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Visiting Trinidad with H.G. Deena Bandhu Prabhu
Trinidad is the southernmost island in the Caribbean and the fifth largest in the West Indies. In 1498 Christopher Columbus discovered this island in his third voyage, hence the name Trinidad. Through time the French, Dutch, and others have ruled the place and finally it ended up in British hands. Due to a shortage of labor, the British government sent Indian laborers, mostly from the Eastern part of India to work in the sugar cane plantations on the island.
Trinidad obtained independence from the British Empire in 1962. The Indian community over there has steadily prospered and at present they constitute forty one percent of the population. The Indian community consists of both Hindus and Muslims.
During January 2015, Sriman Deena Bandhu Prabhu of ISKCON Vrindavan toured the temples of Trinidad, on his way back to Vrindavan after visiting Brazil, Suriname, and Guyana.
Totally, ISKCON has four centers in Trinidad, and we visited three of them. They are Sri Sri Radha Gopinath temple, which is ISKCON’s prime temple there, we also visited Sri Sri Nitai Gaurachandra temple, known as ISKCON South Center, and also Sri Sri Jagannath Baladev Subhadra Mandir, located on the Madhuvan Farm.
Deena Bandhu Prabhu gave his 5 days discourse on Vraja Katha in the main temple of Sri Sri Radha Gopinath, and also in Sri Sri Nitai Gaurachandra temple of ISKCON South Centre. His lectures started with glorifying Sri Guru and Vaishnava. Thereafter he narrated some beautiful pastimes of Srila Prabhupada, followed by the glorification of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He also explained some of the wonderful pastimes of Gaura Lila and ended with the narration of the transcendental pastimes of Sri Sri Radha Krishna in Sri Vrindavan Dham. He also lectured at the Sunday feast at the Sri Sri Radha Gopinath temple, during which the temple was overcrowded with nearly two hundred devotees who specially came to hear Deena Bandhu Prabhu’s discourses.
The people originating from India who have been residing in Trinidad for generations have been cut off from India due to circumstances. However, it was enlivening to see that they kept their original Vedic culture intact in so many ways.
Through time they forgot their native Indian languages and English has become their only language of communication. The devotees at Trinidad were extremely loving and caring and they made Deena Bandhu Prabhu’s stay very homely due to their hospitality and caring nature.
The temple president of Sri Sri Radha Gopinath Temple is Sriman Agnideva Prabhu. He, along with Sriman Santa Vigraha Prabhu, who serves there as the president of the ISKCON Trinadad national board, took wonderful care of us. The resident temple brahmacharis and the congregational devotees were very loving and very enthusiastic to hear Krishna katha from Deena Bandhu Prabhu. There every morning starts with Mangala Arati darshan followed by morning programs in the temple which all the resident and many non-resident devotees attend very enthusiastically.
Sriman Agnideva Prabhu greets the Deities every day at the darshan arati with beautiful Vaishnava Bhajans with his melodious voice.
On Sunday after Deena Bandhu Prabhu’s lecture was over, Agnideva Prabhu began an ecstatic kirtan in which nearly two hundred devotees participated and danced in ecstasy. The devotees were so engrossed in Kirtan that everyone requested Agnideva Prabhu to continue even when it was the time to serve the feast prasadam. In the end, Agnideva prabhu didn’t leave the temple hall until the temple was cleaned and everyone has left after the feast.
The second ISKCON temple we visited in Trinidad is known as ISKCON South temple. This temple has very beautiful Deities of Sri Sri Nitai Gaurachandra. Deena Bandhu Prabhu visited this temple on two evenings and spoke Krishna katha to around fifty assembled devotees. In his lectures he specially glorified the beauty of Nitai Gaurachandra Deities and explained how in the very first sloka of Sri Caitanya Bhagavata, Sri Vrindavana Dasa Thakura glorified Sri Sri Gaura Nitai.
One day we visited the Madhuvan farm property that is situated a little far from the main temple. It is a beautiful place with large Deities of Lord Jagannath, Baladev and Subhadra Maharani. They also have large Gaura Nitai Deities. They are taking care of around eight cows, which they keep in the temple, and overall the place is maintained very nicely. During his visit, there Deena Bandhu Prabhu was requested to speak Krishna Katha, and he spoke about all the pastimes related to Sri Madhuvan which happened in all of four yugas. He mentioned how glorious Madhuvan is as a part of Vraja Mandal and also mentioned about the various temples and Deities over there.
One day we visited the famous Maracas Beach in Port of Spain city, the capital of Trinidad. This place is very scenic, and is a popular attraction at Trinidad. We all bathed in the sea there and afterwards we enjoyed a wonderful prasadam feast in the beach area. This was arranged very nicely by the local devotees, and was organized by Sriman Santa Vigraha Prabhu.
Also during our stay we were fortunate to have had the holy association of HH Guruprasad Swami and HH Bhakti Prabhupada-vrata Damodara Swami.
Overall it was a wonderful visit, and wonderful memories of our visit will remain with us for long!
To see more photos navigate below to the next pages or see them on facebook: http://goo.gl/ZGdzJD
By Arjun Bhattacharyya