So, after the Mayapur yatra is over and resting for 2 days, let me again start with Mayapur yatra in my memory from Day 1 and in the course, transcript all the lectures which we heard.
To start with, there were most devotees who travelled in Azad Hind Express and some in Duronto Express and few in flights as well. We all met in Mayapur directly. Let me not skip the wonderful train journey which seemed tiring to non-devotees and blissful to us. The train (Azad Hind) was scheduled to start at 6:20PM on 23rd Dec but since it was 8 hrs. late, it was to start at 2:30AM (24th Dec) but finally started at 3:20 AM J. We utilize the time on platform by finishing our rounds of chanting. Well, we slept for few hrs. But most were up and chanting at 7 – 7:30 AM. That day’s meal was to be arranged by us and wow… we had so much to share with each other and best part… all that we shared was Prasad J and so enjoyed more.
That whole day we were to be in train. Wherever, the train would halt for more than 5 mins, there used to be ecstatic dancing Kirtans on the platforms. For a person watching from the train, would see all making way for the Kirtan party to move from one end of the platform to other and enjoying themselves. Few devotees would roam around the area with small books and Bhagvad Gita and people would opt for it.
We all did Mangal aarti and Narsimha aarti in small groups but we were waiting for the Kirtan and class by Prabhuji.
The train was virtually divided by Bal Govind Prabhu and Kanai Thakur Prabhu and we all like honey bees would surround them (lotus flowers) to extract maximum for our souls. I was in the section under Kanai Thakur Prabhu. He started with lovely Kirtan followed by Bhagvatam class (Canto 1, Chapter 13 text 10).
BhaktiVedanta VedaBase: Srimad Bhagvatam 1.13.10
tīrtha-bhūtāḥ svayaḿ vibho
bhavat — your good self; vidhāḥ — like; bhāgavatāḥ — devotees; tīrtha — the holy places of pilgrimage; bhūtāḥ — converted into; svayam — personally; vibho — O powerful one; tīrthī-kurvanti — make into a holy place of pilgrimage; tīrthāni — the holy places; sva-antaḥ-sthena — having been situated in the heart; gadā-bhṛtā — the Personality of Godhead.
My Lord, devotees like your good self are verily holy places personified. Because you carry the Personality of Godhead within your heart, you turn all places into places of pilgrimage.
The Personality of Godhead is omnipresent by His diverse potencies everywhere, just as the power of electricity is distributed everywhere within space. Similarly, the Lord's omnipresence is perceived and manifested by His unalloyed devotees like Vidura, just as electricity is manifested in an electric bulb. A pure devotee like Vidura always feels the presence of the Lord everywhere. He sees everything in the potency of the Lord and the Lord in everything. The holy places all over the earth are meant for purifying the polluted consciousness of the human being by an atmosphere surcharged with the presence of the Lord's unalloyed devotees. If anyone visits a holy place, he must search out the pure devotees residing in such holy places, take lessons from them, and try to apply such instructions in practical life and thus gradually prepare oneself for the ultimate salvation, going back to Godhead. To go to some holy place of pilgrimage does not mean only to take a bath in the Ganges or Yamuna or to visit the temples situated in those places. One should also find representatives of Vidura who have no desire in life save and except to serve the Personality of Godhead. The Personality of Godhead is always with such pure devotees because of their unalloyed service, which is without any tinge of fruitive action or utopian speculation. They are in the actual service of the Lord, specifically by the process of hearing and chanting. The pure devotees hear from the authorities and chant, sing and write of the glories of the Lord. Mahāmuni Vyāsadeva heard from Narada, and then he chanted in writing; Sukadeva Gosvami studied from his father, and he described it to Parīkṣit; that is the way of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. So by their actions the pure devotees of the Lord can render any place into a place of pilgrimage, and the holy places are worth the name only on their account. Such pure devotees are able to rectify the polluted atmosphere of any place, and what to speak of a holy place rendered unholy by the questionable actions of interested persons who try to adopt a professional life at the cost of the reputation of a holy place.
He thanked all to join for the yatra and said in the end we shall be 180 of them in Mayapur Dham. He then thanked Srila Prabhupada and all the parampara acharyas, to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Shri Shri Radha Madhava that they are allowing us to come to their holy Dham Shri Mayapur Dham. Without their mercy, we would have never made it. In the city, that we have left now, so many of them are making arrangements, Christmas, new year to visit some place or the other. Everyone wants to go to some place with their families for holidays. But what is the right kind of holiday?
The word itself says HOLYday – to do with something holy. But generally the tendency and the understanding of life is that I am the body and there is no knowledge of the soul and there is no higher purpose in living. Then you see that even our vacation which could be holy is rendered unholy by our own consciousness. Srila Prabhupada is talking about this in the purport here. We have 2 devotees here with us – 1 devotee whose family is in Goa, he ran away from there and is with us in the train now and another devotee whose parents are in Kerala cancelled his tickets and is ahead of us already reached Mayapur. J So, there are some people who are going to such places and further increase their sinful karmas because their consciousness is low, then your mind makes you engaged in so many wrong activities there. Now, at least we have got a chance.
How we can maintain our consciousness while going to Mayapur and keep the consciousness of the city far away from us? Otherwise, we may physically present in Shri Mayapur Dham but mentally still carry the burdens of dirty consciousness.
In this section of Bhagvatam, Vidura who had not taken part in the Kuruksetra war instead went around to pilgrimage in India. Hence, Mahabharata has mentioned a lot of places that he visited and now he has come back to Hastinapur and already the Kuruksetra war is over and so many Kshatriya’s are dead and when he reaches Hastinapur, he finds only 5 Pandavas alive practically. The whole city of Hastinapur and whole country was plunged into such sorrow. So many Kshatriyas, the protectors are dead. The person feeling bad the most is Yudhishtar Maharaj. Seeing Vidura (family member has come again and he has already left palace and renounced the order of life, they don’t expect such a person to come back) Why has he come back – to deliver Dhrtarashtra. The name itself suggests Dhrta – the one who is attached, rashtra – to the country. He is attached to the position as the emperor here. He is holding on and this entire chapter, Vidura is going to preach Dhrtarashtra how the life is empty, you should not be anything. You were a house holder first. Now, the time has come. Move out.
Before that, Yudhishtar Maharaj is receiving Vidura nicely and this verse is in glorification of Vidura and he is saying, bhavad-vidhā bhāgavatās – my lord, devotees like you are holy places personified. You are a holy place personified as you are carrying Lord in your heart (svāntaḥ-sthena gadābhṛtā). OH my spiritual master, in your heart, Lord resides and Lord Govinda says, my devotees are my life and soul.
So, the pure devotees of the lord carry Lord in their heart as they are always meditating on the Lord, always serving the Lord. Prabhupada is saying here, a pure devotee does only 2 activities.
Who is the pure devotee of the Lord?
One who is continuously engaged in these activities? He likes to hear the Lord’s names and he likes to hear about Lord and Prabhupada is saying that’s the way Srimad Bhagvatam is. Vyāsadeva heard it from Narada and he chanted in the form of all the shashtras that he had written. Sukadeva Goswami heard from his father – Vyāsadeva and he chanted to Parīkṣit Maharaj.
So, pure devotees of the lord are always glorifying the lord. Carrying the lord in our heart means carrying the glories of the lord in our heart. If Govinda has not taken place there (in heart); if Govinda is not doing Visharama there then we have to do all the shram in this world to satisfy the so called desires of the heart. And, so many are coming, one after the other.. Doesn’t seem to be stopping… continuously one after the other 24 hrs, 365 days. You catch any person in this train and ask him “do you feel important in this earth”. He shall say yes. Are you a busy man? He shall say yes. What are you doing? Whatever I may be doing, is very important.
If you think deeply, you shall see hardly anything is going on in this world. Whatever is going on is to protect this body which anyways cannot be protected. Try to protect the mental conceptions which are going to be challenged anyways. They are trying to hold out to their opinions and their intelligence which is so weak and lusty but the dear service of the lord, the glorification of the lord doesn’t sit there. But that’s where there is a difference between a pure devotee and a normal person. A pure devotee is very eager to glorify the lord with all the senses provided by the lord. A devotee wants to engage everything in the service of the lord.
To become a pure devotee is not impossible or difficult thing. It is a very simple thing. All we need to do is to set our priorities properly and going to this holy places, visits to these dhams helps us to set our priorities right once again. If we ask people, have you ever been to Vrindavan, they shall say we have heard about it but we have never visited. But you ask them have you been to Goa, they shall yes yes. They can talk so much about Goa but not about Vrindavan or Mathura or Jagannatha Puri or Dwarka or Ayodhya – so many beautiful pastime places where Lord appears and performs his pastimes there.
As devotees we all know we are spirit souls and not this body. I am part and parcel of God but still in the week that we go out and work in this world; so many people day to day attack our consciousness with their wrong, ill motives, dirty desires. All those come upon us and it does affect us. We are trying to do best, chant our rounds, maintain our consciousness but somehow or the other it becomes weak and so taking out yearly some time, some days out of our year, calendar, planner, to go to holy Dham. It sets our priorities once again. Yes, the lord is there. The lord has appeared in this world. His Dham is special and visiting the Dham gives you so much spiritual strength and it re-aligns your priorities. I have to go back home, back to Godhead. In the city where I live, all the activities going are so temporary, we all are going to end one day but out of these temporary activities and life when I am there in this body, I have to make the best of it. Prabhupada would say, “Make the best out of the bad bargain”. We all have got a very bad bargain now – this body, this world. Krishna helps us to make the best out of this bad bargain. Lord appears in this world in very special places, Vrindavan, Mathura, and Mayapur Dham where Chaitanya Mahaprabhu personally appears to spread the holy name – the Yuga dharma of this age. It is said, the Lord – Lord Krishna appears every 411 billion years of the four cycles. And in the Yuga that Krishna appears, Lord Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appears in the right next Yuga after that. Lord Chaitanya appears in this world to give us this holy name.
So, Vrindavan is called as Madhurya Dham and Mayapur is called as Avadharya Dham. Madhurya means its only sweetness but the rasa is very high – you cannot catch it so easily. Mayapur is Avadharya Dham – merciful Dham; anybody can come here. It is said that even if you sleep here, it is considered as Samadhi. This Dham is so special. Every spiritual activity you perform there, you will get millions of folds results of it because the lord has invested the Dham with that potency and specially when we visit the Dham, it’s very important that we always keep our consciousness at the right point of always hearing and chanting the glories of the lord. Always associating with devotees and we are in big group and so many services would be there. We should try to find out, can I get some service in this ham. Otherwise the mind will desire like let me give rest to my body, o let me think of myself only etc. Let us keep that consciousness aside. Don’t allow tongue to be in prajalpa mode. Let me bring the consciousness of serving others. Let me chant the holy name with as much sincerity and enthusiasm as much possible because it is like a lottery ticket. As devotees we don’t purchase lottery tickets. But in a lottery ticket, millions of times you can get first prize. That’s the case with the Dham.
The same Hare Krishna chanting that we do at our home, in city, you get millions of time benefit. So, please keep your consciousness nice and as in the purport, Srila Prabhupada is saying as we visit Dham, we should meet the great devotees who are residing there. Whenever you go to temple hall, please keep your mouth close because when we keep it open, heart tends to pop out from the mouth. Because, the Radha Madhava and Panchtattva are so beautiful that your heart is likely to pop out.
Just 6 months back, we went to Mayapur and now again so many of them are there who have come again and so we can imagine how beautiful it shall be. There are 2 rivers, Ganga and Yamuna who are there and their confluence is seen. We shall be doing boating and Ganga snan and visit many places like Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’ s birth place, a lot of acharyas place. A lot of Katha shall happen and especially Mayapur Prasad is out of the world. Mayapur campus is very beautiful. We shall visit the goshala and the Vedic gurukul where lots of boys from 5 yr. old to 15 yr. old practically from every country are there. We shall visit there, talk to them, meet them, ask questions, etc. They don’t use electricity there; they get up at 2 AM and sleep at 7:30 PM. They cook their own food.
So, in this purport it is said that generally people think visiting a Dham means go to 1 temple, there would be a river or lake there, and we shall go and take bath and wash off our sinful reactions. Prabhupada is saying in one of the purports that the holy places are full of sinful reactions because of these people who are visiting there. Then how is the holy place able to maintain its sanctity? Because of the pure devotees who come there. As the lord is always residing in their heart, when they visit such places; the holy places are holy once again. Prabhupada is also cautioning us here, there are so many holy places around the world but there are so many crooks also present there who do business on the holy name. Mayapur is different as it is practically Iskcon all around. They render the holy places unholy by their actions but it is the pure devotees who bring the sanctity of the holy places back.
Let us now offer a simple prayer when we are visiting Mayapur, that by the mercy of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu whom Rupa Goswami glorified as
namo mahā-vadānyāya kṛṣṇa-prema-pradāya te
kṛṣṇāya kṛṣṇa-caitanya-nāmne gaura-tviṣe nāmaḥ
I offer praṇāma unto Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya, who is Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself. Having assumed the golden hue of Śrīmatī Rādhikā, He is most munificently bestowing kṛṣṇa-prema (love for Śrī Kṛṣṇa), the rarest of all gifts.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appears to give this holy name and now if I want to purchase something I need to pay back something. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is giving us this holy name. What are they asking back? They are asking simple faith (Shraddha). This chanting of the holy name is from the spiritual world. Now, in this age of Kalyuga, the age of quarrel and hypocrisy, the age which is full of faithlessness – a scripture like Bhagvad Gita is also getting challenged in the court now. This about it… what is this age. In this age, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appeared to give us this holy name and we all are taking this effort for visiting Shri Mayapur Dham. So, let us pray to him to give us this consciousness and by the time we finish our yatra, we should have invested our consciousness very nicely in chanting, hearing, associating with devotees and not allow our tongue to once again get into that prajalpa mode. If we have to talk, we shall only talk about the Dham, about the holy name, about the classes we have heard. Let us enlighten each other and keep our association to very high standard. Then, by the time we are going back, we all would have changed in your heart. You shall feel the change.
After the class, he announced he shall have wonderful Kirtans in the other boggie and then huge harinaam on Nagpur station.
Hence, the day ended with lot of bliss, new but wonderful experience.