Published on May 16th, 2019 | by Harmonist staff4
Your Extended Fortune
By Aradhana dasi
“They tried to take it off of me!”
“They tried to take what off of you, Nana?”
It was the morning after Narasimha’s appearance and I was sitting in the kitchen making breakfast for my grandmother. The night before, I had gotten a call that she was in the hospital after falling in a local grocery store.
“My beads” she answered as her hand was grasping the Tulasi necklace I made for her. “I told them I never take them off. They were trying to get an X Ray of my throat and kept insisting that I couldn’t keep it on”
Pushing her beads higher on her neckline she said, “Eventually they saw that I wasn’t budging, so they taped my necklace under my jawline so they could get the picture”.
As we smiled at each other with loving eyes, I thought about how much my grandmother had changed in the past three years. I specifically remembered the first time I came home wearing a sari and the horrified look she had on her face, yet now I was looking into new eyes, cleansed by bhakti. How much advancement had she made? How many lives has she surpassed? As Srila Prabhupada said, “When you take one step towards Krishna, then Krishna takes ten steps towards you.”
As devotees, we are agents of Bhakti Devi. Many of us in the West are the result of Nityananda’s empowering sakti manifested through Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada. Nityananda Prabhu, being Mahaprabhu’s best servant, Godhead as servitor, urged people to chant the name of Gaura, thus shedding light on Mahaprabhu’s supreme divinity and inner necessity. Describing the character of Nityananda in his original form as Balarama, Swami Tripurari, writes in his book, Sacred Preface:
Balarama, on the other hand, is the most complete manifestation of the Godhead other than Krsna, yet he is not emotionally whole without him. He exists wholly and solely for the service of Krishna. Uditau means “rising high,” “exalted.” Nityananda causes the name and person of Sri Krishna Caitanya to rise high on the spiritual horizon through his part in the conversion of the downtrodden and even immoral members of society.
Our life as sadakas is an expanded experience of Gaura lila. We follow in the footsteps of Nitai, who gives causeless mercy to those most fallen. At some point in time, we were recipients of such mercy. Krishna’s mercy follows that of his devotee’s. When a person comes in touch with Bhakti, that initial exposure ensures the eventual end to material suffering and begins the journey to one’s highest potential.
I started living with my grandmother five years ago when it became clear my mother was unable to care for me due to a history of mental illness. A big challenge for my grandmother and I was how to maintain a purposeful relationship with my mother despite her illness. One night, during one of my mother’s manic episodes, she came to the house screaming at my grandmother. It was painful to see the tears rolling down my grandmother’s cheeks as she watched her daughter, even more painful to see my mom suffer like that. Desiring to understand my dilemma more deeply, I emailed my gurudeva. He replied, “By your practicing, you are helping your mother. Even though she may suffer in this life, know that she has a brighter future”.
In hard situations, I try to meditate on what my gurudeva told me and the example that Srila Sanatana Goswami has set for us. The Vrajavasis loved him—devotees, common people, and even thieves. When children would see him, they would run to him as they were so eager to hold his hand. If the people of the village were feeling distressed, he would be there to lend them a sympathetic ear. How dear he was to Mahaprabhu! Being empowered to pen such books Brhad Bhagavatamrta and Hari Bhakti Vilasa. This is the standard of a true Vaishnava. He wasn’t someone who was hard hearted and completely closed off to the public. He was compassionate in all regards. We should follow his example by giving bhakti to whom we meet, in some way or another according to one’s natural capacity.
After countless numbers of times that devotees tried to explain the ideology behind Gaudiya Vaishnavism to my grandmother, she still claims, “I don’t know what you guys are all about, but I can honestly say y’all are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met”. Considering her selfless support of me and my spiritual journey over the years, I always joke that she understands the philosophy better than I do—dasa-dasanudasah, to be the servant of the servant of the servant of the lotus feet of Lord Krishna. Krishna Consciousness doesn’t stop with one person—it is contagious. You may not catch Mahaprabhu’s ecstasy in this life, but in one life you will.