Bamunpara, India — Monday, December 15th
Bamunpara & Nadanghat
Early in the morning, after the aratis, we pile into the seven buses that Acharya Maharaj has chartered for the pilgrimage to Bamunpara, the little village near Navadwip, where Srila Gurudeva was born.
This is an annual pilgrimage that takes place on the day after Srila Gurudeva's Vyasa Puja, and since I've never been in India for His Divine Grace's birthday (which we celebrated yesterday), this is my first visit to his birthplace.
On the way to Bamunpara, we stop at the house in Nadanghat (about 7 miles/12 km from Navadwip and 9 miles/15 km from Bamunpara) where Srila Gurudeva lived when he worked as a doctor's assistant in the dispensary, shortly before he met the devotees from the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, and came to the lotus feet of Srila Guru Maharaj in 1947.
After breakfast in Nadanghat, we arrive at the beautiful temple and ashram in Bamunpara, where we jostle our way through a narrow alley to the little room where Srila Gurudeva was born. (With seven busloads of pilgrims, it's push or be pushed! And don't feel sorry for the skinny little old Indian ladies — they have the sharpest elbows of all! :)
Everybody then returns to the temple for a big kirtan, an even bigger arati (with a 108-wick lamp), and a huge prasadam feast (which most of the local villagers attend), and we return to Navadwip in the late afternoon, tired but happy.
Ekachakra, India — Tuesday, December 16th
Nityananda Prabhu's mercy
Acharya Maharaj has arranged for us to go on another pilgrimage today (just two buses of mostly Western devotees this time), to Nityananda Prabhu's birthplace, Ekachakra, about 35 miles/60 km away.
It's a four-hour bumpy bus ride, but Janardan Maharaj and I travel with Acharya Maharaj in the Tata Sumo (SUV), so it's not so bad. The temple built on the spot where Nityananda Prabhu was born is closed by the time we get there (1:30 p.m.), so after kirtan and a parikrama of some of the other related holy sites, we take prasadam (kichuri) on the grounds of our recently acquired land, and watch the construction of our new four-storey guesthouse.
When the temple on Nityananda Prabhu's birth site reopens and we all go in to offer our obeisances, I remember this passage from Srila Guru Maharaj's Sermons of the Guardian of Devotion III:
By the grace of Nityananda Prabhu we can receive the grace of Mahaprabhu.... When I came... to take my permanent residence here at this aparadha-bhanjan-pat in Koladwip, I thought, "I am going to take my shelter in Navadwip Dham permanently, but since Nityananda Prabhu is Dhamesvara, the Master of the Dham, before going to Mahaprabhu's birthplace I must first visit Nityananda Prabhu's birthplace at Ekachakra and beg His permission. If He is propitiated then I may live in Navadwip Dham safely, otherwise it will be impossible."
I thank Nityananda Prabhu for allowing me to come to Navadwip Dham to meet His representative, Srila Guru Maharaj, after His Divine Grace's intercession all those years ago, and I pray that He overlooks my offenses and continues to allow me to come here to try to serve His current representative, Srila Gurudeva.
Layout by iMonk — December 16th, 2008.