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Sunday, 23rd March, 2003

Around Govardhan
And into Vrindavan

Janaki-Vallabha Prabhu has promised his compatriot, Krishna Kanta Devi, who is recovering from a bone-marrow transplant in Italy, that he will circumambulate Govardhan Hill on her behalf.

I have been on the Govardhan parikrama once before, in 1995, but I want to do it again. As a new sannyasi I need all the help and blessings that I can get.

In the morning, as soon as it gets light, we set out, accompanied by two Russian devotees. We begin at the Harideva temple where Mahaprabhu went after taking sannyas and coming to Vrindavan.

It's a little after one o'clock when we leave Radha Kunda, and now the sand along the roadside is hot — very hot. Each step burns the soles of my feet, and the soft, dry, powdery sand puffs through my toes and around my foot to burn the tops of my feet as well.

The older Russian devotee, Rasangi didi takes a bicycle rickshaw the rest of the way. I would like to join her, but I don't think it would look very dignified... When we eventually get back to the ashram, I soak my feet in bucket of cold water.

I'm feeling much better when we leave for Vrindavan late that afternoon. The four of us pile awkwardly into one of those tiny scooter-taxi contraptions. I sit half in and half out of the scooter, clutching my danda, trying not to fall out. The ride through the rural landscape is pleasant on the eye though, and more than makes up for any discomfort.

When we arrive at Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math and Mission at Sevakunj, Vrindavan, we are ushered to our rooms upstairs, on the third floor, by Purnananda Prabhu. When I am settled in my room, Janaki-Vallabha Prabhu brings me some bottled water and some grapes.

We come downstairs for the darshan of Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Gandharva Rasa Biharijiu, and attend the arati. After tulasi-puja, we are given maha-prasadam, which consists of some delicious exotic fruit that I am unable to identify.

The lights go out a few times, during the arati and during prasadam, but like Arjuna, I keep eating.

Janaki-Vallabha and I will leave for Delhi very early tomorrow morning. I have to go to the Russian embassy; he has to go to the Italian embassy. We get news that Srila Gurudeva will fly to Delhi on Tuesday and then go to Govardhan.
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