Janmastami in Kharkov/Ukraine is always the most blissful event of my entire year. In preparation for the festival I have the opportunity to get absorbed in another mood - not giving lectures, but endeavoring to create a Vrindavan panorama on the altar. I usually go to nature and collect all kinds of flowers, decorative grasses, greenery and other interesting things for the altar decoration. We compose things in such a way that it looks like naturally grown, rather than floristic arrangements. And we don't place things symmetrically on the altar, which once again gives the impression of a window into Vrindavan forest. Some of the boys go to the forest and collect moss and interesting pieces of wood and tree bark, and also stones of all sizes. This year we also had a fountain on the floor in front of the altar - a little Radha Kund. And of course our festival Deities of Radha Syamasundara were the center of attention.
When boarding the plane in Bangalore on the evening of the 10th of August I had a long journey ahead of me: from Bangalore to Mumbai, further to Sharjah/Middle East, and then to Kiev and on to Kharkov. Almost 30 hours. I had only been discharged from the Ayurvedic Clinic one day before, and I was still a little weak after the Panchakarma treatment. But I was determined to reach Kharkov for Janmastami in order to be amongst all those wonderful devotees - as it had been a long standing tradition. For me it is not easy to experience a deep and sweet mood at festivals when being in a part of the world, where thousands of visiters come to the temple. Therefore I prefer to be outside of India or Bangladesh for the main Vaishnava festivals. I had invited Deena Bandhu Prabhu from Vrindavan to spend Janmastami with us, and he was scheduled to arrive on the same day. So I was anxious to reach there.
After the main eight days of detoxifying Panchakarma treatment I received further procedures in order to gradually build up the digestion and strength of my body: five days of Abhyanga - full body massage with medicated oil, and Pichu-Shiro - cotton wool soaked in Brahmi oil being tied on my head. I also had daily Yoga sessions with Dr Aayush, a pleasant Yoga therapist and Naturopath.
I had heard of treatments where oil is poured on one's forehead - apparently it is very relaxing, and I was intrigued to try it out. When I asked Dr Vivekanand whether I could have this treatment, he responded: "We don't have enough time - it would be a waste of medicine to do it." I was taken aback, and my immediate response was "Well, I am paying for it!" But he further elaborated with a smile: "A lot of medicated oil is required for this treatment, and usually we use the same oil over many days. Medicine should never be wasted - doesn't matter who pays for it!"
Already after the first Chemo in May I had played with the idea to spend some time in an Ayurvedic Center before returning to Europe after the Chemo would be over. Devotees had told me about the I-AIM Ayurvedic Healthcare Center, and I had spoken to HH Bhakti Rasamrta Maharaja on the phone who had been there twice, and he highly recommended me this clinic. One morning I went to have a look at it, since it is only 30 minutes' drive from Anadi Jagannath Prabhu's home, where I was staying at the time. I immediately liked the mood, atmosphere and set-up - simple and clean, not commercially orientated, and connected to a University. I also met with Dr Vivekanand, the senior doctor of the clinic. He seemed a very experienced, trustworthy and thoughtful person, and I immediately connected well with him. So I settled for the idea to come out here for a two-week Panchakarma treatment, one week after my last Chemo. We fixed the dates and I booked the best room - on the top floor at the end of the corridor, with two large windows giving a beautiful view onto the gardens behind the house and the neigboring forests and nature reserves.
Devaki Devi Dasi's Traveling Diary
Devaki Devi Dasi is sharing her realizations and adventures in her Traveling Diary. Welcome to relish this nectar!