HOW CAN SOMEONE WHO IS NOT A SADHU, RECOGNIZE WHO IS A SADHU?

In 1956 Srila Gurudeva returned to Mathura after Navadvīpa Parikramā and continued translating books alongside the publication of the monthly editions of the Śri Bhāgavata Patrikā. Acharya Kesarī stayed in Mathurā during this particular summer.

On July 27 a mandate requiring anyone considered a sādhu to register before a government officer was brought to the Indian Lower House of Parliament—the Lok Sabhā. When Acharya Kesarī’s attention was drawn to the proposed legislation, he objected with a lion-like voice, “How can someone who is not a sādhu recognize a sādhu, what to speak of dispersing assessment? Only a sādhu can control another sādhu. The Indian Penal Code has ample regulations to suppress sinful behavior and activities opposed to society. What is the need for this separate law targeting sādhus?”Acharya Kesari started a forceful campaign against the proposed mandate. He dictated a letter of protest as Gurudeva swiftly transcribed. It was printed in Hindi, Bengali, and English, and sent to prominent politicians, leaders of religious societies, members of parliament, and the President of India. As a result the Lok Sabhā quickly rejected the proposal.

Also in the summer of 1956, the followers of the Nimbārka-sampradāya in Vṛndāvana cast aspersions on Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu in their journal, Sri Sudarśana, saying that He was a disciple of Keśava Kāśmīrī. In other editions, they insolently dared to claim that Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava Acharya’s such as Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhakura were in the Nimbārka-sampradāya. When Śrīla Gurudeva showed these editions to Acharya Kesarī, he became irate and had an essay published in the August issue of the Bhāgavata Patrikā entitled, “Sri Nimbāditya and Nimbārka are not the same person.”In response to this essay, the directors of the Sudarśana journal announced that they were filing legal proceedings for libel. The Sudarśana editor wrote a long letter to Śrīla Gurudeva claiming that the Bhāgavata Patrikā had presented false information about their sampradāya, saying, “Your article has caused immense damage to the reputation of our sampradāya and has seriously wounded the sentiments of its numerous followers. The value of such damage, although incalculable, has been estimated at 10,000 rupees.

”Śrīla Gurudeva showed the threat to Acharya Kesarī, and he replied firmly, “We will prove each and every word based on evidence from śāstra.” On August 27, 1956, Śrīla Gurudeva replied to Sree Brajbihari Saran at the Gautam Rii, Barahghat, Mathurā, writing:

Regret to inform you that a letter dated 23-8-56 (posted on 24-56) under a registered cover, addressed to Sree Tridaṇḍī Svāmī Śrīmat Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja, designating him as Editor and Publisher of Bhāgavata Patrikā, is received under protest.

The addressee is not in any way guilty of or liable for any of the charges, criminal or civil, and does not admit any content of the letter as you have alleged. If you are wrongly, improperly, and illegally willing to enter into any litigation, you are at liberty to do so at your own risk. Yours Truly, Svāmī B.V. Nārāyaṇa

Indignant, Brajbihari Saran of the Sudarśana journal contacted lawyers to start a legal battle. The lawyers warned him, “You don’t know Keśava Mahārāja and Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja. They never lose a case. Their knowledge of court proceedings and scripture is exceptional. Prosecuting them would be like a mouse going in a hole in search of an earthworm and finding a black snake that eats it instead.

”Cowed by what they heard, the Nimbārka leaders dropped the case and retracted their calumnies about the Gauḍiya-sampradāya.

Srila Gurudeva ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Sri Guru Darshan”. Available from rasik@kripa.tv )

WHY HAVE YOU LOST YOUR GURUDEVA?

Śrīla Gurudeva gives guru-mantra, but should this become secondary? He gave us the mahāmantra also, but this does not mean guru-mantra is secondary. We chant it a few times a day and then forget about it. Then who do we stay with? Ghosts? Witches? Will Kṛṣṇa so easily come to deliver us?Āre Bābā! Seriously chant guru-mantra!

Chant it continuously. Śrīla Gurudeva’s eternal svarūpa will then manifest to you. Why have you lost your Gurudeva? What is the meaning of this? Guru-mantra and guru’s svarūpa are non-different. Therefore, Gurudeva gives guru-mantra and says, “Chant this mantra, and I will never be distant from you.”But we do not chant this mantra and are then naturally always disturbed. If we are always chanting guru-mantra, then all auspiciousness will easily come. The svarūpa of the mahāmantra will be revealed to us.

We will have darśana of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa only by Gurudeva’s mercy. Why? Gurudeva is always chanting the mahāmantra. He is chanting śuddha-nāma, but we are not.Who is the most helpful for us in this world? Is the mahāmantra the most helpful? By which medium did the mahāmantra come to us? Who gave it to us? Did Kṛṣṇa give it to us? Did Mahāprabhu give it to us? Did any other sādhu come and give it to us? Only our Guru-pāda-padma is with us. We must follow only him. We shall chant his mantra.

I said, “If I chant your mantra will you be pleased?”Śrīla Gurudeva said, “Nityānanda Prabhu will be happy and Baladeva Prabhu will give you cit-bala, spiritual strength.”“But will you not give anything?” I asked.“Yes…I have some love for my Guru Mahārāja, therefore you will receive love for your Guru Mahārāja.”This is called guru-śakti and guru-bhakti. If you have no guru-bhakti, you have nothing.Śāstra says:prathaman tu guruṁ pūjyāṁtataś caiva mamārcanamkurvan siddhim avāpnotihy anyathā niṣphalaṁ bhavetHari-bhakti-vilāsa 4.344Śrī Kṛṣṇa says, “One must always worship one’s Guru first and only then worship Me. If one follows this process properly, one will naturally attain all perfection, but if one neglects this process everything will be fruitless.”Guru-bhakti must come before kṛṣṇa-bhakti. Gurudeva is not only Baladeva Prabhu’s expansion.

All gurus are not Baladeva Prabhu’s or Nityānanda Prabhu’s expansion. Some gurus come to this world by the order of Rādhārānī, and they are Rādhārānī and Rūpa Mañjarī and Rati Mañjarī’s direct followers. Not all lines are the same. Kṛṣṇa Himself is surprised and marvels at how Śrīmatī manifests Her group in this world and attracts everyone to Vraja to serve Him.Not all lines are the same. Different lines send people in different directions. Many people came after Nayana-maṇī-mañjarī and Vinoda Mañjarī.

Who is a true follower of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s line? The understanding of this is very rare. We are therefore very fortunate. Guru-bhakti is not only the backbone of bhakti, it gives us spiritual strength and bliss.In śāstra, there are prayers such as:gurur brahmā gurur viṣṇurguru devo maheśvaraḥgurur sākṣād parabrahmatasmai śrī-guruve namaḥDoes this mean that guru is Brahmā, Śiva, Viṣṇu, or Sākṣād-Parabrahma? What is the meaning of this prayer?

A disciple or follower that offers himself completely to Guru-pāda-padma attains the protection and care of Brahmā, Śiva, Viṣṇu, Parabrahma, and all other powerful personalities. These personalities take you in their lap and bless you. They say, “I will take care of you. Why? Because you have taken shelter of sad-guru! You are very lucky.”Rāmacandra Kavirāja was the disciple of Śrīnivāsa Ācārya. He stayed with Narottama Ṭhākura, but how strong his relation was with his Gurudeva! His Gurudeva went in samādhi to Rādhā-kuṇḍa to find

Śrīmatī’s lost nose ring. Rāmacandra Kavirāja also went there with his siddha-svarūpa and joined his Gurudeva in mānasī-sevā. Together, they searched for the nose ring and when it was found, they came back together. How strong his relation with guru is!How can we have relation with Gurudeva if we do not chant his mantra and always remember him? If our hearts have no room for him, then we are bogus disciples. I do not like this.

I desire that everyone pray to him, chant his name, and follow his footsteps and desire. What does he want for us? What is his line? Let this be our focus.Śrīla Gurudeva is present now also, protecting us, and helping us move forward on the path of vraja-bhakti. He is preparing us for the birth of our soul in Vraja, where we will blissfully serve Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa under guidance of the Vraja-devīs. Birth from the womb of the mother is birth of the body, but not of the soul. For the birth of the soul, guru is the father, and Gāyatrī is the mother—guru pitā gāyatrī mātā.

Through saṁskāra, spiritual initiation, Guru Pitā and Gāyatrī Mātā accept one, and give spiritual birth to the soul. The soul is now very small, like a dormant seed inside the body, where it is a prisoner, bound by its karma. When the conditioned soul accepts the shelter of sad-guru and receives the gāyatrī-mantra as its spiritual mother, then Gurudeva and Gāyatrī nourish one and help one develop in spiritual existence. If one gives up Guru Pitā and Gāyatrī Mātā, then one will be like an orphaned child. The flow of spiritual life will stop. One will run to accept the offerings of Māyā-devī. (CLICK on the Title to read the full article)

WHY ARE PEOPLE AFRAID OF SADHUS?

People are afraid of sādhus because of this. The sādhus cut away our five types of sufferings:  (i) avidyā, ignorance or forgetfulness of Kṛṣṇa;  (ii) asmitā, or the false egoism arising from the conceptions of “I” and “mine”; (iii) rāga, or attachment for the objects of sense gratification; (iv) dveṣa, or hatred or aversion to unpleasant, disagreeable or adverse situations; and (v) abhiniveṣa, or attachment for or absorption in sinful activities.They vanquish our material attractions, desires, and attachments. By their power, they will remove all our kleśa. This process seems painful, but this is a stage of our purification and is necessary.

Still people think, “Oh, I can come to the dhāma, but who will take care of me when I am old? I will suffer so much and I will not have any one to support me.” But we should have faith in God and His devotees. If we surrender to them, they will make all arrangements for our welfare.The sādhus who are completely free from mundane attachments wield the medicine that cures our material disease. You might think, “When I sit in front of sādhus, they are so strong that it feels like they are cutting me and then throwing salt on my wounds. They are tormenting me.”But this is the process of our purification. Once we are freed of our sickness, we will feel so much happiness. We have been suffering for so many millions of lifetimes from this material disease. Once we are cured we will feel so much bliss. Therefore, we should not be afraid of taking the treatment of sādhus. Sādhus purify everyone by the nectar of hari-kathā. We can receive this rasa by going to sādhu-saṅga.The stage of kleśaghnī—when we undergo the somewhat painful identification and subsequent eradication of our kleśa, or misery—has been described. The next stage is śubhadā.

At this stage we do not suffer; rather, people respect us. They give us wealth and opulence, and offer us worship. This is an extremely dangerous stage. If, at this time, we forget guru and Vaiṣṇavas, then again we will fall into māyā’s clutches. We must be very steady in our sādhana at the stage of śubhadā.Rūpa Gosvāmī writes:yad-brahma-sākṣāt-kṛti-niṣṭhayāpi,vināśam āyāti vinā na bhogaiḥapaiti nāma! sphuraṇena tat te,prārabdha-karmeti virauti vedaḥKṛṣṇa-nāmāṣṭakam 4O nāma! The Vedas loudly declare that even without a devotee undergoing any suffering, his prārabdha-karma, which cannot be eliminated even by resolute meditation on impersonal brāhmaṇa, is at once mitigated by Your appearance on the tongue.Everyone must suffer the results of their prārabdha and aprārabdha-karma, but if we are always doing nāma-kīrtana, then those reactions are taken away from us by those who are criticizing us or abusing us.

This is the only way that the tasting of those fruits is avoided. Those who respect us and praise us take away our puṇya, or the fruits of piousness. Bhajana cannot be performed so long as pāpa and puṇya are present. (click on the Title to read full article)

HOW CAN WE RECOGNIZE WHEN KRSNA AND GURU ARE PLEASED WITH US?

There are many spiritual teachers in this world. Most are impersonalists or only so-called spiritual teachers, who are really materialists, who do not think about how to help anyone else. How can the conditioned souls progress and get the nectar of pure love and devotion for God?

This is the desire of a bona fide guru. Many people give charity to the poor and destitute. And many philosophers advocate this charity for maintenance of the body. Although they may give food to the poor for a day or two, the next day people will again be hungry. How long can they give shelter to the hungry? If the poor and destitute want to take shelter of the donor and stay with him continuously, the donor will not give any chance. He will give cloth, medicine, and food, and then send them away.

This is one manifestation of pride.If anyone comes near God’s associates in this world, they will take responsibility to help that person cross over the ocean of material existence and attain the shelter of the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord. A so-called spiritual teacher does not help take care of other souls, but only maintains the physical dress of the embodied souls. This is only cruelty and pushes them deeper into illusion.Śrī Guru is not an ordinary mortal.

If someone who does not know how to swim goes to help another drowning person, then they will only drown together. If one is not qualified to help, then one will be pulled down and defeated by the soul drowning in material life. Śrī Guru means he who brings others out of the darkness of illusion into the light of truth. If one acts as guru without qualification, he will be pulled into darkness as well, this is not helping anyone. This is also cruelty. If you do not help others, or if you are pulled down by them, both are problems. If you do everything for God’s pleasure, this will be real help for all souls.

If we go for any personal help, then people will steal and enjoy us.Śrīla Gurudeva guides the soul into a pure loving relation with Kṛṣṇa. Any personal help is not good; no one is our relative if we are not related to Kṛṣṇa. If one is related to Kṛṣṇa then all souls are one’s relatives. A guru will thus have neutrality. He is the servant of Kṛṣṇa, and comes to this world to help the conditioned souls. Gurudeva is internally engaged in service to Kṛṣṇa, but those with no transcendental vision will not be able to see this.

Therefore, guru practically shows by example and teaches others how to serve Kṛṣṇa. Such a guru is called ācārya, or a spiritual preceptor.ācinoti yaḥ śāstrārtham ācāre sthāpayaty apisvayam ācarate yasmād ācāryas tena kīrttitaḥVāyu Purāṇa An ācārya is one who fully understands the conclusions of the revealed scriptures and whose behavior reflects his deep realization. He is a living example because he teaches the meaning of the scriptures both by word and deed.Śrī Guru is present with his disciples through his speech and instructions.

If anyone hears or reads his discourses or books, than Śrī Guru is directly with them. Śrī Guru’s speech is not ordinary words and sentences. It is spiritual. Śrī Guru is eternally present with his instructions. Śrī Guru is always with one who is connected to his message and instructions. (Click on the title to read full article)

HOW SRILA TRIVIKRAMA GOSVAMI MAHARAJA GLORIFIED SRILA GURUDEVA

Srila Bhaktivedānta Vāmana Gosvami Maharaja and Srila Bhaktiv­­­edānta Trivikrama Gosvāmi Mahārāja were very upset when they heard members of the GBC were mistreating Gurudeva and trying to defame him in ISKCON. Some members even had the audacity to criticize Srila Gurudeva in the presence of Srila Vāmana Gosvāmi Mahārāja at Devānanda Gauḍīya Maṭha in Navadvīpa. Someone once said, “He as against the rules and regulations of your Vedānta Samīti by speaking on elevated topics that ordinary jīvas are not qualified to hear. You are president of the Samīti, please tell him to mend his ways or remove him from your society.”

Śrīla Vāmana Gosvāmi Mahārāja rebuked those who thus spoke and said, “I am not separate or different from Srila Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja. Whatever he speaks is correct and in line with “sadhu-guru-sastra”. Śrīla Trivikrama Gosvāmi Mahārāja was also angered at the ill character of the GBC towards Srila Gurudeva.

Srila Vāmana Gosvāmi Mahārāja and Srila Trivikrama Gosvāmi Mahārāja said, “An offense to our dear godbrother is an offense to ourselves and our whole society.”In September 1995, Pūjyapāda Bhaktivedānta Trivikrama Mahārāja arrived in Keavaji Gauḍīya Maṭha. Upon arrival, he offered prostrated obeisance to Śrīla Gurudeva and Gurudeva offered sāṣṭāṅga-praṇāma in return. Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja had immense respect for Śrīla Gurudeva.

Sometimes, when Śrīla Gurudeva was residing inside his room, or absent, Śrīla Trivikrama Gosvāmī Mahārāja would bow to Gurudeva’s shoes at his door. In the temple programs, Śrīla Gurudeva and Śrīla Trivikrama Gosvāmī Mahārāja sat together for the kīrtanas and hari-kathā. Gurudeva deeply honored Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja and always requested him to speak first. One morning, a few days before Kārtika commenced, Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja gave class while Gurudeva was elsewhere engaged.

In his Hindi class, Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja raised the question, “How can we attain bhakti? Even if we end all our time with sādhus, if we have no faith in them, then we can never achieve bhakti. By feeding or giving money to sādhus, or even by following sādhu’s instructions, one does not achieve bhakti. Faith and respect for Vaiṣṇavas is crucial! We must never criticize our Vaiṣṇava guardians! Because of our wicked tendencies, when there is obstruction to our sense gratification we perceive defects in the faultless Vaiṣṇavas. Nothing is as despicable as a disciple who is disloyal and who denounces his spiritual guardian. Yet, we see dependents having no fear in making grave offenses to their śikṣāguru.

Pūjyapāda Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja embodies all the 26 qualities of a Vaiṣṇava as described by the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Have full faith in him!”Śrīla Trivikrama Gosvāmi Mahārāja then glorified Srila Gurudeva’s Vaiṣṇava traits. He said”, the primary symptom of a Vaiṣṇava is being saranagata, completely surrendered to Kṛṣṇa. Even if all other symptoms of a Vaiṣṇava are present in someone, if he is not surrendered to Kṛṣṇa, he is not a real Vaiṣṇava. Without the life-giving quality of śaraṇāgati, the other qualities are only like decorations on a corpse.

All Vaiṣṇavas are śaraṇāgata, but not all Vaiṣṇavas possess the 26 characteristics of a Vaiṣṇava mentioned in śāstra. Pūjyapāda Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja is special in that he fully possesses all 26 qualities. He causes all bhaktas to feel that he is their ever well-wisher and spiritual friend.“Vaiṣṇavas are merciful. Whether someone respects or insults him, Pūjyapāda Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja is equipoised. He gives affection and mercy to everyone. He does not consider the faults of others, rather, he sees even the slightest goodness in a person and encourages him to progress.

The method of bestowing mercy on the righteous is different from that of delinquents. Externally, Vaiṣṇavas may appear more kind to sinners than the virtuous. Śrīla Mahārāja chastises the upright devotees to edify them. Meanwhile, he is affectionate to the dissolute so that they become good. The actions of a sādhu of Mahārāja’s caliber are not easy to comprehend. Even the abuse or curse of a sādhu is beneficial—meant for the recipient’s welfare.“Śrīla Mahārāja never considers others his enemies, even if they are ingrates whom he has helped but who have then turned against him.

Śrīla Mahārāja is like a sādhu who picks up drowning scorpions again and again, wanting to save them, even though they keep biting him for his efforts. When I ask, ‘What do you gain by trying to help such badmashes?’ He replies, ‘If they will not give up their nature, why should I forsake mine?’ ”

“Sādhus are tolerant. There is no end to Śrīla Mahārāja’s patience. He maintains and nourishes so many. Yet when many of them have matured, they turn against him. He works always for the welfare of others, yet still people criticize and insult him. But Mahārāja never thinks ill of anyone.“Vaiṣṇavas observe the essence. Mahārāja discerns if a person is eager for bhajana and helps him in all ways. If someone wants to serve māyā, he helps him on his way as well, knowing that, after receiving the continual kicks from māyā, he will come back and be prepared for his help.“Mahārāja is nirdoṣa, faultless.

He never criticizes others or speaks idly of mundane topics. Indeed, he wastes not a moment. He’s always engaged in hari-bhakti. He is magnanimous. He speaks vraja-kathā to inspire others towards vraja-bhakti, even if they are not qualified or strictly practicing bhakti. He knows that ten or twenty lifetimes may pass before a person becomes qualified, but he also knows that unless one hears vraja-kathā and develops greed for vraja-bhakti, he never has a chance to progress toward the ultimate attainment. So, Mahārāja generously speaks vraja-kathā to whomever he meets. Mahārāja is akiñcana—he considers nothing as his own property.

Understanding that everything belongs to the Lord, Mahārāja takes responsibility to engage everything and everyone in God’s service.“Mahārāja is sarvopakāraka—he is interested in the welfare of all living entities. He selflessly takes others on parikramā, maintaining the pilgrims by collecting bhikṣā, and he arranges festivals of bhakti for all people to attend without charge. Materialists use all their assets to gratify their mind and senses.

Mahārāja employs whatever he receives for the upliftment of mankind in many ways, such as: publishing books, orchestrating pilgrimages, maintaining temples, restoring holy places, serving people in general to inspire them to follow bhakti, and serving the sādhus by providing whatever facility they require for performing bhajana, such as prasāda, room, cloth, and medicine.“Mahārāja is never restless. Those who have material desires are always restless, but Mahārāja only desires to serve the transcendental Divine Couple—Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa; no matter what the external circumstances are, he knows that all events occur by the will of Kṛṣṇa. Thus he remains tranquil and internally absorbed in his spiritual service.“Mahārāja is victorious over the six internal enemies and is always in control of his emotions. He never lusts for wealth or power; never becomes angry; always gives to others without being greedy for anything in return; is beyond the spell of illusion and madness; and is forever free of envy. He never boasts. Even though he has done so much service and such great deeds, he never praises himself, for he knows everything is done by the will of Kṛṣṇa and Guru.

HOW DID SRILA GURUDEVA PROTECT THE SADHU’S DURING THE 1976 GOVERMENT EMASCULATION PROGRAM?

In 1975, India faced national crises as the government declared a state of emergency, suspended democracy, arrested thousands of dissidents and officials, and censored the press. The emergency period lasted from June 25, 1975, until January 23, 1977. In September 1976, the ruling party initiated a widespread compulsory sterilization program to control population growth in India. Certain groups were targeted. Over eight million men were sterilized in one year alone. Being antipathetic toward sādhus, the government mandated that all red-cloth bābājīs must be emasculated. Government leaders announced, “Sādhus are like red monkeys, only eating, sleeping, and causing mischief. They are a heavy burden and a disturbance to our country. Rather than doing work to help our society, they beg in the towns and villages and have illicit affairs with women; hence, we will force vasectomies to prevent them from creating unwanted population growth.”
Mathurā and Vraja-maṇḍala were heavily targeted areas.
Every year thousands of sādhus from different parts of India like Haridvāra and Citrakūṭa assembled in Mathurā to celebrate Janmāṣṭamī. During the Janmāṣṭamī of 1976 the government announced a one-lakh cash incentive for every 100 sādhus that a police officer processed. Policemen would attend temples incognito and invite sādhus for a feast. The sādhus were told they would be taken to a program where they would perform kīrtana, partake of mahā-prasāda, and then brought back. They were then escorted in buses to a local hospital where they were systematically processed with crude surgery and then thrown out on the streets bleeding. Many sādhus died because of infections or complications resulting from unsanitary surgeries and lack of medical attention. After these atrocities continued for several months, many of the remaining sādhus adopted ordinary dress or went into hiding, while others gathered together to protest.
Śrīla Gurudeva instructed all red-cloth brahmacārīs to remain in the temple and only those in white would bring vegetables or water for the Maṭha. Because some of the local officials and policeman were favorably disposed to Śrīla Gurudeva and would come regularly to hear from him, there were no problems inside Keśavajī Gauḍīya Maṭha. But going outside always posed a threat.
Eventually a group of influential sādhus approached Śrīla Gurudeva and requested, “Please protect us, only you can stop these atrocities.”
Śrīla Gurudeva became furious because of this diabolical government policy and summoned secluded conclaves with all the sādhus in Vṛndāvana. There, Gurudeva advised the sādhus to practice their sādhana in āśrāmas rather than roaming about as destitute beggars; and he instructed them on how to properly follow the etiquette of spiritual life.
Gurudeva said, “These atrocities to sādhus cannot last for long. In the beginning of Rāma’s līlā, Rāvaṇa sent many cannibalistic demons and rākṣasas to Daṇḍakāraṇya where thousands of sages practiced austerities. Khara, Duśaṇa, Tāḍakā, Mārīca, and many other rākṣasas harassed the ṛṣis—ruthlessly killing and eating them. So many sages were killed that hills formed from their bones.
“Rāvaṇa sent his rākṣasas to the sages with the message, ‘You are staying in our King’s territory, therefore, you must pay tax.’
‘We don’t have any business or agriculture,’ the sages responded, ‘how can we give tax?’ ‘You eat our fruit and drink our water, and from this your body has made a lot of blood. You can give us your blood as tax.’ ‘What will you do with our blood?’ ‘Our king will drink your blood and become more powerful.’ ‘If the sādhus are weak and not doing bhajana,’ the demons thought, ‘then our king will never be defeated, thus, we must kill them or take their blood as tax.’
“Rāvaṇa had conquered heaven, and was controlling the world, but he wanted more power and so he thought, ‘If I drink the blood of the sages, I will acquire the strength of their austerities.’
“The rākṣasas brought a gold pot, and the sages cut open their thighs and gave blood, saying, ‘Take this blood to Rāvaṇa and tell him it will destroy his dynasty!’ The rākṣasas took the pot to Laṅkā, but Rāvaṇa was not present at the time. Hearing of the curse, his wife Mandodari said, ‘Take this pot and bury it at once under the Himālayas! I will give Rāvaṇa animal blood in its place.’
“The pot was buried in the mountainous region of Mithilā where Janaka Mahārāja ruled. Henceforth, Mithilā became devastated by drought, and the women and animals became barren. Desperate to save his kingdom and people, Janaka Mahārāja consulted his brāhmaṇa advisors and planned to begin a sacrifice. While plowing the ground to clean the ceremonial area, they dug up a golden pot and, upon opening it, found a beautiful baby girl inside—Sītā-devī. Sītā was the embodiment of the sādhu’s curse on Rāvaṇa, and in due course she was the cause of the destruction of Rāvaṇa and his dynasty.”
Śrīla Gurudeva continued, “Rāma went to the forest for 14 years. There He killed the demons that attacked the sādhus. And when He met the ascetics, He instructed them, ‘Your tapa-bala, strength from austerities, is lost when you become angry. At that me demons can easily devour you.’
“Sādhus that stayed in the āśramas of Gautama, Yājñavalkya, Viśvāmrita, and other great ṛṣis, were not tortured by the demons. Demonic people will torment sādhus that do not surrender to a pure guru and instead try to practice bhajana alone, without kīrtana or hari-kathā. Only those sādhus that were not under the shelter of powerful ṛṣis could be attacked by the rākṣasas. Some think, ‘If I’m alone then I can do bhajana without disturbance.’
Gurudeva concluded, “The sheltered soul who sincerely practices sādhana-bhajana, following the instruction of his Guru-pāda-padma, never falters in his spiritual practice, even if he is subjected to trial upon trial. However, one who gratifies his senses on the pretense of bhajana will surely suffer many tribulations.”
The sādhus arranged a large procession to the government offices in Delhi in protest but their calls for justice were ignored. Later, a law was passed stating that sādhus must register with the government, only then would they be left in peace. The government leaders stated, “Rickshaw drivers, thieves, and rogues dress in saffron, either don dreadlocks or completely shave, and beg house-to-house. Posing as saints, they spoil ingenuous women, and thus many illegitimate children are spawned—causing a nuisance to society.”
The government also began to charge a toll to enter Vṛndāvana and Govardhana. Checkpoints were set up on the roads and visors entering Vṛndāvana had to incur levies. The penniless sādhus were also expected to pay before they could enter Vṛndāvana. Violators were arrested and ordered to pay the fee.
The sādhus became irate. Where were they supposed to get money for paying taxes? They complained to Śrīla Gurudeva about the situation and as a result he met with many high-ranking officials. Eventually, he registered a lawsuit with the magistrate, and by his influence this unjust regulation was terminated and the tax checkpoints shut down.

Sādhus had to tolerate immense hardship in those years. Once there was an elderly disciple of Prabhupāda Sarasvatī Ṭhākura named Govardhana dāsa Bābājī who came to Vraja to practice bhajana. He lived in an old stone tower at an obscure Ghāṭa of the Yamunā in Mathurā. One evening he was severely beaten by a rough bunch of local thieves, who stole his few belongings and then threw him in the river, assuming him dead. The dacoits of Vraja would accost sādhus in this way, thinking that they stockpiled donations from the public.
Somehow the Bābā remained alive. He had been thrown face up in a shallow part of the Yamunā, and lay there unable to move because of his injuries. It was more than a day before Govardhana dāsa Bābājī was found and taken out of the water in a precarious condition. His wounds and bruises were infected and oozing pus, and his body was covered with worms and insects. Śrīla Gurudeva was called to the site, and he arranged for him to be taken to the hospital. His whole body appeared rotten, and no one wanted to take care of him.
Śrīla Gurudeva called for one of his dear brahmacārīs. When he came, Śrīla Gurudeva said, “Care for this sādhu, he is a disciple of Prabhupāda Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. Help him.”
The Bābā was senseless. His body was pale and worms were clinging to his sores. The brahmacārī removed the worms and washed his wounds with disinfectants. The doctors gave him medicine and many injections, while the brahmacārī regularly cleaned his wounds and body. Soon he regained consciousness and eventually was completely cured.
As soon as he was well again he came to see Śrīla Gurudeva in Keśavajī Gauḍīya Maṭha. “By your mercy I have received new life,” he said. “I have some money in my bank account, please take it.
“I did not serve you for selfish reasons,” Śrīla Gurudeva said. “Just promise that you will not go back to that tower.”
“I will go back,” the Bābā said boldly. “If Kṛṣṇa wants, He may kill me.”
“Please stay here in the temple,” Śrīla Gurudeva requested.
Despite Gurudeva’s requests, Govardhana dāsa Bābājī returned to his previous residence after staying for some time in the temple.
In those days it was difficult for sādhus. People thought, “Why should we give money to sādhus? They are very rich.”
Hence Śrīla Gurudeva never accepted money from people disinclined to bhakti. Most people doubted sādhus at the time and only a few people came to the temple.
One time, a sādhu named Gopāla dāsa Bābājī, who did bhajana in a simple residence at Govardhana, was visited by some people who offered praṇāma and tried to give him many gifts. He did not accept their presentations, but that night some dacoits came and accosted him, saying, “You bogus old man! We saw those rich people come earlier today. How mu did they give you?”
“I did not accept anything,” said the bābā. “I never do. Sometimes I accept incense and ghee-wicks to worship Girirāja, but only this.”
The dacoits did not believe the poor bābā. “No!” they said, “you are lying! We know you have amassed a lot of wealth by your pretense of saintliness.”
They beat the Bābā so brutally that he died and then threw his body in an old well. Afterwards, they trashed his hut in search of the presumed wealth, but found nothing. Realizing their sin, some of the group turned themselves in to the police. “We killed an innocent bābā,” they confessed. “Put us in jail. We are ready to suffer for this sin.” The police did not arrest them, and instead they left their case in God’s judgement. Later, the offenders suffered greatly as a result of their sin. People like this are great offenders to Vraja.
Śrīla Gurudeva went from village to village meeting with the people of Vṛndāvana and Mathurā. He warned them, “Don’t disturb the bābājīs, they have come for bhajana. You should support them. They only need a small amount of flour and vegetables for their sustenance.” Gurudeva changed the minds of many doubtful people who assumed that all bābājīs and sādhus were imposters, cheaters, and thieves. He thus protected Vraja-maṇḍala and the real Vrajavāsīs. Śrīla Gurudeva began to print many books and as these books were distributed, people began to have more respect for sādhus. In this way, Gurudeva’s influence transformed the nature of the people living in Vraja-maṇḍala.
Srila Gurudeva ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Sri Guru Darshan”. Available from rasik@kripa.tv )

IS GOPI PREMA THE OBJECT OF ALL LOVE?

“The Vedic literature is like an endless ocean,” Gurudeva said. “The books of our Gosvāmīs are also very expanse, like an ocean. It is very difficult to take the abstract of all these in an hour. But I will make an attempt to do so. The essence of all the epics, Vedas, Upaniṣads, and scriptures was given by Caitanya Mahāprabhu in the Śikṣāṣṭakam. Everything is present in the Śikṣāṣṭakam, even more than what is in the Vedas. e Śikṣāṣṭakam is the essence of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Gītā, and all other scriptures. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī understood the essence of all because Caitanya Mahāprabhu inspired everything in his heart at Prayāga; He inspired in his heart all the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, and even what has not been given in the Bhāgavatam—the moods of Rādhikā. Mahāprabhu inspired knowledge of what is love in all its stages: sneha, māna, praṇaya, rāga, anurāga, bhāva, mahābhāva, as well as all their symptoms. Mahāprabhu told Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, ‘Gopī-prema is the object of all love; the gopīs’ prema is the topmost love. To serve the gopīs is the topmost goal of our devotion.

First we must fix the object of life, the object of our devotional activities, then we should know what practice to follow so that we can attain our goal.“Caitanya Mahāprabhu taught three things: sambandha, abhideya, and prayojana—in other words: the relation with Kṛṣṇa, how to achieve kṛṣṇa-prema, and the nature of kṛṣṇa-prema. The aim of our life is the love and affection in the hearts of the gopīs, especially in Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s sakhīs. This is our goal, as expressed by Caitanya Mahāprabhu.

Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has described the process to attain this goal: ādau śraddhā tataḥ sādhu-saṅgo, tato anartha-nivṛtti, tato niṣṭhā ruci āsakti bhāva, and after that prema. In this world we can progress only to rati or bhāva. There can be no prema in this world. And one cannot achieve this very quickly in one birth or two or three or four. We can attain this only by the special causeless mercy of Kṛṣṇa, Caitanya Mahāprabhu, and His associates.“First we should understand śraddhā. There is no restriction that only someone in ISKCON can achieve śraddhā. We can attain śraddhā anywhere in this world. Śrīla Svāmī Mahārāja came to give this śraddhā—which is the seed of bhakti—freely to all people without discrimination.

This is not different from the mission of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Prabhupāda and Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī. It is not something new. He said that śraddhā is the firm belief in your Gurudeva, and that by doing kṛṣṇa-bhakti your life will be successful forever. He said that, by chanting, remembering, and meditating on Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes, we can attain perfection. From śraddhā, again sādhu-saṅga will be there, association with any high-class Vaiṣṇava. And then you’ll think, ‘I must accept initiation from a bona fide guru.’ And if you do not do so, you will be deprived of bhakti. You must accept initiation from a bona fide guru.

The symptom of a genuine guru has been described in all scriptures, especially in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.3.21). There, the symptoms of a guru are given:tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta jijjṇāsuḥ śreya uttamamśābde pare ca niṣṇātaṁ brahmaṇy upaśamjāśrayam“There are three symptoms of sad-guru: one is internal and two are external. To know all the śāstras and be able to remove all kinds of doubts from others is one of the external symptoms. To be detached from all worldly desires and sense gratification is the other external symptom. What is the internal symptom? There must be some realization of kṛṣṇa-prema; he must have love for Kṛṣṇa. If the two external symptoms are there in a person, but the internal symptom is lacking, then one should not accept him as a guru.

But if the internal symptom is there, and something lacks in the external, then we can accept him and it will be favorable for our spiritual life. If he lacks some knowledge of śāstra, there is no harm. But it is absurd to think that someone may have love for Kṛṣṇa, but no knowledge of the scriptures; śāstra-jñāna will run behind that person. Whatever that person does will be śāstra. A guru should be like that. A real guru never falls—never, never, never. Imitator gurus are always falling; but really there is nowhere for them to fall, because they are already fallen. Such a false guru never had niṣṭhā. If he had niṣṭhā he would never fall down.”Śrīla Gurudeva then said, “Caitanya Mahāprabhu mercifully descended to give this gopi-prema through nāma-saṅkīrtanam. If you want to practice the process to attain this goal, then you will have to follow Rūpa Gosvami, as described in this verse:tan-nāma-rūpa-caritādi-sukīrtanānusmṛṭyoḥ krameṇa rasanā-manasī niyojyatiṣṭhan vraje tad-anurāgi-janānugāmīkālaṁ nayed akhilam ity upadeśa-sāram
Upadeśāmṛta 8

After asking a devotee to read Śrīla Prabhupāda’s translation and purport of this verse, Śrīla Gurudeva said, “We must do su-kīrtana of Kṛṣṇa’s nāma, rūpa, guṇa, and līlā. There are so many names of Kṛṣṇa:he kṛṣṇa karunā-sindho dīna-bandho jagat-pategopeśa gopikā-kānta rādhā-kānta namo ‘stu te‘O Supreme Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, You are an ocean of kindness. You are the friend of the destitute, Lord of the world, Lord of the gopās, beloved consort of the gopīs, and the most beloved consort of Rādhā. I pay my innumerable obeisances to Your lotus feet.’“Of these names, Gopikā-kānta is superior to the previous, because Kṛṣṇa is controlled by the gopīs. But still, something is missing there: Rādhā-kānta namo stute. This is supreme. ‘O Kṛṣṇa, You are controlled by Rādhā.’ Hearing this, Kṛṣṇa is satisfied. So, these names are gradually superior.”

Śrīla Gurudeva next beautifully described how Kṛṣṇa disappeared from the Rāsa dance, how the gopīs searched for Him and sang the Gopī-gīta, and finally how Kṛṣṇa reappeared and confessed His undying love for the gopīs; how He felt He could never repay them, and that He had only disappeared to reveal their glories to the world.Finally, Śrīla Gurudeva concluded his lecture, saying, “You should remember these pastimes with a melted heart and weep incessantly, while chanting:Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare HareHare Rāma Hare Rāma Rāma Rāma Hare Hare“If you can progress to this stage of chanting, you will forget when night began and when day started. You will chant constantly, oblivious of the world. This is the process. We must chant and remember these things. But you should be where all these pastimes were performed, in Vṛndāvana, where the Yamunā is still gently flowing, or at Govardhana, or Rādhā-kuṇḍa. If you can’t be there physically, then stay there in your mind. Now, even after five thousand years, the trees are waiting for Kṛṣṇa; they are eagerly waiting, feeling, ‘When will Kṛṣṇa come?’ And they are lying on the ground in separation, offering daṇḍavata-praṇāma. So, be situated there. But still only this will not do; something more is required. A very rasika-tattvajña Vaiṣṇava should be there, and in his guidance you should chant and remember.

Then your entire energy can be absorbed in bhajana and that kind of prema, gopī-prema, may come in your heart. This is the essence of all the teachings of the Vedas, Upaniṣads, the Gosvāmīs’ literature, and all scripture. In brief I have described this.”

(click on the Title to see more)

SHOULD WE PRAY TO GURU TO CORRECT OUR FAULTS?

When guru gives a turban, tilaka, and glorifies a person, then he is being raised up for a fall, to rectify him of his pride. In Hindi, there is a saying, which means that when people get praised continuously, it makes them more and more puffed up. They become so puffed up that they can no longer sit. They desire more and more prestige. If anyone tells them anything a little bit against them, or a little bit critical, then it is like they burst in anger and shout, “Sālā! Don’t you know who I am? I am the father of Gurudeva.” This is like saying, “I am the guru of my guru; I am everything to him! Without me, Mahārāja would have no life.” If Gurudeva or Bhagavān praise their dependents, it can give rise to a great anartha in the heart of the sādhakas. It is ve hard to tolerate such an anartha.The disciple should always pray that Śrī Guru chastise him and correct his faults. He should always reserve the right with his guru to chastise him. One should pray to Guru, “Always keep me as your humble follower and chastise me when I do wrong.” If at the time guru chastises his sevaka or disciple, that disciple then also speaks back to guru or reprimands guru, or complains about his Guru to others, then he will certainly fall down. If he goes around complaining, “Oh! Mahārāja said this and that. He was so abusive,” this is taking away the right of guru to chastise. Then the guru will stop chastising and then gradually, the disciple would certainly fall down. Therefore we should always have someone who is there ready to chastise us if we do wrong. Without a guardian we are hopeless. We should never take away the right of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas to chastise us. If we ourselves go and reprimand our guru or think ourselves to be superior to our guru then he will become silent and will not chastise us. Then guru will worship us. And he will say, “You are everything. You are my master; you are the authority.” So, a sincere sādhaka should always be cautious and understand that if Guru and Vaiṣṇavas begin to regularly praise him and worship him then he should try to rectify that situation before his downfall. He should pray for forgiveness for his offense. And he should always pray to Guru and Vaiṣṇavas that they be his chastiser and guardian.When this question was asked to Gurudeva about why a sevaka would leave guru or Bhagavān, Gurudeva said, “They are serving physically, but where is their mind? Is their mind engaged in service with sincerity? They look, ‘Oh! Who has come, who has given how much, who is a wealthy person, who has given donations?’ ”When people come to the sevaka of guru and say, ‘Oh! You sing so nicely and you do such nice service. You cook so well. O Prabhu! Really you have kept guru completely pleased by your service.’These people who come and give praise like this are great enemies, because then the sevaka will always be thinking about them and will forget about Guru and Vaiṣṇavas. We think of these people and try to take care of them and to keep them happy. In this way we leave the service of guru and begin serving others. That person is not a real guru-sevaka. He is showing that he is serving guru only to really engage others in his own worship and to enjoy himself. If he is a real sevaka then he will always be eager to be chastised by his guru. He will always be very humble and consider himself insignificant. He prays to guru, ‘If I have any mistake or any shortcoming please at once chastise me and correct me for my fault.’ And if he ever does anything wrong he will fall at the feet of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas and weeping, will pray for forgiveness.But some people become so arrogant that if guru finds any fault with their character and says anything to them then they are ready to start a fight and they will raise their hand to fight with guru, or they will turn their back on guru and leave him. Or if guru chastises them, then they will leave like a scolded wife and spend days crying here and there, and they will tell everyone they meet, “Oh! Gurudeva is so mean. He wrongly accused me.” They will tell everyone and try to show that they were right and that they had done nothing wrong. If someone acts like this then he has left his dharma as a sevaka. If the ‘se’ from the sevaka is taken away then all that is left is vaka, which means a crane, which represents the hypocrite. That person is only an impostor in the dress of a sevaka. Cranes are white and they have a nice long śikhā, and they do austerities with their eyes closed, standing on one foot in the water. Why? They only want to catch a fish. They wait and do austerities until a nice big fish comes along and then they snatch it up and eat it. One should be very careful not to be such a servant of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas. If one is a real sevaka then what happens? Kṛṣṇa-bhakte kṛṣṇera guṇa sakali sañcāre—Kṛṣṇa’s qualities enter His devotees. So if someone is with guru and they are really a bhakta and a servant then all the good qualities of guru and Bhagavān will enter that person. Then he will be humble and fully qualified in all the different manners of vaiṣṇava-sevā and Vaiṣṇavism. By the good qualities of guru he becomes qualified. What is the fruit of this qualification? He learns to ree all Vaiṣṇavas properly according to their position. He always chants harināma and his mind will be naturally absorbed in Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa’s eternal pastimes.How can these good qualities and tattva-jñāna enter our hearts? How can we protect our bhakti and maintain a life of service of Hari, Guru and Vaiṣṇavas? Scripture states: āyur harati vai puṁsāmudyann astaṁ ca yann asautasyarte yat-kṣaṇo nītauttama-śloka-vārtayāŚrīmad-Bhāgavatam 2.3.17 Both by rising and by setting, the sun decreases the duration of life of everyone, except one who utilizes the time by discussing topics of the all-good Personality of Godhead.When the sun and the moon rise and set they steal the span of life of all living beings. The sun and the moon thus enjoy all life forms. All the devatās and dānavas enjoy the mānavas, or humans. When a boy or girl comes into maturity then different supernatural beings come at any opportunity and try to enjoy him or her through some subtle form. Apsarās or gandharvas will come and they will embrace you in their subtle forms and in that way enjoy you and cause you to lose your vital energy. Our life span and vital energy is thus being stolen from us. The presiding deities of the nava-graha, nine planets, are all like different manifestations of time, which steal away the life of all beings. When any planet’s period is acting in a person’s life, then that planet enjoys that person who is under its sign. During the Rāhu period, Rāhu enjoys that person. During the Ketu period, Ketu enjoys that person. Similarly, during one’s maṅgala-daśā or śani-daśā, Mars and Saturn enjoy that person.We can be saved from this situation by being always absorbed in the Absolute Truth under the guidance of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, by serving them and hearing hari-kathā from them. We should study the Bhāgavatam, Bhagavad-gītā, Rāmāyaṇa, and other scriptures, under guidance of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas. But it is not enough to only hear or read; we must endeavor to remember hari-kathā. While you are engaged in other activities try to remember what you have heard or read. Always remember the teachings and the pastimes of the Lord. And then after remembering, you should perform kīrtana. You should hear, chant, and remember. And not only that, you should also pray. You should hear, chant, remember, and pray. If you do that then these different influences, the planets, the sun and the moon will not be able to take away your life. You will achieve your transcendental form and go beyond this material realm. (click on the title to see more)

ANANYATA – EXCLUSIVE DEVOTION – Whats Wrong With Taking the Maha-Prasada of Dvarakadisa?

Srila Gurudeva always served with the moods of the Vraja-devīs. Someone once brought mahā-prasāda from the Dvārakādīśa Temple to Śrīla Gurudeva. Gurudeva respectfully accepted  and distributed  to others, but refused to personally eat the remnants of Rukmiṇī.The person was offended and said, “You accept alms given by low-castes but will not take the mahā-prasāda of Dvārakādīśa!”“We are the resolute servants of the Vraja-devīs,” Gurudeva replied, “and will only accept their remnants. We collect raw ingredients that we prepare and offer to Śrī Śrī Radha-Vinoda Bihārī and we subsist only on Their mahā-prasāda.”Śrīla Gurudeva thus taught his followers how to be uncompromising. Gurudeva advised, “Follow in the anugatya of the Vaiṣṇavas. In an emergency, or to enable your guru-sevā, you can take the prasāda from Lord Rāma or at a Viṣṇu temple. However, you should always strive to be fully committed to Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa in Vraja.”Śrīla Gurudeva recounted a story in this regard:“An old Bābājī Mahārāja once lived in a village called Raṇavāḍī in Vraja-maṇḍala more than a hundred years ago. At one point, the desire awakened in him to have darśana of Dvārakā. A brāhmaṇa family came who were going to Dvārakā and offered to take the Bābājī along, paying the full cost of travel. The Bābājī agreed and they took him along with them. When this Bābājī Mahārāja returned to Vraja, all the sādhus neglected him. He could no longer remember the eight-fold daily pastimes of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa and suffered immensely.“This Bābājī had a friend named Siddha Kṛṣṇadāsa Babaji, who was always absorbed in service to harināma and Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. Bābājī Mahārāja visited his friend, but when Siddha Kṛṣṇadāsa saw him come he refused to associate with him, saying; Srimati Radhika would be angered with someone who had taken the brand of Dvāraka and had eaten the remnants of Rukmiṇī’s cooking.’“That Bābājī Mahārāja became greatly distressed and thought,‘This life is useless if the pastimes of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa do not appear in my heart!’ He went back to his cottage and, locking himself inside, repented and prayed for forgiveness from Śrīmatī Rādhikā. After three days a fire rang from within his body and consumed him. The villagers forced open the door days later and found only a pile of ashes.”Śrīla Gurudeva fearlessly preached the message of Mahāprabhu, the aspiration for mañjarī-bhāva—the service of Śrīmatī Rādhikā as Her confidential maidservant. He continuously read the glories of the Vraja-devīs and explained how this is the line and mood of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas. Many reputed Gauḍīyas reserve or hide this mood without explaining  to anyone. A dedicated disciple should endeavor to emulate Śrīla Gurudeva’s sentiment. Simultaneously, he should offer respect from a distance to anyone who does not adhere to Śrīla Gurudeva’s mood.Srila Gurudeva ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Sri Guru Darshan”.

WHAT PROOF IS THERE THAT THE HARE KRSNA MANTRA IS THE MAHAMANTRA?

“This mahāmantra is endowed with thirty-two syllables and can destroy all sins. Just as fire destroys, this mahāmantra can destroy all evil habits and bestow dharma, artha, kāma and mokṣa. Its beautiful form (svarūpa) is capable of stealing all of one’s foolish, ignorant mentality, and it is the giver of śuddha-sattvika intelligence. It bestows the symptoms of prema-bhakti. It is worshipable and is worthy of being served by all. Śrī nāma fulfills everyone’s desires. All are qualified to serve this mahāmantra, meaning all are qualified to perform saṅkīrtana of the mahāmantra. This mahāmantra is the personal well-wisher of everyone and is endowed with the potency to attract all. It is the destroyer of all afflictions. It does not consider the rules of dīkṣā, and is not restricted by time. The mahāmantra is worshipped just by saying it. No external paraphernalia is required. It is capable of giving results simply by its contact with the tongue, without considering the rules pertaining to time, place and circumstance.”The Pippalāda branch of the Athārva-veda states:sva-nāma-mūla-mantreṇa      sarvaṁ hlādayati vibhuḥsa eva mūla-mantraṁ japati     harir iti kṛṣṇa iti rāma iti”That mahāmantra, which is composed of the name, form, etc., of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the origin of all avatāras‚ is making everyone joyful. He Himself, in the form of Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya Mahāprabhu, is clearly chanting the hare kṛṣṇa mahāmantra, the source of all mantras.” (click on the Title to see more)

CAN WE UNDERSTAND THE GOPI’S SEPARATION MOOD?

As soon as the gopis learned that Akrura was going to takeKrsna and Baladeva to Mathura, their hearts broke and theywere filled with unbearable anxiety. They knew what wouldfollow. “Take all our sweets and cows,” they exclaimed,“but do not take Krsna! This is worse than killing us.”Unaware that their garments had become disheveled andthat their bangles and other ornaments had broken orslipped from their bodies, the gopis entered a state ofdevastation so intense that Sukadeva Gosvami express toKing Pariksit that it was impossible for him to describe thatscene. The Vraja-devis became like lifeless statues, notbreathing or moving.The gopis whose hearts had already been stolen by Krsnastopped all sensory activity. As a flower that falls from thetree-branch becomes lifeless, similarly the gopis nowseemed deprived of their life-force.Somehow or another, they came to Nanda-bhavana. Theyknew Krsna would leave from that gate in the morning.“We will not let him leave,” they thought. At that time, theveil of secrecy that usually kept society blind to their deeplove for Krsna was gone and they began to cryuncontrollably. They became like a person deprived of hisgreatest treasure, or like mothers whose sons had just died.“O Creator,” they said, “how could You be so hard-hearted?What is this arrangement of Yours? Why are You killingus?”yas tvam pradarsyasita-kuntalavrtamMukunda-vaktram su-kapolam un-nasamsokapanoda-smita-lesa-sundaramkarosi paroksyam asadhu te krtamSrimad-Bhagavatam 10.39.20“Having shown us the face of Mukunda, framed by darklocks of hair and beautified by His shining cheeks, raisednose, and charming smiles, which destroy all misery, Youwill now make that face invisible to us. This behavior ofYours is not good at all.”The gopis were not worried that Krsna may be harmed byKamsa. That is not why they were distressed. They knewthat Krsna’s heart was very soft and that as soon asVasudeva and Devaki saw Krsna they would offer theiraffection and prayers to Him and not allow Him to everreturn. They knew this would come to pass.The gopis continued, “O Providence, although You havecome here with the name Akrura, You are actually cruel(krura). It seems You have lost all sense, for You are takingaway what You once gave us. You are depriving us of thesole meaning to our eyes’ existence. You are suggesting tous to look at anything other than Krsna.“This destroyer (Akrura) has come and done his work inmere moments. In just a second he has stolen our life awayfrom us. Tomorrow morning our lives will be devoid ofmeaning. The songs, sweet words, and dancing ofMathura’s girls will arrest Krsna and keep Him theirforever.”Nanda Baba announced in Vraja that everyone shouldprepare to go to Mathura with presentations for Kamsa.“We will attend the Dhanusa-yajna and offer our respects toSiva Thakura as well as the king. The yajna takes place onSiva Ratri in front of Rangesvara, and there will be manyfestivities. Krsna and Balarama have requested by the kingto wrestle in his presence.”All arrangements were being made but the gopis of Vrajaalone considered their lives finished. They doubted, in fact,they were sure, that Krsna would never return. Why didthey have this doubt? Were they astrologers? Did they readthe stars to see the future? Why did they think like this?Nanda Baba is in vatsalya-rasa. He did not doubt the waythe gopis did. Because the depth of the gopis love is greaterthan that of those in vatsalya-rasa, the gopis consideredthemselves already lifeless and felt that Krsna would neverreturn to them after going to Mathura.The gopis knew that Krsna and Baladeva were very softhearted.If anyone in Mathura were to just offer them alittle love and service then they will come under theircontrol. The gopis thought, “If you give Krsna anything Hisheart melts; even if its just a little bit of butter or misri. Hedances for such simple in joy and eagerness loving gifts. InMathura there is so much opulence. The Mathura-vasis willgive Krsna many nice things and He will be arrested.”Do the gopis mean to say that Krsna is greedy? Not exactly.Krsna is not attracted to any gift itself but to love. When agift is given as a representation of love, Krsna must acceptit.“We Vrajavasis have nothing,” the gopis went on, “onlysome fruits, flowers, leaves, and go-rasa. The Yadavas andthe residents of Mathura, have so much wealth and are alsovery tricky. In Mathura, there are many young girls who arebeautiful and clever. They will come close to Krsna andcontrol Him. We simple girls of the forest of Vraja offeredour hearts to Krsna and He accepted them, why then wouldHe not accept the hearts of more qualified and expertgirls?”The truth is that, wherever there is deep love, there isdoubt. This is not the fault of a person with love; this isnatural. For example, when a child goes to school and isonly a little bit late to return, his parents think, “There musthave been an accident! Perhaps he was kidnapped!” Theydoubt in this way. But why? Why do they automaticallythink something bad has happened? Why do they not thinkpositively? This is nature. This kind of doubt comes handin-hand with deep affection.“When the Bhojas, Andhakas, Vrsnis, and others see Krsnathey will certainly be overjoyed and put on a big festival.They will rejoice—while we die.”Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura comments thatbecause Mahalaksmi is unable to enter Vrndavana she waswaiting just outside the border. The gopis thought that assoon as Krsna left Vrndavana, she would definitely make ahuge drama. With millions of different attractive svarupasshe will endeavor to steal Krsna’s heart. She sees Him asher Narayana, in whose heart she always resides.Laksmi-devi had been unable to accept Krsna’s conditionswhen she begged for entrance into Vrndavana. She couldnot tolerate the idea of being born from the womb of agopi, marrying a gopa, and becoming a servant of cows.But now her chance to meet with Krsna was coming. Thegopis said, “She has been waiting a long time for this. Shewill surely have many duplicitous plans and svarupas ofladies to enter His heart and arrest Him.”If people offer themselves to Krsna, Krsna accepts them.He cannot refuse them. This is His weakness. He evenaccepted the witch Putana as a mother. She offered herbreast milk to Him with the intention of poisoning Him, butdespite her ill-intentions, Krsna accepted that as service andgave her a permanent position and seva in relation to Him.Now Laksmi will steal Krsna from us, and such is ourmisfortune that we do not have any power born of tapa oryoga to protect ourselves from this robbery.”maitad-vidhasyakarunasya nama bhudakrura ity etad ativa darunahyo ‘sav anasvasya su-duhkhitam janampriyat priyam nenyati param adhvanahSrimad-Bhagavatam 10.39.26That merciless Akrura should not be called Akrura (notcruel), for he is in fact so cruel (krura) that without evenattempting to console the sorrowful Vrajavasis, he is takingKrsna, who is more dear to us than our very lives, awayfrom us.“O hard-hearted Akrura, you are rendering us shelterlessand indeed taking our lives. You are stealing our heart,intending to present it to Kamsa. No one is more cruel thanyou. We cannot revolt against Nanda Baba’s arrangement,so you must be sure to bring Krsna back. If you fail to dothis, then mark our words, you will realize our pain. Thefire in our hearts will continuously burn you. You willnever feel well for as long as you live. This pain that youare giving us today will come to you and will drive youmad. We are not just one or two gopis, we are millions. Youwill feel the pain of each and every one of us.”“Alas! Look! Krsna is already seated on the chariot, and thebullock carts of the cowherd men are following behind.What has happened to their intelligence? Why are theelders letting this happen? Have they gone mad? They willnot be able to bring Him back. They do not realize this.Indeed the creator is against us. Just see how Krsna’sfriends, headed by Sridama, are accompanying Him. Theydo not know that he won’t come back. They do not knowthat this Vraja-mandala will burn in the fire of our pain.Nothing here can remain without our Vraja-jivana.”The gopis were normally shy and would never approachKrsna in front of everyone, but they decided now to all gobefore Him and stop Him from going. “If we cannot stopHim, then at least we will have seen Him this one last time.If we do not see Him in the last moments of our life thenwe will not be able to be with Him in our next life.”“We must stop Him,” they thought. Then they surroundedthe chariot on which Krsna-Baladeva and Akrura wereseated and pleaded with Krsna to not to leave them. Theycast off all fear of what society would think of them. Theydid not care if the consequence for such behavior waspunishment or criticism. This is called anuraga.Who can explain the suffering of the gopis at this time. Thesame Krsna used to smile at them as they crossed paths. Atthose times, He would give them hints about the agreedplace where He would meet with them. Today, here.Tomorrow, there. He enjoyed rasa with them for an entirenight of Brahma, and He had many other loving exchangeswith them in Vraja-mandala’s many caves and groves andby the waterfalls and streams. How was it possible thattoday this would all be over? How could this relationshipbe broken? How could life ever return to them? How couldthey ever speak with anyone apart from Him? When theirlives and hearts were completely filled with love for Krsna,how could they tolerate Him leaving them?yo ‘hnah knaye vrajam Ananta-sakhah paritogopair visan khura-rajas-churitalaka-srakvenum kvanan smita-katakna-niriknanenacittam kninoty amum rte nu katham bhavemaSrimad-Bhagavatam 10.39.30“How can we survive without that friend of Ananta, Krsna, who, in the company of the cowherd boys, would return to Vraja in the evening, His hair and flower-garland covered with the dust raised by hooves of the cows? As He played on His flute and cast His sidelong glances at us, he captivated our mind.” (click on the Title to read the full article)

PRAY TO THE TUTOR’S OF SEVA-KUNJA

The ears are very restless and always try to hear different sounds, but if just once we hear the jingling sound of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī’s anklebells, we will lose all desire to hear mundane sounds. That sound bestows supreme auspiciousness. śaśakabhṛd-abhisāre netra-bhṛṅāñcalābhyāṁ       diśi vidiśi bhayenodghūrṇitābhyāṁvanāni kuvalaya-dala-kośāny eva klptāni yābhyāṁ       kim u kila kalanīyo devi tābhyāṁ jano ‘yamVilāpa-kusumāñjali 13 O Devī, with the two bumblebees of the corners of Your eyes, which in the moonlit rendezvous anxiously wander over each direction as if the forest were a jungle of blue lotuses, will You glance upon this person? Śrīmatī Rādhārānī is so effulgent that Her brilliance increases the light of the full moon, making it difficult to move secretly through the forest. Rādhārānī’s eyes move restlessly, searching, “Where is that blue lotus? Is He close or far away? Which kuñja is He in? Maybe He is hiding close by. Will that blue lotus attack Me on the way?”Dāsa Gosvāmī says, “Don’t worry, we are guarding the pathway. He is far away, waiting anxiously for Your arrival, listening for any sound of Your approach. He is thinking about You and chanting Your mantra.”On the dark moon night Srimati Radharani is difficult to see. She dresses completely in black and walks on a hidden path through the forest, staying close to dark Tamāla trees and other plants and creepers on Her way to the kuñja-kuṭīra.Dāsa Gosvāmī says, “My eyes are greedy for Your darśana; I am waiting for Your mercy. I am Your insignificant maidservant. Is Your darśana possible for me with these eyes?”Sādhakas engage in bhajana. We go to Guru-pāda-padma with a desire for hari-kathā and guru-sevā, but there are many cheaters and dacoits waiting to pounce on us: asad-vārtā-veśyā visṛja mati-sarvasva-haraṇīḥ     kathā mukti-vyāghryā na śṛṇu kila sarvātma-gilanīḥapi tyaktvā lakṣmī-pati-ratim ito vyoma-nayanīm     vraje rādhā-kṛṣṇau sva-rati-maṇi-dau tvaṁ bhaja manaḥManah-siksha 4 asac-ceṣṭā-kaṣṭa-prada-vikaṭa-pāśālibhir iha      prakāmaṁ kāmādi-prakaṭa-pathapāti-vyatikaraiḥgale baddhvā hanye ’ham iti bakabhid vartmapa-gaṇe      kuru tvaṁ phutkārān avati sa yathā tvāṁ mana itaḥManah-siksha 5Many cheaters and dacoits, internal and external; mundane people and lust, anger, greed, madness are waiting on both sides, not wanting to give us a chance to hear hari-kathā and serve. If we are not distracted and go directly towards Srimati Radharani, then Kṛṣṇa will help us and will show us the pathway to meet with Śrīmatī Rādhārānī. By chanting Rādhārānī’s holy names Kṛṣṇa will arrange everything to help you progress.Dāsa Gosvāmī says, “Srimati Radharani is Vṛndāvaneśvarī. For a long time I have been waiting to attain Her service. Now I understand that Rūpa Mañjarī has opened a training center in Vṛndāvana. Before, I had no guardian. I had not offered myself, then who would teach me and make me qualified? Who would help me? I did not know, but now I understand. Rūpa Mañjarī will help me. And even though I have no strong desire for service, she will give greed, strength, and anurāga.”There are two types of service: by duty and by love. Anything you do by love is accepted. Service performed out of a sense of duty has no sweetness. Sometimes you do it, but carelessly, with a mood of neglect. One house has many servants. The servants come and perform their duty and thereafter run away. There are many tutors ready to teach and many guardians to train us, but they have no love. Therefore the students never learn anything. Why do people come to Gurudeva and Vaiṣṇavas—to learn the process of loving service in Sevā-kuñja, under guidance of the Vraja-devīs.Dāsa Gosvāmī prays, “O Vṛndāvaneśvarī, I had no idea before about my guardian who would accept me, who would not only tell me my faults, but who would help change my faulty nature and bring me back from the wrong path, who would be kind and very sweet to me, who is helpful for me. In this world everyone looks for faults but cannot give good qualities. But who is very kind, soft, and helpful? Who doesn’t neglect, kick, torture, and throw me out? Love has the power to transform, but the process of love is crooked—helping sometimes by neglect, sometimes by acceptance, and sometimes indirectly.”Śrīla Gurudeva has appeared at a distance and from there he is watching, “Who are the real followers of my principles, my rules and regulations? Are they following or not?” Kṛṣṇa is eternal; Gurudeva is eternal. They arrange Vaiṣṇavas to help. They are the abodes of mercy, but we don’t realize how kind they are.Anything we watch with mundane eyes will cheat us. For example, one person is chanting harinama, and is internally serving Girirāja Govardhana. His eyes are open and he is sitting in one place, but he is doing parikramā of Girirāja Govardhana within. He is praying, singing, doing abhiśeka, cooking, offering bhoga, decorating the pathway with flowers, and distributing prasāda. But ordinary people think that he is only sitting, doing nothing. They tell him, “Hey rascal, go do some work.” They tell it to him twenty times but he doesn’t answer; he can’t even hear this.If your eyes can’t cross māyā, then how can you understand the nature of that transcendental realm?In this Sevā-kuñja, you must not think that there are only monkeys and it is a dirty place where there are some thorn trees. If you have real knowledge, you will pray and wait for service in the eternal Sevā-kuñja. You will pray to the tutors of Sevā-kuñja: Rūpa Manjari, Lavanga Mañjarī, Vilāsa Mañjarī, Rati Mañjarī, Rasa Mañjarī, Vinoda Mañjarī… They are helpers, like nurses, knowing how to give treatment and make us strong and healthy. Gradually, they will teach us and help us learn something. Then we won’t look towards māyā. This is possible when we develop attachment to Rādhārānī’s lotus feet. The Vraja-devīs offer pollen, reddish kuṁkum, and alta everyday on Rādhārānī’s feet. The love of their heart is the reddish color of anurāga. yadavadhi mama kañcin mañjarī rūpa-pūrvā     vraja-bhuvi bata netra-dvandva-dīptiṁ cakāratadavadhi bata vṛndāraṇya-rājñi prakāmaṁ     caraṇa-kamala-lakṣā-sandidṛkṣā mamābhūtVilāpa-kusumāñjali 14 O queen of Vṛndāvana, since Rūpa Mañjarī filled my eyes with light in the land of Vraja, I have yearned to see the red lac decorating Your lotus feet. If one drop of that kuṁkum touches our body, or if we have a desire to see that and we pray for that, then it is possible to attain Her mercy, and to understand who is favorable and helpful. Then we will make a relation with Her group and group leaders. Rays of love will come from Her lotus feet, and with that love we will be able to understand. Otherwise many cheaters come, trying to make relation with us. Many boys and girls come as thieves and cheaters to steal our blood, but don’t look at them. We can stop this by becoming one-pointed to Rādhārānī’s lotus feet and praying to Her. anayārādhito nūnaṁ      bhagavān harir īśvaraḥyan no vihāya govindaḥ      prīto yām anayad rahaḥŚrīmad-Bhāgavatam 10.30.28 Srimati Radharani has power to attract even the all-attractive Kṛṣṇa, who worships Her, chanting Her mantra, only to obtain a little of Her mercy and blessings. yadā tava sarovaraṁ sarasa-bhṛṅga-saṅghollasat-        saroruha-kulojjvalaṁ madhura-vāri-sampūritamsphuṭat-sarasijākṣi he nayana yugma-sākṣād-babhau        tadaiva mama lālasājani tavaiva dāsye raseVilāpa-kusumāñjali 15O Devī, whose eyes are as beautiful as two blossoming lotus flowers, when Your lake, filled with sweet water, and splendid with many blossoming lotus flowers and buzzing bees, appeared before my eyes, I at once began to yearn for the nectar of direct service to You. When the sun rises, lotuses gradually blossom. My heart and soul is in a dark and dirty place, but the light of Śrīla Gurudeva and the Vaiṣṇavas’ mercy will open my spiritual eyes.Dāsa Gosvāmī says, “In the early morning, a bumblebee goes near flowers and sings. The bumblebee Kṛṣṇa goes in the early morning and sings.” How does Kṛṣṇa sing? Like Rāmānanda Rāya sings: kalayati nayanaṁ diśi diśi valitampaṅkajam iva mṛdu-māruta-calitam Rādhā’s eyes move in all directions like a lotus moving in a gentle breeze. Kṛṣṇa sings like this. He is a bumblebee, attached to Rādhārānī’s glories; this is His only drink. Without singing Her glories He can’t be happy.What does the Guru-varga distribute? Rice, dal, medicine, cloth? No! This is only temporary relief. But the soul is not temporary. Without transcendental rasa the soul can never attain its own position. It gets one uniform after another, like that of an elephant, horse, camel, or human. The soul cannot attain its permanent svarūpa without the help of sādhus. To distribute that transcendental rasa, Śrīla Gurudeva, the Vaiṣṇavas, and Kṛṣṇa Himself sing the glories of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī. Dāsa Gosvāmī Prabhu prays for this.In Vraja-maṇḍala, Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu is always very busy. People think he is a sādhu with no room and work. What does he do day and night?Like my Guru Mahārāja, nitya-līlā-praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda aśtottara-śata Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktidevānta Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja. In his last two years, he practically stopped talking, eating, and sleeping. His sevaka requested, “Take some prasāda, Guru Mahārāja,” but he wouldn’t accept. When they requested him again and again, he said, “I am very busy, I have no time to eat anything or talk with you.”“But Guru Mahārāja, what are you doing that keeps you so busy?”“On one side Ṭhākurānī is giving me many instructions, and on the other side my Gurudeva is giving me instructions for service. I have no time to spare. What should I do? I have no time to eat, talk or do anything in this world.”How can people understand the activities and position of sādhus? Therefore Dāsa Gosvāmī Prabhu is saying, “I came to Vraja-maṇḍala and met with Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu, and saw that he is very busy, day and night, distributing the nectar of Vraja-maṇḍala. How can I accept that? Please teach and help me. Give me power to accept this and take away all desire to accept anything else. May I have greed only to collect this unnata-ujjvala-rasa. Having come to Vraja-maṇḍala, may I forget everything else.”

WHAT TO MEDITATE ON WHEN CHANTING HARE KRSNA MANTRA?

We first chant: Hare Kṛṣṇa. When chanting the first pair of holy names in the mahāmantra, the sādhaka should remember the essence of the first verse of Śikṣāṣṭakam, beginning with Ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanam. We then pray, “O Hare! Please purify my contaminated mind and heart. Remove my sinful tendencies and prārabdha-aprārabdha-karma and bring me to the lotus feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. O Kṛṣṇa! Kindly bring me into the guidance of Your associates. May this perpetual forest fire of material life cease at once.“Mercifully offer me into the shelter of Lalitā-devī. If she accepts me into her group, then surely Viśākhā-devī will think about my śreyaḥ, highest good, and will instruct me. Citrā-devī, the presiding deity of parā-vidyā, will bestow upon me all transcendental knowledge. I will then understand how to serve Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa and will accept Them as my life and soul. Campakalatā-sakhī will happily teach me how to increase the bliss, ānanda, of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. Tuṅgavidyā-sakhī will protect and look after me at every step, prati-padaṁ, and will show me how to engage at every moment in assisting the amorous pastimes of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa in the groves of Vraja—nikuñja-yūno rati-keli-siddhyai. Then, by the instruction of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, Indulekhā, Raṅgadevī, and Sudevī will submerge me in ānanda-rasa and engage me in service. The aṣṭa-sakhīs in this way will teach me how to serve and offer myself to the lotus feet of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. Kṛṣṇa will then accept me and prema-nāma-saṅkīrtana will manifest in my heart.” The sādhaka prays, “O Hare, Srimatījī, please engage me in Your service and give me the qualification to perform kṛṣṇa-kīrtana.”The second verse of Śikṣāṣṭakam, nāmnām akāri bahudhā nija-sarva-śaktis, corresponds to the second Hare Kṛṣṇa set in the mahāmantra. During this time of the day, in the morning after His breakfast, Kṛṣṇa goes with the sakhās and calves to the forest on go-cāraṇa. Go means the cows and also the senses. Kṛṣṇa engages the senses of that person who is absorbed in nāma-seva. He takes them out of the forest fire of material existence and brings them into the forest of Vraja. Kṛṣṇa bestows spiritual potency to the nāma-premī-jīvas and gives them acquaintance with and affection for His eternal associates. The sādhaka prays, “O Hare! Please empower me so that I can properly serve the dear associates of Kṛṣṇa with mamatā. O Kṛṣṇa! May I always improve in my services; may I become more and more enthusiastic to serve with all my senses, body, mind, and soul.”While remembering the third verse of Śikṣāṣṭakam, tṛṇād-api sunīcena, we chant “Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa” and pray, “O Lord, please make me humbler than a blade of grass. May I never leave Vraja and the service of the Vrajavāsīs, harināma, and Your beloved Srimatījī. May I never be haunted by the desire for opulence or eagerness to go to Vaikuṇṭha or any other place than Vraja. May I give up all anyābhilāṣa and simply take shelter of the gopīs. Then I can achieve Your nitya-sevā. O Kṛṣṇa, please let me continually serve You. Help me to remain humble and without any possession other than attachment to the service of Your lotus feet and the association of Your dearest devotees. I pray to You that I give up all independence and false pride, which has resulted in my current fallen condition in material existence. May I develop compassion and freedom from desire for regard from others and may I honor all others according to their position. Only then will I be able to perform Your kīrtana.”As we chant the fourth pair of names ‘Hare Hare’ we remember the fourth verse of Śikṣāṣṭakam: na dhanaṁ na janaṁ na sundarīm, and pray to Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, “O Hare! O dearmost beloved of Kṛṣṇa who steals His mind and heart, please let my mind and heart always serve You in the company of Your maidservants. Please don’t deprive me of Your service. Since countless lives I have accepted the gifts of māyā and, considering them to be my own, I have struggled to enjoy separately from Kṛṣṇa. Now may I give this up entirely. O Hare! May I receive the mercy of Your mañjarīs. Let them grant me entrance into kuñja-sevā.”We then chant, ‘Hare Rāma’ and, remembering the fifth verse of Śikṣāṣṭakam, ayi nanda-tanuja kiṅkaraṁ, pray, “O Rādhikā-Ramaṇa-Rāma, You play in the hearts of Your beloveds and dwell within all living entities. O Rādhe! May Your sweet pastimes with Kṛṣṇa appear one after the other in my heart. I have fallen in the dark well of material life. May I become free of this bondage and never again be conquered by the agents of māyā. Without Your help I cannot escape this fearsome saṁsāra. O Rādhe! Please give me adhikāra and taste for serving in Your amorous pastimes with Kṛṣṇa.”As we chant the next pair of names in the mahāmantra, ‘Hare Rāma,’ we remember the sixth verse of Śikṣāṣṭakam, nayanaṁ-galad-aśru-dhārayā, and we pray, while weeping, “O Lord, You are my life and soul. I forgot You and have committed so many offenses. Please forgive me and mercifully allow me to enter Your rāsa-līlā. May I become completely absorbed in chanting Your names. At that time, I will take shelter of Your līlā-śakti and serve, imbued with rasa that is otherwise unattainable without Your mercy. I am unqualified, a great sinner, and offender. I have left You and given You so much pain. I have misused the wealth of my love and shared it with so many jīvas. Now I pray that I can offer everything, all my love, to You. Please give me a drop of spiritual emotion and thus save my life. Please play and dance in my heart. Kindly grant me entrance into vraja-rasa.”Next comes ‘Rāma Rāma’, and we now remember the seventh verse of Śikṣāṣṭakam, yugāyitaṁ nimeṣeṇa cakṣuṣā pravṛṣāyitam: after countless lives apart from Kṛṣṇa, if we make relationship with Him once, then we become overwhelmed in divine love and at every moment desire to serve Him and see Him. If we are apart from Him for even a few moments, it seems like the greatest agony. The world appears void. Our condition becomes like the gopīs’ when Kṛṣṇa left the Rāsa dance. After one’s first time meeting with Kṛṣṇa, when there is separation, the pain of that is unsurpassed. One prays, “O Kṛṣṇa, O Rādhā-Ramaṇa, Rasika-mohana, Rāsa-rasika, Vrajendra-nandana, please accept me. Don’t forsake me. I am unqualified. I have nothing of worth. Just please give me Your darśana one more time.”While chanting the final pair of names in the mahāmantra, ‘Hare Hare’ we remember the eighth and last verse of Śikṣāṣṭakam, and pray, “O Hare, O Rādhe! You may do as You like with me. I completely surrender to You. Beat me or reject me—as You wish. I am so wretched. Kṛṣṇa may scorn me in front of His beloveds, He may kick or forsake me, but I will never take shelter of any other. O Rādhe! O Kṛṣṇa! I am Yours. I am Yours. I am Yours.” Praying like this, one chants harināma with deep absorption.This description of the moods when praying and chanting the mahāmantra in relation to Śikṣāṣṭakam is only a glimpse—a distant darśana, like śākhā-candra-nyāya, the logic of pointing out the moon on the branch. By strong spiritual practice we will experience these moods and fully appreciate them. We pray to Mahāprabhu because without His mercy we will not be able to chant the mahāmantra purely with these moods. We pray to Nāma Prabhu that He manifests His eightfold daily pastimes in our hearts. Then we will understand the deep meanings of the mahāmantra in connection with aṣṭa-kālīya-līlā and will become qualified to enter kṛṣṇa-līlā. Chanting of this mahāmantra, which is composed of 16 names, or eight pairs of names, is the only method to enter Vraja. Chanting the mahāmantra qualifies one to attain vraja-rasa and vraja-vāsa, the nectar of Vraja and residence in Vraja.We therefore pray, “Hare Kṛṣṇa! Please give me Your mercy. Please offer me to the lotus feet of a sad-guru. By his mercy my contaminated mind will be purified and I will always stay in sādhu-saṅga. Thus my anarthas will gradually be washed away, and as I follow the process of bhajana I will gradually attain the stages of niṣṭhā, ruci, āsakti, bhāva, and prema. Then truly I will understand paraṁ vijayate śrī-kṛṣṇa-saṇkīrtanam—the extraordinary nature and potency of the holy names.”By chanting these names, the anurāgī-bhaktas will give us shelter and help us realize how nāma is cintāmaṇi, transcendentally wish-fulfilling, rasa-vigraha, the embodiment of nectar, pūrṇaḥ śuddho, spotlessly pure, and non-different from Kṛṣṇa Himself. When we remember these names and chant them with absorption, then Kṛṣṇa’s rasa-svarūpa will manifest in our hearts along with His līlā-rasa.All Vedic scriptures and saints have described the glories and specialty of Śrī Nāma. Śrī Tulasī Dāsa said:nāma le to bhava sindhu sukaivicār karo to sujana manomahiA supremely fortunate person comes into the association of a pure guru who grants him kṛṣṇa-nāma. Śrī Nāma appears in this world through five eternal principles, or the pañca-tattva, and with six types of śakti. Of His unlimited potencies, the Lord manifests specifically in six forms for the benefit of the fallen jīvas. Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Adi-līlā 1.32, states:kṛṣṇa, guru, bhakta, śakti, avatāra, prakāśakṛṣṇa ei chaya-rūpe karena vilāsaŚrī Kṛṣṇa manifests and performs pastimes as the different gurus, the bhaktas, His incarnations, plenary portions, and divine potencies.For one who takes shelter of the harināma-mahāmantra, Mahāprabhu gives darśana of His eternal svarūpa and the qualification to serve Him in His own dhāma. This harināma-kīrtana is the supreme dharma of this age.Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya-līlā 7.11, states:kali-kālera dharma kṛṣṇa-nāma-saṅkīrtanakṛṣṇa-śakti vinā nahe tāra pravartanaOne cannot spread the holy name of Kṛṣṇa without being specifically empowered by Kṛṣṇa’s Divine Potency.Without Kṛṣṇa’s śakti we cannot purely chant or spread the glories of the holy names. We thus pray to svarūpa-śakti Śrīmatī Rādhikā for Her mercy. Only then will we receive the potency to easily perform kṛṣṇa-kīrtana. We pray to Her, “I am Yours, whether You give me mercy or neglect me, keep me close or send me far away. Whatever You do, I am Yours and will never give up my aspiration to serve You and remain in Your shelter.”In this way, we should pray to Śrīmatī Rādhikā and the Vraja-devīs with a burning desire to achieve their service. We should also pray to Nāma Prabhu. The harināma-mahāmantra composed of 32 syllables, 16 names, and eight pairs is the one and only sweet process to become connected to eternal Vraja and kṛṣṇa-līlā. By following this rasa-upāsana we can become connected to the transcendental realm and līlā-rasa. We will thus become free of the attraction to jaḍa-rasa, material tastes. For countless lives we have been bewildered and attached to material life. By continuously chanting harināma, the soul is nourished and freed of material coverings. One then becomes established in his spiritual form and achieves the opportunity to directly serve Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa and Their associates. Guru-pāda-padma and our Guru-varga give us this process.Herein we have only given an indication of the process of chanting and the connection between the mahāmantra and Śrī Śikṣāṣṭakam. By deeply practicing bhajana, we will experience the transcendental reality directly. (click on title to see more)

HOW AND WHEN DID SRILA GURUDEVA SEE THE DIVINE FORMS OF CAITANYA MAHAPRABHU AND ASSOCIATES?

As is Vaiṣṇava custom for any appearance day of the Lord, Śrīla Gurudeva fasted on Gaura-pūrṇimā, along with the rest of the devotees congregated at Devānanda Gauḍīya Maṭha. From morning to evening, the Caitanya-Bhāgavata and Caitanya-caritāmṛta were recited before the assembly, with special emphasis given on the reasons for the Lord’s advent.When the moon began to rise in Navadvīpa, the assembled devotees sang the hymn recounting the birth of Lord Caitanya as Acaryadeva bathed the Deity of Mahāprabhu with milk, yogurt, clarified butter, honey, sugar, water, and fragrant oils. The devotees danced in bliss with their arms raised in unison, roaring, “Nitai-Gaura Haribol!” Some devotees played on trumpets and bugles, others on cymbals and drums, and others waved banners marked with the holy names. After garbing the Deity, Acarya Kesarī joined the kīrtaniyas (singers). Ecstatic symptoms manifested on his body as he danced in unbridled love of God. Mesmerized by the scene, Śrīla Gurudeva prayed for audience of Mahāprabhu and His associates. Suddenly, the material curtain covering the eternal spiritual abode lifted. Mahāprabhu appeared before Gurudeva’s eyes accompanied by Nityānanda Prabhu, Gadādhara Paṇḍa, Advaita Acarya, Śrīvāsa Paṇḍa, Sañjaya, Mukunda, and Vāsu Ghoṣa. Concealed to the ordinary observer, they danced in the courtyard of Devānanda Gauḍīya Maṭha to the sound of mahā-saṅkīrtana.Śrīla Gurudeva’s hairs stood on end, he wept and shivered uncontrollably, and then he fell senseless on the ground. By the mercy of his divine master, Gurudeva was able to observe Mahāprabhu and His associates. Śrī Guru thereby fulfills the heartfelt desire of the sincere aspirant. Seeing Gaura Nārāyaṇa fallen senseless, Acarya Kesarī lifted him on to his lap. Gurudeva slowly returned to consciousness. Once awake, Gurudeva wept, longing to see the Lord again. He said, “Guru Mahārāja, your mercy is endless. By your grace alone I have witnessed Mahāprabhu and Navadvīpa-dhāma. But now, due to my great misfortune, I am no longer able to see the beauty of Gaurāṅga Mahāprabhu.”Acarya Kesarī pacified him, “Be peaceful. Soon you will be able to always perceive Mahāprabhu’s saṅkīrtana.”From that day on Śrīla Gurudeva could not forget the beautiful form of Mahāprabhu; while chanting harināma or engaged in services, the scene of Mahāprabhu’s kīrtana remained fixed in his mind.After Gaura-pūrṇimā, Śrīla Gurudeva accompanied AcaryaKesarī and some close associates to various holy sites in Gauḍa-maṇḍala—the area in Bengal where Mahāprabhu performed His pastimes, which includes the appearance places of many exalted Vaiṣṇavas and associates of Mahāprabhu. They went to Śāntura, the residence of Ādvaita Acarya, and Phuliyā, where Haridāsa Ṭhākura resided. Next they went to Ambikā-kālanā, where Gaurīdāsa Paṇḍita worships the Deities of Gaura-Nityānanda that were created from a neem tree by the Lords’ Themselves when Gaurīdāsa Paṇḍa requested the Lords to always stay with him. Acarya Kesarī and Śrīla Gurudeva then went to Cāṭigrāma, the birth village of Mahāprabhu’s dear associates Puṇḍarīka Vidyānidhi, Caitanya Vallabha, Vāsudeva Datta, and Mukunda Datta. They then went to Ekacakrā-dhāma, the birthplace of Lord Nityānanda Prabhu, and next to Kaṭavā, where Nimāī Paṇḍa accepted sannyāsa from Keśava Bhāratī. Afterwards, they went to Śrīkhaṇḍa, where many eminent associates of Mahāprabhu took birth, such as: Narahari Sarakāra Ṭhākura, Mukunda Ṭhākura, Raghunandana, and Jagadānanda, to name a few. They finished their parikramā at Pānīhāṭī and Ādi Saptagrāma.Acarya Kesarī described the pastimes and glories of each place they went to. When Gurudeva heard the glories of Ādi Saptagrāma, the appearance place of Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī, he asked, “Why did renounced Vaiṣṇavas like Haridāsa Ṭhākura go to the house of Hiraṇya and Govardhana Majumadāra? After all, Mahāprabhu said, ‘Meeting with kings and royalty is like taking poison. Renounced Vaiṣṇavas never meet with such men.’ Despite this, we see that numerous Vaiṣṇavas in the renounced order went to the house of the aristocratic viceroy Govardhana. Why was this?”Acarya Kesarī explained, “Haridāsa Ṭhākura had no desire for wealth or anything material. He was niśkiñcana-akiñcana, completely neutral and free of mundane desires. Haridāsa Ṭhākura had the transcendental desire to meet with Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī, the son of Govardhana Majumadāra. Dāsa Gosvāmī came from the eternal world of Vraja-maṇḍala. In Mahāprabhu’s līlā he is Raghunātha, but in vraja-līlā he is Rati Mañjarī. Without Rati Mañjarī’s mercy, rati, attraction for Kṛṣṇa will not arise in one’s heart. Rati Mañjarī bestows anurāga and the desire for bhajana, bhakti, and a transcendental relation. At present, our rati is for our own senses. Without spiritual strength and attraction we are unable to transcend our material condition and enter the eternal realm.“Once Nityānanda Prabhu sat under a tree on the bank of the Gaṅga in Pānīhāṭī in the company of Śānanda Sena and thousands of bhaktas. Raghunātha came to meet Nityānanda Prabhu there and prostrated himself before the Lord from a distance. Nityānanda Prabhu called him forward, saying, ‘Thief! You have been hiding from Me; today I will give you a punishment. Now and forevermore you must serve all the Vaiṣṇavas.’ Nityānanda Prabhu placed both His feet on the head of Śrī Raghunātha and said, ‘The living beings are only truly helped when they receive vraja-rati. You must distribute this rati to not only the people that visit your home but to everyone. I have been thinking about pulina-bhojana—how Kṛṣṇa picnics with His friends on the bank of the Yamunā. Arrange prasāda at once for everyone here. This will please Me.’“Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī made all necessary arrangements with haste and ease. The love of svarūpa-śakti empowered him. He did not distribute just sweet yogurt, flat rice, and fruits that morning on the riverbank. In that festival, Rati Mañjarī distributed rati, loving attraction for Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. The medium was flat rice, ghee, fruit, yogurt, and so forth, but in truth he was not giving ordinary substances. On Lord Nityānanda’s order, he gave his pure heartfelt love to the devotees.Mahāprabhu directly manifested in the midst of that festival and Nityānanda Prabhu offered the preparations to Him first. Mahāprabhu gladly accepted that offering, prepared with rati and offered by Nityānanda Prabhu—the original guru of all. Afterwards, His prasāda was distributed to tens of thousands of eager recipients. All became full of bliss, receiving the rati distributed by Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī. Nityānanda Prabhu ordered Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī to never stop this service.”Gurudeva asked Acarya Kesarī, “Rati Mañjarī gave this vraja-rati; did not Prabhupāda Sarasvatī Ṭhākura—the emissary of svarūpa-śakti—also distribute this rati?”“Indeed he did.”“And you are also distributing this rati, Gurudeva?”“Yes,” Acaryadeva said with a smile, “those fortunate souls who have a ready vessel in their hearts all receive this rati.”“If I pray for this,” Gurudeva asked, “will the Guru-varga bestow  upon me?”“Yes, why wouldn’t they? If you beg for this with faith and respect, the merciful Guru-varga will certainly give it to you.”Acarya Kesarī indicated the occupation of sādhakas. “We are simple beggars,” he said. “Sādhakas visit the places of the Guru-varga and beg for vraja-rati from the ācāryas. If you seek charity from general people they may give one, five, or ten rupees, but they can’t give vraja-rati. They will engender viṣaya-rati, attainment for sense objects, and will try to make you their servant. Only the Guru-varga bestow pure love.”From that time on, Śrīla Gurudeva committed prayers of the Guru-varga to memory and repeated them daily in supplication:tavaivāsmi tavaivāsmi na jīvāmi tvayā vinā. (Click on the Title to read complete post)