Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Swami Veda Leaves for the Summer

Swamiji left this morning. His departure coincided with the usual meditation time. There was no organized rousting of the ashram members to come and see him off. The contrast between the celebratory greetings of Srila Prabhupada we used to experience was stark.

The first time I saw Srila Prabhupada was in 1972 at the Detroit airport, and it was at that moment that I became directly aware of transcendence in the world of matter. The effulgent brilliance of the Detroit airport in the midst of the tear-soaked kirtan when Prabhupada appeared in our midst--and every time after that--is deeply imprinted on my memory. Iskcon knew the importance of greeting and saying goodbye to the Guru.

My relationship with Swamiji is not the same as that, of course. It has morphed into something rather sweet and affectionate, and he even said to me as he left, while holding my hand, that as I would be the only staff member here for much of the summer, would I please take care of his Gurukula students.

For beginners I found myself quite angry that so many of my own students were absent, even though most were in the meditation hall. I was fulminating, "Don't they know that their meditation depends on Guru kripa? That the blessings they get from the guru on a special occasion like this one is worth thousands of hours of meditation?"

That is the samskara you get from a bhakti tradition. The people who were present were mostly Westerners, who have a spontaneous feeling of affection for Swamiji. One Korean woman, a longtime disciple, was crying in a way that reminded me of the feelings that manifest at such times when Prabhupada would come or leave. No doubt everyone there was motivated by love for him. But what is intolerable, really, is that so many do not recognize the maryada of such moments. At the very least, you do it because it is common courtesy!

Anyway, you can bet I will give these fellows a piece of my mind during Sanskrit class today. I think I will make them write 50 times--

आयान्तमग्रतो गच्छेद् गच्छन्तं तमनुव्रजेत् ।
शिष्यस्तदनुकम्पेच्छुः प्रीत्या मर्यादया तु वा ॥

Whether one does it out love or out of good manners, the disciple who desires the guru's merciful glance should greet him when he arrives and say goodbye to him when he leaves.

That's a loose translation of an embellished verse (see HBV 1.97).

1 comment:

  1. namste jagat ji .

    my gurudeva swami gitananda maharaj is the present vice president of RKM . he is a typical bhakti yogi devoted to krishna , instead of the more gyana yogi variants at the mission .

    im blessed to have a guru like him . since im also a bhakti yogi . or so i believe :)

    a few days back he fell ill and had to be hospitalized . he's already in advanced age and i was worried and realized the value of guru sanga every moment .

    shastra has instructions on how often one should visit ones guru depending on the distances of their places of stay .

    me and my guru reside in the same city . so perhaps i should have visited him more often than i usually do . all these thoughts were going on in my mind and making me sadder .

    thankfully he recovered from it and went back to his ashram .

    guru kripa hi kevalam .............jai