Loving Separation: A Gathering in Mayapur to Honor Yamuna Devi

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By Braja Sevaki

Many years ago, while in Vrindavan, I expressed to my spiritual master my difficulty in engaging in some elements of the process of devotional life. When he asked why, I explained how I was only inspired to do something not out of duty, or because I was told, or because it was required, but that I felt it had to come from the heart, it had to be done out of a deep, heartfelt desire to want to do it. It had to be for love.

He was silent for a long time, contemplating; his look was intense, but a small smile assured me I wasn’t in for a steamrolling 🙂 When his words finally came, they were both a comfort and a challenge. He nodded slowly and said, “This is good. This is what we are working towards, what we’re trying to acquire: this loving devotion to whatever we do. This is bhakti…it’s natural, it’s in the heart…” However, there was a “however.” He added that this was an advanced level of devotional life, and that until our hearts were purified, we had to follow a process that we might find difficult or challenging; “be patient,” he wrote to me later, “and Krishna will reward you everything.”

Over the years, He has…occasionally a kirtan would take me to another realm, lift me out of the binding force of all that held me back, transport me, as Prabhupada promised, straight to the beautiful lotus feet of Krishna. It was occasional, but it was enough….for a while.

It was during that same visit I met Yamuna for the first time; over the years that followed, and most especially on her last visit here to Mayapur, I was certainly aware that Krishna was fulfilling my hearts desire to serve and engage in the process of bhakti in a way that nourished the deepest recesses of my heart. Yamuna was the embodiment of love: everything she did, every word she spoke or sang or chanted, everyone she came into contact with, it was all love. All of it. She was the personification of love, and to sit with her every day for a month on her last visit here and chant the holy names brought the same realization not only to my mind, but to the minds of anyone who chanted with her: “Yes…yes, this is the element of devotional life I’ve touched only rarely, this is what I have waited for…this is how I want to sit and chant, this is how I want to sing, this is the kind of kirtan my heart has longed for…”

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