We were expecting Advaita for lunch prasadam at 1 o’clock. While we were waiting for the farm limo to pull into our driveway, the phone rang. It was three minutes past one. He called to cancel. Somehow he got wrapped up in some service with Bali and was not able to make it.
We all handled the news rather well. Neither my husband or I were surprised. Rather, we saw the incident as Gaura Nitai’s trickery. This morning I finally moved Them back to Their altar from the kitchen. The harinama procession from the kitchen to the temple room must have worked up Their appetite. A feast was definitely in order! It was a simple feast of salad,chapatis, pizza and cheesecake. Yet the caloric content defintely delivered. We packed up some pizza for Advaita “Prabhuji” in case he stopped by for some take out.
Then we got ready for the second shift of devotees who were coming for dinner. Mother Kaulini, Mother Gangagati, Mother Atita Guna, Mother Rucira and Adi Karta Prabhu were all scheduled to arrive at 6.
I was planning on making paneer pakoras, served with quince chatni, however once I stopped by the temple to drop off the 4 o’clock sweet, I nixed that prep. Mother Kaulini was in the kitchen with all the matajis cooking. She looked so happy surrounded by her peers. The four ladies had divided up the raja bhoga and were joyfully assembling Damodara’s meal. There was a pile of paneer about a half a foot tall, sprawled out on the countertop. The chunks were cut into two inch cubes. That was when I had the realization that there may be such a thing as too much paneer. At least in one day.
Another reason I deleted the pakoras from the menu was the fact that as I began to cook lunch, I suddenly realized we were out of propane. We never had this happen before, however we were not at all surprised that it happened on a day we were expecting guests. Of course, my brain was somehow disconnected from the fact that there was no propane. I would think, “There is no propane, so let me just make caramel sauce.” Or, “I’ll make chapatis now since I can’t cook the sauce for the lasagna because their is no propane.”
All I can say about this is, “Duh.”
The propane was delivered and all continued in the kitchen according to Sri Sri Gaura Nitai’s plan. Venumadhava was particularly good and funny today. Madhumati’s crying was at a record minimum. This all added to the overall mood of calm in the kitchen while I was busy cooking for Gaura Nitai. The lasagna with roasted vegetables was offered. All we had left to do was chant. And wait.
After Advaita cancelled for lunch and after I saw the huge, beautiful feast the matajis were cooking at the temple, I wasn’t feeling too confident that our dinner guests would actually show. The weather was hot and humid, not the most appetite stimulating.
Six o’clock came. My husband and I sat by the kitchen window with our hands in our bead bags. Six o’clock went. Madhumati was asleep upstairs and Venumadhava busied himself in the wood stove room with his trains. I looked at my husband. He looked at me. We looked at the prasdam. “No problem,” he said, “It’ll all keep. I can take it to work with me.”
Eventually the devotees came! Yes, they were a little late, but who was keeping track of time? We were just happy to have them over. To our surprise, Advaita even showed up and happily indulged in pizza and cheesecake, despite a vrata not to eat after 6 pm. Also, Mother Kaulini brought Mother Locana Padma, a longtime devotee of Radha Damodara.
I think this must have been the largest gathering of Prabhupada disciples we’ve ever hosted in our house. It was great seeing Mother Kaulini with her girlfriends. She just seemed so relaxed, with a constant blush of happiness on her cheeks.
Mother Rucira, who’s chapatis I took note of when I stopped by the temple kitchen this afternoon, spoke to me about the importance of women cooking for their husbands. Cooking, she said, is the most intimate service you can do for your husband because your consciousness is transmitted through the food preparations and therefore actually becomes a part of his consciousness. She also gave me the benediction that my husband will not leave me as long as I keep cooking for him. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t in benediciton format, but it easily translated into it in my mind. And after speaking with Mother Rucira, I am eager for whatever benedictions I can get from her.
After prasadam, I spoke with Mother Gangagati. She used to live in the house Syama Gopa Rupa’s family now lives in. Mother Gangati was telling me that she has been hearing a voice in her head telling her to move back here.
So many devotees love Gita Nagari. So many devotees want to move here. One day.
While it can be frustrating sometimes to think about all the “almost moved heres,” the key is to never give up hope. And keep looking to Mother Kaulini.
Mother Gangagati told me about when she got initiated in Vrindavan in April of 1976. She had been living at the Gainesville temple, doing sankirtan and blissfully practicing austerities. The temple president suggested she go to India.Once there he said to her she was going to get initiated in Mayapur. Then all these wild thoughts came into her head. Did she really want to be a Hare Krishna? Did she really want to go back to godhead and give up all sense enjoyment? No, she thought. She wanted to bloop. But she was in India…so, how was she going to do that?
The day of the initiation, she got dressed up in a sari handed down by Jadurani. And then, it happened. Her temple president came to her and said that he was really sorry but her name was not on the list of new initiates. She wasn’t getting initiated.
When she got the news, it hit her. She understood that Prabhupada knew her heart. He knew she had doubts. She was devestated that she wasn’t getting initiated. She did want to be a Hare Krishna devotee! She did want to go back to godhead! And then, after she had this epiphany of sorts, her TP came to her and said that she would get initiated in a few weeks in Vrindavan.
I was so grateful to hear Mother Gangagati’s story. Prabhupada knew her heart.
I want Prabhupada to know my heart, as well. The last few nites I have been trying to dive into preparing for the class I am scheduled to teach in December in Mayapur.
I told both Mother Atita Guna and Mother Rucira about the class I am preparing to teach in Mayapur. Both Mother Atita Guna and Mother Rucira are delicious cooks, serving in deep meditation of the pleasure of the Supreme Lord and Srila Prabhupada. Actually, either of them would make great instructor’s for this course. The two of them gave me valuable suggestions which I will definitely utilize. And their words of encouragement did wonders for me.
Mother Rucira’s words were exactly what I needed to hear in order to quell my worries. And not only was it what I needed to hear, but it was what I needed to hear from the right source. A cook with credentials, Mother Rucira’s encouragement was noteworthy. Literally, after she left I jotted a few things down.
At the end of the evening, my husband took everyone’s blood pressure. After a meal of pizza, lasagna and caramel topped cheesecake, it was not a shock that most women in the room had slightly high blood pressure.
We had a small kirtan in the temple room. Hugs were exchanged amongst the ladies and then everyone slipped out the door on the way to their cars.
My husband and I looked around at the aftermath. The house was undisturbed. The kitchen clean. Our seven dinner guests left behind very few traces of their visit. I suppose this is what it is like when kids are grown and life becomes truly adult.