The Acts of Love

 ‘Acts of Love’

Dear reader, it is hard to find anything permanent in this world. We are born, we grow up, we become adults, then we grow old, and at the end die. Days and nights come and go, seasons change, the Moon chases the Sun constantly as if in celestial pursuit… The clock never stops to take a breath. We build, we sustain, time destroys. We inhale, we exhale, and die in between. We come, we go. We travel, we dance, we smile, we cry, we celebrate, we mourn. TVs, houses, cars, watches, laptops, gadgets, phones, airplanes, ships, trains–all so called comforts of modern life–we don’t take with us when death knocks on our door. We change house, country, state, one, two, three, ten times…an endless cycle, indeed!

A constant repetition, dear reader! And if you happen to subscribe to a tradition based on karmic principles (as I do), then the picture becomes even more morose– this endless and painful cycle continues life after life. Happiness and distress dance eternally in the hearts of us forgetful souls ‘Depressing,’ you might scream dear reader, and I hear you. It is depressing, it is painful, it seems hopeless. And yet, remarkably against all odds, there is always hope.

Actually, hope is the active principle of faith and so is service. Therefore, no matter how much we deny ourselves, we are made of faith. Faith in a brighter tomorrow, faith in the next moment, faith in the belief that one day the Divine will shower us with His mercy. At the end of the day, dear reader, His mercy comes to fortunate souls through the Acts of Love of His servants.

God’s servants are indeed the carriers of His mercy, the messengers of His Love. Ultimately, when God’s servants Act out of Love – when they bring the mercy, they become the spark that ignites the fire, which starts a revolution in our hearts. In turn, these fortunate souls, who happened to encounter a messenger of Love, themselves become the carriers, the messengers of His mercy. Eventually, they start Acting out of Love. Consequently, the Rain of Divine Mercy continuously showers over the heads of fortunate souls eternally. Therefore, dear reader, do not despair, hope is always waiting for you around the corner. Allow it to enter your heart.

‘We are the stories we hear.’

One of the ways to encounter God’s messengers of Love is by reading or hearing stories of the Acts of Love they have performed for others. We are the stories that we hear. Stories underpin the human condition at every step. Stories are the fundamental building blocks of our identities and relationships. We are who we are because we tell ourselves the stories of who we are. Over time, we start believing these stories and in turn, we start living them. Ultimately, the stories we are exposed to through culture, society, and art, create our sense of self and of ‘I-ness’ and ‘mine-ness.’

In this way, dear reader, over time we enter the reality of impermanence. The reality of eternal suffering that I described above. Do you remember? Fortunately, it appears that the messengers of Love always carry a basket full of books filled with transcendental stories – the stories of God and His devotees. These stories are unlike any other stories, for they point to the direction of ultimate and eternal Reality.

The stories of the Srimad Bhagavatam describe the loving exchanges between God and His eternally surrendered souls. By hearing these stories, we the forgetful souls, slowly turn our hearts towards the ultimate spiritual Reality, where God and His eternal associates live in joy and service. A Reality in which every step is a dance, every word is a song, and every moment is bliss.[1] Who would not desire to reside eternally in such Reality?! However, the only way to get in touch with this Reality is through the selfless Acts of Love by the messengers of Love. God’s servants can show us the way, they can present to us these transcendental stories, they are our only hope.

So dear reader, let me tell you the story of how I met one such messenger of Love around one corner of the world. Four years ago, when I was an exchange student at McGill University, Montreal, I happened to encounter one of God’s servants on the city campus. I was in a hurry, late for class, but somehow, out of nowhere, this little skinny lady approached me, introduced herself as a monk, and presented a book into my hands. She started speaking about the author, about chanting some ancient mantra, about the author’s relationship with the Beatles, etc.

I was generally interested in what she was speaking, as I was practicing astanga-yoga for couple of years, so I was naturally attracted to meditation, and I was vegetarian as well. At the same time, I felt I was in a ‘I know it all’ and ‘Don’t waste my time’ mood. Thus, I was being a bit impatient with her. Eventually, I felt where things were going– a donation request for the book. Therefore, I quickly got a $5 out of my wallet and was about to walk away from her for my class. However, this messenger of Love, dedicatedly continued talking to me, about the author of the book, about me coming to where her place of worship was, etc. I simply told her, rather indifferently, that I would come to the temple at some point. Then, I walked away.

I never remembered the she-monk’s name, nor did I remember her face, neither did I ever go to her place of worship. Little did I know, dear reader, that this messenger of Love, would change my life in such a fundamental way. Little did I know, that this she-monk would be instrumental in my connection with such a saintly personality as A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami and his books.

Indeed, dear reader, little did I know, that this brief Act of Love towards me, at that moment in time and space, would have had a ripple effect on my consciousness that would put me on an adventurous path of dancing with (reading) the Shrimad Bhagavatam, the eternal Reality of God, and the loving exchanges between Him and His intimate devotees.

Such is the power of a simple Act of Love. It can transform one’s life in an instant. Four years down the road, I still wonder, what the she-monk’s name is. I still try to picture her face in my mind. I still wonder if I would ever go back to Montreal at some point in the future and be able to meet her and express my gratitude. Alas, I don’t remember her name, nor do I remember now how she looked like, neither if she is still around. I can only pray in my heart for her wellbeing and spiritual advancement from afar. But at the end of the day, this is the beauty of these Acts of Love– they are rewards in themselves.

‘May your deeds be your own reward.’

 There are countless stories about the Acts of Love in the Srimad Bhagavatam, dear reader. All of them exemplifying the extraordinary compassion, self-surrender, and total dedication for the Divine Person, Sri Krishna. Stories of little boys such as Dhruva Maharaja, who walked out into the jungle to meditate and find the Divine Person. Stories of great kings such as Ambarisha Maharaja, who worshipped the Divine with all his possessions and kingly wealth. Stories of great self-surrendered devotees such as Prahlad Maharaj, who was both fearless in the face of danger and compassionate towards his enemies who were trying to kill him (his own father in this case). However, the story of the Rasa Lila is the crown jewel of the Bhagavatam. It is the Story of all Stories, which describes the glories of the greatest devotees of God, the transcendental milkmaids – the gopis of Vraj – and their loving exchanges with their Beloved Lord, Sri Krishna.

The Bhagavatam consists of 12 cantos, containing 335 chapters and 18,000 Sanskrit verses. The Rasa Lila is just 5 chapters out of the 335. It is the story that presents the highest vision of the Caitanya School of Bhakti Yoga. There are unlimited aspects and teachings on Divine Love contained in the Rasa Lila story, described by various saintly devotees throughout the centuries.

I am not going to pretend I have fully understood, what to speak of realised all the teachings in this Sacred Love Story. However, dear reader, I just want to focus your attention on one aspect that is of importance for the purposes of this essay, as it acts as a personal inspiration for me.

In the penultimate chapter of the Rasa Lila, Krishna speaks about the nature of Love and the glories of the gopi’s Love towards Him. He explains the different types of lovers– the selfish, the self-less, and the self-satisfied.[2] Ultimately, Krishna is conquered by the gopi’s Love for Him and He proclaims:

Dear ladies,

          indeed, for my sake alone

 You have abandoned the world,

          the Vedas, and

          even your relatives,

           out of love for me.

 It was out of love for you

          that I became invisible,

          though you were never

          removed from my sight.

 Therefore, you should not be

           discontented with me—

           O dearest ones,

          I am your beloved!      21

I am unable to reciprocate,

          your faultless love for me,

          your own purity,

And all that you have

          sacrificed for me,

          even over the lifetime

          of a great divinity.

Severing strong ties

          to your homes so difficult

          to overcome, you have

          lovingly worshiped me.

 May your reward be

          your own purity.          22[3]

Krishna is glorifying the gopis by explaining to them that they have sacrificed everything for Him, therefore He is unable to reciprocate appropriately. However, Krishna is breaking His promise to His devotees. In the Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna tells His devotee Arjuna that: ‘As all surrender unto Me, I reward them accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Pṛthā.’[4] However, He is so impressed with and conquered by the gopi’s self-surrender to Him, that He proclaims: ‘May your reward be your own purity.’[5]

In other words, Krishna is glorifying the highest type of Love towards Him – a Divine Love untinged by any selfish motives, expressed through self-forgetful and self-absorbing Acts of Love for the Beloved Lord. In this way, He is breaking His promise that He will reciprocate in the same way as one surrenders unto Him. The gopi’s Love for the Divine Person is so pure, that ultimately their deeds, their sacrifices, their austerities become rewards in themselves. Their deeds become Acts of Love.

So dear reader, reflecting on my experience with the she-monk from the streets of Montreal, in line with the teachings from the Rasa Lila story, makes me realise that it does not really matter if I ever remember her name. Nor does it really matter if I ever remember how she looked like. Neither does it matter if I’d ever meet and thank her again. All it matters is that four years ago, a devotee of the Lord decided to walk out on the street, to sacrifice some of her time, energy, and health. A devotee of the Divine Person, a messenger of Love, decided to stop me, Mr. Forgetful Soul, and give me attention. A devotee of the Lord that decided to dedicate herself to serve the great saintly devotees of the past. Ultimately, all that matters, dear reader, is that this devotee of the Lord decided to Act out of Love on that day, and her only reward was that very Act.     

‘All relationships are opportunities to serve.’

 Yes, dear reader, this world, this impermanent reality, may seem depressing, we may experience pain and suffering. We may struggle daily. We may inhale, exhale, and die in between. However, one sunny day, by the Grace of the Divine Person and the Acts of Love of His devotees, we can receive the Gift of ultimate Reality. We can read and hear the stories of the Bhagavatam. We can pass them on and inspire the hearts of others. We can become the messengers of Love, we can carry the baskets full of transcendental books, and we can Act out of Love for others.

We come full circle – from a receiver of God’s mercy, we are transformed to a giver of His mercy. That is the beauty and potency of a simple Act of Love. It just takes one moment, one decision, one step towards becoming a servant of others. It takes one moment, to introduce other fellow forgetful souls to the taste and inspiration of serving the Divine Person. And the best thing about it is that the Acts of Love are rewards in themselves.  Ultimately, all our relationships in this world turn into opportunities to serve others. All our relationships become arenas to share the stories of how we have received the Gift from the messengers of Love. All our relationships allows us to be the spark, that ignites the fire, which starts a revolution in the hearts of others. In turn, we allow others, to start writing and sharing their own adventurous stories.


  1. Bhaktivedanta, A., 2014. Bhagavad Gita As It Is. Watford: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
  2. Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī, 1991. Śrī Brahma-Saṁhitā. Los Angeles: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust.
  3. Schweig, G., 2005. Dance of Divine Love. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

[1] Brahma Samhita ch.5.56

[2] ‘Dance of Divine Love-Part I- Poems From The Bhagavata  Purana- p.63

[3] ‘Dance of Divine Love-Part I- Poems From The Bhagavata  Purana- p.64-5

[4] Bhagavad-Gita As It Is- 4.11

[5] ‘Dance of Divine Love-Part I- Poems From The Bhagavata  Purana- p.64-5

All relationships are opportunities to serve.

Spiritual vision transforms ordinary experiences into extraordinary and the mundane encounters into opportunities to serve and act out of Love.

Something extraordinary occurred last night, as I was walking with a friend down a London street.

We were approached by a homeless guy who was asking for some spare change.
I said: ‘Sorry, mate! We don’t have any!’
Then he replied, while walking away: ‘Oh, that’s alright! Thanks anyway, usually people curse me before I finish asking!’
I replied: ‘Well, Hare Krishna to you!’
At that moment he turned back and said to us: ‘Hare Krishna!’ Well, that took me by surprise! I thought he was going to walk away but he stopped and came back and said: ‘You know, I am Christian but I know that Krishna is the name of God! Also, I always chant Hare Krishna, before I pray to God. It sort of keeps my mind clear and helps me focus! The Hare Krishna is not a religion, it’s a lifestyle.’
He carried on: ‘I was wondering what does ‘Hare’ mean, I understand Krishna is God, but what is this ‘Hare’?’
While he was speaking, I was thinking-‘Krishna Caitanya, Your Mercy has no limits indeed! No matter what position and situation one finds him/herself, Your Holy Names somehow always find a way to touch their heart!’
I said: ‘Well, ‘Hare’ is the Divine Feminine Energy…
I wanted to add something else but something immediately cliqued in his heart, evidenced by his facial expression. He had a moment of realisation right there!
He said: ‘Oh, that makes sense… so ‘Hare’ is the energy of God! ‘Oh, thanks, I understand now!’- as he lifted his fist waiting for me to fistbump him, which I did!
He walked away being grateful…

We also headed our own way home but this brief exchange was something extraordinary indeed! It made me realise that every encounter with any soul is an opportunity to serve, to act out of Love and transcend any material limitations such as social status, body, birth, gender etc. It also reminded me that Krishna is always present in the hearts of others, waiting for us to turn to Him. It also humbled me and made me aware of my limited vision, focused on the externals (the fact that this person was homeless), something to work on. Finally, I was amused to realise that Krishna is the greatest of playwriters- always putting us in the right place, at the right time, in the right circumstances, to serve/act in His Divine Plan (lila).

Radhe, Radhe!

Hari Om Tat Sat

Continue reading “All relationships are opportunities to serve.”

Radhadesh Mellows 2019- Every kirtan tells a story.

Every kirtan tells a story.

            Stories underpin the human condition at every step. Stories are the fundamental building blocks of our identities and relationships. We are who we are because we tell ourselves the stories of who we are. Over time, we start believing these stories and in turn, we start living them. Ultimately, the stories we expose ourselves to through culture, society, and art, create our sense of self and of ‘I-ness’ and ‘mine-ness.’ In this way, we get our sense of proprietorship and control. Then, all kinds of anxieties arise, as we delude ourselves that we are in control of anything. In reality, there is only one person in control- Sri Krishna.

Fortunately, kirtan (congregational chanting of the Holy Names) is rather a purifying process, reminding us, so to speak, of the Actual controller. Indeed, kirtan cleanses the heart of all the materially binding stories. Kirtan allows us to transcend the sense of ‘I-ness’ and ‘mine-ness.’ It allows us to open our hearts to the Divine and to embrace Him with our whole beings. Kirtan does not tolerate any petty criticisms and lamentations coming from our story conditioned minds. The way kirtan destroys all these conditionings is by telling a better story, a story of a higher taste, indeed. In reality, kirtan tells the real story of the relationship between the individual soul and the Supreme Soul-and of course, it is a story of mutual Love. Only in a loving divine union (the actual meaning of yoga), can the individual soul transcend the petty sense of proprietorship and control and simply experience the ecstasy of loving exchanges with Krishna.

Of course, for a good story we need good storytellers. In terms of kirtan, the kirtaniyas engage us in their loving stories and personal relationships with the Divine, Sri Krishna. At least that seems to be the case on the surface. In reality, kirtan is such a powerful and subtle act of worshipping the Divine that every single participant contributes to the telling of the kirtan love story, so to speak. This realisation came to my mind during this year’s kirtan festival- Radhadesh Mellows. Yes, there were incredibly talented kirtan leaders that we all love to hear and yes, all of them carry in their hearts the kirtan love story and share it with us. In this sense, they perform incredible service for the rest of us, for which we should be extremely grateful. However, being in the kirtan hall, with additional 300 people or so, made me start noticing aspects of the kirtan, I did not appreciate before that moment. I started realising how the mridanga and karatals were nicely illustrating the dynamic relationship between Krishna and the individual soul. The harmonium was dictating the movements of the kirtan leaders’ fingers. The violin and the flute were nicely inviting all of us to come to the transcendental platform. Then, the smiling faces of all around me, gave me a sense of Krishna’s presence in the hall. Indeed, He was present in the hearts of everyone. Jumping up and down of people was adding yet another layer of ecstatic expressions. Even the walls and the paintings on the walls were telling their kirtan love stories. In moments like these, one forgets all of one’s stories that conditioned his/her sense of identity. In moments like these, the mind quits lamenting and starts hearing the flute, or Krishna’s Divine Calling to join the eternal dance. In moments like these, the individual soul remembers that the Divine has always loved her/him. Ultimately, kirtan tells the story about our long forgotten lover, Sri Krishna, Bhagavan!


On Wealth and Poverty- lessons from the sacred texts of India

We live in a world full of inequalities. There are all kinds of inequalities, such as economic, political, gender etc. Some claim that the problem is too much greed. Others suggest that human nature is simply flawed. Yet, others claim that the system is corrupted. The recent financial crisis saw a backlash of the many against the few. The media illustrated the events by capturing the famous slogan ‘99% vs 1%’, that is, the few that own the world’s wealth vs the masses. So how to approach such issues? What is the right thing to do? The sacred texts of Indian traditions might have some insight on the topic.

Sri Isopanisad is a compilation of mantras (sacred sounds) that might shed a bit of light on solving the issues of wealth and poverty. The Isopanisad¸ agrees on the idea that humans are flawed, but not in a deterministic way. It claims that we have four defects-(1) we are certain to commit mistakes; (2) we are subject to illusion; (3) we have propensity to cheat others; and (4) our senses are imperfect.[1] However, it proposes a theological principle, which can help us overcome these four defects, and in that way, we can actually make a difference. The Isopanisad claims that all material elements in this universe are God’s property; therefore, one should accept only one’s designated share, or quota.[2] In other words, one can develop a vision of the world/universe through which, one sees all objects, both animate and inanimate, as belonging to the Divine, rather than to oneself. In this way, we can easily overcome the four defects of our lower natures.

As far as wealth and poverty are concerned, we can easily recognise the deep-rooted implications that come with the Isopanisadic vision of the world. Let us start with our bodies. If we accept that these bodies are God’s property, we first have to start taking better care of them. Next, all other embodied beings, be they humans or animals, are God’s property; therefore, they become something to be taken care of, as well. This would mean that we should stop our slaughtering of innocent animals for the sake of our senses. Furthermore, if money is not mine, but belongs to God, then I would have to somehow be more sharing, because the job I do also belongs to God, so I do not even own the means of acquiring this money. The land, the house, the country, the water, the air, the sun, everything belongs to God, therefore, anyone who gets more than it is required for his/her maintenance, becomes a thief. Ultimately, the message of the Isopanisad is to know the Ultimate Owner, and by having such a vision of the world, we can easily overcome our defects, and also address issues such as greed, that is at the core of economic inequalities.


[1] A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad- Sri Isopanisad- Purport- Mantra 1

[2] A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad- Sri Isopanisad- Mantra 1

Monk Undercover.

Everybody wants to be a superhero or superheroine while growing up. Everybody wants to be able to fly like superman and have inhumane strength, saving innocent people from falling skyscrapers. Everybody dreams of being Batman, so they could distribute justice in their own versions of Gotham. Yet, others dream of being Wonder Woman and preserving peace amongst humanity by stopping wars from occurring. Everybody wants to be a Luke Skywalker and save the galaxy from the oppressive regimes. And the list goes on and on.

If nobody did not want to become a hero/heroine, then these stories of superheroes that we go to see in the cinema, or read in comics, would have not been so popular. The point is everybody wants to become a hero/heroine in their own movies i.e. their lives. But then, as everybody grows ups, they start realising that reality is rather different. They realise that one cannot stop people from dying in accidents, one cannot prevent injustices occurring, one cannot stop wars from occurring, and one cannot save countries from oppressive regimes. ‘Grow up!’ they all say to you. ‘Get a job, take responsibility!’ the chant goes. Sure, all these are legitimate and real claims. However, REALITY should not stop one from becoming the hero/heroine of their lives. One can be an ACTUAL hero. And yes, ACTUAL heroes do not have fictional or defying physics like powers. ACTUAL heroes have powers, human powers. ACTUAL heroes follow principles, just like fictional heroes. ACTUAL heroes get inspired from fictional heroes, but yet they act in a human way. What I am suggesting here, is an archetype of an ACTUAL hero. I call it a Monk Undercover.

Everybody can become and act like a Monk Undercover. One does not need any special qualifications. One does not need to be rich like Bruce Wayne. But one could make sacrifices for the greater good of the community. One does not need to fly like Clark Kent. But one could always find an alternative way of helping others. One does not need to carry a sword and shield to stop conflicts like Diana. But one can be peaceful themselves. One does not need a lightsabre and be a Jedi like Luke. But one can see the good in the worst of people. In other words, you can be a Monk in every moment of your existence. However, being a Monk requires cultivation of internal attributes like honesty, non-violence, tolerance, self-disciple etc., rather than external. Therefore, an ACTUAL hero is always Undercover. So get your job, take your responsibilities, buy a house, settle in, educate yourself, build up a family, have a laugh with friends, have dance with friends, read, sing, pray, live!




Grey, but authentic.

To all Bulgarian (and not only) people .

‘-Everybody looks so grey.’- whispered a voice in my head when I was in the local supermarket.

‘-Grey clothes, Grey expressions, grey predominates the whole atmosphere around me’- the internal voice kept on ranting.

This internal realization happened when I was back home in Bulgaria. I spent a whole month in my home country, as I usually do, at end of each academic year. I went to the big cities and smaller ones. I also went to some villages. However, this greyness predominated the whole atmosphere. Do not get me wrong, this phenomenon is something that I have noticed before, while growing up in Bulgaria. However, this time I made the correlation between the colour and the general mood of the people around me. Greyness emanates depressive mood. A hopeless situation. An endless cycle of negative emotions. The ridiculousness of the whole story is that if you ask anyone on the street, they will know what causes this greyness, or rather they will list a few reasons what puts them in this grey mood. For a starter, ‘everybody is corrupt, politicians are crooked, the judiciary is a complete parody’ etc. These are the top most complains. Oh, and of course my favourite the ‘we’ll never get better’ chant. I am not saying that these claims are not legitimate or not real. They are! However, organizing our entire lives around them is rather problematic. This predominating grey mood puts everybody, even the more positive inclined people, in a pathological path of pandemic depression. In addition, as most sociological studies suggest, negative emotions only lead to divisions and conflict, whereas positive emotions, lead to more cooperative patterns of social behaviour. Think about it- if I hate going to the cinema, would I be more willing to go with you to watch a movie or not? In sum, Greyness predominates the scenery.

However, no matter how pathological Bulgarian people might be at times, we are generally authentic people, when it comes to expressing our emotions. We are going to shout at your face, when we are angry. We are going to lough loudly, when we are happy. We are going to cry loudly, when we suffer some pain. We are going to stand our ground strongly, when we are passionate about something. We are going to say things directly as they are. We are not going to be passive-aggressive; we simply will be aggressive when we mean it.

Therefore, greyness is not productive, but authenticity is what keeps us sane. I would rather be grey, but speak my truth, than be bright, but fake and sugarcoat everything I say to others. Authenticity is what makes relationships work, be they family, friends, or business. Authenticity prevents future conflicts occurring. Authenticity is the mother of progress of any kind. Of course, the perfect scenario would be if we could cultivate this authenticity more often, so we can become brighter, rather than grey. Unfortunately, we are not perfect. Or as the song goes… ‘I am only human after all…’

PS: Be grey, but keep on speaking your truth.