Be Tolerant than the trees, beware of their suffering, and be intertwined like the Redwood trees

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu urges in the third verse of shistashtakam taror api sahishuna be tolerant than the trees. Observing the Redwood trees in Muir Woods, Srila Prabhupada teaches us why the trees are so tolerant, and His Holiness Radhanath maharaj teaches us where the tolerance and strength of Redwood trees come from.

In The Hare Krishna Explosion, Hayagriva maharaj writes that once when Srila prabhupada visited Muir woods in San Francisco with his disciples, he enlightened them that the souls that were now standing as tall Redwood trees were too much engrossed in sexual pleasures in their previous lives. Their rebirth as trees was a result of their over indulgence in sex.

Srimad Bhagavatam reveals how the two sons of Kubera were turned into trees when they behaved shamelessly in Narada muni’s presence. Those who like to flaunt their naked bodies are given the bodies of trees in their next lives. This is to teach them what it is to be naked under the sky all their lives. The trees have to tolerate all types of weather conditions. They even have to bear with human onslaught on them. The life of a tree teaches a soul’s tolerance and penance. It teaches us not to be extravagant with our dark desires, rather we should be miser in fulfilling them. Just like we are conscious about spending our money only on the things we really need, we should be contemplative about whether sex is for pleasure or for procreation. We like to spend our money not only on the right things but in the right way too. This should be our approach about using our bodies as well.

His Holiness Radhanath maharaj teaches us that although the roots of Redwood trees are not deep in the earth, these trees have been in Muir woods at their respective places since thousand of years. In their lifetimes many kings of the world were born and died. They won and lost many wars, marked boundaries and removed them. History changed so many times in the lifetimes of the Redwood trees, and it will keep changing. Maharaj teaches us that the strength of these trees lies in their unity. These trees have shallow root system, but their roots are intertwined with the roots of other Redwood trees, 100 feet from the base. Like these trees we should be together through thick and thin in life. No matter what, we shouldn’t cut our roots that are intertwined with roots of other devotees through Bhakti.

The acharyas show us different aspects of the truth in a bonfide way. They teach us how to assimilate our understanding and apply it to improve our devotion. May lord Krishna bestow us with the ability to see things as our acharyas want us to see.

My Meeting with My Guru

The idea of taking refuge at the lotus feet of guru seemed too far-fetched to me until I read The Journey Home, the book which initiated me on the path of pure love, the path that can help me rediscover my Nitya Svadharma (my eternal nature). In the author of this book, I’ve found my spiritual master. Millions have found their spiritual master in His Holiness Radhanath Maharaj.

Around this time in October 2012, the dirt on the mirror of my heart had begun to come off. Around this time in 2012, Krishna made my desire to follow the real path of real love strongest ever! And two years later, on October 11, 2014, Krishna arranged for me to receive the first darshan of my guru.

A devotee let me know that maharaj might give an SB class in the Chowpatty temple on 11th or 12th of this month. So, I, empowered by Krishna grace, decided to make a trip to Bombay in anticipation of meeting maharaj.

Maharaj’s servants don’t allow for personal meetings with maharaj as his schedule is always packed. I gave my profile to one of maharaj’s servants who later said it won’t be possible to meet him. On the 11th noon while I was taking prasadam at Govinda, I prayed to Krishna to arrange for half a minute meeting with maharaj.

I left Govinda around 12.30 noon to take a shower and returned to the temple at 1.30pm. I would have walked two or three steps on the temple Veranda when, to my joy, I saw maharaj coming from the opposite direction. I ran toward him and blurted, “Maharaj we were destined to meet …” He smiled and said something in his soft voice and entered the Laxmi Narayan hall. I thanked Krishna half heartedly. I became greedy for more darshan. I started chanting, praying, and noticing how maharaj’s disciples were offering danvats at the hall door which always remained ajar as if to let devotees glance at maharaj. When they left, I offered my pranaams at the doorstep, too and prayed to him for his attention.

Devotees broke for lunch after sometime and I noticed them coming out from the other door. Guessing that maharaj will also exit from the same door, I stood near the pillar 90-degree opposite the same door. Maharaj appeared and with him appeared an army of those who wanted to talk to him. My silent prayer was on. In my heart, I kept pleading “Krishna, if he is my guru, please get me some attention from him…some attention, little attention, just a little attention. Please Krishna.”

While talking to other devotees, Maharaj threw his divine glance at me two-three times. My hopes soared high.  Hardly a minute would have passed when maharaj’s servant, whom I was in touch with, assured me that maharaj will take prasadam at Vrindavan Forest so I could wait outside and try my luck.

I marched in the direction of the Vrindavan Forest and began to wait near the showcase. My silent prayer was on. Maharaj and Govind prabhu were coming toward the Vrindavan Forest and my hopes were rising. But, Krishna wants us to pray with even deeper intensity. Nothing less would do! Maharaj saw me standing there but instead of going for prasadam and he went upstairs to his quarter.

My desire to meet maharaj became intense. Krishna made it intense. I tried to chant the mahamantra but the intensity of my desire and Krishna made me chant “Krishna. Krishna. Krishna.”… the All Attractive’s holy name began to dance in my heart and on my tongue. I took out my bead bag from my sling purse and began to chant mahamantra. A few minute would have passed; few earthly minutes… I looked to my left and at a distance of 10-15 ft  I saw maharaj, going in the direction of the Vrindavan Forest’s gate. He was smiling at me. I went to him and said “Maharaj, please take prasadam. I’ll wait for you here.” With his divine smile, he asked me, “who are you?” “Where have you come from?” At the speed of the tape recorder’s fast forward mode, I said what I could to him about how his book changed my anti-guru and J.Krishnamurtian attitude and put me on the path of bhakti. I told him that I was now sure that he was my guru. I told him Krishna was always my “favorite God” and the Hare Krishna mahamantra had been my “favorite mantra” until I read his book and decided to walk the path that lead to Krishna via him … now Krishna is THE God and the Hare Krishna mahamantra is THE only mantra that could give my soul what it has been yearning for. Very humbly maharaj said “I am grateful to you. I’m honored to serve you” and walked toward the Vrindavan Forest.

My heart was dancing in the transcendental joy of meeting my guru. How merciful Krishna is! How well connected my guru is with Krishna. It seemed like as if my prayers were being relayed to Krishna and from Krishna to the guru instantly. The time zone of the spiritual world and that of the material world seemed to be in agreement in those moments.

Krishna wished to offer me more. He wanted to fill my day with blessings of my guru. Kishori mataji asked me to attend maharaj’s lecture which was scheduled to happen in a few hours in WE School.  She put me in touch with another devotee who was already at the venue.

I was standing at the entrance of the WE School’s conference hall when maharaj entered the hall. He looked at me and smiled.  I thought I was imagining it. But later the other devotee asked me if I had met maharaj before. She said maharaj looked at me and smiled a few times. My prayer about getting some attention from maharaj was still working! Krishna and guru are so kind!

After the lecture students queued up to get maharaj’s autographs on their copies of The Journey Home, and I joined them too! Maharaj signed my copy of The Journey Home and patiently heard what I had to say to him in that short time. I told him that once he visited me in a dream, but I wasn’t sure if my mind made that up or it was a “real dream.” He smiled and said “Krishna guides us through our dreams, too.”

On the 12th, after hearing maharaj’s wonderful SB lecture and Damodar Ashtakam in his soulful voice, I was all set to return home. But, Krishna hadn’t forgotten my prayer. He had more in store for me. I went to the temple around 2.05 pm and learned that maharaj was leaving Mumbai for his next milestone. Devotees were queuing up to see him off, and I joined them, too. He acknowledged everyone’s love and devotion. I became eager for the last bit of attention: his divine smile. I was blessed accordingly to the intensity of my prayer.

This IS my Kartik Yatra.