Navadwip, West Bengal, India — Saturday, March 11th

A new sannyasi

Things do indeed move fast in the dham! Early on Thursday morning, out of the blue, Sri Govinda Prabhu requested sannyas initiation from Srila Gurudeva. His Divine Grace said that he would think about it...

I thought that it might be a few months before Srila Gurudeva made a decision, but a few hours later I heard that Paramahamsa Maharaj was looking for Sri Govinda Prabhu, and when I informed Sri Govinda Prabhu, he said that he had already seen Paramahamsa Maharaj — who had wanted to measure him for a danda!

I am very happy for him; we have seen each other in the United States, England and India over the last two decades, but we have never really talked much. Since he arrived from London a few days ago, however, we have become good friends. "You've got to be careful what you ask for!" I josh, digging him playfully in the ribs.

This morning, on the auspicious disappearance day of Sri Madhavendra Puri, Srila Gurudeva gives the sannyas mantra to Sri Govinda Prabhu, conferring upon him the name Bhakti Vigraha Nyasi Maharaj — the Divine Form of the Vaishnava sannyasi.

Navadwip, West Bengal, India — Tuesday, March 14th

Gaura Purnima

This is the fourth consecutive year that I have had the good fortune to celebrate Gaura Purnima — the divine appearance day of the Golden Lord, Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu — in the association of Srila Gurudeva and the thousands of Vaishnava pilgrims from all over the world who annually come here to the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math on the banks of the sacred Ganges River in Navadwip Dham, India.

We fast until moonrise, but nobody minds because it is a wonderful day filled with aratis, pujas, recitations from Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita and the constant chanting of the Lord's holy names throughout the day. In the early evening, just before moonrise, Srila Gurudeva comes down to the temple to speak about the glories of Mahaprabhu's appearance and to sing all thirty-six verses of the Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita (Adi Lila, 13:89–124) extolling the Lord's birth, in a strong, clear voice.

Later that evening, after we have broken our fast, Srila Gurudeva rides his scooter through the jam-packed crowd to the Seva Ashram building on the banks of Govinda kunda to watch the spectacular fireworks show (arranged by Ranajit Prabhu) at the other side of the kunda.

It is truly a fantastic fireworks display. Everybody oohs and aahs, and Srila Gurudeva so thoroughly enjoys the show that he does not return to his veranda until the show ends, two hours later, at ten-thirty!

What a dazzling end to a magnificent day!

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Layout by iMonk — March 14th, 2006.