I had spent a number of hours wandering around the Delhi ISKON temple. Sitting chanting in the main temple with a small crowd and watching the people making pujas to the three shrines. I looked at the white marble, the gold, the bling, the large offering boxes full of rupee notes.
Without a guide, religious ceremonies can be a little overwhelming and as an Englishman (sort of), etiquette is of high importance. The eternal question, ‘what do I do?’. I muddled through some pujas and clapping and then looked at a map of all the Hare Krishna shrines across the world. Impressive and comprehensive, they have it pretty much covered.
There were impressive blue fountains, with Krishna bursting from the jets and a very tasty looking restaurant (I have enjoyed the Soho branch of the Hare Krishna restaurant on occasion). I have always thought there must be something to the Hare Krishnas, they seem so happy, so radiant. Whats the secret?
This temple was opened by the prime minister and Hare Krishna is huge across India. The are a powerful force and growing. ISKON is a large company, that from what I can tell, make bags of concrete and building materials. My Indian friends had warned me that Hare Krishna was simply a cover for the C.I.A. I need some clarity.
As I was wandering towards the gate I noticed a older gentleman, dressed in full Hare Krishna attire, approaching me. His name was Prithudas and he was a German, ex-hippy, who drove a bus back and forth to India and then settled. He rarely stopped moving and never stopped learning. He offered me some great advice about my trip and was incredibly caring and peaceful. He had light in his eyes. He gave me some top tips of small places to experience a purer India, less tainted by travellers (i.e. me!?). We started to talk about spirituality and he invited me up to his room in the Hare Krishna Hostel, he had meetings to attend.
Prithudas was a big deal, in most respects, a top Hare Krishna director for years. He turned to Krishna after studying Comparative Religion and asking many questions of himself and the cosmos. We settled down with a cup of warm water and had talked of many things. I am a lucky man, my first Guru chat, day three.
I have an open mind all the time, especially with religion. New ideas and thinking fascinate me, thats why I’m here. To be fascinated by it all. Whether I believe or not is unimportant, I am here to experience, not judge. Learn and grow.
He knew George Harrison and showed me pictures on his phone. George was a Hare Krishna, and was challenged his whole life by conflict between the material world (music business) and his spiritual life. Prithudas had been a close friend and there was emotion in his voice when he told me of Georges last days. Ravi Shankar, Paul McCartney and several Gurus were present when George passed. A good bloke. The Beatles were a major influence in my formative years, and still, they are a major reason why I am here. To meet a pal of Georges means alot.
Prithudas started by asking many questions like ‘How many times must you shake a watch until it reforms into a watch?’ and ‘How may monkeys would it take to jump repeatedly on a typewriter to create Hamlet?’. I’m always baffled by this type of question, is there an answer? Could scientists just experiment a little and work it out? Soon after, Prithudas would answer and inspire me.
Generally, these were Prithudas’s words:
‘Man proposes, God disposes’. Krishna is controlling everything. Krishna is white light, surrounding the universe. He has many other gods below him (Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma) who oversee the function of the universe and its balance, there are then many (millions) of demi-gods (Hanuman, Ganesh, Lakshmi) who control different aspects of the universe and life. This is why people pray to different gods at different times, it can depend on what you want or what your problems are. Recently a Bollywood actors was made into a god, jesus and buddha are there too. Hinduism encompasses all. Krishna is the boss and controls every second, like a director.
We are living in a virtual reality, we are outside the material world, connected to it only by our conciousness. Our soul and body are connected by this conciousness. Krishna can give us freedom from all. A spiritual life demands many years reflection, this is a choice that must be felt deeply and understanding is important. No rush. Always asking questions, don’t blindly follow. Then come alone, leave everything behind.
‘The world is a bridge don’t build a house on it’. Keep evolving, moving forward.
Bad things happen to good people. How can god let this happen? How does Keith Richards keep going, when many younger, purer types have passed away? An eternal question for all religions. Why does god not always protect the good and devout? Why is there suffering?
‘Everybody drinks there own soup’. You get what you give.
The vedic knowledge states that life is for meant for self-realisation, but many people (especially in the west) find it hard to even be themselves, never mind realise the rest. We all identify with matter (what is the matter?), but our ultimate self is our spirit, our soul.
‘Where there is sunshine there is no darkness, turn to god.’ Gods can be like a good cop, bad cop scenario. You have been warned.
Sanskrit is a beautiful language. To speak the name of the word ‘fire’ is to feel how fire is created. This goes for the whole language, a deeper meaning.
‘India is a beautiful country, beautiful people. Thats why Krishna chose to be here. I have seen Sadhus (holymen) aged 7 wandering in the Himalayas. Be careful and when you get into trouble, call me.’
This is a rather poor attempt to capture a conversation that lasted over an hour, after which I felt truly inspired and bright. At no time did Prithudas attempt to ‘convert’ me to his way of thinking, it was an equal exchange. All was meant with great care and kindness, he was helping me along the way, opening new doorways to explore. He was a busy man with meetings lined up, but sat with me, never rushed and answered all of my questions with sincerity and passion.
As I left he blessed me with two different types of Ganga water, one from Gangotri (source of the Ganga) and another from a point where all four tributaries of the Ganga meet. Prithudas perched on his bed beside his huge suitcase, at peace with the world and himself, simply sharing with me the knowledge gained from a full life of asking the right kind questions.
See http://www.omjesus.net if you fancy more Prithudas.