Wednesday, January 16, 2008

My India Diary-Part 13

Day 31 Chowpatty 1/6

HH Radhanath Swami Maharaja entered the esoteric realm of dreams during his Bhagavatam class this morning, imploring us to "Jiv Jago" from our attachment to so many plans, hopes, and enjoyments in the material realm. Even with some so-called intelligence, we understand the material world is a dream, but we think we can figure out the puzzle like some New-Age Bollywood plot with plenty of cheesy dances thrown in. We even decide to think we're God, trying to become transcendental to the whole affair, when we are not even transcendental to our own bladder.

Maharaja relates a story of a lot and hot harinama in Italy a few years back that ended with a refreshing dip in the sea. The only problem was that a million jellyfish were waiting to sting the tender skin of the devotees. So, the material world is like that. A shimmering, inviting illusion on the surface that hides a lot of pain below, and there is no escape in the material world from the pain, unless one dives into the ocean of bliss that is Krsna Consciousness.

I can't place what it is with the kirtans here-it's actually a combination of the effulgent exuberance of the devotees, the sheer number of jumping spirit souls, Maharaja's presence, etc...You actually FEEL that this is the Yuga-Dharma. No mental speculation. Just sweat, shouting the Holy Names, and hopefully no bruises or blood. All head games and other various flappings of the false ego disappear. It's true! This process really works! The devotees here in Chowpatty can show you if you dance with them.

Day 32 Chowpatty 1/7

It feels like we've always been here. Driving in the left lane, honking, traffic jams. The way people speak, shouting, holding hands like brothers. Cows in the street, even in downtown Mumbai. Everything's an austerity. Nothing is glossy except the plastic imported from the West. Krishna is here. He's on people's shop signs, in the movies, in the temples and homes, on their tongues and hearts. That's the nice part. When we touch down in Pittsburgh, PA, we'll be back in a land, where for now, Krishna is our secret that we need to share. The freeways will be smooth, quiet, and fast. The people not so warm and pushy. The temples instead huge football stadiums, the gods inside named Tom Brady. There will be big cinema screens too, but not even as big as India. Talk about culture shock.

Brahmacari class went on about the qualities of the soul, as described in verse 2:20 of the Gita. The discussion was very lively, and I did my best to keep up. Interesting questions from HG Damodar Gopal Prabhu: What are the desires of the soul? How do these desires become so polluted in our mind? What is the true form of the soul? Is is a spark or our svarupa? How can it change if it is unchangeable? All I know is that we have to re-program our mind through spiritual intelligence and strong sadhana (of which I'm no expert) and that this is the only way to answer any questions about the soul. The great souls here in Chowpatty are the most inspiring examples for me in this regard.

They even take us across town for another late-night dinner at Radhe-Shyam, a restaurant owned by a local community devotee. A nice experience-in the association rather than the cuisine. The microwave-style pizza and Velveeta-cheese pasta congeal in our stomachs, but the glorifications and the friendships made are the real nourishment. May we continue to save the world.

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