Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Vrindavan Virus

I arrive just as the pujari blows the conch to end Sayana Arati (late evening). Tulasi turns to smile with me as we take darshan of our beautiful Radhe-Shyam. After some moments of quiet, she says, "My Guru Maharaj [Bhakti Bhringa Govinda Swami] is coming in on Monday, Bhakti. "

A pang of regret twinges through me. "I'm leaving on Monday, Tulasi," I reply.

"Ah yes, I remember... you couldn't stay even one more day?"

I laugh softly. "My flight leaves at 7am sharp... I will miss him, Tulasi. I truly will. I had the opportunity to play some bhajans with him in Panihati, and I was struck by his sweet, serene mood."

Tulasi sighs, smiling.

In the pause, my mind turns to Radhanath Swami. I say slowly, "You know, I'll be missing my own guru maharaj by a matter of days, too. The next time I see him it will have been... " I take a deep breath. "... two years."

"Well, this summer was the first time I saw my guru maharaj in five years," she says.

"Yeah, but you were saying you were neighbors for a while," I counter saucily.

Tulasi grins. "Yes, for twelve years, in Vrindavan. If he wanted something, sometimes he would call over from his house. 'Hey, Tulasi, do you have any butter?'"

We both chuckle. "I want to go back," Tulasi says softly. We fall quiet again, gazing at Radhe Shyam. "You know what my guru maharaj says is the most dangerous virus?" Tulasi asks as the pujari rings the bell to draw the curtains closed.

"What is that?"

"The Vrindavan Virus. Once you get it, you have it for the rest of your life; it consumes your entire life to return to Vrindavan."

I laugh at B.B. Govinda Maharaj's wit and offer my obeisance to Radhe-Shyam. I say to Tulasi, "Oh, one day I hope to get the Vrindavan Virus," I say wistfully.

She looks at me. "You already have it."

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