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Sergey, smiling, was watching how Milita, whispering something tenderly and stroking leaves and branches, was walking among the trees and picking flowers into a small weaved basket.
Having sensed Sergey's presence, she looked up and affably waved, "Come help me!"
Sergey took the basked that was almost full.
"The trees broke all the records this year. They never had that many flowers!" Milita was beaming.
Milita put several parijata flowers in the basket and tenderly stroked the tree branches.
"Thank you, Jagannatha. Nimai and Nitai love it very much when Their altar is decorated with flowers." And addressing Sergey, "the soil here isn't so good. When we moved here, there were almost no flowers on the trees. But we have Deities. And They love flowers. So I came to the trees and asked them to serve Jagannatha, Nimai, and Nitai. Since then, we have plenty of flowers every day! Even when they are not in season. Sometimes I regret that I can't fly. Can you please get those flowers from up there?"
Milita pointed to the top of the champaka tree. Sergey jumped and hung in the air until he picked all the flowers.
"Krishna likes champaka so much. The smell is amazing. The tree was trying so hard for the festival, and I couldn't reach."
"At what time are we going?" Sergey handed the basked to Milita.
"At about eleven."
"Will Amit and Bubu go with us?"
"Why not? They really wanted to go."
"The Bhattacharyas follow Vedic instructions very strictly. They don't let meat eaters in their house. Vasudeva even met with the minister of the state out in the garden house."
"How will Vasudeva know that they are meat eaters?"
"You must be joking," Milita gave Sergey a surprised look. "He is a true brahmana. Vasudeva sees it on the face also. And he sees the karma. He says their karma pretty bad."
Sergey pondered, "What about me? I only recently stopped eating meat."
"But you chant the Holy Names."
"But I haven't been doing it that long."
"You must be joking again," Milita gave Sergey another surprised look. She paused and then spoke again. "King Janaka was a stepfather to Sita, Lord Ramachandra's wife. There are twelve super-competent servants of the Lord. They are called the Mahajanas. Janaka is one of them. After death, Janaka wanted to go to the spiritual world. But his leftover good karma wasn't letting him. To use it up quicker, he decided to travel around the Universe. A spaceship was built. On that ship, Janaka visited heavenly planets. Also planets like ours. Also paradise planets below the Earth. And finally, Pitriloka — the planet of ancestors. Yamaraja is the ruler of that planet. It's a short distance from Pitriloka to hellish planets. So Janaka first visited Yamaraj, and then together they went to the hellish planets.
"Having seen the sufferings of sinners, Janaka was shaken, 'Dear Yamaraja, please free these poor souls and allow me to suffer for their sins.' — 'O, King! There is no need for it,' the god of death replied,' if you want to help them... You can. Once upon a time, getting up from your throne, you pronounced the Lord's name Rama very sincerely. The effect of it is enough to free them all.' Janaka gave the results of speaking the name of Rama to them, and Yamaraja set free all the sinners that were in hell. Do you know what I mean? To free all of hell! Of course, the quality of Janaka's speaking the Holy Name isn't comparable to ours. But you have a calm mind. And it's entirely possible that you may have already neutralized the sin of meat eating with chanting the Holy Names."
At about eleven, a moto-rickshaw arrived at the house. First, they loaded a gas stove, a gas tank and then got on themselves. Sergey was holding the basket with flowers, Milita — a bag with Deity outfits and presents and Madhva — a box with the Deities. The moto rickshaw cheerfully fuffed, got on the main road and carefully rode, avoiding puddles filled with multicolored stains of gasoline.
Gopinatha, Rasapriya, and Nimai were already at the Bhattacharyas'. Their house resembled a buzzing beehive. Everyone was rushing somewhere and doing something. Finally, Vasudeva gathered everyone in the living room to finalize the details of the festival. First, everyone was to participate in cleaning the house. Then, Vasudeva was to do an arati and sanctify the kitchen and the cookware. At three in the afternoon, they were to begin cooking the feast for Krishna of one hundred and eight dishes. Then a concert and a play. Arati at midnight, followed by prasad.
Everyone knew their task, so the work began. The house floor was swept and washed with aromatic sandalwood water. Flower garlands and light garlands were hung. An hour later, the house became a fragrant flower garden. Vasudeva, along with his wife, went around all the rooms and was very pleased. Dressed in a festive silk dhoti, Vasudeva did an arati for the Deities. Deities of Madhva and Gopinatha joined the Deities of Vasudeva. There wasn't much space left on the flower-adorned altar.
Then Vasudeva went to the kitchen, sanctified it along with the cookware that was lined up in one row. On every pot and pan, he drew an auspicious line of liquid turmeric and placed a red dot from the arati. Work began in the kitchen. Since there wasn't enough space in the kitchen to cook one hundred and eight dishes, several stoves were taken out to the garden. The house became somewhat quiet. Only spiritual music was playing softly where feast preparations were taking place.