Day 29 Chowpatty 1/4
Finally had a chance to read today, as I am a long-time nerd and this is my pleasure. I hang out mostly in the Vrndavana Gardens area, a picturesque replica of the Dham with many blooming and flowering plants, and a wonderful kadamba tree, which is right next to the Mandir building. HH Radhanath Maharaja would wander in every once in a while, so I tried to look like I was studying extra hard and not spacing out.
Had a nice talk with HG Karuna-Sindhu Prabhu, from Montreal, after an opulent Ekadasi feast. Lots of nice nectar, helping em to get beyond some misconceptions of brahmacarya. Brahmacarya is not just celibacy and no speaking with the ladies. Rather, it's pure, humble service-attitude, a great desire to give Krsna to others, and seeing all living entities as souls, especially by distributing books. I'm eternally grateful for devotees like him for helping me find out my own misconceptions that I didn't even consciously know I had. I look up to him and all the brahmacaris here with all humility.
We also went to a nice home program this evening at the home of another Caitanya Prabhu, a congregation member and architect who also spends time in NYC. Our Caitanya Prabhu, in his own American transcendental way, even got the big atheist doctors on the couch to chant the Holy Names. I've never heard such a transcendental motivation speech from Caitanya. Must've been his hunger, exhaustion, and exasperation when people don't chant during programs. I wish I would've recorded it. Anyway, after some nice, simple prasad, and cultured Mumbai association, it turned out to be a very warm and gracious experience for all involved.
Day 30 Chowpatty 1/5
It has been another successful year, for I am here celebrating my appearance day in the company of Vaisnavas. My gift to myself was another day of chanting Hare Krsna, which I did today on japa beads, playing guitar, through headaches and painful foot problems, etc.
HH Radhanath Maharaja spoke in Bhagavatam class on enemies the devotee has, which may seem like a contradiction since a devotee is not supposed to have any enemies. Of course, our only enemy in devotional service is our mind. Great demons like Ravana and Hiranyakasipu performed all pious deeds and austerities to gain what they desired, and once they gained what they desired their mind took over, and all inauspiciousness happened. Arjuna says that the mind is harder to control than the raging wind, like a hurricane. The mind is like a tiger, always looking for an opportunity to escape its pen and wreak havoc, because we don't build our fence high enough. What hope do we have?
Our only hope is constant absorption in Krsna, attentive chanting of the Holy Name, and surrounding ourselves always with the association of strong like-minded devotees who can inspire us and lift us up beyond the mundane.
We celebrated with a late-night feast at Govinda's, despite our previous stomach problems. The Vyasa-Puja offering was not words of appreciation, but gigantic slices of cake. Forced to make a speech, I said that the only measure of success in my life is that I always spend my birthdays filling my gourd with pizza with the devotees. Maybe after a few more slices of the chili paneer, I may come to some level of self-realization. In any case, please pray for my digestion.