Rome, Italy

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Rg-VedaṚg Veda
Rtvik-DefeatedṚtvik Defeated!

by Swami B.G. Narasingha

'Rome, Italy' was a short article that Swami B.G. Narasingha Maharaja wrote for his blog (narasingha.net) on May 30th 2011. Swami Narasingha describes his visit to 'the eternal city' as well as Śrīla Prabhupāda's visit, and also his meeting with Śrīpāda Bhakti Mādhurya Vana Mahārāja.

Modern western civilization and culture is distinctly Roman and nothing makes this more apparent than a visit to Rome. Having spent a lot of my time in Washington DC, the capitol of the United States of America, and then having seen Rome — it is amazing how similar the two are in terms of architecture. But other than the architecture, modern Italy is more American now than it is Roman. Everyone wears blue jeans and McDonald’s junk food outlets are everywhere. The pizza went to America and the junk food went to Italy. Oh well…what goes around comes around.

In the 1970s Śrīla Prabhupāda went to Rome and one of the photos taken of him at that time shows him standing on a side walk with the Colosseum in the background. There are several old pillars standing nearby in that photo. I took the trouble to locate the exact place where Prabhupāda was standing and took a similar photo but from a slightly different angle. Also what was previously stone or cement where he was standing in now grass. In the original photo Prabhupāda is actually standing inside the vicinity of the ruins of the once massive Temple of Venus. In the photo Prabhupāda is looking toward what was once the main altar (Venus, the Bringer of Good Fortune). Believed to have been the largest temple in the Roman Empire.

Rome has lots of ancient ruins and I took advantage of that for taking some photos. It never ceases to amaze me how 2000 plus years ago such fine buildings were constructed of solid stone without the help of modern machinery. But time marches on and not even the best Roman architecture lasts forever.

And yes, I did visit the Vatican City (a country unto itself). Lots of impressive art and sculpture there but not much knowledge or real spirituality. Mostly just superstition and lots and lots of money. Saw many people touching the feet of the statue of Saint Peter and worshiping the bodies of dead Popes, as well as drinking the blood of Jesus and eating his flesh, etc. The Vatican had good, clean public toilets (surprisingly India style) and a good security system and a classically dressed Swiss guard. Otherwise, the 2000-year-old religion is as I said, mostly superstition mixed with numerous beliefs and practices common among Asuras. Interesting to see but if this was my only choice for religion, then I would prefer being an atheist.

A dear friend lives a few hours outside Rome on a beautiful little olive estate. His name is Bhakti Mādhurya Vana Mahārāja. We spent the afternoon with Vana Mahārāja and his disciples. We talked many things and they fed us up to the neck with wonderful kṛṣṇa-prasādam and then sent us off with several bottles of homemade olive oil. We would have loved to have stayed longer with Vana Mahārāja (he is such a saintly person) but we had one more layover to make before returning to India.

Next stop Istanbul, Turkey.

Rg-VedaṚg Veda
Rtvik-DefeatedṚtvik Defeated!

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