and shy to speak about himself; he is always enthusiastic and keen to glorify God and other devotees. That’s Radhanath Swami for you- reluctant to share his story but enthusiastic to glorify and appreciate others.