I heard about someone not being well today and it made me think how I used to behave, when ill, before coming into Krishna consciousness.
Basically, not unlike a spoiled brat, I would raise a big hue and cry and ensure that the whole house would know how much I am suffering. And this would be for anything from a mild fever to a bad throat. My family would dread my ever falling ill. Priti, my wife, used to say that she prays to God that I should be the last person in the family to fall ill as I can’t tolerate even a small inconvenience and make everybody else life also miserable by my constant demands, while on the bed, and description about my suffering to any and every one who was ready to listen ! I would spend my sick time, when not complaining, either watching TV, reading novels or sleeping, in other words I would be plain bored and would be a irritated patient. I would rush to take the antiboitics the very moment so that I don’t have to go through any more cough and it used to work very well. I used to hate being sick.
Now to the present status. I fell ill for few days in the beginning of this month. It was nothing serious, I caught cold, which got worse and instead of taking antibiotic medicine I thought let me bear the whole discomfort and infection will pass in few days. I had to spend 3-4 days at home due to fever and cough. Eventually I was back in shape after a week. The whole house was quite as I found that by the grace of God I have suddenly got a lot of time to catch up with my hearing and reading. I was in a bliss. Of course there was some uncomfortableness due to fever and constant cough for few days, but it was just a small irritant or rather a very small price to pay for being able to hear and read so much. I was so happy that I can now hear and read without any comments from anyone in the family and I am sure they too were happy thinking that I was so quiet. It was too quite for their comfort ! Priti pushed me to go to office on third day as I seemed to be in no discomfort at all. I had to show her the thermometer and remind her of my constant cough that I am still sick ! She then questioned `why am I not seeing a Doctor?’ She commented that I seem to be enjoying it. How true it was. I politely told her that Doctor will just give me some antibiotics to relieve me of constant cough and fever and I am taking neem capsules to build stamina in my body and let’s just watch for one day more and if not recovered then I promise to go and see a doctor. With this excuse four days passed and I was back in action.
As I write and look back, I realise that not only my general health has improved after coming into Krishna consciousness, mostly due to regulated eating habits, but the time during the sickness too has improved tremendously. Now sickness means more reading, more hearing and no disturbance from anyone. It gives me a chance to come more closer to Krishna. Now, I look forward to being sick as well.
I searched for a relevant quote from Srila Prabhupada I came across this gem from HH Mahanidhi Maharaj.
Pride is so deep, that even when we are sick, we are proud of it. We tell others about our sickness, to get their sympathy and attention.
How very true, this was indeed me !
Maharaj then adds the below lines to his above quote
But Krishna’s devotees are humble. They never want any attention from others. They keep everyone’s attention on Krishna.
I haven’t reached this stage yet but atleast I know that I am moving a little away from the other extreme of trying to gain everyone’s sympathy and attention.
Krishna says in BG 9.2
rāja-vidyā rāja-guhyaṁ pavitram idam uttamam
pratyakṣāvagamaṁ dharmyaṁ su-sukhaṁ kartum avyayam
This knowledge is the king of education, the most secret of all secrets. It is the purest knowledge, and because it gives direct perception of the self by realization, it is the perfection of religion. It is everlasting, and it is joyfully performed.
Prabhupada writes in his purport to the above verse ‘The process of devotional service is a very happy one (su-sukham). Why? Devotional service consists of śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ, so one can simply hear the chanting of the glories of the Lord or can attend philosophical lectures on transcendental knowledge given by authorized ācāryas. Simply by sitting, one can learn; then one can eat the remnants of the food offered to God, nice palatable dishes. In every state devotional service is joyful.’
Sometimes looking for that big transformation within us we fail to take notice of so many small positive changes that have entered our consciousness and we miss the chance, every time, to pay our gratitude to our spiritual master, our Acharya and our dear most Lord.
All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
All glories to being in Krishna consciousness.
21st October : I was itching since morning to make a program to do Govardhan parikarma on Govardhan Puja day on 24th October but somehow the program was not get getting materialised. We, the whole family, came from Vrindavan 3 days back and they were reluctant to go again as its 10th class of my daughter and Priti, my wife, didn’t want more off from her coaching classes. Then, I was also told to spend some time at with kids on this weekend and my parents too will come to spend Diwali with us and will be home on 24th as well.
22nd Oct : I got a call from Guru Maharaj to pick a devotee from International airport coming from Russia at 3.30am and then to drop her at the domestic terminal at 9 am. I dropped the idea of going to Govardhan now as it will be too late to go, the desire to go, however, remained simmering in my heart.
23rd October : Diwali Day. I was still in two minds whether to go and how to go. In the morning I received a call from HG Sri Krishna Hari Prabhuji, who informed that he is taking a small group of devotees from Gurgaon to Govardhan next day morning. My desire to go got inflamed again. I called up devotees who were going next day with Prabhuji but they didn’t have any vacant seat in their car. Priti told me that if I am so keep to go then I can pick the devotee from the airport early morning and then she can drop her later, while I can leave for parikarma. Not sure whether to take the option, I messaged Shyamsundar Prabhuji seeking his advice. He strongly advised me against passing on service to even my wife, back to the square one.
24th October : Govardhan-Puja. I picked the devotee, a very very simple and intelligent devotee from Russia, serving TOVP, from the airport at 3.30am and then dropped her back at the domestic terminal at 9 am for her journey to Sri Mayapur Dhama. Later, coming back home from the airport I decided to go, even alone, for Govardhna Parikarma. Still, I pushed my parents to come with me and told my father that it is one of holiest day to go for Govardhan Parikarma. I also told them that they can do the parikarma in a riksha and as a added bonus they will stay in MVT in the most comfortable environment. After some cajoling my father agreed but mom refused flatly. She put a condition that she will only go if my wife comes along. Priti refused, as Samira, my daughter, had extra classes. A bit angry, I taunted my mother that she only wants Priti to come so that she has someone to talk to and gossip and then walked out of the room, thinking only the father and son duo will go today, leaving the ladies at home. As I walked out I heard my dad telling mom that think of it as `Shravan kumar’ taking his parents to Dhama yatra and that she should come, she refused again. Hearing my dad’s words suddenly something ticked inside my heart. Am I really a shravan Kumar kumar ? No ! I was forcing me mom so that my dad will have company in the riksha while I do the parikarma, walking. I also know that if I would have got a lift I would not have bothered to ask my parents. But his hearing his words had some effect on my dry heart. I returned back to the room and softly pleaded and then pushed my mother to come, promising to take care of them. Strangely, she agreed this time. Hari Bol !
As I came back in my room and told Priti that both mom and dad have agreed to come with me. I also shared how after hearing dad’s words my heart softened and how I am now thinking that let me take them to Govardhan yatra and I will go with them in the riksha and will not leave them to be on their own. I will also try to speak about some pastimes of the Lord on the way and this may be their only hope for getting mercy of the Lord. Priti asked what about her parents. I replied that they won’t agree to come with us but she can do the parikarma and then give the credit to her parents. After thinking for a few long seconds she agreed to my proposal ! A miracle seem to be taking place in my home. She said let’s drop the kids at her sister’s home but I pushed her that let’s take the kids too, emphasising that though it will definitely be very crowded there but then who else, if not us, will teach our kids to learn to take a little bit of austerity for some higher cause. She replied if the kids will agree to come on their own then she is fine. Again to my surprise , both the kids jumped at the idea and were ready to go. We were out of the house in next one hour, all prepared for Govardhana Parikarma. I also downloaded some lectures in Hindi for my parents on my phone and took the portable bluetooth speaker in the car for added effect, just in case.
As we started the journey, my mom started the general chit chat in the car. My father, generally quite tolerant, surprisingly, scolded her that we are going for a yatra and we should not gossip and should rather think about some good thoughts. Thinking that this is the right time I loudly said what a good idea ! let all of us hear about Govardhan Lila from a very senior sanyasi, HH Radha Govind Maharaj, that too in Hindi and then overriding my mom’s meek protests I switched the audio on. Within five minutes we were listening to the nector. To be honest, my mother went to sleep in few minutes but rest of the family members listened attentively. It was indeed pure nectar to my ears as I heard Maharaj recite the lila as if it has happened in front of his eyes.
We reached Govardhan after 4 pm. It was not as crowded as I had expected it to be. We met another family while parking our car and together we hired a big auto for the parikarma. We did the parikarma and within 15 minutes everyone was in the right mood. We also walked for some time when the soft ground near Govardhan came. I spoke a little as to why do we do the parikarma and what is the significance of this day. As we went back to our Auto I was thinking how nice it would have been to walk all the distance but because of my family I am forced to do the parikarma in an auto. I also realised that I should never look down on devotees who apparently are not going through a simple austerity, as they could be be helping someone else as part of their preaching. So whilst feeling sad at not being able to walk I made myself a promise never to look down upon anyone else though I don’t know how soon I may forget it. I continue my ride in the rear seat of the auto, chanting and looking at Giri Govardhan with gratitude in my heart and trying to fill my eyes with His beauty.
Suddenly I saw a familiar face, it was HH Mahanidhi Maharaj doing parikarma with few devotees, as his usual fast pace. I felt so blessed just being able to take his darshan. I almost jumped off the auto, told the auto driver to stop while I’d be back in few minutes. I ran back but could not find Maharaj any where though it was a straight road. Feeling sad but not willing to give up, I tried to think fresh and looked around. I then saw a small group of devotees going inside a narrow alley instead of staying on the main road. I ran inside that alley and after, what seemed a very long 1 minute of running. caught up with Maharaj. I paid by dandavat, maharaj looked at me with surprise as I introduce myself. Maharaj commented nice name after hearing my initiated name, then maharaj blessed me and gave a name card and carried on. Oh ! What a bliss I felt in heart. I was able to pay dandavat to a pure devotee of the Lord while doing parikarma. I thanked Sri Govardhan and Maharaj for this unexpected opportunity and came back to the auto to complete the rest of the parikarma.
We finally reached near Radha Kund where auto rikshas were not allowed, We walked the last 1 km or so. I also went to the Samadhi of Sri Ragunath Nath Goswami and paid my obeisances. We finally reached the glorious Radha kund, we all did small puja, sprinkled Her holy water on our heads. I thanked Sri Radha Kund for giving me this opportunity to come back. I promised myself that from next trips I will try to bring some new devotees and help them feel attached to dhama rather thinking only about my own self. This was my realisation for this trip.
We then hurriedly drove to Krishna Balaram temple so that I can let my parents to Deep dana. The road to the temple was heavy with traffic but thankfully we could drive till the temple gate, reaching outside the temple, I asked my family to go quickly go inside as it was already 8.30pm while I park the car. As I entered the temple after parking the car, the altar doors were closed. I took the diya from the devotees and did deep dana with doors closed and curtain drawn on Sri Damodar. But inside my heart I could see them all and offered my prayers to each of Them with a good degree of devotion and gratitude. As I turned around and to keep the diya I again saw HG Sri Krishna Hari Prabhuji doing deep dana in front of a new painting of Damodar in the temple complex. I took my son there and asked him to offer the deep dana copying prabhuji. I then met Prabhuji and I thanked him for calling me yesterday morning and filling my heart with the greed to come here. Prabhuji shared that they too did the parikarma in an auto but unlike us they stopped at various lila sthais and did katha and kirtana. I then asked my family members whether they were able to to do deep dana and they replied in affirmative, they could do the deep dana as Krishna balram altar was open and they could also offer the same to Damodar as well. I was most happy and most thankful to the Lord for making this a double. I had never thought that we will be able to reach here in time.
Then I called up Vishnujiwan Prabhuji who not only handed me the keys for our room but also gave me the garland of Srimati Radharani. Oh! I was so happy to receive it, for me it was as if the Deities were pleased that I did this yatra for my parents and family and not so much for my own self as in previous times. I again and again thanked Them and promised that from next time I will try to bring devotees for darshan rather than rushing and thinking just my own self. I always used to hear and wonder how can Dhama reciprocate but today, after a day full of surprises and realisations, I could see that Dhama has reciprocated with me today and I can only bow my head in gratitude and promise to become a better devotee from here onwards.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura wrote this beautiful prayer called Mama Mana Mandire, which I am sharing as I pray that one day I too get some greed for Dhama and can serve it.
mama mana mandire raha niśi-din
kṛṣṇa murāri śrī kṛṣṇa murāri
(Please abide in the temple of my heart both day and night, O Krsna Murari, O Sri Krsna Murari!)
bhakti prīti mālā candan
tumi nio he nio cita-nandan
(Devotion, love, flower garlands, and sandalwood- please accept them, O Delighter of the Heart!)
jīvana maraṇa tava pūjā nivedan
sundara he mana-hārī
( In life or in death I worship You with these offerings, Beautiful One, O Enchanter of the Heart!)
eso nanda-kumār ār nanda-kumār
habe prema-pradīpe ārati tomār
(Come, son of Nanda, and then, O Son of Nanda, I will offer Your arati ceremony with the lamplight of my love.)
nayana jamunā jhare anibār
tomāra virahe giridhārī
(The waters of the Yamuna river cascade incessantly from my eyes in your separation, O Holder of Govardhana Hill!)
bandana gāne tava bajuk jīvana
kṛṣṇa murāri śrī kṛṣṇa murāri
(May I pass my life absorbed only in songs of Your praise, O Krsna Murari, Sri Krsna Murari!)
All glories to Sri Vrindavan Dham.
All glories to Sri Giri Govardhan.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.