21 kms of dandavats: day 1

On Tuesday morning I left home at 05:00 accompanied by Madhava, Radha Mohan, Brajavasi Govinda and Bengali Gopinatha Bhadra. It was cool and very dark. Turning right at the Delhi highway we passed Chatikara and after a few kilometers turned left at Jait. The headlights cut the Vraja night and showed us red brick houses, blue doors, a saffron, white, green Indian flag painted on a boundary with a symbol of a hand instead of the dharma chakra, early risers squatting with fearful faces beneath hand pumps for their morning ablutions, shadows of large water buffaloes cast upon the walls, and small cow dung houses with ornamental design covering mounds of cooking patties. We arrived at the railway tracks waiting 15 minutes as two express train roared past one another. Returning to the Govardhan Road before Ral, we crossed the irrigation canal, passed Mukhara’s village, and slowly entered Radha Kund. When our driver parked in front of State Bank of India we left all inessentials and silently walked to Radha Kund. Moving down the steep ramp at the end of the Kund we performed acaman, offered obeisance, prayers, and were greeted by Sacinandan Swami and Sruta Kirti Prabhu. Maharaja reminded us that our parikrama was seva to please Radha and Krishna and that we should keep ourselves internally aligned with a fixed vow and prayer of divine aspiration. Hearing his deep instructions, sweetly spoken with a smile, we went the feet of Kundesavara Mahadeva and began the offering of our dandavats. Taking short breaks we concluded after 4.5 hours at Kusum Sarovar. Covered with a thick plaster of Vraja dust, mixed with perspiration, we took bath in the cool waters of Kusum Sarovara. I prayed that as the waters of the lake washed away the dust from our bodies, that our parikrama would wash away the dust of our hearts. Remembering Shyamsundar’s harassment of the Gopis collecting flowers at Kusum Sarovar we hoped for Giriraja Govardhan’s grace, to one day see these pastimes, and to become a flower-picking servant, protected by Sri Radha, as Krishna attempts to steal her flowers. O Vrindavan, my home, the land I love, please let me serve you.

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