Another semi-legitimate way to confirm existence of a Deity is to have it come to you in a dream. Never happened to me but there are historical examples even in Chaitanya Charitamrita. Pundarika Vidyanidhi got beaten up by Lord Jagannatha in his dream, and Rupa Goswami had Satyabhama appear before him and give him instructions on his writings.
Today I was just thinking how I haven’t seen a big, engaging dream in a long while and then I realized that actually today’s dream was pretty good in itself, and it was about Lord Jagannath to boot.
During the whole dream I was wondering what I understood to be Puri but there was very little spiritual about the place. It was more like a post urban landscape and the temple was on the beach, with it’s back in the water, and it was kind of small, and it hosted some other Deity, not Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra, but that didn’t bother me.
There was no discrimination of who can see the Deity whatsoever, the Pandas where too busy ushering the crowds past the altar, giving everyone a flower and a smudge on the forehead. It didn’t impress me at all, it wasn’t any kind of dream revelation, just another temple, nothing special. Right next to it, accessible from the beach with its back in the water, there was a temple of Kali and it was equally crowded but I gave it a pass.
The most interesting part of the dream was meeting a couple of devotees I knew many years ago a few hundred meters away from the temple. The first one was resting under a parasol, smiling the biggest smile one could imagine, and he didn’t age even a bit. I introduced myself and he remembered me but he wasn’t moved even a little, he just shrugged me off. “Yes, I know who you are, Hare Krishna and everything, but I don’t really care.”
I was a bit perplexed by such a cold reception but more on that later. The second devotee was also there but he was playing mridanga with a group of locals and I approached him as soon as he finished kirtan. He was a big mridanga player back in the day and even got himself a spot on Aindra Prabhu’s 24-hour kirtan team before Aindra was cool, as hipsters would say.
He didn’t even look at me. “Yes, I know who you are, but I’m kind of busy at the moment so if you just move over so that I can continue on my way somewhere really important.”
Once again, not the kind of reception I was hoping for but I wasn’t disappointed at all. I somehow knew that big reunions with hugs and tears are stuff for the books, I’m not Vidura and they are not Maitreya, we are not living in the past and we are all quite indifferent to it. Sentimentality has no value, living in the moment is real, but, most importantly, there’s nothing special to remember about me. No one would look at me and remember the best years of his life, showers of Lord Chaitanya’s mercy and Vaikuntha all around. It would be just “meh” and that’s what I got.
According to the dream, however, there was another reason for such detachment.
This dream was a continuation of another dream I saw many months ago. In that dream I was traveling to South India, from Puri all the way down to Singapore (screwed geography, I know), and when I was fed up and tired I would return home. Then, after a few months, I would become restless to go on the road again.
The consequence of all this traveling is that I didn’t have a home. Wherever I was, I was just visiting. I obviously wasn’t born in India and I was a guest there, and when at “home” I would imply that I’ve built myself a new life over there and that’s where I live now so I don’t need to stick with you people, I draw my strength, both spiritual and material, elsewhere.
So, in continuation of that dream, devotees that I met were on their annual pilgrimage to India, visiting Puri a week or two before going to Mayapur. For them I was nomad who betrayed their mission back at home, a person without roots, a dog without a master, so they didn’t care.
There’s a lot of truth to this attitude. On one hand we should welcome detachment from any particular place including place of one’s birth and putting down the roots is actually putting down the seeds of our new karma, prelude to having a next life. Nomads are good, they are almost like sannyasis, so why a cold shoulder?
Because as devotees we are always a part of a community and we are always a part of hierarchy. We do not exist in vacuum and our value as devotees lies in our superiors. As devotees we cannot live life of our own, we cannot be dogs without masters, we cannot be our own bosses. Living such an independent life is a falldown. Maybe not in terms of not following the regs or not chanting our rounds but in terms of following orders of our guru, which usually come to us through the chain of local authorities.
Without an order from his authority a devotee is nothing, not even a devotee. We are not nomads, we are servants of our superiors, if we don’t serve we are fallen.
One could say that this is a materialistic consideration, that on the spiritual level we would always be a part of a community regardless of how we live our lives here. We want to be a part of spiritual hierarchy in the spiritual world, we should not identify ourselves with our material bodies and their places in the society.
That’s true, but even as material bodies we do not exist in the vacuum, we were approached by devotees in their material bodies and we were saved by them and by our guru appearing before our material eyes. As we do not have any direct spiritual experience this is all we have for now and for the foreseeable future.
To become successful devotees we should engage our material bodies in service of our material looking authorities, there’s no other way.
That’s why if you are not engaged in such service other devotees are not very impressed, and in this dream it happened to me.
I wonder if there will be a third installment in this series. Somehow my dream mind builds itself an entirely new life with its own karma and then follows it.
If that was Krishna’s arrangement for me to exhaust my real karma so that I don’t have to go through this particular life experience for real, it would be awesome. I’ve never seen anything like that described in shastra but it’s a cool idea that makes total sense. I think Srila Prabhupada said something once along those lines, too.
Need to investigate further.