We are in Mauritius since about 3 weeks, balancing work w/ recreation. The Southwestern part of the island is wild, forest like, mountainous and quite in goodness. The view from our balcony is stunning. Heady jasmine scent from the bush below permeates around. A complete range of mountains runs behind in the form of a horseshoe. In front is the open ocean, translucent aquamarine blue water sparkling with a thousand dancing lights. Here the sun sets in pomp. Every evening we watch the flaming red horizon devour the glowing orange sun disk. It is a place where one rests, heals and recreates. An abundance of local fruits nurtures the body – sweet juicy litchis, silky papayas, sticky sweet pineapples, divine scented mangoes, ruby red juicy watermelons and more. An early morning dip in the warm waters of the Indian ocean revitalizes. In the evening, Hari Nama kirtan sobers and reminds of our seva. We pray Krishna is one day the center of our lives unconditionally, anywhere, anytime and always. 




Here, you feel the weight of history. The land is old and witness to countless conflicts. Chanting kirtan with the local Hare Krishnas, inspires and enlivens. A number of new people attended all the kirtan events. After the army, many Israelis go to India seeking something. Yoga and mantras are known. Now, we are spending a few days with friends at the dead sea, the lowest land point on Earth. On the way we drove thru the Jordan Valley, where Jesus had walked and saw signs leading to Jericho, one of the oldest places on the planet. Remains of the Tower of Jericho still exist, and they are over 8000 years old. Political hostilities deter visitors. 

We see the shores of Jordan on the other side of the dead sea from the balcony of our hotel. Since our first visit 10 years ago, the sea has receded from its former bank. Mineral extraction for cosmetics and damming the Jordan river for irrigation cause it to shrink 1 to 3 meters per year. A visible strain is the failure of humans in their dealings with nature and each other. 

Seeing all my tattoos, the 18 year old lifeguard asked me what I am. He knows about yoga, meditation and mantra chanting. For over an hour we talked topics that frees and takes us to the spiritual dimension. Everywhere, in every situation, someone is ready to hear. 


OZ & NZ 19

[Date – 2nd April 2019]

We left Oz for NZ yesterday. We’d spent the longest time in Sydney and finished our Nama seva on a high. A day retreat on Sunday brought 30 people together for 4 hours of philosophy, kirtan, karatal learning, a delicious feast and more kirtan and dancing. We’d landed in Perth end of Feb and time just whizzed by. We began 10 years ago. At one of the programs, 4 people had attended. We had wondered whether to travel so far for so little, forgetting we’ve a right to duty but not to results. Yet, the stability of steady serving seems to have pleased Sri Hari Nama. Now, many more people attend and the kirtan interaction has deepened. We are tools for Sri Nama to use as He desires. He wants His Name sung all over. We truly hope He will use us even when we are reluctant. We have formed strong bonds w/ genuine devotees over these 10 years. They have become family. Sri Nama brought us together and the unique individual service of each inspires our hearts, to keep going no matter what. Today Christchurch is cold, rainy, dreary, much like London. In a couple of days, we’ll travel to Auckland and next Tuesday we’ll be back in Switzerland already.


New Goverdhan

Last Sunday we were part of the best kirtan in OZ till now. Only Hare Krishnas and spiritual seekers living at the Krishna village attended. A packed temple room thundered with sincere and loud Hare Krishna chanting. A powerful, sublime energy prevailed. Teenagers who were still kids a few years ago are now vivacious in kirtan. Even the shy Krishna Village dwellers joined forces. Senior devotees anchored the Nama seva when they chanted in deep meditation. It is rare to be in a roomful of people w/ one strong, common interest. We were moved and comforted. Here, words were not needed. We were kindred and in kirtan, Krishna Consciousness bonded us closer.


OZ 2019

Today we begin the first Sri Nama kirtan on the Gold Coast. In Surfer’s Paradise sense enjoyment is God and weather’s always clement. Here, Subhangi and family have maintained their small Bhakti center for years. Both sincere seekers and free flowing spirits join their weekday kirtan.

Yet, up to now, no other cities comes close to Perth. There, a Krishna kirtan explosion has happened. In Fremantle, Sivananda ashram hosted Nama seva for us and a crowd 180+. Over 120 came to Gopinath dham on the last evening. Eyes closed, all chanted and when the rhythm picked up, they eagerly danced in happiness. What mostly inspired was the sheer number of ‘regular’ Australians, many of whom visited for the first time. Some even came to the temple for the Sunday kirtan. They stayed, danced and ate prasadam. Radhika also gave cooking demo for the 3 rd consecutive year and a few had attended the 2 previous ones. We wondered what causes that steady expansion. Sri Radha Raman prabhu, a senior brahmachari is tireless and resolute when it comes to spreading Sri Chaitanya’s culture of Hari Nama. His goal is clear, the practice clean, and Prabhupada’s mission is firmly in the center.



Over 2 weeks now, since we’ve been in OZ. Since the beginning of the year the pace has been brutal. Yet, Mayapur has been on my mind. We visited after 5 years and the sight of the temple with its massive, biggest on Earth, blue dome stunned us speechless. Sadbhuja prabhu kindly took us around, detailing literally everything. As we explored, a strong feeling of gratitude and love for Prabhupada and his dedicated followers invaded my heart. Standing under the vast dome, we felt proud to be part of such meaningful history. India forever challenges our tolerance, patience and resistance. One who grasps the magnitude of the work will bow in deference to those behind the completion of such a monumental project. I wondered how many more years till the final completion. No doubt, in these times, this is one of the most ambitious artworks devoted to loving and adoring God. We pray Sri Nama favors us with seva in this sacred site.

Trip to the Himalayas

Trip to the Himalayas

Part 4

We quickly came to loose stones on the slope of the Bhagirathi Mountain. No path! We advanced carefully and noiselessly as rocks were still coming down. The slap of rocks hitting each other sounded alive! Looking up, I immediately dodged as a fair size one sped towards me. We’d lean on the mountain, advance on rocks that slid away and we’d slip. Below, the Ganga rushed, her current strong. Krishna protected us from a harsh end as my inadequate shoes rolled on unstable rocks numerous times. I guess, we took it a step at a time, believing we’ll be there now. We could not have foreseen the peril. Soon we descended to the river.


This year’s extreme weathering changed the topography. Ganga now surged from 2 rock fissures in Gomukh. Some saw 3 of them! Yet, BBC Ganga says She started from the Gangotri glacier, which retreated 20 km due to climate change.  Lord Shiva caught Her in His dreads at Surya Kund. In the winter when the water level is low, a Shivalinga is visible. Allegedly, She could also come from Tapovan. Personally, it’s all a mystery I cannot understand. On the other side of us, the terrain was level but our guide refused to cross the gushing river. We entered, thigh deep and quickly dipped in her icy waters. We filled bottles, drank deeply and carried some more. A fleeting visit based on faith, and we’re clutching our way back to the top, to the non-existent trail. Our guide misled us and risked our lives when he walked where the old path used to be. We basically rolled across the mountain flank for ½ km while he was like a mountain goat, just like the Sherpas are like human mules. Old people have walked this trail since centuries. I highly doubt they’d both, step on and clutch at, rolling stones. Later, we learnt a hazardous but less volatile trail did run over the glacier. A proper guide would know that. Ganga is an important structure of our Vaisnava culture. Hence, we’d pressed on. Now we hurried, and were soon across the boulders towards Bhojbasa as Vikash inhaled oxygen. There, we met Radhika, Vrindavan Kirtan and young people from All-India-Trekkers who urged us to stay the night at Bhojbasa because starting the ride to Gangotri in the late afternoon could be disastrous. But we were hell bent on going, as we felt quashed by the trip. It had been rather harrowing. At 4 pm, with dread sitting like a brick on our chest, we started our 4-hour ride back to Gangotri, uneasy and unprepared.



Part 5

The return journey petrified us. It seemed the path had narrowed with extra tight bends and low overhangs. Also, our mules liked the brink. Vrindavan Kirtan’s mule would graze below the edge. He yelled at the handler to control the animal. The man cheerfully replied – no problem; if you go down, you go up! Most of the way was abrupt, deep precipice. Dusk arrived as the sun moved behind the mountains, and we came to the danger zone. Too late, no time – said the handlers, as they urged the animals on to the steep incline. Vikash almost came off his saddle. Behind, Radhika chanted Hare Krishna interspersed with Krishna, Krishna Maha Baho. Later, she told me her mule had stopped midway, legs shaking. Steps were hewn in the rock and they were sheer and smooth. A short backward slide to the bend below and none would survive. The handler gently coaxed the animal on. Radhika wondered how it would feel to smash on the boulders at the bottom and remembered Lord Vishnu rescuing Prahlad when he was thrown off the mountain. We were still 2 hours away and darkness dropped.


Besides, cold invaded and froze our limbs. Vrindavan Kirtan rode in front and shone his phone torch. At once the handler told him to put it off or the animal will follow the light off the mountain. We still had rivers to cross, unsafe paths, hairpin bends, overhangs to knock us off our mounts, capricious mules brushing against mountain, catching and twisting our leg at the knee, and the saddle felt like iron digging in our butt bones. Thus, while trailing in the dark in utter misery, some one said to look up. At once, the sight of so many bright stars, so close, a detailed milky way, the inky blue-black sky and the outline of these magnificent mountains captured and fascinated us. Here, Vaikuntha is not far. It is the destination of Saints as nothing panders to the body. We rode on to our destination, feeling close to God.


Words cannot adequately describe the ordeal. Nothing had prepared us for this journey. Advice of friends who’d hiked before was inapt. Record rains had changed the terrain. Rockslides were still reshaping it. Veteran hikers told us they’d never attempt the ½ km before Gomukh the way we did. I would strongly advise future hikers never to ride mules on those risky, unsafe trails. Better to walk and spend the night in Bhojbasa. Back in Gangotri we heard 2 mules had thrown their human loads off the mountain some days before. MVT manager, Govinda, recalled his trip earlier this year. Mules had run amok, brutally slamming him and his friends into the mountain. Had they been edge side …!


Yet, such pilgrimage shows the reality of the spiritual coming down to mortal realm. Our lives are committed to Prabhupada’s mission and we acted in naïve ignorance. Had we known the degree of risk, we’d never have ventured beyond the last ½ km to Gomukh, or rode on mules!! We rested in Gangotri for 2 days before leaving for Rishikesh. Driving down the mountain, ravine side didn’t ease the tight knot in the chest.



Himalaya Trip – End


Besides no one obeying traffic laws, India could have the worst of bus drivers. Though we encountered little traffic driving away, we still felt stressed, as vehicles coming at us seem to force our car to the brink. After a sharp curve our driver stopped for us to look down the canyon. The broken carcass of a van was still there. Few days ago 14 people had perished. It is a road from hell, leading to heaven. A brief stop to dip in the hot Springs at Ganganani and we were off to Uttarkashi where we spent the night. Here Ganga trickles down as dams hold her captive for various uses. Still, several streams again join her, swelling Her waters but altering Her temperament and color. No more is She almost white, nor does She dance Her way down. The next morning we started early, relieved the frightful mountain road was behind. Pure delusion!! We’d climb to the top of a mountain, come down and go up another one, and another one and …, for 5 hours! Often we failed to see the bottom of the chasms. One time we saw cranes pull up a bus from down. It had compressed to about 4 feet high. No survivors! The roads to Rishikesh were worse and it felt like a 5-hour tooth extraction – angst, nerves, and trepidation.


In Rishikesh we stayed 5 days on the banks of the Ganga, soothed and solaced by Her. Closer to Her birthplace She moves about playfully, Her transparent icy grey-blue waters is sweet ambrosia. Here, She seems sober, Her mercy, formal and her water has a taste. Yes, I would like to go to Gomukh again and Tapovan. Ganga is closely related to Krishna in various pastimes, up to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu bathing in Her or depositing love of Krishna for Narottama in Her waters. We pray our pilgrimage to the place of Her appearance earns us Her willingness to remove our many sins from countless of lifetimes, so we can chant with attachment to Krishna and serve Him in any condition and/or situation. Still, the big question – did the trip contribute to our devotional practices. Since we began our Karthik Nama seva, images of Gomukh Ganga come to mind. I have yet to understand how such an externally arid, lonely, desolate place fills the heart with the warm desire to serve with attachment. We humbly desire the day when our devotion issues forth from Krishna’s toes and flows unhindered back to His Lotus feet.



Trip to the Himalayas

Trip to the Himalayas

Part I

We went to Yamunotri, Gangotri and Gomurkh this time. Landing in Dehradhun early morning, we drove straight to Yamunotri the same day. The winding mountain road generated ceaseless fear. Apparently heavy rains and rock falls had destroyed the already narrow path. In one place, the road was a gaping hole through which we saw the plunge. Our car literally climbed the mountain. My wife, seated ravine side, kept screaming – more to the right, until the driver told her to shut up and let him do his job. Poor soul froze, naked fear robbing her of her voice. Yet, at intervals, we spotted the Yamuna far below. She is a warm turquoise, aquamarine, blue. Relief invaded our beings when we arrived at destination. But the hardship wasn’t over. The dharmashalla was eye-popping exorbitant. It was unclean, tiny and icy cold. We all hardly slept. Early morning the next day, we set out, Radhika on the donkey, to the Yamunotri temple, a 5 km, 4000 m high, stair climb. Cold, thin air labored our breathing. At the temple 3 hours later, we were soaking in the hot springs. The actual source of the Yamuna is the Yamuna glacier at 6400 m altitude. Access is almost impossible for the common people. Still, from where we’re standing we see her sharp descent from way up.

Natural beauty is unsullied and virginal here. Secondary waterfalls rush down to join to Yamuna. We all quickly walked down, a doubtful Radhika having refused to mount the donkey downhill. The same day we set out to Uttarkashi, on the way to Gangotri.


Part 2

After a warm, peaceful sleep we started very early from Uttarkashi to avoid the taxi drivers on strike. They’d block the roads, threaten to burn our vehicle and kill our driver. Lucky it would end up in smiles and camaraderie. Incredible India!! We didn’t even have to bribe! The road to Gangotri was daunting, though we hardly noticed; so intent were we upon our goal and we drove mountainside. I remembered Gangotri from 25 years ago. Clean simplicity and austerity created a spiritual haven. Now commerce and satellite dish have arrived. Still, a rushing Ganga graced us with her darshan from our hotel windows. How she winds her way through cliffs, cataracts and boulders is stupendous. There, we walked to Surya kund, Gauri Kund and Pandava cave – a humongous boulder with a tiny door in it. The Pandavas stayed there. Now, an old sadhu resides there even during the winter. We met a lot of Swiss and German people. We’d immediately bond because of the language. I told our German neighbors about the sadhu and they wanted to visit. They came to climb mountains and I profiled them ‘tourists’ in my mind. Yet, their next question shamed my miserly heart. What gift can we bring the sadhu – they asked. Honestly, I have never had such feelings for ‘sadhus I don’t know’. Thank you Ganga mata for purifying this fallen one. I immediately gave them a glove I had bought. They brought rice, dhal and the glove for the ascetic. My brother in law wanted to buy a barefoot sadhu a pair of shoes. The sadhu replied, your austerity is your effort to come here, I already live here; my austerity is my renunciation.

At night cold descended like an icy blanket. We’d put heating pads and hot water bottles in our sleeping bags. Tap water burned our hands till painful. Of course the rooms had no heating and we’d order buckets of hot water for our bucket-baths.

The next day we went to Gomukh on one of the most terrifying journeys of our lives.



Part 3


We’d naively decided to do Gangotri-Gomukh return, in one day. Before dawn all 4 of us mounted our mules, for the 14 km ride to Bhojbasa. A guide and 2 handlers accompanied us. A bare half hour into the trip Radhika’s mule made a sharp turn, hind legs almost below the edge of a high cliff. Panic-stricken, she screamed – too close to the edge. The narrow mountain paths were a bare 2 feet wide at times. A few months ago heavy rains had caused landslides, rock falls and erosion thus wrecking the old one. The way was treacherous. Almost none spoke a word. Radhika loudly chanted Hare Krishna the whole time, tightly closing her eyes when the abyss opened in front of her. At one point we had to get off the mules to walk through a ‘danger zone’. The Ganga was far below. An abrupt, smooth dip and hairpin bend duped us into thinking we’re about to walk, or slide off the mountain. A galloping mule probably would!! Back on our mounts, we arrived in Bhoj Bhasa 4 hours after we’d started.

Yet, once we beheld the Himalayas proper, we were stunned. Beauty is a weak word. How to describe the snow capped magnificent mountains! History says countless of exalted saints had walked this path. The world of the common mortal war so far removed! We felt profound ‘upliftment’. Our only worth is our surrender. Many pious old Indians do this journey hoping to end there. They walk the path of our great ancestors. At the end, the Pandavas walked north, each falling one by one on the way, until only Yuddhisthir remained.

We trekked the remaining 4 km to Gomukh until 1 km to destination. Rockslide had obliterated the old path. A loose, gravelly trail led down to soft sand. Beyond, boulders had rolled down. Huffing and puffing, we scrambled over them. One hour later we’d progressed less than ½ km! The thin air strained our lungs. Then, we had to cross over a narrow, crumbling ledge. Radhika followed behind me. I grasped her hand as she stepped on the strip and it gave way. Her ‘Krishna!’ rang out clear and desperate. She struggled, failed to get a footing. I held on. Though the drop was not far, she would have broken limbs. Our guide quickly came and helped her onto our side of the strip. He gripped her hand and they advanced sideways, toes to the mountain and soles hanging out. Finally we came out of the boulders onto level ground. Gomukh was ½ km away. Suddenly a guide with 2 hikers walking from there, appeared and talked to our guide. There had just been another rockslide and no trail remained. He strongly advised not to go further. Rocks were still falling and tragedy was likely. Our guide informed us he knew of a way, but it was perilous. We should decide. Radhika and Vrindavan Kirtan declined to go further. My brother in law, Vikash, and I decided to push ahead.




Hong Kong for the first time

Hong Kong for the first time. Devotees are serious, dedicated and determined here. Though the temple is tiny, a steady program is carried out each day. We are staying w/ some good hearted devotees 6 floors above the temple. We are engaged in Nama seva everyday and twice a day at times. Chinese people are hardworking. Here Iskcon is outwardly more cultural than spiritual, because of political restrictions. Yet, the devotees have an awesome prasadam distribution. Yoga is used extensively to connect people to Suddha Sattva. Various classes go on each week. Chinese people enjoy studying. We like the temple. It is well run and the devotees are well organised. Chinese also love discipline. We feel fortunate we are engaged here. Besides, we are deeply grateful to Tamal Krishna Goswami, Bhurijana prabhu and Jagattarini mataji. Their perseverance began Mahaprabhu’s Sankirtan mission here.

Half of our Nama seva is with non devotee yoga crowd. They listen attentively, chant and dance. We may not talk directly about Krishna, but they sure chant Krishna’s name in sincere meditation. Sometimes we stop, wonder in awe about the Sankirtana mission and humbly pray to always be somehow or the other engaged in the eternal, almighty Nama seva.