Yesterday, 25th May, turned out to be a day when I realised the power of prayer by devotees.
I was suffering from a bad throat since last 2 days and 24th evening was worst. When I woke up around 6am on 25th morning I felt terrible. I could not speak and even the simple task of getting up from the bed proved to a big effort. I felt very hungry and extremely thirsty. I drank some warm water, then I somehow remembered that Atma Prabhu had told me to take Neem capsules regularly, which I stopped some time back, so I took one capsule as well. I checked my temperature it was 101.3F. As it was Dwadashi so I waited for 6.50am and then I had some hot ginger lemon water with honey. I started coughing continuously and had green colour phelgm, confirming that I had an infection.
The hot concoction I drank gave me some relief and I slowly started chanting my rounds. But after less than an hour I felt too tired and stopped my chanting. I watched Mayapur.tv for some time and listened to HG Madhav Prabhu singing soulfully at a retreat. I also took crocin and later had my breakfast. I felt cold and had to take a quilt in the hot summer weather. I checked the fever again it was almost 102F now and my cheeks seem to be oozing heat. It was almost 9.45am. My wife was pushing me since yesterday to see a doctor and get antibiotics but today being a Sunday all the doctors were closed. I myself didn’t have any energy or a will to see the doctor. I took my bath.
In the meantime I got a call from HG Shyam Sundar Prabhu, who broke the sad news that HG Advaita Hari Prabhu left his body in Kolkata few days back. I had the good fortune to meet Prabhuji twice and I clearly remember his sweet and affectionate long talks. He was always most helpful to everyone in Mayapur. He was disciple of HH Jayapataka Swami, serving as chief finance officer and deputy director of Mayapur. He was currently involved in corporate preaching in nearby regions of Mayapur and Kolkata. Shyam Sundar prabhu narrated me how Prabhuji took such good care of HH Janananda Maharaj that maharaj declared that he will now come more often to Mayapur only because of Sri Advait Hari Prabhu. Shyam Sundar Prabhuji also made a very good statement that unlike `karmis’ when devotees leave this world what we miss most is their association. I pray to Lord Sri Krishna that He may give HG Advaita Hari prabhu a service in His eternal abode.
HG Advaita Hari Prabhuji
As we spoke for some time, Shyam Sundar Prabhu found out from my constant coughing that I was not very well. After the call was over I received a message on the Bhagavad Gita whatsapp group, which we run, and when I opened it, to my embarrassment, I found that due to a strong brotherly affection Prabhuji had posted a message to the group that I am not well and devotees should pray for me. I immediately messaged him back and requested him not to post such messages for me and that too for a simple cough and fever. I then added, for some effect, that if he really wants to pray for me then he should pray for my spiritual life that I should get attached to the holy name. Prabhuji’s reply stumped me as he spoke `Prabhuji I am praying for your material body so that you can serve the devotees and preach !‘
After this posting I received messages from some devotees and I told all of them that I am fine and just a little under the weather. By this time it was past 11am, I felt very tired and dozed off again.
I woke up around 3.30pm and felt a little different. It took me a few seconds to realise that I actually feel much better. In fact I felt as if I was almost recovered. I ate my lunch. I seem to have regained most of my energy, there was minimal cough- phelgm was now whitish and no tiredness at all. I was most surprised at this sudden transformation. I, then, remembered the message Prabhuji had posted on the whatsapp group and I realised that some merciful devotee(s) prayed for me and their prayers did the work instantly, it was like magic. I had my energy back, I played with my kids for some time and then called up Shyam Sundar Prabhu and shared with him this unique experience. He too was very surprised and happy to hear it. I thanked all the devotees mentally and in my state of happiness forgot to even thank Shyam Sundar prabhu as I knew that he would have been the first one to pray for me. Thank you so much to all the devotees.
What are my realisations –
1. Well, first of all, I must ensure that I serve all the devotees, specially the senior ones, to the best of my ability and regularly take the benefit of their association, life is too short and unpredictable to wait or to be lazy.
2. I would never underestimate the power of prayers by devotees.
3. I regularly receive messages, mails and requests for praying for a devotee or a devotee’s relative who is not well. If such requests are one to one then I make it a point to chant an extra round or pray to Srila Prabhupada for him/her. But many a times when it is a forwarded mail or a mail copied to many devotees then I skip it as well, there are many excuses which my lousy mind makes up. So I promised myself that from today onwards whenever I will receive such a request I will make sure that I pray for that devotee, I will never skip it.
3. And lastly, I realised that the real purpose of reading all the scriptures, and gaining knowledge, is to convince my own self that I should feel attached to Krishna and His devotees.
Regarding your questions are the Spiritual Master and the Grand Spiritual Master consciously aware of the prayers of a sincere devotee who prays in love to Them?—the answer is that no conscious prayers go in vain. They are transmitted positively. (By Srila Prabhupada, Letter to Mahananda, Los Angeles, 1970)
Thank you respected devotees for showing me the right way and improving my consciousness to always pray for others. I will not forget it.
priyayai keshavasya cha
satyavatyai namo namaha
I offer my repeated obeisances unto Vrnda, Srimati Tulasi Devi, who is very dear to Lord Kesava. O goddess, you bestow devotional service to Lord Krsna and possess the highest truth.
This is in continuation to my last blog where I mentioned how a broken branch of Tulasi got planted again by her sheer mercy. I wanted to share more on how merciful is Tulasi Maharani and that her causeless mercy has no end.
I came back from my trip on 19th night and the first I did on 20th morning was to take her darshan. I was most amazed and delighted to see that not only has she grown but she has called her friends as well ! There were atleast 10-12 Tulasi plants which manifested in last 4-5 days. To be honest I did put dry manjaris in this planter since last 4-5 months, as this particular planter was lying vacant, but nothing would grow. My wife continuously told me that I am wasting my time as we need to change the complete soil but I won’t listen. And now since we have started proper Arti of Tulasi Devi it is amazing to see suddenly so many Tulasi plants coming out, most amazing. Please see the below picture I clicked today.
All glories to Tulasi maharani.
After my last blog, a close devotee friend wrote back that my continuous blogs on Tulasi Maharani are nice but some people may take them as a kind of self-glorification for my own `sadhna’. I never thought like that but I saw the point prabhuji made. He suggested that I should put some time gap between these blogs or share them only with some selected devotees over mail as I have already made my point earlier. I thanked prabhuji, it is a blessing to have devotee friends who can write back with such candidness. I replied that Tulasi Maharani reciprocated and I simply wrote ! I am sharing my realisations on this blog so that devotees can see that even a fallen and materialistic soul can get her mercy and further, we can all have realisations every week, every day and every minute by the sheer mercy of Vaishnavas. The power is not in my `sadhna’ the power lies in Tulasi Maharani’s causeless mercy, just see how easily, by worshiping her simply with flower, lamp, water and firm faith, she reciprocates in such fascinating ways. We only need to be `tuned in’ to see such benedictions in our daily lives.
Another devotee friend called up some time back and shared that he too had a similar experience with Tulasi Maharani and he was so happy to read what I wrote. My only sincere request to everyone is that please share such realisation with us. Sri Krishna Hari Prabhu told us in a lecture in Gurgaon last year that writing is a way to improve our `sadhna’ as it requires 100% concentration. I, too, have realised that by writing, at first we collect our thoughts and our own conviction increases and secondly whenever we read other devotee’s realisations our faith increases in the process of Krishna consciousness. We understand that this is a scientific process and we are on the right path. If any devotee would like to share his/her realisation I can open a login and password on these pages, please write back to your servant at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now, for the pleasure of Tulasi Maharani, and her devotees, I am copying below some more glorification
Asta-Nama-Stava from the Padma Purana(The Eight Names of Vrinda-devi)
Vrindavani– One who first manifested in Vrindavan.
Vrinda– The goddess of all plant and trees.
Vishvapujita– One whom the whole universe worships.
Pushpasara-The topmost of all flowers, without whom Krishna does not like to look upon other flowers.
Nandini– Seeing whom gives unlimited bliss to the devotees.
Krishna-Jivani– The life of Sri Krishna.
Vishva-Pavani– One who purifies the three worlds.
Tulasi– One who has no comparison.
Anyone while worshiping Tulasi-devi chants these eight names will get the same results as one who performs the Ashvamedha sacrifice. And one who on the full-moon day of Kartika (Tulasi-devi’s appearance day) worships Her with Tulasi Mantra will break free from the bonds of this miserable world of birth and death, and very quickly attains Goloka Vrndavan.
“Tulasi is auspicious in all respects. Simply by seeing, simply by touching, simply by remembering, simply by praying to, simply by bowing before, simply by hearing about, or simply by sowing the tree, there is always auspiciousness. Anyone who comes in touch with the Tulasi tree in the above mentioned ways lives eternally in the Vaikuntha [spiritual] world.” Skanda Purana
As the embodiment of the lila-sakti (pastime potency), Vrinda devi is the organizer of all the transcendental pastimes between Sri Krishna and Srimati Radharani. In Goloka every thing is animate (cit) and only for the pleasure of Sri Krishna. Vrinda devi makes this happen. She is assisted by many confidential associates (which include two parrots) and with their help she makes sure that every thing is pleasing to Sri Krishna. She controls how the wind blows, when and where it rains, how the trees bend, and so many other things for the pleasure of the Divine Couple.
Once Srimati Radharani was so pleased by the service of Vrinda devi that with the help of the other gopis she arranged a magnificent throne and had Krishna and Vrinda devi sit on it. Lalita sakhi acting as the priest recited the mantras and performed the marriage cermony of Krishna and Vrinda devi. Thus by the mercy of Srimati Radharani, Vrinda devi got Krishna.
In another pastime, Vrinda devi offered all the forests of Vrindavana to Srimati Radharani. Thus Radharani is also known as Vrindavaneshwari or the queen of Vrindavana.
Please read more about Tulasi Devi at http://www.vrindavan-dham.com/vrinda/vrinda-devi.php
My reciprocation with Tulasi Maharani continues unabated and I beg and pray to her to please continue the same on this shudra.
Almost 10 days back I saw that one of the branches of the Tulasi was almost broken. My heart broke to see one of her branch hanging lose. I thought quickly and then went inside, spoke to my wife about the problem and my suggestion. She agreed with my idea with a little smile on her face. I brought a strong thread and wrapped around the semi broken branch, like a tight bandage. I prayed her to get well. My second reaction was the thought to call the maid and scold her strongly. The chances of the maid damaging the branch were high as I thought she must have been careless while cleaning the balcony area where all Tulasi plants reside. Somehow I drank my anger and told my wife to tell the maid to be very careful cleaning the area around Tulasi as her branches are very delicate.
Every morning and evening I would take a look at my make shift bandage but the bandage could not hold, it would become lose every other day. I knew what was coming and was quite sad, twice a day I was mending the bandage but with little effect on her. The branch was still somewhat green but the leaves started looking pale and dry. After few days I came to the conclusion that this branch could not be saved and it pained me seeing her with a branch hanging lose. Finally one morning I separated this injured branch from the stem. I took some leaves for offering to Lord and then, I don’t know what came to my mind, I planted the broken branch in of the empty pots, which was lying empty since many months.
My earlier attempts, in the past, to plant a broken branch of Tulasi have not been successful. Still, I went ahead and planted the broken branch, offered her lots of water and then prayed to her to please stay there and remain healthy and do not leave us like this. I also said sorry on behalf of myself and my maid. I continue to water her for next 2-3 days. She didn’t change, she didn’t turn green but didn’t get worse as well. This gave me hope.
One morning while I was chanting my rounds in the same balcony, I looked at her and prayed her to stay, as her leaves looked paler today. Suddenly, while sitting in front of her, I felt as if Tulasi Maharani is talking to me in my heart. She said that she might just decide to accept my prayer if I worship her everyday. Surprised at her statement, I replied that I do worship her everyday and also offer water. She replied yes, but that is just prayer there is no `archana’ (worship). More surprised, I asked what would make her happy ? She replied that if I were to offer her flower and lamp every day then she may just decide to stay. She also added that this particular planter has a specific space for offering her lamp and which I almost never used. Feeling extremely grateful for this conversation, or realisation or my mind playing games with me or whatever one may call it, I answered, surprising my own self, that if she would be pleased with my offering of lamp and flower then I will offer them everyday irrespective of whether she decides to stay or leave. I felt a smile from her and she was gone, no communication.
I kept my word and started offering her a fresh flower and lamp before offering my daily prayers every morning. She remained okay, not improving not deteriorating. My hope increased on the third day as her leaves looked a little more fresh and healthy. I had to leave for a trip outside Delhi on 9th May and this is her picture which I took on 8th May.
I was overjoyed in my heart but kept my feelings under a lid and thanked her profusely. I shared the unique conversation I had with Tulasi Maharani with my wife and requested her to continue worshiping her daily with flower and lamp while I am away and this is the picture she sent me today morning from her mobile
Tulasi Maharani has decided to stay. Hari Bol ! Hari Bol ! Hari Bol !
All glories to Tulasi Maharani.
It has been an amazing reciprocation by Tulasi Maharani. As a low caste shudra, both by birth and by action, I never had the `adhikar’ (the right) within me to receive any such mercy from Tulasi Maharani. Some merciful Vaishanava has blessed me and this amazing relationship with Tulasi Maharani has begun in my devotional life. I pray to Vaishanava if they could also bless me that I can serve them till the last breath of my low life. I also pray and beg that I get some inspiration from such causeless mercy of Vaishanavas as well as Tulasi Maharani and my dry heart gets soft and compassionate towards everyone.
I am quoting some lectures where Srila Prabhupada glorified Tulasi Maharani.
IDENTITY OF A PET DOG
Prabhupada: Somebody asked me,”Swamijl, why are these Tulasl beads on your neck or on your devotee’s neck? “So I replied,”Just as a pet dog has got a collar, similarly we are pet dogs of God. So we have got this collar. And Yamaraja,the Lord of Death will understand that he, the devotee, is God’s dog; he should not be shot down.” (December 19,1970, Srimad Bhagavatam Class,Surat)
REAL UNDERSTANDING OF TULASI
Devotee: How is it possible that Tulasi Devi is a pure devotee,what we might call a plant?
Prabhupada: That you cannot know in your impure state. You just become pure. You will understand … When you become a devotee, you will understand what kind of devotee Tulasi is. So long as you are not a devotee, you cannot understand. Don’t expect to. Therefore we have to accept the authority. That is the beginning. The shastra says,”Tulasi is the greatest devotee of Krsna.” We have to accept, that’s all. Authority. How she is so great a devotee, that you will understand when you become a devotee. You come to that platform; then you will understand,not before. Now chant.
… Service to the Vaisnava, tulasi, Ganges and Yamuna:are included in pada-sevanam. All these processes of pada-sevanam help one advance in spiritual life very quickly . .. .In the same Skanda-Purana, reva-khanda, it is said that one who recites prayers to Tulasi or sows a Tulasi seed is also freed from all offenses. Similarly,one who worships the salagrama-sila can also be relieved of offenses.(Canto 7,Chapter 5,Texts 23-24 Purport)
ETERNAL CONSORT OF KRSNA
Yes, Srimati Tulasi is the eternal consort of Krsna and the most pure devotee, and therefore the Tulasi plant is worshiped by Vaisnavas.
(Letter dated March 26,1968,from San Francisco,to Balai Oils,New York)
I was talking to a devotee the other day and he shared a recent realisation of one of his married friend. He narrated how in last few weeks his friend started looking at a particular girl in his office. Knowing it is wrong, his friend tried his best to control his senses but he would lose all self-control when this girl would pass by. His friend shared this problem with his wife and in spite of all his efforts he failed to control himself. Soon afterwards, he had the good fortune to visit Dham after a long time. There he prayed sincerely to Lord to please help him with this particular problem. Prabhuji joined back his office after his trip and Lo and behold ! his eyes would no longer run after this girl. The problem got solved like magic ! At one level this incident teaches us many positives
1. We should always accept out problem, share it with a close friend, in this case he shared with his wife.
2. Pray to The Lord for help.
3. Lord reciprocates most mercifully with His devotees.
After my friend left, I remembered the story of an old woman who was coming back from the forest after collecting dry woods. The old woman was very tired and somehow the bundle of dry woods, she was carrying on her head, fell down. The bundle was heavy, she tried hard but could not lift it. It was getting dark, and feeling helpless, she prayed to the Lord `God, please help me.’ Lord manifested and asked her what does she want. She replied that she is very tired and needs help in lifting the bundle of woods on her head. Lord obliged and helped her carry the bundle back on her head and left.
The moral from the above stories for me, as a devotee, is that I should be careful for what I pray to Krishna.
One consideration could be that whatever helps us stay closer to Krishna is good for us to pray. Second consideration could be that if we don’t ask our own father (Lord) to help then who else do we pray to?
My point is that, as a devotees, should we not a bit more careful as to what do we pray to Krishna ? As practicing sadhakas should we trouble Lord with our material problems or can I pray to Krishna to please
1. give me an opportunity to serve His devotees.
2. give me faith in Srila Prabhupada’s words.
3. help me chant once with purity, shudha Nama.
4. to give me Your bhakti, Your love.
5. let me participate in Mahāprabhu’s sankirtan movement
5. bless me that I never forget You …….. ( it could be a long list)
Won’t all our material desires, and problems and irritants, would simply evaporate if we get any of the above, even a miniscule portion will take us far higher in our spiritual journey.
Srila Prabhupada once spoke
So a devotee is not very much anxious for mukti because a devotee is always mukta. He is already mukta. Why should he… Suppose if you have got millions of dollars, why should you hanker after ten rupees? So bhakti is such a nice thing. But what is that bhakti? That bhakti is animitta bhagavati. That bhakti should be animitta, not with a motive that “I shall go to the temple and serve Krsna for this purpose.” Krsna can fulfill any purpose you desire. It is not very difficult for Him, because He is almighty, full with all opulences. So if you want something, material happiness, from Krsna, it is not very difficult for Krsna. He can give you mukti even. But to ask from Krsna anything else than bhakti is foolishness. That is foolishness. My Guru Maharaja used to give this example: just like if you go to a rich man and he says, “Now whatever you like, you can ask from me. I shall give you,” then if you ask him that “You give me a pinch of ash,” is that very intelligent? ( lecture, SB 3.25.32 Bombay, December 2, 1974).
I am copying a prayer by Srila Narottama dasa Thakura to take inspiration from our paramapara on what to pray
hari hari, kabe mora haibe sudina,
bhajiba shri radha-krishna haiya premadhina
(O Shri Hari, when will that auspicious day be mine? Filled with prema, when will I worship Shri Radha-Krisna?)
suyantremishaiya ga’ba sumadhura tana
anande koriba duhara rupa-guna-gana
(As the sounds of the divine instruments mix and create the sweetest melodies, I will blissfully sing songs about Their forms and qualities.)
‘radhika-govinda’ bali’ kandibo uccaih-svare
bhijibe sakala anga nayanera nire
(While singing “Radhika-Govinda,” I will weep loudly and my whole body will become soaked by the tears falling from my eyes.)
ei-bara karuna kara rupa-sanatana
raghunatha dasa mora shri jiva-jivana
(Be merciful now, Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami! O my Raghunatha dasa Gosvami! My life-giving Shri Jiva Gosvami!)
ei-bara karuna kara lalita vishakha
(Be merciful now, O Lalita and Vishakha! O Shridama, Subala and all other friends in sakhya-bhava!)
sabe mili’ kara daya puruka mora asha
prarthana karaye sada narottama dasa
(Being merciful, all of you together, kindly fulfill my deepest desires! Narottama dasa is forever praying in this way.)
A: Mahāprabhu explains to Sri Sanatan Goswami in Caitanya Caritāmṛta
CC Madhya 22.99: “There are two kinds of devotees — those who are fully satiated and free from all material desires and those who are fully surrendered to the lotus feet of the Lord. Their qualities are one and the same, but those who are fully surrendered to Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet are qualified with another transcendental quality — ātma-samarpaṇa, full surrender without reservation.
Q: What are the six qualities of a devotee who is fully surrendered to the Lord ?
Ans: Mahāprabhu continues
CC Madhya 22.100: “‘The six divisions of surrender are the acceptance of those things favorable to devotional service, the rejection of unfavorable things, the conviction that Kṛṣṇa will give protection, the acceptance of the Lord as one’s guardian or master, full self-surrender, and humility.
Srila Prabhupada beautifully expands these qualities in his purport with a very intelligent definition of renunciation in point no. 2.
1) The devotee has to accept everything that is favorable for the rendering of transcendental loving service to the Lord.
(2) He must reject everything unfavorable to the Lord’s service. This is also called renunciation.
(3) A devotee must be firmly convinced that Kṛṣṇa will give him protection. No one else can actually give one protection, and being firmly convinced of this is called faith. This kind of faith is different from the faith of an impersonalist who wants to merge into the Brahman effulgence in order to benefit by cessation of repeated birth and death. A devotee wants to remain always in the Lord’s service. In this way, Kṛṣṇa is merciful to His devotee and gives him all protection from the dangers found on the path of devotional service.
(4) The devotee should accept Kṛṣṇa as his supreme maintainer and master. He should not think that he is being protected by a demigod. He should depend only on Kṛṣṇa, considering Him the only protector. The devotee must be firmly convinced that within the three worlds he has no protector or maintainer other than Kṛṣṇa.
(5) Self-surrender means remembering that one’s activities and desires are not independent. The devotee is completely dependent on Kṛṣṇa, and he acts and thinks as Kṛṣṇa desires.
(6) The devotee is meek and humble.
Q: What is the result of surrendering fully to Krishna ?
A: Mahāprabhu gives his benediction and then quotes a verse from Udhava Gita.
CC Madhya 22.102: “When a devotee thus fully surrenders unto Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet, Kṛṣṇa accepts him as one of His confidential associates.
CC Madhya 22.103: “‘The living entity who is subjected to birth and death attains immortality when he gives up all material activities, dedicates his life to the execution of My order, and acts according to My directions. In this way he becomes fit to enjoy the spiritual bliss derived from exchanging loving mellows with Me.’ (SB 11.29.34)
I felt a lot better just by writing my last blog, crying to the Lord. I saw two clear answers for my agitated heart.
1. Beg for a service which is inconvenient for me at the local temple.
2. Beg to the Srila Prabhupada at his samadhi at Vrindavana to show me the way.
Next day, 29th, as I was getting ready to go to the office my morning meeting got cancelled and then the afternoon meeting too got postponed and suddenly I smelled a golden opportunity to go to Dhama for a day. I left for the Vrindavana at 11.30am.
It was all empty roads on a hot summer day. I realised this is the best time to listen to some nice lectures and as I was browsing though my list on phone I saw the recorded lectures of Govardhan Retreat by HG Bhurijan Prabhu and HH Sacinandan Maharaj. It was a coincident that I haven’t heard this series since many months ( I listen to them regularly). The recording started with initial introduction to Govardhan retreat by HG Bhurijana Prabhu. Prabhuji then explained various wonderful pastimes of Krishna at Govardhan and then HG Madhavananda Prabhu spoke for half an hour on more pastimes of Krishna and then it was time for lecture by HH Sacinandan Maharaj. The next 1.25 hours were sheer bliss by listening to Maharaj. I am quoting a small portion of the lecture, which I noted on my mobile while listening. I have realised that I only absorb and remember those lectures which I hear repeatedly or those which I share with devotees or those for which I make notes. The highest being when I share it with devotees, in that case too I remember only 20-30% of what I like, unless I share it with more devotees.
Maharaj quoted 7th verse from Manah Sikshah, written by Sri Raghunath Das Goswami ( I am writing the verse for the benefit of readers, Maharaj didn’t recite the full translation of the verse)
My dear mind, the despicable desire for material honor and distinction is compared to a shameless dog-eating, low-born prostitute- yet she is flagrantly dancing in my heart. How, then, can the pristine love of pure devotion to Sri Krishna even find a place in my heart ? You will simple have to serve the unalloyed devotees of the Lord, who are his intimate associates and stalwart supporters. They alone can drive out this prostitute and enthrone pure love of Godhead within my heart.
Maharaj explained that when the desire for fame enters our heart and we allow her to stay there for a long time, then she, the fame, doesn’t want to stay alone, she invites her so called husband called Envy ! She invites envy to come as she wants a union. The desire for fame always invites envy of others who are more famous than us, better than us in so many other ways. And then this couple produce two children
1. aggressiveness towards others
2. criticism of others.
Maharaj added that if we let the desire for fame enter our heart then all the Vaiahanava qualities leave us. Good night sunshine !! So this desire for fame needs to be thrown out and we need to remain very conscious of it rather remain vigilant for even a small such desire because even if it is unintentional, it will cause havoc. The desire of fame is described as a dog eating witch by Raghunath Goswami ! (I read earlier that Srila Raghunath Das Goswami is the prayojan acharya, the one who takes us to our ultimate goal.)
Maharaj further added another gem by stating that
it is not for the recognition of others that we should our bhakti, it is for the recognition of Krishna. This is what we want, not that we are recognised as something special and something good. We want that Krishna is recognised.
What wonderful lines and realisation for me. I never ever thought like this before. I aspire to become a good devotee and a good disciple but never thought for a single second that I am doing my bhakti for the recognition of Krishna, which means consciously or unconsciously I am doing my bhakti for my ownself, my own fame.
Maharaj explained that `pratishtha’ is like poison and if we swallow it then ufff ! it will destroy you from inside. Maharaj added that whenever fame comes to us, as we do some good service, and we generally say this is all due to the mercy of my Guru Maharaj. Maharaj said don’t say such words because we want to be known as a very good disciple, say it because we should feel (and say) that on my own I am not good for anything and whatever good is there it is because someone else gave it to me.
What is the solution ? One should serve those who are dear to the Lord. Only a pure devotee of the Lord can throw out this `witch’ of fame, and her associates, who are in our heart, and then bring the great king of love, Krishna, on the throne of our heart.
I pray at the lotus feet of HH Sacinandan Maharaj and beg him to bless me that I always remember this one line and do my bhakti only for the recognition of Krishna.
(we can listen and download all the earlier Govardhan retreats lectures at http://www.vihe.org/audio_lectures.html, scroll down to HH Sacinandana Swami, HG Bhurijan Prabhu, HG Jagattarini Mataji, then click again and we will find links to all the earlier recorded lectures from earlier retreats)
All glories to HH Sacinandan Maharaj.
After I took the left turn from the highway for Sri Radha Kund, and passed through villages, there were lush green fields on both sides.
I reached Sri Radha Kund around 3 pm. We drove right till the Radha Kunda, as the market and the lanes were deserted. I got down from the car a local panda (local priest) arrived from no where, probably the car acted as a cue. The road outside was so hot that I could not walk a single step barefoot.
I entered Sri Radha Kunda, paid my obeisances on the steps and then took bath in the shaded portion of the Kunda. The water was surprising not at all warm. I paid my respects, seek forgiveness for entering the holy water, being completely unqualified, I shared what all was agitating me and then I prayed with all my heart to show me a way. After the bath, the panda `cajoled’ me to offer arti and made me donate some rice and dal as today was `amvasaya’. I requested him that I needed the pictures of Sri Radha Kund and Govardhan and the panda helped me by taking me to a shop and I found just the right picture and size for my altar. I was so happy to see these pictures that I wanted to hug the panda. I was looking for them since last one year and could not get them anywhere. HG Vidurpriya Prabhuji had told me earlier that They will come when They want to and not when I want, so today They agreed.
Sri Radha Kund ki Jai !
I had earlier planned to visit only Sri Radha Kund and then go straight to Vrindavan but after listening to the retreat lectures, and now getting a beautiful picture of Giriraj, I felt inspired to pay my obeisances to Sri Govardhan. I told the driver to go to Govardhan, we drove till the main market and then took the left turn.
And there He was, an effulgent and majestically standing Govardhan.
I filled my eyes with His beauty, paid dandavat pranam, thanked Him, and left for Vrindavan with Vraja dhooli on my forehead.
I had a quick lunch in the car, which my wife had packed for the office. By the time I reached the temple it was almost 4.25 pm. I bought a pair of rose garlands for Sri Krishna Balram and entered the temple. Whenever I enter Sri Krishna Balram temple it is an indescribable feeling. It is like coming back to my real home, or as I have shared earlier, coming back to the home of my grandfather. I know someone is waiting who loves me, without judging me, or I may add, someone who loves me despite knowing who really I am.
As I entered inside, a soft melodious kirtan was going by the 24 hour kirtan party. I first paid my obeisances to Srila Prabhupada, thanked him profusely for inspiring me to come here and begged him to engage me in his transcendental movement. And after paying dandavat at the closed altar I went and met HG Ganshyam Prabahu, who was part of the Kirtan party. He is a very simple and sincere devotee who serves HH Janananda Maharaj. I gave him the parcel which HG Shyam Sundar Prabhu had sent for him. Suddenly the conchshell blew and it was time for Their Lordship to see us.
The beauty of Deities at Vrindavan is beyond words, They always look so fresh, so beautiful, so stunning, so captivating, so charming, words fail to describe Them.
After paying my obeisances and thanking Them for letting me come there, I stood there admiring Their beauty, alternating between all the three altars, each one more munificent, more sublime and simply divine.
The kirtan was now going on with more vigor. A hall which was empty 5 minutes back was full of dancing devotees.
As I came into the temple courtyard I saw devotees doing the service for rubbing chandan for the chandan Yatra. HG Ganshyam prabhu came out and graciously got me some mahaprasadam. He saw me looking at the devotees who were doing the service of rubbing chandan and he asked if I would like to do it ? My heart jumped and I said Yes please ! He went to the Prabhuji who was in charge of the service and requested him to allow me to do the service for sometime. Prabhuji asked my credentials and whether I am following all the 4 regulative principles strictly and chanting my rounds, and after my affirmative answer Prabhuji allowed me to take up the service. I was so delighted as I could get a direct service for the Lord. I didn’t sit idle for a single minute today, what a good fortune, all mercy of Mahaprabhu, Srila Prabhupada and the devotees.
Later, I went to Srila Prabhupda’s samadhi and thanked him again for inspiring me to come to Sri Vrindavan dham and sought his causeless mercy to engage me in his movement and begged for intelligence to serve his servants and their servants with all my heart and without any prejudice. I wanted to cry at his feet but no tears came out of my dry stone like heart.
I left the temple around 5.50pm to meet HG Damodar Prabhu, a very knowledgeable and yet a very humble devotee. I reached his home at 6pm and spent 30 wonderful minutes with him. After initial greetings I asked Prabhuji how can I read Caitanaya Caritramrita better and learn to recite the Bengali verses. Prabhuji instructed me that I should not just the read the translation, which is what I do, but also read the verses, even if I can’t pronounce them properly. Prabhuji said that there is no difference between Sri Caitanaya Caritramrita and Sri Caitanya Mahāprabhu and whenever I read Caitanaya Caritramrita I must first pray to Mahaprabhu and if Mahraprabhu is pleased then reading and reciting Bengali verses would suddenly become a cakewalk. Jai!
When Prabhuji had last come to Gurgaon, he had sung `Hari Haraye Namah Krsna Yadavaya Namah’ and `Bhaja re bhaj re amar mana ati manda’ bhajans. These two bhajans remain firmly imbibed in my heart for the melodious and absorbing way Prabhuji sang them. He had literally taken me to the transcendental world while singing them. So my second question was how can I learn to sing Vaishnava Bhajans as I have developed a longing to learn them but I do not have any musical sense or voice. Prabhuji smiled and replied that to sing Vaishanava bhajans we do not need to be an expert in tunes or require any special singing skills as they need to come out from our heart. When I said that in my case the heart also does not have any feeling or purity, Prabhuji told me to pray to the goswamis and practice them everyday and I should get them. He also told me that I can listen to bhanjans by Sri Akinchan Krishnadas Babaji Maharaj, Srila Prabhupada’s godbrother, who used to chant almost 24 hours a day and hear how by simply playing a basic kartal tune and with a not so melodious voice he still takes the listener to another realm by his simple bhajans. I promised myself that I am going to learn few bhajans, which I can sing alone in my coarse voice and see if I can glorify the Lord. I left his association around 6.30pm for back to Gurgaon.
This short trip proved to be one of my best trips as by the mercy of the Lord I could absorb most of the time remembering Krishna, listening about Krishna, got darshan of Sri Radha Kunda, Sri Govardhan, Deities at Krishna Balram temple, goy to do the chandan service for the Lord and then got devotee association with HG Ganshyam Prabhu and HG Damodar Prabhu. I spoke to HG Shyam Sundar Prabhuji for sometime and then chanted almost all the way back to home. My agitated heart was calm, filled with love and an increasing inspiration to do something more in the service of Krishna, Srila Prabhupada and Guru.