Holi Bearing Down on Us
I feel like Krishna on the eve of the Indra yajna. What's going on?
The goshala has been turned into a multi-stove kitchen. A mountain of giant pots stands in a pool of water, glistening in preparation for the cooking marathon that will fill the next 24 hours. A truckload of vegetables and rice bags and others sacks of raw materials pulled up as I was walking through the courtyard. Tomorrow is the anniversary of Babaji's being awarded the Mahant title by the local sadhu samaj. One of the annual duties of a Mahant s to hold a bhandara for the Vrindavan sadhus. March 18 is the annual date of this event, which for some reason is not determined by tithi. I am predicting that this year there will be more around due to the Kumbha Mela going on at the same time and possibly also because the Bhagavata Niwas situation has been somewhat alleviated and so relations with the Gaudiya samaj have improved for Babaji. One way or another, Babaji's stature is rising, primarily because he is fixed unshakably in his identity and purpose. Holi and Dol Purnima are coming down on us rapidly. I have always marveled how quickly the cold transitions to heat in the spring, and Holi always seems to come just when Vrindavan's legendary hot season is reaching full strength. The intermediate period between hot and cold seems very short. But that is good in some ways. Mosquitos don't like either extreme. They are making their appearance also. The monkeys have done their work here in stripping the two trees of old leaves and gorging themselves on as many new ones as they can get. So for the past few days their presence has been much less, for better or worse. Last weekend, Vrindavan started looking like the Vrindavan PC (Pre-Covid). The streets were crowded. Police were patrolling the traffic. The atmosphere was festive. At Jiva the cars were parked everywhere as we had a goodly number of overnight guests for the first time in nearly a year. Yesterday I made another visit to the Kumbha for the Friends of Vrindavan program, which was a discussion on the environment. Jagannath Poddar has set up a small pandal some distance away from the main streets of the temporary city. Shrivatsa Goswami was there and spoke on the return of the Yamuna to the ghats. There were a few other VIPs. But in general it was only a small group, missing even most of the usual suspects, the old faces that were regulars at the BVHA meetings. I am not sure what the reason is, but it seems that the BJP governments have been sufficiently responsive to these anxieties that much of the energy in the various movements of just a few years ago has dissipated. In actual fact, many improvements have been made everywhere. The other day I cycled past the new Sabji Mandi and observed that the garbage recycling plant that was promised several years ago seems to be activated. A large building has been constructed for government offices and the parking lots are being used, for both cars and buses. This obviously means that the desire to move the traffic outside the Parikrama Marg as far as possible is meeting with some success. On busy days, the rule is being enforced strictly. The work on the Parikrama Marg was completed by the time Kumbha started. It has many good aspects to it, I believe thanks to Vineet Narain and the Braj Foundation. Moreover, the administration seems to be getting the hang of keeping at least the main roads cleaner. So many trees have been planted that we can look forward to a shady Parikrama Marg for years to come. The pedestrian walkway is functional for the most part even though people still seem to prefer walking on the street. Though more could be done, it seems that there has been a shift, a slight shift in consciousness, moving the right direction. Friends of Vrindavan played a big part in that, and obviously its work is far from being finished, but we will have to see what directions Jagannath will take. I am personally relishing the time I have here in Vrindavan. It always seems so conditional, so ephemeral, so fortuitous, to be here and to be engaged, however superficially, in practices that make me more and more a part of this Braja raj with every day that passes. In actual fact, my only practice is to fall into the shelter with no other hope than to be caught by my Lord and Lady. Jai Sri Radhe.