Part 1 : The setting
Probably will go down in the history of my insignificant life as the best weekend I have ever had. It was fantastic ! While many of my friends and work mates decided to stay at home to enjoy the long weekend break (Monday was a public holiday here) and also to avoid the harsh weather reported (rain, heavy cold winds) , I decided to venture out. I would be spending 3 days with 120 odd Melbourne devotees, His Grace Bhurijana prabhu and HG Jagattarini mataji at the New Nandagram farm of ISKCON Melbourne temple. This would be my first set of classes with these 2 exalted devotees. I had heard so much about the pair, that I immediately decided to go when I first heard about it few months ago. Luckily, I got a place before it ran out.
The New Nandagram Farm is about 60 miles and took us about 2 hours to get there. All devotees had arranged their own cars and rides from the city. The farm, as I had written before in previous posts last year, is calm and beautiful. One good reason to have classes here is that there are no distractions. Once you are here, you are basically locked in for a few days. No mobile phones, no Internet, no outside world. It’s just trees, grass, fresh clean air, devotees, gurus, prasad, Gaura Nitai and Sri Radha Krishna. The farm has their own cows, accommodation facilities as well as a nice and small temple. As devotees, what more could we ask for.
It had already drizzled on Friday night. And perhaps, few days in the past as well. On arrival one could see the fresh grass making its way out of the ground, the smell of fresh soil was there and the wind was getting a bit cold. But still as far as the eyes and nose were concerned, it was tranquility everywhere. And everyone looked absolutely happy to be there. Happiness begets happiness. Some devotees went for a walk, others started to set the rooms up and I decided to look around.
Not sure why or perhaps I didn’t explore enough, but these were the only two flowers I could find to photograph at the farm. There were plenty of trees, bush and grass all around but couldn’t find many wild flowers. As I took the photo, I was thinking to myself, “2 yellow flowers, like Gaurasundara and Nityananda“. And these flowers were just outside the temple room. Speaking about our dear Gaura Nitai, even they decided to attend in full force. They came in many numbers !
WoW, I say ! There were another 2 but I forgot to take Their pictures. Like me, many others were surprised and delighted to see many Gaura Nitai’s all over the altar. People gazed for a long time from one deity set to another. I was also inspired to have one for myself. One day, I shall. But that “one day” is a long way away from me now. Lot’s to improve in my devotional service. That’s one of the things you learn from such weekend getaways with devotees. You get to see the depth of their devotion and the progress each one has made. Truly inspiring.
Srila Prabhupad was there too, looking all wrapped up in wollens, warm and cozy. He looked the most motivated, happiest and raring to go ahead with the 3 days of program !
I love altar set-ups. And this new one at the farm was thrilling. It was big and draped in beautiful blue, violet and burgundy silk cloth. Nice choice of colors. Although it was bright, it really went well with all the Gaura Nitai deities and candles. Beautiful flower garlands and petals were there as well along with fragrant incense.
The entire setting outside and inside the farm house was perfect. Everyone appreciated all the efforts put in. We were ready. May the class, prayers and honouring prasadam begin !