Radhanath Swami is a Gaudiya Vaishnava Hindu teacher serving on the governing body of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, commonly known as the Hare Krishna Movement. He is the disciple of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
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The Journey Home: Autobiography of an American Swami (Tulsi Books, 2010)
- The dirty wax of egotism accumulated in the heart prevents us from clearly hearing the Lord’s voice within. A guru, with the stick of knowledge, cleans our hearts. Its really ugly to see what may come out, but by following patiently, we keep cleaning.
- Sometimes the Lord gives us a free sample of religious experience, but for more, we must pay a price with the currency of sincere dedication to the process of cleansing.
- Just as in climbing a mountain we leave behind the earth where we stand, to reach the heart of God we have to leave behind unfavorable earthly attachments. Sincere spiritual practice is an uphill climb, and no matter how many difficulties we face, we have to continue looking upward with hope. The mountain provides all support for those who strive to reach its top. Similarly, if we are sincere, the Lord will provide us with the means to reach his supremely merciful heart.
- To grow may require that we be shaken right to our core. While kneeling on that roadside in Herat, something died within me, giving birth to a realization necessary for me to move forward on my path. With each step, a camel lifts its hoof from a stable place on earth in order to move forward. And to reach the sea, each ripple of the river must let go of its present state to surrender to the current.
- As I look back, I am forever grateful for the journey I traveled and to all the people who have helped me to grow on the way. Never could I have imagined where the invisible hand of destiny was leading me. Through it all, I have come to realize that only if we cling to our sacred ideals, not being diverted by either successes or failures, we may find that amazing powers, beyond our own, are there to test us, protect us, and empower us.I pray that this simple story of mine may inspire all my readers with hope. Our true home awaits us at the end of life’s perilous journey. It is a place of lasting peace, beckoning us to persevere until we, too, reunite with our lost love.
- The unsuspecting fish, who knew nothing but a life in the river, went about its routine like any other day, but in an instant was ripped out of its reality to meet with death. Like that fish, we routinely live our lives hardly aware that, at the least expected moment , the yellow-eyed hawk of fate in the form of crises, tragedy or even death, may wrench us out of our comfortable environment. We regularly hear of it in the news or see it around us but rarely take seriously that it could happen to us. Perhaps the lesson here is to guard against complacency and give a higher priority to our spiritual needs. If the fish swam deeper, the hawk would not be able to reach it. Similarly, if we go deeper into our connection to God, we will find an inner reality so deep and satisfying that it lifts the consciousness to a place where we could deal with the effects of unforeseeable fate with a stable, detached mind.
- A person influenced by circumstances can become viciously envious or affectionately kind. Our company and our surroundings have a crucial effect on our consciousness. How important it is to be an instrument to bring out the inherent good of each other rather than the worst.
- The nature of the mind is to interpret non-essentials essential. The mind creates artificial needs, believing it cannot live without them. In this way we carry a great burden of attachments throughout our life. Attachment is itself a great burden on our minds. We may never understand the extent of the burden till we’re free of it. But if we find joy within, we can live a simple life, free of endless complications.
- We have the tendency to judge others by their surface appearance, and to find only their negative qualities. But if we search beneath the surface we discover that a myriad of strains mix together to create a particular person’s nature. The faults we perceive are likely to be the effect of circumstances, the psychological response to trauma, abuse, rejection, heartbreak, insecurity, pain, confusion, or disease.
- We are all like fish that have separated from the sea of divine consciousness. For a person to be happy outside his or her natural relationship with God is like a fish trying to enjoy life outside of the water, on the dry sand. Holy people go to great extremes to help even one person to return his or her natural spiritual consciousness, to the sea of true joy. But the net of maya, or illusion, snatches away the minds of the masses, diverting us from the true self-interest.
- Lying down to sleep on the earthen riverbank, I thought, Vrindavan is attracting my heart like no other place. What is happening to me? Please reveal Your divine will. With this prayer, I drifted off to sleep.
Before dawn, I awoke to the ringing of temple bells, signaling that it was time to begin my journey to Hardwar. But my body lay there like a corpse. Gasping in pain, I couldn’t move. A blazing fever consumed me from within, and under the spell of unbearable nausea, my stomach churned. Like a hostage, I lay on that riverbank. As the sun rose, celebrating a new day, I felt my life force sinking. Death that morning would have been a welcome relief. Hours passed.
At noon, I still lay there. This fever will surely kill me, I thought.
Just when I felt it couldn’t get any worse, I saw in the overcast sky something that chilled my heart. Vultures circled above, their keen sights focused on me. It seemed the fever was cooking me for their lunch, and they were just waiting until I was well done. They hovered lower and lower. One swooped to the ground, a huge black and white bird with a long, curving neck and sloping beak. It stared, sizing up my condition, then jabbed its pointed beak into my ribcage. My body recoiled, my mind screamed, and my eyes stared back at my assailant, seeking pity. The vulture flapped its gigantic wings and rejoined its fellow predators circling above. On the damp soil, I gazed up at the birds as they soared in impatient circles. Suddenly, my vision blurred and I momentarily blacked out. When I came to, I felt I was burning alive from inside out. Perspiring, trembling, and gagging, I gave up all hope.
Suddenly, I heard footsteps approaching. A local farmer herding his cows noticed me and took pity. Pressing the back of his hand to my forehead, he looked skyward toward the vultures and, understanding my predicament, lifted me onto a bullock cart. As we jostled along the muddy paths, the vultures followed overhead.
The farmer entrusted me to a charitable hospital where the attendants placed me in the free ward. Eight beds lined each side of the room. The impoverished and sadhu patients alike occupied all sixteen beds. For hours, I lay unattended in a bed near the entrance. Finally that evening the doctor came and, after performing a series of tests, concluded that I was suffering from severe typhoid fever and dehydration. In a matter-of-fact tone, he said, “You will likely die, but we will try to save your life.”
- Republished on The Journey Home website.
- RadhanathSwami.com is Radhanath Swami's official website.
- Tulsi Books is the publisher of Radhanath Swami's books.
- The Journey Home is Radhanath Swami's autobiography.
- RadhanathMaharaj.net hosts transcripts of Radhanath Swami's lectures.
- RNS on Life, Insights, Nature, Events is Radhanath Swami's Q&A site.
- ISKCON Desire Tree: Audio hosts Radhanath Swami's lectures.