[Excerpt from Srila Gurudeva: Around the World, U.K. 1996 (Bath, 23 May), the second book in a series of volumes on Srila Gurudeva’s world preaching tours.]
Srila Gurudeva: We have come to the house of Sudevi and her husband. There is not sufficient place here for all the devotees to stay for a day or two, so we have to leave this place very soon. But I am so glad that I have come to Sudevi’s house. I am especially glad to see the devotees who have come from our previous preaching programs. I am very happy to see that those devotees are here. Wherever I go, I see a lot of sweet faces, hence, I think that I am in Vrndavan. (Just then a bird sings and everybody laughs)
Devotee: The parrot is from Vrindavana Gurudeva.
Sripada Madhava Maharaja: He is telling, “Gurudeva! Gurudeva!”
Devotee: He is also telling, “Krishna! Krishna!”
Srila Gurudeva: Is that an actual bird?
Devotees: Yes Gurudeva.
Srila Gurudeva: I want to see the bird. Is the bird from Vrndavan or from here? He is so happy that all the Vaisnavas are here and are chanting, “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.”
I was thinking in India that when I will have to go to Holland, England, and various places, I will be out of Vrndavan and Mathura, but now, I feel that I am not out of Mathura or Vraja-mandala. There are so many devotees everywhere, so much sweet hari katha is being spoken, and sweet behaviour is being exhibited among all the devotees. There is harmony between each other, and when I think of this I become so happy. I follow the ideas and conceptions of Swamiji; he would often say, “When I was in the foreign or western countries, I never thought for a moment that I am out of Vrndavan or out of India.” I am now seeing and experiencing the same phenomenon; everywhere I go, I see that there are many sweet devotees, who patiently listen to harikatha. They are trying to develop on their devotional activities. But here, there is a lack of sadhu-sanga and that is why I have come here to the Western countries. Swamiji has planted the seeds of devotion in many hearts, but some of them are still seeds, while some of them have sprouted a little. Some seeds have sprouted and have blossomed into little plants with leaves; but now, they all want water, they all want water. If water is not given, the seeds will die and the seeds that have sprouted and grown into a creeper having leaves will also die.
So, Swamiji ordered me, “I am giving some water to you, go there and water the seeds, creepers, and plants who are in dire need of being nourished. Otherwise, they will dry, wither, and ultimately die.”
So, I came with the water of harikatha. What I speak is based on what I have heard from my bonafide Guruvarga, Gurudeva, and many Siksha Gurus. Some of my Siksha Gurus are—Pujyapada Sridhar Maharaj, Pujyapada Vaman Maharaj, Pujyapada Trivikrama Maharaj, Pujyapada Srauti Maharaj, Pujyapada Bon Maharaja, and all the disciples of Srila Bhaktisidhanta Saraswati Thakur, who are very senior devotees . I have studied the Srimad Bhagavatham, and Sri Caitanya Caritamrta under their guidance many a times. Under their tutelage, I collected some of this transcendental water and I have also collected many gems of devotion from Swamiji, Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja. With a basket of invaluable jewels I have come here and I see that all the devotees are so energetic now; all are so happy and the dark color of gloom has been lifted and the color of hope and enthusiasm has set in. The seed of devotion seemed to be drying, but now, as would a normal seed, their seed is turning green, which signifies advancement of their Krishna consciousness . Fresh buds of various colors have spring forth from the seeds that have now grown into little creepers of devotion. These buds are preparing to blossom, and they will yield proper, sweet fruits. Srila Rupa Gosvami says that the sadhaka should carefully water his creeper of devotion that has its roots in this world with the water of harikatha and seva, devotional services. Upon tending meticulously to this creeper of devotional service, the practitioner will see that his creeper of devotion has crossed this universe consisting of the planets—Bhu, Bhuvar, Svar, Mahar, Janas, Tapas, Satya, Tala, Atala, Vitala, Nitala, Talatala, Mahatala, Sutala, and the 14 planets altogether. This creeper will have even crossed the Viraja, the border between the spiritual and material realms. If this creeper of bhakti is given the water of harikatha, by its proper mali, gardener, then it spirals upwards and crosses Brahma-loka, Siva-loka, the abode of Sada-Siva and enters into Vaikunta.
Continuing on its journey, the creeper of devotion crosses the realm of Vaikunta. Going past the holy abodes of Ayodhya, Goloka, and even past the border of Dwaraka, this bhakti-lata, creeper of bhakti enters Mathura at Visrama ghat. Here, it is nourished by fresh, new water. It is tended to by the naga-patnis, the yajna-patnis, and Uddhava. Going forward in its journey, the creeper first enters Vraja-Gokul and from Gokul, the creeper goes to Vrindavana. Flourishing in its growth, the creeper has many branches appear on it and these branches spread out to Nandagaon, Varsana, and all over Vraja-mandala. At last, it comes to Govardhana, and in Govardhana, who is the main centre of Vraja-mandala, this creeper of devotion finds its final shelter at the eyes of Govardhana, that is Syama Kunda and Radha Kunda. It takes shelter of the lotus feet of Syama Kunda, thus taking shelter at the lotus feet of Krsna Himself. And then, it takes the shelter of Radha Kunda, thus attaining shelter at Srimati Radhika’s lotus feet . What becomes of the creeper when it finally finds shelter at the lotus feet of Sri Radha and Krishna? Very sweet, juicy fruits manifest from its branches, and these fruits are automatically let loose from their branches and on falling down, they come to Earth and settle near the mali, gardener, who has been diligently watering the creeper from the time it’s seed has been sown. We are the gardeners, Gurudeva gives the water of harikatha to us and when we take care of that creeper with great attention, the sweetest ripened fruits, which are skinless and pervaded with rasa, will make their way through and place themselves before us. How do these fruits come? A parrot pecks at the fruits and these transcendental fruits are gradually handed down by the disciplic order. The mali, the gardener takes them and on tasting them, he exclaims, “Oh so sweet!” And then he slowly ascends on the creeper. This creeper crosses all the realms of the mundane creation and does not rest even on reaching the spiritual realm. Crossing past the many spiritual realms, the creeper goes to Gokul, Vrindavana, Nandagaon, Varsana, and to Govardhan, where it finds its final shelter at Syama Kunda and Radha Kunda. There, the devotee sees that lakhs and lakhs of fruits, indeed, uncountable fruits are there. Taking all those fruits that have descended to the earth, the devotees taste them. This is the description of the creeper of devotion given by Rupa Goswami, as stated in Caitanya Caritamrta.
But, the unlucky person will not obtain and taste that fruit, even though lakhs and lakhs of fruits are coming from there. Such an unlucky person has no faith in bhakti, he only outwardly chants the holy name while internally, he desires that his material desires be fulfilled. He will not obtain the fruits of devotion by cheating others while being in the garb of a so-called guru or a so-called devotee. They will only have the fruits of this material world, what are those fruits? Wine, wealth, and women are the fruits of this material world that they crave for. These fruits will destroy their lives. Have a very strong faith and be grounded in the conviction that, “Krsna is always protecting us.” The six basic principles of Saranagati are the platform of bhakti. No one can save us, only Krsna can save us, none other, so why should you fear? Don’t think, “What will happen after Maharaja will go? What will happen if all are against me? If my husband, or my wife, my father, and whole world is against me, then what am I to do? Then I will have to suffer.” This is not true, we should have the firm faith that, “ Krsna will surely save us, He has the power to save us.”
He saved Arjuna from all the Kauravas whose numbers were in the millions. He saved Draupadi from the midst of many demons. He saved all who surrendered to His lotus feet, who accepted saranagati. He saved Dhruva maharaja, He saved Prahlada Maharaja. Do you know who Prahlada is? How was he saved? Prahlada did not at any time pray to Krsna that He should save him, but every time there was an attempt to have him killed, he was magically saved. There was one sister of Hiranyakasipu, whose name was Holika. She had a benediction from lord Brahma that if she was inside a fire, she would not be burnt. So, Hiranyakasipu ordered his sister, “Take my five year old son on your lap and enter into a raging conflagration!” So, she took Prahlada and entered into a powerful inferno. But, she was burnt to ashes whereas Prahlada emerged unscathed. In repeated attempts to kill Prahlada, Prahlada was thrown into the sea, he was thrown from mountains, he was surrounded by venomous serpents. Lions were set to attack and eat Prahlada Maharaja, but he was saved every time. Despite trying to have his son killed numerous times, Hiranyakasipu was himself killed by the hands of the Lord.
So, if you want to do bhajan of Krsna, then you should have solid, unflinching faith in Krsna that He will save you, and that there is nothing for you to fear. If this faith does not come in the heart of a devotee, then he cannot serve Krsna. Guru teaches all his disciples to be completely surrendered to Krishna. If a devotee like Srivas Pandit; do you know him? Srivas had nothing, he was penniless. There weren’t even any rats in his house, do you know why? Because there were no grains, there was not even the slightest particle of food for the rats to eat and that was normal for his house. If it rained, the rainwater would not flow off the roof, rather, all the rain came inside, why? Because, his house had no roof.
So one day, Caitanya Mahaprabhu told him, “Srivasa, I know that you are a very poor man. I also know that your four brothers and yourself are always engaged in kirtana, the whole day and night. Accompanied by the chiming of big karatalas, all of you sing, ‘Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.’ You don’t try to earn money and manage wealth, so how will you maintain your life? You should do something to maintain your life.”
On listening to Mahaprabhu speak, Srivas Pandit clapped his hands thrice while counting, “One, two, three.”
Caitanya Mahaprabhu asked, “I don’t understand what you mean to say by clapping your hands thrice.”
Srivas Pandit replied, “If we don’t have Mahaprasada for one day, I will bear it. I will wait the second day; I will fast, we will all fast. We will wait the third day also, and if there is no Mahaprasada for us to honor on the third and fourth day and we are made to fast, then the river Ganges is here, and we will all jump in. Why? Because, You may be criticized. The residents of this world may say, ‘Krishna and Caitanya Mahaprabhu cannot give anything.’” Srivasa Pandit and his entire family were pure devotees, hence, if they were deprived of Mahaprasada, the sloka of the Gita wherein Krishna promises to look after His devotees will be proven false. The sloka is:
Ananyas cintayanto mam ye jana paryapasute…
In this sloka, Krishna promises to collect everything that the devotee needs to maintain his life. Krishna will even take what the devotee needs on His head, He will take all responsibility. Krishna always protects His devotees from all troubles and calamities.
He will give and protect, He promises to.
There was a devotee called Arjuna Misra. He would regularly read and explain the Bhagavad Gita. On one such perusal of the Bhagavad Gita, he came across the line, “Yoga-ksemam vahamy aham.” Thinking that Krishna Himself will not carry what His devotee needs, he cut the line.
He thought, “Krishna will Himself not carry what the devotee lacks. He can order someone else to carry what the devotee lacks. Personalities like Hanuman and Garuda can carry. Indeed, everyone is the servant of Krishna, hence, except for Him, all can carry. He will order them. So, why would He carry anything by Himself?” So, he cut that line. For several years, Arjuna Misra would diligently chant, remember, and meditate on Krishna. Yet, he was so poor that he had to beg daily. So, he cut that line and went to beg.
He thought, “I should try and something may come.” When he went out to beg on that day, he was unable to procure anything. He decided to return home when he saw that the sun was about to set. In the meantime, a twelve year old boy, who had the complexion of new rain clouds, and who had a Pitambara (yellow shawl) on His shoulders reached the doorstep of Arjuna Misra’s home. Carrying two big baskets on his shoulders, he knocked on the door of Arjuna Misra.
The wife of Arjuna Misra was there, but he had not yet returned. He was on the way to his house, but had not yet reached . The boy knocked on the door and the wife called out, “Who are You?”
In a very sweet voice, the boy replied, “I am a disciple of our Gurudeva.”
So, she opened the door and led Him in. She saw how He was profusely sweating and looked extremely tired. Making the boy sit down, she asked, “From where have You come?”
The boy replied, “I am coming from my Gurudeva. My Gurudeva ordered and told Me, ‘Take these things and go to my house at once! Give all these things to my wife.’ But, I feared that I could not bear the load and while I decided on how to carry it, it became a little late. Gurudeva had ordered me to go earlier, but I was late by a minute or two. I was ready to go, but to punish Me, he scratched My back with his nails. See these scratches for yourself.”
She saw those scratches. Blood was on the verge of coming out, the marks on the little boy’s back were reddish. Seeing the punishment meted out to this young boy by her husband, she became furious and began to think, “How beautiful, soft, and sweet this boy is! How has my husband become so cruel hearted that he has done something like this? Let him come home, I will give him a good lesson.”
In the meantime, she told that boy, “You should sit here, I am going to cook just now, I will offer the bhoga (unoffered foodstuffs) to Narayana, and I will feed You and You should then go.”
The boy replied, “Okay mother, you should cook, I am just sitting here.”
Meanwhile, the husband returned and knocked on the door. Being so furious, she confronted him and said, “Oh Brahmin, why did you give such a heavy load to that boy? Don’t you have any pity? You are so cruel-hearted!”
Arjuna Misra replied, “Which boy? Where?”
“Your disciple, he has come to me.”
“I have no disciple at all, I have not sent anything by anyone. I have just come home!”
“Why did you scratch Him?”
“I want to see who this boy is.”
The wife told her husband, “Come on. I will show you who the boy is.” They entered the room, but there was no boy here or there. They searched everywhere, but could not find Him. Then bitterly weeping, Arjun Misra told her, “Bring my book, the Gita.” And when it was brought in front of him, he saw that the line he had cut through with a pen, has perfectly legible again. Then he began to roll on the earth crying, “Oh Krsna, Oh Krsna, I have committed many offenses at Your lotus feet by cutting this line. I had no faith in that line. And for this reason, You have come and brought all these things. This is an example to the whole world; that Krsna Himself takes all the burdens of His followers.”
Then he took the dust of his wife’s feet and said, “Oh you are so lucky! Krsna Himself came to you and you saw Him. You gave water to Him and He took it, but I am so foolish and fallen that I could not see Him.” Then they both began to cry and weep. So, why should we fear and think, “What will happen tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow? All are against me, they will kill me!” But anyone cannot be killed if Krishna desires so. If Krsna wants to protect and save someone, then no one can do them harm. But, if Krsna does not like to save and protect someone, then by their own efforts these people can never save themselves. Even powerful men like Hiranyakasipu, Ravana, and Kamsa could not save themselves by their own efforts. So you should have a very firm belief in Krishna. You should be carefree and fearless. Thus, we should always proceed and develop our Krsna consciousness.
[To read or download the full upcoming book as a pdf, visit www.patreon.com/bhaktabandhav]