Feeling of Vrindavan…
Vrindavan – a land of dreams… As dreams are made of…. Heaven on earth… Bliss of the bhaktas…. Love is all there is… I can go on and on trying to begin my story about the journey to Vrindavan, but I will choose none of these. I will not throw here and there wonderful words and adjectives trying to describe unfathomable. Many tried in the past. There are many wonderful accounts of people’s journey to the Holy Land. What I will try to share is my very personal moments that are only mine, very subjective and perhaps intimate.
The western world proudly claims to be highly evolved, and they refer to many countries as the third world, which is just an euphemism for saying that they are underdeveloped. India may be poor, streets are not tidy, traffic is chaotic (for the western mind, but in perfect harmony for the Indian mind: so whose mind is right to judge?), standard of living is not as high as in the west… we can go on and on finding imperfections. That is the state of mind of western people, always finding fault out there in others, or things outside, never to be content with oneself as things are.
I found Indians quite content with what is. They are always smiling and ever ready to help, supportive when in trouble… Where can we find this in the West?
In Vrindavan, meat is forbidden, as I had heard, so everybody is born vegetarian. Those who don’t eat meat are much less aggressive and violent.
For example: the very first day I befriended local kids, once I found two of them fighting but there was no violence included, just a childlike skirmish. I must add my personal moment here: having a soft heart myself for the kids (as I am a big kid never seems to grow up) I was enjoying spending time with them. They liked me and I liked them. These kids I found very special as I saw certain purity in their eyes, guileless in their character, and complete focus during the prayers which I have never seen before in anyone.
I asked one boy, Balram as his name is, whom many considered quite naughty, to go in the temple and bow down to Guruji who was sitting in his asan (seat) and singing. He listened to me and went right up to Guruji, pronamed while standing. I expected him to bow down from a little distance so when I saw the scene I removed from the scene altogether as not to rouse any suspicion from Guruji.
Guruji spoke with him and the boy went away to be back in few minutes redressed and sat right in front of Guruji fully focused on the prayers until the end. This continued every day thereafter and saw him mumbling the prayers trying to sing along. Naughty or not, he was my first favorite.
There was another boy who won me immediately. His name is KanhaiyaDas, What a wonderful name: the servant of Lord Krishna. I have never seen such purity as I saw in his eyes. He would look up at me with such love and tenderness that could command the hardest heart to melt. Skipping the many little and sweet stories with them I would like to share how the last night they were all looking for me as I came little late for the program. Three of them were shedding tears of sorrow for me leaving the day after. Few of our SPN resident matajis were jubilant at the scene, especially when I finally arrived and the boys saw me. They were all over me with their tears as big as hailstones.
Touch of Vrindavan…
Guruji came a couple of days after our arrival in Vrindavan. We had enough time to settle and get in the right Vrindavanish mood. Our pilgrimage could finally start but it did not last long as the preparation was to begin for the big inauguration so we had only couple of days to spend with Guruji visiting temples. Did it matter much to us? Not at all! Being in Vrindavan itself is like being in highest heaven. Time runs differently. There is no hustle and bustle of a modern city life even though the streets are cluttered and it is with a skillful diligence that you can elbow your way through those; still there is a certain charm that you cannot find anywhere else.
The only pest that can make your stay in Vrindavan troublesome are the monkeys who seem to be the rulers of the streets and roofs. Moreover they are very skillful in stealing glasses and phones.
In case you don’t know, iron bars around ashrams and other objects are there for the sole reason – to protect from the wild monkeys who has the tendency to destroy whatever shows them in their way.
The prabhus stayed in the ashram itself, while matajis at the Jiva Institute which is a house dozens of meters away. The rooms were small, but well organized with 4 up to 8 beds with separate toilets and showers in each. Apart from the occasional circuit cuts and lack of hot water, everything else was far beyond expected. Guruji’s room was at the top of the building and it was lovely to hear his voice from time to time calling sometimes in the middle of the night, or hearing him silently walking up and down the corridors, checking on everyone, even waking up some occasionally if they missed the prayers.
Soul of Vrindavan…
There are over 5000 temples in Vrindavan and thousands of places connected with the life of Radha and Krishna. It is a mind blowing. We visited a few main temples and places, like Banke Bihari, Radha Raman, Sri Radha Vallabha, Radha Shyamasundara, Nidhivan. Radha and Shyama Kund, Vrinda Kund, Govardhan hill, Barsane (the birth place of Radharani), etc.
It was a great grace to have a dip in Radha Kund with Guruji, to do abishekam at the foot of Govardhan Hill where we met a silent sadhu, Sri Krishnadas, the caretaker of the temple there.
Guruji was always welcomed graciously and with respect. We had a great good luck to have a great saint coming to our inauguration Sri Vinod Bihari Das Babaji of Barsana who sang for us Guruji’s favorite bhajan:
Aye Mere Man Lago Barsane Me, Jahan Viraje Radharani
Man Hato Duniya Dali Se, Jahan Mile Khara Pani
Aye Mero Man Lago Barsane Me, Jahan Viraje Radharani
1. Mujhe Duniya Se Nahi Koī Kām, Men To Ratu Radha, Radha Nām
Darshan Karu Subha Shyam
Mero Man Me Basho Shyam Dīvani,
Jahan Viraje Radharani
Bolo Radhe, Bolo Radhe, Bolo Radhe, Bolo Radhe
Bolo Radhe Radhe Radhe, Radhe Radhe Radhe, Radhe Radhe Radhe
2. Mero Mana Men Na Lage Koī Rang, Me To Rahun Santan Ke Sang
Mere Man Me Lalat Umang
Barsane Braj Ki Raja Dhani, Jaha Viraje Radharani
3. Mujhe Nahi Kuch He Lena Dena, Ye Jagata He Ek Sapana
Yaha Nahi Koī He Apana
Meri Apni Vrishabhanu Nandini, Jahan Viraje Radharani
Chorus: My heart is in Barsana, where Radharani lives. She takes your mind away and then you receive pure water.
1. I have nothing to do with the world; I want only Her name, and when I am singing Her name, I am receiving Her darshan, in the morning and evening. In my heart resides the one who loves Shyam dearly.
2. Sri Radha speaks: ‘There is no colour in my heart accept the colour of the people who love Lord, I am always staying with them. They have desire in their hearts for Sri Radha, Barsana and Braj.
3. This world is just a dream where nobody is ours, but She is mine, Sri Radha, daughter of Vrishabhanu.
It was a very touching moment how Guruji humbled himself in front of these saints. A rare scene to cherish forever. Being in Vrindavan alone is a great grace, as Shrila Sadhu Maharaj who gave us a short satsang explained, and not everybody can get that grace. Moreover, to be there with Guruji is the highest. I wonder how many of us can understand that. Especially at this time of inauguration when even heavens come down. There were over 300 mahants (the heads of ashrams) present and we fed many sadhus, as the custom called bandara requires. The bhajans were rocking and rolling for many hours bringing us into the mood of Vrindavan Dham, the inner realm of Lord Krishna. And what is wonderful about Vrindavan, all loudspeakers are blasting and, moreover, they are turned out-wise. You can sing in the middle of the night, the police will not come knock on your door, neither the neighbors will complain. I am sure many of us will miss it in SPN ashram in Germany.
It was also lovely to see Dr Satya Narayan Das Babaji of the Jiva Institute, who is a very dear friend of Guruji. He was the main instrument of helping Guruji have ashram here. His assistant offered the house and the land on which the ashram was built. They helped Swamini Vishwamohini of Bhakti Marga and supported her in all possible ways to make this dream of Guruji come true. As Guruji stated, he did not want an ashram in India as he believed that there were enough of them already. But the Divine Will cannot be negated.
Kirtan with Guruji is always blissful, but in Vrindavan is beyond blissful. The words are limited to describe. Guruji came down the stage and danced among the devotees. The whole Vrindavan was echoing Radhe Radhe as we were singing along with Guruji, calling from the depth of our hearts and souls for Radha to awaken in us, that aspect of perfect devotion to the Lord, that can only attract His attention. When Guruji would sing ‘bolo Radheeee’, several hundred hands would go up and joining him in responding ‘Radhe Radhe’.
Was there a place in this word that could match this moment with? – a thought crossed my mind for a second? Not at all, my heart responded, and turned back its attention to Gurudev and the chanting. Turning my gaze over the crowd and seeing all faces blissful, and hearts filled to the top, only deepened my own inner bliss. A moment you never want it to end. There is a T-shirt that you can buy in Vrindavan saying, ‘I left my heart in Vrindavan’. I would like to add yes, and Vrindvan is where my heart is, and I carry it always with me.
Jai Sri Radheee!