Categories
Reflections

LX: BLISSFUL AGONY

“If one’s hairs do not stand on end, how can the heart melt? And if the heart does not melt, how can tears of love flow from the eyes? If one does not cry in spiritual happiness, how can one render loving service to the Lord? And without such service, how can the consciousness be purified?”

— Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 11.14.23

Diary entry dated 11th September 2020:

Exactly three years ago, I moved to Bhaktivedanta Manor, and a new chapter of my life began. Now, that chapter has come to an end. I find it difficult to believe how quickly time has flown – years have passed by like falling autumn leaves, never to return.

The original plan was to leave in mid-March, but then the Manor went into lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I still could’ve left at that time, but I felt the urge to remain a little longer to help out with services during the lockdown. Somehow or other, “a little longer” became five months!

If I’m honest, those five months were some of the best months of my life. I relished the opportunity to get involved in simple services such as cleaning the temple building, helping to prepare meals for the pleasure of Śrī Śrī Rādhā Gokulānanda and Their devotees, serving those meals to the devotees, and washing pots in the kitchen (the latter was my favourite service).

Eventually, though, it became clear to me that I couldn’t delay any longer. On 15th August, three days after the most blissful Janmāṣṭamī festival that I’ve experienced in this lifetime, I left the shelter of the Manor and returned to my family home.

When I saw the picture of Rādhā Gokulānanda that we have on the wall in our living room, it was almost too much for my heart to bear, but in that moment of heartbreak I felt closer to Their Lordships than I’d ever felt when I’d been living in Their house. During the first day or two, my eyes were like rainclouds, but at some point the storm of tears subsided.

Categories
Poetry

I Once Loved You

You were once everything to me,
The dearest treasure of my heart.
How could I let such a jewel
Slip like sand through my fingers?

Somehow I must have fallen
Into a well of insanity.
Why else would I have turned
My back on You so easily?

Having deprived myself
Of Your association,
I have suffered and suffered,
Lifetime after lifetime.

You were once dearer to me
Than the air I now breathe,
And loving You came
So naturally to me.

Some infinitesimal
Trace of that love
Must still remain
In the depths of my heart.

Why else would my eyes
Fill to the brim with tears
When descriptions of You dance
In the courtyard of my ears?

Categories
Reflections

LIX: SHE’S NOT FOR YOU

Diary entry dated 9th July 2020:

Since I’m transitioning from the brahmacārī ashram to household life, I’ve been thinking more seriously about relationships. I’ve never actually been in a relationship, so I can’t claim to be any kind of authority on the subject, but I know one thing for certain – I never want to be in a relationship based solely on material attraction. Such attraction steals away one’s intelligence and makes one do stupid things, as I have experienced many, many times.

Due to material attraction, I’ve often found myself asking pointless questions or making rubbish jokes, simply so that I can speak to an attractive young lady for a little longer. And afterwards, I always think to myself with amusement, “Nikhil, that was such a stupid thing to say!”

I remember one instance where I saw a young lady that I’d been attracted to for a while, and I thought to myself, “If you look closely, she’s not actually that attractive.” But about a minute later, I saw her again and thought, “Wow, she’s beautiful.” I had to laugh to myself at how ridiculous the whole thing was.

Most of the time, I’m walking around thinking, “I’m such an advanced devotee! Have you not heard my amazing singing? I’m the man!”

But as soon as I’m in front of someone that I’m attracted to, my external mood becomes, “Hare Kṛṣṇa, please accept my most humble obeisances at your lotus feet.”

At this point, my mind might say, “Humble obeisances? But I thought you said that you’re the man?”

Categories
Poetry

He’s So Kind…

Listen closely to Śrīla Prabhupāda,
Drink in every word:
“Kṛṣṇa demands that first of all surrender.
Caitanya Mahāprabhu does not demand surrender. He’s so kind…
So, take shelter of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and be happy.” [1]

Take shelter of the son of Mother Śacī,
Whose complexion is like molten gold.
Let Him reside in the temple of your heart,
And feel the magic unfold.

He’s so kind…

It pains His heart
To see us suffering,
So out of compassion,
He gave us this chanting.

He’s so kind…

He says, “These names of Kṛṣṇa
Are supremely sweet.
Just chant them constantly
And make your life complete.”

He’s so kind…

Categories
Poetry

A Friend Like No Other

My dear friend, it’s me.
I know that You’ve been calling,
And I’m sorry I’ve ignored You
For lifetime after lifetime.

Dear Kṛṣṇa, You are truly
A friend like no other.
For You have stayed by my side,
Despite endless rejection.

My dear friend, I’m here,
I’m calling out Your name.
I know that You can hear me.
Can we start again?

For too long have I served
My insatiable senses.
Such service only leads
To suffering and pain.

Categories
Poetry

Chant Like a Cow

Follow the example of the cow,
Bothered by so many flies.
Again and again they come to her,
And assault nose, mouth and eyes.

Mother cow pays little attention,
Though the flies may be unkind.
Such tolerance is a quality
That can bring us peace of mind.

When we chant, so many thoughts
Swarm around us like flies.
Although we try to swat them away,
Their determination never dies.

When we chant, distractions come
To assault our senses and mind,
But if we learn to tolerate them,
They will lose their power to bind.

Categories
Reflections

LVIII: TWO JEWELS

Diary entry dated 25th June 2020:

Over the last few days, I’ve been making a conscious effort to be more mindful of Kṛṣṇa whilst chanting, as my japa is usually mechanical and mindless. We all have an eternal relationship with Kṛṣṇa, and I’ve found that meditating on this fact really helps me to connect with He who is actually the dearest friend of all living entities. I like to tell Him, “Dearest Kṛṣṇa, I am Yours and You are mine. I am Your eternal servant, and You are my worshipable Lord.”

This afternoon, I had the great fortune of being able to chant some japa while standing before the ever-merciful Śrī Śrī Rādhā Gokulānanda. At one point, I noticed that some of the sequins on Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī’s dress were shining very brightly. You might say that this was simply because they were reflecting the sunlight, which would be a perfectly acceptable explanation.

However, the Divine Couple are the source of sunlight, the Sun, and everything else. Also, the effulgence that emanates from Rādhārāṇī’s body is such that it puts even the Sun to shame (although I’m currently unable to perceive this due to my lack of spiritual vision). Perhaps it was this effulgence that the sequins were reflecting?

Categories
Reflections

LVII: BY HER GRACE

“O You who are filled with compassion! O You whose divine characteristics are described by the great sages Sanaka and Sanātana! O Rādhā, please be merciful to me!”

— Śrī Rādhikā-stava, Verse 3,
By Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī

Diary entry dated 19th April 2020:

This morning during Maṅgala-ārati, we got an extra special darśana of the Deities. Śrī Gokulānanda’s right foot, which is crossed over His left foot in such a way that you can see the sole, was completely covered up by the hem of Rādhārāṇī’s dress. It almost looked as though Kṛṣṇa was wearing a pink sock – perhaps His foot felt a little cold in the early morning, so Rādhārāṇī lent Him some of Her dress to keep Him warm!

Categories
Reflections

LVI: IF HE HAD NOT COME

Diary entry dated 4th April 2020:

This morning, I was listening to some kīrtana tracks which used very contemporary genres of music as a medium by which to share the holy name with listeners. The names of the Lord are constantly expanding their influence across the world, and nothing can stop this expansion, for it is Kṛṣṇa’s desire that His name be heard in every town and city.

I reflected that this had all been made possible by Śrīla Prabhupāda. He changed the world in such a profound way, and continues to do so even now. In a mood of gratitude to Prabhupāda, I wish to share my Vyāsa-pūjā offering for 2019 (dated 24th August):

Categories
Reflections

LV: GREAT EXPECTATIONS

The following is adapted from a class on Bhagavad-gītā 8.9 which I gave at Bhaktivedanta Manor on 30th April 2019:

Bhagavad-gītā 8.9

kaviṁ purāṇam anuśāsitāram
aṇor aṇīyāṁsam anusmared yaḥ
sarvasya dhātāram acintya-rūpam
āditya-varṇaṁ tamasaḥ parastāt

“One should meditate upon the Supreme Person as the one who knows everything, as He who is the oldest, who is the controller, who is smaller than the smallest, who is the maintainer of everything, who is beyond all material conception, who is inconceivable, and who is always a person. He is luminous like the sun, and He is transcendental, beyond this material nature.”

In this verse, Kṛṣṇa is described in many ways, but Śrīla Prabhupāda states in his Purport that the most important thing is that Kṛṣṇa is a person – the word rūpam indicates that the Lord has a form. He is not a formless, impersonal entity. However, His form is described as acintya, or inconceivable.

Because we only have experience of what people are like in the material world, many find it difficult to accept that the Lord is a person. Their argument is that people are imperfect – they have faults and make mistakes – but the Supreme being is perfect, so He cannot be a person. However, this argument is refuted in this verse. Kṛṣṇa is beyond all material conception, so we cannot understand Him based on such conceptions. The Lord has a form, but that form is not made of matter – it is completely spiritual. It is sac-cid-ānanda, which means that it is eternal, full of knowledge, and full of bliss.

In a lecture which Śrīla Prabhupāda gave in London on 26th August 1973, he said, “Unless we accept this principle that Kṛṣṇa, or God, has got inconceivable power, acintya-śakti, we cannot understand. If we put Kṛṣṇa within the jurisdiction of my limited understanding, that is not understanding of Kṛṣṇa.”

In other words, real understanding of Kṛṣṇa means accepting that there are things about Him which can never be fully understood.

Another interesting point that I took from this verse is that Kṛṣṇa doesn’t have to match our expectations of what He should be like or how He should act. After all, He is a person, not a mindless machine. Śacīnandana Swami says that “Kṛṣṇa is known again and again to jump out of all the limited conceptions we humans impose upon Him.” If we try to put Kṛṣṇa in a box, we will become bewildered or confused. These days, we are all told to think outside the box – well, Kṛṣṇa is so far beyond the box that you can’t even see where the box is!