Celibates at Radhanath Swami’s Radha Gopinath ashram have a day packed with services; many of these services have deadlines and quality control norms. How do the celibates (brahmacharis) keep themselves happy and blissful throughout the day?
As the passion of the day’s activities drains out one’s energies, the brahmacharis recharge their spiritual batteries during the early morning hours. This is a four hour charging process from 5.00 am till 9.00 am. During these hours the brahmacharis are focussed on connecting deeply to Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This internal connection to Krishna happens through a variety of ways. First the members chant in unison the prayers glorifying the spiritual master. This is sung in the same melody every morning. The devotees sing these chants prayerfully, remembering with gratitude their spiritual master and through the prayers recommit to the spiritual purpose behind all their daily activities. This is followed by a two hour group meditation where a brahmachari focuses on japa, a soft chanting of the Lord’s Holy Names. The members of the ashram sit in small circles and chant focussing on their own meditation, while helping and inspiring each other by their strong purpose. The japa sessions make the mind peaceful and helps one view all situations of life from the perspective of eternity. A brahmachari’s connection with Krishna is personal during this two hour meditation exercise.
After a short breakfast break, the brahmacharis gather to greet the deities who are dressed daily in gorgeous outfits. This is a special moment as by this time- around 7.45 am- lot more visitors and members from the congregation gather to participate in the programme. Then an ecstatic dancing kirtan has all members on their toes; brahmacharis swing and gyrate to the catchy melodies of the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra. This is a veritable de stressor; forgetting all worries, the monks unite and share spiritual camaraderie and love with each other while simultaneously glorifying the Supreme Lord.
Then an hour of spiritual discourse by one of the temple members helps all monks absorb in the sublime teachings of Vedic scriptures; these classes nourish the intelligence and the soul.
Having satisfied the bodily, mental, intellectual and spiritual needs during the morning programme, the monks are now ready to face the day’s challenges cheerfully. Sometimes as the day’s demands get intense, they share a secret smile with each other; knowing that divine joy awaits them the next morning. Thus all problems are a small price to pay for the deep spiritual experiences of the morning programme of chanting and dancing.
A householder friend who often frequents the ashram candidly shared, “you guys are blessed. Just as after a tiring day we householders are eager to spend a few happy moments with our loved family members you spend your happy moments with brahmacharis and Krishna every morning. Nothing can surely match this.” I don’t know about how anything can equal spiritual practises but most monks for sure wouldn’t want to trade these morning experiences with any material pleasure.