Service In The Wet
Juhu Beach, India
It is unseasonably wet. Rains have been coming to add onto the already humid atmosphere. It makes it interesting. This means that when taking your sand-bound steps either on the nearby beach or a flat-floor pacing in the ISKCON corridor floor #2 you perspire real easy. After a shower it takes time for your brahmin's thread that's flung around the neck and across the torso to dry, much after you've donned a set of fresh and pressed clothing.
The service attitude here at the ISKCON Centre is phenomenal. Your needs are met. If you order a pomegranate juice it will be delivered, freshly-squeezed from local sources in a jiff. But as a routine you don't order anything except for medicinal purposes, before the morning sadhana is over; the last portion of it being a class on a lesson from the book Bhagavatam. Today's discourse came from Prahladananda Swami, who heads up the Sannyasa Ministry, the department that looks at eligible candidates for the renounced order.
"Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?" he recited over the mic in a sarcastic tone. Prahladananda pokes fun at the ego. Who will deny that the ego needs a few kicks everyday?
For kicks I later ask Prahladananda if he could reference the nursery rhyme. He frankly admitted he couldn't remember. After talking with our Latino peer, Jaga Jivan, he confirmed the source - Snow White. You see, we're getting older being in our 60's.
A major chunk of the day was occupied in discussing art of the last five hundred years in the Vaishnav tradition.
Vasudev from France and I reviewed essays on the subject. We observed that the pushtimarga movement inspired by pundit Vallabhacharya and son Vithal had influenced art in a profound way in the early 16th century. Ornamental back drops and paintings to murtis, or deities gave a flavour of other-worldliness. Scholars who have written on the subject of Vaishnav art may take note of the 'realism' that was amplified by followers of the founder of the Krishna Consciousness movement.
Vasudev, who's a film-maker, and I spent a solid three hours in our little 'art universe' until it was time to retire. At the time I did so my brahmacari assistant, Karuna Sindhu, let in four massagers (if I said massage therapists it would have professional connotations). Why four? Four limbs, I guess. They applied a pleasant Ayurveda oil which made me moist. They managed to get themselves wet in the toil and the joy of service.
May the Source be with you!