Hari-katha inspired by the Guru-varga
Vraja-vilasa-stava: this transcendental work was composed by Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami. Krsna, along with the cows, calves, and sakhas go everywhere in Vraja. Vrndavana is the garden of Vrnda-devi. Anyone who comes to Vrndavana becomes connected to Yogamaya-devi and she makes them related to Krsna and the Vraja-vasis and makes them very sweet; bitterness will cease to exist within them. By the mercy of Vrnda-devi they understand the reality. People are entangled by their own conceptions. Some people think, “This is right; this is wrong.” The father says, “This is right,” while the son says, “This is wrong.” The tutor says one thing is right but the student says it is wrong. People like to have their own conceptions. By manifesting His pastimes, Krsna calls everyone to Vrndavana. By going to the twelve forests and twelve sub-forests of Vrndavana, whatever doubts, desires, and questions you have in your mind will be clarified. You will be able to understand the reality.
Vrndavana-dhama is spiritual and anything attainable through sadhana in Vraja cannot be attained anywhere else. Sadhana performed elsewhere does not yield a fruit comparable to that available in Vraja. When you are near kerosene the smell will permeate you, and in a flower garden the smell of flowers will come on you. If you go to a cremation grounds then the smell of burnt bodies will come on you.
In Vrndavana the twelve rasas are present. There are twelve rasas. Seven are secondary: hasya, adbhuta, koruna, raudra, bhayanaka, vibhatsa, and vira, and five are primary: santa, dasya, sakhya, vatsalya, and madhurya. There are twelve corresponding forests in Vraja. The seven gauna-rasas and five mukhya-rasas are present in Vraja. By going there, these rasas will come to you without effort. Then mundane rasas will not be able to control you. Why? Because you have realized the transcendental realm. You will realize the rasas one after the other. You will never be sad in Vraja. There are many people in this world whose faces are dark, downcast, and unpleasant. Why? Because they are so absorbed in jada-rasa. This is visible on their face. The brahmacaris here are happy, careless, and fearless, therefore they smile and dance.
When one begins to taste bhakti rasa, the first result is that you will not be dirty, black, ugly, or chugly. You won’t compete or have a jealous mood. You will smile and have a clean heart. This is hasya-rasa. Adbhuta—Krsna takes the sadhana-siddha sakhas and calves for His cow grazing pastimes; the nitya-siddha sakhas and calves are there also. Some of the nitya-siddha cows are Yamuna, Pisangi, Dhavali, and Padmagandha; they have come with Krsna from eternal Vraja. The sadhakas who have taken birth in Vraja are the sadhana-siddha calves. When you go to the dvadasa-vana and dvadasa-upavana, you will be empowered. You don’t need to pray or ask for anything. Just by being present and hearing the glories of these places, you will be accepted by the transcendental realm. This is the cost to progress. Guru and Vaisnavas bring people to them in this month by hook or crook.
If Gurudeva saw devotees cooking with me in the kitchen during Kartika he would come and kick them out, saying, “Why have you come here? Only for cooking and eating? Go on parikrama!”
Frightened, they would say, “I am doing service.”
“This is not service. Go on parikrama.”
But they had no desire to go. This made Gurudeva angry. He would beat them with his danda or kick them. Not softly, but very hard. They would say, “Premananda Prabhu will be alone.”
“That is not your worry. Go! Why did you come here?”
When you get Vraja-bhakti, Vraja-prema, your life will be successful. Then you will not return to maya and you will have no problems in life. If you have no relationship with Vraja-bhumi, if you don’t go there and pray at these places, or if you don’t hear their glories from the Vaisnavas; then you will be out of Vraja, even if you are physically present there. You will be covered by a layer of maya; you will stay for some time and leave. Afterwards, you will be sad. You must go to Vrajabhumi to have factual darsana—gaura-amara jei saba sthane karalo brahmana range, sei saba sthana heribo ami pranayi-bhakata sange. The Vaisnavas are the loveful deities of God; they have love for Vraja-dhama. If you go to Vraja-dhama under the guidance of the devotees, and if you hear the glories of these places from them, some respect will awaken within your heart. If you take the dust from there and smear it on your body, the dhama’s glories will be offered to you by Vrnda-devi. If you go to an orchard with a big bag, you can collect the many nice fruits and flowers there. You can pick the apples, strawberries, lychees, mangoes, oranges, and if you see a ripe jackfruit, then you can also take that. However, how will you take these fruits if you don’t have a bag or if your bag is not big enough? Without a bag, you will take one on your head, or you will wrap one in a cloth and tie it to your body. You can hang fruits from the sides of the cloth you are wearing and try to carry everything with you.
But you don’t understand how much wealth is in Vraja-dhama. You don’t need to carry and take that wealth with you. It will always be with you. Vraja-bhakti and Vraja-rasa will always be present with you. You may not be able to believe this, but the power of this rasa is so great that it will make you forget maya and everything— you will forget where you were from, who you are, or where you are going. You will forget morning, evening, month, and year. If you ask the brahmacaris what day of the week it is, they will be unable to answer. If you ask them what they ate yesterday, they will have forgotten. They would also not be able to tell you which month it is now. They forget past, present, and future. They don’t remember when they came to the matha, when they became old, or when they gave up their body. They don’t know what they will eat tomorrow. They don’t know where they will sleep; they have no idea of any of this. When one is always engaged in Vraja-bhakti-rasa, one has no tension. They are always on vacation. They are completely free. Small babies have no tension because they are with their parents. Then the parents worry about them.
Vraja is Krsna’s abode. Vraja is constituted of Krsna’s forests and gardens. If someone comes here for darsana and prays, without even knowing anything, he will be benefited. You don’t have to carry the wealth you collect here; it is not like mundane wealth. People carry maya with them to the dhama. But Vraja will wash this away from you and throw it in the drain. Vrnda-devi will give you a new jersey, or a new coat. She will give you all good qualities and will make you decorated. This is called srngara-rasa. Without decoration there is no srngara. Srngara means to decorate. When people sing it will be sweet. When people dance it will be sweet. When they walk it will be sweet. When they talk it will be sweet. They will no longer be black and dirty. Having a fair face means you will no longer abuse people. You will respect and maintain friendship with everyone. You will possess a sweet and humble mood. Vrnda-devi will empower you with all specialties. As a result, you will always be elated. Rsis, maharsis, tapasvis, and others will come, even without invitation. They will not come for business purposes, but for sravana and kirtana. They will not come for other things. Now they don’t know the super-excellence of bhakti-yoga.
The Vrajavasis shower one with nectar. When people come to Vraja, they will get this benefit. Radharani opens Her store and tells Vrnda-devi to distribute this nectar of Vraja-rasa to anyone who comes to her in this month; the people who come to Vraja-mandala during this month will be freed of all misgivings because Vrnda-devi purifies them. This is not a temporary form of relief or relaxation; this relief is eternal.
samasrita ye pada-pallava-plavam
mahat-padam punya-yaso murareh
bhavambudhir vatsa-padam param padam
padam padam yad vipadam na tesam
When a calf treads a muddy path during the rainy season, its hooves make imprints on the ground. In those imprints, rain water gets stocked. A person can walk across these hoof-prints without even slightly noticing them. When you take shelter of the Lord; when you surrender and take shelter of Murari’s lotus feet, and come to the holy dhama, then as a result, the whole world becomes as insignificant as the water contained in the hoof-prints of the calf. Then you will have no tension.
People around the world—husbands, wives, children, and indeed, everyone bicker with each other. Everyone is always suffering. They have no real love or relationship. Why? Their heart is divided. But why? It is so because they have never drank the nectar of God’s love and mercy.
You have come to Vraja-dhama. You are not with two, three, or four people. You are with so many hundreds of people, and you have a good relationship with all of them. During this month of Kartika or Damodara, our Guru-varga teaches us to always be present in Vraja-dhama and to surrender ourselves to the lotus feet of Vrajesvari Srimati Radharani. Krsna engages in many pastimes with the sakhas, cows, peacocks, deer, monkeys, and all the Vrajavasis. Krsna and His associates go from one forest to another, swimming in the lakes and streams, while joyfully distributing this rasa. We have come to Vraja-mandala, but why? What rasa is in these forests? Do we know? Even ignorant people can still receive this realization, or this nectar. This is the great power of Vraja-mandala. This is a very great opportunity. The primary and secondary rasas are present in their pristine forms in Vraja-mandala. Previously, you might have had no friends, but by coming to Vraja-mandala, the Vraja-vasis will become your friends. Bad, cruel, or treacherous people will not come to you; only good-hearted people will meet and talk with you. This is the arrangement of Krsna.
Many people come to Vraja, renouncing everything. Then, they have a building or temple, and everything is arranged for them by Krsna. Who gives this to sadhus? Krsna gives this; Vrnda-devi gives this; Yogamaya gives this; Baladeva Prabhu gives this. They give you food, residence, and everything. Yoga ksema vahamy aham—Krsna has promised to do this. Vrndavana is the place where this promise of Krsna’s has manifested. There is no kind of tension in Vraja-mandala for sadhus, but if you are like Canura, Mustila, Sala, Tosala, and other followers of Kamsa; if Kamsa is your guard and master, you will be far away from Vraja-dhama. Your aim and object must be Krsna-prema. Then, Krsna will offer you to Srimati Radharani and the Vraja-devis. The dvadasa-vanas and dvadasa-upavanas will be your eternal residence.
Mahaprabhu sent our Gosvamis, and they went throughout the forest and gardens of Vraja. Everyone respected them as Bada Baba and Chota Baba and gave them everything.
In my own life, I realized this. When I came to Mathura in the beginning, I had one cloth. Gurudeva also had a few pieces of cloth. But the Vraja-vasis gave so much cloth. We gave this in charity to so many others. Now I am given so much cloth, I can’t carry it, and if I distribute, it is never finished.
When you are in Vraja, wait for spiritual wealth; don’t desire anything material. When you go to the holy places, only pray for Vraja-bhakti. If you go to a beauty parlor, curl your hair, and polish your face, leaving the rest of your body naked, will someone look at you and be attracted? You should be decorated from head to toe. Srngara means to be decorated from head to toe. Don’t think that by entering madhura-rasa, the secondary seven rasas will not be needed. Don’t think like this. If your feet are strong, you can walk, and then the head is respected. But if you have no feet, stomach, chest, or arms, and you are only a head then what would become of you?
*No matter how powerful you are, by having your head cut off and put on a spike, you will be powerless. Everything is needed. First, we go to Vraja-dham and we pray. We weep, “Oh, I don’t need anything else. Just let me be always engaged in hari-kirtana.”
Call out, “Haribol! Haribol!” this is enough. Every door you go to, chant, “Hare Krsna! Radhe Syama!” Then people will say, “Baba, Radhe Syama!” and they will give you butter, chapattis, buttermilk, and everything. In Vraja-dhama, simply chant Radharani’s holy names. By chanting, “Hare Krsna,” and “Radhe Radhe,” Vrnda-devi will open her gate to Vraja and let you in. But if you don’t chant, “Radhe Radhe,” and instead, you chant the names of your mundane lovers and relatives, then Vraja-dhama’s gates will not open to you. Radharani won’t come and Vrnda-devi won’t open the gates.
Radhe Radhe—chant this and Vrnda-devi will give you entrance in Vraja. You may also chant, “Krsna Krsna” and some benefit is there. Before Gurudeva went on Kartika Parikrama, he would instruct people on how to perform parikrama for two or three days before the start of parikrama. “Don’t speak uselessly,” he would say. “Only do kirtana and don’t look at anything mundane.” In those days, there were only a few brahmacaris and sannyasis on parikrama. This was the late 70’s. Some Vraja-vasis in the afternoon opened their gates and said, “Baba sit inside.” We sat and they gave us nice prasadam and arranged everything.
Gurudeva asked the Vrajavasis, “Do you know why we have come? Did you know we were coming?”
“No, some brahmanas or party of parikrama comes every day, so we are ready to serve guests. You have come by the desire of Radha and Krsna. You were doing kirtana.”
In the room, there was an almirah and a sofa set. On the way back to Mathura, I asked Gurudeva, “That room was very nice. I want to arrange an almirah and a bed in your room.”
Gurudeva replied, “Did you go for Vraja-mandala darsana or for maya-darsana? You should never come with me again for darsana of Vraja-mandala. You want an almari here, and a sofa set there. If this is what you go to see, I won’t take you with me anymore. Do you want maya-darsana or Vraja-darsana?”
The Guru-varga is always serious. They instruct us to continuously perform kirtana. Hence, wherever we go we must perform hari-kirtana and harinama. Then, Vrnda-devi will allow you entrance into Vraja and you can taste this rasamaya bhakti and have increasing desire for it. Otherwise, when your heart is dry, how long can you work? If you always work with a dry heart, then one day your heart will be completely smashed and useless. Therefore, be serious; very serious. Bhajana is essential. Our life is to perfect ourselves in bhakti. Don’t waste time, having come here. Don’t make any offense. Don’t go here and there, passing, taunting others, insulting people, and so on. Go everywhere for bhakti and bhajana, then your life will progress.
Dasa Gosvami teaches us in his Stavavali (Vraja-vilasa-stava) on how to follow the footsteps of the Guru-varga; the Guru-varga follows all these prayers.
Uttama-anga—the highest limb is the head. Nandisvara carries Krsna’s family and abode on his head. Nandagrama is where Nandisvara and Siva Thakura are present.
First, Siva purified his head. When Ganga-devi descended on his head, he cooled himself. He then arranged for his appearance in Nandagrama and arranged for Krsna to live on his head with His abode and relatives.
The Guruvarga offer pranama to hills like Nandisvara and Brahma-parvata, which are non-other than Siva Thakura and Brahmaji. They take darsana and offer pranama to these glorious hills. Rupa Gosvami stayed in Pavana Sarovara, Uddhava-kyari, Ter Kadamba, and in different places of Nandagrama. Nandagrama is on top of a hill. It is the head of Siva Thakura. In Nandagrama, Siva Thakura engages his uttama-anga, his head, to carry Krsna and His pastimes. There, Yasoda Mata, Nanda Baba, and the Vraja-vasis worshiped Krsna with their love. Krsna is very happy there. The cows, calves, and many others are freely serving Krsna. There is free service there. Deer and other animals offer gifts to Krsna. The cows give gorocana, the deer give kasturi, the banana trees give karpura, camphor, and other trees give kumkum. Everyone in Vraja is engaged in Krsna’s service. How glorious Nandagrama, the head of Siva Thakura is. That place is always present. Lucky people go to Nandagrama and offer pranama to Siva Thakura.
They pray, “When will my intelligence be purified? When will I be able to carry Nandanandana Krsna within my brain and intelligence? When will He be there with Nanda, Upananda, Parjanya, Variyasi, and all His associates? When will I always serve following in their footsteps?”
Our heads are to be considered as only dead weight if we don’t bow down to the lotus feet of the Lord. What results if we don’t offer pranama with our head? Yamaraja orders Maha Kali to take her sword and cut the head of the person. She will say, “Dear son, I will keep this head with me because you don’t use it to offer pranama to Krsna and the Vrajavasis. I will hang your head in my garland of heads around my neck. I am preparing for your head to be strung on this garland, if you don’t change your ways.”
God gave the uttama-anga, the highest limb to people. But they never offer their heads in pranama. Then this head is not to be considered as belonging to a male or female; rather, it is to be considered as the head of an animal. Kali comes and cuts the head herself or her soldiers do so.
Krsna is served by the elder gopis by vatsalya-sneha, and Laksmi is wandering throughout Nanda-bhavana to clean and maintain the area, making sure the cows are healthy and everything in Vraja is very nice. She is not alone, however.
Sambhrama-sevyamanam—hundreds and thousands of Laksmis are seriously, continuously, and carefully engaged in their service to Vraja-dhama. They sweep, but they don’t let the dust rise. They also don’t splash much water on the ground, making the area slippery or muddy. They do everything perfectly; making sure everything is clean, natural, wealthy, and healthy. They are prepared for Krsna’s seva in every way. No one in Vraja can be sick or disturbed. Laksmi arranges everything. Anima, lagima, and all eight yogic perfections are present there. Krsna arranges for His parents to always be happy. Krsna gives vatsalya-rasa to them and then allows them to serve Him with love.
A manager engages different workers in their services. Then he cooks and feeds them nicely, giving them cloth, money, and a good room. They become happy and do their work very nicely. How can one serve Krsna with vatsalya-rasa? Krsna arranges everything favorable for vatsalya-rasa and dasya rasa. He does the same for sakhya-rasa also. The sakhas don’t say, “Why didn’t You give good water? Why isn’t everything arranged?” Firstly, Krsna gives them everything, and then inspires them on how to use these love filled offerings. He gives them energy, taste, and love. Everyone will automatically follow you if you can do this. If people don’t have anything then how can they serve? So when you give facility for people to serve, they will come and serve. Krsna now gives everything for people to serve with. Then everyone serves very seriously.
Jiva Gosvami Prabhu writes that in the rainy season, grass automatically grows. Other plants also grow, without the necessity of farming, plowing, and watering them. Vegetation will even grow on rooftops. Something will grow on trees, something will grow on the ground; by rainfall, the entire area is covered by vegetation. Similarly, this Vraja-rasa is showered all over Vraja and everything in Vraja is very beautiful and flourishing.
During the time of a drought, you can plant many seeds in the dirt and nourish them with water and fertilizers, but nothing will grow. If something does grow, it will have no strength. However, when rain comes, there is power. Similarly, in Vraja-mandala, Krsna showers and nourishes everyone with Vraja-rasa. Everyone and everything is nourished and made ready to serve Krsna. Jiva Gosvami Prabhu therefore says that all jivas have rati, but they misuse it and become dry. But when they enter the bhava-rajya, the realm of bliss, they will taste the full fruition of their love. Hence, they must visit all the places of Vraja under the guidance of the Guruvarga and offer their respects there. And by the combined mercy of Siva Thakura and the Guruvarga, they will also enter Nandagrama and meet with the Vraja-vasis.
Sukadeva Gosvami has stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam that everything is present in Vraja. Hari is there, and with His love, He makes this place of Vraja. Then Uma, Rama, Satya, Saci, Candra, and Rukmini bring all the paraphernalia of Vaikuntha and try to engage it in service but Maha-laksmi’s arcana is not accepted by the Vraja-sundaris. There are millions and millions of Vraja-devis. They engage themselves in performing all the services of Vraja.
At Nandisvara-parvata there are many trees like tamala, kadamba, nava-mallika, and lavanga. There are also many waterfalls and lakes. Everything is present there, and all is siddha, perfected. They have so much power. If you simply touch and pray to them, you will realize what Vraja-rasa is.
I would be with Gurudeva when he went on parikrama; he would touch the trees and sprinkle the water of the ponds on his head. He would offer pranama to all the stationary and moving beings of Vraja.
“Why don’t you just offer pranama to the Deities in the temple?” I asked him. “Why are you offering pranama to the trees? What does this mean? Is the tree perfected? Is it not dry?”
Gurudeva replied, “You are pagala, crazy. You don’t know anything. These trees are siddha, perfected. They have so much power. They know how to worship Krsna. They have done sadhana and bhajana, and therefore stay in one place in Vraja, not wanting to leave. They therefore don’t have two legs to walk or run away. By the mercy of Bhakti-devi, they are servants in Vraja, always engaged in service. Their wood, leaves, shade, and fragrance—they serve Vraja-dhama with all their paraphernalia and qualities.
Nanda Baba has many cows such as Tusti, Pusti, Hamba, and Ramba. These personalities of Vraja are gurus and acaryas. In Vraja, you don’t have to look far for Guru and Vaisnavas. Everyone there is guru and acarya. Go to everyone in Vraja. They won’t take daksina. The trees will serve you without asking for any payment in return. They will make you strong and pure and able to do bhajana. Others say, “First give me daksina, then I will give you a room and some prasadam. Then I will give you some affection.” But in Vraja, the trees do not speak like this. They will give you Vraja-rasa and make you strong. They will give you power. Therefore, Vraja-dhama is above the three worlds. It is transcendental and unequalled.