I come from Holland, which is a very rich country by material standards. However, unlike India, where the family ties are still strong, the family culture in the west is fast eroding. Youngsters move out of parents’ homes to enjoy unrestricted freedom, working hard to finance their studies and social life. I too followed this system during high school, and would study five days a week and then clean dishes at a hotel on weekends. I used the money buy objects of sense gratification. Gradually, however, the hard work, irregular lifestyle, and bad habits began to take a heavy toll over my health.
I remember one particular evening: I had been nearing the end of washing what seemed like a mountain of dishes, when the cleaner dumped another stack before me. I was dead tired, still I continued and managed to clean them by mid night. My body was in excruciating agony, but more work was pending. “Clean the floor!” the boss shouted. Wearily, I picked up the broom and the mop. By the time I finished, the clock showed 2 am.
After the work that night, while walking home I asked myself, “Is this what I want from my life?” All my pent up emotions became impossible to hold back anymore and I broke down right there in the street. I tried to look for a way out of my hopeless situation, but nothing appeared.
Some time later, I came in contact with the Hare Krsna devotees and visited the center at my town. I was completely mesmerized with what I saw. The Deities, the chanting, the dancing, the lectures, the love of the devotees, and above all the prasadam completely conquered my heart. I realized that Krsna consciousness was the thing missing in my life.
One day I decided to render some voluntary service in the temple. I approached a senior devotee and asked him, “Can I help in some service?” He smiled and took me to the kitchen and pointed to huge black bottomed cooking utensils. “Can you clean them?”
“Of course,” I replied. “I have enough training in this art!” I lunged at the pots and began to scrub them with all my might. I soaped, scrubbed, and washed them for hours and hours untill they were sparkling bright. Then I cleaned the entire kitchen. By the time I finished I had half expected to collapse with fatigue. Yet there was something strange going on. I was not feeling tired at all Instead I was feeling fresh; I could have washed pots for another six hours. I was in euphoria! I felt as if I was floating in air.
It was then that I realized that service to Lord Krsna is unlike serving any mundane materialistic master. By serving Lord Krsna we engage in the natural activity of soul, as an eternal servant of Lord Krsna. The pleasure that one achieves by serving Lord Krsna is beyond any sensory and mental experience and purely on the spiritual level. Krsna consciousness’ transcendental nature thus became a tangible reality which I could perceive and experience in simple day to day activities and all this was so blissful. I decided at that moment never again to leave the shelter of Lord Krsna.
Vasudeva Dasa is a disciple of His Holiness Kadamba Kanana Swami Maharaja and resides in Amsterdam, Holland.