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“May Mother Ganges Bless You Today”

Дневник странствующего монаха – Том 15, глава 1

“Да благословит тебя сегодня мать Ганга”

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Ever since becoming a devotee of Lord Krishna in 1970, I have been fascinated with the Kumbha Mela festival. This year I decided to join millions of other pilgrims in the journey to the Ardha Kumbha Mela where, from January 15th to March 4th, ISKCON devotees were to follow in Srila Prabhupada’s footsteps by bringing his books, the Holy Names and prasadam to the festival.

Kumbha Mela is the largest religious gathering in the world.
Estimates anticipated that 120 million pilgrims—nearly double the
population of England and France combined—would visit the Mela over
seven weeks. The Mela takes place four times within a twelve-year period
on the banks of four of India’s most holy rivers: the Godavari River in
Nashik, the Shipra River in Ujjain, the Ganges River in Haridwar and
the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna, and Saraswati Rivers in Prayagraj
(formerly known as Prayaga ).

This year’s Mela was to be held at the confluence site at Prayagraj.
The point of convergence is called “Triveni Sangam.” Bathing in any of
the sacred rivers has a purifying effect, but it is said that the
purification is increased a hundred times at the sangam and a thousand
times at the sangam during Kumbha Mela.

Srila Prabhupada writes:

“Bathing during the month of Magha at the Magha-Mela [Kumbha
Mela] still takes place. This is a very old Mela (assembly), dating from
time immemorial. It is said that ever since the Lord in the form of
Mohini took a bucket of nectar and kept it at Prayaga, holy men have
gathered there every year and observed the Magha-Mela. Every twelfth
year there is a Kumbha-Mela, a great festival, and all the holy men from
all over India assemble there. Bathing at the confluence of the Ganges
and Yamuna, near the fort at Allahabad (Prayaga), is mentioned in the
revealed scriptures:

“maghe masi gamisyanti ganga yamuna sangamam
gavam sata sahasrasya samyag dattam ca yat phalam
prayage magha mase vai try aham snatasya tat phalam

“If one goes to Prayaga and bathes at the confluence of the
Ganges and Yamuna in the month of Magha, he attains the result of giving
hundreds and thousands of cows in charity. Simply by bathing for three
days there, he attains the results of such a pious activity.”

[ Caitanya Caritamrita, Madhya 18.145 ]

I had a special desire to attend Kumbha Mela this year as the main
bathing day, February 4th, was on Mauni Amavasya, which creates a
special tithi that appears only once every 200 years. However, my main
motivation to go was to meet with the holy men Srila Prabhupada
describes in his above purport, and to share with them the glories of
Lord Caitanya and His movement of chanting the holy names which He
inaugurated just over 500 years ago. My experience in India is that most
people are aware of the 10 primary incarnations of the Lord—the das
avatars such as Lord Ramacandra, Varaha, Kurma, Matsya and so on. But
very few are aware of the avatar of this age, Lord Caitanya, whose
appearance is predicted in ancient scriptures like Srimad Bhagavatam:

krsna varnam tvisakrsnam
sanopangastra parsadam
yajnaih sankirtana prayair
yajanti hi su medhasah

“In the Age of Kali, intelligent persons perform congregational
chanting to worship the incarnation of Godhead who constantly sings the
names of Krsna. Although His complexion is not blackish, He is Krsna
Himself. He is accompanied by His associates, servants, weapons and
confidential companions.” [ Srimad Bhagavatam 11.5.32 ]

The origin of Kumbha Mela is mentioned in the Vedic scriptures. It is
stated that in bygone ages, the demigods and demons assembled together
to churn the ocean of milk to produce the nectar of immortality. Mandara
Mountain was used as a churning rod, and Vasuki, the king of serpents,
became the rope for churning. The demigods took Vasuki’s tail and the
demons his head, and they churned the milk ocean for one thousand
celestial years. Among many other amazing things, a pot of immortal
nectar was produced. The demigods were fearful that the demons would
take advantage of it, so they stole the pot and hid it in the four
places on Earth where the Mela is held. During the act of hiding, a drop
of immortal nectar spilled from the pot at each of the four places.
Kumbha Mela is held at the time when, according to astrological
calculations, the immortal nectar is most readily available to those who
bathe in the sacred rivers.

Approaching the festival site, we pulled over at a small hill that
provided a panoramic view of the Mela. The magnitude of the site
testified to the pilgrims’ enthusiasm to be liberated from the material
world through contact with the nectar of immortality. Witnessing the
vast landscape of tents, I was fascinated by the thought that so many
people were coming simply for spiritual purposes.

Prabhupada said:

“At the Kumbha-Mela, millions of people come to take bath in the
Ganges because they are interested in how to become spiritually
liberated from this material world. They travel thousands of miles to
take bath in the Ganges at the holy place of Prayaga.” [ Room
conversation with Pusta Krsna das ]

From our vantage point on the hill, I could see thousands upon
thousands of people pouring into the Mela. These people were prepared to
travel long distances and tolerate many discomforts, including sleeping
in austere conditions in very cold weather. Some arrived on overcrowded
trains. Others came by bus, car and even ox carts. While the rich and
famous flew into Prayagraj on chartered flights, the multitudes came on
foot carrying all their necessities—food and a couple changes of
clothes—in bundles on their heads. But whether rich or poor, everyone
had the same agenda: to bathe in the sangam at the auspicious moment and
attain passage back to the spiritual world. I could hear many people
glorifying the Ganges with cries of “Ganga Ma ki jaya! All glories to
Mother Ganges!”

Sastra supports their glorification:

nimna ganam yatha ganga
devanam acyuto yatha
vaisnavanam yatha sambhuh
purananam idam tatha

“Just as the Ganga is the greatest of all rivers, Lord Acyuta the
supreme among deities and Lord Sambhu [Siva] the greatest of Vaisnavas,
so Srimad-Bhagavatam is the greatest of all Puranas.” [ Srimad
Bhagavatam 12.13.16 ]

I knew that as Westerners, we would be a tiny minority at the Mela,
but we were not the first foreigners to take part by any means. A
seventh-century diary written by Hiuen Tsiang from China mentions Kumbha
Mela. He writes that he witnessed half a million people gather on the
banks of the Ganges at Prayagraj to observe a celebration for 75 days.
He even mentions that a king was present with his ministers, scholars,
philosophers and sages, and that he gave away huge amounts of gold,
silver and jewels to acquire pious credit and assure himself a place in
heaven.

The current rulers of India, likewise, were taking part in the Mela
by facilitating many of the logistical details. The government had been
working on the services and accommodations for an entire year, and the
statistics were mind-boggling. Over 6,000 religious and cultural
organizations had been allotted land, including our International
Society for Krsna Consciousness. The Mela site sprawled over 32 square
miles, an area equivalent to a large town. There were 4,200 premium
tents, 300 kilometers of roads, 122,000 toilets, 20,000 dustbins, 10,000
policemen and 30,000 military personnel. They had provided row upon row
of simple tents for free accommodation. There were lost-and-found
centers dotted throughout the Mela, intended mainly for helping people
find their lost family members and friends. In 2013, thousands of
people—mostly women and children—went missing in the huge crowds. The
entire cost of this year’s Kumbha Mela was estimated at 400 million
dollars.

There were many ashrams and camps distributing free food throughout
the Mela, including our ISKCON camp. Overall, 5,384 metric tons of rice,
7,834 tons of wheat, 3,174 tons of sugar and 767 kiloliters of kerosene
were allocated to the food distribution centers. 160 dispensers of
clean drinking water were available throughout the Mela.

A 100-bed hospital and ten smaller hospitals staffed by 200 doctors
and 1,500 health professionals were set up throughout the event. 80
practitioners of Ayurveda were also available. There were elaborate
plans for waste management too. Every one of the 122,000 toilets were
geo-tagged to help tackle any problems. Talk about organization!

Meeting India’s Spiritual Leader

It is generally very difficult to meet famous spiritual personalities
in India due to strict security policies, but luck was on my side. My
good friend Pundrik Goswami of the Radha Raman temple in Vrindavan
invited me to stay with him at a camp where many of the principal
spiritual dignitaries would be staying. It was called, Guru Karishni
Camp, and was run by Swami Sharanandaji Maharaja, a prominent figure in
Vrindavan. I considered this to be a golden opportunity to network with
these personalities, most of whom would be unlikely to visit our ISKCON
camp at the Mela or ISKCON temples elsewhere in India.

Once I arrived at the camp, Pundrik Goswami lost no time introducing
me to the spiritual leaders present. His introduction followed a
standard format: he would begin by glorifying Srila Prabhupada and
explaining how he took Krsna consciousness to the West and how ISKCON
has become a worldwide spiritual organization. Then he would introduce
me and share some of the results of my service in different parts of the
world. His introduction acted as an endorsement whereby India’s
spiritual leaders gained confidence and respect for my humble self and,
through me, Srila Prabhupada’s movement.

Over several days I had enlightening talks with numerous personalities. These included:

· Sri Ravi Shankar, the head of the Art of Living Foundation: I
shared with him the work of ISKCON in communist countries like Russia
and China. I told him of how Srila Prabhupada went to Russia in the
1970s and of the success of our movement there since that time. He was
so touched that he gave me a beautiful silk chaddar as a gift.

· Swami Chidananda of Parmarth Niketan from Rishikesh: he wasn’t
staying at the Guru Karishni Camp, but like many other sadhus, he
visited to associate with prominent spiritual leaders. We had lunch
together on two occasions. After I spoke to him about the glories of
Srila Prabhupada, he offered to help renovate holy places in Vrindavan.
He was especially eager to give money towards cleaning Radha Kunda so
that pilgrims could drink the water from it, as well as establishing a
large evening arotika on the banks of that sacred lake.

· Keshav Prasad Maurya, the deputy chief minister of UP: he had some
misconceptions about our movement which I was happy to resolve to his
full satisfaction.

· Swami Avdeshanand, the leader of one million Naga Babas and head of
the Juna Akhada: Naga Babas (translated literally as “naked yogis”) are
worshipers of Lord Siva. With their ash-covered bodies and matted
dreadlocks, even their physique resembles his. They take vows of
celibacy, renounce societal norms and live in the Himalayas. Swami
Avdeshanand is such a respected leader that he is given the honor of
being the first person to bathe at Kumbha Mela. After our talk he took
my hand and said, “Your movement is creating a spiritual revolution all
over the world!”

· Sri Rajendra Das Ji Maharaja, a well-known sadhu with a big ashram
in Vrindavan: moved by Srila Prabhupada’s voyage to the USA and his
introduction of Krsna consciousness in almost every country of the
world, he invited me to visit him for lunch in Vrindavan.

· Lokesh Muni, leader of the Jains in India: this was the third time I
have met him over the last few years. He invited me to spend time with
him at his headquarters in Rajasthan.

Lost At The Mela

Going anywhere outside the Guru Karishni Camp was a challenge because
there was a veritable flood of humanity outside its confines: an
estimated 64 million people were descending upon the Mela to bathe on
February 4th, the most auspicious bathing day.

I woke up early that morning which was an austerity in itself. It was
mid-winter and it was cold in the tent where I was staying. I bathed
quickly in an improvised bathroom which was without hot water, and then
went out into the cold foggy morning.

“How in the world are 64 million people going to bathe along the
river bank?” I wondered. And then a doubt entered my mind. “Will I
actually be able to bathe in the river myself?”

The previous night I had searched the internet for all the
information I could find on the three sacred rivers, the Ganges, Yamuna
and Saraswati. A recent BBC article described the Ganges as the world’s
sixth most polluted river. It said that 3,000 million liters of
untreated sewage are pumped into the river every day; the figure didn’t
include the industrial waste poured into the Ganges as it descends from
the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal. By the time it reaches Prayagraj, a
town that also contributes untreated sewage to its waters, the Ganges,
the article said, becomes a sewer.

The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, claimed that cleansing the Ganges was nothing less than a mission from God.

“Ma Ganga has called me,” he told the crowd at his victory
celebration some years ago when he was swept to power in a landslide
victory. “She has decided some responsibilities for me. Ma Ganga is
screaming for help; she is saying ‘I hope one of my sons gets me out of
this filth’. It is possible it has been decided by God for me to serve
Ma Ganga.”

He pledged serious money to his Clean Ganga Mission – more than $3 billion dollars.

This was sobering and disturbing information. I turned away from
Google to the Srimad Bhagavatam and the purports of my spiritual master
for guidance. My doubts were resolved when I read this:

yat pada sevabhirucis tapasvinam
asesa janmopacitam malamdhiyah
aadyah ksinotyanvaham edhati sati
yatha padangustha vinihsrta sarit

“By the inclination to serve the lotus feet of the Supreme
Personality of Godhead, suffering humanity can immediately cleanse the
dirt which has accumulated in their minds during innumerable births.
Like the Ganges water, which emanates from the toes of the lotus feet of
the Lord, such a process immediately cleanses the mind, and thus
spiritual or Krsna consciousness gradually increases.” [ Srimad
Bhagavatam, 4.21.31 ]

In his purport, Srila Prabhupada writes:

“In India, one can actually see that a person who takes a bath in
the Ganges waters daily is almost free from all kinds of diseases. A
very respectable brahmana in Calcutta never took a doctor’s medicine.
Even though he sometimes felt sick, he would not accept medicine from
the physician but would simply drink Ganges water, and he was always
cured within a very short time. The glories of Ganges water are known to
Indians and to ourselves also. The river Ganges flows by Calcutta.
Sometimes within the water there are many stools and other dirty things
which are washed away from neighboring mills and factories, but still
thousands of men take baths in the Ganges water, and they are very
healthy as well as spiritually inclined. That is the effect of Ganges
water. The Ganges is glorified because it emanates from the toes of the
lotus feet of the Lord. Similarly, if one takes to the service of the
lotus feet of the Lord, or takes to Krsna consciousness, he is
immediately cleansed of the many dirty things which have accumulated in
his innumerable births.”

Elsewhere, Rupa Goswami writes that the Ganges is always pure, regardless of its seeming pollution:

drstaih svabhava janitair vapusas ca dosair
na prakrtatvam iha bhakta janasya pasyet
gangambhasam na khalu budbuda phena pankair
brahma dravatvam apagacchati nira dharmaih

“Being situated in his original Krishna conscious position, a
pure devotee does not identify with the body. Such a devotee should not
be seen from a materialistic point of view. Indeed, one should overlook a
devotee’s having a body born in a low family, a body with a bad
complexion, a deformed body, or a diseased or infirm body. According to
ordinary vision, such imperfections may seem prominent in the body of a
pure devotee, but despite such seeming defects, the body of a pure
devotee cannot be polluted. It is exactly like the waters of the Ganges,
which sometimes during the rainy season are full of bubbles, foam and
mud. The Ganges waters do not become polluted. Those who are advanced in
spiritual understanding will bathe in the Ganges without considering
the condition of the water.” [ Nectar of Instruction, Text 6 ]

Reading these instructions, I decided to follow the advice of my
spiritual master and the Srimad Bhagavatam. I remembered a key verse:

yasya deve para bhaktir
yatha deve tatha gurau
tasyaite kathita hy arthah
prakasante mahatmanah

“Only unto one who has unflinching devotion to the Lord and to
the spiritual master does transcendental knowledge become automatically
revealed.” [ Svetasvatara Upanisad 6.23 ]

“I’m going,” I said to myself out loud, with full conviction.
“Whatever it takes, I will bathe at the Triveni Sangam at the auspicious
time.”

The arrangements to travel to the sangam were made by Pundrik Goswami.

“Maharaja,” he said to me, “you’ll come with me and the spiritual
leaders in a van, and your assistants, Narottam das, Vikram and
Kartamashi das, can go in another. It will take us around four hours to
reach the sangam.”

“That’s a long time,” I said. “How far away is it?”

“It’s 12 kilometers from here,” Goswami said.

“So we’ll be traveling at a rate of three kilometers an hour?” I asked.

“Well, remember there are 64 million people vying for that little
space at the sangam,” he said. “The police say that since midnight last
night 32 million people have bathed. But we’ll make it. We have a police
escort.”

I sat on the floor of the van, relinquishing the seats to six elderly
sadhus who were joining us on the journey. Wanting to focus on the
purpose of our journey, I read aloud the following verse from Caitanya
Caritamrta:

mahattvam gangayah satatam idam abhati nitaram
yad esa sri visnos carana kamalotpatti subhaga
dvitiya sri laksmir iva sura narair arcya carana
bhavani bhartur ya sirasi vibhavaty adbhuta guna

“The greatness of mother Ganges always brilliantly exists. She is
the most fortunate because she emanated from the lotus feet of Sri
Visnu, the Personality of Godhead. She is a second goddess of fortune,
and therefore she is always worshiped both by demigods and by humanity.
Endowed with all wonderful qualities, she flourishes on the head of Lord
Siva.” [ Caitanya Caritamrita, Adi Lila 16.41 ]

When the sadhus heard me chanting the Sanskrit glorifying Mother Ganges, they all smiled broadly.

“May Mother Ganges bless you today!” one said, placing his hand upon my hand.

Our van crawled through the dense crowds. Seeing the sadhus inside,
people folded their hands in respect, and some touched the van and then
touched their heads. When they saw me crouched on the floor of the van,
many smiled and called out, “Hare Krsna!”

“You Western vaisnavas are keeping our spiritual culture alive,” one of the sadhus said to me.

We finally arrived at the river confluence hours later. The bank
seethed as people tried to move towards the water while others tried to
move back after bathing.

“Alright! We’re here!” Pundrik Goswami called. “Everybody out!”

I hesitated. “Out where?” I thought. There was not an inch of free ground.

I quickly changed into a small red gamcha (thin cotton waist towel)
and slung a small towel around my neck. Kicking off my sandals, I
grabbed my cell phone and placed it in a small plastic bag. “Just in
case!” I thought. Finally, I tucked my bag containing my passport and
money safely under the seat. For a moment I contemplated taking a
sweater because it was so cold outside.

“No,” I decided. “I’ll just take the bare minimum. The river is only meters away and we’ll be back in a flash!”

Without warning, the sliding door I was leaning on opened and I fell out of the van and onto the ground.

“I’m going to get trampled!” I thought. The crowd surged over me and
around me. I pushed myself upwards to gasp for air; all I could see was
waves of people for kilometers in every direction. When I finally
managed to steady myself on my feet, I saw I was 20 meters behind the
sadhus. They were intrepidly pushing their way towards the water, the
policemen guarding them on all sides. The crowd was squeezing me and it
was hard to breathe.

“Wait for me!” I yelled, trying to recover the distance between us.
My cries merged into the tumultuous noise created by the pilgrims as
they strained forward to bathe in the nectar of immortality.

I managed to rejoin the sadhus just a few meters from the Triveni
Sangam where the Ganges flows alongside the Yamuna and the mystical
Saraswati River joins them from beneath the ground. We were also joined
by Vikram and Kartamashi, who was trying to take photos in the midst of
it all. His face was ashen.

“I thought I was going to be crushed to death!” he blurted out.

The roar of the crowd at the sangam was deafening as thousands of
people simultaneously achieved their goal of bathing. Cries of “Ganga Ma
ki jaya! All glories to Mother Ganges!” reverberated everywhere.

Far away in the river, separated from the throng, I saw a small group
of four sadhus standing motionless in the water, their hands folded in
prayer. Their long, matted hair was tied up in topknots on their heads.
Though thin, they were not emaciated; in fact, they were effulgent,
almost glowing. Seeing their gravity and obvious devotion, the hair on
my arms stood up for a moment.

“That’s the mood I’m seeking,” I thought. I remembered a verse that encapsulated my aspirations:

tvayi me ‘nanya-visaya
matir madhu-pate ‘sakrt
ratim udvahatad addha
gangevaugham udanvati

“O Lord of Madhu, as the Ganges forever flows to the sea without
hindrance, let my attraction be constantly drawn unto You without being
diverted to anyone else.” [ Srimad Bhagavatam 1.8.42, “Prayers by Queen
Kunti” ]

As if hearing the verse I had just remembered, the sadhus I was with
sat down together to do puja, their attention single-pointed on the
sacred sangam, oblivious to anyone else.

“Here and now?” I thought. I watched in disbelief as they took out
all sorts of paraphernalia and, in a peaceful reverie, began offering
arotik to the three rivers. Hundreds of people directly behind us were
straining to see the sadhus do their puja, while the build-up of people
further back caused the line to bulge. People fell to the ground because
of the weight of the crowd behind them.

I heard Vikram calling, “Maharaja! Maharaja!” Over to my right, the
intense pressure of the crowd was pulling him away. Then he simply
disappeared into the mass of people.

Suddenly the crowd surged forward with such force that all of us were
thrown into the river. I clutched my phone in the plastic bag as I fell
into the cold water. I swam up to the surface, gasping for air. There
was transcendental chaos everywhere as people splashed each other in
great joy. The glorification of Mother Ganges reached a frantic pitch:
“Ganga Ma ki jaya! Ganga Ma ki Jaya! Ganga Ma ki jaya!”

Surrendering to the moment and remembering the four effulgent sadhus,
I stood with my hands folded and prayed to Mother Ganges for loving
devotion to the Supreme Lord. Then, following the prescribed method for
bathing, I dunked three times into the cold water. When I came up the
last time, one blissful sadhu jumped on me and we both tumbled back into
the water. Coming up, he again pulled me under, this time going deeper
into the water. We splashed each other in great fun, and more sadhus
joined our little melee.

“Maharaja,” I heard a voice shout. I saw Vikram swimming towards me.
“I finally found you!” he said. “Our group is back on the bank of the
river and is preparing to leave. You must come now.”

As I prepared to get out of the water I saw Kartamashi on the bank
taking photos. I raised my arms in bliss, and he took a last photo
before being pushed from behind. He and his camera just escaped falling
into the river.

I glanced back to catch a last glimpse of the four sadhus. They were nowhere to be seen.

“How is that possible?” I wondered. “There’s no way they could have
moved through all the people bathing in the sangam back to the bank.
It’s very peculiar.” I remembered something I had read a few days
before:

“Prabhupada said that although a number of the saints and sadhus
present [at Kumbha Mela] were inauthentic, many were perfect yogis, some
of them three and four hundred years old. These yogis, from remote
parts of India, would come out for the Mela and then return to
seclusion. ‘I have personally seen,’ he said, ‘that they take bath in
the Ganges and come up in the seven sacred rivers! They go down in the
Ganges and come up in the Godavari River. Then they go down and come up
in the Krsna River, and go down, like that. The devotees, therefore,
should respect everyone who attended the Mela.’” [Srila Prabhupada
lilamrta, Volume 4, Every Town and Village]

It took me a good half an hour to make it back to the van. Somehow we
had acquired a number of additional sadhus for the ride back to the
camp, so I offered to ride in the smaller car with Narottam, Vikram and
Kartamashi. Always concerned about my welfare, Pundrik Goswami
reluctantly agreed. I started to push through the crowd away from the
van when I realized I had forgotten my bag with my passport in it.

“I left my bag under the seat,” I called to Goswami. “I’ll get it when we’re back.”

“Sure, Maharaja,” he called. He held the bag up so I could see it. “I’ve got it.”

Confident that the smaller car was nearby, I made my way inch by inch
to where I had seen it parked some distance away. But to my
astonishment, it was gone. I made my way as quickly as I could back to
where the van was parked, only to find it had left as well.

I stood there, momentarily bewildered. I was alone in a crowd of 64
million people, dressed only in a small wet gamcha with a damp towel
around my neck. I had no dhoti, no kurta, no shoes, and, perhaps most
alarmingly, no jacket to protect me from the cold. I had no clear idea
where I was. All I knew was that the camp I was staying in was in Sector
7, and that that was 12 kilometers away. 12 kilometers through a mass
of humanity pressing its way along the 300 kilometers of roads
crisscrossing the Mela site. I had no map, and there were no signs
giving directions in Hindi, much less English. I glanced at my watch. It
was 4 p.m. and sunset was imminent.

Then I remembered I had my phone clutched in my hand. I unwrapped it
from its plastic-bag covering and turned it on. To my dismay I saw there
was no service available, and my battery had only 3 % left in it. I
hurriedly turned it off.

“How in the world do people know where they’re going?” I wondered.
Then, laughing to myself, I thought, “I’m probably the only person in
this crowd of 64 million people who doesn’t know where he’s going!”

Knowing for sure that the direction to proceed was not behind me, I
started walking forwards through the thick crowds surging towards the
river. An hour later, I made it to a crossroads, turned left and began
walking down a dirt road with a myriad of shops and ashrams on either
side. Each ashram was festooned with colorful banners advertising the
resident guru and his teachings. Speakers blared music from inside. As
it was now getting dark, bright lights illuminated the temporary city
built on the sandy banks of the Ganges.

People gawked at me curiously, and I understood why. I was the only
white person to be seen, and I was practically naked. Several times I
was approached by Naga-Babas who, thinking me to be one of them, pulled
me into their tents and offered me a chillum of hashish to smoke! Each
time I declined they seemed perplexed.

I knew I needed to get directions, but to my dismay I couldn’t find a
single person who spoke English. There were many different languages
being spoken around me because there were pilgrims from every part of
India, but not one of those pilgrims was speaking English. There were
policemen on every street corner, but they too could make no sense of
what I was saying. On a couple of occasions, they literally pushed me
away, apparently thinking me to be insane.

A real blow came when I heard a young Indian man say to his friend,
“Isn’t that Indradyumna Swami?” But before I could say anything, his
friend pulled him away saying, “Come on! Are you crazy? That’s not
Indradyumna Swami!” They disappeared back into the crowd before I could
confirm my identity and ask their help.

Every now and then I would turn my phone on to see if I was in range.
Each time I wasn’t, and each time the battery drained a little more.

By 8:00 pm it was quite cold. From time to time when I got too cold
to continue, I slipped into an ashram where a program was going on and
sat amongst the crowd for warmth. On one occasion, while sitting in a
chair and watching a bhajan on stage, I was approached by one of the
ashram leaders.

“Are you in need of anything?” he asked.

“Yes!” I replied enthusiastically, surprised and relieved that I had
found someone who spoke English. “I am lost in the Mela and trying to
find my way back to my camp. It’s in Sector 7. Can you help me to get
there? I have been wandering around for four hours now. Is it far away?”

“Yes, it is,” he said. “It’s about 12 kilometers away at the far end
of the Mela site. At the moment you are 50 meters from the bathing spot
at the sangam.”

My jaw dropped. I had walked in a big circle, coming back to the
exact place I had started. The ashram leader could see my
disappointment.

“Why don’t you rest here for a while?” he said. “I’ll get you a blanket.”

“Thank you,” I said. Once I was wrapped in the blanket, I succumbed
to my exhaustion and started to drift off to sleep in the chair. I awoke
with a start when my entire body began to itch. The blanket was full of
fleas and they were ruthlessly biting me. I threw the blanket to the
side and quickly left the ashram, determined to reach my destination.

I started out in a different direction. Two hours later, around 10
p.m., I realized that I couldn’t keep going unless I had something to
eat. I had learned the hard way not to eat food that I wasn’t 100% sure
of in India, but this was an emergency. I joined a line of pilgrims
waiting to be served prasadam at one of the food kitchens. It took 45
minutes for me to reach the front of the line. I was given a leaf plate
and 2 leaf cups, and was served kichari, a subji, two warm chapatis and a
cup of tea. Some smiling pilgrims waved at me to join them as they ate
their meal in a circle on the ground. Several times I heard the word
“Angreji” which means “English person”. They were kind and sympathetic
to me, probably because of my paltry attire.

Hungry, cold and tired I devoured the prasadam. “This is some of the
tastiest prasadam I ever had!” I thought, laughing to myself. Once I
finished, I thanked the pilgrims and continued on my way with renewed
vigor.

I began wondering what Pundrik Goswami, Narottam, Vikram and Kartamashi were thinking.

“Surely, they realized quite quickly that I had been left behind,” I
thought. “They must be frustrated and worried, being unable to contact
me or find me. But actually, I’m fine,” I realized. “There’s no real
danger and it’s only a matter of time until I get back to the camp,
whether it’s today or tomorrow. And I am meeting so many nice people!
Krsna played a little trick on me just so I can see how the mass of
people experience Kumbha Mela. He’s also teaching me how to fully depend
on Him. Wonderful!”

Just then I felt a rock whiz past my ear. Then another and another. Looking back I saw a group of children laughing at me.

“Pagal baba! Pagal baba! Pagal baba!” they yelled. I knew the what the phrase meant: “Crazy sadhu!”

I walked quickly away but they followed me and continued throwing stones.

“I can’t blame them,” I thought. “I must look pretty crazy—a barefoot
white guy with a dishelved sikha wandering around half naked.” Then one
of the rocks hit my elbow causing me to yell out in pain. A policeman
saw what was happening and yelled at the group of children to leave me
alone. Then he came over and spoke to me in Hindi.

“No Hindi,” I said. “English.” I got down on my hands and knees and wrote “Sector 7” in big letters in the sand.

“There,” I said, pointing. “I need to go there.”

He looked puzzled and took me by the arm to an ashram just a few
meters away. He sat me down on a mat and disappeared. Ten minutes later
he came back with a man who offered me a hot cup of tea. I gladly
accepted it and then both of them went on their ways. I curled up on the
mat and fell asleep. When I jolted awake, I checked my watch; I’d slept
for 10 minutes. I got up and continued on my way, first checking to
make sure the group of children was not around.

At 11:30 p.m. I checked my cell phone again. I was in range! But I was alarmed to see there was only 1 % battery power left.

“I have enough power for one phone call,” I thought. “If the person
doesn’t answer, I won’t be seeing any of my friends tonight.”

I choose to call Narottam. He picked up immediately.

“Hello! Hello! Gurudeva, is that you? Hello?” Narottam sounded both excited and worried.

“Yes, it’s me!” I said.

“Good Lord! We’ve been so worried. What happened? Where are you? I’ve been out looking for you for hours!”

“I’m not sure where I am,” I said. “I’ve been walking around in
circles since we were separated. But I’m fine. Just a little cold and
tired. Can you find a car and come to collect me?”

“It’s almost impossible to find a car at this hour, but I’ll try,” he
said. “The main thing is that we need to figure out where you are.” He
was silent for a moment, thinking. “OK, here’s an idea. Take a photo of
where you are and send it to me on WhatsApp. I’ll go to a police station
and ask for their help in finding your location.”

“Brilliant idea!” I said. And without even saying goodbye I hung up
and quickly took a picture of the scene in front of me. I sent the photo
on WhatsApp and my phone immediately died.

It took Narottam just 30 minutes to find me. It turned out that his
search had led him quite close to where I was, and the nearby police
kiosk was quickly able to identify the junction where I was waiting.
When he finally arrived, I jumped into the car and sat as close as I
could to the heat coming out of the vents on the dashboard. Just as the
car was pulling away there was a loud bang and it stopped in its tracks.

“What was that?” Narottam asked.

“The driver dropped his transmission,” I said with a wry smile.

“What does that mean?”

“Basically, it means we aren’t going anywhere in this car,” I said, getting out.

“Now what?” Narottam asked.

“Lots of walking!” I said. “Let’s go!”

“Where are we going?” he said.

“Sector 7 of course!” I replied.

With Narottam at my side, we were in a much better position to make
it back to our camp, simply because he speaks Hindi. He asked people for
the directions to Sector 7 and after a short time he had a good idea
how to get there.

“How long will it take to walk there?” I asked.

“Through this crowd,” he replied, “Maybe 2 or 3 more hours.”

I looked at my watch. It was 12 p.m. For the first time that day I became a bit despondent.

And then a taxi came around the corner.

“Narottam, stop that taxi!” I yelled. He literally jumped in front of
the taxi, surprising the driver, who screamed at him in Hindi.

“What did he say?” I asked.

“He said he’s not working now. No way.”

“Yes, he is,” I said. “Give me 1000 rupees.”

I opened the back door of the taxi and jumped in. The taxi driver looked shocked.

“Out!” he screamed in Hindi.

“Bhai sabh, brother!” I said. “This is for your trouble.”

He smiled when he saw the money. “No problem!” he said in English.

At 1 a.m. we pulled into our camp. Everyone was fast asleep, but I
saw the light was still on in Pundrik Goswami’s room. I knew he would be
worried about me. His eyes opened wide when he saw me standing there
barefoot in my red gamcha, the cold wet towel still around my neck.

“Maharaja, I am so sorry!” he said.

“Nothing to be sorry about,” I said with a big smile. “Tonight, I
experienced Kumbha Mela first hand, much like Hiuen Tsiang from China
probably did in the 7th century. But whereas he walked amongst half a
million people for 75 days, I walked amongst 64 million people for 9
hours. It was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life!”

We left the Mela around noon that day. When we drove out of our camp, I was surprised to see the streets were mostly deserted.

“Where is everyone?” I asked Narottam.

“Many of the people you saw yesterday came just to bathe in the
sangam,” he said. “The majority were leaving on foot late last night
when I was looking for you. More people will come again for other
important bathing days in the next few weeks. Did you enjoy your visit,
Gurudeva?”

“It was most satisfying,” I replied. “I feel as though the sadhu’s
benediction upon me has come to pass, for I indeed feel as though Mother
Ganges has blessed me. I was able to bathe in the Triveni Sangam in the
association of advanced souls at the most auspicious moment to occur in
200 years. I spent time with the masses and, most importantly, I was
able to share Krsna consciousness with a number of important spiritual
leaders of the country. I feel very fortunate to have visited this
sacred place on such an auspicious occasion.”

**********************

“There are several places in India. One of them is this
Naimisaranya and another very important place is called Prayaga,
generally known as Allahabad. But the original name is Prayaga. That is
considered to be one of the most sacred places in India. Still every
year there is a fair called Magha-Mela. Magha means during the month of
January, February, a fair takes place in which all the sages, saintly
persons, come from all over parts of India. They gather and take their
bath at the confluence of Ganga and Yamuna. That is a very nice place.
If you visit India, you should see all these nice places.”

[ Srila Prabhupada lecture, Srimad Bhagavatam 1.2.6. London, August 26, 1971 ]

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The Perfection of Chanting Hare Krsna / Совершенство воспевания Харе Кришна

“The purification of one’s chanting hari-nama means as soon as you chant the holy name of Krsna you will see the form of Krsna, realize the qualities of Krsna, remember the pastimes of Krsna. That is pure chanting of Hare Krsna mantra. That is stated in the commentary of Srila Jiva Goswami: that a pure devotee who chants Hare Krsna mantra immediately realizes the nama, rupa, guna, lila – everything about Krsna, simply by chanting the names. You will feel the form of Krsna. You will remember all His qualities. ‘Oh, Krsna is so qualified – He is so magnanimous.’ Then you will remember His lila pastimes: ‘Oh, Krsna instructed Arjuna. Krsna played with His cowherd boys. Krsna had very nice talks with the gopis, with His mother, Yasoda.’ These things you will remember. That is the actual perfection of chanting.”

[ Srila Prabhupada quoted in ‘Srila Prabhupada Lilamrita’ Volume 4, Every Town and Village – Around the World. 1968 – 1971 ]

 

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Подношение на день ухода Шрилы Прабхупады 2018

Дорогой Шрила Прабхупада, пожалуйста, примите мои смиренные поклоны.
Вся слава вам.

Как всегда, день этот для меня и сладок, и горек. Понимание, что вы отправились домой в духовный мир – единственное, что утешает боль утраты. Конечно, наша печальная потеря стала великолепным приобретением для многих обитателей духовного мира. Можно себе представить радостный праздник, устроенный по поводу вашего долгожданного возвращения! Для преданных вполне естественно ценить самоотверженное служение таким великим душам, как вы. Кавирадж Госвами пишет в Чайтанья-Чаритамрите:

«Слушая о деяниях Рупы и Санатаны Госвами, приближенные Шри Чайтаньи Махапрабху говорили: «Стоит ли удивляться достижениям человека, на которого Сам Господь пролил Свою милость?»

[ Шри Чайтанья-Чаритамрита, Мадхйа 19.132 ]

Скорее всего, теперь вы рано поутру гуляете по лугам и пастбищам, бегаете и играете в лесах Враджа. Вы непременно катаетесь по земле в духовном экстазе! Вы стремились к этому, когда написали 13 сентября 1965 года на Джаладуте свою знаменитую «Молитву лотосным стопам Кришны». Без сомнения, это из-за вашего успеха в исполнении желания вашего духовного учителя (чтобы сознание Кришны проповедовалось на западе) Господь ответил на вашу молитву и забрал вас домой.

Шрила Прабхупада, вы даровали миру уникальнейший из даров, обучая одновременно и искусству жить, и искусству умирать. В этом временном мире страданий и то, и другое непросто. И все же вы сделали и то, и другое возможным. При следовании вашим простым наставлениям жизнь приносит радость, а смерть становится просто сменой декораций из новоприобретенных друзей и освежающего разнообразия служений, которые, в конце концов, забирают обратно, в духовное небо. И что самое главное, жизнь в сознании Кришны гарантирует, что мы в этой духовной обители окажемся с вами, Шрила Прабхупада.

Почти что 70 лет тому назад я родился в этом материальном мире – такой же грешник, как любой человек, родившийся до меня. И мне было совсем неплохо на этой дороге из нескончаемых циклов рождений и смертей. Так все и шло до того дня, когда по милости ваших учеников вы появились в моей жизни. Вишнуджана Махараджа знал эту верную формулу. Когда в тот день я повстречал его на зеленых лужайках Университета Мичигана, первое, о чем что я спросил у него, было: «Махараджа, кто это – Кришна?» Улыбнувшись, он ответил: «Садитесь, молодой человек. Прежде чем ответить на ваш вопрос, позвольте мне рассказать вам о моем духовном учителе».

Шрила Прабхупада, я всего лишь одна из множества павших душ, которых вы спасли. Вы так добры. Скорее всего, при приближении к вратам Вайкунтхи для получения допуска нужно будет лишь упомянуть ваше имя.

«У тебя есть качества, чтобы зайти сюда?» – могут сказать Джая или Виджая.

Достаточно будет ответить: «Беспричинная милость Шрилы А.Ч. Бхактиведанты Свами Прабхупады».

Тогда привратники улыбнутся и скажут: «Хорошо. Входи!»

Конечно, всем понятно, что если мы хотим дерзновенно сослаться на ваше имя, мы должны будем добиться вашей благосклонности, служа желанию вашего сердца в этом мире. Мы не знаем, кто вы в духовном мире, но бесспорно, что служа вашим желаниям в этом мире, мы заслужим привилегии однажды служить вам в мире духовном.
Самое смешное, Шрила Прабхупада, что чем я становлюсь старше и тело мое становится старее и больнее, тем сильнее у меня желание помогать вам в распространении вашего движения по городам и весям этого мира. Временами это расстраивает. Но я пришел к выводу, что именно это желание и поможет мне перебраться через океан рождения и смерти – к приюту ваших лотосных стоп на противоположной стороне. Самкиртан, без сомнений – лучший способ достичь этой цели:

«Стремишься пересечь бездну мирского бытия, мечтаешь вкусить нектар самкиртаны,тоскуешь по тому, чтоб плавать в океане божественной любви? Прими прибежище у стоп Чайтанья-чандры».

(Шрила Прабходананда Сарасвати, «Шри Чайтанья-чандрамрита», стих 93)

Шрила Прабхупада, вы говорили в своей проповеди о двух моментах, которые всегда напоминают мне о временном характере этого мира: «Не удивляйтесь, когда всё идет не так – удивляйтесь, когда всё правильно» и «Всё что угодно может произойти когда угодно». Оба эти утверждения верны. Но кажется, что преданное служение под вашим руководством опровергает эти законы материальной природы – и в этом его таинство. Как много раз, проповедуя сознание Кришны, я был свидетелем божественного вмешательства Господа. Сам факт, что кто-то покупает одну из ваших книг, приходит в храм, чтобы спрашивать об абсолютной истине, или дает разрешение провести масштабный фестиваль сознания Кришны на публике, показывает, каким образом Господь присутствует в этом мире и как может исправить все невзгоды. Я живу ради этих моментов, Шрила Прабхупада. Мэр Нью-Олбани, богатого города в США, сказал мне после просмотра нашего представления в сентябре: «Ваше шоу лучше любого бродвейского шоу в Нью-Йорке!» Услышав это, я ощутил такое удовлетворение глубоко в сердце. И – еще большее, когда он, улыбнувшись, добавил: «Главное, что в нем глубокое духовное послание».

Шрила Прабхупада, мои отношения с вами – одно из моих служений. Это очень ясное служение, ведь вы наставляли меня:

«Смело проповедуй и верь в святые имена».

Слова эти впечатаны в самые глубины моего сердца, они сама моя жизнь и душа. Я живу только для того, чтобы служить этим наставлениям. Случись мне вновь родиться, мне бы хотелось выслушать их от вас еще раз – поскольку они непременно направят меня домой, к вашим лотосным стопам в вечных духовных пределах.

На этом духовном пути я молюсь о вашей защите, но не для себя, а чтобы я мог беспрепятственно продолжать здесь вашу работу. Пожалуйста, защитите меня от любых материальных желаний в сердце; защитите от тех, кто выступает против вашего учения; защитите меня от бед, которые подстерегают падших душ в их земном бытии; и защитите от мыслей, что мои достижения – это мои заслуги. Пусть я всегда помню, что ваша милость – вот все, что я из себя представляю!

Я скучаю по вас, Шрила Прабхупада. Я знал вас лично лишь в младенчестве моей духовной жизни. Я мечтаю о том дне, когда я стоял бы перед вами очищенным, зрелым в преданном служении, и вы могли бы наставлять меня в возможностях служить вам в духовном мире – той обители, где вы в превеликом счастье служите вашему возлюбленному Господу.

Я часто вспоминаю, что в своей книге «Слуга слуги» написал Тамал Кришна Госвами:

«Я помню, в Бомбее Прабхупада пообещал мне: «Если кто-то пожертвует своим чувственным удовольствием, посвятив жизнь распространению сознания Кришны, Сам Господь Чайтанья придет в момент его смерти, скроет любые его недостатки и заберет обратно к Богу».

Шрила Прабхупада, молю, чтобы вы увидели все жертвы, на которые я пошел, распространяя это удивительное движение по всему миру. Если вы пожелаете, я готов на все это снова!

мама джанмани джанманишваре / бхаватад бхактир ахаитуки твайи

«Все, чего Я хочу, – это беспримесное преданное служение Тебе жизнь за жизнью»

[ Шикшаштакам, стих 3]

Навечно ваш слуга,
Индрадьюмна Свами

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Ваша милость, Шрила Прабхпада…

Шрила Прабхупада, ваша милость – все, из чего я состою…
“Вы не можете выжить без моей милости, и я не выживу без вашей. Это взаимно. Эта взаимозависимость основана на любви – сознании Кришны”.

[ письмо Шрилы Прабхупады ученику, 22 января 1976 ]

____________________

Srila Prabhupada, your mercy is all that I am made of ….

“You cannot survive without my mercy and I cannot survive without your mercy. It is reciprocal. This mutual dependence is based on love—Krishna Consciousness.”

[ Srila Prabhupada letter to a disciple, January 22, 1976 ]

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Терпеливо ожидая поблизости…

«Нужно принять прибежище духовного учителя. Как пылающий лесной пожар ждет туч в небесах, надо ожидать милостивой тучи духовного учителя».

[Лекция Шрилы Прабхупады в Лос-Анджелесе 2 января 1969 г.]

 

Waiting patiently by your side ….

“One has to take shelter of spiritual master. Just like the blazing fire in the forest has to wait for the clouds in the sky, similarly, one has to wait for the merciful cloud of the spiritual master.”

[ Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Los Angeles. January 2, 1969 ]

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“O spiritual master… / О духовный учитель…”

“O spiritual master, I continually offer my obeisances unto you, who are always in the presence of Srimati Radharani and very much devoted to Her. You always reside in the association of Her confidantes, the gopis, and you are the abode of loving devotion to Krishna”

“О духовный учитель, непрестанно предлагаю вам поклоны: вы всегда находитесь поблизости от Шримати Радхарани, вы очень преданы Ей. Вы всегда пребываете в общении с Ее наперсницами, гопи, вы – обитель любви и преданности Кришне”

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Подношение на Вйаса-пуджу Гирираджи Свами 2018 “Добрая душа” / Vyasa Puja Offering to Giriraja Swami 2018 – “A Good Soul”

Vyasa Puja Offering to Giriraja Swami 2018 – “A Good Soul”

My dear godbrother and friend, Giriraja Maharaja, Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

I am not usually without words but glorifying you is challenging because there is so much to say and so little time to say it! I could talk for hours about your extraordinary qualities as a disciple of Srila Prabhupada, as well as reminiscing about our 30-year friendship which is one of the deepest and most satisfying in my life.

Friendship is an essential ingredient in Krsna consciousness. In Hayagriva dasa’s book, Vrindavan Days, he recounts how Srila Prabhupada stressed the importance of friendship in one of his Vrindavan discourses at the Radha Damodar temple in the early 1970s:

“In the second stage, that of madhyam-adhikari, one treats all types of men according to their position and tries to increase his love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and he also make friends with the devotees. He doesn’t envy the devotees. If a devotee is superior, we should take lessons from him; if he is equal, we should make friends with him; and if lower, we should try to help him.”

Maharaja, you have been so kind and treated me as an equal all these years, but let the truth be known: you are my superior, for you are many light-years ahead of me in devotional service. This truth becomes evident each time I hear you speak. Your speaking perfectly exemplifies the Lord’s declaration in Bhagavad-Gita:

anudvega-karam vakyam
satyam priya-hitam ca yat
svadhya-yabhya-sanam caiva
van-mayam tapa ucyate

“Austerity of speech consists in speaking truthfully and beneficially and in avoiding speech that offends. One should also recite the Vedas regularly.”

[ Bhagavad Gita 17.15 ]

In his purport to that verse Srila Prabhupada writes that “at the same time, such talk should be very pleasurable to the ear.”

Your lectures are a pleasurable to the ear for many reasons, but in particular they are so because you sprinkle your narrative with your memories of Srila Prabhupada. You will often use first-hand accounts of Srila Prabhupada to back up a philosophical point, or you use them simply to give joy to your audience. Many times you have surprised devotees by sharing a pastime or statement from Srila Prabhupada that you have never used before. You are like a treasure chest of Prabhupada nectar. This is because he is very dear to you and you are very dear to him.

In numerous letters throughout the years Srila Prabhupada extolled your virtues as a disciple and devotee of the Lord:

“So I marked it in your person when I was in Boston, and prayed to Krishna that this good soul may be aware of the importance of Krishna Consciousness ”

[ Letter to Giriraja dasa, July 5, 1969 ]

“I am glad that Giriraja is doing very nicely. Krishna has sent a good soul for pushing on this Krishna Consciousness Movement.”

[ Letter to Satsvarupa dasa, 17 July 1969 ]

“You are also very fortunate to have an assistant like Giriraja. This boy has so quickly taken up the Krishna Consciousness cause and I am very much pleased with his behavior.”

[ Letter to Satsvarupa dasa, 15 October 1969 ]

“In his last letter Giriraja has informed me that he was sick but since then I have not heard from him. How is he? I am anxious to know. His health should be taken good care of. He is an important worker and a good soul.”

[ Letter to Tamal Krishna dasa, 20 August 1971 ]

Four times our own spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, has defined you as “a good soul”. This is but one of the reasons that I always hanker to be near you and try to obtain your association whenever possible.

In Harinam Cintamani, Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur writes:

“If one stays near a pure Vaishnava, a devotee of Krishna, for some time one can receive the bhakti, devotional energy, flowing from his body. If one can bind that energy within one’s heart, he will develop strong faith in bhakti. If one lives close to a genuine Vaisnava, devotion will soon appear within one’s heart.”

I make it a point to try and visit you in Carpinteria, California once a year. My excuse is that I am coming to rest, but have you ever seen me rest when I am with you? No! Resting is just a ruse; I come to bask in your wonderful association.

So yes, we are friends, but I think a better terminology is that we are brothers, and you are the older brother. You are older in age, older in time spent in ISKCON, and older in your realizations and wisdom in Krsna consciousness. As such I take great pleasure in honoring you on this auspicious day. In fact, so much do I appreciate what you have done for me, that I honor you in the same mood as your disciples: as a representative of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Someone may challenge: where does it say that a godbrother can worship another godbrother as representative of the Lord, as good as the Lord Himself? Well, it says so in the king of all sastras, the Srimad Bhagavatm:

däsavat sanna-täryäìghriù / pitåvad déna-vatsalaù
bhrätåvat sadåçe snigdho / guruñv éçvara-bhävanaù

“[Prahlada Maharaja] was completely cultured as a qualified brahmana, having very good character and being determined to understand the Absolute Truth. He had full control of his senses and mind. Like the Supersoul, he was kind to every living entity and was the best friend of everyone. To respectable persons he acted exactly like a menial servant, to the poor he was like a father, to his equals he was attached like a sympathetic brother, and he considered his teachers, spiritual masters and older Godbrothers to be as good as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He was completely free from unnatural pride that might have arisen from his good education, riches, beauty, aristocracy and so on.”

[Srimad Bhagavatam 7.4. 31-32]

My dear older godbrother, Giriraj Maharaja, I am confident that by studying your devotion and service to Srila Prabhupada I can learn how to satisfy him. Your proximity to Srila Prabhupada in the early days of the movement gives credence to why so many devotees, like myself, have faith in you. You know how Srila Prabhupada did things, you know what pleased him, you know what his mission was and you know how he went about it. You received specific instructions from him. On his deathbed he turned to you and asked how things would go on in this movement once he departed. You replied, “Things will go on if we are obedient to your instructions to chant 16 rounds and follow the regulative principles.” No doubt that was a perfect answer. But just as perfect was Srila Prabhupada’s response: “Things will go on with organization and intelligence.” With your keen intelligence you understood this order of Prabhupada’s, and with your remarkable memory you are able to recount many such things Srila Prabhupada told you over 48 years ago! Because your attachment to His Divine Grace is so strong I feel you will be with him forever.

yatha vaise tatha yena hana anucara

“I will follow my master to any place that he goes”.

[Srila Vrindavan das Thakur, Caitanya-bhagavat, Madhya 13.399]

In this vein, please allow me to follow you anywhere you may go, for that guarantees me eternal service to our dear and beloved spiritual master.

I often reflect on how your initial meetings with His Divine Grace were very much like his own first meetings with his Guru Maharaja, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati. When they first met, Srila Prabhupada tested the field by making a challenging statement. He told Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati that India must first be rid of British rule before people could seriously take up Krsna consciousness. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati shot back that awakening our Krsna consciousness is a much more urgent matter, as it is the very goal of life. In your memoir entitled “Seeing the Center of Things”, you explain how when you first met Srila Prabhupada you suggested that we may all be God. But Srila Prabhupada convinced you otherwise. You admitted to him, “Actually, I see that I wanted to become God.”

“Yes, that is right!” Srila Prabhupada responded. “But how can you become God? You cannot. God is in your heart and if you water the seed of devotion by chanting Hare Krishna, He will give you all the sunshine to make it grow.”

You carefully watered that devotional seed by always dealing with your spiritual master in an appropriate mood of awe and reverence. You have noted that in the beginning of your devotional career each time Srila Prabhupada lectured you would limit yourself to a single carefully thought out question.

One time you asked: “What is the relationship between service to man and service to God?”

Srila Prabhupada replied, “If a hungry man comes to you and you feed him, in a few hours his hunger will return and he will have the same problem all over again. But if you give him Krishna consciousness, all his problems will be solved permanently. If you give a man a million dollars, all of his ten dollar problems will be solved. Similarly, if you give a man Krishna consciousness, all of his little problems will be solved, including eating. And his problems will be solved permanently. He’ll become completely satisfied .”

Srila Prabhupada’s reference to a million dollars solving a person’s ten-dollar problems is interesting. You seem to have realized this early in your devotional career, for when your father offered you a check for one million dollars to leave Krsna consciousness, you smiled and refused the check. You had already realized that your spiritual father, Srila Prabhupada, was giving you the most priceless commodity: pure devotion to the Supreme Lord.

For your initial enthusiasm and faith in him, Srila Prabhupada rewarded you accordingly. He gave you a number of personal instructions. Although there are general instructions for the mass of devotees and the public at large, a disciple always hankers for some personal instructions or guidance from his guru. And so it was that one night during one of Srila Prabhupada’s early visits to Boston you got to drive him back to the temple after a program. During that drive you asked him something that had been on your mind mind for some time.

“Srila Prabhupada,” you said, “what should I do with the rest of my life?”

He paused for a moment and then replied, “Just study our books very thoroughly and chant Hare Krishna.”

Those were very simple instructions, but nothing is simplistic in Krsna consciousness. For a sincere devotee everything is very deep and meaningful. So you took those personal instructions sincerely and therefore you find yourself at a very advanced stage of Krsna consciousness today. You will of course deny your advancement, but you are outnumbered, for there are thousands of disciples, friends and well-wishers who think otherwise. Just see how many have come to honor you today! There’s a saying that “numbers never lie.” That can be contested in many situations, but not in this one. In your case, the truth is evident in the number of devotees who look up to you, respect you and love you.

I can honestly say I love you Giriraja Swami Maharaja. The love we share is a love of a time-tested friendship that goes deep and is infinitely more satisfying than any mundane friendship. It is a relationship that continues to grow based on the comradery of serving together in the pioneer days of our spiritual master’s mission. It is said that “two things equal to one thing are equal to each other.” Because of our deepening love for our spiritual master and Krsna, our love for each other is solidified forever. My hope is that we’ll meet each other when we’re back home in the spiritual world. Certainly, the possibility is there, for in a letter to Tusta Krsna das Srila Prabhupada wrote:

“Siddhasvarupa will go, you will go, Syamasundara will go, all others will go. We will have another ISKCON there. Of course, Mr. Nair must stay.”

[Srila Prabhupada Letter to Tusta Krsna, Ahmedabad December 14th, 1972 ]

I am very confident I will reach that supreme abode, my dear friend! Of course it’s not proper for a Vaisnava to make such a statement of bravado, full of arrogance and conceit. But I do not say this on any merit or qualification I have, but based on a wonderful vow that you, I and our godbrother Sriniketana das took many years ago in Mauritius. We were honoring an amazing feast offered to Srila Prabhupada on his appearance day. The prasadam was delicious and, being the young men we were, we were devouring it in great delight. By the time we finished the sweets we were totally intoxicated with both the sugar and the transcendental nature of the delicacies.

Suddenly I said to you and Sriniketana, “Prabhus! Let’s put our hands together and take a solemn vow!”

“Wonderful!” you said. “What type of vow shall we take?”

I smiled and said, “Let’s take a vow that none of us of will go back home, back to Godhead without the others.”

I was overjoyed when you immediately agreed, not fully understanding that I alone was the real beneficiary of such a vow. How was that so? Because I knew that you would be going home well before I would. That meant I would achieve that goal way before my time. With a smile from ear to ear I put out my hand. You placed yours on top of mine and Sriniketana put his on yours. Then we very loudly proclaimed the sacred vow together:

“On this auspicious day, celebrating the appearance of our beloved spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, here on ISKCON’S Vedic Farm in Mauritius, in the presence of the Lord and so many exalted devotees we hereby take the solemn vow that none of us will go back home, back to Godhead without the others. We shall all attain that supreme, divine abode of love and bliss together. We shall enter Goloka the three of us abreast to serve the Divine Couple forever and forever more!”

With our eyes closed, we held our hands tightly together for some time and when we opened them we found a great number of devotees staring at us in astonishment.

Looking back on that special day I too am astonished. I am astonished at my great fortune to have had you as a friend and mentor in this lifetime. What a wonderful life I have lived in the association of godbrothers and godsisters such as yourself. I will leave this world grateful and fully satisfied. What’s more, I am looking forward to serving Srila Prabhupada together with you again here in the material world and most eagerly in the spiritual world. There is no doubt we will recognize each other there and our friendship will continue forever.

Upendra das once asked, “Srila Prabhupada … it was raised that our relationships formed here in ISKCON with one another are eternal in themselves in addition to the service, that ISKCON and we members as we are known now shall be known there [in the spiritual world]. All this I was unable to support scripturally and lest I make an offense and direct error, I place this before you.”

Srila Prabhupada replied, “As to your question concerning whether relationships between devotees are eternal, the answer is ‘yes.’ This is confirmed by Sri Narottama dasa Thakura: cakhu-dan dilo yei, janme janme prabhu sei—‘He is my lord birth after birth.’ In this way you have to understand, by studying carefully the philosophy.”

[ Letter to Upendra, January 7, 1976 ]

The conclusion, my dear Giriraj Swami Maharaja, is that I will forever and forevermore be your friend and servant!

Yours eternally,
Indradyumna Swami

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For All Book Distributors – Past, Present and Future / Для всех распространителей книг нашего времени, прошлого и будущего

Адаптировано по «Шри Бхакти-ратнакаре» Шрилы Нарахари Чакраварти Тхакура

 

После длительного обучения во Вриндаване под руководством Шрилы Дживы Госвами в общении со многими возвышенными спутниками Шри Чайтаньи Махапрабху, Шриле Шринивасу Ачарье и его дорогим друзьям Шьямананде Прабху и Нароттаму Дасу Тхакуру было приказано покинуть Врадж, чтобы проповедовать и распространять труды шестерых Госвами. Ниже приводится описание ночи перед их отъездом.

 

Той ночью Шринивас остался в своем бхаджан-кутире, а Нароттам и Шьямананда отправились в  свои. Хотя Шринивас весь день напролет получал даршан многих Вайшнавов и Божеств, ночью он принялся сокрушаться. Воздевая руки к небесам, он взывал: «Провидение лишает меня этого счастья. Увижу ли я, никчемный, когда-нибудь вновь Божеств Говинды, Гопинатха, Мадана-Мохана, Радхи-Виноды, Радхи-Мохана и Радхи-Дамодары? Вернет ли когда Прабху Шри Гопал Бхатта меня обратно во Вриндаван, даст ли возможность вновь служить его стопам? Наградит ли вновь Локанатха Госвами, сама доброта, меня своей милостью? Потащив за волосы меня грешного, вернет ли милостивый Бхугарбха Госвами меня обратно? Станет ли Рагхунатх Дас Госвами, воплощенье доброты, вновь исполнять мои желания? А Шрила Джива Госвами – свет бедных и несчастных… Увижу ли я еще когда его стопы? О спутники Шри Чайтаньи Махапрабху, приведете ли вы снова эту несчастную душу во Вриндаван, позволите ли наслаждаться вашим обществом?»

 

Его голос прервался от плача, и по лицу потекли слезы. Похожие стенания Нароттамы растопили дерево и камень. Как тогда описать скорбь Шьямананды? Мысли о приближающейся разлуке беспокоила их так, что они не могли спать. По воле Говинды в ту ночь Шринивас заснул поздно. Ему приснился сон, в котором он увидел, как Божество Рупы Госвами Шри Говинда, покинув храм, идет к Шринивасу, ступая будто слон. Красота Шри Говинды затмевала красоту сотен богов и великолепие цветка лотоса. Он был украшен драгоценностями, а голову венчало перо павлина. Глаза у Него были удлиненные, а тело прекрасно сложено. Красота Его лика затмевала красоту сотен лун.

Говинда Дев улыбнулся и сказал:

ohe śrinivasa! kheda kara sambaraṇa śunite nā jani prāṇa karaye kemana

«О, Шринивас, хватит сокрушаться! Неужто тебе неизвестно, как твоя боль отзывается в Моем сердце?»

 

tumi mora prema-mūrti, nā jāna tā’ tumi nirantara tomāra nikaṭe āchi āmi

«Разве не знаешь, что ты воплощенье Моей любви, и Я всегда с тобой?»

 

mora mano-‘bhīṣṭa ye tā’ aneka prakāre karilu prakāśa rūpa-sanātana dvāre

«Многие и многие Мои желания уже проявились через Рупу и Санатану».

 

tomādvāre grantha-ratna kari vitaraṇa haribe jīvera duḥkha diya prema-dhana

«Ты будешь распространять их книги – и так Я уничтожу беды человечества и одарю людей богатством экстатической любви».

 

ye jana la-ibe asi’ śaraṇa tomāra tāre āmi avaśya kariba aṅgīkara

«Обещаю, что признаю всех и каждого, кто примет у тебя прибежище».

 

ha-iba tomāra śiṣya bhāgyavanta-gaṇa tā’ sabā la-iyā āsvādibā saṅkīrtana

«Кто бы ни стал твоим учеником, тот станет удачлив; тебе надо брать их с собою и вместе воспевать».

 

konamate kichu cintā nā kariha cite madhye madhye aiche more pāibā dekhite

«Не беспокойся ни о чем. Время от времени будешь видеть Меня так же».

 

Утешив Шриниваса, Шри Говинда превратился в Чайтанью Махапрабху. Шринивас не мог сдерживаться и молил о сотне глаз, чтобы созерцать облик Господа. Пав ниц, он склонился к стопам Господа, и Чайтанья поместил Свои стопы на голову Шриниваса. Господь обнял Шриниваса, прощаясь с ним в его путешествии в Гаудадеш. Затем, оставив форму Чайтаньи, вернулся в храм. После исчезновения Говинды Шринивас был опустошен, и когда его сон прервался, уже светало. Исполнив утренние обязанности, горюющий Шринивас, взывая к своему терпению, уселся в уединенном месте.

 

[ Шрила Нарахари ЧакравартиШри Бхакти-ратнакара”. Перевод на английский с бенгали Шрипады Кушакратхи Даса.
Издание Krishna Library, Алачуа, Флорида
Srila Narahari Chakravarti. Śrī Bhakti-ratnākara. Gaudiya Mission. Calcutta. 501 Gaurabda. Bengali. ]

 

[ Напечатано в “Шри Кришна -катхамрита-бинду” (выпуск 427), издании Madhavananda dasa,

с научным пояснением Хари Паршада даса Адхикари ]

Картина : Шринивас Ачарйа

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In Bandiravan

https://www.facebook.com/indradyumna/posts/10210816122662091

Yesterday on our parikrama with Sri Prahlada dasa we met Jaya Rama das, a well-known and respected sadhu residing in Bandiravan, one the 12 forests of Vrindavan. When we offered our respects to him he smiled and kindly said:

“What your Srila Prabhupada has done for the whole world all the saints in India combined together haven’t done. I am just sitting here taking care of this little parcel of land, but you his disciples, are travelling all over the world preaching the glories of the holy names.”

 

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In Memoriam / В память

Моя дорогая Враджа Валлабхи, пожалуйста, прими мои благословения. Вся слава Шриле Прабхупаде.

Ты покинула этот мир, но я молюсь, чтобы мои слова дошли до тебя посредством трансцендентной реальности, где бы ты сейчас не служила — будь это наш мир или же лотосные стопы Радхи-Шьямасундары в мире духовном. Я убежден в последнем, поскольку  Шрила Рупа Госвами пишет в «Матхура-махатмье», цитируя «Сканда Пурану»:

сарпа даштах пашу хатах
павакамбху винашитах
лабда памртйаво йе ча
матхуре мам лока гаха

 «Те, кого укусила змея, кто убит животным, погиб в огне, воде или иной неестественной смертью во Враджа-мандале, непременно становятся жителями Моей собственной духовной планеты».

[«Сканда Пурана», Маргашиша-махатмья, глава 17, стих 50]

Дорогая моя духовная дочь, несмотря на то, что я твой духовный учитель, вроде бы и знающий шастры, и утвердившийся в преданном служении, ничто не смогло подготовить меня к твоему внезапному, непредвиденному уходу. Это не слабость, скорее это природа любви, любви гуру к своему ученику и ученика — к гуру. В письме от 28 сентября 1966 г. Шрила Прабхупада пишет:

«С первого своего взгляда на меня мой духовный учитель смотрел на меня с такой любовью. Это было на моем самом первом даршане с ним — тогда я научился любить. По своей безграничной милости он привлек такого недостойного человека, как я, к исполнению некоторых своих пожеланий. По своей беспричинной милости он занял меня в проповеди послания Шри Рупы и Шри Рагхунатхи».

Точно так же, Валлабхи, из-за твоей любви ко мне, явленной в непрерывном бескорыстном служении, проявилась и моя благодарность и любовь к тебе, как к моей духовной дочери. Благодаря присущим тебе талантам, очевидным всем и каждому, ты стала инструментом при организации и проведении всех моих основных проповеднических программ на протяжении многих лет: от фестиваля Индии в Польше до «Мирной деревни Кришны» на Вудстоке; начиная с масштабных фестивалей в Гуджарате и Махараштре и заканчивая фестивалями здесь, во Вриндаване на Картику. Сказать по правде, без тебя у меня не было бы такого успеха. Я полностью зависел от твоего служения, твоей помощи в распространении сознании Кришны по миру. Как же мне быть теперь, когда ты ушла?

В этом же настроении Шрила Прабхупада написал одному ученику 22 января 1976:

«Ты не выдержишь без моей милости, а я не выдержу без твоей. Это обоюдно. Это взаимозависимость, основанная на любви – сознании Кришны».

Вне всяких сомнений, я всегда понимал безупречность твоего служения. Какой бы сложной ни была задача, например, организовать киртана-мелу «Священные звуки» в Нью Говардхане, мне было достаточно только сказать: «Валлабхи, пожалуйста, сделай это». Теперь, когда ты ушла, это больше не будет столь же простым – и столь же приятным. Благодаря твоей радостной улыбке, твоему энтузиазму и стремлению угодить другим, служение в твоем обществе было одним удовольствием. Моя дорогая духовная дочь, я не могу должным образом выразить, как сильно я буду скучать по тебе!

В очередной раз мудрость поэта Джорджа Элиота подтверждает истину: «Только в страданиях разлуки мы постигаем глубину любви».

Дорогая Валлабхи, некоторые самые теплые мои воспоминания будут о времени, проведенном здесь, в святой обители Шри Вриндаван-дхамы. Многие годы ты помогала Расике Широмани даси и ее супругу Говинда Чарану дасу устраивать большие Картика-парикрамы. Дело это, мягко говоря, чрезвычайно сложное – но ты всегда находила время сесть, послушать лекцию и насладиться святыми именами в киртане. Как-то вечером на очень уж вдохновенном бхаджане ты сказала подруге: «Мне было бы за счастье оставить тело среди такого великолепного воспевания святых имен».

По сути, ты это и сделала. В роковой день своего ухода ты ехала на ретрит, посвященный святому имени на Говардхане. Преданные, которые были вместе с тобой в рикше, сказали мне, что ты всю дорогу вдохновенно повторяла джапу, и всего через несколько минут после того, как вы проехали священную Радха Кунду, произошла авария. Ты тут же оставила тело. Это был трагический случай – но благодаря ему ты смогла достичь желания своего сердца. Такова всемилостивая природа Шри Вриндавана. Шрила Рупа Госвами пишет в «Уткалика-валлари»:

«О великолепное благоуханное древо желаний тамала, цветущее в лесу Вриндавана, увитое лозой мадхави богини-повелительницы этого леса! О дерево, сень славы которого защищает мир от несметного множества жгучих страданий, – какие же удивительные плоды находят люди у Твоих лотосных стоп?»

[ Шрила Рупа Госвами, Уткалика-валлари, Лоза надежд, текст 66 ]

 

Ты родилась в семье преданных, жила в полном сознании Кришны и ушла в святой Шри Вриндавана-дхаме, повторяя святые имена. Позволь мне теперь описать в деталях твое путешествие с этого момента. Несомненно, оно совпадет с описанием Шрилой Рупой Госвами вхождения в вечные пределы Вриндавана в его знаменитой поэме «Уддхава-сандеш». Кришна говорит Уддхаве:

 

«Брат мой, говорят, дорога к далекому холму Нандишвары красива и легка. Лишь только ступишь в океан блаженства Гокулы, Я стану счастлив. Коль счастлив человек – становятся счастливыми его друзья.

Сначала отправляйся в место, что называется Гокарна; там будет Шива главным на корабле, что вызволяет всех из океана бед. Затем, мудрейший, – туда, где исполняются желанья джив: Ямуна там встречает Сарасвати.

В этом самом месте впервые Я вступил в Матхуру. И волны поцелуев, украдкой брошенных взглядами множества красавиц, мне говорили: «О грациозный друг! Воистину, удача с нами: изысканный флейтист, чья музыка приводит в беспорядок одежды гопи, теперь пересекает путь наших глаз».

С этого места, полного блаженства, держись дороги к Амбикавану – туда, где избавляя Нанду от змея с озера Калии, Я Видъядхаре дал свободу, устроив для пастушек Враджа праздник.

О мудрый, не направи колесницу к холмам по берегам Ямуны, где Кувалайпида без устали бросался на Меня своими бивнями. Святые никогда не следуют путями демонов.

Избегай южного пути. Следуй на север – к царю среди святейших мест, туда, где множество цветов сумана и трели птиц, туда, где милостью Моей Акрура впервые увидал мир пастухов.

Если не хочешь проезжать мимо дверей браминов, вершащих ягьи, которые впали в твою немилость, проигнорировав Меня, всё же взгляни на тех, кто постоянно поет Мне славу – их жен. Не захотя увидеть их, упустишь нечто дорогое.

Затем скорее поезжай в Котику неподалеку от Матхуры, – туда, где все кругом в деревьях в цвете. Я как-то проходил по тем местам: одна пастушка, занимаясь садом, вдруг увидав Меня, смутилась от неприкрытого плеча и чуть заметно улыбнулась».

 

Дорогая Валлабхи, великолепное описание Шрилы Рупы Госвами путешествия паломника во Вриндаван продолжается в поэме дальше, как и милость Господа к тебе. Пусть Он и дальше направляет тебя на этом пути чистой преданности Его лотосным стопам. И твоя любовь к Вриндавану и Божественной Чете будет расцветать день ото дня. Такие вещи достижимы для тех, кто следует за нашим возлюбленным Шрилой Прабхупадой – он обозначил это одной из моих духовных сестер на заре нашего движения:

«По мере того, как твое преданное служение будет становиться все более зрелым, ты станешь все больше и больше видеть Кришну, и все лучше и лучше будешь понимать, что такое святая земля Вриндавана».

[ письмо Хладини даси, 28 января 1973 ]

Дорогая Валлабхи, однажды я спросил своего духовного брата Тамала Кришну Госвами, какое качество преданного самое важное. Он тут же ответил: «Гуру-ништха, вера в духовного учителя». Ты была воплощением этой веры, и это покоряло в тебе больше всего. Тогда я спросил его: «В чем самая большая проблема у инициирующего гуру?» Он задумался на секунду и мягко ответил: «Иногда приходится принимать учеников, более продвинутых, чем ты сам».

Мне очень повезло, что ты и многие похожие на тебя преданные – мои ученики. Я тебя никогда не забуду. Твои последние слова ко мне в пророческом сообщении, отправленном за несколько минут до того, как ты покинула этот мир, останутся со мной навсегда. Мы обсуждали, как вскоре будем заниматься служением в разных странах. Разве знали мы, что это будут разные миры.

Ты написала:

«Я буду ждать служения вам, Шрила Гурудева».

Валлабхи, пожалуйста, запасись терпением. Я буду Дома уже скоро. И как говорил Шрила Прабхупада: «Однажды у нас будет свой ИСККОН в духовном мире».

Твой вечный доброжелатель,

Индрадьюмна Свами

 

 

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My dear Braja Vallabhi, Please accept my blessings. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Though you have departed this world I pray that through the transcendental medium my words will be communicated to you wherever you are serving—be it in this world, or at the lotus feet of Radha Syamasundara in the spiritual world. I am convinced it is in the latter, for Srila Rupa Goswami writes in his Mathura-mahatmya, quoting Skanda Purana:

sarpa dastah pasu hatah

pavakambu vinasitah

labda pamrtyavo ye ca

mathure mam loka gah

“Those in Vraja-maṇḍala who are bitten by a snake, killed by animals, killed by fire, water or any other unnatural cause certainly become residents of My very own spiritual planet.”

[ Skanda-purnam, Margasisa-mahatmya, chapter 17, verse 50 ]

My dear spiritual daughter, although I am your spiritual master, supposedly learned in sastra and fixed in devotional service, nothing could prepare me for your sudden and unexpected departure. This is not a weakness, rather it is the nature of love; the love of a guru for his disciple, and a disciple for her guru.

In a letter on September 28, 1966, Srila Prabhupada wrote:

“At his first sight of me my spiritual master also saw me with such love. It was in my very first darsan of him that I learned how to love. It is his boundless mercy that he has engaged an unworthy person like me, in fulfilling some of his desires. It is his causeless mercy to engage me in preaching the message of Sri Rupa and Sri Raghunatha.”

In the same way, Vallabhi, it was from your love for me, demonstrated through your continuous selfless service, that my appreciation and love for you as my spiritual daughter, manifested. Because of your inherent talents, recognized by one and all, you were instrumental in the organization and running of all my major preaching programs for many years; from the Festival of India in Poland, to Krishna’s Village of Peace at Woodstock, throughout the grand festivals in Gujarat and Maharashtra and here in Vrindavan during Kartika. I can honestly say I would not have been successful without you. I was fully dependent on your service in helping me preach Krishna consciousness around the world. What will I do now that you are gone?

It was in this mood that Srila Prabhupada wrote to a disciple on January 22, 1976:

“You cannot survive without my mercy and I cannot survive without your mercy. It is reciprocal. This mutual dependence is based on love – Krishna consciousness.”

Indeed, I was always aware of your excellence in service. Whenever a difficult task came up, such as organizing the Sacred Sounds kirtan mela at New Govardhana, it was enough to simply say to you, “Vallabhi, please get it done.” Things won’t be so easy now that you’re gone—and not as relishable, either. It was your joyful smile, your enthusiasm, and your determination to please others that made performing devotional service such a pleasure in your association. My dear spiritual daughter, I cannot properly express how much I will miss you!

Once again, the wisdom of the poet George Eliot rings true: “Only in the agony of parting do we look into the depths of love.”

Dearest Vallabhi, some of my fondest memories will be of our time spent here in this holy abode of Sri Vrindavan dhama. For many years you assisted Rasika Siromani dasi and her husband, Govinda caran dasa, in organizing large Kartika parikramas. It was an overwhelming task to say the least, but nevertheless you always found time to sit and hear the lectures and relish the kirtans of the holy names. Just the other night you said to a friend during a particularly enthusiastic bhajan, “I would be happy to leave my body in the midst of such beautiful singing of the holy names.”

And, in essence, that’s exactly what you did. On that fateful day you departed, you were on your way to the Holy Name retreat at Govardhan Hill. Devotees who were in the vehicle with you told me you were enthusiastically chanting japa all the way when, just minutes away from sacred Radha Kunda, the accident happened. You left your body immediately. Though it was a tragic demise, it enabled you to achieve your heart’s desire. Such is the all-merciful nature of Sri Vrindavan. Srila Rupa Goswami writes in Utkalika-vallari:

“O handsome, fragrant tamala desire tree blooming in the Vrindavan forest and embraced by the madhavi vine of the goddess ruling this forest! O tree, the shade of whose glory protects the world from a host of burning sufferings, what wonderful fruits do the people find at your feet?”

[  Srila Rupa Goswami, Utkalika-vallari, A Vine of Hopes, text 66 ]

You were born into a family of devotees, you lived a fully Krishna conscious life and you departed in the holy dhama of Sri Vrindavan chanting the holy names. Let me now describe in detail your journey from that point on. Most surely it corresponds with Srila Rupa Goswami’s description of entering into the eternal realm of Vrindavan in his famous poem, Uddhava-sandesa. Krishna is speaking to Uddhava:

“Oh my brother, the path you will follow to faraway Nadisvara Hill is said to be beautiful, straight and good. When you fall into the ocean of bliss in Gokula I will become very happy. When a friend becomes happy, good persons think themselves happy too. “

“First you should go to the place named Gokarna, where Lord Siva, who captains the ship that leads people out of the ocean of troubles stays. O wise one, nearby you should go to the place where the Yamuna meets the Sarasvati, a place that fulfills the living entities’ desires.”

“It is this place that I first entered Mathura. There I was kissed by waves of sidelong glances from a host of beautiful women who said, ’O slender friend, we have become most fortunate, for the graceful flutist whose music made the gopis’ garments slip now walks on the pathway of our eyes.’”

“From that place, flooded with bliss, please take the nearby path to Ambikavana, where, rescuing Nanda from a snake in Kaliya lake, and delivering a Vidyadhara, I gave a festival of happiness to the cowherd girls of Vraja.”

“O wise one, don’t take your chariot on the path that goes by the hilly place on the Yamuna’s bank where Kuvavalapida again and again attacked Me with his tusks. Saintly persons never take the paths where the demoniac walk.”

“Avoid the southern path. Go north to the king of holy places, a place beautiful with many blossoming sumanah flowers and graceful birds, the place where, by My mercy, Akrura first saw the world of the gopas.”

“Even if you don’t wish to pass by the doors of the yajnika-brahmanas who because they slighted Me are not dear to you, you should still glance at the brahmanas’ wives, who are always singing my glories. If you do not wish to see them, your eyes will be cheated of something very valuable.”

“Then please quickly go to the place named Kotika, which is near Mathura city, and which is filled with a great circle of blossoming trees. When I walked through that place, a girl picking flowers uncovered part of her shoulder and smiled at Me.”

Dearest Vallabhi, Srila Rupa Goswami’s beautiful description of a pilgrim’s journey into Vrindavan continues in his poem, as will the Lord’s mercy upon you as He guides you further on this path of pure devotion to His lotus feet. As such your love for Vrindavan and the Divine Couple will blossom day by day. Such things are attainable for those who follow our beloved Srila Prabhupada, as he indicated to one of my godsisters early in our movement:

 “As your devotional service becomes mature you shall see Krishna more and more, and more and more you shall realize the qualities of the holy land of Vrindavan.”

[ Letter to Hladini dasi, January 28, 1973 ]

Dear Vallabhi, I once asked my godbrother, Tamal Krishna Goswami, what is the most important characteristic of a disciple. He immediately replied, “Guru-nistha, faith in the spiritual master.” You embodied that faith, and it was your most endearing quality. I then asked him, “What is the greatest challenge in becoming an initiating spiritual master?” He paused for a moment and then replied softly: “Sometimes you are obliged to accept disciples who are more advanced than yourself.”

I am so fortunate to have you, and so many others like you, as my disciples. I will never forget you. Your final words to me, in a prophetic message text ed only minutes before you left this world, will always remain with me. We had been discussing how we’d soon be serving in different countries. Little did we know it would be different worlds.

You wrote:

“I will be waiting to serve you Srila Gurudeva.”

Please be patient Vallabhi. I’ll be Home soon enough. And as Srila Prabhupada said, “One day we’ll have our ISKCON in the spiritual world.”

Your ever well-wisher,

Indradyumna Swami

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