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The Gap Between Pink Slip and Red Lips

Posted by iskconklnews on May 30, 2011

By Vrndavanlila Devi Dasi

(Dr Vrinda Baxi)

We had just got down from Faluknama Express and ran frenziedly to enquire about the next train taking us to Mayapur. It was a passenger train which took us to Nabadwip Station. By the time we reached there it was pretty late at night and no boats were available to ferry us across to Sridham Mayapur. We decided to spend the night at Station Retiring room. As formalities were being worked out by my husband at the station, my little daughter Radhika was standing perplexed beside me. The stench, vulgarity of the general passengers and crushing crowd of a general bogie was still fresh in her mind. She innocently asked me, “Mamma where are we going?” Trying to read her, I said, “You know it beta, we are going to Mayapur to take darshan of your favorite lord Narsingha dev and of course beautiful Sri Sri Radha-Madhavaji.” She was still not satisfied and further asked, “Has Mayapur changed its location?” “Why, what makes you feel that? How can a place change its location?” She still had that puzzled look on her face and continued, “But earlier when we used to come, it never took us sooo loooong to reach Mayapur. I never saw people who would never get up to give me seat and would rather push me and shove me from all sides. Nobody yelled and shouted, but this time the journey is not coming to an end at all. After this long also, we have still not reached Mayapur.” I could quickly understand her mind and told her soothingly, “You know this is something new for you to learn. Mayapur is at the same place, but earlier, we used to go by flight and then a direct taxi to Mayapur, so it never took us so long. This time you have come by train that is why it took us little long.” “But earlier in the train they used to give us blanket, bedsheets, and towels, but how come this time they did not give us anything. It was all so dirty and people were spitting wherever they felt like… .”
I tried to explain, “Earlier we were travelling in AC coaches, so you were getting all those things, now we are travelling in Sleeper Class that is why there is a change. But everywhere you have people isn’t it? And they all have expansion of the Lord within them. Why to feel so bad about it?”
“Hmm Yeah, they have the Supersoul situated in their heart but then why were they not aware that I also have the same Lord in my heart. They did not love me or care for me at all. I did not like it.” That was her innocent way of seeking explanation to the vulgar behavior that so pervades the general class and way of securing her little Krsna-centric world of love, which was so different from what she was experiencing.
“It happens dear, not all the time people will be the same. When you do not like something, you should immediately try to learn that you do not repeat those things in your life and hurt others.”
“Hmmm. But next time I do not want to travel like this. Why cannot we travel the way we did earlier? Mamma please I like only that.”
I had always found her contented with everything that she had, she hardly ever asked for anything. I had never seen her act stubbornly, shouting or demanding things greedily generally the way other kids do. Now seeing her so perturbed, was little disturbing for me. For more than the material discomfort and my inability to fulfil her little desire, it was the emotional quotient that lay in her plea which mortified me.
Holding her tight, I just said, “Yes dear I understand that. May be now we cannot because…..”
Before I could complete the sentence, she added “I think we have become poor after you stopped going to office. That is why we cannot travel the way we used to earlier, isn’t it?”
With great effort I could just mumble, “Yes, perhaps you are right.”
She continued without paying much attention, “Does not lord love me, I think He should not make me suffer like this when He knows that I do not like it that way. And that too I am going to take His darshan only.”
I tried to infuse some cheer in her heart, “This is where you are mistaken dear, you know how much he loved his brahmana friend Sudama but even he had to lead a very difficult life. So it happens. It only proves that He loves us all. We are the children of such a richie rich father, Lord Krsna. He is the supreme, the most opulent one, why should we worry? Is it difficult for Him to give us a few pennies or to fulfil your desire to travel in an AC coach or by flight, but He is choosing to do it otherwise. There is a reason behind everything, but we sometimes tend to understand it later and sometimes that later also never comes. But we should have firm faith in Him and in His love. He is taking interest in you that is why He is not so easily just fulfilling what you desire but seeing that everything helps take you towards Him. Don’t you agree?”
“Yes, if you say that, it has to be right….” Then exclaiming suddenly she almost shouted, “True. He does not forsake me. You know even though we have become poor, He still comes in my dream. Yes, He loves me mamma, you are correct. He really loves me.”
The next day we took a boat and reached Mayapur dham. Bamsi bhavan was full, only a few rooms were available on high payment. So, with the help of devotee friends we arranged for our stay in humble Namhatta building. Radhika was looking forward to her incubated baby bed as she used to get in Bamsi bhavan, big well ventilated room and a beautiful garden with Krsna dancing on Kaliya’s hoods. Here we had dark room, next to some dark godown on the ground floor with narrow beds where we had to literally squeeze ourselves to make us fit on the same bed.
To my surprise, she was just fine and said, “You know Mamma I am very happy that this time Gangaji was so close to us for so long as we were crossing in the boat. Isn’t He merciful? Then just when I was thinking where my baby bed is, I realized I will be sleeping so close to you.” He had made things so easy for me to face. Her words almost brought tears of gratitude towards the Lord and my guru maharaj in my eyes. I wrestled to control them.
We had time just enough to dump our luggage there and leave towards the Shankha building for the GBC-SPT meeting. There again children were not allowed inside and also we were late for taking the prasadam. We ran towards Govinda’s, made her eat some prasadam. I was worried for her. She had to be left at a devotee’s house till evening till the meeting got over. This was a shock development even for us, for which even we were not prepared. But it had to be addressed immediately. My husband immediately thought of his old devotee friend whose house was next to the goshala, a place my daughter loved. With a beating heart, I slowly shared with her how we’ad planned for her. In a soft tone, I said, “You know guddi (Radhika’s pet name) beta, today is the day of test and austerity for you. Children are not allowed in the meeting, so you will be at that beautiful mataji’s house whose house is just next to goshala, where you have hundreds of friends….so many many calves and cows to play around. What do you think of this?” I asked with a faked air of jubilation.
“So you and papa will not be with me till evening? Why? You know that I am a very good girl, I will sit there peacefully without disturbing. You can tell the GBCs.”
“I know it dear that you are very good and that is why Krsna wants you to play with your calf friends and also do little sacrifice in staying away from us. You will see every evening when your austerity is over, you will get a reward.”
“Yes, Mamma He is so merciful. Today I saw Him in the same blue dress what I had got in my dream. I am so happy. He really loves me.” All the way even amidst little shades of distress of prospective temporary separation from us, she tried to chuckle all the way. She picked up the leaves that had dropped down from the trees for feeding them to the calves and the cows at goshala.
Our days used to be hectic. Getting up early in the morning, rushing from Namhatta to Lotus building for darshan and prasadam, then dropping her at friend’s place and then returning to Shankha building for meeting, from there proceeding to Chaitanya Bhavan for break away sessions and then to disperse for lunch for an hour to meet again. So we were together for a brief time during the lunch, when I used to rush from Chaitanya Bhavan (venue for meeting of our break away session committee) to Goshala (the place where our friends used to stay) in the scorching heat. Sometimes I used to go alone to pick her up as my husband engaged himself in carrying or arranging for a few things for our guru maharaj (His Holiness Bhakti Raghava Swami), or when available then with my husband. She was not used to staying away from either of us, especially me. Then in the evening we used to take our light dinner prasadam at Shankha building. The devotees at the counter were very warm and compassionate. She used to look forward to meeting them. Later one night as we prepared to sleep, she said, “Mamma now I understand how much the Lord loves us. You know every day when I miss you He sends one calf to make me happy. And then we are together for lunch. Again when you go away, the calves in the goshala make me feel little happy. You know even their mothers stay separately in a different room, so we understand each other. I play with them till evening…and when my austerity and sacrifice is over I get a reward. I get hugs from Radhanath Maharaj, darshan of my guru maharaj and blessings from soooooo many sannyasis. I am so happy. You know Balbhadra prabhu blessed me so nicely. He has beautiful blue eyes and so many cows. He told me and I remember having seen him on the website. I am very happy mamma.”
All my fears had melted in her sweet words. The next day we were leaving for my husband’s village, again in the same passenger train. But this time though she was physically with us, she was oblivious of her surroundings. She was happily ecstatic, cheerfully looking forward to reaching the village. Excitedly she was speaking, “You know we will get to see our cows and baya (my father in law) was telling me that there are two calves with whom I can play, I can run in the fields, I can go and play in Swarnarekha river … Oh I am so happy.”
He is so simple in His ways of love, we make it so complicated. Pleasure and pain, comfort and discomfort everything is so relative but wise are those who can rise above. Even in her small gesture I could see that the self same experience which had once proved to be the cause of so much disturbance earlier, now no way mattered to her, she was happy as ever.
mātrā-sparśās tu kaunteya
āgamāpāyino ‘nityās
tāḿs titikṣasva bhārata [BG 2.14]
[O son of Kuntī, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.]
But is this state so easy to acquire? Prahlad maharaj was subjected to great sufferings and tortures, but he was totally unaffected by them. But we do not even hold a candle to him. I was reminded of my constant pangs of pain when I was down with dengue not so long ago. I remember how with every shooting pang of pain, I used to remind myself “I am not this body, I am a spirit soul”, but I was still very much aware of the pain. I could not transcend the body. I was somehow managing to chant my rounds, but I know how those sixteen rounds itself had become so challenging for me during my sickness (body-consciousness days). No wonder we need varnasrama dharma, which recognizes our material body and tries to engage us according to our basic nature. In the close company of mother cow and mother earth, it gets so much easier to develop the qualities of servitude towards Him. Everything is so subtle but is very scientific. Westerners call our traditional agriculture as a gamble of monsoons, and ridiculed it suggesting technology to replace bulls and other methods of irrigation. But what will they understand of devotion and surrender? Traditional way of agriculture is godly as it keeps one constantly thinking of the Lord, as he sows, irrigates or does whatever he is reminded of his dependency on the Lord and thus constantly thinks of Him as His only servitor. Naturally every action in agriculture is anointed in His love. His cows and bulls remind him of Him. As the bulls till the land, their urine and dung make the soil more fertile pest-resistant, the fertility of soil remains intact as only the top layer is tilled, mother earth is not gnawed to yield forcibly. No wonder every Indian festival is deeply connected to the Lord. We do not have Valentine’s day or Mother’s day etc, we rather have Diwali where we celebrate the return of Sri Ram to Ayodhya or festivals like Khichdi, lohri, pongal etc where first crop is offered to the Lord. Our entire ecosystem is Krsna-centric, but slowly the modern so called science is demoniacally trying to replace the lord with scientists – GM seeds, living beings and what not. The thought itself is so demoniac.
While at one end I see this demoniac nature, I also see how adversity makes a person realize his spiritual identity and know his true friends. The pink slip has proven to be a boon in disguise in getting closer to Him. Many of my ‘friends’ have forsaken me for we are not so comfortably placed and it is below their status to acknowledge our presence, a few have tried to take advantage of our difficulties while a few have defined the beautiful family that Srila Prabhupada left for us in heritage. It is with the latter’s help and inspiration that I am what I am, still somehow or the other able to serve devotees and my guru. I could publish two books (The Fourth Wave and Gosamvardhan), come out with a free monthly e-newsletter, The Eight Petals. Had it not been for them, this period could have been so dark and trying. With the mercy of pink slip now I know who my true friends are, my kitchen fire is never off, our deities wear wonderful dresses hand-stitched by me and we have covered a newer realm of spiritual realization. Besides it has been a humbling experience.
Earlier when Srila Prabhupada said in his prophetic voice about cities crumbling down and people turning jobless, its seriousness never got registered in my mind- “I am a doctorate with good knowledge and industrial experience, what can happen to me?” Now that myth is broken.
Sometimes when I think of my little Radhika, wondering about her future as I have taken a little enterprising decision of homeschooling her. Her disarming uncontaminated innocence and deep loving nature and deeply rooted spirituality sometimes does rake up a few disturbing thoughts in me, but deep down I know the Lord is there to take care of all of us. We are the children of the most opulent and most loving father. It is just that we have to keep the umbilical cord of parampara and mahamantra connected to Him. The gap between pink slip and red bimba lips of the Lord can be radical. The moments of difficulty are so delicate and if our determination is fragile the gap can be immeasurable. However on the other hand if our faith is firm and we have the good fortune of guru’s mercy and prayers of vaishnavas the gap between the pink slip and red lips becomes so narrow, that it turns next to negligible.
Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

[NOTE: About two years ago, I posted one article by the same name. It helped me get wonderful friends and string of well wishers. While I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to them, I also felt responsible to post another one as an update. Thank you for being around and for your good wishes. I also hope that this article is of help to those who are placed in a similar trying situation. Hare Krsna!]

By Vrndavanlila Devi Dasi (Dr Vrinda Baxi)
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