Dhanurdhara Swami April 28th, 2001
Nyack, New York
One treat in a visit with Satyaraja is his vast library of religious and Vaishnava books. Today I read a fascinating book: ?Journey to Unknown India,? by Walter Eidlitz, an educated German Jew who, in the late 1930s, with the permission of his chaste wife and loving mother, left for India to find spiritual enlightenment. Soon after he arrives, World War II breaks out. Consequently, all Germans residing in British Colonies were put into detention camps. Walter is therefore arrested and sent to a camp just outside Calcutta. There he meets a fellow German, Sadananda dasa?a Western disciple of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta who bears an uncanny resemblance to his own guru. Sadananda is learned and saintly and Walter gradually accepts him as his spiritual guide. The book strongly presents the tenets of Krishna consciousness, but in a very subtle and non-imposing way. It also gives very good insight into the mood and teachings of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta. This morning I read a particularly enlightening excerpt spoken to Walter by Sadananda concerning Walter’s study of the Bhagavat:
?When we were together, he [Bhaktisiddhanta] looked over the translations I had completed since our last meeting. He often criticized me, complaining that I worked too fast and not precisely enough. ?Nobody expects you to be a racer,? he once said to me. ?One can speed on tracks of dead gravel and ashes. But on the spiritual pastures of the Bhagavata, where God and his friends play their eternal games, one should read with reverence.? You must bow down inwardly before every line of a verse, every word, as if they contain the final revelation. And then you must remain quiet, listening, until the original text itself takes the initiative within you and begins expressing itself.
?He once warned me, ?A notebook containing translations of the Bhagavata should be a model of neatness and order. This order attracts Krishna’s grace. Each pencil, each sheet of paper, can be a means of serving Krishna and bringing Him joy. My guru insisted on such order, which colors all one’s life, and he was an example of what he preached. Like all Hindus, he ate with the tips of his fingers. It was not like eating, when he partook of a meal, but rather like praying.?? (p. 179)
Studying sastra in a reverential mood?especially the Bhagavat?is such an important instruction for practicing Krishna consciousness. It is far more important to read with devotion and with the goal of a deeper understanding than it is to complete a certain amount of pages. I was taken aback by Bhaktisiddhanta’s warning about note-taking, since mine are notoriously casual. It’s a fact that orderliness in any spiritual endeavor cultivates an overall temperament of goodness, prayerfulness, and devotion.