Oh, today today today…
Today was just wonderful. So much mercy! SO MUCH!
I was waiting for my friend to call me since she was going to take me with her to today’s Hare Krishna Youth Class from the metro station. I would walk, but the weather is just awful now. 44 degrees and soaring! Not cool, man!
Anyway, I waited till 4:30 pm (class starts at 5 pm). No call. So I called her. It rang once and then it got disconnected. I thought she rejected my call for some reason so I waited a while. Then her phone was off. So I decided to walk. Anyway, I hate being late for anything. Especially since I was going to enter the classes alone today (it’s only my second time), I wanted to be there on time. I was praying, all the while, that Krishna would wait for me to get there before class starts, that He would send me a friend I could enter with, so I wouldn’t feel awkward. But I had to enter alone.
So I walked in, and I saw the lecture hall COMPLETELY EMPTY. I only saw the usual preacher talking to someone who appeared to be a Maharaja. I freaked out. Should I enter? Should I stay here? Am I too early? Thankfully, devotees were sitting in the kitchen, discussing something. I said hi to them and I expressed how I almost gave up my life when I saw the hall empty. One of them walked me in and told me to wait there, and class would start at 5:30 since they were having a meeting. So I sat there, while one young boy chanted in the corner, and the teacher left the hall. The Maharaja sitting there, with his head lowered, shaven head, and glasses perched on his nose, looked at me, with a smile on his face. I smiled back. He was wearing a colorful shirt and beige trousers. He was sitting next to a large pin-up cardboard cut-out of Nrishinga Deva.
“Hare Krishna,” he said.
“Hare Krishna,” I beamed. He noticed me! And he wanted to greet me!
“What’s your name?”
I couldn’t believe it. I wouldn’t have expected him to even take notice of me, at all! But here he was, greeting me and asking me my name! I replied, with a huge smile. He went back to working on his macbook. After a while, he let out a little laugh, and said, “Oh Krishnaaa!” Then he went out of the hall, to the other room and I could hear some chatter.
Ooh, let me IN! PLEAAAAASEEEEEEEEE!
I sat there, waiting, reading a devotional poem I recently wrote. The boy in the room was chanting and I was very impressed with him. He is very young, maybe 12? Last week, the teacher asked who wanted to conduct the aarti from now on since the regular pujari is going out of town. This boy immediately raised his hand and I was just amazed. His devotion just shines through. My cold was kicking in and I kept sniffing. It was very annoying and I suspected it would be distracting this devotee’s chanting. I asked Krishna to take away my cold because I didn’t want to disturb others who were concentrating on devotional things. And guess what. *Wiggles eyebrows* Yes. My sniffling disappeared! I barely sniffled after that! Hare krishna. Eventually, I decided to chant as well, on my fingers. Then 2 other boys came in and the 3 of them started to perform kirtan. Slowly, more and more people started coming in. And the kirtan got louder. At first, it was just the harmonium and mridanga. Then the kartalas came in. Soon enough, it came to an end, and the session started. Today’s session was dedicated to Vaisnava songs, or bhajans. We would go through a song, and then understand the meanings of the words. So we started with Kiba Jaya (Gaura Aarti) and then moved on to Nrishinga Pranam. Prabhu spoke to me for the first time today, asking me if I was able to follow, whether I was confused. I shook my head violently due to nervousness of being put in the spotlight. Like a madwoman I shook my head, saying I was fine and I was trying to keep up.
After explaining the songs, we proceeded with the evening Gaura Aarti. I clapped my hands loudly. I sang loudly. I joined in where I knew the words. I danced today (swayed, rather). I wanted to raise my hands, but I kept them down. I remember thinking how pleased Lord Chaitanya would be with our singing to make Him happy. It made me feel like crying. Tears were in my eyes. I almost started crying so many times! Don’t ask me why! I just felt it. I just wanted to cry. There was a huge cut-out of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in direct view. When I felt myself starting to cry, I said, “Lord Chaitanya, please, mercy…” In an instant, it hit me. I realized that these tears were mercy. I immediately began to feel grateful rather than pleading for mercy to stop myself from crying. Without Lord Chaitanya’s mercy, my heart would have never felt touched like this. I wouldn’t have been here, with devotees, singing the Gaura Aarti. The tears never fell though. They just filled my eyes and stayed there. I have been waiting for something to touch my soul like this. I heard of others having such experiences and I wondered if this happened in Vaishnavism. And yes. This does happen. I did not initiate it in anyway. I was just feeling it. And it was just happening. It will happen where God is. It will happen where Love is. It doesn’t matter which religion you come from. Once you tie that bond with God, it will last forever. And all of this will follow.
I also got the chance to do seva today, or devotional service, during the aarti. I was so thankful. One of the boys was going to everyone with diyas. The custom is to put your hands over the fire and then put your hands over your head or your eyes or something of that sort. So he asked another one of the female devotees to go to all the girls, but she suggested that I do it. Perhaps it was because she was playing the kartalas. Either ways, he gave me the diyas and I went to everyone. It felt nice to be engaged in this devotional service. These devotees… All of them… They have no idea how much they help others grow. How much they inspire others, how much they enrich their lives… They haven’t a single clue. To them, they’re just probably being themselves. They just don’t realize how much they’re helping others around them, simply by being there.
At the end of the program, we sat down to eat prasadam. One of the boys there, who I was meeting for the first time, brought books for me to buy since he was informed I needed books. I needed a Hindi Bhagavad Gita and a small English Bhagavad Gita. I saw a small BG in his bag earlier, so I was overjoyed. I was hoping he had brought the books. And when I saw the small pocket sized BG that I had used before (my friend has the same one) I was thrilled. Later I discovered it was his own BG. Lol. He didn’t have any BGs for me. He had other books that I had already read and others that I had access to as e-Books. So I didn’t purchase any from him. I asked him if he had any tulsi beads or a japa mala. He directed me to a restaurant in a place nearby where they stocked bead bags. The restaurant belonged to another devotee’s father. So I went there, and I should add, Prabhu was wonderful. He was so friendly to me. It was quite funny actually, because I entered the restaurant area (it’s in a food court) and as the waiter advanced towards me with a menu, I said:
“Hare Krishna. Do you have a japa mala?”
Yes, yes. Very clever, very courteous. So witty, no? Ah, how you wish you had thought of it first. My mom laughed for like, ever, when I told her what I asked them.
Anyway, I spotted the restaurant owner and went to him and repeated my wonderful line. He was astonished. “YES! How did you know?!” I told him the whole story and he welcomed me. He was beaming! He seemed genuinely happy to see me. He made me sit and he talked a little with me. I’m new with the whole japa mala thing… so I didn’t know what beads were called what and how to use the bag and stuff. He very kindly offered to show me and explain to me. He told me many nice things:
“Krishna is everything.”
“When you reach from 1 round to 16 rounds, you will feel amazing!”
“When you try to be a good devotee, you know, 4 generations up, and 4 generations down, your family will also benefit. They will also be liberated.”
I asked him if he had books. Luckily he had a small, pocket-sized Bhagavad Gita for me 🙂 I was thrilled. He didn’t have a Sindhi Bhagavad Gita with him at the moment so I was a little upset about that. I really want one for someone in my family. I hope I get one soon. With Krishna’s mercy, I most definitely will. So I had a book, a bead bag, beads, and counting beads. It amounted to 48 AED. Phew. I had only 50 AED with me. I did have more money but it belonged to my sister. He then showed me a kunti mala. He said it was an additional 3 AED. Within an instant he said that he would take it for 2 AED since he had given me 2 AED back as change. I was so grateful. I don’t like using my sister’s money. I try to avoid it as much as I can. I ended up using it later anyway to purchase some snacks for my friend. But oh well… Just goes to show this devotee’s kindness and Krishna’s mercy, YET AGAIN! =D It will never end, I tell you!
I went into a shop on the way to the metro station to find a clicker that I could use to chant when I’m outdoors. I went into a supermarket and I saw these slippers with the brand name ‘Mantra’. I found it a little offensive but in a way, I guess, at least they were thinking it auspicious to call their brand ‘Mantra’. As soon as I read the brand name, overhead, on the radio station playing, the news reader said, “Krishna”. I spazzed out. This is just incredible! Obviously, she was talking about another Krishna. Maybe a celebrity or spokesmodel or something. But hey, the name is still transcendental right?
Later, my mom’s car was parked away for the night so I thought I’d go out for a while. So I went out, prayed when I started driving for Krishna’s protection on the road and His help and guidance for me to drive properly and safely. I thought I wouldn’t get a parking under my friend’s building but I told myself to trust Krishna. I passed one full parking area at the front of the building and as soon as I drove around the building, I found a fabulous parking spot. Trusting Krishna always works. Later, under my building, I was in a tough position. Haha, I needed to park but the space was too tight. My dad had to park it for me. How embarrassing. Lol. There was a cat sitting on the car I was trying to park next to. I rolled the windows down so I could see better and the cat stared at me. I closed my windows immediately. It was a little scary. Lol.
Sorry if the post was a little too long and detailed. What can I say, Krishna inspires me to write till my heart’s content 🙂 And today was just overflowing with mercy, so I really just couldn’t help myself!
Here are photos of my new Bhagavad Gita and my japa bag. I’M SO EXCITED! Just having this japa bag makes me want to chant more!
Do you like? =D