Vrindaban I entered a myriad

October 6th, 2000


I entered a myriad of signs lining the pathway held by various drivers searching for their pick-up. I wasn’t sure if the message announcing my arrival had reached Gokula Taruni, so I was also searching in return for my name. What a relief to spot the smiling face of Gopal, our brijabasi driver!

D?j? vu all over again. All of my entries into Vrindaban are the same. The feeling of unworthiness, the grime of my long journey representing the contamination of a prolonged stay in America, the instant relief of a yamuna-snana (bath), and the happiness of seeing my old brijabasi friends.

As I was returning from the Yamuna, Dadu, the old ISKCON mailman, passed me in a rikshaw but didn’t see me. He was wearing a yellow marigold garland wrapped twice around his around his head like a crown, a sort of transcendental statue of liberty. I see many people in America trying to be unique, but it’s just a fashion. Dadu is legitimately himself. Whatever he manifests externally mostly reflects his soul?not Madison Avenue, not any so-called scene.

The water at Kesi-ghat was deep and flowing swiftly. It was five o’clock and the sun was beginning to set in the west, sending a reflection of yellow light through its waters like a pathway cutting diagonally to the base of the ghat where I was sitting. I entered carefully into her waters and, facing the simmering golden pathway, I reflected on the unparalleled natural beauty of Vraja. After chanting my gayatri I waded like a child in her soothing waters. Home at last!

After five minutes, Ramesh, the driver who took me to Kesi-ghat, calmly pointed twenty feet to my left to the last step of the ghat. A large snake sat there with a fish in its mouth. I don’t know how to describe my reaction other than to say that I calmly panicked. Quickly placing my hands two feet above me on the steps I swiftly kicked my right foot up onto the first step of the ghat and vaulted myself out of the water or, I should say, tried to vault myself out of the water. I floundered and fell back in. I finally made it out and quickly moved up a few steps to where I had placed my things. As I looked to my right, about ten feet on the other side of the snake, I saw a sadhu calmly washing his lota. He was smiling and gesturing to me. He was laughing and flapping his right hand, which obviously represented to him my panic in getting out of the water. He laughed and laughed.

The brijabasi childen, who were the only other people there and who had been sporting blissfully in the Yamuna when I arrived, were also amused, their cunning smiles and laughter representing the anxiety and carefree hearts of young, simple, brijabasi children.

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