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My Journey to India 2011 – Dandavat Parikrama

Carried along by Loving Hands, October 19

Something strange happened with me. For five hours every second day I see ants running busily across the road. The wheels of motorbikes, tractors and limousines rush at me, and pass my head by only a few centimeters. Sometimes the only “air” I get is unfiltered exhaustion fume (the vehicles here run without catalyzers of course). Thousands of bare feet trample on my path. Dogs and monkeys look down on me with compassion. Drops of sweat from my forehead build little puddles on the ground. My shirt is black from the sweat and dust. Every muscle is strained – I am at my limits and beyond. Sometimes I myself can’t believe that I am doing this. Is it real?

Phew – it is so demanding, difficult and taxing. What happened?

I am on dandavat parikrama around Govardhan Hill. This means I am circumambulating Govardhan (a route of 24 km) not walking, but paying my obeisances to Radha Krishna. One after the other – always starting anew where the hands of my outstretched body dropped off the marker-stone. At the end of each day’s quota I bathe the sweat and dust off in Kusum Sarovara.

Why this austerity?


For three reasons:
1.    To enter the school of humility – finally
2.    To appeal for mercy
3.    To ask confidential requests

A hope drives me forward. A hope which is my only friend, especially at times when my mind screams at me to stop. A hope which grows stronger the longer I go on. It’s the hope that it is possible to move God’s heart by prayer. The hearts of Radha and Krishna are like deep still lakes of mercy. When they are agitated by compassion, they overflow with waves of mercy.

There is something else which urges me on: Deep inside I am aware that the next step in my spiritual life can only be reached by sacrifice. At the same time it becomes more and more apparent to me that my own efforts will never suffice to reach the goal. I am a bound soul pushed by its karma and desires to rotate in this world, life after life. Some things in spiritual life sound almost paradoxical.

Since time immemorial devotees have done this prostration around Govardhan Hill. Their experiences, prayers and hopes linger in the atmosphere. It is possible!

It is said that in kali yuga the fruits which yogis attain who meditate and perform austerities for many years – are easily attained by Govardhan dandavat parikrama.

But I don’t feel comfortable with this and other statements glorifying the results of spiritual practice. Can anyone force Radha and Krishna to give mercy? – No, never! Not even by the most creative austerities. As Bilvamangala Thakura writes:

“Oh Krishna, You play in the muddy yards of the cowherd men, but you are hesitant to appear on the pure sacrificial altars of the noble brahmans.
When the great sages offer You hundreds of reverential prayers from the Vedas, You remain silent. However you enthusiastically respond to the mooing of the cows and bulls of Vraja.
You become the servant of the gopis in Vraja but you don’t want to be the master of even the most austere ascetics.
Thus Krishna I know that Your lotus feet can only be reached by ecstatic love. Nothing else.”

But it is possible to show the Divine Couple one’s eagerness – the fact that one is not indifferent to Their mercy. Would you not open the door to someone who throws himself on the ground before it in humble prayer day by day?

And thus I go on – prostration after prostration. Meditating on Their lilas, verses, and my confidential aspiration. Sometimes I sing, sometimes laugh and then I almost cry. I go through indescribable feelings. Deep inside I often feel a reciprocation – very subtle like the small fire of a candle that was just ignited. Then I know: It is not me who is doing this. I am carried all along by loving hands.

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