Monday, August 29, 2011

Give Love, Give Love, Give Love

"99% of one's spiritual progress comes from bowing down." - Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur

San Francisco is a cold and wacky city, but it holds a special place in my heart. My parents were attending UC Berkeley - aka Bezerkely - in the 70s, and they frequented the Hare Krishna temple for cheap, good food. Gradually, the philosophy and the people won their hearts and transformed their lives. Already married for several years, they became devotees of Krishna together.

In a way, I feel like I connect with my roots when I visit. The air is filled with history.
This year, the Bus Tour stopped through San Francisco for the Rathayatra festival in Golden Gate Park. After the festival, as part of my Bus Tour duty I pulled on some oversized yellow gloves and jumped in to the organized chaos of takedown. 

I was in the middle of dismantling a tent when two women called out to me. I walked over to them.

"Are you Bhakti?" the elder of the two asked.

"And is your mother Brihan?" the other asked.

"Why yes," I replied, startled. "How do you know me and my mother?"

"Well, your parents were the apartment managers of my building many years ago," the younger one said. "People weren't so clean back then, so when I was to move out, I decided to leave my place spotlessly clean. Your mother was so impressed that she wanted to talk to me!"

I laughed. My mother is still today, as I affectionately think of her, a clean freak.

The woman continued, "I was the first person to converse with her about Krishna."

"Really?" I asked.

"Yes. But when I had to move from the city, I entrusted your mother to my mother," the woman said, then gestured to the other.

"What are your names?" I asked.

"I'm Madhavi," the daughter said. Her eyes were bright blue.

"And I'm Kasturi Manjari," the mother said. "But your mother would know me as Karuna Avatar, and my daughter as Tamra. We have not seen her since then."

"So wow, you were the first people to speak with my mother about Krishna?" I felt awed.

"Well, yes. It was a gradual process. Your parents came to the temple for prasadam while they were going to UC Berkeley. And we were there."

"What year was that?" I asked.

"1981, I believe."

30 years ago, I thought.

"Wow, what shakti you both possess, that you encouraged my parents to become devotees. Amazing. I feel so honored to be standing here and speaking with you both."

I folded my palms and bowed my head.

I felt a physical veil of awe and gratitude fall over me. By the grace and open hearts of these two women, I was standing here before them. I had a reason to live, Krishna was in my life, I could truly love others, I could chant the holy name.

As I stood there with my head bowed in silence, tears came to my eyes.The two women murmured and stepped forward to embrace me. I wept in their arms.

Then I took a deep breath and stood straight. "Thank you. Thank you so much."

"We are only doing our best to share the love and teachings of Srila Prabhupad and his representatives," Kasturi said. "All the credit goes to them."

"Please," I said. "Please bless me that one day I may also share this great gift with others and be able to change hearts to love Krishna, like you did with my mother."

"Oh Bhakti," Madhavi said. "I don't have much, but with whatever I do have, I give to you to touch others' hearts."

I paused for a moment. "What does it take?"

The two women glanced at each other and smiled. "Courage, knowledge... and naivete!" Madhavi laughed.

"And love?" I said.

"Oh, love is the source of all of that," Kasturi said. "Love is the reason we want to share Krishna with others anyway."

"Give love, give love, give love," I murmured.

"Yes," Kasturi said, "Give love."

"Thank you." I folded my palms and bowed again. "Thank you."


Anonymous said...

The Power of Vulnerability

Saw this and thought of you. It fits perfectly with this story.

Bhakti lata said...

Oh I know, I saw that video! It's amazing; thanks for sharing. Who is this?

Ramtin said...

A very intriguing quotation from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur. I would love to know where you read it... if your remember. I was touched by what you wrote.

To write is to dare the soul. So write.