Padayatra America 2004, #6

From Avadhuta Siromani Dasa
Posted Dec. 7, 2004 on www.dipika.org

July/August

We are resting Kana and Balaji after a season of heavy work on the hoof.

Mr. Muller had offered to let us stay on his land, close to the border, some 30 kilometers from Matamoros. He had told us it was a remote place, that the land hadn’t been used in quite some years, but we certainly weren’t expecting anything so primitive.

We found ourselves in the middle of several okra plantations and cornfields in the Rio Grande Valley. Half a mile to the north was a canal for water, and half a mile east was a small poblado with a few amenities for drinking water and cooking.

There was a small pasture on the other field—no trees, just grass and cactus—and more flies and gnats than we had experienced in any other part of our journey. The temperature was consistently over 100 degrees (37.8 C) with very little shade, and we saw that the canal was slowly drying up.

One day, when the bucket came up with only mud, Ms. Diane and her sisters came to greet us. They lived just around the corner. After an introduction, they offered to help us by bringing water. Then they started coming a few times a week (the whole family of maybe 12) with clean water under a shadow in large, 100-gallon buckets.

Gradually the locals heard about us by word of mouth, and one by one they came to see us. We were in an obscure place. There was not much activity around us except for the okra workers and the people braving the river to get into the United States illegally. Still, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mercy is going out. The locals are generally good people, but

adharmam dharmam iti ya
manyate tamasavrta
sarvarthan viparitams ca
buddhih sa partha tamasi

“That understanding which considers irreligion to be religion and religion to be irreligion, under the spell of illusion and darkness, and strives always in the wrong direction, O Partha, is in the mode of ignorance.”— Bhagavad-gita 18.32

A few weeks earlier, two men had come at 11:00 p.m., both intoxicated, and asked anxiously about their future. They said they had seen us before and had had a dream that everything would be revealed to me, which in reality is true, but he spoke of black magic and the personification of death.

I tried to explain that we were religious practitioners, not interested in other practices, at which point they became angry and offensive. Finally Lord Nrsimhadeva (whom I had been worshiping just before they came) inspired me to take down their license-plate number, and as soon as they saw me doing this they left.

This sort of superstition seems predominant in these areas, and we had become something like the local ghostbusters. People came to us knowing we could help them, but unfortunately by their karma and their lifestyles they were too covered by the modes of nature, and the concept became twisted.

They saw us as people powerful in goodness and thought that in the name of God could alleviate their material situations. Well this is true in one sense. A Vaisnava has the power to dissipate lower, black energies. Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita (7.16):

catur-vidha bhajante mam
janah sukrtino ‘rjuna
arto jijnasur artharthi
jnani ca bharatarsabha

“Four kinds of pious men begin to render devotional service unto Me—the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute.”

They were coming almost every day, a whole family piled up eight or ten in a car, to the forest in the middle of the okra fields, a place very fearful for them especially at night. For us, though, the place was just perfect as the place of rest Krsna had provided. Basically I would explain the potency of keeping God in the center of life to eradicate all disturbing elements.

nasta prayesv abhadresu
nityam bhagavata sevaya
bhagavata uttama sloke
bhaktair bhavati naistaiki

“By regularly hearing about and serving the Lord, one destroys all inauspicious things.”— Srimad Bhagavatam 1.2.18

I would give out a card with the maha-mantra on it and tell them to chant when there was difficulty, in fact as much as possible, and to understand the prayer as a glorification of God, not just a means of asking for what we want. “God knows what we need. It’s not important what we think we want.”

Many of the people had sacred altars, and we would tell them to keep them and refer to them. Finally we began to see people take an interest in the chanting with desire and faith.

Such an unusual place for a temple! But in one way or the other people were getting in contact with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

One night, as always, before putting the Deities to sleep, I offered Lord Nrsimhadeva some prayers and the Ugra Nrsimha mantra: yato yato yami tato nrsimha.

Candrabhaga was in the back getting ready to go to sleep, and suddenly she got into it:

tava kara-kamala-vare nakham adbhuta-srngam
dalita-hiranyakasipu-tanu-bhrngam
kesava dhrta-narahari-rupa jaya jagadisa hare

Shortly thereafter she asked from the back, “Prabhu, are there scorpions in this area?”

“Yes, there are.”

Fifteen seconds later I heard a scream from the back “Oh my God! Krsna! There’s one here, and he stung me!”

“Kill it,” I said.

She did, and in shock came to the front before the Deities to chant.

Candrabhaga writes:

Living in the forest means flies, gnats, ticks, mosquitoes, rats, snakes, all kinds of living entities we were learning to live with. Somehow or other a scorpion got into my clothes and was climbing up my back. Thinking it to be a mosquito, I swatted at it, to which it stung me.

Again it stung me as it came out, and I tried to swat it off. This time I could see the outline to my horror in the dim light of the back wagon. He landed on the place I sleep, put his tail in the air, and started walking towards me. After sending him to the abode of Yamaraja, I came in front of the Deity to await my own fate. I didn’t have any experience with these things, so I simply sat and chanted.

Avadhuta Siromani continues:

Not wanting to scare her, I didn’t say much, and I turned to the Lord. At that moment Lord Nrsimha looked cool, and he revealed the truth to me. With faith in Him I asked, “Did it sting you when you were spontaneously glorifying Lord Nrsimhadeva?”

She looked astonished. “Yes,” she said.

That was my confirmation. The Lord is in everyone’s heart, and He knows that scorpions are envious. Therefore to protect her, He inspired her to chant to Him just at that moment. The power of Lord Nrsimhadeva’s love for Prahlada was manifested by the destruction of Prahlada’s envious father Hiranyakasipu, and the names of the Lord can counteract any poisonous effects.

“Everything will be all right,” I said, and she felt better. After some time she went to sleep.

How the sting of a scorpion didn’t send her to the hospital is hard to understand.

I finished chanting the Nrsimhadeva prayers and put the Deities to sleep one more night.

“O my Lord, Your hands are very beautiful, like the lotus flower, but with Your long nails You have ripped apart the wasp Hiranyakasipu. Unto You, Lord of the universe, do I offer my humble obeisances.”

“O Lord Nrsimha, O Mukunda, Madhusudhana, Murari, You are the shelter of the surrendered souls. O Lord of the demigods, cause of all causes, please do not neglect me. Kindly fulfill my desire to pass my whole life chanting Your holy names.”

Ugra Nrsimha ki jaya!


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