From the moment I had woken up at 3:30 in the morning, I was an engine revving to go. Go, go, go! Go to Mangal Arati, go to the Mayapur Academy, go practice, go chant, go! Get everything done so that I could go hear my guru speak tonight.
Radhanath Swami had been here in Mayapur for almost a week, speaking every night to 4,000 people on the glories of Lord Chaitanya. Even though the pandal where he was speaking was only a couple hundred meters from where I was studying, I had not yet had time to spend one full night to listen. I was just so, so busy.
But tonight would be different. I was scheduling my day meticulously to leave school on time. Not only that, I was going to sit up at the very, very front and look at Maharaj’s (Radhanath Swami is affectionately addressed by his followers as Radhanath Maharaj) face the entire time!
Night fell. Despite my planning, I was still at school. Still practicing for my exam.
The lecture had begun. The pandal was so close by the Academy that I could hear the echoes of the microphone as Maharaj spoke. I felt spikes of pain to be so close yet so far. My hopes from the whole day crashed around me.
And yet at the same time, I knew that by being here, studying for Krishna, that was what Radhanath Swami himself would’ve wanted of me.
So I stayed.
Later that night, I was walking home from dinner with my friend Jahnava. We were turning a corner on the road when I saw up ahead a figure in orange, walking by himself, his orange cloth lit up by a streetlight behind him. At first I thought he was a brahmachari.
Then I looked again.
“Oh my, Maharaj!” I exclaimed. I immediately knelt to the dust to offer my respects. Jahnava also knelt.
By the time I had stood up, Maharaj had walked up to both of us, his eyes shining, his face beaming.
“Bhakti lata devi!” he said and looked into my eyes. “I have been yearning to see you.”
I was speechless for a moment. “Maharaj… I… I’ve been yearning to see you!”
He was quiet for a moment, smiling, then he turned to Jahnava and asked, “What is your name?”
“Jahnava,” she replied.
“Beautiful,” he said, holding her gaze for several moments. He turned to me again and was quiet. Then, as if he had all the time in the world, he asked me gently, “How are you?”
“I am very well, Maharaj,” I said, and I was thinking I would just end it there. After all, this was someone who only an hour before had been speaking to 4,000 people. Surely he had other things to do, other people to talk to. But I found no such mood of rush in Maharaj’s face or his voice. He simply wanted to know how I was.
And so I shared with Maharaj a little about Mayapur Academy, and we spoke about how to learn the essence of every ritual we do. He said that he may come to my graduation in March to hand students their diplomas. “I may hand you yours,” Maharaj said with a smile.
Then we folded our palms and bid each other goodbye and goodnight.
Jahnava and I continued to walk home, and my eyes were wide and shining.
The holy land of Mayapur seems to grant wishes.
This post originally appeared here