Swami’s visit to the Grass Valley, CA area was scheduled around Radhastami. He gave his first talk in Nevada City, CA in a homey spiritual center called the Tea House, on the second floor of a downtown bookstore. Swami gave a beautiful discourse on the intoxicating and addictive quality of Krishna-bhakti, and how love is the real substance of life as opposed to understanding life from a theoretical/intellectual point of view. Love of Godhead is the all-encompassing answer to the big “why” questions of life. The further Swami developed his thoughts, the more attentive and enlivened the audience became, and in response Swami became more animated and excited. It was a wonderful example of the participatory nature of spiritual events like these. It showed in practice how spirituality can create a strong sense of belonging and affection between strangers, as opposed to the division and hatred that fundamentalist religion promotes.
The next day Swami gave a talk at the local Radhastami celebration in Nevada City, which was organized and hosted by Devahuti dasi. Her devotionally decorated house, an impressive, large altar, and the over sixty guests that showed up gave a perfect setting for the festival. Swami meant to speak on the last verse of Sri Siksastakam in which Sri Caitanya displays pure love of God in the mood of Radharani. But he got so carried away by exploring the theological and philosophical foundations of that love that he only got to the verse at the very end of the talk. It was firmly established that the love of Radha rests on service and correct theoretical understanding. There’s no jumping over these things in the name of reaching for the highest perfection. The night was crowned by puspanjali offerings at Srimati Radhika’s feet, ecstatic kirtanas and bhajans, and maha-prasada.
In the morning of his last day in Nevada City, Swami expanded on the same themes he had explored in the first program at the Tea House. He went deeper into the “why” questions that so much trouble humankind and brought out many wonderful insights. The audience was again reciprocating enthusiastically, and when Swami had talked for a while and asked what time it was, someone in the audience gave the time that the class had actually started, indicating that she wanted to hear more and the Swami shouldn’t worry about talking too long.
After the talk, as Swami was getting ready to head back to his Audarya ashrama, all the devotees came to say goodbyes. He asked with a seemingly surprised voice, “Where are you all going?” And someone replied, “Wherever you are!” You could feel that everyone in the room meant it.