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Magical Moments in Mayapur 2012

(February 2012)

By Krishna’s mercy I had the fortune to visit Shridham Mayapur from Febuary 20th to 29th,  2012. During this time I experienced a few precious moments in which I felt Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was personally interacting with me. For my own purification and the pleasure of my readers I would like to share some of them.


 
Entering the Dhama

Less than half an hour before our arrival in Shridham Mayapur a little unexpected miracle happened. We reached the edge of the village Vamana Pukur and my taxi driver pulled over. He parked the car next to a woman who was waiting there holding Bengali sweets. “This is my wife and she so much wanted to welcome you personally.” said the taxi driver. I accepted the sweets with happiness and gratitude and remembered what I had heard about the dhama-vasis (the residents of the Holy Dhama). It is said that anyone who lives in the Dhama directly represents the Lord.

As our taxi driver continued towards Shridham Mayapur I felt the Lord had personally welcomed me through His devotee. My heart rejoiced and anticipated the arrival in the home of the Lord, all the while I sang His Holy Names.

 
Challenges

When we started the Kirtan Mela I had the feeling that most of the devotees were not able to concentrate on continuous chanting because so many festival programs were going on simultaneously. “But is this not how most of our lives are? Too many distractions!” I thought to myself.

“Now we have to make a special endeavor to bundle the energy – at least our own. Then the others might follow.“ – and they did.  So I learned my first lesson: One always has to center oneself, even in the face of distractions. Miracles will happen and others will become influenced by a concentrated mind!
 

Krishna Hears You

 There was a talented and well-trained sitar player who wanted to accompany the kirtans. We welcomed him, but could not always guarantee him a microphone, since the kirtan leaders sometimes needed the microphones for their own instrumentalists or singers.

At one point, when there was no microphone available for the sitar, I noticed a flute player next to the sitar player suffering the same fate: No one heard him! But the flute player ecstatically turned to the sitar player and told him, “No problem – Krishna has very fine ears. He always hears His humble devotees even in a chorus of 3000 chanters!”

‘That’s it’, I thought, ‘we always sing for Krishna.’


Kirtan Ecstasy

Especially during the evening kirtans I often felt the sweetness of chanting with so many devotees. Sometimes I felt the Holy Names were like mouthfuls of the tastiest and most nourishing preparation. I just needed to open the heart and taste the Name there first. Then, the Name wandered to the mouth and filled it up to the brim. From there it saturated all the cells of my body and then the whole atmosphere. Krishna’s most merciful form is the Holy Name – and it is the first form in which we will meet our Lord.

 
The Nocturnal Kirtan at Shrivas Thakura’s House

One evening we went to Shrivas Thakura’s house where Shri Chaitanya is still performing his kirtans all night. We sang and looked for the door to enter these auspicious pastimes – and we found it in the sacred scripture Chaitanya Bhagavat. As we were singing and hearing about the kirtans which took place at that same house 500 years ago, we all felt transported into the pastimes. No one wanted to leave and we found ourselves criticizing the clock which indicated that we had to stop.
 

A Visit to Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s House

After traveling up the Jalangi river by boat, we arrived at the house of Bhaktivinoda Thakura. It was magical. So many japa retreats I recently gave were based on his books. And here I was - in his house where he spent the later days of his life absorbed in bhajan and wrote those nectar books on chanting the Holy Names. I saw the tiny room (one square meter) where Bhaktivinoda Thakura used to lock himself up to chant in an undisturbed atmosphere. I looked at the cement chair, on which he sat in the early morning hours, chanting and calling out for Krishna with a begging voice. Then I started chanting myself in the Thakura’s writing room trying to bring eagerness to my practice. But I fell asleep. Suddenly Bhaktivinoda Thakura appeared in my consciousness, kind, understanding and encouraging. First he thanked me for my service and then he instructed me,

“The real Holy Name comes from above. It cannot be produced by the material tongue. No, it springs from above. By the mercy of a real saint, a servant of the Absolute, it descends through the channel of the ear and goes right into the heart. From there it forcefully ascends again to the tip of the tongue. Like a waterfall which falls on a stone from above and then jumps from there into a ray of water to dance happily and energetically. In the same way the Holy Name appears on the tongue and with great energy begins to dance there. Then only are you chanting – because it is not you who chants the Name. No, the Name chants you!”

All of a sudden I started to chant and could not stop!


Death – the Great Teacher

We sat in a motorboat driving upstream on the Ganga. One devotee reminded us, “Mother Ganga is a divine personality and likes to hear devotees chanting on her banks.” And so we sang – it is the thing to do on pilgrimage.

After a while my turn to lead came. I was exhausted from the intense sun, so I chanted unenthusiastically. But what can one do? When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

Suddenly I noticed people preparing a dead body for cremation on the river bank. Soon the flames blazed and the breeze carried the smoke into our nostrils.

I stopped the kirtan and recited a poem:

 
“O bird of my heart
I have prepared a tasty feast for you – the Holy Name.
Why don’t you want to eat it and chant?
There will be a time, when you will be carried
down to the banks of the Ganga.
Fire will be put to your mouth and your tongue will burn.
O bird of my heart – chant now while you can.”
 


Wow – the chanting picked up nicely afterwards.

 
And then we sang a kirtan through the town of Navadvip!!! It is said that in Vrindavana one attains love of God by touching the dust which touched the Lord’s feet. In Jagannath Puri one attains love simply by eating the Lord’s maha-prasada, but in Navadvipa the same love is attained by singing kirtan in the streets.

First Lokanath Swami led and thousands danced – even the inhabitants were swept in the flood of the Holy Names, and they knew how to swim: They chanted along and raised their hands to the sky. Hari Haribol!

 
The Jackal in the Temple

The most vivid memory I have of the pilgrimage to Mayapur is a little scene in the temple. I saw a jackal running through the door of the Pancha Tattva Temple at around 11 p.m. He looked around, and seemed to appreciate the thick devotional atmosphere. Shyly he moved towards the altar. Suddenly he lay down on the floor and quickly paid his obeisances – a full prostration as elegant as an old saint. Then he disappeared very quickly through the door.

Most probably he belongs to the group of jackals who perform a laughing concert each night, absolutely punctual from 9 to 10 p.m. Yes, they laugh – ha ha ha – exactly for one hour. Maybe they laugh at us humans.

What moved me so much is hard to explain. I always feel animals in the Holy Dhama are special. Often they are better connected to the spiritual level than humans since they don’t have such complicated minds. And this one was definitely visiting the temple to offer obeinsances. Who was he?

 
There is a story of a jackal that died on the path around Radhakunda. Once, when Shrimati Radharani walked around the sacred lake, she accidentally touched the dead animal with Her soft, lotus like toe and then intently liberated the jackal from its body, so that it took on its original form as Her eternal maidservant.


It is those magical touches which a pilgrim feels in these magical moments. They transform instantly.

  

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