The End and the BeginningSat, February 10, 2007 - 7:34 AM
I can’t believe I’ve been here over a year already. I’ve rarely stayed anywhere more than six months at a time. A peripatetic musician and esoteric student, I’ve spent my adult years scouring the whole world for spiritual truth.
The streetcar stand is overrun with undergraduates escaping from the SFU campus to their barrios. Finally the car arrives. Miraculously, a Chinese girl offers me a window seat. Seniority does have its privileges.
As the crowded car trundles off, I settle into the world within. I mentally focus on an ancient Sanskrit mantra; the outside world dissolves and I am inside, waiting. For what or whom, I don’t exactly know.
The purpose of the mantra is to reveal a special form of God: my personal Deity. It is the ultimate fruit of a quest that has taken me around the world four times and to so many countries I’ve lost count. Now I’m getting old and tired, but the end is at last within reach.
Then comes my old Friend, the Lion. We Vaisnava devotees all know and love Lord Nrsimhadeva, the fierce protector pastime form of Visnu. “Hello My friend,” He says in His lovable growly voice, “You called Me?”
“Hello, dear Lion. I am chanting the kama-gayatri mantra to find my istha-devata. Can You help me find Him?”
Two years before, I had camped out alone in the jungles of Kaua’i, just chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra. Finally one morning after six months of day-and-night chanting, Lord Krsna Himself appeared against the lovely background of Vrndavana forest. He said simply, “You will attain Me very soon,” and disappeared.
I was left confused. I thought I just had attained Him. Apparently there was more sadhana to go before I reached my goal of complete self-realization. The problem was, I had no idea what to do next.
After an interval of confusion, a senior monk from Vrndavana gave me some confidential advice. He told me that the sadhus of Vrndavana chant the kama-gayatri mantra to find the specific form of the Lord that is their eternal Master. So I began chanting this confidential prayer at every opportunity.
But my conception was that my personal Lord would be a form of Krsna. Or maybe if I was really fortunate, I would become a personal servant of Srimati Radharani, Krsna’s female counterpart. Lord Nrsimhadeva was not who I expected this particular mantra to call.
Narasimha Lion just looks at me compassionately and smiles. He was a familiar part of my inner life. For decades He had appeared in my mind, seemingly at random. Most of the time He would just crack a joke, smile and disappear. This time, He remains silent, regarding me with an expression I cannot decipher.
Behind Him the gorgeous scenery of Vrndavana gradually appears. Vrndavana is the home of Lord Krsna and the highest planet in the spiritual world. The Lion looks completely at home in the opulence of that natural beauty. Behind Him great trees and snow-covered peaks rise in the background.
“This is My home,” He said, smiling. “I am born here. My whole family is here too.” This is astonishing news. The scriptures tell us little about Lord Nrsimha’s origin and background, and nothing about His home planet. Could it be He is also a denizen of Vrndavana?
“Do not be surprised. I am your old Friend. Do you want to come and play with Me?” He smiles at me, revealing His entire golden transcendental Lion form. He is gorgeous. Words fail to describe His astonishingly beautiful body. His long, curly golden mane alone is enough to make me lose my mind. Let’s not even attempt to describe the effect of His charming smile, broad shoulders, muscular chest and... everything else.
I feel something soft in my heart go snap. I am falling helplessly in love. Suddenly I want desperately to spend all of eternity with Him.
My lifelong search for God is over. I fall at His soft, padded lotus feet and bathe them with my tears. I roll on that sacred ground in ecstasy. He picks me up and embraces me, and I almost lose consciousness from an overload of pure happiness.
He tenderly places me on a downy bed of ferns, in the shade of a desire tree in the transcendental forest of Vrndavana. Purring with pleasure, He lays down beside me and wipes the copious tears of love from my eyes with His furry paw.
“Sir, wake up. We’re at the terminal.” I struggle back into external consciousness to find I have missed my stop. The streetcar is at the end of the line. What a fitting metaphor for the end of my search for God. Blinking in the cool purifying wind, I walk out into the beginning of my real life.
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