It was 9:00 p.m., time to call it a day at the monastery. Spotting Radhanath Swami taking a casual stroll through the ashram corridors, some of us surrounded him. On such occasions our discussions were more informal, and Radhanath Swami often spoke of his personal life: his childhood, his travels in search for the truth, his realizations while staying in an austere monastery on a mountain in North America, and the adventures of his outreach programs. These intimate talks charmed the monks even more than the transcendental philosophy and drew us affectionately to him.
Once Radhanath Swami and his dear friend, Devamrita Swami were scheduled to give a talk on cricket. Although the world cup season was on, and most Indians were busy watching cricket, the temple courtyard was packed with thousands of youth. The audience was eagerly anticipating an exciting talk by two American monks on a sport that Indians are crazy about.
India, a land of billion plus, has an obsession with cricket; not the grasshopper you know that produces a rhythmic chirping sound. This cricket is a game played between two teams with balls and bats. Although hardly a dozen countries in the world play cricket, Indians pride in being one of the best in the world and almost every Indian is glued to his television when India plays an international game.
I am an Israeli who spent 10 years in New York and only recently went back to Israel with hopes of helping peace arrive in this region that needs it so badly. Since I read Radhanath Swami’s book a few years back, I attended all lectures he gave in New York, always thinking about each lecture for months after and telling everyone who are open enough, about him, his journey and his lectures. Magical things have always happened when his light is around me.
Shyly I walked into Radhanath Swami’s room and occupied a corner. Radhanath Swami, sitting relaxed on a rocking chair at the other end, beckoned me to come closer. And I sat closer.