After conducting a student program with newcomers in the BACE we drove out to our Swamibag Temple on the other side of Dhaka, and stayed there for a couple of days in order for our Ukrainian visitors to get over their jet lag and tune into the Bangladeshi mood.
They had brought along a big box of maha ladhus, prepared with devotion by one of our pujaris and offered to our beautiful Gaur Nitai in Kharkov. We took a tour through all the back lanes of the labyrinth of Swamibag Ashram and visited all the little rooms, tin shed dwellings and temple departments to greet the devotees by distributing maha prasadam - one of the main loving exchanges. It was a sweet way of catching up with everyone and engaging in personal exchanges.
I was invited to give a SB class, and to share a little presentation at the big Nama Hatta Mela which HH Gauranga Prema Maharaja was conducting.
He conducted a nice evening kirtan at Swamibag temple, and Visvambhara Prabhu played enthusiastically the mrdanga. Everybody joyfully participated, with blissful dancing at the very end.
On Wednesday the 19th we embarked in the early morning on our long journey to Rup Sanatan Tirtha, with a van full of boys who wanted to accompany us. Along the way we had to twice cross a river by ferry, which broke up the journey a little. When traveling on Bangladeshi roads one can easily realize that death can indeed come at any minute....
It was the time when the rice had to be harvested, and the entire village was very occupied with this task, cutting the rice by hand with a sickle, tying it into bundles and bringing it home, sometimes tied to the ends of a bamboo rod which they carried across the shoulders.
This must be the way they harvested the rice five thousand years ago, at Krsna's times...!
Times have stood still here....!
And in a similar way they must have harvested the wheat in countries like Germany....
And of course, every family here has cows, and the ladies are collecting the cow dung to make fuel out of it, by padding it around a long stick to dry it.
Sahasrajit Prabhu remarked with a smile: "For them it will be easy to go back to Goloka Vrindavan - they already know exactly what to do there..." And Visvambhara Prabhu shared: "In Ukraine the people in the villages are so dirty and in tama guna, but here everything is so nice and clean, and the people are so happy...."
As we know, one British sociologist determined that the Bangladeshi's are the happiest nation of the world. For a long time I was wondering why, and of course one reason is because everybody is following some religious path - there is no atheism. But the main reason is that around 75% of the entire population lives in villages! Village life is the most happy life! After all Krsna demonstrated this for us to follow....
I also had the good fortune to grow up in a beautiful village in South Germany, where a nice church is the very center of the village, and every house was a farmer's house with cows. Today the same village is a suburb of the nearby city, and non of the farmers still have cows. The next generation rather sits in the office or works in the factory.....
We conducted a two-day retreat at Rup Sanatan Tirtha, and around 150 students boys gathered. A small group of ladies also participated - the facilities are simple and austere, and not so many ladies usually join. The first day we dedicated to the topic of 'Death - our Final Challenge', which always gives a strong urge to become Krsna conscious. Once we understand what exactly happens at this moment of death, it stands clear in our mind that we have to prepare. And the second day we churned the topic of 'Deepening our Relationship with the Holy Name' - the utmost way to prepare for death: establishing our relationship with the Lord through chanting His name.
The two topics proofed to be a very effective way to bring our audience closer to strict spiritual practice, and to transform their consciousness.
Devotees took eagerly part and tuned into the tight schedule, keeping a good focus and absorbing themselves. Such two-day programs are indeed an effective way to reach people's hearts and bring them to deeper levels of devotional life.
There are three places of importance to visit in connection with Narottama Das Thakur:
- his residency where he grew up, and where we can take darshan of the original Deities his father worshiped,
- the Prema Toli: the tree where Mahaprabhu left a pot of prema in the Padma river for Narottama to later find
- and the place of his bajan: where he was sitting under a big tree, writing his bhajans in separation from Vrindavan.
I enjoyed a peaceful evening, reading and reflecting on the day's events visiting my favorite holy places of Narottama Das Thakur.....
Your servant, Devaki dd