O Kiśora-Kiśorī, O Śyāma, the prince of Vraja, O Rādhikā, the darling daughter of Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja, Your names are mind-enchanting. I am taking a straw in my mouth and praying to Your lotus feet. txt. 5

Having a straw between his teeth, Śrīla Narottama Ṭhākura prays, “Ha Kiśora! Ha Kiśorī! I hope my service continuously runs. Please accept my service. I have been serving many people since millions of lives. But they were never pleased by my services. I have never attained liberation or relief by serving them. Although I continuously served them, they rejected me. Everyone kicked me away. Today, I am serving the gopīs of Gokula under Your guidance. Please accept my service! I hope to never be distance from you.”
Līlā-śakti will cleanse us thoroughly during the time of sādhana. Externally, a sādhaka will engage himself in śravaṇa-kīrtana. But, he will be very greedy for vraja-bhāva on the inside. He will have a relation with Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s followers. His heart will be very clean.

Śrīla Narottama Ṭhākura says, “Ha Kiśora! Ha Kiśorī! Ha Rādhā-Mādhava! By obtaining Your foot dust, my life will be successful.”
The sādhaka will also call out, “Ha Vraja-rāja-kumāra! Ha Nandarāja-kumāra! Ha Syāma! Ha Vṛṣabhānu-nandinī!”
He will have a sphūrti (divine revelation) of Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. Uddīpana (stimuli for the Divine Couple’s service) will also appear in his heart. Vraja-rāja-nandana Syāma will then appear in the sādhaka’s heart. Thus, the sādhaka’s life will become successful.
We will advance in our bhajana when we become humble and soft. We will chant our mantras and harināma more effectively. Before, the heart was hard like a stone. The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam states:

śṛṇvatāṁ sva-kathāḥ kṛṣṇaḥ puṇya-śravaṇa-kīrtanaḥ
hṛdy antaḥstho hy abhadrāṇi vidhunoti suhṛt satām
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.2.17
Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is the friend of the devotees, cleanses all inauspiciousness and unwanted things from the heart of one who has developed a desire to hear His narrations. By listening to Śrī Hari’s glories, we will realize how hari-kathā is our good friend. This hari-kathā will enter our hearts, and turn it into a nice garden that will yield many fruits for the Lord. Our heart will then become a playing center for Śrī Hari. But, our ears are blocked by many pieces of stone (anarthas). Hari-kathā cannot enter our hearts. These pieces of stone cannot be melted. Śrīla Narahari Sarkāra Ṭhākura says:

narahari hiyā, pāṣāna diyā, kemone gaḍiyāche
How has Narahari been given a stone in place of a heart?
The heart is harder than the hardest of rocks. By the touch of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s, Rāmacandra’s, and Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet, even stones melt. But our hearts don’t melt. The qualities of humility and meekness don’t manifest in our hearts. How will mantra and nāma work? A seed placed on top of a stone will never sprout. Firstly, the land must be ploughed. When the seed is thus sown, it will automatically sprout and grow. So, it is necessary to cultivate the heart.

Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura, with a straw between his teeth, weeps and says, “Ha Kiśora! Ha Kiśorī! I am praying at Your lotus feet. I am not humble. My bhajana is lifeless.”
We chant and try collecting many moods, but they don’t remain in our hearts. Why? We have no humility. How can prema manifest in our hearts? Our hearts will remain untransformed. When the Vraja-devīs experience separation, their kṛṣṇa-prema becomes stronger.

An ordinary form of love is not strong. It will break as soon as the lovers’ desires are not fulfilled. Why do couples divorce each other? Their love is not strong. We distribute whatever love we have into mundane relationships and thus lose everything.
Love will always grow, and develop when it is directed towards Kṛṣṇa. We will have no problems. But, we will lose everything if we are complacent. And then, nothing will happen. By coming near Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, we are uplifted. But we may not care for senior authorities. We may not respect our juniors as well.

hoiyāchena hoibena prabhura jata dāsa
sabāra caraṇa vandoṅ dante kori’ ghāsa
Śrī Vaiṣṇava-Vandanā
Placing a straw between my teeth, I surrender my praise at the feet of all the servants of Mahāprabhu who ever were or will be.

A person cannot respect everyone because of his false pride. He will only respect those who show him love and affection.
He will say, “You are a Vaiṣṇava. Why? You like me; you respect me.”
He will not respect those who don’t respect him. He will say, “You are not a Vaiṣṇava. I cannot offer you my respect.”
This symbolizes false pride. This is not Vaiṣṇavism. A true practitioner of bhakti will respect everyone. The desire to practice bhakti will increase when we cultivate humility. Kṛṣṇa performed many pastimes with the Vraja-devīs. But, He disappeared after some time. Why?
He thought, “The Vraja-devīs are not respecting Lalitā, Viśākhā, Śrīmatī Rādhikā, and the other mañjarīs. I am giving a good chance to all the sādhana-siddhas (the souls who have gained entrance into Goloka Vṛndāvana by perfecting their sādhana). But they have become intoxicated by pride (saubhāgya-mada).”
This saubhāgya-mada is not everything. After losing the association of Kṛṣṇa, all the gopīs bitterly wept and they sang in separation from Kṛṣṇa. They then met Śrīmatī Rādhikā, and took shelter of Her lotus feet. They prayed under Her guidance.
jayati te ’dhikaṁ janmanā vrajaḥ
śrayata indirā śaśvad atra hi
dayita dṛśyatāṁ dikṣu tāvakās
tvayi dhṛtāsavas tvāṁ vicinvate
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 10.31.1
The gopīs said: O beloved, Your taking birth in Vraja has made this land exceedingly glorious, and thus Lakṣmī, the goddess of fortune, always resides here. It is only because
of You, that we Your devoted servants, sustain our lives. We have been looking everywhere for You, so please reveal Yourself to us.
The gopīs then continuously sang in separation from Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa then appeared.
tāsām āvirabhūc chauriḥ smayamāna-mukhāmbujaḥ
pītāmbara-dharaḥ sragvī sākṣān manmatha-manmathaḥ
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 10.31.19
Suddenly, Kṛṣṇa appeared before the gopīs, with an enchanting smile adorning His face. He was wearing a garland and a yellow garment, and He seemed to bewilder the mind of Cupid, who himself bewilders the minds of ordinary people.

If the gopīs would not have cried in separation, Kṛṣṇa would not have appeared. Humility makes bhajana very strong. Therefore, when Guru and Vaiṣṇavas disappear, they look and think, “Do the devotees desire our help? Are they crying for our help?”
If the devotees neglect and avoid the Guru-varga because of their pride, they cannot obtain pure bhakti-yoga. They cannot attain prema-bhakti. Humility paves the way for the sādhaka to attain mādhurya (sweetness). Thus, he will soon attain shelter at the lotus feet of Śrī Rādhā-Mādhava.

Please give to me the treasure of service to the lotus feet of the Divine Couple. Let the forms of Yugala-Kiśora and Their loving affairs be always manifest in my heart. Their beauty surpasses that of even Cupid and his consort Ratī. Let Their super-excellent pastimes forever be present in my mind.
The upāsya (the personality who is to be worshiped), and the upāsanā (the worship) should be ascertained first.

The sādhaka should bathe in the Gaṅgā or Yamunā everyday. He should then pick flowers and paste candana. He should also arrange for oil, an āsana, and bhoga. After he has arranged everything, he should go to Vṛndāvana-dhāma and take shelter of the lotus feet of the Vraja-devīs. He should remember them and follow their services. He should pray to their lotus feet. He should use everything for the service of Vraja-bhūmi. And then, he will be transcendentally inspired. A direct approach inclined towards regulated worship will result in vaidhī-bhakti. Anurāga is greatly helpful for rāgānugā-sādhana.

You may follow all the rules and regulations of vaidhī-bhakti; but, if you don’t take shelter of those who follow rāga-mārga-bhakti, then how will you attain siddhi (perfection)? By following vaidhi-marga, perfection will be attained after a long time. Everything will be very sweet by following the anurāgi-bhaktas. Therefore, Śrīla Narottama Ṭhākura only prays to be constantly absorbed in the service of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Mādhava. He doesn’t want to be distanced for even a single moment. He is also absorbed in arcana, pūjā, and other forms of worship in his sādhaka (practitioner) body.

By having a desire for anurāga-mayi-sevā, the sādhaka will continuously pray to the rūpānuga and rāgānugā Vaiṣṇavas. A thick bond of natural anurāga will be established.
By having anurāga, a person will spontaneously perform all his services. There will be no need to tell him anything. He will remain undisturbed even if there is no one to help him. He will do everything by himself. Although he is physically engaged in many services, his mind is constantly absorbed in the remembrance of the Divine Couple. He will be greatly empowered. He will perform all his services by his sādhaka body, and siddha (perfected) body.

The name, form, qualities, and pastimes of Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa will gradually manifest in his heart. The svarūpa of Vṛndāvana’s Madana-Gopala will enchant him. He will be immersed in the sweetness of Vraja. He will no longer be disturbed.

Narottama das Thakur ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Sri Sri Prema Bhakti Candrika”. Available from: [email protected] )

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