When people pray to God, they are expressing the sentiments that are deep within their hearts. They manifest their different conceptions before the Lord, and in this way, they are offering their moods to God. However, this is all according to people’s qualification, level of eligibility, and mental state. In this world everything is under the jurisdiction of Mahamaya and her worldly prison. If we truly want to offer our hearts and prayers to the Lord, we should take shelter of our Acaryas’ prayers, like Narottama das Thakur’s Padavali, Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s Prarthana, and Locana das Thakura’s many songs.

In this way, we can learn how to pray from the Lord’s eternal associates, who are very dear to Him. The manifestations and expressions that come from the heart of the conditioned souls can never be on the same platform as the prayers and offerings of these eternal associates. One is from the conditioned soul, who is an enjoyer, and sometimes weeps and laments because of his or her worldly sufferings. This is not ‘viraha’ – separation. This is a manifestation of their desire for material enjoyment, and when there is some inhibition in their enjoyment, then the conditioned souls lament. It has no spiritual value and it is not beneficial to oneself or any other.

THE BADDHA-JIVAS ARE ALWAYS LAMENTING AND FEARFUL

Because the jivas (spirit souls) are bound by material attraction and affection, they are always lamenting and fearful. They weep, lament, and pray. Whoever they meet they will tell their tales of sorrow. All these things are not related to the service of the Lord, and are not fit to be offered in a spiritual sense. They are just the filth of this world. Just like we see people jump in Radha kunda, Manasi Ganga, or the Yamuna and kill themselves. If they cry for a thousand births, jump off buildings, or hang themselves, what benefit do they get?

If you give up your body crying and lamenting, is there any spiritual value to this? Who are you doing it for? If you were to say, “I am doing this for God. I am lamenting to God. Will God not hear me?” Most people pray to God for the things of this world, but as soon as they get what they want, they very quickly forget God. Serving God or having a relationship with Him is not their aim and object.

KRSNA TESTS THE SADHANA-SIDDHA-GOPIS

The Sruticari, Smrticari, Upanisadcari Gopis, and the Dandakaranya Rsis, who had come to Vraja and achieved the bodies of Gopis, performed Katyayani-vrata. After their vrata the Lord called them to perform rasa-lila. He brought them into His company and showed them His love and affection. In this way He accepted them and made them eligible for His company.

In the Caitanya Caritamrta, it explains that a doctor gave a medicine to a person to cure a disease but upon taking it, the disease increased. This was because the sick person did not follow the proper diet and so forth, so he became even more sick. Similarly, the jivas pray to God for so many things, but even if you give it to them, they become so proud when they receive it. As soon as they get some position, post, or qualification, then their pride devours them. When Krsna danced, played, sang, and showed His affection to the Gopis, they became proud, thinking, “I am no less than anyone. I am the dearmost of God. I am the dearmost of Krsna.” In this way so much pride came within the sadhana-siddha-gopis, and they did not respect Srimati Radharani who is svarupa-sakti, and hladini-sakti, nor the nitya-siddha-gopis, therefore the Lord disappeared.

What did the Gopis do when Krsna left them? They were experiencing so much separation from Him and were greatly lamenting. After meeting with Krsna there was so much joy, but when He left, they felt extreme separation. They began to search throughout the forest for Krsna. They asked everything and everyone, “Where is Krsna?” They asked the plants, the trees, the river, everything, but no-one was ready to give any answer or response to them. As long as the Lord is present in the heart, the jivas have some foundation and strength, but as soon as the Lord leaves or disappears, then the embodied souls have no position. Because of their karma they sometimes move in water, fire, air, ether, or earth. Without Paramatma (supersoul) the embodied souls have no form, and they move here and there in the elements like orphans. This is the fate of the ‘baddha-jivas’ – conditioned souls.

Those who are ‘mukta’ liberated souls, can achieve Vraja-dhama in this world, ‘bhauma Vrindavan’. Before the liberated souls go to ‘aprakrta Vraja’ – transcendental Vraja, the Lord will give them many tests. The Vraja in this world is like a training center for the sadhana-siddhas, those who have achieved perfection through spiritual practice. Before Krsna met with the sadhana-siddhas-gopis in the Rasa dance, He tested them so much. He saw that they were not displeased with Him, nor were they selfishly thinking of themselves, so they passed the test.

Krsna had previously danced, sang, and embraced the Gopis, filling them with the joy of meeting Him. He then thought, “I want to see what the sadhana-siddha-gopis will do.” This was like another test. Then what the Lord was thinking would happen, did indeed occur. They did not respect the other Gopis. The Lord then disappeared and the Gopis lamented greatly searching here and there for Him.

After wandering far and wide throughout the forests and groves they finally saw the footprints of Krsna. Seeing these footprints, they realized that they had never taken shelter of the footprints of the Lord. They had never meditated on or taken shelter of the symbols that are on Krsna’s feet, like the flag, goad, fish, pyramid, pot, and conch. There are very beautiful symbols on the Lord’s lotus feet and these were present in the footprints.

THE GOPIS BLAME KRSNA

The Gopis began to meditate on these symbols. By the influence of this meditation their hearts became completely purified, and the pride of their good fortune in meeting with Krsna was washed away. Because they meditated on His feet, everything was cleansed. Now they began to experience their own shortcomings. Before they were very proud and they thought, “Why has He left us? Why has He given us up? This is His fault. This is wrong. We left everything and came here to meet Him, and now He has neglected us!” They were thinking there was some fault in the Lord’s activities.

Although externally you couldn’t see this, Krsna thought, “Now I will see their behavior.”

The sadhana-siddhas-gopis were not feeling, “Oh we have neglected and disrespected the nitya-siddha-gopis, the eternal associates of the Lord.” It was like they have entered the house by force and tried to become the masters of the house. For example, it is like when a rich and wealthy person has just married a girl from a poor village. Within two days she will challenge and try controlling everyone in an attempt to become the master of the house. She will think, “Who is this aunt? Who are these in-laws? Who is this mother-in-law?” This is called ‘gusbeti’. They enter the house and within a few days try to exert their influence and try to dominate everyone thinking, “This is my place, now you can leave. Get out.” They have no respect and those who were always there, who were the masters for many, many years, are shown contempt and disrespect. Then the wife tries to become the queen, but there is no value in it.

Similarly, the Lord thought, “If they are competing here in ‘bhauma Vrndavan’, then what will they do in eternal Vraja?” It is not so easy to enter the eternal realm, so Krsna thought, “I will help purify them of this pride.” For this reason, He left with Srimati Radhika.

THE GOPIS FIND FOOTPRINTS

The Gopis then began to weep and search for Krsna. Finally, they reached the footprints of Krsna and began to pray and take shelter of them. Then they saw another set of footprints and thought, “Oh how dear this other Gopi must be to Krsna? How great She must be? How much greater than us She must be? But we did not respect Her, we neglected Her. How great She must be that Krsna left us all but He did not leave Her, therefore She is the most dear to Sri Krsna.” When they saw Srimati Radharani’s footprints, they also saw some other items including a broken garland, and flowers that had been picked and used by Krsna to decorate Srimati Radharani’s hair. In this way they developed some faith for Radharani.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF SRADDHA AND ANURAGA

There is one kind of faith that is called, ‘laukika’ meaning weak or material faith. Another one is paramarthika or transcendental faith. Laukika-sraddha, material faith, can easily be destroyed, it is very flimsy. But paramarthika-sraddha, transcendental faith, is much more firm and strong when one is progressing from sraddha to nistha, firm dedication and faith. And then further it develops to ruci – transcendental taste, and then on to asakti – transcendental attraction and deep attachment. Then finally to bhava – pure ecstatic emotion, and it even goes higher to sneha, raga, mana, pranaya, and anuraga, which is loving attraction.

Until this state of faith has reached all the way up to the pure state of anuraga or loving attraction, then one still has anuraga or love for one’s own body, mind, and senses. You cannot use this anuraga solely for Sri Krsna, you do not have that strength. For one’s own happiness one is ready to do anything, however for someone else’s pleasure or happiness no one is ready to sacrifice themselves for the pleasure of another, they cannot possibly do this.

Therefore, tad-anuragi-jananugami, we must follow in the footsteps of those who have this anuraga, and to follow them is considered the mature state of sadhana. Otherwise you may exhibit yourself as becoming a big babaji or sadhu, and show off so much faith, bang on the drums and karatals, but as soon as you are a little bit disturbed or disrespected, or there is some disturbance in your enjoyment and sense gratification, or maybe even a little chastisement and discipline from Guru and Vaisnavas, and you have to renounce all other things for service, then what will you do? You will enter your room or house and flee from service. This is laukika-sraddha – material faith, and it is very weak.

Until you follow this instruction of Rupa Gosvami, to follow in the footsteps of those who have anuraga – pure devotion, you will not be able to progress to the higher stages of devotion. Once you follow this tad-anuragi-jananugami properly then you can progress to mana, pranaya, anuraga and so forth. Otherwise this laukika-sraddha (material faith) is not very valuable. When you achieve paramarthika-sraddha (transcendental faith) this will progress to higher and higher stages of bhakti. We should strive only for this, and be prepared to sacrifice everything, renouncing all our own comforts and selfish desires. We have to sincerely look and see, who is dear to Guru, who is most dear to Krsna, and then take shelter of them.

THE GOPIS LEARN FROM RADHIKA’S PRAYERS

Proceeding forward, the Gopis found Srimati Radhika senseless on the ground. They began to fan Her, and witnessed many different ecstatic symptoms on Her body, like perspiring, hairs standing on end, and a choked voice. This made their faith in Her develop even more. They took shelter of Her and asked Her, “How did You get here?”

Those who have good qualities or good qualifications are actually exalted, when they experience any shortcoming they have, they are not shy to express this. They do not try to hide their faults. But we try to hide our faults. We lie, cheat, and steal, and then we will make ten or twenty people our witnesses to say, “No, this is a good person. They are not a thief, they are not a sinner, they are very good.” We think, “Everyone else is a sinner, everyone else is very bad, but I am so good.” We will arrange hundreds of people to give evidence in our favor. But a good person will not be afraid to show their faults.

Srimati Radhika did not say, “Oh it was your fault that Krsna left with Me.” Instead She said, “Krsna left Me. I told Krsna, ‘I am tired and cannot walk any further’. This was My own pride. I tried to engage the Lord in My own service. How great a mistake this was and as a result of this, Krsna left Me.”

The Gopis, hearing Srimati Radhika’s humility, could now understand Her exalted position. If those who occupy high positions are very exalted and advanced, have all good qualities, then those under them will also be decorated with these qualities. If they express their own faults, and are very open and honest, then those under their guidance will also become like that. Otherwise they will only develop more faults. If people from the outside criticize us, we should not think, “Why are they complaining and blaming?” but instead we should be ready to accept and see our own faults.

The Gopis now realized, “We have made a mistake!” Hearing the prayers of Srimati Radhika and the nitya-siddha-gopis, which are full of svarupa-sakti, the sadhana-siddha-gopis understood that these prayers are real and proper. They thought, “Until this point, we were all praying, but what was our mood?”

It is said that only Madhavendra Puri, Srimati Radharani, and Caitanya Mahaprabhu understood this sloka of Srimati Radhika. There was really no one else who could understand it. Mahaprabhu also performed kirtana of this verse.

Srimati Radhika prayed:

ayi dīna-dayārdra nātha
he mathurā-nātha kadāvalokyase
hṛdayaṁ tvad-aloka-kātaraṁ
dayita bhrāmyati kiṁ karomy aham
(Padyāvalī 334)

Madhavendra Puri understood the moods of this verse and he would repeatedly use it in his prayers. Even in his final times, remembering this verse, tears would flow from his eyes, and he would roll on the ground with foam coming from his mouth.

Madhavendra Puri was in a deep internal mood, getting ready to leave the external world and sadly, Ramacandra Puri came and said, “Oh, now you are preparing to leave your body, you should meditate on brahman. Everyone is brahman, everything is brahman, meditate on brahman. Why are you crying and lamenting? This is maya!” Srila Madhavendra Puri heard this and came to external consciousness and he told the devotees, “Take this Ramacandra Puri away from here, I do not want to see his face.”

Guruvarga ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the up and coming Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Rasa Pancadhyayi”. For more info contact: rasik@kripa.tv )