Published on February 23rd, 2015 | by Harmonist staff5
By Aradhana dasi
“We shouldn’t judge our day by the good that has happened to us, but rather how much spiritual progress we have made “ Swami BV Tripurari
Waking up in the morning and chanting japa, walking through the halls of my High School, and even while basking in the glow of the egoistic fire of an insignificant English debate, I try to remember my gurudeva speaking this quote. It can be quite challenging though, I haven’t actually experienced much of the world and its natural and inevitable ups and downs. I’m also new to bhakti. However, while identifying as a devotee even in the most challenging of situations, I can still feel very secure with my gurudeva’s encouragement and his wise words on how one can experience our environment as ever friendly when we exercise the proper vision. So here I am at 17 years old, traversing the high school halls with a profound insight into the nature of myself and the world around me due to some unforeseen grace.
Just four days before formally taking shelter of my guru, I had absolutely no plan to get initiated. I thought it would be at least five years down the line considering my current schooling and my future college plans. When I expressed this to my spiritual teacher, he felt that waiting could be advocated, however considering my individual situation he expressed it would be better not to wait. Considering all this, I presented my own lingering reluctance to my devotee friends at the Krishna Road Temple. I quietly dropped my emotional bomb by explaining my fears. True to form, they were wonderful and showed their support. They presented the different scenarios, told me to stay calm and to pray.
Three days later, my 78 year old Presbyterian grandmother was waddling up the wooden steps of the Krishna Road Temple to support me in my formal initiation ceremony into the Gaudiya Sampradaya. I suppose it could all be viewed as happening suddenly, but in the largest and most profound picture, it has been lifetimes in preparation.
In my day to day existence, I really try to embrace the concept that the devotee is an agent of Bhakti devi. In my own life, I try to act as that agent to whatever small degree I can and promote positive impressions of devotees with simple gestures like passing out prasadam, being friendly towards my peers, and in this way try to represent the sampradaya in an attractive way. Considering I live in such a rural Southern area where people’s business gets passed around fast, a person’s brief contact with a devotee can form the basis of a much larger group’s opinion of the local “Hairy Krishners”- so best to be aware of my behavior and try to help them gain some sukriti.
As far as finding a balance between sadhana and the active social and school life of a teenager, rising early for japa is absolutely crucial for me. It focuses me and puts Krishna in the center of my mind and heart before I start each day. Sadhu sanga through reading and listening to lectures helps me feel connected and rejuvenated. Immersing myself each day in these rituals and activities is a reminder of my actual position as a servant of my teacher and God.
And of course, there is constant prayer – realizing that I am not the doer and that any effort I pursue to make spiritual progress is actually an effort to gain grace. That grace got me here and with it, I shall remain.