Hari-katha inspired by the Guru-varga
At every moment, Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami is present with Krsna and His dearest associates in Vraja. He is always with Krsna’s friends and family. He prays for the blessings of all of Krsna’s friends and family. He collects all their glories and special qualities and then writes it here in this book and distributes it to the world. This is very special.
A farmer will collect different fruits, like apples and oranges from an orchard and then give them away to people. He sends them as gifts to the king, his friends, neighbors, or poor people. In a similar way, Raghunatha dasa Gosvami takes the pure love and affection of Vraja-mandala and distributes it. He knows that when people take this, they achieve spiritual wealth and health.
There are many mundane people of this world like government officials, prime-ministers, ministers, and magistrates; if we speak and distribute their glories, our spiritual life will be destroyed. Mahaprabhu instructed us not to hear about mundane people. He told us not to hear or speak gramya-katha and gramya-varta, and instead always hear and speak about the transcendental associates of God. We obtain an indication of how much love they have for God, by listening to their histories.
For instance, when you hear about sweet rasagullas in India, then you will become greedy to taste it. Then, when you get a chance to eat it, you will like it so much that you will daily begin to buy rasagullas at the shop. Then, if someone tells you that rasamalaya is ten times better than rasagulla, you will want to eat so much rasamalaya. Then you hear that rabadi is even better especially when it is cold. It is like ice-cream and very tasty. Once you eat that then you will buy so much rabadi and become greedy to taste it all the time. So, when people have no idea about these things, how will they know about them? Sometimes, Indians go to the West and eat strawberries, raspberries, and other berries for the first time. They then immediately like them so much.
I have heard that in places like Uzbekistan there are hundreds of kinds of melons. I have not been there, so I do not know. But because I have heard of these things then greed can come in me to hear, see, or taste them. But we should know that these things are mundane and not spiritual. The spiritual world is described to us by our Gosvamis and Guru-varga. When you drink these things, you will never become full and you will never get diarrhea or nausea. It will only increase your spiritual wealth and health.
Therefore, Sukadeva Gosvami said:
nigama-kalpa-taror galitam phalam
pibata bhagavatam rasam alayam
muhuraho rasika bhuvi bhavukah
Drink this rasa. It is a nectar, but it is very fine. Drink it with your ears. You hear these glories of the eternal associates of God, and this is described by Raghunatha dasa Gosvami. He performed very strong austerity, not taking anything in this world. He would only take a cup of buttermilk a day. He drank transcendental rasa 24 hours a day. He was powerful and able to distribute this rasa to others.
Some people think, “This is not good for me. I should not read about this transcendental rasa or distribute it. I will only teach people about ordinary rules and regulations and moral etiquette of this world.” We should know that this has no rasa; no love; no sweetness. In Vraja, there is the sweetness of parakiya-rasa. Unless you understand and hear about this rasa, how will you be greedy to taste this rasa? Your soul will become strong and you will attain your spiritual form by listening to this rasa-katha. This is like water that nourishes the seed of your soul. Then the body of your spiritual soul will grow.
The entire world is like a desert, without spiritual rasa. But our Gosvamis, the Guru-varga—they distribute this transcendental rasa. So you should follow our Gosvamis. Read their books and hear their glories. By doing this, this rasa will enter your soul and then your soul will attain its svarupa. The soul will sprout. The first two leaves that come in the development of the soul-body are klesaghni and subhada.
First, many problems will come. When you hear hari-katha, you will feel discomfort. Some people say, “Oh, you are only chastising me in class.” Some think that you are insulting them. Others run away from hari-katha. They will do anything not to hear class.
It is said:
srnvatam sva-kathah krsnah
hrdy antah stho hy abhadrani
vidhunoti suhrt satam
When this hari-katha enters your ears and goes in your heart, it cleans your heart out of all unwanted desires. It then makes a wonderful garden and a place for Krsna Himself to come and be with His associates. This hari-katha invites Krsna and all His friends, and then you will become very spiritually powerful. If God is present in your heart, then what shortness could be there?
Paramatma is always in our heart, but there is no place for Him in our heart because we have no love for Him. But now, when we hear hari-katha from Vaisnavas, it cleans our heart, and then the hari-katha places a seat for Krsna to come with His friends and play in our hearts. Then we will become so happy.
This hari-katha-rasa is food for our soul. Where does it come from? It comes from these lilas and glorifications of the Vraja-vasis given by our spiritual master.
Let us hear further.
Krsna is raso vai sah. He is the very svarupa of rasa. He embodies transcendental love and sweetness. This prema-rasa is given by whom? Who brings these pastimes to the world and instructs people on how to attain that spiritual realm? Who is authorized to distribute this rasa-lila? Raghunatha dasa Gosvam himself is always engaged in eternal service in that realm. Therefore, he is qualified to distribute these pastimes to the world. He understands how Srimati Radharani can be pleased and how he can arrange for Her to meet with Krsna.
Lalita-devi is now glorified by Dasa Gosvami. He says, “May Lalita-devi accept me.”
Gurudeva would daily pray:
ha! devi kaku-bhara-gadgadayadya vaca
yace nipatya bhuvi dandavad udbhartartih
asya prasadam adbhudasya janasya krtva
gandharvike tava gane gananam vidhehi
“O Goddess! O ocean of mercy, please accept me.”
Now, Dasa Gosvami prays, “When will Lalita-devi accept me among her own group of associates? When will she accept me as the servant of the servant of the servant of her servants? When will she give me an insignificant post in her group?”
Raghunatha dasa Gosvami prays for this and explains Lalita-devi’s glories. Before, he spoke about Mukhara, Variyasi, and other elders in Vraja who help Radha-Krsna’s meetings in srngara-rasa. Now, he describes the prominent associates of Radha and Krsna—the sakhis and manjaris in Vraja. He describes the qualities of the group leader in Radharani’s party, or Lalita-devi.
In Ujjvala Nilamani, Srila Rupa Gosvami writes that Lalita-devi is the deity of the love of Radha and Madhava. She is very powerful and she knows how to please Radha and Krsna through different activities. She has the storehouse of lila-sakti with her. She is the maintainer of lila-sakti. Yogamaya Paurnamasi follows her instructions.
After Lalita-devi accepts anything, Radha and Krsna will accept it. She has many messengers and they go throughout Vraja, making sure everything is going on properly. Lalita-devi is a prema-nayika.
In Vraja-mandala, for the pleasure of Radha-Madhava, Lalita-devi is always engaged in different activities. There is a nayaka and a nayika, a lover and a beloved. Sometimes, they are separated by circumstances and cannot meet with each other. When they meet in one place, then there are many different family members, such as parents, grandparents, and in-laws, and they cannot meet as their hearts desire. They have to be shy and separate from each other. They act like children and act as if they do not have any relationship with each other. However, Lalita-devi arranges for Radha-Madhava to meet together privately.
Lalita teaches Radhika, “When Krsna comes, don’t look at Him. Show that You don’t have any relationship with Him, that You don’t like Him, and that You don’t even know Him. Be smart and strong. Don’t let anyone know that You have any relation with Him. You should hide Your love for Him. Don’t show it to anyone. Don’t open Your heart. If You open Your heart, Your love will fly out. Keep it secret, and keep it safe. You should only discuss Your love with those who are Your very near and dear friends, and also, those friends who know Your heart will help arrange the meeting between You and Your beloved.”
Lalita teaches Radhika to be clever in Her activities. There are many sakhis, but Radhika’s dear most friend is Lalita. She is called prakara. She is very strong; she is like a controller. She can instruct Radhika directly. Now, she will say, “Sit here. Don’t go out.” Sometimes Radhika will have difficulty tolerating this, as She anxiously waits to see Krsna. She will think, “Oh, everyone is going to see Krsna but I can’t go.”
Lalita-devi says, “No, don’t go. Sit here.”
Radharani becomes restless and shivers, but She will not disobey Lalita’s instruction. She will pace back and forth in the kunja and then sit down and then get up and pace again. But She will not leave the kunja.
Then Krsna is going out to the forest. Baladeva is at the front with the calves and sakhas, and then Krsna goes past. Then Krsna says, “Oh, I lost a calf.” He tells His sakhas to go ahead with the calves, and He comes back. He ‘jumps’ into the kunja and meets and speaks with Srimati. At that time Lalita is not there, nor is Visakha or anyone. Everyone hides, and only Srimati and Krsna are alone. Krsna meets with Her quickly and then runs back to the sakhas and calves. Lalita-devi arranges this program and inspires Krsna. Then Radharani is very happy.
A little later, Lalita-devi comes and finds Radharani very pleased. If Radharani were to go in front of everyone to see Krsna, then They would not be able to meet. But Krsna secretly comes and Lalita arranges this meeting. Therefore, she is very dear to Radha-Krsna.
Lalita very carefully arranges these secret meetings between Radha and Krsna.
Once, Srimati came to Giriraj Govardhana. At Govardhana there are many flowers. There are clove, jasmine, juhi, mallika, and many others. If you sit in the garden and play on your vina, the melody will be very sweet. If you go to the bank of a river and sing, then your voice will be very strong. But if you go in the forest and sing there, your voice will sound like the braying of a donkey. Also, if you sing in the street with people, your voice will sound like a prostitute.
Therefore, Radharani goes to Govardhana on the bank of a river. There, She practices playing on Her vina and on other instruments. Radharani has a kacapa-vina. It is described in Vilapa Kusumanjali by Dasa Gosvami. Lalita-devi comes, along with Visakha and other sakhis, and sits at the foot of Govardhana in a kunja called Rati-keli-kunja. There, there are peacocks and other birds and animals. There are streams and waterfalls. Srimati sits and plays on Her vina and sings. She sings in a very high melody. It is as if rain is falling from the sky, and sometimes the leaves on the trees fall down when She sings a melody of painful separation. New green leaves also appear on the trees when Srimati sings. She is surrounded by many sakhis, manjaris, birds, deer, and peacocks. Srimati sees everyone there, but She does not see Krsna. Then She laments, and thinks, “Why do I sing? Who is listening to Me sing?”
In the sky, many demigods are in their heavenly airplanes, and there are gandharvas, kinnaras and other beings who wish to learn from Srimati Radhika. They want to study how She sings. But because Krsna is not there, Radharani laments and says, “Alas, Lalita, I am now tired.”
“Why are You tired?” Lalita asks. “Sing more.”
“No, I am tired. You should sing.”
“Now there is a huge assembly. If You don’t sing, what will everyone think?”
“No. I will not sing.”
Then Lalita says, “O Syamaa, Syama is nearby. But He is wearing a sari like a sakhi. He is now Syama-sakhi. He is covering His face and pretending to be a girl. He is sitting and listening to You sing as He cries and cries. He is waiting for Your blessings. He is waiting to hear You sing always.”
Now Krsna’s heart is melting.
Lalita indicated that Syama-sakhi was there. She said, “O Radha, Syama is here.” Then Syamaa looked and saw Syama present. The whole area became like mud because their hearts melted and they were weeping so much. Everyone who was there to hear Radhika’s singing also cried and the whole area became muddy. Then all of Syama-sakhi’s bangles and cadara became loose and fell down. Syama-sakhi started to faint.
Suddenly, Krsna manifested His original form of Syamasundara. Srimati then became even sadder and thought, “I have given pain to My beloved Krsna. Hearing My singing, He is suffering.”
But Krsna is so happy to hear this. He had been waiting, and when Radhika stopped singing, Syama came to His original form and then ran away from that place in shyness, otherwise the Gopis would catch Him.
So Lalita-devi arranges for these meetings in Govardhana in the kunjas. She says, “Be silent. Don’t teach or tell Krsna anything. You should hide here and practice Your singing. Don’t send news that we are here, otherwise Syama will come.”
But Krsna smells their fragrance. He thinks, “A wonderful flower has blossomed in the garden on Govardhana. I will go there and meet with the gardener. I will collect some flowers and then I will cool My body.”
Flowers have this power. When you wear flowers or keep them nearby you, you can feel cool and peaceful. Your mind and everything becomes clean. Before, in front of every house, there would be gardens and flowers, or Tulasi. Nowadays, everyone is living in stone buildings. This is because their hearts are like stone. If you sit in these stone palaces then your heart and your body will become like stone also. There are no trees, no flowers, no greenery, and no fragrance. What fragrance comes from rock and marble?
Outside, Giriraja Govardhana is like stone, but all over his body there are so many plants, trees, creepers, and flowers growing. Externally, he is strong, like Brahma, but really he is so soft and sweet.
vadanti tat tattva-vidas
tattvam yaj jnanam advayam
bhagavan iti sabdyate
Those who have realized the Truth, perceive Him as Brahma, Paramatma, and Bhagavan. First, externally, they see Brahma who is hard like a rock, but internally they see Paramatma, the Supersoul. When they enter deep inside the reality, then they can perceive the original form of the Absolute Godhead, Krsna.
Similarly, Giriraja looks hard on the outside, but really he is so soft. Wherever there are no flowers, creepers, or plants—understand that place to be a hard place. Such a place is not favorable for sadhakas.
So, Krsna told His sakhas, “Wait here. I will go and collect some flowers. I have picked up the scent of a very nice freshly blossomed flower.”
Krsna went and saw Srimati. He thought, “How beautiful Her face is. How wonderful Her speech is.” After seeing Her, His heart was cooled and He collected this picture of Srimati Radhika and returned.
The sakhas told Krsna, “You went so fast and returned so quickly. What did You bring?”
“Look,” Krsna said. “Just see My body. Smell the fragrance that is on Me. See how beautiful I have become. I have received the potency of that flower and have become like that flower. I have collected the essence of that flower.”
When you go to Sri Guru or to the mahabhagavata Vaisnavas, then what should you collect from them? What do they have to give? Krsna teaches, “Go and take those qualities that they have. By doing so, you will become very intelligent like a honey bee, and you will not be selfish. You will distribute this nectar to others. The honeybee collects nectar and makes honey. Then he gives it to his hive.”
So, Srimati is the flower in that kunja. She is with Rupa-manjari, Rati-manjari, Rasa-manjari, Guna-manjari, Kanaka-manjari, Ananga-manjari, Kasturi-manjari, Vilasa-manjari, Ramana-manjari, Nayana-mani-manjari, and so many manjaris. How do they serve Srimati? There is a flower garden in Vraja. There, Krsna collects many flowers and teaches the sakhas, “Just look, how will you be wonderful and beautiful? Don’t criticize anyone, don’t fight with anyone, and don’t be restless. When flowers blossom in a garden, no one should disturb those flowers. Those flowers help everyone and cool their hearts. So be soft and sweet like a flower. Then, by your nature, you will please everyone and everyone will respect you.”
Krsna teaches this to His own friends. The other servants also heard Krsna’s instructions. When Krsna goes to the forest, He does not only go to jump and swim in the lakes, play around, and take care of the cows. While He is playing with the boys, He conquers their hearts and keeps them nearby Him. Then He teaches them good etiquette and they become qualified. This is Krsna’s service and this is His pure potency.
Lalita-devi teaches the manjaris how to serve and how to be wonderful and helpful for everyone. The blessings of Srimati Radhika are therefore always showering on all Her sakhis and manjaris. This Radha-rasa-sudha-niddhi is in the storehouse of Lalita-devi. She can distribute this nectar of Radha-rasa to those who are sincere and pray to her.
In Ujjvala Nilamani, Rupa Gosvami writes that Lalita-devi’s sneha, or affection, is boundless. It is always increasing and rising in newer and newer forms. These waves of love and affection for Srimati Radhika and Krsna continually appear in Lalita-devi’s heart. Sometimes, she has a crooked or sulky mood. We should know that the way of love is not straight, but crooked. This crooked path of love is very sweet. Radhika’s mana, or jealous anger, makes Krsna hungry for Her love. He becomes thirsty to meet with Her. When She neglects Him, He begins to pray in a humble mood. He then becomes even more eager to collect Her love and affection.
Dasa Gosvami tells us about these pastimes and this prema-rasa. Lalita-devi is the distributer and protector of this love. She knows where, when, and how much of this nectar to give.
Giriraja Govardhana is the training center where you can get this rasa. Giriraja is like a stone gate, or like a hill, and you must receive his permission to enter this rasa.
Giriraja is the best servant of Radharani. Radharani never glorifies others, but she glorifies Giriraja Govardhana as follows:
hantayam adrir abala hari-dasa-varyo
manam tanoti saha-go-ganayos tayor yat
govardhano jayati saila-kuladhirajo
yo gopikahir udito hari-dasa-varyah
In both of these verses, Giriraja is described as haridasa-varya. How is he haridasa? All the followers and servants of Hari are happy with Giriraja and he conquers the hearts of everyone through serving them. Everyone likes him. Everyone who comes to Giriraja feels cool at heart. Giriraja gives a great chance to everyone. By his grace, a devotee receives the chance to serve Srimati Radharani, and under Her guidance, serve Krsna. Giriraja has the storehouse of Lalita-devi.
Lalita-devi is the distributor of this madhurya and Radha-rasa-sudha-niddhi and she keeps this with Giriraja Govardhana.
We hear that diksa is necessary. Divya-jnana is transcendental knowledge. Who gives this? Guru. What is this knowledge? It is the knowledge of Prema-diksa, knowledge of pure love and a paramour relationship. It means you are not mine directly. Svakiya relation, or married relation, means you are wedded in a lawful relationship. But diksa in its pure form means to have a relationship that is beyond the rules and regulations. From today, you are counted among the maid-servants of Srimati Radhika. This is real diksa. You have been given entrance into parakiya-rasa, or you have this crooked relationship or indirect relationship.
Lalita-devi sings very sweetly like a cuckoo, and she also makes many jokes and dramas. When Radha and Krsna meet, different sakhis do dramas for them. Lalita teaches everyone how to act. Sometimes, they perform dramas in front of Krsna and Radharani, and they sing and dance. Then, Krsna thinks, “Oh, when did I do that?”
Some sakhis dress up like Krsna and another sakhi dresses as Srimati Radharani. They enact different pastimes such as the time when Radharani was in mana and was neglecting Krsna. Then Krsna came and supplicated Her for Her mercy, compassion, and forgiveness. Seeing these pastimes enacted by the sakhis and manjaris, the Divine Couple feel ecstasy. They think, “Oh, when did We do that?”
Here, sometimes one brahmacari will fall asleep in class and another brahmacari will take pictures of him snoring. Similarly, Visakha-devi is very intelligent. When Krsna does pastimes, she has pictures of all these activities. She has a ring that can take pictures and record like a camera. In her ring, she can see reflections of all of Krsna’s activities. This is like a camera connected to a satellite that takes pictures of wherever Krsna is. It takes pictures of Him while He sleeps, wanders in the forest, goes to Kamyavana, or to any other place. She can see where Krsna is with this ring.
Visakha arranges different dramas. She will make a drama of what Krsna did when He woke that morning—how He played and met with Yasoda. The manjaris quickly learn and they dress as Krsna, steal butter, and do naughty activities. They re-enact how sometimes Yasoda Mata offers Krsna some butter but He pushes her hand away. Why does He do this? He wants the butter that is brought by Radharani. He pretends that the butter His mother gives is not tasty, and He makes a strange face.
The manjaris can imitate Krsna’s expressions and how He associates with Yasoda, and they re-enact these pastimes. Krsna watches these reenactments with Srimati.
The manjaris enact how Srimati Radharani would churn butter in Yavata and how Dhanistha and Kundalata came there with cool water for transferring it to Nandagram. Srimati Radharani sends butter to Nandagrama in clay pots with Dhanistha and Kundalata. In the pot, there is cool water and the butter is wrapped in leaves. Yasoda Mata takes this cool butter and puts it in Krsna’s mouth. Now Krsna is so hungry and He eats more and more. He says, “I haven’t eaten for so long!” He swallows mouthfuls of butter which are fed to Him by His mother.
Then Yasoda Mata says, “O Kundalata, bring more of this butter. Krsna loves it so much. Bring it every day. It is so yellow and sweet.” She tastes some and says, “How could it be so sweet?” Then the manjaris tell her how Radharani makes the milk, carefully cooking it down till it reddens before adding honey, saffron and other ingredients into it.
So, Visakha-devi makes many dramas of Krsna’s sweet pastimes. Unless you hear about this or watch this then what will you do? You will watch the movies and performances of this world. When you watch these things, you will not get taste for spiritual rasa. But if you see the spiritual dramas and taste spiritual rasa then you will not have taste for that which is ordinary.
Therefore, Dasa Gosvami teaches us how to become greedy for this, and how our desire for this can increase. He gives sakha-candra-nyaya—he uses the moon on branch logic. Param Gurudeva and our Gurudeva would also give these indications. They would sing these songs and dance for hours at a time. How sweet was their mrdanga playing. How sweet was their dancing. You cannot imagine this unless you were there seeing it yourself. This is Mahaprabhu’s kirtana.
vande guroh sri caranaravindam
Where did the Guru-varga learn this dancing and singing from? They learnt from Mahaprabhu’s kirtana and from Radharani’s group. This kirtana has rasa. Bhaktivinoda Thakura is present there and therefore, writes these bhajans. When you try to sing these beautiful kirtanas with sincerity, everything will come into you heart. Why? This is spiritual. There is no need to go to school to learn this. There is no need of a teacher. Who is the teacher? Lalita-devi is the spiritual teacher, and Visakha-devi—she is also the teacher. The Vraja-devis are the teachers. The Guru-varga appear in this world for this purpose. Kamala-manjari is Bhaktivinoda Thakura. The manjaris appear as the Guru-varga and they teach us.
Raghunatha dasa Gosvami therefore teaches us about this rasa. Rasa-mahabhava-svarupini is Srimati Radha Thakurani. She resides in the nikunja-mandira and Her kinkari is Raghunatha dasa Gosvami. In his mind, he is engaged in prema-seva in his spiritual form in transcendental Vraja.
In Visakhananda-stotra, the names of Radharani are described and Her glories are also described. We hear, how Visakha also serves Radha-Krsna.
Visakha is an expert comedian. She knows how to joke and make the Divine Couple laugh. She is even more clever than the Goddess of speech, Sarasvati. She knows how to bring Krsna. She will invite Krsna by saying, “Today, we are having a musical performance. You should come. You will be the chief guest. But there is one condition. You must wear the dress of a lady, for the pleasure of Radharani. You will be our chief guest on this condition.”
Then, the stage and theater was ready, and all the Gopis and manjaris were present. Krsna wore the dress of a Gopi, but He forgot to put on bangles. He put on everything a Gopi wears, but forgot bangles. Everyone came forward to welcome the chief guest and give Her a seat to see and hear Her performance. But seeing that this new girl had no bangles, Visakha-devi quickly gave her own bangles to Krsna. But Krsna had also forgotten ankle-bells. Visakha gave Him hers and also had to give Him her crown, another ornament which He forgot to wear. Then Visakha invited Krsna in. She said, “You should always be smart. Understand, You are the chief guest. You should dress appropriately. Listen to the kirtana and don’t melt and cry like a baby like You did before. Remember, when the performance is complete, You should thank the actors and actresses by clapping Your hands and praising them.”
But when Krsna heard their music, He melted again and began crying. This kirtana and this singing has so much power. Lalita-devi gave a hint for Visakha to go and stop. “Krsna has no patience,” she said. “He is only crying like a baby and laughing and dancing like a madman. He cannot control Himself.”
Visakha-devi explains the glories and specialties of Srimati Radharani. Sometimes, she explains how Krsna uses His lila-kamala, pastimes lotus, or a garland. In the afternoon, Visakha draws a picture of Krsna and shows it to Radharani. Like now, you can see pictures on the internet with a laptop, and you can also speak with your friends from different parts of the world. All this comes originally from the spiritual world. There, Lalita-devi or Visakha-devi will draw a picture of Krsna and show it to Radharani and then it can become real. Krsna can come out of the picture and be before Radharani. You cannot do this with a computer, but in the spiritual world they have this power. They can manifest whenever they are spoken about. Why? Nama and Nami are non-different.
When Visakha jokes, it is like drops of honey falling from her mouth. Whatever she speaks is pleasing to everyone. All the sakhis and manjaris and also those in Krsna’s party are delighted by her talks. She has equal love for both Radharani and Krsna. When Krsna suffers in separation from Radharani or Radharani suffers in separation from Krsna, she cannot tolerate this, and she is ready to give up her life if it would help arrange Their meeting. Her complexion is similar to Krsna’s and sometimes, when Radharani is in mana, then because of this anuraga, her color appears to be like Radharani’s. If she sees that Radharani is disturbed, her color changes. At such times, she looks just like Radharani. Her face becomes filled with the reddish color of anuraga. Then she will arrange for the meeting of the Divine Couple.