Saint Petersburg, Russia — Saturday, October 21st

Look and learn

Srila Gurudeva's living quarters here in Saint Petersburg are a little different from the arrangement in India (or anywhere else, for that matter). His spacious room opens into a little kitchen/dining area, which opens into a large darshan hall. The room has a desk, comfortable chairs, and a sofa. As a result, Srila Gurudeva mostly stays in his room, and receives his disciples and guests in there.

I almost never go into any of Srila Gurudeva's rooms — one of the very few exceptions is his room in Navadwip, where I received my sannyas mantra — so I always feel a little awkward when I go over to offer my dandavats to His Divine Grace in the morning. I don't want to just barge into the room, so I usually get somebody like Jaya Kumar Prabhu to announce me.

Srila Gurudeva usually says something like, "Yes, of course, bring him in." On a couple of occasions, as I walk in, I see that Srila Gurudeva is sitting back in his chair, with his left leg raised, resting on a footstool. As I enter the room, he takes his leg off the footstool to sit up straight and clasp his hands in front of him, to receive me.

Who am I? Srila Gurudeva is so incredibly polite, courteous, and respectful to everybody — even a lowly, good-for-nothing disciple like me! I am always amazed (shocked, really) at how kind and considerate he is to me. Unbelievable.

In so many little ways, Srila Gurudeva shows us how to treat everybody courteously and considerately. We can learn so much just by observing his behavior.

If you have ever sat with Srila Gurudeva in his room or on his veranda in Calcutta or Navadwip, you must have noticed that whenever Srila Gurudeva has to go out or even just get up to go to the bathroom, he always informs you, his guest, what he is doing, or excuses himself: "I am going out; I will be back soon," or "I am going to the bathroom."

So you can imagine how Srila Gurudeva must feel when we sometimes forget our manners and walk in and out of his presence without saying what we are doing or where we are going, when we loll about on his furniture and don't stand up when he enters the room, or when we slouch (with our hands in our pockets!) or lean against the walls while he is talking to us...

Srila Gurudeva is courteous and respectful to all. He shows us, by practical example, how to treat others. If, through negligence or bad manners, we don't treat His Divine Grace respectfully, how are we ever going to learn to honor and respect "the least of these our brethren"?

How does that verse go again?

trnad api da dum da dum / taror api something something
amanina something-dena / kirtaniyah, um... hare krishna!

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Layout by iMonk — October 21st, 2006.