George Mraz – The Loyal Mystic In The Monastery
George Mraz – The Loyal Mystic in the Monastery
George Mraz, a long-time member of the Ramakrishna Vedanta Society in Boston, passed away on May 23, 2018, at Care One Nursing Home in Brookline, MA at the ripe old age of 95. Diligence personified, George served as an Assistant to Swami Sarvagatananda, the late monk and former head of the monastery. George resided in the monastery from 1973 until the Swami’s death in 2009 after which he moved to a Senior residence in Boston. George was a scholar, a meticulous worker, a handyman par-excellence, and a loving care-taker of the Swami. While Swami excelled in his ministerial work, George excelled in providing support, maintenance, and organization in hosting the services in the monastery. His loyalty to the Swami would not be matched.
George was born in Ohio in 1922. His family was of Czechoslovakian descent. George’s father was the editor of the town newspaper. George learned the skills of composing, typesetting, and copy-editing at an early age in his home. After High school, he took an engineering degree and served as an Engineer in the Honeywell Company in Massachusetts. He made his home in Holliston, MA. With a detached view to life, he never married or raised a family. In 1973, he heard of Swami Sarvagatananda of Ramakrishna Vedanta Society in Boston and took permission to visit him at the Massachusetts General Hospital, where the Swami was recuperating after a treatment. In nostalgic recollection, George would mention that he had instant attraction to the Swami and decided to spend the remainder of his life in the service of the Monk. He resigned from his job and sold his house. He came to reside at the Monastery of Ramakrishna Vedanta Society at Kenmore Square. He lived for four decades in the third-floor loft apartment at the Monastery. Living in silent meditation, he kept a watchful eye on everything in the Monastery. He loved his work in close association with the Swami.
For several decades, George led a team of volunteers in maintaining the Monastery. They vacuumed the building, set up the chairs, and decorated the shrine. George recorded the lectures and took care of the kitchen with help from the volunteers. Late at night George would copy the recordings for distribution among the devotees and transcribed the lectures. His affection to Swami’s lectures was amazing. He knew the topic of each lecture by heart and could track the day the lecture was delivered. Himself a voracious reader, George took care of the book sales at the Monastery developing wide connections to procure books. His reputation of diligence was noticed by all the visitors and guest monks at the Monastery. The monastery became a regular gathering point of hundreds of immigrants from the Indian subcontinent mingling with dozens of local devotees – all receiving spiritual guidance from the revered Swami Sarvagatananda, with the support of their friend George Mraz. Students from the local universities received mentoring and counseling through the Monastery.
George was at his best in construction and gardening. The Swami entrusted him to help further develop the property at Marshfield, MA, a summer retreat acquired earlier for the monks and children. George with his friend Joseph Dwyer and several devotees extended the Swami's main cottage at the property and created a beautiful summer garden. Christened as Sharada Ashrama as a tribute to the Holy Mother of the Ramakrishna Order, the idyllic cottages served as a summer residence for three decades. George would set up a large tent for the outdoor festivals that were celebrated in the summer. Hundreds of people in the community would assemble for the celebration and the festivities.
George’s diligence reached its peak when the Swami took retirement from active service in the early 2000’s. He cared for him round the clock even sleeping on the couch in Swami’s room. This time he accelerated his transcription project and tried to compile Swami’s lectures into several books. The first book he published was “You will be a Paramahamsa”, a biography of late Swami Kalyanananda as dictated by Swami. Two massive volumes of Swami’s lectures on Raja yoga came out the next year under the title “Meditation as Spiritual Culmination.” The books have been published by the Advaita Press of the Ramakrishna Mission. Three more draft volumes were completed during his stay at the Nursing Home. He was not only a model resident at his new abode, but was always busy in writing and editing.
George had cultivated friendship with many who took care of him as needed. They helped provide the computer and logistics support and paid attention to his care and comfort. This writer worked closely with George during the last decade of Swami’s life while preparing the books for publication. They cooked together, played with words and read the scriptures. Swami bestowed full confidence on George’s interpretation of difficult concepts and the latter presented the material as seen by him.
Barring the last week of his life, George always wore a mystic chuckle on his face. His insight on the events and people was always clear and direct. His six-foot frame was always busy in maintenance, organizing, or book editing. He was the loyal Hanuman to a dear Swami, whom many loved and admired. George is back with Swami wherever he is! The two would remain connected in this life and the other! George would be missed by all who met him and knew him.
A rare human being with a large heart and deep compassion left us peacefully in his sleep!
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