Day 10/12 | Visiting Barsana, birthplace of Srimati Radharani
Following the Master | Holi Pilgrimage Vrindavan 2019
The day began with morning prayers and Giridhari abhishekam. Then, as soon as it finished, Guruji changed the plans and swapped the morning and afternoon programs. That meant that we had satsang with Swami Revatikaanta in the morning and the trip to Barsana in the afternoon.
Swami began his fourth lecture by telling the story that preceded the Raas Leela: the gopis month-long penance to Maa Katyayini and Krishna stealing their clothes as they bathed. He highlighted how, without any sense of competition or jealousy, the gopis prayed together to obtain the same objective, showing us the right principles of sangha. As the fast came to an end, Krishna comes to answer their prayers and He poses one final test to them. Stealing their clothes as they bathed in the river, Krishna demanded that they come out naked and reclaim their clothes from Him. The gopis argued and reasoned, trying to make Krishna feel guilty and even threatening Him! But Krishna was unmoved. The gopis were able to overcome all insecurities, all sense of shame and surrendered themselves. Pleased, Krishna grants them their wish and the following autumn, they would experience the Raas. At the end of the lecture, Guruji and Swami Paranthapa also gave short talks. Swami Paranthapa spoke about the way worldly society raises us to oppose spiritual freedom. From our childhood, all the way up to university and beyond, we are told what to do, what to think, and what to want but all of this control is not designed to lead us to liberation, but instead, leads us deeper into Maya. Guruji then spoke about how ultimately everything that we do on our spiritual path is to attain Prem. But He prefers not to speak about Prem, not even to speak about how He feels about His relationship with His devotees because then it will appear to be limited. We will put Prem and our relationship in a 'drawer' instead of leaving it in its unlimited nature.
After lunch, the group headed off to Barsana, the birthplace of Srimati Radharani, although without Guruji this time, as He stayed home to get some rest. It was a long bus ride, but after arrival the pilgrims joined in the temple prayers and arati to Radharani. They met Binod Bihari Das, a dear friend of Guruji, who was sad Guruji had not made the trip to Barsana. The devotees headed back home but only arrived at around 10:30 pm and still had to have the goodbye satsang with Guruji and dinner!
After a quick dinner, Guruji came and said how wonderful it was to spend all these days together. He urged the devotees to not let these moments spent together go to waste by forgetting them. It is by our memories that we cultivate what we receive and so He asked that we remember the stories and places we visited so as to never lose the sweetness of Vrindavan when we head home. Guruji reminded everyone that not everyone gets to come to Braj. Only with the permission of Radharani can we come, but since She has given Her permission to all of us, then we should come as often as possible. Guruji ended by sweetly saying that the gates of Vrindavan were open to us. Guruji then distributed a mala as a gift to all the pilgrims, whilst devotees shared their testimonials about their lives with Guruji, especially a couple of the residents of Sri Giridhar Dham, who spoke of the immense Grace to have the opportunity to live and serve in Vrindavan.
As the testimonies finished at around 1:30 am, our group was told that we had to be ready to leave the ashram tomorrow morning at .....6:15 am!! We would be heading to Radha Kund and Govardhan and to do that we would have to leave very early. The devotees hurried off to bed, but as tired as they were, the love and happiness they were all exuding was overwhelming.
Stay tuned for more posts as we ‘Follow the Master’ on a pilgrimage to the Divine!