While our little Sravanam Diaries podcast was on a break, a hiatus so to speak, I’ve observed a very interesting phenomena around myself. I’ve seen this trend my whole life, but, perhaps, now I’m old enough to talk about it. Or even just acknowledge it and try to see it in proper light. Let’s take a look at these two examples:
“Bhaktin Sandesh, how have you been? Haven’t seen you around in the temple… Oh, don’t bother with them, they’re just a bit too strict. I see you’re still wearing kanthi-malas! Jaya! Do you chant? You chant? No? Do you believe that Krishna exists? Jaya! Don’t worry, see, it doesn’t matter, what matters is that you are Krishna conscious. No, don’t be like that, come on, I have a point! Listen, one time Srila Prabhupada…”
“Gulabjamuni Mataji, did you wake up already? I see you’re missing Mangala aratis these days, is everything alright with you? Cause… I don’t know, you tell me. You do look like something is wrong with you. To leave the rope of rescue, to be slack in your sadhana, that’s a sign. Of degradation. You’re even skipping darshan aratis, by that time you should be definitely awaken… – fake smile, nodding the head, – anyway! I’m going for the Bhagavatam class! Why don’t you come with me, you know, purify yourself at least a little bit. Oh, come on, I’m joking, hahah. But seriously, whatever is going on in your life – it can be solved by doing everything exactly as I am doing. Come on, take example from me, purify your wretched life already! Listen, one time Srila Prabhupada…”
On one hand Srila Prabhupada has given us the most powerful formula of success, repeated extensively in his books and teachings. Simple for the simple. Just be Krishna conscious, do your best, do your maximum best. Krishna is in your heart, He is your best friend, He will guide you. Sri Guru will guide You. Vaisnavas are your protectors, they are like guardians, they shall support You. Holy Names as the yuga-dharma. Make Krishna conscious choices and march forward!
Sounds awesome if you put it like that.
Yet, why is it that we still presented the second example with Gulabjamuni Mataji? And why is it that you didn’t find it entirely non-realistic? Why is it that nowadays this is reality for some devotees?
Best way to put it is “Why save one boat and drown another one?”
In Russian the word топить (to sink, to drown) doesn’t just mean to get drowned literally. If at the final exam the teacher is giving the student a hard time, on purpose, trying to make him fail, that means he is trying to “drown him”. If some kid had a tragedy in the family, and mean kids surround him and begin to deride him and make fun, that means they’re “drowning” him.
So, a couple of years ago this is what I heard from one wonderful devotee couple, Jagannatha Acarya Prabhu & Audarya Lila Mataji, “Krishna is not the kind of teacher that is trying to make us fail our exam”, “Krishna is like that ‘husband’ that was misunderstood by his wife and is trying to say, ‘No no! It was not like that!'”
And when we read Srila Prabhupada’s books, we hear about Krishna and how He loves His devotees, how He takes care, how He blesses, how He delivers and reciprocates, we begin to have faith that… yes, Krishna is indeed interested in my success as a devotee. He is not mean towards me, He wouldn’t deride me or wouldn’t fail me.
So who is drowning us then? Because pure devotees are the first example, Bhaktin Sandesh, they are encouraging our steps, they are helping, they take our hand to draw the letters when we are not able to even draw one straight line. So pure devotees wouldn’t drown Gulabjamuni Mataji.
When someone is in extreme circumstances of life due to tragedy, hardship, misfortune – sometimes survival can be an achievement at that period, or that phase in life.
So what do we do when we see devotees going through such major tests in life? We help them, guide them, support & encourage them.
We don’t drown them, because if we do, we may cause a great disservice to those devotees, and for everybody else who is observing us, we shall simply announce that we are biased, we don’t see Krishna’s parts and parcels around us, we don’t treat them knowing that Krishna is within their hearts as well as our own hearts.
In 11th Canto Srila Jiva Goswami defines the mode of passion to be violent. Goodness is peaceful, ignorance is foolish. But many times we as devotees, when we go into these “extremes” towards other devotees, or when extreme adversity is falling upon our shoulders, then the only rescue for our tiny sprout of bhakti-lata-bija is to cultivate connection to the Lord. And the Lord & His devotees are above the mode of goodness, what to speak of rajas and tamas.
My father Subuddhi Ray Prabhu used to tell me that it is not like only “straight ‘A’ students” go back to Godhead. Or it’s not that only “top students” go back to Godhead. One can be humble, meek bhakta that is peeling the potatoes for 30 years and go back to Godhead. When I was a silly teenager I would be like, “Pfff, maybe for some devotees it’s like that, but I’m supposed to be in the first league!” But time puts everything and everyone on their place, thankfully, and now I realise how wonderfully his words glorified Srila Prabhupada’s movement. Every sincere soul is going back to Godhead. Every sincere soul. So even for us there’s a chance for mercy.
Jaya Srila Prabhupada!
Jaya Vaisnava Thakur!
Sulalita Devi Dasi