Kartik in Braj... a little closer to heaven
by Gokulananda das
After an uneventful 24 hour flight across the Pacific into Delhi, our group of four devotees at last arrived in Sri Krishna's sacred land in the early hours of Oct. 2nd. Joining with thousands of other pilgrims already wandering the land of Braj to imbibe the special mood of Kartik vrata, we all felt deep joy in our hearts to be again in our true home, where our Sweet Lord eternally enjoys His loving sports among His dearmost servants.
Crowds of happy pilgrims are to be seen at all hours steadily filing down the parikrama paths as they contentedly pursue their Kartik seva. What a beautiful culture that sustains this land, where the insanities of Kali-yuga seem suspended and the people absorb themselves in the true business of humans: to seek out our kinship within the Acyuta gotra, Lord Krishna's limitless family of happy souls.
As growing numbers of our ISKCON devotees kept arriving from all over the world, the temple programs became ever more blissful celebrations of our Lord's sweet glories, as the real happiness pervading all our faces spoke volumes about our shared good fortune.
By the morning of Sharad Purnima, Oct.7th, close to 2,500 devotees assembled for Mangala arotik, chanting and dancing to our hearts' content to be together under the loving gaze of Krishna-Balaram, Gaura-Nitai and Radha Shyamasundar, in the sweet shelter of Braja Dhama. In the evening, even greater numbers of pilgrims, etc. crowd into or around the Krishna-Balaram Mandir for the Damodarastakam prayers. The sight of hundreds of ghee lamps floating among a sea of worshippers who offer their hearts in prayer along with the lamps is a most enchanting scene to contemplate, a window into the eternal Braj.
So many streams of nectar have been flowing from all quarters of the Dhama, each with their own special flavour to rejuvenate our faith and attraction toward our beloved Lord Brajendranandana. My own favorite reservoir of nectar is Dinabandhu Prabhu, who daily leads groups of devotees on a systematic tour of specific places of Braj-lila. He is so expert in delivering the sweetest and most detailed lila-katha, as he totally relishes sharing every nice detail of so many amazing pastimes. He is definitely an empowered deliverer of Braja-lila, a most prolific and generous "nectar walla". I forever remain in grateful awe for his unique absorption in Krishna-lila; he is surely blessed from above to deeply taste and share such taste with his fortunate parikrama pilgrims. And I will continue to seek out and store up all this life-giving nectar for my eternal benefit, grateful to be again allowed to experience the highest satisfaction of Vaisnava-sangha in this holiest land of Brajabhumi Vrindavan.