For those of you non-Hare Krishna's out there, every year we have a month that is similar to the Catholic month of Lent. As you might be aware, Catholics observe Lent around Easter time and during that time choose to "give something up" in honor of Jesus' resurrection (actually, I don't know the real history behind Lent... this is just my speculation - but you get my drift). During our month, Karttika, we take vows (or vratas) in order to enhance our spiritual life. It's not necessarily always giving something up for us - sometimes it's doing something more. Like one year I gave up TV for an entire month - though I did allow myself to watch videos about Krishna (I watched a lot of animated Ramayana that month...). I think that same year I vowed to only wear devotional Indian clothing, with the exception of the uniform I had to wear to work. I remember I was still in college at the time and would go to class in a sari and tilaka. I also avoided seeing my parents for that whole month so I wouldn't freak them out. ha! those were the days...
anyway, I digress. so yesterday was the first day of Karttika, the most holy and auspicious month in the eastern/Indian calendar. it is said that whatever vow one makes, the benefit is multiplied a zillion times if it is completed during that month. so the vrata part is especially important. I don't much like making vows. I've broken too many and disappointed myself and my guru too much to want to pursue actually making any more. but I also understand the value of doing the austerity and forcing it for just a little bit of time. still, I was hesitant leading up to yesterday. I even told my husband I didn't think I would make a vow this year. I thought maybe my vow would be not to make any vows. he was a little taken aback by my lack of enthusiasm. "Not even something simple? Increased chanting?" No. not even that.
you see, I have so many responsibilities as it is right now. part of my problem is that I take on more than I should. then I get super stressed out trying to accomplish all of the things I need to accomplish. and when I start thinking of all of the little vows I could take just for the sake of taking a vow and making possible and more-than-likely-un-noticeable spiritual advancement, my mind starts to reel - I am, after all, an overachiever maniac. so I said, no - no vows this year.
and then Krishna decided to give me a message.
so, some background.
as you may know, I adjunct for Ocean County College teaching several English courses there. in the stairwells in some of the buildings you can find this huge cardboard boxes that are meant for text book donations - so that the needy can have used text books, I suppose. I always walk passed these boxes and wonder if anyone ever puts anything in them. they look all beat up and abused. I'm always too embarrassed to look for some reason - I don't know why. but I have a stack of used text books (sitting right next to me now, actually) that I have had no luck selling. I have kept meaning to bring the books with me to put in one of these boxes, but just never remember to do it.
and then... yesterday as I was walking out of my class I saw one of these boxes - just minding its own business. there was no one around, so I decided to go look inside. and this is what I saw immediately:
there was Sri Krishna Himself looking up at me. seriously people - what are the chances that I would look in the one box that had a prabhupada book in it? this was a sign for sure!
now who am I to interpret the message of God? I think there's lots of ways to pick this apart - but I think, as my husband told me, I should take this as Krishna giving me a small vrata to follow. there must be something in this book - this particular book - that I am meant to hear/know. so I'll keep it simple - just read a little bit every day. hopefully it will become obvious what Krishna wants me to know.
but seriously, how weird!?!?!
p.s. - I am doing other things to honor this special month, but I am purposely not calling them vows, just in case for some reason I cannot complete them everyday.