I have wanted to write to all of you in details about visiting India next year. As you might know, a new Iskcon temple will open in Pune on the 23-24 of February 2013. Chinese devotees are especially invited to attend. They will be fully hosted and provided with Prasadam.
Then there is the Kumbha Mela in Allahabad from 27th January to 25th February. See http://www.kumbhmelaiskcon.com/index.html…an event that takes place every 3 years in 4 different places in India.
Some of you might want to organize a tour and so devotee can attend these two functions. I will be happy to assist you too.
Now I have one more thing: I feel a need to share some spiritual guidelines. From my experience in touring India, I am not convinced that we make the best use of the occasions. Therefore here some guidelines to get more benefit from such visits.
The first principle that I must stress is that we must understand very clearly that we are going to India solely to get a deep taste and experience of Krishna consciousness. For the short time in Indian first thing is to focus on Krishna.
In the same line of thought, too much traveling is often a distraction. Ideally we remain in one place for a long time, either Mayapur or Vrindavan. Mayapur is like an ocean of mercy, a desire tree that fulfills all desires, and it is non-different than Vrndavana although more easily accessible. Traveling in India is very exhausting and we tend to loose focus and might even get sick. Mayapur and Vrindavan are the best of all sacred place. If we stay and focus we will experience a steady increase in our spiritual life, as opposed to ups and downs. We should want to experience the elevating effect of doing the same most powerful spiritual activities regularly and strictly for weeks, diving deeper and deeper into the ocean. This is called tapasya, or the burning fire of austerities. Of course, in Krishna consciousness the tapasya is sweet like nectar, as we are simply asked to focus on tasting the most blissful activities. I believe that all of you can see the benefit of such activities. Here some general guidelines for such visits:
- Try to go to bed no later than 20:00 and wake up at 2:00. This will give you six hours of good rest and will give you the chance to go and chant most of your rounds before maìgala-ärati. Chanting in in the morning hours is most blissful. You will feel very intimate with Krishna.
- Attend duly the full morning program every day.
- Attend classes even they are of an advanced level or poorly translated; do not be discouraged. Simply sit and listen!
- In Mayapur, swim in mother Ganga every day before lunch. This will prove very purifying, healthy, and appetizing. Ask devotees how and where this is done. Pilgrims used to walk thousands of miles just to get the chance to do this; you will be living right there! So daily…
- There is a local harinäma party that chants all around the Mayapur area every day from 15:30 to 19:00. Visiting devotees mostly runs it. You will make many good friends. You will learn how to sing and dance nicely. This is the goal of life, sharing the holy name with the fallen souls. Try to attend daily when you are there.
- Religiously read one or two hours daily. Read from the Bhagavad-gétä, Çré Éçopaniñad, Nectar of devotion, Nectar of instruction, and Çrémad-Bhägavatam. Also read Krsna book a little before bed.
- Participate in all festivals enthusiastically.
- Take a little rest after lunch, so that you are always well rested and can remain alert during meditative activities like reading, etc. Do not burn out.
- If you have some spare time, chant extra rounds.
- Take your time when you buy something. Indians often want to rush the deal so that you do not have time to think for yourself.
- Do not waste time in the restaurants too much. It is better to associate with devotees while serving. That does not mean that we cannot have a nice time when taking Prasad with devotees, but try to discriminate between healthy friendship and pure waste of time.
- You can buy your drinking water by the 20 l bottles and arrange for your own cooking if you stay longer in a place.
- In Vrindavan, join Iskcon organized tours to visit nearby place. Avoid going around without our Iskcon guides. There is no benefit to visit non-Iskcon groups.
I look forward to meet many of you in India and hope to be able to assist you in getting the most spiritual benefit from your stays.
Your aspiring servant, Sankirtana dasa