Contenido - Contents
- My meeting with HG Aindra Prabhu…
- A Wish Fulfilled
- Advent of Kali Yuga
- Gaura Govinda Maharaja on “Unconditional Surrender”
- The Tale of Dorothy
Please accept my humble obeicanses, all glories to Srila Prabhupada and His Sankirtan Movement.
I would like to share with you the photos I made of HG Aindra Prabhu.
It was in 1999 when I visited Sri Vrindavan Dhama for the first and only time, 3 years after I joined ISKCON. I was living in Amsterdam-temple as a brahmacari, and my temple president at that time (HG Jagadananda Prabhu) asked me to bring a nice clay Mrdanga for our temple. As I walked around the ISKCON temple in Vrindavan one afternoon, I suddenly saw a different looking devotee.. HG Aindra Prabhu was passing by, and I asked him if he knew the best place to buy a Mrdanga. He was very kind and friendly to me, and told me I will show you, come with me.
As we walked the road towards the village it was beautifull to experiance his complete feeling at home there! He greeted the locals and walked barefoot chanting on his beads.
We stopped about 10 minutes walking from the temple by a small hut next to the main road to Vrindavan-village. The salesman made the Mrdanga’s himself there and Aindra Prabhu bargained very friendly and smoothly with him, tested some Mridangas and explained to me why I should buy this particular one.
Ofcourse he got a great price for it, the salesman seemed to know him well. The Mrdanga was top!
As we walked back he told me about how he made his room in the brahmacari ashram into a hut with cowdung and clay…I was very curious and he invited me to pass by that evening.
I was feeling very happy because for 3 years I had heared his bhajans and kirtans on cd blasting through the temple almost every day! I had always enjoyed his melodies and now here I was walking around with one of ISKCON’s biggest stars!
That early evening I went with my photo camera to his room which was somewhere on the 2nd floor I think in a corner by the brahmacari ashrams of ISKCON Vrindavan. He had a meeting with some of his close associates who supported him in the 24 hour bhajan group.
When I walked to his room I saw a sort of flat building with normal rooms, everywhere brahmacaris talking, chanting, dhoty’s and kurta’s were hanging on washing lines. As I looked inside rooms I saw just normal concrete rooms.
HG Aindra Prabhu’s room was very different! He had his room turned into a temple, it was just amazing! Every spot of concrete was covered by sculptures made with a mix of cowdung and clay. Just how beautifull was the atmosphere in his room, two at least 1 meter sized deties of Lord Caitanya & Lord Nityananda were standing on his altar, there was a big extra altar with his small Srila Prabhupada murti and all The Lords great followers, hundreds of Silas were there! I asked him why he had so many Silas, and he told me, devotees from all over the world come to visit Vrindavan and they bring their Silas when they feel they cant worship Them up to standard anymore..many of them are brought to him and he humbly takes care of the Silas.
He showed me his favorit Sila… he said he found it, and it was clear there was a hoofprint of a cow inside!
With such great devotion he took care of his Deties. Huge offering plates full of fruits were standing on many places for Their Lordships…Krishna was all around in this artisticly made temple room.
As everyone left, HG Aindra Prabhu talked to me for about 1 hour, giving deep inside in the power of chanting The Holy Name and doing Harinam Sankirtan.
He told me how important it was to read Srila Prabhupadas books daily, and to have a strong Sadhana. He was convinced that if we would spread the chanting as much as we can, the atmosphere of the city’s would change and people would understand our books!
I asked him if I could make some pictures and he seemed to like it. Such a kind devotee, I felt very welcome in his place.
These are the pictures I made of HG Aindra Prabhu, his Deties and his room in Vrindavan, which he personally plastered and sculptured with cowdung and clay.
He points out if I see the bee-hive,”did you get it on your picture” he says while I shoot the picture. “I made it myself” he said proudly.
I loved the short association I got from His Grace Aindra Prabhu, I am so thankfull for it and always remembered it as one my highlights of visiting Vrindavan.
A great soul has left the planet, he will be missed but never forgotten because his inspiring Bhajans & Kirtans will be heard daily all over the world in people’s houses, in our ISKCON Temples and on many iPod’s. Listening to his music instantly brings us to Vrindavan.
I have been very fortunate to be allowed to personally experiance walking into the Krishna-Balaram Mandir in Vrindavan, hearing the ecstatic 24 hour bhajan spreading from the temple room…seeing this huge group of devotees going out of their minds from bliss, devotees from all over the world sitting around a group of mad mrdanga players and kartel players..and then in the center this special bhajaneer HG Aindra Prabhu…
y.s. Caitanya Caran Dasa,
By Devakinandan (das) JUHU (Bombay - IN)
Resting on the banks of the River Ganges is “Kanhapur”-the city of Lord Krsna-presently known as Kanpur. Nearby is Bithoor where the Ashrama of Valmiki Muni is located and where Sitadevi, the Goddess of Fortune and wife of Lord Ramacandra, lived when Her husband expelled her from Ayodhya. Lava and Kusha were also born here.
Kanpur city is believed to have been founded by King Hindu Singh. While in the early days of its formation, the city was seen as an insignificant village, it became one of the most important military stations of British India in the early nineteenth century. Since then it has grown in importance and is a major industrial town and educational center in Uttar Pradesh and in North India.
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder-Acharya of ISKCON, acknowledged the spiritual importance of Kanpur and considered it to be the third most important city in India after Mumbai and Calcutta. Before going to the West, Srila Prabhupada had preached actively in Kanpur, staying in various homes. As the guest of the Anandesvar Satsang Mandal, he lectured regularly at the popular Parmat bathing ghata on the Ganges. He especially made acquaintances among industrialists and educators, often sitting and conversing with them for hours, and many were impressed by his dedication and his soft-spoken talks.
Years later, in 1966, in New York City, Srila Prabhupada remembered his acquaintance with Sir Padampat Singhania in Kanpur. Srila Prabhupada was establishing the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in America and he wrote to Sir Padampat Singhania, the director of the very large JK Organization, requesting him for financial support to build a temple of Lord Krsna in New York.
Srila Prabhupada received the following letter from Sir Padampat Singhania.
My dear Swamiji, I have gone through your letter. I am very glad to note your idea of erecting a Shri Radha Krishna temple in New York. I think the proposal is a good one, but the following are the difficulties:
1. We have got to send foreign exchange for building the temple, for which Government sanction is required. Without the Government sanction, no money can be sent abroad. If the Government of India agrees, then one can think of erecting the temple in New York.
2. I doubt whether with this small amount of Rs. 7 lakhs [$110,000.00] a temple can be built in New York. I mean to carry out a nice Construction with Indian type of architecture. To get a temple completed in Indian type of architecture we have to send a man from India. These are the two main difficulties; otherwise, your idea is very good.
In a lecture discussing some verses from the Bhagavad-gita (6.41-45), Srila Prabhupada describes Sir Padampat Singhania to his disciples. He explained that those who have practiced devotional service in their past lives but didn’t complete the process take birth in aristocratic families. “Why? Now, there is the chance of spiritual culture,” said Srila Prabhupada. “Of course, here, in your country, aristocratic family, just like Rockefeller family, or Ford family…. There are many rich families here. I do not know what their activities are, but in India, the aristocratic family, they have got particular spiritual function. Each and every aristocratic family has so many temples, so many temples. And I have already informed you that one of the aristocratic family in India, Sir Padampat Singhania . . . he’s as equal to your Rockefeller family. And I wrote him that “I want to start here one Radha-Krsna temple and I want your help.” He has immediately agreed, “Swamiji, I shall spend for a nice architectural, Indian pattern temple in New York if I get exchange sanction.” You see? So even up till now, Indian aristocratic family, they are so much religiously inclined that immediately on my proposal he’s agreed. He’s agreed, ‘Yes. I shall construct a temple.’
Finally in 1970, Srila Prabhupada came back to India along with his Western disciples. Kanpur was on his mind. He requested his disciples to establish an outstanding ISKCON temple here and hold massive festivals to benefit the people of Kanpur. Srila Prabhupada, himself, expressed his motivation for such a center. “It is for the interest of the entire humanity that I am trying to implement the science of Krsna which will actually make them happy. So it is the duty of every devotee of Lord Krsna to help me by all means.”
Srila Prabhupada requested his disciples to give Rs50 000, a sizeable amount in those days, to build the ISKCON center at Kanpur. But it was almost thirty years later, after he left this planet that his wish was fulfilled. In 2005, Smt. Bina Bhatnagar, mother of the then Commissioner Amita Bhatnagar, visited the ISKCON temple in Boston, USA and was highly impressed with the magnificent Deities and the high standard of temple services. Consequently, she wanted to establish an ISKCON temple in Kanpur. Thus she generously donated five acres of land in Kanpur and requested that the Deities of the temple be named Sri Sri Radha Madhava ji.
After acquiring the land, a team of ISKCON devotees lived in a small kothi in Model town and from there struggled to establish the new temple. They moved to the new land and gradually constructed a temporary structure to host the Deities. Four years later, in 2009, on Vasant Pancami, the doors of a temporary but attractive temple beholding the exquisite Deities of Sri Sri Radha Madhava ji opened to the citizens of Kanpur and India. An Ashrama accommodating about 50 brahmacaries, a guesthouse with 8 rooms and a goshala with 25 cows were also built. But . . . we are still far from reaching our goal. We recently acquired an additional five-acre land and we are looking forward to build a glorious temple for Sri Sri Radha Madhava ji that will cost Rs 50 crore. This temple will be for one and all-jana mandir.
The Kanpur project has set up an advisory committee that is immensely active and supportive. The committee has taken up the responsibility to assist in all ways and build the temple. The world famous architect Sri Premnath, who is based in Mumbai, has designed the temple, and we are at present awaiting the necessary government approval to start the construction. We hope to complete the project within two-and-half years. We are striving hard to provide this devotional facility for for all the devotees and publick in genral.
By Akruranatha das
Gaura Govinda Maharaja on Saranagati, Unconditional Surrender
Saranagati is the chief symptom of a devotee. Saranagati should be complete. The symptoms of it are there. One should have firm faith, drdah visvas, that “avasya raksibe krsna”, Krishna will protect me. If you have no faith, you cannot achieve the goal; asraddhadanah purusah… says the Gita: You’ll have to come back in this mortal world. The Vedic siddhanta is that everything is based on firm faith, sastriya sraddha.
Saranagati, unconditional surrender, is the life of the devotee, through which the most difficult to achieve krsna-prema is obtained, by the mercy of the magnanimous Gauranga.
To be akincana, to have nothing in this world that you call yours, is one symptom of saranagati. Atma-samarpana is the same as saranagati…
Only a fully surrendered devotee sees Krishna; otherwise, He’s covered by yoga-maya.
Those who are fully surrendered are very dear to Krishna.
Krishna has not given prema in His Vraja descent, but as Gauranga he gives it freely. He teaches saranagati: Take full shelter of the holy name, then you’ll get prema, through offenseless chanting…
4 things develop pride and prevent from surrender: janma, aisvarya, sruta, sri. So one must become akincana.
Without surrender Krishna doesn’t listen to your prayers, to your chanting.
You’re not crying for Krishna therefore it’s the proof that you’re not surrendered. Your surrender is artificial, conditional or partial. So cry for Krishna. He may take everything away from you to force you to cry.
He’s giving, but you’re not receiving. Your surrender is only partial.
Accept it in the heart! Don’t say you understand, and accept with your lips but not with your heart! Don’t be pretenders!
What is to be given up is the sentiment that it’s your family, your wife, your children, your wealth. They’re all Krishna’s; they’re all meant to give Him pleasure, not to give you pleasure. You say you are the husband, responsible. No. You are the head of Krishna’s family. It’s His family, entrusted to you. He is responsible. He maintains. You think you’re maintaining, but unless He sanctions, how can you maintain? What can the jiva do without Krishna’s sanction?
A bewildered jiva says, “I do”, but it’s not true. If Krishna doesn’t sanction, what can the jiva do? Krishna gives energy from within, then one can act. That’s His mercy, krpa-bala. Otherwise, one can’t even lift his own hand. The 3 gunas act for the conditioned stage, and Krishna for the liberated stage.
Love is achieved by begging Krishna, crying for it. Bhaktivinoda Thakura, the acarya, is praying, “I’m so attached to this world! Please transfer this attachment to Your lotus feet. I beg You.” This crying, begging, is required. One must get the mercy of a pure devotee to develop that.
Narottama das Thakura’s mood expressed in his bhajan Gaura pahun should be adopted. Kena va achaye prana ki sukha lagiye: Why remain alive? What worth has this human life? Why keep it? For what happiness? Na gela mariye, it’s better to die.
Pray at the lotus feet of a pure devotee to get his mercy to be able to cry like that. Re-channel attraction towards Krishna.
When a devotee starts to develop that mood of Gaura pahun, in Goloka Vraja they make a festival, because it means that this jiva is on his way out of this world to that transcendental world…
By Radhanath Swami
We waited. And waited. It was a sweltering summer day in the Florida panhandle. The morning sun glared through the expansive windows of an airport departure gate. There, a young blond haired lady, neatly uniformed with a blue vest over a pressed white shirt and matching blue pants, stepped up to the counter, timidly surveyed the room, then announced a one hour delay. Passengers sighed, edgy to escape from the heat and travel north. With cellular phones pressed to their ears, they persistently glanced at their wristwatches.
Among them stood a middle-aged woman. She had nicely coiffed reddish-brown hair. Her dress and demeanor hinted that she was a lady of wealth and taste. Suddenly, she flushed red, flung her boarding pass and screamed, “No! You can’t do this to me.” Her outrage jolted the assembly. Everyone stared as she stomped to the counter, stuck her finger in the face of the receptionist and shouted, “I warn you, do not anger me. Put me on that plane, at once!”
The airline hostess cowered. “But ma’am, there’s nothing I can do. The air conditioning system of the plane has broken down.”
The woman’s lips quivered. Her eyes burned and she screeched louder, “Don’t you fight with me, you stupid child. You don’t know who I am. Damn it, do something. Now! I can’t take it.” She ranted on and on.
After finishing her verbal lashing, she fumed and scanned the lounge. Her eyes landed on me sitting alone in a corner of the room in my saffron colored swami robes. She stormed toward me while everyone looked on. Now, standing almost on top of me, her face distorted with anger, she yelled, “Are you a monk?”
Oh God, I thought, why me. I really didn’t need this. After an arduous week of lectures and meetings, I just wanted to be left alone.
“Answer me,” she persisted. “Are you a monk?”
“Something like that,” I whispered. The whole room watched, no doubt delighted that I got to be the lightning rod and not them.
“Then I demand an answer,” she challenged. “Why is my flight late? Why is God doing this to me?”
“Please ma’am,” I said. “Sit down and let us talk about it.” She sat beside me. “My name is Radhanath Swami,” I said. “You can call me Swami. Please tell me what is in your heart?” I have asked this question thousands of times and never know what to expect.
She said her name was Dorothy, that she was a housewife, fifty-seven years old, and lived on the east coast. She had been living happily with her family until…then she started to weep. She pulled tissue after tissue from her purse, blew her nose, and wept some more.
“It was tragic,” she said. “All at once I lost my husband of thirty years and my three children. Now I’m alone. I can’t bear the pain.” She gripped the handle of her chair. “Then I was cheated. The bank put my house into foreclosure and kicked me out on the street. You see this handbag? That’s all that’s left.”
Looking more closely at her face, I noted that beneath the well coiffed exterior her complexion was pale, her eyebrows tense, and her lips slanted down in sadness. Dorothy went on to explain that, if all that sadness were not enough, she had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. She had one month left to live. In a desperate effort to save her life, she had discovered a cancer clinic in Mexico which claimed they might possibly have a cure. But she had to be admitted today. If she missed her connecting flight in Washington, D.C., her chances of survival were finished.
One of my duties is to oversee spiritual services in a hospital in India. I have ministered to victims of terrorist bombs, earthquakes, tsunamis, rape, trauma, disease, poverty and heartbreak of all sorts, but I cannot remember more anguish written on a human face than Dorothy’s. “And now this flight is late,” she said, “and there goes my last chance to live. I tried to be a good wife and mother, I go to church, I give in charity, and I never willfully hurt anyone. But now there is no one in the world who cares if I live or die. Why is God doing this to me?”
Minutes before, I had been cringing at her obnoxious behavior. How easy it is to judge people by external appearances. Understanding what was below the surface flooded my heart with sympathy. When she saw tears welling in my eyes her voice softened.
“It seems maybe you care,” she said.
What could I do? I felt too weak to do anything. Closing my eyes, I prayed to be an instrument to help her. “Dorothy, I do feel for you. You’re a special soul.”
“Special.” she huffed. “I’ve been thrown out like a worthless piece of trash and I’m going to die. But I believe you think I’m special, and I thank you for that.”
“There may not be anything you can do about what has happened,” I said, “but you can choose how you will respond to what has happened. How you react can affect the future.”
“What do you mean?”
“You can lament how cruelly the world has cheated you and spend your days cursing life, making others uncomfortable, and dying a meaningless death. Or you can go deeper inside those experiences and grow spiritually.” I remembered her comment about going to church.
“Doesn’t it say in the Bible, ‘Seek and ye shall find’ and also ‘Knock and the door will open’? Would you rather die in depression or in gratitude? You have that choice.” Her hand trembled and she grasped my forearm.
“I’m so afraid, Swami. I’m so afraid of dying. Please tell me what death is.” Her face had all but wilted. What could I do? I felt so incompetent. If only I had the power to heal her disease. But I didn’t. Still, my years of training in Bhakti had taught me that we all have the power to soothe another person’s heart by accessing the love that is within ourselves. I felt like a surgeon in an operating theater and silently offered a prayer before speaking again.
“In order to understand death,” I said, “we must first understand life. Consider this question: Who are you?”
“My name is Dorothy, I’m American…”
“Dorothy, when you were a baby, before you had been given a name, were you not already a person? If you were to show me a baby picture today, you would say, ‘That’s me.’ But your body has changed. Your mind and intellect and desires have changed. When was the last time you craved your mother’s milk? Everything about you has changed, but yet here you are. You can change your name, your nationality, your religion, and with today’s technology you can even change your sex. So what part of you does not change? Who is the witness of all these changes? That witness is you, the real you.”
“I’m not sure I understand what you are saying,” Dorothy said. “What is the real me?”
“You are the conscious person, the life force, the soul within the body, who is having the experiences of this lifetime. You see through your eyes, you taste with your tongue, smell through your nose, you think with your brain—but who are you, the person receiving all those impressions? That is the soul. The body is like a car and the soul is the driver. We should not neglect the needs of the soul. We eagerly nourish the needs of the body and mind, but if we neglect the needs of the soul we miss out on the real beauty of human life.”
“Go on,” Dorothy said.
“Animals and other non-human species react to situations according to their instincts. Lions don’t decide to become vegetarian on ethical grounds, and cows don’t become carnivores. Essentially, beings other than humans are driven to satisfy their needs of eating, sleeping, mating and defending according to the instincts of their species. A human being is entrusted with a priceless gift, which can be utilized for creating the most profound benefits or the worst disasters. That gift is free will.
“But with the blessing of free will comes a price, namely responsibility. We can choose to be a saint or a criminal or anything in between, and we are responsible for the consequences of those choices.”
“You’re talking about karma,” Dorothy said. I was surprised by her knowledge of the word. “I’ve never really understood that idea,” she said.
I explained that karma is a natural law, like gravity, which acts irrespective of whether we believe in it or not. As ye sow, says the Bible, so shall ye reap. Or as they say back in Chicago where I come from, what goes around comes around. If I cause pain to others, a corresponding pain will come back to me in due course. If I show compassion to others, good fortune will come my way. Dorothy didn’t seem encouraged, and I began to feel like I had taken the conversation in the wrong direction.
“That sounds like a justification for becoming callous and judgmental about suffering,” she said. And she was making a good point. Sadly, I had witnessed within myself as well as in others a tendency to do just that.
“Dorothy,” I said, “the devotional tradition in India teaches that karma and other mysteries are not intended to discourage us into thinking we are helpless victims of a cold and cruel universe. Rather, we should feel encouraged to take responsibility for the choices we make knowing that how we live can make a difference. For myself, I have discovered that spiritual truths lead me to the joys of compassion and devotion, starting first of all with myself. Charity begins at home. Once I can forgive myself for not being perfect, then I can begin to look upon others with similar compassion. Bhakti has taught me that we are all related, in our happiness and our distress.”
“So just what am I supposed to take away from that?” Dorothy asked. “If everything that has happened to me is my fault, my karma, I don’t see how I can avoid drowning myself in guilt.”
Dorothy was emotionally starved and I felt that meeting her was a test of my own spiritual realization. “Instead of drowning yourself in guilt, you have a precious opportunity to bathe in grace. The philosophy of karma is meant to lift us up and encourage us to make the right choices in both joy and suffering. Depression impedes our progress. In whatever situation we find ourselves we have the opportunity to transform how we see that situation. Devotional life doesn’t make every crisis disappear, but it can help us to see crises with new eyes, and often that deeper vision leads to a more content frame of mind. I’ve been practicing that for many years, and I know it has helped me to see the hand of God in all things…”
“Swami, don’t give me any religious dogma. I had enough of that as a kid. In church they taught us that the good go to heaven and the bad go to hell. The last thing I need is more of that. Tell me what is really in your heart.”
She was doing a good job getting me to explain things that can’t be physically seen such as the soul, the law of karma, and reincarnation.
“Tragedies in this life can sometimes be attributed to things done in previous lives. Because the soul is eternal, we carry those consequences from this life to the next.” That really got Dorothy angry.
“It shouldn’t matter what we did in some other life. Why should we believe that God is merciful when we see in this life that good people suffer and wicked people prosper?”
“Years ago,” I said, “an old recluse in the Himalayas shared with me an interesting analogy. It is quite simple but it sheds some light on the subject.” Mentioning that I had spent time in the Himalayas must have captured her fancy because for the first time I noted the trace of a smile on Dorothy’s lips.
“The yogi gave the analogy of a farmer who puts excellent grains into his silo but then adds rotten grains on top. The silo empties out from the bottom, so when the farmer goes to sell his grains the healthy grains come out first and for a while he wallows in prosperity. But with time his prosperity will end and poverty awaits him.
“Then the yogi gave the analogy of another farmer who fills his silo with rotten grains. Eventually he learns to do better and begins pouring only fresh wholesome grains into the silo. He may be presently suffering from his past deposits, but a glorious future awaits him.
“We humans create our own destiny. We are free to make choices. But once we act, we are bound to the karmic consequences of what we have done. You may choose to get on an airplane to Washington, D.C., but once the plane takes off you have no choice about where you’re going to arrive…”
Suddenly, the voice of the airline hostess came through the speakers announcing a further delay of another hour. Dorothy whimpered. I gave her a sympathetic smile.
“Here is that choice again, either to focus on the miseries of our fate or transform how we see our fate. Most of us have a huge mixture of karmic seeds of fate waiting to sprout. But the most important teaching of the Bhagavad Gita is that we are eternal souls, transcendental to all karmic reactions. That’s a very reassuring thing to know. Even in the midst of great distress, people who live with awareness of their eternal nature can be happy. The Bible tells us that the kingdom of God is within. True happiness is an experience of the heart. What is it the heart longs for?”
Dorothy’s sad eyes searched mine. “My heart aches for love,” she said.
“We all do,” I said. “Our need to love and be loved originates in our innate love for God.” I quoted words that Mother Theresa from Calcutta had spoken to me years before. “The greatest problem in this world is not the hunger of the stomach but the hunger of the heart. All over the world both rich and poor suffer. They are lonely, starving for love. Only God’s love can satisfy the hunger of the heart.”
“You’re a Hindu and I’m a Christian,” Dorothy said. “Which God are you talking about?”
I looked out the window at a blazing summer sun. “In America it is called the sun, in Mexico, sol and in India, surya. But is it an American sun or a Mexican sun? The essence of all religions is one, to love God—whatever name we may have for God—and live as an instrument of that love. To transform arrogance into humility, greed into benevolence, envy into gratitude, vengeance into forgiveness, selfishness into servitude, complacency into compassion, doubt into faith, and lust into love. The character of love is universal to all spiritual paths.”
Dorothy really didn’t look like any of this was reaching her.
“Someone told me,” she blurted, “that the reason I’m suffering is that God wants to experience the world’s suffering through me. What kind of a God is that?”
“People have been inventing ideas about God for a long time,” I replied. “In the Bhakti tradition we have three checks and balances for true knowledge of God: guru, sadhu, and shastra. Guru means spiritual teacher. Sadhu means holy people. And shastra means scriptures, wisdom revealed by God. Throughout history different scriptures have been given according to time, place and the nature of the people for whom the teachings were intended. The ritual parts may differ, but the essence of true scriptures is always the same. However, because people tend to invent meanings, followers of Bhakti receive their understanding of scripture from a guru or teacher coming in an authorized succession of teachers. The Bhakti lineage traces its origin back before recorded history, a succession of realized souls who have preserved the original spirit of the teachings throughout the generations. The company of sadhus is important because with people who are also on the path to God we can share our understanding and realizations…”
Dorothy was not convinced. “What do your Bhakti teachers tell you about why God gave us free will when it makes so many people suffer?”
“In order for there to be love,” I said, “there must be free will. You can force people to obey but not to love. Without that freedom there would be little meaning to love. When we choose to turn away from God, we enter the material world and forget our original loving nature. We become covered by a cloud that camouflages the real nature of things.”
“Like a veil?” she asked.
“Yes, like a veil.”
“Well, I think I’m wearing many veils.”
“We all are. The veil is called maya, illusion, in which we forget our true identity and wander birth after birth chasing superficial pleasures. The real substance of happiness is within our own hearts. Please understand, your situation is an opportunity…”
Dorothy moaned. “How is suffering an opportunity?”
“May I tell you the story of a famous lady saint?”
“Her name was Queen Kunti a most pious and devoted lady. She underwent unbearable miseries. Her husband died when she was very young. As a widow she raised five small children. The eldest was meant to inherit the throne when he came of age. Because her children were so popular for their virtue and skills, a rival burned with envy. That wicked man seized the crown and ruled. All of Kunti’s property was usurped and her children were banished. They faced repeated assassination attempts and constant persecution. In the end, her persecutors were brought to justice and her eldest son was enthroned. At that time she prayed to Lord Krishna, ‘In those calamities I had no one to turn to but You. In that condition I had no other shelter but to call your name, and calling out to You meant I was remembering You at every moment. Thank you, my Lord, for my suffering was also the source of my greatest happiness.’
I mentioned the work of a famous doctor, who said that sometimes patients come to him to say that having a heart attack was the best thing that ever happened. How is that? Because it took a crisis to get them to rethink their appreciation for life, their habits, their priorities, and see the blessings that they had always undervalued. That seemed to register with Dorothy.
“Bhakti doesn’t necessarily make our material situation go away,” I said, “but at the very least it gives us something more than our bitterness to focus on. And more important, when we open up to the possibility of some explanation other than cruel fate, we just may find that there is a loving Supreme Being looking out for us. In your present condition, Dorothy, you can turn to God like practically no one else can do.”
She closed her eyes she asked, “In your tradition, do you have a meditation to help us turn to God?”
“There are many forms of meditation,” I told her. “I have been given one that has, since ancient times, been practiced for awakening the dormant love of the soul. May I teach you?”
“This is a mantra. In the Sanskrit language, man means the mind and tra means to liberate. The mind is compared to a mirror. For more births than we can count, we have allowed dust to cover the mirror of the mind—dust in the form endless misconceptions, desires and fears. In that state all we see is the dust, and so that is what we identify with. The chanting of this mantra is a process for cleaning the mirror of the mind and bringing it back to its natural clarity where we can see who we really are, a pure soul, a part of God, eternal, full of knowledge and bliss. As the mind becomes cleaner the divine qualities of the self emerge while ignorance and all of its cohorts fade away. As we approach that state, we can experience the inherent love of God within us. As love of God awakens, unconditional love for every living being manifests spontaneously. We realize that everyone is our sister or brother and a part of our beloved Lord.”
The speaker system crackled and everyone in the room perked up, staring at the airline hostess almost like prisoners would look at a parole board, yearning to be released.
“I’m sorry,” she announced, “but they haven’t yet fixed the air conditioner, and there will be another hour delay.”
Dorothy slapped her forehead, “Swami, teach me the mantra.”
“Please repeat each word after me,” I requested. “Hare… Krishna… Hare… Krishna… Krishna… Krishna… Hare… Hare… Hare… Rama… Hare… Rama… Rama… Rama… Hare… Hare…”
Dorothy shook her head and shooed me with her hand, “I’ll never remember that.”
“Would you like me to write it down for you?”
She reached into her purse and pulled out a slip of paper and a pen. “Yes, but it doesn’t interest me unless I know what it means.”
After writing it, I explained that these were names of the one God. Krishna means the all-attractive, Rama means the reservoir of all pleasure, and Hare is the name of the female, compassionate aspect of God. Dorothy took the paper and immersed herself in chanting the mantra over and over. I borrowed her cellular phone and walked away to call a friend with news of the indefinite delay.
When I returned and sat beside her, Dorothy had closed her eyes. She was leaning back and taking deep breaths. She looked at me and asked, “Where do you live?”
“I travel a lot, but much of my time is spent in Mumbai, India.”
“How many people attend your lectures in Mumbai?”
“On Sundays, maybe two thousand. During pilgrimages it’s closer to four thousand.”
“Where are you going now?”
“To a temple in Hartford, Connecticut. But like you I missed my connecting flight, so I’ll probably miss giving the lecture.”
“Do you go there regularly?”
“I’ve been invited for several years, but this is my first opportunity to visit them.”
“How many people are waiting for you?”
“I think about a hundred.”
Again she took a deep breath. Then, as if purging anguish through her breathing she released the words, “Now I understand.” To my surprise, her lips stretched out across her face into a blissful smile and her eyes twinkled like a child.
“The flight delay was my good fortune,” she said. “I bet thousands of people would give anything to sit with you for even a few minutes. I have you all to myself—and for hours!”
I have to admit, I teared up. “The delay is my good fortune,” I said. “There is nowhere in the world I’d rather be than here with you, right now. You are a special soul.”
Dorothy wiped a tear from her cheek. “Yes, now I understand. This is a blessing of the Lord.” I moved to another seat to give her some private space. Of course, I really needed it, too.
Finally, after six hours of delays, came the announcement everyone was waiting for. The same young lady in the blue uniform announced, “The flight is now ready to board. Anyone who wants is now invited to board.”
“We’ve been waiting six hours,” a passenger yelled out. “Why would anyone not want to get on?”
The flight attendant looked at us sheepishly and said, “In the process of fixing the air conditioner, the toilets stopped working. There will be no toilet facility on this flight. You are requested to use the airport restroom before boarding. Especially please take your children as this is the last chance until we arrive at Dulles airport in Washington, D.C. But the good news is that the air conditioner is working.”
The passengers jumped up and rushed to the restrooms. A mother pulled the hand of her four-year old boy. “Come on Timmy, let’s go to the potty.”
“But mommy, I don’t have to go.”
“You have to go,” the mother corrected. “Come on.” She grabbed the boy’s hand and dragged him to the toilet.
“I don’t have to pee-pee.”
“You’re going anyway….”
It was a fifty-seat commuter jet. The good news was that the plane flew. The bad news was that the toilets were boarded shut, the lighting did not work, and the air conditioner, after all that time, still didn’t work. It was a ninety-five degree day. The plane was hot, muggy, dark, and Timmy decided he really did need to pee-pee and cried the whole trip. By the time we landed, every passenger was miserable.
As we trudged down the steps of the plane and onto the tarmac, there was Dorothy sitting in a wheel chair that she had requested, smiling and waving as everyone rushed by. The passengers were stunned to see one among them who could be so happy. I stopped to say farewell.
“Swami,” she said, “I chanted the mantra nonstop throughout the flight. I can’t remember being that happy in a long time.” She handed me the slip of paper with the mantra. “Will you write a message for me to remember you?” Taking her pen, I wrote of my appreciation for her and a little prayer. She pressed the note to her heart and smiled while tears streamed down her cheeks. Then she said something that I will never forget.
“Now, living or dying,” she said, “is only a detail. I know that God is with me. Thank you.”
I hurried into the terminal and looked up at a monitor. My airlines had one last flight to Hartford. It left in ten minutes from another terminal. There was still a chance. Have you ever seen a swami galloping across the corridors of an airport? One man yelled at me, “Why don’t you use your magic carpet?”
As I was running, it struck me that I had forgotten to take Dorothy’s cell phone number. How would I ever find out what happened to her? To this day I regret my foolishness. I made it just as they were closing the gate. Five seconds more and I would have been too late.
At the cultural center in Hartford, my hosts had adjusted the schedule to accommodate a late start time. I asked if there was a particular topic I should speak on.
“Anything you like,” was the reply.
“Tonight’s lecture,” I announced, “is called ‘Why I am so late for the lecture.’”
TABLA - FUENTES - FONTS
- inbenr11.ttf - 64 KB
- inbeno11.ttf - 12 KB
- inbeni11.ttf - 12 KB
- inbenb11.ttf - 66 KB
- indevr20.ttf - 53 KB
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