Sunday, February 12, 2012


We had a night halt at Vrindavan--the ancient town of Krishna’s teenage romance. 

Vrindavan is also where my (late) father started his career as an administrator way back in 1960. For this reason, I experienced a surreal attachment to this place. I called my mother to inform her that I am experiencing what she often told us about this place. Her descriptions are inscribed in my mind like folklore. This random visit turned out to be an emotional one. 

Places of some religious sanctity, like this, mystic and mythical, busy, self-seeking by surrendering to the unknown, evoke strange feelings in me. I don’t try to do things. I don’t question much. Just surrender to the overpowering ambiance of devotion and of expectation. Just be there as a witness. Passive, yet receptive.

I informed Jan that we should visit two places: Krishna-Balram Iskcon temple and Banke Bihari Temple--the ancient seat of Krishna where commoner congregate in large numbers for divine intervention in their knotty lives. 

The evening prayers at Iskcon temple, where devotional songs are sung loud accompanied by beating of mridangam, was like a ‘party’ to Jan, who was shaking to the music after initial stupor. Local Iskcon pupils danced vigorously, while some white men, unmistakeably on spiritual tourism (Jan called them running way from reality), matched steps with the locals, hand swayed in the air with chest open, as if receiving aerial signals, profound joy oozing for their ecstatic face. It was a celebration time. It was definitely a party time of sorts. 

We did enter Banke Bihari Temple. Before that I had a fight with elderly (un)gentleman at the shoe counter, we exchanged nasty words. That was distressing. We did not wait for a glimpse of Banke Bihari as the expectant crowd grew around us. I blame it on Banke Bihari, he did not want us to see him. 
We walked around in the congested lanes, was reminded of Banaras that we will visit soon. The lassi was fantastic, chaat was nice too, walk was entertaining. Next morning before we set out for Agra Bear Rescue Facility situated in the pristine wilderness of the Sur Sarovar Sanctuary, we had puri-sabji. It was blissful and dirt cheap. 

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