Radha Kund, West Bengal pushkarinis

Just came back from Radha Kund. I had an absolutely ecstatic bath, I even swam across and back. The water is clear and cleaner than I have seen in a long time, despite the flowers floating everywhere. Sure miss those turtles though.

This will give you an idea. This photo picked from Himalayan Tramp blog.

It brought back old memories of pukurs in West Bengal. I used to get up at four or earlier when I lived in Nabadwip, and I would walk the empty and ill-lit streets to Rani Ghat, which in those days was still nothing more than a stretch of beach. I would sing prayers all the way there and back, and even though the current was strong and it was dark, I would usually swim a little.

But when I went somewhere, to give path or to go on pilgrimage, if the village had a pukur, it was always a glorious opportunity. I made friends with a Gosai, a descendant of one of Nityananda's associates, Parameshwari Thakur. And his village of Antpur was really a magnificent old Bengali village, barely touched by the modern world, with slowly crumbling red brick zamindar mansions.  But with a fantastic coconut and tal lined pukur.

But that wasn't as good as the one at the house he had in Hooghly, which is where he really lived, because he was an accountant by trade in Howrah somewhere. He would have been completely lost to the Vaishnava tradition if it wasn't for the Nitai Gaur Radhe Shyam devotees. He invited me a few times on the occasion of Parameshwari Thakur's annual festival, since I knew him through Hridayananda Dasji who would sing the suchak kirtan and lead the 24-hour nam yajna.

At the house in Hooghly, you could step a few feet outside the door and dive into a crystal clear lake filled with lotus flowers and surrounded by tagore bushes dropping their copious white stars into the water. It must have been the hot season when I was there, because I must have bathed three or four times a day.

And what to speak of the pukur at Ekachakra! Padma dighi, long and narrow. I would get up in the brahma muhurta and go practically running the hundred meters or so to dive in and exhaust myself doing the butterfly and breaststrokes. You got to keep moving or the fish come and nibble...

And then there was that year I spent Karttik at Tin Kori Baba's ashram at Radha Kund, just a tumbledown brick hut, really. Baba was downstairs and a bunch of us were crowded into a freezing drafty second floor room.

I couldn't help myself. I would get up cold and shivering, and I had to take my bath in the Kund. I would go, teeth chattering down the steps and stand alone in the dark, jumping up and down doing jumping jacks to warm myself up, and then I would just dive into Shri Kund, so disrespectful, so lacking in devotion! No wonder Radharani won't let me stay there!

Today the sun was bright and it is the hot season in full swing. I arrived at ten o'clock and the Kund was full of boys playing! They were jumping off Jahnava's baithak and shouting like the kids in a municipal swimming pool on a hot holiday in Canada. I couldn't help myself. For the first time in what seems like years, I swam across and back, rolled and floated in the sun.


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