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My Journey to India 2011 - My Exalted Vrindavana Gurus and Their Teachings

November 19

It is well known that a sincere spiritual seeker should accept teachings from a qualified guru. After seeing that the disciple is equipped with the proper mood, the guru initiates him or her into the spiritual science. In this way the guru becomes his or her diksha guru (initiating spiritual master). 

As the disciple goes through daily life, it is natural that many practical and philosophical questions come up – while the diksha guru travels through faraway lands. To obtain answers the tradition advises the disciple to turn to instructing gurus (shiksha gurus) or the ultimate shiksha guru, Lord Paramatma in the heart. These shiksha gurus expand on the teachings received from that original diksha guru, confirming and solidifying them. Thus, a strong fundament is built in one’s life which rests on a profound understanding and realization of spiritual truth.

These instructing gurus can be humans, but also animals, Mother Nature and even life situations! In fact a sincere practitioner will find the whole universe lightening up with various clarifications and examples of his main guru’s teachings, provided the disciple remembers his or her guru and sincerely turns to him for answers.
This is the mystery of the guru-tattva which is revealed and arranged by the Lord Himself and is thus non-different from Him.

In the following entries I will try to share what I learned in Vrindavana this year from many exalted gurus, whom I often met unexpectedly under the trees and in the sacred valleys of this Holy Land. You will read about priceless gurus of inspiration – may they help you to move forward on your individual spiritual journey.

Vrindavana Gurus – The Crack in the Wall

For a few days I am staying at the Radha Vasundara complex to rest and recover my lost health. The complex is a tourist resort for middle-class Indians, with many nicely landscaped gardens and lawns. There is regular electricity which one has to pay by the day, air conditioning, satellite TV in all rooms, a golf course and other modern facilities. Golf carts zoom around, energized by humming batteries. It is an artificial world within the original and simple rural Vrindavana atmosphere – almost like a small Disney World without Mickey Mouse. Strange!

An army of servants is required to maintain this man-made world: cleaning personal, gardeners, accountants, armed guards, flower men and women, a paid pujari (priest) and even an aratika music machine with electric drums and gongs. One could feel captured within a golden cage, locked away from the free ecstatic world of Vraja.

Today I went on a japa walk within the complex; my steps were shaky as I walked along the high walls. Suddenly, a shaft of light hit me. It fell through a crack in the thick brick wall. I looked through the opening into the majestic original landscape of Vraja: at its trees, fields, cows and waves of sweetness. I felt like a prisoner longingly looking into freedom through the prison bars.
“How much I yearn to be a resident of that land of love.” – I found myself mumbling.

But in the afternoon when I met the old gardener of the complex, my reserved feelings changed. The old man was in great bliss as he lovingly supplied water to a champak tree. What is his secret, I wondered.
His answer came unexpectedly.
“We are directly in the laps of Giriraja – the best of Hari’s servants,” he explained. “Giriraja is here, there and everywhere. He used to be a huge mountain, but he sank into the earth. Beneath your house is his underground extension – his hidden lap.”
Then, raising his arms, the old gardener shouted: “Giriraja Maharaja ki jaya!”

His words were powerful and spoken from realization. He brought me back to a higher understanding: “Krishna is everywhere! Especially in Vrindavan.”
I felt the wall of my conceptions opening – another wall cracked up. How could I forget?

There is nothing other than Radha and Krishna in every atom of this world. When we develop this understanding there will be nothing to lament. We’ll go beyond the good and bad, happiness and sorrow. We will remain unaffected like lotus leaves that may touch water but never get wet.

The simple words of the Vraja-vasi gardener were like an explosion which broke through layers of illusion and cracked up my covered consciousness for a moment. The gardener and the crack in the wall are two of my Vraja gurus. As I write this, three birds twitter excitedly from the branches of the bamboo tree in front of my balcony. Confirmed!  

November 21

My Journey to India 2011 - Vrindavana Gurus - The Black Dog, November 21

I cannot wait to tell you about another of my exalted shiksha gurus from Vraja: the black dog.

One morning, as I peacefully chanted my japa, Lalita-kunda to the left, I heard him for the first time. He  was moaning with heart-rending intensity. The cry came from somewhere before the iron gate at the back of our ashram. There was something intense, almost human in his moaning which made me get out of my room at once to see if I could help. But when I opened the gate and looked for him, he had gone.
The next morning he was back, wailing even louder. This time I found him. He was middle-sized and his head was pointed beyond Radha-kunda towards the direction of Lalita-kunda. Oh, was he sobbing, whining, wailing. He was beside himself with grief. He had melted the hearts of two monkeys, who are usually quite self-centered. They had come over and were trying to comfort him by caressing his neck and head, mumbling some encouragement into his ears, one into the left and the other into the right. The scene was soul-stirring! I remembered part of a poem by Rumi:

“Listen to the moan of a dog for its master.
That whining is the connection.
There are love dogs
no one knows the names of.
Give your life
to be one of them.”

The pitiable cry of this dog was raw emotion, expressing an absolute need, which couldn’t tolerate any further delay.

When he noticed that I was watching him through the pattern of the back gate, he quickly composed himself clearly embarrassed by my intrusion and left. No mistake, I saw tears in his eyes.

A few days passed – no dog.
Then I met him again. This time in the temple of Radha Gopinatha at the end of the circumambulation path around Radha-kunda. He sat quietly before the deities, only those beautiful tears glittered in his eyes. This time I did not want to disturb him and spoil his ecstasy.
Standing before the temple I realized that the first time I had seen him with his monkey friends, he had looked over the two lakes directly towards the temple. There was no doubt about the address of his crying.

This dog is one of my gurus who confirmed a teaching of Shrila Prabhupada: The only price for Krishna consciousness are your sincere tears, tears shed out of longing for the king and queen of the Vrindavana forest, Shri Shri Radha Krishna.

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