Japa – A cry for affection

beggar-asking-donationSeated in an auto-rickshaw that had found the red light at a busy city intersection, what else could I expect but black smoke? Destiny, however, surprised me with a little sweet encounter.

I spotted a street urchin who darted from vehicle to vehicle, begging. Moments later she reached me, her expression pleading for charity. I deftly reached my handbag’s front pocket to pull out the box in which I always carry cookies for such occasions. The little angel was quick to translate my body language and expectation twinkled in her innocent eyes. Suddenly I realized the box wasn’t to be found. Not wanting to disappoint her I reached my pockets for coins. All I found was a five hundred rupee note; if I gave that to her, we had to exchange positions! Mortified at the thought of breaking her heart, I settled the matter with a sorry smile, but made sure to add extra affection into that. She left.

I felt good about what I had done and fixed my vision on the traffic light. It turned green and all vehicles honked in unison, impatient to race ahead. As my driver waited for the line of vehicles in front to start moving, suddenly the urchin reappeared. This time she didn’t hold out her open palms; our eyes met and through her eyes I could hear a faint voice of gratitude that rose above the noise of traffic all around. I found in her expression an element of surprise; perhaps she had received many things from many, but hadn’t received affection from any. Our exchange happened in a flash, before my vehicle sped ahead, and I never saw her again. Soon, I knew, I would forget about this brief incident, but I prayed never to forget the lesson I had learnt: affection touches the heart, and if we see closely within, we are all desperate for that touch.

Years later, while learning the mysteries of Bhakti yoga from Radhanath Swami, I came to know how Bhakti is all about affection—affection exchanged between the Supreme Lord and we spirit souls. If two tiny spiritual beings can experience such satisfaction when there is an exchange of affection, we can imagine the emotional explosion we can experience when we tiny spiritual sparks exchange affection with the supreme spirit.

Japa, the silent prayerful cry, and kirtan, the loud-sweet cry, is nothing but the cry of affection expressed through the syllables of the maha-mantra, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. We cry with affection begging that our hearts be filled with more affection for the Lord. And the Lord too is desperate to receive that affection from his affectionate children.

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