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Monday, August 29, 2005

Klaziena Vraja gallery - her finest hours!

Some photos of my late mother in Vraja -

Vrindavan, Krishna Balaram Mandir, March 1986.
Kusum Sarovar, September 1988
Dhira Samira, Vrindavan September 1988

Sunday, August 28, 2005

A perfect departure.

Klaziena Margaretha Okken

Born Groningen February 4, 1922
Deceased Zoetermeer August 28, 2005

This morning I was mailed by my brother that my mother is terminal and my ex wife would come and pick me up by car to go and see her in her nursing home in Zoetermeer, one hours drive from Zeist. 

When we arrived at 11 a.m. there was a large group of relatives in her room, my own family and the family of my stepfather, about 8-9 people in total. I had always prayed that I could be present when my mother would leave her body, because she was the only member of my family who appreciated my spiritual life. Hours went by and she did not seem to have any intention of leaving her body. A few times my ex and me had her for ourselves, so we could do some chanting in her ear. I was glad to see her mouth was opened wide throughout the dying process, so she was expected to leave her body through her mouth - upwards! My ex was so smart to decorate her 'like a lady', with necklaces including a garland of Tulsī-beads. When my stepfather asked her what beads those were I gave her a bump as a hint not to tell him, so she gave an evasive answer. So far so good. The best was yet to come, because my deepest wish, to chant with her alone while she left her body, was to be fulfilled. After an exhausting 6 hours my relatives and my stepfather and his relatives all went to do different things at different places, and me and my ex were left all alone with her. We were singing hymns like rādhe kṛṣṇa rādhe kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa rādhe rādhe rādhe śyāma rādhe śyāma śyāma śyāma rādhe rādhe, sitting on either side of her. After a while the nurse came in and I decided to take a leak because it was now anyway impossible to keep chanting. When I came back my mother had deceased, but the nurse and my ex both told me that she deceased already when I was still there - all my desires fulfilled!As I realised what had happened, a mixture of feelings rushed through me - joy and sorrow at once, tears and laughter. Joy for being able to chant rādhā-kṛṣṇa nāma in my mother's ears and sorrow for losing her. I could imagine how Mahāprabhu felt when He experienced bhāva śābalya, a mixture of simultaneous contradicting feelings! 

After this my mother was bathed and dressed in clothes of my choice - a purple blouse and a black flower dress. She lay in state in such a majestic way, it was indescribable. A real lady. I feel deeply honoured and deeply loved that she chose to leave her body in my presence, with no one else around. I need to explain that my mother was not an ordinary person - though not a fulltime Vaiṣṇava, she was a member of the Theosophical society and had deep interest in spirituality, religion, art, history, politics and literature. She came to Vraja bhūmi twice, in 1986 and 1988 and each time she stayed for three weeks. She took a bath in Rādhākund and spontaneously bowed down before Śrīla Raghunāth Dās Gosvāmī's samādhi, without us telling her to do so. She never forgot the Vraja-experience either.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Nandotsava meditation

kalyānānāṁ nidhānaṁ kali-mala-mathanaṁ pāvanaṁ pāvanānāṁ
pātheyam yan mumukṣoḥ sapadi para-pada-prāptaye procyamānam
viśrāma-sthānam ekaṁ kavi-vara-vacasāṁ jīvanaṁ saj-janānām
bījaṁ dharma-drumasya prabhavatu bhavatam bhūtaye kṛṣṇa-nāma

"May Śrī Kṛṣṇa's blessed name, which is a reservoir of all joy and auspiciousness, the destruction of Kali-yuga's sins, the most purifying of all purifying things, the saint's food as he traverses the path to the spiritual sky, the pleasure-garden where the voices of the greatest saints, philosophers, and poets play, the life of the righteous, and the seed of the tree of religion, bring divine auspiciousness to you all."

Quoted by Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī in Padyāvalī, verse 19

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Unclear text in Vilāpa Kusumāñjali

I received a question about a few sentences in my Vilāpa Kusumāñjali translation of verse nr. 50, page 200. The text runs:

"The mañjarīs are love personified. What to speak of the kiṅkarīs, the whole of Vraja-dhāma is the kingdom of love, therefore ...."

What is really meant here is -

 'The kiṅkarī is the embodiment of love herself.' Next sentence: 'Not only Rādhā's maidservants are love personified, the whole abode of Braja is the kingdom of love divine.'

I suppose that is a bit clearer.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Śrī Rādhikā travels to Barsāṇā - Śrāvan Pūrṇimā




bhrātrā - by Your brother; go - cows; ayutam - ten thousand; atra - there; mañju - beautiful; vadane - face (fem.); snehena - with affection; dattvā - having given; ālayam - the abode; śrīdāmnā - by Śrīdāma; kṛpaṇām - to the miser; pratoṣya - for satisfying; jaṭilāṁ - to Jaṭilā; rakṣa ākhya - known as Rakṣa; rākā - full moon; kṣaṇe - moment; nītāyāḥ - taken; sukha - happiness; śoka - sorrow; rodana - crying; bharaiḥ - with abundance; te - Your; saṁdravantyāḥ - melting; param - greatest; vātsalyāt - out of love; janakau - parents; vidhāsyata - will do; itaḥ - here; kiṁ - whether; lālanaṁ - fondling; me - of me; agrataḥ - before.

O Mañju-vadane (fair-faced girl)! On the full moon day of Śrāvaṇa (August) named Rakṣa Pūrṇima Your brother Śrīdāma comes to Yāvata with ten thousand cows to satisfy the greedy Jaṭilā before affectionately taking You along to Varṣānā, where Your parents lovingly fondle You in front of me as You melt with weeping from happiness and sorrow.

(Note by editor: Rakṣa Pūrṇimā is an auspicious family festival in India, during which brothers and sisters swear protection to each other by binding a decorating string around each other’s wrists)

Commentary by Śrīla Ānanda Gopāl Gosvāmī: Śrīdāma-Candra is called bhagini vatsala, he who is very fond of his sister. One day before this auspicious event Śrīdāma goes to Yāvata, the abode of Śrī Rādhikā's mother-in-law Jaṭilā. Eager to satisfy Jaṭilā, who is very miserly, and does not want to let his sister go, Śrīdāma asks her: "What do you want as a gift?" Jaṭilā is very greedy and demands cows, so he gives her ten-thousand cows just to appease her. In this way he can take his sister along. All this is arranged to facilitate Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes - in Śrī Rādhikā's parental home there is less control over Her than in Yāvaṭa. There it is easier for Śrī Rādhikā to go out to meet Kṛṣṇa. Rādhikā’s father and mother are staring down the pathway for their daughter to come. When Svāminī arrives mother and father bless Her so affectionately! Svāminī cries of happiness and sorrow. Happiness because of coming back home and sorrow because of Her long stay at Her in-laws' abode. Svāminī melts at the bosom of Her mother Kīrtidā, as if She merges with her and weeps, saying with choked voice: "Just forget about Me, ma!" Kīrtidā-Mā sobs: "Can I ever forget You?" Mother Kīrtidā’s chest is inundated with tears. Svāminī is vraja go gopa gopālī jīva mātraika jīvanam: (Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī's '108 names of Rādhikā) the very life of the cows, cowherders, cowherdwomen - nay, of all creatures of Vraja! How much then isn't She the life of the life of Her mother, who is the very form of parental love?! Tulasī prays: “It is my strong desire to see Your father and mother give You so much affection and love.” How close are the maidservants to Svāminī!  Unless She accepts you this cannot be understood.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmīpāda's viraha tithi

Disappearance day of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmīpāda

śrī caitanya mano'bhīṣṭam sthāpitaṁ yena bhū-tale
so'yam rūpa kadā mahyam dadāti sva padāntikam

"When will that Rūpa, who came to establish Śrī Caitanya's heart's desire on the earth,
grant me a place at his lotus feet?"

(Prema Bhakti Candrikā, Narottam Thakur, verse 2)

Jhulan Time

Jhulan means Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa are enjoying on the swing. The Vrajavāsīs celebrate it on the 12 days preceding the full moon in Śrāvan (August), the Bengalis from Ekādaśī to Pūrṇimā - 5 days, this year 4 days from August 16 to August 19.

The above picture shows this year's Jhulan at Rādhākuṇḍ, in the Rādhābinod Mandir of Prānkṛṣṇa Dās Bābājī...

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Sādhu Bābā

Sādhu Bābā
comes over to!