We are the Finns!

Kamalaksa Das - August 16, 2005 5:41 pm

Walking on the sunny side of the street


Visiting Audarya, summer 2005


As many persons have been asking me to tell them something about our recent visit to Audarya I will write a few lines in order to satisfy those curious, as well as present some pictures taken during our short retreat up in the hills.


These recollections are not ridden with philosophical depth, nor do they have more profound meanings than that of one persons glimpse into the life at Audarya. Mostly the texts revolve around some small, to others even insignificant details, but for the undersigned they had importance beyond what might be read in the few lines following.


You will have to forgive me for giving examples from the life familiar to me, when they in fact might be completely alien to most others. When explaining things just beyond the grasp of the mind the words of others, and seemingly irrelevant correlations become handy. If not for others, then at least helping this writer understand something of what took place.


And as it might become long-winded at times, I have chosen to include some pictures from our stay, alongside with short commentaries. Those of you who tire quickly by the written word can get a glimpse of what is said in the text by looking at the photographs.


Given my own shortcomings as a writer and even more so as one who understands the subtleties I sincerely wish that others, more able than me, also contribute to this forum with their stories. The bottom line is that if I am able to write something then everyone else should be equally or doubly so. Please prove me right!


* * *


Krishangi had one shocking revelation prior to arriving at Audarya. She wouldn't be able to use her hair dryer, because of the differencies in currencies in our two countries. And even more disturbingly an adapter wouldn't solve the problem.


She soon also learned from Vrindaranya that no hair dryers were available at Audarya, as the uniform hairdo quite effectively made away with the need of such an appliance.


We also got to hear a short lecture from Citta Hari on heating and cooling components and their demand of higher currencies. And even Krishangi wasn't prepared to take the step of draining all of Audarya's powers for reasons of mere vanity.


At times she was thinking of eploying our small fan in the yurt as a makeshift dryer, but left it at the stage of an idea. Maybe best so.


Thus the hair dryer became a hot topic during our stay.


In the picture we see Krishangi drying her hair au naturell in the summer heat. Worked fine even that way.


Kamalaksa Das - August 16, 2005 5:50 pm



Writing this I am sitting upstairs at around four in the morning well shaken by the jet lag. (No, I am not in the habit of getting up at four!). During our trip we experienced three different time zones. First Audarya time, then Los Angeles time. (The differed by around three or four hours...). And finally Finland time, which by the way is clearly the hardest one to adapt to.


So I am in the midst of signing my names to books I acquired, as to state ownership over them, and hopefully even give a slight pinch to the conscience of those not intending to return them. Picking up one of them in random (and yes, it really happened like this, though in writing it sure seems to be like applying some cheesy literary device), called Typologia. It is a book about, well yes, typography. It is written by an American called Frederic Goudy, and deals with his life in type.


Now Goudy might be important for devotees in many ways. The least of them not being that it is partly by his grace we are allowed to take part in Guru Maharaja's sublime renderation of the Gita. For the Gita is set in type designed by none other than the aforementioned Frederic Goudy.


The second reason why Goudy comes in handy for me at his moment is something I found he had written. For when by either accident or divine inspiration, you be the judge, I opened his book at random, I found the following words. These words might not be accepted as revelation, nor do I propose they should. But they might be, in some small portion, something that could be labeled as being in pursuance of the Vedic version.


"Yet tradition is not to be followed solely for its own sake; the logical framework of a craft, the general rules that control it--these with all the acquisitions of thought, feeling & experience are ours to carry forward by new essays, and the additions we make will enlarge the the legacy of tradition which we may bequeath to those who follow us, just as we inherit and use the traditions that have come down to us; we benefit by the labour of the skilled artisans who have blazed the way; in our hands is the key with which to unlock those ancient storehouses with their accumulated treasures, the gold of truth dug from the mines of the past.


To accept medieval tradition, however, without adding something of ourselves to it, is mere affectation; "it is no longer tradition if it be servilely copied, without change, the token of life." The dogmas of tradition therefore, are flexible and are to be enforced lightly, that they do not wholly imprison us.


Genius is the expression of a strong individuality, and extends the limits of a tradition instead of attempting to invent a new one. Genius cultivates old fields in new ways. While a designer of strong artistic personality may modify the laws of tradition more or less according to his strength and ability, he is nevertheless seldom free from its influence; in fact, few great artists have ever become great by deliberately disregarding tradition.


Once in a blue moon an individual designer will distinguish himself by his personal choice and unusual treatment of details, by some new thought or method, or by a fresh sentiment or point of view; his fertile imagination finds new expressions for new feelings and thereby his work marks a new epoch in art."


For me it is clear that Frederic Goudy here speaks about Guru Maharaja. About His mission, his willingness to let the tradition live on. And about Audarya. Now you can of course disagree with me, if you insist on being wrong. But this is the way it is!


And once again, I have to bow my head, and admit the truth of one of Goudy's famous statements: "Those old guys stole some of our best ideas!"


* * *


I would say this was one of the nicest moments of our stay, if that just woudn't imply that every other moment would not have been nice. It was all good. (Though I readily admit that getting up the last few mornings didn't show me at my best. Half past four just doesn't seem to be quite my time.)


Still, this a group picture of us sitting down by the swimming hole. You can easily imagine the relief of having the opportunity to dip into the refreshing waters. Especially after having been laying on the Yurt's floor in the X position, unable to move, being knocked out by mother nature's triple digit heat waves.


The company was not bad either.


Kamalaksa Das - August 16, 2005 6:03 pm



After visiting Audarya it came to me that the place resembles a well executed layout. Such a layout, it is said, should look like it was the only possibility, that it was even, well, a natural occurrence. Even the only possible option, if you will. But looking at such a layout as a professional you know that so much thought has gone into every detail, every piece on the page is there for a specific purpose. There is thought, even genius behind this intelligent design.


When I look at Audarya this is precisely what I see. Everything is so perfect, from the way the group is made up to the structure of every single detail. How every part fits so perfectly to the whole you find it hard to imagine how it could be else wise. To the point you begin to take it for granted, depreciating the value of the rare gift. After all, it is just the way it should be.


But there is a higher intelligence design behind it all, hidden behind the cloak of the natural. And as far as I know there is no other Audarya in this world.


* * *


Krishangi makes a daring attempt in moving closeer to the wild animal. The cow, known to trample a man in mere seconds, still lets her escape unharmed, owning to her bribing the cow with some food.


My dear wife made a habit of not eating everything that was put on her plate in order to have something to bargain with competing for the cows' attention.


Myself, well, my encounters with the cows were for most part of the unintentional variety. Like for instance fighting with Kishore in order to regain control of my dear baseball cap. Which Vrindaranya later on told me was of a brand used mostly by lower middle class persons. And only women.


Talk about a bummer. First your hat almost gets eaten, after which it is shown disrespect by the more educated part of our society!


And I also confess of being truly shocked and jumped up scared as the very same Kishore gave my knee a good lick without my prior concent.


Kamalaksa Das - August 16, 2005 6:10 pm



One thing you quickly pick up in America is that you shouldn't feel bad. At least in California the statement "I'm fine" seems to be without competition the most used phrase ever. And to be honest there wasn't a lot to feel bad about in Audarya.


Yet in order to give our story some variation there was one thing I felt slightly bad about. And no, it wasn't that I would rather have seen horses instead of cows, or something to that extent. No, it was a small feeling of inadequacy, of not being useful. For usually during the retreats held in Finland I have had something going on all the time, some demand that needed my attention.


But in Audarya I didn't quite find my place in this regard. I'm mostly allergic to everything both moving and nonmoving. (Not that any person in their right mind should even let me close to a cow anyway.)


Also those who have met me also know that my physique isn't (at least presently) fit for any kind of prolonged physical work. (This was very quickly evident when Citta Hari asked me to lend him a hand in constructing the oven. A mistake I'm sure he understood himself not to repeat.) Nor do I have a singing voice worth mentioning. So even singing for the deities was out of the question. And typographic knowledge can only take you that far in the middle of the woods.


So one could say I felt a little bit out of place. And there wasn't a lot I could do about it either. And though there may be those who enjoy taking it easy (as I do, but not around others engaged in constant work...) I find this kind of freeloading somewhat tedious.


Still, to give our tale a positive twist my younger godbrother came to rescue. It was Gurunishta who told us, in an totally unrelated conversation, how happy he was, not to have us over, but to have Guru Maharaja give talks every evening. Something, I learned, he doesn't usually do.


And there it was. I had found my purpose. My function in life at Audarya was to function as a talk catalyst. (For those not that well versed in chemistry (which I naturally am...) a catalyst is a substance that speeds up a chemical reaction without itself taking part in it.)


I therefore was a self-appointed talk catalyst - and I was happy again.


* * *


Guru Maharaja in the midst of explaining to us the first verse of Srimad Bhagavatam. This took place from Monday all through Friday. Seriously!


And in the mornings we got to hear Him read from the Caitanya Caritamrita. Curiously many times the activites that took place in the book seemed to mirror our activites in the hills. It's a world of magic, this world we live in.


Kamalaksa Das - August 16, 2005 6:25 pm



One of the daily pleasures Krishangi and I indulged ourselves in was to hang out by Citta Hari's oven project, randomly helping out, but more so just blabbering. Now Citta Hari is a curious fellow, we soon learned. One is easily fooled by his easygoing nature, and his working man style, but this is not the whole picture.


Apart from our usual chit chat, ranging anywhere from Krishangi's feminist theories (even though they for the most part were saved for Vrindaranya's ears) to us listening to Citta Haris attempts at swearing in Finish, something Gurunishta had thought him to do (we accept no responsibility!), we also got to see a different side of our New Englander.


It quickly became quite evident that Citta Hari's days spent in the proximity of Guru Maharaja had not gone in vain. It was with such ease and care he answered our multitude of inquiries. He gave us fresh insight into both deep philosophical themes, such as the origin of the jiva, the problems related to that, and the harmonizing of this, to the more trivial "can a Finn bathe naked in the sauna"-type questions.


I found great value in these informal discussions, though I fear we tested Citta Hari's patience on more occasions than one, for with him we could express our feelings and thoughts with such ease, as if we were speaking with an older brother.


As an amend for us disturbing poor Citta Hari to the extent we did, we promised to get him a proper axe.


What followed went something like this:


- So would you like to have the big one, which is good for cutting wood, or the really big one for even bigger wood?

- Hmm... (some unintelligible sounds)

- You would like to have both, right?

- Now you're beginning to think in my way!


To show just how at ease we were with Citta Hari I will relate the following plan my lovely wife came up with. There wasn't a whole lot she would have had changed at Audarya, but there was something: She planned on acquiring two hammocks for us to make use of next time when hanging by whatever Citta Hari by then is in the midst of building.


* * *


In Finland we generally view those employed by the government to perform road work and such as a little bit on the lazy side. This due to the fact that many times you will see three of them standing with their hands in their pockets, while the fourth is digging in the dirt. Please note that Krishangi is in the midst of giving good and well needed advice to our builder chap.


This then would probably qualify as its transcendental counterpart.


Citta Hari is in the midst of removing the sand dome upon which the oven then was constructed. "In three different layers as to maximize the heat return"- we were told. I thought that even the sand dome in itself was a piece of art.


The few days the sand dome stood there awaiting the first layer of clay it faced many dangers. First off, one of the cats found it, ending up making a small dent in it. Thereafter the cows chose it as a pinnacle to roam around, effectivly endangering the sand dome's existance. But it survived all this with honor, fulfilling its purpose handed down by destiny. (Although the cows managed to grab some of the hay meant for the oven despite my most valiant efforts to protect the grass.)


Now would someone please get me a pizza!


Kamalaksa Das - August 16, 2005 6:34 pm



In the trailer for the movie "The year of Yao", telling the story of the first Chinese ever to play in the NBA, we get to hear a quote that speaks of gratitude: "How does a blade of grass thank the sun?"


These words came to my mind when sitting listening to Guru Maharaja's discourses on the first verse of the Bhagavatam. We sat through five talks on this one verse, studying it from so many sides. Extracting meaning after meaning from it like it was an onion, with layer upon layer of knowledge speaking to us and relevant to us.


One thing especially that struck a chord with me was how Guru Maharaja spoke about the Bhagavatam being a natural commentary to the Vedanta Sutra. The fact that the Bhagavatam was a natural commentary to the Vedanta Sutra was not the thing that came to me as something new. I have probably myself told people this. But the sad part is that I never understood what it meant. It was something I had heard and parroted without the slightest idea of what it meant. Or what the Vedanta Sutra was for that matter.


But during these talks we were shown how it all strings together, how the Bhagavata was the final work of Vyasa, and how it contains the essence of his other teachings. And how we even are able to find the sutras of Vedanta scattered throughout the Bhagavata, not least so in the very first verse.


And so much more knowledge followed, so many deep thoughts that will keep my small head occupied for a good time forward. And as Gurunishta promised to deliver them on an Mp3 disc I am sure it will do the same for you! I know I am eagerly waiting for these lectures.


I do not know how the blade of grass thanks the sun, but grateful I am still, grateful beyond the scope of words, for being allowed to take part in something this wonderful. Though I readily admit that for most part I am unable to penetrate the meaning of these talks. But I will go on trying, assured that someday I might get it.


* * *


During some of the evenings Guru Maharaja would take his drink out on the deck, and we naturally were quick to join him there. It was always very peaceful at that time. All the day's work had been done, and everyone was slowly preparing to take rest.


We spoke some, about the day gone by, about the future plans of Audarya. But for a good part we also sat just quiet and enjoyed the settings and each others' company. This was a good place to be at!


Kamalaksa Das - August 16, 2005 6:47 pm



One thing that doesn't cease to impress me, wherever it occurs, is the care shown to details. Doing something while conscious of the importance of even the most insignificant parts is for me personally very attractive. This tendency could be witnessed everywhere in Audarya, from the bath house forth. Still, it was the kitchen that really made an impact on me. Or not so much even the kitchen, but the cooking going on in it.


Many of those who know me would be quick to point out that in relation to food I'm especially picky. But that is not the point here. It is not a question of satisfying my personal tastebuds (for that purpose I had some rye bread and orange juice hidden away in the yurt...). No, the real point is the visible and singleminded devotion to the activity being performed. All too often you get people throwing something together in the kitchen that is not only questionable taste-wise but even far from pleasing aesthetically.


For me cooking like this betrays true feeling, a lack of investing yourself in what one does. And I want to underline that a meal needn't be fancy, made from the most expensive ingredients, even the most simple dish can be miraculous when cooked fully conscious.


And while I might not for my own part have been able to fully appreciate the taste of the muffins served at breakfast, I nonetheless took great joy in seeing them being prepared with such love and care.


My friend told me that in order to cook well one needs to be a perfectionist, or filled with devotion. Or both, I concluded. Or both.


* * *


With these few words I wish to thank all of You who took time to cook so nicely, and let us part take in honoring the prasadam. I wish we would some day be able to repay You for Your kindness!


In the picture we also see Gurunistha being especially eager to honor the Lord's remenants this particular day.


I also found the precision by which Vrindaranya for instance measured the different ingredients and spices interesting. As I cook by the eye, and have from day one been taught so, it was miraculous to see someone take another path. And still come up with the most delicious dishes.


(My possible misgivings in regard to this way of preparing food which at worst reduces cooking to mere mathematics comes from witnessing the self appointed "King of Cubic prasadam" ™ follow recipies with scientific vigor. And still the food, whether it was soup or candy, many times turned out to be something resembling a cube, two by two by two inches.)


All in all, the food was great, and as proof of it being as good as I say I offer the fact that I still had half of my rye bread loaf with me when parting from Audarya.


Kamalaksa Das - August 16, 2005 6:56 pm



I will confess that prior to the lunch both Krishangi and I would make time pass by laying in our yurt. And while I cannot deny that naps might have occurred I also made use of the free time by reading. One book I found in the shelf was called something to the extent of "Two beyond duality". It was a biography of Jagannatha das babaji and Gaura Kishore das babaji.


Now reading this book confused me some. For even if I don't profess to be an extreme pacifist or even harboring Miss World -like sentiments of how everyone should just be friends, some parts of this just seemed plain strange to me. For instance many persons came to meet Gaura Kishore das babaji, persons who at least to me seemed sincere in their quest, and yet many times he dismissed them in quite strong ways. And on more than one occasion the book stated that soon after the incident the person died a painful death.


Or, when Bhaktivinode's wife and daughter came for the darshan of Gaura Kishore, he simply reprimanded them for leaving the company of Bhaktivinode, and sent them home. For me it seemed a bit harsh.


And as we shall see even further on, keeping my mouth shut is not the best of my virtues, so I raised more than a few questions regarding the book. Thus we had more than one fruitful discussion around the dinnertable regarding this book. In which both Gurunistha, Vrindaranya as well as Citta Hari went to great lengths to explain its meaning.


And from these discussions I came to understand a bit more of our tradition, though it is not always so clearly applicable to everyday life. And I was very happy to note that Guru Maharaja's suggestions and wishes seem to correlate a bit better with my present situation than those of Babaji Maharaja. (At least for the moment I have not been asked to give up my secular life and move to the woods.)


* * *


This is the closest picture I got of a Babaji this trip. One has to be selfrealized to some extent in order to eat what Citta Hari is treating himself to here. It was a form of do-it-yourself sweetrice, in which you mix plain leftovers from the lunch rise with syrup.


Denying the accusations that it was bad he gave a small hint ino his inner feelings.


"I wouldn't have it again."


Kamalaksa Das - August 16, 2005 7:13 pm



Audarya hosts a multitude of ways of communication, ranging from the bell on the deck announcing lunch to more sophisticated means. One way of transferring information is the intercom, which in essence is a phone located in every yurt. It is in many ways an ingenious system, making it possible to engage in short conversations without having to climb up and down the steep hills more times than absolutely necessary. (The scary part is that at least for me it never was quite clear when the transmission was cut off, and thus you had to be vigilant at all times...)


Here follows a short glimpse into a discussion that took place over the phone lines between Guru Maharaja and me.


. . .

- So, how do you think Krishangi is liking Audarya?

- Oh, she absolutely loves it!

- That's nice.

- Well yes. My only fear is that she likes it so much that I will be returning back to Finland by myself...

- Hmmm... (some static making the signal go bad.)


So what the answer to my last statement was never became quite clear to me. But somehow I fear that it wasn't an assurance for me that nothing such would happen. It's dangerous business, this spiritual life.


* * *


While most of us agree that communication is a good thing I personally am not sure I would like to make it an absolute principle. For when these two boys got together I feared what would follow.


It was many a time I told Citta Hari to not spend too much time with Gurunistha. Krishangi even questioned whether our country man had polluted the fragile mind of the New Englander.


Here Gurunistha is in the midst of telling us all something he read from the Weekly World News as absolute facts. Citta Hari tries to humour him, as one should not make crazy people angry.


Kamalaksa Das - August 16, 2005 7:29 pm



Now the easiest way in this world to make enemies is giving them your opinion on something they've done. This is especially easy in graphic design, as there are not just two ways of executing a design, the right way and the wrong way, but millions of equally valid options. (This is not to say there isn't just plain bad design, but I won't go into that now...)


The situation doesn't get any better when the person who has done the design clearly is unwilling to share it at the moment, as a half-finished piece, to be dissected by an angry mob of know-it-alls. But so it was to be. And thus Vrindarnya may have gotten more than she deserved. Though if my memory serves me right, she made a quick escape once the cover design was delivered, leaving Guru Maharaja, Krishangi, myself and Gurunistha there to discuss it.


We are of course speaking about the cover of the upcoming Siksastakam commentary. The workload is divided so that Vrindaranya designs the cover, while we here in Finland design the contents. As the cover to a large extent revolves around a painting, which effectively limits the possible design options.


But there we still were, with the work in front of us, awaiting our comments. For a moment I thought of being quiet, knowing that Vrindaranya's artistic sensibilities and mine didn't necessarily follow the same lines. And, I wish to add, this doesn't make the other one better than the other, just different! But then my teacher side got the better of me, and out poured opinions. Of which not all of them favorable.


My main objection was with the choice of typeface. Trajan, a font based on the Roman capital letter inscribed in their columns, was from my point of view static and too regal. I found it ill fitting for a book dealing with something as alive and as dynamic as Lord Chaitanya's teachings. So I gave a proposition of using a freehand script instead.


And this was in no way my unique idea. For previously in the summer Vrindaranya had shown me different scripts that she thought would fit the bill. Somehow they just didn't make the draft presented to us. But then again, the cover we saw was, as mentioned, not the finished product intended for the public eye quite yet. It was more like something poor Vrindaranya was forced to present us. (or so it seemed, judging from her expression...)


I do not generally seek to hurt others feelings, and all the least Vrindaranya's, but to my great dismay I felt I had done just that. "I should just learn to stay quiet" was the thought that lingered in my head for quite some time. Nothing good seems to come from my voicing my opinions.


A day went by, and suddenly the intercom rang again. It was Guru Maharaja. He was working on the cover with Vrindaranya, and asked the name of the script I had proposed. When informing Him, He told me that precisely that font had been on the top of Vrindaranya's list, but for some reason or other was passed by. But that she now would employ it in her design.


With great relief I could only sigh: "Great minds think alike!"


You will see a beautiful cover, and befitting contents. Just be patient.


* * *


Vrindaranya has become quite the expert in avoiding the lens of the camera. (Did I already mention that she doesn't like pictures in which she herself figures?)


Here however we have a rare picture of her, taken by Gurunishta. She is in the midst of explaining how she once again ended up smashing her eyeglasses. Leaving pieces disconnected from the general frame. One could maybe call it fashionable in this day and age, now that the 80's are coming back with its assymetrical style.


We listen with great care.


We also suggested more robustly built glasses as the next acquisition. Maybe the company that produces Humvees might take an order?


Kamalaksa Das - August 16, 2005 7:38 pm



We also had the pleasure of meeting Gauravani, who in fact only shortly prior to us coming over had become Gauravani. He proved to be a really nice guy, somewhat shy, but just enough so for a Finn, as not to go nuts with all the chatty Californians. (We aren't used to talking to strangers over here, you know.)


He was easy to be around, which is worth quite a lot in my book. He shared the rest of the Audaryans' deep convictions, but as with the others it didn't make him neither proud nor closed up, as unfortunately happens all too often. We had some shorter talks with him, and I imagine there are many still to come.


Gauravani also had many things going for him, he even learned to make Chai already on the second try, but his taste in computers left both me and Krishangi a little bewildered. But I guess we will have him running a Mac by the time we return.


Also, I must admit that he surprised me how well he handled the log we played with at the swimming hole. I confess with shame in my voice that I had him pegged down as just another computer nerd, much alike myself.


But to my horror he almost managed to pull of a 360 jump on the log, as I myself was stuck with a mere 270. Shocked that the skateboarder I was would lose the title of "King of the log" to someone whose contact with the sport was limited to playing Tony Hawk on Playstation... (I have to watch my mouth, Gauravani has my credit card number.) Shame on me!


* * *


Hiding from the Finns in the dark shadows of the kitchen Gauravani is caught as his thirst gets the better of him.


No, actually Gauravani is in the midst of making the evening smoothies. A drink enjoyed by all after a day out in the heat. Except me, for it containing bananas. Which I, for one reason or another cannot stand. But I will not hold it against Gauravani, for he is surely not responsible for my quirks.


Also, I got my way after two days: Audarya's supply of bananas ran out, and we had non-bananic smoothies.


As a small token of my appreciation of Gauravani's company I left him the newest issue of WIRED in our yurt. I hope it found a good home in the hands of our techie!


Kamalaksa Das - August 16, 2005 7:44 pm



One of the last things we were treated to at Audarya was a tour of the properties. We walked up and down hills of varying steepness, witnessing gardens of all kinds of fruits, vegetables, berries and other things that grow in gardens, saw sites for still to be built samadhis, houses and even more yurts.


In the midst of all the talk of the planned buildings we heard that the temple might be moved to another place, accommodating more guests, and that Guru Maharaja had some small plans on building a small house for himself facing the ridge. I asked what would become of the present temple and Guru Maharaja's quarters if the ideas presented where to be realized. But by the time I voiced my questions we had already moved on to the fact that Citta Hari would possibly build another cob-oven, should this one work as well as planed. (Which it from the accounts we've heard apparently does.)


We even climbed downward through a somewhat uninviting environment to see the small natural opening which Guru Maharaja envisioned would one day host a sauna with a view over the most scenic nature. For a Finn this was a vision filled with benediction. Take anything from us, but don't deprive us of our sauna and rye bread!


After ascending the hill literary hanging from Guru Maharajas cane I could not help comment that to build all this would demand a manpower of one hundred. (Or at least twenty Citta Haris...) My words were met only by the slightest smile, signifying that greater powers than even Citta Hari were orchestrating the future.


* * *


"And here we will build the Swimming pool!"


To be honest I am not sure if there was a swimming pool to be built but close enough to everything else.


Well, the folks at Audarya can count themselves lucky, as the amount of service clearly isn't diminishing any time soon. I would have gotten exhausted from the mere planning. But then again I'm a lazy and impractical guy. It takes all kinds to make a world, right?


Kamalaksa Das - August 16, 2005 7:52 pm



When seated in the car and heading for the yoga studio in Santa Rosa Guru Maharaja, sitting in the front seat, turned to me and said "You asked what would happen to the old temple house, if the deities move. Why did you ask? Where you thinking of moving in?"


What I stuttered in reply is irrelevant. What on the other hand is relevant is the fact that Absolute reality has an agenda of its own, and as Guru Maharaja is fond of saying, we are on it. And to be honest, it's somewhat unsettling at times. (Most times in my case, who am in the midst of working hard in making this material world my permanent home...) I do not know what the future holds for me, but I get the creepy feeling that my dreams and plans are being overrun by some greater power.


* * *


As well known, things occurring in the lives of those in close proximity to devotees have both external reasons as well as internal ones.


I will give you an example. Let us say that one is to part with devotees. That naturally makes one feel bad. But just how bad I had no idea of.


Now there might be some cynics in the audience who are quick to point out that the intense feelings of illness were related to the curvy steep roads that lead away form Audarya, but then again we return to the aforementioned discussion of internal reasons. One should not only stare at the surface, right?


Leaving sacred ground is never easy. And I can honestly say I felt really bad leaving Audarya, exceedingly so as the distance between me an the dhama grew bigger. This I experienced firsthand.


But, as General MacArthur said, I shall return!



* * *


In picture Gurunishta smiling happily well aware of the fact that he woun't have to put up with us for another four months.


In addition to this there would be so much more to write about. But I'll save that for another time. Good night!


Babhru Das - August 16, 2005 9:41 pm
Vrindaranya has become quite the expert in avoiding the lens of the camera. (Did I already mention that she doesn't like pictures in which she herself figures?)


Here however we have a rare picture of her, taken by Gurunishta. She is in the midst of explaining how she once again ended up smashing her eyeglasses. Leaving pieces disconnected from the general frame.


So you have to sneak up behind her to get a shot? I remember that the Finnish retreat pix had more shots of Guru-nistha's whities than of Vrindaranya.


Maybe titanium frames next time? They may cost a little more, but they're much more durable than other frames.

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - August 17, 2005 3:30 am
I raised more than a few questions regarding the book ("Two beyond duality"). Thus we had more than one fruitful discussion around the dinnertable regarding this book. In which both Gurunistha, Vrindaranya as well as Citta Hari went to great lengths to explain its meaning.

Please elaborate a little more on that. I would like to know this as well.

Krsangi Dasi - August 20, 2005 10:05 am

Kamalaksa's done a pretty thorough job telling you all about our time at Audarya, but I feel I have to add a few things so people won't get the impression that he's the head of the family. :P


I can't help but compare this trip to our previous visit in California and Audarya, which was my first time in USA. It was two years ago, and these two years have changed me quite a lot.


Last time we arrived in Los Angeles as tourists and took a taxi to our hostel, this time we landed in San Francisco and had friends waiting for us at the airport. Not just Citta Hari, who picked us up with that cool hybrid car of theirs, but also Nanda-Tanuja, who had insisted on coming to the airport to meet us, even though we tried to tell him how ordinary we are, with no sparkling halos around our heads or anything. It was really nice to meet him. (Later on Kamalaksa and I realized that Nanda-Tanuja looks quite alike Star Trek: The next Generation's Will Riker, which is no small accomplishment in our eyes. ;) )


We were too exhausted by the 11-hour flight to take any photos at the airport, so I made a small drawing instead.


Krsangi Dasi - August 20, 2005 10:09 am

I felt so priviledged to be at Audarya. The atmosphere was so nice, Guru Maharaja's talks striking both for the heart and the intelligence, the prasadam so tasty. There were times when I would almost hold my breath, afraid that if I said or did something wrong it would all go away and I would wake up on the 6.50 AM bus to Helsinki on my way to work.


I kept thinking: Why don't people visit this place all the time? Why doesn't everyone come to live here? Why don't I? Last time we visited Audarya I fell in love with the place, but now I felt that the initial crush was becoming something more intense. Two years ago it felt easy to combine all my different passions in life with spiritual life, now I feel that I need to make some changes to give mor space for Krishna.


I've noticed lately how I've been blind and deaf to many finer aspects our tradition, unable to appreciate them on the first encounter, and now it feels like some of these things are opening themselves to me, letting me in. Or maybe it's my mind that's forced me to keep a distance, refused to understand these things, and now I'm slowly learning to quiet it and concentrate on the essential. Guru Maharaja's talks contained so many revelations for me and I just hope I'll be able to hang on to them.


Krsangi Dasi - August 20, 2005 10:11 am

I'm currently working on a small comic book consisting of two short stories. I wrote the manuscript to one of the stories at Audarya, and had the opportunity to discuss it with Guru Maharaja. I believe that it would have turned out to be quite different if I had had the time to write it at home in June as I had originally planned. It was interesting to see how the spiritual atmosphere of Audarya affected my thoughts, and through them my writing.


The days passed very quickly at Audarya, like they often do at home, but usually I often weel like I haven't accomplished anything of value during a week that's just rushed by. At Audarya I constantly had a feeling that I was spending my time on the most important things in life, and it didn't matter so much if I had accomplished something tangible or not. I had put much more energy into spiritual practise than I usually do, and it felt right.


But as Kamalaksa wrote earlier, we felt a bit guilty about not being able to help out with att the practical work. Maybe next time we come to Audarya people won't be shy of giving us assignments, and we'll find ourselves sweating in the garden or the cow house.


In the photo you can see me with my sketch book, but you'll have to wait for a few months to see the finished comic book.


Krsangi Dasi - August 20, 2005 10:13 am

After the mangala arati I usually stayed at the temple room, chanting. The Audarya lifestyle and atmosphere is so conducive to chanting that even I was able to chant much more than at home. Everywhere I looked I was reminded of Krishna, and my mind didn't wander off as far as it normally would.


I felt quite sad when we left Audarya and I noticed how my ability to concentrate disappeared, and my chanting once again became the struggle I'm so familiar with. I found myself thinking that we had left too soon. We would need to spend a much longer time concentrating on spiritual life to develop such a strong attachment to it that it could resist the pressure of materialism we face in our normal life.


After returning home I was faced with a choice of applying for a steady part-time job (a job I probably would have gotten if I wanted to) that would have meant a steady income but very short vacations, or becoming a freelancer again, with an unstable economy but more free time. I chose not to apply for the job as I feared it would have made it impossible for us to organize more summer retreats in Finland, and for us to spend more time at Audarya. I hope this will turn out to be the right decision, at least it feels like that at the moment. There won't be more time for spiritual life in the future unless I make for time for it.


Krsangi Dasi - August 20, 2005 10:14 am

We live in a small town, and are quite close to the nature in the sense that we can go and take a walk in a forest 15 minutes from where we live. But we still are much more familiar with installing a RAM memory chip to our Mac than with seeds and plants. So every eggplant and tomato growing in Audarya's flourishing garden was a small miracle for us. Seeing people cook without having to buy food that's been sprayed with pesticides thousands of kilometres away and then flown in with an airplane felt so good!


But if growing real, exceptionally tasty tomatoes is a miracle, there's something else that's even more so. And that's milking. I must say it was one of the most amazing things I've ever experienced. In the mornings we'd see the fresh milk arrive in the kitchen, and on our last morning at Audarya we were allowed to try milking Raga. She was quite patient with us, and let us both squeeze out some milk, as Guru Maharaja instructed us. How much more we appreciated the milk gathering in the bucket than we do at home when we just get a carton from the supermarket!


I recently read an interview with a Finnish man who has an organic farm not far from Porvoo. He lives in a house that's heated with wood, and has no running water. He said that he finds it important to spend so much time on basic things like carrying in water and chopping wood, because in that way he doesn't have so much time for nonsense. It's probably true: we've built a society where everything's made so convenient for us that we get bored, lazy and weak. We no longer appreciate things like running water becuse they're considered to be self-evident.


Working for things like heat and water, or tomatoes and milk, makes you respect them more, but maybe it also makes you feel good with yourself. I know that everyone works hard at Audarya, but I also had a feeling that they're the happiest people I've ever met.


Krsangi Dasi - August 20, 2005 10:15 am

Our last evening with Guru Maharaja was spent at a yoga studio in Santa Rosa, where he spoke for quite a mixed audience. We had a chance to talk to some devotees we had met on our last visit to Audarya, and met also some people we only knew through Tattva-viveka. Before going to the yoga studio we had some very nice prasadam at Agnideva and Ratna Cintamani's place (Kamalaksa's still hoping to get the recipe of that salad dressing!).


After the program we got a ride to San Francisco with Jason and Vamsidhari, and then spent the night at Vamsi's place. The following day was an Ekadasi, and it was so nice to be able to stay and cook with Vamsi instead of just surviving on potato chips. Everyone was so friendly and helpful to us all the time, I want to officially thank you all here!


Krsangi Dasi - August 20, 2005 10:17 am

After our week at Audarya we went to Los Angeles, where we spent a few days just hanging out and then went to the Ratha Yatra. We weren't able to stay for the whole festival as we had a flight to catch and work to do in Finland, but we did see the carts. It wasn't quite the same as the San Francisco Ratha Yatra with Guru Maharaja, but it still was a touching experience. I could still hear the kirtan in my head half way to Frankfurt, where we switched planes to get to Finland.


And now I'm back home, overwhelmed with work, but every once in a while I've found myself looking at flight prices from Helsinki to San Francisco. We'll come back to Audarya, and we'll stay for a longer time! (If you'll let us.)


Bhrigu - August 20, 2005 12:01 pm

My turn to write! Because of different reasons, I wasn't able to join Krishangi and Kamalaksa for their visit to Audarya, so we decided to make the Finnvasion a two-pronged attack. I arrived in Audarya a week or so after them. Maybe it was a good idea to let the Audaryavasis rest between the barbarian hords, or perhaps it was just prolonging the misery -- be that as it may.


Cittahari and Vamsi picked me up at the SF Airport. It was great (isn't that the proper American way of describing something? :P ) finally meeting Vamsi! We stayed overnight at his place in the Castro. I got to meet Smeagol the cat, eat good prasadam, learn about chaps (was that the right term, Vamsi?) and admire the beautiful artwork on Vamsi's walls. I brought some Finnish rye bread for Cittahari and Finnish chocolate for Vamsi, but no matter how much I tried to convince Cittahari of the bread being for Real Men and True Brahmacaris, I think he was a bit disappointed with his lot.


Cittahari later also complained about how hard it was to sleep in the middle of the city, with cars running up and down the street, neighbours fighting in the dead of the night, etc, but I slept blissfully. In the morning, Vamsi went off to work, and Cittahari and I drove up to Audarya.


Bhrigu - August 20, 2005 12:19 pm

Driving up to Audarya with Cittahari was nice in many ways. Mendocino county is a beautiful place, and the way to Audarya especially so. Combining that with the anticipation of soon meeting Guru Maharaja, Gaura-Nitai, the cows and everybody made the trip especially rewarding. Plus Cittahari's company. I haven't really had the chance to get to know him before this trip, and I feel that doing so to a small extent was one of the best things of my stay. Cittahari is a wonderful devotee. He speaks of himself as a shudra, and everybody knows how good he is with building things, but he has many more sides to himself. He has a very good grasp of the siddhanta of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, has great faith in Guru Maharaja, knows lots and lots of slokas, and more than that, is a wonderful person and devotee.


We arrived in Audarya just in time for lunch. What could be better! I don't remember exactly what we had, except that Gurunistha had made superb dahl. We really must have that cooking competion we've spoken about, GN and Kamalaksa! At least in the case of the dahl, GN will be no walkover. And there was plenty of prasadam as well -- last time, I felt that everyone else ate half as much as I, but this time things seemed more equal. Perhaps it was the heat.


Cittahari's cob oven (someone asked for a picture earlier, I believe):


Bhrigu - August 20, 2005 12:34 pm

I spent five days at Audarya. Unfortunately, Vrindaranya had to leave the first day, so I saw very little of her (she did explain that it wasn't because of me that she went away, but I was still a bit worried :P ). Instead, I got to spend much time with G-nista, Gauravani & Cittahari (as in the Bhoga-arati song).


As I think I've mentioned before, I am very impressed with Gurunistha. He is quite serious about what he is doing, and he has already picked up much siddhanta and knowledge and experience about sadhana-bhakti, but he has managed to keep a cool head. He's not playing a role but being himself. Not exactly the same as he was when I knew him in Finland, but equally genuine. I've seen many people go on an incredible trip after joining an ashrama, but not him. The credit should also go to the Audarya environment.


Gauravani was a new aquantance for me, but a very pleasant one. He also has a wonderful service attitude. Also, he is kind of Finnish in his behaviour, not very loud or overbearing, so we got on well together. He also helped me with some computer-related things, and it was a relief to see someone else not using a Mickey Mouse - machine.


Bhrigu - August 20, 2005 12:44 pm

I could go on about the nature at Audarya, Gaura-Nitai, the wonderful cows, etc, but for me, the main attraction at Audarya will always be Guru Maharaja. During my brief stay, he gave classes on the Bhagavatam almost every day, and readings from CC every morning. Even more than that, I enjoyed speaking with him on the temple porch in the evening sun, hearing about the proper way to understand Krishna's lila, about Gaura-nagara bhava, and so many things. We are so fortunate to have a guide like this, who is prepared to come down to meet us on our level.


tumi mora nitya-prabhu, diksa-mantra data!

mantra-shakti diye raksa, ohe bhava-trata!


I did not do much seva at Audarya, either physical or other. It must have been over 30 degrees centigrade every day, and I was pretty wiped out for much of the days. But I got the chance to write the Bengali letters for the Siksastaka prayers, and that was nice in many ways. Now I also can feel as being a part of the upcoming book!

Syamasundara - August 20, 2005 12:54 pm
tumi mora nitya-prabhu, diksa-mantra data!

mantra-shakti diye raksa, ohe bhava-trata!



That's a nice verse. Care to translate for the others?

Bhrigu - August 20, 2005 12:57 pm

The next to last day before I left for SF was Nandatanuja's day of diksa. Cittahari and I prepared the sacrificial area the day before, building the yajnakunda out of sand and mud. Since Nandatanuja loves rituals, Guru Maharaja got the idea that he would go down to the waterfall for a ritual bath after Mangala-arati. With Guru Maharaja's blessings, I added to that idea by finding out the exact way for tirtha-snana according to the Hari-bhakti-vilasa.


Nandatanuja arrived well before Mangala-arati, having started at midnight from his home. After arati and my puja, Nandatanuja, Cittahari and I left for the waterfall. Unfortunately, my batteries were dead so I have no pictures of this, but what a place it is! Guru Maharaja said it is "straight out of the Himalayas", and it really is. We bathed according to all the rules, offering arghya, doing sankalpa, holding kusagrass and mud, using all the cool traditional mantras, diving down into the ice-cold water twelve times. For me, this bath was a very powerful experience. If that didn't cleanse you, nothing would!


Before the homa, Guru Maharaja gave a wonderful lecture, speaking about for example the responsibilities that diksha brings with it. When asked for questions, Nandatanuja in his straight-forward way said, "So, you spoke about responsibilities. Let's speak about that!". And Guru Maharaja did, giving Nandatanuja the order to deeply study Gaudiya Vaishnavism.


A picture of a happy, diksita Nandatanuja:


Bhrigu - August 20, 2005 1:01 pm
That's a nice verse. Care to translate for the others?


"You (familiar, intimate form) are my eternal lord, giver of my diksa-mantra. Give me the power of the mantra, protect me, o saviour from worldly life!"


It is from Bon Maharaja's Biraha-bedana.

Bhrigu - August 20, 2005 1:04 pm

I left Audarya the day after the initiation, but I also hope to return soon. Happily, I met Guru Maharaja and the others soon after, but I'll leave it to Laura to write about that. But before I go, a picture of the cows! (She might even tell you about her dream about them...)


Bhrigu - August 20, 2005 6:50 pm

It's Bhrigu's wife Laura writing. :P


I didn't get to visit Audarya this time - I had only a little more than a week of vacation and I wanted to spend it all in San Francisco (material girl, that's me). So I arrived in SF on Aug 7th and Bhrigu met me at the airport. We had lots of fun in SF and we had a chance to attend Ratha Yatra. It was nice to see Swami and his disciples. I had never been to Ratha Yatra before, so it was an interesting experience. I think Agnideva's kirtana was the best.


After the procession we sat in the park and had prasadam. I'm sad to say we had to leave early because it was freezing and I was so tired. Yes, I'm used to cold weather but summer here is hot compared to the weather in SF! I had to buy more clothes there!


The night before Ratha Yatra I had a lovely dream about the Audarya cows. It was nothing more but seeing one of the cows (I don't know which one, but he was very little) approaching me and carrying a key around his neck. The key had my name on it. ;)


Maybe next summer we'll make another US trip (there are some plans about it already!) and hopefully then I'll have a better chance to see Audarya again.




Babhru Das - August 20, 2005 7:24 pm

What a wonderful dream! Thanks, laura, for sharing that with us.


And cold is right! One of the coldest times I've had was three weeks in SF in August. It was 1969, and I was getting out of the Navy. I came to Treasure Island from Hawaii with light summer clothes--because it was August, of course. I spent a lot of time in SF, and stayed with some SFSU students near the panhandle of Golden Gate Park and near Kezar Stadium, I think. Some days were nice, but others were cold and foggy, or cold and windy. I can still remember how cold I was walking back to the apartment after going to see Easy Rider.


I remember walking past the Frederick Street Hare Krishna temple, but I didn't visit it because I couldn't get the other folks with me interested, and I didn't know my way around the Haight (or SF at all).


But it was chilly, and I was really surprised!

Babhru Das - August 20, 2005 10:34 pm

Krishangi, have you explained why Kamalaksha is a duck?

Syamasundara - August 21, 2005 6:36 am

Summer in San Francisco is in October/November, still don't expect Audaria's 108 F.


Sigh, I keep being reminded of my beloved San Francisco since yesterday. I had to work on Saturday last week, basically yesterday, and there was nothingto do, so I started to look at the satellite views of maps.google.com. I saw my Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito, where `i used to live with Navadvipa; the Marina where I used to rent at Vaikunthanatha's; California and 20th where Lila and Brahma's house is (or was) and GM used to come every month to speak about the Gita; Folsom and 12th where Mandala and Vegi Deli was and I used to live...


By the way these google pics are great. It was such an emotion to see Purusottama Ksetra (Puri) from a demigod's point of view, but I didn't see no conchshell shape (that the town is supposed to have), then I looked for Vrndavana but I got lost following the Yamuna from Delhi; following the course of the Yamuna was quite entrancing and meditative though. I saw Audarya and Iam wondering, did you do more clearing south from the east garden (whatever it's called) where GM's house will be?

Anyway I hope I'll make it there soon.

Madangopal - August 21, 2005 12:18 pm
By the way these google pics are great. It was such an emotion to see Purusottama Ksetra (Puri) from a demigod's point of view,


If you really want to get an amazing point of view, download Google Earth free here:



This program get so close I can see the pool in my neighbors back yard! For fun type in Radha Kund, India and it will fly you right there. Also shown is nearby Govardhan town. :o Not as clear as some places that probably have better satellite views, but amazing nonetheless.


This program is also good for driving directions...

Syamasundara - August 21, 2005 2:26 pm

Gonna have to trust you on that as I am on Mac (and proud of it Bhrgu and Gauravani). :o

Krsangi Dasi - August 22, 2005 5:32 am
Krishangi, have you explained why Kamalaksha is a duck?


Well, I wanted to show that he's a special person for me, so I wanted to make him something else than a mouse. I'd been playing around with different characters and the duck somehow seemed most suitable for him. And he also has flat feet.


I hope you weren't waiting for some highly philosophical explanation... :o

Babhru Das - August 22, 2005 7:59 am

He's special; that's philosophical enough for me! I was just curious. I get why Swami is a cow (and I think he's a really cute cow!), and I was wondering about Kamalaksha. Thanks.

Mikko - August 23, 2005 8:00 pm
It's Bhrigu's wife Laura writing. :o



The night before Ratha Yatra I had a lovely dream about the Audarya cows. It was nothing more but seeing one of the cows (I don't know which one, but he was very little) approaching me and carrying a key around his neck. The key had my name on it. :D





Laura! So nice to hear from you in here! I know this is my first message since the summer camp, too.. but more about that later.


Thanks to Kamalaksa and Krishangi for the "few lines" and pictures. And sorry Kamalaksa, we even talked on the phone today and I didn´t realize it is your birthday. :lol:


I took part in SF Ratha Yatra in August 1999. We (me and my wife) had problems finding the place and drove around the metro system, but finally found it. My experience was that "wow, to be Krishna conscious you don´t really have to look like a space alien who´s been dropped to Kolmen sepän patsas (Finns know the place in Helsinki) to sell mixed dried fruits!". Nothing wrong with that, but I was just happy to meet "ordinary" looking families taking part in the festival.



Jananivasdas - September 11, 2005 10:42 am

"mixed dried fruits!" also known as bird food. B)

Hari-priya Dasi - November 27, 2005 6:36 pm

Remembering the days in Audarya


As I had stayed a few days in Audarya I already felt like I had come home after a long journey. Now that I have been in my real "home" for a couple of days I notice that my mind is still roaming around Audarya. Absorbed in my memories I can hear the different sounds: bells of cows, the songs of good night by crickets and the conch-shell calling for the arati. I can smell the fresh country-air, delicious scents flowing from the kitchen and incenses in the temple. I am able to see devotees doing happily their service and Swami sitting outside in his rocking chair meditating quietly.


Before I came to Audarya I was quite worried about how everything would turn out to be. A month seemed like a short eternity. What if everything would go wrong right from the beginning? How about if I wouldn’t be able to handle the intensity of co-existence? What if I wouldn’t get along with devotees? How would they treat me? Would they try to plant some strange ideas in my mind? In the middle of all these worries and suspicions I felt also a bit guilty for feeling this way. I should have been only rejoicing since I got the possibility to visit the holy place and spent a whole month there!


As I am looking back, I can smile gently to my thoughts. But on the other hand I can also admit to myself that I had my reasons for feeling the way I did. My previous experiences from monasteries hadn’t been that encouraging. And after all when you are staying in a remote place, participating in rather intensive daily schedule and not meeting many “normal” people, there’s some structural soil for misuse of trust. (It’s the same way with any ideology or belief-system I can think of...) But isn’t it the same things that actually help you to open up your heart? Carefully, timidly, step by step.


During my stay I learned everyday to appreciate Swami’s calm and quiet way of doing things more and more. I appreciate the fact that he’s not agitating my sensitive mind. After all it would not have been very difficult to push me into making conclusions and commitments, which might not be in accordance with my character and inclinations in a long run.

Hari-priya Dasi - November 27, 2005 6:39 pm

Working around the clock


Since I grew up in a countryside for me getting up early and working until the dusk is not particularly in the top of the list "Most exotic things in the world". Still I have to say I was surprised by the amount of work the devotees were doing in Audarya. Even though I had read Guru-nistha’s reports about everything what’s going on, I still kind of thought that life in a monastery would be more about listening to lectures, studying, meditating, singing and praying.


Guru Maharaja explained that there are different phases in the course of community’s development. Now it is the time for building Audarya, creating the living example of spirituality, on which people can draw encouragement and inspiration for themselves. Later on there will be times, when emphasis will be again on some other aspects. Still I couldn’t help wondering how devotees are able to render their service 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.


Taking part in different tasks was for me important and central part of my stay. Philosophic (and perhaps not so philosophic but fun) discussions spiced gardening, digging trenches, helping at the construction sites, cleaning the cow pens and giving a hand in kitchen. I learned many useful gardening things from Vrindaranya and got inspiration from her enthusiasm. It was really inspiring to see how devotees had been able to cultivate the ground, which was originally almost pure clay into good farming soil. After seeing this I appreciated tomatoes, peppers and eggplants we were eating even more. Those are certainly fruits of devotion and hard labor. :D I also got to know some really cool details about the art of carpentry thanks to Citta Hari, the chief hyvä jätkä. I am quite sure I can find some use for both of these skills while working next spring in the garden of my own trying out some new plants and building a small greenhouse.

Hari-priya Dasi - November 27, 2005 6:44 pm



Perhaps one of the most memorable and meaningful things during my stay was the harinama-initiation, which Guru Maharaja gave me during the Govardhan-Puja festival. I still can’t quite recognize my new identity. If someone calls me Hari-priya, I have to stop for a moment and think about it, before I understand that it’s really me!


I actually wanted to ask Guru Maharaja for initiation already last summer while he was visiting Finland. But then as he arrived here I just wasn’t able to do it. I felt so unworthy. When I think about it now I certainly don’t feel anymore qualified than I used to. But it seems like the point of view has slightly changed. It seems that I am not thinking so much about my own shortcomings anymore. I just feel happy and indebted, because I am able to have the association and guidance of Guru Maharaja despite of everything.


A funny thing happened as I was on my way home from Audarya. I had been traveling close to 30 hours as my train finally approached the station of the town where I am living. As the train stopped we (there was also another passenger leaving the train) weren’t able to get a door opened. As we finally figured out that the door actually wasn’t going to get opened, the train had already left the station and was steaming towards the next town. We looked immediately for a conductor and explained him the situation. Instead of helping us to find a solution he was just shrugging off and telling that there was some kind of technical problem with the door. He was also letting us understand that we are stupid and there’s nothing that could be done.


In that moment I was so tired that I could just hear my nerves breaking down. I nailed a fierce look on the guy’s face and held a serious speech, which contained words that you are not really supposed to use in civilized circles. I was so ashamed afterwards! Just little time previously I had left Audarya my mind filled up with high ideals. I had had such great plans about how I would reach for pious life and give up all my bad habits. And then I end up swearing to the train-conductor… I guess this kind of incidences just help you to stay humble and to notice that you have still a long way to go. :D Anyway, after I had spoken up, the conductor miraculously turned out to be Mister Politeness himself. After making couple of phone-calls he announced that there will be a taxi waiting for us at the next station and VR (the Finnish railway company) is more than happy to cover the expense of the ride. I guess cultivating qualities of vaishnava wouldn’t be so extremely difficult, if there weren’t people who seem to take kindness as an invitation to walk over you. ;)

Hari-priya Dasi - November 27, 2005 6:49 pm

Missing Home


Even though I felt a lot like home in Audarya, there were some things that every now and then reminded me about their absence.


1) Bread! Not necessarily the dark Finnish rye-bread, but at least some good old whole wheat loaves. Oh well, I just got what I deserved… Had I listened to the kind advise of my older god-brother Kamalaksha none of this suffering would have taken place.


2) Sauna! Devotees told me that there might be a sauna someday also in Audarya. But plans and ideas are not a great comfort when you wake up in the morning, it’s freezing cold and you notice that the temperature in the yurt is (if possible) lower than outside. Luckily there weren’t many of those mornings. For most of the time weather was brilliant. Sun was shining and some days were actually warmer than most of the average summer days are in Finland.


3) Linguistic limitations! If I should pick one single thing, which was most difficult for me during my stay that would be no doubt the lack of ability to speak and express oneself. It is so frustrating when you are not able to get out things that are circling in your mind. And even if you know the words, there’s no guarantee of being understood. E.g. if we speak about school we both think we know what we are talking about. But under the surface we both have different concepts and experiences of educational system. Therefore we can easily end up speaking about two totally different things… Well, didn’t someone actually say that most of the problems in the world are basically linguistic ones? ;)


Anyway I am really glad Guru-nistha was there and I was able to have conversation with him in our native language. I am afraid poor Gauravani had to put up with our strange sounding discussions way too often. Being a kind and considerate person he never said anything critical about this. I just hope I would have been able to be a bit more considerate myself.


I could thank Guru-nistha for many other things too. For his relaxed attitude, which made him easy to be around. For listening my sorrows and talking with me about the different aspects of spiritual life. For taking care of me like a good host does. I could write much more… but actually Guru-nistha strictly forbid me writing anything about the great service he is doing for the humanity in Audarya. (Such a modest person he is!) So I am afraid I have to stop here and not praise his transcendental qualities any more than this. :D

Hari-priya Dasi - November 27, 2005 6:55 pm

Farewell Audarya


Sometimes spiritual concepts are for me a bit hard to grasp. For instance speaking about surrender. It sounds just great, idealistic and poetic, but does it actually have any tangible meaning for me here, right now?


As I was leaving Audarya Swami gave a short talk for a farewell. He illuminated the different moods behind the six limbs of saranagati (surrender). First two limbs are accepting things, which are favorable to bhakti and rejecting things, which are unfavorable. The mood or motivation behind these limbs is a vow or commitment. As you take your life under observation you might notice some need for change. When you find out that you actually are able to make decisions, stick into practicing even it is not always that easy and change your life, you can feel confidence growing in yourself. You are starting to have confidence or faith in Krishna’s protection.


Together with faith you can experience the mood of dependency. Even if it starts as a theoretical concept it is possible to grow to understand that ultimately everything comes from Krishna. He is the only maintainer. In the beginning of the spiritual journey you might feel that you are risking everything and there is no gain to be seen anywhere near. Later you will understand that actually there was nothing to risk in begin with, because everything already belonged to Krishna and was dwelling in him.


The fifth limb of saranagati, self-resignation (Atma-niksepa), is based on questions “Who am I in this context? Who is the conscious unit, which is being protected and maintained?” With this limb you kind of come into the conclusions that everything you have, practically your whole existence is there for Krishna, for Krishna alone. This awakens humility in the heart.


In short it become suddenly quite clear to me that surrendering is a process. Saranagati is a dynamic concept and its limbs are in interrelationship with each other. Perhaps I don’t need to be so worried about my lack of surrendering abilities when I know that I don’t have to finish the journey in one day. If I just keep practicing even though it seems to be more or less of a struggle most of the time, I might get a bit closer some day. That's one of the lessons I want to take with me to my gray everyday life... :D

Hari-priya Dasi - November 27, 2005 6:57 pm

Summa Summarum


I just have to conclude here that I had really great time in Audarya! At times I felt happier than ever in my whole entire life. If I am writing here more about the dark sides, suspicions and difficulties it is only due to my melancholic mind and a crooked sense of humor.


I hope to be able to visit Audarya again next fall. There might be some digging in the garden waiting to be done. See you there! :D

Tadiya Dasi - November 28, 2005 1:04 pm



I really enjoyed reading your "report" from Audarya & your thoughts and realizations. You express yourself so well in English :D


And, congratulations about the initiation, what a beautiful name you have ;)


I look forward to getting to know you better. Are you participating in the Winter-retreat? (I hope you are! ;) )

Babhru Das - November 28, 2005 7:29 pm

Hari-priya, I also want to thank you for sharing your experiences, and so candidly. I think that Swami's association encourages this kind of candor. He has sometimes talked about getting together at the end of the day and sharing with the others just what we held back that day.


I particularly appreciate your notes on Swami's discussion of saranagati. This is a real, live issue in my moment-to-moment life, more than it has been all the last 36 years. It is, as you say, a dynamic, progressive process, and we can all take heart in understanding that we don't have to complete it immediately. We do, however, need to ensure that we make continual progress. (I was going to write "steady," but we all know that we may hit bumps and odd curves here and there.) A big part of that is keeping good association with other devotees who will encourage our progress. Another is to always be introspective enough to regularly check for signs of progress (or stalling).


Thanks again. Gotta love those Finns! :D