Day 15-16 Vrndavana 12/20-21
We hit the Parikrama trail in Vrndavana bright and early. Myself, Mauricio, Caitanya, and Sachin. We shared the sweet excitement of Krsna dancing like never before on Kaliya's heads at Kaliya Ghat. This was followed by our deepest dandavats of Sri-Sri Radha-Madha Mohan Mandir and the Samadhi of Sanatana Goswami. One realization that I had was that the Goswamis are not some ancient historical figures in our tradition. Because they were entrusted with the systematic assembling of the deep imports and purports of Krsna Consciousness and also because 500 years on a historical scale is but a blip, then they truly are our contemporaries, our senior authorities, and we can feel their presence by sincerely following their example, as much as we can feel Prabhupada's presence.
We then visited Imlitala, the wonderful resting and chanting place of Lord Caitanya, and also the spot where Krsna chanting for the missing presence of Radhe after She dissapeared during the rasa-lila. There was a beatiful temple of Radha-Gopinath and Gaur-Nitai, where they were wearing mittens to protect their hands from the winter chill. There were also some enchanting and very life-like 3-D paintings of Lord Caitanya's pastimes. Sachin has now decided this is his new favorite place in Vrndavana.
Turning the corner to go into Radha-Damodar Mandir, I felt a sharp grabbing motion around my face, as a local monkey took my specs and ran off. As it always happens, a young Brajbasi somehow immediately retrieved them (with no major damage), and after a little polite haggling, we paid him 50 rupees and went on our way. A terrifying experience. Justin thinks it's some kind of Braj business, in which the kids are in cahoots with the monkeys, but I'm happy my glasses didn't succumb to a second animal-related mishap in less than six months.
In Radha-Damodar Mandir, we took darshan of the sparkling and smiling Deities and then headed into Prabhupada's rooms. Here I realized, taht for us young devotees, it is our responibility to carry on this mission of Prabhupada's, and this is a very heavy load. Who are we to be the bearers of this universal task? What does our future hold? How can we learn to become resplendent in Krsna's mercy? My deep prayer to Prabhupada, and also outside of Rupa Goswami's samadhi, is to pick us up and make us worthy and capable of pleasing Prabhupada in this lifetime and eternally. The causeless mercy of his lotus feet is the path back to Godhead and our only hope, despite all our kicking and screaming.
After getting lost for acouple of miles, we took darshan of the mystical, all-merciful Sri-Sri Radha-Raman. We then picked up the pace for the rest of the Parikrama, stopping ony for sugarcane juice, as we reached the Krsna-Balarama Mandir around 3pm, seven hours after we began. Another purifying journey.....
...for me that purification has turned into a serious case of body aches and a head-cold. We are now currently at the Govardhan Asrama, hosted by the magnanimous Gauranga Kishore PRabhu, so I am hoping I am not too wiped out for tomorrow's festivities, including katha with HH Kesava Bharata Maharaja. May Giriraja's presence give me strength.
Day 17 Govardhan 12/22
Woke up still feeling beat-up, but better. Such strange dreams. I was doing some kind of parikrama in my sleep and at certain temples, like a Jagnnath temple, I was able to get out of the dream-state and get some good rest. The mystery of the purificiation of the Dham knows no bounds.
I was up for Bhagvatam class given by HG Gauranga Kishore Prabhu, who spoke that pride, envy, and all other elfish nastiness comes strictly from being on the bodily platform. One of the essential purports of "trnad api sunicena" is that humility only arises when we are acting on the level of the soul. We must perform austerities and penances, and as HH Kesava Bharata Maharaja was speaking today in his gracious katha to us that one of those austerities is satisfaction of the mind. The nature of our mind is to constantly go hither-thither, always searching for some fresh combination of matter to enjoy. To be still and satisfied in our min in any situation, no matter how difficult, is a challenging austerity we must master. I asked Maharaja a question about having doubt and cynicism with the dealings of devotees and the history of ISKCON, and he replied that we must first follow Lord Caitanya's order of becoming guru, of developing all transcendental qualities, before we can see through all disturbances and difficulties with the proper eyes. Conflict never dissapears. It even exists in the spiritual world amongst the gopis and cowherd boys, so we must learn to becomeequipoised in its presence, educated and learned in sastra by always going deeper into Prabhupada's books, in order to rise above all skepticism.
To be in Giriraja's presence is sweet, and I have been tryin to meditate on this good fortune through my bodily pains. May we be allowed to take a piece of Giriraja with us in our hearts to always have and hold in loving devotion.
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Day 13 Vrndavana 12/18
We made a quick jaunt through Barsana, taking the dust of Unchagaon (Lalita Sakhi's village), Maan Mandir, Mayur Kutir, Dhan Ghat and the Jaipur Temple. By now, everyone, including our fearless leader Devananda Pandit Prabhu, is pretty much wiped out and tomorrow we will become "take it easy guys" and chill at the temple.
On the bus ride back we has some nice katha with our fellow British chaps from the Bhaktivedanta Manor, as well as the freshly arrived Jagannath Kirtan Prabhu and Bhakta Jude from Florida. We discussed that to ignore the mercy of Krsna, or to dwell too much upon our own hang-ups, is like being stuck in a well, and when someone then throws you a rope to rescue you, you instead demand to first know who put you down in the well in the first place. Just grab the rope and climb! We also glorified Drutakarma Prabhu (Micheal Cremo) and his work to expose the fraud of the attachment to the Darwinian paradigm and to reveal the real, ancient history of human life in this world. Jagannath Kirtan said that most modern archeologists are terrified to dig in India for fear that they may discover a past that will make them useless.
The cake was taken after another reality-altering kirtan led by HG Aindra Prabhu, when myself, Jagannath Kirtan, Jude, and Anil from the Manor were graced with the opportunity to join Aindra on a trip to the Katyayani Temple for arati and offerings. First, we entered Aindra's room and viewed his altar, with over 1200 salagram silas gracefully placed. The perfection of vision for our eyes! At the Katyayani Temple, Aindra shared some pastimes of Katyayani as Yogamaya, and of the gopis worshiping her to gain Krsna as their husband. So many impressions...the unique cacophony of the arati for the diety of Durga, Aindra explaining the feminine material energy and our own nature to b enjoyed by Krsna, and his own aspirations in that regard. It was so nice to share in this mystical experience, for Aindra became more than his kirtan legend. He was our gracious guide, fellow devotee, and very sweet friend. He is a perfect example of a Vaisnava who can fulfill the desires of everyone, just like a desire tree.
Day 14 Vrndavana 12/19
We can't hear enough that unless and until we become absorbed in chanting and hearing, we cannot properly perform any other mode of devotional service. The Holy Names should live foremost on the lips, and in the minds and hearts, of all sincere devotees. This is the simple path of success we often gloss over in the urge to complicate.
Had a chance to sing for Prabhupada in his samadhi during the morning arati at 7am. I hope I pleased him and all the assembled Vaisnavas. I can do so much more for Prabhupada, if I just let myself...May the intimacy of his presence grow and grow within me.
Mauricio and I went to the goshalla in the afternoon. My hard heart cracked and flowed in the calves' pen. A cow who is protected is the most wonderful livng entity in the world, the source of all love and learning. Mauricio initiated his cowherd pastimes by giving the assembled bovine Vaisnavas a sincere and through brushing. Good times for all.
Had another darshan of Aindra PRabhu's collection of 1200 salagram silas in the evening, as we all relished the story of how Tulasi Devi cursed Krsna to appear as a stone, told in deep loving detail by Aindra. Aindra also told us of hs plans to bring harinama-sankirtana back to the forefront of the devotees' lives, via the Yuga-Dharma HariNama Sankirtana Resurgance Coalition. A true revolution, where one will shake his behind and his body, mind, and soul will follow. May we get swept up further in the waves of the bhakti devotees like Aindra emanate in all mercy for us much lesser souls.