I was walking alone through the Himalayan forest and I came into a leprosy colony, where all these people – this was at a time when nobody cared anything about the lepers; society just pretended they did not exist – they were just laying in the cold ground of the Himalayas. They had rags. Some were naked; some no fingers, no nose; and they surrounded me, about a dozen of them, demanding I give them Baksheesh, donation. But I didn’t have anything; I was just a little sadhu roaming around. After about 20 min or half hour they finally searched me completely and let me go. And as I was walking away I saw an old dying leper woman. She had no nose. Her face was decomposed and it was deranged. She had no fingers; no toes; hardly any hair. She was just laying and she sat up and she looked at me. With a glance of a mother for a child, she looked at me in such a way that I felt that she felt the pain I was in when her people were harassing me. And she put her hand out to bless me and I felt such a love from her and it was real. I ran over and put my head under her hand. I was bowing down to her and in Hindi she was saying “May God bless u my child. May God bless u my child.” I looked up and she was smiling. She only had a few teeth and her eyes were glistening with tears. Her heart was yearning possibly for long years to bless a child and I was giving her that chance to bless me. And I remember thinking something that will be difficult for you to understand, because I was born and raised in America in 50’s and 60’s, I used to go to the movies – Hollywood and all of that.
When I looked up at her… I have never seen anyone so beautiful as her. Her physical form didn’t change. But I could see her heart. She was just yearning to love and for someone to receive her love. And I remember thinking that we should not judge anything or anyone just according to the external situations. If we go deep, everyone, that’s all they really want – is to love and be loved. That’s the nature of our hearts – ‘ananda mayo bhyasat’. Later I learnt from the Brahma Sutras that every living being is seeking pleasure. The pleasure of the mind and the pleasure of the senses could give some little enjoyment. But it’s very shallow and it’s soon to evaporate. The only pleasure that can touch the heart is to love – to give love and to receive love. And the origin of that tendency within all of us is the atma, the eternal soul’s natural love for God, for Krishna and to experience the unlimited infinite sweet beautiful love of Krishna for us.
– Radhanath Swami