Thursday, December 20, 2007

My India Diary-Part 4

Day 9 12/14 Vrndavana

I think the thing we all can agree on so far is that it's pretty hard not to think of Krsna when we're here. It's hard to put into words. For myself, I've never been so excited to chant all my rounds, all at once, and then some.

HH Sacinandana Maharaja said in his sweet evening Gita class that in the Holy Dham, sandhini-sakti is all pervading. Even the useless neophyte such as myself can have this taste, without hesitation if I'm just a little bit open, as my soul can be connected in a very direct way to the Holy Name.

The Holy Name is not an ordinary ruby or diamond. It is the cintamani gem, the true wish-fulfilling substance. If we cling to it, taste it, and meditate upon its meaning deeply, calling for help out of our miserable condition, then everywhere becomes the Dham. For now, it's nice to have the real dust upon my feet.

Another sweet sensation is being so close to Prabhupada. To be in his samadhi, in his rooms, so close to his actual presence, radiates to me a very grandfatherly warmth and protection. I pray to him for his causeless mercy so that I may indeed be of some use to Mother Earth and her inhabitants in this time of great need and change. Otherwise, we are useless without it.

Day 10 12/15 Vrndavana

There were many ways that I perfected my life today. It began as we took a tour of Mathura, offering ourselves to the holiest spots led by the transcendental tour-guideness of HG Devananda Pandit Prabhu. Our various darshans included the prison cell whee baby Krsna appeared to Vasudeva and Devaki just over 5000 years ago. Following that we also visited the birthplace of Srimati Radharani, Raval, where the sweet breeze of the most beloved of Krsna nearly trapped me to a life of making piles and piles of cow-dung patties. However, being a complete rascal, I somehow pulled myself away.

We visited Raman and Vasudeva Ghats and tasted the water of the Yamuna for the first time in this lifetime at least. A sacred moment, for this was also the place where Krsna was accused of eating mud by Balarama, and where Krsna then revealed His Universal Form to Mother Yasoda, who had come to peer into His mouth. We were then treated to a Braj Breakfast cooked by a few local pious souls, close to the spot of Damodar-Lila. The spicy curry and hot-and-fresh chapatis were the best breakfast of my life.

We finished our day in Raman-Reti, rolling in sand crushed by the surabhi cows to ease the path for the tender feet of Krsna and Balarama. This sand is more valuable than the Vaikuntha planets. At the behest of Devananda Pandit, we then engaged in wrestling pastimes. I squared off with Mauricio, and my false ego got me good. I am thinking here is a skillny physics Ph.D student from Colombia, who dances like no other, and that I will beat him. Immediately I remembered that he was a fourth-degree black belt in karate and immediately thereafter Mauricio choked me down in the Holy Dham. I've never felt so fortunate.

In the evening I rushed out to buy a pair ove overpriced kartals and was lucky enough to christen them in a kirtan led by HG Aindra Prabhu, transcendentally fulfilling my dream of being a rock star. Gulabjamuns and samosas for dinner, and I pray that I get up for mangal-arati tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My India Diary-Part 3

Day 7 12/12 Delhi
Made it through 18 hours in 2-Tier AC Rajdhani Express goodness from Mumbai to Delhi. Daydreaming of wandering as a babaji through the mysterious haze of the Indian countryside begging for rice as the sun sits as a golden disc overhead, giving pleasurable darshan.
Back at ISKCON Delhi overnight, awaiting the arrival of the rest of our crew, including HG Mauricio Prabhu from our Athens, Ohio Dham, and his presence will be as sweet as a fresh rasagulla. This city is completely hellish, with exhaust fumes and untuned guitars from the Bina Music Shop fillinf my lungs and ears. The beauty of the temple, of the gaze of Sri-Sri Radha Parathasarathi is an oasis and soothing balm in the middle of millions seemingly wallowing in their own filth, internally and externally. The brahmacaris here are super fired-up for the Book Marathon (a truck with 5000 Gitas was pulling up just as we were), so at least Prabhupada's mercy flows through the congested, noisy streets and avenues

Off to Vrndavana tomorrow, ready to roll in the dust.

Day 8 12/13 Delhi-Vrndavana

Today marked the auspicious arrival of our two leading superstars from Athens, Ohio Dham: Sriman Mauricio Prabhu and Srimati Jamie Prabhu. Mauricio is one of the most unique dancers in the history of sankirtan, and the Delhi brahmacaris couldn't get enough of his groove. I told Mauricio he better be careful. He'll end up prime minister or a big Bollywoo sensation before too long.

At breakfast I was blessed with the mercy of suddenly going all-out in eating with my bare hands rather than Western spoon-style. It was ecstatic. India is feeling more and more like home.

We spent the rest of the day visiting various sites in the mood of awe and veneration. The Lotus Temple, a Bahai place of worship close to ISKCON Delhi, where silent prayer is the modus operandi. Caitanya was nearly overcome with the urge to let out a big OM in the middle of this massive concrete flower, but he behaved himself. We also took a harrowing rickshaw ride to the Swami Narayana Mandir, of which the sheer size, audacity, and complexity provoked some vibrations of deja-vu and the like, but which left the assembled Vaisnavas a little cold in the feet. Even some folks from Switzerland that we met told us they were not exactly feeling any warmth in the soul from all the assembled gold. I personally got more benefit from observing the art of haggling with taxi wallas as performed by Caitanya on our way back to the Delhi temple.

After picking up the rest of our NV crew at the airport, we took a late-night drive to Vrndavana. We arrived at 3am, taking the dust of the Holy Dham on our heads.

O Krsna, I cannot imagine or remember the pious deeds I performed to earn the privelage of being here in Vrndavana now. Let me fully imbibe what is here for me to experience in love and devotion.