We have finally reached the center of Mongolia on our long journey through the countryside. It seems the deeper we go into the country the more receptive and interested people are to hear our message. These are small towns, but every time we do harinama people show up to chant and dance with us. And our evening hall programs are always full with enthusiastic crowds as well. Being out here on the road our happiness knows no bounds.
We have been traveling through a desert region here in Mongolia most of the day. The so-called roads are either dirt or sand and as a result it is often difficult to find our way. Five hours ago our driver got lost and we drove aimlessly through the sands for 5 hours. Then we got a flat tire. After fixing that another tire started losing air. Soon after, by Krsna’s grace, we spotted a settlement some distance away. We made it there and found someone to fix both tires. Most important that person gave us instructions how to proceed through the desert to our destination, Uliastai, which is still 300 kilometers away. We’ll also have to negotiate a tricky 3,500 meter pass over a mountain range in the dark, but with the grace of Lord Nrsimhadeva we should reach our destination by tomorrow morning. We have to because tomorrow we’ll have the first harinama in the history of Uliastai and a public program as well! Please Vaisnavas, keep us in your prayers.
After an arduous journey of 16 hours in jeeps through difficult desert and mountainous terrain we arrived safely in Uliastai, Mongolia at 3:00 a.m. in the morning. The following is my schedule for the day:
11:00: Visit the main Buddhist temple in Uliastai and meet with the famous monk, Dashdorj.
13:00 Climb the large hill overlooking the town with several prominent citizens and visit the monument dedicated to 9 Buddhist saints born in the province.
15:00 Meet with Mr. Jamyantiv, Governor of the Zavkhan Province.
16:00 Harinama throughout the streets and markets of the town.
18:00 Public lecture in Uliastai’s 400 seat drama theater.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu!
[ Ananta Vrindavan’s photo of a goat herder we passed yesterday evening ]
Two days ago we visited a Buddhist monastery in Bayankhongor, Mongolia and sat with the monks during their prayers. Afterwards as they chanted “om mani padme hum” [ I worship He who sits on the whorl of the lotus flower ] on their beads, we chanted Hare Krsna softly on our japa mala. When there was a break, I took the opportunity to discuss philosophy with the senior monk and presented him a Bhagavad Gita, for which he was very grateful. Before leaving one of the oldest monks asked for my bead bag so he could protect his chanting beads. I immediately gave it to him, and he in turn, graciously gave me several sacred articles worshipped by his ancestors.
We are indebted to Ananta Vrindavan dasa for his amazing photography and excellent videos covering our travels here in Mongolia this past month. As our adventure winds down and we start heading back to the capital, Ulaan Bataar, we share a few more of his photos taken this last week on the road.
After traveling 10,000 kilometers through deserts, mountains and across windswept plains to deliver the message of Lord Caitanya to the people of Mongolia, we have come to the end of our great adventure. Though the austerities of such a journey were more than challenging, nothing could dampen our spirits as we tasted the bliss of pioneering Krsna consciousness in some of the most remote areas of the country. Thank you Srila Prabhupada for allowing us to assist you in your desire to spread Krsna consciousness to every corner of the world. We await your next instructions.
Today I leave for Vrindavan to begin preparations for our Kartika parikrama. Over 300 devotees have registered. I am very happy to be going home, but something in my heart tells me I belong back on the front lines preaching Krsna consciousness to those less fortunate than me. I am missing Mongolia. I felt very close to Srila Prabhupada and Lord Caitanya there. I am not qualified to enter Vrindavan. But I will do so, with the understanding that Srila Prabhupada invited us there to become purified and in turn bring others to that transcendental abode.
A first glance of Vrindavan upon our arrival in this transcendental abode yesterday.
“Vrndavana is wonderful. The two sweet fair and dark splendors named Radha and Krsna are wonderful. Pure love for Their lotus feet is wonderful. He who has faith in Them and rises to the spiritual world is wonderful. The rare soul who understands these truths is wonderful.”
[ Srila Prabhodananda Sarasvati, Vrindavan Mahimamrita, Sataka One, text 57 ]
Yesterday in my travels I had the good fortune to arrive in Udupi on the appearance day of Sri Madhavacarya. I took the opportunity to seek his blessings and those of his beloved deity, Udupi Krishna.
Each time I visit Udupi in South India I find this brahmana sitting peacefully at the entrance to Lord Siva’s temple giving out caranamrta. His life is so simple and free of anxiety and stress. Happily engaged in service to his deity, he passes his days satisfied from within.
In Udupi, as in many old temples in India, pilgrims offer lamps to the Deity and then place them on ancient stands such as this one. Here Sivani dasi, a local ISKCON devotee, has placed her lamp on the column and is offering prayers to the Lord.
Tomorrow is the first day of Kartika here in Vrindavan. One can just feel the excitement in the air. Everyone is busy preparing for the most auspicious month of the year. Ananta Vrindavan dasa arrived in the afternoon and even before he put his bags down we were out capturing the mood of Vrindavan through the lens of his camera. For the next month we’ll be producing, almost daily, photos albums and short videos of our parikramas with 400 devotees. All for the pleasure of those who can’t be present in Sri Vrindavan during this special time.
Today, on the first day of Kartika, we made a quick trip downtown to take darshan of Sri Sri Radha Raman. We prayed for His blessings that we might develop a drop of love for Him and His transcendental abode of Sri Vrindavan Dhama during this most auspicious month.
The first destination on our Kartika Parikrama 2015 was the sacred village of Kamyavan, where the Deity of Vrinda-devi is worshipped. Srila Rupa Goswami discovered the beautiful deep red-colored Vrinda devi 500 years ago in Vrindavan and worshipped her along with his Radha Govindadev. When Radha Govinda were moved to Jaipur during the persecutions of Arungazeb, Vrinda devi refused to leave Vrindavan. Radha and Krsna have many pastimes in Kamyavan as well and we discussed these in detail during our talks. Bada Haridas prabhu melted everyone’s hearts with his deep devotional kirtans. It was a wonderful beginning to our month-long journey throughout the land of Krsna.
For our first parikrama we went to Kamyavan and had darshan of Vrinda-Devi, the beautiful reddish coloured Deity worshipped by Srila Rupa Goswami 500 years ago. In the courtyard of her temple we discussed many of Radha and Krsna’s pastimes, as well as Maharaja Yudhisthira’s answers to Yamaraja’s 10 questions that took place at nearby Dharma-kunda. The kirtans led by Bada Haridas prabhu were especially sweet in that most auspicious atmosphere
By the mercy of the Lord our second Kartika parikrama took us to the city of Mathura, where Lord Krsna appeared 5,000 years ago. In a beautiful and spacious temple we discussed the glories of Mathura as revealed in the Brhat Bhagavatamrita, by Srila Sanatana Goswami. After kirtan we wandered the ancient quarters of the city discovering many old temples. Devotees were particularly impressed with two large Deities of Lord Varaha, who have been worshipped since the dawn of creation.