Hari-katha by Paramadhyatama Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja, spoken on 10 June 1996, in Houston, published by Bhaktabandhav.com
[The following transcription contains conversations between Srila Gurudeva Nitya Lila Pravista Om Visnupada Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja and the devotees when they were on a morning walk on 10 June 1996 in Houston, USA]
Guest: A beautiful temple is there in Trivandrum, Kerala.
Srila Gurudeva: Sankaracarya appeared in Kerala. We went with our Gurudeva to many of the temples in South India. We were about 500 pilgrims.
Guest: You went by foot?
Srila Gurudeva: We went by train and then, we would walk visiting different temples. The Adi Kesava temple is also there in Kerala. It is situated on the seashore. It is a very beautiful temple and Adi Kesava is worshiped there.
Guest: The Guruvayur temple is not the Adi Kesava temple?
Srila Gurudeva: No.
Guest: Guruvayur temple is also Krsna’s temple?
Srila Gurudeva: Yes.
[Break of audio]
Srila Gurudeva: Narada gave him sabda-brahma. Krsna and His name are the same. There is no difference at all. Krsna has given all His powers, attributes, and energies in His names. Krsna’s name is more merciful than Him. But, you will have to go and surrender at the lotus feet of Gurudeva. But we cannot manage on our own. Both are needed—Krsna’s mercy and our efforts. So, we will inquire from a bona fide guru and Vaisnavas; they will help us. And, the mercy of Krsna will also come automatically. When our efforts and Krsna’s mercy meet, then we can have a bona fide guru; otherwise not. One more thing is essential—your past birth impressions. If you have done something devotional in your previous lives, then Krsna will automatically arrange for you to have a bona fide guru.
You will think, “Oh Gurudeva is himself coming to me.” But really, your actions from your previous lives will add something and then, Gurudeva will come. So, both are needed.
It is stated everywhere—in the Vedas, Upanisads, and Puranas like Visnu Purana and other Puranas that the whole creation is coming from Krsna. A seed has the potency of becoming a tree. If there is no potency in the seed, then a tree will not grow from that seed. So, we are not realizing that potency, which is in the seed. Everything about the tree—its trunk, branches, fruits, leaves, and flowers are in the seed. But we are not seeing anything at that time. But actually, the seed has this potency although we are not realizing it. So, if Krsna Himself doesn’t have a form, then how can everyone come from Krsna? We see that all qualities are found in Krsna and Krsna has a form. There is this word called, “Arupa.” Arupa is not the root word. Rupa is the root word. The negative form of rupa is arupa. So, from the word rupa, arupa has been created. Rupa has not come from arupa.
I want to speak on this during class or else my harinama will be disturbed.
[Break of audio]
Srila Gurudeva: But action will be there.
Guest: It means we are focusing on Krsna?
Srila Gurudeva: There are many considerations. Krsna is not just by Himself. Everything is there. Vrndavana is there. These pastimes will automatically come; like a chain.
Guest: If we meditate.
[Break of audio]
Guest: There can only be one God, one everything.
Srila Gurudeva: But who are you? Are you God?
Guest: I am an atma with a body. That’s all I know.
Srila Gurudeva: But you cannot create. Our knowledge is very limited. So, how can you speak of advaitvad? There are so many trees. How can they be one? How can the creator and His creation become one?
Guest: Yes. They cannot be one.
Srila Gurudeva: Even in advaita, there is dvaita. There is dualism even in this supposed non-dualism.
Guest: But what I feel is that irrespective of any theories or gunas, we should do guna-gana.
Srila Gurudeva: But, Brahma, Sankara, and we are not one.
Guest: The creator cannot be one with His creation.
Srila Gurudeva: Yes. We have come from the power, the energy of Krsna, who is God. But we are not actually God. We may be like God i.e. we have some of His qualities.
Guest: If a man understands that this is his ultimate goal, he should realize that this world is full of misery.
Srila Gurudeva: But for whom is this world miserable? For Krsna, for God? Or for the jivas? If the jivas are Brahma, then there is no misery. Why? Who is feeling these miseries? The conditioned soul is. Krsna cannot be conditioned. We will have to realize and think.
mam ekam saranam vraja
—Bhagavad Gita 18.66
[“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me.”]
For whom has Krsna said this? For Himself? If Arjuna was not different from Krsna, then for whom did He speak the Gita?
Guest: Correct. There are many paths.
Srila Gurudeva: There are many paths but one day they will have to meet at one point. And that point is bhakti.
mam ekam saranam vraja
Ekam is told here. All the paths will meet at this point.
na socati na kanksati
samah sarvesu bhutesu
mad-bhaktim labhate param
—Bhagavad Gita 18.54
[One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman and becomes fully joyful. He never laments or desires to have anything. He is equally disposed toward every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me.]
The conditioned souls are ignorant. They don’t know what the atma is or where the atma is. We are not realizing Brahma. If we are Brahma ourselves, then why are we not realizing it? If there is no illusory maya, then they say, “We are Brahma.” But actually this is not true. There are some hidden teachings behind all these things. Ramanuja and Sankara are in one line. They don’t have different opinions. But we think that they were of different opinions. A student of class four may think that M.A. or Ph.D. students are different from lower class students. But, we know that the students are in one line.
A question comes, “Who has this illusory maya caught?”
Maya cannot catch Brahma because He is satyam-jnanam-anantam-brahma. He has full knowledge, so maya cannot catch Brahma.
Guest: Maya can go only where there is ignorance.
Srila Gurudeva: So who is in ignorance? Those, who are separate from Krsna, from Godhead, are in ignorance. Otherwise, maya cannot them. So, they are different. But different means they are non-different. How? I will try to make you understand this.
Guest: The sun and the heat are non-different.
Srila Gurudeva: Yes, like this. But they cannot be different.
Guest: Wherever there is the sun, there is heat.
Srila Gurudeva: We are one but we are also different. But if the clouds come, then it may be that we will not realize the sun’s heat.
Guest: The sun is shielded.
Srila Gurudeva: Krsna has said in the Gita that “I am within and without.” This is called acintya-bhedabheda. There is bheda—difference and abheda—non-difference. But we cannot decide.
Guest: Here they say, “If you have any bright thoughts, then apply them to do something.”
Srila Gurudeva: This is called practice. To practice is bhakti.
Guest: You have studied all the scriptures like Brahma Samhita?
Srila Gurudeva: I have heard from my Gurudeva, more than reading the scriptures. Realization cannot come by only reading.
[Break of audio]
Srila Gurudeva: We were about thirty of us and we would always be engaged in serving, cooking, washing clothes and hearing. We would do everything.
Once, some guests came to the house of Sankaracarya when he was a boy. He was studying in school. His mother was a widow.
His mother told him, “Some guests have come. I have to cook for them. Go bring some brinjals from the garden.”
Sankaracarya went to that garden and only took one brinjal. His mother asked him, “Why have you brought only one brinjal? It will not do. There are so many guests. Why didn’t you bring more brinjals?”
He replied, “There was only one brinjal there.”
His mother said, “Last evening, I saw thousands of brinjals. They were so beautiful and big. Did anyone take them all? What have become of them since you saw only one brinjal?”
Sankaracarya said, “I saw only one brinjal and I took it.”
The mother then took her son and they went to the garden. She saw that there were lakhs and lakhs of brinjals hanging from their twigs. The mother asked, “Son, why did you lie? Why did you tell me that there was only one brinjal?”
Pointing at the brinjals, Sankaracarya told his mother, “All these are one, one, one, and one. So I brought only one.”
Then his mother twisted his ears and gave a slap. Sankara says, “There is only one Brahma. All are Brahma. Salvam khalv idam brahma.”
But, while quoting statements from the scriptures to support his philosophy, he only quotes parts of the sentences and not the whole sentences. Sankara was ordered by Krsna.
Krsna told him, “You should try to cover Me from the people who want so many things from this world. And for those who are devotees you should preach to them and say, ‘Bhaja govindam bhaja govindam govindam bhaja mudha-mate.’”
The teachings of Ramanuja, Madhva, and all other devotees should be taken in abhyasa, practice. The theory of Sankaracarya makes a foundation that we are not this physical body. If everyone is the same brahma as the mayavadis say then why is everyone quarrelling? Why do the husband and wife quarrel? Why do the children quarrel with their parents? If America is brahma, India is brahma, and Pakistan is brahma; they why do they quarrel among themselves?
[Break of audio]
Srila Gurudeva: Don’t eat onion and garlic. Food containing onion and garlic is never offered to Thakuraji in Vrndavana or anywhere else. Scientists recently stated there are twenty types of poison in onion and garlic. They are in the mode of ignorance. Although they kill the germs; we never use them. We use turmeric powder and black pepper instead. They purify the food. But on eating them excessively, you will become rajasic. Just take them a little. Onion and garlic cannot exist without poison. They will also make a person lusty. They also have some qualities that will influence your mind when you eat them. You are what you eat. If you eat the meat of a goat or a pig, then your mind will also be like these animals.
[Break of audio]
Devotee: Sitaji saw a deer and had Rama chase it.
Srila Gurudeva: When we see a deer, we think, “This deer has come to the lotus feet of Krsna. It has given its heart to Krsna.”
The husband of the deer tells her, “Go near Krsna. I will not give you any problems.”
The form of the deer assumed by Marici will cheat you. But Krsna’s deer will not cheat you. In Vrndavana, we see many lotus flowers blooming on the surface of Yamuna and Radha Kunda. Krsna has a male swan and Radhaji has a female swan. Krsna has a stag while Radha has a deer. It is like this in Vrndavana.
[Break of audio]
Srila Gurudeva: You should not try to cut a tree or kill even an ant. Everyone is the part and parcel of Krsna.
[From this section of the audio file, Srila Gurudeva speaks in English]
barhapidam nata-vara-vapuh karnayoh karnikaram
bibhrad vasah kanaka-kapisam vaijayantim ca malam
randhran venor adhara-sudhayapurayan gopa-vrndair
vrndaranyam sva-pada-ramanam pravisad gita-kirtih
—Srimad Bhagavatam 10.21.5
[“Wearing a peacock-feather ornament upon His head, blue karnikara flowers on His ears, a yellow garment as brilliant as gold, and the Vaijayanti garland, Lord Krsna exhibited His transcendental form as the greatest of dancers as He entered the forest of Vrndavana, beautifying it with the marks of His footprints. He filled the holes of His flute with the nectar of His lips, and the cowherd boys sang His glories.”]
In this sloka of the Srimad Bhagavatam, the marvellous beauty of Krsna is described.
I will speak on one history of Giriraja-Govardhana. Giriraja was in the Himalayas. He is the son of Drona. Drona is one of the friends of Himalaya. He had a beautiful son and his name was Giriraja. Though he was little, he was so beautiful. He was decorated by Tamala trees, Kadamba trees, cuckoos, parrots, and everything else. He was loved so much by his father. When anyone would see Giriraja-Govardhana, they would become so attracted to him. So, when Sri Ramacandra wanted to make a bridge across the ocean to go to Lanka, He ordered Nala, Nila, and all the monkeys to make a bridge. Thus, Rama would cross the ocean, go to Lanka, and bring Sita from there. So, when the bridge was being built, all the monkeys like Sugriva and Hanuman jumped to many places and brought many mountains and stone chips to help build the bridge. So, Hanuman also jumped and went to the Western part of the Himalayas. And he took the son of Drona named Giriraja-Govardhana. When he was returning from there, he received a message from Ramacandra when he was on the boundary of Vraja where Giriraja-Govardhana presently is.
In that message, Ramacandra said, “You are bringing so many mountains and big rocks. So, you should keep the mountain where you are presently at. Don’t bring the mountain here, because the bridge is completed. So keep the mountain there.”
When Hanuman was in Vraja, where Govardhana is still present up to this day, this message of Ramacandra was at once given to him. Therefore, Hanuman kept Giriraja-Govardhana there and he returned to where Ramacandra was. From that very time, Govardhana is there. Govardhana was so pleased to be there because Krsna will come and manifest all His pastimes there.
So, he told Hanuman, “You will also be in Vraja but not like Hanuman. You will be in the form of Gopisvara Mahadeva.”
Hanuman became Gopisvara Mahadeva in Krsna’s pastimes. Also, there is another history of Giriraja-Govardhana in Skanda Purana. During the age of Satya Yuga, there was a Rsi called Pulastya. He used to live in Kasi. He saw that Vrndavana is so beautiful having so many mountains, rivers, and so many ponds. Vrndavana was so beautifully decorated. He wanted to make Kasi like Vrndavana. But he saw that only the Ganga is in Kasi. Yamuna is in Vrndavana and the Ganges is in Kasi. But there are no mountains or forests in Kasi. Hence, he wanted to bring any mountain from the Himalayas.
He went to Drona and said, “Your son is very lovely. I want you to give your son to me. I will take him with me to Kasi.”
Drona replied, “He is my life and soul. So how can I give him?”
Pulastya Rsi said, “If you deny me, then I will have to give you a curse that you will be burned to ashes.”
He feared and said, “Yes, you may take Govardhana.”
But Govardhana said, “I will go; but on one condition. You should not put me down anywhere. If you put me down anywhere, then I will not go from that place. I will be there forever. And, don’t take me when you are impure.”
Pulastya Rsi said, “Yes. I will follow.”
When the Rsi came to Vraja, where Govardhana presently is; then he felt an urge to pass. He kept Giriraja there and went near Manasa-Ganga for taking a bath. But the Rsi felt the need to pass water. He continuously passed water for many hours and hours. It was not stopping. After the Rsi took bath, performed his sandhya-vandana, took food and rested, he tried to lift Giriraja again, but Giriraja refused to move – remaining true to his previous condition. The Rsi could not lift Govardhana, even when he employed all his power. When they had reached Vraja, thoughts of Sri Krsna’s future lilas entered Govardhana’s mind, and he had become so heavy that the Rsi could no longer carry him and was forced to put him down right there, where Giriraja-Govardhana is presently situated.
Govardhana told the Rsi, “Why have you kept me here? Didn’t I tell you that I will never leave the place where you will keep me down? So, I cannot go anywhere else.”
The Rsi replied, “If you will not go with me, then I will have to give you a curse.”
Govardhana unhesitatingly said, “You can do anything you like, but I will not go.”
The Rsi then said, “Day by day, you will shrink in size.”
Govardhana replied, “Okay. I don’t care for your curse. But, I will see the pastimes of Srimati Radhika, Krsna, the gopas and the gopis. I will see how Krsna will play with all the cows and calves. I will see all His pastimes. I think that if Krsna will be merciful to me, then He will lift me on His finger. So many pastimes will manifest. Therefore, my life will be successful in beholding these pastimes.”
Pulastya Rsi tried lifting Giriraja-Govardhana so much; but he was unable to. And he returned empty-handed. Giriraja-Govardhana then started to anxiously wait for Krsna’s advent.
He thought, “When will Krsna come and play on My head, chest, and body? When will He play in my kunjas and ponds like, Manasi-Ganga, Kusuma-Sarovara, Radha Kunda, Syama Kunda, and Govinda Kunda?”
At last Krsna came and performed so many marvellous pastimes on Giriraja-Govardhana. The two eyes of Govardhana are Radha Kunda and Syama Kunda. His heart is where Sri Harideva is. The form of Govardhana resembles that of a sitting cow. The southern border of Govardhana is called Puchari. The form of Govardhana can also be likened to that of a peacock. When they dance, their tail is raised high. Thus, the two eyes are Radha Kunda and Syama Kunda. Hence, Govardhana’s form can be likened to the forms of a cow and a peacock. Govardhana is Krsna Himself because Krsna became Govardhana.
Also, the gopis have said, “Govardhana, you are not Krsna. You are a bona fide Vaisnava and you can give anything to anyone. You can give material things; you can give Vaikuntha; you can give anything.” Govardhana can also give the pure love of the gopis.”
Hence, the gopis have called Govardhana, “Haridasa-varya.”
There are three haridasas’. Yudhisthira Maharaja was haridasa. Also, Uddhava was haridasa-vara. But, Govardhana is haridasa-varya; the best of the haridasas. Because Krsna and the gopis play within the groves of Govardhana. Uddhava has not seen these pastimes, but Giriraja-Govardhana has seen. He is a witness to these pastimes. Dan-ghati is a place where Krsna and the gopis began to quarrel among themselves. This is called Prema-kalaha.
We bow down to Giriraja.
Swami Tamala Krsna asked me, “May I take Giriraja-Govardhana?”
I have come here to see Giriraja Maharaja. We are also seeing Gaura-Nityananda Prabhu here. We should bow down.
Gaura Premanande! Hari Haribol!
[Break of audio]
[Srila Gurudeva speaks to the devotees during a morning walk]
Srila Gurudeva: Govardhana came because Srimati Radhika told Krsna, “I will not come to a place where there is no Govardhana, Yamuna, and Vraja. I can go there if they are present.”
Krsna replied, “I will send them first, then You should come with Me.”
Thus, Sri Radha-Krsna came. They are all the parikaras, the associates of Vraja. By the desire of Sri Radha-Krsna, they were all present in Vraja. If Radhika was the daughter of Vrsabhanu Maharaja, then how can She be the parikara of Krsna in Goloka Vrndavana? If Sridhama was the son of Vrsabhanu Maharaja, how is he the parikara of Krsna in Goloka Vrndavana? All of them have one body there also. Thus, they also appear as the son and daughter of Vrsabhanu Maharaja.
tara madhye sarva-srestha nama-sankirtana
niraparadhe nama laile paya prema-dhana
—Caitanya Caritamrita Antya 4.71
[“Of the nine processes of devotional service, the most important is to always chant the holy name of the Lord. If one does so, avoiding the ten kinds of offenses, one very easily obtains the most valuable love of Godhead.”]
In what process should you chant the name, by which prema will come? What is that process?
trnad api sunicena
taror api sahisnuna
kirtaniyah sada harih
—Caitanya Caritamrita Adi 17.31
[“One can chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking himself lower than the straw in the street. One should be more tolerant than the tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige and ready to offer all respects to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly.” (Siksastaka 3)]
By chanting like this, why will prema come? All offenses will go. If you are honoring everyone, how will offenses be committed? The root of all evils is that we want honor and respect for ourselves. We don’t try to give honor and respect for others. You think that all the qualities are in you and in no one else. Your mind should be so strong. Krsna’s mercy, Guru’s mercy, should be coupled with our endeavors. Krsna’s mercy and Guru’s mercy is always there but if you are not doing anything, then you will not achieve anything. We should try to endeavor. Guru’s mercy is there, but we don’t try to collect this mercy.
Guru tells you to chant one lakh of harinama, especially on Ekadasi. But we cannot chant. If you want Krsna-prema, you will have to follow and endeavor. Chant Hare Krsna. We can then realize their mercy, otherwise we cannot. We should try to adopt this process. We should follow what Caitanya Mahaprabhu has said. We should try to chant and remember for twenty four hours. You should be determined like Druva, Narada, and Vyasa. Where there is a will, there is a way. Where there is no will, there is no way. Krsna is an order supplier for His devotees. Why? For one who chants His names, will Krsna not arrange anything? He will Himself do what is needed. He cannot check Himself. So, we should pray like this. Don’t lose the opportunity given in this human form of life. What if you become a jackal or any other animal in your next life? You cannot chant in those forms of life.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura has said, “You have not come for all these things. You have come for self-realization and for Krsna-bhakti.”
If this is not achieved in this human body, then what is to be said? Someone can say, “I have such a beautiful wife and children.” The dogs also have many wives and children. Everything is there in all forms of life. But, Vaisnava association and hari-katha can be had only in the human form of life. You should listen to the pastimes of Krsna and to the teachings of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Vedas, and Upanisads. Presently, most people are engaged in eating, drinking, and in enjoying. They don’t know what to do and what not to do. Those who are not chanting and remembering Krsna are like animals. You should try to do something for maintaining your life. But persons like us don’t do anything for maintaining our lives. Whether there is life or not; no harm. They will not have to take another birth. They will be liberated or they will come to Vrndavana. They will always be absorbed in service to Radha-Krsna. It may be that they can go where Krsna’s pastimes and Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s pastimes are going on. Do something by which you can easily maintain your life. If Krsna can manage Vrndavana; if He can give liberation, then why can He not manage some fruits? Why?
I want a heart like this devotee’s. But it should be more fragrant.
Devotee: One Swami came and started a big temple called New Barsana. They have a lot of land. He claims to come in the line of Caitanya. He is preaching that everyone should only worship Radha.
Srila Gurudeva: They say that we cannot go to Vrndavana, we will forever be here in Barsana—here. We only honor the Vedas, Upanisads, Puranas, Gita, and especially Srimad Bhagavatam. Caitanya Mahaprabhu has said that you should honor all. So, we will never follow anything that is not supported by the Gita, Bhagavatam, and the Vedas. This is the criteria, whether the practice is bona fide or not. If a guru is giving teachings that are not like the Gita, Bhagavat, Ramayana, and Purana, then we should not follow him. We should follow what our Gosvamis have given. Their teachings are based on the Vedas, Upanisads, and especially the Srimad Bhagavatam. We should try to follow. We honor Hanuman so much because he is Sankara Mahadeva. So, he is favorable. But the actions of Hanuman will not add and help in Vraja. His actions will add in Ayodhya. If you want to serve Ramacandra, then Hanuman should be followed. And if you want Krsna, you should go to Gopisvara Mahadeva. They are the same, and we honor also.
In Vraja there is Govardhana, Yamuna, Bhandiravan, Kesi-ghata, Vamsi-vata, Seva-kunja, Nidhuvana, and many other places. We should try to follow all these things; only hearing will not do. We should follow and we will have prema very soon. And Krsna will be served at once. We don’t want anything; we don’t want heaven; we don’t want salvation; we don’t want Vaikuntha; we don’t want Ayodhya; we don’t want Goloka; we don’t want Dvaraka—but we honor all. We honor all. But, we only want Vrndavana and we want to serve the dust of the lotus feet of the gopis. We want to serve Radha and Krsna. What we are saying is bound to come.
Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.