14 Nov, 2014. Gurgaon.
jaya jaya śrī-caitanya svayaṁ bhagavān
jaya jaya gauracandra bhakta-gaṇa-prāṇa
(All glories to Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead! All glories to Lord Gauracandra, the life and soul of His devotees, CC Antya 14.2)
Some weeks back, in an emotional state of mind, I, foolishly, sent the below SMS to Guru Maharaj.
`Guru Maharaj, I wanted to share that that I am having extra marital affair and that too with not one but many. I have fallen in love with Krishna, with Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, with Nityananad Prabhu, with Lord Jagannath, with you and with devotees like Shyamsundar Prabhuji and I have to only thank you for helping me establish this unique sambandh jnana with Lord, guru and devotees. I am most blessed to to have taken shelter in ISKCON and I promise that I will try my best to spread this love around.’
Reading it today I feel quite embarrassed at my childish attempt to use humour to drive home a simple point that inspite of my long list of disqualification, I am receiving a whole lot of unproportionally large volume of Love from so many channels around me.
As I take some baby steps in my spiritual journey, I find myself falling in love with an increasing number of devotees. And strangely, I observe that more the number of devotees I fall in love with, the more my love for Krishna increases automatically. When I make space for one more devotee in my heart, the heart acts on its own to make more space for Krishna and vice versa. Somehow the same very heart which could hardly accommodate only a few persons from family and friends circle ( looking back I think it only had one person in it, myself), now it seems be be getting bigger and bigger to make room for a large number of devotees, the quality of bonding and the intensity too has increased many times than what I ever increased in my material life.
In the past there was always a conscious and subconscious `give and take’ feeling, even with close friends. In fact the closer a person the higher used to be my expectations from him. Now, with devotees just the reverse is true. I don’t have any expectations from most of them and the only thing I long is to be in their association and, if possible, they speak about Krishna, but most of the time I am in a blissful state by just being near them.
Being a very introvert and dry person my list is still quite short and many a times the love is just one sided as the other devotee does not now how much love and respect I have for him. I wish I could name all but to name a few HH Gopala Krishna Goswami Maharaj, HG Rukmini Krishna Prabhu, HH Sacinanadan Maharaj, HG Karuna Prabhuji, Subir Prabhu, my dear friend Shyamsundar Prabhuji, HG Prasanto Mataji (what I would not give to have her as my mother), HH Giriraj Maharaj, HH Radha Govind Maharaj, HH Bhakti Vijnana Maharaj ( without even meeting Maharaj I feel so much connected to him), HG Radheshyam Prabhuji. I have fallen head over heels over HH Bhakti Charu Maharaj. And then all previous acharays, six Goswamis, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Lord Nityanand, Sri Mayapur Dham, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Lord Balram and Sri Radha & Krishna and Their associates, Tulasi Maharani ( another case of head over heels), ISKCON Punjabi Bagh temple, in fact all ISKCON temples, Vrindavan Deities, Damodar Lila, Govardhan Lila, Bhagavad Gita, Vaishnava bhajans, MVT, deep soulful kirtans, ISKCON, preaching,….. the list gets longer by each passing month.
Three special names I would like to mention in the end are hearing Krishna katha (how I wish if somehow I could dedicate my one ear 24 hours a day plugged in listening it), Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (completely and madly head over heels) and Srila Prabhupada. I don’t know how and when my respect for Srila Prabhupada turned into love. It has primarily happened due to the causeless mercy of Guru Maharaj.
I fell in love with Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta after hearing it the first time itself, while not even knowing who is Chaitanya Mahaprabhu! I still remember that it was during my initial days at Punjabi Bagh temple, speaker was HG Swargapati Prabhuji. What he was reading and reciting was beyond any definition of sweetness known to me before. After prabhuji’s lecture got over I collected some courage and approached him and asked from which book he was reading these verses. Prabhuji replied me he was reading from Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta. I immediately went to the book store and asked for it. The Prabhuji in charge of the store Looked at me from head to toe and then politely advised me to buy the condensed version first. I brought it home and after few days I went to Sri Vrindavan Dhama, checked into the guest for the first time and finished more than quarter of the book, but somehow I never completed it. Then few months back after hearing `Rupa Siksha’ lecture recording by HH Radha Govind Maharaj I felt inspired to read it and from that day onwards I read a few verses almost daily. I love all three from the core of my heart.
I am copying the song `Thakura Vaisnava Pada by Srila Narottama Das Thakura below. Although I still remain judgmental about devotees and do not have any such feeling in my heart yet I pray to our guru parampara to kindly bless me that one day such feelings about devotees can blossom in my dry, and stone like hard, heart.
ṭhākura vaiṣṇava pada, avanīra susampada,
śuno bhāi hoiyā eka mana
āśraya loiyā bhaje, tāre kṛṣṇa nāhi tyaje,
āra saba more akāraṇa
(O brother, please hear my words with rapt attention. The lotus feet of the Vaisnavas are the most valuable treasure of this world. These Vaisnavas continually take shelter of Lord Krsna and worship Him. They never abandon their Lord. They are liberated. They are free from the cycle of birth and death.)
vaiṣṇava caraṇa jala, prema bhakti dite bol,
āra keho nahe balavanta
vaiṣṇava caraṇa reṇu, mastake bhūṣaṇa vinu,
āra nāhi bhūṣaṇera anta
(The water that has washed the lotus feet of the Vaisnavas bestows devotional service in pure love of God. Nothing else is as effective for attaining this divine love. I place dust from the lotus feet of the Vaisnavas upon my head. I wear no other ornament.)
tīrtha jala pavitra guṇe, likhiyāche purāṇe,
se saba bhaktira pravañcana
vaiṣṇavera pādodaka, sama nahe ei saba,
yāte hoy vāñchita pūraṇa
(The purifying power of the waters at the various holy places of pilgrimage is described in the Puranas, although this is something of a deceptive trick. Actually there is not anything as purifying as the water that has washed the lotus feet of the Vaisnavas. This water fulfills all desires.)
vaiṣṇava sańgete mana, ānandita anukṣaṇa,
sadā hoy kṛṣṇa parasańga
dīna narottama kānde, hiyā dhairya nāhi bāndhe
mora daśā keno hoilo bhańga
(Moment after moment my mind finds pleasure in the association of the Vaisnavas. I always seek out the company of those who are devoted to Lord Krsna. Poor-hearted Narottama dasa breaks down and cries. How has this fallen condition come upon me?)
I beg devotees to kindly share their experience on falling in love with devotees.
All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.