Caring for one’s spiritual and physical needs

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The word ‘care’ comes from Proto-Germanic word *karo* and later it developed to *karona,* which means ‘to be worried about’ or ‘to be concerned about’. Notably, *karona* is also a Sanskrit word meaning ‘an action based form of compassion’. A sincere devotee trekking the path of spirituality needs to be cognizant that advancement is contingent upon two factors:  (1) spiritual well-being and (2) physical and psychological well-being, (healthcare). A devotee caring for both, as reinforced by the dictums of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings, will inevitably have a nourishing spiritual journey.

Srila Prabhupada states,  “…if you take spiritual care, the bodily care is automatically done. Our main business is spiritual care.” (Morning Walk Bombay, 03/11/1975). How does one take spiritual care? In many ISKCON temples, the leadership runs programs such as mentorship programs, councelling programs, and Bhakti-Vriksha programs for devotees on different stages on the devotional ladder and for both celibates residing in the temple and the congregation. Responsible leaders in good spiritual standing are appointed, and new devotees can choose their guide in spiritual life. The leader addresses various issues and works with the newcomer to enthuse him or her to embrace devotional qualities and skills. Without such association, the new devotees are left to depend on their own rationale. This can possibly result in , and understandings contrary to spiritual principles and an inability to cooperate with others.

“Rules regarding the self are of two types: those for body and those for the mind… If a person doesn’t follow the rules, his power of realization, concentration, imagination, contemplation and judgment will be weak and not function properly ….. ” (Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s Sri Caitanya Siksamrta Chapter 2, part 1). Physical wellbeing has its roots in one’s psychological well-being. The mind, the warehouse of desires, allegedly dictates its own moves in this material world. Upon deeper introspection, the mind makes the living entity an object of ridicule. A new devotee, armed with the quality of enthusiasm, is to always keep his mental and physical energies engaged in Krsna Consciousness. The word “ Krsna” means karṣhati yogināṁ paramahansānāṁ chetānsi iti kṛiṣhṇaḥ –Krishna is He who forcefully attracts the minds of even the most powerfully-minded yogis and paramahansas. Arjun is thus indicating that Krishna should also attract his restless, turbulent, strong, and obstinate mind.

Bhagavad-gita 7.19 states that after many, many births, on the strength of knowledge, one surrenders to Krsna. Caring for one’s spiritual life and the physical body will gradually result in surrendering one’s deeds, words and mind into the lotus feet of the Lord, and one will undoubtedly reach one’s final destination, His spiritual kingdom.