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A Call to Vrindavan's Sacred Shores

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When the flute calls, who can resist its enchanting melody? It whispers through the soul, igniting a yearning that pulls you towards an ancient land steeped in divine love – Vrindavan.

As a dear friend suggested revisiting this sacred haven, I felt a stirring within. A silent plea echoed in the depths of my being, a prayer to Radharani hoping for her merciful beckoning. Life seemed to stretch before me, a canvas waiting for purposeful strokes, yet I stood at a loss, adrift in the vastness of time. Perhaps it was the empty nest syndrome, with my daughter leaving home to pursue her studies. All around, the transient nature of existence became painfully clear – work, relationships, endeavours, all fleeting in their impermanence, urging me to seek deeper meaning, grappling with the realisation that each moment is precious and fleeting.

I sat in front of the television, listening to the soft strains of Radharani's bhajans emanating from the screen, the divine melodies acted like a balm for my restless spirit. Beside me, my husband was engrossed in his laptop, typing away with focused intent. I stole a glance at him, a smile playing at the corners of my lips as I watched him lost in his own world of work. Despite his preoccupation, I knew his heart was tethered to Vrindavan, ever yearning for a visit to the sacred land. "Vrindavan," I murmured, the syllables carrying the weight of countless memories. And as I spoke, a familiar spark ignited in his eyes, a silent acknowledgment of the sacred bond that bound us to that timeless land. With a sense of purpose crystallizing in my heart, I reached for the phone, dialling Vishnupriya Didi's number with a sense of urgency. I felt a sense of peace settle over me, a quiet assurance that Radharani herself was guiding our footsteps towards her sacred abode. As the call connected, I felt a surge of anticipation, a premonition of blessings yet to unfold.

I felt a hint of weariness in Didi’s voice as she picked up the call and exchanged pleasantries. Yet, at the mention of my visit, a subtle shift occurred in her voice. I shared my intention to spend some time with her, listen to her recite the couplets and the songs of the saints of Brij. Her voice became lively filled with the exuberance of a child. Putting aside her own concerns and her impending visit to Delhi, she welcomed me with open arms. With plans set in motion, I booked my flight to Delhi. The purpose of my journey crystallized – Sant Darshan, to bask in the wisdom of souls deeply connected to the divine.

 As I shared my travel plans with Ellora, a dear friend, her swift decision to join me added an unexpected dimension to our journey, infusing it with the warmth of shared companionship. With tickets booked and excitement bubbling within us, we embarked on a fleeting three-day pilgrimage to Vrindavan. Our flight descended into Delhi, each passing moment bringing us closer to the sacred shores of Vrindavan. Amidst the hustle and bustle of the airport, we were in awe of Vishnupriya Didi's meticulous arrangements, ensuring that every detail was tended to with care. A car waited for us at the parking and the driver was signalling us to board quickly as the security was shooing it away. As our car traversed the winding roads towards our destination, the sight of the welcoming board bearing the words 'Mero Vrindavan' sent a surge of electricity coursing through my veins. It was as though the very air thrummed with anticipation, welcoming us with open arms to its sacred heart.

Upon arrival at our hotel, we scarcely paused to drop our bags before rushing towards Didi's ashram. In the embrace of Didi's ashram, time seemed to dissolve, leaving behind the mundane worries of life. We found solace in the quiet moments spent by Didi's side, listening to her tales of devotion and divine grace. Since we had only three days, without wasting time, I took permission to go and have darshan in a few nearby temples, eager to immerse myself in the sacred rituals that bound my heart to Vrindavan.

As Ellora and I hurried towards the Banke Bihari Temple, anticipation fluttered in our hearts like the wings of a thousand butterflies. Despite my past experiences of being engulfed in the tumultuous crowds, this time, we could make our way calmly into the inner precincts of the temple. Stepping through the ornate arches, we found the crowd of devotees, all eyes on the divine form Banke Bihari ji playing hide and seek from behind the curtain. The temple was decorated with ‘phool bangla’, as garlands of blossoms cascaded from every alcove and archway, weaving intricate patterns of beauty and grace. The air was filled with the perfume of jasmine and rose, their delicate fragrance mingling with the soft strains of sacred hymns. And there, in the centre, stood Bihari ji, the prince of Vrindavan, adorned in a resplendent cloak of flowers amidst a symphony of floral fragrances. Ellora and I found a place in one secluded corner, away from the eyes of the security guard who was pressing the devotees to exit after a quick darshan. In that moment, time seemed to stand still as we stood in silent reverence before the divine presence. The enchanting smile upon Bihari ji's lips seemed to draw us closer, and amidst the shifting throngs of devotees, surprisingly no one came near us. Every inch of the temple seemed to pulsate with the vibrant energy of devotion.

After the celestial experience at Banke Bihari Temple, our hearts still aflutter with divine grace, we embarked on a leisurely stroll towards Sri Radha Ballabh Temple, nestled a furlong away. Unlike the bustling crowds of the previous temple, here we found ourselves enveloped in a serene tranquility, afforded the luxury of lingering as long as our hearts desired in the divine presence.

As we stepped into the temple's sacred sanctum, our eyes drank in the ethereal beauty of the deity from every possible angle, each glance revealing new depths of divine splendour, driving us to ascend the stairs in search of a closer communion with the divine. Upon reaching the upper chambers, we found ourselves in the presence of the deity worshipped by none other than Sri Hit Harivansha Mahaprabhu, the very embodiment of divine grace. Mesmerized by the radiant form before us, we hesitated to tear ourselves away. Yet, the call of Sevakunj's aarti beckoned, pulling us from our reverie with a gentle urgency. With a silent nod to Ellora, I signaled to move towards the exit line.

As I stepped out into the fading light, a sudden pang of remembrance stirred within me. Recalling my husband's thoughtful gestures to share his temple visits through video calls, I darted back into the temple, fumbling for my phone with eager fingers, seizing the opportunity to reciprocate his kindness. Finally, his familiar face appeared on the screen, his eyes lighting up with joy at the unexpected surprise. But my thoughts soon turned to my daughter, her absence keenly felt in this trip. With a quick call, I bestowed upon her the gift of divine sight. My heart brimming with contentment, I switched off my phone and hurried to join Ellora, who was waiting patiently for me. And as we boarded a rickshaw bound for Sevakunj, the fading light of dusk cast a golden glow upon our journey.

... to be continued

Sri Banke Bihari Ji

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