by mrupa

In the earlier days, Mud was a personality in its own right in the universal form of the dhama.

Mud was almost all pervasive; it didn’t only live behind the cow barn, but one step out of any doorway. A throughway of it ran down the middle of Bahulavan and poured down two driveways along the embankment that led to the main road—which in the very early days was also mud when wet. Mud added earth tone color to everything from clothes to boots to socks to animals, man and machine.

A couple successive rainy days would usher in the 18inch brown stand out hemline on every sari. (In the cold months the frozen wet hems would act something like a dulled saw blade scraping bleeding scratches on calves and ankles). There was an old floor length formal black prom dress that in conjunction with a beat up army jacket served as the stool clothes for the women for what seemed like ages. It had the record Mud hem of any piece of clothing on the farm, Depending on how tall you were, it came up to mid-thigh or so. It was pretty much impossible to be discreet about what you were doing or where you were going with that get up on.

New Vrindavana Mud had a life and sense of determination of its own. It was simultaneously one of the most cloying of natural glues; as attested to by the myriad numbers of boots sucked off feet and hopelessly embedded in the muck. And the leg muscle training devotees could get by carrying 10lb. mud overshoes on each foot while trying to walk from one place to another.

Yet the Mud was so slippery it was the most nearly impossible substance to walk uphill against even slightly, without being unceremoniously dumped on your face. Or, if you possessed a truly transcendental sense of balance, you might just simply slide helplessly back down any incline you were trying to scale time after time.

Mud was the great leveler, nature’s crash course in how we are not the controller. Living and working with it was an exercise in true grit.

Mud was one of the first scouring ‘powders’ in New Vrindavana. The best way to clean the pots being used to cook for the mammoth 1972 Bhagavat Dharma festival was to use mud mixed with ashes (and the circular center of a Mason jar lid) for the really baked and burned on stuff.

And of course, mud was also unlimitedly and readily available tilak.

There was one other embankment incline at Bahulavan; a short 10ft. shot that left you rather abruptly at the doors to the duplex style outhouse behind RVC’s temple.

When that little slide was in form it could, if you aimed yourself right through art or accident, shoot you straight through the doorway and into the seating arrangement of the business closet in one fluid motion. On occasion it could cause rather embarrassing albeit amusing close encounters between someone sliding pell-mell down the bank into the surprised arms of anyone just exiting one of the doors.

There is, of course, no plumbing in an outhouse. The refuse was managed by lying down on your stomach, extending your torso as far over the edge of the pit beneath the seats of the house as you could without overtiping yourself and scooping out the deposits by hand from the big containers beneath with a cut off milk jug. Then you put each scoopful of the material into a 55gal. barrel waiting to be hauled out by the horse cart to the fields.

It was quite and extraordinary experience: serving the devotees in a very fundamental way, being in such prolonged and close contact with the ‘dust’ of the Vaishnavas, and the witness of one of Srila Prabhupada’s examples…the worm in stool.

If the receiving barrel stood long enough while it was full enough, you could actually see the little critters swimming around in there, diving and wiggling. I tried two experiments with them. Took one out and sure enough the little guy was just in a major sweat to get back into the soup. One Sunday after the feast I brought out a little halavah. And, yup, just like Prabhupada said, you can offer them halavah, but they’re not interested one little bit. The poor little blighters; how like them we can be.

Information and Links

Join the fray by commenting, tracking what others have to say, or linking to it from your blog.

Reader Comments

Sorry, comments are closed.