India Journal 2008 #1

by Satsvarupa dasa Goswami

JANUARY 14, 2008, DAY OF DEPARTURE
I recall making spiritual plans of hopes before going on a pilgrimage to India. I just thought of two of them. One is to improve my japa. The other is to work conscientiously on my terrible envy. I’ll mention more of them as they occur to me.

The Christians speak of compunction, regret for their sins. They have disobeyed God and their spiritual master, and they feel sad from it. “Soak your couch with tears.” Remember going to Confession and making the act of Contrition? I can’t remember the words you spoke in private to the priest except, “Oh my Father, forgive my sins; it has been six weeks since my last confession… I fear the loss of heaven and the pains of hell…” Then something like, “I firmly resolve to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin.” The priest would then give you some penance, a number of Hail Mary’s and Our Fathers to recite at the altar rail, and you would leave the church feeling somewhat redeemed. It was for the salvation of your own soul. You usually recited some petty sins to him; this was in childhool. When I reached college age and lost faith in God, I stopped going. I even told the priest in my confession about my loss of faith, and he asked to speak to me in private for an hour, but my atheism was to far gone.

Now I’m in Prabhupada’s shelter, believing in Krishna as God. But I have sinned. In recent months, I’ve worried and regretted, mostly over my loss of reputation. My widespread infamy. “For one who has been honored, dishonor is worse than death.” Later in Bhagavad-gita, Krishna says a sage is detached from honor and dishonor. But I am feeling the awkwardness, bearing scars wherever I go, reduced and limited in my activities. Maybe in India it would be good to get more clarity about compunction, to really feel sorry, to actually cry tears. To feel the disappointment I caused my spiritual master and the trust I broke in my disciples and Godbrothers and sisters.

But I’m thinking it would also be good to realize that Krishna still loves me and never stopped loving me. He has made arrangements for me to be humble and has given me a chance to lose my envious pride. Especially if I could feel His abiding love and come closer to Him through this ordeal. Become a better man.

ON PLANE, ARRIVING IN MUMBAI, 5:30 A.M.
Dreamt of Srila Prabhupada’s disappointment in me. I said a sage is detached from fame and infamy. But I let him down, and when I see in my dreams that I’m not in his special favor, it gives psychic pain, misery. I used to be always a favorite of his in a quiet, honest way. He called me to be his personal servant.

I’m aware of his enormous capacity for forgiveness. “I am never displeased with any member.” But he has human feelings for disappointment; he doesn’t forget particular failures.

One man says he won’t recognize I’m a sannyasi until the year is up. But the GBC has upheld my sannyasa now. They have also said that those who wish to continue hearing from me faithfully are still my disciples. I stand strongly for these principles.

JANUARY 16, 1:30 P.M.
As our car arrived at the temple of Chowpatty, about twenty devotees were gathered to greet me with a kirtana. Baladeva had been saying that many devotees at Chowpatty have “grown up” reading my books and have affection for me. Many started when they were fifteen years old, and now they are thirty. They feel I’m like an old friend or an uncle figure. The preaching here sounds so advanced and organized that I feel there is nothing I could add. They can all outdo me in Srimad-Bhagavatam classes. Fifteen men go every day and give lectures and seminars in the colleges. There are counselors who train up as spiritual guides and then prepare familes for initiation. It’s all arranged and inspired by Radhanatha Maharaja, who I’m scheduled to meet tomorrow.

Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Softly speaking and then sharing japa with Yadunandana from Spain. Then eat a little chidwa. Then talk with Saunaka Rsi, who is in town for raising money for the Oxford center. Keep talking about how you feel.

I asked Saunaka Rsi his response to my troubles. He quoted Prabhupada, saying, “There is accident even on the royal road.” He said I worked so hard for forty years and gave everything, worked at management for which I was not particularly suited, and gained a good reputation, and now I have nothing—my one thing left in old age, my reputation, is gone. So now it’s just between me and Krishna and Prabhupada and a few friends who might understand me. It can be a purifying thing. It struck me what he said about the loss of reputation, because it’s a stark fact. I can’t get it back in this lifetime, but I can get something more valuable. When I told Saunaka I used to be special to Prabhupada, he said I still am. He said that Prabhupada knew I was special, and he also knew I could make mistakes.

JANUARY 16, MORNING PROGRAM
The interior of the temple is carved wood and gold. The main Deities, Sri Sri Radha-Gopinatha, are charming white. Gopinatha wore a flattish turban. There are also full-sized Gaura-Nitai and a small Radha-Gopinatha, and a Deity of Sri Nathaji. The altar is decorated with cows, deer, monkeys descending from trees. In the rear of the temple to the left and right of Prabhupada’s murti are statues of Hanuman and Garuda. The temple walls are lined with paintings of Krishna’s Vrindavana lila. From the ceiling, chandeliers hang from inverted domes. Everything is tasteful and first class. After the morning songs, most of the devotees stayed in the temple and chanted japa together. Felt weak and sat in a chair from the beginning of the samsara prayers, but I was alert and comfortable and glad to be there. I will stay up in my room and hear Saunaka Rsi Prabhu give the Srimad-Bhagavtam class over a remote speaker.

After the morning songs, a devotee honored my presence with all honorifics. I was embarrassed but pleased with their kindness and friendliness.

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