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Wednesday, September 24th, 2003

Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Family Values

Leaving everything behind

Early in the evening, Mahananda Prabhu and I go to the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose domestic airport (who thinks decides on these airport names anyway?) here in Kolkata to meet Srutasrava Prabhu's family — Sanatani Devi Dasi, Sarvananda Prabhu (16), Nilamani Prabhu (11), and Devaki Devi Dasi (9) — who arrived from San Jose, California, and will be staying here in India for some time.

The last time I saw Srutasrava Prabhu's family was a little over six months ago — when they were seeing me off at the San Francisco airport on the day that I left California to come to India to take sannyas from Srila Gurudeva — so this is the first time that they are seeing me in my sannyas robes.

It takes a while to get used to change — the kids still call me Lalit! — and uncertainty about the future can make one fearful, but you wouldn't know it by looking at these guys. Even the long trip cannot get them down: they are energetic and exuberant.

Nilamani and Devaki have been to India before (in 1998) but this is the first time that Sarvananda (Shuggie) is visiting India. Srutasrava Prabhu will arrive early next month, after wrapping up things in America.

It is a big step — a courageous leap into the unknown for most of the family. You have to admire their courage: giving up their home, their jobs, and their lives in America to come and live and serve Srila Gurudeva in India.

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