Above: The new altars of the Temple of Vedic Planetarium
By Praghosa Dasa
I read recently that Sarah Palin was not so well received at a function in New Delhi, India. Apparently she was preaching to the hosts how to be better Indians. In particular she was exposing the evils of bureaucracy, the soulfulness of rural life (the joy of hunting), and the inequity and bias of mainstream media. Aside from the glorification of hunting, perhaps many readers would not find her message such a bad one. However it did not go down so well with her audience as many were high-ranking government bureaucrats, prosperous urbanites, the media elite and to boot most of them were avowed vegetarians!
Anyone who has had any interaction with the civil service in India will surely be convinced of the excesses of bureaucracy and who could argue with the soulfulness of rural life minus the hunting, what to speak of the inequity that stems from all conditioned souls, media wallas included, who have yet to manifest the conviction that there is a Supreme Person ‚Äď sa sarva-vid bhajati mam ‚Äď so Ms Palin was delivering at the very least an interesting message but as we know time, place and circumstance is often all important.
As stated by Bhismadeva in the SB 1.9.16 na hy asya karichid rajan ‚Äď no one can know the plan of the Lord ‚Äď still we are all advised to roll with it and have faith in it, understanding at all times that everything is for our ultimate benefit. With that in mind and after decades of hard work and many struggles, we have now begun constructing the extraordinary place of worship that will be the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium. However if we didn‚Äôt accept the plan of the Lord not only would this project have likely never got to this point but we would surely also wonder why the Lord indeed chose to appear in rural West Bengal! I‚Äôm sure there are probably more complicated places on earth to build our adbhuta mandir but I‚Äôd imagine not that many as challenging as West Bengal. State elections have just finished in West Bengal and for the first time in forty years there is a change of government! So long as ISKCON has existed the communist government of West Bengal had been in power and we‚Äôve had a curious rasa. As a result of some strange propaganda many years ago during Srila Prabhupada‚Äôs time, our ISKCON devotees got the label of being Hindu capitalists; hence we were functioning in a communist state with a large Muslim population, which made things quite interesting. When you throw in the annual floods as well, you can be spared for wondering what the plan of the Lord was in appearing in West Bengal and thus making Sri Dhama Mayapur our world headquarters!
Anyway whatever hand a devotee is dealt, they simply pray to always be engaged in the Lord‚Äôs service, knowing the Lord has a plan. There are of course unlimited opportunities for our minds to be distracted but we just have to consider the circumstances in which Bhismadeva spoke ‚Äėna hy asya karichid rajan‚Äô to understand that our worldly distractions pale in comparison. And all such arrangements are for us to understand better our utter need to completely depend on Krsna. Oh for the mercy and blessings to follow in the footsteps of Yamunacarya and find our lips curling and then spitting at the thought of sense gratification, a global distraction. Only when we remove all our crutches and dependencies on anything other than Krsna will we be able to begin to achieve the perfection of renunciation.
These may be lofty ideals but without focusing on them in the mood of ekena manasa ‚Äď one pointed attention - realising their importance and praying to make progress on this path, we have little hope of advancing to the point of no return, thus running the risk of wasting the wonderful gift of Krsna consciousness made available to us by the extraordinary sacrifice of Srila Prabhupada. A sacrifice that was not lost on His Divine Grace, as this pastime underlines.
Srila Prabhupada was with a few of his disciples in his quarters in Mumbai and one life member came into the room, bowed before Prabhupada and then asked for Prabhupada‚Äôs blessings. Prabhupada looked at the man in quite a stern way and did not speak for what seemed like minutes and the devotees present sensed a kind of awkward silence. Eventually Srila Prabhupada broke the silence and said to the man; we are extending ourselves so much to push on this mission of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, travelling all around the world and taking on so many headaches and trying to overcome so many obstacles and problems. Practically every minute of everyday we are dealing with all the difficulties that come with running a worldwide movement and you come in here and ask me for blessings‚Ä¶ Well I will give you my blessings if you help us in our mission to fulfil the Lord‚Äôs plan.
So whatever that plan is, all we should want to do is assist with it. Locally and Globally the Lords plans are unfolding, our ability to assist and our efficiency with that assistance will be all the more transformational if we primarily focus on our own personal spiritual development and discipline, it is a fact after all that whatever is going on inside of us will manifest itself on the outside. A clean, pure heart will be our most valuable contribution to the manifestation of the Lords plans for the deliverance of the living entities of this world. It was with a pure heart that Srila Prabhupada succeeded in building this ISKCON house, under his expert guidance, we can assist him in making his ISKCON house into a home for the service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, service performed by pure hearted Vaisnavas.
I guess all we can do is chant for the mercy ‚Äď of course getting a taste, well, that‚Äôs a mystery yet to be revealed in full, no doubt.