Mangala arati
by "an ordinary person"
Posted December 19, 2002

As temple devotees, we basically do the same thing day in, day out. Rise early, bathe, attend the morning program, and then go on to our daily service. We even eat basically the same foods every day; Rice, dal, subji. Rice, dal, subji. Rice, dal, subji.

Having lived in the temple many years myself, I speak from my own experience. This routine can be heaven or it can be hell. At times I've experienced happiness unlike anything available in the material world. At other times I've wanted to run screaming from the temple room pulling my hair out. All the while, nothing's changed. It's the same old routine.

I remember one morning program in New Vrindavan. It was a special morning, unlike any other, yet quite like any other. The guruvastakam prayers were being led by Jayadwaita Swami. His voice was pleasant, yet at the same time, nothing extraordinary. There wasn't anything special about the way the mrdanga or kartalas were being played. Same old ching-ching-ching. Ching-ching-ching. Why do I remember it to this day and wish that all mangala aratis could be that good?

It's not because he is a swami, a highly respected person. It's not because I was having any divine realization or communion with Radha-Vrindavan-chandra. It's not because it was a special festival day with throngs of devotees and guests. It was just an ordinary day.

I remember that mangala arati to this day for one reason. Simply put, Jayadwaita Swami was singing the prayers with full concentration and devotion to his spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada. The energy of his devotion was as tangible and perceptible as the fragrance of the incense that had been offered to the lotus feet of Radha-Vrindavan-chandra.

Usualy my mind is all over the place. My distracted mind is the primary cause of my feelings of boredom and dissatisfaction with the daily routine. That day, something remarkable happened. I somehow understood the ecstasy and devotion Jayadwaita was experiencing simply by devoting his whole being to the prayers for his spiritual master. My mind became peaceful, I also began to listen to what the prayers were saying. Even if just for a few minutes, I was able to experience that devotion and ecstasy also.

If you have experienced the same thing, then you will be able to understand what I am saying. If not -- How can you describe honey to one who has never tasted it and make them understand? Yet, for devotees living in the temple, I would imagine they've felt it too, whether it's the relatively new brahmacari singing the prayers, or their own spiritual master. Something special happens when a devotee puts their whole heart and mind into glorification of Guru and Krsna. The effect is contagious.

This experience has shown me how a devotee can continue with their sadhana, year after year, experiencing ever-new satisfaction and realization from the same old routine; by preforming their service with their whole heart, and mind fully present and dedicated to the satisfaction of Guru and Krsna. I believe anyone who encounters a devotee thus engaged will be positively benefited. Written by some ordinary person who prefers to remain anonymous.