Thursday, January 29, 2009

Touch of the Brajabasi: Introduction

Touch of the Brajabasi: Introduction

To begin my Touch of the Brajabasi series, I would like to invite you to Vrindavan, and what it means to go to the most holiest of towns in a humble mood. We can truly see Vrindavan through the mercy of the Vaishnavas, or, the devotees of the Lord. 


 There’s a gated corner of the Chowpatty temple grounds called Vrindavan Forest. It used to be a trash dump, but by the vision of Radhanath Maharaj, five years later it is now transformed into a lush, cultivated garden, landscaped with little temples and lakes. It is a haven in the city of Mumbai.

 One morning, Sita Lila, Kumari, and I sat nervously outside of Vrindavan Forest, waiting for Radhanath Maharaj to finish speaking with someone. I had promised Kumari that I would introduce her to Maharaj, but I was getting the jitters. We were so ambushing him. Why am I always ambushing Maharaj? I berated myself.

 Then he emerged, in his glowing orange robes. The three of us stood, and a smile warmed his entire face.

 “Please, come in,” he ushered us in to Vrindavan Forest.

 We all looked at each other, speechless, then followed Maharaj’s suit into the Forest. In the pavilion, we settled down into plush bamboo sofas. “Here’s for the full effect,” he said, and he turned on the waterfall as well as the recording of Vrindavan birds singing in the morning. He smiled and settled down across from us.  

 The three of us conversed with Maharaj for a long time, inquiring and discussing about India and guru and service. Then, Kumari admired a little lake off to our side, a sculpture of Krishna dancing on the hoods of Kaliya emerging from the water.

 “Ah yes, this is Kaliya Ghat,” Maharaj explained. “And next to it, that is Vrinda Kunda… And you see all of these temples? They are replicas of the actual temples in Vrindavan, and the devotees here in Chowpatty made them. And…” his enthusiasm seemed to overflow. He grinned. “Do you have time? Come, I’ll give you a tour,” he said.

 The three of us traded delighted glances, and then we all stood to follow Maharaj to the front gate, the beginning of the Forest path.

 “This is a tamal tree,” he began, placing his hand on the trunk of a blackish tree. And so for the next fifteen minutes, Radhanath Maharaj pointed out every sacred tree and its significance, or that little piece of stone that was an original fragment of a temple in Vrindavan, or who the personalities were in their little temples. He seemed to glow with the pride of a father introducing his children – he had planted nearly every tree and plant in this garden. 

 I had been living in Chowpatty for nearly a month and a half, my room a ten-second walk from Vrindavan Forest. I had taken dozens of walks around the garden. But I had never seen the tamal tree. I had never noticed the piece of ancient stone. I had never known that Maharaj had planted these trees himself.

 At the end of the Tour, a revelation had crept into me and I was in awe. As we circled back around to the pavilion to retrieve our things, I said to Maharaj, “It's amazing, Maharaj, that this used to be a trash dump. This makes me realize that no matter where we are in the world, we can always find Vrindavan there." I paused. "Thank you. You have opened my eyes. I realize that without guru, without teacher, I simply cannot see what is there. Thank you, Maharaj.”

 He turned to look at me. “You’re welcome.”


Please tune in for the next several posts for the Touch of the Brajabasi series. 


Supriya Khare said...

Hare Krsna.... I have been 2 Vrindavan Forset in Chowpatty many time but never ever though its Vrindavan.... The Truth so near but so very far because of my lack of KC... thank u very much for opening my eyes 2....

Bhakti lata said...

I'm not sure if you'll read this, Supriya, but thank you for your comment. Thank you.

Anusha Nair said...

Hare Krishna!Soooo beautiful. S

To write is to dare the soul. So write.