Day 26-27 Puri-Chowpatty 1/1-2
Somehow we survive another journey and arrive back home, at Radha-Gopinath Mandir. We immediately take advantage, and I mean take advantage, of our one free meal at Govinda's. The only cost is some serious stomach problems the next morning....early the next morning, at 215 am. The added benefit is that I get most of my rounds done before mangal-arati, old NV style.
Later in the morning we are there for the revival of the brahmacari class, led by HG Govinda Prabhu. He speaks on speaking, on knowing how to speak the truth, how to speak it sweetly, and how to speak it absolutely. He says that we should understand that to correct someone on an equal platform is a subtle art that depends on our relationships, and the trust we have developed in these relationships.
As a preacher, we can either use the rose or the thunderbolt, depending on the personalities involved or the situation, but it is best not to imitate the heaviness of Prabhupada, as some devotees may be wont to do. HH Radhanath Maharaja joins us to add his ever-flowing nectar, saying that Prabhupada always used his chastisements to lift devotees up further in their bhakti. If we cannot lift people up through our concern or corrections, then we have no other alternative but to speak sweetly.
We also rendezvous with Govinda Prabhu for some katha in the afternoon. Govinda can do nothing but share and speak the Absolute Truth, so we are beyond fortunate. He speaks about the importance of proper training, applied strongly and consistently in order to make sure our preaching and sadhana is not just like a quick fire in the frying pan. I ask him about the difficulties of maintaining brahmacarya coming from a Western background, and Govinda gets lovingly heavy with me, saying there are hundreds and hundreds of examples of people, like Catholic monks, who have kept similar vows living in the West.
It is a mistake to think that because I'm a Western body that I cannot keep such vows, and if I am thinking in such a way, I am instantly disqualifying myself. He also says that the needed mental discipline for this process comes from sticking to the process with sincerity, faith, and above all effort. HH Radhanath Maharaja kindly interrupts us, and ends up asking Ghanashyam Prabhu to one day make bagels NYC style for the assembled Vaisnavas. When, oh when, will that day be mine??
Day 28 Chowpatty 1/3
Today we braved the hellish ride through the billboards of Mumbai to briefly visit the Gopal's Garden school, a very charming institution where the Vaisnavas of tomorrow are blooming. We then made the long trek to the Govardhan Farm Community. The tranquil, beauteous atmosphere shined this lad up real nice, with memories on New Vrindaban, sans 3 feet on snow.
We took darshan of Gaur-Nitai and the cows and headed to the river for a dip. I'm no Olympic swimmer, but thanks to a few sandbars I was able to be a big boy and swim across. Mauricio, also not a gold-medalist, made it about 3/4 of the way across and then came to a halt, saved by the hero of the day Justin. Never a dull moment with this crew.
We honored prasad and then got a short tour of the facilities, checking out the bio-gas set-up, in which the farm devotees supply their cooking and electricity needs through the methane gas produced by the piles and piles of cow dung. Caitanya and Justin, looking like a potato bandit, then took a spin on the temple motorcycle. Unlike Mauricio, they did not have any near-death experiences.
Tonight at radha-Gopianth there was a wonderful program celebrating the devotees' selfless service during the book marathon. Exciting stories and experiences were shared about the times in Dadar Stall and the equally hellish coal mines of Bihar. HG Mahamuni Prabhu shared some wisdom from New Vrindaban's very own HH Varsana Swami, in which Maharaja described the synergy of yoking two oxen together, getting the power of three oxen (via the power of Krsna). he compared this to the combined efforts of all the devotees during the marathon, saying the power of their combined sincerity and effort produced results beyond expectations, and more importantly, connected the devotees deeper and deeper.
HH Radhanath Maharaja shared his impressions of a Prabhupada lecture, in which Prabhupada spoke about the instructions of his Guru Maharaja ("If you ever get money, print books"), and of how deep Prabhupada's gratitude is towards us for being vessels of his Guru Maharaja's mission. An incredibly inspiring program. Devotional empowerment was passed freely to all assembled.