Heaven on Earth: Vrindavan India
This year I spent a two month vacation in India. I went in the beginning of February, and came back near the end of March. It was my fourth trip there, and as always it was extremely fun and interesting. Furthermore, India and its culture are important to me personally. Although born in America, I am of Indian descent, my mother’s family having originally come from there. Indian culture and traditions are a daily part of my home life.
I visited three places in India while I was there. The first was Mayapura in West Bengal. From there I made a side trip to the ancient city of Jagannath Puri. Finally I arrived in the sacred pilgrimage site of Vrindavan, which is the part of my trip which I will now discuss. Over my four trips to India, it is where I have spent most of my time. Also, it is one of the most prominent pilgrimage places in India with a spiritual history dating back many thousands of years. I also like it because I have friends there from my previous stays, including one year when I went to school there. Another attraction is the residents of Vrindavan. They are wonderful people. They are occasionally loud and boisterous, yet they are the warmest, friendliest and most fun people anywhere. And as they reside in a holy town, they are spiritually minded.
Vrindavan is very inspiring to me personally. You can see so much traditional Indian culture and simple life there. Everyone lives so simply compared with the residents of nearby Delhi, or the western world. However, they are happy with their simple life, though others may consider it a hardship. It is also very spiritually inspiring. There are temples on almost every street corner, and the name of God is on everyone’s lips. It is also an important place for Iskcon (the International Society for Krsna Consciousness) of which I am a member.
Vrindavan used to be a small village surrounded by large areas of lush forest. However it has undergone rapid development, and now large parts of it are like a bustling city. With this development, the trees and wildlife previously present are getting harder to find. The population boom has led to other problems as well. Clean drinking water is in short supply, and the natural lakes and rivers present there are drying up and getting more and more polluted. What was once lush and green is now desert-like. This saddens me, but seeing this decline in Vrindavan’s environmental state has been a big inspiration for my wanting to study environmental science and ecology in college.
Another great part of Vrindavan is the animals. The most common are the monkeys, dogs, and cows. They are literally everywhere and for the most part live peacefully with the villagers. The only exception to this is the monkeys who, while sometimes peaceful, at other times cause no end of mischief. They steal food, fruits and vegetables from vendors, and cause all kinds of trouble. They are also quite intelligent. One time they stole my father’s glasses and we had to trade some crackers with them to get the glasses back. They are still tolerated though, by the big –hearted residents of Vrindavan.
Vrindavan, India is an amazing place to me in so many ways, especially due to the fond memories and cultural connections. However, anyone going there will enjoy and be enriched by this wonderful place.
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