Padayatra America Report
Posted June 21, 2003
My mother and I had just returned from a four hour drive to Virginia, where I had visited with my Father, step-mother and Aunt.
The trip to Virginia was good. The visit with my Father and step-mother showed a definite increase in their God consciousness and lifestyle since my previous visit about fifteen months ago. During my previous visit they were both drinking heavily, smoking and in general not so inspired in life. Relationship problems, property problems and health problems, you know the usual nectar material life has to offer us. In my previous visit I had allowed my step-mother to prepare some apple sauce, which I then offered to pictures of Srila Prabhupada, Gaura-Nitai and Sri Sri Radha-Londonisvara. My Dad and his wife stood by and watch the offering, completely dumb struck. They asked a lot of questions afterwards and also tried the prasadam.
This visit I was amazed to find that both of them have given up drinking for almost one year, my step mom has stopped smoking and they are both going to church every Sunday. This is definitely a miracle, as my Father has been a serious alcoholic for many many years. They both seem much more satisfied and the house they live in was impressively cleaner that I have ever seen it. This to me showed the power of association, prasadam, Srila Prabhupada and the Holy Name. They may not relate my visit with their lifestyle transition, but I cannot help to notice, although I know that it has nothing to do with me, more to do with the mercy of Srila Prabhupada and his teachings to us melechas.
Anyhow, my mother and I had been back at her house in Maryland for no more than ten minutes when the phone rang. It was my brother phoning. He is following in the footsteps of my Father and is really struggling in life, although very reluctant to admit it. He is about to face a one to three year jail sentence for drunk driving and possession of marijuana.
Being the sort of arrogant, inconsiderate person I am, I have a tendency to preach to or at him in a pretty harsh way. Our phone conversation lasted about one and a half hours and was a series of arguments and hanging up the phone on one another. During the conversation though, Tommy, my brother, made some good points and I was really trying to see Krishna's hand. Tommy commented that I was not a good preacher. He said to be a good preacher you have to listen to the person you are speaking to and not just tell tell tell as if you know it all before you have given them a chance to explain or at least allowing them the space to share freely and develop a trusting relationship. I am sure we can all agree this is correct. He stressed that HEARING is very important. I was humbled and amazed, although found it a hard pill to swallow that my convict brother was telling me about preaching. I am so proud, a great disqualification to successful preaching.
During the conversation, both my Mother and step-father were in the house. I think they eventually got sick of the carryings on and decided to go back down to the barn. They had already been once, but decided to do something they had forgotten.
Me and my brother finally ended on an OK note. I was introspective and began wondering how I could really give him Krishna consciousness and also pondering some intense experiences that he had shared with me. I was a bit shaken and a little disturbed.
Then my Mother began shouting my name from outside and came running up to the house all red faced and out of breath. I went out side and she said. I invited them to stay. They are gonna stay the night.
I looked around but saw no one and was wondering what she was on about.
She said they are Krishnas, and she looked up the road past the pasturing ground for the cows.
I thought she had finally gone mad! I was bewildered and said , what are you talking about?
She proceeded to explain that she had heard the bells and chanting on the main road, Route 67 beside our house. She ran to see what it was and found a horse drawn carriage. She started shouting Hare Krishna Hare Krishna are you guys Krishnas. The wagon stopped and the driver said Yes, Hare Krishna. Then my Mom told them that her son was here from London and was a devotee (little does she know the demon still lurking inside). She invited them to visit. They asked if there was a place to park up and stay the night. Mom looked at my step-father who nodded yes and she asked how many there were. The driver said just the four of us. The four later turned out to mean two horses, the driver and his wife.
I asked if she was sure they were Hare Krishnas and she said yes. I asked have you ever seen devotees here before and she said No.
I was confused and excited, but uncertain what to expect. I said that maybe it was Padayatra, but didn't know there was one in the USA?
So my Mom told me they would be coming down our road any minute. I walked up the road a bit to greet them, thinking that this was very unusual and not knowing what to expect. Then the yellow wagon appeared on the hill. Sri Sri Nitai-Gaura Sundara in all their glory blessed me with their darshan. I immediately offered obeisances to the deities and pranams to the Vaisnavas. Such beautiful deities. Dancing with both arms raised. So wonderfully transcendental and in the middle of the boonies. I was completely transported, by their mercy to the spiritual realm. This was Padayatra America on its fiftenth day from Gita Nagari, Port Royal Pennsylvania.
I guided them down to my folks place and we parked them up in the back of the house. The driver Avadhuta Prabhu and his wife Candrabhaga dasi proceeded to fill me in on all their adventures and their mission of Padayatra America. They are on their way to South America. This is a big, bold, daring adventure. The trip will take about five years.
The deities were installed at Gita Nagari, by His Holiness Bhakti Tirtha Maharaja in the presence of Sri Sri Radha Damodara, from the bus party. I felt truly blessed.
Avadhuta Prabhu then explained how each day was a mystical experience with Nita-Gaura Sundara at the helm. He told me how the day before they were on there way when some nice people stopped them and took darshan of the deities. It was afarmer and his wife. They said they could stay for the night an din the morning the farmer explained that on the road they were heading there was a low railroad bridge that the wagon would not fit under. They went to have a look and sure enough, and impassable route that would have caused them lots of problems turning around or getting stuck. Krishna had interviened, using the farmer as an instrument in service. The farmer gave them a new route, although very hilly, passable. This new route is what put them on Route 67 and what brought them to my parents house.
This was an amazing coincidence. I mean I do not know any other devotees around here for many many miles and the fact we had just returned from Virginia only and hour and a half previous, not to mention my parents had just gone down to the barn... so many far out things that only the Lord could arrange.
The three of us talked and shared experiences. My mom and step-father had now, by some unforseen mercy, taken darshan of installed deities. They had not been to a Temple, so Krishna came to them. This to me marked the extreme mercy I am so fortunate to be a part of. They have been so favourable to me that the Lord has personally appeared in his Vigraha form to engage them directly. And this is what happened.
My Mom immediately began to prepare some food. We had brought back so much prasadam from our trip, and I was commenting to my Mother before the wagon appeared on the scene, that she was such a good cook and prepared so much that she would have to come to London and cook a Sunday Feast sometime. I then said that we needed to do a prasadam distribution programme with all the leftovers, as I could not possibly relish all this mercy myself.
Now Krishna had made arrangements. Mom heated up the prasadam and my step father shucked some fresh sweet corn. Mom cooked it and then this corn was offered to the deities. This is not a normal situation. In the temple you have to be Brahman initiated, yet Gaura Nitai's mercy just allowed both of my parents to prepare and make an offering. This is real mercy.
The devotees came inside to prepare their plates and they commented that this was the Sunday Feast they had wanted. My mother and I looked at each other and I said, just see Mom, Now you have cooked a Sunday Feast! She laughed and commented how she could not believe the Lord's mercy.
My step-father commented that this was unbelievable and did not know how something this wonderful could have happened. He also said that this was the nicest thing that could have happened to me, after such an intense phone conversation with my brother.
I had been fully transported now and could not believe my fortune. There were now devotees and deities on my parents property. This was unreal! Complete Nectar.
Now the real Nectar.
The Nectar of Devotional Service
The next morning I went down for Mangala Arati. Afterwards Avadhuta Prabhu showed me the left side rear wheel. An old wooden antique wheel that supported and carried the Lord. The wheel was breaking and when we jacked up the wagon, the wheel just fell off. It was held on only by sheer pressure and weight. Another miracle! They were here in a safe place with grazing grounds for the horses and I could help them fix this wheel.
This turned into a serious mission.
To Be Continued.....