Dear Devotees and Friends,

Please accept my best wishes. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

As you have no doubt noticed for quite some time I have not been making any
reports on my traveling and my visits to different countries and temples.
This is been because I have been too busy with so many activities like being
Chairman of the GBC body.

But I thought that now I could perhaps begin again as now I have someone to
assist me with my email and that really helps tremendously. I actually
forget exactly when I left off with the messages, but let me go back to
November last year when I made a very amazing trip with a group of devotees
to an area that I’ve never been to.

We went with a group of about seventy devotees from different countries: to
Rishikesh and then up to the Himalayas, to Badrinath. Rishikesh was very
nice. It was early November so the weather was still good although it was a
little cool in the evenings and early mornings. We bathed in the Ganges
there and did some harinama.

Even there are boats there for tourists which go up and down the Ganges to
different places and one of the boat owners was so impressed by our harinama
that he took our whole group on his boat up and down the Ganges beneath one
of the main bridges known as Lakshman Jula. We had harinama in the boat with
loud speakers so all the people on the bridge and on the banks were able to
hear the chanting of Holy names and it was really very nice.

Then one evening we went down to the main temple where they perform Ganga
puja every night. They offer arati to the Ganges. So our whole group went
down with harinama and watched as the ceremony took place. What was
particularly nice was that the main swami made an announcement to everyone
that we were present and thanked us for participating. So it was really
quite nice.

Then we went up to Jhoshimath, a town just before Badrinath from Rishikesh.
It was the most amazing drive I have ever been on. We were on the road for
ten hours and there was not a straight piece of road for more than about
fifty or sixty meters the whole way. Everything was just twisting and
turning and bumping and it was really quite an experience.

The Himalayas are quite incredible. We’ve all seen mountains and mountain
passes etc. But until you have seen the Himalayas you’ve really have not
seen very much at all. It was undoubtly the most picturesque area I have
ever been in. These amazing massive mountains with the beautiful Alakananda,
Ganges following through. What an amazing experience.

There were a couple of times where on the narrow roads passing through the
mountains I looked out the window and could not see anything at all down for
at least a thousand meters.

Then one of the days we drove up to Badrinath itself to have darshan of the
main Deity. It is one of the old classic pilgrimage places of India and it
is up at three thousand meters above sea level. From it one can see various
mountains such as Mt Nandi, which is the highest mountain in India and is
something like seven thousand meters.

Usually at Badrinath there are many, many people, but we were there in
November and there was hardly anyone at all. It closes when the snow starts,
usually in the middle of November, and then only opens again in April or
May. So we were there just some days before it closed and we were able to go
and have very nice darshan of Deities. Normally because there are thousands
and thousands of people there, there is a lot of pushing and shoving, but we
were able to stand there in front of the Deities for several minutes or even
practically as long as we liked and it was wonderful to have that darshan.

From there we went to the village known as Mana which is important for a
number of reasons. One is that this is where Srila Vyasadeva and Ganesh
compiled the Vedic literature. So there is a cave of Ganesh and then there
is another cave near it of Srila Vyasadeva. Vyasadeva was reciting the Vedic
literatures and Ganesh told him “yes, I will write everything down with my
four hands but if you stop anytime then I will stop writing and I won’t
start again, so please keep going”.

Srila Vyasadeva said: “no problem, I will do that, but you must only write
down what you’ve understood”. Ganesh agreed to that. So when Srila Vyasadeva
wanted to take a break to have a rest or anything else, he would speak some
esoteric point which was very difficult to understand and Ganesh would be
stumped and would have to stop and think about it for some time before he
could understand it, and then continue with the writing. So that was very
interesting to see.

Then we followed the road of the Pandavas to the source of the Sarasvati river.
It was a really amazing scene with this river pouring out from amongst the
rocks. The path then goes on into the Himalayas and is known as the path of
the Pandava’s. It is described in Mahabharata and in Srimad Bhagavatam. They
simply walked into the Himalayas and one by one they left their bodies in
that sacred area.

On the whole it was a very interesting experience and something which really
gave an interesting perspective on our vaishnava culture.

From there I went back to South Africa and did various programs there and
then visited Mauritius and then Mayapur.

After some days I will give a little report about what happened in Mayapur,
and then like this over the next few weeks we will gradually catch up with
short reports about the main things that have been happening until the
present moment.

So for the time being please accept my apologies for not keeping you
informed for such a long time and please keep chanting your rounds and
practice in Krishna Consciousness very seriously. There is nothing like
Krishna Consciousness in all the three worlds, and we are so fortunate to have
access to it. The main things for us are to follow the instructions of Srila
Prabhupada very carefully, particularly by getting up early in the morning,
chanting our rounds nicely with good attention, following the regulative
principals properly, reading Srila Prabhupada’s books and engaging in as much
devotional service as we can.

If we do like this then we can be successful in Krishna Consciousness and go
back to the Godhead at the end of this lifetime and of course for the time
being we will be very happy in Krishna Consciousness.

Hoping this meets you well.

Your servant,

Bhakti Caitanya Swami.

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