In Delhi they had changed my booking for the following day, which I did not accept since I had no valid visa for India and did not like the idea of spending another 24 hours in transit at the Delhi Airport. It was enough tapasya to be there for 14 hours, which was according to my flight connection.
I spent three days with my mother, giving her attention, association and uplifting food for thought. She is always very eager for new insights into essential questions of life and death - unusual for her advanced age of 83 years. She has not given up being inquisitive.....!
Over the last six months I had sent her several times some flowers through internet - for my birthday, for Xmas, and for her birthday. Such little gestures of affection and care go a long way and are expressions of my gratitude to her, for she has been such a wonderful mother, giving me the best childhood I can ever imagine....!
Thus it is more out of gratitude than mere duty that I want to accompany her in this last stage of her life and give her whatever support I can give, while at the same time maintaining my service of preaching.
After several years of struggle we now have found a good balance in our relationship. Some years ago she was strongly demanding my care and attention, which created a lot of strain within our relationship.
Now she has come to terms that we cannot demand care but have to be grateful whatever is given voluntarily, and she respects and appreciates my ways of giving support.
Old age is meant for the last intense purification. It has the power to make us more tolerant, humble and grateful.
In regards to my mother I can certainly recognise the purifying power which old age and disease is bringing along, when we accept them in the right mood.
A person who has practised some religion and spiritual path will recognise his helplessness and dependance on God, and thus become humble. But a person who has simply lived a life of sense enjoyment will become bitter, disappointed and even angry.
The more we have built up our internal life through spiritual practice, the easier it will be to find satisfaction in old age, when we cannot derive pleasure through external achievements any longer.
Old age is forcing us to become more internal....
Over the years she has established a good support system of people who come and offer various services so she can remain in her nice house in the village and does not have to move to a Nursing Home: the "Meals On Wheels" bring her lunch, some cleaning lady comes every day for two hours, and the Home Care Nurses come every day in the morning and evening to give medicines and help with little things. She has good relationships with some of her neighbors, and once a week some teenagers are coming for a couple of hours to render any kind of services. This is a new arrangement through the schools: people have recognised the importance of the youth offering services to the elderly people in society. Thus they encourage the teenagers to visit old people in their homes and serve. It cultivates respect and gratitude towards the elders.
I remember as a teenager I spontaneously felt attracted to offering such service, and together with a girl-friend we used to visit old people in Nursing Homes to give them attention and care.
Seeing how my mother manages her old age with these support systems gives me the idea that this is what we should be establishing in our ISKCON communities.
In our GBC Strategic Planning Meetings the request for Nursing Homes comes up very regularly. However, Nursing Homes are a manifestation of materialistic culture, where old people are a burden and disturbance and thus pushed aside and hidden in such establishments. In spiritual culture the elders are affectionately taken care of by the community, and especially also the youth. After all they will inherit whatever the previous generation has built up in hard work and tapasya. Therefore it is only natural that the youth should offer respect and gratitude to the elders, and benefit from their wisdom and life experience.
On the 26th of April I took the train to Nahbruecke to visit the devotees at our community called Goloka Dham.
I was greeted and received with a joyful kirtan, and blissfully smiling faces were surrounding me when I was offered a Maha garland.
Beautiful Sri Sri Radha Madana Mohan are the Lords of this establishment. The devotees have several houses here situated on a creek surrounded by forests - a former water mill.
I gave a four-session seminar on my favorite topic of "Death - Our Final Challenge". It is always such a wonderful topic, and devotees participated with great interest.
On the Sunday Program I introduced the Bhajan of Sri Kevalastakam which is glorifying the Holy Name, and we discussed each verse in details.
I was also invited to a house program where we churned the topic of "Our Search For Love". We had nice kirtans, and the program was concluded with a delicious feast - the perfect Vaisnava social life: simply coming together, chanting, discussing devotional life and feasting......
I also spent time meeting with the devotees privately - I was fully engaged in serving the devotees all day long....
In the beginning of August we are planning to hold another Vaisnavi Retreat here discussing the topic of "Exploring The Roots Of Spiritual Culture".
And devotees are looking forward to it.....
On the 30th of April I took the train to Leipzig, which is in the Eastern part of Germany. It was a five hour journey in a very comfortable if not super fancy and very fast German train.
On the way we had a two-hour delay. Somebody had thrown himself on the tracks and committed suicide...
We had to wait for the police to do the necessary investigations, and also for a new train driver to come and continue the journey.
One passenger in the train told that this was the third time that he experienced this on this very section of the journey....
Even though Germany is full of material oppulences and comfort - still: people are so unhappy and in deep ignorance, and their life is meaningless and empty....
Krsna consciousness is the only saving grace....
We do have so much preaching work ahead of us to save the conditioned souls from desperation....
In Leipzig I visited a nice community of devotees - not so big in numbers, but sweet and sincere Vaisnavas!
They had arranged several programs in the surrounding cities of Wittenberg and Chemnitz, and everywhere I met with nice and eager devotees. It was inspiring to see how new people are coming to Krsna consciousness and are eager for guidance in spiritual life. I visited devotees in their homes for lunch and also for house programs and spent quality time with them.
On Saturday morning we went on Harinam in the city of Leipzig, which was another wonderful experience.
In countries like Germany, where we don't have so huge numbers of devotees like in Ukraine or Bangladesh, we learn to value every single person. We learn to understand more deeply how every single devotee is such a rare soul and deserves special care and attention. And thus the programs can be very sweet, personal and deep.
I could clearly perceive that by Krsna's mercy I was able to affect some hearts on deeper levels....
Devotees expressed their gratitude and affection in many ways and requested me to come more often.
On the 6th of May I flew off to Stockholm/Sweden....
Your servant, Devaki dd