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Observations from a Pilgrimage

~by Vegavati devi dasi

I’ve been fortunate enough to spend a couple of weeks in a very ‘happening’ place — Mayapura, in West Bengal, India.  It is the gateway of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). Though begun in what was a remote village setting, it is fast becoming a spiritual metropolis. Thousands of pilgrims come every month, and work is progressing on the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium (TOVP), which is scheduled to open in 2022.

Temple of Vedic Planetarium, Mayapur, India

As ISKCON’s international hub, Mayapura is full of various eateries that have sprung up, and many who live in Mayapura share their cuisine with other residents and visitors, making ends meet in the process.

My friend and I discovered a lunch spot, open weekdays, where a Lithuanian couple offers a healthy meal at a nominal price. One day, after lunch, I stayed a while and chanted. It was so pleasant, in an undisturbed village type of place. I soon became aware of two boys, playing nearby underneath a tree, speaking a language I couldn’t understand (later confirmed it was Lithuanian). Like characters from the Bhagavad Gita they had bows and arrows. Then I noticed one had climbed quite high in a tree. Boyhood fun. I was chanting on my beads. After some time, I heard one of them singing, over and over and over, a mantra I’d not heard before, different names for God. Acyuta Kesava Krishna Damodara / Namo Narayana Janaki-Pallava. It was so beautiful, and the natural setting so simple, I just thought ‘what a wonderful way to grow up.’ And oddly, it was not at all far removed from Mayapura’s hustle and bustle.

Whether one is an extrovert, and becomes enlivened by exchanges with many people, or prefers a quieter, more inward-looking type of environment, or a mix of the two, with sincere desire, one can find a suitable place to move forward in spiritual life, glorifying the Supreme Lord.