Post-Jewish Guilt


This week has been hi-jacked by small projects: canning, getting ready for India, my husband researching changing jobs. Constants such as cooking, laundry and sweeping remain just that. Venumadhava and Madhumati also fall into that category since they are always home and don’t seem to be making any plans on their own yet.

Next week is Vyasa Puja which means more cooking and lots of mental speculation. Exactly how many cases of spinach will I need for palak paneer? What time do I have to wake up to ready myself and two kids and 10 gallons of palak paneer to get into the car and arrive in NJ at 9 am? Will my children occupy themselves while I prep and bake tray after tray of stuffed karela at Kisori’s house?

All this activity, physical and mental, is not only time consuming but tiring. Is it spiritual life or is it taking time away from spiritual life? To what extent do I see Krishna in my activities? To what extent do these activities make me feel closer to Krishna?

Gita Nagari is a sleepy temple. A farm with no farming going on, if it were not for the beautiful milkers nuzzling their calves when you drive onto the property, one would surely expect to see tumbleweeds blowing across the dirt road. Although things are going on, many of which by the sheer industriousness of Mother Kaulini, more could be happening. Grhastas such as myself could be contributing more time, money and labor to the project.

Yesterday my husband and I were discussing our own personal productivity, which has increased greatly since moving here. It is not that we are just more involved with the temple but our Gita Nagari life (complete with our 1834 house) has somehow fostered hobbies and chores at home by which we are also engaged.

But the more resources consumed by our activities at home, naturally, the less there is to contribute to the temple. Is this selfishness?

I think the aswer is “no.” And “yes.” Fixing up our house and using it to host devotees, being happy grhastas with a healthy Krishna conscious family life, hosting programs, etc., all this positively contributes to the community. But the temple is lacking manpower. Even by just going to the temple for darsan we leave some dust, some mess which someone has to clean up.

Mother Kaulini is there, thirty-one years now, working for Radha Damodara and Prabhupada, pushing on in the face of an aging, deteriorating body and little to no association. Repetition has no negative connotation to her. Boredome is not an issue. No heat in the winter no cool air in the summer. Hot water? What do you think this is, Vrindavan? Austerities of the mind and body abound yet Mother Kaulini faces each day with the enthusiasm of a new bhaktin.

When I see Mother Kaulini, one thought naturally arises in my heart:

What have I done for Srila Prabhupada today?

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