Recently as members of the Grihastha Vision Team we toured 8 countries and over 21 cities in 85 days covering 35,000 kilometers. This included one 24-hour train ride across Siberia. During that surreal ride, Uttama said she felt like she was in a James Bond movie, on a mission for Srila Prabhupada.
24 hour train in Siberia
Srila Prabhupada introduced the Lord of the universe, Sri Krishna to the world. We have been blessed with opportunities to travel extensively in the last 15 years, associating with devotees of different nationalities, languages, and backgrounds seeing directly how Srila Prabhupada brought all these diversities together in harmony in the service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
This was echoed the evening of our recent Saranagati Rathayatra. One individual, still in absolute awe, told me how he had stood transfixed observing the festival; children, teens, boomers, senior devotees, junior devotees, people of different colors, from different nationalities all participating together and enjoying the festival in a mood of loving service to Lord Jagannatha without any consideration of designations.
The nature of pure devotional service is to be devoid of designations. “…When the spirit soul renders service unto the Supreme, there are two side effects. One is freed from all material designationssimply by being employed in the service of the Lord, one’s senses are purified.” CC Madya 19. 170
The process of Krsna consciousness is intended to elevate us to a state where every day is a festival in which we respect, honor and love all those around us, in relation to the Supreme Lord. This concept is easily understood intellectually, yet often a challenge to integrate into daily life. For married couples living in proximity, faced with responsibilities and stresses, life may seem far removed from such festivals and the presence of Krishna may sometimes seem distant. Festival days are blessings, giving a taste and glimpse of higher levels of spiritual consciousness. How do we carry those experiences and realization with us, post festival?
As Srila Prabhupada said:
“Life should be so molded that one will always have the chance to think of Krsna.” BG 18.65 purport
Our team has developed educational materials based on Srila Prabhupada’s teachings and reinforced with exercises to assist in bridging that gap between knowledge, jnana and practical application, vijnana. We have been invited to many countries over the last 15 years by ISKCON leaders concerned about the families in their communities. Our experience is the challenges of married couples are the same everywhere; poor communication, unrealistic expectations, lack of understanding gender differences, lack of honoring personality differences, lack of realizing the impact of their own conditionings and a lack of living their important values.
Workshop in Hungary
The key to integrating our philosophy is to realize we have a choice whether to act according to our impulses and egos or balance our responses based on sound values. Being consciously present and participating in festivals we experience heightened levels of spiritual consciousness. In the same way, if we consciously endeavour to apply healthy values in our daily actions, we experience gradual spiritual progress.
Just as every day may not be as ecstatic as Janmastami and Rathayatra, there is no such thing as a fairy tale or perfect marriage. There are successful marriages where couples consciously work at living their values, respecting each other with kindness, compassion, friendship and love, seeing their marriage as a service to Sri Krishna. All of us, whether married or not, can happily work at living in the harmony of applied Krishna consciousness, eagerly awaiting the next big Vaishnava festival.