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Monday, November 19, 2018

Christmas 2017: Karma Yoga in Sri Ramakrishna's Room, Part One

By Vivek

As a volunteer at the Vedanta Society in my younger days, I used to look forward to contributing my bit to weekend Karma Yoga sessions when we spruced up our place of worship. On Christmas Day (Monday, December 25, 2017), I had a chance to do just that in Sri Ramakrishna’s room, in which I also spent 4 hours (by His and the Divine Mother's Will and Grace), while visiting the Dakshineshwar Kali temple amidst teeming Christmas weekend crowds. That Monday morning, I set out for Dakshineshwar, planning to spend as much time as I could in Sri Ramakrishna’s room in the corner of the awe-inspiring temple complex.

Early morning ferry: Belur to Dakshineshwar to beat the crowds
I had been warned by many about the throngs of devotees who would visit the temple that day, and of the long lines that would ensue. I reached the Ferry Ghat near Belur Math after being treated to a hearty Christmas breakfast at the Belur Math Guest House before 8:00 a.m. It was a pleasant surprise to find myself the lone voyager across the Ganges/Ganga on an empty government ferry. The early morning crowds at the temple were sparse and the entrance lines nice, thin and short. I was comfortably settled in my little corner of Sri Ramakrishna’s little corner of the temple by 8:45 a.m. or so, planning not to lose the spot at least for the next several hours or until kicked out in accordance with the ‘DO NOT SPEND TOO MUCH TIME IN THIS ROOM’ policy boldly displayed on the notice board.

An unexpected obstacle: The call of nature beckons me back out of the temple complex
Unexpectedly however, my bladder began to make its uneasy presence in less than an hour. Worryingly enough, and threatening my carefully laid out plans, the nearest facilities were situated outside the sacred temple complex. This would require exiting and rejoining the entrance lines to relieve my discomfort, both of which were by this time, burgeoning at an explosive rate. By about 10:00 a.m., I was fighting a losing battle against the clarion call of nature. I looked wistfully at my now empty corner and bowed my way out. After a short struggle to collect my shoes from the depository, I woefully liberated the organ that had betrayed me. Then, just to try my luck, I tried to make my way to the end of the (now much, much longer) entrance line from the morning, but gave up in exasperation…. I couldn't find the end. The line now wound across the parking lot, around the pond, and cornered into an alley into a crowd where I lost it. It looked about 3 hours long and 4,000 people strong at this point.

To be continued. . . .

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