The impressive life size parampara display at ISKCON Krishna Balaram Mandir, Vrndavan, Prabhupada Samadhi structure, right side, first floor.
April 2nd, 2017, Vrndavan, UP India.
The idea was to assemble and ride at 6 AM in front of Citrakuth Mandir and the gigantic statues of Sri Hanuman and Lord Ganesh for departure to Greater Noida Ratha Yatra, near New Delhi, by bus. Citrakuth Mandir is situated just a few steps up from the ISKCON Krishna Balaram Mandir towards Dehli on the Bhaktivedanta Swami Marg. Two buses were planned to take all the devotees to the Greater Noida Ratha Yatra Festival, which in fact only started sometimes in the afternoon. But the early start was to give the devotees an opportunity to attend HH Lokanath Swami’s Srimad-Bhagavatam class at 8.30 AM on site. These are the impressions that were conveyed and I was resigned to these facts. I was in fact quite happy and enlivened to meet HH Lokanath Maharaja again, as we had been little close in the seventies. The previous day, April 1st, I had asked the devotee manager what we would do with all the extra time on our hands. Among others answers he said: ”You can sleep, if u like”. I did not like that answer at all. It sounded more like a cheap bribe to me. Sleep means ignorance. We should not overindulge in sleep.
When I arrived at the meeting point sometimes between 5.30 and 5.40 AM, the devotee manager forbid us to board any bus at all, because he still wasn’t “sure whether a second bus would be required”, as some devotees sometimes book but don’t follow up. When I asked for a sitting place, he got us to sit on a dusty and dirty brick wall and wait. Huddled together, the illustrious and sometimes cheeky monkeys of Vrndavan cooly spend their nights on these types of walls. He could have easily allowed us to sit more comfortably in one of the buses, irrespective of the fact whether the second bus was needed or not and with no loss to him whatsoever. That was managerial mistake number one.
Then he revealed that he had in fact segregated the devotees into Indians and non-Indians or westerners. Bus number one for Indians was progressively filling up in the meantime. After some minutes he allowed us “westerners” to board bus number two for non-Indians. It must have been around 5.45 AM. It would appear there is a major problem with this segregation consciousness. There is at least one Prabhupada letter where He clearly expresses that some Indians are very expert in “skin disease.” This incident may be a manifestation of it.
“We must avoid the risk of a separatist movement, unity is our purpose; just like in London where the Indians are starting their own Hindu Radha-Krsna Temple. We want to avoid skin disease and the Indian people are like the tannery expert. Such a cobbler is expert at skin disease. They will see our Sankirtana Party and think it is a white dance.” 730305let.HariprasadaBadruka
At about 6 AM or a few minutes later, bus number one for Indians started for the desired destination.
Shortly after 6.30 AM bus number two for westerners still hadn’t moved. I had lodged only one brief protest:” Why we are not going? Let us go!” and got the repugnant answer: “Yes we are going”, which in practical terms means nothing at all. As my excellent dentist Dr. Anuraga Kashyapa informed me, in India this is called IST or Indian Stretchable Time. But Srila Prabhupada does not accept IST in deity worship for example. He demands strict punctuality. Why should we act differently in ordinary life? Neither is the time of death stretchable. Nor do airlines work on stretchable times schedules. After sitting not less than 45 minutes in the bus, I decided to move instead and returned to Krishna Balaram Mandir. The whole episode gave me a strong headache, due to shackled mental energy by the relevant authority in charge of this particular Krishna conscious venture. After all we are supposed to be surrendered to the authority in charge. Without acceptance of and surrender to authority no organisation, be it a spiritual or material body, can function effectively. Best example is an army. I tolerated my headache until after prasadam, which is at 9 AM and throughout Srimad Bhagavatam class given by HG Akrura Prabhu, Temple president at ISKCON Vancouver, Canada.
I then successfully slept it off. But this is not the kind of experience I came to seek in Vrndavan, Lord Krishna headquarters, and I shall not participate in any further guided tours during the rest of my stay. I am sorry to have to say this.
Later on during the day, I really felt I had made the right decision and that Krishna had protected me, as the temperature climbed above 40 degrees Celcius. After all Lord Jagannath, the Lord of the universe, along with His brother Lord Balaram stand splendidly on the middle temple altar at the ISKCON Krishna Balaram Temple and I did not miss anything. Perhaps I missed out on the darshan of Lady Subhadra. I am confident there will be another opportunity to catch up with my Godbrother HH Lokanath Swami.
Special note for HG Pancagauda Prabhu, Temple President ISKCON Vrndavan: Prabhu, as you asked me about kitchari, I carefully accepted kitchari on April 2nd morning breakfast and I am glad to report that it really was very excellent. :):):)
I cannot help but mention here that IMHO His Grace Pancagauda Prabhu is perhaps the most “front line” temple president I have ever met, a welcome and fresh change from my previous home temple! Hare Krishna.