“We are planning a trip to Vrindavan during the Pooja (Dassehra) holidays. How many of you are interested,” asked a Prabhuji of the Hare Krishna Movement. He continued, “You can give your names at the end of the class”. 

After the announcement, Prabhuji took Bhagavad-Gita discourse for close to an hour followed by a question and answer session. Then, we had kirtan alongside Aarthi to Krishna and Balram portrait. We usually dance and jump joyfully during the kirtans. While I was dancing alongside the devotees and my friends, I decided that I couldn’t miss this once in a lifetime kind of opportunity. I didn’t know at that point in time that the pilgrimage to Vrindavan would be one of the best weeks of my life. 

In the next month, we boarded the train at Guwahati station in the morning. During the journey, we had bhajans accompanied by Kartal and mridanga in the mornings and evenings. To my surprise, not even a single passenger objected our bhajans. In fact, some of the nearby passengers came and joined us during the bhajans. We had a delicious prasad brought by Prabhu Jis and there were spiritual quizzes. At around midnight when all of us were fast asleep, one of the students who came along with us got down in the Patna station as his home town was nearby. He said to Prabhuji that he prefers to spend the holidays with his family instead of going to Vrindavan.

Prabhuji said to us, “Just by booking a ticket you can’t go to a Dham (a holy place). To enter Vrindavan, you need Radha Rani’s permission”.

At the twilight of the next day, we alighted at the Tundla railway station as our train doesn’t go to Mathura station. We booked a taxi, reached the Vrindavan entrance by nightfall. At the entrance, one Prabhu Ji asked us to do Dhandavath pranam to the Vrindavan Dham. A Dhandavath pranam means to prostrate by lying down on your front while you stretch your hands in front of you and join them together in the form of namaste. 

We hesitated to lie down on the main road. Prabhuji encouraged us by saying, “The saints and sages roll in the sands of Vrindavan, the very land on which Lord Krishna walked. You need not roll, but do prostrations to Vrindavan Dham as the Dhaam is not different from Lord Krishna.” We did prostration on the road and we were mindful to lie down on the cleanest part of the road. Then, back in the hotel, our Prabhuji told us that we will have to be ready by 4:00 AM the next day morning to attend the Mangala aarthi, which marks the beginning of our pilgrimage.

To be continued …..