“What I experienced at that time of meeting Maharaji, in fact, within those first few minutes of meeting him was the experience of surrender which was no surrender. In other words, I didn’t begrudgingly give up my ego. It was as if I came home to the place where I no longer needed it.”~ Ram Dass
While the legendary Hindu Maharaj-ji passed away before my time, I’ve been lucky to have had candid conversations with some of his devotees including Krishna Das, Jai Uttal, Lama Surya Das and Rameshwar Das.
Through these conversations, I’ve felt like I’ve come to experience Maharaj-ji in a way that’s deeper than that of just words written in a book about him. The following are two stories that were shared with me by legendary Kirtan musicians Krishna Das and Jai Uttal about Maharaj-ji.
While speaking with Krishna Das, I asked him, “What is one of the most beautiful experiences you’ve ever had?” to which he replied:
“I was in a temple in India on June 15th and 16th of 1995 and it was the celebration, or bandhara, of their opening.
There were tens of thousands of people coming to take a meal (or Prasad) offering from the temple. I was in a very bad psychological state previous to this but during those two days, Maharaj-ji lifted me into a completely different state of consciousness.
It was as if he had drawn the curtains completely open on the stage of life and I experienced a completely transcendent vision of the way things are. He showed me what one of his greatest devotees, Siddhi Ma, called his “Big Form”, or his Universal Form, and that was an absolutely life changing moment.
It changed everything for me after that.
It was as if everything went from black and white to color. It was if life was no longer happening to me, but was now happening within me. As long as I was in the experience, which lasted over nine months, I was able to see the real state of the Self and the Universe.
It gave my heart a true vision of what life is all about, and what our place in the Universe is. It showed me the canvas on which life is painted. It awakened a real faith in me, about what is.”
~ Krishna Das
In speaking with Jai Uttal, I asked him, “What is one of the most defining moments in your life?” and his response was:
“One of my very defining life moments was recognizing that I was already defined, I just didn’t know it—and whatever conclusions I might have from that definition are still pretty mind created, yet in my heart and soul, that moment was, and is, still huge.
It was in 1971, and I had already met Neem Karoli Baba but I was at a point in my life where I wasn’t really interested in a Guru. I had already had a Guru and I was a 19 year old kid who sort of thought he knew everything. I was clear in my completely illusory sense of self-knowledge.
So, I met Maharaj-ji and was completely magnetized by him and wanted to spend as much time with him as possible but I had no sense of him as a Guru or any desire for him or anyone to be my Guru. After several months of being with him, he sent us all away, which was a habit he had prior to disappearing.
He told us to meet him in a town called Allahabad at a certain date, so I was there waiting and sick with my first big dysentery case. I was also emotionally messed up because my girlfriend had just dumped me. I was depressed and questioned what I was doing at 19 years old in India, which a lot of people also went through.
Every day, I was going to the home where Maharaj-ji was expected but he never showed up and I was getting even more depressed. One night while there, I went to sleep and had a very profound dream. It was very early morning, shortly after midnight, and I was waiting at a train station by myself in Allahabad. A train comes in and Maharaj-ji steps off wrapped in his blanket. After he steps off the train, he wraps his arms and blanket around me and he starts crying. I then start crying and we’re swimming in an ocean of tears and immersed in a complete feeling of, “Finally he’s come back to me, finally I’m back,” over, and over again.
It was a very profound dream and when I woke up, I was in a very altered, euphoric state and I knew then that Maharaj-ji was my Guru. I still don’t know exactly what that means, but I know it to be true. When I awoke, I looked at the clock and it was 1:28 am. I proceeded to putter around for a bit before returning to sleep.
The next morning, I woke up and went over to the house where Maharaj-ji was expected and everything was different. People were quiet, yet moving around busily. I asked what was going on and found out that Maharaj-ji had arrived last night at the Allahabad train station at 1:28 a.m. by himself, and once there he contacted them.
I don’t know that I needed affirmation after that dream but knowing my own mind, I probably did and so that was the affirmation and it was very strong.
Since then, I know that I am under the protection, guidance and grace of this great, great, Being. Of course, that’s not to say that Maharaj-ji has stopped me from making a million wrong choices and going to some very dark places. But again, I don’t even know if they are actually choices, maybe it’s just my karma unspooling itself and Maharaj-ji is keeping me safe so I don’t go all the way off of the rope.
I don’t know, but I do know that he is my protector and savior for lifetime after lifetime.”
~ Jai Uttal
It’s hard to try and put words to paper after those two amazing stories, so I’ll simply leave you with a teaching from Maharaj-ji that has changed my life in the most humbling and fulfilling of ways: Love everyone, serve everyone, remember God and tell the truth.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise
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