Many times in life we have heard the saying, “A single twig will break, but the bundle of twigs is strong.” For practicing devotees the connotation was that we always live, practice, and teach in the society of like-minded Vaisnavas. Then we will maintain spiritual strength. Yet, this past year has given us a new perspective on the simple understanding that in unity we remain strong and withstand weakness.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a once-in-a-century event that has changed all our lives.
• Festivals, roaring kirtans, invigorating close association with peers and senior Vaisnavas;
• Walking the fields of Vraja from Javat to Ter Kadamba to Asesvara Mahadeva on cool Kartik mornings … with loving groups of katha absorbing devotees; and
• Govardhan and Barsana parikramas, the cool moonlit kirtans beneath the Bakula Tree in the courtyard of Radha Raman Bagicha.
All this very quickly and drastically changed.
As the death toll increased, we were updated on the best practices to avoid getting and spreading the virus. We adapted, as a bundle of twigs, to stay strong.
We stopped traveling, stayed inside as much as possible, started wearing masks and undertook the austerity of smelling our own breath, not just to protect ourselves but to protect others we love and contact.
We took up social distancing. For me this was a challenge as I’m a natural hugger and backslapper. But even I refocused and adapted.
And, I washed my hand-size down from XX Large to a lean medium.
It was an abrupt crash course on a new way of life. But to keep the bundle of twigs strong I adapted. And for better or worse, I, and my close friends, are still here.
Now this brings us forward to vaccines, which I see as another adaptation to remain strong as a group.
As a child my parents had me get all the vaccinations. I got vaccinated for smallpox, diptheria, tetanus, polio, measles, and mumps. I still remember the little scab on my arm from the smallpox vaccine.
My favourite was the polio vaccine that was administered on a sugar cube.
Needless to say, none of my friends ever got those diseases. I can remember at one point coming to India, and I was instructed that I had to get a Hepatitis B vaccine that was made from something not so amenable to Vaisnavism. But to enter the country to do my seva I got the jab.
I recall taking tetanus updates every time I stepped on a rusty nail. And I’ve heard that Srila Prabhupada got vaccinated a few times in his 12 years of world wide preaching, which brings me to the point:
I’ve always done these things to help not only me, but our world family, to remain strong as a bundle of sticks.
In discussion with my doctor friends I’ve understood that beating the COVID-19 pandemic will require a whopping 75% of the world population getting a vaccination.
Then the bundle of twigs will be strong and won’t be broken.
Thus I made a personal decision to get vaccinated against COVID-19. and got my first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine at Vimhans Hospital in New Delhi.
It was painless, and I had no ill effects.
I did not howl at the moon last night, had my full spiritual program today, did beautiful puja of Giriraja and all of His friends, did a fine exercise session and was slamming sets of 20 KG hammers, and put the cherry on the cake this evening by going beyond Devi Atas Village to Vanya Organic Farms where we had an outside, socially distanced kirtan, with our new friends from 11 Flowers Vegetarian Restaurant in Vrindavan.
It was great prasadam, wonderful sanga, sweet Holy Names, no monkeys and no mosquitos.
My dear friends,
My health decisions are my own, and your health decisions are your own. But I feel that together we can beat this pandemic.If you don’t like that, I trust my professional devotee doctors, scientific data I have read, I’m 70 years old and make decisions that I feel are good, not only for me, but for the good of us all;
Well, I offer you my humble obeisances.
But it has been said, “To each his own.”
Yes, death is the most certain aspect of life. Yet this last year has played way too much havoc for everyone around the world. Scientific data has told us that 75% of the world population will need a jab to wipe out this pandemic.
My life has been dedicated to helping others, stopping birth and death, not only for me but for the whole bundle of twigs.
Or as Krishna has said,
“The living entities in this world are my eternal fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life they are struggling hard with the six senses, which includes the mind.”
Naturally, the best help is to offer guidance for self-realisation in Krishna consciousness. Yet, getting vaccinated can help us all hang on just a little longer to achieve that goal. So, this is just another chapter in the long story of Govinda Swami. Please think seriously, make good decisions and do the best for yourself and the benefit of all.
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare[ covid-19 ] [ opinion ]