“I couldn’t understand the difference between friends and enemies. My friend was shocked to hear that I was moving go the Bowery, but although I passed through many dangers, I never thought that “This is danger.” Everywhere I thought, “This is my home.”
-Srila Prabhupada in a conversation
As I have crossed my 40th year in this body, I have begun to hear, understand and appreciate the problems of ‘mid-life’crises amongst people in general. Many in their middle ages start feeling lonely and wonder if they have taken right decisions in life. They begin to question their decision, made over two decades ago, of having chosen a particular career or profession, or a particular spouse, and they wonder if life would have been happier had they made a different choice.
As a preacher/counsellor, I meet many who are disappointed in life and desperately need emotional healing. Most emotional problems in life originate in feeling a lack of deep, fulfilling relationship and a desperate want for a loving companion.
Even in our temple which is over flooded with thousands of devotees, it’s possible to feel lonely; I know a few devotees who have felt lonely at some point of time in life. Besides, I myself when I stay at Borivalli for a few days in a week to write my articles, or when I travel for my preaching services, I feel lonely and am desperate to come back to temple. My three day stay outside temple is very challenging and after the second day, I am literally choked up, and desperate to run back to the temple.
Contrast this reality of ‘loneliness’ amidst the burgeoning population everywhere in this world, with what SrilaPrabhupada had to encounter in his life of preaching.
Even before he arrived in the USA he was all alone; but never lonely. Being deeply united with Krishna and meditating on his spiritual master’s instructions, he single handedly preached, braving the extreme weather in Delhi; once he even collapsed on the ground due to a heavy sun stroke. He struggled all alone, and faced repeated setbacks in India.
Then, he attempted something unprecedented; he decided to go to USA and preach the message of Lord ChaitanyaMahaprabhu. He left not just Vrindavan, but the land of India. There were no devotees then in USA, and the weather much harsher than Delhi. He had absolutely no help. But he had Krishna, and although repeated disappointments confronted him, he wasn’t dissuaded. As he himself wrote to TirthaMaharaj, in response to a letter, “It is not very encouraging, still I’m not a man to be disappointed.”
Today I was reflecting that Srila Prabhupada made a big sacrifice of leaving Seva Kunja, Vrindavan, to carry out the order of his spiritual master.
In one lecture in New York during his initial days, Srila Prabhupada said,
“Here I am now sitting in New York, the world’s greatest city, such a magnificent city, but my heart is always hankering after that Vrindavan. I shall be very happy to return to my Vrindavan, that sacred place. But then, “Why are you here?” Now, because it is my duty. I have brought some message for you people. Because I have been ordered by my superior, my spiritual master: “Whatever you have learned, you should go to the Western countries, and you must distribute this knowledge.” So in spite of all my difficulties, all my inconveniences, I am here. Because I am obligated by duty.
Meditating on Srila Prabhupada’s sacrifice let me at least leave some silly, material distractions of my life for service to his mission. I know it’s easier said than done, but Krishna sees the intention more than anything else. Let me meditate today on how I can also please Srila Prabhupada in his service to his spiritual master, by not complaining about how devotees don’t understand me. Let me rise above the petty squabbles in life, and focus on making some sacrifice to please guru and Krishna.
Thank you Srila Prabhupada for giving us the precious gift of Krishna consciousness.