The path to an illuminated awakening and the way of love were all around India. I had no idea why everyone seemed so hooked on these ideals and to reach a higher meaning to satisfy the self. It is very possible that I was far more conditioned to a western view than I had ever acknowledged before or even known or been aware of? I was skeptical to this way of thinking but blessed with the trait to listen carefully to whatever was new and different. I’ve always loved to learn new things and to expand my horizons. I was certainly outside of my comfort zone here, pushing my boundaries into the unknown. I got the feeling that I was in for some personal growth and development here in India. Bring it on, yeah?!
The chance meeting with the devotee on the boat was mystical and I think I’m correct in saying that we touched on the metaphysical. I am not sure why but he had instantly taken a genuine interest in me and wanted to know all about me at the same time as he was more than happy to share his story and his love for Hare Krishna. I knew he thought I was beautiful ’cause he’d told me so but he was not flirting, not at all. It just came across as a polite compliment when he said it and nothing more. He spoke passionately about “the Way of Love” which was a booklet on the real meaning of love and the essence of true spirituality. He was the perfect master by virtue of his endowment with the gifts of the spirits and his charisma. I didn’t realize it then, it was first a couple of years later that I understood that I’d been blessed that evening on the boat. This had been my first real meeting with a devotee of such a high caliber. There was more in store for me on this trip but I was pleased it came gradually and in small doses as it took some getting used to and adapting to before I could take it all in and cherish my luck. It was a total fluke that Sada and I ended up at the Kumbh Mela, the largest religious gathering on earth, a few weeks later. The kind of good luck you only read about in novels.
My master on the boat kept on preaching about how the one true religion of all souls was love. Apparently it was written in the sacred texts of the Vedas, he told me. I didn’t know, I didn’t have a clue to be honest. But I liked the way he was talking so I kept on listening attentively. It troubled him that the vast majority didn’t understand the soul. He meant that the soul was different from the body and mind. He said that it was spiritual, eternal, and full of knowledge and bliss. His transcendental qualities were striking and slowly he started to touched me on a deeper spiritual level that was, should we say, unexplored. He described the soul as being the spiritual part of the body and a distinct entity separate from the body. His belief resonated with the Veda texts that no soul identifying with a material body could be happy. He’d go as far as describing the body as a prison for the soul and he explained how we in this human life were meant to find a way out to reach a higher existence. He spoke about the Hare Krsna Mantra and how important it was to chant the mantra to create both waves of spiritual vibration as well as benefit from the effect it had on the body to cleans the heart of all unhealthy desires and tendencies. The key idea was that the holy names would inspire and purify all living beings and offer them a way to reach a state of inner peace and tranquility. The Hare Krsna chanting was brought to this world by Çré Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His associate Lord Nityananda. My master used the sun and the moon as similes to describe the two men. He told me that they had arisen simultaneously to dissipate the darkness of ignorance. The idea was that they should bestow benedictions upon all. He went on to explain the three stages of devotion to God where the first stage was that of practice and the second stage involved the awakening spiritual ecstasy and the final stage was the fully blossomed ecstasy he referred to as pure love. It was a beautiful step ladder where you had to pass the grade to move on to the next stage in your spiritual development.
He waved at us when he got off the boat at half moon beach and shouted “chant the Hare Krsna Mantra and be Happy!”.
We smiled at him both totally stoked at his enthusiasm and the spontaneity with which he had told us the story of Veda. Sada said “you reckon he’ll send you that booklet?”. I just nodded at her and looked out over the horizon. Spiritual India. What were you doing to me?
The jewel in the crown. My India.