Monday, December 29, 2008

An Ode to India

The last day of my World Tour, I hosted a going-away party at Chowpatty Govinda's - a good excuse to amass cool people in one place. A quite eclectic group, I must say: an African gurukuli, Mumbai natives, first-time-in-India American college students, seasoned bhaktas, European adventurers, and other odd specimens (such as myself, a bald American gurukuli). We kind of took over the restaurant.

At the party, I handed out a questionairre entitled "An Ode to India". So I present to you, my dear readers, a collection of responses from all those cool people (with their permission, of course!). 

My gratitude goes out to them for their sincerity and enthusiasm to share their experience of India with me... and thus all of you. 

 "An Ode to India" Questionairre

  1. What is your favorite place within India? Why? 

* Radha Gopinath Temple, especially Vrindavan Forest. It is Vrindavan inside of Mumbai.

* Mayapur, especially the birthplace of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

* Varsana – I feel the sweetness of Radharani there. It’s beautiful, gentle. The natives there show me what Krishna Consciousness is about: sincerity and depth.

* Vrindavan – I love how it seems as though Sri Radhe is written everywhere.

* Banks of the Ganges.

* The gurukula [school] in Mayapur – the Maharaj there is helping to save the world. It’s a window to another, more Vedic, planet.

* Vrindavan – I feel Krishna there everywhere.

* The foothills of the Himalayas – I actually wept at the sight of the sunrise.


    What annoys you the most about India?
  1. * Pollution


    * Blaring horns as they speed past you.

    * Haggling.

    * Lack of personal space and respect for privacy.

    * Trying to wait patiently in line is impossible! If you don’t push your way onto the bus or train, it will leave without you – if you don’t push your way through the line, you will never make it to the front.

    * The monkeys. I was trying to chant in Vrindavan and one monkey stole my juice.

    * I love everything about India, otherwise it wouldn’t be India.

     What do you love the most about India?

* I love that people sit on the ground, eat with their hands, walk in bare feet… There is something very free about it (at least from my Western perspective, where I see people very attached to their shoes, utensils, etc.)

* Everything in India flows so well, it just works. The best example is the street traffic - it’s so crazy and there seems to be no order, but people work with each other. It’s beautiful.

* You can buy dhotis in any store.

* Temples and sadhus [saintly people].

* I love that I can meet so many people who are devoted in their spiritual practice.

* The culture of service.

* How everyone knows who Krishna is.

  1. Convince someone to come (or return!) to India in one sentence.

* Be open and your heart will change.

* If you want to fall deeply in love with Krishna – forever – come to India.

* If you want to step out of your comfort zone and expand your realizations about this world we live in, come to India. You will be surprised at how much you are able to let go and live!

* Lots of association with Radhanath Swami.

* Himalayan sunset.

* Relationships, culture, love.

 and my favorite:

* If you want to know how to serve, then come to India

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Haiku for Radha Gopinath

haiku is a poem which contains three lines of alternating syllables of five-seven-five

Mei Ghar Aagayi

I have come home

exhaustion plagues me
I seek asylum in you
for I have come home

Monday, December 1, 2008


(India + computers = late blog post. I think you get it.)

Little known fact: Today is Thanksgiving.

I found it refreshing to wake up here in India, write in my journal, and realize that today is the third Thursday of November, and in the United States of America it is a day reserved for giving thanks.

So I want to thank my parents who, from the moment I was born, have nurtured me to be conscious of Krishna. My parents are the foundation of my spiritual life, and without my spiritual life, I am a shell of a person, a ghost.

“Gratitude is not just saying the words ‘thank you’. Real gratitude means reciprocation, even if it is at a great cost to oneself.” – Radhanath Swami

I am praying to somehow reciprocate one day with my parents, who have given me the priceless gift of association with devotees of Krishna.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Gurukuli Blood

I have never acknowledged so fully my gurukuli blood than being here in India. Discussion over class, kirtan over japa any day. And I'll just leave if I'm not inspired.

So it's a huge sign for me that Radhanath Swami is my guru - my spiritual guide - when I can actually sit in his class and lose track of time.

The first day of Vrindavan Yatra, he gave a 4.5 hour-long class. Pretty standard for India. But for me, I have never sat through any class in my life for more than 2 hours, so for that first class I started getting dizzy at around 3 hours... and Radhanath Swami is my guru. But I didn't leave because I was in the center of a crowd of around 4,000.

So the following evening, I had a fully planned escape route - I sat near the exit so as not to cause a stir when I left out of non-absorption.

But I amaze myself. Or rather, Radhanath Swami amazes me. He spoke for nearly FOUR HOURS... and I was entranced the entire time. If he can get me to not only sit through a class but be attentive and inspired for four hours... that's a minor miracle. I thought for sure I would leave early out of restlessness or brain-saturation - that's just how I am.

But somehow he entranced me and thousands of others, and yet I also felt as though the two of us were the only ones present, and we were having an intimate conversation. Then every once and awhile, thousands of arms would reach for the sky. Tumultuous voices that rolled through the air like thunder would cry out the holy name... and I would know then that I was not alone.

In my humble opinion, Radhanath Swami is the certified master of hari katha.

Friday, October 24, 2008


dedicated to Radhanath Swami
on the occasion of his Vyasa Puja, 2008

burning for air

For millions of years
I was swimming
I was desperate
for refuge.

One day
by grace
someone saw me.

He reached out
and clasped my hand.
He pulled me to shore.
And when I could breathe
he placed
a seed
in my trembling hand.

let go
of this seed
of devotion,
he told me.
Tend to it
with love.

He began
to walk
and I began
to follow
in his footsteps.

brahmana brahmite kona bhagyavan jiva
guru krsna prasade bhai bhakti lata bija

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The King of Kirtan

Lifted from my journal:

The kirtan is building. People are amassing. The hands on the clock tick towards six o'clock.

The king is coming. Soon.


He's late. The crowd is growing more and more massive. Crazy. Amal is rocking the kirtan right now.... building, building... I'll see the famous Aindra for the first time any moment now... any moment now...

Aho! There he is! In tattered white, he entered the center of the kirtan from behind in a very quiet, very undramatic way. Such an unassuming man. This is Amal's hero.


Wow. Live at last. For years, always recordings. Now I am immersed in the spiraling voice, the mridangas, the crowd, the tumultuous clapping hands, the soft yellow light from the chandeliers, a faint breeze on my back from the fans. The rhythm of the drums reverberates in my chest.

Krishna Balaram smile upon the King of Kirtan.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Incandescent Moments

The Incandescent Moment is soft. It happens when there's no planning and no expectation. For me, it's like capturing one moment in the billions of ways the universe blossoms and unfolds.

Mumbai awaits.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Arrival of a Saint

From up here on the balcony, I observed the crowd of people who gathered below in the courtyard. Their black hair shone against white marble and caramel sandstone. Kirtan filled the hot yellow air.

Suddenly, everyone rushed towards the gate, like drops of water sliding down the inside of a basin. My heart drummed in my chest. Cries arose from the crowd, and many fell to the ground to offer obeisance. But I couldn't see anything yet, so I gripped the banister and riveted my eyes to the gate.

And then, an unassuming man wrapped in orange cloth entered through the gate. I could see his smile from up here.

In the most magnificent moment of all, this man - who everyone had come to greet - fell to the ground to offer his respects. And like a drop of water falling into a basin of water, everyone offered their obeisance in return in concentric waves. Even the kirtan halted for several breathtaking moments.

I didn't fall to the floor of the balcony. My astonished eyes would simply not leave the small figure of orange bowing down on the floor, in the center of the whorl of people.

Radhanath Swami had arrived to Radha Gopinath Temple.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

In Love With Reality


I'm falling in love with India.

A friend of my parent's who has known me since birth once said, "Oh Bhakti, knowing you, you won't experience culture shock when you go to India. Actually, it will feel like going home. The real culture shock - at least for me - was when I returned to America. That was the real shock."

I'm beginning to understand his words... and I haven't even returned to America.

In my various forays into Mumbai, I have witnessed birth, death, disease, and old age whirl before my very eyes. Trash, slums, starving women, hollow-eyed beggars, distorted limbs and faces... It's there. It's real. To me, this isn't culture shock. It's just reality.

Folks, welcome to the material world.

And when I return to the temple of Radha Gopinath at the end of the day, a sense of relief and peace washes over me... it's like I have entered the spiritual world, that I've returned home. More than just enough food or a place to sleep, I feel the deep concern for the welfare of my soul - not just my body - by the devotees here.

I feel such a deep, deep appreciation to whatever karma or sukriti gave me such wonderful parents, who are devotees of Krishna. Where would I be without the mercy of my parents? Krishna consciousness is the key for the solace of my soul, and I truly feel it here in India, surrounded by the rawness of the world.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Windows to Chowpatty

These snippets are from my journal, so I invite you to be transported to Chowpatty, Mumbai...


So here I am in the temple, writing in soft golden light. Someone just turned the overhead lights off in anticipation of Sayana Arati. High-speed fans and hums of voices fill the air. When I glance back, I see a little sea of faces, all turned to the altar, waiting.


I went down to Chowpatty beach today, and although it was quite filthy, I just stood on the shore and listened to the sea. Such a great, wild sound, so unlike human noises. The great sea air tangled through my hair and pressed on my sari. And I wonder what it must have been like in ancient times to stand on that beach.


So Harinam and I turned a corner... and there was Ban Ganga - a vast ghat that is fed by a crystal clear spring. We walked down the steps and crouched before the water. I felt so at peace there, watching the wind create ripples on the water. The world seemed to quiet a little. Various temples by various sampradayas (lineages) encircled the ghat, their architecture carving the sky like they had been for hundreds of years.


I am writing this in my room in Chowpatty; the fan is whirling above me, and rain pours in heavy whispers outside. Metallic drips sound through the window as water falls from the roof. A picture of Radha Gopinath is hung on the wall above me, and They seem to give Their blessings. And an old maroon copy of Srila Prabhupada's Lilamrita sits on the bottom shelf of my bookshelf, quietly telling me Srila Prabhupada's story, and that he is the reason I am even here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Magic of The Simple Temple

In 2003, Radhanath Swami invited me to Chowpatty, India.

So. Five years later, I have finally come. I don't know what the next five hours will bring, what to speak of tomorrow, or a week from now. So I simply live in the moment, step by step.

I breathe in the rich, musty air. The roar as waterfalls of rain drench the world - people dashing from cover in their saris or dhotis. Orange cloth (lots of it) billows from bamboo rafters high above, drying in the sun. Rain patters through the fresh green leaves, and there, the pujari is a silhouette from the candlelight inside the little Laxmi Narayan temple.

Chowpatty works a slow magic. I knew it would take time, I knew I needed to be patient - this is a community based on relationships, and relationships take time. And so day by day, the petals of this community blossom for me... so very slowly.

A staggering number of people attend a morning program infused with devotion. This is not simply the dazzled observation of a newcomer. The kirtans are melodic and sincere; everyone dances together, and everyone raises their arms when they sing Hare Krishna. I sense a deep, deep connection with Krishna Consciousness here. And somehow, SOMEHOW, their enthusiasm remains fresh, even after so many years.

Ah... I sense the hands of Radhanath Swami here.

And have I mentioned that every single kirtan is beautiful? The singer, the mridanga, and the kartalas are all eloquent and expert with so much heart. And when everyone sings in response, voices flood the templeroom. Okay, I know, I've mentioned this, but kirtan is a big deal for me, and I am deeply impressed.

I don't know how I will ever attend a morning program again without remembering the soulful kirtans and japa of the people here in Chowpatty.

To those who have given their prayers and assistance for me to come to India, I offer my deep gratitude to you. The blessings of the Vaishnavas allow me to taste the magic here.

Note: The DVD on this community, The Simple Temple, is available from I guarantee you, it does not exaggerate. This place really is that amazing.

So what are you waiting for? Click here to order it. Or, better yet, click here.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

KuliMela Reflections: The Japa Revolution

"My name is Bhakti lata. Several months ago I took a Japa Retreat and a Japa Workshop, and I was deeply affected by them. I have had a deep crisis of faith in chanting the holy name since. I am not particularly qualified or even inspired in my own japa, but I wanted to share my experience with all of you and to somehow keep growing.

"Srila Prabhupada once said that 90% of our progress in Krishna Consciousness can be determined by our relationship with the holy name. Ninety percent.

"So this workshop is about looking closer."

During the KuliMela Festival, I co-hosted two Japa Workshops, with first Govinda (Alachua), and then Manu Dasa. All I can say is: to teach is to learn. I connected deeply with the holy name through conducting others in their experience.

On Friday morning, after conducting the first Workshop, I walked over to the bhajan kutir. I felt incandescent, glowing with knowledge and experience of the holy name. In this mood, I settled into a bhajan that Jahnavi (England) was leading. I found myself singing the holy name for the call as well as the response. I just didn't want to stop singing. For the first time in many, many months, I connected with the holy name.

The following morning, I conducted the Workshop with Manu. Although I facilitated the activities, his insight and experience guided the workshop. We ran out of time and the next workshop needed our space, but the flow of realizations had just begun! And so we moved out onto the lawn beneath the trees and continued to share for another 45 minutes.

I do not claim that I am particularly qualified to give a workshop on japa, or even inspired to chant japa. I have no taste for the holy name on my own, but the grace of the Vaishnavas keep me in the fire of realization and inspiration.

¡Viva la Revolución!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

the brainchild

I'd like to introduce you to... my journal. She (yes, she, in all her incarnations) has been the source of my inspiration to write for over ten years now.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Poem for Srila Prabhupada

A Poem for Srila Prabhupad
on the occasion of his appearance, Sri Vyasa Puja
August 25th, 2008

When I first drew breath
Srila Prabhupad was the air in my chest

he is the shadow
when I enter the templeroom

he is the silver voice
just beyond the margins of a bhajan

he is the rhythm of my footsteps
when I dance in a kirtan

he is the echo of my heartbeat
in the stillness when I chant

he is the smile
when I serve the devotees

Srila Prabhupad
gives me faith -

I would draw away from the Deities
question the scripture
and refuse to chant
without his example

Srila Prabhupad
is the significance in my life
the reason I breathe
and I believe
that you, my dear Vaishnava,
feel the same.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Poem for Krishna

A Poem for Krishna
on the occasion of His Divine Appearance, Sri Krishna Janmastami
August 24th, 2008

Your eyes
anoint my eyes
with tears of recognition

Your eyes
illuminate my horizon
a dawn in a darkened world

Your eyes
suffuse my soul
in stillness

don't close Your eyes
allow me to gaze into them
for an eon

I am a beggar
I possess nothing in this world
but this desire
to rush to the temple
to see
Your eyes

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


On Balaram's Appearance Day in Nueva Vrajamandala, Spain, I entered the quiet templeroom to sing bhajans. So would the stirrings of serendipity begin.

Deva joined me on the mridanga soon after, and people began to filter in after taking prasadam from the feast. The bhajans were amazing. Afterwards, a man approached me and said, "Have you ever recorded? You need to record. With Deva."

I had only one day before I returned to Barcelona. And so the next day, we drove to Madrid. Straight up, I have experienced that level of intensity - to record in a studio - maybe 5 times in my life. My bones were exhausted by the time I returned to Nueva Vrajamandala. I think what got me through was Deva's encouragement.

Travel is like this, though. You just ride the waves of serendipity, making a plan but never quite knowing how it's going to turn out. Never in a million years would I have imagined I would record for the first time in a foreign country, working in a foreign language, with complete strangers.

On another note, I'd like to reflect on something with you. I haven't been writing in here very often, but it's not for lack of computer access. I simply find myself at a loss of what to share with the public. I have ridden the waves of many deep experiences and come to many deep realizations, but to share them seems premature. So pardon the infrequency and curtness. This blog and all of its readers mean very much to me.

Thank you for your patience. I still invite you to continue to accompany me on my travels on these waves of serendipity. We've just gotten started.

Friday, August 8, 2008

My Favorite Picture

Sara and Vijay

As soon as I took this picture, it became my favorite out of all of KuliMela (although I didn't take many).

KuliMela Reflections: Prasadam ki jai!!

I must correct a possible misunderstanding. In my last post, I wrote that sometime after the closing ceremony, someone approached me 20 minutes before the Feast to confirm that he could serve out prasadam. Twenty minutes before. Now, this may have sounded like a one-time deal, a marvelous glitch in the aftermath of so much appreciation at the closing ceremony.

Allow me to clarify: I had people tracking me down all weekend long to let me know they wanted to serve. Sometimes they would approach me at weird, random times - maybe I just finished my japa workshop, or I was on a mission for the Registration booth. Sometimes a whole crew wanted to assure their place in the serving line - Gaura Nitai from the Polish Crew literally informed me a day early that they all wanted to serve dinner.

It was no joke. You either came early, or you lost your spot to serve. That was that. In the organized chaos of making sure everything ran smoothly in feeding 400 people, I will say that I never, ever ran short of servers.

I've heard it said in class throughout my life about some great Vaishnava who would serve everyone else prasadam - seconds, thirds - and then clean up after everyone before sitting down to take any prasadam for himself... and he actually enjoyed being last! He was actually in bliss. I kind of wrote that attitude off as a bit masochistic - delay prasadam??

But then, suddenly, I was in the shoes of that Vaishnava - if only for a couple days. I showed up early, was switched "on" for over two hours three times a day to make sure there were servers, utensils, the prasadam prayer was sung, prasadam didn't run out, tables cleaned, pots put away... then and only then did I carry my plate up to the lawn in front of the castle to listen to the bhajans from the kutir. Often my friend Rupa would join me, and as we settled to the grass and took our first bite of prasadam, we would simply look at each other and smile in bliss.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

KuliMela LIVE - Day 4

One of my favorite parts of a huge festival like this is the 'thank you's at the end. The flow of gratitude begins... and then overflows. I certainly came away from the closing ceremony transformed with appreciation. I am certain others came away transformed as well.

You know why I know? At lunch, after the ceremony, people were positively crying out for a position as a server of prasadam. Someone arrived 20 minutes early to notify me they wanted to serve. I only laughed and assured him a place.

To listen to the glories for over an hour of the Vaishnavas who ran this festival certainly inspired others to serve.

I have planned to stay awhile in Radhadesh before heading out to my next destination, and I look forward to the serenity of this castle and reflecting on the KuliMela. I actually planned this next week here for this sole purpose of reflection.

An experience like this needs to sink in. I believe experiences need to be digested... There's a saying in Ayurveda that nectar will be poison with bad digestion, and poison will be nectar with good digestion. Similarly, if I allow myself no time to 'digest' this festival ('bad' digestion), it's almost as if I did not experience it at all. But giving myself the space and time to reflect and savor the beautiful moments ('good' digestion), then certainly the festival becomes ten times more powerful.

I hope to write a few more posts on this festival in the next week. As for now, I am still in my 'is-this-real' space, and a sweet melancholy that this festival has ended. After so long, so much planning, after so much eager anticipation... KuliMela has ended.

But not really. Watch out LA 09. Watch out Australia 010. Alachua 011... others on the horizon, such as Kazakhstan... Siberia... Mayapur... New Mayapur, France...

So really, KuliMela has only just begun.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

KuliMela LIVE - Day 3

Insanity, insanity, insanity. Right now it is 1am, and I must split what happened during the day and what happened JUST NOW into two posts.

One word: Madhava. When night fell, all were drawn to the giant entertainment tent to the sound of a brewing kirtan. He sang one simple melody - no high parts, no low parts, nothing - just the holy name. AND WE ROCKED IT. I don't know how many gurukulis packed into that tent, but like a rock concert, ALL DANCED. The sheer energy could knock over a bystander.

AAAAHHH!! We danced and we danced! Circles and trains and spins, crying out the holy name! Everything was thrown aside.

When vans of gurukulis arrived on Wednesday from various countries, commencing the flood of inspiration, I felt a little distant from the mass of exotic faces and exotic languages. All were in their traveling clothes of jeans and a t-shirt, and the barriers were still raised...

This kirtan smashed the barriers! Like, obliterated. Poof, gone. We are devotees of Krishna. What more can we possibly have in common?

When Madhava drew his kirtan to an uproarious close, we formed a parade and headed up the way to the castle for a mind-blowing fireworks show. Truly mind-blowing. I have been in Washington D.C. for the Fourth of July, on Capitol Hill watching the fireworks go off, and this fireworks show rivalled that. Fired off from the tower parapet of the castle, the fireworks themselves were unique and stunning, but I think the magic had to do with chanting "Gauranga!" "Nityananda!" the entire time. One firework fired so low, the sparks flashed off the tree nearby and glowing points of light rained down on us - all ducked and screamed!

As I sit here, I am in AWE that I am... well... here. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Even if another KuliMela takes place in Radhadesh in the future somehow, this festival holds a magic, something glittering, something powerful, something I will never forget.

Friday, August 1, 2008

KuliMela LIVE - Day 2

The day began with an overflowing gurupuja. Nearly one hundred devotees filled the templeroom - and as Gadadhar (from Italy) sang Sri Guru Vandana, chills chased down my arms as the voices resounded. Srila Prabhupad has united all of us. He believed in us. And here we are, generations later, organizing massive festivals out of sheer inspiration in the message he has given.

The bhajan kutir is the heartbeat of this entire festival. More than the entertainment tent and even - dare I say it? - the prasadam. Sankirtan - congregational chanting - unites us.

After I hosted the japa workshop, I headed over to the bhajan kutir. The combination of actually teaching the nuances of the holy name immediately followed by a heartrending kirtan by Jahnavi (from England), touched me powerfully. I felt deeply, deeply connected with the holy name.

Something momentous happened for me today. For the first time, I sang and danced in a kirtan by Madhava Prabhu, a gurukuli originally from Vrindavan. His intensity drew me - and everyone else - deep into the holy name. In the golden early evening, he began his kirtan. The unique aspect of Madhava's kirtans is that he can sing the same tune for hours, and yet the mood remains fresh and beautiful.

I am in charge of prasadam distribution for the Mela, and dinner along with all of my duties was fast approaching. With a determined stride, I left the bhajan kutir to track down someone to delegate to. I could not miss this. I would not miss this kirtan. And so with some pleading, Kalindi (from England) agreed to take over for me. I returned triumphant.

And so Madhava's kirtan flowed on... and on... past dinner... we didn't care... at one point, after the first part of his kirtan had ended, he said softly, "They say in the spiritual world, every word is a song... and every step is a dance. So, let us stand up, let us dance... let's party and make this the spiritual world." And with a roaring cry, everyone rose to their feet... and Madhava began again.

We halted the mind-blowing kirtan because the evening entertainment needed to begin. The kirtan party missed dinner entirely - nothing was left of prasadam.

It is now 10:30pm, and I am beyond exhausted. I'm hovering in an "is this real?" kind of space. I have been so immersed in the service of prasadam distribution as well as the two japa workshops I am hosting (plus other intense services) that my capacity to absorb other aspects of the Mela has maxed out, such as the seminars and the entertainment.

I believe you all would love to read pages and pages on this festival, and all of the amazing events and revolutionary concepts getting planted here.

I feel infused with an otherworldly inspiration.

P.S. by the way, this is my 100th post, so as this is a pretty impressive landmark for me, I would like to thank all of you for reading this humble blog. I encourage you to check out some of the archives as well. All of your feedback and your encouragement inspires me to continue.

Thank you.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

KuliMela LIVE - Day 1

This is a festival to cross borders. Picture this: 350 gurukulis from 25 different countries, all drawn to the lush hills of Belgium with sometimes nothing more in common than a passion to connect and to inspire one another.

As I write this on the evening of the first day of the KuliMela in Radhadesh Belgium, I realize with a depth I've never known how much Krishna crosses borders. No matter our language, our country, our body, our culture - Krishna reaches past all of those walls to touch our heart. Many don't speak English here, but when bhajans began to fill the castle grounds this afternoon, we all became in sync.

From my personal realization, I feel infused with a desire to serve. And the spirit is infectious.

Stay tuned for the next four days and I shall attempt to write every evening updates and realizations (hopefully a little longer than this one) on this mind-blowing festival.

If you are not personally here in Radhadesh, don't worry, Krishna knows no boundaries.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Rathayatra... in spirit.

I began my very short whirlwind tour of America in the fabulous community of LA. And after breakfast with the equally fabulous brother-sister duo of Shakuntala and Kuva, Sha invited me to dress her Jagannath deities. How could I refuse?

So thus I began my travels, dressing Lord Jagannath in Sha's quiet, sunlit living room. As I untangled beads and folded cloth, I realized that I had not attended a single Rathayatra this entire year, and nor would I. This thought startled me - a Bus Tour veteran, for the past several summers I have lived and breathed the Rathayatra festival. And now suddenly, none.

Sha told me that how I dress Lord Jagannath will be what They will wear for the LA Gurukuli Reunion as well as the Rathayatra. I will be far, far away by then... but my heart will be with Lord Jagannath.

So. I shall attend a Rathayatra this year after all.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Moonwashed Journey - Guru Purnima

Travel in Hawaii is dramatic. There are fourteen different climate zones on the Big Island; the towns are very unique, the people different in each one. So when I proposed to my mom to cross the island to attend Guru Purnima in Hilo, believe me, it was a big deal. Considering gas is 4.69, we decided to do the eco-friendly thing and hop on a bus. And so our day began with the sunrise.
We walked everywhere (4 miles, according to my pedometer). And when we were relaxing in the cafe I used to work at when I attended University of Hawaii, I saw branches of this fruit (lychee) lying on the sidewalk. Hawaii's a bit like that. The exotic is normal.

This path to the river is so deep I found the sign comical.

Approaching the temple at Godruma Gardens...

Above, Bodhayan Maharaj speaks on the occasion of Guru Purnima. Below, the melodious Chandra Kantha leads us in kirtan.
My first kirtan in two months, I could not resist dancing... in my limping way, I still encouraged all the other women to join in. Meanwhile, everyone offered overflowing flowers to the acaryas in our line. I meditated on my own spiritual master, Radhanath Swami, and offered him my respects.

I remember dressing the deities on the left, Sri Radhika Raman, many years ago with Mulaprakriti. Her enthusiasm and sincerity was contagious. I came away in stitches with laughter and also a sweeter appreciation for deities of Radha and Krishna.

Srila Prabhupad's vision was so powerful, so immense, that it has even touched this little town of Hilo. With profound gratitude, I offer my deep, humble respects to this beautiful personality.
Sri Mahotsava Guru Purnima ki, Jai!

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