STORY ON GOPA KUMAR IN THE BRHAD BHAGAVATAMRTA
By good fortune and saintly association, one gradually develops the tendency to serve Bhagavan, but to achieve a spiritual body is still difficult. Srila Sanatan Goswami showed us in his ‘Brhad Bhagavatamrta’, how Gopa Kumar wandered throughout many positions in the universe. He even went to Dwaraka, Ayodhya, Narayana loka (abode), and still, no matter where he went, he did not experience complete satisfaction. Everyone tried to make him happy and get him to stay in their abodes.
In Ayodhya the monkeys wanted him to become a monkey like them, but they could not make him into a monkey. When he went to Dwaraka they brought turbans, crowns and expensive ornaments and decorated him. They wanted to send him to Dwarakadish. He was not happy though. He went to Vaikuntha and they wanted him to be four-handed like Narayana, but no-one could manifest his real swarupa or form of his soul.
How could Gopa Kumar go to these places in his jada-sarira, (material body)? This question could be raised. The jiva (soul), can enter as a sadhana-siddha into the spiritual abode. Like when Gopa Kumar went to Vaikuntha, that was a spiritual body, but that was not the ultimate destination for his soul in its true original constitutional form.
When Krsna was coming back from grazing the cows, he saw Gopa Kumar had finally come to his true original constitutional form, and Krsna embraced him and they both began to weep. Krsna said, “I sent so many people to bring you back, thinking how will you come to Me, still you did not come to Me for so many lives.”
KNOW YOUR REAL HOME, FAMILY, AND FRIENDS
The various incarnations of Bhagavan come to this world, and Krsna Himself even comes. He also sends His associates but still, this does not affect the majority of the jivas, they do not change. They have no conception of their svarupa – original spiritual form, atma – soul, nor their spiritual family, or service. If there is no paricaya – acquaintance, with your own family members, then you won’t have any mamatha – possessiveness for them.
For example, if you are staying in a hotel and a thief comes and steals something from there, you will not feel any disturbance, but if it is your house and a thief comes and tries to steal, you will stop him. Unless you have this identity that, “this is my home,” then you will not have any mamatha – possessiveness. As soon as you hear a sound, you will come out and look for the thief to protect your house.
Sadly as conditioned souls we do not know where we belong. We do not know who our family is? What is our relationship? Who is our dear most friend? Who is mine? Who possess me? The soul moves through so many countries, worlds, and universes, sometimes in the water, and sometimes in the air or earth. Still, we do not find our true acquaintance or any real relationship.
Wherever we go people say, “You are mine and I am yours.” And they try to bind us to them but this is not permanent, it is only for a day or two, and then we must all be separated again. After some time, either they leave us or we leave them, they die or we die. None of our relatives can stay with us forever, then the soul again is alone. After moving through many universes and many worlds, they again make new relationships. They become the son or daughter of someone, the brother, sister, father, mother, husband or wife of another. In this way, throughout their whole life they are moving, and everyone is trying to steal them, but no one has the power to give the atma paricaya, – meaning the acquaintance of their spiritual form, in the spiritual world, with one’s true family, residence and so forth.
DON’T BECOME PROUD
When the jivas perform sadhana and finally achieve the siddha-vastu or mukta position (liberated state), there is still danger of them becoming proud and losing their position again.
Jaya and Vijay were the associates of Visnu in Vaikuntha, they were not ordinary souls. However, when they disturbed the four Kumaras, they were cursed to fall down and become demons. Krsna struggled so much to bring them back, He sent His associate Prahlada saying, “Oh you go and pull out there anarthas.” No one ever wants to give their anarthas or take someone’s anarthas. To be established in our atma-svarupa, we must first be pure and freed of anarthas, then we can be given something, otherwise we will never be able to understand its true value.
When we come to spiritual life and the guru-varga, God and Guru try to give us something, but we cannot accept it. Even though everything is present, we don’t take it. For example, Hiranyakasipu would not take the advice of Prahlada Maharaja no matter how good it was. Finally, Nrsinghadeva came, opened up his chest, and searching for the anarthas, ripped them out. *Prahlada Maharaja said:
*jaḍa-vidyā jato māyāra vaibhava
Whatever knowledge is present in this world, only makes the jiva into a donkey, a slave of maya. The so called vidya – knowledge of this world, is actually only avidya – ignorance. How much vidya do we study, and what is the use of any of it? Because we have not gone in the direction of para-vidya – spiritual knowledge, it will be impossible for us to become liberated.
THE POISON OF ‘JADA-RASA’
Krsna thought, “What can I do to help everyone? By their jada-rasa (mundane activities), the jivas have become filled with poison and are completely intoxicated.”
When the doctor gives medicine he says, “When you take this medicine there are side-effects.” What are the side-effects? The person will not be able to give up the medicine, he will become addicted. When you try to give it up, your mind will be disturbed, you will not be able to eat, you will be very restless. What is the final result? Gradually your body will be destroyed. Sadly, we take these things from maya, and what happens as a result? We come into this world and drink jada-rasa, and we become completely intoxicated and mad, feeling no need for aprakrta-rasa (spiritual activities). We do not want to take even a scent of it. If we were to sincerely pray, we would be benefited, but instead we only repeat like parrots, and then even that we do not want to do.
LOVE AND MERCY
Srila Das Goswami prayed to Sanatan Goswami. He respected him with this prayer.
apāyayan mām anabhīpsum andham
kṛpāmbudhir yaḥ para-duḥkha-duḥkhī
sanātanas taṁ prabhum āśrayāmi
– Vilāpa-kusumāñjali, Verse 6
I was unwilling to drink the nectar of bhakti-rasa flavored with renunciation, but out of his causeless mercy. Sanatana Gosvami made me drink, even though I was unwilling. Therefore, he is an ocean of mercy. He is compassionate to fallen souls like me. I offer my respectful obeisance’s unto his lotus feet.
Everyone is eager for love and affection. When there are children or close friends, if you give them too much affection, they might not understand or appreciate the value of it. Parents give so much affection to their children but usually they do not always understand it. Sometimes parents say to people who have no children, “When you have a child you will understand the love of a parent.” Srila Gurudeva would say, if someone has not had a disciple, they will not understand what is sneha – affection for the disciple. And when you yourselves have disciples, you will know how much pain I feel when you act improperly or fall down.
SANATAN GOSVAMI’S SUPREME MERCY
What does Krsna do for the jivas? We cannot understand this. Das Goswami prayed to Sanatan Goswami when he came to him. He said, “I had no desire to renounce, but again and again, even without my desire you gave me this bhakti-rasa laced with renunciation.”
Mahaprabhu, Nityananda Prabhu and Svarupa Damodara all gave him mercy, so why is Das Goswami praying like this to Sanatan Goswami? He said, “I had no desire to drink that aprakrta vraja-rasa, but again and again, somehow or other, you gave me this drink, and now tasting that nectar I understand its value.”
Das Goswami therefore prayed, “Sanātanas taṁ prabhum āśrayāmi, you have given me the eternal sanatan-vastu, relationship with Bhagavan in my spiritual form.”
Just as it is said, if we are not a parent, we do not know the position, nature, or mood of a parent, nor will we know the proper etiquette. Krsna tries so much to bring us closer. He gives us maha-prasadam, Hari, Guru and Vaisnavas. He makes everything favorable for us to develop some good impressions.
What is the reason for this? He gives us this very mercifully, but we do not know its worth and have no taste for it, or even feel we need it. We think, “I am maintaining my body that is enough for me, and I am living comfortably.” But what is the benefit of any of that? Where will the body go when you die? It will just be burned or buried!
TAKE A NEEDLE AND THREAD TO HEAVEN
Once a sadhu came to a King and said, “Oh King, I need to speak with you. The King replied, “I don’t have time.” So, then he went to the queen and said, “Oh Maharani, I needed to tell something to the King but he wouldn’t listen to me, can I tell you?” She replied, “What?” The sadhu said, “Your husband, the King, has only until the day after tomorrow morning to live, and then he will die. I came to tell him this, but he would not listen. He would not give me even a moments time.”
The Queen became very afraid and she went to the King and said, “Look, the sadhu told me you will die the day after tomorrow.” By this time the sadhu had left. They searched for him and finally found him. The King felt so much fear and lamentation and then he prayed to Bhagavan for mercy and for the association of that sadhu.
Somehow, they found the sadhu and the King asked him, “What shall I do? The sadhu said, “I can see your future. You will die the day after tomorrow. You will go to heaven. You have done good work in this life, so you will go to heaven. However, you have done a little bit of sinful activity, so where you are going in heaven is not the best place. There are big mosquitoes there and they will bite you while you try to sleep. You will not be able to sleep at night. Why will you get this? Because you took the blood of your citizens in the form of taxes and you did not properly maintain them, therefore they will all come as mosquitoes and drink your blood.”
The King said, “What should I do?” The sadhu replied, “Don’t worry they have arranged a mosquito net there for you in heaven. However, there is a small hole in the net and many mosquitoes will go inside that and bite you. You will not be able to sleep and always be restless at night. Take a needle and thread with you when you die, and then when you go to heaven, stitch up the hole, because they don’t have any needles in heaven. This is the first mosquito net they have had to arrange there, so make sure you take a needle and thread with you.”
The King thought, “Oh everything will be very nice in heaven. I will be very happy there.” But hearing this he began to think, then he caught the feet of the sadhu and said, “How is that possible? How will I be able to take a needle and thread with me to heaven?” The sadhu replied, “Oh if you can’t even take a needle and thread to heaven, then why are you so attached to the things of this world? For whom are you doing all this work? Why are you maintaining this dead corpse body? Why haven’t you thought about your soul and your true spiritual purpose? You only have two days now, so prepare quickly, and think what to do.
All these people you have stayed with, will anyone be able to help you? You have come to sadhus, however they are not dependent on anyone. They are not the friend or enemy of anyone. They are completely independent, and they are the well-wishers of everyone.” The King then offered Tulasi and Ganga water to Bhagavan.
They can give us everything, but can we cannot give any time for God? We are ready to give all our time and energy to maintain our body and to live and enjoy with our friends and relatives, but we have no time for God. The sadhu then gave harikatha to the King and left.
What did the King do? He began to think deeply, “What should I do? Then he saw that a crippled sadhu had come. He said, “Oh King, I have come to your door and I want to beg something from you, will you give it to me?” The King thought, “Yes. Certainly, I will give it. Whatever you want I will give it to you.” The crippled sadhu said, “I want to hear the Srimad Bhagavatam. I don’t have a Srimad Bhagavatam. Please give me a copy of the Srimad Bhagavatam.” The King replied, “Certainly I will give it.” Then he received a Bhagavatam and began reading it.
The King told the Queen, “Cook something, and then with my own hand I will serve the sadhus and I will wash their feet.” The King did this, he washed their feet, he gave them prasad, he gave them nice cloth. Then the sadhus gave the King blessings and said, “Now your karma-phala – the reactions of your previous fruitive actions, will not come and afflict you. Whatever karma-phala you had, now you will be freed of that, and Bhagavan will liberate you. The Srimad Bhagavatam and Bhagavan are not separate, so you have done a very great work. Then what happened? The King didn’t go to svarga by his karma-phala, he took birth in Dwaraka as a lizard in a well.
One day in Dwaraka, a ball dropped in that well, and the children saw there was a big animal, a big lizard in there. When the King left his body, he didn’t go to svarga, his karma changed. Why? All our life we collect papa (sin). We collect things from others without giving anything back and then we become big, fat and full of sin. So, the King had thought of Krsna and he took birth in Dwaraka in his next body as a big, fat lizard in the bottom of a well. The children went to Krsna and said, “Oh we have never seen an animal like this. Sometimes it is black, sometimes it is red, like a chameleon. Every minute it is changing its color. The children who had found the lizard, dragged Krsna there. Krsna put his feet down into the well and touched the lizard. Krsna picked up the ball and also picked up the lizard. By touching Krsna, where did his lizard body go? He now achieved a spiritual form. He did parikrama – circumambulated Krsna, folded his hands and said, “Lord please save me, ‘Oh Pundarikaksa’!”
Until we have good association, sat-sanga, we have no knowledge, what to speak of realization, and our intelligence is never rectified.
Here Krsna says, “I came to this world and distributed all kinds of rasa but still the jivas could not be situated in their atma-svarupa, pure form.
The sruti-caris the smrti-caris, the deva-kanyas – (daughters of the devas), and all these other personalities, came to Vraja, and took birth in the wombs of Gopis.
THE FOUR TYPES OF GOPIS
There are four kinds of Gopis we have heard of, some Gopis are ‘nitya-siddha’, eternally liberated, and there are the sadhana-siddhas-gopis, who came after they perfected their sadhana. There are also two kinds of sadhana-siddhas-gopis, one is called *jyotiki? and the other is called *adhyotiki of which there are two types. Amongst those *sruti-caris there is the ‘muni’ group, and within that group there is the *muni-caris.
In this way there are many different types of sadhakas who have come to Vraja after achieving siddhi (spiritual perfection). If they do not receive the aprakrta-rasa (eternal activities), then they will not achieve their atma-svarupa, their spiritual form. The *svarupa-skatan?? or manifestation, is made by aprakrta-rasa (transcendental activity), therefore Krsna arranged the rasa-sthali (pastime place), in Vrindavan specifically for this purpose of manifesting the spiritual forms of the sadhana-siddhas-gopis by this aprakrta-rasa.
DISTRIBUTES THE TOP MOST LOVE
Krsna therefore invited them all there. He said, “Come I will give you this rasa. I never gave this before.” In the Caitanya Caritamrta it is written:
anarpita-carīṁ cirāt karuṇayāvatīrṇaḥ kalau
samarpayitum unnatojjvala-rasāṁ sva-bhakti-śriyam
sadā hṛdaya-kandare sphuratu vaḥ śacī-nandanaḥ (Caitanya Caritamrta Adi 1.4)
*Krsna gave this ‘rasa’ to the Gopis, but afterwards no one knew about it, therefore, Caitanya Mahaprabhu came and distributed it again. The Srimad Bhagavatam is the evidence of this, and it shows the highest prema, demonstrating that the highest *upasana, is that of the Vraja-gopis. Srimad Bhagavatam is the highest *pramana. The Srimad Bhagavatam came to give maha-prema, the topmost love. Krsna manifested the rasa-sthali (pastime place), for this purpose, then He distributed aprakrta-rasa (transcendental mellow). However, no one could understand or enter it without qualification and mercy.
Mahaprabhu therefore said, “I will arrange a method for people to obtain this *unnatojjvala-rasāṁ sva-bhakti-śriyam. I will tell the method and show it through My associates. Yuga dharma nama sankirtana is not sufficient, I will give more than that. I will give prema – divine love, with yuga dharma sankirtana. That prema will be able to attract the jivas (living entities) to Vrindavan and to the rasa-stahli, and they will be attracted to rasa-mayi Krsna.”
LAULYAM – ONE POINTED SPIRITUAL GREED
That’s why there is his *parikaras like Swarupa Damodara who is Lalita, Gadadhara Pandit who is directly Srimati Radharani, Raya Ramananda who is Visakha. Mahaprabhu said, “I have brought all My associates from Vraja, and I will develop people’s mood of saranagati – surrender to them, and sambandha – relation with them. When they develop this sambandha-jnana then they will be attracted to Vrindavan and they will develop lobha, spiritual greed. At that time the jivas -living entities will develop more and more greed for this bhakti-rasa. Therefore, it is described:
krīyatāṁ yadi kuto ‘pi labhyate
tatra laulyam api mūlyam ekalaṁ
janma-koṭi-sukṛtair na labhyate (Padyāvalī 14)
Srila Rupa Goswami said, “Go to that sadhu who is kṛṣṇa-bhakti-rasa-bhāvitā matiḥ, where their intelligence or mind is fully immersed in Krsna-bhakti-rasa. But not only that, what should you do there? Can you give them charity and receive it? Can you buy it? Can you get it by their mercy? What is the price?
tatra laulyam api mūlyam ekalaṁ.
Laulyam – spiritual greed, is the only cost to receive this bhakti-rasa. Srila Gurudeva would say a beggar would sit by a sweet shop and look in the glass case where there were many nice sweets like rasagula, malpua and rabari, but the beggar had no money so he could not buy any sweets. However, he had so much greed he would lick the remnant leaf cups thrown on the ground by the shop customers. Seeing his greed someone mercifully bought him a rasagula and other sweets. Because of his greed he received those very things, even though he had no money to buy them.
If we develop this one-pointed spiritual greed for Vraja-bhakti-rasa, and become like the cataka bird thinking, “I will not accept anything else, I will only take this Vraja-bhakti-rasa,” then those associates of Mahaprabhu will give us that rasa, Just like Srila Raghunatha Das Goswami, in all humility prayed to Sanatana Goswami in Panihati. Das Goswami gave this rasa to lakhs and lakhs of people, and even now this festival is going on ‘Ciḍā-dadhi-mahotsava’.
Krsna manifested the rasa-sthali, and then He also arranged all His associates to distribute it. Do not think this is a simple thing of just dancing and singing, embracing and kissing. In this world there is the story of Lila and Manju and its counterpart Romeo and Juliet, but these are not the same as the aprakrta rasa. Jada-rasa and aprakrta-rasa cannot be compared, they are not equal. One thing (jada-rasa) is contemptible, very insignificant and takes the soul away from its true purpose, and the other is aprakrta, transcendental, it has no scent of material lust. Even Kamadeva himself becomes bewildered by it, he cannot enter Vraja and affect the associates there with even a tinge of lust.
DHARANA – COURSE AND CONCEPT
That transcendental place, or rasa-sthali, is the place where the source of all rasa is present. If we develop proper intelligence, spiritual greed, and a thirst for it, then very easily we will attain it. However, until we have one pointed greed, endeavor solely for that purpose, and develop eagerness for the association of the rasika Vaisnavas and Rasa-bihari–Sri Krsna, up to that time our ‘dharana’, course and concept will not change. We can easily think this to be insignificant and not understand its value.
We can easily become like these mad dogs in the world, barking and running after everyone and trying to bite them. We do not understand what is ‘aprakrta’, what is transcendental. We have no greed or intelligence in this. Krsna thought, “In this Vrindavan, I have never yet opened the center for giving charity of this aprakrta-rasa.” So Krsna brought the sadhana-siddhas. They did not have the potency themselves to go without Krsna’s mercy so He called them.
A question has been raised by Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur. During the time of Katyayani-vrata the sadhana-siddha-gopis did this vrata. Why did the nitya-siddha-gopis also come? The answer is that if the nitya-siddha-gopis hadn’t come, then who would have taught the sadhana-siddha-gopis? Who would help them to progress?
Guru does not make disciples, He makes gurus. Just like sometimes students, study and then become teachers and help new students develop. Guru gives all qualifications and then he helps them progress and become advanced. In this way Bhagavan is great and the jivas are small, but what does He do for the jivas? He also makes them brhat. ‘Brahma’ is he who can make others great also, and established in pure brahma or pure spiritual substance. In this way Bhagavan gives spiritual knowledge to the jivas and infuses them with this rasa. The nitya-siddhas-gopis do not need to perform Katyayani-vrata, but to help the sadhana-siddhas-gopis progress, they also attended Katyayani-vrata, and they also helped and invited Krsna. When Krsna came He separated them from all moha and asakti – illusory false conceptions, and external coverings. Krsna then brought them back into the company of the nitya-siddhas-gopis and for one year the sadhana-siddhas-gopis stayed with the nitya-siddhas-gopis. After that Krsna called them and thought, “Now I will give you transcendental aprakrta rasa.”
This rasa cannot be obtained by any ordinary process, we must develop the qualification for it. That is why we see how much sadhana the sadhana-siddhas-gopis actually went through. Even when they came to Vraja they had to undergo ‘Katyayani-vrata’ and then for a year they were in the association of the nitya-siddhas-gopis, learning from them.
In this way we can become qualified for that aprakrta rasa. We must come under the guidance of a proper group and group leader. As long as we have our independent spirit, we cannot meet with Krsna and receive aprakrta rasa. We must offer our independence and may do it with great difficulty, and effort, but at the same time not respect and honor others. We think, “Let them say whatever they want but I am senior. They will only speak and bark at us.” We will not have humility until we completely give up our independent spirit. We will not be able to progress into the various groups of Vraja. This is the last stage of our sadhana, when we offer our independence to the leader of one of the gopis groups.
OFFER YOUR INDEPENDENT SPIRIT
I have seen so many people say to Gurudeva, “I am your shoes.” But after a few days they try to become Gurudeva’s umbrella, and try to become the umbrella of everyone in order to control them. Actually, they are not the shoes. Until you offer our independent spirit, you can not make progress. It is not easy, but until we do this, Krsna will not give us the transcendental aprakrta rasa. We do not have any qualification for it, nor even a vessel to receive it and He does not forcefully give it. If we have no desire for it, then it will be the same as putting us into a prison. If we do not do this by our own free will, we would think, “Oh it is just a bond and Krsna is forcing us to do it.” We must be a willing recipient of His mercy and His love. Krsna thought, “I cannot force anything on the jivas. I only want to follow the process of pure love.”\
DAUGHTERS OF THE DEVA’S AND PERSONIFIED VEDAS BECOME GOPIS
The Gopis and sadhakas who had worshipped Krsna by the upasana, of the eighteen syllable Gopal mantra, were brought by Krsna into Vraja-mandala. They took birth as Gopis and received the association of the nitya-siddha’s, eternal associates, and *kaya-vyuhas of Srimati Radhika.
The Deva-kanyas are another kind of sadhana-siddha’s – eternal associates. The Deva-kanya’s were daughters of the different Devas – demigods, who also desired the association of Krsna. The personified Srutis or Vedic sastras, also prayed to Krsna, “Oh you are so beautiful, more than millions and millions of Cupids, please accept us and bring us to Your abode.”
In this way, various types of sadhakas and personalities, even the Vedas personified prayed to enter Vraja and achieve a position as one of His beloveds. Krsna told the Srutis – Vedas, “I will fulfill your desire. It is a very good desire. It is a very rare thing, and it is very special. I will accept you in due course.” Krsna gave His mercy and said He would accept them, then in due course when Krsna came to Bhauma Vraja, the Vraja on this planet.
*This planet is the place of sadhana (spiritual practice) as well as a place for the sadhakas (spiritual practitioners) to meet the siddhas – (perfected souls) and for Krsna to meet the siddhas, like in a Temple, or in a Math. Some ashrams are such that they are only like a place of business and some ashrams are only a place where Bhagavan’s worship is being performed. Other places are where only Krsna’s service is performed. In this way, there are different kinds of ashrams, and in a similar way, Krsna has different abodes.
In this Bhauma Vrindavan, or the Vrindavan that Krsna manifested on this earth, Krsna came with His eternal associates and accepted the sadhakas (spiritual practitioners) who achieved sadhana-siddhi (perfection through sadhana). Those who came as sadhakas, developed one pointed greed and desire to achieve Krsna, but like the sages of Dandakaranya in Rama lila, they originally worshiped Gopal, however they still could not achieve perfection. Only when they had darshan of Ramachandraji, did they develop the neccessary greed and wanted to accept Him as their beloved.
When the jiva (spirit soul) gradually becomes pure by performing sadhana, then naturally they develop an attraction towards Bhagavan. The mantra has this power and by chanting it, gradually the mind will become purified. By this, pure knowledge develops and the mind will become fixed in God’s loving service.”
Guru varga ki Jaya! Srila Gurudeva ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the up and comimg Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Rasa Pancadhyayi”. For more info contact: firstname.lastname@example.org )