Writings

Sri Vrindavana Dham – part 3

Day 26, Friday, 18/11/05

After a remarkably short rest, Gurudev was up and about by 04h15, and joined Haridev Prabhu and myself for the morning program. We all sat around Gurudev and chanted our rounds in His divine association. Then Gurudev gave SB class, about the Brahma Vimohana lila. Before class could begin, Gurudev chatted in a friendly, open way with the Mauritian devotees, headed by Krsna Candra Prabhu, “So, I advise all you young people: Don’t get old. It hurts.”
Gurudev threw back His head and had a good laugh. He also said at some stage, “As you grow older, the witch called Jara(old age) starts to embrace you more and more tightly. And then she hands you over to her brother Mrtyu(death).”

The class was amazing, as usual, and Gurudev spoke about the nature of “transcendental subject matter”. After class we served Him breakfast. Gurudev commented about Mother Manasi Ganga’s cooking, “These are the best dosas (crepes) I have ever eaten. Better than India even.”
When I met Gurudev later, He was chatting to Manasi Ganga’s father, who is an ardent Arya Samaj follower. Initially, Gurudev was making very strong, sastric points, and convincing the man by presenting the reality of the situation without compromise. As I witnessed the conversation, I amazed at how expertly Gurudev dealt with this person. It was on his terms, he was made to feel very comfortable, and gradually he let down his guard, allowing Gurudev to win him over with His sweetness. Gurudev reminded me so much of how expertly Srila Prabhupada would deal with all grades of people that he met. Gurudev has learned this art well.

After the meeting, Gurudev and a small group of us went for a swim, which was very refreshing. When we got back, Gurudev took a bath and honoured prasadam.
He then gave darshan. During one darshan, when He was asked about His trip to Vrndavan, He said, “It was amazing! Really amazing!” For the rest of the afternoon, Gurudev worked on His computer, editing the new DVD and replying to e-mail. Then, at around 7pm, we left for a hall program with Gurudev. When we arrived, Gurudev noted with disappointment that the turn-out was very poor. (This was a shame, because I know that the Mauritian devotees had laboured really hard to advertise it.) Unperturbed, Gurudev started the program with bhajan and then an overview of Bhagavad Gita. He covered 3 essential points:

1. We are not this body, but spirit soul
2. Transcendental knowledge about Krsna
3. Understanding the relationship between them.

Amazingly, as He continued to speak, the Hall began to steadily fill up until it was completely packed! Unfortunately, because of the tiredness borne of flying for 8 hours and not having enough rest the night before, I was “wiped out” and dozed off during class.
After the program, we went back to the house and took a well-deserved rest.

Day 27, Saturday, 19/11/05

After a full morning program, we all sat around Gurudev as He gave an amazing SB class. He spoke about Krsna’s unlimited qualities. Gurudev spent the rest of the day working at His computer and chanting japa, whilst I worked on the diary. We all went to Krsna Candra Prabhu’s house for prasadam. What a feast! This gave us “sufficient energy” for the harinam at 4pm at Curepipe. As Gurudev chanted sweetly all the devotees danced and chanted in ecstacy.

That evening, Gurudev did a program at Rose Belle Preaching Centre. One would assume that Gurudev would have been wiped out from the day’s activities. Judging from the rumbling kirtan that He lead, you wouldn’t say so! Gurudev gave class on BG.6.47. He asked who knew the Sanskrit and I raised my hand – big mistakei To my disbelief, He asked me to recite the Sanskrit verse out aloud. As luck would have it, I completely “blanked out” after one and a half lines. Gurudev said to the packed audience, “He was trying to bluff you all.” The devotees all laughed and I wished that the earth could swallow me up.

Just to “set the record straight”, yoginam api sarvesam mad-gatenantar-atmana sraddhavan bhajate yo mam sa me yuktatamo matah. After the class there were some announcements and formalities, and then Gurudev lead an ecstatic kirtan, with dveotees leaping into the air in gay abandon. As I watched Gurudev, I wondered where on earth He got His energy from! Here I was, practically half His age and completely “wiped out”, after a busy day, yet He was still pushing forward Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON with every ounce of His energy! I felt really embarrassed. We only got to bed at 22h30 that night! I “crashed out” immediately.

Day 28, Sunday, 20/11/05

The morning program was well-attended. Gurudev gave class on SB.10.14.8, and spoke about “punching yourself in the nose”. “Staying alive in Krsna Consciousness means you have to chant 16 rounds, follow the regulative principles and serve to the best of your ability.” After Gurudev and the devotees had taken prasadam, I joined Kisor Krsna Prabhu on sankirtan. It was so nice to meet such friendly people! When I got back, I helped serve prasadam to Gurudev and two of His Godbrothers lunch. Srnakirtan Prabhu and Arjuna Prabhu are based at the farm at Bon Accueil. The talk was friendly and sweet.

Immediately after this, we left for Bon Accuiel. Their Lordships, Sri Sri Krsna-Balaram were looking especially exotic and gorgeous. Adding to the atmosphere were the beautiful paintings on the ceiling of different pastimes performed by Krsna and Balaram. Gurudev spoke on BG. 7.16. “The main point is to come to pure devotional service.” The class had to winded up quickly though, because we were already running late for our next program at Phoenix. There was a HUGE kirtan rocking the Temple when we arrived. Gurudev spoke about the Katyayani Vrata the gopis took to get Krsna as their husband. He spoke about the high level of chastity that existed in Vedic culture. Gurudev ended His class and apologised profusely to the devotees for being the cause of the delay in serving prasadam.

After the devotees had taken prasadam, Gurudev showed two slideshows. The first was an emotion-charged depiction of Srila Bhakti Tirtha Swami’s final public darshan. There was hardly a dry eye in the place. We then saw the Woodstock Festival of Poland, which the devotees thoroughly enjoyed. Then we were off to Gurudev’s THIRD program “back-to-back”. It was at a preaching centre at L’Avenir. When Gurudev arrived the devoteed performed foot-bathing and Guru-puja. He then gave a BG class on BG. 10.14.

When speaking about BG.4.2, Gurudev spoke of how Gautama Rsi cursed all the brahmanas, causing the parampara to be broken. Although He didn’t really want to, Gurudev responded to the devotees request to honour prasadam, after which we headed back to Beau Bassin. We were all completely “wiped out” when we got back after a full day’s preaching and went straight to bed.

Day 29, Monday, 21/11/05

Gurudev admitted that He was fatigued when asked by several devotees about His health. SB class was about “false pride” and “realizing how insignificant we actually are”. As fate would have it, I was to give a practical demonstration about what false ego was. Gurudev asked the devotees what the word “ludicrous” meant and I immediately blurted out “ridiculous”, but Gurudev was displeased saying that He had posed the question to the Mauritians. I felt the balloon of my false ego go “pop”. For the rest of the day, Gurudev worked on editing the Nandagram DVD, whilst I edited the tape ministry.

When I went in to see Gurudev, I asked about His health.He admitted that He was not well. After Gurudev and all the devotees took prasadam, He went back to work on His computer. When we arrived at Sri Sri Radha-Golokananda, there was a powerful kirtan being lead by Nrsmha Caitanya Prabhu. Gurudev appreciated this devotees singing very much. Gurudev began His Seminar and then started talking about Ramacandra Puri, how he was so good at fault-finding and criticized even Lord Caitanya Himself. Many people came to see Gurudev after the seminar, eager to have His darshan.

Day 30, Tuesday, 22/11/05

At 04h55, Gurudev switched on the light in my room, causing me to leap out of bed and offer my obeisances. He was looking for His reading glasses, which I quickly located and handed to Him. When I joined Gurudev to chant japa, I noticed that He was wearing a cadar, because of the coolness of the morning. It was the first time I had ever seen Him wear a cadar. It made Him look very regal. There were at least 25 people crammed into Haridev Prabhu’s lounge for SB class, and more people continued to stream in. After breakfast, Gurudev gave darshan to many devotees.

Gurudev took prasadam at Guru Caran Prabhu’s house at 2pm, which turned out to be a feast of Mauritian cuisine! He especially appreciated the chilli-paste saying, “This is something else. REALLY hot! I have a brother in New Zealand who grows chillies. He’d really appreciate this. How long will it keep? Maybe we could send some to South Africa.” After the feast, we were all chatting to Guru Caran Prabhu when his walked in with an opulent-looking cake and a bottle of sparkling drink. Gurudev’s eyes widened, “There’s more? Krsna! Krsna!” He looked at me with an amazed expression, “This is too much!”

When we got back to the house, Gurudev worked on His computer. At the second day of the seminar, Gurudev sang “Gauranga Bolite”, which He pulled into a rumbling kirtan. He spoke about Haridas Thakur’s pastimes. Haridev Prabhu continues to astound me with his astounding level of consistency in following a full morning program. Every day, without fail.

Day 32, Wednesday, 23/11/05

I tried really hard to work on my japa this morning by focussing and sticking close to Gurudev, hoping that some of His shakti would rub off onto me. It worked!
SB class was about Brahma realizing his insignificance, about BG.15.15 and Uddhava’s real humility. Gurudev took a light breakfast of fruit only.

After Gurudev had taken His lunch, we all headed off to Tamarin for a swim. On the way, dark clouds gathered overhead and it began to rain. When we arrived, Gurudev took some time to decide what we should do. Then, after a walk on the shore to “check things out”, He settled in His chair and chanted japa. He was soon joined by Krsna Candra Prabhu, who convinced Gurudev to have a dip. We all followed Gurudev into the somewhat cool waters of the Indian Ocean. Gurudev swam gracefully into deeper waters with Krsna Candra Prabhu. He looked magnificent!

After our “dip” we changed and left for the house. Gurudev had a shower and we were off to Bhakta Ravi’s house for a short darshan. He washed Gurudev’s lotus feet, and then offered Him “channa-puri” , which Gurudev thought was really delicious. He jokingly asked Mother Manasi Ganga why she hadn’t made this preparation for Him before.

At the Temple Gurudev transformed a mellow bhajan into a rumbling kirtan. EVERYONE “got into it”, as Gurudev proved beyond doubt that He is one of the Kings of Kirtan. During today’s seminar, Gurudev spoke about Mukunda data, and how we react to Krsna’s plans for us. We shouldn’t rejoice or lament, but pass the test without being defeated. Then He spoke about a hilarious pastime in which Advaita Acarya pretended to be a Mayavadi just to get the attention and chastisement of Lord Caitanya.

Day 33, Thursday, 24/11/05

At this morning’s SB class, Gurudev announced to the devotees that this would be His last morning program as we were leaving the next day. He asked to be forgiven for any offences He may have caused. All the devotees said “No!” Gurudev said, “So you won’t forgive Me?” The devotees, understanding Gurudev’s joking intention, explained that they meant that He had not caused any offence.

Co-incidentally, this morning’ s verse spoke about a mother not taking offence when the child kicks her in the womb. This was used as an excuse by Brahma for his offence. He also spoke about how the gopis gave Krsna the dust from their feet to cure His headache. At around midday, Gurudev left for a recording for the Mauritian radio station. Then Gurudev took lunch-prasadam, and we headed back to the house. At the house, many devotees were requesting darshan with Gurudev, grasping the golden opportunity before He leaves for South Africa.

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