Śrī Govinda, the moon of Gokūla, is the source of all transcendental bliss. His close associates are the gopas and the gopīs. Nandīśvara Hill is His abode and He is known as the lifter of Govardhana. Serve Him with great happiness in the company of the sakhīs.
Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura explains how the essence of svarūpa-śakti, which is saṁvit, sandhinī, and hlādini, are eternally present in Vraja.
How can the devotee’s body, mind, and heart become transcendental and always engaged in the service of God? By performing sādhana, what can one achieve? There is no guarantee. But if hlādini-śakti comes in the heart, then one can easily get perfection. People act for the pleasure of ordinary people, while hoping to become happy. The happiness obtained is insignificant. This hlādini-śakti is unlimited; however, how can we be connected to that potency? What should the sādhaka do to become related to this? Rāgātmika-vrajavāsīs have the feeling that Kṛṣṇa is their son, friend, or beloved. Their relationship develops higher and higher. One should arrange a Deity, or a picture of Kṛṣṇa; but will pure love be obtained by worshiping Kṛṣṇa in those forms? It is not so easy. Anyone who has love for Kṛṣṇa will always be busy in His service. He will serve either as a servant, friend, parent, or beloved. By always being present near that person, or by offering all your time, you will become connected. Then pure love will come. You will realize, “Kṛṣṇa is my friend,” or, “Kṛṣṇa is my beloved,” or, “Kṛṣṇa is my son.” This mood will come from the Vrajavāsīs’ hearts. This is the best process. Through this transcendental means, with the essence of hlādini-śakti comes. When this essence comes, the sādhaka becomes very blissful, and is always engaged in service. This service can never be broken.
Nandīśvara jāra dhāma giridhārī jāṅra nāma, sakhī-saṅge tāre bhaja raṅge. From morning, under the guidance of Yaśodā Mātā and the Vraja-devīs, the sādhaka will engage in the service of ānanda-kanda Gokulacandra, Kṛṣṇacandra. He will be related with Him. He will go to Nandīśvara, who is greater than the Kailāṣa Mountain. Nandīśvara-dhāma is the most exalted. There, Śiva Ṭhākura is eternally engaged in the service of his Lord. By going there, one can become related to him, and he will bestow the tendency to serve. There will be no more tension or problems in service. Vraja-bhūmi is completely filled with love for Kṛṣṇa. It is not possible for one to achieve pure love for Rādhā-Mādhava by going to another place.
sarvathā dhvaṁsa-rahitaṁ yadyapi dhvaṁsa-kāraṇe
yad bhāva bandhanaṁ yūnoḥ sa premā parikīrttitaḥ
Śrī Ujjvala-nilamaṇi (Sthāyī-bhāva-prakaraṇam, 14.63)
When the deep feeling that binds two young lovers does not break even though there are many reasons present, it is called prema.
Love cannot be destroyed by any obstacle. If any means to destroy love comes, real love will only increase. It cannot be annihilated.
pahilehi rāga nayana-bhaṅge bhela
anudina bāḍhala, avadhi nā gela
nā so ramaṇa, nā hāma ramaṇī
duṅhu-mana manobhava peṣala jāni’
e sakhi, se-saba prema-kāhinī
kānu-ṭhāme kahabi vichurala jāni’
nā khoṅjaluṅ dūtī, nā khoṅjaluṅ ān
duṅhukeri milane madhya ta pāṅca-vāṇa
ab sohi virāga, tuṅhu bheli dūtī
su-purukha-premaki aichana rīti
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 8.194
Alas, before We had the chance to even meet, attachment grew between us by an exchange of glances and in this way we became attached to each other. That attachment naturally grew unlimitedly, and now He is no longer the enjoyer, nor I the enjoyed. Our minds have merged together in mutual love. Now during this time of separation it is very difficult to explain Our loving relation. O Sakhī! Kṛṣṇa may have forgotten all this, but you understand and therefore can take this message to Him. For our first meeting there was no need of a messenger, rather Cupid’s five arrows naturally brought Us together. Now, during this separation, that attachment has increased to another level. My dear friend, please become a messenger for Me, because if one falls in love with a beautiful person, this is the consequence.
The maidservants do not think that Rādhā and Mādhava are separate from them or far from them. They feel, “My heart is for Him, and He is in my heart.” This faith and anurāga is very important for the sādhaka.
The King of heaven, Indra, gave this name Govinda to Kṛṣṇa, for He takes care of all the cows, gopas, and gopīs who are around Govardhana. In Rādhā-kuṇḍa, He meets with Śrīmatī Rādhārānī and plays with Her there. Thus, His name is Govinda. If anyone suffers deep separation from Kṛṣṇa, He will come to cool this heat from the heart of His devotees. He is parama-ānanda-kanda. Happiness can only come from Him. The living beings feel some small amount of happiness, and when they lose this, they become cruel and hard-hearted. People who have no love, happiness, or softness are always angry. They are cruel to others and always suffer.
If love is finished, the living being’s potency is finished and he becomes dry. Where can that love next come from? Can you fill up an engine with petrol and get this love? A person commits suicide, or becomes mad when his heart becomes devoid of love. One may jump in the ocean even, because he feels completely dry. Where does love come from? At the time of birth, all beings have some love by the mercy of God. This gradually increases. If misused, then it is lost. Cruelty then ensues. People only kill themselves. They misuse all their love and are rejected by everyone. They then feel that their lives are useless and should be given up. And then, they try destroying themselves.
The Guru-varga call us to Vraja-bhūmi, which is Kṛṣṇa’s līlā-bhūmi. This love is present with Govardhana and Nandīśvara. It is especially found in Varṣāṇā. It is also present with the Vrajavāsīs. In the Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.2.294) it is said:
kṛṣṇa smaraṇa janaṁ cāsya preṣṭhaṁ nija-samīhitam
tat-tat-kathā-rataś cāsau kuryād vāsaṁ vraje sadā
If anyone has love for Kṛṣṇa and the Vrajavāsīs, and is always meditating on them, then the unlimited flow of love will inundate their hearts. Śrīla Gurudeva distributed love to all living beings. That is incessant. He never misused his love. He distributed this to all people, and they tasted this superfine mellow and became attracted. Śrīla Gurudeva stole the living beings’ hearts and brought them to Vraja. Without love, one is dryhearted and very sad. People perform hard austerities or yoga, but this does not increase their love. They feel no happiness from it as a result. If one gives his love to ordinary people, then it is lost. Such people are like dacoits and thieves who come to steal one’s love. They are great enemies on the path of bhajana.
The Guru-varga are very merciful. They accept a small amount of service and consider it to be very great. If the sādhaka stays in the holy dhāma and tries to perform bhajana, then on seeing the sādhaka’s endeavors, the Guru-varga’s hearts melt and they give potency. They allow one and instruct one to do arcana, clean, cook, and perform all the services. Do not think they give any ordinary work. One may work for a company and then run back to his own residence for relaxation.
However, by serving in the aśrama or temple of God, then one only gets interest. The desire to serve will increase more and more. And love will come in the heart. Without love, a person cannot be humble or sweet. This is not an external show. When the eternal connection and relation comes, the sādhaka will always be pleased, blissful, and satisfied.
Babies become very happy on being showered with the love of their mother, father, siblings, relatives, and neighbors. Even if they pass on the lap of their mothers, there is no problem. When they become young, they start to share their love. If love is properly engaged and controlled, it will increase for God. Otherwise, one becomes more and more dry. What is the treatment? If one follows Ekādaśī, then Ekādaśī-devī will protect one, saying, “You have so much wealth. Why are you wasting this everyday?” Bhakti-devī controls the eleven senses. By following navadha-bhakti, the nine limbs of devotion, your senses will be controlled. You will then not be overly attracted, or attached to people. Ekādaśī-devī will make a strong dam to block the flow of your love. One person tries to become very healthy but has a bad disease and always passes, unable to digest anything. Anything he eats comes out as dysentery. The doctor then treats him properly, and kindles the fire of digestion in his stomach. It is most important in the line of bhakti to not share your love. If love goes here and there, then your bhajana, harināma, and kīrtana will be lost because they will seep through the hole created in your heart. One may try to bind everything in, but if there’s a little whole, everything flows out.
The Vrajavāsīs accept even a little service as being very great.
īśvara-svabhāva’—bhaktera nā laya aparādha
alpa-sevā bahu māne ātma-paryanta prasāda
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya-līlā 1.107
The nature of the Lord is that He does not take offense from his devotees. The Lord accepts whatever small sevā one has to offer as a great service and becomes ready to even offer Himself, what to speak of other blessings.
If one dances in front of God, performs ārati, or kīrtana, touches the līlā-bhūmi, pastime place, without any knowledge, some flow of mercy comes. Although a baby has no knowledge, everyone gives him affection. Even if he walks on the street alone, someone’s heart will melt and they will pick him up. God and His family members have so much love for the living beings. But the living beings take this love and misuse it. They think they are qualified on receiving some love and then, they distribute this. They perform the six symptoms of love with ordinary people as described in Śrī Upadeśāmṛta (4), dadāti pratigṛhṇāti guhyam ākhyāti pṛcchati bhuṅkte bhojayate caiva ṣaḍ-vidhaṁ prīti-lakṣaṇam.
They speak with people and give them prasādam, and then they have love for ordinary people and everything is lost. One should only like others for the pleasure of God. One should only serve others for the pleasure of God. There should be no personal relationship. One should act for the pleasure of God and Gurudeva. Then everyone is respected and one should have some affection for them. However, one should not be one pointed in his love for anyone other than God and Guru. Bhakti is one pointed. Otherwise everything is destroyed. Be careful.
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has stressed the importance of sādhu-saṅga. Whatever sādhana is performed should be done in the association of a Vaiṣṇava. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has told that out of the sixty-four aṅgas of bhakti, nine are most prominent. And from nine limbs, five have been mentioned by him as most essential.
sādhu-saṅga, nāma-kīrtana, bhāgavat-śravaṇa
mathurā-vāsa, śrī-mūrtira śraddhāya sevana
sakala sādhana-śreṣṭha ei pañca aṅga
kṛṣṇa-prema janmāya ei pāñcera alpa-saṅga
Caitanya-caritāmṛta Madhya-līlā 22.128, 129
One should be in the association of great devotees, chant harināma in their company, hear from them the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, live in Mathurā, and worship the Deity with love and faith. These five practices of bhakti are the best because even performing them slightly causes kṛṣṇa-prema to awaken.
These five activities are prescribed in order to attain kṛṣṇa-prema. But it should be understood that most important of these five activities is sādhu-saṅga. The other four activities should be performed in sādhu-saṅga then they have potency to give kṛṣṇa-prema. And sādhu here refers to Vraja anurāga-mayi bhakta. Then without a doubt all sādhana will bring fruit.
Govinda gokūlacandra parama ānanda-kanda – His name is Gokuānanda. He is Vraja-candra. Śrīmatī Rādhārānī and Kṛṣṇa give this love to the jīvas. When this love comes it is our property. If one says to another, “Come and stay with me,” then the person addressed will not stay for even one day. When this love is showering down, everyone stays together in one group and society and is hopeful to achieve Vraja-dhāma. This love is the value.
Govinda’s love comes from this ānanda-kanda. You are a proper sādhaka if you collect this more and more. You should collect everything as a balance. Don’t be soft and sweet to others. For who is your kindness, softness, and sweetness reserved for? Reserve this for Śrīla Gurudeva, and God. Don’t independently use any of these qualities for the living beings. If they come to God and Guru, this is enough. Have no attachment for them. Also, do not take responsibility for them. Anything or anyone who comes should be offered to Guru-pāda-padma or God Himself. God has promised that He will take care of anyone who is surrendered to Him. This is the proper process. Sādhakas make mistakes here. They become knowledgeable and famous and think they can care for everyone and everyone is their relative. They then share their love without any controlling power and lose everything.
Śacinandana Gaurahari went to South India and gave everyone vraja-bhakti. Prabhodānanda Sarasvatī Ṭhākura said, “I forgot I was a high-class sannyāsī and I ran to Vṛndāvana. I came without any worries or sadness. I was as if crazy. Caitanya Mahāprabhu connected me to the flow of happiness and I achieved rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi. This wealth or nidhi came to me, which one? Rādhā-rasa. This means the mellow, blessings, and mercy of Rādhārānī came to me.
Also, Madana, or Cupid said, ‘I will no longer disturb you. You are now Kṛṣṇa’s property.’ Then I became very blissful.”
This is very astonishing. People become surprised and ask, “How can you control yourself?” What is the question of control? One uses everything for God’s service and then love comes from His family members; the sādhaka will then not run to others for their love and affection. When people have no love and affection, they run on the streets searching for this love. They will not look anywhere else when they are fulfilled with love. This is the spiritual flow and energy bestowed by Śrī Gaurahari and His followers.
This is like the great ocean. Mahāprabhu distributed this ocean of love but people did not know what He was doing. He would chant “Haribol, Hare Kṛṣṇa,” and give everything. Anyone who came before Him would be overcome by this love and would no longer run for sense enjoyment, or have any relation with others.
When Madana-mohana enters the heart, the body, mind, and senses become completely enchanted in the rasa of Kṛṣṇa. Anything else is very bitter. The sādhaka will then feel great pain on being distanced from līlā-bhūmi for even a second. On receiving this rasa, any form of sense gratification will become extremely distasteful. By drinking the nectar of Gaurī and Syāma’s loving pastimes, no taste remains for anything of this world.
Tne will have no more taste for sleeping, drinking, or doing anything. Everything will become bitter and tasteless in this world. The sādhaka will always be in good association, and will not make anyone his slave, or servant. The sādhaka will then realize that no one is one’s slave and no one is one’s enemy. Everything will be favorable for him. No one will speak uselessly to him. They may speak a few words, but nothing unnecessary is spoken.
Srila Narottama das Thakura ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Sri Sri Prema-Bhakti Candrika”. Available from Rasik@bhaktabandhav.org )