on Jan. 24, 2009
When I first joined the Hare Krishnas, the phrase “plain living high thinking” would inevitably make me think of yogis in the Himalaya Mountains who meditate on the Absolute Truth while staying in caves, surviving freezing temperatures without central heating and living on nothing but water and air.
Few people could live like that. Fortunately, we know that the main idea is not to be deprived of material possessions, but to be detached from them. The principle of yukta vairagya, or using everything in the Lord’s service is what gives us hope.
Yet occasionally, one does meet devotees whose austere lifestyle embodies the concept of plain living and high thinking, literally.
One such example is to be found 20 kms from Moscow, Russia, in the village of Marfino. A friend of mine Nada-bindu-vidharini Devi Dasi, 30, is a yogi.
She lives with her husband and their two daughters, 5 and 7, in a house that they built with their own hands, without gas, electricity or running water and depends on a wood-burning stove for heating and cooking.
They used to live in SUKHArevo (what a name for a Hare Krishna place!), a rural Vaisnava community of over 200 devotees near Moscow. Nada-bindu was dressing the Deities of Gaura-Nitai several times a week and taking care of tulasi plants.
Two years ago Sukharevo was shut down. The Deities settled in the local brahmacari asram. Many of the devotees returned to their home towns, some stayed in Moscow and took jobs. Few, including Nada-bindu decided they were not into city living.
It is very unusual if one thinks of it, and shows how much devotional service can change a person. Nada grew up in downtown Moscow, a city of 13 million residents, officially, where consumer spirit is highly encouraged. Moreover, she is very active by nature. Nevertheless, she now half-jokingly calls herself a forest dweller and says she is dismayed at the city ways when she has to come to Moscow for family or service reasons.
“Living without electricity has given me a lot of free time, surprisingly, - she says, - when I couldn’t use my PC, I suddenly realized that I had more time for reading, thinking and serving the Deities”.
Plain living doesn’t necessarily imply hermit living. Nada’s ambition is to be an active member of the Moscow Vaisnava community, do Deity worship in the temple, organize programs for children, preach and at night return to her “forest” where behind the veil of nature, one can sometimes catch a glimpse of Krishna’s face.