Revealed Truth2017-03-22T05:52:37+00:00
ALL GLORY TO SRI GURU AND SRI GAURANGA

REVEALED TRUTH

A compilation of discourses
illuminating the essence of
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s teachings

By
His Divine Grace

Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj

Contents

Preface

Dasa-Mula-Tattva

Section 1 Revelation

Chapter 1 Amnaya

Chapter 2 Heart-to-Heart Transmission

Chapter 3 The Lotus Feet of Sri Gurudev

Section 2 The Supreme Personality of Godhead

Chapter 4 The Supreme Controller

Chapter 5 The Emporium of All Rasa

Section 3 The Soul

Chapter 6 The Evolution of Consciousness

Chapter 7 The Waves of Birth and Death

Chapter 8 The Waves of Kama and Prema

Section 4 Achintya-Bhedabheda-Siddhanta

Chapter 9 Perfect Harmony

Section 5 Pure Devotion

Chapter 10 Spiritual Evolution

Chapter 11 Spiritual Revolution

Chapter 12 Surrender

Chapter 13 The Transcendental Service World

Chapter 14 The Transcendental Vibration Form of the Lord

Chapter 15 Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s Mood of Devotion

Chapter 16 Serving Under Proper Guidance

Chapter 17 Recognising Devotion

Section 6 Krishna-Prema

Chapter 18 Inconceivable Glory

Chapter 19 The Next Edition of Radha-Krishna’s Pastimes

Chapter 20 The Finest Conception

Dasa-Vidha Namaparadha

About the Author

Svarupodbodhana

End Notes

Preface

I begin by offering my obeisance to the lotus feet of my Divine Master, Om Visnupad Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj, praying that this offering may satisfy his heart and that by his grace I may make this offering with all the chastity, sincerity, love, and affection that he desires from his aspiring servitors. Next I offer my obeisances to all the aspiring servitors of Srila Govinda Maharaj’s lotus feet, as it is by their mercy that I am so fortunate as to have a connection with His Divine Grace and the opportunity to make this offering. Finally, I offer my obeisances to all the readers who open their hearts to the divine teachings presented in this book.

I would like to explain the origin of this compilation. Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj has travelled the world twenty-four times over the last eighteen years preaching the teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur, and Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj. A relatively boundless mine of Srila Govinda Maharaj’s recorded discourses now exists. Revealed Truth is an attempt to excavate, prepare, and array a collection of gems from this mine.

Considering that both content and organisation are elements of revelation, in Revealed Truth content from Srila Govinda Maharaj’s lectures has been structured according to one of Srila Govinda Maharaj’s favoured models of presentation: the Dasa-mula-tattva, Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur’s consolidation of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s siddhanta into ten fundamental principles. Sriman Mahaprabhu delineated the whole of revealed knowledge using three foundational concepts: sambandha, abhidheya, and prayojan. He summarised these as Krishna, Krishna-bhakti, and Krishna-prema. More specifically, sambandha-jnan means understanding Krishna, His energies, and their relationships; abhidheya means the practice of pure devotion to Krishna; and prayojan means the ultimate necessity of every soul: love for Krishna. Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur summarises Sriman Mahaprabhu’s teachings on sambandha, abhidheya, and prayojan in the introductory verse of his Dasa-mula-tattva, in effect, encapsulating the whole of Gaudiya Vaisnava siddhanta in a single verse. Revealed Truth presents Srila Govinda Maharaj’s lectures as an exposition of this verse and the ten principles it summarises.

The aim of Revealed Truth is not to publish particular discourses of Srila Govinda Maharaj, as has been done in previous publications, but to expound prominent themes within the compass of Srila Govinda Maharaj’s preaching by weaving together content from numerous lectures with the hope of making the profundity of Srila Govinda Maharaj’s realisations and teachings clearly accessible. To further this end, Revealed Truth’s typographic scheme arrays images, captions, verse translations, and scriptural references beside the text to augment its themes. All translation has been done with reference to commentaries by Srila Visvanath Chakravarti Thakur, Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur, and other Acharyas in the Rupanuga sampradaya.

I encourage readers to approach this book with a faithful heart and prayerful mood. As terminology, concepts, and moods are being presented in the text, I request readers to move through the text with confidence that any term or concept that is not immediately explained will be addressed later on. Furthermore, I enthusiastically entreat readers to seek out the association of Srila Govinda Maharaj’s disciples, wherein clarification regarding his teachings can be gained.

As I introduce Revealed Truth I feel compelled to honour the devotees who helped with this project. It is not possible to mention all the devotees who contributed in various ways, so I pray that everyone with whom I had the fortune to collaborate with on this project will consider that here and now I am expressing my heart’s appreciation for their assistance. I must mention, however, the late Sripad Bhakti Premik Siddhanti Maharaj, who left the world just prior to the completion of this work. It was my hope to bring joy to his heart by completing Revealed Truth during his last days, as it was Sripad Siddhanti Maharaj who requested me to compile this book, enthusiastically supported its conceptual structure, and supplied me with a portion of its material.

In closing I wish to state my objective that this book serve as an enlightening source of inspiration for everyone to practise pure devotion.

guru-mukha padma vakya chittete kariya aikya
ara na kariha mane asa
(Sri Prema-bhakti-chandrika: 1.2)

“Make the teachings from Sri Gurudev’s lotus mouth one with your heart. Do not desire anything else and all of your desires will be fulfilled (ye prasade pure sarva asa).”

Arjuna expresses such earnest attachment for the words of his Guru, Sri Govinda Himself, in Srimad Bhagavatam:

desa-kalartha-yuktani hrt-tapopasamani cha
haranti smaratas chittam govindabhihitani me
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 1.15.27)

“Sri Govinda’s words are imbued with novel import throughout all of time and space, and extinguish the fire of worldly existence—the fire of separation—that burns in my heart. Remembering them captivates my soul.”

By reading Revealed Truth with attachment for our beloved Srila Govinda Maharaj like that of Arjuna for Sri Govinda, sincere souls will be able to extract the maximum from the discourses compiled herein and feel the wave of revelation flowing from Srila Gurudev’s heart into theirs.

Sri Gaura-jana-kinkar,

Kamal Krishna Das

8 March 2010

Kolkata, India ⬆︎

Dasa-Mula-Tattva

The Ten Fundamental Principles

amnayah praha tattvam harim iha paramam sarva-saktim rasabdhim
tad-bhinnamsams cha jivan prakrti-kavalitan tad-vimuktams cha bhavat
bhedabheda-prakasam sakalam api hareh sadhanam suddha-bhaktim
sadhyam tat-pritim evety upadisati janan gaurachandrah svayam sah
(Dasa-mula-tattva-niryasa)

iha–In this world; amnayah–knowledge revealed through Guru-parampara; praha–states; tattvam–the Truth; harim paramam–Sri Hari is supreme; sarva-saktim–He possesses all potencies; rasabdhim–He is an ocean of rasa. jivan cha–Also, the souls; tad bhinnamsan–are His separated parts. prakrti-kavalitan–They are covered by maya; tad vimuktan cha–or liberated from maya; bhavat–by desire. sakalam api–Yet everything—the entire spiritual and material creation; bhedabheda-prakasam–is a different and nondifferent manifestation; hareh–of Sri Hari. suddha-bhaktim–Pure devotion; sadhanam–is the means; tat pritim–love for Sri Hari; eva sadhyam–is the only goal. iti–This; sah–He; gaurachandrah–Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu; svayam–Himself; upadisati–teaches; janan–the souls.

“Sri Gaurachandra personally teaches the souls that (1) revealed knowledge establishes the Truth: (2) Hari is supreme, (3) He is omnipotent, (4) He is an ocean of rasa, (5) the souls are His separated parts, (6) they are either covered by material energy, (7) or liberated from material energy by devotion, (8) everything is a manifestation distinct and non-distinct from Hari, (9) pure devotion is the way, and (10) love for Hari is the goal.”

Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj:

“Within this one verse, which conveys the gist of the Dasa-mula-tattva, Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur has given us everything. He has given us the whole conception of Mahaprabhu Sri Chaitanyadev and Krishna consciousness. If you can read and memorise this verse, then everything will be within you: the full conception of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur, Srila Guru Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj, and Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math. Everything, the gist of all revealed knowledge (amnaya), is within this one verse.

“But don’t try to understand this verse by yourself. Hear it from an expert. Everywhere throughout all the scriptures this advice is given: ‘You must hear from an expert.’ So hear this verse from an expert who knows its meaning. If you hear from him with full faith, you will understand properly what is what, and you will get everything.” ⬆︎

Section One

Revelation

Dasa-mula-tattva

Truth One:

amnayah praha tattvam

Revealed knowledge establishes the Truth.

Chapter One

Amnaya

Amnaya means knowledge that has descended from the transcendental world into this material world for the benefit of all souls. You can call that knowledge ‘spiritual’ or ‘transcendental’ or ‘divine’. The main idea is that it has descended from above; it has not been formed by anything of this world. We can understand everything about who we are (sambandha), what the goal of our life should be (prayojan), and how we can attain that (abhidheya) through amnaya.

How amnaya, revealed knowledge, exists in this world can be understood through the example of the Ganges River. Previously the civilisation of India was called the Ganga-sabhyata, “The civilisation of the Ganges”. Everyone throughout India has respect for the Ganges and has faith that Mother Ganges comes down to this world from the lotus feet of the Lord in the transcendental world. As the Ganges comes down through the heavens, Lord Siva takes her on his head, breaks her force, and then allows her to flow gently over the surface of the earth. Everyone understands that the Ganges descends from the Lord’s abode in this way and then flows down from the Himalayas across India to the ocean in the Bay of Bengal, or the Ganga Sagar, as it is known in India. As the Ganges flows across India many dirty things can be found within her waters, but everyone understands that the Ganges never loses her transcendental nature even when she appears dirty materially. Ganges water is understood to come down from the Lord’s lotus feet and to always be fully transcendental. People understand that no matter how dirty her water may appear, the Ganges’ waters spiritual nature is never polluted or removed by anything material. So even though the Ganges appears to be polluted, everyone understands that Ganges water is always spiritually purifying and that even the auspicious breeze blowing off the Ganges brings a spiritual mood of devotion to the conditioned souls of this world.

Subtle transmission

Through this example of the Ganges we can understand that when amnaya descends into this realm it will never lose its transcendental nature, even though it may mix with our material minds, language, and experience. Still, our intelligence cannot conceive of how the Ganges descends from the transcendental realm or how revealed truth appears in this world. To adjust this we can consider that now in the scientific age so many things exist around us that no one could have conceived of in the past. Only now can we conceive that a signal can be broadcast through the ether, picked up by a receiver, and then played on a television or radio in a distant place. Now in the scientific age we understand that transmission can happen through subtle means. We can learn from the work of the scientists that it is not unreasonable to try to connect with the higher transcendental world just because the medium for our connection with the transcendental plane is not physical. The scientists have shown everyone that clear communication is possible through subtle means. So we only need to discover the proper channel of revelation and how we can make ourselves a proper receiver capable of receiving transmission from the transcendental realm. Then everything will be revealed to us.

Making ourselves proper receivers begins with faith and prayer. When a house is built it is wired so that electricity is available throughout the house. Without electricity a house is dark at night. But when electricity powers the lights within a house, everything can be seen—what is inside the house and what is outside the house. By ourselves, with only our mundane faculties, we are in darkness and cannot imagine the light of divine life. But if we open our hearts and desire that new light appear there, if we pray that our hearts may be clean enough to receive transcendental knowledge, then happily that knowledge will appear within us. As wires carry electricity, so our hearts have the capacity to receive transmissions from the transcendental realm. Faith and prayer from our heart can bring us new life and light from the transcendental world.

Revelation of the Infinite

Our Guru Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj, once visited a group called the Arya Samaj in West India. A man from this group challenged him, “You say that Krishna is infinite, but you also say you can understand Krishna and you have knowledge of Krishna. You are finite. So how can Krishna be infinite? If the finite can know the infinite, then how can it be infinite?” Srila Guru Maharaj quickly responded, “You are right. It is not possible for the finite to know the infinite by its own power. But if Krishna cannot make Himself known to the finite, then He is not infinite. The Infinite must also be able to reveal Himself to the finite, otherwise He is not infinite.” That man could not argue with this and was very happily defeated by Srila Guru Maharaj. There is no question whether Krishna can reveal Himself to us.

The Lord is not powerless. He has the capacity to reveal Himself, and He is merciful. By His mercy Krishna descends to this world to fulfil our prayers in so many different forms. Sometimes He Himself comes with His full transcendental paraphernalia, sometimes He sends His Avatars, and sometimes He sends divinely empowered souls. In all these forms He descends to this world to bestow His affection and divine connection upon the fortunate jiva-souls.

Enlightening power

When transcendental knowledge appears in our hearts by the will of Lord Krishna, we will develop the capacity to understand our eternal relationship with Him.[1] Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur said, “Seeing a light bulb shining indicates it is connected to a power source.” When we will see and understand things clearly in our heart we will know we are connected with a source of divine power. It is only necessary for us to give that divine light clear entrance and a clean position in our heart. We are not in control of the flow of revelation, but if we are faithful, submissive, and surrendered, then we can attract revelation’s flow and feel its presence in our hearts. And when the descending flow of transcendental knowledge wants to reveal itself in our hearts it must reveal itself; we will not be able to check it actually.

Still, from our present position, we are not able to understand everything.

nayam atma pravachanena labhyo
na medhaya na bahuna srutena
yam evaisa vrnute tena labhyas
tasyaisa atma vivrnute tanum svam

(Katha-upanisad: 1.2.23)

Our ordinary mental power, intelligence, and learning do not give us entrance into transcendental reality. Only when the Lord reveals Himself in our hearts can we understand Him. This means we can come to know Him only by surrendering to His enlightening power. And whenever we feel the presence of that type of perfect light-connection in our life we must be happy and think that we are proceeding rightly towards our transcendental destiny. As that happens we will begin to understand everything. But until that happens we can’t really understand anything. So, once we have adjusted ourselves to be faithful receivers of the Lord’s revelation, we need to connect with Him through the proper channel in which His enlightening power flows. Once we have prepared ourselves we must try to connect with the Lord and His amnaya through the proper channel. Then everything will be revealed in our hearts. It is sure that through the proper connection with the proper channel, amnaya will appear in our hearts.[2] We only need to proceed in our spiritual life with faith, with chastity and sincerity, with love and affection, and try to receive transcendental knowledge through the proper channel.

Vedic culture

The proper channel means a connection with a Vedic source. It means Vedic culture, Vedic scriptures, and Vedic saints. Vedic culture means amnaya-parampara, the descending flow of transcendental knowledge through heart-to-heart transmission. Through the channel of amnaya-parampara transcendental knowledge descends from above and flows through this world like the Ganges River. Sometimes people think Vedic culture started when Vedic scriptures were written but this is not the truth. Actually, Vedic culture manifested during the creation of the universe.

At the beginning of creation, Brahma, the first created being within the universe, awoke and found that everything was dark. He could not see anything. Eventually he heard a sound, “Tapa!” In this form of divya-saraswati, transcendental sound vibration, the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krishna initiated Brahma. Krishna Himself acted as the first Guru of everyone in this mundane world by giving consciousness of Himself to Brahma, the creator. Tapa means ‘meditate’. Brahma meditated and Lord Krishna appeared in his heart. After this Brahma could see and also understand what his work was to be. Then he began creating everything within the universe. Later Brahma gave the consciousness he received from Krishna to Narad Rsi, and Narad Rsi gave it to Vedavyas. Vedavyas then distributed that transcendental knowledge to everyone. In this way transcendental knowledge came down into this world at the very beginning of creation and then began to spread from heart to heart.

Transcendental research

This process of revelation is called Guru-parampara, or amnaya-parampara, and it is the proper channel to approach the Lord. By hearing from a higher source, from a qualified Guru, serving him, and meditating on his instructions, transcendental knowledge is revealed to a sincere seeker. This is the meaning of ‘proper channel’ and this was the process in the previous ages of the Vedic culture.

There was no writing or scripture involved originally: only hearing, serving, and learning from Sri Gurudev. Someone who could receive transcendental knowledge in this way and also reveal new light about the transcendental world to others was known as a rsi. Srila Guru Maharaj explained that rsi means a ‘research scholar’. This is a very nice expression. It means that someone will only become well-known as a rsi if they have great research capacity, if they are able to reveal new light from the transcendental world that is essential for everyone’s spiritual and material lives.

Vedic scripture

The discoveries of the great rsis who received light from the transcendental world were later organised and compiled into scriptures by Vedavyas. Vyas, or Vedavyas, is a title which means Veda-vistara-kari, one who spreads Veda by putting it into suitable written form. Veda means the consciousness given by amnaya, revealed knowledge that is essential in the lives of everyone. A Vedavyas is actually a Saktyaves-avatar, an incarnation of the Lord in the form of an empowered jiva-soul who has the capacity to spread amnaya.

Hinduism, Vedic culture, and Indian culture come from the rulings of Vedavyas. All religious groups within India, mostly Hindu groups, still follow Vedavyas’ teachings and the Manu-samhita, the laws of mankind. Krishna Dvaipayan was the name of the rsi who performed the service of compiling the scriptures in the recent age and became known as Vedavyas.[3]

The discoveries of the rsis were very broad. The rsis understood everything about all aspects of life, both material and spiritual. Krishna Dvaipayan Vedavyas collected all of their research and mixed it with material examples so that the conditioned souls could understand it. Then he divided and presented their research in different scriptures to be taught to students within the schools of Vedic culture. In this way he composed the four Vedas—the Rg-veda, Sama-veda, Yajur-veda, and Atharva-veda—the Ayurveda scripture, and the fifth Veda, the Mahabharata.

These scriptures are so vast; they are huge books. The Mahabharata alone has over one hundred thousand verses in it. We have heard that there is also another part of the Mahabharata found only in heaven that has even more verses. But even within the one hundred thousand verses of our Mahabharata here, there are so many stories; we cannot even conceive how many stories. They are all very sweet, hopeful stories, but sometimes they are mixed with some alloy, some themes which are not purely devotional. Still, they are all related to religion and always give us remembrance of the fundamental questions of life: “Who are you? Why are you suffering in the illusory environment? What is the cause of everything?” All the scriptures are always giving us this consciousness. Questions about who we are and what the goal of our life should be are the fundamental basis of all religious thought.

Scriptural gist

The Mahabharata presents everything to us, but, along with the other Vedas, it is so vast. We could not finish reading all of the Vedic scriptures even within an entire lifetime. Also, the knowledge given in the Vedas is widely differentiated; there are sections that describe all the different aspects of life. If we try to learn everything just by reading the Vedas ourselves, we become lost in a jungle of knowledge. Considering that this would happen, Vedavyas felt his work was not sufficient. He then composed the one hundred and eight Upanisads.

The Vedas are very big. The Upanisads are much shorter. They present all the ideals found in the Vedas in a much shorter form.[4] But the Upanisads are still so many, so Vedavyas finally composed the Vedanta-darsana.

Within the Vedanta-darsana is present the gist of all revealed knowledge and all the previous scriptures. When Vedavyas wanted to give the substance of the whole of Vedic literature in a very short way, he presented the Vedanta-darsana. Within the Vedanta-darsana there are only very short sutras, codes, but there is so much light and so much knowledge within each and every one of them.

Clarifying the essence

Vedavyas wanted to present everything in the sutras of his Vedanta-darsana. He did this, but the sutras contain so much condensed knowledge that they are very difficult to properly understand. Only a very highly qualified person can properly understand the condensed knowledge of the Vedanta-darsana. General persons are not able to understand it. We have seen that now there are also many wrong interpretations of the Vedanta-darsana being presented that were not intended by Vedavyas. These wrong interpretations create confusion and many mistaken theories which lead towards mayavad, illusionism, and nastikavad, atheism.

Vedavyas wanted that everyone would understand the gist of the Vedas through his writings, especially the Vedanta-darsana, and when he saw that this was not happening, he felt unsatisfied. He thought, “I have given so much knowledge to rescue the conditioned souls. I have given so many things for their benefit. Why am I not feeling peace in my heart? Why am I not fully satisfied? Why is my work unsatisfactory? I cannot understand.”

As Vedavyas was thinking in this way his Gurudev, Narad Goswami, came to visit him by the will of Lord Krishna. Vedavyas was very happy to see Narad Goswami. He received him and worshipped him. Then Vedavyas asked him, “Prabhu, why am I unhappy? You know everything, and you can understand why I am unhappy. Please explain this to me.” Narad Goswami said, “Yes, I can explain everything; it is for this purpose that I have come to visit you.”

Then Narad Goswami chastised Vedavyas: “What you have given the conditioned souls is actually not sufficient.

jugupsitam dharma-krte ’nusasatah
svabhava-raktasya mahan vyatikramah
yad-vakyato dharma ititarah sthito
na manyate tasya nivaranam janah

(Srimad Bhagavatam: 1.5.15)

Jugupsitam dharma-krte ’nusasatah: you have explained religion in khichuri form; everything is mixed together. That is tasteful to the conditioned souls, and they will no doubt enjoy with that. But you have left a puzzle for anyone who wants to transcend this mundane world. They will be frustrated when they try to find the clear path to the spiritual world. The conditioned souls are always active, and they need to know which path is best for them to follow and what their destination should be. Should they follow the path of karma-yoga, the path of action? Jnana-yoga, the path of knowledge? Astanga-yoga, the path of meditation? Karma-misra-bhakti, the path of devotion mixed with action? Jnana-misra-bhakti, the path of devotion mixed with knowledge? This has not been clearly explained.

“What should be their ideal conception? Brahma conception, the conception of the nondifferentiated Absolute? Paramatma conception, the conception of the Supreme Soul? Bhagavat conception, the conception of the Supreme Personality of Godhead? You have not explained these things clearly, and you have not explained what is Supreme. It is necessary for you to clarify this to complete your work and truly benefit the conditioned souls.

“The conditioned souls can’t conceive that their greatest benefit will come to them through service and dedication to the Lord. They only understand exploitation. When they see the bad reactions they receive in the plane of exploitation they seek relief in the plane of renunciation. But there they lose everything; the jiva-souls cannot find the fulfilment of their existence in impersonal liberation. Only in the plane of dedication and service to the Lord is everything existing beautifully in harmony with the jiva-souls’ true nature. You have not explained this to the conditioned souls.”

Religion for the enlightened

Narad Goswami continued, “You have already given medicine for rogis, sick men, in the Vedas, Upanisads, and so on, but you have not explained what is nourishing to strong and healthy men. Your duty is to provide nourishment for everyone. You have given the medicine needed to release the conditioned souls from their suffering. You have given them the clue to find relief. But you have not given any nourishment to the healthy persons, liberated souls, who know they are transcendental, have goodwill, and want further nourishment. You are the supreme authority on religion; no one can change, or argue with, your conclusions. But what you have done is wrong and you must correct it.

“You have said, ‘Raso vai Sah: the Supreme is rasa.’ That is very good. But what is that rasa actually? There are so many forms of ecstasy. What is the supreme form of ecstasy? If a jiva-soul enters the emporium of ecstasy, how will he know what he wants and what is best for him? You have not clearly given that knowledge to the jiva-souls. So what have you actually distributed?

“You began the Vedanta-darsana with, ‘Athato Brahma jijnasa: now search for the Supreme.’ But who will understand that this actually means, ‘Search for Sri Krishna—Reality the Beautiful’? Who will understand that Sri Krishna’s divine form coupled with Radharani is the emporium of all ecstasy (raso vai Sah)?”[5]

The divine play in seed form

In this way, according to the conception of Srila Guru Maharaj, Narad Goswami chastised Vedavyas. Then Vedavyas folded his palms and asked Narad Goswami, “Prabhu, what should I do now?

Narad Goswami said, “Try to give Krishna consciousness to the jiva-souls by describing and distributing Krishna-lila, the divine Pastimes of Sri Krishna. Krishna-lila is not only the property of the mundane world; it is the property of Goloka Vrndavan, the highest realm of the spiritual world. I will give you in four short notes the seed form of that divine play, the gist form of that knowledge. You are qualified; you have the capacity to meditate. Plant these seeds in your heart and meditate, and they will reveal their full form to you. With proper vision you will see everything cleanly and clearly. Then you can express that through your writing and distribute it all over the world. You will be fully satisfied and happy with that.”

Narad Goswami properly and authentically gave the Bhagavat-chatuh-sloki mantram to Vedavyas, that is, transcendental light and knowledge of ananya-bhakti, exclusive devotion.[6] Vedavyas meditated and saw Lord Krishna Himself in his heart along with all of His potencies. Then, with inspiration from the chatuh-sloki mantram, plus the twelve verses of chastisement from Narad Goswami, and the idea to write a commentary on his Vedanta-darsana, Vedavyas composed his final work, his supreme scripture—Srimad Bhagavatam.

The supreme conclusion

Within Srimad Bhagavatam four sittings are described in which the Bhagavat’s message—the message which Narad Goswami received from Brahma and Brahma received from Krishna Himself at the beginning of creation—was transmitted. The first sitting was the meeting of Narad Goswami and Vedavyas. The next sitting was the meeting of Vedavyas and his son Sukadev Goswami. The third sitting happened at Sukratala, where Sukadev Goswami spoke to Maharaj Pariksit. The fourth sitting happened at Naimisaranya, where a disciple of Sukadev Goswami, Suta Goswami, spoke to 60,000 rsis who were assembled for a fire sacrifice. After these four sittings Vedavyas collected everything that was expressed, gradually composed Srimad Bhagavatam, and then gave it to the world.

In this way Vedavyas wrote his own commentary on the Vedanta-darsana and clearly explained everything about revealed knowledge for everyone. With full satisfaction in his heart he presented his introduction to Srimad Bhagavatam in a simple way: “This Srimad Bhagavatam is my last will and testament. It contains the highest knowledge—pure Krishna consciousness—and any jiva-soul who can follow its directives will attain the supreme goal of life. They will attain a liberated position, get entrance into the transcendental service world, and happily play with the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krishna in full love, affection, and ecstasy.”

Vedavyas also concluded Srimad Bhagavatam with full satisfaction:

sarva-vedanta-saram hi srimad-bhagavatam isyate
tad-rasamrta-trptasya nanyatra syad ratih kvachit

(Srimad Bhagavatam: 12.13.15)

Srimad Bhagavatam contains the gist of all the Vedas, the Vedanta-darsana, and the Upanisads. Anyone who once reads Srimad Bhagavatam will never become attracted to any other scripture; one will only continue without interruption to drink the transcendental nectar of Srimad Bhagavatam.”

srimad-bhagavatam puranam amalam yad vaisnavanam priyam
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 12.13.18)

“There was something wrong with what I presented previously, but here in Srimad Bhagavatam there is nothing wrong; everything is clean and clear. Srimad Bhagavatam is puranam amalam, the spotless Purana, and, yad Vaisnavanam priyam, all the Vaisnavas have accepted it very dearly within their hearts.”

In this way we can understand,

artho ’yam brahma-sutranam bharatartha-vinirnayah
gayatri-bhasya-rupo ’sau vedartha-paribrmhitah

(Garuda-purana)

Srimad Bhagavatam presents full knowledge of the sutras of the Vedanta-darsana. It is the natural commentary on the Vedanta-darsana, the Mahabharata, and the gayatri-mantram; all knowledge, everything, is presented in Srimad Bhagavatam.”

If you can follow the conception of Srimad Bhagavatam you will understand the gist of all revealed truth, all amnaya. ⬆︎

Chapter Two

Heart-to-Heart Transmission

Question: We hear that all truth is present in the scriptures, specifically Srimad Bhagavatam, but how do we know when we are supposed to take the expressions in the scriptures literally or figuratively? How do we understand what the scriptures are really trying to say?

Srila Govinda Maharaj: How will we understand anything about the scriptures? We must first enter into a school. When we are admitted into a school we are given appropriate lessons for our level by our teacher. When I am studying in a school I pass through class one to class two, then to class three, and so on. In each class what I am taught is not exactly the same. Each higher class does not present everything in the same way as the previous classes do. But whatever I learn in each class is appropriate and beneficial for me at my level.

The Vedas, Vedanta, Upanisads, Srimad Bhagavatam, and other scripture are an ocean, and they contain so many verses which have many different meanings. Ultimately, they are all guiding us towards the same goal—Krishna-bhakti—but we are not always able to understand that. Sometimes it is very difficult to see that actually. Many different practising processes are explained in the various scriptures: karma-yoga, jnana-yoga, astanga-yoga, bhakti-yoga, and others. If we want to understand the real advice of all the scriptures, if we want to understand where the scriptures’ knowledge is trying to take our consciousness, then it is first necessary to faithfully study the scriptural lessons that are appropriate for us in a school, under the guidance of a proper teacher. That is the best process.

We must be very conscious about reading the scriptures. The scriptures are not the easiest thing to understand. Srimad Bhagavad-gita explains how a student should approach a teacher to learn spiritual knowledge:

tad viddhi pranipatena pariprasnena sevaya
upadeksyanti te jnanam jnaninas tattva-darsinah

(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 4.34)

Here it is explained that a student must be a little qualified to approach a teacher. Srimad Bhagavad-gita says, “First be surrendered, then enquire and serve. Your Guru will want to hear your questions and bestow his mercy upon you if you are really surrendered to him, you are humble, and you have real hankering.” First approach Gurudev through surrender; then serve him. Surrender alone is not sufficient. Surrendered service to Gurudev is the main thing that will give the sincere seeker the proper result in his search for transcendental knowledge. Someone may acquire general knowledge in other ways, but without pranipat, surrender; pariprasna, sincere enquiry; and seva, service, transcendental knowledge will not reveal itself in the heart.

When a student is a little qualified in this way and finds a Guru who is a qualified teacher, the student must surrender to him, ask him questions, and serve him. Everything will be revealed in the heart of the qualified sincere seeker by the qualified Guru when the disciple is enriched with these three qualities of surrender, enquiry and service—enriched with a mood of devotion. When that mood is present, everything will be set right: the Guru’s heart will be melted by that student’s sincere approach, and the Guru will be ready to teach the student. By this process the student will understand, through the melted heart of his Guru, the essence of all the scriptures—everything that is to be found within the Vedas, Vedanta, Upanisads, Srimad Bhagavatam, and the other scriptures. This is how we should try to learn the scriptures.

Spiritual experts

We can see that the scriptures themselves always advise us about the position and necessity of the proper teacher, the sadhu. In Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta, Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami advises us:

yaha, bhagavata pada vaisnavera sthane[7]
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Antya-lila, 5.131)

“Go to the Vaisnava, the devotee, and hear from him the meaning of Srimad Bhagavatam; only read Srimad Bhagavatam in the association of the Vaisnavas.”

Without the Vaisnava we cannot understand the meaning of Srimad Bhagavatam, and we will undoubtedly proceed in the wrong direction. It is necessary to hear the explanation of Srimad Bhagavatam, or any scripture, from some expert. Only when we hear from an expert can we understand the real meaning of Srimad Bhagavatam. Our knowledge is very limited. Nobody can say, “I am full with all knowledge.” Even Srila Guru Maharaj told us, “I am a student. You consider yourselves masters? I consider myself to be a student, and all of you to be students. Nobody is a master.”

It was Srila Guru Maharaj’s conception that we are all students. Therefore we must try to understand what our lessons are from a proper teacher. Through one who understands the essence of the lessons we are to learn, we can easily understand what our lessons are. It is very difficult to understand otherwise. We may make wrong interpretations, not understanding the real meaning of the scriptures, and we may be deceived. It is necessary to hear the meaning of Srimad Bhagavatam from a proper interpreter and servitor of Krishna like Srila Guru Maharaj.

Srimad Bhagavatam itself has given two formulas for understanding Srimad Bhagavatam. One prescribes reading Srimad Bhagavatam, and the other prohibits reading Srimad Bhagavatam. If someone suddenly opens Srimad Bhagavatam and follows what comes in front of them, then they will proceed in the wrong way. It is necessary to harmonise the whole of Srimad Bhagavatam’s conception. And who can harmonise it? Only one who knows the fundamental basis and full meaning of Srimad Bhagavatam.

There are so many things written in the scriptures, and they are no doubt very good things. But because we have limited knowledge we can also easily misunderstand the words of the scriptures. We must discuss the scriptures with a sadhu to clarify that we are understanding the scriptures properly.

satam prasangan mama virya-samvido
bhavanti hrt-karna-rasayanah kathah
taj-josanad asv apavarga-vartmani
sraddha ratir bhaktir anukramisyati

(Srimad Bhagavatam: 3.25.25)

The Lord Himself explains in Srimad Bhagavatam: “Discussions about Me heard in the association of My pure devotees nourish your ears and hearts; they fill your souls with ecstasy. Only when someone proceeds in their spiritual life under the guidance of My devotees will they naturally develop proper faith, attachment, and devotion.”

What is written in books and what is heard directly from the sadhu are two completely different things! What we may read or hear outside the association of the sadhu is not hrt-karna-rasayanah kathah: nectarean words which nourish our hearts and fill us with ecstasy. Only when we hear from the sadhu are we receiving something in the proper channel, receiving something descending down from Goloka Vrndavan through the hearts of our parampara’s Gurus which is perfect and necessary for our spiritual life. Only when we hear in the proper channel from the sadhu is there a transmission of the power which reveals the essence of the scriptures’ words in our hearts. We are given real entrance into what we hear in the scriptures by the sadhu.[8]

Following the great souls

Yudhisthir Maharaj was a wise man. He was very qualified and had studied so many scriptures: the Vedas, Vedanta, Upanisads, and so on. He also received much advice from various rsis and munis. But after studying so many things he was puzzled and could not find a settled position. “Everything is good; everything is bad. It is good; it is bad. It is good; it is bad. It is good; it is bad.” Yudhisthir Maharaj could not conclude what was the proper way to get relief from the illusory environment and become established in a clean position. Lastly he could only conclude that anyone who tries to discover what religion is simply by reading the scriptures will become crazy.

tarko ’pratisthah srutayo vibhinna
nasav rsir yasya matam na bhinnam
dharmasya tattvam nihitam guhayam
mahajano yena gatah sa panthah[9]

(Mahabharata: Vana-parva, 313.117)

Yudhisthir Maharaj said, “We cannot take the advice of the Vedas directly. Our store of knowledge is very limited, and the knowledge given in the Vedas is very vast. The Vedas explain pratyaksa-jnan, paroksa-jnan [collective knowledge], aparoksa-jnan [subtle knowledge], and adhoksaja-jnan [transcendental knowledge]. Also, the rsis who describe Vedic knowledge present many different interpretations of it and are not always perfect. Parasar Rsi presented one conception; Vasistha Rsi presented another; Chyavan Rsi presented another; and so on. There are so many rsis, and they presented many different conceptions. Thus the jiva-souls become confused; they do not find the truth with only the scriptures, the differing opinions of the rsis, and their own minds. To find the proper conception we must follow the path of the Mahajans, the great souls, in whose hearts the truth is living.”

svayambhur naradah sambhuh kumarah kapilo manuh
prahlado janako bhismo balir vaiyasakir vayam

(Srimad Bhagavatam: 6.3.20)

In Srimad Bhagavatam Vedavyas indicated that Brahma, Narad Rsi, Siva, the four kumaras—Sanaka, Sanatan, Sananda, and Sanat, Kapiladev, Manu, Prahlad Maharaj, Janaka Raja, Bhismadev, Bali Maharaj, Sukadev Goswami, and Yamaraj are all Mahajans. These particular twelve Mahajans are described throughout the scriptures and are so glorious. Their primary qualification is that they are devotees of the Lord. Actually, all great devotees of the Lord should be considered Mahajans.

Once many of these twelve Mahajans who are listed in Srimad Bhagavatam were discussing a verse from Srimad Bhagavad-gita about the position of the Lord’s devotees, but they could not come to a proper conclusion about it.

In the meantime they saw Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur going by, and they called him over: “O Vaisnava Thakur! You know the proper meaning of this verse. Please come and join us.” Then Bhakti Vinod Thakur explained the verse to them, and they were very happy.

Devotees like Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur are the greatest Mahajans, and anyone who follows their guidance will be supremely benefitted.

labhas tesam jayas tesam kutas tesam parabhavah
yesam-indivara-syamo hrdaya-stho janardanah

(Pandava-gita)

“Bhagavan Sri Krishna is living in an effulgent way within the hearts of His dear devotees, and His Pastimes are always going on there very gloriously. Such devotees are truly great souls, Mahajans, and are always happy and successful.”

All directions should lead us toward Lord Krishna and the real Mahajans, Lord Krishna’s pure devotees. We must follow a proper devotee whose activity is top to bottom dedicated to Lord Krishna’s service. His practice and lifestyle will be the perfect example of religious life for us, and his guidance will give us the proper understanding of the scriptures. Discussing the scriptures with qualified Vaisnavas—pure devotees, sadhus—is always the best thing for practitioners. Practitioners know something, no doubt, but they do not know everything. When they discuss scriptural matters, with love and affection, with a qualified sadhu, then they must be benefitted by that—realisation of the proper meaning, feeling, and everything, will come to them.

Religion of the heart

When Krishna wants to reveal transcendental knowledge in your heart through His devotee, it must be revealed. Even you won’t be able to check it. So we need connection with Krishna’s devotees. Thus the actual question is: how can we recognise a genuine devotee, a true religious person? To whom does Krishna reveal Himself?

The first verse to explain this, which explains the theme of our book Religion of the Heart, must be:

vidvadbhih sevitah sadbhir nityam advesa-ragibhih
hrdayenabhyanujnato yo dharmas tam nibhodhata

(Manu-samhita: 2.1)

Srila Guru Maharaj once gave a lecture in the library of Dhanbad before a gathering of many highly qualified pandits and wealthy persons. He started his lecture with this verse. He explained that people think religion is found in books and that those books are written in particular languages, but that religion does not actually come from books or languages: religion is communicated through the transcendental language of heart transaction.

All religion presented in scriptures is first revealed in the hearts of rsis, munis, and sadhus. After it appears in their hearts it is transmitted forward from heart to heart, and it later may take the form of books. So what can we say about religion? How much can we understand it? It is a matter of the heart. How can we feel the beauty and understand the glory of religion if our hearts are presently as filthy as a dustbin? Because our hearts are impure we must try to understand religion from a clean-hearted sadhu.[10]

Qualities of a sadhu

What are the qualities of a sadhu? Vidvadbhih sevitah sadbhir: a perfect sadhu cleanly and clearly understands the Vedas, the Vedanta, and the essence of their directives (vidvadbhih). He always serves their purpose (sevitah). He has no deficiency in simplicity, cleanliness, or proper behaviour (sadbhir). He has control of his six senses, and he has regard for everyone. His only sadness is the suffering of others.

Vedavyas, the author of all the Vedic scriptures, was a true sadhu. He saw so many other sadhus and was also praised by so many sadhus. He knew everything about revealed knowledge. But more so than knowledge and even behaviour, what did he say was the best quality of a sadhu? Nirmatsaranam satam (SB: 1.1.2): the sadhu’s heart is completely clean and clear; there is not even a tiny dirty thing within it. This means that the sadhu is never envious of others (nityam advesa-ragibhih). He has no enviousness or anger and holds full love and affection within his heart for everyone. A sadhu with these qualities who is fully attached to Krishna consciousness is a real Mahajan, a real leader of humanity, and is always rightly engaged in religious service.

krsna-bhakta—niskama, ataeva ‘santa’
bhukti-mukti-siddhi-kami—sakali ‘asanta’

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 19.149)

One who is interested in the mundane—selfish enjoyment, liberation, or supernatural power—is not a sadhu. One who has no desire for selfish enjoyment, who wants to give rather than take, who is always engaged twenty-four hours a day in serving the desires of the divine Lord, he is a sadhu. He alone is a truly peaceful, perfect gentleman. Real religion is the beauty that appears within the heart of such a sadhu, the transcendental feeling revealed in such a sadhu’s heart through his life of service. Whatever advice and instruction such a sadhu expresses is true religious instruction and can never be harmful to anyone. If we will receive a heart transmission from that type of sadhu and follow his guidance, we must feel the benefit of a truly religious life and come to understand the universal religion of all souls (jaiva-dharma). If anyone will proceed according to the guidance of a pure sadhu, then from that launching pad they will happily fly into the sky of virtue and reach the peak of religion. There is no party spirit or sectarian interest in such pure religion.[11]

Universal religion

After Srila Guru Maharaj’s lecture, in which he made many of these points about true religion, one very well-to-do man in the audience spoke: “In the past we have heard about Vaisnava-dharma, and we considered that Vaisnava-dharma was a branch of Hindu dharma. But I am so satisfied with what I have heard from Srila Sridhar Maharaj that I now understand that all religious property is present within Vaisnava-dharma. I now know that Vaisnava-dharma is one; it is the true universal religion, and all other dharmas are subparts of Vaisnava-dharma. I feel now that the universal Vaisnava-dharma is the best thing for all jiva-souls.”

Srila Guru Maharaj’s style was always very broad and perfect. He was always conscious about what he was doing, and he always presented everything according to the scriptures politely with clear logic. Some sannyasis and brahmacharis would present our Param Gurudev’s conception, Srila Saraswati Thakur’s conception, in a hammering way, but Srila Guru Maharaj was completely different from them. I am fortunate that I have heard many things from Srila Guru Maharaj. I have seen that so many people received divine light from him, and that this light became the light of their life.

The law of love and affection

My life in Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math with Srila Guru Maharaj was always very restricted. I would not do anything without the permission of Srila Guru Maharaj. At least I can say for myself that I never did anything that Srila Guru Maharaj did not give me permission to do. When the property of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math was in a critical position I had to go to Kalna every day for two months to defend the Math in court. Each day I would travel from the Math to the court in Kalna and return home, but I would not go anywhere else along the way.

One day Srila Guru Maharaj asked me, “Have you seen the temple of Gauri Das Pandit in Kalna?” I said that I had lived near the temple all my life, but that I had never once seen the temple. Srila Guru Maharaj said, “Next time you go to Kalna offer your dandavat pranam to Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu there.” It was only then that I ever visited that temple. Also, I never visited Mahaprabhu’s sannyas place in Katwa for twenty-eight years until I received the service-order of Srila Guru Maharaj.

Our life was very restricted under Srila Guru Maharaj, but we actually never felt any restriction. We always felt everything to be the natural love and affection of Srila Guru Maharaj. We felt that our service life was guided by Srila Guru Maharaj and we could simply, and happily follow his orders. That was the natural law of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math: everyone would follow the rules automatically with love and affection.

It is always best when people will follow religious rules and regulations naturally with love and affection, with respect and honour. This was the standard we followed in Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math from the beginning, and we never felt the necessity for anything else. In that environment I heard from Srila Guru Maharaj for many years and learned something about the essence of the scriptures, the essence of religion, through him. ⬆︎

Chapter Three

The Lotus Feet of Sri Gurudev

Srila Narottam Das Thakur has explained perfectly the position of Sri Gurudev [the spiritual master] in one of his songs.

sri-guru-charana-padma kevala bhakati-sadma
vando muni savadhana mate

(Sri Prema-bhakti-chandrika: 1.1)

“The lotus feet of Gurudev are the one and only abode of pure devotion.”

We must always be serious in our practice of spiritual life and serious about the glorification of the lotus feet of Gurudev. We do not actually know properly the position and glory of our Gurudev’s lotus feet, so we must always be careful in glorifying Gurudev (vando muni savadhana mate). We do not want to make any offence to Gurudev when we glorify him because offences to Gurudev are great obstacles in our spiritual life.

Lord Krishna Himself has explained Gurudev’s position to us for our benefit in Srimad Bhagavatam:

acharyam mam vijaniyan navamanyeta karhichit
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 11.17.27)

“Carefully remember and consider Gurudev to be Me. Never think he is an ordinary man with a mundane form. As Gurudev, I Myself take on a human form to rescue the conditioned souls and give them a connection with the transcendental abode. You must consider Gurudev to be a nondifferent form of Myself.”

Srila Visvanath Chakravarti Thakur also explained in an even more clear way the position of Gurudev:

saksad dharitvena samasta-sastrair
uktas tatha bhavyata eva sadbhih
kintu prabhor yah priya eva tasya
vande guroh sri-charanaravindam

(Sri Gurvastakam: 7)

“It is written in all the scriptures that Bhagavan Himself manifests in a human form in front of me as Gurudev.”

When Gurudev gives initiation, Krishna reveals Himself, that is, Gurudev is revealed to be Krishna Himself. Krishna reveals Himself through the heart of Gurudev in His transcendental sound vibration form, Sri Hari-nam. Krishna descends through the preceptorial line of Gurus (parampara) into the heart of the disciple through the heart of Gurudev. In that way Gurudev acts as Krishna Himself. Still, Gurudev also has his own personal identity as a servitor of the Lord. He never thinks, “I am Krishna”, but always thinks, “I am the servitor of the servitor of the servitor of Krishna”. In this way Gurudev is Krishna’s dearmost devotee (kintu Prabhor yah priya eva tasya).

Gurudev is a servant of Krishna, but a disciple must still always consider that Krishna is revealing Himself in human form in front of him as Gurudev. The disciple sees Gurudev as a human but knows that Gurudev is not actually human. Gurudev’s actual form is transcendental: he is nondifferent from Krishna Himself. Because this conception of Gurudev is very important and we must be very careful to never lose faith in Gurudev, Narottam Thakur sang: “Vando muni savadhana mate: be careful to not improperly glorify Gurudev in any way.”

When Krishna takes form as Gurudev, He is so merciful to the conditioned souls. There is no doubt about that.

yahara prasade bhai e bhava tariya yai
krsna-prapti haya yaha haite[12]

(Sri Prema-bhakti-chandrika: 1.1)

When Gurudev is worshipped as Sri Krishna Himself, and sincere seekers try to understand the service of Krishna through Gurudev, Krishna is more happy than when He is approached directly. When He is approached through Gurudev, Krishna gives much more help to the sincere seekers; He inspires them in their hearts: “Yes, what you are doing is right. Proceed on.”

The vital conception is that Krishna distributes Himself and no one else can do that. Only when Krishna Himself shows His greatly merciful nature and takes the form of Gurudev can transcendental knowledge be spread to someone’s heart, and only then will someone understand Gurudev’s position.

The chosen one

guru-mukha-padma-vakya chittete kariya aikya
ara na kariha mane asa[13]

(Sri Prema-bhakti-chandrika: 1.2)

If any sincere seeker can follow the advice of Gurudev he must receive Krishna’s mercy. Krishna Himself has given us 200 per cent assurance of that. We must have full faith in the transcendental knowledge that is revealed through Gurudev. It is actually not necessary to follow any advice from any other quarter. It is only necessary to wholeheartedly follow with full faith the teachings, orders, and service responsibilities which come from Gurudev.

sri guru-charane rati sei se uttama-gati
ye prasade pure sarva asa[14]

(Sri Prema-bhakti-chandrika: 1.2)

If you are determined to follow the order of Gurudev properly with chastity and sincerity, then you will get everything through his service (ye prasade pure sarva asa).

Srila Visvanath Chakravarti Thakur gave us this most clear conception: “Gurudev is a teacher and Gurudev is a servitor.” Gurudev is actually Krishna’s supreme servitor (kintu Prabhor yah priya eva tasya). He shows us his form in this way. You will receive full spiritual benefit when you see what Gurudev is doing and how he is satisfying the Lord. You will be most benefitted when you see that he is giving you service for the satisfaction of his divine Lord. When you see Gurudev in this way you will receive all hope and facility to satisfy the Lord.

Transcendental vision

chaksu-dana dila yei janme janme prabhu sei
divya-jnana hrde prokasita[15]

(Sri Prema-bhakti-chandrika: 1.3)

Proper transcendental vision comes to us through Gurudev. Everything in this world is mundane, but the transcendental plane can be revealed anywhere and everywhere within this material world. That’s what makes the transcendental plane transcendent. For example, when a flower falls from a tree we do not care so much for that flower. It may have fallen on the road, and we may smash it as we walk by without caring. But when a flower is offered to the lotus feet of the Deity, or offered to a respectable Vaisnava or Gurudev, then we no longer ignore or disrespect that flower. We take it on our head and give it proper honour. Why? Not because we see anything different about the flower but because our knowledge tells us that it has been offered to the Lord, and whenever anything is offered to the Lord it takes on a transcendental form. This is transcendental vision. Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur said,

ye-dina grhe, bhajana dekhi
grhete goloka bhaya

(Saranagati: 31.6)

“When I see my whole family satisfying the Lord through their activities; when I see their practices like chanting the Holy Name, worshipping the Deity, and offering foods to the Deity; when I see all of the activity in my family is God-centric, then I feel: ‘My family is not mundane and does not live in a mundane environment: it actually has a transcendental form.’”

This sort of transcendental knowledge comes to us through Gurudev, and if we carefully try to observe the environment with that knowledge, then we will be able to see everything transcendentally. If we are a proper practitioner then transcendental feelings must come into our heart. When transcendental knowledge reveals itself in our heart, our vision of the environment automatically changes and we see that what appears to be mundane can actually expand into something spiritual. Our children become spiritual children, and the flowers in our garden become spiritual flowers; everything and everyone we see becomes transcendental when we see them related with the Lord.

Through transcendental vision we will see that Krishna lives in the heart of everyone. We will see that He lives not only within the hearts of humans but within the hearts of all species, all 8,400,000 species in this world. Through our transcendental knowledge our vision changes. Then, whenever we meet anyone, we first courteously say, “Namaskar Sir”. We offer honour in this way to everyone. And who are we honouring? We see that the Lord lives inside everyone’s heart, so we are honouring the Lord: we offer our respect to Him and to the person in whose heart He resides. This type of transcendental knowledge and the mood it brings to our heart of giving honour to others is actually natural for everyone, even though we so often forget it.

I have seen it in many Western countries also. Today when we let someone pass before us they happily said, “Thank you. Happy Christmas.” The person’s heart was melted by our activity, and she expressed her happiness through her blessing. If it was only mundane courtesy that is also very good. When that courtesy will have transcendental feelings behind it, when that courtesy comes from the vision that, “The Lord is living everywhere, and the Lord’s mercy is spread everywhere”, then it will create even more happiness for her, for us, and for everyone.

Anyone who can see the environment in this way must have transcendental knowledge, and that type of transcendental knowledge is revealed in our heart through Gurudev. Gurudev is not a man actually. He shows himself in that way, but as an instrument of the Lord, he has a transcendental form.

True love

Gurudev distributes the full love, beauty, charm, and ecstasy that is existing within Krishna.

prema-bhakti yaha haite avidya vinasa yate
vede gaya yahara charita[16]

(Sri Prema-bhakti-chandrika: 1.3)

Krishna is very near and dear to us as the enjoyer of the universe. Krishna happily enjoys everything we offer to Him, and He also Himself tries to satisfy us: He takes service from us and gives us more and more loving inspiration to continue serving Him. As our loving inspiration increases we feel more and more attachment, love, and ecstasy for Him. This comes to us through service. So our service, our love for Him, our satisfaction, and His satisfaction all continuously increase. This is called prema-bhakti, ecstatic loving devotion.

In the mundane world people use the word love very freely for many different purposes, but love really means ‘satisfying our beloved’. Full attachment, with affection and the mood of trying to satisfy, is the real meaning of love.

We see in this mundane world that some people are very happy to feed others. If guests come to their home, with or without an invitation, they cook with great satisfaction, and give affectionate nourishment and enjoyable food to their guests. When they are feeding their guests they actually feel more satisfaction than their guests because of their mood of service and giving. That is the sparking light of transcendental love and affection, which will take full form when we use it to satisfy our divine Lord. When love for our Lord comes into our hearts in a very overflooded way and increases continuously it is called Krishna-prema.

Destroyer of illusion

prema-bhakti yaha haite avidya vinasa yate
vede gaya yahara charita

When Krishna-prema reveals itself in our heart, automatically our mundane knowledge, all mundanity actually, disappears, just as darkness disappears from a room when a bulb is lit. Avidya vinasa yate: automatically all of our mundane feelings disappear when Krishna-prema is revealed in our heart. Vede gaya yahara charita: everywhere all the scriptures—the Vedas, Vedanta, Upanisads, and so on—glorify Gurudev as the giver of that type of transcendental knowledge.

tasmad gurum prapadyeta jijnasuh sreya uttamam
sabde pare cha nisnatam brahmany upasamasrayam[17]

(Srimad Bhagavatam: 11.3.21)

All the scriptures advise us: “A teacher is necessary. Without a teacher you cannot understand anything. When the proper teacher comes in front of you, you must surrender to him and honour him. Guru means a bearer and messenger of transcendental knowledge. Guru can be and must be honoured as your Lord Himself. This is because a genuine Guru is established with full knowledge on the spiritual platform and directly represents the Lord.”

By ‘knowledge’ we do not mean knowledge gathered from books and scriptures. That type of knowledge is not sufficient. A genuine Guru has feelings in his heart that have been revealed by his Guru which come from the Lord Himself. A genuine Guru who has such real revealed knowledge in his heart can preach, and his students learn the proper thing.

gu-sabdas tv andhakarasya ru-sabdas tan-nivarakah
andhakara-nirodhitvad gurur ity abhidhiyate

(Skanda-purana)

Guru means ‘gu’-’ru’: one who can destroy, ru, the darkness of ignorance, gu, which is present in the mundane world and in our hearts, by giving us knowledge that has descended from the spiritual world.”

om ajnana-timirandhasya jnananjana-salakaya
chaksur unmilitam yena tasmai sri-gurave namah[18]

We pray to Gurudev with this pranam mantram every day. Ajnana means illusion, the illusory environment that covers our whole existence. Under the influence of illusion we think we are our body and become attached to our house and so many temporary things. Everything material is really a passing show, but in illusion we think it will remain with us forever. Gurudev removes the darkness of this mundane illusion by opening our transcendental eyes and giving us transcendental vision—transcendental knowledge.

Gurus: genuine and generic

It is necessary for a Guru to be genuine. Not everyone has that quality or qualification. Now in this world everyone can see that there are many self-made gurus, bogus gurus, and so on. I do not know who is bogus and who is not. It is not my business to criticise others, and I do not know who everyone is. I can only comment about the general character of a guru. The scriptures say:

guravo bahavah santi sisya-vittapaharakah
durlabho sad-gurur devi sisya-santapa-harakah

(Purana-vakya)

“There will always be many gurus who can expertly give their followers some mundane nourishment, take their wealth, and then leave them. But a real Guru destroys the dark mundane feelings of ignorance within everyone and makes everyone’s hearts temples of the Lord. A true Guru who has this capacity, and who never tries to do anything other than this, is very rare in the mundane world.” This is the character and activity of a genuine Guru, and that is the type of Guru glorified in the scriptures.

Once we saw a very poor man come to take initiation from Srila Guru Maharaj. He apologised: “O Maharaj, I have no money. I can only give you a donation of a few rupees.”

Srila Guru Maharaj said, “What are you thinking? I do not want any money from you. It is only a courtesy that you give some money. If you do not have much money and cannot contribute enough money to equal the value of Hari-nam mala [chanting beads] I am giving you, I still must give them to you if you are a sincere seeker. Don’t worry about that. What I need is your faith, sincerity, and chastity. You must promise me that you will serve Krishna and through your mood of service try to satisfy Krishna. I want you to make this promise in front of me, and that is all I want from you.”

Srila Guru Maharaj explained everything to the poor man in this way. That is the real mood of distributing Krishna consciousness and the real behaviour of a genuine Guru.

Saviour of the fallen

We are conditioned souls, and when we think about our conditioned position we may think we are hopeless. But we can pray to Gurudev, “You have full power and you are kind to the fallen souls. Please give your merciful attention to me and make me a good servitor of yourself, Lord Sri Krishna, and Srimati Radharani.”

sri-guru karuna-sindhu, adhama janara bandhu,[19]
(Sri Prema-bhakti-chandrika: 1.4)

Gurudev is very merciful to the conditioned souls, and his attention specially goes to those who are most fallen. Gurudev is like an affectionate father. If a father has five sons but one of his sons feels some deficiency because he is unqualified or unhappy, then the father gives special attention and nourishment to that son so that he may be promoted.

Connection with transcendence

Finally Srila Narottam Thakur mentions his Gurudev’s name,

lokanatha lokera jivana
(Sri Prema-bhakti-chandrika: 1.4)

“Lokanath Prabhu is my Gurudev. He is my life and soul, my everything, and these are the glories of his mercy.”

ha ha prabhu kara daya deha more pada-chhaya
tuya pade laila sarana

(Sri Prema-bhakti-chandrika: 1.4)

Then Narottam Thakur prays, “O Gurudev, I want your full attention. Please be merciful to me. Again and again I am taking shelter at your lotus feet. I do not know if I am properly surrendering to you, but please give your full attention to me. Only through your divine grace will I be connected with Lord Krishna, receive transcendental knowledge, and be engaged in Lord Krishna’s service. Please be merciful to me.”

True shelter

On the logo of our Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math you can see the sun, some water, and a lotus. These are symbolic. The lotus represents the jiva-soul, the servitor of Krishna; the sun represents Krishna; and the water represents Gurudev. When a lotus lives in the protection of water, it blooms and the sun’s rays give life to the lotus, but when a lotus is taken out of water and kept in a dry place, the sun burns it. The logo of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math means that when we live under the protection of Gurudev, Krishna will always be merciful to us, but that without the shelter of Gurudev we have no hope.

harau ruste gurus-trata gurau ruste na kaschana
(Aditya-purana)

If Krishna becomes angry with us, our Gurudev can save us from Krishna’s anger; he can give us some nourishment and life. But if our Gurudev becomes angry with us, nothing can save us, not even Krishna can help us. Gurudev’s mercy is even more beneficial and essential than Krishna’s mercy. This is the essential point. Srila Visvanath Chakravarti Thakur said,

yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasado
yasyaprasadan na gatih kuto ’pi
dhyayam stuvams tasya yasas tri-sandhyam
vande guroh sri-charanaravindam[20]

(Sri Gurvastakam: 8)

We must consider that Krishna’s mercy appears to us in the form of our Gurudev’s mercy. This means that when our Gurudev is happy with us Krishna must also be happy with us, and when Krishna is happy with us our Gurudev will be happy with us. This is our Gurudev’s position, and in this way we will always see that all auspicious and beneficial wealth comes to us through Gurudev. Gurudev is our true shelter.

The supreme servitor

Guru-parampara, the preceptorial lineage of Gurus, is like a telescopic system. Within a telescope there are many lenses, and when they are properly adjusted one by one we can see through them things we do not have the power to see with our own vision. The Gurus in our parampara are like lenses in a telescope. There is power within each of the lenses which deepens our vision and shows us how to satisfy Srimati Radharani and Lord Krishna.

In the line of the Sri Rupanuga sampradaya, our vision and devotion is going up through our Guru Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj, and Prabhupad Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur, to Sri Rupa Manjari and from there to Radharani. Srila Prabhupad Saraswati Thakur taught that we will think of our Gurudev at the highest level as Radharani Herself; we will think that our Gurudev is a nondifferent form of Radharani. Gurudev has different forms. Sometimes we will see that Gurudev is nondifferent from Krishna, but more exclusively we see that he is the supreme servitor of Krishna—Radharani.

“I got everything!”

Gurudev’s full mercy and gift, which he bestows through his different forms, has been described by Srila Raghunath Das Goswami in his super pranam mantram, which we always use to pray to our Gurudev:

nama-srestham manum api sachi-putram atra svarupam
rupam tasyagrajam uru-purim mathurim gostha-vatim
radha-kundam giri-varam aho radhika-madhavasam
prapto yasya prathita-krpaya sri-gurum tam nato ’smi

(Sri Mukta-charitam: 2)

Nama-srestham: Das Goswami expresses that Gurudev mercifully gave him the Hare Krishna mahamantra, the supreme mantram within the mundane and transcendental worlds. The mahamantra can rescue anyone from any position. It can everyone within all the universes. Hare Krishna actually means Radha-Krishna. Gracefully Gurudev gives us the chance to call Radha-Krishna into our heart and pray that They will mercifully appear there.

Manum api Sachi-putram: by the causeless mercy of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who is the nondifferent form of Radha-Krishna, the Hare Krishna mahamantra came down to the mundane world. Das Goswami also received the mercy of the Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu through Gurudev.

Atra Svarupam: then Srila Raghunath Das Goswami says that not only has he received the mercy of Mahaprabhu and the Holy Name, but that Mahaprabhu has mercifully handed him to His dearmost associate and nondifferent form, Srila Svarup Damodar. Das Goswami expresses here that he has also received Srila Svarup Damodar’s mercy through Gurudev.

Rupam tasyagrajam: then by the grace of Gurudev, Das Goswami received the mercy and association of Mahaprabhu’s dearmost disciples, Srila Rupa Goswami and Srila Sanatan Goswami.

Uru-purim Mathurim gostha-vatim: then by the mercy of Gurudev, Das Goswami was given entrance into Mathura–Vrndavan Dham, where Krishna is always engaged in His Pastimes with the gopas and gopis.[21]

Radha-kundam: by the mercy of Gurudev, Das Goswami was given shelter at Radha Kunda, where the supreme opportunity for service to Radha-Govinda exists.

Giri-varam: by the mercy of Gurudev, Das Goswami received from Mahaprabhu a Govardhan-sila, a nondifferent form of Krishna. to worship, as well as shelter at the lotus feet of Govardhan Hill near Radha Kunda in Vrndavan Dham.

Aho Radhika-Madhavasam: and by the mercy of Gurudev, Das Goswami received all hope for the service of Radha-Madhava. This means Radharani Herself in the form of Gurudev gave mercy to Das Goswami, because without the special mercy of Radharani no one can enter where the Divine Couple are playing.

Prapto yasya prathita-krpaya: lastly in his pranam mantram to Gurudev Das Goswami says that he has been given everything by Gurudev. Sri Gurum Tam nato ’smi: so he bows down to Gurudev’s lotus feet in full surrender.

Das Goswami expressed his heart through this verse. Das Goswami is very humble, but he is clearly confessing in his prayer, “I have received this, this, this, this, and everything, by the grace of Gurudev. I have received the mercy of Krishna, Radharani, Mahaprabhu, Their associates, Their abode—everything.”

“When will I receive your mercy?”

Srila Raghunath Das Goswami was a very dear associate of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and he was also very dear to all the devotees of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Srila Svarup Damodar, who was a nondifferent form of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, was his personal guardian. So Das Goswami had no deficiency; he was unlimitedly fortunate by the grace of Gurudev. But after living with Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Srila Svarup Damodar, Raghunath Das Goswami came to Vrndavan to stay with Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu.

Das Goswami thought he would leave his body after the disappearance of his Lord, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and his master, Svarup Damodar. But when he found Srila Rupa Goswami in Vrndavan, he got new life. While living in Vrndavan, Das Goswami followed many very extreme practising processes in his devotional life. Living under the shelter of Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu, he would pray to Radharani as his Gurudev in a very exclusive way, in a mood of ista-labha vine, unfulfilled desire.

asa-bharair amrta-sindhu-mayaih kathanchit
kalo mayati-gamitah kila sampratam hi
tvan chet krpam mayi vidhasyasi naiva kim me
pranair vrajena cha varoru bakarinapi

(Vilapa-kusumanjali: 102)

“O Radharani, I worship the Krishna who lives with You, plays with You, is joyful with You, and tastes ecstasy with You. I worship that Krishna, Your Krishna. You are the nectarean ocean of Krishna-lila, and for that I have so much hope. I want to taste a little bit of that nectar, and with great hope I have passed such a long time here in Radha Kunda, praying for Your mercy and hoping I will receive Your connection. You are my Mistress. and I have been waiting on the bank of Your kunda, Radha Kunda, for such a long time, hoping that You will bestow Your mercy upon me. I have spent so long waiting, and now I am going to die. I have passed eighty years here in Vrndavan, and I am living only to receive Your mercy.

“O Radharani! Please bestow Your mercy upon me. I need Your mercy, and my only hope is that one day You will bestow it upon me. I have passed year after year not receiving You mercy, but still I am hopeful I will receive it one day. I am living only for that, and that is my only desire. I will leave my body soon but I pray, ‘O Radharani, please bestow Your mercy upon me.’

“When will You be merciful to me? O Radharani! Without Your mercy I do not want Krishna’s mercy. I do not want to meet or serve Krishna without You. Only when Krishna is with You is Krishna so glorious to me. Without Your mercy Krishna’s mercy is useless to me. I only want to serve You and see that my service goes to Krishna through You. That is my desire. Krishna is not a factor for me; You are my life and goal. Your service is my only desire and expectation, nothing else. I have passed eighty years praying for Your service and still I am keeping my hope that I will receive Your mercy.

“If I do not receive Your mercy then I consider Krishna’s mercy useless and undesirable. I do not want Krishna to bestow His mercy upon me in an independent way. What will I do with Him? I do not want anything directly from Krishna. Your lotus feet are my only shelter. I only want Your service.”

radha-sange yada bhati tada ‘madana-mohanah’
anyatha visva-moho ’pi svayam ‘madana-mohitah’

(Sri Govinda-lilamrta: 13.32)

“O Radharani, when Krishna lives with You, He is fully satisfied and His mood is greatly merciful. When Krishna lives with You, He is Madan Mohan: He is liberated from any attraction by Cupid, and Cupid is stunned to see Krishna’s beauty. But Krishna’s beauty and attractive power come only from You. Without You, Krishna’s beauty cannot attract His exclusive devotees. And more than that, without You, Krishna Himself is attracted by Cupid.”

“O my Goddess, if You do not accept me, if You are not merciful to me, then what will Krishna be for me? His position will not be Madan Mohan: He will be like Bakari, the killer of Putana and other demons. What will I do with Krishna in His form of a demon-killer? I want to exclusively worship the Krishna who is holding hands with You, and I want only to worship Him through You. So I need Your mercy. Without Your mercy everything is useless to me. When will You bestow Your mercy upon me, O Radharani? Your mercy is my only hope.”

Devastated by love

In this attentive and exclusive mood of devotion Raghunath Das Goswami prayed to Radharani, trying to draw Her grace to him. In this prayer Das Goswami expresses our highest vision of Gurudev.

Das Goswami lived on the banks of Radha Kunda for some time with this mood of extreme hope and hankering. But when Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu disappeared, Das Goswami became deeply disturbed and felt he could not tolerate the environment of Vrndavan.

sunyayate maha-gostham girindro ’jagarayate
vyaghra-tundayate kundam jivatu-rahitasya me

(Sri Prarthanasraya-chaturdasaka: 11)

Das Goswami felt, “My life has left my body. Now Radha Kunda is not the joyful place of Radha-Krishna. Vyaghra-tundayate kundam: I now see Radha Kunda as the open mouth of a tiger coming to eat me. Girindro ’jagarayate: I now see Giriraj Govardhan like a python coming to attack me. Sunyayate maha-gostham: now the whole of Vraja Bhumi, where the cows, gopas, and gopis play, appears void and empty to me. I do not see anyone, and everything seems to have been demolished. Everything appears to me in this way because I have lost my heart, my jivatu [my very life], Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu.”

Srila Raghunath Das Goswami expressed his feelings of hope to receive the mercy of Radharani and his feelings of separation from his Gurudev Srila Rupa Goswami through his verses asa-bharair amrta-sindhu-mayaih kathanchit and sunyayate maha-gostham. Das Goswami was an exclusive follower in the line of Srila Rupa Goswami and Radharani, and in this way his feelings went from deep to deeper. Srila Guru Maharaj used the philosophical phrase, “Dive deep into Reality”. It is necessary for us to touch that reality, at least from a distance. Then we can understand everything. All of it comes through Guru-susrusaya (SB: 10.80.34), the service of Gurudev. All property will gradually come to us in that way. That is our line, our process, our method.[22]

Infinite mercy

Srila Raghunath Das Goswami is in one way saying, “I have been given everything by my Gurudev.” He openly said this in his beautiful verse Nama-srestam manum api Sachi-putram atra Svarupam. But he also expressed his extreme hankering and hope to attain more mercy from Gurudev, that is, Radharani and Srila Rupa Goswami. This is the nature of Krishna consciousness. These two types of feelings are always present in the devotees’s hearts. In one way they are saying, “I have been given everything”, and in another way they are saying, “I have nothing; I am in need.”

If anyone receives mercy from Gurudev, they will never feel it to be insufficient. Yet, they will also feel that Gurudev’s mercy is unlimitedly attractive and infinite. So the more they taste it, the more they will desire to taste more of it. Because their hankering becomes greater and greater in that way, they feel, “I am empty. I have not received anything.” The feeling of the devotee is, “Tad dure tad v antike (Iu: 5): it is so far, and it is so near.”

By hope we feel we are so near to Krishna and Radharani, but by action we may feel we live so far from Their abode and Pastimes. The harmonising conclusion about this situation has been given by Sri Chaitanyadev: achintya-bhedabheda. Inconceivably, both moods are present in the hearts of the devotees: “It is so near to us, and in another way it is so far.”

Through the extreme example of Raghunath Das Goswami we can understand that if we open the door of our hearts to Gurudev, we will find his mercy is waiting for us right behind the door. If only we open our hearts, Gurudev’s mercy will enter us. We will discover our fortune and find that our Guru-parampara, beginning with Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu, has a spoonful of nectar ready for us. When we receive that, we will feel unable to ever fully glorify Gurudev. We will feel his infinite mercy.[23] ⬆︎

Section Two

The Supreme Personality of Godhead

Dasa-mula-tattva

Truths Two, Three, and Four:

harim iha paramam sarva-saktim rasabdhim

Sri Krishna is supreme.
He is the possessor of all potencies.
He is the ocean of all divine ecstasy.

Chapter Four

The Supreme Controller

Question (in a public gathering): I have heard that Swami Ramakrishna taught that people should first worship demigods like Mother Kali and then worship Lord Krishna. Is worshipping Krishna and worshipping other demigods the same thing? Is there a difference between worshipping different Deities or forms of the Lord?

Srila Govinda Maharaj: Your questions are simple and their answers are also simple. In Srimad Bhagavad-gita it is said,

yanti deva-vrata devan pitrn yanti pitr-vratah
bhutani yanti bhutejya yanti mad-yajino ’pi mam

(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 9.25)

“Those who worship the devatas, demigods, go to the domain of the demigods. Those who worship the pitrs, forefathers, go to the place of the forefathers. Those who worship the bhutas, ghosts, go to the plane of the ghosts. And those who worship Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, go to Krishnaloka, the transcendental abode of Krishna.”

This is the advice of Srimad Bhagavad-gita. Ramakrishna told people that all of these forms of worship and all of these destinations are the same. This is not true, and they are not the same. All diseases are not the same; all happiness is not the same; all sadness is not the same; each of our fingers are not the same; all people are not the same. No two things are exactly the same. How can all forms of worship and all destinations be the same? They are never the same.

The teaching of Srimad Bhagavad-gita is that you have free choice and you decide what you want. You choose your destination. You have to properly realise what your needs are and then proceed in the appropriate direction. By worshipping demigods you can attain kanak, kamini, and pratistha: temporary wealth, enjoyment, and fame in this world. These are not the essential needs of our hearts. To always be searching in one direction or another in pursuit of material desires is not good, and it will not give anyone a fulfilling result. If you are willing to satisfy anyone, regardless of who they are, to fulfil your material desires, then your nature is like that of a prostitute. But if your mood is that exclusively you want to satisfy your Lord, then your nature is like that of a chaste servitor. The question about whether worshipping the Lord and the demigods is the same is actually a matter of chastity and prostitution.

Srimad Bhagavatam has advised us that by pleasing our Master we will automatically please everyone and attain everything we need.

yatha taror mula-nisechanena
trpyanti tat-skandha-bhujopasakhah
pranopaharach cha yathendriyanam
tathaiva sarvarhanam achyutejya

(Srimad Bhagavatam: 4.31.14)

“If you pour water on the root of a tree, the whole tree is nourished. If you offer your devotion and service to Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, all demigods, all goddesses, and the whole world are satisfied. You can fulfil all your duties and desires by worshipping Lord Krishna. This is what is truly necessary for everyone.”

Relative destiny

When I was young I used to go out every day collecting money for the service of Srila Guru Maharaj. During this time I was living with Srila Swami Maharaj at Sitakanta Banerjee Lane in Kolkata. He was working on his translation of Bhagavad-gita As It Is then, and every day he would teach me something from Srimad Bhagavad-gita, or give me some advice, and then I would go out. I would tell the people I met the things I heard from Srila Swami Maharaj. Some days I would get a very good response and come home in a dancing mood. But some days I would not collect anything. And on some days people would even try to beat me. During that time I met many devotees of Mother Kali and would often end up debating with them. The worshippers of Mother Kali pray to her for selfish purposes: “O Mother Kali, dhanam dehi janam dehi rupam dehi yaso dehi, and so on: give me wealth, give me manpower, give me beauty, give me fame, and so on. Dehi dehi dehi, give me, give me, give me….”

Mother Kali is actually a param Vaisnavi, a perfect chaste servitor of her Master, the Lord. And she can also give Visnu-bhakti to the conditioned souls. But the conditioned souls are foolish and cannot understand what is good for them. They do not understand that they must die someday and will be forced to leave everything they may gain in their life through their worship. Pursuing material desires, even through worship, is never in the actual interest of anyone.

One day I told some of the devotees of Mother Kali who wanted to debate with me, “Vivekananda is a gunda [dacoit] and Ramakrishna is a murkha pujari [ignorant priest].” They became very angry with me and tried to beat me. Many of Mother Kali’s devotees especially would always want to fight with me.

After this I asked Srila Swami Maharaj, “What should I say to worshippers of Mother Kali?”

Srila Swami Maharaj’s preaching style was always very hard, and he told me jokingly, “Ask them why they are worshipping Mother Kali. If they are faithful devotees of Mother Kali what will they ultimately attain? Tell them they should know that if they worship Mother Kali, they will go to Mother Kali’s domain. That will be their destiny. What Mother Kali eats, they will eat. What Mother Kali does, they will do. Where Mother Kali lives, they will live. Their final destiny will be to become an associate of Mother Kali.

“So you should ask them, ‘Where does Mother Kali live? Mother Kali lives in a cremation ground. Who are Mother Kali’s associates? Dakinis and yoginis, that is, many varieties of witches and ghosts. What does Mother Kali eat in her domain? The meat and blood of her dead sons. What is Mother Kali’s mood? Mother Kali has no shyness; she stands naked showing her tongue to her sons. She attracts her sons to come to her and then she takes their heads, cuts their necks, and puts their skulls on her garland. Have you seen the garland of the skulls of the demons she kills around her neck? This is Mother Kali’s nature, and if you worship her you will go to her abode, Kaliloka. Ye yatha Mam prapadyante tams tathaiva bhajamy Aham (Bg: 4.11). If you feel you need to go to Mother Kali’s abode you can go there to stay with her, and lastly she will cut off your head and add it to her garland. If this is your desire then we have no objection.’”

Srila Swami Maharaj joked in this way. Then he said, “But just see our Krishna! Krishna lives in Vrndavan Dham. There Krishna has so many girlfriends and so much butter, ghee, cheese, milk, sandes, rasagullas, fruits, sweets, luchis, puris, laddus, kachoris, and so on. We can eat all of these things there with Lord Krishna. There the forests and gardens are beautifully decorated and so many cows can be found everywhere. We will be associates of Lord Krishna and play with Him and the cowherd boys near the Yamuna River. Krishna is so beautiful: He attracts everyone with the beauty of His divine form.

“You can do as you like. You have free choice: the meat and witches of Mother Kali or the sweetness of Krishna. You decide for yourself.” In this way Srila Swami Maharaj jokingly explained to me what I could say to the devotees of Mother Kali and gave me very good nourishment.

The Lord’s supreme power

It is necessary to understand the positions of Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and the demigods. There is a story in the Upanisads which clearly explains the supreme position of the Lord as the master of the demigods.

Once the demigods were very proud of their universal powers and they thought, “We do everything.” The Lord was aware of this and wanted to give them some proper consciousness. He took the form of an old man and appeared before the demigods. He first asked Agnidev, “Who are you, sir? Where are you going?”

Agnidev said, “I am Agnidev, the master of fire.”

The Lord asked him, “What can you do?”

Agnidev said, “I can burn whole universes.”

Then the Lord tested him, “If you have such power, can you please show it to me by burning this grass here before us?”

Agnidev tried with his full energy but, by the Lord’s will, he was unable to burn the grass. Finally he left.

Then Vayu came along and the Lord asked him, “What is your power? What can you do?”

Vayu said, “I can blow anything and everything away with my power.”

The Lord asked him, “Can you move this grass here before us?” He tried but, by the will of the Lord, he was unable to move the grass.

In this way many demigods came before the Lord but were unable to demonstrate their power.

Finally Devaraj Indra, the king of all the demigods, heard about what was happening and himself came to see the old man. The Lord then disappeared and sent Mahamaya to appear before Indra.

Indra asked her, “Who was that old man?”

Mahamaya said, “You demigods think you have so much power and can do anything, but without the power of the Supreme Personality of Godhead you cannot do anything. He is that Supreme Personality of Godhead.”

When Mahamaya revealed the identity of the old man to Indra, he and all the demigods understood their actual position and from far away they all bowed down to the Lord.

The pride of Lord Indra

Devaraj Indra was often very proud. This is natural. “The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power”, these things can easily make anyone proud. Once, Krishna wanted to control Indra’s mentality and demolish his pride. Krishna wanted to do this because He liked Indra. He didn’t want to punish Indra but rather give him proper knowledge. When the time came for the yearly worship of Indra, Krishna inspired Nanda Maharaj and the Vraja-vasis, “Why you are worshipping Indra? It is really Giriraj Govardhan who provides us with our food. Giriraj Govardhan gives us everything we need the whole year round. We are all living together happily at the feet of Giriraj Govardhan. We should offer puja to Giriraj Govardhan. Why should we worship Indra?”

Krishna spoke to the Vraja-vasis in a very gentle and sober way, and they believed Him. Already Krishna had performed so many miracles in Vrndavan and all the Vraja-vasis knew that Krishna was not an ordinary boy, they knew He had extraordinary power. They were also proud of Krishna’s power and felt that whatever Krishna told them must be truthful. So they followed His advice. Even though Krishna was only a seven-year-old boy at the time, all the Vraja-vasis chose to follow Him. It was no problem for them. The Vraja-vasis said, “We will follow Your advice.”

Then the Vraja-vasis left aside the worship of Indra, made a big festival, and began worshipping Giriraj Govardhan. Krishna participated in the festival with the Vraja-vasis but also showed them that when they offered everything to Giriraj Govardhan, Giriraj Govardhan accepted their offerings. Krishna took the form of Govardhan under His control and showed everyone that Govardhan was eating all of their offerings. In this way all the Vraja-vasis were very much obliged and happily offered everything to Giriraj Govardhan.

When Indra heard of the big festival the Vraja-vasis held for Giriraj Govardhan, he could not tolerate being left aside and became very angry. He decided to demolish Vraja Dham. He ordered all his subordinates, Chandra, Vayu, Varun, and so on to assist him and sent everything he had—his weapons, powerful clouds, and thunderbolts—to demolish Vraja Dham. For seven days his clouds and thunderbolts struck down upon Vraja Dham. The Vraja-vasis became very disturbed. They came to Krishna and prayed, “What shall we do, Krishna? We are suffering a very bad reaction because we did not worship Devaraj Indra. You are our shelter. Give us Your protection.”

Krishna said, “No problem. Giriraj Govardhan is very merciful. He accepted your offerings, your honour, your everything, so Giriraj Govardhan must save you. By accepting your offerings He has given you assurance He will provide for you. Pray to Giriraj Govardhan and He will save you. I will also pray to Govardhan.”

Then Krishna said to Giriraj Govardhan, “O Govardhan, please save them. I am taking You…” Krishna picked up Giriraj Govardhan with the small finger of His left hand just as a small child picks up a mushroom (utpatyaika-karena sailam abalo lilochchhilindhram yatha).

Krishna told all the Vraja-vasis, “Come beneath Giriraj Govardhan.” The Vraja-vasis entered beneath Govardhan Hill with all of their wealth, cows, and the various living entities of Vraja Dham.

Indra tried to punish the Vraja-vasis for seven days. He sent many clouds and completely flooded Vraja Dham. After this, Indra thought all the Vraja-vasis had been driven out of Vraja Dham by the flood and died somewhere. When he finally stopped the storms, Krishna told the Vraja-vasis, “Now you can go outside. The sky is clear and everything is over.”

When Indra saw the Vraja-vasis, their cows, and all the living entities of Vraja Dham come out from beneath Giriraj Govardhan, he was surprised and understood who Krishna really was. Indra understood that Krishna was not an ordinary boy but the Lord Himself, who had come to perform His divine Pastimes in this world. Indra also understood that he had made a great offence to Krishna. Indra came before Krishna, paid his dandavat pranam, and surrendered. He apologised and praised Krishna so much, “O Lord, I am foolish. I could not understand Your glories or Your divine Pastimes. Please forgive my offences. Please be merciful to me.”

Krishna smiled and said, “It is okay. It is no problem. I forgive your offences.”

Indra said, “I want to worship You with Surabhi’s milk. Surabhi has the power to give unlimited amounts of milk, and I want to perform an abhisek for You with her milk.”

Then Indra performed an abhisek puja for Krishna with Surabhi’s milk and said, “You are so merciful to the cows, and to the whole world, so from today on we will worship You with the name ‘Govinda’. He who gives joy to the hearts of the cows, calves, and cowherd boys must be known as ‘Govinda’.” In this way Indra gave Krishna the name Govinda and Krishna forgave Indra’s offences.

The bewilderment of Lord Brahma

It is Krishna’s nature to be merciful. Krishna also forgave Lord Brahma many times. Once Brahma stole a group of cows and cowherd boys from the banks of the Yamuna in Vrndavan and hid them in a cave. Later Brahma noticed that Vrndavan was still full of cows and cowherd boys. Brahma went to check on the cows and cowherd boys he hid in the cave and saw that they were still there. Then again he saw in Vrndavan all the same cows and cowherd boys playing with Krishna near the Yamuna. He was surprised, “I stole these cows and cowherd boys. I just saw them all within the cave where I hid them, but here in Vrndavan everything is intact and they are still playing with Krishna near the Yamuna. What is this?” Brahma was puzzled and finally surrendered to Krishna. He folded his hands, offered prayers to Krishna, and lastly said:

jananta eva janantu kim bahuktya na me prabho
manaso vapuso vacho vaibhavam tava gocharah

(Srimad Bhagavatam: 10.14.38)

“O Krishna, if anyone says, ‘I know Your glories. I know You’, he can say so, but I cannot say that. So many times I have seen Your glories, but I still have not come to their end. I cannot properly or fully understand You. I feel it is impossible for me or anyone to understand Your unlimited glories.”

It is described in Sri Brahma-samhita that Brahma was initiated by Krishna. But Brahma has a very difficult life, and many times he forgot Krishna’s position and glories. Krishna taught Brahma many times, but again and again disturbance would come to Brahma and he would forget Krishna’s glories. Later he would regain his proper consciousness by Krishna’s grace. Thus Brahma prays to Krishna that he can never understand Krishna without Krishna’s mercy.

The madness of Lord Siva

Not only are conditioned souls and the demigods, headed by Indra and Brahma, bewildered by Krishna’s Pastimes, but also liberated souls are puzzled by them. Lord Siva is not a conditioned soul; he is a liberated soul. Lord Siva is Mahesvar Devadidev: the leader of all the demigods, who is worshipped by all the demigods. Whenever there is a great difficulty or obstacle creating trouble within the universe that no one can solve, it comes to Lord Siva. Lord Siva has the power to correct anything.

We can understand that this is Lord Siva’s position when we hear the story of the devas and asuras churning the ocean. After making a compromise with Lord Visnu the devas and asuras came together to churn the ocean. They all worked together to churn the ocean, expecting to produce nectar, but many different things were produced. Airavata, the king of the elephants, was produced. Uchchaihsrava, a horse as beautifully white as the moon, was produced. Surabhi, the heavenly cow, was produced. Even Laksmi Devi, the Goddess of fortune, was produced. So many things were produced and then distributed. Laksmi Devi went to Narayan, Surabhi was taken by Indra, and so on.

As the devas and asuras continued churning the ocean, poison was produced, and everyone was disturbed. No one could destroy or control the poison. When the devas and asuras were confused about what to do with the poison, Visnu said, “Go to Lord Siva. He is meditating on Mount Kailash.”

Then all the demigods went to Lord Siva and prayed, “Prabhu, save us! Poison has been produced from the ocean.”

Lord Siva said, “No problem”. Then he came down from Mount Kailash and drank all the poison. This is Lord Siva’s nature: he can digest poison that can kill all the other devas. He has such power. Lord Siva saved the devas in this way by drinking the poison and holding it in his throat. The poison was blue and appeared like a beautiful blue ornament on Lord Siva’s neck. For this, Lord Siva became gloriously known as Nilakantha, “He who has a bluish neck.”

This is Lord Siva’s position and power. He has a very detached nature, and he is worshipped by all devas. But that Lord Siva, who is a liberated soul beyond all material illusion, is also bewildered by Krishna.

When nectar was produced from the churning of the ocean, the asuras stole it. Lord Krishna appeared in the form of Mohini Murti, an attractive young woman, to trick the asuras into returning the nectar to the devas.

Lord Siva had seen many of the Lord’s forms, but when he heard that the Lord had appeared as Mohini Murti before the asuras, he went to the Lord and requested, “I was not present when You distributed ecstasy and appeared in the form of Mohini Murti. Please show me this form of Yours.”

Krishna said, “You want to see that form of Mine?”

Parvati Devi was with Lord Siva at this time. She smiled, “Oh? The Mohini Murti?” When Krishna showed His Mohini Murti form, Lord Siva forgot his position, lost his senses, and ran madly after Mohini Murti. He was completely attracted by Mohini Murti’s beauty.

Afterwards, when Lord Siva’s mood finally finished, he came back to his senses and Mohini Murti disappeared. Then he saw that he was again standing with Parvati Devi next to him. When Lord Siva saw Parvati Devi he smiled, and Parvati Devi also smiled. They both have no shyness actually. Lord Siva told Parvati Devi, “Have you seen what just happened? I am a liberated soul. Not only that, I can make liberated souls. By my word I can liberate souls. If I say so, anyone can receive liberation; I have this type of power. So now you have seen Lord Krishna’s supreme power. I myself have become enchanted by His power and run madly after His attractive form.”

There is a great difference between the worship of the demigods and the worship of Lord Krishna. This must be so because all the demigods themselves worship Krishna.

The all-powerful Lord Krishna

Sri Krishna alone is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is the Creator of all creation and the controller of all power (Harim iha paramam sarva-saktim). As the Creator of all creation, He cannot be powerless. He must be all-powerful. Especially now, in the age of the scientists, we can easily see examples of Krishna’s miraculous power and its manifestations everywhere throughout creation. When we are enlightened with transcendental knowledge by Krishna’s grace, we will see Krishna’s power existing everywhere in every direction within this mundane world. There will be no place where we will not see His power.

The invention of the atomic bomb shows us how much power is present inside every atom of Krishna’s creation. The scientists have shown that when the charged electrons and protons within an atom are separated, a tremendous explosion occurs. We heard that one of the scientists who helped invent the atomic bomb, Robert Oppenheimer, read Srimad Bhagavad-gita. When he saw the first test explosion of an atomic bomb he remembered this verse:

divi surya-sahasrasya bhaved yugapad utthita
yadi bhah sadrsi sa syad bhasas tasya mahatmanah

(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 11.12)

He remarked, “What I am seeing now before me appears like thousands of suns in full bloom. Seeing such light must be similar to seeing the effulgence of the visvarup, the universal form of Krishna.”

Through the example of the atomic bomb we can understand how much power is present within every atom of creation. All of that power is controlled by Krishna.

Krishna is so powerful. Even the smallest fragments of His creation contain so much power. But Krishna is actually more powerful than we can conceive. We cannot even conceive of the full extent of His power. We cannot actually prove how powerful Krishna is through our experience of the mundane world. If I say, “His power is so great!” How much can I actually understand? I may say, “His power is as great as the sky!” The sky may be the biggest thing I can see, but how big is the sky? Beyond what we can see to be the sky is the mahakas, the outer space of this universe. That is far greater than the sky we can see. But the mahakas includes only the space found within this particular universe. The scriptures teach us that there are millions of universes existing side by side within the Viraja, the river that divides the material and spiritual worlds. And the whole of the material nature existing within the Viraja is only one vibhuti, one part, of the majesty and creation of the infinite kingdom of Lord Krishna. There is no end to how much more exists beyond the sky we see with our eyes. So we cannot understand how great Krishna’s power is with only our mundane experience. It is achintya, inconceivable.

The supreme controller

When all of Krishna’s power is considered at once, we cannot conceive of it. We are finite, and His power is infinite. But everything about Krishna’s supreme position and power is expressed in the first verse of Sri Brahma-samhita:

isvarah paramah krsnah sach-chid-ananda-vigrahah
anadir adir govindah sarva-karana-karanam[24]

(Sri Brahma-samhita: 5.1)

[“The embodiment of spiritual energy, consciousness, and ecstasy, Sri Krishna, who is known as Govinda, is the Supreme Lord of all Lords. He has no origin, He is the origin of all, and He is the cause of all causes.”]

In this verse Krishna is called the Paramesvar [Supreme Lord]. If we do not know what an isvar [lord] is, we will not be able to understand Krishna’s position as Paramesvar, the supreme isvar. Srila Visvanath Chakravarti Thakur explained the word isvar: kartum akartum anyatha kartum samarthah: one who can do anything, can undo anything, and can change anything into anything else is an isvar. All the different forms of the Lord are isvaras: Narayan, Visnu, Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Vaman, Ramachandra, and so on. Lord Siva is also an isvar. We can understand that Krishna is above them all, because He is described not only as an isvar, but as the parama-isvar, the supreme isvar. Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the Supreme Controller; everything is under His control, including all the isvaras. Krishna is most powerful. He is all-in-all, and He has all rights reserved over everything. He can do anything, everything, something, and nothing at any time. All power is within Him.

Krishna is the one Reality, for Itself and by Itself. His position, activities, character, and all else exist exclusively for His satisfaction. Krishna’s qualification as Paramesvar, the Supreme Controller, is first. His position as sarva-karana-karanam, the cause of all causes, is last. Everyone is always searching for the cause of everything, the central source of all activity. The answer is Krishna: Krishna is the origin of everything, everything transcendental and mundane. But Krishna’s position as the Supreme Controller is more important for us to understand. We will really begin to understand creation, existence, power, and eternity when we understand that Krishna—Reality the Beautiful—is the Supreme Controller.

Beauty is power

na tasya karyam karanam cha vidyate
na tat samas chabhyadhikas cha drsyate
parasya saktir vividhaiva sruyate
svabhaviki jnana-bala-kriya cha[25]

(Svetasvatara-upanisad: 6.8)

The Upanisads explain that Krishna is the Paramesvar and that no one is equal to Him. As the Paramesvar, Krishna can do anything and everything effortlessly through His divine power. This means that creation and everything else happen naturally through Krishna’s power and Krishna is always in full control of everything, but that Krishna Himself does not actually have to do anything.

Bhagavan Sri Krishna is known as Sasakti-saktiman: the Supreme Powerful accompanied by His power. God means the Lord with His power. The Lord creates the universe with His power, and through His power everything everywhere takes place by His will. It is effortless for Him. But even more significant than creation, the Lord’s divine beauty and divine play are manifest through His power. The most important expressions of Krishna’s power are His attractive beauty and sweet Pastimes, not His capacity to create the mundane world. Sarva-saktim rasabdhim: Krishna’s qualities of being all-attractive, beautiful, and loving (rasabdhim) are greater than His qualification of being all-powerful (sarva-saktim). The highest form of power (sarva-saktim) is beauty (rasa). Krishna’s quality of being all-powerful actually means that He is all-attractive—infinitely beautiful.

Srila Guru Maharaj used to say, “Beauty is the controlling principle. Beauty is controlling everything.” Through Srila Guru Maharaj we can understand that Krishna’s very nature as ‘Krishna’, which means ‘all-attractive’, automatically shows us that He is most powerful. We can also understand that the great examples of Krishna’s power within His creation are clues about how intensely attractive and beautiful Krishna Himself is. This is why it is most important to understand that Krishna is the Paramesvar, the Supreme Controller. Such understanding gives us consciousness about the divine significance of beauty everywhere, about how, why, and in which way creation is existing and moving under the influence of beauty. Krishna’s nature as the all-powerful Supreme Controller is actually understood only by experiencing His beauty. Through His beauty one will best and most fully experience His infinite power. This is the Krishna conception of divinity. ⬆︎

Chapter Five

The Emporium of All Rasa

Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu has explained scientifically the supreme position of Bhagavan Sri Krishna. He explains that the jiva-souls, who are finite parts and parcels of Krishna, share fifty qualities (gunas) with Krishna. Krishna is infinite and the jiva-souls are finite. The jiva-souls share fifty qualities with Krishna in a finite way, that is, fifty of Krishna’s qualities can be found within them to the extent that Krishna empowers them.

The demigods like Siva, Indra, Chandra, Vayu, Varun, and so on share fifty-five qualities with Krishna. Narayan and Krishna’s various Avatars share sixty qualities with Krishna. But Krishna has four special, extremely wonderful qualities that He alone possesses—qualities that Lord Narayan, Lord Visnu, Lord Rama, and so on do not possess. Because of these exceptional qualities, Krishna is the supreme worshippable Lord, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Srimad Bhagavatam says,

ete chamsa-kalah pumsah krsnas tu bhagavan svayam
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 1.3.28)

“There are infinite forms and expansions of the Lord, but Krishna is Svayam Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the original and topmost form of the Lord. Everything comes from Him.”

Srila Jiva Goswami explained that the word Bhagavan means bhajaniya-guna-visista: He who has the most worshippable and attractive qualities. Because Krishna has the most transcendental qualities, more than the demigods and all other forms of the Lord, He is supreme. Krishna’s Name, Form, Fame, and Pastimes are all supreme.

The Infinite

Krishna is the supreme, original form of the Lord, but for Pastimes and creation Krishna appears in a variety of forms.

om purnam adah purnam idam purnat purnam udachyate
purnasya purnam adaya purnam evavasisyate

(Brhad-aranyaka-upanisad: 5.1.1)

“Krishna is infinite. He has infinite forms, and His infinite forms are all infinite. If you subtract anything from the infinite it is still infinite. Krishna’s infinite character is always naturally full, and all of Krishna’s expansions are also full. And still Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the most worshippable, original Lord.”

The spiritual world where Krishna lives eternally is called Vaikunthaloka or Paravyoma Dham. There, infinite eternally manifest forms of Krishna live within Their own abodes. We cannot conceive of this with our mundane intelligence. The Lord lives in the spiritual world in infinite different forms, each with His own paraphernalia, associates, and abode. All these forms of the Lord are known as Visnu-tattva. Lord Narayan is an expansion of Krishna who lives with His consort Laksmi Devi in Vaikunthaloka and enjoys unlimited power and opulence as He is gloriously worshipped by His associates with great majesty eternally.

Vaikuntha means vigata kuntha yasmad: Vaikunthaloka has the power to appear anywhere; it is infinite and can immediately take a position within the finite realm by the Lord’s will. Narayan has many Avatars. Mahavisnu, the maintainer of the whole material creation, is an Avatar of Narayan; Garbhodakasayi Visnu, the maintainer of this universe, is an Avatar of Narayan; and Ksirodakasayi Visnu, the maintainer of every jiva-soul, is an Avatar of Narayan. These Purus-avatars expand down from Narayan to maintain the material creation.

The Lord’s purpose

There are also other types of Avatars that come down from Narayan. There are the Lila-avatars: Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Vaman, Nrsimha, and so on. These forms of the Lord appear within the material universe but also have eternal abodes in Vaikunthaloka. There are also Yuga-avatars, forms of the Lord who distribute the dharma of an age; and Saktyaves-avatars, empowered jiva-souls who fulfil the Lord’s will. There are so many different types of Avatars that come down to this material world from Lord Narayan.

yada yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati bharata
abhyutthanam adharmasya tadatmanam srjamy aham
paritranaya sadhunam vinasaya cha duskrtam
dharma-samsthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge

(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 4.7-8)

“Whenever irreligion takes the place of religion and religion becomes disturbed, suppressed, or polluted, different forms of the Lord appear to rescue the conditioned jiva-souls and give nourishment to the sadhus. The Lord’s Avatars come to make peace in the world, re-establish the religion of the soul, and perform Their play for Their own purpose.”

The Lord does not only appear once in this world. He appears many, many times to fulfil His various purposes. Sometimes persons learn something about one form of the Lord and through that think they know everything about the Lord. The idea may come to them, “I am a Krishna-bhakta. I do not want to see the face of a Nrsimhadev-bhakta. I do not want to see the face of a Rama-bhakta.” This is not the proper understanding. It is a lack of real knowledge actually.

Really it is very good to praise other religions. By having respect for other religions we can make a proper comparative study of theism. That is very good. It is very good to know why we practise Krishna consciousness. There are so many demigods and so many forms of the Lord. We respect the son of God, his Father in Heaven, and everything. But why do we worship Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead? It is necessary to understand this.

The Lord of the Vedic culture

Lord Ramachandra is a very famous Avatar of the Lord who appeared in the Treta-yuga to re-establish the Vedic religion within the mundane world. Everywhere, everyone knows of Lord Ramachandra’s great character. All over India everyone is very enthusiastic to chant, “Jaya Rama!” His character is described in gist-form in Srimad Bhagavatam by Vedavyas, and in the Ramayana it is described in a grand way. There are so many stories about Lord Ramachandra’s great character, but the vital point of all of them is that He is Maryada Purusottam: He appeared to establish the Vedic religion, and His Pastimes were guided by the regulations of Vedic religion. All of His actions and His character were perfectly organised and moral. He set the example of the perfect practice of vidhi, the rules and regulations of the Vedic religion. His speciality was that He accepted only one wife (eka-patni-vrata-dharo).[26] Through His character and example Lord Ramachandra re-established the Vedic dharma.

The Lord of love and play

Lord Ramachandra’s character is so great, but it is completely different from Lord Krishna’s character. Lord Ramachandra is known as Maryada Purusottam, and Krishna is known as Lila Purusottam. Krishna’s Pastimes focus on love and play; for that reason Krishna is known as Lila Purusottam. When the Lord appears as Ramachandra He follows the rules of the Vedas perfectly, to the extreme. That is the character of Maryada Purusottam. But when Krishna appears to taste the love of His devotees, He sometimes does not follow the restrictions of the Vedic religion at all. Still, both Ramachandra and Krishna are Purusottam, forms of the Supreme Lord.

We must understand that Krishna is always the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He never loses His supreme position. Even if He does not follow the Vedic religion that He Himself establishes in the world in His other Avatars, He is still the Supreme Lord. We can understand this through the example of Bhismadev. Bhismadev had perfect moral character. It is beyond even doubt that Bhismadev could make any Vedic moral transgression. He was respected by everyone in the Vedic society as a Mahajan, a great, exemplary soul. Everyone everywhere knew of him and respected him. In large assemblies of kings, brahmans, and dignitaries, everyone would give first honour to Bhismadev. Everyone considered Bhismadev to have the highest dignity. But that Bhismadev gives full honour and obeisance to Krishna.

Once when Krishna came to an assembly of many great persons in which Bhismadev was the guest of honour, Bhismadev stood and said, “When Krishna is present here, He must receive first honour from everyone. He is more worshippable than anyone.” Then Bhismadev offered a flower to Krishna’s lotus feet in front of everyone. At that time Krishna had so many wives, so many girlfriends, and so many things. Through Bhismadev’s example everyone accepted that Krishna is Lord Krishna and He can do anything and everything.

Vidhi-marg and raga-marg

There is a great difference between the worship of Narayan and His Avatars, and the worship of Krishna. There are so many religious teachings in the world. It is very rare to get Krishna consciousness.

The Vedic religion’s main teaching is that you must be pious; you must follow the rules and regulations (vidhi) of the Vedas for proper social and religious life. The Vedic religion teaches that if your character and behaviour is very clean then you can worship and satisfy the Lord. Respect is ninety per cent of Vedic worship. Vedic religion enables you to respectfully worship the Lord in His form as Rama, Nrsimha, Narayan, or otherwise. Through mantram and many instruments of worship you can offer your devotion from a distance to the Lord according to the proper rules and regulations.

The worship of Krishna is very different from the formal worship of Vedic religion. To worship Krishna you must offer pure love, affection, and the hankering of your transcendental soul. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu taught this process and mood of worship, which is known as raga-marg. The speciality of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s religion is love and affection. That is the only property used for worship in the line of Krishna consciousness. Through attachment to Krishna, love and affection for Him develop. Love and affection are most attractive to Krishna, and as one’s love and affection for Him grow more and more, Krishna becomes more and more satisfied. If someone has love and affection for Krishna, then anything and everything they do will be satisfying to Him. Any soul with that type of transcendental property is most fortunate. Persons who prefer vidhi-marg like to worship Lord Ramachandra, or Lord Narayan, or other Avatars of the Lord, but persons who prefer the mood of love and affection for the Lord, raga-marg, must be attracted to Krishna.

In this way we can understand Krishna to be the Supreme Personality of Godhead—Reality the Beautiful. Everything we desire we can find fully within Krishna. We want charm, beauty, love, affection, and ecstasy; we want success in our lives. All of these are fully present and alive within Krishna consciousness. All ecstatic activity is found in full in the Krishna conception. If we will try to search for a reason to serve and worship Krishna, then the answer will come that everything we need is fully manifested in an effulgent way in Krishna consciousness. In Krishna consciousness we will find everything that we need, so we must worship Krishna.

What do we really need? We do not need awe or reverence; we need happiness. We need joy. We need beauty. We need love. We are searching for these qualities; birth after birth we are trying to search for these essential things. We need eternal existence, harmony, and the nectar of love, beauty, charm, and sweetness. If we search for these things, we will find that all of them are fully present in the Krishna conception. In no other God consciousness and in no other God conception are they fully present. The Ramachandra conception, the Narayan conception, the Baladev conception, all the other Avatars of Krishna—none of Them can give us the same rasa, the same ecstatic relationship with the Lord.[27]

The emporium of all ecstasy

Why do I say, “No other”? There is a reason. If you search within the Krishna conception, you will find the sonhood of Godhead—the supreme worshippable Lord manifest in a lovingly playful, youthful form surrounded by all five possible relationships (rasas) with the jiva-souls: santa [attachment], dasya [servitorship], sakhya [friendship], vatsalya [affectionate guardianship], and madhura [intimate love]. In other conceptions you may find relationships with God like the fatherhood of Godhead or servitorship to Godhead. We see that there are many other types of relationships with God. But according to rasa-vichar, the science of divine relationships, the sonhood of Godhead is the best.

The Supreme Lord’s position is that He is the supreme controller of everything. But if that Supreme Lord can also be controlled by love and affection, that is an even more glorious position. Why? A father bears the burden of maintaining his children. If a father has no guardian, he has to maintain himself and also bear the burden of maintaining his children. A master must maintain his servants. A friend must care for his friends. But a son can have everything; he can have all types of relationships. When a son has a guardian then he can even do wrong and still be protected. If the Absolute Lord performs His Pastimes in a youthful form, He can enjoy all possible relationships. He can have a father or guardian, and under their care He can simply play and enjoy. When the Lord assumes the form of a son, His Pastimes become the Sweet Absolute.

Krishna is known as Vrajendra Nandan, the son of the king of Vrndavan. Krishna has a father and guardian, so He Himself can play; He can be worry-free.[28] That is the most worshippable Sweet Absolute Reality—where Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is always playfully situated in the centre of everything.

When the Lord has the youthful form of a son, then all relationships are possible with Him. He can have a father, a mother, brothers, servants, friends, and girlfriends; He can have everything. As a son, Krishna can be served from every corner in all different types of loving, affectionate relationships (rasas), and He can give ecstasy and joy to the heart of everyone. That is full-fledged theism, and only in such a conception is all beauty, charm, and ecstasy beautifully playing. Krishna is the most beautiful and extremely merciful. So much charm, love, and harmony are existing within the ecstatic Lord of the Krishna conception.

So many different ecstatic feelings all merge together within Krishna consciousness. The jiva-souls feel unlimited happiness through that. It is inconceivable but still it comes to them, and the process is a very sweet process. Santa, dasya, sakhya, vatsalya, and madhura rasas are the five kinds of relationships with Krishna. All are ecstatic; all are filled with loveliness, happiness, sweetness, beauty, and everything. To describe these Srila Rupa Goswami and Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami use the word chamatkara [astonishing]. Because all rasas are manifest in full with only the divine form of Krishna, Krishna is described as the Akhila-rasamrta-murti: emporium of all rasa.

Krishna’s super-excellent qualities

Srila Rupa Goswami has explained the four special, extremely wonderful qualities that Krishna, the son of Nanda Maharaj, alone possesses—the qualities that Lord Narayan, Lord Visnu, Lord Rama, and so on do not possess. These are the qualities that distinguish Krishna as Svayam Bhagavan, the most worshippable personality of Godhead.

sarvadbhuta-chamatkara-lila-kallola-varidhih
atulya-madhura-prema-mandita-priya-mandalah
tri-jagan-manasakarsi-murali-kala-kujitah
asamanordhva-rupa-sri-vismapita-characharah

(Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu: Daksina-vibhaga, 141–2)

Sarvadbhuta-chamatkara-lila-kallola-varidhih: the first quality is that the Pastimes of Bhagavan Sri Krishna are like an ocean filled with dancing waves that stun and astonish everyone.

Atulya-madhura-prema-mandita-priya-mandalah: the second quality is that in His Pastimes Krishna is always surrounded by His associates, the super sweet, sweet gopis, gopa-balakas, and other residents of Vrndavan Dham, whose hearts and souls have full, unequalled dedication to Him in five kinds of relationships led by madhura-rasa.

Tri-jagan-manasakarsi-murali-kala-kujitah: the third quality is that Krishna attracts the minds of everyone within the transcendental and mundane universes and enters the hearts of His devotees with the melodious vibration of His flute. Srila Guru Maharaj explained that Om and gayatri come from Krishna’s flute song and that when He plays the flute, Krishna sings the glories of Srimati Radharani (Radha-padam dhimahi).

Asamanordhva-rupa-sri-vismapita-characharah: the fourth quality is that the personal beauty (sri, saundarya) of Krishna’s divine form is beyond compare. All moving and nonmoving living entities are astonished and faint to behold the beauty of Krishna’s divine form.

Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu described Krishna’s four super-excellent qualities in this way. Among these four topmost qualities of Krishna the final quality of His supremely attractive form is the highest. Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami said, bhusanera bhusana anga. This means that nothing is more beautiful than Krishna’s transcendental form: Krishna’s form beautifies even the ornaments He wears—Krishna’s divine form is the ornament on His ornaments.

We hear definitively that even Krishna Himself is maddened by the beauty of His form. When Krishna stands in front of a mirror, He forgets Himself and attempts to embrace His image in the mirror. He becomes mugdha, melted and astonished, to see His divine form. Krishna showed this to be true by His appearance as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Krishna is the reservoir of all beauty, and He Himself becomes mad to see His beauty. That is the incomparable quality and qualification of Krishna. No one can compare with the beauty of Krishna’s divine form or the love and charm flowing throughout His Pastimes.[29]

Irreversible vision

Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu also expressed His own vision of Krishna’s divine form:

smeram bhangi-traya-parichitam sachi-vistirna-drstim
vamsi-nyastadhara-kisalayam ujjvalam chandrakena
govindakhyam hari-tanum itah kesi-tirthopakanthe
ma preksisthas tava yadi sakhe bandhu-sange ’sti rangah

(Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu: Purva-vibhaga, 2.239)

Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur explained this verse: “If you have any attachment to staying within your circle of friends and enjoying mundane life, do not go to Keshi Ghat to see Sri Govinda’s divine form, which is the reservoir of all beauty. If you see His divine form attractively bent in three places, His stunning eyes, and His face glowing in the moonshine as He plays His flute, you will become completely enchanted and you will not be able to leave. You will never be able to return to the so-called pleasures of material life. It may be better for you not to go there.”

Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu expressed his vision of Krishna in this verse. It is his own vision. When we hear this verse we can feel something, maybe 0.1 per cent of Srila Rupa Goswami’s divine realisation. We cannot actually conceive of it. Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu can express it and we can simply try to harmonise with his feelings.

The divinity of the human form

Lord Brahma also saw the divine form of Krishna and expressed his vision with his verse:

isvarah paramah krsnah sach-chid-ananda-vigrahah
anadir adir govindah sarva-karana-karanam

(Sri Brahma-samhita: 5.1)

In this first verse of Brahma-samhita we see the real form of Lord Krishna expressed. This verse describes Krishna’s aprakrta form, His supramundane form, in which He plays with the cows, cowherd boys, and gopis in His eternal abode of Vrndavan in five kinds of relationships. Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami also described this form:

krsnera yateka khela sarvottama nara-lila
nara-vapu tahara svarupa
gopa-vesa, venu-kara nava-kisora, nata-vara
nara-lilara haya anurupa

krsnera madhura rupa, suna, sanatana
ye rupera eka kana dubaya saba tribhuvana
sarva prani kare akarsana[30]

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 21.101–102)

[“The best of all of Krishna’s Pastimes are His human-like Pastimes. His human-like form is His original form. His cowherd boy dress, flute-playing, adolescence, and superb dancing perfectly suit His human-like Pastimes. How beautiful is Krishna’s human-like form? One drop of its beauty floods the whole of the three worlds and attracts every living entity within them.”]

Krishna’s original form is like that of a human, like that of our own relative. The human form is the Lord’s original form and is the Sweet Absolute. When this is understood, then we can harmonise everything with that Reality. Without this realisation it is very difficult to harmonise so much of our worldly experience. The Pastimes of Krishna can harmonise everything. Evam sva-chitte svata eva siddha (SB: 2.2.6): when Krishna’s transcendental Pastimes reveal themselves in our hearts we will understand everything perfectly.[31]

The rising of the divine sun

Krishna appeared in His human-like form here in this mundane world like the other Avatars, but Krishna’s divine human-like form, Reality the Beautiful, is eternally present in the spiritual realm of Goloka Vrndavan. In Srimad Bhagavad-gita Krishna said to Arjuna:

janma karma cha me divyam evam yo vetti tattvatah
tyaktva deham punar janma naiti mam eti so ’rjuna

(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 4.9)

“Arjuna, My birth and death in this world are not like the birth and death of ordinary human persons. I show Myself to be like them when I appear, but actually I existed before I appeared in this world and continue to exist after I disappear. My form and appearance are divyam [divine].”

Divyam means aprakrtam. Aprakrtam means that Lord Krishna’s divine form appears like an ordinary man’s form, but it is actually not made of anything mundane. Krishna’s form is a transcendental form which is perfect, positive, and eternally existent in Goloka Vrndavan, the highest plane within Vaikunthaloka. Anyone who understands Lord Krishna’s divine form and appearance in this way will be liberated from birth and death. It is necessary to properly understand that His appearance and disappearance are not like the birth and death of mankind. They are like the rising and setting of the sun. The sun does not die when it crosses the horizon. It simply disappears from our vision temporarily and then reappears later. Anyone who understands Krishna’s divine appearance and disappearance in this way is liberated and attains the service of Lord Krishna in the transcendental world.

Krishna gave this knowledge to the world in Srimad Bhagavad-gita. We must honour and worship everything about Lord Krishna as transcendental. There is nothing mundane about His Name, Form, Qualities, Pastimes, and Associates. The scriptures have cautioned us about this.

visnau sarvesvarese tad-itara-sama-dhir yasya va naraki sah
(Padma-purana)

“If we think Sarvesvar Visnu, the Lord of everything, is an ordinary person, then our understanding will be imperfect and that will take us to a hellish condition.”

By the grace of the scriptures, our Gurus, and the sadhus, we must think: “The birth and death of Lord Krishna are not like that of an ordinary human. They are transcendental. Krishna’s form is transcendental and eternal. Isvarah Paramah Krsnah Sach-chid-ananda-vigrahah. Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, He is the Creator of all creation, and He has an eternal divine form.”

The sonhood of Godhead

Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu has explained step by step how the play of Sri Krishna the Sweet Absolute is supreme according to rasa-vichar, the science of spiritual relationships.

vaikunthaj janito vara madhu-puri tatrapi rasotsavad
vrndaranyam udara-pani-ramanat tatrapi govardhanah
radha-kundam ihapi gokula-pateh premamrtaplavanat
kuryad asya virajato giri-tate sevam viveki na kah

(Sri Upadesamrta: 9)

This verse is very famous. It is very small, but it fully describes the position and gist of all the Pastimes of Lord Krishna. Vaikuntha, the abode of Lord Narayan, is infinite. In His opulent Pastimes in Vaikunthaloka, Lord Narayan eternally exists as the worshippable Deity, and all His servitors serve Him there forever, from a respectful distance.

Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu explains that in Vaikuntha there is no janita, birth, of the Lord. This means that Lord Narayan has no mother or father. Thus Madhupuri—Mathura Vrndavan—is superior to Vaikunthaloka because there the Lord manifests His transcendental Pastimes of birth and childhood. When the Lord takes birth and plays as a boy, His Pastimes are more exalted and transcendentally glorious. Why? Because the full range of relationships are possible with Him.

Krishna’s Pastimes manifest the full range of relationships: santa [attachment], dasya [servitorship], sakhya [friendship], vatsalya [affectionate guardianship], and madhura [intimate love]. Lord Ramachandra’s Pastimes also include birth, so His Pastimes are more elevated than those of Lord Narayan. But Krishna’s Pastimes have something more than Lord Ramachandra’s Pastimes. That is parakiya-rasa, paramour love. Paramour love is found only within Lord Krishna’s Pastimes.

Lord Ramachandra’s nature and character is to always follow the Vedic religion. In Lord Ramachandra’s Pastimes the full range of rasas are present, but their movement is controlled by the rulings of the Vedas. In Lord Ramachandra’s Pastimes the full freedom of rasa does not show itself in an effulgent way. Up to dasya-rasa Lord Ramachandra’s Pastimes are so nice. Dasya-rasa is firm and full in Lord Ramachandra’s Pastimes. Sakhya-rasa, vatsalya-rasa, and madhura-rasa are suppressed in His Pastimes. Sita Devi is Ramachandra’s wife, but Her mood is, “I am a servant of Ramachandra.” The tendency of all of Ramachandra’s associates—His wife Sita Devi, His father Dasarath, His mother Kausalya, and so on—is to consider themselves servants of Ramachandra.

This means that the madhura-rasa in Lord Ramachandra’s Pastimes moves only according to the respectful mood taught in the Vedas. Lord Ramachandra set the example of Vedic dharma and accepted only one wife. His quality is that He has only one consort. Thus there is no opportunity for the jiva-souls to become consorts of Lord Ramachandra. He will not accept anyone else but Sita Devi as His wife. But the Lord is so beautiful and attractive that we hanker to see His beauty and naturally feel that we want to be His consort. As Ramachandra, the Lord will not accept us in that way; but as Krishna, the Lord will. Krishna is the form in which the Lord will accept us not only as His wives but as His paramour lovers. Krishna has 16,108 wives, and, more than that, He has millions of girlfriends.

Krishna is the emporium of all rasa; the full range of relationships are possible with Him. In Vrndavan, Krishna takes birth. He accepts service in vatsalya-rasa and tatrapi Rasotsavad: He sports in the paramour love of madhura-rasa in the Rasa-lila, His dancing Pastimes with His girlfriends. And when Krishna performs the Rasa-lila, He does not enjoy paramour love with only a small group: Krishna plays with millions of gopis in this way. Krishna has that capacity.

Krishna is Supreme and everything is under His control, but as Vrajendra Nandan, in the play of the sonhood of Godhead, Krishna is worry-free and simply enjoys unlimitedly. That is the full-fledged theism found in Krishna consciousness. In His supreme divine form of Krishna the Lord shows His supreme nature through His capacity to enjoy.

raya kahe,—krsna haya ‘dhira-lalita’
nirantara kama-krida—yahara charita

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 8.187)

This is a wonderful expression found within the Ramananda-samvad of Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta. There Ramananda Ray says that Krishna’s nature is dhira-lalita, which means He is always in the beautiful ecstatic mood of srngara-rasa [madhura-rasa], and He has no job other than enjoying with the gopis. Nirantara, without ever stopping, Krishna playfully enjoys, spreads His Pastimes, and accepts the service of His beloved devotees.

Inconceivable sweetness

This is the divine conception of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and He taught that it is the gist of Srimad Bhagavatam.

aradhyo bhagavan vrajesa-tanayas tad-dhama vrndavanam
ramya kachid upasana vraja-vadhu-vargena va kalpita
srimad-bhagavatam pramanam amalam prema pumartho mahan
sri-chaitanya-mahaprabhor matam idam tatradarah nah parah

(Srila Visvanath Chakravarti Thakur)

“The worshippable, desirable goal of our life is the service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His divine form of Vrajendra Nandan Krishna, who is manifest in His abode of Vrndavan. All beauty, all charm, everything opulent, tasteful, and ecstatic is present within Krishna’s Vrndavan-lila. Everything is there in Vrndavan: Vrajesa Tanay Krishna and His full love-play. Service there, in the mood of the Vraja-vadhus, Krishna’s beloved girlfriends, is the supreme service, and that is our life’s goal, that type of ecstatic love for Lord Krishna.”

All beauty, ecstasy, and everything is present within the Krishna conception. Only Krishna can be our heart and soul. The full-fledged conception of Krishna consciousness is found in that Vrajendra Nandan Krishna conception, the sonhood of Godhead. A great devotee, Gunaraj Khan, wrote a book named Sri Krsna-vijay. It begins:

“nanda-nandana krsna—mora prana-natha”
ei vakye vikainu tara vamsera hata

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 15.100)

“Nanda Nandan Krishna is my heart and soul.” Mahaprabhu Sri Chaitanyadev was deeply attracted to this conception, and after hearing Gunaraj Khan’s expression, Mahaprabhu was so charmed that He said, “I consider Myself a slave of a dog from the house of Gunaraj Khan.”

Raghupati Upadhyaya also described the sonhood of Godhead to Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu:

srutim apare smrtim itare bharatam
anye bhajantu bhava-bhitah
aham iha nandam vande
yasyalinde param brahma

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 19.96)

“Those who are very fearful of this mundane environment can be that way. They can worship the sruti, smrti, Mahabharata, Vedas, Vedanta, Upanisads, and so on. I do not want to go that way. I do not see that as my necessity. I feel that all I need is Krishna’s mercy. I know that Krishna plays in the courtyard of His father Nanda Maharaj, so I feel I will receive Krishna’s mercy through Nanda Maharaj. I feel that I need only to take the dust of Nanda Maharaj’s lotus feet on my head. By doing that I will surely receive Lord Krishna’s mercy.”

In his verse, Raghupati Upadhyaya describes Krishna as Parambrahma, the Supreme Absolute. Everyone already knows Krishna is Parambrahma: Brahma-samhita said it; Srimad Bhagavatam said it; and Krishna Himself said it everywhere in Srimad Bhagavad-gita. But who can conceive that that Krishna, who is Parambrahma, plays in the courtyard of His father Nanda Maharaj? Who can conceive that Mother Yasomati chastises Krishna with a stick? That is the inconceivable beauty of the Sweet Absolute Reality of the Krishna conception—the sonhood of Godhead.

The ocean of rasa

Raghupati Upadhyaya later charmed Mahaprabhu with another verse. Krishna does not have only one kind of divine form; He has three, one for each of the environments where He engages in His Pastimes (Dvaraka, Mathura, and Vrndavan). The quality and qualification of Vrndavan Krishna, the youthful, playful Krishna, is supreme. Raghupati Upadhyaya said:

syamam eva param rupam puri madhu-puri vara
vayah kaisorakam dhyeyam adya eva paro rasah

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 19.106)

“The divine form of Syamasundar Krishna is the Lord’s supreme form; Mathura Vrndavan is the Lord’s supreme abode; Krishna’s youthful form is the supreme form of worship; and adi-rasa, madhura-rasa, is the supreme rasa.”

The divine youthful form of Krishna is the source of all rasa. All rasa comes from Him like Mana Sarovar, the lake in which the Ganges and all other sacred rivers are present. Krishna is known as rasabdhi, the ocean of rasa, the ocean of nectar. The jiva-souls are so fortunate because they are tiny and can swim in the nectarean ocean of Sri Krishna’s Pastimes.[32]

Rasa has five principal styles—santa, dasya, sakhya, vatsalya, madhura—and seven kinds of secondary styles—hasya [laughter], adbhuta [wonder], vira [valour], karuna [sorrow], raudra [anger], bibhatsa [disgust], and bhay [fear]. In Krishna’s Pastimes all of these rasas swim together like baby fish happily playing together and kissing.

The origin of paramour love

When time and fortune favourably come to us, we can enquire about rasa and our research will lead us to madhura-rasa. There are so many rasas but all rasas are present inside madhura-rasa. Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami explained:

akasadi guna yena para para bhute
eka-dui-tina-chari krame pancha prthivite

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila 19.233)

“As sky, air, fire, and water are present within earth, so all rasas—santa, dasya, sakhya, and vatsalya—are present within madhura-rasa.”

Madhura-rasa is the supreme ecstasy. It is sarva-rasa-samahara: the combined form of all rasas. We have heard that Krishna is the Akhila-rasamrta-murti—the emporium of all rasa—the concentrated form of all rasa, but, more than this general idea, we can understand that because all rasas are fully present within madhura-rasa, Krishna being described as the Akhila-rasamrta-murti means that He is Srngara-rasa murtiman: the concentrated form of madhura-rasa in paramour love.

All the scriptures have said this also, and that is a miracle! Vedavyas began the Vedanta-darsana with the sutras, “Athato Brahma jijnasa: search for Brahma”, and “Janmady asya Yatah: He—Purnabrahma Krishna—is the source of everything”. Then he wrote, “Anandamayo ’bhyasat: He, Krishna, is anandamaya, the Sach-chid-ananda-vigrahah: the embodiment of truth, consciousness, and ecstasy.” So the Vedanta-darsana begins by telling us, “Lord Krishna is anandamaya: He is the reservoir of all ecstasy, and we can find our full nourishment in Him.” Then Vedavyas said, raso vai Sah: “He is rasa; Krishna is rasa”. So Krishna is the Creator of all creation (janmady asya Yatah), with rasa, with sweetness. In other words, it is Krishna the emporium of all rasa who is the Creator of all creation. This means that it is His manifestation—Krishna the Sweet Absolute’s manifestation—that is everywhere! It is the play of the Divine Couple, Radha-Krishna, that is the origin of everything; it is Radha-Krishna’s play that is overflooded all over the transcendental and material worlds. This is the real meaning of janmady asya Yatah, “That from which everything comes.” It is necessary for us to realise this and connect with it.

The Divine Couple

The play of Krishna, the supreme Powerful, with His supreme Power, Radharani, is eternally going on in Goloka Vrndavan, the highest plane within Vaikunthaloka. Krishna and His Power are nondifferent, Sasakti-saktiman, but Krishna divided Himself from His Power for the purpose of lila, Pastimes. He divided His Power from Himself for His own satisfaction and play. So the phrase ‘Supreme Personality of Godhead’ means Krishna the all-powerful with His Power (Radharani).

The Powerful and His Power are nondifferent. We cannot differentiate Them just as we cannot differentiate the sun from its heat and light. Krishna, the Powerful, is always depending upon His Power. Without His Power, the Powerful does not have His existence; He does not have His play. He is like a dry battery with no charge. We have heard Suka and Sari, the parrots of Vrndavan, debating:

suka bali amara krsna giridhari chhila
sari bali amara radha sakti sancharila

Suka said, “My Krishna lifted Govardhan Hill.”

Sari replied, “It is only because Radharani gave Her power to Krishna that Krishna was powerful enough to lift Govardhan Hill.”

In this way we understand the position of Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as Sasakti-saktiman: Krishna, the Powerful, who depends on His Power, Radharani.

The Divine Couple has been described very concisely and conclusively by Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami in a full-fledged way in the eighth chapter of the Madhya-lila of Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta. There the full-fledged theism of Krishna consciousness is exposed. The position of Krishna and the position of Radharani has been fully described for us. There Mahaprabhu Sri Chaitanyadev asked Ramananda Ray many questions, and the supreme conclusion of worship of the Divine Couple Sri Sri Radha-Krishna was revealed. Srila Svarup Damodar has explained this concisely for us,

radha krsna-pranaya-vikrtir hladini saktir asmad
ekatmanav api bhuvi pura deha-bhedam gatau tau

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Adi-lila, 1.5)

“Radha-Krishna are One, but They divided Themselves for Their divine play in madhura-rasa-lila.”

The clue to the whole of Radha-Krishna’s Pastimes is given here.

radha-krsna eka atma, dui deha dhari’
anyonye vilase rasa asvadana kari’

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Adi-lila, 4.56)

Srila Svarup Damodar said, “Radha-Krsna ekatma: Radha and Krishna are One, that is, Sasakti-saktiman, but They have divided into two forms for Their own divine play of paramour love.”

If you say that Krishna is saktiman [powerful], then His sakti [power], Radharani, is already with Him; otherwise He could not be saktiman. Various forms of Krishna sometimes appear in this mundane world, but if you will understand that the original Divine Form of Sri Krishna Himself is the cause of all causes, the Paramesvar, the Creator of all, who Himself has no creator, then you must see that it is Sasakti-saktiman Krishna—Sri Krishna with His sakti Radharani—that is behind everything (janmady asya Yatah).

The taste of nectar

Like his Vedanta-darsana, Vedavyas began Srimad Bhagavatam with the phrase janmady asya Yatah. By doing this he showed that Srimad Bhagavatam is a commentary on the Vedanta-darsana, though at the same time he also showed that Srimad Bhagavatam starts from the platform of madhura-rasa.

nigama-kalpa-taror galitam phalam
suka-mukhad amrta-drava-samyutam
pibata bhagavatam rasam alayam
muhur aho rasika bhuvi bhavukah

(Srimad Bhagavatam: 1.1.3)

If we think of the Vedas as a kalpa-taru, a wish-fulfilling tree, then Srimad Bhagavatam is like their fruit. Galitam phalam means Srimad Bhagavatam is like a nicely ripened fruit without skin or seed. Its rasa, nectarean juice, is very sweet and palatable. It contains the gist of all transcendental ecstasy and all the Vedic scriptures. Pibata Bhagavatam rasam alayam: until death try to taste the Bhagavat’s rasa. Again and again it will be tasteful to you. You will always find new taste there—in the Divine Couple’s eternal Pastimes. ⬆︎

Section Three

The Soul

Dasa-mula-tattva

Truths Five, Six, and Seven:

tad bhinnamsams cha jivan
prakrti-kavalitan
tad-vimuktams cha bhavat

Souls are separated parts of Krishna.
Some of them are captivated by maya.
Some of them are liberated from maya by devotion.

Chapter Six

The Evolution of Consciousness

Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu gave this consciousness to the world:

jivera ‘svarupa’ haya—krsnera ‘nitya-dasa’
krsnera ‘tatastha-sakti’ ‘bhedabheda-prakasa’
suryamsa-kirana, yaichhe agni-jvala-chaya
svabhavika krsnera tina-prakara ‘sakti’ haya

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 20.108–9)

Krishna is like a chit-surya, a great sun made of spiritual energy, and the jiva-souls are like rays of that spiritual sun. Just as the sun and the sun’s rays are both different and nondifferent, Krishna and the jiva-souls are simultaneously different and nondifferent. Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur said, “Tad bhinnamsams cha jivan: the jiva-souls are distinct, finite parts of the infinite Lord.” In this way the jiva-souls belong to the Lord. They come from the Lord’s energy, His marginal potency (tatastha-sakti). The jiva-souls naturally have a subservient relationship with the Lord, that is, all jiva-souls are eternal servitors of their Lord, Sri Krishna. That is their natural identity. This is Mahaprabhu Sri Chaitanyadev’s primary teaching: the service of Krishna is the true dharma of every jiva-soul.

Divine energies

The jiva-souls are one of the Lord’s three primary energies.

visnu-saktih para prokta ksetrajnakhya tatha para
avidya-karma-samjnanya trtiya saktir isyate

(Visnu-purana: 6.7.61)

Lord Krishna’s power has three divisions: His para-sakti [internal spiritual energy]; His ksetrajna-sakti [marginal spiritual energy], which manifests the individual jiva-souls; and His apara-sakti [material energy]. These three main potencies of Krishna are also sometimes known by other names such as the antaranga-sakti, tatastha-sakti, and bahiranga-sakti. All of these energies are activated by Krishna’s will for His play and satisfaction.

The Divine Couple’s transcendental play with Their paraphernalia, that is, all of Krishna-lila, is part of the chit-sakti [spiritual potency]. The jiva-souls come out from the tatastha-sakti for Krishna’s play and satisfaction, as well as the creation of the material world. The material environment and the bewilderment of the conditioned souls come from the maya-sakti [material energy], which is like the Lord’s shadow potency, a reflection of His spiritual energy (chit-sakti).

The jiva-souls are the Lord’s marginal potency, tatastha-sakti. Tata means a shore, the area on the bank of a river between water and land. Tatastha-sakti means the Lord’s energy that is situated on the margin between the spiritual and material energy, and can adapt to either environment.

Searching for love

Question: If “not a blade of grass moves without the will of the Lord”, then do the jiva-souls have free will?

Srila Govinda Maharaj: Krishna gives the jiva-souls some free will. Krishna wants to see if the jiva-souls will willingly serve His divine lotus feet and dedicate themselves to Him. That is Krishna’s desire. He gives the jiva-souls free will and does not disturb it. This is because He wants to have a loving relationship with them, and love is not possible without free will. This is why Krishna created His neutral sakti, the jiva-sakti: for the expansion of His loving Pastimes.

The jiva-soul’s nature (dharma), given by Krishna, is to have free will. Free will means consciousness. Consciousness means thinking, feeling, and willing. Every jiva-soul has these three capacities. And they are always active; the jiva-souls can never stop thinking, feeling, and willing. The jiva-souls are always pursuing something; by their nature they are always active and seeking.

The jiva-souls are part and parcel of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, who is the Sach-chid-ananda-vigrahah: the embodiment of eternity, consciousness, and ecstasy. This means the jiva-soul’s nature is also sach-chid-ananda, eternally existent, conscious, and ecstatic. The jiva-soul’s existence is built by Krishna’s own existence, just as a sun-ray comes from the sun. The jiva-soul’s thinking, feeling, and willing, the jiva-soul’s conscious nature (chit), is always seeking the jiva-soul’s positive nature—ananda. This means that they are by nature searching for Krishna, searching for the ecstasy, love, beauty, and charm that are present within Him.

Divine magnetism

The jiva-souls feel whatever they do. Whenever the jiva-souls feel the presence of beauty they naturally want to dedicate themselves to that, to serve and worship the source of that beauty. This capacity and tendency for dedication is the actual function of the jiva-souls’ conscious nature, of their thinking, feeling, and willing. We see that everywhere within all cultures people have a tendency to worship. Even jungle-men worship the sun, moon, and ocean, or the trees, mountains, caves, and so on. All jiva-souls’ nature is to worship. It is existing within their consciousness. Pure devotional life, that is, pure attraction and service to beauty, is the actual nature, the actual dharma, of the jiva-souls.

It is within the nature of all jiva-souls to be attracted by the magnetic power of beauty. When a jiva-soul’s whole existence is overcome by the attractive power of beauty, then the jiva-soul manifests its full nature as an eternal servant. The two syllables of the word Krs-na mean akarsana kare and ananda dana: Krishna attracts the jiva-souls and gives ecstasy to them through His service. Krishna is like a great attractive magnet and the jiva-souls, His parts and parcels, are like iron filings that are divinely attracted to Him. The jiva-souls are automatically attracted to Krishna and His Pastimes in the transcendental world, and the jiva-souls feel naturally fulfilled in their relationship with Krishna, that is, in Krishna-bhakti. This is the sanatan-dharma, the jaiva-dharma, the eternal religion of all jiva-souls. Really religion is one, “Dharmo yasyam Mad-atmakah (SB: 11.14.3): all souls must be attracted to the divine sun, Sri Krishna, and serve Him with their full existence.”[33] This is the property of all jiva-souls. It is not anything mundane or made by humanity.

Entering the illusory environment

Question: How do the jiva-souls enter into the material nature?

Srila Govinda Maharaj: Whenever jiva-souls manifest within the marginal energy (tatastha-sakti), they mostly go to the side of the spiritual energy (chit-sakti). There they find the light of their positive spiritual existence in the company of their all-attractive Lord in the eternal world, Vaikunthaloka. Some unfortunate souls, however, come to the negative side, the maya-sakti.

krsna bhuli’ sei jiva anadi-bahirmukha
ataeva maya tare deya samsara-duhkha

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 20.117)

Sometimes jiva-souls, by their misfortune, jump into maya [illusion] to attempt to enjoy material existence. When their vision, not seeing Krishna, moves to the negative side, they see maya, and immediately feel, “Oh! There is great beauty! I can master and enjoy that energy.” In this way unfortunate jiva-souls jump into the darkness of the illusory environment.

Maya means the illusory environment, the Lord’s shadow potency, His dark power, which attracts the sparking light of the jiva-souls. Maya Devi is one of the Lord’s potencies, and by His will she has great attractive power.

krsna-bahirmukha hana bhoga-vanchha kare
nikata-stha maya tare japatiya dhare

(Sri Prema-vivarta: 6.3)

Whenever unfortunate souls want to enjoy separately from their Lord and come under the spell of Maya’s attraction, they jump towards her and she immediately embraces them. She weaves a web around them, binding them as her prisoners. These jiva-souls are immediately covered by the dark power of Maya’s illusory environment and thrown into the waves of birth and death.

The unfortunate group of jiva-souls who are bound by Maya Devi is very small though. Actually, within the total transcendental reality, the mayik jagat, the illusory material universe, is like a very small skin spot. The souls in this world are a very small, insignificant minority, and they live in the material environment like prisoners. When people break the rules and regulations of society they are sent to prison. Prison is supposed to reform criminals, and this world is like a prison house for purifying the jiva-souls. But the number of people in prison is always a very small percentage of the total population. Today in India there are at least 90 crores [900 million] of people but only 25 lakhs [2.5 million] of prisoners. It is only a small portion of the jiva-souls who unfortunately want to enjoy maya and are subjected to the bondage and suffering of material existence.

mayadhyaksena prakrtih suyate sa-characharam
hetunanena kaunteya jagad viparivartate[34]

(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 9.10)

Srila Guru Maharaj explained that the material universe functions in a cyclic way under the Lord’s direction. By the Lord’s will, the material energy manifests the matter of the mundane universe and then becomes filled with moving and non-moving life forms, that is, jiva-souls. In His form of Visnu, Krishna casts His glance upon maya. Through His glance He throws His power, His lingam [male potency] into prakrti, the material nature. Tal-lingam Bhagavan Sambhur (Bs: 5.8): the personification of that reproductive potency thrown by Visnu is Sambhu, Lord Siva. When Visnu casts His glance over maya, the form of Sambhu appears, and it is Sambhu who directly touches maya, the material energy. Through Sambhu, Visnu’s neutral power made up of the jiva-souls enters into the womb of material nature and comes out in a divided way in millions and millions of parts. In this way all the jiva-souls enter into the material world and activate the material energy.

Evolution: material or spiritual?

Question: As a university student, all of my science classes are based on Darwin’s theory of evolution that humans evolved from previous species who evolved from inanimate matter. How can I integrate Darwin’s theory of evolution with your teachings?

Srila Govinda Maharaj: If two ideas are completely different, like negative and positive charges, then it is not possible to harmonise them. If you try to combine negative and positive charges without the support of a neutral position, then a shock is inevitable. There is always a clash between materialistic and spiritual theories, so you will only find harmony when you try to discover what is actually negative and positive.

Mundane educational institutions teach Darwin’s theory of evolution, although it has never been proven. Darwin’s theory is not a complete explanation of existence because it does not actually explain where movement and consciousness come from. Its conclusions are speculations based upon observations of fossils. Because Darwin’s theory is based only upon the observations of the senses, it cannot properly determine the true origin of consciousness—the senses are themselves instruments of consciousness.

Darwin’s theory of evolution is completely different from conclusive transcendental knowledge. Transcendental knowledge appears directly in the heart through revelation in the association of sadhus and scriptures. It does not rely on the senses or mind. Only transcendental knowledge is completely authoritative and free from illusion. Only through transcendental knowledge is there the possibility of having complete and satisfying knowledge of all existence—of both matter and spirit.

Organised creation

The scriptures explain that there are 400,000 types of human species, chatur-laksani manusah (Pp). We can agree that it is possible for some of these types of human species to come about according to the ideas given in Darwin’s theory, but we can never agree that all humans came about in that way. The Vedic scriptures explain that creation begins with the appearance of Brahma, and Brahma engineers the rest of the universal creation under the order of the Supreme Lord.

One name of Brahma is Svayambhu, ‘Self-born’. Brahma is the first created being within the universe, and there is only one Brahma. There is only one self-born being because Brahma himself creates all other beings. In the past, and certainly within the five thousand years of modern history, there has never lived another being like Brahma.

The scientists have now developed their gene theory. Through that they have changed the forms of some species. But if all the various life forms in this world were created by accidental changes in genes, then another being like Brahma might have been created. Because this has never happened we can understand that creation is not random and species do not appear simply by accident. In other words, consciousness is controlling creation.

Expressions of desire

The Vedas explain that creation happens by the will of the Lord. But they explain that creation does not actually come from the Lord Himself directly; it comes from and through His marginal potency, the tatastha-sakti. To understand this we can consider that everything we can recognise in this world—humans, trees, fish, animals, insects, rocks, clouds, and so on—is an expression of consciousness. All recognisable forms in this universe are manifestations of jiva-souls. The Vedic theory is that the spark of life, the jiva-soul, is spiritual and eternal. It is not a creation or formulation of matter. The spiritual jiva-souls enter anywhere and everywhere within the dull matter of the material energy and give rise to so many different forms and combinations of material energy, according to their desires. Even though they are covered by material energy in this way, the jiva-souls, as sparks of life, particles of spirit, are not themselves material. The jiva-souls are spiritual, and, as conscious beings with desires, they express themselves differently within the material energy. They give rise to all the different material forms and movement found within the universe. The creation of variegation within the material universe is actually produced by the presence, consciousness, and desires of the jiva-souls.

Infinitesimal and infinite

The jiva-soul’s existence is very, very tiny. You cannot see it with a microscope.

balagra-sata-bhagasya satadha kalpitasya cha
bhago jivah sa vijneyah sa chanantyaya kalpate

(Svetasvatara-upanisad: 5.9)

“The size of the jiva-soul’s form is compared to the tip of a hair that has been divided one hundred times and then divided one hundred times again.”

It is miraculous that the sparking light of only one jiva-soul has the power to illuminate the entire universe. All atoms within the universe are forms animated by jiva-souls, and we can understand through the scientists’ electron-proton theory how much power is present within every atom of creation, that is, within every jiva-soul. Everyone has heard about the power of the atomic bomb; they have heard about how much power is released when the form of only one atom is broken. In that way one can easily understand something about the greatness of the power of every jiva-soul.

To understand how the jiva-souls have such great power we can consider that even a part and parcel of the Infinite is infinite. Anywhere a jivatma is present, the Paramatma [Supersoul] is also present. The Paramatma lives in the heart of every jivatma. In the Upanisads it is said:

dva suparna sayuja sakhaya

samanam vrksam parisasvajate
(Svetasvatara-upanisad: 4.6)

“Two birds, the Paramatma and the jivatma, are perched together like friends on the same branch of a peepul tree.”

The Paramatma is always with the jivatma, and the jivatma receives its power and light from the Paramatma. The jivatma’s existence is very subtle, but it can wield infinite power because it is directly related with the Infinite reality, the Paramatma. Whether a jiva-soul lives within an elephant body, a tiger’s body, an insect body, or a human body, is not a factor. The jivatma can show its light and power anywhere and everywhere. Material space and size are insignificant.

Matter and consciousness

There is another way we can understand the relationship between matter and consciousness. If someone asks, “What came first, consciousness or fossils?”, we answer that we cannot discuss fossils if we are not first conscious. Consciousness is original. Fossils come into existence through the presence, and by the influence, of consciousness. Consciousness always comes first, before matter.

This is difficult to understand, and I even heard Srila Guru Maharaj debating this point with other Acharyas. Srila Guru Maharaj would never accept fossils to be original. He would always say that behind fossils is consciousness; otherwise, it would not be possible for them to exist. The knower must exist before the known object. Srila Guru Maharaj’s conclusion was, “Everything is existing within consciousness, and everything is built by consciousness. Nothing is jada [matter].”

What is matter? Matter is our illusion. Matter is our misconception. One property of consciousness is that it is always moving, it is always active and dynamic. All movement in the universe is produced by the influence of consciousness upon matter. A stone may appear to you to be solid matter, but actually there is movement, and therefore consciousness, within stone. Within one day we cannot understand that it is moving, but after a thousand years or ten thousand years we will see that a stone has changed its form. In this way we can understand that at all times it is moving. How is it that stone is able to constantly move if there is not conscious existence within it? Our assertion is that everything we perceive is only a manifestation of the movement of consciousness, and that everything exists within consciousness.

The play of spiritual existence

Matter and consciousness are never the same thing. They both exist here in this world and we must understand the difference between them. Movement and evolution are properties of consciousness. Dull matter is only a shadow form. It does not move or evolve on its own; it takes shape according to the influence of consciousness upon it. Evolution can only take place on the conscious level. The movement and evolution of consciousness is positive. Whatever happens within the shadow forms of matter is maya and is negative. It is merely a passing show. The word for universe in Sanskrit is jagat, which means gachchhati iti jagat: that which is always moving. This means that the universe is always moving due to the presence of the jiva-souls within it. No form within the universe is permanent. Everything is always changing, and nothing remains in any particular form eternally.

Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur has systematically explained in his book Sri Chaitanya-siksamrta how the jiva-souls animate material nature. He explains that consciousness, which is called chetana in the scriptures, animates all forms within the universe in five primary categories: achchhadita-chetana [covered consciousness], sankuchita-chetana [suppressed consciousness], mukulita-chetana [budding consciousness], vikasita-chetana [blooming consciousness], and purna-vikasita-chetana [fully blossomed consciousness]. I printed one book called Paramartha-dharma-nirnaya to broadcast this knowledge. If you read it you will clearly understand how the jiva-souls are situated within the material energy.

Stone and plant consciousness

There is consciousness within all forms found in the universe. Achchhadita-chetana means covered consciousness. All the beauty of this world made of ‘immovable’ objects, like rocks, stones, and metals like gold, are made of achchhadita-chetana.

When I was purchasing materials for a building in Nabadwip I was surprised to find that there were two kinds of stone for sale: dead stone and living stone. The living stone was a little more expensive than the dead stone. I was surprised that the quarrymen recognised a difference between dead stone and living stone. That sort of knowledge is found in the Vedas, but how did these villagers come to understand it? They had never studied the scriptures or seen any of the mountains moving, but that knowledge came to them simply from working with the stone.

I asked them to show me how to recognise the difference between the two forms of stone. In that way I learned something from them. Through this example we can understand that consciousness is passing through stone forms of life.

All varieties of plant life are also considered achchhadita-chetana. Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose scientifically proved the theory that plants and trees have consciousness. This is true for all plant life. I personally saw a plant in Fiji that would noticeably contract when you touched it and return to its position when you moved your hand away. Consciousness must be present within plants; otherwise, this would be impossible. In this way the jiva-souls, the sparks of life, particles of spirit, exist within even the grossest material forms.

Animal consciousness

Sankuchita-chetana means consciousness showing a small fraction of its capacity and activity; consciousness minutely manifesting its natural thinking, feeling, and willing. Sankuchita-chetana refers to insects, aquatics, animals, and similar creatures. All visibly moving forms, apart from humans, are considered sankuchita-chetana.

jalaja nava-laksani sthavara laksa-vimsati
krmayo rudra-sankhyakah paksinam dasa-laksanam
trimsal-laksani pasavah chatur-laksani manusah

(Padma-purana)

In the scriptures we hear that there are 8,400,000 different species in this world: 900,000 kinds of aquatics, 2,000,000 kinds of plants, 1,100,000 kinds of insects and reptiles, 1,000,000 kinds of birds, 3,000,000 kinds of four-legged beasts, and 400,000 kinds of humans. All these life forms, except the plants and humans, are considered sankuchita-chetana.

I have seen some very nice examples of animals showing their conscious nature. Once in a film about jungle lions I saw a lioness chase a group of deer. Within the group of deer were a mother and her baby. When the group of deer saw the lioness coming towards them, all the deer began to run away, but the mother deer could not run very fast because she was trying to bring her baby with her. The rest of the deer ran away from the lioness to safety, but the mother and her baby could not. When the lioness caught up to the mother deer and was about to jump and catch, the mother deer she suddenly stopped. I saw the eyes of the lioness then, and the feeling came to me that she was thinking, “Oh, I am foolish. I did not know this deer had a baby with her.” That lioness was hungry, but she did not kill that mother deer. After she saw the mother deer’s baby she let them go and began to search for food elsewhere. When I saw this, I felt, “Yes, even jungle animals have some consciousness and religion.”

Human life

Mukulita-chetana means budding consciousness, a sprout of consciousness which will soon blossom into its full form. This means human life. In human life, consciousness actively begins to expand. In human life, the jiva-souls have some control over their thinking, feeling, and willing. They can make conscious choices. Dogs, tigers, and other species have brains but no species’ brain has as much power as the human brain. The human form is more capable than all other forms; it has the facilities of self-consciousness, intelligence, and discrimination. In human life the jiva-souls can consider what is good and what is bad, and then apply what they decide. Jiva-souls in the human form can consciously search for and discover what is spiritually beneficial for themselves.

But the natures and forms of humans are so variegated. Chatur-laksani manusah: in the scriptures 400,000 species of humans are differentiated! This means there is great diversity within human life. Diversity means differences in mentality. Within human life there are many stages of realisation about the proper use of intelligence and consciousness. These are described by Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur as mukulita-chetana [budding consciousness], vikasita-chetana [blooming consciousness], and purna-vikasita-chetana [fully blossomed consciousness].

The stage of mukulita-chetana refers to humans who live as little more than animals (sankuchita-chetana), humans who do not utilise their conscious nature properly for spiritual progress. Atheists, jungle-men, and persons from very low grade cultures with only hazy religious sentiments are described as mukulita-chetana.

Religious life

ahara-nidra-bhaya-maithunam cha
samanyam etat pasubhir naranam
dharmo hi tesam adhiko viseso
dharmena hinah pasubhih samanah

(Hitopadesa)

We must understand the difference between animal life and human life. Human life can be almost the same as animal life. Humans may live in an organised way in cities and buildings, and animals may live in the jungle, but both humans and animals engage in eating, sleeping, fearing, and enjoying (ahara-nidra-bhaya-maithunam cha). These are the natural activities of life for all species. So what is special about human life? What makes human life more than animal life? It is not actually brain power or intellectual capacity but dharma, religion. In human life jiva-souls can connect with their soul’s natural religious mood and culture. If humans don’t use their brain and consciousness to connect with their transcendental existence as jiva-souls through dharma, then there is no difference between their human life and the life of a beast.

Dharma has been explained in a very nice way by Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur. He explained that if we search everywhere throughout all the planes of existence in the universe, a-brahma-bhuvanal lokah (Bg: 8.16), we will find that everywhere there is some form of religion, some form of dharma. He used the example of water. What is the religion of water? Water’s nature, or religion, is liquidity. Fire’s religion is producing heat and light. A stone’s religion is to be hard. In this way he gave many examples. Every object and being within the universe functions according to its dharma because of the presence of consciousness, the presence of a jiva-soul, within it. The jiva-souls always exhibit their dharma, nature, but they do so through their forms of embodiment. The jiva-souls are sometimes covered by an animal form, sometimes by an insect form, and sometimes by a human form. All these forms are coverings, part of the illusory environment of maya, which make the jiva-souls forget their spiritual dharma, their true nature as eternal servants of Krishna.

Blossoming consciousness

Dharma means religion, but dharma literally means ‘to hold’. When jiva-souls have a human form and their thinking, feeling, and willing is manifest clearly to them, they must practise dharma consciously by holding their mind and mentality in a good position. This is the vital point of human life. If anyone consciously leads a religious life, actively practising the dharma of the soul, they will always be benefitted, and their practice of religious life will help establish them in their natural position, in their true spiritual dharma.

sa vai pumsam paro dharmo yato bhaktir adhoksaje[35]
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 1.2.6)

The supreme form of all dharma is Krishna-bhakti, and the practice of other dharmas gradually develops into Krishna-bhakti. The practice of dharma, which is what makes human life more than animal life, ultimately establishes the jiva-souls in their natural position as servitors of Bhagavan Sri Krishna.

In the stage of mukulita-chetana the jiva-soul’s consciousness can open itself to revelation from the transcendental plane. When the consciousness of any jiva-soul is influenced by higher consciousness, then it gets sensible and clean knowledge. When revealed knowledge appears within the hearts of the jiva-souls, then they embrace their natural theistic life and ideal. This is when the jiva-souls begin to enter into their natural position and behave according to their true nature. This stage is called vikasita-chetana, blossoming consciousness.

Revelation enters the hearts of the jiva-souls by the grace of the Lord and the grace of an expert devotee of the Lord. Krishna consciousness exists within all jiva-souls but it is suppressed by the illusory environment. By the grace of a pure sadhu, Krishna consciousness, which already exists inside the jiva-souls, is revealed to them. Through the practice of religious thought and culture (dharma) in the association of pure devotees, the jiva-souls’ consciousness develops day by day more and more. In this way the Krishna consciousness that is already within them marches into the open doors of their hearts from without, and through that the jiva-souls feel the joy of their own pure existence.

Consciousness in full bloom

If, with consciousness, anyone will try to understand the Lord, then the Lord will reveal Himself to that soul, and then the soul won’t have any further question about the Lord’s existence. Until then one can try to believe and practise the soul’s dharma in the association of pure devotees. The pure devotee is in the highest stage of conscious evolution, purna-vikasita-chetana [fully blossomed consciousness]. A jiva-soul in that stage is described as a siddha-mahapurus, someone who has genuine and direct experience of the Lord, someone whose pure feelings are enriched with full consciousness of the Lord’s Name, Form, Fame, and Pastimes. Everything transcendental and mundane is seen and known by a siddha-mahapurus.

The play of the Sweet Absolute

In this way the jiva-souls animate the material energy and exist at different stages of spiritual evolution. One name of the transcendental world is the atma-jagat. Through this name we can understand that the jiva-souls do not come from the material world: they are actually members of the eternal world and have an eternal form. Jivan prakrti-kavalitan Tad-vimuktams cha bhavat. When the jiva-souls misuse their freedom, they enter the material nature and suffer in the bondage of karma. When they are re-established in their natural consciousness of eternal service to Krishna, then they transcend Maya’s illusions and feel supramundane joy. Srila Guru Maharaj described this play of the Sweet Absolute with the jiva-souls in his book Subjective Evolution of Consciousness. ⬆︎

Chapter Seven

The Waves of Birth and Death

The mundane world is a plane of exploitation. No one can live there without exploiting others. It has been described in the scriptures as bhogamaya bhumika.

ahastani sahastanam apadani chatus-padam
phalguni tatra mahatam jivo jivasya jivanam

(Srimad Bhagavatam: 1.13.47)

“Those who have hands live on those who have no hands. Those who have four legs live on those who have no legs. The big live on the small. No living being can maintain its body without exploitation because every living being’s food is another living being.”

In the mundane world everyone is exploiting everyone. No one’s life can continue without exploitation. The jiva-souls are by nature active; they must always do something, and in this world the jiva-souls cannot do anything without exploiting others. If someone eats something, he eats someone else’s energy. If someone builds a house, or a stadium, or anything, he has to take the material to build that from somewhere. Even if someone wants to fill in a hole, he must dig up earth from elsewhere to do that. Every jiva-soul takes the energy it needs to act and maintain its body from other living beings in the form of the products produced by the sky, air, fire, water, and earth. In this way the embodied jiva-souls are forced to exploit each other to fulfil their needs and desires in this mundane world. This is always the situation in the mundane environment: exploiting to exist.

Action and reaction

We have seen that sometimes scientists who study the mundane world come to understand something about scriptural thought. For example, I have heard from Srila Guru Maharaj about Isaac Newton and his third law of motion: “To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”. Newton’s third law is a perfect explanation of karma. The theory of karma is very clearly explained in Srimad Bhagavad-gita. What Newton recently ‘discovered’, the law of karma, was actually explained in Srimad Bhagavad-gita five thousand years earlier:

te tam bhuktva svarga-lokam visalam
ksine punye martya-lokam visanti
evam trayi-dharmam anuprapanna
gatagatam kama-kama labhante

(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 9.21)

“Within the mundane universe pious jiva-souls enjoy in the heavenly planets, and impious jiva-souls suffer in hellish planets after leaving their earthly bodies. When the jiva-souls’ positive or negative karmic reactions are finished, they are born again in the earthly plane.”

Srimad Bhagavad-gita explains in this way how creation and the wheel of karma revolve within the material environment.

The mundane universe is a passing show (gachchhati iti jagat). The jiva-souls are constantly revolving up and down through the different species and planes of life in this universe according to their karma. The jiva-souls try in many ways to find satisfaction, but none of their attempts are successful.

kabhu svarge uthaya, kabhu narake dubaya
dandya-jane raja yena nadite chubaya

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 20.118)

“In material life, the jiva-souls are sometimes raised to heaven or material prosperity, and sometimes drowned in a hellish situation by their karma. This experience of the jiva-soul is similar to a king’s punishment of a criminal. When a king wants to punish a criminal, he orders his servitor, ‘Take this criminal, drown him until he is nearly dead, raise him up, give him one breath, and then force him under water again.’”

The jiva-soul’s existence and passing enjoyment in this world is comparable to being forced above and below water again and again. The equal and opposite reactions of the jiva-souls’ exploitative actions, done even for survival, force them into this condition.

Inescapable karma

We can also recognise Newton’s third law in another verse of Srimad Bhagavad-gita:

matra-sparsas tu kaunteya sitosna-sukha-duhkha-dah
agamapayino ’nityas tams titiksasva bharata

(Srimad Bhagavad-gita 2.14)

“Heat, cold, happiness, sadness, and all the other phases of mundane life come and go. They are a passing show. Whenever happiness comes, sadness follows it, and whenever sadness comes, happiness follows it. This is the nature of the material environment.”

The jiva-souls must tolerate these changes. Happiness and sadness are actually the reactions to the jiva-souls’ own activities. All of the jiva-souls’ experiences and actions register within the cyclic system of karma, and no jiva-soul can avoid the reactions produced by karma.

‘Miraculous news’

In the Mahabharata, Dharmaraj asked Yudhisthir Maharaj, “What is the news in this world?” Yudhisthir Maharaj replied:

masarttu-darvi parighatnena
suryagnina ratri-divendhanena
asmin maha-moha maye katahe
bhutani kalah pachatiti varta

(Mahabharata: Vana-parva, 313.118)

“The news of this world is that the conditioned jiva-souls are being cooked by Mahakal [Universal Time] in the pot of worldly illusion, which is heated by the fire of the sun and burns on the firewood of the days and nights. The pot is stirred by the ladles of the months and seasons, and within the pot the jiva-souls are suffering so much, covered with the masala [flavouring] of kama [lust], krodha [anger], lobha [greed], mada [pride], moha [illusion], matsarya [envy], and the desires for kanak [wealth], kamini [women], and pratistha [fame]. This is the only news in this world.”

Dharmaraj then asked Yudhisthir Maharaj, “What is miraculous in this world?” Yudhisthir Maharaj replied:

ahany ahani bhutani gachchhanti yama-mandiram
sesah sthavaram ichchhanti kim ascharyam atah param

(Mahabharata: Vana-parva, 313.116)

“Day by day the embodied souls are suffering so much in their worldly lives and finally departing for the house of death. Day by day, before their eyes, death takes away their father, mother, sons, daughters, neighbours, and so on. But the jiva-souls who stay behind think, ‘I will not go. I will never die. I will stay here and enjoy everything. So many others have gone, but I won’t. I will stay here and enjoy. Everyone else has died, but death will never come for me. I will stay here forever.’”

This is the foolishness of the conditioned souls, and Yudhisthir Maharaj described it as the greatest wonder in the world. The conditioned souls think they will live this particular life eternally. It is simply not true. Srila Guru Maharaj used to quote this English verse,

The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power
And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave
Awaits alike the inevitable hour:
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

(Thomas Gray’s ‘Elegy in a Country Churchyard’)

Here the position of everything in this world is very simply explained: according to everyone’s culture, qualities, karma, and so on, their position within material life goes up, then down, up again, down again, and finally to the grave. The conditioned souls, however, are not able to properly understand this. When any soul does realise their position in this world, they feel:

dina yaminyau sayam pratah
sisira-vasantau punar ayatah
kalah kridati gachchhaty ayus
tad api na munchaty asa-vayuh[36]

(Moha-mudgara-stotram: 12)

Again and again the sun rises, the sun sets, and days pass by, but the conditioned souls never really consider it. The conditioned souls always absorb themselves in eating, sleeping, fearing, and enjoying (ahara-nidra-bhaya-maithunam cha). They only think about what they will have for dinner this evening, what they will have for breakfast tomorrow, and so on. While they are thus absorbed in material life, the days continue to pass, and beyond their control Time flows on.

The wheel of karma

Death and birth are very important questions for conditioned souls. The jiva-souls want to enjoy their existing lives forever. They make houses and families for this purpose. But at any time a car accident can happen and take anyone away from their house and family. The jiva-soul cannot actually control anything. The reactions to one’s previous actions (karma-phal), can always forcibly oust one from any position in this world. Karmic reactions bring birth, death, old age, disease, happiness, and sadness to the jiva-souls within this material world. The jiva-souls never know when death will come to them and they will have to leave everything to take another birth.

According to their karma, jiva-souls may receive a human birth again or may revolve through the 8,400,000 varieties of species in this world. No one can stay in their present body forever. Everyone must change bodies according to the laws of karma. No one knows where their karma will take them, where they will stay, what they will do, or what their future will be. They only know that the karma-chakra, the wheel of karma, must push them forward. “To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction.” Within the material environment the karma-chakra is always cycling, and the reactions to everyone’s previous actions are happening automatically.

Leaving the body

The waves of birth and death are always flowing within this environment, carrying away the jiva-souls. Some people think that dying in a plane crash is very terrible, but actually it is not an unhappy way to die. Before a plane crashes, when it is falling towards the earth, people lose their senses. When they die they do not feel what happened. They only later realise, “I am out of my body”, and wonder, “Where is my body? Where is my leg?” When their awareness returns to them after they die, they immediately recognise, “I am detached from my body”. Then they begin to search for their body. When they see one body part over here and one body part over there, they think, “How could I ever live in that body again? It is not possible.”

After jiva-souls depart from a body, they often try to enter back into it. But when a jiva-soul leaves a body there is no power for the body to run, and because of that the heart does not beat and the body stops functioning. When this happens, the body begins to degrade, and after it has degraded it cannot work again properly. In this way it becomes impossible for jiva-souls to re-enter their previous bodies. After trying to re-enter his former body and being unsuccessful, a departed jiva-soul becomes very sad and finally begins following his body around. Even though he can’t enter back into his body, he cannot forget his body. Until his body is cremated a departed jiva-soul follows his body, and again and again tries to enter into his body. But once a jiva-soul has left his body, and the body degrades, the jiva-soul cannot enter into his body again. It is like Paradise Lost.[37]

Disembodied life

When a jiva-soul follows his body to its cremation ground or grave, he thinks, “What are my relatives doing? Why are they burning my body? They should keep my body for some more time so I can try again to enter back into it.”

When his body is finally burned or buried, the jiva-soul feels very helpless. He wonders, “Where should I go now?” After his body is cremated the jiva-soul visits his house, his old bedroom, and the homes of his relatives. He sees his son or mother or father crying, and he also feels very sad. He wants to show himself to his relatives, but he cannot. He tries to talk to his relatives, but they cannot hear him talking. Frustrated, he may go back to the cremation ground where his body was. Left without shelter the jiva-soul wanders around and around restlessly. He may stay at the cremation house thinking of his body, and other souls who were also cremated the same day may be there as well. He will see those souls and talk with them. They may be the souls of rickshaw wallahs, or kings, or anything else. In life a rickshaw wallah cannot speak with a king, but when they have left their bodies, they may live together in a tree near their cremation ground.

In this way the departed soul lives after his body is cremated, and he feels very hungry and thirsty, although he is unable to eat or drink. The departed soul still has his subtle body, his mental body, which contains all his feelings and desires. So he lives in a very helpless condition: full of desires with no way to satisfy them.

Vedic rites for the departed

It is a Vedic rule that three days after a jiva-soul departs his relatives on his daughter’s side offer him some water and milk. This is done through mantram after his body’s cremation.

sasa nasto niralambho vayu-bhuto nirasrayam
idam ksira idam nira sraddhaya diya te ’pi mam

This mantram means, “You are living now in this cremation field. You have no place to rest and your soul has no formation (niralambho). Your form is now like a vayubhuta, an air form like a ghost, and you have no shelter (nirasrayam). I am your daughter and I am offering you this water and milk. Through this mantram you will receive it and you will feel peaceful.”

Mentally the departed jiva-soul then drinks that water and milk. Later his sons offer pinda, traditional sacrificial articles. His sons will become the proprietors of his land, so they must do something good for their father. Ten days after his departure they shave their heads, take a bath in the Ganges or a body of water, put on new cloth, and make an offering to their father or whichever relative of theirs has departed. The departed soul accepts all the offerings through mantram. Through mantram there is communication on the mental plane. The departed soul then feels peaceful, “I have no body or I have no existence among my relatives, but they are still remembering me and they are still doing something good for me. I am not so helpless. Help is coming to me from my relatives.” In this way the departed soul feels some mental peace.

After offering pinda the departed soul’s relatives perform a sraddha ceremony. In remembrance of his necessities—maybe a pair of shoes, an umbrella, some cloth, or some food—they make an offering in his name to a group of brahmans. There are sixteen items used in this offering. When the departed soul’s relatives supply brahmans in the ceremony with these necessities, the departed soul receives a year’s supply of his necessities mentally.

In this way, on the mental level, the departed soul’s subtle body receives ten or twelve years of food when a group of ten or twelve brahmans is fed. In his name his relatives feed a group of brahmans, and all the property they offer is enjoyed by him mentally. Each of his relatives bears witness, “This sraddha ceremony is the Vedic practice for departed jiva-souls, and I am offering these articles for the benefit of my father”, or mother, or other relative, according to their relationship. Then the sraddha ceremony is finished. The brahmans from the ceremony take responsibility for the departed soul’s spiritual advancement and bring some light to him. Within a few days he feels the darkness of his situation leave, and he feels detachment in his mind.

The ghost plane

This is the traditional Vedic process. If a departed soul is a Vaisnava, then all of this is not necessary. The best thing that can be done for him is to offer some preparations to the Lord in His Deity form and then serve the Vaisnavas with that prasadam. Serving the Vaisnavas in the name of the departed soul is the best way to help him, and no problems will come to that Vaisnava if a traditional sraddha ceremony is not held.

Anyhow, after his death a departed soul wants to speak with his relatives, but he cannot. At that time his experience is very bitter. Some days after the ceremony for his passing the grief of his relatives begins to fade and the departed soul thinks, “What is this? Now they are forgetting me. I need to move on and choose my future path. Where shall I go?”

When a jiva-soul is not embodied he can move very quickly over the earth. The departed soul begins to search for his previous connections who still may be on the mental plane. He searches for his forefathers or persons from his past life that have already departed. He searches for his former associates and maybe he finds his grandfather seated under a tree meditating in the Himalayas. Even if he finds some of his previous connections, none of them say to him, “Oh, there you are! Come here! Come here!” No one responds to him like that. The other departed jiva-souls he meets in the mental plane look at him innocently. They advise him, “It is natural, your feelings. Our feelings were the same as yours when we first left our previous bodies. Now you should try to understand our sober mood and try to proceed towards a higher destiny.”

Question: Maharaj, there is an Indian lady here who lost her son a few months ago. She is still grieving very much as though it happened yesterday. Will the soul of her son suffer because of this?

Srila Govinda Maharaj: That soul may or may not suffer. That soul knows his mother is foolishly crying for him. He knows he cannot go back to her and she cannot see him. Sometimes in that situation a departed soul may avoid his mother. But if he has much affection for her, he may continue to live near her. Also, sometimes a departed soul may take on a shadow form through great concentration with his subtle body. That means he may become a bhut [ghost]. Through concentration a soul may take the form of a ghost because of his attachment for his previous worldly life and relatives, but he cannot exist in that form for a long time.

Mental experience

Generally a departed soul will try to see how he can go towards a higher standard of life. According to his previous karma he gets an opportunity to stay in some place he desires, and he also gets the opportunity to do what he desires. This all happens on the mental level. On the mental level the vision of departed souls is clearer than the vision of humans. Actually, it is the opposite of human vision. Departed souls can see things very far away from them but they cannot see things near to them. If a departed soul thinks of the ocean, the ocean will come to him on the mental level. If a departed soul thinks of a garden, a garden will come before him. Whatever he thinks of will come before him according to his karma (previous experience).

When things come before him, he thinks, “What shall I do with this?” Then he thinks, “What shall I do with this?” If his previous karma is good and he also had some association with sadhus, he will use his thoughts to try to satisfy the Lord. If someone has given him good association and advised him, “O boy, while you are here (in this disembodied mental state) try to meditate”, then he will think, “I am happy when I think of a flower garden so I will meditate on that to satisfy the Lord.” Then he will think of a flower garden, the flower garden will come into his mind, and if he has a proper cultured mood, he will offer flowers from that garden to a Deity mentally. In this way he can offer the fruits of his karma, the qualities of his previous experience, to the Lord according to his cultured mood, and when he will offer that to the Lord he will receive double the satisfaction he would by enjoying it himself. In this way a departed soul is tested on the mental plane and must try to do something positive there.

The waves of birth and death

As he is living on the mental plane a departed soul’s previous karma also pushes him forward. On the mental plane there are always waves moving, the waves of janma and mrtyu, birth and death. These waves are always flowing throughout the mental plane. Generally the souls existing in the mental plane avoid the waves of birth and death. When those waves come to them they try to move out of the way. They do not want to be carried away by those waves to take birth again. The waves of birth and death come like thunder. When departed souls see the waves of birth and death, they think, “These waves will knock me senseless.” When souls on the mental plane see the thunderous wave of birth coming towards them they feel afraid. They know that that thunderous wave will knock them senseless and take them to an unknown destination. They avoid that wave and live in the mental plane according to their karma.

Flying to heaven and hell

Mostly, departed souls try to move towards a higher standard of thinking while they are living in the mental plane. If they have a tendency to enjoy and some pious karma (punya), then they will feel some sort of air come and push them up to Svargaloka (heaven). In heaven there are many enjoyable things and departed souls enjoy them there according to their karma. The reactions to the actions they did in their previous lives come to them and they enjoy the heavenly environment.

If a departed soul has some bad karma, he is taken to an unpleasant environment. There he feels fearful and hungry. He feels burning sensations. He feels as though he is in the middle of a thunderstorm. He feels many varieties of miseries. In India you will see images of narak [hell]: people being killed, burned, scalped, eaten by vultures, and so on. All these reactions happen to a departed soul in his subtle body on the mental level in hell, and he cries so much as he suffers. According to a soul’s karma he will either suffer in Narak or enjoy in Svargaloka.

Rebirth

When a departed soul’s karma is finished he must again take birth. This is the law. He will not be able to avoid it. It will happen suddenly as though in the meantime. The waves of janma and mrtyu, birth and death, will come and take him forcibly to his birth. He will be knocked senseless and forced down to the ground of the earth. Unconsciously he will take on the form of a tree or plant and then a fruit. From the fruit he will move into the body of a human, animal, or insect according to the reactions of his karma. If his next body will be a human body, he will take the form of some rice or some food, and in this way move into the body of his future father. From his father’s body he will move into the womb of his mother.

Sometimes when a soul is in the womb of his mother, his consciousness will suddenly come back to him. He will see his own form as an atma [soul], and he will see that the Paramatma [Supreme Soul] is living with him. Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur has described this experience within the womb:

janani-jathare, chhilama yakhana
visama bandhana-pase
eka-bara prabhu! dekha diya more
vanchile e dina dase

(Saranagati: 1.2)

[“While I was bound in the terrible confines of my mother’s womb, You once revealed Yourself to me, O Lord! Yet since then You have deprived this poor servant.”]

Not everyone receives this consciousness in the womb, but Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur has described it in one of his songs. When the jiva-soul is living in the womb of his mother he has some general consciousness and feelings. When the jiva-soul’s body and senses form within the womb, his awareness begins to come back to him, though it is not so strong, after being knocked senseless by the waves of birth and death. But when he is born and comes out from his mother’s womb, he forgets everything. His next life begins from that moment.

Sometimes some persons can see mental pictures of their previous lives even after they have taken on a new body. Sometimes when a child is sleeping or looks into the sky, his vision goes beyond this planet, and he sees into another plane of experience. This has been researched in the past.

Picking up where you left off

After birth the jiva-soul loses all memory of his previous experience, and his karma provides him with opportunities for his future.

purva janmarjita vidya purva janmarjitam dhanam
purva janmarjitam karma agre dhavati dhavati

If he performed some pious activities, or gathered some knowledge or wealth, in his previous life, that follows him into his future life. He cannot see how this happens but it happens. For example, I remember seeing a young girl who played harmonium like an expert the first time she touched a harmonium. She could immediately play and sing very difficult tunes after hearing them only once or twice. She could easily play music that many adults could not play. This quality came to her through her previous karma. According to one’s karma one may have particular qualities that bring them quickly to an advanced stage of practice.

In this way the next birth of a soul begins. The atmosphere of his birth may sometimes help him, and may sometimes go against him, according to his karma. Finally that birth passes and his body goes to the grave again. In this way the waves of janma and mrtyu, birth and death, always flow throughout this mundane world, and the jiva-souls revolve through the passing show of material existence. ⬆︎

Chapter Eight

The Waves of Kama and Prema

As humans we all know we have a human body. There is no doubt that we’ve taken human birth. But how has such fortune come to us? Somehow we came to our mother’s womb, and from our mother’s womb to where we are now. But we don’t really know how we came into our mother’s womb and where we were before that. Most persons in this world are not using their time to try to understand this and discover how they can make the best use of their life. The sadhus and scriptures come to give people proper consciousness about this.

The most important question of life

In Srimad Bhagavatam it is described that when Maharaj Pariksit was cursed to die within seven days, he asked all the great rsis and munis of his time, “How can I make the best possible use of this short time?”

Many rsis and munis were present in a grand assembly and they gave their opinions according to their ability. But it was as though so many different bottles of medicine were brought to a sick man and he could not decide which one to take. All the rsis and munis were very scholarly and qualified, but Maharaj Pariksit felt confused after hearing all of their different opinions. He said, “I cannot understand what to do. All of you together should decide what is best for me.”

At that time Sukadev Goswami came into the assembly, and all the rsis and munis gave full honour to him. They told Maharaj Pariksit, “This is the most qualified person to answer your question.”

Sukadev Goswami sat upon a throne in front of everyone. Maharaj Pariksit worshipped him, and then asked, “How can I derive the greatest benefit from life within the short period of time I have left to live?”

When Sukadev Goswami heard Pariksit Maharaj’s question he said, “Oh! You are so fortunate! You have asked the supreme question. This is the only question there is actually.”

srotavyadini rajendra nrnam santi sahasrasah
apasyatam atma-tattvam grhesu grha-medhinam

(Srimad Bhagavatam: 2.1.2)

“Other persons ask so many questions, ‘How do we cook this? How do we clean that? How do we perform fire sacrifice? How do we offer worship?’ When persons do not know the nature of the perfect question, then they ask so many questions that are unnecessary.” The only real question is, “How can we be supremely benefitted during our short lifetime?”

Maharaj Pariksit knew he had only seven days to live when he questioned Sukadev Goswami. Unlike Maharaj Pariksit, we are not sure how long our lifetime will last. But if we receive some proper consciousness and realise that we may die at any moment, then we will immediately try to discover what is supremely beneficial for our lives and try to proceed in that way. Without proper consciousness we will consider that we have so many mundane duties that are all ‘very important’.

Rare human birth

labdhva su-durlabham idam bahu-sambhavante
manusyam artha-dam anityam apiha dhirah
turnam yateta na pated anu-mrtyu yavan
nihsreyasaya visayah khalu sarvatah syat

(Srimad Bhagavatam: 11.9.29)

We have crossed over thousands of births to attain this human birth, which is sudurlabha, very rare and difficult to attain. It is only after crossing so many crises and critical positions that this rare human life is now in our hand. It requires so much pious activity to attain a human birth, and somehow we have reached it. We must not forget that it is very rare to attain, and can also be lost very easily.

Within the human form we can receive proper consciousness about the perfection of our life, the perfection of our existence as jiva-souls. In human life we can realise our spiritual potential, that is, that our only actual duty is to satisfy our Lord, Krishna. Jivera ‘svarupa’ haya—Krsnera ‘nitya-dasa’: as jiva-souls we are all eternal servants of Krishna.

krsna bhuli’ sei jiva anadi-bahirmukha
ataeva maya tare deya samsara-duhkha

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 20.117)

“Forgetting Krishna we have abandoned His service, come to this material world, and experienced so many forms of suffering amidst the waves of birth and death.”

Now in our fortunate life as humans we have the opportunity to get liberation from our heavily conditioned position and find the proper help and strength we need to engage in Krishna’s service.

Full dedication without hesitation

There is really only one question in our lives: “How may we be supremely benefitted?” And there is only one answer: “Satisfy Krishna and you will get the supreme benefit of life.”

Here in Srimad Bhagavatam it is expressed, “Turnam! Immediately try to get that result! If you have any sobriety about your position do not wait one second. It is not necessary to wait one second to get that result; immediately start, and until death try for the supreme benefit of your life.” Nihsreyasaya means the super-benefit of your spiritual life and the super-benefit of your mundane life. Krishna consciousness will give you everything.

Visayah khalu sarvatah syat: eating, sleeping, fearing, and enjoying are possible in every birth in every species. We will experience that sort of enjoyment in every birth. Only in human birth do we have the opportunity to get the supreme benefit of our lives—Krishna consciousness.

yavat achhaye prana, dehe achhe sakti
tavat karaha krsna-pada-padme bhakti

(Sri Chaitanya-bhagavat: Madhya-khanda, 1.342)

“So long as there is life and strength in your body, try to dedicate yourself to the service of Krishna’s lotus feet.”

Sleeping in illusion

The scriptures explain that our position as conditioned souls in the illusory environment is like that of a man dreaming. Because we are bewildered by Maya and asleep to who we are and what is in our own best interest, we do not engage ourselves in Krishna’s service and foolishly suffer through so many forms of material difficulty. The scriptures compare the suffering of the conditioned soul to a man dreaming that a tiger is coming to attack him. Within his dream the sleeping man feels very fearful and suffers great pain. Within his dream he cries out, “Tiger! Tiger! Ah! Save me! Save me!” If any of his friends are awake nearby, what will they do? If they are intelligent they will see that their friend is only dreaming and try to wake him up. They won’t search for a stick to scare away the tiger or anything like that. They will only try to wake him up, “Wake up! Wake up! There is no tiger attacking you. You are simply dreaming in your bed.” When the sleeping person awakens he will see, “Oh. There is no tiger attacking me actually. I was only dreaming.”

Awakening to our real interest

The conditioned jiva-soul’s position is like the dreaming man. All the conditioned souls are sleeping in their bodies under the influence of Maya’s illusory environment. The jiva-souls’ suffering in this world, which is really only the suffering of their minds and bodies, is like the suffering felt by a sleeping person within a dream. To leave behind that suffering it is only necessary to wake up. If the conditioned jiva-souls can wake up to their real identity as souls they will automatically understand everything and see that all of their suffering is only part of Maya’s illusion.

tasmad idam jagad asesam asat-svarupam
svapnabham asta-dhisanam puru-duhkha-duhkham

(Srimad Bhagavatam: 10.14.22)

The jiva-souls will see that the play of the material universe is simply a passing show put on by Maya in which their consciousness is covered by illusion and they suffer so many varieties of sorrow as though within a dream. Under the influences of Maya and karma the jiva-souls pass through so many challenges.

yaya sammohito jiva atmanam tri-gunatmakam
paro ’pi manute ’nartham tat-krtam chabhipadyate

(Srimad Bhagavatam: 1.7.5)

“When the jiva-souls are deluded by Maya they foolishly believe they are products of material nature, even though their very nature is superior to matter. Bound by identification with matter they try to exploit the illusory energy and then suffer the reactions to their misconceived actions.”

Maya’s illusory environment

Question: Is there anything wrong with the world today?

Srila Govinda Maharaj: Misconception. Misconception about our real identity and function is the only problem within this world. Misconception means maya. Srila Guru Maharaj explained that maya means ‘ma’-’ya’. Ma means ‘not’ and ya means ‘this’, so ‘what is not truth’ is maya. When the conditioned souls forget their Lord, they are polluted by mahamaya, the illusory environment, and suffer so much. Maya Devi’s job is to create chaos and confusion in the lives of the jiva-souls so that they become bewildered and cannot see the proper path and purpose of their life. Maya Devi’s function is to hide the jiva-souls’ wealth: their eternal loving relationship with Krishna. She does anything and everything to disturb the conditioned souls.

The conditioned souls cannot avoid association with mahamaya. Suffering in the lives of the conditioned souls is natural and expected; it is the natural reaction to the jiva-souls’ misguided activities. That suffering is also good because it inspires fortunate souls to want to clean themselves of the pollution of the illusion; it inspires them to want to steady themselves and avoid further entanglement within material existence.

Positive and negative power

I am habituated to not believe Maya. We learned from Srila Guru Maharaj and other great personalities that we should not believe Maya Devi and the tricks of her illusory environment. Maya may have so much power and be able to do anything and everything within her illusory environment, but we have learned not to be bewildered by that. We honour Maya, but we never believe Maya. No doubt we cannot fight with Maya directly; we are tiny souls, and we must be defeated by her because the Lord’s power is working behind her. But with the spiritual strength we receive from Guru–Vaisnava we can cross over the ocean of maya.

Maya’s power is negative. It comes from the Lord, but it is a negative power. The power coming through Guru–Vaisnava to rescue the conditioned souls is positive; it is the Lord’s positive power descending from His purposeful and positive world. Whenever the conditioned souls are connected with the Lord’s positive power, they must be carried beyond the influence of His negative power.[38] We have no doubt about this as the Lord’s natural desire for love, beauty, charm, and sweetness is fulfilled by the unalloyed service of the jiva-souls. If any jiva-soul sincerely wants to dedicate himself to the Lord then the Lord will certainly rescue him and give him that chance. That is the Lord’s nature. The Lord gave the jiva-souls free will for this purpose, as well as for facilitating His play of rescuing the jiva-souls with the attractive power of His divine form and Pastimes.

Sons of nectar

Within all the scriptures of India—the Vedas, Vedanta, Upanisads, Srimad Bhagavad-gita, Srimad Bhagavatam, and so on—the Lord invites all jiva-souls suffering in the illusory environment to return to His abode. He calls the jiva-souls,

srnvantu visve amrtasya putra
(Svetasvatara-upanisad: 2.5)

“You are all sons of nectar. Why are you avoiding Me? Come back to your home, back to Godhead. Here everything is ready to give you happiness, ecstasy, service, and joy. Come back to the nectarean ocean of positive spiritual existence. It is your property and real identity; you are actually a proprietor of ecstatic spiritual nectar. Your soul has been covered by the illusory environment, but you are really a son of nectar. Divine nectar is here waiting for you to taste it. Please come and accept it.”

This is the main invitation of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, His associates, and all the scriptures. Amrta means nectar, nectar that enables you to conquer death. Positive eternal existence is the jiva-soul’s transcendental wealth and natural position. Srnvantu visve amrtasya putra. The Lord and His associates call out in this way in order to rescue the conditioned souls and give them real immortal nectar—consciousness about their spiritual destiny. They call out to the conditioned jiva-souls:

uttisthata jagrata prapya varan nibodhata[39]
(Katha-upanisad: 1.3.14)

“Awake! Arise! You are sleeping in the lap of Maya. You do not know who you are or what you are doing. You are simply dreaming. Try to realise the value of your own existence and proceed to your life’s goal.”

Inspiring association

The general lifestyle of the conditioned souls does not lead them to sincerely consider spiritual life. But when the conditioned souls come into the association of the sadhus and the scriptures, they can be inspired to take spiritual life seriously. When souls are in the association of persons who can discriminate between matter and spirit, persons who are pursuing the supreme benefit of their spiritual lives, then they will be influenced and inspired. They will think about their own position more and they will begin to feel the existence of their spiritual wealth. Then the soul will begin to enquire about matter, spirit, transcendence, karma, jnan, bhakti, and so on. Through discussion of these topics in the association of the sadhus, and by engaging in the service of the sadhus who enlighten them, the jiva-souls will be benefitted and their spiritual fortune will be revealed to them.

Essential questions

In Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta, Sanatan Goswami asked Mahaprabhu Sri Chaitanyadev:

‘ke ami’, ‘kene amaya jare tapa-traya’
iha nahi jani—‘kemane hita haya’
‘sadhya’-‘sadhana’-tattva puchhite na jani
krpa kari’ saba tattva kaha ta’ apani

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 20.102-103)

“Who am I? Why am I suffering within this material environment? If I do not know this, how will I be benefitted? What is the supreme benefit of my life? How can I attain that? I do not know how to enquire properly. Please be merciful to me and reveal these truths in my heart.”

Sanatan Goswami was not foolish. He was the Prime Minister of Bengal under Nawab Hussain Shah, but he asked these questions. There are many examples of great persons in the scriptures, such as Maharaj Pariksit and Maharaj Nimi, who asked simple questions. Such questions are actually the best questions for the conditioned souls.

The inspiration to ask questions about the essence of life comes to fortunate conditioned souls through self-realisation. The Vedanta-darsana begins, “Athato Brahma jijnasa: now let us search for the Absolute.” Athato means, “Now, after experiencing so many things in the mundane world and gradually coming to properly realise their position, the jiva-souls come to enquire about the Absolute.” The necessity for spiritual life can be felt by the conditioned souls only after a fundamental level of realisation.

Proper realisation begins by understanding consciousness and then the atma (self). The first lesson from the sadhu, the first lesson in spiritual life, is atmanam viddhi: “Know thyself; try to understand your own self.”

When a conditioned soul becomes a sincere seeker and he finds a real master, then both the master and student are fully satisfied. The sadhu teaches the sincere seeker how to discover his own self. Self-realisation is the best thing for the conditioned souls, and it is the real necessity of the conditioned souls. When, through their fortune, souls begin to search for their own self, they will begin to feel it, at first a little and then more and more. When their feelings come to them, then their searching spirit will increase, and they will come to understand who they are and the illusion they have fallen into. The jiva-soul will gradually realise, “This body is not actually me. I am simply existing inside this body and mind. My mental position is playing under the influence of the illusory environment, and it is neither acting according to my soul’s intelligence nor guiding me properly.”

The transmigration of the soul

The conditioned souls under the influence of the illusory environment act foolishly, but they are not actually foolish. They need only to discover their atma (self). It is necessary for everyone to discover the atma so that they can act in their own best interest. As jiva-souls, we are not our mundane bodies. If we think about this we can feel that it is true. If my father dies and I look at his dead body, what is different? My whole life I have been seeing his body, but now it is useless. Within two or three days it will spoil and emit a bad smell. There must have been something inside his body that has now left, some spark of life. You can call it a spirit or whatever you like. Only when his spirit was present was his body active and conscious. The presence of his soul, the jivatma, gave life to his body. Now that his jivatma has left, his body is dead.

In Srimad Bhagavad-gita death is compared to the routine changing of clothing:

vasamsi jirnani yatha vihaya navani grhnati naro ’parani
tatha sarirani vihaya jirnany anyani samyati navani dehi

(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 2.22)

Every day we change our clothes. We take off our dirty clothes and put on clean clothes. When our clothes become too old we take them off and never put them on again. The jiva-soul’s position in the mundane world is like this. The soul changes bodies the way the body changes its clothes. When the soul’s body becomes too old or diseased, the soul leaves that body and accepts a new one. In this way the soul moves along the waves of birth and death. Na hanyate hanyamane sarire (Bg: 2.20): the soul is never killed when the body dies. The soul is sanatan: eternal, indestructible, always fully conscious, and active.

Self-discovery

It is also very helpful to understand clearly not only the relationship between the soul and the body, but also the soul and the mind.

indriyani parany ahur indriyebhyah param manah
manasas tu para buddhir yo buddheh paratas tu sah

(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 3.42)

The senses—the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin—are the most prominent features of the body. Indriyebhyah param manah: the mind is superior to the senses. If the mind does not give its attention to the senses, then one does not experience anything. An elephant may walk right in front of someone, but he will not see it if he is not paying attention with his mind. In this way we can understand that the mind is superior to the senses. Manasas tu para buddhir: the intelligence is superior to the mind. If someone does not have good intelligence, he will not get any good results from his mind. A madman has a mind, but because his mind is unsteady and not guided by his intelligence, he does not get a good result from his mind. Finally, yo buddheh paratas tu sah: the soul is superior to the intelligence.

Vedavyas has given us a very nice example to understand this:

na rarajodupas chhannah sva-jyotsna-rajitair ghanaih
aham-matya bhasitaya sva-bhasa puruso yatha

(Srimad Bhagavatam: 10.20.19)

If we look for the moon in the night sky during the rainy season, we see only clouds floating across the sky. We are not able to see the moon. But how are we able to see the clouds? By the moon’s light. Even though we cannot see the moon we know it is present in the sky because we are seeing the clouds with its light.

Like the moon, our atma is covered by the clouds of our subtle body—the mind, intelligence, and false ego (ahankar). The subtle body is called chidabhas, a hazy reflection of our consciousness. The conditioned souls live in the haze of their mundane mind, intelligence, and false ego, unable to directly see their true self (atma). But it is the light of the jivatma (soul) that illuminates their subtle body, and through their subtle body souls experience the mundane world. In this way we can understand that it is the jiva-soul’s light that powers his intelligence, mind, senses, and body. The jiva-soul exists inside his mind and body but cannot be seen by them because it is the jiva-soul himself who is the seer.

Liberation: self-determination

When the jiva-soul begins to realise something about his position he considers, “I am transcendental to mental and physical existence. I now have this human body and the opportunity to pursue the supreme benefit of my life.” But when the Upanisads say, “Srnvantu visve amrtasya putra: you are all sons of nectar”, how much can a conditioned soul feel this to be true? Only a liberated soul can feel the full form of this truth. And liberation does not mean demolition of the jiva-soul’s individual existence; it means realising the jiva-soul’s eternal form as Lord Krishna’s servitor.

muktir hitvanyatha rupam sva-rupena vyavasthitih
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 2.10.6)

In the scriptures it is explained that mukti (liberation) means giving up the illusory forms we have adopted within maya and becoming situated in our eternal conscious form (svarup) as a jiva-soul, as an eternal servant of Krishna—jivera ‘svarupa’ haya—Krsnera ‘nitya-dasa’.

iha yasya harer dasye karmana manasa gira
nikhilasv apy avasthasu jivan-muktah sa uchyate

(Naradiya-purana)

“Anyone who gives up all other activities and wholeheartedly serves Krishna with his body, mind, and words at all times under all circumstances is a liberated soul (jivan-muktah).”

Nothing a soul engaged in Krishna’s service does binds him, even though he may exist within the material environment and his activity may look like that of an ordinary person. A liberated soul may remain engaged in Krishna’s service here in the material world or he may cross over into the Lord’s eternal abode.

The transcendental service world

Krishna explained the nature of His transcendental abode in Srimad Bhagavad-gita (15.6):

na tad bhasayate suryo na sasanko na pavakah
yad gatva na nivartante tad dhama paramam mama

The transcendental world is illuminated by the light of Krishna’s divine form. Krishna says, “The sun, the moon, and the light sources of this material world cannot illuminate that world. They have no power to do so. Once you go to that abode you will never return to the illusory environment.”

Why would we not want to remain within the material world? Why is the illusory environment bad? Our Guru Maharaj, Om Visnupad Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj, gave us a book named The Search for Sri Krishna—Reality the Beautiful. We can see this type of Krishna conception present everywhere within this mundane world. Everyone everywhere is searching for pleasure, joy, happiness, wealth, beauty, love, and so on. They are searching in so many ways and spending so much of their energy. They are getting something of the essence of that from everything in this mundane world, but what they are experiencing in this world is only a shadow form of pleasure’s essential existence.

Everyone’s heart is full of rasa (pleasure), but it is distorted and spoiled within this mundane environment. Everyone here is exploiting to exist. Their pleasure is always coming at the expense of others, and no one can really be happy with that. Also, because their pleasure comes through exploitation, it is temporary; it can only last for a short time before its reaction comes and takes it away. Even if the conditioned souls find a situation with good possibilities for enjoyment within the mundane environment, they cannot remain there forever. Beyond their control the karmic waves of birth and death always flow throughout the mundane environment and carry them away.

The conditioned soul may make a nice building and experience many joyful matters there, but if he is to die then suddenly he is bound to leave everything behind: his house, wife, children, relatives, property, and so on. In the mundane world anything—accidents, injuries, death—can happen within a second. There is very little hope for happiness in the mundane environment. It is not actually a suitable environment for the jiva-souls. When the jiva-souls have an opportunity to go to the Lord’s transcendental abode, the eternal service world, why should they stay in the mundane world? They will not lose anything by going there.

Conditioned souls think, “I have a very nice television set. If I die and leave this life, I will lose that television set.” In the Lord’s abode the jiva-souls will realise their transcendental form and live in the transcendental service plane where everything they need—joy, ecstasy, happiness—is fully present in an exalted way. There in the transcendental world the jiva-souls never lose anything and they have everything. They have full opportunity to fulfil their existence through Krishna’s service. If any soul once enters that world he will never feel the need to return to the mundane environment.

Mystic conscious worlds

The conditioned souls live in the mundane world, but liberated souls live in both the transcendental world and the material world. The material and transcendental worlds are completely different. Their only similarity is that they are both environments for the jiva-souls. Though they are separate, the transcendental world can appear within the material world. It is vigata kuntha yasmad: it is infinite and can appear within the finite world. The material world is not material actually. It is an illusory conscious world, an illusory environment. Srila Guru Maharaj said, “Everything is existing within consciousness.” If a jiva-soul’s consciousness is covered by illusion and he is not consciously connected with Krishna, then he exists within Maya’s illusory environment, the mundane material environment, and he is a conditioned soul. But a liberated soul fully established in Krishna consciousness has clean and clear vision; he sees the presence of Krishna everywhere.

sarvatra krsnera murti kare jhalamala
se dekhite paya yara akhi niramala

If any jiva-soul sees and feels the presence and influence of Krishna everywhere, then he is not under Maya’s control and does not live in a mundane environment. Rather, he is liberated and lives in the transcendental world, even while present within the material world.

Consciousness is necessary. The consciousness of the jiva-soul has two states: one under the control of Mahamaya, Krishna’s external potency, and the other under the control of Yogamaya, Krishna’s internal potency. Beside the illusory environment Krishna’s divine play is going on everywhere. If any jiva-soul can understand Krishna’s play, then the illusory environment will leave him, he will get transcendental feelings of happiness in his heart, and he will enter the eternal service world.

Mysterious depth

Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami has presented a very deep idea in Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta:

kama-gayatri-mantra-rupa haya krsnera svarupa
sardha-chabbisa aksara tara haya
se aksara ‘chandra’ haya krsne kari’ udaya
trijagat kaila kamamaya

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 21.125)

Here Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami gives an explanation of the Kama-gayatri mantram that we receive at the time of initiation (diksa). Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami explains that there are twenty-four and a half syllables in the mantram. Generally it is peaceful and agreeable to consider that there are either twenty-four or twenty-five syllables in the mantram. Srila Visvanath Chakravarti Thakur tried to understand why Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami said there were twenty-four and a half syllables. He meditated and searched for the half syllable. When he was unable to find the half syllable, he became disturbed and began fasting: “If I cannot feel the meaning of this mantram it is unnecessary to continue living. If the meaning of this mantram will not come to me, I do not want to remain alive. I would rather die.”

He passed one, then two, then three days without food. Finally, on the night of the third day, Radharani Herself came to him and gave him the meaning of the mantram: “In the scripture Varnagama-bhasvadi you will find an explanation that the syllable ya, when followed by the syllable vi, is considered a half-syllable. Please be relieved and take prasadam. Do not give up your life in this way.”

This was the experience of Srila Visvanath Chakravarti Thakur with this verse of Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami. Srila Visvanath Chakravarti Thakur was so learned, but he could not understand this point made by Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami. Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami tasted the deep, deeper, and deepest aspects of Krishna consciousness.

The universe flooded with desire

This is not the matter that I feel is necessary to discuss about this verse. Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami explains here that the Kama-gayatri-mantram is Krishna-svarup: it is a nondifferent form of Sri Krishna. He explains that the twenty-four and a half syllables in the mantram are like moons manifest within Sri Krishna’s transcendental form. Krishna’s face, Krishna’s forehead, Krishna’s eyes, and so on are all described as moons. This also, however, is not the matter I feel it is necessary to discuss.

My matter is Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami’s expression, “Trijagat kaila kamamaya: the whole universe is overflooded with kama.” This is the fact. Kama means desire, and kama has two forms: selfish desire and service desire. Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami explains:

atmendriya-priti-vanchha—tare bali ‘kama’
krsnendriya-priti-ichchha dhare ‘prema’ nama

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Adi-lila, 4.165)

“The desire to gratify one’s senses is called kama (lust), and the desire to gratify Krishna’s senses is prema (love).”

In English we translate the word prema as “love for Krishna”. Actually there is no word in English for prema. Prema means something like a mixture of love, attraction, attachment, affection, and sincere hankering. When Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami says trijagat kaila kamamaya he means that the universe is overflooded with both kama, the desire for mundane enjoyment, and prema, the desire to lovingly serve Krishna. Kama and prema are both manifestations of Krishna’s power, and like waves, they both constantly move throughout the universe.

When Krishna manifests His power externally within the mundane world as kama, His power becomes the influence of Cupid, the desire for mundane enjoyment. Everyone everywhere in the mundane environment is influenced by that. Not only everyone here, everyone throughout the three worlds—Svarga, Martya, and Patala (heaven, earth, and hell)—is influenced by it. No one can avoid Krishna’s power, and His power is present everywhere within the mundane worlds of Maya’s illusory environment in its external manifestation as kama (selfish desire).

Krishna also manifests His internal power within the mundane world to distribute prema. Through His personal beauty and attractiveness He inspires the jiva-souls to engage in His service. Krishna does this through the gayatri-mantram, which gives the jiva-souls a connection with Him and His abode of transcendental service.

It is explained in the scriptures that the gayatri-mantram comes from Krishna’s flute. Srila Guru Maharaj explained the meaning of Krishna’s flute-song, that is, the meaning of the gayatri-mantram. He explained that the sound emanating from Krishna’s flute is fully fledged with love, ecstasy, beauty, and charm; it attracts everyone and fills their hearts with joy. It is always sweet and produces attachment, attraction, and affection. Srila Guru Maharaj explained that Krishna is always playing everywhere in that way; He is always communicating everywhere with everyone’s heart. The sound of His flute, that wave, descends from the transcendental world with the power to capture the hearts of everyone in the three worlds and overfloods the external environment through the gayatri-mantram. That is the divine form of trijagat kaila kamamaya (filling the universe with desire).

Through that gayatri-mantram the jiva-souls connect to Krishna and are thrown into the wave of devotion, that is, filled with intense desire to satisfy Krishna. Within a second that devotional wave can automatically lift us up to the transcendental plane like an elevator. That devotional wave can conquer our heart and give us good nourishment. Through that we will always feel the presence of Lord Krishna in our heart, and through His service we will feel the full happiness of our existence.

Everything is within us, within our own jurisdiction. It is not necessary for us to go anywhere. What we receive from our Guru Maharaj, that is, the full form of the gayatri-mantram, is more than sufficient for us. If we can receive it properly we will taste it and feel its divine form.

The wave of kama

The waves of kama and prema are always flowing throughout the universe by the will of Lord Krishna. One carries the jiva-souls to the illusory environment and one carries the jiva-souls to the transcendental environment. The illusory environment appears by the Lord’s will as the material world, but within that the transcendental wave of prema also plays. The jiva-souls must join in the flow of these waves; they cannot avoid them. The jiva-souls are always moving under the influence of these waves. When the jiva-soul wants to enjoy maya then he is carried away by the wave of kama and suffers through great troubles in illusion; he forgets his abode, the service of his Lord, everything. The wave of kama becomes the wave that rounds throughout the mundane world pushing the jiva-souls through repeated births and deaths. That wave takes the form of their karma and pushes the jiva-souls birth after birth all over the material universe, through the upper planetary systems—Bhu, Bhuva, Sva, Maha, Jana, Tapa, and Satya lokas—and the seven lower planetary systems.

A departed soul once told me about that wave that surrounds souls when they leave their bodies and takes them to their next birth. After her death she was existing for some time in a neutral position on the mental plane as a pretayoni (ghost). She once quickly spoke to me and said that she could only speak for a short time because at any moment a great wave as thunderous as a storm was coming to knock her senseless and take her off to her next birth. She described this force as a wave and said she needed to leave quickly to hide from that wave.

That wave of kama is always flowing through this mundane world by the will of Lord Krishna. We can see its influence on society. Within the last ten or twenty years we have seen that the dress which was acceptable on television has changed. Before it was gentle and sober, but now everyone is nearly naked. This has changed in a very short period of time. Ten years ago it was not that way. This means that the world is being influenced by the wave of kama. Day by day this is happening more and more in our society during the Age of Kali, and lastly human society will become no different than beastly animal life. But when this is happening by Maya’s influence, who can avoid it? By the influence of the wave of kama, society is gradually moving towards a hellish position for the satisfaction of the general people. People are trying to enjoy materially, and for that they are breaking and changing the laws of society.

The wave of prema

This is related to the waves of kama and prema, and their influence on the consciousness of people. Whenever there is disturbance in this mundane world, like we see in the world today, then the spiritual wave, the wave of prema, comes down to set everything right. Krishna Himself says:

dharma-samsthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge[40]
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 4.8)

Everything is actually the Lord’s play, and everyone is really the Lord’s instrument. The Lord gave us freedom, expecting we would happily serve Him, but some unfortunate souls want to enjoy for themselves and thus become conditioned. To set those souls and the situation of society on the right path the Lord comes to the mundane world or sends His associates there.

ataeva kama-preme bahuta antara
kama—andha-tamah, prema—nirmala bhaskara

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Adi-lila, 4.172)

“Kama and prema are complete opposites. Kama is like darkness and prema is like bright light.”

Under the influence of kama the jiva-souls cannot see anything; they live in great darkness. They can only feel the influence of that wave of kama indirectly and are unable to avoid it. But prema is like very clean, happy light, not burning light, and it liberates the conditioned souls. Many people say, “Mukti, mukti, mukti,” but mukti actually means moving out of darkness into light. That is real liberation.

The jiva-souls have natural capacity for thinking, feeling, and willing, so they will automatically feel love and affection for their Lord, and be exalted with that, when they see Him through the light of the wave of prema. The solution to the suffering of the jiva-souls is dedication, love, and affection for Lord Krishna. The Lord’s service is transcendental, and through the Lord’s service the kama present in the jiva-souls’ hearts is transformed into prema by the Lord’s divine influence.

When we are established in the plane of dedication we will get an undisturbed and peaceful life. Until that wave of prema transforms the desires within our hearts and carries us beyond the illusory environment, we will still be pulled by illusion’s gravitational field. But when we cross the illusory environment’s gravity by the Lord’s positive power, we will realise our standard position. We will understand ourselves, and over and above that we will enter the transcendental plane where the eternally liberated souls are engaged in the Lord’s service. We are connected with the Lord and His service before liberation no doubt, but real service begins after liberation, after we are wholeheartedly dedicated with our full energy to satisfying the Lord. When that pure mood of devotion, that wave of prema, enters our hearts, we will cross the gravitational field of Maya’s illusory environment and easily be carried by it to Goloka Vrndavan. ⬆︎

Section Four

Achintya-Bhedabheda-Siddhanta

Dasa-mula-tattva

Truth Eight:

bhedabheda-prakasam sakalam api hareh

Everything is a manifestation distinct yet non-distinct from Krishna.

Chapter Nine

Perfect Harmony

The conception of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is called the achintya-bhedabheda-siddhanta: the conclusion of inconceivable difference and nondifference. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu taught that the achintya-bhedabheda-siddhanta applies to everything, and that everything can be adjusted and harmonised by it. His teaching of achintya-bhedabheda-siddhanta is not a vad, an ism. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu did not preach an ism. He preached siddhanta: perfect conclusions that make perfect harmony with everything, perfect conclusions that harmonise all isms.

Before the appearance of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu there were great Acharyas who preached different conceptions. There was Sankar Acharya and his conception of advaitavad [non-dualism], which is also known as mayavad [illusionism]. There was Ramanuja Acharya and his conception of visistadvaitavad [qualified non-dualism]. There was Madhva Acharya and his conception of suddha-dvaitavad [pure dualism]. There was Visnu Swami and his conception of suddhadvaitavad [pure non-dualism]. And there was Nimbarka Acharya and his conception of dvaitadvaitavad [dualism–cum–non-dualism]. There were so many vads, isms.

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu met with followers of all these conceptions, and everywhere He successfully established His conception of achintya-bhedabheda-siddhanta. He met many famous scholars like Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya and Prakasananda Saraswati. He discussed religion with them and gave them Krishna consciousness through His achintya-bhedabheda-siddhanta.

The Supreme Lord: Visnu

Other than mayavad, all of these conceptions are Vaisnava conceptions, and following them should be considered Vaisnavism. The definition of Vaisnava is Visnur asya Devata iti Vaisnava: one who is a devotee of Visnu is a Vaisnava. All the scriptures say, “All creation comes from Visnu.” Visnu means everyone’s Lord. There may be many different conceptions of Visnu, and many different conceptions of how to worship Him, but everyone who worships Him is a Vaisnava.

The Supreme Lord has many different forms and all of them can be referred to generally as Visnu. You will see a perfect example of this in Srimad Bhagavatam. There it is described that Krishna is the Lord’s original and supreme form and that Visnu is His expansion. There it is also described that Visnu and Krishna are a nondifferent tattva [truth]. Everyone knows that Krishna performed the Rasa-lila. Everyone knows that it was not Visnu, and that only Krishna can perform the divine Pastime of dancing with the gopis all night in Vrndavan. But when Vedavyas described that Pastime, he wrote, “Vikriditam Vraja-vadhubhir idam cha Visnoh: Visnu is playing with the Vraja-gopis in the Rasa-lila.”[41] Everyone knows it was really Krishna who performed this Pastime, but Vedavyas used the name Visnu to emphasise that Krishna is nondifferent from Visnu so that no one would conceive of Krishna’s Rasa-lila in a mundane way.

From general to specific

In this way we can understand that God is one, but, according to our capacity, we understand Him deeply, more deeply, and most deeply. Because of this, many different forms and conceptions of God consciousness are taught in this world for different persons. God consciousness is always one, but we see that within different conceptions there are different procedures for practising devotional life and that different forms of the Lord are worshipped. For example, Ramanuja Acharya worshipped Laksmi-Narayan and Madhva Acharya worshipped Bala Krishna.

Mahaprabhu Sri Chaitanyadev knew everything, and He taught the procedure to worship Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who has the full range of relationships with the jiva-souls.

aradhyo bhagavan vrajesa-tanayas tad-dhama vrndavanam
ramya kachid upasana vraja-vadhu-vargena va kalpita
srimad-bhagavatam pramanam amalam prema pumartho mahan
sri-chaitanya-mahaprabhor matam idam tatradarah nah parah

Srila Visvanath Chakravarti Thakur, who was a very exalted devotee in the school of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, presented Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s conception in gist form in this verse. His expression is, “Nanda Nandan Krishna of Sri Vrndavan Dham is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the most worshippable form of the Lord, the Vraja-gopis’ worship of Krishna is the supreme form of worship, Srimad Bhagavatam is the supreme scripture, and divine love for Krishna is the supreme goal and wealth of life.”

The sun and his rays

We can understand Mahaprabhu Sri Chaitanyadev’s conception, especially His achintya-bhedabheda-siddhanta, clearly through the writings of Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur.

tad bhinnamsams cha jivan prakrti-kavalitan tad-vimuktams cha bhavat
bhedabheda-prakasam sakalam api hareh sadhanam suddha-bhaktim

(Dasa-mula-tattva-niryasa)

Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur explains Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s teaching: everything is a manifestation of the Lord and is inconceivably different and nondifferent from the Lord. The jiva-souls, for example, are different and nondifferent from the Lord. The jiva-souls’ existence is compared to sun-rays which come from the sun, the Lord. The jiva-souls’ existence has almost all the same qualities as the Lord, just as sun-rays have almost all the same qualities as the sun. But just as it is the qualities of the sun that exist within sun-rays, so it is the Lord’s qualities that exist within the jiva-souls.

The Lord is supreme and exists with full power and quality, while the jiva-souls are very tiny and insignificant. In this way we can understand the jiva-souls and the Lord to be achintya-bhedabheda, inconceivably different and nondifferent. This is Mahaprabhu’s conception.

Harmonising the inconceivable

The Lord is all-powerful. He exists with all quality and qualification, and He is never subject to illusion. He is infinite and therefore able to reveal Himself to the finite jiva-souls. When the jiva-souls pray for His mercy, the Lord can reveal Himself to them and give them His ecstatic service. If He could not do this, then He would not be infinite.

The jiva-souls, though they are finite and subject to illusion, can know the Infinite (Krishna), by His will. That is achintya, inconceivable, and that means that the relationship between Krishna and Gurudev is achintya, the relationship between Gurudev and the jiva-soul is achintya, and the jiva-souls’ service to Krishna is also achintya. Yet they all happily exist, by the will of Krishna, which is also achintya.

The jiva-soul is finite and Krishna is infinite. But everyone has heard so many times that Krishna exists within every soul’s heart. This is a firm truth. But how can the Infinite live within the finite’s heart? Only by the Infinite’s will. That is achintya. How exactly it is possible that Krishna exists within the heart of the jiva-soul is achintya. Where exactly He exists there is achintya. How the jiva-souls can do wrong and go off to the illusory environment when He is present in their heart is also achintya. If Krishna exists in everyone’s heart, and Krishna’s power can remove all inauspiciousness, then why are the jiva-souls conditioned in the mundane environment? Why are they attached to the mundane environment? This is also achintya. The jiva-souls are simultaneously very near the Lord and very far from the Lord. Their position is achintya. All of these examples of inconceivable relationships can be harmonised naturally through Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s achintya-bhedabheda-siddhanta.

Levels of knowledge

The jiva-souls are by nature chit, spiritually conscious and knowing. This means that the jiva-souls can by nature experience transcendental reality, that they have the capacity to experience what is achintya. To do so they only need to be free from the influence of illusion and receive the Lord’s grace.

The scriptures describe the jiva-souls’ knowledge in five stages: pratyaksa, paroksa, aparoksa, adhoksaja, and aprakrta. Pratyaksa-jnan means direct knowledge, knowledge based on what is seen and felt by the senses and mind. Paroksa-jnan means indirect knowledge, knowledge that is learned from others based on their experiences with the senses (pratyaksa-jnan). Mundane science, Darwin’s theory of evolution, and so on, come from these two forms of knowledge. The scriptures explain that these are external forms of knowledge; they are like smokey coverings over the fire of the jiva-souls’ pure conscious nature.

Under the influence of illusion the jiva-souls perceive the material environment through their mind and senses, and they also make so many misperceptions of that environment with their mind and senses. They easily mistake smoke for fog, ropes for snakes, and so on. If jiva-souls try to make conclusions about the inconceivable based on their sensory knowledge and mental experience of the mundane world, they will be confused and misled. The pratyaksa and paroksa forms of knowledge are ignorable for jiva-souls who want to experience the inconceivable.

Scientific research and transcendental existence

We can also see though that scientific knowledge has a relationship with transcendental knowledge. All jiva-souls are naturally theistic; they are made of chetana, consciousness, and their thinking, feeling, and willing all lead them towards the theistic world. Now, in the scientific age, there is so much research going on. The subject of the scientists’ research is mundane no doubt, but their research is also very successful. We now have radio, television, internet, space travel, and so on.

Significantly, we can see that the scientists have discovered how to communicate through the ether. This shows everyone that it is not unreasonable to try to connect to a transcendental source of knowledge and the transcendental world.

After making so many discoveries Albert Einstein said, “I am searching beyond this material world now.” And Krishna said, “Bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan Mam prapadyate (Bg: 7.19): after a very long time someone who has actual knowledge will surrender to Me.” Many scientists are now concluding that they have been studying so many things in the material world but that now they must expand their search. This means that the searching spirit and the nature of consciousness itself naturally leads scientists (souls) in a theistic direction. It is my hope and expectation that as scientific research progresses the scientists and everyone who follows them will proceed towards the transcendental world as they get clues about connecting with transcendental knowledge. I expect that gradually, by the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the atheistic age will come to an end, and most scientists will become theistic and get Krishna consciousness. I do not think everything will go into the line of atheism.

If someone can believe that transcendental knowledge can descend from the transcendental abode, then we cannot say he is an atheist. I have travelled all over the world, and I have not actually seen an atheist anywhere. In some way everyone respects higher knowledge and higher existence. It is just that their respect is not properly adjusted. This means that everyone has a theistic mentality and respect for theism. Whenever anyone has clean consciousness, faith, and real hankering in their heart, they can easily understand the divine form of existence that is present in the Lord’s transcendental abode, full with love and affection.

Overpowering revelation

In this way we can understand the position of pratyaksa-jnan, direct sensory knowledge, and paroksa-jnan, knowledge from others’ discoveries. Above these types of knowledge is aparoksa-jnan: indistinct knowledge of consciousness. We cannot clearly describe that type of knowledge though, we can connect with it through scriptural advice. Then, from beyond that plane of hazy consciousness comes transcendental knowledge: adhoksaja-jnan. Srila Visvanath Chakravarti Thakur has given a definition of adhoksaja knowledge:

adhah-krtam atikrantam aksajam
indriyajam jnanam yena sah adhoksaja

“Knowledge that exists beyond the reach of our senses—our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, touch, and mind—that can forcibly knock down and cross over our worldly knowledge is adhoksaja knowledge.”

Within adhoksaja knowledge there are stages of revelation, and the highest level is the fifth level of the jiva-souls’ knowledge: aprakrta-jnan. Aprakrta means supramundane. Aprakrta-jnan means divine knowledge that reveals the transcendental form of reality but may appear ordinary. Inspiration to seek this highest, fifth dimension of knowledge is most valuable. Light from that aprakrta plane has been given to the world by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who has shown aprakrta-lila—the divine Pastimes of the Supreme Lord’s supramundane, human-like form—to be the subject and focus of all the scriptures, and the supreme goal of eternal life.

Spiritual form

The Vedanta-darsana begins with the command to search for Brahma, “Athato Brahma jijnasa: search for Brahma, search for the Absolute.” This advice is actually for persons who are unqualified, who must be reminded to search within the transcendental plane. But anyone whose consciousness has entered religious ground and the religious platform can play there happily with the meanings of the next sutra, “Janmady asya Yatah: Brahma is the source of everything.” Brahma is adhoksaja. We cannot understand Brahma, the source of everything, with only our mind and senses, but Brahma can be revealed to us, and that revelation can easily overpower our mundane experience.

Srimad Bhagavatam begins with an explanation of this second sutram, an explanation of janmady asya Yatah—Brahma. This means Srimad Bhagavatam begins with an explanation of what descends from the adhoksaja plane of knowledge; it begins from the all-powerful divine platform.

Sankar Acharya’s theory of mayavad [illusionism] is summarily dismissed within the very beginning of Srimad Bhagavatam’s explanation of Brahma:

janmady asya yato ’nvayad itaratas charthesv abhijnah svarat
tene brahma hrda ya adi-kavaye muhyanti yat surayah
tejo-vari-mrdam yatha vinimayo yatra tri-sargo ’mrsa
dhamna svena sada nirasta-kuhakam satyam param dhimahi[42]

(Srimad Bhagavatam: 1.1.1)

Mayavad is dismissed here because Vyasadev concluded this introductory verse with the phrase Satyam Param dhimahi: “I meditate on Brahma, the Supreme Truth, the Supreme Reality.” There cannot be meditation upon something that has no form, so there cannot be meditation on the Supreme if the Supreme has no form.

Sankar Acharya taught that Brahma is nirakar [formless], nirvises [devoid of qualities], and nihsakti [powerless]. He wrongly claims that the Supreme is formless and all forms are illusory. His philosophy, mayavad, is a very bad thing. It is directly offensive to the Supreme Lord and His eternal spiritual form, and is contradictory to the teachings and intentions of Vedavyas. Inside Sankar Acharya’s teachings are many miraculous expressions, but his conclusions lastly lead nearly to nastikavad [atheism].

Concealing the Lord

Sankar Acharya’s philosophy is no doubt very prominent in India. Still today forty per cent of the people in India follow Sankar Acharya. That is so, however, only because it is Krishna’s desire.

muktim dadati karhichit sma na bhakti-yogam[43]
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 5.6.18)

Krishna is always eager to give liberation to the jiva-souls. If anyone approaches Him through the proper channel He will easily grant them liberation. It is no problem for Him. But for Krishna to give conditioned souls devotion is very heavy for Him. Through devotion Krishna’s heart can be captured, and He can be bound by love and affection to His devotee. Krishna is not foolish, and He does not always want to give everyone devotion. When Krishna wanted to hide the practice of bhakti-yoga from insincere souls, He ordered Lord Siva, “Go and preach mayavad.”

mayavadam asach-chhastram prachchhannam bauddham uchyate
mayaiva vihitam devi kalau brahmana-murtina

(Padma-purana: Uttara-khanda, 25.7)

Then Lord Siva told Durga Devi, “In the Age of Kali I will take the form of a brahman, Sankar Acharya, and explain the Vedas in an atheistic way similar to Buddhism to cover and hide the Lord’s position.”

Supernatural capacity

In this way Bhagavan Sri Krishna came to preach the theory of mayavad in the Kali-yuga in the form of Sankar Acharya. Sankar Acharya was the only son of his mother, and he decided he wanted to take sannyas when he was an eight-year-old boy. It is a Vedic rule that no one can take sannyas without the permission of his mother. Sankar Acharya tried in several ways to get permission from his mother, but she would not give it to him.

As an incarnation of Lord Siva, Sankar Acharya could perform miracles. One day he went with his mother to the river to bathe and performed a miracle so that he could receive her permission to take sannyas. While he was bathing in the river he arranged for a crocodile to suddenly grab him. Then he cried, “Save my life!” He called to his mother, “O Mother! Give me permission to take sannyas. This crocodile is eating me and before I die I want to take sannyas. Please give me permission now.”

His mother gave her permission at that time. What could she do? She said, “I give you my permission to take sannyas.” Then immediately the crocodile left Sankar Acharya alone. Sankar Acharya came out of the water, paid his dandavat pranam to his mother, and left to take sannyas. Sankar Acharya had this sort of miraculous character, and with this type of capacity he preached his philosophy of mayavad.

The lotus eyes of Brahma

We can understand how Sankar Acharya preached his philosophy of mayavad and how it was defeated by the devotees of the Lord through a story about Ramanuja Acharya. I am very much attracted to the philosophy of Ramanuja Acharya because Mahaprabhu has shown the glory of his teachings. There are many very sweet stories from the Sri sampradaya. Anyhow, once when Ramanuja was a twelve-year-old boy he defeated his Sanskrit guru, Yadava Prakas. In the Chhandogya-upanisad there is a beautiful explanation of Brahma which describes how Brahma’s eyes are sweet, beautiful, and attractive:

yatha kapyasam pundarikam evam aksini
(Chhandogya-upanisad: 1.6.7)

Sankar Acharya said that this verse means that Brahma has no eyes, that Brahma is nirakar and nirvises, devoid of form and qualities. That is Sankar Acharya’s description of Brahma. Ramanuja Acharya explained this verse of Chhandogya-upanisad to mean that Brahma’s eyes, meaning Bhagavan’s eyes, the personal Lord’s eyes, are like beautiful lotus petals. He explained that it means that Bhagavan’s big eyes have a little light blue and reddish colour around them, and they are very palatable looking.

In his commentary, Sankar Acharya said, “Kapi asam—kapyasam.” Kapi means monkey. Maybe you have seen at the Jagannath Temple in Puri Dham there are monkeys whose back part is a little reddish. This was Sankar Acharya’s explanation: “Bhagavan’s eyes are like the reddish back part of a monkey’s body.” I have read this explanation in Sankar Acharya’s commentary. Sankar Acharya is not foolish. It is only the divine will of Lord Krishna that Sankar Acharya gave this explanation.

When the twelve-year-old boy Ramanuja heard this explanation from Yadava Prakas he began to cry. His guru asked him, “Why are you crying?”

Ramanuja replied, “It is impossible! Bhagavan’s eyes are not like a monkey’s reddish back part! How could any gentleman make this sort of comparison? I cannot understand!”

Yadava Prakas asked him, “Can you explain something more than Sankar Acharya?”

We must not forget Ramanuja was only a twelve-year-old boy at this time. He replied, “Yes, I can. The word kapi means monkey, but kapi also means padma [lotus]. The definition of kapi is kam pibati kapi, that is, kapi means something that drinks. So kapi means the nala [stem] of a lotus flower. Thus kapyasam means that which lives on top (asam) of a drinking stem (kapi); it means a lotus flower. The whole verse yatha kapyasam pundarikam evam aksini means that Bhagavan’s eyes are lotus eyes. Everyone knows this! Everyone knows Bhagavan’s eyes are like lotuses. Why did Sankar Acharya miss this point?”

Hearing young Ramanuja’s explanation, Yadava Prakas was surprised, “I cannot tolerate this boy, I shall kill him!” He tried to also, but lastly Laksmi-Narayan saved Ramanuja, and Yadava Prakas became his disciple. This type of story is found in Ramanuja Acharya’s sampradaya. Of the four Vaisnava sampradayas—the Sri, Brahma, Rudra, and Sanaka sampradayas—we see that the Sri sampradaya has the most exemplary devotional activity.

The bright effulgence of the dark Lord

In this way we can understand that Brahma really means Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But what is the actual definition of Brahma?

yasya prabha prabhavato jagad-anda-koti-
kotisv asesa-vasudhadi vibhuti-bhinnam
tad brahma niskalam anantam asesa-bhutam
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami[44]

(Sri Brahma-samhita: 5.40)

Brahma, or Brahmaloka, is the plane of divine light beyond all the material universes which is described by the Upanisads. Many jnanis and yogis may study or meditate on this impersonal form of Brahma, considering it the highest destination, but that aspect of Brahma is actually an external form of Krishna which emanates from His divine personal form.

vadanti tat tattva-vidas tattvam yaj jnanam advayam
brahmeti paramatmeti bhagavan iti sabdyate

(Srimad Bhagavatam: 1.2.11)

In Srimad Bhagavatam Vyasadev explains that all the rsis and munis have taught that the highest conception and destination in spiritual life is beyond Brahma, the nondifferentiated Absolute, and beyond Paramatma, the Supreme Soul. They have taught that the highest conception is Bhagavan. Only in the Bhagavan conception—the Sweet Absolute, Sri Krishna—is there full-fledged theism. Krishna is really Brahma’s svarup, Brahma’s original form.

Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami gave us a very clean and clear example to understand this:

brahma—anga-kanti tara, nirvisesa prakase
surya yena charma-chakse jyotirmaya bhase

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 20.159)

When we look at the sun in the sky, we see it as a gloriously illumined ball though we know that inside the sun there is an environment and life and many things playing in different ways. Our vision of Brahma is like that. We see it from very far away, and we do not see directly what it is. It is actually beyond our capacity to understand directly. It is adhoksaja [imperceptible]. We may be able to think of it at first by thinking of a light or energy not found in this world; but inside that, what we may think of as the light of Brahmaloka, is Vaikunthaloka, the variegated spiritual world.

jyotir-abhyantare rupam atulam syama-sundaram
(Narada-pancharatra)

If you enter into the glow of Brahmaloka, you will see it is actually the effulgence of Krishnaloka, and inside Krishna’s eternal abode you will find the beautiful, blackish form of Syamasundar, Reality the Beautiful, Krishna, eternally engaged in His sweet play. That is full-fledged theism.

In Sankar Acharya’s conception there is no Reality the Beautiful, no emporium of all rasa, no Supreme Personality of Godhead. In Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s conception Sankar’s nirakar nirvises Brahma is the divine effulgence of the playground of the Lord—Reality the Beautiful, Krishna.

The Creator and His creation

To consider Brahma to be nothing more than nirvises and nirakar, impersonal and formless, is to be avoided because it is not possible. All of creation, both transcendental and mundane, has form, and all jiva-souls have form. But the Creator Himself cannot have a form? It is unthinkable. How can the Creator of everything, the Creator of all forms and qualities, have no form and qualities? The Creator cannot be less than His creation. He can never be zero. Whatever is present within us must be present in our source. We can never think that the divine source of all things is powerless and has no personality. After the Lord has created me I, will deny Him? He has given me a form, consciousness, realisation, and so on. He has given me so many things, and with them I will deny Him? It is nonsense thinking.

Within the material creation everything generally moves in a systematic way. The planets orbit around the sun and so on. How can the Creator be powerless or foolish? It sometimes may be difficult for some persons to see that everything is moving nicely under the Lord’s control. Sometimes it may seem to some that everything is happening in a wrong way. But whether everything seems to be moving rightly or wrongly, the Creator cannot be considered powerless.

Divine personality

Vedavyas said, “Raso vai Sah.” Sah means ‘He’. Brahma is ‘He’, who is the Creator of all, the cause of all causes, who has His own existence, who is fully complete, who is Reality in its fullest form, and who is for Himself and by Himself as Reality the Beautiful.[45] This expression of Vedavyas also summarily dismisses Sankar Acharya’s nirvisesvad. If Brahma is ‘He’ then Brahma cannot be nirakar, nirvises, and nihsakti. He must have form, qualities, and power.

We read everywhere that the Lord has eternal form, qualities, and power. He does not have a material form. He does not have a form like the forms we see in this world. He has a transcendental form. In Islam they do not explain this entirely, but they always pray, “By your mercy Allah, by your mercy Allah.” If the Lord does not have form and power, how can He bestow mercy? The Muslims also say that after death everyone will be judged by the Lord. If the Lord has no potency and personality, how can He judge everyone? In Christianity there are many descriptions of heaven. The Lord Himself, His form, His qualities, and so on are not directly described, but if He is said to be eternally playing in heaven, then He must have a transcendental form and qualities.

Inconceivable wonders

The transcendental, eternal form of the Lord is aprakrta, supramundane, and is supremely worshippable. But it is no doubt difficult to believe that the Lord’s supreme form is that of a young boy named Krishna, whom we can play with and feel joyful by serving.

srutim apare smrtim itare bharatam anye bhajantu bhava-bhitah
aham iha nandam vande yasyalinde param brahma

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 19.96)

Who will actually believe that the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krishna plays in the courtyard of His father Nanda Maharaj? So many rsis have done so much research and finally given us this knowledge. They have no intention to cheat us. Vyasadev has given us this knowledge, this finest consciousness, and he has no intention to cheat us. Whether we believe it or not, it is true. It may be difficult for us to conceive, but still it is true, and when we become established in that truth we will feel complete joy and ecstasy.

Krishna’s eternal abode and His existence within that abode are no doubt inconceivable for the conditioned souls. How it is that the Lord has unlimited eternal forms—like Nrsimhadev, Vamandev, Ramachandra, and Krishna—is achintya [inconceivable]. How it is that They all exist in an eternal, fully conscious way, full with Their own spiritual property within Their own infinite abodes is also achintya. How They all exist at once within Paravyoma Dham, the spiritual world, is also achintya. How Krishna sometimes takes the form of Vasudev, sometimes takes the form of Sankarsan, and sometimes takes the forms of Pradyumna and Aniruddha is achintya. How Krishna sometimes shows His prabhava-vilas and vaibhava-vilas forms in His different abodes—Dvaraka, Mathura, and Vrndavan—is achintya. How Krishna can expand His power like a candle that lights thousands of other candles, and how all the candles can shine with His same supreme power, is achintya. Anor aniyan mahato mahiyan: how Krishna can be smaller than the smallest and greater than the greatest at the same time is achintya. How Krishna is always fully present within all of His infinite manifestations simultaneously—all of these things are achintya.

Achintya means that which is beyond our capacity to think or understand.

achintyah khalu ye bhava na tams tarkena yojayet
prakrtibhyah param yach cha tad achintyasya laksanam[46]

(Mahabharata: Bhisma-parva, 5.22)

Srila Guru Maharaj used to say that our mundane brains are like puppy brains: they cannot conceive of the transcendental reality. Prakrtibhyah param, everything we can think, see, and do is all powerless in trying to realise what is achintya, inconceivable. But when the scriptures describe something as inconceivable (achintya) and imperceptible (adhoksaja) it does not mean that it does not exist; it means it is happily existing beyond this universe in the transcendental realm that can be revealed to us.

chintamani-prakara-sadmasu kalpa-vrksa-
laksavrtesu surabhir abhipalayantam
laksmi-sahasra-sata-sambhrama-sevyamanam
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami[47]

(Sri Brahma-samhita: 5.29)

How can we conceive of Krishna’s divine abode? How can we conceive that every woman there is like Laksmi Devi and that all wealth is existing within each of them? How can we conceive that Krishna is their only Enjoyer and everything there exists for Krishna’s enjoyment? How can we conceive that there we can ask a wish-fulfilling tree for a ripe mango that has no skin or seed? It is all achintya, but also, very happily existing.

Internal feeling

Everything that exists in the transcendental world exists within consciousness. The divine play of Krishna’s aprakrta-lila can be felt in the hearts of the jiva-souls through revelation. Srila Guru Maharaj would say, “Everything exists within consciousness; everything exists within bhava.”

Bhava means mood and internal feeling. It is through bhava that Krishna’s Pastimes happily flow. Krishna’s asura-nidan-lilas [Pastimes of killing demons] exist within bhava, and the Pastimes of viraha [separation from Krishna] also exist within bhava. How can we conceive that time does not move in Krishna’s abode? That there is no past or future there, only the eternal present? How can we conceive that there every day is Krishna’s birthday, and every day is Krishna’s play day? It is all achintya.

There, whatever is present within a devotee’s bhava immediately happens in front of them. When Mother Yasomati thinks, “Oh! Krishna has gone to Mathura!”, she faints and cries. But when she wakes up and sees Krishna playing His flute and asking her, “O Mother, give me some butter and sweets”, she makes these for Him, Krishna eats them, and her mood changes. This is Krishna’s spiritual abode. That all jiva-souls have a service-place there, that all the conditioned souls can go to that plane and engage in service there, is achintya, and miraculous.

True liberation

In the material world the jiva-souls suffer through death and birth, happiness and sadness, and so many things. They cannot cross the natural laws. But if they have a little sincere interest in the fifth dimension, in the aprakrta plane of transcendental service, they can easily be rescued from the material world. They can attain liberation and become a member of the holiest place within Vaikunthaloka: Goloka Vrndavan,where fully auspicious happiness exists eternally.

muktir hitvanyatha rupam sva-rupena vyavasthitih
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 2.10.6)

Real liberation means not only becoming free from the illusory environment and the whole of mundanity, but living in the transcendental service plane as the Lord’s eternal servitor.

In the scriptures five kinds of liberation are described: sarupya, salokya, samipya, sarsti, and sayujya. When the jiva-souls practise bhakti-yoga, they can attain the first four forms of mukti for the Lord’s service. Sarupya-mukti means attaining a form like that of the Lord, salokya-mukti means attaining a place in the Lord’s abode, samipya-mukti means attaining direct association with the Lord, and sarsti-mukti means attaining opulence like that of the Lord. The last form of mukti, sayujya-mukti, is bad. Sayujya-mukti means merging into the fire of the Lord’s effulgence. This type of liberation is the goal of the mayavadis who follow Sankar Acharya’s theory.

Sankar Acharya’s theory of sayujya-mukti is nothing more than the idea of a black hole. If anything enters a black hole it disappears and will never return. In his theory of mukti, Sankar Acharya said that jnan, jneya, and jnata—knowledge, the object of knowledge, and the knower—are all demolished and disappear.

His theory is called jnana-mukti. Non-devotional scholars explain that jnana-mukti is like the meeting point of three lines. They say that jnan, jneya, and jnata—knowledge, the object of knowledge, and the knower—are like three different lines that merge at one point and that point is liberation. Real mukti, however, is the extension of those lines into the transcendental service world.

muktir hitvanyatha rupam sva-rupena vyavasthitih

Real mukti is the extension of the jiva-souls’ thinking, feeling, and willing—the extension of their knowledge, their environment, and themselves—into their transcendental forms for the service of the Lord. Anyatha rupam means that the jiva-souls’ thinking, feeling, and willing all merge in one point, mukti, and after that they are extended onto the spiritual platform.

All jiva-souls are naturally thinking, feeling, and willing, so love and affection automatically come to them for their Lord when they leave the darkness of maya and enter the light of the transcendental world. Leaving the darkness of illusion and entering into the light of Krishna consciousness is the actual meaning of mukti.

Inconceivable manifestations

In this way we can understand the conception of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His teaching of the achintya-bhedabheda-siddhanta.

tad bhinnamsams cha jivan prakrti-kavalitan tad-vimuktams cha bhavat
bhedabheda-prakasam sakalam api hareh sadhanam suddha-bhaktim

(Dasa-mula-tattva-niryasa)

When the jiva-souls are prakrti-kavalitan, covered by illusory matter, they live apart from the Lord. And when the jiva-souls are vimuktams cha bhavat, liberated through their devotional mood—the improvement of their consciousness (bhava)—they play within the Lord’s divine abode. By the Lord’s will the transcendental environment and the illusory environment exist side by side as His manifestations, and the jiva-souls live within these environments. Only a very few jiva-souls temporarily exist within the illusory environment, and gradually all jiva-souls come to exist within the transcendental environment of divine attraction to the Lord. In this way we can see everything in perfect harmony as an achintya-bhedabheda-prakas, an inconceivably different and nondifferent manifestation of the Supreme Lord. ⬆︎

Section Five

Pure Devotion

Dasa-mula-tattva

Truth Nine:

sadhanam suddha-bhaktim

Pure devotion is the way.

Chapter Ten

Spiritual Evolution

Question: Why are there different types of yoga if the primary aim of all of them is to get in touch with our true nature?

Srila Govinda Maharaj: Everything about yoga and spiritual life is concisely explained in Srimad Bhagavad-gita. In Srimad Bhagavad-gita Krishna took the form of a Jagad Guru and gave transcendental knowledge to the world.

In the beginning of Srimad Bhagavad-gita Arjuna surrenders to Krishna wholeheartedly. He prays, “My Lord, I am fully surrendering to You now. I do not know and cannot understand what is good or what is bad for me. Please reveal transcendental knowledge in my heart.” Krishna took His chair as Arjuna’s Guru and enlightened Arjuna with transcendental knowledge in a very clear and broad way. In the 700 verses of Srimad Bhagavad-gita everything is explained; all types of knowledge and yoga are explained by Krishna Himself in His form as Jagad Guru.

The scripture Srimad Bhagavad-gita is Vedavyas’ record of Krishna’s instructions to His dearmost friend Arjuna, but Arjuna was actually an instrument used by Krishna to express the essence of yoga and transcendental knowledge to the whole world. Krishna actually spoke Srimad Bhagavad-gita for the benefit of the conditioned souls of this world, and we see now how famous Srimad Bhagavad-gita is all over the world. If anyone will read Srimad Bhagavad-gita and try to follow Lord Sri Krishna’s advice as though Krishna is his own Guru, then he must be benefitted. If anyone fully surrenders to Krishna in this way, Krishna will never cheat him. Rather, Krishna will always be merciful to him, and all obstacles will be removed from his spiritual life.

The basis of all yoga

In the early portion of Srimad Bhagavad-gita Krishna explains that yoga means practices for progress in life, practices for sympathetic and harmonious dealings with nature. Krishna begins His explanation of yoga by giving inspiration to everyone to avoid selfish action and instead take up yoga. Krishna says:

durena hy avaram karma buddhi-yogad dhananjaya
buddhau saranam anvichchha krpanah phala-hetavah[48]

(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 2.49)

“You are an eternal jiva-soul. You have natural capacity for thinking, feeling, and willing. You cannot avoid those aspects of your existence. If you use your natural conscious property to exploit the material nature, you will not be fulfilled; you will be a miser destined to suffer helplessly. By your nature you are always active, so do something positive, otherwise you will always be the cause of harm to yourself and others.”

In this verse Krishna encourages everyone to take up buddhi-yoga [the yoga of wisdom]. Buddhi-yoga is the first form of yoga mentioned in Srimad Bhagavad-gita, and buddhi-yoga is the basis of all the forms of yoga Krishna goes on to describe: karma-yoga, jnana-yoga, hatha-yoga, dhyana-yoga, abhyasa-yoga, bhakti-yoga, and so on. Krishna explains:

buddhi-yukto jahatiha ubhe sukrta-duskrte
tasmad yogaya yujyasva yogah karmasu kausalam

(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 2.50)

[“A wise person engaged in buddhi-yoga abstains from both good and bad actions in this world and simply engages in yoga because yogah karmasu kausalam: yoga is the art of action.”]

Buddhi-yoga is a very wide idea. It is the basis of yoga itself, and all other forms of yoga are expressions of buddhi-yoga.

Sacrifice

When Arjuna first asks Krishna how to practise buddhi-yoga, Krishna begins by giving Him advice about karma-yoga [pious activity].

karmany evadhikaras te ma phalesu kadachana
ma karma-phala-hetur bhur ma te sango ’stv akarmani

(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 2.47)

Krishna explains that the karma-yogi has the right to perform his prescribed duty but not to enjoy the fruits of his actions. The karma-yogi should not be motivated to do his duty because of the fruits it produces, and he should not be inclined to give up action. Rather he should be motivated by the desire to be in proper harmony with the environment and its Controller.

yajnarthat karmano ’nyatra loko ’yam karma-bandhanah
tad-artham karma kaunteya mukta-sangah samachara

(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 3.9)

Krishna advises that by performing actions as a sacrifice, rather than an attempt to exploit the environment, the karma-yogi will attain great piety and happiness. Action offered as a sacrifice to the Lord is called yajna. Yajno vai Visnuh: sacrifice means Visnu, the Lord. All sacrifice, and therefore all action (karma), is actually meant to satisfy Visnu, and any action that is not offered to the Lord is the cause of bondage and suffering in this world.

Enlightenment and meditation

After explaining karma-yoga Krishna says:

sarvam karmakhilam partha jnane parisamapyate
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 4.33)

“The perfection of pious activity (karma-yoga) is its culmination in transcendental knowledge (jnan).”

Through karma-yoga one is enlightened and receives proper knowledge. Without practising karma-yoga, that is, engaging in sacrifice and service, transcendental knowledge will not actually appear in the heart. But when someone offers themselves properly and opens their heart then they are enlightened and can practise jnana-yoga [the yoga of knowledge].

Through jnana-yoga one understands the entangling nature of material existence and then pursues liberation from samsara [the cycle of birth and death] and realisation of Brahma [the Absolute]. Krishna advises persons who become firmly established in knowledge and the practice of jnana-yoga to practise meditation through astanga-yoga (dhyana-yoga). When one practises astanga-yoga one meditates, striving to remove one’s consciousness from the outside world and attain to a vision of the Supreme Soul who is subtly present everywhere throughout existence.

Yoga’s primary form

In this way Krishna explains how selfless action (karma-yoga) leads to the yogas of knowledge, renunciation, and meditation (jnana-yoga and dhyana-yoga). After describing these processes Krishna presents His final teaching about yoga practice.

tapasvibhyo ’dhiko yogi jnanibhyo ’pi mato ’dhikah
karmibhyas chadhiko yogi tasmad yogi bhavarjuna
yoginam api sarvesam mad-gatenantar-atmana
sraddhavan bhajate yo mam sa me yuktatamo matah[49]

(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 6.46-47)

“A yogi is superior to persons engaged in physical austerities and dry renunciation (tapasvis), superior to persons of knowledge (jnanis), and superior to persons of mundane action (karmis). Therefore one should be a yogi. The best of all yogis is the devotee, the bhakti-yogi, who holds Me within his heart with full faith, and always engages in My service. He is most intimately united with Me.”

Here Krishna clearly expresses, through direct comparison, that the bhakti-yogi is the highest type of yogi. Within Srimad Bhagavad-gita gradual levels of development in spiritual practice and realisation are explained. Krishna explains that yoga is one, but that there is a development within yoga. He explains that yoga, that is, buddhi-yoga, develops through different forms, beginning with karma-yoga, and goes up past jnana-yoga and astanga-yoga to bhakti-yoga.

Because it is so accommodating and broad in its discussion, Srimad Bhagavad-gita explains not only its primary subject, bhakti-yoga, but also explains all the levels of realisation that lead to bhakti-yoga: karma-yoga, jnana-yoga, and so on. This is done through the idea of buddhi-yoga. In this way Krishna praises karma-yoga, jnana-yoga, and astanga-yoga, but praises bhakti-yoga the most.

Bhakti-yoga is what is truly necessary for all jiva-souls eternally. The other yogas are only necessary for conditioned souls according to their relative stages of advancement. A primary school student will not understand the lessons taught in secondary school. A secondary school student will not understand the lessons taught in a Ph.D programme. Krishna explained different stages of development in Srimad Bhagavad-gita, and in that way they are all important. But unless a yogi advances through the stages of yoga practice mentioned up to bhakti-yoga, he will not attain the ultimate goal of all yoga.

The ultimate path and destination

Each form of yoga practice has a specific destination. The destination of karma-yoga is Svargaloka [heaven]. The destination of jnana-yoga is Brahma, the nondifferentiated spiritual plane. The destination of hatha-yoga is Paramatma-tattva: vision of the Supreme Soul within all things.

All the forms of yoga practice do not lead to the same destination, and all the destinations are not the same. Heavenly enjoyment may be considered very desirable by materialistic persons, but not by spiritualists. Also, the spiritual destinations of Brahma and Paramatma are Absolute, but there is gradation amongst them. They are not of equal value, and someone travelling east cannot expect to attain something that is found only in the west.

vadanti tat tattva-vidas tattvam yaj jnanam advayam
brahmeti paramatmeti bhagavan iti sabdyate[50]

(Srimad Bhagavatam: 1.2.11)

Beyond the temporary enjoyment of the heavenly plane within the mundane universe there are three primary spiritual destinations: Brahma, Paramatma, and Bhagavan. Through jnana-yoga one can go to Brahmaloka, through hatha-yoga one can realise the Paramatma, and through bhakti-yoga one can go to Bhagavatloka, the divine abode of the Supreme Lord, and serve there eternally. In Srimad Bhagavad-gita Krishna says:

yad gatva na nivartante tad dhama paramam mama
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 15.6)

“Through devotion (bhakti-yoga) you can come to My divine abode and play eternally with Me, the emporium of all rasa. From there the illusory environment will never attack you, and you will never have to return to the mundane world again.”

In this way we can understand the position of the Lord’s eternal abode as the supreme destination for all jiva-souls, and bhakti-yoga as the supreme form of yoga practice.

Satisfying Krishna

When any of the different types of yogis finally collect all of their energy and use it with concentration to serve and satisfy the Lord, they will truly receive their supreme benefit. They will enter the transcendental service world, become free of the influence of maya, and feel the supramundane joy of engaging in Krishna’s service. One who serves Krishna twenty-four hours a day is really the supreme yogi. Krishna Himself says this in Srimad Bhagavad-gita. It is His conclusive opinion.

What does a bhakti-yogi actually do? How does he engage in the Lord’s service? The natural property of jiva-souls is the capacity for thinking, feeling, and willing. A bhakti-yogi engages these facilities in Krishna’s service.

yat karosi yad asnasi yaj juhosi dadasi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya tat kurusva mad-arpanam

(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 9.27)

Krishna lovingly advises us how to practise bhakti-yoga: “Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer, whatever you give, whatever vow you keep—do it as an offering unto Me. That is your eternal duty and natural religion.”

This sort of bhakti-yoga is the ideal practice for all jiva-souls. When our practising life will advance to this stage we will be completely satisfied. When we can engage all of our activities in Krishna’s service we will receive His mercy and feel complete fulfilment.

Through bhakti-yoga, we can merge our account with Krishna’s account. If everything we do is for the service and satisfaction of Krishna then we will be established on the spiritual platform of existence. We will live in the transcendental service world and will not be further entangled in karma. This is the highest and best path, as well as the highest and best destination, for all jiva-souls.

The Lord’s merciful appeal

Krishna gave His guidance to the conditioned souls in different stages throughout Srimad Bhagavad-gita. He presented the knowledge of karma-yoga, jnana-yoga, and astanga-yoga to bring all the jiva-souls whose minds and mentalities are attracted in different ways to the devotional platform. Finally He showed His greatest mercy in His very happy conclusion:

sarva-guhyatamam bhuyah srnu me paramam vachah
isto ’si me drdham iti tato vaksyami te hitam

(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 18.64)

“Because you are so dear to Me I will now tell you the most hidden treasure that I have to share with you. Hear My advice with full faith and you must be super-benefitted.”

man-mana bhava mad-bhakto mad-yaji mam namaskuru
mam evaisyasi satyam te pratijane priyo ’si me

(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 18.65)

“I am the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Whatever you do, do it for Me. Think of Me always, devote yourself to Me, worship Me, and bow to Me, and surely you will come to Me. Your whole account will come to Me. I promise you this because you are dear to Me. Other practices will not be truly fruitful for you. The practice of bhakti-yoga must be fully fruitful for you and will give you supreme benefit.”

The inner quality of all yoga

Within bhakti-yoga all the rules and regulations of the various forms of yoga merge together for the satisfaction of Krishna. In bhakti-yoga all actions and their results go to Krishna. Here we find the full meaning of buddhi-yoga and yogah karmasu kausalam: “Yoga is the art of all activity.” That is, through bhakti-yoga, everything is perfectly adjusted for the satisfaction of Krishna.

When I translated Srimad Bhagavad-gita under the guidance of Srila Guru Maharaj I found that Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur, who was a very expert translator, put great emphasis on Krishna’s teaching of buddhi-yoga. He wrote that what is explained as buddhi-yoga in the beginning of Srimad Bhagavad-gita is actually a covered form of bhakti-yoga, and that Krishna actually begins teaching bhakti-yoga from the very beginning of Srimad Bhagavad-gita under the covering of buddhi-yoga.

There are eighteen chapters in Srimad Bhagavad-gita, and externally they are named Karma-yoga, Jnana-yoga, and so on. What is actually inside those chapters? We see that within all eighteen chapters of Srimad Bhagavad-gita the fully enlightened form of Krishna consciousness, expressed as bhakti-yoga, is present. All the other forms of yoga—karma, jnan, and so on—are actually dependent on bhakti-yoga.

ei saba sadhanera ati tuchchha bala
krsna-bhakti vina taha dite nare phala

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 22.18)

“Without the presence of devotion, that is, Krishna-bhakti, the practices of karma, jnan, and so on will not be fruitful. They have no power on their own.”

In every chapter of Srimad Bhagavad-gita Krishna connects the jiva-souls’ activity within the different forms of yoga with bhakti. The results the jiva-souls may get from the various lower forms of yoga—karma-yoga, jnana-yoga, and so on—are actually produced by the presence of bhakti within those practices. The practices of karma-yoga and jnana-yoga are actually mixed with bhakti-yoga.

The main heart of all the jiva-souls’ spiritual activity is always bhakti-yoga. Everything Krishna explained in Srimad Bhagavad-gita from beginning to end, is actually about bhakti-yoga. This means that nothing within Srimad Bhagavad-gita can be ignored: every chapter is important for everyone, including those who practise bhakti-yoga.

I have been reading Srimad Bhagavad-gita and practising bhakti-yoga all my life, and through that I have understood that everything within Srimad Bhagavad-gita is important for everyone. I have read Srimad Bhagavad-gita so many times, and every time I read it new meaning comes to me. But the general meanings of the verses do not become suppressed. Rather, more and more meanings continue to overflow. I am so satisfied with that. From deep to deeper to deepest, everything is presented in Srimad Bhagavad-gita. It is necessary for everyone to read Srimad Bhagavad-gita every day attentively. Day by day I am more and more enthusiastic to preach the conception taught in Srimad Bhagavad-gita because it is very essential for the primary religious education of all people.

Abandon all religions

Question: I read in Srimad Bhagavad-gita that Krishna says, “Abandon all religions and come to Me.” Can you clarify the meaning of this?

Srila Govinda Maharaj: Yes. All religions are actually one: the jiva-souls must be attracted to their Lord, who is like an all-attractive magnet. The purpose of all the different kinds of religion practised within this material world is to give the jiva-souls consciousness about this, their main religion, their natural religion: divine attraction and service to their Lord.

We are not actually Hindu, Muslim, Christian, or anything. We are all actually jiva-souls who are covered by the illusory environment. As jiva-souls we have the capacity for thinking, feeling, and willing. And when our natural conscious capacity will come into its own clean, transcendental position, then we will automatically feel attracted by the Lord’s divine form and be inspired to engage in His service. That is the main and real religion of all jiva-souls, and in remembrance of that eternal, spiritual religion, Krishna said to Arjuna:

sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksayisyami ma suchah

(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 18.66)

“I shall give you the supreme in life if you take shelter at My lotus feet. Give up all other forms of religion and surrender exclusively to Me. I will liberate you from all sin. Have no fear.”

What Krishna means is that the different kinds of religion practised in this material world are not perfect forms of religion’s actual nature, and that actual religion is to surrender to the Lord’s lotus feet and engage eternally in His service. Krishna is teaching the conditioned souls: “You are nonsense. You are tiny, insignificant souls. You cannot understand what is what, what is good, what is bad, and so on. You should always avoid irreligion—that is never worshippable. But not only that, you should also leave behind even your good knowledge, even your understanding of religion, even your idea of proper religious life for peace and harmony in this world.

“Just surrender to Me. I am the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and I control everything. I will take care of everything for you as well as everyone else. I will take care of the results of all your activities whether they are religious or irreligious, good or bad. You have nothing to fear. I give you this assurance. Do not be fearful. Just surrender to Me. Because you are very dear to Me I am advising you in this way. I am the only Person who can give everything to you. Surrender to Me and act according to My direction. By serving Me you will be fully satisfied.”

The Lord’s guardianship

Only the Lord, Krishna, can say this, and it is a very serious matter. When Krishna says, “Aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksayisyami: I will liberate you from all sin”, He means that He will take full charge of a surrendered soul. It is actually the Lord’s duty to mercifully accept the surrendered souls who fully realise their eternal spiritual position and offer themselves to Him. He must say to them, “Yes, I am your Lord, and I am taking your whole charge.” Krishna promises the jiva-souls:

samo ’ham sarva-bhutesu na me dvesyo ’sti na priyah
ye bhajanti tu mam bhaktya mayi te tesu chapy aham

(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 9.29)

“I do not interfere with the freedom of any jiva-soul, but if any jiva-soul surrenders to Me and worships Me, then I will take special interest in him. I will take his charge. I will look after everything for him and satisfy him.”

ananyas chintayanto mam ye janah paryupasate

tesam nityabhiyuktanam yoga-ksemam vahamy aham
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 9.22)

“If any jiva-soul fully surrenders to Me and serves Me with all his energy, then I will give full satisfaction to him and I Myself will supply him with food, lodging, and all his necessities (yoga-ksemam). It will not be necessary for him to think about his material life. He will only need to engage in My service.”

The Lord knows how He will take the surrendered souls back to the transcendental world. He knows how He will promote them from the material world to the spiritual world, and the surrendered souls feel that; they feel the Lord’s guardianship.

The ocean of sin

When Krishna tells the conditioned souls, “Leave not only your irreligion but your religion also”, then a conditioned soul may ask, “If I leave behind my pious activities, which are good for everyone in this world, then only my sinful activities will remain. So will I be left in a sinful position with nothing good to show for myself?”

This question can be answered by understanding that the whole material world, where the conditioned souls live, is actually an ocean of sin. It is a world constructed for the sinful souls who are averse to the Lord (Krsna bhuli’ sei jiva anadi-bahirmukha). Generally we know what sin is. It is a very simple thing: a sin is something unlawful in this world. But here in Srimad Bhagavad-gita Krishna teaches a deeper idea. Krishna teaches that sin actually means anything not done for the Lord’s satisfaction. He teaches that even pious activity is actually sinful if it is not done for the Lord’s satisfaction.

What the jiva-souls do in the material world is very simple: they eat, sleep, fear, and enjoy (ahara-nidra-bhaya-maithunam cha). This is the simple summary of all the conditioned souls’ activity. These activities may be done very piously by conditioned souls, but Krishna’s final teaching in Srimad Bhagavad-gita is that if these activities are not done with Krishna consciousness, if they are not done for the satisfaction of Krishna, then they are actually sin. Although they may be done in a way that is harmonious externally within the material world, they are actually the cause of bondage in the illusory environment if they are not dedicated to Krishna.

It is written in the Vedas, Vedanta, Upanisads, and so on that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In Srimad Bhagavad-gita Krishna Himself says this. Many times in Srimad Bhagavad-gita Krishna identifies Himself as the Lord. He declares:

aham hi sarva-yajnanam bhokta cha prabhur eva cha
na tu mam abhijananti tattvenatas chyavanti te

(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 9.24)

“I am the Lord, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the rightful enjoyer of everything. The conditioned souls who do not recognise Me fall into the bondage of maya.”

When Krishna says, “Aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksayisyami: I will liberate you from all sin”, He means that He will liberate you from the sinful world of maya, from the world where it is a sin just to exist. In this way Krishna shows the conditioned souls that all of their activity, even pious or general religious activity, is actually sinful if it is not done as surrendered service to His lotus feet. He also shows the conditioned souls that if they consciously enter the platform of transcendental service, then they can play there happily with no fear (ma suchah). Only when the jiva-souls surrender to Krishna and serve Him with their full energy—Man-mana bhava Mad-bhakto, Mad-yaji Mam namaskuru—will they find proper adjustment in life, that is, true yoga.

Dive deep into saranagati

Srila Guru Maharaj also explained that after Krishna declared, “Sarva-dharman parityajya Mam ekam saranam vraja: abandon all varieties of religion and surrender unto Me”, His battlefield mentality was curtailed, and He needed to end His conversation with Arjuna.

When the word vraja came from His mouth, His mood softened. The sound of the word vraja brought Krishna’s consciousness to Vraja Dham, Sri Vrndavan Dham. If anyone says, “Vraja, vraja, vraja”, their mind will think of Vraja Dham. So why would Krishna not also think of Vrndavan when He said, “Mam ekam saranam vraja”? When Krishna remembered Vraja Dham at this time He thought, “What is saranagati? What is surrender? That exists in its supreme form only in Vraja Dham.”

The word vraja actually means gaman kora, gachchha [‘move’, ‘go’]. Srila Guru Maharaj explained that vraja means, “Dive deep into Reality. Dive deep into the reality of saranagati.” When Krishna remembered Vraja Dham and the surrendered devotees of Vraja Dham in this way, His mood changed, and He ended His conversation with Arjuna. He forgot Arjuna actually.

After His verse sarva-dharman parityajya Mam ekam saranam vraja He thought, “Enough! What I have explained is sufficient, and it is not necessary for Me to explain anything more at this time.” He concluded by telling Arjuna:

idam te natapaskaya nabhaktaya kadachana
na chasusrusave vachyam na cha mam yo ’bhyasuyati

(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 18.67)

“Do not give this consciousness I have given to somone who is devoid of self-sacrifice, to someone who is not My devotee, to someone who does not engage in My service, or to someone who is envious of Me.”

Krishna told Arjuna, “Yathechchhasi tatha kuru: now you can do as you like. I have told you enough of what is necessary for you. It is not necessary for Me to say anything more. I am finishing our conversation. You can now do as you like.”

Arjuna was Krishna’s intimate friend, and he understood that if he said anything more, it would give pain to Krishna. So Arjuna immediately surrendered and said:

nasto mohah smrtir labdha tvat-prasadan mayachyuta
sthito ’smi gata-sandehah karisye vachanam tava

(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 18.73)

“You have undoubtedly been so merciful to me, and my illusion is now gone. I am now firmly situated in my real consciousness, and all my doubts are gone. I shall follow Your instructions and do my duty.”

Then Krishna said, “Start the fighting!” Arjuna said, “Yes. This is my job, as You have given it to me, so I shall finish it as soon as possible. Then You will get some relief.”

This is Krishna consciousness: acting fearlessly for the satisfaction of Krishna. Krishna is so beautiful and so merciful. We can see that all charm, ecstasy, love, and harmony exist within the Krishna conception. Kam va dayalum saranam vrajema (SB: 3.2.23): who shall we surrender to other than Krishna? Everything is present wherever Krishna is. In the final verse of Srimad Bhagavad-gita Sanjaya said to Dhrtarastra:

yatra yogesvarah krsno yatra partho dhanur-dharah
tatra srir vijayo bhutir dhruva nitir matir mama

(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 18.78)

“O foolish King, you are asking me so many things. How can you again ask me who will be victorious in the battle of Kuruksetra? You must understand that victory will always be wherever Krishna is.”

What can I say more than, “Take shelter of the lotus feet of Lord Sri Krishna!” ⬆︎

Chapter Eleven

Spiritual Revolution

In Srimad Bhagavad-gita Krishna explained the evolution of consciousness. Krishna explained how the conditioned souls can advance from irreligious life into yoga and how their practice of buddhi-yoga can evolve from karma-yoga, jnana-yoga, and dhyana-yoga into bhakti-yoga. In this way we can understand that the gist of all the scriptures is present in Srimad Bhagavad-gita and that everything essential for the spiritual evolution of all conditioned souls is explained there.

The position of Srimad Bhagavad-gita has been explained in poetry form,

sarvopanisado gavo dogdha gopala-nandanah
partho vatsah sudhir bhokta dugdham gitamrtam mahat

(Sri Gita-mahatyma: 6)

“The Gitopanisad, Srimad Bhagavad-gita, which contains the essence of all the Upanisads and Vedas, is just like a cow, and Lord Krishna, who is most famous for His Pastimes as a cowherd boy, is milking this cow. Arjuna is just like a calf, asking question after question to draw out the cow’s milk, and all those who are sudhir, who have real inspiration for Krishna consciousness, drink the cow’s milk, which is the nectar of Srimad Bhagavad-gita.”

This is our conception of Srimad Bhagavad-gita. Bhagavan Sri Krishna mercifully gave His divine glance to everyone through His lecture to Arjuna. He distributed the essence of the Vedas and all the scriptures for the spiritual evolution of everyone.

We have a very nice book made from the lectures of Srila Guru Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj, named Subjective Evolution of Consciousness. Evolution means the gradual improvement of a substance. I consider that the idea of evolution is good; there is no problem with the idea of spiritual evolution. We can always see things moving up, step-by-step, towards the divine form of Reality. And we can see Reality’s divine form also, step-by-step, effulgently evolving. Evolution is standard actually. It is always in front of everyone and it is the law of the spiritual world.

The line of progress for spiritual evolution coming to the conditioned souls from Krishna is known as amnaya. Amnaya means divine knowledge coming down through the Vedic channel, it means the revealed scriptures, which are apauruseya, not made by any mundane man. Amnaya is always fully divine. It descends down from Sri Krishna’s flute-song through one channel, the Vedic channel. Vedavyas caught, organised, and distributed everything coming down through the amnaya-parampara for the spiritual benefit of everyone. Vedavyas divided that knowledge and presented it in the form of the Vedas: the Sama, Yajur, Rg, and Atharva Vedas, the Ayurveda, the Mahabharata, and so on. Krishna enlightens the conditioned souls about spiritual evolution and religious life through amnaya.

Krishna the revolutionary

But when Krishna personally teaches the conditioned souls, He does not present only spiritual evolution. He presents spiritual revolution. Everything Krishna Himself does is always revolutionary. Revolution is the actual subject and factor of Krishna. Why? By Krishna’s will the Vedas, Vedanta, Upanisads, eighteen Puranas, and so on appeared in this world. All of their teachings gradually lead everyone towards worshipping Krishna. Also, Krishna descended in so many different forms—Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Vaman, Rama, and so on—and taught proper Vedic religious behaviour. Krishna Himself, however, always knocks the Vedic channel. He always minimises the teachings of the Vedas.

This is miraculous. I am surprised by this, and not only temporarily. I am permanently surprised by this. I have also read almost all the different kinds of sastra, and I have read them under the guidance of Srila Guru Maharaj. I know the subjects they teach and what subjective evolution is. But Krishna’s dismissal of the Vedic teachings must be surprising to almost everyone. It must be surprising to hear that the final advice of the Vedas is to ignore the general line of progress the Vedas teach!

The revolutionary knowledge that Krishna Himself wants to distribute to the conditioned souls is Vedesu durlabham, “very rare to get in the Vedas.” Sri Brahma-samhita (5.56) says, “Vidantas te santah ksiti-virala-charah katipaye: it is only known to very few sadhus in this world, so few that they can be counted on our fingers.” It is very rare to get!

“I am all-in-all!”

What evidence can there be for the revolutionary idea that the final advice of the Vedas is to abandon them? The primary evidence for this is found in Krishna’s instructions to Uddhava in Srimad Bhagavatam. Krishna first gave a clue about His revolutionary teachings to Arjuna at the end of Srimad Bhagavad-gita with His verse sarva-dharman parityajya Mam ekam saranam vraja. But Srimad Bhagavatam begins from that stage. Srimad Bhagavatam begins from Krishna’s teaching not of a subjective evolution of consciousness but of a subjective revolution of consciousness. In Krishna’s instruction to Uddhava in Srimad Bhagavatam we find Krishna’s revolutionary teaching from the conclusion of Srimad Bhagavad-gita expressed more clearly:

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 akuto-bhayah

(Srimad Bhagavatam: 11.12.14–15)

Krishna’s first condition in His instruction to Uddhava was, “Uddhavotsrjya! Uddhava! Whatever rules and regulations were given by the Vedas, everything that was given in the Vedas for the spiritual evolution and upliftment of the conditioned souls to the transcendental abode, all of that you should avoid! Not only avoid: if it comes to you, throw it away!”

Prabhupad Srila Saraswati Thakur explained the word utsrjya in this way. I heard from Srila Guru Maharaj that Srila Saraswati Thakur used a word in the Oriyan language, phaphadiba, that meant, “Throw it away!”

What is being avoided and thrown away? Krishna says, “Chodanam pratichodanam: the inspiration given in the scriptures for following the perfect evolutionary Vedic line, both the sruti and the smrti, is to be avoided. Pravrttin cha nivrttin cha: leave both your attachment and detachment. If you have attachment to some type of food, leave that type of food. If you have detachment from wealth, leave behind that mentality; don’t care whether wealth comes to you or not. Srotavyam srutam eva cha: leave aside all that you have heard before, srutam, and all that you will hear in the future, srotavyam; all the knowledge you have gathered before and all the knowledge you may collect in the future. Avoid all of it. Leave behind and avoid anything that you have heard or will hear other than the consciousness of eternal service to Me.

“What should you do? What should be your mood? Mam ekam eva saranam Atmanam sarva-dehinam: surrender to Me! Who am I? I am the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the emporium of all rasa, the ecstatic ocean of rasa. All your necessities will be fulfilled when you come to Me, take shelter of Me, and surrender to Me. You will not lose anything by that because I am all-in-all. I live in the heart of everyone. Not one soul can exist without Me.”

dva suparna sayuja sakhaya
samanam vrksam parisasvajate

(Svetasvatara-upanisad: 4.6)

“I live with every jiva-soul like a bird next to them on a tree branch, and I watch all of their activities. Atmanam sarva-dehinam yahi sarvatma-bhavena: surrender to Me! You will be fully occupied by Me. I am so powerful. Sarva-karana-karanam: I can do anything, everything, something, and nothing. All power is within Me. You have nothing to fear.”

In this way Krishna expressed His revolutionary advice: “The laws, rules and regulations, the procedures beneficial in the lives of practitioners given in the Vedas, you can ignore all of them and come exclusively to My channel, that is, surrender to Me and serve.”

Krishna is always fully independent and detached from the general line of the Vedas. He is revolutionary and supreme. Krishna Himself has deeply exposed the position of the exclusively surrendered soul, showing that it is not a factor whether he is externally good or externally bad according to the rules and regulations of the scriptures.

Incorruptible purity

In his Upadesamrta (6), Srila Rupa Goswami gave a standard and sweet explanation of our vision of a surrendered soul:

drstaih svabhava-janitair vapusas cha dosair
na prakrtatvam iha bhakta janasya pasyet
gangambhasam na khalu budbuda-phena-pankair
brahma-dravatvam apagachchhati nira-dharmaih

Srila Rupa Goswami smilingly said, “O boy! Though you are unqualified, don’t be fickle-minded: never hesitate to give honour to the Vaisnava. You must try to understand that the pure nature of the Vaisnava is like the pure nature of the Ganges. Water is everywhere, but Ganges water is Ganges water. Ganges water comes down from Lord Visnu’s lotus feet and is fully transcendental. Ganges water is never polluted by dirty things. Many dirty things may appear in the Ganges but Ganges water is still Ganges water; it never loses its transcendental quality. You must give honour to the Ganges in this way, and you should give honour to the Vaisnava in the same way.

“The Vaisnava is to be considered pure in the way the Ganges is always considered pure. A devotee may fall down, or you may see him fall down, but where he may fall down to, and where he has gone up to, you do not know. You are only seeing him with your vision. Only up to that point are you able to see him. You do not know his actual position. If he has pure devotion, you must not dishonour him, and you must not make offence to him. You should always consider him pure, even if his body is filled with itching boils and diseases, or his behaviour appears improper.”

Radical spiritual ethics

This is Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu’s explanation of how to view a devotee of the Lord. Krishna’s explanation is revolutionary and miraculous. Krishna said,

api chet suduracharo bhajate mam ananya-bhak
sadhur eva sa mantavyah samyag vyavasito hi sah

(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 9.30)

“Through your vision of Vedic knowledge and your understanding of good and bad, if you see an exclusively dedicated devotee of Mine, an ananya-bhak-bhakta, doing something terribly wrong, or you see some very bad quality in him, you must never think that he is not My devotee. You must never think that he is not perfect and that what he does is also not perfect. It is My declaration that anyone who is My surrendered devotee is a sadhu, and what he does is always right because of his exclusive devotional mood.”

This is very difficult to understand. Bad is bad and good is good. We have learned what is good and what is bad in all the scriptures. Durachara means someone whose actions are against the Vedic rules and regulations, and sudurachara means someone whose actions are extremely bad in this respect. How can we digest that someone who does something wrong in this way is actually right and perfect? What is this? Is Krishna saying that, because His devotee has the proper resolve to serve Him, even if His devotee slapped someone, still he has done very well and made no offence? Is Krishna saying that everything His devotee has done is very good? That even if His devotee is doing wrong, it is very good? Yes! Samyag vyavasito hi sah: Krishna is saying that His devotees are ananya-bhak, leading exclusive devotional lives, and that if any disturbance appears within their lives He does not care, and His devotee does not get any reaction for that. Naturally action and reaction are always happening in this world: “To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” But Krishna does not care.

This is still very difficult to understand. Even the twelve Mahajans had trouble with this point and discussed it over and over. The twelve Mahajans could accept this declaration of Krishna faithfully, but when they heard that this was Krishna’s final, conclusive declaration, and considered the meaning of His expression, they were confused about how to harmonise it with their relative vision. After they discussed the verse for some time they decided that if Krishna said His exclusive devotee could do wrong externally but still be rightly situated, then they would have to believe it. But when they read Krishna’s next expression they became even more confused.

ksipram bhavati dharmatma sasvach-chhantim nigachchhati
kaunteya pratijanihi na me bhaktah pranasyati

(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 9.31)

Here Krishna declares, “My exclusively dedicated devotee may do great wrong externally, but what he does is also perfect because he is engaged in remembering and serving Me. Through his surrendered devotional mood he will be purified, and his defects will be dispelled. He will become dharmatma, virtuous. He will become peaceful eternally, and he will not have any more trouble in the future. So declare to everyone that My devotees are never vanquished.” Krishna promises this to His unalloyed devotees and everyone.

Srila Visvanath Chakravarti Thakur also very nicely added in his Sanskrit commentary on Srimad Bhagavad-gita that Krishna meant, “O Arjuna, I sometimes have had to break My promises for the sake of My devotees, so even if I promise to everyone, ‘Na Me bhaktah pranasyati: My devotees are never destroyed’, everyone may still have some doubt about it. So it is My order that you promise this, that you promise that My devotees are never destroyed. I cannot always keep My promises, and you cannot always keep your promises either. But I always keep the promises of My devotees, and everyone knows this. So you promise that My devotees will never be ruined, and I will make sure your promise is fulfilled.” In this way Krishna gave total assurance to everyone that His devotees are never vanquished.

Golden property

Question: I have heard many different explanations of this verse api chet suduracharo. I have heard one interpretation that the wrong behaviour, sudurachara, is only apparent in our vision, and I have heard another interpretation that the devotee’s behaviour is actually wrong. But my question is, in whose estimation is someone an ananya-bhak-bhakta, an exclusively surrendered devotee?

Srila Govinda Maharaj: In the verse api chet suduracharo bhajate Mam ananya-bhak, Krishna indicates that if you see anything bad in the character of His devotees then you should not judge them, insult them, or make any offence to them. You may choose not to associate with them, but you should also overlook their faults. You should never consider that they are actually wrongdoers, sudurachara. Rather, you should try with consciousness to see how their spiritual life is going on and honour them as devotees of the Lord. You must think, “They have the golden property of surrender and devotion in their hearts (ananya-bhak bhakti). They are devotees of Krishna, and they would never do anything wrong willingly. Howsoever they happen to act is surely for the satisfaction of the Lord and must be positive.”

If a piece of gold falls into a dirty place it is still respected as gold. It will not be ignored or dismissed. Similarly, you should never ignore the golden property in the hearts of devotees. You should always consider that the golden property of devotion is within them. Even if their activity does not appear proper you should never ignore the golden property within them. At any moment that gold may be taken out of that dirty place and shine cleanly. You should be very serious and cautious before commenting anything negative about them. For your own safety you should be very careful not to make any offence to them. This is the meaning of sadhur eva sa mantavyah.

Krishna’s next verse, ksipram bhavati dharmatma sasvach-chhantim nigachchhati, also supports this idea. Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur relieved the confusion of the Mahajans by explaining that in this verse Krishna means, “If you consciously consider that their activity is not bad but really is good, that they are fully surrendered to Krishna and what you thought was bad in their character was actually good, then you will become righteous and peaceful, then you will become a great devotee of Krishna.”

In our life we can see everything as our enemy, and we can also see everything as our friend. Our duty is to make friends, not enemies, and if we try heart and soul to do this through this revolutionary adjustment of our consciousness given by Krishna, then we must get a good result, and what looks bad to us now we will see in the future is actually good for us.

Real sin and piety

In this way we can understand the revolutionary teachings of Krishna. He makes the rules. He reveals the Vedic scriptures and evolutionary spiritual teachings, and He also dismisses them. He makes the rules, and He also breaks the rules.

It is very difficult for general people to digest. Many persons are able to understand something about Vedic knowledge, Vedic culture, philosophy, and so on, but they struggle to understand this finest point. The main point of understanding needed to harmonise everything—to properly understand Krishna’s revolutionary teaching—is given by Krishna in the Padma-purana:

man-nimittam krtam papam api dharmaya kalpate
mam anadrtya dharmo ’pi papam syan mat-prabhavatah

(Padma-purana)

Krishna says, “Anything you do for Me, even if it is sinful according to Vedic law, is actually a pious act (dharma), and anything you do that is not for Me, even if it is pious according to Vedic law, is actually a sinful act.”

Krishna’s advice is revolutionary but also simple. It is actually a direct description of the jiva-soul’s position as His eternal servant. Krishna’s teaching is actually an expression of the universal spirituality natural to all souls: anything not done in Krishna consciousness is sinful, and everything done for Krishna is pious. This is the key to harmonising everything and understanding Krishna’s revolutionary teaching at the conclusion of Srimad Bhagavad-gita and throughout Srimad Bhagavatam—Krishna’s subjective revolution of consciousness.

The purifying force of devotion

Srila Guru Maharaj once questioned Srila Saraswati Thakur about what should be done when a gentle devotee does something wrong. Srila Guru Maharaj was highly educated and an authority in material law. He was thinking that a devotee should be punished according to material rules when he breaks the rules or regulations, but Srila Saraswati Thakur did not agree. Srila Saraswati Thakur said, “Your forehead, that is, your future, is born from your conception. Mani-maya-mandira-madhye pasyati pipilika chidram: if you focus on the faults of a devotee then your conception will be like that of an ant. An ant enters a temple decorated with golden jewels and looks only for the holes in the walls. Only when you look for the good qualities in the devotees will your future be exalted. Only then will you proceed properly towards service.”

Srila Saraswati Thakur answered Srila Guru Maharaj in this way but did not fully answer his question. Then one day about six months later in Madras as Srila Saraswati Thakur was reading Srimad Bhagavatam in his room, a verse came before him, and he called for Srila Guru Maharaj, “Here is the answer to your question.” Srila Guru Maharaj had asked Srila Saraswati Thakur his question about the misbehaviour of devotees six months before. When Srila Saraswati Thakur said, “Here is your question’s answer,” Srila Guru Maharaj was surprised and thought, “What is my question?” When Srila Saraswati Thakur handed him the book and Srila Guru Maharaj saw the verse, he immediately remembered and understood which question Srila Saraswati Thakur was answering. That verse was,

sva-pada-mulam bhajatah priyasya
tyaktanya-bhavasya harih paresah
vikarma yach chotpatitam kathanchid
dhunoti sarvam hrdi sannivistah[51]

(Srimad Bhagavatam: 11.5.42)

The meaning is that it is not necessary to apply material law to dedicated devotees of the Lord. It is possible that dedicated devotees may do something wrong; their mundane body and mental position are not always in a liberated state. It is possible that they may sometimes be polluted by the illusory environment. But because they are dedicated, because they are serving the Lord and chanting His Holy Name, the Lord is living within their heart, and the Lord will clean their heart. The Lord will remove their offences by His divine influence. If they are dedicated to Krishna then He will take care of everything. It is not necessary for a dedicated devotee to do any prayaschitta, atonement.

We can also understand that a dedicated devotee will always feel anutap, regret, when they understand that they have done something wrong. They will think, “Why have I done this? It is very bad!” They will scrutinise themselves very seriously in this way, and the fire of their repentance will purify their hearts of pollution. This verse (sva-pada-mulam) is necessary for everyone to discuss and understand. There are very powerful feelings within it, and when everyone will understand it they will be purified very quickly.

Service to the Lord is transcendental, no doubt, but we cannot say when liberation will come in the life of a dedicated soul. It is also necessary for everyone to follow the material and social laws, and maintain themselves in the material world without making any disturbance in society. People are always hating others when they see them improperly following the laws of society, but no solution to that comes through hate. The only solution is dedication and service to the Lord. The Lord and the power of devotion purify the hearts of everyone and remove any and all traces of mundane desire and ego. Nothing external can do that.

Positive vision

Srila Guru Maharaj taught us that whenever we see a bad quality in someone it is a test given to us by Krishna to purify us. Srila Guru Maharaj gave us that vision, and we feel that if everyone will see with that type of vision, then Krishna will be happy, and everyone will be spiritually benefitted. This is so important because we live in an ocean of faults, and we can find someone with faults everywhere. Many of the spiritual practitioners around us are not perfect. We will become hopeless if we do not try to see the good qualities in others and in our environment.

A Western scholar, Katherine Mayo, once came to India to learn about Indian philosophy but after arriving she publicly criticised Indian culture. When this happened Mahatma Gandhi said, “She has not come to appreciate the wealth of India. She has come to inspect India’s drains. She is a drain inspector.” We heard this story from Srila Guru Maharaj.

We should not be drain inspectors. By Krishna’s mercy we should try to see beauty and charm everywhere. Srila Guru Maharaj said, “To err is human and to forgive is divine.” Everyone has imperfections and will sometimes do something wrong. Why should we lose our own devotional mood because of that? Through his devotional mood Srila Guru Maharaj could see goodness everywhere. He would give great respect to all devotees, and also give great respect even to persons who were against Vaisnavism.

Dedicated devotees may do something wrong but we should not act like ants that see only the holes of a golden temple (mani-maya-mandira-madhye pasyati pipilika chidram). We should not be a drain inspector looking for devotees’ faults. We have much more capacity than ants. We should see that all dedicated devotees have golden property within their hearts, and we should consciously try to recognise their good qualities.

The sole necessity of devotion

Persons who have mundane qualifications and persons who have no mundane qualifications appear the same to Krishna. Krishna only wants our eagerness and hankering, our mood of devotion. If we have that, then Krishna will be merciful to us. Krishna is like an exalted sun: His rays can drive away all inauspiciousness from anyone. Someone’s mundane qualifications are not notable for Krishna, and someone’s mundane disqualifications are also not a problem for Krishna. In Srimad Bhagavad-gita Krishna says,

patram puspam phalam toyam yo me bhaktya prayachchhati
tad aham bhakty-upahrtam asnami prayatatmanah

(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 9.26)

“If anyone offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, flower, fruit, or water, I will affectionately accept that offering.”

murkho vadati visnaya dhiro vadati visnave
ubhayos tu samam punyam bhava-grahi janardanah

(Sri Chaitanya-bhagavat: Adi-khanda, 11.108)

Someone who does not know proper Sanskrit grammar may offer food to the Lord saying, “Visnaya namah.” This is a common grammatical mistake. Someone who is expert in grammar will offer food to the Lord saying, “Visnave namah.” This is correct grammar. But if both persons have devotion, then the Lord will accept both of their offerings.

The Lord does not consider grammar or external qualifications; He considers the heart. He sees only someone’s mood of devotion. It is necessary to offer everything to the Lord with devotion, bhaktya prayachchhati. Without devotion nothing is actually satisfying to the Lord because the Lord is bhava-grahi Janardanah, the enjoyer of the devotee’s heart and devotional mood.

Once when I was in Puri Dham during the time of Ratha Yatra the Director General of Police of the state of Orissa came to visit me. He was very learned. His knowledge was like an ocean and he had defeated many sadhus who had come to Puri. He had read all different types of philosophy: the writings of Ramanuja, Sankar Acharya, Buddha, Confucius, Christ, and so on. No one could defeat him in debate. When I spoke with him I was very surprised to hear a very nice verse from him that is dear to all devotees:

vyadhasyacharanam dhruvasya cha vayo vidya gajendrasya ka
kubjayah kim u nama rupam adhikam kim tat sudamno dhanam
vamsah ko vidurasya yadava-pater ugrasya kim paurusam
bhaktya tusyati kevalam na cha gunair bhakti-priyo madhavah

(Padyavali: 8)

This verse explains that Krishna consciousness does not depend upon any external qualifications, and it presents many examples from Srimad Bhagavatam to prove this. A hunter who killed deer in the jungle and did not follow Vedic culture got a chance to worship Narayan, so proper behaviour cannot be the cause of pleasing the Lord. Dhruva received Visnu’s mercy when he was only five years old, so age cannot be the cause of receiving the Lord’s mercy. Gajendra the elephant had no proper Vedic knowledge, but the Lord answered his prayer; so knowledge cannot be the cause of receiving the Lord’s grace. Kubja was not beautiful, but she satisfied the Lord with her devotion. Sudama Vipra had no money, but he satisfied the Lord through his devotion. Through these examples and others, this verse shows that the Lord is satisfied by the mood of devotion within His devotees, not their external qualifications.

When I heard this verse from the policeman I was surprised, “This man is the head of the police department but he is quoting this verse which has a purely devotional theme.” I spoke with him for about half an hour and he was very satisfied. Now by the will of Krishna he is my very good friend and wants to become my disciple.

Swinging on a meat-scale

There is also a story in the Mahabharata I have told many times about a hunter who used a Salagram-sila as a weight for his scale when he sold meat in the market to make his living. Once a brahman came by and saw the Salagram-sila on the meat scale. He chastised the hunter: “O you sinful man! You are using a Salagram-sila as a weight to sell meat. That stone is Lord Narayan Himself; you are making a great offence.”

The hunter was very simple-hearted and believed the brahman that the stone was Narayan Himself. He became afraid and apologised to the brahman: “I did not know this stone was a Salagram-sila. What should I do now?”

The brahman said, “Give me this Salagram-sila; I will make sure that it is properly worshipped.” The hunter gave the brahman the Salagram-sila, and the brahman offered the Salagram-sila tulasi, abhisek, bhoga, arati, and everything. The brahman worshipped the Salagram-sila properly according to all the rules and regulations of the Vedas, but after two or three days the Salagram-sila appeared in a dream to the brahman as Narayan Himself and said, “I was very happy swinging on the scale of that hunter. Every day he gave Me very nice nourishment in that way. You have now disturbed My mind. Please give Me back to that hunter.”

The Lord was not happy to be with someone who was simply following the rules and regulations of the Vedas. What the brahman did was not wrong; it was correct according to the Vedas. And it is the Lord Himself who gave the Vedic scriptures to society. But the Lord actually always wants to be with His exclusive devotees. The Lord considers faith, dedication, and devotion for Him to be supreme.

Krishna’s play and satisfaction

Unalloyed devotional mood, straight devotional spirit, is the real basis of surrender and dedication, not rules and regulations. Unalloyed surrender is Krishna’s real desire for the conditioned souls. Srila Guru Maharaj taught me this; I learned it from him, and I am following it one hundred per cent. I am trying to follow it one hundred per cent. My associates are also proceeding in that way, in the line of pure Krishna consciousness—the search for Sri Krishna Reality the Beautiful. This is the true form of religion.

Krishna is a revolutionary. Krishna makes the rules, and Krishna breaks the rules. Why? For Himself. “Reality is by Itself and for Itself.” Krishna is the Absolute Reality by Himself and for Himself. Everything is really only for His play and satisfaction. The jiva-souls who realise this revolutionary ideal experience the supreme joy of Krishna consciousness. ⬆︎

Chapter Twelve

Surrender

Devotee: I have heard of two different analogies for surrender, marjara-kisora-nyaya, the surrender of the kitten who is carried by his mother, and markata-kisora-nyaya, the surrender of the baby monkey who holds on to his mother. Which example is the proper conclusion in the line of Krishna consciousness?

Srila Govinda Maharaj: Neither of these examples of surrender is perfect. We have seen cats carrying their kittens, but we have also seen monkeys carrying their babies when they are sick. A baby kitten and a baby monkey are not actually surrendering to their mothers; they are simply continuing their lives in a natural way. A baby monkey naturally holds on to his mother, and a mother cat naturally protects her kitten. In these examples there is no consciousness: the baby and mother are simply living in a natural way.

We must surrender to the Lord with consciousness. A mood of surrender is what is actually necessary for us. We must always be consciously dependent on Krishna and fully surrendered to Him. We must always try to satisfy Him with all of our energy. Prabhu’s question actually is, “Who is responsible, the Lord or the jiva-soul?” The full responsibility is ours, but when we try to approach Krishna He will also see us and help us.

Krishna has given us freedom, and we have misused that. We have come into great difficulty and become bound by Maya. It is now necessary for us to stop misusing our freedom and surrender wholeheartedly to Krishna. When Krishna sees that we are fully surrendered to Him He will be eager to take us out of our very low position, bring us to a high position, and give us His service. If we sacrifice our freedom and surrender at His lotus feet, then Krishna will see that and help us.

krsna amaya pale rakhe jana sarva-kala
atma-nivedana-dainye ghuchao janjala

(Sri Prema-vivarta: 7.7)

Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur explained that if we humbly and fully surrender to Krishna with the mood that, “Krishna will always protect me”, then all obstacles and other obligations will be ousted from us by Krishna’s grace. We need this mood of perfect surrender.

The jiva-soul’s duty is to be active in Krishna’s service in a surrendered mood. Here is a perfect example of how Krishna bestows His mercy upon a surrendered soul:

sva-matuh svinna-gatraya visrasta-kabara-srajah
drstva parisramam krsnah krpayasit sva-bandhane

(Srimad Bhagavatam: 10.9.18)

“When Krishna saw His mother was trying so hard to bind Him and becoming exhausted, when He saw that the flowers in her hair were falling down and her whole body was covered with sweat, He became merciful to her and allowed her to bind Him.”

Mother Yasoda tried so hard to bind Krishna with a rope. She tried many times and collected more, and more rope each time, but her rope always ended up two fingers too short and she failed to bind Krishna. Only after she tried so hard and became very tired did Krishna allow her to bind Him.

This is a perfect example. The jiva-souls will try as far as possible by them to satisfy the Lord, and when even with their full eagerness they are not successful, then Krishna will come to help them. Krishna wants to see how much you will give of yourself to Him. He wants to see that you start out with a pure desire to satisfy Him. Then He will respond to you. Depending upon how perfectly you start your approach to Krishna with a pure mood of surrender, He will bestow His mercy upon you. In this way we can understand the process of surrender (saranagati) in the line of Krishna consciousness.

Rocketing to the spiritual world

Devotee: What is the starting point of saranagati?

Srila Govinda Maharaj: Saranagati starts from the point of sraddha (faith). The mood of perfect surrender will come to us through sraddha.

‘sraddha’-sabde—visvasa kahe sudrdha nischaya
krsne bhakti kaile sarva-karma krta haya

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 22.62)

Sraddha means confident, firm faith that everything will be fulfilled, and everything impossible will become possible, by serving Krishna.”

What is what, who is who—everything—is determined by our faith. Faith is the basis of all religions, not only the Vaisnava religion, because faith is the jiva-soul’s true and best property. Faith is always the friend of everyone, and if we have faith in Krishna consciousness, we will be able to adjust everything.

sakala chhadiya bhai sraddha-devira guna gai
yara krpa bhakti dite pare

(Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur)

“Giving up everything, sing the glories of Sraddha Devi [the goddess of faith], by whose mercy we can feel the presence of devotion in our hearts.”

Faith is our main property. We should never lose our faith. Our faith must also grow. It must become stronger and stronger until it reaches an unshakable position. Our faith must be transcendental, sincere, and chaste. You cannot throw a rocket from anywhere; you must have a substantial foundation. When your faith becomes unshakable and you understand the fundamental position of surrender and devotion to Krishna, then you will be worry-free, and saranagati, your mood of surrender, will protect you. You will have an unshakable launching pad, and from there you will be able to throw your rocket across the illusory environment to Goloka Vrndavan.[52] The spiritual world exists entirely within the plane of faith, and anyone whose faith is very strong will get that highest property when his faith takes on a transcendental form and is successfully activated in his heart. Everything will be revealed to him.

Devotion is awakened by devotion

To have one hundred per cent faith in Lord Krishna is not easy. We live in the mundane world and deal with many material things, so our faith is naturally influenced by our impressions of this world.

prakrtibhyah param yach cha tad achintyasya laksanam
(Mahabharata: Bhisma-parva, 5.22)

“Krishna is achintya. He is beyond our mundane experience.” How can we develop faith in Him and His divine service? Krishna’s causeless mercy is always flowing throughout this mundane world, and if any conditioned soul is touched by that merciful wave, then he will receive some nitya-sukrti [spiritual fortune], which will bring him faith.

General pious activities like feeding people can bring good fortune to people, but that is anitya-sukrti [temporary merit]. Nitya-sukrti, eternal fortune, is gained by being connected with the Lord’s affairs, by rendering service to the Lord’s devotees, the Lord’s temples, or anything connected with the Lord.

When a conditioned soul receives the opportunity to serve the Lord in some way and he collects sufficient nitya-sukrti, then sraddha develops in his heart automatically by the mercy of the Lord. As nitya-sukrti develops into sraddha within his heart the conditioned soul can begin to associate with sadhus. Before the conditioned soul can associate with sadhus properly he needs faith in them. This comes to him through nitya-sukrti. Once the conditioned soul has a little faith in sadhus then his faith will become stronger and stronger through the sadhus’ association.

The illusory environment will not be able to attack the conditioned soul in any way if he tries to proceed in his spiritual life faithfully under the guidance of sadhus. Sadhu does not only mean someone wearing saffron cloth. A sadhu may be a grhastha, a brahmachari, or vanaprastha. If anyone is a sincere devotee of Lord Krishna then he must be considered a sadhu.

krsna-bhakta—niskama, ataeva ‘santa’
bhukti-mukti-siddhi-kami—sakali ‘asanta’

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 19.149)

Anyone who serves Radha-Govinda twenty-four hours a day without selfish interest under the guidance of his Guru is a real devotee and real sadhu. His association will always be good and give everyone good nourishment in their spiritual life. In the association of a real sadhu the conditioned soul’s faith and service attitude will increase more and more. This is the path given by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Srimad Bhagavatam and all the scriptures: bhaktya sanjataya bhaktya (SB: 11.3.31), devotion is awakened by devotion.[53]

In exclusive devotional practising life only the process and the mercy of a real practitioner, a sadhu, will give the conditioned souls more and more faith, enthusiasm, and inspiration to serve their Lord. Under the guidance of a proper sadhu the conditioned souls will collect more and more devotional property in their heart, that is, faith and real hankering to serve the Lord, and their spiritual practising life will develop.

When someone has full faith that, “Krishna is the supreme for me. He is my life and soul, and His service is my life’s only goal”, then we can say he is a saranagata, a soul surrendered unto Lord Krishna. This is the natural position and religion of all jiva-souls even though it may be very difficult for conditioned souls to follow.

Indispensable surrender

The conditioned souls suffer so much in Maya’s illusory environment. Through their karma they experience so much sadness, confusion, and unsuccessfulness. But Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has taught that when the conditioned souls become established in Krishna consciousness, when they are established in the transcendental service world of dedication to Lord Krishna through faith, chastity, and sincerity, then they can very quickly cross over the illusory environment. There is no other way to do this than through saranagati, surrender.

The conditioned souls need to change their hearts and dedicate themselves to Lord Krishna. That will give them the super-benefit of their lives. But saranagati is first of all necessary. Without saranagati no one can enter the transcendental service world, no one can offer anything to Lord Krishna or do anything devotional. Because of this Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur, and Srila Guru Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj, have tried to give the conditioned souls inspiration to surrender. This is the primary purpose of their teachings.

When Srila Guru Maharaj left the Gaudiya Mission his first target was to give the conditioned souls knowledge about the proper mood of surrender to the Lord. Srila Guru Maharaj had full scriptural knowledge, and he gave so many supremely beneficial gifts to the conditioned souls, but he especially decided that saranagati is the first and best thing for everyone. He composed his Sri Sri Prapanna-jivanamrtam—Nectar in the Lives of the Surrendered Souls with this in mind: to give the conditioned souls enlightening knowledge about the proper mood of surrender to the Lord.

Pure saranagati

The qualities of saranagati have been identified in the scriptures:

anukulyasya sankalpah pratikulya vivarjanam
raksisyatiti visvaso goptrtve varanam tatha
atma-niksepa karpanye sad-vidha saranagatih[54]

(Sri Satvata-tantra: 73)

Srila Guru Maharaj composed his Prapanna-jivanamrtam according to these procedures for surrender that are given in the scriptures. I have read so many things about these qualities of saranagati from so many places, but what Srila Guru Maharaj has given is supreme. In a verse from his Prapanna-jivanamrtam he has given us a very nice, clear explanation of saranagati that is a perfect jewel you cannot find anywhere else. It is the most essential prescription given anywhere for everyone to enter the transcendental service world. If you can memorise just this one verse and put it in your heart, then you will receive everything ever given in any scripture.

bhagavad-bhaktitah sarvam ity utsrjya vidher api
kainkaryam krsna-padaikasrayatvam saranagatih

(Sri Sri Prapanna-jivanamrtam: 1.35)

Here Srila Guru Maharaj expresses that saranagati means faith that Bhagavad-bhaktitah sarvam, that through devotion to Bhagavan you will get everything. Bhagavan means the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krishna, the Akhila-rasamrta-murti, the emporium of all rasa, who possesses all worshippable qualities. Everything you want and need—rasa, ecstasy, joy, nourishment, and so on—will automatically come to you through His service. Your life will be glorious, successful, and perfect through devotion to Lord Krishna. Not only will you receive everything you need internally, but full facility to serve Krishna will also come to you.

vasudeve bhagavati bhakti-yogah prayojitah
janayaty asu vairagyam jnanam cha yad ahaitukam[55]

(Srimad Bhagavatam: 1.2.7)

Automatically renunciation from this material world will come to you and spiritual knowledge will be revealed in your heart.

bhaktis tvayi sthiratara bhagavan yadi syad
daivena nah phalati divya-kisora-murtih
muktih svayam mukulitanjali sevate ’sman
dharmartha-kama-gatayah samaya-pratiksah

(Sri Krsna-karnamrta: 107)

Moksa, liberation, will come to you with folded palms and ask, “What service shall I do for you?” Dharma, artha, and kama [piety, wealth, and enjoyment] will wait by her side to assist you in your service to the Lord. Through a mood of submissive surrender and devotion to Krishna everything will come to you. The Lord’s divine form and the prapanna-jivanamrtam, the nectar of a life of surrendered service, will appear in your heart. We must understand that devotion to Krishna is all-in-all (Bhagavad-bhaktitah sarvam).

Then Srila Guru Maharaj said ity utsrjya vidher api kainkaryam: even if we cannot follow so many rules and regulations written in the scriptures for the guidance of conditioned souls, even if we cannot follow the standards of vidhi-marg, but we are surrendered to the Lord, then our devotional mood will purchase the Lord and we will get a good result. This is one way of explaining Srila Guru Maharaj’s expression, and it gives us much hope. But ity utsrjya vidher api kainkaryam also means that we must leave everything for Krishna. We must leave all of our mundane activity, no doubt, but to exclusively worship Lord Krishna wholeheartedly we will also have to ignore the general rules and regulations given in the Vedas. We must fully surrender to Krishna: “I will utilise my full energy for Your service.” We must leave the service of all gods, demigods, demigoddesses, and so on. Our service target must be Krishna. When we can finally go beyond all types of formal religion and fully offer ourselves to Krishna then He will give us entrance into exclusive devotional life by giving us inspiration in our hearts.

yada yasyanugrhnati bhagavan atma-bhavitah
sa jahati matim loke vede cha parinisthitam

(Srimad Bhagavatam: 4.29.46)

“When the Lord affectionately bestows His causeless mercy upon His surrendered devotees, they naturally give up all mundane activity and ignore Vedic religious practices to engage in His service.”

bhagavad-bhaktitah sarvam ity utsrjya vidher api
kainkaryam krsna-padaikasrayatvam saranagatih

(Sri Sri Prapanna-jivanamrtam: 1.35)

When a jiva-soul comes to the strong position of taking exclusive, unconditional shelter at the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krishna’s lotus feet with full chastity and sincerity, then he becomes a pure saranagata. This is Srila Guru Maharaj’s explanation. Krsna-padaikasrayatvam: when a jiva-soul accepts Krishna’s lotus feet as his one and only shelter, having faith that everything will be successful and fulfilled by His grace, and abandons the shelter of Vedic religion, demigods, selfish activity, and so on, then he becomes firmly, purely surrendered. We must fully surrender to Lord Krishna and believe it! With that we will get super-benefit in our lives.

“I am Yours”

We can understand the seriousness of a genuine surrendered soul’s mood through the story of Vibhisan in the Ramayana. During the battle between Lord Ramachandra and Ravana, Vibhisan, the brother of Ravana, came to take shelter at Lord Ramachandra’s lotus feet. He prayed to Ramachandra, “I am here to take shelter at Your lotus feet. Please accept me as Your own. I am Yours.” Hanuman and other associates of Ramachandra were very angry when they heard this and heavily chastised Vibhisan. They thought that Vibhisan was a spy coming to harm Lord Ramachandra, and they told Ramachandra, “Don’t give him shelter at Your lotus feet. He cannot be trusted.” Then Ramachandra took a vow in front of everyone. You will find His vow expressed in this verse from Prapanna-jivanamrtam.

sakrd eva prapanno yas tavasmiti cha yachate
abhayam sarvada tasmai dadamy etad vratam mama

(Ramayana: Yuddha-khanda, 18.33)

“If anyone comes to Me and once says, ‘My dear Lord, I am Yours. I am taking shelter at Your lotus feet’, I promise for all time to come that I will never leave him.”

Here Lord Ramachandra removes all possible fear from the hearts of the surrendered souls. He gives them 100 per cent assurance that He will accept them as His own and never abandon them. He gives them the faith that He will forever take their charge. So we can have full faith that if anyone will sincerely take shelter of the Lord, the Lord will never abandon them. Any and all circumstances may come to them, but if they once sincerely surrendered to the Lord then they are permanently under the Lord’s charge. This is a very heavy thing.

Depending on Krishna

Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur has very cleverly explained the faithful confidence of a surrendered soul in one of his songs.

atma-samarpane gela abhimana
nahi karabu nija raksa-vidhana

[“By fully offering myself unto You, my false ego has gone away. I will no longer make any arrangements to protect myself.”

tuya dhana jani’ tuhu rakhabi natha!
palya go-dhana jani kari’ tuya satha

“O Lord! Knowing me to be Your property, You will maintain me and keep me with You as one of Your protected cows.”

charaobi madhava! yamuna-tire
vamsi bajaota dakabi dhire

“O Madhava! You will herd me along the bank of the Yamuna. You will play Your flute and call me gently.”

agha-baka marata raksa vidhana
karabi sada tuhu gokula-kana!

“By killing Aghasura, Bakasura, and so on, You will always make all arrangements for my protection, O Kan of Gokul!

raksa karabi tuhu nischaya jani
pana karabu hama yamuna-pani

“Knowing that You will certainly protect me, I will drink the poisoned water of the Yamuna.”

kaliya-dokha karabi vinasa
sodhabi nadi-jala badaobi asa

“You will absolve Kaliya’s offences, purify the Yamuna’s waters, and thus increase my faith.”

piyata davanala rakhabi moya
‘gopala’ ‘govinda’ nama tava hoya

“By swallowing the forest fire, You will protect me and thus become known as ‘Gopal’ and ‘Govinda’.”

surapati durmati-nasa vichari’
rakhabi varsane giri-vara-dhari!

“Deciding to level the pride of Devaraj Indra, You will protect me from his rains, O Lifter of Giriraj Govardhan!”

chaturanana karaba yava chori
raksa karabi moye gokula-hari!

“When Brahma will abduct me, You will rescue me, O Lord of Gokul!”

bhakati-vinoda tuya gokula-dhana
rakhabi kesava! karata yatana

“Bhakti Vinod is one of Your cows in Gokul. O Kesava! Surely You will carefully protect him.”]

This is the mood of atma-samarpan, fully surrendering oneself to the Lord. This song is found in Saranagati; you must have read it. When I joined the Mission of Srila Guru Maharaj, he gave me a copy of Saranagati and tick-marked thirty-two songs inside. He said, “You must memorise these songs within seven days.” I had some capacity as a kirtan singer, and Srila Guru Maharaj wanted to begin training me according to my qualifications. Somehow I memorised those songs on Srila Guru Maharaj’s order. I still have the book Srila Guru Maharaj gave me in my room.

It is also my request to the devotees that they try to memorise the songs of Saranagati if it is possible for them. There are so many very sweet, sweet songs inside Saranagati which are very nice to chant daily. Saranagati is a small book but all wealth is present within it in a glorious way. Through the songs of Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur we get the gist of all the scriptures. If all the scriptures disappeared from this mundane world but Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur’s songs remained, we would still have everything. We can get everything through his songs.

This song atma-samarpane gela abhimana is not in pure Bengali. It has some Vraja-bhuli in it to convey the mood of Krishna’s surrendered devotees in Vrndavan Dham. Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur expresses that if we are fully surrendered to the lotus feet of Sri Krishna then we have nothing to fear from anywhere. And he said even more than this.

raksa karabi tuhu nischaya jani
pana karabu hama yamuna-pani

(Saranagati: 23.5)

“Krishna, I will even fearlessly drink the poisonous water of the Yamuna because I am sure that You will save my life.”

Krishna: our sole proprietor

It is Krishna Himself who gives and takes our life. No one else can do so. We do not need to be so fearful of our environment and association. How much can we actually protect ourselves? We have seen that Indira Gandhi was shot by her own bodyguard. Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated although he was a very pious man and dear to nearly everyone. The only saviour of anyone’s life is Krishna. If Krishna wants us to be saved, we will be saved, and if Krishna wants us to die, then we will die. There is a saying in Bengali, “Rakhe Krishna mare ke, mare Krishna rakhe ke: when Krishna protects you no one can kill you, but when Krishna wants to kill you no one can protect you.” The mood of the surrendered soul is,

marabi rakhabi yo ichchha tohara
nitya-dasa prati tuya adhikara

(Saranagati: 11.3)

“Krishna, You may kill me or protect me as You wish. You are my Master.”

This kind of submission and dedication is very valuable. Our real safety is found only in surrender and devotion. What Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur has explained is very serious. It is not easy to quickly catch this conception of full dedication to the Lord and full dependence upon His mercy. So we consider some percentage in our devotion. Someone may be 10 per cent devoted, 20 per cent devoted, 50 per cent devoted, or 100 per cent devoted.

The power of ego

The only obstacle to surrender and dedication is ego. If someone has no mundane ego they can easily connect with the transcendental plane and leave behind their mundane attachments. Everything mundane—our body, our possessions, and so on—is part of Maya’s illusory environment. It is temporary and does not belong to us. When our ego is bewildered by the illusory environment, then our proper knowledge and consciousness of Krishna’s eternal service is covered by mundane attachment, and that egotistic attachment creates a great obstruction between us and the Lord.

ahankara-nivrttanam kesavo nahi duragah
ahankara-yutanam hi madhye parvata-rasayah

(Brahma-vaivarta-purana: 3.9.9)

The scriptures explain that mundane ego is like a great mountain that blocks our contact with Krishna and His transcendental abode. But when our ego is disengaged from the mundane then it is very easy for us to contact the transcendental abode and feel the Lord’s guardianship. Tad dure tad v antike (Iu: 5), “The Lord is very far from us if we are not surrendered and dedicated, but the Lord is very near to us if we are surrendered and dedicated.”

Krishna is always with us. He lives in our heart in the form of Paramatma. From within our heart He observes everything we do and all the reactions we create for ourselves. Whenever we consciously surrender to Him and act according to our nature as His eternal servants, He removes all of our karmic reactions, fills our hearts with happiness, joy, and beauty, and gives us entrance into the ecstatic world of Goloka Vrndavan Dham. ⬆︎

Chapter Thirteen

The Transcendental Service World

We must engage all of our senses, our mind, and our full energy in Krishna’s service. But before we can engage in any devotional activity we must first surrender to the Lord; we must first offer ourselves over to the Lord internally. That is called atma-nivedan, self-surrender. This is the first step in saranagati as well as our first necessity in devotional life.

Srila Visvanath Chakravarti Thakur wrote in one of his commentaries on Srimad Bhagavatam: “Adau arpita paschad kriyeta: first surrender, then serve; first offer, then act.” When we surrender to Krishna and think that our whole account is being arranged by Krishna then we can serve Him in all circumstances, and whatever we do will be Krishna’s service. That is the teaching of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Prabhupad Srila Saraswati Thakur. Our Guru Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj, gave us this conception.

Srila Guru Maharaj taught us that everything is made of chetana, consciousness, so everything has a transcendental form.

om ajnana-timirandhasya jnananjana-salakaya
chaksur unmilitam yena tasmai sri-gurave namah

“Gurudev opens our transcendental eyes and gives us transcendental knowledge—transcendental vision—and through that we can see the transcendental form of the environment.”

It is necessary to leave the illusory environment and live in the transcendental environment. When we are connected with transcendental knowledge by the grace of Gurudev then gradually the transcendental plane reveals itself to us and we feel everything to be transcendental. Everything around us in this mundane world is material, but everything material is also an expression of the spiritual plane—movement is a property of consciousness. Both matter and spirit are always in front of us, and we need to avoid material feeling and cultivate spiritual feeling. That is called paramahamsa-dharma.

If a pot has a mixture of milk and water inside it, a hamsa (swan) can drink all the milk within the mixture and leave the water in the pot. Our practising life is like this. In our environment everything is good, and everything is bad; everything is spiritual, and everything is material. We must be conscious about seeing everything in a spiritual way and avoiding materialistic thinking. General people, conditioned by the illusory environment, ignore the presence of the jiva-soul within everything and do not know that the jiva-soul naturally has a service spirit.

The life of liberated souls

In the material world everything is a passing show. There is no eternity or purity within the material environment. The happiness conditioned souls feel in the material environment is not real happiness. Conditioned souls do not actually know what happiness is. What they consider to be happiness is actually only temporary relief from their material difficulties. Between the births and deaths of the conditioned souls so many varieties of suffering come to them. Sometimes conditioned souls become frustrated and want to become liberated from the material atmosphere. Thus they desire to merge into Brahma the way a raindrop merges into the ocean.

muktir hitvanyatha rupam sva-rupena vyavasthitih
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 2.10.6)

But real liberation means leaving material life and living a spiritual service life. What does a liberated soul actually do? He engages his every action in the service of the Lord and feels full satisfaction through the Lord’s service. Liberation means detachment from material thinking, and attachment to the transcendental world through dedicated service to the Lord in a surrendered mood. A liberated soul is directly attracted to Krishna. He understands that his eternal necessity for happiness, love, charm, beauty, and ecstasy will be fulfilled by Krishna’s service.

All the scriptures—Srimad Bhagavatam, Srimad Bhagavad-gita, the Puranas, the Vedas, and so on—have taught us that we can transform the mundane environment into the transcendental environment through the spirit of service and devotion. Krishna Himself said,

sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 18.66)

“Only I can give you everything. Surrender to Me and serve Me according to My directions, and you will be fully satisfied by your service. Tat kurusva Mad-arpanam: before you do anything, first offer it to Me.”

The Lord’s service connects everything with the transcendental plane and gives us the realisation that, “Everything is the property of Lord Krishna. Everything here, there, and everywhere exists for His satisfaction. Even I myself belong to Him and exist to serve Him. Nothing exists for me.” When we live within that consciousness, then we live within the transcendental service world; we live as a liberated soul in Krishna’s transcendental abode.

Partial bodily consciousness

Srila Guru Maharaj always taught us to not take anything for ourselves. He taught us to first offer anything that came to us to Guru, Vaisnava, and the Lord and in that way be free from all illusory matter. This is the life of a devotee. A devotee lives in the nirguna sevamaya-bhumika, the transcendental service world, where everything is for the satisfaction of the Lord and His devotees.

There are many examples of how everything within the material environment can be spiritually transformed when it is utilised for the Lord’s service. The primary example is mahaprasadam, the Lord’s divine remnants. If we first offer everything we need for our life to the Lord then all of our necessities become transcendental. If everything we take in our lives is the remnants of the Lord and His devotees then everything will be beneficial for us materially and spiritually. This type of lifestyle is very sweet and very suitable for our bodily maintenance. When we take the Lord’s remnants we feel connected to the Lord and we feel a satisfaction in our hearts that brings us the mood of eternity and eternal service to the Lord. In our practising life we are somewhat bodily conscious, but not fully bodily conscious. We know that everyone must eat to maintain their body. We know so many people are suffering from diseases, and because of that they have restrictions on their diets, like not taking sweets or not taking fried foods. But if we offer everything we are going to eat to the Lord before we eat it then that foodstuff becomes transcendental.

People must maintain their bodies according to the laws of nature, but as possible by them they will proceed in a spiritual way by considering and feeling that anything they put on their tongue must be mahaprasadam, the Lord’s remnants. If they have that mood and consciousness then everything in their life will be spiritually beneficial for them.

Conquering the world

To honour prasadam, the proper sense, feeling, and consciousness are necessary. The prasadam of Lord Jagannath in Puri Dham is famous all over the world. Every day they cook so much for Lord Jagannath and offer everything to Him in giant pots. If we look at that prasadam it looks just like rice, dal, and vegetables. It appears just like ordinary matter. But through faith and the spirit of devotion we know that when it is offered to Lord Jagannath it becomes transcendental.

Once Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu brought some Jagannath-prasad to Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya to test him, to see if he had more faith in the formal religion of the Vedas than transcendental Krishna consciousness and Krishna-prasad.

aji muni anayase jininu tribhuvana
aji muni karinu vaikuntha arohana
aji mora purna haila sarva abhilasa
sarvabhaumera haila mahaprasade visvasa

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 6.230–231)

When Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu brought him the mahaprasadam and Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya accepted it without any mundane considerations, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, “Today I have conquered the three worlds! Today I have ascended to Vaikuntha! Today all of My desires have been fulfilled! Sarvabhauma has developed faith in mahaprasadam!”

When we take prasadam we are not taking rice, vegetables, water, or anything mundane. We may see prasadam and see that it appears like an ordinary material thing, but within that mahaprasadam is the transcendental mercy of Lord Krishna. If we think we are simply eating while we take prasadam, then we are not properly honouring the prasadam and we are not spiritually qualified. If we think that we are serving the Lord’s divine remnants and that only externally it looks like we are eating, then we actually will be honouring prasadam. When we taste prasadam in this way with full faith, we can very easily control our senses and engage in the service of Guru, Vaisnava, and Bhagavan.

Real transcendence

I once noticed the way a girl in St Petersburg was distributing prasadam. As she put rice, or dal, or sabji on everyone’s plates she recited this verse,

brahmarpanam brahma havir brahmagnau brahmana hutam
brahmaiva tena gantavyam brahma-karma-samadhina

(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 4.24)

“The spoon is Brahma, the offering is Brahma, the fire is Brahma, and the person making the offering is Brahma. One whose consciousness is always absorbed in Brahma surely attains Brahma.”

I think she may have stayed in India for many years because this verse is used as part of the style of serving prasadam in other sampradayas like the Sankar sampradaya. Through realisation we will see that prasadam substantially exists in the very, very finest way on a higher platform of transcendental knowledge than is expressed in that verse. There are many other verses to explain this, but in Srimad Bhagavad-gita Krishna simply says,

yajna-sistasinah santo muchyante sarva-kilbisaih
bhunjate te tv agham papa ye pachanty atma-karanat

(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 3.13)

“One who cooks for the Lord and offers one’s cooking to the Lord is freed from all sin by honouring the remnants of that offering as the Lord’s transcendental mercy (prasadam). One who cooks for oneself and does not honour anything as the Lord’s prasadam eats only sin.”

Through this verse we can understand the fundamental position of the Lord’s prasadam, how it becomes transcendental through a connection with the Lord in the spirit of devotion. This is a higher conception and platform of spiritual life than the idea that everything is transcendental simply because it comes from Brahma or exists within Brahma.

Controlling the senses by Krishna’s mercy

Because it is not so easy to understand the transcendental position of the Lord’s remnants and honour them properly we recite a verse spoken by Narad Rsi whenever we honour prasadam:

mahaprasade govinde nama-brahmani vaisnave
svalpa-punya-vatam rajan visvaso naiva jayate

(Mahabharata)

“Those who do not have sufficient sukrti [spiritual fortune] cannot faithfully honour mahaprasadam, Lord Govinda, the Holy Name, or the Vaisnavas.”

At the time when I joined the Mission of Srila Guru Maharaj, this Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, everyone would chant this verse as well as a poem of Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur before they took prasadam. Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur composed a very simple poem that explains the divine position of prasadam very perfectly. It is very short, but it is an extremely valuable composition for us. It is a Bengali poem, but everyone in the Math would chant it before they took prasadam as though it was a Vedic mantram. Everyone would chant this poem, offer their dandavat pranams to the mahaprasadam, and then eat with the remembrance that they were not actually eating but serving the Lord by honouring His remnants.

sarira avidya jala jadendriya tahe kala
jive phele visaya-sagare
ta’ra madhye jihva ati lobha-maya sudurmati
ta’ke jeta kathina samsare
krsna bada daya-maya karibare jihva jaya
sva-prasada-anna dila bhai
sei annamrta pao radha-krsna guna gao
preme daka chaitanya-nitai[56]

(Gitavali: Prasad-sevaya, 1.1–2)

Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur explains in his poem that everything you eat will be the cause of future bondage in this material world unless you use the energy and nourishment you receive from your food to serve liberated souls and the Lord. Furthermore, if you honour everything you eat as mahaprasadam—the remnants of the Lord, Gurudev, and Vaisnavas—then eating it will not cause any further bondage in this world. Rather, it will increase your devotional mood and the devotional atmosphere of your life.

Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur also mentions in his poem that the tongue is the most difficult sense to control. In Srimad Bhagavatam (11.8.21) Sri Krishna says,

tavaj jitendriyo na syad vijitanyendriyah puman
na jayed rasanam yavaj jitam sarvam jite rase

“Someone may be able to control their senses temporarily, but unless one can control one’s tongue one has not truly conquered one’s senses.”

In this verse from Srimad Bhagavatam Krishna certifies that someone who can control their tongue’s activities, that is, eating and speaking, has truly controlled his senses. Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur wrote in his poem that Krishna is supremely merciful because He gives us the opportunity to control our tongues and transcend the illusory environment through the joyful activity of honouring the Lord’s divine remnants and chanting the Lord’s Holy Names.

Dancing with joy

In Srimad Bhagavatam Uddhava also describes the glorious position of the Lord’s prasadam and how the conditioned souls are supremely benefitted by it:

tvayopabhukta-srag-gandha-vaso ’lankara-charchitah
uchchhista-bhojino dasas tava mayam jayema hi

(Srimad Bhagavatam: 11.6.46)

“Simply by maintaining ourselves with the garlands, fragrances, clothing, ornaments, and foods that have been offered to You [Krishna], we, Your eternal servants, easily cross over Your illusory environment [maya].”

This is Uddhava’s prescription for the conditioned souls to get relief from the illusory environment. Our vision needs to be that anything we use in our life must be the Lord’s remnants. If we honour everything in that way and always remember the glories of the Lord’s remnants then we will be enriched with a devotional mood and proceed happily in our spiritual life. Enjoyment in our spiritual life will always come to us through the Lord’s remnants. Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur also said,

krsnera prasada-anna tri-jagat kare dhanya
tripurari nache yaha pai’

(Gitavali: Prasad-sevaya, 3.3)

“The three worlds are made glorious by Krishna-prasad. Even Lord Siva dances with great joy when he receives Krishna-prasad.”

What should be our mood when we receive prasadam? It is the great joy of our life.

Attachment and detachment

Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur collected many evidential verses from Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Sri Hari-bhakti-vilasa, and other scriptures to establish the transcendental nature of the Lord’s remnants. He also established this transcendental practising process, that is, paramahamsa-dharma, of seeing and relating with everything in a spiritual way through devotion to the Lord. This practising process is very sweet and also a very easy standard of life for practitioners. Srila Saraswati Thakur always published two verses from Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu in his magazine the Gaudiya to give everyone proper consciousness about this transcendental practising process:

anasaktasya visayan yatharham upayunjatah
nirbandhah krsna-sambandhe yuktam vairagyam uchyate
prapanchikataya buddhya hari-sambandhi-vastunah
mumuksubhih parityago vairagyam phalgu kathyate[57]

(Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu: Purva-vibhaga, 2.255–256)

In these verses Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu gives a point of very strong advice: anasaktasya visayan, you must be detached from everything mundane. Material things come naturally in life. We cannot live without some level of material activity. But we must be very conscious about our material connections and not be involved with them. We must not be attached to them. This is Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu’s advice, “Anasaktasya visayan: we must be detached from material things, and yatharham upayunjatah nirbandhah Krsna-sambandhe: in that detached mood we must see everything in relationship to Krishna and use everything for His service.” Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu’s advice means that we must live with everything, but not be attached to it. We must live within the material environment, but while there we must connect everything with Krishna.

The flow of desire

There can be no compromise in this matter; without a detached nature we will not be qualified to properly honour the Lord’s divine remnants and act always for His satisfaction. Sometimes practitioners feel very fearful and hopeless when they confront their material desires and struggle to leave their mundane attachments. But they should not be hopeless or fearful because, as the Lord Himself explains, He helps them with the challenges they face in their devotional life.

jata-sraddho mat-kathasu nirvinnah sarva-karmasu
veda duhkhatmakan kaman parityage ’py anisvarah
tato bhajeta mam pritah sraddhalur drdha-nischayah
jusamanas cha tan kaman duhkhodarkams cha garhayan
proktena bhakti-yogena bhajato masakrn muneh
kama hrdayya nasyanti sarve mayi hrdi sthite

(Srimad Bhagavatam: 11.20.27–29)

“If a devotee is conscious and firm in his faith, if he has no real interest in mundane activity though he may struggle to be detached from it, and if he knows that his material desires are the source of his suffering, then he will get strength from the Lord’s mercy. The Lord will appear in his heart and remove all inauspiciousness from his heart.”

A devotee may feel that he lives within a family and has so many attachments he cannot leave, such as his attachment to his father, mother, brothers, sisters, uncles, and so on. He may ask, “How can I do Hari-bhajan?” The main point mentioned in these verses, which is necessary to understand, is desire—the desire to enjoy. Kama hrdayya nasyanti, the desire to enjoy, is present everywhere. It is within both the material and spiritual planes. Why does creation itself happen at all? Because of desire. Desire is the cause of all creations. But a devotee’s life and desires are completely different from a life of ordinary mundane desires. How are they different? Duhkhodarkams cha garhayan, the devotee desires to satisfy the Lord and repents that he is entangled by mundane desires.

The internal battle

Whenever our internal enemies, our material desires and attachments, show their face to us we hopelessly surrender to them. We are not liberated souls. We are conditioned souls, and we are always attacked by the six enemies living within us: kama, krodha, lobha, mada, moha, and matsarya [lust, anger, greed, madness, illusion, and envy].

kama esa krodha esa rajo-guna-samudbhavah[58]
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 3.37)

In Srimad Bhagavad-gita Krishna explains that these six enemies are produced by raja-guna: the mode of passion. We know that none of the three modes of material nature, which control everything within material existence, is good for us. Sattva-guna [goodness], raja-guna [passion], and tama-guna [ignorance] are all ropes that bind us within material existence and material consciousness. As sadhakas, practitioners, we must be conscious about this in our practice.

When our enemies show themselves to us, our position as conditioned souls may become hopeless, and we may surrender to them. Unfortunately we may be their victim for some time. For some time we may be a servant of kama, a servant of krodha, a servant of lobha, mada, moha, matsarya, and so on. But after that we must set ourselves back within our proper position of engagement in the Lord’s service. This is not easy. We will not get the qualification necessary to do that by attending school or college. Only through the association of pure devotees can we get that type of qualification. To be a pure devotee, as well as find a pure devotee, is not so easy. Difficulty is always around us, but we must tolerate that and try to correct ourselves. That is our situation in our practising life: first tolerating and then trying to correct.

Sometimes devotees fall from their principles. But again they must come back to them, wake up, and continue running. That is the life of a devotee, and that life is very good and hopeful for devotees. Without this everyone will become hopeless.

If we realise the nature of our conditioned position we will see that our weaknesses, that is, our material desires, are stronger than our spiritual desire. We sometimes surrender to our weaknesses. But only if we remain submissive to them forever will we be the loser. It is always necessary to take back our spiritual strength. These verses from Srimad Bhagavatam very nicely explain the procedure for this: faith, humility, tolerance, repentance, and service.

Mercy + service = sense control

Earlier in our life it was not within my realisation but now I am realising this very happy news for us: parityage ’py anisvarah: we cannot leave our internal enemies forever. From time to time our internal enemies will disturb us. Sometimes we will be submerged in them. I can understand now that such immersion is for our purification, and that we will not remain immersed in them forever. This is our position, and all we can do is try to not allow ourselves to always be a servant of our mundane desires while we pray to the Lord for His mercy and try to engage in His service.

Yogis try to control their senses and desires directly by restraining themselves through the process of yama, niyama, asan, pranayam, pratyahara, dharana, dhyan, and samadhi. But Srimad Bhagavatam says,

yamadibhir yoga-pathaih kama-lobha-hato muhuh
mukunda-sevaya yadvat tathatmaddha na samyati

(Srimad Bhagavatam: 1.6.35)

“It may be possible to temporarily control the senses and the effects of kama, lobha, and so on with the power of self-control and the practice of yoga (yama, niyama, and so on), but only the Lord’s service can permanently control the senses and the flow of our desires.”

The devotional path is different than the yoga path. In the devotional path desire, the senses, and their functions are controlled by engaging them in the Lord’s service. In devotional life the senses are automatically controlled through service. It is not necessary to try to control them ourselves directly in a pushing way. Rather, we must try to use the senses and our desires for the Lord’s service and satisfaction.

Offering everything to the Lord

Srila Narottam Thakur has explained how we can properly practise this:

‘kama’ krsna-karmarpane ‘krodha’ bhakta-dvesi jane
‘lobha’ sadhu-sange hari-katha
‘moha’ ista-labha vine ‘mada’ krsna-guna-gane
niyukta kariba yatha tatha

(Prema-bhakti-chandrika: 2.10)

‘Kama’ Krsna-karmarpane: if you have many desires in your mind, then you can offer the things you desire to Krishna before you take them. ‘Krodha’ bhakta-dvesi jane: if you feel angry, then you can use your anger to check persons who are inauspicious and envious of the devotees. ‘Lobha’ sadhu-sange Hari-katha: you can engage your greed in hearing the glories and Pastimes of the Lord from the sadhus. ‘Mada’ Krsna-guna-gane: you can engage your desire for intoxication in madly glorifying the Lord and His devotees. ‘Moha’ ista-labha vine: if you have not connected with your worshippable Master, then you can try to realise why that is and can express your hankering in a bewildered way like Raghunath Das Goswami.

Srila Narottam Thakur advises us how to engage our internal enemies in Krishna’s service. We all have desires that we are suffering from, but if we engage them in the service of Guru, Vaisnava, and Bhagavan with our full energy, then they will be controlled automatically. Everything we struggle with in our life can be good if we use it properly for Krishna’s service. This is our hope. When our enemies—lust, anger, greed, and so on—come to us, we can invite them in: “Come here and pay dandavat pranam to the Deity! You are already coming, so come, and offer yourself to the Deity.” The practising procedure of bhakti-yoga is very sweet, and finally,

bhidyate hrdaya-granthis chhidyante sarva-samsayah
ksiyante chasya karmani mayi drste ’khilatmani

(Srimad Bhagavatam: 11.20.30)

“All of the material desires in our hearts will be removed, all of our doubts will be finished, and we will engage ourselves exclusively in the Lord’s service, seeing Him everywhere.”

Such Bhagavat-darsan, divine vision of the Lord, is both very easy and very rare to attain. Tad dure tad v antike (Iu: 5): “The Lord is very far from us if we are not surrendered or dedicated, but the Lord is very near to us if we are surrendered and dedicated.”

The actual proprietor of everything

Srila Saraswati Thakur understood everything about the position of the conditioned souls. He presented these teachings of Srimad Bhagavatam and Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu in a very condensed form to make the essential nature of transcendental service very clear to us. He wrote,

sri hari-sevaya yaha anukula
visaya baliya tyage haya bhula
‘asakti-rahita’ ‘sambandha-sahita’
visaya-samuha sakali ‘madhava’

“If any apparently material thing or desire can be connected with the Lord through devotion, or is favourable to His service, then it is a mistaken illusion to think it is mundane or useless, and renounce it. We must live without attachment to anything and connect everything to the Lord, feeling that the Lord is the actual proprietor of everything and we are His servitors.”

This is the consciousness needed to live in the transcendental service world. A genuine devotee has no existence where Krishna is not present. A devotee will always be connected with transcendental matters through the Lord’s service and will never be involved in anything material. A devotee may live in the mundane environment, but he will take each step forward in his life thinking, “Just now I may not have full realisation of the transcendental world, but I am a natural member of that world; my real property exists there. I can proceed from a very low position within the illusory environment to a very high position in the transcendental environment by living in remembrance of that plane and my service there.” Through Krishna consciousness we can change material things into spiritual matters and feel the Lord’s presence everywhere within the material world. With Krishna consciousness and the Lord’s divine remnants (prasadam) everyone can cross over the illusory environment.

The purity of our mood

Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu’s advice to be detached from the mundane is very important for us. We must always try to honour the transcendental form of everything—of the Deity, the devotees, the Lord’s prasadam, and so on—in a detached mood. We may lead any lifestyle, we may have a family life, a student life, a master’s life—any sort of life—but we must not be too attached to that. Even if we are a family man, we will have no difficulty with our family maintenance if we think that our family is a spiritual family. If we think in that way no difficulty will come to us. Even if we lose everything materially, still there is no real loss for us because we can always engage ourselves in Krishna’s service, no matter what our material condition is, through proper consciousness. We will think that our children are spiritual children and our flowers are spiritual flowers. Everything that we see we will consider to be Krishna’s mercy coming to us. Srila Guru Maharaj taught us in this way.

We will change our vision and we will serve. Then anything we do will be Krishna’s service, so long as we do not forget that it is for His satisfaction and not our selfish enjoyment. If we proceed in that way then all benefit, and no loss, will come to us. Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur showed us this mood. He prayed to the Lord,

tomara samsare kariba sevana
nahiba phalera bhagi
tava sukha yahe kariba yatana
ha’ye pade anuragi

(Saranagati: 16.3)

“I will live in Your house as a servitor of Your family, and everything I do will be solely for Your satisfaction.”

This is the mood of transcendental service. We must be very careful about maintaining the purity of that mood in our practising life, otherwise we will cheat ourselves.

It is not good to have too much affection for children. When children come into a family, they must be honoured, and the parents must consider that it is the Lord’s will and their good fortune that the children have come. But parents should not maintain their family with mundane attachment; they should not be overly involved in their family life. When we do something emotionally it may sometimes bring us a good result, but mostly it brings us bad results. We have to avoid emotional activity and continue our lives with fully devotional activities.

We must avoid cheating ourselves by carefully keeping our mood pure: “I shall use whatever circumstances I find myself in for the service of Krishna.” If we can properly maintain this mood, then we can maintain our lives in any ashram—brahmachari, grhastha, vanaprastha, or sannyas. If we have a sincere mood of service and dedication, then there is no question about how we maintain our lives. There are many nice examples of this.

The sweet life of a poor brahmachari

atma-nivedana tuya pade kari’
hainu parama sukhi
duhkha dure gela chinta na rahila
chaudike ananda dekhi[59]

(Saranagati: 16.1)

“By surrendering myself at Your lotus feet, I have become supremely joyful. All sadness has gone away and I have no anxiety. I see joy in all directions.”

This song from Saranagati reminds me of my early life as a brahmachari when I took shelter at Srila Guru Maharaj’s lotus feet. How much was I dedicated! I forgot all of my material happiness and sadness—everything. So many things came to me, but I was dedicated to the Lord’s lotus feet and very happy. I didn’t think about my material lifestyle at all. I simply lived happily and easily according to Srila Guru Maharaj’s orders. I did not have a bed. I slept on a straw mat with a straw pillow. Sometimes red ants would bite me. I lived a very simple life and I didn’t think about it much. In the Math we would not buy any vegetables. We would cultivate our own fruits and vegetables in our garden and happily offer the Lord what we grew in our Math. We would not eat anything we did not grow except when we would sometimes buy some potatoes for Srila Guru Maharaj from the market.

We had no heavy problems then. Our only disturbances would come from goats and cows coming inside our garden. Gradually our Math has become prestigious, and more and more facilities have come to us. But my early time in the Math was very tasteful. Now I am not getting that sweet taste of poor brahmachari life. Now more disturbances have begun to come to our Math from the outside, but those are also sweet problems because sacrifice is our lifestyle. One of Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur’s songs in Saranagati explains everything for us very simply and sweetly:

tomara sevaya duhkha haya yata
seo ta’ parama sukha
seva-sukha-duhkha parama sampada
nasaye avidya-duhkha

(Saranagati: 16.4)

“The suffering I feel in my life of service to You is actually my greatest joy. Both the happiness and sadness I feel in Your service are my great fortune because they both remove the pollution of illusion from my heart.”

purva itihasa bhulinu sakala
seva-sukha pe’ye mane
ami ta’ tomara, tumi ta’ amara
ki kaja apara dhane

(Saranagati: 16.5)

“I have forgotten everything in the past now that I feel the great joy of Your service in my heart. I am Yours, and You are mine. You are my Master, and I am Your servant. Nothing comes between us.”

Krishna is my life and soul

There is also a nice story about one of our devotees, a very rich householder devotee, who lost all his wealth, crores of rupees, because of his detached and surrendered mood of devotion to Krishna. During the proceedings of a court case he was involved in he would go every day to worship the Deity of Lord Krishna. Some government men and armed police had to accompany him, and because of this he had to spend thousands of rupees every day to maintain them. He lost maybe two to five thousand rupees every day due to the expenses of the guards. Still he would go daily to worship the Deity.

One day it was raining very heavily, and after travelling with him to the temple in the rain one of the senior policemen asked him, “O Mr Sannyal, every day you come here to worship the Deity of Lord Krishna, but what does Krishna give you? You have lost everything. You have lost nearly all of the nice things in your home, like your very nice carpet worth lakhs of rupees. You have lost your house and nearly all of your wealth. You have lost everything, so why do you worship Krishna? What has Krishna given you?”

Then that man, Mr Sannyal, gave a very nice answer. I have never forgotten it. He said, “I am worshipping Krishna, but I do not ask Krishna to give me anything. Whatever Krishna decides to give me or not give me is His matter. I like Krishna. I have love for Krishna. Krishna is my heart and soul. Because of that I come here every day to serve Krishna. It is Krishna’s matter whether He will give me something or not. I do not ask Krishna for anything.” The policeman was stunned to hear Mr Sannyal’s answer.

I was also very impressed to hear this from him because this is the style of devotion in the line of Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu. The mood and mentality of the devotee is to relate everything with the Lord and His service: “I smile because Krishna likes my smiling face. I dress myself in nice garments because Krishna likes to see them. I sleep so I can engage in Krishna’s service; I sleep because Krishna likes my sleep. I cook because Krishna likes to taste my cooking. Whatever I do, I do for Krishna, not for any other purpose. I like things because Krishna likes them, and if Krishna does not like something, it is not necessary for me to do it. I do not do anything which is not for the satisfaction of Krishna. Without Krishna, I have no existence.”

Transcending the mundane

Sometimes great hope comes to us in our lives, and sometimes hopeless situations come to us, but we do not become frustrated in any way, and we do not leave Krishna consciousness. We only try to engage ourselves in Krishna’s service.

We cannot continue our lives without a roof, some shade, some pure water, some fruits and vegetables, and so on. Prabhupad Srila Saraswati Thakur has taught us how to accept all of these necessities of life with a devotional spirit by first offering them to Lord Krishna and then living on His remnants. Whenever we take anything we must first remember that it is the Lord’s mercy coming to us. Then we can maintain our lives exclusively on His remnants. This is the advice and style of Srila Rupa Goswami, Srila Saraswati Thakur, Srila Swami Maharaj, and my Guru Maharaj. We are all their followers, and through their teachings and this practice we can leave our mundane attachments behind and dedicate ourselves twenty-four hours a day to the Lord and His devotees in the transcendental service world. ⬆︎

Chapter Fourteen

The Transcendental Vibration
Form of the Lord

In Srimad Bhagavad-gita Krishna clearly said,

yat karosi yad asnasi yaj juhosi dadasi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya tat kurusva mad-arpanam

(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 9.27)

“Offer Me anything you do in your life.”

When someone lives in this consciousness, then they live in the transcendental service world. But to offer our actions to the Lord according to our own ideas and desires is not the highest standard of spiritual life. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu dismissed this verse from Srimad Bhagavad-gita in His conversation with Ramananda Ray in Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta because He wanted to establish the mood and ideal of exclusive, pure devotion to Krishna.

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s conception is that if Krishna says to you, “I want a samosa; if you bring Me a samosa, I will be very satisfied”, and you bring Krishna a samosa, then your activity will surely be pleasing to Krishna. This is real Bhagavat-dharma and the standard of devotion established by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Real Bhagavat-dharma means surrendering to Krishna and serving Him according to His will by understanding the desire of Krishna and trying to satisfy Him in that way—making offerings to Krishna according to His desires and not ours.

When Krishna Himself explains how you can satisfy Him and you follow that process, then you are following the best process to serve and satisfy Krishna. It may be difficult for the ego to do this, but it is very simple, and it is certain that Krishna will be satisfied by it.

ye vai bhagavata prokta upaya hy atma-labdhaye
anjah pumsam avidusam viddhi bhagavatan hi tan[60]

(Srimad Bhagavatam: 11.2.34)

Krishna says, “It doesn’t matter if you do not have any knowledge or intelligence or so many qualities and qualifications. If you follow the process that I say will satisfy Me, then I will be very happy with you and I will become your property.”

When Krishna wants to give Himself, He can give Himself to anyone, and what He says is the most satisfying to Him is the supreme way to serve Him. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu established this as a higher, but also simple, standard of devotion for everyone. If we try to follow it in accordance with His desire, we will be supremely benefitted, and gradually all mundane desires will be ousted from our hearts.

The best form of bhakti-yoga

There are nine primary forms of bhakti-yoga. They give us the opportunity to engage our mind, senses, and body—everything—in Krishna’s service.

sravanam kirtanam visnoh smaranam pada-sevanam
archanam vandanam dasyam sakhyam atma-nivedanam

(Srimad Bhagavatam: 7.5.23)

Sravan means hearing Krishna-katha [glorification of Krishna] from a Sadhu, Guru, or Vaisnava. It means hearing about Krishna consciousness and Krishna’s Holy Name. Kirtan means glorifying Krishna, His devotees, and Their divine Pastimes; preaching about Krishna consciousness; and chanting Krishna’s Holy Name. Smaran means remembering the Lord and our spiritual life of service. Pada-sevana means serving the Lord’s lotus feet. Archan means worshipping the Lord’s Deity form. Vandana means praying to the Lord. Dasya means becoming the Lord’s servant. Sakhya means serving the Lord as our best friend. Atma-nivedan means fully surrendering ourself to the Lord. These nine forms of bhakti-yoga are described in the Prahlad-charitra of Srimad Bhagavatam, and through these practices the Lord’s devotees engage in the Lord’s service twenty-four hours a day.

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu commented that among the nine forms of bhakti-yoga, two are the best.

tara madhye sarva-srestha nama-sankirtana
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Antya-lila, 4.71)

“Among all the devotional processes to satisfy the Lord, Nam-sankirtan, that is, sravan and kirtan, hearing and chanting the Lord’s glories and Holy Name, are supreme.”

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s conception is that sravan and kirtan are the vital activities of a spiritual practitioner’s life. You can see the light of this conception everywhere within all religions. There are many different types of religious practices, but it is a practice in all religions to chant the Lord’s Name. For example, in Islam they chant the name ‘Allah’; in Christianity they chant the name ‘God’; and in Buddhism they chant the name ‘Buddha’. All religions have some spiritual connection with the Lord and want to take people to a higher level of consciousness through the Lord’s Name.

The full form of the spiritual world and the jiva-souls’ spiritual destiny have been manifested to some people in a covered way, to some in a slightly open way, and to some in a fully open way. Because of this there are different religions which have different opinions about the nature of our spiritual destination and the path we should follow to reach it. Still, all religions want to take everyone from a material position to a transcendental position. This is the common purpose of all religions. Anyone can see that and also see that all religions use the process of chanting the Lord’s Name. It is not so important whether they connect with the Lord, who is everyone’s eternal Master, by saying, ‘Allah’, or ‘God’, or ‘Son of God’, or ‘Lord Jesus Christ’, or ‘Buddha’, or ‘Brahma’, or ‘Siva’, or any other Name. What is important is that everyone feels, “There is power flowing within the wave of the Lord’s Name.”

Chanting the Lord’s Name means connecting with the Lord’s transcendental vibration form. Through sravan-kirtan, hearing and chanting the Lord’s Name and glories, everyone can easily connect their mood of devotion with the transcendental wave of devotion, the flow of service to the Lord.

In the material world there are always two waves flowing: the waves of kama and prema. They take us either up or down. Whenever we connect with the transcendental wave of prema, we are fully satisfied. Whenever we see people gathered together to hear and chant about the Lord according to the flow of that wave of the transcendental spirit of devotion, then we experience a manifestation of the atmosphere of Vaikuntha, the Lord’s transcendental abode. Bhagavan Sri Krishna Himself even says,

naham tisthami vaikunthe yoginam hrdayena cha
mad-bhaktah yatra gayanti tatra tisthami narada

(Padma-purana: Uttara-khanda, 92.21–22)

“I am not really present in Vaikunthaloka or in the hearts of meditative yogis. I am present where My devotees sing My glories.”

In this way we can understand that the Lord’s desire is that we chant His Holy Name, and that we can serve Him in the way most pleasing to Him by chanting His Holy Names in Hari-nam-sankirtan.

The essential ingredient

We can also understand the supreme position of Hari-nam-sankirtan through Srimad Bhagavatam. Vedavyas composed Srimad Bhagavatam after presenting the Vedas, Vedanta, Upanisads, Puranas, and so on, and in Srimad Bhagavatam he presented his ultimate conclusion. So many scriptures can be found within the Vedic school and culture, and within them so many rsis, munis, and scholars present their research. Vedavyas collected and presented the gist of all of this in his Srimad Bhagavatam. Lastly, he ended Srimad Bhagavatam with his final advice:

nama-sankirtanam yasya sarva-papa-pranasanam
pranamo duhkha-samanas tam namami harim param

(Srimad Bhagavatam’s final verse: 12.13.23)

“Chant the Lord’s Holy Name, trying to satisfy Him and His associates. Try to avoid all connection with material existence as you practise Hari-nam-sankirtan. By doing so you will be freed from all sin and you will reach the supreme goal of your spiritual life: service to your Lord, Sri Krishna, in the transcendental world.” In this way Vedavyas ended Srimad Bhagavatam with his final prescription and conclusion: Hari-nam-sankirtan is best for everyone.

Whenever anyone participates in any religious function it is necessary for them to understand why they are participating in it. Indian religion has its own customs; Muslim religion has its own customs; other Western religions have their own customs. All religious people follow those customs and the rules and regulations they prescribe, and through that everyone gets some auspicious connection in their lives. But what is the fundamental basis of that auspicious connection? It is always connection with the Lord through His Holy Name.

Before any Vedic sacrifice is performed a particular mantram is always recited to invoke auspiciousness.

mangalam bhagavan visnur mangalam madhusudanah
mangalam hrsikeso ’yam mangalayatano harih
visnuchcharana-matrena krsnasya smaranad-dhareh
sarva vighnani nasyanti mangalam syan na samsayah

(Brhad-Visnu-purana)

“The Supreme Lord, who has many Names, like Visnu, Madhusudan, Hrsikes, and Hari, is the abode of all auspiciousness. Simply by remembering Him and chanting His Names all obstacles are destroyed and all auspiciousness manifests. There is no doubt about this.”

This mangalacharanam, invocation of auspiciousness, reveals that everything will be auspicious if it is accompanied by chanting the Lord’s Holy Name. Auspiciousness means connection with the Lord, and that connection, Krishna consciousness, is what produces all actual auspiciousness. This is the fundamental basis of all religion. It is first of all necessary for everyone to understand that all religious functions will be supremely auspicious when they are based on chanting the Lord’s Holy Names.[61] In that way everyone can understand the fundamental basis and purpose of all religious activity: satisfying the Lord.

The Hari-bhakti-vilasa, the topmost guide for all Vaisnava religious functions, says that there is a mantram to invoke auspiciousness not only for beginning, but also for ending all religious sacrifices.

yadasanga kriya karma janata vapy ajanata
purnam bhavatu tat sarvam sri harer nama kirtanat

(Sri Hari-bhakti-vilasa)

This ending mantram says, “Whatever offence I may have made during the performance of this religious sacrifice—knowingly or unknowingly, willingly or unwillingly—will be removed and everything will be fulfilled by performing Hari-nam-sankirtan.”

We know there are so many possible faults, both internal and external, in performing religious sacrifices, and we know it is not possible to perfectly perform any religious function. We know we must make some mistakes and get insufficient results according to our karma. But all deficiency and offence can be removed by Hari-nam-sankirtan. Through humble apology and prayer to the Lord in Nam-sankirtan everything can be set right. Thus Hari-nam-sankirtan is our only actual hope to satisfy the Lord. We must include it in everything we do.

The power of Hari-nam-sankirtan

Hari-nam-sankirtan is so powerful that it can even overcome the extreme influence of the current Age of Kali, the Age of Quarrel. This age is filled with so many bad qualities. There is always a sinful wave blowing throughout the material world in the Age of Kali, and there is almost no real religious practice left in the world because of it. In the Age of Kali three of the four primary religious principles—austerity, cleanliness, and mercy—are broken. Only the principle of truthfulness remains, and the influence of Kali is also trying to break this principle constantly. The jiva-souls must be hopeless and frustrated in this age because they do not have a good opportunity for religious practice.

To give relief to the conditioned souls suffering in the Age of Kali’s disturbing environment, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu mercifully taught everyone how they can connect with the Lord and progress in their spiritual life through the Lord’s Holy Name.

harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha

(Brhan-Naradiya-purana)

Mahaprabhu said, “You need relief from the wave of exploitation in this world, and you need to get back your real consciousness of being an eternal servitor of the Lord. So you must chant your Lord’s Holy Name as your primary duty.” Harer Nama Harer Nama Harer Namaiva kevalam: thrice Mahaprabhu said that in this Age of Kali only by chanting the Lord’s Name can you realise your spiritual position. And thrice Mahaprabhu said, “Kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha: you have no alternative. There is no other way to proceed.”

The basis and significance of Mahaprabhu’s teaching is expressed very clearly in Srimad Bhagavatam:

kaler dosa-nidhe rajann asti hy eko mahan gunah
kirtanad eva krsnasya mukta-bandhah param vrajet

(Srimad Bhagavatam: 12.3.51)

The Age of Kali is filled with so many faults. Dyutam panam striyah suna (SB: 1.17.38): in the Age of Kali gambling, intoxication, illicit sex, animal-killing, and money conquer the entire world. The Age of Kali is like an ocean of faults, an ocean of disturbances, an ocean of challenges to practising spiritual life. Everything in the Age of Kali is covered by Kali’s influence, and no one can cross over that influence. Asti hy eko mahan gunah: yet there is one very good quality, one exception and opportunity found in the Age of Kali that will give everyone the facility to harmonise everything. There is one right within everything wrong there. There is one light that can remove all the darkness there. What is that? Krishna-kirtan.

kirtanad eva krsnasya mukta-bandhah param vrajet

Through chanting Krishna’s Holy Name—connecting ourselves with the Lord’s transcendental vibration form—we will be able to feel that Krishna is living within our hearts. The Lord is present in everyone’s heart, and by chanting His Holy Name that will naturally be revealed to us. When we have a connection with the Lord’s transcendental form through His Holy Name, all inauspiciousness will leave us, and everything will be set right. The reactionary environment and the influence of Kali will leave us. We will get a positive connection with the transcendental world where love and affection, chastity and sincerity, everything beautiful and harmless exist within eternal life and eternal time. There, in the eternal realm where we will live with Krishna, we will have no fear. Our life with Krishna will always be enriched with all beauty, love, and affection. It will be enriched with all good qualities and qualifications. Krishna-kirtan will reveal that Krishna is within our heart. Then mukta-bandha: we will be liberated into pure and perfect, very, very happy life. We will cross the gravitational field of the mortal world and find an undisturbed peaceful life in the plane of dedication. Finally, param vrajet: there, according to our attachment, our transcendental relationship with Krishna, the Akhila-rasamrta-murti, the emporium of all rasa, will be revealed to us.

This is the simple method for spiritual realisation given in Srimad Bhagavatam. It was spread by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Srila Saraswati Thakur, and Srila Guru Maharaj: “Be surrendered to Krishna and chant Krishna’s Name. You will be super-benefitted in your life. When you chant Krishna’s Name without offence, then Krishna’s Name, Form, Qualities, and Pastimes—everything—will be revealed to you.”

This is our Guru-varga’s only preaching to general people. They simply taught people about Krishna’s Name and the mood needed to chant Krishna’s Name properly. They taught that everyone must start their spiritual life by chanting the Hare Krishna mahamantra in a mood of full surrender to the Lord. If anyone can chant the Lord’s Holy Name in pure saranagati then the higher stages of dasya-rasa, sakhya-rasa, vatsalya-rasa, and madhura-rasa will automatically come to them. Before one can chant in a fully surrendered mood the higher stages of rasa wait for one to become qualified, and when one is qualified, one’s divine relationship with the Lord is naturally revealed. That is the actual way souls can realise and pursue their fortune in pure Krishna consciousness.

This one verse, Kaler-dosa-nidhe Rajan, gives us sufficient knowledge to understand Krishna consciousness, but it is necessary to learn it from a proper guardian. Then we will be worry-free and successful. We may live in the polluted atmosphere of Kali-yuga, but we will always be conscious about that environment of misconception and try to connect with the Lord through His Holy Name. The material world is mundane, but Krishna consciousness and Krishna’s Name are chetana, spiritual.

nama chintamanih krsnas chaitanya-rasa-vigrahah
purnah suddho nitya-mukto ’bhinnatvan nama-naminoh

(Padma-purana)

The Lord and His Holy Name are nondifferent. Our connection with Them is always a living matter, never a dead matter, and the result of that connection must come to us. By serving Krishna’s Name we will get direct service to Krishna because Krishna and His Name are nondifferent. Krishna’s Name is like a wish-fulfilling jewel; He can immediately give us anything we desire for His service if we are properly connected with Him. Krishna’s Name, Krishna’s fame, Krishna’s Pastimes—Krishna’s everything—are all transcendental. When we chant even once without offence, “Sri Krishna”, Krishna will reveal Himself to us within that sound; He will reveal His transcendental vibration form.

isvarah paramah krsnah sach-chid-ananda-vigrahah
anadir adir govindah sarva-karana-karanam

(Sri Brahma-samhita: 5.1)

Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and He is eternally manifested as the cowherd boy Govinda. His form, His Name, His fame—everything about Him—are transcendental and can be revealed anywhere and everywhere. As Paramatma, Krishna lives within everyone, within every atom of creation. The conditioned jiva-souls cannot feel that, but when they are liberated they are given that feeling. They feel, “Krishna is with me.” This feeling comes to them through Krishna’s transcendental vibration form, His Holy Name.

Sabda-brahma

Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu has explained that Krishna, the Akhila-rasamrta-murti, the emporium of all rasa, mercifully appears in this world in two ecstatic divine forms to bestow His mercy upon the liberated and conditioned souls.[62] One form is His vachya form: His personal form which His Holy Name indicates. The other form is His vachaka form: the transcendental vibration form of His personal form—His Holy Name.

Krishna’s Holy Name is called Sabda-brahma in the Vedas. Sabda means sound vibration, but here sabda means transcendental vibration, not the vibration we can hear with our ears. Brahma means the Lord’s full, divine, conscious form, with His potency—the Supreme Autocrat who can manifest as He likes any way, anywhere, anytime. Thus Sabda-brahma means the divine vibration form of Bhagavan Sri Krishna, Brahma-svarup, Parabrahma. It means the divine form of Brahma, whose Name, Form, Fame, Associates, Abode, Pastimes, and so on, are transcendental.

Sabda-brahma descends from the Lord’s transcendental abode through the proper channel of Guru-parampara. Everyone in this age who gets a connection with the Lord’s transcendental vibration form, Sabda-brahma, is so fortunate, and when that Name dances in their clean heart, they realise their eternal fortune, and everything mundane leaves them.

It is not actually possible for the conditioned souls to immediately receive the Lord’s Name with a clean heart. When the Holy Name descends into their hearts through Guru-parampara, He appears with His own power and personally cleans everything within their hearts. In that way the jiva-souls gradually become qualified to chant the Name purely. Then they realise the supreme benefit of their spiritual lives.

Empowered to rescue

The Lord’s Holy Name is also described in the scriptures as Taraka-brahma-nam: the divine vibration form of the Lord, full with His power and mercy, which can rescue the conditioned souls from the lowest level of material existence and reveal the transcendental service world in their hearts. Through His Taraka-brahma-nam the Lord gives the conditioned souls entrance into His service in different loving relationships, which are always full of transcendental joy, beauty, and charm. The waves of kama and prema are always flowing in this material world; the Lord’s Taraka-brahma-nam is the primary way the jiva-souls can connect with the wave of prema and leave the influence of the illusory environment.

In the mundane world there are four ages, which pass in a cyclic way like the seasons. They are known as the Ages of Satya, Treta, Dvapar, and Kali. Each age has particular qualities, and there is a special arrangement within each age to connect with the wave of prema through the Lord’s Taraka-brahma-nam. The Lord’s Taraka-brahma-nam is always complete with His potency, but there are different processes and formulations for chanting the Taraka-brahma-nam in the different ages. The Vedas prescribe for each age a mahamantra, a supreme mantram, of the Lord’s Holy Names, that is best for that time and environment.

narayana-para veda narayana-paraksarah
narayana-para muktir narayana-para gatih

(Satya-yuga mahamantra)

rama narayanananta mukunda madhusudana
krsna kesava kamsare hare vaikuntha vamana

(Treta-yuga mahamantra)

hare murare madhu-kaitabhare
gopala govinda mukunda saure
yajnesa narayana krsna visno
virasrayam mam jagadisa raksa

(Dvapar-yuga mahamantra)

hare krsna hare krsna krsna krsna hare hare
hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare

(Kali-yuga mahamantra)

During each age everyone chants and meditates on these mahamantras. Through them souls are liberated and enter into the transcendental service world. Whenever fortunate souls properly chant a mahamantra they can proceed happily to their spiritual destination.

The Hare Krishna mahamantra

In the Age of Kali the transcendental vibration form of the Lord, the Lord’s Taraka-brahma-nam, appears as the Hare Krishna mahamantra. Though the other mahamantras are prescribed for the other ages, the Hare Krishna mahamantra is actually the supreme mantram for all the ages. Of all mantrams, the Hare Krishna mahamantra is the best, as it is both the highest and most powerful. Only in the Hare Krishna mahamantra do we find Lord Sri Krishna with Srimati Radharani, the Powerful with His ecstatic Power. So only through the Hare Krishna mahamantra are we directly connected with full-fledged theism: the sonhood of Godhead and paramour love for the Lord. In this way we can understand the supreme position of the Hare Krishna mahamantra. Also, the Hare Krishna mahamantra is most powerful because only in the Hare Krishna mahamantra is there the full expression of self-surrender and the mood of calling to Radha-Krishna to appear within our hearts and fulfil our heart’s necessity for Their service. One of Radharani’s Names is Hara, and when Hara is called, it is expressed as Hare. Krishna within the mahamantra is also a vocative expression of Krishna’s Name. So chanting Hare Krishna actually means calling Radha-Krishna and praying for Their mercy.

In this way we can understand that through the Hare Krishna mahamantra we can best fulfil our life’s goal of connecting with the transcendental wave of prema. Thus we are so hopeful that our lives and all of our activities will be successful by chanting the Hare Krishna mahamantra.

The gift of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

The supreme gift of the Hare Krishna mahamantra has come to us by the grace of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the divine form of Radha-Krishna combined, who appeared in Nabadwip Dham to distribute this process of chanting His Holy Name. He is the worshippable Deity for the Age of Kali, and because He is the giver of the supreme gift—the Hare Krishna mahamantra—He is Parama-karuna, the most merciful Lord.

satyam kali-yuga vipra sri harer nama mangalam
param svastyayanam nrnam nasty eva gatir anyatha

(Padma-purana)

harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha

(Brhan-Naradiya-purana)

Mahaprabhu taught everyone: “In the Age of Kali all auspiciousness can be found only in the chanting of the Lord’s Holy Name. Hari-nam-sankirtan is the only way to attain the highest auspiciousness.”

In this age it is not necessary to read a Ganges full of scriptures. It is only necessary to chant the Lord’s Divine Name. Chanting the Holy Name is most appropriate for the conditioned souls in the Age of Kali. Especially during this age the mundane world is full of sorrow, and happiness only comes to the conditioned souls through chanting the Lord’s Holy Name. The Lord descends from Goloka Vrndavan—where His divine play is always flowing with all varieties of charming qualities—in the form of the Hare Krishna mahamantra in the Age of Kali to connect everyone with His beauty and ecstasy. There is no alternative actually to trying to chant the Hare Krishna mahamantra without offence, to happily trying to chant with faith, love, and affection. Harer Namaiva kevalam: it is necessary to always chant the Holy Name and to not do anything without chanting. Chanting the Lord’s Holy Name is the goal of life, and the soul is supremely benefitted by it.

Focus on the Name

Our only necessity is to connect with the wave of devotion descending from the transcendental world through the Lord’s Holy Name and offer ourselves for its purpose. By chanting the Lord’s Holy Name His transcendental form will be revealed in our hearts. The Lord’s Name will firmly connect us with the Lord’s sach-chid-ananda-vigraha: His eternal, fully conscious, ecstatic form, which is seen and served by great souls like Brahma, Narad, and Vedavyas. Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu has prayed,

nikhila-sruti-mauli-ratna-mala-
dyuti-nirajita-pada-pankajanta
ayi mukta-kulair upasyamanam
paritas tvam hari-nama samsrayami

(Sri Namastakam: 1)

“O divine form of the Holy Name! Your lotus feet are worshipped by the Vedas, Vedanta, Upanisads, Puranas, Srimad Bhagavatam, Srimad Bhagavad-gita, and all the other scriptures. All these scriptures, along with all the liberated souls, offer arati to Your lotus feet. Please be merciful and give me Your divine service. I fully surrender at Your lotus feet.”

Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu glorified the Holy Name in this way, and there are so many more verses in the scriptures about the Lord’s Name.[63] Nothing, anywhere, compares with the position and power of the Holy Name. By chanting the Lord’s Name our mood of devotion will increase, the illusory environment will leave us, and our feelings of transcendental ecstasy, charm, beauty, and love in our relationship with the Lord will increase in our heart. With those feelings we will be unable to leave the association of the Lord’s Holy Name and service.

Attracting the Absolute Autocrat

Question: Maharaj, why do many devotees recommend that we should concentrate on the sound vibration of the Holy Name when chanting? To me that seems to be like impersonal meditation. I feel that a mood of prayer must be present in our chanting. Why is focus on the Holy Name’s sound vibration recommended?

Srila Govinda Maharaj: Mental concentration is one kind of yoga practice. Through such yoga practice we can acquire some supernatural power (siddhi), but we cannot force the Holy Name to appear from the transcendental world in our hearts. The practice of mental concentration alone will not be fruitful for us.

The Lord and His Holy Name are fully autocratic. In the first verse of Srimad Bhagavatam it is expressed, “Arthesv Abhijnah Svarat tene Brahma hrda ya adi-kavaye muhyanti yat surayah: the Lord is an all-knowing Autocrat and everything depends entirely upon His will. He can appear in anyone’s heart, and He can also bewilder anyone.” Only a mood of surrendered devotion and dedication is truly helpful in chanting the Lord’s Holy Name. We can only try to attract His grace. We cannot force the Lord to appear.

Praying for a drop of mercy

There is a bird known as the chatak that drinks only water that falls from the clouds. The chatak bird does not drink water from any pond or river. It doesn’t drink from anywhere on the earth. He depends only on rainwater that he catches as it falls from the clouds. When rain clouds appear in the sky the chatak bird loudly sings their praises, and when raindrops begin to fall, he runs this way and that way to catch them. The chatak bird is satisfied with the raindrops he catches, and he never accepts any water from anywhere else.

When a rain cloud appears in the sky, rain is not the only possible outcome. A rain cloud may produce a thunderbolt that can easily destroy a small bird. Still the chatak bird runs around in the middle of a storm catching raindrops and does not care about the danger. His mood is that the clouds are his only shelter and source of life, and he will never consider anything otherwise.

Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu used the chatak bird as an analogy for the way we should pray to the Lord as we chant His Holy Name. His expression is very beautiful,

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)

“O my Lord Krishna! I need a drop of mercy from You. Please bestow that upon me. I am waiting for Your mercy like a chatak bird who waits for drops of water to fall from the clouds. You can give me one drop of Your mercy or You can choose not to. That depends on Your desire, but I will not accept anything from anywhere else. If You want to punish me like a cloud which may cast thunderbolts at a chatak bird, I can tolerate that. Still I will not go anywhere else; I desire only Your mercy.

Virachaya mayi dandam Dina-bandhu! dayam va: You may bestow Your mercy upon me or You may punish me. O Lord! I know that I am very poor and that I have no actual devotional property. You may send me a thunderbolt or a drop of water. It is Your decision. Regardless of Your choice, I will always chant Your glories and remain surrendered to Your lotus feet. I will never take anything from the ground: whatever grace I receive from You I will consider to be sufficient for me.”

This type of exclusive devotional mood in chanting the Lord’s Holy Name is necessary for everyone. It will super-benefit the conditioned souls, and liberated souls are always relishing that mood.

Finalising our relationship

In this way Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu shows us how to pray with an attentive and exclusive mood of devotion. It is necessary to chant the Lord’s Holy Name with this mood in order to draw the grace of the Lord to us. We must consider that whatever we need will come to us through our prayer and the Lord’s grace, and that through this mood of prayer the Lord will be inspired to bestow His mercy upon us.

When we chant the Lord’s Holy Name it is not necessary to think or focus on anything. We only need to chant in a prayerful mood of surrender, considering, “I am Yours, and You are mine.” Through this mood our relationship with the Lord will be finalised. At first it will not become final, but by chanting, chanting, and chanting, slowly the Source of our chanting, the Lord, will fully acquire our mind. Then sarvah sukhamaya disah (SB: 11.14.14), we will see joy in all directions.[64] The Lord’s Holy Name will enter our heart and give us full nourishment: supreme kalyan, mangal, benefit, auspiciousness, and so on.

Appealing in the court of mercy

When devotees try to chant the Lord’s Holy Names they may feel, “I cannot attentively chant the Lord’s Holy Name. I do not have a pure mood of surrender and devotion. So who am I? What qualification do I have? Krishna is so great; why would Krishna bestow His merciful glance upon me?” Through this realisation and mood of self-examination the devotee will eventually conclude to pray: “The only hope I have is that I may receive Krishna’s ‘causeless’ mercy. If His causeless mercy suddenly comes to me, I will consider that my greatest good fortune and I will get everything through that.”

If we bring ourselves before the Lord in the court of justice, we have no hope. But if we bring ourselves before the Lord in the court of mercy, we have so much hope. Srila Rupa Goswami and Srila Sanatan Goswami have expressed,

apane ayogya dekhi’ mane pan ksobha
tathapi tomara gune upajaya lobha

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 1.204)

“We are sure that we are unqualified and insignificant. There is no doubt about this. We are fallen souls with many disqualifications. But we are also sure that Krishna is very merciful and highly qualified. There is also no doubt about that.”

When we hear these types of prayers and promises in the scriptures we become fully enthusiastic. Krishna’s mercy is infinite and can easily take us into the transcendental abode of His service. Krishna’s nature is to attract the jiva-souls and reveal His ecstasy—Krishna-prema—in their hearts. Krishna is so merciful and can do everything, so we can always be hopeful. Devotees who are very attached to Mahaprabhu’s teachings will try to chant the Lord’s Holy Name with this exclusive mood.

We have no other way but to chant the Lord’s Holy Name in humble surrender. Devotees may sometimes count while they chant, and they may sometimes chant without counting. They may sometimes chant quietly and sometimes chant loudly. In all circumstances, they chant with a mood of prayer, “Whether or not the Lord will see me or bestow His mercy upon me is His personal matter. I must simply chant His Holy Name and have faith that one day I may receive His causeless mercy.”

Hope for the hopeless

There is another expression of the devotees’ mood:

parama-karuniko na bhavat-parah
parama-sochyatamo na cha mat-parah
iti vichintya hare mayi pamare
yad uchitam yadu-natha tad achara

(Padyavali: Bhaktanam-mahatmyam, 66)

“O Krishna, I do not know my position, but You know who I am. I am feeling I am in an insignificant, unqualified, ignorant, lamentable, and sad position. I have no quality or qualification, and I feel I cannot actually do anything. Your position is Supreme. You are the supremely merciful rescuer of the fallen souls. You have promised that You will give special attention to the ignorant fallen souls who are in need, and rescue those who take shelter at Your lotus feet. I do not know if I can take full shelter of You or not, but I am offering myself to You with my all and everything. You can see me present before You, so please give me Your merciful glance.

“You are the supreme rescuer of the fallen souls, Patita Pavan, and I am a super-conditioned soul (patita), so please do the needful. I will not tell You what to do. You can see everything perfectly. I only pray that You do what is necessary for me. I do not see any soul who is more fallen than myself; You bestow Your mercy upon the most fallen souls first, so I am very hopeful You will do the needful and rescue me.”

There are so many songs and expressions of prayer to the Lord which explain our position and the Lord’s position. We can see that everywhere the jiva-souls are in both a hopeless position and a hopeful position. Alone they must be hopeless, but in connection with the Lord they must be hopeful. So lastly, through the Lord’s grace, the jiva-souls can always be hopeful, and that is the mood of a devotee.

Arising from within the heart

Devotee: In the scriptures it says that we need to chant the Holy Name constantly to remove our offences against the Holy Name. I have also heard that we should chant only a small number of times with full concentration. Can you explain something about the importance of quality and quantity in chanting?

Srila Govinda Maharaj: It is not hard to understand the difference between quality and quantity in chanting the Holy Name. We need to satisfy Krishna and His nondifferent form of the Holy Name. Chanting in a way that is satisfying to the Holy Name is quality chanting. That will draw down the revelation of the pure Holy Name in our hearts. When the Lord’s Name is pleased with us, He will appear in His transcendental vibration form on our tongue.

We cannot see Krishna’s divine form, and we cannot hear Krishna’s Holy Name. What comes from our tongue when we chant is not transcendental because our tongue is not transcendental. But our tongue can attain a transcendental form when the Lord’s Divine Name appears there. Quality chanting means making our tongue transcendental by attracting the Divine Name, the Lord’s transcendental vibration form, to appear there.

The Lord made the special sanction in the Age of Kali, “I shall manifest in My transcendental vibration form in the heart of a surrendered soul who has purified consciousness.” Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur explained,

hrdaya haite bale jihvara agrete chale
sabda-rupe nache anuksana

(Saranagati: Sri Nama-mahatmya, 2)

“Hari-nam Himself will forcibly move from within the clean heart of a devotee to the tip of his tongue and dance there in the form of sound vibration.”

The Holy Name needs a proper place to reveal Himself. Without the atmosphere of a clean heart, a surrendered mood of prayer and devotion, the divine vibration of the Holy Name will not be attracted to manifest Himself. But someday, like lightning, the Name may appear in our heart and dance on our tongue. That will happen one day if we continue our meditation on the Holy Name. But it is not our meditation actually; it is our chanting service. Through our service mood the Holy Name will appear in our heart.

Sometimes the Name first comes to us in a mixed way. He may not first reveal His fully transcendental form. First He may come and go, come and go, come and go. But finally He will stay within us. Eventually that will happen if our mood is always directed towards the service of Krishna and our Gurudev. With that mood both what is known to you and what is unknown to you will appear in your heart, and with that revelation you will understand what is light and what is darkness.

Everything depends upon our mood of chanting and mood of service. It is very good if you will think, “It is my service to chant. I know neither why I am chanting, nor what I should think, and it is not necessary for me to know.”

Transforming the mind’s nature

For the transformation of the mind’s nature (cheto-darpana-marjanam) it is necessary to remember the Lord constantly. Whoever is able to do this will experience a transformation. We have time, all twenty-four hours of the day, to chant the Lord’s Holy Name. Chanting a minimum of four rounds or sixteen rounds in a day is for practice. Our Guru Maharaj did not say we should chant for only four rounds once during the day. Rather, he taught us that we should chant all throughout the day. With beads or without beads, the feeling should always come to us, “Now I shall chant the Lord’s Holy Name.”

We can even remember the Lord when we are sleeping. When a great difficulty comes before us in our life, we may have a dream about it at night. Similarly, if we are always trying to remember Krishna, we will also see some form of Krishna in our dreams. That is our mind’s nature.

In the Age of Kali it is only necessary to chant the Lord’s Holy Name without offence. The first directive is, “Chant Hare Krishna!” Later, chanting without offence will come to us. If people think that chanting “Hare Krishna” is for their own benefit, then they will accept the process. But later when they find that they are not getting the full result of chanting and they think about why they are not getting the full result, they will search for the fault in their chanting. They will search through the ten offences to the Holy Name to find their fault and then try to leave that offence. They will see they have to chant for Krishna’s satisfaction, not for their own satisfaction. They will see through personal reflection that they are chanting for themselves, and then they will try to correct their fault and chant for Krishna’s satisfaction.

Still, no one should stop their chanting when they see there is some fault in it. Rather, they should continue to constantly remember the Lord and chant His Name. The Lord will reveal Himself to us when He is pleased with our service mood, which we can express by chanting constantly.

We can serve the Lord physically, verbally, and mentally. We should never stop our service mentally, but we should also serve the Lord with our body. Engaging the body in service does not only mean missionary service; we must change everything we do everywhere into service. That is service-life, and in that way we should try to chant Hare Krishna constantly.

Mundane difficulties will come to us through our karma, but a devotee does not want to engage Krishna in taking care of them. We will not ask Krishna to clean our courtyard. It is the nature of a devotee to always want to do something for others, especially Krishna. This mood of quality chanting, of service, is necessary first, but we should not leave quantity in our chanting either. What is actually important and necessary is quality, but as much as possible we should also try to chant in quantity. If we leave quantity in our chanting, quality will not come. Chanting in quantity in a regular way is good. Because our mind does not want to chant regularly, we need to practise.

The mood of a devotee is to constantly chant his Lord’s Name. You will see an example of this in the cleaning of the Gundicha Temple. In Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta it is described that everyone chants, “Krishna, Krishna” while they are working with their hands. If someone needs a water bucket, he asks for it by chanting, “Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Krishna”. Then another devotee gives him a bucket of water while chanting, “Krishna, Krishna”, and the devotee then throws that bucket of water while chanting, “Krishna, Krishna”.

The devotees will perform so many activities in their lives, but while they are doing their work they will always try to chant Krishna’s Name. Then, through their habit of chanting, their mood and mind will transform.

When that habit of remembering the Lord comes to us, we will not be able to leave it. We have many habits that we cannot leave. Someone may have an intoxication habit. Someone may have an eating habit. Many persons have so many habits, but if we make our habit only to chant, then we will always chant “Hare Krishna” within our mind. It is not necessary to show our remembrance and chanting to others though. It is only necessary to chant the Holy Name with quality, that is, a mood of trying to satisfy the Lord.

The essence of all advice

yena tena prakarena manah krsne nivesayet
sarve vidhi-nisedhah syur etayor eva kinkarah

(Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu: Purva-vibhaga, 2.4)

“Somehow or other engage the mind in Krishna’s service. This is the only directive of all the scriptures.”

smartavyah satatam visnur vismartavyo na jatuchit
sarve vidhi-nisedhah syur etayor eva kinkarah

(Padma-purana)

“The only prohibition is to never forget Krishna, and the only injunction is to always remember Krishna. Only these two things are necessary. All the rules and regulations in all the scriptures are actually servants of that purpose: satisfying Krishna by always remembering Him and never forgetting Him.” This is the gist of all the Vedic scriptures’ advice.

You can live anywhere in any position. It is not a question of your situation or lifestyle. It is only necessary that you remember Krishna and try to serve Krishna. Then the whole illusory environment will leave you, and you will immediately be promoted to life in the transcendental service world where you can satisfy Krishna according to His desires. That transcendental service world is not existing in the sky or anywhere ‘above us’; it is existing within us. Our own internal environment must change. When there are changes of office within a government, all the office work and general activities continue. It is only the government officers and maybe some of the government’s rules that change. The soul’s transformation towards Krishna consciousness is like that. ⬆︎

Chapter Fifteen

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s
Mood of Devotion

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu gave the process of chanting the Lord’s Holy Names to everyone in the Age of Kali. Chanting the Lord’s Name was started by many different religious experts long before Mahaprabhu’s appearance. We can see that chanting the Lord’s Holy Name is given in the Vedas and side by side in all religions. We can firmly say that the practice of chanting the Lord’s Name is the religion of all jiva-souls. All holy books confirm this, though there are different Names of the Lord chanted within different religions. I am very satisfied to see that all the religious leaders and Avatars of the Lord have given this one direction: “Chant the Lord’s Holy Name.”

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has clearly given the very gist of religious life to everyone through His teaching of the practice of chanting the Lord’s Holy Names. Mahaprabhu has also shown everyone the proper mood necessary to perfect the practice. He has cautioned everyone that without the proper consciousness and mood the power flowing within the wave of the Lord’s Holy Name will not be felt in the heart, and the full form of the Holy Name’s transcendental existence will not be realised.

Cleaning the mirror of the mind

In His Siksastakam Mahaprabhu Sri Chaitanyadev explained the conception and mood needed to purely chant the Lord’s Holy Name. In His first verse He glorified Hari-nam-sankirtan and explained the effects of its power:

cheto-darpana-marjanam bhava-maha-davagni-nirvapanam
sreyah-kairava-chandrika-vitaranam vidya-vadhu-jivanam
anandambudhi-vardhanam prati-padam purnamrtasvadanam
sarvatma-snapanam param vijayate sri-krsna-sankirtanam

Here Mahaprabhu explains very cleanly and clearly that the first necessity for everyone is cheto-darpana-marjanam: cleaning the mirror of the mind. When we look into a dirty mirror we cannot see our figure, but when it is cleaned we can see ourselves clearly. When the jiva-soul is conditioned by the illusory environment, he forgets himself and his transcendental form as an eternal servitor of Lord Krishna. The dust of illusion covers the mirror of the jiva-soul’s mind and stops him from seeing clearly. Mahaprabhu teaches that the first step in spiritual life is to realise our true nature. When all the dust of illusion is removed through the practice of Hari-nam-sankirtan and the mirror of our mind is clean, we can clearly see our self and our proper existence. That is called atma-saksatkar: self-realisation. When that comes to us we will see that we are eternal jiva-souls and that Krishna is always living with us. We will see that we are members of the transcendental service world. Mahaprabhu says that by chanting the Holy Name we will get relief from the illusory environment, everything will be revealed to us, and we will realise our self’s natural property: full connection with the ocean of nectar that is the Lord’s eternal service.

This is a very clean conception and the gist of religious advice: “Param vijayate Sri Krsna-sankirtanam: Hari-nam-sankirtan is the supreme practice and will be glorious everywhere. If we can practise Hari-nam-sankirtan under the guidance of a real Vaisnava, it will be the best path and opportunity to reach our spiritual destiny. Through Krishna-sankirtan we will get everything, so chant the Lord’s Holy Names and clean your heart.”

The Lord’s infinite Names

In His second verse Mahaprabhu said,

namnam akari bahudha nija-sarva-saktis
tatrarpita niyamitah smarane na kalah
etadrsi tava krpa bhagavan mamapi
durdaivam idrsam ihajani nanuragah

Here Mahaprabhu taught us, “All of the Lord’s power is present in His Divine Name (nija-sarva-saktis tatrarpita). The Lord has manifested Himself for the benefit of the conditioned souls in the form of His Holy Name (Namnam akari) and given the conditioned souls a connection with Himself through His Name. Bahudha: the Lord has so many Names, and all of Them are empowered.”

When Mahaprabhu began His sankirtan movement with His students, He did not use the Hare Krishna mahamantra. He first instructed His students to chant:

‘haraye namah, krsna yadavaya namah
gopala govinda rama sri-madhusudana’[65]

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Adi-lila, 17.122)

For primary practitioners He taught that anyone can chant any Name of the Lord if they have honour, respect, and good feelings for that Name. Mahaprabhu Himself used to chant many different mantrams of the Lord’s Names.

krsna krsna krsna krsna krsna krsna krsna he!
rama rama rama rama rama rama rama he!
krsna kesava krsna kesava krsna kesava raksa mam!
rama raghava rama raghava rama raghava pahi mam!

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 7.96)

The Hare Krishna mahamantra is the supreme mantram, no doubt. It has the highest and most exclusive position, and is best for the Age of Kali. Mahaprabhu specially distributed the Hare Krishna mahamantra to the world and wanted everyone to chant in that way. But He also taught that the Lord bestows His grace through all of His Names, and that anyone can chant any Name of the Lord and purify themselves.

The Lord has so many different Names:

visnur narayanah krsno vaikuntho vistarasravah
damodaro hrsikesah kesavo madhavah svabhuh
daityarih pundarikakso govindo garudadhvajah
pitambaro ’chyutah sarngi visvakseno janardanah
upendra indravarajas chakrapanis chaturbhujah
padmanabho madhuripur vasudevas trivikramah
devaki-nandanah saurih sri-patih purusottamah
vanamali bali-dhvamsi kamsaratir adhoksajah

(Amara-kosa: 1.1.37–44)

Mahaprabhu taught that the Lord has manifested unlimited different Names of Himself in this world and has empowered all of Them with the power to rescue the conditioned souls. He explained that the Lord and His Holy Names are nondifferent, and that if anyone chants Them without offence, they will be liberated. Niyamitah smarane na kalah: Mahaprabhu did not give any restrictions regarding the time and place of chanting the Lord’s Holy Name. His only rule was that we must remember and chant the Holy Name at all times.

Spiritual misfortune

Then Mahaprabhu prayed,

etadrsi tava krpa bhagavan mamapi
durdaivam idrsam ihajani nanuragah

(Sri Siksastakam: 2)

“O Lord, You have bestowed Your great mercy by appearing in this material world in the form of Your Holy Names, but I am very unfortunate: I still do not feel eagerness to chant Your Holy Names.”

Mahaprabhu had full attachment and attraction to Krishna and His Holy Name. Mahaprabhu felt the full association of Krishna through His Holy Name. So why does Mahaprabhu express that He does not have any attraction to Krishna? Because He was so deeply connected with Krishna through His Holy Name that He felt ever-increasing hankering for Krishna; He felt He needed more and more attachment to Krishna’s Holy Name. In divine ecstasy Mahaprabhu felt unsatisfied with the Lord’s revelation and His own position. He considered Himself unfortunate because He did not have a deeper connection with Krishna’s Holy Name. We can understand Mahaprabhu’s mood in this way, and we can understand that His expression in this verse is also a very important lesson for us.

With this verse Mahaprabhu also teaches the conditioned souls that the Holy Name is all-powerful—that the Holy Name has full ability to reveal Himself in our hearts—and that we will immediately feel the result of our chanting if we chant the Holy Name purely. Therefore, if we are not experiencing such revelation, if we are not feeling joyful progress in our hearts and minds, if our faith is not becoming firm, if everything is not being fulfilled through our devotional mood, and if we are not getting the association of the Lord through His Divine Name, then we must consider that our durdaiva, our great misfortune.

Melting our stone-like hearts

Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur explained that durdaiva means aparadh, offensive mentality. He explained that Mahaprabhu’s teaching for the conditioned souls in His second verse of the Siksastakam is that the Lord’s all-powerful Holy Name will not reveal Himself in our hearts if we have an offensive mood. Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur gave this explanation of Mahaprabhu’s expression with this verse from Srimad Bhagavatam:

tad asma-saram hrdayam batedam
yad grhyamanair hari-nama-dheyaih
na vikriyetatha yada vikaro
netre jalam gatra-ruhesu harsah

(Srimad Bhagavatam: 2.3.24)

Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur put great emphasis on this verse. His explanation was, “One who hears the glories of the Lord’s Holy Name and chants the Lord’s Holy Name, but does not develop love and affection for the Holy Name, is a great offender with a stone-like heart. There must be something offensive in their heart, otherwise they would automatically feel love for Krishna and chant His Holy Name purely.”

Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur explained the phrase asma-saram, ‘stone-like heart’, by saying that the heart becomes stone-like when someone has a strong materialistic mentality: “I am my mundane body and everything that belongs to me is mine.” When someone has the materialistic mentality of “I, me, mine” their devotional practising life and chanting of the Lord’s Holy Name is mixed with offence. As there are different varieties of stone, some of which are harder than others, so the hearts of people are not equally hard; some persons’ hearts will melt sooner, and some persons’ hearts will melt later, though gradually everyone’s heart will melt, and everyone will feel love for the Lord’s Holy Name.

Avoiding offence

namaikam yasya vachi smarana-patha-gatam srotra-mulam gatam va
suddham vasuddha-varnam vyavahita-rahitam tarayaty eva satyam
tach ched deha-dravina-janata-lobha-pasanda-madhye
niksiptam syan na phala-janakam sighram evatra vipra[66]

(Padma-purana)

The scriptures explain: “If anyone once hears, chants, or remembers the Lord’s Divine Name without any offence, they will be delivered from material existence immediately. If someone maintains their material connections and pursues mundane ends while they chant the Lord’s Holy Name, then the result of their chanting does not bear fruit quickly; it gradually comes to them.”

This verse gives us necessary consciousness about our practising life by showing us that our offensive mentality is our only obstacle in our chanting of the Holy Name, and that until we can avoid all offences we will not get the proper result of chanting the Holy Name. No one should be hopeless after hearing this caution. In this verse it is indirectly expressed that even if we chant with offences we will eventually get a good result from our chanting.

namaparadha-yuktanam namany eva haranty agham
(Padma-purana: Svarga-khanda, 48.49)

“If we are chanting Nam-aparadh, chanting the Holy Name with offence, we should never stop our chanting because the Holy Name Himself will remove our offences by His divine influence.”

It is necessary to eagerly chant the Lord’s Holy Name and always be hopeful. We can always be hopeful because the Lord’s Holy Name is always joyful and merciful like Krishna Himself. In this way we can understand Mahaprabhu’s teaching that if you want to chant the Lord’s Holy Name purely and fully satisfy the Lord through your chanting, then you will have to chant the Lord’s Holy Name constantly without making offences. Krishna will be happy with us when we practise Krishna consciousness and chant His Holy Name without offence. If we have love for Krishna, then we must try to satisfy Krishna by practising and chanting without offence.

In the Padma-purana the ten offences which must be avoided to chant the Lord’s Holy Name purely are explained. We have already published these offences with the original verses and whenever anyone has taken initiation we have given them that book and requested them, “Read these offences, memorise them, and avoid them.” That is necessary for everyone.[67]

Curing our offensive mentality

In the third verse of His Siksastakam Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has explained the qualifications needed to avoid the ten offences and attract the Lord’s Divine Name to reveal Himself in our heart with His full power:

trnad api sunichena taror iva sahisnuna
amanina manadena kirtaniyah sada harih

“Constantly chant the Lord’s Divine Name with a mood of humility, tolerance, and giving honour to others, and without desiring honour for yourself. Then you will become qualified to chant the Lord’s Holy Name without offence.”

Here Mahaprabhu expresses His conception that a real practitioner of Krishna consciousness must be humble, be tolerant, give honour to others, and have no desire for honour for themself. These are the essential qualities of a Vaisnava, and anyone who truly has these qualities is qualified to chant the Lord’s Holy Name purely.

Mahaprabhu’s advice is very simple, and by following it sincerely we will easily avoid all offensiveness; no offence will be able to touch us. Mahaprabhu’s formula of humility, tolerance, and giving honour to others is the perfect remedy for our misfortune of offensiveness towards the Lord’s Name, which He explains in His second verse (Namnam akari bahudha nija-sarva-saktis).

Smashing the ego

Mahaprabhu gave us this perfect formula because everyone has some ego, and all our offences to the Lord’s Name come from ego. Mahaprabhu’s teaching is that it is first of all necessary to oust the ego from our mind (cheto-darpana-marjanam). We must try to completely remove all mundane egotism from ourselves, but Mahaprabhu also explains that we must keep our spiritual ego. “Jivera svarupa haya Krsnera nitya-dasa: we will always consider ourselves to be Krishna’s eternal servants and maintain our transcendental connection with Him.”

Through this process of self-realisation, Mahaprabhu taught us that we all need to go back to our home in the transcendental world where we can serve Krishna and feel the happiness, joy, ecstatic mood, and blessings of His service. In addition He showed us that through chanting the Lord’s Holy Name without offence our transcendental form, which we cannot see when we are bound by the illusory environment, will gradually be revealed in our heart. So Mahaprabhu has given us the perfect process for smashing our mundane ego and discovering our real ego, our eternal form as a servitor of Krishna.

My main advice

Srimad Bhagavatam explained the four directives for isolating ourselves from the influence of Kali.

dyutam panam striyah suna yatradharmas chatur-vidhah
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 1.17.38)

“Gambling, intoxication, illicit sex, and meat-eating are sinful activities and must be avoided.”

Srimad Bhagavatam gave this advice. It is necessary for our practising life, but it is not a service; it is a regulation. Mahaprabhu’s directive to be humble, be tolerant, and give honour to others is our service; it explains how we should practise our spiritual life. Without humility, tolerance, and giving honour to others no one will be successful in chanting the Lord’s Holy Name, even if they follow the scriptural rules and regulations. Only following Mahaprabhu’s directives for our practising life—to be humble, be tolerant, and give honour to others—will ensure that we are successful.

I have tested this thousands of times, and it is completely sure. Almost every day I advise my friends and everyone I meet to follow this directive of Mahaprabhu. What I say may sound like a memorised set of English words, but it is not only that. With my heart I am saying it every day, and I am feeling it also. I want to see that everyone’s practising life—their sravan, kirtan, and so on—continues happily in good association.

If there is anything I want to distribute to the Western world it is this, which is my first and best advice: “Avoid the ten offences to the Holy Name and Vaisnava-aparadh by practising Mahaprabhu’s formula of being humble, being tolerant, and giving honour to others.” This is my preaching and my practising life. I have received this consciousness from Srila Guru Maharaj and Srila Swami Maharaj, and I can see that it is completely necessary for everyone everywhere. Without humility, tolerance, and giving honour to others no one can maintain their devotional mood, and with these qualities everyone can proceed very easily to their spiritual destiny.

Pure devotion and divine mercy

In the first verse of His Siksastakam, Mahaprabhu explained the relationship between Krishna, His Holy Name, and the jiva-soul. In His second verse He explained how powerful Krishna and His Holy Name are, and also how much of an offender we are. In His third verse He gave us the remedy for our offensive condition, which can reveal to us the Holy Name’s power and our relationship with Krishna. Then in His fourth verse Mahaprabhu prayed,

na dhanam na janam na sundarim
kavitam va jagad-isa kamaye
mama janmani janmanisvare
bhavatad bhaktir ahaituki tvayi

[“O Lord, I do not desire wealth, followers, beautiful women, or liberation. I pray only for unconditional devotion to You birth after birth.”]

Once someone enters into practising life by following Mahaprabhu’s formula of chanting the Lord’s Holy Name with a mood of humility, tolerance, and giving honour to others, then the only target and desire of their life becomes ahaituki-bhakti, eternal devotion free from material motivations.[68] A practitioner does not want any of his energy to be taken by offensive activity, and he desires that his full energy be engaged in service that pleases the Lord.

When a practitioner has entered into exclusive devotional life in this way, he can understand Krishna’s position and see that his own position in the mundane world is an ugly, impious platform from which to serve the Lord. To express this mood of a practitioner, Mahaprabhu prays in the next verse of His Siksastakam,

ayi nanda-tanuja kinkaram
patitam mam visame bhavambudhau
krpaya tava pada-pankaja-
sthita-dhuli-sadrsam vichintaya

(Sri Siksastakam: 5)

“O Lord, I am Your eternal servant, but because of my misfortune I have fallen into this terrible ocean of birth and death. I pray that by Your causeless mercy You will accept me as Your own and I will be connected with You like a particle of dust on Your lotus feet.”

Mahaprabhu’s prayer to Krishna means, “If You give me Your merciful glance, I and everything I possess will become purified and useful for Your service. Sthita-dhuli-sadrsam vichintaya: my existence will enter the transcendental service world, and I will be able to serve You purely there for Your satisfaction.”

If the Lord will give even a little bit of His attention to a devotee then the devotee will be completely purified. As the sparking light of a match can remove one hundred years of darkness from a closed room, so everything can be cleaned and cleared from anyone’s heart by the Lord’s divine influence.

Praying to chant without offence

In the sixth verse of His Siksastakam Mahaprabhu prays,

nayanam galad-asru-dharaya
vadanam gadgada-ruddhaya gira
pulakair nichitam vapuh kada
tava nama-grahane bhavisyati

[“O Lord, when will tears stream from my eyes, my voice falter, and the hair of my body stand on end as I call Your Name?”]

These are the symptoms of a servant who purely serves the Lord and chants His Holy Name without offence. Mahaprabhu prays in this way to express His hankering to chant the Lord’s Holy Name without offence.

If we can purely chant the Lord’s Holy Name we will get His direct service and feel ecstatic joy in our life. Srimad Bhagavatam concluded,

nama-sankirtanam yasya sarva-papa-pranasanam
pranamo duhkha-samanas tam namami harim param[69]

(Srimad Bhagavatam’s last verse: 12.13.23)

“Nam-sankirtan is supreme.”

But Mahaprabhu commented,

tara madhye sarva-srestha nama-sankirtana
niraparadhe nama laile paya prema-dhana

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Antya-lila, 4.71)

“Nam-sankirtan is the supreme form of bhakti-yoga, but only if we chant the Lord’s Holy Name without offence will Krishna-prema appear in our hearts.”

The Holy Name’s purifying power

Mahaprabhu wants everyone to chant the Holy Name purely, without offence. Offences are very difficult to avoid and dangerous, but we must avoid them because they are our obstacle in chanting the Lord’s Holy Name. Mahaprabhu shows us His mood of prayer to the Holy Name to help us attract the Holy Name’s grace, which is what will truly free us from offences. With the proper mood of prayer and regular chanting, we can be hopeful that we can receive the Holy Name’s grace.

namaparadha-yuktanam namany eva haranty agham
avisranti-prayuktani tany evartha-karani cha

(Padma-purana: Svarga-khanda, 48.49)

“When the Holy Name sees our heartfelt desire to try to chant Him purely, then He will be merciful to us; we will get the qualifications we need to chant properly, and all of our difficulties will go away by His grace.”

This is Srila Jiva Goswami Prabhu’s realisation from the scriptures: “We cannot avoid making offences, but the Holy Name Himself will give us good nourishment and relieve us from our offences if we have love, affection, and a little connection with Him.” This is the main thing. If our desire is heartfelt, then we must always continuously try to chant the Lord’s Name. Continuous, attentive chanting will attract the grace of the Holy Name to mercifully clean our hearts, remove all our obstacles, and excuse our offences. Through His Siksastakam we can see that Mahaprabhu’s first expression and teaching, cheto-darpana-marjanam, cleaning the mirror of the mind, comes by the grace of the Holy Name to the practitioner in the last stage.

Mahaprabhu’s next prayer in His Siksastakam is:

yugayitam nimesena chaksusa pravrsayitam
sunyayitam jagat sarvam govinda-virahena me

(Sri Siksastakam: 7)

[“O Govinda! In separation from You a moment seems like forever, tears pour from my eyes, and the whole world feels empty.”]

When one chants the Holy Name purely then one’s consciousness is purified (cheto-darpana-marjanam), and all the effects of the Holy Name Mahaprabhu described in His glorification of Hari-nam-sankirtan—bhava-maha-davagni-nirvapanam, and so on—appear in one’s heart.[70] Then, in pure Krishna consciousness, one feels viraha, separation from the Lord, and thinks, “I am chanting the Lord’s Name but still I am not chanting in the proper way.” One then desires to chant the Holy Name more and more purely.

The Lord of our heart

Mahaprabhu ends His Siksastakam with this prayer:

aslisya va pada-ratam pinastu mam
adarsanan marma-hatam karotu va
yatha tatha va vidadhatu lampato
mat-prana-nathas tu sa eva naparah

(Sri Siksastakam: 8)

“Krishna may embrace me or break my heart by denying me His darsan. Krishna the Gopa-vadhu-lampat [enjoyer of the cowherd men’s wives] may do whatever He likes; He will always be the Lord of my heart.”

When a servitor will enter into his service life with this type of mood he will have the mood of full dedication to the Lord. Different kinds of examinations, sometimes painful examinations, will come to him in his spiritual life, but he will not be able to leave the Lord’s lotus feet. He will not see anything except the Lord’s service and will not be able to leave the Lord’s connection in any way; his only target will be Krishna and His service.

The mood of Mahaprabhu’s final expression is, “Krishna can do anything and everything with Me. He has full right over me. I will always be His servitor’s servitor’s servitor. I have no other ego or ideal.” This verse also has a deep, a deeper, and a deepest meaning, and all of them will automatically be revealed in our hearts through our service mood. We will naturally be able to see, feel, and embrace those ideals when they are revealed to us.

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu did not write many verses or give many instructions. He simply gave the gist of all instructions in His Siksastakam. There is no way to proceed in our spiritual life or in our chanting of the Lord’s Holy Names without following the directives of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu given in His Siksastakam. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s Siksastakam is our life and soul. We will try until death to proceed according to its instructions and we must be benefitted to the utmost by that. ⬆︎

Chapter Sixteen

Serving Under Proper Guidance

Question: Maharaj, when chanting the Hare Krishna mahamantra, how should we consider the position of Gurudev? Should we chant to please Guru? Should we chant because it pleases Guru? Should we pray to Guru to help us chant?

Srila Govinda Maharaj: We can understand the proper ideal for practitioners through the example of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. His example shows us the importance of both following the order of Gurudev to chant and satisfying him through our practice of chanting.

Mahaprabhu’s bright and exalted form

When Mahaprabhu was in Kashi [Varanasi] He came to the assembly of the mayavadi sannyasis headed by Prakasananda Saraswati. When He arrived He sat in the place where all the sannyasis would wash their feet before entering the assembly room. When Mahaprabhu arrived He washed His hands and feet, and then sat down in the washing area. While He was sitting there He also revealed His glory by showing a great effulgence from His divine form.

prabhave akarsila saba sannyasira mana
uthila sannyasi saba chhadiya asana

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Adi-lila, 7.61)

When all the sannyasis saw this effulgence, which appeared like that of Brahma, they were very attracted and surprised: “Oh! He is as bright as the sun!”

Prakasananda Saraswati was also surprised. Prakasananda Saraswati had heard that Sri Chaitanyadev had come to Kashi and was turning all the Kashi-vasis, the residents of Kashi, into Vaisnavas. Prakasananda was very angry about this and had told all his disciples, “Don’t associate with that Chaitanya!”

Without Prakasananda’s knowledge, a brahman had invited Mahaprabhu to his assembly. Mahaprabhu did not actually want to go there and join the company of the mayavadis, but He felt He needed to distribute His mercy to Prakasananda Saraswati for the satisfaction of His devotees. For that purpose He went there.

When Prakasananda saw Mahaprabhu’s divine effulgence and then His divine form sitting in a dirty place, he was stunned and thought, “Oh! How beautiful and attractive is the form of this boy!” He could not stay in his chair. He got up and said to Mahaprabhu, “Why are You sitting there? You are very nice-looking and Your form is very exalted. Please come inside. We are all gathered here. You are a sannyasi of our sampradaya. You are a little young but You are very bright. Why are You sitting outside? Please come in and take a seat.”

Mahaprabhu said, “No, no, no. I am very insignificant and inferior. You are the sampradaya’s guru and everyone here is a very great pandit. I am not qualified to join you.”

When Prakasananda saw Mahaprabhu’s great humility his mind softened. He took Mahaprabhu’s hand and said, “O Sripad! Please come inside and take a seat.”

After they came inside Prakasananda began to very affectionately question Mahaprabhu, “I have heard Your name. I know that You are a great pandit and that You are a sannyasi of our sampradaya. You have taken sannyas from the line of Bharati. That is not a high-class line of sannyas. It is a middle class, but You are certainly a member of our sampradaya. Why don’t You come to visit us? You should practise jnana-yoga, read the Vedanta-darsana, and discuss it with us. That is the duty of a sannyasi. You should regularly hear the Vedanta-darsana and preach Sankar Acharya’s teachings. You do not do that. Why? We cannot understand why You only chant the Hare Krishna mahamantra and dance. You are always chanting, dancing, crying, and laughing. Why do You always show Yourself in this way? Why are You always simply performing sankirtan?”

Chant ‘Hare Krishna’ and be happy

Mahaprabhu very humbly replied to Prakasananda Saraswati, “O sir, what can I say? My mind was not good when I took sannyas. I needed relief from the mundane environment; My mind went in a very renounced way, and I could not stay in the grhastha-asram. I came to My Guru and prayed, ‘Give Me sannyas.’ Also, when I was initiated I asked, ‘What is My duty?’ My Guru said,

murkha tumi, tomara nahika vedantadhikara
‘krsna-mantra’ japa sada,—ei mantra-sara

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Adi-lila, 7.72)

“‘You are foolish and unqualified. It is not necessary for You to read anything. You have no qualification to hear or read the Vedanta-darsana. You will not be able to understand its meanings. But You are coming to me for some advice, so I must tell You something. What can You do? You can do simply what is necessary in this Age of Kali:

harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha

(Brhan-Naradiya-purana)

“‘No one can achieve liberation in this Age of Kali without chanting the Hare Krishna mahamantra. Chanting the Hare Krishna mahamantra is the only way to discover Your true nature and serve Krishna eternally. If You can chant the Hare Krishna mahamantra without offence You will get a very good result. You will feel Krishna-prema and get everything. Purely chanting the Hare Krishna mahamantra is the goal of human life. You have a renounced nature, and You have fortunately taken a human birth. So chant ‘Hare Krishna’ and be happy. That is sufficient for You. It is not necessary for You to read the Vedanta-darsana or anything else.’”

Dancing, chanting, crying, and roaring

Mahaprabhu continued His explanation to Prakasananda Saraswati, “Then on the order of My Guru I began chanting the Hare Krishna mahamantra. I did not know what I was doing, and I did not feel that I was chanting, or dancing, or crying. I was simply following the order of My Guru to chant the Hare Krishna mahamantra. For his satisfaction I was chanting. As I chanted in this way power came to Me from My Guru, and the Hare Krishna mahamantra automatically appeared in My heart. I felt the presence of Krishna within Me, and I felt many different things about Krishna. Krishna began to dance in My heart and then dance upon My tongue in the form of the Hare Krishna mahamantra.

“I do not dance actually, or chant, or cry. From within My heart, Krishna dances, and then His Name takes control of Me. You may see Me dancing, chanting, crying, roaring and doing so many things, but they are all the movements of Hari-nam. It is not actually My desire to do all these things. I am very shy to act in that way. But what can I do? I am following the order of My Guru Maharaj. By his power this type of result is coming to Me and giving Me this type of mood.

“When this began happening to Me I thought I had become mad. I went back to My Gurudev and asked,

kiba mantra dila, gosani, kiba tara bala
japite japite mantra karila pagala

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Adi-lila, 7.81)

“‘What kind of mantram have you given Me? I did not know how powerful this mantram was. When I chant it I become like a madman.’

“My Gurudev replied, ‘This is the actual result of chanting the Hare Krishna mahamantra. All mundanity stops if You chant this mantram properly. You are very fortunate that You have become filled with such transcendental knowledge and the full ecstasy of Krishna.’

“My Gurudev encouraged Me in this way and also told Me to try to spread this consciousness to others. So what can I say?

nama nache jiva nache nache prema dhana
jagata nachaya maya kare palayana

(Hari-nama-chintamani: 1.2.58)

“‘When someone chants the Hare Krishna mahamantra without offence Krishna will dance in their heart and then upon their tongue.’”

“When I began to follow the order of My Gurudev the Divine Name of Krishna began dancing within My heart. As I continue to chant and dance by the will of Hari-nam whoever hears that dance of Krishna in the form of sound vibration from My tongue also begins to dance. Then Krishna enters their hearts and begins dancing there. And not only this, the wealth of Krishna-prema that appears in everyone’s heart, that prema-dhana, also dances. I Myself do not know anything, but I am seeing that now the whole world has automatically begun dancing with Me by the will of Hari-nam and the wave of Krishna-prema. Hari-nam has begun dancing and chanting from within My heart and automatically the attention of everyone’s mind has been overcome by that dancing movement. I am simply following the order of My Gurudev and all of this is happening. I do not actually know what is what.”[71]

The power of Brahma

Mahaprabhu expressed Himself in the assembly of sannyasis to Prakasananda Saraswati in this way. Then Prakasananda argued, “Yes. This is good. But you must hear Vedanta-darsana.”

Mahaprabhu humbly replied, “Yes sir. You are master. You can read it, and I will hear from you.”

Prakasananda began to speak about the Vedanta-darsana, and while he spoke Mahaprabhu did not say anything. Finally Prakasananda asked, “Can You understand anything I am saying?”

Mahaprabhu replied, “By the mercy of My Gurudev I can understand the meanings of the sutras from the Vedanta-darsana that you are reading. But I cannot understand the commentary you are giving.”

Prakasananda said, “What? You cannot understand my commentary?”

Mahaprabhu said, “No. I cannot understand, that is, I think what you are saying is wrong.”

Prakasananda began to debate, “Why? Why do You think it is wrong?”

Mahaprabhu said, “You are saying that the final attainment given in the Vedanta-darsana is nirakar, nirvises Brahma—formless, impersonal Brahma. But this is not true. I feel in My heart that Brahma has power, form, and beauty. And not only do I feel this in My heart; everyone who mixes with Me also feels it. So I must conclude that Brahma has a divine form and divine qualities. I also think that if Krishna is merciful to you, then you will feel it also.”

In this way Mahaprabhu expressed His heart and through that explained to Prakasananda Saraswati how Sankar Acharya’s interpretation of the Vedanta-darsana is wrong. After this Prakasananda was defeated. He held his tongue and the debate was finished. Even though he was defeated by Mahaprabhu, after the debate was finished, Prakasananda thought, “Oh! Mahaprabhu, how humble He is.”

“Why am I sitting on this throne?”

The meeting of Mahaprabhu and Prakasananda Saraswati passed in this way. Another day Prakasananda saw Sri Chaitanyadev going to take His bath in the Ganges. Mahaprabhu was dancing on His way, chanting Hare Krishna with a crowd of people dancing along behind Him. Prakasananda was stunned to see Mahaprabhu’s sankirtan. From far away Prakasananda saw Mahaprabhu dancing in Krishna-prema with so many pious souls in sankirtan in the middle of the road. He was very attracted, and thought, “Oh! I need this actually! What have I been doing my whole life? I have been a sampradaya guru for so long, but I see now that I need what this young man has. He is following His Guru’s order and has become intoxicated with a mood of divine ecstasy. He dances and chants the Hare Krishna mahamantra as tears pour from His eyes. His whole body trembles and He perspires. All ecstatic symptoms appear in His body. He is so happy and joyful. What am I doing sitting in the chair of an acharya?”

The supreme wealth

After seeing Mahaprabhu’s divine form in sankirtan Prakasananda was heavily convinced that he could not remain in his position. Prakasananda thought that he would talk to Chaitanyadev when he saw the Lord again. Later when he saw Mahaprabhu coming down the road again chanting in a dancing mood, Prakasananda fell at Mahaprabhu’s lotus feet and took Mahaprabhu’s foot dust on his head. He said, “Oh! I am very foolish. You have everything and I have nothing. All ecstasy, joy, and happiness abide in Your body, and Your eyes show that. I have been practising jnana-yoga for so long, but what have I got? Nothing. I have got nothing. I need Your mercy. You are the embodiment of Hari-nam-sankirtan. You must be that, otherwise my mind could not have been attracted to You. And You must be Krishna. You are distributing Krishna consciousness to everyone, and it is not possible for anyone to do this except Krishna Himself. Only Krishna has the power to do that, so You must be nondifferent from Krishna.” In this way Prakasananda took shelter at the lotus feet of Mahaprabhu.

Mahaprabhu said, “What are you doing? You are a sampradaya guru.”

Prakasananda prayed, “Prabhu, please do not cheat me now. I feel it is necessary to surrender to You, and I feel You are distributing the supreme wealth to all jiva-souls. Please do not deceive me now.”

Inconceivable conversion

There is a verse of Srila Bilvamangal Thakur which expresses the heart of Prakasananda Saraswati at this time:

advaita-vithi-pathikair upasyah
svananda-simhasana-labdha-diksah
sathena kenapi vayam hathena
dasi-krta gopa-vadhu-vitena

(Srila Bilvamangal Thakur)

“I was a Brahma-jnani, and I was following the conception of so ’ham: ‘I am Brahma.’ No one could defeat me or convince me of anything otherwise. I was happily situated with full regard in the conception of advaita-marg [monism]. I was the worshipped headmaster of advaita-marg, the guru of the sampradaya. I held the highest chair, and I sat on my throne in great satisfaction. But then all of a sudden Krishna, the Gopa-vadhu-lampat (cunning playful cowherd boy) attracted my mind with His qualities, beauty, glory, and love. By attracting my mind (sathena) He tricked me and made me His maidservant. Krishna is so merciful that He forcibly took my heart and engaged it in the service of the gopis. He has not only made me His maidservant; He has captured my heart with His divine Pastimes and made me fall flat on the ground.”

This is Bilvamangal Thakur’s heart expression, and Prakasananda Saraswati’s heart expression is very similar: “Suddenly Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came to Kashi and attracted my mind. He smashed my advaita (monistic) conception and made me His servant.”

It is greatly inconceivable to think that Prakasananda Saraswati was transformed by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in this way, but already it has happened. Prakasananda Saraswati clasped the lotus feet of Mahaprabhu and apologised: “I have made a great offence to You. You are doing what is actually necessary for everyone. Please give Your Hari-nam to me.” In this way Prakasananda Saraswati re-took initiation (diksa) from Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

Through this example we can understand that it is not necessary to read the Vedanta or the Vedas or anything, and that it is not necessary to imagine or focus on anything external. In Kali-yuga it is only necessary to chant Hare Krishna without offence under the guidance of our Gurudev. The proper and best ideal for everyone is to follow the order given by our Gurudev. We may not know how much we will be able to do that, but with our full energy—heart and soul—we must try. If we can proceed in that way without offence a good result will come to us. There is no doubt.

Service beyond surrender

In His conversation with Ramananda Ray in Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu rejected the famous verse from Srimad Bhagavad-gita (18.66): sarva-dharman parityajya Mam ekam saranam vraja. In Srimad Bhagavad-gita Krishna explained to Arjuna many things on the battlefield of Kuruksetra. For our benefit He explained karma-yoga, jnana-yoga, abhyasa-yoga, bhakti-yoga, and so on. Then at the conclusion of Srimad Bhagavad-gita Krishna said,

sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksayisyami ma suchah

(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 18.66)

“You must avoid non-religion, and religion also. Exclusively take shelter at My lotus feet. If any sinful reactions come to you I will take care of them. Have no fear.”

This is the first and main task of our spiritual life. If we can take shelter at Krishna’s lotus feet then Krishna will fully take our charge. Everyone generally thinks that this is the supreme, conclusive verse of Srimad Bhagavad-gita. But when Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu summarily rejects this verse, we are confused. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu asked Ramananda Ray about the ultimate goal of life, and step by step Ramananda Ray offered progressive conclusions: varnasram-dharma, karma-misra-bhakti, jnana-misra-bhakti, yoga-misra-bhakti, and so on. Mahaprabhu summarily rejected them all, including this celebrated verse of Srimad Bhagavad-gita, sarva-dharman parityajya. Who can explain the cause of this? Only an expert like Srila Guru Maharaj. I once asked Srila Guru Maharaj, “Why did Mahaprabhu summarily reject this verse?”

Srila Guru Maharaj explained, “This verse advises one to take shelter at Krishna’s lotus feet. Up to this point it is very nice advice, but what will one do once one has surrendered at Krishna’s lotus feet? That is not explained in this verse. Mahaprabhu taught exclusive devotion—surrendered life with service—but in this verse of Srimad Bhagavad-gita there is no explanation of how to lead a life of service. For that reason Mahaprabhu rejected it.”

Surrendered and alive with mercy

Later in their conversation Ramananda Ray presented another verse to Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu which offered an explanation of how one can begin to actively lead a life of surrendered service to Krishna:

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)

This verse explains, “Throw away whatever knowledge you have acquired prior to surrendering! Jnane prayasam udapasya! Your mundane knowledge has no place in the plane of transcendental devotion. A surrendered soul should throw out not only his previous knowledge but also all attempts for acquiring any further mundane knowledge. Then he can submit himself fully and live a life of real devotion. This is the vital point, ‘Namanta eva jivanti: be surrendered and alive with mercy. Fully surrender to Krishna and chant His Holy Name.’

Sthane sthitah sruti-gatam tanu-van-manobhir: you can stay in the jungle, or a house, or an ashram or the ocean, or anywhere; that is not a problem. Anywhere at any moment you can engage yourself physically, mentally, and verbally in Lord Krishna’s service. This means chanting the Lord’s Holy Name, and through that ye prayaso ’jita jito ’py asi tais tri-lokyam: the Lord Himself will be attracted and bestow His mercy upon you.

“But san-mukharitam bhavadiya-vartam: the source of your spiritual connection with Krishna and your practice of service to Him is the satam (sadhu), and without the sadhu’s connection you cannot connect with Krishna, satisfy Krishna, or fully attract His mercy. What you hear from the pure devotee, the sadhu, is the food with which you are alive in Krishna consciousness; what you receive from the sadhu is your very spiritual existence.”

Nectar spilling everywhere

Srila Guru Maharaj composed a verse that beautifully explains how we connect with the Lord and His service through the sadhu. This verse is the dearest and highest verse for me in life. Still so much light comes to me from this verse, and with that I am fully satisfied.

sri-srimad-bhagavat-padambuja-madhu-svadotsavaih sat-padair
niksipta madhu-bindavas cha parito bhrasta mukhat gunjitaih
yatnaih kinchid ihahrtam nija-para-sreyo ’rthina tan maya
bhuyo-bhuya ito rajamsi pada-samlagnani tesam bhaje

(Sri Sri Prapanna-jivanamrtam: 10.14)

When Srila Guru Maharaj composed and finished his Prapanna-jivanamrtam he wrote this verse confessing, “What I have presented in Prapanna-jivanamrtam is not my own property. I have actually only collected this ecstatic property from the devotees.”

His expression is: “The super devotees are like bees always tasting the ecstatic, honey-like nectar of the lotus feet of Bhagavan Sri Krishna, who is the cause of all causes (sarva-karana-karanam), the Supreme Controller (Paramesvar), the origin who has no origin (anadi-adih). As a lotus is always full of nectar, so bee-like devotees are always collecting the nectar from the unlimited ocean of nectar that is the Lord’s lotus feet and tasting that through their super mood of devotion. As they taste that nectar they sing the glories of that nectar and their Master, Lord Krishna.

“If anyone tastes honey and sings at the same time, then naturally a few drops of honey must fall down from his mouth as remnants. Devotees who ecstatically glorify their Lord—who are always drinking, and drinking, and drinking, and intoxicatedly glorifying their Lord—always spill many drops of nectar from their mouths in all directions as they dance and sing.

“Here in this book, Prapanna-jivanamrtam, I have collected those many drops of eternal, transcendental ecstasy that are falling from the mouths of the Lord’s devotees as their mercy. For both myself and you all I have collected those falling drops of nectar and made a plate for everyone to taste that nectar and be supremely benefitted. I am so grateful and indebted to all the devotees who glorify their Lord and taste the nectar of His lotus feet that here at the conclusion of my work, Prapanna-jivanamrtam, I now bow down to all of them again and again. Bhuyo-bhuya ito rajamsi pada-samlagnani tesam bhaje: again and again I glorify the lotus feet of all of these devotees: the devotees who collect nectar directly from the Lord’s lotus feet, the devotees who drink the nectar collected from the Lord’s lotus feet, the devotees who catch and distribute the drops of nectar which fall from the mouths of the devotees drinking the nectar collected from the Lord’s lotus feet, and the devotees who accept that nectar which is offered to them after it has been collected, tasted, dropped, caught, and distributed. I take upon my head the dust of the feet of all of these sincere devotees, whose hearts are filled with divine hankering.”[72]

In this way Srila Guru Maharaj finished his composition Sri Sri Prapanna-jivanamrtam. More explanation of this verse is possible, but shortly I have explained something. Through this you can understand the explanation of saranagati that Srila Guru Maharaj has given in his book, as well as the conclusion of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in His conversation with Ramananda Ray: jivanti san-mukharitam bhavadiya-vartam (SB:10.14.3), surrendered devotional life means living on the remnants of the devotees who live on the Lord’s remnants, living on the mercy of the devotees who live on the mercy they receive from the Lord.

Satisfying Krishna’s devotees

The Lord’s devotees are not only worshippable; they are most worthy of our service. Lord Siva has explained the significance of serving the Lord’s devotees.

aradhananam sarvesam visnor aradhanam param
tasmat parataram devi tadiyanam samarchanam

(Padma-purana)

Once Parvati Devi asked her Lord, “Who is supremely worshippable?”

Lord Siva said, “Visnu is supremely worshippable. What question is there about that?”

Parvati Devi thought, “I am not worshipping Lord Visnu, I am serving my Lord, Siva.” A little doubt came to her, “Is what I am doing right or wrong?”

Lord Siva saw her face and said, “I am not saying I am a devotee of Visnu, but that is actually who I am. So you have nothing to fear.”

Parvati Devi thought, “My Lord, Siva, is undoubtedly worshipping Visnu. I am worshipping him. So that is the best for me.”

Tasmat parataram Devi Tadiyanam samarchanam: Lord Siva’s expression was, “Satisfying Visnu’s devotees is even better than worshipping Visnu Himself.”

Krishna personally explains that service to His devotees is the best way to serve Him:

ye me bhakta-janah partha na me bhaktas cha te janah
mad-bhaktanam cha ye bhaktas te me bhakta-tama matah

(Adi-purana)

Krishna says, “I do not consider someone who thinks, ‘I am Krishna’s devotee’ to really be My devotee. He is My devotee, but I do not consider him so much. I consider someone who is a devotee of My devotee to be My real devotee.”

Srila Guru Maharaj very nicely explained Krishna’s mood in this verse. Krishna’s feeling is, “The flow of My mercy is always going everywhere to all of My devotees, but My devotees are constantly serving Me twenty-four hours a day and never giving Me a chance to worship or satisfy them. I always feel I am indebted to My devotees for their loving service, and when I do not get a chance to serve them I feel hopeless. When I see My devotees’ devotee serving My devotees I specially bestow My mercy upon them, and in that way I am able to serve My devotees.

“I also consider the service of My devotees’ devotee most valuable; the conditioned souls are suffering so much in the material world, and My devotees’ devotees try to collect those suffering souls and engage them in My service through their Gurudev, My devotee. I am always sad to see the conditioned souls’ sadness, and I am eager to serve My devotee. So I am especially interested in bestowing My mercy upon My devotees’ devotees, to nourish them in their distribution of the service of My devotee. That dispels all the suffering of the conditioned souls and satisfies My own desire to satisfy My devotees.”

In this way we can understand that serving Krishna’s devotees is the best way to serve, and that our service to Krishna’s devotees easily reaches Krishna. If we are real worshippers of Krishna, then we must try to satisfy Krishna by serving His devotees.

The key to revelation

Devotee: Gurudev, what do you expect from me as your disciple?

Srila Govinda Maharaj: As possible by you, always chant the Hare Krishna mahamantra without offence and try to serve Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Gandharvika Giridhari. If you have the opportunity to serve Them, do not waste that. Always remember your spiritual life by practising the nine forms of bhakti-yoga given in Srimad Bhagavatam,

sravanam kirtanam visnoh smaranam pada-sevanam
archanam vandanam dasyam sakhyam atma-nivedanam[73]

(Srimad Bhagavatam 7.5.23)

Among these, the process of sravan-kirtan is best: hear from Guru–Vaisnava and chant the glories of Guru–Vaisnava, the Lord, and the Hare Krishna mahamantra. Serve your Gurudev and your Siksa-gurus, the Vaisnavas around you. If you proceed in that way you must be benefitted. Sravana-kirtana-jale karaye sechana (Cc: Madhya, 19.152): sravan-kirtan in the association of the devotees will best nourish us. If we hear and chant the Lord’s glories in the association of the sadhus, the illusory environment will not be able to attack us. But we must hear from a proper Vaisnava and chant without making Vaisnava-aparadh. If we can proceed in that way with good association the result of our practice will increase ten times more, or maybe a hundred times more.

Our practice in devotional life is always under the instruction of Sriman Mahaprabhu and Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur. Sometimes there is a little difference between Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur and Srila Saraswati Thakur, but Srila Guru Maharaj gave us our method according to Srila Saraswati Thakur’s line. We follow that. What method others may follow I cannot say, but we follow the method given by our Guru Maharaj.

atah sri-krsna-namadi na bhaved grahyam indriyaih
sevonmukhe hi jihvadau svayam eva sphuraty adah

(Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu: Purva-vibhaga, 2.234)

“Krishna’s Name, Form, Qualities, and Pastimes cannot be grasped by our mundane senses, but They can be revealed to us through our service attitude.”

In this verse we find the key to Srila Saraswati Thakur’s method, which Srila Guru Maharaj followed and I am the example and witness to. Prabhupad Srila Saraswati Thakur gave us the line that a service attitude (sevonmukhe) means the service of Guru–Vaisnava. His line is that Krishna’s Divine Name and so on will be revealed in your heart (svayam eva sphuraty adah) through the service of Guru and Vaisnava. Many Vaisnavas may read many sastras and follow many different religious processes in their life, but our line is that nothing is necessary except a life of service to Krishna under the guidance of a proper Guru and Vaisnava. We need only to try to practise Krishna consciousness heart and soul under the guidance of a proper Guru or Vaisnava. In that way we will proceed to our destiny in the plane of dedication, beyond the planes of exploitation and renunciation. Serving under the guidance of Guru–Vaisnava brings us into that plane of dedication.

sadyo hrdy avarudhyate ’tra krtibhih susrusubhis tat-ksanat[74]
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 1.1.2)

Through surrender to Krishna’s devotee gradually all property will come to us. Very easily and very suddenly all spiritual quality and qualification, which is very rare to receive, will appear in your heart. The Srimad Bhagavatam (10.80.34) says, “Guru-susrusaya yatha: service to Guru–Vaisnava is our line of progress.” When we have the proper mood of surrender then we will engage in the practices of devotion under the guidance of a proper sadhu.

Connecting with the pure flow

Atah Sri-Krsna-Namadi na bhaved grahyam indriyaih: we cannot see Krishna’s divine form or hear His Divine Name. If we try to go to Krishna directly, overstepping the sadhu, we will never see Krishna’s real form. We will only go down into the garbage of illusion (sahajiyaism) again and again. It is necessary to understand what the Holy Name of Krishna is, and what it is not, if we actually want to chant the Holy Name. From our mundane position we do not understand Krishna, but He can reveal Himself in our heart if we try to connect with Him with love, affection, chastity, and sincerity through the proper channel of His devotee.

The Holy Name appears in this world as the transcendental vibration form of the Lord, and that transcendental vibration appears through the channel of Guru-parampara, through the heart of the Sadhu–Vaisnava. Only a pure mood of devotion can inspire the Holy Name to descend, so if we connect ourselves with a devoted servitor of the Lord who has the pure mood of chanting, we can also come into connection with the Lord’s Holy Name.

If we can receive the Holy Name from our Gurudev and remember the mood and process in which our Gurudev and the great Vaisnavas chanted the Holy Name, then the Holy Name will gradually reveal Himself in our hearts. On our own we are not qualified to chant the Hare Krishna mahamantra, but through the connection, inspiration, and guidance of the sadhu the mood and qualification to perfectly chant the Holy Name will come to us.

Proper conception

Srila Gaura Kisor Das Babaji Maharaj was a very highly elevated sadhu with a very renounced mentality. He was always deeply connected with the Lord’s eternal Pastimes in the transcendental world and feeling separation from Krishna. He lived in isolation from society and sometimes would call out to the Lord spontaneously. He was a pure Vaisnava who chanted the pure Holy Name.

Once someone heard the glories of Babaji Maharaj and began to imitate him. That person built a hut near Babaji Maharaj and began copying the practices and activities of Babaji Maharaj. When Babaji Maharaj heard of this he said that this man should not become an imitationist. He said to him, “You are chanting the Lord’s Name and living in a hut, but you are not really chanting to please the Lord. You are seeking name and fame (pratistha) in this world. You are trying to become famous as a perfected saintly person (siddha-mahapurus), and for that purpose you are chanting and showing yourself in this way. Your activities will neither be successful nor give you proper devotional results.

“If an unmarried woman goes to a labour room to produce a child and shows so many symptoms of giving birth, will a child be born? Never! First a woman is married, then she mixes with her husband, then she becomes pregnant, then a baby begins to grow in her womb, and then, after two hundred and eighty days, she will produce a child. When the time comes for the woman to give birth it will not be necessary to tell her, ‘Now you should go to the labour room.’ Like an unmarried woman going to a labour room you have foolishly moved into a hut and begun to show to others that you are chanting, ‘Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Hare Krishna’. You may show many symptoms of ecstasy or renunciation, but your activities will not produce anything real. You don’t have any real connection with Krishna or Krishna-nam: you have not served any of Krishna’s devotees or understood their devotional mood of chanting. You are only pursuing your mundane fame.”

This is a very hard but also very clear example for us. If we are sincere and actually want to satisfy Krishna through our devotional life, then we will always try to serve Him under the guidance of our Gurudev in the association of sadhus.

Following versus imitating

We must approach Krishna and chant His Holy Name in the proper channel. There is a systematic way for us to proceed in our spiritual life:

adau sraddha tatah sadhu-sango ’tha bhajana-kriya
tato ’nartha-nivrttih syat tato nistha ruchis tatah[75]

(Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu: Purva-vibhaga, 4.15)

First firm faith in Krishna consciousness (sraddha) is necessary. Through our sincerity and sraddha we will get the association of a proper sadhu, not an imitation sadhu. If we do not serve a real Guru or a real Vaisnava we will be cheated sometimes. A real sadhu serves Krishna twenty-four hours a day, and through a real sadhu’s association our faith, service attitude, and devotional property will increase. We will be inspired by the sadhu to serve Krishna twenty-four hours a day. But Srimad Bhagavatam instructs us that we should not immediately serve the Lord in the same way that the sadhu does:

isvaranam vachah satyam tathaivacharitam kvachit
tesam yat sva-vacho-yuktam buddhimams tat samacharet

(Srimad Bhagavatam: 10.33.31)

“Do not imitate what the sadhu does. A sadhu may do something that is helpful for someone in a higher stage but not helpful for someone in a lower stage. Sadhu-sanga means trying to practise our spiritual life under the guidance of a sadhu. Sadhu-sanga means following the instructions given by the sadhu, not imitating the sadhu’s behaviour.”

Love and affection

If someone can properly follow the sadhu’s instructions and proceed under the sadhu’s guidance, then they will be engaged in bhajana-kriya, real spiritual practising life. Through proper bhajana-kriya we will come to the stage of anartha-nivrtti, the removal of our unwanted habits. In the stage of anartha-nivrtti our hankering for mundane things will leave us, our senses will become controlled, and our conditioned nature will be removed. Anartha-nivrtti will not happen, however, unless we proceed in our bhajana-kriya with strong faith, love, and affection.

For anartha-nivrtti to come to us, love and affection for other practitioners is necessary. Practising life is ‘suffering life’—practising life is not an easy life. If we do not have love and affection for other practitioners it will be too painful and we will not be able to proceed successfully. Why should we suffer more than we already are in this mundane world? We should be humble, be tolerant, give honour to others, and make everyone our friend. In this way we can proceed happily in our practising life. Someone may come and abuse us, “Oh! You are Vaisnavas. You are very bad. You are doing this and that.” But we will not be influenced by their comments if we have love and affection for our practising life and other practitioners. Someone may make comments, but we will proceed systematically through sincere and chaste service with love and affection.

Beyond maya’s jurisdiction

If we engage in our spiritual practices of chanting the Holy Name, serving the sadhus, cleaning the temple, doing parikrama of the temple, and so on, with the desire to fulfil the instructions of our guardians—Sadhu, Guru, and Vaisnava—with love, affection, and faith, then anartha-nivrtti will automatically come to us. That is real exclusive devotional practice. Thereafter the stages of nistha (firm service), and ruchi (taste) will come to us.

Until the stage of ruchi no one is in a safe position; there is still possibility of falling down. During the stage of bhajana-kriya we cannot say someone is really qualified. And even after the stage of anartha-nivrtti, when material attachment has gone, we are still bound by the reactions to our previous sinful activities. Only when ruchi comes is everything cleared. Maya thinks, “Aho! I must run away. He is not under my jurisdiction.” When ruchi, loving attachment for the Lord’s service, comes into our heart, then we will be safe.

raso ’py asya param drstva nivartate[76]
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 2.59)

When we come to the stage of ruchi we will feel, “Oh! This is very beautiful and without this I cannot live.” When such taste will come to us we will be fully situated in devotion. Then all the auspicious symptoms of bhava, priti, prema, and so on will gradually appear in our heart.

In this way we understand the teachings of our Guru Maharaj and Srila Saraswati Thakur: “Serve Krishna, serve Guru, serve the Vaisnava, and serve the Mission of our Gurudev. Gurudev gives us service that is satisfying to Krishna, and Krishna is satisfied when we serve Guru–Vaisnava.”

Emotion and devotion

Question: Can you please explain how we can avoid confusing emotion with devotion?

Srila Govinda Maharaj: Sometimes we are practising and serving emotionally. That means we are blindly following our mind’s idea of what is good and bad. Sometimes our mind tells us something is good and we follow that idea of our mind. Acting in that way we do many things emotionally, but those activities may only be subha-karma (pious acts). They will not be actual devotion.

Srila Guru Maharaj gave an example: Gurudev may perform puja and order us, “Bring some water.” We will then bring some water to Gurudev, but Gurudev may suddenly change his order and say, “Oh, water is not necessary now. Bring some flowers.”

If we say to Gurudev, “You ordered me to bring some water. I have followed your order to bring you water” and we give Gurudev that water, then our action will be subha-karma. It will not be devotion (bhakti).

With primary enthusiasm we may want to do more and more service to Guru–Vaisnava. But in the primary stage we won’t be attentive to see whether our service is appropriate, to see whether it is actually pleasing to Guru–Vaisnava, to see whether it is what they actually want. In the primary stage we do not consider these things and only think that our own activity will take us to a higher position. We do not consider how and why the advice of Guru–Vaisnava is coming to us.

Actual devotion means trying to satisfy Guru–Vaisnava according to their instructions. A proper and attentive mood of devotion is to always keep our eyes open to see if what we are doing is really satisfying to our Master or not. Gurudev has told us, “Chant Hare Krishna.” But if I am in a place where Gurudev is discussing something important with some Vaisnavas, and I begin making noise, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare” then that is not chanting in a mood of devotion. Devotional mood means considering whether Gurudev is happy or not with our activity. It is true that Gurudev has ordered us, “Chant Hare Krishna loudly”, but it is always necessary to consider the place, time, and circumstances, and then wisely try to do service. This is devotion.

Heart-melting association

A proper Guru or Vaisnava has no self-interest or self-satisfying tendency. Such a real devotee has no interest in being served. Rather he is always engaged in Krishna’s service. If we follow the service-order and guidance of a proper Vaisnava to engage in service of Krishna or His devotees, then our action will enter the category of devotion through that proper Vaisnava’s qualification. Devotion begins by offering ourselves to Krishna by taking a vow that we will not do anything that is not in service to Krishna. But Krishna is transcendental, and we cannot offer anything to Him directly. We do not have that capacity or qualification. We must offer our service to Krishna through Guru–Vaisnava—through the devotees who have the capacity to directly serve Krishna. When you serve Krishna under their guidance all responsibility for Krishna’s service goes to them, and all the proper results of service come to you. Krishna knows you are serving Guru–Vaisnava for His satisfaction, not for their personal interest, so Krishna must be satisfied with you.

Sometimes we may be going on in our practising life but feel that we are not progressing. We may be engaged in service and chanting the Lord’s Holy Name but feel that our faith is not becoming stronger, joy is not coming into our heart, and our mind is not becoming fulfilled by our devotional mood. At that time we must try to get the association of a good Vaisnava. We must search for a real practitioner who is practising Krishna consciousness twenty-four hours a day and get his association.

dadati pratigrhnati guhyam akhyati prchchhati
bhunkte bhojayate chaiva sad-vidham priti-laksanam

(Sri Upadesamrta: 4)

Sadhu-sanga means associating with the sadhu like he is our own relative, associating with him in an affectionate, regardful way. This means giving him gifts (materials for service), feeding him, asking him questions, taking his advice, and so on. Through this type of affectionate association with the sadhu we will be able to understand and feel why we are not inspired in our practising life. If there is any offensive mood within us, the good association of the sadhu will wash it away. The association of a great sadhu can melt our hard heart and inspire us with a mood of real dedication. When we see the sadhu engaged in the Lord’s service twenty-four hours a day, our hearts will become joyful. We will feel much inspiration to follow him and connect with the devotional plane ourselves.

sevonmukhe hi jihvadau svayam eva sphuraty adah[77]
(Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu: Purva-vibhaga, 2.234)

Devotion is so sweet, and gradually in the finest, most affectionate, and lovely way it will reveal itself in our heart by the grace of the Lord’s devotee. Through the service and grace of the Lord’s devotees we will see the Lord’s divine play expressed everywhere. Through our tendency to serve, and our service to Guru–Vaisnava, we will be cleanly and clearly qualified. Nowhere will we not see the sweet, affectionate, and lovely movements of the Lord’s transcendental service world. ⬆︎

Chapter Seventeen

Recognising Devotion

Question: How can we recognise a Guru or Vaisnava? How can we know who we should serve under and take guidance from?

Srila Govinda Maharaj: It is very difficult to recognise a Vaisnava.

vaisnava chinite nare devera sakati
mui kona chhara sisu alpa-mati

“Even the demigods cannot recognise a Vaisnava. So how shall I ever recognise one?”

It is very difficult to recognise a Vaisnava, but we can have some idea about who Vaisnavas are through the definitions of a Vaisnava given in the scriptures. Visnur asya Devata iti Vaisnava: someone whose worshippable Lord is Visnu is a Vaisnava. This is a standard definition. In Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu gave a variety of definitions of a Vaisnava:

“ataeva yara mukhe eka krsna-nama
sei ta’ vaisnava, kariha tahara sammana”

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 15.111)

“Someone who has once chanted Krishna’s Name is a Vaisnava. He should be respected.”

“krsna-nama nirantara yahara vadane
sei vaisnava-srestha, bhaja tahara charane

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 16.72)

“Someone who constantly chants Krishna’s Name is a great Vaisnava. He should be served.”

yahara darsane mukhe aise krsna-nama
tahare janiha tumi ‘vaisnava-pradhana’

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 16.74)

“Someone whose association makes others chant Krishna’s Name is the greatest Vaisnava.”

After Prabhupad Srila Saraswati Thakur travelled throughout all of Vrndavan on parikrama, he slapped his forehead and said, “I am so unfortunate. I have come to Vrndavan to see the Vaisnavas, but I have not seen even one Vaisnava.” How could he say this? Everyone in Vrndavan is a Vaisnava; everyone there worships Krishna and at least sometimes says, “Krishna, Krishna”. There is some Vaisnavism within everyone there. Through Srila Saraswati Thakur’s expression we can understand that it is necessary to realise that there is a gradation among Vaisnavas. Srila Saraswati Thakur meant that he did not see a pure Vaisnava on his Vrndavan parikrama.

If we see that someone has any of the qualities of a Vaisnava, then we must consider that he is a Vaisnava and give proper honour to him. We can first consider that anyone who leaves the association of other persons and joins in the association or ashram of the Vaisnavas practising Krishna consciousness has some Vaisnava quality. And if someone who comes is recognised by Gurudev or an authority as a Vaisnava, then we must consider that he is a Vaisnava. Whenever Gurudev says that someone is a qualified Vaisnava, then we must believe that and surrender to that qualified Vaisnava.

Srila Guru Maharaj also explained to us other ways of practically understanding who is a Vaisnava. He gave many examples: someone whom the Vaisnavas are happy to see is a Vaisnava; someone who is happy to see the Vaisnavas is a Vaisnava; someone who is happy to serve Vaisnavas is a Vaisnava, and so on. There are many varieties of definitions of a Vaisnava.

Recognition and respect

There is a very nice story in the Mahabharata about the difficulty of recognising a Vaisnava and the practice of respecting someone who is recognised as a Vaisnava by an authority. After the great Rajasuya sacrifice, Krishna, as well as many munis and rsis, took prasadam at the mansion of the Pandavas. Lastly, Krishna told the assembly, “When this Rajasuya sacrifice has been properly completed, a bell will ring.”

Bhimasen heard Krishna’s statement and took it seriously. When the sacrifice seemed to be finished and everyone had been satisfied with prasadam, the bell did not ring. Bhimasen asked Krishna, “Why is the bell not ringing? You said it would ring automatically when the sacrifice was successfully completed. Have we done something wrong?”

Krishna said, “You have served prasadam to so many people, but you have not served all the Vaisnavas. There is a Vaisnava who lives in the jungle under a tree not too far from your mansion. He was not invited to the sacrifice, and he has not taken prasadam. Because he has not been served, there is some fault in your sacrifice, and it cannot be considered fully complete.”

Bhimasen and Arjuna understood that they needed to serve this Vaisnava, but they knew that on their own they could not recognise him. Arjuna asked Krishna, “We cannot recognise who this Vaisnava is on our own. Please come with us and show us who he is.”

Krishna accompanied Bhimasen and Arjuna to the jungle and showed them, “A great Vaisnava lives near that tree in that broken thatched hut. He lives near you, but he does not come to your festivals. He has no hankering for anything mundane, even food.”

Arjuna and Bhimasen went up to his hut and with folded palms said, “O Prabhu, please come and take prasadam at our sacrifice.”

The Vaisnava said, “Oh! You are Arjuna and Bhimasen. You have come to invite me, and it would be very offensive for me to not accept your invitation.”

He responded very humbly in this way. Bhimasen and Arjuna said, “Krishna Himself has said that you are a Vaisnava. Please come and accept something from us.”

That Vaisnava never went anywhere or took anything from anyone, but when he was invited by Arjuna, Bhimasen, and Krishna Himself, he accepted and came to take prasadam.

Draupadi was a very expert cook, and she prepared many varieties of food. She offered the Vaisnava very opulent prasadam. Others fanned him and gave him much nourishment. When he took the prasadam, he mixed all the different preparations together and took them all at once.

After he left, the bell still did not ring. Bhimasen again asked Krishna, “What happened? You said that if we fed that Vaisnava, everything would be finished and fulfilled.”

Krishna said, “You must have made some offence. You have called him and fed him, but you must have somehow made an offence to him.”

Krishna asked Arjuna, “When you called him and fed him did you make any offence to him?”

Arjuna said, “No. I do not remember making any offence.”

Bhimasen also said, “No. I do not remember making any offence.”

Yudhisthir and everyone else present also said, “I do not remember seeing any offence made to him. I don’t know what offence has been made.”

Finally, Krishna asked His dear friend Draupadi, “Draupadi, have you done anything?”

Draupadi confessed, “I cooked so many varieties of prasadam for him, and when I saw him mix all of them together, I thought that he did not know how to properly accept this opulent prasadam. My thinking in this way may have been an offence.”

Krishna said, “Yes. You are right. This was the offence. He should be called and fed again.”

The next day Krishna and Arjuna went and called the Vaisnava again. They brought him to the mansion and fed him again. When he took prasadam, the second time the bell began to ring, and the sacrifice was complete. This story shows us that it is very difficult to recognise a Vaisnava, and that it also may be difficult to respect him even when we are told that he is a Vaisnava.

Praying to the Vaisnavas

It is very essential to follow a pure Vaisnava and happily try to practise Krishna consciousness under his guidance. Through our mundane knowledge we cannot understand who is a Vaisnava and who is not. So we must pray to Krishna, to Nityananda Prabhu: “I do not know who my Guru is. I do not know who the Vaisnavas are. Please reveal them to me. Please give me the association of a proper Guru and real Vaisnavas.”

Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur gave us very important advice about the position of the Vaisnava in one of his songs. He explained how to recognise the Vaisnava and receive his mercy:

ami ta’ durbhaga ati vaisnava na chini
more krpa karibena vaisnava apani

(Kalyana-kalpa-taru: Mangalacharana, 6)

“I am so unfortunate, unqualified, and insignificant: I do not have the qualification to understand who is a Vaisnava or Guru. I do not have the capacity to discover who is a Vaisnava and who is not. This is a very difficult situation for me. My only hope is that the Vaisnavas are merciful; they are oceans of mercy (krpa-sindhubhya eva cha) and can give me proper consciousness of who is a Vaisnava and who is not: they can reveal themselves to me. If the door of my good fortune will open, then the real Vaisnava will be merciful to me, and I will be able to understand his position. If I am a good boy, a good man, and I am humble and tolerant, and I give honour to others, then I will automatically attract the real Vaisnava and receive his mercy and blessings. If I proceed with humility and tolerance, and give honour to everyone, then I will automatically honour the real Vaisnava, and he will choose me to be a servitor of the Vaisnavas.”

It is through the quality of our own practice that we can attract the vision of the real Vaisnava and receive his mercy, affection, and service connection.

Self-knowledge

The question of how to recognise a Vaisnava is a very important question, and it is actually everyone’s question. Here we find the answer in Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur’s song, and it shows us that self-realisation is the best for us. If I want to be a Vaisnava and associate with real Vaisnavas, then I must ask myself, “Am I a Vaisnava or not? Am I actually capable of associating with Vaisnavas?” This type of self-examination is best for us.

Atmanam viddhi: it is necessary to know your own self, to understand whether what you are doing, eating, and giving are really for the satisfaction of Guru and Vaisnava. Self-knowledge, self-realisation, is best for us, and through that we will be promoted. If we are fully dedicated to the Lord, then help will come to us from His side. We must examine our own level of dedication. There is an Urdu or Arabian word, saltamami, which means a calculated account of a year’s debit and credit transactions. We must make a saltamami of our own life: “Every day the sun rises and sets. What am I doing and giving each day during that time? Day by day is my practising life increasing or decreasing? Am I dedicated externally or internally?”

We must scrutinise what we are doing from morning to evening every day and make an account of that. It is necessary for us to realise how much good and bad was present within us in our previous days, and also to realise that whatever others are doing or will do is not so important for us. The biggest question for us must be what we are doing and what we are giving. If we can analyse ourselves in this way with a saltamami every day, then we will become more perfect.

It is necessary for us to realise that we will get proper results in our spiritual life if we perfectly try to do our practice. It is no doubt difficult, but there is no other way to get out of the illusory environment. We must try as much as possible by us. It is necessary to see what is happening in our own lives. If we are not careful about our own activity, then we will be cheated.

uttisthata jagrata prapya varan nibodhata
ksurasya dhara nisita duratyaya
durgam pathas tat kavayo vadanti[78]

(Katha-upanisad: 1.3.14)

We must awaken, arise, and practise our own spiritual life, even if the path may seem like a razor’s edge. Durgam pathas means that our spiritual path may not be very easy to pass through and may even seem to be impassable. But we have no other alternative. So we must try and proceed.

Revitalising association

Question: Sometimes we get discouraged for one reason or another in our spiritual life. How can we best keep our enthusiasm strong?

Srila Govinda Maharaj: We must always follow the directions of Sriman Mahaprabhu. Then we will be enriched with humility, tolerance, and giving honour to others, and more and more our searching spirit will increase. It is necessary to develop within ourselves the qualities and qualifications for association with sadhus. Without humility we will not receive anything from others, without tolerance we will not be benefitted by others, and without giving honour to others we will always be disturbed. If we will try to cultivate these three qualities within ourselves, then quickly proper results will come to us.

Whatever spiritual wealth you have, that is your property. And whatever spiritual wealth I have, that is my property. If I want to increase my spiritual property then I will have to look to you and find what more you have than I.[79] In this way the tendency to associate with and learn from others will grow within us through the quality of humility. This is the best process to get association.

If we can sincerely practise in this way we will get proper association with the Lord’s servants. By the grace of Sadhu, Guru, and Vaisnava our enthusiasm in spiritual life will increase more and more. They are always giving us hope; they are never making us hopeless. Any situation may come before us, or we may commit any offence, but they are always giving us some hope and some service to the Lord. Our enthusiasm will grow through their association. Association is the best thing for conditioned souls to get more enthusiasm in their practising life.

We should not be frustrated. The ego is very bad. Ego destroys so many things. But our ego will go down if we cultivate and increase within ourselves the qualities of humility, tolerance, and giving honour to others. I am seeing that ego destroys our enthusiasm. What can I do? I can only give advice. If anyone will follow it they must be benefitted. Ego is very dangerous for everyone, and to leave ego is very difficult.

Controlling ego

Question: Maharaj, how can we recognise when we are suffering from false ego? How can we see ourselves under that influence? How do we know when we are displaying our false ego?

Srila Govinda Maharaj: It is only possible to recognise it through realisation. Suppose someone says to you, “This is your ego.” Your ego will not want to give that chance to them. But at that time if you will try to realise what they said and why they said it, if you try to realise how much there is something positive and beneficial for you in their statement, and how much is perhaps negative opposition, then you will be able to control your ego.

We have established ourselves within an egoistic position, so there is no other way our ego can be controlled than by our own realisation. Since the time when we were growing up we have chosen our own path and established ourselves upon our egoistic mountain. Only our own realisation can solve our problem, and it is best when our own realisation will come to us. Otherwise, if you have some faith in a particular person whom you consider superior to you, you can go to him and take his advice. If you can take his advice wholeheartedly, then also your ego will go down. There is no other way. Good association is always beneficial for everyone. But our ‘good association’ must really be association that is good for us.

Realisation, faith, and prayer

Question: How do we know who we should associate with? How can we recognise good association?

Srila Govinda Maharaj: This is a very good question and a difficulty for everyone. We must consider that we have some realisation and that our realisation has some power. Through that we will try to understand what will be good for us and whose association will be beneficial for us.

First we will try to know about someone, “Does he have affection for me or not? Does he have love for me or not? Does he consider what will be good for me or not? Is he sober in his relations with others or not?” In this way we will try to understand something about someone from our side. But at the same time we will pray to our Lord, “Give me good association. I have no capacity to discover who will be very good association in my life.” It is necessary to both pray to the Lord and have some realisation from within our own self. In this way, from both sides, we will try to recognise good association. Also, in another way, if you have full faith in someone, you can ask him directly, “Is this person good association for me or not? Is that person good association for me or not?” Then from him you will also get some help. These are the general guidelines.

Devotee: Maharaj, I read that Srila Guru Maharaj said, “My relationship with someone should be seen by that person’s relationship with the Centre and the Centre’s relationship with that person. That is, if my Gurudev has much affection for that person and that person has much affection for my Gurudev, then I will think that that person is good association for me.”

Srila Govinda Maharaj: A little difficulty will come from that idea when someone wants not temporary but permanent association. Based on that idea someone’s choice will not be perfect. Sometimes through illusion we are misguided, and we need to take advice from an affectionate and wise friend. He may be a Guru or a Vaisnava, but he must have a neutral personality and pure Vaisnava qualities. He must not be envious. He must always be trying to help others and not be trying to misguide others or pursue personal interests. A person of that type will be most helpful for us.

If we have full faith in Guru then we can ask Guru directly, “Will this be good for me or not?” If the Guru has a good idea about that, then that is very good. But we are not always in the association of Guru. So we also have to try to realise and understand what will be good and what will be bad for us. In this way, many are misguided, and in this way also, many are benefitted.

Non-enviousness

The main obstacle on our spiritual path is enviousness. Envy is very bad. I always see this, feel this, and am disturbed by it also. What shall I do? In the second verse of Srimad Bhagavatam there is a short expression that is very important, sweet, and suitable for conditioned souls: nirmatsaranam satam.[80] This expression gives light to everyone: “Be pure and free from enviousness. Appreciate others.” This advice does not mean we should become pure like alloyed steel, but that we should become pure like gold. If we can make ourselves into generous, non-envious persons, then we will become pure like gold.

In this material world everything is moving up and down; everything is always shifting its position. Someone is becoming rich, someone is becoming poor; someone is becoming wise, someone is becoming foolish. Everything everywhere continues to move up and down in this world, but we must try to isolate ourselves from that and avoid being envious of anyone. We may not be able to understand how it will be possible, but we still must try. There is no other way to proceed in our spiritual life.

We will be able to harmonise everything when we truly take shelter at Krishna’s lotus feet. Krishna is Reality the Beautiful, and with His connection we have the chance to feel the full form of His qualities and beauty. When we have the opportunity to get everything through our connection with the Lord, then we do not need to be envious of anyone else.

Srila Guru Maharaj trained me from my childhood: “Serve the Vaisnavas without enviousness.” If we see a devotee doing our job better than we are, then we must consider that he is doing good for us. We should not be envious of him. When a devotee is doing so much that I cannot do, I praise him for that. I do not criticise him.

We know that whenever anyone does something there must be something right and something wrong in their action. No one has full knowledge or is completely wise. Srila Guru Maharaj used the phrase, “To err is human” in one of his articles. All the Vaisnavas want to be right; they want to do things right, and they try heart and soul. We should always consider their service efforts and overlook their faults. This is necessary for our society.

If according to our knowledge it seems to us that someone is not serving perfectly, then we should not be angry with him, and we should not be envious of him. Rather, we should look at our own self. If we feel the desire to criticise others, then we should first try to criticise our own self and find our own faults.

atmaiva hy atmano bandhur atmaiva ripur atmanah
Srimad Bhagavad-gita (6.5) explains that I can be my own worst enemy and I can be my own best friend. When I criticise others, then I act as my own worst enemy. When I criticise myself, then I act as my own best friend. If we can continue our practising life in that way, then we will get a good result. “He may be bad, but why should I not be good? I see some bad quality in him, but I cannot correct him. So why should I not try to be good and correct myself? I shall be good; whether he is good or bad is another thing. First of all I shall be good, knowing that I will be benefitted if I proceed in that way.” We should look after ourselves in this way. That is very good for the continuation of our practising lives.

See the positive

We must try to proceed in this way, otherwise we have no hope. There are so many practitioners around us who are not perfect. Everyone has some imperfections. If we act like a drain inspector, always looking for the faults of others, then we will be offenders, and we will not properly honour the devotees. Who is a perfect devotee? It is very difficult to find a devotee who is fully dedicated to the Lord‘s service. Still, we can think that every devotee has some devotion.

Once one of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur’s disciples, Sripad Siddhanti Maharaj, came to speak with Srila Guru Maharaj. When they were speaking in a relaxed mood, Sripad Siddhanti Maharaj said to Srila Guru Maharaj, “Maharaj, I consider that all of our godbrothers are Vaisnavas. Because they were all servitors of Srila Saraswati Thakur they have some Vaisnava quality. But, side by side, I have seen that all of our godbrothers have difficulties, faults, and bad qualities. I have decided to put our godbrothers into some categories. Someone is a foolish Vaisnava, someone is a wise Vaisnava, someone is an envious Vaisnava, someone is a simple Vaisnava, and so on.” Sripad Siddhanti Maharaj explained many different categories of Vaisnavas, and Srila Guru Maharaj laughed so much to hear that.

Everyone is a Vaisnava. This is correct. But how much? It is very good to use the idea of percentage. Someone may be five per cent Vaisnava, someone may be ten per cent Vaisnava, someone may be twenty per cent Vaisnava, and someone who is one hundred per cent dedicated to the Lord is a real Vaisnava. If we consider all of the devotees in this way, that will be perfect.

We should not hate others. Everyone has some quality, and with that quality they are enjoying. I also have some quality, and I live in my own zone with that. Internally I may know something about someone’s behaviour, but externally I will see the Vaisnavas’ qualities and proceed carefully. Otherwise I will be the loser, and I may become an offender. It is true that some persons may do wrong, and it is also true that it is not good to follow someone who is doing wrong. Still, when I see someone doing something wrong in front of me, I should not hold any grudge against him or be envious of him. I can ignore that wrong while I try to make myself a perfect servitor. This is the only way to live harmoniously in society. I have considered this many times, and in this way we must be careful about Vaisnavas and non-Vaisnavas. Otherwise we will be cheated and may become an offender.

The formula for harmony

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has given us the supreme formula to collect the good qualities of others, properly relate to everyone, and harmonise everything:

trnad api sunichena taror iva sahisnuna
amanina manadena kirtaniyah sada harih[81]

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Adi-lila, 17.31)

Within His formula Mahaprabhu gave us three very nice rules. Trnad api sunichena: be humble and do not disturb anyone. If we are humble, then we will not be a cause of anger for others, and everyone will be merciful to us. Taror iva sahisnuna: tolerate everything going on in this mundane world. We are insignificant souls; we should not demand so much for ourselves. If we are tolerant, then we will not make any unnecessary disturbances for ourselves or others; in that way we will avoid the sinful, reactionary environment. Amanina manadena: give honour to everyone without desiring honour for yourself. Everyone has some ego, and we do not want to disturb others’ egos. We should humbly give honour to everyone, even to persons who are not honourable. Everyone has some good qualities, so why should you not give honour to them? What is the difficulty for us? If we give honour to everyone, then everyone will be happy with us, and not only will they not disturb us, but they will help us in our practising life.

The conditioned souls always think that they are already qualified. That is their misfortune. When someone sees himself as the biggest he cannot see anything beyond himself. He can only see tiny things like ants and insects. When someone sees himself clearly and feels himself to be small, then he can see the highest and biggest things around him. It is hopeful for us to see ourselves not as the best or greatest, but as the least and smallest: to see that we have a great need for improvement. Whatever good qualities we may have are already our property which no one can take away from us. If we see good qualities anywhere in others, we should try to collect them. We can always collect goodness from wherever we find it through our practice of humility, tolerance, and giving honour to others.

Smooth progress

Mahaprabhu’s formula states that anyone who is humble and tolerant, and gives honour to others without expecting honour for himself can properly practise Hari-nam-sankirtan. This teaching of Mahaprabhu gives us the proper spirit of spiritual life. When we follow the practice of humility, tolerance, and giving honour to others, we will not do anything wrong to anyone, and we will not make offences to anyone. If we give honour to everyone, then we will never be in danger of making an offence to a Vaisnava (Vaisnava-aparadh). It is completely necessary to avoid making offences to Vaisnavas because the Hare Krishna mahamantra descends to us from the upper level through the Vaisnavas.

Mahaprabhu gave us His formula because we cannot recognise Vaisnavas. What can we do when we cannot recognise a Vaisnava? We can give honour to everyone, even to persons who do not appear honourable to us. If we do so, then we will always give honour to the Vaisnava, even though we may not recognise him. Generally, we can understand that we should honour a Vaisnava; there is no question about that. But because it is difficult to recognise a Vaisnava we should give honour to everyone, even to someone who appears to have nothing. The Lord resides in the heart of everyone, and everyone is a Vaisnava by nature. We must honour everyone; then we will always proceed clearly in our spiritual life. This is very important.

I always say that this procedure given by Mahaprabhu is the best procedure for practising spiritual life. Why? Because we are always doing something wrong, and we must avoid that. All souls have a very high prospect and property—they are all actually eternal servants of the Lord. Someone may be a tiny, insignificant soul who has not realised his own wealth, but we must give honour to everyone, no matter who they are. That way everyone will be merciful to us. If we do not make any enemies and rather make everyone our friend, then our practising life will proceed smoothly. We must proceed to our destiny, and for that we need the blessings of everyone, especially all the Vaisnavas, in our practising life.

We need everyone’s help and goodwill, and if we proceed to our destiny according to Mahaprabhu’s formula, then everything will be very beautiful, fair, and good. We should be merciful to ourselves by giving honour to others. Then the whole world will become our friend, and all of the Lord’s servants will be merciful to us.

Our hope and challenge

Even when we understand the idea and mood given by Mahaprabhu in His formula trnad api sunichena, it is still very difficult for us to follow. I have spoken about Mahaprabhu’s formula my whole life, and so many people have heard about it from me. It is very easy to hear about it. And it is very easy, and very good, to speak about it with others also, no doubt. The difficulty is focusing on it in our own lives and following it properly. What Mahaprabhu has given as the aim and objective of Vaisnavism is actually very difficult to follow. Some persons have spent a long life in Krishna consciousness—thirty, forty, fifty, sixty years—but not become enriched with the three qualities of humility, tolerance, and giving honour to others. There is an expression in Bengal,

vaisnava haba bali’ chhila mora sada
trnad api sloke padi gela vada

“I had a strong desire to become a Vaisnava, but when I heard that I needed to follow Mahaprabhu’s prescription of trnad api sunichena … then I felt very hopeless: ‘How will I ever become a Vaisnava?’”

Everyone struggles to remember Mahaprabhu’s formula and practise it properly. Sometimes we easily forget it and do something wrong. But when we come back to our good sense, we can immediately begin practising it again. Every time we can start again anew, and there is no problem with that. We forget, our sense comes back to us, and then we can again do good with our life. In that way we must try to go on and make ourselves perfect.

Faith is our first necessity in this practice, and under the guidance of faith we can proceed properly in the line of Krishna consciousness. So many disturbances may come to us, but we can cross over them by faithfully trying to practise Mahaprabhu’s simple formula: humility, tolerance, and giving honour to others. We are not always successful, but we are trying to do that. We should not be disappointed or frustrated. We must see that whatever situation comes to us has been given to us by Krishna, and we will try to harmonise that situation through our practice of humility, tolerance, and giving honour to others. If we are not able to harmonise something and practise properly, then we can faithfully pray to our Master: “You see everything, and You properly look after everyone; please do whatever is best for me.” This type of faith in the Lord’s protection over us is necessary to have behind our practice of Mahaprabhu’s formula.

The quality of our existence

If we chant the Hare Krishna mahamantra with the qualities of humility, tolerance, and giving honour to others, we will certainly get a proper result. Mahaprabhu has promised us this, and even Krishna will not be able to check our result because our result will come to us through His devotee’s devotee. Humility, tolerance, and the offering of respect are the essential qualities of a devotee. Everyone must maintain those qualities in their devotional lives. If anyone is successful in practising Mahaprabhu’s procedure, then they will be very, very close to liberation, and after liberation they will see and feel how everything is transcendental and all right, by the will of the Lord.

How humble we are, how tolerant we are, and how much we give honour to others is the quality of our existence in the line of Krishna consciousness. This is the teaching of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami, Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur, Prabhupad Srila Saraswati Thakur, and my Guru Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj. ⬆︎

Section Six

Krishna-prema

Dasa-mula-tattva

Truth Ten:

sadhyam tat-pritim

Love for Sri Krishna is the goal.

Chapter Eighteen

Inconceivable Glory

Everywhere throughout the scriptures Krishna is glorified beyond all other Gods and demigods as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who lives eternally in His divine abode of Goloka Vrndavan.

virajara pare suddha-paravyoma-dhama
tad upari sri-gokula-vrndaranya nama

(Gitavali: Radhastakam, 2.1)

“Beyond Viraja, the river that divides the material and spiritual worlds, is Paravyoma Dham, the spiritual sky, and the supreme, original abode within the spiritual sky is Goloka Vrndavan, Lord Krishna’s eternal residence.”

In Krishna’s transcendental abode everything moves according to Krishna’s will for Krishna’s satisfaction. We cannot conceive how much beauty, ecstasy, and love play in the Pastimes of the Sweet Absolute in Sri Vrndavan Dham. In Vrndavan, time, space, and everything within the environment move, expand, and contract according to Krishna’s will. But Krishna Himself is not directly concerned with anything; He simply enjoys. Krishna’s immediate expansion Sankarsan Balaram is the actual manager of the transcendental world. He makes all the arrangements for Krishna’s play and satisfaction through His potency Yogamaya. It is Yogamaya, Krishna’s delegated power, who actually arranges all of Krishna’s Pastimes.

Through her power Yogamaya can understand all the desires that appear in the hearts of Krishna, Radharani, the sakhis, the manjaris, and all the servitors in that abode. She can understand in which way Krishna wants to play with the gopis, in which way Krishna wants to play with Radharani, where He wants to play, and so on. She can understand everything. Krishna only wishes in His heart, “I want this”, or “I want that”, and Yogamaya arranges everything. When Radharani wants to worship Krishna in Radha Kunda, Yogamaya arranges everything there. So, under the guidance of Yogamaya and Radharani, Krishna’s supreme servitors who fulfil all of His desires to the extreme, everything and everyone within the transcendental abode is engaged in satisfying Krishna.

Wish-fulfilling servitors

The glory of Krishna’s transcendental abode has been very beautifully described in Sri Brahma-samhita, the prayers of Lord Brahma. Through meditation (dhyan) upon the gayatri-mantram, everything was revealed in Brahma’s heart. In Brahma-samhita he expressed his divine vision of Krishna and Krishna’s divine abode.

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)

Sriyah kantah: all the ladies in Goloka Vrndavan are like Laksmi Devi. Their ankle bells are made of wish-fulfilling gems, and they are full with all wealth, beauty, love, charm, and so on. They play with their beloved Krishna, who is their only enjoyer. Kantah Parama-Purusah: the sole enjoyer in Goloka Vrndavan is Krishna, and He enjoys all the different moods of devotion present in the hearts of all His associates in His divine abode.

Kalpa-taravo druma: all the plants in Goloka Vrndavan are also wish-fulfilling. All living entities in Goloka Vrndavan, all of the trees, bees, deer, and so on, are fully conscious servitors of the Lord eager to be engaged in His service. No one in Krishna’s abode has any selfish desire for anything. Everyone there is a liberated soul who is permanently inspired to live in that transcendental service world, where everyone’s happiness increases hundreds and hundreds of times by engaging in the Lord’s service. Because all the living entities there have pure service inspiration, the Lord gives them infinite capacity to serve.

The plants of Goloka Vrndavan possess unlimited wealth and can produce anything for anyone, according to the necessity of service. Whatever anyone desires to prepare for the enjoyment of their Lord can be provided by any tree in Vrndavan. If you ask any tree there, “Give me an apple”, then that tree will be able to give you an apple. If you ask a banana tree, “Give me a ripe mango that has no skin or seed”, then the banana tree will give you that mango. When the Lord or His devotees eat that mango, they will be very satisfied, and when that mango is being eaten, that mango will also be very satisfied. This is achintya, inconceivable, but it is true. It is possible because everything in Goloka Vrndavan is transcendental.

If you ask a friend, “Give me a glass of water”, your friend will bring you that glass of water from nearby or from far away. There, anything can be provided from anywhere. When you say, “Water”, water will come before you. When you say, “Fruit”, fruit will come before you. Anything you desire there is also a servitor eager to be engaged. Whatever you conceive of immediately comes to you. This is the meaning of chintamani [wish-fulfilling]. All of Goloka Vrndavan is chintamani. The land there is made of chintamani gems: bhumis chintamani gana-mayi. Everything you will ever need will always be there for you in that abode. All the plants and trees, and even the land itself, can give you anything and everything you require for Krishna’s service.

The expansion and contraction of space

Once, when I was a young boy, I went on parikrama with Srila Guru Maharaj in Vrndavan Dham. After we visited many different places we came to Varshana, and there I asked Srila Guru Maharaj: “Radharani’s father’s house is here in Varshana, but her husband Abhimanyu’s house is located eight kilometres away in Yavat. Externally Radharani goes to worship Surya every morning with Her associates and then comes back to Her house to cook and take care of Her household work. She also travels to Radha Kunda, which is thirty kilometres away, for Her play with the Sweet Absolute. How is this possible for an innocent fourteen-year-old girl? Where does She get the time and energy necessary for all this travelling? Even if She had a helicopter or a motorcycle, She would hardly have time to travel back and forth every day in this way.”

Later in my life I studied a variety of subjects and learned something about ghost theory. If we are sitting in Govardhan and I ask a ghost, “What is going on right now in my room in Kolkata?” The ghost can answer me from Govardhan very quickly, “Your room is now locked, and someone is cleaning just outside your door.” But if I ask a ghost, “Can you see if Pavitra Sevan Prabhu is seated here before me?”, the ghost will say, “Please wait.” Then after some time the ghost will tell me, “Yes, I can see Pavitra Sevan Prabhu, Sripad Asram Maharaj, and Krishnachandra Prabhu sitting with you.” If you ask the ghost, “Why can you immediately tell me what is going on in Kolkata but need to ask me to wait before you tell me who is sitting right in front of me?”, the ghost will say, “I cannot see what is close to me, but I can see things that are very far away and can travel across the earth very quickly. I need to quickly go a little distance away and look before I can tell you who is next to you.”

This is ghost theory, but ghost theory is not transcendental theory. The devotees in Goloka Vrndavan are not like ghosts.

After I asked Srila Guru Maharaj my question about Radharani’s service in Vrndavan he replied, “Bhumis chintamani: the land is made of wish-fulfilling gems. When Radharani thinks, ‘I am going to Radha Kunda’, the earth contracts, and within five minutes She immediately arrives in Radha Kunda. This is the transcendental quality of Krishna’s abode: it can expand and contract according to Krishna’s desire and the service of His devotees. If anyone there thinks, ‘I shall go to Mathura’, then they will see, ‘I am in Mathura’. If anyone thinks, ‘I shall go to Varshana’, they will arrive there immediately even though it is thirty kilometres away.”

The nature of Vrndavan is chintamani: whatever devotees think of comes to them. In the material world a ghost may be able to see great distances and travel great distances very quickly in pursuit of its desires. But in the transcendental world the environment itself expands, contracts, and adjusts according to the desires of the Lord and His devotees.

In this way we can understand that everything in Vrndavan is transcendental. In Vrndavan toyam amrtam: the water is like nectar. Katha ganam: the talking is like singing. Natyam gamanam api: the walking is like dancing. Vamsi priya-sakhi: Krishna’s flute-song is heard everywhere. Chid-anandam jyotih: whenever it is necessary, inconceivable light appears everywhere coming from everything, and whenever it is not necessary, it is hidden.

Unlimited cows with unlimited milk

Sa yatra ksirabdhih sravati surabhibhyas cha sumahan: in Krishna’s abode oceans of milk flow from millions of Surabhi cows for nourishing Krishna and His devotees. Surabhi is a cow who can give you whatever you desire. There is a story in the Mahabharata that shows the glory of the Surabhi cow. Once, when Visvamitra was a ksatriya king, he was travelling with his army and came to the dwelling of Vasistha Rsi. Vasistha Rsi insisted on feeding Visvamitra’s entire army, and within two hours he gave good nourishment to all Visvamitra’s soldiers. Visvamitra was surprised, “How have you supplied food to thousands of my soldiers and satisfied my whole army within only two hours?”

Vasistha Rsi said, “I have one cow, and she gave me everything I needed to nourish everyone. My cow, Nandini, will give me anything I ask from her.” Nandini is the daughter of Surabhi, and she was mercifully staying in the house of Vasistha Rsi.

Visvamitra said, “I want to take this cow with me. I am a king, and I want to enjoy with this cow.”

Vasistha said, “No. It is impossible. This cow is a wish-fulfilling cow who has come down from heaven. Wherever she lives, heaven appears. She is mercifully staying in my home, but she is a heavenly cow and cannot stay in any mundane house.”

Visvamitra objected, “I want to take her with me. I will take her forcibly with the help of the thousands of soldiers I have with me.”

Vasistha Rsi said to Nandini, “I cannot resist Visvamitra. I have no power. But you mother, you can resist yourself.” Then Nandini immediately produced thousands of soldiers for fighting, and Visvamitra was stunned as all of his soldiers were defeated.

Finally Visvamitra said, “Dhig balam ksatriya-balam brahma-tejo-balam balam: now I can see that the power of the brahmans is supreme in this world. I must become a brahman.” Visvamitra then left his kingdom and began performing austerities (tapasya) to become a brahman. That is another history, but through this story we can understand how much abundance can be produced by millions of Surabhi cows and how opulent the environment of Vrndavan Dham must be.

The service-flow of time

Nimesardhakhyo va vrajati na hi yatrapi samayah: in Vrndavan time follows Krishna’s sweet will. According to Krishna’s desire time passes or stands still. Vrajati na hi means na gachchhati: time, samayah, does not pass but stands by waiting to follow Krishna’s order. This means that every day, night, and moment in Vrndavan expands and contracts according to Krishna’s desire. One second, one blink of an eye, does not pass without notice and without bringing happiness to Krishna.

When I first heard this expression, I was stunned. In the mundane world time is always passing. We are always saying, “Everything in this world is a passing show.” But in the transcendental environment time does not pass without being engaged in Krishna’s service. Time may become infinitely long or short according to Krishna’s desire.

I once saw an advertisement, “All time is teatime.” This is true in one sense in Vrndavan: there every moment is the best time. In Vrndavan, time is eternally present; there is no past or future. In Srimad Bhagavatam it is described that when Krishna would perform Rasa-lila with the gopis, the night would last the length of a night of Brahma. That means that the Rasa-lila Pastimes of Krishna with the gopis went on for billions and billions of years within one night. In this way we can understand how and why time flows in Vrndavan.

The transcendental environment

Bhaje Svetadvipam tam aham iha Golokam iti yam: Krishna’s divine abode is known as Svetadwip or Goloka Vrndavan. Vidantas te santah ksiti-virala-charah katipaye: in this world it is known only to a few saints who are clean-hearted, exclusive servitors of Krishna. Only very clean-hearted persons can feel and understand Krishna’s transcendental world from within the material environment. If you give transcendental knowledge entrance and a clean position in your heart through prayer, then it will reveal itself in your heart. When transcendental knowledge wants to reveal itself in your heart, then it must be revealed; even you will not be able to check it. When Vrndavan Dham is revealed in your heart, you will automatically feel everything.

From our mundane position we cannot gauge or feel the nature of Vrndavan. If we try to feel that abode from here, what we feel will be mundane. It is not necessary for us to discuss the matters of the transcendental world so much. That abode is not revealed through lectures or reading actually. It is revealed through dedication, devotion, determination, and divine grace. When one is fully enriched with those qualities, one will get everything automatically. We should only try to keep our faith. We will simply try to believe in what Srimad Bhagavatam, Sri Brahma-samhita, and the other scriptures have expressed about the Lord’s Pastimes with His liberated devotees in His divine abode.

We use this word devotee often, but in the Lord’s abode no one is actually a devotee in a way that we would recognise. Everyone there is an affectionate lover of Lord Krishna. A ‘devotee’ means someone who always follows the instructions of Krishna. But following orders only goes up to dasya-rasa, a service relationship with the Lord. In Vrndavan, Krishna’s associates are in the relationships of sakhya-rasa [friendship], vatsalya-rasa [affectionate guardianship], and madhura-rasa [paramour love]. Sometimes they push Krishna, “Go and do this. Eat and enjoy that.” Krishna’s lovers sometimes have a mood that is completely the opposite of Krishna’s.

We cannot gauge from the mundane plane anything about Krishna’s transcendental world. No one in the mundane environment can understand or feel Krishna’s transcendental abode without His mercy.

Krishna’s flute-song

Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu has written a very nice verse describing the transcendental, attractive power of the sound of Krishna’s flute:

rundhann ambu-bhrtas chamatkrti-param kurvan muhus tumburum
dhyanad antarayan sanandana-mukhan vismapayan vedhasam
autsukyavalibhir balim chatulayan bhogindram aghurnayan
bhindann anda-kataha-bhittim abhito babhrama vamsi-dhvanih

(Vidagdha-madhava: 1.27)

Bhindann anda-kataha-bhittim abhito babhrama: when Krishna plays His flute, the sound travels not only everywhere throughout His divine abode but throughout all universes. The sound of Krishna’s flute travels through sky after sky, across all times and spaces. Rundhann ambu-bhrtas: the clouds within all the skies scatter. Chamatkrti-param kurvan muhus tumburum: the Gandharvas, the singers and musicians of the heavenly planets, as well as Indra, Chandra, Vayu, and so on, are astonished to hear the sweet sound of Krishna’s flute and cannot understand where it is coming from. The four kumaras—Sananda, Sanaka, Sanatan, and Sanat—who are always in meditation, cannot believe they are hearing Krishna’s flute-song. They are never aware of anything in their external environment, and they wonder, “Where has this sound come from? How has it captured our attention?”

Vismapayan vedhasam: Lord Brahma, the creator of the universe, is very astonished to hear the flute’s sound: “This sound is not my creation. Where is it coming from?”

Autsukyavalibhir balim chatulayan: Bali Maharaj, who lives in Patalaloka [the underworld], hears the flute’s sound and becomes chanchal [excited]: “Where is this sound coming from?”

Bhogindram aghurnayan: Satyaraj Vasuki, Lord Ananta Sesa, who holds the earth on His heads, is struck by that sound and His heads shake.

In this way the tune of Krishna’s flute makes the whole transcendental and material universe mad and attracts everyone everywhere.

Within Krishna’s divine abode of Goloka Vrndavan, His flute-song is the very life of everyone (vamsi priya-sakhi). Through the transcendental sound vibration of His flute, Krishna communicates with the hearts of all His devotees. All of Krishna’s associates find their existence in the sound of His flute (vamsi-dhvani). By Krishna’s sweet will, everyone hears His flute-song and is inspired by it according to their relationship with Him. All the devotees—in their relationships of santa, dasya, sakhya, vatsalya, and madhura rasas—are filled with affection and given instruction by Krishna’s flute-song; they are inspired as to how they can next serve Krishna.

Krishna’s mother Yasomati hears Krishna’s flute-song and begins preparing many opulent foods that Krishna likes. Krishna’s friends become inspired to play with Krishna. Krishna’s girlfriends become inspired to meet Him. Krishna’s flute-song simultaneously reveals Krishna’s desires to everyone, according to their relationship with Him.

The source of Krishna’s power

Krishna is irresistibly attractive as He plays His flute. Krishna’s devotees become completely charmed by His attractive power as He plays His flute and cannot separate their existence from their desire for Krishna.

sri-krsna-rupadi-nisevanam vina
vyarthani me ’hany akhilendriyany alam
pasana-suskendhana-bharakany aho
bibharmi va tani katham hata-trapah

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 2.28)

Krishna’s devotees feel, “If we cannot serve Krishna’s divine form, then all of our senses are useless. Why do we have eyes if we cannot see Krishna?”

vamsi-ganamrta-dhama lavanyamrta-janma-sthana
ye na dekhe se chada vadana[82]

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 2.29)

As Krishna plays His sweet song on His flute, His moon-like face blooms with unlimitedly attractive attachment and heartfelt affection.

Srila Guru Maharaj has explained why Krishna’s flute-song is so attractive. We know that the gayatri-mantram comes from the sound of Krishna’s flute. So through the gayatri-mantram we can understand the mood and intention of Krishna as He plays His flute.

gayatri muralista-kirtana-dhanam radha-padam dhimahi
(Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj)

Gayatri means murali-dhvani, the sound of Krishna’s flute. Muralista-kirtana: murali wants kirtan; through His flute Krishna performs His desired kirtan. Murali-ista: ista means Krishna wants to perform kirtan of His dearmost: Radharani. Through His flute-song, gayatri, Krishna calls the Name of Radharani, “Radha Radha Radha Radha”, and expresses His glorification of Radharani. Dhanam, the real wealth of Krishna, the real wealth of His play and the source of His attractive power, is Radharani’s lotus feet, and only Radharani’s lotus feet. Radha-padam dhimahi: Krishna plays His flute-song in meditation upon Radharani’s lotus feet.

Radharani’s divine qualities

Sri Sri Radha-Krishna’s Pastimes are not ordinary human activities. They are not found within the material environment. They are called lila (divine Pastimes). They are not material in any way; they are transcendental. Radharani is Krishna’s supreme Power, His Para-sakti. She is also known as His Hladini-sakti. Hladini means ‘She who always gives joy to Krishna’. It measn that all of Her activities create great joy in Sri Krishna’s heart. Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami explained,

hladinira sara ‘prema’, prema-sara ‘bhava’
bhavera parama-kastha, nama—‘mahabhava’
mahabhava-svarupa sri-radha-thakurani
sarva-guna-khani krsna-kanta-siromani[83]

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Adi-lila, 4.68–69)

[“The acme of pleasure is love; the acme of love is ecstasy; and the acme of ecstasy is Mahabhava. The embodiment of Mahabhava is Sri Radha Thakurani, the mine of all good qualities, the crest jewel of Krishna’s lovers.”]

All qualities and qualifications; all beauty, love, charm, and ecstasy; all the wealth of service—everything—is in the hand of Radharani. With everything She satisfies Krishna, and Krishna is fully satisfied with Her.

Radharani’s names have special qualities and beauty. We know a very sweet and beautiful verse about Radharani’s names.

devi krsna-mayi prokta radhika para-devata
sarva-laksmi-mayi sarva-kantih sammohini para

(Brhad-Gautamiya-tantra)

This is a Sanskrit verse, and Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami has given an explanation of it in Bengali:

krsna-mayi—krsna yara bhitare bahire
yaha yaha netra pade taha krsna sphure

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Adi-lila, 4.85)

“Radharani’s name is Krsnamayi because Her within and without are Lord Krishna, and She sees Lord Krishna wherever She casts Her glance.”

Krishna is always present within, and in front of, Radharani. Krishna is within Her, and She sees Him wherever She looks. She does not see anything apart from Krishna, and Krishna plays wherever Her eyes go. Radharani’s name Krsnamayi has been described in Vidyapati’s Padyavali in poetic form:

yadi nayana mude thaki’ antare govinda dekhi
nayane khulile dekhi syame

[Radharani says:] “If I close My eyes, I see Krishna playing in My heart. If I open My eyes, I see Krishna playing before Me.”

She who cannot see anything apart from Krishna is called Krsnamayi.

Kaviraj Goswami also explained that Her name is Radhika because She satisfies Krishna’s desires with all of Her senses, because She knows nothing other than constant worship of Krishna.

Para-devata means She who serves as the proprietor of the best of all the Gods: Krishna. All administration and property in the transcendental service world are in Her hand. Thus She is known as Para-devata. Because She is the wholesale proprietor of everything for Krishna’s service, She is known as Sarva-laksmi-mayi. This name means ‘She from whom all beauty and fortune flow’, ‘She who is the fountain of all wealth, beauty, and qualities, the fountain of Krishna’s Pastimes’.

Radharani can enchant Krishna with Her mood and divine form. Thus She is known as Sammohini. Suka and Sari, the male and female parrots of Vrndavan, playfully quarrel:

suka bale, “amara krsna madana-mohana”
sari bale, “amara radha vame yata ksana”

Suka says, “My Krishna attracts Cupid.”

Sari replies, “As long as my Radha is by His side.”

Cupid is known as Bhuvana Mohan, ‘he who attracts the whole world’. Krishna is known as Bhuvana Mohan Mohan, ‘He who attracts Cupid’. Radharani is known as Bhuvana Mohan Mohan Mohini, ‘She who attracts Krishna, who attracts everyone in the whole world away from Cupid’. If Krishna is separated from Radharani, He becomes attracted by Cupid (lust). In this way we can understand Radharani’s name Sammohini, ‘She who is supremely attractive’.

‘devi’ kahi dyotamana, parama sundari

kimva, krsna-puja-kridara vasati nagari
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Adi-lila, 4.84)

Here in his explanation of Radharani’s names Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami miraculously revealed the meaning of the Sanskrit word devi. Normally we think devi refers to a beautiful heavenly goddess, ‘she from whom all beauty comes’. Srila Kaviraj Goswami explained that devi comes from the root div, which means play (div dhatu kridayam). He explained that devi also means ‘She in whom Krishna plays in full’, ‘She in whose body there is nothing other than the worship and play of Krishna’. Krishna is satisfied by the full existence of the full form of Radharani. He is fully satisfied with His play in madhura-rasa-lila with Radharani. Because Radharani’s body is the supreme abode of Krishna’s service and play, She is called devi. No one could conceive of this meaning of the Sanskrit word devi, but Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami revealed it.

Radharani’s divine guidance

The divine play of Sri Sri Radha-Krishna is eternally going on in Vrndavan Dham. Everything in Vrndavan exists to give joy to Krishna. There Radharani distributes Her power to everyone, and Krishna enjoys with everyone. There Krishna tastes divine love through Radharani. Bhakti Vinod Thakur very simply expressed this in his song:

radha-bhajane yadi mati nahi bhela
krsna-bhajana tava akarane gela

(Gitavali: Radhastakam, 8.1)

“If you do not worship Krishna under the guidance of Radharani, everything you do will be lost. You will not get any ecstasy from the emporium of all ecstasy (Krishna). You will not taste anything. Akarane gela: you can worship Krishna, but no benefit will come to you if you do not worship Krishna under the guidance of Radharani.”

Mirabai is an example of a famous devotee who did not approach Krishna through Radharani. We offer our dandavat pranam to all devotees of Krishna, and we offer our dandavat pranam to Mirabai, but from a distance. We do not have a real connection with Mirabai, and we do not offer our affection or service to Mirabai. There are many devotees like Mirabai. We are not attached to them. If someone worships Krishna without Radharani, Krishna gives them something, maybe He gives them five per cent. But if someone serves Krishna under Radharani’s guidance, they get everything. Lord Krishna Himself openly confessed,

na paraye ’ham niravadya-samyujam
sva-sadhu-krtyam vibudhayusapi vah
ya mabhajan durjara-geha-srnkhalah
samvrschya tad vah pratiyatu sadhuna[8][4]

(Srimad Bhagavatam: 10.32.22)

“I cannot reciprocate the love and affection that I have received from Radharani.”

Thus when Krishna sees His devotees serving Radharani, He enriches them with His full mercy.

Radharani manages and distributes all service to Krishna. All of Krishna’s Pastimes happen through Her power. Her hladini-sakti is the source of all of Krishna’s pleasure, and Her potency form of Yogamaya manages the whole environment of the transcendental world.

Once when Srila Guru Maharaj was explaining this point, someone said to him, “You are actually tantrics. You are always saying, ‘Under the guidance of Radharani you are serving Krishna’, so you are following the conception of prakrtivad (energy worship).”

Srila Guru Maharaj replied, “Yes. We are tantrics. But we are visuddha-tantrics, pure unalloyed tantrics. ‘Under the guidance of Radharani’ means that under the guidance of Her transcendental energy we are serving Krishna. Our service goes directly to Radharani, not to Krishna, and Radharani arranges everything for the satisfaction of Krishna with our service energy. So our service is present as Radharani gives full nourishment to Krishna, and in that way we fulfil the most important necessity of our existence: purely satisfying Krishna.”

An enchanting breeze

We can understand how much love and attachment Krishna has for Radharani, how supremely She satisfies Him, and how extremely valuable the service of Radharani is, through an expression of Prabodhananda Saraswati Thakur:

yasyah kadapi vasananchala-khelanottha-
dhanyatidhanya-pavenena krtartha-mani
yogindra-durgama-gatir madhusudano ’pi
tasya namo ’stu vrsabhanubhuvo dise ’pi

(Radha-rasa-sudha-nidhi: 2)

This is Prabodhananda Saraswati’s pranam mantram for Radharani. In this verse he expresses, “When Krishna feels the breeze of Radharani’s sari as She distributes food to Krishna and His friends, Krishna feels, ‘I am fully satisfied’. Dhanyatidhanya-pavenena krtarthamani: just by feeling the breeze of Radharani’s sari Krishna feels, ‘I am so fortunate. I am fully satisfied’. Yogindra-durgama-gatir Madhusudano ’pi: all the munis, rsis, and yogis—everyone—are trying to get the dust of Krishna’s lotus feet, but Krishna thinks, ‘The breeze from Radharani’s cloth gives Me full nourishment’.”

Krishna is Svayam Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead:

isvarah paramah krsnah sach-chid-ananda-vigrahah
anadir adir govindah sarva-karana-karanam

(Sri Brahma-samhita: 5.1)

Krishna is not only an isvar; He is the Paramesvar, who is the origin of everything, the Creator of all creation, and the universally worshippable, eternal Lord. Yet Krishna thinks, “Oh ho! I am very fortunate that I have felt the breeze from Radharani’s cloth.”

When we understand the identity of Krishna and we hear that Krishna is becoming maddened by feeling the breeze of Radharani’s sari, then we can understand something about Radharani. We can understand that Krishna gets full satisfaction from Her, and that no one can satisfy Krishna the way She can. We can also understand that even Krishna Himself wants to serve Radharani. So Radharani’s position is supreme.

Prabodhananda Saraswati has also given us a very helpful caution in his verse: “We are not so expert. We are not qualified to take the Name of Radharani. Actually we are not qualified to think about Her divine Pastimes with Krishna. But what we can do is pay our dandavat pranam to the direction of Varshana, where Radharani appeared and played in Her early age.”

The queen of Krishna’s homeland

We can also understand how high and exalted the position and Name of Radharani are through Srimad Bhagavatam. Sukadev Goswami did not want to take the Name of Radharani in the public meeting described in Srimad Bhagavatam because he understood that the rsis there were not qualified to hear Her Name. Sukadev Goswami heard Radharani’s glories from his Gurudev, Vedavyas, and through that he understood everything. But he did not want to give that knowledge to the rsis in the public meeting. Atreya Rsi and many great, stalwart rsis were there.

atrir vasisthas chyavanah saradvan
aristanemir bhrgur angiras cha
parasaro gadhi-suto ’tha rama
dvaipayano bhagavan naradas cha

(Srimad Bhagavatam: 1.19.9–10)

All the dignitaries of the spiritual world were seated there: Sukadev Goswami’s grandfather, Parasar, Sukadev’s father, Vedavyas, Narad Rsi, and so many others. Everyone was present for the meeting during Pariksit Maharaj’s final seven days. There Sukadev Goswami expressed everything, but He did not take the Name of Radharani because He did not want to expose the harem of Krishna in the middle of that meeting. Not everyone there could properly understand Krishna’s private life. To protect them from making any offences he did not take the Name of Radharani.

Radharani’s position is supreme, but She is only known to those who have consciousness about Krishna’s private life. Krishna is famous everywhere; everyone all over the world has heard of Krishna. But only in Vrndavan will you hear the Name of Radharani everywhere. If you go to Vrndavan even today, you will find that you will not hear the Name of Krishna so much. There everyone only calls, “Radhe Radhe! Radhe Radhe!” Everywhere you go in Vrndavan you will hear, “Radhe Radhe!”

Vrndavan is Radharani’s zone, and there everyone always sings Her glories. Krishna’s position is secondary there. Krishna is like a big administrator; He is known far and wide. But Radharani is the Mistress of His private life, and She is supreme within Krishna’s homeland of Vrndavan.

The controller of Krishna’s heart

Radharani and Krishna’s relationship is completely transcendental. We cannot understand Their intimate Pastimes from our mundane position. So we do not show our mood of devotion for Them as though we are residents of Vrndavan. Rather we respect Radha-Krishna-lila from the proper distance.

brahma siva narada sruti narayani
radhika-pada-raja pujaye mani’

(Gitavali: Radhastakam, 8.6)

Sukadev, Siva, Brahma, Narad—all the great persons in Srimad Bhagavatam—worship Radharani, but we always feel from them some caution: “You can worship Radharani, but be careful.”

Srila Guru Maharaj fully explained the glorious and worshippable position of Radharani very carefully and cleverly through his verse about Srimad Bhagavatam:

yad amiya-mahima-sri-bhagavatyah kathayam
pratipadam anubhutam chapy alabdhabhidheya
tad akhila-rasa-murteh syama-lilavalambam
madhura-rasadhi-radha-pada-padmam prapadye[85]

(Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj)

“Every word in Srimad Bhagavatam glorifies Radharani, but Her Name is not specifically taken there. Krishna is the Akhila-rasamrta-murti, the emporium of all rasa, and Radharani is Syama-lilavilamba, the reservoir in which Krishna plays and tastes the full ecstasy of madhura-rasa. Radharani is the controller of Krishna’s heart, the madhura-rasa adhikarini. Her service is the source of all of Sri Krishna’s madhura-rasa prema.” ⬆︎

Chapter Nineteen

The Next Edition of Radha-Krishna’s Pastimes

Divine love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the supreme wealth and goal of our lives (prema pumartho mahan). Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu preached this conception all over India, and now it has spread all over the world. Through that divine love everyone will get entrance into the Lord’s divine abode, Svetadwip, which has two divisions: the madhurya-lila of the Divine Couple Radha-Krishna in Vrndavan and the audarya-lila of Gauranga Mahaprabhu in Nabadwip. Mahaprabhu Sri Chaitanya Radha-Krsna nahe anya: Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is nondifferent from Radha-Krishna. He also has His own divine realm in the transcendental world, where He lives eternally with His associates and engages in inconceivable Pastimes of divine love.

The twofold appearance of Krishna

Srimad Bhagavatam, Sri Brahma-samhita, and other scriptures have described for everyone in this world Krishna’s divine appearance and madhurya-lila in Vrndavan.

astavimsa chatur-yuge dvaparera sese
vrajera sahite haya krsnera prakase

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Adi-lila, 3.10)

“At the end of the Dvapar-yuga in the twenty-eighth millennium of Vaivasvata Manu, Svayam Bhagavan Sri Krishna appears in this world with His eternal abode, Vrndavan.”

isvarah paramah krsnah sach-chid-ananda-vigrahah
anadir adir govindah sarva-karana-karanam

(Sri Brahma-samhita: 5.1)

Svayam Bhagavan Krishna means ‘He who is the origin of everything transcendental and mundane’, ‘the cause of all causes’, the ‘Supreme Personality of Godhead’. This Svayam Bhagavan Krishna appeared five thousand years ago and showed His madhurya-lila to the world. Then He withdrew with His associates, abode, paraphernalia, and so on.

When Krishna appeared in this world, two forms actually appeared within Him.

krsno ’nyo yadu-sambhuto yah purnah so ’sty atah parah
vrndavanam parityajya sa kvachin naiva gachchhati[86]

(Sri Laghu-bhagavatamrta: Purva-khanda, 165)

Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu explained that one form was the Yuga-avatar (the Avatar for the age), who came to demolish the demoniac activity going on and harmonise everything on the earth. The other form was Svayam Bhagavan Sri Krishna Himself, who lives eternally in Vrndavan Dham as the ever-playful Reality the Beautiful. That Svayam Bhagavan Krishna is actually Avatari Krishna, the original Krishna, who is the source of all Avatars (sarva-karana-karanam). During His Pastimes on earth, the Yuga-avatar form of Krishna came out of Vrndavan to fulfil His mission on the planet, but the original Krishna, Svayam Bhagavan Krishna—Isvarah Paramah Krsnah—never took one step out of Vrndavan. He stayed in Vrndavan through His Pastimes of union in separation with His devotees in Vraja Dham. Then, when His Pastimes with the residents of Vrndavan and the Pastimes of the Dvapar-yuga Avatar were completed, that original Krishna, with His Yuga-avatar form, withdrew from the universe.

Love and magnanimity

After the appearance of Krishna the time came on the earth for the Kali-yuga-avatar, the Avatar who distributes the dharma of the Age of Kali: Hari-nam-sankirtan. At that time the Lord appeared as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

sri-krsna-chaitanya prabhu jive daya kari’
sva-parsada sviya dhama saha avatari’

(Saranagati: 1.1)

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu descended from the transcendental world with His associates and divine abode. He revealed His audarya-lila and bestowed His mercy upon all the fortunate souls of this world. But like Krishna, inside Mahaprabhu there are two forms: one is the Yuga-avatar, who came to distribute Hari-nam-sankirtan, and the other is Radha-Krishna-milita-tanu: Radha-Krishna combined—Avatari Krishna manifest with the heart and halo of His eternal consort, Radharani.

The Lord’s audarya-lila (Pastimes of magnanimity), give the jiva-souls entrance into His madhurya-lila (Pastimes of sweetness). As Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the Lord could show His Radha-Krishna-lila like a jewel; He could reveal all of its facets and glory. During His appearance as Krishna, the Lord enjoyed His madhurya-lila personally; He did not distribute entrance into His madhurya-lila to the jiva-souls. But in His audarya-lila as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the Lord actively distributes His madhurya-lila everywhere. Because of this Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s audarya-lila is honoured by the devotees as more than Krishna’s lila.

Srimad Bhagavatam describes how Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu distributes Himself and His gift of Krishna-prema, as well as how He gives the souls entrance into His madhurya-lila.

krsna-varnam tvisakrsnam sangopangastra-parsadam
yajnaih sankirtana-prayair yajanti hi sumedhasah

(Srimad Bhagavatam: 11.5.32)

“Krishna will take form as Lord Gauranga to distribute divine love and His divine form through His Divine Name. He will distribute everything through the sankirtan mahayajna, the great sacrifice of chanting the Lord’s Holy Names in congregation. He will be Krsna-varnam tvisakrsnam: He will always chant the Holy Name ‘Krishna’, and His form will have a golden effulgence. Sangopangastra parsadam yajnaih sankirtana: with His associates—Nityananda Prabhu, Advaita Acharya, Gadadhar Pandit, Srivas Thakur, and so on—He will chant, dance, and engage everyone in the sacrifice of Hari-nam-sankirtan. Yajanti hi sumedhasah: all the fortunate souls will practise the procedure He distributes and feel Krishna-prema in their hearts.”

Meeting with Ramananda Ray

During His Pastimes, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu first revealed His true identity as Radha-Krishna combined to His dear devotee Ramananda Ray on the bank of the Godavari River. Mahaprabhu chose to bestow His divine mercy upon all conditioned souls through Ramananda Ray. Within their conversation, which you can find in Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta, Madhya-lila, Chapter 8, the full conception and gift that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came to give to the world is presented. Everything is explained there. If you read it, then you will understand how people will enter Krishna consciousness, how they will proceed in their practising life, how they will offer themselves to Krishna, amd how Krishna will accept their service—you will understand everything.

In the final portion of their meeting, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu revealed His internal identity and hidden Pastimes to Ramananda Ray. Mahaprabhu began their conversation by asking Ramananda, “Pada sloka sadhyera nirnaya (Cc: Madhya, 8.57): please recite a verse that reveals the ultimate goal of our lives.”

Ramananda replied with a verse, but Mahaprabhu said, “Eho bahya, age kaha ara: this is external. Go deeper.”

Ramananda recited another verse, but Mahaprabhu rejected it: “Oh! You are cheating Me! Eho bahya, age kaha ara: this is not the answer. Tell Me more.”

Mahaprabhu rejected one, two, three, four answers of Ramananda in this way: “Eho bahya, age kaha ara: this is not appropriate. You know more, so tell Me more.”

By rejecting his verses Mahaprabhu was teaching Ramananda, but Ramananda was also testing Mahaprabhu. Ramananda was suspicious about whether a sannyasi would accept Radha-Krishna-lila as supreme, and did not want to mention it right away. He first glorified varnasram-dharma, and other elementary stages.

In this way Mahaprabhu examined Ramananda, and Ramananda examined Mahaprabhu. Finally, when they found very good relations between each other, they discussed the very essence of Krishna consciousness. Ramananda described and supported raga-marg-seva to Radha-Krishna as supreme and Mahaprabhu was very, very happy. Ramananda said, “Ihara madhye Radhara prema—‘sadhya-siromani’: real service to Krishna is given by Radharani, and Radharani’s prema, which is the greatest amongst all the gopis, is the topmost perfection.”

Mahaprabhu was so satisfied to hear this, and after Ramananda described many things about Radha-Krishna’s madhura-rasa-lila, He said, “Yes. What you are describing is supreme, but is there anything more?”

Ramananda replied, “I cannot conceive that anyone could ask about anything more than this. I cannot find any verses from the scriptures that go beyond this, but if You like, You can hear something from me that may be satisfying to You.” Then Ramananda began to recite one of his own compositions:

pahilehi raga nayana-bhange bhela
anudina badhala, avadhi na gela
na so ramana, na hama ramani
duhu-mana manobhava pesala jani’[87]

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 8.193)

This is the most extreme expression of madhura-rasa, and Mahaprabhu finally covered Ramananda’s mouth with His own hand when He heard this expression. In this way, lastly, Ramananda surrendered to Mahaprabhu, and Mahaprabhu surrendered to Ramananda.

Bewildered by love

Student: Can you explain a little bit about Ramananda Ray’s poem? Is it impossible for us to understand?

Srila Govinda Maharaj: It is not for public discussion actually. That poem is Ramananda Ray’s highest answer to Mahaprabhu’s question about the goal of life. Chandi Das also gave us one of Radharani’s songs:

keba sunaila syama-nama
kanera bhitara diya marame pasila go
akula karila mama prana

na jani kateka madhu syama-name achhe go
parana chhadite nahi pare
japite, japite nama avasa karila go,
kemane paiba sai, tare

nama-paratape yara aichhana karila go
angera parase kiba haya
yekhane vasati tara nayane heriya go
yuvati dharama kaichhe raya

pasarite kari mane pasara na yaya go
ki karibe ki habe upaya
kahe dvija chandi-dase kulavati kula-nase
apanara yauvana yachaya[88]

After hearing Krishna’s Name Radharani is moved. Inspiration to dedicate oneself comes through Krishna’s Name. That is the meaning of this song.

In Ramananda Ray’s song Radharani says, “When Krishna and I first saw each other, We became attracted to each other.” Krishna is naturally attracted to Radharani, and Radharani is naturally attracted to Krishna. The Power and Powerful cannot be differentiated, yet Krishna is the Powerful, and Radharani is the Power. They exist eternally in two forms, but They can become so attracted to one another that They cannot differentiate Themselves from one another. This song explains that this situation comes to Them. Radharani wonders, “How is it that Krishna is in Mathura and I am here?” She tells a friend, “Today this situation has come: I cannot differentiate Myself from Krishna. So, I am sending you as an ambassador to Krishna to ask Him, ‘What is this? Is this real love? Real attachment?’”

Many things are inside this song of Ramananda Ray. Radharani wonders, “I do not know if I am woman and Krishna is man, or I am man and Krishna is woman. What is the truth? I have forgotten everything because such strong love, beauty, and charm have taken possession of Me.”

Student: Are you saying the conclusion is that Radha and Krishna’s identities merge?

Srila Govinda Maharaj: So many things are inside this song, but they are not for public discussion. Here mayavadis take the opportunity to say, “That is our situation”, but it is not. Simply we can say that strong love and affection can make a person blind and unable to see anything except some positive light, just as very bright light blinds the eye.

Sriman Mahaprabhu’s hidden identity

After hearing from Ramananda Ray, Mahaprabhu was so happy that He could not hide His internal form from Ramananda. When their discourses were almost finished, Ramananda became very surprised by how Mahaprabhu’s divine form appeared to him. He knew what he was seeing, but he could not believe it. He asked Mahaprabhu:

pahile dekhilu tomara sannyasi-svarupa
ebe toma dekhi muni syama-gopa-rupa
tomara sammukhe dekhi kanchana-panchalika
tara gaura-kantye tomara sarva anga dhaka

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 8.268–269)

“Prabhu, what is this? What am I seeing? It is Your form, but I cannot believe it. At first I saw You as a sannyasi, a glorious sannyasi no doubt. But now I am not seeing You as only a sannyasi: inside You I am seeing Krishna Himself, and He appears to have the heart of Radharani and to be covered by Her halo. What is this?”

Mahaprabhu first tried to hide Himself from Ramananda. Mahaprabhu said, “Oh! You are a great Krishna-bhakta! You have so much love for Krishna that you see Krishna’s presence everywhere. Now you are looking at Me, and because you see Krishna everywhere, you are seeing Me as Krishna. Why would you not see Krishna within Me?”

Ramananda Ray replied very strongly:

raya kahe, “prabhu tumi chhada bhari-bhuri
mora age nija-rupa na kariha churi

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 8.278)

“Prabhu, why are You trying to cheat me? I understand who You are; You cannot hide Your identity from Me. I can see that You are the divine form of Radha-Krishna combined, and it is not an illusion. Please do not cheat me. Tell me the truth. You have come here to see me and show me Your divine form. Why are You now hiding Yourself?”

Mahaprabhu said, “Bhakti-bale para tumi brahmanda sodhite: you know everything; what can I say? The power of your devotion can purify the whole universe. You are My very exclusive devotee, and I cannot hide Myself in front of you. Really, I am what you are seeing.”

tabe hasi’ tare prabhu dekhaila svarupa
‘rasa-raja’, ‘mahabhava’—dui eka rupa

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 8.282)

Mahaprabhu smiled and showed Ramananda His full divine form as Rasaraj-Mahabhava—Radha-Krishna—combined: as the emporium of all rasa combined with the reservoir of all divine ecstasy.

dekhi’ ramananda haila anande murchchhite
dharite na pare deha, padila bhumite

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 8.283)

When Ramananda saw Mahaprabhu’s form as Krishna fully manifested with Radharani’s heart and halo, he could not stand; he fainted to the ground unconscious. Mahaprabhu touched Ramananda’s body, and Ramananda returned to his normal consciousness. Ramananda then saw Mahaprabhu as a sannyasi again and became puzzled. Mahaprabhu said,

ami—eka batula, tumi—dvitiya batula
ataeva tomaya amaya ha-i sama-tula

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 8.291)

“I am crazy, and you are also crazy. No one else has seen this divine form of Mine as Radha-Krishna combined, but it is My own true form. Do not tell others that you have seen this form. Keep what you have seen hidden in your heart.”

The most merciful Avatar

The hidden treasure of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s divine identity first came out in this way through the heart of Ramananda Ray. Later Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu fully spread this consciousness to Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu wanted the flow of His mercy to continue in this world after His presence here, so when Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu met Srila Rupa Goswami in Prayag, He personally taught Srila Rupa Goswami everything He had revealed to Ramananda Ray. Later, Mahaprabhu told all His devotees, “I have given everything to Rupa Goswami.” In this way He identified Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu as His successor. So there is no question whether there is a continuation of the flow of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s mercy.

Later, by Mahaprabhu’s mercy, Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu composed some verses which gloriously and perfectly explain Mahaprabhu’s appearance and gift to the world:

namo maha-vadanyaya krsna-prema-pradaya te
krsnaya krsna-chaitanya-namne gaura-tvise namah

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 19.53)

Maha is used as a superlative in this verse: “No one is more merciful, or has ever given more, than Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who appeared to distribute Krishna-prema to everyone.”

Only Mahaprabhu can be known as the mahavadanya Avatar because only He has fully distributed Krishna-prema to the world. So many forms of the Lord have appeared in the world to bless the jiva-souls. Among them Krishna and His Vrndavan-lila are supreme, but Gauranga Mahaprabhu is more merciful than Krishna. Mahaprabhu is Krishna Himself appearing in the form of His devotee. A devotee’s nature is to distribute Krishna, and when Krishna Himself is a devotee, then He distributes mercy to the conditioned souls in the most merciful mood. And there is no question whether He can bestow His own mercy!

Sometimes we see that when the government of a country changes or some very respectable persons come to a country, prisoners are released. Sometimes thousands of prisoners are released. Similarly, when Krishna appears as a devotee, everything changes, and He freely gives the souls His full mercy. He can give Himself, and there can be no opposition to that by any law. So Mahaprabhu Sri Chaitanyadev is the supreme giver of His own self, and by His merciful appearance all souls can receive the supreme spiritual fortune: Krishna-prema.

Distributing pure love

The souls of this Kali-yuga are so fortunate because they are receiving the most special form of mercy in a very wide way. Without Mahaprabhu it is very rare to get a connection with Krishna and His lila in Vrndavan, where He plays with the gopis. Krishna has so many Avatars: Yuga-avatars, Lila-avatars, Manvantar-avatars, Saktyaves-avatars, and so on. To get a connection with Krishna in His original form, the ever-playful Sweet Absolute, who He is enjoying with the gopis in madhurya-lila, is very rare. Only when Krishna Himself wants to distribute that is it possible to enter there; only through Sriman Mahaprabhu’s audarya-lila can we enter Krishna’s madhurya-lila.

In a more exclusive way we can say that Krishna does not have full right to distribute Himself or entrance into His Pastimes. Only Krishna’s chief potency, Srimati Radharani, who has ‘all rights reserved’ over Krishna, can fully distribute Krishna and Krishna-prema. When Krishna appears as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, with the heart and halo of His supreme devotee, Radharani, He has the opportunity to distribute Himself, that is, Radharani distributes Her own divine mood of ecstatic love for Krishna.

The mood of a devotee is to always distribute, and Radharani is always merciful. She does not want to taste the sweetness of Krishna’s Pastimes alone. Anusange prema-maya kaile tribhuvana (Cc: Madhya, 8.280): Mahaprabhu, as Radha-Krishna combined, could not hide His mood; He distributed Krishna-prema to everyone, and for that He is truly the supremely merciful form of the Lord (the mahavadanya Avatar). The Lord proved that He is infinitely merciful and that He attracts all souls and fills their hearts with ecstasy (Krishna-prema) by appearing as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

The golden gift of the golden Lord

Mahaprabhu appeared as the Yuga-avatar to rescue the conditioned souls through Hari-nam-sankirtan. This is the external cause of His appearance, but there is also some speciality within that. Mahaprabhu is the combined form of Radharani and the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna. When He comes in that way, the power of His gift in sankirtan is much more than that of a general Yuga-avatar, who comes in other Kali-yugas to spread the yuga-dharma. If normally someone would feel 10 per cent of the power of sankirtan, then they will feel 50 per cent or 100 per cent of Hari-nam-sankirtan’s power when it is distributed by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu described the gift which Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu distributed with His supreme power:

anarpita-charim chirat karunayavatirnah kalau
samarpayitum unnatojjvala-rasam sva-bhakti-sriyam
harih purata-sundara-dyuti-kadamba-sandipitah
sada hrdaya-kandare sphuratu vah sachi-nandanah

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Adi-lila, 1.4)

Anarpita-charim chirat karunayavatirnah kalau: so many forms of the Lord have appeared in this world—Matsya, Kurma, Vaman, Balaram, Krishna, and so on—and so many previous Yuga-avatars have appeared to fulfil Their purposes. But in this Kali-yuga, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has given the world the most hidden treasure that has never been given before by anyone at any time anywhere.

Samarpayitum unnatojjvala-rasam sva-bhakti-sriyam: Mahaprabhu not only gave the greatest mercy to the souls, with the greatest power through sankirtan, He also gave them the highest possible attainment: the supreme process of serving the Lord. Unnatojjvala-rasam means the most elevated rasa: madhura-rasa. Mahaprabhu gave souls entrance into that most elevated type of love, attachment, and service. The five rasas—santa, dasya, sakhya, vatsalya, and madhura—are compared to types of metals: copper, silver, gold, and so on. Gold holds the highest rank, and Mahaprabhu Sri Gaurangadev, the golden Avatar, who appeared in Radharani’s golden colour, gave the highest, golden rasa of madhura-rasa.

Harih purata-sundara-dyuti-kadamba-sandipitah: throughout His Pastimes the condensed brightness of Mahaprabhu’s beautiful golden form appeared more exalted than freshly cut, glimmering gold.

Sada hrdaya-kandare sphuratu vah Sachi-nandanah: we pray that the golden Lord Sri Gaurangadev may reveal His full golden form and golden gift in our hearts.

It was only possible for the Lord to show the exclusive and supreme position of extreme paramour love in madhura-rasa, in His Pastimes as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Only when the Lord appeared with Radharani’s heart and halo, with Her ati-gudha mahabhava (most confidential ecstatic love) could the glory of madhura-rasa be fully revealed. The other Kali-yuga-avatars do not appear with Radharani’s heart and halo; the other Kali-yuga-avatars distribute Hari-nam-sankirtan, but they do not taste Radharani’s love for Krishna internally. Only in Svayam Bhagavan Krishna’s special appearance as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu does the Lord engage in those Pastimes. He does that for Himself, for His own interest, but at the same time the souls in this Kali-yuga become most fortunate.

Radha-Krishna’s glory

We can truly understand the identity of Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is ever-playful in Vrndavan with His flute and the gopas and gopis, through the appearance of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

sarvadbhuta-chamatkara-lila-kallola-varidhih
atulya-madhura-prema-mandita-priya-mandalah
tri-jagan-manasakarsi-murali-kala-kujitah
asamanordhva-rupa-sri-vismapita-characharah

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 23.82–83)

“Krishna’s divine Pastimes astonish everyone, His madhurya-lila is supreme, His flute melts everyone’s heart, and His divine form’s beauty is incomparable.”

These are the most exalted glories of Krishna’s Vrndavan-lila. Everyone is astonished by Krishna: Narayan, Baladev, and even Krishna Himself. That is why Krishna-lila is supreme. Krishna Himself is enchanted by His own Pastimes, and He proved this by appearing as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s appearance also shows Radharani’s supreme position. When Krishna wanted to appear to taste Himself fully, He did so by taking Radharani’s heart. We can understand through Krishna’s choice that Radharani must have the topmost devotion for Krishna. Beyond this we can also understand that Her devotion makes Her position even higher than Krishna’s because He desired to taste Her mood.

Srila Svarup Damodar has described these confidential aspects of Mahaprabhu’s appearance:

sri-radhayah pranaya-mahima kidrso vanayaiva-
svadyo yenadbhuta-madhurima kidrso va madiyah
saukhyam chasya mad-anubhavatah kidrsam veti lobhat
tad-bhavadhyah samajani sachi-garbha-sindhau harinduh

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Adi-lila, 1.6)

“When Krishna wanted to know how deeply Krishna-prema is present within Radharani’s heart, how much She tastes Him, how She serves Him, how She feels separation from Him—when Krishna wanted to know everything in this way—He appeared from the ocean of Mother Sachi Devi’s womb as Harindu: the golden moon Sri Gauranga. With the stolen heart and halo of Radharani Krishna engaged in tasting Radharani’s ecstasy (mahabhava).”

When the Sweet Absolute wanted to taste His own super-sweetness, His own loving mood, and the supreme love expanded from Goloka Vrndavan, He manifested in the form of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. This is the only way Krishna could taste Himself fully. Radharani has the highest mood of devotion, and without Her mood He could not taste Himself fully.

Loving affairs

If we want to try to understand the supreme position of Radharani’s devotional mood, which Mahaprabhu appeared to taste, then we must understand something about the loving affairs of Radharani and Krishna. Radharani and Krishna lived together in Their youth in Vrndavan, enjoying the play of Their intimate love. Eventually Krishna, externally, left to protect Vrndavan and fulfil His mission as the Yuga-avatar. For Radharani, both Krishna’s Vrndavan-lila and His Mathura-lila—His lila outside of Vrndavan—are filled with mahabhava, supreme ecstasy.

After Krishna left Vrndavan, Radharani felt unlimited separation from Him. During Her separation from Krishna the depths of Her ecstatic love were revealed. And Krishna, wanting to know the depth of the love for Him which She felt in separation, appeared as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

Radharani felt many different types of separation from Krishna, and those moods have been expressed by different Vaisnava poets. Srila Bilvamangal Thakur wrote,

tvach-chhaisavam tri-bhuvanadbhutam ity avehi
mach-chapalam cha tava va mama vadhigamyam
tat kim karomi viralam murali-vilasi
mugdham mukhambujam udiksitum iksanabhyam[89]

(Sri Krsna-karnamrta: 32)

Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami translated into Bengali this verse from Krsna-karnamrta which expresses Radharani’s feelings of separation from Krishna:

tomara madhuri-bala tate mora chapala
ei dui, tumi ami jani
kaha karo kaha yan kaha gele toma pan
taha more kaha ta’ apani

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 2.62)

“The attractive power of Your sweetness, the wonder of Your Pastimes, and Your flute-playing in Your youth are impossible to imagine. How much My activity mixed with Your activity in Our youth is known only to You and somewhat to Me. Only You and I know how We played together during Our youth. No one else can understand this. What right or wrong We have done, what good or bad We have done in Our youth, that even We cannot understand. But it has happened. We did not know then how I became attracted to You and how You became attracted to Me. Now those days have passed, and with the property of Our relationship in My heart, I am feeling separation from You which is too painful for Me. What shall I do now?”

Radharani’s deepest mood of separation from Krishna is called vipralambha: union in separation. We cannot express this type of separation. We do not know how to express this type of separation, and our language will never be sufficient to express it. But we can express something that we have heard from Srila Guru Maharaj.

Within the deepest friendship, the deepest relationship in madhura-rasa with Krishna, Radharani felt separation from Krishna to be like a fire-bed. Vipralambha means the most extreme mood of separation. After Krishna left Vrndavan Dham, Radharani tasted that most extreme sentiment: union in separation.

sthavara-jangama dekhe, na dekhe tara murti
sarvatra haya tara ista-deva-sphurti

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 8.274)

In the mood of vipralambha, when Radharani was separate from Krishna, She would see Krishna in front of Her, all around Her—everywhere—and try to embrace Him.

krsna-mayi—krsna yara bhitare bahire
yaha yaha netra pade taha krsna sphure

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Adi-lila, 4.85)

Everywhere Radharani would see Krishna with Her. When She would go for a walk She would see Krishna all around Her, and everywhere She would try to embrace Him. She would be separate from Krishna but feel filled with Krishna’s presence. From moment to moment She would feel Krishna’s presence and then feel separate from Him. Every day, all the time, union with Krishna would come to Her and then leave Her. Lastly, She would think Krishna was only a dream, feel hopeless, and show Herself in the most helpless way. Radharani’s love for Krishna is most rare and exists only in Goloka Vrndavan. Her prema is known as ati-gudha mahabhava, the most confidential form of ecstatic love.

The extremes of separation

Srimati Radharani’s most extreme mood of vipralambha is expressed in this verse,

ayi dina-dayardra-natha he
mathura-natha kadavalokyase
hrdayam tvad-aloka-kataram
dayita bhramyati kim karomy aham[90]

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 4.197)

Her mood here is like someone who was extremely wealthy but has lost all of Her wealth and now has no property at all. Ayi Dina-dayardra-natha he: She cannot feel Her own property and calls out to Krishna as though She is very, very poor.

devi krsna-mayi prokta radhika para-devata
sarva-laksmi-mayi sarva-kantih sammohini para

(Brhad-Gautamiya-tantra)

Radharani is the supreme proprietor of everything—love, beauty, charm, attachment, wealth, and so on—but in separation from Krishna She feels She has nothing. She cannot feel Her own wealth because of the intensity of Her feelings of separation from Krishna. She gives up everything and expresses Her feelings to Krishna: “You are My dearmost, and I cannot tolerate Your separation. But I cannot say that fully because I am not getting any hope from You. My dear friend, You have not given Me the wealth of any hope. Ayi Dina-dayardra-natha: You are merciful to those who are very poor. Can’t You see Me in front of You? I am very, very poor!

“O Mathuranath, before You were Vrndavanesvar [the Lord of Vrndavan]. You were Rasesvar [the enjoyer of the Rasa dance]. You were Radha Raman [He who pleases Radha]. You filled My heart with joy in Our intimate relationship. You were fully present in Your Vrndavan-lila with Myself and all the Vraja-gopis. But now You have left and become the king of Mathura Mandal. Now You are Mathuranath, the Lord of Mathura. You are no longer Vrndavannath, the Lord of Vrndavan. What can I say? Kadavalokyase: I want to see You. At least I want to see You. Hrdayam Tvad-aloka-kataram: not seeing You has given so much pain to Me, to My heart. Dayita bhramyati kim karomy Aham: what shall I do now? I do not know. I feel there is nothing I can do, but I also cannot tolerate Your separation. Feeling such extreme separation from You, I cannot leave My body, but I also cannot stay within My body.” This verse is the heart-expression of Radharani.

mahabhava-svarupa sri-radha-thakurani
sarva-guna-khani krsna-kanta-siromani

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta, Adi-lila, 4.69)

“Radharani is Mahabhava Herself, the supreme servitor of Krishna.”

Who can express what is in Her heart? Who can feel and express Radharani’s deepest, hopeless mood of separation?

ei sloka kahiyachhena radha-thakurani
tara krpaya sphuriyachhe madhavendra-vani

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 4.194)

Only She Herself could reveal the full depth of Her separation from Krishna. By Her grace only, Her feelings manifested in this world through the heart of Madhavendra Puri. Madhavendra Puri tasted Radharani’s ecstatic mood of separation through this verse, ayi Dina-dayardra-natha he, as he departed from this world.

sesa-kale ei sloka pathite pathite
siddhi-prapti haila purira slokera sahite

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 4.196)

When Madhavendra Puri was leaving his body he constantly recited this verse and expressed its meaning. Later, Mahaprabhu Sri Chaitanyadev tasted Radharani’s mood of devotion through this verse of Madhavendra Puri. In Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta it is described that when Mahaprabhu visited the Temple of Gopinath in Remuna He was overcome with the mood of vipralambha expressed in this verse. He recited this verse only once or twice and then was unable to speak any further.

‘ayi dina, ayi dina’ bale bara-bara
kanthe na nihsare vani, netre asru-dhara

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 4.201)

He could only say, “Ayi dina! Ayi dina! I am so poor! I have nothing!” Over and over again this was all He could say. Crying in this mood of vipralambha, He fainted and fell to the floor of Gopinath’s Temple.

kiba gaurachandra iha kare asvadana
iha asvadite ara nahi chautha-jana

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 4.195)

“Mahaprabhu tasted the meaning of this verse and in that way opened the door of Krishna-prema. No fourth man in this mundane world has tasted this verse like that. Only Radharani, Madhavendra Puri, and Mahaprabhu Sri Chaitanyadev have tasted the meaning.”

This verse and the description of its manifestation in this world is explained by Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami in his Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta, so we can also say that Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami has given us this verse. He tells us that no one else can understand this verse’s meaning. He means that the deepest meanings of this verse cannot be opened by anyone. But Kaviraj Goswami himself opened a door to this verse for us through his Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta. He did not open every door; He opened one door. Through that he gave some nourishment to others. There are many other doors to this verse, and he said, “Now I will not say anything more. What will be will be.” So we can say that he knows the meaning of the verse perfectly and that he is the fourth man who can taste it because he knows and is telling us that no one else can taste its meaning.

We will also say though that by the grace of Radharani, Madhavendra Puri, Kaviraj Goswami, and our Guru Maharaj, we can feel something of this verse’s meaning. Srila Guru Maharaj was very much intoxicated with this verse and many times we heard from him his heart’s expression of this verse. By the grace of Srila Guru Maharaj we know something of what is inside this verse. But what I have explained here about this verse is, no doubt, external. It only follows the language of the verse and is an explanation of this verse’s external meaning.

Radharani’s love and Krishna’s desire

We can understand that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s Pastimes come as the next edition of Radha-Krishna’s eternal Pastimes.[91] Krishna wanted to taste the depth of Radharani’s love and feelings of separation from Him; He wanted to taste His own beauty and love through Radharani’s supreme devotional mood. He Himself took Radharani’s heart and halo to appear in the form of Mahaprabhu, merged into His Kali-yuga-avatar form, and descended to the material world with His associates, abode, and so on. Srila Svarup Damodar has explained this clearly for us:

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)

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is Krishna Himself, but He has now become the divine form of Radha and Krishna combined to taste Radharani’s Krishna-prema. Radharani and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu are actually nondifferent. Mahaprabhu appeared to taste the divine ecstasy of Krishna-prema in the way that Radharani tastes it and to see the way She gives Krishna super joy and ecstasy through Her love, affection, charm, beauty, and so on. That is the hidden purpose of Krishna’s appearance as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. ⬆︎

Chapter Twenty

The Finest Conception

When you are conscious, you want to eat something, you want to feel something, you want to do something, you want to enjoy something. You want a life in which everything is palatable and beautiful. In your room you choose your lights, your windows, different kinds of decorations, and so on. You make everything the way you like it. Your very nature shows that you want a beautiful life.

Where does beauty exist? How can we find beauty? There is a nice story in the Puranas about Mother Laksmi Devi’s owl-carrier which explains this. Once, Mother Laksmi Devi tested her owl by giving her a garland of pearls and saying, “Give this garland to whomever you think is most beautiful. Go out and search. When you find someone who appears most beautiful to you, give them this garland.”

The owl went out and searched all over the whole world for anyone, any animal, human or thing, who had completely attractive beauty. Everywhere she went, she could always find some deficiency. She saw so many persons who were beautiful but she could always find some deficiency in them. Finally she became thirsty and returned to her home. When she saw her child, she immediately felt, “Oh! So beautiful!” and gave the pearl garland to her child. Later Mother Laksmi Devi asked, “What happened in your search?” The owl replied, “I went around the whole world but I did not see anyone who was perfectly beautiful. Finally I became thirsty and went to my house. There I saw that my own child was so beautiful! I gave the garland to her.”

Vision of love

So, where is beauty? Beauty is in the heart. We see beauty through the love and affection in our heart. If someone wants to dissect everything then everything will appear ugly to them. Sometimes people say, “That person has a beautiful face.” Where is the beauty of that person’s face? If you perform a dissection in a laboratory will you find the beauty of that person’s face? No. You will find blood, tissue, DNA, and so on.

You will never find beauty if you search for it externally. Beauty exists within our consciousness. When we understand this then everything around us will become auspicious and beautiful to us through the love and affection we hold in our hearts.

premanjana-chchhurita-bhakti-vilochanena
santah sadaiva hrdayesu vilokayanti[92]

(Sri Brahma-samhita: 5.38)

Nothing will feel beautiful to you if you do not have love and affection (prema) within your heart. When your heart’s eyes are decorated with love and affection then everything in front of you appears very beautiful. The vision necessary to see universal beauty comes to us through devotion (bhakti).

Many times Srila Guru Maharaj explained, “Beauty is controlling everything.” His expression, “Search for Sri Krishna—Reality the Beautiful” means that beauty is controlling everything. How does beauty come to us? Through love and affection for our Lord. We actually want to play and stay with our Lord in a beautiful place filled with beautiful paraphernalia and surrounded by a beautiful atmosphere. The first condition for this is devotion, and devotion will come through dedication. So everything—love, affection, beauty, devotion, dedication—is related and exists within the one chamber of our hearts.

sadhyam tat-pritim evety upadisati janan gaura-chandrah svayam sah
(Dasa-mula-tattva-niryasa)

Sadhya means what you want, your destination, your ultimate hankering. Mahaprabhu taught us, sadhyam tat-pritim: our sadhya is love for the Lord, as well as love for ourselves. When you have love for the Lord, love automatically returns to you.

tach chatmane prati-mukhasya yatha mukha-srih
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 7.9.11)

If you put on tilak, in the mirror you will see that your face is beautifully decorated with tilak. Everything you give to your Lord returns to you a thousand times more beautiful. That is priti, Krishna-prema, our supreme aspiration, and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has given that consciousness to us.

Full nourishment

The practice of Krishna consciousness is our life, and it is necessary to practise that in a fair and perfect way. In our practising life, faith is the basis and love is our food. If our love for Krishna increases then everything increases. If we realise what we have received from our Gurudev—pure consciousness of Sri Krishna—then in everything—every song, every verse, every advice, every thought—we will feel, “My existence is present there.”

All Krishna conscious expressions have a very sweet nature.

tad eva ramyam ruchiram navam navam
tad eva sasvan manaso mahotsavam
tad eva sokarnava-sosanam nrnam
yad uttamahsloka-yaso ’nugiyate

(Srimad Bhagavatam: 12.12.50)

Tad eva ramyam: Krishna consciousness is very tasteful, beautiful, and ecstatic. Ruchiram navam navam: it can reveal new light and inspiration at every moment. As someone hears about Krishna consciousness he will not be satisfied by hearing only a little bit of discussion; he will want to hear more and more. Tad eva sasvan manaso mahotsavam: Krishna consciousness always gives everyone’s heart the transcendental feeling of a great festival, just as we always happily expect there will be many varieties of very palatable mahaprasadam on a festival day. Krishna consciousness is like a generator: it may be a little difficult to start, but once it is going and giving power it will run happily and give more and more light to everyone’s heart. When Krishna consciousness once enters the heart and receives good nourishment there, it will sprout, grow happily, and become strong enough to bind an elephant. Pariksit Maharaj said,

yach-chhrnvatam rasa-jnanam svadu svadu pade pade
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 1.1.19)

“If you discuss Krishna consciousness as much as possible at every moment, very tasteful nectar will come to you again and again and take on newer and newer forms.”

Vedavyas also said,

nigama-kalpa-taror galitam phalam
suka-mukhad amrta-drava-samyutam
pibata bhagavatam rasam alayam
muhur aho rasika bhuvi bhavukah

(Srimad Bhagavatam: 1.1.3)

Krishna consciousness is like a very sweet ripened fruit that has neither skin nor a seed. As you taste it, at every moment it gives you more and more ecstatic feelings and strength.

bhaktih paresanubhavo viraktir
anyatra chaisa trika eka-kalah
prapadyamanasya yathasnatah syus
tustih pustih ksud-apayo ’nu-ghasam

(Srimad Bhagavatam: 11.2.42)

How will you know whether you have Krishna consciousness or not? You will feel it just as a hungry person feels the effects of taking prasadam: with every mouthful that prasadam gives good taste, good nourishment, and removes hunger. When Krishna consciousness is revealed in our hearts, our devotional feelings and activity will increase, we will feel the joy and happiness of a connection with Krishna in our hearts, and we will experience detachment from mundane attractions, the end of our hunger for material things.

Hankering for Krishna-prema

Krishna consciousness has no end. The Upanisads say,

om purnam adah purnam idam purnat purnam udachyate
purnasya purnam adaya purnam evavasisyate

(Brhad-aranyaka-upanisad: 5.1.1)

“Krishna consciousness is infinite, and a sincere seeker will really get that type of ecstasy—infinite ecstasy—through Krishna consciousness.”

As Krishna consciousness reveals itself more and more in our hearts we may even become mad. What did Mahaprabhu Himself say?

na prema-gandho ’sti darapi me harau
krandami saubhagya-bharam prakasitum
vamsi-vilasy-anana-lokanam vina
bibharmi yat prana-patangakan vrtha

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 2.45)

“Really, I have no love for Krishna. If I did then how could I be alive? I am living without Krishna, so how can I say I have love for Krishna?”

Mahaprabhu is full of Krishna-prema, but His heart’s expression is, “Na prema-gandho ’sti darapi Me Harau: I do not have even a little bit of hankering for Krishna.”

Actually, Mahaprabhu was hankering for Krishna-prema so much, and He showed us the degree of hankering that is necessary for Krishna consciousness. He showed us that if we clearly and perfectly, without any haziness, realise that we need Krishna-prema, then even Krishna will not be able to check us. We will get it. If I am very disturbed by the mundane environment and I sincerely pray to Krishna, “Please give me Krishna-prema”, then Krishna must give that to me.

Krishna knows everything, and Krishna understands everything. Krishna is everywhere, and His divine play as the Sweet Absolute never stops. Even if Krishna does not want to give Krishna-prema to us, His devotees will (patitanam pavanebhyo). Sometimes Krishna likes to hide, but His devotees are always merciful. If they see anyone drowning they will rescue him. The devotees will always give full support to a hankering soul.

Even if Krishna ousts me from His jurisdiction, I still have hope if I have hankering for the service of Krishna under the affectionate guidance of His devotees. That is my life experience; it is not only a theory. I have seen many things in my life, and through that I am sure that even if Krishna wants to oust me, He will not be able to if I have the affection of His devotees. So only self-realisation is necessary: “Do I want Krishna-prema or not?”

krsna-bhakti-rasa-bhavita matih
kriyatam yadi kuto ’pi labhyate
tatra laulyam api mulyam ekalam
janma-koti-sukrtair na labhyate[93]

(Padyavali: 14)

We need transcendental ecstasy. We do not want sadness, sorrow, or inauspiciousness. We always need the opposite. We need something eternal, glorious, and beautiful. There is only one way to get that: hankering. Hankering gives us real property in our spiritual life.

If I have hankering for Krishna-prema then I must search, “Where is Krishna-prema?” It is very rare, but if I find anyone who has Krishna-prema in their heart, then I must try to get his association. Through that person I can understand what Krishna-prema is, how much I need it, how much I will be satisfied by it, and so on. I will be able to understand everything through the sadhu who has Krishna-prema in his heart.

All the scriptures always praise the sadhus. A sadhu is chaste, honest, and dedicated to the Lord with extreme love and affection. If we have a connection with a sadhu, with our Guru, and we are conscious about that, then we can receive prema, love and affection, from him on the conscious level. Love and affection are transmitted from consciousness to consciousness, from heart to heart.

The presence of love within the sadhu’s consciousness can be transmitted to you and transform your consciousness. Hankering is our first necessity. Without hankering we will not find that sadhu or Krishna-prema. Many frustrated persons are searching in the wrong way. Our search should be filled with happiness, peace, and beauty. In that way we will seek, “Is it here or there?” If we are frustrated in one place then we must look in another place, and wherever we can find the devotional mood of Krishna-prema we must immediately buy it with our hankering. Hankering can give us everything. But kriyatam does not mean, “Try to buy it.” Kriyatam means, “Buy it!” The price of Krishna-prema is hankering. Without hankering, without intense desire, we will never get Krishna-prema, even if we have an ocean of sukrti. The only qualification and means is hankering, and without that we will not get anything.

Intoxicated with mundane activity

During the Ratha Yatra Mahaprabhu prayed to Lord Jagannath:

naham vipro na cha nara-patir napi vaisyo na sudro
naham varni na cha grha-patir no vanastho yatir va
kintu prodyan-nikhila-paramananda-purnamrtabdher
gopi-bhartuh pada-kamalayor dasa-dasanudasah

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 13.80)

“We are not brahmans, ksatriyas, vaisyas, or sudras. We are not sannyasis, vanaprasthas, grhasthas, or brahmacharis. Our identity is not mundane. We are eternal servants of the servants of the servants of Reality the Beautiful Sri Krishna. Gopi-bhartuh pada-kamalayor dasa-dasanudasah: we are the servants of the servants of the servant of the cowherd boy of Vrndavan who is the protector, prestige, and everything of the gopis. That Krishna is our enjoyer, and all our service is meant to supply enjoyment to Him.”

This is the conception of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and through His conception we are approaching Guru–Vaisnava with strong faith and hankering to be engaged in service. How we can properly serve the servants of Radha-Krishna according to Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s conception in our lives has been revealed by Prabhupad Srila Saraswati Thakur.

Our Param Gurudev, Srila Saraswati Thakur, composed a Bengali song during the inauguration festival of the Bag Bazaar Gaudiya Math in Kolkata. Before that ashram opened Srila Saraswati Thakur and his disciples stayed in a rented house in Ultadanga. One gentleman, Jagabandhu Prabhu, donated three lakhs of rupees to Prabhupad so that he could establish the Kolkata headquarters of his Mission. Today that would equal a donation of at least one crore of rupees. All of Prabhupad’s disciples were very happy and enjoyed their new ashram very much. All the activities of an ashram externally look like material activities (visay). Internally they are the service of Guru and Gauranga, but externally they look like material activities: eating, sleeping, singing, dancing, and so on (visaya-ranga).

When the festival was held for the inauguration of the new ashram a Ratha Yatra style procession brought the Deities Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Gandharvika Giridhari from Ultadanga to Bag Bazaar. At that time Srila Saraswati Thakur composed this line explaining the activities of his Mission:

pujala raga-patha gaurava-bhange
matala sadhu-jana visaya-range[94]

Here Srila Saraswati Thakur explains that the sadhu-jana, the devotees, all appear very intoxicated with mundane activity, visaya-range, but their activities are actually not mundane at all: they are regulated worship of the higher path of raga-marg, the path of loving service to the Divine Couple Sri Sri Radha-Krishna.

Srila Saraswati Thakur gave everyone the divine knowledge that we should not emotionally jump into the external activities of the residents of Vrndavan. Rather, we should respect and honour their service as above us and pray for their mercy. If we try to jump from our egoistic mountain to the highest plane of divine lila we will fall down very close to where we started. It is not the proper procedure to try to enter the higher plane from our existing position. We need to transform ourselves and be empowered by the residents of that higher plane before we can enter there.

Hanumanji can jump from mountain to mountain because He acts solely for service of His Lord, Ramachandra. We need to have power like him, that is, a pure serving mood, before we can jump from our position into the divine Pastimes of Radha-Krishna. Pujala raga-patha gaurava-bhange: until we are qualified with a pure serving mood we will honour the Divine Couple’s Sweet Absolute Pastimes from a respectful distance.

The posture of Mahaprabhu’s sankirtan

When I wanted to make a diorama expressing Srila Saraswati Thakur’s siddhanta on the front of our Math in Nabadwip, I used this verse. However I changed one of the lines in the verse with the permission of Srila Guru Maharaj. Through Srila Guru Maharaj we can understand the desire of Srila Saraswati Thakur and for preaching purposes I changed this verse to make it more understandable to general people. I engraved these two lines on our nat mandir:

matala hari-jana kirtana-range
pujala raga-patha gaurava-bhange

Later, I also posted this expression on the wall of my veranda so I could see it every day. Srila Saraswati Thakur’s phrase visaya-range is very deep. To say that work and activity which may appear completely material are actually completely transcendental is not easy for the public to understand. I wanted to show in the diorama that it is through Mahaprabhu’s sankirtan that we must worship Radha-Krishna in Kali-yuga. For that reason I used the phrase matala Hari-jana kirtana-range instead. It means that devotees are intoxicated with the practice of Mahaprabhu’s sankirtan. They are hearing and chanting the Holy Name and the glories of Mahaprabhu, and through that they are serving and satisfying the Divine Couple Radha-Krishna, whose nondifferent form is Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. In the formal posture (gaurava-bhange) of Mahaprabhu’s sankirtan the devotees are offering their worship to Radha-Govinda and Their intimate servitors.

At present we do not live in the domain of Radha-Krishna, and we are not trying to forcefully enter that abode. Rather we are trying to honour that abode through our life in Kali-yuga under the proper shelter of the practice of sankirtan at the lotus feet of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. So we are proceeding systematically towards the goal of our lives, the service of Radha-Govinda, under the guidance of Their intimate associates headed by Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu.

Service in Gupta Govardhan

Once when we were painting Srila Guru Maharaj’s building in Nabadwip I decided to put a verse on the front of the building above his veranda.

sri-radhara bhave yini suvarna varana
sangopange navadvipe yara sankirtana
kalite upasya sei krsna gaurahari
navadha bhaktite tara upasana kari

(Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur)

“Through the nine-fold practice of devotion I worship Krishna’s golden form in Kali-yuga, Gaurahari, who performs sankirtan in the mood of Sri Radha with His associates in Sri Nabadwip Dham.”

When I had this verse written on the front of his building Srila Guru Maharaj did not say anything. Years later when we were maintaining the building we white-washed all the walls and that verse was painted over. When Srila Guru Maharaj came out onto the roof of the nat mandir and saw the wall where the verse had been written he asked me, “Where is that verse? I do not see it.” Then I understood that Srila Guru Maharaj noticed everything and that he was very happy when I put this verse on the front of his building. I felt that Srila Guru Maharaj knew everything I was doing and was always watching over me. Then I had that verse written there again, and still it is there today.

Our Math is located in Gupta Govardhan, Hidden Govardhan, in Sri Nabadwip Dham. Govardhan is the primary place of raga-marg worship of Radha-Krishna.

pramada-madana-lilah kandare kandare te
rachayati nava-yunor dvandvam asminn amandam
iti kila kalanartham lagnakas tad-dvayor me
nija-nikata-nivasam dehi govardhana tvam[95]

(Sri Govardhana-vasa-prarthana-dasakam: 2)

Giriraj Govardhan is the highest place in Radha-Krishna’s Pastimes. Radha-Krishna’s highest lilas happen in the groves around Govardhan Hill. Radha Kunda, Syama Kunda, Govinda Kunda, Kusum Sarovar, and many, many kunjas surround Govardhan, and Radha-Krishna’s confidential lilas happen at different times and in these places around Govardhan.

Radha-Krishna enjoy Their intimate Pastimes around Govardhan as all the sakhis and manjaris busily serve Them day and night. Chiefly Lalita Devi organises the service of Radha-Krishna, and she gives the highest service to the group of Rupa Manjari. Gokula-pateh premamrtaplavanat: in this way the nectar of Krishna-prema overfloods all around Govardhan Hill.

We presented our diorama on the front of our Math to show everyone that through the sankirtan of Mahaprabhu we can properly honour the most worshippable plane of raga-marg service of Radha-Krishna—Govardhan—and that we will automatically enter there when we become qualified through our sincere practice of sankirtan. Srila Guru Maharaj accepted all of my ideas. In that way we decorated the front of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math and adjusted Srila Saraswati Thakur’s expression.

The shelter of the sakhis

If you want entrance into Krishna-lila’s special chamber of paramour love then you must go to the sakhis, Radharani’s associates. All rights are reserved by the sakhis in those Pastimes. You must go to the sakhis, surrender to them, and get a visa from them to enter those Pastimes. If the sakhis do not give you a visa then no one—neither Krishna, nor Lord Siva, nor anyone—can give you entrance into the Pastimes of paramour love. Laksmi Devi Herself was denied a visa. All rights are reserved by the sakhis. In Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta it is written,

sakhi vina ei lila pusta nahi haya
sakhi lila vistariya, sakhi asvadaya

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 8.203)

“The sakhis provide all the nourishment necessary for Sri Sri Radha-Krishna’s Pastimes of paramour love. The sakhis personally taste these Pastimes, and only they have the power to distribute them. No one else has the right to taste them, and without the sakhis’ consent no one gets entrance into them.”

Radharani is the leader of all the groups of sakhis. She has eight principle sakhis: Lalita, Visakha, Chitra, Champakalatika, Tunga Vidya, Indulekha, Sudevi, and Ranga Devika. They are the group leaders of all the servitors of Radha-Krishna. The manjaris, the younger sakhis, serve under the eight primary sakhis. The manjaris are led by Rupa Manjari and her associates: Lavanga Manjari, Ananga Manjari, Rati Manjari, Guna Manjari, and so on. Radharani serves Krishna directly while all of Her associates assist Her under the guidance of Lalita Devi and Rupa Manjari. Radharani also sometimes sends Krishna to satisfy the sakhis. The sakhis do not expect they will associate with Krishna alone, but Radharani makes many tactful arrangements for them. Radharani wants to satisfy Krishna and side by side all of Krishna’s servitors.

In this way the Pastimes of Radha-Krishna go on, and service-entrance into those Pastimes is only available by surrendering to the sakhis. Without their mercy no one can expect to serve Radharani or Krishna. The service of Radharani is very rare to get, and without the mercy of the sakhis no one will get it. The sakhis give power to the manjaris, so if anyone can receive the mercy of Rupa Manjari, the leader of the manjaris, then they will get full entrance into the service world of Goloka Vrndavan.

If we proceed properly we must get the association and mercy of the Divine Couple’s associates, the sakhis, one day. That is our life’s goal. But before that it is necessary for us to understand the identities of Krishna, Radharani, and Their associates, as well as our own identity and necessity. We need realisation of these things, and we need to approach that highest plane through the proper channel. If we can approach properly then we reach our life’s goal.

matala hari-jana kirtana-range
pujala raga-patha gaurava-bhange

Our target is the service of Radha-Krishna under the guidance of Radharani’s associates, but if we think we will get that very easily then we will be cheated. It is first necessary to practise Hari-nam-sankirtan properly and try to attract Radha-Krishna to appear in our heart by the grace of Their associates.

Mature taste and immature imitation

At present Radha-Govinda-lila is so far from us because we are bound by our material senses and have no control over them. We have a materialistic conception, and through that we fall into the garbage of illusion again and again. A proper practitioner who is qualified to remember Radha-Krishna-lila under the guidance of his Guru has no attachment to this mundane world. He has no lust, anger, greed, or illusion—nothing. But we are conditioned souls who are polluted by maya, and we will be cheated even more by maya if we are not careful and prematurely try to enter into the higher plane of Krishna’s Vrndavan Pastimes.

So many so-called big personalities and sadhus may preach about Vraja-bhajan, but before the stage of ruchi we are not qualified for that. Ruchi means extreme attachment, affection, and love that is free from anything mundane. Those who have ruchi can think about the Pastimes of Radha-Govinda, their position in those Pastimes, the asta-kaliya-lila, and many other things. But if we still have any anarthas [mundane desires], then any practice of that will be imitation. And imitationism, sahajiyaism, takes us to hell.

We have seen many babajis singing Radha-Krishna-lila and crying so much: singing and crying, singing and crying, and finally foaming at the mouth. But simply showing many symptoms of ecstasy is not real Krishna-prema. Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur clearly expressed in his song,

ki ara bolibo tore mana
mukhe bolo prema prema vastutah tyajiya hema
sunya-grantha anchale bandhana

(Kalyana-kalpa-taru: Upadesa, 18.1)

“My dirty and naughty mind, what can I say to you? You are always saying, ‘Krishna-prema, Krishna-prema’, and making an exhibition of the symptoms of Krishna-prema, but you actually do not have anything. Your activity is comparable to making a knot in the corner of your cloth to show others that you have a piece of gold there. Inside you have nothing. You think you are carrying a precious golden jewel within you, but actually you have nothing of value. You think your activities are giving you the wealth of Krishna-prema but actually they are only deceiving you.”

The ecstasy and nectar of the Pastimes of Krishna in Vrndavan can only be tasted by liberated souls. We must wait for the stage of ruchi to come to us before trying to enter there. We should first make our heart and mind clean and engage in the service of Radha-Govinda under the guidance of a real sadhu, who is properly practising Krishna consciousness in the line of exclusive service. Such a sadhu will guide us properly according to our stage of development. If we try to proceed in that way and engage in Hari-nam-sankirtan as it was given by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu for the Kali-yuga, it will be possible for us to receive the purifying mercy of Radha-Govinda. We will be fully satisfied with that.

The treasurer of our fortune

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appeared to show us the path of our life and the glories of Radha-Govinda. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s greatest gift to the world and the way that He distributes it have been explained by Srila Guru Maharaj.

sarvachintyamaye paratpara-pure goloka-vrndavane
chil-lila-rasa-rangini parivrta sa radhika sri-hareh
vatsalyadi-rasais cha sevita-tanor-madhurya-seva-sukham
nityam yatra muda tanoti hi bhavan tad dhama-seva-pradah
sri-gauranumatam svarupa-viditam rupagrajenadrtam
rupadyaih parivesitam raghu-ganair asvaditam sevitam
jivadyair abhiraksitam suka-siva-brahmadi-sammanitam
sri-radha-pada-sevanamrtam aho tad datum iso bhavan

(Srimad Bhakti Vinod Viraha Dasakam: 8–9)

In the highest plane of the inconceivable realm—Goloka Vrndavan Dham—Radharani and Her associates serve Krishna in the supreme rasa of paramour love. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appeared to distribute the service of Radharani under the guidance of Her associates. Svarup Damodar understood this perfectly. Srila Rupa Goswami, Srila Sanatan Goswami, Srila Raghunath Das Goswami, and Srila Jiva Goswami wholeheartedly practiced this throughout their lives and showed everyone the proper way to approach it. Srila Sanatan Goswami worshipped it, Srila Rupa Goswami distributed it, Srila Raghunath Goswami tasted and served it, and Srila Jiva Goswami protected it. Sukadev Goswami, Lord Siva, Lord Brahma, Devarsi Narad, Uddhava and others fold their hands and gave their full respect to it. Sri-Radha-pada-sevanamrtam: the nectar of the service of Radharani’s lotus feet, the highest conception of Krishna consciousness, aho tad datum iso bhavan: the treasurer of that wealth is Gurudev. Only Gurudev has the capacity to distribute that final destination and highest property to the conditioned souls.

The gist of Srila Guru Maharaj’s expression in these two verses is, “The strength, quality, qualification—everything—necessary to worship Radharani’s lotus feet comes through Gurudev.”

Everything we want to know we can understand through our Gurudev. Gurudev’s position is always supreme. Gurudev is the Lord’s best servitor. In the scriptures it is said:

harau ruste gurus-trata gurau ruste na kaschana
(Aditya-purana)

“If Krishna is angry with you, Gurudev can save you, Radharani can save you, but if Radharani is angry with you, Krishna cannot save you.”

Our protection, our environment, our everything, comes to us through Gurudev’s mercy, and through that we will be gracious, fortunate, and exalted practitioners. In that way we will practise to serve Radha-Krishna in the line of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. That is called Krsnanusilanam: serving Sri Krishna under the guidance of Srimati Radharani.

We know that Gurudev is nondifferent from Radharani. It is written everywhere in the scriptures, but Srila Saraswati Thakur specially and sweetly mentioned, “If I want to see my Gurudev, I shall see that he is the nondifferent form of Radharani. I do not know and I do not want to know the position of another person’s Guru. I only know that my Guru is my rescuer, my master, my everything, and if I want to see him more deeply then I see that he is a nondifferent form of Radharani.” Srila Saraswati Thakur expressed his vision in this way, and we honour that fully.

Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur, and Srila Guru Maharaj are all deeply attached to the service of Radharani. We shall try heart and soul as possible by us to serve them, our Guru-parampara, and through that telescopic system our service will go directly and perfectly to Radha-Krishna. This is the finest and highest conception of Krishna consciousness. We are so fortunate to be in the line of Krishna consciousness under the guidance of Srila Guru Maharaj and Srila Saraswati Thakur, who are the dearmost associates of Srila Rupa Goswami and Radharani. ⬆︎

Appendix

Dasa-Vidha Namaparadha

The Ten Offences to the Name

Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj

A poetic Bengali translation of the verses listing the offences to the Name in the Padma-purana.

hari-nama mahamantra sarva-mantra-sara
yadera karuna-bale jagate prachara
sei nama-parayana sadhu, mahajana
tahadera ninda na kariha kadachana [1]

The Hari-nam mahamantra is the best of all mantras and is distributed throughout the world by the mercy of the sadhus devoted to the Name. Never criticise such great souls.

vrajendra-nandana krsna sarvesvaresvara
mahesvara adi tara sevana-tatpara
nama chintamani krsna-chaitanya-svarupa
bheda-jnana na karibe lila-guna-rupa [2]

Vrajendra Nandan Krishna is the Lord of all Lords. Siva and all other gods are dedicated to His service. The Name is a wish-fulfilling jewel and a spiritual form of Krishna Himself. Do not consider Krishna’s Name to be distinct from His Form, Qualities, or Pastimes.

“guru krsna-rupa hana sastrera pramane
guru-rupe krsna krpa kare bhagyavane”
se gurute martya-buddhi avajnadi tyaji’
ista-labha kara, nirantara nama bhaji’ [3]

“The scriptures confirm that Guru is a form of Krishna (SB: 11.17.27). In the form of Guru, Krishna bestows His mercy upon the fortunate.” Give up the conception that Guru is a mortal, and all other types of disrespect, and attain your cherished goal: serving the Name eternally.

sruti, sruti-mata-saha satvata purana
sri-nama-charana-padma kare nirajana
sei sruti-sastra yeba karaye nindana
se aparadhira sanga karibe varjana [4]

The Vedas, their mother Gayatri, and Srimad Bhagavatam worship the Holy Name’s lotus feet. Reject the association of any offender who criticises these scriptures.

namera mahima sarva-sastrete vakhane
atistuti, hena kabhu na bhaviha mane
agastya, ananta, brahma, sivadi satata
ye nama-mahima-gatha sankirtana-rata
se nama-mahima-sindhu ke paibe para?
atistuti bale yei—sei durachara [5]

The Name’s glories are proclaimed in all the scriptures. Never consider such glorification to be exaggerated praise. Agastya, Ananta, Brahma, Siva, and so on are always devoted to chanting the Name’s glories. Who can cross the ocean of those glories? Anyone who considers them exaggerated praise is wicked.

krsna-namavali nitya golokera dhana
kalpita, prakrta, bhave—aparadhi-jana [6]

Krishna’s Names are the eternal wealth of Goloka. Anyone who considers Them imaginary or mundane is an offender.

name sarva-papa-ksaya sarva-sastre kaya
sara-dina papa kari sei bharasaya—
emata durbuddhi yara sei aparadhi
maya-pravanchita, duhkha bhunje niravadhi [7]

All the scriptures declare that the Name destroys all sin. The wicked who sin all day long in expectation of this are offenders. They are deluded by maya and suffer perpetually.

atulya sri-krsna-nama purna-rasa-nidhi
tara sama na bhaviha subha-karma adi [8]

Sri Krishna’s incomparable Name is a brimming reservoir of rasa. Chanting the Name should never be considered equal to pious worldly action (such as adhering to vows, practising renunciation, performing austerities, making sacrificial offerings, and so on).

name sraddha-hina-jana—vidhata vanchita
tare nama dane aparadha sunischita [9]

Those who have no faith in the Name have been deceived by Providence. To give the Name to them is certainly an offence.

suniyao krsna-nama-mahatmya apara
ye priti-rahita, sei naradhama chhara
ahamta mamata yara antare bahire
suddha krsna-nama tara kabhu nahi sphure [10]

Those who remain devoid of love for Krishna’s Name even after hearing His boundless glories are deplorable, fallen souls. The pure Name of Krishna never reveals Himself to those who are internally and externally ridden with egotism and possessiveness.

ei dasa aparadha kariya varjana
ye sujana kare hari-nama sankirtana
apurva sri-krsna-prema labhya tare haya
nama-prabhu tara hrde nitya vilasaya [11]

Great souls who avoid these ten offences and engage in Hari-nam-sankirtan attain unprecedented Sri Krishna-prema. The Name Himself plays within their hearts eternally. ⬆︎

About the Author

gurvabhista-supurakam guru-ganair asisa-sambhusitam
chintyachintya-samasta-veda-nipunam sri-rupa-panthanugam
govindabhidham ujjvalam vara-tanum bhakty anvitam sundaram
vande visva-gurun cha divya-bhagavat-premno hi bija-pradam

“I offer my obeisance unto Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev- Goswami Maharaj, who perfectly fulfils his Gurudev’s most cherished desires; who is fully adorned with the blessings of his Gurudev’s associates; who is expert in all aspects of Vedic knowledge, both conceivable and inconceivable; who is the pre-eminent follower of Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu’s line; whose beautiful, exalted, effulgent form is filled with devotion; who is the Guru of the world; and who distributes the seed of divine love for the Supreme Lord.”

His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj made his appearance in this world on 17 December 1929 in the holy land of Sri Gaura Mandal in a village known as Bamunpara within the Burdwan district of West Bengal, India.

Like the sun rising and inspiring lotuses to bloom, Srila Govinda Maharaj appeared in a brahman family and filled the land of Sriman Mahaprabhu with joy. His family’s ancestors were followers of Sri Nityananda Prabhu, and from his boyhood he engaged in the service of his family’s Deities, Sri Sri Radha-Gopinath, who were installed by Nityananda Prabhu’s son Virachandra Prabhu. At the age of seventeen he met his Divine Master, Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj.

Gurvabhista-supurakam

He perfectly fulfils his Gurudev’s most cherished desires.

Almost immediately after he arrived, Srila Sridhar Maharaj recognised his divine qualities and publicly declared that he would prepare him to be the future Acharya of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math.

As a young brahmachari, Srila Govinda Maharaj surrendered to Srila Sridhar Maharaj in thought, word, and deed, and received instruction from him in all aspects of the scriptures and their practical application. He quickly became adept in all fields of service.

Srila Sridhar Maharaj’s mission was to propound the glory of Sriman Mahaprabhu according to the teachings of Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu and his followers, led in modern times by Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur. Srila Govinda Maharaj acted to fulfil this desire of his Gurudev in every possible way. He set up a printing press and published numerous books and magazines filled with the writings of the Rupanuga sampradaya’s Acharyas. He led tours to the pilgrimage sites all over India that are associated with Saraswat Gaudiya Vaisnavism. He established the annual Sri Nabadwip Dham Parikrama festival at Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, which has continued without interruption since 1948. He made the arrangements for the installation of the Math’s Deities Sri Sri Gandharva-Govindasundar and collected the funds needed to construct the domed Temple in which They reside. He travelled to towns and villages both near and far to spread Sriman Mahaprabhu’s Nam-sankirtan-dharma and inspire souls to take shelter at the lotus feet of Sri Guru. The countless endeavours he made in service to his Gurudev cannot be summarised.

Srila Govinda Maharaj also served Srila Sridhar Maharaj intimately as his doctor and confidant. Their relationship was so developed that many have described them as a shining example of the perfect Guru and perfect disciple. Srila Govinda Maharaj has described himself as being “bound by affection” to his Gurudev’s feet, and Srila Sridhar Maharaj felt such attachment to Srila Govinda Maharaj that at times he could not tolerate his separation for even a few hours.

Guru-ganair asisa-sambhusitam

He is fully adorned with the blessings of his Gurudev’s associates.

Over the course of the forty-two years that they lived together, Srila Govinda Maharaj had the fortune of serving many of Srila Sridhar Maharaj’s godbrothers and observing their loving interactions with Srila Sridhar Maharaj.

Leading preachers like Sripad Bhakti Saranga Goswami Maharaj, Sripad Bhakti Prajnan Kesav Maharaj, Sripad Bhakti Vichar Jajavar Maharaj, Sripad Bhakti Dayita Madhav Maharaj, and Sripad Bhakti Kamal Madhusudan Maharaj would come to Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math to honour Srila Sridhar Maharaj, and while there would always affectionately encourage Srila Govinda Maharaj. Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur’s sister, Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad’s sister Bhavani Didi, and Srila Sridhar Maharaj’s sister Rama Didi, and other noble ladies, also blessed Srila Govinda Maharaj during his youth.

During the late ’40s and early ’50s Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad ran a preaching centre on behalf of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math in Kolkata. As a young brahmachari, Srila Govinda Maharaj would stay with Srila Swami Maharaj for a few months each year. Daily, Srila Swami Maharaj would teach him verses from Srimad Bhagavad-gita, and he would cook for Srila Swami Maharaj. During this time Srila Swami Maharaj also trained him as a preacher by engaging him as the first distributor of Back to Godhead magazine. When Srila Govinda Maharaj started Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math’s Sri Gaudiya Darsan magazine, Srila Swami Maharaj wrote a letter of appreciation for his service: “[Your writing] is not only very amusing but instructive. … In time you can become a great transcendental humourist in the art of journalism. You have complete mercy from your Divine Master and you can depend on his blessings for your future improvement. I sincerely wish you all success. Undoubtedly you are now in the highest order of varnasram-dharma, but we cannot forget that you belong to the category of our affectionate sons. We cannot forget all such filial love for you, and when we see that you are improving in all respects it gladdens our heart.”

Chintyachintya-samasta-veda-nipunam

He is expert in all aspects of Vedic knowledge, both conceivable and inconceivable.

Srila Govinda Maharaj’s command of the revealed scriptures amazed everyone who met him. From his childhood he had a remarkable memory, and when he came to the Math he quickly memorised hundreds of songs and thousands of verses on his Gurudev’s order. From that time until his final days he could readily recite Srimad Bhagavad-gita, Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta, large portions of Srimad Bhagavatam, and countless verses from other texts. Within two or three years of joining he could lecture with more authority than many of his Guru’s godbrothers. Srila Govinda Maharaj’s capacity to recount and explain the scriptures pleased Srila Sridhar Maharaj so much that when Srila Govinda Maharaj was a brahmachari of only two years, Srila Sridhar Maharaj gave him the title ‘Vidya Ranjan’ [one whose knowledge delights others].

Srila Sridhar Maharaj also later stated in his last will and testament: “Above all, he [Srila Govinda Maharaj] is well-known and unanimously acclaimed as being firmly established in the philosophy of the perfect axiomatic truth of bhakti as propounded by both myself as well as by my Divine Master.”

Srila Govinda Maharaj wrote numerous poems and articles in Sanskrit and Bengali, which he published in the magazine he ran on behalf of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, Sri Gaudiya Darsan. His writings blend siddhanta with wit, sweetness, and humour to melt both the heart and mind. Srila Sridhar Maharaj’s godbrothers sometimes mistook his compositions for those of Srila Sridhar Maharaj, which they revered as nondifferent from Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu’s writings.

Srila Govinda Maharaj’s expertise also went beyond scriptural theory; he was adept at leadership, organisation, fundraising, construction, cow care, gardening, and cooking. As the Math’s manager, he excelled at all services by virtue of his extraordinary intelligence and could expertly put the teachings of the scriptures in practice according to time, place, and circumstance.

Sri-Rupa-panthanugam

He is the pre-eminent follower of Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu’s line.

Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj was empowered by Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur to be the self-effulgent Acharya of the Rupanuga sampradaya. At the time of his departure, Srila Saraswati Thakur requested Srila Sridhar Maharaj to sing the sampradaya’s anthem, Sri Rupa Manjari Pada. As Srila Sridhar Maharaj’s beloved disciple, Srila Govinda Maharaj, and only Srila Govinda Maharaj, sang this song for him on suitable occasions. Srila Govinda Maharaj served Srila Sridhar Maharaj as a servant, a friend, and an affectionate guardian. All the stages of the relationship between Guru and disciple described in the Rupanuga sampradaya were present between Srila Govinda Maharaj and Srila Sridhar Maharaj. Srila Govinda Maharaj’s service to Srila Sridhar Maharaj illustrates the meaning of Sri Rupa Manjari Pada, that the service of Sri Rupa (Sri Guru) is one’s life, wealth, joy, fulfilment—everything.

Govindabhidham

He is known as Srila Govinda Maharaj.

In 1985 Srila Sridhar Maharaj conferred sannyas upon Srila Govinda Maharaj, giving him the name ‘Bhakti Sundar Govinda’. Srila Govinda Maharaj once asked Srila Sridhar Maharaj about his name, and Srila Sridhar Maharaj replied, “My Deity is Govinda and my kunda is Govinda, so your name must be Govinda.”

Srila Sridhar Maharaj established his Math on the bank of Sri Govinda Kunda and Sri Govindasundar as its central Deity. Holding both this place and this form of the Lord most dearly within His heart, he gave the name Govinda to his dearmost associate, Srila Govinda Maharaj, who he treasured like his most precious jewel (Govindabhidham Indirasrita-padam hastastha-ratnadivat).

Go in Govinda means ‘world’, ‘cows’, ‘Vedas’, and ‘senses’. Govinda means ‘He who pleases’ all of these. As the Supreme Lord Govinda’s dear devotee, all of Lord Govinda’s qualities shine through Srila Govinda Maharaj. Those who had the fortune of knowing him rejoice when they recall his charming divine presence.

Ujjvalam vara-tanum bhakty anvitam sundaram

His beautiful, exalted, effulgent form is filled with devotion.

Srila Sridhar Maharaj has the deepest esteem for Srila Govinda Maharaj. He remarked, “Actually in many ways he is more qualified than I am.” Also: “He came [to me] with some previous wealth”; “He is a natural paramahamsa”; “His service never leaves the nirguna plane”; and “If you get to know him more intimately, you will come to understand what sort of transcendental character he has.”

Srila Govinda Maharaj created the atmosphere of Vraja Dham wherever he went. His seemingly simple, yet deeply loving and profound personality can only be understood as a manifestation of the aprakrta realm. His seniors, peers, and followers all marvelled at the beauty of his form and the sweetness and strength he exhibited as he related naturally and intimately with all. His captivating affection awakened the dormant spirit of devotion from within the hearts of thousands and forcibly inspired them to dedicate their lives to the service of Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga.

Visva-gurum

He is the Guru of the world.

Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad requested Srila Govinda Maharaj to tour the world with him in the mid ’70s to preach to his disciples. Because Srila Govinda Maharaj was Srila Sridhar Maharaj’s personal doctor and Srila Sridhar Maharaj’s health was unstable at that time, Srila Govinda Maharaj declined. At that time both Srila Sridhar Maharaj and Srila Swami Maharaj prophesied that in the future he would tour the world and inspire their followers on the path of pure devotion.

In the early ’80s, when Srila Swami Maharaj’s disciples and admirers, who were mostly Westerners, started to frequent Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, seeking guidance and shelter, Srila Sridhar Maharaj did not readily accept them because of his advanced age and ill health. It was only when Srila Govinda Maharaj promised to look after them following Srila Sridhar Maharaj’s passing that Srila Sridhar Maharaj sheltered and initiated them.

Following the disappearance of Srila Sridhar Maharaj in 1988, Srila Govinda Maharaj, as the President-Sevaite-Acharya of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, toured the world twenty-four times over the course of eighteen years. He oversaw the opening of over 100 centres on six continents and the distribution of over 350 publications in twenty languages. He crossed linguistic and cultural boundaries and inspired thousands of people of all ages by communicating with them heart-to-heart. He would often recall with a beaming smile, “The sun never sets on Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math.”

Divya-Bhagavat-premno hi bija-pradam

He distributes the seed of divine love for the Supreme Lord.

In 1986 Srila Sridhar Maharaj fulfilled the desire he had cherished for almost forty years and established Srila Govinda Maharaj as the President-Sevaite-Acharya of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math and all of its centres worldwide. Thereafter Srila Govinda Maharaj initiated the sincere seekers who approached Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math into the service of Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga. Initiation is compared to the planting of a seed, the seed of divine love, within the heart. As seeds must be nourished and protected in order to bear fruit, so Srila Govinda Maharaj affectionately guided the disciples of Srila Sridhar Maharaj, Srila Swami Maharaj, and himself in their practising lives. His wisdom, experience, character, and charm inspired deep faith within all, and his instructions dispelled all inauspiciousness. He encouraged everyone, regardless of the position they were in, and emphasised chastity, sincerity, love, and affection. He showed by example that serving Sri Guru and Vaisnava and practising Sriman Mahaprabhu’s sankirtan-dharma is the real path towards the service of Radha-Krishna in Vraja Dham. His foremost advice was to adhere to Sriman Mahaprabhu’s formula for chanting the Holy Name: to be humble, be tolerant, and give honour to others without expecting it for oneself.

Beyond

His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj departed from this world on 27 March 2010. Since then his Samadhi Mandir, the Temple of Love and Affection, has been erected in his honour at Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math Nabadwip, and his faithful followers continue to serve Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga according to his instructions.

Summarising the glory of His Divine Grace is an impossible task, yet Srila Govinda Maharaj himself has done so in a poem he wrote in his youth, in which he expressed his aim in life. ⬆︎

Svarupodbodhana

Awakening the True Self

Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj

Originally published in Sri Gaudiya Darsan:
Volume 1, Issue 4, Tuesday, 15 November 1955

ami guru-dasa—nahi anya

I am a servant of Guru—nothing else.

ami kariba bhramana chaudda-bhuvana
svarupe sabaya kari’ udbodhana
hate la’ye yaba premera nisana
dharaba svarupa chihna [1]

I will travel throughout the fourteen worlds awakening everyone to their true self. I will go with the banner of divine love in hand and cause everyone to recognise the sign of the true self.

ami chhadaba sakale sarva-dharma
kariba churna jnana o karma
rachiba visala bhakati-harmya
guru-dasa nahi anya [2]

I will induce everyone to abandon all religions. I will demolish the pursuits of liberation and worldly enjoyment. I will construct a grand palace of devotion. I am a servant of Guru—nothing else.

ami bhangiba chhanda lagaba dhanda
vachalera mukha kariba banda
mrtyure dhari daniba sanda
nahi kapatata dainya [3]

I will break the customs, bemuse everyone, shut the mouths of the garrulous, hold back death, and distribute good fortune to all. I will do so humbly, without deceit.

sei mahabharatera mahan parva
yahara prakase hayechhe kharva
dekhaba tahara asima garva
kaitave kari khinna [4]

I will show the unlimited glory of He whose manifestation brought the great portion of the Mahabharata to an end, and efface all duplicity.

ami bajaba jagate vijaya-danka
ghuchaba sakala dvandva-sanka
bahaba visve bhakati-ganga
tusi’ hari labhi punya [5]

I will sound the kettle-drums of victory throughout the world, dispel all quarrel and fear, and cause the Ganges of pure devotion to flow throughout the universe. Satisfying the Lord in this way, I will attain good fortune.

ami aryanarya mlechchha sabaya
lagaiba ba’le krsna-sevaya
chadaiba sabe golokera na’ya
prthvi kariba sunya [6]

I will forcibly engage all—the noble, the ignoble, and the barbarous—in Krishna’s service. I will board them all in the boat to Goloka and empty the earth.

ami chalaba sakale guru-pada bale
vadama tuliba hari-bola bale
mahamaya-vini chhalana chhalile
kariba chinna-bhinna [7]

I will guide them all by the power of my Guru’s feet. I will hoist the boat’s sails by the power of chanting ‘Hari’. If Mahamaya presents any illusion, I shall cut it asunder.

ami chinmaya-dhame chalaiba tari
chatur-bhuja habe yata nara-nari
sthavara jangama sabe labhi hari
habe deva deva manya [8]

I will drive the boat to the spiritual world, and all the men and women will become four-armed. All moving and inert beings will attain Hari and become worshippable to the demigods.

sabe eka parichaye dibe parichaya
labhibe svarupa amrta-maya
pujibe sri-hari dibe jaya jaya
nehari’ ha-iba dhanya [9]

Everyone will identify with the same identity, realise their immortal self, worship Sri Hari, and call out, ‘Jay! Jay!’ Seeing this, I will be satisfied.

ami guru-dasa nahi anya

I am a servant of Guru—nothing else. ⬆︎

Back cover

निगमकल्पतरोर्गलितं फलं
शुकमुखादमृतद्रवसंयुतम्पि
बत भागवतं रसमालयं
मुहुरहो रसिका भुवि भावुकाः

nigama-kalpa-taror galitam phalam
suka-mukhad amrta-drava-samyutam
pibata bhagavatam rasam alayam
muhur aho rasika bhuvi bhavukah

“O devotees! O relishers of rasa! Until your death in this world, constantly drink the rasa of Srimad Bhagavatam, the ripened fruit of the wish-fulfilling tree of the Vedas enriched with nectar from the mouth of Sukadev Goswami.” ⬆︎

End Notes

(1) athapi te deva padambuja-dvaya-
prasada-lesanugrhita eva hi
janati tattvam bhagavan-mahimno
na chanya eko ’pi chiram vichinvan

(SB: 10.14.29)

“O Lord, one who receives even a trace of the grace of Your lotus feet can know Your glory. Without Your grace no one can know You, even after searching for a long time.”

(2) isvarera krpa-lesa haya ta’ yahare
sei ta’ isvara-tattva janibare pare

(Cc: Madhya, 6.83)

“One who receives even a trace of the Lord’s grace can understand the Lord.”

(3) Garga Rsi’s pranam mantra for Vedavyas:

vadana-kamala-niryadyasya iyusam adyam
pibati jana-varo ’yam patu so ’yam giram me
badara-vana-viharah satyavatyah kumarah
pranata-durita-harah sarnga-dhanv-avatarah

(Gs: 1.1.2)

“May Satyavati’s son, Krishna Dvaipayan Vedavyas, the Avatar of Visnu who removes the surrendered souls’ sorrow and enjoys Pastimes in the forest of Badari, he from whose lotus mouth the sadhus drink the original nectar, guide my words.”

(4) An archetypal verse from the Upanisads:

tad ejati tan naijati tad dure tad v antike
tad antar asya sarvasya tad u sarvasyasya bahyatah

(Iu: 5)

“The Lord moves, and He does not move. He is far, and He is near. He is within everything, and He is outside of everything.”

(5) yad vai tat sukrtam raso vai sah

“He who is perfect (Brahma) is the embodiment of rasa (Krishna).”

(6) The Bhagavat-chatuh-sloki mantram (SB: 2.9.33–36):

aham evasam evagre nanyad yat sad asat param
paschad aham yad etach cha yo ’vasisyeta so ’smy aham

“Prior to creation, only I existed. Nothing else—gross, subtle, or primordial—existed. After creation, only I exist, and after the annihilation only I remain.”

rte ’rtham yat pratiyeta na pratiyeta chatmani
tad vidyad atmano mayam yathabhaso yatha tamah

“Know that which seems to exist without Me or doesnot seem to exist within Me to be My illusion, comparable to a reflection or darkness.”

yatha mahanti bhutani bhutesuchchavachesv anu
pravistany apravistani tatha tesu na tesv aham

“As the material elements exist within all beings, large and small, yet also exist outside of them, so I exist both inside and outside of all beings.”

etavad eva jijnasyam tattva-jijnasunatmanah
anvaya-vyatirekabhyam yat syat sarvatra sarvada

“One who seeks the Absolute should directly and indirectly search for Me, who exist everywhere and always.”

(7) yaha, bhagavata pada vaisnavera sthane
ekanta asraya kara chaitanya-charane
chaitanyera bhakta-ganera nitya kara ‘sanga’
tabe ta’ janiba siddhanta-samudra-taranga

(Cc: Antya, 5.131–2)

“Go and study Srimad Bhagavatam with the Vaisnavas. Sincerely take shelter of Sri Chaitanya’s feet and always associate with His devotees. Then you will understand the wavesin the ocean of Truth.”

(8) ohe prabhu dayamaya, tomara charana-dvaya
sruti-siropari sobha paya
guru-jana-sire punah, sobha paya sata guna
dekhi amara parana judaya

(Gita-mala: 1.1.1)

“O merciful Lord! Seeing Your feet become more beautiful atop the heads of the scriptures and a hundred times more beautiful atop the head of my Guru soothes my heart.”

(9) “Reasoning is inconclusive; the scriptures are variegated; one whose conception is not distinctive cannot become a rsi. True dharma is thus secretly concealed. Therefore, the way of the great souls is the path.”

(10) sadhunam sama-chittanam sutaram mat-krtatmanam
darsanan no bhaved bandhah pumso ’ksnoh savitur yatha
(SB: 10.10.41)

“As there is no darkness when one’s eyes see the sun, so there is no bondage when one sees the equipoised sadhus whose hearts are exclusively dedicated to Me.”

(11) tulayama lavenapi na svargam napunar-bhavam
bhagavat-sangi-sangasya martyanam kim utasisah

(SB: 1.18.13)

“There is no comparison between even a moment of association with the Lord’s associates, and heaven or liberation. So what is to be said of mortal benedictions?”

(12) “By Sri Guru’s grace the soul crosses over this world and reaches Krishna.”

(13) “Make the teachings from the lotus mouth of Sri Guru one with your heart; do not desire anything else.”

(14) “Attachment to Sri Guru’s feet is the best path. By his mercy all desires are fulfilled.”

(15) “He who gave me the gift of eyes, who revealed divine knowledge in my heart, is my lord birth after birth.”

(16) “Sri Guru gives pure devotion and destroys ignorance. The Vedas sing of his character.”

(17) “(Having become indifferent to the material world), one in search of the ultimate good should surrender to a Guru who is equipoised and adept in both the scriptures and the divine.”

tatra bhagavatan dharman siksed gurv-atma-daivatah
amayayanuvrttya yais tusyed atmatma-do harih

(SB: 11.3.22)

“Considering Sri Guru to be one’s beloved Lord, one should sincerely and submissively learn from him Bhagavat-dharma: that by which Sri Hari, He who gives Himself (to His devotee), is satisfied.”

(18) “I offer my obeisance unto Sri Guru, who opened my eyes, which were blinded by the darkness of ignorance, with the salve of divine knowledge.”

(19) “Sri Guru is an ocean of mercy and the friend of the fallen.”

(20) “I offer my obeisance unto the lotus feet of Sri Guru, praising and meditating upon His glory at the three junctions of the day. By his grace, one gains the Lord’s grace. Without his grace, one has no shelter anywhere.”

(21) vaikunthaj janito vara madhu-puri tatrapi rasotsavad
vrndaranyam udara-pani-ramanat tatrapi govardhanah
radha-kundam ihapi gokula-pateh premamrtaplavanat
kuryad asya virajato giri-tate sevam viveki na kah

(Sri Upadesamrta: 9)

“Above Vaikuntha is Mathura, where Krishna took birth. Above Mathura is Vrndavan, where Krishna enjoys the Rasa festival. Above Vrndavan is Govardhan, where Krishna plays amorously. Above Govardhan is Radha Kunda, where the nectar of love overflows. What wise soul would not serve Radha Kunda beside Govardhan Hill?”

(22) naham ijya-prajatibhyam tapasopasamena va
tusyeyam sarva-bhutatma guru-susrusaya yatha

(SB: 10.80.34)

[Krishna:] “I, the Soul of all beings, am not satisfied by fire sacrifices, raising children, austerities, or self-control (by adherence to the duties of a brahmachari, grhastha, vanaprastha, or sannyasi) as much as I am by service to Sri Guru.”

(23) adadanas trnam dantair idam yache punah punah
srimad rupa-padambhoja-dhulih syam janma-janmani

(Srila Das Goswami)

“Taking a blade of grass between my teeth, I pray again and again, “May I be a particle of dust at Sri Rupa’s lotus feet birth after birth.”

(24) “The embodiment of spiritual energy, consciousness, and ecstasy, Sri Krishna, who is known as Govinda, is the Supreme Lord of all Lords. He has no origin, He is the origin of all, and He is the cause of all causes.”

(25) “He has neither a material body nor material senses. There is nothing equal to or greater than Him. His divine energy is naturally divided into three aspects: knowledge, strength, and action.”

(26) eka-patni-vrata-dharo rajarsi-charitah suchih
sva-dharmam grha-medhiyam
siksayan svayam acharat
(SB: 9.10.54)

“Ramachandra, who had the pure character of a saintly king and adhered to the vow of having only one wife,taught the dharma of a house-holder by practising it Himself.”

(27) yesam srisa-prasado ’pi mano hartum na saknuyat
siddhantatas tv abhede ’pi srisa-krsna-svarupayoh
rasenotkrsyate krsna-rupam esa rasa-sthitih

(Brs: 1.2.59)

“Narayan’s grace cannot capture the hearts of Krishna’s devotees. Although Narayan and Krishna are theologically nondifferent, according to rasa, Krishna is superior. Krishna’s supremacy is established by rasa.”

(28) dadhi-mathana-ninadais tyakta-nidrah prabhate
nibhrta-padam agaram ballavinam pravistah
mukha-kamala-samirair asu nirvapya dipan
kavalita-navanitah patu mam bala-krsnah

(Padyavali: 143)

“Awakened in the morning by the sound of butter being churned, Bala Krishna soundlessly enters the homes of the gopis, quickly blows out their lamps with His lotus mouth, and devours their fresh butter. May He protect me.”

(29) yan martya-lilaupayikam svayoga-
maya-balam darsayata grhitam
vismapanam svasya cha saubhagardheh
param padam bhusana-bhusanangam

(SB: 3.2.12)

“Sri Krishna showed the power of His divine energy and assumed His form suited for human-like Pastimes, which astonishes even Him, which is the ultimate abode of fortune (the ultimate expression of beauty, wealth, power, fame, knowledge, and detachment), and which is the ornament of His ornaments.”

(30) “The best of all of Krishna’s Pastimes are His human-like Pastimes. His human-like form is His original form. His cowherd-boy dress, flute-playing, adolescence, and superb dancing perfectly suit His human-like Pastimes. Please hear of Krishna’s charming form. One drop of its beauty floods the whole of the three worlds and attracts every living entity within them.”

(31) evam sva-chitte svata eva siddha
atma priyo ’rtho bhagavan anantah
tam nirvrto niyatartho bhajeta
samsara-hetuparamas cha yatra

(SB: 2.2.6)

“Joyfully and resolutely serve the Soul who is self-manifest within the heart, the beloved, absolute, worshippable, all-pervading Lord. Doing so eradicates the cause of one’s entanglement in worldly existence (ignorance).”

(32) kam prati kathayitum ise samprati ko va pratitim ayatu
go-pati-tanaya-kunje gopa-vadhuti-vitam brahma

(Cc: Madhya, 19.98)

“Who can I tell, and who will believe, that the Absolute hunts the wives of cowherd men in the groves along the banks of the Yamuna?”

Here Raghupati Upadhyaya suggests to Sriman Mahaprabhu that by His appearance the gloryof madhura-rasa will be revealed to the world.

(33) kalena nasta pralaye vaniyam veda-samjnita
mayadau brahmane prokta dharmo yasyam mad-atmakah

(SB: 11.14.3)

[Krishna:] “During the creation I spoke to Brahma the Vedic teachings, the dharma of devotion to Me, which was lost during the annihilation by the influence of time.”

(34) “Under My direction My material energy produces this world of moving and stationary forms. Thus the world repeatedly manifests.”

(35) sa vai pumsam paro dharmo yato bhaktir adhoksaje
ahaituky apratihata yayatma suprasidati

(SB: 1.2.6)

“Humanity’s supreme dharma is unconditional and unalloyed (self-manifestand irresistible) devotion to thetranscendental Lord, which completely satisfies the soul.”

(36) “Day and night, dusk and dawn, winter and springtime come and go again and again. Time plays on, and life passes away, but the disease of desire never leaves me. (Everything in this world comes and goes in the course of time except the false hope of material happiness.)”

Srila Govinda Maharaj wrote two poetic Bengali translations of this verse by Sankar Acharya:

divasa-rajani sandhya-sakala
sad-rta-sane khele mahakala
nase paramayu; tabu asa-vayu
na chhade amaya, e visama-daya!

“Time plays with the days, nights, dusks, dawns, and six seasons, and takes away my life. Yet the disease of desire never releases me. This is my dire condition!”

divasa-yamini-sandhya-prabhata
vasanta-sarat kare yatayata
kala setha khele nase paramayu
tabu nahi chhade dusta asa-vayu

“Day and night, dusk and dawn, and fall and spring come and go. Time plays amongst them and takes away my life. Yet the disease of wicked desire never releases me.”

(37) Paradise Lost is an epic by John Milton in which the fate of the souls who turn away from God is examined. There death, sorrow, and emptiness are understood to be the consequences of accepting Satan’s proposal, “Better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven.”

(38) krsna—surya-sama; maya haya andhakara
yaha krsna, taha nahi mayara adhikara

(Cc: Madhya, 22.31)

“Krishna is like the sun; Maya is like darkness. Wherever Krishna is present, Maya is absent.”

(39) “Arise! Awake! Find a master and learn from him.”

(40) “I appear age after age to properly establish dharma.”

(41) vikriditam vraja-vadhubhir idam cha visnoh
sraddhanvito ’nusrnuyad atha varnayed yah
bhaktim param bhagavati pratilabhya kamam
hrd-rogam asv apahinoty achirena dhirah

(SB: 10.33.39)

“A sober soul who faithfully hears about and then describes Visnu’s play with the Vraja-gopis quickly attains supreme devotion to the Lord and soon leaves behind his heart disease of material desire.”

(42) “We meditate on the Supreme Truth, who is eternally self-existent beyond illusion, autonomous, and directly and indirectly aware of everything. He creates, maintains, and destroys this world. He revealed the Absolute to Brahma through the heart and bewilders the demigods. In Him the three creations (the modes of goodness, passion, and ignorance) exist like transformations of light, water, and earth.”

(43) rajan patir gurur alam bhavatam yadunam
daivam priyah kula-patih kva cha kinkaro vah
astv evam anga bhagavan bhajatam mukundo
muktim dadati karhichit sma na bhakti-yogam

(SB: 5.6.18)

[Sukadev Goswami says to Maharaj Pariksit:] “O King, Lord Mukunda is the maintainer, teacher, worshippable friend, and patriarch of you and the Yadus; sometimes He is even your servant. He gives liberation to those who serve Him, but He never gives them loving devotion (like He has given you, who do not desire liberation or enjoyment).”

(44) “I serve Govinda, the original Lord, whose illustrious bodily effulgence is the origin of the indivisible, inconceivable, and unlimited Brahma, within which innumerable universes filled with unlimit-edly variegated creations and opulences exist.

(45) asad va idam agra asit tato vai sad
ajayata tad atmanam svayam akuruta
tasmat tat sukrtam uchyate iti
yad vai tat sukrtam raso vai sah
rasam hy evayam
labdhvanandi bhavati
ko hy evanyat kah pranyat
yad esa akasa anando na
syat esa hy evanandayati

“At first, this world was unmanifest. It manifested from Brahma, He who created Himself and is thus known as perfection (‘self-made’). He who is perfect is rasa. Only by attaining rasa (Him) does the soul become joyful. If He, Joy, the Supreme, did not exist, who would live, who would breathe? He alone gives joy to everyone.”

(46) “That which is beyond material nature is inconceivable. Do not try to understand it intellectually.”

(47) “I serve Govinda, the original Lord, who is lovingly served by hundreds of thousands of goddesses and tends His bountiful cows in His abodes made of spiritual gemstone, which are covered by millions of wish-fulfilling trees.”

(48) “Karma is far inferior to buddhi-yoga. Take refuge in buddhi-yoga; those who seek the fruits of their actions are misers.”

(49) “A yogi is superior to persons engaged in austerities (tapasvis), superior to persons of knowledge (jnanis), and superior to persons of action (karmis). Therefore, one should be a yogi. A faithful soul who serves Me with his heart dedicated to Me is the best of all yogis. He is most intimately united with Me.”

(50) “Those who know the Absolute Truth say that it is non-dual knowledge and that it is known as Brahma, Paramatma, and Bhagavan.”

(51) “The Supreme Lord, who resides in the hearts of His dear devotees who give up all other concerns and serve His feet, absolves any sins they happen to commit.”

(52) sraddhavan jana haya bhakti-adhikari
‘uttama’, ‘madhyama’, ‘kanistha’—sraddha-anusari

(Cc: Madhya, 22.64)

“Faithful persons are qualified for devotion. According to the strength of their faith, they are either advanced devotees, intermediate devotees,or neophyte devotees.”

(53) smarantah smarayantas cha mitho ’ghaugha-haram harim
bhaktya sanjataya bhaktya bibhraty utpulakam tanum

(SB: 11.3.31)

“Remembering and reminding one another of the Lord, who absolves all sin, with devotion (prema) produced by devotion (sadhana), devotees become ecstatic.”

(54) “Accepting everything that is favourable for devotion to Krishna, rejecting everything unfavourable for devotion to Krishna, being confident that Krishna will grant His protection, embracing Krishna’s guardianship, fully offering one’s self to Krishna, and feeling oneself to be lowly are the six aspects of saranagati.”

(55) “Practising devotion to the Supreme Lord, Krishna, quickly produces detachment and unconditional knowledge.”

(56) “The body is a net of illusion, and the material senses are one’s enemies; they throw the soul into the ocean of mundanity. Among the senses, the tongue is the most voracious and wicked; it is very difficult to conquer the tongue in this world. O brothers! Krishna is very merciful: to conquer the tongue He has given us His remnants! Accept this nectarean food, sing the glories of Radha-Krishna, and with love call out, ‘Chaitanya! Nitai!’”

(57) “The earnestness of a detached devotee who uses objects appropriately in their relationship with Krishna is known as yukta-vairagya (proper detachment). The rejection of objects related to the Lord by liberation-seekers who consider them mundane is known as phalgu-vairagya (false detachment).”

(58) “Know lust and anger—which are produced by the mode of passion, extremely voracious, and malicious—to be the soul’s enemies in this world (the cause of the soul’s propensity to sin).”

(59) “By surrendering myself at Your lotus feet, I have become supremely joyful. All sadness has gone away and I have no anxiety. I see joy in all directions.”

(60) “Know Bhagavat-dharma to be the means explained by the Lord for even the ignorant to easily attain Him.”

(61) madhura-madhuram etan mangalam mangalanam
sakala-nigama-valli-sat-phalam chit-svarupam
sakrd api parigitam sraddhaya helaya va
bhrgu-vara nara-matram tarayet krsna-nama

(Skanda-purana)

“Krishna’s Name, the sweetest of the sweet, the most auspicious of the auspicious, the eternal spiritual fruit from the vine of the Vedas, delivers a man if He is chanted even once, faithfully or neglectfully.”

(62) vachyam vachakam ity udeti bhavato nama svarupa-dvayam
purvasmat param eva hanta karunam tatrapi janimahe
yas tasmin vihitaparadha-nivahah prani samantad bhaved
asyenedam upasya so ’pi hi sadanandambudhau majjati

(Sri Namastakam: 6)

“O Holy Name! You appear in two forms: the Named (Your divine human-like form) and the Name (Your divine sound form). We know that Your second form is even more merciful than Your first: even one who has committed offences to the Named is immersed in an ocean of constant joy by chanting the Name.”

(63) tunde tandavini ratim vitanute tundavali-labdhaye
karna-krodha-kadamvini ghatayate karnarbudebhyah sprham
chetah prangana-sangini vijayate sarvendriyanam krtim
no jane janita-kiyadbhir amrtaih krsneti varnadvayi

(Cc: Antya, 1.99)

“When they dance in my mouth, they produce the desire for countless mouths; when they enter my ears, they produce the desire for billions ofears; when they appear in the courtyard of my heart, they take control of all of my senses. I do not know how muchnectar is produced by the two syllables Krsna.”

(64) akinchanasya dantasya santasya sama-chetasah
maya santusta-manasah sarvah sukha-maya disah

(SB: 11.14.14)

“For a detached, controlled, peaceful, equipoised soul, whose heart is satisfied by Me, all directionsare filled with joy.”

(65) “O Hari! O Krishna! O Yadava!O Gopal! O Govinda! O Rama! O Madhusudan! I offer myobeisance to You again and again.”

(66) “It is certainly true that the Holy Name delivers anyone who once offencelessly calls, remembers, or hears Him, regardless of whether they pronounce the Name correctly or incorrectly, in separated parts, or as a single word. If, however, the Name is used for the body, wealth, prestige, greed, or evil, He does not produce any (spiritual) result quickly (though He does eventually).”

(67) Srila Govinda Maharaj composed a poem Bengali, entitled Dasa-vidha Namaparadha, which summarises and explains the verses listing the offences to the Holy Name in the Padma-purana.

hari-nama mahamantra sarva-mantra-sara
yadera karuna-bale jagate prachara
sei nama-parayana sadhu, mahajana
tahadera ninda na kariha kadachana [1]

The Hari-nam mahamantra is the best of all mantras and is distributed throughout the world by the mercy of the sadhus devoted to the Name. Never criticise such great souls.

vrajendra-nandana krsna sarvesvaresvara
mahesvara adi tara sevana-tatpara
nama chintamani krsna-chaitanya-svarupa
bheda-jnana na karibe lila-guna-rupa [2]

Vrajendra Nandan Krishna is the Lord of all Lords. Siva and all other gods are dedicated to His service. The Name is a wish-fulfilling jewel and a spiritual form of Krishna Himself. Do not consider Krishna’s Name to be distinct from His Form, Qualities, or Pastimes.

“guru krsna-rupa hana sastrera pramane
guru-rupe krsna krpa kare bhagyavane”
se gurute martya-buddhi avajnadi tyaji
ista-labha kara, nirantara nama bhaji [3]

“The scriptures confirm that Guru is a form of Krishna (SB: 11.17.27). In the form of Guru, Krishna bestows His mercy upon the fortunate.” Give up the conception that Guru is a mortal, and all other types of disrespect, and attain your cherished goal: serving the Name eternally.

sruti, sruti-mata-saha satvata purana
sri-nama-charana-padma kare nirajana
sei sruti-sastra yeba karaye nindana
se aparadhira sanga karibe varjana [4]

The Vedas, their mother, Gayatri, and Srimad Bhagavatam worship the Holy Name’s lotus feet. Reject the association of any offender who criticises these scriptures.

namera mahima sarva-sastrete vakhane
atistuti, hena kabhu na bhaviha mane
agastya, ananta, brahma, sivadi satata
ye nama-mahima-gatha sankirtana-rata
se nama-mahima-sindhu ke paibe para?
atistuti bale yei—sei durachara [5]

The Name’s glories are proclaimed in all the scriptures. Never consider such glorification to be exaggerated praise. Agastya, Ananta, Brahma, Siva, and so on are always devoted to chanting the Name’s glories. Who can cross the ocean of those glories? Anyone who considers them exaggerated praise is wicked.

krsna-namavali nitya golokera dhana
kalpita, prakrta, bhave—aparadhi-jana [6]

Krishna’s Names are the eternal wealth of Goloka. Anyone who considers Them imaginary or mundane is an offender.

name sarva-papa-ksaya sarva-sastre kaya
sara-dina papa kari sei bharasaya—
emata durbuddhi yara sei aparadhi
maya-pravanchita, duhkha bhunje niravadhi [7]

All the scriptures declare that the Name destroys all sin. The wicked who sin all day long in expectation of this are offenders. They are deluded by maya and suffer perpetually.

atulya sri-krsna-nama purna-rasa-nidhi
tara sama na bhaviha subha-karma adi [8]

Sri Krishna’s incomparable Name is a brimming reservoir of rasa. Chanting the Name should never be considered equal to pious worldly action (such as adhering to vows, practising renunciation, performing austerities, making sacrificial offerings, and so on).

name sraddha-hina-jana—vidhata vanchita
tare nama dane aparadha sunischita [9]

Those who have no faith in the Name have been deceived by Providence. To give the Name to them is certainly an offence.

suniyao krsna-nama-mahatmya apara
ye priti-rahita, sei naradhama chhara
ahamta mamata yara antare bahire
suddha krsna-nama tara kabhu nahi sphure [10]

Those who remain devoid of love for Krishna’s Name even after hearing His boundless glories are deplorable, fallen souls. The pure Name of Krishna never reveals Himself to those who are internally and externally ridden with egotism and possessiveness.

ei dasa aparadha kariya varjjana
ye sujana kare harinama sankirtana
apurva sri-krsna-prema labhya tare haya
nama-prabhu tara hrde nitya vilasaya [11]

Great souls who avoid these ten offences and engage in Hari-nam-sankirtan attain unprecedented Sri Krishna-prema. The Name Himself plays within their hearts eternally.

(68) mad-guna-sruti-matrena mayi sarva-guhasaye
mano-gatir avichchhinna yatha gangambhaso ’mbudhau
laksanam bhakti-yogasya nirgunasya hy udahrtam
ahaituky avyavahita ya bhaktih purusottame
(SB: 3.29.11-12)

“The primary characteristic of supramundane devotion is that simply by hearing of My glory one’s thoughts uninterruptedly flow towards Me, the Lord who resides within the hearts of all, just as the waters of the Ganges naturally flow towards the ocean. Such pure devotion to Me, the Supreme Lord, is unconditional and unobstructed (self-manifest and unalloyed).”

(69) “I offer my obeisance unto the Supreme Lord, Hari. Chanting His Name absolves all sin, and offering obeisance to Him dispels all sorrow.”

(70) cheto-darpana-marjanam bhava-maha-davagni-nirvapanam
sreyah-kairava-chandrika-vitaranam vidya-vadhu-jivanam
anandambudhi-vardhanam prati-padam purnamrtasvadanam
sarvatma-snapanam param vijayate sri-krsna-sankirtanam

(Sri Siksastakam: 1)

“Sri Krishna-sankirtan cleanses the mirror of consciousness, extinguishes the raging forest fire of material existence, shines moonlight on the evening lotus of good fortune, is the life of the wife of divine knowledge, expands the ocean of ecstasy, is the taste of full nectar at every moment, and soothes the entire self. May Sri Krishna-sankirtan be supremely victorious!”

(71) Sriman Mahaprabhu’s Guru, Sri Isvar Puri, quoted this verse:

evam-vratah sva-priya-nama-kirtya
jatanurago druta-chitta uchchaih
hasaty atho roditi rauti gayaty
unmada-van nrtyati loka-bahyah

(SB: 11.2.40)

“Chanting the Name of their beloved Lord, those who have dedicated their lives to Him develop deep loving attachment to Him. Their hearts melt and they loudly laugh, cry, shout, sing, and dance like madmen, unconcerned with the public.”

(72) vande nanda-vraja-strinam pada-renum abhiksnasah
yasam hari-kathodgitam punati bhuvana-trayam

(SB: 10.47.63)

“I constantly offer my obeisance to the Vraja-gopis, whose singing of Krishna’s glory purifies the three worlds.”

(73) sravanam kirtanam visnoh smaranam pada-sevanam
archanam vandanam dasyam sakhyam atma-nivedanam
iti pumsarpita visnau bhaktis chen nava-laksana
kriyeta bhagavaty addha tan manye ’dhitam uttamam

(SB: 7.5.23–24)

“Hearing, chanting, remembering, serving, worshipping, praying, considering oneself a servant, considering oneself a friend, and surrendering the self—if devotion consisting of these nine practices isfirst offered to the Supreme Lord and then directly performed I consider that the greatest learning.”

(74) “The Supreme Lord is immediately bound within the heart by the fortunate souls who desire to hear Srimad Bhagavatam (from the mouth of the Vaisnava).”

(75) adau sraddha tatah sadhu-sango ’tha bhajana-kriya
tato ’nartha-nivrttih syat tato nistha ruchis tatah
athasaktis tato bhavas tatah premabhyudanchati
sadhakanam ayam premnah pradurbhave bhavet kramah

(Brs: 1.4.15–16)

“First faith, then association with sadhus, then engagement in service, then the eradication of evils, then constancy, then taste, then attachment, then ecstasy, and then love. These are the stages in the awakening of a practitioner’s love.”

(76) “Seeing the Supreme, a wise soul’s taste for the mundane disappears.”

(77) “Although Krishna’s Name, Form, Qualities, and Pastimes cannot be grasped by the material senses, They manifest themselves on the tongue and to the other senses through one’s service attitude.”

(78) “Arise! Awake! Find a master and learn from him. The wise say the path is sharp as a razor’s edge, difficult to traverse, and arduous (impossible to traverse without a Guru).”

(79) bhaktis tu bhagavad-bhakta-sangena parijayate
sat-sangah prapyate pumbhih sukrtaih purva-sanchitaih

(Brhan-Naradiya-purana)

“Devotion arises through the association of the Lord’s devotees. The soul attains the association of devotees through his previously acquired sukrti.”

(80) dharmah projjhita-kaitavo ’tra paramo nirmatsaranam satam
(SB: 1.1.2)

Srimad Bhagavatam teaches the supreme dharma, which completely rejects all cheating and is for sadhus who are non-envious.”

(81) “The Lord’s Name is to be chanted constantly with more humility than a blade of grass, tolerance like that of a tree, respect for everyone, and without desire for respect from anyone.”

(82) “What are the use of eyes that do not behold Krishna’s moon-like face, which is the origin of the nectar of all beauty and the songs of His flute?”

(83) “The acme of pleasure is love; the acme of love is ecstasy; and the acme of ecstasy is Mahabhava. The embodiment of Mahabhava is Sri Radha Thakurani, the mine of all good qualities, the crest jewel of Krishna’s lovers.”

(84) na paraye ’ham niravadya-samyujam
sva-sadhu-krtyam vibudhayusapi vah
ya mabhajan durjara-geha-srnkhalah
samvrschya tad vah pratiyatu sadhuna

(Srimad Bhagavatam: 10.32.22)

“Your meeting with Me is irreproachable. You have served Me, completely severing yourselves from the difficult-to-overcome bondage of family life. I cannot compensate you for this even within the lifetime of a demigod. May your own virtuous acts be your compensation.”

(85) “I surrender to the lotus feet of the fountain of madhura-rasa, Sri Radha. Though their name is not found within the narrative of the glorious, nectarean Srimad Bhagavatam, Sri Radha’s lotus feet are present within every word of it and are the basis of the Pastimes of the Akhila-rasamrta-murti, Syam.”

(86) “Svayam Bhagavan Krishna is different from the Krishna who appeared in the Yadu dynasty. He never leaves Vrndavan.”

(87) [Radharani sings:] “Our attachment first arose through eye contact. It has increased daily and reached no limit. He is not man, and I am not woman. Understanding this, Cupid pressed our hearts together.”

(88) “Who caused Me to hear Syam’s Name? Entering through My ears into the core of My being, Syam’s Name overwhelmed My heart. I do not know how much nectar is present within Syam’s Name. My heart is unable to leave Him. As I chant His Name, I am overcome. O friend! How shall I meet Him? The power of His Name affects Me so. What will the touch of His body do? If I see where He lives, how shall I maintain my vow of chastity? I decided to forget Him, but it was impossible. What shall I do? What is the solution? Dvija Chandi Das says, ‘A chaste girl thus dishonours Her family and offers Her youth.’”

(89) “O Flute Player, You know that Your youth astonishes the three worlds, and both You and I know of My anxiousness (because of it). What can I do, O Flute Player, to fully behold Your beautiful lotus face again in solitude?”

(90) “O Lord whose heart is melted with mercy for the poor! O Lord of Mathura! When shall I see You again? In separation from You, My broken heart trembles. O Beloved! What shall I do now?”

(91) krsna-lila amrta-sara, tara sata sata dhara
dasa-dike vahe yaha haite
se chaitanya-lila haya, sarovara aksaya
mano-hamsa charaha tahate

(Cc: Madhya, 25.271)

“May the swan of your heart play in the inexhaustible reservoir of Sri Chaitanya’s Pastimes, from which hundreds of streams of the ultimate nectar of Krishna’s Pastimes flow in all directions.”

(92) “I serve the inconceivable, original Lord, Syamasundar Govinda, whom the sadhus always see within their hearts through eyes of devotion tinged with the salve of love.”

(93) “Purchase ecstatic devotion to Krishna wherever it is available! The only price is hankering.It is not attainable by acting piously (practising vidhi-bhakti) for ten million lifetimes.”

(94) “Intoxicated with the joy of sankirtan, the surrendered souls worship raga-marg from within the posture of vidhi-marg.”

(95) “O Govardhan, the Divine Couple liberally enact Their Pastimes of maddened love in your caves. Please grant me a dwelling beside you so I can see Their Pastimes.” ⬆︎

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