While we savored Bhakti Yoga during our stay at the monastery in Mumbai, we developed a deep longing to share that experience with others. Prodded by fellow feelings, the three of us, all Americans, first wanted to reach out to our countrymen touring Mumbai. We decided to visit a neighborhood tourist trap, Colaba. But first, we sought blessings from Radhanath Swami.
Radhanath Swami’s eyes gleamed with joy seeing us exuberant to share the gifts we received, for sharing one’s joy with others is the heart of spirituality. He exclaimed, “The three of you remind me of the trio—Srinivas Acharya, Narottam Das Thakur, and Shyamananda Pandit!”
Encouraged, we smiled from ear to ear. These were names of renowned saints of the seventeenth century who pioneered the spreading of Lord Chaitanya’s school of Bhakti Yoga.
Speaking of the philosophy and glories of Bhakti was exhilarating. But disinterested responses demoralized us. Our minds would then find a sanctuary in Radhanath Swami’s encouraging words, and that helped us go on with renewed enthusiasm.
Gradually, we started finding interested people. While on one hand it boosted our confidence, on the other we began to imagine halos around our heads; we now felt like messiahs.
When one brother flew to America to resume his duties there, the two of us went to Radhnath Swami. “Narrottama Das Thakur has left,” I said, remembering Radhanath Swami’s comparison of the renowned trio with our trio. Implicitly it meant we were indeed of the caliber of Srinivas Acharya and Shyamananda Pandit.
“Seeing the two of you now, I am somehow reminded of Jagai and Madhai,” Radhanath Swami’s body rocked with laughter. He had punctured our egos in split seconds. Jagai and Madhai were renowned criminals of sixteenth century India who were eventually delivered by the benevolent Lord Chaitanya. Of course, he didn’t mean we were criminals. But through his lambent wit he conveyed that we weren’t as holy as we felt we were.
Both enthusiasm and humility are pillars of bhakti yoga, and he knew which needed support when, and how to administer that support.