Venu Gita

Hare Krishna.
24th Feb, 2015. Gurgaon

Krishna-Plays-on-His-Flute-in-the-Forrest-of-Vrindavan-and-the-Gopis-are-Attracted

This is in continuation of my last blog on Krishna’s flutes. I am sharing the below nectar from a lecture by HH Radha Govinda Maharaj on Venu Gita. We are all aware that the Venu Gita (Song of Lord Krishna’s Flute Play) is a compilation of twenty verses in the 21st chapter of tenth canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.

HH Radha Govinda Maharaj first recited the below verse.

gopyah kim acarad ayam kusalam sma venur damodaradhara-sudham api gopikanam

bhunkte svayam yad avasishta-rasam hradinyo hrishyat-tvaco ‘sru mumucus taravo yatharyah

Translation
My dear gopis, what auspicious activities must the flute have performed to enjoy the nectar of Krishna’s lips independently and leave only a taste for us gopis, for whom that nectar is actually meant! The forefathers of the flute, the bamboo trees, shed tears of pleasure. His mother, the river on whose bank the bamboo was born, feels jubilation, and therefore her blooming lotus flowers are standing like hair on her body. (SB 10.21.9)

Maharaj said that in this verse Radharani is speaking about the flute and then quoted Srila Jiva Goswami who said that the gopis have Mahabhav prema in them and Radharani’s is topmost of them. As a result of the unmaad exhibited due to this Mahabhava prema, the gopis are feeling envious towards even a non-living entity like the flute ! And they are having false feelings that the flute is drinking the nectar of Krishna’s lips which is actually their property. Radharani says that some steal others property but this flute steals our property by challenging loudly to us – “Hey gopis, if you want to drink the nectar of Krishna’s lips, then give up all your shyness and religion and all the rules of the society and come here and take this nectar, or else I am not afraid of you all or anyone, I will continue to drink this nectar. I consider you gopis a bit because you also have the right on this nectar, but as for others, I consider them like a blade of grass.” Similarly Srila Sanatana Goswami says that `what to speak of the fortune of the sakhas, just look at the fortune of this neerasa, rasa-less bamboo which has no rasa in it.’

Maharaj said that the words Venu, murali, bansuri etc. are used for the flute. In Sanskrit dhaar means wife, dhaara also means wife. Similarly Vamsi, venu, murali all stands for female gender. But it is neither female nor male. But Radharani is having the bhava that this flute is a male. So she is saying that this flute even after being a male is drinking that which we females are supposed to drink. So she is thinking, oh why did I and all of you sakhis, take birth as a gopi, why did we not take birth as a bamboo !! What austerity has this flute done ? It is always in the hands of Krishna or on his lips or on his hips, never away from Him!

Maharaj then quoted Srila Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakura, who wrote that Radharani is saying – what austerity did this flute do ? what charity did it do, to whom ? what sacrifices did it do ? Then we all will also do the same. The bamboo has no rasa, no fruits, no flower, still what austerity did it do ? In this birth, he has not done anything. May be in his previous birth he was a human and did something. Please find out, so that we can also do the same and achieve this fortune of drinking the nectar of Shyamsundar’s lips.

Maharaj next explained Why is the word ‘Damodar’ used in this verse, not any other name ? Maharaj quoted Srila Sanatana Goswami who says that Damodar word has the name Radha hidden in it – as in Radha Damodar. Also it shows the love that Yashoda maiya had by which she could tie him up. Also, Radha has also tied him up with flower garland. So it is Radha’s Damodara – this is the hidden bhava.

If Radharani would have said that Krishna’s lips are meant for females only, it would have been wrong. Because, there are females even on heavenly planets, earth, etc. But it is not meant for any of them. It is meant only for the gopis alone. That is why here in this sloka, Radharani is saying that it is meant for the gopis alone.

Radharani continues to say – This Shyamsundar never goes against the flute. He is always on his side. Sometimes Radharani finds no fault with the flute, and puts all the blame on Krishna like this. It is Krishna who is constantly keeping the flute on his lips. He could keep it on his waist, or in his hands, why lips ? He wants to enjoy the flute ! Radharani is saying – This flute drinks the nectar without leaving even a drop for us. We get only a taste of his lips. That’s all the flute leaves for us. We are getting the remnants of the remnants of the remnants of the flute.

Maharaj said that the gopis also complain that to play the flute, Krishna has to bend himself in three places then Krishna has to bend and bow down his head in order to play it! And Krishna has to massage it by his fingers in order to play it. Like this the flute is making Krishna do so much seva to play on it! The flute thus makes Krishna dance and makes all of us also dance in madness!!

Then came the final part. Maharaj said that we heard all these explanations in Sanskrit and Hindi. We are sitting here in Vraja, and it his desire to hear this in Vrajvasi language. Radha Krishna and gopa/gopis all talk in Vrajbhasha. Maharaj said let me sing a pada in vrajbhasha by Surdasji, where the gopis are blaming the flute, and the flute is replying to them :

Gvalini tum kathau rahana dena

Hey gopis, why are you blaming me ? What wrong am I doing ? If I am drinking Krishna’s adharamrit, then I have definitely done something to drink it, is it not ? Why are you blaming me that I have no right to drink and I’m forcibly drinking it !

Poochou jaayi shyamsundar ko , jahi dukh jurayo sanero

Go ask Shyamasundar, that after facing how much of distress I have received this love ? Got His association, after how much of austerities, how much of miseries, you ask Shyamasundar Himself!

Janamat hi te bhayi virat cit, tajou gaav gun geh

Do you know from when I am virakt? Right from birth I am in virakt from my family. I left my village, my twice born thread, everything. (When Bamboo takes birth, it stands all alone. If I have any leaves etc., I have not accepted it, I have given it up.)

Ek hi paav rahi ho thadi, him grishm sab ritu me

I have done my austerities standing on one feet, facing all the heat, cold, rain (you people are on two feet and you are more bothered about home, family and society than to meet Krishna!)

Tajou mool shaakha supatr sab, soch sukhani deh

I gave up my roots, branches, leaves everything. (to make a flute, all these has to be cut off. Can anyone imagine to have their hands cut off, legs cut off !) and then I have got dried up in the hot sun.

Agni salakat muri na tan man

In order to make holes in me chest, I was poked by the fire like iron, and I did not cry with my body or mind or words, and in this way 7-8 holes were made on my body. My body did not even turn or twist when this hole was made.

Why do you keep calling me – bansuri, baans wali…etc. and you people keep blaming me in tamo guni krodh ? You too do such austerities like I did, and take this right of His adharamrit, what is the use of talking ill about me? You cannot move me out of my place, by saying all this. I will not move from my place, it is my right. I will remain here only!

So in this most beautiful way flute gave a fitting reply to all the gopis!

In the end I can again only pray that after reading this nectar may all the readers, including my own self, develop the desire to glorify and serve Krishna’s flute and pray that one day every part of our body can also be somehow used in the service of all those servants who are serving Krishna, and His associates, with so much love and affection.

All glories to the Mahabhava of gopis.
All glories to Krishna’s flute.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Top five limbs of devotional service

Hare Krishna

17th Jan, 2015, Gurgaon.

lord-chaitanyas-instruction-to-srila-sanatana-goswami

More than a year back, HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj came to ISKCON Gurgaon centre and spoke a verse from Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta which somehow slowly, yet firmly, got settled inside my heart. Maharaj instructed everyone to memorise this wonderful verse. The verse was

sādhu-saṅga, nāma-kīrtana, bhāgavata-śravaṇa
mathurā-vāsa, śrī-mūrtira śraddhāya sevana

“One should associate with devotees, chant the holy name of the Lord, hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, reside at Mathurā and worship the Deity with faith and veneration. (cc.madhya.22.128)

In this powerful verse from madhya lila Mahāprabhu describes the process of devotional service to Sri Sanatana Goswami. In the beginning He describes the truth about the living entity and the super excellence of devotional service. He then describes the uselessness of mental speculation and mystic yoga. In all circumstances the living entity is recommended to accept the path of devotional service as personally explained by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. The speculative method of the so-called jñānīs is considered a waste of time, and that is proved in this chapter. An intelligent person should abandon the processes of karma-kāṇḍa, jñāna-kāṇḍa and mystic yoga. There are sixty-four items listed in regulative devotional service, and out of these sixty-four the last five are considered very important.

CC Madhya 22.129: “These five limbs of devotional service are the best of all. Even a slight performance of these five awakens love for Kṛṣṇa.

Prabhupada writes the below verse from the Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, in his purport

aṅgānāṁ pañcakasyāsya pūrva-vilikhitasya ca
nikhila-śraiṣṭhya-bodhāya punar apy atra śaṁsanam

The glorification of these five items [association with devotees, chanting the holy name and so on] is to make known the complete superiority of these five practices of devotional service.”

CC Madhya 22.130: “‘With love and full faith one should worship the lotus feet of the Deity.

CC Madhya 22.131: “‘One should taste the meaning of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in the association of pure devotees, and one should associate with the devotees who are more advanced than oneself and who are endowed with a similar type of affection for the Lord.

CC Madhya 22.132: ‘One should congregationally chant the holy name of the Lord and reside in Vṛndāvana.’

CC Madhya 22.133: ‘The power of these five principles is very wonderful and difficult to understand. Even without faith in them, a person who is offenseless can awaken his dormant love of Kṛṣṇa simply by being a little connected with them.’

CC Madhya 22.134: “When one is firmly fixed in devotional service, whether he executes one or many processes of devotional service, the waves of love of Godhead will awaken.

CC Madhya 22.135: “There are many devotees who execute only one of the nine processes of devotional service. Nonetheless, they get ultimate success. Devotees like Mahārāja Ambarīṣa execute all nine items, and they also get ultimate success.

What is most amazing is if we analyse how Srila Prabhupada made the structure of ISKCON.

In one of his lectures HH Bhakti Charu Swami says ‘Prabhupada actually designed ISKCON in such a way that anyone who is engaged in Krishna consciousness in ISKCON is automatically performing these five activities. The first aspect is sadhu sangha, anyone who is in ISKCON is getting the association of the sadhus. Similarly anyone who is in ISKCON must attend the Bhagavatam class and at least read for some time every day, so this is how one is reading scriptures. Anyone who is in ISKCON worships the deity, although not all of us worship the deity directly but by attending mangala-arati and the morning program we automatically do that. Then comes residing in the holy dhama, all temples of Krishna are non-different from Goloka Vrindavana. Therefore, those who are living in the temple, or those whose consciousness is in the temple, are actually residing in Mathura. In this way Prabhupada has given us the simple process for Krishna consciousness.’

Now I realise why so many senior devotees always stress that we have to remain in ISKCON, serve the local temple, do our sadhna bhakti and we will surely make progress in our spiritual life.

vande śrī-kṛṣṇa-caitanya-devaṁ taṁ karuṇārṇavam
kalāv apy ati-gūḍheyaṁ bhaktir yena prakāśitā

I offer my respectful obeisances unto Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. He is an ocean of transcendental mercy, and although the subject matter of bhakti-yoga is very confidential, He has nonetheless manifested it so nicely, even in this Age of Kali, the age of quarrel.
(CC Madhya 22.1)

All glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

How to improve our Bhakti ?

Hare Krishna.

31st July, 2014. Gurgaon.

Quotes-by-Bhakti-Charu-Swami-on-Getting-Krishna

Q: How to improve my Bhakti ? (This is a question from Jitendra Prasad Prabhuji, Fiji)

Ans:

There could be many answers to this question. Prabhuji shared with me that he is already chanting 16 rounds and following four regulative principles hence I am sharing the verses I read today morning in Chaitanaya Charitramrita.

These verses are spoken by Mahāprabhu in his teachings to Sri Sanatana Goswami and explain 64 important items in devotional service after one is fixed in his sadhana bhakti.

CC Madhya 22.121: “After one is established in devotional service, the positive actions are (1) hearing, (2) chanting, (3) remembering, (4) worshiping, (5) praying, (6) serving, (7) accepting servitorship, (8) becoming a friend and (9) surrendering fully.

CC Madhya 22.122: “One should also (10) dance before the Deity, (11) sing before the Deity, (12) open one’s mind to the Deity, (13) offer obeisances to the Deity, (14) stand up before the Deity and the spiritual master just to show them respect, (15) follow the Deity or the spiritual master and (16) visit different places of pilgrimage or go see the Deity in the temple.

CC Madhya 22.123: “One should (17) circumambulate the temple, (18) recite various prayers, (19) chant softly, (20) chant congregationally, (21) smell the incense and flower garlands offered to the Deity, and (22) eat the remnants of food offered to the Deity.

CC Madhya 22.124: “One should (23) attend ārati and festivals, (24) see the Deity, (25) present what is very dear to oneself to the Deity, (26) meditate on the Deity, and (27-30) serve those related to the Lord.

CC Madhya 22.125: “Tadīya means the tulasī leaves, the devotees of Kṛṣṇa, the birthplace of Kṛṣṇa (Mathurā), and the Vedic literature Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Kṛṣṇa is very eager to see His devotee serve tulasī, Vaiṣṇavas, Mathurā and Bhāgavatam.

CC Madhya 22.126: “(31) One should perform all endeavors for Kṛṣṇa. (32) One should look forward to His mercy. (33) One should partake of various ceremonies with devotees — ceremonies like Lord Kṛṣṇa’s birthday or Rāmacandra’s birthday.

CC Madhya 22.127: “(34) One should surrender to Kṛṣṇa in all respects. (35) One should observe particular vows like kārtika-vrata. These are some of the sixty-four important items of devotional service.

Q: A question may arise if there any main limbs from the above instructions ? And secondly do we need to follow all of them to achieve perfection in our devotional service ?

Ans: Mahāprabhu clears this in next few verses

CC Madhya 22.128: “One should associate with devotees, chant the holy name of the Lord, hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, reside at Mathurā and worship the Deity with faith and veneration.

CC Madhya 22.129: “These five limbs of devotional service are the best of all. Even a slight performance of these five awakens love for Kṛṣṇa.

CC Madhya 22.130: “‘With love and full faith one should worship the lotus feet of the Deity.

CC Madhya 22.131: “‘One should taste the meaning of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in the association of pure devotees, and one should associate with the devotees who are more advanced than oneself and who are endowed with a similar type of affection for the Lord.

CC Madhya 22.132: “‘One should congregationally chant the holy name of the Lord and reside in Vṛndāvana.’

Srila Prabhupada quotes Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura in his purport to the above verse

śrī gauḍa-maṇḍala-bhūmi, yeba jāne cintāmaṇi,
tāra haya vrajabhūmi vāsa

“One who understands the transcendental nature of Navadvīpa and its surrounding area, where Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu enacted His pastimes, resides always in Vṛndāvana.”

CC Madhya 22.133: “‘The power of these five principles is very wonderful and difficult to understand. Even without faith in them, a person who is offenseless can awaken his dormant love of Kṛṣṇa simply by being a little connected with them.’

CC Madhya 22.134: “When one is firmly fixed in devotional service, whether he executes one or many processes of devotional service, the waves of love of Godhead will awaken.

CC Madhya 22.135: “There are many devotees who execute only one of the nine processes of devotional service. Nonetheless, they get ultimate success. Devotees like Mahārāja Ambarīṣa execute all nine items, and they also get ultimate success.

I would like to thank Jitendra Prabhuji for asking such a nice question as I leaned a lot just by thinking about what to reply to him ! Then today morning out of sheer luck or causeless mercy I read these verses and I thought that these verses would be relevant to all the devotees as they are spoken by Lord Himself. I hope the above answer satisfies Jitendra Prabhuji.

I have opened a separate page Q&A on the website and a separate page to post your questions. I will post questions asked by readers on the Q&A page only. I will try to share only those answers on the main blog post which do not have contamination of my own intelligence and speculation.

All glories to Sri Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

bhakti-adhikārī – ‘uttama’, ‘madhyama’, ‘kaniṣṭha’

Hare Krishna.

19th July, 2014. Gurgaon.

Quotes-by-Bhakti-Charu-Swami-on-Krishnas-Lotus-Feet

Q : How do we define an Uttama, madhyama and Kanishtha Adhikari ?

Ans : Sri Chaitanya Mahāprabhu teaches Sri Sanatana Goswami :

CC Madhya 22.64: “A faithful devotee is a truly eligible candidate for the loving service of the Lord. According to one’s faith, one is classified as a topmost devotee, an intermediate devotee or an inferior devotee.

Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport:
The word śraddhāvān (faithful) means understanding Kṛṣṇa to be the summum bonum — the eternal truth and absolute transcendence. If one has full faith in Kṛṣṇa and confidence in Him, one becomes eligible to discharge devotional service confidentially. According to one’s faith, one is a topmost, intermediate or inferior devotee.

CC Madhya 22.65: “One who is expert in logic, argument and the revealed scriptures and who has firm faith in Kṛṣṇa is classified as a topmost devotee. He can deliver the whole world.

CC Madhya 22.66: “‘One who is expert in logic and in understanding the revealed scriptures, and who always has firm conviction and deep faith that is not blind, is to be considered a topmost devotee in devotional service.’

CC Madhya 22.67: “One who is not very expert in argument and logic based on the revealed scriptures but who has firm faith is considered a second-class devotee. He also must be considered most fortunate.

CC Madhya 22.68: “‘He who does not know scriptural argument very well but who has firm faith is called an intermediate or second-class devotee.’

CC Madhya 22.69: “One whose faith is soft and pliable is called a neophyte, but by gradually following the process he will rise to the platform of a first-class devotee.

CC Madhya 22.70: “‘One whose faith is not very strong, who is just beginning, should be considered a neophyte devotee.’

Q : Describe the qualities of the above three class of devotees.
Ans :

CC Madhya 22.71: “A devotee is considered superlative or superior according to his attachment and love. In the Eleventh Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the following symptoms have been given.

CC Madhya 22.72: “‘A person advanced in devotional service sees within everything the soul of souls, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Consequently he always sees the form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead as the cause of all causes and understands that all things are situated in Him. (SB 11.2.45)

CC Madhya 22.73: “‘An intermediate, second-class devotee shows love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is friendly to all devotees and is very merciful to neophytes and ignorant people. The intermediate devotee neglects those who are envious of devotional service. (SB 11.2.46)

CC Madhya 22.74: “‘A prākṛta-bhakta, or materialistic devotee, does not purposefully study the śāstra and try to understand the actual standard of pure devotional service. Consequently he does not show proper respect to advanced devotees. He may, however, follow the regulative principles learned from his spiritual master or from his family who worships the Deity. He is to be considered on the material platform, although he is trying to advance in devotional service. Such a person is a bhakta-prāya [neophyte devotee], or bhaktābhāsa, for he is a little enlightened by Vaiṣṇava philosophy.’ (SB 11.2.47)

A: Where does a Vaishnava stands ?
Ans:

CC Madhya 22.75: “A Vaiṣṇava is one who has developed all good transcendental qualities. All the good qualities of Kṛṣṇa gradually develop in Kṛṣṇa’s devotee.

CC Madhya 22.76: “‘In one who has unflinching devotional faith in Kṛṣṇa, all the good qualities of Kṛṣṇa and the demigods are consistently manifest. However, he who has no devotion to the Supreme Personality of Godhead has no good qualifications because he is engaged by mental concoction in material existence, which is the external feature of the Lord.’

CC Madhya 22.77: “All these transcendental qualities are the characteristics of pure Vaiṣṇavas, and they cannot be fully explained, but I shall try to point out some of the important qualities.

CC Madhya 22.78-80: “Devotees are always merciful, humble, truthful, equal to all, faultless, magnanimous, mild and clean. They are without material possessions, and they perform welfare work for everyone. They are peaceful, surrendered to Kṛṣṇa and desireless. They are indifferent to material acquisitions and are fixed in devotional service. They completely control the six bad qualities — lust, anger, greed and so forth. They eat only as much as required, and they are not inebriated. They are respectful, grave, compassionate and without false prestige. They are friendly, poetic, expert and silent.

CC Madhya 22.81: “‘Devotees are always tolerant, forbearing and very merciful. They are the well-wishers of every living entity. They follow the scriptural injunctions, and because they have no enemies, they are very peaceful. These are the decorations of devotees.’

All glories to Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita.
All glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Why do we only worship Krishna in ISKCON and exclude all demigod worship ?

Hare Krishna.

25th July, 2014. Gurgaon.

Quotes-by-Srimad-Bhagavatam-on-Everything-That-Exists

As I read Srila Prabhupada’s book a little more carefully now, I marvel at the depth of his writings and realise the amount of gems scattered in every single page of his translations and commentaries. This inspires me to write more about them rather than my own baby realisations. I also feel that writing about my own self is not exactly a very Vaishanava thing to do. However being shameless I will still share them from time to time but if you will all allow me then I would like to write more about what Srila Prabhupada left us as a legacy for next 10,000 years.

Some devotees have requested me to take up questions from readers, I have no qualification to answer them but if you have some questions then you can mail me at giriraj.bcs@gmail.com or leave them in the comments and I can try my best to serve you by replying after verification from a senior devotee. We can make a separate page for them on the website if it becomes regular. Here is another gem from Srila Prabhupada.

Q: Why does ISKCON advocates worship of Krishna to the exclusion of the demigods ?

Ans: Srila Prabhupada answers this question in his purport of SB 4.31.14, this verse is also quoted by Mahāprabhu in cc madhya 22.63 to Sri Sanatana Goswami.

Translation
As pouring water on the root of a tree energizes the trunk, branches, twigs and everything else, and as supplying food to the stomach enlivens the senses and limbs of the body, simply worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead through devotional service automatically satisfies the demigods, who are parts of that Supreme Personality.

Srila Prabhupada writes in his Purport
Sometimes people ask why this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement simply advocates worship of Kṛṣṇa to the exclusion of the demigods. The answer is given in this verse. The example of pouring water on the root of a tree is very appropriate. In Bhagavad-gītā (15.1) it is said, ūrdhva-mūlam adhaḥ-śākham: this cosmic manifestation has expanded downward, and the root is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

As the Lord confirms in Bhagavad-gītā (10.8), ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavaḥ: “I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds.” Kṛṣṇa is the root of everything; therefore rendering service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa (kṛṣṇa-sevā), means automatically serving all the demigods.

Sometimes it is argued that karma and jñāna require a mixture of bhakti in order to be successfully executed, and sometimes it is argued that bhakti also requires karma and jñāna for its successful termination. The fact is, however, that although karma and jñāna cannot be successful without bhakti, bhakti does not require the help of karma and jñāna. Actually, as described by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyaṁ jñāna-karmādy-anāvṛtam: [Madhya 19.167] pure devotional service should not be contaminated by the touch of karma and jñāna.

Modern society is involved in various types of philanthropic works, humanitarian works and so on, but people do not know that these activities will never be successful unless Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is brought into the center. One may ask what harm there is in worshiping Kṛṣṇa and the different parts of His body, the demigods, and the answer is also given in this verse. The point is that by supplying food to the stomach, the indriyas, the senses, are automatically satisfied. If one tries to feed his eyes or ears independently, the result is only havoc. Simply by supplying food to the stomach, we satisfy all of the senses. It is neither necessary nor feasible to render separate service to the individual senses. The conclusion is that by serving Kṛṣṇa (kṛṣṇa-sevā), everything is complete. As confirmed in Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 22.62), kṛṣṇe bhakti kaile sarva-karma kṛta haya: if one is engaged in the devotional service of the Lord, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, everything is automatically accomplished.

All glories to Sri Chaitanaya Charitramrita.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.