By Priyavrata das
Mahasringha Das is a legend in many parts of the world, especially in the villages surrounding Mayapur in India, where he has been cooking and serving hundreds of thousands of impoverished Bengali's for 17 years. I have known Mahasringha for 18 years when I first came across him in Poland. He was a legend then, cooking a feast for 400 people in a kitchen one could barely stand in and then serving the delicious meal to hungry people on the streets of Warsaw. To my amazement, as soon as he completed this monumentus task day in day out, he would throw a bag over his shoulder containing Indian scripture and would spend the next 3 hours sharing what he had read that morning.
A few years later he found himself in India. His apartment kitchen was replaced by a hole in the ground and his spice rack by the fresh herbs and spices growing in nature. Hauling huge cast iron woks onto these holes he would start a wood fire and cook what the village people considered, "Food of the Gods."
Over time, he trained the men, women and children to assist him in the cooking so that together they could feed more and more people. It was not uncommon for thousands to gather to experience these free vegetarian feasts. Following the tradition, Maha would encourage the Bengali villagers to sing with him before and after the feast, transforming the once sedate village scene into a veritable festival of food and dance.
Maha could not contain his enthusiasm to share the love in his heart, so for 3 - 4 months of the year he would travel outside of India to Europe, Middle East, USA and Canada sharing the culture of spiritual hospitality he had become so famous for. This summer he visited Israel where one observer believes that he is a saint among men. Here is is story:
This week, a long cherished dream of mine come true. I met a holy man!
I always believed that holy men still existed in this world, but wondered, amongst all the noise and claims of divinity, if I would ever find one. The fact is, there are not many and are often invisible to ordinary people. So most people never see them, what to speak of envy them.
However, I came to hear of one such holy man walking amongst us.
Eight years ago my husband became acquainted with a man called Mahasringha who lives in the holy city of Mayapur, India.
Originally from Poland, Mahasringha moved to Mayapur, with his wife Apavrita and their daughter Radha 17 years ago. For the last 25 years Mahasringha and his wife have lived a renounced life of selfless community service for the pleasure of God. With the rise of materialism in their country, they decided that the best place to raise their daughter would be far away from the glittering superficialities of the West and so they moved to India.
Mayapur is considered one of the principle holy places in India. It is the birthplace of the Golden Avatar - Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who adverted some 500 years ago.
Few on Earth know about the Golden Avatar. He came not as a king or a warrior …He came as a devotee of Lord Krishna. According to Vedic scholars, his arrival marked the establishment of a new Golden Age! Mahaprabhu’s principle teaching was to propagate that the most effective means for self realisation in these times was to chant the holy names of God and to share sanctified foods.
Mahasringha visited our family in Israel. By the grace of God, we were able to witness this man’s magnificent devotion to the people of this world and his beloved God. He is by far, the most wonderful person I have ever met in my life! Without a single drop of pretence, he offers himself fully to those in need of food, medical care or spiritual counselling.
All the qualities one would imagine in a saintly person are present in him — righteousness, charity, persistent confession of faith, deep mediation on God, humility and enthusiasm to serve.
In Christianity, there is the example of the pious and virtuous man who even after his death, continues to pray for all people living on earth.
In Islam, the Saints are called Avliya. Avliya - the plural of the word "Wali" is used to mean "Patron", or "Holy." Avliya - in Arabic means "close to God." These are people who perform all their days in constant prayer, leading a righteous life, avoiding the commission of sins, perfecting their inner world by a constant remembrance of Allah.
Such people are mentioned in the Qur'an: "62. Absolutely, GOD's allies have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve. They are those who believe and lead a righteous life. For them, joy and happiness in this world, as well as in the Hereafter. This is GOD's unchangeable law. Such is the greatest triumph." (10: 62-64).
Similarly, Lord Sri Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita of His pure devotees: “One who is not envious but is a kind friend to all living entities, who does not think himself a proprietor and is free from false ego, who is equal in both happiness and distress, who is tolerant, always satisfied, self-controlled, and engaged in devotional service with determination, his mind and intelligence fixed on Me Ã¢â¬â such a devotee of Mine is very dear to Me.” (12.14)
A perfect life - is a life wherein one devotes all their time to the service of God. The Bhagavad Gita declares: "In the stage of perfection called trance, or samadhi, one's mind is completely restrained from material mental activities by practice of yoga. This perfection is characterized by one's ability to see the self by the pure mind and to relish and rejoice in the self. In that joyous state, one is situated in boundless transcendental happiness, realized through transcendental senses. Established thus, one never departs from the truth, and upon gaining this he thinks there is no greater gain. Being situated in such a position, one is never shaken, even in the midst of greatest difficulty. This indeed is actual freedom from all miseries arising from material contact. (6.20-23)
We asked Mahasringha how many people he has personally served over the last 25 years. With a shrug of his shoulders, “about 3,500,000,” he told us.
If you would like to support Mahasringha's work around the world, please donate via Food for Life Global.