Krishna, The Flower-bearing Spring (Chapter 16)

The Hare Krishna Explosion
by Hayagriva das

Part III: New Vrindaban, 1968-1969
Chapter 16

Krishna, The Flower-bearing Spring

I return to West Virginia in time for a major snowstorm. Aghasura Road becomes a shimmering white path through a fantasy land of icicles. In the little farmhouse, nucleus of our transcendental village, it is impossible to keep warm. Cold air somehow seeps through the old floorboards and cuts through cracks. We stoke the woodfire in the steel oil drum. At night, the oil drum glows crimson, like a self-contained galaxy in the dark blue cold of space.

We are spared the worst northwest winds sweeping down from the Arctic and Canada, and across the plains from northern Ohio, for our wise pioneers built the little house on the eastern side of Govardhan Hill. Still, the sun rises late, reluctantly. We sit two hours in the predawn darkness, chanting aratik mantras, reading Bhagavad-gita, and stoking the fire. There are always logs to cut, brambles to break, firewood to haul in to dry before burning.

The predawn hours are the coldest. We stand wrapped in blankets before the little altar as Kirtanananda offers incense, camphor, ghee, water, handkerchief, flower, peacock fan, and yak-tail whisk to the Radha Krishna and Jagannatha Deities.

“When making aratik offerings,” he writes Prabhupada, “is it proper to meditate on the different parts of the Lord’s body?”

Prabhupada writes back no. “The Lord is actually there with you,” he replies. “And you are seeing all of His bodily features, so there’s no need to meditate that way. Food should be offered before aratik…”

Of course, this means getting up earlier to cook. We take turns tending the fire. I don’t thaw out until I’m in my office in Columbus.

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