The Stains on My Hands in New Vrindaban

The Stains on my Hands

By Chelsea Cirasa

I had no clue what to expect when I decided to spend a month in New Vrindavan. I had been here once before in June for 24 hour kirtan, and I instantly fell in love, so much so that I almost had to get dragged onto the bus back home after numerous ‘reminders’ that it was leaving.. 20 minutes ago.

Coming this time was a bit more intimidating. My stay was longer, and it was not clear what exactly I had even signed up for. I had many little fears that week after I made the decision to come. I wondered if it would be a positive experience or if I would be committing offense after offense, not able to adjust.

To my delight, the experience turned out to be incredibly amazing, and so much more than my extremely idealistic and imaginative head would even dare to dream of.  I spent all of my days in the garden, peacefully doing very simple tasks while listening to bhajans, lectures, or even just the silence, which actually wasn’t all that silent. As my hands diligently worked away, my mind engaged in my own personal lilas with Krishna. It was so easy to imagine Him working right there next to me, dancing around and getting into all sorts of mischief in the garden.  At times, I knew I had never been happier or more connected to Krishna.


When Work is Play

When Work is Play

Temple life was different. It was difficult for me to connect with Radha Vrindaban Chandra in the beginning. At times I felt lost even though They would be standing right in front of me. I think though, that, that was their gift to me; teaching me to see Krishna everywhere. The garden soon became my temple, and little old me was actually allowed to serve on the altar.

The biggest difference I found between the altar I speak of and the one on which Radha Vrindaban Chandra reside is the standard of cleanliness. Radha Vrindaban Chandra’s altar is immaculate while the one I speak of is dirty. The dirt gets everywhere; in your mouth, in your hair, under your nails, literally everywhere. At first, I was embarrassed. I remember standing in the prasadam line after feverishly scrubbing at the stains on my hands, praying that no one would notice and admonish me for not being up to cleanliness standards while honoring Prasad.

Day after day, I would stand in line with dirt under my fingernails and stained onto my hands. The miraculous thing about the garden, though, is that the more time you spend there, the clearer and simpler things become. I came to realize that the stains on my hand were not something to be ashamed of, rather they were to be celebrated as a symbol of real, active, and raw devotion. All the painful, hard work and sacrifices I made for Krishna during those times resulted in those stains. So now everyday as the sunscreen goes on and the tilak comes off, I head out to the garden to put on another symbol of faith: the stains on my hands, symbolizing my position as a servant of God, to do whatever it is that He shall request of me.

Afraid of dirt no more!

Afraid of dirt no more!


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Reader Comments

Such a lovely story. It’s a wonderful experience to be a partner in nature and experience all it has to offer. Thanks for sharing your growth at New Vrindaban.

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WOW!!!! All glories to your service. You have had some deep realizations. I haven’t checked the Brijabasi Spirit in a while, but you have brightened my day with your humble and sincere observations. Haribol Sachimata dd