Wednesday, 22 February 2012

The History Of Vaishnava Heritage Part-8

In this Krishna consciousness movement, what is our business? Our business is to recognize that the highest devotion is available in Vrindavan and Vrindavan is the topmost region of the spiritual sky. In this way we become fixed in our spiritual understanding. We are very grateful to Srila Sanatana Goswami for giving us a very scientific understanding of the process we are pursuing. Today we will discuss the history of Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s movement after His disappearance. In this way, we will come chronologically to today’s state of affairs in this world as far as Krishna consciousness is concerned and what Srila Prabhupada has done. Tomorrow, in the concluding class, we will discuss about the importance of ISKCON in the propagation of Krishna consciousness for many years to come and why we need an institution like ISKCON. So Caitanya Mahaprabhu spread Krishna consciousness all over India when He was present. Caitanya Mahaprabhu very systematically established a very solid foundation of this Krishna consciousness movement through the writings of the Goswamis. He assigned the Goswamis of Vrindavan with the responsibility to write scriptures to establish the philosophical foundation of the Krishna consciousness movement. Caitanya Mahaprabhu personally preached and He also assigned Nityananda prabhu with the responsibility to preach in Bengal, which was the main field for Krishna consciousness at that time. He himself was present in Orissa, in Jagannath Puri. There He preached and traveled throughout India, first to South India and all the way to Western India then He traveled to Vrindavan. Wherever He went, He attracted thousands upon thousands of people and inspired them to accept Krishna consciousness. The way Caitanya Mahaprabhu did it was very interesting and automatically people would become attracted by Him. People became attracted to Caitanya Mahaprabhu mainly because of three reasons: 1. Wherever Caitanya Mahaprabhu went, thousands of people followed Him, so naturally people became attracted to Him. 2. Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s appearance was very beautiful so people became attracted by His physical beauty. 3. Caitanya Mahaprabhu, wherever He went He chanted the Holy Name so sweetly that people became attracted and also began to follow Him. When people became attracted to Caitanya Mahaprabhu then Caitanya Mahaprabhu would instruct them about Krishna consciousness, Krishna bhakti. Then Caitanya Mahaprabhu would instruct them to go back to their respective places and start to preach whatever He taught them. In this way, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu within a very short time very effectively spread Krishna consciousness throughout the length and breadth of India. Then after twelve years of preaching (6 years of traveling and another 6 years of preaching), Caitanya Mahaprabhu went into seclusion. He hardly ever went out or met anybody. He was displaying His transcendental madness. Still, people became naturally attracted to Him. At that time, Bengal was the main field for preaching and Nityananda Prabhu was doing that preaching. Nityananda Prabhu created a tremendous sensation throughout Bengal. Thousands upon thousands of people became his followers. One time, at one go, sixty four thousand Buddhists became converted. That was the extent of his preaching. After Nityananda prabhu withdrew his pastimes from this planet, his wife Jahnava Devi, continued the preaching. She actually became the head of the Gaudiya Vaishnava society. She was a very powerful personality. It has been described that when Jahnava Devi traveled to Vrindavan, thousands of people followed them. That was the sort of popularity they had. We have to remember that in those days, traveling was not so easy. Nowadays, we can just buy a ticket in the train, or if we can afford it, fly by plane. In those days, most of the time, people had to walk. And the distance was not a short one. From here in Bengal to Vrindavan was fifteen hundred kilometers or a thousand miles. After Jahnava Devi, the main preaching was done by three very, very great acharyas. They are Srinivas Acharya, Narottama Das Thakura and Shyamananda Prabhu. All three of them came from the Eastern part. Srinivas Acharya came from Agrudwipa, which is not too far from Navadwip on the bank of the Ganges. Narottama Das Thakur came from what is East Bengal today. Their residence was on the eastern part of the Ganges. The Ganges actually goes further east and then goes to the ocean. Actually, the Ganges splits. One branch, which is considered to be the main branch of the Ganga, which is called Bhagirathi that goes through this part of Bengal, Navadwipa. The other branch, called Padma, goes to East Bengal and then goes to the ocean. That river is very wide. You cannot actually see the other bank of the river it is so wide. Narottama Das Thakur’s father was a king. They were a very aristocratic royal family. All three of them went to Vrindavan and studied Gaudiya Vaishnavism under the guidance of Srila Jiva Goswami. The three of them did not meet Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Srinivas Acharya’s parents did not have any children. His father met Caitanya Mahaprabhu for the first time when he was getting shaved up to take sannyas. This sight was so painful to his heart that he became like a mad man. He used to call out the name of Caitanya Mahaprabhu and cry all the time. Everybody thought that he had become mad. From that time, his name became Caitanya Dasa. He traveled to Jagannath Puri to meet Caitanya Mahaprabhu along with his wife. Caitanya Mahaprabhu blessed him that he will have a son. That son is Srinivas Acharya. Srinivas Acharya, from his childhood, had an intense desire to meet Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu but Caitanya Mahaprabhu had already become a sannyasi. It was difficult for him, but he used to dream that someday he would go to Jagannath Puri and meet Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Then finally, when he was about sixteen years old and he was allowed to travel on his own, he set out for Jagannath Puri. When he was going to Jagannath Puri, he got the news from some brahmanas who were coming from Jagannath Puri that Caitanya Mahaprabhu left the planet. Srinivas Acharya was so heart-broken that he decided to give up his life. He felt there was no need to live if Caitanya Mahaprabhu had left the planet. That night, he got some logs together, lit a huge fire, and he decided to enter into that fire. When he was about to enter into that fire, Caitanya Mahaprabhu came and personally stopped him. Caitanya Mahaprabhu assured him that He would always reside in his heart. In this way, Srinivas Acharya, although apparently, he did not physically meet Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, he did meet Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. After that, he went to Vrindavan. In Vrindavan, he took initiation from Gopala Bhatta Goswami. He was trained by Srila Jiva Goswami. Two other personalities also came to Vrindavan around that time. One was Narottama Das Thakur. He actually ran away from home like Raghunatha Das Goswami because his father was a king and he was a prince. He became so attracted to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu that he just left home and ran towards Vrindavan. Syamananda prabhu was another person who was brought up from his childhood with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s teachings. His father was a great devotee. When he reached his youth, he left his home and went to Vrindavan. The three of them became great friends and all studied under Jiva Goswami. Their idea was to spend the rest of their lives in Vrindavan and study in Vrindavan, but Jiva Goswami had a different plan. He sent them back to Bengal with all of the books that the Goswamis wrote because Vrindavan did not have so many people living there at that time. Bengal was the main field for Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s devotional mission. Those books were sent back to Bengal. The three of them brought the books and they started to preach in Bengal. They created a tremendous sensation. Kings were becoming their disciples. Very big Brahmin scholars were becoming their disciples. It is not that they did not have any opposition initially, but finally, their preaching was very successful. One king, in a place called Vishnupur, which is on the border of Bihar and Bengal, he and his wife became disciples of Srinivas Acharya. Another king called Nrsimhananda, a very powerful king, became a disciple of Narottama Das Thakur. Another king’s son, Rasikananda, became the disciple of Syamananda prabhu. A disciple of Narottama Das Thakur went to the province called Manipur in Eastern India, which was surrounded by the mountains. He converted the king into a Vaishnava. The king made the whole state into a Vaishnava state. He took the Vaishnavas from Bengal to train them up. Still today, when we go to Manipur, we see the trace of Gaudiya Vaishnavism there. The whole culture is based on Gaudiya Vaishnavism. They sing the songs written by Narottama Das Thakur. Over hundreds of years, the pronunciation and everything has changed. Once they showed me some songs by Narottama Das Thakur and I could not decipher it because they write and the way they pronounce is completely different. Whenever they have any festivity, they just have Krishna conscious activities. They will have Krishna’s pastimes enacted through dance and their performance and they stay up throughout the whole night watching these performances. These three personalities preached very effectively throughout Bengal. They had various oppositions, especially from the brahmanas. To tell you one incident, Narottama Das Thakur and Ramachandra Kaviraja, a disciple of Srinivas Acharya were very close friends. One day, they were traveling from one place to another. They saw that two young brahmana boys were carrying the goats and sheep. They could understand that they are taking them to be slaughtered for offering to Kali. Narottama Das Thakur felt that such nice brahmana boys should not be involved in such tamasic activities. Ramachandra Kaviraj and Narottama Das Thakur made a plan to convert them. Walking just ahead of these boys, they started to discuss in such a way that these boys could hear what they were talking about. The topic of their discussion was what actually happens when one offers animals in sacrifice to Durga, to Kali. When these boys heard that, they realized that through this kind of worship they are plunging they deeper and deeper into the mode of ignorance and they are going to invite all kinds of suffering. These two boys fell at their feet and said, “We realize our mistake. Now please tell us how we can be free from these sinful reactions.” Then Narottama Das Thakur gave them Krishna consciousness. These two boys were so much affected by them that they let those animals loose. They did not even go home, they followed Narottama Das Thakur. When the father of these two boys, who was a very influential Brahmin landlord, got to know that his two sons are missing and found out where they were, he came there. He found out that not only are these two boys staying with Narottama Das Thakur, but they became initiated by Narottama Das Thakur. He became very, very upset because Narottama Das Thakur was a kayastha. A kayastha is one who is in between a Kshatriya and a vaishya. He was inferior to a brahmana and it was unheard of those days that somebody from lower caste to give initiation to someone from a higher caste. And he did not consider him a kayastha, he considered him a sudra, so he became very upset. He forced his children to come home. When they went home, their father tried to convince them to give up Narottama Das Thakur, but the boys came up with such arguments that the father was defeated. The father thought, “After all, although I am a Brahmin, I am not so scholarly.” So he got the biggest scholar of that area, Ganganarayan Chakravaty, and told him to take care of these boys and bring them to their senses. When Ganganarayan Chakravaty started to speak to these boys, he saw that they had developed such intense love for Krishna that he himself was very impressed. He realized that this love for Krishna was the ultimate perfection of life. So, Ganganarayan Chakravaty also became a follower of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The father of these boys became so upset that he reported to the king, King Nrsimhananda. He said, “Look, Kali Yuga has begun and what has been described in the scriptures, everything is happening. Everything will turn upside down in the age of Kali and that is why we are seeing that the sudras are giving initiation to the brahmanas. They are the agents of Kali, so you take care of it, you are the king. So the king said, “Sure, I will do that. I am the king and it is my responsibility to establish dharma.” The king got all of the big scholars. He even got a scholar from Mithila, which is in Bihar. Plus, he had his own entourage. With the whole caravan he started to move towards Narottama Das Thakur’s village, Kheturi. In the mean time, the news reached Narottama Das Thakur’s followers that this king is coming to punish Narottama Das Thakur. Ganganarayan Chakravati and Ramachandra Kaviraj felt that something must be done to stop these people from coming here and disturbing Narottama Das Thakur. The place where the king’s caravan was to stop, they went there and opened up some shops in the market. Some were selling betel nut; some were selling cooking pots, all kinds of things. These brahmanas do not usually carry pots; they buy the pots and the fresh ingredients to cook. When they stopped at the marketplace, they found that the shopkeepers are speaking to them in Sanskrit. They were very surprised. Some of them even got into an argument and they were defeated. They reported it to their main pundit and the main pundit said, “Okay, let’s go and see who these people are.” They went and they got into an argument and the main pundit was also defeated by Ganganarayan Chakravati and Ramachandra Kaviraj. They were very big scholars. They asked, “Where did you learn? You are simple shopkeepers. Where did you get this knowledge?” They answered, “We got this knowledge by the mercy of our spiritual master.” They asked, “Who is your spiritual master?” they said, “Narottama Das Thakur.” So the king said, “These simple shopkeepers are giving you such a hard time, what will happen when you go to Narottama Das Thakur? He will beat you to the pulp!” So they decided not only to retreat, but that they would surrender to Narottama Das Thakur. This is how wonderfully those preachers were preaching Krishna consciousness at that time. After Narottama Das Thakur, we see a decline in the spiritual movement of Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s Gaudiya Vaishnavism. It went on for some time, but gradually there was a decline. That is why Srila Prabhupada said that after a great acharya leaves the planet, there is bound to be a crisis. We saw the crisis after Narottama Das Thakur, Srinivas Acharya. We see a similar crisis after Bhaktivinod Thakur. We also see a similar crisis after Prabhupada left. In the eighteenth century came Baladeva Vidyabhushan. Baladeva Vidyabhushan is also an interesting personality because he was originally initiated in the Madhva Sampradaya. He was a great scholar, very learned, a brilliant personality. He was reputed for his scholarship. He came across a follower of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in the line of Syamananda prabhu (Narottama Das Thakur’s line), three generations down, a devotee called Radha-Damodar Dev Goswami. Therefore, we can see that there is precedence that when someone comes across something higher, then he can take re-initiation. His spiritual master, Radha Damodar Dev Goswami, sent him to Vrindavan to study under Viswanatha Cakravarti Thakur. Viswanath Chakravarti Thakur is another brilliant scholar. When we say brilliant scholar, we have to remember that their scholarship is not the understanding of scholarship that we have from the material point of view. For example, when we see the writing of Viswanatha Chakravarti Thakur, it does not strike as a very erudite writing, but what actually strikes is the depth of Krishna’s pastimes he went to, as if he is seeing Krishna’s pastimes as he is writing. It is very interesting the way Viswanatha Chakravarti writes the commentary of the tenth canto of Srimad Bhagavatam, as if he is seeing what is going on between Radha and Krishna. Not only what is going on between Radha and Krishna, but also what is going on around them, some very, very in-depth understanding from his own perception of Krishna’s pastimes. Viswanatha Chakravarti was the Siksha Guru of Baladeva Vidyabhushana in that sense. That is why in our line, the disciplic succession that Srila Prabhupada gave in Bhagavad Gita, the line is from Viswanatha Chakravarti to Baladeva Vidyabhushan. Baladeva Vidyabhushan did a great service to our sampradaya by writing the Govinda Bhashya, the commentary on Vedanta Sutra. In Jaipur, the Gaudiya Vaishnavas were taking care of the deities Radha Govindaji. Some Ramanuja Vaishnavas objected to that saying that Gaudiya Vaishnavism was not bona-fide. They tried to present that it was some new thing that came up. It does not really have the disciplic succession. They completely rejected Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s gaudiya Vaishnavism saying that it is not bona-fide because it does not have any commentary on Vedanta Sutra. The king of Jaipur sent the message to Viswanth Chakravarti Thakur asking him what should be done now that the Ramanuja Vaishnavas are challenging the authenticity of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Viswanatha Cakravarti at that time was very old, so he sent Baladeva Vidyabhushan. Baladeva Vidyabhushan had a debate with those scholars. His point originally was that our sampradaya did not take the trouble to write any commentary on the Vedanta Sutra because we accept Srimad Bhagavatam as the original commentary on the Vedanta Sutra. Vyasadeva himself wrote the Vedanta Sutra and as a commentary to Vedanta Sutra, he wrote Srimad Bhagavatam. They would not accept that. They also tried to point out that Caitanya Mahaprabhu took initiation from the Madhva Sampradaya but they would not accept that because Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s teachings and Madhva’s teachings were not the same. There is a difference, naturally. They were asking, “What is the basis of these teachings that Caitanya Mahaprabhu has propagated?” Baladeva Vidyabhushan took just seven days time and wrote the commentary known as Govinda Bhashya, the commentary given by Govindadeva Himself. Actually, he said that Govindadeva Himself wrote that commentary. This is how Baladeva Vidyabhushan gave our sampradaya the bona fide by presenting his Govinda Bhashya. Seeing that brilliant commentary, the Ramanujas accepted it. In this way, our acharyas have established Gaudiya Vaishnavism in the most wonderful way. Unfortunately, with the influence of time in this terrible age of Kali, Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s teachings were practically lost due to the apasampradayas. There are thirteen apasampradayas, namely aula, baula, lara, lari, kartabhaja, daravesha, shani, shakhibheki, chudadhari, sahajiya, gaura nagari, jati gosai, etc. they all claim that they are coming from Caitanya Mahaprabhu. actually what they are presenting is detrimental to Caitanya Mahaprabhu. How this is detrimental to Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s teachings? Because they are claiming that they are followers of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, but philosophically they are deviating. Many of them not only break the regulative principles, like the sahajiyas, aulas, baulas, but their whole practice is based on breaking these regulative principles. For example, the baulas, their custom is that in order to be a baula, one has to elope with someone else’s wife. This is how the whole deviation crippled and stifled Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s sankirtan movement. The condition became so ominous that a man with refined taste would not have anything to do with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s movement. They would think that this is what Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s sankirtan movement is. The bauls, they smoke marijuana. They have illicit relationships with other women. The whole thing is actually based on that. It is very, very abominable. At that time, Bhaktivinod Thakur appeared. Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s movement was completely covered over and then Caitanya Mahaprabhu sent Bhaktivinod Thakur to start the revival of this movement. Bhaktivinod Thakur, through his powerful writing, reestablished Gaudiya Vaishnavism and the people with education and culture started to recognize Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His teachings. Bhaktivinod Thakur was a brilliant writer. He wrote with equal dexterity in English, Bengali and Sanskrit. To give an example, he writes sanskrit poems: yadi te hari-pada-saroja-sudha- rasa-pana-param hrdayam satatam parihrtya grham kali-bhava-mayam bhaja godruma-kanana-kunja-vidhum At least from the sound, you can understand what beautiful writing it is. Now, look at his English writings: Alas, for those who spend their days In festive mirth and joy. The dazzling, deadly, liquid forms Their hearts fore’er employ. The shining bottles charm their eyes And draw their heart’s embrace; The slaves of wine can never rise From what we call disgrace. Such a brilliant writer!! In this way, he presented Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s teachings. This poem is very interesting. In twenty one or twenty six paragraphs, Bhaktivinod Thakur gives the entire philosophy of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. You can see it is a brilliant poem: “Alas, for those who spend their days in festive mirth and joy.” Look at the material nature, Bhaktivonod Thakur is feeling pity for them. “The dazzling, deadly liquid forms their hearts forever employ.” Their hearts are attracted to the dazzling deadly liquid forms, the material beauty or maya. The shining bottles charm their eyes and draw their hearts’ embrace. The slaves of wine can never rise From what we call disgrace.” Then he is concluding, “O Saragrahi Vaisnava soul, Thou art an angel fair.” O Saragrahi means one who extracts, like a swan. The swan can extract milk from a solution of milk and water. He will leave the water and just extract the milk. A vaishnava is a saragrahi. He can extract the spiritual and leave the material. “O Saragrahi Vaisnava soul, Thou art an angel fair; Lead, lead me on to Vrindavan” He is inviting the swan like Vaishnava to lead him to Vrindavan. The one before that is, “there rests my soul in my lover’s arms.” He is describing that he is back in the spiritual sky in Krishna’s arms. After that came Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur. Bhaktivinod Thakur wrote the books and created the foundation for the revival of Gaudiya Vaishnavism and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur came and gave a tremendous thrust to that mission of Bhaktivinod Thakur. He spread Krishna consciousness all over India. Then came his worthy disciple, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. He fulfilled his mission by spreading Krishna consciousness all over the world. Srila Prabhupada not only spread Krishna consciousness all over the world, but he established the International Society for Krishna consciousness, which will continue to spread Krishna consciousness all over the world even in his absence. Srila Prabhupada established the International Society for Krishna consciousness, so there will never be a time when Srila Prabhupada is actually absent. Srila Prabhupada will continue to be here through his ISKCON. Tomorrow we will discuss that to continue to spread Krishna consciousness all over the world, we need an institution like ISKCON. And if we can successfully maintain that institution, Krishna consciousness will spread all over the world very effectively. But if we cannot save ISKCON, if we become the cause of ISKCON’s disintegration, then, the propagation of Krishna consciousness all over the world will be very badly hindered, may be for hundreds of years. Therefore, those who are loyal followers of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu should take it upon themselves as the most important service today, to protect this wonderful institution that Srila Prabhupada gave us.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

The History Of Vaishnava Heritage Part-7

Spiritual life begins with submission to the laws given by the Lord, which is known as religion. Religion means the laws given by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. We see that initially one abides by the laws of the Lord because he sees that by becoming religious he can have better material facilities. That is karma kanda. Enjoyment in the material nature is not the real object of spiritual life. Even liberation from material bondage is not the goal.
These are just some secondary effects of spiritual life which have been described in the Vedas as dharma, artha, kama and moksha. In dharma, one leads a religious life. As a result of that he gets artha, material benefits. By getting material benefits, he can fulfill his desires, kama. And finally, when he sees that in spite of fulfilling all his desires he is not really getting what he is hankering for, he considers that the goal of life is to get out of the material world because it is filled with miseries. Moksha is the common understanding of spiritual life.
When we approach Srimad Bhagavatam, we get an understanding of what actual spiritual life is. And from Chaitanya Charitamrita, we get an even deeper understanding that material desire, enjoyment in the material nature, and also aspiring for liberation from material bondage are detrimental to spiritual advancement. They are considered like two pots of poison. Material enjoyment as well as liberation are not the goal. The goal is to become elevated to the spiritual sky.
In order to become elevated to the spiritual world, one has to become a devotee of the Lord. Unless and until one becomes a devotee of the Lord, one cannot go back to the spiritual world. That is the preliminary understanding. Then we find that there are different levels of elevation among the devotees, as we saw in the first part of Brhad Bhagavatmrta.
These understandings are very important to become fully aware of our heritage: what we are following, what actually is Krishna consciousness movement? Is this just another religion or another fad? Many people have that misconception. Even I had. When I saw ISKCON devotees from a distance, I used to think they were just a bunch of American boys and girls who found a new fad: shaving their heads and wearing saffron, chanting Hare Krishna. When I joined ISKCON, many people thought the same way that why I am joining ISKCON? There are so many spiritual institutions in India, why I had to join this movement which is apparently an American thing? Those days, there were very few Indians in ISKCON, even in India, it was mostly Americans. That is the basic misconception about this movement.
We should have the proper understanding of what this movement actually stands for. What are we actually pursuing ? Our conclusion should be that unless this is the best, we should not settle for this. Our approach should be that if there is anything better than ISKCON, then we should go there. If we are after some spiritual achievement, then isn’t it natural that we should go for the best ? Sometimes people settle for sentiment, “Oh, my grandfather was initiated by this group, so I should also go in this.” So many missions, so many spiritual organizations are gathering their following just on sentiment. They do not settle for any spiritual understanding; they just go for sentimental reasons. That should not be the case with us. If we are really intelligent, if we are really serious about our spiritual life, then our attitude should be that we go for the best.
If there is anything better than ISKCON, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s movement, then yes, we should go for that. I can say that yes, I will go there, but in the last twenty-three years I have not found anything better. On the other hand, the more I am probing inside this philosophy and the spiritual understanding, and even our inner feelings and realizations, I am becoming more and more convinced that this is the best. That is why I can announce that if there is anything better, we are ready to accept because we know that there is nothing better than this.
Now here, through this discussion of the history of our Vaishnava heritage, this is what we are trying to establish. What Chaitanya Mahaprabhu  gave is the highest. It is not a sentimental claim, but the verdict of the scriptures. Also, when we want to analyze it and verify it, then we get to see that this is the highest spiritual achievement. A part of it we discussed yesterday, that who is the greatest devotee, what is the highest form of devotion? Narada Muni is very systematically experiencing that. Sanatana Goswami is describing Narada Muni’s search for the greatest devotee. We are seeing the gradual elevation of one’s devotional profoundity.
Today we will be discussing the second part of Brhad Bhagavatamrta. The second part of Brhad Bhagavatmrita is actually describing a devotee’s journey back to Godhead. The story begins with a cowherd boy named Gopakumara. Gopakumar is born in Govardhana in a family of Vaishyas, a cowherd family. Like other cowherd boys, Gopakumar used to tend the cows in the forest of Vrindavana.
Gopakumar used to see one person who was very strange. He used to behave like a madman. Sometimes they would see him laughing, sometimes crying, sometimes rolling on the ground. In this way, this person was behaving like a mad man, but this person was very affectionate towards these cowherd boys. When he would see them, he would pour out the affection of his heart on them. And the cowherd boys were also very affectionate towards him. They would offer the milk of the cows. In this way, he had a very nice relationship with the cowherd boys.
One day, when Gopakumar was alone, he came across this person on the bank of Yamuna. That person told him to go take a bath in Yamuna and he would give him a mantra. He gave him the ten-syllable Gopal Mantra. He told him that this mantra is very powerful, a very precious spiritual wealth. He asked Gopakumar to cultivate it very carefully and keep it protected with a lot of care and attention. After that he fainted.
Since Gopakumar received this mantra and he was told that this was the most precious mantra, he started to chant the mantra. Gopakumar lost interest in everything else. All he wanted to do was chant. He felt that everything else is just a hindrance. His friends, his family, his duty to tend the cows in the forest, he felt they were all a hindrance to his meditating on the mantra.
One day, Gopakumar decided to leave his place in Vrindavana. He just left and started to wander alone. He would find some solitary place and just chant the mantra. He was deriving great joy from doing that. One day, he came to prayag, the confluence of Ganga and Yamuna. We have to understand that Gopakumar was traveling along the Yamuna river and in this way, he came to Prayag.
In Prayag, he saw one Brahmin worshiping the Salagrama Sila. So, Gopakumar became curious and asked the Brahmin what he was doing. The Brahmin told him, “I am worshiping Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” Gopakumar was very thrilled to see that the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Whose mantra he is chanting, here is that Personality. He became very excited.
The brahmana put the salagrama sila in a small box and closed the box. When he did that, Gopakumar started to cry. He said, “See, he put the Supreme Personality of Godhead in such a small box. What will He do if He feels hungry or wants something? No one will be able to hear Him.”
When the brahmana saw Gopakumar crying like that, he said, “My boy, I am just a poor brahmana, I cannot afford a very gorgeous worship of the Lord. Therefore, this is how I have to worship and carry Him. If you really want to see some grand worship of the Lord, go to such and such place. You will see that the King there is really worshiping the Lord with so much grandeur.”
Gopakumar went there and saw the Lord was really being worshiped in such a gorgeous temple. He was very, very happy to be there. He was happily spending his time living in the temple, associating with the Lord, chanting His name. At night, he would just sleep in one corner of the temple.
One day, the king of that kingdom died and he did not have any successor for the throne. The ministers started to look for a suitable person to ascend to the throne. They found in the person of Gopakumar all the signs of a king. They made him the king. Although Gopakumar became the king, he was not interested in anything but promoting the Lord’s service and worship. All his time was dedicated in serving the Lord.
Still, Gopakumar would feel bad when people would waste the Mahaprasad of the Lord and consider it stale or old and not take the Prasad. When Gopakumar became morose about that attitude of the people there, then Gopakumar got to know that in Nilachala on the bank of the salt water ocean in the East, there is a temple of Lord Niladripati, Lord Jagannatha. There, no one considers the Lord’s Prasadam stale or rotten. They always consider the Prasadam of Lord Jagannatha as spiritual. They would carry the Prasadam to a distant place and honor the Prasadam.
In this way, Gopakumar became interested in Jagannatha Puri. He left his kingdom and went there. Gopakumar started to live very happily in the presence of Lord Jagannatha. He saw that Jagannatha’s Prasadam was considered to be non-different from the Lord Himself. There also, when the king died, the king’s son did not want to assume the responsibility of the king. Therefore, they made Gopakumar the king. Gopakumar started to take care of Lord Jagannatha’s service.
One day, Gopakumar was feeling very bad about Vrindavana. Then, Lord Jagannatha appeared to him in a dream and told him, “This place and Mathura are non-different. The Lord there is also non-different than Me, so why don’t you go back to Vrindavana ?” In Vrindavana, he used to just live in the forest, chanting, and from time to time, he would have the darshan of the Lord. In this way, he was spending his time.
Around that time, he got to know about the grand worship of the Lord as it was performed by Indra. Gopakumar desired to see how Indra worshiped the Lord.
We notice that whatever Gopakumar desired, by the potency of this mantra, he would get that. That mantra, just like a desire tree, fulfills the desire of one who chants. Therefore, one should be very careful what he desires when he chants this mantra because if one has material desires, watch out! Krishna will fulfill those desires. Gopakumar’s desire was always spiritual.
Gopakumar desired to go to the heavenly planets and he was elevated there. There, after a while, Indra ran away from swarga loka because he was afraid of being cursed by a Brahmin. The throne of heaven was empty, so Brhaspati advised that Gopakumar be named the king. So Gopakumar got the position of Indra. Although Gopakumar became the king of heaven, he was not at all interested in any kind of sense gratification. In G’s nature we see that he was not attracted to sense gratification or to women and he was free from all anarthas. That is the sign of a sincere devotee.
Then, one day some very powerful personalities came to the heavenly planets. Gopakumar was very surprised to see them. They seemed to be as brilliant as the sun. Brhaspati told him that they are the sages from Maharloka, the place that is above swarga loka: Bhur, Bhuvas, Svar, and then, Maharloka. Gopakumar then wanted to go to Maharloka. He was elevated to Maharloka. There he was associating with the sages who were performing sacrifices. There, from the sacrificial fire, Lord Yogeshwara appears. In this way, Gopakumar saw the Lord in His Yogeshwara form. He was spending time in the association of very exalted personalities.
Then Gopakumar got to know about Janaloka, where there are some even more powerful sages. He desired to go there, so he was elevated there. Then he was elevated to Tapoloka, then Satyaloka, the place of Lord Brahma. There, Gopakumar was spending his time in the association of exalted personalities.
Once, Lord Brahma left Satyaloka, so Gopakumar was made Brahma. Here also we see that the devotees are given these very exalted positions and devotees do not refuse them, but they accept with a mood of service. They see that by assuming these positions, they can execute more service to the Lord.
There, Gopakumar met his spiritual master. His spiritual master advised him to go back to Vrindavan and chant the Holy Name of the Lord. So Gopakumar came back to Vrindavan. He stayed in Brahma loka for such a long time that you can imagine what happened to the Earth planet in such a time. He saw that the Earth planet had changed so much in that time. It was not at all like what he saw it last time. Although the entire Earth planet had changed, Vrindavan was still the same. This way, we get to know that time doesn’t affect Vrindavan and Mayapur, they are the spiritual abode of the Lord. They always remain the same. May be on the surface there are some cosmetic differences, but the places are the same.
Although Vrindavan was the same, none of his old friends or acquaintances were there. Not that Gopakumar actually cared for that, he was not at all interested, but still, he noticed that none of those people from before were there. There, Gopakumar started to chant the mantra.
One day, he found himself traveling in a very fast moving vehicle, a space ship. It was moving so fast that in a very short time, all the seven planetary systems, including Brahmaloka disappeared from his vision. The whole universe gradually disappeared from his vision. Then he came to the covering of the universe.
The first covering is the covering of earth. This is the causal form of earth. This earth is the effectual earth, which is the causal earth. All that happens on the earth platform has already happened there. There, Mother Earth personified worships Varahadeva. The place was so opulent that it cannot be described. He spent some time there and saw the grand worship of Earth personified, the way she was worshiping Varahadeva. Then, he came to the water layer. There he saw water personified worshiping the Lord in His Mina incarnation. Then he came to the fire layer. There he was the Lord being worshipped as Vaishwanara. Then he went to the air layer, then mind. In the mind layer, Aniruddha was being worshipped. Then, in the false ego layer, Lord Sankarshana was being worshiped. Finally he came to the covering of the material nature herself. There, material nature personified was worshiping the Mohini Murti of the Lord, in the form that He enchanted Lord Shiva.
At that point, material nature personified, Maya herself, was asking him why he was leaving. She was inviting him to stay and enjoy. Gopakumar addressed her as the sister of his worshipable Lord and begged her to help him approach her brother. Mahamaya is also Yogamaya and Yogamaya is Subhadra Devi. He begged her to help him approach the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
In this way, he came out of the final layer, the covering of the material nature, and for the first time he became bewildered. He came to Brahma Jyoti. There he could not find the Lord. Previously, wherever he went, he could find the Lord being worshiped in some form or another, but here he could not find the Lord. Only there were some flashes of the Supersoul in that brilliant, blinding, glaring light of Brahmajyoti.
He started to pray to Lord Jagannatha. All of a sudden, he heard the sound of Sankirtan. He saw a personality whose complexion was as white as camphor riding on a bull and he was surrounded by his devotees. He was coming down. He wondered who he was. He was told by one of the associates of Lord Shiva that it was Lord Shiva. He invited him to also join the party. But Gopakumar begged his forgiveness and went forward.
Then Gopakumar came to the gate of Vaikuntha. At the gate he saw the Supreme Personality of Godhead with His four arms carrying the disc, lotus, mace and conch shell. When he saw Him, he immediately offered obeisances and started saying, “O my Lord, O Supreme Personality of Godhead.” But that person, as soon as he heard that, covered his ears and started saying, “I am not the Lord! I am not the Lord!” Saying that, he just covered his ears and ran inside. Then Gopakumar saw another personality in a spaceship and he just landed there.he thought him to be the Lord and started to offer prayers. That person also became very embarrassed and ran inside.
Finally, some person took pity on Gopakumar and took him to see the Lord. But when he saw Narayana, Gopakumar was so overwhelmed with emotion that he fainted. Lakshmi Devi came down from the throne and nursed him like her own child and brought him back to his senses. In this way, Lakshmi Devi and Narayan showered their affection upon Gopakumar.
So Gopakumar was staying in Vaikuntha, but still he was maintaining his cowherd boy identity. Some of the residents once told him, “You are in Vaikuntha. You should assume the Vaikuntha form now, the four armed swarupa of the Lord.” Gopakumar declined that proposal.
Then Gopakumar got to know about Lord Ramachandra in Ayodhya. So Gopakumar went to Ayodhya and received a lot of mercy from Lord Ramachandra and Sita Devi. Then, by the mercy of Lord Ramachandra, he was elevated to Dwaraka. In Dwaraka, he was having the association of the Lord. The Lord was showering all of His affection on him.
One day, Narada Muni detected that Gopakumar was still unhappy. He told him, “Gopakumar, you are in Dvaraka, having the association of the Lord, why is your heart still not fully satisfied?”
Gopakumar told him that he knows that he is extremely fortunate to be having the association of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and he is receiving so much mercy not only from Him, but also from the queens. But his heart is hankering for a cowherd boy who wears a peacock feather and plays a flute on the bank of a river. His heart is somehow just drawn towards Him. So much so that even despite being in Dwaraka and having the association of the Lord, his heart is still discontent.
Narada Muni then told him, “I can see that your attraction is actually for Krishna in Vrindavana, but to go to Vrindavana, you have to go back to Vrindavana on the Earth planet. There you have to chant the name of the Lord with all of your heart. That is called Sankirtana. You perform Sankirtana in Vrindavana and by doing that only you will have access to Goloka Vrindavana.”
According to Narada Muni’s advice, Gopakumara went back to Vrindavana and there, he started to perform Sankirtana in the forest. He was alone and he used to chant, call out the Lord by His name with all the love of his heart: “He Mukunda, he Gopala, he Nandanandana!” While he would sing, all the trees and birds also would sing with him. That is how it became Sankirtana. The trees would not echo but literally sing. To a mundane ear it may appear that the trees were actually echoing his chanting.
In this way, Gopakumar was spending his time in Vrindavana chanting the names of the Lord with all the love of his heart. Then, one day, he saw Krishna. As soon as he saw Krishna, he just ran to catch Him. He almost caught Him. He caught the end of His cloth, but Krishna moved swiftly from there and the cloth slipped from his hand. From there, Krishna went swiftly behind a bush and Gopakumar could not see Him. His feeling at that time was like a very poor man who all of a sudden received a lot of wealth and just after receiving it, lost that wealth. Gopakumar became so heartbroken that he fainted and his body rolled down into Yamuna.
When Gopakumar came back to his senses, he found himself traveling in a spaceship at an incredible speed. He found himself in Vrindavana. When he arrived in Vrindavana, it was afternoon there. He found some young girls picking flowers and they were all speaking about Krishna, but when Gopakumar asked, “Where is Krishna?”, he did not get any answer.
Then, one elderly person told him that Krishna has gone to the forest to tend the cows. He would be coming back soon. He saw that everyone was eagerly looking towards a certain direction. He looked at that direction and saw that in the horizon, the dust was flying. Then he heard the sound of laughter and the mooing of cows. Then he saw Krishna and Balarama are coming with the cowherd boys along with the cows.
When Gopakumar saw Krishna, he just ran to meet Krishna. Krishna also saw Gopakumar and He also ran to meet with Gopakumar. when they met, they just embraced each other. Krishna, in a delirious way, started to tell him, “My dear friend, where have you been?” He was expressing how much He missed him. While speaking like that Krishna fainted and Gopakumar also fainted. When the cowherd girls saw Krishna fainting like that, they all started to cry. They felt that this must be one of Kamsa’s demons that Kamsa sent to harm Krishna.
Balarama came running. Seeing Krishna’s condition, he could see what actually happened. So, he brought Gopakumar back to his senses and told Gopakumar to chant Krishna’s name to His ear. When Gopakumar started to chant Krishna’s name to His ear, then Krishna came back to His senses.
Then Krishna invited Gopakumar to come along with Him to His house. So Gopakumar went with Krishna and Balarama. Just when they entered the house from the porch, Krishna bid all His friends good-bye and said, “I will see you all tomorrow morning.” Some of the boys went back to their house. Some of the boys did not even go back to their house, they just laid down under some tree with some animals from the forest like deer and peacocks, just waiting for the next morning when they would get to see Krishna again.
In this way Sanatan Goswami describes how this cowherd boy Gopakumar went back to Goloka Vrindavana.
Q. What is that mantra that can fulfill our desires?
A. Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. Mahaprabhu said, “prabhu kahe kahilam ei mahamantra yaha saba japo giya koriya nirbandha… iha hoite sarva siddhi hoibe tomar.” So Mahaprabhu said, “I gave you this mantra. Now you chant this mantra with full conviction.”
Q. But wasn’t there a mantra that fulfilled Gopakumar ’s desires?
A: But this is an even better mantra.
Q. But what was that mantra?
A: That mantra is dasakshara gopala mantra. Generally the mantras are not uttered in public. Actually, we have an eighteen-syllable mantra and a twelve-syllable Krishna mantra. The twelve-syllable mantra is called Krishna Gayatri and the eighteen syllable mantra is called Kama Gayatri. Above all the mantras is the Hare Krishna Maha-mantra. Nothing can match or equal the Hare Krishna Maha-mantra.
Q. If the Hare Krishna Maha-mantra is the most powerful, why do we say it out loud and not the Gayatri?
A. Because Mahaprabhu gave us the Maha-mantra and gave us the permission to chant loudly and give it to anybody. Whereas the Gayatri Mantra, by nature, is a secret. That is why it is better not to transgress the scriptural injunctions.
Q. When Gopakumar went to Vrindavana, why wouldn’t anyone tell him where is Krishna?
A. Because they are so absorbed in thoughts of Krishna that they did not have any external consciousness.
Q. Was it because Gopakumar was a special personality that Krishna embraced him? You said yesterday that we should not expect Krishna to embrace us.
A. When the living entity goes back, Krishna may embrace him or her, but that does not become their constant position with Krishna. Say, in the Rasa dance, Krishna does not dance the Rasa dance with everybody, only with the sakhis. The others only assist the sakhis with their dealings with Krishna. They do not aspire to assume their position. They are happy just being their maidservants. Even Nanda Maharaja or Mother Yasoda, it is not that anybody will assume that position, but they will become servants of Nanda Maharaja or Mother Yasoda, subordinate to them. That is how one enters into Vrindavana, by following a resident of Vrindavana. The residents of Vrindavana are those intimate devotees of Krishna. Krishna may give His embrace to a devotee sometimes but that does not give them that exclusive position.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

The History Of Vaishnava Heritage Part-6

Today I will try to make the class a little more interesting by telling a story. I will get into the story of Brhad Bhagavatamrita. This is a book by Sanatana Goswami. In a way, this is the summary of Srimad Bhagavatam. What has been taught in Srimad Bhagavatam, Sanatana Goswami is presenting that through a story. First, Brhad Bhagavatamrita is presented in two parts, the initial part and the latter part. Literally it means the eastern and northern parts. The initial part describes Narada Muni’s search for the greatest devotee.
Before getting into that story, I would like to briefly discuss the condition of India when Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came to spread Krishna consciousness. It is very interesting to note that when Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came to spread Krishna consciousness in India, practically the whole of India was under Muslim domination. India had been the target for many foreign attacks but no one actually succeeded in entering India before for thousands of years. Only about a thousand years ago the Muslim invaders succeeded in entering into India. Srila Prabhupada very expertly pointed out that it happened because India lost the Vedic culture. When the people in India were practicing the Vedic culture, India was not only the most prosperous country in the world, but the most powerful country in the world. As Kali Yuga entered and India started to deviate from Vedic culture, India lost its power.
Today we can see that since India has practically rejected the Vedic culture, in spite of having everything, India is considered one of the poorest countries in the world. Actually, India is not a poor country. In natural resources and human resources India is very wealthy one of the richest countries in the world. But India today has become one of the poorest countries in the world because India has rejected the Vedic culture. This indicates that when people practice Vedic culture, they will become very prosperous and powerful, but when they reject Vedic culture, they lose all good qualities.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu obviously descends with a purpose and the time and place He selects also has its relevance. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appeared in the age of Kali with a specific purpose. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appeared in the land of India with a specific purpose. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appeared in this particular part of India with a specific purpose. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu selected a time when this country was completely taken over by a group of people who were extremely inimical to Vedic culture.
In fact, when the Muslims came to India, they deliberately started to do things which were completely contradictory to Vedic culture. To give an example, in Vedic culture, the kshatriyas keep moustache and they shave their beard. The Muslims started to shave their moustache and keep their beard. In Vedic culture, one keeps a sikha. They started to keep a tuft of hair at the front of their head. In Vedic culture, the cow is considered to be an asset and worshipable as the mother, but the Muslims came and started to kill the cows. It is not that the Muslim religion promotes cow killing. To begin with, where the Muslim religion actually flourished, in the Middle East, there, no one had cows. And if one had a cow, he was considered a very rich man. So obviously, in that culture, there was no question of killing a cow. I heard that in the beginning of the Quran, there is a chapter called Sura-al-bakar, purely in glorification of the cow. So the religion that Mohammed propounded did not allow cow killing, but the Muslims, when they invaded India, started to kill cows. Killing the cows became their religion.
These anti-vedic invaders took over the entire India and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu actually descended at a time like that. At that time, Bengal was ruled by tyrannical king Hussein Shah. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appeared at that time. It was a time when the Hindus, especially the Brahmins, were tortured to death. The female members of their families were tortured in front of the male members in order to force them to convert. In such a situation, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu descended and He selected a time like that to teach us that this Krishna consciousness movement will flourish irrespective of any material conditions. Even if we are in the worst material condition, we should not become disheartened. Even if we are facing opposition, we should have implicit faith in Krishna. We should have implicit faith in Chaitanya Mahaprabhu that if we follow this process, Krishna consciousness movement will spread. In order to instill that faith in us, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Himself appeared in such a difficult time.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu started spreading Krishna consciousness directly after He got initiated by Isvara Puri in Gaya. Mahaprabhu stayed in Bengal for a few years after that. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu started to preach very, very effectively and He stood up against the Muslim rulers. In this area, the district magistrate was Chand Kazi. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu stood up against him when Chand Kazi tried to stop the sankirtan movement. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu started His civil disobedience movement. Chand Kazi was so scared that he submitted himself to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. then Chaitanya Mahaprabhu converted some very very powerful when were very very degraded, like Jagai and Madhai. In this way, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu created a tidal wave of spiritual uprising.
Then, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu took sannyasa, left home, and went to Jagannath Puri. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu instructed Nityananda Prabhu to spread Krishna consciousness in Bengal. He instructed the Goswamis, especially Rupa Goswami and Sanatana Goswami to go to Vrindavana and retrieve the lost places of Krishna’s pastimes and write scriptures to establish the eternal religion of the living entity, sanatana dharma. To establish the teachings of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the Goswamis wrote their literatures. Of them, six are most prominent: Rupa Goswami, Sanatan Goswami, Raghunatha Dasa Goswami, Raghunatha Bhatta Goswami, Gopala Bhatta Goswami and Sri Jiva Goswami.
Rupa Goswami and Sanatana Goswami received instructions directly from Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. They were actually very elevated. They were holding some very responsible positions in the Muslim King’s court. Sanatana Goswami was the Prime minister of Hussein Shah and Rupa Goswami was the Finance Minister. But as soon as they came in contact with Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, they lost all interest in their respectable ministerial positions.
Rupa Goswami was the first one to leave. Then Sanatana Goswami also quit his job and they went to Vrindavana. When they went to Vrindavana, they were actually leading a very humble and simple life. They were practically maintaining themselves by begging. In those days, Vrindavana was just a forest. The places of Krishna’s pastimes were lost from human eyes. That is why Chaitanya Mahaprabhu actually asked Rupa Goswami and Sanatana Goswami to retrieve those places.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu also Himself re-discovered Syama Kunda and Radha Kunda.  They were just a paddy field with knee-deep water in some parts. They were practically lost and filled up with mud. Five thousand years is a long time. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu indicated that these were the two places of Krishna and Radharani’s pastimes, the pond that was very dear to Srimati Radharani. It is said that the water of Radha Kund is not actually water, it is the liquid love of Srimati Radharani. And Syama Kunda is the place where all the places of pilgrimage have appeared.
The Goswamis wrote volumes of literatures. Out of them, the prominent ones are: Rupa Goswami wote Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu, Ujjvala Nilamani, Lalita Madhava, Vidagdha Madhava, these are his famous writings. Sanatana Goswami’s well-known writings are Hari Bhakti Vilasa, Brhad Bhagavatamrta.
Today we will discuss about the Brhad Bhagavatamrta. Jiva Goswami was a prolific writer. He wrote Sat-sandarbha, the six sandarbhas. Sandarbhas means philosophical treatise. Then he wrote Gopala Champu. That is a very beautiful writing dscribing Krishna’s pastimes in a very profound way.  Today we will discuss the first part of Brhad Bhagavatamrta. This book is very interesting because just by understanding it, we can get the perfect understanding of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s teachings. Srila Sanatana Goswami, in the first part of Brihad Bhagavatamrita, is describing Narada Muni’s search for a pure devotee. All the saintly persons were in Prayaga.  Narada Muni was there also and they all were addressing each other as the greatest devotee and glorifying each other. So, Narada Muni decided to find out who is actually the greatest devotee.
At that time, Narada Muni came across a wealthy Brahmana who was very sincerely serving the Lord. Narada Muni was so impressed by seeing the Brahmana that he just went to him and started glorifying him as the greatest devotee of the Lord and the recipient of the greatest mercy of the Lord. When the Brahmana heard that, he said, “No, No, I am not the greatest devotee, I am only trying to become a devotee. The real devotee is such and such king in South India. You go there and you will see what a great personality he is.”
Narada Muni went there and found that it was true. This king, although he had so many responsibilities, was completely absorbed. All of his activities were centered around glorifying and serving the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The brahmana told him, “You see, I am a brahmana, so my occupation is actually to serve the Lord, so there is nothing great about it. But this king, although he is a kshatriya,, see how wonderfully he is serving the Lord.” That was his reason for identifying the king as the greatest devotee.
So Narada Muni went and started to glorify the king as the greatest devotee of the Lord. The king said, “Look, I am just an ordinary, mortal, human being. What is my ability to serve Krishna? Actually, it is Indra, the king of heaven, who is the greatest devotee of the Lord. He is such a great devotee that the Lord Himself appeared as his younger brother and receives his worship and offerings personally with His own hands.
Narada Muni went to the heavenly planets and started to glorify Indra as the greatest devotee. Indra started to lament, “You are calling me the greatest devotee, but you don’t know how much trouble I cause for the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Whenever the demons attack me and I am in distress, I just pray to Him and He comes to reinstate me. Do you remember what happened during His Vrindavana pastimes? I challenged His authority and tried to flood Vrindavana. It was such a great offence, even to think of it I feel so embarrassed that I feel like committing suicide.” In this way, Indra started to lament and he pointed out, “Actually, Brahma is the greatest devotee. Brahma is not only the engineer of this universe and is maintaining the universe, but in one day of Brahma, fourteen Indras like me appear and disappear. So actually, Brahma is the greatest devotee.”
So Narada Muni went to Brahma and started to glorify Brahma as the greatest devotee. Hearing that, Brahma just covered his ears and started to say,  “Sri Vishnu, Sri Vishnu, Sri Vishnu. Narada, how many times do I have to tell you not to embarrass me like this?” Narada is Brahma’s son and he told Narada many times that he is not the greatest devotee. Brahma also started to lament how many times he created distress for the Lord. So many times, he gave all kinds of boons to the demons. As a result, the demons created so many difficulties and as a result, the Lord had to come personally to rectify the situation. He said, “Actually, Lord Siva is the greatest devotee.”
Narada Muni then went to Kailash and there he offered obeisances to Lord Siva, addressing him as the greatest devotee. Lord Shiva came to Narada, picked him up from the ground, embraced him, and started to say, “Narada, I am not the greatest devotee of the Lord. The residents of Vaikuntha are the greatest devotees of the Lord because they are the eternal associates of the Lord. You are calling me a great devotee, but consider that I became so puffed up with my elevated position that I think that I am the greatest. I even fight against the Supreme Personality of Godhead, siding with my followers like Banasura. When Krishna went to kill Banasura, I went to fight against Krishna. Krishna brought me back to my senses by not only cutting the arms of Banasura, but also burning my abode, Varanasi. So I had to run away from there.” In this way, Lord Siva started to lament and started to glorify the position of the residents of Vaikuntha, the eternal associates of the Lord. Then Parvati started to explain that among all the residents of Vaikuntha, Lakshmi Devi is the greatest devotee.
When Narada was about to go to Vaikuntha, Lord Shiva stopped him and said, “But still, even greater than the residents of Vaikuntha is Prahlada. Prahlada Maharaja is even greater than the residents of Vaikuntha. He resides in Sutala loka.” Narada Muni went to Prahlada Maharaja. Prahlada Maharaja, when Narada Muni started to glorify him as the greatest devotee, he started to explain in a very humble mood that he is not actually a great devotee. His devotion was just like a child’s attachment to something. He was a little child and he just developed some attachment to Krishna and that was about it. Actually the real devotee was Hanuman. He started to explain that Hanuman had done so much for the Lord. Prahlada Maharaja said that all he had done was display some childish sentiments towards the Lord, but service wise, he did not do anything noticeable. Actually, when he was in distress, the Lord had come to save him so many times, but Hanuman had
done so much for the Lord.
Narada Muni went to Hanuman and when he started to describe Hanuman as the greatest devotee, Hanuman started to cry, “Already my heart is afflicted due to separation from the Lord. Why are you inflicting more pain into that heart? If I was a devotee of the Lord, then why did He reject me? I am separated from my Lord. I cannot see Him any =more. The real devotees are the Pandavas. The Lord is with them and they are in constant association with the Lord.” In this way, Hanuman started to glorify the Pandavas.
Then Narada Muni went to Hastinapur and met the Pandavas. He started to offer them all words of glorification and worship. The Pandavas started to tell Narada Muni that actually the Yadavas were the greatest devotees. They are the eternal associates of the Lord, the relatives of the Lord. We actually remembered the Lord only when we were in distress. We only took His help. Look at the Yadavas, they were born in the same family and have the constant association with the Lord.”
Narada Muni went to Dwarika. In Dwarika, he went to the Sudharma assembly.  There, he started to glorify the Yadavas. The Yadavas then explained to him, “Uddhava is the greatest devotee. He is always with the Lord. The Lord is so close to Uddhava that He consults with him as if Uddhava is His minister. He is such a close friend of the Lord that the Lord sends him on all of the important missions to execute them.” In this way, they all started to glorify Uddhava as the greatest devotee.
So, Narada Muni, with the prospect of meeting Uddhava, became so moved with emotion that he could barely walk. His legs were wobbling. His voice choked. He somehow made his way to the inner chamber of Krishna’s palace.  When he spoke to Uddhava, Uddhava said, “Narada Muni, you know, one time, I also had that misconception that I am the greatest devotee of the Lord, but ever since I went to Vrindavana, that misconception has been eradicated. If you really want to see the devotees of the Lord, go to see the residents of Vrindavana. Their love is unique for the Lord.”
At that time, Narada Muni saw that the queens and mother Devaki were feeling very much anxiety. They were talking amongst themselves. Narada Muni got to know that they were in such anxiety because Krishna had a dream of Vraja the night before and since then He became so heart-broken that He covered His whole body with the bed-sheet and He was crying. Although it was quite late in the day, He did not wake up as yet. In this way, they were talking. Then Mother Rohini said, “If Krishna is so much afflicted due to the separation from the residents of Vrindavana, then why doesn’t Krishna go to Vrindavana?”
Rukmini Devi replied, “Actually, Krishna’s heart is always in Vrindavana.  During the day time, don’t you know that He is always absent minded, as if,  although His body is here, His mind is somewhere else? At night, Krishna actually goes to Vrindavana in His dreams. He starts to call His friends, the cows, Nanda Maharaja, Mother Yasoda, as if He falls asleep and literally goes to Vrindavana and starts to associate with those residents of Vrindavana.
Balarama said, “This is His pretension. If He was really so much in love with the residents of Vrindavana, why is He causing so much pain for them?”
When Balarama said that, Krishna got up and started to cry, “What I would not give to go to Vrindavana!” He started to explain why He could not go to Vrindavana. Saying that, he embraced Balarama and started to cry. Then both of them fainted. When Krishna Balaram fainted, everyone started to cry loudly. From Sudharma assembly, the court, Ugrasena, and all the other members of the assembly came running and asked what happened. Then they started to wonder what to do now that Krishna had fainted.
Then Brahma called Garuda and told him to carry Krishna Balarama to New Vrindavana. An island in the ocean was made by Viswakarma to look just like Vrindavana. Narada Muni also went there. He saw that Balarama and Krishna were carried. Balarama came back to his senses and Brahma suggested that Krishna be dressed as a cowherd boy. So Krishna was dressed as a cowherd boy, a flute was tucked in, a flower was given, He was wearing a yellow dhoti, and a peacock feather on Head. So that place was created to look exactly like Vrindavana and dioramas of all the residents of Vrindavana were there. They were just statues, or Deities. Balaram woke Krishna up, “Krishna, Krishna, wake up, it is getting late.”
Krishna said, “Oh, it is so late. The Sun is already up. I slept so late.  Balarama, I had a strange dream last night that I went to a place and
became the king there and got married to sixteen thousand queens.”
Balarama said, “Okay, come on, everyone is waiting for you.”
Krishna saw mother Yasoda and mother Yasoda was just standing there.  Krishna felt that Mother Yasoda was angry and did not want to talk with Him, so Krishna said, “Mother, are you so angry with Me because I slept until late that you do not want to talk with Me?”
Balaram said, “Come, let’s go.”
When Krishna came across Radharani, He started to address Her as “My dearest.” The way that He started to deal with Radharani, Narada Muni realized that this person is the greatest, the dearest to Krishna.
In this way, through this first part of Brhad Bhagavatamrita, Sanatana Goswami established that of all the devotees, the residents of Vrindavana are the highest and of all the residents of Vrindavana, Srimati Radharani is the greatest recipient of Krishna’s love. Now you can see how Sanatana Goswami presented the essence of Srimad Bhagavatam through this Brhad Bhagavatamrita. He did not just jump to the conclusion but very systematically, Sanatana Goswami pointed out different degrees or different elevations of devotees and ultimately, that Srimati Radharani is the greatest devotee.
The part two describes about the journey of a cowherd boy to Goloka Vrindavana. That we will discuss tomorrow.
Q. Why did Krishna not go back to Vrindavana?
A: Krishna felt that if He went back to Vrindavana then it would be extremely difficult both for Himself as well as for the residents of
Vrindavana after such a separation. That is why He preferred not to go to Vrindavana.
Q: Unclear
A: Balaram actually pulled Him because He did not want to give Him a chance to realize that it is not the real Radharani. Of course, Radharani’s Deity is also Radharani.
Then, Krishna started to play His flute and the whole creation swooned.  Krishna was thinking the ocean was Yamuna and He told Balarama, “How come there is a big city on the other side of Yamuna (seeing Dwarika)? When did that happen? I did not know about that.”
Balarama said, “Krishna, come back to your senses. Although you have killed so many demons and your friends, the Pandavas, have been reinstated, the enemies are still going to try to attack the Pandavas.”
As soon as Krishna heard that, He screamed and came back to His identity as Krishna of Dwarika and said, “Whoever dares to do anything to my devotees, I will immediately take care. Let’s go and I will take care of the demons.”  In this way, He came back to His Dwarika consciousness.
Another important point about this question is that the Vrajendranandan Krishna never leaves Vrindavan. He is always in Vrindavan. It is only by Krishna’s yogamaya that they feel Krishna has left. As a result of that, when they see Krishna in front of them, they feel as if they are dreaming.  It is not as if they do not see Krishna. Krishna comes to them, and when they see Him, they deal with Him as if it is real. But then, they feel as if it is a dream. That is how, in Vrindavan, Krishna creates a situation where through separation, love becomes intensified. Through Krishna’s pastimes, it becomes quite clear to His devotees that the intensity of feeling in separation is deeper than union. The love becomes even more intensified in separation. Therefore, Krishna creates an illusion where they feel that Krishna has left. That is the reason why they feel that they are married to someone else. They are not married to anyone else. That illusory concept is created to intensify their love for Krishna.
Q: Is this aspect also present in Goloka Vrindavana?
A: In the spiritual world, this feeling is also there that Krishna went away and there is separation. The ultimate consideration is that Jiva
Goswami is saying that Krishna, the son of Nanda Maharaja never leaves Vrindavan. He does not step out of Vrindavan at all. The Krishna of Dwarika is another Krishna. That is Vasudeva Krishna. It is an expansion of Krishna, not the original Krishna. This has been established through the fact that when Akrura came to take Krishna, Krishna and Balarama went to take bath and there, Akrura actually saw the four-armed form of Krishna. At that point, Vasudeva Krishna came and got into the chariot and Vrajendra nandana Krishna walked back into the forest. So He did not really leave Vrindavan.
Q: (Unclear)
A: On Krishna’s part, Krishna always wants to give protection to His devotees but Krishna’s devotees do not want to give any trouble to Krishna. We are the servants, we should serve Him; not that Krishna should come and serve us. That is the feeling of the devotees and that is the loving reciprocation. In this intense love, not only the devotees love and serve Krishna, but Krishna also wants to reciprocate by serving them. But when Krishna does that, the devotees become very embarrassed and they feel very unhappy that they have caused Krishna to do something for them.
Q: Unclear
A: Krishna is arranging everything, but that is the Vaikuntha understanding. In Vrindavan, they do not feel that Krishna is arranging
everything. They feel that they are arranging everything. Mother Yasoda feels that unless she feeds Krishna, Krishna will die. This is the
difference between Vaikuntha understanding and Vrindavan understanding. In Vrindavan, devotees do not really think that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead who is arranging everything for everyone.
Q: In Vrindavan, the devotees are feeling bad that way?
A: In general, devotees do feel that way. Although they know that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, still, they want to serve Krishna rather than accepting service from Krishna.
Q: Do the pastimes of Vrindavana end when Krishna goes to Dwaraka since He never went back?
A: That is the apparent understanding, but according to Jiva Goswami, Krishna never left Vrindavana.
Q: But Krishna once went to Dwarika.
A: Let us take it from this view-point: Akrura went and took Krishna away, but actually at the border of Vrindavan and Mathura, Krishna went to take bath in the river. At that point, the Vasudev Krishna, Krishna the son of Vasudeva, came and got back onto the chariot. And Krishna, the son of Nanda Maharaja went back to Vrindavana. From that point onwards, the residents of Vrindavan had a feeling that Krishna has left, but from time to time, Krishna would deal with them. But when Krishna would come, they would feel that it was a dream, that it was not really real.
Q: So we don’t know that part?
A: There is some description, for example, in Lalita Madhava. For example, one day, Radharani was feeling great separation from Krishna and she was crying and crying. So Visakha painted a picture of Krishna and held it in front of Radharani. When Radharani saw that picture, she felt that the personality from the picture actually came out and tried to embrace her.  When He was trying to embrace, She felt very shy. At that point, the dream broke. That personality disappeared. Then, in this intense separation, She was feeling that it was pointless for her to be alive. She decided to give up her life. She just sat there with a desire to give up her life. At that point, Visakha told Her, “Radha, please open your eyes and see who is there.” When She opened Her eyes, She saw that Krishna was standing in front of Her. But when She saw Krishna standing in front of Her, She thought that She was dreaming. In this way, they cannot figure out when they are seeing real Krishna or when they are dreaming about Krishna or creating a mental image of Krishna. They are always absorbed in thinking about Krishna, in Krishna consciousness. In this way they are never separated from Krishna. Yet, this feeling of separation intensifies their love for Krishna. Ultimately, I would say that it is something that I cannot really explain because I do not understand.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

The History Of Vaishnava Heritage Part-5

Revealing His superexcellent pastimes from Goloka Vrindavan, which is this form of Krishna of Goloka Vrindavan, the Vrajendra-nandan Krishna is the Svayam Rupa Bhagavan. That is the original form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This Krishna, the son of Nanda Maharaja, whose form is like that of a human being, is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Then He expands. His first expansion is Balarama. Then from Balarama, there is the expansion of caturvyuha. That is Vasudeva, Sankarshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha. From that Sankarshana expands the Narayana forms of Vaikuntha. In this way expand different forms of the Lord in Vaikuntha like Nrsimha, Varaha, Kurma. They all have their special abodes in Vaikunthaloka.
In order to create this material nature, the Lord lies down in the causal ocean. From His body, the bubbles that come out are due to His respiration and different universes are formed. This is the general understanding of the expansions of the Lord and creation of the material nature.
When we go back, then we find that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is actually Krishna and His abode is Vrindavan. That abode of the Lord is even beyond Vaikuntha. There is a characteristic difference between Vaikuntha and Vrindavan. The difference is that Vaikuntha is the region of opulence.  There Narayana is the Supreme Lord and everyone else is His servant. There the Lord displays His opulence as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Wherever we go in Vaikuntha, we find this mood. This mood goes all the way up to Dwaraka where Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the prince. Prince means opulence.
But Vrindavana is beyond that region because in Vrindavana the opulence has become secondary and love has become the prominent factor. In Vrindavana, we do not see opulence as such. We do not see apparent opulence. We do not see big, big palaces, such display of grandeur like we find in Vaikuntha. But in Vrindavana we see a very intense loving relationship between Krishna and His devotees. In that loving relationship, opulence has become secondary.
Therefore, apparently, Vrindavana is a forest. The residents of Vrindavana are just villagers and their occupation is just tending cows and
cultivating the land, that also for the cows. There, we see that the Lord is not the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His devotees, His associates are not very exalted, noble personalities residing in absolute grandeur of the spiritual sky. They are actually living just like a group of village people. Their lifestyle is very simple. Their only asset and only concern is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Their love for the Lord is so intense and they are so absorbed in that love for the Lord that they do not care for anything else. Due to that love, we
find that the opulence of Vaikuntha and Dwaraka become insignificant. They do not care for the opulence. We can see that the love is superior to
opulence and that loving relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the highest achievement that one can have. In that pure love,
they do not care for any opulence.
In these pastimes of Vrindavana, Krishna reveals only once in a day of Brahma. Brahma’s day consists of one thousand cycles of Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dvapara Yuga and Kali Yuga. Each cycle consists of 4.32 million years. Therefore, each day of Brahma is comprised of 4.32 billion years. Once in a day of Brahma, Krishna, the original Supreme Personality of Godhead descends with His abode, Vrindavana.
He displays His superexcellent pastimes, the pastimes like that of a human being. It has been described in Chaitanya Charitamrita that of all
Krishna’s pastimes, the pastimes that are similar to the human being are the highest. Krsnero joteko khela tara madhye nara lila / nara vapuh tahara swarup. His form as a human being is His original form. Here we find one interesting quote from Bible also where it says that man has been created according to the image of God. This indicates that God’s form is like that of a man. Here we can see also that Jesus has the understanding of Krishna, the two-armed form of the Lord. Even in Vedic understanding also, the understanding is generally that the Lord is four-armed, only in Vrindavan the Lord is two-armed. In Dwaraka, sometimes He is two-armed and sometimes four-armed. Only in Vrindavana is He present in His original form, the form like that of a human being.
This pastime of the Lord as a human being is the highest of all His pastimes because in these pastimes of the Lord in Vrindavan there is the
possibility of developing a relationship with the Lord in friendship, parental and conjugal. This is not available in Vaikuntha. In Vaikuntha the
relationship between the Lord and His devotees or associates is based on neutrality and servitorship. There, the Lord is the Supreme master and
everyone else is his servant. That is the general standard in Vaikuntha. Everyone is the servant and Narayana is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Everyone is worshiping Him as God.
In the higher region of Vaikuntha, there is Dwaraka. There we find the relationship with the Lord is going from servitorship into friendship. Lord
Rama is asking Hanuman what He wants and Hanuman is saying, “My Lord, if you really want to bless me, then please give me your embrace.” So this embrace is friendship. So, Hanuman, from servitorship, friendship is coming. The Lord is giving him His embrace. Otherwise, everyone is treating Lord Ramachandra as the Lord and Master. Then, in Dwaraka, we find that the friendship has become a little more developed. There is some maturity in friendship, like Uddhava. Krishna treats Him like a friend. Still, that friendship is in awe and reverence. The understanding is there that Krishna is God, Krishna is the Supersoul. Then, we come to Vrindavana and we find that not only friendship, but even parental and conjugal relationships are manifest in the most perfect way. So perfect, that they have forgotten that Krishna is God. Out of their intense love for Krishna, they forget that He is God and they don’t want to treat Him like God. Their attitude is, “Even if you are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, so what?” In some cases, we see that they don’t even care for the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
In Vaikuntha there is servitorship. The entire relationship is based on servitorship because Narayana is displaying His opulence as God and
everyone is treating Him like God. Is it possible to develop friendship with God when you know that He is God? No, because friendship means
playing, wrestling and sometimes, while they are wrestling, they have to fight with Him. Not only that, in wrestling there is a condition in
Vrindavan that the loser has to carry the winner on his back. Sometimes, Krishna loses in that wrestling bout. Then, the cowherd boy who defeats Krishna says, “Krishna, now You have to carry me on Your back.”
Krishna says, “No, No, I did not lose. I actually slipped on a banana peel. Then, you jumped on me and now you are claiming that you won. This is cheating. I did not lose.”
Then he says, “No, Krishna, You lost and now You have to carry me on Your back.” Then Krishna refuses. Then the friend of Krishna forces his way onto Krishna’s back. Forcing his way onto Krishna’s back, can you imagine what it has to mean? It means that he has to place his foot on Krishna’s body and climb on to Krishna’s back.
Now my question is, who will ever do that to Krishna on the altar? Will any devotee ever dare to put his foot on Krishna’s form as the Deity? No,
therefore, in order to develop that relationship, one has to forget that Krishna is God. That is what yogamaya does. Yogamaya makes everyone in Vrindavana forget that Krishna is God. Another way to look at it is that their love for Krishna is so intense that they do not remember that Krishna is God. Or, their feeling is, “So what if Krishna is God?”
Sometimes, Madhumangala tells Krishna (Madhumangala is a brahmin, the son of Sandipani Muni), “Krishna, after all, I am a Brahmin. You should show some respect to me.”
Krishna says,” But you see, more important than birth is one’s deeds, the activities are more important. So you look at My activities, they are so
extraordinary. So you have to recognize that I am also a very great personality.”
Madhumangala says, “See how conceited You have become.”
Krishna says, “See, I have done so many great things. When I was seven days old, Putana came to kill Me and I killed Putana. Then I killed
Trinavartasura. When I was seven years old, I lifted Giri Govardhana. You saw how I subdued Kaliya. These are my superexcellent activities and you must recognize Me from My activities.”
Then Madhumangala starts to say, “Putana, when You were seven days old, what ability You had? You were just a little kid, but it is said that the demigods protect the children and old people. So it is the demigods who actually killed Putana and now you want to take credit for that. As far as lifting Giri-Govardhana, Nanda Maharaja, Balarama and all the cowherd men were propping Giri Govardhana up and you want to take the whole credit. Actually Giri Govardhana could be held up like that because all these powerful gopas were holding it up. As far as subduing Kaliya is concerned, You were finished, You were dead, everyone saw. Your bluish complexion became even darker due to his poison and You were in his coils. Everyone saw that You were finished. You were dead. Seeing You, Nanda Maharaja, Yasoda, they all fainted. Seeing that, I took pity on them. Then I started to chant the mantra to subdue a serpent. As a result of that, Kaliya became so frightened that he released You from his coils. Then You jumped up on his head and started dancing as if You have done a great job.”
So Krishna says, “O I see. So please accept My humble obeisances.”
This is how the devotees of Vrindavana treat Krishna. This is the most wonderful prerogative that Krishna provides to some very special devotees. Krishna performed these pastimes five thousand years ago in Vrindavana, in this earthly Vrindavana, Bhauma Vrindavana. Performing that pastime, Krishna considered that I revealed My pastimes in this world and only a few qualified people could be elevated to that pastime because in Vrindavana pastimes, Krishna actually comes with His nitya siddha associates from Goloka Vrindavana. Only a few sadhana siddhas are there who achieved their perfection and entered those pastimes.
They are known as Sruticharis and Rishicharis, the sages of Dandakaranya who desired this relationship with Lord Ramachandra during His pastimes in Treta Yuga and Lord Ramachandra fulfilled their desire and they were elevated to Vrindavana the exponents of the Upanishads also got entry to Krishna’s Vrindavana pastimes, but that is just a handful. So Krishna considered that, “I have revealed My Vrindavana pastimes, but how will one have access to Vrindavana, entrance to Vrindavana ?”
Because Krishna considered that generally a devotee serves the Lord according to Vaidhi Bhakti, following the rules and regulations one performs devotional service. When one attains perfection by following Vaidhi Bhakti, then one is elevated to Vaikuntha. One will automatically serve the Lord in Vaidhi Bhakti and go to Vaikuntha. “So how will one get his entry into Vrindavana,” Krishna started to consider. The devotees will serve the Lord in awe and reverence through Vaidhi Bhakti and the destination is Vaikuntha.
Therefore, Krishna decided to come as a devotee, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. By serving this devotee Krishna in Vaidhi Bhakti, one will be able to enter into Vrindavana. So the reason why Krishna appeared as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu after His Vrindavan pastimes in Dvapara Yuga is to allow living entities entry into Goloka Vrindavana. If you serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, you will naturally serve him in Vaidhi Bhakti. By serving Him in that way, you will go to Vaikuntha where you achieve perfection. But when one serves the devotee Krishna, Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, in awe and reverence, then he will get his entrance to Vrindavana, when he attains perfection by attaining the mercy of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. So this is one of the hidden reasons why Krishna appeared as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. That devotion to the Supreme Personality of Godhead in Vaidhi Bhakti means in Shanta rasa and Dasya Rasa. Mahaprabhu means the Supreme Master; therefore, we all are His servants. When we serve Chaitanya Mahaprabhu as a servant then we get an
entry to Vrindavan, or the gate of Vrindavana opens up for us.
Question Unclear
Serving Krishna as God, that will be by Vaidhi Bhakti. Through Vaidhi Bhakti our destination will be Vaikuntha. But when we serve Krishna as a devotee, not as God, by serving the Lord as a devotee, we get entry to Vrindavana. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came as a devotee meaning Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came assuming the mood of Srimati Radharani. What is the way to enter into Vrindavan? By surrendering to one of the residents of Vrindavan. When we are surrendering to Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, whom are we actually following? Srimati Radharani, that is how we are getting access to Vrindavana. That is why He assumed this form: to enable the living entities in the age of Kali to have an access to Vrindavana.
Vrindavana devotion means love, loving devotion where rules and regulations are not important but the spontaneous love of the heart is what matters. Rules and regulations become secondary and the love becomes the principal consideration.
The devotion is called raganuga bhakti. That is the difference between Vaikuntha and Vrindavana. In Vaikuntha, it is vaidhi bhakti. In Vrindavana it is raga bhakti. Raga means love. Raga actually means the color, that is the real expression of raga. What is the color of heart? The color of heart is emotions. When we approach Krishna with that emotion of heart, that heart, that is raga bhakti.
Question unclear
Very few got it, very few fortunate ones. One example is those rishis, the sages of Dhandakaranaya who had the opportunity to come across Lord
Ramachandra. They spontaneously felt a kind of love for Lord Ramchandra, but as lord Ramchanrdra, that desire could not be fulfilled. So, Lord
Ramchandra assured them that when I come in Dvapara Yuga as Lord Krishna, then you can develop that relationship  with Me. So they got that access. Or some devotees who had become almost perfect, to smooth out the rough edges, they got entrance into the Vrindavana pastimes. They were born in the houses of the Gopis as a cowherd boy or cowherd girl. Then they developed their relationship and went back to Godhead. So it was very, very rare in other ages, especially before Dwapara Yuga. You can see in this age how easy it has become. That is the mercy of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. That is the mercy of Srila Prabhupada.
Question : If we get entry in Vrindavana by serving Chaitanya Mahaprabhu does that mean that we do not practice raganuga bhakti?
Raganuga bhakti we have to enter very carefully and the mood should always be that we are not qualified. If we think that “ Yes I am qualified and I am after all, not an ordinary personality,” that will be very, very dangerous. Our mood should be that we are not qualified. That is why our acharyas did not speak so much about raganuga bhakti. They simply wrote about. Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur hardly spoke about raganuga bhakti . He barely uttered the name of Srimati Radharani. One has to be very, very careful. We feel unqualified but when Chaitany Mahaprabhu considers that we are qualified, then it will happen from within our hearts, from within ourselves . That is the way to enter into raganuga   bhakti.  But if we try to trespass into that region then we are running the risk of becoming sahajyas.
Why Chaitanya Mahaprabhus movement suffered such a setback after His disappearance? Because people did not understand and they started to prematurely delve into it. The result was they became sahajiyas. That is the caution that we have to take. Actually Mahaprabhu came to give it to us.
Bhaktisiddhant Saraswati Thakur, when he was taking the Deities from Ultadanga Road to Baag Bazaar when they built the temple, he was singing one song, “pooja rago patha gaurava bhange matala sadhu jana bisaya range”. The pooja rago patha, the accepting and worshiping the path of raga and the awe and reverence, or vaidya bhakti became bhange, subdued or suppressed. And the mood actually is matala sadhu jana bisaya range, the sadhus become involved in vishya, apparently materialistic activities like building big, big temples. This is our understanding raga bhakti. For the sake of spreading Krishna consciousness, we are going to accept anything.
That is the mood that Srilla Prabhupada established in a most perfect way. In ISKCON we see that devotees are using all material facilities, a person that is less informed will think, “what is happening? They are supposed to be sadhus but look at their activities,” Many people cannot relate to sadhu flying around the world, building big, big temples, meeting with all kinds of important people in the world, dealing with millions of dollars. Is this what a sadhu is supposed to do? No, but why are these sadhus in ISKCON doing that or why are the followers of Bhaktisiddhant Saraswati Thakur doing that: because of their love for the supreme personality of Godhead and loyalty to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu`s mission. This is what serving Chaitanya Mahaprabhu means.
Chaitany Mahaprabhu wanted to spread Krishna consciousness all over the world. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu`s followers, like Srila Prabhupada, considered that if we just sit under a tree on the bank of the Ganges, that is not going to happen. If we want to spread Krishna consciousness all over the world, we have to take advantage of all these material facilities, of all the advancement this world has made, like using aircrafts, computers, everything for the sake of spreading Krishna consciousness. Our understanding of raga bhakti is this. Not just sitting in a isolated corner and imagining Radha-Krishna`s pastimes. That is fine, but Srila Prabhupada reminded us that that should be done very carefully and at very advanced stage.
Prabhupada pointed out that when the heart is completely free from sex desire, then only one should meditate on those pastimes. Otherwise, one
will run the risk of falling down. That is the caution that has been give.  The point is that in order to follow the raganuga bhakti we have to be very careful. Internally we should feel that we are not qualified we will never have access You see, we gain access when we are qualified. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu will lead the way.
Srila Prabhupada once actually told me, not me, but I was present in the room, Srila Prabhupada told someone who wanted to know about spiritual identity, about his swarupa. Prabhupada got very angry and started chastising: “Do not worry about your swarupa. When the time comes, I will personally come and give you your svarupa.” So why hurry? Isn’t it wonderful to be engaged Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s sankirtan movement? When you already have this wonderful engagement, let’s just be completely satisfied and content. Then, in due course of time, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu will bestow His mercy upon us. On the other hand, if we prematurely try to enter into raganuga bhakti, then we will run the risk of becoming sahajiyas. What does sahajiya actually mean? One consciously or unconsciously starts to think that he is Krishna and he can indulge in these activities that Krishna did in Vrindavana. That is why Prabhupada and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati
Thakur, Bhaktivinod Thakur made it very clear that everybody in this movement has to follow the four regulative principles, no compromise. that is the safeguard, the preventive measure from falling down or becoming a sahajiya. If one follows the four regulative principles, we are protecting ourselves. Then we can serve Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and in due course it will happen.
Q. Are the residents of Vrindavan feeling that they are lacking anything?
No, they are perfectly content, but the point is that those who had become exposed to the teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and through that became exposed to Krishna’s Vrindavana pastimes, even when they go to Vaikuntha, they will not be satisfied. The residents of Vaikuntha are satisfied. They do not have any discontentment, but those who have become exposed to Vrindavana pastimes, they will not be satisfied. That is the point.
Q. What is the remedy?
The remedy has been explained by Sanatana Goswami in Brhad Bhagavatamrita.  He is showing the journey of a cowherd boy back to Vrindavana. This particular boy, he goes all the way up to Dwaraka. There he is having the association of Krishna, but still his heart is not content. Still there is some dissatisfaction. One day, Narada Muni saw him and said, “What is the matter? You are in Dwaraka. You are receiving the mercy of the Lord. Why are you still not fully content? He started to say, “Actually my heart is yearning for a young boy that tends cows in the forest at the bank of the river and plays the flute.” Started to describe and then Narada Muni told him that your attachment is to Vrindavana. He advised, “You go back to earthly Vrindavana, Bhauma Vrindavana. There you perform sankirtan.” According to Narada Muni’s advice, he came down to Vrindavana and he started to perform sankirtana calling out to Krishna with all the love of his heart. As a result of that, he was elevated to Goloka Vrindavana. The remedy is that. Even from Dwaraka one will have to come down to this Vrindavana and
perform sankirtan. Sankirtana actually means calling out to the Lord with all the love of one’s heart. By performing sankirtana, which Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu actually gave, one will become eligible to be elevated to spiritual Vrindavana.
Question : If one attains Raga bhakti, how will we worship Lord Chaitanya?
Worship of Lord Chaitanya originally takes place in the form of Sankirtana: Yajnaih sankirtana prayair yajanti hi sumedhasah, or, sankirtana yajne kore Krsna aradhana. Through Sankirtana, in this age, Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu is worshipped. Ultimately, it is through this Sankirtana, which is calling out to the Lord with all the love of the heart. By doing that, one will begin to see that this Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is actually Radha and Krishna. They will see Radha-Krishna through Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.On that stage, the worship will take place through Gaura-Gadadhara worship, Radharani as Gadadhara and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Gaura-Nitai worship is in Vaidhi Bhakti and Gaura-Gadadhara worship is in raga bhakti. The way Gadadhara is seeing is the way Radharani is seeing Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The question
arises, Krishna assumed the mood and complexion of Radharani and came as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and then Radharani also wanted to watch what happens. Therefore She came as Gadadhara. As Gadadhara, She is actually watching Krishna assume the mood of Srimati Radharani.
Q. Did you say that worship of Gaura-Nitai is in Vaikuntha?
No, in Vaidhi bhakti. You see, when we are worshipping through vaidhi bhakti, following the rules and regulations, one worships Gaura-Nityananda. When Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is worshiped in Raga Bhakti, as Pankajanghri prabhu asked, then the worship is in Raga Bhakti. That worship is done by very advanced devotees. Bhaktivinode Thakur had his Gaura-Gadadhara Deities.  Some of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s associates also worshipped Gaura-Gadadhara.
Q. How can we enter into Vrindavan by worshiping Chaitanya Mahaprabhu?
When we are approaching Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, what are we actually doing?  It is not that we are getting stuck with Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Through Chaitanya Mahaprabhu we are getting to see Radha-Krishna through Vrindavana. When we approach Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is saying, “Worship that Radha-Krishna.” He is not saying, “Worship Me.” He is saying, “Worship Radha and Krishna.” Through that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu we are getting to know the real identity of Krishna in Vrindavana and His pastimes
in Vrindavan.
These pastimes of Krishna in Vrindavana were not revealed until Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came. Even the Gaudiya Vaishnavas could not really understand. Many of them thought that these were secondary pastimes. They thought that Krishna is a secondary incarnation of Kshirodakasayi Vishnu. Some even considered that these pastimes are immoral or obscene. Only when Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came, through His teachings we got to know. If we consider the history, then we will see that before Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Radha-Krishna’s identity was not actually revealed.
And for us, we can say that before Srila Prabhupada, this understanding was not clear. So when we approach Srila Prabhupada, what do we see? Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s teachings: Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, His abode is Vrindavana, and the way the gopis of Vrindavana served Him is the highest.
Q. In Vrindavana there is no understanding of Krishna as God, how can we enter that understanding?
In Vrindavana, we do not become one of those principle gopis that Krishna is directly dealing with or one of those principle cowherd boys or Nanda Maharaja or Mother Yasoda. We simply become their servants and watch the fun. We do not indulge in the pastimes of Krishna ourselves. We simply assist them. That is our position. We do not accept that Krishna is going to come and embrace us. We see how Krishna is dealing with those intimate associates and embracing them or His very funny and loving exchanges with them. Just by watching that or assisting them we will derive our pleasure. Yes, we have the understanding, but at the same time, there, we derive a great joy from seeing how they are dealing with Krishna. That is the meaning of being subordinate to a resident of Vrindavana. That is the way of entering Vrindavana. The understanding will be there with us and therefore we will have great fun watching how they deal with Krishna, the Supreme  Personality of Godhead. Mother Yasoda is, with a rope in her hand and a stick in the other hand, chasing Krishna. We know what she is doing, that she is chasing the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as if a little child, is running, as if He is afraid of His mother to get away from her. When she catches Him, He starts to cry. What a great performance! That is meaning of Lila, pastimes. The last point is that why it is so important for us to follow the four regulative principles while practicing the process of Raganuga Bhakti. Therefore Prabhupada did not want to make any compromise with these four regulative principles.