While my first experience of any Hindu work in the USA is from one of the greatest expo of that time “Cultural Festival of India – 1992”, held in Middlesex County College, Edison, New Jersey, my coming into contact with Shri Maheshji began only from the year 1996, whom I used to address as Maheshji. I knew very little about his contributions then. But as the time passed, unraveling of the hard work of organizing Hindus under the platform Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America took place. I further learned through frequent interactions with him about his inspiring personality, influencing and motivating others, and conducting with passion he was able to grow the organization even at those very difficult times in the USA.
Imagine the days with no smartphones or mobile phones or even emails. All and any communications were through either snail mail or through landlines while the population of Hindus is sparsely spread around the US! In spite of the challenges, he always presented himself with a smile on his face, providing options for any situation and helping you to figure out a possible solution for overcoming the situation. His respect to coworkers and the younger generation is immensely inspiring and motivating. He was like an elder brother to me and so is the case with so many of coworkers and he provided a fatherly figure with affection to even more.
Long lasting memories are many but here I would like to share two sets of conversions remembering his interactions with Param Pujaneeya Shri Guruji, second Sarsanghchalak, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Bharat. He was only 10 years old and had accompanied a Swayamsevak who had arrived at Sangh Shiksha Varg and met Shri Guruji there. He was offered mango juice by Shri Guruji and looked into the eyes and Maheshji just went into some kind of unexplainable experience. The result of that interaction is that he was drawn like an iron filing to the magnetic personality of Shri Guruji.
In 1973, when Maheshji visited Bharat along with Smt. Ragini ji, they made an unannounced visit at night to RSS Karyalaya for meeting Shri Guruji. He was welcomed as if everyone in Karyalaya knew about his coming, which caught him by surprise. Later he learnt that Shri Guruji somehow knew about his coming with Ragini ji and in spite being very sick, had instructed Karyakarta in Karyalaya to bring the visitors directly to him. He was offered tea and that was the last cup of tea that Shri Guruji had before his Sadgati that night. He had captured those memories in the book My last cup of chai. What was inspiring to me is that while he was narrating these incidents (one of a kind of memories), the radiance in his face and glow he had positively influenced me. How could I forget them?
Later days, I have had innumerable interactions with him about the Hindu Work in the USA and around the world. He used to use the word GLOCAL emphasizing the impact and importance of Local-to-Global and Global-to-Local. A few notable ones among them are whether it was the Hindu Sangam on the occasion of Shri Guruji Janma Shatabdi in 2006, or reception to Honorable Shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, during his visit as head of the state in 2014, or 125th year of address by Sri Swami Vivekananda in Parliament of Religions in 2018. My interactions with him further exposed the great characteristics of Maheshji’s and his towering personality.
My last meeting with him was at his home in Boston in 2018, along with Mananeeya Ved Nandaji, during when he was recovering from the stroke and was still bound to wheelchair. Even at that time he was talking more about the Hindu Sanghathan work in the USA. While I was trying to find out his well-being, he was changing the subject and taking us to the work of Hindu Organizations in the USA and how they have to work together.
I will miss him for sure. He has showered me with blessings every time I have met. But from his passing away now, I will seek inspiration from my several interactions with him and seek guidance from the memories of narrations, options and solutions that he had provided in the past.
Dr. Yelloji-Rao Mirajkar is former sarkaryavah (General Secretary) of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS.) Currently, he serves on the board of Hindu University of America (HUA.)