How Gauranga Opened My Heart

December brought the same old discomfort of winter. Krishna says “Shitoshna Sukhah Dukhah Dah…” tolerate the heat of summer, the chill of winter and tolerate the pain and pleasures like you tolerate summer and winter. So I tolerated. But did I really? Why then my bhakti practice suffered at the hands of a season? Or, was it my lack of enthusiasm? Or both?  My health and lethargy have acted as unsolvable blockages in the arteries of my consciousness. My mind has exploited every opportunity to defeat my efforts. Its illusionary contents add brick and mortar to the blockages. And in December, amidst the apartment selling and all, something affected my inner state. What it is, I don’t know. Krishna answered my prayers and the sale happened smoothly after the initial turmoil that my mind created and past life karmas fueled. Krishna’s mercy should have softened my heart. But a dark stone seems to be where a heart should have been. Stones don’t absorb the water of mercy.

It has been going on since decades, this turmoil. But what’s special about this now is the lack of consciousness centered on Krishna. Decades ago consciousness centered on myself would cause it. I’m going through purification similar to that of a dirty pond. When the depth of pond is cleaned, the dirty stuff that covered it starts floating on the surface. This turmoil has a spiritual value.

I seem be falling back into old patterns of doubt and criticism. “My ship is sinking.”, I said to Amogh Lila Prabhu. Krishna won’t let it sink. I must be sure of this. To salvage the situation I thought of chanting 64 rounds on Gaura Poornima. The morning sadhana was a challenge. Sleep charged at me with AK47 bullets and made my chanting worse. A nap should help I thought to myself. Between the silence of the nap and awareness, I heard my voice chiding me that I should go and join the devotees. Celebrate Mahaprabhu’s appearance day with the soul family, I said. Mahaprabhu had some other plans for me, or so I thought.

I turned on my phone’s Internet in expectation that HG Krishnanand Prabhu might have left another humble and merciful message for our group of devotees. Just like the one on Ekadeshi in which he begged for a charity of chanting 32 rounds. For whose sake he begged? For our spiritual growth. I really wanted to see a message that encouraged me to chant 64 rounds. So here it was, a similar message begging devotees to bake cakes, each made up of 64 rounds of the Hare Krishna mahamantra chanting. For icing he humbly suggested the 3rd verse of Sri Shistashtakam, Trinadapi Sunichena… whose English translation is “One who is humbler than a blade of grass, more forbearing than a tree who gives due honour to others without desiring honour for himself is qualified to always chant the Holy Name of Krishna.” I chant with my voice box, because my heart is covered with the dirt of millions of sanskaras. Let alone chanting in the mood of Trinadapi Sunichena, I can’t even be attentive while chanting. But chant I must. Someday my heart will be cleansed and the flower of humility will grow on its pure soil.

I prayed to Mahaprabhu to make me able to prepare a birthday cake for Him. A cry streamed forth from my heart, exposing itself as tears that flowed lukewarm on my cheeks. Some drops must have cleansed a millimeter of my heart’s expanse. The feelings were induced by Mahaprabhu, for Mahaprabhu. He is a cardiologist of the eternal heart.

I chanted with determination to prepare a chanting cake (CC) for Mahaprabhu. He empowered me, and I could feel His mercy flowing through my consciousness.

Krishnanand Prabhu wanted us to bake the cake before the moon rise. Because with the moon comes the golden moon, Mahaprabhu. My chanting completed by 5.30pm. It reminded me of my initial months on this path. How I had chanted 64 rounds on two Ekadeshis that fell on weekends in March 2013. That was a trailer of Krishna’s mercy. When making an offering to Mahaprabhu, my heart burst into cries louder than before. My prayer to Him became intense. I begged for His mercy. I got a glimpse of what begging for mercy means. I squalled like someone who has lost everything dear to her, and she is begging to get it back at any cost. I begged to Him to make me a part of His family. Accept me no matter how sinful I am. “I have no one, but You, Mahaprabhu.” He heard it. A feeling of conviction, faith, and dependency  on Him covered me. A very personal communication between Mahaprabhu and me.

An experience like this heals all the wounds. But, sadly, the new wounds come up. The world within and that outside has armies of enemies that are ready to attack me in my weak moments.

Caught as I am in a danger zone, I pray to Mahaprabhu to always take care of me. I pray for His unconditional mercy. I need His protection more and more as tides get higher and higher in the ocean of Maya where I have been sinking since eternity and occasionally rising.

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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.

Verse 1.4 of Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita

Jai!

All glories to Shrila Prabhupada.

http://vedabase.net/cc/adi/1/4/en

“May the Supreme Lord who is known as the son of Śrīmatī Śacīdevī be transcendentally situated in the innermost chambers of your heart. Resplendent with the radiance of molten gold, He has appeared in the Age of Kali by His causeless mercy to bestow what no incarnation has ever offered before: the most sublime and radiant mellow of devotional service, the mellow of conjugal love.”

For ages and ages, the yugas yearned
Once then descended the Golden moon
To give what was not given–
consciousness of Radha
In the space within our hearts
Son of Saci sings Hare Krishna