07 Nov Guru Maharaja In London
By Ramananda Raya Dasa
After two weeks of intense GBC meetings in ISKCON Juhu, Mumbai, past Friday Guru Maharaja had arrived in London. Diwali celebrations are being held by all Hindu people and streams of them are visiting the Bhaktivedanta Manor in Hertfordshire. When I myself arrived there on Saturday morning the inauguration of the new goshala (New Gokula) [pictures will be provided later] was being celebrated.
Radha Madhan Mohan Prabhu wrote on www.dandavats.com :
“The innovative concept of the farm which is part of Bhaktivedanta Manor, is regarded as a blue print for future sustainable farming. At its core is the ethos that treats animals and the environment with the highest respect. Having taken over five years to complete, it stands as a feat of accomplishment for the community. The project demonstrates the community’s respect of the earth and those with whom we share it.
New Gokula’s main features are its oak build, ox power in the fields and treadmill, ox cart rides, hand milking and humane treatment of cows and the full viewing facility so that all visitors can see the working of the farm. Already the farm has a wide range of visitors, of which ten of thousands of school children and public visit the farm annually.
During the opening ceremonies there will be ancient costumes, traditional dances, ox power demonstrations and cart rides, and devotional singing to the accompaniment of Indian drums and cymbals. Guests of honour include His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami, Dominic Grieve QC MP the Attorney General, MPs, Mayors and representatives from the faith, environment and farming communities.”
Together with His Holiness Prahladananda Swami and Pragosa Prabhu, the GBC president for England, Guru Maharaja had been lecturing, holding speeches and welcoming all kinds of vip-personalities like the mayor of Hertforshire. That New Gokula project is a three million pound investment, a very powerful preaching project, where lots of devotees are involved. The very strong looking cows, bulls and oxen are stationed in very pucka organized barns and stables. For the occasion the devotees were feeding carrots to the cows. A special grain mill, driven by two oxen, was inaugurated by Guru Maharaja and the other devotees and then followed the cutting of the ribbon. Guru Maharaja honoured many guests by greeting them with kind words, giving them respectul attention and giving warm embraces to many devotees.
I met with Suresh and his family whom I knew from the Malaga seminar. He further guided me through the whirlpool of people. Diwali is like a New Year for the Hindu people. I also had received SMS messages with ‘Happy Diwali’from Gobrothers and it was beautiful to see how thousands of people came to greet Sri Sri Gokulananda and Sri Sri Sita Rama Laxman-Hanuman. People were embracing each other and it felt wonderful to witness the cultural bonds still alive of so many people. Suresh took me to another tent where the Govardhana-Puja was being held. A big mountain with sweets and the Govardhana sila on top of the mountain was being worshiped. When a kirtan group of about ten enthusiastic devotees came in, I asked Suresh if this was the famous Krishna-Fest group I had heard about from Ratnavali Prabhu. “No,” Suresh answered, “this is just one of the many kirtana-groups which are now performing for the occasion”. We attended the worship of the Govardhana hill and encircled it together with a few hundreds of devotees. Then we went to line up for Prasadam.
After Prasadam I went to the temple room to greet Their Lordships. Special arrangements had been made so that the thousands of guests could greet Srila Prabhupada and the Deities, while a groups of devotees were holding very touching bhajans. For a long time Radhavinoda Prabhu and Prema Sankirtan Prabhus were leading the bhajans. This created such a wonderful, devotional atmosphere, I felt this was really like the heart of the Bhaktivedanta Manor. Devotees had to guide the people so that everyone could get a chance to greet the Deities. When they left the temple they entered into another room where about ten devotees were sitting behind computers. People would give donations and receive in turn calenders and packets of prasadam. Campakalata Mataji was telling me that even old ladies would make it a point to give their fifty one British pounds as a donation, from the heart. The total number of visitors on Saturday alone was estimated about fifteen thousand.
Coming from Belgium where especially this year the last remnants of catholic worship have been crushed by many pedofile scandals, it feels so good to be in the devotional celebrating atmosphere of the powerful ISKCON London community. Everywhere I felt a sense of dignity, beauty and warm feelings. What a difference with the usual scenes of the modern society where culture seems to have been reduced to mere ‘shopping’ and where people seem to move around aimlessly in a world of indifference and constant threats of all kinds of inauspiciousness.
Radhavinod Prabhu brought me to his house where I could spend the night. I told him how impressive and deeply touching those bhajanas are they were holding in that illustrious temple room of the Bhaktivedanta Manor. “We do this every Sunday, starting from three o’clock in the afternoon till nine o’clock in the evenening,” he replied. I was amazed and wondered where these devotees (and especially Guru Maharaja) find the energy to go on and on, working so hard with such complete dedication. Only if one gets situated on the spiritual platform can one do such things? In the car Campakalata Mataji told me that tomorrow, Sunday would be a huge day and the programs would go on till after midnight. Big fireworks are planned and for that alone so many thousands of visitors will show up.
After the inauguration programs in the Bhaktivedanta Manor during morning time, Guru Maharaja went for a preaching program in Crooley on Saturday evening. For Sunday a preaching program with Guru Maharaja is scheduled in Leicester. A devotee had come and told me that I was meant to join them for that program.