by Anita dasi
Isn’t it amazing how even at the largest festival Srila Gurudeva always managed to find a way to connect with each person and give them a moment, a realization, a lesson. This was the first parikrama without Srila Gurudeva’s manifest presence. No one really knew what to expect. But I know for myself that he still managed to make that connection. For me it was through the books.
I have heard devotees say that he is always with us and never leaves us and now is the time to connect with Srila Gurudeva internally, but I don’t really know what that means practically. I am a practical person. I was organizing the book stall when, “ding, dong” it hit me. I was surrounded by Gurudeva. He is non-different than his vani, his teachings. Anytime I want to connect with him, feel his presence, hear his wisdom – I only have to reach for a book. Its so simple and so obvious, but it really hit me.
Navadvipa is so sweet, visiting all the islands of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s pastimes, hearing the katha, wandering here and there barefoot on paths of lava – opps no one did the end-of-parirkama-Jedi-mind-trick (waving the hand and stating, “Forget all the hardships and go home and tell everyone how nice the parikrama was”). The parikrama was wonderful, but for me the juice was helping at the book table.
First of all, distributing books to devotees is such a pleasure. As Sulata didi put it, “this is so different than the street, everyone really wants the books.” We had a few new books: a special memorial edition Vyasa Pujya Harmonist, Harmony, the Specialty of the Gift of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Sripad Madhava Maharaja’s first volume about Srila Gurudeva.
More exciting was seeing devotees fill up their suitcases with books to bring home. Some came of their own accord and loaded up with books for their sanga or distribution. Armed with her dimples and a scale, Vasanti didi convinced many others to top off their luggage allowance. In his book form, Srila Gurudeva climbed in to suitcases bound for Holland, Kentucky, London, Australia, Mysore, Bangalore, Caninig, San Francisco, Australia, Florida, Guyana, Trinidad, Germany, Phillipines, Malaysia, China and other corners of the world. The book distribution sponsorship program was able to sponsor about 2,200 books of the 5,500 English books distributed during the festival.
One of the highlights of helping with book distribution at a festival is always to come to Srila Gurudeva with the money and the report. His eyes would twinkle as we would report the total sales, and if we were lucky he would pat us on the head. It didn’t feel quite right without that. The morning before I left, a few of the ladies who helped and I went to Srila Gurudeva’s samadhi and offered the money and reported to Srila Gurudeva the sales. Just as with any other festival I felt that connection with Srila Gurudeva.