Categories
Prayers

Prayer XXI

My dear Lord Rāmacandra, when ordinary stones were inscribed with Your holy name, they floated effortlessly upon the waters of the ocean, thus forming a bridge to Lanka. On the other side, the dearest treasure of Your heart waited to be reunited with You.

O Lord, my determination to attain Your lotus feet is very unsteady, and so my heart keeps sinking like a stone into the ocean of material existence, where it becomes attracted to the illusory pearls that can be found there. Those pearls promise pleasure but provide only pain and disappointment.

I therefore beg You to strengthen my determination by granting real attachment to Your sound incarnation. Thus inscribed with Your holy name, my stone-like heart will rise above the waves of material energy, leaving behind the pearls glimmering in the depths below. In this way, I will cross over the material ocean and become reunited with You, who were once the dearest treasure of my life.

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Categories
Reflections

LXVIII: TRANSCENDENTAL ATTRACTION

“Although I am the source of happiness for the entire world, the beauty and attributes of Śrī Rādhikā are My life and soul.”

— Lord Kṛṣṇa, as quoted in Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 4.248

Diary entry dated 28th February 2021:

This afternoon, I had a discussion with a friend on various spiritual topics. At one point, I spoke frankly about my material desires, and confessed that out of all women, I’ve always been most attracted to those with fair skin and dark hair. Their response was that perhaps this was because they resembled Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, who is the most beautiful of all feminine personalities.

After they expressed surprise that I had never thought it about like that before, I explained that the thought had previously appeared on the outskirts of my mind, but I deliberately chose not to dwell on it. Rādhārāṇī is the supreme mother figure, and the idea of admitting that I felt lust for women who resembled my eternal mother made me feel uncomfortable.

But, as explained in Chapter Fifteen of the Bhagavad-gītā, our material desires are a perverted reflection of our original, pure love for Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. And in his Purport to Bhagavad-gītā 3.41, Śrīla Prabhupāda says, “Lust is only the perverted reflection of the love of God which is natural for every living entity.”

Categories
Reflections

LXVII: THEY WAIT ON THE SHORE

Diary entry dated 23rd February 2021:

When I was a child, my parents took my brother and I to the seaside every summer, and we would spend hours playing on the beach. Generally, children love to go to the beach and build sandcastles and swim in the shallow water.

Now, I want you to imagine that you are one of those children. You tell your parents that you want to swim in the sea, but they reply, “No, don’t go. The water is dangerous and cold. It would be better if you stayed with us.”

Ignoring your parents’ protests, you enter the water anyway. After swimming around for a while, you realise the truth of their words, and you quickly make your way back to the beach. Your parents ask, “So, how was the water?”

To which you respond, “Horrible! The water was freezing!”

Instead of saying, “I told you so,” your mother simply hands you a towel, which you use to dry your body. Afterwards, she says, “Let’s go home now.”

Having warmed yourself up, you tell her, “Actually, I feel OK now. I want to swim for a bit longer.”

“What are you talking about? You just said that the water is horrible! You’re not going to enjoy it.”

“No, don’t worry. It will be better this time!”

Categories
Poetry

Manorsick

I thought I had forgotten you,
But recently my heart
Has been burning with sorrow
Due to us being apart.

When will I set foot again
In your sacred corridors,
And find refuge from the material
Simply by entering through your doors?

O Manor of Bhaktivedanta,
I long for your shelter.

When will I again cry tears of joy
As I sit on the temple room floor
And hear nectarean narrations
Describing the all-merciful Lord?

Categories
Reflections

LXVI: YOU GAVE ME LIFE

Diary entry dated 20th February 2021:

A birthday is a time to celebrate the life of a person, but we often forget to celebrate those who gave that person life in the first place.

O Rādhikā! O Kṛṣṇa! You gave me life, so today I celebrate You. Despite all the pain I have caused You both, Your love has never stopped flowing for a single moment.

One day, my gratitude for Your undying love will be so great that nothing will be able to stand in its path. One day, it will not be blood that flows through my veins, but pure love for You. One day, my heart will become Your drum, and my heartbeats will be the rhythm that You create with Your instrument.

Categories
Poetry

Cheesy Valentine’s Poem: Bhakti Edition

True renunciation, or yukta-vairāgya, is where we use everything we have in the service of the Lord, rather than simply giving it all up. Even the desire to write a cheesy Valentine’s-style poem can be used for Kṛṣṇa!

On Valentine’s Day, let us not forget to express our appreciation and gratitude to Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, for no one loves us as much as They do. Though we repeatedly turn our backs on Them and throw Their love back in Their beautiful faces, Their eternal love for us never diminishes. Even at this very moment, the Divine Couple are patiently waiting for us to turn back to Them and resume our loving relationship with Them.

By the way, if you came here expecting a poem that is literally full of cheese, don’t worry — I’ve got you covered:

Roses are Red Leicester,
Stilton is blue.
Extra Mature Cheddar?
Don’t mind if I do!

(I didn’t say it would be good haha!)

Categories
Prayers

Prayer XX

O Rādhārāṇī, I have heard and spoken many names in my lifetime, but none have given as much pleasure to my ears as those that belong to You, nor have any tasted as sweet on my tongue. It is said that Śukadeva Gosvāmī did not directly mention Your name in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam because if he had done so, he would have become overwhelmed with ecstatic emotions, rendering him unable to complete his narration of that beautiful scripture. I can certainly empathise with this – though I am nowhere near as advanced as that exalted soul, my own experiences of Your holy names have given me a glimpse of their unrivalled power.

O daughter of Vṛṣabhānu, just as one cannot count the waves of the ocean, one cannot count the waves of love which spring forth from Your boundless heart and wash over those who sincerely turn to You – like the soothing lullaby of a mother to her child, those waves bring one relief from all the miseries of material existence. I do not know anything, and every day I make countless mistakes, but whenever I turn to You I feel acceptance and unconditional love.

O beloved of Dāmodara, there is nothing more precious in all of existence than Your beautiful lotus feet – indeed, the Supreme Lord, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, considers those feet to be dearer than life itself. Therefore, on this final day of Kartik, I beg for a place at Your divine feet. I can find no shelter in this material world; if You do not grant me shelter, I will have nowhere else to go.

O Rādhikā, You are my mother, my queen, and my worshipable Deity. I have never taken good care of my heart, so I now place it in Your lotus hands for safekeeping. Please do with it as You wish, for it belongs to You anyway.

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Categories
Short Stories

Queen of Mercy

To the northwest of Vṛndāvana lies the town of Varṣāṇā, which is the home of Rādhārāṇī. To highlight their exceptional significance, Śacīnandana Swami describes Varṣāṇā as “the parliament of the spiritual world” and Rādhārāṇī as “the prime minister of divine love” (Pandava Sena summer retreat 2016, Germany).

But who exactly is Rādhā? Why is She always with Kṛṣṇa? And what is She like? To answer these questions, I have written the following short story:

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In a remote ashram in India, a young disciple named Jīva was inquiring from his spiritual master about a very important subject matter.

The disciple said, “Although you have explained it many times, I’m still finding it difficult to understand who Rādhārāṇī is. Please could you explain it to me again in simpler terms?”

Categories
Reflections

LXV: ALWAYS IN THEIR COMPANY

“The devotee who knows that there is no difference between the name and the form of the Lord chants Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare / Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare and realizes that he is always in Kṛṣṇa’s company.”

— Kṛṣṇa, The Supreme Personality of Godhead,
Chapter 2: “Prayers by the Demigods for Lord Kṛṣṇa in the Womb,”
By Śrīla Prabhupāda

Diary entry dated 9th November 2020:

My previous Reflection was firmly focused on feelings of separation, but this one is about feelings of union.

While chanting japa this evening in the living room, I looked at the picture of Śrī Śrī Rādhā Gokulānanda on the wall and suddenly found myself telling Them, “I’m always talking about separation, but actually we are never separated. Whenever I chant Your names, You are with me immediately. Hare Kṛṣṇa… You are with me. Hare Kṛṣṇa… You are with me. Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa… You are here. Hare Hare… She is here with me. Hare Rāma… You are by my side. Hare Rāma… You are right here. Rāma Rāma… You are with me. Hare Hare… She is in my heart.”

Out of Their infinite mercy, Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa have made Themselves easily available in the form of Their holy names – as I thought about this, my heart became filled with gratitude and my face was bathed by a sudden flood of tears.

Categories
Reflections

LXIV: LET THE TEARS FALL

Diary entry dated 13th October 2020:

This morning, I had a profound experience which revealed just how much the Manor residents mean to me, and how much I miss them.

For the first time since I moved out of the Manor, I woke up early enough to watch the entire morning programme online. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the morning programme, it begins at 4:30am with Magala-ārati, during which devotees sing beautiful prayers glorifying the spiritual master, followed by the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. It is considered magala, or auspicious, for all who participate.

As I sang along whilst taking darśana of Their Lordships through my laptop screen, my eyes were constantly filling up with tears. In my Reflection entitled Blissful Agony, I attempted to describe my feelings of separation from the Deities. Now, seeing Their exquisite forms and loving smiles, my heart was once again overwhelmed by those same feelings. When I saw Tulasī-devī as she was being carried off the altar in preparation for Tulasī-ārati, the emotions became especially intense, for she is very dear to me.

During Tulasī-ārati, which begins shortly after Magala-ārati, more prayers are sung, this time in glorification of Tulasī-devī, an intimate servant of the Divine Couple who can grant us access to Their devotional service. Devotees then circumambulate Tulasī-devī and lovingly offer water to her, accompanied by more singing of the mahā-mantra. As I watched the devotees joyfully dancing around her, the tears that were falling from my eyes out of affection for Tulasī-devī became tears of separation from those whom I had lived and served with for three years.

Tulasī-ārati finishes around 5:15am, and then the temple room lights are dimmed and devotees begin to chant their japa. The two little clouds on my face, which had been releasing their rainfall almost non-stop for forty-five minutes, temporarily ceased their activity – at 7am, when the altar curtains were reopened and the Deities revealed once more, the clouds resumed their downpour. Their Lordships are greeted with a special song consisting of prayers spoken by Lord Brahmā, which describes the glorious qualities and unmatched beauty of Kṛṣṇa’s transcendental form.

After greeting the Deities, devotees move towards Śrīla Prabhupāda’s altar on the opposite side of the temple room for guru-pūjā. As I watched them step forward one-by-one to offer flowers to Prabhupāda and pay their obeisances to him, I was overcome by agonising feelings of separation from each and every devotee that I saw on the screen, and tears flowed incessantly from my eyes.