When someone new comes to town, I like to show them what our ashram, temple and city have to offer. Those that do come have a devotional motive, of course. I like to show them our main room of worship and especially the interior. Although simple, the ﬂoor is of linoleum, not really classy. Yet it is the ﬂoor our guru, Srila Prabhupada, walked on. We wouldnʼt want to change it for the world. When suggestions sometimescome up with alternative interior designers from well-meaning sources, I say, “Over my dead body!”.
There are slight paint marks still to be seen on the linoleum where the seat of honour, the vyasasan, of our guru was placed in ʼ76 when he came to visit us. Oh yes, even the paint markings hold a signiﬁcance.
I will then take the newcomer (almost by the hand) and show them the Oriyan-style paintings of Krishnaʼs pastimes because those renderings by artist Shyamasundar are phenomenal.
Naturally if the doors to the shrine are open - three large teak wood doors - I will explain our deities, and their interesting history! The next step might be to showcase our neighbourhood. How do you do that? Well, it means to put your shoes back on and stroll the nearby parks or just cover some of the shady residential streets.
Today, being the fortieth annual Ratha Yatra for Toronto, I became the guide for a number of visitors that have come as far as Europe, Sri Lanka, and various parts of North America including L.A., Texas, and Florida. My group came with me to Yonge and Asquith, the ofﬁcial starting launch for the celebrations.
The three chariots were lined-up standing there, by their glorious selves, waiting to be pulled by fortunate festival enthusiasts. There are some people like that. If the Grateful Dead have their following known as the Deadheads, then we must have the Krishnaheads, devotees who hop from festival to festival.
In truth, I hope that ﬁrst-timers donʼt become Krishnaheads. I personally prefer our people to achieve groundedness and plant roots somewhere. Hey, look who is talking?Mr. Gypsy himself. As a monk I have the privilege to be that. Iʼll travel around to templesand if a newcomer comes, I play host. I like it that way.