Calcutta, India — Wednesday, June 9th

Listening to the rain

It must be sometime after midnight; I can't tell. It's pitch black outside; I can't see a thing. I listen to the falling rain outside my window; it is raining quite hard, by the sound of it.

The rain hisses on the marble tile around the temple and nat-mandir on the ground two floors below; the runoff from the pipes on the ledge around the domes on the temple roof makes a more high-pitched splatter; and closer, louder, the rain tattoos the canopy of leaves of the trees and bigger scattered drops of rain tumble off the leaves and clatter onto the cheap plastic corrugated roof on the house next door.

There must be a bit of wind because occasionally the xylophone-like wind chimes on the veranda of the ladies ashram tinkle together pleasantly.

The rainy season is well and truly upon us now, I think, as I succumb to the soothing lullaby and drift back to sleep once more...

Calcutta, India — Saturday, June 12th

Surprise visitor

We had a pleasant surprise yesterday: my compatriot, Premasindhu Prabhu, the leader of the South African mission and president of the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Seva Ashram in Johannesburg unexpectedly arrived here in Calcutta late the night before.

We last saw Premasindhu Prabhu during the Gaura Purnima festival earlier this year in March, in Nabadwip. Srila Gurudeva is very pleased to see him again, although a little disappointed that he is only staying for two days, and would be leaving today.

Last time this year, Sripad Goswami Maharaj and I were touring South Africa, visiting Premasindhu Prabhu in Johannesburg and the other devotees in the Durban and Pietermaritzburg area. Srila Gurudeva invites Premasindhu Prabhu to again "take some devotees from here if I cannot go myself."

Srila Gurudeva says, "the mood of Premasindhu is very sweet," and embraces him warmly when he leaves.

Calcutta, India — Monday, June 14th

Sriyukta Rama Devi

Yesterday was yogini-ekadasi. Today, the day after (dvadasi) is the anniversary of the disappearance of Srila Guru Maharaj's beloved sister, Sriyukta Rama Devi. Srila Govinda Maharaj recalls:

"She was not only Srila Guru Maharaj's sister, but she also took initiation from him. It is her disappearance day today. She was very affectionate to everyone, especially to me.

"Our relationship was very close, because when I was just a seventeen-year-old boy and joined Srila Guru Maharaj's mission, Srila Guru Maharaj first called her, and said: 'Come and see this boy. Will he be a devotee, or not?' [Laughs.] 'How does he look?'

"And Rama didi, not entering into the room, said from the doorway: 'I am feeling nice to see that boy.' That was her first comment. 'My feeling is very nice to see this boy.'

"So many waves in my life have gone, but at all times Rama didi was with me, and she was very merciful and affectionate to me. She always used to ask me: 'Who will look after me when I am an invalid?'

"I used to say, 'I shall look after you if nobody looks after you, don't worry.' So lastly she lived in the Math. I gave her one room, and she lived there until she died.

"Guru Maharaj and Krishna were very merciful and kind to her, when she left her body..."

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