Coming home from India to the cold, dark north


I came back from India yesterday. Oh dear. I watched the golden sun come up over a bleak and mountainous Afghanistan, chanting my gayatri mantra while peering out of a small window in the back of the plane. By breakfast time I was dipping down through the clouds into a grey, cold London.

Its not easy coming back from India. Over the past month, first in the middle of India, then in the south, the temperature has been around or just over 100F or 35C. I’ve come back to an England that is 64F or 17C. Its hard for my body to cope with the drastic change and now I’ve come down with a heavy cold and a cough. For the past month the sun has come up every morning at 5.45 and set every evening at 6.15. Now it’s not really light until 7.00 am and starts getting dark around 4.30!

During my last week in India, when I was living in Madras/Chennai, I was able to walk out of my door and purchase fresh jasmine, red and pink roses, and beautiful lotus flowers for just a few pence. And handfuls of tulasi leaves for even less. Today I looked in my garden and the very last of my marigolds were just barely hanging on.

And every morning, right outside my window, there was a musical, religious procession featuring a white horse, a black cow, chanting brahmanas, a nadeshwaram band, and a decorated chariot bearing the brightly garlanded temple image of a Vaishnava saint. This morning, right outside my house, there was the milkman.

I’m not complaining, of course. My Lord Shri Krishna lives equally in England and in India, and can always be found if I look for Him. Its just that its marginally easier for my mind to appreciate His presence when the sun is shining, ancient temple bells are ringing, and my neighbours all wear tilak.

Still, my raspberries are still growing – and you can’t get them in India. And the darkness can always be chased away by the lighting of candles and the burning of fires. No wonder the ancient Celtic people of these dark, northern lands devised celebrations like All Hallows Eve (Halloween) at the end of summer, when lanterns were lit and ghosts frightened away.

But, my dear readers, let us steel ourselves for the great darkness that will soon be upon us. Three months of cold and dark until the sun changes course on January 14th. Even though it is more difficult to chant the holy names of Krishna on the dark, cold mornings when you’d rather be in bed, still take heart and do it, for it will do you a power of good. By the chanting of the maha-mantra the sun of Krishna consciousness will rise over the landscape of your innermost heart and you will dwell permanently in the spiritual warmth of the eternal sunshine.

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10 Comments

Filed under India, Journal

10 responses to “Coming home from India to the cold, dark north

  1. David

    Just be thankful – you actually returned to the warmest end-of-October on records (~17 degrees, as you said).

    A few weeks earlier and it would have been 7-9 degrees!

    • Yes, thanks, David, you are right, of course. I should be thankful for everything I have. My wife tells me the same thing! She is Canadian and when she was growing up the temperature drops to 40 degrees below freezing in winter! She says she couldn’t even stand out in the open for more than eight minutes. Its 10 there right now. So its all relative isn’t it?

      The other day I was in Chennai. It was more than 100 degrees and I was drinking some chilled water straight from the fridge. I asked a man sitting with me if he would like some and he replied that he didn’t drink cold water in the winter months!

  2. Jahnavi

    Sending you some Australian sunshine Daddy! Take heart! I’ll be stuck in the cold with you soon! xx

  3. Sita

    Guruji ,
    Even I was wondering about the Halloween tradition.I find it fascinating that it is celebrated between Deepavali and Karthikai Deepam.
    I find it difficult to make my son take bath here in Coimbatore,as the chill[as you say relative] has just started here.BTW,it was warmer than usual,this year.I tell him “you are not living in the Temperate zone,so be thankful”.
    Pranams

    • Yes, taking a bath (daily shower or dip) is one of the five items of Kartik month. As Vaishnavas we do that daily, of course, but it is specially advised for those who do not, as taking a morning bath will actually make the consciousness godly! My experience in India is that the cold water is actually warm, and the hot water is warm too! Please tell your son that here in England we actually have COLD water – like the Himalayas!

  4. Sita

    Thats just what I do!He has his bath ,eventually after all the drama[about 10 min.].

  5. Martin

    Welcome home Prabhu!

  6. bhk Michael R. Lorek

    The most difficulty might be that the body needs around 6 weeks to readjust the time difference in body maintenance, as an example beside regular meal times our organs have a specific time for cleansing during the night.

    And actually we had a great sunny October here, you could even still sit and chant in the park. It is so nice experiencing seasons like winter, spring, summer and autumn here in this hemisphere, having a winter and summer solstice; there so many meditations on that, what makes life so beautiful even here in hellish London. And by adding Krishna to it; it becomes so bright, enfolding all facets of its spectrum, beyond words. -I am very very happy living and serving here in this region of this planet; I have actually no desire going anywhere else.

  7. dusyanta dasa

    Not being rude but you are obviously not a gardener or grower.
    We planted out lettuce,spinach,cauliflowers,broccoli and we are still harvesting spinach,potatoes,beetroot,butternut squash,coriander,cress but the tomatoes were a bit of a disaster.
    We have planted over-wintering flowers for early spring and planted bulbs which are already coming up.Also some biennials for next year.In fact we have used something from the garden every week since May.Its fabulous,real wealth.
    There are so many advantages in living in a temperate climate.The Autumn this year has nearly been to die for ,some of the forests around our part of Wales have been gloriously beautiful.Hot climates don’t always mean its good.But the problem with continual travel means no continuity in the garden so we have to choose wisely when to travel so the impact on our material home is not too compromised.

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