Thursday, July 5, 2007

Spiritual Fitness

HG Partha-Sarathi Das is rare-in his humility, dedication, sincerity, and compassion. Having met him at this year's Festival of Inspiration at New Vrindaban, playing kirtans with him, watching his worship his awesome Nrshinga Silas, sharing encouragement on the paths ahead, I was struck once again by the fact that even though I've never met this person before in this life, like so many other devotees, I felt like I've been intimate associates with him for lifetimes.

He is also rare because he is currently serving his third tour of duty in Iraq as a soldier in the United States Armed Forces. As of my last communication with him, he is in an undisclosed location, suffering from unwell health, but he is alive, in the spirit of devotion, and spreading the Holy Name, even in the most hellish of hellish environments.

You may or may not agree with the politics of his personal lifestyle choice, but it doesn't take anything to pray to Radha and Krsna for his well-being and safe return. He has many years ahead of loving devotional service that we all need to be part of.

This is the first in a series of articles written by Partha-Sarathi Prabhu about his experiences as a devotee fighting in Iraq...

Spiritual Fitness
By Partha-sarathi dasa

Today is the day prior to my moving up north to Iraq. It is also the day of the prayer breakfast that I was invited to speak at. I gave a power point presentation that I titled Spiritual Fitness. The intent of my presentation was to heighten awareness of spiritual life and to introduce soldiers to the basic teaching of Bhagavad-Gita. I decided to use four verses

I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who perfectly know this engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts. Bg 10.08

The thoughts of My pure devotees dwell in Me, their lives are fully devoted to My service, and they derive great satisfaction and bliss from always enlightening one another and conversing about Me. Bg 10.09

To those who are constantly devoted to serving Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me. Bg 10.10

To show them special mercy, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance. Bg 10.11

Being in the Army physical fitness is the main focus. We teach soldiers’ everyday how to kill, but we never teach how to die. Being soldiers we live with the fact that every mission might be our last and how the chance of death is everywhere. It is a cold, hard fact that stares at us everyday. Spiritual Fitness is needed everyday. We should encourage and remind each other that God is there with His hand out reaching for us, making opportunities for us to come to Him. I could see as I was explaining these points that it was an intense feeling among the soldiers. They were completely focused.
As I ended my slide show, and asked if anyone would have an objection against us chanting the Maha Mantra. To my surprise they agree and I put a slide on the computer with the Maha Mantra so they could sing along. I closed my eyes and prayed to Krsna to allow these men and women feel the power of chanting His name.
As the tempo of the kirtan increased, I saw most had huge smiles on their faces and those who didn’t, were nodding their heads in time to the beat. Finally I finished and put my final slide up, a picture of Krsna holding a chariot wheel and charging after Bhishma. The captions said don’t waste this life. Chant and live a sublime life.
Everyone then enjoyed their food and I set up my book table and answered some questions. More and more soldiers instead of eating where at the book table taking free books. The Holy Name grabbed onto their hearts. Just as one works muscles to better perform in combat, chanting Krishna’s Name is working the muscles of the brain. This is true fitness… spiritual fitness.
The Absolute Truth is Sri Krsna and loving devotion to Sri Krsna exhibited in pure love is achieved through congregational chanting of the holy name, which is the essence of all bliss.
CC Adi 1.97