Sunday, July 01, 2012

Where's the monsoon? I want my monsoon!


More than two months now of daily max temperatures, officially, at between 45 and 47. I don't check every day, but today just seemed hotter than ever. Yesterday was ekadashi and I did the Vrindavan panchakosi parikrama. I left at 4.30 when the sun was still high and the temperature hot. I forgot to take water with me or to wet the gamcha I wrapped around my head, so by the time I got to Keshi Ghat I was beginning to heat up pretty badly.

The water looked fairly clean, for which I think Chandi Heffner should be thanked, and I immediately descended the steps and dipped multiple times. I may well have gone in even if it was gutter water, that was the state I was in, but by Chandi's grace, the bath was experienced as truly sacred and refreshing. Since I bathed fully clothed... not that fully clothed means much in this case, I am pretty much down to my old babaji uniform, a piece of torn cloth for a bahirvasa, another as an uttariya. Kaupin and nothing else. Gamcha wrapped around my head. In this heat, naked or just a kaupin to cover one's modesty seem to be the best option.

So, refreshed by my bath and with my clothes successfully soaked in Yamunaji's sacred spring, I set off again. The Yamuna non-stop kirtan was going on, but this time it was someting special, a group of women doing Hanuma Calisa or something. Anyway, it was a day when my usual curiosity did not rule my actions and I just sped onward. Usually, I sit and do kirtan for a while with the Yamuna Bachao people.

I bought water at the other side of Keshi Ghat where the pontoon bridge is. There are now at least a dozen shops there, where only a year or two ago it seems there were none. But I barely paid attention. I was doing parikrama at Brijvasi pace. Even with the bath, I marched onward.

I did not stop at Tatia Sthan this time. I have been going every parikrama for the past few weeks. The other day I had a great experience there in the mid afternoon. I grabbed an old gunny sack and made an asan for myself and sat in meditation. Just absorbing the quiet.  Somewhere, one of the babas is practising on the harmonium a Haridasi bhajan. The monkeys seem fearless and calm, wandering within inches but without creating any sense of danger, though I still kept my bag and glasses under close surveillance.

There are so many birds who seem to be chattering constantly. I swear that the parrots in Tatia Sthan have developed their vocabulary way beyond what would be their normal range. Since I had recently been going through Govinda-lilamrita, I could almost feel myself in Krishnadas Kaviraja's place in the Braj of the 16th century, hearing the parrots chatter and translating their speech into rasika poetry. At one point, some bird made the usual shrill parrot sound, maybe a danger warning or something. I swear the other parrots started mocking him. "What an unsophisticated speech! Must be a country bumpkin cousin..."

But today, no Tatia Sthan. I do the parikrama without my glasses nowadays. I have nothing to look at any more. I would rather not lose another pair of glasses to those conniving creatures again. You never know how far the science of stuff stealing has spread amongst the banar samaj. I have given up thinking I am outside the danger zone. I was well past Bamshi Bat and Tatia Sthan last time. There were no shops, no people. I had just put on the glasses thinking I was safe, and still a monkey did the pick and went bouncing up into a tree. Some kids showed up and after ten minutes or so retrieved them, but not before the critter had chewed the ends off the plastic temples. Luckily, this time the lenses were left unscratched, by some miracle. The opticians are probably the only Brijbasis who celebrate the monkeys' naughtiness.

Anyway, I dashed on. Completed the whole parikrama in 2 1/2 hours, which is a pretty good time for the 15 km walk. But when I got back, man, my body was in major complaint mode.  I didn't think I could manage, but still gave my Dana-keli-kaumudi class.  In the following 24 hours, though, I had to take extended moments of rest.

Sewak Sharan has been asking me to come and see him, so today I went there in the morning. A man from eastern U.P. was there and Sewak Sharanji was explaining his theories to him. He has been asking me to listen to his ideas about "Vrindavan consciousness" for some time, so I have been going through his website as well as reading all the printed materials he provided me with several moons ago.

One thing that particularly caught my eye was the 1982 manifesto making proposals to conserve the Vrindavan heritage. It was signed by a great number of major spiritual leaders of the time, Akhandananda Saraswati, Uriya Baba, Prabhudatta Brahmachari, Tatia Sthan mahanta Radha Charan Das, Jagannath Prasad Bhaktamali, Sharan Behari Goswami, Shrivatsa Goswami, and many others. Regrettable indeed that the proposals made in that official statement were completely ignored.

Sewak Sharan told me that in about 2001 he gave up actually fighting for Braj conservation. and went into a two-year period of meditation. The result of it was his idea for a universal system based on the natural world, which he calls Vrindavan consciousness. I told him honestly today that I was having a hard time putting in the hours that I need to put into working on Paramatma Sandarbha, especially now that I am giving the daily evening class, which usually lasts more than two hours. But with the time lost to sleep and bhajan, with a constant anxiety about my own personal writing that does not seem to be moving forward, I did not know how much time I would be able to give him, but still it was pleasant to be in his company.

Nearly everything I said, though perhaps inadequately expressed in my crappy Hindi, even though Sewak Sharan's English is quite good, still seemed to meet with agreement. Anyway, I have made a commitment to go to see him regularly and hopefully I will learn something useful.

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