Coaching Us in Krishna Consciousness
The Swami had authority. It was not like the authority of an organization, the Catholic church or some rich Hindu mission. He was something better, a saintly person in the timeless tradition of Vaisnava parampara. His authority went back millions of years and was represented in the Vedic scriptures. Through him we could feel the timeless and authoritative instructions of the sastras.
On his authority, we chanted in the temple in such a free way. He saw us shake our heads, close our eyes and grimace, as we threw off demons and had fun. Swamiji was permissive, but not irresponsible. He heard about LSD and said, “No more of that. But when you chant Hare Krishna, then you will feel bliss and dance in ecstasy.
The Swami was like our spiritual coach, and we were his team. The coach accepts his boys as they are, but he trains them. They come to him as juvenile delinquents, but they work out on the basketball court and they become something better. Similarly, Swamiji let us work out our unruly feelings without inhibition as he brought us together in the mahamantra.
After the game is over, the boys are shiny with sweat, drinking Cokes in the locker room, joking adolescents. The coach allows it, but he is in control. We too were sweating and excited after the kirtana performance. We were wild, and Prabhupada allowed it. He let Gargamuni say, “Swamiji, I was in so much ecstasy I thought I would cry!” He watched as Umapati cracked a joke to Hayagriva, but then spoke things that quieted us. We listened to him and relaxed.
We never expected Swamiji to act like a hippie-guru. He never spoke our jargon, and yet he was hip in his own way. He was totally present with us, and we gave ourselves to him.
The coach-and-team analogy gets left far behind when we study the heart of our relationship with Prabhupada. He was taking us to the eternal spiritual world, telling us the pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Swamiji revealed the Vedas to us, and told us how to center our lives around them. All we had to do was listen submissively. He was cleaning our hearts in a way that was not perceivable to us, and yet he was perceivable, healthy and strong, our vibrant spiritual master.
Jan 09, 2023
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SABHA, The Spiritual Advisors Bhagavata Assembly
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Anuttama Dasa, GBC and Minister of Communications