From Left to Right: Sripada Avadhuta Maharaja, Srimati Bhakti Lalita Devi dasi & Sriman Nitya Gopal das
The following conversation took place on the day of Sri Krishna Janmastami, September 6, 2015.
At approximately 4:30 PM my time, and thirty minutes before midnight his time, in St. Petersburg, Russia; I received a phone call in a voice I recognized but could hardly believe.
Thinking it might be some prank I asked “Who is this?” “Avadhuta Maharaj”, came the reply. It was enough for me to confirm, yes, it is he, Sripada Avadhuta Maharaja.
I offered: “Oh, Dandavats Maharaja.”
When he responded “Dandavats Maharaj.”, it was further confirmation it was, indeed, our one and only leader of Russia during Srila Gurudeva’s lifetime (he uses no “a” at the end of Maharaja).
He was calling to wish me a “Happy Janmastami.”
I wondered, of course, “Why me?” He offered the answer with several very nice remarks in my favor. He remembered our service together and even offered that he thought of me as a “great devotee”, part of his “guru varga” and a member of “Gurudeva’s family.”
He seemed to be in a jovial and playful mood and said they (he & some others with him) were just thinking about me and some other devotees and thought they should call us. I was waiting for him to ask the question: “Maharaj, is your refrigerator running?” If I answered “Yes.”, he would then tell me, “Then you better go and catch it.” But that question never came.
He told me Sripada Goswami Maharaja was there, as was Sripada Janardana Maharaja, and wondered if I would like to speak to Nitya Gopala dasa and Srimati Bhakti Lalita Devi, who were also there with him.
“Sure.” They were my old friends during the time of Srila Govinda Maharaja. I would be happy to hear their voices and exchange some greetings of the day with them. So, I spoke with them.
“Happy Janmastami” “Happy Janmastami to you.” Their voices were happy, they were happy to speak with me, and I with them. We exchanged such pleasantries with each other and then Avadhuta Maharaja returned to the phone.
When I broached more serious subjects he deflected them. He seemed uncomfortable discussing anything that did not fall into the category of happy thoughts.
He told me they were expecting 25,000 people to attend a big festival in Moscow and that they were having a more peaceful program there in St. Petersburg with a smaller group and mentioned again some of the devotees there with him.
He asked me to convey his “Wishes for a Happy Janmastami” to the others in my group.
I promised I would. I did, to a smaller group of closer friends, I do so now to my larger group of readers: “Happy Janmastami!” from Sripada Avadhuta Maharaja, and those with him, to all of you.
The more serious matters I will leave to a later time.
Swami B.K. Giri