Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Sunday, October 15th, 2017

Ujjain, India

Have You Ever…?

Have you ever walked through traffic in a tightly congested, city marketplace in India? You basically must dash and dodge your way through the crowd of people, scooters and cars. Cows are the least part of the problem, but they are there. Don’t think of standing still to avoid the mechanizations. You’ll be forced to move one way or another and at different speeds from stop to start.

I thought that Ujjain was a smaller city. Yes, it is, but it’s a half-million population crammed in tight quarters, and during Diwali, it makes it feel like you’re in China. On top of that, with things coming at you from all directions, you’ve got sounds of engines, bells, whistles and car horns, all mostly at a higher pitch. It’s quite the contrast from Ely, Nevada, during the U.S. walk, when one morning I found myself in the midst of three hundred bikers all revving it up with their roaring Harley Davidsons. There the sound reached your gut.

Anyway, I was out in the streets, practically holding hands with Kamalaksha from Indore, shopping for possible drama costumes. At one point in the circle of commotion, I wondered if it was worth the endeavour. Finally, we found an outlet where theatre-wear was in stock and I managed to pick up some cheap costumes that I can adjust when I get back home.

In Ujjain, I’m really happy attending meetings with fellow monks. The sanga (company) is worth my stay here. They are my brothers.

What sets me apart from them is that I’m a drama swami who has to have his tools to work with.

May the Source be with you!

10 km

Saturday, October 14th, 2017

Ujjain, India

Getting Around

Bhakti Caru Swami is the host of our sangha meetings and he arranged a special treat for his visitors.  This morning we were bussed to three sacred places. The first was the popular temple of Maha Kaleshvara, where the Shiva Linga is adored.  Second, we were bussed to Ram Ghat by the Shipra River. Here Ram came, thousands of years ago, to honour the last rites of His father. Finally, we were taken to the school where Krishna and His brother, Balarama, were formally educated. It is called the Sandipani Muni School. Tucked away in a fertile green area are the well-maintained grounds of this location of worship.

I took a fancy to the cows who are well fed and hitched to trees in their pasture. I could see they are handled with love as many entities are in India. Relationships and love are very valued in this great land, but you also see neglect of some sectors of society. Poor folks don’t always have an option of schooling.  Neglected is the environment, like most places on our precious planet. I was remarking to Bhakti Chaitanya Swami while we bus-rode back, how trucks and cars make up the landscape and villages.

Fortunately, our meetings are held in this more decent and smaller city, unlike Mumbai, Delhi or Kolkata. It makes for a conducive space for contemplation. And the temple, well, it’s real pretty. On this Saturday evening, I was asked to lead the song in reverence to Damodara, Krishna as a child. The follow-up kirtan chant, was quite explosive.

May the Source be with you!

   8 km

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Friday, October 13th, 2017

Ujjain, India

Feet to Forest

It was a frivolous moment but one that flared up naturally after hours of rather formal meetings.  My door was open.  I had guests over, when two monks, actual buddies, came inside.

Sivarama Swami, one of them, looked down at my feet and remarked, “Those are the feet that did all those miles.”  I could see what was coming.  Both he and B.B. Govinda Swami impulsively grabbed my right leg.  Sivaram Swami took that foot and gave it a love bite.  He passed it on to B.B. Govinda Swami who then gave it a big kiss.  All was done in good fun.  A little embarrassed, I was, but I was happy they came to bring a phase of light-heartedness to the evening.  My guests had a good laugh at the casual nature of it all.

Who said monks can’t have a little fun?

I did have the good fortune to speak with my Russian monk friend, Bhakti Vijnana Goswami, who is suffering from insomnia, but is now improving.  He said over the phone that the compounding of administrative responsibilities had taken its toll.  “For over four months I wasn’t getting any sleep,” he said, but now he’s on a slow recovery, thank God.

The opportunity also came up, yesterday, for me to deliver the Bhagavatam class.  The verse was regarding the Pracetas, yogis who had meditated, submerged in water, and when they came out of their trance they saw the world around them in thick tree cover.  From their yogic power, they invoked from their mouths fire and wind with the intent to deforest certain areas.  Some, the god of the moon and herbs, protected and challenged them.  I received compliments from the class.  I felt quite dreamy after that.

May the Source be with you!

6 km