Posted by David Pugh on February 25, 2014 at 12:15 AM
Yesterday I had to be at the railway station at 8am to book a tourist quota train, which is in high demand. While in the ticket que, I fell into conversation with a Jagannath priest from Chennai. Jerima Das, was born a Christian but converted to Krishna, he looked very African and had a wife and two children back in Chennai. There's a peculiar relationship between Jagannath and Krishna, Jerome as he was Christened, leaned more towards Krishna than Jagannath. He thought I had a strong spiritual aura and believed that I'd benefit from becoming one of the white robed gang. Having nothing better to do that morning, I decided to play along with him. The strange thing is that everything I now believe, is pretty much the same as Krishna consciousness. I've been banging on for years that Christ spent his missing years, from the age of 16 to 30, in India. What I didn't know was that this is taken as being the absolute truth by the Krishna club. I'm pretty much quoting one of their text here, written by one of their gurus, Srila Narayana Maharaja. I love this, love it, love it, Jesus arrives in Puri, sees Jagannath and hears him addressed as Krsna, pronounced locally as Kroosna. According to this guru, due to various Greek and Hebrew translations, the name became Kroosta and then Krista. So the happy smiling one seems to be the inspiration behind Christianity, which would give Puri the same status as Bodhgaya, the place of Jesus' enlightenment. The Krishnas go further and worship Christ as an incarnation of Krishna, son of God. I'd figured this out for myself but never knew the Puri story. It is quite feasible for a young man to walk from Palestine to India, given the fact that Jesus had 24 years to do the journey there and back. I met a young Afghan man, in a Belgian refugee centre, who had walked from Kabul to Brussels in a year. Most Indian philosophers spent their lives walking the length and breadth of their homeland, so Jesus had the power and conviction to do the same.
So Jerome tells me that I must become one of them, as I have the belief and the insight. All I need to do is chant the Hare Krishna mantra 108 times a day and leave my wife to join them! Pauline and I are getting on really well at the moment, only one argument since we got back to India and that was because she accused me of bullying her into ordering a Gobi Manchurian, in a Fort Kochi restaurant, hardly grounds for divorce! I took Jerome down to the Chakra Tirtha temple as he was a visitor here and had heard that this was one of the holiest spots in Hinduism, as it was the spot where the four ton tree trunk, that was to be carved into the image of Jagannath, washed ashore. Attached to the trunk was the 10,000 year old Chakra Tirtha itself, which is now the centre piece of the small temple. I'd really like to think that Jesus stood at this same spot two thousand years ago and was anointed from the wheel by some Hindu John the Baptist. Whilewalki g the beach near the temple with Jeriman Das, we stopped to speak with a Russian woman in her forties, who had lost her best friends to the sea at this spot. Her friend had been cremated at the burning ghat on Marine Parade. Jerome told her how lucky her friend was to die at such a holy spot and be cremated at a holy site, her soul would return in a truly great form. I'm not sure "lucky" is the right word, if she had walked about a quarter of a mile from the spot and seen how the fishing village use the water's edge as an open toilet, she would probably never have gone into the water. You cannot walk along the tide line there without treading in human fieces.
Later in the day I was introduced to a Krishna man, my age, who lived in Cardigan Bay, when he wasn't in India on his student visa. "Have you started chanting, man?" "It gives me such a high, at one with the Universe". "If some one was to give me a million pounds but I'd have to stop the chanting, I'd say no way,man!" Hare Krsna, Hare Krisna, Krisna Krishna, Hare Hare........107 to go! So I say to him that I don't see many Krishna couples, as the whole thing is about finding the god inside oneself. My wife is not looking for that, she just wants a garden with lots of sunshine. He replies, "Don't tell her man, just keep the chanting to yourself, only Krishna needs to know!". So I'm supposed to have a secret liaison with Krishna, in order to gain enlightenment? I walked off at this point.
Flood destroys Jatta home in the Gambia, West Africa.
Elizabeth Jatta's house was destroyed by flooding in 2009. It was a lovely mud brick home but without electricity, now they live in a zinc shed. She finds it impossible to visit her family home in Guinea Bissau. Bus Fare would like to give her the opportunity to travel back to her home village. If we were to send her the fare, she would spend it on the house but it is nice to give people the option.