Please accept my humble obeisances.  All glories to Srila Prabhupada.  All glories to our most merciful Guru Maharaj!

I reported last from Jagganatha Puri Dham.  Our godbrother Avaduta Chandra das has covered the Sri Mayapur Dham part of the parikrama and I have the good fortune of reporting from Sri Vrindavan Dham.  I pray that I can successfully give you a glimpse of what we have been experiencing out here.

Most of us arrived in Sri Vrindavan Dham on the night of 10 November 2009. It was a long day of travelling.  We all left Sri Mayapur Dham very early and travelled in a convoy.  At the airport we saw Guru Maharaj briefly as we were on different flights.   We each had our own sets of austerities to deal with during our travels but we all eventually gathered in Sri Vrindavan Dham.

November 11th Badrinatha

With hardly any time to recover from that day-long trip, we were preparing for our first day of parikrama to the wonderful pastime place of Sri Badrinath Dham, which was once the place of Lord Shiva but because Lord
Krishna liked it so much He tricked Lord Shiva into giving it up.  Although most of our group had arrived in Sri Vrindavan Dham, hardly any of them came to Badrinath.  The group for this day consisted mainly of devotees who were on parikrama with His Holiness Rompada Swami Maharaj.  6 Buses had set off to Sri Badrinath Dham at 6am.

Guru Maharaj had not travelled with us and while that was sad for us, it was better for His health.  Guru Maharaj travelled in a smaller vehicle which was faster and much more comfortable.  No doubt they were scheduled to arrive earlier than the rest of us and sure enough they got there at 7:30am whilst we got there at 10:25am.  Last year we travelled to the same place by bus but it took us much less time, so what happened this time?

The disciples of HH Rompada Swami Maharaj were very warm and accommodating and organised.  They told us we were their guests and they treated us as such with so much of love and care.  That was very inspiring to me and is something that we could all aspire to achieve on day.  The weather is quite chilled compared to Sri Mayapur Dham.  The morning atmosphere was peaceful and pleasant.  There were a group of children on the bus who were singing and playing musical instruments to sweetly which was so pleasing to the
soul.  From the bus we were observing the local ladies who were carrying stacks of pots on their heads without holding it and they walked so gracefully.  This made me remember how Lord Krishna used to trouble the Gopis and break their clay pots.  I was thinking that if Krishna were to trouble them these days, then He may have difficulty breaking their pots as they seem to have upgraded them from clay to steel.  Guru Maharaj keeps reminding the ladies that they must learn to carry pots like the gopis, to make uludvani sounds like the local ladies in India and to make cow dung patties like the gopis used to.  I was over-hearing the ladies behind me speaking about Guru Maharaj and singing His glories about how expert He is on parikramas and especially when narrating pastimes.  It was so pleasing to hear their appreciations of Guru Maharaj as even though they hardly ever see Him they know so much about Him.  I even saw those mystical blue cows that Guru Maharaj is always looking out for and I was thinking that this is a sign of auspiciousness and all was going on really well until we reached a point where one of the buses had no permit to enter past a certain pointiand theniit was austerity for the rest of the way!

We had to pull over and there was a huge discussion about whether we should actually go to Badrinath as it was still quite far away even though we had been travelling for about two hours already.  Many calls were made to reach Guru Maharaj and eventually when they did get through they were cut off as there was no proper network coverage in that mountainous Badrinath region. A decision had to be taken quickly and even though at some point it seemed we would turn back, we continued on to Badrinath.  The bus that had no
permit was left behind and all the devotees from that bus relocated to the other 5 buses.

Travelling seemed to take forever and we figured something was wrong when we heard the bus driver asking the locals were Badrinath was!  It is normally not a good idea to follow directions of the locals in India but he seemed confident they knew what they were saying.  The roads are extremely narrow and these roads are not tarred or paved.  We reached a point where the bus could just not go beyond and even a 50 point turn did not solve the situation.  If Guru Maharaj was here he would’ve made us get off the bus and walk the rest of the distance but we were wasting time trying to get these buses through.  Eventually they gave up and we did walk the rest of 2kms to reach Guru Maharaj.

The first sight of Guru Maharaj told me that He was very anxious about our late arrival.  He was leading kirtan with the few devotees who travelled with Him but in between He was enquiring as to the reason for our late arrival.  I heard Him ask the devotees “would it not have been faster if they just walked the rest of the way?”  That is Guru Maharaj.  He is very practical and does not like wasting time.  He tries to expose us to every drop of mercy in the most efficient manner.  He spent 3 hours just waiting for us.

Then very quickly we all took darshan at the temple and Guru Maharaj spoke about the significance of this place.  There were many simultaneous translations – Hindi, Bengali, Tamil and Russian.  I will not go into any
pastimes as they were exactly as I covered it in great detail last year and you can refer to those reports to refresh your memories.  Maharaj could understand that we were all tired from the long trip and He said that it was not easy to enter the dham and that only by some special transcendental mercy can one enter even if the price is paid by some inconvenience.  So He spoke along those lines to try and appease us.  The devotees had prepared breakfast and we took some before heading up the mountain.  We walked through the forest (where the Ganges once ran and on a higher platform it is still very much there) up to Lakshmana Jula, Gangotri, Yamunotri, Deva Sarovara and Haridwar.  These are the original places and all others aroung India are the expansions.

Guru Maharaj said that this is the most beautiful part of Vraja Mandala and that this day was dedicated to the Holy Name and we should do some serious japa.  He said that if we try our best to be good devotees then Krishna will open the door to His lotus feet and we may even get a chance to see Krishna just like Ribhumuni did.  He also said that we have to become more humble and always think more and more “who am I and what can I do?”  We must accept that Krishna is present in His name and that when we chant He is with me and I am with Him and then our lives will be perfect.

Our return trip was our test of tolerance as firstly we had to walk back to the buses, and then 1 hour into the trip the buses came to a standstill because the roads were too narrow and there was too much of traffic. This reminded me of Johannesburg but only here every mode of transport is using the same road.  We eventually figured out that the trucks carrying straw were overloaded and exceeded the roads restrictions in every way and we could not get past them.  There were many of those trucks and we were there for almost over an hour trying to get them to pull over and allow us to pass.  We reached Vrindavan very late only to hear that the next morning is the all important, all day Govardhan parikrama.

November 12th – Govardhana Parikrama

Barely having enough rest, we started out at mangal aarti.  The air felt extremely cool.  We started off by paying obeisances at Kusum Sarovara as usual.  Guru Maharaj explained that generally we do the parikrama with no shoes so as far as possible we should do like that.  If not, it was okay but those wearing shoes should keep to the back of the group to prevent the local devotees from thinking that foreigners are disrespectful to the Holy Dham.  We walked on with Guru Maharaj setting the pace.  He said that He was
going to take it easy and not walk too fast but He kept on going like a boeing.  I think that Guru Maharaj’s constant association with the airplanes around the world has made Him take on that quality of speed!  We stopped at all the usual pastime places around Govardhan Hill and I will only report on pastimes not covered during the last parikrama.

There was some debate on whether we were to observe ekadasi today or on the next day.  The Krishna Balarama Mandir was observing the fast on this day but Guru Maharaj said He would observe it the day after Govardhan parikrama. There was some explanation that due to different calendars the fast could be
observed on either of the days and Guru Maharaj was very merciful to us because Govardhan parikrama is quite strenuous and we needed all the energy we could get.  With that settled, we made our ritual stop at the Giriraj sweetshop and got our breakfast which would be taken much later that morning at the Nrshinga temple.  The sun did not peak as yet and it was quite dull. After we bought breakfast, to our great surprise it started to rain lightly.

When we stopped at Daan Ghati, Guru Maharaj said to us that the rain is good for us as it will keep us cool through to the end of the parikrama.  That right there was an indication that the rain was not going to call of the parikrama.  It was almost 11am when we reached the Nrshinga temple which was closed so we could not take breakfast there.  We did have breakfast at the Srinathji temple close-by.  I think that they allowed us there because of their fond relationship with Guru Maharaj.  Guru Maharaj knows many people and they all have so much of respect for Him.  Many offerings were made to Guru Maharaj’s Giriraj.  During this time devotees, after having obtained permission from Guru Maharaj, were selecting Govardhan sila’s to take back
with them for personal worship.  Guru Maharaj said to the devotees that they must take good care of Them.

As we left the Srinathji temple, just for the pleasure of Guru Maharaj, was a herd off blue cows comprising both young and older cows.  It was a wonderful sight and Guru Maharaj requested the devotees to video the scene which I am sure He will use in His forthcoming DVDs.  Guru Maharaj keeps on saying that those who see these cows receive special mercy as they are the mystical deer that are mentioned in the Caitanya Caritamrta.  Then we rolled in the dust of Kadambavan and Guru Maharaj showed us how.  With His
childlike enthusiasm He bathes Himself in the dust of Govardhan and makes sure that His face is well decorated with the dust.  Would you believe, He even asked for a mirror to make sure that there was enough dust on His face! The ground was less dusty than usual as the rain converted everything to mud but we managed to find a somewhat dry spot.  Our godsister Vraja Bhakti celebrated her appearance day and Guru Maharaj made her roll in the dust while we all watched.  How fortunate to spend one’s appearance day performing Govardhan parikrama!  After that there were not many more stops. We went through the town of Govardhan (we past by the place where the abhishek milk of Giriraj runs – this place cannot be missed because you can smell it) and then on to Uddhava Kund.  By the time we reached Uddhava Kund the rain was strong enough and we were drenched.  It was amazing how our attention was actually focussed on completing the parikrama rather than wondering if our clothes would get ruined or if we would get sick.  Maharaj spoke at this place about the pastime and His panda friend wanted some photos with Guru Maharaj.  Thereafter off we went through the town to Radha Kund (here again Guru Maharaj met an old panda friend and he enquired how his family was and what the names of his kids were), down to Shyamakund through to Kusum Sarovara.  The town was rather slippery and we had no shoes on so we had to walk more carefully.  Some devotees received extra special mercy because one wrong step landed them in the mud of Sri Vrindavan Dham. We were walking through liquids of all sorts and eventually at 16h00 we had Kusum Sarovara in sight again, the place we started off at 5:30am.  We offered obeisances at Kusum Sarovara to end the parikrama and Guru Maharaj congratulated everyone on their mildstone achievement saying that we will
yield benefits beyond our comprehension.  We were feeling really good about it until we saw that little Govinda dasi, a nine year old, had completed the entire parikrama with no shoes!  This was a wonderful experience and if we endeavour even in the difficult times, we will certainly get some mercy. Performing Govardhan parikrama in the rain, running behind Guru Maharaj was like surfing the waves of mercy in the holy dham.

November 13th Vrindavan Town

It was sooo nice to have the morning off after Govardhan parikrama.  Today we spent less time travelling and much more time with Guru Maharaj even though we only met during the course of the afternoon.  We all met at Guru Maharaj’s house and then went down to Kesi Ghat where the last rites ceremonies of a few departed souls were performed.  The program consisted of kirtan, full aarti ceremony to Yamuna Devi, brief class, submersion of ashes into Yamuna, offering of sweet scented rose petals and some more kirtan. Guru Maharaj spoke on BG3.27 and said a few words in respect of each devotee.  Guru Maharaj mentioned that HG Madan Mohan prabhu was the most senior disciple in this particular group of devotees and that he was very
dear to Guru Maharaj and in that way He is certain that prabhu is also very dear to the Lord.  There were about 6 other devotees whose last rites were performed and Guru Maharaj said something about each of them.  The families of these devotees very kindly arranged for a distribution of nicely packaged maha sweets to everyone present.

Thereafter we proceeded to a few temples around Vrindavan town.  First stop was the Radha Gokulananda temple.  We sat in the samadhi area just outside the temple where Maharaj related various pastimes of Narotama Das Thakur, Lokanatha Goswami and Srila Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakur.  Guru Maharaj mentioned that this is not merely a burial ground but all these great souls are present here in this sacred place at the lotus feet of Sri Sri Radha Gokulananda.  We also had darshan of the deity that has Lord Caitanya’s thumbprint impression on it from being personally massaged by Him while being bathed in His tears.  One has to ask to have special darshan of this deity as He is not on the altar.

We next went to Radha Gopinatha temple and then to Gopal Bhatta Goswami’s samadhi.  Here we saw the personal saligram silas of Gopal Bhatta Goswami and by Guru Maharaj’s mercy we had the actual danda of Gopal Bhatta Goswami put onto our heads.  Hopefully that extra special mercy will help us to improve our spiritual lives a little.

Next stop was the Radha Raman temple.  Guru Maharaj asked “Who can see Srimati Radharani?”  One devotee said he could and Guru Maharaj said that he had transcendental vision as here there is no actual deity of Srimati Radharani, just her clothes and crown can be seen.  If you did not know that socks are not allowed into this temple, you do now!  This rule even appears on their notice board at the front of the temple so watch out for it the next time you are there.  And that was a wrap of our Vrindavan town tour. It was short but sweet and those devotees who were on parikrama with Guru Maharaj last year would know that there are numerous other places to go to and even though 16 days were dedicated to Sri Vrindavan Dham itself, that
time was hardly sufficient to do justice to this supremely holy dham.  This year only 7 days are allocated to Sri Vrindavan Dham parikrama.  I am sure that is was not easy to decide where to go in these few days.  The tour of Vrindavan town was the easiest part of our parikrama thus far.

November 14th Yavat, Nandagrama

The 14th of November was dedicated to Yavat, Ashesavan and Ter Kadamba.  We met outside the Chitrakoot temple as usual and boarded our respective buses. At this stage we are travelling in two buses as that many devotees have taken the time off to come on parikrama which is very nice.  Before we set off, our driver and his helper had to help kick-start another bus by pushing it.  There were maybe 4 little Indians trying to push a big bus!  Guru Maharaj thought that this was so funny and He laughed heartily.  He then stuck His head outside the window and cheered them on with His new mantra “Chalo! Chalo! Radha Krishna bolo!”  It was so nice to see Guru Maharaj in this cheerful mood.

So off we went to Yavat dham, the most transcendentally mysterious place in the universe and going in the association of our beloved Guru Maharaj makes everything much more auspicious.  This is the place of Jatila, Kotila and Abhimanyu.  When we got off the bus Guru Maharaj said that if we survived Govardhan parikrama without shoes then this is so much easier and except for the town, there is nice soft sand.  Guru Maharaj left His shoes on the bus and some of us did also.  Guru Maharaj narrated the very humorous pastimes and I highly recommend that you read them again.  Guru Maharaj mentioned that Abhimanyu is not just a demoniac conditioned soul who is trying to take the position of Krishna but rather he is a special incarnation of Lord Krishna’s shadow.  Thereafter we had breakfast on the rooftop.  It was raining lightly by this time and Guru Maharaj said that those who wanted to go to the next place by bus was welcome to do so but the rest of us, despite the rain, were going to walk for the next 30 minutes.  For the times when we were not being poked by sharp stones, we were sliding down steep slopes that had slippery stones.  Guru Maharaj was leading the pack of us hungry souls eager to get some mercy and nothing seemed to disturb His consciousness, not the rain, not the sharp stones and not even the huge puddles of mud.  We practically swam through the mud all the way to Ter Kadamba.  From last year I could understand why Guru Maharaj took the trouble in the rain and He explained this when we arrived there.

Guru Maharaj said that Ter Kadamba was a very special and sacred place and that it is exactly halfway between Yavat and Nandagram.  Then Maharaj explained that the road we just walked on is the very same road on which Srimati Radharani’s lotus feet walked on to go to Nandagram to cook for Lord Krishna.  After knowing this, would it actually be sensible to miss out on the mercy?  Guru Maharaj narrated some very sweet pastimes here about Mother Yashoda and Krishna and Balarama.  It was funny!  Then Hrsikesh Maharaj, the pujari, joined in the fun and acted whilst Guru Maharaj narrated.  That pujari is actually getting quite good at this.  He does such a good job of taking care of that place.  There is clearly ample visible evidence of improvements being done.  He also takes very good care of all the visiting devotees and He takes extra special care of Guru Maharaj.  Then, on a more serious note Guru Maharaj spoke about Srila Rupa Goswami and how he sat under a tree and wrote Bhakti Rasamrita Sindu.  There is a painting of this in the temple.  This place is permanently sweet and is an ocean of bhakti as Srila Rupa Goswami came and made an investment for us by depositing bhakti here in abundance.  In keeping with the mood, Hrsikesh Maharaj tied Guru Maharaj’s head with a bandana and he looked just like a cowherd boy. Maharaj asked us if that bandana looked like it was meant to be there or if it looked silly.  He kept it on for a long while after.  Hrsikesh Maharaj said “He is not Maharaj now, He is Krishna.”  Guru Maharaj humbly replied “I am not Krishna.  I am Krishna das”.  We went and had a look at the  improvements and at the plants that Guru Maharaj had planted the previous year.  The garden has filled out nicely and there are eight cows there now with a very nicely tiled platform.  This is the sitting place of Krishna and Balarama when they herd cows.

From there we walked across to Ashesavan, the forest of the Lord of desire. This is that famous pastime of Lord Shiva who wanted to have darshan of Lord Krishna but was turned away by Mother Yashoda because of His appearance. Guru Maharaj narrated the pastime at the Asesha Kund.  We took a few drops of water on our heads but one person got a whole lot more mercy than they bargained for when they landed themselves in the kund with their full garb on!  Then we got onto the buses and off we went to the main temple in Nandagram.  Here Guru Maharaj is very familiar with one particular panda, Bankie Beharie and his family.  We had nice darshan at the temple and then we were taken on a quick Vraj Mandala parikrama from the rooftop.  We saw Pavan Sarovara, Moti Kund, Gandoka, Kokilavan, Mor Kund, Ter Kadamba, Aseshavan, Krsna Kund, the road which Akrura took Krishna out of Vrindavana (Guru Maharaj said that this must be the saddest road in the world), Uddava Kierie, Nanda Baitak, Hau Bilau and Yashoda Kund.  It was the most places to be seen in the shortest time and using the least energy as all these places can be seen from that roof.  Thank Krishna for small mercies.  Bankie Beharie panda then took us to his house and treated us all to some makan mishrie, hot rotis, butter, pickles and the all famous butter milk.  It was refreshing and exactly what the doctor ordered.

We then made our way down a super steep slippery slope toward Pavan Sarovara, the lake that purifies the heart.  Here Guru Maharaj narrated that very nice pastime of Nanda Maharaj wanting to take bath at Prayag.  He also mentioned Sri Vrindavan Dham is the most sacred of all holy places and that everything about Krishna Consciousness is the best.  Nearby is the bhajan kutir of Srila Sanatana Goswami.  This is where Srila Rupa Goswami brought the sweetrice (which was given personally by Srimati Radharani) to Sanatana Goswami on his vyasa puja and we had darshan on our way out.

We then went off to Vrinda Kund where lunch was being prepared for us.  Here we had time to take a bath if we wanted to before lunch.  Guru Maharaj spoke about Vrindadevi and described how She is responsible for the forest settings in Lord Krishna’s and Srimati Radharani’s pastimes.  He also spoke about Her green parrots and their roles in the daily pastimes of the Divine Couple.  Guru Maharaj said that Vrinda Kund is the heart of Vraja Mandala and that everything which happens, radiates out of this place.  Guru Maharaj referred to it as one of the yogapiths of Vraja Dham.  Guru Maharaj mentioned that if Vrindadevi thought that we were not suitable to enter into the holy dham, then we would not be able to come but if she does like us,
then we will not be able to leave.  We were fortunate enough to have been allowed to come to the holy dham but unfortunately all of us will be returning to our respective homes far, far away from Sri Vrindavan Dham.
The prasadam was very nice and thereafter we made our way back to Vrindavana.

November 15th Kadamba Khandi

On the 15th there was a japa retreat scheduled at Kadamba Kandi.  Romapada Maharaj’s group and our group went out on parikrama that day.  Guru Maharaj had travelled in a smaller vehicle.  It was a more pleasant drive and our first stop was Anjanoka, the place of residence of Induleka Devi.  A sweet kirtan was led by a female disciple of Romapada Maharaj.  Thereafter Guru Maharaj was asked to speak.  He thought we were sounding tired so He made us do some vaishnava exercise by raising our hands in the air and chanting Hare
Krishna very loudly.  Maharaj explained the hindi writing on the wall. Maharaj’s sanksrit and hindi is really good and it puts us all to shame when He converses with the locals.  I think many people were surprised when Maharaj started to read the hindi writing on the wall which actually was all the names of the Gopis together with their respective villages.  Maharaj went on to narrate the pastimes of this place and He mentioned that Srimati Radharani can go on preparing herself for Krishna indefinitely because Krishna appreciates and enjoys beauty.  Maharaj joked that He did not know what the world record preparation time for materialistic woman are!  But, Srimati Radharani spends so much of time and trouble just preparing herself for Krishna.  He said that our present bodies are the expressions of our desires of our previous lives.  All the gopis are expansions of Srimati Radharani and each of them have specific manifestation of Srimati
Radharani’s character.  The most senior gopi is Lalita, then Vishaka, Champakalata, Induleka, Tungavidya, Chitra, Sudevi and Rangadevi.  Sudevi and Rangadevi are twin sisters.  We then went over to Unchagoan and visited Chitra Vicitra, the rock which melted when Srimati Radharani’s veil fell on it.  The patterns from her veil can be clearly seen on this rock.  We also visited the Revati and Balaram temple before having breakfast at the Bhajan Kutir and Samadhi and Narayana Bhatta Goswami.  Here it was nice to see Guru Maharaj and Romapada Maharaj sitting cross-legged facing each other and having breakfast.  It was a very peaceful atmosphere and the prasadam was nice.

It was a long drive but eventually we reached the village of Sudevi, Sunira and we visited the temple high up on a cliff.  We had darshan and the pujari there was observing mauna vrata.  Have you ever tried to do this?  I have never, simply because I will never be able to keep it.  However, recently I have been thinking that I should try it some time.  We then walked all the way back to the bottom to start our 3km walk to Kadamba Kandi.

Kadamba Kandi is the largest surviving grove of Kadamba trees left in Vrindavana.  Here Guru Maharaj narrated that very funny pastime about Naga Babba and his jaat!  Guru Maharaj congratulated everyone for reaching this place because it is very difficult to get here and today it was particularly difficult because the road to get here was extremely muddy and slippery and it was a super long walk.  But Maharaj said that we have been all over the universe but it is very difficult to come to this very secret place. Maharaj said that walking or slipping or bouncing in the car or having muddy feet was a small price to pay for the special nectar that this place has to offer.  Here there is a Tamal tree and a Kadamba tree embracing each other
which are representations of Srimati Radharani and Lord Krishna respectively.  In Mayapur at the Chand Kazi’s samadhi there is a similar situation where a Neem tree and a Champak tree are embracing each other, representations of Lord Caitanya and Srimati Radharani.  At this place there is not much else other than Krishna, Vraja Mandala and a wonderful transcendental atmosphere so it was a perfect setting for chanting japa.  We chanted and made our way back to the buses.  Some wonderful devotees led a nice kirtan to keep us going during our long walk back.  This brought a much needed end to a long, long day.

November 16th Varsana

Varsana Dham has got to be one of the sweetest and most nectarean places in Sri Vrindavan Dham.  Every place has it’s own unique mood but Varsana is really so wonderful.  It is the place of Srimati Radharani, the  queen of Vrindavan.  Before going there, Guru Maharaj took us to Unchagaon, the place of Lalita Devi.  We were there yesterday but we had not had darshan at the temple of Lalita Devi so we went seeking blessings from Her.  We had to climb many, many stairs to get to this temple as it is situated quite high up.  Here we had darshan of a rock which was found during the excavation of Radha Kund and the forms of Radha and Krishna can be seen on this rock.  One has to nicely ask the pujari for this special mercy.  Then we went onto the rooftop and there was another quick mini Vraja Mandala parikrama from there. Many places can be seen from there like Deha Kund, the Radha Deha Behari temple, Sakhi Giri Parvat, Chitra Vicitra, the bhajan kutir and samadhi of Narayan Bhatta Goswami, Trivenikup, the Hills of Varsana, the Balarama and Revati temple (here Balarama is absorbed in thinking about Krishna therefore He is blackish like Krishna.  Also, the Ladoo Gopal deity on this altar is said to be the original deity that Narayan Bhatta Goswami used to carry everywhere with him).  Then Guru Maharaj spoke a few words about Sri Lalita Devi.  She is 27 days older than Srimati Radharani, she is gold skinned and she wears peacock coloured garments.  She embodies the vamya bhava, the bold and arrogant left wing mood of Srimati Radharani.  She chastises Srimati Radharani to not be too submissive and tells Krishna “go jump in the lake” to which Krishna replies “which lake?”.  Lalita devi is extremely protective over Srimati Radharani.    Sometimes Lalita devi with red eyes showers Krishna with a flood of chastising words.  Lalita Devi is very dedicated to Srimati Radharani and Lord Krishna and She worships not only Their feet, but also the perspiration on Their feet.  She is so beautiful that She rebukes
the splendour of the full moon.  She is so dedicated to Srimati Radharani that all others learn from her how to relate to Krishna.  She is the guru of all the gopis and Srimati Radharani accepts her as her authority.  It was nice to listening to the wonderful glories of Srimati Lalita Devi which is not often the case.

Shouting, screaming, pushing, harrasment for money was what we were cautioned to expect at Varsana Dham.  Here the pujaris are very persistent and Guru Maharaj said that they follow in the footsteps of the gopis.  We started the tour of Varsana at Gavavan, the forest of caves.  We climbed up and took breakfast on Vilas Ghar, the head of Lord Visnu.  The original julan yatra took place here.  It was high up and very peaceful, away from the crowds and monkeys.  Guru Maharaj chanted some japa here.  Guru Maharaj also enquired about some devotees who were sick and had not been on parikrama for a few days.  Actually, this time a lot more devotees were sick than previous years.  We then climbed down again and sat at the entrance of Sankarikor where Guru Maharaj narrated some nice pastimes.  We walked through Sankarikor and the local pandas were insisting that there was a compulsory tax for us to pay at this point.  We went through to Chiksoli gram where some enthusiastic local kids took the microphone and started to beautifully sing brijbasi tunes.  We all cheered them on and Guru Maharaj seemed so pleased with them.  Having been on parikrama a few times already, our group has learnt the art of dealing expertly with the children and local
residents in a way so as not to offend them, yet leave them happy without giving them what they demand for.  I have watched these devotees interact with the locals and they almost adopt these children as their own and treat the local residents with so much of love and affection.  We made our way around Varsana Dham which is saturated with transcendental pastimes.  We visited Radha Sarovara, Mor Kutir, Maan Ghar and Pili Pokor.  Eventually we made our way to the main temple.  On our way there we formed a human wall around Guru Maharaj to shield Him from the very enthusiastic pandas and children.  They harassed us all the way to the temple and the strategy was to enter on one end and have a quick darshan and make a speedy exit at the other end to avoid any confrontation.  It worked and we successfully made it through without much attention to ourselves.  The bonus was that some devotees managed to get some pictures in the main temple where cameras are strictly forbidden.  We should learn this art sometime because Guru Maharaj is always eager to receive good pictures for His dvds.  So it was very nice at Varsana Dham and we prayed for the mercy of Srimati Radharani without which we will be unable to serve Lord Krishna.

November 17th Radhakunda

The tour of Sri Radha Kund marked the last day of our 2009 parikrama.  We had a late start to our day as one bus arrived late and while we waited Guru Maharaj spoke to devotees, most of whom were not going on parikrama as they were returning home.  Our group was smaller but we still needed two buses. We waited at least 15 minutes and managed to feed a friendly cow during that time.  Eventually Sri Radha Kund Ki Jai!  It was a short 3km parikrama was it was packed with many wonderful places to visit.  I covered all of these
places in last years report and the parikrama ended by lunch time.  During the parikrama Guru Maharaj was very strict at some places when devotees failed to use their discretion in terms of exercising proper etiquette at these holy places.

Guru Maharaj, like a loving father took time off from everything else and adopted us for one month.  During this time He encouraged and chastised and lectured and guided us whilst at the same time allowing us to have an experience most sublime.  I am sure every devotee is fully charged up for the coming year to last us until the next parikrama.  Every devotee must go on parikrama with Guru Maharaj at some point because it is a life changing experience.  If we experience this in the proper mood we will reap benefits beyond our imagination.  We just knew that we started the parikrama a few days ago and now it is all over.  The famous saying goes something like time flies when you are having a good time.  We were having a really good time.
2010 parikrama ki jai!  Please try and make it for the next parikrama as it promises to be saturated with nectar.

Thank you to a few devotees including Saci Kumar Das who very nicely managed the Mayapur leg of the parikrama, Ananda Caitanya prabhu for his very expert translations every single day and not forgetting Syamananda prabhu without whom this parikrama would not have been possible.

Mostly thank you Gurudev (which is an understatement) for all your valuable time that You spend on us unworthy souls.  You constantly cast Your most mercifully glance on us and we are very fortunate to have Your most precious association.  Life devoid of Your divine presence is unimaginable at this stage.  Please bless us that we are able to absorb all that we have experienced and carry that with us and imbibe this wonderful mood of Vrindavana wherever we may go.  Even though we do not fully realise what being on parikrama means at this stage, we pray for realisation someday soon.

Your servant
Syamarani devi dasi

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