Archive for October, 2004

Oct
27

although some of the devotees were elderly ladies they did also the whole parikrama, barefoot

Posted under Diary

DAY 9

Today Guru Maharaja took the devotees on Govardhana parikrama. Since the 22km circumambulation of Giriraja takes quite some time to complete, we were supposed to leave earlier than usual, i.e. 5.30 AM. We did not make it in time which is quite natural in India. At first there were no cars. Then one Tata Sumo appeared and after some 15 minutes an Ambassador was there. By the time both the cars had arrived, some of the devotees were missing. We got on move around 6.25 AM. There were 18 devotees attending the parikrama, mostly from Russia, but also from South Africa and Finland.

We reached Kusum Sarovara around 7 AM. Guru Maharaja and all the devotees started the parikrama by offering respectful dandavats in the dust of this holy place. Our first stop was at Ratna Kunda, where we went looking for blue cows, nila gae. The local devotees told some deer had been there just some 15 minutes ago but now they had already disappeared. Sometimes the nila gae are even spoken of as “mysterious” because they are rarely seen, although they reside in areas surrounding Giriraja. Although one spent many days around Govardhana still he may not see them.

After this we went on with the parikrama, as it traditionally goes. We offered our respects at the puspa-samadhi of HG Tribhuvanatha Prabhu and then went on to the town of Govardhana. We visited Manasi-Ganga, where Guru Maharaja narrated a pastime connected with Sri Krsna and this holy river, which actually is the original Ganges. It is quite a long story, but I remember its beginning quite clearly. Srila Gurudeva told in the time of Krsna a travelling sadhu came to Vrndavana and he was telling some stories from his travels. The sadhu started to glorify Mother Ganga by saying he saw Garuda, the carrier of Lord Visnu, flying over the Ganges and in the same time he was hanging a serpent in his nails. The tail of the serpent happened to touch the waters of mother Ganga and immediately the snake turned into a four-handed personality, a resident of Vaikuntha. So the Ganges
water is so purifying it can purify one of all sins. Thus we offered respects at Manasi-Ganga and took water from her on our heads, then continuing onwards to Brahma-kunda and the temples of Harideva and yogamaya.

Like you can see we went through the parikrama quite carefully, stopping at many of the holy places. Guru Maharaja then explained about the significance of that place. We honored breakfast prasadam at Punchar in an old Nrsimhadeva temple. This is a nice and quiet place at the Southern end of Giriraja and unlike other places around there there were basically no monkeys who could play their mischief. Actually in this temple there is a very old Deity of Nrsimhadeva, Who is depicted as ripping apart the wasp-like demon Hiranyakasipu.

After breakfast at around 11.30 AM we continued with the parikrama. Although we had missed the blue cows in Ratna-kunda, by the mercy of Giriraja we could see four of them although they are very timid animals. We saw the deer just after passing the Southern end of Govardhana. There were two adults and two young ones, and they were watching us from a distance. They saw us there, but they did not become afraid and run away. We could observe these beautiful animals for some ten minutes before we continued on our way.

Guru Maharaja spoke on how the Govardhana-lila is a good example of Krsna’s mercy on His devotees. In the pastime itself Krsna is protecting the Vrajavasis who know nothing but Krsna. Now that we do not see Krsna as He could be seen 5000 years ago He is still present as Giriraja Govardhana. Not only that but Krsna is present in millions and millions of different forms as the Govardhana-silas. Not only that but Srila Gurudeva explained that Krsna is following us, always seeing how we are doing.

Walking on, we visited Surabhi and Uddhava-kundas and on both these holy places Srila Gurudeva explained their spiritual significance. As it is said in the Srimad-Bhagavatam one should not travel to the holy places simply to take a bath. The actual meaning of visiting a place of pilgrimage is to hear the self-realised souls who reside there. By going on parikrama with Guru Maharaja one can actually get a deep insight on the importance of these places. It is a completely different thing than just walking around and seeing some old temples.

A thing which happened at Govardhana town was that we noticed that some of the devotees were missing. We had to wait about half an hour for the few devotees who had remained aback. One Russian boy did not show up but later in Vrndavana we heard he had taken a wrong turn in Govardhana town and thus returned back his own way. It was quite interesting to see that although some of the devotees were elderly ladies they did also the whole parikrama, barefoot. One mataji, mother Shyamala is a nama-hatta-leader from Barnaul, Siberia. Although she is about the age of my grandmother, she was enthusiastically worshiping Giriraja by completing the parikrama. Guru Maharaja gave her his blessings in the form of a garland.

While we were at Kadambavan (this is in the beginning of the second half of the parikrama) Guru Maharaja said whoever rolls in the dust of this holy place will undoubtedly attain Krsna-prema. So led by Guru Maharaja we all rolled in the holy dust of this place. I said to him at Uddhava-kunda, “Guru Maharaja, you have some vraja-raja on your forehead, Do you want me to clean it off?” Guru Maharaja replied, “That does not matter. It is Vrajaraja, dust of Vrndavana. In fact that is what we want.”

We eventually came to the holy town of Radhakunda and circumambulated both Syama and Radha-kunda, offering our obeisances to them and taking some water on our head. We also briefly visited the samadhi of Srila Raghunatha dasa Goswami and offered respects. Then we walked to Kusum-sarovara. Led by Guru Maharaja we took bath in this holy lake and thus completed our parikrama. This time the water level was quite low there. After the bath Guru Maharaja refreshed himself with a glass of nice cooling water and then we all visited the temple of Sri Sri Radha-Banbihari. This is a very old temple which is maintained by ISKCON. Previously it was under the care of one babaji, but since he passed away, ISKCON devotees continue the temple activities. Actually there are three sampradayas there, on the altar there is a picture of the babaji’s guru, who was a follower of Vallabhacarya. There is a picture of the Nimbarki-guru of the babaji’s wife. And in the middle there is a picture of our Srila Prabhupada. The devotees there were very happy to receive Guru Maharaja and as a memory they gave him a Radha-Banabihari -beadbag as a memory.

Then we returned to Vrndavana, Guru Maharaja took a little kichoree and then spent the evening working on his computer and reading.

DAY 10


Today was meant for recovery from yesterday’s parikrama. Guru Maharaja worked on his computer, and in the evening he gave a Bhagavad-Gita class on BG 13.26.

In the verse Lord Krsna explains that He can be perceived through different ways like karma-yoga, sankhya-yoga and astanga-yoga.

Guru Maharaja:
“..otherwise the atheists, agnostics and sceptics, because they are offensive, because they have this
aggressive attitude, therefore Prabhupada says here ‘they are beyond the sense of spiritual understanding’. But then these others, the astanga-yogis, the sankhya-yogis, the karma-yogis, they are not exactly devotees. They are not devotees actually. But throught the particular process, the different types of cultivation they perform they come to this point of appreciating that behind all this, this material world, is a spiritual essence. But there is also the controller of the spiritual essence. That is the Supersoul. In this way they come to the point of at least accepting that there is a Supersoul, or even realising.”

“There is a final challenge for these people who may actually become Supersoul (Paramatma) -realised. The final challenge is that when they see the Supersoul they may think: ‘Aha! This is me!’ (laughter) In this way even at that late point they may get deviated into some impersonal or other type of process. But otherwise, basically the idea is that these people, when they come to that point they will become inspired to surrender and render service.”

On the whole, the class was philosophical and very enlightening. In fact I could just write the whole
class here for your pleasure, but I will not do it as it would take quite some time.

As a matter of interest I could tell you something about Guru Maharaja’s diet while here in Vrndavana. In general, he eats lightly. In the morning Srila Gurudeva usually takes fruit salad (he disclosed it will be especially appreciated if there are dates and banana in it) and sometimes a small piece of cake. Then in the lunchtime he usually takes two subjis and two-three chapatis. He likes cauliflower, cabbage, sak and kidney beans. Maybe someone could tell more exactly, but this is what I have noticed during this time. Very seldom does he take rice. He likes to sprinkle some grated ginger and lemon juice on the subjis. An interesting observation was that Guru Maharaja likes simple kichoree very much. This he takes with yoghurt, but he does not take chapatis with kichoree. He does not usually take sweets. But like most of you know he is not a fanatical type of a person, so if offered he will take, a little. Tomorrow is ekadasi, and I asked him what he would like. He said “anything is OK as long as it’s gauranga potatoes and apple chutney.” That time he also agreed to take potato chips. (This is just for your information, if you want to please him by cooking)

DAY 11

Today was Ekadasi. Yesterday Guru Maharaja told me he was inspired to find all the villages of the eight sakhis. As I wrote on the 8th day Srila Gurudeva had visited the village of Tungavidya-devi, Dawara. Although an important place, Dawara is a village which is not visited by pilgrims at all regularly. In other words it is kind of a lost place, as are all the other villages of the sakhis. They are not lost in the sense that they did not exist, but lost in the sense that only few know of their existence. So yesterday Guru Maharaja told me to consult Dina Bandhu Prabhu about the other villages. Dina Bandhu has stayed in Vrndavana for twenty years so he knows a lot about Vraja-mandala.

Previously in Dawara the pujari had told that sakhis Rangadevi and Sudevi come from Rakholi and Surera respectively. Dina Bandhu Prabhu revealed thet Visakha-devi is from Kamai. In addition to these, we know Citradevi is from Cikitsoli-gram and Lalitadevi is from Unchagaon. So at this point the villages of Campakalata and Indulekha were missing. Personally I must say finding these villages was quite exciting. Srila Gurudeva told that these villages have existed in those very same places for thousands of years. They are described in old books like Radha-Krsna Ganoddesa-dipika and Bhakti-ratnakara

We started at 6.30 AM. Our team had grown a little since Tusta Krsna Prabhu had recovered from his sickness. Also there was a visiting sadhu taking part as HH Bhaktisiddhanta Swami came along this day. The whole team packed into a Tata Sumo and our first destination was the village of Sudevi, Sunera. The roads leading there were in quite a bad condition. There was no question of asphalt roads. They were sand roads. Not sand roads which were even, but it was rough going. In hindi language a proper road is called “marga” but these were “rasta”, which is a word meaning just some connection between two places.

Our driver was very determined to reach the temple which was situated on a steep hill. He drove us right to the temple entrance. We entered this beautiful small temple and found an altar with Radha-Krsna-murti there. The temple was maintained by a very old pujari, who sat there in the temple room. He was not really communicative, he just sat there. It was peculiar that although people said this was the Sudevi-temple, there was no Deity of Sudevi-sakhi on the altar. Actually the pujari even said she is there, but we did not see her on the altar. There were Radha-Krsna and a Deity of Laddu-Gopala and a few salagrama-silas. Guru Maharaja and Tusta Krsna Prabhu were filming in the temple and outside as well. As I said the Sudevi temple is on the top of a hill, so there is a nice scenery there.

I went to the village to film the animals, plants and people. One could really tell not so many people knew about the existence of this village. People were very amazed seeing someone in Vaisnava dress. Although it is not a desirable feeling, I felt like I was the center of the world for a moment. The people were so curious and the children even started to follow me. I am telling this just to express that to have “outsiders” visiting Sunera was quite unheard of. Guru Maharaja said our visit was probably the event of the year for the villagers.

After Sunera we started for the village of Rangadevi-sakhi, Rakholi. The way to Sunera was rough, but to reach Rakholi, the road was even more so. It was interesting to drive on these narrow sand roads and then to see a group of water buffaloes is approaching from the opposite direction. Sometimes there was a bullock cart, sometimes a tractor or a truck, or many trucks. It was such a ride!

We finally reached the temple of Rangadevi. The pujari was not around. Later we heard he had gone to the neighbouring village Dawara for a visit. Anyway, Rangadevi’s temple is very beautiful. It is situated close to a small kunda, where water buffaloes have their pastimes. Guru Maharaja and HH Bhaktisiddhanta Swami had their breakfast here. After that some locals started to come into the temple. They offered their obeisances to Srila Gurudeva and Maharaja, and some of them came to talk with Guru Maharaja who knows some Hindi. One of the villagers who spoke with Srila Gurudeva was an old man, over 90 years of age. None of them came to ask for money. Instead they were very
eager to offer some water for our filming team to drink.

We got many good shots in Rakholi. Then we drove the same sand road to Cikitsoli Gram and left HH
Bhaktisiddhanta Maharaja there. Then we drove back to Vrndavana.

DAY 12


Today we started at 6.30 AM. Yesterday I had inquired from HG Daivi-sakti mataji about the other villages of the sakhis. She knew Indulekha-sakhi is from the village of Anjanaka. Knowing this, seven villages out of eight were now known. Only the village of Campakalata-sakhi was unknown.

Actually Anjanaka is a village just next to Varsana Gram. So we drove there first. The temple there is bigger than the Rakholi temple. On the altar there are the Deities of Sri Sri Radha-Anjunavanbihari. In addition to Radha-Krsna-murti, on the altar one can see the deities of Srimati Lalitadevi, Visakha and Indulekha. Anjanaka got its name from a pastime of Radha-Krsna. It is said in Bhakti-ratnakara:

“Ohe Srinivasa! Behold this village of Anjanaka! Here Radha and Krsna had a great pastime! Once Sri Radhika privately dressed and ornamented Herself here with different jewels. When She applied Her own eyeliner the sound of Krsna’s flute entered Her ear, so She ran to this place with Her girlfriends and very blissfully met Krsna there. Krsna ecstatically seated Radhika on a seat of flowers arranged by Vrnda, but when He beheld Her bodily beauty He saw that She had no mascara on Her eyes. He asked the sakhis what was the matter and then took some mascara and applied it to Radhika’s eyes in loving ecstacy. Because there was so much fun here about the eyeliner (anjana) this place is named Anjanaka.”

Next to the altar in Anjanaka is the anjana-sila. It is quite big, blackish stone, which is surrounded by a shrine-like structure. By rubbing one’s finger against it, blackish dye is transferred to the finger. This is the kajal by which Lord Krsna decorated Srimati Radharani. On the altar there is also a picture of the pastime.

The pujaris were very friendly. They had a yellow Vaisnava tilaka, a little wider than what we usually have. Guru Maharaja spoke with them and it came up that they belong to a sampradaya coming from Advaita Acarya. The temple devotees laid cloth on the floor and it came up that they wanted us to have a kirtana in the temple. Tusta Krsna Prabhu led the kirtana and it was very sweet. After the kirtana we were filming the Devanagari texts on the temple room walls. Some of the texts were prayers, but there was also a sketch with the names of the eight sakhis. Next to the name there was then the name of the village belonging to that sakhi. Thus we had solved the puzzle, Campakalata-sakhi’s village is Karhela. After filming the temple was finished we spent some time filming the nature and the village outside.

We then started for Karhela. This time the road was especially bad. At one point we noticed a bicycle in the middle of the road. When we got closer we could see there was a big hole there. We had to drive off the road to get past it. We came to Karhela, and on asking about the temple the villagers ushered us to a peaceful place in the edge of Karhela. Actually it was not a temple. It was a sitting place of Vallabhacarya. We offered our obeisances there and then went on. The villagers encouraged us to walk on. They said there was a samadhi of Vajranabha, the great-grandson of Sri Krsna. As it was a rare opportunity we walked to the place and offered our obeisances at this ancient monument. There were a few beautiful calves there and a man named Balarama das. He is a babaji.

Up to now we had not founa a Radha-Krsna temple in Karhela. Then a man appeared in an orange lungi and he was very enthusiastic to have us visit his temple. It was a small temple with a Radha-Krsna-vigraha and a few salagrama-silas. The pujari recited some prayers and threw sanctified water on us. Then another matter came up. He wanted to have a donation.

Although we could not find the temple of Campakalata in Karhela, it was a nice visit. We had nice footage of the countryside of Varsana. Our next destination was Kamai, the village of Visakha-sakhi. At first our driver brought us to the Dauji-temple but then we walked half a kilometre to reach the temple of Sri Sri Radha-Bankebihari. The temple was decorated with beautiful colorful ornaments. On the altar there was a deity of Visakha-sakhi. By now it was around 11.30AM. Srila Gurudeva had some fruit salad at this temple and after some time we headed back to Vrndavana. By the mercy of Srimati Radharani we had now found the places of all the eight gopis.

DAY 13

Today’s filming was in Kadamb-kandi. We left the usual time, 6.30 AM. Today HG Dina Bandhu Prabhu was coming with us. There was also a friend of his, Mr. Nandana Lal Sharma, who came along. Kadamb-kandi is again one of those very secluded places of Vraja-mandala. Even Guru Maharaja had not been there before although he has visited Vrndavana since 1976. Kadamb-kandi is
situated a little further from Sunera. While driving to Kadamb-kandi we stopped at first in Sunera, where we went to see the temple. This time the old pujari was speaking more. On seeing the altar Guru Maharaja remarked nothing had changed since our visit a few days ago. From the temple roof one can see the beautiful landscape of greater Varsana. Dina Bandhu Prabhu also told us about the birds of Vraja and he imitated their singing by somehow connecting them with holy names.

On arriving to Kadamb-kandi everyone could see it is a very beautiful and peaceful place. The first impression was that of peacocks and parrots. We could not really hear the noise which is usually there in Indian towns and villages. Instead the sounds which could be hear were the chirping of little birds and parrot, the voice of peacock and mooing of cows and water buffaloes. Tusta Krsna Prabhu got into work immediately, filming the kadamba trees and peacocks with the big professional camera. This was maybe frightening to the locals and thus two local authorities came and forbade us from filming. Guru Maharaja was not so worried about it, he had said yesterday already that we could have a lighter day, with more chanting and less filming. We visited a small Krsna temple.

So we went with Guru Maharaja some way and sat under a pilu tree and chanted a few rounds. Then Dina Bandhu Prabhu and Mr Sharma came there with a big bucket of chass (buttermilk). They had spoken with the villagers and had got a permission for filming. Actually the locals were happy with us filming there. It was just the first impression which put them off, as it is not a common sight there to see a group of Westerners roaming around with their big cameras. “You may film as long as you do it for a good purpose”.

We were sitting underneath that pilu tree. The atmosphere was relaxed and Dina Bandu Prabhu told a story of Nagaji, a great ascetic who used to live in Kadamb-kandi. Nagaji was a devotee of Radha-Krsna and once he was picking flovers in this valley. He had a big hair which was tied on top of his head. Somehow his hair got stuck on thorn trees and thus he could not move. Some of the locals came to help him, but he declined by saying “I came here to pick flowers for Radha-Krsna and now I am stuck. Because I was serving Them, I will accept Their help only”. Thus he remained in the same place with his hair stuck into the thorns. Next lord Siva and Parvati came to the spot, offering their help. Nagaji would not accept their help either. “I came here in my service to Radha-Krsna. Only They may help me.” Next Lord Narayana came there with Laksmidevi. Nagaji declined again. Only when Radharani came there with Lord Krsna Nagaji agreed to let Them help him out of the thorns.

We honored breakfast prasadam just there, under that big pilu tree. We all drank lots of chass and soon the 10 liter bucket was empty. Then Guru Maharaja went on to film around Kadamb-kandi. There is an interesting spot there. A kadamba tree and tamal tree have grown together. Actually they have intertwined. Because kadamba trees are connected with Radharani and tamal trees with Lord Krsna, these two trees are considered to represent the Divine Couple. Although the villagers were a bit reserved at first they had now become warmer. First they offered that bucket of chass and now they came up with a few rotis and a little subji so we all got to taste genuine Brijbasi prasadam.

Kadamb-kandi is situated in a valley. It is surrounded by hills, so one cannot see it from any other place like Varsana or Unchagaon. For this reason it is said Kadamb-kandi is a place of the confidential pastimes of the Divine Couple. Most of the trees there are kadamba and tamal trees, with some pilu trees as well. Dina Bandhu Prabhu said Radha and Krsna are blissfully engaging in rasa-dance there. We went on filming under the guidance of Guru Maharaja. There was really a lot to film. The peacocks in Kadamb-kandi are quite fearless. We got nice shots of them. Then we climbed up a hill to the bhajab-kutir of Nagaji-baba. After spending some time there it was the time to return to Vrndavana.

On returning to the cars we packed our things and sat in the cars waiting for the drivers. They came but they said it would take some time before we could go. Some villagers had become eager to express their hospitality so some surprises were to come. We sat on the ground, waiting. The drivers brought us leaf-plates and plastic cups. Then one of the drivers brought in a bucketful of chass. The other came with a big stack of brijbasi rotis and a dahl-pot. Then they started to serve the prasadam. This time we were having a special style of rotis called the “sadhuka”-roti. These are quite thick rotis. A rolling pin is not used while preparing them. They got their name from the idea that sometimes a sadhu comes for a visit and then he should be immediately be fed. Thus sadhuka rotis are quick to prepare and I must say they are not light stuff. After eating a couple of them one
does not feel at all hungry.

DAY 14

Today we started at 6.30 AM for Surya-kunda. We were travelling in a minibus of 15 seats. HG Dina Bandhu Prabhu accompanied us today also. We were almost 20 so our small bus was full. Surya-kunda is a place which Guru Maharaja had never visited so in other words it is again one of those very rare places to visit.

On arriving to Surya-kunda the first temple we visited was that of Madhusudana das Babaji. He is a great devotee who lived a few hundred years ago. It is said he had realised his svarupa. He also found a stone on which Srimati Radharani had left Her ornaments as She went to take Her bath in Surya-kunda. This stone can still be seen in the samadhi-mandira of Babaji Maharaja.

Next we went to the main temple, Surya-Narayana mandira. This temple is maintained by one Gaudiya Matha and is led by HH Trivikrama Swami. They were very nice people and gave us a warm welcome. On the altar is a Deity of Surya-Narayana who is holding in his hands the sun and the moon. At the time this temple was under major renovation, and it was quite noisy. The devotees led us to the temple room, which also was under construction. We sat down and chanted “Jaya Radhe Jaya Krsna Jaya Vrndavana”.

At first Dina Bandhu Prabhu was speaking and then Guru Maharaja. They narrated the pastime connected with Surya-kunda. It is a very important place, where Radha and Krsna meet in Their daily pastimes. Surya-kunda is also connected with the pastime where Sri Krsna kills Sankhacuda.

After Krsna-katha the local devotees sat us down for prasadam. The day’s menu consisted of Brijbasi rotis, a little subji, chass and a sweet. Very simple prasadam but very devotional. Even such a small thing like offering prasadam to the guests really creates a loving atmosphere.

After filming at Surya-kunda we headed to Cikitsoli-gram. The roads were in a particularly bad shape and the driver called them as “jumping rasta”. In Cikitsoli-gram Guru Maharaja did some filming at Sankhari-cor and after that the devotees went to Vilasgar, where the beautiful scenery was filmed. This time we went even further, down to the valleys of Vilasgar. On returning back to the vehicle Guru Maharaja met with HH Bhaktisiddhanta Maharaja who was spending some days in Man-mandira.

While in Cikitsoli-gram we saw many pilgrims. They were Indian, mostly old ladies. After we were done with the filming we started back to Vrndavana. However the roads were blocked as the pilgrims were honoring their kichoree lunch-prasadam right there on the road. It took some time to get past and meanwhile someone gave us some Brijbasi-rotis which were then distributed to the devotees.

DAY 15


Yesterday Guru Maharaja said today that by now he had got most of the material needed for the Varsana DVD. Today he had another plan. It was the first day of Kartika and at 6.30 a bus would leave for Govardhana. Srila Gurudeva said today we could have a day for resting i.e. more chanting and nice association. We were some thirty devotees and most of us were disciples of Guru Maharaja.

We arrived at Govinda-kunda. This is the place where the demigods bathed Sri Krsna with all kinds of auspicious liquids. From there we started to walk toward the Southern end of Giriraja. At one point Guru Maharaja decided we should stop for a while. We had a very beautiful darsana of Govardhana at that point. Then, for half an hour we were chanting Hare Krsna on beads. There were some children with us so during the break they built small stone-houses of the Govardhana-silas.

Then Guru Maharaja led a bhajans for some 15 minutes. He said: “It is nice, isn’t it. It is hard to have problems around here, but if you really try you can” Actually it is true. Chanting Hare Krsna at the lotus feet of Giriraja is certainly an experience which is not from this world.

Then we went on. After passing the Southern end, Puchar, we spotted some blue cows up on Govardhana. At first we saw four, then six, and after some time we saw so many of them we could not count. They were watching us, in other words they were conscious that we were there but they were not frightened away. Later Guru Maharaja said he had never seen so many of these mysterious animals.

Seeing the blue cows we did not walk any further. Tusta Krsna Prabhu had his small vidiocamera so he and Guru Maharaja started to film the deer. We spent quite some time there, perhaps 45 minutes. Meanwhile some of the local monkeys were about to attack the matajis. Somehow they got irritated.

We walked to Puchari and there we went to have the darsana of Sri Lota Baba. Then we walked to our buses and then drove to Kusum Sarovara where we had a nice bath. This time however Guru Maharaja did not take part.

This is all for now. In the near future there will be the next part.

Hoping to become your servant,
Avadhutacandra das

 

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Oct
21

He would film in secret

Posted under Diary

Dear Godbrothers and Godsisters.Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and all glories to Guru Maharaja!

Greetings from Sri Vrndavana dhama. Guru Maharaja asked me to write a diary of the different activities he is doing here.

DAY 1

Srila Gurudeva arrived to Vrndavana at 2.30AM. This day was meant for building up strength for the filming project for Varsana which is starting tomorrow. The most of the day he was working on the computer.

DAY2

The filming started today. Guru Maharaja attended mangala-arati, and after that, around 5.50AM an Ambassador started for Varsana. Our team consists of five devotees. Guru Maharaja, Tusta Krsna Prabhu (a Godbrother from U.K.), Svarupa Damodara Prabhu (a Godbrother from Novosibirsk, Russia), Bhakta Prinal (a devotee from S.A) and myself. First scenes were from Varsana village. Tusta Krsna Prabhu is a professional cameraman. He was mainly doing the filming, but under the careful instruction of Guru Maharaja. Many times Tusta Krsna Prabhu set the camera and then Guru Maharaja checked it, and sometimes altered the settings slightly. By this we can understand that like an artist he has a clear vision how a scene should look like. Pranal Prabhu was also sometimes filming with another smaller camera. Svarupa Damodara Prabhu and I were helping by carrying the parahernelia.

In the beginning a few shots of this small village were taken. There were many curious onlookers, some of which wanted also to be a part of this new DVD. Also some of the local animals like cows, monkeys, pigs and water buffaloes were shot (with the camera!). By walking across the village one can see the temples which are situated on the hills. One of the most interesting objects was sankhari cor, the place where Srimati Radharani broke Her pot of yoghurt. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura has related a pastime connected with this incident. The exact spot is in a gulley, and it is quite interesting to see that there is a distinct mark of Radha’s yoghurt still visible on the rocks. I am not able to relate this pastime, but maybe you have heard it in Guru Maharaja’s lectures.

Quite a few of the locals were also after a donation. After sankhari cor we proceeded up the hill to Vilasgar. Guru Maharaja said this is one of his favourite places in greater Vrndavana. It is no wonder, because nowadays many of the places around Vrndavana town are really populated with pilgrims, tourists, locals and different varieties of business-spirited people. In Vilasgar there were no monkeys even. Guru Maharaja had his breakfast prasadam here and quite a bit of filming was done also, after all the scenery up there is very wonderful.

According to Dina Bandhu Prabhu this is the place of the pastime where Krsna dressed as the female singer. There is also a big jhulan (swing) where Radha and Krsna are having Their swing pastimes. Guru Maharaja told that actually the pastimes of Radha-Krsna are eternally going on in these different places. We can see them even now if we have a spiritual vision. After the filming was completed in Vilasgar we returned to Vrndavana. In the afternoon we went to the Yamuna. There a beautiful ceremony was held in which the ashes of two devotees were placed in the holy Yamuna river.

Guru Maharaja gave a small lecture where he spoke about the BG verse dehino ’smin yatha dehe. He remarked that this verse means a sober person is not bewildered by death, be it his own or someone dear to him. He also spoke about the glories of Yamuna. River Yamuna is dark in color, darker than other rivers. This is because of her close connection with Lord Krsna. River Yamuna is said to be a thousand times holier than the Ganges, because Krsna did not only dip His lotus feet in her waters. The Lord immersed Himself completely in this holy river. After the speech the ashes were placed in the Yamuna. There was kirtana, and then Guru Maharaja performed an arati for Yamuna and then the all of us bathed in her waters.

Going to the Yamuna was also a small adventure, as in this time of the year she is not flowing so high as usually. We had to walk some way to the place of the ceremony. We even had to walk across a small river some twelve meters wide.

DAY 3

Today we started for Varsana a little after six AM. Not exactly Varsana, but the village of Ciksoli gram, where Srimati Citradevi used to live. Varsana is situated in a very beautiful landscape. There are many small villages there and Ciksoli gram is one of them. Srila Gurudeva said this village has been here even before Caitanya Mahaprabhu. That means it has really been in the same location since the times of the pastimes of Lord Krsna. I found it a very nice experience to visit this village. Compared to the Vrndavana town Ciksoli gram (as well as the other villages around Varsana) are still somewhat untouched. The people were not aggressive. They were not really after money. Truly they are very innocent. We started by re-filming Sankhori cor as yesterdays footage was not well focused. After that we went to Krsna-kunda, a place which is connected to the very same pastime as Radha’s broken yoghurt pot. We spent quite a long time filming this kunda. Guru Maharaja remarked there were unexpectedly little monkeys around. On previous years there had been really many. We found the reason for that. There was a cage, which was used like a trap the monkeys who are always after some eatables.

After Krsna -kunda we started to climb the stairs. The hills in this region are quite high. Four of them are said to be the heads of lord Brahma. Climbing up, we eventually came to a place called Mor kutira. This place is connected with the pastimes of Radha-Krsna and the peacocks. The pujaris did not let us film inside the temple, so we got on its roof and filmed the beautiful landscape. To tell the truth, we filmed inside this temple also.

Pranal Prabhu became our man of special operations after this temple. He hid the camera under his gamsha/chadar, pretending it to be his japabag (like some Gaudiya Matha devotees chant in this way). Then he was just filming. It was quite exciting to see how he is doing. This time it went really well. There is also something else about this temple but you will hear it later, on the day 6.

After the Mor kutira we went on to Man-mandira, a temple dedicated to Radharani’s angry mood. This temple was a very nice experience. The Deities here are called Sri-Sri Radha-Manbihari. Guru Maharaja honored his breakfast prasadam here. The devotees in the temple were following Nimbarka-sampradaya and they were very friendly. They even invited us for prasadam. Thus we found Tusta-Krsna Prabhu, Pranal Prabhu and myself honoring dahl, rice and chapatis made by these devotees. After filming this temple we returned to Vrndavana.

DAY 4

At 6.30 AM we started again for Ciksoli Gram. Going past the Krsna-kunda we again started to climb the stairs. This time our aim was to reach one of the two main temples of the area, Jaipur temple. On our way we spent quite a long time filming the landscape and the people there. Guru Maharaja also wanted to include monkeys in the footage. “Personality types”, he said. There were truly many monkeys.

We came across many pilgrims who were also doing parikrama of Varsana-dhama. Some were even doing dandavat-parikrama. There are many wonderful saintly people living in this area. There was one old old man who was there with his japamala. He was only chanting “Jaya Sri Radhe!”, “Radhe Radhe!” and “Radhe Shyam!”. That was all he said. If one has such a sadhana, we can only imagine how advanced he is. There were also small bhajan-kutirs, where the local babas were living, absorbed in their austerities. Although many of the Hindus are quite deep in maya and materialistic, in these holy places it is possible to find people who are genuinely engaged in spiritual practises.

While walking up Tusta Krsna Prabhu asked Guru Maharaja about the difference of the Nimbarkas’ Radhe-Shyam mantra and the mahamantra. Guru Maharaja replied that maha mantra is superior, because it is not just a glorification of the holy names. In fact the Hare Krsna -maha-mantra is an appeal to be engaged in the loving devotional service of Radha and Krsna. Having climbed up the pathway we arrived at the first temple. Guru Maharaja knows some of the pujaris there. One of them, Syamasundara das, had been very strict in terms of not allowing photographing the Deities Radha-Danbihari. However the present pujaris were very kind and allowed the Deities to be filmed for a small donation. Just in the courtyard of this small temple is a jhulan for the pastimes of Radha-Krsna.

Next we walked up to the second temple, which is also known as the Jaipur-temple. This temple was built some 150 years ago when the King of Jaipur wanted the ancient Deities Sriji-Laralilal to be moved to the state of Jaipur (actually the border of Rajastan and U.P. goes between the two hills where the two big temples are located). However the family worshiping Sriji did not want to let go of the Deities, so other Deities reside in this altar. One thing which is very remarkable about the Jaipur temple is the very elaborate decorations and carvings.

Guru Maharaja explained that the King(s) of Jaipur was very devotional. Even today the wonderful artworks and intricate decorations tell of the Krsna-conscious qualities of that King who lived over a hundred years ago.

There are three altars in the Jaipur-temple. The first is dedicated to Lord Hamsa-Gopala and on the altar are residing also the four Kumaras. Guru Maharaja explained the devotees in Nimbarka-sampradaya are especially devoted to Krsna’s Hamsa-avatara. This is because Nimbarkacarya is in the line coming down from the four Kumaras, who were instructed by the swan-incarnation of Krsna. On the middle altar reside Sri Sri Radha-Goshalabihari and on the third altar are the Deities Sri Sri Radha-Nrtyabihari. Officially it is not permitted to film the Deities of the Jaipur-temple. However, Guru Maharaja gave them a donation of some hundreds of rupees, so the pujaris then happily agreed to the filming. While speaking to the pujaris, Guru Maharaja asked which sampradaya they belong to. “Nimbarka-sampradaya?” “Gaudiya-sampradaya?”. The pujaris did not say yes as an answer. They said, “Maharaja, no no. We belong to the paid-sampradaya.”

After spending an hour or so in the Jaipur-temple we proceeded onwards. Guru Maharaja went to a nearby garden for chanting the gayatri and maha-mantra. Because the Jaipur-temple is situated on the top of a hill, the scenery is very beautiful, so this place is very beautiful. However in a nearby tea-stall they were playing some hindi-songs. It sounded just like cinema-music. Guru Maharaja said the songs had in them some devotional aspects. Still we could understand how Kali-yuga has sneaked in into India’s spiritualism. One of the songs was about how a person is calling Radha and Krsna with a cell-phone.

DAY 5

This day we did not go out filming. Guru Maharaja took part in the mangala arati and he chanted japa in the rooms of Srila Prabhupada, as usual. There is a room just next to Krsna-Balarama-mandir where Srila Prabhupada used to live. Nowadays these rooms are kept as a museum where one can see many of the personal items used by Srila Prabhupada. Usually in the morning time this is a very peaceful place for chanting..

Srila Gurudeva gave the SB class this morning. In the class he was speaking how many times we cannot directly preach Krsna-conscious philosophy to the people, due to their conditioning. As an example he gave Dhruva Maharaja, who was preached to by Narada Muni. Another important theme was that mere study of the holy scriptures is not enough. There are many university scholars, who may know Bhagavad-Gita by heart, but still they have not at all improved their lives, but on the contrary they are addicted to all kinds of sinful activities. It is essentiel to study the scriptures under the guidance of a self-realised soul.

It was said by Guru Maharaja: “Just like the other day we were visiting Varsana and we went to a place there named mor-kutir. Some of you may know that place upon one of the hills. It’s a little asrama of some esoteric-type sadhus. They’re Nimbarka, are they? Anyway, whatever, they’re some esoteric sadhus and they really look the part very much. So we walked in and there was the main devotee with candana all over his entire head and so on. As we said, he really looked like just a real example of esoteric Vaisnavism. And he was sitting there with his disciples or younger associates. And they had the radio playing, quite loud.

Hopefully you are not aware but at the moment there is or there was a cricket test-match being played somewhere in India, between Australia and India. And this was what they were listening right there in the front of the altar, loud, the cricket test match. Anyway it’s apparently, at least arguably showing a lack of a transcendental taste.

I even if one gets access to these things one way or another.. In fact we noticed that day there were a number of people in Varsana doing parikrama with a portable radio playing the cricket test match and with their big tilakas on I but there must be a connection with a realised spiritual master.” “Unless one is in touch with a realised spiritual master, he cannot actually realise the real nature of the self as a devotee. Aham brahmasmi may be the first step but then jivera svarupa haya krsnera nitya dasa. Ultimately it must come to this point that we realise that we are the eternal servant of Krsna . And our whole lives, not just in a general sense but in every sense our whole lives must be focused in Krsna-consciousness. And not just focused part-time in Krsna-consciousness and part-time in material existence. But in order to achieve that one needs the association and direction of one who is really qualified like that.”

DAY 6

Today Guru Maharaja continued with the filming. In the morning we drove to Varsana and first we climbed up the stairs to the main temple in Varsana. It was quite a long staircase. Guru Maharaja counted the number of stairs was 192 Srila Gurudeva said this temple of Sri Sri Sriji-Lararilal is one of the most difficult temples when it comes to filming. One of the reasons is that the Deities presiding in the temple are one of the original 5000-year old Deities, carved by Vajranabha. In the past the pujaris have acted quite violently, if they have seen even a glimpse of a camera. It was no wonder if they yelled at someone trying to film the altar. They often would confiscate the film from the camera. Sometimes they would even physically attack.

Although it is a common practise in India, bribery would not work in this temple, not even with big notes like 500 rupees. So we went into the temple and there was a special strategy that was developed to achieve success in our mission. Four of us, Guru Maharaja, Tusta Krsna Prabhu, Svarupa Damodara Prabhu and myself would go to the altar like pilgrims usually do. We would have darsana as normal. In the same time Tusta Krsna Prabhu would act as if he had a phonecall to his cell-phone. He has a phone with a camera built in in it. So nonchalantly he was handling his phone and he shot some photoes, and succeeded nicely. The pujaris would not even notice.

In the meantime Pranal Prabhu would enter, as if he was not one of our group. Just like the other day, he had hid the small video camera under his chaddar and was looking like an usual Gaudiya Vaisnava pilgrim. He would film in secret. To misdirect the pujaris’ attention our group would ask questions like “How old these Deities actually are?” “What are Their names”. And so on. We would give nice donations to the pujaris, accept caranamrta and maha-prasadam. It is possible that the pandas had some doubts about Pranal. They said “No filming!” as if to test him. Despite this the outcome was some 15-20 seconds of quite nice quality footage of Sriji-Laralilal. I must say it was a quite exciting experience.

Next we asked the pandas whether the many paintings in the ceiling could be filmed. They agreed. However after a minute or so they came and forbade Tusta Krsna Prabhu from filming. “It is the rule of this temple that no filming is allowed”, they said. So we went outside the temple to film the beautiful scenery. Pranal Prabhu went back to the pandas and asked again whether it would be OK to film the temple room. The pujari said this time it would be possible, but only after 1PM, when the altar would be closed. We went on with our filming. Just outside the temple there is a small shrine for lord Brahma. After all the Varsana temple is on one of his heads. There is also a shrine for kamadhenu, and an alcove which is said to contain impressions of Radharani’s footprints.

So we filmed the stairs. When we reached Varsana town we visited some attractive small temples. In one of them are Deities, which are considered by some to be the original Deities. There are the Deities of Srimati Radharani, Maharaja Vrsabhanu, Srimati Kirtidadevi and Subala. There is also another temple dedicated for Sri Sri Radha Krsna and the eight gopis.

Having spent some time in these temples we went outside the town to a place called pili-pokhara (yellow lake). This is a place where Radha washed her hands, which were smeared with turmeric by mother Yasoda. In Vedic culture this is the tradition, if a young girl is to be married with someone. Guru Maharaja explained this is a very special holy place, and even Sri Krsna assumed the form of Gauranga Mahaprabhu on bathing here. Srila Gurudeva and Tusta Krsna Prabhu filmed here for a long time. After that it was already past noon so we returned to Varsana.

Guru Maharaja and I stayed back in the town, and the others proceeded up the 192 stairs to the temple. It took a long time. Guru Maharaja said “either things are going very well or there must be some problems”. After about an hour Pranal Prabhu came to the car and presented Guru Maharaja with a surprise: “a plate of Srimati Radharani’s mahaprasadam from the rajabhoga offering”. It had been really a success. The pandas had even come to show the different paintings and presenting that “here is a good place to film”.

Afterwards Pranal said they had been “just like kittens”. It could have been otherwise as well. They even wanted to have a copy of the new DVD. If they ever get it, perhaps it should be a special edition in which the part fith Sriji-Laralilal is omitted. It is quite clear that all these wonderful achievements can only be possible by the mercy of Srimati Radharani.

DAY 7

As usual, we started at 6.30 AM. However our team had a different constitution. Tusta Krsna Prabhu had fallen sick and there were four new devotees in our team, Brhad-mrdanga Prabhu and three devotees from Russia. Our destination today was Unchagaon, the place of Srimati Lalitadevi.

Unchagaon is situated on a hill, so there one can have a very beautiful view of the holy land of Varsana. For this reason Guru Maharaja wanted to film the surrounding areas. Although there is some distance, from Unchagaon one can see even the temples of Varsana. We used the big professional camera to film the scenery and the holy places. Guru Maharaja wanted me to film some interesting details with another, small videocamera: “Cows, peacocks, other birds, plants, small Brijvasis, anything of interest.”

There is also a small temple in Unchagaon, where the Deities Sri Sri Radha-Lalitabihari reside. It is a nice place and it is maintained by very nice people. Guru Maharaja remembered the pujari, Mahesh, from the previous year. They spoke some time and meanwhile Mahesh brought some chass (Brijvasi buttermilk) for our filming team. Chass is a traditional drink in Vraja. This time it was flavoured with salt and cumin.

We went on with the filming to a nearby lake which is called deha-kunda. It was at this place that the gopis surrendered their everything to Sri Krsna, including their bodies. Then we proceeded to the bhajan-kutir and samadhi of Sri Narayana Bhatta Goswami, who was a follower of the six goswamis of Vrndavana. He was uncovering many of the lost sites of Lord Krsna’s pastimes. He had a Deity of laddu-Gopala. While walking around in Vraja-mandala, laddu-Gopala used to speak to Goswami Maharaja when they came to some important place. The Lord also narrated to him the actual significance of that particular place. Guru Maharaja also had his morning prasadam at this place.

Next we proceeded to Sakhi-giri Parvati, the hill of the gopis. This is another important holy place. One of the sites in this hill is Citra-sila, the rock which has images on it. Guru Maharaja related the pastime that happened here. Once Srimati Radharani arranged the wedding ceremony of Sri Krsna and Srimati Lalitadevi. Being absorbed in Her service, Radha became so ecstatic, that Her veil falled off. Also the veil experienced such intense ecstacy that it became very hot. And the roch it fell onto also became ecstatic and melted. Thus an image of Radha’s veil was left on the rock and it is still visible. It is quite an amazing sight. The rock is completely smooth, but quite distinctly one can see an impression of Radharani’s veil.

Climbing on we came across another important place. On this very hill Krsna and the cowherd boys once had their lunch. Even today one can find a place where there are impressions of the boys’ lunchbowls. Here the impressions are very distinct and they are arranged in a neat line. Quite amazing. What I have written here cannot truly express these important place. If you are more interested, you had better get the Varsana parikrama DVD when it is published.. From the cowherd boys’ lunchsite we still went on to find a rock with the impression of the gopis’ handprints. However we could not find this. Today we did quite a bit of walking. One could say that while in the association of Guru Maharaja, one will improve on many levels, both spiritual and physical.

DAY 8

Today we started at 6.30 AM. HG Tusta Krsna Prabhu was still sick, so we had the same composition as the previous day. On Wednesday we had heard about a village called Dawara, and it was said this village is connected with Tungavidya-devi, one of the asta-sakhis. Guru Maharaja wanted to see this village. Actually it was not very far from Varsana and Cikitsoli, so we drove there first.

We found the temple dedicated to Sri Sri Radha-Rasabihari and Tungavidya-devi. It was maintained by one Gaudiya Matha, branching from Kesava Maharaja, one of Srila Prabhupada’s Godbrothers. From the first moments the atmosphere was warm and welcoming. An old devotee was sitting there with thick spectacles, making a garland for the Deities. Gopinatha das, pujari, offered our whole group delicious malpuras and sweet chass. They happily agreed to let their temple to be filmed. The altar in the temple was simple but beautiful. Also opposing the altar there was an ancient carving depicting Sri Sri Radha Krsna and Their pastimes. Also Tungavidya-devi was there. Unfortunately the Muslims had molested this wonderful piece of devotional art.

Gopinatha-pujari told us to return at 10.30 AM for rotis and dahl. While waiting we had a small adventure in the countryside of Dawara. We went to look for a plae called Syama-sila in the nearby hills. We also found it. Syama-sila consists of very special rocks which are coloured as blackish and golden. Although this place is not described in Vrndavana guidebooks, one might suppose the significance of the Syama-sila is that it does not differ from Radha and Krsna. From Syama-sila we had a nice view of the surroundings. There is also a place called Chota-Giriraja just nearby Dawara. This hill is said to be the little brother of Giriraja Govardhana. After we came down from Syama-sila we went on to Ratna-kunda, which is the place where Srimati Radharani planted pearls in one pastime with Lord Krsna.

Quite some time passed in filming these holy sites and thus we returned to the temple at 11 AM. We were taken to a small prasadam room and we all sat on the floor behind leaf plates. Then the temple devotees, including Gopinatha started to serve prasadam. It was a quite simple meal consisting of rotis, two subjis, dahl and raw sugar. To tell the truth this was a very wonderful lesson of Vaisnava culture. We sat there honoring prasadam and the devotees serving prasadam came back again and again. Actually it became a pastime. We had had enough prasadam, but still they wanted to feed us more and we had to make some ways by which we could neatly refuse from accepting more prasadam. In the same time the temple devotees tried to find new ways by which they could smuggle in one more roti or a little bit of dahl. It was truly amusing.

After we had had our feast we were about to leave the temple. On this moment all the devotees offered their humble obeisances to each other. By the grace of Guru Maharaja we had had this wonderful experience of the sweetness of Vaisnava dealings. Unlike other places in Vrndavana no one in Dawara came to us to ask for money. This is the beauty of these small villages. Although they may be difficult to reach, people are there very innocent. They are not corrupted by tourism and business-spirited activities. Everything is very simple and natural. It could be said that the difficulty orf reaching these places is actually something that will save them in the final hand. It may not be easy for devotees to go there, but also Kali has to work harder to push his influence there. Unless there was a need to go back to West for preaching, one could certainly spend a lot of time in the small villages of Vraja, chant Hare Krsna and be happy.

After Dawara we proceeded to Prema Sarovara. This is a holy lake which was formed by the loving tears of Radha and Krsna. There is also a small temple there, where the Deities are said to be original Deities carved by Vajranabha, i.e. They are 5000 years old. As a contrast to the temple in Dawara, the pujari here welcomed us by saying “Nofilming here! One photo of these Deities costs 1000 rupies!” Actually we were not so sorry about it although the Deities Sri Sri Radha-Premabihari are truly beautiful. We spent about an hour filming Prema Sarovara. Srila Gurudeva also chanted his gayatri mantras in this holy place. At about two o’clock we started again for Vrndavana.

These are some of the transcendental pastimes of our Guru Maharaja here in Sri Vrndavana dhama. Certainly one could write more about these adventures, but knowing one’s human limitations it may be best to stop here, but only for some time. More pastimes are to come.

Aspiring to become your servant,

Avadhutacandra das

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