Tuesday, December 5, 2006

...lava matra sadhu sanga....

Hare Krishna ,
I hated coming to west since my childhood days, as I was born and brought up inthe pious environment in South India. My parents were pious and we used to visit the major temples regularly and so I got a taste for visiting holy Dhamas and worshipping Lord Vishnu in His various temples. My association with ISKCON solidified all these years and for 10 years, I accompanied my God sisters and friends, enjoying in holy pilgrimages.
But the Lord had some other plans for me. I got married to my husband, who is well-disciplined, but was not visibly pious .At our first meeting, he told methat he was not exposed to these spiritual topics and to ISKCON, but would not interfere with my practices. He, being a software engineer got a project in US. So we had to come. I landed in the place where I did not want to - at New York City, to take a connecting flight to San Jose.
I was chanting softly with my counter. It was just a month after our marriage.So I was very cautious in my every move not to surprise my husband with any seemingly "fanatic" expressions of devotion. He was naive and I did not want to rush. But what this country and my future life hold for me was a big question mark. A grey area that I did not want to even think. I was in a prayerful mood and always seeked blessings from any devotee I came across so that I would be able to chant the prescribed 16 rounds that I had promised during initiation.
When we were standing in the queue to check-in at the New York airport, withall these thoughts crowding my mind, I saw that serene face. An old man I guessed must be over 50, and the shika on his head confirmed that he was a devotee although he had not worn devotee clothing. I was so happy to see a devotee as soon I landed and I looked at his feet to mentally offer obeisances. His face was too effulgent and I immediately felt that I am not qualified to look at him directly. So I begged in my mind at his feet to bless me. His face showed off his years of chanting the Hare Krishna Mahamantra. Such tranquility emanated from his personality.
I did not pick up courage to go and talk to him as I wondered how my husbandwould take it. I kept chanting looking at this devotee. Suddenly all those whowere waiting in our queue were asked to move to the other. So I had to cross this person. I picked up this opportunity as given by Lord Krishna and said Hare Krishna to him. He replied with a smile in his face. I did not wait to continue the conversation any further. So I just went off.
Coming out of the check-in counter, me and my husband looked around and we were just looking for directions to proceed. I turned over to the familiar wish of'Hare Krishna' and found this devotee there, just behind us, waiting to talk to us. He asked who I was and I said where I am from and I introduced my husband.He asked where we were going and he joked something about California.
Then I asked 'May I know your name, Prabhu?"
He said, " Sridhara Swami. I am a disciple of Srila Prabhupada."
I was thunder-struck. I remembered reading about him in the Lilamrita. I bowed my head down; with folded hands .I did not offer obeisances falling to the ground, again wondering what my husband would think.
He said, he is going to some conference. So he is in this clowny attire. Then I requested his blessings.He said, "Give your one son to Jayapataka Maharaja (My GuruMaharaja) and theother one- give him to me"
And then he had to leave, immediately. This exchange froze me for at least half-an-hour. I felt such joy of having met such a pure devotee and being blessed by him. Such is the divine protection and arrangement of Lord Krishna.
Dear Srila Sridhar Maharaja, my association with you in this lifetime is only for a few moments. But those moments lay the foundation for the rest of mylife. Your blessings at a crucial phase in my life helped me to overcome theobstacles and steadied me again in my devotional path. They would guide me forever, I know. I feel a special bond and relationship with you, now.
But I have remained a greatest fool in losing an opportunity to offer obeisances to you, when you were physically present before me. I was worried about the place and circumstances, whereas Lord Krishna had arranged you tocome before me and bless me out of nowhere. I can never get that lost opportunity back.
I would strive my best to serve you and follow your instructions. As you said,by your mercy, let me become and remain a good devotee to guide my son to serve you.
Now I offer my respectful prostrated obeisances unto your lotus feet. Allglories to your Divine Grace! All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
Your servant,Lalithangi radha devi dasi