Even though both festival days fell on a working day, the programs were well attended - already in the morning. Most devotees had freed themselves from their work in order to give their undivided attention to celebrating these events. On Janmastami I was invited to offer the morning class and also a session on "Krishna Meditations" in the later evening. During the entire day I was on my book table, reaching out to devotees and guests alike and blissfully connecting with them.
On Srila Prabhupada's Vyasa Puja we started the auspicious day with a video class by Srila Prabhupada, and I was invited to give the main lecture about our Founder Acarya, sharing deep insights on his exceptional position and concluding with heart-moving lilas. We were all bathing Srila Prabhupada in a beautiful abhishek, and devotees offered their homages. There was a meditative atmosphere of gratitude centered around Srila Prabhupada, which helped us to connect with him on deeper levels, rededicating ourselves to sacrifice this life in service to his mission.
This community has great potential - there are around 30 families living in the nearby village which is within walking distance from the temple. ISKCON owns a lot of land here, and they have cows which give 40 liters of milk daily. The ladies serve together on an exceptional level of cooperation by arranging collective homeschooling for all the children who are divided in several groups according to age. They teach them in different homes, coordinating things in such a harmonious mood of working together and supporting each other. The common difficulties such as fault finding, competitiveness and politics don't exist amongst them...!
In fact, we can observe that most conflicts in our ISKCON communities as well as in the secular world come about through ego clashes and power battles among those of similar capabilities and influence.
We may all have the experience of how intense the atmosphere in the kitchen can be, when two equally expert cooks are cooking lunch for their guru. If one is expert and the other a helper, then there is no problem whatsoever. But if both are equally expert, then immediately the mood of rivalry may appear and contaminate the atmosphere. Both experts want to prove that they know better what Guru Maharaja likes. Or two equally experienced pujaris dressing the Deities for Janmastami. Again, it can be an intense experience, both wanting to prove to each other that they know best and have nicer ideas on how to beautify Their Lordships.
To share our own influence with somebody of similar influence is most challenging for our false ego. If such sharing takes place outside of our circle of influence — such as the holy dhama for example — then this is much less challenging. However, if one person has to welcome another into his circle of influence, under the ‘risk’ that one’s visitor may be more successful and appreciated than oneself, it is a direct challenge to one’s envy in the heart. And it will be exposed. Only a non-envious person can truly desire another to be more recognized and glorious than him.
In this regard, in the 4th Canto of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, we can find the nice example of Prithu Maharaja and Lord Indra. When Prithu Maharaja desired to conduct the one hundredth horse sacrifice, Lord Indra and his followers became very agitated. As long as Lord Indra had a hundred and Prithu Maharaja only ninety-nine, there was no problem. But as soon as Prithu Maharaja aspired to do the hundredth, Lord Indra felt threatened in his superior position, and, overcome by anger and envy, he stole the horse. How much more envious can one be than stealing the horse so there would be no sacrifice?
Therefore, equal association is so powerful and most purifying. And thus we should always be very eager for such association, especially as we become more senior.
When our four-headed Lord Brahma went to see Lord Vishnu in Vaikuntha, he was stopped at the gate. Upon Lord Vishnu’s request the gatekeepers asked him which Lord Brahma he was. Lord Brahma became irritated at this question, responding, “I am Lord Brahma! Lord Vishnu doesn’t know who I am?” His false ego got offended, and thus Lord Vishnu summoned many Lord Brahmas from various universes — some being with ten heads or even a hundred heads. Lord Vishnu arranged equal association for him, which instantly deflated his pride and thus purified him.
Your servant, Devaki dd
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