12th Jan 2014, Gurgaon.
As I completed my morning japa rounds the story of Shri Dattatreya somehow came to my mind and I questioned myself what I have learned from devotees and surroundings near me.
During the recent Ujjain retreat with HH Bhakti Charu Swami maharaj at Ujjain, the topic was Uddhava Gita( SB 11th canto). Guru maharaj explained in one of the initial sessions about 24 gurus of Dattatreya and how the sage learnt from each of them and treated them as his Guru. I am summarising them below.
Shri Dattatreya had twenty-four teachers from nature as he told King Yadu…. The earth, air/breeze, sky, fire, the sun, pigeon, python, sea, moth, elephant, ant, fish, Pingala the courtesan, arrow-maker, infant/playful boy, the moon, honeybee, deer, bird of prey, maiden, serpent, spider, caterpillar and water are my twenty four preceptors.
I took out my pad and started writing on what all I have learned and from whom.
1. HG Rukmini Krishna prabhu ( temple president, Punjabi Bagh, New Delhi): From him I am learning to always be helpful towards others irrespective of where they come from and give them an honest and sincere advice by which they can develop their Krishna consciousness. He is always approachable, completely dedicated to serving all Vaishnavas and following his Guru Mahraj’s and Srila Prabhupada’s instructions.
2. Mukul Prabhu, Delhi : He brought me into Krishna Consciousness.He is an ex-financial whizkid and after leaving his job, he now consults to SMEs. He has turned each of his client into Krishna Consciousness, he is always calm whatever may be the circumstance. I am learning from him to always remain peaceful.
3. Sumeet Prabhu, Gurgaon: A very dear friend, like an elder brother. He is a very honest, practical and a sincere devotee. I am learning for him how to take my family along and that keeping them happy is very important for my own spiritual journey. He continues to give me practical advice which helps me tremendously. He comes from a vaishnava family and I can always follow his advice with my eyes closed.
4. Tree in front of my house : Till a few months back we used to live on the 4th floor an apartment building and whenever I would come to the `study’ to to do my yoga I could see the middle and top of this huge tree. Almost every single day as soon I would remove my glasses to start the yoga, I would see some form of Krishna in it and very clear. Sometime I would even call my wife and ask her can’t you see Radha and Krishna in the tree and I would try show her Their form, she would reply yes the shape is there but it is probably more in my own mind. But I would see Lord Jagannath or many other forms of the Lord almost every single time, complete with Their facial expressions and skin color ! The lesson for me was that Lord is there in every atom, whenever I have devotion and faith in my eyes He manifests.
P.s. : Now we have shifted to the second floor of the same building. The same tree is just right outside my balcony and much much closer. I worship him as a part of Govardhan! Why ? I have no idea, my heart said whenever you see him please pay obeisances as Govardhan and I do it every morning.
5. Atma and Anand Prabhuji, Gurgaon : They are very talented twin brothers and are blessed to get personal service of serving Guru Maharaj. Their dedication to Guru Maharaj is commendable by all standards and a benchmark for me. I am learning from them what is meant by serving our Guru.
6. HG Ganganarayan Prabhuji, co-president Ujjain temple : Such a humble devotee. I have yet to meet a more knowledgeable, dedicated and humble sanyasi-in-waiting, I am sure there would be others in ISKCON, but for me he is a benchmark of humility. I am learning from him how to be always humble from the core of my heart.
7. Deities: I learn building relationships from Them; starting from Vrindavan to Punjabi Bagh to my own home, they always respond to love and affection. You may call my crazy but my small Ladoo Gopal ji change expressions many a times. I have written in my earlier blogs about my past realisations in Punjabi Bagh and Vrindavan, simply divine, amazing and most merciful. I learn from Them with whom to develop my relationships with.
8. Electricity Pole : When I was in the 4th floor apartment another thing that I could out see out from my study window, besides the tree, was a giant Electricity pole. Somehow I always took it as one of the portion of Krishna’s foot, like a Virat purush form of Krishna. I learned from him that nothing, living or non living, is separate from Krishna.
9. Punjabi Bagh temple community: I learned from them how to serve all Vaishanava as equal. I always saw a festive atmosphere whenever a senior sanyasi would visit the temple. In fact it was after an year that I found the special position of HH Gopal Krishna Goswami as each senior Sanyasi was accorded the same love and welcome.
10. Jagannath puri Dhama : I learned how does one feel when one steps into the `darbar’ (court) of the Lord. My first experience, which I shared in detail in one of my previous blogs, was transcendental. I would never forget that feeling in my heart. I learned how small and puny I am in the overall scheme of things.
11. Vrindavan Dham : I learned from the Holy Dhama to be always merciful towards everyone. Irrespective of who comes to Vrindavan, with pure, polluted or zero consciousness, everyone gets the mercy.
12. Prabhuji, Punjabi Bagh : I do not even know the name of this devotee but I see him every time I am there, he would mop temple floor everyday before guru puja, he would never look around for a `help’. Summer or winter he is there, then very humbly he would stand in the last line and dance during the Guru Puja. I learned from him to always remain unseen in our service and never try to take any credit or aspire for glorification by others.
13. Buying a house, Gurgaon : I shared my experience while buying my new house in one of early blogs in detail, one person on whom I depended the most pulled the rug right under my feet and at the very last moment. I learned from that experience to never dislike anyone, that they are just messengers of what I did in my past and it is due to the mercy of Lord that i am getting its consequences in a far lesser dosage. And I must always remain under the shelter of the Lord, He knows what is best for me.
14. Yoga: I practiced yoga for 3 years or so and I learned how to sit at one place and meditate.
15. My Wife, Priti : I learned from her the boundless patience and love she had for the kids. I had to copy the same for Krishna and His devotees.
16. Subir Prabhu, Delhi : He is a very enthusiastic devotee and always full of energy for any thing connected with devotional service. I learned from him to be always enthusiastic in any service given to us.
17. Ujjain temple community: What a wonderful set of devotees and epitome of hospitality. I am trying to learn to think of myself as a servant of every vaishanava and treat each of them as my own master.
18. Amogh Lila Prabhu, Delhi : He has a gift for humour and is a wonderful preacher, now vice president for the Dwarka temple. I am learning how we can use humor as a strong tool in preaching and that I should not be serious all the time.
19. Radheshyam Prabhu, Gurgaon : Before he shifted to Vrindavan Dham, his service to devotees was unmatched in Gurgaon. He served and served, never in the limelight. I am learning from him to always try to serve the devotees with the best of my ability.
20. My Son, Samir: He is always carefree and gets back into cheerfulness within seconds of being scolded or upset about something. I am learning from him to never feel bad or sulk about any particular incident or behaoviour as that particular moment has already passed and I should look for what best I can do in this present moment.
21. Tulasi Maharani : She takes birth in so many homes, she does not desire anything for her own self other than helping devotees connect with Sri Krishna and she is happy being always under Lord’s lotus feet. I am learning from her to always remain in the shelter of my Guru and Krishna, that is my happiest position.
22. HG Mahadevi Mataji, Vrindavan : Mataji is a disciple of Srila Prabhupada, I wrote about her in one of my previous blog on how I met her during the procession of taking Srila Prabhupada’s Deity to all the Goswami temples in Vrindavan and how she reciprocate with Srila Prabhupada in that journey. I am learning from him how we can reciprocate with Srila Prabhupada and feel his divine presence around us at all times.
23. HH Gopal Krishna Goswami maharaj : I learned from him how the mere glance of a pure vaishanava can purify me and I must always hanker to get darshan of pure devotees of the Lord.
24. Neelu, Delhi : She is the HR manager in our small company. She is always respectful towards everyone. She would even address our office peons and drivers with such humility that initially I used to to get upset about it. I am learning from her to always give respect to others irrespective of what social order they belong to.
Last but not the least, I have realised is that in spite of having these 24 gurus, 24 moons, I can learn nothing till I do not have a special half moon in my life, my spiritual master. Without the mercy of my spiritual master all my learning enter from one ear and go out from other ear. It is only by the mercy of my spiritual master that each learning enters from one ear and then penetrate my hard heart rather going out from the other ear ! This helps get me realisations. Now the 24 and half moons are completed.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.