I am never too excited to make these holy trips that involve temple visits or deity prayers. No disregard, but I always fail to associate myself with the rituals. Not that I am not spiritual but just a little bit difficult for me to connect with idol worships, especially when there are thousands of idols and millions of stories around them! I try doing my own thing and have been on my spiritual path lately through reading or practicing few things related. As a sales pitch Rahul explained the entire duration of proposed trip to Vrindavan not extending beyond 24hrs. I pleasantly surprised my husband and accepted weekend getaway to Vrindavan, the holy city.
So here we go! Rahul and me board our car and make our move to Yamuna express way. It was morning hours and just two of us, so it was very quiet and amazingly peaceful. If at all we would be tempted to get into any sort of argument or displeased about anything, I had my book with me as backup plan.
The agenda was very clear and signed off even before we took off for the journey! We will visit bankey bihariji temple, ISCON temple and Maharishi ashram. I was very fine as it involved only 2-3 hrs. of temple and darshan and rest all will be Me Time! Rahul had a well laid out plan, the cab, our pandit Ji to escort us for special darshan and garden view room.
Our first stop was to be at Bankey Bihari Ji and pandit Ji was there at sharp 11:30am. It was a non-festive weekend and hence not expecting too much crowd. As we were driving to the temple, I was reliving my previous experience of annoyingly large number of people pushing each other, making noise and unforgettable sweating non-deodorant body odors! Last time we were innocent enough to make a visit to Krishnabhumi during Holi! Site was dreadful with millions of people crazily moving in the same direction. I was just hoping we do not have to face that again although Rahul assured me of that. In few minutes we are asked to get down and leave our slippers in the car! Eeeks! I thought gave my first unhappy glance to Rahul and he returned back the sorry or it’s not that bad kind of a puppy eye look. We gracefully managed to ignore the spits, beetel leaf pukes, fresh or dried cow dung splashes, and dirt, nothing mattered. We knew we could always come back and wash our feet. It was all temporary dirt and didn’t count when so many people were there to wash off their sins they have gathered in their lives for so long!
We managed our way through these thin lanes with old constructions on both sides. Even though it was bright and sunny afternoon these streets had their darkness. You can see some poor/needy old men, women and dogs sharing the same small counters or the floor to sit and shared their plight of innumerable flies and this smell that is definitely unexplainable for people like us who spend their lives in aromatic toilets with all those dispensers. These needy people on streets seemed to be used to the rotten smell and were very comfortable in their attires. All they are hoping are for few coins or some food that passersby like us would share, actually throw in their small bowls or bags. Anyhow, while doing this chase of panditji to find our entry to Bankey Bihari Ji, my mind just splashed into it’s disbelief for few seconds wondering how come in a city of god, there are so many poor people and how come even after so many years of spending their life in gods doorsteps haven’t been relieved of their grief! But then I immediately reminded myself of theory of karma and past life! Well they must be paying for past life karmas and hence they ought to be the way they are. So again I continue in midst of monkeys staring at any opportunity to grab anything that you may carry in your hands or wearing in your eyes! I couldn’t have ignored the eternal love of monkeys for spectacles/eye glasses.
After this short marathon we made it to the dwar and now that my mini marathon was over I got my attention back to surroundings and was shocked to see the crowd, I was again feeling human pushes! Feeling was same, plump and sweaty men and women finding their way to the entry!! It was some kind of cut the chase and is the first ones to enter! What was the rush for? Aren’t we all there to pray and ask for blessings and shouldn’t that be a matter of peace? What is the hurry all about? Bankey Bihari Ji has got his permanent residency there and he is not going anywhere. I had promised myself that this visit I am not bringing my thinking brain along. It was simple visit with no reasoning. But I could see I was struggling within too and wondering that god believers/followers also feel that if its god’s will they will find their darshan, no matter what! Why could not these so god believing Krishna bhakts remember their first lessons of any Bhakti! I would, although I don’t claim to be one of them! Well I realized this was my second look of disappointment to Rahul and he very peacefully held my hand and gave me his visual advice of being patient! He smiled and conveyed he wasn’t expecting this crowd but then pandit Ji clarified it’s weekend crowd from Delhi and now we realized the visits were more frequent from Delhi walas including Noida walas, Haryana walas because now it’s the convenience of express ways and matter of no time you have this wonderful drive!
I reaffirmed myself that this was also gods wish to have more and more people have faith in goodness and make these holy visits!
We got these two nice white flowers garland for presenting to Bankey Bihari Ji and pandit Ji also found a small thin built boy whose chacha was serving the god today and hence our garlands were guaranteed to make it to bankey Bihari jis neck…!
I was there to see if I can form connect with bankey Bihari Ji. While I was being dragged by Rahul’s pull to find the front most place to have darshans I was also being pushed back by crowd at the same time. In midst of this tug of war I was amazingly having this glimpse of craziness in Bhakti, the Bhakts including Rahul were busy making eye contact with Bankey Bihari Ji. I just overheard someone saying in great excitement that today was one of this rare opportunity when idol was placed outside and one can have clear beautiful darshan! We were lucky!
The chaos in the mandir kept me away from connects with the almighty but I didn’t want to be later regretting and missing the action. So I forced myself to stop and looked into his eyes and made contact with those silvery eyes and black deity, I had never before seen such Krishna avatar! I was amazed at the sight and I had my silent conversation with him that he should form connect with me and I actually I felt as if he was giving me back that smirk and asked me to shut up so I actually did and started feeling the surroundings! By now I was quite comfortable with the atmosphere. To some secret orchestra playing I could hear this chorus of jay bankey Bihari ki and this not very well choreographed display of chanting with both hands raised. I mentally thought of imitating that but then couldn’t gather the courage to join the euphoria. Suddenly I saw my husband lying on the ground, managing to lie down and make his contact with the ground and follow the ritual of dandwat pranam, a way to express your utmost respect and belief! He was making most of this opportunity and ensuring all blessings coming his way! Though I was still not euphoric and feeling clash with my aryasamaji genetic mindset and latest Buddhist passion I felt very relieved and at peace! I was actually thinking it doesn’t matter it’s idol worship or meditation the idea for me was to find my peace and I did manage to get my share of peace in that chaotic environment!
We came out and I wouldn’t mind spending few more minutes there! As we stepped out panditji again made us go to this boy who actually had helped us with our presentation to almighty! He had this haldi paste which he generously applied on Rahul’s forehand and mine of course I did ask him to be less generous to me! We had our garlands around us and small yellow piece of cloth tied, looks like it was another expression of taking back your blessings from god! Suddenly this felt the right moment for selfie and here was time for us to move to our next destination ISCON! Again we were chasing barefoot our panditji this time with a feeling of accomplishment and full darshan satisfaction! Finding our way from monkeys saving our prashad, a samosa and peda each, we finally reached our stop.
Needless to say, on my way back to home from Vrindavan, I did find my connection not with the idol, may be, the innumerable stories I heard sound still unbelievable! But I connected with the spirit, the purity of Radhey-Radhey, that not only you hear as normal word of greet but also spoken by Rikshawallas to find way on the busy streets, the sounds of kirtans that play on speakers in distant temples or small temple at our resort. You also see on every wall, or a door in the houses an imprint of Hey Radhey. Unlike other places I visited this city is untouched of any modernity or urban mindset. The tilaks on our forehead seemed nice and gave me a reason to revisit this faith and come back again! Radhey-Radhey, I said silently to imaginary Krishna I could visualize playing in those fields on the roadsides that connect Vrindavan to Expressway!!!