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Inspiring Articles by Sacinandana Swami

Tracing Krishna by His Markings

By Sacinandana Swami

There are places in Vrindavana which give hints that the Lord was here.

“In some places, by His clearly visible lac-stained footprints, in other places by the peacock feathers plundered from His headdress, in other places by beds strewn with discarded belts, also by a multitude of disheveled groves and sand glowing with the evident marks of dancing in a circle does Vrindavana announce the manifold pastimes of Govinda.” (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, 2.1.325)

By following signs like these, great devotees are able to find Krishna. When I was young, I was a member of the boy scouts for some years. The German name for this organization is Pfadfinder – Pathfinders. Among other skills, we were taught to follow signs, like footprints, bent grass, or broken twigs. And in this way, we would be able to track down a person by the marks he had left on the environment.

This is an ancient art that reaches its perfection in the spiritual world. The inhabitants of Vrindavana could find Krishna at every moment by following His footprints, which were all over that sacred land. Bhumidevi would never allow Krishna’s footprints to fade, nor did the wind blow away the dust that formed those footprints. All the cowherd boys, and even the cows, and the other animals, had an understanding amongst themselves: no one or nothing should erase or change anything that bore the Lord’s footprints. They were particularly easy to identify by the unique, renowned markings of the elephant goad, flag, lotus, thunderbolt, and more. In this way, it was possible for anyone to find Krishna when they wanted. They simply needed to look. Thus, they would shout, “Here! The footprints point this way! Come and meet Krishna!”

We are also looking for the Lord, though it’s highly unlikely we will find Him by following His footprints. So how will we find Krishna? We trace Him by following His words, like in the Bhagavad-Gita. Someone who studies the Gita can easily detect that the words coming from the Lord’s lotus mouth point in the direction of the Lord. These words are like birds that leave the nest in the morning and then return in the evening. By following these words, we can come closer to the Lord and eventually reach Him.
The Bhagavatam informs us that the Lord’s words are one ladder which leads to happiness. The other is related to His footprints – the water manifesting from His lotus feet, the sacred river Ganga. It is an open secret that those who take shelter in these two beacons of His words and His Ganga will find the Lord.

We can also find Krishna by following the footsteps or example of those great souls who have already found Him. Srila Jayadeva Goswami once wrote a soul-stirring poem about the importance of following the example of great devotees who sing enlivening kirtans and become so moved that they actually shed tears of ecstasy!

O Harinama,
You enter my ear
and touch my heart.
Tears flow from my eyes
and touch the soft clay
so that I leave footprints
for others to follow my way.

Finding Krishna is not difficult, provided one has learned to follow the signs that He or His great devotees have left. It is an art that everyone can learn.

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