It is an honor for me to share my challenging life’s story with you and tell you how I crossed over obstacles placed in my path. I accomplished this through my inspiration from sadhu (spiritual persons), A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, and sastra (spiritual scripture), the Bhagavad-gita As It Is.
We all come into this world with the package of our karma (actions and reactions), and as a result of our past deeds we have a certain type of body and are placed into different situations. Whether these situations bring us happiness or distress, they are temporary and always changing. So it is important to understand that we need to connect to sadhu and sastra so that we can learn how to cross the barriers of this temporary existence and become eternally joyful.
I was born in Rajasthan, India in 1972. I grew to less than four feet tall, and as a result I have been continually challenged by my physical stature. My bones were, and continue to be, weak and crooked. I could not go to school, and therefore was taught at home. Though loved and cared for by my parents, I was not happy or peaceful because of my disability. I had such a deep desire to lead a normal life. At night I would dream that the kids my age were going to school or were playing, while I was sitting alone in a dark corner. People used to make fun of me and call me names. Some told me that I had no purpose in life.
But my destiny completely changed when my father, Shri Shyam Lal Jeendgar, gave me the Bhagavad-gita As It Is by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, whose wonderful qualities deeply inspired me. From studying this scripture, I came to understand that I was not this body but a spirit soul, part and parcel of the Supreme Person, Lord Krishna. “Those who are wise lament neither for the living nor for the dead.” This message was from chapter 2, verse 11 and in the purport of the same verse, Srila Prabhupada writes, “The body is born and is destined to be vanquished today or tomorrow; therefore the body is not as important as the soul. One who knows this is actually learned, and for him there is no cause for lamentation, regardless of the condition of the material body”. I discovered that the purpose of human life was to engage in Lord Krishna’s loving service. I further learned that one should have equal vision towards all living entities and should treat them as parts of the Supreme; that one should not be envious of others but should be a kind friend to all. These were the verses that lifted me out of the deep ocean of lamentation. At that point, a desire arose in my heart to write poems based on the Bhagavad-gita. I wanted to share this knowledge with others so they too could change their destiny. I felt illuminated and my attitude changed.
I married Gopal das in 1996 and moved to North Carolina. In 2005, I was diagnosed with an uncommon brain disease named Arnold-Chiari malformation. Chiari malformations are structural defects in the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls balance. The cerebellum and brainstem had been pushed downward and the pressure from this blocked the flow of cerebrospinal fluid. This caused dizziness, muscle weakness, numbness, vision problems, headaches, and problems with balance and coordination. There was also grave danger of partial or complete paralysis.
Surgery was the only treatment available to either correct or halt the progression of damage to the central nervous system, and the result could have been severe disability or death. Needless to say, it was one of the most difficult times in my life. I had the surgery but developed a serious infection in my brain and hovered between life and death for over a month. My biggest pain, however, was that I could not write poems on the Bhagavad-gita As It Is, and could not share my experiences with the world.
I constantly prayed to Lord Krishna to give me another chance to do this service. Finally the doctor in the Bombay hospital decided to give me intense steam therapy several times a day, to dry up my infection. It was the month of May, one of the hottest months in India. When the hot steam touched my fragile body, I found the pain almost unbearable. But the Bhagavad-gita’s teachings in chapter 6, verse 19 gave me courage. “As a lamp in a windless place does not waver, so the transcendentalist, whose mind is controlled, remains always steady in his meditation on the transcendent self.” This verse along with the memory of Srila Prabhupada’s determination to travel around the world to spread Lord Krishna’s message at the age of 70 (after having had two heart attacks), helped me to tolerate this heavy therapy. Finally my infection was cured and I was discharged from the hospital. I returned to my family’s home in Jaipur. It was a miracle! But the dark times were not over.
My body was so fragile that I could not tolerate light, sound or food - even the sound of someone entering the room was unbearable. For a long time afterwards I could not eat solid food and survived on a liquid diet. The doctors said they were doubtful I would recover and my family was losing hope – how could I recover without light, sound or food?
But I did not lose hope. I thought of Srila Prabhupada’s tolerance, courage and determination. And I meditated on Krishna’s words in the Bhagavad-gita, 2.14: “The non-permanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.” This positive energy brought me out of that dark situation. I gradually recovered and was able to see, listen, and eat once again. And I remembered my promise to Lord Krishna to write a poetry book based on the Bhagavad-gita As It Is.
From December, 2006 to March, 2007 I stayed in Vrindavana, India, ‘the land of Krishna’, and began to write. Despite continual dizziness and lack of coordination between my brain and my eyes and hands, and despite doctors’ orders to not stress my eyes and brain, I stayed firm in my mission to write poems because I did not want to miss my second chance. My book, Lotus Lyrics, which includes my own artwork, was later printed and it received a lot of praise. The Herald Sun newspaper, the ISKCON newsletter, and Reese News published articles about my life and book.
Thus my disability became a blessing for me, because it made me appreciate and surrender to sadhu and sastra. Though I still encounter difficulty, I am able to face these challenges because of my two timeless treasures: His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and Bhagavad-gita As It Is. They keep me going on the path of devotion and compassion.
Thank you very much. Hare Krishna.
Krishna Priya Dasi
You can visit me at www.supersoul.com/krishna or e-mail me at: email@example.com
Told by Krishna Priya Dasi