I will briefly sum up what transpired on our last day in Jaipur. We went for mangal aarti at the Gopinatha temple. If ever you have a chance, and have not done so as yet, please go and have darshan at the temples of Radha Madan Mohana, Radha Govinda and Radha Gopinatha – these are the original deities. These deities are extremely beautiful and captivating. This temple is much smaller compared to the Govindaji temple. After mangal aarti we sat down and tried to chant japa but it was a little difficult. There was a lot of noise and as the temple was small, we could not escape it really. We were meant to have our morning program right here but Guru Maharaj decided we will go and chant japa at Govindaji temple and have our morning program there. So we walked to the Govindaji temple. The morning was cool and it was a pleasant walk – not much traffic and not many people either. We arrived at Govindaji temple and chanted japa. This was our last japa session of the many that we had with Guru Maharaj during this parikrama. Immediately after japa, Guru Maharaj delivered his last class with us all.
He spoke from Bhagavat Gita 2.9. He said He chose this verse because here Krishna is referred to as Govinda. There are a few verses in Bhagavat Gita where Krishna is referred to but this reference particularly is in a material sense. In this verse Arjuna is saying “You should be satisfying my senses. You are the master, that is Your job. But You are not doing Your job. You are not satisfying my senses.. It is no good and because of that I will not do my duty”. Guru Maharaj said this reminded Him somewhat of our bus driver. Everyday he tells Guru Maharaj to ask us to give money to him. Guru Maharaj was afraid that he could tell us at anytime “if you don’t give me money, I will not drive the bus”. Guru Maharaj explained how this was a material idea and that Krishna Consciousness is not material. It is completely transcendental. I will only do something for you if you do something for me is material consciousness. But Lord Caitanya expressed in Siksastakam verse 8 what pure spiritual consciousness is. Whether the Lord leaves one broken-hearted or smothers him with affection, He will always remain my worshippable Lord. Guru Maharaj said an example of too much affection is when devotees serve prasadam. They are always trying to give more and even if you put your hand out over the plate to say no, the sabji goes all over the hand and they insist you must eat it. Lord Caitanya says: “whether you are so kind that it hurts, or on the other hand if you are neglecting me and it seems I am struggling on my own – You are still my Lord. I will serve you come what may!” That is pure Krishna Consciousness. What Arjuna is saying in this verse is a reflection of material consciousness. He is saying that the situation on the battlefield does not suit him therefore he will not do it. He wants to go elsewhere where he can get sense gratification. But if we try to serve Krishna unconditionally, then we actually discover the real proper meaning of Govinda. Krishna always helps his sincere devotees. In this way devotees lose interest in material things. They are happy simply serving Krishna and if He doesn’t give then it is also fine. Guru Maharaj narrated the story of Srila Sanatana Goswami and the touchstone, which ordinarily is considered quite valuable, but he actually threw it away in the rubbish heap as he had something much more valuable – the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra. Simply by using this touchstone, Sanatana Goswami was able to give a Shivaite the most valuable thing he had. So this is the mercy of Govinda. Even though a devotee does not want anything material, if they use it in their service, He will give them everything material and if not, He may take it away. The secret point to bear in mind is that the senses should be fully engaged in the service of Govinda. As Krishna says: “without consideration of happiness and distress, victory or defeat…”, we should serve Him.
So that was the last class that we had with Guru Maharaj. Guru Maharaj’s classes have been inspiring and full of nectar throughout the parikrama. Today happens to be ekadasi and we are taking prasadam at the Iskcon Dauji Giridhari temple. As we were about to leave, Guru Maharaj met Man Mohan Prabhu, the first Indian disciple of Srila Prabhupada. It was wonderful to meet Him and he just sang the glories of Guru Maharaj and told us how lucky we are to be surrendered to Him. We then went back to the hotels, gathered our things and set off for Dauji Giridhari. Guru Maharaj travelled separately from us which was sad as we lost out on many hours of association with Him.
I had no idea what to expect at that temple. It is set in this most isolated environment, completely surrounded by nature. We are not sure how long that will last. From the outside one can see only construction and we had actually walked right past the temple entrance and did not know it. Eventually we were guided to the temple and when we entered, it could not have felt more like home. Srila Prabhupada was there and this was Iskcon – JAI!! It felt so good. There is nothing like entering an Iskcon temple. We had been to many, many temples during our parikrama and many had the original deities and many were extremely magnificent – but nothing one of them compared to being here (off course except for our Krishna Balarama mandir). The altar was closed but we were not there for 2 minutes before the conch went in time for midday aarti. The curtains opened and we stood and gazed awe-struck at the most beautiful deities of Dauji and Giridhari – Lord Balarama with his magnificent club which looked almost like a baseball bat and Lord Krishna holding up Govardhan hill. And then a came kirtan that we could identify with…I am not sure where we got the energy from but we really went crazy. We needed something like this. Even before the kirtan was over Guru Maharaj started to round us up for prasadam as we had a long way to drive. We tore ourselves away from the kirtan but our minds were still there while sitting in the prasadam hall. Everything was set just like they do it in Mayapur – only on a smaller scale here. Guru Maharaj was served first. He was served with such love and attention and I must say the presentation was very nice indeed – a meal fit for a King. It did not prove to be too difficult to maintain an ekadasi fast as the devotees prepared a wonderful sumptuous feast. The service attitude and organisation was impeccable. I kept on thinking – this is what our temple needs to strive for. Everything was a reflection of proper management and guidance from the top. I overheard Guru Maharaj say to the temple president that he should visit South Africa sometime as we definitely need someone with the experience that he has, to show us the way. I hope he does come sometime. What a wonderful way to end our parikrama. We could have not asked for anything more. We were meditating on where we would have been if there was no Srila Prabhupada! It would’ve been a sad state of affairs.
We set off for Vrindavana and we were lamenting on the fact that the next morning, there would be no rush, no 50 devotees to be with, nowhere to go really and mostly – NO GURU MAHARAJ L…for most devotees that is. I still had a few days of association with Guru Maharaj…the fortunate few.
On our way back an announcement had been made that one of our devotees, Vraja Vallabha, our sound system co-ordinator had contracted cholera and he was seriously ill. They had requested us to do some bhajans for his benefit. It turned out to be pretty amazing bhajans – 5 South Africans sitting in one row, 1 playing kartalas expertly, the other playing mrdanga (he pretended that the seat was the mrdanga) and he did a good job, the rest of us singing chorus…with Avadhuta Chandra prabhu lead singing. We went really wild and if Guru Maharaj called us wild at that moment, he would have had reason to. It was nice and we were praying that the Lord will protect his very wonderful and dedicated devotee who is a big part of sankirtan in his part of the world. We got back safely, yet all tired, late that evening.
So today marks the sad end to the most incredible parikrama that I have ever experienced. I have been on many but none has impacted on my life like this one.
Srila Prabhupada said: “The business of a leader: He must be himself always enthusiastic and inspire others to be always enthusiastic. Then he is a real leader.”
How was this experience possible? Only by the mercy of our most dear Guru Maharaj:
– who had taken the time to be with us all here in Sri Vrindavan Dham
– who had been out on parikrama every single day from the beginning until the very end despite illness. After the first few days of parikrama (Guru Maharaj was actually so sick with flu and He even looked sick, but that did not keep Him in bed – He diligently took his medication on parikrama 3 times a day as required)
– who was so caring and loving and accommodating the entire parikrama “are you okay?”, “how are you doing?”, “is this too much for you?” “did you devotees bring breakfast?” – constantly checking and encouraging devotees in the most amazing manner, even the elderly and sick were enthused to be with us the entire parikrama
– who like a loving father exposed us to every drop of mercy He could, at every place where went, expertly convincing people to let us have special darshan in places where usually not allowed
– who pushed us to the limit for our own benefit, climbing the highest mountains and travelling the longest distances, even though some days we were ready to give up
– who was always distributing maha prasadam first to us fallen souls, making sure we all had some before honouring same
– who was always most enthusiastic and that same enthusiasm rubbed off on us all – I would never have gone down Krishna’s slide with my sarie!
– who never complained once about anything even if it was not to His satisfaction
– who was most tolerant of us despite our very many shortcomings when serving Him
– who time and again showed us how to chant japa properly
– who showered us all with unlimited mercy over and over again
– who lead by perfect example, keeping us always inspired and enthusiastic – our perfect leader – Srila Gurudev.
On behalf of us all Dear Guru Maharaj, Your servants thank you from the bottom of their hearts for this most amazing parikrama. You most lovingly revealed so much to us, which would have been impossible by our own efforts, knowing exactly what your most fallen children needed and we pray that this experience would help strengthen our spiritual lives so that we can practice nicely and hopefully do something wonderful someday soon. We are most fortunate to have You as part of our lives and we pray to Srimati Radharani to always keep us serving in the dust of your Divine Lotus Feet – Our Perfect Master! We pray that Guru Maharaj may always be in good health and we definitely look forward to the next parikrama.
Sri Vrindavana Dham Ki Jai!
Srimati Radharani Ki Jai!
Srila Prabhupada Ki Jai!
His Holiness Bhakti Caitanya Swami Maharaj Ki Jai!
Dear devotees, the next time you have the good fortune of serving Srila Gurudev, serve Him as if it is the only opportunity you will ever be presented with – with absolute love and the greatest care! These are rare opportunities indeed – cherish them!
That’s me signing out. I pray that I did not bore you too much. I apologise for some very lengthy posts. Hopefully, this will be of benefit to those who were unable to be there with us.
Syamarani devi dasi