Standing blissfully in front of the beautiful Panca Tattva deities, I expressed to Their Lordships, my desire to share some of the nectar I have been experiencing day after day at this very holy place: Mayapur dhama. To be here is so nice, unique and ecstatic! I prayed how I'd like to write, perhaps thus inspire others to come and visit Mayapur, or else, at the very least, motivate more devotees and guests to develop a desire to do so thereby get a taste, even if just one drop, of this great ocean of Krsna consciousness that is so readily available right here at the holy dhama.
All this mercy is possible, dear Lord Caitanya, by your kindness and the mercy of your eternal devotees! Praying in this way, I left the temple ground and went back to my room across the Gurukula area, in the building named the "Youth Forum". Just as I sat on my bed, someone knocked on my door; it was Vrndavana Lila, the wife of Padma Locana Prabhu, a very early disciple of Srila Prabhupada, she immediately said: "my husband and I are taking care of the Mayapur Kathamrita newsletter, could you please write an article about your experiences during your visit here in Mayapur?" I said to her, "yes, for sure," and then thought, my dear Lord, I was just praying in that spirit of wanting to share my wonderful experiences here and you are reciprocating almost instantly, fulfilling this very desire.
Writing I hope will help inspire everyone to participate even more in Krsna consciousness, myself included, motivating us further to come and be part in this great Mayapur festival. It is important to remember that Srila Prabhupada wanted the devotees to gather together once a year in Mayapur and in this way renew their enthusiasm to practice and propagate Krsna consciousness. Interestingly, this incident is but one of the many amazing experiences that I repeatedly went through while in Mayapur. I would sometimes think of a particular subject matter, a question, even about a devotee and the ans wer I was looking for would get responded to, shortly after by the very next Vaisnava I'd meet, or else the devotee I was thinking of, would just walk right by, in the area. In fact this happened many times in the midst of thousands of visitors! That just blew my mind again and again- prayers, wishes, hopes would just manifest into reality at my very next encounter! This request to write about my visit here is just one example.
However, that is only a portion of the many wonderful experiences I relished at the holy dhama. The fantastic "Mayapur Institute for Higher Education" project was an unlimited source of inspiration that I can't wait to sh are with the all the interested devotees, especially within our Nama Hatta gatherings. As indicated in the M.I.H.E's mission statement, the various courses I took not only helped me develop a deeper taste for studying Sri la Prabhupada 's books but also gave me an opportunity to associate lovingly with many wonderful Vaisnavas and Vaisnavis. I feel I met eternal friends who helped me deepen whatever little realizations I have within the Kr sna consciousness philosophy. It definitely increased the sense of debt I feel I owe to my Lord and master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada for his Matchless Gift of Krsna consciousness. T
his Mayapur project is an unbelievable manifestation of Srila Prabhupada's divine vision, displaying itself in such majestic splendor, that when I picture Srila Prabhupada coming to America on the Jaladuta cargo ship, wi th just about 7 dollars at the ripe old age of 65, with such incredible determination to train and motivate his disciples to spread Krsna consciousness thus making ISKCON Mayapur transform from just a vision into a realit y, I can't help but feel tears coming to my eyes. For example, I've been looking at the Mayapur project as it is developing at this time, witnessing Christian nuns lining up with their students in order to visit the Gurukula grounds and beautiful gardens, and then, remem bering Srila Prabhupada's early endeavors, practically alone, without anything but his firm faith in the words of his Guru Maharaja; as this vision comes to my mind while looking at the Mayapur festivities, I truly think, how can this project be called anything else but a wonderful success?: Dear Prabhupada, what a perfect example you showed us all! If we could just always remember your tireless endeavor, your gift of love of Godhead offered to us so expertly, how much easier it would be for us all to coopera te lovingly amongst each others,. keeping this most important instruction in mind, as well as your often quoted statements : Please take this Krsna consciousness seriously and by chanting Hare Krsna your life will be sublime!.
Whether I was attending the class on Vaisnava heritage, Tattva sandarbha, nectar of devotion, astrology, communication, Braja lila, bhakti vrksa, yoga, writing for BTG, counseling, just to name some of them, I have to exp ress how much I appreciated each and every one of these courses, thanking all those who made it possible from the very bottom of my heart. Now speaking of education, my heart goes out to the wonderful team directing the Mayapur Gurukula project. They are expertly and lovingly educating children whether teenagers or younger students with both the essentials o f modern education as well as good spiritual training based on the principles of plain living and high thinking as our Srila Prabhupada so much wanted to establish. Yes, indeed, these boys are trained in very simple livin g- sleeping in straw huts and bathing from cold well water pump- but they are learning about the real nectar of Krsna consciousness.
Their academic curiculum has been approved by being marked through the Cambridge university high school diploma entrance level; this is proof of their high quality teaching standard. Meeting with all the teachers and inte rmingling with them for almost two months gave me ample opportunities to observe the Gurukula project, and to honestly conclude that my decision to entrust them with my 17 years old son, Gaura Sundara dasa for the past tw o years was a good move that I can truthfully feel happy about. Actually, Gaura Sundara, told me of his great appreciation at being in the Gurukula. For example having taken the Caitanya lila course from Tara Prabhu, one of his teachers, and then going with him and his ashram to Jagan nath Puri to see where those lilas of Lord Caitanya and his associates took place, my son's exact words regarding his trip to Jaganath Puri were: "Mata, it was just ecstatic!!!" As for the quality of their daily Gurukula prasadam, it was even better than I can provide at home; I know, because I ate with them quite often. They even have a feast every Monday! Talking of prasadam, on a side note, one does not know what a feast is until experiencing a feast at ISKCON Mayapur. Many of us repeatedly made that comment while honoring prasadam at the holy dhama.
To top it all though, being educated at the holy dhama, has practically speaking no parallel on earth. Mayapur is so great! One of my favorite times was also attending the mangal arotika ceremony. What a divine atmosphere! Standing in front of beautiful Sri Sri Radha Madhava and the eight loving sakhis, dancing blissfully through a soft, yet ecstatic kirtan along with hundreds of devotees: what a special experience! One other aspect of the kirtan I particularly appreciated, was that, in spite of the large number of devotees attending mangal arotika, only two or three pairs of kartals were used and one or two mridangas, confirming tha t louder does not necessarily mean better, especially so during the special "Mangal arotika hour" atmosphere. I also particularly remember feeling inspired by the expertise of the various kirtan leaders. Their skills can definitely make a difference in our ability to become absorbed in meditation on the holy name. Leading kirtan is a spiritual art, not an ego show. One able to master this art and simultaneously keep a humble attitude is just a great combination. Being in Mayapur is an excellent opportunity to be fully absorbed in chanting, studying, Ganga bathing, parikrama, offering various services from morning to night.
As it is stated in a great new book named Gauradesa: in M ayapur, even sleeping is accepted as paying obeisances; what a privilege it is to be there! Another great aspect is looking around at the hundreds of devotee pilgrims; it helps to remember that being engaged in devotional service, wearing tilaka and devotional clothes, in other words, just being a devotee, is th e norm, the real thing to be doing, not the exception as often experienced in the western world.. Nothing really beats the nectar of true Krsna consciousness. Of course, we all get tested: mosquitoes do bite, it can be quite cold early in January and February mornings, specially when you are about to enter a cold show er! It reminded me of my early days in the movement, when I use to preach and link "cold showers" as one of our many regulative principles. Remembering those old days helped me get through these early cold showers while i n Mayapur with a little bit more of a smile. Yes, I agree, germs do spread around and we get colds and flues making it harder to appreciate where we actually are. Familiarity does breed contempt too, and we forget to make the appropriate required effort.
All these tests are there to help us realize how much we truly are, Krsna conscious. Isn't it easy to be happy in Krsna consciousness when everything runs smoothly? But how much do we really praise and thank the Lord when we are put under the test, in the midst of troubles and adversity, oppositions and o bstacles? Let us not forget that the time of death is the ultimate test when blaming others will not be of any help, whatsoever. Hopefully the various lessons Krsna wants us to learn in this lifetime are gradually being learned, an d we end up remembering that our ultimate medicine is to drink through our ears the nectar that comes directly from the lips of Krsna's pure devotees, this along with chanting Hare Krsna with devotion and a sincere, humbl e heart. I would like to end this article by thanking the multitude of devotees with whom I shared Krsna consciousness while in Mayapur, those with whom I developed friendships, and especially, those devotees who showed me their l ove and care around the time when I suffered some crises of epileptic seizures. Thank you, all of you. It meant a lot to me!!!
There is a saying that I like to quote and it goes as follows: People don't care how much you know, they know, however, how much you care! Let 's put it this way, isn't it wonderful when someone has spiritual knowledge and is simultaneously showing lovingly that he or she cares? Originally I was going to list all the wonderful devotees that I am referring to in this article but then I am running the risk of forgetting somebody and then making offenses. I certainly don't want to take this chance s o please, again and again, all of you accept my prostrated obeisances and bless me with the opportunity to offer some valuable service at the lotus feet of our divine lord and master, Srila Prabhupada, as well as to all o f his sincere followers. God knows I met a multitude of those sincere devotees who have dedicated their hearts and souls to this divine mission. I pray for their blessings in order to also become sincere myself. In conclusion, I feel that this year "2000 Mayapur festival" was nothing short of a total success and I will put forth everything in my power to encourage everyone I meet to participate in the upcoming: 2001 Mayapur festi val and M.I.H.E educational courses....