onsdag 5 mars 2008

Hyllning till hängivna

Slutligen gav Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu rådet: "En person, som uttalar Hare Krishna-mantrat, anses vara en vaisnava. Därför bör ni visa honom all vördnad."
(C.C Madhya 15.111)

Jag har träffat på åtskilliga hängivna genom åren. En del har varit aktiva hängivna några månader och sedan lämnat Krishnarörelsen för något annat, andra fortsätter att tjäna Prabhupadas mission livet ut. Alla har de arbetat för att sprida Prabhupadas budskap, vare sig det gällt predikning, eller hårt arbete med städning, tillagning av prasada, med att arrangera söndagsfester och med att distribuera Prabhupadas böcker. Tålmodigt och utan rädsla har de stått ut med häcklare, dårar och fientligt bemötande när de sjungit Hare Krishna maha-mantrat på gator och torg. Häcklarna skränar en stund, och drar sedan vidare i sin tillvaro av tristess - någon enstaka av dem blir tack vare kontakten med Krishnas namn själv hängiven - men de hängivna återkommer för att sjunga Krishnas namn, år efter år, oförtröttligt.

Den tacksamhetsskuld som vi har till de hängivna går inte att mäta, alla vi som tack vare deras outtröttliga tjänst har fått den unika möjligheten att botas från vår zombietillvaro och minnas vilka vi egentligen är och vad som är vår uppgift.

"Genom att helt enkelt sjunga Krishnas heliga namn befrias man från alla återverkningar av ett syndfullt liv. Man kan fullborda de nio metoderna av hängiven tjänst genom att helt enkelt sjunga det heliga namnet."
(C.C Madhya 15.107)

Jag hittade den här roliga skildringen av ISKCON:s tidiga år och den enorma entusiasm och glädje över att tjäna Srila Prabhupada de tidiga hängivna hade (fast att chanta inuti en torktumlare eller med en plastdunke över huvudet är måhända att gå till överdrift).


My journeys on traveling sankirtan in addition to my own wanderlust during this time allowed me to observe the differences and similarities among Krsna temples from coast to coast in North America. There were many more similarities than differences. For example, a devotee visiting any temple was immediately greeted with obeisances (the kind where you actually get down on the floor) followed by a hug, a flower garland and a big plate of maha prasadam. There was a palpable comaraderie and unity of spirit among devotees during this period and the service rendered by my God brothers and God sisters was accented by dedication, simplicity and unwavering attachment to Srila Prabhupada.

In those days we had no furniture, and everyone slept on the floor. Offensive language was never spoken, and seeing a movie or watching TV was unthinkable. All Laksmi was turned over to the temple treasurer and all personal possessions easily fit in a BTG box. These usually consisted of a Bhagavad-gita, japa beads, a toothbrush, and perhaps a couple articles of clothing. No one ever took a day off or went on vacation. From the moment of waking ‘til the time of rest, devotees would be busy serving Krsna. In fact, it was a general practice that if someone finished their assigned duties they would report to the temple commander with folded hands and request more service.

At that time very few devotees had gone to India and almost all our devotional articles were makeshift western facsimiles. One temple I stayed in had no mrdanga so during kirtan a devotee would play the drum beats on a plastic one gallon jar. We strung our own japa mala from colored beads-red, yellow, green or blue-purchased from local bead shops. Our tilak was made from Fuller’s Earth which turned white when it dried on the body. Our dhotis and saris were cut from bolts of polyester cloth. Householders wore yellow then, and the single men and women both wore saffron. We usually wore t-shirts or button-down shirts, and at one point the turtleneck became a fashion trend. At times, even Srila Prabhupada wore such shirts. A standard element of the Krsna uniform, for both men and women, was the cape -- a rectangular piece of cloth tied at two corners, draped over one shoulder and across the chest (now worn exclusively by sannyasis). Genuine Indian kurtas and saris were rare commodities and if anyone happened to acquire one they became the envy of the temple. For the most part, clothing was communal property and you took what you could get. Dirty clothing was thrown in a barrel, washed and returned in the same barrel. To find a matching pair of socks was like discovering gold. To find matching socks without holes was as rare as pure devotional service. During winter months devotees wore hooded sweatshirts. In colder parts of the country they’d wear a hooded sweatshirt, thermal underwear and an extra pair of socks, which made it really hard to keep flip-flops on when trudging through snow.

Nevertheless, in the morning everyone would rise by 3:30 or 4:00, including those who’d been up most of the night doing service or finishing rounds. We’d brush our teeth with a toothpaste made from baking soda, salt and mustard oil -- a formula given by Srila Prabhupada. In the dead of winter we dutifully took bone chilling, cold showers. Kirk’s was the official soap of the devotees. To save money, bath towels were cut into two or three pieces, so after showering we’d dry off with a terry cloth rag about the size of a hand towel. Fresh razor blades were uncommon and when it came time to shave up, heads were scalped and sikhas hewn with ancient, jagged blades, by God brothers anxious to get to aratik on time. Bloodshed was profuse and occasionally a careless stroke of the razor would transform someone into a Mayavadi.
As Prabhupada said, our recreation was chanting & dancing. This was the grandfather of all aerobics and we really got a workout, often jumping up and down or back and forth non-stop through the entire aratik. This also helped us stay awake because, more often than not, if someone sat down during the morning program it meant they were going to sleep. Even the person giving class would sometimes nod off in the middle of a sentence. But snoozers didn’t dally long with maya because there was always one irritating devotee who would place his mouth about three inches from his sleeping victim’s eardrum and shout, “Hare Krsna!” The typical response was to indignantly insist, “I’m just resting my eyes!” But no one could stay awake long while sitting down. The only exception to this axiom was when devotees took prasadam. Then the principle reversed -- during prasadam, no one could fall asleep even while sitting down. But if you sat down any time other than prasadam, it was just as good as waving the white flag to maya.

The alternative was to stand but then you ran the risk of dozing off and falling over, which is exactly what happened to my God brother, Pratyaya prabhu. Pratyaya had been working non-stop to prepare for Prabhupada’s first visit to San Diego in 1972. In addition to neglecting sleep he told me he had also been neglecting his rounds, believing his service was more important. One morning while he stood listening to Prabhupada’s Bhagavatam class, he nodded out and tumbled over like a bag of rice. Despite Pratyaya’s sacrifices, Prabhupada made it decidedly clear later in his lecture that nothing is more important than finishing your rounds.

The holy name was the linchpin in our relationship with Krsna and devotees went to extreme lengths to stay alert while chanting rounds in the morning. One God brother, in order to hear his rounds clearly and avoid distractions, would chant japa with a 5 gallon plastic bucket over his head. I also heard of one small-framed devotee who chanted his rounds in the utility room while curled up inside the clothes dryer. Pinching, straining, stretching, slapping yourself in the face, running around the block, chanting japa loudly while leaping up and down, plundering the maha sweets, standing in a bucket of cold water, taping eyelids to the forehead, lightly banging one’s head against the wall and shooting each other in the face with squirt guns; these were some of the zany devices devotees employed to stay awake during the brahma-muhurta -- the most sacred period of the day. For visitors, it probably looked like an episode of The Three Stooges.

But devotional service was a declaration of war on the external energy and at times one would lose the battle. This could be something as innocent as getting discouraged on sankirtan, or it could fall under the heading of a bloop. There were three types of bloops. The least serious bloop was when a cook ruined a preparation by burning it, adding too much salt or some other carelessness. The most serious bloop, of course, was when someone left the movement. And the marginal bloop was when someone moved to another temple without authorization from his temple president. Ironically, in this case the other temple would usually see it as Krsna’s arrangement rather than blooping because more often than not, someone had just blooped from their temple and they needed a replacement.

Despite all the wacky behavior there was something very noble about the assembly of devotees. They were sincere and they were trying their very best to please Srila Prabhupada. In addition to following the regulative principles and chanting sixteen rounds, which was inconceivable to the overwhelming majority of the population, devotees had taken upon themselves the enormous task of helping Prabhupada bring Krsna consciousness to millions of forgetful souls.


"Genom att sjunga Herrens heliga namn upplöser man sin insnärjning i materiell verksamhet. Därefter blir man mycket attraherad till Krishna, och på detta sätt uppväcks ens slumrande kärlek till Krishna."
(C.C Madhya 15.108)

Jag såg ett program på TV häromkvällen om det forntida Egypten. En gång var Egypten världens mäktigaste civilisation och vad finns kvar av den nu? En massa sten och sand. Damm.
Den tidens människor och alla deras drömmar och förhoppningar, lidande och glädje, skratt och tårar är borta för länge sedan. Vad som återstår är några förtorkade mumier.

I den materiella världen är allt samma gamla historia: födsel, några års kamp för tillvaron och sedan döden. Och så börjar det om igen, ändlöst.

Hängivna må befinna sig på olika nivåer av förverkligande och utvecklandet av hängiven tjänst går inte utan en del misstag; vägen till befrielse för andesjälen brukar liknas vid processen att rengöra en diamant från många och tjocka lager smuts. Det tar sin tid. Men så länge en hängiven är uppriktig så är det möjligt för honom/henne att leda den betingade själen till befrielse, trots att den hängivne själv kanske befinner sig på nybörjarstadiet. De hängivna förtjänar all vår respekt och vördnad, trots sina tillfälliga tillkortakommanden.

När Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu skulle göra sin pilgrimsresa till Vrindavana så rekommenderade de hängivna att Han skulle ta med Sig Balabhadra Bhattacarya som Sin följeslagare.
Bland Balabhadra Bhattacaryas kvaliteter nämndes inte bara att han var en lärd man, utan också att han var okomplicerad och ärlig. Dessa två egenskaper tror jag är nyckeln till hängiven tjänst. Prabhupada kommenterar att "den som inte är falsk kallas sadhu (helig)". Han citerar också det bengaliska ordspråket att "För mycken hängivenhet är symtom på en tjuv", dvs man skall inte framställa sig som en stor hängiven när man inte är det.

Jag var i tonåren när jag kom i kontakt med Krishnamedvetande och i min oerfarenhet så trodde jag länge att alla hängivna bosatta i templet var första klassens eller åtminstone andra klassens hängivna (de hängivna delas upp i tre nivåer allt efter sitt förverkligande i hängiven tjänst).

Så var det naturligtvis inte, men det minskar inte min respekt för de hängivna. Oavsett vilken nivå de befunnit sig på, så har de varit mycket viktiga för mig.

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

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