Parents and teachers often wonder if the Krsna conscious training their children receive is going to stay with them when they grow up. When we see former students seemingly abandon many of the principles of Krsna consciousness, we wonder, "Do they retain any of the essence?"
We try to instruct them in the basic philosophy of the Bhagavad-gita: We are not these bodies but spirit souls. Our eternal position is to serve and depend on Krsna not the "fallible soldiers" of this material realm. All our life is a preparation for the moment of death, when we must be fully conscious of Krsna no matter what the circumstances. As Prahlada Maharaja said to his playmates, begin devotional service now; don't waste time. But although the concepts are relatively simple, realization comes hard, especially in youth.
Srila Prabhupada told us not to worry. Krsna consciousness is just like fire, he said; it will act whether one knows its properties or not. Association is powerful. By following the same spiritual program Prabhupada gave adults, children also gradually become trained and purified in spiritual consciousness.
My first significant realization of just how much Krsna consciousness can sink in and stick came a few years after I got involved in gurukula, the Krsna conscious schooling system.Candrahasa Dasi (age 8 ½ at the time and not known as a great scholar or philosopher) asked me a question.
She began, "Two years ago you gave a Bhagavatam class and talked about Maharaja Prthu and … " She went on to outline the major points of a class I no longer even remembered giving!
Gopala Bhatta Dasa, a former gurukula student, had lived in Los Angeles for a few months before I met him earlier this year. He was popular among the other young adults in the community and well liked by many older devotees as well. After we met, we occasionally spent time together, and I grew to like him very much. One instinctively sensed that beneath his sometimes freewheeling exterior was a powerful devotee who would one day show his full potential.
He was also close friends with my twenty-two-year-old daughter, Sri Radha. They had much in common: Both were adopted. Both had spent almost all of their young lives in ISKCONgurukulas. They shared myriad experiences in the Krsna consciousness movement, both good and bad. They felt the same problems and shared similar hopes for the future.
Early one evening this past May, Gopala left on a ten-minute errand. Half a mile from the Los Angeles temple, a car hit his motorcycle and killed him.
I doubt that anyone grieved more than my daughter. But as we've often told our children, "Everything can have value in Krsna's service." So that means grief, too. Death has a way of giving a violent pull on the curtain of maya and showing us the true nature of this world. Here are some of my daughter's reflections.
Sri Rama Dasa