Dhanurdhara Swami December 22nd, 2001
Vrindaban Mystery III
I met Navala Kishor, a former student, in front of the temple. After gurukula he went on to study the Bhagavatam with some of the best Vaishnava scholars in Vrindaban. He then completed his Ph.D. from Delhi University in sad-darshan (the six major philosophers of India). Whenever we speak, even casually, I learn something new.
When I told him I was now fifty-one, he said, “That’s good, because at fifty there was still some hope of material life, but at fifty-one there is no hope. In Hindi fifty is pachasa?the suffix ‘asa’ meaning hope?indicating that at the age of fifty there is still prospect of enjoying one’s senses. In Hindi, however, fifty-one is ekavan?the suffix ‘van’ meaning forest?indicating that at fifty-one there is no hope for material life, and thus with a singular purpose, eka [Hindi for one], one should go to the van, the forest?especially vrinda[van]. So it is good that you are now living in Vrindaban because at your age there is little hope for material life.”
Navala Kishor is gifted, both as a scholar and a speaker. His aptitude for learning and speaking sastra indicates a continuance of scholarship and spiritual life from a previous life. Talking with him today and noting his development on the path of devotional scholarship invoked remembrance of the day he enrolled in gurukula, over twenty years ago, and the unusual events leading to his admission:
I was sitting in my office when Ramesh Sharma, a simple and pious brahmana came to my door requesting admission for his son, with the humble addendum, “I want to give my son to Srimati Radharani.” When I told him our fee, 300 rupees per month, he lamented, “But my whole salary from government service is only 400 rupees! How will I maintain my wife and other children?” Although Ramesh humbly pleaded for his son’s admission, I was unbending. The school was already struggling financially and our modest basic tuition was our only source of income. I had already granted far too many concessions to local children, most of whom failed our expectations. Finally Ramesh left. I could see he was dejected. As he approached the door to my office on his way out I again heard the faint murmur of his despair: “But I want to give my son to Srimati Radharani.”
I was surprised when Ramesh suddenly entered my office two hours later to continue his plea, but with even greater fervor, “I want to give my son to the lotus feet of Srimati Radharani. I will give 200 rupees?half my salary?and I will somehow manage my family with the rest. Please accept my son!” This time I was moved by his earnest appeal. He is genuine I thought. He really was ready to sacrifice his whole life in order to give his son for the service of Srimati Radharani. Although it was, in one sense, against my better judgment, I immediately agreed.
Ramesh was elated. To my surprise he began to explain the short mystery behind his return to my office:
“After leaving your office I wandered behind the temple to the Krishna-Balarama tree in Raman Reti. I fell to the ground and began to cry. All of sudden I heard the sweet faint voice of a young girl: ‘Dear sir, why are you crying?’
“I initially felt disturbed by the intrusion of a stranger. Without looking up I thus replied, ‘Why do you want know? Leave me alone!’
“She continued, however, in a soft comforting voice. ‘Why are you crying? Don’t cry. Everything will be okay.’
“Her words somehow touched my heart and I burst into tears. ‘I want to give my son to Srimati Radharani, but they won’t accept him!’
“‘They will accept him!’ she boldly declared. ‘Go back immediately. He will be accepted!’
“Stunned by the confidence and compassion of the sweet voice that unexplainably brought comfort and happiness to my soul a thought spontaneously popped into mind: ‘Maybe it’s Srimati Radharani!’ I suddenly looked up, but no one was there. Searching the open field not a soul was to be seen. Re-charged with confidence I set off to your office, the enticing thought?’Maybe it was Srimati Radharani! Maybe it was Srimati Radharani!’?racing repeatedly through my mind like the repetition of a sacred mantra. And it was Srimati Radharani! Otherwise how could she know that my appeal, which was repeatedly rejected by you, would now be accepted without question?”
At the time I didn’t know what to make of it, although over the years I have known Ramesh Sharma and he has proven to be a man of impeccable character. Meeting his son, Navala Kishor, today, more than twenty years later, and seeing his dedication and spirituality, for a minute the tempting thought came again to mind. “Maybe it was Srimati Radharani!”
I received the following correction from Jan Potemkin, my friend from high school, on the journal from December 4th: “I really liked your last entry. Before publishing your journal, please note that it was Stanley (an explorer, I think) who spoke to Dr. Livingston, not Albert Schweitzer. Sorry, you’re off by 50 years or so.”