October 30-November 5, 2003 – Karttika

November 5th, 2003


Surviving Karttika

Karttika can be quite intense in Vrndavana, especially after Govardhana-puja. The sheer number of pilgrims alone is a distraction to the solitary life of chanting because the multitude of visiting devotees naturally creates a social environment?the antithesis of what I need to remain focused. I feel protected in the Bhaktivedanta Sadhana Asrama.

Varsana Impressions

Bhurijana Prabhu asked Radha Govinda Swami how he prepares for his Bhagavatam kathas.

?I don?t,? Maharaja replied. ?I just relish.?

Bhurijana appreciated his answer. To understand and communicate spiritual truths, one must live and taste them.

Similarly, to understand the blessed truth of Srimati Radharani it helps to appropriately visit Varsana?especially the secluded garhavan, the sacred forest she personally planted at the foot of Man Kutir.

We start our pilgrimage with the Varsana parikrama, a short walk on soft sands and simple paths through her small village, seemingly protected from the apparent invasion of modern life. My thoughts while walking: Because Srimati Radharani is the embodiment of compassion, her village still embodies simplicity and sweetness by Her mercy.


In the same way that one reveals oneself to another according to the intimacy of their relationship, Krishna manifests His inner-self to His devotees according their closeness with Him. Govardhana provides the most secluded and stunning setting to facilitate the most confidential and loving exchanges between the Lord and His devotees. It is the place where God can be most Himself and is therefore His topmost residence.

??And superior to the forest of Vrndavana is Govardhana Hill, for it was raised by the divine hand of Sri Krishna and was the site of His various loving pastimes?.?

Srila Prabhupada?s Disappearance Festival

I joined Kesava Bharati Goswami and Gopiparanadhana Prabhu for an intimate observance at ISKCON Govardhana. I made the point that, normally, anyone residing in Vrndavana should almost feel guilty to honor the disappearance festival for Srila Prabhupada at any other place than the place of his sacred samadhi?except when one honors that sacred day at Govardhana. I explained this further.

One?s innermost desires often become revealed when facing death. I was in the room when Srila Prabhupada startled his disciples by ordering us to make arrangements for all the devotees to accompany him to Govardhana by padayatra. His doctor, however, warned us that, for Srila Prabhupada, undergoing such an arduous journey in his condition was tantamount to suicide. It consequently never took place. We can be certain, however, that Srila Prabhupada?s last and deepest desire was fulfilled and that he eternally resides in Govardhana, for Krishna is bound by the wishes of those with pure love for Him. I thus concluded that although Srila Prabhupada left this world in Vrndavana, it is just as significant to honor his disappearance day at Govardhana.

Akincana Krishna dasa went to Vrndavana for the festival and gave me a summary of some of the offerings there. Here are two that struck me:

Guru Kripa Prabhu told a story about how Srila Prabhupada called and challenged him by asking, ?Why aren?t you a paramahamsa?!?

When Bhurijana Prabhu spoke, he referred to Guru Kripa?s offering and sincerely lamented how much he missed Srila Prabhupada?s pressure in his life to become a paramahamsa, to push him forward in his spiritual life.

Jayadvaita Swami spoke about how everything is in Srila Prabhupada?s books and that no matter how much you learn from them, they will always be ahead of you?just like no matter how much Mother Yasoda tied Krishna with rope, she was always two inches too short.

The feast there to honor Srila Prabhupada was especially wonderful. ISKCON fed nearly 5,000 of its members. I was told by many people that the Chowpatty brahmacaris did such an expert job of organizing and serving the feast that all the devotees felt as if they were among just a few being hosted. How wonderful!

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