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The Golden Creeper of Bhakti

In January, some of our dear friends, Rachel, Daniel, Laura, and Youssef accepted initiation into the line of Bhakti. Initiation is a formal acceptance to follow one’s chosen teacher who comes down in a line of teachers from antiquity. It’s something like formally enrolling in a university, after informally auditing classes. Except it’s a bit more: It’s a lifelong commitment.

Bhagavad Gita 4.34 describes the process:  Just try to earn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth.

Bhakti is compared to a delicate fruit. Such a fruit can’t be thrown from the top branches of a tall tree. It must be handed down with great care, hand to hand from wise teacher to receptive disciple or the knowledge can be spoiled or misapplied.

Another metaphor is sometimes given: If a man is potent and a woman is fertile, then a pregnancy can occur. Potent seeds of Bhakti can sprout in a fertile heart.

At an initiation, like a marriage, certain vows are taken. Vows meant to be kept for a lifetime. Except, traditionally, in a wedding, they would say, “til death do us part”. I guess, with the divorce rate what it is today, people are finding that difficult.

But at an initiation, the guru promises to come back life after life, if necessary, to deliver the disciple to the lotus feet of Lord Krsna. Of course, a sincere disciple does not want to cause a beloved teacher such a problem. Better to take it seriously and end the cycle of repeated birth and death in this very life.

So Rachel has become Radha Priti; Daniel is now Damodar Swarup; Laura is now Lalita Kisori; and Youssef has become Yamuna Bihari. These are all names of Radha, or dear devotees of Radha and Krsna, or Lord Caitanya.

At the end of a woman’s name comes the two words: Devi Dasi. Radha is the original Devi, and we are all Her dasis, Her servants. Men get the name “Das”, or “servant” at the end of their names.

In Bhakti, we seek to serve all living beings as the servant of the servant of their servants. In Bhakti, the Pyramid of Power is inverted. Rather than trying to become King or Queen of the Hill, like water, we try to seek the lowest place, we seek to serve. We seek the power to yield, the power to surrender to the Original Source of all that be, Sri Krsna.

The potent seeds of Bhakti are given by the combined mercy of the Guru and Krsna. Sri Krsna is the Tree of Life, Sri Radha is the Golden Creeper of Devotion who embraces that tree. She is Krsna’s pleasure potency, we are expanded from Her potency, meant to also give pleasure. We are like the leaves and branches of that golden creeper, meant to bear delicious fruits and fragrant flowers of devotion.

Please join me in offering all these serious aspirants your heartfelt prayers for their pilgrim’s progress!

All the best,

Rukmini Walker