From one peacock land to another. From Brindavan to Tiruvannamalai. From Krishna to Arunachala. From Surdas to Arunagirinatha.
Came today to Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu…to Ramanashramam, and was greeted by the cry of peacocks. Lovely.
Blogging back to Brindavan.
What makes Brindavan special? I guess it’s the spirit …and that spirit is best seen in the people of the place.Take the Rickshawman for instance, the person who took us around Brindavan. His name was Moti Ram. Looked every inch a native of Brindavan, tuft and all. The first evening after he had taken us to Banke Bihari temple, we took a liking to him, and asked him whether he could come around next morning as well. The consequent conversations gave us a glimpse of his life….he gets up every morning by 4 am or so, and is at the River Yamuna for a bath by 4:30 am. He goes back home and his daily schedule of worship takes him an hour and a half. He then cooks for the day, and is thereafter ready to ply the Rickshaw by about 8 am.
Now, we wanted him to come up at 5:30 am, so that we could go to the river for a bath. He said that that would be very difficult, considering his morning commitments. After some talking, he finally agreed and said that he would come around…He said that he would take us to the river and drop us back by 6:30 am, and then he would want at least a couple of hours for himself.
One was up early next morning, and on the road, waiting for Moti Ram, worried that he may not turn up, or that he may come and then leave, not finding us….But, 5:30 am, Moti Ram cycled in from the morning mist. He was sure glad to see me.
“Swamiji, I couldn’t sleep last night….Now, I had to respect your Bhavana and Shraddha – to have a bath in Jamunaji. And so I agreed to come. Now, I had given my word. Had I not committed, it was a different thing. But considering that I had ‘spoken’ that I would come, I had to come. And so, I didn’t get much sleep last night, as I was worried that I might miss this commitment”…
That was Moti Ram.
He cycled like a master. Driving a cycle Rickshaw in Brindavan is not easy. The lanes are all very narrow. And there are people, two wheelers, and other rickshaws….One didn’t tring the bell for asking way…One and all in Brindavan, call out “Raaaadhey”…”Raaadhay”….to ask for way….”Radhay Krishna” is the standard greeting as well.
Moti Ram told us that he didn’t ply his Rickshaw on Ekadashi days. He fasts on Ekadashi, and doesn’t work…so there…and he told us that no food would be available in most Ashrams. Fruits could be had….
This is the simple, unlettered Moti Ram.
And he is typical of the land. This is a timeless place of pilgrimage, and there are pilgrims from all over India, and from other parts as well….Even Western devotees wear local attire. One saw ever so many whitemen, clad in Dhoti, Tulasi Maala, Chanda on the forehead, tuft on crown….Oh yes, there are some toughies around as well…For eg, the ones who collect toll tax from all vehicles coming into the town…But they too sported a tilak on the forehead, and generally seemed quite well fed…
The town itself is a great Vaishnava town…Fragrance of good food greets in every street….Puris, Parathas, Jilebees….etc…Cows own right of every way. Right near the RK Mission was a Goshala, where there are five thousand cows….
The sight of large (really large) chunks of butter in Brindavan was really mouth watering….The milk sweets were very special. Moti Ram told us that the Brindavan Peda was the real thing, much better than the branded ‘Mathura Peda’….
A temple within earshot everywhere….Sounds of Krishna chants and songs, was like a gentle background breeze in most places. Early morning found us listening to MS Subbalakshmi’s Vishnu Sahasranama, played in some temple….
Peacocks, cows, monkeys….
In the distance, someone was playing the flute….