My mother’s aunt was a devotee of Gauranga Mahaprabhu. In my childhood she read out to me episodes from his life. I remember the book had pictures in colours. When I was in middle school ,my uncle joined the Ramakrushna order and interest shifted to Ramakrushna.
I went to Banaras for engineering studies. My Bengali friend there taught me Bengali .He said a person is not cultured unless he learnt Bengali and studied Bengali literature. I had an English version of Tagore’s Geethaanjali. I could now read it in original Bengali. And then I met a girl from my native place down south. She had come to Bengal as a child. All her education was in Bengali, her tastes were Bengali. She sang Bengali. I married her after I finished my studies five years later. Luckily I was posted in Calcutta. She taught me Bengali bhajans. Finally she put me deep in Chaitanya and Ramakrushna lore. She would read passages from lives of these two Avatara Purushas of Bengal. We shared our interest for 52 years. It is a blessing to read in original words of great saints in their original dialect.
In our club we had many functions including Keertan. Singing and dancing with arms raised. But then it was merely a social event. The other day when I attended to aarati in ISKCON mandir in Hillsborrough . I felt I was in Nadia. A small international crowd of devotees. That made me look back and hence this short write up.
What is this Krushna Consciousness? Same as Christ Consciouness. Living in Krushnamayajagat( world) ? Tanmayanishtaa? This what the Lord said in Geethaa-Yatkaroshiyadashnaashiyajjuhosidadaasaiyat |Yattapasyasikaunteyatatkurushamadarpanam || Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer as oblation, whatever you give , whatever tapasyaa you do, do all as offerings to Me, O Kaunteya. We should all rise up as Kauntheyas. Geethaa talks of various Yogas. The Lord defines Yoga as skill in actions.(yogahkarmasukoushalam.) Towards the end of His discourse, in the last chapter He sums up – ||Swakarmanaatamabhyarchasidhimvindatimaananavah || Worshipping HIM in whatever you do, you attain salvation. So simple as that. Keep Him in mind all through.
We go to temple to pray. But we must invite Him to come home. He is eager to come to our prayer room at home and finally into our hearts. He is ready to sit whatever you want Him to stay. Meeraa sang-I will sit wherever You want me to sit. HE will sit wherever you offer Him a seat. Why, He is standing on a brick thrown into the courtyard by devotee Pundaleeka who was busy in the service of aged parents in the hut inside. He could not come out and the Lord waited outside standing on a brick , with His palms on the waist. Go and see Him in Pandaraapur. He is still there , standing.
We make watertight compartments between duty and worship. Eliminate the barrier. Work is worship is common motto. Convert it into-Work AS worship. In Bengal ,Maa means mother but they address goddesses Durgaa and Kaalee as MAA. Devotion blended with love as to mother at home. At home they call mother as Maa, with affection and love, blended with devotion. Sweet blend. When you hearMaa from a Bengali’s mouth, you feel joy, peace and bliss in your heart.
You work at home with love for the family, out of filial duty. In office you work bound by duty with a sense of detachment. You, are unconcerned about result of your work. Break the barrier. Duty at home and office should both be in the spirit of service to god. Attachment to work and the results thereof , attachment to family should also be given up. Have a simple and common relationship at home and office as between children of ONE God in heaven. A devotee father is related to a devotee son on basis of devotion to God. No other criterion. We grew up with the belief “blood is thicker than water” but now it is become “money is thicker than blood”. It is difficult to adopt universal brotherhood. ISKCON has showed the way to mix with each other- sing in praise of God, singing with arms raised.
Jesus said- Forsake thy parents and come to Me . Later He said- Love thy neighbor. Reconcile the two . Give up attachment to family. Since God is not seen you are directed to the neighbour as representative of god. You do not give up family. Just expand the family. We are all children of one God.
Sow the seed of devotion early in the heart of your child. Let it sprout andyou nurture it into maturity. When God takes him over , you are free to raise your arms and sing. The child will readily join you.A fellow devotee, a fellow pilgrim. Leaving wealth as legacy is no legacy. God is real wealth.
Don’t boast of your success in life because of your efforts. Tell the child-God helped me. Son may love you deeply but let him know early in life God is working behind.
When I was in high school , world war was raging. It was TOTAL WAR, as it were. Everything was war oriented. Films were on war episodes, even Tom and Jerrry cartoons on war, novels on war stories, games on war practices. Even in places of worship, talk was on war. Food shortage, ration shops, travel restrictions and so on took the life out of you. Krushna Consciousness is a total war-not based on fear and animosity but on love and devotion. Brotherhood. Not mere tolerance but acceptance.
Much effort is required to go towards god. Vyaasa had said- In Kaliyuga , naamasamkeerthana is easiest and efficacious. ISKCON is propagating this .
We feel work will suffer if I think of repeating god’s name in between. Try out and you will find by and by that your work will be done effortlessly. You will feel light in heart and light ( enlightenment ) in mind too. Has not the Lord said in Geethaa that you do nothing starting from breathing even which Science also calls an involuntary .( Of course, science has just covered up its ignorance. Scientist should study Kenopanishad). All your actions go as dictated by fate. If it is your fate , the works go on whether you like them or not. Janaka ruled a country wisely though a jnaani and not interested in kingship. God has a plan for everybody. Jesus came with a plan. Last days, He forecast the events preceding his departure. Being what He was He knew the future and He could have altered it. He did not do it. Naivakurvvannaabkaarayan, says Geethaa. Let the juggernaut of events move on.
On long roads with free flowing traffic in USA, why waste time- repeat God’s name or listen to cassettes of devotional music. You will find similar pockets in daily life to remember god rather than waste in frivolous thoughts. In this vast universe there is no dearth of space and time. Your brain has no limits. Fill it with God and His Leelaa.
My, grandfather lived in his God Madanantheshwara, deity in his village. He remembered God first thing when he woke up before sunrise and ended the day with prayer to his God. Right through his waking hours Madanantheshwara danced in and out. Everything was accepted and enjoyed with prasaadabhaava – sweet (good things) or sacred ashes( unsavoury events ) with folded cupped palms. Good things were acknowledged with gratitude. Unhappy events were taken in stride as justice meted by God . No complaints, no regrets. Only prayer was – give me whatever misery you think is due but give me strength stand up to it.
God was ON-LINE for my grandfather. My mother used to tell my father – “ Just listen to me. You need not reply. I will feel relieved ”. My grandfather reported everything then and there to his god . I believe God not only listened but answered him . When I was to leave home for higher studies to a place 4- days journey away I went to seek his blessings. He took me to the temple. After offering coconut and bananas to the deity, he stood at the door of sanctum sanctorum and told the priest, pointing a finger to god inside – Tell Him my grandson is going far away. He must take over responsibility to guide and guard him henceforward . ( as if He been not taking care of me all along.) Think of his faith – my grandfather pointing a finger at God and give a tall order . And God had accepted the order and guarded me all along. When I was hospitalized following a brutal , almost fatal assault during the first communist government, I have had no fear. I, knew Madanantheshwara was behind me. He has seen me through many difficult situations and filled my heart with joy in many ways.
Read of Radhaakrushna love lore. Read of their love for each other. Develop love for the divine couple and be blessed.
Well, when Vivekananda thundered in Chicago, Vedantha heralded conversions through brain. With the advent of Prabhupada, love of Krushna has converted more but through heart. Perhaps conversions to Hindu way of worship in us as is more than conversions in India by Christian who preach through empty stomachs of the illiterate poor. How I wish missionaries revert to Jesus’s words and spread his message through mind and heart ?
My sister came to visit us in Lucknow. Her son Sunil was 3 year old. My son was 9 years. He has placed his toys on top shelves, out of reach for Sunil. Sunil spotted a wooden cart toy and wanted it. His mother, sensing Devdas would be upset, said , “No Babu, it is covered with dust”. Silence for a minute. Sunil, ” I want that dirty cart !”. His mother said, “Its wheel is broken”. Sunil, “Mummy, give me the broken cart !” His attention could not be distracted. A man in Krushna Consciousness look normal, works normal but his mind is fixed on Krushna’s cart, I mean chariot !
Rock music pounds into your heart. You pick the rhytm and recite God’s name Rama or Shiva to that rhythm. Music goes inaudible and heart returns to normal, peaceful beats.
A mother has her ears tuned for a call for her child which gone out for play. She will hear it cry when injured. She rushes out. Olden days, when TVs were not there, we listened to radio commentary . Lot of disturbances , but we could concentrate and listen to the commentary. Concentrate on hearing good. Shut off ears to irrelevant things and ills of others. Your mind remains unperturbed and peaceful. If you concentrate deep enough, you can hear the inhaled and exhaled air in the lungs, blood rushing through veins and finally OM throbbing in your heart. Outer world of sounds is obliterated. Mind will hear sounds of relevant talks and actions initiated effortlessly.
Village maidens carry water filled pots on their heads. As they walk they talk merrily between themselves but their mind is concentrated on the pots. As you drive you concentrate on the road ahead although talking to others in the car. On planes when visibility is poor the pilot goes to auto-pilot and sits back relaxed. Krushna Consciousness is surrendering controls to Krushna. Safe journey in life.
Blessed are the village maidens. They have seen Shiva – as told in Rudraprashna.