Palaka das: Today December 4, 2012 at approximately 12:23 AM our dear Godbrother and longtime friend Mahahari Prabhu left his body after a 1 ½ year bout with blood cancer. It is always sad when a loved one leaves our company, and this too is the case with Mahahari Prabhu. However, the passing of this particular person was no ordinary death as he surrendered to the process of Krsna Consciousness and began his journey on the path back to home, back to Godhead.
Mahahari Prabhu had the good fortune of being a disciple of His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and an aspiring devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As such, his passing is glorious and future very bright. As Lord Sri Krsna Himself assures all of us, “In this endeavor there is no loss or diminution, and a little advancement on this path can protect one from the most dangerous type of fear.” BG 2.40 and in his purport to this verse Srila Prabhupada goes on to say “Material activities and their results end with the body. But work in Kṛṣṇa consciousness carries the person again to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, even after the loss of the body. At least one is sure to have a chance in the next life of being born again as a human being, either in the family of a great cultured brāhmaṇa or in a rich aristocratic family that will give one a further chance for elevation. That is the unique quality of work done in Kṛṣṇa consciousness”.
By the Lord’s mercy, Mahahari Prabhu had been given ample warning of his impending death and was able to prepare himself accordingly. He surrounded himself with the pure sound vibration of his spiritual master Srila Prabhupada’s kirtans which were being played continually at his bedside for all his remaining days.
The last conversation I had with Mahahari Prabhu he was well aware his condition had taken a dramatic turn for the worst, so he asked that I do him this one favor. Sometime back I had promised I would send some of his all-time favorite maha burfi prasadam, but never managed to actually send him any. This time however he was insistent that I promise this next box of prasadam must include burfi. He pushed that 100% assurance wasn’t good enough and said I must now give him a 1,000% guarantee the maha burfi would be sent. So by the will of the Lord, his wish was fulfilled that very next day. As fate would have it, the temple had a guest cook who prepared the most amazing burfi, the best burfi I have ever had, and Mahahari prabhu got this wish filled, perhaps even more than he bargained for, with an entire box of this extra ordinary maha burfi prasadam. I think at this point it’s important to note that at one point in Mahahari’s devotional service, he was in charge of the New Hastinapura kitchen, and personally overseeing to all the opulent preparations being offered to Their Lordships. It was from this temple where he served for many years that this maha burfi was sent.
Krsna prasadam is what ultimately attracted Mahahari prabhu towards Krsna Consciousness in the first place and so it is quite befitting this Krsna prasadam was one of his last requests. When he was in college, unbeknownst to him, one day some Hare Krsna devotees came to his campus and set out cups of prasadam for students to take. He was in a hurry rushing off to his next class but managed to grab a few cups. He loved it so much and said it was like nothing he had ever eaten before in his entire life. So when he went back for more, he was disappointed to see they had already left without a trace.
In the summer of 1976, the same year Mahahari graduated, an old collage friend called and invited him to go with her to the Sunday Love Feast at the New York City Hare Krsna Temple. He was delighted and astonished to see they served that same food with that same very special taste which he had eaten and loved so much that fateful campus day. So now he knew without a doubt, these must have been the same people who came to his college and it was this Hare Krsna prasadam with its incredibly special taste he just couldn’t forget about. Now here he was at last, again face to face with this sumptuous Hare Krsna prasadam, but this time it was an entire Sunday feast not just a few tiny cups.
Ironically, just the day before his visit to the Hare Krsna Temple , Mahahari came to realize he had developed a drug problem, and determined he was now unable to stop on his own. In desperation, he called out to the Lord to please show him that He, the Lord, was indeed real, and prove it by helping him quit this addictive behavior. Now, a day later, he’s at the Hare Krsna Temple listening with to the 4 regulative principles and why devotees follow them. He took this as the direct answer to his prayers and a sign from God that He does indeed exist. He knew he would be able to give up his drugs and he already was addicted to the prasadam so he decided to give this Krsna Consciousness a chance. He asked if he could stay with the devotees and moved into the Hare Krsna Temple that very same day. Besides, Mahahari prabhu had a veracious appetite so why not just move in and live with the devotees where they happily filled you up to your neck with this most delicious Krsna prasadam.
Mahahari prabhu’s services were many. He worked building the Ratha-Yatra Carts when he was a new bhakta in New York. He also went on street Harinamas and did Sankirtan there as well, where he distributed Back to Godhead Magazines to many including the famous John and Yoko. I first met Mahahari in 1977 when he came to live at New Hastinapure Temple in Potomac Maryland. For years we would go out on book distribution together at the White House and the Smithsonian Museums in Washington DC. He was an enormous comfort to be around and I always felt safe and protected just by his presence out there with all of us. Once, a new devotee who had previously been an Army soldier came out with us to distribute books for his first time. This new devotee just so happened to be wearing his old Army jacket that day when he approached 3 Marines. These guys were off duty touring the museums, just a few blocks away from where they were stationed at the Marine Corp Barracks and happened to take offense that he was a Hare Krsna and at the same time wearing his old Army coat. One of the Marines started to punch and push him around. I was there as well, so I yelled out to Mahahari for help. When Mahahari , who fitted his name perfectly being 6’5”tall and weighing in at 250 lbs, saw what was going on, he immediately dropped his book bag and ran faster than I ever could have imagined. When he finally made contact, he hit this guy from behind with such force and speed that the Marine actually flew in the air, over a row of hedges, and landed down an embankment where he lay there with the wind knocked totally out of him. Gasping for air, this guy didn’t even know what hit him. The other two Marines came to his rescue as Mahahari stood in defiance saying “Ok who’s next” as he stood by defended the devotees. As they dragged away with their fallen buddy, I figured they were going to come back with others to get revenge, but to my surprise, and relief I must add, they never did, nor did they even once bothered any of us ever again. I think they respected that he stud up to them and they were defeated by our big gun, Mahahari prabhu. Another great advantage was to have him with you on Harinam Sankirtan. You never had to worry about rascals attacking the party as the Great MahaHari was there to fearlessly take on any demon at any time and he on several occasions did.
Not only did Mahahari love to eat prasadam, he loved to cook and distribute it as well. Mahahari hated to see prasadam going to waste and was determined it was going to be distributed. Many times I would see him personally take the left over feast prasadam downtown Washington DC and bring plates to homeless people or to the shelters long before ISKCON ever started their Food For Life Programs. Mahahari prabhu had an amazing affection towards prasadam and always enthusiastically recited these wonderful words just before he honored that aspect of Krsna Consciousness which he loved and respected so dearly.
sarira abidya-jal, jodendriya tahe kal,
jibe phele bisaya-sagore
ta’ra madhye jihva ati, lobhamoy sudurmati
ta’ke jeta kathina somsare
krsna baro doyamoy, karibare jihva jay,
swa-prasad-anna dilo bhai
sei annamrta khao, radha-krsna-guna gao,
preme dako caitanya-nitai
“This material body is a place of ignorance, and the senses are a network of paths to death. The senses throw the soul into this ocean of material sense enjoyment and, of all the senses, the tongue is most voracious and uncontrol-lable; it is very difficult to conquer the tongue in this world. O brothers! Lord Krsna is very kind to us and has given us such nice prasada, just to control the tongue. Now let us take this prasada to our full satisfaction and glorify Their Lordships, Sri Sri Radha and Krsna and, in love, call for the help of Lord Caitanya and Prabhu Nityananda.”
But most of all Mahahari prabhu will always be remembered because he stepped forward and allowed himself to be directly engaged in assisting Srila Prabhupada in his mission of pushing forward the Krsna Consciousness movement and for that service Srila Prabhupada assures this not only to his disciple Mahahari das, but , to all of his followers with this acknowledgement “All glories to the devotees engaged in the matter of Krishna consciousness. I am sure that Lord Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu will bestow his causeless mercy upon everyone who is engaged in pushing the cause of Krishna consciousness.”