Soquel, California — Sunday, October 31st

On top of the world

Srila Gurudeva has expressed two desires in the two months that he has been here: one is the desire to see one of the many timid and elusive deer here at the ashram, and the other is to go to the top of the hill to see the ocean.

These wishes have remained unfulfilled because the timid deer usually only come out at night, and Srila Gurudeva is unable to climb the steep, narrow, grassy footpath to the top of the hill. Many years ago, on previous visits, Srila Gurudeva was able to walk to the top, but now his health is not so good.

There is not much that we can do about the deer, but Hasyapriya Prabhu decided to fulfill the desire of Srila Gurudeva by creating a four-foot wide zigzag path from the dirt road above the orchard all the way to the top of the hill, so that Srila Gurudeva can ride his scooter to the summit.

Huh? Oh, I never did tell you about Srila Gurudeva's scooter, did I?

Sarvabhavana Prabhu rented a remarkable little three-wheel electric scooter for Srila Gurudeva a few weeks ago so that Srila Gurudeva can ride around the ashram without exerting himself. It is an extraordinarily versatile little vehicle that ferries Srila Gurudeva everywhere — inside, outside, on the road, or in the rough — with ease.

Every day, for ten days, Hasyapriya Prabhu, along with Iswara-Prasad Prabhu, Chinmoydev Prabhu, Gaura-Nataraj Prabhu and many of the other devotees here at the Seva Ashram chiseled the rocks, dug up the black earth, raked it flat, and tamped it down to create a winding road up the side of the hill for the scooter.

By the middle of the afternoon, Srila Gurudeva's new road — complete with an eponymous Via Govinda signpost — is ready. Srila Gurudeva rides up to the orchard in his "candy apple red" scooter, and, followed by a crowd of cheering devotees, inaugurates the new road by driving slowly and carefully up the hill.

Finally, huffing and puffing, we all reach the top of the hill. Srila Gurudeva alights from the scooter, walks up to the barbed wire fence on the eastern perimeter of the ashram, and surveys the panoramic scene.

The view from the top is magnificent! There is not a single cloud in the sky; none of the assembled devotees can remember ever seeing such a clear day. You can see the Pacific Ocean in the east, and all the way across the bay to Monterey in the north; even the white sand of the beach along the Monterey Peninsula is distinctly visible.

Looking down the hill to the west, over the tops of the giant two-hundred-foot eucalyptus trees, you can see the tiny trees in the orchard (fenced off to keep the deer out) and the top of the temple roof far below. The long asphalt driveway descends from the big red barn, past Srila Govinda Maharaj's cottage nestling against the side of the hill below the eucalyptus trees, and slopes past the temple and down to the main road that runs next to the stream, discerned only by the lush, verdant growth along the riparian corridor at the bottom of the beautiful Seva Ashram.

Srila Gurudeva is very pleased, and thanks all the devotees for making the road possible. Now if only a deer would step out of the edge of the forest, this wonderful day will be complete...

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Layout by iMonk — October 31st, 2004.