Do you know the full form of ISKCON? It is the International Society of Krishna Consciousness. The teachings of ISKCON have always eluded me for some reason. Until the weekend I decided to spend a day in ISKCON temple, Vrindavan. It was the 9th of August and Janmashtami was approaching, I thought why not delve into the world of Lord Krishna this Janmashtami. And there we were, a group of three friends on their way to figuring out what did Lord Krishna say?
Many say that he was the giver of peace and harmony. Others portray him as the god of divinity and musical abilities. Much of the musical ability I think is of his followers. Meera Bai, for example, the famed mystic was an expert musician and sang songs for Lord Krishna all her life. I have heard songs about Meera Bai. Imagine how devoted she must be, that people have written songs about her devotion.
Planning your travel
I scoured the internet to avail an affordable and top-rated taxi service in faridabad. After all, when you are the planner of a trip it is your responsibility to ensure top-quality travel. I asked one of my friends to pick me up from Delhi. We drove till Faridabad where another friend was to join our journey.
The three of us then booked a cab from Faridabad to Vrindavan. The cab driver was a jolly fellow that turned out to be from Vrindavan originally. He told us many stories about Krishna and his army of worshippers in Vrindavan city. With four chai breaks, we reached Vrindavan in about 3 hours of traveling.
The first task was to check in to our hotel, drop off the luggage, and stroll in the city for a bit. We talked to many localities around the hotel and made a list of things to do while we were in Vrindavan. We came back after a big list of possible places and tucked in for the night that day.
Places to visit
The next day began with a heavy breakfast and a lot of sunscreen. Starting from Prem Mandir we went to Banke Bihari Temple, Akshaya Patra, Madan Mohan Temple, and Keshi Ghat at the end of the day. The day was an eye-opener for us. We saw the world of Lord Krishna like never before. These temples were laced with architectural gold so to speak. The murals and nakashi of these mandirs were a window straight to the ancient civilization and their artistic abilities.
The next day 11th August. The Janmashtami day at ISKCON mandir is celebrated with full zest. Colorful decorations, soulful music, and thousands of volunteers gather to celebrate the birth of Lord Krishna. An Indian version of a hippie festival really. Everybody is happy and willing to help.
The day starts with morning aarti followed by meals. I took part in the aarti as a chorus singer and served khichdi to poor kids. The same combination is repeated 6 times every day. So I was filled by the end of the day and a singer by the last aarti. The people there sing their parts will soulful voice. The aura of the place will send you in a trance state.
Anyway, the day ends with a tour of the goshala of ISKCON mandir. The feed more than 400 cows every day. Cows here are worshiped for two main reasons. One is that they were the favorite animal of Lord Krishna, and the other as gratitude towards all the milk and cheese they provide us with. After feeding and tending to cows the day ends with the last aarti and meal. This was a grand ending really. The sound must have crossed many blocks of houses nearby. It was as if they were trying to summon Lord Krishna that day.
The way back home
We went back to our hotel and stayed there for the night. The next morning we made a last visit to the ISKCON mandir and sat there with the local pujaris for prayer. After that, we left the holy city and reached Delhi by that night at 9PM. A thrilling spiritual journey came to a sweet end with the songs of Krishna still fresh in my ears. I slept knowing that I did a few good deeds on my day in ISKCON. Fed the poor, tended to the holy cow, and sang songs of devotion to the almighty.