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.