I just left Christchurch, New Zealand on a long journey back to Vrindavan; through Sydney, Dubai and Delhi. Myself and Bada Haridas will rest for a few days in Vraja and then travel on to Mayapura. On March 15, we fly to Kathmandu and walk up to the Tibetan plateau to place the ashes of my dear godrother, Bimal Prasad, in the sacred Kali Gandhaki river. It was his final request to me. The area is sacred to all Gaudiya Vaisnavas because 500 years ago Lord Caitanya ordered Gopal Bhatta Goswami in a dream to, “Go to the Kali Gandhaki and find Sri Hari.” He was referring to the sacred salagrama-sila. During that historic visit Gopal Bhatta found a salagrama-sila that later manifested as the beautiful deity of Radha Raman.
The first thing I did today was walk around Vrindavan. It was so nice to see again the people and places that have become familiar to me over the years. Though I often go on parikrama it always feels like the ‘first time,’ due to Vrindavan’s being a transcendental abode. I took along my trusty camera to share the glories of Vrindavan with all of you!
“Even if I have the opportunity to bath in the ocean of pure love of Krsna, and even if I have the pure devotees of the infallible Supreme Personality of Godhead as my associates, I will not consent to live for even for a single moment in any sacred place other than Vrajabhumi. Even if the residents of Vraja appear to be ordinary, and even if they fill my ears with useless gossip, I pray that I may remain amongst them, eternally residing here in Vraja.” [ Srila Raghunatha dasa Goswami ]
The Laddu Mar festival takes place a day before the famous Holi festival at Varsana. The residents of Varsana have great fun throwing laddu sweets at each other from balconies, rooftops and inside the temples. Unknown to us, they also begin throwing coloured dyes and liquids in preparation for Holi. Thus while attending the Laddu Mar festival we unexpectedly met face to face with a variety of blue, green, yellow and red powders!
Pictured here is the Temple of the Vedic Planatarium, under construction. Before entering Sridham Mayapura we visited the sacred home of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, from where he had a vision of a magnificent temple appearing one day in the future just across the Jalangi river. By Srila Prabhupada’s strong desire that temple is now beginning to manifest as the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium. We also visited Nrsimha-pali, where Lord Nrsimha took bath on His way back to Vaikuntha, after killing the demon Hiranyakasipu. Purified of heart and in a mood of humility we finally arrived in ISKCON’s Mayapura Candrodaya Mandir. Good to be home again!
We spent the first day of our travels in Nepal in Kathmandu in order to acclimatize for the higher altitudes we’ll reach near the Tibetan plateau later this week. We didn’t waste a moment though, for within a couple of hours we were out on harinam samkirtan with the local ISKCON devotees, chanting and dancing through the colorful streets of Nepal’s capitol. Like everywhere we go, people chanted and danced alongside us. We also visited several old temples. In one temple we were invited to do arotika to the ancient deities. The whole afternoon I was thinking of my dear friend Bimal Prasada das and my sacred duty to place his ashes in the Kali Gandhaki river. In our younger days we walked the same streets and visited the same temples. I miss him dearly. [ Photography by Ananta Vrindavan dasa ]
March 18th, 2014
The first leg of our journey in Nepal took us from ISKCON’s temple in Kathmandu, to Pokhara in the foothills of the Himalayas.
March 18th, 2014
Our flight to Jomsom has been cancelled due to bad weather. It is snowing with heavy winds and below freezing temperatures in the higher mountainous areas. So we’re back to our original plan to go by jeep. Our driver says we’ll “somehow negotiate” the area where the road is washed out in the mountains. It will take us two days to reach Jomsom from Pokhara. We are determined to fulfill our dear friend Bimal Prasad prabhu’s last request, that his ashes be placed in the sacred Kali Gandhaki river.
March 18th, 2014
Today we traveled up through the Himalayan mountains in two jeeps through some of the most beautiful and breathtaking scenery I have ever seen. Several times we saw sadhus walking to, or from, the sacred abode of Muktinath, our final destination. At one point we were caught in a heavy hailstorm that lasted over an hour. The hail was so strong that we couldn’t see the road in front of us. After the storm we had trouble navigating the slippery muddy roads and several times came too close for comfort to the edge of the roads and the deep gorges below them. Tomorrow we hope to reach Jomson, at 2,800 meters, before sunset. The next day we plan to have a ceremony on the banks of the Kali Gandhaki river and place the ashes of Bimal Prasad dasa within the sacred waters.
We woke up this morning at 2:30 am to prepare for our journey. As we stepped outside the mountain lodge we are staying in we beheld this beautiful scene of the peak of the Annapurna mountain with the village of Tatopani below. Ananta Vrindavan das took the photo at a 30-second delayed shutter speed. The moon, almost full, is giving light from behind. Krsna says in Bhagavad Gita: asmi sthavaranam himalayan, “Of immovable things I am the Himalayas.”
Yesterday we drove 7 hours from Pokhara to Tatopani. As we gradually entered the mountainous area the scenery was stunning. This was the very route that Gopal Bhatta Goswami walked on his way through Nepal 500 years ago in his search for salagrama-silas. I visited some of the towns with Bimal Prasad and Alalanatha das years ago. Now I am carrying Bimal’s ashes on his final journey to a place that was very dear to his heart – the Kali Gandhaki river.
This evening, after a grueling 9 -hour journey over rocky mountain roads and through fast-flowing rivers, we finally reached our destination; the small village of Kagbeni on the banks of the Kali Gandhaki river. We checked into a hostel that also serves as a monastery for Buddhist monks. We’re bedding down early with lots of extra blankets as a light snowstorm is forecast for the night, and there is no heat in the hostel. Tomorrow we will place Bimal Prasad’s ashes in the river at 9:00 am local time. If possible, please remember him at that moment, wherever you may be. Please also keep his wife, Lalita dasi, and their 5 daughters in your prayers as well.
Yesterday we reached Kagbeni, our final destination on the Kali Gandhaki river. Tibet is only a few hours away. Kagbeni is over 9,000 feet above sea level so there is little, if any, vegetation or trees. Upon arriving in the village we began preparations to immerse Bimal Prasad’s ashes in the river the next morning.
March 22nd, 2014
Yesterday I placed the ashes of my dear friend Bimal Prasad das in the Kali Gandhaki river. It was his final request to me. As I watched the ashes flow down the sacred waters my heart was full of mixed emotions; sad that I would not see him again in this lifetime, but happy that he had reached the supreme destination. It was a great honor to do this service for him – a service I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life.
March 23rd, 2014
Kagbeni is one of the furthest places foreigners can journey in Nepal, as Tibet and China are not far away.Before leaving we took a walk around to see the ancient sites and meet the inhabitants of the village. We also took one last darshan of the Kali Gandhaki river, which now flows with the ashes of my dear godbrother Bimal Prasad das in her sacred waters. — with Sahishnu Govinda Das.
Yesterday we made one last pilgrimage to Muktinath, 3,710 meters above sea level at the foot of the Thorong La mountain pass. The air was so thin that we had to stop and catch our breath every few meters. There we had darshan of a lamp that Lord Brahma offered to Krsna at the beginning of creation. Miraculously the flame is still burning. Then we paid our obeisances to the deity of Lord Narayana, established by Sri Ramanujacarya over 1,000 years ago. I prayed to Lord Narayana to grant my dear godbrother, Bimal Prasad das, entrance into the spiritual world where he could serve the Lord to his heart’s content. We then began the long trip down through the mountains to Kathmandu and on to India. All in all, our 10-day journey was a great adventure in service to a dear godbrother, whose friendship I will cherish forever and forevermore.
Myself and Bada Hari prabhu are passing through Vrindavan for just 2 days. Tomorrow we leave for Orissa. This morning I wandered around town, soaking up the mercy wherever I could. All glories to Sri Vrindavan Dhama!