Meanwhile a lot of devotees from all around the world had arrived to spend the Kartik month here.
It was not easy to find a little spot in the temple room during Mangal artik and other temple programs. I quickly developed a certain routine how I would move around the temple room, and I discovered that the best spot for darshan was indeed near the pillar in the back of the temple room facing Sri Sri Krsna Balaram - from there one could also see Radha Syamasundara as well. Often I had to squeeze into the crowds to get there and could only see Their Lordships when standing on the very tips of my toes.
The pastime with Mahaprabhu came to my mind, where one old lady is climbing His shoulders in order to take darshan of Lord Jagannath....
This has become my favorite place for chanting in the mornings.....
On my previous short visit the idea had come to my mind to offer a seminar while being here in Vrindavan. I had spoken to the devotee in charge of coordinating the classes, and he had welcomed me on the schedule for four days during the morning, from 11am to 1pm. I had chosen the topic of
"Death - Our Final Challenge" since it is a most suitable subject for the Kartik season. Srila Prabhupada had set the perfect example to us of how to leave this world....
Of course most devotees had come to Vrindavan to go out on Parikrama with various great sadhus - Radhanath Swami was here with a large group of devotees, and also BB Govinda Swami and Indradyumna Swami, just to mention a few.
Nevertheless, a nice group of around thirty to fourty devotees gathered every day in the Balarama Hall to attend the discussions on our final exam, and more devotees were listening to it over the radio and internet, and it was well received and appreciated.
Some devotees also came to meet me privately, and I had the opportunity to establish new relationships and serve devotees from parts of the world where I usually don't visit.
Nanda Maharaja Prabhu, the Vice President of Chandigarh temple had eagerly participated in the seminar, and he requested me to give a little program for around 25 student girls who would be coming to visit Vrindavan after a few days. I happily agreed to this suggestion, and we had a lively discussion on the upstairs veranda outside Prabhupada's quarters.
Nanda Maharaja Prabhu urged me to visit their temple some time in the future, and once again I felt very encouraged to spend more time in India for preaching. New preaching fields are always opening up....!
HH Bhakti Purusottama Swami had given his blessings to the idea, adding with a smile: "You can spend less days in Bangladesh, but the same amount of energy...!"
I also met with Prabhavisnu Prabhu - for the first time since he had stepped down from all positions and titles. I visited him in his ashram behind the ISKCON temple, and we had a two hour conversation sharing what has been going on in our lives.
It was a very relaxed and harmonious meeting, connecting from soul to
soul - simply as friends who had been serving together and each other for many years.....
I expressed my gratitude for everything he had done for me, sharing that he had been the perfect Guru for me during some part of my life, mainly during the period of my grhastha ashram. I certainly would not even be serving in Bangladesh today if it wasn't for him....!
He shared some thoughts and experiences of his preaching in Thailand and expressed how he feels very comfortable there in regards to the climate and the lush and green surroundings. He has a group of brahmacaris from Russia with him who are traveling and distributing books. He might in the future arrange for a center suitable for holding retreats there, since the atmosphere seems very conducive and peaceful for such programs.
I shared some thoughts and experiences on the Holy Name Retreats I have been conducting and invited him to attend the retreat we have sceduled in Nepal in February next year. He was genuinely interested in the idea, exclaiming: "Sounds like just what I need....!" I was touched by his humility, showing interest in attending a retreat his former disciple would conduct....
When looking at his calendar he realized that the dates were clashing with another program in Thailand, but we kept the idea in mind for another time.
Then Bhakti Rasamrta Swami spoke about the importance of cow protection. He told a sweet little story which touched my heart: one day on an agricultural exhibition a representative from the Indian government was offering loans to the farmers, so that they could invest into a tractor and would not have to work with bulls any longer. He was trying to get their interest by saying that they would be able to produce so much more and thus make so much more profit. One very simple farmer was not in the slightest interested in this offer, and the Minister was almost offended, inquiring why he would not want to take advantage of such a generous offer. The farmer gave a good answer, which left the Minister lost for words: "Because a tractor can't love me....!"
The Minister was speechless, turned around and walked off....
Traditionally cows are considered to be a very valuable part of the family, and people have an affectionate relationship with these family members, which a tractor cannot replace....
I decided to join the big kirtan program at the temple of Sri Sri Radha Gokulananda, where Indradyumna Swami with Bada Haridas and Madhava Prabhus were chanting. Many devotees were gathered here, most of them coming from Russia and Ukraine but also from Australia and New Zealand.
Then I quickly made my way back to Krsna Balarama Mandir and caught the very end of the program here - the distribution of the Govardhana Hill prasadam.
The Deities looked so splendidly dressed for the occasion, and the devotees were in a blissful mood.
A few days later all the devotees gathered for Prabhupada's disappearance. Already in the evenings leading up to this event we could attend Prabhupada Katha spoken by various disciples of Srila Prabhupada.
On the auspicious day the big new Prasadam Hall - the Krsna Hall was wonderfully decorated and transformed into a beautiful venue to hear the glorifications and rememberances of many disciples of Srila Prabhupada, followed by an abishek.
In the late afternoon Prabhupada's house was opened for darshan. His personal quaters with his bed where he had left this world was so beautifully decorated with flowers - simply amazing! An ocean of flowers, arranged in love and devotion.....!
On the 8th of November I flew off to Dhaka/Bangladesh....
Your servant, Devaki dd