“We can’t really tell the greatness of a person until they are put in challenging situations.”- Radhanath Swami
In the town of Satara, Maharashtra, on the banks of the Krishna and Vena Rivers lived a blind man, Bilvamangala Thakur, famous as Lila Sukha. He had such deep devotion to Krishna. He was seeing, not with his physical eyes, but through the love of his soul. He was seeing Krishna everywhere, he was experiencing Krishna’s children in everyone. So many people all around, with eyes, were not seeing what he was seeing.
He wrote a book. How did he write it! In those days, many centuries ago, there were no tape recorders. He didn’t have people to dictate to. His book is Krishna Karnamrita. Sri Chaitanya, the avatar of Sri Krishna in this age of Kali, went to Satara and discovered this book; and he proclaimed, as did so many acharyas of the Vaishnav Sampradayas, that this was one of the most important, deepest, most illuminating books ever written in the history of humanity. Sri Chaitanya kept that book with him wherever he went, because it revealed the highest most intimate spiritual revelations.
Bilvamangala Thakur didn’t have money, he was blind, but he found such ecstasy, ananda, in his love for Krishna, and he wanted to share that with the world. He gave vision to the world.
Near Govardhan in Vrindavan is Chandra Sarovar. There lived another blind man, Suradas, a direct associate of Sri Vallabhacharya. Surdas, his poems, his bhajans, the prayers that he wrote—and he wrote thousands and thousands of them sitting there under a tree near a little pond at Govardhan—it has changed the lives of tens of millions of lives throughout history. It gave vision, a vision of a philosophy of life, wherein our soul’s true motivation can be found. He spoke about Sri Sri Radha Krishna’s beautiful pastimes, their lilas; he spoke about the social necessity of living in harmony with each other keeping that divine supreme father and mother of all of us in the centre of all of our relationships. He taught a life of compassion.
Bhakti Siddanta Sarasvati Thakur, who lived in the 19th and 20th centuries, he was perhaps the greatest scholar of his day. Sarasvati Thakur was called a living encyclopaedia, because when he was young he could read books in a library and remembered every line of every book of entire libraries. He accepted as his guru Gaur Kishore Das Babaji, who was physically blind and had no education. He was a simple man, and yet Sarasvati Thakur understood that he needed to see what Babaji was seeing. He wanted to see that love of God in everyone and in everything like Babaji was seeing and he became the disciple of Gaur Kishore Das Babaji.
Challenges of live like blindness, when we meet them with integrity, determination, in a spirit of compassion and love, that is true greatness. We can’t really tell the greatness of a person until they are put in challenging situations.
– Radhanath Swami