Can Psychological issues cause extremity in devotional practices? How to deal with that?
A male devotee (Name hidden) asked like this:
Hare krishna prabhuji.. My elder sister is suffering from mental problem. After taking medicine she can’t become normal. She always want to be a devotee of Krishna and she has done many things. Bt she feels very alone & she want to go mayapur. She is saying if she will go mayapur she will become totally fine.. Bt it is impossible for this time. It is very difficult to control her. She said that she can’t feel chanting of Krishna at home so she want to go there. And she all day long crying and saying she hasn’t any hope and won’t live this life.. So pravuji plz help me.. What should i do to control my elder sister.. Bt problem is, she had read many many religious books of iskcon.. So why she is doing this now.. Plz help me pravuji
Yes. It is true. Devotion can cure psychological issues like depression and in some cases, Psychological issues can lead to extreme way of following devotion. Not only in devotion, but extremity in all thoughts and actions.
In general, normal persons are able to control their emotions considering the reality. They can deal with many tasks at a time one by one. So, they will share their concentration in diversified activities that calms down their mind.
Whereas, the persons with some psychological issues, such as depression, will show extremity in all their activities. They cry more, think any issues deeper, fear for everything and they show more emotions in everything.
Some devotees with weak mind take part in the devotional practices with extreme dedication forgetting their regular duties. They may not be aware even if anyone cheats them in spirituality.
They will blindly follow devotion losing their capacity to analyze the good and bad motives of others following devotion along with them.
Such extreme emotional approach is also a kind of psychological extremity.
Devotion is just loving and glorifying the God. One need not forget his regular duties to follow devotion. Show your love from your home and make your home like Vraja.
If anyone truly likes to follow only the devotion and nothing else, he should renounce the material life accepting sanyasa and go to the secluded place. If he fully dedicates his life for devotion alone, it is ok.
But, the problem is, even many family people, young students and employees also like to follow devotion in the same way those sanyasis do.
It is not possible and not recommended for all. For sanyasis, devotion is their only activity. For the students, grahasthas, young employees, they have some other assigned duties also. So, they should follow devotion while performing their duties.
Devotional practices should be customized according to the background of every person. A single way of following will not fit for all.
Your sister is also an example.
She has extremity in doing anything because of her psychological imbalance or depression. They will show extremity in any activity.
They will fix their mind in something and fight hard to achieve it.
If they do not get the cooperation from others, they even threaten to end their life.
These persons should be dealt with care. We can’t show our inability to them.
Since they are depressed and feel always helpless, you should try to fulfil their requests atleast to some extent.
She might have read the stories of Sri Caitanya Maha Prabhu and develop a taste in visiting Mayapur, Puri, etc.
Her expressions show that she likes to behave like Maha Prabhu since she has read them during her depressed mindset.
So, she too may like to feel the ecstasy shown by Maha Prabhu.
The point is that, all people will not show such level of emotions Maha Prabhu showed. Because Maha Prabhu was filled only with the thoughts of Krishna and hence whenever he heard the names of Krishna, he fainted in ecstasy. We are not equal to Maha Prabhu to adopt such a kind of life followed by Maha Prabhu.
AN INCIDENT IN SRI CAITANYA’s VRINDAVAN TOUR
There is an incident that shows that Maha Prabhu Himself said that he had emotional outburst to relieve His associates from the clutches of the soldiers..
Sound interesting? Yes, Once, Sri Caitanya Maha Prabhu Himself once said that he faints and fall some times because of epilepsy.
(NOTE: He might have given this reason to relieve his associates from the clutches of the soldiers and to show the reason for his ecstasy since the soldiers can’t understand the ecstasy reasons)
Let us read that part from Sri Caitanya Caritamruta, Madhya Lila, Chapter 18, titled: Lord Srī Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s Visit to Sri Vṛndavana. (Verses 159 to 213)
“While walking, Sri Caitanya Maha Prabhu, understanding that the others were fatigued, took them all beneath a tree and sat down.
There were many cows grazing near that tree, and the Lord was very pleased to see them.
Suddenly a cowherd boy blew on his flute, and immediately the Lord was struck with ecstatic love.
Filled with ecstatic love, the Lord fell unconscious to the ground. He foamed about the mouth, and His breathing stopped.
While the Lord was unconscious, ten cavalry soldiers belonging to the Mohammedan Pathana military order rode up and dismounted.
Seeing the Lord unconscious, the soldiers thought, “This sannyasi must have possessed a large quantity of gold.
“These four rogues here must have taken away that sannyasi’s riches after killing Him by making Him take the poison dhutura.”
Thinking this, the Pathana soldiers arrested the four persons and decided to kill them. Because of this, the two Bengalis began to tremble.
The devotee Kṛṣṇadasa, who belonged to the Rajaputa race, was very fearless. The Sanodiya brahmaṇa was also fearless, and he spoke very bravely.
The brahmaṇa said, “You Paṭhana soldiers are all under the protection of your king. Let us go to your commander and get his decision.
“This sannyasi is my spiritual master, and I am from Mathura. I am a brahmaṇa, and I know many people who are in the service of the Mohammedan king.
“This sannyasi sometimes falls unconscious due to the influence of a disease. Please sit down here, and you will see that He will very soon regain consciousness and His normal condition.
“Sit down here for a while and keep us all under arrest. When the sannyasi regains his senses, you can question Him. Then, if you like, you can kill us all.”
The Pathana soldiers said, “You are all rogues. Two of you belong to the district of Mathurā, and the other two, who are trembling, belong to Bengal.”
Rajaputa Krishnadasa said, “I have my home here, and I also have about two hundred Turkish soldiers and about one hundred cannons.
“If I call loudly, they will come immediately to kill you and plunder your horses and saddles.
“The Bengali pilgrims are not rogues. You are rogues, for you want to kill the pilgrims and plunder them.”
Upon hearing this challenge, the Pathana soldiers became hesitant. Then suddenly Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu regained consciousness.
Coming to His senses, the Lord very loudly began chanting the holy name, “Hari! Hari!” The Lord raised His arms upward and began to dance in ecstatic love.
When the Lord shouted very loudly in ecstatic love, it appeared to the Mohammedan soldiers that their hearts were struck by thunderbolts.
Seized by fear, all the Pathana soldiers immediately released the four persons. Thus Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu did not see His personal associates arrested.
At that time, Balabhadra Bhattacarya went to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and made Him sit down. Seeing the Mohammedan soldiers, the Lord regained His normal senses.
All the Mohammedan soldiers then came before the Lord, worshiped His lotus feet and said, “Here are four rogues.
“These rogues have made You take dhutura. Having made You mad, they have taken all Your possessions.”
Srī Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, “These are not rogues. They are My associates. Being a sannyasi beggar, I do not possess anything.
“Due to epilepsy, I sometimes fall unconscious. Out of their mercy, these four men maintain Me.”
Thus, Maha Prabhu Himself mentioned epilepsy just to save His associates from the soldier and to give reason for His ecstasy on hearing the names of Krishna or having His darshan.
What this incident shows?
The emotions and devotion are closely related to each other.
So, your sister who is already under depression might have developed a desire to visit Mayapur.
Considering her mental instability, you may positively consider her request.
Your sister is important for you. In general, the doctors advise us to take the depressed persons to the places where they like to go.
So, since your sister is fond of Mayapur, you can take her there for a week or 5 days applying leave.
If it will make her happy, why should we prevent it?
So, fulfil her request. She is important for you. She may get some relaxation by visiting Mayapur.
Also tell her that she should ask again to go to Mayapur only after an year as a condition.
Then, take her to Mayapur. Let her be happy for 4-5 days and associate with some devotees there.
Also take treatments through the psychiatrist for her depression. It is curable and there are many medications and processes to cure depression. But, regular treatment should be given without break.
So, make it as a condition to come to a doctor for her treatment and then you will take her to Mayapur.
This will help her because she will agree for treatment. Such outstation travel is very important for depressed persons.
Since she is depressed, she can’t be convinced unless her wish is fulfilled. It is genuine wish only. Consider that positively.
Hope this helps.