The Guru-varga does not give a chance to follow karma, jñāna and yoga; they are always helping us make relation with the holy dhāma, Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, Śrīman Mahāprabhu and Nityānanda Prabhu. They make arrangement for that relation to become very strong. The Guru-varga have a sweet relation with all these personalities, therefore they make relation with their followers to the Holy dhāma and pure Vaiṣṇavas. If there is no relation with the Vaiṣṇavas, then one will be hopeless and leave bhakti. If there is no connection with one’s guru-mantra and harināma, then there will be no taste for service. How long can anyone be forced to do anything against his desire? This is the nature of vaidhi-marga-sādhana. It is not permanent and perfect and only gives temporary relief. When anyone is sad, crazy, and has lost all wealth, then he comes to a spiritual master and the holy dhāma. But after getting help, health and wealth and any mundane facility, he runs back from where he came. They can’t stay because they only come for selfishness.
But the Guru-varga are very clever; they establish our relation with the holy dhāma, the vaiṣṇavas, sevā, śāstra and bhakti. If a little taste comes then when they leave, they will always be suffering. Sometime later, they will come back to guru and vaiṣṇavas, for material sense enjoyment will become bitter, when before coming in contact to guru and vaiṣṇavas it was very sweet.
The neophyte stage in bhakti is a very critical time. If that stage is crossed then great energy comes for spiritual life. Guru and vaiṣṇavas carefully give love and affection to babies or neophyte devotees, they give all facility and don’t look at their faults, but then a little later when they are qualified, guru and vaiṣṇavas become very strong. Sweetness is not everything—then one becomes arrogant and neglectful. Just as parents don’t accept offence from their babies when they pass on them, the Guru-varga do not accept any offence, aparādha, from neophytes.
kṛṣṇa-bhakta niṣkāma ataeva ‘śānta’
bhukti-mukti-siddhi-kāmī sakali ‘aśānta’
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 19.149
Because a devotee of Kṛṣṇa is has no desire but to please Kṛṣṇa, he is peaceful. Those who desire fruitive action, liberation, mystic perfection, and the satisfaction of their lust, are all devoid of peace.
The Gambhīrā is a siddha–pīṭha. When the devotees of Gauḍa-maṇḍala came to Jagannātha Purī for Ratha-yātrā and Cāturmāsya, they first met with Mahāprabhu at the Gambhīrā. They did not go to Jagannātha’s temple until after meeting Mahāprabhu. They carried many gifts for Mahāprabhu from Bengal, and Mahāprabhu received them all lovingly, offering garlands, sandalwood, prasādi Tulasī and they gave everything they had brought to Mahāprabhu and then went to Jagannātha’s temple. Devotees cannot get any realization of the holy dhāma without first getting the mercy of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas. First, all devotees came and took shelter of Mahāprabhu’s lotus feet in the Gambhīrā and then went on His order to Jagannātha. This relation is most important.
When Śivānanda-sena was coming from Gauḍa-maṇḍala, he brought along a dog that was anxious to go. Because of the dog’s relation to Śivānanda-sena, the eternal associate of Mahāprabhu, the dog was liberated by taking the mahā-prasāda coconut pieces thrown to it by Mahāprabhu. The dog disappeared from the party coming from Bengal, and when they arrived in Jagannātha Purī, they saw Mahāprabhu throwing coconut pieces to it and saying, “Chant Haribol, Haribol!” The dog chanted and then left its material body and attained a spiritual body.
King Pratāparudra inquired from Sārvabhauma, Vāṇīnātha and Kāśī Miśra, “So many thousands of devotees come to Jagannātha Purī from Bengal, but they don’t go first to see Lord Jagannātha, bathe in the ocean or fast for a day, which is the rules for entering this dhāma. These bhaktas don’t bathe in the ocean when arriving, and they don’t fast or take darśana of Jagannātha, they all come straight to Mahāprabhu and He gives mahā-prasāda to them. What is this matter?”
Kāśī Miśra said, “Bhāgavata–darśana is not performed by these eyes. If we have relation with the bhaktas, Vrajavāsīs or God’s family members, then Bhagavān easily gives darśana.”
So many people come and go, who asks anyone anything? Jagannātha does not give His true darśana easily to anyone, but if Jagannātha sees anyone coming with relation to the Vrajavāsīs, then He reveals Himself to them, coming forward to meet them. Relation is essential. Therefore, first devotees all go to meet Mahāprabhu, Svarūpa Dāmodara, Rāya Rāmānanda and the other bhaktas at the Gambhīrā. Then all bhaktas go to the ocean and bathe.
Varuṇa-deva knows who comes with relation or not. If anyone comes to the ocean with bad intentions, Varuṇa-deva throws them down, pushing and scratching their nose and chest. And when they go to Jagannātha’s darśana, then Jagannātha sees, “Oh, they have no relation.” Then He will send His Paṇḍas to beat them and take donations. Without relation how can one get the love and company of Jagannātha?
Kāśī Miśra said, “First one must take guru-darśana and then
If one has relation with Śrī Guru, than Govinda runs behind him. Our sādhana is to make this relation with the devotees and Vrajavāsīs. If a young girl marries a boy, all the boy’s relatives and possessions become her own.
The most important thing is one’s heartfelt love. If we give one drop of this love to Lord Jagannātha He will be the most pleased. But what is the process of giving? If we go to His nearest and dearest devotees, they know how to take out our love, collect and give it to Jagannātha. Honey bees go in the early morning to flowers and sing nice songs with a sweet melody. The bees sing the glories of the trees, flowers and creepers, then the flower is attracted to the honeybee and releases its nectar. The bee takes this and flies away, putting the honey in its nest. Similarly, the Guru-varga collect the heartfelt love of the conditioned souls and offer it to Lord Jagannātha.
If you have relation with guru and vaiṣṇavas they will collect your heartfelt love and then Jagannātha and Varuṇa-deva will be pleased with you and give all facilities. Bhakti is relation. If there is no relation, then there is no affection, if there is no affection, then there will only be tension, depression and disturbances in life. Without relation we are all orphans.
Even if you go to a beauty parlor and decorate yourself, without knowing the right people, only rascals will make friend with you. But if we become decorated with good qualities by Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, than we will understand what is the meaning of happiness and belonging.
By hook and crook, guru and vaiṣṇavas take one out of saṁsāra, the ocean of bad qualities and they clean and decorate the conditioned souls with
At first, the conditioned souls suffer thinking they have lost everything. Guru and Vaiṣṇavas take away all opulent materialistic clothing and hair style, gold watches and chains and turn people into sādhus, wearing only simple cotton cloth. People then feel their life is useless. But they don’t realize that after a few days, this body will be carried on a bed and thrown in the fire. Guru and vaiṣṇavas first take out all bad qualities and then decorate one with good qualities and offer him to the lotus feet of Bhagavān. When the conditioned souls reach Bhagavān’s lotus feet they see that all the world will respect and love them and offer them prayers. But first it is necessary to pull back the curtain of illusion, and during that time, one will cry out, “Oh no! What is this they are doing? I cannot tolerate this clay paste and wooden necklace on my face and neck! I have been made into a bum and thrown onto the street where I am told to dance in white robes like a madman!”
But they don’t know that all are mad in this world. All are mad after the poison of sense enjoyment. After the conditioned souls are changed into devotees, wherever they go they will be respected. A king is worshiped in his country, but a learned man is respected everywhere. Svadeśe rājan pūjyate, vidvān sarvātra pūjyate—if we obtain this supreme knowledge, parā-vidyā, all will respect us.
The Guru-varga does not distribute mundane things like cloth and medicine. Rather, they cut all material attachments. Ragunātha dāsa Gosvāmī came to Nityānanda Prabhu and Nityānanda Prabhu gave both feet on top of his head. Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī was completely surrendered and accepted this as the greatest mercy. But if someone were to put their feet on our head, what would we think? We would fight with them! Therefore, first we have to change our false ego and bad nature. Guru and vaiṣṇavas don’t give chances for opulence and sense enjoyment because they know that the foolish jīvas will fly like insects into the glowing fire of sense gratification. All mundane things are very attractive, but this is like the glow of the fire into which the bugs fly. This is all mundane. Therefore, the Guru-varga throws out all this nature and mundane qualities, and then they clean and give good things. If anyone agrees to take their treatment, then quickly everything will be changed.
All the bhaktas came from Bengal and stayed in Jagannātha Purī for the four months of cāturmāsya. How can we control our mind and senses and bring them to the holy dhāma under the shelter of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas? We are covered with such a big film and coat of māyā, illusion. Wherever we go, we cannot forget our material relations. If we can anyhow make a little connection with Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, and a drop of taste comes for spiritual life and following the path of bhakti, then slowly and surely the heart and brain will be washed clean. This surgery is necessary.
Guru and Vaiṣṇavas are the greatest doctors and know how to cure all diseases of material conditioning.
Conditioned souls collect poisonous illusory objects through all their senses from morning to evening. These go inside the mind through the eyes, ears, nose, touch and taste and defeat the brain and memory. Cinema, recreation parks, mundane music, all these things enter and make deep impressions in the mind that only increase more and more with interest.
Mahāprabhu says, “If you want to be cleaned, than come to the holy dhāma, śāstra and sādhus. There all of the glories of Kṛṣṇa are present. If that is accepted, it is very powerful and strong, one drop can cool everything and all past remembrances will be lost. Therefore, sādhus and the followers of God are never disturbed; they go fearlessly over the world without collecting anything mundane. In this world, destitute conditioned souls make relation with mundane family members to relieve their tension. Such relatives say, “Don’t cry my baby!” But how do they help? They have nothing but mundane garbage to give us. They say, “Never go near sādhus! They are great cheaters!”
Only very lucky people in this world can escape this trap of material existence and get transcendental relation with God and His family members. Then one’s life will be successful and one will taste transcendental bliss and be engaged in loving service.
In this world the conditioned souls have no strength to realize their real nature and form. They have no idea about any spiritual truths.
How can they be helped? Kṛṣṇa Himself prayed to the Vraja-devīs on behalf of the living entities. Even Kṛṣṇa and Mahāprabhu prayed to the Vraja-devīs, but we are full of so much pride and false ego that we never pray. Mahāprabhu is so humble, even though He is God. Mahāprabhu showed us by His own example of perfectly practicing and preaching.
He taught us in His Śikṣaṣṭakam (verse 3):
tṛṇād api sunīcena
taror api sahiṣṇunā
kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ
Thinking oneself to be even more worthless than insignificant grass that has been trampled beneath everyone’s feet, being more tolerant than a tree, being prideless and offering respect to everyone according to their respective positions, one should continuously chant the holy name of Śrī Hari.
How can this mood come within us? Without this mood, bhakti and receiving the mercy of Kṛṣṇa and the Vrajavāsīs is impossible.
People become proud due to their own understanding and mundane knowledge and this creates a barrier to spiritual life. The Vraja-devīs have this mood of tṛṇād-api-sunīcena. Kṛṣṇa tries to serve and repay them, but they have no desire for anything but Kṛṣṇa’s service and happiness.
Kṛṣṇa could not repay the gopīs’ love; therefore He came as Mahāprabhu. Kṛṣṇa came in this world as Mahāprabhu to distribute vraja-bhakti.
The Vedic scriptures only give small indications but they don’t clearly describe how to one-pointedly serve Kṛṣṇa with a loving relation. Kṛṣṇa came and directly taught the process by which He could be controlled by love. Only the Vraja-devīs know this process. Their love is capable of conquering the unconquerable Lord. It is called samarthā-rati. But the Vraja-devīs won’t teach this process without the desire and permission of Kṛṣṇa.
The ignorant conditioned souls go to so many different demigods and goddesses but they don’t take shelter of the Vraja-devīs. They think,
“Oh, the gopīs were simple uneducated cowherd girls. They didn’t perform any austerity and had no superpowers. They only knew how to milk cows and churn yogurt.”
But Mahāprabhu came to distribute unnata-ujjvala-rasa. He did not come to give any material ujjvala, or effulgence. He came to give the highest supermost mellow which is completely spotless and pure. This mellow has no independent mood or desire. Everything is performed only for God’s pleasure. The Vraja-devīs know this process of pleasing Kṛṣṇa. Without their mercy and following in their footsteps, one can never understand the moods of Śrī Vraja-maṇḍala and vraja-rasa will never appear in their hearts. The associates of God never give help or mercy to independent persons who only worship God for the fulfillment of their own desires. Such persons are demons. Demons also worship God, but only to become powerful and terrorize others.
Kṛṣṇa came Himself as Mahāprabhu and stayed in the Gambhīrā teaching the living entities to take shelter of the Vraja-devīs. He showed by His own example how to take their shelter to attain pure bhakti-rasa. Without their shelter and guidance, there is no sādhana or austerity fit to control Kṛṣṇa. Even if one practices hard austerities and fasting for millions of lives, Kṛṣṇa will never be controlled or give vraja-prema. Kṛṣṇa left Vraja Bhūmi after only ten years. For the next 100 years He looked for anyone to accept this vraja-rasa, but couldn’t find anyone who desired or was qualified. Therefore, He returned in Kali-yuga as Mahāprabhu.
In Kali-yuga, the conditioned souls suffer more than in other ages. In Satya, Treta, and Dvāpara-yugas, there is more help for the jīvas.
If a father beats his child, the mother will help. If the mother beats, the uncle, aunt or neighbors will help. In this way, there are many helpers for the suffering souls in other ages. But in Kali-yuga only Kali Mahārāja is there to help the conditioned souls. If you don’t follow Kali and a sinful life, then he will give great pain and punishment to you. When the conditioned souls were suffering, then Kṛṣṇa thought, “I’ll go and give the foot dust of the Vraja-devīs. When they take that their bad nature will change. All other types of help are useless and give only temporary relief.”
Kṛṣṇa came as Mahāprabhu and discussed in confidence with Rāya Rāmānanda and Svarūpa Dāmodara and other intimate associates how to deliver the fallen souls. Gadādhara Paṇḍa stayed at a short distance. Mahāprabhu thought, “I will respectfully go to Gadādhara Paṇḍa and pray for His mercy in a humble mood and I will hear hari-kathā from Him. By getting His blessings, then the living entities will also follow this process. But if I stay nearby Gadādhara Paṇḍa then I will not be able to get His full mercy and follow in the moods of Śrīmatī Rādhikā. Therefore, it is necessary to stay at a little distance.”
Mahāprabhu gave Gopīnātha to Gadādhara to serve and show how the gopīs control Kṛṣṇa with their overpowering love. If Mahāprabhu goes to beg for the mercy of the Vraja-devīs, then the jīvas will also learn this process.
What is the specialty of this disciplic succession descending down from Gaurāṅga Mahāprabhu? What is the special gift and magnamimity bestowed by Śrīman Mahāprabhu in kali-yuga? In kali-yuga, the conditioned souls are all pulled naturally towards sinful activities. If anyone accepts anything in relation with Kali Mahārāja, then he controls them by this connection and they cannot escape. But those things can never give happiness or fulfillment.
Kali Mahārāja cannot give happiness to the soul. He is afraid they would turn and rebel against him. Kali Mahārāja punishes through his many followers. He will give food and a house, then break the house and poison the food. He will give children and then make them antagonistic to their parents. He gives body and then gives disease and suffering. In kali-yuga, these problems are always present. The nature of kali-yuga is kali-kalām-lāti, automatically, without any external cause, all people will be inclined to quarelling and fighting.
Kṛṣṇa stayed in Vraja-maṇḍala for ten years and then left to spread the glories of the Vraja-devīs and Vrajavāsīs. But Kṛṣṇa was very sad, He tried to help the conditioned beings, but they did not accept.
Without material suffering, the conditioned soul’s nature towards mundane sense enjoyment will not be cut off and they will not go to the correct path of spiritual enlightenment. When one is drowning in the ocean, even a small piece of wood becomes one’s savoir and one always feels indebted for the help. But if one is in a great situation, one will not care for anything. If one is suffering in the ocean of material existence, he may cry for the mercy and help of God.
In this age of darkness, the jīvas are always suffering and in sadness. Kṛṣṇa did not give this vraja-bhakti in any other of His dhāmas such as Mathurā, Vaikuṇṭha, Ayodhyā or Dvārakā. Kṛṣṇa wanted to teach that no one can become really near and dear to Him without taking the shelter of the Vraja-devīs.
To perform a sacrifice one must have pure ghee, wood and a place. But in kali-yuga, everything is contaminated. Soon there will not even be a place to find soil to make a sacrificial pit or wood to burn, all the earth is being covered with stone cement.
Lust and anger make us contaminated and the senses do not allow us to perform austerities. But wherever the glories of the Vraja-devīs and their foot dust is present, Kali Mahārāja cannot enter. If anyone takes the shelter of the Vraja-devīs, they will be saved from the effects of Kali. Therefore, Mahāprabhu wore gopī-candana and told all bhaktas to as well. Yogīs wear ashes and women wear bindis on their forehead, but it is rare to find someone who wears gopī-candana.
Ordinary people won’t chant the names of the gopīs, what to speak of wearing their foot dust on the forehead. But if one wears gopī-candana in this Kali-yuga while remembering and following in the footsteps of the gopīs, Kali will run far away and not disturb. Mahāprabhu came and distributed gopī-bhāva. He did not teach any external false imitation by wearing nose rings and sārīs, shaving the beard. This doesn’t mean following gopī-bhāva. Following the mood and conception of the Vraja-devīs means to chant kṛṣṇa-nāma, worship Kṛṣṇa and follow Kṛṣṇa’s instructions, bolo Kṛṣṇa bhaja Kṛṣṇa, koro Kṛṣṇa śikṣā. Only taking dikṣa is not enough. We must receive instruction, śikṣā, how to please Kṛṣṇa. Then we can attain kṛṣṇa-bhakti-rasa.
We must have intense greed for this and receive appropriate instruction. Then this unnata-ujjavala-rasa can come in the heart. But service tendency is required. That service is our eternal constitutional function, parama-dharma. Who can purify our tendencies? We must take shelter at the lotus feet of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu who came to distribute the pure loving service moods of the Vraja-devīs. If we are not careful and sincere in this regard, Kali will easily grind us on the anvil of material suffering and existence. Kali very cleverly will divert those endeavoring for bhajana without proper guidance.
Once there was an old man who told his family, “Now I am old and desire to go practice bhajana.” The family members agreed but his son’s wife said to the family, “How can you be so cruel to send your father and husband away to the jungle? For his whole life he has served you all with his blood. Now you will send him to the jungle where there is no facility to live easily and many dangerous animals might come and eat him!”
Seeing her compassion and good feeling, the family members were crying, “We never knew you had so much love for your father-in-law. More so even then your own. You are glorified today.”
The son’s wife said, “Bring a Rāmāyaṇa, Mahābhārata, Tulasī plant and other favorable items to practice bhajana of God, and we will serve him by maintaining all his bodily needs.”
The father wept in tears of gratitude. The son’s wife gave him a room to stay on the roof of the house and brought her young babies to him, saying, “O Bābā, please watch over my babies while chanting. Make sure no harm comes over them and play with them.”
Then she brought steamed potato slices to make into potato chips and set them in the sun on the roof. She took a stick and gave it to her father-in-law and told him to guard the chips from any birds or monkeys. She then brought old cloths of her children and gave them to her father-in-law to mend.
Going downstairs, she told the other family members, “Have you gone mad? A servant comes in the morning and leaves in the evening. They only follow their job description without any real care, and they take so much pay. But now your old father is babysitting and watching the drying chips and doing everything for free all day round.”
This is the work of Kali Mahārāja, tricking the jīvas who strive for getting out of the web of material existence without taking proper shelter and protection. Many so called sādhakas and yogīs call themselves liberated, but after they again become servants of the material energy by becoming involved in different humanitarian endeavors. In this way, they will never escape the hell of material existence.
How can we attain the shelter of the Vraja-devīs lotus feet? They have no attachment or affection for anything but Kṛṣṇa. They perform all their worldly household duties for Kṛṣṇa’s happiness. While cleaning, sweeping, milking cows, cooking, whatever they do, their minds never leave Kṛṣṇa. Their hearts are fully offered at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa. There is no need for any other sādhana or austerity. In kali-yuga, other sādhanas are not helpful without taking shelter of the Vraja-devīs. Kali Mahārāja pollutes everything.
Once there was two friends who went one morning to the Ganges to bathe. One friend said to the other, “Did you know that there was a thief who came and stole everything from one of the villager’s homes?”
His friend didn’t answer.
The other friend said, “Do you know?”
Finally his friend said, “Yes, I know.”
After bathing, the questioning friend went and reported his friend in to the police saying he knew the criminal. The police came and caught his friend and imprisoned him. He said, “What have I done?” The police replied, “You are an accomplice to the crime.”
“What do you mean? What crime?”
The police said, “Don’t act innocent, your friend told us everything. You said, ‘I know.’”
This is the nature of Kali-yuga. Someone who is a friend at one moment becomes your enemy the next. If someone tries to give a family man mahā-prasāda, he will doubt the offering, saying, “What is this?
Why are you helping me, definitely you are a great cheater trying to poison me and then steal and enjoy my wife!” In Kali-yuga, there is no trust and honesty and true friend. Everything is contaminated. All charity, austerity, sacrifice—all is contaminated. But Kali is afraid of one thing, gopi-candana.
Kali will try to cheat and stop devotees from following these simple activities that hold such importance. Mahāprabhu instructs, “Smear your body in the foot dust of the gopīs. Pray and remember their holy names, follow in their footsteps under their shelter. The filth of Kali will never come nearby one who has made relation with the Vraja-devīs.”
Once, Kaṁsa came to Śrī Vṛndāvana to try to kill Kṛṣṇa Himself.
An old lady saw him entering and said, “Where are you going? Who are you?”
Kaṁsa said, “Who am I! I am the king of this land, who do you think you are?”
“Without my permission you can’t enter Vṛndāvana.”
Kaṁsa took out his sword to kill her but she caught his hair and threw him in a pond. When he came out he saw that his strong masculine body had been transformed into the body of an old woman. He shouted,
“I’m a woman, an old woman!”
Paurṇamāsī-devī caught and bound him to a tree and told all the Vrajavāsīs to slap the old lady while leaving that area and to kick her while reentering. Paurṇamāsī-devī gave him cow dung to make into patties and fed him with skins of fruits and vegetables. He suffered for a long time and then prayed to Paurṇamāsī, “Please release me, I promise to never return.”
Paurṇamāsī threw the old lady back in the kuṇḍa and she came out again as Kaṁsa.
Similarly, Kali Mahārāja is also afraid of the Vrajavāsīs. He has a very fearsome persona, but when he sees anyone who is a follower of the Vraja-devīs, wearing their foot dust, gopi-candana, he will run away in fear. He knows that if he goes to disturb them he will also become a prisoner of them like Kaṁsa was. Kali Mahārāja knows that before the gopīs bound even Kṛṣṇa to a tree and dressed Him as a gopī, putting a clay pot full of yogurt on His head and then breaking it with a stone.
The gopīs control the Supreme Lord Himself; therefore, Kali Mahārāja is very afraid of their power. Externally they appear very simple, but they are actually very powerful. The gopīs control Kṛṣṇa and make Him sign a paper saying, “I am the eternal servant of Śrīmatī Rādhikā.”
Kali Mahārāja thinks, “Kṛṣṇa was arrested by the gopīs, now if I disturb any of their followers, in a moment they will catch and imprison me also.” Kali Mahārāja sent many of his followers to disturb the devotees, but they were all converted and wore tilaka and chanted, ‘Hare Kṛṣṇa, Haribol!’ They wore gopi-candana and forgot their own families.
Because Mahāprabhu came in this Kali-yuga, it has become glorious.
dhanya kali dhanya, nitai-caitanya, parama karuna kori
vidhi-agocara, je prema-vikāra, prakāśe jagata-bhāri
O blessed Kali, you are most glorious, for Śrī Gaura Hari and Nityānanda Prabhu have appeared in this world to display supreme compassion. They filled the world with such high levels of prema which were incomprehensible even to Brahmājī.
Mahāprabhu came to teach this vraja-prema. Then the conditioned souls who follow the Vrajavāsīs will continuously remember and have love for Kṛṣṇa. Other rules and regulations are useless. Follow ramyā-kācid-upāsana, the gopīs’ method of worship.
When waking in the morning, what do you do? Do you serve the dead body with toothbrush and paste, shower and a massage? Don’t waste your life in this way. Wake in the early morning during brāhma-muhūrta and pray to the Vraja-devīs. They are engaged in making sandesa, beautiful flower garlands, cooking, cleaning, and they are always singing, ‘Govinda Dāmodara Mādhaveti.’ They are always busy for Kṛṣṇa’s service and remembrance. Kṛṣṇa has three bends, He is very tricky, don’t chant His names alone. Chant the names of Kṛṣṇa in relation with the Vraja-devīs and pray to them for protection and service. Mahāprabhu instructs, “First chant Hare, then Kṛṣṇa. First have relation with Śrīmatī Rādhikā and the Vraja-devīs, after Kṛṣṇa.” Mahāprabhu always prayed to the Vraja-devīs.
Śrīla Gurudeva always prayed with the songs of the gosvāmīs to the Vraja-devīs. Waking daily in the early morning, he prayed śrī gāndharva-samprārthanāṣṭakam, lalitāṣṭakam, yamunāṣṭakam and all prayers.
Śrīla Gurudeva instructs, “Pray, pray, pray. All our Guru-varga pray and practice this ramyā-kācid-upāsana.”
Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī prayed:
tavaivāsmi tavaivāsmi na jīvāmi tvayā vinā
iti vijñāya devī tvaṁ naya māṁ caraṇāntike
“I am Yours! I am Yours! I cannot live without You. O Rādhe! Knowing this, please give me a place at Your lotus feet.”
dūyamānam ati-durgataṁ janam
“O Devī Śrī Rādhikā, I am in a helpless condition, drowning in the ocean of unhappiness. Please lift me into the strong boat of Your mercy and give me the shelter of Your lotus feet.”
Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī prayed day and night. He is the foremost of the followers of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, the rūpānugas. We must all endeavor to follow in his footsteps. If someone follows under the shelter of the Vraja-devīs with a humble destitute mood, then even Kṛṣṇa will run behind them thinking, “How can I serve them? What can I give them?”
But the Vraja-devīs and their followers only desire to serve. They do not desire to take anything from Kṛṣṇa. In this world, all pray to God for their personal desires, but who prays to please and serve God? The Vraja-devīs tell Kṛṣṇa, “If you give us any worldly things and leave us, our lives will be destroyed. We desire nothing but Your continuous service.”
Kṛṣṇa left Vṛndāvana after ten years and all the Vrajavāsīs drowned in His separation. Kṛṣṇa sent royal cloth and ornaments back with Nanda Mahārāja. Nanda Bābā told Kṛṣṇa, “If I take these to Yaśodā, she will abuse me saying, ‘you sold my son in Mathurā for some useless trinkets! Now you should also leave Vraja.’ ”
Kṛṣṇa said, “Give her these gifts and tell her I am soon returning.”
Nanda Mahārāja said, “O Kṛṣṇa, Lālā, Yaśodā doesn’t desire anything but You. To her, all the wealth in the world is as useless as dust. Without You, her world is void. She is blinded in separation from You.”
Strive to understand the conception of Mahāprabhu and how He practiced remembering and following the Vraja-devīs in Gambhīrā.
Śrīman Mahāprabhu instructs, “In this world there are two types of jīvas, one is the conditioned soul and one is a sādhaka. Sādhakas are of two types, one is vaidhi-marga follower and one is rāgānugā.
The sādhaka of vaidhī is like a prisoner; by force they follow the government’s rules. But they desire to break out of the jail and go out of the rules and regulations. In vaidhī there is no love, it is only like duty where they follow by force and after duty run to māyā. In the rāgānugā-mārga there is anurāga, deep love, and it is natural affection.
Mahāprabhu stayed in siddha pīṭha Gambhīrā where the gurus worshiped Jagannātha with deep love. Not only with mantra and paraphernalia, not only with instruments, but they offered their own hearts to Jagannātha, served Jagannātha, and had a strong relation with Jagannātha.
Once King Indradyumna prayed to Jagannātha for a boon, “Whoever becomes Jagannātha’s head pūjārī will have no attachment for wealth and no greed and won’t steal anything. I also pray that his generation will never run on. He will never have any children. He will never be divided. If he has children and family then his heart will go into pieces.”
Bringing the heart back and offering it to God only partially is not sweet. Mahāprabhu stayed in this Gambhīrā endeavoring to give all svarūpa-siddhi, but not only this, he gave entrance into soul service and He gave strength, sweetness and affection. He gave svarūpa-siddhi and attachment for soul service. Is this enough? How does the disconnected jīva get relation and from where does connection come from?
Jagannātha Purī has two sides. One side is Dvārakā and one side is Vṛndāvana. Mahāprabhu says, “You came to Jagannātha Purī; now don’t look at the Dvārakā queens.” There is Ānanda Bazaar, a big market with of mahā-prasāda, and one side there is a garden and flowers. On the other side there are all demigods and naked pictures on the four sides of the temple. What will you choose? One side is Mahā Lakṣmī. She is cooking and arranging Jagannātha’s service with her followers. That area is Dvārakā Purī.
But at the Gambhīrā, a little ways away, by Jagannātha’s desire, Kāśī Miśra and Dhyāncandra Gosvāmī, Gopāla guru Gosvāmī, Mahāprabhu and His followers, worship Jagannātha under guidance of the Vraja-devīs.
Serve Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa 24 hours a day. Not one minute or two, not one or two hours and not one or two days. Serve Them from morning to evening every day of your life. This is the teaching of Mahāprabhu.
How will this nature and habit come? Mahāprabhu gave one small Giridhārī-śīla to Ragunātha dāsa Gosvāmī. He gave order to worship Girirāja with Tulasī and a clay pot of water. Why didn’t He say to use so much paraphernalia and opulence? If one goes to the side of Dvārakā and opulence, then the heart will become hard like a rock. The heart will also become divided. Completely follow the Vrajavāsīs and vraja-sevā. By serving in the mind, following the footsteps of the Vraja-devīs, their mercy will come and make the heart soft and naturally all nectarful service tendency will come to one.
Mahāprabhu is there to help and serve all. How does He help?
At the time of cāturmāsya many bhaktas would come for Ratha-yātrā and after stayed in Jagannātha Purī for four months. They brought many presentations to Mahāprabhu. They gave to Govinda all the preparations they had brought and everyday different devotees would arrange to give Mahāprabhu bhikṣa. They would arrange Jagannātha’s mahā-prasāda and also cook themselves and they would thus serve Mahāprabhu.
Mahāprabhu was very clever, He said, “I will accept the bhaktas invitation for lunch on one condition. They must be a lākhapati.”
Lākhapati is generally a word used to describe someone who is wealthy. All the bhaktas were disturbed thinking that they were all very poor. Then Mahāprabhu said, “They must chant one lākha of harināma and then I’ll take prasādam from. Otherwise I won’t touch anything from them.”
The bhaktas thought, “When will we have time to chant 64 rounds and after perform all our services?” There would be no time to go and address anybody and no time to talk uselessly; there would be no time to waste a moment. Then after chanting, they would cook and offer and serve Mahāprabhu. Why did Mahāprabhu give this instruction to chant 64 rounds? While chanting, devotees could always pray to Śrī Rādhārānī and the Vraja-devīs. By remembering and praying to them for six to eight hours daily, their mercy would easily be attained and then strong energy and taste comes. Then when they cook or offer any bhoga, those foodstuffs will be like the cooking of the Vraja-devīs and their mahā-prasāda. Otherwise one who does not follow, remember and pray to the Vraja-devīs, anything offered independently to Kṛṣṇa will not be accepted.
Kṛṣṇa and Mahāprabhu say, “If you have no relation with the Vraja-devīs, if you are not praying and requesting them for relation and shelter, then I will not be related to you.”
In Dvārakā they chant, “oṁ namo bhagavate vāsudevaya, śrī-kṛṣṇa śaraṇam mama.”
But they don’t chant, “Rādhe Rādhe! Prāṇeśvarī Rādhe! Madeśvarī Rādhe!” They only go to the side of Kṛṣṇa; therefore, Kṛṣṇa does not accept them.
Mahāprabhu instructed all bhaktas to chant daily 64 rounds of harināma with the aim and object fixed on serving Śrī Vraja-maṇḍala and the Vrajavāsīs. And if they do not think about Vṛndāvana, then they are very far from Kṛṣṇa and Mahāprabhu and They won’t accept anything.
From the day Mahāprabhu instructed the devotees to be lakhapatis, they seriously chanted 64 rounds daily and after came to the Gambhīrā near Mahāprabhu and invited Him to take prasādam and bhikṣa.
This is called vraja-sevā and svarūpa-siddhi. If you think, “I will do everything! All work!” If you are not under guidance and shelter of the Vraja-devīs then everything you do will be karma. Karma and sevā are very different. Karma is anything done independently. If you work for 24 hours a day with an independent doer mood, only material results will come.
Mahāprabhu instructed, “Chant 64 rounds daily while remembering the Vraja-devīs and Vrajavāsīs, and practicing internal mānasī-sevā. Otherwise the mind will go restlessly here and there. Pray for the service of the Vrajavāsīs. Pray, “Please accept me!” While chanting, always pray.
If there is no prayer, then chanting is only dry practice, like a tape recorder or parrot. Once, a person taught a parrot to chant, ‘Rāma Rāma, Rādhe Syāma.” The parrot chanted over and over and all people came and said, “Bah! Very good parrot.” After some time a cat came. The parrot forgot Rāma’s name and started shrieking, “Kaw, kaw, kaw, don’t kill me!”
Mahāprabhu said, “Chant 64 rounds of harināma while praying and remembering the holy names of the Vraja-devīs.”After, when one goes for any task or service, then the practical mood will come and one will continue to pray and if anything goes wrong, the vraja-devī’s will be your guardians and will protect you. Otherwise, one’s service will be improper and not connected. Chanting does not mean austerity; it is the process to build relation with God and His associates. Therefore pray, “I’m very wicked and useless, please accept me and give me your eternal service. I’m waiting for this only, I will take nothing else.”
Now the mind is restless and there is no desire or taste for any service. By force we do anything, and if any disturbance comes, like a volcano we erupt in anger.
Gambhīrā means deep and grave. These instructions of Mahāprabhu are very important and serious. In this world all give instructions for material acquisition. From the beginning of life parents train their children, “mama, pāpa, uncle, auntie.” Then they send them to school where teachers teach business and atheistic philosophy. Sad-guru and vaiṣṇavas teach paramārtha, spiritual truths and treasure. They bring us to the transcendental path. No one else teaches this. Materialists hear the instructions of sādhus and tell their relatives; “Don’t listen to these crazy fools!”
Worldly people always teach about material sense enjoyment for the dead physical body. But no one is merciful and teaches about the real life of the soul. No one helps to break attachment and bring one to the God’s lotus feet. They know this world and mortal life is temporary but without sense enjoyment their minds are not happy.
Mahāprabhu told all the bhaktas that He would not accept or have any relation with a devotee who did not chant one lakh of harināma daily. Haridāsa Ṭhākura chanted three lakhas daily, and therefore, Mahāprabhu sent mahā-prasāda for Him daily. One day Govinda Prabhu went to give Haridāsa Ṭhākura mahā-prasāda but he wouldn’t accept saying, “Now my body is not helping or allowing me to complete my vowed number of holy names; therefore, I won’t give it any help with this prasādam. If this body doesn’t serve God, it is worse than useless.”
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja taught all his disciples to first chant sixteen rounds after maṅgala-āratī without distraction and then perform any other activity. The minds of those who have no relation with Śrī nāma will never be purified.
madhura-madhuram etan maṅgalaṁ maṅgalānāṁ
sakṛd api parigītaṁ śraddhayā helayā vā
bhṛguvara nara-mātraṁ tārayet kṛṣṇa-nāma
“Kṛṣṇa-nāma is the sweetest of the sweet and the most auspicious of all that is auspicious. It is the flourishing creeper and eternal, fully-ripened fruit of the all the Vedas, and the embodiment of divine knowledge, cit-śakti. O best of the Bhṛgu dynasty! If someone chants the holy name only once, be it with faith or contempt (helā), he is immediately delivered from this ocean of birth and death!”
When Śrī harināma enters a person’s ears, then whether one is pure or impure, Śrī nāma gives liberation to all. Those who take shelter of Śrī Nāma Prabhu obtain svarūpa-siddhi and relation with the Vrajavāsīs and Vraja-devīs and their mercy and shelter, than God accepts anything they offer. Otherwise Mahāprabhu will not accept anything. God will not accept things offered with material natures of passion and ignorance. Mahāprabhu gave everybody adhikāra to serve in Vraja. Mahāprabhu didn’t distribute anything for mundane health and wealth, He only distributed for soul health and wealth. He did not give nice food and drinks, He gave the ambrosial nectar drinks of Rāsa Pañcādhyayi. This nectar is sweeter million times more than mango lassi and ice cream. This ambrosial nectar grants immortality.
Mahāprabhu always drunk this nectar and was never hungry or thirsty for anything else, only this pure and sweet love of the Vrajavāsīs. Mahāprabhu taught devotees how to spend their time together performing hari-kathā. Mahāprabhu met with Svarūpa Dāmodara and others, Govinda Prabhu became disturbed, “Oh, the time is over, it is late at night! Please come and take mahā-prasāda.” But Mahāprabhu would not eat, He only wept and His tears filled up the room. He smashed His face along the walls and bled from all His limbs.
Śrīla Gurudeva said, “Who can understand this loving separation in the pastimes of Mahāprabhu?”
Mahāprabhu would weep and roll on the ground. Govinda Prabhu was praying, “Why have Svarūpa Dāmodara and Rāya Rāmānanda come here and make Mahāprabhu restless and crazed like a madman. What do they talk about that makes Him so?
Govinda Prabhu desired to calm Mahāprabhu, massage and give Him mahā-prasāda. But Mahāprabhu only wept. Govinda Prabhu requested Svarūpa Dāmodara and Rāya Rāmānanda not to come to the Gambhīrā. They stopped for some time, and Mahāprabhu wept, “What is my fault, why haven’t they come today? O Govinda, send someone to inquire why Svarūpa Dāmodara and Rāya Rāmānanda haven’t come. My heart is broken without them. They are my nearest and dearest friends, my heart and soul.”
Govinda Prabhu said, “But when they come You don’t eat or rest.
You only cry and cry, smashing Your face against the walls. You never sleep. How is this happiness? Why do You enjoy their company?”
Mahāprabhu said, “No Govinda, call them. Don’t act independently. If You want me to stay alive for another day, quickly call them to come. If I can’t meet with the Vrajavāsīs then this life is useless and I will give it up.”
Mahāprabhu saw that everything was dry in all directions without the association of His intimate pariṣada. Govinda Prabhu was upset that Mahāprabhu would not eat regularly when meeting with Svarūpa Dāmodara and Rāya Rāmānanda. Jagannātha mahā-prasāda is good, but one must not neglect the nectar of hari-kathā and navadhā-bhakti. The mahā-prasāda of Jagannātha is annam-brahma, or God in the form of grains and it is very helpful, but if we only take that without taking the nectar of hari-kathā of the nāma, rūpa, guṇa and līlās of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, then only a Brahma mood will come. One will become dry and impersonal. Stay under the association anurāgagī-vaiṣṇavas and relish the nectar of hari-kathā.
nigama-kalpa-taror galitaṁ phalaṁ
pibata bhāgavataṁ rasam ālayaṁ
muhur aho rasikā bhuvi bhāvukāḥ
O expert and thoughtful men, just drink the nectar of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the mature fruit of the desire tree of the Vedas. Although this nectarean fruit was already relishable by all souls, it has become even more tasteful, having come from the lips of Śukadeva Gosvāmī.
Without drinking the nectar of hari-kathā one’s soul will never blossom—śreyaḥ kairava candrika vitaraṇam. If anyone drinks God’s glories than everything else in the world will taste bitter and poisonous.
Govinda Prabhu wanted to make Mahāprabhu take mahā-prasāda first and then meet with Svarūpa Dāmodara and Rāya Rāmānanda. But Mahāprabhu would not take anything without them. Govinda Prabhu went and called them and they came and sat with Mahāprabhu and took mahā-prasāda, smiling and speaking sweetly. Govinda Prabhu requested, “First take mahā-prasāda and then speak hari-kathā.” How could Govinda Prabhu understand what is real food and nourishment to the soul.
Mahāprabhu lived for eighteen years at the Gambhīrā in a very small room. The garden outside was large and daily the servants of Jagannātha brought His finest mahā-prasāda to distribute to Mahāprabhu and His bhaktas. They knew that Jagannātha would never be pleased unless Mahāprabhu and the devotees were served nicely. Jagannātha Himself would stop taking anything if they didn’t give prasāda to the devotees. Jagannātha feeds the whole world by taking 56 offerings daily.
When God is satisfied, the whole world is satisfied and if God isn’t satisfied, no one can be satisfied.
When Śrīla Gurudeva stayed in the Puruṣottama-maṭha, devotees would arrange to bring the mahā-prasāda of Jagannātha and Mahāprabhu. It filled the whole temple with fragrance like heavenly flowers of the demigods. The cooking of Mahā Lakṣmī is incomparable in its taste, sweetness and fragrance. However, during the time of Ratha-yātrā, Lakṣmī doesn’t cook, the Vrajavāsīs come from Vraja-maṇḍala and cook for their nearest and dearest beloved Kṛṣṇa. They have a transcendental competition then to see whose cooking is the most excellent.
When Mahāprabhu was staying in Gambhīrā, He would pray:
mat-samo nāsti pāpātmā nāparādhī ca kaścana
parihāre ‘pi lajjā me kiṁ bruve puruṣottama
O Puruṣottama, there is no one as sinful and offensive as I am. How can I describe myself? I am embarrassed to admit my sins, and I am hesitant to give them up.
Mahāprabhu said in separation and feelings of great humility,
“O Puruṣottama, there is no one so sinful as Myself! If you search and search you can never find anyone as sinful. But I can’t leave My wicked nature!”
Mahāprabhu also prayed:
yuvatīnāṁ yathā yūni
yūnāṁ ca yuvatau yathā
mano ‘bhiramate tadvan
mano me ramatāṁ tvayi
Just as the minds of young ladies take pleasure in thinking of young men, and the minds of young men take pleasure in thinking of young women, kindly let my mind take pleasure in You alone.
As one girl who has a heartfelt loving relation with a lover, when he is distant, she cannot think of anything but him day and night.
While eating, sleeping, walking, talking, at all times and in all circumstances she thinks of her separated lover. If she hears one sound approaching, she thinks it must be her lover. Similarly, when will such a day come that we have such anurāga, loving attachment for Kṛṣṇa?
May Mahāprabhu’s place of residence, Śrī Gambhīrā, give mercy to us, so that our hearts polluted by worldly relations will be cleansed of the material filth. May we always stay under the shelter of Mahāprabhu and His associates and attain the shelter of the Vraja-devīs and Śrī Vraja-maṇḍala. Mahāprabhu came in kali-yuga to give the wealth of this vraja-bhāva and anurāga. He tasted these moods in the Gambhīrā and from there spread it all over the world.
Śrīla Gurudeva sat for many hours and hours in the Gambhīrā speaking all these deep truths and singing kīrtanas favorable to the grave moods of loving separation. He bathed all devotees in the nectarful flow of his love. Mahāprabhu was certainly there also eagerly listening to Śrīla Gurudeva speak hari-kathā and sing kīrtana in his sweet voice.
Go to the Gambhīrā on parikramā, either by mind or physically and sit there and pray deeply. Don’t run fast like a horse race. If there is no prayer, parikramā becomes as if useless. There is no other process to collect this vraja-prema. This vraja-prema was spread all over the world from the Gambhīrā by Mahāprabhu.
Once, Mahāprabhu was going to pass while holding His tongue. A small boy named Gopāla asked, “O Mahāprabhu, why are you holding your tongue?”
Mahāprabhu said, “My tongue is very restless and incessantly chants harināma. But it would be offensive to chant while passing, therefore, I hold My tongue to make it stop.”
Gopāla said, “O Mahāprabhu, what about when someone is dying or very sick, at that time, their bodily functions are uncontrolled and they pass stool and urine, should they not then chant harināma at the time of their death? Isn’t harināma transcendental and passes beyond all material constraints.”
Mahāprabhu said, “Yes, you are not small Gopāla, you are My guru. Harināma is always auspicious and there are no rules according to time, place and circumstance, purity or contamination.”
Mahāprabhu stated this in His Śikṣāṣṭaka:
nāmnām akāri bahudhā nija-sarva-śaktis
tatrārpitā niyamitaḥ smaraṇe na kālaḥ
etādṛśī tava kṛpā bhagavan mamāpi
durdaivam īdṛśam ihājani nānurāgaḥ
O Bhagavān, Your names bestow supreme auspiciousness upon the jīvas. Therefore, for their benefit, You are eternally manifest as Your innumerable forms with names such as Rāma, Nārāyaṇa, Kṛṣṇa, Mukunda, Mādhava, Govinda and Dāmodara. You have invested all Your śakti in those names and out of Your causeless mercy, You have not even imposed any restrictions on the remembrance of these names (as is the case with certain prayers and mantras that must be chanted at specific times). Although you have made such a merciful arrangement, O Lord, it is my great misfortune that I have no attraction to chanting these names.
There is no ban, one can chant at any time. Kṛṣṇa is our beloved Lord, the Supersoul of all our souls. Mahāprabhu let go of His tongue and Gopāla later became known as Gopāla Guru Gosvāmī.
Mahāprabhu instructs, “If anyone takes this vraja-rasa, his soul will get health and real birth.” Therefore, always pray and pray to Mahāprabhu for His mercy and pray to Śrī Gambhīrā for blessings and relation to Vraja-bhūmi.
Mahāprabhu was continuously following and worshiping Kṛṣṇa with the moods of the Vraja-devīs while staying in the Gambhīrā. Śrīla Gurudeva taught that all his disciples must follow the verse of Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura which is the essential teaching of Mahāprabhu:
ārādhyo bhagavān vrajeśa-tanayas-tad-dhāma vṛndāvanaṁ
ramyā kācid-upāsanā vraja-vadhū vargeṇa yā kalpitā
śrīmad-bhāgavataṁ pramāṇam amalaṁ premā pumartho mahān
śrī caitanya mahāprabhor matam idaṁ tatrādaro naḥ paraḥ
Vrajendra-nandana Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the supreme worshipful Deity. Śrī Vṛndāvana-dhāma is worshipful like Kṛṣṇa, because it is the place of His pastimes. Amongst all forms of worship, the gopīs’ worship of Kṛṣṇa is supreme. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam offers the supreme, flawless evidence of this truth. This is the teaching of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
This is the essential teaching of Śrīman Mahāprabhu. Always pray and cry like a small baby for its mother. If you have no relation with the Vrajavāsīs, than you will be attracted by the allurements of māyā and will go far away from bhakti. Therefore, pray for relation with Mahāprabhu and Vraja-maṇḍala, then you can cross māyā maṇḍala.
Srila Gurudeva ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Sri Guru Darshan”. Available from [email protected] )