The Lone Mendicant

I’m back at home base – the holy town of Vrindavana. Here we periodically return to reassess, refine and refresh. This spiritual hub, almost inconspicuously, helps one shed the illusory layers of lamentation and hankering, reminding us of the real business in life. In 1958, while residing as a lone, penniless mendicant in this remote town, Srila Prabhupada wrote a beautiful poem. “In this mood,” he said, “I am getting many realisations.”

Krishna has shown me the naked form of material nature,
By his strength it has all become tasteless to me today.
“I gradually take away all the wealth of those upon whom I am merciful.”
How was I able to understand this mercy of the all-merciful? (Stanza 1)

Somehow my life trajectory led me to the life of a monk. As years progress, I realise that the renounced order is not just a dress, an identity, role, position, or life situation. It must mature into a deep internal conviction. Saffron signifies fire; the setting ablaze of all material concern. Saffron is not just a statement, but the opportunity and responsibility to embody genuine detachment. Not a dry, bitter, heartless or forced detachment, but a natural indifference coming from genuine spiritual inspiration. Without this higher taste, what is the real substance of one’s so-called renunciation? I’m falling short, and challenged to dig a little deeper.

Everyone has abandoned me, seeing me as penniless,
Wife, relatives, friends, brothers, everyone.
This is misery, but it gives me a laugh. I sit alone and laugh.
In this maya-samsara, whom do I really love? (Stanza 1)

Here we are in the cosmic transit lounge. According to karmic configuration, we arrive here from the ten directions, catching planes to different destinations, and rubbing shoulders in the meantime. We are but temporary acquaintances. The transitory world of names, however, conjures up a variety of ingenious strategies to distract us from our real purpose. The enticing drama of family, friendship, love and society; providing an endless source of convenient excuses to dodge Krishna life after life. We’ve done it all before. Now I can only hope I won’t lose my focus again. May the residents of Vrindavana inspire me to let go, once and for all.