IN SEARCH OF SPIRITUAL AWAKENING… OR HAPPINESS?

SPIRITUAL AWAKENING V/S HAPPINESS: Read your ‘Bhagvad Gita’ for taking decisions and finding solutions to be happy, says ISKCON guru Radha Gopinath Das; Later on speaking to a one of the visitors at the Jagruti 2019 festival.
The ‘samudra manthan leela’ story… offers many leads to churning a happy life for oneself!

WHO’S in search of spiritual awakening or happiness – that is if we equate spiritual awakening with happiness? Is spiritual awakening equal or akin to everlasting happiness? Come to think of it all of us, okay, most of us constantly seeking happiness in our lives although I don’t know about spiritual awakening. All these thoughts are inspired by the last count I did of the growing number of masters and mistresses of the vast world of spirituality anxious to convert me from being a fool to an enlightened one!
Anyone might think I live such a sinful lifestyle that my soul is in desperate need of being swept clean, washed clean, de-polluted, de-contaminated, de-toxed, de-poisoned, whatever. Otherwise I’ll continue to live from hell to hell until this life is over! Look around and see how many are concerned today about humankind’s lack of connect with the Divine One. Whoever He or She may be (in Hinduism remember we have 33 crore or is it million divine ones beginning with creator Brahma, said to be the oldest and most venerated although Shiva comes a close second, no?) but then again many see the one God or Goddess as just an abstraction of the mind. But this is say every now and again I find someone willing to sanitize my life with the magic of spirituality and I go along with it with the thought that it’s not a bad idea to go from bhogi to rogi to yogi in life’s terminal passage of life or so to speak, my dears.
Today’s spiritual scenario is flooded with any number of enlightened masters, guru/gurumai waxing lyrical over ways to connect with the Divine who ironically may be found nowhere but perhaps right there within our own atma or soul. That is if one condescends to consider that the body could be a temple with mind, heart and soul making up inner spaces or sanctuaries where one may retreat to in stressful times to agonize or torture oneself with nameless guilt…seeking solutions to make up with whatever or whoever to find peace of mind and along with it perhaps an enduring happiness.
Funny, how we’re all in various stages of finding happiness but it is so elusive. I mean, my dears, all our religions are supposed to gift us with happiness, make us happier people but is it happening? We engage in so many religious shenanigans which make no sense at all oftentimes! Of course, that’s my shortcoming or limitations of say being nastik or impure sinner and that’s why so constantly unhappy with life, about life…bad karma, that’s why! That’s why bad things keep happening only to good people like me.
I get so intrigued by all this and ensnared occasionally. But this is to say I do have a soft corner for the International Society of Krishna Consciousness and having off and on interacted with some of their devotees and well-wishers — I don’t know if they’re the most successful group promoting Hinduism (through the eyes of the Bhagvad Gita as interpreted by Swami Prabhupada) — but at their recent Jagruti 2019 talks by none other than Radhanath Swami (topic “Life was better when apples and berries were just fruits”) and Radha Gopinth Das (topic “Churning the nectar of life”) at the Kala Academy in Panaji. I had to miss the first, but found myself sitting through the second talk on day number two of the two-day spiritual festival. They call it a festival of spiritual awakening and presumably that’s the way to find eternal happiness, by chanting maha-mantra “Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama, Rama, Hare Hare; Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Hare Hare.” ISKCON has some remarkably eloquent and insightful speakers.
Krishna Conciousness is all about the Bhagvad Gita and Radha Gopinath Das confided that he had spent the last three decades understanding it and how to apply it in life, his talk was restricted to the “churning of nectar of life.” He was referring to the episode from the Bhagvad Puran or the “samudra manthan leela” where the deva (gods) and devi (goddesses) were engaged in a fierce battle to churn the ocean with the help of Vasuki (Vishnu’s friend the multi-headed naag) and mountain Meru…. for various gifts which included the pot of amrit or nectar (there was also a pot of halhala or poison but nobody wanted that except Lord Shiva!).
As Swami Das explained the scriptures offer a lot of solutions for even modern-day evils if only we would read and understand them and in particular the Bhagvad Gita which is about the ultimate fight between good but idiotic Pandava family and evil, greedy Kaurava family…etcetera.
This modern-day ISKCON sage said that he was first inspired to study the scriptures and particularly the Bhagvad Gita because of a hearing impaired person in his life. Since Radha Gopinath was a speech or audio pathologist/audiologist he had played a role in rehabilitating this patient. One must not underestimate the power of true spirituality to heal, he reiterated over and over again while recounting the religious mythology of the “sagar manthan” in its nitty gritty. The gist of our vast religious/spiritual texts is to help us handle and triumph kalyuga never mind how long it lasts!
The Gita is like a creative manual to study and understand, he says, it teaches us how keep churning our live (lifestyle!) to get the best out of all the labor and be happy. In the end life is about love, not hate, and both deva and asura forces have to learn humility (forcefully if necessary)…think along divine and demonic nature as the only two castes humankind is divided by…something like the great wall of pride, arrogance, greed, harsh self-interest… “It’s our egoistic action which causes distress to others.”
I like this one, my dears: “The ultimate test in life is when you die, how many will cry? Those who have benefited from the quality of the kind of life you lived will cry and miss you…that is divine personality!” The number of people who have benefited from your life will decide how many will cry for you. Like Lord Krishna of course — see how many people loved him from Draupudi who called upon Krishna to rescue her in her moment of crises and as did Arjun when chose Krishna to be his charioteer instead of his 100 armies (which Duryadana chose). Those who have a divine personality are very sensitive…
Forget rituals but pray intensely and see the results, said the ISKCON or Krishna Consciousness guru, “You may become self-realized while travelling in a crowded suburban train in Mumbai! See how nobody is moved by the beggars who come and go but when that seventh beggar comes and sounds really desperate when he confesses he has not eaten for three days…someone or another’s heart will melt enough to offer him a donation.” The moral of the story is beggars cannot be choosers but it’s also much more than that and the answers are in the Bhagvad Gita from A to Z or something like that.
Life is all about the challenge of what kind of seeds you sow, what kind of sowing you do, and the patient waiting…now whether the rain comes on time or not – that’s destiny! “Just pray and work…in our heart of hearts we know we are dependent on the Divine and must find a balance between endeavour and destiny.” This Radha Gopal-ji spoke of many things intriguing…material blessings which are all zero and turn to poison if not enshrined by divine values, churning life for the nectar of happiness instead of the poison of a demoniac person (study the story of King Bali), remember how Lord Vishnu turned up as beautiful Mohini to distribute the nectar which both divine and demoniac forces were fighting to get their hands on? Who won? Life is very deceptive, don’t take it for granted. The Pandava forces didn’t want to fight but were forced to fight for the larger cause of “dharma”…what is right, what is just, what is good for the majority!
Okay, no more. But I must say I felt a little more vitalized like I want to live instead of die after listening to Gopal Das-ji. I’m sorry I missed the talk by ISKCON guru Radhanath Swami who too comes up with many charming analogies in his talks….(sigh)…next time. The ISKCON Jagruti festival is accompanied by prasad meal which one relishes even if it comes in the form of fried puri, sabzi, dal, rice, crispy wheels, kheer and there was a brisk sale going on of the usual ISKCON paraphernalia which keeps on increasing….some good quality kurta, prayer bags, glitzy clothing for the divine idol couple of Radha Krishnan, incense sticks, shawls, scarves and caps of a religious order, various healing oils, sacred wood beads, shudh desi ghee, herbal coconut oil, some sweetmeat dubbed as prasad to take home and more. ISKCON may go the Baba Ramdev way if they want to in the marketing of better than market quality products and produce!
Not that I’m enamoured by the opulent and shining presentation of ISKCON festivals but I do believe they’re engaged in some sound social welfare causes (apart from promoting Hinduism focused on the religious mythology of Lord Krishna). The latest I hear is that they have a Govardhan School of Yoga located at Galtare in Palghar district where they offer several courses of yoga teacher training, yoga anubhuti, yoga anubhav, women’s wellness workshop, yoga wellness retreat, Gita & Yoga and so on…and if you want to be familiar with the Bhagvad Gita there’re several courses you may join up.
I think one of these days I’ll go read the Bhagvad Gita with a new perspective! What we do need as soon as possible in this long-suffering country is a moral revolution above all other revolutions….but that must begin with you and me, then maybe our aya and gaya Ram governments would not be so steeped in corruption of the mind and body, heart and soul! Most of us just do not know or care about how all four components impact the quality of our life as dreamscape or “nightmarescape” (coining a new word here).
On that note it’s avjo, poiteverem, selamat datang, au revoir, arrivedecci and vachun yetta here for now.

— Mme Butterfly

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