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IBSA (ISKCON Bhaktivedanta Sadhana Asrama), Govardhana, India
22 January 2004

Report from HG Jayatirtha Caran Prabhu on the Auckland Temple Opening
Auckland, New Zealand

(festivities were held during the week of 11-17 January)

Okay so this is what I was up to the last week, or at least arranging for it, going around buying all the ingredients, setting it all up and then ready to open the new temple, move the Deities in and do some yajnas there too.

We had in attendance; Sri Sriyuts HH Jayapataka swamin, Prabha-vishnu swamin (GBC for Australasia), Indradyumna swamin, Ramai swamin (co-GBC), Bhakti-visram-madhav swamin, Devamrita swamin (co-GBC), Hari Sauri prabhu ACBSP, all the Australian Temple Presidents; Aniruddha from Melbourne, Atmarama ACBSP from Sydney, Ajita prabhu from Murwillumbah, Tirtharaj prabhu from Brisbane, former TP of Christchurch and Auckland Alalanath prabhu ACBSP, present TPs and managers of New Varshan (Auckland temple farm) Jaya Sila prabhu ACBSP and Kalasambhava prabhu ACBSP, Hanuman prabhu, TP of Christchurch, and about 1000 other devotees.

It was incredible.

I was in charge of all the moving of the Deities, organizing all the VIPs to carry the Deities to the vehicles and to bring the Deities into the new temple and oversee the bathing/abhishek, as well as the installation of Sudarshan chakra and flag and kalashs on the roof and various yajnas in the temple room.

I guided Hari Sauri prabhu through the dhyan for installing Sudarshan into the sacred waters that later we'd bathe the Deities and do prokshaniyam of inside and outside the temple and pour those waters over the temple spire, chakra, flag and main kalashas about the high points of the temple. The process goes something like this; I recite one mantra that describes Sudarshan with His 1000 arms, so many weapons, fangs as teeth, flames as a tongue, kagul around His eyes, mekhala belt, ankle bells, so many things, and it makes a visual image in the mind, well then using a flower to transfer that image we that was invoked in the mind we drop that flower into 200 litres of water and recite Sudarshan gayatri over it. We then installed the Sudarshan chakra and did about ten nyasa homas to Sudarshan invoking His protective presence. In the afternoon Ramai swami, Prabhavishnu swami, and Devamrita swami, as well as former headmaster of the Gurukul Bhava prabhu, and Kalasambhava ACBSP assisted in the bathing of the Chakra,Dwaj and Kalashas on the roof.


A designer's model of the new ISKCON Mandir at Kumeu on the outskirts of Auckland, New Zealand.
 

The next day we brought the Deities down from the old temple to the new one, about one kilometer down to the back of the property. There were devotees in front, devotees behind and devotees by the road side all chanting Hare Krishna, some making offerings as we went. In the very front car was our resident police officer in his police car, Rasik prabhu TKG giving a police escort with flashing lights, and behind him was the front car of the procession with Big Srila Prabhupad with Jagannath Baladev Subhadra in the back of the car with a couple of pujaris fanning Them, as the temperature was pleasantly in the high 20s C (27-29 C). In the next vehicle, a convertible sports car of one Indian congregational member rode Gaura Nitai assisted by a few pujaris holding Them and some fanning Them.

The next car was small Srila Prabhupad and two sets of Radha Krishna utsav Deities for the 1008 Kalash maha-abhishek that evening, where we had got over 1008 sponsors for different quality kalashas (gold, silver, copper) they can bathe the Lord on special snan-vedis.

By the Lord's mercy I was on the horse drawn coach with Radha and Giridhari, Who we had to have sitting opposite each other as They would in Their real jhulan festivals in Vraj so They can look at each other. My service was to help hold Radharani with Kalasambava prabhu, on the other seat was Indradyumna swami and Jaya Sila prabhu holding Giridhari. The Deities are over three feet tall (about one meter) made of solid marble, so They are very heavy in weight. Hari Sauri and Ajita prabhu were on one side of the coach and Ramai swami and Jayapataka swami on the other, and all manner of Radha Krishna katha was being told.

Then a big black bumble bee flew onto the coach circled the Deities a few times, hovering in front of Radharani and then Giridhari and then settled on Giridhari's garland--Hari Sauri prabhu then mentioned how a similar thing once happened in Mayapur with Prabhupad there, to which Prabhupad said this was very auspicious sign. The journey down the road was wonderful and smooth, and when we got to the temple there were hundreds of devotees there many many Indian matajis chanting Gujarati songs to Radha Giridhari and throwing rose petals and rose water. Just then another big black bumble bee landed on Srimati Radharani as we carried Her to the temple up the steps, as the last Deity entered into the temple devotee came and told me that it was raining with the Sun shining (divya-snan).

Prabhu the next part I cannot even describe in words. We had four snan vedis in the new Deity room, I appointed one devotee to fill and pour liquids from a kalash and another to hold a big Laxmi conch, except on Prabhupada's snan-vedi where he was bathed with kalash only by his dedicated servant Hari Sauri prabhu, assisted by Christchurch temple president Hanuman prabhu. Tirtharaj, Auckland head pujari Narad-rishi prabhu and head pujari from Melbourne Murari Chaitanya were looking after Gaura Nitai, Alalanath prabhu and Anirudha prabhu and Atmarama prabhu, and BVM maharaj were looking after Jagannath's snan-vedi. Indradyumna swami, Devamrita swami, Jaya Sila prabhu and Kalasambhava prabhu were all around the central snan-vedi of Radha-Giridhari. I was handing all the various sodasa upacharas to Jayapataka swami for him to offer to each set of Deities prior to the actual bathing, and then the bathing began. Pure waters to begin with, then Panch-gavya, Panchamrita (milk, yogurt, ghee, honey, sugar water) then rose waters, scented waters with musk of Ratnarani (night queen), Bakool flowers, fragrant Mogra oils placed into the waters, fruit juice bath; dark grape juice, pineapple juice, cranberry juice, orange juice and apple juice, then five kinds of fragrant herbs and spices bathed through the sahasra dhar with cool waters, then warm waters, then Ganges water, then rose water again and finally the protective Sudarshan tattwa homa waters, Ramanuja prabhu passing each item to me in the sequence I placed them.

After the bathing the Deities were dried and dressed in towels and the bathing sets cut up and thrown out to the hundreds of devotees eagerly chanting in the temple room. The curtains closed for a few minutes while devotees then dressed the Deities into a simple but decorative night set so that the Lord could quickly receive Their super opulent Raj-bhoga offering that was just completed in Their new Deity kitchen. The floor was cleaned and Their new marble tables filled with preps, but also all the floor was covered in many many preparations and offered to the Lord. After some time we handed the first of those dry food prasadams to Jayapataka swami and he began to distribute them over the balustrade to the eager sea of devotee hands waving upward to receive it. This went on with all of us also helping and all the Lord maha-prasadam off Their plates being distributed.

We then did prayascitta homas, and the Iskcon mangal archana homa to cover for any inconveniences we may have caused the Deities over the last few days, and begged Their blessings and forgiveness. The atmosphere by now completely transcendentally surcharged; numerous devotees including Hari Sauri prabhu, Kalasamvara prabhu, Jaya Sila prabhu, Bhava prabhu, Alalanath prabhu and myself all said it was one of the most memorable and truly life altering moments of our devotional careers.

What more can I say. . . . . . . . . . . . There's other stories too like the lady who gave a $70,000 donation to fix the road all around the temple, the Mayor of the district, President of local Hindu temples, ASB Trust bank who donated $250,000 toward the community aspect of the project for the prasadam hall, etc, and other groups all spoke so nicely, it was such a buzz.

The entire mood of the place is just like Vrindavan, the temple overlooks the estuary, and in itself "is a million dollar view" as they say. The breeze that comes from the estuary is so refreshing, you have to visit to really appreciate what has been done here, it is something special, really special. I humbly yet boldly declare that there's no doubt that Prabhupad would be pleased (this was said by many devotees, but in particularly by Atmananda prabhu ACBSP, eyes full of tears and quivering chin and lips. . . . . . .

There were many pictures taken, we may get hold of some soon, will share if you like, pretty inspirational stuff. . . . . . . .

Trusting this finds you well in every respect.

I beg to remain, yours in the humble service of the Lord and His devotees.

Shubh dinam astu or Have a Nice Day

Shri KrishnArpanamAstu

ys, JTCd

 

Sri Sri Govardhana Samvasan
Prarthana Dasakam

by Srila Raghunath das Goswami

1.


An ancient temple carving in stone of Lord Krsna lifting the Govardhana Hill.
 

O Govardhana! You became the umbrella which was held by the arm of your own Lord Krsna! In this way Sri Krsna diminished Indra, the king of the demigods, who was intoxicated by great pride. You are the incomparable king of all the big mountains, pl ease allow me to live close by you.

2.

O Govardhana! The young Divine Couple, Sri Sri Radha-Krsna, play splendid wild loving games in your every cave, so I became very eager to see Them there. Please allow me to live close by you.

3.

O Govardhana! In topmost joy Krsna plays together with Balarama and the cowherd boys in your incomparable jeweled pavilions and thrones, in the hollows of your trees, in your caves, and valleys. Please allow me to live close by you!

4.

O Govardhana! You are the witness of Radha and Krsna's tax game (In which Krsna charges tax from the ghee the gopis carry on their heads) which is an ocean of mellows. You increase the joy of the mellows of the devotees with your display of bluis h platforms that are full of splendour and fragrance. Please allow me to live close by you!


Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami in his mood of renunciation in total dependence upon the mercy of Lord Jagannathadeva.
 

5.

O Govardhana! You affectionately and secretly embrace the neck of your own dear friend, Sri Radha Kunda, the place which is very dear to you and Lord Hari. Please allow me to live close by you and show me the intimate pastimes of the Divine Young Couple there!

6.

O Govardhana! You make your name, nourisher of cows, successful by constantly giving land, water, grass and the shade of your trees to the cows and thus you are famous in the three worlds. Please allow me to live close by you!

7.

O Govardhana! Your glories are increased by the enemy of Aghasura and Bakasura, Sri Krsna, when He protected the Vrajavasis and vanquished Indra by quickly using you as their new shelter from the rain. Please allow me to live close by you. !

8.

O Govardhana! King of mountains! Because the nectar of your name as Hari's best servant emanated from Srimati Radharani's pearl-like mouth, which was revealed by Vedic scriptures like Srimad Bhagavatam (10. 21. 18), you are called the new tilaka (bec ause of your long thin bluish shape at the edge of Vraja) of Vraja. Please allow me to live close by you.

9.

O Govardhana! You are the only giver of joy to Sri Sri Radha Krsna and Their associates, that are always surrounded by the people, animals and birds of Vraja in the mood of friendship. Please mercifully accept me and allow me to live close by you.

10.

O Govardhana! Although I am vile and deceitful, the causelessly merciful Sri Sacinandana submitted me to you. Therefore, do not consider whether I am qualified or unqualified and accept me. Allow me please to live close by you.

11.

Anyone who carefully recites these ten verses praising the king of mountains Srila Govardhana, that are the givers of divine mellows, will swiftly attain a place to live close by Govardhana, the bestower of bliss, and he will attain the precious jewe l of the auspicious loving service of the Divine Couple, Sri Sri Radha Krsna.

Sketches of a Devotee's Pre-Krsna Conscious Life in India

Back in the late 1980's I tape-recorded a series of interesting stories told me by an Indian devotee, whom I shall not name to protect his privacy. These stories relate his life as a young man from a South Indian smarta brahmin family, and trace how he gradually turned away from material life to Krsna consciousness. What you will read below begins in the Himalayas.

At 5:30 in the morning I began the upward trudge from the Rishikesh environs into the green Himalayan foothills. Some tree-cutters hailed me and asked where I was going. "Neelkanth Mahadev," I told them. They laughed. One of them shouted after me, "In another hour you'll be coming back!"

"No, I'm going up to pay my respects to Mahadeva Lord Shiva. "

Seeing that I was serious, the grin left his face. "This isn't pilgrimage season now," he said gravely. "Unless you are Lord Shiva's own man, you'd be better off to turn around and go back down the way you came. "

I kept walking through dense woods until the path was blocked by fallen trees. I took another route, one that led me over large boulders. My climb was not only very tiring, but gradually, as the whispery loneliness of the deep forest settled upon me, it became almost frightening. Doubt invaded my mind. Should I turn back like the w oodcutter said? I finally got to a spot where it was possible to rest. I was so exhausted that I dropped into sleep and woke up that afternoon. I'd had nothing to eat. I had nothing to eat. There was nothing to do except to keep on walking.


The temple of Neelkanth Mahadev, where Lord Shiva drank the poison that turned his throat blue.
 

I finally entered a valley formed by three hills called Vishnukoot, Brahmakoot, and Manikoot. Here stood the Neelkanth Mahadeva shrine that housed a Shiva-linga. At this site Lord Shiva drank the halahala poison produced from the churning of the mil k ocean millions of years ago. Showing honor to the poison's terrible power, Mahadeva's throat (kantha) turned blue (nila). Hence the name of this holy place.

After paying obeisances to the linga, I stood outside the shrine and surveyed the steep rock-studded woodland. I sat down to meditate. Soon the valley was covered by darkness and the fierce chill of an autumn night at a thousand meters above sea le vel. Next to the temple were a few sheds for pilgrims; I retreated inside one where I fell into an uneasy sleep. I sensed the presence of many ghosts.

Daylight broke over the peaks above. A brahmin priest and a few other persons were worshiping in the shrine. A confluence of mountain streams flowed nearby, so I bathed in these swift waters so cold they seemed to cut into my flesh. After my ablut ions, I got a bit of prasadam (sanctified foodstuffs) from the brahmin along with directions to the Manikoot peak. For nearly two kilometers I continued on my way, struggling up the slope until I arrived at Siddhon Ka Kot. The brahmin had told me t hat this was a place of meditation for great sages of old. He personally believed the yogis were still there, but invisible to modern people. I did feel an palpable spiritual aura about the area. But though there were caves enough, no yogis were t o be seen in them.

Munishananda had told me to visit Neelkanth Mahadeva; some days after his departure from Rishikesh I happened to meet Swami Shankarananda of the Shivananda Ashram who confirmed Munishananda's advice and added that I should go even higher into the mou ntains beyond Neelkanth Mahadeva. Both swamijis seemed certain I would attain something up here that would be of help in my spiritual quest. So far I hadn't found whatever they were hinting at, so I pushed ahead.

Trekking past a holy place called Sukhvasani Devi, I stayed my northward course. After a couple of hours I came to a huge boulder that blocked my path. A river of rubblestone had slid down from above with the boulder in its lead. It was labor to g et those rocks behind me; I looked at the sky and estimated that it was just past noon.

I rounded a bend and came face to face with a little boy. A bit behind him a girl hardly in her teens tended a small herd of goats. Both youngsters looked bedraggled and dirty. They wore odd earrings that appeared to be made from leather. Before I could say a word the two started shouting and throwing stones at me.

A cave yawned in the rock face to my right. I scrambled inside to avoid being pelted by the stones. The cavern was huge and illuminated by a fire flickering in the center of the floor. Before the flames sat a bearded yogi, his wirey body perfectly immobile in the padmasana pose of meditation. His long gray hair was matted and coiled into a great bun atop his head, and his fingernails had grown out even longer than Bala Yogi's. His ancient craggy face, relumined in the orange glow, was bent towards the flames, eyes fixed and staring. Next to him lay a chinda (a yogi's forcepts for picking up live coals) and a big pile of firewood.

The children did not dare enter the cave. I sat down near the yogi, but he gave me no notice. From the looks of him, he was deep in trance. I noticed a small metal trunk tucked into a shallow recess of the cave wall. After a few minutes of sitting in silence, my curiousity got the best of me. I went over to the trunk, squatted down and opened it. There were only letters inside, perhaps one hundred of them, still in their envelopes. The ones on top showed recent postmarks. As I sifted through the stack, I found some dating to before Indian independence. At the bottom were letters with postmarks from the 1880's. All were written from Meerut, the envelopes addressed to Swami Trilokeshwarananda Yogi in care of the Rishikesha post office. The oldest letters began 'Dear Sharmaji,' the later ones 'Respected Swami Maharaja. ' I looked over at the yogi, still frozen in meditation. Was this Sharmaji? Had he been here for ninety years?

Closing the trunk, I got to my feet and walked around. The cave was as large as the interior of a cinema house. At the end it narrowed to a niche twice the heighth of a man. A shaft opened in the top of the niche, tunneling straight up into the mountain. How far up it extended I could not tell--it was pitch black.

After about half an hour a mountain woman entered the cave carrying a rough wooden bowl filled with goat's milk. She wore the same sort of earrings as the children. I tried speaking to her but she cut me off with a cold look and then ignored me completely. She stood a respectful distance from the yogi, her eyes on the ground, waiting in silence. A few moments passed as he gradually came out of his trance. When he acknowledged her with a shake of his head, she quickly stepped forward to put the bowl down near him. Just as quickly she moved back. He threw the milk into the fire and took some ash from the fireplace. As she retrieved the bowl, she extended her right hand; the yogi dropped the ash into her palm. She bowed and hurried out.

I offered my pranams and dropped to my knees before him. "Swamiji. . . " I began. He interrupted me gruffly. "What are you doing here?"

"I came for your darshan," I said meekly.

"What do you want from me?

"I am just a sadhaka. I've come hoping to learn yoga from you. "

He winced in disgust. "You don't come here to learn. This is not a yoga school. Why don't you go down to Rishikesha and move into an ashram and learn some excercises?"

"I was there. I was sent here by Munishananda and Shankarananda. "

"Pah! How many times must I tell those fools down there not to send people up?"

"Please, can't I be your servant?"

"Serve how? I look at the fire. I don't need your help for that. "

I persisted, desperately trying not irritate him. I didn't doubt that if he cursed me, I'd be in a lot of trouble. "Swamiji, have mercy on me. I need some instruction in my spiritual life. I've come all the way up here from South India. Kindly help me. "

"What sadhana do you follow?"

"I chant Vishnu-sahashra-nama each day, and. . . . "

"This is no place for people who chant Vishnu's name," he said with finality.

"But whatever you are doing, you could show me. "

"What I am doing, you'll never be able to do. You people live on food. We live on sadhana. "

"But you could teach me to live on sadhana. "

The yogi shook his head and scowled. "I don't accept disciples. Now that you are here, you can stay one night. But don't bother me. I must do my meditation. " He stoked the fire and locked his eyes on it, tuning me out.

When he said 'you people live on food,' I realized how hungry I was. I ventured outside; the children had gone. I found a stream and filled my belly with its icy waters.

At about two in the afternoon, the mountain woman returned bringing water and flour in two bowls. While she waited, the yogi mixed the flour and water and made dough which he divided into two lumps. After flattening the lumps into patties between his palms, he threw them into the fire. He let them sizzle for two minutes before removing one blackened pattie with his chinda. He stood and walked to the back of the cave. There he broke the bread in half, throwing a piece up into the shaft as he called out, "Take it, Ma. " The piece of bread did not fall back.

He sat down at the fire again and tore the half-pattie still in his hand into two more pieces, giving me one. The other pattie just burned to a crisp in the fire. We ate; it tasted like a piece of coal with a gummy interior. After finishing, he rubbed his hands with ash and motioned for me to do the same. Then, as before, he gave the lady a little ash. She collected her bowls and departed. Without a word he stoked his fire and went back into trance.

It grew dark outside. I chanted the Thousand Names of Vishnu and went to sleep. I was awakened repeatedly by weird sounds, shouts and screams from outside; each time I sat up but saw nothing except the yogi gazing into the fire. When I rose the next morning, he was still in meditation. I went to the stream to wash myself, and as I returned I saw a young gentleman dressed in suitjacket, shirt, tie and pants hiking up toward the cave, a briefcase in his hand. He could have only come from Neelkanth Mahadev.

If I'd seen Shiva himself coming up the path, I wouldn't have been more astonished. Stock-still, I watched him until he drew near the cave. Then I called to him. He returned my greeting with a smile. I asked him what he was doing in the mountains.

Pausing for breath, he said, "I've just come from Meerut to see Swami Trilokeshwarananda. I need some ash for my mother. She's sick. And what are you doing here?"

We got to talking and went inside the gave. The yogi had not come out of his trance, so I tried to find out as much as I could from the young man about himself and 'Sharmaji. ' But he didn't know very much about the yogi except that he was a distant relative. It appeared that his family had told him little beyond ordering him to collect some ash. They'd sent him here once before for the same purpose.

As we whispered near the fire, the yogi's meditation broke. Before the young man could say anything the yogi rasped, "You again! I told you last time not to come up here anymore. "

After falling at the yogi's feet, the man knelt before him, head bowed and hands folded in prayer. "Maharaja, have mercy on us. Mother is sick. "

"Why do you people keep writing letters to me?" The yogi shot a glance over at me. "Did you read those letters?"

I was too embarrassed to reply.

"Of course you read those letters!" the yogi exclaimed. Suddenly as spry as a playful boy, he jumped up, cackled and shook his head in all directions until the bun on his head loosened. Great ropes of hair cascaded over his body, reaching to his knees. "Everybody who comes up here reads my letters," he whooped. "The fools have nothing else to do. " He turned to his visitor from Meerut, who had backed away in fright. "Now this time you take enough ash so that you don't have to come back. And tell your people to stop writing. "

The man nodded gratefully and opened his briefcase, removing a tin box. The yogi scooped handfuls of ash from the fireplace and unceremoniously dumped them into the box, spilling the gray powder all over the young man's clothes. When it was full to overflowing the poor fellow closed his box, returned it to the briefcase and, after bowing down once more, beat a hasty retreat from the cave.

Animatedly, the yogi strode over to a corner of the cave and picked up a snakestick (a coiled wooden walking stick). He smiled at me as if I were an old friend. "Let's go for a walk," he said. "I haven't been outside for a long time, you know. "

Taken aback at his sudden change of mood, I asked--just to keep up the conversation--"How many days was it since you last went out?"

He flung his head back and laughed. "Days! I stopped counting days a long time ago. " We stepped out into the sunlight. He took a deep breath and gazed around contentedly.

"Swamiji," I said, "How do you get letters up here?"

He snorted. "Once or twice a year the postmaster sends a team up here from Rishikesh with letters for me. I am the only one who gets letters. " He pointed with his snakestick up the valley where a rocky path wound around the mountain and disappeared. "There are sixty caves beyond mine. I'm the new man here. The sadhus up above use me as their contact to the outside world. I'm the only one who eats--once every few days, a little burned dough. They live on air. Once a year they come down to my cave, sixty sadhu-babas together! That you'd like to see!"

"Yes, I would. I'd like to go up and see them right now," I said bravely. Then my stomach growled.

He laughed, the sunlight revealing deep creases in his leathery face. "Oh, hungry young fellow! If you want a comfortable life with meals twice a day, doing a little meditation, you better go back down to Rishikesh. "

I smiled ruefully. "Swamiji, my problem is just that I don't know what sadhana to follow. I'm chanting Vishnu-sahashra-nama, I do tratak, but I don't know what is best for me. "

"What is your goal? That's the first point to settle. "

"Well. . . like those swamis in Rishikesh speak about constantly, my goal is kevalanand, oneness with God. "

He chuckled and was silent. We walked to the stream where, with cupped hands, he splashed water all over his near-naked body. Then he stood up straight, arched his head back and gazed into the sun that had moved near the granite peaks to the west. After a minute he looked at me and spoke.

"You should go up to Badrinath. You'll learn about kevalanand there. " Again he chuckled, muttering something under his breath.

"But here I could learn also, from the sadhus. . . . " He cut me off with a sarcastic barb: "Even if you threw yourself into their meditation fires, they wouldn't warm up to you. "

"Well, you said you are the new man here. How long did it take for you to be accepted by them?"

"If I told you when I came here, you wouldn't believe me anyway. I've been here too long. Too many people know about me now. Those Meerut people started to send letters to me only after they found out about this place. Before that it was peaceful here. Hah. . . I can remember Rishikesh before it became fashionable. That Paramarthaniketana Swami turned it into a tourist attraction. Before then, Rishikesh was a genuine place. "

I remembered something I'd wanted to ask him. "Swamiji--tell me, what happened to the bread you threw up into the shaft?"

"Hah. Before I moved into this cave, there was another who did worship to Kali Ma in that style. So when I took over, I continued. "

"But what happened to the bread, why didn't it come back down?"

He looked at me as if I was a fool for asking. "She takes it, that's all. "

As we walked back to his cave, the mountain woman came by with her goats and two children. "Don't bring any milk today," the yogi called to her. I bade him goodbye, deciding to walk back down to Rishikesh. For a few days I remained at the Munishananda Ashram.

During that time I visited the ashram of one Prem Baba. It was a simple place, the centerpiece being a fire kunda with a trident mounted in the middle. Prem Baba was a wild-looking Shaivite from Gujarat. It seemed he had only foreign disciples. There was a thin Italian woman, an Australian couple, a Swiss boy and a few others, all hippie types. One fellow played an instrument called a Ganjeera while Prem Baba lit his sacrificial fire. After chanting mantras and making offerings to Shiva, Babaji fired up a chillum (a clay hashish pipe), sucked in the smoke and, as he breathed it out, chanted BUM BUM BOLONATH BUM BUM BOLE.

The chillum went around the circle of disciples. Each first touched it to his or her forehead and then took a puff. When it came to me I put it to my head but passed it on without smoking. The Italian lady next to me urged, "No, no, you should-a take--con amore. "

"I don't do this," I said.

"Ees okay, just-a take. "


So I tried it out and choked on the harsh smoke. Afterward I had to lay down. When I awoke, it was the next morning. I took a bath and chanted Vishnu-sahashra-nama twice. Later in the market area I met the Italian and another European woman as they came by on a rickshaw. The Italian, hardly more than a skeleton in t-shirt and jeans, jumped down from the rickshaw and cried, "Oh, you please-a come again, see the guru!"

I said no, sorry, I am on another path. I tried to tell them that drugs were not good. The Italian girl held out her skinny limbs. "See, I have-a nothing. Don't matter no more. I die, become-a Om. "

I remembered what Trilokeshwarananda Yogi had said about Rishikesh being no longer 'a genuine place. ' I decided to go to Haridwar.

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