Friday, November 14, 2008

India Journal, Part 12

I wake up Saturday morning thinking that only two more mornings remain. Throughout this visit i have been aware of how limited (10 days) my time is in Vrindavan, and this economy of time has made me more appreciative. Today, however, my appreciation turns into melancholy when i realize that i will soon be on my way to the airport and back to the West.

I have been assembling the things i plan to bring back with me in a storage room located next to Radhapati's apartment. This gives me an oppotunity to have an ongoing dialogue with Radhapati. But today i can no longer put off the inevitable packing up and talk. To make things worse, i will be traveling heavy back to the US: three guitars that i had brought to India over the years (which are gradually getting ruined by the extreme temperature and humidity changes), a harmonium, a bag full of clothing, books, devotional stuff, plus a backpack filled with a video camera, digital recorder, still camera and other semi-valuables. To save money, i asked the luggage walla in Loi Bazaar to custom-make a black canvas carrying bag for me. I brought the hard guitar cases to the shop so the tailor can measure them to make the canvas bag large enough to fit both cases. I will place both guitars in their cases and tape the cases together with Gorilla duct tape (very sticky stuff). Then i will place the tapped cases into the black canvas bag and check in both guitars as one piece of luggage. That's my plan.

But now i have no energy for packing so i take a ricksaw to Rupa's Sandipani Muni School to see the kids one more time, during their morning program. I take my camera and almost immediatly i'm taking portraits at the request of the boys. The girls are shy, but the boys have no inhibition about getting their pictures taken. (I will upload some of these photos soon and will include the web address where they are located in a future post.)

After the morning program at the school i force myself back to the storage room to sort thru my things and begin the packing process. It takes me the rest of the morning. I have been a gypsy my whole adult life. I have not stayed in one place. I must have lived in 60 places in the past 40 years. This has given me a kind a forced detachment in terms of place. But also a kind of weariness. Whenever i pack up now this sadness appears, and all the more when it means i'm leaving the dham.

In the afternoon i go to see Manjari at her MVT apartment. We have a good friendship now and i consider myself fortunate to have been close with her for so many years. She is a unique person and a devout bhakta. But it is difficult to reconcile a failed marriage, no matter how friendly it is. It is hard not to find fault or relive regrets. In some states, they have "no-fault" auto insurance. I'm not sure what that means, but there should be something similar for marriages. After all, everyone enters their vows with the best of intentions and highest of hopes. And after 5, 10, 20, 30 or 40 years, either by commission or omission (by infidelity or by death) it ends in disappointment. It's a law of nature underlined by a disposable society. One jiva who was a source of happiness for another becomes a source of grief. When we hear the great personalities discuss this topic in the Bhagavatam, we see that sometimes even they experience these changes and feel bewildered by them.

It's all part of the cosmic wheel that keeps us spinning around. Destiny, the hand of providence, is the mover and shaker! Shakin' that tree ("i"). Causin' that grief ("me"). Makin' us cry ("mine"). But, it's not really i, me, mine. It's destiny. Destiny drives a hard bargain. To experience suffering. To become exhausted. And finally, to chase after and embrace my connection with Sri Guru and the pure vaisnavas with a full heart. Hey vaisnava thakur! Only you can relieve me from this burden of samsara.

I go back to the storage room to complete my packing. Tomorrow is my last day in Vrindavan, and i don't want to spend it packing up. Kesava Maharaj, a nice sadhu godbrother who preaches in Latin America, comes by to say hello to Radhapati while i'm packing. We all sit down in the storage room for a chat. His presence along with Radhapati makes me feel less sad about leaving Vrindavan. When he gets up to leave we all hug each other and wish each other good fortune. When someone is a genuine devotee, i don't feel envious or uncomfortable in their presence. I feel a lightness in my own being, a contact high, a hopeful spirit. That's what sadhu sanga is. It's not a performance. It's a matter of the heart.

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