Yesterday I complained about mundane flavors emanating from outwardly vaiṣṇava news and articles. This is unavoidable and, in fact, it’s absolutely necessary for our purification, so there’s nothing to complain or criticize there.
We are attracted by rasa, our mind and senses are simply instruments in this enjoyment. As devotees we need to connect this experience of rasa with Kṛṣṇa, pretty much like we need to offer food and then consume it as prasādam. We are not renunciates in the common sense of the word – we do not reject the world and all the feelings and emotions that come with it, we only need to connect them with Kṛṣṇa, and places like Dandavats provide a platform for the rasas concerned with news and politics.
Instead of complaining and rejecting it we shouldn’t have it any other way. Yesterday I said that I don’t read it anymore, which is a rejection, so I obviously need to defend or explain this choice. There’s an explanation but I’ll leave it for another day. What interests me today is real spiritual gems found there that can’t be found anywhere else.
Take this assignment given to Satsvarūpa Dāsa Gosvāmī – to write daily meditations on Śrīla Prabhupāda from now (started in October) until the end of the next year. It’s a massive undertaking, if you think about it, and I was surprised that Mahārāja felt physically up to it and agreed to take it on. When I was reading Satsvarūpa Gosvāmī’s daily blog a few years ago I was under the impression that his health was really bad and his mind was gradually losing its clarity.
He wasn’t become senile, he aged beautifully, with all vestiges of material life being daily squeezed out of his consciousness. All that was left was devotion to Kṛṣṇa and Prabhupāda and it couldn’t be constrained by the limitations of his body. I thought he was on the verge of entering into samādhi, with all his bodily functions reduced to a minimum so as not to interrupt his meditation. Apparently, it didn’t happen yet and Mahārāja still does a lot of writing and painting. Maybe Kṛṣṇa needed his body in good working order so that he could write these wonderful Prabhupāda meditations.
Whatever I said earlier about mundane rasas seeping out of our devotional articles is inapplicable here. There’s absolutely nothing selfish and enjoyable in these meditations. There’s nothing to feel great about like when someone else is writing about meeting celebrities or building tallest temples or becoming famous by holding Ratha Yatras. There’s nothing that could please ourselves, only what could please guru and Kṛṣṇa.
Satsvarūpa Maharaja’s submissions are completely devoid of mundane rasa and at the same time filled with nectar. It’s the nectar of Prabhupāda’s pastimes, nectar of Prabhupāda’s devotion, nectar of complete and selfless dedication to the mission of guru and Lord Caitanya. We are not invited to enjoy ourselves but to partake in the enjoyment of our spiritual superiors, which is ultimately Kṛṣṇa’s pleasure. There are so many rasas added on the way, too – by Prabhupāda, by his guru Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī, and especially by Lord Caitanya who gave us the nectar of saṅkīrtana.
This illustrates how spiritual life is full of rasa but none of it is ours, it’s all Kṛṣṇa’s and His devotees’. We foolishly think that we can use the same rasa for our own pleasure and be better off. We indulge in sex life, we stuff our faces with food, we play music with headphones on so that it’s strictly for our enjoyment, we think it will work, and yet it doesn’t. All these gratifications are incomparably small to the rasa we get to experience in serving Kṛṣṇa’s pleasure instead of our own.
Unfortunately, most of the time we are locked out of experiencing it. It’s very very rare to have someone extend us an invitation and share the nectar of his own service. Mahārāja does it extremely well here, I can’t imagine how anyone would fail to appreciate it, thought I suppose there are people so full of envy and ignorance that it would go straight past them. If we presented it to them they’d say “Challenge accepted” and proceed to criticize Mahārāja’s writings, which will eternally deprive them of any spiritual advancement. These topics should be presented only to a qualified audience.
Some of these meditations are thought provoking and deserve discussing in detail, I might use them as a springboard in the future posts here.
Another gem, actually, a category of gems, is this article by Indadyumna Svāmī about disappearance of his mother. Indradyumna Mahārāja has contributed plenty of spiritually inspiring stuff where he doesn’t simply share happenings in his life but rather his devotional interpretations of them. I think it’s his disciples who contribute the best of his articles on his Traveling Monk blog. They are not stories about what happened in his travels but rather stories of Kṛṣṇa showing mercy to people around him, one soul at a time. Sometimes it’s about places that inspire people to worship God but mostly it’s about people and their personal spiritual discoveries.
Hmm, the blog is called TRAVELING Monk but it’s not about traveling to places, it’s about traveling to people. It just so happens that to inspire these transformations Mahārāja has to move his physical body from one corner of the Earth to another. And because he has no interest in his personal experiences and how this traveling makes HIM feel he doesn’t share any mundane rasas, he only shares people’s excitement from meeting Kṛṣṇa.
This time he didn’t have to travel, however, his previous preaching work caught up with him. He tried to introduce his mother to Kṛṣṇa consciousness all his devotional life but without any success, she was too “rational” to surrender to a deity. Then she got cancer.
It changes people’s outlook on life and forces them to re-evaluate their most basic assumptions. Often they start taking it far more seriously than us with our years of chanting but little progress. This realization that body has become unreliable and we need to seek other means of existence is very powerful, it doesn’t usually happen to healthy people. It’s like the illusion is suddenly pulled out from under our feet. We, the healthy, can’t see this illusion for what it is yet, we can’t imagine the world in which our bodies do not provide shelter, we haven’t left bodily consciousness yet.
Indradyumna Mahārāja’s mother was lucky. She got a fair warning and the means of liberation, thanks to her devotee son. I hope the same thing happens to my mother, too, but so far there’s little indication she is going to take Kṛṣṇa consciousness seriously. She still considers it a foreign religion, she’s got to stay with her people and be Christian. I’d rather her try to become a Christian now, see that it’s practically useless, and then get a serious religion when the time comes. So far she seems to be leaving it all for the last moment.
Anyway, the point was that there are some very enlightening stories among piles of not very enlightening ones, and these stories won’t appear anywhere else but on devotional sites, and not on any sites but only on those that are authorized by Prabhupāda’s representatives – GBC. Any site that doesn’t have Prabhupāda’s authorization can’t produce anything of spiritual value, just mental constructions as poor substitutes. This is getting a bit sectarian and I don’t want to argue about it today, but it’s the basic fact of spiritual life – it awakens only by the mercy of the guru and not by any other means.