Sunday, June 5, 2016

Tingly Prayers (Part 3 of 4)

When I left Prabhupad's rooms, I ran into a girl I've known for several years now, her name is Indulekha. I got to connect in with the friends she was traveling with, as well as her mother.

We all ended up having lunch together at the MVT restaurant. At lunch, I was told that tomorrow was the celebration of Holi - the festival of throwing colors - and it would be impossible to do shopping in Loi Bazaar. It would be dangerous. Scary. They told stories that sent shivers down my spine.

No way was I stepping out tomorrow.  

It dawned on me that I needed to squeeze in not only the rest of my business but all of my pilgrimage goals into one evening. That evening. Oh boy.

In the late afternoon, we set out for Loi Bazaar, the four of us a motley crew - France, Russia, and the US all rolled into one spicy mixture. We whirled our way through various stores, on a quest to discover an elusive item. At last we were triumphant at the new Ganga Prasad shop near Radha Shyamasundar temple. We high-fived each other!

When I was paying for the bill, I took out my business binder to account for this expense. The pen that I fished out of my bag was this gold pen that  I had brought to India to write elegant thank you notes and such. I wrote the mundane financial equation out in the glittering gold ink and Veni Madhava commented, "Hm, a gold pen,"

"Oh yes," I smiled a little bashfully. I put it back in my bag and fished out a blue pen.

Since we were so close to Radha Damodar Mandir, I declared how much I wanted to go there, and the other ladies were happy to go too. We entered the busy temple, which was blasting with music from the musicians who had set up in the courtyard. Holi was getting into full swing. Radha Damodar were holding little metal Holi syringes, and the other Radha Krishna deities were holding plastic ones! Temple-goers were splashed in bright pink and green and yellow and danced in circles.

The four of us headed into Srila Prabhupad's  humble rooms. His murti was there, also seated behind a desk, studiously bent over with his hand poised holding a pen. We commenced to chant japa. Despite the deafening music, suddenly the room felt quiet, like we were in a cocoon.

When the music paused, I said, "Hey, you guys, lets do a little kirtan while they've stopped their music,"

So we all started singing together, and immediately the music started blasting away again, so we just sang louder. We sang at the top of our lungs!! I suddenly realized that we wouldn't have been singing at the top of our lungs with such abandon, grinning from ear to ear, our hearts pounding, if that loud music hadn't been there. And so inside my heart I offered my gratitude to the musicians, for they had provoked our wild enthusiasm and love for Prabhupad with our chant of "Jaya Prabhupada Jaya Prabhupada Jaya Prabhupada Jaya Prabhupada!!!"

When we had triumphantly concluded our brief kirtan, something curious happened. Veni Madhava said to me, "Why don't you give Prabhupad your gold pen, and take the one he's holding?"

I was astonished, surprised with this idea. 

"Really? But I've already written with the pen I have, is that okay?"

"Sure," she said.

So with a big smile, I crept forward and replaced Prabhupad's simple ballpoint pen with my gold pen.

The significance of this hit me after we left the temple, and for hours afterward. Prabhupad had somehow guided me so that I would be given his pen, and in his rooms at Radha Damodar where he wrote such powerful scripture in his meditation to save the fallen souls. I am praying that I may follow in his footsteps and write as a service to Krishna.

When my friends left the room, I lingered to offer prayers for a soulful wedding and marriage. When I went to join them, they weren't waiting at the temple entrance. I realized that maybe they had gone to Prabhupad's kitchen. So I headed back inside the temple. My friends weren't there; nevertheless I fell to my knees to offer obeisance.

Propped up against the wall is a picture of Srila Prabhupad quietly eating lunch, taken before he had traveled to the Western world. He is gazing out at the samadhi of Rupa Goswami and his expression conveys his meditation on how to fulfill the Goswami's wishes to share Krishna with the world. So I folded my palms and my prayer came out as a mantra, "The holy name, vaishnava culture, the holy name, vaishnava culture, holy name, vaishnava culture, holy name, vaishnava culture, holy name, vaishnava culture...." I was tingling all over.

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