Soquel, California — Friday, December 24th

More mail

And still the email in response to my recent A strong recovery blog continues to fill my mailbox. From Russia, the Ukraine, Siberia, and even, unexpectedly, from Turkey:

...We are indebted to you for the flow of vivid and enlivening news about our Srila Gurudeva.

Swarup Prabhu, from Zaporizhzhya in the Ukraine, informs me that he translates many of my blogs into Russian and emails them to interested devotees in the Ukraine, Russia, and Siberia. He says the response to the "A strong recovery" blog was tremendous. Referring to my follow-up Mailstorm blog, Swarup Prabhu writes: "Mailstorm — huh! What about mail storm from the Russian region?"

Here is a sample of some of the email from the Ukraine (Kiev, Donets'k, Zaporizhzhya), Russia (Moscow, St. Petersburg, Murmansk, Smolensk, Habarovsk, Balakovo) and Siberia (Novosibirsk, Tomsk) that Swarup Prabhu forwarded to me. "This," he says, "is the real mail storm!"

...The "Strong Recovery" article is not just touching, but extremely affecting...

...Thank you so much for you translating the new Akinchan Maharaj impressions... I was enraptured by his expressions while reading... his bright impressions, subtle, accurate observations, firsthand participation, and anxiety in his service to Srila Gurudeva not only inspires us, but also gives us the opportunity to feel a live connection with all these events. Also, it gives the opportunity to worry and feel what is going on there, which allows us — at a particular level of consciousness — to more personally perceive Sri Guru, his entourage, and his mission.

...Thanks for the new and always wonderful impressions of Sripad Akinchan Maharaj. They are full of subtle joyous humor, poetry, sincerity, peculiar modesty, maybe even reserve, and very deep, substantial respect! It is amazing that in these small and simple descriptions (from the external understanding), with the help of your translations, I can feel such a close connection with Srila Gurudeva and his exalted devotees.

...These articles about Akinchan Maharaj's meetings and association with Srila Gurudeva are so sweet.... It is amazing how open he is, explaining everything in such a simple and understandable way that I think that I know him much more personally.

...I impressed by the humility and selflessness of Akinchan Maharaj; he does this not out of duty, but because of personal attachment and devotion to Srila Gurudeva — that is why his articles are so inspiring. This is very alive service, not only to Srila Gurudeva, but also to all the devotees who read this. It is alive preach about how to serve properly...

Yikes! That so many devotees would actually find my blogs worth reading — what to speak of inspiring! — is truly surprising, and genuinely humbling.

I always forget that my blog is now much more widely read than I generally suppose it to be. As I said last July, in Turkey, "When I started this blog, its primary purpose was to inform family and friends where I was, what I was doing, and what was on my mind."

Now, the iMonk site averages about 100 unique visitors a day, and on days when my blog is linked to from the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math web site, I get 300-400 hits.

Although it certainly is flattering, it's hard to get too conceited knowing that web traffic to my site is increasing, because that has never been my goal. I still write my blogs the way I always did: to share my thoughts with friends and family, and to let them know where I am and what I am doing.

Every now and then I try to share a special moment — usually a unique incident that has affected me in a profound way — with these few people. More often than not it is something that Srila Gurudeva has said or done that has given me a new perspective, deepened my angle of vision, or forced me to look at the world in a new, or novel way.

I take particular pains not to be too "preachy." I have more than enough trouble trying to maintain my own spiritual life, such as it is, and who has time for the persnickety pedantry of a pompous preacher?

Of course, it has to be intimidating, and even a little scary, knowing that so many devotees are reading what I write ("Everything you say will be googled and used against you!"). And it is not just devotees who read what I write: sometimes I get linked to by other bloggers.

All this — plus the knowledge that some of my blogs are translated into Russian, Turkish, and Spanish — will no doubt affect my writing, but I think that if I continue to write for those few people that I originally began writing for, I won't get too pretentious...

Soquel, California — Tuesday, December 28th

Vyasa Puja

Today we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the divine appearance of our beloved Srila Gurudeva, His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad Sri Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj.

Srila Gurudeva, we are so happy that you are here with us today. Our reprehensible plight was more difficult for you to bear than your own physical suffering, so you left India four months ago to mercifully grace us with your holy presence, and give us the opportunity to redeem ourselves by serving you and your intimate servitors.

Recently, just to increase our dedication and service, you became gravely ill. We were all so selfishly anxious that you would leave us to enter into your nitya lila — your eternal, personal pastimes with Srila Guru Maharaj — but you have graciously extended your stay in this plane just for our benefit, to give us the opportunity to purify ourselves by serving you in the association of your senior devotees.

You made us realize how helpless we are without you, and how much we take Your Divine Grace for granted. Thank you for the wake-up call. We pray that, by your grace, we may properly utilize this "borrowed time" to rededicate ourselves and again immerse ourselves in the beautiful conception of Krishna consciousness that inspires everyone who serves you and your devotees.

Although we know, theoretically, that you are always with us, we are not advanced enough to have any practical experience of that, so we thank you for being here with us today, where we can see you, and try to properly honor and serve you.

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