Written by Rukmini dd
An earthquake hit Sri Dhama Mayapur on Wednesday, November 25th, lasting approximately 90 minutes with tremors for at least half an hour before. Some call it kirtan, but I beg to differ. It was an earthquake! After navigating through the Damodarastakam on the last day of Kartika in front Sri Sri Radha Madhava, Kadamba Kanana Swami launched into kirtan that shook the layers of our conditioning, split through the modes of nature and revealed a core of beauty found in the holy name. Fortunately, on a material level, the only thing that cracked was some of our voices, including Maharaj’s. Between cups of tea and lozenges, he kept the vibrations escalating. Devotees were flying across the temple room floor in spontaneous dance. Maharaj kept his fingers on the harmonium whilst fiercely pushing the mrdanga players beyond their limits with his eyes and maintaining the beat of the whompers with the nod of his head. After always hearing of him endlessly trying to escape management, I realized he manages the kirtan too. The devotion in each mantra was tangible. Many could not go to sleep that night.
Despite the late night, Maharaj strode to mangal arati like clockwork the next day, as he always does in the Holy Dhama. It was Rasa Purnima and Maharaj was due to speak from the Bhagavatam. He approached the subject with much reservation. In the action of taking that step first in our spiritual life, both our feet are in the material world. Then we lift one leg and try to place it on the spiritual platform but all our weight rests in the material world. Slowly we shift the weight onto the “spiritual leg” and finally when there is no weight on the “material leg” it rises above the material platform. He emphasized that one with two feet planted in the material world may only hear of the pastimes of the gopis and intellectually try to accept them but how would we ever truly understand them? He spoke of the purity of the gopis actions and how their incredible beauty was a reflection of their internal consciousness.
Later that day, we all gathered at the Vaishnava Academy to prepare for the Rasa Purima luncheon which was held in honour of all disciples of Srila Prabhupada on behalf of Srila Jayadvaita Swami. With his incredibly hectic schedule of meetings for the Mayapur Master Plan and simultaneously teaching the Nectar of Devotion course, Kadamba Kanana Swami left the organisation of the program in the capable hands of Ter Kadamba Prabhu, Tulasi Prabhu and Saci devi Mataji. It was a blissful flurry of activity transforming the rooftop into something out of the Caitanya Caritamrta. As each vaishnava entered, they were garlanded, offered sandalwood and coaxed to allow us to bathe their feet. It was heart-warming to see them appreciating and remembering Srila Prabhupada in each other’s company. Over clay cups of tea and freshly clipped coconuts, many bonds were deepened.
Straight out of Bhakti Sastri class, Maharaj rushed to the luncheon. It was humbling to see him immediately accept a junior role in front of the guests and he focused on every detail in order to serve them properly. Banana leaves were laid out on the veranda in traditional style and soon prep after prep followed according to the Vedic science. As each guest, left Maharaj personally offered then a decorative clay plate of goodies and a donation. At the end, we rejoiced over all the maha-prasadam.
It was a rare, purifying and instructive festival. How long will these servants of Prabhupada walk the earth? What’s more purifying that the water that has bathed of the feet of the vaisnavas? How important is it that we serve and maintain strong relationships of friendship between one another?