The rising sun god stole a glimpse, through the stained glass windows, into the temple interior, where Radhanath Swami sat meditating. Then he proceeded upwards along his orbit. Perhaps he too, like many of us, ached to see Radhanath Swami in our ISKCON Nasik temple. Radhanath Swami had been promising to grace us with his presence, but his busy schedule had never allowed him to, for years. . Now, finally in his presence, we felt blessed.
After his japa, mantra meditation, I took Radhanath Swami around the temple; inspired by him I had taken charge of this temple and had recently renovated it. He observed everything keenly, as he always does, and with an air of appreciation. He especially seemed to like the fountain in front of the altar. Excited, I chimed in, “Apart from the fishes, there are two turtles in there.” Radhanath Swami peered into the pool of water at the base of the fountain, “Live turtles?”
“Yes, live turtles.”
“But turtles are not like fishes.” Worry washed across Radhanath Swami’s face, “They are not supposed to be in water all the time. How will they survive without a place to rest?”
“They do rest on the water pipelines that are laid for the fountain,” I tried to assure him.
“It will be nice if you could make a small island in that pool. Then the turtles can rest comfortably. They are now the Lord’s associates and have to be properly taken care of,” Radhanath Swami swung his hands towards the deities on the altar, accentuating his point. He went on to ask questions about what we fed them, whether they liked the food etc. It was as if his every other major project around the world lay eclipsed behind this newly found one: the happy-turtle-project.
During his one day stay, he brought forth the issue of the turtles atleast ten times. Towards the end, he summarized what he felt of his visit, “Everything about the temple is impeccable and exquisite, and I am highly impressed. But the only thing pinching my heart is the discomfort that the turtles have to undergo in that pool.” And just before his departure to Mumbai, he told me, “Remember what I told about what should be done for the turtles? Do let me know when you have done something for them.”
I got an island made for the turtles in the next 24 hours and sent a message to Radhanath Swami through his secretary: Because of your concern and love for them, the turtles are peacefully sitting in their new haven. When I look at them, they seem to be thanking you from the core of their little hearts for making this arrangement for them.
–Sikshashtakam Das. Temple President, ISKCON Nasik.