Thursday, September 19, 2019

A Wife's Prime Duty

Guest Writer: Laasika devi dasi, BVKS

Text edited by Phalini devi dasi ACBSP
Srimad Bhagavatam 7.11.25: To render service to the husband, to be always favorably disposed toward the husband, to be equally well disposed toward the husband’s relatives and friends, and to follow the vows of the husband — these are the four principles to be followed by women described as chaste.

In the above verse, the great devotee of the Lord Narada Muni instructs Maharaja Yudhisthira about the duties of chaste women as per Vedic culture. Let's get into the detail of each of the instructions given above.

*To render service to the husband* 

A Krsna conscious wife should feel blessed to render service to her husband. She should consider it as her prime duty because as per shastras, the husband is the first representative of Krsna for the wife. Lakshmi Devi, who is considered as an ideal wife, is always sitting near the lotus feet of the Lord and massaging them. Sita Devi followed Lord Rama to the forest during His exile and served Him there. Krsna's wives, who had thousands of maidservants, served Him personally and called themselves His maidservants. Devahuti served her husband Kardama Muni to such an extent that she became extremely weak. Sukanya, whose husband Cyavana Muni was quite irritable, molded herself according to his mood and humbly served him. The chastity of all these ladies is glorified in Amala Purana Srimad Bhagavatam.

Some women consider it 'too much'  if their husbands ask them to remove their shoes or massage their feet. Some even consider it offensive or insulting. But actually it should be taken as a blessing. A male disciple feels blessed when he gets the opportunity to serve his spiritual master with menial services. In the same way, a woman must take it as the mercy of Krsna that He has sent her a protector, His representative, as her husband, whom she can serve everyday. A male disciple may not get the opportunity to do the vapu seva of his spiritual master everyday, but Patita Pavana Krsna has kindly sent us our husbands. We can do their vapu seva everyday. Such services must be done with humility. Massaging the body and feet of the husband, fanning him, cooking and serving him Prasad, all these are the opportunities that a wife gets as her service to Guru and Krsna. She must be fully aware that by performing these duties, she is serving Krsna, as these are the instructions given by Krsna's pure devotee Narada Muni for all wives. Knowing that the husband is the representative of Krsna for the wife, by doing his vaani seva (by following his instructions and orders) and vapu seva, she is getting the same benefit that a male disciple gets by doing vaani and vapu seva of the spiritual master.

*To be always favorably disposed toward the husband*

This is the instruction that many of us wives fail to accept mentally and practically. But we need to work on ourselves, as this is what Krsna desires from us. It is easy to follow husband's instructions when they match with our own thinking, but it is quite difficult to accept them when they are contrary to what we think. While reciting Shikshashtakam, we very easily speak...

ashlishya va pada-ratam pinashtu mam

adarshanan marma-hatam karotu va

yatha tatha va vidadhatu lampato

mat-prana-nathas tu sa eva naparaha

I know no one but Krishna as my Lord, and He shall remain so even if He handles me roughly by His embrace or makes me brokenhearted by not being present before me. He is completely free to do anything and everything, for He is always my worshipful Lord, unconditionally.

...but practically we fail to practice this verse even in the basic problems (so called basic problems of the material world) we face in our household lives. We wives must practice to neglect the minor mistakes of our husbands. Prabhupada often quoted 'to err is human.' If we examine ourselves honestly, we will see that we also commit so many mistakes, but when we see our husbands committing some mistake, we have the tendency to instantly correct it. But we must know that this is not the duty of the wife. The wife plays the subordinate role in the married relationship. A wife is not supposed to take the superior position and instruct her husband. There should be maryada (limitation) in the husband-wife relationship. But it's difficult for our 'false ego' to understand this. A wife is also called a Mantrini (counsellor) of her husband. A good Mantrini is one who gives the correct counselling at the correct time. A wife should take this position in a humble way at the proper time. She should not blast her husband with her intelligent advice when he is not in a good mood. We wives strongly need to develop our tolerance power. Many a time things in marriage don't happen in the way we desire. Our masters, our husbands, may want something from us that we don't want, but this verse of Srimad Bhagavatam guides us to be "always favorably disposed toward the husband." It's natural for men to demand the position of superiority in married life. If this is not maintained then there would be no peace in family life.

*To be equally well-disposed toward the husband's relatives and friends*

In His lectures, Srila Prabhupada tells about the custom in Bengal when the boy goes to marry, he tells his mother before leaving "Mother, I am going to bring a maidservant for you." But at the present time, many wives can call this ancient practice orthodox and may even consider it offensive. It is natural for a son to be affectionate toward his parents, so he expects his wife to serve them. We read in Mahabharata how Draupadi was deeply respectful toward her mother-in-law Kunti Devi and served her very humbly. Also we read in Srimad Bhagavatam, how Krsna's childhood friend Sudama came to visit Him in Dwarka. Krsna made him sit on his bed and washed his feet, and Rukmini Devi fanned him with a chamara. And of course, Krsna was very pleased by her service. It is natural for the husband to want his wife to serve his dear ones in a loving way. So it is an important duty of a wife that she serve her husband's relatives and friends in the way he expects from her.

*To follow the vows of the husband*

Different husbands have different moods. A wife's duty is to follow the vows of the husband. If a husband takes a vow to chant a certain number of rounds during a certain period, then the wife must give him a nice atmosphere and welcome his vow, so that he can peacefully and enthusiastically carry on with it. She can also chant some extra rounds if time and her services allow her, and if her husband expects it from her. The same principle applies to reading shastra. 

If the husband takes a vow to eat only once during a certain month, then she may also follow her husband's vow with his permission, if her health allows her and it doesn't become a hindrance in her services to the husband and family. If the husband takes a vow to live simply and execute Krsna consciousness, she must practice living simply in the way he desires. The main thing is that she must give him a favorable atmosphere where he can peacefully execute his Krsna conscious activities. If the husband takes a vow to help his relatives or friends in some way, the wife should not object and nag about it. If the husband takes a vow to send his children to gurukula rather then sending them to slaughterhouse (schools), the wife must follow his vow. If the husband takes a vow to lead a vanaprastha life, the wife must follow his vow. If the responsible Krsna conscious husband decides to take sannyasa, then his wife must let him do so. She should not become self- centered. She must support his decision so that he can preach Krsna's message to everyone.

Some women say, "I won't follow the footsteps of Sita Devi because my husband is not like Rama." But this is just a modern feministic idea. If we want our husbands to behave ideally, we must see to it that we are as ideal as Sukanya who did not fight or argue with her very irritable husband Cyavana Muni. She molded herself according to his mood and served him humbly. We must take inspiration from such glorious ladies mentioned in Srimad Bhagavatam.

Srila Prabhupada's sister Bhavatarini Devi Dasi's husband broke all the regulative principles. Still Prabhupada guided her to stay with him, serve him faithfully and He gave her the deities of Radha Krsna that they both worshiped during their childhood and asked her to pray to Them. Prabhupada's sister, who was also the disciple of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, even used to cook meat for her husband. He was also a woman-hunter and alcoholic, but she still served him and prayed to Radha-Madhava for him. At the end of his life, his mind changed and he realized all his mistakes. This is the power of chastity and the result of following the instructions of a pure devotee of the Lord. 

If we women sincerely try to apply the instructions given by Narada Muni in our lives, we will see the process working miraculously in our lives. We will see how our husbands will become more Krsna conscious, more responsible, more dutiful and more peaceful (even if they are not devotees). The problem in our married life mostly comes when we don't have the patience to follow these instructions of Narada Muni in our lives.

There may be some exceptional cases where a woman faces abnormal hardships in her married life. Such cases can be discussed with some trustworthy senior grihastha couple who are themselves sincerely following the instructions of shastras given for grihasthas. But for most of us married ladies, the key to leading a peaceful Krsna conscious grihastha life is to become the maidservant of our husband. This is the instruction given in all the shastras for women. But we must remember that whatever we do, we must keep Krsna in the center. Without keeping Krsna in the center, everything becomes 0. But if we chastely try to serve our husbands, following the instructions of shastras for the pleasure of Krsna, our Supreme Master, our lives will become successful, of this there is no doubt.

Your aspiring servant,
Laasika Devi Dasi
Nandagrama Farm Community 
Gujrat, India.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Hope for Errant Husbands

I know a lady who is always complaining about her husband. He doesn't chant his rounds, he wants too much sex, he plays computer games, etc., etc., etc. 
I read a little bit of Bhagavad-gita every night. Recently, as I was reading the twelfth chapter, I felt that Krsna gave me a realization as well as the answer to my friend's problem. 
My realization: My friend is expecting too much of her husband. 
Krsna's suggestion: "If you cannot practice the regulations of bhakti-yoga, then just try to work for Me, because by working for Me you will come to the perfect stage." (Bg 12.10) 
And here is Srila Prabhupada's wonderful purport to that most encouraging verse: "One who is not able even to practice the regulative principles of bhakti-yoga, under the guidance of a spiritual master, can still be drawn to this perfectional stage by working for the Supreme Lord. How to do this work has already been explained in the fifty-fifth verse of the Eleventh Chapter. One should be sympathetic to the propagation of Krsna consciousness. There are many devotees who are engaged in the propagation of Krsna consciousness, and they require help. So, even if one cannot directly practice the regulative principles of bhakti-yoga, he can try to help such work. Every endeavor requires land, capital, organization and labor. Just as in business one requires a place to stay, some capital to use, some labor and some organization to expand, so the same is required in the service of Krsna. The only difference is that in materialism one works for sense gratification. The same work, however, can be performed for the satisfaction of Krsna, and that is spiritual activity. If one has sufficient money, he can help in building an office or temple for propagating Krsna consciousness. Or he can help with publications. There are various fields of activity, and one should be interested in such activities. If one cannot sacrifice the results of his activities, the same person can still sacrifice some percentage to propagate Krsna consciousness. This voluntary service to the cause of Krsna consciousness will help one to rise to a higher state of love for God, whereupon one becomes perfect." 
So my friend can take comfort in Krsna's words, understanding that although when her husband first joined ISKCON, he was very enthusiastic and committed to chanting all his rounds, following the principles strictly, etc., now he is behaving differently. So she need not unnecessarily criticize him. She can instead admire her husband and appreciate that he (in her case, the husband is actually supportive of Lord Caitanya's Movement) is working for the cause of Krsna consciousness. She can be confident that Krsna is pleased with him, even if he is not following as strictly as he once used to.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Supreme Affectionate

I received a question this morning from one of my spiritual daughters. She asked on behalf of a friend: "Woman must think that she is maidservant of her husband as he is the representative of God!
But sometimes it may go to the extreme when [her] husband always remain in the attitude of being master (no doubt he is) but he does not give [her] time and ignores [her] then what should [the] woman do in that situation?
She's too much attached to her husband; she doesn't want to be ignored. It hurts a lot to her!"

Someone asked me this. Please tell me what should I advise her???

My Dear Daughter,

Krsne matir astu. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. Hare Krsna.

I am very sorry to hear this. The men who are treating their wives like maidservants only, not giving them affection, jewelry, new clothing and children, may not be understanding their duties properly. They are struggling to make enough money to support their families, which is very difficult. Srila Prabhupada even said in this regard, “Maintenance of family is more difficult than maintaining an empire.” (Lecture, August 30, 1968, Montreal). Yet even though it is difficult, it has to be done. 

On top of earning a living, the husband must be guru to his wife and children. That means not only that he should give them spiritual instruction, but that he must be a good example to them as far as both spiritual pursuits and material interactions. If he is so strict and hard-hearted toward his wife that she becomes discouraged, then he may find that his family eventually breaks apart. This is predicted in Manu-smriti when Manu says that where the women are unhappy, the family comes to ruin. 

Yet it is the duty of the wife to charm her husband with sweet words. What are sweet words? They are words of admiration for his masculine qualities of strength, endurance, intelligence, determination, courage, and dedication to his responsibilities as disciple, husband and father. A man needs this admiration from his wife just as he needs air to breathe. He is dependent upon his wife to provide the sweet words of admiration that he needs in order to continue to do his duty.

She, on the other hand, needs love and physical affection in order to feel understood and appreciated. But for aspiring devotee men, even though they appreciate the service of their wives, to provide physical affection for their wives--touching, embracing, kissing--causes the men to become sexually aroused, although it does not do so for the woman. For the woman, it fills her with inspiration and courage to continue to do her duties and even to improve. But for the man, it causes him to feel like lying down with her and impregnating her. So in order to avoid this type of physical arousal, many devotee men try to avoid touching their wives completely, except when they are ready to perform Garbhadhana Samskara. Devotee wives misunderstand this as lack of love and appreciation for their hard work as wives and mothers, but actually it is simply self-defense on the part of the husband. He has taken a vow--"no illicit sex"--which means that even within marriage, he is not allowed to embrace his wife (which to him, leads to impregnation) unless he plans to make her pregnant. Many devotee men do not feel capable of providing for multiple children, so after producing one or two or maybe three children, they avoid conceiving more children because of financial constraints or some other consideration.

So it's a conundrum. He wants admiration, she wants affection. If he gives her the affection she craves and she gives him the admiration he craves, they are both happy and peaceful. But due to his high expectations of himself as a sadhaka, he avoids giving her the affection she craves, and then she loses her inspiration to offer him the sweet words he needs in order to maintain his family. 

The solution is to make Krsna the center of our lives, the center of our marriage. Then and only then can both husband and wife feel satisfied and provide for each other the kind of encouragement they both need.

And in the interim, until the husband becomes strong enough in his Krsna consciousness to provide physical affection for his wife without becoming physically aroused, she needs to practice taking shelter of the Supreme Affectionate, the Lord in her heart who understands her perfectly and knows just what she needs to carry on in her service. Only Krsna can actually provide what we need, after all. And by depending completely on Krsna, worshiping Him with great devotion and meditating on His all-attractive form, she can also be empowered to encourage her husband, even if he is not yet able to encourage her. Krsna provides what we lack and maintains what we have. "But those who always worship Me with exclusive devotion, meditating on My transcendental form—to them I carry what they lack, and I preserve what they have." (Bg 9.22)

Mata Phalini

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Marriage is an Austerity

My husband likes to study Srila Prabhupada's books and teachings and copy powerful quotes into notebooks. He copies them by hand, printing clearly. Some of the quotes he copies are single sentences, some are paragraphs, some are entire purports or even whole lectures. He often shares with me what he has written. Today, he read a wonderful quote to me that I felt was just what I needed to hear. The following is not an exact excerpt. It is an edited piece taken from a lecture that Srila Prabhupada gave in Montreal on August 24, 1968. The verse Srila Prabhupada spoke about in that lecture is Bhagavad-gita, Chapter 4, Text 1. At the point where my husband began reading to me, Srila Prabhupada had begun to accept questions. Someone had asked Srila Prabhupada why Lord Sri Krsna tells Arjuna that those who are not austere cannot understand Bhagavad-gita. Srila Prabhupada answers:

"It is concluded in the eighteenth chapter of Bhagavad-gita, 'sarva-guhyatamam: I am speaking to you.' 'Sarva' means 'all, every.' These devotees are giving up meat-eating, giving up all kinds of intoxicants including coffee and tea, and they are giving up illicit sex life. Do you think this is not tapasya? It is great tapasya, at least for this country. So idam te nätapaskäya. Without undergoing austerity, this science is difficult to understand. Therefore it is warned, idam te nätapaskäya.

"Sometimes people ask me, 'Swamiji, why do you make conditions?' My answer to them is, 'If I don't make conditions, they'll not be able to understand.' But I don't make conditions in the beginning. I invite everyone to come and chant Hare Krsna. Then they automatically accept all conditions. This Krsna consciousness is so nice, because those who take it up become purified. When they're a little bit purified, they immediately accept all conditions.

"A tapasvi voluntarily accepts some tapas, some inconvenience. So those who are not tapasvis, they cannot understand Bhagavad-gita. Suppose I am habituated to doing something sinful, like drinking liquor or eating meat. If someone takes away my liquor, my meat, that is an inconvenience to me. But if I decide voluntarily to stop my bad habit for Krsna's sake, thinking, 'Yes, for Krsna's sake I shall give up my bad habit. I shall accept this inconvenience,' then, because there is inconvenience for Krsna's sake, that is tapasya. Krsna states that only those who perform such tapasya can understand Bhagavad-gita.

"Just like Arjuna, it was very painful for him to think of killing his kinsmen, but for Krsna's sake he agreed. That is tapasya. He was not very happy to kill his grandfather and nephews, but for Krsna's sake, he accepted. That is tapasya. Some people cannot understand. They object, 'Arjuna was a fighter. How could he be a tapasvi?' Here is the answer: anything which you do not like, but for Krsna's sake you accept it, that is called tapasya, because the central point is Krsna. If you love Krsna, then you sacrifice for Him. Therefore, these devotees have sacrificed. The point is, that for Krsna's sake, they are voluntarily accepting inconveniences. That is tapasya. And as soon as you become tapasvi, your whole existential condition--your whole existence--becomes purified.

Srila Prabhupada was fond of quoting Lord Rsabhadeva, an incarnation of Krsna who gave pure knowledge of the Self to his sons. Srila Prabhupada quotes Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.5.1:

rsabha uväca
näyam deho deha-bhäjän nrloke
kastän kämän arhate vid-bhujäm ye
tapo divyam putrakä yena sattvam
suddhyed yasmäd brahma-saukhyam tv anantam

Lord Rsabhadeva told His sons: My dear boys, of all the living entities who have accepted material bodies in this world, one who has been awarded this human form should not work hard day and night simply for sense gratification, which is available even for dogs and hogs that eat stool. One should engage in penance and austerity to attain the divine position of devotional service. By such activity, one's heart is purified, and when one attains this position, he attains eternal, blissful life, which is transcendental to material happiness and which continues forever.

Srila Prabhupada explains:

In this verse Lord Rsabhadeva tells His sons about the importance of human life. The word deha-bhäk refers to anyone who accepts a material body, but the living entity who is awarded the human form must act differently from animals. Animals like dogs and hogs enjoy sense gratification by eating stool. After undergoing severe hardships all day, human beings are trying to enjoy themselves at night by eating, drinking, having sex and sleeping. At the same time, they have to properly defend themselves. However, this is not human civilization. Human life means voluntarily practicing suffering for the advancement of spiritual life. There is, of course, suffering in the lives of animals and plants, which are suffering due to their past misdeeds. However, human beings should voluntarily accept suffering in the form of austerities and penances in order to attain the divine life. After attaining the divine life, one can enjoy happiness eternally. After all, every living entity is trying to enjoy happiness, but as long as one is encaged in the material body, he has to suffer different kinds of misery. A higher sense is present in the human form. We should act according to superior advice in order to attain eternal happiness and go back to Godhead.

It is significant in this verse that the government and the natural guardian, the father, should educate subordinates and raise them to Krsna consciousness. Devoid of Krsna consciousness, every living being suffers in this cycle of birth and death perpetually. To relieve them from this bondage and enable them to become blissful and happy, bhakti-yoga should be taught. A foolish civilization neglects to teach people how to rise to the platform of bhakti-yoga. Without Krsna consciousness a person is no better than a hog or dog. The instructions of Rsabhadeva are very essential at the present moment. People are being educated and trained to work very hard for sense gratification, and there is no sublime aim in life. A man travels to earn his livelihood, leaving home early in the morning, catching a local train and being packed in a compartment. He has to stand for an hour or two in order to reach his place of business. Then again he takes a bus to get to the office. At the office he works hard from nine to five; then he takes two or three hours to return home. After eating, he has sex and goes to sleep. For all this hardship, his only happiness is a little sex. Yan maithunädi-grhamedhi-sukham hi tuccham [SB 7.9.45]. Rsabhadeva clearly states that human life is not meant for this kind of existence, which is enjoyed even by dogs and hogs. Indeed, dogs and hogs do not have to work so hard for sex. A human being should try to live in a different way and should not try to imitate dogs and hogs. The alternative is mentioned. Human life is meant for tapasya, austerity and penance. By tapasya, one can get out of the material clutches. When one is situated in Krsna consciousness, devotional service, his happiness is guaranteed eternally. By taking to bhakti-yoga, devotional service, one's existence is purified. The living entity is seeking happiness life after life, but he can make a solution to all his problems simply by practicing bhakti-yoga. Then he immediately becomes eligible to return home, back to Godhead. As confirmed in Bhagavad-gitä (4.9):

janma karma ca me divyam
evam yo vetti tattvatah
tyaktvä deham punar janma
naiti mäm eti so 'rjuna

"One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna."

My husband commented after reading me the above passage, “Hey, Devi, it’s just like you and me. We struggle, we have differences, we have disagreements, there are things we don’t like about each other, but we tolerate each other’s idiosyncrasies for the service of Srila Prabhupada and Krsna. This is our tapasya.” I nodded in agreement and reflected how marriage is an austerity. It really is tapasya, and when we offer it to Krsna, it is one of the sacrifices we can perform in the human form of life for the pleasure of Lord Visnu. "In the beginning of creation, the Lord of all creatures sent forth generations of men and demigods, along with sacrifices for Visnu, and blessed them by saying, 'Be thou happy by this yajna [sacrifice] because its performance will bestow upon you everything desirable for living happily and achieving liberation.' " (Bg 3.10)

I smiled through my tears, grateful that although we have struggled as a couple--just as all successfully married couples struggle--we are nonetheless still together because we have made Krsna the central point of our marriage, and because we are both dedicated to pushing on the mission of our beloved Guru Maharaja, Srila Prabhupada.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Why Was Sita Banished?

A friend asked me recently, "Why was Sita banished?" The following is a letter I wrote to her in reply to her query. Her name has been omitted to protect her privacy.

Dear Mataji,

Pranams. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. Hare Krsna. 

You asked me "Why was Sita banished?" That part of the Ramayana always makes me cry, so I don't talk about it very often. But I will just tell you what I have heard from others. 

The reason why Lord Rama banished Sita was because He came to this earth to show the example of the ideal monarch who follows Raja Dharma perfectly. So for a ruler who follows Raja Dharma, the welfare of the people is more important than his own welfare or the welfare of his own personal family. Therefore, in order to show the highest example of dedication to duty, He had Sita devi go live elsewhere so that no one would have a reason to talk against Him as a bad example of a man who took back a polluted woman. Although He knew that Sita was not polluted, and could certainly have convinced the people that She was pure, He chose to hear the complaints of even the most low-class of His citizens and act upon those words to show that He really, truly cares about the feelings of His citizens and their dedication to religious principles. Sita devi also knew the mind and purpose of Her husband. That is why She agreed to go away and accepted the banishment. She tolerated the separation from Her husband for the purpose of upholding the highest standard of dharma and behavior, in order to prevent gossip from spreading about Her beloved husband.

There is also another reason why Their Lordships separated in this way. Although Rama and Sita can never actually be separated, because They are one and the same Supreme Person manifested eternally into male and female forms for Their own pleasurable pastimes, They exhibit separation during Their pastimes to increase Their experience of loving mellows (tastes, flavors) with each other. This principle of separation is exhibited also in the pastimes of Lord Sri Krishna and Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. In Sanskrit, separation from one's beloved is called "Vipralambha" and is considered the highest ecstasy. So sometimes, just to increase His own enjoyment and the enjoyment of His devotees, the Lord arranges for Himself and His devotee--or even sometimes His internal energy ("Shakti")--to appear to be separated from one another, even though They really are inseparable, because when we miss our beloved, we think of him or her even more intensely.

There is also a pastime which to my knowledge is not in the Valmiki Ramayana, but which I heard about one time. In this story, Sita as a child kept a female parrot separate from her mate against the parrot's will. Even though the female parrot wanted to be with her mate, Sita kept her encaged against her will, so the parrot cursed Her that one day She would also be separated from Her beloved husband. I don't know if that's true, but I thought to include it in case it will help your heart be calm.

Hope this helps. Always wishing you well,

Phalini devi dasi (ACBSP)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Temporary Sentiment

Dear Readers, New devotees often come to my husband and me, asking us to coach them on how to deal with their parents who sometimes have prejudices against ISKCON or against the idea of their child or children becoming members of the Hare Krishna Movement. The following is a letter written by my husband to a devotee who is having trouble convincing his parents that by engaging in Krsna consciousness, their son is doing a good thing. The recipient's name has been edited out to protect his privacy.

Dear Prabhu,

Pranams. Jaya Srila Prabhupada. Hare Krishna.

I was told, very confidentially, by my wife Phalini devi, that your parents aren't happy about you being involved with ISKCON, or something to that effect. Please know that I will not mention anything to anyone else about your present situation. I am writing only to share with you some very meaningful statements by our Founder Acarya Srila Prabhupada in his books and lectures and also some strong words of wisdom from our parama gurus Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura and Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. Krishna willing, hopefully some of these transcendental statements will benefit you mightily in your journey back to home, Back to Godhead. 

The paragraph below spoken by Srila Prabhupada is from the book The Quest For Enlightenment:

"So Krishna is canvassing, 'Surrender unto Me.' Those who are fortunate will accept this offer of Krishna's. And when we actually love Krishna, that is called priti. We love our beloved - our child or husband or wife - but that is not real love. That is a temporary sentiment. Actual love is possible only with Krishna. Once you love Krishna, that love cannot be broken at any time. Therefore, somehow or other we have to engage ourselves in loving Krishna. That is the success of life. Thank you very much."

Prabhu, as you know we have all had many, many countless lifetimes here in the material world chasing after sense gratification, but that has amounted only to "chewing the chewed." Maya simply cheats us over and over again by suggesting that "don't worry, this next plan I have for you will give you complete satisfaction" although, as we all know, of course, it doesn't. Maya sukhaya means "temporary pleasure." That is all any of us get from Maya, simply a little flickering happiness.

So Srila Prabhupada is pointing out that the temporary sentiment for family members is illusory, or you can say also "flickering." After all, how long can our relationship with our parents, or brothers and sisters, or aunties and uncles last? The answer is only for a few years, with a maximum of forty, or fifty, or sixty, maybe seventy years, then finished. All of our family members will be separated by cruel death. Who can deny? And this goes on lifetime, after lifetime, after lifetime, and is known as samsara. And we all forget our previous family members as soon as we leave our body, don't we? No one can remember the names of our previous family members, because all of them have been forgotten at death. Death means forgetfulness. 

So, Prabhu, please consider this: you had parents in your previous life that you likely had affection for and you have now forgotten them. Any reasonable person will understand that our current parents will also be forgotten at the time of our death. I trust that's clear. Therefore Srila Prabhupada describes the affection we have for our family members as a temporary sentiment, not real love. Real love is for Krishna, and that pure love is eternal. 

Here, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura quotes from SB 10.47.61: 

"The gopis of Vrndavana have given up the association of their husbands, sons, and other family members, who are very difficult to give up, and they have forsaken the path of chastity to take shelter of Mukunda, Krishna, which one should search for by Vedic knowledge. Oh, let me be fortunate enough to become one of the bushes, creepers, or herbs in Vrndavana, for the gopis trample them and bless them with the dust of their lotus feet." 

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura then states:

"The lotus feet of Mukunda are searched after by the personified Vedas and are the ultimate goal of Vedanta. Who is qualified to serve His lotus feet? Only those who have strength to give up the path of chastity and the association of their relatives, and who are not interested to give up dependence on Krishna by depending on their temporary relatives, are eligible to serve the lotus feet of Munkunda."

Prabhu, there are unlimited statements similar to the ones above indicating that Krishna is the central point of all existence. No one is greater than or equal to Krishna. Being His parts and parcels, we are designed to love and serve Him, although the choice is ours to make. 

Here is the final paragraph I will share with you at this time, which comes from the Krishna Book, Chapter 35, The Gopis' Feelings of Separation: 

"In Vrndavana, everyone and everything is attracted by Krishna, including the trees, the plants, the water, and animals like the deer and cows. That is the perfect description of Krishna's all attractiveness. The example of the gopis is very instructive to persons who are trying to be absorbed in Krishna consciousness. One can very easily associate with Krishna simply by remembering His transcendental pastimes. Everyone has a tendency to love someone. That Krishna should be the object of love is the central point of Krishna consciousness. By constantly chanting the Hare Krishna mantra and remembering the transcendental pastimes of Krishna, one can be fully in Krishna consciousness and thus make his life sublime and fruitful."

We should all be very cautious not to allow material family members who are inimical to Krishna consciousness to divert us from our activities in devotional service. It is always better for us to bring our material family members into Krishna consciousness rather than allowing them to bring us back into the service of Maya. We are all on the verge of returning back home, Back to Godhead, therefore we cannot afford to lose the great opportunity we have. 

Our Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura so beautifully wrote in his poem "O Vaisnava Soul! the following last four lines:

So push thy onward march, O soul,
Against an evil deed, 
That stands with soldiers Hate and Lust--
A hero be, indeed. 

Maintain thy post in spirit world
As firmly as you can,
Let never matter push thee down--
O stand, heroic man.

O Saragrahi Vaisnava soul,
Thou art an angel fair;
Lead, lead me on to Vrindaban
And spirit's power declare. 

There rest my soul from matter free
Upon my Lover's arms--
Eternal peace and spirit's love
Are all my chanting charms.

param vijayate sri krishna sankirtanam

Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada,

Haripada dasa (ACBSP)

P.S. "The association of children, wife, relatives and friends is just like the brief meeting of travelers. With each change of body, one is separated from all such associates, just as one loses the objects one possesses in a dream when the dream is over." (SB 11.17.53, Lord Krsna instructs Uddhava)

The Beautiful Story of Ahalyaa

(Based on the account given in the Kamba Ramayana written in Tamil by the sage Kamban during the thirteenth century. I have slightly edited the English translation to make it more easily readable)

Dear Readers, the following is an account of the story of Ahalyaa which gives a good explanation why Ahalyaa is considered to this day to be one of the most chaste women in history.

After passing partway through the country of Janaka Maharaja, Rama, Lakshmana and Visvamitra Muni came to the City of Mithila, which was surrounded by boundary walls. After their long but pleasant journey, they rested against the boundary walls. As they gazed upon the surroundings, they noticed in the open ground a stone image. That stone image represented the cursed wife of the sage Gautama. She had lost the glory of her household and was known by the name of Ahalyaa, earning blemish on her character. (Kamba-Ramayana, Bala-kanda, 539)

The dust from the feet of Kakutstha fell on the image. With the very touch of the dust of Rama’s feet, Ahalyaa regained her earlier form and stood there. Her regaining the original form was like an ascetic who, disowning the darkness of ignorance, attains supreme knowledge and arrives to adore the lotus- like feet of the Lord. Thereafter Kaushika said to Sri Rama: (540) “O Rama, belonging to the race of Bhaagiratha, who made the Ganga descend from the sky, the damsel who is delightfully standing before you is the spouse of the sage Gautama. Indra had deliberately committed a crime [against her], as a result of which the sage Gautama bestowed upon Indra a thousand beautiful eyes.” (541)

Listening to the words of the sage with golden locks of hair, Rama was immensely surprised. He said, “How surprising are the movements of destiny! Its ways are astonishing! She appears to be like the mother of the universe. How could she meet with such a fate? Was it the reward of some deeds performed in a previous life, or was it the result of some evil deeds performed by her during this birth? Kindly tell us.” (542)

Visvamitra, who had the knowledge of past, present and future, said to him, “O virtuous Rama, once upon a time, Indra, the holder of the shining vajra, became influenced by evil passionate desires. He tried to enjoy the company of the beautiful wife of Gautama who had eyes like a doe. (543)

“Under the influence of the god of love, Indra was overcome with passion because of the eyes of the beautiful damsel, which were shaped like the head of a spear. He searched for a remedy to relieve himself of his passion. Due to his intolerable desire, his mind was disturbed. He thought of a plan how to remove Gautama from his abode. To achieve this, he produced the untimely crowing of a rooster. Hearing the crowing of the rooster, Sage Gautama left his hermitage to go take bath. In his absence, Indra entered the spotless abode of Gautama, disguising himself as the sage. (544)

Both Indra and Ahalyaa were engaged in conjugal pleasures. Intensely lusty, they became wild in making love. Both of them were enjoying equally. Soon, the truth about the intruder dawned on Ahalyaa, but in spite of that, she could not resist and went on enjoying conjugal pleasure. At the same time, Gautama, who had prowess equal to Lord Shiva, arrived there after taking bath. (545)

Whether pronouncing a curse or giving a benediction, the words of Gautama always come true. It is possible to dodge an arrow when it is shot from a bow, but it is impossible to avoid a curse from the lips of Gautama Rsi. Similarly, his boons were also fruitful. Finding Gautama there, Ahalyaa, who had earned permanent denouncement, stood aside, feeling panicky. Indra also felt panicky and tried to flee the scene in the form of a cat. (546)

Gautama was an auspicious sage who believed in justice. He came to know about the sin of Indra. He looked at both of them with eyes burning with anger. O Rama, just as Your arrow is invincible once it is fixed to Your bow, he pronounced an infallible curse. “Let your body develop a thousand yonis (vaginas)!” In the twinkling of an eye, his entire body was covered with yonis. (547)

Indra was filled with shame. Everyone who looked at him laughed at him and started denouncing him contemptuously. Thereafter, he left the place. The sage then looked at Ahalyaa who had a sweet temperament. “You have acted like a whore, therefore you become a stone.” When she was falling, having been turned into a stone, she said to the ascetic who had burning eyes like Shiva, “It is incumbent upon saintly people to forgive. Please tell me how I can be relieved of this curse.” The sage kept quiet for some time, and then he said to Ahalyaa, “With the touch of the dust from the lotus-like feet of Rama who is adored with fragrant flowers over which black bumblebees hover, you will be relieved of your stone form and achieve your original position.” (549)

The gods in heaven could not keep quiet finding Indra in such a condition. They went to the sage Gautama led by Brahma. All of them prayed to Gautama for the removal of the curse. By that time, the sage had cooled down. He therefore made the thousand yonis into a thousand eyes all over the body of Indra. But the goddess Ahalyaa continued to remain in the form of a stone. (550)

Ahalyaa having been released from her curse by Rama, Rama looked at her and said, “O mother, you should now serve the sage Gautama attentively and earn his grace. Forget the past. You come along with us.” Thus speaking, He took Ahalyaa with Him. (552)

All of them went toward the hermitage of Gautama. Visvamitra pointed out Gautama’s hermitage to Rama from a distance. All of them were delighted to find the sages, and the sages were happy to welcome the visitors who had arrived there. They were offered the customary padhya and ardhya. Thereafter, Visvamitra, the son of Gadhi, said to Gautama, “O sage Gautama, with the touch of the dust from the feet of Sri Rama who has a complexion like collyrium, the goddess has attained her original form. It is therefore evident that she has an auspicious and spotless mind. Therefore, kindly accept her.” Gautama accepted the words of Visvamitra. (554)

Virtuous Rama, the best of all, prostrated at the feet of Gautama and praised him, circumambulating him. He then handed over the chaste Ahalyaa who was devoted to her husband, to the sage Gautama. Thereafter, accompanied by Visvamitra, leaving the fragrant asrama of Gautama, they moved toward the city of Mithila.

The poet Kamban describes Ahalyaa as a spotless and chaste woman. Therefore it has to be concluded that Ahalyaa was an absolutely chaste woman. In the episode of Indra, actually Indra and his voluptuous advances were responsible for the unpleasant episode. Ahalyaa had to repent for her unstableness for many years remaining as a stone. The act of repenting and honoring the words of her husband testify that she was immensely devoted to her husband. This new birth of Ahalyaa was by the grace of Sri Rama, therefore He became like her father. (555)