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Friday, March 21st, 2003

Going to Govardhan
Meditating on a rough ride

Unable to sleep, I wake up early to write. I chant my gayatri and five rounds on my japa mala, and I feel much better. At about eleven o'clock Sanjeev arrives, and he takes me to Russian Embassy. The invitation was supposed to have been telexed to the embassy in Delhi, but they have not received it, so I don't get the visa.

Sanjeev calls Sandeep Prabhu, the manager of the Govardhan Math, who insists that I go not to Vrindavan, but to the Srila Sridhar Swami Seva Ashram at Dasbisa, Govardhan, because Janaki-Vallabha Prabhu is there.

I am not at all keen to go to either of the holy dhams on my own. I am acutely aware that without Gurudeva or a senior Vaishnava to guide me, I will commit so many offenses, physically and mentally to the dham, the dham-basis, and the Vaishnavas.

We return to Sanjeev's office, where he gets me some fresh fruit juice (all I will have today). I leave one suitcase with him for safekeeping, and take my computer bag and a change of cloth with me to the bus terminus. At 2:20 p.m. I board a rickety old Indian bus bound for Govardhan (Rs70). The bus conductor says he will show me where to get off; it's the last stop.

I don't know it yet, but it's a bone-jarring five-hour ride to Govardhan. Along the way the driver stops to fill the tank with diesel, to eat at a restaurant, and to relieve himself. Only in India!

It's getting late, and I'm a little apprehensive: What if Janaki-Vallabha Prabhu is not there to meet me? How will I find my way to the Math? (a challenge made more difficult with the onset of the evening)...

Two weeks ago I was secure with a job and a home; now I am adrift on my own, jobless and homeless, with just the simple saffron cloth that I am wearing, and a single bag with a change of cloth, a laptop computer, and a digital camera.

And my danda, of course. It has taken a little while to get used to carrying it everywhere I go (I have only forgotten it once, briefly) and to its awkward length when traveling by taxi, airplane, and now, the bus.

I meditate on the word "akinchan." I have never been attached to material things, so giving up my job, my apartment (and the contents thereof) was easy. It won't be so easy giving up the tendency to filter everything (including Krishna consciousness!) through my tiny puppy brain (jnane prayasam udapasya) and relying on my own endeavors and expertise.

Srila Gurudeva says, "Sannyas means exclusive service to Radha-Krishna." I meditate on the verse from the Srimad Bhagavatam that he sang when he agreed to give me sannyas:

   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."

I have faith in this sloka, and in my Gurudeva. When Srila Gurudeva gave me the sannyas mantram and this tridanda, he said that the tridanda represented the three deities governing this mundane plane — Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva — and that all the demigods are represented within this tridanda. With their help we will march towards our goal, the spiritual plane.

No longer alone, I clutch my danda with both hands; it is an enormous source of strength to me.

The bus finally arrives in Govardhan, and Janaki-Vallabha Prabhu is there to meet me. Hare Krishna!

He takes me to the Math, shows me to my room, gives me a garland from Sri Giriraj, and offers me some prasadam.
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