Goverdhan Parikrama – Meeting people
As I continued my walk around the hill, I bumped into these kids who were playing a sport that was a mix of cricket, soccer and rugby. Plenty of noises and plenty of fighting amongst one another. Some rolled on the ground, another made punching sounds and all were laughing in abundance. I sat and watch them. So much happiness. These days in the cities, the kids are stuck with video games, cafes and movies. But here, the earth was giving them all the toys for their childhood pastimes. And when they saw my camera, there was an instant cheer amongst all ! They ran towards me in full gutso and began to pose, each one begging for their photo to be taken. And when they saw their image on the screen, they had a hearty laugh. They asked me to give them a copy. I hope I remember to give it to them in my next trip. I am reminded of the Krishna Balaram deity at Vrindhavan when I look at the kid in the singlet with his hands on the boy in checked shirt.
After some kilometers, I decided to take a break. I wasn’t tired but I took as much opportunities as possible to sit, observe and contemplate the surroundings and sights around me. Best places to rest would be at the foot of Goverdhan hill, under trees, on bridges, near hidden away temples and important samadhis. One place that will be etched in my mind for a long time will be the above road side tea-shop. It belonged to the above 4 brothers. Can you spot the 4th?
We spoke for about an hour on Krishna, Goverdhan Hill, chanting and how lucky it is to be a brijabasi. They said they were the luckiest because they could see Goverdhan everyday and that they were the sons of the holy soil. And I said that I was just as lucky too because I could chant the names of God everyday, do the parikramas, tell people about Krishna all over the world and meet the brijabasis. In good humor, I said that I was even more lucky. They asked how much I chanted. When they heard that I, like other devotees chanted the 16 names on 108 tulasi beads and 16 rounds equalling 27, 648 per day which equaled 100,915,20 a year, they were shocked! They said, “Why?”. This led the discussion to – why chanting. I began to recollect the many classes that I attended, the japa blog articles, Srila Prabhupad’s instructions etc. I think they found it very interesting. Phew. My first class. That too at Goverdhan. But I told them that I would never be in a position to understand the spontaneous love like the way the locals had. To which they said, “We will pray to Goverdhan that you too get this..”
Woohoo ! I was happy. I have been blessed. After wishing them all the best in their business, asking for their forgiveness and touching the ground close to their feet, I resumed my walk.
Cows. Beautiful ones. I saw many cows on the paths walking without an owner. Perhaps, they were completing the parikrama too ! I did think about the importance of saving cows and how to get people interested all over the world. I feel that we are too passive on this issue. Majority of the Hare Krishna devotees/temples should actively promote Cow Protection the way WSPA, PETA or RSPCA do. They undertake animal protection issues by way of exhibitions, magazines, lectures, advertisements and peaceful demonstrations. We can hand out flyers, put up posters and arrange for lectures to be given at leading universities. Even radios and TV can be used. Maybe, when I come back, I will start with me and see what I can do to create some awareness among the public. Also, many posts ago I had mentioned about the task of visiting dairy farms and trying to convince the farmers, not to give the cows away for slaughter. Perhaps, these farmers can be paid some money for not giving them away. The money would come from devotees in that country who would adopt a cow. The cow would remain in the same farm and the farmer would get recurring income. Just a thought.
This is a man who joined me on the bridge while I took a break. Many people like him travel many many many miles on trains, boats, bus and foot to get to Goverdhan/Vrindhavan. They come and they go. No digital cameras or laptops or flights to catch. They do farming all year around and then once a year, with their family and a good part of their life savings, they visit Krishna’s land. They earn so little and slipping in a Rs. 5 or Rs. 1 into a hundi must be a huge amount for them. Yet they do it with so much love even if it means that they might not have enough money for their next bus ride or dinner.
As soon as I clicked the man’s photo, his wife demanded that I take hers too. That’s her above. As soon as I took hers, her sister wanted one too. The above lady’s main purpose of the trip was to ensure that she took as much care as possible to see that her husband conducted his pilgrimage without any difficulties.
Inspired by all these, I walked faster. A few miles more and I would reach the cool ponds of Radha and Krishna.
To be continued soon….