Food for Life's Change Of Heart
Posted November 22, 2005
Food for Life, Vrindavan, has printed 100,000 copies of this picturesquely illustrated booklet in Hindi, for free distribution to visiting pilgrims and residents of Vrindavan. It is a novel take on the desperate need for urgent action to save Vrindavan and Brajbhumi. An English edition will be printed shortly. Here are some excerpts:
“Once, high in the Himalayas, where the forest ends and the wilderness begins, lived a very old and great yogi along with his young disciple. According to the local mountain people, the yogi was 140 years old. No one knew for sure when he was born, but they say he remembers a time when there were no engines, no telephones, no plastic, and no railroads. The local people say he would sometimes travel great distances to places like Puri, Dwarka and other holy places by his mystic powers. He had no money and very few possessions. He was very humble and devoted to doing bhajan of Bhagavan Sri Krishna. Despite his advanced age, he was still able to walk and perform his regular duties. His name was Narada Mahasaya, and his young disciple’s name was Marici.
The valley where the Mahasaya and Marici lived was filled with the thundering of the river Yamuna as she began her descent down the mountains towards the plains. She flowed over rocks and cascaded down hills, dancing with youthful, sparkling, pure waters. Her roaring flow created a beautiful sound that drifted over the meadows and reached the Mahasya’s simple cottage. It provided the “Sa” for the yogi’s soulful kirtans and bhajans.
One day Narada Mahasaya told Marici: “A long time ago, when I was your age, I went on pilgrimage to Sri Vrindavan dham where Krishna and Balarama sported as young cowherd boys 5,000 years ago. Now I am very old and I desire to see that jewel of holy tirthas once again. It has been more than 100 years since I have had darshan of Yamuna devi as she gracefully weaves her way thru the land of Braj. I wish to go once more to that pristine place before I leave my body.” His disciple, Marici, replied: “Maharaj, you are very old now and Vrindavana is at least 1000 kilometers from here. Even if we go by train it would be a very difficult journey for you!”
The sage’s eyes sparkled: “There is no need for making train bookings my dear Marici. Today I will show you a secret siddhi of the yogis,” he said. “We shall travel from our place high in the Himalayas to Sri Vrindavan dham via the mystic airways. Quickly gather our belongings and let us leave at once for Brajabhumi!”
The holy man tapped on his stick and chanted his mantra as they descended the steep and dangerous footpath to the river. The boy was filled with excitement. He had heard so many stories about Braj from his guru, and now they were going to go there by yogic trance!
It was already evening, and after performing puja to the holy river, Narada Mahasaya called to his young disciple Marici and together they entered hip deep into the icy river.
“Fix your mind on Vrindavana,” Narada Mahasaya said as he went into trance. The boy fixed his mind as best he could, but he put his full faith in his guru to carry him by mystic power to this far off destination.
The river was a rush of life and colors that passed by at indescribable speed. Traveling at the speed of the mind, mountains and foothills gave way to the plains and still standing in the holy river, they arrived in Sri Vrindavan dham.”
With dawn the actual devastation of Vrindavans environment unfolds.
What is that foul smell?! Like the stool of a hundred pigs!! It’s the Yamuna,” cried the boy. “She is being poisoned. Come quickly, Mahasaya!”
Together, they searched and found a drain that was flowing into the Yamuna. In the drain they saw pitch black foul smelling slime that was entering the holy river. The stench was horrible—they had to cover their noses. Horrified, they both stood on the bank of the river as they witnessed the slime polluting the Yamuna.
“Oh holy Yamuna, O Surya Kanya,” the Mahasaya called out. “Who is doing this to you? If I were a ksyatria, I would take out my sword and punish whoever is polluting you! Surely the government cannot allow this rape to go on!! For hundreds of years, you have flowed peacefully and no one has polluted your holy waters. Even the Moghul rulers did not disturb you. I pray to you, Yamuna Devi: please tell me what is going on??”
Out of the black water a beautiful, shining Goddess, Yamuna Devi herself, arose on a turtle carrier and spoke sweetly to the old yogi and his young disciple.
“O holy ones welcome! Only you can see me, for I have given you divine eyes. Please know for certain that my waters are forever purifying, having been blessed by Lord Hari. Nonetheless, we are now in Kali yuga and I am suffering greatly. The Goddess continued: “Rivers are the veins of the earth. One who puts poison into his own veins is a fool and a criminal. Aside from purifying the souls of people and animals who bathe in my waters, I bring nutrients from the mountains and forests to the land to increase the quality and taste of food. By creating industries and dumping chemicals and waste products into me, you are poisoning the land. It is like a child poisoning his own mother. In ignorance you are shamelessly killing me and yourselves in the name of industry and progress.
“The earth does not belong to you. You are the caretaker. It is your duty to protect all species of life. Just see what the residents of my sacred waters are saying,” the Goddess said. Waving her beautiful hand she motioned to a shoal of fish who had gathered to hear her speech.
“We are being poisoned,” the fish cried. “The chemicals dumped into the holy waters are poisoning all we eat and drink. We are dying and the baby fish are being born deformed. Dear Mahasaya, please, please help us.”
The turtles sadly said: “O holy one, we are sick with strange and unknown diseases due to the pollution the humans put into the holy river. Our lives are a living torture. The humans are acting as if they are the only ones who live on this planet. They have forgotten that Paramatma lives within the hearts of all living creatures and if they hurt other beings, they will have to suffer the reactions.” As master and disciple walk along they are overwhelmed by what they see. The animals speak to the sage:
“One cow said, “dear saintly one, the boy speaks the truth. These days are very difficult and we will eat anything chewable to pacify our empty stomachs. Inside our stomachs, the plastic bags get all knotted up and we become ill and sometimes die from such things.”
“A cow is speaking to the sadhu,” a passing man exclaimed, and a small crowd gathered.
The cow said, “I am too old to give milk and my owner was too poor to feed me, so now I am abandoned. We homeless cows wander the streets in search of food. There are no wild grasses to eat because Vrindavana is becoming a hot, dry desert. Some kindly people feed us vegetable cuttings but our huge stomachs are always painfully empty.”
“O Govinda, Govinda! This is more serious than you can possibly imagine,” said the Mahasaya, addressing the crowd. “It is told that great misfortune will descend on any society where the cows are not being protected and cared for. This is terrible!” he cried raising his hands. “Vrindavana is the most holy place. It is the responsibility of all Brijabasis to see that all the cows and bulls are properly cared for…..
….To the surprise of the crowd an old monkey came forward, walking upright and bowed before the holy man.
“Dear respected Sir,” the monkey said.
The crowd murmured, “Today is a very special day! Nothing like this has been heard of since the time of the great King and Incarnation of God, Lord Ramachandra.”
“Please hear our side. We monkeys are forest dwellers. We live on berries, shoots and leaves. But dear Sir, there is no forest left, it has all been cut down and the trees have been sold. Now we are left homeless and hungry. Therefore, we are forced to come to the towns and villages to steal. Our babies are starving. Wherever we go we are chased away. We don’t know what to do. Everywhere we go we are unwelcome. Our histories tell how Lord Krishna used to personally steal yogurt and butter to feed us lowly monkeys. O Makhan Chor where are you now?”
Just then the deafening horn of a tractor broke up the crowd.
”Look!” cried the monkey. “There goes one of the last trees to market. Vrindavana is becoming a desert.”
“… He looked around at the people of Vrindavana. Some were born in Braj and others outside. There were even a couple of foreigners in the crowd. All of them had sufficient pious activities to reside in Vrindavana. He admired all of them for residing in Vrindavan.
Observing their fine qualities, the Mahasaya thought, ‘the residents of Vrindavana know austerity. These are real people; their good qualities are due to simple living and their faith in Krishna. I want them to realize how fortunate they are. Modernization and industrialization are not solving their problems but only increasing them. If only they knew how artificial living and faithlessness will destroy everything that is valuable and dear to them, they could fight against this so-called progress which is actually a great curse!’
He looked lovingly on the beautiful bright faces of the children with their sparkling eyes and their bodies decorated with the holy dust and he also looked at the elders who contributed a welcome gravity. The Sage felt an overwhelming love towards the Brijabasis and his voice carried a new authority as he stood to speak. “
“Dear Brijabasis, please hear me for I speak the truth. Birth in this holy land is the highest birth available on this planet. You have a chance to make this your last birth in the material world and return to Goloka Vrindavana, our real, eternal home. But don’t let this make you proud or complacent. Success is not guaranteed. You have great advantages but with it come great responsibility. One in knowledge must never live as the ignorant live.
“The whole world is covered with the darkness of illusion. Here in Braj, you have allowed the darkest ignorance to enter this holy land with its motorcars and televisions and loudspeakers! The holy Yamuna is being poisoned. The innocent animals are starving or becoming diseased. The sadhus are being disturbed and disrespected due to the onslaught of commercial development and dacoits. And people who are making money from all of this cheat you by telling you this is ‘progress.’ Do not be cheated by such propaganda!
The sage succeeds in uniting the Brajbasis and inspiring them to find their solutions and the resolve to restore Vrindavan to her original blissful state.
This simple inspirational story will touch the hearts of all readers.