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Monday, March 17th, 2003

Forty-Five Minutes
Things move fast in the dham!

I'm in a hurry today; I have to try to get a Russian visa so that I can accompany Sripad Bhakti Sudhir Goswami on his lecture tour of Moscow, St. Petersburg, Smolensk, Siberia and the Ukraine, and I must get to the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math in Navadwip Dham tonight so that I can be ready for the big Gaura Purnima festival tomorrow...

With one of the local devotees, Arun Krishna Prabhu, as my interpreter and guide, I take a taxi to try to find the Russian embassy. After riding around for a couple of hours and asking directions about a dozen times, we finally reach the embassy.

The Russian consul is very polite, but explains that he cannot give me a visa because I do not have an invitation from Russia. We ditch the taxi and take the Metro back to the Math.

I call Goswami Maharaj (in Navadwip) to apprise him of the situation. He says to get a taxi to Navadwip; Avadhut Maharaj will make arrangements to have an invitation sent to Kolkata.

We take some prasadam, and just before we leave, I notice a pile of books, wrapped in brown paper, in bundles of ten. One of the bundles is open, and it looks like — it is! — Bhagavat Darshan—Revelation Not Speculation.

This is the book that Srutasrava Prabhu and I had been trying to publish for the pleasure of Srila Govinda Maharaj for the past three months. There have been innumerable delays with the printer. Srutasrava Prabhu was supposed to present the book to His Divine Grace for his Vyasa Puja in December.

Two months ago, after yet another delay at the printer, Srutasrava Prabhu had jokingly said that he hoped it was ready by Gaura Purnima. Now, it seems, I will get the opportunity to present the book to Srila Govinda Maharaj on Gaura Purnima eve...

The taxi takes a little over three hours to get to Navadwip, and when we get there, the streets are crowded with pilgrims; it takes fifteen minutes just to drive from the railway station to the Math.

At 7:45 p.m. Mahananda Prabhu takes me up to see Srila Govinda Maharaj. I offer my dandavats and my obeisances to the other senior sannyasis present: Goswami Maharaj, Janardan Maharaj, Ashram Maharaj, Giri Maharaj, and Avadhut Maharaj. Srila Govinda Maharaj is happy to see me, and even happier when I say:

"On behalf of Srutasrava Prabhu, I would like to present you with this book, Bhagavat Darshan—Revelation Not Speculation."

"I am always happy to receive books," he says, as he pages through the book and remarks on the beauty and quality of the publication.

Just then, the telephone rings. Srila Govinda Maharaj answers it, and after speaking for a while, he puts the phone down and says:

"Now it can be done." Apparently, the way is clear for him to give sannyas to Ananga Krishna Prabhu.

Goswami Maharaj, sitting behind me, gets all excited and says, "Maharaj, you always give sannyas in two's."

Janardan Maharaj, also excited, sits down next to me, looks me in the face, smiles mischievously, and says, "Yes, but he has to ask."

Srila Govinda Maharaj, happy, begins singing:

   etam sa asthaya paratma-nistam
   adhyasitam purvatamair maharsibhih
   aham tarisyami duranta-param
   tamo mukundanghri-nisevayaiva

"I shall cross over the unconquerable ocean of ignorance by being firmly fixed in the service of the lotus feet of Krishna. This was approved by the previous acharyas, who were fixed in firm devotion to the Lord."

Then, the fabric of time must have stretched, or something, because things started to blur as time accelerated... I vaguely remember something about Paramahamsa Maharaj making two dandas, Avadhut Maharaj supplying two sets of cloth, a fire yajna the day after Gaura Purnima, and the next thing I know, Bhakti Kanan Giri Maharaj is smiling at me and saying:

"So it's settled. You will take sannyas the day after tomorrow!"

I look at my watch: it is only 8:30 p.m. Forty-five minutes after my arrival at the Math, all the arrangements have been made for me to take sannyas!

Things move pretty fast in the dham...
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