Thursday, October 18, 2007

Caitanya Ananda prabhus interview

Caitanya Ananda faced the challenge of his life last December. Doctors concluded that he has an incurable cancer, melanoma. Nothing could prevent the disease from being spread, neither the best western or ayurvedic remedies nor the natural herbs. This interview has been done in June on a train from Mumbai to Mathura. Caitanya Ananda prabhu was already then in the terminal treatment.

I got my first Prabhupada’s book in 1994 in London, explains Caitanya Ananda prabhu on an express train through Gujarat. One friend of mine had heard about Hare Krishna mantra and he wanted to prove that this mantra did not work. We went to sing maha-mantra on the campus area of the University of Technology. Some years passed after that, and in 1999, I made a new year promise to follow the principles of bhakti yoga. I noticed that this process works really well.
I was convinced that we are not our bodies. I had many interesting discussions about these themes in my workplace. Anyway, I wanted to do more. I wanted to improve Krishna movement, and to spread Krishna consciousness. I felt that somebody was listening to me all the time. This Person was following what I was saying and wanting. One day, on a lunch hour, I met Janardan on the parking spot of Otaniemi. I wanted to buy all the books he had. He had only two sorts of books. I promised to pick up more books from the temple in the evening. I bought all books available. I also bought the Tulasi japa beads. I started to visit in the temple, give donations, and chant maha-mantra 16 rounds per day. With other members of the congregation, we also started to do Food For Life. We did it for couple of times. We went to the rock festivals where we distributed prasadam. I moved to the ashram.

When you compare what you expected, and what you received in terms of Krishna consciousness, is there some equivalence?

In the beginning, Krishna consciousness was a path for higher realization for me. I was convinced that this is the right path. At those times, it was important for me to debate these issues in my mind, and to understand them theoretically. A great surprise for me was the close interaction with God. This interaction was developed through the active devotional service. It was clearly manifested, that Krishna really is our most close and intimate friend.
The railway journey proceeds nicely. Mother Nartaki, one of the senior students of Srila Prabhupada, prepares evening meal for us. She offers prasadam with motherly warmth and care.

The main thing really is the personal interaction with Krishna, continues Caitanya Ananda while eating warm carrot soup. Environment is answering also our questions and doubts, he explains. It was an impressive experience about Krishna’s interaction, when the whole board of doctors walked to my treatment room (Bhaktivedanta Hospital, Mumbai). From the wet snowy market of Seinäjoki to this specific moment – all closer to Krishna. The Krishna conscious years of Caitanya Ananda prabhu can be crystallized in these sentences.

Among many other well-wishers, mother Laksmimoni also sent you a letter. Here is part of her message: “You got many people inspired about Krishna consciousness. You also inspired them to practice Krishna consciousness. And now your example is inspiring many people.” You have wanted to take Krishna consciousness as it is, I continue. Has it been difficult for you to take it on that way – with skin and coat?
Through training, it became clear to me, that there is a Higher Person behind everything. This Person also has a sense of humor, Caitanya Ananda tells smilingly. There were many different paths to choose, when I first time approached Krishna consciousness. I doubted all new and cheap paths. They were just full of empty promises. I did not trust them. Now I can see that many people, who were following those other paths, are not that active anymore. I started to write with Suhotra Maharaja, instead, and got the answers for my questions.

I repeat what Mother Nartaki said: “If the farewell parties are like the ones (in Bhaktivedanta Hospital), what kind of arriving parties there will be (in the spiritual world)!”
Your disease came as a full surprise for you at the end of the last year. I inquire.

The face expressions of the doctors were informative, when I first times visited in the Finnish hospital, Caitanya Ananda continues. The illness was serious, and this would mean changes in life. Western doctors were regrettable cautious to tell the truth. I understood, anyway, that everything was arranged by Krishna.

I have felt like being part of some movie. It has become clear to me that God is guiding everything. The final result will always be good. Even though, I have gone through some painful moments with this disease, the final result will be beautiful. We just need to have trust.

Krishna manifests Himself through bhaktas or devotees. Some neophyte devotees may seem to have only downing properties of Him. However, Krishna (and His mercy) can act also through the neophytes. Bhaktas really manifest Krishna’s caring and cherishing attributes. It really is an impressive feeling. That feeling can be experienced without any tragic setbacks. One just need to have a right attitude towards devotees, explains Caitanya Ananda prabhu about his main realizations of the last months.

In the West, we easily count everything in terms of profit, not as persons. Anyway, devotees have the same kind of potential as Krishna has. The attitude towards devotees should be honest and frank, according to the Vaishnava Etiquette.

What about Finnish sankirtana. How it can manage without your presence?
Well, Sankirtana movement is guided directly from the spiritual world. It is not even dependent on the physical presence of the devotees. Many great persons, like Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, have left sankirtana movement. As I told, I feel like being part of some movie. Superficially, it may seem that a good person has a bad end, but actually, everything goes really well. Krishna is not unthankful for the sacrifices that we have done. The final result will be perfectly fine.

What would you like to say for the beginners?
I have noticed two main pitfalls in the attitudes of the new generations. Phlegmaticism and apathy. The fire to reach other conditioned souls is often missing. We may get good results, and then think that we have a right to demand this and that. We may think that we do not need to work hard anymore. If one falls to those pitfalls, it is difficult to get up anymore. The guidance of others is taken capriciously.

The most important thing is to cultivate a proper attitude right from the beginning. We are not working for bolstering our ego. We are working for Krishna, as His instruments and servants. When Suhotra Maharaja was sick some years ago, we were doing a guru marathon. We were tired of travelling and staying up late at night. Despite this, for example, in Kankaanpää people just took without asking. It was not question of our instant well-being. Krishna was interacting to that attitude.

What has been the most difficult for you in terms of practicing Krishna consciousness?
Working hard, but not taking any results for oneself. Working with our own mistakes and weaknesses. Dirt from the heart needs to be purified with hard work. We are imperfect, which is against modern psychology. When we are consciously purifying ourselves, it gives a lot of energy to do sankirtana.

I still want to ask the last message for the Finnish yatra?
Thank you very much for the great support I have received from devotees – the temple personnel and the congregation. It has been nice to see how much compassion devotees have felt. It is important to develop stable understanding of Krishna consciousness. Without that, it is not possible to face all the challenges.

Caitanya Ananda prabhu left the material world in Vrindavana August 7, 2007 and thus returned back to Godhead according to all the authorities.

Tattvavada Das