This holy place on the bank of the river Ganga is inviting the
whole world to accept Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mercy.
whole world to accept Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mercy.
For each of us, there is special meaning or purpose to some particular words Srila Prabhupada spoke. I’ve often heard devotees say that while sitting in front of Srila Prabhupada with hundreds of others that they felt Prabhupada was speaking to them, that he saw right into their heart and spoke words that changed their lives. It’s not sentiment or imagination or simply wishful thinking. Nor did it have to happen in the physical presence of Srila Prabhupada: his books have changed many more lives than his physical presence did, and they will continue to do so for centuries to come; his lectures and recorded conversations will also, as long as a mechanism for hearing them exists in the world. His influence is timeless, his words a powerful medium to self realization and transcendental knowledge.
In 1999 I experienced the effect of Srila Prabhupada’s words in this way. I was living in London and working for the Mayapur Project when I read a brief conversation that Srila Prabhupada had had with Ambarisa Dâsa:
Prabhupada: How do you like this idea, Vedic Planetarium?
Ambarisa: It seems like a very nice idea.
Prabhupada:You also like? So finance this project. (laughter) Vedic Planetarium.
Ambarisa: Where will this be?
Prabhupada: Mayapur. My idea is to attract people of the whole world to Mayapur.
It goes without saying that this conversation held a purport that changed the life of Ambarisa Dasa, whose life has been dedicated to fulfilling those four little words:“So finance this project,” whose personal funding has launched the temple construction, and who is now heading the team that is building the Vedic Planetarium in Mayapur. It’s impossible to imagine how such a tiny sentence can have such a huge impact on so many worldwide and result in a project that will change the world.
On a much smaller scale, that same conversation had a powerful effect on me when I read it some twenty plus years later in London. I remember my first “unedited” thought was, “How on earth would he bring the whole world to Mayapur?” I didn’t know how, but I wanted to do something to help Srila Prabhupada do just that.
MAYAPUR’S TRANSCENDENTAL BEAUTY
As I write this, it is early spring morning in Mayapur fresh smelling, picturesque, tranquil. Birds are singing, temple bells are ringing in the distance, bhajanas are being broadcast on speakers across the village, and an occasional distant train horn reaches us from across the Jalangi River. As my gaze drifts out the window and across the fields, I wonder why I would possibly want to contribute to attracting world attention to this pocket of the universe that is so beautiful and peaceful. And green I never imagined a green so lush, so rich, so intense. So many shades of green. I can’t believe anyone who comes here would not walk away with a stunningly beautiful impression forever embedded in his or her mind in his or her heart. When I write about Mayapur, I can only capture a tiny portion of its beauty, its lushness, its tranquility its personality. It’s impossible to describe. One would have to experience it personally to truly appreciate its beauty. Then again, there are so many beautiful places in the world. This morning I was looking through a magazine from Thailand. There’s a beautiful country. Or Indonesia similarly appealing. I’m from Australia where white sandy beaches and turquoise water is the norm, especially in the northwest corner of the country, where the Indian Ocean rolls gently into remote, still untouched coastal towns. So many places on this planet capture the mind, enchant the senses, bury themselves in the heart.
But Mayapur attracts the soul. Think about that. How many places can claim that? Mayapur is no ordinary tourist destination. It’s not even an extraordinary tourist destination. It’s actually the spiritual world. It is described in the scriptures as “non different” from the spiritual world. That’s no tourist brochure byline…that’s some kind of important. The most important: Mayapur is not only a feast for the senses; it satisfies the soul. The spiritual energy of Mayapur is undeniable. Along the main road the only road there are around forty temples, all with the same reason for being there: to propagate the chanting of the holy names of the Lord. That is the key to its specialness. No other destination can offer that.
THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE
The state of the world at the moment only increases Mayapur’s attractiveness. The world in general is struggling. It’s hell out there. I haven’t always lived in this peaceful village. London, Sydney, San Francisco, Los Angeles: I might not have “seen it all,” but I’ve certainly seen enough. None of them have the answers. They may be cool places they may even temporarily satisfy but they don’t exactly exist for the eternal benefit of mankind. The message of Lord Caitanya and the preaching mission of His envoy, Srila Prabhupada, exists to reinforce the genuine identity of the soul amid a world intent on borders, boundaries, and bodily designations. Srila Prabhupada’s International Society for Krishna Consciousness crosses those boundaries, fuelled by the most crucial element of Lord Caitanya’s character: His compassion for the fallen souls of Kali yuga, all of whom are searching for peace within themselves and their environment. As a stone thrown into the middle of a pool creates concentric circles, so a global community, with its attention focused on the center, can create an international environment of harmony. That center is the essence of spirituality. That essence is Sri Mayapur Dhama.
So that’s my problem. This most stunning place I call home is something I want to cherish, to keep as it is, to protect. I love Mayapur like I have never loved a place before. And it returns that love. Really. So why would I want to bring people here and “ruin” what is, to me, peaceful perfection?
Because, like I mentioned, it’s the spiritual world. And in the spiritual world, nothing is “ruined” by being shared with thousands, or millions. It loses nothing; it does not detract from its charm, it won’t deteriorate or diminish or become something less. It will expand on and on and on for thousands of years to come, into a place that the entire universe will know and love. Just like I do. And I can’t stop that, as much as I wish I could sometimes. In a way, I don’t want to stop it, of course. I want everyone to see Mayapur, to feel Mayapur, to love Mayapur the way I do. When something’s that good you want to keep it to yourself, but after a while, you know that to really “enjoy” it as much as possible, you’re going to have to tell someone.
So here it is: Mayapur is the ultimate destination. Get a ticket, whatever way you can, but just come here. And bring a really good quality suitcase, because you’re going to have to drag your heart home … it won’t want to leave.
Braja Sevaki Devi Dasi joined ISKCON in Australia. She has lived in Mayapur for nine years with her husband, Jahnudvipa Dasa.