I just left Christchurch, New Zealand on a long journey back to Vrindavan; through Sydney, Dubai and Delhi. Myself and Bada Haridas will rest for a few days in Vraja and then travel on to Mayapura. On March 15, we fly to Kathmandu and walk up to the Tibetan plateau to place the ashes of my dear godrother, Bimal Prasad, in the sacred Kali Gandhaki river. It was his final request to me. The area is sacred to all Gaudiya Vaisnavas because 500 years ago Lord Caitanya ordered Gopal Bhatta Goswami in a dream to, “Go to the Kali Gandhaki and find Sri Hari.” He was referring to the sacred salagrama-sila. During that historic visit Gopal Bhatta found a salagrama-sila that later manifested as the beautiful deity of Radha Raman.
The first thing I did today was walk around Vrindavan. It was so nice to see again the people and places that have become familiar to me over the years. Though I often go on parikrama it always feels like the ‘first time,’ due to Vrindavan’s being a transcendental abode. I took along my trusty camera to share the glories of Vrindavan with all of you!
“Even if I have the opportunity to bath in the ocean of pure love of Krsna, and even if I have the pure devotees of the infallible Supreme Personality of Godhead as my associates, I will not consent to live for even for a single moment in any sacred place other than Vrajabhumi. Even if the residents of Vraja appear to be ordinary, and even if they fill my ears with useless gossip, I pray that I may remain amongst them, eternally residing here in Vraja.” [ Srila Raghunatha dasa Goswami ]
The Laddu Mar festival takes place a day before the famous Holi festival at Varsana. The residents of Varsana have great fun throwing laddu sweets at each other from balconies, rooftops and inside the temples. Unknown to us, they also begin throwing coloured dyes and liquids in preparation for Holi. Thus while attending the Laddu Mar festival we unexpectedly met face to face with a variety of blue, green, yellow and red powders!
Pictured here is the Temple of the Vedic Planatarium, under construction. Before entering Sridham Mayapura we visited the sacred home of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, from where he had a vision of a magnificent temple appearing one day in the future just across the Jalangi river. By Srila Prabhupada’s strong desire that temple is now beginning to manifest as the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium. We also visited Nrsimha-pali, where Lord Nrsimha took bath on His way back to Vaikuntha, after killing the demon Hiranyakasipu. Purified of heart and in a mood of humility we finally arrived in ISKCON’s Mayapura Candrodaya Mandir. Good to be home again!
We spent the first day of our travels in Nepal in Kathmandu in order to acclimatize for the higher altitudes we’ll reach near the Tibetan plateau later this week. We didn’t waste a moment though, for within a couple of hours we were out on harinam samkirtan with the local ISKCON devotees, chanting and dancing through the colorful streets of Nepal’s capitol. Like everywhere we go, people chanted and danced alongside us. We also visited several old temples. In one temple we were invited to do arotika to the ancient deities. The whole afternoon I was thinking of my dear friend Bimal Prasada das and my sacred duty to place his ashes in the Kali Gandhaki river. In our younger days we walked the same streets and visited the same temples. I miss him dearly. [ Photography by Ananta Vrindavan dasa ]