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.)
Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam are two most important scriptures for Kali Yuga, they have specifically manifested for us kali yugians. If we sincerely try to serve these two transcendental scriptures then we can unlock many hidden gems. Let us take a look at the famous verse from Bhagavad gita
One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.
As we read the above verse it looks very simplistic, as if Krishna speaking these words just to encourage everyone to accept His shelter by holding a big carrot in front of us. Rather, coming out from the lotus like mouth of Sri Krishna, every single verse of Bhagavad Gita is Absolute and so is its conclusion and promise. Srila Prabhupada further declares in his purport –
He who accepts this truth on the strength of the authority of the Vedas and of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and who does not waste time in philosophical speculations attains the highest perfectional stage of liberation. Simply by accepting this truth on faith, one can, without a doubt, attain liberation.
The above statements may baffle us, especially devotees. We already know that Krishna is the Supreme personality of Godhead, we know about Krishna’s transcendental appearance and activities but liberation seems a bit far. But then how much do we even really know Vrajendra Nandan Krishna, Krishna of Vrindavan.
Both the verse and its purport are ‘packed’ and we can unpack them in multiple ways. Today, however let us unpack it from the angle of Krishna’s birth, how and where exactly did Vrajendra Nandan Krishna appeared.
Scriptures say that Svayam Bhagavan Sri Vrajendra Nandan Krishna does not take even one step out of Vrindavan. Many of us may have read the pastime in Srimad Bhagavatam when Akrura came to invite Krishna and Balaram to Mathura, the two brothers he finally took with him to Mathura were different personalities than what he assumed accompanied him.
Vrajendra Nandan Krishna
Nanda Maharaj returned to Vrindavan without Krishna and Balaram. He was accompanied only by the cowherd boys and men. It was certainly a very pathetic scene for the gopis, Mother Yashoda, Srimati Radharani and all the other residents of Vrindavan. Many devotees have tried to make adjustments to Krishna’s being away from Vrindavan because, according to expert opinion, Krishna, the original Supreme Personality of Godhead, never goes even a step out of Vrindavan. He always remains there. The explanation of expert devotees is that Krishna was actually not absent from Vrindavan; He came back with Nanda Maharaj as promised.
When Krishna was starting for Mathura on the chariot driven by Akrura and the gopis were blocking the way, Krishna assured them that He was coming back just after finishing His business in Mathura. He told them not to be overwhelmed and in this way pacified them. But when He failed to come back with Nanda Maharaj, it appeared that He either cheated them or could not keep His promise.
Expert devotees, however, have decided that Krishnawas neither a cheater nor a breaker of promises. Krishna, in His original identity, returned with Nanda Maharaj and stayed with the gopis and Mother Yashoda in His bhäva expansion. Krishna and Balaram remained in Mathura not in Their original forms but in Their expansions as Vasudeva and Sakarshana. The real Krishna and Balaram were in Vrindavan in Their bhäva manifestation, whereas in Mathura They appeared in the prabhava and vaibhava expansions. This is the expert opinion of advanced devotees of Krishna. Externally, however, They were absent from Vrindavan.
(Krishna Book, chapter 46)
If Vrajendra Nandan Krishna never takes steps out of Vrindavan then how did He take birth in Mathura?
Let us try solve this mystery by seeing it from the eyes of our acharya and the scriptures.
Thereafter, exactly when Vasudeva, being inspired by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, was about to take the newborn child from the delivery room, Yoga-māyā, the Lord’s spiritual energy, took birth as the daughter of the wife of Mahārāja Nanda.
Srila Vishvanath Chakravarty Thakura discusses that Krishna appeared simultaneously as the son of Devaki and as the son of Yashoda, along with the spiritual energy Yoga-māyā. As the son of Devaki, He first appeared as Vishnu, and because Vasudeva was not in the position of pure affection for Krishna, Vasudeva worshiped his son as Lord Vishnu. Yashoda, however, pleased her son Krishna without understanding His Godhood. This is the difference between Krishna as the son of Yashoda and as the son of Devaki. This is explained by Vishvanath Chakravarty on the authority of Hari-vaṁśa.
What Srila Prabhupada is disclosing above is simply astonishing! Prabhupada is divulging to us that Krishna appeared simultaneously in two places- as the son of Devaki and as son of mother Yashoda, in Vrindavan.
Let us read the commentary of Srila Vishvanath Chakravarty Thakura from which Srila Prabhupada quoted the above.
In the Hari Vamsa is says that that in the eighth of her pregnancy Devaki and Yashoda gave birth at the same time to their Children. But here in Bhagavatam it is stated that that Yashoda gave birth after Devaki. How to correlate the two contradictory statements? Exactly when Devaki gave birth to Krishna, Yashoda also gave birth to Krishna. After that, as described in this verse, Yashoda birth to Yagamaya. Yashoda gave birth to two children at different times. This is confirmed in SB 10.4.9, for when Yogamaya falls from the hands of Kamsa, she is called younger sister of Krishna. But when Krishna was born to Yashoda it is not stated that he had four hands. It is understood that He was born from Yashoda with two hands.
(Srila Vishvanath Chakravarti Thakura purport to SB 10.3.47)
Srila Vishvanath Chakravarty Thakurais revealing to us that mother Yashoda gave birth to two kids. A son, Krishna, was born at the very same time when Lord Vishnu appeared as the son of Devaki. (Hence Krishna’s birth is rightly celebrated as Janamashtami everywhere and not on Nandotsava as some devotees tend to suggest.) Second child, as we know, was Yogamaya, Krishna’s ‘younger’ sister.
How the umbilical cord could still be intact if kids were exchanged in the night?
Srimad Bhagavatam itself gives us a hint about this secret while describing how Nanda Maharaj celebrated Krishna’s ‘Jata-Karma’ ceremony, cutting of the umbilical cord connecting the child and placenta.
Sukhdeva Gosvami said: Nanda Maharaj was naturally very magnanimous, and when Lord Sri Krishna appeared as his son, he was overwhelmed by jubilation. Therefore, after bathing and purifying himself and dressing himself properly, he invited brahmanas who knew how to recite Vedic mantras. After having these qualified brahmanas recite auspicious Vedic hymns, he arranged to have the Vedic birth ceremony celebrated for his newborn child according to the rules and regulations, and he also arranged for worship of the demigods and forefathers.
Srila Prabhupada writes in the purport of the above verse :
The jāta-karma ceremony can take place when the umbilical cord, connecting the child and the placenta, is cut. However, since Krishna was brought by Vasudeva to the house of Nanda Maharaj, where was the chance for this to happen? In this regard, Vishvanath Chakravarty Thakura desires to prove with evidence from many shastra that Krishna actually took birth as the son of Yashoda before the birth of Yoga-maya, who is therefore described as the Lord’s younger sister.
Srila Rupa Gosvami also reveals this secret!
preshthanandair vraje tais tair atmano ‘pi vimohanaih
lilollasair vilasati shri-lila-purushottamah
Because He enjoys many happy pastimes, delighting His dear associates, and even enchanting Himself, Lord Krishna is called “lila-purushottama” (the most playful person).
asamordhvena bhagavan vatsalyena vrajesayoh
sutatvenaiva sa tayor atmanam vetti sarvada
Because the parental love of Vraja’s king and queen has no equal or superior, Lord Krishna eternally thinks Himself their son.
kecid bhagavatah prahur evam atra puratanah
vyuhah pradurbhaved adyo griheshv anakadundubheh
goshthe tu mayaya sardham shri-lila-purushottamah
In ancient times some devotees have said that the Lord appeared in His Vasudeva feature in the home of Maharaja Vasudeva, and at the same time He appeared, along with Yogamaya, in His original form as Sri Krishna in the village of Vraja.
gatva yadu-varo goshtham tatra suti-griham visan
kanyam eva param vikshya tam adayavrajat puram
pravisad vasudevas tu shri-lila-purushottamam
When Maharaja Vasudeva arrived in Vraja, he entered the maternity room, saw (Yashoda’s, daughter and, taking her with him, returned to Mathura. The Vasudeva expansion (Maharaja Vasudeva carried with him, then merged in the body of Sri Krishna.
etac cati-rahasyatvan noktam tatra katha-krame
kintu kvacit prasangena sucyate shri-sukadibhih
Because this pastime is very confidential, it was not related in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Nevertheless, Sukadeva Gosvami and other great devotees have indirectly described it in some of their writings.
Srila Rupa Gosvami then quotes below four verses from Srimad Bhagavatam which specifically describe Krishna as son of Nanda Maharaj.
“Nanda Maharaj was naturally very magnanimous, and when Lord Sri Krishna appeared as his son, he was overwhelmed by jubilation.”
“Nanda Maharaj was very liberal and simple. He immediately took his son Krishna on his lap as if Krishna had returned from death.”
“The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, the son of Mother Yashoda, is accessible to devotees engaged in spontaneous loving service, but He is not as easily accessible to mental speculators, to those striving for self-realization by severe austerities and penances, or to those who consider the body the same as the self.”
“Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the son of Maharaj Nanda, who is standing before me with conchshell earrings and peacock feather on His head. His face is beautiful, He is wearing a helmet, garlanded with forest flowers, and He stands with a morsel of food in His hand. He is decorated with cane, flute, and a bugle made of buffalo horn. He stands before me with small lotus feet.”
tatha shri-yamala-vacanam samudaharanti
“krishno ‘nyo yadu-sambhuto yah purnah so ‘sty atah parah
vrindavanam parityajya sa kvacin naiva gacchati
The different between Krishna’s appearance in Vrindavan and His appearance in Mathura and Dvaraka is described in, Yamala Tantra:
“The Krishna known as Yadukumara is Vasudeva Krishna. He is different from the Krishna who is the son of Nanda Maharaj. Yadukumara Krishna manifests His pastimes in the cities of Mathura and Dvaraka, but Krishna the son of Nanda Maharaj never at any time leaves Vrindavan.
The above verse has also been quoted in Caitanya Caritamrta, it was spoken by Caitanya Mahaprabhu to … who else…. Srila Rupa Gosvami!
Caution- We should not misunderstand that there are multiple Krishnas. This verse is showing that Vrindavan Krishna, Vrajendra Nandan Krishna, is the original personality of Godhead and rest all are His various plenary expansions or incarnations. Vrajendra Nandan Krishna is the original source.
pūrṇa bhagavān kṛṣṇa vrajendra-kumāra goloke vrajera saha nitya vihāra
Lord Krishna, the son of the King of Vraja, is the Supreme Lord. He eternally enjoys transcendental pastimes in His eternal abode, Goloka, which includes Vrajadhama.
(CC Adi 3.5)
I hope we got a little taste of sweet undercurrents flowing via seemingly straight verses of Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. If we simply serve these two scriptures by studying them regularly, then, by the mercy and potency of Srila Prabhupada, many intricate aspects of Absolute Truth, Sri Vrajendra Nandan Krishna, can manifest in our heart.
He who accepts this truth on the strength of the authority of the Vedas and of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and who does not waste time in philosophical speculations attains the highest perfectional stage of liberation. Simply by accepting this truth on faith, one can, without a doubt, attain liberation. The Vedic version tat tvam asi is actually applied in this case. Anyone who understands Lord Krishna to be the Supreme, or who says unto the Lord, “You are the same Supreme Brahman, the Personality of Godhead,” is certainly liberated instantly, and consequently his entrance into the transcendental association of the Lord is guaranteed.
aradhyo bhagavan vrajesa-tanayas tad-dhama vrndavanam ramya kacid upasana vraja-vadhu-vargena va kalpita srimad bhagavatam pramanam amalam prema pum-artho mahan sri-caitanya mahaprabhor matam idam tatradarah na parah
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna, the son of Nanda Maharaj, is worshiped along with His transcendental abode Vrindavan. The most pleasing form of worship for the Lord is that which was performed by the gopis of Vrindavan. Srimad Bhagavatam is the spotless authority on everything and pure love of Godhead is the ultimate goal of life for all men. These statements, for which we have the highest regard, are the opinion of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
(Caitanya-matta-manjusa by Srila Viswanatha Cakravarti Thakura)
Wish you all a very Happy Janmashtami. Here is a short kirtan clip to sing and cry out to the lotus feet of Vrajendra Nandan Krishna and welcome the arrival of Lord of our heart.
All glories to the lotus feet of Vrajendra Nandan Krishna
Haridāsa Ṭhākura constructed a cottage in a solitary forest. There he planted a tulasī plant, and in front of the tulasī he would chant the holy name of the Lord 300,000 times daily. He chanted throughout the entire day and night.
Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport :
Haridāsa Ṭhākura, being the ācārya of chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, is called Nāmācārya Haridāsa Ṭhākura. From his personal example we can understand that chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra and becoming highly elevated in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is very simple. Without difficulty one can sit down anywhere, especially on the bank of the Ganges, Yamunā or any other sacred river, devise a sitting place or cottage, plant a tulasī tree, and before the tulasī chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra undisturbed.
Haridāsa Ṭhākura used to chant the holy name on his beads 300,000 times daily. Throughout the entire day and night, he would chant the sixteen names of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra. One should not, however, imitate Haridāsa Ṭhākura, for no one else can chant the holy name 300,000 times a day. Such chanting is for the mukta-puruṣa, or liberated soul. We can follow his example, however, by chanting sixteen rounds of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra on beads every day and offering respect to the tulasī plant. This is not at all difficult for anyone, and the process of chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra with a vow before the tulasī plant has such great spiritual potency that simply by doing this one can become spiritually strong. Therefore we request the members of the Hare Kṛṣṇa movement to follow Haridāsa Ṭhākura’s example rigidly. Chanting sixteen rounds does not take much time, nor is offering respects to the tulasī plant difficult. The process has immense spiritual potency. One should not miss this opportunity.
There have been some small realisations in my brief spiritual journey but nothing compares to what mercy and reciprocation which any fallen soul could have imagined to receive from Tulasi Maharani. Serving her seems to like a direct service in the spiritual world. It has been an amazing journey for me.
Few months back I saw Vrinda Devi’s picture in the room of HG Srimati Mataji. After the class I gathered some courage and uttered how I share a special bond with the same deity of Vrinda Devi. I then hesitatingly asked Mataji what can I do to please her. Srimati Mataji’s impromptu and immediate reply- sing Vrinda ashtakam daily. Happy with her instruction, I came back home and searched for the same over internet. I had never heard it before and found that it was written by, no surprise here, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura. Then I searched again to find in what tune to sing it, in what looked difficult words to me. From that day onward I am singing it daily to her. I liked the very first tune I heard, below is the video of the same.
Amazingly within a few weeks of singing Vrinda Ashtakam a merciful devotee brought her framed picture for our Altar when they visited Vrinda Devi temple in Nandagaon (Vrindavana). And it was the perfect size for my altar, I was simply over the moon!
Here is the Sri Vrinda Devi Ashtakam which I request all sincere devotees to kindly sing daily for the pleasure of Tulasi Maharani. We can then pray her sincerely to please inspire us in our heart on how to serve her properly and then wait for the magical reciprocation!
Sri Vrinda Devi Ashtakam
vrnde namas te caranaravindam
You are bathed by streams of splendor that rebuke gold, lightning, and the campaka flower. Your splendid garments are friend to the bandhuka flower. O Vrnda, I bow to your lotus feet.
vrnde namas te caranaravindam
Your face is splendid with a pearl decorating the tip of Your nose and a wonderful gentle smile on Your bimba-fruit lips. You are decorated with wonderful jewel ornaments. O Vrnda, I bow to your lotus feet.
vrnde namas te caranaravindam
Vrsabhanu’s daughter Radha made you guardian of Krishna’s opulent and auspicious abode of Vrndavana, the crest jewel of all Vaikuntha planets. O Vrnda, I bow to your lotus feet.
By Your order the groves where Madhava enjoys pastimes are splendidly decorated with blossoming flowers, bumble-bees, deer, honey, and other things. O Vrnda, I bow to your lotus feet.
tvat-saubhagam kena nirucyatam tad
vrnde namas te caranaravindam
Because you became Their messenger the eager and youthful divine couple enjoyed the perfection of transcendental pastimes in the forest. O Vrnda, I bow to your lotus feet.
rasabhilaso vasatis ca vrnda-
labhya ca pumsam krpaya tavaiva
vrnde namas te caranaravindam
By your mercy people attain residence in Vrndavana, the desire to serve your masters’ lotus feet, and the desire to assist in the rasa dance. O Vrnda, I bow to your lotus feet.
tvam kirtyase satvata-tantra-vidbhir
lilabhidhana kila krishna-saktih
tavaiva murtis tulasi nr-loke
vrnde namas te caranaravindam
They who are learned in the Satvata-tantra glorify you. You are Krishna’s pastime-potency. The Tulasi plant is your form in the world of men. O Vrnda, I bow to your lotus feet.
bhaktya vihina aparadha-laksaih
ksiptas ca kamadi-taranga-madhye
krpamayi tvam saranam prapanna
vrnde namas te caranaravindam
O merciful one, I have no devotion and have committed millions of offenses. I am drowning in the turbulent ocean of lust. Thus I take shelter of you. O Vrinda, I bow to your lotus feet.
vrndastakam yah srnuyat pathed va
sa prapya vrndavana-nitya-vasam
tat-prema-sevam labhate krtarthah
A person who is like a bumblebee at the lotus feet of Vrindavana’s king and queen, and who reads or hears this Vrindastaka, will eternally reside in Vrindavana and attain loving service to the divine couple.
( Tulasi Maharani at our humble home)
Srila Prabhupada: I am so very glad to learn that Srimati Tulasi Devi has favored you so much. If you can actually grow this Tulasi plant, and I am sure you will do it, then you must know it for certain that your devotion for Krsna is testified. I was very much anxious to introduce this worship of Tulasi plant amongst our Society members, but it has not become successful til now, therefore, when I hear that you have got this opportunity, my pleasure does not have any bounds. (Letter to Govinda — Los Angeles 7 April, 1970)
Since last few weeks I am hearing a most nectarean seminar on `demons in Krishna’s pastimes’ and what anarthas they represent with in us by HG Srimati Mataji. This seminar is very different, and way sweeter, than anything I have ever heard on this wonderful topic. I was particularly stuck by the prayers of Nāgapatnīs, wives of serpent Kaliya. Their prayers teach us in what mood to pray to Krishna in difficulty and we know the result of such prayers to Him.
The below content is from Srila Kavi-Karnpura’s Ananda Vrindavana Champu, which is very similar to the same pastime mentioned in Krishna book, and in the end are some comments from HG Srimati Mataji.
The ruthless steps of Vanamali Krishna’s tandava dance devastated the serpent. Blood streamed from Kaliya’s mouths, his eyes popped out, and his hoods completely collapsed. Seeing their husband vanquished and heart broken, the Nagapatnis felt sorry for him and cried piteously. Out of affection for him they thought, “Our husband will not survive unless he attains the mercy of the Lord.” Abandoning all fear and shyness, the Nagapatnis put their children on their laps and approached Krishna to petition Him on behalf of their husband.
The Nagapatnis offered prayers to Shri Krishna with sweet voices: “O Lord, all glories unto You! O crest-jewel on the head of the demigods! Who other than You can be the Supreme Brahman? Brahma and Siva constantly glorify You, the unlimited ocean of transcendental qualities. The yogis and paramahamsas happily praise and meditate upon Your lotus feet, which are forever massaged by the auspicious lotus hands of Goddess Laksmi. As a swan extracts milk from a watery mixture, the paramahamsas reject the four desirable goals of human life to immerse themselves in the bliss of Your service. “O Lord, extolled throughout the Vedas! Please hear our prayer. O Lord, You are the personification of eternity, bliss and knowledge! You assume a transcendental body to annihilate all the demons! You are the oldest, the origin of everything, and yet You are an ever-fresh youth. You are the fountainhead of all the Vishnu expansions! O Supreme Personality of Godhead! Please give up Your anger and show us Your mercy!
“O Vasudeva, You are the life-giving Lord of all! O Sankarsana, You remove all the miseries of the universe! O Pradyumna, You are the treasure of love for all the Vrajavasis! O Aniruddha, Your Yogamaya potency prevents ordinary people from perceiving You! You are the Supersoul of all the demigods! Ah! You are the life and soul of the Vrajavasis. Be pleased with our prayers, O Lord, for the life of our husband is about to depart.
“Your lotus feet which delight the atmaramas, remove all mental anxieties, and are rarely achieved even in samadhi now stand on the hoods of our husband. O Lord, we have no idea how Kaliya has attained such a rare fortune. This wicked snake deserves to be punished. Only by Your mercy can one give up his wickedness and follow the righteous path. It is impossible for a living entity to do this on his own.
“O Lord! You alone maintain the entire universe created by the three modes of material nature by the mode of goodness, which purifies the mind. You create the world with passion and by ignorance, which is darker than night, You destroy the creation. O mighty armed! It is by name only that Vishnu, who rides on Garuda, is called the maintainer, and that Brahma, who sits upon a lotus, is the creator, and that Siva, who sits atop Nandi, is called the destroyer.
“O one who is dear to those who have nothing! Living entities appear by different combinations of the modes of nature. Being born in the mode of ignorance, it is natural for a snake like Kaliya to be crooked. As it is impossible to see a flower creeper in the sky, it also impossible to find gentle behavior or good manners in him. He does nothing good for anyone, and he has no power to overcome Your maya. This is the nature of one who lives in hole.
“His actions cannot be considered offensive because that is his very nature. So how can You, who are eternally liberated, the ocean of mercy, and full of all opulence, deny him Your mercy? You always treat everyone equally and all Your acts convey auspiciousness. Therefore, please quickly show Your mercy to our afflicted husband. It does not befit You to kill such a lowly living entity.
“Even Siva, Brahma, Laksmi, and the sannyasis who perform sadhana, meditation, and attentive service cannot understand You. Hence, how can Kaliya, who is bewildered by pride and ignorance, know You? Your playful kicks and dancing on his heads have practically killed him. Although he is a very powerful serpent, he is so weakened that only his life air remains. Indeed he is cruel and ill behaved, but nevertheless he is one of Your living entities. Alas! We hope he will not die. Please forgive his offense and return our husband so that we will not become widows.” The gentle beautiful Nagapatnis petitioned the Lord with piteous choked voices.
Krishna responded compassionately by dissipating His anger and reducing the punishment. Smiling sweetly, Krishna replied to the wives of Kaliya, “Do not fear. Although I am very angry, your sweet appeal has satisfied Me. As a monsoon shower extinguishes a forest fire, your pleasing prayers have removed My intense anger. As a result I will spare his life. Now I request you to take your husband and return to your original abode. Since your husband’s heads are now decorated with My bliss-giving lotus footprints, Garuda will feel blessed to see them. From now on you need not fear him.”His false pride broken like a person bent over from carrying a heavy mass of iron, Kaliya felt relieved and happy by the Lord’s assurance of protection. With fear, devotion, and submission Kaliya said, “O Lord! With all Your opulence You appear in this world to crush the demons and award the treasure of prema to Your devotees. As long as the sun and the moon remain, Your beautiful pastimes will give joy to the minds of Your devotees. You always bring immediate auspiciousness to the unfortunate. O abode of compassion!
“The River Yamuna is the ideal place for Your pastimes. Therefore You have rightly punished me for my offense of poisoning her waters. Who could have shown me more mercy than You? Your dancing has decorated my hoods with the splendid marks of Your lotus feet. Now my life has become completely auspicious. O younger brother of Baladeva! By Your order I will now return to Ramanaka Island. O Supreme Lord of all the demigods! Due to some misfortune I have offended You. O You who wear makara kunddla earrings! Please forgive me for my offensive behavior.”
Concluding his prayer, Kaliya took out some special jewels from his collection and presented a valuable ruby and pearl necklace to Krishna as a ‘gift. Then he and his family offered obeisances to the Lord and left the Yamuna. Immediately the water transformed into the sweetest nectar. After Kaliya left, the prince of Vraja, who ever enacts fresh and effulgent playful pastimes, climbed up on the bank of the Yamuna. The golden bangles on His lotus hands glistened attractively and His shimmering dhoti defeated the brightness of lightning.
HG Srimati Mataji : “It’s a wonderful way the wives of Kalilya deal with the situation. Important thing to remember here is that they are not approaching Krishna for their own benefit, they are approaching Krishna for somebody else. It’s interesting what they do, first they access the situation, without losing any time they approach Krishna. In a respectful and cultured way they offer their obeisances and surrender to Krishna. Their only desire was to save Kaliya by pleasing Krishna with their prayers. They didn’t cry, argue, lament or chastise Krishna. They admitted that Krishna’s punishment of Kaliya was exactly the right thing. They understood and said that Krishna’s mercy and punishment were non different. That everything Krishna does is for our good! Do we think like that ? They praised Kaliya’s good fortune, having Krishna’s lotus feet dance on his head. That although he was such a lowly creature, he received the highest mercy. Pleading for Krishna’s mercy upon them they beseech Krishna to kindly excuse Kaliya’s offenses because after all he is also one of His offspring! They acknowledge that they were his eternal servants and they offered their loving service. In Krishna Book Nagapatnis plead:
” Our dear Lord, we are offering our loving service unto You because we are all eternal servitors of Your Lordship. You can order us to do whatever You please. Every living being can be relieved from all kinds of despair if he agrees to abide by Your orders.”
Very amazing statement ! What they are basically saying here is that even if you decide to kill Kaliya, that’s Your prerogative, even if You do that we understand that its the best thing. How could Krishna not hear such prayers! Nagapatnis showed no malice towards Him or towards Kaliya and they prayed in full surrender to Krishna.
Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura tell us that the reason Krishna forgave Kaliya’s very sever offense to Garuda and to the Vrajavasis was because of the prayers of his wives. He also tells us that this pastime clearly shows that Krishna’s activities benefit both the victims of violence and those who inflict such violence, certainly there is no malice in our Krishna. Not that Krishna just looked after the wives and didn’t look after Kaliya. Both, those who commit the violence and those who suffer it, Krishna takes care of both. He deals with them differently but he deals with both. Krishna has no malice towards anybody.”
It was simply pure nectar to hear the above pastime, mentioned in various scriptures, which ran into more that 1.5hours. But the part which stuck me most were these amazing prayers of Nagapatnis and how they touch Krishna’s heart. I also learnt how Krishna’s mercy and punishment are both good for us. Of course, it is a different experience when we hear such pastimes from pure devotees of Lord, the way Mataji explained this whole mood of being surrendered in detail was definitely an eye opener for a neophyte like myself. We can read about this complete pastime in chapter 16 of Krishna Book.
Today, I sincerely believe that being in ISKCON, and always remaining under the shelter of Srila Prabhupada’s lotus feet, our good fortune knows no bounds.
Q: What should we do if we have material desires ?
Answer : One should follow proper Vedic injunctions and advance gradually.
Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport of SB 3.21.16 that It is everyone’s duty, therefore, to enjoy according to his present position, but under the direction of the Lord or the Vedas. The Vedas are considered to be the direct words of the Lord. The Lord gives us the opportunity to enjoy material life as we want, and at the same time He gives directions for the modes and processes of abiding by the Vedas so that gradually one may be elevated to liberation from material bondage. The conditioned souls who have come to the material world to fulfill their desires to lord it over material nature are bound by the laws of nature. The best course is to abide by the Vedic rules; that will help one to be gradually elevated to liberation.….. Therefore one should follow the Vedic regulations and surrender unto the Supreme Lord because that is the ultimate goal of perfection in human life. One should live a life of piety, follow the religious rules and regulations, marry and live peacefully for elevation to the higher status of spiritual realization.
Q: What is cause of suffering in material life, describe with an example and how to overcome this cycle of birth & death ?
Answer : Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport of SB 3.21.17 that Constant transmigration of the soul from one body to another is the cause of suffering in material existence. This conditional life in material existence is called saṁsāra. One may perform good work and take his birth in a very nice material condition, but the process under which birth and death take place is like a terrible fire.
Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, in his prayer to the spiritual master, has described this. Saṁsāra, or the repetition of birth and death, is compared to a forest fire. A forest fire takes place automatically, without anyone’s endeavor, by the friction of dried wood, and no fire department or sympathetic person can extinguish it. The raging forest fire can be extinguished only when there is a constant downpour of water from a cloud. The cloud is compared to the mercy of the spiritual master. By the grace of the spiritual master the cloud of the mercy of the Personality of Godhead is brought in, and then only, when the rains of Kṛṣṇa consciousness fall, can the fire of material existence be extinguished. This is also explained here.
In order to find freedom from the stereotyped conditional life of material existence, one has to take shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord, not in the manner in which the impersonalists indulge, but in devotional service, chanting and hearing of the activities of the Lord. Only then can one be freed from the actions and reactions of material existence. It is recommended here that one should give up the conditional life of this material world and the association of so-called civilized human beings who are simply following, in a polished way, the same stereotyped principles of eating, sleeping, defending and mating. Chanting and hearing of the glories of the Lord is described here as tvad-guṇa-vāda-sīdhu. Only by drinking the nectar of chanting and hearing the pastimes of the Lord can one forget the intoxication of material existence.
Q: Does Lord fulfills material desires of a devotee ?
A: Sila Prabhupada states in his purport of SB 3.21.23 that He never disappoints a sincere devotee, regardless of what he wants, but He never allows anything which will be detrimental to the individual’s devotional service.
Q : How can we make our existence peaceful in this material world ?
Ans : By depending fully on Krishna for fulfillment of our desires.
Srila Prabhupada explains us in his purport of SB 3.21.28 that `Thus it is said that if we pray to the Supreme Lord in every transaction of our material existence, everything will be done very nicely and just suitable to our heart’s desire. In other words, in all circumstances we must take shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and depend completely on His decision. Man proposes, God disposes. The fulfillment of desires, therefore, should be entrusted to the Supreme Personality of Godhead; that is the nicest solution. Kardama Muni desired only a wife, but because he was a devotee of the Lord, the Lord selected a wife for him who was the Emperor’s daughter, a princess. Thus Kardama Muni got a wife beyond his expectation. If we depend on the choice of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, we will receive benedictions in greater opulence than we desire’.
Q: Why is a Jiva also described as Prabhu ?
Reply: Srila Prabhupada gives us a unique answer in his purport to SB 6.16.9: Another peculiar characteristic of the jīva is that he becomes covered by māyā. Ātmamāyā-guṇaiḥ: he is prone to being covered by the Supreme Lord’s illusory energy. The living entity is responsible for his conditional life in the material world, and therefore he is described as prabhu (“the master”). If he likes he can come to this material world, and if he likes he can return home, back to Godhead.
I recently found that apart from audio lectures, iskcondesiretree has hundreds of very nice presentations, both for our own understanding as well as for preaching. They are mostly in flash but we can request them in PPT and the dedicated devotees send us the link to download them and edit them to suit our purpose. They have proved very useful for me in preaching. Here is the link