This year’s Panihati festival was wonderful. Friday I didn’t even know if I was going to be able to make it. But thanks to a very sweet husband who stayed back to milk the cows and watch the kids, my attendence was not just physical. Mentally and spiritually, I was there.
I am always waiting for something big to happen, something that will change my life. Not big like the big of childbirth or the big of terrorism. The big I lay awake praying for is actually kind of small. I wait for that small something that will come and nudge my heart one tiny increment closer to Krishna.
Yesterday’s festival was big. Two tents. Six Maharajas. A shuttle for parking. Prasadam served all day long. A samskara double header (including triplets!!).
And despite the grandiosity of it all, there was a real intimacy amongst the devotees that allowed for this kind of important, small feeling amidst the bigness.
I had real exchanges with devotees, exchanges which were meaningful and not just of substance but actually substaining.
One exchange happened rather quickly. Giri Govardhana Mataji stopped me inside the house just to say that she really appreciated my friendliness when she visited Gita Nagari for the Romapada Swami retreat. The exchange ended abruptly since Maharaja came over to talk to me but I was really affected by her words.
Although she and I may externally look like peers because of our age and the fact that we are toting around little tiny kids, she is, in fact, so senior to me. I was floored that she would be thanking me for my friendliness when, in reality, I am so grateful to get a bit of her association.
Another devotee I got to connect with was Dhanya. We had the longest conversation that we’ve had since I lived in Towaco, where, as I recall, we didn’t do much connecting. Although she is younger in age than I am, it has been clear from the beginning that she is senior to me. She spoke with me about her Odissi dancing and I was really appreciating how it nourishes her bhakti. It would be great to get more of her association in the near future.
I have unlimited gratitude towards my husband, who allowed me to go solo for the day (a first in the course of my matahood). I was worried I would not be able to stay focused on the classes since children have reprogrammed my attention span to single digit minutes. Howevever, the katha was so engaging that the only worry I had was that it would end. When would I get this opportunity again?
At the risk of sounding like a Raghunatha das Goswami wannabe, the experience of sitting in class and hearing attentively purged all desire for more children from my heart. Even after a day holding cutesie wootsie triplet babies and stroking cheeks of chubby wubby new babies in slings, this opportunity to hear subdued my baby fever. I very clearly felt that there is another life available to me besides wiping butts and making bottles. Of course, this sentiment will need continued nurturing. Hopefully more solo days are in my future.
Varsana Swami’s captivating recitation of Gaura Lila is almost unbelievable. The detail and emotion makes one wonder how he could possibly know all this. I am surely convinced that he does not belong to this world.
This morning Mother Vrajalila gave Bhagavatam class. The verse she spoke on was 5.1.26:
Three among these ten—namely Kavi, Mahavira and Savana—lived in complete celibacy. Thus trained in brahmacari life from the beginning of childhood, they were very conversant with the highest perfection, known as the paramahamsa-asrama.
In the purport, Srila Prabhupada says:
The word urdhva-retasah in this verse is very significant. Urdhva-retasah refers to one who can control sex life and who instead of wasting semen by discharging it, can use this most important substance accumulated in the body to enrich the brain. One who can completely control sex life is able to work wonderfully with his brain, especially in remembering. Thus students who simply hear Vedic instructions once from their teacher could remember them verbatim without needing to read books, which therefore did not exist in former times.
I had been just thinking about how Varsana Swami, who is a wealth of Gaura Lila, must be very strict in his sannyasa. This made me feel impressed and inspired.
Dhanurdhara Swami’s lecture was also encouraging. He has the special ability to push you forward in Krishna Consciousness without being too pushy. Even though he is a sannyasi, he seems to understand the intricacies and entanglement of grhasta life. There is not expectation of false renunciation. Rather, I see him as always encouraging the devotees to do what they can. His mercy towards the devotees manifests as his eagerness and availability to speak Krishna katha. Without hesitation, he arranges his life to alleviate the complications of ours.
I particularly appreciate his parallel reading of the Panihati pastime to exemplify not just service to the devotees, but also overcoming obstacles. I am assuming this is why Lord Nityananda was holding a plow. Something I can ask Jaya Bala about next time I see him.