Maharajji first came to me through Krishna Das' powerful chanting in my very first yoga classes I took whilst in university back in 2007.
It didn't take long for me to start searching his albums and I found Pilgrim Heart, which has KD and Maharajji on the cover.
To be honest with you, I didn't know what Krishna Das or Maharajji looked like at that point, so I had trouble telling who was who!
As time went on, I began to come into contact with the music of more people associated with Maharajji, like Bhagavan Das and Trevor Hall.
About four years ago I also began to dive into Ram Dass' teachings and that's where I started really hearing about Maharajji's lilas and miracles
For me, Maharajji has come to life because of the stories his devotees tell with all of that love, faith and fervor. I can't help but feel close to him and like
he's guiding me, loving me and helping me too, just like he does for everyone else. I can't help but cry and be overwhelmed by a love and an open heart that I can't really explain, all because of his grace. Now more than ever, I have come to realize that he is truly everywhere, and the more my faith grows, the more I see him--especially when I was in India...his pictures seemed to be showing up in moments where I just happened to look up instead of passing the moment by.
Three years ago, I decided to learn the Hanuman Chalisa, because I'd heard from a friend that it gave him strength during a very difficult time in his life. For me, it simply felt like it was time to learn it after hearing it and hearing about it. I was so completely overwhelmed by the task, and asked for Maharajji's blessing to learn it with ease. What should've taken me six months or more to learn took me roughly two months, practicing 10 verses progressively at a time, night and day. Every time I sat down to work on it, I felt like I was getting into a boat and floating down a river. I feel that taking it on as a practice and even chanting it now on the daily has invited so many opportunites and people into my life and has changed it for the better.
Maharajji's grace really shows up for me when I dissolve in tears--whether I'm looking at his photos, hearing one of Krishna Das' chants or stories about him, or chanting to Hanuman myself. Anything that has been weighing on my mind or heart completely goes away in the moments where his shakti overtakes my consciousness. I have grown to pay attention to how I've become a part of his giant lila--how we as devotees are all a part of it, so that we may remember God and love and serve each other in every moment. There are no accidents or coincidences--it's all God's grace, and God is One.
One lila I will never forget is when it was my last full day in Rishikesh a couple months ago. I walked across Laxman Jhula to go to this vegetarian cafe that I'd come to love in my short stay, and noticed that the little Hanuman temple stall I always gazed at but passed by, was actually open that morning. I entered and saw a sadhu sitting to my right and just wanted to pranam to Hanuman and be on my way. The sadhu stopped me as I was getting up and showed me the string that he was about to tie around my wrist whilst saying a mantra, to protect me on my long airplane journey home, he said. He then offered me prasad of water and golden raisins, but I put the water on my head instead of in my mouth and he got super angry. "THIS IS PRASAD--IF YOU DONT TAKE IT, WHAT ARE YOU EVEN DOING HERE?!" he shouted with wide, fiery eyes. I ditched my fear of drinking the water (which I thought might be Ganga water and heard it wasn't safe to drink) and took all the prasad and said, JAI HANUMAN. He seemed pleased that I finally had my prasad. He then began to speak to me and without missing a beat he said, "Many forms--Maa, Hanuman, Shiva, but God is ONE!" with his index finger prominently pointed up to the sky, but close to my face--much like a photo of Maharajji I'd seen before. That was the giveaway for me--the finger. Maharajji I felt had entered his sadhu's body and acted out the whole lila with me. To further appease him, I asked him if we could chant the Chalisa together, as it was a Tuesday (Hanuman's day). He told me I could sit on the other side and look at Hanumanji with heart as I chanted and as he continued to bless people who continued to come and go. He had me chant it twice, and kept telling the Indian people who came that I actually knew the whole thing (without looking at a book)! After I sat for a very long time after chanting, he told me that I was lucky. I pranamed once more and said goodbye to the sadhu, and floated to the cafe I was originally trying to go to on a cloud, and remained in that very high, transfixed state for most of that morning.
Maharajji is Hanuman incarnate, but he is also very Krishna-like too--running away when we all get too attached to his presence, whether we were with him in the body or not. Through my recent experiences in India and all the lilas in my life thus far, I don't doubt that he is always around and always looking out for me and all of us--but we feel him more at some times than others. I find he always comes when we call (by his own name or by any form we choose). He comes when he look at his photos. He comes when we listen to or read the stories of his devotees. I am very grateful for our sangha and for Maharajji's grace he continues to bestow on me at the exact right time.