Dear Devotees and Friends,
Please accept my best wishes. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
As you have no doubt noticed for quite some time I have not been making any reports on my traveling and my visits to different countries and temples. This is been because I have been too busy with so many activities like being Chairman of the GBC body.
But I thought that now I could perhaps begin again as now I have someone to assist me with my email and that really helps tremendously. I actually forget exactly when I left off with the messages, but let me go back to November last year when I made a very amazing trip with a group of devotees to an area that I’ve never been to.
We went with a group of about seventy devotees from different countries: to Rishikesh and then up to the Himalayas, to Badrinath. Rishikesh was very nice. It was early November so the weather was still good although it was a little cool in the evenings and early mornings. We bathed in the Ganges there and did some harinama.
Even there are boats there for tourists which go up and down the Ganges to different places and one of the boat owners was so impressed by our harinama that he took our whole group on his boat up and down the Ganges beneath one of the main bridges known as Lakshman Jula. We had harinama in the boat with loud speakers so all the people on the bridge and on the banks were able to hear the chanting of Holy names and it was really very nice.
Then one evening we went down to the main temple where they perform Ganga puja every night. They offer arati to the Ganges. So our whole group went down with harinama and watched as the ceremony took place. What was particularly nice was that the main swami made an announcement to everyone that we were present and thanked us for participating. So it was really quite nice.
Then we went up to Jhoshimath, a town just before Badrinath from Rishikesh. It was the most amazing drive I have ever been on. We were on the road for ten hours and there was not a straight piece of road for more than about fifty or sixty meters the whole way. Everything was just twisting and turning and bumping and it was really quite an experience.
The Himalayas are quite incredible. We’ve all seen mountains and mountain passes etc. But until you have seen the Himalayas you’ve really have not seen very much at all. It was undoubtly the most picturesque area I have ever been in. These amazing massive mountains with the beautiful Alakananda, Ganges following through. What an amazing experience.
There were a couple of times where on the narrow roads passing through the mountains I looked out the window and could not see anything at all down for at least a thousand meters.
Then one of the days we drove up to Badrinath itself to have darshan of the main Deity. It is one of the old classic pilgrimage places of India and it is up at three thousand meters above sea level. From it one can see various mountains such as Mt Nandi, which is the highest mountain in India and is something like seven thousand meters.
Usually at Badrinath there are many, many people, but we were there in November and there was hardly anyone at all. It closes when the snow starts, usually in the middle of November, and then only opens again in April or May. So we were there just some days before it closed and we were able to go and have very nice darshan of Deities. Normally because there are thousands and thousands of people there, there is a lot of pushing and shoving, but we were able to stand there in front of the Deities for several minutes or even practically as long as we liked and it was wonderful to have that darshan.
From there we went to the village known as Mana which is important for a number of reasons. One is that this is where Srila Vyasadeva and Ganesh compiled the Vedic literature. So there is a cave of Ganesh and then there is another cave near it of Srila Vyasadeva. Vyasadeva was reciting the Vedic literatures and Ganesh told him “yes, I will write everything down with my four hands but if you stop anytime then I will stop writing and I won’t start again, so please keep going”.
Srila Vyasadeva said: “no problem, I will do that, but you must only write down what you’ve understood”. Ganesh agreed to that. So when Srila Vyasadeva wanted to take a break to have a rest or anything else, he would speak some esoteric point which was very difficult to understand and Ganesh would be stumped and would have to stop and think about it for some time before he could understand it, and then continue with the writing. So that was very interesting to see.
Then we followed the road of the Pandavas to the source of the Sarasvati river. It was a really amazing scene with this river pouring out from amongst the rocks. The path then goes on into the Himalayas and is known as the path of the Pandava’s. It is described in Mahabharata and in Srimad Bhagavatam. They simply walked into the Himalayas and one by one they left their bodies in that sacred area.
On the whole it was a very interesting experience and something which really gave an interesting perspective on our vaishnava culture.
From there I went back to South Africa and did various programs there and then visited Mauritius and then Mayapur.
After some days I will give a little report about what happened in Mayapur, and then like this over the next few weeks we will gradually catch up with short reports about the main things that have been happening until the present moment.
So for the time being please accept my apologies for not keeping you informed for such a long time and please keep chanting your rounds and practice in Krishna Consciousness very seriously. There is nothing like Krishna Consciousness in all the three worlds, and we are so fortunate to have access to it. The main things for us are to follow the instructions of Srila Prabhupada very carefully, particularly by getting up early in the morning, chanting our rounds nicely with good attention, following the regulative principals properly, reading Srila Prabhupada’s books and engaging in as much devotional service as we can.
If we do like this then we can be successful in Krishna Consciousness and go back to the Godhead at the end of this lifetime and of course for the time being we will be very happy in Krishna Consciousness.
Hoping this meets you well.
Bhakti Caitanya Swami.