Everywhere Is Becoming Ganga, a Mayapur Flood Escape Story
Posted September 29, 2006
The milkman came to deliver his daily bucket of milk - "No thank you," said
my husband, "Don't you know what is happening? We are packing up because of
The next morning was more alarming - the water level was rapidly rising. To
leave or not to leave? "Why not just stay happily on the top floor and take
an occasional dive directly into our merciful Mother Ganga?" one might ask...
"and swim in ecstacy to the Lotus feet of Nrsimhadeva? And in this way wait
for the flood to end." Some of the more experienced residents of Mayapur
could answer this - there will be no electricity, eventually the water will
stagnate, it will be full of sewage that has washed up, full of dead
entities, mosquitoes and diseases, food will become scarce as well as
drinking water, no clean bathing water will be available....the initial joy of
the children will turn in to runny noses and colds and flu as they will be
constantly wet, during the last flood some had jaundice too, not to speak of
the boredom of keeping a child in one room for four weeks until everything
has dried up, not forgetting to mention the water snakes....I took one look at
my four-year old son and decided we had to move out immediately - so on Day
2 we headed for the "Long Building" where all the devotees normally
congregate during the flood, and where a few stalwart local devotees will
reside for the duration of the flood to take care of Their Lordships...From
there at least it was close to the road which was a little elevated so that
one could still escape.
We swim to greetings and have the most ecstatic Darshan of Lord Nrsimhadeva,
Pancha Tattva and SriSri Radha Madhava ever. The few remaining devotees
shout as the curtains are drawn open. Someone brought a boat and the
smaller children circumambulate the Deities in floating fashion. We see two
of those famous (or notorious?) water snakes also circumambulating the Lord,
gliding in zig-zag fashion. (A few devotees carry sticks to push them away
if they should come close). Kirtana is ecstatic - jumping and splashing in
the water. And the Deities look the most beautiful ever....dressed in pink
and blue flower outfits, very simply, without any of the usual flower
garlands (no flowers for obvious reasons) and just a small bouquet in
Radharani's hand.....the Darshan is sweet and intimate.
To our shock and amazement we are told the road has gone under and there is
no way any vehicle can travel on it, we have to row all the way to Rajapur
(the next village). The boatman is not sure which way to go. We row in
circles....now the full extent of the flood becomes visible....I have never seen
such a vast expanse of water, I feel like one of the seven sages on King
Satyavrata's boat. Who is our Matsya? The Holy Name. My husband, Shastra
dasa, takes his accordian (wow - that move nearly toppled over the boat!)
and we have kirtana all the way. Ramananda Raya (my son) nearly falls
asleep apart from the ants that nibble him awake. Ants? Yes, the tree tops
are black, full of insects trying to save themselves. Huge black ants try
to cling to any floating object....no one wants to die.
We finally spot some people in the distance. Some locals approach us, vehement exchanges of words take place in Bengali, we do not understand a word but it is clear the boatman has no idea where we are.
More people come wading through the water to push us. Finally we reach a
shallow area with water rapids...we are told to climb down. We wade through
the water holding on to each other and the locals help to push the luggage
on the boat.
Two rikshaw men agree and they load us all onto the rikshaws. I cannot
believe the flood had spread so far. Now we are heading along what used to
be the road, and we pass hundreds of local villagers. I feel great pain in
my heart as I see old ladies trying to carry bundles above the water level.
There is a patch of dry land left near the Gaudiya Math, and all the cows
from the villages have been taken there. My heart breaks when my husband
tells me that the General Manager of Mayapur, Nitai Prasad Prabhu, had
informed him that the Government had opened another dam so the second inpour
of water was expected later in the day. The villagers do not know this but
I know that soon that last patch of land will also be under and the cows
will have nowhere to go.
Ramanada Raya cannot believe his eyes. "Mama, everywhere is becoming Ganga!" he says. I ponder about the deeper meaning of the flood. Mother Ganga is visiting all the Deities in the different temples, she is uniting her devotees together at those temples completely depending on the Lord's mercy, but she is also purifying everything, liberating many living entities, and purifying us.
I start worrying that even Rajapur which is on a higher level and normally stays dry might be under by now....but I thank Krishna as I see people walking on dry land in the distance and a few vehicles around.
On the long, dangerous road to Kolkata, where there are no left- or right hand lanes, where taxis, buses, huge trucks, horses, rikshaws and cows drive, walk, dodge and hoot at breakneck speed, navigating around huge potholes, I wonder whether it would have been safer staying in Mayapur....better drown in a flood than leave your body on this hellish road! But today in Kolkata I think about all those still left in Mayapur, about how they will survive, about the cows and old ladies, about the children who might get pneumonia or starve, and about the villagers who have lost all their houses and property, how some western devotees might still be there, not having the money to pay for travels to other parts of India.
We are still receiving news that the water levels are rising more....now it is being said that it will be the biggest flood ever, bigger than the 2000 or 1978 ones. Please keep Mayapur in your prayers and support any Flood Relief or Flood Repair programs they might have. It will cost millions to repair the damage. ISKCON has some FFL operations already going, so please support them.
Please check their website at www.Mayapur.com to get updates.