The Guru-varga and Rūpānuga Vaiṣṇavas continuously serve Kṛṣṇa in Vraja-maṇḍala under guidance of the Vraja-devīs. Everything they do is perfect. If one serves according to one’s own desire, or the injunctions of śāstra, Kṛṣṇa will not necessarily be happy.
ājñāyaivaṁ guṇān doṣān
mayādiṣṭān api svakān
dharmān santyajya yaḥ sarvān
māṁ bhajeta sa tu sattamaḥ
Those who render service unto Me, having abandoned all types of dharma, and having understood the inherent positive and negative aspects of the prescribed duties instructed by Me in the Vedas, are counted among the best of sādhus.
Kṛṣṇa said, “I gave many orders in śāstra that are favorable for the conditioned souls. But even better is if they cross and neglect these orders of Mine, forgetting about the conception of wrong and right, and instead take the guidance of the Vraja-devīs and only follow in their footsteps.” Kṛṣṇa likes this. He likes everything indirect. Kṛṣṇa doesn’t like things direct. He is very happy by indirect and tricky service.
Brahmā was suffering because of his offense, so he came to Vraja-maṇḍala and prayed to Kṛṣṇa many times for forgiveness. The sakhās said, “Where did this strange animal come from with four mouths and eight eyes. And what kind of exercise is he doing? Going up and down, offering praṇāma, praying and rolling.”
Brahmā thought, “What can I do?” Then he said:
naumīḍya te ’bhra-vapuṣe taḍid-ambarāya
lakṣma-śriye mṛdu-pade paśupāṅgajāya
O Prince of Vraja, You are worshipable for the whole world. O Nava-Ghanaśyāma, Your yellow upper garment beautifies Your dark, fresh raincloud-colored limbs like a steady streak of lightning. Your ears are decorated with ornaments made of guñjā berries, and Your head with a crown of peacock feathers. A garland of forest flowers and leaves adorns Your neck, a morsel of rice mixed with yogurt is in Your hand, Your eyes are shaped like lotus petals, and Your appearance with Your flute and buffalo horn is exquisitely beautiful. Your lotus feet, which are the shelter of Lakṣmī-devī, are very soft and full of affection for Your devotees. You are always moving here and there in Vṛndāvana forest with Your soft lotus feet to enjoy Your pleasure pastimes. All glories unto You, son of Nanda Mahārāja, who tend the cows. Please accept my obeisances. Brahmā said, “Oh! In Vraja-maṇḍala, Mahā Lakṣmī sweeps and cleans everywhere. She tries to decorate, but the Vrajavāsīs don’t give her a chance. They say, ‘If we give you a chance, you will cover all Vraja-maṇḍala with your stone, granite, gold, diamonds, and jewels. There will be no more green gardens, flowers, fruits, and creepers.’”
Just look at Vṛndāvana nowadays. It is covered in cement, marble, and granite. Now Mahā Lakṣmī has entered. She did austerity in Baelvana. Now everyone likes her and is calling her here, “Please come! Please come!” But in śāstra, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Śukadeva Gosvāmī said:
kasyānubhāvo ’sya na deva vidmahe
yad-vāñchayā śrīr lalanācarat tapo
vihāya kāmān su-ciraṁ dhṛta-vratā
The Nāgapatnīs, wives of Kālīya, prayed to Śrī Kṛṣṇa: “O Deva! Śrī Lakṣmī-devī gave up all her desires, took a vrata and performed austerities for a long, long time just to attain the dust of Your lotus feet. Nonetheless, she failed to achieve her heart’s desire. Who knows what pious activities Kālīya Nāga performed to become qualified to receive that same rare footdust.
Lakṣmī-devī is honest and chaste. She came to worship and serve in Vraja-maṇḍala, but no one accepted her. Anyone who likes opulence and has a relation with Mahā Lakṣmī can have no relation with the Vrajavāsīs. Making a relation with things such as earrings, gold chains, rings, platinum, and diamonds, and desiring a nice big house made of granite and special stones, will make the heart hard like a stone. Brahmā said, “Paśupāṅgajāya, Nanda Mahārāja, is the caretaker of the animals in Vraja-maṇḍala, and from his heart, O Kṛṣṇa, You have appeared.”
Brahmā directed his prayer to Nanda Mahārāja and all the Vrajavāsīs, and began to sing their glories. When he took shelter of them in this way, Kṛṣṇa’s heart melted. Kṛṣṇa said, “Yes. Now you understand that My Vrajavāsīs and Vraja-devīs are more respectable than Myself. First you disrespected them, and stole My sakhās and calves. Because of this, I was unable to forgive you. But if anyone has affection for My Nanda and Yaśodā, and My sakhās and sakhīs, then this is actually My pūjā. This is paraphernalia for My worship. You may offer Me many things, but if you don’t like My Vrajavāsīs, I have no interest in you.”
Similarly, what makes Gurudeva happy? When he sees that any of his followers who come into the temple are taken care of—this makes him happy. If we serve Gurudeva’s followers and guests properly, then their appreciation for Śrīla Gurudeva will increase. When they become happy and have more respect in their heart for Guru and God, then Gurudeva will be pleased. If one temple devotee neglects everybody, and says, “Get out. You are stupid, a rascal.” Then who will help them? We were all nonsense. How are you qualified? You are worse, because you kick everyone out.
If you have good qualities, then help everyone. Teach others and give them training. Then you are qualified; otherwise, you are a rascal. If you can’t help anyone, this is not guru-sevā. Guru-sevā means, “How will the whole world come to Guru-pāda-padma, and come to understand his glories and the glories of God.” This help for others is guru-sevā. If I think, “I have a lot of money. I will give Guru Mahārāja so much opulence, and he will be very pleased with me,” will this really please him? No! It is not possible to buy Śrī Guru with your wealth.
Now Brahmā understood, “Before, I kidnapped Kṛṣṇa’s sakhās and calves and put them in a cave for one year. How will Kṛṣṇa be happy with me?” Now he prayed and had the desire to serve the Vrajavāsīs. He observed, Kṛṣṇa has yogurt and rice in His hand. He eats this and also gives to His sakhās. He eats half a pakora and gives half to His sakhā.
This is called pūjā—pure worship by the process of love. Only taking a plate, ringing a bell, giving some ghee, honey and Tulasī, sprinkling water around and saying, “Come, eat.” is not love. Kṛṣṇa will never eat without His friends.
Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja ate with puppies, not alone. If I don’t like my godbrothers and godsisters, if I don’t respect the Vrajavāsīs, and only think I will feed my Divine Master, then how can I ever make him happy? Anyone in his āśrama, anyone who comes near him, if I don’t like them or help them, then how will my Guru Mahārāja be happy?
Brahmā understood what is the most important thing now, “If I worship Kṛṣṇa, but disobey and neglect the Vrajavāsīs and animals, then He is angry. If I pray to them, then He becomes happy.”
Then Kṛṣṇa asked, “O Brahmā, what do you want?”
“I want to have a small place in Vraja-bhūmi. Please give me any small place here.”
“This is the place of Vraja-rāja, Nanda Mahārāja,” Kṛṣṇa replied.
“There is place here for cows and animals. I did some wrong. Now please give me some place.” But still Kṛṣṇa did not give it. Finally, Brahmā took shelter of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī and Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja.
The four brothers—Vṛṣabhānu, Bhānu, Subhānu, and Bṛhadbhānu—gave him a place. Brahmā then took up residence there, and on his four heads he was able to carry the dust of Vṛṣabhānu-rāja-nandinī Śrīmatī Rādhārānī when She played and sat there with Her sakhīs. In these four places—Māna-gaṛh, Bhānu-gaṛh, Dāna-gaṛh, and Vilāsa-gaṛh—there are many nice caves. Śrīmatī Rādhārānī and Śrī Kṛṣṇa play on these hills and in the caves.
Brahmā thought, “One day they will forgive me. Only when they accept my service will I feel relief. If they don’t accept my service, my life is useless.”
We should think, “How can I bring the jīvas of this world to God?” This is our service. If the conditioned souls are distant to God, He feels unhappy. If a disciple is separated from Guru, then Guru is disturbed. If you can bring even one soul to God’s lotus feet in this life, this is your real puṣpāñjali and service. At that time, God and Gurudeva will be very happy.
Today, Śrī Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura says in this Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta:
śiśur eṣa śītala-vilola-locanaḥ
madayan madīya-hṛdayaṁ vigāhate
All the gopīs and mañjarīs are present, and have made a nice meeting hall, like a stadium. There are many seats, from top to bottom. On one side is Rādhārānī and the sakhīs, and the other side, Kṛṣṇa and the sakhās. How beautiful this assembly hall is! Before, they had restless eyes. But now they aren’t restless. Why? Nava-kiśora, Nanda-nandana is mṛdula-smitārdra-vadanendu-sampadā. He is distributing sampada, great wealth. What wealth? Mṛdula–smit. He smiles very sweetly and glances with His beautiful eyes.
When He addresses someone—just one small word or sentence—then nectar enters inside that person, making him forget everything else. He only drinks that nectar. Inside Kṛṣṇa’s every word, there is so much power. This power enters and begins its work inside.
The meetings held in this assembly have rules. There are many questions, and many answers are given. Then decisions are made and written on a paper. What is this paper? Kṛṣṇa says one sentence or word, and everyone writes it in their heart. They understand according to their own position. There is not the same meaning for all. Everyone understands according to their own mood.
Madayan. All hearts become very pleased. Like a bird that flies in the sky. The sky is so big. How far can he fly? He flies and flies and becomes tired, and then sits on a branch. Today, hearing the advice of Kṛṣṇa, they think, “How can I follow this? How will this be perfect?” They think of Kṛṣṇa’s face and look at Him. Their eyes are open and they sit in one place, but all memory is gone. Like yogīs, whose body is there, but they are not inside the body.
When Kṛṣṇa is moving in the forest and gardens, or is on his way to Bhāṇḍīravaṭa or Sūrya-kuṇḍa for sūrya-pūjā, He gives a little hint and many run to make all arrangements. Not only do they make preparations for Kṛṣṇa’s lunch prasāda, they also arrange the pathway, water for the cows, and seats for all the sakhās. They also arrange a nice kuñja–kuṭīra. Kṛṣṇa becomes surprised with the way they understood His desire. These are Kṛṣṇa’s very close associates.
When Kṛṣṇa says something to Rādhikā, it echoes from within Her to all Her sakhīs and mañjarīs. Rādhārānī accepts, and then She distributes. Now the sakhīs and mañjarīs understand what to do.
After Śrīla Prabhupāda Sarasvatī Ṭhākura gave class, Mukunda-vinoda Bābājī Mahārāja would call the brahmacārīs, “What did you understand of Prabhupāda’s class?” The brahmacārīs would repeat something, but Bābājī Mahārāja would say, “O Bholā! Sit down and listen.” Then he would tell them the perfect meaning of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s hari-kathā.
If anyone’s heart is clean, then the mercy and blessings of Guru-pāda-padma, and his desire, will come there. They will not speak unnecessarily, or uselessly. Everything they do will be very sweet, and they will remain ready and able to do any service. Anything they offer, Kṛṣṇa will accept. Not everyone knows this process.
After hearing from Bābājī Mahārāja, the brahmacārīs’ understanding deepened. They fell at his feet and prayed, “Bābājī Mahārāja, please give us some blessings that in some life we will be qualified to understand Prabhupāda Sarasvatī Ṭhākura.”
Kṛṣṇa said something in the assembly. Śrīmatī Rādhārānī understood this, and distributed it to all the gopīs in the assembly hall. Like a baby—his parents say, “Bābū, please come.” By their call he comes running and becomes very happy, dancing around with the candy or toys they give. His heart is clean and simple. The sakhīs and mañjarīs are more pure-hearted than babies. They come, and Rādhārānī gives a hint. Then they take this and run off, understanding everything. What is the next program? What arrangements are to be made? They think of everything.
Today, Kṛṣṇa had a desire. He goes with the cows in the early morning. Many sakhīs and sakhās make paste from turmeric and decorate the cows with it. They wash the cow’s hooves and smear them with this paste. The cows walk so far, and they might step on something hard or sharp. Sometimes they may feel some pain or become injured. Therefore, Kṛṣṇa desired to serve the cows and protect them from this.
One day Yaśodā Mātā said to Kṛṣṇa, “Every morning You leave and come back in the evening. All the stones and thorns must hurt Your soft feet. I will make shoes for You.”
But Kṛṣṇa said, “First make shoes for My cows.”
“No,” said Yaśodā, “they serve so much that their hooves are hard and strong.”
Kṛṣṇa said, “Will you also make My feet like the cows’ hooves?”
“No, I want You to wear shoes.”
“I can’t wear shoes,” Kṛṣṇa said. “I will never wear shoes in Vraja-maṇḍala.”
“Mother, you don’t know? Ask Bhagavatī Paurṇamāsī. She taught Me that this Vraja-bhūmi is Vṛndā-devī’s heart. Is it good to walk with shoes on one’s own mother’s heart?”
Yaśodā Mātā stood speechless. Kṛṣṇa continued, “If Bhagavatī Paurṇamāsī orders, I will wear your shoes.”
Yaśodā immediately called Bhagavatī Paurṇamāsī and informed her, “I want to make shoes for Kṛṣṇa.” “Oh, this is not good,” said Paurṇamāsī Devī. “Kṛṣṇa walks step by step in Vraja-maṇḍala, and wherever He goes, everyone and everything drinks His sweet nectar, giving lots of wealth in return—like the grass, the fruits and flowers. If Kṛṣṇa does not touch Vraja-maṇḍala with His feet, it will become like a desert.”
That day, as Kṛṣṇa walked, Yaśodā Mātā watched. She saw that wherever Kṛṣṇa stepped, the ground became reddish in color, as if blood came from His feet. Yaśodā Mātā examined Kṛṣṇa’s footprints closer and was surprised. She thought, “Where did this come from?” She wondered, “It seems like kuṁkuma. I did not give this to Kṛṣṇa.”
At night, before Kṛṣṇa sleeps, the sakhīs and mañjarīs secretly smear this kuṁkuma on Kṛṣṇa’s feet. But in the morning, does it not come off as He bathes? This love-filled kuṁkuma cannot be removed. Now, as Kṛṣṇa walks, He leaves reddish footprints on the ground everywhere He goes.
Yaśodā Mātā sees this and says in amazement, “Really! Nectar does come from Kṛṣṇa’s feet.” She took a little of the kuṁkuma in her hands and smelt it. Immediately her heart felt soothed, and she became full of bliss.
Wherever Kṛṣṇa’s footprints are present, that place is cooled and infused with nectar. This is the glory of Vṛndāvana-dhāma and Vraja-maṇḍala. “I will never tell him to wear shoes again,” Yaśodā Mātā decided.
But she was still worried. She approached Paurṇamāsī Devī again and said, “There are so many hard rocks in Vraja-maṇḍala.”
Bhagavatī-devī smiled and said, “Don’t worry. The rocks do not hurt Kṛṣṇa. When He goes on top of the rocky hill of Caraṇa Pahāḍi, He simply plays His flute and all the stones melt under His feet. His footprints are there now. You can see them.”
But how can our hearts melt? Narahari Sarakara Ṭhākura says:
narahari hiyā, pāṣāna diyā
Even though I chant Gaurāṅga’s name, qualities and pastimes, somehow my heart has not melted. How does this body continue to survive? How is it that the body of Narahari has been created with a stone in place of a heart?
mana pāṣāna hole gole jeto
mana pāṣāna to gole na re
If my heart was made of stone it would melt. (Even a rock in Vraja-maṇḍala melts.) But my heart is more hard than a rock or stone therefore my heart does not melt.
Paurṇamāsī said to Yaśodā Mātā, “O mother, come to Caraṇa Pahādī or Bhojana Thālī, or any mountain or hill that Kṛṣṇa has walked on. You will see for yourself that the stones really melt.” Yaśodā Mātā found this hard to believe but said she would go one time.
One day, Kṛṣṇa’s head-shaving ceremony was to take place, so His parents took Him to Kedarnātha in Vraja, along with the Vrajavāsīs. When they got there, Kṛṣṇa ran on the stones up to the top of the hill, which shook with His every step. He left His footprints on the stones. Yaśodā Mātā touched one of the footprints. She saw that when Kṛṣṇa touched the hard rocks, they melted. By the time she came to look at them more closely, they were hard again, with Kṛṣṇa’s footprints embedded inside. Wherever Kṛṣṇa goes, everything becomes soft for Him. This is the glory of Kṛṣṇa. Pṛthivī-devī becomes very happy by carrying Kṛṣṇa’s footprints. If anyone carries Kṛṣṇa in their eyes—if they take Kṛṣṇa’s feet with their eyes and put Them in their heart, then their heart will melt.
kim idam adhara-vīthī-kṣipta-vaṁśī-ninādam
kirati nayanayor naḥ kām api prema-dhārām
tad idam amara-vīthī-durlabhaṁ vallabhaṁ nas
tribhuvana-kamanīyaṁ daivataṁ jīvitaṁ ca
How wonderful, the sound of Kṛṣṇa’s flute is an indescribable flood of divine love, appearing before us! This is rare even among the planets of the demigods. Kṛṣṇa, our darling, our Lord, our very life, delights the three worlds.
From both eyes, love flows out in a continuous stream of tears. This is called prema-dhārā. This stream of nectar flows from the eyes without cessation. How? Kṛṣṇa’s flute drinks the nectar from His mouth and then distributes it. Anyone who hears Kṛṣṇa’s flute song, their heart melts. The nectar of this love flows out of their eyes in the form of tears, like a river.
A small bird, perched on a branch of a tree, begins to cry, having been touched by this nectar. His tears pour down below him; at the bottom of the tree it seems like it is raining. So much water falls from the tree. How is this possible? Where is all the water coming from? Did the bird melt? Even if he melted, he is so small. Where would so much water come from? Is this imagination? No. This nectar has this power. Kṛṣṇa distributes prema-rasa–dhārā, the flow of love, through His vaṁśī. Anyone who drinks this nectar with his ears—even if in heaven, Vaikuṇṭha, or anywhere—he melts. With tears in his eyes, his heart flows out. He also sweats.
Kṛṣṇa is our only vallabha, kānta, and beloved, our life and the very soul of our soul. Kṛṣṇa’s darśana from a distance is not possible. But when the vaṁśī’s message comes, this nectar comes and squeezes the heart like sugar cane, taking out all the love, like juice, causing the Vrajavāsīs to weep incessantly.
Aho! How can I understand this? How can I realize this? This is durlabha, very rarely understood. Even the demigods headed by Brahma want to come and stay in Vraja-maṇḍala. But with their austerity, can they ever achieve this prema-bhakti? It is impossible.
Kṛṣṇa’s vaṁśī drinks the nectar of Kṛṣṇa’s lips, day and night, and then distributes to others. This nectar reaches heaven and Vaikuṇṭha, and is distributed to all. But can they share it like the Vrajavāsīs do? No. They can’t share it. Like, in the rainy season, the clouds rain down water on the grass, creepers and plants, which drink this rasa. They then show the results with their fruits and flowers. They show how much they took. Similarly, the Vrajavāsīs take Kṛṣṇa’s nectar from His flute and show what they have collected by their own services.
The Vraja-devīs ask, “Who is this Person? Where did He come from? We have never seen Him. How surprising! He wanders on the bank of the Yamunā, in the forests and groves. Where did He come from? Does anyone know His address?” They ask, “What is His name? We don’t know why this Person is so attractive and sweet. How can we make friendship with Him?”
They think, “What gift can we give Him? What will He like? Should we give Him some fruits, or call Him and wait for His welcome. Should we address Him directly? Why did He come here? He disturbs everyone. He has no good personality. He is a very strange person. He has a flute which He likes more than anyone else. Ah, so this is the way to please Him.”
The gopīs and mañjarīs run to a bamboo garden and cut many branches and canes to make flutes. “Will this make Him happy? Now will He come to make friendship with us?” They say, “We know you don’t like anything else. The flute is your dear friend and always near your face.”
“Most people like to eat laddus, rasagullas, halava, and other sweets. But You only like this bamboo stick. It is not even sweet sugar cane. But if You like this dry thing, then okay, we will offer it to You. Will You be happy then?” In this way, the gopīs remember Kṛṣṇa.
Srila Bilavamangala Thakur ki Jaya! (Excerpted from a Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Sri Sri Krsna-Karnamrta”. Available from: firstname.lastname@example.org )