Unwanted special favors

When I received harinama in 2002, I got the spiritual name: Haridasi. Of course, I didn’t really know what that name meant. Fortunately one devotee told me: Hari is the form of God who steals, especially He steals the heart of the Gopis. When I heard this I was very moved. I interpreted the name as a way of Gurudeva to tell me that he knew my heart, though I can’t really remember why it had that impact on me at the time.

I have kept my name, and I have really loved that name. I don’t know why – it’s just me.

So like last Christmas, I went to Vrindavin again and to KBM near Seva Kunj, meeting Didi again. But my head was not in the game. I may have physically been in Vrindavin, but I was not there at all. I was not practicing, all I wanted was to go back to my material life which was infinitely more attractive to me. I had lost taste in sadhana, and I had no way to understand how to get back into it. Because I find this material world so very seducing. I love it. I like technology and gadgets. I might even like people as long as I can control who and restrict access to me. I love my little world that I have built. I told Didi this and she warned me that if I didn’t start practicing I could loose all bhakti. I heard her – but it didn’t change me.

So I finally got home – and I still didn’t practice. And what happened? I lost the job I loved, my son is with his father, I will loose all money, and the roof over my head. Okey, it may not be as bad as I portray it, but it can easily go that way. I went into a dark, dark hole and couldn’t recover. Truth is, I see no future for me anymore. I wish someone could just put me out of my agony so I can be reborn in what hopefully will be better circumstances.

In those moments I received a mail: “Didi said today that if you don’t follow, then many things will weaken in your life, including your writing.”

It was impeccable timing as my life was weakening extremly quickly. Losing my job was like somebody taking the floor beneath me and I was freeflying, just waiting for the inevitable splat.

This time the message sunk in, and I began chanting again. I did my japa that day. The next day as I was closing in on the end of my rounds, one verse lodged itself into my mind.

The Personality of Godhead said: If I especially favor someone, I gradually deprive him of his wealth. Then the relatives and friends of such a poverty-stricken man abandon him. In this way he suffers one distress after another. Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.88.8

This verse have worried me for quite some time, because it has felt relevant to me. My life has been hard. I have constantly been swimming against the current, but not really been able to make much difference with my circumstances.

This time I have been given a real though blow which I don’t think I will be able to recover from. I have given up now, I see that I have no future. Whatever I try to do, it will not give even the slightest rewards that I think I deserve. And I have worked so hard to try to change my life in a positive direction.

So I began reading about this verse, and I kept coming across these sentences that just screamed – “This is me!”.

When a Vaiṣṇava, pure devotee, tries to be materially opulent and at the same time desires to serve the Supreme Lord, his devotional service is checked. The Lord, in order to show him a special favor, destroys his so-called economic development and material opulences. Thus the devotee, being frustrated in his repeated attempts at economic development, ultimately takes solid shelter under the lotus feet of the Lord.
… Lord Kṛṣṇa says that He takes everything away from the devotee whom He especially favors when that devotee is overly attached to material possessions.

 

… The Lord said to Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira, “The first installment of My mercy toward a devotee is that I take away all his possessions, especially his material opulence, his money.” This is the special favor of the Lord toward a sincere devotee.

Source: Vaniquotes.org

I am overly attached to material possessions, I love living in this material world and I don’t want to give it up. So much so that I want material life more than doing sadhana – every day.

Then I came to this purport and (one of) the real meaning of my name was revealed:

Hari, hari means “who takes away all your miserable conditions.” Hari, haran, harati. Harati means take away. He comes here just to give you benediction, to save you from all kinds of miseries. Therefore His name is Hari.

Haridasi

The “servant” who everything will be taken away from her.

 

If you think this is a benediction – think again. Would you be exhilarated at the thought of receiving special mercy? I’m not. I want material opulence. My name now sounds ominous.
My material life is being ripped away from me, but I keep on clinging to it because I don’t want to give it up. I don’t want to be a devotee. I just want to… you know… say a few hare krishnas whenever it pleases me and believe when it pleases me. I don’t want to live in vrindavin and be a full time devotee. I don’t want to live a nun lifestyle, throwing around the most prized word in the devotee language: mercy. Uttered with a special smile and glazed eyes.
I don’t want to be that person Krishna is forcing me to be. Why can’t I just be me and still belong to Krishna in the way I want. But noo, it has to be on his terms. So if you think you have free will in this life, think again. The only will you have is to go by His rules or not. And if you don’t go by His rules, you will be severly punished. In my case, my spiritual name even forbodes it.
Everything inside me just screams “Fuck that!”. But you know – that would neither be devotee-like or lady-like. But may be I don’t want to be neither, either.

Bhakti Rakshak Sridhara Maharaja on compromise and harmonize

Sripad B. G. Narasingha Maharaja on the disappearance day of Srila Sridhara Maharaja 2004

“He was very generous, to share his wealth with one and with all. He was not stingy. He was very gracious, kind and harmonizing. You may come and say: “Oh, this devotee said this, this devotee said that!”. Most people will then just jump and say: “Oh, then he should have a beating”. Immediately they will jump to one side. Srila Sridhara Maharaja would hear whatever you had to say, and then ask “Now, what does that other fellow have to say?”. Like in a court, let’s hear both sides of the story. He would not side with any party, and many times both parties are wrong. Then he would give a lesson, good for both parties. Not that he would just take a right or a wrong. Sometimes there was a right and a wrong. But even in right and wrong, is it always necessary to prove right and wrong? If you are such a black and white character in your dealings, you will always struggle with people. Maybe right, maybe wrong, harmonizing is the way to live peacefully. Not compromising. That’s a different thing. That’s when you put down your principles. But harmonizing should be one of your principles. There is a difference between compromise and harmonize. Harmonize is when you take it to a higher level. Compromise is that it goes to a lower level. Someone says this, and you come down, and you say “Ok” and we agree on some things down here, that’s compromise.  Srila Sridhara Maharaja was a harmonizer, not a compromiser. He would try to harmonize for the benefit of everyone. You can defeat someone. Generally when you defeat someone, they don’t fall at your feet and tell you you’re right. They just shut their mouth in anger and go away. And they continue to talk their nonsense.

Krishna consciousness is not a debate thing. Yes, you have to put the other argument strongly in its place. But then you have to give a positive argument that is attractive. Of course many people are stubborn. They are both put in their place, and being shown something attractive, but they don’t change. They just remain in this particular space. Srila Sridhara Maharaja was always giving positive encouragement. It doesn’t help to just punish a child. If it stops there, you broke the kid’s mind in half. Like, “What do I do now?”, stuck on a ledge. You have to correct, show the right thing and then give some encouragement about doing right. With Srila Sridhara Maharaja, at the end there was always this positive, glowing, encouraging outlook about any situation.”

Compliments of Syamananda Prabhu

We must think for ourselves and try to get further truths which are still undiscovered

520bhaktivinod20thakur20colorYou must yourself knock at the door of the inexhaustible store of truth from which the former ages drew their wealth. Go, go up to the Fountain-head of truth where no pilgrim meets with disappointment of any kind. Vyasa did it and obtained what he wanted. We have been advised to do so. Liberty then is the principle, which we must consider as the most valuable gift of God. We must not allow ourselves to be led by those who lived and thought before us. We must think for ourselves and try to get further truths which are still undiscovered. In the Bhagavat we have been advised to take the spirit of the shastras and not the words. The Bhagavat is, therefore, a religion of liberty, unmixed truth and absolute love.

These words found at the beginning of “The Bhagavat, Its philosophy, Ethics and Theology” were originally spoken by Bhaktivinode before an audience of Bengali intellectuals at Dinajpur in 1869.

– The start of the first chapter of the book “Hindu Encounter With Modernity” –

Knowledge without feeling is dry

10275980_10152667806424667_6787899080275202182_n“Although many of us may think of ourselves as thinking creatures that feel, biologically we are feeling creatures that think”
Jill Bolte Taylor, My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey

I never understood the meaning of “dry” knowledge. Knowledge have never been dry to me, on the contrary it has been like a well of inspiration. I thrive on knowledge, it’s what keep things interesting.

“Having developed faith in topics about me and being disgusted with all karmas, a devotee knows that all enjoyments are filled with misery. But he is unable to give them up. Still, with affection for me, with faith and determination, he will continue worshipping me, while at the same time partaking of those enjoyments which give rise to suffering and yet condemning them.” (Srimad Bhagavatam 11.20.27-28)
When, oh when will that day be mine? When my offenses ceasing, taste for the name increasing, when in my heart will your mercy shine, when, oh when will that day be mine? (Kabe habe bolo, Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura)

For the first time I felt something when I read these two verses, especially the first verse of “Kabe habe bolo”. If I read the next verse; nothing, no feeling. No understanding.

But especially the first verse of “Kabe habe bolo” is crying out to me. The feelings are so clear, and suddenly available to me. Suddenly I understand why the feeling “dry” is used, knowledge without feeling is dry. There is a level of realization missing that gives a deeper understanding and meaning to it. Knowledge without the heart is dry.

Mama mana-mandire

MAMA MANA MANDIRE
By Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura.

(1)
mama mana mandire raha niśi-din
kṛṣṇa murāri śrī kṛṣṇa murāri
Please abide in the temple of my heart both day and night, O Krsna Murari, O Sri Krsna Murari!

(2)
bhakti pritī mālā candan
tumi nio he nio citta-nandan
Devotion, love, flower garlands, and sandalwood- please accept them, O Delighter of the Heart!

(3)
jīvana maraṇa tava pūja nivedan
sundara he mana-hāri
In life or in death I worship You with these offerings, Beautiful One, O Enchanter of the Heart!

(4)
eso nanda-kumār ār nanda-kumār
habe prema-pradīpe āratī tomār
Come, son of Nanda, and then, O Son of Nanda, I will offer Your arati ceremony with the lamplight of my love.

(5)
nayana jamunā jhare anibār
tomāra virahe giridhāri
The waters of the Yamuna River cascade incessantly from my eyes in your separation, O Holder of Govardhana Hill!

(6)
bandana gane tava bajūk jīvana
kṛṣṇa murāri śrī kṛṣṇa murāri
May I pass my life absorbed only in songs of Your praise, O Krsna Murari, Sri Krsna Murari!

The 64 limbs (angas) of bhakti

  1. Accepting the shelter of the lotus feet of a bona fide spiritual master
  2. Becoming initiated by the spiritual master and learning how to discharge devotional service from him
  3. Obeying the orders of the spiritual master with faith and devotion
  4. Following in the footsteps of great acaryas under the direction of the spiritual master
  5. inquiring from the spiritual master how to advance in Krishna consciousness
  6. Being prepared to give up anything material for the satisfaction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead
  7. Residing in a sacred place of pilgrimage like Dvaraka or Vrndavana
  8. Accepting only what is necessary or dealing with the material world only as far as necessary.
  9. Observing the fasting day on Ekadasi
  10. Worshipping sacred trees like the banyan tree
  11. One should rigidly give up the company of nondevotees.
  12. One should not instruct a person who is not desirous of accepting devotional service.
  13. One should not be very enthusiastic about constructing costly temples or monasteries.
  14. One should not try to read too many books, nor should one develop the idea of earning his livelihood by lecturing on or professionally reciting Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam or Bhagavad-gītā.
  15. One should not be neglectful in ordinary dealings.
  16. One should not be under the spell of lamentation in loss or jubilation in gain.
  17. One should not disrespect the demigods.
  18. One should not give unnecessary trouble to any living entity.
  19. One should carefully avoid the various offenses in chanting the holy name of the Lord or in worshiping the Deity in the temple.
  20. One should be very intolerant toward the blasphemy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, or His devotees.
  21. One should decorate the body with tilaka, which is the sign of the Vaiṣṇavas. (The idea is that as soon as a person sees these marks on the body of the Vaiṣṇava, he will immediately remember Kṛṣṇa. Lord Caitanya said that a Vaiṣṇava is he who, when seen, reminds one of Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, it is essential that a Vaiṣṇava mark his body with tilaka to remind others of Kṛṣṇa.)
  22. In marking such tilaka, sometimes one may write Hare Kṛṣṇa on the body.
  23. One should accept flowers and garlands that have been offered to the Deity and the spiritual master and put them on one’s body.
  24. One should learn to dance before the Deity.
  25. One should learn to bow down immediately upon seeing the Deity or the spiritual master.
  26. As soon as one visits a temple of Lord Kṛṣṇa, one must stand up.
  27. When the Deity is being borne for a stroll in the street, a devotee should immediately follow the procession. (In this connection it may be noted that in India, especially in Viṣṇu temples, the system is that apart from the big Deity who is permanently situated in the main area of the temple, there is a set of smaller Deities which are taken in procession in the evening. In some temples it is the custom to hold a big procession in the evening with a band playing and a nice big umbrella over the Deities, who sit on decorated thrones on the cart or palanquin, which is carried by devotees. The Deities come out onto the street and travel in the neighborhood while the people of the neighborhood come out to offer prasāda. The residents of the neighborhood all follow the procession, so it is a very nice scene. When the Deity is coming out, the servitors in the temple put forward the daily accounts before Them: so much was the collection, so much was the expenditure. The whole idea is that the Deity is considered to be the proprietor of the whole establishment, and all the priests and other people taking care of the temple are considered to be the servants of the Deity. This system is very, very old and is still followed. So, therefore, it is mentioned here that when the Deity is on stroll the people should follow behind.)
  28. A devotee must visit a Viṣṇu temple at least once or twice every day, morning and evening. (In Vṛndāvana this system is followed very strictly. All the devotees in town go every morning and evening to visit different temples. Therefore during these times there are considerable crowds all over the city. There are about five thousand temples in Vṛndāvana city. Of course it is not possible to visit all the temples, but there are at least one dozen very big and important temples which were started by the Gosvāmīs and which should be visited.)
  29. One must circumambulate the temple building at least three times. (In every temple there is an arrangement to go around the temple at least three times. Some devotees go around more than three times — ten times, fifteen times — according to their vows. The Gosvāmīs used to circumambulate Govardhana Hill.) One should also circumambulate the whole Vṛndāvana area.
  30. One must worship the Deity in the temple according to the regulative principles. (Offering ārati and prasāda, decorating the Deity, etc. — these things must be observed regularly.)
  31. One must render personal service to the Deities.
  32. One must sing.
  33. One must perform sańkīrtana.
  34. One must chant.
  35. One must offer prayers.
  36. One must recite notable prayers.
  37. One must taste mahā-prasāda (food from the very plate offered before the Deities).
  38. One must drink caraṇāmṛta (water from the bathing of the Deities, which is offered to guests).
  39. One must smell the incense and flowers offered to the Deity.
  40. One must touch the lotus feet of the Deity.
  41. One must see the Deity with great devotion.
  42. One must offer ārati (ārātrika) at different times.
  43. One must hear about the Lord and His pastimes from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Bhagavad-gītā and similar books.
  44. One must pray to the Deity for His mercy.
  45. One should remember the Deity.
  46. One should meditate upon the Deity.
  47. One should render some voluntary service.
  48. One should think of the Lord as one’s friend.
  49. One should offer everything to the Lord.
  50. One should offer a favorite article (such as food or a garment).
  51. One should take all kinds of risks and perform all endeavors for Kṛṣṇa’s benefit.
  52. In every condition, one should be a surrendered soul.
  53. One should pour water on the tulasī tree.
  54. One should regularly hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and similar literature.
  55. One should live in a sacred place like Mathurā, Vṛndāvana or Dvārakā.
  56. One should offer service to Vaiṣṇavas (devotees).
  57. One should arrange one’s devotional service according to one’s means.
  58. In the month of Kārttika (October and November), one should make arrangements for special services.
  59. During Janmāṣṭamī (the time of Kṛṣṇa’s appearance in this world) one should observe a special service.
  60. One should do whatever is done with great care and devotion for the Deity.
  61. One should relish the pleasure of Bhāgavatam reading among devotees and not among outsiders.
  62. One should associate with devotees who are considered more advanced.
  63. One should chant the holy name of the Lord.
  64. One should live in the jurisdiction of Mathurā.

 

I was searching for the 64 limbs of bhakti, but was unable to find them. So I looked it up in my Nectar of Devotion. I noticed that the vedabase’s Nectar of Devotion is lacking the first 10 items. I just wanted to make the 64 limbs easily available by search.