Interview with Satyaraja Prabhu

Interview with Satyaraja Prabhu

Oh, I had been wanting to meet him for years. Several dear friends, in whom I put a lot of trust, had told me about him, that he was not only a mystic and very knowledgeable, but that he was a sweet individual, giving of his time, and always engaged in service. I just had to meet him. And you were there when we first met. You saw it. We hit it off immediately. He took me into his room and I asked him all my longstanding questions, and we told each other about our lives, and our work, and we really bonded. I’m sure most people feel that way with him. How can you not?! [laughter] But this was really special. I briefly wrote about it in that coffee-table picture book about my travels in India. I gave you a copy last time I was there. Radhe Kunj is now a non-negotiable stop for me in Vrindavan. I can’t imagine going there without seeing Prabhuji!

Truthfully, when you’re there, at Radhe Kunj, you feel, “To hell with this sanga or that sanga. To hell with external affiliation. Give me bhakti, give me seva, give me Radhika!” [laughter] At the end of the day, that’s what we all thirst for, isn’t it?! He gave me all his books, and you continue to do that, kindly. I really appreciate it. His books are a wealth of information, and I can feel Gurudeva in his books…

Part 2 WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO MAKE A RELATIONSHIP WITH VRAJA RASA?

Part 2 WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO MAKE A RELATIONSHIP WITH VRAJA RASA?

Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura explains that Krsna began to dance in such a way, that it appeared as if there was no one else there but Him. He was in His own form, but He manifested many other forms. These forms were all non-different and inseparable from Krsna, even though they all had their own individual forms.

Krsna danced with all of them and exhibited ‘hasa-parihasa’, joking, laughing, playing, singing, dancing and embracing. Krsna played in these loving affairs with the Gopis, just like little children play with one another. In this way Krsna was playing and dancing with His own expansions or reflections.

The Gopi’s vilasa or loving exchange, is manifested through Krsna’s svarupa-sakti, Divine potency, and they are inseparable. The rasa play of dancing and singing is a manifestation of the soul’s divine play with the Lord and is not any kind of ordinary play.

THE GOPIS BECOME ‘KRSNA-MAYA’

Sukadeva Goswami said; “Oh Pariksit Maharaja being touched by the limbs of Sri Krsna the Gopis senses became overwhelmed with love and ecstasy. Krsna touched them by putting His hand on their shoulders or head while playing of His flute. They also witnessed His supremely beautiful face and became so absorbed in Sri Krsna that they were completely ‘Krsna-maya’, fully immersed in Sri Krsna. They lost all awareness of their cloth, their bodies, their senses and anything that was with them. They could not maintain or take care of anything. They were so absorbed in Sri Krsna that they forgot their own bodies. Their ornaments were also slipping and falling off. They forgot where they were and what they were doing. Through this ‘vilasa’ loving exchange, each Vraja-devi became ‘vyakula’ , submerged in the rasa dance. Each Gopi forgot completely where her cloth was, her ornaments, bracelets, ankle bells, where her chaddar was, the waist belt, and the garland she had been wearing. In the midst of this ‘ananda-rasa’, everything was forgotten.”

THE DEMIGODS BEWILDERED

As long as we do not receive the mercy of Sri Guru, we will always be externally absorbed in this world and its affairs. By the touch and the vision of Sri Krsna, our absorption will be pulled away from maya, and we will become completely absorbed in the Lord to the extent that we completely forget everything else. The demigods and their goddesses seeing Sri Krsna’s rasa-lila from their airplanes, along with the moon and all the stars, became completely bewildered and stunned seeing this. They were all thinking, “Will we ever be able to meet Sri Krsna, the Supreme Lord like this?”

Sridhara Swami explains that seeing the situation of the Vraja-sundaris, the wives of the demigods became bewildered and thought, “How can we also meet with Krsna like this?” Thinking about this, and having His darsana they fell unconscious. Why? The Lord’s mercy and His potency are very powerful. If it touches someone it does not allow any material thought or object to remain with that person, everything is washed away. Material objects have no connection to this ‘aprakrta-rasa’ transcendental nectar. Simply by thinking of Krsna they fell senseless. The stars and the moon all became bewildered and fixed in their places. For the whole night of Brahma lasting billions and billions of years, they did not move being transfixed in Krsna’s rasa-dance. When Krsna began to dance during the rasa-lila, it lasted for the entire night of Lord Brahma which is 311 trillion years.

ONLY THE GOPIS HAD THE QUALIFICATION TO PARTICIPATE

Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura says ‘vikriditam’, what is the nature of this play? Because of lack of qualification we have become very far from Krsna. When we become the objects of Sri Krsna’s divine mercy, we will go to Him and not have any memory of, “Who I am, what I am doing, where am I, and what is the nature of my body and senses?” The Gopis were dancing without any knowledge of this for the entire night of Lord Brahma, which is equal to 1000 catur-yugas and after the night passed, they all returned to their homes.

The Lord’s potency, ‘Yogamaya’, initiates these pastimes and also concludes them, preparing for the next pastimes. However not everyone was able to be present. Some did not have enough sadhana with which they were able to participate, like the moon and the stars. All these planets and stars are presided over by different personalities, and they were not able to enter the rasa-dance. They were fixed, motionless. They became bewildered by Krsna’s ‘mohan-vidya’ bewildering power, and could not enter these pastimes.

Sri Krsna’s loving affairs with the Vraja-sundaris was not anything ordinary, and even the demigods were not eligible to participate. No one had achieved the ‘adhikara’ (qualification), except for the Vraja-gopis. By Yogamaya’s arrangement, Krsna didn’t have the mood of ‘purusha bhava’ – the mood of an enjoyer. He was just experiencing Himself as a young boy mixing and dancing with His beloveds. Even though He was in the midst of millions and millions of Gopis Sri Krsna is ‘atmarama’ and ‘aptakama’, fully self satisfied and pleased within Himself.

The maidens who prayed to Katyayani:

kātyāyani mahā-māye
mahā-yoginy adhīśvari
nanda-gopa-sutaṁ devi
patiṁ me kuru te namaḥ

They said, “Oh Mahamaya, Goddess of Illusion, Oh Srimati Radhika, please make that son of Nanda my husband or my beloved.”

Krsna told them at the end of Katyayani vrata, “Oh ‘abala’ ladies, – your desire will be fulfilled. Don’t worry, soon I will meet with all of you, so now return.” Krsna took such a wonderful form, like the crest jewel of all beauty, and danced with all the Gopis. During the ‘Brahma-vimohana-lila’, Krsna stayed with the Gopis for one year as the Gopas – the cowherd boys, but they were not satisfied by this. All the sakhas present were actually Sri Krsna, in this way the Gopis received their long, cherished desire to have Krsna as their husband. They had all married the various sakhas, but still they were not satisfied. Therefore, Krsna called them on a full moon night, and for the entire night of Lord Brahma, He danced and played with them. Sri Krsna is the embodiment of all compassion and mercy, and He appeared like an ordinary human being. Krsna was not only in one form, but He appeared in millions and millions of forms.

It is said ‘gopa yosita’, no one else had the eligibility to meet with Sri Krsna in this way, except for the Vraja-gopis. The daughters of the gopas who had come to the rasa dance were all young maidens – ‘kisoris’, and were decorated with all rasas to a fullest extent. Therefore, they could understand Sri Krsna’s, ‘rupa-madhurya, guna-madhurya, lila-madhurya, venu-madhurya and prema-madhurya’. They could realize and taste the sweetness of Sri Krsna’s form, beauty, flute playing, and loving exchanges. After perfection or ‘siddhi’, a sadhaka will also have acquaintance with these various kinds of sweetness’s, that Sri Krsna has only in Vraja. After Krsna completely surcharged the Gopis with this rasa, He danced and met with them. Therefore, Krsna is known as ‘Acyuta’ – infallible.

KRSNA REJUVENATES THE GOPIS

Sukadeva Goswami said, “Oh Pariksit Maharaja, the dancing and singing in the Rasa-dance continued on for a very long time, and the Gopis became covered in perspiration and became slightly tired and exhausted. Then with so much love, Sri Krsna, with His soft, fragrant and beautiful lotus hands, began to wipe the perspiration from the Gopis foreheads and faces with His chaddar. In this way, He showed His love for them and rejuvenated them. Sri Krsna always knew how to free them from any type of exhaustion or tiredness.

By Sri Krsna’s touch the Gopis became rejuvenated and completely satisfied in ‘ananda-rasa’. Out of love, they began to say something and He then began to fan them, gave them His own tambula remnants of pan from His mouth, and applied sandalwood paste to their foreheads.

Part 1-WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO MAKE A RELATIONSHIP WITH VRAJA RASA?

Part 1-WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO MAKE A RELATIONSHIP WITH VRAJA RASA?

Krsna thought, “My sadhaka may engage in spiritual practice for many millions of lifetimes, and after that he may be able to achieve perfection by taking birth in Vraja or getting the qualification to stay in Vraja. However, if he does not make a relationship with Vraja-rasa and the Vrajavasis, then he will not be able to understand Me or come near Me.” Bhagavan Himself decided to distribute this rasa through rasa-lila. Krsna was dancing, singing, playing on His flute and meeting with everyone and by this He gave rasa.

PARAMATMA HELPS THE SADHAKA

The Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead is present within the hearts of all living entities as Paramatma. But the Lord does not reveal His form as Paramatma, nor does He manifest His qualities and names, He is always neutral and peaceful. He is present everywhere in a neutral manner.

When the practitioner begins his spiritual practice, he will gradually understand Paramatma and Visnu-tattva, ‘the indwelling witness in the heart’. Paramatma’s primary function will be to help the sadhaka make spiritual progress. If someone worships the ‘para-vasta’ avatars such as Rama, Narayana, Nrsinghadeva or Krsna, then Paramatma will personally help them progress towards their ultimate attainment. The Lord Himself will come, and through ‘rasa’, will fulfill and satisfy them, making them effulgent. He fully decorates the sadhaka, giving them all eligibility for His service.

BUMBLEBEES PARTICIPATE IN THE RASA DANCE

In Vrindavan the Lord Himself initiated the rasa dance. ‘Kamala’, lotus flowers, were decorating the hair and ears of the Gopis. Their braided hair was swinging back and forth and the faces of the Gopis were beautifully decorated with flowers. When Krsna was dancing in the rasa-mandala, the Gopis ankle bells were chiming, and as Krsna was beautifully dancing, so were the Gopis. Even the bumblebees were singing so sweetly, wanting to participate in the symphony of music of the rasa dance.

In Vrindavan the bumblebees drink nectar from the various flowers, and when they saw the wonderful dancing of Krsna and the Gopis, they also wanted to sing and dance. They think, “I will also participate in this wonderful symphony of music.” Even though the bumblebees seem to be without rational thought, still they became maddened by the nectar of the rasa dance and wanted to participate.

Sridhara Swami explains that the bumblebees made a very sweet sound like the drone of a tambura, in this way, they assisted in the rasa dance symphony. The residents of the heavenly realm also came to witness the rasa dance. Seeing the rasa dance, they became overwhelmed. Even though they could not understand anything externally, still their hearts became filled with love for Krsna.

During the Rasa-dance the singers were the Gandharvas and the Kinnaras. These heavenly performers became intoxicated and senseless by the attractive performance of Sri Krsna and the Gopis. Even without an invitation, they would instinctively come. When the Vraja-devis danced, their ankle bells, waste-belts and bracelets all resounded like musical instruments. The flowers that were decorating the Gopis hair-braids would shake and fall off, when their heads shook back and forth to the sound of the music and dance. The flowers in their hair were showering down like a shower of flowers that were dancing with Krsna.

The Gandharvas and Kinnaras, who were the heavenly performers and damsels, had appeared in their heavenly airplanes. They did not have a complete understanding of why the Gopis and Krsna were singing and dancing, they were still immersed in complete joy. Even the animals, birds, peacocks, bumblebees, cuckoos, and deer, all participated in the Rasa-dance and became completely intoxicated in divine love for Sri Krsna. The bumblebees were drinking the nectar from the lotus and other flowers that decorated the Gopis hair, and they also participated as singers.

Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura explains, a person while taking full shelter of the Lord’s transcendental names, forms, qualities and pastimes, chants Their glories by singing and dancing, that person will become decorated with all good qualities.

QUALITIES OF GOOD PLACES AND BAD PLACES

What is the nature of a place filled with good qualities, and the nature of a place filled with bad qualities? It is described here, that wherever good qualities are present, everyone’s heart will be attracted and simultaneously pleased and joyful without bad or dark moods. As long as these good qualities are being distributed, people will come participate and not be able to leave that place because there is no selfishness present there.

Even if you don’t know any melody, have a good tone, or know any words to a kirtan, just chant the holy names of the Lord with all sincerity and faith, and whatever you don’t know, will manifest in your heart, simultaneously. Even if you don’t know anything, just start chanting the Lord’s holy names and mantras with full faith.

THE MOODS OF THE GOPIS ARE ORNAMENTS AND INSTRUMENTS

All the various ornaments of the Gopis, the ankle bells, waist belts with small hanging bells, and their bracelets, all participated in and manifested an effulgent beauty in the musical performance of the Rasa-dance. These ornaments all manifested a different mood and they all had a personality.

Can you comprehend the qualities of a flute that is made of wood, or a mrdanga that is made of clay and leather? What love is present within them? In Krsna lila the mrdanga, flute, ankle bells, bracelets, and the waist belts, all become favorable to Krsna-rasa. They became instruments of His loving rasa, and became intoxicated in the ‘vilasa’ or loving affairs of Sri Krsna with his beloveds.

The Gopis had braids that were adorned and wound with flowers and flower garlands, and when they were dancing, these flowers would begin to fall from their hair and it would appear like a shower of flower petals covering the whole area. Everyone became bewildered by their dancing, and as previous mentioned, even the bumble bees became instruments and participated in the singing.

In Sri Krsna’s Rasa-lila in Vraja, there is no pollution or lust. It was like children playing together, there was no lust. Krsna was dancing and having loving affairs with his own associates who are all manifestations of His divine potency.

THE NATURE OF SRNGARA-BHAVA

When Krsna began His loving affairs with the Vraja-gopis, they could not control or bewilder Him. Krsna is not controlled by anything, and is completely transcendental. It is like a child playing with its shadow or reflection. Krsna was not bewildered or influenced by any trace of lust, even though He was dancing with millions and millions of Gopis, who were all more beautiful than millions of Goddesses of fortune. Krsna attracts everyone, but at the same time He is not influenced by, nor does He come under the control of anyone because of their beauty or attractive qualities.

What is ‘srngara-bhava’? What is the nature of the Gopis’ srngara? They are all gifts and ornaments for Sri Krsna. With so much love Krsna gave so many gifts to the Gopis. Some He gave more gifts to, others He gave different gifts to. What were these gifts? The skills to sing, play the vina, mrdanga drum, dancing, and all the qualities through which they could perform their loving affairs, were the gifts given by Sri Krsna.

Krsna was playing with them, just as a little child would play with his own reflection in the water. He was like a small boy playing with His own reflection, being attracted by His own beauty, and being satisfied within Himself by His own sweetness. The limit of Krsna’s sweetness came to its full extent amidst the Gopis, and even though His sweetness is boundless, it fully appeared amidst the Vraja-gopis.

THE GOPIS ARE MORE FORTUNATE THAN LAKSMI

The gifts that Krsna bestowed to the Gopis were the gifts of love. The Goddess of fortune, Laksmi, could never receive this. The Lord never danced and sang with her like He did with the Gopis. She is present with Him with all ‘maryada’, rules and regulations. The Vraja-devis therefore are more fortunate than even Laksmi-devi. Their beauty increased more and more because of Sri Krsna’s love for them, but at the same time, there was no lust. Krsna was dancing and playing with His own potencies, just as a small boy would play with His own reflection or shadow. In this way Krsna began His play.

Krsna is perfected in the 64 arts that manifest through His ‘kaya-vyuha’, personal expansions. All of Krsna’s pleasure potencies and His various expansions are the Vraja-devis. They are not separate from Krsna, and we should not think they are something different. These potencies are present in other forms to facilitate His loving exchanges, and to serve Him. Krsna is the original personality that is engaged in loving affairs and wonderful pastimes, that bestow ‘ananda-cinmaya-rasa’ upon all the Vraja-gopis. (CLICK ON THE TITLE TO READ THE COMPLETE ARTICLE)

“Rasik Mohan Das and the Bhaktabandhav team are doing an invaluable service publishing the hari-katha of Sripada Premananda Prabhu, Srila Gurudeva B.V. Narayana Gosvami Maharaja, and the books of the acaryas. Books like Sri Guru Darsana, Krsna-karnamrta, Radha-rasa-sudhanidhi, and so on, provide a wealth of information and purification: these volumes make one feel as though they are in Gurudeva’s presence, imbibing pure bhakti as only he could provide it.”

— Steven J. Rosen, Satyaraja Dasa (acbsp), author of 30 books on Gaudiya Vaishnavism, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Vaishnava Studies, and associate editor of Back to Godhead