Leaving the dhama is an impossibly difficult thing to do: sometimes sharp and painful; sometimes sombre and quiet…but always, always difficult. Even when the dhama has been home for many years, leaving never fails to instill a quiet, humble fear in the mind: “will I be allowed back in?” The smells, sounds, and sights settle in the heart like fingerprints in dust, leaving their trail, making their mark. Owning me.
I was headed to Australia, with family, friends, and visa renewal on the itinerary. I was going alone: my husband, Jahnu, would stay in Mayapur, his later trip to Sweden’s BBT in June already scheduled. Email, Skype chats, and text messages kept us in touch several times a day; once a day, a quick call, because all the other ways of contact are great, but the sound of someone’s voice is the most personal.
One morning when Jahnu called, I heard a sound that was making a background noise to his voice. I couldn’t quite catch it, and said, “Jahnu…stop….wait a minute….” He stopped speaking for a moment, and I heard it loud and clear: DONG….DONG….DONG. After a pause, Jahnu said, “What, Braja?” It was a steady, almost-musical toll of an industrial-capacity, ground-breaking “bell”—the pile-driving machine in Mayapur, almost 1km from our home at the very end of the housing area, was pounding the earth in front of Radha Madhava’s temple, resounding throughout the dhama, reaching into our home, winding its way through the ether, and finding its way into Australia, into my
phone, into my heart. As I sat 10,000 km away hearing the sounds of the dhama, I knew it was a moment I would always remember, a “Where were you when…?” moment like no other.
It’s Nrsimha-caturdasi as I write this; the end of a long and blissful day, and the sound of the pile-driver hasn’t stopped since I returned days ago. It’s constancy has become the heartbeat of Mayapur. It *is* like the tolling of a bell—a sound, as Ambarisa prabhu said, that travels around the world. It sombre yet beautiful monotone echoes all around the dhama; I hear it “dong….dong….” from the direction of the new temple, and a split second later its echo appears out in the field at the back of the school, floating in through my back window—a timeless, glorious sound, the long-awaited kirtan of the most precious, rare melody. It is the sound that is building our future, fulfilling Srila Prabhupada’s desire; the single note that is evidence of Gauranga’s nod of approval for this temple to rise.
And it’s the most beautiful sound in the universe…