Departing Thoughts and Realisations
I have never had a relationship with the deity form of God. To me, a deity has always been a piece of marble, nicely embellished but with no actual bearing of God. So naturally, I was skeptical of praying to Sri Sri Radha Gokulananda, the deities at the Manor. But I gave praying a shot anyway, and it turns out that the power of my prayers helped me create a stronger connection with Krishna than I’d ever experienced.
On the first day at the Manor, I was extremely distraught. My semester had been really tough and I was tired of all the drama in my life. I was really craving a spiritual getaway, and I asked the deities, Radha Gokulananda, to assuage the pain in my heart. It was not the best of prayers; it was insincere, a bit half-hearted and even unsure. I was not sure how Krishna could heal my mind from all the turmoil I had experienced and so I prayed as a test to see if God would respond.
Fortunately, Radha Gokulananda did respond. I saw myself getting happier and healthier every day, serving with others and feeling alive once again. And I felt my prayers get more sincere as well. They went from, “God, please fix all these problems in my life,” to more selfless requests like, “God, please show me how I can serve You.” And the transformation of my prayers from selfish to selfless also created a change in my mind that made me happier.
The core root of my unhappiness was thinking I was the center. In the small little world I lived in, everything was about me and everything was going wrong. But doing service helped me expand my horizons to the world of God. God is infinite and perfect, and when I saw the world through the lens of serving Him, every problem in my life seemed insignificant. And when I tried to love Him, the love I was craving so much was naturally given to me.
The magical transformation of my mental state was further facilitated when I realized how wonderful God is. Every day, I would see beautiful Radha Gokulananda and I would feel more and more connected to Their Lordships. What started as, “Oh He’s just a beautiful statue” turned into “Oh He’s such a beautiful Being.” And In this way, my act of seeing the deities became an act of trying to form a relationship with a person.
In the moments of connection with Gokulananda, I realized something extremely important. Bhakti is about relationships; it’s about connecting to God through the services that inspire you and giving up being the center to put God in the center. I had craved love for much of my life, but only when I tried to love God, or Gokulananda, did I realize that true love is selflessness. And although my spiritual sabbatical at the Manor was ending soon, I was excited to apply selflessness to my other relationships as well.
The ultimate test of my selflessness came on the last day at the Manor. I was looking at the deities for one last time, praying sincerely to serve God and the society in a more selfless way. And as I was praying, I was not only given this beautiful opportunity to write these posts about my experiences at the Manor, but my responsibilities in the community service clubs at university also increased. In that moment, I realized something beautiful that summed up my entire experience. It was as follows. “God is everywhere, He is in the heart of every being and He is in the marble of the deity. It is our choice if we want to open our eyes to see Him. And bhakti, or selfless love is the awakening process to see Him.”
So dear friends, engage in service, and let bhakti open your heart to experience the love of the Divine. If your efforts are sincere, and your resolve is determined, you will find bhakti to be a light summer breeze that brings wafts of happiness into your life.
– Omika Mali, studying Public Health and Psychology at Rutgers University, USA