Dhanurdhara Swami January 26th, 2002
My pilgrimage tour group ended today. Just two months ago I wasn’t even sure anybody would come because of the world situation. A few people did cancel, but it was still my biggest group yet. By the time we began our Vrindaban parikrama nearly thirty visiting foreign pilgrims were with us. Even Satyaraja and Vrinda could join us at least for a few days. The fact that so many people came despite the world situation instilled me with a strong realization of how much Krishna wants these tours to continue, that these tours will continue to grow despite impediments, and that I should humbly continue as an instrument for this service.
When I first started the tours about seven years ago, the group was quite homogenous; probably over 90 percent of the devotees who came were young people from the straightedge scene living in temples. Paralleling the demographics of ISKCON, the devotees on this tour were not temple devotees; in fact, only two were. The group this year was exceptionally varied: from 19-year-old NYU student Arpit Puri to 67-year-old retired nurse Saroj Rede; from two Boston brahmacaris to professionals like Ed Kenaan, who runs an advertising company in New York City. Unexpectedly, even two nondevotees joined part of the tour by chance: Ted, the guitarist for Saves The Day, came with Steve Reddy, and Sherri Lee, a doctor from New York, was visiting Kula Pradip, her brother.
I loved every minute of the tour, but it was more taxing than in previous years because many of the devotees were new and I was basically the only senior Vaishnava on the tour. I thus managed the tour, gave every class, and even led 90 percent of the kirtans. It wasn’ planned that way. Initially, another sannyasi was to accompany the tour and other devotees were also coming to help, but the uncertainty caused by recent world problems threw everyone’s plans topsy-turvy. I’m just happy that when everyone’s life was tossed in the air, so many devotees still landed in Sridham Mayapur. Next year, I will bring a tour manager and I will ensure that a few more senior devotees join us. Although the tour still went exceptionally well, I unfortunately just didn’t have the time or energy to keep a daily journal.
Although it is far better to write a journal and remember one’s realizations on the day of their occurrence, I will attempt to recall at least tidbits of nectar starting with my personal pilgrimage to Puri. I pray my offering will not be stale and tasteless.