Diary entry dated 13th October 2020:
This morning, I had a profound experience which revealed just how much the Manor residents mean to me, and how much I miss them.
For the first time since I moved out of the Manor, I woke up early enough to watch the entire morning programme online. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the morning programme, it begins at 4:30am with Maṅgala-ārati, during which devotees sing beautiful prayers glorifying the spiritual master, followed by the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. It is considered maṅgala, or auspicious, for all who participate.
As I sang along whilst taking darśana of Their Lordships through my laptop screen, my eyes were constantly filling up with tears. In my Reflection entitled Blissful Agony, I attempted to describe my feelings of separation from the Deities. Now, seeing Their exquisite forms and loving smiles, my heart was once again overwhelmed by those same feelings. When I saw Tulasī-devī as she was being carried off the altar in preparation for Tulasī-ārati, the emotions became especially intense, for she is very dear to me.
During Tulasī-ārati, which begins shortly after Maṅgala-ārati, more prayers are sung, this time in glorification of Tulasī-devī, an intimate servant of the Divine Couple who can grant us access to Their devotional service. Devotees then circumambulate Tulasī-devī and lovingly offer water to her, accompanied by more singing of the mahā-mantra. As I watched the devotees joyfully dancing around her, the tears that were falling from my eyes out of affection for Tulasī-devī became tears of separation from those whom I had lived and served with for three years.
Tulasī-ārati finishes around 5:15am, and then the temple room lights are dimmed and devotees begin to chant their japa. The two little clouds on my face, which had been releasing their rainfall almost non-stop for forty-five minutes, temporarily ceased their activity – at 7am, when the altar curtains were reopened and the Deities revealed once more, the clouds resumed their downpour. Their Lordships are greeted with a special song consisting of prayers spoken by Lord Brahmā, which describes the glorious qualities and unmatched beauty of Kṛṣṇa’s transcendental form.
After greeting the Deities, devotees move towards Śrīla Prabhupāda’s altar on the opposite side of the temple room for guru-pūjā. As I watched them step forward one-by-one to offer flowers to Prabhupāda and pay their obeisances to him, I was overcome by agonising feelings of separation from each and every devotee that I saw on the screen, and tears flowed incessantly from my eyes.