His Holiness Bhakti Sundar Goswami visits with the students! His patient and loving demeanor captivates teachers and students.
Quickly becoming comfortable with the room filled with students, he declares, “Let us make this a question and answer session.” One by one, students hands go up. Bala: What is your favorite state? Padayatra: What is your favorite prasadam? Abhay: Since we’re studying Govardhan, can you tell us some stories about Govardhan? Shy Nitai Charan: What is your favorite temple in India? Vraja: Can you tell us the story of how you met the devotees and joined Krishna consciousness?
Wait, wait a minute students! Maharaj can only answer the questions one by one. “Stories? I’ll tell you a very interesting story.” The little Preschool Kindergarten students laugh excitedly. Yes! They want stories.
And so his far-out tale begins. Born in Syria, the Middle East, he came to his parents after the death of older sons. His parents promised God, “If you allow this boy to live, we will offer him to you for three years.” So they gave him to God. Foretelling the future, he was dressed as a monk, until he was 3 years old. He traveled with his family at age 2, from Syria all the way to Venezuela in South America, by boat. He remembers taking a family picture under the bust of Columbus in Europe. He is 2, dressed as a monk, playing a Harmonica. Years later, he stops at the same spot. This time, still a monk, only a Vaishnava, with a beadbag and devotees.
He met Srila Prabhupada in 1975 and decides to join the devotees. His parents disapprove. Coming to the temple with a whole entourage of cousins, uncles, and aunts, his parents meet the devotees. Sitting and talking with the devotees, laughing and eating prasadam, they are enchanted with Krishna. In those days the temple was in a remote location. It wasn’t on the map or in the Yellow Pages, Maharaj reiterates. He asks his parents: But, how did you find the temple? How did you find me?
A psychic. They brought an old shirt of his to a psychic to find out where he was. The psychic sent a ghost to search for his location. The ghost came back with the exact location. “See!”, Maharaj recounts his words to his parents animatedly, “Even the ghost was engaged in Krishna’s service! He brought you to Krishna.”
“But why are you so happy?” The young Maharaj asks his father. His father replies, “The ghost says you will be leaving here in 6 months.” His parents still think he will leave the temple and become a Christian monk.
Sure enough. Maharaj did leave in 6 months. Off to travel in a traveling sankirtan party.
After telling many personal stories, he answers the questions one by one. He distributes the maha – prasadam of the Gurukula Deities to eager hands, one by one. He visited with TKG Academy for 45 minutes. 45 minutes of bliss. Memories for a lifetime.
And his favorite prasadam? Sag Paneer. Spinach with Curd.