August 2010


Mayapur 8/27/2009-8/31/2009

Sri-Sri Radha-Madhava on Radhastami 8/27/09- photo courtesy of mayapur.com

By the end of the trip, I was tired of all the traveling we had done. I was hopeful that Mayapur would be a sweet relief, everything that it has been hyped up to be. From the first day I was pessimistic. Probably because the trip to Mayapur had gotten off to a bad start. Our train in Varanasi was seven hours late due to a terrorist attack or something. The train station in Varanasi was absolutely filthy- filled with giant rats the size of cats- I wish I were exaggerating. I had a fever of 104 degrees at the time and I was so sick and tired that I just lay a gamcha on the floor and tried to sleep. By the time our train arrived we were cutting it close to being able to celebrate Radhastami in Mayapur. When we boarded the train it had German roaches- what German roaches are doing in India Im not sure but by then I was so tired and irritated all I could think of was reaching the magical paradise that was Sri Mayapur Dham and hopefully in time for Radhastami.

We made it just in time for the last five minutes of mangal-arati. It was completely packed with people and I felt overwhelmed with all of them pushing and shoving- I felt invisible. I had been separated from my husband during the program to our respective sides and I hadn’t seen him since- there were so many people.

After mangal-arati I left the temple and sat on a bench, waiting to hopefully see my husband leave the temple. I chanted quietly and looked around. Through association with my husband I had learned a lot about Mayapur. I prayed and dreamt about being here, and now my dream had been fulfilled. Behind me was the beautiful lotus fountain and in front of me was the infamous Long Building. Everything was so big. I didn’t know anyone here. Suddenly, I felt like the smallest person in the world. My husband has daydreamt about living here but I wasn’t sure that I could. Its just too big. There are too many people here, there’s probably no service for me to do. I remembered all the villagers, pushing and shoving for the last bit of mangal-arati darshan of Radha-Madhava. Its too much.

“Prema-Rupa! Why are you just sitting there?”
“Oh!…I couldn’t remember how to get back to our room. This place is so…big…” I said sheepishly.
“You are so so silly. How long have you been sitting there?”
“Oh, umm, since after mangal-arati.”
“Dear! That was almost an hour ago!”
“I couldn’t find you.” I muttered, sad and embarrassed. Somehow Mayapur wasn’t what I expected.

The Deity Darshan in the morning was nice, but again it was packed and people were still coming in. I tried to take Darshan, tried to absorb the mood of devotion and ignore the pushing and chattering of the visitors around me but its practically impossible. I had never experienced such a packed room in my life, and everyone was just pushing and shoving, one lady hit me in the back of the head and I was so crabby I probably could have knocked her out.

When I was able to attain some peace at one side of the room, a female security guard approached me, “go there!” she instructed. I shrugged and complied, figuring that I was somehow in the way of the festivities and made my way a few feet ahead and to the left. After a few minutes I was approached by a male security guard, “move there!” he said, pointing to the spot I was originally standing in. Why can’t I just stand somewhere and take darshan on Radhastami in peace? I moved back to my original spot. This was not going well for me. I thought I would fall in love with Mayapur but so far all I’ve seen is a big place, with big buildings, and big Deities, and big noisy crowds.

“I told you to stand there!” I turned and saw the female security guard, angry that I had returned to my original spot. Unable to catch a break, I squished myself through the crowd and I left the temple room frustrated.

The security guards were driving me crazy. No cell-phones, no cameras, they kept giving my father a hard time for wearing short pants in the temple. I know they’re just doing their job, I saw the lack of temple etiquette guests have, but cant they tell the difference between a regular polite person and a person who is unaware of temple behavior? It was miserable.

While I was being miserable, my husband was having a blast. He was visiting with old friends and family, chit-chatting with bramhachari’s, and working on securing our property in Gaur-Nagar. He would often promise to be back in a moment but wouldn’t return for hours and I would be left alone in our room. It bothered me at first but its not like I wanted to go anywhere so why should I stop him from his good time? I was so startled by the amount and behavior of the visitors here that I wouldn’t go anywhere, no matter how much my husband tried to encourage me, I wouldn’t even attend any of the daily temple programs. I was perfectly content hanging around our room in the Gada Building all day being discontented and miserable.

I did try a couple times to leave my room and go for a walk, hopefully get caught up in some kind of adventure or rekindle my love for the Dham. But I would just walk around the campus and come back to my room after about 20 minutes. One day I decided to chant my rounds in the temple room. I sat in Sri Panca-tattva’s side of the temple room, in the back, near a pillar. I crossed my legs, closed my eyes and tried to focus on the Holy Name. After a few moments, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I opened my eyes to see a female security guard,

“No ghum!”
“Ghum? Sleep? No ghum. Japa.” I replied, pointing to my beadbag. She walked away and I resumed my japa. After a few minutes I got a tap on my shoulder again, I once again opened my eyes to see the same security guard, “No ghum!” she instructed sternly. I pulled together the best Bengali that I could, “Amar ghum na! Ami jap korchi!” Do I have to be one of those newbie devotees having a japa seizure for people to think Im having a focused, meditative japa? Frustrated again, I left the temple.

As I walked back to my room I could hear the Nagar Sankirtan team in the distance. It was made-up of mostly international devotees and when I heard them singing, the tunes and styles, hearing the accordion and watching devotees of all colors and backgrounds dance and glorify Krishna together, it reminded me of America. It made me homesick. I had been in India almost two months, and this was the first time I wanted to go back.

Hare Krishna Dear Devotees,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

I made my first visit to Sri Mayapur Dham in 2009 during Radhastami. Mayapur is the headquarters for our ISKCON Society and is home to the most beautiful Deities in the world- Sri-Sri Radha-Madhava and the Astasakhi’s, Sri Panchatattva, and Sri Narasimhadeva. Among my many adventures and life changing experiences in the Dham, a resident devotee gave me the wonderful opportunity of giving me a tour of the pujari rooms before I left Mayapur to continue my pilgrimage in India. While I ooh’ed and ahh’ed over the up close and personal view of the Deities outfits and the Deity jewelry- totally amazed by the love and patience it takes to make and organize all of Krishna’s things, the devotee told me that its hard to find good beads for jewelry-making in India and because beads are so heavy, many people wont bring much from their country. I asked her what happens with the old jewelry and she replied that its either sold as mahaprasad or just broken down and reused in another set of jewelry. Over the years, the Deities in Mayapur has become very close to me, I felt sad that they struggled to have nice beads for making jewelry.

Feeling a little bold, I asked if there was any service I could do from abroad. She immediately replied, “please, bring back some beads, anything that you can bring would be so helpful. Whenever devotees bring jewelry to Jananivas Prabhu, our head pujari, he is so appreciative and moved when devotees offer this personal service.” I agreed that I would do my best and with that I left the Dham to catch my train to the next holy place in India.

Since then, I have been meditating on how to best execute that service. Here is where your assistance is needed. I want to bring lots of beads to Mayapur Dham, my dream is to bring several luggage’s packed full of beads- I’ll take care of the extra baggage costs. I need devotees to make donations so that we can achieve this goal. I know many of you have Mayapur Dham and Sri-Sri Radha-Madhava close to your hearts. For example, if you donate just $30 you can buy about 1,000 beads- which brings us closer to the thousands of beads needed for Their Lordships- but any amount, no matter how much or how little will be accepted. Can you imagine how wonderful it would be to present Jananivas Prabhu with so much jewelry-making beads and then show him the long list of donors that made it all possible?!

The deadline for this rare service opportunity ends October 1st so please take advantage of this opportunity. I am ONLY bringing beads and items for the Deities in Mayapur, meaning that I will not carry items for godsiblings, family, BFF’s etc.

One way you can donate is by going to this site and type in my email address pjamunar@hotmail.com :
http://www.firemountaingems.com/listlookup.asp

all the beads they need are listed there, you can pick out what you want to donate to and it gets sent to me to take to Mayapur.

If you are interested or have any questions please email me and I will do my best to serve you.

I look forward to hearing from you and thank you very much for your time.
Always your servant,
*prema-rupa devi dasi
pjamunar@hotmail.com