Preaching and Bhoga Collection Programmes
Malini Devi Dasi from Malta gains some insight to what goes on behind the scenes leading up to the celebration of Gaura Purnima festival, and shares the experience of travelling through Bengali villages on such preaching and collection programmes.
The bus speeds towards Tisha, which is set amidst a bamboo forest – a particularly beautiful, wild-looking landscape with palms and other trees growing in the inhabited spaces.
We take breakfast prasadam at Tulasi Didi's house. She is a disciple of Param-Gurudev, Srila Sridhar Maharaj, one of the first people to join the mission through preaching in this area. Yesterday I ate so many sweets that today I resolve not to accept so many, yet I find myself eating two of the four rasa-gulas served for breakfast.
We left Tarak Pakira Prabhu at Bajumelia, and meet Karttik Prabhu at Tulasi Didi's house. Sripad Acharyya Maharaj had asked him to meet us so he can join in the house visits until the evening time, when we will go to his house for the evening programme. Maharaj has already held three or four successful programmes at Karttik Prabhu's house in previous years.
We drive a short distance and begin our rounds. Most of the houses are very beautiful in their simplicity. The buildings themselves bear lots of embossed designs and interesting features, and are often painted in bright yellow, red, green and blue. I observe that practically all the houses we have been visiting have their own altar or deity room, which I find quite remarkable.
I note that these village people certainly live a simple but colourful life. “Simple living, high thinking,” Srila Guru Maharaj used to say. Most certainly they possess a different consciousness to city people. The villagers we meet, many of whom I have seen in Nabadwip during festival time, are warm, simple-hearted, generous and, most of all, have sincere regard for the Lord and anything related to him.
Another short drive brings us to Begumpur, where we are hosted by a god-family for lunch prasadam. Sanat Krishna Prabhu and his wife are Srila Gurudev's disciples as a result of preaching. It is very warming to our hearts to see the altar bearing a picture of the Nabadwip deities, Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Gandharvva Govindasundar-jiu, and the entire Sri Guru Parampara.
After an opulent prasadam served on banana-leaves, we take a short rest. I settle on a bed brought out into the sun, and drift into semi-consiousness, aware of the sounds of voices and deeply breathing the pure, countryside air.
We travel for a while to arrive in an idyllic location. Bamboo forest has been replaced by a concentration of banana trees. We inevitably comment about what karma allows grhasta families to live in such a sattvic environment, performing personal bhajan.
Here lives Manorama Didi, a disciple of Srila Sridhar Maharaj. She is now a widow and we find her in her front room, on a wooden bed-cum-bench, chanting on her japa-mala. Immediately on seeing her I feel impelled to give her my sincere dandavats, and notice that Nowl Kishor Prabhu is already down before me. She is a cute, old lady, obviously well looked-after by the younger members of her family, and she looks quite saintly.
On our way out, Nowl Kishor Prabhu, Kamala Nayan Didi and I find it hard to leave her association, and feel blessed for the little attention she gives us, cradling our hands in hers, until we are called to hurry up!
Chaitanya Saraswat Math, Nabadwip
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