Archbishop Eric Escala with garland
The voice of the Shepherd, Archbishop visits Prabhupada’s House.
This past Sunday I had the opportunity to visit the ISKCON temple in Buenos Aires, needless to say, it was a very nice experience.
I had read many books of His Divine Grace Abhay Caranaravinda Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda “The man who built a house that everyone can live in”.
I must say that it is very true.
Although we were few visitors, we were received with all the love and appreciation from the community. His Grace Baladeva das, with whom I share interreligious dialogues, had invited us. He was coming from Mendoza to visit the devotees in Buenos Aires and we took advantage of this opportunity to see each other.
When I passed through the gate of the temple I was transported to mystical India, the colors and the smell of incense bathed the place, there were devotees of Krishna consciousness at the entrance who received us with great joy… they spread peace.
Songs and many voices were heard in the air, I could also appreciate the books that they had at the entrance with many teachings, their covers invited us to open them.
A devotee kindly took me to the temple where after leaving my shoes outside, we entered.
I was not aware of Prabhupada’s presence, it was an image (murti) that attracted attention… it was as if the Swami was their body and soul; then I saw some of the members of ACeI (Cultural and Interreligious Action) its coordinator, Judith Juan, Esteban Tribilsi (Scientific Researcher), Inderveer Kahur (Sikh Dharma Community), Jorge Stein (Scientology), and Ruben Hazan Zubi, who had also been invited.
The songs called for meditation but not as we are used to personally and in silence, but to become aware of everything that surrounds us, living beings, plants, and the universe in a single connection.
His Grace Baladeva das introduced us and spoke a little in his class about interreligious dialogue, he also allowed us to talk with the brothers in a spirit of mutual learning, really very welcoming.
One thing that caught my attention about the temple was its paintings, its windows, and the altar, it was like going back to my youth, to my
Years of philosophy when we visited the Hindu temple, as we entered we would take off our shoes and ring a bell.
While you stood in the center of the temple and greeted the four cardinal points, you look up and the name of god is written in Sanskrit, there are columns with various deities but on the main altar is the deity dressed according to the occasion, to see the altar It transported me back to those years.
I was able to learn a beautiful prayer that speaks of respect and love for the other, a brother from another religious house.
“Here my lovable Supreme Entity is worshiped, (God in a different way than I worship). Because I practice so differently, I can’t fully understand the system they follow, but seeing it makes me feel even more attached to my own system. I bow and prostrate to the symbol of him as I now see him in this place, and offer my prayer to the Lord, who has adopted this distinct symbol, asking him to increase my love for him.”
After the class I was finally able to hug my brother with whom I chat every week and who gives me his advice, we were also able to live the experience that the devotees have after the class, they divide the temple in two, men and women dance separately while they sing “Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”
As they danced and sang, the atmosphere was filled with a festive spirit, reminding me of the dance that the catechumens perform after the service or the dances of some Jewish communities at special times.
After this we went down where the table and the prasadam (spiritualized food) were waiting for us (I forgot to take the Tupperware to bring more prasadam to my house), while we chatted we were able to enjoy the food, in which God’s mercy is manifested, for our theology mercy is the love of God that goes beyond the reason of man, what better way to simplify this than through food, very delicious… the last time I ate prasadam was in the temple of Bogotá when I was a theology student and I had a teacher ahead of his time who taught us comparative religions, he used to say “you can’t talk about what you don’t know…”, for which he sent us to visit different religions, in those years interreligious dialogue was unthinkable.
The saddest thing of all was the farewell, really when Prabhupada thought of building a home for everyone, he was right, the experience invited you to stay; We said goodbye very happy and wanting to return.
On Monday when I woke up I still had that experience in my mind and when I remember I feel the smells, flavors and warmth of the devotees.
Many details of the experience I have reserved in my heart and mind since they are so special that I want to treasure them in a very special way.
I thank my brother His Grace Baladeva das for his friendship and his invitation to share with the brothers of Krishna Consciousness in Buenos Aires, this enriching experience for me and all the brothers who were able to be present.
Many blessings and thanks again.
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