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Reflections

XLVIII: A SLICE OF HUMBLE PIE

“Humility means that you are convinced beyond any doubt that there is nothing in this world, absolutely nothing in this world, not your money, not your family, not your fame, not your gun, not your education, nothing that will save you except the mercy of Kṛṣṇa. When you are convinced like this, then you are humble.”

— Śrīla Prabhupāda (as recalled by Hari Vilāsa dāsa)

Diary entry dated 20th November 2019:

Every day, I am very much aware of my lack of humility and how it is preventing me from making significant progress in my spiritual life. Today, two little incidents occurred which were no doubt arranged by Kṛṣṇa to help me develop some humility.

In the morning, I was asked to sing the maṅgala-ārati prayers. When I got to the second half of the first verse, I somehow forgot the words, even though I had my temple song book open in front of me! The same thing happened when I got to the second half of the second verse. In Bhagavad-gītā 15.15, Kṛṣṇa says, mattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaṁ ca. This means that He is the source of remembrance, knowledge, and forgetfulness. My talent for singing has caused me to become prideful, so I suspect that Kṛṣṇa arranged for me to forget the words in order to humble me.

Then, in the afternoon, I went to the kitchen to set aside some prasādam for the Mind Body Soul programme that would be taking place later. One of the cooks was taking some rice out of a tray, and I noticed that they dropped a handful of rice on the floor as they did so. Not realising what had happened, they turned their attention to other things.

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Reflections

XLVII: EQUAL TO ALL

“The almighty Lord greeted everyone present by bowing His head, exchanging greetings, embracing, shaking hands, looking and smiling, giving assurances and awarding benedictions, even to the lowest in rank.”

— Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.11.22

Diary entry dated 19th November 2019:

In this morning’s class, which was on the verse above, a very interesting point was made. When those who were opposed to Kṛṣṇa heard the sound of His conch on the battlefield of Kurukṣetra, they felt great fear. But when the Lord’s devotees heard the same sound upon His return to Dvārakā, they became very joyful and ran towards Him.

In his Purport to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.11.3, Śrīla Prabhupāda explains that the residents of Dvārakā were “in a state of melancholy due to the Lord’s absence from the transcendental city, as much as we are put in a state of melancholy at night because of the absence of the sun. The sound heralded by Lord Kṛṣṇa was something like the heralding of the sunrise in the morning. So all the citizens of Dvārakā awoke from a state of slumber because of the sunrise of Kṛṣṇa, and they all hastened towards Him just to have an audience.”

Kṛṣṇa is equal to all, but people see Him in different ways depending on their consciousness. He is the friend of all beings, but those who are absorbed in material consciousness are unable to recognise this, and sometimes become antagonistic towards the Lord. Yet despite their antagonism, He remains their greatest friend and well-wisher.

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Reflections

XLVI: SPRING CLEANING

“To be inwardly clean one should always be absorbed in thoughts of Kṛṣṇa.”

— Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 23.109, Purport

Diary entry dated 14th November 2019:

Today, I gave the evening Bhagavad-gītā class in the temple room, and I spoke about how we can become internally pure.

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu refers to the chanting of Kṛṣṇa’s holy name with the words ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanaṁ. This means that the chanting cleanses our heart of all the dust that has accumulated over many lifetimes. The soul is a completely pure entity untouched by lust, envy and other vices, but we have forgotten this fact due to our mistaken belief that we are the body. Chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra reawakens our natural purity.

Once all the dust of material conditioning has been removed from the mirror of our heart, we’ll be able to see ourselves as we really are: pure and eternal servants of Kṛṣṇa. We’ll also be able to see how everything around us relates to Kṛṣṇa.

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Reflections

XLV: LAND OF MY HEART

Diary entry dated 10th November 2019:

This morning’s class at the Manor covered a series of verses from Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta. In one of those verses, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu says, “Where is Śrī Kṛṣṇa, whose form is curved in three places? Where is the sweet song of His flute, and where is the bank of the Yamunā? Where is the rāsa dance? Where is that dancing, singing and laughing? Where is My Lord, Madana-mohana, the enchanter of Cupid?” (Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 2.56)

Here, Caitanya Mahāprabhu is lamenting due to feelings of intense separation from Kṛṣṇa and the land of Vṛndāvana. It is mentioned elsewhere that He sometimes mistook the Ganges for the river Yamunā or mistook sand dunes for Govardhana Hill, and as a result became completely absorbed in devotional ecstasy.

On Sundays, a lot of guests come to the Manor, so the usual car park fills up quickly and the majority of cars are parked on the field nearest to the temple. Devotees are required to manage the field to make sure space is used optimally. Whilst doing that service earlier today, I saw a small stretch of water at the edge of the road and was reminded of the river Yamunā. For a fleeting moment, something stirred deep in my heart; as tears threatened to fall from my eyes, I thought to myself, where is He who wanders in the forests along the banks of the Yamunā?

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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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Prayers

Prayer XIV

My dear Rādhārāṇī, You are like a life-giving cloud, for You are always pouring the rains of Your mercy upon Your children. And during Kartik, those rains become a monsoon which lasts for an entire month.

O Mother, may all souls who turn to Kṛṣṇa during this month become drenched by the monsoon rains of Your mercy. And as they offer lamps to Your beloved, please ignite the lamp of devotion within their hearts.

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Prayers

Prayer XVIII

My dear Lord Nityānanda, Your lotus feet became the shelter for Jagāi and Mādhāi, two of the greatest sinners, and by Your mercy they became great devotees of the Supreme Lord.

I have been absorbed in sinful activities for countless lifetimes, so I take shelter of those same lotus feet. O Nitāi, please take pity upon me! Only a drop of Your mercy can bring peace to my tormented heart!

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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: