Devotees


I never knew Aindra. I dont have personal stories and the only time I saw him in person was when I was in Vrindavan last year for Janamastmi and I was so far away, I could barely see him. So why does hearing about his disappearance hurt so badly?

I remember the first time I heard his kirtans. I only listened to the first minute, decided it was too slow, and didnt bother to listen to the rest.

The second time I heard his kirtan I was on a road trip with my husband, at first I thought he was messing up my favorite tune and I was annoyed. But since in those days we only had CD’s we listened to it over and over and the more I listened to it, well, the more it stuck to me and I decided that I liked him.

My husband likes slow, bhajan type kirtan while I pretend that Im a kirtan rock-star. I knew he liked Aindra because of his slow moving kirtan so I found a recording on the net and we listened to it when my husband got home from work. He started to cry, saying that the kirtan reminded him of Mayapur and he felt so much separation at that time. It didnt affect me as much. Until the kirtan started to pick up, mridangas and kartals playing faster, his voice crying our for Krishna- hey! He’s a kirtan rock-star too! And then I got the taste for his music.

I downloaded more, a friend of mine gave me Vraja-Vilas and I was hooked. I relished the slowness. His voice was crying for Krishna, yearning from the soul, it awakens these wild feelings in your heart for something deep and meaningful in your life. To abandon everything and just do kirtan. Who could do this to me except Aindra? His kirtan tunes made me cry, they made me laugh, they made me dance.

A devotee that used to travel with Aindra Prabhu back in the day told me that when he was in the US- his kirtans were ok. Nothing special. But something changed in him when he went to Vrindavan. Suddenly, like day and night, they became so beautiful and melodious.

His Grace Aindra Prabhu passed away on Friday night but it has taken me until Monday morning to write about him without crying. His kirtans changed my life forever. It changed my kirtan style, it changed my heart! I couldnt understand why Krishna took him away in such a violent manner. He wasnt sick. He deserved to pass away peacefully in the company of devotees when he became super old. Not alone in his flat. I didnt want to accept it.

A few people have died in my life, some of them close to me, some not so close. But it didnt affect me like his passing did. My friend, Vani-Seva talked with me about his passing and it was so helpful and it made me realize so many things.

I wondered, why did so many of our devotees pass away so suddenly? We went down the list- Tamal Krishna Maharaj- car accident, Svarup Damodar Maharaj- heart attack, Gour Govinda Swami- heart attack, Suhotra Swami- heart attack, even Bhakti Tirtha Swami and Sridhar Swami- even though they were sick, it was very unexpected and they passed away shortly, the list went on and on. I realized it is because death can come at any moment- and us devotees need to realize how precious our time is and we should take up Krishna Consciousness so seriously. Dont you see? We say, “yeah yeah Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, I got it.” But do you really get it?! We only have so much time, we have to dedicate ourselves 100%, dont waste time!

I was sad, I know he is with Krishna- I would never even doubt it. But we’ll never get his association again. I wanted to see him for Gaura Purnima during the festival in 2011. I wanted to fulfill my dream of dancing like a psycho during his kirtan. What will happen now? Where do those dreams go? But I know wanting to keep him here is an expansion of my own selfishness. How can I ask him to stay in this miserable material existence when he could be having mad crazy kirtan in Goloka Navadwip or running and playing with Krishna in Goloka Vrindavan? I was being selfish, he did his service, did the time, and now he had to go.

My friend also helped me realize that when Krishna feels like you cannot progress any further in your spiritual life, he just takes you away so that you dont have to deal with pointless accumulation of karma. Aindra Prabhu was already there. He was already 100%. So Krishna just took him, he didnt need to go further because he was already there so what is the use of remaining in the material world if you are already 100%?

I realized there are no small services, only small devotees. His service was simple. Kirtan before Gaura-arati and Deity dressing. He wasnt a great cook or a pakka pujari, he never became temple president and never served on the GBC. When I read about people who encounter him, they always say, “he and I were standing in the back when…” it amazes me how someone so simple can have such a profound effect on the whole world! It just proved that if we have firm conviction in Srila Prabhupada’s movement and dedication to our service, we can go so far and inspire so many people.

There is a tune that I try to sing sometimes. It sounds like crying. Somehow it doesnt sound the same like when Aindra Prabhu sings it.

You have taught me Aindra Prabhu. To dedicate my heart in kirtan. And to dedicate my life to Krishna. I want to give my everything. I want to be 100% too. Please pray for me Prabhu. I am fallen and foolish with no good qualities but by your mercy I can do something for the pleasure of Krishna and devotees. Thank you Aindra Prabhu. Thank you.

All glories to the life and passing of His Grace Sriman Namacharya Aindra Das Prabhu!

Janamastmi in Vrindavan 2009

Want to know something? I love designing and creating Deity outfits. But my only downfall is the follow through. I get bored with  project and I dont finish it and move on to something else without finishing the first project. But its in my mind! I havent forgotten about my yellow Deity dress with silver designs. Its a work in progress that I will post in a few days.

Things have been hectic. Stuff going on in the temple and I am in a helpless position. I got to hang out a little with my Guru Maharja while he was here, he looked really tired.

Lately I’ve been thinking about moving to Alachua. I know I was super against ever moving there before. But, I dunno, when my husband and I were there on Sunday, he looked totally happy. And, maybe I’ll be happy too. I dont know many people. Correction- I know lots of people, none of them know me. I might be lonely, but its a feeling I’ve had my whole life. Maybe while Im there I’ll actually get seva to do instead of getting pushed aside all the time. Maybe people will see that I am “Prema-Rupa Devi Dasi” and not “Wife of Jagannath Das”, that I am an individual, not to be categorized into a group of “how a good woman must behave”.

*sigh* here’s to chasing the perfect life.

I have to study for finals but I just wanted to post something really quickly about something Bir Krishna Swami wrote on Dandavats.com that caught my attention, especially since I was, for some reason, under the impression that he was a bit liberal.

I thought about commenting to his post but I usually get myself in trouble in public forms so I try to say as little as possible on them.  But I think its perfectly all right to say something here because, well, its my blog, and not a whole lot of people read it anyway.

Now, if I am not mistaken, I think his words are directed toward the gurukulis. We all know that I am not their greatest advocate for a variety of reasons. But for some reason I find myself sticking up for them in this post.

First I do agree that there should not be any rasa-dances performed to modern music. Thats just weird and misleading to the public. I have also seen devotees perform dances to various Bollywood songs that talk about Radha and Krishna (though the song is usually in lieu of the relationship of between the male and female main characters). And its stupid. Srila Prabhupada never encouraged these kinds of performances, check it out in the Krishna Book.

However, I think its okay to do a Rasa-dance performance in tradition indian style with traditional indian music and song. Much like the Odissi dancers Indradyumna Swami uses in his Polish Woodstock Festival. Its not blatantly sexual, its extremely tasteful, and done in a mood of service to Krishna, not in service to the senses.

The next point he makes is, “having ladies dance in such a way in Harinamas that attention becomes focused on them”. And I wonder, how should they dance exactly? Despite my issues, one of the things I have always admired is how beautifully the girls dance. I have always wished I could dance like that instead of jumping around like a clumsy idiot. Is that what we would rather see? Girls jumping around? I think thats far more sexual than the beautiful and organized pattern that they dance in. Maybe Maharaj would prefer that they walk quietly in the back or maybe not even come on the harinams at all.

What he fails to understand is that these girls are not ordinary at all. Srila Prabhupada said that demigods will take birth here just to be able to participate in this sankirtan movement- they are the evidence!!! Think about everything they have been through and they’re still here! Why? Because they have this internal desire that makes them stay. Despite their activities they are still not ordinary personalities. The fact that their bodies are very beautiful and their movements are very graceful it wouldnt surprise me at all if they were some sort of heavenly being.

They arent trying to look drop-dead gorgeous, they just are. Many times I have commented that if you actually look at the way they dress, nothing they wear matches at all. Yet they still manage to look so beautiful! Regular people like me struggle every day to look even half as good as they do.

I was surfing youtube.com once and some karmi girl posted a video of her dancing and singing Hare Krishna as a joke. A guy commented to her post and told her that there was no way she could be a Hare Krishna because all Hare Krishna girls are good-looking and she was ugly, he then told her to youtube search the words “Ratha Yatra” and she can see it for herself that there wasnt a single ugly girl in the crowd.

And he’s right. I’ve never seen an ugly devotee (despite the sometimes ugly personalities).  Perhaps Maharaj, what you really need to be thinking about is not how the ladies dance, but why they dance, because certainly we dont deserve their dancing and amazing kirtan.

Here’s a solution to your problem of attractive girls dancing in an attractive way: Dont look.

Thats right. Dont look. A few times my husband has commented to me about the way I dance and I made it very very clear. Dont look at the ladies side of the room. Because I believe that women hold a sort of bewildering power. It just makes you all confused and you lose focus. And when women dance it’s generally not for the opposite sex but for the joy of dancing and the joy of dancing for Krishna. So dont look. It is not ordinary. We dont have ego issues with the need to show-off our dance skillz like the men-folk do.

I especially dont like men criticizing women. That is so 1982. I’ll tell you what, you watch the male’s sadhana and we’ll keep track of the female sadhana. The senior matajis can handle us just fine, thank you. I dont need a male bodied devotee telling me how to worship my Lord.

If you really want, I could criticize the way the males dance. If you call it dancing at all. All that jumping and spinning and flailing. Maybe you all should keep yourself modest. We arent wild animals, we’re civil people. Right? Why should you be dancing in such a way that you draw attention to yourselves? I am 150% against such dancing by men.

Edit: I was just reading some of the comments on Dandavats. While some make sense, some others were really stupid my favorite one was saying women who overexpose themselves agitate the men but when they fanangle with their outfits in an attempt to cover up it agitates the men so the best thing a woman can do is to be covered up to begin with so that she doesnt have to move around her clothes…..

Clearly this person has never worn a saree…..

Maybe the next time I go to program I should just wear a burka. Or would all that mystery be too much to handle? Horny bastards…

While surfing around on Google Video’s I came upon the movie, “The Universal Teacher”.

For those of you that dont know about this movie. Devavision Productions did a movie about the life of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur. I guess to advertise for this movie they put out “rare” film footage of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur. fake.png

At first the whole world was excited to receive such mercy. But certain devotees (myself included), after watching it over and over felt like something was kinda weird about it. And there was. It was fake. Dont believe me? A devotee from Croatia made an excellent video about it.
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Check it out here– he did quite a good job in the way he presented his argument- not only did he give good evidence but he was not offensive and even a bit humorous. However, Devavision took offense and were pretty mean to him but couldn’t provide any substantial refutations to his arguments.

So Devavision went on with their movie and continued advertising the “rare clip” and the rest is history. For some reason they put it on Google Videos and here we are. I had high hopes for this movie, despite my doubt. They claimed to have rare movies and photos. As well as interviews with various devotees that knew Saraswati Thakur. I love hearing about Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, he is really an amazing and inspiring personality. But, after watching the movie I was sorely disappointed. They didnt do justice to this exalted personality. Here I will give a little review of my likes and dislikes of the movie. Likes first, because there arent many.

Likes

  • They have some pretty cool effects- you can tell they have some very fancy equipment and editing programs.
  • They had a lot of cool pictures that I’ve either never seen before or saw for a fleeting few minutes. Like this picture from when he was quite young. Maybe around the time he took initiation or younger even? But its still cool:
    young-siddhanta.png
  • I actually learned something- I had no idea that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur had a Western disciple. He was German bodied and became initiated as Sadananda Das
    sadananda.png
    I always wondered if Bon Maharaj’s preaching in Europe did anything. Especially preaching to Hitler. Wouldnt that be weird if Hitler became a devotee? He’d be like, “Kill all the karmis!” Anyway, thats off the topic.

Dislikes

  • Though the effects were very cool, they were also very very distracting from the point of the movie. This includes:
    • The Music- especially the music that introduces each chapter. I realize that they are trying to give an effect to the movie by having some old music playing but it really broke the mood of the documentary.
    • The color– I think about 90% was unnecessarily in black & white and it was just annoying- it didnt really do anything for the movie. And also, they took the liberty of painting saffron onto anything Bhaktisiddhanta wore and I dont really know what that did either.
  • I didnt like the interviews. I was expecting to hear some personal stories and watch some people get teary-eyed but no one gave any at all, their talks were so ambiguous- like Saraswati Thakur existed so long ago that no one had a personal memory. Very boring.
  • I also didnt think there was enough information about Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur. He did a lot of amazing things and said some really cool stuff- a lot of which was never said, like what about when he chanted a million rounds and ate straight off the floor due to his humility? I mean really, if you’re going to make a movie entitled “The Universal Teacher” then prove to me that he really is the universal teacher. Maybe instead of it being an hour long documentary make it a few hours. Or even, make a whole series! But if you’re going to make a documentary on the life history of someone you regard as the universal teacher then you better prove it. If they wanted only an hour long movie, then why not just focus on one aspect of his life?
  • I didnt like the British stuff at the beginning of the movie, why put it there? We know all about the British rule and Gandhi and all that. Maybe they were trying to create some perspective on the era Srila Bhaktisiddhanta was coming from. but if you know him, then you know that he was completely unaffected by these politics- he even discouraged his disciples from getting involved while everyone in India was. So why stick it in there? Was it really necessary?
  • The controversial video- it really didnt add to this overall bad movie. It was like, “Here’s some pictures we found, lets splice it in with pictures we took, lets throw this random video clip in here, now back to the pictures…” I guess Devavision made such a big stink about it being real because if they admitted to it being fake then they’d have to take it out and the whole movie would have collapsed.

So this documentary on the life of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur got an overall bad rating from me. It really could have been better. Im not really sure what the midset of the producers were when they made it but it totally stunk. You can tell that they didnt really know anything about Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur and they should have done more research. They should have done better interviews and overall created a better storyboard.

If you would like to learn about the life of Saraswati Thakur an excellent book to read is called “A Ray of Vishnu” by Rupa-Vilasa Das which I know you can buy from Krishna.com for about $6.00 and well worth every cent. Its very detailed and well put together. It was a very good read and I learned a lot from it.

You know, in an earlier post I posed the question, “When does a person get mercy?” and talked about how I feel like Ive been struggling all my life and in the end I still struggle. If you didnt believe me- today will convince you.

As you know, I have been looking forward to Maharaj coming for the last two weeks, I think about it all day, dream about it at night- my husband can vouch for me and say that the first thing I tell him in the morning isnt “Good Morning” but “Prabhu, Maharaj is coming soon”. Today was the day that he came.

I woke up extra early, did everything I needed to do in the morning and as soon as the grocery store opened I drove there, bought yellow and red carnations and a dozen pink roses for the flower garland. Came home, did arati, then left for class. Came back, had a quick lunch, seperated the flowers and leaves from the stem them dropped my husband off at work. Came back home, finished opening all the flowers and made the garland, got myself all gussied up (I put on some make-up and a gopi dress), grabbed my kartals, my digital camcorder, garland (which, I had scented with rose water and offered to Krishna while I got dressed), bead bag, purse and bagpack and ran out the door. Was in class from 4:00-7:15. Ran to the car, drove like a maniac to the airport, arrived there at 8:05 on the dot, got to the bagagge claim all the while calling a certain devotee (who shall remain nameless (no one that I mentioned in the previous posts)) but he didnt answer. Finally, it might have been 8:15 (which is when Maharaj’s plane was supposed to arrive) and the devotee picked up, “Oh you just missed Maharaj by a few minutes, his flight came early and he left pretty quickly”.

I drove all the way home (which took me an hour) crying. I was looking forward to seeing him for two weeks and I missed him by “a few minutes”. I was more than angry, I was pissed. Not really at Maharaj, but, this devotee knew I was coming, he couldnt call me and say that Maharaj already left? I told him that I was definitely coming, he couldnt call me and say “dont bother wasting your time, Maharaj was really tired and just got in the car and left”. Is common courtesy that hard?! And like an idiot Im standing in the baggage claim with all my crap and he’s kinda chuckling and saying “Sorry Mataji”. Can you imagine how I felt?! Humiliated! Imagine yourself in my position. Devastating, isnt it?

I dont know if I can forgive him. I can, I think. In my mind I tell him that if a devotee cannot forgive you then you have no chance of ever entering Vaikuntha. However, though you have been selfish and inconsiderate toward me, I will still show you compassion and forgive you and I pray that it never happens again. But I doubt he would ever ask for forgiveness, he’s like a puri that way. You know- puffed-up on the outside with nothing on the inside? I know. Im completely miserable right now but somehow I still find time to crack a joke.

So instead of being on a “mercy high”. Im lying here on my bed popping Halloween chocolates into my mouth and my eyes burn from mascara and salt.

Bhaktin Praveen is the most unfortunate and fallen soul.
For no matter how hard she tries,
she cant seem to catch hold of the
lotus feet of the Vaishnava devotees.
But she tries. Oh, how she tries.
She begs for a little mercy
to quench her thirst for devotion
but not even one drop falls
from the sky of Krishna Prema.
When will this fallen soul become qualified?

Okay, I dont know if any of you heard me talk about this, but my Guru Maharaj is coming (that was me being sarcastic, thats all I ever talk about). And Im totally excited. Before I get on to my topic, I have a back story. To protect the identities involved, each character will be addressed by their initials (maybe, might be random letters). Its not a long story, but it has a point, promise.

So GGD used to employ some devotees- Namely SDB and GPD. There was a big fight between them and GGD and they either quit or got fired. Im not too fond of SDB or GPD- I dont hate them and I no longer hold a grudge against them for how they treated me- though I think GPD still dislikes me, SDB got over himself and now he’s okay. So Guru Maharaj is visiting and will be staying at the home of GGD and having programs there. But, because the programs will be there, SDB and GPD refuse to attend any of the programs to see their Guru Maharaj. I thought it was sad because Guru Maharaj loves them so much, in fact if you watch Abhay Charan, you can see them in the background of many many scenes. And I can imagine Maharaj asking at the airport, “where is SDB? Where is GPD?” and when he realizes they arent coming, he’ll be disappointed.

Thats it. So, at first I was really happy they werent coming. If you know me, Im all about personal association. When we visited Maharaj, they got all of Maharaj’s attention. They sang for him, served him, talked to him. And I want to serve him so much! So I was feeling really greedy, like, “Yes, now Maharaj is all mine, let SDP and GPD have their false ego and not go to GGD’s home. Ha ha ha!” And I went on and on to my husband, telling him that I was happy they were not coming due to a problem they had years ago and they still cant get over themselves.

And then suddenly I stopped talking. What I was saying was very very bad. Not at all the behavior of a devotee. I remembered the 26 qualities of a devotee (you can totally google this- Im so not putting a link up). The ones that particularly came to mind were:

1.Merciful, kind to everyone- This quality consists in the empathy one feels at seeing the sufferance of other people. The devotee is merciful because he is the well-wishing friend of all living entities. The best help to others is to teach them what the cause of suffering is, and encourage them to get out of their state of ignorance.

19. Respectful- A devotee offers respect to others without expecting anything in return. He respects everyone as part of Krishna and treats them accordingly. Always kind and polite, especially towards senior persons or advanced souls, everybody feels well in his company.

23. Friendly- A devotee leads everyone to Krsna, who is the best friend of all living entities. He encourages everyone; putting aside elitism and party spirit that divides society due to generalised divisions which disregard the qualities of the individual.

After I realized this I felt really bad. Sure, Im not their biggest fans. But they retain some good qualities, and I shoud be better than they are, though they are senior to me. Instead of cursing them, I should be praying for them. I should be praying to Krishna to give them a change of heart and not disappoint Guru Maharaj. And who am I really compared to them? Maharaj hardly knows who I am, and my singing is like a croaking frog compared to them- I cant please Maharaj as much as they would. If my aim is to please Maharaj then I should pray that they decide to come. This is the behavior of a devotee.

Though I do enjoy personal association, especially with my Guru Maharaj, I know it will come, I dont have to push it or wish ill of others. It just requires some patience. Besides, personal or impersonal- I love seeing him and hearing him talk, and watching him do his sannyasi thing. So I’ll be okay