The mercury had been hovering at 45º and the Indian summer heat was scorching as ever. May is the hottest month in Hyderabad. Undaunted by the heat, a pack of devotees were packing their luggage to go to a village located about 45-50 kms away from Hyderabad, in Narsapur, called Peddagottimukla.
May 28, 2017 was not an ordinary day; it could not be so for the events to unfold. It was to become a day when another village would be on the way to become Vrindavan village. The day had come when the dream of Gour Gopal prabhu and Jananivas prabhu to fulfill their spiritual master’s (HH Bhakti Raghava Swami) and Srila Prabhupada’s desire of village preaching. Setting the villages on the trajectory of material and spiritual growth by following the examples of Lord Krishna in cow protection and of Balaram in cow based farming.
Jananivas prabhu came in his big Scorpio to take the devotees to the village. Gour Gopal prabhu was accompanied by his family, wife Vrndavanlila dd and daughter, Bhaktin Radhika. Toshan Krishna prabhu brought along his granddaughter, Bhaktin Sridevi. Satya Madhava prabhu who had also been an active participant in Sri Govind Gau Gram Prachar Yatra (SGGGPY) devotees’ team especially on week-ends came along, not just with his family comprising his wife, Manimanjari dd and Bhakta Anup but also with his lordships- Sri Sri Jagannath Baldev and Subhadra mai. Haridas prabhu came along with his wife Bhaktin Divya. Rasamandal prabhu, Jay Gopal prabhu and Vasudama prabhu along with his family including his wife, Indulekha dd and two daughters- Bhaktin Tapasya and Bhaktin Avantika joined along elating the spirit. The Yatra revived the old bonds. Nitya Tripta dd who had otherwise moved to Pune, was there to participate in it along with her little daughter, Bhaktin Ananya Bhakti. The caravan, though small made up of just about 20 devotees was interestingly heterogeneous, comprising disciples of different spiritual masters, age and gender.
Keshav Krishna prabhu who had not attended the Yatra, was inspired so much by its glorious stories that he joined along with his wife Nirupama Radhika dd and his another godbrother, Pranavallabha prabhu. He went there as an advance party to make arrangements for the evening program in the village for the Yatra devotees. Fortunately, this village had one practicing doctor devotee, Bhakta Sangameshwar ji. He was held in extreme reverence by all the villagers and was extremely supportive in everything that needed to be done for the event.
The devotees reached the village at about 5 pm. One small village temple of Hanuman served as the venue. One small altar was already waiting to hold the Lordships. Curious villagers could be seen anxiously moving around and making enquiries for assistance.
All the devotees were welcomed with cold water to beat the outside heat. We could see one lovely white cow standing right in front of the temple, tied to a pole. Her lovely lotus petalled eyes moved anxiously, seeing the crowd.
Suddenly the auspicious sound of the blowing conch filled the air. Everyone flocked around. Gour Gopal prabhu led the prayers while playing Mrdanga and Haridas prabhu performed the arati for the conch-white cow. Though little scared, she was happily munching the green grass given to her. After her arati, the devotees circumambulated her, encouraging others to follow. No later, the whole lot of villagers began doing the pradakshina of Mother Cow.
Reciting Shikshastakam to invoke the blessings of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Gour Gopal prabhu began singing the eternally appealing Holy Names of the Lord on the streets of the village. The small troop kept swelling in its size as it meandered through the dusty village lanes in a jovial mood. Those villagers who could not join, kept peeping curiously from their windows and watching the devotees while standing near their gates. Children however took the opportunity to join the band and followed everywhere till they reached the same place – temple – from where they had begun. Lord Jagannath along with His siblings waited for everbody with open arms.
As everybody quickly settled on the spread mats, sweet kirtan of the Holy Name once again filled the air. Gentle cool breeze began to blow. The devotees began to dance ecstatically. There was no stopping, the villagers jumped in the arena, trying to follow the dance steps and enjoying the Holy Name.
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
No sooner the melodious Harinam wafted through the air, villagers in groups thronged the place. There must be atleast 100 people present there (a good number going by the less village population). Devotee matajis especially Manimanjari dd and Nityatripta dd helped the children to form circles and dance along with them. The whole atmosphere was surcharged with happiness in chanting the Holy Name and dancing rhythmically.
As kirtan drew everyone’s mind to one-pointed focus on the Lord, the next phase of serious lecture began. Jananivas prabhu took over the stage. He spoke in the local dialect. In his short but interesting lecture, he very nicely explained the goal of human life, importance of Mother Cow in spiritual and material progress of a human being and nation at large. He emphasized on the usage of panchagavya in our daily lives and cows-bulls in farming. He explained this through simple stories drawn from the Vedic scriptures. Everybody listened to him with rapt attention. The village youth was hearing something very interesting- importance of living in villages, about Mother Cow and about farming. They had never expected the city folks to talk on subjects like this. Their hearts filled with humbling pride in farming and living with cows as they heard the lecture. In between unable to control their emotions, they clapped energetically to support the points made by Jananivas prabhu. At the end of the lecture they gave a heartening applause.
Soon after the lecture, arati was performed for Lord Jagannath-Baladev-Subhadra Mai. This was once again an opportunity to dance and sing, glorifying the Lord. There was not a single person who was not enjoying. Whether they were seated or standing, near or far, young or old, girl or boy – everyone seemed to enjoy. The number further increased as many participants seated at a distance desired to come near and dance with the devotees.
Satyamadhav prabhu in his unique inimitable way, distributed the books to the villagers as he explained the importance of even keeping Gita in the house. They had a catch phrase – keep and worship Tulasi in front of the house ; keep and worship Gita inside the house; and finally serve and worship Gomata in the back of every house. Everyone totally agreed to it and showed their interest in chanting and serving Tulasi, Gita and Mother Cow! Each of the three entity was capable of delivering one from the ocean of death and rebirth. This brought the program enter its concluding phase of distributing prasadam to the villagers. Jyotsana mataji had especially prepared cookies for them. That was distributed along with other items to the villagers. Everyone seemed to relish it and expressed a desire to have more of such programs.
Bhakta Sangameshwar ji had arranged prasadam for all the devotees. All these days it was the Yatra devotees who had been preparing and distributing prasadam to all the villagers. This gesture was a pleasant change.
All the devotees were led into a traditionally made tiles house. It had a big open verandah right in the middle of the house, with rooms on all the four sides of the construction. It was simple, yet attractive. Soon different preparations began pouring in. It was typical Telangana food. Many of the devotees remembered their childhood days and happily gorged it.
By the time, everyone wound up it was 10:30 pm, pretty late for village setting yet everyone was in high spirits. The difference in the mood of the village folks was very obvious. They were very simple, humble and open unlike their city counterparts. Sangameshwar ji expressed that the program was much better than what he had expected. All these days he had seen the general devotees address only the spiritual requirement of a soul- of chanting the Holy Name. This was for the first time that he had heard devotees something about their daily lives also, something which would help them be Krishna conscious even while working, in being with the cows and in being with the land and farming.
The beauty of Krishna consciousness lies in its omnipresence, in its ability to be dovetailed with every action that we do. But our intelligence lies in rejecting the unfavourable passionate city life and accepting favourable simple village life. However, simply living in village is not the solution. Every village has to be like Vrindavan, with Krishna at the center of all their activities. So, making of Vrindavan villages! This was a successful program of Making Vrindavan Villages by the Village Outreach Initiative team of ISKCON Daiva Varnasrama Ministry-India.
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