The Path of Yogamaya

by mrupa

Dropping down from the main road just in front of the old one-room school house next to the lagoon and across from the old forge, the first few yards of dirt road is both the beginning of the driveway to Mr. Snyder’s homestead along the top of the ridge, and the pathway to Vrndavana Farm.

Like Krsna at the Rajasuya Sacrafice, it was seen by many different people in many different ways; from an expansion of Aghasura to one of Yogamaya. The road definitely bore the touch of the internal energy though, for it led you to Krsna and His original abode here in West Virginia anyway. It was traversed by the Planter of the transcendental seed of Goloka, Srila Prabhupada; and is a place of some of His sweet pastimes.

The path through Keshi Ghat was mostly the result of running the electric wires from the main road to the Vrndavana farmhouse which originally had no wiring at all. But when Prabhupada said He wouldn’t come unless he could keep on using His dictaphone for His translations, the yajna through the valley behind the farmhouse was “opened” up.

The road was a narrow dirt pathway, barely wide enough for one car that was the only access to Vrindavana Farm-the original property constituting New Vrindavana.

At first as you left the main road on the way “up top,” you bore right off of Mr. Snyder’s driveway and dropped slightly onto a lower arm of the track. A small lively creek runs along your right side just a few feet from the walkway. Along the upper left hand side is a wire and wood post property line fence indicating the lower line of Mr. Snyder’s land. It is often hidden as it raises and lowers its way along the ridge-side.

These first few sections of the road, flat with easy entry and with the creek curving around it, have been used as the backgrounds for some of the early artists’ paintings of Krsna and His associates.

The creek meanders back and forth crossing the walkway three different times. Its widest crossing is at a slight bend in the road just the road begins to rise upwards in curving undulation toward the cliffside site of Vrindavana Farm. As the road rises there, the creek begins to drop along the fold of the land gradually at first. Until it is running many many yards below the embankment of the road; first through one small waterfall far out and down behind Lalita Gopi’s home, (just before the pond now at the bottom of the access road across from Vani’s home) and over the Kesi Ghat fall below Vrindavana Farm Itself.

In the summer time on the lower flatter stretches of the road, the plants would tower up and lean over the edge of the road, in a few places from both sides. The fragrance of their flowers, the warmth they generated, and the way they blocked your vision of anything else for that stretch, made you feel like some small thing wandering in a gigantic greenhouse, or perhaps along the path of some new planet.

At nearly the top of one straight but very upwardly inclined stretch, there was a large tree standing on the left that had been used by previous visitors for some initial carving.. It was from along the old Vrndavana road that the logs for Big Lord Jagannatha, Lord Balaram, and Lady Subadhra originated. Vrndavana road was also the place where the daru Brahmin logs for Hladini’s personal little Jagannatha Deities were found. When the bark for the first was removed, there was a very clear outline of the form of Lord Jagannatha displayed in the lines of the wood.

Not far beyond the last crossing of the stream, the property fence line recedes well up the left embankment out of sight. But there was a wide swath of grass almost looking like an old lawn that came down the left embankment to the walkway. It is the site of an old access road used by Mr. Snyder many many years ago.

On the right side of the road not far from the swath over in the trees in an uncommonly small planed out looking little flat, was the place where Srila Prabhupada’s car was stuck.

In the very beginning of New Vrindavana, before Bahulavan or Madhuvan, Prabhupada came and spent a month up top. Prabhupada was seeding and confirming the presence of the Dhama with His mercy, and grace implanting it in the hills.

But to take Prabhupada up the rugged 2 mile trail to the Vrndavana temple, the devotees had borrowed an old low slung black limousine to carry Him there. The road utterly defeated the car about half way up. Prabhupada and the devotees walked the rest of the way along the ever rising pathway, leaving the car abandoned on the side of the road.

Prabhupada’s car remained on the pathside for many years, until some of the neighboring men pried it out of its muddy home. While it was there, we would always make an acknowledgement to Prabhupada’s remnant as we went by. It was this place that was the sight of Cintamani’s dream.

Some way up the ever rising curves of the road, some with intimidatingly steep drop offs on the right and perpendicular wall-like rises of forest on the left, the road made a sharpish right bend. There was a little rill running down into the corner beside a single big tree.

On the tree to denote the approach of Vrindavana property, was a painted wooden sign: “Vrndavana: Where all walking is dancing, all talking is singing and the constant companion is the flute.” The sign was decorated with vines and flowers and had a small painting of Krsna running underneath the quote. Across from the tree was an old old gate post. When we walked up to Vrndavana, we used to stop at this boundary and make obeisances to Srila Prabhupada before we entered the geography of the Dhama, the home of His Deities, and His residence.

At one point, the road curved so sharply over on itself, from one bend you could look across another curve ahead to the temple farmhouse through the trees. It used to be the first sighting you would have of Sri Sri Radha Vrndavanath’s or Lord Jagannatha’s home from the road itself. On fine days, there was a shelf made out of strong boards attached just outside the right corner temple room window where Tulasi Devi would sit to take the sun.

As you came up to the last curve before the straightaway to the front walkway through the rail fence bounding the side yard; there was a spring running into a bathtub just off the hillside on your left.

Whenever the temple water ran out for one reason or another, it was the closest place to get drinking water or for a fast wash up. It was too muddy all around the tub to do something like wash clothes though. For that, we went either down to the pond just below the old pigbarn, (where you ran the risk of meeting some particularly large and aggressive horseflies who could literally take a chunk out of your leg) or go all the way down to the Keshi Ghat falls.

Keshi Ghat was by far the first choice of anyone who could spare the time to go down and come back. You could walk easily right behind the falls and stand under them like a fantastic shower in the flowing water. The tilak along the back wall of the cascade was great for getting the oil and grease out of your hair. The clay had been pummeled so finely by the pounding water, it was an exceptionally smooth pale gray color just perfect for Tilak. So, you could accomplish many errands with just one visit.

The fastest record I ever heard for anyone getting from the back of Radha Vrndavanatha’s temple to the Palace through the Keshi Ghat, pass and up to the main road was 7 minutes. Several devotees used to run the Vrndavana-Bahulavan road when errands were urgently needed.

When Lord Jagannatha lived up top, Hladini would take a backpack down the road to Bahulavan everyday to get bhoga and supplies for Lord Jagannatha whatever the weather or season. By then the road had become virtually impassable by any sort of vehicle.

Once she very nearly was swept away by the full flood current of one of the creek passages running across the road just after an especially severe storm during the January thaw that year. Hladini had been able to get across on her way down the road, but by the time she returned the creek had swollen so rapidly, that when she tried to test it her feet were forcefully swept out from under her, and she had to swim literally for her life while carrying a full pack strapped on her back. All this even though at any other time that particular crossing was barely over ankle deep.

On weekends when the rains had been especially soaking, the road could become quite impassable even by foot. Then devotees would go up along the ridge starting from Hayagriva Prabhus A-frame cabin and head along the ridge-top toward Mr. Snyder’s farm. They would stop and ask his permission to pass over his property and then go down his access road to the main road by the school house.

The old Vrdnavana road was a long and very contemplative walk. You couldn’t hurry it up much. The road allowed you its passage into the service and darshan of Radha Vrndavanatha and Lord Jagannatha. And the consciousness you kept during the time you spent along it could prepare you for that mercy in a very unique way.

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