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.
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.
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.