Headlights show the lone form of a Vraja lady walking on the road, bright green skirt, head and face covered with a thin brilliant red dupatta, hands at her hips balancing 3 large multi-sized brass water pots above her head, the picture of feminine gracefulness and strength. In the dark we reach Manasi Ganga entrance at Govaradhan village, dandavats begin. Turning right, we pass Giriraja Sweet Shop and hear the voice of Deena Bandhu prabhu calling Radhe Shyam Baba. Placing my head on his feet, seeking blessings, then abusing my friendship and wiping my sweaty dusty face on his dhoti. Turning left at Dangati, a place where I have questioned the sanity of dandoti wallas for many years, the imperial pooch on the path won’t move, his eyes gazing into the distance like a sadhu immersed in nama japa, a cart carrying busa pulled by a horse wearing ankle bells and whose ears have been sculpted to be very small sharp points, banana carts on the left side luring buyers to purchase fruits as seva for my furry simian friends, stretching out in the midst of hundreds of the passionate rascals we keep the mind fixed on our sankalpa knowing that a single moment distraction will invoke Giriraja’s mercy in the form of ape bite. Dandavat down .. a beautiful brown heifer standing like a goddess, dandavat up, the heifer begins her run at high speed, leaping, twisting her body like a ballerina, kicking the air, being pursued by a stately white bull afflicted with amorous intent. Scooter rickshaws speeding surprisingly close to my head, funky Vraja tractor buses taking kids to school, turning on the inside path, shade, and soft cotton like Vraja dust has been ground and reground by the hooves of Shyam’s meandering Surabhi cows, Kadamba trees, the trees with the yellow blossoms, bougainvilla, the ever so soft dust, a 15 minute group break, all flat on our backs in the cool dust, a most blissful stretch of dandavats, Giriraja Govardhan always on our right, a very healthy young boy falsely cries that his very round and full belly is starving, silence, golden silence, sun rays slow us down, I stop cursing Suryadeva and request him to burn more and more, burn away all my desires, all false conceptions, and let a new spiritual person rise from the ashes, with only the desire to serve Radhe Shyam, we were all covered in soft dust, devotees walked by and did not recognize us, how wonderful, how nice, unknown, disguised in Vraja dust, the soul is disguised with the dust of countless births and material conceptions, O Giriraja, burn away the dirt of so many conceptions, so many hopes for material enjoyment, let us live the lives of souls surrendered to God, let us always dwell in the house of humility and let us have faith that in that house the Lord will create our special room of love. Vrajavasi boys play games with dandavatis, sometimes striking them with sticks or tossing dirt upon their bodies, testing if the dandavati keeps his mind fixed in the mood of humble yearning for spiritual attainment, Krishna is the most clever Vrajavasi boy, let Him arrange that our mind’s desire for fame, prestige, pride be beaten nicely, please Giriraja, let us keep our mind fixed upon the one thing we desire the most, Radha and Krishna’s pure devotional service. The hand pump near the gate of Vasundhara is our marker, 700 meters till Aniyor. Tomorrow at 05:30 we resume. O Vrindavan, my home, the land I love, please let me serve you.
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