Months of contemplation shyly hides behind this once-in-a-lifetime experience that I am going to narrate. The photograph that plays the lead-role in this narrative is the sole witness that caught me everyday in those thoughtful moments, sometimes minutes and sometimes hours.
A blessed photographer had captured this image—the smiling faces of the deities of Radha and Gopinath ( Krishna, the enchanter of the cowherd girls of Vrindavan ) —and had gifted me a copy. Gopinath’s moon like face tilted beneath a sky-blue turban and Radha compassionately smiled in her dark blue sari. Even one with an iota of devotion would be endeared by this photo; what to speak of Radhanath Swami for whom, I had heard, these deities were ‘life and soul.’ Therefore an idea of gifting it to Radhanath Swami had sprouted in my mind the very moment I was gifted the photograph. Then on, every time I held the photograph, which was almost daily, I found myself lost in contemplation, and through that that sprout of an idea was watered. As months passed, the sprout gained roots, grew into a plant, expanded its branches, and the climax was a beautiful flower—a conviction that this gift, though simple by material standards, could charm Radhanath Swami’s heart. It was in December of 2008 that I finally made up my mind.
Radhanath Swami hadn’t been keeping good health during this period; he seldom kept outdoors. Still, one evening I found him alone in the corridor outside his room. I stole the opportunity. Meekly, I held out the photo. Seeing it, Radhanath Swami shuddered. Like a drug-addict finding his addiction after prolonged withdrawal, he underwent kind of convulsions. His right hand slithered out of the bead bag and raced to the photo, while his left hand yanked me closer and pressed my face against his chest—an affectionate brace. There, I felt his heartbeat picking pace. Then, releasing me, he erupted, “You have given me back my life and soul. Thank you very much.” The second statement he repeated four or five times before I took his leave. How simple it is to please the great souls!
–Nityananda Charan Das.