AS I WAS RETURNING home from the temple on my usual 38 bus, I stared forlornly through the grimy window at the gray sky. I hadn't seen the sun for days, and then only briefly, through breaks in the clouds.
"How is it possible to be healthy and happy in a place where the weather is constantly dreary and cold?" I thought.
I remembered Srila Prabhupada's statement in a purport to the Srimad-Bhagavatam (4.24.36): "When there is sufficient sunshine, the mind remains clear and transparent in other words, the sun-god helps the mind of the living entity to become situated on the platform of paramahamsa ['topmost swan,' or transcendentalist]." Does it not follow, then, that with insufficient sunshine the mind becomes hazy and opaque and stays on the platform of a crow? After all, Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita that He is the light of the sun and moon, and Prabhupada affirms in the purport to that verse that "the light of the sun and the moon originally emanate from the brahmajyoti, which is the bodily effulgence of Krsna." For one's spiritual life, wouldn't it be better to live in a place where one could bask in the rays of thebrahmajyoti and be elevated effortlessly to the paramahamsa platform? Isn't it described in the Gita that unnecessary austerities that torture the body or mind are in the mode of ignorance? If Krsna is all-pervading, isn't He also in sunny California? Aren't there thousands of conditioned souls there that I could help find Krsna consciousness?
Just as I was about to get off the bus, step into a travel agency, and buy a ticket to San Diego, my intelligence somehow grabbed hold of my runaway mind and shook it into silence. My intelligence brought up a verse from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta:
krsna surya sama; maya haya andhakara
yahan krsna, tahan nahi mayara adhikara
"Krsna is just like the sun, and maya is just like darkness. Where there is sunshine there can be no darkness." Krsna, as the source of the sun, must be brighter and more powerful than the sun. So one in direct contact with Krsna must derive all the benefits of the sun and more. The sun provides light and heat, makes water sparkle, adds vibrancy to colors, illuminates the material landscape, and so on. But Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita that He is the shining lamp of knowledge that destroys the darkness born of ignorance. Darker than any gray day in London is ignorance, which cannot be brightened by a thousand material suns. So real illumination is to see everything in relation to Krsna as His creation and property and to be in His service.
One can contact Krsna directly by chanting His holy name. So no matter how miserable the weather may be, a person chanting Hare Krsna with attention will see the world bathed in light and knowledge, and his mind will be clear and transparent. As for heat, when one's heart is filled with love and happiness, one feels warm and contented in any weather. When chanting Hare Krsna, one is suffused with the steady warmth of love of Krsna.
Dependence on the unpredictable sun for happiness is a precarious position, for even tropical climes have cloudy days and sometimes hurricanes to disturb one's tranquillity.
With this, the intelligence rested its case.
I conceded that it was certainly worth trying to be absorbed in chanting Hare Krsna before running off to California. I settled down in my dusty seat, closed my eyes, and fixed my mind on chanting the maha-mantra, which I articulated carefully, with as much devotion as I could muster. Within minutes my anxious mind and heart were peaceful, and I resigned myself to staying in London for as long as I have service here for Lord Krsna.
[This article was written some months before Vilasini Devi Dasi passed away last July. The Editors]