Spent yesterday’s Kamika Ekadasi by the sea in Brighton, nicknamed ‘London by the Sea’. Normally I try not to travel on Ekadasi but the weather is so hot, school is out, my wife will shortly be leaving for Radhadesh Belgium, then to Canada, so our family time is limited this summer. We are also happy to have guests staying with us, Bhagavat-asraya and his wife Sarva-Mangala from Australia, so it seemed like a good day to make the drive down to the coast. Not that they are any strangers to beaches, but its always different when you’re in another country – and Brighton is slightly different from Bondi Beach.
The town was favoured by royalty in the early 1800s and has been a favourite seaside resort ever since. No golden sand to speak of, only smooth round pebbles, but miles and miles of it, and lots of sea and sunshine. Then, if you’re interested in architecture, there’s the Indian-influenced cast iron street furniture along the promenade, the famous pier, and of course the Royal Pavilion.
The Pavilion was built from 1815-1823 by John Nash for George, the Prince Regent, later George IV, and looks like it was transported completely intact from northern India. There’s not a devotee I’ve ever met who didn’t say, upon seeing it, what a great temple it would make.
We met up with Dharani-dhara who runs a shop called Spiritual Matter down in Ship Street, opposite the town hall. He has been in Brighton for almost ten years now, and has made many friends while there. Dharani first met Srila Prabhupada when he was a small boy of eight years old.
The sun was very hot and the pebble beach baking to the touch by the time we walked down to the shore. We took some time out for swimming in the cool refreshing waves, chanted Gayatri looking out to sea while half submerged in the rolling surf (a little different experience than being in the Ganges river, but it works) then had an Ekadasi picnic on the beach. I normally fast half day on Ekadasi so just about anything tastes good by the time 2.00 comes around, but this picnic was extra good. Even had some of our home grown lettuce in it. Dharani-passed around home made coconut sweets.
Brighton Promenade Bandstand. Picture: Mark Peskett
Dharani took me to meet Ian, who runs a car park quite close to the town centre. Ian is something of a yogi and once stayed for a month in Sri Mayapura Dham. His visit included the installation of Sri Pancha-Tattva deities there, so he was there at an historic time. Having a friend who runs a car park is something of an asset in Brighton, since parking is difficult, and the prices expensive. Ian was able to help. A short walk through the Lanes, seeing the quirky, artistic side of Brighton, was rewarded for me when I uncovered a copy of Songs of Three Great South Indian Saints (Annamacarya, Purandharadas, and Kanakadas) which I thought was quite fortuitous.