The Divine Service of Krishna
Krishna is the highest—the Supreme Personality of Godhead. There are five types of rasas or divine ecstasies. Every rasa is fully present in Krishna. The servitors of Krishna are all happy in His exclusive service. There are so many religious conceptions to be found in the world. Some favour santa-rasa [peacefulness], others dasya-rasa [servitude], or sakhya-rasa [friendship], or vatsalya-rasa [parenthood]. But madhura-rasa [divine consorthood] is found in the extreme only in the line of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
For example, Jesus Christ introduced himself as a son of God, and so he showed us the Fatherhood of Godhead, taking himself as the son. That is taken as the highest relationship, and the kingdom of God is taken as heaven. This was Jesus’ explanation to the general mass. We see that his conception and that of the Vaisnavas is sometimes quite similar. Guru Maharaj also showed appreciation for Christianity. But the highest goal is madhura-rasa, and that is possible only by worshipping Krishna in various ways. That type of service is not explained anywhere in the general scriptures, such as the Bible and the Koran. It is given in Srimad Bhagavatam, the glories of which were sung by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. It was He who distributed in the world the rasa of madhurya, divine sweetness. The good souls who are attracted by this sweetness cannot be attracted anywhere else except to the lotus feet of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and they thus begin the worship of Lord Krishna.
The domain of Krishna is Goloka. We should know of two basic divine natures of the Lord: madhurya and audarya. In madhurya, the Lord enjoys His own divine loving sweetness with His eternal associates. But in His mood of audarya, He is always employing different ways to distribute divine ecstasy to the pure souls, the devotees.
In the Koran, we hear of Khoda and banda. Khoda means ‘God’ and banda means ‘servant’. There also we find a relationship between God and the soul. And in the line of Christ, the supreme relationship is shown as father and son. We have seen in the Song of Solomon only a hazy mention of consorthood. Actually, all the religions of the world generally reach to Brahmaloka, or the nondifferentiative plane of the Absolute. Before Brahmaloka, the plane of Brahma, is the river called Viraja, but beyond Brahmaloka, is the divine plane of Vaikuntha. Our devotional life starts in Vaikunthaloka. This is Vaisnavism. Sankar Acharya’s conception of nirvises or nirakar—an impersonal or formless ‘God’—is only the plane of Brahma. But our Vaisnava sastras or scriptures say that He has divine form.
Although we cannot perceive it, within the sun there are also many forms. If we observe a jungle from afar, we see only a mass. But when we enter a jungle, we can properly observe so many things—birds, beasts, trees, flowers, and other beings—all engaged in their mutual affairs within the jungle. Similarly, from a distance, people say, “God is this. God is that. He has no form.” They describe Him according to their vision. But if we exclusively try to know the form of God and the domain of God, we shall have to come to the conception of Vaikunthaloka. From there, five rasas progressively appear, culminating in Krishnaloka. Krishnaloka is the highest plane, as confirmed in Srimad Bhagavatam:
ete chamsa-kalah pumsah krsnas tu bhagavan svayam
indrari-vyakulam lokam mrdayanti yuge yuge
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 1.3.28)
“The descents of the Lord are either His plenary portions or portions of those portions. In every age, They descend to relieve the world of the disturbance created by demons. But the original form of Godhead is Krishna, the son of Nanda.”
Everything auspicious that one may see with the eye of transcendence has its origin in Krishna. This interpretation is given in Srimad Bhagavatam. The Supreme Personality has everything. In Him, there are not only the five kinds of chief rasas or mukhya-rasas, there are also the indirect or gauna-rasas. Everything is in Him, and everything is auspicious in Him.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came to distribute the ecstasy of our transcendental life. And after Mahaprabhu, many of His pure followers or associates, parsads, came into this world. In this way, we think ourselves most fortunate to have as our guardian Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj. We are trying to serve him to our best capacity in the company of the Vaisnavas. That is our happiness. I am very happy when devotees from all over the world come here to Sri Nabadwip Dham for transcendental life, leaving aside the mundane. We are trying to practise in the plane of seva—divine service. That alone can give us the highest goal.
In this mundane world, there are the methods of karma, jnan, and yoga, or works, knowledge, and meditation. But every method cannot take us to the Absolute, although every method is somehow connected with the line of bhakti, devotion. Otherwise, they have no substance or factual existence. In Srimad Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krishna has said,
sarvam karmakhilam partha jnane parisamapyate
“Works ultimately culminate in knowledge.”
tapasvibhyo ’dhiko yogi jnanibhyo ’pi mato ’dhikah
karmibhyas chadhiko yogi tasmad yogi bhavarjuna
yoginam api sarvesam mad gatenantaratmana
sraddhavan bhajate yo mam sa me yuktatamo matah
“I consider the yogi superior to the performer of austerity, superior to the worshipper of Brahma, and superior to the worldly worker. Therefore, Arjuna, be a yogi. And of all yogis, supreme is the faithful devotee who surrenders unto Me and serves Me with all his heart.”
Thus, the jiva-soul may progress in devotional life up to exclusive devotion, ananya-bhakti. He must be the gainer, and with the blessings of Sadhu, Guru, and Vaisnava, he must come to the service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Service is life. Everybody is always doing something—thinking, feeling, and willing. It is the nature of the jiva-soul in this world to be always active. But if he functions properly, in the line of devotion, that is called seva, and he becomes the greatest gainer. So, we are trying to maintain our spiritual life under the guidance of Guru and Vaisnava. Our spiritual life is the service of Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Gandharva Govindasundar.
We are living souls; we are not dull matter. If we are not scholarly, it does not matter. We can communicate by heart. One boy came here from Hungary—he could not even speak to us. He could not even say, “I want to eat something.” Still, he stayed with us happily for about four or five weeks without difficulty, maybe a little of course, but negligible. In this way, our sraddha or faith will guide us.
Guru Maharaj always directed his devotees to engage themselves twenty-four hours daily in the service of the Lord. In this way, you can ignore the mundane world, and you must reach your destination. Some may engage themselves in fasting for spiritual life. It is very commendable that they want spiritual life, but in spiritual advancement, we still need to maintain our mundane body. The safest course is to follow the line of Srila Rupa Goswami:
anasaktasya visayan yatharham upayunjatah
nirbandhah krsna-sambandhe yuktam vairagyam uchyate
(Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu: Purva-vibhaga, 2.255)
[“Yukta-vairagya is said to be the detachment of one who with disinterest accepts objects favourable to the practice of devotion. Krishna’s relativity is the predominant factor.”]
The purport is that the person who is detached from mundane objects yet eager for objects associated with Krishna accepts with the spirit of detachment objects conducive to his devotion while rejecting those unconducive to it. His detachment is known as integrated detachment. For example, we cannot live in this world without food, but that food should be the prasadam of Krishna and Mahaprabhu.
yajna-sistasinah santo muchyante sarva-kilbisaih
bhunjate te tv agham papa ye pachanty atma-karanat
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 3.13)
Those who cook for themselves are eating sinful things. But those who cook for the Deity, for Krishna, for Bhagavan—God—and take His remnants, as His mercy—they proceed correctly. They will not be attacked by maya. They will not be attacked by Kali or the onslaught of sin. Everybody has some good qualities, no doubt; and in the absolute sense, there is no sin in the jiva-soul. Sin is a mayik form—an illusory form.
ahankara-nivrttanam kesavo nahi duragah
ahankara-yutanam hi madhye parvata-rasayah
“Kesava, Krishna, can be found in the company of the selfless, but the egotistic are mountains apart from Him.”
When we think ‘this is mine’, that is called ahankar. This boy is my son, this man is my father, this house is my house’—such consciousness that ‘this is mine’ is called maya. And when that type of shadow comes over us, we cannot see the sun. Like a cloud. A cloud comes in the sky and blocks our view of the sun. Maya is like this. When the illusion of ahankar or false ego comes over us, we cannot see God. But in the light of God, we can see maya, and in the light of the jiva-soul, we can see our ahankar. In this way, we can realise everything. Our realisation will come in this way, and this is the proper way.
In Praise of the Devotees
Sometimes it is necessary to have an ista-gosthi. An ista-gosthi is when devotees gather together and discuss various questions they may have. This is also an opportunity to harmonise difficulties between devotees.
After one or two years of my joining here at Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, we would regularly hold an ista-gosthi. Lunch would be finished by 1 p.m., and then the ista-gosthi would last for the hour between 2 and 3 p.m. All the devotees staying in the Math would sit together and attend. Sometimes Srila Guru Maharaj would join the group, and he had a special way to manage us.
The general understanding is that a devotee is one who is fully devoted to the Lord. But in Vaisnavism, the real devotee of Krishna is considered to be he who is fully devoted to Sri Guru-Vaisnava. Krishna Himself said,
ye me bhakta-janah partha ne me bhaktas cha te janah
mad bhaktanam cha ye bhaktas te me bhakta-tama matah
“Who is devoted to Me is not My real devotee, but one who is devoted to My devotee is My real devotee.”
By means of the ista-gosthis, Srila Guru Maharaj gave much chance for the devotees to praise each other. Sometimes two devotees may clash with one another, each having a different opinion. One would want to go in one direction, the other in another direction, thus their minds would clash, and they may insult each other. Srila Guru Maharaj would harmonise them by calling them both and asking each to praise the other: “Describe the good qualities of this devotee.” In this way, Srila Guru Maharaj taught us how to praise Vaisnavas without looking at their faults.
Srila Guru Maharaj used the expression, “You are not a drain inspector.” He would explain, “You are a searcher, a searcher of Krishna consciousness. Your position is not that of a drain inspector. An ant searches for a hole to use for his own purpose. Without searching for any holes, see only the good qualities of the Vaisnavas and follow that.”
In this way, Srila Guru Maharaj organised the classes of ista-gosthi so that the devotees could come together and praise each other. It was also a chance for devotees to ask any questions they may have. Srila Guru Maharaj would encourage the devotees to answer each others’ questions. In this way, he managed our minds. We must be tolerant, we must be humble, and we must give honour to other devotees.
If we read Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta, we can understand all the siddhanta. But in which way can we follow the line of Srila Rupa Goswami and the other goswamis? This we can easily understand through the books of Srila Guru Maharaj. There are many questions answered there.
I have not had a chance to read all the books of Srila Guru Maharaj, but I am very satisfied with their titles. When I hear the name of the book The Loving Search for the Lost Servant, I can immediately remember Krishna’s Pastimes as described in Sri Brhad-bhagavatamrtam. In The Loving Search for the Lost Servant, there is a very nice picture of Krishna embracing a lost servant, and this is the theme of its title.
Only love can give us all the wealth of transcendental happiness, but in the material conception, only its shadow is found, and it is bad. We cannot see everything of the origin in the shadow. In the negative world, all must be negative, and in the positive world, all are positive.
In this mundane world, paramour love is not praiseworthy, but the opposite is the case in the transcendental world. The only enjoyer there is Krishna. Everyone is engaged in supplying materials for His enjoyment, and therefore everything there is very joyful, auspicious, and transcendental.
Krishna engages in a loving search for His own satisfaction. In the positive world, the loving search is in a positive way. Krishna is the enjoyer, but He feels some deficiency in enjoyment because His servant is lost. He has everything, but He wants to give enjoyment to His lost servant.
He gave freedom to us, but we misused it and therefore came within the mundane world. We try to enjoy mundane things, and therefore we are also searching. We are searching for happiness, but happiness is not found here. So, we are unfulfilled. A person here feels, “If I have five rupees, I will be happy.” Then, having five rupees, “If I have ten rupees, I will be more happy.” Then, “A hundred rupees is necessary, then I’ll be happy.” Similarly, we try to collect for ourselves kanak, kamini, and pratistha (wealth, enjoyment, and fame), but always we become dissatisfied.
te tam bhuktva svarga-lokam visalam
ksine punye martya-lokam visanti
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 9.21)
“After enjoying that great, extensive, heavenly happiness, the residents of heaven, with the depletion of their piety, then enter the human plane.”
abrahma-bhuvanal lokah punar avartino ’rjuna
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 8.16)
“From the planet of Lord Brahma downwards, the residents of all planets are naturally subjected to repeated birth and death.”
We are moving in such a way throughout the mundane world, the brahmanda. But Krishna is searching for us: “Where is that soul who misused his freedom?” He sees everything, but He does not interfere. The only reason He does not interfere is that He wants that each one will willingly serve Him.
When someone crosses over illusion and enters the transcendental service world, particularly the super-service section which is under the guidance of madhura-rasa, Krishna immediately embraces that devotee, “Oh, after so long I am seeing you. I know service to Me is your life’s goal, and now after so long you have come back to your home. I have been always wondering when you will come.” Such is Krishna’s nature.
In Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta, it is related how Sri Gopalji hiddenly stayed on Giriraj Govardhan, and how, when Madhavendra Puri came nearby, He supplied him some milk and then gave a dream to him, saying, “I am waiting for you and the time that you will come here, take Me out, and arrange My seva. I have to undergo so much austerity here. In the winter, I have no clothes; in the summer, I have no fan. Every day, no one comes to feed Me. I am fasting, but every day I am waiting for the day you will come and take Me, and give Me nourishment.”
om purnam adah purnam idam purnat purnam udachyate
purnasya purnam adaya purnam evavasisyate
The Lord is full. He is full of everything, but His deficiency is found in love. It is not actually a deficiency, but it is His Pastime, His lila. He is feeling deficiency, and when His servitors serve Him, Krishna happily accepts and gives in return the opportunity of more and more service. But until that point when the servitor comes to willingly serve Him, Krishna waits for that lost servant.
Krishna is full of joy, ecstasy, and everything, but it is His Pastime that He wants to play. Therefore, there must be both positive and negative, otherwise He cannot play. In the positive world is also one kind of ‘negativeness’, otherwise He cannot play, and that is called separation. Srila Guru Maharaj is living and present here today, but we are unable to see his form. In this way, in a negative way, we feel Srila Guru Maharaj’s presence, but it is also positive. In the positive world, everything is positive, but when the play will take place, a type of negativity must come. That ‘negative’ is not like the negativity of this mundane plane. The negative of the higher plane is always helping the positive. To the degree of its necessity, ‘negativity’ will come, and that is called separation.
Union in separation is the topmost ideal of the transcendental world. For the play of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, separation gives more and more ecstasy.
krsna-mayi—krsna yara bhitare bahire
yaha yaha netra pade, taha krsna sphure
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Adi-lila, 4.85)
When Krishna hides, His form is always before Radharani. She can never be without Krishna. In this way, union in separation is the highest goal of life. When there is union, devotees are no doubt happy, but they need more happiness! And that comes through separation. That is shown in Krishna-lila, where His separation from the gopis lasted one hundred years. But this is all inconceivable. Such a position is unimaginable, and it is also not good to try to imagine it.
Sometimes to have direct association may be considered to be bad. One day, Rupa Goswami Prabhu invited Sanatan Goswami to take sweet rice, but when Sanatan Goswami understood that the ingredients had been supplied by Srimati Radharani, he was very unhappy: “We want to worship Her, and if we can do even a little service for Her, we consider that to be the fulfilment of our lives. But, seeing the wish of Rupa, She is trying to serve us.”
The higher souls do not want to see Krishna. Raghunath Das Goswami said, “What shall I do with Krishna? I need to serve You, Radharani, and if You give that chance, it will be the fulfilment of my life. But without Your service, I do not want to serve Krishna directly.”
The Gaudiya–Vaisnavas, especially the Rupanuga sampradaya, do not follow Mirabai because she shows herself to be directly connected with Krishna. Rather they think, “We are the servitors of the servitors of the servitors of Radharani.” This is our line, and in this way we will get the fulfilment of our transcendental life.
When the real Vaisnavas get some sight of Krishna, they think it is illusion, and they are not satisfied with it. Even Mahaprabhu Himself expressed,
na prema-gandho ’sti darapi me harau
krandami saubhagya-bharam prakasitum
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 2.45)
He could not tolerate separation from Krishna, and therefore He cried. But while crying, He expressed, “Nothing I have is sufficient for Krishna. Actually, I have no love for Krishna. Why am I crying for Krishna? Simply as a show to others. But it is not real love, because if it is real love, then I would not be able to live. I would certainly die for Him. But I am not dead.”
When the Vaisnavas see Krishna, they think what they see is illusion: “I am too unqualified; it is not possible for me to see Him. It must be illusion. I do not want to see Him in this way.”
They want to see Krishna living with Radharani, and that is the real form of Krishna. That is where Krishna is supremely happy. And that is our goal.
Leaving aside that ideal, we can see Krishna in His Pastimes in many places: in Dvaraka, in Mathura, in Hastinapur, and so on. In each place of His Pastimes, He is present, but the Gaudiya–Vaisnavas have no specific connection there. They do not go to Dvaraka or Hastinapur, and they even do not go to Mathura. They do not like to see the appearance place of Krishna.
The mood of the Rupanuga sampradaya is that our line is very fine. Srila Guru Maharaj was very heavy and strict on this point.
For the service of this Math, we started running pilgrimage tours to different places around India to bring in funds and to attract good people. At first, we started Purusottam Dham—Puri Dham—parikrama. Each advertising pamphlet we made was composed under the very careful guidance of Srila Guru Maharaj to ensure it followed the line of the Rupanuga sampradaya.
Later, we went to Badarik Ashram, but it is the place of Nara-Narayan, so what relevance does it hold for the Gaudiya-Vaisnavas? Nothing directly. But we wanted to go because pilgrims would automatically want to join such a tour, thereby helping the Math. Therefore, I asked Srila Guru Maharaj, “Please indicate how we can go there and still keep its relevance to our line.” Then Srila Guru Maharaj gave the connection that a short distance after Badarik Ashram is the place of Vyasadev, his cave. “If you wish to go there for the service of this Math, you must not break the line of the Gaudiya–Vaisnavas. You must indicate Vyasadev’s cave in the pamphlet.” He instructed me to mention in the pamphlet the connection with Nityananda Prabhu’s pilgrimages and the ashram of Vedavyas and Sukadev Goswami as the motive.
When I planned a pilgrimage tour to Dvaraka, Srila Guru Maharaj said that if we go to Dvaraka, we must also go to Kuruksetra, otherwise it will not be able to be harmonised within our Gaudiya–Vaisnavas’ line.
Srila Guru Maharaj never gave permission to leave the track of the Rupanuga sampradaya to go along any other sampradaya’s track. We are running in the Rupanuga sampradaya, so we are not to leave our track to go to see with any other’s vision.
The gopis went to Kuruksetra, but we must remember why they went. The place where there is extreme separation from Krishna is Kuruksetra. Krishna as the head of the Yadavas was present there with many of His wives. They were all highly decorated. The gopis were very poor, and they thought, “Krishna is our Krishna, but they are enjoying with Him. We need this Krishna, but not in the way we see Him before us now.”
Srimati Radharani feels, “Krishna is present in front of us, and He has met with us. I am that same Radharani, and Our meeting is not false. It has actually happened, but it is not giving Me any actual satisfaction.”
The Rasa-lila also happened there, but She further mentions, “Here, we are meeting and dancing with Krishna, but I am very unsatisfied and unhappy. How will I be happy? If this Krishna will go to the banks of the Yamuna and play with us as we did before, then I shall be happy.”
In an extended way, this has been preached by Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur and Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj also, but after Srila Saraswati Thakur, Srila Guru Maharaj became the helmsman and took firm control of the rudder. All the godbrothers of Srila Guru Maharaj came to have his association because of this. Because Srila Guru Maharaj was controlling the whole of the Rupanuga sampradaya, they all came to him. He was not only controlling, but he was guiding everyone. Srila Guru Maharaj tried to help everyone.
The holder of the rudder—the helmsman—was Srila Guru Maharaj, and he always was keeping the key of the iron-safe. Everyone respected him in this way. This was also the idea behind the design of his Samadhi Mandir. He is the treasurer, therefore his Samadhi Mandir must give some impression of a treasury. All the big, big personalities—everyone—respected Srila Guru Maharaj for that cause. He is accepted by all as holding the post of the leader of our sampradaya.
If you read the introduction pamphlet of any of the parikramas that we organised—to West India, South India, Purusottam Dham, Badarik Ashram, and other places—you will be able to understand how Srila Guru Maharaj harmonised each tour in accordance with the line of our sampradaya. We must harmonise everything to stay on the track. We must not leave the track, and Srila Guru Maharaj was careful to guard against that. It is very hard to guide in that line.
Gopa Kumar went onwards from one place to another, but only was he satisfied when he reached Vraja Dham and the embrace of Krishna. Krishna said, “And I have been waiting for you. For so long I have been waiting for you. Now I am satisfied.” Both of them fainted—Krishna and His devotee. That is the heart of Krishna; you can understand.
Sometimes Krishna’s wives in Dvaraka cannot get His association. They sleep with Him, talk with Him, and serve Him, but they sometimes say, “We do not have real Krishna. Whom we are worshipping, that is not really Krishna. We may serve His body, but His mind is absent. In this way, to whom we are rendering service is not full Krishna.” Such is their expression.
The mood of Krishna is that He is always searching for rare services. He is not eager to accept what comes easily to Him. That nature, in a negative way, is also found in the mundane plane.
Actually, I do not have time to read the scriptures. If we read the scriptures, we must be misguided through the books, but if we get the association of a good Vaisnava who is a master, then there is no chance to be misguided. Scriptures themselves give the advice of Krishna, Vyasadev, and so many others: “Try to get good Vaisnava association and render them service.”
If you try to read, you must be misguided, otherwise why did Mahaprabhu say, “You go and read Srimad Bhagavatam in front of a Vaisnava who knows its meaning.”
The good servitors of Srila Guru Maharaj are the wealth of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math. The real wealth is the devotees, and I am trying to serve you all with whatever I have. I want your association really. I am receiving transcendental food from you. When I see you, I think, “I have service”, but to be alone is not good for anyone, even myself. We are trying always to do service, no doubt, but sometimes we must be worried, and that is painful. But with the devotees, it becomes not painful but hopeful and happy. Everyone wants relaxation, and my relaxation is to be with the devotees.
Srila Guru Maharaj is very happy with this programme of daily English class on his Samadhi Mandir, the Temple of Union in Separation. This Samadhi Mandir is not here just for show, but it is to be used in the service of Srila Guru Maharaj. Real service is to glorify the Vaisnavas headed by Srila Guru Maharaj and his associates.
This programme of glorification of Srila Guru Maharaj through his associates and devotees must continue here every day. In that way, Srila Guru Maharaj will be even more happy.
Secure at Home
Question: In Srimad Bhagavad-gita, it says that the jiva-soul when in the spiritual world is perfect, but when in the material world is fallible. Therefore, my question is, how can the infallible spirit soul change his perfect nature thereby falling into this material world?
Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj: There is the spiritual world and the material world, but in between them is the middle section, the abscissa. Jiva-sakti is the middle potency of the Lord. There is maya-sakti, jiva-sakti, and svarup-sakti. Maya-sakti is the garden of the material world, and svarup-sakti is the garden of the spiritual world, but the jiva-souls are being produced from the middle portion: jiva-sakti.
Originally, the jiva-souls are coming from the middle potency, and by nature they are generally looking towards the light and are going there to the spiritual world. But a few of the jiva-souls are unfortunately looking towards the mundane world. They are attracted by that, and that is who we are. That percentage is very very small. By far, the greater percentage are going towards the spiritual world.
Those who are looking towards maya are feeling, “Oh, we are the soul. We are light, but there is darkness, and we are masters of that dark world.” This is their misfortune. They are attracted and are coming towards maya. The jiva-souls are produced from the middle section and are very tiny, and therefore some are attracted by maya although most are attracted by the light, the spiritual realm, and are going there. Although there are only relatively only a few who are coming here, still that means crores and crores, but that is few compared with the whole spiritual universe.
The fallen jiva-souls are coming here from the middle portion, but there are others who are coming from the light section, but they are not fallen. Amongst them are Sadhu, Guru, Vaisnava, Bhagavan, and many Avatars. They are coming here in order to take the jiva-souls towards the world of light. Whoever goes to the light world, the spiritual world, does not come back to this plane as a fallen soul, but sometimes may come down by the will of Krishna in order to rescue the fallen jiva-souls. Whoever is serving in the transcendental world does not come back here. Only by the will of Krishna someone may come here, but that is not ‘falling down’. We can also see the case of Jaya and Vijaya. They were Vaikuntha gate-keepers and came down here, but that was by the will of Krishna. And they went back also.
Anyone who is living in the spiritual world or who goes there does not come back here (Bg: 15.6): yad gatva na nivartante. Whoever is living there is always living there, and they will only come back from that world in order to rescue the jiva-souls from this plane and take them to the spiritual world. Those who are living in this world are the fallen souls, but there is no possibility for those who are living in the transcendental world to come back here as fallen souls; only they may return here by the will of Krishna. Everything there is the will of Krishna; it may be offence or anything, but it is all happening by His will. One who is living here can go there, and once he goes there he will not return.
Not only the perfect jiva-soul may come here by the Lord’s wish, but also the transcendental plane can come here and play. Krishna with His whole paraphernalia comes down to this mundane world, and they play here, but their play is the play of the transcendental plane. Transcendental means infinite. The transcendental plane is always infinite. Krishna can go anywhere and do anything, so He can come down to this plane. Also, He can expand any place and can contract any place. Everything is possible, and that is the meaning of transcendental.
Anyone living in this mundane plane who does not have a permanent residential permit for the spiritual world may fall down, even though he may have attraction to that plane. Up to and including the stage of mahabhagavat, there is always the possibility of going down again in this mundane world. A mahabhagavat can also fall down, but not from the transcendental world. When the transcendental world comes here and appears to be attracted to this world, it is not attachment really. It may appear to be attachment, but there is no possibility for the transcendental to be mixed with the mundane.
mayadhyaksena prakrtih suyate sa-characharam
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 9.10)
Maya, the mundane plane, is always like a shadow. But the abscissa is everywhere, otherwise there cannot be both light and shadow. In the middle, there is always an abscissa, tatastha-sakti, and that is where the jiva-souls are coming from by the will of Krishna. Krishna is looking at the jiva-sakti.
Tal-lingam Bhagavan Sambhur: He is throwing His vision of jiva-sakti, and there the jiva-sakti is immediately active. Although ultimately it is the ray of Krishna, it actually is the ray of Narayan. Really Krishna is not interested in doing that. Rather, He is playing with His paraphernalia and is not interested in the mundane plane. What He is producing is transcendental. It has no connection with maya. But Narayan, Visnu, is always in the middle portion.
The upper level of the spiritual world is Krishnaloka, the lower level is Brahmaloka, and the middle portion is the area of Visnu, Narayan, and many Avatars. In that section are Karanodakasayi Visnu, Garbhodakasayi Visnu, Ksirodakasayi Visnu, the Purus-avatars, Lila-avatars, Yuga-avatars, and many more. Each of their worlds is transcendental and infinite. Where Nrsimhadev is staying is also the transcendental world and is infinite, but with our puppy brains we cannot imagine it. It is called achintya-sakti. It is beyond prakrti, beyond our thinking.
At the same time, Krishna can take His food through His mouth, through His hand, and through His feet. It is so. In the mundane world, we cannot think that it is possible, but it is true in the transcendental world. The transcendental world is infinite. Where Krishna is staying, that is the transcendental world and infinite, similarly, it is so with Ramachandra and other incarnations of Krishna. Everywhere it is transcendental, but we are unable to think of such things. It is called achintya. All the worlds are infinite, but we cannot accommodate that within our puppy brains. It is not possible. But a devotee can clearly understand all these things because he has strong faith. When Krishna says, “This is a rope”, then certainly this is a rope, but if Krishna says, “This is a snake”, then, “Oh yes, it is a snake.”
At present, we do not have the transcendental type of knowledge, but when illusion will leave us, then we shall be able to see everything in the proper way by Krishna’s grace. With our thoughts, we may be able to go to the opposite side of the world and think about what is happening there, but the transcendental plane is above and beyond the mind. Sometimes, if we see the transcendental plane, we may find that we are too close to see clearly, but can focus better from far away. If I hold the newspaper too close, then my eyes cannot focus on the print, but from a proper distance, I can read it clearly.
Proper adjustment is necessary with everything. We may want to see what Pastimes are going on in Vrndavan at this moment, but we cannot. The morning, the evening, and all things there are going on transcendentally. First, we must go there, get entrance there, and then we shall be able to see everything. By chanting the Hare Krishna mahamantra without offence, we shall be able to see everything as clear as daylight. Otherwise, we cannot understand the infinite nature of the transcendental world. If you can think you can make a garland out of all the peaks of the Himalayas and the peaks of all the mountains of the world and offer that to Krishna, and if you think you can make a rope out of spiders’ webs and bind an elephant, then you may be able to understand something of that plane.
So, it is not necessary to think too much, but instead our main attention is to try to chant ‘Hare Krishna’ properly. This is our main channel to go there, and this is our one hope.
Our Lifeline of Devotional Practice
naham tisthami vaikunthe yoginam hrdaye na cha
mad-bhaktah yatra gayanti tatra tisthami narada
The Lord said, “I am not living in Vaikuntha, and I am not living in the hearts of the yogis, but I remain where My devotees are singing My glories.” Krishna can be found wherever His glories are being chanted by His devotees. So, the main thing in our life is that we need the association of the devotees. Therefore, wherever there is a regular devotional programme continuing by His devotees with chanting, we should try to attend. It is within vidhi-marg, and if we follow vidhi—a regulated devotional programme, it will give some adjustment in our life.
Srila Prabhupad Saraswati Thakur preached:
matala hari-jana kirtana-range
pujala raga-patha gaurava-bhange
This is inscribed above the front entrance of the Nat Mandir here at Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, and later a picture relief has come out above it illustrating its meaning. Gaurava-bhange means that there are some rules and regulations. From afar, we shall worship the raga-patha, the path of spontaneous affectionate service, while we ourselves live within the Vedic guideline.
If we think that we have become a gopi, that is not the real feeling. But if we think that we want to become a servant of the gopis, that is the real thing. The process is sravanam and kirtanam. When we have established ourselves in the plane of full dedication, from there we shall start our real bhajan life under the guidance of a sadhu.
Question: So, what is the actual meaning of gaurava-bhange?
Srila Govinda Maharaj: Gaurava means vidhi. Narayan is the gaurava Deity. But gaurava-bhange means the honourable guide-line of the scriptures, and from that position we are always to give honour from afar to raga-marg. Raga-marg is a very high plane. Why? Because in that plane there is only affectionate attachment to Krishna. That is the plane of affectionate service.
Question: In this verse, what is the reference to gaurava-bhange? In what way is this verse referring to vidhi?
Srila Govinda Maharaj: Matala Hari-jana kirtana-range and pujala raga-patha gaurava-bhange: this is our life’s goal. Kirtan is the first stage and also the last stage. Kirtan can take us from the lowest level to the highest level, raga-marg. We start our practising life through kirtan.
yajnaih sankirtana-prayair yajanti hi su-medhasah
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 11.5.32)
Yajanti means bhajanti: worshipping Mahaprabhu by the process of chanting the Hare Krishna mahamantra and following His sankirtan movement.
Question: I have always understood that the verse matala Hari-jana kirtana-range means that our highest ideal is raga-marg, and, keeping it above us, we worship it from afar.
Srila Govinda Maharaj: The correct idea is that we must always think it to be above us, otherwise we shall go down to the sahajiya line. If we say that someone is a gopi, it is perfect sahajiyaism—perfect imitation. That is real sahajiyaism. But if we say that someone looks like a gopi, that is not sahajiyaism. We have some idea of what a gopi looks like, so if we think that a particular lady looks like a gopi, that will not be sahajiyaism. But we have no right to say it actually, otherwise immediately we shall be on the mundane platform.
No doubt someone is qualified to say so, but we shall not think that we ourselves have the right to even take the name of the gopis. Throughout the whole of Srimad Bhagavatam, Srila Sukadev Goswami did not once mention the name of Srimati Radharani. This is because he tried to guard his discourse from sahajiyaism. During that meeting with Maharaj Pariksit, many were present who would not have been able to understand properly if Sukadev Goswami had mentioned the name of Radharani and Her associates.
If someone does not have the proper capacity to understand these topics, they will immediately go to sahajiyaism. For their protection, Sukadev Goswami did not take the names of Srimati Radharani and the gopis, such as Lalita Devi and Visakha. Their identity was shown by Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur in his writings. He gave some light by mentioning, “This verse was spoken by Srimati Radharani, this one by Lalita Devi, and so on.”
So, we must worship the raga-patha from afar, and our duty at present is to serve that rank of the devotees and to engage in the congregational chanting of the mahamantra in the association of the devotees. This is the safe and actual process for us to make advancement in our Krishna conscious practising life.
We need good association. Then, affection will grow. Otherwise, the fitness will not come for us to progress in the higher plane. First, a relationship will come through association, and when a relationship is formed, affection may come. It is first necessary to have a relationship with Guru and Vaisnava, the devotee of God. Otherwise, affection cannot be ours.
Here, we must know that regard for Guru and Vaisnava is necessary before affection. Then progress will come to us.
adau sraddha tatah sadhu-sango ’tha bhajana-kriya
tato ’nartha-nivrttih syat tato nistha ruchis tatah
Affection comes to us through nistha, then ruchi. Divine relationship is always closely connected with sadhu-sanga, association with the saint or pure devotee of God, but before that sraddha or faith is necessary. If faith is firm, then we can try to have a relationship with a sadhu, and through the association of the sadhu, learning to serve with devotion, and becoming purified of evils, a higher plane of affection may come to us. But it is first necessary to go through three or four stages before affection. Still, it may come to some immediately: affection is within everyone, and it can grow without any cause. Even in this mundane world, we can sometimes see that from the very first day of meeting, some people are very good friends. As soon as they see each other, affection comes immediately. Similarly, it is also possible in spiritual dealings, but before that some sukrti—good fortune—must work in the background.
When practising spiritual life, doing what we call sadhana, at that time it is necessary to have the association of the saintly devotees. Through that association, regard grows within, and hankering arises. Actually, hankering gives affection, but until we have real hankering for the Divinity, it remains suppressed.
After purification, firmness will come, and from that ruchi or taste for the Divine will come. And from ruchi, affectionate relationship begins. But all these things are attained through the association of the saintly devotee. Without that association, divine service activity is not possible. When one is not qualified, proper service may not be accomplished. In an unqualified way, one’s mind may wander at random, thinking, “This is perfect, that is perfect.” But because one is living in the environment of illusion, it will not be real service. No doubt, by good fortune, it may be sometimes correct, but generally it will not go in the correct line because the illusory environment will misguide us.
anor aniyan mahato mahiyan
If we say that Brahma, the spirit, is very great, the idea of greatness will mean something like the sky. Beyond the sky, we have no idea of greatness. But such knowledge will not act there! The transcendental world is completely separate and beyond this knowledge. So, generally we shall go the wrong way. This is why the proper association, sadhu-sanga, is necessary.
There are two kinds of sadhu-sanga. When we have no person sadhu to associate with, the holy books will help us. But if we have the association of a good sadhu, we can attain the divine goal under his guidance directly.
Not everyone will feel affection. Good fortune will work in the background. With strong good fortune, one can immediately cross over the next three stages after association with the sadhu. But this is possible in very special cases only. Our Guru Maharaj used the word ‘affection’, but it is necessary for us to know the line in which he did so.
Affection is possible everywhere, even from the lower level to the higher level. Somebody wants to feed others. That is also a kind of affection. He does not want to eat so much himself, but he would rather feed others, and this gives him pleasure. If anybody eats more at that time, the affection of the distributor immediately goes to that person. Another example is that even before a child is born, affection for the child grows in the mother’s heart.
When there is a firm relationship, affection may be established, and the relationship will be firm through the sadhu-sanga. Everyone has a relationship with everyone, but feelings are manifest according to the relationship. Even if people may not know that they are relatives, by birthright they have an automatic relationship within.
Sometimes our Guru Maharaj would say, “By dharma-buddhi—a virtuous attitude—sense control is possible; at that time a relationship with the higher will also come to us through that virtuous attitude.” Affection for the higher will grow if we keep a virtuous attitude.
I know that this medicine is bitter, and my tongue and senses do not want to accept it. But my intelligence will give me more than that. My intelligence can say, “If you take this bitter thing, your health will be better.” Then, affection comes to us for that bitter medicine. In this way, we can try to have a proper relationship.
In the Mahabharata, we are taught that when we are not sufficiently eager to have a relationship, it can be established by a virtuous attitude. That virtuous attitude is living with us. We may be living in the mundane world, the illusory environment, but virtuous attitude does not forsake us. Otherwise, we would live randomly. We do not live at random. When someone is travelling opposite to my direction, there will be a clash, or a crash, if I don’t leave some room for him. That is virtuous attitude.
When affection is not openly expressed, it is necessary to correct our vision. Then it will come. Sometimes during the time of Srila Guru Maharaj, he would insist on some plan of action according to his desire, but we could not understand his logic; and if we objected, he could not understand our idea either. Still, we followed Guru Maharaj’s idea. Virtuous attitude. And when the result came, we would think, “Oh! Guru Maharaj has done so much good for me!” This happened many times.
Sadhu-sanga, if we can follow, it will give us relief from so many things. It will give a very good result in the future. But all depends upon sraddha, faith. Adau sraddha tatah sadhu-sanga: first faith, then the saintly association is ours. And the translation of sraddha is more than just ‘faith’. It is actually affectionate faith.
Chanting the Holy Name is also like this. We are chanting Hare Krishna, but are we really chanting? Or are we just creating a completely material sound vibration?
Srila Rupa Goswami has described this very nicely: atah Sri Krishna-namadi na bhaved grahyam indriyaih. How should we chant? Sevonmukhe hi jihvadau Svayam eva sphuraty adah: He will reveal Himself. When He is happy with us, He will feel, “Here is My dancing stage.” If we properly prepare that stage, He will happily come to dance on our tongues. We cannot expect to catch the Holy Name with our mundane tongue. The Holy Name is transcendental, and we cannot catch it by the use of our mundane senses.
This is why Guru Maharaj gave much importance to service life. Seva is service. The attitude of service is necessary. And when we are firm in our service attitude, the stage will be automatically built in our bodies. So, many say they are initiated, but have they got real initiation or not?
In the Chaitanya-charitamrta, it is said:
diksa-kale bhakta kare atma-samarpana
se-kale krsna tare kare atma-sama
When one is initiated by a genuine Guru, because the Guru is nondifferent from Krishna, Krishna will take the full charge of the disciple. And when Krishna does that, nothing mundane can remain. Atma-sama means transcendental. Krishna makes him transcendental. When he surrenders to the Guru, Krishna makes him transcendental. Sei deha kare tara chid-ananda-maya: his form appears the same, but it is transformed to a transcendental form. We see this devotee seated here, but his form is transcendental. Sei deha means ‘that body’ takes on a transcendental form. Then aprakrta-dehe Krishna-charana bhajaya: after that, the disciple does bhajan, divine service, and Krishna accepts his service.
So, where is the justification of all this? If everyone says it is all false, then will no one take initiation? But another part of Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta explains to us that this is a certain stage of development.
brahmanda bhramite kona bhagyavan jiva
guru-krsna-prasade paya bhakti-lata-bija
Premno hi bija-pradam: the Guru takes the responsibility to give the seed of Krishna-prema, love of God. So, we are not to be hopeless! Now, if we are given the seed, if we plant it properly, it will gradually become transcendental. This is the inner meaning.
So, we cannot be hopeless. The other day I said that we have got two very great Gurus—one is Srila Swami Maharaj (Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj), and one is Srila Guru Maharaj (Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj). So, we have no doubt that we have also got the real seed. The seed is genuine: we see that all over the world people are chanting Hare Krishna. It is a fact everybody knows now. Even in Russia, there also they know about Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu. Also in Hungary. And this consciousness was given by Srila Swami Maharaj, and Srila Swami Maharaj considered Srila Guru Maharaj as his Guru. So, we have no doubt that we have not only got a great Guru, but we have two great Gurus.
They are karnadhara: they are our guardians. The Guru is the captain of the ship. If we do not follow the orders of the captain, that is our defect, not his. So, we should now try to plant that seed properly. That duty is called bhajana-kriya or proper performance of devotional duties and services. Through that, anartha-nivrtti or purification will automatically come.
A sense-controlled person is free from mundane attachment. We are fortunate that we have seen many of such souls. But all credit is to my Guru. He can make a crow into a Garuda. No credit is mine. If I feel anything is to my credit, then I fall to the worst position. And such a sentiment must come from the heart, not just formally. If somebody wants to show, “I am a Vaisnava, so I must show my humility”, that is not Vaisnavism. Humility will come from the heart. That is real humility.
In this world, we are always playing with fire. Maya Devi is very powerful. She always wants to take our time for her service. But Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has shown us that the path of our life is the practising of Krishna consciousness. That is necessary for our transcendental super-benefit. And we can cross over the illusion of maya only if we practise Krishna consciousness under the guidance of a good Vaisnava who is giving twenty-four hours a day to Krishna for His service. With his association, we must get our super-benefit.
You understand, “I am not this body”. Further, “I am not man or lady”. Still, in fact, we are all of female nature in the sense that we are to be enjoyed by Krishna. So, the male or female bodies that we have at present are illusory. But it is necessary to cross over that illusion. We have some desire, but that desire is also illusory. Our potency, that is soul, is made of willing, feeling, thinking; it is transcendental. We come from the transcendental power of Krishna. You will find Tal-lingam Bhagavan Sambhur in Sri Brahma-samhita. Also, in Sri Gita, Krishna says:
mayadhyaksena prakrtih suyate sacharacharam
hetunanena kaunteya jagad viparivartate
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 9.10)
Krishna throws His vision, and that vision is also transcendental. The place of that vision is Sambhu (Siva). With the agency of maya, that vision produces this mundane world. And the transcendental world is produced by Baladev through Sankarsan.
sahasra-patra-kamalam gokulakhyam mahat-padam
(Sri Brahma-samhita: 5.2)
And where Krishna-lila or the Pastimes of Krishna are going on, everything is transcendental and full of ecstatic joy. And that, in general, is produced by Sankarsan. This means we should know that Sankarsan is the Guru of Lord Siva. But Lord Siva’s forms are in general two—one is Sadasiva, and one is Gun-avatar Siva (incarnation in the modes of material nature). Gun-avatar Siva is the vision of the Lord. His original form is Sadasiva, but when he mixes with the modes (gunas) of material nature, he takes the form of Gun-avatar Siva. In our present situation, we cannot actually differentiate between the two. Sadasiva is above maya. He is a pure Vaisnava, and his highest position is in Paravyoma (Vaikuntha), the spiritual world. And when the Gun-avatars Brahma, Visnu, and Mahesvar incarnate here, Sadasiva’s incarnation is as Mayadhipati or the husband of Maya; and the husband of Yogamaya, the divine potency, is Sankarsan. Tad anantamsa-sambhavam. This is the way in which the transcendental world and the mundane world are produced and flow.
Our real form is transcendental. The jiva-soul has the capacity to go to the transcendental world, and that is the actual place of the jiva-soul. But in this world, everything is an illusory environment. The problem is that we are running through our previous karma. If we can leave that karma, we will solve all our problems. But the only way we can completely leave it is by surrendering to Krishna. That is the final decision in the Gita.
First Bhagavan, the Supreme Lord, said to practise karma-yoga, then jnana-yoga, “Sarvam karmakhilam partha jnane parisamapyate: the perfection of action is knowledge.” Also, in Srimad Bhagavatam:
kamasya nendriya-pritir labho jiveta yavata
jivasya tattva-jijnasa nartho yas cheha karmabhih
“The purpose of accepting material facilities is not sensual satisfaction. Rather, to accept only as much material facility as to keep body and soul together is the purpose of desire, that is, the only justifiable desire. Therefore, enquiry about the Supreme Lord is the chief objective of life, and the attainment of higher planes like heaven through fulfilment of compulsory and conditional duties as made much of in this world is not the objective.”
neha yat karma dharmaya na viragaya kalpate
na tirtha-pada-sevayai jivann api mrto hi sah
“In this world a person whose work does not lead him to virtue, whose virtue upon becoming desireless does not bear the fruit of his detachment from all things ‘non-Krishna’, and again whose abnegation does not culminate in the service of Tirthapad Sri Hari—such a person is nothing more than the living dead.”
naiskarmyam apy achyuta-bhava-varjitam
na sobhate jnanam alam niranjanam
kutah punah sasvad abhadram isvare
na charpitam karma yad apy akaranam
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 1.5.12)
“Knowledge or liberation in Brahma that denies love for the Infallible or devotion to Sri Krishna—that liberation is not glorious even if it is spotless or free from all material coloration. Why? Because the variegatedness of divine Pastimes is absent. Then how can worldly work, karma—which is by its very nature inauspicious—ever be glorious when it is not offered to the Lord, even when it is selfless?” [Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur wrote: “Karma depends on the material body, and its fruits are also mundane. Therefore, karma is most inauspicious for the spiritual soul. Even if that karma becomes desireless or selfless, it cannot directly yield any spiritual fruit. Still, if one’s work yields bhakti or devotion, only then does work, being offered to the Lord, become unblemished and the indirect yielder of an auspicious result. Even jnan or enlightenment or liberation in pure spirit is not perfect. At times, it is rather completely injurious or opposed to real progress. Only when liberation is a servant of devotion which is full of divine variegatedness does it succeed in becoming one with, or merging with, devotion.”]
Therefore, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s teachings begin from this point:
jnane prayasam udapasya namanta eva
jivanti san-mukharitam bhavadiya-vartam
sthane sthitah sruti-gatam tanu-van-manobhir
ye prayaso ’jita jito ’py asi tais tri-lokyam
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 10.14.3)
“[Lord Brahma said to the Supreme Lord:] O Lord, completely shunning the attempt for enlightenment by meditating on the nondifferentiative Brahma, those devotees who hear the talks about You that flow from the mouths of the sadhus (saints) and pass their lives remaining by thought, word, and deed on the path of the sadhus—they attain You, O Lord, who are practically impossible to reach in the entire universe.”
That is life; actual transcendental life starts from that point. The tendency of jnan is also being thrown out. The surrendered soul lives with the sadhu who is glorifying Krishna. That is the primary lesson for taking the jiva-soul upwards. That is the primary lesson of bhakti. Real ananya-bhakti—exclusive devotion—begins here. And Mahaprabhu said, “Yes, but you proceed. No doubt here is real devotion. But proceed, don’t stop here.” In that way, one by one, Ramananda Ray elucidated the stages of rasa or divine serving levels.
And lastly, the bhakti-yoga in parakiya-rasa [divine consorthood in paramour sentiment] was shown by Mahaprabhu as the most elevated. Still, although it may be very high, it is our own property. We can have it. The question always arises here: can we achieve it or not? But we can.
In this world we say, “He is my son, she is my wife, he is my husband”, and so on, but after a few years I must see that my husband, wife, and so on, have gone. ‘Husband’ means this body. But I have never seen who was inside. I never saw him either before or after. That is the problem, but we are very attached. We are crying, crying, crying. Sometimes, crying and crying, we leave our body also. Then, the position is very insecure for the jiva-soul, but by his bad karma, he is suffering like this.
Seeing this, Krishna Himself becomes very sad, and so He sometimes sends the sadhu and the Guru, and He also descends, as an Avatar. And also Svayam Bhagavan or the Lord in person comes and reveals His Pastimes. In many ways, He tries, but He doesn’t want to disturb their freedom. If you can freely and spontaneously render seva—devotional service, that is genuine seva. He can influence us very easily, but He does not want to do that. He wants you to eagerly, with your full devotion, try to serve His associates and His lotus feet. That is your super-benefit, and He does not want to disturb that. But He can advise through sastra or scriptures, through the Vaisnava, and through the Guru. He teaches us in many ways and circumstances, sometimes taking the form of a fish as Matsya-avatar, or a tortoise as Kurma-avatar, and so many other Avatars. There are ten main Avatars listed in the scriptures, and others also. But all His advices and directions “lead to Rome” in the sense that He does everything for our super-benefit by showing that path to the service world. And that is necessary. Only through service can we go there. Otherwise, we have no possibility to touch that plane.
na tad bhasayate suryo na sasanko na pavakah
yad gatva na nivartante tad dhama paramam mama
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 15.6)
“That place having attained which the (surrendered) souls never return from again—that is My supreme (all-illuminating) abode. Neither the sun, moon, nor fire can illuminate it.”
This sun, this moon—nothing in this world can supersede or touch that world. In the middle portion, there is the vast Viraja River. But if you plant the seed of devotion very nicely, the bhakti-lata (creeper or vine of devotion) can cross over Mayaloka or the illusory environment, cross over the Vaitarani, and also the Viraja.
upajiya bade lata ‘brahmanda’ bhedi’ yaya
‘viraja’, ‘brahmaloka’ bhedi’ ‘paravyoma’ paya
tabe yaya tad upari ‘goloka-vrndavana’
‘krsna-charana’-kalpa-vrkse kare arohana
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 19.153–4)
Devotee: Vaitarani and Viraja are the same?
Srila Govinda Maharaj: No, Vaitarani is before Viraja. We have seen in Puri, there is also a river called Vaitarani representing that. It is described as being like a moat surrounding Svargaloka [heaven].
The whole brahmanda or universe is floating in Viraja. Above are the seven planes Bhu, Bhuva, Sva, Maha, Jana, Tapa, and Satya, and below are the seven planes called Atala, Vitala, Sutala, Talatala, Mahatala, Rasatala, and Patala. Total fourteen. That is one brahmanda, and millions of millions of such brahmandas are floating in the Viraja River, which is like an ocean. And the bhakti-lata or creeper of devotion has the strength to cross over that Viraja. But when the creeper of our devotion is young and tender like a child, at that time we must protect her.
yadi vaisnava-aparadha uthe hati mata
upade va chhinde, tara sukhi’ yaya pata
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 19.156)
“If offence to the Vaisnava [Vaisnava-aparadh] occurs, the mad elephant uproots and breaks the creeper, and its leaves dry up.”
This is the greatest difficulty. If one commits Vaisnava-aparadh, one’s creeper of devotion will be uprooted as though by a mad elephant. And Srila Jiva Goswami has mentioned in his Bhakti-sandarbha (265):
“sarvaparadha-krd api” ity ady ukty-anusarena
namaparadha-yuktasya bhagavad-bhakti-mato ’py
In general, there are ten kinds of offences to the Holy Name, headed by sadhu-ninda or offence to the sadhu; then, to disbelieve in the transcendental Name, Quality, Form, and Pastimes of the Lord and consider the demigods like Siva to be equal to Krishna; then, to offend the Guru, the scriptures, and so on. So, even if one may be a very high Vaisnava, one’s creeper of devotion will be destroyed and even one will go down if one offends another Vaisnava. So, we must try to avoid Vaisnava-aparadh, and then we can succeed with everything else in our spiritual life. For our real goal of life, we must cross over Viraja. At present, our universe is actually floating in Viraja. But beyond Viraja and Brahma also is Paravyoma or the transcendental world.
virajara pare suddha paravyoma-dhama
tad upari sri-gokula vrndaranya nama
chinmaya apurva darasana
tahi majhe chamatkara krsna vanaspati-sara
nilamani tamala yemana
tahe eka svarnamayi lata sarva-dhama-jayi
uthiyachhe parama pavani
hladini-saktira sara ‘mahabhava’ nama yara
(Sri Gitavali: Sri Radhastakam, 2.1–3)
“Beyond the Viraja River is the Holy Dham Vaikuntha, and above that is Sri Gokula, which is known as Vrndaranya. Vrndavan, jewel of our hearts, mine of divine gems, what a joy to see that holy beauty! In the middle a miracle, the dark Lord of the forest trees, appearing like a sapphire tamal. And there is a golden vine, the Queen of all the Dham, appearing; She’s supremely gracious; She’s the joy of ecstasy—‘Mahabhava’ is Her Name. She charms the charmer of the world.”
hladinira sara ‘prema’, prema-sara ‘bhava’
bhavera parama-kastha nama—‘mahabhava’
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Adi-lila, 4.68–69)
“The essence of ecstasy is love; the essence of love is heart; and the acme of heart is called ‘mahabhava.’ And the personality of Mahabhava is our Queen, Sri Radha Thakurani. She is the mine of all good; She is the jewel of Krishna’s beloveds.”
Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur and Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami Prabhu composed these great things. We are not actually in the practice of reading them constantly, but I have heard such things from Guru Maharaj. These matters are very elevated for us. But there is our goal, and She is actually our Guru, as our Divine Mistress. Her form is being described here.
Although these are very high matters, it is necessary for us to remember them from time to time. We have our future prospect, and that is very high. Srila Kaviraj Goswami has quoted in Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta (Madhya, 8.70):
kriyatam yadi kuto ’pi labhyate
tatra laulyam api mulyam ekalam
janma-koti-sukrtair na labhyate
Real devotion to Krishna is very rarely attained. If you see that type of devotion anywhere, purchase it with your hankering, your laulyam. Only your hankering can give you your share of that property. That is the only price for that, otherwise you cannot achieve it after even billions of lifetimes of merits. So, hunger is necessary for that, and hunger will come if you make your stomach empty first. First take some purgative and cleanse yourself. Then gradually hunger will come.
This cleansing means sadhu-sanga. Through devotional association you will get everything. Those who have heard about Devahuti, the mother of the Lord when He appeared as Kapiladev, may know about this story.
Devahuti was asking Kapiladev, “My son, I know that You are Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but how shall I reach You? The munis, rsis, and yogis have so many processes, but I have no capacity to follow them. My body is a woman’s body, and a woman has no right to practise in the Vedic scriptural way. Then tell me, my son, how shall I get devotion to Your lotus feet?”
Kapiladev said, “Don’t worry. It is very easy. It is not necessary to read many books, perform yajna or fire sacrifice, or anything else. Nothing like this is necessary for you. I am telling you only one point, and you are to follow this:
satam prasangan mama virya-samvido
bhavanti hrt-karna-rasayanah kathah
taj josanad asv apavarga-vartmani
sraddha ratir bhaktir anukramisyati
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 3.25.25)
“‘By the association of the sadhus, talks revealing My super-glories take place. Those talks are nectar to the pure ear and heart. Continue affectionately in this way, and rapidly you will gain first faith in Myself, who am the way to purification of all evils. Then heart’s devotion, and finally divine love or prema-bhakti will graciously appear within your heart.’
“Mother, associate with the sadhus and follow their directives. Then you will understand everything. Why? The sadhus are always trying to satisfy Me, and you can see how they satisfy Me by having their association. If they are affectionate to you, they will give that consciousness to you, and you will easily get My grace. This is the only way. Whoever follows it reaches Me very quickly, and this is also My direct advice in the scriptures.”
In the eleventh canto of Srimad Bhagavatam, we find this sloka (11.2.34):
ye vai bhagavata prokta upaya hy atma-labdhaye
anjah pumsam avidusam viddhi bhagavatan hi tan
“The ways for even the ignorant to reach Him have been told by the Supreme Lord; know those ways to be Bhagavat-dharma.”
If Bhagavan says, “I like fried potato”, and I give Him fried potato, He will be satisfied. It is not necessary to think out what will satisfy Him if He tells us what He likes. So, this is the directive of Bhagavan, the Supreme Lord. He is telling you what to do, “Do this, do that.” This is Bhagavat-dharma.
So, Kapiladev was saying, “Bhagavat-dharma is what is practised by the real sadhu. You follow that. You need the association of sadhus, and this is My final advice to you, mother. That is satam prasangan Mama virya-samvido bhavanti hrt-karna-rasayanah kathah. They are hearing about Me—sravanam; they are glorifying Me—kirtanam; they are remembering Me—smaranam. Sravanam kirtanam Visnoh smaranam. They are trying to serve Me in every way possible. Also, pada-sevanam archanam vandanam dasyam sakhyam atma-nivedanam: serving My feet, prayer, servitorship, friendship, and self-surrender. They are offering everything to Me. They try to do everything with My association. If you associate with such sadhus, then you must also do that. There is no other work there in their association. So, you must be benefitted if you take advice from the sadhu and follow the sadhu’s character.”
This is the first and last advice, and very simple advice, of Bhagavan Kapiladev. And in the eleventh canto, the Lord Himself also defines Bhagavat-dharma. So, what is followed by the Vaisnava and written in Srimad Bhagavatam is Bhagavat-dharma. Then in the next verse, we find (11.2.35):
yan asthaya naro rajan na pramadyeta karhichit
dhavan nimilya va netre na skhalen na pated iha
If you take that path, you have no fear from anywhere. Just run. Whether your eyes are open or closed, it doesn’t make any difference; you won’t fall down. We cannot guess from here how much joy and ecstasy is there, how much happiness and enjoyment. We are trying to guess, but we can’t because our puppy brains can’t conceive it.
Everything is explained in the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu by Srila Rupa Goswami. That is called the science of devotion. There, Srila Rupa Goswami has said,
vyatitya bhavana-vartma yas chamatkara-bhara-bhuh
hrdi sattvojjvale badham svadate sa raso matah
(Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu: 2.5.132)
What can we guess about that plane? It is living. The slightest idea of that ecstasy you cannot guess with your puppy brain. What can you think? You can try to imagine how great the sky is, but how will you imagine it? In your estimation, only two kilometres or two miles is great. But your brain can think, “Yes, the same sky is in America and in India”, so some kind of broader conception is possible. Still, even that is less than a mustard seed. “One mustard seed” means fourteen worlds, up and down. All those planes together are called one brahmanda or universe, and that is like no more than a mustard seed in the presence of the Divinity. Then, how much can you guess?
If you can surpass the ideas of your entire consciousness, then perhaps you can consider what kind of wonder that ecstasy is. Our brains are always agitating this way and trying to understand. We cannot guess what kind of wonder that is, but it is. And the sages and seers—the munis and rsis—they feel for us, and for our benefit they have compiled the sastra to guide us, especially Srila Vedavyas.
So, it is not helpful to try to understand this with our tiny brains. Only when that ecstasy will come and conquer our hearts can we feel it. And we must wait for that, not try for it. This is the way to taste it. When He will come, my heart will be fulfilled within a second. That is the ecstasy, the essence, given in the perfect philosophy of Vedanta.
raso vai sah rasam hy evayam labdhvanandi bhavati
If you want that ecstasy, you can try to worship that plane. Then you will get it by the mercy of the real associates of Krishna. And that is the main thing. But there’s no need to be hopeless; much hope is here, especially in this Kali-yuga. Mahaprabhu said, “Harer Nama Harer Nama Harer Namaiva kevalam: chant the Hare Krishna mahamantra without offence and you will get everything.”
Devotee: In Srimad Bhagavad-gita, Krishna has explained about karma-yoga. Can karma-yoga ever be seva, or devotional service?
Srila Govinda Maharaj: Karma and seva, action and divine service, are identical from the external perspective. Bhakti-yoga and karma-yoga are the same apart from one thing, and that is the inner mood of the practitioner. The inner intention is the all-important, differentiating factor. What result is going solely to the Lord, and not to the jiva-soul, that is called bhakti-yoga. When all of one’s work will be accredited in the account of Krishna, then that is bhakti-yoga. And when the result of one’s work is credited to the account of that jiva-soul, then that is karma-yoga. It is very simple.
yat karosi yad asnasi yaj juhosi dadasi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya tat kurusva mad arpanam
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 9.27)
“Whatever you will do for Me, you will not be responsible for any reaction you accrue from that.” Karma is giving reaction. Newton’s third law is that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Many of Newton’s laws have been disputed and even broken, but this law still exists unchallenged. It is not only Newton’s law, but it is the law of the Gita, of the Vedic scriptures. We are living within the plane of exploitation, otherwise no reaction could come. That is, we are exploiting and exploited within this plane, and so reaction is always coming to us. Once, just after the war of Kuruksetra, a rsi from near Kashmir named Utanka came before Krishna with a view to curse Him: “You are the cause of the violence in Kuruksetra. If You had wanted to, You could have easily controlled the situation and prevented it, but You did not. Now millions of women have been widowed as a result of that battle, and I cannot tolerate to hear them cry. You are the cause, and so I shall curse You.”
Krishna smilingly replied, “O rsi, please give a little hearing to Me. You have amassed so much subtle power through your austerity, your tapasya, but that will be useless if you throw your curse upon Me. I am existing in the plane of nirguna, the non-material plane, so your curse will not touch Me. All your austerity, tapasya, everything you have acquired, it is all within this material world. It may reach up to the highest plane of this world, Brahmaloka, but it cannot touch My position. It will be futile, and you will lose everything, so I advise you not to curse Me. Please heed My advice to you. I am giving you this knowledge so that you will see who I am.”
Then with folded hands that rsi took shelter of Krishna, “Now I can see, and You have saved all of my tapasya.” That is the plane of nirguna, and playing there is devotion—the service world. There are three planes: the plane of exploitation, the plane of renunciation, and the plane of dedication. Who is wholeheartedly serving Krishna, he is living in the plane of dedication. He is not responsible for the results of his own activity, yet he is happy with his activities because he is trying to satisfy his Lord, and the Lord is living within the nirguna plane. So, the reactions are not coming to the devotee.
I often give the example of a policeman or military man. During war, a soldier may kill hundreds or even thousands of other people, but the responsibility for that must come to the government, so no reaction will come to that man—any reaction will come to the government. Similarly, a police officer may sometimes kill a criminal while trying to apprehend him. Again the reaction must come to the government. If through his work anything wrong has happened, then compensation will be given by the government, not from his salary. This is the example.
If we offer all our activity for service to Krishna, then that is bhakti-yoga. All result will go to Krishna, and it will not come back to me. Otherwise, if we are doing karma, following karma-yoga, then some reaction will also come to us. It is nature, otherwise the universe would not function, and that is true not just of this universe, but all universes. When we examine this universe, we are amazed, and we think that there cannot be anything more than this, but it is not so. The rsis have seen that like this universe, millions of universes are existing, and floating in the river of Viraja. This universe has fourteen levels. The upper levels begin with Bhu, Bhuva, Sva, Maha, Jana, and Tapa up to Satyaloka, and downwards there are Tala, Atala, Vitala, Nitala, Talatala, Mahatala, and Sutala, and like this, millions of universes are floating within the ocean of Viraja.
virajara pare suddha-paravyoma-dhama
tad upari sri-gokula-vrndaranya nama
Crossing over the Viraja, there is Brahmaloka, the effulgence of Vaikunthaloka, Paravyoma. Brahmaloka means no man’s land, equilibrium, or abscissa, and crossing that we can enter the Paravyoma Dham. But first we must obtain a visa. Without the correct visa, no one can enter another country. We may obtain a passport from Mahamaya here, or by the grace of Lord Siva, he has that power, but that will be useless if you cannot get a visa from Vaikunthaloka. Vaikuntha is existing within the plane of dedication, and who is fully dedicated, he can get that visa. And even after entering that plane, many inner divisions exist for which you need further, inner visas if you want to go there. Sankarsan-Baladev is the visa officer there. Sankarsan is the master, and Yogamaya is the mistress there. All activity is through the agency of Yogamaya, and the necessary power is coming from Sankarsan.
yadyapi asrjya nitya chich-chhakti-vilasa
tathapi sankarsana-ichchhaya tahara prakasa
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 20.257)
Devotee: A brahmachari who lives in the Math of the Mission is in a very safe position because everything he is doing is seva for the Mission. But in the grhastha-asram, we are doing so much karma, so how can we be safe in our spiritual life?
Srila Govinda Maharaj: It is not always true. The brahmachari may be living in the Math, that may be true externally, but that brahmachari may really be living in narak, hell. Similarly, one may be living in the grhastha-asram, but he can be residing in heaven. It is only dependent on the inner mood. Taking the saffron cloth, doing some work in the Math, and maintaining the formality is not sufficient. The only thing sufficient will be the true mood of devotion. If there is the mood of devotion, then that is very nice. That is quality.
Srila Guru Maharaj said we need quality and not quantity. You will see very few brahmacharis in Guru Maharaj’s Math. They are coming and staying a few years maybe, but eventually they cannot remain. It is ultimately all depending on the mood. Mood of devotion or mood of emotion? If one is living in the Math only emotionally, never going to the deeper level, but only floating on the surface, then he will not get the proper result. And one grhastha can do one hundred times more service to Krishna through his genuine mood of devotion. But if one is living in the Math and doing twenty-four hours per day sincere service, then one must get the proper result. The substance is necessary, and that is devotion.
The word ‘devotion’ is only applicable to a devotee. If one is a devotee, then we must consider that one has devotion. We may say, “He is a devotee, and he is a devotee, and she is a devotee”, but that may only be an external identification. Devotion is the most valuable asset. One may be from the lowest caste, may be a grhastha, or anything, but if he has devotion, then he must be the best of all men.
In the Ramanuja sampradaya, which is also existing within the devotional plane, there is a famous story. There was a devotee named Dhanur Das. ‘Das’ generally means a non-brahman, but Ramanuja Acharya went to his house and accepted prasadam there, and because of his devotion, a representative from Vaikunthaloka came to him and took him to that plane. This is not just a story, this is a fact.
So, we can understand that everything is depending only on devotion. Where there is devotion, there is no problem, and devotion has its basis in strong faith. The first thing necessary is strong faith in Guru and Krishna, otherwise we cannot do anything for Krishna. We may do something, but that will have no value. We can do something only with heart, with affection and with love, and behind that must be strong faith. That is devotion, and that will give us hankering for Krishna whose qualities are unique and wonderful. The jiva-soul has fifty qualities in common with Krishna. In the first layer, we are the same. Then, the demigods have fifty-five qualities, Narayan has sixty, Sankarsan-Baladev has sixty-two, and Krishna has sixty-four qualities. He is the origin of all, even of Narayan. In Sri Brahma-samhita (5.1), we find:
isvarah paramah krsnah sachchidananda-vigrahah
anadir adir govindah sarva-karana-karanam
“He is the cause of all causes.” It is proven there in Brahma-samhita. If you read Brahma-samhita, you will find that a very concise description is given. In less than one hundred verses, the entirety of the Vaisnava theology is presented, and above all, you will find it is established that Sri Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The jiva-souls are emanating from His marginal potency, or tatastha-sakti, which means they can be attracted to either the mundane or divine world.
Krishna’s special qualification is that when the flute-song of Krishna comes out, the whole universe is attracted. But if our ear is blocked with wax, then we will not hear that, so first it is necessary to clean ourselves, then we can hear. Existing above the plane of Narayan is Krishnaloka, and there four qualities are playing in an unparalleled way.
(Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu: 2.1.41–42)
There the play of Krishna with the Vraja-gopis and the Vraja-balakas, cowherd girls and boys, and others, is going on in the sweetest way. In Vrndavan Dham, where there is Govardhan, the Yamuna, and the twelve forests, the sweetest varieties of play are going on day and night.
Brahma himself was stunned to see those Pastimes of Krishna. He could not understand who was this boy playing in Vrndavan. He thought, “This is not my creation, or maybe I created this and have forgotten.” In this way, he was perplexed, and so he stole all of Krishna’s cows and cowherd boyfriends and kept them hidden in a cave. After one year, he returned to see the result. He was astonished: everything was going on just as before. At first, he thought that the cows and cowherd boys must have escaped from the cave, but when he checked, he found that they were all still there as he had left them in mystic slumber. Then he was astounded. He could not fathom how the play of Krishna is floating in this way, and he submitted a very nice sloka, which is found in Srimad Bhagavatam:
jananta eva janantu kim bahuktya na me prabho
manaso vapuso vacho vaibhavam tava gocharah
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 10.14.38)
“Whoever will say that they know Your glories, they can say that, but my confession is that I cannot understand You at all. You are simply beyond the reach of my body, mind, and words.”
This is sarvadbhuta-chamatkara-lila-kallola-varidhih—His wondrous Pastimes. And those who are in His association, they are atulya-madhura-prema-mandita-priya-mandalah. His companions are always playing in the mood of madhura-rasa. There, nothing bad can exist. Krishna is the only enjoyer, and He can enjoy with everything. He enjoys the love of the paramour, and there, in that transcendental abode, that has the topmost position. Those who have the very sweetest, ecstatic love in their hearts, the boy and girl friends, those types of friends are always playing with Krishna. He is the enjoyer, and they are the suppliers of that enjoyment, but peculiarly they in turn feel more joy within their hearts than even Krishna is feeling. Why?
In this mundane world we can see this principle also. Many will like to eat, but there are some who like to feed others, and they feel more pleasure doing that than being fed. When they are cooking and feeding others, giving happiness to others, their happiness is greater than those being fed. When they see the happiness of those they are feeding, they are getting double happiness. Similarly, the devotee wants to satisfy Krishna, and when Krishna is satisfied, then the devotee is doubly satisfied, and Krishna embraces that devotee.
And He is asamanordhva-rupa-sri-vismapita-characharah. What kind of sweet person is Krishna? When He sees His divine form reflected in the mirror, like a madman He wants to embrace that. His beauty is so intense that even He cannot understand that it is a reflection. From this we can get some idea of the kind of beauty found in Him, and when the gopis are getting His embrace, how much happiness they are experiencing we simply cannot say. This is the super love relationship with Krishna. And trijagan-manasakarsi-murali-kala-kujitah: the whole universe is attracted to murali, the flute of Krishna. From Krishna’s flute, the first sound, the primeval ‘Om’ was heard by Lord Brahma. Hearing that, he was intoxicated. He tried to meditate on that, and through his meditation came the Kama-gayatri mantra by the grace of Divya Saraswati. This is all explained in Sri Brahma-samhita. Happily, I can recommend that you try to read this book. Some of the inner meanings are hard to understand, both in the Bengali and the English. If you understand the original Sanskrit, then maybe you will get a little better understanding, but the Bengali commentary is difficult to fully understand. That is because the masters, when they are giving the explanation of the slokas, they do so with full guard, so that the meaning will not be adulterated.
So, four unique qualities exist in that special plane of Vrndavan, the plane of dedication. That is called Vraja Dham. The word ‘vraja’ is a verb, an action; it means to “dive deep into Reality”.
sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksayisyami ma suchah
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 18.66)
In the last chapter of Bhagavad-gita, Krishna says, “O Arjuna, what more can I say to you? You are My dear friend, and so I am now imparting to you My most affectionate advice. You please consider it. I have told many things to you from the first to this last chapter, and that is sufficient to understand the nature of the Truth. Of course, some further question may come later, but now it is not necessary for you to know more. Only, what I will tell you now, please give your full attention to that. Whatever you know as religion, I am telling you to leave that, and dive deep into the plane of Reality. Come to Me in Vraja.”
This means that whatever our conception may be, that must necessarily be useless in the ultimate analysis. We have come to deal with the Infinite with our finite understanding. If we say, “It is unlimitedly big”, then how much can we conceive of ‘big’? Like the sky? But how much can we see of the sky? Perhaps two miles, not much more than that. And if we say, “It is unlimitedly small”, then how much ‘small’ can we conceive? To the atom? But the Upanisads say:
anor aniyan mahato mahiyan
“He is smaller than the atom, and there He can exist with His full power.” It is inconceivable, and so Mahaprabhu has said achintya-bhedabheda-siddhanta, the perfect conclusion is that the Lord and the individual jiva-souls are simultaneously and inconceivably similar and different. This is the conception of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. You cannot conceive of the Absolute through your mind and intelligence. Mental power is the highest in this mundane world. The mind can move faster than the ether, but that is also useless to approach Him. He is achintya.
achintyah khalu ye bhava na tams tarkena yojayet
prakrtibhyah param yach cha tad achintyasya laksanam
(Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu: 2.5.93)
“That which is of the nature of the Absolute is called achintya, or inconceivable. Reason can only comprehend what is of the mundane nature, so do not try to control what is inconceivable within your knowledge—your mental power. It is beyond your reason.” That is the achintya-sakti of Krishna.
and The Fortunate Soul
Devotee: Maharaj, though one may generally acquire knowledge from an external source, we can see in the case of Srila Guru Maharaj that transcendental knowledge was always coming from within his own self.
Srila Govinda Maharaj: Yes, this is a very important truth. Sometimes Srila Guru Maharaj would visit Badarik Ashram in the Himalayas, and once while he was there, he contracted pneumonia and was confined to bed with a temperature of 102 or 103 degrees. I was not there on this occasion, but other highly respected godbrothers and disciples had accompanied Guru Maharaj.
It happened that at this time one greatly learned pandit came to debate with Guru Maharaj, but when he heard of Guru Maharaj’s illness, he decided he wouldn’t disturb him. Instead, he began his philosophical talk with the other Vaisnavas present. All of these devotees were highly qualified in scriptural knowledge, but none of them could defeat that proud pandit.
Meanwhile, Guru Maharaj, hearing everything from his bed in the adjoining room, could not tolerate that the opposing arguments of the pandit would not be defeated. So, in spite of his high temperature and serious condition, Guru Maharaj sat up, saying, “Bring that man to me.” It should have been impossible, all were astonished, and with great respect the pandit came before Guru Maharaj.
Guru Maharaj said “I am very sick, but if you can tell me the gist of your question, I shall try to answer.”
Taking the stance of an agnostic, the pandit posed his question, “Where is the proof that the soul resides within the body? Can you prove this?”
Guru Maharaj replied by quoting a verse from Srimad Bhagavatam, “Everyone is questioning whether the atma [soul] exists or not, and this type of debate is continuing. Each gives his opinion based on knowledge gathered from the external world, but the atma is light, and it is by this light only that knowledge can be seen. It is by the soul’s power that they are able to debate. Although it cannot be seen, it is this light within the body that is the power which enables one to see, to walk, talk, and do anything.”
Upon hearing this verse from Srimad Bhagavatam, the pandit immediately accepted defeat and humbly submitted, “Maharaj, I also know that sloka, but you have the feeling of atma whereas I have not. Because you have seen atma, you can immediately fulfil my question, whereas I could not have given that answer so quickly, and that is the difference between you and I.”
The mood of the pandit changed, and he took shelter at the lotus feet of Srila Guru Maharaj and continued to discuss the scriptures. All the Vaisnava sadhus there were amazed that in only thirty seconds or so that great proud pandit had been defeated.
So, we can see, knowledge and transcendental knowledge are not the same thing. We gather knowledge with our senses in this plane, but transcendental knowledge appears in the heart, through transmission from one who is fully conscious in the divine plane.
Devotee: It would seem that without real love and service to the Guru, too much knowledge can be a problem in our spiritual life.
Srila Govinda Maharaj: Yes, it is a very unfortunate problem, and I have seen this many times in my experience in this Mission. We all have some power of realisation, but that realisation is all based on our experience of the mundane world, therefore whatever we perceive will be with the eye of mundanity. This type of vision has been growing since our childhood, and although we may develop great expertise in any given field of knowledge, still that will be mundane. That very knowledge may be an obstacle to our devotional life. Only by the mercy of Guru can we overcome these obstacles, otherwise it is not possible.
I often tell that I have been in this Mission for over forty years now, so you will understand that I have seen many things in that time, many obstacles to devotion, but my guardian was very strong, and by his mercy I crossed over those things. If I have strong faith in my guardian, then if I see anything wrong, I will be able to cross over that safely.
Everybody has some problem in this mundane world, it is by nature a faulty plane, but to see with a faultfinding nature will be very bad. If I am examining a person, why should I try to see where are his faults? Rather, I should search where are the good tendencies in that person. I must try to see that, and this is my master’s teaching.
If I have a strong master, then there is no problem. By the grace of the Divine Master, my fortune will also be that I can follow him. I shall think, “I am a fallen soul. I had no real fortune, but he has made my fortune, that is why I am fortunate.” In this way, I will get some proper vision.
brahmanda bhramite kona bhagyavan jiva
guru-krsna-prasade paya bhakti-lata-bija
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 7.151)
“While wandering throughout the universe, if a soul is greatly fortunate, by the grace of Guru and Krishna he receives the seed of the creeper of devotion.”
Our fortune is given by our Divine Master, and if we have strong faith in our Master, then we can cross over anything and everything. We shall be fearless. When my Master is with me, I shall have no care for any obstacle. Fearlessly, I can jump from a high bridge into the river because my Guardian is watching over me. If we can have this mentality and can get this type of faith from our Gurudev, then we are bhagyavan jiva, fortunate souls.
We can understand what is the nature of devotion only by the mercy of the Divine Master. Krishna warns the fallen soul, “Don’t offend My devotees; don’t underestimate their position. You cannot see if their position is high or low, so whenever you see My devotee, bow down to him and try to get his mercy. If you can get his grace by any means, that will be your greatest fortune.”
A Life of Service
Srila Govinda Maharaj: This year Srila Guru Maharaj is residing in his Samadhi Mandir, and we are trying to serve him through his instructions, through his guidance, and with his blessings. Although I do not speak English very well, still Krishna consciousness is moving heart to heart. Language is not as communicative as transcendental sound. The Hare Krishna mahamantra and so many other mantras are revealed in the Vedas. We may not know their meaning, but by chanting them the meaning is revealed. We are meditating on the mantras, and we are receiving light from them. In this way, we can understand that only the devotional spirit can help us, and devotion is the highest and only real means for practising Krishna consciousness, for serving the Vaisnavas. If I see a man drowning in the river, should I go to learn the local language and then try to help? No! I will have to do what I can immediately. And our position is also equally desperate. We are drowning in the ocean of maya, so whatever we now have we will have to utilise that for our rescue from maya.
Guru and Vaisnava are coming from the transcendental world, from the chinmay Dham which is purely spiritual, and we are also essentially spiritual, so they can easily communicate with us—soul to soul. Soul-to-soul communication is the best method, and in this way when we are reciting the mantram, when we are trying to follow their advice, in whatever way, they are helping us for our transcendental progress. The sadhus, the saints, are establishing maths only for the benefit of the conditioned souls. They are so kind that only to help us they are arranging rooms, accommodation, and making so many arrangements just so we may have a chance to serve the centre, to help us progress easily towards our spiritual destination.
In the association of other devotional souls there will be no fear. In their company, we become fearless, therefore we should always be very enthusiastic to see the devotees and have their company. We have been following Srila Guru Maharaj for so long, and we were always happy in his presence. Even now, we are happy because now his instructions are coming in a supramental way. In the presence of Guru Maharaj, he would directly give his instruction, and so it was very easy to know his direction. Now, if we find ourselves wanting for any direction, we are meditating on him, and the instruction is coming, and we are gladly doing some seva, some service. Union in separation is our supreme goal, and that is the lila of Radha-Krishna. We can meditate on the Pastimes of our Guru Maharaj in the same way, in the mood of separation.
I am very happy if you can all stay for the Gaura Purnima festival. Actually, you may all stay as long as you like, and if the government will give you permission, then you may stay forever in this Math. There may have to be some mundane arrangements for visas, passports, and other things, but we will always welcome you. This building and everything here is only for the devotees.
Devotee: We want a visa for the transcendental world.
Srila Govinda Maharaj: Yes, the supreme authority is Gurudev, and he will give the visa to the transcendental world. He is the authority, of that there is no doubt. From the mundane to the other world, to Krishna’s Dham, Gurudev is giving that visa. He is the Asraya-vigraha, the Lord we accept as our shelter. We must try to chant and follow his instructions, and then no real problems will come into our lives. This is the way to make our fortune in life. First, we must be initiated into the supramental power of Hari-nam, the mahamantra, and here we find there is no limit to how many rounds we can chant, but the minimum must be sixteen rounds. Guru Maharaj was so merciful, he said if you are engaged busily with the service of Guru, Vaisnava, and Krishna, then that divine seva must be fulfilled, but the mala [japa beads] must not fast. Therefore, even in exceptional circumstances, you must chant four rounds minimum. Normally, sixteen rounds only takes about one and a half hours, so to chant sixteen rounds is not so much. Srila Haridas Thakur would take three lakhs of Names every day, that is, 192 rounds, and only after completing that would he take prasadam. When Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur Prabhupad was living at the Yoga Pith Mandir in Mayapur, he would take one lakh (sixty-four rounds) every day, but as the service of the Lord and the Vaisnavas becomes more and more, then naturally the chanting will become less and less.
Service is our life. We must always try to serve. “I do not know who is Krishna, who is Bhagavan. I do not know what is what, but Guru and Vaisnava know, and they are always serving their Lord properly.” With this mentality, we can help ourselves. I can help myself by always serving the Vaisnavas and my Gurudev. This is the proper channel.
If somebody is giving some money to the Math, they may think that they are helping this Math, but actually they are helping their own self by their energy. Money comes through the exertion of energy. A man is trying to gain money, and in so many ways he may be giving his energy for the collection of money. When that money is given to the Math, then that means that his energy is now coming to serve Guru and Vaisnava.
When I was living as a brahmachari, Guru Maharaj would send me out to do collection, but no matter how hard I tried, I would not gain very much money. Still, Guru Maharaj would continue sending me: “Go door to door and beg for something. If they give one rupee or 100 rupees, that doesn’t matter, but you must go door to door.” I was very hesitant, and every morning I would be very unhappy to go begging, and so every day Guru Maharaj would teach me, “You are not going to beg for yourself, you are going for Guru-seva, for the service of your Guru, and when they give you something, they are not being kind to you, they are being kind to themselves. They are collecting money in so many ways, and if they give some of that to you, then their money will be used for Guru–Vaisnava-seva. That money comes to Gurudev, and he is offering that to the Lord, and those that gave, they are gaining spiritual benefit.” In this way, Guru Maharaj would preach to me.
I was sixteen or seventeen years old, and it was very difficult for me, but Guru Maharaj was always pushing me, “Go for begging!” and I got two types of benefit from that. Sometimes, the people I met would ask me why I was not using my time for the mundane pursuits. Why had I left home? Why had I neglected my worldly duties? Why was I not with my mother and father? And so many other questions. I would have to give the answers to their questions, and in so doing I would clarify myself within. Then secondly, I am collecting some money for my Gurudev, and he is offering that to his Gurudev and Lord Krishna, and in this way I am gaining my spiritual benefit.
Having a human body means we must maintain it nicely, but for what purpose? For the service of Guru, Vaisnava, and Krishna—only for seva. And if I can keep up this ideal, then no maya can come and overpower me. Srila Raghunath Das Goswami, Srila Rupa Goswami, Srila Sanatan Goswami, Srila Svarup Damodar Goswami, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur Prabhupad, our Srila Guru Maharaj, Srila Swami Maharaj Prabhupad—all of them are preaching, and if I also try to preach to this world, then I shall be benefitted, and somebody who hears that must also be benefitted. This is the way of Krishna consciousness.
Emotion or Devotion?
Devotee: I want to know if it is okay to read the higher books by the goswamis, describing the intimate Pastimes of Radha and Krishna?
Srila Govinda Maharaj: We are not doing that. In my forty-two years with Srila Guru Maharaj, I never once heard him give permission for that to us. I know many of the books you are speaking of very well, that is my position was somewhat different. Srila Guru Maharaj is a paramahamsa Vaisnava, and I was his personal servant up until about 1983, when I engaged some others for his personal service. At that time, my seva responsibility increased in such a big way that I was unable to always serve Guru Maharaj in person, still I was always looking after his health.
From 1973, I was treating Srila Guru Maharaj as his doctor. Guru Maharaj was so ill that all the doctors had said that no medicine could work in his body, and they were sure that within a few days or a week at most he would leave his body. Of course, Guru Maharaj’s body is a siddha body, but still all the most qualified doctors said that it was beyond their capacity to treat him. Then, one day, I was taking my bath, and I was crying, and I called to Lord Siva, “O Lord Siva, you have said that I am your son, and really I feel that I am. You are the master of all medicine, so please, my Lord, give me some medicine for my Guru Maharaj.”
After my desperate prayer, I heard the name of a medicine, as if from the air. At first, I thought I had mistaken the sound of the water from the shower as the name of the medicine, so I prayed again: “Please let me hear that name again so that I may be sure.” And again the sound of that medicine came. I knew that medicine because at that time I was practising as a doctor of homeopathy to the people, but until now I had never treated Srila Guru Maharaj. This was because firstly I was not always staying with Guru Maharaj, and secondly I had never considered myself to be a very good doctor. I was able to give some help to the poor, but I felt that was as much as I could do.
In any case, after hearing the name of the medicine from Lord Siva, I felt very free in my mind, and I knew that Guru Maharaj will not leave us now. In the meantime, Hari Charan Prabhu called me on the telephone, “Srila Guru Maharaj is sinking fast, he has no pulse, only a slight heartbeat, and no blood pressure.” I told him, as a matter of fact, “Prabhu, don’t worry. I have just now been given a medicine by Lord Siva. Give it to Guru Maharaj and he will be cured. I am coming right away.”
I took the last train from Calcutta, which was late, and arrived at the Math at about 12 o’clock midnight, and when I arrived, I saw Guru Maharaj sitting in his chair and taking prasadam with his own hand. I asked Guru Maharaj, “What has happened? Hari Charan Prabhu told me you were sinking.” Guru Maharaj replied, “Yes, I was, but Hari Charan Prabhu gave me the medicine that you told him, and now you can see.”
Then his pulse came back and blood pressure became normal, and Guru Maharaj said, “From this day, you will be my doctor.” All of Guru Maharaj’s doctors consented, but still I was thinking that Guru Maharaj is so great that somebody will chastise me, “Why are you not calling the doctor? Why are you treating Guru Maharaj?” I was a little afraid, and still I could not consider myself as a very good doctor. Then Guru Maharaj said, “All the doctors have already said that no medicine can work for me, so now happily you can treat me.”
So, I became Guru Maharaj’s doctor, and after that his main illness was a chronic headache. He had suffered from this headache from the age of seventeen, and from twenty-two it became very strong. When Guru Maharaj was suffering with this headache, he could not eat anything. Only, he would take water and constantly be throwing up. Sometimes, this would last for three days, sometimes six days, and sometimes up to twelve days. So, I began researching, and finally I told Guru Maharaj, “Maharaj, now your headache must go. I can treat you, and forever it will be gone.” All the homeopathic doctors who had treated Guru Maharaj had prescribed nux-vomica and administered it from thirty to ‘MM’ potency, but none had had the desired effect. As they had all prescribed this same medicine, I concluded that nux-vomica must be Guru Maharaj’s constitutional medicine. I then went to an allopathic doctor and asked him what is the dosage of nux-vomica mother tincture in allopathy. It was eight drops maximum, so I decided to give Guru Maharaj five drops. When the first signs of the headache came, I administered the five drops of the mother tincture and the headache was reduced to a standby position. I was confident that now this headache will go because previously no medicine could check it.
The only other medicine that could give Guru Maharaj relief from this condition was cafergot, a type of ergotamine. Ergotamine is a very serious drug, and through taking this, all of Guru Maharaj’s health problems came, but it was the only relief possible before now. After about two or three hours again, the headache came, and so I gave Guru Maharaj one-fourth dose of the ergotamine, and again after about another six hours the headache returned, and I gave the nux-vomica. In this way, alternating between the two, and then after twenty-four hours I stopped the ergotamine and continued with the nux-vomica along with Lord Siva’s medicine, and two other homeopathic medicines I had selected. That headache was then completely gone forever, and so in this way I was the doctor of Srila Guru Maharaj. Still, if I was not at the Math, I left instruction that if the need arose, then the allopathic doctor should be called.
Once, Guru Maharaj was suffering from bronchitis, and so Hari Charan Prabhu called the top doctor of Nabadwip, the president of the district medical board. He came, and after seeing Guru Maharaj, prescribed some medicine. Guru Maharaj flatly told him, “No, I will not take your medicine. Govinda Maharaj is my doctor, and only after he comes and says, will I take your medicine.”
Then, the doctor was very angry and said, “Then why did you call me?” Guru Maharaj said, “I did not call you, Hari Charan called you.” So, the doctor asked Hari Charan Prabhu, who explained, “I called you because Srila Govinda Maharaj said I should.” The doctor replied, “Do not call me again. If Guru Maharaj will not take my medicine, then why should I come?” And angrily the doctor left. When I arrived, I asked Guru Maharaj what had happened, and he told me the events, so I went to see the doctor. When I reached there, the doctor was still angry, and he said, “Oh, Govinda Maharaj, you have come. It is not necessary to come. I shall not go with you. I shall not see Guru Maharaj as my patient.”
I told him, “You must continue to see Guru Maharaj.”
“Why should I come? He will not take my medicine.”
“No!” I said, “He will not take your medicine, that is the truth. That is because you yourself have said that your medicine will not work on him. I am calling you because I am not a very good doctor, and you are the best doctor in all of Nabadwip. If you will examine Guru Maharaj and give your diagnosis and prescription, then immediately I can understand from your medicine what homeopathic medicine I should give instead of that. This is why I call you, and you have love for Guru Maharaj, so you must come.”
Then the doctor was quiet and said, “Yes, if that is the cause, then I shall come.” Anyhow, this was the history. I could not always stay with Guru Maharaj, and so I engaged some others for that. But before that, Guru Maharaj had no other servant, and so we heard many things during our association. And not only that, it was the desire of Guru Maharaj to tell something about the Pastimes of Krishna, of Radharani, and others, so we heard from him, but always he told us in a very cautious way. Never did he tell us to read Ujjvala-nilamani or similar books, but some things he told us, and I know many slokas from Ujjvala-nilamani, Vidagdha-madhava, Lalita-madhava, and others. That is, Guru Maharaj had me study kavya [Sanskrit composition], and it is necessary to read these verses to understand the many varieties of Sanskrit metre, language, beauty, alankara, and other things. But I can say it is a special case, it is not for all. These books are no doubt the supreme books of our sampradaya, but they are not for all and everyone’s reading. If anyone will read these books, then they will become a prakrta-sahajiya, and what will be for them? We do not want that our brother and sister will become that, so we must be very serious about our practising life.
You have left everything—your culture, your allegiance to country, your community, your habits—everything you have left to try and practise Krishna consciousness, so you will have to be serious. And you also need the result. To only practise, that is not your life’s goal, you need the end result—Krishna consciousness, and how will you get that result? It is necessary to first understand this. We are chanting Hare Krishna, but we have not become perfect. Why? We must research this. Why is it not happening? Why is the feeling not coming inside? If it were merely a cheating matter, then it would be no problem. But it is not a cheating matter, it is proven in the scriptures of India— the Veda, Vedanta, Upanisad, Purana—five thousand years of culture, and there are munis and rsis who have all got the result. If you study the scriptures like Mahabharata, you will say that all the advices are very good, and you will see that so many have gained the result. Then, why are we not getting the result? The time has come for us to know why.
Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj Prabhupad has come to this world, Srila Guru Maharaj has come, Srila Prabhupad Saraswati Thakur has come, Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur—their books and everything are with us, all the property of Sri Chaitanyadev’s sampradaya is with us, but it is not fruitful to us. Why is this? It is necessary to know. We do not want to cheat anybody, we want to do something good for others, and if we cannot do anything good, then at least we will not do anything bad to others. So, we must be serious about our practising life, and that means we must follow the directives given by Srila Guru Maharaj. Before approaching the rasa-tattva, the serious, high Pastimes of Sri Sri Radha-Krishna, we must prepare ourselves for that, otherwise that will not give us the perfect sentiment.
In Srimad Bhagavatam (10.33.39), it is written:
vikriditam vraja-vadhubhir idan cha visnoh
sraddhanvito ’nusrnuyad atha varnayed yah
bhaktim param bhagavati pratilabhya kamam
hrd-rogam asv apahinoty achirena dhirah
“If you hear the Pastimes of Krishna with the gopis, especially the Rasa-lila—which have been revealed in this mundane world by the grace of Krishna—if you hear with full faith from a bona fide Guru or Vaisnava, and if you subsequently describe that to others, then you will get the topmost supreme devotion to Krishna. The conjugal play of Krishna with the gopis in paramour love—which He tastes in a variety of ecstasies—if you hear that, then your heart disease of lust will be expelled forever.” So, why is it that when we contemplate that lila, we are getting difficulty and we are going to a hellish position? This we must research carefully, and that knowledge has been given by Bhakti Vinod Thakur and especially by Srila Saraswati Thakur. Srimad Bhagavatam has declared that the lust will be driven out of the heart, and one’s consciousness will come to the level of Krishna-prema; bodily consciousness will be forgotten and that will be overtaken by prema consciousness. One must get that position. So, why are we not getting it? Hari-nam is a transcendental vibration nondifferent from Krishna. We are chanting the Hare Krishna mahamantra, but in which way shall we chant? The mahamantra manifests Himself by appearing in your heart and dancing on your tongue, but if Hari-nam is transcendental, then I cannot chant with my mundane tongue. This is the truth: the mundane cannot play with the transcendental. Only when the mundane becomes itself transcendental can it come in touch with the transcendental Name. It is very clear, so, somehow or another, we must make ourselves transcendental.
There is a very nice analogy of the moon. The moon is always in the sky, but sometimes it is obscured by the clouds. Sometimes we can see it, and sometimes we cannot. So, the position of Hari-nam is like that. Like the cloud, we are always coming and going, and, according to our standard of chanting, sometimes Hari-nam may reveal a glimpse and sometimes He will remain covered. Then, finally, He will reveal himself in our hearts. When we are getting some result, then we can say, “Yes, it is the truth.” But if we get nothing, then we will become hopeless and think, “Why should I spend my time for that?” But behind that we will have to see that the reason is because I cannot chant properly.
We can see that in every religion there is the chanting of the Lord’s Name in one form or another, so they cannot all be wrong. So, we can understand that there is great benefit in chanting the Lord’s Name. There is no doubt. And further, in the scriptures of India, it is recorded that if you chant this particular mantra, then you will get this particular result, another mantra, another particular result. The ancient rsis and munis have discovered and proven this. A rsi is he who can discover something in the field of Vedic religion, a ‘PhD’ of religion, and a muni is he who is successfully practising the Vedic religion.
The rsis and munis are all chanting the Lord’s Name. Lord Siva, Lord Brahma, the demigods, and gods are all chanting the Lord’s Name. Then, inside of the chanting, like the nux-vomica, there is medicine for us. Krishna-nam is a form of Krishna, and if you chant the Holy Name of your Lord, then you must get the result. So, what is the process to chant properly?
Sriman Mahaprabhu has given the threefold process: humility, tolerance, and honouring others. If we cannot chant properly, then in some way we are not following that process. It is our ego. We are getting some result, no doubt, otherwise we would give up chanting Hari-nam. Also, Bhakti Vinod Thakur has said that if we cannot avoid the Nam-aparadh, offence to the Name—and in all probability we will not be able to avoid—but if our intention is to try to avoid that, then we should pray to Hari-nam, “O Hari-nam, I cannot properly chant Your holy form, so please reveal Yourself within my heart and purify me.” And Bhakti Vinod Thakur has said, “Chanting, chanting, chanting, chanting—somehow, in any way, we need to get the attention of the Holy Name.” In this way, we must get the desired result. I can say it is so. Otherwise, if it were only cheating, then I would have left it long ago. My nature is like that. I do not want to cheat anybody. I cannot beg from anybody, and I cannot cheat others. But sincerely I say to you, that you will get that result if you chant in this way, following the process of Mahaprabhu, and carefully guarding against making any offence to the Vaisnavas.
Then, we should pray to Sri Hari-nam, “O my Lord, You are transcendental, and I am living within this mundane world. I am a jiva-soul, and so I am also transcendental by nature, but due to misuse of my finite independence, I am covered by illusion, covered by ego. Please be kind upon me. O Hari-nam, give me Your mercy and reveal Yourself within my heart.” This must be our mood of prayer.
I heard from Srila Guru Maharaj that when his godbrother Srimad Parvat Maharaj was a young boy, he used to live in the house next door to Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur. He told us, “In my young age, I heard every night from about 2 a.m. until the morning, Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur would chant the mahamantra on his rooftop, but you could hear that his chanting was more like calling, a heartfelt call to his Lord.” So, we must be serious about our chanting, and we must make obeisance to Guru and Vaisnava. We should know our Guru as perfect, but who is a Vaisnava, that we do not know, and to what extent one is a Vaisnava, that we also do not know. Someone may be twenty-five per cent, another seventy per cent, and another may be one hundred per cent, or only five per cent, we do not know. But we should know that everybody has some good qualities whether they are a demon or a saint, but who is a Vaisnava we do not know.
So, we must give honour to all, be respectful to everyone, and be surrendered to the will of God, then the Vaisnavas must be kind to us. That is the process given by Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur. It may be hard to follow that, but if we really need the true result, then we must proceed only in this way. And proper adjustment will be constantly required. Suppose someone will kick my father in front of me. If I will tolerate that and be humble, then he may kill my father. My father is to be protected by me. I am his young son, and he is old and weak, therefore it is my duty to protect him. So, what is humility and what is tolerance, everything will need to be adjusted. And Srila Prabhupad Saraswati Thakur has given that adjustment. He says that to just make some show of being very humble, lower than a blade of grass, will not be sufficient. Of course, that is the fact, but some substance must be within your heart, and that must be the perfect substance. In every situation, you must have some realisation. Should someone abuse your Guru in your presence, then what will you do? If you think, “I am very humble, and I shall be tolerant of him”, then that is not real trnad api sunichena. We find the proper response in the person of Sriman Mahaprabhu, who preaches this philosophy. When Sridhar Swami, the original commentator of Srimad Bhagavatam, was insulted by Vallabha Acharya, then Mahaprabhu said, “Oh, you do not give recognition to Sridhar Swami? Who will not give respect to their swami, they are a prostitute.”
prabhu hasi’ kahe, “svami na mane yei jana
vesyara bhitare tare kariye ganana”
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Antya-lila, 7.115)
Then, everywhere there is harmony, some adjustment, and with full consciousness we shall try to chant the Hare Krishna mahamantra. Under proper guidance, we can read everything. We have a right to read, but that must be under the guidance of a perfect person who knows fully that plane, then no offence will come to us in any way, and we shall not become prakrta-sahajiyas.
Knowledge just for its own sake has no real value and will not give us our real goal. I recently met one old friend in New York. He is a disciple of Srila Swami Maharaj Prahupad and famous as a pandit. He is accumulating much scriptural knowledge and learning, and he is constantly questioning me, and all very taxing, complex, scriptural questions. Finally, I told him, “Prabhu, what are you doing? You are questioning me, and I am giving you answers, but then are you proceeding or are you remaining in your present position? If you think you are getting any benefit from me, then why are you not coming with me? Why are you remaining here? Come forward with me, otherwise why spend my time?” I asked him, “Are you satisfied with my answers?”
He replied, “Yes, Maharaj, I am very satisfied.”
“Then what will you do with my answers? If that does not reflect in your life, then all your questions are useless, and all of my answers are useless to you. My time is wasted, and your time is wasted. If you are satisfied with my answers, then why are you not coming with me?”
Then, he replied, “Oh, Maharaj, I have no money. I cannot come right now.”
We must be very serious in our practising life, then I can give you a guarantee that you must get your goal. You are in the line of Srila Guru Maharaj, and you have the mercy of Srila Swami Maharaj and Srila Prabhupad Saraswati Thakur, then you must get it, but you must be very conscious about your practising life. I have seen many in our line who think they are proceeding very happily and practising very happily, but they are not seeing themselves through my eyes.
Once, I said, “What is devotion and what is emotion? Are you under emotion or are you under devotion? You cannot see.” Hearing this Sripad Janardan Maharaj said, “Oh Maharaj, you are chastising me.”
Actually, it is not to chastise anyone. I want to be serious for everyone and for myself also. Already sixty-four years of my life have passed and how much longer I shall live I do not know. If we are under emotion, then we must leave that and try to go to devotion. Heart and soul I am trying. Guru Maharaj gave me some service. Previously, in the time of Guru Maharaj, whatever service I did, he would digest. If I did right or if I did wrong, he is digesting that, and my service is getting some position, but now all my good and bad is coming to me, and so I must be even more serious. And all the devotees are really very good, otherwise why are they coming in the line of Krishna consciousness? Then, I must be serious for them also. I must teach them, “Please come this way, and don’t go that way.” That is my duty given by Srila Guru Maharaj, and if I can do that seriously and with all sincerity, then they will get the result, I will get the result, and visvam purnam sukhayate: the whole world will be benefitted.
Our Lord’s Beloved Power
om ajnana-timirandhasya jnananjana-salakaya
chaksur unmilitam yena tasmai sri-gurave namah
vanchha-kalpa-tarubhyas cha krpa-sindhubhya eva cha
patitanam pavanebhyo vaisnavebhyo namo namah
namo mahavadanyaya krsna-prema-pradaya te
krsnaya krsna-chaitanya-namne gaura-tvise namah
he krsna karuna-sindho dina-bandho jagat-pate
gopesa gopika-kanta radha-kanta namo ’stu te
tapta-kanchana-gaurangi radhe vrndavanesvari
vrsabhanu-sute devi pranamami hari-priye
Today is Sri Radhastami, the appearance day of Srimati Radharani. In the scriptures, especially Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta, there is much glorification of Srimati Radharani.
hladinira sara ‘prema’, prema-sara ‘bhava’
bhavera parama-kastha, nama—‘maha-bhava’
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Adi-lila, 4.68–69)
“The essence of ecstasy is love; the essence of love is heart; and the acme of heart is called ‘mahabhava’. And the personality of mahabhava is our Queen, Sri Radha Thakurani. She is the mine of all good, the jewel of Krishna’s beloveds.”
We can understand the identification of Srimati Radharani in this way: the Power and the Powerful are nondifferent, but when the Power wants to play with the Powerful, They are taking different forms. One is Power, and the other is Powerful.
radha krsna-pranaya-vikrtir hladini saktir asmad
ekatmanav api bhuvi pura deha-bhedam gatau tau
chaitanyakhyam prakatam adhuna tad-dvayam chaikyam aptam
radha-bhava-dyuti-suvalitam naumi krsna-svarupam
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Adi-lila, 1.5)
Although the divine form of Radha-Krishna is one, sometimes for the Pastimes of love, the Power and the Powerful play together as two. There we will see hladini-sakti playing with Krishna in full love, beauty, charm, and affection. That is the form of Srimati Radharani.
Pranaya-vikrtir: where Love Herself is taking form and playing with the Powerful, that is Srimati Radharani. Srila Svarup Damodar Prabhu has explained that Krishna’s power is classified in three manifestations: first is chit-sakti [transcendental potency], the second is jada-sakti [mundane potency], and the third is where the first two come very close to each other, and that is called tatastha-sakti. First is light, second is shadow, and third is the position midway between the two. That is called tatastha. And from that third plane, the innumerable jiva-souls are manifest. Krishna, the Powerful, with these three powers in their fullness, is playing in the Paravyoma Dham. There, unlimited manifestations of the Lord are living, all within the infinite plane. And in Vrndavan, where Krishna’s play is overflowing with love and affection, everything is for the satisfaction of the Powerful. There, love has five manifestations: santa, dasya, sakhya, vatsalya, and madhura. And madhura is of two types: consorthood [svakiya] and paramour [parakiya]. Where we see the supreme manifestation of madhura-rasa, there we see the manifestation of Srimati Radharani. She is hladini-sakti, and hladini-sakti is further explained in Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta:
krsnake ahlade, tate nama—‘hladini’
sei sakti-dvare sukha asvade apani
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 8.156)
“That power which is always supplying service for the satisfaction of Krishna, and through which comes full happiness, full joy, and full ecstasy, that is called by the name ‘hladini’.”
In that realm everything is eternal, and we cannot properly conceive that within our mundane intelligence. Therefore, Sriman Mahaprabhu has said it is achintya. We have seen in the garden of one lady, a tree with three different types of fruit growing from it. Apricot, pear, and plum, all growing on the same tree. I often use the example that if I ask a banana tree to please give me a mango, it will not be able to give that, not in this world. But after seeing that tree—actually two or three trees were there—I can say that it is possible, but still unbelievable. So, if in this mundane world it is possible, then why not in the transcendental world?
laksavrtesu surabhir abhipalayantam
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami
(Sri Brahma-samhita: 5.29)
[“Surrounded by millions of wish-fulfilling trees, in abodes made of multitudes of wish-yielding gems, He who tends the ever-yielding cows and who is perpetually served with great affection by hundreds of thousands of Laksmis—the Primeval Lord, Govinda, do I worship.”]
The explanation of Goloka Dham given in Sri Brahma-samhita is inconceivable from this plane, but it exists eternally, and there all play is going on by the power of Srimati Radharani. She is always trying to satisfy Krishna in so many ways. Her form is most beautiful, and Krishna is also so nice and beautiful. When They are playing together, the whole transcendental universe also plays through that mood of Their love.
Here is the shadow universe where jada-sakti is the power, and that power is also eternal. Still, in the shadow, we cannot clearly see everything. The shadow of my hand will not show the colour of my hand, and many other things are unmanifest in the shadow. That jada-sakti can also be divided into three: gross matter, subtle matter or the mental plane, and the ego or ahankar. These three cover the jiva-soul, so we are unable to perceive our real self.
Where the play of the Power and the Powerful is always manifest, that is called Vaikunthaloka, and there unlimited manifestations of the Lord are playing eternally. And where that play is supreme, where the principal manifestation of the Power and the Powerful is to be found, that place is called Goloka Vrndavan. There the Powerful is known by many Names: Krishna, Nanda Nandan, Yasoda Nandan, Syamasundar, Govinda, and many more, and the Power is manifest fully as Srimati Radharani. She also appears in many divine forms—the sakhis, the manjaris, and others—for the service of Krishna. It is said in Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta:
krsnera yateka khela sarvottama nara-lila
nara-vapu tahara svarupa
gopa-vesa, venu-kara nava-kisora, nata-vara
nara-lilara haya anurupa
“The most supreme form of Godhead is Krishna, who plays in His eternal divine Pastimes just like a human being, an ever-youthful cowherd boy of Vrndavan. He enacts His Pastimes, always playing His flute and dancing expertly.”
The devotees here in this world, those who have received exclusive devotion through the mercy of the Power, can see the Pastimes of Krishna, and they are distributing that to us through the scriptures, through themselves, and through their agents—the rsis, munis, and sadhus. Sometimes, Krishna Himself, with His full paraphernalia and associates, reveals Himself in this material world, and that is called lila. Lila means that which looks like our own activities, but it is not exactly that—similar yet entirely different.
astavimsa chatur-yuge dvaparera sese
vrajera sahite haya krsnera prakase
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Adi-lila, 3.10)
When Krishna appeared in Dvapar-yuga, the Yuga-avatar Krishna and the original Powerful Krishna manifested in this mundane world in a combined way. In Dvaraka, Mathura, and Vrndavan, Krishna manifested Himself in different ways. They are all eternal and transcendental, but there is some difference. Acharya Srila Rupa Goswami has explained this as purna, purnatara, and purnatama: perfect, more perfect, and most perfect, respectively. Those Pastimes begin with the janma-lila, the appearance of Lord Krishna. Krishna says in Srimad Bhagavad-gita (4.9):
janma karma cha me divyam evam yo vetti tattvatah
tyaktva deham punar janma naiti mam eti so ’rjuna
“Those who can properly understand (vetti tattvatah) My birth and activities will never again be subject to the cycle of birth and death.” So, who can really understand that?
His birth and death are not the same as ours. They are like the rising and setting of the sun. Surya is rising and setting in the path of our vision, but he is not born at sunrise and does not die at sunset. Krishna’s birth and death is something like that.
When the Power Herself, Srimati Radharani, appears in this world, along with the Powerful Himself, Sri Krishna, She is fully replete with all beauty, all charm, all love, all affection, and all harmony. And when Their play is moving in Vrndavan, the whole atmosphere—the plants, the trees, the earth, everything—is purna, perfect.
sriyah kantah kantah parama-purusah kalpa-taravo
druma bhumis chintamani-gana-mayi toyam amrtam
katha ganam natyam gamanam api vamsi priya-sakhi
chid-anandam jyotih param api tad asvadyam api cha
sa yatra ksirabdhih sravati surabhibhyas cha sumahan
nimesardhakhyo va vrajati na hi yatrapi samayah
bhaje svetadvipam tam aham iha golokam iti yam
vidantas te santah ksiti-virala-charah katipaye
(Sri Brahma-samhita: 5.56)
[“That place where the divine Goddesses of fortune are the beloved, and Krishna, the Supreme Male, is the only lover; all the trees are divine wish-fulfilling trees; the soil is made of transcendental gems and the water is nectar; where every word is a song, every movement is dancing, the flute is the dearmost companion, sunlight and moonlight are divine ecstasy, and all that be is divine and enjoyable; where a great ocean of milk eternally flows from the udders of billions of surabhi cows, and the divine time is eternally present, never suffering the estrangement of past and future for even a split second … that supreme transcendental abode of Svetadwip do I adore. Practically no one in this world knows that place but for only a few pure devotees—and they know it as Goloka.”]
This is the explanation, but still we cannot conceive it entirely, so the sastra says it is achintya. When you enter into that transcendental abode, then you will feel and understand. Before that, it will be astonishing to you.
Srimati Radharani appeared on this day five thousand years ago, and She played with Krishna in Vrndavan, manifesting full paramour love with Him. Srila Rupa Goswami, knowing that our vision is not very deep, has written that although Their play is like that of a man and woman, it is in fact completely different from this mundane nature. Some expression has been given in the scriptures because there is no other way to express it, but what kind of love Srimati Radharani has for Krishna, and what kind of love Krishna has for Srimati Radharani—we cannot conceive of it.
pidabhir nava-kala-kuta-katuta-garvasya nirvasano
nisyandena mudam sudha-madhurimahankara-sankochanah
prema sundari nanda-nandana-paro jagarti yasyantare
jnayante sphutam asya vakra-madhuras tenaiva vikrantayah
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 2.52)
The nature of the love of Radha and Krishna is described in this verse. It is like the burning pain caused by a cobra’s bite which can cause unconsciousness within minutes; such inconceivable pain comes through that love. Similarly, the happiness coming through that love is like all ecstasy coming together, taking form, and giving inconceivable joy in the heart.
akaitava krsna-prema yena jambu-nada-hema
sei prema nrloke na haya
yadi haya tara yoga na haya tabe viyoga
viyoga haile keha na jiyaya
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 2.43)
Who has that type of love for Krishna, he cannot be separated from that in any way at any time, and if somehow separation does occur, then he or she must surely die.
Srila Rupa Goswami has written:
disi disi rachayantim sancharan netra-laksmi-
vilasita-khuralibhih khanjaritasya khelam
akhila-guna-gabhiram radhikam archchayami
And Sri Prabhodananda Saraswati has given the following verse in praise of Srimati Radharani:
yasyah kadapi vasananchala-khelanottha-
yogindra-durgama-gatir madhusudano ’pi
tasya namo ’stu vrsabhanubhuvo dise ’pi
The meaning is a very high matter to discuss in a public meeting. Our Gurus have given very strong caution in this regard, and that is always checking our tongue. Srila Guru Maharaj has written that Sukadev Goswami, Lord Siva, and Lord Brahma have all given indication from afar (Suka-Siva-Brahmadi-sammanitam), but all are reluctant to take the Name of Srimati Radharani publicly, and why is that? The reason is that they are fearful that we will mix that highest thing with sahajiyaism, imitationism. A warning is given in Srimad Bhagavatam itself:
vikriditam vraja-vadhubhir idan cha visnoh
sraddhanvito ’nusrnuyad atha varnayed yah
bhaktim param bhagavati pratilabhya kamam
hrd-rogam asv apahinoty achirena dhirah
The meaning is that if you hear about the Pastimes of Krishna with the gopis, then from your physical and subtle body, lust will be driven out, and you will become dhira, or liberated with the mood of real devotion. But we are warned about how to hear and the correct way to discuss these things. This is also given in this verse: sraddhanvitah and anusrnuyat. First strong faith in those Pastimes is necessary, and secondly you must hear those Pastimes only from a perfect master, who is himself liberated and in full knowledge. Without fulfilling these two conditions, if you try to discuss these matters, you will be in a very dangerous position.
naitat samacharej jatu manasapi hy anisvarah
vinasyaty acharan maudhyad yatha ’rudro ’bdhi-jam visam
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 10.33.30)
Without following the proper course, to hear and discuss these things will be as dangerous as trying to drink poison in imitation of Lord Siva. These things must be heard, but strictly under the guidance of an expert, otherwise you will lose. We can discuss these slokas of Prabhodananda Saraswati a little, but I do not like to enter into that in public, rather I will try to glorify our Lord’s beloved Power in another way.
Before I began today, we sang Sri Sri Radhika Stutih by Srila Rupa Goswami. There, he is glorifying Srimati Radharani: Radhe jaya jaya Madhava-dayite. She is the dearmost Power of Krishna, Madhava. Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu has used this word ‘Madhava’. ‘Ma’ means Laksmi Devi, and Laksmi Devi also wants entrance into the Rasa-lila of Sri Krishna. When Krishna shows His majestic form of Narayan, the Power there is Laksmi Devi. In Narayan, we will find dasya-rasa and ardha-sakhya [half friendship]. No one will say to Narayan, “O my friend Narayan, please come here.” But that is possible with Krishna. After tasting a very sweet fruit, we cannot then offer that to Narayan, but again that is possible with Krishna. So, we can say that a more beautiful relationship is found with Lord Krishna. We can play with Krishna, but we cannot play with Narayan. Laksmi Devi is always serving Narayan in a very honourable way, whereas the gopis are treating Krishna as their boyfriend, and so Laksmi Devi aspires to enter into that group. The lila of Sri Ramachandra is also different from that of Krishna. Sri Ramachandra is so beautiful that the rsis of Dandakaranya wanted to play with Him. They offered to take the form of girls to play with Him, but He told them, “It is not possible in this Avatar, but when Krishna appears in Dvapar-yuga, then you can take the form of girlfriends and play with Me. But that form must be Krishna.”
Krishna has five kinds of relationship with the devotees, and this is not found in any other manifestation of the Lord. Srimad Bhagavatam says:
ete chamsa-kalah pumsah krsnas tu bhagavan svayam
indrari-vyakulam lokam mrdayanti yuge yuge
isvarah paramah krsnah sach-chid-ananda-vigrahah
anadir adir govindah sarva-karana-karanam
(Sri Brahma-samhita: 5.1)
Sarva-karana-karanam means the cause of all causes and the creator of all creators. Transcendental or mundane, He is the supreme origin. “Reality is for Itself and by Itself.” If Reality was existing for another, then that ‘other’ would hold the highest position. Even Narayan cannot claim the position of Krishna. In the abode of Narayan, there are two and a half rasas existing. In Dvaraka-lila, we see that Krishna has 16,108 queens, and they are all married to Krishna. But in Vraja Dham, Krishna has no marriage relationship. There His relationships are all paramour. In this world, that relationship is very bad.
To make harmony in this mundane world, some laws have been introduced: “You do not take my wife, and I will not take your wife.” This is harmonious adjustment, and for that purpose many scriptural rules are also given here. But where nothing bad can exist, that plane where nothing can be touched by anything dirty, there paramour love is super beautiful. There, only the consciousness of the paramour is present, and through that consciousness, they are tasting paramour love. That is so beautiful, surpassing the beauty of even consorthood. We may not be able to conceive of that from this plane, but the scripture can see, and it is existing there. And from time to time, it is revealed here.
sri-krsna-chaitanya prabhu jive daya kari’
svaparsada sviya dhama saha avatari’
When Krishna mercifully wants to show His Pastimes in the mundane world, He reveals that along with all His associates and paraphernalia. When Krishna appears, then Srimati Radharani also appears as the full Power, along with all of Her associates. Perhaps you have heard how She appeared.
One day, Vrsabhanu Raja, while at the River Yamuna, saw a small baby girl lying in a lotus flower. He was very surprised, and so he took that baby and gave Her to his wife, Mother Kirtida. When everyone heard, they were delighted that Maharaj Vrsabhanu and Mother Kirtida had got a daughter. Everyone believed that She was their daughter born from a lotus. That is the nature and devotional mood of the faithful plane.
Everyone worshipped Vrsabhanu Raja and Kirtida, praising them for their beautiful daughter, but She would not open Her eyes. Anyhow, within a few days, Mother Yasoda heard that Raja Vrsabhanu and Mother Kirtida had a nice newborn girl, and so, with baby Krishna, she came to see. When Mother Yasoda took that beautiful girl on her lap, Krishna also tried to see, and when Krishna was looking into the face of Radharani, She opened Her eyes for the very first time. Everyone was stunned and thought, “Oh, this boy is very auspicious, when He touched this girl, She opened Her eyes.” This was Her first darsan, the first meeting of the Power and the Powerful.
Then later, Radharani was growing up in the house of Maharaj Vrsabhanu, and She was very beautiful and very intelligent, and qualified in so many ways. Then one day, Rsi Durvasa came to the house of Maharaj Vrsabhanu, and Srimati Radharani cooked very nicely for him. Durvasa was so pleased with Her that he gave Her a boon that whatever She cooked would taste of ecstasy, and whoever will eat Her cooking will get a long life.
Mother Yasoda heard of that boon, so every day she would call Srimati Radharani to cook something for Krishna. Even after Srimati Radharani was married to Abhimanyu, She had an open invitation. She was so happy, and Abhimanyu was also very happy. Sometimes he is also taking that prasadam. This is nitya-lila.
In Vraja Dham, they do not like to say ‘Srimati’ Radharani. In Bengal, they say ‘Srimati Radharani’, but in Vraja Dham they say ‘Sri Radha’. We are adding ‘Srimati’, but they do not like that. They cannot say why, but they don’t like it. In the Bengali poetry of Chandi Das, Vidyapati, and others, the word ‘Srimati’ is often found, and Sriman Mahaprabhu relished that.
So, Sri Prabodhananda Saraswatipad has given this sloka:
yasyah kadapi vasananchala-khelanottha-
yogindra-durgama-gatir madhusudano ’pi
tasya namo ’stu vrsabhanubhuvo dise ’pi
He has expressed that when Srimati Radharani is moving, some breeze is coming from Her clothing, and then that breeze is touching Krishna. And Krishna is feeling so fortunate at feeling that breeze, it is giving Him so much joy, and that is Her qualification. Srila Prabhodananda Saraswati has given this explanation, but when he is giving his pranam, he says,“Tasya namo ’stu Vrsabhanubhuvodise ’pi: from a respectful distance, I am offering my dandavat pranam. Not directly to Srimati Radharani, but to the place of Her birth, Vrsabhanupur, in the direction of that most holy of holy places I am making my obeisance.”
Srila Rupa Goswami’s song continues, “Gokula-taruni-mandala-mahite.” That place, Gokula, where all the associates are very beautiful like Laksmi Devi, there they are all charmed to see the exquisite beauty of Srimati Radharani, who is always decorated with many beautiful garments and scented flowers.
Her Pastimes are going on eternally with Krishna in Sri Vrndavan Dham.
karunam kuru mayi karuna-bharite
Dadhi means the ocean. Just as the moon is said to have appeared from the ocean, so from the ocean of Vrsabhanuraj appeared Srimati Radharani. All liberated devotees, the highly qualified mukta-purusa devotees such as Sanaka and Sanatan, are always glorifying the abode of Krishna with His devotees and particularly the supreme servitor of Krishna, Srimati Radharani.
On this Radhastami day, Srila Guru Maharaj has given us the opportunity to sing the song by Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur:
radhika-charana-padma sakala sreyera sadma
yatane ne nahi aradhila
“I did not take care to worship the lotus feet of Sri Radhika, which are the abode of all auspiciousness.” The Rupanuga sampradaya gives some special, unique appreciation of Srimati Radharani. They feel that without the merciful connection of Srimati Radharani, they cannot approach towards Krishna at all. Only if the order is coming from Her will they move towards Him. They are extremely fanatical about Srimati Radharani, and that is their foremost qualification. In another song, Bhakti Vinod Thakur says:
radha-bhajane yadi mati nahi bhela
krsna-bhajana tava akarane gela
If you have no intention to serve Srimati Radharani, if your intention is only service to Sri Krishna, then you are surely spoiled.
atapa-rahita suraya nahi jani
radha-virahita madhava nahi mani
Just as without heat we cannot know the sun, so without Srimati Radharani there is no Krishna; the Powerful is Powerless. Kevala Madhava pujaye so ajnani: those who worship Krishna without Radharani, their conception must be imperfect. Who knows the glories of the Power must first worship the Power and then the Powerful.
uma, rama, satya, sachi, chandra, rukmini
radha-avatara sabe—amnaya vani
All the auspicious, powerful, divine women, such as Uma, Rama Devi—Laksmi, Satyabhama, Sati, Chandravali, and others, are the expansions of Srimati Radharani.
hena radha-paricharya yakara dhana
bhakati-vinoda tara magaye charana
Thus, Bhakti Vinod Thakur says in conclusion that he worships the lotus feet of those who worship the lotus feet of Srimati Radharani.
Srimati Radha Thakurani ki jay! May all glory be unto Her, the Power of powers, the Queen of Sri Krishna’s heart!
The Plane of Dedication
Devotee: Maharaj, could you explain the significance of the worship of Nrsimhadev in the Gaudiya–Vaisnava sampradaya.
Srila Govinda Maharaj: Nrsimhadev is described as Bhakti-vighna-vinasana: He is the killer of all the obstacles on the path of devotion. If the devotees make their obeisance to Nrsimhadev, and He is happy with them, then He will remove all the obstacles to their devotional life. The service of Nrsimhadev is in santa-rasa, and although the Gaudiya–Vaisnavas are praying to other forms of the Lord, such as Rama, Nrsimha, and Vaman, their only prayer is, “Make me perfect for the worship of Sri Krishna.” This is the line of the Gaudiya–Vaisnavas. They are not exclusive worshippers of any other incarnations of Lord Krishna. They exclusively worship Krishna, and more explicitly, only that Krishna who is worshipped by Srimati Radharani, who receives the service of Radharani, and who has so much love for Radharani. That is the Krishna worshipped by the Gaudiya–Vaisnavas.
Actually, in his exclusive devotional mood, Srila Guru Maharaj was not so enthusiastic for the devotees to visit Nrsimha Palli and worship Nrsimhadev there. The worship of Nrsimhadev is not in the line of exclusive devotion to Krishna. Of course, this is a very subtle point, and it should not be considered as an offence to Sri Nrsimhadev. What was the mood and conception of Guru Maharaj, that I can convey that to you. When devotees wanted to go to Nrsimha Palli, Guru Maharaj would say, “Why are you going to Nrsimha Palli? You pray to Nityananda Prabhu, and He will give everything to you.” But our intelligence and mentality are always mixed with mundanity, so sometimes we may think that Nrsimhadev can give us more help in our devotional life. It is true that Nrsimhadev can give us much help, but the Gaudiya–Vaisnavas are not thinking in that way. They worship Nrsimhadev and make their dandavat pranams to Nrsimhadev, but all their attention will be under the guidance of Radharani for the service of Krishna. This is the Gaudiya–Vaisnava line.
We have heard from Guru Maharaj that Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur would often chant on the roof of his house, and every morning at 4 o’clock a great wind would pass over his roof in the direction of Mayapur. Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur expressed his understanding of this miraculous wind as being Sri Nrsimhadev every day going to see the arati of Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu. So, although ordinarily it may be difficult to conceive, we can conclude that Nrsimhadev is also very eager to see the worship of Sriman Mahaprabhu.
Your father may be a very big, rich, and famous man, and another’s father may also be a very big, rich, and famous man. You may have much wealth, and I may be poor, but I am steadfastly devoted to my father even though my father may be poor, may not be important, or may not be famous. That is the mood of the Gaudiya–Vaisnavas. They do not care to know who is very big and who is very small, they only know their own Guru and their own path of life. In this way, they are proceeding under the guidance of Sri Guru in the Rupanuga line, worshipping Nityananda Prabhu and Mahaprabhu, who is nondifferent from Radha-Krishna. Their life’s goal is shown by Rupa Goswami Prabhu, that under the guidance of Lalita Devi we will give service to Radha-Krishna, and our supreme guardian is Srimati Radharani. This is the exclusive mood of the Gaudiya–Vaisnavas.
In Nrsimha Palli, you will see there are many people searching after mundane wealth. They are making puja to Nrsimhadev, binding a stone to the tree, and praying, “I need this. I want that.” Somebody is asking Nrsimhadev, “Please give me a child.” Another is asking, “Give me some wealth”, another, “Cure me or my son from this disease”, and they are hanging a stone, and after getting their desired result, they remove their stone and offer some puja to Nrsimhadev. In this way, this mundane worship is being conducted in Nrsimha Palli.
Sometimes our devotees—if they are very fickle and cannot understand—they think, “I would like to do some worship to Nrsimhadev”, and when they see this, they will also tie their rock to the tree and pray for something. Previously, the devotees visiting our Math might sometimes furtively go to Nrsimha Palli, and they would say, “Don’t tell Govinda Maharaj”, because they knew that I would give report to Guru Maharaj, and he may not be pleased.
Actually, this is how I was raised. I am trained by Guru Maharaj for exclusive devotion to Radha-Krishna, and I’ve not heard anything other than this conception from the first to the last time I heard from Srila Guru Maharaj. I have grown up with that conception, and I cannot compromise, but still I am compromising. Somewhat unhappily, I am compromising because I see that if I don’t compromise with others, then they may leave the sampradaya of Guru Maharaj. But the mood of Guru Maharaj was always exclusive devotion to the service of Radharani under the guidance of Lalita Devi. That is the mood of Guru Maharaj, and he cannot tolerate anything without this. Before 1980, there were only a few devotees living in Guru Maharaj’s Mission, and those devotees were also not so qualified but they were very affectionate and very attached to Guru Maharaj’s lotus feet, and due to that attachment and affection, they were following his orders. They did not know much siddhanta, but whatever order was coming from Guru Maharaj they would follow that. They only knew service, and they were very happy with that service.
I had not been to Nrsimha Palli before I went there during Nabadwip Parikrama about thirty years ago, perhaps, and when the Western devotees started to come and they wanted to see Nabadwip Dham, then I am sending some to Nrsimha Palli, some to Mayapur, some to Chapahati, and some to other places. It was only then that our connection with Nrsimhadev was there to some degree, but not before. Only once yearly we were going and giving some puja, with five hundred or perhaps a thousand devotees to Nrsimha Palli during parikrama. The intention was not to see any one particular place but rather the whole of Gaura Dham.
The Western devotees are coming from time to time, and all cannot come during the time of Nabadwip Parikrama. When they come, they want to see something of the Dham, and so sometimes we are sending devotees to Nrsimha Palli, and they are very interested when they hear that Nrsimhadev will give very easily. But the truth is that it is not so easy to get a boon from Nrsimhadev. It is very easy to get a boon from Lord Siva. If you ask for anything from Lord Siva, and offer some Ganges water and bael leaves, then he will happily give anything. His mood is like that. But Nrsimha is more difficult to please. Still, He is very merciful to the devotees, and He will give us some help in our devotional life. But the suddha bhaktas, the pure devotees, are not asking for anything from anybody. And if they do ask for anything, then they will ask Krishna. Their only business is with Krishna, and no one else. If you are indebted, you must be indebted to Krishna. If you are earning, then you earn from Krishna, and if you are gaining, you gain from Krishna. Their only transaction is with Krishna. This is the nature of the pure devotees.
There are many perspectives on the Absolute. What can I say? Srila Vyasadev has composed eighteen separate Puranas, the Mahabharata, and Vedanta-darsana, and so many other scriptures he has compiled for our adhikar. Adhikar means one’s position in devotion, and Vyasadev wants to bring us all to the line of Krishna-bhakti. He is trying to elevate all jivas, from every position of life, and for that reason he has compiled so many different scriptures. And if we meditate on this, we will realise that it is necessary to give a chance to others to move towards Krishna.
If we are to rigidly exclude the validity of anything but our own way, then others will not be able to proceed happily. There are many levels of development. We are making many varieties of prasadam because we are not easily satisfied with only one. So, similarly, there are many varieties of devotion, and we must accommodate that to give a chance to others. But for one who has exclusive devotion for Sri Sri Radha-Krishna, they cannot happily compromise. If you say you are a follower of the Gaudiya–Vaisnava line, then you are immediately separated from all other devotional moods.
The Gaudiya–Vaisnavas are a class of Vaisnava that only need the mercy of Srimati Radharani and nothing else. This final conclusion has been given to us by Srila Raghunath Das Goswami and Srila Rupa Goswami. Das Goswami says:
asa-bharair amrta-sindhuh mayaih kathanchit
kalo mayati-gamitah kila sampratam hi
tvan chet krpam mayi vidhasyasi naiva kim me
pranair vrajena cha varoru bakarinapi
“This is my only hope, O Radha, that one day You will bestow Your mercy upon my head, and for that I am waiting so long. Now I am over eighty, and I cannot tolerate it anymore. Please bestow Your mercy upon me. I am waiting on the banks of Sri Radha Kunda for Your mercy alone. Without Your mercy, I do not even want the mercy of Krishna.” This is his expression, and this is the line of the Gaudiya–Vaisnavas. They do not want the mercy of that Krishna who is not in the association of Radharani. The exclusive devotion of the Gaudiya–Vaisnavas is shown in the line of Rupa Goswami. That is the supreme goal of life: the service of Radharani under the guardianship of Her associates.
Rupa Goswami has written:
virachaya mayi dandam dina-bandho dayam va
gatir iha na bhavattah kachid anya mamasti
nipatatu sata-kotir nirbharam va navambhas
tad api kila payodah stuyate chatakena
(Sri Stava-mala: 1.16.1)
“I need one drop of water from the sky, but if it will not come, then I have nothing to do but to wait for that rain, and that will be my only sustenance. That is Your mercy. And sometimes a thunderbolt may come, but I must tolerate that. I want no other water except for the water that falls directly from the sky. I am waiting for that like the chatak bird. I need Your mercy and nothing else. O Krishna, if You give that mercy, I shall be satisfied, and I shall be full of joy. And if You will not grant me that, then I shall wait and, like the chatak bird, I will not look anywhere else.”
All the great Gaudiya Acharyas are followers of Sri Sri Rupa-Raghunath, and they are not going anywhere else. They are reading the Bhagavatam and all the Vaisnava scriptures, but when they find the mood of madhura-rasa, this part of Srimad Bhagavatam has the greatest attraction for them. Inside of Srimad Bhagavatam, there are many things other than the lila of Krishna—many stories—but they are not so much interested in this. They have passed many things, and now they are reading in the ‘master degree’ class. They have no time to learn the rudiments of language; they have passed that stage.
The line of Gaudiya–Vaisnavism is a very exclusive devotional mood, and you will get the whole conception in one place, and that is in chapter eight of Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta, Madhya-lila: the Lord’s conversation with Ramananda Ray. You will also find it in the Lord’s conversation with Raghupati Upadhyaya and specifically in the books Sri Krsna-karnamrta and Sri Brahma-samhita:
venum kvanantam aravinda-dalayataksam
govindam adi purusam tam aham bhajami
(Sri Brahma-samhita: 5.30)
[“Always playing the flute, His eyes like blooming lotus petals, His head adorned with a peacock feather, His beautiful form the hue of a blue cloud; with the unique beauty that charms millions of Cupids—the Primeval Lord, Govinda, do I adore.”]
All the explanations are going to show Krishna. Once, in Puri, Vallabha Bhatta approached Mahaprabhu and said, “You are preaching Krishna-nam, and I have given many explanations of the Name of Krishna. You please hear that.” And Mahaprabhu said, “No, I do not like to hear that. I cannot tolerate hearing many explanations of the Name of Krishna. Only that He is Syamasundar, and that He is Yasoda Nandan, the son of Mother Yasoda. That is sufficient for Me, and nothing more do we want to hear from anybody.” That is the expression of Mahaprabhu:
prabhu kahe, “krsna-namera bahu artha na mani
‘syamasundara’ ‘yasoda-nandana’ ei-matra jani”
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Antya-lila, 7.85)
We want to hear that He is Syamasundar and that He is Yasoda Nandan. This is His identity. Mahaprabhu asked Raghupati Upadhyaya, “What is the most beautiful form of Krishna?” And Upadhyaya said, “Syamam eva param rupam: Syamasundar is the topmost.”
“And what is the supreme land?” Upadhyaya replied, “Puri Madhu-puri vara: the transcendental land of Mathura, where there is Vrndavan.”
“And what is the best age of the Lord?” He said, “Vayah kaisorakam dhyeyam: from thirteen to fifteen, that age is the best.”
“What is the supreme rasa for the satisfaction of the Lord?” And he said, “Adya eva paro rasah: the supermost rasa is conjugal love.”
Then Mahaprabhu happily said, “Today I have learnt a new sloka from you.”
syamam eva param rupam puri madhu-puri vara
vayah kaisorakam dhyeyam adya eva paro rasah
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 19.106)
Mahaprabhu’s conception is very simple, but we are making it complicated in so many ways because we are tainted with a kind of uncleanliness. Mahaprabhu has given within His Siksastakam a sloka about Hari-nam-sankirtan, and I think this is sufficient for us. What could we need more than this?
anandambudhi-vardhanam prati-padam purnamrtasvadanam
sarvatma-snapanam param vijayate sri-krsna-sankirtanam
Cheto-darpana-marjanam: that is the full, clean position of the jiva. The mind, the consciousness, is being fully cleansed by the performance of Nam-sankirtan. But cleanliness, purity, on its own is not sufficient. When you are cleaning something, all the dirt that will come out as a result, you will have to do something with that. The dirty things—our mundane wealth, our mundane conceptions, all our evil tendencies—what will we do with them? Bhava-mahadavagni-nirvapanam: you make a fire there, and that fire of Nam-sankirtan will burn all those things to ashes. First you will clean your house, and then you will burn all the filth accumulated there. And then in its place you will need to establish something good. Sreyah-kairava-chandrika-vitaranam vidya-vadhu-jivanam: you can start a new life there, and you will see the nectarean ray of Krishna-nam bestowing grace upon your head—the service of Sri Krishna in madhura-rasa. Sometimes I think that this one sloka is sufficient. There we find Chaitanya, Advaita, and Nityananda.
When Sri Chaitanya appears in our heart, then all that is ‘achaitanya’ flees from there. Then Sri Advaita: the feeling of so ’ham, which means Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and I am a part of Him. And Nityananda: ecstasy, nectar, everything. Through the chanting of Hari-nam, the nondifferent form of Krishna, the Pastimes of Krishna will play in the heart.
anandambudhi-vardhanam prati-padam purnamrtasvadanam
sarvatma-snapanam param vijayate sri-krsna-sankirtanam
Siksastakam is the gist of all slokas, and in this first sloka we can see that everything is contained there—the living conception of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Who has the eyes, he can see. Ajnana-timirandhasya: this is the main thing that we need. Through love and hankering and through the mercy of Krishna, you can reach the service plane of Krishna. It is hard to leave the plane of exploitation, and the plane of renunciation is very harsh without the mercy of Krishna. But dedication, the plane of reality, can clean us. It can give us a higher, authentic position in the transcendental world. This is the plane of dedication.
Srila Madhavendra Puripad—
The Sprout of Love Divine
Today is a most auspicious day: the holy disappearance day of Srila Madhavendra Puripad. The sprout of divine love for Krishna (Krishna-premankur) appeared in this world in the form of Srila Madhavendra Puri. Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu glorified Srila Madhavendra Puri so much. Nityananda Prabhu and Advaita Prabhu were disciples of Srila Madhavendra Puri.
Isvar Puri and so many other sannyasis of that time were very famous. You know Isvar Puri was the very devoted and intimate servitor of Srila Madhavendra Puri, and it was he who appeared as the Guru of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. So, Srila Madhavendra Puri’s position is so high in our sampradaya.
Actually, we formally introduce our sampradaya as the Brahma–Madhva–Gaudiya sampradaya, but Madhva Acharya received initiation from Vyasadev in Badarik Ashram, Vyasadev received inititation from Narad Goswami, the famous Narad Goswami is both the son and disciple of Lord Brahma, and Brahma was initiated by Krishna.
So, our sampradaya started from Krishna, but at a certain period after Madhva Acharya, the Krishna conception was hidden but again took a very brilliant form through Srila Madhavendra Puri. By the grace of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, we consider him to be the actual Guru of raga-marg. The path of loving service divine made its appearance in this world through Srila Madhavendra Puri. The sprout of Krishna-prema has appeared as Srila Madhavendra Puri, and after that came the great tree in the form of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. As you know, Mahaprabhu is the nondifferent form of Sri Sri Radha-Govinda. All His associates, such as Sri Rupa Goswami and Sri Sanatan Goswami, appeared in our exalted Rupanuga sampradaya. From Krishna to Srila Madhavendra Puri is one part, and another part is from Srila Madhavendra Puri up to our Guru Maharaj. Today is the disappearance day of that Srila Madhavendra Puri.
He was a very intimate devotee of Krishna and Radharani. Radharani Herself fully bestowed Her mercy upon Srila Madhavendra Puri. When Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was on His way to Puri Dham, He told the transcendental story of Srila Madhavendra Puri to His associates as they halted at Remuna, Odisha. Mahaprabhu said that He had heard this from Isvar Puri.
Srila Madhavendra Puri was of a very renounced mentality. He never asked anything from others, but whatever came to him, he accepted as the mercy of Krishna. He never begged for food, but he would accept whatever he required when it was given to him. If he didn’t receive anything at all, he would fast that day; but he would not go to anyone’s house for begging. That was his nature. He was always chanting the Name of Krishna. In this way, he circumambulated all over India, especially Vrndavan. Now, Mahaprabhu told his story to His devotees in Remuna.
One day, Srila Madhavendra Puri was circumambulating Govardhan, and at night he stayed there under a tree at Govinda Kunda. He did not beg at any house for food; Krishna appeared to him in the form of a cowherd boy, bringing milk. Krishna said, “Oh, Puri Gosai, I see that you don’t go to anyone’s house for food; now the ladies of this village have sent this milk for you. Take it.”
Srila Madhavendra Puri was very surprised at how they could have known he was fasting. So, he asked that boy, “How do you know I am fasting?” The boy said, “The ladies came for taking water from the pond, and they saw you. They felt that you were hungry, so they sent this milk. Take it. I have some duties to do, milking the cows, so I shall go for that and come back again and take this pot back.”
Seeing that boy’s effulgence, Madhavendra Puri was astonished. Anyway, he took that milk and waited to return the pot to the boy, but the boy didn’t return. Madhavendra Puri sat there chanting the Name of Krishna until after midnight, when he fell asleep. He saw that boy come to him in his dream, revealing His identity:
‘sri-gopala’ nama mora,—govardhana-dhari
vajrera sthapita, ami iha adhikari
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 4.41)
“My name is Sri Gopal, and I am the master of this village. Vajra [Krishna’s grandson] installed Me as Sri Gopal, and from that day I have lived here.
“But there were disturbances from the anti-religious section, and they wanted to disturb Me, so My servitor kept me in a kunja [grove] of Govardhan and fled. From that day, I am living in this grove. See, here is that place. I am suffering very much here from the cold, heat, rain, and wind. So, bring the people of the village and bring Me out of this place. Establish My worship in a Math on top of the Govardhan Hill. For so long I have been waiting for you, Madhava, to come and do My service.”
Madhavendra Puri awoke, and fell to weeping. Then he composed himself to follow the order of the Lord. He assembled many of the villagers with implements, spades, shovels, and other things, and they all worked hard to clear the entrance to the grove, which had become thickly overgrown with jungle creepers and plants. The Thakur was extremely heavy, and only the strongest men together were able to lift Him. Then Madhavendra Puri had them bring Him to the top of Govardhan Hill, where He was placed on a large rock altar, with another rock behind as a support. Madhavendra Puri arranged many brahmans for the Lord’s grand worship. He made all those brahmans into Vaisnavas, and arranged for the great festival of Annakut where a mountain of rice and other foods is offered to the Lord. That festival was seen to be identical with the same festival that was performed by Nanda Maharaj by the wish of Krishna. The news spread, and thousands and thousands of people from different villages attended that festival with great joy. Everyone was astonished to see the transcendental power of Srila Madhavendra Puripad.
There were hundreds of different preparations offered to the Lord, yet that night Madhavendra Puri put the Lord to rest and himself took nothing but a little milk. And every day there was such a grand festival. Madhavendra Puri accepted as disciples two of those brahmans, and they continued the worship of Gopal in a royal style as befitting the Lord.
Then Srila Madhavendra Puri got a dream in which Gopal told him to fetch Malayaja sandlewood and have it smeared on His body, to give Him relief from the burning heat. Madhavendra Puri arranged for the Lord’s proper worship in his absence and went to Bengal. At Santipur he initiated Sri Advaita Prabhu. Then he continued on to Remuna in the south, eight kilometres from Balesvara. There, he had the darsan of Gopinath.
As before, he never asked anyone for food. But he wanted to know what was being offered to Gopinath. The brahman there described to him all the offerings, and told him how in the evening they were offering Gopinath twelve pots of ksir or condensed milk. For a moment Madhavendra Puri thought, “If I could get a little of that ksir and taste it, I could make the same thing to offer to Krishna when I go back to Vrndavan.” But immediately he felt to revile himself as unchaste, only for the thought to taste that ksir. He left, and went to the village market, and sat under a tree there, chanting the Holy Name of the Lord.
In the meantime, the pujari made the offering (bhoga) to Gopinath as usual. He or the other brahmans there didn’t particularly think anything about Madhavendra Puri. After the offering they all took the prasadam. After going to sleep, the head pujari got a dream in which Gopinath told him, “O pujari, you don’t know it, but I have stolen a pot of ksir for Madhavendra Puri and hidden it under My cloth. He is My best devotee, he has come here, and now he is staying in a marketplace. He is fasting; go and give this ksir prasadam to him. You thought that you took twelve pots back out from the offering, but it is not so. By My illusion you took only eleven pots, and one pot is still underneath My cloth. Take that, and give it to Madhava Puri.”
That pujari was astonished. Anyway, he went and opened the door, and found the pot of ksir under the cloth of Gopinath. A beautiful fragrance emanated from that ksir prasadam. He immediately took it and went from one marketplace to another, calling loudly:
ksira laha ei, yara nama ‘madhava-puri’
toma lagi’ gopinatha ksira kaila churi
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 4.133)
“Oh! Madhava Puri! Where are you? Take this ksir; Gopinath has stolen it for you. He knows you are hungry, and He has stolen this ksir just for you. Where is the person called Madhava Puri?”
Madhavendra Puri was surprised and finally admitted his identity, “I am here”. And that pujari glorified him profusely and said, “Gopinath Himself stole this ksir for you. So take it.” Madhavendra Puri took that ksir. He was so intoxicated with divine love; he ate that ksir prasadam with great ecstasy and kept the remains of the clay pot, tying it in a knot of his cloth.
But he thought that tomorrow this news would spread to all corners and everyone would consider him a great soul. So, he fled Remuna out of the fear of fame, and went to Jagannath Puri. But when he arrived at Puri Dham, he found that everyone knew who he was, and how Gopinath had stolen the ksir for him. The news had already reached Puri before him. So, he could not conceal himself from anyone.
As Krishnadas Kaviraj mentioned in his Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta, “It’s well known in the world that name and fame runs after those who are indifferent to it.” This is the nature of fame, and such was the case with Madhavendra Puri. When he was recognised by everyone, he also thought of the positive side of it—he would be helped in collecting that sandlewood for Gopal. The King’s ministers and entourage, and so many servitors of Sri Jagannathdev, came to see Madhavendra Puri, and he told them about his necessity. There would have been many dangerous obstacles from the mlechchhas on the way from Odisha to the place where sandlewood was available, but by the King’s influence he gained much help. The King also owned much jungle area containing sandlewood. He was given two men to help him carry that sandlewood, and they set out for Vrndavan. Remuna is on the way to Vrndavan, so they stopped there. Again, everyone recognised Madhavendra Puri, and he was received with great honour and reverence. The servitors of Gopinath gave him much ksir prasadam and other kinds of prasadam.
That night, again a dream came to him, in which Gopal told him, “Myself and Gopinath are nondifferent; it’s not necessary for you to bring this sandlewood all the way to Vrndavan. Offer it to Gopinath and give full worship and regard to Him with this sandlewood, and I shall receive it in that way.”
Madhavendra Puri was astonished, thinking, “How merciful Gopal is to me! He has again instructed me.” Then he engaged two more men to grind the sandlewood, and it was offered all over Gopinath’s whole body for the entire summer season.
Every day, Madhavendra Puri joined the arati of Gopinath, and by the Lord’s will, thousands of people visited, and grand festivals were conducted by the grace of Srila Madhavendra Puri. Gopal was happy with his service. Gopal had told him, “It’s not necessary for you to return to Vrndavan, but you will see Me here in Remuna and thus attain everything.”
Madhavendra Puri stayed there, and after that he departed the world at that very place of Remuna. We have seen there the Samadhi Temple of Srila Madhavendra Puri, a very small and charming Temple.
Thus, Mahaprabhu tasted the ecstasy of the story of Madhava Puri. Madhavendra Puri, before he disappeared, was very much intoxicated by Krishna-prema, divine love, and he felt separation of Krishna severely. He was always crying in that separation.
Isvar Puri served Madhavendra Puri for that last period of his Pastimes in this world. Isvar Puri rendered his personal service to the last detail, for which Madhavendra Puri praised him so much. In his deep mood of separation, at that time Madhavendra Puri sang a particular sloka. Mahaprabhu heard that sloka from Isvar Puri, and Mahaprabhu tasted that sloka with His devotees in Remuna Dham.
ayi dina-dayardra natha he
dayita bhramyati kim karomy aham
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 4.197)
Again and again, chanting this sloka, Mahaprabhu was overwhelmed in His ecstasy. Mahaprabhu said that this sloka was the direct words of Radharani, revealed in the heart of Madhavendra Puri. Krishnadas Kaviraj has given this very beautiful explanation:
ei sloka kahiyachhena radha-thakurani
tara krpaya sphuriyachhe madhavendra-vani
kiba gaurachandra iha kare asvadana
iha asvadite ara nahi chautha-jana
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 4.194–5)
Radharani was very much intoxicated with the mood of separation from Krishna, and She cried for Krishna with this sloka. And that kind of pain in the separation of Krishna appeared in the heart of Madhavendra Puri. Mahaprabhu said that no one in this world can fully understand the substance of this sloka. It was chanted by Radharani, and revealed in the heart of Madhavendra Puri, and he tasted that separation; and now, Gaura Mahaprabhu, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, He is tasting that sloka. There is no fourth person who can taste it properly.
When I heard this sloka from Srila Guru Maharaj, the question immediately arose in my mind, “Present there is Nityananda Prabhu, who is the disciple of Madhavendra Puri, and many other greatly qualified personalities were present there. But Kaviraj Goswami said, ‘Iha asvadite ara nahi chautha-jana: no fourth person can taste it—that type of wealth is in this sloka.’”
If we try to understand the internal wealth of this sloka, we must fail. Only by the mercy of Radharani can it be tasted. When will that day come? Maybe it will never come, no doubt, but by the grace of Radharani, in Her nondifferent form of Gurudev, that mood of separation may be revealed in our hearts.
We have heard various explanations of this sloka from Guru Maharaj. And when he was tasting this sloka, I was amazed to see his face. By his extraordinary expression, we could get a glimpse of the great depth of his divine feelings for this highest of the high and finest quality of divine essence.
Everything that Mahaprabhu Chaitanyadev gave to the world is within this sloka, as the very gist of Krishna-prema. Many varieties of moods of devotion are present within this sloka, and that was explained by Srila Guru Maharaj. How much have we got that? We hesitate even to think about it. And Kaviraj Goswami cautioned us to be conscious of our own position:
ei sloka kahiyachhena radha-thakurani
tara krpaya sphuriyachhe madhavendra-vani
If Radharani had not been merciful to Madhavendra Puri, it was impossible for this to have been revealed in his heart, and he would never have chanted it. And Krishna Himself tasted it in the form of Gauranga Mahaprabhu, who is Krishna with the heart and halo of Radharani. Therefore, Krishnadas Kaviraj says that really there is no fourth person who can taste it.
Still, by the grace of Madhavendra Puri, that mood may be revealed within our hearts. But we cannot expect it. We are living in this mundane world, full of illusion. And when the illusion leaves our vision, and the transcendental world will reveal itself in our hearts and before us, that day we may understand something of it by the grace of Radharani in Her nondifferent form of Gurudev. You know, in the Brahma-samhita (5.56), the famous sloka:
sriyah kantah kantah parama-purusah kalpa-taravo
druma bhumis chintamani-gana-mayi toyam amrtam
katha ganam natyam gamanam api vamsi-priya-sakhi
chid-anandam jyotih param api tad asvadyam api cha
sa yatra ksirabdhih sravati surabhibhyas cha sumahan
nimesardhakhyo va vrajati na hi yatrapi samayah
bhaje svetadvipam tam aham iha golokam iti yam
vidantas te santah ksiti-virala-charah katipaye
With the proper vision, we can know this comment of Brahma-samhita, and the comment of Kaviraj Goswami, and the comment of Bhakti Vinod Thakur, to be one and the same. Bhakti Vinod Thakur also commented, “If you think you know everything about Krishna, you are living in a fool’s paradise.”
We have seen many that think they are enlightened by Krishna consciousness, they have much knowledge about Krishna consciousness, but they are living in a fool’s paradise. Here it is indicated in this sloka of Brahma-samhita, “Vidantas te santah ksiti-virala-charah katipaye: there are very, very few saints of that calibre, almost none, who can understand this. Amongst many saints, sadhus, devotees, scarcely one can understand this.”
This is the real line of the teachings of Srila Rupa Goswami. He has given the perfect knowledge, but it will not be revealed to anyone without surrender to Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. No doubt, in one respect this comment of Kaviraj Goswami makes us feel very hopeless, but on the other hand, we do have the possibility to gain entrance to that abode which is full of Krishna-prema.
laksavrtesu surabhir abhipalayantam
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami
(Sri Brahma-samhita: 5.29)
How sweet is this expression! Mahaprabhu Himself brought this to the world. From here we cannot conceive of the divine love of all the entities in that transcendental abode of Krishna. But one day, by the grace of Gurudev, it may be possible for it to be revealed in our hearts. Still, we are always hopeful, and we will not be satisfied with anything else.
These are the teachings of Sri Gurudev. Srila Rupa Goswami said,
virachaya mayi dandam dina-bandho dayam va
gatir iha na bhavattah kachid anya mamasti
nipatatu sata-kotir nirbharam va navambhas
tad api kila payodah stuyate chatakena
(Sri Stava-mala: 1.16.1)
The chatak bird will not be satisfied with water found anywhere on this earth. But only a few drops of water from the blue cloud in the sky will satisfy him. There is so much water in the pond, the river, the ocean, but he won’t take one drop of it. That is the nature of the chatak.
The blue cloud may punish him with a thunderbolt, but he never stops singing the glories of the cloud. This is chastity, this is surrender. This sloka shows us this in full. “I do not want anything else from anywhere; I want nothing but Your mercy. Please give it to me.”
Das Goswami also expressed the same. Sri Rupa–Sanatan, Sri Jiva Goswami, Sri Raghunath Das Goswami—they are all in that mood, and that group is our heart, our life.
asa-bharair amrta-sindhuh mayaih kathanchit
kalo mayati-gamitah kila sampratam hi
tvan chet krpam mayi vidhasyasi naiva kim me
pranair vrajena cha varoru bakarinapi
“O Radharani, it is my only hope that You will bestow Your mercy on my head, and to this day I have sustained that hope for my whole life.” At that time, Raghunath Das was perhaps eighty or eighty-two years old, when he composed this.
“This is my only hope: You will bestow Your mercy upon me. This is all I want. Without Your mercy I do not want even Krishna. What shall I do without Your mercy? I do not want Krishna’s mercy either. If Krishna will come to me, I must say to Him, ‘Please wait here; only if Radharani gives Her permission can I talk to You.’ And I am praying my whole lifetime, O Radharani, for Your mercy. Your mercy is my only objective. I am living in Vraja Dham for that purpose alone. Otherwise, if You do not bestow Your mercy, I have no interest even in a relationship with Krishna.” This is the most special kind of devotion.
We are always loudly declaring everywhere: “Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” But here we find that Krishna has no position for the Rupanuga Vaisnava.
isvarah paramah krsnah sach-chid-ananda-vigrahah
anadir adir govindah sarva-karana-karanam
(Sri Brahma-samhita: 5.1)
“Krishna, Govinda, is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, His divine form is all eternity, consciousness, and bliss, and He is the cause of all causes.”
Such is Krishna’s supreme position. But what value is His supremacy to the Rupanuga Vaisnavas? They are very intimate to the Asraya-vigraha, Srimati Radharani, and they are always under Her control. Radharani is serving Krishna with full energy, and they are supplying the devotional ingredients.
Guru Maharaj told me not to make too many maths, otherwise I may find myself in trouble. Then I said, “Maharaj, now our family has grown so much. The devotees are visiting Puri Dham, and Vrndavan, and they have no shelter to stay at those places; unhappily they have to use a hotel or some other outside place. You please give me permission, and I shall try to make something in Puri Dham and Vrndavan Dham.” Guru Maharaj agreed to make something simple in Vrndavan, Puri, and Nabadwip. I also told him that Kolkata was a transit station for the devotees, and a place for them to stop over was also necessary. Guru Maharaj also gave that permission.
So, it was then that Guru Maharaj said, “If you make something in the Vrndavan locality, make it in Govardhan. We will stay near to Radha Kunda, but we will not stay in the Radha Kunda area itself. There, Radha-Govinda are enjoying Their Pastimes, and They will stay at Radha Kunda. My Guru Maharaj, Prabhupad Srila Saraswati Thakur, said, ‘We shall go from Govardhan, very early in the morning, and on the order of Radharani, we shall collect flowers at Kusum Sarovar and collect milk from all around; then we shall go to Radha-Kunda for service, and after Radha-Govinda go to sleep, we shall return to our shelter at the lotus feet of Govardhan.’ So, if you want to arrange a place there, make it in Govardhan.”
That was the desire of Srila Saraswati Thakur and Srila Guru Maharaj. Anyhow, by the grace of Srila Guru Maharaj, we have made a place for the shelter of the devotees—Sri Dayita Das Seva Kunja has manifested there. We have named the ashram Srila Sridhar Swami Seva Ashram.
So, the exclusive devotional line of Srila Rupa Goswami is very rarely achieved in this world. If anyone wants to get it easily, they will be cheated, and they will fall into the black hole of prakrta-sahajiyaism, and they won’t be able to come back out of it again. One should not try to get it easily, but it will be easy—by the grace of Guru, by the grace of Radharani.
Before that, we must wait, and Raghunath Das Goswami showed us how much it was necessary to wait. He waited his whole life; and who is he? He is the associate of Radharani. But he showed his Pastimes in Gaura-lila in the deepest mood of separation from Radha-Govinda.
The goswamis are associates of Radha-Govinda, and they have other forms in Krishna-lila. They are always serving Radha-Govinda, but in the mahabhaumya-lila they showed that they passed their lives in the mood of union in separation.
All this was manifest from that original sprout of Krishna-prema, Madhavendra Puripad. Prabhupad Saraswati Thakur took the name of Madhavendra Puri in this way:
madhavendra puri-vara sisya-vara sri-isvara
nityananda, sri-advaita vibhu
isvara-purike dhanya karilena sri-chaitanya
jagad-guru gaura mahaprabhu
There is a Bengali proverb, “Know a disciple by his Guru”. Madhavendra Puri is great, and his great disciple is Isvar Puri; and not only Isvar Puri, but also Nityananda Prabhu and Advaita Prabhu. All were shown in this world to be his disciples. Their other forms in Krishna-lila are so exalted, and in this world they showed themselves to be great devotees of Madhavendra Puri.
Very carefully, Srila Prabhupad also expressed that Gaura Mahaprabhu bestowed His mercy upon Isvar Puri by taking mantra from him as his disciple. Today is that Madhavendra Puri’s disappearance day. We may consider it is the best day for our spiritual life, giving us the chance to discuss Madhavendra Puri’s divine Pastimes and remember His Divine Grace.
The sun rises and sets. It does not take birth or die. So, the appearance and disappearance of the pure Vaisnava is like the sunrise and sunset. Both are good for the conditioned souls of this world. When they depart, they cast their merciful glance everywhere, and whoever remembers them will get that mercy.
Actually, we have seen that Prabhupad Saraswati Thakur, Srila Guru Maharaj, and other disciples of Saraswati Thakur sometimes chant the Guru-parampara from the beginning, and sometimes from the middle. From the middle, means we chant from Mahaprabhu Sri-Chaitanya Radha-Krishna nahe anya. Further to that, when necessary for the formal prestige of the sampradaya, we chant the Guru-parampara from Krsna haite Chatur-mukha hana Krsna-sevonmukha. Still, in the absolute sense, our sampradaya manifests from Srila Madhavendra Puripad.
The Appearance of Sri Gaurasundar
Within the sacred land of India, the holy footprints of the Lord and His devotees are a place of pilgrimage for the whole world. The seven auspicious places in India that are said to award liberation are all found within those footprints. Among those holy places is Sri Mayapur, which is situated in Sri Nabadwip Dham. It is nondifferent from Mathura Mandal. Srila Vrndavan Das Thakur has written, “There is no other village in the world like Sri Nabadwip where Lord Chaitanya Gosai has descended.” Truly, Sri Nabadwip Dham is the best of all, and there is no other place like it since the most magnanimous, mercy-personified Sri Gaura Hari appeared in this part of the world. He indiscriminately distributed to all persons, whether they were qualified or unqualified, the highest perfection of love of God, which is difficult for even the demigods to obtain. He has so generously distributed this highest gift even to the most fallen, therefore Sri Nabadwip is incomparable in the world.
Nearly five hundred years ago, Sri Nabadwip city was renowned throughout the world as the centre of learning and knowledge. The science of logic, which was brought from Mithila, was cultured by the intelligentsia of Sri Nabadwip, and its fame was spread all over the world. From Benares in northern India, and from many other places, sannyasis and the class of professors who were well-read in nyaya and Vedanta all came to Nabadwip for learning. From Kanchi in southern India, and other places too, many students desirous of becoming well educated all came to Sri Nabadwip. “Persons from different places all go to Nabadwip, for one who studies in Nabadwip gets the taste for knowledge. No wonder there were hundreds of thousands of students and professors there” (Sri Chaitanya-bhagavat).
Truly speaking, ‘even a boy can argue with a Bhattacharya’, if he studied at Nabadwip. Everyone considered himself a great scholar if he studied there, and there was no chance of getting recognition from the scholarly community if one did not study or teach in Sri Nabadwip.
Nabadwip was noted for its opulence which, by the grace of Sri Laksmi Devi, was shared by all the people there. On one bank of the Ganges, the greatest place of all learning, the most sacred Sri Mayapur, was situated. Many wealthy persons from different parts of the world all came to settle there. Srila Vrndavan Das Thakur writes, “Who can describe the opulence of Sri Nabadwip? Thousands of people go to take bath there because Laksmi Devi glances over that place. Everyone lives there in great happiness. The Lord, knowing He would appear there, had arranged everything very nicely for His descent.”
The whole atmosphere was surcharged with auspiciousness, with many wealthy and learned persons coming from distant places to reside in that holy place of pilgrimage and seat of learning. There is no need in mentioning the glories associated with such a place. But the pain within the hearts of the pure devotees knew no bounds. In the midst of all this grandeur and beauty, they could see that everyone was simply wasting their valuable time in pursuing materialistic objectives. Seeing this, how could they be happy?
Everyone was simply mad for wealth, mad for physical beauty, mad for acquiring followers; mad for knowledge and intoxicated with the empiric speculations of materialistic science. Their mad attempt for profit, adoration, and distinction looked like a frenzied dance, and in the midst of such things, the devotees were perplexed. How to save them? Running madly after the flickering happiness of this world, the conditioned souls judge everything from the point of view of sense gratification, and uselessly waste their time with futile talks within that plane of existence. These things are all intolerable for the devotees. Srila Vrndavan Das Thakur writes, “The whole world is devoid of real love for Rama and Krishna. As was predicted in the scriptures for Kali-yuga, people only know about ritualistic ceremonies. They stay up the whole night singing the glories of some demigod.
“Some of them proudly worship Visahari, who removes the effect of snake poison. Others set up idols and worship them with great wealth. They spend money lavishly on their sons and daughters. Like this, everyone simply wastes their time. They never care to engage in Krishna-kirtan. which is the yuga-dharma, our only religious practice for this age. They prefer to speak ill of others rather than say good things about them. Even from those who are puffed up with their detachment and renunciation, we never hear the chanting of the Holy Names from their lips. Some others think that the time of bathing is the only auspicious moment for chanting the Names ‘Govinda’ and ‘Pundarikaksa’. Those who recite Bhagavatam for the education of the people do not have the devotional serving mood in their tongue. Thus, the Lord’s energy produces the worldly illusion. This causes the devotees’ unhappiness to increase without limit. Seeing the whole world devoid of Krishna-bhakti, their hearts are burning within. Some of them feel such intense pain that they want to leave their bodies. Others simply sigh and produce the Name ‘Krishna’ in their exhaling. Their food no longer tastes good in their mouths. When they see the activities of this material world, they become exceedingly unhappy.”
Sri Advaita Acharya was glorified by everyone, even among the society of non-devotees, as He was the representative of all the Vaisnavas. Sri Advaita Prabhu was residing in Mayapur, and, for the welfare of the world, was engaged in worshipping the Lord and preaching His glories. The miserable condition of the living entities who were all forgetful of Krishna was giving pain to his heart.
He would arrange daily meetings for the devotees at which they would all express grief and profusely shed tears over the dreadful world situation. The Acharya, who was an ocean of mercy, found the miserable condition of the living entities to be unbearable, and He decided resolutely within Himself that He would call the Lord to personally descend and save the situation. “I will meet Vaikunthanath and bring Him here. Dancing and singing, I will deliver all living entities.” The glories of Advaita Acharya were not unknown to the devotees. All were pleased by hearing the promise of Advaita Acharya, and they all engaged in His service, having full faith in Him.
With this promise fixed in His mind, Sri Advaita Acharya meditated on offering Ganges water and tulasi leaves to the Lord, constantly calling to Goloka-bihari again and again. The Lord’s throne was shaking. The devotees, who were also engaged in calling the Lord, abstained from all comforts and material enjoyment, and to relieve the devotees’ unhappiness, the all-merciful Lord prepared to descend to this world. Needless to say, when the Lord descends, He comes with all His paraphernalia and associates, therefore before the Lord’s descent, the all-auspicious Nityananda Prabhu, who appeared in Radha Des, came first to make all the necessary preparations to receive the Lord.
Sri Mayapur is the centre of Nabadwip Dham and is called Antardwip. Sri Jagannath Misra lived at this place, Antardwip. He was a vastly learned and generous person, and the resort of the purest souls. Srila Vrndavan Das Thakur has written, “Nabadwip is the place of residence of Jagannath Misra. He was as devoted to his religious duties as Vasudev Himself. His magnanimous character was as unlimited as Brahma. No one could compare with him. Formerly he was Kasyapa, Dasarath, Vasudev, and Nanda Maharaj, and now, as Jagannath Misra, was the combination of them all. His wife, named Sachi Devi, was completely devoted to her husband. She was the emblem of Krishna-bhakti and the mother of the whole world.”
This very pure, divine couple tragically lost eight daughters, but after that they begot a son named Visvarup who had uncommonly beautiful features. They always worshipped the Lord in great transcendental ecstasy. Day by day Visvarup, who always satisfied his father and mother, grew like the bright half of the waxing moon.
Gradually this dark world got the strength of the auspicious planets. In 1406 Sakabda, there was a special day because Sri Jagannath Misra saw a brilliant transcendental ray make its way into his heart, and again from his heart it entered into the heart of Sri Sachi Devi. Feeling thrilled, Misra was overwhelmed with joy, and from that day Sachi Devi became transformed into a wonderful embodiment of that transcendental ray. Misra told Sachi Devi all these things he had observed, and when Sachi Devi confirmed that she had also experienced the same things, it only caused Misradev to increase his wonder: “I see in the sky as if many heavenly beings are making hymns in praise of me. The whole atmosphere has become delightful with many enlightened persons coming and going from this place.” Noticing all these things, Misra said with joy, “From these things I can understand that a great personality will be born.” With great attention this divine couple was always performing Visnu worship.
On 1407 Sakabda, Phalgun, full moon day, at evening time, the Lord Sri Gaurachandra was born. On this pleasant spring evening, the day of the full moon, there was also a lunar eclipse. The banks of the Ganges and the roads of the city leading to the Ganges were all filled with throngs of people—a very thick crowd—and all were struggling along the way. Seeing this great crowd of people, one felt as if the whole universe had come here leaving the rest of the fourteen worlds vacant. Everyone was filled with ecstatic bliss. The sound of ‘Hari’ filled up and resounded throughout the fourteen worlds. It was as if all the auspicious signs of the universe were rising at the same time—the splendour of Nabadwip was so brilliant.
An unprecedented vibration of the name of ‘Hari’ resounded from the many devotees gathered on the bank of the Ganges. The flood of Hari-nam made all inauspicious signs disappear on this occasion of the lunar eclipse, and instead brought boundless joy to everyone. As they stood on the banks of the Ganges, everyone was thinking, “Where did so many people come from? Previously there were so many eclipses, but so many persons, and such a great vibration of the sound of Hari, we have never seen or heard any thing like this before, and we are all overwhelmed with joy!” They were all filled with intense happiness, but they could not understand the cause. This was going on, and all without exception were feeling very good. Even fallen persons were laughing in the company of the Hindus, relishing the chanting of ‘Hari, Hari’. There was pleasure in all ten directions, and even the river water was feeling pleased.”
It was a very favourable evening indeed, “Lion rasi, lion lagna, highly placed planets, the six planets, the eight signs—all auspicious signs were visible.” Everyone was well dressed and decorated for the Lord’s appearance and singing songs. “At that time, the life of the whole world, Lord Sri Sachi Nandan, appeared.”
In Sri Jagannath Misra’s house, there was no limit to the joyful atmosphere found in Sri Sachi Devi’s room. The whole world was inundated by the flood of Hari-nam as the spotless full moon appeared today. And that is why the moon in the sky covered his face out of shyness (in the lunar eclipse). Why shouldn’t he cover his face? The moons on the Lord’s toenails give such a brilliant, merciful light that they outshine millions of moons, and it is that same Gaurachandra who appeared today.
Everywhere, on all sides, flowers were raining from the sky. The sounds of millions of conchshells, beating drums, and the dancing of divine personalities all began at that time. The whole earth resounded with “Jay, jay!” and the entire universe became liberated. The news of the appearance of Gaurahari was thus announced. The devotees directly felt within themselves full satisfaction. The sweet sounds of the conch, bells, mrdanga, and kartals became sweeter still when mixed with the chorus of, “Jaya Sachi Nandan! Jaya Gaurahari!”
Everything connected with Gaurahari is eternal. His Name, Form, Qualities, Pastimes, Associates, and Paraphernalia are all eternal. His appearance is eternal. For those fortunate persons who are pure in heart, the eternal Lord resides in their hearts always. These things cannot be understood by our tiny brains. So, the Lord is achintya-bhedabheda, appearing in the form of Acharyadev as the highest conclusion of this principle. Only by the grace of sadhu and Guru are we able to know the glory of Sri Chaitanyadev, who is the eternally pure, fully liberated, ultimate Reality.
At that time, those fortunate persons who have received the mercy of the sadhus can understand that Gaurachandra appears as Sri Krishna in the mood of Radharani. They feel great ecstasy within their hearts, and they are able to understand, “Today also Gaura Ray was performing His Pastimes, and only a few fortunate persons were able to see.”
adyapiha sei lila kare gaura-raya
kona kona bhagyavana dekhibare paya
anarpita-charim chirat karunayavatirnah kalau
samarpayitum unnatojjvala-rasam sva-bhakti-sriyam
sada hrdaya-kandare sphuratu vah sachi-nandanah
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Adi-lila, 1.4)
[“May that Lord, who is known as the son of Srimati Sachi Devi, be transcendentally situated in the innermost chambers of your heart. Resplendent with the radiance of molten gold, He has appeared in the Age of Kali by His causeless mercy to bestow what no incarnation ever offered before: the most sublime radiant spiritual conception of the mellow taste of His service.”]
The Flow of Mahaprabhu’s Line
Srila Guru Maharaj’s godbrothers clearly expressed their great regard for His Divine Grace. One mentioned to me in a letter that they would always continue to come here, because for as long as Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj is present, they want to come and hear from him. They expressed that whenever they hear from Srila Sridhar Maharaj, they feel they are in the shade of Prabhupad Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur.
They all gave such honour to our Srila Guru Maharaj, and why? Their life’s goal is the service of Sri Sri Radha-Govinda, and they understood that such service is coming through their Sri Gurudev, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur. But they also saw that their Gurudev had transmitted his divine power to Srila Sridhar Maharaj, so their idea was that Gurudev’s merciful power is graciously present in our Srila Guru Maharaj. It is for this reason that they always came to Srila Guru Maharaj.
They had left all their mundane facilities and life’s desires, and joined within the Mission for the service to Radha-Krishna, and to Prabhu Nityananda and Mahaprabhu. In which way will they get that service? Only the mercy of the Vaisnavas and the mercy of Sri Guru can give that service. This was very clear to them, so they would all forego any personal position—everything—and come from time to time to see Srila Guru Maharaj. They expressed to him about their preaching work and preaching style, and they felt very happy to see his happiness.
So many of Srila Guru Maharaj’s godbrothers used to attend the meeting of the Visva Vaisnava Raja Sabha organised by our Math. Srila Guru Maharaj would always give the presidential chair to Sripad Bhakti Saranga Goswami Maharaj. Although Sripad Goswami Maharaj took sannyas from Srila Guru Maharaj, Srila Guru Maharaj knew that Sripad Goswami Maharaj’s all-round position was so high within the Gaudiya Mission. He therefore always offered the presidential chair to him.
Once, after accepting that presidential chair, Sripad Goswami Maharaj gave a particularly special lecture. He explained that he and other great preachers are active in all directions, but they all wait to see how Srila Sridhar Maharaj considers the quality of their preaching style. He used the word simhavalokana. He indicated, “We are preaching over the whole world, but from time to time we look to see whether Srila Sridhar Maharaj is happy with our preaching activities.”
Simhavalokana refers to how a lion goes some distance, then looks behind to check the environment, then proceeds further, and then again looks behind. In this way Sripad Goswami Maharaj described how all the preachers again and again look toward Srila Guru Maharaj to see if their preaching has his approval.
Rupa-Sarasvati-dhara dekhena tomate. Rupa Goswami Prabhu is supreme in the preceptorial line of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Actually, no one says, ‘Chaitanya sampradaya’. Rather, the correct name is Rupanuga sampradaya. Mahaprabhu wanted to establish Rupa Goswami as the Guru of His sampradaya. That same current of Rupa Goswami is flowing through Srila Guru Maharaj. This is the cause that all the devotees of Srila Saraswati Thakur respect Srila Guru Maharaj. They always saw it, and still to this day they see it in this way.
Rupa Goswami Prabhu was established by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. If we will try to understand this, we must especially take shelter in Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta. The expression is given there clearly.
When Mahaprabhu appeared, He showed His effulgence as the Lord. At that time Rupa and Sanatan were the chief administrators in the Bengal government, yet they were devoted to Krishna. They felt that Krishna would appear at that time, and they tried to understand where He would appear.
When they saw the exalted effulgence of Mahaprabhu, they observed Him and came to see Him. It was clear to them that, “He is our dearmost Sri Krishna. Here He has appeared!” This was the special connection Sri Rupa and Sri Sanatan had with the Lord. At that time their names were Dabir Khas and Sakar Mallik respectively. Sanatan Goswami was the prime minister, and Rupa Goswami was the finance minister. They externally showed themselves as government servants, but internally they always hankered for Krishna-prema. They saw Nimai Pandit, Mahaprabhu Gaurasundar, as the shining bulb.
Many other devotees knew the divine personality of Mahaprabhu of the infinite world, and had connection with Him. These devotees included Advaita Acharya, Haridas Thakur, Srivas Pandit, Gadadhar Pandit, and Pundarik Vidyanidhi.
So, Rupa and Sanatan secretly came to see Mahaprabhu, and it was very clear to them that He was in fact their Lord; and they tried to serve Him. The devotees would meet together and plan their future programme.
They knew Mahaprabhu would take sannyas, and they awaited that day. When eventually Rupa and Sanatan heard Mahaprabhu had indeed taken sannyas, they became even more attached to Him. When Mahaprabhu tried to go to Vrndavan through Nabadwip and Ramakeli, thousands of people followed Mahaprabhu in sankirtan. At that time, Rupa and Sanatan secretly met with Mahaprabhu in the village of Ramakeli.
Rupa and Sanatan lived near Ramakeli. At night they changed their rich dress for very humble devotee clothing, and met with Mahaprabhu. They took blades of grass between their teeth and fell down at the lotus feet of Mahaprabhu, expressing:
mat-tulyo nasti papatma naparadhi cha kaschana
parihare ’pi lajja me kim bruve purusottama
“We are most insignificant and unqualified; we are not fit to present ourselves before You. We are very fallen. Please rescue us!” Hearing their words Mahaprabhu’s heart melted to see their mood of devotion.
Mahaprabhu embraced them, and instructed them, “Do not be frustrated. Go back and do your jobs.”
Earlier Rupa and Sanatan had written many letters to Mahaprabhu, and Mahaprabhu had encouraged them, saying,
para-vyasanini nari vyagrapi grha-karmasu
tad evasvadayaty antar nava-sanga-rasayanam
“Be like a paramour lover who always thinks of her lover but outwardly does all the usual duties within the family. You be like that, and when the right time will come, Krishna will relieve you from your mundane jobs.”
In this way Rupa Goswami had earlier received some nourishment, and when he met Mahaprabhu in Ramakeli, Mahaprabhu gave him and his elder brother Sanatan even more hope: “Go back, and at the right time Krishna will take you from your mundane posts. You are both my eternal servitors, so you have no fear from anywhere. Krishna will help you.”
Before going back they explained, “O Mahaprabhu, the king here is Muslim. No doubt he is sympathetic towards You, but if he sees this large following, he may change his mind. If You go with these thousands and thousands of people, the king may feel some threat from You and try to harm You.”
Later Rupa met with Mahaprabhu when He was on his way back from Vrndavan. Mahaprabhu taught Srila Rupa Goswami and gave him the charge of organising His Mission in Mathura and Vrndavan. Mahaprabhu instructed him to reveal the lost holy places of Krishna’s Pastimes, and to compose scriptures to relay the teachings that He would impart to him. Mahaprabhu Himself was the teacher of Rupa Goswami, and He expected that Rupa Goswami would be the leader of His sampradaya.
Mahaprabhu met with Rupa Goswami in Prayag, and He met with Sanatan Goswami in Benares. Both of these goswamis are the direct students of Mahaprabhu Sri Chaitanyadev. Mahaprabhu did not teach others as a teacher but as an adviser, but He personally taught Rupa and Sanatan Goswami. They learnt from Mahaprabhu as students, and Mahaprabhu made them into masters in the line of His divine conception. That was the first stage of the manifestation of Sri Rupa Goswami.
Later Rupa Goswami met again with Mahaprabhu in Nilachal. At that time Mahaprabhu received Rupa Goswami as His son. Mahaprabhu did not break any of the laws of Jagannath Ksetra, so he gave shelter to Haridas Thakur in a thatched garden-house of Tapan Misra. When Rupa Goswami came there, He also gave him shelter in that garden along with Haridas Thakur. When Sanatan would come to meet with Mahaprabhu, he would also stay with Haridas Thakur.
Mahaprabhu’s nature was to not disturb the environment. Sympathetic dealings with nature is the best attitude for Vaisnavism. Our Guru Maharaj said that actual varnasram-dharma is to deal sympathetically with nature. Varnasram is organised so as not to disturb the natural flow within this world. Within that flow we can manifest our divine practising life through our activity, so there is no necessity to disturb that.
Mahaprabhu did not want to establish brahmanism, an external thing, but what He gave was far superior. His gift is superior to any ‘ism’. He taught Rupa Goswami in Prayag and told His associates, “You will come to see just how qualified he is.” Establishing Rupa Goswami as His best student, He threw open a challenge to all the experts, such as Ramananda Ray, Svarup Damodar, Sarvabhauma Pandit, Bhagavan Acharya, Sikhi Mahiti, and many pandits of the king, who were followers of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. There were hundreds of very big personalities who were associates of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Furthermore, Mahaprabhu considered Ramananda Ray as an equal to Himself, or even more—as Guru.
Svarup Damodar is considered as a second manifestation of Mahaprabhu (saksat Mahaprabhura dvitiya svarupa). However, Mahaprabhu decided that His sampradaya, His succession, would be through Rupa Goswami. He did not say that it will go through Svarup Damodar although he was considered to be almost more than Mahaprabhu. If anyone wanted to offer Mahaprabhu a poem or any composition, it would come first to Svarup Damodar, and if it was agreeable to him, only then would it be presented to Mahaprabhu. Without this process, none could go directly to Mahaprabhu.
Mahaprabhu wanted to learn from Ramananda Ray when they were on the banks of the Godavari. “Eka Ramananda haya ei adhikara: he is a living mukta-purusa. No one else can behave like Ramananda Ray within this mundane plane.” Although Mahaprabhu gave him such a great certificate, He did not show His succession there.
Instead, Mahaprabhu made Rupa Goswami His successor and presented him in an assembly of all the generals. Mahaprabhu told them, “Test this man.” Ramananda Ray was the judge, and he questioned Rupa Goswami about his plays Lalita-Madhava and Vidagdha-madhava. Ramananda Ray himself had earlier written the play Jagannatha-vallabha-nataka.
Mahaprabhu made as judges Ramananda Ray, Svarup Damodar, and Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya, but the chief judge was Ramananda Ray. He questioned Rupa Goswami on the style in which he had written various parts of the plays, and also posed many questions about Rupa Goswami’s opinions. Rupa Goswami answered them perfectly, one by one. Everyone in that assembly was stunned, including Haridas Thakur, who was the first person to preach the Hare Krishna mahamantra, before even Mahaprabhu by a few years.
Several times Haridas Thakur had undergone great austerity and trials. He was even beaten in twenty-two market places by guards intending to kill him. He faced so many tests, but he crossed them all, and showed the glories of Sri Hari-nam. Haridas Thakur said about Rupa Goswami’s sloka glorifying the Name, “We have never before heard such chanting of the glories of the Holy Name.”
Ramananda Ray said, “Kim kavyena kaves tasya…. The real Krishna conception that has been given by Mahaprabhu has been presented by Rupa Goswami in this assembly, and we are stunned to hear it. Such things are beyond human expression, yet Rupa Goswami has accomplished this.”
When Mahaprabhu asked Ramananda Ray, “What have you gathered from his expression?” Ramananda replied, “It is unbelievably excellent. You have given him everything You heard from me. I have no doubt of this. Furthermore, his presentation is superior to anyone’s. Kim kavyena kaves tasya. He is certainly a great poet. We are stunned to hear his poetry. Kim kandena dhanus-matah: if a hero cannot strike his target, he cannot be a great hero. Rupa Goswami is such a great hero that he never once misses. We all accept that he is Your representative.”
They said, “You must have given all Your mercy to him, otherwise it is not possible that he can give us this presentation in this way.”
Mahaprabhu accepted their statements although this was very much against His nature, in the sense that Mahaprabhu never expressed, “I am a pandit.” But on this occasion, He said, “Yes, I have given My mercy to him.” This is extraordinary. The Lord did not stop there: “It is not sufficient for Me to say that I have given My mercy. I want you all to give your mercy and blessings to Rupa that he will give My conception in this world.”
They replied, “When You have given Your grace, that is sufficient.”
But Mahaprabhu objected, “No, it is not sufficient. You are all my friends, so give him your mercy, then he will be enriched with pure love of Krishna and will be able to spread Krishna consciousness.”
They all unhesitatingly gave their blessings to Rupa Goswami. This was a beautiful meeting. In this way Mahaprabhu made the exalted, golden form of Srila Rupa Goswami and gave him the whole charge of His sampradaya.
After that, Rupa Goswami stayed with Mahaprabhu for one year in Jagannath Puri where he learned more and more. Then he went to Vrndavan Dham to preach.
Kavi Karnapur was also empowered by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and he gave the corresponding identities of all Mahaprabhu’s devotees in Krishna-lila. He said that in Krishna-lila Rupa Goswami is Rupa Manjari, the leader of all the manjaris. Srimati Radharani is the Chief Mistress Servitor of Sri Krishna, and Lalita, Visakha, Chitra, Champakalatika, Tungavidya, Indulekha, Sudevi, and Rangadevika are the eight principal sakhis of Srimati Radharani. The head is Lalita Devi, and under Her is Rupa Manjari, who is present in Gaura-lila as Rupa Goswami.
If we don’t consider Vakresvar Pandit as Mahaprabhu’s disciple, we may say that Kavi Karnapur was the only disciple of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu at that time. Kavi Karnapur was the son of Sivananda Sen. When he was still in the womb, Mahaprabhu instructed Sivananda Sen to give him the name Puri Das. However, when he was born, Sivananda Sen gave the name Chaitanya Das instead. When the boy was young, not more than five years old, he came with his father to see Mahaprabhu. The Lord asked his name. Someone said it is Chaitanya Das, and Mahaprabhu was a little shy and objected, “No, his name is Puri Das. Why have you given him the name Chaitanya Das?”
Mahaprabhu then gave good nourishment to that boy. He instructed him, “O Puri Das, now you chant the Holy Names. Chant ‘Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.’” But that boy would not say anything. Twice and thrice Mahaprabhu insisted that he chant Hare Krishna. Mahaprabhu was surprised. He thought, “The whole world is chanting the Holy Names of Krishna as soon as I tell them to chant, but this boy cannot chant! What is this?”
He asked Svarup Damodar why this boy did not chant: “Everyone chants the Hare Krishna mahamantra when I instruct them, but not this boy. Why won’t he chant?” Svarup Damodar replied, “Oh, that boy has just been initiated by You. He feels You are the World Guru, You are Krishna Himself, and You have just given him initiation. He has just received the mantram from You, therefore he is not saying it outwardly.”
Surprised, Mahaprabhu said, “This boy is very intelligent!” In this way Puri Das received his special initiation. That Puri Das was later known by the name Kavi Karnapur, and he composed Chaitanya-chandrodaya-nataka, an inconceivably excellent play. We cannot believe it humanly possible to write such a play. He graced that play with all the wealth of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He also composed Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika and Krsna-ganoddesa-dipika.
We learn through Kavi Karnapur and other devotees, such as Svarup Damodar, Raghunath Das, and Srila Jiva Goswami, that Mahaprabhu Himself gave the power of His sampradaya to Srila Rupa Goswami. Rupa Goswami is the supreme personality in Mahaprabhu Chaitanyadev’s sampradaya, and he carries the preceptorial line of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. This is the history, a very serious subject matter. I think you may understand what I have tried to express.
Rupa Goswami Prabhu is also glorified by Narottam Das Thakur who, it is mentioned in the scriptures, is a nondifferent form of Mahaprabhu Himself. In his glorification of Rupa Goswami, Narottam Das Thakur included the entire siddhanta, the supreme mood of devotion, and the supreme glories of Rupa Goswami. Until this very day, that particular devotional prayer is the life of the Gaudiya Vaisnavas. Srila Saraswati Thakur wanted to hear this during his last moments in this world, and he wanted to hear it from no one but Srila Guru Maharaj.
Although Srila Saraswati Thakur was very softhearted, he could not tolerate anyone else but Srila Guru Maharaj singing that song. So he exclaimed, “No, I do not want to hear the tune. This song will be sung by Sridhar Maharaj only.” That song was:
sri-rupa-manjari-pada sei mora sampada
sei mora bhajana-pujana
sei mora prana-dhana sei mora abharana
sei mora jivanera jivana
I do not wish to try to express this song in English because very deep truths are within it. On special days such as the appearance and disappearance days of Srila Saraswati Thakur and Rupa Goswami Prabhu, Srila Guru Maharaj would himself sing this song, thereby giving the blessings of Rupa Goswami to all the assembled devotees. He would sing it at other particular times as well.
Remembering these Pastimes, I am thinking we are so fortunate to be in the line of that Rupa Goswami Prabhu. Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu ki jay! Prabhupad Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur ki jay! Om Visnupad Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj ki jay! All the assembled devotees ki jay! Hari-nam-sankirtan ki jay! Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Sridhar Mission ki jay! Jay Namacharya Srila Haridas Thakur ki jay! Gaura premanande Hari Hari bol!
In Praise of Srila Narottam Das Thakur
Today is the disappearance day of Srila Narottam Thakur, so I would like to say a few words to glorify him. Before Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur, most of the Vaisnava songs came from Srila Narottam Thakur. Sri Guru charana-padma kevala-bhakati-sadma you all know. This is from Narottam’s Prema-bhakti-chandrika, and Prarthana. But although he wrote many beautiful songs of devotion, Narottam Das Thakur was not just a song writer, he was a great pandit, and more than that, he was a devotee of Sri Chaitanyadev.
When Mahaprabhu travelled to Ramakeli, on the way He had to cross the River Padma. While on the banks of the river, He began to call, “Narottam, Narottam, Narottam.” The devotees could not understand the meaning at that time, but later it was revealed that from that part of Bengal, a great devotee would appear, and his name would be ‘Narottam’. Sriman Mahaprabhu had left a great treasure stored in the waters of Padma Devi for Narottam—Krishna-prema.
After many years, Narottam Das Thakur appeared in the village of that area known as Kheturi. He was a prince, the only son of Raja Krishnananda Datta and Rani Narayani Devi. Narottam was enlightened even from his early childhood, and one day he had a dream in which Nityananda Prabhu instructed him, “Go to the River Padma and take your bath there because Mahaprabhu has left His gift of Krishna-prema for you within her waters.” Narottam immediately awoke, went to the river, and entered the water. While bathing he experienced the divine form of Mahaprabhu embracing him, and Krishna-prema entered into his being. He became transformed, and just like Mahaprabhu Himself, he began crying, dancing, laughing, and constantly chanting the Names of Krishna; suddenly asta-sattvika-bhava [the eight symptoms of ecstasy in love of Krishna] appeared in his body.
Upon returning home, Narottam’s mother began to question, “O my son, what has happened to you? Why are you crying and behaving in this peculiar way? Please, if I can help in any way, I am ready to do anything. I am even ready to give up my life if that will help you. Tell me what I can do.”
Narottam replied, “Mother, last night I went to the River Padma, inspired by a dream, and there someone who I believe was Chaitanya Mahaprabhu embraced me and entered into my heart. Now I am feeling great sadness and separation from that Mahaprabhu and from Sri Krishnachandra, and that is what causes me to cry. If you wish to show your kindness to me, then please give me permission to go to Vrndavan where I shall search for Mahaprabhu.”
After hearing Narottam’s petition, his father became worried, fearing that his son would leave home, and so, just like the father of Raghunath Das Goswami, he arranged some guards to watch Narottam. Narottam remained in the house, chanting, dancing, writing devotional songs, and always manifesting the eight symptoms of divine ecstasy.
Narottam was restless, always crying for Mahaprabhu and Krishna. Since the day he took his bath in the river, his body had changed from his dark complexion, and he had become the same golden colour as Mahaprabhu. Radharani’s colour had come into his body, and everyone was greatly surprised saying, “Yes, it is true, Narottam has received Krishna-prema from Mahaprabhu, and Mahaprabhu is really living in his heart.” Everyone was offering him respect, but his father was becoming more and more worried.
One day, when his father had gone to pay taxes on behalf of the state and had travelled far away, Narottam went to his mother crying in great anguish and again petitioned her, “Mother, please give your permission. I must go to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s associates who are living in Vrndavan. It is the order of Nityananda Prabhu, so please arrange for me to go.” Narottam’s mother made the arrangements, and in secret Narottam left his home and went to Vrndavan.
Narottam had been having many dreams in which Mahaprabhu instructed him to go to Vrndavan and take shelter of the lotus feet of His confidential devotee Srila Lokanath Das Goswami, who would give diksa to him. He also told Narottam to find Srila Rupa Goswami, Srila Sanatan Goswami, and Srila Jiva Goswami, and to keep their holy association. After arriving in Vrndavan, Narottam found that Rupa and Sanatan had already left the world, but he found there Srila Jiva Goswami, Srila Lokanath Das Goswami, Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami, and many other great Vaisnavas who gave him their company. Narottam became the student of Jiva Goswami and petitioned Lokanath Goswami to give him diksa. Lokanath refused him.
Lokanath Goswami had decided that he would never accept any disciples and lived in an extremely austere way in Vrndavan, living under a different tree every night. Narottam felt great sadness upon being refused by Srila Lokanath, and he told him, “I can only take my initiation from you. Sriman Mahaprabhu has told me that you will give me diksa, so until then I will wait.” Narottam tried to serve his Guru, but the goswami would allow no one to serve him. Narottam thought, “If he will not even stay under the same tree for more than one night, then what kind of service can I do for him?” After a while, Narottam noticed that Srila Lokanath Prabhu would always go to the same place to pass stool, and he began to think that although Lokanath had refused to give him any service for over two years, if he could clean that place every day, then at last he would have some service. Narottam was fixed in his resolve that he must take diksa from Srila Lokanath Goswami, as this was the order of Mahaprabhu.
Very soon Lokanath Goswami began to notice, “I come here every day to pass stool, and it seems that someone is cleaning this place after me. Who can be doing this?” So, one night from a hidden place, Lokanath saw that at midnight Narottam is coming and very happily cleaning that place. Lokanath knew that Narottam was the son of the famous king Krishnananda Datta. He was greatly astonished and confronted Narottam, “Why are you, a prince of high noble birth, coming each night and cleaning this dirty place?” Narottam replied, “Prabhu, I need your mercy. Without your mercy I cannot live. Your vow is that you will not accept any disciples, but by the order of Sriman Mahaprabhu, it is my vow that I must have your connection. I don’t know when you will give me your mercy, but you must accept me as your disciple.” So, after refusing Narottam eighteen times, finally Srila Lokanath Das Goswami took Narottam Das and gave him diksa.
Narottam received instruction from Srila Jiva Goswami, Srila Kaviraj Goswami, and many other goswamis who were there in Vrndavan. He was a great pandit, and all the devotees headed by Sri Jiva, recognising his qualification, bestowed upon him the title of ‘Thakur’.
Narottam Thakur’s close associates and peers were Syamananda and Srinivas. From the inspiration of Srila Jiva Goswami and the other Vaisnavas, these three great devotees were sent back to Bengal to continue the preaching of Mahaprabhu. The Bengali Vaisnavas were very eager to read the writings of Sri Rupa, Sanatan, Raghunath, Krishnadas Kaviraj, Lokanath Goswami, Gopal Bhatta Goswami, Prabhodananda Saraswati, and the other goswamis; so Narottam, Syamananda, and Srinivas travelled from Vrndavan towards Bengal with many copies of those great books.
Finally they arrived in Visnupur in the district of Birbhum, Bengal. The king of this region was Raja Bir Hambir, but he was a dacoit [bandit] and was engaged in many robberies in the area. The king had a brahman astrologer, and according to the astrologer’s calculations, he would know where and when to carry out his next robbery. The astrologer informed the king that on a particular route bullock carts would be passing, carrying many precious jewels, so the jubilant king sent his dacoits to rob the caravan. While Narottam and the Vaisnavas slept, the king’s dacoits stole away the chests containing the books of the goswamis.
After much searching, Narottam, Srinivas, and Syamananda in great sorrow could not trace the books. Srinivas ordered Narottam to return to Kheturi Gram, and Syamananda went to Midnapur, where they began preaching. Srinivas Acharya resolved to stay and try to find the stolen books.
Srinivas heard that in the assembly of Raja Bir Hambir that night, a great pandit would give explanation of Srimad Bhagavatam. The brahman in whose house Srinivas was staying invited Srinivas to accompany him to the meeting. Srinivas agreed.
After hearing the pandit’s explanation of Bhagavatam, Srinivas addressed Raja Bir Hambir saying, “Srimad Bhagavatam is not child’s play. It is the transcendental knowledge descended to this earth for our super-benefit, and the explanation given by this man is intolerable; he obviously knows nothing of the meaning of Srimad Bhagavatam.”
Raja Bir Hambir was greatly surprised at Srinivas’ exclamation and asked him, “Then can you explain Bhagavatam?”
“Yes, I can”, replied Srinivas, and taking his seat on the vyasasan, he spoke for several hours. All those that heard him became greatly moved, and they all, including the king, took shelter of his lotus feet.
The king humbly approached Srinivas, “Prabhu, you are indeed a great Vaisnava. Please tell me what service I can do for you? Where have you come from? How far have you travelled?”
Srinivas Acharya told him, “I have come from Vrndavan carrying chests of books written by the goswamis, but now they are lost, stolen by I know not who, so, I remain here searching for them.”
With his head bowed Raja Bir Hambir announced, “I am the culprit. I have those books in my home, and every day I have been worshipping them. My astrologer told me that his calculations were true and that the books were actually jewels although they were in the form of books, and so that is why every day I am offering puja.” The king took Srinivas to the books.
The news was sent to Narottam and Syamananda, and in great jubilation Narottam Thakur arranged a grand festival. As well as Narottam, Syamananda, Srinivas, and other noted Vaisnavas, Mother Jahnava Devi—Sri Nityananda Prabhu’s sakti—also came there to Kheturi Gram to attend the festival. After properly worshipping Jahnava Devi, Narottam Thakur installed six Deities in different Temples: Sri Krishna, Vallavi Kanta, Vraja Mohan, Radha Kanta, Radha Raman, and Gauranga. Elaborate puja arrangements were made, including a month-long festival of Hari-kirtan. And every day in Narottam’s kirtan, those who were fortunate saw Nityananda Prabhu and Mahaprabhu dancing there, such was Narottam’s devotion. Those who knew him considered he was the incarnation of Nityananda Prabhu and Mahaprabhu combined.
Although Lokanath Goswami only had one disciple, Narottam gave Krishna-prema to everyone, and just like Nityananda Prabhu, he did not consider who was fit and who was not. Whoever wanted Krishna-prema, Narottam would give it them. He was given this special power by the grace of Mahaprabhu, Nityananda, and Lokanath Goswami, Narottam’s Gurudev.
Narottam Das Thakur was born in the kayastha community, and caused a great deal of controversy by accepting disciples who were from the brahman caste. The brahman section were very angry with him and tried repeatedly to defeat him in debate, but the only result was that more brahmans were becoming his disciples. The brahmans were very unhappy, and when in his last years Narottam manifested much sickness, the brahmans declared that this was the result of Narottam violating the scriptural injunctions by accepting disciples from a higher caste than his own. Gradually, Narottam’s condition became worse and finally he died. The brahmans were jubilant and began celebrating Narottam’s passing as proof of his offences to their community.
Narottam’s disciples were heartbroken and prayed before their Gurudev’s body, “O Prabhu, you have shown this lila of your passing in this way, and the brahmans are committing offence to your lotus feet because they cannot understand. Lord, what shall we do now? Surely all the preaching will be ruined if you show this kind of passing lila. Please show your mercy to these misguided brahmans.” Suddenly, Narottam returned to his body and sat up, and upon seeing this miracle, the opposition surrendered to his lotus feet.
Some months later, Narottam was exhibiting intense symptoms of separation from Radha and Krishna, and so again he left this world. His body turned into milk and merged with the waters of the holy River Ganges.
In this way, Narottam Das Thakur preached Krishna consciousness, and from him the preceptorial line is coming to Visvanath Chakravarti. Narottam wrote many songs of devotion, and Prema-bhakti-chandrika is very famous in this world amongst the Gaudiya–Vaisnavas. Today is his holy disappearance day, and we pray for his grace upon us all.
Our Devotional Line
Message to Massage the Devotees’ Hearts
Devotee: Please give some words to the devotees around the world about remembering Koladwip, Nabadwip, and Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math.
Srila Govinda Maharaj: Srila Guru Maharaj organised this Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math for conditioned souls like ourselves, otherwise it was not necessary to organise a Math. Also, he did not want to make a Mission; that is, he came with his Deity, Giridhari—Giriraj-Govardhan—and he himself worshipped Him with tulasi and water.
The Mission itself came as a blessing for us, and now Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math is a very wide Mission. The definition of missionary work is that it is always doing good for others. We know that the only good thing is to practise Krishna consciousness. In this mundane world, that is the only light of life, the only elixir of life. All the godbrothers and followers must be benefitted if we can give proper honour to our Mission and our missionary work. My friends, godbrothers, and followers are trying heart and soul, and I believe they will certainly get the mercy of Sriman Nityananda Prabhu and Mahaprabhu. Many of them are very exalted devotees in our sampradaya. I am always praising them, and it is necessary to give nourishment to the other devotees also.
There are classifications of devotees: first class, second class, and general class. But all are worshippable, and when we can see it, we ourselves will be benefitted. They are all connected with Mahaprabhu and Krishna consciousness, therefore, if anyone will come in this line, we shall give good nourishment to them. A heart massage. A message to massage.
Always the devotees are asking questions, that is, they need to know something. And I believe wholeheartedly that the devotees want to hear news of the devotees and activities from this Math. Sometimes, when I am alone, I try to consider why I cannot sleep at night, and what is it that Srila Guru Maharaj requires of me.
I do not want any sort of position, but the chair of Acharya has come to me, and I must serve that chair. It was for this that Srila Guru Maharaj protected me from a young age and cultivated me in my mind, and I must offer all the fruits to his lotus feet otherwise my life is useless. This is my feeling, and this is also the answer to why I am doing this.
With what I have, I can continue very happily, and in one sense it is not necessary to think of many things. For example, world preaching especially in this age is very difficult, and I know it, but also I know that my Srila Guru Maharaj needs it. It is seva to him. There is no doubt that everybody shall die one day, so if we give too much attention for our health, it is not good for us. Actually, we must give our attention for the service of Guru-Gauranga, and if we leave this body through that service, it is very good. In fact, there is no higher good than that. In this regard, we shall not forget the words of Sripad Saranga Goswami Maharaj when he told Sripad Hrday Bon Maharaj, “I want to die in harness.”
Sripad Bon Maharaj was a friend of Goswami Maharaj, and he suggested to Goswami Maharaj, “O Goswami, you have spent your whole life preaching. Now you are old, so come and do some bhajan!”
Sripad Goswami Maharaj was very angry and thought: “What I am doing is not bhajan? What are you thinking? This is my bhajan. I am serving Krishna, serving Mahaprabhu, and serving my Guru. This preaching is my bhajan, but you think that to chant on beads in the jungle is bhajan.” Though he thought this, Sripad Goswami simply replied in summary to Sripad Bon Maharaj, “I want to die in harness.”
Srila Guru Maharaj quoted this expression many times to me, and instructed me never to forget it: “I want to die in harness.” Even the very last moment of our lifetime we shall not spend for any other purpose. We want to offer even that to our Gurudev.
I am very happy to remember that, and whenever I am in very much difficulty, I think that Krishna wants to take my blood, and He will not spare even the last drop of blood. And if it is His wish, He will take it.
Actually, I am very renounced by nature, and sometimes it would come in my mind that I shall leave everything. But suddenly I would be reminded that Srila Guru Maharaj does not want me to do that. Seeing my renounced nature, Srila Guru Maharaj was very fearful. Until I finally took sannyas, Srila Guru Maharaj did not make his final Will and Testament. A few days ago, I read an earlier will. Perhaps he was very sick at that time, anyhow, Srila Guru Maharaj added in his own handwriting that now his health was very bad and he may die. He wrote that if Govinda Maharaj will take sannyas, he must be the Acharya here, and he wrote that if he should pass away before Govinda Maharaj takes sannyas, everyone will wait five years for him to take the renounced order of life. He will then take the Acharya’s position, but in the meantime none else will take that position of Acharya of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math. Only if Govinda Maharaj does not take sannyas within that five years will another be selected as Acharya. This was his instruction, and remembering how very eager Srila Guru Maharaj was for me to take this service, if I shall not do this service, then I must go to hell. Therefore, I cannot leave the seva of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math. Until my death, I cannot leave the service of his Deities, devotees, and Math.
In this way, I am continuing, and now devotees are coming and inviting me all over the world. I know there is so much difficulty to go there, but for the service to Srila Guru Maharaj I must accept their invitations. I still have life in my body, so until death I shall try in this line of service.
My mood in spiritual life has grown from its very conception by the grace of Srila Guru Maharaj. There is no doubt that I and many others, having been born in Bengal, have earlier gained some inspiration about Vaisnavism. It is natural for all Bengali Vaisnavas to worship Mahaprabhu. In every Vaisnava’s house is Mahaprabhu’s Deity, or some arrangement for His worship. If they do not continuously offer Him worship, at least sometimes they do so at specific festival times. They offer worship in the Name of Mahaprabhu Sri Chaitanyadev, Nityananda Prabhu, Advaita Prabhu, and others.
What I knew about Vaisnavism from earlier days has some worth, but really I have got my birth in Mahaprabhu’s conception only when joining at the lotus feet of Srila Guru Maharaj. I can say I gained my real birth in Vaisnavism when I fortunately came to the lotus feet of Srila Guru Maharaj. From him we received the seed of real jaiva-dharma, real Vaisnava-dharma.
Srila Guru Maharaj tried to make his disciples into perfect preachers in the line of devotion as preached by Mahaprabhu and Prabhupad Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur.
Prabhupad Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur used many methods for his preaching. We know that his main preaching instrument was through the printing of patrikas [periodicals] and books. He started his first preaching by printing books and preaching, and by the end of his manifest Pastimes here, we have seen that the Gaudiya gave the guideline for the whole of the sampradaya.
Srila Prabhupad himself gave guidance as to the content of Gaudiya, therefore everyone respected Gaudiya at that time. Perhaps Srila Prabhupad did not see everything before it was printed, but he gave his guidance on most of the contents.
Actually, our Mission is becoming so big now internationally. We have many centres around the world in a variety of countries. They are all waiting and need some guidance from Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math. Our main guideline is very simple: Mahaprabhu said,
trnad api sunichena taror iva sahisnuna
amanina manadena kirtaniyah sada harih
“One who knows himself more insignificant than a blade of grass, who is as forbearing as a tree, and who gives due honour to others without desiring it for himself, is qualified to sing the glories of Lord Hari constantly.”
This is the guideline: to always chant ‘Hare Krishna’ without offence. But in which way will it be possible? Many varieties of circumstances come, and many varieties of difficulties come. In each country, there are many different types of difficulties, but although the local circumstances may vary, the essence of the solution is given in this verse of Mahaprabhu.
Question: What would you like to see as being in common in each of our centres worldwide?
Srila Govinda Maharaj: Actually, there are two kinds of vision everywhere: one is the external form, and one is the internal substance. Both the show and the substance are necessary in this mundane world, otherwise we cannot attract the general people. They are living in the mundane world, therefore, to attract them it is necessary to make a good, attractive cover.
In the goswamis’ books, everything is apparently simple, but inside that, everything given there is rich. Our own Math’s Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu externally is a big book looking like a dictionary, but internally our Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu is greatly rich with knowledge with the explanations of Srila Guru Maharaj. Similarly, all our centres need to have an external form and an internal form. Anyhow we will harmonise.
Harmony. Harmony is Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s conception. When He went to South India to preach, He visited every type of temple, such as those of Ganes, Kali, Siva, Durga, and other deities. Why did He visit all types of temples? He did so in order that He could reach the people to present to them the ultimate goal of life.
The conception of the Ramanuja sampradaya is that they will never go to a Siva temple. They have a saying that if a tiger will come to kill you, you may go to the mouth of the tiger but not to a Siva temple, even if you will get safety there! They have such a type of conception.
However, Mahaprabhu was not like that. He went to every temple He came across along His path of preaching. But everywhere Mahaprabhu went, He only preached the Krishna conception. He gave Krishna consciousness to all, and everyone took to Mahaprabhu’s religion. He went to Ganes temples, and the worshippers of Ganes took to Mahaprabhu’s religion. In that way, He preached everywhere, and our conception also will be like that. Our intention will be like that.
We do not hate others. If we will hate, then they will go out. Therefore, we must follow Mahaprabhu’s conception of not hating any religion, but giving them Krishna consciousness. So, we must always make harmony with others, otherwise this type of preaching is not possible.
In which way shall we be able to harmonise everything? That policy or theory is very nicely decorated in Sri Brahma-samhita. There you will see very nicely harmonised the position of Mother Durga, Ganes, Nrsimhadev, and other forms of Krishna: Narayan and so on. Everyone’s position is nicely harmonised there. The way in which they will be connected within our society is all very nicely explained in Sri Brahma-samhita.
The conception of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu can also be understood through Sri Krsna-karnamrta. This book explains the supreme goal in life, and the final conclusion for the jiva-soul is also found there.
Mahaprabhu did not compose such books, but He brought Sri Brahma-samhita and Sri Krsna-karnamrta, and He ordered Srila Sanatan Goswami and Srila Rupa Goswami to take charge. Mahaprabhu distributed to us the highest conclusions of His conception through Srila Rupa Goswami and Srila Sanatan Goswami.
At that time, Sri Ramananda Ray was His friend and sometimes acted as if His adviser, but Mahaprabhu did not give the charge of His sampradaya to Sri Ramananda Ray or Sri Svarup Damodar. He gave the charge for His society, sampradaya, or school, to Srila Rupa Goswami and Srila Sanatan Goswami and under them Srila Raghunath Goswami and all others. That is, Mahaprabhu gave Sri Rupa–Sanatan His full mercy in this regard.
By Mahaprabhu’s instruction, Svarup Damodar prepared Raghunath Das Goswami. Finally, Raghunath Goswami went to Srila Rupa Goswami and saw, “Here Mahaprabhu is present.”
It is a proven fact that Srila Raghunath Das Goswami’s character was that he did not want anything without the mercy and grace of Mahaprabhu. After Mahaprabhu passed away, in separation from Him, Srila Raghunath Das Goswami resolved to leave his body by committing a type of suicide.
Mahaprabhu had given him a Govardhan-sila, a stone from Govardhan Hill, consequently he wanted to see the hill of Govardhan once before passing away. He decided that he would commit suicide by jumping off Govardhan Hill. Naturally, when he went to Vrndavan, he would try to meet with Srila Rupa and Srila Sanatan Goswamis. When he met them, he suddenly saw, “Here Mahaprabhu is present in them!” He wanted to leave his body by jumping from Giriraj Govardhan, but when he saw Sri Rupa–Sanatan, he again got life and abandoned his former plan. Srila Raghunath Das Goswami said in his sloka:
nama-srestham manum api sachi-putram atra svarupam
rupam tasyagrajam uru-purim mathurim gosthavatim
radha-kundam giri-varam aho radhika-madhavasam
prapto yasya prathita-krpaya sri-gurum tam nato ’smi
“I am fully indebted to Sri Gurudev. Why? He has given me so many things….” [See Appendix 1.]
Then, everything we will get from the books of the goswamis. The Manah-siksa of Srila Raghunath Das Goswami is very valuable for us. The Upadesamrta of Srila Rupa Goswami is also extremely good for us. We published Upadesamrta before, I can remember.
Sri Rupa–Sanatan also harmonised, and the supreme example of harmonising is Mahaprabhu Himself. Actually, He harmonised with all types of religion. He gave respect to all religions, and over them all He established the Temple of Krishna consciousness. That is His harmonising capacity, we can say.
Each of our centres worldwide must first themselves practise in the way of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and I think that what I am preaching in this regard is perfect. I am trying to preach the conception of Mahaprabhu in the line of Srila Guru Maharaj and Srila Saraswati Thakur. This is my claim, and I have no other intention. If I shall not claim this with my full energy, then I shall be an offender to Srila Guru Maharaj because Srila Guru Maharaj believed that I am capable. I am trying, and everybody knows it. Still, I know there are many difficulties going on in many countries—and it is natural. I feel it, but I am trying to give them harmony in the line of Mahaprabhu, and when they are getting harmony, they are very happy.
A few days ago some devotees from Malaysia came here. A few months earlier they were feeling a little troubled, but at that time I could not go to Malaysia. Seeing their situation, I sent Sripad Sagar Maharaj there, and with his association they were very happy. They then came and told me, “Maharaj, we have gained new life with Sagar Maharaj’s preaching.”
Like that we are trying to harmonise everywhere. But the preaching principle of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is very simple: you be humble, be tolerant, and give honour to others, and practise Krishna consciousness in the line of Sri Rupa–Sanatan. This is the line given to us by Srila Guru Maharaj. We will find that the main thing given there is chanting: chanting without offence.
The main thing is chanting without offence, along with the nine kinds of activity of this devotional line: sravanam, kirtanam, and so on. Our main activity is sravan and kirtan—give your perfect hearing from a good Vaisnava and then try to preach what you hear from him to others for their benefit and your own benefit. This is the advice of Mahaprabhu.
Especially if you are born in India, you can easily fulfil your spiritual requirement here by the grace of Guru-Gauranga, and the process is to give fulfilment to others also, to distribute this conception.
harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha
This is Mahaprabhu’s conception. He expressed it very nicely to Prakasananda Saraswati.
Prakasananda Saraswati said to Mahaprabhu, “Why are you preaching this way?” Seeing Mahaprabhu’s clothing he said, “You are a sannyasi of our sampradaya, but You are dancing and chanting with the general people, and thousands of people are following You. Like mad You are doing. Why are You doing this?”
Mahaprabhu replied, “This is the only process in the Age of Kali to satisfy our Supreme Lord.” That is, the Lord Himself in the form of Hari-nam has appeared in this age of Kali-yuga.
Mahaprabhu illustrated this in the second sloka of His Siksastakam prayers:
namnam akari bahudha nija-sarva-saktis
tatrarpita niyamitah smarane na kalah
etadrsi tava krpa bhagavan mamapi
durdaivam idrsam ihajani nanuragah
“O Lord, Your Holy Name bestows all good fortune unto the soul, and thus You have extended into the world Your many Names—Krishna, Govinda, and so on. You have offered all Your transcendental potency in Your Holy Name, without enjoining any (scriptural or philosophical) hard and fast rules and regulations concerning time, place, or circumstance to be observed in chanting it. Dear Lord, You have so graciously made Your Holy Name available to ordinary souls, and yet my misfortune, my offensiveness, does not allow love for that gracious Name to be born in my heart.”
But in which way shall we gain attachment, attraction, and love for Hari-nam? And in which way shall we practise? Mahaprabhu’s third sloka shows the answer to us:
trnad api sunichena taror iva sahisnuna
amanina manadena kirtaniyah sada harih
Mahaprabhu’s conception and method is very simple, and we are preaching it all over the world in varieties of ways. In different countries, they adopt different methods to preach, but it is all going to one pocket: the practice of Krishna consciousness.
Mahaprabhu said to Nityananda Prabhu and Haridas, “Tell everyone about Krishna, serve Krishna, and learn about Krishna. Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”
In a very simple and clear way, Krishna’s position is given in Sri Brahma-samhita (5.1).
isvarah paramah krsnah sach-chid-ananda-vigrahah
anadir adir govindah sarva-karana-karanam
(Sri Brahma-samhita: 5.1)
[“The Supreme Personality of Godhead, the embodiment of truth, consciousness, and joy, is Govinda, Krishna. He is beginningless, the origin of all that be, and the cause of all causes.”]
We shall try to follow this advice of Mahaprabhu: “Tell everyone about Krishna, serve Him, and learn about Krishna.” My own feeling, given by the grace of my Srila Guru Maharaj, is that this guideline for us will be very good.
The One Channel of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math
I received a letter describing a society that is being formed by mixing together so many Vaisnava groups. I can clearly say that if the society is made in the way described, it is against the principle of Srila Guru Maharaj. It was to avoid this very thing that Srila Guru Maharaj made separately Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math. He was in the highest position of the whole Vaisnava community, but he never joined with their missions. Srila Guru Maharaj did not want to be deviated from his own vision by any of his godbrothers or other Gurus, therefore he made Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math. Furthermore, Srila Saraswati Thakur gave the charge of the Rupanuga sampradaya to Srila Guru Maharaj—it is clear and everyone knows it.
So many stalwart Vaisnavas made big societies and invited Srila Guru Maharaj to be their President. For the time being, in some cases, he accepted and told them, “If it will help to bring harmony to your society, then you can use my name”, but he himself never went back there.
Srila Guru Maharaj gave very clear directives for his sampradaya, saying, “Who wants to follow me and my directives, he can come to Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math and follow Govinda Maharaj as my successor.” He gave very clear directives on many occasions and in many ways—and everyone knows it.
I do not want to create any chaos or disturbance in our community. Whatever qualification and position I have was all given by Srila Guru Maharaj for his service, and I shall try to maintain that.
What is the meaning of ‘preceptorial line’? This word ‘preceptorial’ means that it must be in one channel, not several channels. The Ganges is not flowing within several channels—it is flowing through one channel, and who wants Ganges water he must come to that channel. When a channel leaves the Ganges, that is not Ganges water. The Ganges water is running in the main channel. This is the situation with our preceptorial line.
Srila Guru Maharaj told the devotees clearly that he could not continue holding the charge of the preceptorial line, therefore, he is giving that charge to Govinda Maharaj. And I am trying as much as is possible by me. I do not want to disturb anyone, or anyone’s mission, but whoever is a sincere seeker coming to me, and whoever is my friend in the line of Srila Guru Maharaj, I want their association, and I want to continue with them. I want to practise my service with them. I do not want to make a hodge-podge, therefore, I avoid any proposal that is not in an exclusive way to Srila Guru Maharaj.
I want to express the truth clearly. I do not want to disturb anyone’s mood, therefore, if anyone comes with another proposal, I give some excuse. But actually that excuse is not the reason, rather, I do not want to mix with the mood of others. Someone is giving sahajiya sankirtan in their math, but it is not possible for me to do like this in Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math. That is the exclusiveness of Srila Guru Maharaj in his service to the Rupanuga sampradaya, and I cannot break it. I must follow the instructions of Srila Guru Maharaj, and that is my opinion.
Another acharya gave initiation to disciples of Srila Guru Maharaj and disciples of mine, and gave sannyas to Srila Guru Maharaj’s disciples, but by doing so, that sannyasi diverted them to his own sampradaya. I have no problem for that, but I cannot consider them as our sampradaya’s members—it is very clear. ‘It is very clear’ means that Srila Guru Maharaj said, “I have previously given to him (Govinda Maharaj) the charge of the Math, and now I am giving him the full responsibility of giving Hari-nam, diksa, sannyas, etc., as an Acharya of this Math on behalf of myself.” That charge he gave to me, and those that will not follow the instructions of Srila Guru Maharaj, who cannot keep faith with him—they are no doubt glorifying Srila Guru Maharaj in many ways, saying “Srila Guru Maharaj was so intelligent, he was such a great Vaisnava, Guru Maharaj was siddha-mahapurus, Guru Maharaj was this, Guru Maharaj was that”—but if it is their conception that Srila Guru Maharaj has done so much wrong in appointing me, then in which way are they honouring him?
They are saying, “Guru Maharaj is siddha-purus, he is very intelligent, this, that, this, that,” and telling that Guru Maharaj is supreme, but I cannot agree that his opinion is not supreme. This opinion and his desire stood continuously from 1947 to 1988, and he did not change his mood in any way.
And why did Srila Guru Maharaj keep his faith to me? And why not to any of the hundreds of devotees who have come here, some of whom were very qualified with graduation, Masters’ degrees, and so on, even though I have always been very unqualified in that way?
Lastly, he made his ‘Last Will and Testament’, but before that he made three or four wills, and there always he named, “This person will be my successor.
“If he will not come back from his position of grhastha, you must wait five years, but in the meantime, do not make anyone else as Guru in Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math. This chair must be kept vacant five years for him.” I came across this expression in his Will a few days ago.
“The chair will be vacant for five years, but none will sit in this chair except Govinda Maharaj.” That type of faith he had in me. He said, “It is my desire. Who cannot respect it, who cannot follow it, who cannot keep faith with this, he must get out from my Math.” “I shall drag them out.” These are his own words. Here is no haziness. It is all clear instruction for his devotees, for his followers, for his friends, for the newcomers—everything he very clearly has done. Seeing the activities of others we can now understand something of the reason why Srila Guru Maharaj did this.
Now, there is a section who are always saying “Guru Maharaj is great. He is great. He is great.” But his desire they cannot follow, so what is their faith to their Guru.
Srila Guru Maharaj commented, “I do not want to go into the jungle of acharyas, rather I will keep myself to myself, maybe in a thatched house, but that must be very clean and very quiet.” And for that he made Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math. Not only that, but he did not want to make many Maths, that was his desire. But I was very enthusiastic to do something for the devotees, and he mercifully gave me the instruction, “Yes, you can do one in Kolkata as the devotees’ transit station, and one you can do in Puri and one in Vrndavan.” That is: Puri, Vrndavan, and Nabadwip, and, “Don’t make many Maths”; that was Srila Guru Maharaj’s instruction.
It was not his full desire that I make many Maths, but looking after the eagerness of the devotees, he accepted this, and in his lifetime, we have done it, so we have no problem. But now others are making a hodge-podge kind of society, and I am well aware of it.
My preaching in the West is going in a very happy way. Who has seen my preaching style in the West he will immediately understand that our preaching Mission will grow more and more if I go there and preach, and they are afraid of that. This became clear to me some time ago in Vrndavan.
However, I am keeping a very clear position with all other missionary activities: I am a servitor of Srila Guru Maharaj, and I am engaging in such service that comes to me. And if anyone wishes to join with me or the sampradaya in that same exclusive way, we will invite them, “Please come and do seva.”
If any ISKCON servitor who hasn’t taken initiation comes to me and asks if he can do service in ISKCON, I say, “Yes you can do. If you want to take initiation from me, I have no objection, but you are serving ISKCON, so serve ISKCON. If they do not abuse me, you can stay there.”
I am a disciple of Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj, and I have only one line: that is service to Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj, and I am continuing that preceptorial line. I am respecting all the Vaisnavas, and why will I not do so? Offence to the Vaisnava is also Nam-aparadh. I cannot do Nam-aparadh. Offence to the Vaisnava is Nam-aparadh, that I know clearly.
I am very insignificant, and my Mission is very small, but I shall try to do the seva of the sincere seekers as is the order of my Sri Gurudev, and I am trying as much as is possible by me—that is my final conclusion.
Meanwhile, others are trying to take my friends, but I am tolerating everything. My mood is to tolerate because without tolerating nothing can be achieved. You must tolerate and give honour to others. I am taking everyone’s feet dust on my head, and I am feeling grateful to get their feet dust.
I never went to any other math without any service to Srila Guru Maharaj. Sripad Madhusudan Maharaj would come and serve Srila Guru Maharaj every year, but without my service to Guru Maharaj, I also never went to his Math. Katwa, the place where Mahaprabhu took sannyas, is just twenty-eight miles from here, but I never went there in thirty years. I can go to see, “Oh this is the very auspicious place where Mahaprabhu took sannyas. Here is Mahaprabhu’s Deity, and here are many reminders of Mahaprabhu’s sannyas-lila.” But leaving my service, I never went there. And that wasn’t one year or two or three years, but for thirty years I did not go to Katwa. I am passing Katwa station by train, but not getting down.
Similarly in Kalna, in twenty years I never went to see that place even though Mahaprabhu is living there. It is just four stops down on the train. Nitai-Gaura are there at Gauri Das Pandit’s house. But when a legal case came, at that time I went there every fifteen days or sometimes every seven days, and on one day only, by the desire of Srila Guru Maharaj, I went to see Gauri Das Pandit’s Nitai-Gaura and pay my dandavat pranams. At that time, the government wanted to take the whole Math and property of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, and at that time myself and Hari Charan Prabhu went there in order to resist the takeover. By the grace of Srila Guru Maharaj, we were successful.
That is my mood to Srila Guru Maharaj, and who will follow that, I believe he must be benefitted, for that is the real exclusive devotional line.
The Eternal Service of Sri-Gaura-Saraswati
Question: Recently Your Divine Grace instructed that in all our Temples and Ashrams worldwide our devotees should chant the Sri Saraswat Arati in addition to Sri Gaura Arati each evening.
Srila Govinda Maharaj: Yes, and I feel other Missions will also adopt this. There are now so many Ashrams and Maths. Not only Srila Guru Maharaj’s Ashram and Math, but so many of Srila Guru Maharaj’s godbrothers and disciples have made separate Ashrams and Maths. There may now be 300 or 400 Ashrams, but in each Ashram they generally sing only Jaya jaya Gorachader aratika sobha, and some may sometimes sing Jaya jaya Radha-Krsna yugala-milana. Srila Bhakti Vinod composed these two songs, which are of different types. One song is for Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and one is for Sri Sri Radha-Krishna.
In our Saraswat sampradaya—the disciples and grand-disciples of Srila Saraswati Thakur—you will find in almost every Ashram that the Sri Vigrahas are Sri Sri Radha-Krishna and Mahaprabhu together on one throne. We offer arati to the one throne of Radha-Krishna and Mahaprabhu, but that specific kind of arati song had not previously been composed. Srila Guru Maharaj considered that ‘arati’ means the glorification of the Deities, but a specific kirtan for the glorification of Sri Sri Radha-Krishna together with Mahaprabhu is not found anywhere. Srila Guru Maharaj therefore composed Sri Saraswat Arati [see Appendix 2], where he explained the mood of our Deities and why the Deities are in this particular way on the simhasan of our Math. So many of Srila Guru Maharaj’s godbrothers appreciated this composition, and some started singing it regularly and some did not. This was the situation.
Srila Guru Maharaj was not by nature eager to push others to chant the arati song he had composed. Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur composed Jaya jaya Gorachader aratika sobha, and Srila Guru Maharaj did not want to disturb the mood of the devotees who chant this in their Maths everywhere. Although Srila Guru Maharaj did not want to cross over what had been organised already by the whole of the Saraswat sampradaya, he nonetheless wanted to give the full conception regarding our Deities. He therefore instructed that in Their honour, every Friday Sri Saraswat Arati will be sung for the satisfaction of our Deities and our Divine Masters.
Srila Guru Maharaj was a little hesitant, but I feel it was a little shortcoming on my part that I did not assert the introduction of this arati song on a daily basis in the presence of Srila Guru Maharaj. Now, by his grace, the inspiration has come to me that this Sri Saraswat Arati is the real arati of our Deities.
Jaya jaya Gorachader is only for Mahaprabhu and the Pancha Tattva, so if we sing only this one song, some incompleteness will always be felt. Srila Guru Maharaj wanted to make our song complete. I started to feel this very strongly, and I mentioned it to Sripad Janardan Maharaj. He immediately declared that he will start the singing of Sri Saraswat Arati on a daily basis in our Santa Cruz Ashram. Sripad Sagar Maharaj then followed suit. Then I decided that we shall also start here in Nabadwip.
I understood that it will not disturb the mood of Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur because we shall first sing Jaya jaya Gorachader. No doubt it will take a little more time to chant both songs instead of one, but what is the purpose of our life without the service and satisfaction of Sri Sri Guru-Gauranga? Certainly there is no difficulty for us to spend a little more time for Their service in the arati.
The purport of Sri Saraswat Arati gives full Krishna consciousness to us. It perfectly explains the mood of Radha-Govinda and the mood of Mahaprabhu. Included there is some description of their Pastimes, and why They have manifested in this form of the Deities. Such clarification is given in this song.
Question: Why did Srila Guru Maharaj ask it to be sung specifically on Friday evenings?
Srila Govinda Maharaj: Friday is considered to be a good day. Brhaspativar and Sukravar [Thursday and Friday] are both pure, auspicious days according to astrology. However, on Brhaspativar barbela [Thursday afternoon] some environmental or general disturbance may come around the time of arati. This is the external cause.
The internal cause is that Sukra is known as a teacher in raga-marg, and Brhaspati as a teacher of vidhi-marg. We are followers of raga-marg, so he chose Sukravar, Friday.
Question: Do you wish this Sri Saraswat Arati to be sung in all our Temples around the world whether they have Mahaprabhu, Radha, and Krishna or not?
Srila Govinda Maharaj: Yes, even if they have only Mahaprabhu. However in special cases the devotees may sing other specific songs for the Deities in their Temple; for example in Puri where we have Sri Sri Nitai-Chaitanyadev. For Them, I composed Sri Sri Nitai-Chaitanya Arati.
In particular, we give specific honour to what our Guru Maharaj composed. He gave much honour with respect to his Guru Maharaj’s songs, so we shall give that type of respect to our Guru Maharaj’s songs. He taught us by his example, and we must carry out his teachings.
The Voice of Sri Chaitanyadev
anera hrdaya—mana mora mana—vrndavana
‘mane’ ‘vane’ eka kari’ jani
taha tomara pada-dvaya karaha yadi udaya
tabe tomara purna krpa mani
The illusory environment is always attacking and disturbing the jiva-souls in so many ways. But Prabhupad Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati started the cleansing process, like Gundicha Marjan, the cleansing of the Lord’s Temple. This was his first work in this world.
The heart must be made like Vrndavan. It won’t do to keep a jungle in the heart. Many disturbing elements are in the jungle, but there is nothing like that in Vrndavan. Everything in Vrndavan is perfectly pure. So, we must worship the Supreme Lord purely. To mix with maya for our sense pleasure and invite God into our heart is gross hypocrisy. With great force, Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur and Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur did everything in their power to smash such hypocrisy.
Their first work was to preach the Name. In Bengal, so many would chant the Name, but in a hashish-smoking party. Some would chant for hours on end. There was no dearth of such Hari-nam in Bengal, but the qualification of real purity was absent. Because of this, Mahaprabhu’s sampradaya or religious succession became completely adulterated. People uttered the name ‘Vaisnava’ with hatred. The groups known as Neda, Darabesa, Sani, Aul, Baul, Kartabhaja, and so on—they all made such a hodgepodge of Mahaprabhu’s high and confidential teachings of divine perfection that Mahaprabhu was no longer respected by the people. If anyone said, “A Vaisnava is at the door”, the head of the family would say, “Oh, give him a little rice and send him off.” Such was the conception the common people had of Vaisnavas.
But the real Vaisnava-dharma is jaiva-dharma, the nature of the soul, the divine life of the soul. Bhakti Vinod Thakur wrote his book Jaiva-dharma to bring genuine Vaisnava religion out to the world.
jivera ‘svarupa’ haya—krsnera ‘nitya-dasa’
krsnera ‘tatastha sakti’, ‘bhedabheda prakasa’
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 20.108)
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has taught, “The real identity of the soul is as an eternal servitor of Krishna. He is Krishna’s marginal potency, simultaneously distinct yet non-distinct from Krishna.” And it was this type of transcendental knowledge that Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami brought here. That was already present but hidden in the scriptures or holy books, and he revealed it. Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami’s unique contribution was the daiva-varnasram-dharma, or Godly socio-religious society, according to the proper interpretation of the scriptures: daiva-varnasrama-dharma, Hari-bhakti yara marma, sastra-yukte karila nischaya. The so-called ‘religion’ that goes on in the material world is demonic or asura-varnasram, but the daiva-varnasram-dharma always strives to worship the Lord. There are many devotional duties, but their aim is exclusively the satisfaction of the Lord.
Sravanam kirtanam Visnoh smaranam pada-sevanam, or hearing, chanting, remembering, and so on, are all duties for no other purpose but worshipping the Lord. The execution of these functions is known, in its primary stage, as daiva-varnasram. The bodily calculation of considering a brahman’s son a brahman, or a sudra’s son a sudra, and so on, is false.
chatur-varnyam maya srstam guna-karma-vibhagasah
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 4.13)
“The four social divisions are created by Me, and divided according to man’s qualities and works.”
Prabhupad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur showed us that genuine socio-religious organisation of varnasram-dharma must worship the Lord, and above varnasram-dharma is Vaisnavism or jaiva-dharma, the divine life or religion of the soul. This is the line by which Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami established real Vaisnavism in the world. A Vaisnava is never inferior to a brahman. A Vaisnava is always superior to a brahman. That is his real position. The position of a Vaisnava is never merely ‘next’ to a brahman. The Vaisnava lives in the other world—the transcendental world of service, seva-maya-bhumika, or nirguna-bhumika, the transcendental plane. And varnasram-dharma is in the saguna-bhumika, the plane of mundane qualities. But the attempt to rise above the mayik plane comes within the purview of varnasram-dharma.
varnasramacharavata purusena parah puman
visnur aradhyate pantha nanyat tat-tosa-karanam
“Almighty Visnu is worshipped by the person whose practices conform to the social and religious duties [varna-dharma, asrama-dharma]. In this world, there is no other way to propitiate Him.”
Such a teaching guides the world toward the worship of Lord Krishna. But the Vaisnavas live in the transcendental world. For example, if you take prasadam, you are not taking mere rice, vegetables, water, and so on. You are taking what was offered to Krishna. You cannot be responsible for any sin. The devotee offers everything for Krishna’s pleasure.
uchchhista-bhojino dasas tava mayam jayema hi
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 11.6.46)
“Adorned with the garlands, scents, and clothing enjoyed by You, and partaking of Your remnants, O Lord—we, Your servitors, can conquer Your maya.”
In this way, the eternally living and ecstatic (sach-chid-ananda-maya) element that is present within is again fully manifest. Similarly, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami once again revealed to the world that which is eternal and ever-fresh. Before his appearance, people might have been chanting the Name of God, but how did they chant it? In his time, he was the inaugurator of the genuine chanting of Hari-nam.
prthivite yata katha dharma-name chale
bhagavata kahe saba paripurna chhale
Totalitarian war against maya. What passes in this world in the name of religion—everything is false. You are jiva-soul. Krishna is like the great sun, and you are like a sun-ray. The sun-ray must always be ‘attached’ to the great sun. That is his nature. Krishna is like a big exalted magnet, and you are like iron. Therefore, He is called Krishna, meaning Krish: to attract, and na: to give joy. He attracts us, and gives us ecstasy (karsan venu-svanair gopir Gopinathah sriye ’stu nah).
This is Prabhupad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur’s gift. Many acharyas, such as Sankar Acharya, Buddha, Ramanuja, Nimbaditya, and Madhva Acharya, came and distributed the mercy of the Lord, but the supreme position was given by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. That was suppressed by the illusory environment, and Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami came, cleansed, and revealed that divine gem. He clarified to the world the real position of Vaisnava-dharma. Now nobody can accuse Vaisnava-dharma of being a lower-class religion or conception. It can only be admitted to be greater than the greatest.
He established, especially in Bengal, the renounced order of the Vaisnavas: tridanda sannyas. Previously the custom was the ekadanda sannyas of the mayavadis. He established many things in a new light, in the pure line. The chanting process, the preaching process—he renovated everything and established the proper line, according to the Vedic culture, to take us to our supramental destination.
Once, along with Srila Guru Maharaj, we visited his godbrother Sauren Babu. A big pandit who was very much opposed to Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami also came to that meeting. Guru Maharaj gave his lecture, and after that, on the invitation of Sauren Babu, that pandit gave his lecture. He admitted, “We can now understand that we were wrong, and Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Prabhupad was right. In my youth, I heavily opposed his preaching, but that was my great wrong. I now can say that he was upholding genuine righteousness, and all of us who opposed him were wrong. The gosai, pandits, sahajiya—all were wrong.” At that time, so-called Vaisnavism was very ‘low-classism’. But after Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Prabhupad, it again rose to its high, glorious position.
You will see two lines of a special song at the front of our Nat Mandir:
matala hari-jana kirtana-range
pujala raga-patha gaurava-bhange
This verse is the personification of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami. What is the worship he showed us? And how is it executed? Both are shown here. Before, if a Vaisnava came to the door, everybody would think he was naked but for a kaupin; or at least his cloth must be dirty. And he wore beads and tilak. Matha neda kapni pada, nake tilaka galaya mala (Baula-sangita: 6.1). This was how Bhakti Vinod Thakur described the pseudo-Vaisnava. Eo ta eka kalira chela: like a servant of Kali, a devil. This whole anomaly was smashed by Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami. He established big Maths [monasteries] and Mandirs [Temples]. He engaged all the fruits of technology and materialism—motor cars, printing presses, and so many things—for spreading Krishna consciousness all over the world.
His preaching began at Ulta Dingi Junction Road in Kolkata. There was a two-storied building, with only one room upstairs. Downstairs there were four rooms where four Vaisnava families lived—all his disciples—and with their donations they kept him in the single room upstairs. I have seen that room personally. His preaching began from there. Later, he rented another house for preaching. Despite that humble beginning, the world can now see the result of the preaching of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami.
As described by Srila Vrndavan Das Thakur, Mahaprabhu has said,
prthivite achhe yata nagaradi-grama
sarvatra prachara haibe mora nama
“My Name shall be preached in as many towns and villages that be in the world.”
As predicted by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, we can now see devotees chanting and dancing all over the world in the Name of Nitai-Gauranga. The Hare Krishna mahamantra has spread all over the world. No doubt, this knowledge is transcendental, but it is necessary to properly follow the line of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur. Otherwise, after a few years, or fifty, or a hundred years, all will fall into the pit of sahajiyaism [imitation]. We must be ever cautious to follow the principle of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur Prabhupad.
We have also seen that our Guru Maharaj could never accept anything but pure Vaisnavism. Many compromises have been seen in so-called Vaisnavism, but Guru Maharaj would never mix such ‘alloys’. His talks were always completely straightforward, in the line of the pure, unalloyed devotion that was distributed in the world by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Thus, it is clear that Guru Maharaj purely distributed unalloyed devotion all over the world.
We have all seen that when Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad toured all over the world for preaching, he would regularly return to India and meet with Guru Maharaj. Guru Maharaj was his very intimate friend, and he also took Guru Maharaj as his Siksa-guru. He would come to see how Guru Maharaj was keeping, and give him a report about the progress of his preaching work. And Swami Maharaj said to Guru Maharaj, “I am bringing raw materials from the West. You please purify and use these materials for the service of Mahaprabhu and Lord Krishna.”
For the general preaching, Swami Maharaj distributed the Hare Krishna mahamantra all over the world. That is general preaching. But it is not that he did not know what good preaching is—he well knew. But he had to check himself, like Mahaprabhu. When many people came to see Mahaprabhu’s dancing in His intoxication of divine love, He would come to bahya-dasa, that is, He would check Himself.
So, we see that Swami Maharaj brought many fortunate souls, from many countries, to Krishna consciousness. He thought that a special group would necessarily require higher spiritual education. He mentioned this to Guru Maharaj. “I am bringing raw materials. You please rectify them and use them for Mahaprabhu’s service.”
Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami came into this world and distributed real Vaisnavism. And by his grace, we have our Guru Maharaj. He is the Guru of both Srila Swami Maharaj and Srila Guru Maharaj. We can never come to the end of singing the glories of such great souls. How can we fully glorify the character of the supreme Vaisnavas? It is impossible to do them justice.
We try, but time checks us. Anyway, today, this day of Sri Krishna Panchami, is most auspicious. We can only pray at the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur that he may be pleased with us, and no doubt he is always pleased with us, otherwise, how could we have a place in his sampradaya? Especially in the line of his very dearmost Srila Sridhar Maharaj.
We have come under the guidance of Srila Guru Maharaj, so we have no doubt that we are very, very fortunate. But that is not the end of our work. We must proceed towards our destination. The blessings of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur and the Vaisnavas are always necessary. Everybody’s well wishes are necessary for our practising spiritual life.
Sriman Mahaprabhu has said,
trnad api sunichena taror iva sahisnuna
amanina manadena kirtaniyah sada harih
Mahaprabhu has very kindly given us three rules. “Trnad api sunichena: do not disturb anyone—consider yourself lower than a blade of grass; taror iva sahisnuna: like a tree, tolerate everything in this mundane world; amanina manadena: the life of service is the eternal property of the exalted jiva-soul, or the liberated soul, and that is also the property of everyone—so you must respect everyone, without expecting respect in return. By following these principles, always sing the glories of the Supreme Lord Hari.” We have received these instructions by the grace of Sriman Mahaprabhu Chaitanyadev and Prabhupad Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur.
The purport of such teachings has its own subtle connotation, which must be in the proper line. We cannot follow the proper line of thought without taking shelter in the lotus feet of a genuine Guru. Such are the teachings of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami. Previously, many sastras, many types of Vaisnavas and religions were to be seen in the world, but only after the appearance of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami was it openly clarified that the only necessity is a life of service to Krishna, under the guidance of the genuine Guru and Vaisnava.
May Srila Prabhupad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur be gracious upon us. Srila Guru Maharaj wrote many Sanskrit verses about him. They are so exalted that if we enter into the purport of only one of them, hours can pass unnoticed. After the departure of Srila Prabhupad, Srila Guru Maharaj wrote this sloka about him:
vilasatu hrdi nityam bhakti-siddhanta-vani
Guru Maharaj himself said that if Srila Prabhupad were present to hear this sloka, he would have said that his entire personality had been embraced in only four lines. Revealing his own identity, Guru Maharaj wrote:
charanasrita-renu-dharas tam aham
pranamami sada prabhupada-padam
“I eternally bow unto the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupad, who is the dearmost attendant of Vrsabhanu Nandini. By taking the dust of his lotus feet (charanasrita-renu-dharah), I have now become Sridhar Maharaj. The dust of his lotus feet is so glorious—it purifies everything in an astonishing and miraculous way. Mahad adbhuta-pavana-sakti-padam: his glorious, wonderfully purifying lotus feet.”
Puri Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math,
Jagannathdev, and His Dham
Question: During the later Pastimes of Srila Guru Maharaj, we heard that he wanted to spend his last days in Jagannath Puri. Is this correct?
Srila Govinda Maharaj: Yes, but mentally. In earlier years, sometimes Srila Guru Maharaj went to Puri for observing Urja Vrata during Kartik month. He used to stay in the place that is now the Aravinda Ashram.
Actually, in Mahaprabhu’s lila, Puri is similar to Kuruksetra in Krishna’s lila. The mood of union in separation and intense service-need is at its greatest there. Mahaprabhu expressed:
priyah so ’yam krsnah saha-chari kuru-ksetra-militas
tathaham sa radha tad idam ubhayoh sangama-sukham
mano me kalindi-pulina-vipinaya sprhayati
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 1.76)
This is a verse spoken by Srimati Radharani to Srimati Lalita Devi, and Srila Rupa Goswami expressed it in this way: “Krishna who lived earlier in Vrndavan Dham, that Krishna is now here before Me, and I am already in union with Him. I am thinking that this Krishna and I, We are the same persons as were living in Vrndavan, and that Krishna has mercifully given us His union here. This is sufficient for anyone, but it is not pleasing My heart so nicely because My heart is hankering to be in Vrndavan with this Krishna. Here also we are playing with Krishna and dancing with Him. All our activities are going nicely with Him, but still I am not happy with that. My heart always wants the association of Krishna on the banks of the Yamuna where there are many varieties of kunjas and He plays His flute.
“Here Krishna is not playing a flute, but in Vrndavan He plays His flute and calls everyone through that sound, and there He plays with us like our boyfriend. We want to meet with Krishna on those banks of the Yamuna, and that will give me full satisfaction, whereas this meeting in Kuruksetra is giving Me neither full satisfaction nor peace within My heart.” This is the meaning of the Kuruksetra-lila with the Vraja-vasis. Here we find the most extreme mood of separation.
On a plate there may be your favourite foodstuffs, but if you cannot take that food, then what will be your feeling? Similarly, if Krishna is in front of you but you cannot play as you like with Him, the mood of separation is very strong.
In Puri, Mahaprabhu went every day to see Lord Jagannath living in the Temple, and He saw Jagannathdev to be Krishna, but still He was not satisfied with that. He needed to meet Krishna with the Yamuna, flute, and so on. Such feelings of separation came to Mahaprabhu, and He suffered from that so much. It is that mood of separation that Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur worshipped. He did not worship union, but he worshipped the mood of separation of Mahaprabhu. Such mood of separation happened in Kuruksetra, therefore he wrote that in Vrndavan live bogus persons whereas the real devotees of Krishna live in Kuruksetra.
Srila Prabhupad Saraswati Thakur sent Srila Guru Maharaj to Kuruksetra to make a centre. As Math commander, he led a small group of devotees, and he succeeded in making an Ashram there. I have seen that place.
Question: Is it also the case that when the devotees saw Mahaprabhu in Puri, they had the feeling, “This is Mahaprabhu, but we want Him as Nimai in Nabadwip”?
Srila Govinda Maharaj: Yes. Such feeling is shown in the sloka by Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur:
ami chai gaurachandre laite mayapure
Here Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur expresses the great mood of separation he felt to see the sannyas-ves [sannyas clothing] of Mahaprabhu at the Gambhira: “I like to see Sri Chaitanyadev, but I particularly want to worship, remember, see, and serve Gaurachandra, Visvambhar Pandit. It is my desire to see the Mayapur-lila of young Sri Gaurasundar. As Nimai Pandit, He had beautiful hair, He decorated Himself with fine clothing, and He engaged in Pastimes like a young brahman boy along with His associated devotees in Mayapur, Isodyan. To see Him in such a way is my worshippable desire.” Mahaprabhu used to be Nimai Pandit, and that is a very sweet Name for Him.
Even after Mahaprabhu took sannyas, many of the goswamis, such as Srila Rupa Goswami, many times would say the name of Sri Sachi Mata. Sri Vrndavan Das Thakur said, and it is almost too much for anyone: even if in a dream one will chant the name of Sachi Mata, one will get full liberation and transcendental happiness.
Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur expressed his wish to be attached to Mahaprabhu’s Nabadwip-lila. He mentioned very clearly that Mahaprabhu took sannyas, and that is all right because it is His Pastime, but He has taken so much austerity, and the devotees, such as Sri Jagadananda Pandit and others, cannot tolerate that.
Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur wants to see Mahaprabhu living in Nabadwip peacefully with the devotees of Nadia. There the Pancha Tattva are chanting and dancing in great jubilation.
When I saw hanging behind my chair in Dum Dum Park a picture of Sriman Mahaprabhu chanting in this way, I wanted to compose a sloka describing it. Then suddenly I found that already Srila Prabodhananda Saraswati has expressed it very nicely in his book Sri Radha-rasa-sudha-nidhi (1):
nindantam pulakotkarena vikasan-nipa-prasuna-chchhavim
prordhvi-krtya-bhuja-dvayam hari harity uchchair vadantam muhuh
nrtyantam drutam asru-nirjhara-chayaih sinchantam urvi-talam
gayantam nija-parsadaih parivrtam sri-gaura-chandram numah
In his book, Sri Radha-rasa-sudha-nidhi, he has made a mangalacharanam with this sloka. The general meaning is: “Mahaprabhu is chanting Hare Krishna with His parsad devotees in the mood of dancing. With arms upraised, with tears constantly flowing from His eyes to the earth making the whole ground wet, and with the hairs of His body standing on end—thus appearing like the white and yellow colour of the kadamba flower—I offer my worship to this Mahaprabhu who is chanting with His devotees in Nabadwip Dham.”
Another devotee expressed:
mane kari node juri’ hrdaya bichai
tahara upare sonar gauranga nachai
“That type of Mahaprabhu I want to worship in my heart, and I want to spread my heart like a carpet along the whole of the bank of the Ganges so Mahaprabhu may dance there in my heart.” There are many such expressions.
Question: So in Puri we find union in separation twice: the devotees see Mahaprabhu in the mood of separation, also Mahaprabhu sees Jagannathdev in the mood of great separation?
Srila Govinda Maharaj:Yes. It is especially the Nabadwip devotees who feel this mood of union in separation when they see Mahaprabhu. The Nabadwip devotees would sometimes stay in Puri Dham with Sriman Mahaprabhu for four months each year.
It is the tradition that each year many of our Nabadwip devotees go to Puri. Our Western devotees are also always eager to go to Puri even when it is not possible for them to see Lord Jagannath. They like to see the area of Jagannath and the places of the Pastimes of Mahaprabhu and the devotees. Previously, however, we had no place to stay there, so the devotees would stay in dharmashalas, but sometimes there would be no rooms available, especially at the time of Sri Jagannathdev’s Ratha Yatra. Therefore, for the devotees’ convenience and service, it was my desire to establish a centre in Puri.
Srila Guru Maharaj told me not to make many Maths or I may get much trouble to run them. However, it is the will of Krishna that lastly Srila Guru Maharaj gave permission, “Yes, you can make three: one in Vrndavan, one in Puri Dham, and one in Kolkata.”
Kolkata is our ‘transit station’, and Vrndavan is the destination of many devotees, as is Puri Dham. So, these three places are for service to the devotees. This is our mood.
In Puri, the devotees tried for a long time to buy a piece of land, but they were repeatedly unsuccessful. Then I promised to Srila Guru Maharaj, “I will take charge of purchasing the land. I will go there and within two months we must certainly get something.”
I wanted to follow the example of Srila Rupa Goswami, Srila Sanatan Goswami, Srila Haridas Thakur, and others, which was not to disturb the strict regulations of Jagannathdev’s pandas [priests]. I therefore looked in the area frequented by the Western travellers, which is a little distance from the Temple. I also wanted to avoid staying near other Missions of the Gaudiya Maths so as to avoid any danger of aparadh.
I tried so hard, but each piece of land that seemed suitable was eventually found to be under litigation or otherwise unavailable. Six weeks passed in this search, to no avail. Finally I prayed to Lord Jagannath, “Wherever You will give some land, I will make a Temple there.” Within three days, news reached me through Sripad Damodar Maharaj that a man wanted to sell some land in the area of Gaur Batsahi. I met the proprietor, within five minutes the sale was settled, and within just fifteen days it was registered.
Our prayer to Lord Jagannath, Lord Baladev, and Lady Subhadra should be: “Kindly grant us some opportunity to render service at Jagannath Puri.” Srila Guru Maharaj gave a clue to bhajan life under Pandit Gadadhar. Our Math is near his Temple, the Temple of Tota Gopinath. Going from our Temple towards Tota Gopinath Temple, on the right side is Sri Purusottam Math, the Temple established by Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Prabhupad.
We purchased the land for our Temple in 1984, and the Deities were installed in 1990. Service goes on at our Math in Puri daily. Our guesthouse, Sevak Bhavan, is now well known in Puri, and all the town’s rickshaw drivers know its location.
Question: How did the Deities come to our Ashram in Puri?
Srila Govinda Maharaj: Inspiration came from Srila Guru Maharaj that there may be no, or at least very few, Sri Vigrahas [Deities] of Nityananda Prabhu in Puri Dham. At that time, several Deities of Mahaprabhu were there but not of Nityananda Prabhu.
In Nabadwip, we were already keeping two Deities: Sri Nitai and Sri Chaitanyadev. It was at first the desire of Srila Guru Maharaj that these Deities of Nityananda Prabhu and Mahaprabhu would play in Govinda Kunda opposite the Temple here in Nabadwip, and still it is in my mind to try to manifest such a project here. I would like to do it this year itself, and I have asked one good carpenter devotee to come. He can do so much seva in the Centenary Hall, and especially he can make a nice simhasan [throne] and a boat for Sri Sri Nitai-Gauranga’s Pastimes in Govinda Kunda. It has been my hidden desire to do this, and I have already purchased some teak wood especially for this project.
When I asked Srila Guru Maharaj if I could take these Sri Sri Nitai-Gaura Deities from here to Puri, he agreed, and said that if I wish, I may take them.
So, by the grace and will of Srila Guru Maharaj, when our Puri Math manifested, Mahaprabhu accepted the Name of ‘Chaitanya’ and went with Nitai to Puri for Their Pastimes. Srila Guru Maharaj honoured these Deities, and he touched the feet of Them both. They are very exalted and very heavy.
Previously there was no kirtan written for the particular arati of Sri Sri Nitai-Chaitanya. Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur had previously composed the Pancha Tattva arati (Jaya jaya Gaurachader aratika sobha), and he composed the Yugala arati (Jaya jaya Radha-Krsna-yugala-milan) for the worship of Sri Sri Radha-Krishna, but no kirtan had been composed for Mahaprabhu and Radha-Krishna on one altar. Therefore, Srila Guru Maharaj composed Sri Saraswat Arati specifically for the worship of our Nabadwip Math Deities, Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Gandharva Govindasundar Jiu. It was following their example, and by Srila Guru Maharaj’s inspiration, that I composed Sri Sri Nitai Chaitanyadev Arati for our Deities in Puri.
The area of our Temple is called ‘Gaur Batsahi’, which means the way and area of Mahaprabhu. It is the place where Mahaprabhu would regularly pass through, most probably after visiting the Jagannath Temple, going to see Srila Haridas Thakur, or going to bathe in the sea. The area is near the lotus feet of Chatak Parvat, the Govardhan Hill of Purusottam Dham.
Question: You mentioned that our Puri Math is near to Sri Gadadhar Pandit’s Ashram. In what way can devotees derive benefit from this proximity?
Srila Govinda Maharaj: You can gain benefit from everywhere. It exists within one’s mood of devotion; benefit’s nature is like that. But there is some particular opportunity that when seeing Sri Gadadhar Pandit’s Ashram, you can remember the Pastimes of Mahaprabhu.
Gadadhar Pandit lived a little distance from Mahaprabhu’s Ashram. Mahaprabhu lived about one kilometre away at Kasi Misra Bhavan, now known as ‘Gambhira’. When Mahaprabhu would go to bathe and meet with Srila Haridas Thakur, He would sometimes come via the road past Sri Gadadhar Pandit’s Ashram, and He would meet with him. Also, Sri Gadadhar Pandit sometimes invited Mahaprabhu to take prasadam there. Every day, Sri Gadadhar Pandit would offer bhog to the Deities in his Ashram, and sometimes he would offer that to Mahaprabhu, who would immediately come and accept it. Sri Gadadhar Pandit did not buy anything, but would somehow collect all ingredients. Mahaprabhu especially liked a particular spinach preparation that Sri Gadadhar Pandit made.
In His later Pastimes, almost every day Mahaprabhu would go to the ocean and meet with Sri Gadadhar Pandit, and Sri Gadadhar Pandit would sometimes go to Gambhira and read Srimad Bhagavatam to Mahaprabhu. For the last twelve years, Mahaprabhu lived in Puri in an extreme mood of separation in the Gambhira. When Mahaprabhu was so intoxicated with Krishna-prema in the Gambhira, and constantly in the mood of separation from Krishna, and crying, crying, crying, at that time Gadadhar Pandit would go there and give nourishment through his reading of Srimad Bhagavatam.
Mahaprabhu considered every letter of Srimad Bhagavatam to be a manifestation of Krishna, and when He heard it from Gadadhar Pandit’s lotus mouth, He felt so much peace and felt Himself to be fully nourished. Sri Gadadhar Pandit served Mahaprabhu in this way. Srila Guru Maharaj composed the pranam mantram to Sri Gadadhar Pandit:
nilambhodhi-tate sada svavirahaksepanvitam bandhavam
srimad-bhagavati-katha-madiraya sanjivayan bhati yah
srimad-bhagavatam sada svanayanasru-payanaih pujayan
gosvami-pravaro gadadhara-vibhur bhuyat mad-eka-gatih
“If a friend feels so much separation from his girlfriend or boyfriend, he or she cannot understand what to do and may even act like a madman. At that time, a friend may try to make him peaceful by giving a little wine or something similar. The ecstatic recitations of Srimad Bhagavatam by Sri Gadadhar Pandit are likened to this nourishment, which he gave to Sriman Mahaprabhu in His extreme mood of separation from Sri Krishna. Srimad Bhagavatam is the nondifferent form of Krishna Himself, and it is ecstasy in the form of sound vibration. Sriman Mahaprabhu would sit opposite Gadadhar Pandit, and He would receive nourishment from Sri Gadadhar Pandit’s reading of Srimad Bhagavatam.
“Sri Gadadhar Pandit himself became intoxicated to chant the slokas from Srimad Bhagavatam, and he would cry. With those tears, he worshipped his dearmost friend, Sriman Mahaprabhu. Such is the mood of Gadadhar Pandit, and that Sri Gadadhar Pandit Goswami is the only shelter of my life.”
Mahaprabhu took the whole bhava and kanti of Srimati Radharani, that is, all the mood and colour of Srimati Radharani was taken by Mahaprabhu because He wanted to taste Her ecstasy. Sri Gadadhar Pandit is Radharani minus the mood of Herself, that having been taken by Mahaprabhu. Sri Gadadhar Pandit is the incarnation of Srimati Radharani, but he is subdued. However, this is of another plane, and it is all full.
A short while after Mahaprabhu took sannyas it was decided by the devotees in Santipur and agreed by Sachi Mata that Mahaprabhu would stay in Jagannath Puri. Then Sri Gadadhar Pandit decided, “I shall go there and stay.” Sri Gadadhar Pandit took ksetra-sannyas, which means that he promised to accept to stay in one place.
That place was his Ashram, the Temple of Tota Gopinath. The Odishan poet Govinda Das Kavi was in Puri at the time of Mahaprabhu’s leaving His manifest Pastimes, and he wrote that Mahaprabhu left by entering within the Tota Gopinath Deity. Srila Prabhupad Saraswati Thakur did not accept all his writings, but he did accept this idea of Sriman Mahaprabhu’s disappearance.
Sri Tota Gopinath is also famous for His Pastime that one night He sat down so that Sri Gadadhar Pandit in his old age could still reach up to garland Him. He remains seated to this day.
Question: What guidance would you like to give for the devotees going to the Jagannath Ratha Yatra festival this year?
Srila Govinda Maharaj: The first thing is not to break any rules and regulations of the Jagannath Temple. They will humbly try to see the places of the Pastimes of Mahaprabhu and His associates, such as Srila Haridas Thakur, Sri Ramananda Ray, Sri Svarup Damodar, Sri Raghunath Das Goswami, Sri Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya, Sri Gadadhar Pandit, Sri Jagadananda Prabhu, Sri Paramananda Puri Goswami, Maharaj Prataparudra’s house, Gundicha, Sikhi Mahiti’s house, and many others. They will see these places and try to feel in their heart the mood of union in separation shown by Sriman Mahaprabhu, and they will offer prayers to the associates of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. If they cannot go inside any of the places, then they can see these places from outside.
Question: We have heard it is recommended that a visitor to Vrndavan should stay just three nights so as to minimise his chances of committing offences. Does this recommendation apply to Sri Puri Dham also?
Srila Govinda Maharaj: In fact, this is not actually so. If the devotees will go to Vrndavan and follow the mood of Srila Rupa Goswami, Srila Sanatan Goswami, and Srila Raghunath Das Goswami, they can stay in Vrndavan, but they should not go there for business or for the Loi Bazaar shops.
The Dham is chinmay-bhumi: it is made of transcendental substance. Srila Guru Maharaj was questioned many times by the Western devotees as to how one should see Nabadwip Dham, and he clearly explained that it is chinmay-bhumi. So, we should see the Dham in this way, and not with any mundane view.
The matter is that when we shall go to the Dham, we shall try to live and feel where we are going: the feeling should come that it is the transcendental Dham, and Mahaprabhu’s Pastimes with His devotees are always going on.
My own mood is that I do not go every day to the Temple of Lord Jagannath, but I go before Jagannath in His Temple, and I say to Him in this way: “My dandavat pranams to Your lotus feet. I am present, Sir. I am here.”
I cannot see Jagannath because I cannot see Him through my mind and vision, therefore, I am not trying to approach Him in that way. Instead, I am presenting myself in front of Jagannath with the mood and prayer, “I am here at Your lotus feet. Please see me.”
“Please see me”, means: “My good and my bad—everything is in front of You. You please make me as You like to see me.” That is the mood. Then I do parikrama and then return to our Ashram by the ocean to stay under the lotus feet of Sri Sri Nitai-Chaitanyadev.
It is my advice to everyone not to behave like a businessman with Sri Jagannathdev. Not to approach Him in the way of, “I am paying my dandavat pranams. Give me this, give me that. Make my son good, my wife good ….” No. We shall pray like Prahlad Maharaj:
yadi dasyasi me kaman varams tvam varadarsabha
kamanam hrdy asamroham bhavatas tu vrne varam
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 7.10.7)
“If You want to give something to me, and You are eager to give, then please give me this: that I shall not be again within the illusion of desiring anything. Please don’t permit me to ask You for anything again. Please demolish that type of desire from my heart.” This should be our prayer, and this is ananya-bhakti [exclusive devotion] in santa-rasa.
When devotees will go to see Lord Jagannath during the time of Ratha Yatra, they will see His Deity, no doubt, and they will pray: “Jagannathdev, if You want to give anything, please give devotion.” We will make this our desire, and not anything of mundane form.
In the mundane plane, whatever bad or good will come to us will come according to our karma. We will not involve our Master and Lord with that.
Question: Upstairs in the devotees’ quarters adjoining our Temple is a large new room for Your Divine Grace, and you occupied it for some time. However, last time you were in Puri, you returned to your previous quarters downstairs in Sevak Bhavan. Why was that?
Srila Govinda Maharaj: Downstairs in Sevak Bhavan I feel much peace of mind, I am readily accessible to all, I can see all the comings and goings of the people, and there is a nice garden outside, but upstairs in the Temple accommodation I cannot see who is coming and going, and I cannot meet with the devotees so readily.
If we invite anyone, they may feel a little trouble to climb the stairs. Also, if I stay in Sevak Bhavan, it is helpful to make the devotees there conscious of their conduct in the Dham. There is also plenty of space for devotees and guests to sit and meet with me. For these reasons, I moved back to Sevak Bhavan, so that I can serve my Srila Guru Maharaj in a better way.
A Day at Hapaniya
I offer my obeisances to my respected godbrothers, godsisters, and the villagers of Sri Hapaniya. Today we have very happily come to Sripat Hapaniya Dham. Our destination is Goloka, even if we may not know where Goloka is. However, we must know that the abode of Goloka has personally become manifest in this world as the abode of the Divine Master, the residence of the devotees, and the Temple where the Deities are worshipped. Today, whether we can perceive it or not, we have arrived in this holy place which is nondifferent from Goloka Dham.
Many years ago, we brought our Divine Master back here to Hapaniya, the place of his advent. We had a purpose, as also did the residents of this village, and all wanted to have Guru Maharaj’s company once again, since so many long years had passed since Guru Maharaj left his family to accept the renounced order of life, sannyas, and went out to preach throughout the whole of India, after which Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur departed from this mortal world, and Guru Maharaj remained in Vrndavan, Gokula, and Sri Nabadwip Dham. His family members, especially his brothers Sriyukta Mani Babu and Sriyukta Amar Babu, tried their level best to bring Guru Maharaj back to his ‘home town’ Hapaniya, but he had no desire to come here and never agreed to their proposal.
Afterwards, on the request of Guru Maharaj’s godbrothers, Param Pujyapad Srila Jajavar Maharaj, Paramahamsa Maharaj, Madhusudan Maharaj, and others—all the Vaisnavas who had much regard and affection for him—Guru Maharaj finally agreed to come here for a day or two.
My underlying intention through all this was to locate the exact spot where Guru Maharaj took his birth. I thought that could be indicated only by him personally. No one else could do that because all were younger than him. He was the eldest remaining of all his family members of the village, and furthermore, his memory was the sharpest of all. Therefore, I considered that only he could accurately point out the place of his birth.
When Jajavar Maharaj and other godbrothers of Guru Maharaj, and myself, petitioned Guru Maharaj to come back here once, Krishnadas Babaji Maharaj also supported our proposal with great enthusiasm. He personally became most eager that Guru Maharaj should come. Our most revered Sriyukta Mani Babu and Sriyukta Amar Babu were most enthusiastic. Also Sriyukta Satyen Babu, Sriyukta Bon Babu, and many other distinguished brahmans and pious souls of the village and their families—all showed great eagerness. Young and old—everyone, even one elderly Muslim gentleman who lived nearby also expressed his heartfelt wish that Guru Maharaj might be brought back here once again. In this way, everyone propitiated Guru Maharaj, and at last he agreed.
When Guru Maharaj reached here, I requested him to indicate the place of his birth. Guru Maharaj happily agreed to do so, and the very spot directly before us where Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Radha Gopinath Jiu now graciously preside, was indicated by him to be the exact place of his birth.
On that day we collected 6,000 rupees for making a small place of worship here, to mark the spot. All the venerable godbrothers of Srila Guru Maharaj who were present also graciously gave me contributions. Then at the request of Krishnadas Babaji Maharaj, Jajavar Maharaj, and others, Mani Babu registered a deed and gave it to me for this place. Although it was a very small beginning, I was encouraged very much by the blessings and association of Guru Maharaj’s brothers and my godbrothers. Sriyukta Amar Babu took full charge of the project, and in a very humble way we tried to make a small Temple only for the worship of Guru Maharaj’s photograph. Originally, there was no Temple for the Deity or any Nat Mandir. Gradually, the devotees became more and more enthused to give contributions, and so after about eight years I thought that with our Guru Maharaj’s permission it would now be possible to build a Temple here and install Deities.
Guru Maharaj was also very happy to hear that I wanted to install Deities here. He said, “I am sure you will have no problem to engage a good priest, invite the Vaisnavas, and hold a grand festival for the installation of the Deities. But after that, how will you feed your Deities? It is not a matter of one or two years—it is an eternal service. So, first you will have to try to manage for a permanent arrangement for the worship of the Deities.”
By the blessings of Guru Maharaj and through the affection of my godbrothers, sufficient facility came to enable me to arrange regular offerings and worship for the Deities. So, taking Guru Maharaj’s instruction, with the guidance of his honourable godbrothers we installed the Deities of Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Radha Gopinath Jiu. Since then, we have held four grand festivals every year, and we continue the daily worship of the Deities according to the scriptural regulations.
Guru Maharaj named the Deities ‘Radha Gopinath Jiu’. This name causes us to always remember Madhavendra Puripad. Madhavendra Puri received profuse blessings and sweet rice prasadam from Gopinath Jiu of Remuna. So, Guru Maharaj said that since the Deity had manifest Himself here as Gopinath Jiu, we must arrange very nice paramanna or sweet rice to offer to Him every day.
Gradually, the Temple and Nat Mandir has manifested by the blessings of Guru Maharaj and the affection of the devotees. Along with his family, Guru Maharaj›s brother, Sripad Amar Babu, constantly serves this Math. Guru Maharaj named this Math ‘Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Ashram’, and up to the present it is running very happily and perfectly under the guidance of Amar Babu. As at Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, all the spiritual functions are carried out every day, and devotees and villagers from far and wide come to see Gopinath Jiu. Hundreds of villagers come for the festivals like Radhastami and Krishna Janmastami. On Janmastami, they come for the worship of Gopinath Jiu, and they observe fasting the whole day. The next day, for the great festival known as Nandotsav, five to six thousand people attend this Math and happily take prasadam. They all cooperate with us very nicely. In this way, the service of Gopinath Jiu has become very glorious. We are also very happy because Guru Maharaj’s orders to make these service programmes have become fulfilled. Today, you have also seen the new land we have acquired, and the pond which we have named ‘Santi Sarovar’.
There, we are now cultivating our own crops. Devotees of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math now visit here regularly, especially for the festivals of Gaura Purnima, Guru Puja, and Janmastami, and they are very happy to see the service of Gopinath Jiu and take His prasadam, and they feel transcendental ecstasy. Thus, our service is always progressing with the kind assistance of the devotees.
Today, so many of you have again attended, and this year my programme is a little different. Guru Maharaj’s form is transcendental, never mundane, and on the holy day of his advent we worship him in the same way as Lord Krishna or Mahaprabhu. Therefore, I thought that after his Appearance Day Festival, which we observed yesterday in Nabadwip, we should hold a festival here today for Guru Maharaj in the same way as Nandotsav, the festival held by Nanda Maharaj the day after Krishna’s birth. Everything here is transcendental, and if we can have the vision to see this, we must be spiritually benefitted. In this way, we are trying to fulfil the desire of the exalted Vaisnavas.
The name of this village is ‘Hapaniya’, which means ‘sweet water’. A place that produces sweet water is called ‘Hapaniya’. Paniya means ‘that which is drinkable’. Today, we have drunk the water from the green coconuts here and experienced their sweetness. Because of these coconuts full of sweet water, this place has been called ‘Hapaniya’.
Another feeling also comes to me when I am in Hapaniya, as a child of this village. Perhaps in the past I was a resident of this village. I do not know why, but whenever I come here, I feel myself to be a part of this village. Perhaps it is because of the affection of Guru Maharaj’s family members. I first came here when I was seventeen years old. At that time, Mani Babu, Amar Babu, and their families were very affectionate to me and bestowed their blessings upon me, and Guru Maharaj’s sister, who now lives at Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math in Nabadwip—she accepted me as her son. With so many such things combined, I feel myself to be a boy of this village. Now I have been coming and going to and from this village for about forty-two years.
Guru Maharaj himself was so very affectionate to me; he did not like me to be away from him for even a few hours. Sometimes when I would go to Kolkata, Guru Maharaj would send a godbrother by a shortcut on the cycle to the bridge to intercept me and call me back. “Call Govinda Maharaj back, I am not feeling well.” This happened many times. Sometimes, even if there was very important work in Kolkata, he would send someone by cycle with the order, “Bring him back immediately.” But whenever I had to come here to Hapaniya, Guru Maharaj would always very happily grant me permission. Even if he was not in very good health, his mood would change, and he would become very pleased. He always encouraged me to come to Hapaniya. But so many times when I had to go to Kolkata, he would call me back. Therefore, I am very attached to Hapaniya Dham.
After the manifestation of the Deity, when I was about to go to Hapaniya, sometimes Guru Maharaj would ask, “Where are you going?” And I would reply, “I am going to my Math.” Guru Maharaj would enjoy, and laughing he would say, “Oh, Hapaniya is your Math? All right. You may go.” Guru Maharaj’s mood was very happy if I served the Deity of Radha Gopinath Jiu. This is why I have become more and more enthusiastic to serve the Deity. Also, many of my godbrothers, especially I can mention Sripad Yudhamanyu Seva Vikram Prabhu and Sripad Aravinda Lochan Seva Sundar Prabhu, are assisting me very much for the Hapaniya seva. Many other godbrothers are also helping. Whenever the devotees hear that their contribution is utilised for Hapaniya, their hearts feel peaceful and happy.
We enjoy here very feely. When I am in Kolkata, I have heavy responsibilities, and in Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math also I am not worry-free. But in Hapaniya, I feel much peace at heart. I come here weekly or fortnightly. Although I don’t stay very long, I appreciate being here. So now you have come to this very place, Hapaniya, where Guru Maharaj manifested himself to the world, where all the trees, all the animals, all the men and women—everything is transcendental. Even all the vegetables are transcendental. But it is necessary to eat with a transcendental body. Otherwise, how can we digest?
That day we came here with Guru Maharaj, a humble meeting was held here in this very place. As shelter, only a tarpaulin was erected above our heads. We sat on the ground, and Guru Maharaj sat on a chair. He discussed various slokas. At that time, it was my greatest fortune to hear a special sloka from my Guru Maharaj for the first time. Guru Maharaj wanted to inject our hearts with the feeling that we had come to the Holy Abode.
yat kinchit trna-gulma-kikata-mukham gosthe samastam hi tat
sarvananda-mayam mukunda-dayitam lilanukulam param
He told us, “Everything here is transcendental and very auspicious. If you can see in this way, you will be benefitted. You will retrieve your transcendental life, and also, you will attain the service of Srimati Radharani.” In this way, Guru Maharaj gave his blessings to us here on that day, and we always remember that. I have tried to speak a little of the glories of Guru Maharaj, for his satisfaction, and I know that if I can see the meaning of his sloka, my prayer must reach its destination very easily.
Now the offering is being made to the Deities. After the bhog arati, we shall happily take the prasadam of Radha Gopinath Jiu, Giridhari Jiu, and our Guru Maharaj. This is my desire and prayer. My obeisances to you all—the villagers, the sannyasis, brahmacharis, and everyone.
Jay Om Visnupad Paramahamsa Parivrajakacharya-varya Astottara-sata-sri Srimad Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj ki jay!
Tadiya avirbhav-bhumi Sripat Hapaniya ki jay!
Jay Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Radha Gopinath Jiu ki jay!
Tadiya bhog arati ki jay!
Jay Sripad Ananga Mohan Prabhu ki jay!
Jay Gauri Mata Devi ki jay!
Jay Sri Upendrachandra Vidyaratna ki jay!
Jay samaveta Vaisnava-mandal ki jay!
Samaveta Bhakta-vrnda ki jay!
Hari-nam-sankirtan ki jay!
Question: Who first started the Sri Gaudiya Darsan magazine and why?
Srila Govinda Maharaj: In the time of Prabhupad Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur, Srila Guru Maharaj preached all over India. He was a very successful preacher, and everyone respected him. By the wish of Krishna, when Srila Guru Maharaj came out from the Gaudiya Math, many of the senior devotees also came out at that time, and they started to preach. Srila Guru Maharaj did not join with them, but he helped them. In particular, he helped his godbrothers, such as Sripad Jajavar Maharaj, Sripad Goswami Maharaj, and Sripad Kesav Maharaj, but finally it was his wish to stay alone in this Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math. There is no doubt that his wish was always for preaching. He was always preaching Sriman Mahaprabhu’s glories and Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur’s glories, and everyone would come to hear from him and receive inspiration. They felt that it was Srila Prabhupad himself explaining to them about Krishna consciousness.
When Srila Guru Maharaj started his preaching in Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, he lived in a hut. It was then his intention that he would preach to those who came to him, but he would no longer go out from the Math to preach. At that time, Srila Guru Maharaj showed us that his health was not so suitable for preaching. But his wish to preach was very strong. Srila Guru Maharaj received some inspiration that it was the desire of Prabhupad Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur and Sriman Mahaprabhu that this sampradaya would run through him. Many of the disciples of Srila Saraswati Thakur continued their preaching, but mostly it was the earnest desire of Srila Saraswati Thakur that the preceptorial line will run through our Srila Guru Maharaj. Srila Guru Maharaj also was looking for someone to continue that line.
When Srila Guru Maharaj gave me the chance to stay at his lotus feet, he received some inspiration: “Perhaps this boy can continue the preceptorial line.” He therefore gave some nourishment to me. I was not so qualified. Actually, I was unqualified, but he tried to make me qualified.
I joined in 1947, and presently I noticed that regular periodicals were being published from maybe three or four other Maths. After seven years, through affection and causeless mercy, I had some capacity to publish a magazine, and I also felt very much necessity for our own magazine. I felt that a monthly magazine for our preaching purpose would be very nice, so I approached Srila Guru Maharaj with this proposal.
Srila Guru Maharaj was very enthusiastic, and I requested that he give an article each month. Also, I approached Sripad Madhusudan Maharaj, Sripad Jajavar Maharaj, and others who were capable to contribute articles. At least in every issue, one article must be Srila Guru Maharaj’s article, and one I can collect from Srila Saraswati Thakur’s writings. And if Sripad Madhusudan Maharaj will give one article, then I will get at least three strong articles each month, and in this way the dignity of the paper must be higher than others’ magazines.
Srila Guru Maharaj was very enthusiastic and said, “This idea is very good. If you can continue, then try to do this.” I then began.
It is the teaching of Srila Guru Maharaj that we shall proceed under the guidance of Sri Guru-Vaisnava, and it is my nature that I always keep the Vaisnavas upon my head. In that way, I considered Sripad Madhusudan Maharaj to be highly qualified, and if he would take the editor’s position, our magazine would receive universal appreciation. That is, we are living in Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, and this magazine is for Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, but our editor is from another Math. Thus, everyone can see that our vision is that we are giving position to those who are really qualified. They will see that we have a broad view. Not only that, but we decided that we shall glorify other Vaisnavas’ characters, and give news of other Vaisnavas’ preaching also. We did that, and furthermore, we published their activities with pictures. We tried to glorify the Mission and character of all the godbrothers who were very affectionately connected with Srila Guru Maharaj. In that way, our Sri Gaudiya Darsan had a broad ‘international’ vision.
Srila Guru Maharaj agreed and said to me, “If Sripad Madhusudan Maharaj will accept the position of editor, it will be very good, but you must put your name there as joint editor.” Therefore, Sripad Madhusudan Maharaj and myself were joint editors, Srila Guru Maharaj was the Founder-Acharya, and Sripad Jajavar Maharaj and Sripad Paramahamsa Maharaj were advisers of Sri Gaudiya Darsan. Srila Guru Maharaj as far as possible gave an article each month. Sripad Madhusudan Maharaj, Sripad Paramahamsa Maharaj, and others also gave.
Sri Gaudiya Darsan began as a monthly magazine. For the first few years, the magazine was very strong and ran well, but lastly all the burden for the running of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math came upon my head. I was practically alone, and my time was very short, therefore the magazine became a little weaker later. Also, Srila Guru Maharaj showed his health to be less strong, and it was very difficult for him to give articles regularly. But we tried to continue.
We always held a very neutral position. In the Sri Gaudiya Darsan, glorification to others connected throughout the whole sampradaya was given where it was warranted, also guidelines were given when required. Everyone knew Srila Guru Maharaj was their guide, and they accepted his advice. In this way, Sri Gaudiya Darsan gained a high reputation.
All the articles were either in Bengali or Sanskrit. Srila Guru Maharaj sometimes composed in Sanskrit, and especially at the beginning of each new year Srila Guru Maharaj would generally compose some Sanskrit slokas. Also, I must name one good compositor, Khapanaka Prabhu, who helped untiringly for hand-setting the type of the magazine. He was a disciple of Sripad Kesav Maharaj, but with Sripad Kesav Maharaj’s permission he was living with us. Then, like now, many devotees from other Maths would come and stay with us from time to time. They were disciples of other maharajas, but they would come in order to serve Srila Guru Maharaj.
At first, we printed the magazine from an outside commercial press, but after some time I felt the necessity to print from our own press. We then acquired a press and began publishing from it. It was larger than the machine we have here today. Khapanaka Prabhu finally took charge of our printing press. He greatly helped with Sri Gaudiya Darsan, but gradually I became exhausted, and actually it was not possible to continue. After fourteen years of monthly printing, we then printed it quarterly, and Khapanaka Prabhu helped then also. We did not stop printing altogether. We printed it as a quarterly publication for a further three years, then finally we printed each year one or two special issues as souvenir editions such as for Srila Guru Maharaj’s Vyasa Puja and for Sri Gaura Purnima.
Actually, the cause of our finally stopping the regular publications was for a very unhappy reason. Srila Guru Maharaj from time to time gave an article. One such article was entitled Sri Ratha Yatraya Sri Rupanuganuchintana. This explained what the followers of Srila Rupa Goswami will think about the Ratha Yatra.
At that time, the Mayapur Sri Chaitanya Math started a Ratha Yatra, but that was very painful for Srila Guru Maharaj because it was offensive to the Rupanuga-chintadhara. This is very high siddhanta. Mahaprabhu explained that the meaning of Ratha Yatra is that Srimati Radharani takes Krishna from Kuruksetra to Vrndavan. But Mayapur is the birthplace of Mahaprabhu who is nondifferent from Krishna. So from Mayapur, where are they taking Mahaprabhu? They cannot take Krishna out of Vrndavan, nor can they take Mahaprabhu out of Mayapur. This is the thinking of the Rupanuga followers, and this was explained in that article by Srila Guru Maharaj. However, I did not give Srila Guru Maharaj’s name as the author because we knew that some other parties may try to contradict this thinking, and if a conflict will come, I shall face that, but I shall not push Srila Guru Maharaj to the front of any conflict. If I put Srila Guru Maharaj’s name and anyone will give any objection, that will be offensive for them, therefore I put the name of one of my godbrothers. We wanted to show everyone what is the proper siddhanta, but in the battlefield we shall not push our Guru to the forefront. I shall go to the battlefield if necessary, but not that I will make my Guru go there.
Then from a completely different Math some very ugly criticism and objection came to us through their magazine. In the next issue of our own magazine, we replied to their objections. I was given help with the answer by Sripad Damodar Maharaj, a godbrother of Srila Guru Maharaj. I did not directly appear in the battlefield, but I gave the front position in the name of Sripad Damodar Maharaj, and he also contributed to the reply. He was certainly a good writer, and on the grounds of the principle involved, we tried to fight. But in a very ugly way objection again came from that other section, and it was published in their magazine. They insulted Srila Guru Maharaj directly.
Always we had very respectfully given comment in our articles, but they responded with an arrogant personal attack to Srila Guru Maharaj, so I went and told them not to criticise in this ugly way.
I explained to that party that the article wasn’t even directed at them, but especially at the Mayapur Math, so why should they come forward and directly try to criticise Srila Guru Maharaj? Anyhow, they did not listen.
They said bad things about my Guru, so they expected I would say bad things about their’s, but I could never do that. I tried to show that if anyone wants to criticise, they can, but in an honourable, respectful way, without losing humility. Especially in this case, the article is Srila Guru Maharaj’s article, so it must be treated in a respectable way.
I told them this many times, but even after hearing from me that this article was from Srila Guru Maharaj, they again and again continued to criticise Srila Guru Maharaj in writing in their magazine. I could not give such type of insult to them in our magazine. I know many faults of their Math, but we cannot tell such things and make our Sri Gaudiya Darsan into a dustbin.
Srila Guru Maharaj asked me what I would do, and I replied to him that I will stop the printing of the magazine rather than walk into that dirty realm of insults. Furthermore, I was exhausted. I wrote most of the articles but put the author’s name as Hari Charan Prabhu, Krishna Saran Prabhu, Krishnamayi Didi, Sankari D.D., and others. Sometimes they would write an article but mostly I wrote the articles in theirs and others’ names, and I became exhausted.
I was therefore already tired when this ugly criticism came. So, when Srila Guru Maharaj asked me what I would do, I told him I would stop the publication. Srila Guru Maharaj asked them to stop sending their publication to our Math, and until today it is not coming here. Later, I heard that the sannyasi involved came and apologised to Srila Guru Maharaj, but Srila Guru Maharaj expressed to him, “I will not take offence myself because it is not for me, but for our sampradaya. It is an offence to Srila Rupa Goswami because it is his dhara that we are continuing, and Mahaprabhu instructed Srila Rupa Goswami not to take Krishna out from Vrndavan:
krsnere bahira nahi kariha vraja haite
vraja chhadi’ krsna kabhu na yana kahate
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Antya-lila, 1.66)
“So, in Mayapur, where are they trying to take their Ratha Yatra? My question is, where are they trying to take the Lord? We have no objection to them doing Mahaprabhu’s Ratha Yatra on another day. On a horsedrawn carriage Mahaprabhu can travel anywhere, but the mood of Ratha Yatra is of taking Krishna from Kuruksetra to Vrndavan.”
Srila Guru Maharaj said to them that they criticised in writing in their magazine, therefore their apology must come in the same way: in writing in their magazine.
Question: So, in recent years Sri Gaudiya Darsan has been continuing as an occasional publication, but now you wish to have it restarted as a regular periodical. Please tell us why you want it restarted, and what articles you wish to be included?
Srila Govinda Maharaj: Actually, we never completely stopped printing Sri Gaudiya Darsan. It was printed occasionally, and we have much regard for this title Sri Gaudiya Darsan as the paper of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math. It is like our flag, therefore we cannot stop publishing it. It is alive. You will see that always we have tried to focus on some new light of Srila Guru Maharaj’s conception. In the previous issues, as much as possible, we have done in this way.
Within the last twelve years, many books have been published for our Math in English, Bengali, and many other languages, and there also the devotees can see Srila Guru Maharaj’s conception. There is much to read in these books. Now in particular, my wish for this Sri Gaudiya Darsan is to present topical subjects and news of all the devotees’ activities here and abroad. For a long time, our preaching has been international.
After Srila Swami Maharaj returned from his successful preaching in the West, Srila Guru Maharaj became very happy and enthusiastic, and he gave much respect to Srila Swami Maharaj. In Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math every day, Srila Guru Maharaj preached, but he did not go out from the Math except perhaps three or four times yearly. He would go out on special occasions, such as to Sripad Madhav Maharaj’s Math in Kolkata where yearly they would hold one or two large week-long meetings. Sripad Madhav Maharaj would eagerly await Srila Guru Maharaj’s presence at such meetings. Srila Guru Maharaj would go there every year. In addition, Srila Guru Maharaj would go to the appearance day meeting of Sripad Goswami Maharaj at Sri Gaudiya Sangha, 23 Doctor’s Lane, Kolkata.
Mainly, it was only to Sripad Madhav Maharaj’s Math and Sripad Goswami Maharaj’s Math that Srila Guru Maharaj would go to for preaching, but always he preached from his room upstairs in Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math. Srila Guru Maharaj was a very enthusiastic preacher, and many devotees had the opportunity to see how enthusiastic he was. Up until 1987, Srila Guru Maharaj continuously preached here, and his preaching continued, though not as fully as before, until a few months before his disappearance in August 1988.
Actually, during the whole day, Srila Guru Maharaj would preach, but seated at one time he would often preach for two or three hours. The preaching tendency of Srila Guru Maharaj was of a very unique type. In March 1986, during his lifetime, Srila Guru Maharaj gave me the full charge of this Math as Acharya, and we continued to produce publications. From abroad, we also received publications for our Math such as those from Sripad Bhakti Sudhir Goswami Maharaj and others.
We continued to publish Sri Gaudiya Darsan at least yearly, and after Srila Guru Maharaj’s disappearance regular periodicals began from several of our Mission’s branches, including London, South Africa, Australia, and America. I was very enthusiastic to see the arrival of all these English magazines.
We are disciples of Srila Guru Maharaj, and therefore we are very much enthusiastic to publish books and magazines in order to preach his message and glories. You can see that our preaching tendency is continuously proceeding, so when from the Western world five or six periodicals became manifest, naturally our feelings came that why is this not also possible from Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math? The only cause was a lack of manpower. But if we can publish, then the Mission all over the world will receive some guidelines. Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math is the parent Math of all the Maths in our society, and for their guideline, it is very good if again we can publish regularly Sri Gaudiya Darsan. This is what is in the heart of us all here. We are all enthusiastic to again publish Sri Gaudiya Darsan because it will be in honour of Srila Guru Maharaj, so automatically remembrance of Srila Guru Maharaj will come.
In particular, it is my intention that Sri Gaudiya Darsan will be a vehicle to keep devotees around the world connected together. They will get to know what each other are doing and especially they will hear from this central Math, the central source of guidance of Srila Guru Maharaj for us all. This is one form of association for the devotees through which everyone everywhere may feel some energy and enthusiasm in their spiritual service-journey to their transcendental destination.
It is very good if we can make this magazine, but I am getting older day by day, therefore a new generation must take charge. If it is possible to make this periodical, it must give pleasure to the heart of Srila Guru Maharaj, and I must be very happy.
If this Sri Gaudiya Darsan will come out in the Bengali language, it will especially give nourishment to the Bengali section of devotees, and this is my eager desire. In English it is very good, and it will be more widespread if we can publish it in Bengali also, so our local devotees will gain more nourishment. At first Sri Gaudiya Darsan was in the Bengali language, and at that time I did not know English.
Question: Do you have any message for the devotees?
Srila Govinda Maharaj: Always we are messengers of Srila Guru Maharaj and Mahaprabhu. Our message is one always: practise Krishna consciousness without offence to Guru and Vaisnava.
smartavyah satatam visnur vismartavyo na jatuchit
sarve vidhi-nisedhah syur etayor eva kinkarah
This is from Padma-purana, and it gives one ruling and one prohibition: always remember the Lord, and never forget Him. All rules and regulations are under this guideline.
If I see anyone doing even a little seva, my feelings towards him come as though I am a slave of him. That is my feeling. But in my life I have also seen many wrong things, therefore I am also a little cautious. I have been cheated in many ways, but my nature is still that if anyone will do even a little seva, I give my full support to him. In that way, I am always trying to continue my seva.
Where there is no life, there is no seva; that is ‘dead seva’. It is karma. It is not for our fame that we are trying to publish Sri Gaudiya Darsan. Our intention is that this Sri Gaudiya Darsan will give happiness to our Sri Guru-varga as well as nourishment to the newcomers and other Vaisnavas. When a mission is big, a periodical newsletter is necessary from the headquarters of the mission, but I cannot do everything alone, and also I am getting old. I cannot promise, but anyhow I shall try to give one article for each edition.
Preaching is our life, and through preaching we can practise Krishna consciousness very happily. Mahaprabhu gave congregational chanting as the best policy. Now you try hard, and if you can continue, it will be very pleasing to our Guru-varga, I have no doubt. We want to do something good for our friends and the newcomers. Whoever will get some faith through this magazine, he must be benefitted, and we must receive the blessings of our Guru-varga that we are doing something good for others. Mahaprabhu said:
bharata-bhumite haila manusya-janma yara
janma sarthaka kari’ kara para-upakara
[“One who has taken his birth in India as a human should make one’s life successful and work for the benefit of others.”]
So, this is really a good attempt to do good for others through this magazine. Sri Gaudiya Darsan is blessed by Srila Guru Maharaj and blessed by all other exalted devotees like Srila Swami Maharaj. You have seen his letter expressing how much he was very pleased with me to see Sri Gaudiya Darsan. Also Sripad Sakhi Charan Ray Bhakti Vijay Prabhu, one of the best devotees of Srila Saraswati Thakur, was very pleased and sent a letter expressing this. Letters came from every corner, but it was perhaps my fault that I did not publish them all in Sri Gaudiya Darsan. In one way, it was necessary to publish all the letters that were giving praise to the magazine, but if I felt there was any praise to myself, I did not publish such material, but where there was praise to Srila Guru Maharaj, I published that. From so many quarters, many praised me: “Oh, now Govinda Maharaj is doing this: Govinda Maharaj has started Sri Gaudiya Darsan.” But it was impossible by me to publish that.
With what we have, we shall continue happily, and with this Sri Gaudiya Darsan it is my hope that really we can succeed in giving happiness to Srila Guru Maharaj and our Sri Guru-varga as well as nourishment to the newcomers and other Vaisnavas. By the cooperation of all the devotees, I think it must be possible.
Address to the Assembled Devotees
On the occasion of his first world tour
London Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math
20 July 1992
When we write a letter we always begin, “All glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga”. Actually, this is the fact: all glory and all fame are to be given to Sri Gurudev and Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu. They are the real proprietors of that. Srila Prabhupad Saraswati Thakur has written:
vaisnavi pratistha tate kara nistha
Actually I am the servitor of the servitor of the servitor of the Vaisnavas. That is my real identity. Mahaprabhu has said:
naham vipro na cha nara-patir napi vaisyo na sudro
naham varni na cha grha-patir no vana-stho yatir va
gopi-bhartuh pada-kamalayor dasa-dasanudasah
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 13.80)
Our real identification is this. We are not American, Indian, British, or German. Although we have this human body, it is not really ours. We have this body for the time being, but within this body is our real form, and that form is Krishna das—a servant of Krishna.
The scriptures confirm that direct service to Sri Krishna is only possible for His dearmost, intimate devotees. The Rupanuga sampradaya has shown that the supreme servitor and the supreme potency of Sri Krishna is Srimati Radharani, and She is our topmost guide and guardian. If we adopt this line of thought, then our identity is very nice. Mahaprabhu has shown that we are the servitors of the servitors of the servitors of the servitors of Sri Krishna. Krishna has many forms: Krishna in Dvaraka, Krishna in Mathura, Krishna in Vrndavan, and so on, and we are servitors specifically of that Vrndavan Krishna who gives protection and nourishment, who gives service to the gopis, who is the maintainer of the gopis and of Govardhan Hill. We are the servants of the servants of the servants of the servants of that Krishna, and that is our true identity.
So, all honour is to go to the higher servitor. When we honour someone, if that person is a Vaisnava, then he will immediately send that to his Guru. Srila Guru Maharaj would often say this Bengali phrase:
guru-gana-sire punah sobha paya sata-guna
Whatever respect comes to you, if you do not try to digest that, but immediately if you send that to your Guru, then you will be benefitted, and not only you, but the person who is honouring you, they will also be benefitted. This principle is true in all circumstances. If I collect some money and use that money for the service of Sri Gurudev, then no illusion and no burden will come to me. It won’t bring any reaction from this plane, and this is the line of thought that the scriptures reveal to us.
Today’s function has given me this inspiration: you are all the vaibhava of Srila Guru Maharaj [Srila Sridhar Maharaj], and all your honour is going to him. I can say that Srila Guru Maharaj has given me the charge of his Mission for the maintenance of his devotees’ spiritual lives, but really I am only a carrier. Guru Maharaj told me, “You look after the devotees and my Deities, and you look after my Mission.” This is my tridanda sannyas: I will serve his devotees, I will serve his Deities, and I will serve his Mission. And you all are my wealth, of this I have no doubt. I am receiving much energy from the devotees and like a solar battery, whatever light I have, I am using that for the service of Srila Guru Maharaj. In this way, I am benefitted, and you are also benefitted.
It was the desire of Srila Guru Maharaj that if he can do anything, then first he will do something in London for the satisfaction of his Guru Maharaj. When Srila Prabhupad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur saw that his other preachers had actually failed to preach successfully in the West, he was very sad, and he requested Srila Guru Maharaj, “If I send you to London for preaching, will you go there?”
Srila Guru Maharaj replied, “Yes, if it is your order, then I must carry that out, but I think that perhaps I am not the fittest person for that service. I do not understand the manner of the English people, and I do not know what is the proper courtesy there. I am a brahman boy, and I do not know how to mix with them. If you wish, I will go, but I think it would be better for your preaching to send Aprakrta Prabhu [Sripad Bhakti Saranga Goswami Maharaj].”
Srila Prabhupad thought, “Yes, what Sridhar Maharaj says is true. He is not accustomed to take prasadam with the mlechchhas, but Aprakrta Prabhu can do that without any difficulty, and it will be necessary to show them that we do not consider them to be less than us.”
One of the senior godbrothers at that time asked Guru Maharaj, “Do you know why Srila Prabhupad wants you to go to London?”
Srila Guru Maharaj replied, “Yes, I can guess his reason: so far anyone he has sent to the West, they have returned as a sahib [Western gentleman], but Srila Prabhupad is thinking that will not happen in my case.” And that devotee confirmed, “Yes, certainly you will uphold the dress of sannyas and our Mission there, and this is what Prabhupad needs. You will not be converted.”
Guru Maharaj said, “If Prabhupad wants to send me, then I must go. Whether to svarga or naraka, heaven or hell, wherever it may be, I will go there. I have no problem. But what will be more fruitful for his Mission, that is most important, and for this service Aprakrta Prabhu is more qualified than I.” Aprakrta Prabhu was sent.
These were the outward events, but actually it was not fully the desire of Srila Prabhupad that Guru Maharaj would leave India at that time. Guru Maharaj’s intelligence was very fine, and he could understand that Srila Prabhupad would soon pass away from this world. Guru Maharaj knew that if he were present at that time, then that would be more happy for Srila Prabhupad. And so it was that at the time of his passing, Srila Prabhupad called Guru Maharaj and gave charge of his sampradaya. At that time, his sampradaya was very wide, with sixty-four Maths in India, and his preaching already expanding into the West. His vision, like that of Srila Swami Maharaj, was very broad.
Once, Srila Prabhupad wanted to make a student hostel in London. His idea was that both Indian and Western students would stay there while they were engaged in their studies, and we would try to bring them into the line of Krishna consciousness. He said that if necessary then we will supply them with food from the hotel, and that means meat and other things. Hearing this, Guru Maharaj objected, “If we supply this kind of food to the students, then the prestige of the Mission will be lost.” Prabhupad replied angrily, “I contemplated this question a thousand births ago. Vaikuntha-vrtti karite habe: we must live in Vaikuntha, not in this material world.”
Vaikuntha means vigata kuntha yasmad—where there are no restrictions, where nothing bad can exist, where everything is auspicious; we must direct our consciousness in that direction. We want to do good for others, and whatever is necessary we shall use that. Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj Prabhupad also had this mood. Swami Maharaj told me that when he first came to America, having no money, he stayed with a gentleman who had become his friend. This gentleman didn’t prepare his own food, but he would buy it from the local shop. Prabhupad, on the other hand, would prepare chapati and sabji for himself, and would happily take that. His friend asked him to also make some for him, and in exchange he offered to purchase the ingredients, and so Prabhupad would cook for him with his own hand.
Srila Swami Maharaj would keep his food in one area of his friend’s fridge, and his friend would keep his food—meat and other things—in another part of that same fridge. When I heard this, I thought it must have been intolerable, and I asked him, “You would still eat your food?” and he replied “What shall I do? I had no other way. I simply considered that Krishna is giving me this food, and in this way I am eating.” This was the type of broad mind of Prabhupad A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj, and through that he received much blessing and mercy from Nityananda Prabhu, from Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and from Prabhupad Saraswati Thakur, otherwise how is it possible that one man from India could spread the chanting of the Hare Krishna mahamantra all over the world! And when he returned to India nobody could believe what he had done, and sadly nobody wanted to give reception to him.
So, Swami Maharaj wrote to me, “Govinda Maharaj, I know you have no money, but can you give some shelter at your Math?” and I asked Guru Maharaj, and he said “What? Nobody is enthusiastic to receive him! You write to him and say that he is always welcome here, and we shall try to give as good a reception as we are able.”
I met them at the train station and with some sankirtan I took them to our Math. Srila Swami Maharaj stayed in the ‘Blue House’ for one month with two devotees, Achyutananda and Ramanuja Prabhus, and every day they met with Guru Maharaj. It was my good fortune that I was able to arrange a ‘citizens reception’. On the order of Srila Guru Maharaj, all the prominent citizens of Nabadwip gave reception to Srila Swami Maharaj. At first, they also did not want to attend the meeting, thinking, “Oh he has gone to mlechchha-des, the countries of the mlechchhas [barbarous cow-killers], so we shall not give any reception.”
Then, Guru Maharaj told me, “You go and tell them, ‘Sridhar Maharaj will go to that meeting, and Sridhar Maharaj, he is giving that reception.’ Then what will they say? I want to know.”
Then, when I went to Nabadwip Sanskrit College, which was full of many big pandits, and told them, they said, “Oh, if Sridhar Maharaj is going there, then we will definitely also attend.” Actually, Guru Maharaj could not attend as he was very sick at that time, but many great brahman scholars attended that meeting along with many renowned goswamis.
So, broad vision is needed, and through that one can preach very easily, but what was done by Srila Swami Maharaj, that is a miracle. Srila Guru Maharaj said, “It is a miracle, and we are glad, we are happy, and we are proud.” And hearing this some of Guru Maharaj’s godbrothers were perplexed, “How is Sridhar Maharaj giving this kind of honour?” and Guru Maharaj told them, “It is respect to our Guru Maharaj. He wanted this, and Swami Maharaj, he fulfilled his desire. Then whatever honour we offer to Swami Maharaj that will immediately go to our Guru Maharaj, and Prabhupad will be happy.” And today when I see your chanting and dancing, I am thinking if Srila Prabhupad Saraswati Thakur was present here, of course he is present in another form, but if physically he were present here, then his full blessings he would give to you all, I have no doubt.
At the turn of the last century, Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur predicted that very soon the intelligent men and women from all parts of the world will come to Nabadwip to enquire where is the birthplace of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and they will chant His glories and take the Name of Sri Sachi Nandan, they will cry with His Name and dance, mixing with the devotees of India. And today this has come true by the mercy of Srila Swami Maharaj.
When he came here, he had no friends. A few people helped him sometimes, and he was trying to spread Krishna consciousness. He was successful, and not only that, he blasted the Western materialistic culture and made many friends, and through that I have come here. When I came, I have thousands of friends, but when he came he was alone—one man.
But within was Sri Nityananda Prabhu, the blessings of his Guru Maharaj, and the well-wishes of Srila Guru Maharaj and a few other disciples of Srila Prabhupad Saraswati Thakur. Now on my tour, I have received much honour and grand reception, and I am thinking this is all the blessings of Srila Swami Maharaj. And here I am seeing the devotees of London dancing and chanting, “Jaya Sachi Nandana, jaya Sachi Nandana, jaya Sachi Nandana”, and where I am I cannot understand. Is it Goloka Vrndavan or Nabadwip?
This is a miracle. This miracle has happened, and I think if it is possible, in the future it will grow more and more. Many devotees of Mahaprabhu, Srila Guru Maharaj, and Srila Swami Maharaj are living and trying to preach Krishna consciousness, and through them in the future a glorious preaching movement will be seen. Always we will see that in one wave not everything can be accomplished. Sometimes a very strong wave may come, and some of the troubles in its path will be carried away, but always some will remain standing. But again and again a wave will come, and they will be carried away, and then they will get their real nourishment from that wave. When the flood comes to Nabadwip, we see that all the trees die, but the flood doesn’t just kill trees, it also provides much fertiliser for the earth, so that within a very short time new growth appears, and soon you cannot see the damage the flood caused.
So, everything is possible by the will of Krishna, and it was the earnest desire of Srila Guru Maharaj that he will do some service in London. Many times he told us, “My Guru Maharaj wanted to send me to London. Now all the devotees of the Western world are coming to me, but still I feel some deficiency in my service, and if I can do some seva in London, I will feel fulfilled.”
The devotees wholeheartedly tried to establish that Temple at 49 Dinsdale Road, and it happened, that property was bought, but Krishna’s will went the other way, and that place was stolen by Krishna. He wants to give us more chance for service: “Again you try to make another Temple for Me.” I am seeing in this way. He does not want us to be lazy. “Once you have done, no doubt, but again you try to serve.” Krishna wants to give everyone this inspiration that once again your service has come to you and you try to do that.
My feeling is that direct service is wanted from us, and I think very soon the Temple will appear again. It has appeared, but now it is in the form of a rented house, but I think that Guru Gauranga Radha Syamasundar must be in Their own house. If Syamasundar wants to take our service, then it can happen very quickly. Anyhow, our preaching programme must continue. What has been initiated in London, that must not stop. That is my prayer to Mahaprabhu, Nityananda Prabhu, Guru Maharaj, and his devotees. You please try to continue it, and through this service we can get everything.
etat sarvam gurau bhaktya puruso hy anjasa jayet
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 7.15.25)
If we know something of the scriptures, then we can understand that through the service of Guru Maharaj and the Vaisnavas, we will get everything—ecstasy, nectar, love, beauty—in the transcendental service world, and that is our life’s goal.
sandhya-vandana bhadram astu bhavato bho snana tubhyam namo
bho devah pitaras cha tarpana-vidhau naham ksamah ksamyatam
yatra kvapi nisadya yadava-kulottamsaya kamsa-dvisah
smaram smaram agham harami tad alam manye kim anyena me
(Srila Madhavendra Puri)
Sandhya, vandanam, snana, puja, archan [morning, noon, and evening prayers; reciting of prayers; bathing, formal worship; and worship of the Deity in the Temple] all are in the line of vidhi [regulated devotion], but we are followers of raga-marg, and Guru Maharaj is our preceptor and guardian of devotion—we have no problem. We may stay anywhere, but we must not forget our life, and that is the service life. Service is life. Preaching, that is also service; eating, that can be service; sleeping, that can be service. I am not telling you thereby to sleep always, but for what purpose am I sleeping? After sleeping we will feel much energy, and that is for serving Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga.
Today, I was talking up to four o’clock, and talking so much that a fever came. Then I took some rest, and after awakening I am feeling very nice again, and now I am talking with you. So, sleeping can also be service. Everything can be transformed into service.
Karma and bhakti, outwardly they are not different. Bhakti Vinod Thakur has said in Sri Brahma-samhita that outwardly karma and bhakti appear to hold the same position, but when karma is in the line of devotion and in the line of Vedic instruction, that is karma-misra bhakti, and that will lead us to jnana-misra bhakti, and that can give us yoga-misra bhakti. However, all these have the touch of the mundane world, but our line is the line of pure devotion to Krishna. That is to first offer our everything to Krishna, and only then will we do ananya-bhajan. Then everything is going to Krishna, good or bad, and we have no problem.
We can live anywhere and do anything, as long as we do not forget our inner duty, and then no reaction of this world will come to us. Everything belongs to Krishna, and everything goes to Krishna, and this is the teaching of Srila Guru Maharaj and Srila Swami Maharaj.
Offence to the Vaisnavas is the only bad thing for us. If we can take care of this consciousness, then we will have no problem, and we will be able to do anything and everything for the service of Krishna—that is true.
Once a great sadhu of South India was ordered by Sri Ranganath, “You make My Temple.” By His order, that sadhu went to the kings, at that time there were many kings in India, and he petitioned them, “Sri Ranganath has ordered that I build a Temple within seven compound walls where He will reside. If you help me, I will be very happy, and you will be greatly benefitted.” But none of the kings would give him help, and so he was dejected, sitting under a tree thinking, “What shall I do now? It is the order of Ranganath, but I have no capacity to do this seva.”
It was then that some men came to him. He preached to them, and they were convinced and said to him, “Prabhu, we can build your Temple.” Each of them had a special ability: one could convince others to do his will just by speaking to them, another could open any lock, and another could immobilise anyone just by touching them. Using their powers they resolved to plunder the treasuries of the kings, and if you see this Temple of Sri Ranganath, you will see their grand success. They are from the Sri sampradaya, and that is a very heavy sampradaya. They are the followers of vidhi-marg, very strict rules and regulations, but by the order of Ranganathji, they can do anything and everything—that type of raga-bhakti came to them. After that, very grand seva was established there, but this was the way in which the Temple of Sri Ranganath manifested in the world.
Our creed is raga-bhakti. We live for that.
yena tena prakarena manah krsne nivesayet
(Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu: 1.2.4)
With all our effort we shall try to serve Guru–Vaisnava, and that is the teaching of our Master. But our Master does not say, “Do robbery!” We have other methods of attempt, and through those we shall serve as much as possible. I think the Temple will come; someone will come forward by the will of Krishna. And the charge for the seva of that Temple will come to us, and we shall not forget that. If we try in this way, it will come very quickly. I have received much good response from the Western world. I have only come to meet with my friends and family actually, but I am a sannyasi and preaching always follows me. During this tour, I have been staying in various places, sometimes three days, sometimes four days, and sometimes only one day, but wherever I have been I have received much good response. Just this morning, I received a fax from San Jose, and there the devotees want to buy some land. I asked them to try to again establish our Math there, and already they are engaged in this task. And I think our London Math must also come very quickly by the grace of Srila Guru Maharaj. I am seeing the enthusiasm of you all, my friends, my godbrothers, my worshippable devotees, and I have no doubts in this regard. Krishna wants direct service from us, then why should we be misers to give that. We are holding the ego, that “I am devoted to Krishna”. Then now we must show that. Krishna has given us all some ability or some facility, and we are holding that. Everyone has some capacity, and through that capacity we can all do something. Now the cause has come, and we are all together. We must think.
Guru Maharaj has left us much wealth in his books, and we are publishing many more. It is no joking matter. At one time, Srila Kesav Maharaj told me, “Govinda Maharaj, if you can publish twelve books, then I will put your name on the publisher’s list, and you will receive much help and facility from the government.” Then, we had only published eight books, but I told Kesav Maharaj that I would try to publish another four.
Although it was very difficult and we only had little money, I managed to do it. Now we have published over sixty books from Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, but still to this day I have not approached the government. I will not even give one of our books for review. It is my thinking that, who are they to review Guru Maharaj’s books? They have no capacity. I do not want their certificate for Guru Maharaj, so I have not given even one book for review. If they will say that there is anything wrong with that book, I cannot tolerate it. They have no right to review Guru Maharaj’s book.
Since I have come to the West, many newspapers from around the world have given good reports about our world tour. Only this morning, I received a clipping from an Australian newspaper. The article was called, ‘Ganges comes to Australia’. We are not looking for their praise, but still it is coming. Actually, we know that they have no right to give certificate to us. We are reading with Lord Brahma and with Lord Siva, in the same class—Guru Maharaj told us this.
Once, when he was very young, Hari Charan Prabhu was studying Sanskrit with me. We had both passed some examination, and Hari Charan Prabhu told me that he wanted to continue his studies at college. He told me, “I will return to my family home, and after I graduate from college, I will come back to the Math.” I was very sad.
At that time, we were only three or four brahmacharis, so I went to Guru Maharaj and told him, “Maharaj, Hari Charan Prabhu wants to return to his home for studying, and when he has graduated, he will come back to the Math.”
Guru Maharaj called Hari Charan Prabhu and said, “You are very foolish, do you not know what you are studying here? You have been living here with me and other Vaisnavas for two years, but you have not got any good feelings for that?”
Hari Charan was thinking, “What is it that Guru Maharaj wants to say?” And Guru Maharaj continued, “Do you know where you are living? You are living in the same ‘college’ with Lord Brahma, with Lord Siva, with Sukadev, with Vyasadev, and with many of the stalwart rsis. You are studying in the same class as them, so what more will you get if you go back to your house?” Guru Maharaj expanded on this point with many explanations, and Hari Charan Prabhu never returned to his family home.
So, we are all studying in the same class with Lord Brahma, Narad, Lord Siva, and if we try to realise that, then we will get much strength, and we must proceed more exclusively in the line of Krishna consciousness, and together, helping each other.
Congregational chanting will give us more benefit, but if we look at each other with an eye to find wrong, then that possibility will go far away from us. So, we must not make offence to each other. And ego, that is a very bad thing, so we must leave the ego. The ego is with everybody, no one can say that they have no ego, but we must leave aside the mundane ego and keep only one ego, and that is: “I am the servant of the Vaisnavas.” This is the main conception needed for the conditioned soul.
Vaisnavi pratistha tate kara nistha. Srila Saraswati Thakur has written this in his poem, Who is a Vaisnava?: “When your ego will grow to embrace the ideal that you are the servitor of a Vaisnava, you try and hold that within your heart.”
I am very happy and feeling much peace in my heart that all my godbrothers and godsisters, and all my friends, they are very enthusiastic to chant congregationally with me, and that inspiration is coming more and more, and it is very hopeful no doubt. And if you will continue this, I can come again and again, no problem at all. Before it was not my plan, but I was invited by the devotees, and now I am thinking not only India, not only Puri, Nabadwip, and Vrndavan, but with the association of the devotees, I will preach something in the West also. If Krishna and Guru Maharaj will give me that chance again, then why should I not take it? I shall try to serve the devotees. Preaching is our life, and Guru Maharaj has given that life to me, and I am trying as much as possible.
Excerpts from Letters
Our material life’s root is existing within misconception, and through misconception we are now suffering in this material world, within the wave of death and birth.
Actually, everyone’s spiritual form as atma is very clean, and in that clean position his only duty is to serve in the transcendental service world to his dearmost Lord Krishna, and there the service duties exist in varieties of ways. By the grace of hladini-sakti and through his earnest, clean desire, he gets a specific service as appropriate for his devotional mood. That service comes within five forms of relationship with his dearmost beloved Lord. That is the real, normal position and service duty. Through that dutiful mood, his eternal caste and creed automatically manifests within him. Actually, all the healthy jiva-souls are existing within that transcendental devotional service plane, whereas the jiva-souls here are living within the society of misconception and need to take the opportunity to render some service to Guru-Gauranga.
Attachment to Krishna cannot grow automatically within us, and no one who is bound within misconception can give it to us. Then, your activities must be for increasing your mood of devotion, and to do that you must follow the nine kinds of devotional processes [sravanam, kirtanamm and so on] and also try to engage your self and mind for the satisfaction of the Vaisnavas.
The nature of the mundane world is taking birth, suffering in so many ways, and dying—birth, suffering, and death—repeatedly. It is only possible to leave this misconception by getting the good devotees’ merciful connection, and through that ‘electricity’ we will get our real, beneficial, exalted service life. This is the main thing, and all scriptures show this. What more can I say!
Srimad Bhagavatam said that we cannot be successful through our own endeavour; it is only possible through the sadhus’ grace and the grace of Sri Gurudev. For that purpose and by the Lord’s grace, He appears in the form of Sadhu and Guru for uplifting the conditioned souls. For the Lord’s connection we will connect with His agent in the form of sadhu and Guru.
Here all duties, like the rivers’ flow, must be directed to flow into the ocean of ecstasy to Krishna—this is the main thing. Srila Rupa Goswami, in his Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, gave:
anasaktasya visayan yatharham upayunjatah
nirbandhah krsna-sambandhe yuktam vairagyam uchyate
Try to detach yourself from mundane affairs and material necessities. Living within this mundane environment, some necessities and requirements will come; take them in a harmonising way for the peace and maintenance of your body and mind. To become detached, try to see everything in relation to Krishna and use everything for His service. Make the focus of all activities service to Sri Krishna—that is sadhana.
Again my blessings with well wishes to you and dandavat pranams and well wishes as appropriate to all the devotees in your association.
My dear devotees,
Please accept my humble dandavat pranams in remembrance of my Divine Masters Srila Guru Maharaj and Srila Swami Maharaj. I received your phone call and faxes.
Fortunately, I have got the opportunity with my friends like Sripad Sagar Maharaj to preach Krishna consciousness in Brazil by the grace of the devotees there, especially Your Graces. I think you are all qualified, mature devotees in Krishna consciousness. When it is you who are recommending someone for initiation, how can I think that they don’t know the rules and regulations? For me it is impossible to think that one who comes to receive initiation does not know about the four directives and the rules and regulations of Krishna consciousness. I am thinking that they must all know the primary rules and regulations. Srimad Bhagavatam has stated that by following the directives, one will be pious, otherwise if one is engaged in sinful activities, how can he get the connection with, and the practice of, Krishna consciousness? It is a very simple matter. Before eating it is necessary to wash our hands, wash the plate, take clean water, and then respectfully take prasadam. Everywhere, there is a natural process of rules and regulations. The four regulations are the basic foundation for everybody. These regulations are like learning the alphabet. Without learning the alphabet, it is not possible to read any book.
Now, when the position you mention has come within our society, I must say it clearly that when anyone wants to practise Krishna consciousness, he must formally or practically try to make himself a pious person. But piety must be disturbed if one will not follow the four regulative principles. What do we want? We don’t want anything mundane, like wealth, women, and fame. Our greatest enemy is fame, therefore Srila Saraswati Thakur said it was comparable with pig’s stool. Perhaps for the time being they can’t leave the habit, but why should my friends eat that pig stool twenty-four hours daily? If we have no sincerity in our practising life, we cannot get the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu. Anyway, with full affection and humility, you must tell my friends that this is our healthy principle. On rare occasions, we may see a Paramahamsa Vaisnava breaking the rules, like Srila Vamsi Das Babaji Maharaj, but that is not our ideal and should never be imitated. …
When we are forming a society or anything, that is only as eyewash to satisfy the mundane requirements. But what is the value of a nose without breath? Our life-force is the mood of devotion to Krishna, and that will increase with the association of, and service to, the devotee. No doubt there is a gradation, but that is because we are unqualified, and we must follow according to junior and senior positions. On the whole, we must not forget that we are practitioners as students. The first requirement of practising Krishna consciousness is to serve and satisfy the Vaisnava. If we only sing Vaisnava Thakura doyara sagara e dase koruna kari day and night without following that, then the fruit will not come to our hand. When we cannot help ourselves, how can we help others? So, it is my request to my friends that they try to follow this principal directive. The scriptures have said,
sadhu-sange krsna-nama—ei matra chai
samsara jinite ara kona vastu nai
Service to Guru and Vaisnava without offence, and service to the Hare Krishna mahamantra without offence, are one and the same thing. So, whatever we do, we must not be offenders to Hari-nam and the Vaisnavas. And we can get this qualification through humility, tolerance, and giving honour to others. If we are sincere and sacrifice ourselves, we must follow these directives of Sriman Mahaprabhu. Mundane ego can destroy everything, so we must first try to leave our ego and fully surrender to Guru and Vaisnava.
It is my request to my faithful friends that what will be practically suitable for our preaching Mission there, you try to do that happily together. It is my desire that everyone will come under one umbrella and happily give nourishment to each other, and serve the devotee, the Deity, and our Mission. From far, what can I say more?
Really, the religion of the jiva-souls is one. In Srimad Bhagavatam Sri Krishna said: Mayadau brahmane prokta dharmo yasyam Mad-atmakah. Sriman Mahaprabhu said more clearly: jivera ‘svarupa’ haya, Krsnera ‘nitya-dasa’. There is no doubt that all the demigods’ or Gods’ power is coming from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and He is Sri Krishna. After realisation in every way and all directions, it is firmly concluded in all scriptures and supremely in Srimad Bhagavatam that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is Sri Krishna. Our only aim and object is Krishna-prema, divine love for Krishna, and this is also concluded in all the scriptures. Now it is very clear by the causeless mercy of Sriman Mahaprabhu and later on by Their Divine Graces, Om Visnupad Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj and Om Visnupad Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj Prabhupad.
We are very insignificant and no doubt extremely fallen souls. Before also it was so unfortunate, but now it is not. Actually, the door of our fortune was opened for us by Their Divine Graces’ causeless mercy. We don’t always get such a chance. In Srimad Bhagavatam, we can see this sloka:
nr-deham adyam sulabham sudurlabham
plavam sukalpam guru-karnadharam
puman bhavabdhim na taret sa atma-ha
Sriman Mahaprabhu is the nondifferent form of the Divine Couple. He appears as a giver of the supreme goal of life, and Himself has taken the form of a practitioner. He showed His divine preacher’s form in a very sweet and simple way. Therefore, we are relieved from all anxieties. Now our only duty is to perfectly follow under the guidance of His associates. The way is very simple,
nacho gao bhakta-sange kara sankirtana
akantha kariya kara prasada bhaksana
The clue to the practitioner’s success is contained within this verse. The only necessity is sambandha-jnan, which means to know our divine relationship and natural duty in connection with the Lord—that is our svarup sampad. Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur said: atmara ananda prasravana—the fountain of ecstasy for the jiva-soul. A very easy way to practise Krishna consciousness was given by Sriman Mahaprabhu and later by His divine associates in this age. We only need to have clear faith and avoid Vaisnava-aparadh. How sweet the way of practice: dance and sing with the devotees, chant the Hare Krishna mahamantra, and take maha-mahaprasad. And:
sarira avidya-jala jadendriya tahe kala
jive phele visaya-sagare
tara madhye jihva ati lobhamaya sudurmati
take jeta kathina samsare
krsna bada dayamaya karibare jihva jaya
svaprasada-anna dila bhai
sei annamrta pao radha-krsna-guna gao
preme daka chaitanya-nitai
Through that you get your elixir of life, and it will easily spread to others through your sincere activities, and they will be extremely benefitted as you are.
Reading your whole letter I have also got much enthusiasm. …
I have no doubt about Your Grace that if you will try sincerely, you can do something for the greatest auspiciousness of all. To practise Krishna consciousness is a very nice process. Who will practise must be benefitted, and through his practising others also must be beneficiaries.
Our lifetime is very short, and we do not always get such an opportunity. Then what one wants to do, do immediately, this is the advice of the scriptures. So please realise all these things and do the needful.
Please accept my blessings in remembrance of my Divine Master. I am happy to receive your letter with news of the devotees and Srila Guru Maharaj’s divine Mission in Malaysia. I am always remembering you and all the devotees there, and I am praying to Srila Guru Maharaj that he look after you all.
After hearing carefully all your news, I am now giving answer to your questions one by one.
a) Srimad Bhagavad-gita manifest originally in Mahabharata on the battlefield of Kuruksetra. Bhagavan Sri Krishna Himself gave this ecstasy to the faithful, fortunate jiva-souls for the super-benefit of their transcendental body, strength, and service. One sloka you will see in the Gita-mahatmya invocation:
sarvopanisado gavo dogdha gopala-nandanah
partho vatsah sudhir bhokta dugdham gitamrtam mahat
Very attractively and simply, everything is explained in this Gita-mahatmya sloka. You know the gist of the Vedas are the Upanisads, mentioned as a cow. Krishna is using Arjuna as the calf of that cow for making the milk flow, and the faithful, fortunate souls of good pious intelligence are drinking that milk.
Srimad Bhagavad-gita is giving in varieties of ways (karma-yoga, jnana-yoga, hatha-yoga, bhakti-yoga and the exclusive devotional method) the chance to take the opportunity of that rescuing process from the illusionary environment to Vaikunthaloka and upward to Goloka Vrndavan.
In the Vaisnaviya-tantra-sara in the section explained as Gita-mahatmya, the glories of Sri Gita are explained to us in varieties of ways, but the Vaisnava Acharyas like Visvanath Chakravarti, Baladev Vidyabhusan, and especially Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur, expressed the line of drinking that full-cream milk as the exclusive devotional method. Therefore, Srila Prabhupad Saraswati Thakur, following Bhakti Vinod Thakur’s line, avoided focusing on other intentions, as we can see in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu and Narada-pancharatra:
anyabhilasita sunyam jnana-karmady anavrtam
anukulyena krsnanusilanam bhaktir uttama
sarvopadhi vinirmuktam tat-paratvena nirmalam
hrsikena hrsikesa sevanam bhaktir uchyate
Therefore, those who want mundane benefit up to Satyaloka must be attracted to see that full Gita-mahatmya and read Bhagavad-gita. They also will gradually get a super-position in the plane of dedication by the mercy of the residents of that plane. So, we can say those who are very much eager and who have much hankering for exclusive devotion to Krishna will not try to take that opportunity explained in the Gita-mahatmya of Vaisnaviya-tantra-sara.
Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur published the Gita with the commentary of Sridhar Swami, Visvanath Chakravarti, and Baladev Vidyabhusan, and following them, in the Bengali language, the commentary of Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur. There, the full Gita-mahatmya is not published.
Srila Guru Maharaj, seeing the present condition of the conditioned souls, very mercifully, when he presented our edition, gave that Gita-mahatmya for their general encouragement. So, now we can say to everybody, “Go as you like!”
b) It is explained in Bengali by Krishnadas Kaviraj:
diksa-kale bhakta kare atma-samarpana
sei-kale krsna tare kare atma-sama
sei deha kare tara chid-ananda-maya
aprakrta-dehe tara charana bhajaya
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Antya-lila, 4.192–193)
I tried to explain it in English, but my English is very poor and not sufficient for explaining everything. But the Bengali verse is perfect, and you will see in Chaitanya-charitamrta the explanation of Srila Swami Maharaj Prabhupad.
The soul by nature is spiritual but is of the tatastha-sakti. He has the possibility of obtaining a fully serving spiritual form, and he has the possibility to be in material existence by becoming covered by material consciousness. The bound atma gets a subtle and physical body. Until he surrenders to Guru, that divine soul is covered by matter, and he is disconnected from the transcendental service world. But receiving initiation, which means fully surrendering to Krishna in the form of Guru, that surrendered position is explained by Srila Saraswati Thakur and Srila Swami Maharaj [in Antya-lila 4.192]: with his willing, feeling, and thinking consciousness, he is surrendering to Krishna in his dedicated mood of sacrifice. Krishna is seeing his sincere attitude and immediately gives him in seed-form his own transcendental form as a spiritual body, and gradually that will manifest (as satapatra vedhah nyaya: a needle passes almost, but not quite, instantaneously through a pile of leaves with some small difference of time from leaf to leaf).
When he gets a form for direct service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead—where are playing five kinds of ecstasy as rasa—as suitable by his own hankering and service mood to Krishna, he is getting his male or female form. But on the whole, when realising the position of the jiva-soul, we must say it is coming as the power of Krishna—tatastha-sakti—and that means every potency’s identification is as female. But it can be transformed in the mood of male, such as dasya-rasa, sakhya-rasa, and vatsalya-rasa. All of them are serving Krishna, and the mood of service is prakrti, but their action may be as a male by the mercy of Mul Sankarsan.
If we translate those verses [Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Antya-lila, 4.192–193] word by word, we must say that this body is transformed to a transcendental form. But Srila Saraswati Thakur gave some explanation in his Anubhasya in Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta, and Srila Swami Maharaj has seen it and given a purport for our clarification in English. There you can see and then you must understand:
“At the time of initiation, a devotee gives up all his material conceptions. Therefore, being in touch with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he is situated on the transcendental platform. Thus having attained knowledge and the transcendental platform, he always engages in the service of the spiritual body of Krishna. When one is freed from material connections in this way, his body immediately becomes spiritual, and Krishna accepts his service. However, Krishna does not accept anything from a person with a material conception of life. When a devotee no longer has any desire for material sense gratification, in his spiritual identity he engages in the service of the Lord, for his dormant spiritual consciousness awakens. This awakening of spiritual consciousness makes his body spiritual, and thus he becomes fit to render service to the Lord. A karmi may consider the body of a devotee material, but factually it is not, for a devotee has no conception of material enjoyment. If one thinks that the body of a pure devotee is material, he is an offender, for that is Vaisnava-aparadh.”
c) Astral travel is the travelling of the mental body out from the physical body. But when the jiva-soul travels from the material body, that takes place at the time of death.
d) Offering bhog to Krishna, we can sing the bhajan Bhaja Bhakata-vatsala Sri Gaurahari…. Arati will then be held, during which time, the devotees may sing Yasomati-nandana… and Jaya Sachi-nandana…. This also is the tradition here in Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math.
In giving answer, I am always feeling restricted by my lack of English. But you consider these points, and I think you must understand my expression.
In the presence of Sriman Mahaprabhu, and after Sriman Mahaprabhu, in our sampradaya up to Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur, no one took saffron cloth or formal Vedic sannyas dress. But all of them, as well as our Guru-parampara and the Goswamis, were not only paramahamsas but more than that, they were all extreme exclusive servitors in the line of Sri Rupa Goswami to Sri Sri Radha-Govinda. They follow the conception of:
naham vipro na cha nara-patir napi vaisyo na sudro
[“I am not a priest, king, merchant, or labourer….”]
They followed this conception of Mahaprabhu with extreme humility. Not only that, but Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami indicated that it is not necessary for the Vaisnavas to take saffron cloth.
rakta-vastra ‘vaisnavera’ parite na yuyaya
kona pravasire dimu, ki kaja uhaya
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Antya-lila, 13.61)
[“Saffron cloth is unfit for Vaisnavas to wear. They have no use for it.”]
And Mahaprabhu proudly declared about His devotees:
katha-karangiya mora kangala bhakta-gana
vrndavane aile tadera kariha palana
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 25.183)
[“My devotees are poor and go to Vrndavan with only a blanket and a waterpot.”]
Actually, the indication of Mahaprabhu is that His followers will not be attached to any mundane relativities, but they will be exclusively attached to pure devotional life. Therefore, in the time of the sad goswamis [the six goswamis], and after the sad goswamis, when Narottam Thakur, Srinivas Acharya, Visvanath Chakravarti, and others widely preached, up to that time Sriman Mahaprabhu’s sampradaya was not so much polluted by sahajiyaism. Some pollution was always there in shadow-form, no doubt, as sahajiyaism, but after Visvanath Chakravarti Thakur and Baladev Vidyabhusan, the real preaching conception of Sriman Mahaprabhu was hidden, and widely no one preached it, but they practised. Like the activity of Kali, the cloud of mayavad and sahajiyaism covered almost the whole of pure Vaisnavism. It is expressed by Srila Guru Maharaj in Sri Bhakti-vinoda-viraha-dasakam:
dharmas-charma-gato ’jnataiva satata yogas cha bhogatmako
jnane sunya-gatir japena tapasa khyatir jighamsaiva cha
dane dambhikata ’nuraga-bhajane dustapacharo yada
buddhim buddhi-matam vibheda hi tada dhatra bhavan presitah
At that time, anuraga-bhajan, exclusive devotional practices, became completely polluted by sahajiyaism. At that time, Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur appeared as the divine grace of Sriman Mahaprabhu in the mundane world, as a transcendental sampradaya purifier and re-establisher. Wholeheartedly with his full energy, he tried to re-establish the pure conception of Mahaprabhu with his melted-hearted prayers.
He was para-duhkha-duhkhi, extremely sorrowful to see the pain of the conditioned souls. As much as possible by him he tried to remove and clean the obstacles from our vision of the spiritual sky. He prayed to Mahaprabhu, “Please send Your merciful glance in the form of a Vaisnava Acharya.”
Through his divine prayer we have got Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur as an illustrious, exalted, unique sampradaya Acharya of Sriman Mahaprabhu.
Srila Saraswati Thakur showed himself from his childhood as a great general in our sampradaya. He declared totalitarian war against maya, especially mayavad and sahajiyaism. He showed us the position of real raga-marg. It is expressed in a few words, and you have seen that engraved on the front of the Nat Mandir:
matala hari-jana kirtana-range
pujala raga-patha gaurava-bhange
He caused Mahaprabhu’s fire of mahasankirtan yajna to again blaze by his divine activities. He used everything necessary, and he brought from the Ramanuja sampradaya the tridanda sannyas. It was hidden in Bengal, but it was mentioned in Srimad Bhagavatam and existed in the Ramanuja sampradaya, and through that he re-established daiva-varnasram-dharma and showed that the position of the devotees of Krishna is the supreme position, and that the position of a devotee of Krishna is so high and unquestionable.
He preached everywhere in this mundane plane that what is existing in the form of the religion of the jiva-souls is actually all bogus.
prthivite yata katha dharma-name chale
bhagavata kahe saba paripurna chhale
[“Srimad Bhagavatam says that everything going on in the name of religion in the world is complete cheating.”]
This was his preaching line.
He organised again varnasram-dharma, no doubt, but that was in the line of Srimad Bhagavad-gita. However, supremely he showed through his divine activity the religion of the jiva-soul that is manifested by Vaisnava-dharma. It is not dependant upon any mundane consideration or even the Vedic rulings.
tasmat tvam uddhavotsrjya chodanam pratichodanam
pravrttin cha nivrttin cha srotavyam srutam eva cha
mam ekam eva saranam atmanam sarva-dehinam
yahi sarvatma-bhavena maya sya hy akutobhayah
The rulings given in the Vedas, the sruti and smrti—whatever you have heard before and will hear in the future—leave it all, fully surrender to Krishna, and serve Him wholeheartedly. Here is the point of Srila Saraswati Thakur: service to Krishna. Whatever is necessary for that service, we shall follow. Where there is no service, we have no existence, but for the service of Krishna we can do anything and everything under proper guidance.
Srila Swami Maharaj Prabhupad and Srila Guru Maharaj were both in that line, and they also showed just how much, and what, we can do for the service of Krishna. Now the whole world through their divine service-preaching is chanting and dancing with the Hare Krishna mahamantra. They proved what Mahaprabhu said:
prthivite achhe yata nagaradi-grama
sarvatra prachara haibe mora nama
[“My Name will be chanted in every town and village in this world.”]
They took all facilities from this mundane ground, and they took all facilities from the Vedic scriptures, in order to establish Krishna consciousness in the heart of every jiva-soul without consideration of male or female—stri-purusa nirvisese. That was Srila Prabhupad Saraswati Thakur’s thesis, but you know that it is natural that the antithesis always disturbs the thesis, especially when the male/female conception comes to disturb the mind of the practitioners. For their protection, we follow the system of brahmacharya, grhastha, and so on, and if necessary, we can utilise that theory for our preaching programme.
No doubt we are not sannyasis, brahmacharis, or grhasthas, but for the purpose of preaching and for the protection of the male and female practitioners, we can utilise saffron as a guard for their preaching life because preaching is the highest within our practising process (sravan, kirtan).
tara madhye sarva-srestha nama-sankirtana
niraparadhe nama laile paya prema-dhana
Sravan and kirtan are the best, but it is necessary to do this without offence to Sri Guru–Vaisnava.
It was the plan of Srila Guru Maharaj to make a ladies’ party for preaching Krishna consciousness in the form of brahmacharinis. It was for this that in his Trust Board and in his Last Will and Testament he gave that preference to the ladies.
In a totalitarian war field, the general will not hesitate to take the facility of whatever is immediately necessary for the safety of the soldiers and for winning the battle. This was the teaching of Srila Guru Maharaj, Srila Saraswati Thakur, and Srila Prabhupad A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj. We are the insignificant followers of them, and we have no hesitation to take the facilities from anywhere and everywhere for the protection of our soldiers because nowhere is this prohibited.
Their saffron cloth does not mean sannyas, but it is the protection garment for our servitors from the lustful ill-feelings, like an asbestos suit to protect them from the blazing fire they face in the preaching field.
Finally, I can say that our devotees have taken a vow until death, not sannyas, for their exclusive devotional preaching practising life. It was not done with the sannyas mantram, but it is more than that. If anyone will try to understand and honour this, he will be liberated from the illusory environment.
I trust this meets you continuing steadily your service life.
Concerning your question: if we try to think or hear about the asta-kaliya-lila, we will only increase our mood in the line of sahajiyaism and nothing else. From the first sloka of the Prema-bhakti-chandrika describing the waking of Radha-Govinda, all our ideas will go in a mundane way. What our brain will think, that all will be mundane, but what is really within, that is not mundane—it is completely different. If you try to think of it, you will only become bound within your misconception. For us to sing the songs or anything, it is all artificial, it is not necessary to think anything artificial about Krishna-lila.
We have heard many beautiful Pastimes of Krishna-lila, but asta-kaliya-lila is not even one per cent of that. We are not feeling any enthusiasm for it. We will not think about it. What we have is so much more. Srila Visvanath Chakravarti Thakur, who is in the line of my Gurudevas, has composed it and for that we will honour it, but from far. We will pray to Srila Visvanath Chakravarti Thakur that one day it will reveal perfectly in our heart. This is our prayer, and in this way we will honour that lila. Living within our mundane position, it is not necessary for us to dissect the Pastimes of Krishna-lila, and it is not necessary to think good or bad of it. Only chant the mahamantra and the glories of Guru-Gauranga, and it will reveal within your heart. It is not good to try to imagine anything about the asta-kaliya-lila—imagination is mundane. But if any qualified worshippable Vaisnava wants to hear from some person for his own bhajan purpose—such as in the case of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur calling Sripad Jajavar Maharaj from Benares to Puri so His Divine Grace could hear the asta-kaliya-lila in the form of song—that will be service for that person to him.
Srila Gaura Kisor Das Babaji Maharaj gave a very good example: it is like entering into a labour room while having no child within the womb and acting out the actions of labour, producing the many sounds. The sound may be the same, but it will not produce a child. First, it is necessary to go stage by stage, and when the labour pain will come, then it is the real and proper time. Before that, you will get nothing.
For the spiritual growth of the sincere practitioners, it will be best for them to read our Math’s publications. Through his own divine perception, Srila Guru Maharaj presented the nectar from the scriptures to us in a most generous, clear, and practical way so that we would be able to gain the nourishment contained in them. If we try to understand everything on our own, we will only become confused and misguided.
In this age after the disappearance of Srila Saraswati Thakur, we see that some groups are very interested for asta-kaliya-lila-smaran before attaining the proper position of their devotional lives. They actually do not know that it is very dangerous for them. The qualification is mentioned in Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu by Sri Rupa Goswami:
adau sraddha tataḥ sadhu-saṅgo ’tha bhajana-kriya
tato ’nartha-nivṛttiḥ syat tato niṣṭha ruchis tatah
Until getting a firm position in ruchi, we remain unqualified.
ksantir avyartha-kalatvam viraktir mana-sunyata
asa-bandhah samutkantha nama-gane sada ruchih
asaktis tad-gunakhyane pritis tad-vasati-sthale
ity adayo ’nubhavah syur jata-bhavankure jane
Therefore, we must say that before attaining anartha-nivrtti, strong nistha, and ruchi, if anyone will try to hear such lila of Krishna without a proper guardian, he must fall down into the garbage of sahajiyaism [imitation].
First, the feeling must come through sadhana and sadhu-sanga as to who is Krishna. It is necessary to know about Krishna and Krishna-bhakti, and to proceed in the proper channel. That channel is sadhu-sanga. In this way, the practitioner will be able to see what is garbage and what is good. He will then gain attachment to Krishna, and when that is strong, he will fully leave all mundanity—that is called anartha-nivrtti. Otherwise, if we hear Krishna-lila, our anarthas will increase, but our Krishna consciousness will not.
First, with sadhu-sanga, we will practise through bhajana-kriya—the nine processes of devotional service. Thus gradually our ruchi will become stronger and our anarthas will go out. All will come through sadhu-sanga, the association of a qualified sadhu. There are also different gradations of sadhus. If we associate with the madhyam-adhikari, we will go there to that level. But if we will get the association of one who is an uttam-adhikari who comes down to the madhyam-adhikari level, we will go up very quickly. When attachment is very strong, it is called ‘rati’; at that stage to hear the asta-kaliya-lila of Krishna will help him achieve his higher position. After ruchi, everything will be beautiful. But before that, if we hear asta-kaliya-lila, we will go to the garbage of sahajiyaism. This is fact.
Anartha-nivrtti is like having passed the matriculation examinations where all subjects were studied, thereafter entering into a specialised stream of progress, such as into the arts or sciences. So, up until anartha-nivrtti, one must practise all subjects, then specialise according to his sraddha and ruchi, otherwise our anarthas will increase. Lust in Sanskrit is called ‘manobhava’, in other words, it is growing in the mind. When the mind is polluted, the body will become polluted.
The main principle is attachment to Krishna. If that is real, he is qualified to hear from a qualified Guru. This is the general method of our practising procedure.
Living with Sriman Mahaprabhu were so many great followers. He, as an Acharya, preached Krishna consciousness and spread it all over the world. Especially the human section was so enlightened through His divine preaching, but after Mahaprabhu someone had to be the leader—the successor—and He clearly gave that charge to Srila Rupa Goswami.
In a similar way, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur Prabhupad gave the charge to Srila Guru Maharaj by having him sing the ‘power-transmitting’ song Sri Rupa Manjari Pada in the presence of many of Srila Guru Maharaj’s senior and junior godbrothers. In this way, Srila Saraswati Thakur gave some hint that Srila Guru Maharaj was to continue the line of Srila Rupa Goswami, and through this they all understood it. After the disappearance of Srila Saraswati Thakur, most of those who required sannyas came to Srila Guru Maharaj to receive it. This is the example in this age.
In the time of Sriman Mahaprabhu, there were many stalwart devotees, and many who were like the Gurus of Srila Rupa Goswami. Sri Ramananda Ray, Sri Svarup Damodar, and others were in the highest position.
In Jagannath Puri, Sriman Mahaprabhu presented Srila Rupa Goswami as a student successor in an assembly of His associates. There, many of Srila Rupa Goswami’s seniors and juniors were present. Mahaprabhu previously had fully blessed him and told the others to also examine him. All were amazed with his qualification and thought it to be only possible through the blessings of Mahaprabhu. Sriman Mahaprabhu said, “Yes, I have given My full blessings to him, you also give him your blessings.” In this way, they could all understand that Mahaprabhu was arranging for Srila Rupa Goswami to take the charge of continuing His sampradaya. Later, we can see that with his respectful guidance, the goswamis and others happily spent their unique, divine preaching life.
From one river many channels will come, but they will not all be named the same. Many channels come from the Ganges, but the Ganges River herself is flowing in one channel. Similarly, Mahaprabhu’s line is flowing through the channel of Srila Rupa Goswami. Many were maybe more qualifed and senior to Rupa Goswami, but Mahaprabhu gave to him the charge of continuing His sampradaya. For that, all the goswamis avoided their own sampradayas identified by their names. Even though they had many disciples, they directed them all to the line of Sri Rupanuga. We can see this in Gaura-lila, and when we see its manifestation in Krishna-lila, there also the internal service hankering of the whole group of manjaris is directed automatically to do the exclusive service of Sri Radha-Govinda under the guidance of Sri Rupa Manjari.
Srila Guru Maharaj gave a very nice example. In a family, both parents are superior to the son, and both are respected by him. The father is the proprietor over the whole family including the mother, but when the son comes to give his respects to them, first he goes to the mother and then to the father. When the father dies, all the property does not go to the mother even though she is in a higher and more respected position, but all goes to the son. From this example, we can understand something about the line of succession.…
How much I can express I cannot say in English, but these are the facts. I think it is best that we will be cautious with these high and deep matters, and not try to enter into them very quickly without maturity.
You try to understand the answers I have given, and with the guidance of our Math’s books, you proceed carefully in your noble desire to practise and distribute Sriman Mahaprabhu’s teachings.
In the last few days, I have received four new publications from our devotees around the world, but I am finding that so few of our devotees are reading our books. It is not that these are to be opened and looked through, or read once but that they are to be read daily and repeatedly. I have been in the Mission now for fifty years, and I am still reading Srimad Bhagavad-gita. By this, I am surprised how much new light and inspiration is coming to me from the Gita.
Now we have so many books from our Mission, around two hundred publications, but the devotees must constantly read and re-read these. This procedure is good for our devotees, and it is my desire that they will do so.
This special type of knowledge, this Krishna consciousness, will come to the prisoners sleeping under maya. … Now with this consciousness they have woken up, a revolt has broken out in the prison, and they are escaping.
Everyone must follow the four regulative rules. This is one of the rules of our society. We are following Srimad Bhagavatam, and there this ruling is given, so there is no question about it.
Actually it is not four, but five regulative principles, and everyone must follow that. We are not to digest anything in this mundane world, but everything must be offered to Krishna. Hence, the fifth regulation is so important. Indeed, within gold is the residence of all the other four forbidden activities: illicit sex, gambling, meat-eating, and intoxication. So, how to live without storing gold? We will take prasadam.
In the time of Gaura Kisor Das Babaji Maharaj, a devotee got married. He said, “Very good. That man will serve that girl in a variety of ways thinking she is one of Krishna’s gopis.” So, everywhere we have some possibility to see everything in relation to Krishna. But that is very hard. One type of vision is bhog, one is tyaga, and one is bhakti: enjoyment, renunciation, and dedication.
We shall try to live in the plane of devotion, the plane of dedication. That is our goal. If we can do fully, we shall be benefitted fully, and if we can do partly, we shall be benefitted partly. But we are not to lose our vision. Our vision will always be to that ideal level.
The line of Srila Guru Maharaj is very clear, but to follow the line is not so clear. I know that my service is to make harmony and take all the devotees within one ship. I consider my disciples as my friends. I never say, ‘You are my disciple’, but I consider them as my friends. They are helping me to proceed in the line of Krishna consciousness to the goal.
If we can go together in one ship, that is very happy for us. We are making a society, therefore, it is not good if in each country there are three or four parties. Rather, it is very good if together as one party they will follow our principle.
No doubt a few will go out from the shelter of the umbrella, but what can we do? We are not masters of this universe. We can only try to do good for others. If they will listen, that is very good, but if they won’t listen, then there is nothing we can do.
Above everything the will of Krishna will act. Man proposes, God disposes. Therefore, we cannot control, and we cannot do everything. But we will try as much as possible by us, and we shall try sincerely. Without diplomacy or duplicity, we shall try to do good for others and ourselves.
“As Acharya my situation is that the good of all the disciples will come to me, and everyone’s bad will come to me also. That is my situation. We cannot make miracles, but the main thing is that we shall at least give encouragement so none will leave the line of Krishna consciousness.
One who does ‘seva’ but is always thinking about his own interest must be ignored by bhakti, and bhakti will not go to him.
Is it necessary to have any ingredients to worship? One’s own tears are the best ingredients.
If we want to serve Srila Guru Maharaj exclusively and not see anything else, then we will be relieved of all troubles. But we must try to serve Guru very attentively, only then will we get that chance, otherwise we will be cheated.
My principal directive to all the devotees is to try to avoid Vaisnava-aparadh, and thereby continue happily your practising life.
Om tat sat
The translation of the verse nama-srestham …, as given in Sri Guru and His Grace by Srila B.R. Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj:
“I am fully indebted to Sri Gurudev. Why? He has given me so many things. He has given me the highest conception of the Holy Name of Krishna, the highest form of sound which contains the highest form of thought, aspiration, ideal, everything. And next he has given me the mantra.” The Name is there within the mantra. Without the Name, the mantra is nothing. If the Name of Krishna is withdrawn and replaced with another name, the mantra will give the opposite result. The Name of Krishna is all-in-all. And within the mantra, the Name is couched in a particular way as a sort of prayer.
Then he says, “He has given me the service of that great saviour, the son of Mother Sachi, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who is like a golden mountain standing to show the direction of Krishna-lila. And Gurudev has brought me to the lotus feet of Mahaprabhu’s most favourite personal assistant, Svarup Damodar, who is the representation of Lalita Devi, the most favourite friend of Radhika.
“Then he has brought me in connection with Sri Rupa, who was ordered to distribute the highest kinds of devotional love, rasa.” Vaidhi-bhakti, the worship of the Lord in awe and reverence, is of a lower order. But raganuga-bhakti, spontaneous love, the heart’s innermost dealings, was distributed through Srila Rupa Goswami. Mahaprabhu considered Sri Rupa the best to deal with raganuga-bhakti.
Das Goswami says, “Then, by his grace, I have achieved the association of Srila Sanatan Goswami, who adjusts our position in relation to raganuga-bhakti. He explains the path of vaidhi-bhakti, and gives us sambandha-jnan: the knowledge of what is what, a proper acquaintance with the environment.” Then he says, “Gurudev has given me Mathura Mandal, where Radha and Govinda have Their Pastimes; where the forest, the hills, every creeper, shrub, and grain of sand, everyone is bearing the acquaintance of Radha-Krishna-lila, and wherever I shall cast my glance, they will help me in my remembrance of Radha and Govinda. I have received all these things from my Gurudev: Vrndavan, where the cows and the milkmen have their village constructed. I am becoming acquainted with their association, their nature, and their feelings of love for Krishna.
“By the grace of Gurudev, I have become acquainted with Radha Kunda, the favourite place of Radha and Govinda for Their Pastimes, and this great Govardhan. And lastly he has given me the hope that one day I can get the service of Sri Sri Radhika and Madhava. I have been given all these assurances by my Gurudev, so I bow my head with all my respects to his lotus feet.”
Sri Saraswat Arati
Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj
jayare jayare jaya gaura-sarasvati
bhakati-vinodanvaya karuna-murati 
All glory to the voice of Sri Gauranga, the embodiment of Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur’s mercy, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur!
prakasile gaura-seva bhuvana-mangala
bhakati-siddhanta suddha prajnana ujjvala 
He manifested Sri Gauranga’s service for the upliftment of the world. His teaching of devotion is pure, brilliant, and enlightening.
radha-syama eka-tanu dakse gora-raya
bame radha madhye svayam syama-gopa jaya 
All glory to the combined form of Radha-Syam, Sri Gaura Ray, on the right, Sri Radha on the left, and the dark cowherd boy Himself in the middle!
vraja-rasa nava-bhave navadvipe raje
udare madhura raga abhinava saje 
Vraja’s rasa manifests in a new way in Nabadwip: madhura-rasa dresses newly in benevolence.
madhurya kaivalya raga vrajera niryasa
prapti parakastha tahe gauranga-vilasa 
Sweet divine love, Vraja’s essence, reaches its climax in Sri Gauranga’s Pastimes.
radha bhava-kanti angikari’ bhala-mate
daksine asana rasa garima dekhate 
Sri Gauranga earnestly embraces Sri Radha’s heart and halo, and takes His place on the right to show His rasa’s glory.
radha-rasa-traya-svada rahasya prayasa
nirakhi praphulla radha mukhe manda hasa 
Seeing Krishna’s secret endeavour to taste Her threefold rasa, Radha is fulfilled and smiles gently.
madhye rahi’ vamsi-rave ghose vamsi-dhara
“radhara sampade ami gauranga-sundara 
Remaining in the middle, the Flute Player declares with the song of His flute, “With Radha’s wealth, I am Gaurangasundar!
mad abhistha rupa radhara hrdaya-mandire
gauranga bhajile susthu sphurti paya tare” 
“If you serve Gauranga, My form which is cherished in the Temple of Radha’s heart will be fully revealed to you.”
nadiya prakase mahaprabhu gaura-nidhi
patita-pavana-deve milaila vidhi 
Gauranga Mahaprabhu appeared in Nadia, and Providence combined the saviour of the fallen (the Kali-yuga-avatar) within Him.
e-rupa arati brahma sambhu agochara
gaura-bhakta krpa-patra matra siddhi sara 
This type of arati is unknown to Brahma and Siva. Only a recipient of Sri Gauranga’s devotees’ mercy reaches such perfection.
sri svarupa, ramananda, rupa, sanatana
sri raghu, jivadi krpaya dekhe bhakta-jana 
Devotees see this arati by the mercy of Sri Svarup Damodar, Sri Ramananda Ray, Sri Rupa, Sri Sanatan, Sri Raghunath, Sri Jiva, and their associates.
jaya dao bhakta vrnda nitya nirantara 
All glory to Sri Guru, Gauranga, and Radha-Govindasundar! O devotees, glorify Them always and forever!
Chapters 1, 3, 22, 24 are from Sri Chaitanya Saraswati, originally edited and printed by Sripad Swarupananda Prabhu.
Chapter 14 is from Sri Gaudiya Darshan (Sri Gaura-Purnima 1996), originally edited and printed by Sripad Swarupananda Prabhu.
Chapter 2 is from Exclusive Guardianship, originally edited and printed by Mahananda Das Bhakti Ranjan.
Chapters 4, 16, 18–21, 23, 25 are from Sri Gaudiya Darshan, originally edited and printed by Mahananda Das Bhakti Ranjan.
Chapters 5–7 are from Divine Message, originally edited and printed by Sripad Swarupananda Prabhu.
Chapters 8–13, 17, 26 are from Counterpoint, originally edited and printed by Sripad Devashis Prabhu.
Chapter 15 is from Guardian of Devotion (Kolkata edition), originally edited by Sripad B.M. Puri Maharaj.