I could not even find any tinge of personal ambition in her - no desire to become an important person in this world! The thought dawned upon me, what a blessing it may be not to be well known and not having a prominent position within ISKCON. It is certainly much easier to become a humble and pure Vaishnava, when we don't carry the heavy load of false designations and titles around with us, which easily inflate our false ego. What a relief to maintain a simple life of keeping oneself in the background and thus realizing one's insignificant position in this world...!
So often we judge a person's advancement by the position and title he or she carries, and how famous and well known a devotee is. However, these are rather external aspects of our devotional life, which does not reflect a person's spiritual advancement.
Rohini Mataji is a rather remarkable personality - she had to go through quite a few trials and tribulations in her life. Some years ago her sari caught fire when serving on the altar, and she only noticed what had happened when huge flames burned her body severely. She spent 5 weeks in ICU enduring several surgeries - almost leaving her body. Krishna gave her another chance, and in a wonderful way she took shelter of the Lord and His holy name. Reflecting back now on this time, her eyes lit up in excitement and joy, and she spoke very fondly of this time, sharing deep realisations. As she took more tightly shelter of Krishna in her suffering, Krishna was revealing Himself more tangibly, even taking away her excruciating pain.
She reminded me of Queen Kunti, having overcome one calamity after another. Krishna polishes our heart in amazing ways by testing us severely, pushing us to our very limits. These are the moments when we actually make advancement....!
Now in Vienna, due to external circumstances she leads a life in seclusion, once again taking full shelter of the Lord and thus turning the challenges she faces into golden opportunities to surrender to the Lord and His holy name. When living in seclusion we can protect ourselves so much better from all kinds of distractions through social media and the internet which are bombarding us daily. Withdrawing from these influences gives us a much better focus on our spiritual practice.
I managed to inspire her to visit Simhachalam for a few days while I was there the following week. She used to serve Lord Nrsimhadeva around 30 years ago and was even present when He was installed in 1982.
When she came to Simhachalam, we had a nice time together and I was happy to serve her and make her feel welcome and comfortable. Her aging and fragile body inspires to give care - I almost felt like an instrument in Krishna's hands, through which He gave this special soul some attention and care. I felt very fortunate having met a like-minded person in the renounced phase of life - something rarely to be found. And I hope to stay in contact with her and maybe arrange some little trips for her to visit other communities. I can certainly learn a lot from her.....
Your servant, Devaki dd