The loss of a loved one brought pain, philosophical inquiry, and soon Srila Prabhupada’s shelter.
Solace from the Pain of Loss regby Radhika Krpa Devi Dasi The loss of a loved one brought pain, philosophical inquiry, and soon Srila Prabhupada’s shelter. The da rk, foggy night of December 22, 1998, transformed my life. That night, death became real to me as it barged into my life and snatched away my dearest, most beloved friend: my father.
Born in affluence, I had tread the path of life without ever stopping to ponder its meaning. I strove only to get material products, and happiness meant possessing worldly things. Basking in the love of my near and dear ones boosted my feeling of security. My world was a caring husband, two beautiful, affectionate children, and doting parents. What more could I ask from the Lord? Foolishly enough, I was enjoying this sunshine, thinking it to be eternal and forgetting that life is like a twig that can sway with the slightest breeze.
Surrounded by loved ones, we forget that we have higher goals to accomplish. Pain caused by the death of a near one is the best of tutors. Although I was like other materialists in many ways, the spiritual principles of my childhood helped me learn from pain. As a child, I visited temples and gurudwaras (shrines of the Sikh community) and followed some rituals. I read the Guru Granth Sahib (the scripture of the Sikhs) regularly in the morning and evening, although without much comprehension.
My father was admitted to the hospital for angioplasty. The doctors said the procedure was safe, but it ended in tragedy. When the doctors said that he was in critical condition, I prayed to God to save him. Although it might seem that those prayers were to no avail, I credit my status as a devotee of Krishna today to that moment of my life.
I’m sure that my prayers must have helped him in some way in his last moments, but they revolutionized my life. The Lord started guiding me toward Him. My purification began when I decided at the hospitalright after the doctors announced they were losing my fatherto become a vegetarian. I still don’t understand what inspired me to take that vow, but today I thank the Lord for showing me the way.
My Quest Begins The pain of separation made me morose and flooded me with questions. Searching for answers, I writhed in pain. Still, I wondered why I had never asked the questions before. They seemed so basic, but it took thirty-eight years for them to invade my consciousness: Who are we? Why are we here? Where will we go after death? And especially, Who is God? The next six months took me to various religious places in search of answers to these questions. I went to far-off places to pray to Hanumanji, to Lord Siva, to Durga, not for any material gain but for the answer to my main question: Who is God? Besides visiting temples and gurudwaras to offer prayers, I started reading the scriptures with great intensity.
Visit to Sri Vrndavana Dhama Srila Prabhupada has rightly said that Krishna sees our sincere endeavor to know Him. Krishna answered my prayers and pulled me to His holy abode.
On May 15, 1999, Krishna brought my family and me to Sri Sri Krishna- Balarama Mandir in Vrndavana. Although I had resided in Delhi since birth, I had never visited Vrndavana. But now, in reply to my prayers, the Lord arranged for me to reach my destination of solace. The answers to my questions were awaiting me.
After taking darsana of the beautiful deities, we were guided by a devotee to Srila Prabhupada’s quarters. Srila Prabhupada is the siksa (instructing) guru for anyone who enters the temple premises with feelings of inquisitiveness and surrender. He is ready to help you, especially when you feel in dire need of help and are ready to accept it from him. The devotee who showed us around in Prabhupada’s quarters narrated Prabhupada’s purpose behind establishing the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. By Krishna’s planning and mercy I got the answers to my questions. It seemed the answers were flowing to me automatically.
The sanctity of the place and the blessings of Prabhupada convinced my husband and me enough to start to follow his teachings then and there. We had the opportunity to chant one round of japa around the Srila Prabhupada Samadhi (memorial tomb), adding to the mercy already showered on us. Krishna is so merciful that He let my husband support me fully; He gave us both the intelligence to come to Him. Lord Krishna made my path to Him obstacle free.
Our guide requested us to stay for the evening arati to enjoy an “out-of-thisworld experience.” Sri Sri RadhaSyamasundara wanted to bless me fully, leaving no room for doubt. Waiting for the evening arati meant spending a hot afternoon in May with our children outside the temple (the temple is closed in the afternoon), sometimes on the stairs of the Prabhupada Samadhi and sometimes on the floor of the guesthouse.
When the temple reopened at 4:15 P.M., we joined the devotees doing kirtana. The time flew, and at 7:00 P.M. the grand Gaura arati echoed in the air with joyful kirtana and dance. The atmosphere was electrified; the melodious sounds of mrdaõgas and karatalas filled the temple hall. Everyone was involved, no one left outall feet dancing, hands clapping. Everyone seemed overjoyed at the sight of the Lord. It was amazing, indeed out of this mundane worlda spiritual experience beyond words. Both of us were now determined not to let the experience escape us.
We departed with hearts filled with newfound joy. I could sensed in the deepest core of my heart that I had been fortunate enough to be blessed by the most beautiful deities: Sri Sri Radha-Syamasundara. I had left my heart with Them.
Meeting My Spiritual Father Shortly thereafter we visited the small ISKCON center in Punjabi Bagh, near our house. It had been there for eighteen years but had never appealed to us. Our destiny was to first receive the mercy of Srila Prabhupada in the holy city of Vrndavana. Without guru-krpa, the mercy of the guru, one can’t reach one’s real destination. Soon we were chanting sixteen rounds on our beads and following the rules and regulations Prabhupada had prescribed. We could feel the mercy flowing in our lives. Then we met our would-be spiritual father, our guru-maharaja, His Holiness Gopala Krishna Goswami. The love and compassion he showered made me forget the agony I was going through. I could now understand the real purpose of life. My mind could now comprehend the religious scriptures that I had previously read but never fathomed.
His Holiness Gopala Krishna Goswami accepted us as his disciples in 2001. Today I feel myself steering ahead on the safe road of Krishna consciousness. My self-transformation has been enormous.
As Srila Prabhupada has rightly said, when in touch with the Supreme Lord we become aware of our abilities and can use them in the service of the Lord. I now give lectures on Krishna consciousness. Recently, I gave ten lectures in Pakistan, one at a program attended by eleven hundred people. I also spent three weeks in Sydney, Australia, where I spoke twenty times at various places. Last year, I was on television in India every day for four months, speaking on the Gita for fifteen minutes.
I am also a working woman, a fashion designer by profession. I design and produce Indian dresses, and I’ve begun designing outfits for ISKCON deities. Last year I also published a book of my poems glorifying the Lord, Srila Prabhupada, and my spiritual master. My husband is a businessman. He has an Ayurvedic medicine factory and deals in real estate. He also designs wooden altars.
We are both deeply grateful for the blessings we’ve received, especially the opportunity to serve the Lord. It all began with our contact with Srila Prabhupada through his temples and his Society. We encourage everyone to clutch his hand and toddle with us back to Godhead