Gita Essay Winner 2011 Shares Experience of His First Prize

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The annual Gita Essay Competition, took on a new dimension in 2011. Giridhari Prabhu organised sponsors for the airline tickets of the first prize winners of each category to travel to India. Mr. Sobha of Master's Trading Ltd. sponsored one ticket; Mr. Roye, a long-standing, well-wishing friend of ISKCON and an anonymous donor sponsored the second ticket. The Delhi temple, Raghava Pandit Prabhu and Sumukha Prabhu then kindly sponsored a guided tour of Delhi and Vrindavan. Amit Baboolal, the winner of the student category, shares his experience with us. Some photos of his tour may be viewed here.
"Going down the memory lane overwhelms my heart with inexhaustible bliss

and inexpressible amazement. The Bhagavad Gita essay competition 2011 has been a real mercy showered on me by His Divine Grace A.C Bhaktivedanta swami Srila Prabhupada, Srimati Radha Rani and Sri Jagannath, Baladev Subhadra Maharani of which, I am really not worthy. When I was asked to take part in the competition by Madan Gopal Dasa Prabhu, I accepted to do so only as a service for Sri Jagannath Mandir and did not want to win the competition. I thought, what will I do one week in Delhi? I believed it would be better if the first was a cash prize so that I could donate it for the construction of Sri Jagannath Mandir. Yet, I was not aware of what was awaiting for me in India as I was not told that it will, rather, be a trip of the various ‘Dhamas’ and most importantly, Vrindavan Dhama.

Nevertheless, I took the service seriously and researched the topic a lot and started writing when I got sufficient information. The ideas in my mind were clear enough; but, I was not able to organize the flow of those ideas in my essay as I got lots of comments and quotes of Srila Prabhupada on the topic and did not know how to put them in proper use. However, I started writing and everything was happening by itself as if someone was turning the situation in my favor. Every idea that I got, was backed by Srila Prabhupada’s mercy through his comments and through verses from the Srimad Bhagvatam. I understood the Lord’s plan the day of the prize giving ceremony when I was declared the winner. Still, the first prize did not really interest me but, the visit to India changed my mind.

It was an experience that I can never forget. The hospitality, the Prasad, the devotees, the serenity of the holy places and the opulence of the Deities were just out of this world. India and its lifestyle incredibly fascinated me and more than that, I was fascinated by the prominence of ISKCON over there. Sri Sri Radha Parthsarthi Temple’s unbelievable opulence and the enchanting beauty of their Lordships remind us that Krishna is the most famous, beautiful, powerful, rich, intelligent and renounced. The hospitality we received there was just perfect and I really thank Prabhu Namabhav, Prabhu Sailesh, Prabhu Sumukha, Prabhu Raghav Pandit, Prabhu Chandar and Prabhu Giridhari for all the arrangements they made to make us feel at home.

It is practically impossible to describe what one feels in Vrindavan. It can only be experienced. Vrindavan is such a place from where I really did not want to return and where I still want to go again and again. The presence of Krishna is felt in every nook and corner of Vrindavan. While participating to morning programs at Sri Krishna Balaram Mandir, one feels immersed in spirituality and bliss. The air is scented with some kind of transcendental aroma and one just feels detached from all material attachments. Nothing is, then, more significant than Krishna. Lucky and blessed are those people who live in Vrindavan. I am really thankful to Prabhu Devananda and Prabhu Vraja Vallabha without whom I would not be able to do the parikrama of Vrindavan, of the amazing Barsana Dham and of the majestic Giri Govardhan. Besides, I was also able to visit Nanda Gaon and Radha Kunda/Syama Kunda.

Having a dip in the sacred Ganga is really something one should experience. I never felt as light as when I got out from the water. All glories to Ganga mata!!
Well, ten days were really not enough. I badly want to go back to India and spend more time there. Back here, now, I really feel that I have changed and I am more inclined towards devotional life. And so, I thank Sri Sri Radha Golokananda Mandir and ISKCON from the bottom of my heart for having given me such a matchless gift."

Giridhari dasa offers heartfelt thanks to all those who make this competition possible: Vidura Prabhu for coordinatingand organising the competition. Nayarayan Prabhu, Panca-tattva Prabhu, Rasamrta Mataji for all their assistance in contacting the colleges and other administrative duties. The Delhi temple and the Mauritian devotees serving in Delhi, especially Raghava Pandit Prabhu and Sumukha Prabhu for organising the guided tour for the winners and all those who helped in one way or another. Thank you. Hare Krishna!