Chiksoli is a remote village thirty kilometers from Vrindavan–externally a sprawling mass of poverty, but internally a treasure-house of pure devotion. It is the birth place of Chitra Sakhi, one of the eight confidential associates of the divine couple Radha-Krishna. In November 2008, during a pilgrimage to Vrindavan, I was at this place with Radhanath Swami.
Back in 1971, Radhanath Swami had first visited these holy villages surrounding Vrindavan during his spiritual quest. Though he was a sincere spiritualist even then, he was unknown to most of the world. But now in 2008, he was a world renowned spiritualist with thousands of followers.
One day at Chiksoli Radhanath Swami visited a mediocre family he knew since 1971, for lunch. I accompanied him. In the kitchen an old lady squatted on the floor besides the choola, traditional stove that’s fueled by firewood. She rolled dough, as a pan heated up on the fire. Meanwhile, Radhanath Swami after receiving a warm welcome freshened up with a bath and a change of clothes. He then sat cross-legged on the kitchen’s mud floor and thali, lunch plate, was served out before him. Vraj Rotis, hot and fluffy, after baking on the pan, landed on Radhanath Swami’s plate, one after another. Radhanath Swami consumed them with a gusto I had never witnessed before, though I have accompanied him for lunch at several palatial bungalows of down-town Mumbai.
Baking a roti on the pan the lady spoke, as if thinking aloud, “Aap bilkul badle nahi.”(You haven’t changed at all.) She went on to explain how Radhanath Swami was still as simple as he was in 1971. But for me, who hadn’t seen him here in 1971, Radhanath Swami seemed—through this entire visit—an overgrown child who had returned home.
Recently, on 16 December 2010, someone brought rotis from Vrindavan to Mumbai, for Radhanath Swami. Though it reached his lunch table after two days, Radhanath Swami remarked, “The rotis are the best. Every other preparation is a distraction.” Again, I sensed that his heart is always at his home, in simple Vrindavan.