Evil Twin

There is someone living

within the corridors of my mind,

someone so foreign,

so distant, so isolated,

someone very depreciated.

He speaks like me,

looks like me,

behaves like me,

yet, he isn’t me.

He desires to exploit

the hearts and minds of others,

not really knowing that by so doing

he is digging his own grave.

Indeed, an evil twin dwells

within the corners of my heart,

fighting for every inch of land,

to plant the seeds of sins,

which will disturb everyone around.

This evil twin speaks within:

‘Cheat them, steal from him,

Lie to her, use them!

I am better than her,

I will destroy them…’

and so on and so on,

he is tireless indeed!

And I, simply follow his commands

just like a sheep who has lost its shepherd.  

Oh, Dear Friend Divine,

how can I be so blind,

and not see

that he is manipulating me

all around?

Oh, Dear Friend Divine,

allow me to transcend

this evil twin of mine,

allow me to accept him and

treat him as a friend,

so, I can serve and tend

everyone around!

Without Your merciful sidelong glance,

there is nothing good in store,

neither for me,

nor for this evil twin within.

Thus, kindly raise me above

and help me about,

to serve the hearts of others!

Your pretend to be servant

is making a plea!

Directionless

Tidal wave after tidal wave,

the turnings of the mind

they

rise and fall, rise and fall,

and don’t let me float above

all that drags me below

the surface of my soul.

I try gasping for precious air,

but only my ego gets inflated

and my mind screams-

‘I really don’t care!’

I put up my hands in the sky

and I keep begging the Divine

for the ‘right’ signs.

Alas, all it comes to my heart,

is filtered by my mind,

who is almost never very kind,

and distracts me till the end of time!

I ask You for the Direction

where I can find Perfection,

but You give me only suggestions!

I know it’s all Part of Your Divine Play,

I know You watch me from the bushes and the hay,

I know You always want me to pray,

but hey, it’s time for You to let go,

and reveal Yourself in Thy Holy Name!

Without Your Grace,

we are all directionless,

not knowing where to go,

what to do, how to act,

what to feel!


Without Your Grace,

we are like shooting stars,

running out of fuel,

soon to be put

out of existence!

Oh, Dear Friend Divine,

it’s only Your Grace,

that can show us the Direction,

on the way to Perfection!

Illuminate

Living in darkness

is not easy indeed,

but pretending

to have wisdom

is worse of a deed!

Looking within

the mirror of the heart

I see anything but

darkness.

Shadows of

past and future

lives are

crawling down

the corridors of my mind.

I’ve armed myself

with the cloth and spray

scrubbing every inch of dirt

alas, light is not coming up my way!

My old friends pride and anger

are dragging down my attention

and completely polluting my intention!

I try to compose a line,

so, I can glorify Your Smile,

but only brother lust

dances on the central stage

of my senses.

I’ve lost my way

and have no more

things to say

so, I guess it’s time

to pray!

Hey Dear Friend Divine,

illuminate my mind,

so, I can chase all the

shadows away!

Illuminate my thoughts,

so, I can compose some

lines for You!

Illuminate my body,

so, I can jump and dance

for You!

Oh, Dear Friend Divine,

illuminate my heart

so, I can be

the spark that

ignites the fire,

which starts a revolution

in the hearts of others!  

Oh, kindly,

illuminate

my soul,

so, I can surrender it all!

Divine Teachers

Oh, Divine Teachers,

oh, Divine Preachers,

when will you

take me by the hand

and teach me how to play

instruments for the pleasure of

the Couple Divine?

#

Oh, Divine Teachers,

oh, Divine Preachers,

when will you

take me by the hand

and teach me how to

decorate the clothes

for the pleasure of

Radha Shyamasundar?

#

Oh, Divine Teachers,

oh, Divine Preachers,

when will you

take me by the hand

and teach me how to make

the best of sweets

for the pleasure of

Radha Madan Mohan?

#

Oh, Divine Teachers,

oh, Divine Preachers,

when will you

take me by the hand

and teach me how to write

the most exquisite lines

for the pleasure of

Radha Govinda?

#

Oh, Divine Teachers,

oh, Divine Preachers,

when will you

take me by the hand

and teach me the most

exquisite dance moves

so I can delight

Radha Gopinath?

#

Oh, Divine Teachers,

oh, Divine Preachers,

when will you

take me by the hand

and teach me how to sing

melodious tunes

so I can delight

Radha Murlidhari?

#

Thus, this aspiring servant

is calling on the Divine Teachers!

Thus, this aspiring servant

is tolerating the blows of the mind!

Burden

I carry my pride,

my anger, my lust,

in the chambers of my heart,

but this prevents me from

allowing myself to trust.

All the cynical comments,

all the insensitive jokes,

and petty judgements,

are the heavy burden,

that prevents me from following hope.

Humility is a mirage in the desert.

Etiquette and respect are some things

that I can’t really accept.

Taking care of others­–

no, no, this really does not

matter!

More tolerant than a tree­–

nah, that’s not for me!

True, I am not this body,

but I am within this body.

Thus, I need to take care of it,

I need to bear with it,

I simply need to carry

the heavy burden I have

acquired.

Everybody carries a baggage,

so dear mind,

simply deal with it!

I know it’s hard,

I know you’re wild,

but with the help of the Divine,

everything will be fine.

This Boy Divine

is always anxious to help,

us the forgetful souls.

At the same time,

this Boy Divine,

likes to make us cry for Him

from time to time.

I guess we have to cry,

so one day the burden of our

troubles will go away,

and eventually we’ll be

able to dance for this Boy Divine.

I guess crying for the Divine

is the tax that we have to pay,

so we may enter His play!

Well, dear friend Divine,

please, kindly show me the way,

where I can pay!

Lost

Walking down the

forest path

veering to the

left and right,

for a moment

I believed

I was always right!

Suddenly,

I stepped on the

thorns of pride,

and lost everything

that I hold tight!

Then, the mind,

started acting

not so kind

and fooled me

so I became

completely blind!  

Now, lost in the woods,

completely blinded by

my moods,

I forgot the purpose of

of my walk.

It seems

there is only one thing left to do

and that is always listen and pray to You!

It seems I am gonna have to trust,

transcend all my lust,

and simply beg for your Embrace!

Actually, being lost in the woods,

does not seem that bad,

when You have me by the hand!

Actually, being lost in the woods,

allowed me to value

every step of the path

and simply surrender

fully my heart!

Yes, sometimes,

I will stumble,

but this is how

You make me humble!

Yes, sometimes,

 I won’t know the way,

but this is how

You like to play!

So, dear Friend Divine,

let me lose my way,

let me stumble,

make me humble,

but let me also

enter Your Divine Play!

Fear

Surrounded by darkness,

doubting every step that I make,

creates an atmosphere

in which is hard to create.

Not knowing the direction,

striving for perfection,

keeps my heart in isolation,

and I end up in frustration.

Praying day and night

for Divine revelation…

alas, reality does not meet

my expectations.

Fear is crawling

in the chambers of my heart,

dictating if I take

left or right.

I struggle to fight back,

but without the mercy

of Your Divine hand,

I don’t see any chance

for me to get out!

‘Hey, brother fear,

I tried diplomacy and

kind words,

but you refuse to hear!’

Thus, there is only

one thing left to do

and that is wage war against you!

Let me call upon an army of saints!

Let me call upon the Divine Names!

Let the scriptures become my armour!

And let my japa mala become my sword!

‘Dear brother fear,

I solemnly declare,

that it is time for you to prepare,

to lose the grip of my heart!

I shall fight you from within

and from without,

I shall fight you from the left

and from the right,

I shall fight you from below

and from above!

There is no place for you to hide,

for I have the Divine on my side!

Thus, prepare yourself for battle,

as I am tired of you

telling me how to behave!

Thus, prepare yourself for battle,

as I am tired of you

stopping me

from stepping into my gladiator nature!

Voices

Voices coming from the left

voices coming from the right,

from the front and back,

composing a never-ending symphony

of dreams unfollowed,

of traumas unhealed,

and of problems unsolved.

The mind shouts at me:

‘I want it all!’

The intelligence reminds me:

‘Control it all!’

The ego demands from me:

‘I can’t let go!’

And I, the soul, in the middle,

am trying to transcend them all.

My head is a battleground

for voices, never-ending,

foreign, distant, and mysterious.

For voices, vicious,

evil and depressing.

For voices, happy,

thoughtful and supporting.

Amongst all this storm and thunder,

amongst all the confusion and illusion,

amongst this battle between titan-like voices,

I the little soul,

the innocent civilian,

am trying to connect

with the Supersoul.

I scream and shout

day and night,

till I can’t hear even myself out!


Alas, all in vain,

all my efforts silenced

by the titans fighting

on the battleground

of my head.

I guess, there is one thing left

for me to do,

that is only pray to You!

Oh, dear Friend Divine,

don’t ignore me!


I may be a useless servant,

yet, I am trying to be Yours!

I may be after material gains,

yet, I try to call Your Holy Names!

Please, kindly make this battle of voices end

now and for all!

Please, let there be peace,

so, I can glorify You,

so, I can remember You,

so, I can adore You!

Oh, dear Friend Divine,

please, make all these voices go off,

and let me hear only Your Flute Divine!

Reckoning

Oh, dear Friend Divine

it’s time to draw the line

and see where we have come

up to this time.

Words were said,

mistakes were done,

now lessons have to be learned.

We can’t move forward,

unless we sit down

and think it over.

We run after lofty ideals,

and preach all kinds of spiritual truths,

yet we are faltering behind,

drowning slowly in our own fear.

We go left and right,

offending everyone in sight,

yet proclaiming that

Devine Love is might!

We stumble on the rocks of

greed, envy, and lust,

yet we are shouting Thy Holy Name out,

and asking everyone else to follow.

Hence, oh dear Friend Divine,

You took everything away,

and never let us had a say.

Well, we reckon this is Your

special mercy

that comes to very few, indeed!

They say it’s special

‘cause your Divine Intention

is to always increase our

inclinations

towards Your direction!  

Indeed, reckoning is upon us –

‘Which way do we take now? –

The one that leads to hell

or the other that leads to You!’

I guess, we

have to sit and listen

for Your Flute Divine

to penetrate our

stone cold hearts!

I guess, we

have to be patient

and wait for the wind of change

to blow in the Right Direction!

I guess, we

have to pray

for your Divine Intervention!

The Acts of Love

 ‘Acts of Love’

Dear reader, it is hard to find anything permanent in this world. We are born, we grow up, we become adults, then we grow old, and at the end die. Days and nights come and go, seasons change, the Moon chases the Sun constantly as if in celestial pursuit… The clock never stops to take a breath. We build, we sustain, time destroys. We inhale, we exhale, and die in between. We come, we go. We travel, we dance, we smile, we cry, we celebrate, we mourn. TVs, houses, cars, watches, laptops, gadgets, phones, airplanes, ships, trains–all so called comforts of modern life–we don’t take with us when death knocks on our door. We change house, country, state, one, two, three, ten times…an endless cycle, indeed!

A constant repetition, dear reader! And if you happen to subscribe to a tradition based on karmic principles (as I do), then the picture becomes even more morose– this endless and painful cycle continues life after life. Happiness and distress dance eternally in the hearts of us forgetful souls ‘Depressing,’ you might scream dear reader, and I hear you. It is depressing, it is painful, it seems hopeless. And yet, remarkably against all odds, there is always hope.

Actually, hope is the active principle of faith and so is service. Therefore, no matter how much we deny ourselves, we are made of faith. Faith in a brighter tomorrow, faith in the next moment, faith in the belief that one day the Divine will shower us with His mercy. At the end of the day, dear reader, His mercy comes to fortunate souls through the Acts of Love of His servants.

God’s servants are indeed the carriers of His mercy, the messengers of His Love. Ultimately, when God’s servants Act out of Love – when they bring the mercy, they become the spark that ignites the fire, which starts a revolution in our hearts. In turn, these fortunate souls, who happened to encounter a messenger of Love, themselves become the carriers, the messengers of His mercy. Eventually, they start Acting out of Love. Consequently, the Rain of Divine Mercy continuously showers over the heads of fortunate souls eternally. Therefore, dear reader, do not despair, hope is always waiting for you around the corner. Allow it to enter your heart.

‘We are the stories we hear.’

One of the ways to encounter God’s messengers of Love is by reading or hearing stories of the Acts of Love they have performed for others. We are the stories that we hear. Stories underpin the human condition at every step. Stories are the fundamental building blocks of our identities and relationships. We are who we are because we tell ourselves the stories of who we are. Over time, we start believing these stories and in turn, we start living them. Ultimately, the stories we are exposed to through culture, society, and art, create our sense of self and of ‘I-ness’ and ‘mine-ness.’

In this way, dear reader, over time we enter the reality of impermanence. The reality of eternal suffering that I described above. Do you remember? Fortunately, it appears that the messengers of Love always carry a basket full of books filled with transcendental stories – the stories of God and His devotees. These stories are unlike any other stories, for they point to the direction of ultimate and eternal Reality.

The stories of the Srimad Bhagavatam describe the loving exchanges between God and His eternally surrendered souls. By hearing these stories, we the forgetful souls, slowly turn our hearts towards the ultimate spiritual Reality, where God and His eternal associates live in joy and service. A Reality in which every step is a dance, every word is a song, and every moment is bliss.[1] Who would not desire to reside eternally in such Reality?! However, the only way to get in touch with this Reality is through the selfless Acts of Love by the messengers of Love. God’s servants can show us the way, they can present to us these transcendental stories, they are our only hope.

So dear reader, let me tell you the story of how I met one such messenger of Love around one corner of the world. Four years ago, when I was an exchange student at McGill University, Montreal, I happened to encounter one of God’s servants on the city campus. I was in a hurry, late for class, but somehow, out of nowhere, this little skinny lady approached me, introduced herself as a monk, and presented a book into my hands. She started speaking about the author, about chanting some ancient mantra, about the author’s relationship with the Beatles, etc.

I was generally interested in what she was speaking, as I was practicing astanga-yoga for couple of years, so I was naturally attracted to meditation, and I was vegetarian as well. At the same time, I felt I was in a ‘I know it all’ and ‘Don’t waste my time’ mood. Thus, I was being a bit impatient with her. Eventually, I felt where things were going– a donation request for the book. Therefore, I quickly got a $5 out of my wallet and was about to walk away from her for my class. However, this messenger of Love, dedicatedly continued talking to me, about the author of the book, about me coming to where her place of worship was, etc. I simply told her, rather indifferently, that I would come to the temple at some point. Then, I walked away.

I never remembered the she-monk’s name, nor did I remember her face, neither did I ever go to her place of worship. Little did I know, dear reader, that this messenger of Love, would change my life in such a fundamental way. Little did I know, that this she-monk would be instrumental in my connection with such a saintly personality as A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami and his books.

Indeed, dear reader, little did I know, that this brief Act of Love towards me, at that moment in time and space, would have had a ripple effect on my consciousness that would put me on an adventurous path of dancing with (reading) the Shrimad Bhagavatam, the eternal Reality of God, and the loving exchanges between Him and His intimate devotees.

Such is the power of a simple Act of Love. It can transform one’s life in an instant. Four years down the road, I still wonder, what the she-monk’s name is. I still try to picture her face in my mind. I still wonder if I would ever go back to Montreal at some point in the future and be able to meet her and express my gratitude. Alas, I don’t remember her name, nor do I remember now how she looked like, neither if she is still around. I can only pray in my heart for her wellbeing and spiritual advancement from afar. But at the end of the day, this is the beauty of these Acts of Love– they are rewards in themselves.

‘May your deeds be your own reward.’

 There are countless stories about the Acts of Love in the Srimad Bhagavatam, dear reader. All of them exemplifying the extraordinary compassion, self-surrender, and total dedication for the Divine Person, Sri Krishna. Stories of little boys such as Dhruva Maharaja, who walked out into the jungle to meditate and find the Divine Person. Stories of great kings such as Ambarisha Maharaja, who worshipped the Divine with all his possessions and kingly wealth. Stories of great self-surrendered devotees such as Prahlad Maharaj, who was both fearless in the face of danger and compassionate towards his enemies who were trying to kill him (his own father in this case). However, the story of the Rasa Lila is the crown jewel of the Bhagavatam. It is the Story of all Stories, which describes the glories of the greatest devotees of God, the transcendental milkmaids – the gopis of Vraj – and their loving exchanges with their Beloved Lord, Sri Krishna.

The Bhagavatam consists of 12 cantos, containing 335 chapters and 18,000 Sanskrit verses. The Rasa Lila is just 5 chapters out of the 335. It is the story that presents the highest vision of the Caitanya School of Bhakti Yoga. There are unlimited aspects and teachings on Divine Love contained in the Rasa Lila story, described by various saintly devotees throughout the centuries.

I am not going to pretend I have fully understood, what to speak of realised all the teachings in this Sacred Love Story. However, dear reader, I just want to focus your attention on one aspect that is of importance for the purposes of this essay, as it acts as a personal inspiration for me.

In the penultimate chapter of the Rasa Lila, Krishna speaks about the nature of Love and the glories of the gopi’s Love towards Him. He explains the different types of lovers– the selfish, the self-less, and the self-satisfied.[2] Ultimately, Krishna is conquered by the gopi’s Love for Him and He proclaims:

Dear ladies,

          indeed, for my sake alone

 You have abandoned the world,

          the Vedas, and

          even your relatives,

           out of love for me.

 It was out of love for you

          that I became invisible,

          though you were never

          removed from my sight.

 Therefore, you should not be

           discontented with me—

           O dearest ones,

          I am your beloved!      21

I am unable to reciprocate,

          your faultless love for me,

          your own purity,

And all that you have

          sacrificed for me,

          even over the lifetime

          of a great divinity.

Severing strong ties

          to your homes so difficult

          to overcome, you have

          lovingly worshiped me.

 May your reward be

          your own purity.          22[3]

Krishna is glorifying the gopis by explaining to them that they have sacrificed everything for Him, therefore He is unable to reciprocate appropriately. However, Krishna is breaking His promise to His devotees. In the Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna tells His devotee Arjuna that: ‘As all surrender unto Me, I reward them accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Pṛthā.’[4] However, He is so impressed with and conquered by the gopi’s self-surrender to Him, that He proclaims: ‘May your reward be your own purity.’[5]

In other words, Krishna is glorifying the highest type of Love towards Him – a Divine Love untinged by any selfish motives, expressed through self-forgetful and self-absorbing Acts of Love for the Beloved Lord. In this way, He is breaking His promise that He will reciprocate in the same way as one surrenders unto Him. The gopi’s Love for the Divine Person is so pure, that ultimately their deeds, their sacrifices, their austerities become rewards in themselves. Their deeds become Acts of Love.

So dear reader, reflecting on my experience with the she-monk from the streets of Montreal, in line with the teachings from the Rasa Lila story, makes me realise that it does not really matter if I ever remember her name. Nor does it really matter if I ever remember how she looked like. Neither does it matter if I’d ever meet and thank her again. All it matters is that four years ago, a devotee of the Lord decided to walk out on the street, to sacrifice some of her time, energy, and health. A devotee of the Divine Person, a messenger of Love, decided to stop me, Mr. Forgetful Soul, and give me attention. A devotee of the Lord that decided to dedicate herself to serve the great saintly devotees of the past. Ultimately, all that matters, dear reader, is that this devotee of the Lord decided to Act out of Love on that day, and her only reward was that very Act.     

‘All relationships are opportunities to serve.’

 Yes, dear reader, this world, this impermanent reality, may seem depressing, we may experience pain and suffering. We may struggle daily. We may inhale, exhale, and die in between. However, one sunny day, by the Grace of the Divine Person and the Acts of Love of His devotees, we can receive the Gift of ultimate Reality. We can read and hear the stories of the Bhagavatam. We can pass them on and inspire the hearts of others. We can become the messengers of Love, we can carry the baskets full of transcendental books, and we can Act out of Love for others.

We come full circle – from a receiver of God’s mercy, we are transformed to a giver of His mercy. That is the beauty and potency of a simple Act of Love. It just takes one moment, one decision, one step towards becoming a servant of others. It takes one moment, to introduce other fellow forgetful souls to the taste and inspiration of serving the Divine Person. And the best thing about it is that the Acts of Love are rewards in themselves.  Ultimately, all our relationships in this world turn into opportunities to serve others. All our relationships become arenas to share the stories of how we have received the Gift from the messengers of Love. All our relationships allows us to be the spark, that ignites the fire, which starts a revolution in the hearts of others. In turn, we allow others, to start writing and sharing their own adventurous stories.

Bibliography:

  1. Bhaktivedanta, A., 2014. Bhagavad Gita As It Is. Watford: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
  2. Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī, 1991. Śrī Brahma-Saṁhitā. Los Angeles: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust.
  3. Schweig, G., 2005. Dance of Divine Love. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

[1] Brahma Samhita ch.5.56

[2] ‘Dance of Divine Love-Part I- Poems From The Bhagavata  Purana- p.63

[3] ‘Dance of Divine Love-Part I- Poems From The Bhagavata  Purana- p.64-5

[4] Bhagavad-Gita As It Is- 4.11

[5] ‘Dance of Divine Love-Part I- Poems From The Bhagavata  Purana- p.64-5