I’m stuck.

Between life and death, I struggle with emptiness. It weighs heavy on my heart. This emptiness is not a vacuum; on the contrary it’s replete with loneliness and foreignness that I experience incessantly in this world. The vague memory of love from untraceable time, and the lack of love from time immemorial have put me in this dire situation. These lines from Emily Dickinson’s poem describe my internal expanse so much better that I ever will be capable of:

You left me boundaries of pain
Capacious as the sea,
Between eternity and time,
Your consciousness and me.

I don’t mean to underrate the rare treats of joy and friendships that give me surprise visits and bid goodbye as surprisingly. They fuel my consciousness to play my role, to pay debts of the past, to create new bondages, and to pave way for freedom.

Amidst this cycle of hope and hopelessness, I ponder over the path that alone can raise my consciousness to the infinite realm beyond which no mind can travel, no heart can rejoice. I’ve been limping on this road. I can’t feel its beauty and bliss.

I’m stuck between foreignness and friendliness. This world is foreign to me. On the road to infinite bliss is the air of friendliness. But I can’t breathe that air. Something prevents me from seeking pleasure in this world, and the same something stops me from taking a good run on the road to infinite bliss. This something has been persisting furiously in my nature. It seems to be stalking me life after life. My attempts to fight it are feeble. And, it’s not in me to cajole this unconquerable force.

Surrender unto Me, You say to Me, Krishna. So, I ask You, plead to You, beg of You to infuse me with the force that will make me surrender to You. Because if You don’t, I won’t.

Krishna, it’s painful to be in limbo. It’s lonely here. It scares me every moment. I feel unloved. I feel incapable of loving. What do you know of these feelings? These emotions can’t even touch You. You’ve made them for lost souls like me.
I was about to stop here. But, as if to collect my fallen spirit and to reassure me, this line from Srimad Bhagavatam hummed itself to me, “padaṁ padaṁ yad vipadāṁ na teṣām.”

samāśritā ye pada-pallava-plavaṁ
 mahat-padaṁ puṇya-yaśo murāreḥ
bhavāmbudhir vatsa-padaṁ paraṁ padaṁ
 padaṁ padaṁ yad vipadāṁ na teṣām

For those who have accepted the boat of the lotus feet of the Lord, who is the shelter of the cosmic manifestation and is famous as Murāri, the enemy of the Mura demon, the ocean of the material world is like the water contained in a calf’s hoof-print. Their goal is paraṁ padam, Vaikuṇṭha, the place where there are no material miseries, not the place where there is danger at every step.

A divine reminder!

My Heart is a Wreck

I’ve loved Hari Hari Bifale bhajan since the time I learned from Yamuna Devi’s biography that this is Prabhupada’s favorite bhajan. But my love for this bhajan is skin-deep. Or, shall I say, my love is unrealized. My love for Hari Hari Bifale is like jnana; knowledge, which goes into the mind, but heart remains bereft of its juice. Krishna pairs jnana and vijnana because jnana alone cannot take us deep enough into the Truth. But when vijnana or realization joins jnana, the truth begins to reveal itself. Vijnana, as I see it with my limited intelligence and experience, demands sacrifice. But before one is able to sacrifice with love, suffering pulls one breath by breath. Krishna, the supreme intelligence personified, knows how and how much to dose one with knowledge, suffering, sacrifice, and realization.

“samsara-bisanale, diba-nisi hiya jwale” is the third line of the second couplet in the Hari Hari Bifale bhajan. It means my heart burns day and night with the worldiness. “Worldiness” carries a different meaning for each of us, from one time to another, according to the level of our transformation. A compassionate saint suffers out of affection by seeing the souls trapped in the world, or due to his separation from God. An old man may suffer because of his disease, loss of his wife, or children. A young woman suffers from loneliness. A married woman suffers because her husband doesn’t seem to be the soul mate she wanted. The kaleidoscope of suffering has countless designs, patterns, and shades. And yet, behind each suffering lurk expectations, desires, hopelessness, insecurity, anger, fear, greed, madness, thanklessness, ingratitude, or different shades of these feelings identified by different names in different cultures and communities.

samsara-bisanale, diba-nisi hiya jwale keeps ringing in my heart like a temple bell. At times, I make efforts to remind myself of the next line “juraite na koinu upay” which means “I have not taken the means to relieve it.” This beautiful bhajan starts like this “O Lord Hari, I have spent my life uselessly. Having obtained a human birth and having not worshiped Radha and Krsna, I have knowingly drunk poison.” I know, both intuitively and experientially, that I’ve wasted away many human births running after various chimeras. I’ve wasted away many human lives by royally ignoring my eternal companions Radha and Krishna. I’ve looked for love in the way a thirsty person looks for water in a desert. I’ve hurt my eternally bruised heart with the coals of falsities and illusions a million times. A thirsty person mistakes mirage in a desert for water. I’ve gone far beyond this, several times, uncountable times. I’ve created dangerous mirages of love in the deep recesses of my heart.

Nothing but the nectar that flows from the divine feet of Radha and Krishna can heal me. In some rare moments this truth goes somewhat deeper than the bottom of my intellect. Most times, the dolphins and sharks of maya make me dance as they like. The lines before “samsara-bisanale, diba-nisi hiya jwale” reveal the antidote and my natural tendency, as I’ve developed in this world, to not take the antidote properly. “The treasure of divine love in Goloka Vrndavana has descended as the congregational chanting of Lord Hari’s holy names. Why did my attraction for that chanting never come about?” The grace of the holy name came to me 4.5 years ago. But, my stubborn mind has been victoriously distracting me during my chanting of the holy name. Krishna and the devotees always knew that this was going to happen. So, they did everything, without intervening in freewill, to help me chant anyway. My determination to chant is their unconditional gift to me.

My titanic-like heart has survived many heart-wrecks. Some I foresaw and feared and some came unexpectedly. I survived because Krishna protected me. He guided me out of them. I’ve not faced wreck of those types in many years; although of other types have been keeping me absorbed. This heart-wreck has given me glimpse of the depth of the meaning of Hari Hari Bifale. “A glimpse of the depth” is an oxymoron. To experience the depth one has to lose themselves in the depth. The spiritual moments are translogical and conflicts can co-exist in these moments.

I’ve been wondering offlately if the wreck I’ve been struggling with these days is a test that Krishna has thrown at me to check my resistance, or is it, as it happens during the process of churning nectar, that first poison comes out. Or, is it my prarabhada. It could be an ingenious combination of all of this, as orchestrated by Krishna. He must be doing this to help me transform. A Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron, says, “Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know.” Not just need to know but need to learn and then transform. Krishna wants to cleanse my heart of all impurities so that I can see Him, love Him, and serve Him. He’s not a cheap deal. The price that I have to pay to experience the bliss of ever-increasing love is nothing less than my self. For me, I’m most precious. So, this is the highest price I can pay to get Him. He’s the highest possible achievement one can have. So the price of dedicating myself to Him is nothing. But He knows my plight. He’ll accept the price with love.

Yesterday was one of the tough days that I have been living through recently. Tears helped only as long as they dropped. Distracting the mind to other things helps me somewhat. Going out, meeting people helps for as long as I’m not back within myself. I’ve been praying, too. The medicine of prayer goes to the root of the disease. But, have I prayed intensely? Yesterday I did. I cried to Krishna. I said to Him what He already knows. I told Him I can’t open up to anyone as I can to Him. I pleaded for His help. samsara-bisanale, diba-nisi hiya jwale kept ringing in my heart like a temple bell. The evening satsang in the association of Krishnanand Prabhu uplifted my spirit. Krishna must have sent Him for my rescue. Inspired by his devotional energy, I prayed again to Radha Krishna before I slept. I closed my eyes and imagined Radha Krishna enjoying on a swing made of flowers. I was watching them prayfully when they were on the swing. The swing picked speed. Their lotus feet came closer to my heart. I cried. I don’t know when but after sometime I fell asleep. I couldn’t see their beautiful glowing faces. I couldn’t smell the flowers, either. Neither could I see the transcendental signs on the feet of their souls. This took place only in my mind. But, someday, I hope that someday, I recite them a poem while they’re swinging on their flower-studded swing in joy. I pray that that day comes sooner than I deserve. This is my helpless prayer to the eternal lords of my soul. Narottama dasa says, “O Lord, please do not push me away from Your reddish lotus feet, for who is my beloved except for You?”
hari hari! bifale janama gonainu

manushya-janama paiya, radha-krishna na bhajiya,

janiya suniya visha khainu
(2)

golokera prema-dhana, hari-nama-sankirtana,

rati na janmilo kene tay

samsara-bishanale, diba-nisi hiya jwale,

juraite na koinu upay
(3)

Vrajendra-nandana jei, saci-suta hoilo sei,

balarama hoilo nitai

dina-hina jata chilo, hari-name uddharilo,

tara sakshi jagai madhai
(4)

ha ha prabhu nanda-suta, vrishabhanu-suta-juta,

koruna karoho ei-baro

narottama-dasa koy, na theliho ranga pay,

toma bine ke ache amara
Translation:
(1) 0 Lord Hari, I have spent my life uselessly. Having obtained a human birth and having not worshiped

Radha and Krishna, I have knowingly drunk poison.
(2) The treasure of divine love in Goloka Vrindavana has descended as the congregational chanting of Lord

Hari’s holy names. Why did my attraction for that chanting never come about? Day and night my heart burns

from the fire of the poison of worldliness, and I have not taken the means to relieve it.
(3) Lord Krishna, who is the son of the King of Vraja, became the son of Saci (Lord Caitanya), and Balarama

became Nitai. The holy name delivered all those souls who were lowly and wretched. The two sinners Jagai

and Madhai are evidence of this.
(4) 0 Lord Krishna, son of Nanda, accompanied by the daughter of Vrishabhanu, please be merciful to me

now. Narottama dasa says, “O Lord, please do not push me away from Your reddish lotus feet, for who is

my beloved except for You?”

Sri Radha, the Source of Love

We try very hard to love others when there is not enough love in our repository. We believe we are the source of love. No, we are not. We are channels of love. The source is Krishna. Just like we need a powerhouse to supply us with electricity, we need to connect to the source of love so love could flow through us incessantly. When we connect to our Krishna, the unlimited amount of love flows through us so we can share it with others. There is no dearth of love when we acknowledge its source and become receptive as its channel.