-Vraja Mandala Parikrama-

“Oh yes,” Janardana Maharaja said. “I am just resting for a minute and will then come. Please go ahead. I will follow.”

Śrīla Gurudeva then departed with the rest of the Parikramā party. After finishing cooking, the brahmacārī picked up Śrīla Janārdana Mahārāja in a motorized rickshaw. They arrived back at Vimala-kuṇḍa before the Parikramā party. When Śrīla Gurudeva returned, he asked Janārdana Mahārāja, “How have you returned so quickly? You left last and got here first. How is that possible?”

“This is prema’s policy,” Janārdana Mahārāja said in jest.

Śrīla Janārdana Mahārāja had no attachment with his body. He would often walk on parikramā while weeping and, in ecstasy, paid no attention to the condition of the route or where he placed his feet. One day, the pathway was covered with sharp stones and thorns, and thus his feet became terribly gashed. Seeing his lacerated feet, Prema ripped strips off of his own dhotī, pasted medicinal herbs on a stone, applied a salve on the wounds, and then bandaged Śrīla Mahārāja’s feet. That evening after Śrīla Janārdana Mahārāja gave class, devotees inquired about the bandages on his feet. Śrī Guru and Vaiṣṇavas are so kind; they appreciate the slightest service.

“Oh, there is no problem,” Śrīla Janārdana Mahārāja said. “But I know one generous brahmacārī who cut his cloth and used it to bind my feet.”

Śrīla Gurudeva often joked with Prema as he massaged Gurudeva at night. That night at Vimala-kuṇḍa, Śrīla Gurudeva asked him, “This is Kāmyavana. Here, Lord Siva fulfills all desires as Kāmeśvara Mahādeva. You have many desires, don’t you?”

“Yes,” he said.

“You are always thinking about how to get nice cauliflowers and potatoes,” Śrīla Gurudeva said, “and ingredients for sweets like malpuā and halavā. Is this true?”

“Yes, I pray for this. Tomorrow I will cook so many special things and distribute them to all the devotees.”

“Hey! Don’t ask Kāmeśvara Mahādeva only for potatoes and cauliflowers.”

“But this is what I like. I will go to the market and collect big cauliflowers, and big golden potatoes, and ingredients for cooking malpuā. I will distribute praśadam to all the Vaiṣṇavas.”

Śrīla Gurudeva then spoke hari-kathā as he was lying to rest, explaining how one should pray to Kāmeśvara Mahādeva.

He said, “Pray to Kāmeśvara Mahādeva, ‘Please, O Mahādeva, give me a relation with the devotees and a desire to dedicate my life in their service. Protect me from pride. May my service never become bitter to me.’ By the mercy of the Vaiṣṇavas a desire to serve will always increase and one will always be engaged, without becoming exhausted or disinclined toward bhakti.”

The next morning, the Parikramā visited Kāmeśvara Mahadeva. Śrīla Gurudeva spoke there about loyalty to one’s guru. He said,
“Śiva Thākura, as Kāmeśvara Mahādeva, protects those who perform sādhana while residing in Vraja-maṇḍala, either physically or through the mind, and helps them cross over the obstacles on the path of bhakti. Kāmeśvara Mahādeva removes all material kāmanā, desires, and helps develop a relation with Kṛṣṇa. A neophyte sādhaka is naturally humble, but when he becomes knowledgeable he is susceptible to pride and may become envious towards guru. Some then leave Śrī Guru and preach independently. Others take shelter of another Vaiṣṇava, thinking they can receive more help elsewhere—they don’t know that however much you water a tree, if the roots are cut, it will still wither and perish. If the sādhaka becomes disconnected from Śrī Guru, even though other Vaiṣṇavas and mahā-bhāgavatas may offer help, which is likened to water, still, because the sādhaka has cut off his connection to Sri Guru, he is like an uprooted tree—that water will only make  rot. Kṛṣṇa never gives His mercy to an ingrate who disregards his guru.”

“On the other hand,” Śrīla Gurudeva said, “a person who parades as a Vaiṣṇava, but who does not teach guru-sevā, who, rather, covets the property of Śrī Guru and tries to lead away his disciples, is not a real Vaiṣṇava—he is nothing but a cheater and thief. A true Vaiṣṇava will receive all ācāryas and will increase the faith of other disciples in their own guru. Siva Thakur is the greatest Vaiṣṇava and never covets worship from the devotees of Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa. As described in the Śmad-Bhāgavatam, once, the Pracetās submitted themselves to Siva Thakur and prayed for guidance. Siva Ṭhākura instructed them to receive the Rudra-gīta, saying, ‘I previously sang these prayers to Bhagavān, and He was pleased with me. By repeating these hymns in praise of Bhagavān, you will greatly please the Supreme Lord.’ Siva Thakura did not instruct the Pracetās, ‘Worship me and I will grant everything you desire.’ Siva Thakura thus exhibited the true nature of a Vaiṣṇava.”

“As long as you remain alive,” Śrīla Gurudeva concluded, “you should honor your Guru-pāda-padma, knowing him to be eternal, and you should faithfully remain in the family of your guru. If you forget your guru and depart elsewhere, even though all things may appear favorable, still, all your efforts to advance in bhakti will be in vain. Śāstra says—guru chāḍe, govinda bhaje, śei pāpi narakera mājhe—that sinner who leaves guru will reside in hell, even if he worships Govinda! Properly respect all Vaiṣṇavas and pray for them to teach you how to serve and please your Gurudeva.”

Śrīla Gurudeva himself exhibited the ideal character of a Vaiṣṇava as seen in the way he reciprocated with disciples of other gurus who came to him for guidance. He taught them how to perform real guru-sevā and made them qualified to do so. Gurudeva always preserved proper Vaiṣṇava etiquette. In Mathurā, numerous disciples of various gurus led together, but Śrīla Gurudeva encouraged them all to worship their own guru first and foremost (e.g., instructing them to first receive the name of their initiating spiritual master during the jaya-dhvani prayers).

That afternoon, Śrīla Janārdana Mahārāja asked Śrīla Gurudeva,
“O Mahārāja, you give wonderful classes. Kindly tell me your opinion on a topic that has been on my mind lately. Can Siva Thakura bestow vraja-prema?”

“Siva Thakura can certainly grant vraja-prema,” Śrīla Gurudeva replied. “Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura prays:

vṛndāvanāvani-pate! jaya soma soma-maule
sanaka-sanandana-sanātana-nāradeḍya
gopīśvara! vraja-vilāsi-yugāṅghri-padme
prema prayaccha nirupādhi namo namas te

Saṅkalpa-kalpadruma 103

Obeisance to you, O gatekeeper of Vṛndāvana-dhāma! Glory to you, O Soma, whose forehead is decorated with the moon. You are the object of worship of exalted sages headed by Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanātana, and Nārada! O Gopīśvara! Please give me prema—immaculate love for the lotus feet of the Divine Couple who perform joyous pastimes in Vraja.

“The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam states (12.13.16)—vaiṣṇavānāṁ yathā sambhu Siva Thakura is the greatest Vaiṣṇava. He resides in Vṛndāvana and always renders service to Kṛṣṇa and the Vrajavāsīs. When Kṛṣṇa desired to perform the Rāsa dance, Śrīmatī Rādhārānī appeared from Kṛṣṇa’s left side and Gopīśvara Mahādeva manifested from Kṛṣṇa’s right side. All other expansions of Siva Thakura come from the original manifestation of Gopīśvara Mahādeva. The other forms of Mahādeva cannot award the benediction of vraja-bhakti, which is attained only by the mercy of Gopīśvara.”

Śrīla Janārdana Mahārāja was hesitant to agree with Śrīla Gurudeva and they had a lively discussion about this topic. After parikramā was concluded, Śrīla Janārdana Mahārāja returned to his āśrāma. A month later, he sent a letter. A brahmacārī read the letter to Śrīla Gurudeva. Śrīla Janārdana Mahārāja had searched through the Gosvāmīs’ literature for references to Mahādeva and he sent quotes establishing the fact that Gopiśvara Mahādeva can bestow vraja-bhakti. Among these quotes was Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī’s prayer in his Vraja-vilāsa-stava:

mudā gopendrasyātmaja bhuja parisranga nīdhaye
sphurad gopirvrndair yam iha bhāgavatam pranayibhih
bhajadbhistair bhaktyās vamabhilasitam prāptam acirād
yamitire gopīśvaram anudinam taṁ kila bhaje

I daily worship Gopīśvara Mahādeva, who is situated on the bank of the Yamunā. The same Gopīśvara was worshiped with deep devotion by the gopīs, and he quickly fulfilled their desire to attain a supremely precious jewel in the form of the embrace of Kṛṣṇa, the son of Nanda Mahārāja.

Śrīla Gurudeva sent an affectionate response to Pujyapāda Janārdana Mahārāja, calling attention to certain verses. An excerpt of that letter follows:

“Once, Pārvatī asked Siva Thakura, ‘O Prabhu, who should I worship? There are so many gods and goddesses, but who is it that you worship and meditate upon? Who makes you so pleased? Whom should I serve?’

Siva Thakura said, ‘Serve my worshipable Devī.’

Pārvatī asked, ‘But who is your worshipable Devī?’

Siva Thakura said, ‘Listen, Viṣṇu is the greatest worshipable Deity, but there is someone beyond even Him.’

Pārvatī asked, ‘Who?’

Siva Thakura said:

ārādhanānāṁ sarveṣāṁ viṣṇor ārādhanaṁ param
tasmāt parataraṁ devī tadīyānāṁ samarcanam

Padma Purāṇa

Lord Siva told the goddess Durgā, ‘The worship of Lord Viṣṇu, or Kṛṣṇa, is topmost. However, above even that is the worship of His beloveds, who He considers more dear than Himself.

Siva Thakura said, ‘O Pārvatī, just worship Śrīmatī Rādhikā and the Vraja-devīs. Bhagavān Kṛṣṇa wanders in Vraja, begging and crying for the mercy of the Vraja-devīs.’”

Siva Thakura spoke to Pārvatī the Śrī Rādhā-kṛpā-kaṭākṣa-stavarāja, found in the Urdhvāmnāya-tantra:

munīndra-vṛnda-vandite tri-loka-śoka-hāriṇī
prasanna-vaktra-paṇkaje nikuñja-bhū-vilāsini
vrajendra-bhānu-nandini vrajendra-sūnu-saṅgate
kadā kariṣyasīha māṁ kṛpā-kaṭākṣa-bhājanam?

O Śrīmatī Rādhikā—Śukadeva, Nārada, Uddhava, and all the topmost munis are always offering prayers to Your lotus feet. Remembering You and praying for Your service miraculously removes all the miseries, sins, and offenses of the three spheres. Your joyful face blooms like a lotus and You delight in pastimes in the kuñjas of Vraja. You are the daughter of Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja and are the dearly beloved of Vrajendra-nandana, with whom You always perform loving pastimes—when, oh when, will You bestow upon me Your merciful sidelong glance?

The pilgrims camped in the evening at Vimala-kuṇḍa. The brahmacārīs soaked and washed the feet of the senior Vaiṣṇavas with hot water, then massaged them with warm oil to relieve their weariness and aches. Everyone then honored mahā-prasāda together. The brahmacārī in charge of cooking used money he previously collected to buy ingredients to make special preparations. As the Vaiṣṇavas sat to partake of mahā-prasāda, Śrīla Gurudeva would ask him, “What did you cook today?”

“Oh, nothing special,” he said, “just some rice, ālu-chokā, and dāl.”

The brahmacārīs distributed the rice, spiced mashed potatoes, and dāl. A few minutes later they brought out samosās, various types of pakoḍās, chutneys, and sweets, first offering them to Śrīla Janārdana Mahārāja and Śrīla Trikrama Mahārāja. They wouldn’t mention this beforehand or else Śrīla Gurudeva would shout abuses or even beat them. When the special items were distributed, they did not give Śrīla Gurudeva any or he would have flung it at them. Nonetheless, while the other senior Vaiṣṇavas were taking, the Vaiṣṇavas said, “O Mahārāja, it is very tasty. Take only a little. We know you have weak digestion, but just take a little.”

They then gave Śrīla Gurudeva a small portion. He would first take only a taste, but afterwards they filled his plate with more and more, and all the senior Vaiṣṇavas laughed together—Gurudeva himself then started laughing.

Gurudeva had a jovial humor. When the cook used too much salt, Gurudeva would comment, “Today Varuṇa-deva (the Ocean-god) has definitely come and left a gift for us in the prasāda. He came with his crocodile and put an extra bag of salt in the sabji.”

During Kārtika the cooking was commonly done under a neem tree, and a few neem leaves would often fall into the cooking. Śrīla Gurudeva sometimes found a neem leaf while partaking of prasāda and would comment, “Today, Nimāi has jumped inside the sabji.”

While honoring prasāda, Śrīla Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja, Śrīla Trikrama Gosvāmī Mahārāja, and Śrīla Gurudeva would sit in a row. Trivikrama Mahārāja would be served extra red chili powder and ghee on top of his prasādam. Śrīla Gurudeva would receive simple boiled sabji—no oil, no chili, and a very low amount of salt. Śrīla Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja was tolerant and tranquil; he never said anything about what to serve or not.

Śrīla Trikrama Mahārāja would put some of his sabji with chili and ghee on Śrīla Gurudeva’s plate, saying, “Hey Mahārāja, just taste this! Taste how wonderful it is! You will never understand bhakti-rasa until you eat like this! Bhakti is full of rasa—flavor. If you don’t take spices, chili, and ghee, how will you be strong and able to follow mādhurya-rasa?”

Śrīla Gurudeva tried a small portion and shouted, “Aargh, tāmasi! How can you eat like this?”

“This is not tāmasika, it is cutuli!” Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja said.
He had a harsh tongue and did not balk from the strongest language.

In one moment Śrīla Gurudeva and Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja would appear to argue and the next minute they would speak affectionately to each other.

When everyone was preparing to rest for the evening, Śrīla Gurudeva instructed the brahmacārī who served him, “First go massage my ghastha godbrothers; only then can you serve me.”

The brahmacārī complained, saying, “You are a sannyāsī and they are ghasthas; we will serve them later.”

“Vaiṣṇavas are not family men or renunciants,” Śrīla Gurudeva replied. “They have a relation with Mahāprabhu and their lives are dedicated to Guru and Vaiṣṇavas! You cannot be cleansed of anarthas and feel the bliss of bhakti without serving the Vaiṣṇavas.”

From that day on they would serve Śrīla Gurudeva after first serving the ghastha Vaiṣṇavas.

The brahmacārīs massaged the sannyāsīs before they rested. In those days there were no water taps or nearby pumps for water. The brahmacārīs would collect water from Vimala-kuṇḍa for all the sannyāsīs to bathe, clean their teeth and so on. They also arranged oil, soap, tree twigs used as toothbrushes, and other items for the sannyāsīs to use. A cheerful, light-hearted mood was prevalent amongst the devotees.

Sometimes the sannyāsīs would bathe at Vimala-kuṇḍa. Even old and grave sannyāsīs would swim from one side to the other in Vimala-kuṇḍa and play with each other. Seeing all the sannyāsīs swimming and playing, what brahmacārī would be able to sit quietly? All the brahmacārīs would join the fun.

Śrīla Trivikrama Gosvāmī Mahārāja was heavyset and physically very strong. He would float like Anantadeva Śeṣanāga on top of the water, and he resembled a boat. Śrīla Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja was grave and peaceful; he would bathe quickly and come out. Śrīla Gurudeva was lean and energetic and would vigorously swim across the kuṇḍa and back with great speed.

“In your past life you were a stallion,” Śrīla Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja joked with Śrīla Gurudeva, “always prancing around!”

One morning, Śrīla Gurudeva asked a brahmacārī, “Do you know who is an advanced Vaiṣṇava here?”

“All are exalted Vaiṣṇavas here,” the brahmacārī said.

“Oh, you don’t know,” Śrīla Gurudeva said. “You have no knowledge. Last night I saw everything.”

“Where? Who?”

“I saw a great Vaiṣṇava. Viṣṇu Mahārāja sits for the complete night on the bank of Vimala-kuṇḍa, calling out, ‘Hā Guru Mahārāja! Hā Śrīmatī Rādhikā! Hā Kṛṣṇa! Hā Lalitā! Ha Rūpa!’”

“Doesn’t he sleep at all?” he asked.

“No,” Gurudeva said, “he rolls in the dust and cries out for mercy all night. How can you understand? In the daytime he is silent, but at night he doesn’t sleep a single minute.”

“Then you also must not sleep at night? Otherwise, how would you see Viṣṇu Mahārāja’s bhajana? You must also be chanting all night?”

“Yes,” Śrīla Gurudeva said haltingly. “I was also chanting, but only watching my godbrother. I have faith that my Guru Mahārāja is merciful to me. Before, I thought only the seniors can give mercy. But now I understand that if anyone has love and affection for Bhagavān and Śrī Guru-pāda-padma, he has so much mercy to give. Therefore, respect everybody.”

In the morning the villagers would bring buttermilk, hot capātīs and guḍ. After kīrtana, hari-kathā, and a light breakfast, the Parikramā set off.

At Phisalanī Śilā, the stone slide where Kṛṣṇa would play with the sakhās and sakhīs, Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja would quietly come up behind Śrīla Gurudeva and push him down the slide. Śrīla Gurudeva, Śrīla Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja, Śrīla Trivikrama Gosvāmī Mahārāja, and all the sannyāsīs and brahmacārīs played at this slide like the Vrajavāsīs. A spirit of camaraderie pervaded among the group.

When the Parikrāma party arrived at Caraṇa-pahāḍī, Śrīla Gurudeva requested Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja to give a lecture on the glories of that place.

“This is not my center,” Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja said. “My sakhās are down below. I will speak there. This place is your territory, so you should speak. You are always disposed towards the ladies.”

“Yes,” Śrīla Gurudeva answered, “but we are both wearing sārīs. Here no one is a gentleman. We are all sannyāsīs, followers of the gopīs.”

The apparel of a sannyāsī could be said to be like a sari, being a cloth rolled around the waist with no back pleat and an upper cloth around the chest.

Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja then started kīrtana about the glories of taking shelter of Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet. He sang in a slow tune that was difficult to follow, being unique to him.

ekhana bujhinu prabho tomāra caraṇa
aśoka-abhayāmṛta pūrṇa sarva-kṣaṇa

sakala chāḍiyā tuwā caraṇa-kamale
paṛiyāchi āmi nātha tava pada-tale

tava pāda padma nātha rakṣibe āmāre
āra rakṣā-kartā nāhi e bhava-saṁsāre

āmi tava nitya-dāsa jāninu e-bāra
āmāra pālana-bhāra ekhana tomāra

baḍa duḥkha pāiyāchi svatantra jīvane
saba duḥkha dūre gela o pada varaṇe

Śaraṇāgati

O Master, I now understand that Your feet bestow immortal nectar that grants freedom from fear and suffering. Giving up everything, I prostrate myself at Your feet, my Lord. There is no true source of protection apart from Your feet. I now understand that I am Your eternal servant. Thus my maintenance is now Your responsibility. I have suffered dearly in a life spent independent of You. Now I have been freed of all my misery by taking shelter of Your feet.

In the middle of his singing, Śrīla Gurudeva would sometimes pinch Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja, and when Gurudeva was singing Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja would occassionly poke Gurudeva. They would regularly tease and joke with each other.

Śrīla Gurudeva next sang:

śrī rādhā-kṛṣṇa pada-kamale māna
kemone labhibe carama śaraṇa
cira-dina koriyā o-caraṇa-āśa
āche he bosiyā e adhama dāsa

O mind, how can the lotus feet of Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa be attained? Desiring that ultimate shelter, this fallen servant has been waiting since me immemorial.

he rādhe! he kṛṣṇacandra! bhakata prāṇa
pāmare yugala-bhakti kor’ dāna
bhakti-hīna boli’ nā koro upekṣā
mūrkha-jane deho’ jñāna-suśikṣā

O Rādhe! O Kṛṣṇacandra! O life and soul of the devotees, please bestow upon this wicked person the gift of bhakti to You. Please do not neglect me, considering my lack of devotion. Give this fool spiritual knowledge and instructions.

Śrīla Trikrama Mahārāja then grabbed the microphone from Śrīla Gurudeva and sang the next line—viṣaya-pipāsā-prapīḍita-dāse—“I am so troubled by my thirst for material enjoyment.”

Śrīla Gurudeva took the microphone back and sang again.
When coming to the verse:

yugala sevāya, śrī rāsa-maṇḍale
niyukta koro’ āmāya
lalitā sakhīra, ayogyā kiñkorī
vinoda dhariche pāya

Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja again took the microphone and repeatedly sang: “viṣaya-pipāsā-prapīḍita-dāse, viṣaya-pipāsā-prapīḍita-dāse.”

In the evening, while the brahmacārī massaged Gurudeva, Gurudeva said, “Today there was a big fight.”

“Oh?” the brahmacārī said.

“Yes,” Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja said, “I soundly defeated Mahārāja.”

“Defeated me!” Śrīla Gurudeva shouted. “Halfwit! You only sing, ‘Viṣaya-pipāsā, viṣaya-pipāsā, viṣaya-pipāsā! What is this? Why don’t you chant—yugala sevāya, śrī rāsa-maṇḍale niyukta koro’ āmāya? What is viṣaya? Bogus! You should sing—lalitā sakhīra, ayogyā kiñkorī vinoda dhariche pāya.

The next morning, as Śrīla Gurudeva was brushing his teeth, Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja said to him, “You did not sleep last night. I can tell by your red eyes. You were only thinking, ‘Lalitā-sakhī, Lalitā-sakhī, Lalitā-sakhī!’ You never think about Kṛṣṇa! Only remembering ladies! Humph!”

Śrīla Gurudeva flung down his toothbrush and threw a mugful of water at Śrīla Trikrama Mahārāja.

Machlī khor!” Śrīla Gurudeva shouted.

Sattū khor!” Śrīla Trivikrāma Mahārāja rejoined.

Everyone present burst into laughter. For a minute Śrīla Gurudeva was silent; then Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja said, “Now I understand. You have been rejected and are lamenting; therefore you are distempered.”

What is the meaning of this scene between Śrīla Gurudeva and Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja? Kṛṣṇa had rejected Candrāvalī and went to Śrīmatī Rādhikā, and then Trivikrama Mahārāja chimed, “Rejected! Rejected!” implying Gurudeva was in Candrāvalī’s party.

Śrīla Gurudeva understood his hint. Becoming red in the face, Gurudeva angrily answered, “Yes, now Jaṭilā and Kuṭilā have come with Abhimanyu! You better run quickly.”

The brahmacārīs clapped and laughed. May the Guru-varga give us a clean heart and mind; then we can comprehend their language and our life will be successful.

When coming to Setubandha, where one can still see the remains of the bridge built by Kṛṣṇa, Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja shouted, “Jaya Hanumān!” and jumped high next to Gurudeva. He teased Śrīla Gurudeva like this, knowing that Gurudeva had so much love for the Rāmāyaṇa.

Śrīla Gurudeva quoted Śrī Tulasī dāsa’s Rāmā-carita-mānasa, saying:

bāri mathe ghrita haye boru, sikhatāte boru tel

vina hari-bhajana iha bhava na tariha ye siddhānta apel

I would sooner believe that oil can be ground from sand or butter churned from water than that a man’s freedom from birth and death can come about without the performance of hari-bhajana. This is the conclusive truth.

Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja then teased Śrīla Gurudeva by shouting, “Jaya Sītā-Rāma, Jaya Hanumān!”

“Jaya Rādhānātha,” Gurudeva replied, “Jaya Rādhānātha!”

Rādhānatha, or he whose worshipable deity is Rādhā, was the brahmacārī name of Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja, but Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja always took Kṛṣṇa’s side, as part of his jesting with Gurudeva. So Gurudeva teased him by saying, “Jaya Rādhānatha.”

At Setubandha, Śrīla Gurudeva and Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja would argue about how the bridge originated. One group would side with Śrīla Gurudeva and another with Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja.

Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja said, “At this place the sakhās told Kṛṣṇa, ‘Rāma made a bridge to Laṅkā. We know You can make an even stronger bridge to the island in this lake.’

“Another sakhā said, ‘Rāma did not build the bridge, the monkeys did.’

“ ‘The monkeys were Rāma’s dear friends,’ another sakhā said, ‘so they made  for Him. We are Kṛṣṇa’s friends; we will make it for Him.’

“They chanted, ‘Jaya Kanhaiyā-lāl ki, jaya dāū-bhaiyā ki!’ and threw the stones in the water. The stones miraculously floated and a bridge was soon built. The sakhās crossed it and said, ‘Just see the glories of our Kanhaiyā.’ ”

Śrīla Gurudeva said, “The bridge was made by Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s śakti, not Kṛṣṇa’s. When Kṛṣṇa claimed to be Rāma, the gopīs challenged Him to make a bridge over this kuṇḍa. Kṛṣṇa called many monkeys and they came and threw stones into the water, but at first they would not float. Then the monkeys chanted Rādhārani’s holy name, and the stones floated.”

“Before, Rāmacandra’s monkeys carried stones and made a bridge,” Trivikrama Mahārāja said. “Now, Rāmacandra’s nearest and dearest sevaka, Gaura Nārāyaṇa, will show his devotion for Rāma by carrying stones here and making a new bridge across the kuṇḍa.”

Śrīla Gurudeva laughed and then told a story:

“Once Hanumān and Arjuna met and argued over who was greater: Rāma or Kṛṣṇa. Hanumān said, ‘Rāmacandra is greatest.’

“Arjuna said, ‘Kṛṣṇa can create thousands of Rāmas in a moment. Your Rāma built the bridge with the help of monkeys. My Kṛṣṇa is so powerful, with one arrow He can make a bridge in a second.’ Hanumān said, ‘Okay, make a bridge over this river here with your arrows and then we will understand who is more powerful, my Rāma, or your Kṛṣṇa.’ Arjuna took his bow and arrows and quickly built a bridge across the river.

“Hanumān said, ‘I will touch this bridge and break  into many pieces with one hair of my body.’

“Hanumān shouted, ‘Jaya Sītā-Rāma!’ and put one foot on the bridge. But it didn’t break. Then Hanumān put another foot on the bridge, and the bridge slightly shook. Looking below, Hanumān saw the river flowing red with blood. He then saw that Rāmacandra was holding up the bridge and bleeding from all the arrows. When Arjuna looked below, he saw Kṛṣṇa was holding up the bridge. They both came down and prayed,
‘O Prabhu, forgive me, please stop holding the bridge.’ The Supreme Lord was present in His original form, but to Hanumān He was Rāma and to Arjuna He was Kṛṣṇa. The Lord said, ‘I had to uphold My devotees’ honor.’ ”

Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja then shouted, “Jaya Śrī Rāma!”

After staying in Kāmyavana for three days and nights, the Parikramā returned by bus to Mathurā to prepare for the Annakūṭa festival. On the return journey, they stopped and visited Dhuleḍā Gaon, the village named by the sight of all the dust (dhūla) raised from the cow’s hooves that filled the sky when they returned from grazing in the pastures. The Parikramā then halted at Āṭoa, the place where Kṛṣṇa happily played with His sakhās throughout the day; they then stopped at Bajerā, the birthplace of the twins Raṅgadevī and Sudevī; and then at Sunaharā Gaon, where Śrīmatī Rādhārānī worshiped Mahādeva while wearing a golden necklace (sunaharā). Next, the party visited Kadamba-khaṇḍī, which is one of the sites of Radha-Kṛṣṇa’s Rāsa dance, and then returned to Mathurā.

Srila Gurudeva ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Sri Guru Darshan”. Available from: [email protected] )

 

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