Krishnanandini is a dear god-sister who grew up in the tough neighborhoods of Cleveland, Ohio. Now she is in Vrndavan receiving Ayurvedic treatment for advanced cancer, and HH Radhanatha Swami Maharaj came to visit her. Below, Mother Krishnanandini shares a very important insight on “six exchanges of love”. Please keep her in your prayers! All the best, Rukmini Walker
Yesterday, On Gopastami, my dear godbrother, Radhnatha Swami came to pay a visit. He spent some quality time with us, my son, Mohan-Madhuri and I. We shared pastimes, laughed and reminisced about some of our past Cleveland experiences with Bhaktirtha Swami and Kamagiri devi dasi and others like the “Lord Have Mercy Festival” that we (the Cleveland Nama Hatta Program) held annually for 10 years, bringing servants of God together for a day of gratitude for the mercy of the sweet Lord. In the festivals, that gratitude was expressed artistically through music, dance, poetry, chess competitions, brief but powerful workshops, wonderful association and prasadam feasting.
And Maharaja heard, with gentle compassion, about my journey with the cancer diagnosis and the intense Ayur-Vedic health treatment I am undergoing here in the holy and blessed land of Vrndavan. We gave Maharaja a couple of small gifts and he, in addition to giving the gift of his time, gave a profound blessing: “Be happy to be in Vrndavan,” he told me. Overall, the visit was touching and reinforced the value of loving exchanges between devotees. After he left I was appreciating how this very busy spiritual teacher took the time to show concern and care for his godsister. And I remembered how when another god-brother, HH Bhaktitirtha Swami was departing this world, Radhanatha Swami had dropped everything to come and spend weeks with Bhaktitirtha Swami, making that a beautiful example of prioritizing support for devotees who are undergoing intense life experiences.
As servants of God, being personal and interacting with affection is sometimes made a secondary or not very important activity. But when we actually understand that the Supreme Lord is a person, The unequalled, unrivalled, eternal, all-knowing person, we can appreciate that personal dealings between the Lord and His servants and between the servants of the Lord themselves — are actually the highest expression of love and spiritual realization. For this reason, one of the greatest acharyas (spiritual teachers who lead by example) in our line, Srila Rupa Goswami, identified six kinds of loving exchanges between devotees of the sweet Lord:
- Giving gifts with affection and thoughtfulness
- Accepting gifts with appreciation
- Sharing food prepared and offered with love
- Accepting food with love and gratitude
- Revealing one’s mind in confidence
- Hearing and honoring what has been shared in confidence
Every sincere servant of the Lord should periodically take inventory and see just how much he or she is partaking of these six loving exchanges between one devotee and another. On a daily basis, we should have some loving exchanges with other servants of God. This is most pleasing to the Lord and makes our own hearts engladdened.
Krishnanandini Devi Dasi was brought to Krsna consciousness by her mother as a young teenager along with her other siblings. Her mother was a simple woman and a devout Christian who deeply resonated with the Bhakti perspectives given by Srila Prabhupada in his writings. But when she came to the local temple along with her children, ready to join the community there, she faced bigotry and racism. She was treated as a troublemaker and was turned away.
She took her children and put them in the car. She didn’t know where to turn, but somehow by the grace of God she was given the intuition to drive all the way to Dallas, Texas. When they arrived there, to their surprise, Srila Prabhupada himself was there visiting. She explained her situation to the temple president there, that she and her children were not welcome at the temple in their hometown of Cleveland. Srila Prabhupada out of his great compassion, that very day gave initiation to her and her children as well. I’ve always called Krishnanandini’s Mom the ‘Rosa Parks of ISKCON’.