H.G. Matsyavatar Das

Thursday, 26 February 2009

An Extraordinary Experience

By Madhavipriya Dasi

I am telling an extraordinary experience.

Bhaktin Daniela, our friend, student and devotee, is close to leave her body. We have known her since 2005. Her character is sweet, cosy and gentle. She has a math degree and works as a coordinator at a university office. She has been ill for several years with an irreversible degenerative disease.

Saturday, 24 January 2009, Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu speaks with bhaktin Daniela on the phone. It is a moving and touching conversation, from heart to heart, from a Guru to his aspiring disciple.

Bhaktin Daniela confides: “I am surprised of the level of realization that I was able to acquire thanks to You. One thing is not being afraid of death theoretically and another thing is not being afraid when you are dying. The biggest gift that I have received in this life is meeting You and the devotees and being able to dedicate, after years spent for my family and my job, the last ten years of my existence, 40 to 50, to spirituality and to the study and practice of Bhakti.”

While reading inside her heart, Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu asks her if she would like to receive the Holy Diksha.

Bhaktin Daniela reveals that receiving the spiritual initiation is her most intense desire, the most intimate, the deepest one that she does not dare to express.

The Lord reveals to the Spiritual Master what is hidden from words. The language of the soul triumphs and the Guru reads the thoughts, realizes other’s desires, the desires of those who look for Shelter, Truth and Love. Salvations manifests itself beyond words, it overcomes the barriers of space and it expands beyond the ties of time.

Sunday night, Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu tells us that on Tuesday he wants to go to the Bologna hospital where bhaktin Daniela is admitted, to perform the holy ritual and give her the Diksha.

However, the next day we receive the news that her conditions have worsened. The doctors tell us that she could die at anytime. The pain is excruciating and terrible.

Bhaktin Daniela’s husband confides to us: “Ask the devotees to pray so she can survive until Tuesday morning and be able to fulfil her dream.”

Bhaktin Daniela is waiting for her Spiritual Master and desires the consecration intensively. Her husband is transformed by witnessing her spiritual evolution. He has the same only wish, that death find her after initiation, protected and blessed by the Holy Diksha.

Time doesn’t wait. Death is coming. Spiritual life wants to blossom and triumph and overcome the suffering of her decaying body.

Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu decides to anticipate his departure.

At 1600 hours on Monday, 26 January, He begins His journey toward bhaktin Daniela. Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu goes to her to help her recognizing Life, valuing it and loving it, the life of the eternal soul that transcends physical decay and is realized by the awakened person who allows others to discover it, feel it and realize it.

Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu brings Tulasi leaves, water from 108 holy rivers, a toulasi necklace, Tilak, a japamala, a garland of flowers offered to Shrila Prabhupada, some holy books with holy mantras…and His Bhakti that permeates the heart, each of His gesture, word, move and intention.

We arrive at the hospital. It is 1830 PM. Bhaktin Daniela is in room of the Hospice that the dear devotees have prepared for this occasion, the Great Event. Garlands of flowers offered to the Deities are hung near the bed, of the bed there is a Shri Yatra, on a table there is a picture of Shrimati Radharani and Panchatattva, Bhagavad-Gita and other holy objects.

We enter. Together with Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu, other than me there are Paramtmaji, Bhaktirasa and Daniela’s husband. Bhaktin Daniela is miraculously lucid and conscientious. She was waiting for her Spiritual Master and her heart is crying with joy when she sees him.

Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu asks her: “What is the holy image that is mostly dear to you and that you keep in your memory?”

The Mercy of God” She replies.

Concentrate on this image and visualize it. God is Love, Mercy and Compassion. The Name of God puts you in contact with God. It allows you to feel God inside you. Krishna manifests Himself in His Name. Learn to memorize Its sound also. Try to say: Krishna….Rama…can you?

Yes” bhaktin Daniela says the Holy names: Krishna….Rama….

Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu shows bhaktin Daniela the image of Shri Krishna with the flute.

Together they recite the Mahamantra.

Is it your desire to receive the Holy Diksha?”

Yes!”, bhaktin Daniela replies, with joy springing from her heart. She must lay in bed, her body does not move, the pain is excruciating, death is approaching, but the joy of the soul is springing.

I wish you that you could discover God inside you. It is the most precious think existing. The only health that has a value is the spiritual one. Bodily health, we all lose it soon or later. No one can maintain it forever. Now I am going to put tilak on your forehead, this will purify your entire body.”

Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu recites the Holy Mantra:

Om Keshavaya namah

Om Narayanayah namah

Om Madhavaya namah.....

Then he puts the necklace around her neck. “This Tulasi necklace will accompany you through your journey in a wonderful way, it will protect you forever.”

Then he sprinkles her head with Holy Water. “Now it is as if you went to all the pilgrimage places and that you had bathed in their holy waters.”

Bhaktin Daniela wispers: “I am too happy”.

I brought Tulasi leaves for you. Do you remember Tulasi Devi?”

Yes, I remember”, bhaktin Daniela answers and takes the Tulasi leaves.

Can you taste it? It is the flavour of Krishna. Tulasi Devi represents dedication and devotion to God par excellence.”

Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu continues: “These preparatory rites that we have performed, in this situation of apatsu dharma, substitute the holy fire. Shri Vishnu has arrived, He is here. It is like we had the holy fire before us.”

Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu shows the image of Shri Krishna with the flute once again:

Krishna, Krishna! Krishna, protect me!”

Bhaktin Daniela repeats.

Since it is your desire that I initiate you to spiritual life, I offer my blessings to you for this evolutionary journey, for this journey toward Joy and Love. Your name will be: KRISHNABHAKTI dasi, the servant of the Divine Love. Think of Divine Love that is the clearest image that you have!”

Bhaktin Daniela, with a sweet smile says: “It is wonderful!”

You become your name. This is your nityasvarupa, your eternal spiritual form. Worldly things have an end for everyone and they cannot be really possessed. As much as they shine, they always remain out of us, estranged from our nature, but Bhakti is inside us, it is us! Krishnabhakti dasi is a name of Shrimati Radharani. Shri Krishna expresses Bhakti through Shrimati Radharani. Repeat your name.”

And Krishnabhakti dasi, with love, repeats her name.

The holy mantra sounds in the air and in our hearts, it fills every visible and invisible space.

Now you have undertaken the initiation journey. Now you are connected with God. Constantly repeat your name: Krishnabhakti dasi! Let it ring inside you. Maybe your words come out with difficulty, but inside you, you must hear you wonderful voice that sings this name. Nothing fearful is happening to you. Your disease is only referred to you body. You are not your body. You are your soul. Now think of yourself, live your inner serenity. You are the servant of Love for God. This is the reason why you came to this world. All of us come to play a certain role and to learn a great lesson: Love for God.

I would like for you to thank your husband for having being close to you so much and for how much he has loved you. He favoured you very much in this journey, he allowed you to make your decisions because he recognized their value. Try to express a thought for him.”

Her husband comes closer to Krishnabhakti dasi, hold her hand and she tells him: “Thank you very much”.

Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu continues: “Would you like to confess anything? Would you like to get rid of some burdens? I am here to help you passing the most important exam of your life. Life is wonderful when we understand it on the spiritual level.”

Krishnabhakti dasi says: “Yes, however sometimes we can fall.”

It is true, but not in your case. You are lucky.”

Then Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu asks for a mirror so Krishnabhakti dasi can see her nice tilaka.

Everything is an expression of Krishna. Krishna has everything and gives everything. If you search for anything other than God, you can find anything except for God. If you look for God and you find Him, together with Him you will find everything, Mister Eckart said. God is everything.

The mantra that I am about to recite means: Krishna, show Yourself to me, Krishna, protect me.

Krishna pahimam

Krishna rakshamam”

Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu starts singing the song and Krishnabhakti dasi sings with Him.

Bhaktirasa and I hold two imagines in front of Krishnabhakti dasi. One represents Shri Krishna playing the flute and the other one represents the merciful lotus face of Shrimati Radharani. Krishnabhakti looks at the divine images. She looks for them with her eyes and holds them with her hands. Then she looks for Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu’s hand.

The singing is spreading, it establishes itself in our hearts and enters our souls.

Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu says to her: “You have received the most important of the sacraments that will free you from any danger and from any mistake you have made in the past. Now you can feel the lightness of your heart.”

The dear devotees that came to assist Krishnabhakti das are invited to enter the room.

Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu pronounces her name loudly:

Krishnabhakti dasi ki, jay!

And all of the devotees repeat that blessed name.

Shri Krishna is the Manifestation of Love, Compassion and Welcoming Krishnabhakti dasi, you are very lucky. You have many people that love you and that are close to you. Remember that you are not in any danger. The most intimate and true part of you is connected to Krishna. Hold this japamala, feel its contact. I brought it for you. Only by touching it you can remember me, Shri Krishna and your name. When you think of your name you are directly connected to the Lord.”

Krishnabhakti dasi holds the japamala and together with Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu she recites the Holy Names.

The pain in her body is excruciating. It is however proven in front of our eyes that pain does not affect her conscience.

A nurse enters the room to give her some painkiller to alleviate her pain. While the needle enters her flesh, between a wail of pain and the other, Krishnabhakti repeats her spiritual name that she has just received.

Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu writes her name on a piece of paper and gives it to her. “This name will enlighten your journey. You will be protected by the memory of this name and by the memory of the experiences that you have lived with us.

Krishna, Krishna!

Hari, Hari!

Jaya Govinda!

Jaya Gopala!”

Krishnabhakti dasi repeats these Holy Names, she sings the divine glories.

Be serene, you are not in any danger.” Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu says to her and she replies: “No danger.”

You are going to a wonderful place, filled with light, greenery and happy people. Your dream will come true. You will feel that any pain of your body will end and you will strongly feel you spiritual dimension. Now just think of your nature of Love, only think about God.”

Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu starts singing the Mahamantra in a very sweet tone and Krishnabhakti dasi sings with Him.

All the devotees begin to sing.

Krishnabhakti sings with them! Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu’s hand on hers, his other hand on her head.

Krishnabhakti sings! With the garland around her neck, her wonderful tilak on her forehead, Tulasi leaves in her moth and Love that pervades her mind, deep in her soul.

I pray inside me: “I wish I will have this immense luck, the greatest. Leaving my body at the presence of my Guru Maharaja who reminds me in this crucial moment what he has reminded me through my entire life: only the Spirit is real, It is Everything. It is the only Reality to research, love, desire and realize.”

Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu is moved. The devotees are crying. They are tears of Love.

Shri Shri Radha Govinda Deva, ki jay!

Shri Shri Krishna Balarama, ki jay!

Shri Shri Radha Vrajasundara, ki jay!

Shri Bala Gopala, ki jay!

Shrila Prabhupada, ki jay!

Krishnabhakti dasi, ki jay! 

Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu asks that each devotee takes turn to come close to Krishnabhakti dasi. Other then the devotees already mentioned there are also Paramakaruna, her daughter Stefania, Jaya Govinda, bhaktin Lucia, bhaktin Angela, Bhadrarupini, Kaliyakrishna, bhakta Francesco and Paramananda.

Krishnabhakti dasi searches for her japamala, she holds it in her hands: it is the sign of her eternal tie to Shri Shri Guru and Krishna.

Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu tells her: “Now we are leaving and leave you with the memory of your name. You will feel that you are perfectly protected. All of us are with you in your journey, all directed toward the same supreme goal: Divine Love.”

With the highest level of voice that her body allows, Krishnabhakti dasi happily says: “It has been so beautiful!”

Bhaktirasa starts singing the prayer to Lord Nrsimhadeva. With the little strength remaining in her body, Krishnabhakti dasi moves her lips softly. We see her: in her heart, she sings the glories to God!

keshava dhrita narahari rupa, jaya jagadisha hare, jaya jagadisha hare, jaya jagadisha hare... 

the Divine Name: Salvation, Life, Spiritual Happiness defeat suffering, Eternity defeats death.

Krishnabhakti dasi wispers: “Thank you for all of this.”

Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu: “I am certain that Shri Krishna will take care of you wonderfully. If you need anything, ask Krishna and Krishna will satisfy you. Krishna is Kamadeva, He fulfils any wish. Krishna is endless Mercy, and this is the meaning of the spiritual name that you have received. Keep it as a treasure inside yourself and it will lead you to full success. Life is a journey and this journey has been very lucky for you.”

Yes, it is very lucky.” Krishnabhakti dasi says this by articulating well these words, just like her consciousness is very clear, lucid and distinct.

You told me that the divine form that is most dear to you is the one of Mercy and Compassion. Think about Krishna and about His Manifestation of Mercy, this will ease your journey. Look at this image (Krishna that caresses Shrimati Radharani’s lotus feet with His face).”

Wonderful!” Krishnabhakti says.

Would you like to have it?”, Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu asks her.


It is one of the most beautiful images, I am very affectionate to it.”

No, then…You keep it.” Krishnabhakti dasi says with care and sensibility, however Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu answers: “I brought it for you, keep it!”

Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu asks her to repeat: “Krishna is our Eternal Friend. Krishna is our Eternal Lover. He is our Joy and Salvation. He is in all the creatures and all the creatures get sustainment from him.

He continues: “If you feel attracted by this image of Krishna, your life has already reached success. Worldly images, even the most beautiful ones do not last. Spiritual images, however cannot ne taken from us. Memorize this divine image and live with this form of the Lord. In Bhagavad-Gita Krishna says: “He who thinks about Me, comes to Me.”

Remember when we used to sing the Holy Names together during our Seminars?

Now we are all with you, we wish you a wonderful journey, with joy, light and Divine Love. The Divine Love that moves the sun and the other stars…remember how much you loved that Seminar on Dante and Bhagavad-Gita?”

KrishnaBhakti dasi answers with enthusiasm: “Oh yes!’

Those that are there observing and listening, can see clearly that Life overcomes death!

For the soul there is non birth or death. It exists and it never stops existing. It does not die when the body dies.”

We are in the same journey, on the same boat. We have left from the unhappiness bank to reach the happiness one.”

Yes, we must believe this.” Says Krishnabhakti dasi with all of her might.

If you pronounce Krishna’s name, Krishna will become your Reality. Chant your spiritual name inside you and Krishna will grant you infinite Mercy. Chant the Holy Names of the Lord and you will receive plenty of success from this life experience….See you soon!”

Krishnabhakti dasi answers: “See you soon”. She repeats it twice.

The devotees leave the room one at the time and before they go, each of them approaches Krishnabhakti dasi to say farewell.

When I approach her calling her by her name, she says: “This name is wonderful, filled with sweetness!” I add: “I am so happy that you are now a God sister!” She answers with joy: “Me too, very much!”

Then she tells Gurudeva: “Thank You for loving me.”

And he replies: “ May the Lord enlighten and protect you always.”

While we were leaving that room, where Life overcomes death, Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu says: “What matters in our existence is how much we have realized Divine Love. These special moments structure and enforce our spiritual consciousness. We can witness the reality of death and the level of serenity that we can face it with.”

While we are exiting, we see many other rooms where there are terminally ill patients, other consciences, other lives. The TVs are blasting in those rooms where those who must face death are already dead inside. Emptiness rules and causes despair.

We walk by a room where the ward nurses gather. Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu greets them by putting his hands together and bowing his head, as a sign of prayer and they do the same. They gesture and their looks lead us to believe that in a certain way they have understood the importance of what was done. It seems that a little hope has reached them, the suffering assistant to the suffering, that do not have the instruments to understand the meaning of death and the precious lesson of life.

The head nurse had attended Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu’s ECM Seminar and the nurse that is assisting Krishnabhakti dasi would like to learn more about the spiritual teachings that we are practicing. Life brings Life.

As we exit the hospital, Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu says: “ The moment of death is the most crucial moment of the entire life. It is where we play our future whether it will be made of sufferance, or wrapped in darkness, or shining joy of Divine Light.”

It is almost nine at night. We get in the car. The devotees are moved, happy and deeply touched by the extraordinary experience. They say farewell to Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu and offer their obeisances by chanting a kirtana.

They have been unforgettable hours, an experience out of space and time that will remain in our memory forever.

My heart screams: “Krishnabhakti dasi, we are with you! Our beloved Master is in the centre. If we always follow Him, He will guide us to Krishna. He will teach us with his life, example and True Love.”

Right before her health worsened, Krishnabhakti dasi was preparing an exam on the philosophy of Bhagavad-Gita, within the Theology Course. She had reached the following chapter: “Reaching the Supreme”. And we saw our Master accompanying her on the path that leads to God!

I hope that this Life lesson will help each one of us!

Let’s not waste our time, let’s dedicate our life to Life!

I deeply reflect on what has happened and thank Shri Shri Guru and Krishna for this wonderful and very important experience. The Shastra say that the contact with a pure devotee of the Lord can shortly transform the life of any living being from conditioned to liberated and to a fervent lover of God.

The Merciful work of a pure devotee penetrates the daily existence, actions, thoughts, desires, emotions and the sentiments of he who predisposed himself to receive it until his entire conscience is permeated. The studies performed by Krishnabhakti dasi, her association with the devotees, her participation in Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu’s seminars (her last one was on 30 Nov 08), her listening of countless lessons, the individual study sessions or the ones performed by Bhaktirasa, her chanting of the Holy Names…this is how Life progressively awakes us. Love that relights the Wisdom that enlightens, God that manifest Himself in a man and the man that reconnects to God, by discovering Him in his intimate self.

Thank you very much, Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu for the instruments of salvation that you have given us and that you continue to give us to allow us to realize Bhakti, the only purpose of life.

THANK YOU! Thank from me, Krishnabhakti dasi and all of those that have benefitted from Your teaching and that will benefit from them in the future!

Have a great journey, Krishnabhakti dasi!

See you soon!

Monday, 23 February 2009



by Matsya Avatara Dasa.

Problems without solution do not exist. The in-depth psychological knowledge of the Vedic tradition, in harmony in modern psychological researches, identifies conscious and active willpower  as the turning point for the solution to existential problems: one ought to desire to find solutions and methodically pursue them with determination, instead of plunging deep in pain, thinking it incurable. A remissive attitude sets the person for failure. The first steps out are undoubtedly strenuous, as coming out of a moor or quicksand, but later, walking in the direction of light, the joy of living rises again from within, bearing all its vital power. Attitude is the focal point: the way you approach life, life responds to you, as it happens in relationships with fellow humans. We are the directors of our mental scenery: if we find one scenery is wrong and unfitting we can take it out, replace it with the proper one, and our mood will change. If we avoid complaints and save our energies, once we hit the profound conviction of how we want to act, we will have energies at our disposal to invest and multiply. You can multiply your resources by investing them in evolution, or you can destroy them in wasteful lamentations: it is all up you. In the evolution of consciousness, thought is a tool and emotions the means; we can use emotions for a quality jump in perception, instead of living them as knots which tie to conditioned existence. Therapy can start the moment we counter hot-natured emotions with cool-natured thoughts which have the power to clarify any turbid content. It is certainly difficult for thought to counter emotions on its own, as the latter's psychic charge is significantly higher. A series of positive emotions well instilled in our memory is our ready to hand emergency kit: when we wish to evoke them, they are immediately in our reach. Positive emotions are themselves a strong emotional charge, generally a luminous, expansive, penetrating one which can refine the healing operation only partially accomplished by thought.

It could be teachings we have received, beautiful life moments when we've experienced spiritual happiness: these memories will be extraordinarily precious if we can evoke them at the right moment, the moment of a trauma or serious crisis, even when death is approaching. If you try and change the scenery and evoke some moments of happiness from the memory archive, moments of intense spiritual growth together with people engaged in positive thinking and acting, you'll see your mood suddenly change and the course of thinking take a more vibrant and luminous direction.
Careful storage of positive moments is then all the more important: moments of joy, moments when we deeply understand others and  they understand us, and most of all moments of truth which open our vision. If we are accountable for our thinking, then who forces us to  store anguishing emotions or sad thoughts? There is no obligation, we ought only to learn to substitute them with other positive emotions and thoughts. As Patanjali (Sadhana Pada, sutra 34) suggests to meditate on the opposite thought, when negative thoughts haunt the mind.

Friday, 20 February 2009

My first Meeting with Shrila Prabhupada

By Matsyavatara Dasa
In the summer of 1976 I was in India, on the Himalayas. I was seriously interested in the philosophy of the sage Patanjali (rajayogasutras) and I was living in an ashram in a very austere way, where I studied attentively from dawn to sunset. There nobody knew who I was; I was 31, unmarried and in excellent health. In Europe I was living a period of great material success. In Italy I had founded six companies and I was considered one of the most famous furniture designers in the world. Plenty of money, fame, and a social life studded with VIPs no longer satisfied me, rather the feeling of solitude even among my crowd of anonymous "friends" saddened me. I felt I was wasting my best years in vain and that I was moving in a direction that was completely the opposite of my aspirations. So in 1974, to everyone's great surprise, I gave a turning point to my life: with great caution I selected my friends, eliminated many worldly commitments and directed my interests more and more towards introspection. I found worldly literature nauseating, even if it was written by the most famous authors. Though I had taken part in the student movement in 1968, I had by now lost interest in their requests, which had been betrayed and politicized. Verbal and political violence, sex and drugs, had destroyed the movement's ideals of freedom and fairness, causing it to degenerate in an unacceptable and definitive way. With this state of mind, I was losing interest in the hedonistic, materialistic western culture and, thanks to some material I had read, was starting to look towards the Orient. Likewise, the course of my travels also changed and instead of going to Paris or New York, I began visiting China and India until I finally defined the focal point of my research: my interest was concentrated more and more on the spiritual. I found Vedic literature very interesting, and among this, Patanjali's "Yoga Sutras" was my favorite book. In 1976 I went to India for the third time, resolved to find a satisfying answer to my existential questions. During this, as well as my previous sojourns, I had visited many ashrams and met many yogis and gurus but none of them inspired me deeply, nor did they convince me as much as I had expected. I began to think that I was not yet ready or did not have the "correct vision" and that I would have to purify myself through study and an ascetic life. I was convinced that by doing so God would reveal to me with clarity the path to follow. In this mood, I went to an anonymous ashram to "prepare" myself for spiritual research. This same year, at the end of August in the ashram I have just mentioned, I made friends with a brahmachari of my age, who looked intelligent and ascetic. We both attended the classes on Vedanta-sutras, studying together and talking about our aspirations. Early one day, he told me gravely: " If you want to be happy you have to devote your life to Krishna and in order to do so you must meet Srila Prabhupada personally, since he can introduce you to Krishna. Leave this place, go to Vrindavana and speak with Prabhupada". I had never heard anything about this Swami and the figure of Krishna, as it was presented in the Bhagavad-gita that I had read, did not impress me much. Struck by my friend's attitude, I asked him for more explanations and he replied that he was a Vaishnava and that he was there to preach. We started to talk about Krishna and Prabhupada and one of the first things he told me, was that the Bhagavad- gita I had read was not authentic and that Krishna can be revealed only by one of His pure devotees which was why I should have immediately gone to meet Prabhupada in Vrindavana. We stopped attending the classes on Vedanta and we regularly met on the banks of the river Gange. We would chant the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra and I would listen to him recount Krishna's and Prabhupada's pastimes. On August 27th we affectionately parted ways and I left for Vrindavana in search of Prabhupada. I did not know exactly where Vrindavana was, nor how far it was from where I was at the present. I knew only that I had to meet Prabhupada, who would introduce me to Krishna.
In this manner, thinking intensively of Prabhupada, my trip began. I left that ashram and travelled up to Haridwara, from there I took a train to Delhi, then another to Mathura, from there I took a tanga (a cart drawn by a horse) to Vrindavana. I got to Vrindavan in the early afternoon and under an implacable sun I immediately began to look for Srila Prabhupada. I only knew that he was in a Krishna temple in Vrindavana, so I asked the driver candidly to take me to the temple of Krishna. He took me to innumerable Krishna temples, where I entered and asked about Prabhupada, but even from my first impressions, I knew I was not yet in the right place. After hours spent going in and out of many temples, the tanga driver lost his temper, afraid that I was making fun of him and would never pay him, after a series of threats, he threw my baggage in the middle of the street. I was in Vrindavana, now I knew there were thousands of Krishna temples and more then one person who was claiming to be Prabhupada, but I did not know in which temple my Prabhupada was. I was alone, tired, hungry, sitting on my luggage in the middle of a dusty street and the persons passing by watched me curiously. My poor knowledge of English was not of much help. Since I was standing near a fence, after a while I decided to knock on it's large iron gate, which opened at once. A bright, clean devotee appeared and I asked him the same information I had already implored so many times that afternoon: "I am looking for Srila Prabhupada...", from the open gate I could see a coloured temple and a beautiful garden and even before the devotee answered, I felt I was in the right place. The devotee, who was Italian, invited me to come in and seeing my condition, he prepared me a room where I could rest and wash, then he told me that after taking prasada, I could meet Srila Prabhupada. I was extremely happy: I felt safe and my faith in the protection of Prabhupada and Krishna was increasing. Once I had recovered from my tiredness, the devotees informed me that Prabhupada had left for Delhi the day before, therefore the following day I also left for Delhi. Before leaving, I asked the temple president to write me a letter of introduction. When I arrived in Delhi, it was very late at night: I was to meet Prabhupada the next morning.

It was ten o'clock a.m. and an italian-australian devotee (Sajanashraya dasa), eager for an opportunity to be in Prabhupada's company, agreed to act as translator and accompanied me to Srila Prabhupada's room. The room was bright with sunshine and Srila Prabhupada was sitting between two windows on a big cushion, surrounded by some of his disciples (one of them was Gopal Krishna dasa, at that time a grihastha). The floor was covered with a white sheet. I came close to Prabhupada's desk and bowed down in front of him. I had seen this gesture of respect performed many times before in the ashrams I had visited, but personally had not yet performed it. This time, to bow in respect felt very spontaneous. Prabhupada looked grave and luminous, and we looked each other straight in the eyes for a while. Then he smiled and asked me: "Have we already met?".
I answered: "No, never, but during these days I have intensely and repeatedly thought of you."
Prabhupada: " Do you believe in God?", I answered: "Yes, I do". I thought that this was the first time that I actually meant it. Then he became grave again and told me:" Well, unfortunately modern society is not on God's side, for this reason it can't win, it's already defeated! The false progress that characterizes our society, renders it disgusting: it is a society of ignorant people, with artificial needs. Mankind's greatest victory is to realize that we are not this body, we are spirit souls, part and parcel of Krishna, His eternal servants. Therefore, without God consciousness there can be neither progress nor happiness. To have a material body means to suffer, but people are so ignorant they think that the miseries of life are natural and even enjoyable. To attain the human form is very rare. We are very fortunate to have this body, because the human form is unique among the innumerable other forms of life, in that it can allow us to re-establish our eternal relationship with God. We can attain knowledge of Krishna by leading a simple life based on cultivating the land and protecting, not abusing, cows. Krishna consciousness actually means simple living and high thinking, in harmony with nature. Many people believe themselves independent from nature, they try to take advantage of her as if she were their slave, but inevitably, they are defeated by her laws. The tendency to dominate nature and other living beings can only create a cats and dogs society."
Shrila Prabhupada asked me what I thought about this and I agreed with him. As he spoke to me I realized that meeting him was the opportunity of a lifetime and if I did not take advantage of this experience, it would be useless to continue circling the world looking for God. I felt sure that Prabhupada was totally reliable and for the first time in my life I felt I could abandon myself. All the problems that had previously disturbed me were swept away by his words.
Smiling he asked me: "So, what is the problem?"
I answered: "If I could live here with you and the devotees, dressed like this, there would be no problem. I'm worried about going back home, where I have many responsibilities. I am engaged and will soon be married, I manage various companies and collaborate with many partners. How can I conduct a spiritual life with all of these social responsibilities.
Prabhupada said to me: "Don't worry, just become a devotee, chant Hare Krishna, read the Bhagavad-gita and Krishna will reveal Himself to you. In the Gita you can find the solution to any material problem. In order to put an end once and for all to samsara, the transmigration of the soul from body to body, species to species; animal, plant, human, we have to know Krishna. Don't waste time. You are a gifted man. Do you know where talent comes from? What is it's source, to whom it belongs? It is the property of God, just like everything else that exists, including the fruits of your labor. Therefore you have only one responsibility: put all of your talent to the service of Krishna because the goal of life is to know Krishna and He can be attained only if we serve Him with love and devotion. Go home, chant Hare Krishna, talk about Krishna to the people you meet, Krishna will take care of you, don't worry. Hare Krishna!

A few hours after my encounter with Prabhupada, I left New Delhi to return to Italy. I was determined to follow Prabhupada's instructions, and I planned, after some time, to go back to India to inform him how things were going in my life. During the return trip I was worried about the impact I would have on my surroundings, on my family. How would my girlfriend, friends, parents and partners react to my conversion? But Prabhupada's words rang in my ears, giving me hope: "Don't worry. Simply study the Bhagavad-gita, chant Hare Krishna, and Krishna will take care of you". In this state of mind, on the return trip, I started reading "The Bhagavad-gita As It Is", printed by the Macmillan Company, the first edition of the B.G. printed by Prabhupada in America. Something extraordinary happened. Even though my knowledge of written english was very insufficient and I had no presumption of understanding the profundity of a philosophic discourse, I had, instead, the clear sensation of understanding it's significance!
After landing in Rome I took a train to Livorno where my family was waiting to pick me up. On the train I began to think about planning a concise and delicate explanation for my family about how I was going to organize my life, but Krishna and Prabhupada had another plan! The ticket controller, curious about the strange Indian clothes that I was still wearing, started to ask me questions and I spoke to him about Krishna, Prabhupada and existential topics for the whole trip. I was so happy to have glorified the Supreme Lord and His pure devotee, that I realized I was in Livorno only as the train pulled into the station. I hadn't got even a moment to think of what I would say to my family and friends!
At the station, my father and my girlfriend, Marisa were waiting for me. My father drove us back to our home in Perignano di Lari, province of Pisa. My father was driving, I was by Marisa in the back seat. Right away, I started talking to her about Krishna consciousness, about my encounter with Prabhupada and my intention to accept him as my spiritual guide. After listening to me attentively, Marisa told me that everything that I had just explained to her were the values that she had always admired most in life and that she was determined to follow me on the path of Krishna consciousness. My father listened to my whole story without saying one word. In the meantime, we arrived home, where my mother had prepared a sumptuous meal in honor of my return. Unfortunately, as is common in most of Italy, the table was laid with foods not acceptable to a spiritual life. I spoke to my mother alone and explained to her that it was my firm conviction to change my lifestyle and become a devotee of the Lord, Shri Krishna. She had always been profoundly religious and to hear the message of Krishna was like rediscovering something which for some reason had been forgotten. Almost desperate, with her hands in her hair she cried:"What have we been doing all these years? We've wasted time, we've wasted our lives. We have to put ourselves back on the right path and serve the Lord with love and devotion, like Prabhupada says."
My father did not accept all this right away. He was a person with a strong character, solid and concrete and he could not consider changing his life so abruptly. After some days of observation, reflection and exchanges of points of view between us on various practical and philosophical aspects, more precisely after a few weeks, he started on the path indicated by Srila Prabhupada, gradually becoming an excellent devotee, generous, loyal and dynamic. From then on, for the rest of his life, he was dedicated to Prabhupada's mission. Among his various services, the last was the realization of the marvelous polychrome marble temple for the worship of Shri Sri Radha Vrajasundara at Villa Vrindavana near Florence, Italy.
Srila Prabhupada proved to be prophetic once again. By his causeless mercy my family was now a family of devotees, and my home was a temple. In the spring of '77 Marisa and I were accepted as disciples of Prabhupada, married and initiated, with the spiritual names of Manupatni devi dasi and Matsyavatara dasa. The following summer I returned to Vrindavana to thank His Divine Grace for the priceless gift he gave to me and to my family.
Srila Prabhupada Ki-jaya!

Thursday, 19 February 2009

The ecstatic experience of Love as a key to unseal the treasure of Authentic Happiness

An abstract from Thought, Emotions and Realizations,

by Matsyavatara Dasa

Life is exchanging love, we give love because it was given.

The lack of love leads to an unhappy life, dominated by its personality shade. If we do not clarify the misunderstanding of what identity is, love will never be developed: this feeling made of divine knowledge, runs the risk to downgrade as sentimentalism and we get to know life only by means of sensory mechanism.

Throughout time it was stated that two people exist within us. One is the historic self, called “false ego”: suspenseful, arrogant, proud, irritable, egocentric and substantially fearful and vile. The other one is the Self, the spiritual Self often unseen, the atman, whose clear voice of wisdom is seldom heard and even more rarely listened to. The self (word used by Yung), the soul (christian word), the atman, (vedantic word), is the only real existing identity. The ego is but a shadow of the self and it is mistaken for real due to a distorted mental image, known in our language as immedesimation.

Self immedesimation in something different from the real self, is the origin of entanglement, which is the cause of all attachments to a number of unreal objects that are by nature subjected to transformation, degradation and dissolution. The strongest among all attachments, widely spread and considered an absolutely normal symptom is the identification with the body. Although we may come to the conclusion that we are not the physical body, very few people do not identify themselves with it.

It is also true that the human body is a gift from God, a very precious instrument, but it is not our Self. The nervous system is a powerful machine created to make us successful, to take us to our original dimension, the most fascinating biological structure we could ever imagine, but it is not life in itself. When life leaves the body, for instance after an infarct, although the whole nervous system is undamaged from a physiological point of view, you can rely that a person is dead. Therefore the doer that makes this machine work wonderfully is the atman, the object of our research.

Modern civilization achieved great results in countless fields, nevertheless it produced an odd culture inclined to satisfy an obsessive identification with the body, the need to acquire richness in order to satisfy ambitions of power, by claiming to exorcise fear even knowing that, by definition, richness is like the water of the sea, the more you drink it the more thirsty you are. The fake myth of an easy going life, based on the pleasure of the senses is the heaviest calamity, the most painful and dreadful of all. Richness, aging, youth, beauty do not guarantee happiness otherwise the problems of drug, violence, alcohol addiction, tobaccoism would not be so widely spread.

In the absence of enlightenment because of the identification with the mind, pleasure is often seen as the pleasant and fleeting time of the continuous and swinging cycle through pain and pleasure. Pleasure comes from something which is outside of us, whereas joy comes from within us. What gives us joy one day, is the cause of pain the day after, for how long as it may last, sooner or later we will have to separate from it, and its absence will be the cause of pain. If we think on it, we may well find that each pleasure carries with it the seed of pain, the other face of the coin, which will be known with time.

When passion stirs the heart and the mind we feel a lot of pain because of material entanglements. Such energies will not be good for us if they are not organized, harmonized and directed well.

Many disruptive tendencies are considered harmless because the difference between the Self and the false ego is not well acknowledged or discerned, neither clear is the discrimination between what is ephemeral or real (avidya).

We need the Knowledge to direct and transform tendencies, the same as it is done with the water of a rough river when its impetuous, disruptive force is converted into electrical energy to make the mill turn pump.

A wonderful system was given to us to enable our psychological structure to succeed for the realization of our self-consciousness and upgrade our evolutionary process. The ability to reflect on our thinking process and to detach ourselves from emotions is an exclusive prerogative of mankind, which makes us different from animals, whose psychological structure is not more evolved than humans. Human beings own the prerogative to control tendencies, which instead rule among animals and they are called instincts. This is the great difference in the animal kingdom between humans and the so called animals. We can analyse our paradigms to see whether they are either real or depend from our conditionings, or impermanent situations of all kinds. Animals cannot change their tendencies, whereas humans can. Perhaps it may cost a sacrifice but it is worth it. The enterprise to elevate our consciousness, (indeed it is a true and real enterprise), and to expand our own vision of reality is the greatest decision for a human being to claim. You would have never spent your time, your health, your energy any better. Those who consume energy, health, time and money in ephemeral enterprises can only but grow their own poverty and unsatisfaction.

As a matter of fact all that you had wished for, once received would reveal its intrinsic inconsistency and temporary term. Each dream vanishes by facing its reality, except for the Self and God. For this reason the wise men of all religious traditions say that this world is meant to suffer, that the experience of life is an experience of pain. However if this may be true in a general sense, it makes no rule for each person who, by using the power of will is able to transform one’s destiny and experience success by nourishing himself with the feeling of love, the reason of living for all of us.

The ecstatic emotion of love, satisfaction and intense happiness can be experienced too, in the dimension of life we actually live, by gaining freedom from entanglement of all attachments .

The vedic literature describes the identity of jivanmukta, as a combination of two sanscrit words: jivan, which means life and mukta which is the past participle of moksha, freedom, and can be translated as a liberated being. Therefore jivanmukta means “free in life”. According to the Veda this word is used very often and it shows that it is possible to gain freedom even here, although the jiva is temporarily embodied . The ecstatic emotion is the inner nature of the soul, its more related attitude or atman svabhava. When this dimension is simply touched it is called bhava, when we enter into it it is called prema. Even a simple contact with it produces emotions which become unforgettable for the rest of our whole life.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Thoughts and Action

By Matsyavatara Dasa

According to Yoga Tradition, a thought can so strongly stimulate and influence willpower, to enable us to pursue the targets we aim at without efforts, within a short period of time. For this reason it is important to use well such source of energy, available to all of us. If used improperly, it may dangerously increase destructive and self-destructive processes.

Each thought – in a higher or lower degree depending on the desire at its roots - can potentially affect events. Thoughts are more powerful than actions, which are limited by space and time, whilst thoughts can work their powerful influence even at far away distances.

A person can make a significant advancement in evolution through the understanding that desires and thoughts are more important than actions. Acting depends on the quality of thought, but the power of thinking can produce results ever more important, ‘unexplained’ and unpredictable than those produced without it.

Every day is an opportunity to direction our will-power, desires and thoughts, to achieve full knowledge and comprehension, most of all to have realizations and experiences which teach us how to choose and select.

It is a good attitude always to enquire in which direction we want to invest our energies. Let’s listen carefully to the voices whispering from within, let’s see if we can rely on them on the basis of consolidated high values. Cautiousness will help us avoid mistakes which unfortunately, in most cases, force us to spend most of our life trying to adjust the negative consequences of our wrong doings. Working on the “ruins” produced by our own faults is time and energy consuming.

There are mental attitudes and behaviours that obstruct our evolution and produce some weakness in the structures of our personality, leading to perdition and physical collapse; different attitudes and behaviour instead trigger syntropic processes: harmony, evolution, creativity, enthusiasm, vitality.

The main feature of life is enthusiasm (utsavah).

Enthusiasm is another word for will and vitality; it becomes a negative energy (lethargy and depression) when it is induced by effusive euphoria. Its positive energy is made of: joy, enduring confidence and determination and its effects are the sign of an enlightened conscience which is progressing on a path of self-realization.

Fear, bahyam, produces the results opposite to enthusiasm; it can paralyze and obstruct creativity, proving to be a major entropy component. Fears become alive because their energy is very powerful and influential too. In the end we lose all that we fear losing because our own negative attitude makes it all happen; it always all depends on the way we look at ourselves, the others and life.

The ability of the mind to judge reality is limited in relation to the quality and quantity of the experiences made, and by the limits of sensorial perception.

The senses can observe reality only partially and compare it with previous experiences, which are then judged and classified in relation to our mental patterns.

Success or failure depend on the mental patterns we use. The secret of all those who are happy, besides having flexible mental patterns, is never to have expectations, as their fulfillment relies on what the others are able or have to do.

Not having expectations is different from being a loser. On the contrary it means releasing fear, that is the real obstacle!

Acting should be based on the ground that we succeed only if we act well for our own sake and that of others, to our satisfaction and joy.