[A question was asked by Sripad Vaikhanas Maharaja to Sripad Premananda Prabhu before the class.]

Sripad Vaikhanas Maharaja: What is the difference between prema seva in Vraja and aisvarya maya bhakti in Vaikuntha? Can one progress from aisvarya bhakti to prema seva, or is that mood fixed?

Sripad Premananda Prabhu: One can cross aisvarya seva. After a long time, one will become detached from the opulence there, and will want to give up one’s loka or one’s Narayana-like form and enter Krsna’s abode in one of the three rasas.

Sripad Vaikhanas Maharaja: Are they in Vaikuntha at this point?

Sripad Premananda Prabhu: Gopa Kumara was helped by his Gurudeva to go past these different abodes. Like this, he got to cross quickly.

[Hari-katha begins]

Today is the auspicious day of Dipavali. The day before yesterday was Dhanvantari’s appearance day. He came to this world to give help and medicine to anyone who is sick or diseased. By the prayers of Brahma, Dhanvantari appeared as an incarnation of Lord Visnu. He came and bestowed Ayurveda, the knowledge of health and life, as part of the Vedic science, to help all the jivas.

This was the day before yesterday. The day after Annakuta is the appearance day of the sun-god’s son and daughter. The twins who came together on that day are – Yama Maharaja and Yamuna-devi. When Yama Maharaja comes, everyone welcomes him with ghee lamps. This is suddha-dipavali. Today is Dipavali, and we will all offer dipa as well.

The four Vedas, the Puranas, Upanisadas, and other Vedic sastras explain the significance of Dipavali. Now, we will try to understand the real meaning of Dipavali.

The Nava Yogendras and many other great sages are present in the seven upper planetary systems, and are engaged in the worship of the Lord. But, they were made hapless by darkness. What was this darkness? They could not cross beyond these seven planetary systems. There are many boundaries surrounding each planetary system. Around the universe, there are the five elements covering each abode. In Svarga-loka, Mahar-loka, Tapa-loka, and Jana-loka, the residents have subtle bodies. The bodies there are not made of the five material elements. Then, if you go even higher, their bodies become more and more subtle. Yet, they still have one layer covering the soul. This layer is very thick and strong.

Whatever the jivas receive is the fruit of their karma. They have to taste the result of their karma by taking birth in any of the eight million, four hundred thousand species of life. Fat people desire to be skinny, skinny people desire to be fat, black people desire to be white, and white people desire to be tanned; also, youngsters desire to become grown-ups and the old desire to be young. These are the ways of this world of duality. Sages do bhajana, but they are surrounded by darkness. What is this darkness? They have different desires, and they try to cross Maya by the strength of their own understandings. But, this is impossible. They pray to Lord Brahma, “Why did you begin this creation? There is darkness everywhere – and no light. Without light, one has no strength or power. If everything is dark, one cannot understand anything. Many questions are left unanswered. Some of these perplexing questions are, “How to cross through the darkness? Where are we? Why have we come here?”

During the beginning of creation, Brahma prayed to the Lord and said, “I am alone here on top of this lotus. Why am I alone? What is the nature of this place I am in? Why is this whole region empty?” From the time the jivas are born in this material world, they are filled with questions, questions they ask up until the last moment of their lives. They are never exhausted of asking questions. To add to their misery, they find no solution to these questions.

One day, the sages went to Lord Brahma, and asked him this question. Brahma said, “I also had this question. I also could not understand why I was always surrounded by darkness, and why I came to this world. I doubted the very existence of my creation that consists of the different living beings like the kinnaras, raksasas, gandharvas, yogis, bhogis, tapasvis, brahmarsis etc. I created so many things and life forms. Afterwards, the whole world became filled with these life forms.” But, none of them knew where they came from, why they were here, or where they were destined to go. They could not see each other’s natures. They were spiritually blind. Their eyes don’t have the power to see spirit. They see something in this world by the help of light. But, they have no power of their own. Then, what could be done?

Pacifying the sages, lord Brahma said, “We will pray to Lord Visnu.”

Lord Visnu replied, “I will come, and I will help you all.”

Hence, today on Dipavali, Lord Visnu appeared to pacify His devotees.

Brahma heard the following mantra:

Tama sama jyotir gamaya

Tama means darkness. How can this be dispelled? It can be dispelled by coming near the light. Svami Maharaja wrote in the Back to Godhead magazine, “Godhead is light. Nescience is darkness. Where there is Godhead there can be no darkness.” Presently, we are all in nescience, or darkness. Godhead is light. If you go to God, you will be enlightened.

Tamasa jyotir gamaya

How can we go to the light? Who is God?

Lord Visnu now came. He said, “Compare your soul with Mine. I am Paramatma, and you are jivatma. When you are disconnected, you are in darkness, and when you are connected, you will see the jyotir gamaya, or the spiritual effulgence of the atma, or soul.” They could see Visnu, and they could see their own soul. The effulgence of their souls was like a jyoti, an effulgent lamp. The soul is effulgent and emanates lights. When one turns his back to God, he is in darkness. And, when he turns to God, he sees his own self. When you are turned away from God, you are in your own shadow. And, if you turn your face to the light, then your shadow will be in the back. Why are you standing and suffering in darkness? God is light, but you don’t want to go to God. You are disconnected from God and neglect God. You like others. Everyone else is just a shadow. Everyone is in darkness, in a dry and dark well. If you run to these deep and dark wells, then you will fall in them, and you will be stuck in this darkness.

The Lord tells the jivas, “You should turn towards Me. Stay with Me, and be connected with Me. Serve Me. Follow Me. Be with Me.” By following the Lord’s statements, you will be connected to the powerhouse. Everyone is effulgent. There are divya mala. They are all effulgent because they are connected to God. Then, they are like flames – happily dancing and filled with energy.

If you go to family men and villagers, and offer money to them to come to the temple and dance, they will refuse your offer. They will not come. But, brahmacaris eat, sleep, and are connected with God. Therefore, they are always dancing here and there, very happily. They do not worry about anything. This is because they are in light, and hence, they are effulgent.

On this day of Dipavali, Lord Visnu appeared in Satya Yuga. He saw that there was no need to offer lights to Him. All the souls present in the world were themselves like flames offered to Him. There are butterflies and fireflies. Fireflies are effulgent while butterflies or other flies fly into the fire.

When the Lord came, everyone ran to Him because of being attracted to Him; His effulgence drew everyone near Him. Then, the jivas said, “Prabhu, why have You sent us to this abode of death and darkness? Please help us. We are in darkness. If You are not with us, we will forget You, and then we will be stuck in this darkness. Why have You sent us here? Take us to Vaikuntha. We will go with You. We will go back to Your abode, back home, back to Godhead.”

The Lord said, “Yes, I will take you to the spiritual abode. But, you must feel that you want to be with Me, that you miss Me. I have given you everything in this world. If you look at this, you become attracted to it, and you are happy with that. But, you never think about Me.”

The jivas said, “We are foolish. We don’t understand our own ignorance. But, now that we are before Your effulgent form, we are happy for we have realized our own transcendental natures also. But, when we don’t see You, we are lost in ignorance and darkness. Please help us.”

On this day, the Lord Himself came to this world, and He gave connection and inspiration to the jivas. He came to help the living entities in this world to be connected with the light of Godhead. God said, “I will send My power, My svarupa sakti to relieve you from all sadness and suffering. The sun himself will come. He is the power of svarupa sakti. For twelve hours, from morning to evening, the expansion of svarupa sakti, the sun, will help you.” The jivas lose their energy, and sleep at night. But, in the morning when the sun rises, all the trees, plants, creepers, birds, animals, and people receive energy. With this power, they can digest food, and thus, get energized for the entire day.

With this strength, they should follow spiritual classes. Vyasadeva and the other sages wrote and taught how to progress in spiritual life. If one follows these spiritual classes, he will quickly be connected to the light of Godhead. Who are these sages? There are the Dvadasa Mahajanas, twelve great personalities:

svayambhur naradah sambhuh
kumarah kapilo manuh
prahlado janako bhishmo
balir vaiyasakir vayam
—Srimad Bhagavatham 6.3.20

The Lord said, “Follow these twelve mahajanas. They are always connected with Me, and they will connect you with Me.”

People hear instructions for one day. Then, they think, “This light is not valuable.” When the sun rises, they become proud of their health and strength, and then they fight with each other. And, when the moon is sent to cool the living entities, he gives nectar, or amrta, but the jivas take this and become against God. They try to steal the post of God. They want to be God themselves.

They say, “I am God.”

Are you God or a dog? It is better to be a dog than to call yourself God. Then, you try to enjoy Maha Laksmi.

The fault of the jivas is that from the first day to the last, they are enjoyers, and they want to enjoy everything. If you offer something to God, then it is favorable. It is prasada. But, whatever they collect, they try to enjoy. The abundant resources of this world are provided by Maha Laksmi. Maha Laksmi provides everything in this world. To her children, she gives everything. But, people try to enjoy everything selfishly, and they call it theirs. They think of themselves as the masters. Because of this, they are punished. And, because of this enjoying tendency, they get a body that is a source of great suffering. The body is not life, it is dead. The soul, who is living, is placed in the dead body. In this body, there are many other souls who cause the primary soul to suffer. We are in one body, and there are thousands of souls within that body who give us pain. These souls are those we have cheated in the past, who we are indebted to, or who we have killed. When we kill an animal, the soul of that animal enters our bodies, and they start to eat our flesh. They go in our bones, brains, stomachs, or blood, and give us suffering. How can we be relieved? You cannot kill these souls with medicine. They are very strong. These souls will suck our blood because we took theirs from them. Then, this will return to us.

By hari-kirtana, and by being surrendered to the Lord and serving God, these souls within our bodies will receive the mercy of God. If they get God’s prasadam and caranamrta, they will get liberation, and they will be connected to the light. Then, they will see the effulgence of their own soul. They will see that within their bodies, there are many souls who are all connected to God, and effulgent like flames. Then, they become our friends, and they will help us. Then, we are not alone. Then, we will not suffer. Why? It is because everyone will help us then. While sleeping, eating, during kirtana, or by performing any devotional service, people will always be enthusiastic.

utsahan niscayad dhairyat
sanga-tyagat sato vritteh
shadbhir bhaktih prasidhyati
—Upadesamrita 3

Leave bad association. Then, these souls in our bodies will become our good friends because they have been purified by mahaprasada and caranamrta provided to them. They are supremely benefited by staying in the holy places, and by my taking the foot dust of the Vaisnavas.

Once, all the rsis and maharsis had a meeting. They discussed on how they could all be connected with God. Then, they would never leave the light of Godhead. They then began doing austerities. Sometime later, God himself said, “Okay, if you want to be connected to Me, you must always be engaged in service. You must control your senses and bodies, and you must offer your souls and bodies to the mahajanas.”

This is like putting your money in a bank. Then, you can access your money with your card, and the bank preserves your money. If you are a big businessman, they arrange your flight, your penthouse, and everything. When you are related to God, when you have love for God, and when you do everything for God, then everything will be arranged for you. All the souls in your body will be connected to God, and the souls in other bodies also can be connected to you and through you connected to God. Together with all these people you will serve Lord Visnu. Then, being connected to the light of Godhead, you will all see the effulgence of your own souls. Then, you will no longer be in darkness. When there is a strong group, no bad person can enter. If you take some food without offering to God, you will be punished. The Lord has appeared as Salagram, Giriraja, Gopala, Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Nityananda Prabhu, and so many other forms. Offer everything you take to one of these forms of God. Do not take anything without offering it. And, do not eat anything impure; do not offer unfit foodstuffs to the Lord. By offering your food to God, you will be connected to God.

Kiba jane kiba sayane kiba jagarane.. bolo haba dane [verse]

Do not be distanced from God for even a moment. As soon as you are away from God, you will be in darkness. You will not be in the light. In this darkness, you will be vulnerable to gundas, dacoits, and thieves. They will all come and attack you. You will be helpless against them.

Jyotir maya divya mala is on Dipavali. This means that all souls get their true position and become connected to God. Then, each one of them is one flame with so much power. Whoever has this power present with him will illuminate many others as well. He can give light upon all others lost in darkness. With that light, he gives so much strength. Then, people can see their true nature. However, if you are not connected to the powerhouse of God’s light, you will be in darkness and you will cheat others. You will be blind, unable to see the soul or the supreme soul. For one or two days you can do some duty or work, but this will not be permanent. And, after you have performed your duty, you will become sick. But, when you are connected to the power of God’s light, you will never be sick, weak, hopeless, or prone to lose anything. Then, you will see Guru, Paramguru, Paratparguru, and all the family of Gurus. You will see the right course which is meant to be taken to achieve the highest destination. The Lord appears to give this light to the jivas who suffer in darkness.

We perform arati to God, in which we offer a lamp. Why do we offer the lamp to the Lord? With this lamp we offer our rati, or love. And in this way, we can achieve pure love for God. We offer our soul with this fire. Through the medium of the lamp, we are offering our love to God. This is a fire sacrifice, and at the time of a fire sacrifice one says ‘svaha’. This means, “I offer myself.” To whom do we offer ourselves? We offer ourselves to Rupa Gosvami, Sanatana Gosvami, Jiva Gosvami, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, all the mahajanas, the manjaris, the sakhas, and to all spiritual personalities. Then, when we perform arati, we offer ourselves, and pray, “Please, accept me. I am very fallen. But, you are mine, and I am yours.” The Lord promises then to accept whoever offers himself by arati.

Prahlada Maharaja and all the mahajanas began to follow Dipavali. They offered lamps to the Lord. In Vaikunthapuram—South India, you can see how people offer thousands of lamps in the evening in all the temples. They also light lamps in their homes and offer them to the Lord. They all have lamps, and they pour ghee in them, and offer them to God. This is to show that their love will not be divided from God. All their love will be offered to Lord Visnu. Who gives witness to this? The fire gives witness. He is saksi, or witness. This is like a binding contract in which we offer our love to God. Agni devata, or the fire-god, offers our love to Lord Visnu. In all the temples of South India, there are millions of lamps offered every evening. In Guruvayura and in all the temples of South India, they offer these lamps to Lord Visnu.

The Lord came in Satya Yuga, and since then, all the demigods and sages have offered their love to Him through a lamp. Then, in Treta Yuga Ramacandra came. Before Ramacandra came, Maharaja Dasaratha did great austerities to receive a son. But, he could not have a son. Then, he went to the asram of Kardama muni in South India, where Kardama muni was performing austerities next to a mango tree. It was a tree with four branches, one on each side. He did tapasya under one branch in the morning. In the afternoon, he did a yajna under the second branch branch. In the evening, he would sit under the third branch to speak hari-katha. And, under the fourth branch, he would offer bhoga at night, and then he would take some prasada and take rest. Each of these branches represents one Veda – the Sama, Yajur, Atharva, and Rg Veda. On one day, one flower would sprout on each branch of this mango tree, and on the next day, there would be a bud. The third day, there would be a fruit, and on the fourth day the fruit would be ripe after a yajna. So, each branch would give a mango every four days.

Dasaratha Maharaja went to that place. Kardama rsi told Maharaja Dasaratha, “You are very qualified. There are four Vedas. You do not properly respect them. You have not read them and followed them in your life. You should study these Vedas. And, you should perform sacrifices. Offer yourself to God, be connected to God, and then God will come to you in four forms.”

From there, Dasaratha Maharaja collected the four Vedas and returned to Ayodhya, where he began to study them and performed yajnas. Before Ramacandra appeared, Yajnesvara Hari gave darsana, and at that time everyone offered Him dipavali, or lamps. Ramacandra took birth in March-April in four forms – as Rama, Laksmana, Bharata, and Shatrugna who are the expansions of Sama, Yajur, Atharva, and Rg Veda. When Ramacandra was given abhiseka as a King, everyone offered dipa, or lamps, as well to Him.

In Kali-yuga, Mahaprabhu began maha-sankirtana, and then everyone began to celebrate Dipavali. Everyone decorated their doors, and lit ghee lamps. They had large sticks like torches, and they put lamps there. There were thousands and millions of people with lamps, and they were all inspired to light them. Why? It is because Mahaprabhu began the sankirtana movement on this day. He ordered, “Today, we will go on sankirtana. We will go to the house of the Kazi.”

If there is weakness in the soul, the soul cannot cross this darkness of Maya. But, when they are connected to power, then light will come to them, and they will no longer suffer.

During the time of Krsna lila, in Dvarpara Yuga, Krsna saw all the Vrajavasis suffering. Today, they went to Govardhana and performed Dipavali. They offered lights or lamps to Giriraja Govardhana. Giriraja accepted this, and gave light to all of Vraja-mandala. Then, they all became filled with bliss. Whoever offers light is removed from darkness

If we give ourselves to a dog-eater, then we become like him. If we give ourselves to some bogus person and enjoyer, then he will use us for his own enjoyment.

Krsna told the Vrajavasis, “Your soul is very valuable. Offer this soul to Giriraja Govardhana.” There were millions of Vrajavasis, and they all prepared bhoga for Giriraja, and offered this bhoga along with the lamps. They brought these lamps, and in the evening, while dancing and singing songs, they offered arati to Giriraja Govardhana from all the four sides. Giriraja was made effulgent by all these lamps. They said, “From today, we are all yours, and you are ours. Now, we will no longer be in darkness.” At night, they prepared many kinds of bhoga for Giriraja. In the morning, they did abhiseka of Giriraja, and Giriraja accepted their offerings. Then, they were free from tension. Before, they were afraid of so many demons. But, after offering Dipavali to Giriraja, they were no more afraid. They were freed from all anxiety.

By offering ourselves to Guru-pada-padma, the Mahabhagavats, or the incarnations of God, we will be saved from darkness and illusion. But, it is not so easy to offer yourself. When you have truly offered yourself, you will be connected to this power and light, and you will have no anxiety or problems. All solutions will come to you.

Hence, Dipavali has been celebrated since Satya Yuga, Rama’s time, Krsna’s time, and Mahaprabhu’s time. The jivas can factually realize the glories of this Dipavali by offering themselves. But, they offer themselves to ordinary demigods, or to ordinary personalities. This only increases their suffering. Therefore, be connected to the powerhouse. Form England, one devotee brought a small generator. This can give us some light. If you get a bigger generator, you can get many lights going. But, the sun gives light to the whole world. How much power does he have? You can collect this power forever, and it will never be exhausted. Who is the controller of that powerhouse? How much power does this controller have? He must have millions of times more power than the sun. Why do you not connect yourself to that powerhouse? It is free. You do not have to pay anything. You just have to offer yourself. But unfortunately we do not want to offer ourselves to God. A fortunate person would offer himself to the Lord. He will say, “Prabhu, please accept me.”

In the Sri Mandira of Jagannatha Puri, the sevaks offer a thousand and eight lamps to Jagannatha every day during this entire month of Kartika. And, they do parikrama with these lamps. They do parikrama of the Jagannatha temple with huge flames of lamps four times. Then, they offer pranama in front of Jagannatha. On the top of the tower of Jagannatha’s temple, they offer huge lamps with a hundred kilos of ghee, and this flame continuously burns for the entire day and night.

We have so many anarthas, and we are suffering from our past activities, which are the fruits of our prarabdha and aprarabdha karma. Every one of us has a big body, and there are so many souls in each body. They are all fighting in the darkness, attacking each other. But, when they are in light, they will not fight, and they will all be blissful. Offer your own heart to God as a lamp. Then, you will be illuminated, and you will illuminate all the other souls in your body, and then others, as well.

Sages began this process in all the four ages. Visnu appears every year during Dipavali with Maha Laksmi. Maha Laksmi is worshiped by ordinary people on this day. How can she be pleased with people? People do not like Lord Narayana. They only like Laksmi. They invite Laksmi to come again and again, but they never want Lord Narayana. Laksmi is chaste. She would not come to anyone without Narayana. If someone likes Lord Narayana, then Laksmi will automatically come. But, people only want Maha Laksmi. How would she come? Would an ordinary lady leave her husband if a gentleman calls her? No. Maha Laksmi would never go. Today, Lord Narayana-Maha Visnu came along with Maha Laksmi on Garuda. Then, all the jivas offered themselves to Lord Narayana and Laksmi-devi.

When we are disconnected from Lord Narayana and Laksmi, we will suffer in darkness. Because no one teaches these truths, people doubt that the offering of lamps is beneficial. They do not see the point of offering a lamp and think it to be useless. They do not know the truth.

The Guru-varga teaches us this. In Govardhana, Gurudeva would offer lamps in the evening at Manasi Ganga accompanied by the whole parikrama party. There, they performed arati, and they invited devotees. Then, they told Giriraja, “Tomorrow, we will offer you abhiseka and bhoga. Please accept our offerings. You are the enjoyer and we are the enjoyed. Let us be your sevakas. Please, accept us as your servants. Then, you can enjoy us, and we will be your special bhoga.”

But, we think that we are not the bhoga of Giriraja. We offer our souls to so many ordinary relatives and friends. Then, they enjoy us and we suffer as a result. Then, we are contaminated and the Lord will not accept us. Because of this, we suffer. Our soul is like anna, or grain. This should be offered to
God. Why should we share our souls with other ordinary people? Do not give your soul to others. This would make you contaminated. Then, we will have many conditions. If we offer ourselves to the Lord as His bhoga, He will be pleased with us.

This Dipavali is celebrated in all the four yugas.

krsne sva-dhamopagate
dharma-jnanadibhih saha
kalau nashta-drisam esha
puranarko ‘dhunoditah

But, when Kali Yuga came, dharma, jnana, spiritual values, sadacara, and niyama were lost. Then, Krsna came.

We will now offer lamps during arati, and tomorrow we will hear the glories of Annakuta, and the proper rules and regulations of following Annukuta. If we hear this, we can follow properly in this life and in the next.

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