Realization


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

It sucked.

The End.

Ok ok, I suppose I should write something but Im not posting any pics because we all know what the Taj looks like. While we were in Vrindavan my family was all into going to the Taj Mahal, which isn’t that far away. I find the Taj to be so super lame and cliché. Ok, seriously, ticket prices are ridiculous, for Indians its super cheap, like 7 Rs. but for non-Indians its 700 Rs. So my husband thought that as long as my family and I don’t say anything they wont realize that we aren’t native Indians. I can pass for native Indian, my sister and Dad can pass for Indian. My Mom on the other hand, with her light complexion and freckled face coupled with her short brown hair, didn’t fool the guards. My husband instructed us that if anyone asks, tell them we’re from Bangalore. We stood in line and the guard checked our tickets, he took one good look at my Mom and told my husband that there was no way she was Indian. My husband quickly changed the story, saying that we were all from Bengal and my mother had no clue, so when the guard turned to her and asked “where are you from?” She grinned and said “Bangalore”. Yep, my husband had to go back and buy the expensive tickets before we were let through. During the ordeal my sister had managed to go through, and while she waited for us a female guard asked her a question, she couldn’t respond and she rejoined us.

So the Taj was built by some king with three wives and he liked the third one best (they always do, sheesh) and built this thing for her when she died. I guess some people find it romantic and a wonderful expression of your love for someone. Its lame. You stand in a ridiculously long line that goes around the building a couple times and when you go inside it’s a dark room with two tombs, one of Shah Jahan and the other of Mumtaz Mahal and then you leave. Exciting, I know. I think if I were into historical architecture this would have interested me more because Wikipedia talks about a bunch of stuff that I didn’t really take notice of. Or I just looked at it and thought, “well that’s Muslim-y” and that was it. The thought of people getting their hands cut-off after it being built wasn’t so appealing to me either. Meh.

The Yamuna has been getting smaller and smaller due to her separation from Krishna. The Yamuna runs right behind the Taj Mahal. My husband told a story that there is a balcony that Mumtaz used to look out of from her palace and the Yamuna was so close she would look at her reflection. Its kinda romantic I guess.

So while we were outside the building I could faintly hear Srila Prabhupada singing the Hare Krishna Mahamantra. I pretty much thought I was going crazy. That maybe the line was so long I started hearing things. But even after I had gone through the Taj and we were just hanging out outside the building, I could hear it. I mean, I didn’t want to be at the Taj but would I literally become schizophrenic from not being in Vrindavan? As we were leaving I could still hear this music faintly, it was driving me crazy, did no one else hear it? Why is no one saying anything?! Finally I turned to my Dad, “Do you hear that? Its way off in the distance?! That music?!” My Dad shrugged, “Yeah, its Prabhupada chanting Hare Krishna.” And that was it.

At that point I realized something. Love was not found in that man who made a marble house dedicated to a decayed corpse. It was that personality who gave us a house the whole world could live in. Love is not seen in monuments and buildings, but is depicted through our hearts. Srila Prabhupada loves Krishna so so much that he cant contain himself, he has to share it with everyone. That is love. We look for love in all the wrong places and for all the wrong reasons, but Srila Prabhupada is so kind, an embodiment of true love, that he distributes love of Krishna freely, he is so eager for us to taste what he tastes, to give us a glimpse of his love for Krishna so that we too can rekindle our lost love. Srila Prabhupada loves us so much that even here, even in the most odd and random place you can hear Srila Prabhupada:

“Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare. Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare….”

Ok, eariler I was looking for a section from Caitanya Caritamrta about devotees fighting with each other and it had mysteriously disappeared. Recently I found it! But not in Caitanya Caritamrta, it was in the Nityananda Caritamrta- close but no burfi, hehe.

Its at the very end of Adi-lila:

Vaisnavas are always pure and full of knowledge. So, if there is ever any quarrel between them, know it simply to be part of their pastime. If a person takes the side of one Vaisnava and criticises another, then certainly he is vanquished.

for some reason I thought there was more to it than this. But anyway, good passage to keep in mind when you see devotees fighting.

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…

Me: Here’s a flower, take it.
Sri Madana-Mohana: Okay…
Me: Next is the whisk-
Sri Madana-Mohana: Hey wait, what did you give me a flower for?
Me: Because its part of the arati
Sri Madana-Mohana: And thats it?
Me: I guess. I’m kinda thinking about my TV show right now. It starts in five minutes, so if I can hurry up with the whisk thing…
Sri Madana-Mohana: Oh okay…well thanks for the flower…not that I really need it…

I thought of this while I was cooking today and I needed some water. Which then reminded me of the verse:

patram puspam phalam toyam
yo me bhaktyā prayacchati
tad aham bhakty-upahrtam
aśnāmi prayatātmanah

If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it.
-BG 9.26

Which made me think about how we offer so many things to Krishna, most frequently during arati, but Krishna doesnt really need these things, He is the original creator after all. What’s He going to do with a leaf and some water? But the key here is devotion. An example that comes to mind is if a father gives his kid some money, and he uses the money to buy something for his Dad. Of course, the father could have just gone out and bought it himself or maybe its not such a great gift to begin with. But because his child gave it out of love, the father is very happy. So when we offer things to Krishna or even to our Guru, its not in the mentality that “this is a ritual and it must be done” or even, “without me they are completely helpless”. But more in the mentality of, “I love you, and this object, though you dont need it, is a representation of my love for you.”

Me: I found these pretty flowers on my japa walk today.
Sri Madana-Mohana: Aww.. I love it!
Me: I know its not very much but when I saw them I thought it would be perfect for your turban.
Sri Madana-Mohana: Thats so thoughtful!
Me: Well, I try to be, I love you so much, I wish I could give you more than some silly little flowers.
Sri Madana-Mohana: No, I love whatever you give me because you do it with love.
Me: Really? So you like my flowers?
Sri Madana-Mohana: Of course I do! Not because they’re flowers but because they came from your heart

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

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