Diary of a Traveling Preacher
Last night I had my first good sleep in months. I have a back problem which seems to be slowly getting worse, but last night it gave me no pain. A few months ago I had tests done in India, and the doctors said that two of the disks in my upper back are quite damaged, most likely resulting from the accident I had in South Africa several years ago. I suspect that the area was initially weakened from 10 years of carrying a book-bag and 30 years of playing heavy mrdungas. Constant travel also adds to the stress on the disks. I suppose these are what could be termed occupational hazards in the service of the Lord.
During the past few months the pain has become quite intense, so much so that sometimes when lecturing I lose my concentration. But mainly the pain manifests at night when I lay down and pressure shifts to my back. For six months I have tried many different medical remedies, with no relief. So as a last resort I recently wrote to Hari Priya dasi, who lives in South Africa. Although a white South African, Hari Priya is a certified sombona, a tribal doctor trained in the art of natural healing as practiced among the Zulus - a prominent South African tribe. I am generally very conservative in dealing with alternative medicine, what to speak of any "mystical" medicine. I generally prefer the allopathic approach, though I am well aware of the undesirable side affects that often accompany it. However, in the past I experienced remarkable results from Hari Priya's healing.
Just after my accident five years ago (when I was hit from behind by a van and thrown 20 meters down the road), I was laid up in bed for five months. According to the police report I should have been killed, but surprisingly my injuries, although very painful, were limited to badly damaged ligaments, muscles, and cartilage in my knees and legs. My short-term memory was also adversely affected. Most doctors said I'd have trouble walking for the rest of my life. They recommended surgery to try to correct the problem. At that point Hari Priya stepped in. She visited me and said she would call in her "angels" to help me. I thought, "Angels! What in the world are you talking about?"
However, that night I had an amazing dream. I was laying down on a bed of flowers in a beautiful forest. I was surrounded by handsome men and beautiful women bearing effulgent wings. They were bent over my knees applying a golden ointment, while singing prayers in glorification of the Supreme. At one point I told them, "I have to go and do service now!"
They smiled at me in a compassionate way and said, "Service can wait for now. We've been sent to treat you. Be still for once in your life!" When I asked who they were they replied in unison, "We're angels of mercy!" At that I woke up.
Without being conscious of it, I got out of bed and walked to the bathroom. On the way back to my bed, I stooped over and put a Prabhupada bhajan in the tape recorder. Then I got back in bed and pulled the covers over me. Suddenly it dawned on me - for months I had been unable to go to the toilet unassisted! My eyes opened wide when I realized I had just walked back and forth to the toilet alone. Of course, my legs hurt from the endeavor, and my doctor probably would have scolded me severely - but I had done it! I reflected on my dream as if it was a real-life experience and thought to myself, "What's going on here? Angles of mercy! Is this real?"
When asked about dreams, Srila Prabhupada said they are generally nonsense, but I suppose there are exceptions to the rule. I don't know if angels actually came to help me, but when I saw Hari Priya that day and shared my dream with her she just nodded her head convincingly and smiled.
During the weeks that followed I made rapid progress in my recovery. Boy, were the devotees surprised when they saw me dancing at the Ratha-yatra festival one month later on the streets of Durban! My final conclusion:
Srila Prabhupada said, "The best plan is the one that works."
When writing to Hari Priya about my back I asked if angels needed visas to visit Russia and if they could tolerate the cold! She said she'd inquire. After last night's painless sleep I must say, "Bless those angels souls!"