66. The backpacking question

As I woke up few mornings back, I had a nice realization. I had a strong urge to pick up my old habit of backpacking. Many years ago, I had done this thing in remote places of New Zealand, Australia and India. I was the envy of all upon return, had wonderful stories to tell accompanied by breathtaking photographs. However, the last 3 years, I had given it up for more serious focus on my Krishna Consciousness and career. But the 4 hrs I spent walking the floors of various camping, backpacking and trekking shops today didn’t help to extinguish the desire tree of traveling.

And in those shops I saw wonderful super durable backpacks, ultra light weight tents, even more ultra light weight cooking pots, walking sticks, portable shower, really really ultra thin drying towels, water containers, tough walking boots, maps, compass, mega thin mosquito nets, vacuum flasks etc etc. Wow ! What a time I had looking through the products of material nature. Yes, I did buy a few items…some of the items were on 40-70% sale!

Anyways, the reason I am writing this is because I am confused. I have the following choices:

  • undertake a year’s worth of world tour covering Asia, Europe, South America
  • Perhaps, settle for a few weeks of camping tours in Australia, say Tasmania
  • or take next year off and move to the temple to heighten my knowledge of service and devotion

All of you might say that I should go with the last option cause it will let me help tons of people and also pave my way back to Godhead. Whereas, the first two exercises involving tons of walking, surving harsh climates, living off tin food would guarantee my next birth as a migratory bird or a polar bear even. Not to mention the money spent on air tickets, tour operators and camping gears. This money could easily be used in the service of the Lord.

What do I do? Traveling is so much fun !
I thought I got an answer when I saw this sentence in one of the camping books in the shop…

” What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to enjoy life. That is what life means and what life is for.”
George Mallory, 1922

No idea who the guy is and pretty sure that he had never read the Bhagavad Gita. Anyways, I almost did consider this age old advice which moved our earth swiftly to its current state. But traveling and seeing the world isn’t like gambling or illicit sex or intoxication. Its an exercise which helps a human discover their relationship with nature not to mention the austerity involved like days without shower, no basmati rice with chick pea curry in spiced yogurt or a heater. Hey, I can be a Krishna Conscious backpacker…I will carry my small Bhagavad Gita book, photos of Sri Radha-Krishna and the acharyas, cook prasadam in my light weight stainless steel utensil, distribute them to other backpackers, do my 16 rounds of chanting near some spectacular waterfall and also listening to kirtans on my iPod as I traverse a national park. No?

I need to think long and hard about this. Its a life changing decision – a year of world travel or a year of temple service. The last time I thought so much was in 1997 when I decided to make a trip to New Zealand again. Towards the end of my adventure travel, as I sat on a street bench asking myself questions about life, purpose, hardships etc…a young clean head shaven western boy approached me from no where and asked if I would be interested to buy the book he held out in his hand – Bhagavad Gita As It Is by His Divine Grace A C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad. And that purchase got me here.

Perhaps, I should go with travel…….

4 thoughts on “66. The backpacking question

  1. Hey Manoj, Hare Krishna!

    I have an idea. Why not travel for a year with Srila Indradyumna Maharaja as his travelling secretary? Write to him. That would give you an opportunity for plenty of service, plenty of preaching and lots of travelling.

    With best wishes,
    Acintya Caitanya dasa aka Arun Menon
    Dept of Physics, Sri Mayapur International School
    Sri Mayapur

    PS: I am from Kerala too like you. Somehow I missed you while you were in Sri Mayapur. Would have loved to have you home for prasadam.

  2. Hard to say. I’ve lived in the temple for many years now, so, at this point I would go travel , and see what Krsna brings in nature. You may be purified reading Gita and chanting japa under the trees just as much or maybe even more than living in the temple. As long as you stay in places close to the Vaisnavas. Certainly this is what our Mahajanas have done. There are many ways to stay engaged.
    Good luck.
    Jai Radhe! Jai Syam!

  3. Hare Krishna Sudakaran Prabhu,
    I like the way you said “Just go prabhu”. A different take on “Just do it”. Seeing my adventure travel from a KC perspective is exactly what I was thinking about too. I am sure it would be a test as well, to see how far my regulative principles would be examined. I am going to give a small test run for the world travel by doing a 2 week overland trek to Tasmania. Will keep you posted.

    Jai Radhe ! Jai Syam ! Jai Nimai prabhu,
    So far so good. You are motivating me to go as well. In January this year, I undertook a retreat with the devotees into the Australian bushland. The personal highlight of my trip was doing my 16 rounds in the deep woods with no one around…just the gentle breeze. Automatically, I chanted very slowly, clearly and with deep devotion than I would ever do at my home. The entire rounds took me 4 hrs!! oh, what a feeling !
    Also, there is an ISKCON temple just about everywhere in the world I want to go…with the exeception of Turkey, Morocco and Egypt.

    Namaskaram Acintya Prabhu, Hare Krishna!
    – What an idea?! I like it ! Hmmmm. I am going to fix this into my program. Maybe, I can do a few months in select countries with traveling preachers even if they can’t accommodate me for a full year. Hmmmm. Thanks!

    – And very nice to meet a fellow malayalee. And its unfortunate that I missed your association when I was in Mayapur….I was longing for some nice “avial” preparation actually. Perhaps, next time ! Pankanjanghri Prabhu did ask me to come in Feb 09.

    – And do you have a weblink of the Mayapur International School? Didn’t know there was one there.

    – By the way, I had a friend in school who was so sure that ‘E” is not equal to MC 2(square). What do you say?


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