India - A love affair with Vrindavan
Vrindavan is the holiest place in the world. And you can feel this around every single corner. Lucky enough, it was my 4th and Markus 3rd visit already. Wow, this is a great blessing and we both have a love affair with Vrindavan. It looks terribly dirty on the outside (although it has improved a lot recently), it has such a wonderful feeling and vibe. We always feel like coming home. The first full day of Vrindavan was wonderful, crazy and really special.
In the morning we started early with a temple tour with Paramahamsa Vishwananda. For us photographers, the fun started right away. The old part of Vrindavan with its narrox streets is busy with people, cows, garbage and shit. And Paramahamsa Vishwananda is walking really fast. So it was jogging for us to be close to him and catch good pictures. Wow, for me it was a first time with him touring the temples as photographer and I got a full energy boost. I felt like having a cold with headache in the morning. But, as I was concentrating fully on him and
where he went and did not think of anything else, I completely forgot about how I was feeling. I just had the blast. I was full of joy and energy running behind him and visiting all theses wonderful temples. What an experiencing. Like this I really had the experience what happens when one concentrates on the divine - one is simply happy. And it is a special kind of happiness, I can hardly explain. I did not care of where I was, of what I do, of how I feel, of what others do or think - and I was happy like I have never been before in my life. I am so grateful to my spiritual master to give me this experience.
We visited Bhanke Bihare Temple, the most famous temple in Vrindavan, Radha Ramana Temple and many more. In our group were some south african musicians in the meantime and in the temples they sang and made great music and the group was dancing and enjoying the time. What a blissful morning. Unfortunately temples close in Vrindavan at noon. So we went back to our ashram for lunch. Then it was already time to prepare the evening. At 6 pm the Karthik Night started. This is a night in which Krishna in celebrated. There were ceremonies and the famous lamp representing Krishna around which we danced all night long. At 5 in the morning the night ended with an aarti. We all stayed awake and, of course, took lots of pictures.
After only 3 hours of sleep, the next morning we had morning prayers in the temple. Only few people came, but as o photographers, of course I was there and Markus joined me. Well, we were really tired, but the next big event was waiting for us. And, we are on a pilgrimage and not on a beach holiday. So after the prayers, it was time for a late breakfast and we went to by some much needed vitamins and have a strong chai in the shops around the Iskcon Temple about 10 minutes to walk away from our ashram. Then we had some lunch and preparation started for the Darshan. Paramahamsa Vishwananda was giving a Darshan (personal blessing of the people) in Vrindavan and there was a lot to prepare for the guests. Many locals and visitors alike came and it was a wonderful Darshan. Just our group was a little bit sad in the end. Because the Darshan meant also the end of our pilgrimage! The next morning we had final prayers with Guruji in our temple and then, with tears in our eyes, we said good-bye to him. He was going on another pilgrimage in Maharastra. Some people of our group joined him, but we stayed another 2 days in Vrindavan.
In these 2 days, a big wish of mine was coming true. I finally went to Radha Kund! This is the most sacred place in Vrinadavan and I have never been here before. It would have been nicer to go with Guruji in person there. But Swamini Kishori and some friends came with us and we all had him in our hearts. It was a wonderful time at Radha and Shyam Kund. Swamini even gave everyone a big blessing by sprinkling lots of holy water over us. Our little group had dinner together at the MVT Restaurant which was excellent.
Next day we slept in late. We needed to catch up a bit and missed the morning prayers (shame on us but we were so tired!). After a nice breakfast we went together with our friend Ulrike and Stefan to the Nidhivan Garden. This tulsi garden (tulsi is the holy basilicum) is the place where every night Krishna dances with his gopis - still today this is repeated. Although noone can enter the gardens at night the flower petals that are put there in the evening look like someone stepped on them the next morning and the food that is offered is eaten the next morning. It is a wonderful garden with different temples and we enjoyed our time in
there although many tourists wanted to take pictures of us in our traditiional clothes. Afterwards, it was shopping time in Loi Bazar. 2 ladies and 2 men going shopping together. We had great fun and in between enjoyed some nice chai. Back in the ashram, we packed a little bit and went to a visit at the Iskcon Temple. For Stefan and Ulrike it was the first time in Vrindavan and they were curious to visit this temple, so we joined them. Afterwards it was a final delicious dinner in the MVT Restaurant and a final late night chai in the streets. Then a short night before at 4:30 am a taxi was taking us to the airport in Delhi.
A wonderful pilgrimage has ended. I am incredably grateful that our spiritual master allowed me to be one of the photographers. That was a great gift. We arrived back home dog tired but both of us extremely happy. We will need some more time to "digest" everything. Thanks Guruji for this wonderful time, for your love and your patience with us!