Monday Morning Greetings 2021 #43 – Home at Last!

October 25th, 2021

Home at Last![1]

October 6, 2000

I left the arrival gate only to be greeted by a mob of drivers on either side of the exit pathway waving a myriad of signs searching for their pick-up. I wasn’t sure if the message announcing my arrival had reached Vrindavan. I searched for my name. What a relief to spot the smiling face of Gopal, our Brijabasi driver!

All my arrivals into Vrindavan are similar: the feeling of unworthiness, the grime of my long journey representing the contamination of a prolonged stay in America, the instant relief of a yamunā-snāna (bath), and the happiness of seeing my old Brijabasi friends.

As I was returning from the Yamunā, Dadu, the old ISKCON mailman, passed me in a rikshaw, but he didn’t see me. He was wearing a yellow marigold garland from the temple Deities wrapped twice around his head like a crown, a sort of transcendental Statue of Liberty. I see many people in America trying to standout by what they wear, but mostly it’s superficial, just based on the latest fashion. Dadu, however, seems truly himself. What he wears thus reflects his inner self, not Madison Avenue.[2]

The water at Keśī 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 that shimmering golden pathway, I reflected on the unparalleled natural beauty of Vraja. After chanting my gāyatrī I waded like a child in her soothing waters.

After five minutes, Ramesh, the rickshaw driver who took me to Keśī 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 I tried to stay cool, but really couldn’t. 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 sādhu 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 Yamunā when I arrived, were also amused, their cunning smiles and laughter representing the anxiety and carefree hearts of young, simple, Brijabasi children. Home at last!



[1] I arrived in Vrindavan last Wednesday. I thought it most practical and relevant to just post the first journal entry I ever wrote, which was about entering Vrindavan. Of note is that Gopal, my Brijabasi driver, was there this year again to pick me up, as has been the custom for almost forty years. I left Vrindavan last year on March 6, 2020, so this was the longest I have been out of Vrindavan since I arrived in May of 1976. My arrival a few days ago thus marks the forty-seventh year that I have had the fortune of touching this holy land. I love every minute of it. I suppose future entries will reflect that. As the above post was written twenty years ago, and hopefully my writing has improved, I took the liberty to slightly re-write it.

[2] A street in New York City that was the center of the advertising and public relations industries that has become a euphemism for their attitudes, methods, practices.


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