Vol 7: Foreward

       I know it is pride to think oneself more fortunate than others, but I get to read Indradyumna Maharaja’s diary chapters before the rest of the world. How could I not feel lucky? I even get to discuss the diary with Maharaja.

    It’s like having a front-row seat in a class about Srila Prabhupada’s mission. It is all there in Indradyumna Maharaja’s life and diary.

   “Chant Hare Krishna,” Srila Prabhupada says, “and your life will be sublime.” Chanting Hare Krishna, of course, is the focus of Indradyumna Maharaja’s life, both as an individual – sitting in the temple, getting out of bed, riding in airplanes and cars – and as a sankirtan leader, taking chanting parties out to advertise an upcoming festival.

      You can read about an eleven-year-old girl who covered her ears to block the sound but ended up putting on a makeshift sari and running to join the Harinama. And there’s the part about the seal in the Baltic Sea who swam along the beach following the Harinam party.

   Yet Srila Prabhupada warns us that we may also face dan-ger: “By following His footsteps, you can approach Nityananda Prabhu. Nityananda Prabhu approached Jagai and Madhai at the risk of being personally injured and still He definitely delivered them. The world is full of Jagais and Madhais, namely drunk-ards, women-hunters, meat eaters and gamblers, and we will have to approach them at the risk of insult, injury and similar other re-wards. To face such reverse conditions of life and to suffer thereby the results of actions is considered as the greatest penance and austerity in the matter of spiritual advancement of life.”

    Take risks? Maharaja’s diary reads like an adventure movie: being attacked by skinheads and fanatical Muslims, being robbed by corrupt immigration officials, escaping from a dishonest taxi driver in the dead of night on a deserted street – all for the sake of giving Lord Krishna’s holy name to the unfortunate souls.

     And we know that giving the holy name also means music, as Srila Prabhupada writes to Upendra Prabhu: “I shall call you and some other students to assemble there to practice sankirtana in a systematic way. Of course, chanting Hare Krishna does not require any artificial artistic sense, but still, if the procedure is presented rhythmically, then the people may be attracted more by the transcendental music.”

       It’s too bad we cannot hear Maharaja’s beautiful kirtans just by reading his diary, but anyone who has heard his playing and sing-ing knows that he follows this teaching to perfection, not to men-tion the dazzling stage shows: dance groups, martial arts, a reggae band, Vedic weddings, and plays based on Vedic scripture.

       The plays, though, are only one aspect of scripture in Maharaja’s life.

       “There is a limitless stock of Vedic literature,” writes Srila Prabhupada, “and one should study this.”

[Bhagavad-gita As It Is, 17.15, purport]

     Diary of a Traveling Preacher gives us a glimpse into the mind of someone who knows the books of Srila Prabhupada and the previous acharyas. What is amazing is to read how Indradyumna Maharaja always manages to let himself be guided by just the right verse at the right time. Here is a lesson we can all enjoy.

    And of course, after reading, comes the next instruction: “Distribute books, distribute books, distribute books.”

      Again, Maharaja sets the example, first as an individual. Everywhere he goes – on a plane or on the street – he has a book handy to give to someone, and always with a smooth presenta-tion. And as a leader? You can read about the guests going to the book table at his festivals.

      And finally, here is something close to every devotee’s heart: Prasadam. You will smile when you read about the restaurants in one town throwing away tons of meat after the visitors at the Woodstock Festival all went to eat at Indradyumna Maharaja’s prasadam tent.

   And there’s more. You will go with Maharaja into the under-ground temple of salt and the temple of fire, share his heartbreak when his friend Sri Prahlada falls sick and has to stop traveling, and – don’t miss this one – stand with Maharaja on the chariot in Puri as he looks into the big, round eyes of Lord Jagannatha.

     Well? Did I leave anything out? No problem. If I forgot it, you will still find it in Diary of a Traveling Preacher. I got the first peek, but don’t let that keep you away. Everyone gets a front-row seat to watch Srila Prabhupada’s teachings in action. Welcome to Diary of a Traveling Preacher.

Umapati Swami

December 28, 2006