Below is a letter written by His Grace Vadanya Nitai Das, a disciple of His Holiness Jayapataka Swami and son of His Grace Mahesh Advaita Das and Her Grace Ananda Sundari Devi Dasi. Their son, Vadanya Nitai passed away on December 3, 2016 in Malaysia. He was 27. His parents recently received this letter that he wrote to his aunt in 2010 when her mother passed away. They felt like he was speaking to them and asking them to be strong.
Vadanya Nitai wrote:
Subject: E-mail to Nava Aunty Date: Friday, August 13, 2010, 4:52 PM
Dear Nava Aunty,
I thought I might return your call today, but I wasn’t sure if you were still in Singapore. I am doing many subjects this semester so there is a lot of work. Otherwise, life is going on as usual. As you said, everyone is busy with their own lives. No one can be relied on except God. And God is not so cheap that He will immediately appear before us when we call Him. We have to surrender whole-heartedly.
I am not preaching to you…I am very unqualified to speak about these things, but you sound quite disillusioned with life ,so out of concern, I would just like to make a few suggestions. I can only request you.
See Aunty, at the end of the day, people are interested only in their own welfare. Working hard, making lots of money and ”enjoying” life. Like this they go on and on working hard and getting all sorts of miseries in life, but under the spell of Maya, they think they are happy and when they don’t get what they want, they become bitter and resentful.
Our scriptures tell us that this human birth is a very rare gift. After millions and millions of births through the various species of life — plants,
Lord Krishna is the all-powerful, all-pervading Supreme Personality of Godhead, and He is the object of the prayers and worship of the demigods. Intelligent persons worship Him as He resides in His own spiritual abode (GolokaVrindavan). They thus attain the eternal transcendental bliss that is not available for others. (Gopala tapani Upanishad 1.21)
antavat tu phalam tesam
tad bhavaty alpa-medhasam
devan deva-yajo yanti
mad bhakta yanti mam api
Men of small intelligence worship the demigods, and their fruits are limited and temporary. Those who worship the demigods go to the planets of the demigods, but My devotees ultimately reach My supreme planet. (Bhagavad-gita As It Is 7.23)
So it says that intelligent persons worship Sri Krishna. Those who worship demigods like Lord Siva and Lord Skanda may achieve the planets of the demigods, but they will eventually have to be born again, because even the demigods are subject to birth and death.
The plants and animals do not have the intelligence (6th sense) to realize that there is a higher purpose to life. As human beings we have to realize that the life we experience here is temporary and this body is just a dress. I’m sure you already know all this, but it can be quite challenging to put it into practice.
If someone were to ask you, “Who are you?”, you might answer, “I am Navarani Chellapah”. But Navarani Chellapah is just a name given to the body you are currently in. You are the soul, jivatma. That jivatma has an eternal spiritual form of knowledge and bliss. Within your body exists another soul, the Supersoul or Paramatma. He observes everything you are doing. There is a Paramatma in every atom within creation. From the smallest ant and plants, to the big banyan tree and the elephant, there exists the Paramatma.
Whatever a devotee experiences he should consider to be an expansion of Krsna. Thus seeing everything that exists within creation as the body of the Supreme Lord Hari, the devotee should offer his sincere respects to the entire expansion of the Lord’s body. (Kavi Rsi – Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.2.41)
So everything we see, the plants, the trees, the animals, other human beings, everything is a part and parcel of God. It sounds very simple, but tell me, how many people truly realize this? Maybe they realize it, but not many people respect it. If they did, people would not be abusing and killing animals for economic gain and to satisfy their tongue, or chopping down hectares of trees in the name of industrial development or polluting our waters and environment. All this we do because we think “I am this body”. I am a Malaysian, I am a doctor, I am an engineer, this is MY house, I am very powerful, etc. But this is Maya. Our material life is temporary. Everything can disappear in a blink of an eye.
First, we have to understand that we are not our bodies. Again, I remind you, you are NOT Navarani Chellapah. You are the spirit soul, jiva atma, and your eternal constitutional position is being a servant of Krsna. Because we wanted to enjoy separately from Krsna, we were born in this world. And from time immemorial, we have been going through this cycle of birth and death in various different species. We have forgotten our relationship with Krsna.
Your mother was a kind lady and she meant everything to you. While she was alive, you did all your duties to her as a daughter and you were always there for her. I cannot imagine how difficult it must be for you now not to have the most important person in your life.
But aunty, as sad as it is, this is what happens in our life here. It is miserable. In the Bhagavad Gita, this world is called “duhkhalayam asasvatam”. A place FULL of miseries. Yet people think they can somehow find happiness. It is all a show, an illusion. Once Lord Indra was cursed to become a pig and he lived many years as a pig, eating stool and living in the filthiest environment. Then Lord Brahma appeared before the pig and told him, you are Indra, come back to the heavens. But he refused. He said, no, I am a pig and I am happy here.
So you see, how Maya tricks us into thinking that we are happy. Then when we undergo some suffering, like when someone we love dies, we blame God, Oh why are you doing this to me? But it is not God’s fault. We are reaping the result of our actions in this birth and many previous births. Why is a seemingly innocent baby born blind? Or with AIDS? Why does a cheater and rascal live in a bungalow and the kindest person live on the street?
Like this we go on, life after life, life after life, enjoying and suffering. How does one put a stop to this vicious cycle? One has to realize his position as the eternal servant of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna and make an effort to remember Krishna at all times, so that he will attain Krishna at the end of his life. You may say you are far away from achieving God and you will wait until your next birth. But Aunty, there is no guarantee that we will have a human birth again!
bahunam janmanam ante
jnanavan mam prapadyante
vasudevah sarvam iti
sa mahatmah su-durlabhah
People are not going to care about us, Aunty. Shanji or Ashok or Subhani will be here today, gone tomorrow. Your mother took care of you when you were young and was there with you for so many years, but now even she is gone! So please see, Krishna is the only one who will be there with us forever. As Srila Prabhupada says:
If we make our friendship with Krishna, it will never break. If we make our master Krishna, we will never be cheated. If we love Krsna as our son He will never die. If we love Krishna as our lover, He is best of all and there will be no separation.
Krishna is the only true friend. He is our Supreme Father. We must reach out to Him. Life is so miserable, sometimes we just wish we could die. You told me that you feel like you are just waiting for death. But what is the point of death, Aunty. If you don’t use this birth to go back to God, you are only going to come back again to this extremely miserable world and suffer ALL OVER AGAIN! Is that what you want?! To re-live the whole thing again?!
The scriptures tell us that the only solution is to turn to God completely. I don’t mean giving up your house and running to the forest or a cave in Badrinath. We are asked to take up BHAKTI YOGA. Devotional service. Please perform devotional service to Krsna. Chant his Holy names. I am not simply speaking out of sentiment. Bhakti-yoga is the easiest way to achieve God in this age of Kali. The use of the process of meditation or pranayama to control the mind, breathing and senses is very difficult in this age, Aunty. As Arjuna admits in Chapter 6, text 35:
“The mind is restless, turbulent, obstinate and very strong, O Krishna, and to subdue it, I think is more difficult than controlling the wind.”
Krishna replies: “O mighty-armed son of Kunti, it is undoubtedly very difficult to curb the restless mind, but it is possible by suitable practice and by detachment.”
So what is this “suitable practice”?
yoginam api sarvesam
sraddhavan bhajate yo mam
sa me yuktatamo matah
And of all yogis, the one with great faith who always abides in Me, thinks of Me within himself, and renders transcendental loving service to Me – he is the most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all. That is my opinion. (Bhagavad-gita As It Is 6.47)
So one who renders transcendental loving service (Bhakti) to Krishna is the highest, in His own words.
There are many other confirmations that Bhakti is the highest path for realizing Krishna.
In Chapter 11, Text 54 of the Bhagavad Gita As It Is, Krishna says to Arjuna:
naham vedair na tapasa
na danena na cejyaya
sakya evam-vidho drastum
drstavan asi mam yatha
The form you are seeing with your transcendental eyes cannot be understood simply by studying the Vedas, nor by undergoing serious penances, nor by charity, nor by worship. It is not by these means that one can see Me as I am.
So, if meditation (dhyana), Vedic knowledge (yoga) and austerity (tapas) are NOT the ways to see Krsna, then what IS the way?
The Lord explains in the following verse:
bhaktya tv ananyaya sakya
aham evam-vidho ‘rjuna
jnatum drastum ca tattvena
pravestum ca parantapa
“My dear Arjuna, only by undivided devotional service can I be understood as I am, standing before you, and can thus be seen directly. Only in this way can you enter into the mysteries of My understanding.”
yah sa mam eti pandava
My dear Arjuna, he who engages in My pure devotional service, free from the contaminations of fruitive activities (working to enjoy the results) and mental speculation, he who works for me, who makes Me the supreme goal of his life, and who is friendly to every living being – he certainly comes to me.
Not only that,
Elsewhere in the Bhagavad-gita As It Is (8.15), Krsna says,
So what are you waiting for, Aunty? NOW is the time to take up this process of devotional service. In this age of Kali, we are all fallen and degraded. It is practically impossible for one who is not self-controlled and whose mind is not undisturbed to practice meditation. In the Brhan-naradiya Purana it is said that in Kali-yuga people are generally slow in spiritual realization and always disturbed by various anxieties, so the BEST means of spiritual realization is chanting of the holy name of the Lord.
harer nama harer nama
harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva
nasty eva gatir anyatha
“IN THIS AGE OF QUARREL AND HYPOCRISY THE ONLY MEANS OF DELIVERANCE IS CHANTING THE HOLY NAME OF LORD HARI. THERE IS NO OTHER WAY. THERE IS NO OTHER WAY. THERE IS NO OTHER WAY.”
In “The Science of Self-Realization”, Srila Prabhupada tells us that in the Narada-pancaratra, it is stated that all the Vedic rituals, mantras, and understanding are compressed into the eight words (Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare). He goes on to say that similarly, in the Kali-santarana Upanisad it is stated that these sixteen words…
Hare Krsna Hare Krsna
Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare
…are especially meant for counteracting the degrading and contaminating influence of this materialistic age of Kali. “The process of chanting is not only the sublime method for practical perfection of life but the authorized Vedic principle inaugurated by the greatest Vedic scholar and devotee, Lord Caitanya (whom we consider an incarnation of Krishna).” (Srila Prabhupada, Science of Self-Realization, p.99)
The only other thing I can request of you is to give up eating fish and other non-vegetarian food. As I said before, within every living being is a soul. You and I would have been fishes at one time. But today we have taken the dress of a human being. More importantly, I remind you again that Krishna, as the localized Paramatma (Supersoul within the heart of every living entity) is also sitting in that fish. We must respect Krishna.
Also think, the poor fish suffers so much when it is taken out of the water. Imagine how you would feel if someone tied a plastic bag around your head. Your oxygen supply cut off. Think how much you would suffer.
Even eating vegetables is sinful. But the sin is less. Still, it is sin. So there is nothing fantastic about being a vegetarian either, you know? In the Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Chapter 3, Text 13, it says:
bhunjante te tv agham papam
ye pacanty atma-karanat
The devotees of the Lord are released from all kinds of sins because they eat food which is offered first for sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, eat only sin.
So please, if not for the poor little fish, at least for your own good please avoid meat-eating and start offering your vegetarian food to God. After offering it to God, the ordinary food becomes PRASADAM. Then you can eat as much as you like of the prasadam.
To summarize what I’ve been trying to say to you in this long letter, I will use three more verses from the Bhagavad-gita As It Is.
yam yam vapi smaran bhavam
tyajaty ante kalevaram
tam tam evaiti kaunteya
sada tad bhava bhavitah
“Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, O son of Kunti, that state he will attain without fail.”
tasmat sarvesu kalesu
mam anusmara yudhya ca
mayy arpita mano buddhir
mam evaiyasy asamsayah
“Therefore, Arjuna, you should always think of Me in the form of Krishna and at the same time carry out your prescribed duty of fighting. With your activities dedicated to me and your mind and intelligence fixed on Me, you will attain Me without doubt.”
yoginam api sarvesam
sraddhavan bhajate yo mam
sa me yuktatamo matah
“Of all yogis, the one with great faith who always abides in Me, thinks of Me within himself, and renders transcendental loving service to Me is the most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all. That is My opinion.”
Aunty, I beg you to please read the Bhagavad-gita As It Is daily to increase your knowledge in realizing Krishna. All the instructions are there and explained so clearly– as it is. You just have to pick up the book and read.
pranayama parasya ca
naiva santi hi papani
purva janma krtani ca
“If one reads Bhagavad-gita As It Is very sincerely and with all seriousness, then by the grace of the Lord, the reactions of his past misdeeds will not act upon him.” (Gita mahatmya)
The Lord says very clearly in the last portion of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is (18.66):
sarva dharman parityajya
mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva papebhyo
moksayisyami ma sucah
“ABANDON ALL VARIETIES OF RELIGION AND JUST SURRENDER UNTO ME. I SHALL DELIVER YOU FROM ALL SINFUL REACTIONS. DO NOT FEAR.”
Nava Akunty, I hope you take very seriously what I have explained in this letter to you. I have wanted to tell you all this for a very long time, but avoided it because I didn’t think you were interested. But it is saddening to hear you so upset and depressed. You have done many kind things for me, so the least I can do for you is to share what little I know. This is the greatest knowledge of all.
raja vidya raja guhyam
pavitram idam uttamam
su-sukham kartum avyayam
“This knowledge is the king of education, the most secret of all secrets, it is the purest knowledge, and because it gives direct perception of the self by realization ,it is the perfection of religion. It is everlasting, and it is joyfully performed.” (Bhagavad Gita, 9.2)
It is not mere sentiment or fanaticism. This is a science. All the great acaryas were living examples of these teachings and it has worked for them. Srila Prabhupada explains: The process for regaining one’s original spiritual status of eternal life, full with bliss and knowledge, is not abstract, dry theorizing. Spiritual life is not described in the Vedas as theoretical, dry or impersonal. The Vedas aim at the inculcation of pure love of God only, and this harmonious conclusion is practically realized by chanting the Hare Krishna mantra.
Please take up this great gift and use it to your advantage! Krishna is waiting for you to turn to Him.
I beg your forgiveness if I have somehow offended your feelings with anything I have said in this e-mail.
May God protect you and guide you towards His path of transcendental devotional service, Bhakti.
Please chant the Maha-mantra:
Hare Krsna Hare Krsna
Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare