Calcutta, India — Wednesday, March 16th

As we were

After flying for almost thirty hours — from San Francisco, to Taipei, to Bangkok — Janardan Maharaj and I land at the Calcutta airport, and are met by Mahananda Prabhu and Narayan Maharaj (from Mauritius).

On the way to the Math in Dum Dum Park, Mahananda Prabhu tells us that Srila Gurudeva arrived safely from London this morning. A little over six months ago, I flew to San Francisco just a few hours after Srila Gurudeva left Calcutta to begin his 21st World Tour; today, I arrive in Calcutta from San Francisco just a few hours after His Divine Grace returns at the end of his tour...

At the Math, we climb the stairs up to Srila Gurudeva's quarters to offer our obeisances. Srila Gurudeva looks good, considering all the traveling he has had to do this past week.

Seeing Srila Gurudeva in the familiar setting of his veranda in Calcutta — sitting behind his desk, attended by Ranajit Prabhu, Gopal Prabhu, Jamuna Devi Dasi, and Goswami Maharaj — I have a sudden, surreal notion that I have just awoken from a fantastic dream...

Did we really all go to California for six months, I wonder, or did I just doze off for a few minutes?

Navadwip, West Bengal, India — Sunday, March 20th

Return to Navadwip

After breakfast this morning, at 7:30, we follow Srila Gurudeva, in two taxis, to Navadwip. It has been a year since Srila Gurudeva has been in Navadwip, and most of the devotees who have come for this year's Gaura Purnima festival have not seen Srila Gurudeva since he returned to India, after six months abroad, on Wednesday.

The journey, which can sometimes take over four hours, depending on the condition of the roads, is surprisingly quick: a little over two hours. This is because large sections of the road have been resurfaced, "like American roads," Srila Gurudeva says :)

Everybody is very happy to see Srila Gurudeva after such a long time, and after guru puja and a short darshan in the nat mandir, Srila Gurudeva retires to his quarters.

Navadwip, West Bengal, India — Monday, March 21st

Navadwip parikrama begins

Today is Gaura-ekadasi: the day the parikrama (circumambulation) of Sri Navadwip Dham begins. Srila Gurudeva comes down to Srila Guru Maharaj's samadhi mandir early in the morning, during mangala arati, to lead the kirtan and begin the parikrama.

We had thought that Srila Gurudev would come to Navadwip later in the week, but he insisted on coming yesterday, the adhivas festival day, so that he could be here this morning to lead the parikrama to the Math's main gate, as he does every year.

Although Srila Gurudeva is still a little tired and weak from his flight from London earlier this week and the car ride from Calcutta to Navadwip yesterday, his strong sense of duty will not allow him to shirk his responsibilities, and so — clutching my arm for support — he slowly leads the thousands of pilgrims in the parikrama around Srila Guru Maharaj's samadhi mandir and the temple of Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Gandharva Govindasundarjiu...

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