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Kartik Reflections 2019

X: ALWAYS DEPEND ON HIM

Since there is nothing that is beyond His power, there’s no one better to depend on than Kṛṣṇa. When the cowherd boys of Vṛndāvana came across the demon Aghāsura, who had taken on the form of a giant python and whose open mouth resembled a vast cave that stretched up into the clouds, they were unafraid to enter the demon’s mouth. In fact, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 10.12.24 mentions that the cowherd boys laughed loudly and clapped their hands as they entered Aghāsura’s mouth. They had full faith that Kṛṣṇa would protect them, and thus they felt no fear.

When we are completely dependent on Kṛṣṇa, we become fearless and are willing to take on any risk in order to share Kṛṣṇa consciousness with others. On our own, we cannot achieve much, but if we allow Kṛṣṇa to use us as His instrument, we will be able to achieve incredible things. Śrīla Prabhupāda is the perfect example of this; because he was fully surrendered to Kṛṣṇa and desired only to serve Him, Prabhupāda achieved far more than any ordinary person could ever dream of achieving.

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Kartik Reflections 2019

IX: TULASĪ’S MERCY

“Vṛṣabhānu’s daughter, Rādhā, made you guardian of Kṛṣṇa’s opulent and auspicious abode of Vṛndāvana, the crest jewel of all Vaikuṇṭha planets. O Vṛnda, I bow to your lotus feet.”

— Śrī Vṛndadevyāṣṭakaṁ, Verse 3,
By Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura

During Kartik, the focus is very much on the childhood pastimes that Kṛṣṇa performed in Gokula and Vṛndāvana. It is a time when devotees try to cultivate the mood of Vṛndāvana — a mood of sweetness — within their hearts.

Śrīla Prabhupāda once said, “Wherever there is Tulasī, it is Vṛndāvana.” This reveals a relatively simple way to create the atmosphere of Vṛndāvana: worshipping and caring for Tulasī-devī. The tulasī plant is an expansion of Vṛnda-devī, who is the guardian of Vṛndāvana; no one can set foot in that holiest of holy places without her permission.

This can practically be seen at the Manor — before arriving at the temple (which is non-different to Vṛndāvana, being the residence of Śrī Śrī Rādhā Gokulānanda), visitors must drive past the tulasī greenhouse, which is presided over by a Deity of Vṛnda-devī. So if you manage to reach the temple building, you should understand that she, out of her great mercy, has given you permission to do so.

From personal experience, I have found that Vṛnda-devī is one of the most merciful and compassionate personalities at the Manor. Since she is an expansion of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, I consider her to be my mother, and just like a mother, she always gives me comfort when I’m going through struggles in my spiritual life.

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Kartik Reflections 2019

VIII: KṚṢṆA NEVER FORGETS

“And whoever, at the end of his life, quits his body remembering Me alone at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.”

— Bhagavad-gītā 8.5

In this verse, Kṛṣṇa explains that if one remembers Him at the time of death, they are immediately transferred to His transcendental abode. However, if His devotee is somehow unable to remember Him at that crucial moment, Kṛṣṇa is so kind that He personally intervenes.

In the Varāha Purāṇa, the Lord says, “If My devotee is not able to remember Me at the time of death because of the great disturbances felt within the body at that time, then I shall remember My devotee and take him back to the spiritual world.”

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Kartik Reflections 2019

VII: THE PAIN OF REGRET

“O Lord Hari, I have spent my life uselessly. Although I have obtained a human birth, I have not worshipped Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, and thus I have knowingly drunk poison.”

— Iṣṭa-Deve Vijñapti, Verse 1,
By Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura

Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura is a pure devotee of the Lord, and whilst he was on this planet he spent his entire life engaged in service to the Divine Couple. However, due to his profound humility, he genuinely felt that he had not worshipped Them at all and had therefore wasted his life.

I have been living at Bhaktivedanta Manor for two years now, and those years have flown by, dragged away by the fierce currents of time. Already, the sun of complacency has arisen in my heart and caused some of my initial enthusiasm to evaporate.

Śrīla Prabhupāda has given me the precious gift of devotional service, but I am letting that gift slip through my fingers. This is because my desire for sense gratification is currently greater than my desire for Kṛṣṇa. Prabhupāda has shown me the stars, yet I continue to crawl in the mud, revelling in illusory pleasure. I therefore pray to him as follows:

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Kartik Reflections 2019

VI: NO VALUE WITHOUT KṚṢṆA

“Your vitality is real when God is pleased with it.
Beauty is true when it delights Him.
A head has value when it bows at His feet,
And a heart is a heart if it touches Him.”

These words from Rasakhan, a 16th-century Muslim-born poet and devotee of Kṛṣṇa, illustrate an important point: the purpose of our existence is to serve the Lord with devotion.

In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 10.80.3, Parīkṣit Mahārāja says, “Actual speech is that which describes the qualities of the Lord, real hands are those that work for Him, a true mind is that which always remembers Him dwelling within everything moving and non-moving, and actual ears are those that listen to sanctifying topics about Him.”

This means that unless we engage our body, mind and senses in the service of Kṛṣṇa, they have no value. And because the natural position of every soul is to serve the Lord, nothing else can truly satisfy us.

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Kartik Reflections 2019

V: THE SWEET TASTE OF DEVOTION

A few weeks ago, I was asked, “If Kṛṣṇa is God, why does He need to eat?”

I replied, “Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Lord and has no need to eat anything. When He eats, it isn’t because He requires nourishment, but because He wants to relish the love and devotion with which the food was prepared. In essence, it’s an exchange of love between Kṛṣṇa and His devotees. The Lord explains in the Bhagavad-gītā that when something is offered to Him with love, He happily accepts it.”

One might also ask, “Why does Kṛṣṇa steal butter? Everything in this world belongs to Him, so why does He feel the need to steal His own property?”

Well, that butter is imbued with the intense love of the cowherd women, and He wants to taste that love. He also does it to increase the pleasure of His devotees — despite knowing full well that Kṛṣṇa will keep sneaking into their homes in order to take some, the cowherd women never decide to stop churning butter, for they relish His sweet childhood pastimes.

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Kartik Reflections 2019

IV: AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE

When we reflect on the countless things that Kṛṣṇa has given us and express our heartfelt gratitude to Him, He instantly feels a lot closer. Kṛṣṇa is the only one who truly knows what is best for us, and He gives us exactly what we need to make progress on our journey back to Him.

There is a divine plan behind everything that happens to us, but if we don’t have faith then we won’t be able to realise this. When we learn to trust in Kṛṣṇa’s plan, a profound sense of contentment arises in our heart.

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Kartik Reflections 2019

III: THE TOPMOST RICHES

In his summary of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 10.11, Śrīla Prabhupāda writes, “One day a fruit vendor approached Nanda Mahārāja’s house, and Kṛṣṇa gathered some food grains with His little palms and went to the vendor to exchange the grains for fruit. On the way, almost all the grains fell from His palms, only one or two grains remaining, but the fruit vendor, out of full affection, accepted these grains in exchange for as much fruit as Kṛṣṇa could take. As soon as she did this, her basket became filled with gold and jewels.”

This pastime illustrates the fact that when you give to Kṛṣṇa with love and affection, you lose nothing and gain everything. Indeed, you obtain Kṛṣṇa Himself.

And in one lecture, Prabhupāda says, “Caitanya Mahāprabhu concludes that we are after riches. He says that Kṛṣṇa, devotional service, and love of Kṛṣṇa, these three items are the topmost riches in life.”

During the month of Kartik, when divine mercy flows down upon us like a rushing river, these riches are more readily available. So we should take advantage of this opportunity and give whatever we can to Kṛṣṇa.

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Kartik Reflections 2019

II: A THOUSAND STEPS

Śrīla Prabhupāda said that when you take one step towards Kṛṣṇa, He takes ten steps towards you. But I have experienced that when you help someone else to take a step towards Kṛṣṇa, He takes a thousand steps towards you.

If a child went missing and then someone found them and reunited them with their parents, the parents would naturally be very pleased with that person. In the same way, if we tell others about Kṛṣṇa and help them to revive their lost relationship with Him, Kṛṣṇa’s kind heart will swell with gratitude and He will make His presence in our lives a lot more noticeable.

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Kartik Reflections 2019

I: EVERY LIVING ENTITY IS WORTHY OF LOVE

This morning, I spent some time chanting in front of a large picture of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī that is hanging on one of the walls in the Manor ashram. Her smiling face seemed to be radiating love, and I couldn’t stop myself from telling Her, “I have acted so sinfully. I don’t deserve such love.”

I heard no words, but in my heart Her response made itself known: “A parent doesn’t consider whether their child deserves their love. They just love them.”

Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa love all of Their children unconditionally, so we should never feel unworthy of Their love. A loving relationship with the Divine Couple is the birthright of every living entity.

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