Much to the delight of all, Mahatma Padarthanand Ji has returned to Australia. After touring Brisbane and Cairns, he then flew to Sydney, where The Golden Age recorded this interview with Mahatma Ji and Julie Collet.
Mahatma Ji, have you seen much change in the Australian Mission over the last year or so?
When I came in 1973, some people received Knowledge and there was some propagation, and since that time so many new centres have opened all around Australia. By the Grace of Guru Maharaj Ji, we are finding now that our foundation is strong and premies are understanding the importance of this foundation. It is not spreading all around many storeys up, but foundation is strong.
And has your approach to propagation and your service as a Mahatma changed at all?
As I have told so many times, this whole life is process of learning. And when Guru Maharaj Ji has given me this service, and to anyone, when we are doing some service we learn something from there. Then we think, "Oh, this is it", but that's not all. Guru Maharaj Ji gives something else, he puts something else in front of us. He puts us in some different time, place and situation. We do our service there and we learn something more. We think again, "This is it", but that is not that. Always it has been changed. Whatever we are doing as service, these are physical, these are changeable. We can't say, "This is perfect", as we speak. Nothing is perfect except that Holy Name. These all are changeable, always it will get better and better and better.
In New Zealand, you said that brothers and sisters should learn to love and serve each other. How can we open ourselves up enough to do that all the time?
Service is the manifestation of love. If I say that I love someone, so what is practical proof that I love that person? If I am serving that person then that is practical proof that I love that person. Point is, we have to look back again and again and we have to think, "When I am serving this person who is in front of me, can I serve better? Or this is it?" When we have this idea, then we shall see more and more beautiful, beautiful idea will come and we shall be able to put into practice. And really, when we are serving someone, automatically so much love is there.
This point, all of us have to understand. When we are living in ashram ten, twelve, fifteen and when we are serving each other we feel love and we say, "Oh, we have love". But it is not enough just living in ashram. We have so many brothers and sisters living all around. Guru Maharaj Ji is asking to arrange program and by WWA, go and serve them. So when we are serving them, automatically they are feeling love. And we are serving because we have love for them. So simple point is: we could think a lot how to do service and how to love each other but whatever we are doing now in this present moment, we should try our best to do that. If we are not trying to do our best with the service that is given to us, or if we are not loving the person who is in front of us, how are we going to love more persons?
We have to try to be here and now, and love that person who is in front of us and to serve our best to that person. And automatically we shall see that it will multiply, multiply, multiply. That's happening already. Before receiving Knowledge, what were we able to do? How many were we able to love and how much were we able to serve? By the Grace, when we are putting little energy practically, that's multiplying, that's going on.
How has Guru Maharaj Ji changed your own life since you arrived in the West?
Since childhood I was interested in spirituality, and so much self-discipline and idea of the renounced. And in university life I left my shoes, socks, slippers and completely renounced. There was no question of girlfriend in India and even I had not so many boyfriend because I didn't like. I was my own. It was hard for me to see any sister in eyes or to talk, very hard. When I received Knowledge Guru Maharaj Ji put me back in this world. In India, when I was doing this service, travelling, still there is so much discipline. Indian ladies can't speak so much in front of Mahatma. They have proper dress, proper behaviour, these all things. They feel so shy and so disciplined.
Finally when I came here, completely, completely different environment. Different dress, different behaviour, different actions. And Guru Maharaj Ji put me further up, but by his Grace I am able to talk to all types of people. Even so many press reporters, journalists, they come in mini-dress, having different questions and I have to sit there and I have to understand that I don't have to think for this dress; I have to see for that soul because that's my service. When we are making them understand something, who we really are, then automatically they are changing.
So, being in this situation, Guru Maharaj Ji is giving more and more confidence, more and more strength, inner strength, to sit in this situation, to sit among these people, to see them, to understand them and to serve them.
Obviously, not everyone can do the duty of a Mahatma, but is it possible for everyone to become a channel for Guru Maharaj Ji's Grace, like a Mahatma?
Of course. There are so many histories that so many great, great saints became in family life. There are not so many famous saints who were renounced, very few. Mostly great saints were in family life. King Janak, who was father-in-law of Lord Rama. So really, Guru Maharaj Ji has given us such beautiful Knowledge to make ourselves yogis wherever we are in family life. But we have gone so far from that natural state that we think, "Aah". This is very natural and practical to get married, to get Knowledge, to have husband and wife and to follow this path of Truth and to be channel of Grace of Guru Maharaj Ji. But we have come so far down we are finding it a little hard to come back to that natural state. So one who understands properly can help those who have completely fallen down.
Similarly, to go up and to do this service as a Mahatma, renounce all things, natural things even, this is a little bit supernatural. So this is not common that everyone can do it. But without premies who are in family life, what can a Mahatma do? Nothing. This is very practical and possible that everyone can be a channel of the Grace of Guru Maharaj Ji. And we are already. When I'm doing this service as a Mahatma and I give satsang and people come for questions/answers and I give them answer. But just ask yourself: you are not Mahatma, but Guru Maharaj Ji has given you answer or not? This is practical. There is only one service you cannot do and that is reveal Knowledge. Otherwise you are a channel of Guru Maharaj Ji's Grace already, because you have answer. You can give answer to whole world, by His Grace.
And Julie, what are the main services that you fulfil?
Well, I'm able to sit in on everything that Mahatma Ji does, Knowledge Sessions, Knowledge Reviews, and attend all the programs. On some occasions, Mahatma Ji will ask me to give pre-Knowledge satsang, for instance, Also, in many ways I am able to act as Mahatma Ji's secretary. If Mahatma Ji has something he wants expressed to someone then he gives me that and I can write a letter, things like this. Just to make sure that his itinerary is balanced, that Mahatma Ji is doing his service in giving us satsang and revealing Knowledge, rather than listening to individual problems all the time. In this is the specific service that Maharaji Ji has given me: that anyone seeking to see him individually, that first I should see that person, whether they want to give Mahatma Ji something or if they have some personal problem, then I'm able to discuss that situation with Mahatma Ji.
Also, on some beautiful occasions when we're on tour, I've been able to serve Mahatma Ji as housemother, which is the fulfilment of another desire. To give satsang each night is really such a blessing. When you're giving satsang there's no doubt, no confusion, you're just really strong.
How's travelling with Mahatma Ji changed your life? What has it taught you?
I guess the main way in which it has changed my life is that I'm in receipt of so much more love and so much more regard because I'm travelling with Mahatma Ji. Sometimes this is overwhelming, just so much love the premies have to give. All I can do is receive that love because really they're expressing their love to Guru Maharaj Ji. It's so beautiful to receive that. All the time I'm fully aware that it's only because I'm travelling with Mahatma Ji. For all of us, we're developing so much love and respect for each other because we're following Guru Maharaj Ji.