Today is Bhadra Purnima, a very auspicious and special day for all the devotees of lord Krishna.
Today is Visvarupa- mahotsava , the date on which Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s elder brother, Visvarupa, took sannyasa, the renounced order of life. We hear from Caitanya Caritamrta –
After this, Jagannātha Miśra got a son of the name Viśvarūpa, who was most powerful and highly qualified because He was an incarnation of Baladeva.
Viśvarūpa was the elder brother of Gaurahari, Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. When arrangements were being made for the marriage of Viśvarūpa, He took sannyāsa and left home. He took the sannyāsa name of Śaṅkarāraṇya. In 1431 Śakābda Era (A.D. 1509), He disappeared in Pāṇḍarapura, in the district of Sholapur. As an incarnation of Saṅkarṣaṇa, He is both the ingredient and immediate cause of the creation of this material world. He is nondifferent from Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, for the aṁśa and the aṁśī, or the part and the whole, are not different. As an incarnation of Saṅkarṣaṇa, Viśvarūpa belongs to the quadruple manifestation of catur-vyūha. In the Gaura-candrodaya it is said that Viśvarūpa, after His so-called demise, remained mixed within Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu.
Sri Narayana said to Brahma, O saintly brahmana! among all of my festivals, the celebration of the appearance of Srimad Bhagavatam is the best. I am subdued by persons who with devotion and love hear, decorate and worship Srimad Bhagavatam, with clothes, ornaments, flowers, incense and lamp during festivals, just as a chaste wife subdues her husband.
So Bhadra Purnima is a great day to gift Srimad Bhagavatam to someone close to us, including bringing Srimad Bhagavatam in our own home. We can also start reading Srimad Bhagavatam from today and even dedicate ourselves to read at least verse from SB daily. There are multiple ways we can serve the lotus feet of Srimad Bhagavatam this Bhadra Purnima and reap the benediction Krishna has kindly left for us.
Srila Sanatana Goswami prays to Srimad Bhagavatam ( and we can pray the same) –
O Srimad-Bhagavatam, I offer respectful obeisances unto You. By reading you one attains transcendental bliss, for Your syllables rain pure love of God upon the reader. You are always to be served by everyone, for you are an incarnation of Krishna.
O Srimad-Bhagavatam, O my only friend, O my companion, O my teacher, O my great wealth, O my deliverer, O my good fortune, O my bliss, I offer respectful obeisances unto you.
O Srimad-Bhagavatam, O giver of saintliness to the unsaintly, O uplifter of the very fallen, please do not ever leave me. Please become manifested upon my heart and my throat, accompanied by pure love of Krishna.
Sixty years ago, on this very day, Srila Prabhupada took sannyasa for us. He accepted the order of sannyasa from Sri Srimad Bhaktiprajnana Kesava Maharaja on September 17, 1959 at the Kesavaji Matha in Mathura.
I was sitting alone in Vṛndāvana, writing. My Godbrother insisted to me, “Bhaktivedanta Prabhu, you must do it. Without accepting the renounced order of life, nobody can become a preacher.” So he insisted. Not he insisted; practically my spiritual master insisted. He wanted me to become a preacher, so he forced me through this Godbrother: “You accept.” So, unwillingly I accepted.
Abhay sat on a mat of kuśa grass beside ninety-year-old Sanātana, also to receive sannyāsa that day. Sitting opposite the two candidates, Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja, Keśava Mahārāja’s disciple, prepared to conduct the ceremony of mantras and offerings of grains and ghee into the fire. Akiñcana Kṛṣṇadāsa Bābājī, Abhay’s Godbrother, known for sweet singing, played mṛdaṅga and sang Vaiṣṇava bhajanas. Sitting on a raised āsana, His Holiness Keśava Mahārāja presided. Since there had been no notices or invitations, only the maṭha’s few residents attended.
Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja chanted the required mantras and then sat back silently while Keśava Mahārāja lectured. Then, to everyone’s surprise, Keśava Mahārāja asked Abhay to speak. Abhay had not expected this. As he looked around at the gathering of devotees, he understood that the common language was Hindi; only Keśava Mahārāja and a few others spoke English. Yet he knew he must speak in English.
After Abhay’s speech, each initiate received his sannyāsa-daṇḍa, the traditional head-high staff made of four bamboo rods bound together and completely enwrapped in saffron cloth. They were given their sannyāsa garments: one piece of saffron cloth for a dhotī, one for a top piece, and two strips for underwear. They also received tulasī neck beads and the sannyāsa-mantra. Keśava Mahārāja said that Abhay would now be known as Bhaktivedanta Swami Mahārāja and that Sanātana would be Muni Mahārāja. After the ceremony, the two new sannyāsīs posed for a photo, standing on either side of their sannyāsa-guru, who sat in a chair.
Keśava Mahārāja didn’t impose any strictures on Abhay; he simply encouraged him to go on preaching. Yet Abhay knew that to become A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami did not mean merely that he was giving up family, home comforts, and business. That he had done five years ago. Changing from white cloth to saffron cloth, from Abhay Bābū to Bhaktivedanta Swami Mahārāja, had a special significance: it was the mandate he had required, the irrevocable commitment. Now it was only a matter of time before Bhaktivedanta Swami would travel to the West as Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī had ordained. This was Bhaktivedanta Swami’s realization of his new sannyāsa status.
“The Krishna consciousness movement is not that we are asking everyone to become a sannyāsī like me, and give up everything. No. That is not our program. You act as a brāhmaṇa, as a kṣatriya or a vaiśya or a śūdra. It doesn’t matter. But you try to satisfy Krishna. That is the program.”
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Bombay, December 30, 1972)
Srila Prabhupada’s special relationship with Bhagavatam
When asked, “Are you going to America?” Srila Prabhupada replied, “No, Srimad-Bhagavatam is going to America—I am going with it.”
In your recent prayers, you asked me ‘My dear Krishna what can I do to become dear to you.’ This thought in itself is very commendable so I’m sharing with you what qualities I would like in my children. If you try to sincerely inculcate these qualities then there is no doubt that you will become very dear to me.
One who is not envious but is a kind friend to all living entities, who does not think himself a proprietor and is free from false ego, who is equal in both happiness and distress, who is tolerant, always satisﬁed, self-controlled, and engaged in devotional service with determination, his mind and intelligence ﬁxed on Me – such a devotee of Mine is very dear to Me.
He by whom no one is put into difﬁculty and who is not disturbed by anyone, who is equipoised in happiness and distress, fear and anxiety, is very dear to Me.
My devotee who is not dependent on the ordinary course of activities, who is pure, expert, without cares, free from all pains, and not striving for some result, is very dear to Me.
One who neither rejoices nor grieves, who neither laments nor desires, and who renounces both auspicious and inauspicious things – such a devotee is very dear to Me.
One who is equal to friends and enemies, who is equipoised in honor and dishonor, heat and cold, happiness and distress, fame and infamy, who is always free from contaminating association, always silent and satisﬁed with anything, who doesn’t care for any residence, who is ﬁxed in knowledge and who is engaged in devotional service – such a person is very dear to Me.
Those who follow this imperishable path of devotional service and who completely engage themselves with faith, making Me the supreme goal, are very, very dear to Me.
Today I am sharing a wonderful verse and its stunning purport which touches, or should touch, the very core of every devotee’s heart and soul as this purport accommodates the very essence of Gaudiya philosophy and in a very simple to understand language. This unique purport has the potency to bestow upon any sincere and serious devotee a set of master keys to access and open multiple closed doors within our heart. What better day than Radha Ashtami to try to open the close doors within our heart. All the best!
jīvañ chavo bhāgavatāṅghri-reṇuṁ na jātu martyo ’bhilabheta yas tu śrī-viṣṇu-padyā manujas tulasyāḥ śvasañ chavo yas tu na veda gandham
The person who has not at any time received the dust of the feet of the Lord’s pure devotee upon his head is certainly a dead body. And the person who has never experienced the aroma of the tulasī leaves from the lotus feet of the Lord is also a dead body, although breathing.
According to Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, the breathing dead body is a ghost. When a man dies, he is called dead, but when he again appears in a subtle form not visible to our present vision and yet acts, such a dead body is called a ghost. Ghosts are always very bad elements, always creating a fearful situation for others. Similarly, the ghostlike nondevotees who have no respect for the pure devotees, nor for the Viṣṇu Deity in the temples, create a fearful situation for the devotees at all times. The Lord never accepts any offering by such impure ghosts.
There is a common saying that one should first love the dog of the beloved before one shows any loving sentiments for the beloved. The stage of pure devotion is attained by sincerely serving a pure devotee of the Lord. The first condition of devotional service to the Lord is therefore to be a servant of a pure devotee, and this condition is fulfilled by the statement “reception of the dust of the lotus feet of a pure devotee who has also served another pure devotee.” That is the way of pure disciplic succession, or devotional paramparā.
Mahārāja Rahūgaṇa inquired from the great saint Jaḍa Bharata as to how he had attained such a liberated stage of a paramahaṁsa, and in answer the great saint replied as follows (Bhāg. 5.12.12):
rahūgaṇaitat tapasā na yāti na cejyayā nirvapaṇād gṛhād vā na cchandasā naiva jalāgni-sūryair vinā mahat-pāda-rajo-’bhiṣekam
“O King Rahūgaṇa, the perfectional stage of devotional service, or the paramahaṁsa stage of life, cannot be attained unless one is blessed by the dust of the feet of great devotees. It is never attained by tapasya [austerity], the Vedic worshiping process, acceptance of the renounced order of life, the discharge of the duties of household life, the chanting of the Vedic hymns, or the performance of penances in the hot sun, within cold water or before the blazing fire.”
In other words, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the property of His pure, unconditional devotees, and as such only the devotees can deliver Kṛṣṇa to another devotee; Kṛṣṇa is never obtainable directly. Lord Caitanya therefore designated Himself as gopī-bhartuḥ pada-kamalayor dāsa-dāsānudāsaḥ, or “the most obedient servant of the servants of the Lord, who maintains the gopī damsels at Vṛndāvana.” A pure devotee therefore never approaches the Lord directly, but tries to please the servant of the Lord’s servants, and thus the Lord becomes pleased, and only then can the devotee relish the taste of the tulasī leaves stuck to His lotus feet. In the Brahma-saṁhitā it is said that the Lord is never to be found by becoming a great scholar of the Vedic literatures, but He is very easily approachable through His pure devotee. In Vṛndāvana all the pure devotees pray for the mercy of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, the pleasure potency of Lord Kṛṣṇa. Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is a tenderhearted feminine counterpart of the supreme whole, resembling the perfectional stage of the worldly feminine nature. Therefore, the mercy of Rādhārāṇī is available very readily to the sincere devotees, and once She recommends such a devotee to Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Lord at once accepts the devotee’s admittance into His association. The conclusion is, therefore, that one should be more serious about seeking the mercy of the devotee than that of the Lord directly, and by one’s doing so (by the good will of the devotee) the natural attraction for the service of the Lord will be revived.
(Note: Some doors, having rusty locks, may not open in one go, however if we pray to Srimati Radharani and then read the above purport three times then we may be surprised to hear within our heart the sound of those rusty locks opening up this Radha Ashtami.)
During my initial days I heard HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj’s name often. I also had the good fortune to attend some of maharaj’s lectures at Punjabi Bagh. I was new and had no idea about Maharaj’s stature. I just knew that whenever maharaj would visit ISKCON Punjabi Bagh Temple, there was always more activity and extra enthusiasm in the devotees. But then the same was also the case when some other senior Sanyasis would come to the temple. I know maharaj was special but how special I didn’t know. I found maharaj’s lectures very simple, yet he had a special potency with which he will drill that simple message deep in my heart. HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj came across as a very humble and sincere sanyasi. That was my initial impression.
As I progressed a little in my spiritual journey and saw Maharaj, my respect for him grew by each day. Every time I would see maharaj, I would somehow try to get his attention in a polite manner. I would see Maharaj at Vrindavan, often at the mangal arti. As I heard more about HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj from my Guru Maharaj and other sanyasis my respect and greed to meet him grew every day.
Last year I was fortunate to receive a small gift from Maharaj, along with many others devotees, for service during the Book distribution Marathon, as HG Rukmini Prabhuji called me and introduced Maharaj to me, Maharaj told me that he would like to speak to me. Few months later I got a chance the meet maharaj for few minutes at Punjabi Bagh temple. In that meeting HH Gopal Krishna Maharaj asked me about myself and how I became a devotee. When I shared that one of my friend gave me Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad Gita and my life changed. In a very innocent manner maharaj smiled and replied how by simply reading Bhagavad Gita his life changed, this shows the potency of Bhagavad Gita ‘as it is’ and the need to distribute it. Maharaj asked me the name of the person who gave me Bhagavad Gita. Then to my utter shock Maharaj said he would like to meet my friend and thank him!
(p.s.- Maharaj did meet that friend, Mukul Harmilapi, after a few months and thanked him personally!)
I still hankered for a personal meeting with Maharaj but no such chance came as whenever I saw him he was always surrounded with devotees and I knew I stood no chance to catch maharaj’s attention among so many senior and sincere devotees.
Then on the day before Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance day I saw Maharaj twice in Vrindavan. First as I carried the Palanquin carrying Srila Prabhupada deity, Maharaj walked right in front of me for some time. Then the same day as I was assisting in serving lunch to senior devotees in the Balaram hall, in walked maharaj! I was so happy just to see maharaj walking in. Maharaj took prasadam. he ate very light. I tried to serve some vegetables and later some sweets but maharaj did not took anything else, but for me I had served Maharaj.
I saw maharaj many times during Kartik at Vrindavan. Strange as it may sound but every time I see Maharaj my hankering to meet him personally grows and I like him more and more at a personal level. Without actually knowing maharaj I seem to develop faith and relationship with Maharaj.
I also hear with awe as Sumeet Prabhu would explain me regularly his meetings with maharaj, he seem to meet maharaj every other month with ease, his family was close to Maharaj. While we were speaking about various sanyasis and glorifying them, we again came back to discuss HH Gopal Krishna Maharaj. We remembered how HH Janananda Maharaj glorified maharaj the other day at Vrindavan, when we went to meet him. He said sanyasis like HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj, Bhakti Charu Maharaj, Jayapataka Maharaj, RadhaNath Swami are all pure and special souls and without special mercy of Srila Prabhupada they can’t do what they are achieving. He specially glorified Maharaj as maharaj handles all the tricky challenges in Russia and is also in change of all the big temples being constructed, still has strong Sadhna Bhakti and time for deity worship.
I remember HG Rukmini Prabhuji telling us early this year in one of the lectures that when asked what is Maharaj’s secret, HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj replied ‘Strong morning Program‘ ! A simple statement which underlines Maharaj’s message and instruction for all of us.
Sumeet Prabhu told me a very interesting incident. When his father was not initiated, he helped HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj to get a bank loan sanctioned from IOB Bank where he used to work. During one of the meetings Maharaj glorified his father, thanked him and folded his hands as a matter of respect. Later Summet Prabhu’s brother, who was maharaj’s initiated disciple, told Maharaj that maharaj should not have offered so much respect to his father as it was their duty to serve in this spiritual movement. Maharaj replied that there were many reasons why he did it
1. His father has not surrendered to Maharaj, only the son.
2. His father was an elder person in age and therefore must be respected as per material world norms
3. He helped in Prabhupada’s mission which is the savior of mankind; such people who help in this process should be profusely thanked
4. By showing etiquette of folding hands, it creates softness in heart and respect for ISKCON.
We can learn so much from maharaj as to how to practice humility and Vaishanava etiquette. I thought that I uselessly read books and try to find how to become humble when I can listen to Maharaj’s pastimes and learn directly from his behavior.
Few weeks back I found courage to request HG Vidur Priya Prabhuji to please request Maharaj to visit our new home and bless us with his lotus feet. Sumeet Prabhu told me that it is very difficult because Maharaj has a very busy schedule and also as Maharaj has thousands of disciples in Delhi/NCR so it becomes difficult to please each disciple. Hence maharaj meets everyone at the local temple only. Logical, but I was hankering for his mercy. I thought some day I may get lucky. And as a bonus the hankering keeps Maharaj in my thoughts.
( p.s. – By the mercy of devotees, HH Gopal krishna Goswami Maharaj finally showered his mercy upon us as maharaj visited our new home on Diwali eve. Maharaj was the first person to enter our new home, we shifted after maharaj’s visit)
I will try to please HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj by trying to serve devotees at Gurgaon and Punjabi Bagh temple with whatever little efforts I can do.
Today morning I received a message from wordpress that today is the 6th anniversary of our blog site, forthepleasureoflordkrishna.com. It was a surprise for me as I felt that I started writing only 2-3 years back.
I tried to recall what prompted me to start writing a blog. It was a sharp urge within me to start writing. Before starting this blog I had never written anything in my whole life. I did my schooling from a Hindi medium school so my command over English language was quite poor and remains so even now. I was also shy and introvert. Still I felt a continuous urge to start writing. I did not know anyone in my circle who could help me so I searched on internet, found a site which gave step by step instructions on how to register a name for blog and start writing. It was a simple procedure even for a novice like myself.
I also checked the day when I wrote the first blog. The first blog is dated 23rd Aug 2013. The day before, 22nd August was the day Srila Prabhupada left for US and 21st August was Balaram Purnima, appearance day of Lord Balaram. I do not remember anything about the date but in all probability I would have started written the blog on 21st or 22nd August and would have posted it on 23rd August, without realising that the blog would show the date I posted rather than the one I started writing.
Today I also opened the first blog I wrote, reading it brought a smile on my face as I realised that I named this blog based on a SB lecture I heard from HG Rukmini Krishna prabhu, temple president of ISKCON Punjabi Bagh. In those days I used to go to ISKCON Punjabi Bagh temple twice a week, I would drive from Gurgaon to Delhi, hear Prabhuji’s lecture, honor prasadam, quickly change my clothes in the car and then rush to office, which at that time was a short drive from the Punjabi Bagh temple. Whatever little progress I have made in my spiritual journey is simply a gift from HG Rukmini Krishna Prabhu.
I remember my initial excitement when I started writing blogs on ISKCONDESIRETREE and seeing how many devotees have read it, they would show the no. of views on the blog. I did not know how many people are reading my main blog site as I did not know how to get access to this data. Once in a while it would show my blog as the blog of the month on ISKCONDESIRETREE and like a small kid I will approach HG Rukmini Krishna Prabhu and proudly show my ranking to him. Prabhuji was happy to see me finally engaged in some service and encouraged me like an affectionate father. Thank you so very much Rukmini Krishna prabhu, your approval and encouragement inspired me to continue to write.
Many devotees helped me in this effort. The foremost was my dear friend Shyamsundar Krishna prabhu, then Sumeet Gupta. He was happy to see me writing blogs and always left a comment for each blog I would post. He would call me after each blog and discuss it. Whenever I would seek his advice would give honest opinion on how to write properly. He knew my limitations but still encouraged to write. He also wrote a couple of blogs on this site. His encouragement meant a lot to me. Thank you Shyamsundar Krishna Prabhu, I will remain forever grateful to you for so many ways you helped me in this service.
Later I also started copying my blogs on dandavats and felt encouraged that I am able to serve more devotees. It was a big encouragement for me to see my blogs published on the same platform where articles written by so many senior devotees were published. Thank you dandavats team for posting my childish blogs. Then something changed again.
Due to pressure at office I suffered from lack of time. At the same time the wordpress software got updated multiple times, it became more complicated for me to write on blog, simple writing tools got vanished from the menu. My enthusiasm dwindled. I did not even renew site’s name, as a result the site went off the internet for few months. I was in double mind as to whether to continue to write on not.
Then I requested a very sincere and dear devotee in our group, Ronnie Prabhu, to help me out and he came forward. From finding small tools- how to justify a para, how to highlight a word in color, he would help me at any odd hour of the day. He also changed some settings and within few weeks the daily readership jumped 50%. All his efforts encouraged me to continue writing. Now for all practical purpose it is Ronnie prabhu is running this blog site, keeping tab on when to renew various registrations, which plugins to use, etc., for which I had no clue. I am simply writing, all the back-end is being managed by him. Thank you so very much Ronnie prabhu for all your support.
However it is all of you dear devotees and readers whose personal replies and comments on the blog kept me going. Without your response and encouragement this service would have stopped long time back. Thank you dear readers. Please feel free to leave your comments on the blog, write directly and give suggestions to improve the service.
Last but not the least I am most grateful to the lotus feet of My guru maharaj, all my shiksha gurus and to the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada, without their mercy there would be no inspiration, no writing and no blogs.
My spiritual journey started by reading Srila Prabhupada’s books. It is his lectures which inspire me to read his books carefully. It is Srila Prabhupada’s mood which inspires me to share the knowledge with everyone. And it is the potency of Srila Prabhupada’s purports which which attract visitors to this blog site. It is simply my own shortcoming that I am unable to present his teachings ‘as it is’. Thank you Srila Prabhupada. On the occasion of your appearance day yesterday, I did not offer anything. I am now offering this blog site at your lotus feet. I pray and hope that this small service be somehow pleasing to you and your followers.
How have we done so far?
You be the judge. Here are few statistics, some are a surprise even for me. Till date we have posted 271 blogs, an average of 3.7 blogs per month. A total of 95,121 visitors from 170 countries visited the blog. The highest number are from India (59,944) and USA (46,146) and lowest from Ethiopia and Haiti (1 each). The number of times all the blogs have been viewed is 1,62,043. Currently the average view per days is 148. We have 482 subscribers. On August 23rd, two days before this Janmashtami, we had the highest ever single day viewership of 796 views. The top three blogs, not counting the home page, are Krishna’s flutes (9,058 views), Demons in Krishna’s pastimes (3,364 views) and Sambhanda Abhidheya and prayojana (3,313 views).
With your kind blessings we will try to post more nectar from Srila Prabhupada’s purports. We are also trying to upload Srila Prabhupada’s entire audio lectures, properly indexed to each verse, on the site, which you we will be able to easily link via a free app with your smartphone and hear Srila Prabhupada’s indexed audio lectures at your own convenience. Kindly bless us that we can continue this service. Thank you once again dear readers.
At the end of Dvapara-yuga, which completely destroys faults and doubts, an auspicious, favorable, obstacle-free time appeared on the eighth day of the waning moon in Bhadra month. Just at that sweet moment the Rohini Naksatra, along with the good qualities of the moon and an auspicious conjunction of stars called Ayusman, appeared in the sky to give shelter to gentle persons.
Baby Krishna takes birth in Gokula
Everyone in the maternity room swelled with joy upon seeing the Lord’s exquisite transcendental form that looked like a creeper of beauty.
Mother Yasoda resembled a lake of spiritual ecstasy in which a brilliant blue lotus of personified bliss had appeared. Neither the wind nor the bees relished the fragrance of that blue lotus. That unborn lotus was never touched by the waves of the modes of nature. Even Lord Brahma could not see it, what to speak of ordinary men.
After Yasoda and her family members fell asleep in the maternity room, Hari cried beautifully like a newborn baby. His crying sounded like the maha-vakyaomkara announcing the auspicious arrival of His pastimes. Omkara is a transcendental vibration that had previously emanated from the mouth of Lord Brahma. When the ladies of Vrindavana heard the sweet sound of Krishna’s crying, they woke up and ran to see the Lord. With the mellow of their matchless overflowing affection they anointed His body.
Baby Krishna is tenderness personified
The natural fragrance of Krishna’s body smelled just like musk. After the ladies bathed Krishna in sweet ambrosia, He looked cleansed and beautiful. Then they smeared His body with fragrant sandalwood pulp. The presiding deity of the house sent a campaka flower resembling the flame of a lamp into the maternity room to worship that ornament of the three worlds.
With the strength of His little arms, delicate as the tender leaves of a tree, Krishna made all the lamps in the maternity room look like a garland of lotus flower buds. The ladies of Vrindavana saw baby Krishna like a blossoming flower made of the best of blue sapphires, or like a newly unfurled leaf of a tamala tree. Krishna looked like a fresh rain cloud decorated with the musk tilaka of the goddess of fortune of the three worlds. The ointment of the greatest auspiciousness lined His eyes. His presence filled the maternity room with good fortune. Although a mere baby, Krishna had a head full of curly hair. To hide the unique signs on His hands (goad, fish, conch etc.) the Lord folded His delicate petal-like fingers into His lotus palm. At that time Krishna laid on His back with His eyes closed.
Mother Yasoda and baby Krishna
Mother Yasoda awoke amidst the joyous chattering of the elderly gopis. Leaning over the bed she admired her gorgeous son. But upon noticing her own reflection on Krishna’s body, she imagined it another woman. Thinking that a witch had assumed her form to kidnap Krishna, Yasoda became bewildered and yelled, “Get out of here! You go away!” Spontaneously she cried out to Narsimhadeva to protect her precious son.
Beholding Krishna’s tender face, Yasoda showered tears of affection that looked like an offering of a pearl necklace. Yasoda saw Krishna’s body as a mound of dark blue musk, softer than the butter churned from the milk ocean. Overflowing with nectar, His charming body appeared like the foam of milk, but being dark blue in color it seemed the foam was full of musk juice. Admiring the supremely delicate form of her son, Yasoda worried about His safety and feared the touch of her body might hurt his tender body.
As she leaned over the bed Yasoda bathed Krishna with the milk dripping from her breasts. The elderly gopis instructed Yasoda how to caress the baby in her lap, and affectionately push the nipple of her breast into Krishna’s mouth to feed Him. Due to Yasoda’s intense love, personified bliss flowed from her breasts as steady streams of milk. When milk sometimes spilled out of Krishna’s bimba fruit red lips onto His cheeks, Mother Yasoda would wipe His face with the edge of her cloth. After feeding her son, Yasoda gazed affectionately at Him in wonder.
Alluring form of baby Krishna
She saw her child’s body as made of dazzling blue sapphires. His mouth resembled a red bimbafruit and His hands and feet looked like exquisite rubies. Krishna’s nails shone like precious gems. In this way, Yasoda thought her child was completely made of jewels. Then she perceived that His naturally reddish lips looked like bandhuka flowers, His hands and feel resembled Java flowers, His nails looked like mallika flowers. Yasoda then thought, “Krishna’s whole body seems to be made of blue lotus flowers. He does not appear to be mine.” After thus deliberating within herself Yasoda became stunned in amazement.
The beautiful, soft curly hairs on the right side of Krishna’s chest resembled the tender stems of a lotus. Seeing the mark of Srivatsa on His chest Yasoda thought it was breast milk that had previously spilled out of His mouth. She tried unsuccessfully to remove these ‘milk stains’ with the edge of her cloth. Struck with wonder, Yasoda thought this must be the sign of a great personality.
Observing the sign of Lakshmi (a small golden line) on the left side of Krishna’s chest, Yasoda thought a small yellow bee had made a nest amidst the leaves of a tamala tree. Could this be a streak of lightning resting on a rain cloud, or could it be the golden streaks marking a black gold-testing stone? Krishna’s delicate, leaf-like hands and fee glowing pink like the rising sun, looked like clusters of lotus flowers flowing in the Yamuna.
Baby Krishna’s captivating beauty
Sometimes Yasoda saw the curly, dark blue locks of baby Krishna as swarm of bumblebees surrounding His face. Intoxicated from drinking too much honey nectar, the bees just hovered in the sky. His thick, beautiful blue hair appeared like the dark night. The two lotus eyes of Krishna looked like a pair of blue lotus buds. His cheeks resembled two huge bubbles floating in a lake of liquefied blue sapphires. Krishna’s attractive ears looked like a pair of fresh unfurled leaves growing on a blue creeper.
The tip of Krishna’s dark nose appeared like the sprout of a tree, and His nostrils looked like bubbles in the Yamuna River, the daughter of the sun god. His lips resembled a pair of red Java flower buds. Krishna’s chin rivaled a pair of ripe, red jambu fruits. Seeing the extraordinary beauty of her son fulfilled the purpose of her eyes and submerged Yasoda in an ocean of bliss.
(Ananda Vrindavana Champu, chapter 2)
Please accept my very warm good wishes and prayers for a very auspicious Janmashtami.
All glories to the charming beauty of baby Krishna.
Today I am posting a letter by Srila Prabhupada to India’s then prime minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru – highlighting India’s unparalleled spiritual knowledge and heritage and urging the prime minister to help kick start a worldwide revolution based on spiritual realisation rather than simply desiring material prosperity.
Bombay 4 August, 1958
Pandit Sri Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India, New Delhi-2
My dear Pandit Ji,
Please accept my respectful Namaskar. I beg to inform you that your speech on 2/8/58 at the Gurukul University Haridwar, has given me some inspiration to inform you something about Indian culture. The basic principle of Indian culture is spiritualism which defies the external attraction of phenomenal materialism.
You are thinking of adjusting western ways of material adjustment with Indian culture of spiritualism and I beg to give you herewith the clue that materialism conducted with an aim of reaching spiritual perfection, is the right adjustment of human activity.
If the aim of spiritual realisation is missed, the whole plan of materialism is sure to be frustrated and that is the law of Nature. The law of nature is so made by a superior authority and no body can surpass the intricacies of material nature simply by partial adjustment of material science. The history of the West beginning from the time of the Greeks and the Romans down to the modern age of atomic war—is a continuous chain of sense gratificatory materialism and the result is that the westerners were never in peace within the memory of 3000 years of historical records. Neither it will be possible for them at any time in future to live in peace till the message of spiritualism just suitable to the present age does not reach their heart.
Therefore India may not waste her time in imitating the western way of life. You have admitted it that the position of India’s culture is of very high order. But at the same time you want to bring in material prosperity of India by scientific advancement of knowledge. And what is that scientific Knowledge? Spiritualism is also advanced scientific knowledge. Material advancement of scientific knowledge cannot give even the desired material prosperity to the people in general without spiritual help. Swaraj of Mahatma Gandhi was adjusted in spiritualism more than materialism. Do you think that horseless carriage or telephonic or radio communication or any other such ephemeral facilities of life, can bring in material prosperity? No it cannot. Material prosperity means that the people must have sufficient to eat or to maintain the body and soul together in sound health for further development in spiritual consciousness which is conspicuous by its absence in the sense gratificatory life of the animal. Do you think that your different plans have brought in that standard of material prosperity or that modern western civilization can bring in that ideal prosperity? Even they are given all the facilities of material need yet the unrest will continue to go on till there is spiritual satisfaction of life. That is the secret of peace.
Both the Americans and the Russians are better materially advanced and although they have different political philosophy of life till they are not materially happy and peaceful because both of them are unconciously hankering after spiritual realisation as the child cries for the mother without expression by language. You can help the people of the world for satisfying their spiritual hankering as the true Indian messenger of peace. The world has recognized your sincere effort for endeavouring peace in the world and this is the suitable time to help your friends and at the same time glorify the standard of Indian spiritual advancement of knowledge for world peace. Please take up the matter in cool brain.
Poverty means poverty of knowledge. Prime minister Canakya Pandit used to live in a thatched house or cottage but he was the dictator of India in the days of Emperor Candra Gupta. Mahatma Gandhi your political Guru voluntarily accepted the ways of the so called poor Indians and still he was the dictator of India’s destiny. But was he actually poverty sticken on account of his plain living with the primitive charkha? He was always proud of his spiritual knowledge. Therefore it is the spiritual knowledge which makes a man really rich and not the radio set or the motor car. Please therefore try to understand this position of Indian culture and try to give it to the western brothers in the prescribed standard method of the liberated persons and that will be an exchange of Indian culture with western material advancement and necessarily bring in a happy life in the peaceful world.
Here is a programme of spiritual movement (an appeal enclosed herewith). I am struggling alone very hard to give it an effective shape without any help from persons like you. You can help the movement a lot without the least difficulty or disturbances.
My humble advice to you, as I am your old friend from Allahabad, is that you should now take leave form you present responsibility of Prime ministership and as you are a popular gentleman of the world you can just engage the rest of your most valuable life in this organized spiritual movement to achieve the aim of your life which is yet to be known by the __ the world. By pushing on this authorized spiritual movement you can make a real adjustment of the western material science combined with Indian way of spiritual realisation.
Please therefore think over this proposal very seriously and let me know your reaction upon it and oblige. If you can spare a little time, I am sure to convince you about its importance more quickly. Thanking you in anticipation and awaiting your early reply.
Yours sincerely, A.C. B.
Private letter per registered post Enclosure:-1.
Srila Prabhupada didn’t receive reply to his letter.
But this letter, like it’s glorious author, is self-illumined. We can spend a couple of hours explaining deeper points put across in such a simple and easy to understand manner, the quality of analogies and examples used is simply outstanding. Srila Prabhupada’s conviction in India’s spiritual knowledge and values shines bright. And this is Srila Prabhupada in 1958!
An intelligent person should therefore discuss, contemplate and analyse this thought-provoking letter for its practical application. We can also use this letter as a yardstick to measure our own conviction in spiritual values and spiritual realisation. And finally to check what is my priority in life :- Spiritual realisation or material prosperity?
Today is Guru Purnima, appearance day of Sri Vyasadeva, who compiled all the vedas in a written form, towards the end of dwapar Yuga.
Srila Prabhupada is widely respected as the foremost Vedic scholar, translator, and teacher of the modern era, a great proponent of Bhakti yoga, but he did much more. Sri Vyasadeva compiled all vedic knowledge in written form in sanskrit language. Srila Prabhupada compiled most prominent vedic scriptures in an easy to understand English language, the modern universal language, translating more than 70 books and then ornamenting these scriptures with his famous Bhaktivedanta purports.
Srila Prabhupada translated and wrote commentary on the universally most accepted and acknowledged vedic scripture – Bhagavad Gita. He also enlightened a confused and misdirected innocent public with the topmost vedic scripture- Srimad Bhagavatam. Srila Prabhupada also translated and wrote commentary on SriCaitanya Caritamrta, thus giving access to the universal teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to all the humanity. He translated Isopanishad, Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu, and many other vedic scriptures, explaining all them in their originally intended meaning or ‘as it is’. Every single word written by him is now quoted and accepted as a vedic reference.
Yesterday, while reading Srimad Bhagavatam, I came across below para.
As for Hiraṇyakaśipu, although he was extremely inimical toward the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he always thought of his son, who was a great devotee. Therefore by the grace of his son, Prahlāda Mahārāja, Hiraṇyakaśipu was also delivered by the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The above para explains how even a demon like Hiraṇyakaśipu got liberated simply by constantly thinking about his own son Prahlada, who was a great devotee of Lord Krishna. As I read the above lines I realised how these lines are also true for all of us, at least for my own self. We all have demoniac tendencies in our heart but if we develop love for Srila Prabhupada then Krishna will deliver us as well.
This way also connects us via Raga marga, which entails following one of the eternal associate of Krishna in Vrindavan, with an intense desire to love and serve that particular devotee. Who better to follow than Srila Prabhupada, an eternal associate of Krishna in Vrindavan!
Develop spontaneous attraction for Srila Prabhupada.
An advanced devotee is attracted by the service rendered by an eternal servitor of the Lord. This attraction is called spontaneous attraction. Technically it is called svarūpa-upalabdhi. This stage is not achieved in the beginning. In the beginning one has to render service strictly according to the regulative principles set forth by the revealed scriptures and the spiritual master. By continuously rendering service through the process of vaidhī bhakti, one’s natural inclination is gradually awakened. That is called spontaneous attraction, or rāgānugā bhakti.
We can look back and clearly see which self effulgent personality rendered most service to Krishnaby spreading Krishna consciousness all across the world. By observing the stellar role played by Srila Prabhupada, starting preaching at an advance age of 69, circling the globe 14 times in eleven short years, sowing the seed of Krishna consciousness in all the major cities of the world, opening 108 temples across the world, including large ones in Vrindavan and Mayapur, reviving and spreading vaishnava tradition throughout India, being aware of the essence of all the vedas and the teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu he taught and guided his disciples how to apply them practically in daily life, he ran his international society, while travelling worldwide, simply by letters and on top of all this he translated books almost every single night from midnight to 4.30 am! This way any intelligent person can develop deep appreciation and attachment for his lotus feet. He remains a living example of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s golden words ‘kirtaniyasadahari ‘, he was busy spreading the glories of Lord Krishna till his last day on this planet.
By sincerely rendering service to Srila Prabhupada- by reading his books, following his instructions, preaching, book distribution, cooperating with devotees in serving ISKCON, serving the devotees, an intense desire to love and serve such a premibhakta will naturally awaken within our heart.
An equation of love
Certainly you are mine and I am Krishna’s, therefore you are also Krishna’s. In the Krishna Consciousness activities that is the process. By following the disciplic succession, beginning from Krishna, everything becomes ultimately connected with Krishna. And Krishna being absolute, anything connected with Him becomes absolute, without any duality of concept like in the material world.
(SP letter, Montreal 18 June, 1968)
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu sent Srila Prabhupada to liberate all the conditioned souls like us. We are all his eternal servants and he is Krishna’s eternal associate. All of us, his disciples, grand disciples, admirers & followers, are entitled to develop a loving relationship with Srila Prabhupada and become eligible to receive similar sweet affection from his lotus feet.
I understand your anxiety in writing such a letter as you are single-handedly maintaining the Varanasi Matha.
“krame krame pāya loka bhava-sindhu-kūla”
(Gradually one can cross this material world, CC M 16.237)
Optimism, enthusiasm, Krishna-seva, service to the devotees and Sri Nama- kirtanaare beneficial for advancement. If all our endeavors are focused on fulfilling Krishna’s desires, then maya’s allurement will never be able to captivate us. Always engage in hearing, chanting and reading the books of the mahajanasand the “Gaudiya” magazines, so that there will be no laziness in the matter of accepting the philosophy.
Discuss hari-katha with the devotees who are with you and as you advance in your bhajana you will start realising your fallen condition. You must be aware of this phrase – “the most advanced devotee considers himself the most fallen.” Always endeavor for the well being of your subordinates, as by doing so we make advancement in our own bhajana.
Krishna-seva, vaishanava-seva, and Sri nama-kirtana, may appear to be separate activities but all three have the same purport.
“By nama sankirtana, Krishna-seva and vaishanava-sevaare possible.
By vaishanava-seva, Krishna-kirtana and Krishna-seva are possible.
By Krishna-seva,nama sankirtana and vaishanava-sevaare possible.”
The proof is – sattvaṁ viśuddhaṁ vasudeva-śabditaṁ (SB 4.3.23)
By studying Sri Caitanya Caritamrta one can perform Krishna-seva and nama sankirtana . By studying Srimad Bhagavatam in good association one gets the same result. By Deity worship all these three activities are performed. By nama-bhajana these are performed immaculately.
Engage your past history in judging what is favorable for your bhajana. That is, know that what is unfavorable is just a pre-condition of what is favorable. When an unfavorable situation gives rise to difficulties, those same difficulties lead to a favorable situation for bhajana. Every visible object in this world is an ingredient for Krishna’s service.
Lack of service attitude illusions our mind and engages us in sense enjoyment. With the rise of transcendental knowledge in our heart we start seeing everything in this world in connection with Krishna. Only then will the poisonous fruit of desire for distinction not be able to swallow us.
“The restless stream of life flows towards the ocean of death” ⎯ such realisation makes us engage in hari-seva in every step of life. For this reason, what brings pleasure to Krishna should be accepted by us with satisfaction. If Krishna’s happiness is in disappointing us, then such disappointment should be accepted.
“Whatever sufferings I undergo in Your service that is my ultimate pleasure” ⎯ this is the realisation of a Vaishnava. Try to follow this carefully. When our anarthas are exposed in the service of Krishna, then those same anarthas become the main cause of all auspiciousness for us. Thakur Bilvamangala’s past history, Sarvabhauma’s incident, Prakashananda’s bad argument – all such anarthas ultimately became the cause of their complete surrender to the service of Krishna. So, don’t worry for your past anarthas. Present anarthas can be subdued by hearing and chanting. Our lives are short, so till death we should engage in Hari seva without hypocrisy. This you should be careful about. Following in the footsteps of the mahajanas is our only bridge to auspiciousness.
“ahaṁ tariṣyāmi duranta-pāraṁ” (CC M 3.6) ⎯ discuss this Sloka. I have read your letter to Sri Bhaktivilasa Thakur, he has expressed his satisfaction.
I hope everybody out there is engaged in hari kirtana and vaishnava seva with enthusiasm. Offer my heartfelt greetings to all of them accordingly.
Because of my past karma sometimes I am fit and sometimes indisposed. When I think I am fit, I became disinclined to bhajana and as a result I start considering other advanced devotees to be inferior to me. So, considering my situation, Krishna always keeps me in different sorts of sufferings, pains, sickness and problems. Then only I try to realise the meaning of the sloka “tat te ’nukampāṁ su-samīkṣamāṇo…” (SB 10.14.8). When I am not properly engaged in Krishna’s service I want to quarrel with people. When I am engaged in service to Krishna people attack me.
are doing well.
(Srila Prabhupada Patravali (Vol-1))
(There are multiple gems in this letter and if we repeatedly read this letter and contemplate on each point then we can find multiple keys to many closed doors in our spiritual journey. )
The more we read and glorify the great acharayas in the line of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Gaudiya vaishnava paramapara, the more we can appreciate our own good fortune and the golden opportunity available to every single soul on this planet to return back home back to Godhead. It may also inspire us to carefully and with complete faith read every single word they have written for our benefit.
Jagannath Rath yatra started few days back and aptly the first article I am sharing was written by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura in 1871 on the history temple of Jagannath at Puri, about superstitious and ignorance versus timeless principle of love of God, about love versus logic, about the glories of Mahaprasadam and how the temple of Lord Jagannath is the emblem of Supreme Absolute truth as explained in Vedanta Sutras. It is a little long so kindly remain patient as great spiritual riches await us. Here it goes-
There is not a Hindu who has not heard the name of this temple. The old and the young, the male and the female, the Rajah and the ryot, and the weak and the stout, all visit this temple out of a religious curiosity. Three hundred and one miles south-west of the Vice-Regal palace at Calcutta, stands this famous temple close to the seashore affording an object for a telescopic observation to the new-comer on broad the ship bound for Bengal. It stands on a platform measuring 20 cubits in height from the level of water. The platform itself is 375 cubits by 400 cubits made of huge stone cemented with a mortar composed of lime and sand. The temple itself is 92 cubits in height of a structure purely Indian. The pilgrims sees its towering head from the distance of 7 miles where the shrewd Panda takes a rupee from him by showing him the holy Chakra.
This temple was erected by Raja Ananga Bhimbdeb about 800 years ago in place of another one, then in state of dilapidation. In old accounts we find this temple styled Niladri or the blue hill. From this it appears that the former temple which was probably raised by the emigrating Rajah Indradyumna was a blue or dark coloured one. Otherwise we cannot account for the name Nilachala unless we take it for granted that the name was after the Nilgiri Hills, a small range which runs through this Province from one end to the other.
The Utkalakhanda in the Puranas, the Niladri Mahodadhi, and the Matla Panjee (an account regularly kept by the temple officers) declare that Jagannath is a very ancient institution amongst the Hindus. Whatever may be the value of the authorities quoted, we are inclined to believe that Puri was considered sacred even at the time when the Puranas were written, because we find in Wilson’s copy of the Vishnu Purana that one Kandu Rishi resorted to a place called Purushottama for the purpose of divine contemplation. At all events Rajah Indradyumna, to whom the whole affair is generally ascribed, lived a long time before Rajah Vikramaditya, the contemporary of Augustus Caesar of Rome. We are sure, that Puri is not so old as Benares and Gaya, of which repeated mention is made in all the Puranas and the Mahabharata, yet it is not a place of recent origin created after the commencement of the Christian Era. We cannot believe that the institution originated in pure stupidity of the religious sentiment; for we cannot but observe a great deal of wisdom in the man with whom the idea of Jagannath first originated. We do not profess to belong to any of the sects of religion under the sun, we believe the absolute Faith, founded upon instinctive love of God, natural in all human souls.
There are two great sects of religion all over the world who fight with each other without any advantage whatever. One of them holds that it is absolutely necessary to believe that God is without any form whatever and believers in the form are but, idolatrous. The other class maintains that God has out of kindness shown His form to the pious in order to be worshiped by them. Both of them are wrong, because both of them fight on a purely material point. The most unsectarian view of the point is, that God is neither a form nor a formless object but is purely spiritual. Matter alone can embrace the idea of form; consequently all positive and negative assertions with regard to it must naturally be material. Those who worship the form and those who describe God as formless, are both idolatrous and superstitious, and consequently can never form an idea of the spiritual Deity. Sectarians of the same class are expected to hate each other, but those, who have nothing in common with them, have no reason for hatred. We therefore cannot, like the fanatics of the formless class consider all idols as unsacred and hold the worship of a formless Deity (identifying Him with something like space and eternity) to be the natural worship of God. We go so far as to maintain that the worshiper of the spiritual God in an idol is infinitely superior to a mere believer in a formless existence who considers that formlessness is one of the attributes of the Spirit.
Spirit is not exactly the opposite of matter, but it is certainly something different from it. it is difficult indeed to decide what is the exact relation of the Spirit to matter, space and time, and it is not given to us to know. It would indeed be the height error to conceive that all the opposite qualities of matter, space and time are in Spirit. Hence we must look to some other attributes for Spirit. Love and wisdom are certainly spiritual attributes which are not opposite qualities of matter. Man must be wise and love God. This is the religion of the soul. All debates about the essence of God (e.g. God is formless or with a form) are but sectarian. Now we allow men to love God wisely, i.e. spiritually while their eyes are on idol as well as while they contemplating an Infinite thing like the space. When the soul worships, the mind also finds an employment. The mind can never conceive of anything that is not material. It is therefore exceedingly difficult for man in his present state to separate himself from idolatry. What man is obliged to do, is his lot and hence we must put off the meaning of idolatry to some other process. We therefore conclude that he that worship the idol as God (whether the idol be formless or form) is idolatrous, but he that worships the spirit in wise love (however near he may be to an idol of form or of no form) is a worshiper of Spirit. But we go further to tolerate all these classes if they be sincere.
God accepts the worship of all those who worship their highest ideal, whether it is form, formless or Spirit, and it is under some regular processes that the idea of God becomes purer and purer in every soul and not by fits and starts. That man has no heart for his brother and consequently for God also, who sneer at the highest ideal of another behind him, is idolatrous. A war against the idol worshipers either in words or action is not a crusade but a fit of rash, loveless and ambitious fanaticism of a very unphilanthropic character. We therefore, with all our due attempts at the spiritual reformation of our erring brothers, tolerate all classes of idolatry from the worshipers of formlessness to the worshipers of man, or matter as God.
We are opposed to the atheists alone who live and enjoy for themselves. Those who are anxious for the blessing of God are our brothers in faith, whatever error there may be in their ideas and forms of worship. Love of God, however misdirected it may be, does by force of its own natural strength, rise higher and higher in the scale of spiritual progress. Its want is the degradation of the soul alone. Those who do not love God have an opposite course from us and are objects of pity with all classes of theists. God save them. We were led to these remarks by a desire to show that we are candid examiners of the institution of Jagannath without that hatred to the idolatrous (who are not prepared to understand the philosophy of Purushottam Tattva) which is perceivable in the short sighted and rash reformers of our country.
The system of Jagannath is viewed in two different ways. The superstitious and the ignorant take it as a system of idolatry by worshiping the idols in the temple as God Almighty appearing in the shape of a carved wood for the salvation of the Orias. But the Saragrahi Vaishnavas find the idols as emblems of some eternal truth which has been explained in the Vedanta Sutras of Vyasa. Within the temples in which are to be found the idols of Bimala, Shiva, Ganesha and Surya, the big, towering temple of Jagannath stands in the middle of the compound. Those who examined the system of Hindu Theology with a philosophic eye, are well aware that there are five different forms of faith comprised therein.
* The first form of faith is Shaktaism or the worship of nature as God.
* The second is the worship of Surya or the sun which is identified with heat; the only active element in lifeless matter.
* The third teaches one to worship the Spirit in its most unsatisfactory form of development in the lower animals. In this form, the elephant-man or Ganesha is the object of worship.
* Man is the object of worship in fourth stage of Hinduism. The soul, well developed as it is in the man, is worshiped in Shiva in whom the human souls is said to be observed after salvation.
* In the fifth stage alone, the Infinite God distinct from the human soul, is perceived and worshiped. Here commences Vaishnavism.
In these five stage are shown the whole history of Hindu Theology, nay, the whole history of Theology in general. All sorts of creeds that have come to existence since the creation of man, are included in these five stages. Name any system of faith that man has discovered and we will find no difficulty in classing it with any one of the five, viz. Materialism, Elementalism, Fetishism, Man worship and God worship. This is summing up of all systems of faith philosophically and not instructing people to believe in any one of them except the last. The visitor of the temple of Jagannath will find a similar display of these systems in their proper places. Consequently we find the temple of Jagannath in the middle of the compound, and our remarks will now relate to Jagannath exclusively.
We have several times entered the shrine of Jagannath, and, approaching the sandal bolts, have observed in the middle room an elevated seat on which stand four different forms viz. Jagannath, Balaram, Subhadra and Sudarshan. According to the Vedanta, God is without a second, but He has infinite energies and attributes which are not fully known to man. But then man perceives only three energies in God, because he has no other corresponding sides to understand the other powers. From one of the energies proceeds matter in all its different forms and properties and this energy is styled Maya Shakti of God. From the second energy proceeds all spiritual creation, in all its relations and phases. This power is entitled the Jiva Shakti of God. The third energy perceivable by man is the energy of Will, which is called Cit Shakti. God moving in creation is what is meant by this infinite energy.
Jagannathis the emblem of God having no other form than the eyes and the hands. They mean to show that God sees and knows and creates. Balaram is the source of Jiva Shakti of God; Subhudra, the Maya Shakti; and Sudarshana is the energy of Will. We cannot form any ideas of these energies and hence it is worship of Jagannath that depends upon the collection of these four forms on the same platform. Here we see God analyzed in the shape of forms for the sake of those who want to conceive of Him. It is the same thing to see Jagannath as to study the Vedanta in all its Branches. The temple and its institution appear to me to be a book for those who can read it, to the foolish the institution is useless except as a means of reminding them of the Deity who created the world.
There is one more thing in the temple which explains the philosophical superiority of Jagannath over all other Hindu institutions. We mean the Mahaprasad system. Rice dedicated to Jagannath is sold in the Bazaar to all pilgrims. Brahmins and the Khettries, Vaishnavas and Shaktas, the Sannyasis and the Grahastas, all accept it without any hesitation whatever. Brahminical aristocracy has no rule in the temple. This shows that when people get wise, they need not obey the foolish dictates of the Brahmins which are mainly intended for those who are unable to chalk out ways for themselves. When man admits the superiority of Love to God to all other systems of rule and ethics, he is not bound to work according to the Shastras intended for lower order of men. The common bonds of the inferior Dharma Shastras of Manu and Yagnavalkya have no influence on the free Vaishnavas who are God’s own soldiers in the crusade against evil.
The system of Mahaprasad is not only emblematic of the superior life of the Vaishnavas, but it is a part of the worship which ordinary theists cannot fully understand. The ordinary men are very much inclined to preserve the superiority of Reason over intuitive feelings of man towards the God of Love. We must now proceed to show with healthy arguments that our intuitive feelings want us to offer everything we eat to the God of our heart. We must first examine the arguments of the antagonist. The Rationalists holds that God is infinite and without wants, and consequently it is foolish to offer eatables to such Being. It is sacrilege to offer created things to the Creator and thereby degrade the Divinity of God into humanity. These are reasonable arguments indeed, and one who has heard them will certainly be inclined to declare to others, “Down with the Mahaprasad.” These conclusions, however reasonable, are dry and destructive. They tend to separate us from all connections with God in the form of worship. When you say that the infinite wants nothing, you forbid all contemplation and prayer. The Infinite does not want your grateful expressions or, in other words, flattery. Utter a word to the Unconditioned and you are sure to degrade Him into a conditioned Being. Hymns, prayers and sermons are all over! Shut your temple door and the church gates , because our Rationalist has advised you to do so. Believe a creating principle and you have done your duty! Oh! What a shame! What a dreadful fall! Theists, beware of these degrading principles!
Now the Rationalists appears in another shape and admits prayers, sermons, psalms and church going, saying that these things are wanted for the improvement of the soul, but God does not want them at all. We are glad that the Rationalists have come towards us and will make further approaches in course of time.
Yes, the progressive Rationalists has admitted a very broad principle in Theology, viz. whatever we do towards God is for our own benefit and not for the benefit of God, who is not in want of any such thing. But the Rationalists is a Rationalists still and will continue to be so, as long as he will seek self-interest. We know for certain that religion promises to give eternal felicity to man and it is impossible to conceive of any religion which has not at its bottom self-interest. This view however, smells of utilitarianism and can never claim to be theistic. We must love God for God’s sake, however unreasonable our action may be. Our love must be without any object whatever that concerns ourselves. This must be a natural emotion to the Deity as our Lover without inference or experience. Salvation, dear as it is, should not be the object of this love: what then about other shapes of felicity? “Love of God” is its own reward. Salvation as a concomitant consequence, must be a hand-maid of Love, but we must not look on it as its main object.
If Rationalist be prepared to believe this, he becomes a Theist of the Vaishnava class; but the mere assuming of the name is of no consequence. Though fully aware that the unconditioned has no conditions whatever, yet our holy and sweet principle of love take a quite different view of the matter. Reason says one thing but Love prescribes its contrary. Reasontell me that God has no sorrow, but Love sees God in tears for those of His sons that are misled to evil. Reason tells me that the strict laws of God reward and punish me in a cold manner, but Love reveals that God slackens His laws to the repentant soul! Reason tells me that with all his improvements, man will never touch the Absolute God; but Love preaches that on the conversion of the soul into state of spiritual womanhood, God, the unconditioned as He is, accepts an eternal marriage with the conditioned soul of man! Reason tells me that God is in infinite space and time, but Love describes that the all-beautiful God is sitting before us like a respected relative and enjoying all the pleasures of society.
As a father in his amusements with his young children, God is spreading all sorts of delicious food all over the earth and expecting that His sons should gather all the scattered blessings and, without the exercise of reason in consequence of a strong feeling of love, offer all the blessing to the Father whom they love more than their lives. The Father again, in reply to their kind feelings, gives back the blessings to the children and tells them these kindlier words, “O! My children! These blessings intended for you! Out of your natural love you bring them to me for my enjoyment; but I have naturally no wants to supply. But then I have accepted that part of your offering which corresponds with me, viz. your unmixed love and disinterested affections for which alone I am exceedingly anxious. Take back these sweet things and enjoy them.”
This process of disinterested love, which dry reason can never brook, sanctifies the food we take, and leaves us to harmless enjoyment for all the days of our natural life! This is the system of sincere worship which theists of a higher class alone can act upon. We cannot express the joy we often felt when we took the holy Mahaprasad in the temple! The holiness we attach to it is its sweetness and often pray that all men may enjoy it. To the Saragrahi Vaishnava, the temple has such thrilling charms which the ordinary Rationalist can never understand. We do not mean to say that Reason is a foolish principle. On the contrary we do not find better admirers of Reason than our humble selves. We hold that man’s superiority amongst all created beings consist in man’s possessing the noble gift of Reason.
What we maintain in this, that independent of this noble principle there is another higher gift in man which goes by the name of Love. Reason helps Love to maintain its proper bounds in the Spiritual world. Love often tends to degrade itself by exercising its functions on objects other than God and converts itself into lust for woman, wine, meat and gold. Here Reason advises her to rise higher till she reaches her proper sphere above. Thus we find that the object of Reason is to help Love and not to create it. Reason may be properly styled as the servant of Love and must always be subject to her in all her hopes, aspirations and holy works. The Rationalist on the contrary considers Reason as all in all. This is degradation of humanity. The progressive Rationalist, on the other hand, believes in the principle of love, but attempts to make her the maid-servant of Reason. This is another error. He makes spiritual love sometimes a prisoner in the Jails of Reason. Love wants to soar on her spiritual wings to a realm where the Jailer (Reason) cannot go and the latter is sure to tie up her wings for fear lest she goes to an unworthy place. Love utters sounds of a spiritual character peculiar to herself, but Reason, having no previous experience of it, mistakes it for a disease and administers medicines for her cure. Thus it is that the natural strength of the Queen of our Soul is crippled by artificial administrations of the dry principle of Reason and she rests in us as if a bird taken in a cage.
Oh. What a havoc doth Reason commit by abuse of his power. Oh. Shame to the Rationalist. God, help the man. Theists take care of those amongst you who mix with you only by assuming the name of Theist but are in fact Rationalists of very dry character. They are divisible into two classes viz. the designing and the dupe. The designing Theist is he who is in fact a Rationalist but by assuming the name of a Theist want to degrade the sincere by his bad influence. He that calls himself a Theist in order to get rid of the name of a Rationalist but still holds Love in subjection to Reason is a dupe because he is unable to find out his own position. The sincere theist should however take care of both of them and preserve the sovereignty of Love over Reason and his comrades.
We will now show that others, who have allowed their Love to degrade without caring for the proper instructions of Reason on the other hand, have gone down to a gross idolatry and superstition. The Temple of Jagannath is under the superintendence of the local Rajah of Puri whom the foolish men worship as an incarnation of the Deity. Under his superintendence there are 36 classes of servants at the temple who are styled the Chhatrisha Niyoga. There are six hundred families of Suars (Soopakars) or cooks in the temple. It is needless here to enumerate all these classes of servants. Several Pandas, Pariharis, Pashupals and Suars send their servants to different parts of India to collect pilgrims to the temple. These agents or Gomasthas (as they are called) visit the gentleman of the places they go to and give some sweetmeat Mahaprasad proposing that they are ready to take pilgrims to Puri under their care.
By this means, the agents collect a large number of souls (amongst whom the greatest number are woman of an advanced age) and march on with the sound of Haribol. We must admit that the Pandas and their Gomasthas (generally of the Kayestha class) take a great deal of trouble for the sake of their pilgrims and sometimes advance money for their expenses on the road. The Bengal Jattris generally visit Puri at the Snana Jattra and the Ratha Jattra festivals but the upcountry men come to Puri at all times in the year.
When the pilgrims arrive at Puri the Panda, whose agent brought them, visit them with some Mahaprasad near the Narendra Tank at the approach of the town. The pilgrims see Jagannath on the very day that they arrive and perform the ceremony of Pancha Tirtha on the following day or the day after that. By Pancha Tirtha is meant the business of bathing in the Tanks of Markandeya and Indradyumna and in the sea and, after performing Sradha in those three places, seeing the emblems of Jagannath and Balarama in the temple.
The Panda all along keeps silent, but on the last day he is sure to take everything that the pilgrim has and sometimes to take a bond for an amount according to the circumstances of the pilgrim. That day the Panda with all his usual gravity takes the pilgrim to an elevated roof in the northern part of the temple called Koili Vaikoontha and there utters his Mahabakya and Shufala in order to persuade the pilgrim to pay whatever he or she has with him or her. Thus the pilgrim returns to his native place without anything but a patara of sweetmeat Mahaprasada and a few slips of Jagannath’s likeness in rude paintings!
In fact the temple servants, one, and all, are not a bit a better than Brahminical priests who deal with the next world as a means of gain. They are rude in the extreme and quite ignorant of Hindu Theology. They never attempt to teach or learn, but often rove in quest of money. Most of them are fond of drinking a liquor prepared from Bhang and hence they have (nearly all of them) a swelling of their legs sometimes coming up to the stage of disease called elephantiasis. With all their gains, the temple servants can never store wealth because they are very careless. Besides the temple they generally keep a place called an Akhra where they meet together for the purpose of drinking Bhang and seeing the dance of young boys clad in the dress of females! We will try to give you an account of all the Akhras in Puri in my next paper, and as this paper has become much longer than we at first intended, we take leave of you for the present.