Vanity thought #658. Body of bliss?

It’s half way through the year until the next month of Damodara lila but I’ve just came across a verse from Bhagavatam that made me look at it in a new way, and I think I know why – Srila Prabhupada gave it a slightly different translation when it appeared in Chaitanya Charitamrita (Madhya 19.205)

Although Kṛṣṇa is beyond sense perception and is unmanifest to human beings, he takes up the guise of a human being with a material body. Thus mother Yaśodā thought Him to be her son, and she bound Lord Kṛṣṇa with rope to a wooden mortar, as if He were an ordinary child.

Compare this to the Bhagavatam translation (SB 10.9.13-14) that takes two verses together:

The Supreme Personality of Godhead has no beginning and no end, no exterior and no interior, no front and no rear. In other words, He is all-pervading. Because He is not under the influence of the element of time, for Him there is no difference between past, present and future; He exists in His own transcendental form at all times. Being absolute, beyond relativity, He is free from distinctions between cause and effect, although He is the cause and effect of everything. That unmanifested person, who is beyond the perception of the senses, had now appeared as a human child, and mother Yaśodā, considering Him her own ordinary child, bound Him to the wooden mortar with a rope.

The effect on me was strikingly different even if two versions say basically the same thing.

Krishna “takes up the guise of a human being with a material body”. Is that a body of bliss? Does it look like body of bliss?

We are always taught that His body is transcendental. When we remember this pastime we talk how Mother Yashoda couldn’t tie Him and her rope was always two fingers short. We also remember how she once looked into His mouth and saw the entire universe inside.

All through the Krishna book Srila Prabhupada convinces us about Krishna’s unique powers. How He could kill all those demons, how He could mess with Brahma by taking forms of all His cowherd friends and so on.

Elsewhere we are also constantly taught about transcendental nature of Krishna’s body. How His every limb cab perform functions of any other. How He can taste our offerings with His eyes and so on.

As a result I’ve come to think of Krishna’s body only as a fountain of magic and bliss and nothing less than that.

What Mother Yashoda saw, however, was a little naughty boy with sweat on his face, his maskara smeared all over by his tears, his feet were dirty and there was probably dirt under his toenails, too. I’m also sure his head smelled like that of an ordinary boy who played several hours in the sun (not of milk and cookies). I bet there was snot running down from his nose, too, and if it wasn’t “my” boy I wouldn’t have touched him with a pole.

There’s nothing transcendental or blissful about Krishna when His intimate devotees look at Him. This “transcendence” is only to impress devotees either on material platform or in shanta and dasya rasas on Vaikunthas. There’s no “transcendence” in Vrindavana.

Somehow universe in Krishna’s mouth didn’t register with Mother Yashoda and His friends weren’t very impressed with Krishna holding Govardhana on His little finger for a week.

It didn’t look transcendental to them, nothing out of the ordinary.

So, is this what we are all striving for – stop seeing the Lord as having an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-blissful body? Looks so.

What has it got to do with us, however?

Deities, I think.

When we serve Deities with love and devotion we should stop thinking of Deity’s transcendence and magical awesomeness but accept that for His servants the Lord appears as doll of metal, just as He appears as a human child to Mother Yashoda.

That is not to say we should deviate from the mood of worship Srila Prabhupada had taught us but to realize that “awesome transcendeness” is not something we can’t see but should revere nevertheless. That faulty approach leads to thinking of Deity’s arms as mere symbols of Lord’s actual arms, ie we treat the Deity as an idol.

We can’t think of Deity’s arms as being material either. What to do?

Maybe we should reconsider what matter and spirit means. We assume that matter is something we can touch and spirit is something invisible and beyond our senses, but Deity is here, we can touch it if we are authorized and trained to do so, yet it’s not material.

And we should probably reconsider what “body of bliss” means, too. The Lord is blissful and when we serve Him we also feel bliss, yet this bliss doesn’t register on our skin when we touch the Deity, it’s felt inside our hearts, if we are pure enough.

That means that if we ever manifest external symptoms of bhava they won’t come from seeing or touching the Deity or the feet of our guru, it would come from inside our hearts. They won’t start in the tips of our fingers and spread from there.

What I’m getting to is that it’s not the bliss we can feel with our material senses so the word has no meaning to us on our current platform, so it’s better not to worry about it for now.

It’s going to be awesome and very different, that’s all, and it shouldn’t be our motivation for service. Mother Yashoda does not roll on the ground in ecstasy and that shouldn’t be our goal, too.

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Vanity thought #470. The wrap up

It’s the last day of Kartika and my attempt at remembering Krishna Damodara every day is coming to an end. There are other important events to celebrate this month, too, and I think I’ve covered the most important ones.

Let’s see how much I remember without checking back – Damodara lila, of course, then Govardhana puja, then the story of Dhruva Maharaja, and one thing I left out – Bali Maharaja surrender to Lord Vamanadev.

One thing I still don’t understand is how any of this relates to Srimati Radharani, why do we have deities called Radha-Damodara, for example? I don’t want to talk about pastimes not mentioned in our books – if Srila Prabhupada didn’t share them with us then we have no business celebrating them publicly. I’d be very skeptical about personal realizations, too, but those are personal, let’s not pass judgments on that.

From Damodara pastime of the Lord the most memorable lesson is the two fingers rule – in order to achieve success in anything, even in devotional service, one must fully apply himself and one needs the mercy of the Lord. If applied to everyday life it sounds very depressing – do I really have to bother about money, family, success, legacy and all that other crap that is expected of life? Or am I genuinely lazy, with no idea of what sacrifice really is?

I’ve never lifted a finger for anything or anyone else, and the most I’ve done for Krishna is chant a few rounds when I feel like it. I look at some devotees who make big commitments and sacrifice everything to succeed in their service and I feel totally inadequate. I feel inadequate even when I look at some parents and how they have dedicated their lives to their dharma as they know it.

If I were in Mother Yashoda’s shoes (which is funny, since she probably didn’t wear shoes inside the house), would I even bother to tie Krishna up, or would I just sit there and watch, like some stoner who still lives off his mom?

What is the point of remembering Lord Damodara if it doesn’t inspire one to sacrifice his life to the mission of Lord Chaitanya?

Interestingly, while I might not know why we have Radha Damodara I do know that it was the first and best known sankirtana party in our movement. Somehow the connection worked.

And from Dhruva Maharaja I’ve learned about the danger of carrying material desires. Even if Krishna bestows His mercy He might force one to endure the fulfillment of his hankerings. Thirty six thousand years for Dhruva, maybe millions of years for us.

From Govardhana pastime I remembered Indra’s mistake – it’s nice to be on the Brijabasis’ side but to get there one must have his ego destroyed first, i.e. play Indra’s role. Then, when one’s pride is shattered to pieces, he might earn the privilege of taking Krishna’s shelter along with residents of Vrindavana. We can’t cheer for them simply because we know they will win, we must become just like them, simple and single-minded in their lives, thinking only about satisfaction of Krishna and not caring about the rest of the society and its norms.

If we keep any self-interest in our hearts taking shelter under Govardhana Hill is not for us. Let’s be humble and go through heart purification process first, never mind how it might appear to fellow devotees who expect us to always be the best and the purest. I mean we always try to present the best side of us – how we are bathing in the ocean of nectar, by guru and Krishna’s grace, and if something is offered to us we blush for a moment – “Oh now, I couldn’t possibly”, but within our hearts we know we deserved this and more.

How often do we publicly admit that we are wretched souls unworthy even a particle of dust from devotees’ lotus feet and really mean it? Not just as a polite thing to say but really really see ourselves as wretched and undeserving?

I think I’m getting off-topic here, that’s what happens when I don’t prepare myself, don’t exert enough effort, and Krishna consequently leaves me battle my articles alone.

From this pov my “vrata” failed on this last day. God, it was so close!

Better luck next time.

Vanity thought #469. Nail in the coffin

Of the idea that it’s okay to approach the Lord with material desires. I mean we all have them and it shouldn’t be the reason to stay back, but once we firmly decide to come forward and apply for Lord’s mercy, material desires should be considered as something unwanted.

It is true that if Dhruva Maharaja stayed cool and didn’t run to the forest to heal his wounded pride we wouldn’t have his story in the Bhagavatam but it should not be considered an excuse for us to do something similar.

One just have to look how it ended for him. Against all the odds he, a five year old boy, attracted attention of Lord Vishnu by performing tapasya unprecedented for his age. He saw Vishnu in his heart and eventually Vishnu appeared in person, he even gave the famous speech about searching for pieces of broken glass and finding the most valuable jewel instead but Lord Vishnu remained firm. Friendly but firm.

Lord’s edict wasn’t open for discussion, He simply said what Dhruva would to next – rule the world for thirty six thousand years and get his own star.

There’s a whole chapter in Srimad Bhagavatam entitled “Dhruva Maharaja Returns Home” but it’s not the same back home, back to Godhead we are striving for. Dhruva felt himself condemned, aggrieved and broken hearted. Yes, he had found the most valuable jewel and he’d earned himself the right to the place in the spiritual world but the Lord postponed that happy moment for thirty six thousand years and didn’t allow any pleas.

That’s what happens if you approach Krishna with material desires – you have to stay behind and “enjoy” them instead of being taken to the spiritual world immediately.

Of course one might say that for a devotee there’s no difference between living in heaven or hell but that argument does not apply here because that refers to devotees with no material desires. Those who are still attached to enjoyments of this world will be forced to enjoy, that’s where their consciousness would be for the duration of the punishment, not with Krishna.

Let me make it clearer – it’s one thing to live down here and always think of Krishna but it’s another thing to live here and always think about how nice it is, as this is what apparently happened to Dhruva.

He said it himself – he asked for the broken glass, got only a glimpse of the jewel, and was given the same broken glass he had no desire for anymore.

Actually, he didn’t say this in Srimad Bhagavatam, that phrase is apparently from some other book, in Srimad Bhagavatam he said about few broken grains of husked rice (SB 4.9.35).

Either way – try not to pray for material desires or you will be very sorry in the end, when Krishna fulfills them.

That turned out to be a very nice lesson from the story of Dhruva Maharaja. Can we get the same from Damodara lila? I don’t see how we could. That’s another point for Dhruva who now leads 2:0.

Tomorrow is the last day of Kartika, will Lord Damodara stage last minute come back or will He let His devotee to take the glory? I don’t know, it could turn our either way. Good news – I don’t have to wait very long.

Vanity thought #468. Clearing the confusion

Yesterday I puzzled myself with the story of Dhruva Maharaja, today, after listening to what proper authorities have to say on the matter I think I’m ready to dispel all my doubts.

In short the dilemma is posed like this – Dhruva Maharaja approached Lord Vishnu with a very strong material desire and succeeded. Who knows what would have happened if he wasn’t rejected by his father, probably nothing, at least in the context of this story. Main point – he was motivated by his severely bruised ego.

We, on the other hand, are advised to give up all our material desires and never act on the impulses of our egos, thus potentially depriving ourselves of attaining the Lord the way Dhruva Maharaja did. How are we going to follow his footsteps in this case?

Yesterday I thought that we might have to look at things in a different way, judging desires not by how strong or material they are but whether they are connected to the Lord or not.

In support of this one may site the yukta vairagya principle, engaging material things in service of the Lord rather than rejecting them, and also the warning against pursuing too much renunciation, as it hardens one’s heart. Bhakti won’t grow in the hardened heart, it has to be softened first.

We might site this Bhagavatam verse in support, too:

SB 2.3.10

akamah sarva-kamo va

moksha-kama udara-dhih

tivrena bhakti-yogena

yajeta purusham param

Akama – without desires, sarva-kama – full of desires, moksha-kama – desiring liberation – everybody is welcome.

Practical application of this solution is simple – do not try to give up your material desires but connect them with Krishna one way or another. Outside of ISKCON it leads to loosening regulative principles, including smoking pot, inside ISKCON it might lead to overindulging in Sunday feasts, for example. Let people stuff themselves to their necks, it’s all prasadam, it’s all good. One should not renounce taking prasadam and so on.

There might be some truth in this line of reasoning but I’ve heard much better solution and it lies in the same Bhagavatam verse.

Dhruva Maharaja didn’t approach Lord Vishnu with material desires, his bruised ego was only an impetus. He achieved the mercy of the Lord only due to blessings of Narada Muni, and even Narada Muni didn’t believe that it would be possible for such a small boy. If Narada Muni didn’t believe in it, why should we make it our principle?

Nevertheless, by the grace of pure devotee Dhruva Maharaja received his mantra and instructions on how to use it, and the next key to his success was the word tivrena from the third line in the verse above.

Presence or absence of desires described in the previous two lines does not have any value by itself. The key lies in what one does next – tivrena bhakti yogena – intense devotional service.

In fact we might even read the verse starting from the end (which is normal for sanskrit – take the first verse of Siksashtaka, for example). In order to succeed one must practice devotional service with intensity. This word, tivrena, appears several times in both Srimad Bhagavatam and Chaitanya Charitamrita and the translations are always the same – intense, concentrated, firm, serious, strong.

How one comes to attain this tivrena doesn’t matter – either as akama, sarva-kama or moksha-kama.

It is wrong to build a connection between having strong material desires and strong service to the Lord, one does not follow the other, thus the original confusing question is also wrong – we won’t miss the opportunity to attain Lord’s mercy simply because our desires are strong or weak. We might miss the opportunity because we don’t turn our predisposition (akama, sarva-kama etc) into tivrena.

Well, as usual, the correct answer lies in formulating the correct question. It would be a waste of time to search for an answer to a wrong question.

Glad this has all worked out.

Now back to Damodara lila – how can one develop tivrena when thinking about it? I don’t see a way.

Dhruva Maharaja was given a mantra and he performed severe austerities, applying tivrena in a similar situation is easy – there will always be the need for more efforts.

Contemplating Damodara lila, otoh, gives no space for tivrena bhakti yogena at all. Maybe only in keeping your mind thinking about it. Still it can’t compare to efforts we exert when trying to control the mind while chanting.

So, today’s score – Dhruva Maharaja lila 1, Damodara lila 0, but it’s not the end of the month yet.

Vanity thought #467. Tribute to Dhruva

There is a couple of Krishna’s pastimes to fill these last few days of Kartika and the story of Dhruva Maharaja should be right at the top of the list, for Kartika was the month he obtained audience of Lord Vishnu. It also happened in Vrindavana and Madhuvana forest is now the first stop on the Vraja mandala parikrama.

To be honest, I’ve never appreciated this story even though it was one of Lord Chaitanya’s favorites. To my immature, materialistic vision it appears somewhat problematic, mostly because it’s about attaining Lord’s mercy while in pursuit of worldly affairs.

On one hand it should fill us with hope that even if we approach Krishna with impure motives He could still bestow His mercy which, in turn, would cleanse our hearts completely, on the other hand we shouldn’t be looking for excuses not to remove our anarthas before approaching the Lord.

In fact the general idea is that we can’t obtain Krishna’s darshan precisely because of our anarthas, it’s practically the one and only thing that prevents us from tasting the nectar of the Holy Name, but Dhruva Maharaja’s story tells us not to pay attention to them at all.

What we can learn from it is that desire to see the Lord trumps any other cards, and it’s a fair argument, but it would also appear that the strength of this desire depends on the strength of our material attachments.

In our situation it is useless to profess unmotivated service but still our attachments is something we are advised to abandon. Dhruva’s story, however, teaches us to properly leverage them instead.

I guess it could be considered as an early example of yukta vairagya – engaging everything in service of the Lord, as opposed to phalgu vairagya of renunciation simply for the sake of it.

Hmm, maybe that’s why Lord Chaitanya loved this story so much – from the pov of bhakti there’s no distinction between right and wrong, only distinction between whether it’s connected to Krishna or not.

Yet we also have four regs and a bunch of other rules as a precondition for engaging in Krishna consciousness.

That’s what I find confusing – in our lives four regs and other material attachments are considered absolutely negative, in the story of Dhruva Maharaja they are not. If one’s bruised ego is killing him he is advised to be more tolerant than a tree but the lesson from Dhruva Maharaja’s story is to seek blessings for revenge from Krishna Himself.

Imagine a devotee being upset with his authorities not appreciating his service, no one would ever advise him to take severe penances in order to make Krishna prove to everyone his real worth. If we had such a desire ourselves we would probably be ashamed of it but in Dhruva Maharaja’s case it was the main driving force in his progress towards the Lord.

We would try to abandon this desire but example of Dhruva Maharaja teaches us quite the opposite – we should take full advantage of having it because it might deliver us to Krishna.

Taking a little offense at being unappreciated is worse than taking a big offense at the same thing as long as we seek judgment from the Lord.

Strangely, it does make sense, but if we take this as a guiding principle, shouldn’t we reconsider some of the basic rules of our lives and our society, too?

One thing is clear – Damodara lila is far less complicated. Dhruva lila, otoh, has practical lessons for our own service we can’t easily extract from reflecting on Lord Damodara.

The remaining confusion is, perhaps, a sign that I haven’t achieved Lord’s mercy on this topic yet. Maybe some other day.

Vanity thought #466. Imitation

I wonder if it’s really okay to imitate Krishna’s pastimes. Prahlada Maharaj did it and it’s apparently one of the symptoms of developing devotion but really, can we do it?

It seems that it comes naturally as devotee progresses in developing love of God but who among us would declare that his time has come, too?

In our present state it just doesn’t seem right, we don’t appreciate Lord’s pastimes enough, certainly not enough to start going crazy about it, because that’s what it would look like to an outsider. So far most of what we do can be explained away as harmless religious practice but if we start imitating God’s pastimes our own PR department would quickly come and shut us down.

Imagine someone playing out Lord Varaha? Digging out in the mud with his face and roaring tumultuously every time he lifts his head up – “I’ve found Earth!”

“Yeah, that’s great,” people would say, “don’t drop it, it might get lost again…”

Acting our Govardhana pastime is only marginally better – bending his body in three places and lifting his finger up: “Look, I’m holing an entire mountain on my little pinky!”

“Yeah, cool,” people would say, “mind if I join you? You must be tired…”

Guess what is the only pastime we can play out without being declared legally insane? Damodara, of course!

There’s absolutely nothing unusual about breaking a few pots our of frustration and feeding food to the monkeys. We might qualify for some medication but otherwise everybody would totally understand.

Ask you wife for something and become upset when she goes to play with her iPad instead? Totally normal. Feed some food to the dog, as most of us don’t have monkeys sneaking around – totally normal. Become scared as the wifey comes back to check on the commotion? How else you gonna feel? Let’s not go into tying up part just yet, I think I’ve made my point already.

Would any of that qualify as imitating Lord’s pastimes the way Prahlada Maharaj did? Of course not, but it begs the question – what would?

I don’t think we have the correct answer to this. Maybe staging a public play would qualify but that is not spontaneous in any way. Personally I’ve never seen any performance, not even professionally made ones like Krishna cartoons, as portraying Lord’s pastimes with any degree of realism.

Perhaps that’s not the point of the performance and we should hope the appreciation manifests in our hearts, not in our highly developed critical faculties. That still leaves the question about imitating Lord’s pastimes wide open. I see no reason to engage in, not for now. Maybe some day we get there, maybe not.

Lots of bona fide devotees left this world without ever achieving that stage so it’s probably not absolutely necessary. Perhaps the only point in thinking about is smaranam – now that’s a nice, wholesome, fully authorized activity, and it helped me to connect today’s topic with Krishna Damodara again.

It happened entirely by his grace, this morning I had no idea how it would be possible, it came to me bit by bit as I kept thinking about it.

Vanity thought #465. Something’s amiss

As I am gathering my wits and regaining my composure after two hectic days of computer problems I’m also getting back my proclivity to speculation. The first thing I found is that there’s something amiss in the Damodara lila.

When you are busy or overwhelmed then simply remembering the Damodara form of Krishna could be considered a success, I think, like a drowning man who would grasp at any straw, but when you have time to analyze your remembrance of the Lord a little deeper you have to raise you standards, too.

I don’t know how I didn’t see it before – in Damodara lila there’s no service to devotees!

Earlier I said that if we imagine Krishna Damodara with our material vision we see a little boy that needs help and care, a perfect opportunity to selflessly serve His needs and wishes. Well, that’s not what we are supposed to do, are we?

We are servants of the servants of the servants, let Mother Yashoda and other senior gopis take care of baby Krishna, we should never consider ourselves qualified to do that. In a way it would be like looking at someone’s wife – Krishna Damodara is not ours to serve, He is mother Yashoda’s baby.

Afaik the only outsider who got close to baby Krishna was Putana, we don’t want to follow her footsteps, do we?

I don’t think there’s a need to explain how trying to serve Krishna directly could turn harmful to our spiritual lives. If He wants it then it’s okay but from our side we should never consider approaching Him by sidestepping lotus feet of our spiritual master and the entire parampara.

My point is – if we imagine Krishna and that image doesn’t include service to our guru then we are doing it wrong.

In case of Damodara lila it’s hard to fit anyone else but mother Yashoda and, perhaps, some monkeys. Something is amiss in that pastime – the chance to serve Krishna’s devotees. I guess we could supply rope but that would be even worse – we can’t just imagine inserting ourselves literally into Krishna’s pastimes.

In fact the only way we can legitimately insert ourselves into Krishna’s pastimes is by joining the sankirtana movement of Lord Chaitanya. Every other lila is just for appreciating the nature of the Lord and His loving relationships with His devotees, nothing to do with us personally.

You want to chip in – go on sankirtana, otherwise just step back and marvel at other people’s service. With that understanding nothing is really amiss, just another day on Goloka Vrindavana, we, as conditioned living beings, are not meant to be there, so how can we and our service be missing?

Vanity thought #464. Drowning

The stars have colluded against me and overwhelmed me with irksome problems. For two days in a row I’m battling an old notebook that refuses to get anything installed and working on it. If they gave me a dollar for every reboot and every attempt at installing an OS I’d be already rich, would have been best two day business in my life. Unfortunately no one pays me for it and all I get instead is misery and crankiness.

I have also completely lost my footing, I don’t know day from night and feeding time from sleeping time. I don’t even have time to observe all the things that come into my field of vision, let alone make sense of them. My mind is completely obsessed with technicalities and I barely have time to complete my daily duties.

It’s one of those days…

Actually, I have come to like situations like this. It happens a couple of times per year so I’m not surprised, I’m rather prepared.

I don’t even try to get my life back, I let it go and simply remember Krishna in the midst of it all. I know that I can’t form any cohesive thoughts about Him or Krishna consciousness and even when I sit down for mandatory daily reading I can’t concentrate on anything, but that is not my goal – my goal is to remember Him through thick and thin.

It’s easy to be “Krishna conscious” when everything is in the mode of goodness, it’s not a big achievement at all, but try to stay “Krishna conscious” when your head is completely messed up and you’ll see how rewarding it actually is.

Remembrance of Krishna is transcendental to the modes of nature, mind and body might do whatever they want without having any effect on one’s memory of Krishna, as long as we see it as separate from the mind and senses, of course.

Having messed up mind is an opportunity to see ourselves as separate from it, and see that we can maintain our consciousness regardless of what mind does. We take troubles and tribulations as results of our previous karma, inside we try to stay as calm as the ocean while externally we look as if we are going to blow up like a bomb at any moment.

It is also a glimpse of what will come at the moment of our death. Even under the best circumstances we can’t expect to have an equilibrium of the mind at the time of leaving the body. I bet we’ll feel very very disturbed and disoriented.

I’m not saying I got a handle on it now but at least I know how I could try to remember Krishna despite severe mental disturbances.

More importantly – this is when I realize that remembering the image of Krishna Damodara is all we actually need. When we reflect on this pastime and analyze it in great details and many aspects we are engaging our minds. This is great, but this also implies having actual minds ready to be used. When the mind goes away all we have is an impression of a little blue boy running away from his mother. I can’t think of anything else. I can’t even conceptualize His position as God, all I can see is a little blue boy.

I have no appreciation for this image but I’ve been told that keeping it in my head is very very important, and I’m trying to do just that, and at this point it’s all I can really do.

If I have time I can try to imagine his little feet with cute little toes and pearl-like toenails, and also pearls of sweat running from his forehead, and also his big earrings and disheveled hair. He is too small for all his ornaments and clothes but he is running as fast as he can, completely caught in the excitement of the moment.

I’m not going to take it any further than this, just what I heard from our authorities, and even this might be too sahajiya, but, as I said, if not this image then I’ve got nothing.

It’s time to wrap it up, another failed install is ready, I will need to think of yet another set of possible causes and solutions, it’s nowhere near the end yet.

Just remember – stay as calm as the ocean and keep the image of Damodara with me at all times.

Vanity thought #463. And Now for Something Completely Different

Or not – I’m just thinking about difference between sankirtana devotees and Mother Yashoda.

I’m still on Damodara lila, that hasn’t changed. I don’t think there will be a pot of gold at the end of the Kartika but with only a week to go I see the end to this pastime soon.

So, the notable difference between sankirtana and Mother Yashoda is that she didn’t know Krishna was God and we do. Sounds trivial but this difference leads to a huge gap in experience.

At worst Mother Yashoda was perplexed why all the ropes in the house were not enough to tie up a little child. She had not idea of the two fingers principle, she didn’t know she had to try to surrender to her son first. If her love was tested she had no clue what was going on. Her love for Krishna was the defining part of her being, for her there was simply no concept of her life without love for Krishna. Testing for it was similar to testing for breath and heartbeat.

We, on the other hand, know too much and love too little. We know everything we should do – humbly surrender and wait for mercy, but we can’t actually do it. As a result we become frustrated and angry to the point of blaming Krishna for all our woes. Effectively giving Him a finger.

Now that might sound too far out – no devotee in his right mind would blame Krishna for anything, it’s against our basic philosophy, we know the laws of karma and such. Looking deeper, however, Krishna never presents to us personally, He appears in the form of our guru and in the form of His devotees, and He is far more sensitive to offenses against them than to offenses against Himself.

Keeping that in mind we can find plenty of examples of devotees blaming everyone else for their troubles – GBC, ISKCON, even their own gurus. This is actually worse than blaming Krishna Himself. Then they go search for enlightenment elsewhere, Gaudiya mathas, Radha Kund, traditional parivars and so on. This is bloody ridiculous, but since they make a big show of their newly found “devotion” we might forget what it is actually based on – enmity towards vaishnavas and Krishna’s mercy.

They might deny blaming Krishna but this is what they actually do, they simply do not see Him when He comes in the form of guru and devotees.

Anyways, I think anybody who has tried to distribute books knows how it feels when things are not going nicely. Mind becomes so agitated and ready to blow at any moment, we can hardly contain anger and frustration. It is actually very painful and punishment for failure is doubly severe.

This is what makes us different from Mother Yashoda. We might try to do the same thing and follow the same principles but outcomes are vastly different.

If we keep on trying, however, then at the end Krishna notices our efforts and calls the material nature off and we get our reward of serving Him in more or less pure consciousness. For most of us it never lasts but once you tried that taste you’ll never accept anything else seriously.

Today I’ve dug up 1991 sankirtana seminar by HG Navina Nirada Prabhu. He started it with asking devotees why they go distribute books. There were many reasons given and all were approved by Navina Nirada but I think one crucial reason was still missing – we distribute books because it forms the very core of our existence. Real question is why we ever bother with anything else and when we will finally stop wasting our time.

That understanding would bring us on the same team as Mother Yashoda – seeing ourselves in terms of service we render and not seeing any other reasons for our being outside of our service.

Hmm, I think this thought turned our quite nicely, maybe Krishna was pleased with it, so all credit goes to Him, and, of course, Navina Nirada and other stalwart sankirtana devotees.

Vanity thought #462. Pulling out fingers

It’s my second day trying to connect Damodara lila to sankirtana and I’m coming out with blanks.

How can we tie up these two topics together?

At one point my mind contrived a twisted situation where Krishna gets tied up to the drum of sankirtana instead of mother Yashoda’s mortar. This is clearly nonsense, perhaps I should resign to the straightforward answer.

We remember Krishna’s pastimes to get inspiration for our preaching. When Krishna reveals Himself in our hearts we naturally feel the desire to share His glories and invite people to serve Him, too.

The problem is that simply by thinking about Damodara lila we can’t expect this Krishna’s form to actually reveal itself to us. We can only try to focus our minds on an image of a little blue boy we’ve seen in the paintings. This is mostly material impression and it doesn’t produce desired effects.

Another way to reflect on Krishna’s pastimes is to focus on the lessons, in this case on His mercy and Mother Yashoda’s devotion. It might turn out that it’s these aspects of the lila that make Krishna into Damodara, not His earrings or Mother Yashoda loosened dress.

I mean that the actual taste of this lila lies not in observing Krishna’s form as a little child, that image is not lila specific, but in the loving interaction between Him and His mother. That’s what makes Him Damodara.

This is also the aspect we can easily focus on in our remembrance and if we hear it submissively than we should also feel deep sense of gratitude to the Lord, which in turn should be very useful in preaching.

Bingo – the connection has been established!

When we are out there, trying to induce people to perform some Krishna’s service, when we implore people to buy a book or simply pause to listen to our presentation, we need almost exact kind of Krishna’s mercy that He has shown to Mother Yashoda. We need to tie Him up so that He would stay and help us in our preaching efforts.

Personally He might not like being shown before faithless people but we need His presence before them. We need Him to agree to stay with our material bodies and reveal Himself through us. We also need Him to knock down people’s misconceptions about God just like He knocked down yamala-arjuna trees.

We need to pull all the ropes and extend all our fingers, and if He gracefully accepts our awkward efforts then, and only then, our preaching will become successful.

I bet anyone who has ever distributed books knows how much effort we need to make to elicit Krishna’s mercy. Everybody knows that by ourselves we always come two fingers short and we need to make extra efforts to achieve purity in our hearts to earn Krishna’s agreement.

Everybody knows that we cannot afford to divert our attention to anything else, not to our sales targets, not to the hot prasadam back in the temple, not to “Haribols” we get when results are announced, not to our inconvenience, not to our bruised egos – nothing. We need absolute purity and conviction, we need total single-mindedness. Only then slightly amused Krishna would agree to do His part, too.

Interestingly, that’s when He would pick up the drum of sankirtana and personally pull it over His neck and starts drumming.

Hmm, apparently it wasn’t a crooked metaphor after all.