Teen Spirit

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.


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5 Responses to Teen Spirit

  1. Dear Aradhana dasi,

    Thank you for this offering; I hope to read many more from you! 🙂

    And this is pretty much how I feel most days (though I am not 17 and in High School!)

    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.

    May Bhaktidevi continue to shower her blessings to you, and may you continue to share those blessings with all of us like you have in this article. 🙂 Thank you.

    PS. What a sweet photo of you & your gurudeva!

    • Thank you thank you thank you.

      I admire your poetry and other works so much- it was pretty exciting receiving this comment from you.

      The devotees amaze me everyday. They’re all so beautiful and genuinely good people….They’re everything that everyone looks for and wants to be in life. Gurudev has talked about how the path brings you to that point – and I totally see it in him and his disciples. They’re all just unbelievable kind and infinitely cool. This sangha is such a blessing.

      Bhakti Devi…. so merciful and beautiful.

  2. Aradhana,

    It was a pleasure working with you. I am so glad that you took up the task of putting your sentiment into words which you can share with others.

    Jiva Goswami in his Sri Bhakti Sandarbha emphasizes the attitude of gratitude and appreciation as a most significant vehicle for making progress in bhakti. Your spirit now teen and which will blossom in adulthood, will bring you blessings.

    Hope to hear more of your heart in the future.

  3. Cool! Nice article.

  4. Well written article Aradhana! I look forward to seeing more from you.

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