Saturday, June 27, 2009

Devotional Scriptures

Attempting to read the great literary works in front of my eyes, I become bored and restless. I feel emptiness wash over my mind. The thoughts and emotions seem so trivial and pointless. I want something to shake me out of my materialistic slumber! I want something to smash my heart into a million pieces! I want to break down and cry!

I want truth. And I want that truth to be straight to the point. Truth that clears doubts. Truth that feels like you're walking through a park on a Sunday morning when the dew on the grass is just about to disappear from the Sun's rays splashing across the land. That's what I need to keep me going. Honestly there's only one place to find literature like that.

After reading Bhagavad-gita, Henry David Thoreau, one of the greatest writers and intellectuals of the modern day wrote: "In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonical philosophy with which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial."

That literature that speaks of devotional service, or bhakti, is the most thrilling and emotional. To tell you honestly, I enjoy reading the Bible and the Koran but they seem very dry for the most part. To really get some juice you have to dive deep and immerse yourself in prayer. The scriptures that explain bhakti act very quickly on the heart because they are not contaminated by the modes of material nature. Some of the Vedas are categorized in the mode of ignorance, so I'm not attacking anyone's scriptures, I'm merely pointing out that bhakti-sastra's, or scriptures pertaining to bhakti, are enriched with emotional ecstasy from the very beginning.

On one hand I very much enjoy Rumi and Christian mystics who have penetrated the rituals of their particular religion and have gone to a place very few people dare to travel. That's because to a certain degree they have bhakti. Bhakti is universal. Love of God. Prema-bhakti cannot be contained by a society or organization. It flows from the heart. Case in point Saint Francis showed how a Christian can become a pure lover of God. Rumi revealed to the world how a Muslim can become the greatest lover of Allah. Sectarianism destroys bhakti. In Caitanya-caritamrta it's stated in 2.22.65: "A faithful devotee is a truly eligible candidate for the loving service of the Lord." And in 2.22.71: "A devotee is considered superlative or superior according to his attachment and love."

So, getting to the point, it is the spiritual masters causeless mercy to be able to get a taste for reading the scriptures. But a very nice point is that we should read the scriptures in the association of the devotees to get the full benefit. Srila Prabhupada writes in Bhagavad-gita Chapter 12, text 9 purport: "And one should constantly hear Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam from pure devotees. This practice can help anyone rise to the level of love of God, and then he is sure of his progress into the spiritual kingdom of God."

The bhakti-sastras give us wonderful histories that teach us great instructions on how to love the Lord, they give us lessons on psychology, they give us culture, and most importantly they give us entrance into the spiritual realm of Sri-Sri-Radha-Krishna.

I guess to end this ranting about how great the scriptures are I should give an example of how rich they are. To me I really want to get a taste for that which is truly spiritual. But something spiritual that will make my heart explode with spiritual emotions.

This is a poem written by Srila Raghunath das Gosvami named Sri Abhista-prarthanastaka.

"Even though her eyes wew filled with tears as she caressed her playful son, and even though Rohini largely blocked her view, Mother Yasoda carefully noted the entrance of Sri Radha. When will I humbly offer betel nuts to Visakha's friend, Sri Radha?

When, again and again taking jewels from the box and placing them in Sri Radha's hand as in Her home She and Her friends make necklaces for Lord Hari, will the vine of my hand bear fruit?

When will Sri Radha, my queen, happily playing with the cuckoos, bees, and other citizens in Her pastime kingdom of Vraja's forest, fill me with transcendental bliss?

Stringing flower garlands with three or four friends by the Yamuna's shore, Radha bends down. Hiding Krishna suddenly approaches and earnestly tries to embrace Her. She resists, knitting Her eyebrows. When will I fan Sri Radha as She enjoys these pastimes?

In the splendid rasa dance arena on the sandy shore, Lord Hari became a blue lotus testing stone to test the value of a host of golden-complexioned girls intoxicated with pride. When will Sri Radha, the greatest treasure among them, delight us all?

When will this person draw a picture of Radha's beloved Krishna? When will this person give the picture to the flowering vine that is Visakha's dear friend Radha as She sits with Her friends on thrones of flowers deep in beautiful Bhandiravana Forest? When will this person show that picture to Krishna?

When in a solitary place at the top of a mountain will She point out the various cottages of flowering vines and recount the pastimes She enjoyed there? When, filled with happiness and embarassment will SHe eagerly ask me a question in stuttering words?

This lake is my eternal home. It is everything for Radha's friends. It is filled with the glory of Radha's love for Krishna. Krishna loves it as much as He loves Radha. I pray at this lake Lalita's friend Radha may eternally enjoy pastimes before my eyes."

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