(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 30 June 2013, Vrndavan, India, Srimad Bhagavatam 6.16.34)
Often, when I read the Srimad Bhagavatam, I think of Bhismadeva with the hundreds of arrows that pierced his body yet he was still totally peaceful. He was still instructing Yudhisthira, whereas we – with one arrow, then call the ambulance. And we wonder which would be louder, our scream or the siren of the ambulance! So it is like we have such little tolerance and such little determination. We have no training or austerity.
I have been on Indian unreserved trains. You have these people, they can sit on the door for ten hours. I cannot sit on the door for ten hours! It is not a yogi but an ordinary villager who can sit on the door for ten hours. I can sit on the door for ten minutes then a certain part of my body turns black and blue. Literally, on these trains, by sitting on the floor I have bruises. I was not made for these kinds of conditions – did not grow up with that.
So what is our capacity for austerity? Coming from the West to modern India, it is catching up quick that gradually we become really soft. I was once carrying suitcases with cash on the train as a service for some purchase of land. So I took a first-class air-conditioned coach and it cost just as much as a plane.
On this train, you have a bell. It was just me and one other man in the compartment. This man, he was like extremely soft; I was not sure whether there were any bones inside of him. He was draped on the seat and he had this button. Whenever he pushed the button a servant would come and he would say, “In ten minutes the station is coming, go and see if there are any samoosas…” He would send this guy onto the platform to buy something more to eat. At every stage, he would call by ringing the bell.
Gradually, we are all becoming like that – no more bones but soft and jellyfish like – just pushing buttons to satisfy the senses so what austerity can we take!?