Bhakti Rasayana Sagara Swami
Bhakti Rasayana Sagara Swami
I was born in Baku. In our family, God was not denied, but they also did not follow religious practice. My grandfather was a wealthy landowner.
During the revolution, everything was taken from him, then, it seems, they were shot, therefore, in the family, communism was considered a great evil.
Everything that the school gave, I did not accept as the truth, especially since I was familiar with the reverse side of the “coin”. Most surprisingly, it was this that helped me become interested in Krsna consciousness.
The first acquaintance took place in 1982 through a communist pamphlet, which described various religious movements. It spoke of Krsna Consciousness. In it, devotees were portrayed as lunatics, dressed in sheets and with shaved heads who repeat the same incoherent words and look terrible. In these descriptions, a part of the Maha Mantra was given. I thought that these must be good people, and the words that they repeat probably make sense. I had a desire to learn more about this.
I was then interested in mysticism, learned to manage other people's thoughts, shape desired events, influence people. My hippie friends shared these interests. They communicated with devotees, and it was from them that I saw some of Srila Prabhupada's books. But philosophy and the Hare Krishna maha-mantra were reinterpreted by us in our own mystical way, therefore I did not think of God as a person, as One who is able to fulfill any desire. I used the mantra for mystical purposes or simply sang it to different melodies, because I was fond of music and heard the Beatles singing Hare Krishna. I had no idea about all the principles, but I knew for sure about vegetarianism. This made me happy because I didn’t like to eat meat since childhood and threw it in the window when my parents turned away. So I took vegetarianism and followed it relatively strictly for a year.
Somehow a friend dragged me to visit his parents. They prepared meat dishes and hospitably made everyone eat. I ate one cutlet and immediately felt that I was poisoned. It was a good experience for me to make the final choice.
It is interesting that since childhood I loved to sit on the floor, eat with my hands, and my parents hardly taught me to eat with a spoon, which I also threw out at every opportunity. My mother made a horoscope on me several times, and each time it turned out that in a past life I lived in India.
Of course, my acquaintance with Krishna consciousness was superficial, and I could not understand Bhagavad-gita correctly. I was indignant that the topic of mystic yoga that interests me was presented briefly and in only one chapter, where the author said that this was not for our century. But since the Hare Krishna mantra was mentioned on every page, apparently, it still affected me.
Although I did not have a shortage of money, my father organized a business and wanted me to support it and earn money myself. But I completely lost interest in this activity. Although I still spent a lot of time in the casino and enjoyed the fact that I was losing heaps of money, I realized more and more that these were the last chords of my sinful life and that it was impossible to live on like that. In the end, I was gripped by a deep depression, and no pleasures were no longer pleasing.
Three years before, a friend and I tried to cross the border of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to go to India. We had the absolute belief that if we chant the Hare Krsna mantra, then we will succeed, and we will be able to go through the Pamir, which is part of the Himalayas. We had no idea what it was. A little later, when we went to the museum of local lore, I saw the fauna and flora of the Pamirs. Tigers, wolves, bears, kites; I realized that the Lord then saved us from this stupidity. But at that time, we already bought climbing equipment, a small supply of some “humorous” products and went to the mountains with the determination to go through the Himalayas to India.
When we climbed to a height of several hundred meters, we saw a young woman who ran and cried in dismay. She ran to us with a request to find her husband. Her husband went to the mountains, she could not find him and said that he was on the verge of suicide.
We went in the direction that the woman showed and, indeed, found a man right on the edge of the abyss. We began with great enthusiasm to preach to him:
- Life is beautiful, there is no need to take special care of temporary manifestations of joy and grief, everything is under the control of Krishna.
This man was so overwhelmed by our enthusiasm that he decided not to jump off a cliff. We went down together. They invited us to their home. We had to postpone our trip, this was Krsna's hand.
We were fed, and the owner began to talk about how he had served in prison for several years. After his release, he did not have the opportunity to support himself and his family, so he decided to commit suicide. We realized that we can tell this person everything as it is, that he will probably not tell anyone about how we were going to cross the border, that we are against the communist system and therefore wanted to leave for India.
After listening, he said:
- That goal is difficult to achieve, because in the mountains the transitions are carried out only on goat paths, literally 10-15 centimeters wide, and the gorges are many kilometers deep, often these are just icy slopes. There are many predators in these mountains. There you can freeze, fall into the abyss or become the prey of animals. But even if this does not happen, then border guards flying in helicopters can shoot you, because it is impossible to land in the mountains. And when they see some kind of movement in the mountains, they simply shoot, not worrying about anything else.
- Is it possible to come up with something? He said:
- You can get a driver at a transport company, if you have rights and, when you work for about a month, then you can try to break through the border by truck. Not far from this place runs the route to Turkmenistan. Of course, they will shoot and pursue, but at least there is some chance. And when you go far enough into the territory of Turkmenistan, you will not be persecuted.
My friend had a driver’s license, but, having imagined this picture, we realized how little chance we have of remaining alive, even by truck, and decided to postpone the border crossing and return to Russia.
Before I met the devotees, I was no longer pleased with any of the pleasures of life. The first devotee I saw was Yadukuleshvara, originally from Sukhumi. He wore kanthi-mala beads around his neck and a bag with a rosary, although then the persecution of the devotees only ended, and many were still afraid of the persecution of the authorities.
I remember that I approached him from behind and said loudly:
- Hare Krishna!
He got scared and thought it was the KGB, but, looking back, he saw me and was delighted. He began to ask:
- How do you know about Krishna Consciousness? Then he invited me to the Sunday program.
I had a deep feeling that as soon as I arrived, I would immediately have to give up sensual pleasures and completely turn my life around. I thought that I was not ready for this, and found some excuses. He gave me the apple offered, saying:
- This is prasadam.
Of course, I had no idea why the apple is called prasadam, but, realizing that this is an unusual apple, I ate it. And, really, his taste seemed unusual to me.
For another week I tried to live the old life, enjoy, but, nevertheless, I kept in touch with the devotees by phone and asked them philosophical questions. And so, a week later I decided to go on a Sunday program, already realizing that I want to leave my material life forever.
When I arrived, I was most struck by the relationship between the devotees, very close and personal. These people are really happy for each other. The same Yadukuleshvara came up to me and asked a question:
- Do you chant the Hare Krsna mantra? I said:
- I repeat sometimes. He asked:
- Repeat on the rosary?
But I did not know anything about it. Then he gave me the rosary, which consisted of 27 beads (prison version) and explained:
- Four circles on them will make one real circle, and all in all 16 large circles need to be repeated every day.
And the next day I began to repeat 16 circles. It took about an entire day because I did not know how to do it right. Repeating very slowly, about eight or nine hours, I could hardly speak the words of the mantra at all, because my throat ached. Instead of a counter, I had matches, so I counted my first laps. After some short time, I told my father that I was leaving, that I had found myself, that I would no longer be engaged in either business, or everything that I had done before, and that I was not interested in all this anymore. Father, laughing, said: “Whoever you were, and hippies and anti-Soviet. You have the most motley biography. And this is another page that will simply turn over and everything will go back on track. ” I did not argue and convince my father that it was serious with me, and left, giving him, finally, “Easy Journey”: “This book was written by a very wise man. Read it and you will understand everything yourself. ”
I was gone for two weeks. I lived in an ashram and distributed books. When I came to visit, my father said that he did not understand anything in this book and how to believe such a thing. I explained that there is a key to these books - chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra. I handed him the rosary and left again for a couple of weeks.
When I returned next time, I saw that my father was already attending all Sunday programs, repeating 16 circles and talking with devotees whom he had found. I did not live at home anymore; I traveled around the cities a lot and distributed books.
At that time Indradyumna Swami visited Russia. They showed me his photograph, gave me lectures, and I immediately realized that this was my guru and that I needed to receive initiation from him. In 1990, I saw him and asked for refuge, and in 1991 I received the first initiation. At first this choice was subconscious, but now I see that the Holy Name was the main inspiring force in my spiritual life from the very beginning. And Indradyumna Swami completely devoted his life to preaching the Holy Name all over the world, and, obviously, this is the hand of Krishna, since I accepted him as my spiritual teacher.
So I took vows, severe restrictions on my whole life, and I can’t regret it, because I already had experience in my life - satisfaction of feelings does not bring any happiness.
Bhakti Rasayana Sagara Swami accepted sannyasa on March 13, 2016 during the Gaura Purnima festival in Mayapur.