[Excerpt from Srila Gurudeva: Around the World, U.K. 1996 (Radlett, 15 May), the second book in a series of volumes on Srila Gurudeva’s world preaching tours.]

Sukadeva Gosvami was the most obedient disciple. He employed many means that kindled everyone’s loving devotion to Krishna. He would sometimes speak crookedly, and not openly. He would not speak in a prominent way. He would speak on a topic that would specifically apply only to the householders, the message to the householders would carry a very deep meaning.

Krishna told the gopis, “You should return to your homes now that you have seen the beautiful scenery of this Vrindavana forest. The moon is shining radiantly, the water of the Yamuna is sparkling. All the peacocks and parrots are making such enchanting, sweet sounds! You have seen how lovely the forest is, but now you should return and serve your husbands.”

“You should serve your husbands even if they are crooked, lame, and ugly. They may also be very poor and bereft of all good qualities, but still, you should serve your husbands.” Do you know what the gopis’ reply was?

They replied, “We are ready to follow what You say, You are our teacher. You are the best of all teachers. We will follow exactly what You have to say, but You will also have to follow what You say. Or else, sin will touch You.”

“You have said, ‘Sarva dharmam parityajna mam ekam saranam vraja,’ You proclaim to be the husband and brother of all. You say, ‘I am all-in-all.’ The two slokas, ‘Isvarah parama Krishna, satcitananda vigraha, anadir adir govinda sarva karana karanam,’ and, ‘Ye yatha mam prapadyante, tams tathaiva bhajam aham,’ were also spoken by You. You say, ‘Those who serve Me, I reciprocally serve them. If they serve me by only a fraction of their hearts, I also serve them by only a fraction of My heart.’”

The gopis continued, “Now, You are going back on Your words, You should not do so. You must follow what You have proclaimed. Now, You are our guru, and guru must be worshiped before anyone else. So, we will worship and serve You first, and You must accept our service. Otherwise, You will be guilty of committing sin and You will face difficulties. We know that You are the husband of all. Hence, You are our husband also. So, we should serve You even if you are lame, ugly, or black. We must serve You.”

So, Krishna was defeated by the gopis’ arguments.

Krishna told the yajna-patnis (the wives of the brahmanas of Mathura), “Return to your husbands,” and the yajna-patnis went away. But, the gopis did not return to their husbands.

So, Sukadeva Gosvami has spoken directly at times, and indirectly at other times. Only the bona fide devotees who sincerely serve their holy master and Rasik Vaisnavas, can understand and follow the import of his statements. Or else, they will be unable to understand. And for many lives, they will be in the same class of devotion and their bhakti will turn dry. Consequently, they will give up the line of devotion. Bhakti is like a current, if a dam is made and placed before this current, the current will be checked and stopped. So, our bhakti should always flow like a forceful current and this current should not be stopped by any obstacles. Svamiji and our Guruvarga embody this dynamic current of bhakti.

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