As far as I remember I have never been a God-fearing person but you can perhaps call me a God-loving person, and at times venting out my frustrations and anger at him and even calling him names. It’s a very personal relationship that I share with him and I believe I don’t have to justify to anyone how and what I feel for him. I guess I don’t have the sanctity angle of how to fear him, that might be even foolish. For him I would like to believe that he understands, although I am so fallen in the true aspects that I might not be even considered if he is looking out for the candidates who are ready for liberation. But that’s alright, right now I can’t care more about salvation and other things beyond our world and metaphysical dimensions but the topic in itself have always fascinated and intrigued me. But I can’t focus my mind in the spiritual endeavors that I wish to undertake. It’s a sign of agitated mind, and a mind like this can’t fathom much about the transcendental path to be taken.
With some questions that started bothering me 17 years back I went to Rukmini-Krishna temple with a friend. Like most of the times I was skeptical, I was uncomfortable with the very idea of meeting strangers and that too draped in saffron cloth with ‘Tilak’ made of sandalwood paste. The first experience of anything in this world is something which we never forget, but this was something which was not of this world. When we entered there was such a calmness in the air, the aroma of the sandal incense sticks burning in the corners of the temple hall was spiritually intoxicating. I was in a momentary pause, I never felt that aura before in my life, I just didn’t know how to handle the experience that I was encountering that moment. I was in a different galaxy, the ecstasy in my senses was invigorating. Debarun, my friend gave me ‘charnamrit’, a purified water that was fused with rose water, tulsi leafs, and flower petals. The chamber of Rukmini-Krishna was not yet open for ‘darshan’ and we would have to wait for another half an hour before the ‘sandhya-arati’. My friend introduced me to the deity of the old man sitting crossed legs in the opposite direction facing towards the chamber as Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada. I learned that he was the founder of this organization who sailed to America in 1960s with the sole idea of spreading Krishna consciousness. Debarun told me how he established the first temple in the soil of USA in a tiny shop named-Matchless Gift.
In the meantime we decided to meet Vrindapati Das. Debraun told me that he was a learned scholar and did his Masters in Metaphysics. His room was in the other building, we knocked the door and someone from inside asked us to come in. He was sitting and was probably meditating and chanting, he was a man of tiny stature with a magnificent nimbus surrounding him. He didn’t speak much until inquired upon, when I enquired couple of questions from him, he said, ‘One needs to develop the required faith to understand things as they are, start chanting, and start meditating’. He himself was living a simple life of simple sustenance, most of the times he was devoted to the study of books and translating scriptures. Probably this very encounter of a pure devotee so many years back is still a reminiscence of spiritual path that I undertook whose seed is still inside me. It was time for ‘sandhya-arati’ and also to witness the deities of Rukmini-Krishna, devotees have already gathered to sing the names of the lord, I could see the ‘Mridangas’ and ‘Cymbals’ being readied to accompany the hari-naam. I think it was the most beautiful deities that I have ever witnessed. I believe it blessed me and bestowed with the wisdom to undertake the unique spiritual journey for the next seven years which I consider it as a golden period of my life. That evening, I surrendered myself to the chant of Krishna and his wishes.
Since that day, and till the end of seven years I never looked back, chanting his name in glory, talking about Krishna with friends, singing his gospel. When Debarun and me initiated Bhakti-vriksha, a youth forum to preach Krishna consciousness some years later it was such blissful moment. Singing kirtan, cooking prasadam was the best of memories from this spiritual phase of mine.
Today, being Janmastami, I remember how we used to immerse ourselves in the name of Bal-Gopal, and used to witness ‘Nirjala-vrat’ (fasting without water) to purify our souls. By the end of the day we would sell and distribute thousands of books and dance in ecstasy. Waiting till the end of the fasting and having the first bite of prasadam as we if we were lying there hungry for thousands of years. I think about them, those days, and I perhaps want to go back to them. As another year passes by of not visiting ‘You’ in Janmastami, I pray that you forgive me of all my sin and pave my way which leads to you, may be give me back my innocence so that the bygone days come back…the days of Krishna!