In this feature of BACK TO GODHEAD, devotees succinctly express some of the realizations they have gained through service and devotion to Lord Krsna.

Krsna's Sunrise

Pacing the weathered wooden porch in the cool stillness of the early morning. I meditate on the sound of the mystical, primeval name "Krsna, Krsna, Krsna," as the blackness in the eastern sky slowly yields to shades of violet and soft rosy pink in the delicate light of the sun's first rays.

In the same natural way. the illusion-dark sky within my heart is blossoming in the glorious colors of transcendence from the presence of Krsna rising beyond the horizon of my material conceptions. And though He is not yet fully manifest before me. the indications of His approach are clear and certain, just as the sun is surely soon to come.

Lalita-Madhava-devi dasi

Shell Shock

The grisly scene in my fish tank was enough to convince me that the day I had been dreading was at hand. What just yesterday had been my pet hermit crab's legs long, bone-hard, and equipped with mean sets of pincers that had on one notable occasion caused me to scream like a tomcat in an alley brawl now lay inert on the gravel, as harmless as a dead rattlesnake. Various other parts of his anatomy, which I could not name, were scattered about in sludgy globs. His smooth, speckled shell, now uninhabited, looked merely ornamental.

"You'll have to buy an extra shell for your crab that's larger than the one he's in now," the matronly pet shop owner had informed me when I'd bought him, "because some day soon hell get too big and have to move. About forty-eight hours after he moves, you'll see a little spot of pink in the bigger shell, and in two or three days your crab will become bigger and better than ever."

A chill had run down my spine. Something about this process seemed unnatural, almost ghoulish. Perhaps it was the picture of a blob of jelly, dispossessed of all it had once used to see and move, squirming in blind search for a larger dwelling. After all, isn't that the stuff of which horror movies are made?

It wasn't until I came to Krsna consciousness that I realized that the process of birth and death we endure is eerily similar to the disquieting phenomenon the hermit crab goes through during its life, for all of us must eventually leave the shell of our bodies and, according to our needs, attach ourselves to new ones. "As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, the soul similarly accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones." Krsna explains to Arjuna in the Bhagavad-gita. Until our hearts are totally purified by the practice of devotional service to Krsna, we will continue to exchange one unsuitable external dressing for another, never happy, never free, and never fulfilled.

To someone observing this pitiful situation from the spiritual world, material existence most likely seems as unhealthy and grotesque as the scene in my fish tank appeared to me. Fortunately, the advantage we have over hermit crabs is our ability to change our behavior and priorities. Through Srila Prabhupada's mercy, we can chant Krsna's holy name, grow in self-realization, and eventually throw off this material covering.

Suci-devi dasi

The Real Poverty

In the Vedic view, most modern men and women are spiritually poor. Raised in a society that fills them with materialistic goals, they have no idea that life's aim is spiritual realization.

Though people lament about material poverty, much of what is called poverty is miserable only to the degree that one identifies with it. There have been many saints who lived in poverty but were not at all miserable. They willingly embraced poverty. If we seriously cultivate spiritual life, we too can experience a joy that overwhelms the suffering of poverty.

Many persons living below the so-called poverty line have the basic necessities of life. Their suffering often comes from wanting things they cannot afford but that are actually unnecessary. If they had a wealth of spiritual assets, their desires for greater material assets would lessen, and they would be much happier.

The real solution to poverty, then, is devotional service to Krsna, who will not let His devotee suffer for want of the necessities of life, and who will deliver a spiritual taste that will free the devotee from attachment to material enjoyment.

Modern society convinces us to feel that we need a certain standard of luxury to be happy. But a devotee is not attracted to the glare of material success. He knows that it is temporary and unsatisfying, and he feels satisfied in his relationship with Krsna, the real necessity of life.

Nagaraja dasa