Simantadvipa, Navadvipa By the end

January 16th, 2001

Simantadvipa, Navadvipa

By the end of the day I am totally exhausted from the full day of parikrama, kirtan, and katha, but I feel enlivened. This type of exhaustion is good for Krishna
consciousness, as it does not leave one with time for anything but Krishna, and it definitely makes my sleep totally devotional service. I don?t know, however, how I will write this journal as I can hardly lift my hands from the keyboard and my brain is too fatigued to think. I?m that worn out. I?ll just scribble a few notes and finish later.

When people arrive from the West, they often are not steadily practicing Krishna consciousness, filled with anxiety, and have little taste for chanting and hearing. The guide may initially have to carry the group by his own enthusiasm until, by the mercy of the dhama, the devotees become peaceful and thus more spontaneous in their attraction for chanting. It sometimes can become an austerity. This year, however, the devotees are enthusiastic from the very beginning of the parikram. It is surely the mercy of Sri Nabadvipa-dhama.

Today also we begin our parikram at the Yoga-Pitha. Again, full absorption in the holy name and unbounded enthusiasm with the sense we can chant forever. I only stop the kirtan to explain a little about the place we have visited and because there are many other places to visit today. Following the path of Sri Caitanaya Mahaprabhu we again walk to Srivas Anga, and then a half-kilometer to the Caitanya Gaudiya-Math, which marks the forest of Vraja in Mayapur. There we take darshan of Radha and Shyama kundas, Govardhana Hill, and the samadhis of Srila Gaura Kishor das Babaji and Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur. Each holy place has a distinct personality and mood that can be easily detected by an experienced visitor. For those of us who have visited Vrindaban before, it?s uncanny how much the Caitanya Gaudiya-Math, established personally by Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvat Thakur, mirrors the mood of Vraja.

We proceed another two kilometers down the road to the island of Simantadvipa. According to the Nabadvipa-dhama Mahatmya, a very long time ago, and for the only time in history, Lord Jagannatha left Jagannatha Puri for the purpose of seeing Sridham Mayapur?all on the pretext of a great demon that had attacked His abode. Lord Jagannatha is still being worshiped at Simantadvipa in a beautiful open-air temple in heavenly tropical surroundings that is now well managed by the ISKCON Mayapur?s pujari department. Like Jagannatha Puri-dhama, Lord Jagannatha here is offered chapan bhoga?56 items at one offering. Unlike Puri, however, there are no restrictions in entering the temple. We have audience of Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra and then take the remnants of Lord Jagannatha?s noon chapan bhoga. I overhear comments from several members of our party that the feast was by far the best they ever tasted.

Born and bred, anxiety-filled, New Yorker Deva Dhrita, from the Lower East Side, comments in unbounded appreciation at every place we visit?in a New York accent that even makes my Brooklyn brogue sound like a British School teacher??It ain?t normal!?

As Deva Dhrta has been awe struck with appreciation at every place we?ve visited, it?s obvious that by this unusual phrase he is not criticizing the places we?ve visited, but praising them. I thus ask him, ?Why do you keep on saying at each place that ?It aint normal!??

He replies with typical city logic that somehow twists to a crystal clear point. ?It aint normal! Da world is jus sufferin. It ain?t normal!?

It is our second day and I conclude that without Nabadvipa parikrama it is difficult to understand the concept of mercy. Sure, there is a sincere effort by our pilgrim group to serve the dhama by kirtan, but the reciprocation is way beyond our effort and expectations. By the practice of Krishna consciousness something may come by a sustained effort, but when our effort wanes, the fruit of our practice usually also soon fades, at least externally. Here, however, after our initial effort on parikram the flow of mercy seems to hover over us like a cloud, a companion of shade, that comforts us from the misery of Kali Yuga, follows us throughout the day and even welcomes us the next morning. The mood of Nabadvipa is magnanimity. We can feel it. Once accessed by nama-kirtan it almost seems to pour like a floodgate without much further exertion.

Is this just by own bubbling enthusiasm and insane optimism? I don?t think so. The others also share my sentiments, although they are generally the more pessimistic types, the hard to impress city folk from the West.

Are the residents here experiencing what we, as pilgrims, are? I can?t say, but there is something to the common phrase that ?familiarity breeds contempt.? We have an advantage. We are here for a short time, without any other business then chanting and hearing, and for most of us, too new and in awe to create offense. Lord Caitanya instructs us that by humility one gains taste for the holy name and is able to chant incessantly. New pilgrims can be at advantage as the unknown creates a mood of humble dependence and thus creates receptivity for genuine sentiments of devotion.

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