The Paradise Bar of the Chevron Hotel could hold no candle to the heaven that was being created in the grand ballroom by 1000 people waiting eagerly to see Maharaj Ji. Saturday night had never been like this before.
The security personnel kept a close guard on the butterflies in their stomachs as the two bands, Harbinger and Band of Angels, exchanged expectant chords across the stage.
Practical matters first: David Lovejoy, General Secretary, of DLM Australia, explained the complicated mechanics of the darshan line, set up to ensure "the least amount of fuss and discombobulation". Then Mahatma Padarthanand Ji began to give satsang about the most ancient thing which is the source of all, but before you could say Bholayshrisatgurudevmaharajkijai Maharaj Ji had swept into the hall, up into his chair, ???ing twin mikes across and begun the most mind-blowing satsang.
We reached for our pens to describe his presence but countless aspects of his love appeared and vanished, each requiring a separate description. From wherever your ??? was standing you could say he was: businesslike, all-loving, compassionate; the Lord of ??? or the Lord of Love; all-powerful, infinite in ???, king of clowns and the master of humour. Every devotee knows that you can read the words on the page and look at the photographs but both will not capture the magical, airbrush-like quality of Maharaj Ji and Durga Ji. The divine dimension had somehow transposed itself upon the heart of Kings ??? but the only description possible is a mere wide-??? rundown of the facts.
If you have a bucket of water and it's really good for nothing - and you need milk. Don't come to the guy and say "Give me some milk in this". The maximum he can give you, the only space left in that bucket is about one spoon. If he takes that one spoon of milk and puts it in your bucket, it's good for nothing …
There you are, with all these concepts. If a person has no concepts whatsoever, then how beautiful it would have been and there is no doubt that a man would have easily realised the power. Man has created all these concepts, he has felt the power, but it's too late."
??? questions about why God made us, Maharaj Ji ??? man has gone on to try to find answers by ??? God's role as creator. He pointed out that so many people have been born and died making designs for computers that are in no way comparable to that natural computer, the human being. And ??? graphic illustration of a day in the life of a ??? man ("same old cars stuck the same old place"), ???ed how even the higher goals are lost in the ??? problem of everyday existence.
That person thinks, I am doing this so I will be able to change at last. But listen, many people don't make it to there …
That is not the reason why all these beautiful features were given to us, to work like a horse and just be like ??? No, we have been given this for a definite purpose and unti1 we understand that, how can we even consider ourselves human beings?"
With his usual remarkable change of pace, Maharaj Ji followed this heavy question with a hilarious story about the man who bought the Cadillac with the proverbial rattle. To find the source of the noise, they took off wheel wells and the mudguards but to no avail. After a week the man was so infuriated that he threatened to set fire to the car in front of the showroom. So they took it apart again and this time, behind the door panelling, they found a coke bottle with a note saying "Ha, ha, let's see how long it takes you to find this one," Maharaj Ji delivered the punchline: this is how the mind plays, it's like a coke bottle in the body. But when you go to the expert, he gives you the Knowledge which is the problem-finder.
"But now that this golden opportunity has been given to us, we should try to utilise it. And the only way to do that, to realise this energy, is to do meditation."
Maharaj Ji went on to explain how there were four paths of investigation, four ways that might bring peace, religion, rituals and philosophy, scriptures, and the only thing that really proved successful in bringing peace: that life-force we all have in common which has been with us before we accumulated religions, rituals and names ("What is Charley, anyway?") And now finding peace has become a pressing problem, because even children know how close war may be; there is a statement that a little child said, "I wish that there was all love in this would so that this world could be saved." They know that this world has come to a point."
He then emphasised that it is our responsibility to care about it, and outlined how the newly-formed World Welfare Association was creating a blissful community of volunteer workers to do the job.
After more satsang about the importance of getting together, Maharaj Ji warned lightheartedly,
"Maybe I'll get another chance to come to Australia, and if I do I'll certainly come; but the thing is, it'll be the same old stories, don't get bored."
No one seemed bored at all. Everyone was listening eagerly as Durga Ji described their arrival in Australia, how it was so blissful, how after such a long wait every heart was now full. She thanked everyone for her birthday gifts, then pointed out that Knowledge is the most precious gift of all;
"Give your whole life to this seed and let it become your life so that you are the seed. So that when the wind blows and spreads all of you to different parts of the world you will be exactly what that tree gave forth a perfect replica of that tree, which is the seed of love."
All people know that life is important, she said, but only through meditation, service and satsang do we find out how really precious it is.
"Sometimes Maharaj Ji will give us a glimpse and it's so powerful that you just weep. It's too much. It's too much to comprehend. It's too beautiful. And he takes it away from you because to leave you in that place you would completely fall apart … That's the reason we're here, to know that love which is infinite."
Durga Ji tried to describe the devotee's life: how we can never understand darshan, what it's like living with Guru Maharaj Ji every day. She declared that we are the most fortunate people in the universe and we begin to know that when we let go of our concepts and dedicate our whole lives. Then people may say that we're crazy but we've experienced something so pure and real that no one can take that experience away from us.
Her satsang was followed immediately by darshan for all, sustained at an up-tempo pace by the bands. Confusion threatened when the queue went two ways at once, causing some hesitation in the fruit collectors' minds, but the flow was soon restored. One devotee was seen to take prashad, a slice of orange and a piece of wet papaya, and shove them into his pocket unconcernedly.
The darshan line finished, Maharaj Ji stayed to watch. a play. And what a play it was! Ventriloquist and doll exchanged sparkling repartee and soon had Maharaj Ji and Durga Ji laughing heartily.
To avoid the pace slackening, the ventriloquist took a cream pie in the face from his doll. The audience was in an uproar.
Bob Mishler, DUO International Director and obvious veteran of many a pie ploy in the States, made certain of an escape route from the anticipated danger. The tune of "Teddy Bear's Picnic" took on different words ("If you remember the Word today … "); three pint-sized (in height only) cosmic chorus girls dressed in unbelievable apparel bounced to the front. Before your mouth could finish its gasp of astonishment, the stage was alive with cream pies. Devotee after devotee surrendered their faces unwillingly to the barrage. Last but not least hit was the beloved Bihari Singh, who disappeared in a sea of cream to the delight of all, while Maharaj Ji laughed and laughed.
Meanwhile, the fleet-footed Mishler had returned to his place unscathed. But Maharaj Ji, lord of karma, declared, "He wants a pie in the face". A member of the film crew was quick to oblige.
And after the last flurry of excitement had died down, Maharaj Ji left behind a hall full of devotees, tired but oh so happy.