Thursday, 17 September 2009

Ready to go

Ayodhyavasini Rama
Spring Festival of Holy - Kunja Devata
Spring Festival of Holy - Vraja Kumaris
Spring Festival of Holy - Spring & Matangi
Spring Festival of Holy - Holi Begins
Spring Festival of Holy - Holi Concludes

We are almost ready to go. The suitcases are packed, sandwiches are prepared. Our flight leaves tomorrow from Birmingham airport. It will be some 17 hours later when we reach Kolkata. We will be in transit in Dubai with a two hours wait arriving in Kolkata on Wednesday just after 8 in the morning. If all goes according to plan our taxi driver from Mayapur will be waiting for us outside the airport holding up a sign with our name. It will be another four hour ride on an extremely bad road full with potholes till we reach Sri Dham Mayapur.

Tomorrow morning our Lords, Sri Sri Nitai Saci-Sundar will move out of the temple to take Their temporary residence at the house of Keshava Prabhu. Keshava has been working very hard over the past few weeks to renovate his house and especially his temple room. I have not seen it since then and look forward to our visit tomorrow morning. Tulsi devi has already moved.

In our absence the weekly Saturday programme will continue at Keshava's place. Our congregation is much excited and they have pledged their full support. Giriraja Govardhana will come with us to Mayapur, Puri and Vrindavan. He will travel in a silken bag hanging around my neck. To have the Lord so close to my chest is a great privilege. Also around my neck is a special sudarshan saligram sila in a silver locket. Both have been given to me by Puri Maharaja, who in turn received this transcendental gift from Indradyumna Swami. I feel therefore well protected in every respect.

The story how Giriraja came into my care has been recorded and you can listen to it by following this link. You can also read the Kartik Diaries from 2006 with their many audio links of music and talks by Dina Bandhu Prabhu at various holy places in and around Vrindavan. Last not least I have to say that it is very exciting writing this diary, especially as there are already some followers of this blog. Thank you so very much for your interest. It feels like our group of four has increased to seven. We will be thinking of you every step of this sacred journey. Walk with us and roll with us in the sacred sand of Vrindavan, bathe with us in the holy Ganga and come with us to see shore of the Indian ocean at Jagannatha Puri.

This will be the last posting from a computer. If all goes well all future postings will be done from my Nokia N95 mobile handset with the help of an Indian sim card. If that fails there is always an Internet Caffee.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Vrindavan is calling

Radharani Ki Jaya
Chinta Haran Ghat
Bhimal Kunda

By Krishna's divine mercy, or perhaps Srimati Radhika's mercy, we are ready to embark on a pilgrimage to the Holy Dham of Vrindavan. A faint calling was there some six months ago, however, no one else was ready and prepared to come with us and we did not want to go alone.

Only recently and after her initiation Varshana Kishori mataji was determined to visit the Holy Dham of Vrindavan. She was so determined that she said "I will go even if you don't come." This was the turning point for our Kartik pilgrimage. Then to our great surprise Samir suddenly said "I will also join you." This was it then.

I don't think we would have gone for this year's kartik parikrama without Varshana Kishori and Samir wanting to come with us. It is so much more inspiring and enlivening to do this annual yajna in the association of devotees, what to speak of with devotees from our very own congregation. It is more than wonderful! Moreover, our dear friends Hariprema and Lilaprema from Coventry will also join us in Vrindavan.

We spent the next few weeks with seemingly countless negotiations to find a suitable flight for our very limited budget, ranging from Jet Airways to Quartar Airlines, to Austrian Airlines and Air India, till we finally settled for Emirates. I don't think I have ever spent so much time choosing an airline, perhaps we have gone through them all, but in the end all four of us were satisfied, namely Samir, Varshana Kishori, Nandini Radha and myself.

The visas are now done and the tickets are booked. Our accommodation in Vrindavan and Mayapur is also booked. In Vrindavan it is right next to Krishna Balarama Mandir, the most wonderful place in the entire universe.

Our journey will take us first to Mayapura, which is Lord Caitanya's birthplace. There we will spend three days. Then we will take the overnight train to Jagannatha Puri, which is in Orissa on the Indian Ocean. Lord Caitanya, along with His devotees and associates, spent much of His time in Puri and one can still see there many places of His divine pastimes.

From Bhuvaneshwara, which is not far from Puri, we will take the train or perhaps a flight to Delhi and then a taxi to Vrindavan, where we will spend the rest of our time on parikrama with Dina Bandhu Prabhu. Dina Bandhu has spent the past 25 years in Vrindavan taking devotees on parikrama. If anyone knows Braj it is him. Dina Bandhu reminds me of Sanatana Goswami, who was much loved by all the inhabitants of Braj, wherever he went. To this very day on guru purnima his memory is celebrated throughout the land of Braj and Vrindavan.

Of course this pilgrimage would not be possible for us if it were not for the causeless mercy of Srila Prabhupada, who kindly introduced us to Krishna consciousness and to Vrindavan.