Radha Ashtami

Hare Krishna and pranams dear devotees,

Happy Radha Ashtami!

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.

(SB 2.3.23)

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.

(SB 2.3.23p)

(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.)

All glories to the most auspicious Radha Ashtami.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Your servant,

Giriraj dasa

p.s.: you may also like to read this previous blog written on Radha Ashtami.

My report card in Krishna consciousness for 2014.

Hare Krishna.

23rd June, 2014. Gurgaon


Since last many days I am reading 23rd chapter of Madhya Lila CC. This chapter ends with verses from Bhagavad Gita (12.12-20). These verses get quoted after Mahāprabhu explains what is proper renunciation to Sanatana Goswami, which I copied in my last blog.

At first I was surprised to see so many verses from Bhagavad Gita together as, in whatever little chapters I have read in CC, the reference verses are generally quoted from Srimad Bhagavatam. I read these verses quickly and then reread them and then read again but somehow I could not read further, as if something is amiss in my reading. Yesterday night, while I was again trying to force myself to read further, I realised that these verses hold the key to what qualification a devotee should have for him to be liked by the Lord. I felt that I can test myself, by benchmarking against these qualities, and check the result. Am I dear to Lord ? It was quick work and here is the result. I call it my report card for year 2014, similar to what we used to get in the school.

I broke the lines of the verses and have written my current status against each quality mentioned by the Lord

CC Madhya 23.107: “‘

One who is not envious but is a kind friend to all living entities, – Some improvement but mostly at surface level as I chose with whom to be kind and with whom to behave cold, I am judgmental and get envious especially where I should not.
who does not think himself a proprietor – Most of the times I consider myself as the proprietor be it with my family or at work.
is free from false ego- I am completely in bodily consciousness, frankly I don’t think I have ever dealt with anyone thinking that I am a soul, barring some exceptional circumstances.
who is equal in both happiness and distress, – very little progress, I have a disease of liking it when get things done my way.
who is always satisfied, : some progress as I am not unsatisfied materially but spiritually very much unsatisfied.
forgiving and self-controlled – a little better on this front but still many a times I get unforgiving internally while maintaining a cool facade outside. I also lose self-control at home sometimes and at work too, slow progress.
who is engaged in devotional service with determination, : no devotional engagement other than sending some messages, mails and writing childish blogs.
his mind and intelligence dedicated to Me — I beg everyday to Srila Prabhupada to give me some intelligence so that I can participate in his mission and serve ISKCON.
such a devotee of Mine is very dear to Me.

marks : 1/8

CC Madhya 23.108: “‘
He by whom no one is put into difficulty or anxiety : I know I give anxiety to my wife many a times and I am sure there must be many others as well, I am half blind in such matters.
who is not disturbed by anyone, : again a little better on this front but still it easy to disturb me, specially by those who are close to me.
who is liberated from jubilation, : a littler progress here,at least in some cases I remember Krishna at times of jubilation and thank Him for making it possible.
anger, : it has reduced but I still get angry many a times.
fear – a little progress here
anxiety, : some progress here
is very dear to Me.

marks : 2.5/6

CC Madhya 23.109: “‘
A devotee who is not dependent on others but is dependent solely on Me, – I still, mostly, live with a notion that I am the doer. I am not be dependent on others but yet not fully dependent on Krishna as well.
who is clean inwardly and outwardly: outwardly a little clean but inwardly filled with envy, selfishness, hidden material desires & accustomed to material comforts
who is expert, : complete failure here
indifferent to material things, : a little progress here.
without cares and free from all pains, and : very little progress here
who rejects all pious and impious activities : I don’t even understand this stage properly so implementing is very far.
is very dear to Me.

marks : 1.5/6

CC Madhya 23.110: ”
One who is free of all material jubilation, : a little progress
hatred, : a little progress.
lamentation and : some progress here
desire, : some progress
who renounces both materially auspicious and materially inauspicious things: I have no proper understanding of this statement so again implemetation is far.
who is devoted to Me : no devotion, mostly a show off, neither good in Vaidhi Bhakti nor in spontaneous Bhakti.
is very dear to Me.

marks : 2/6

CC Madhya 23.111-112: “‘
One who is equal to friends and enemies, : a little progress here
who is equipoised in honor and dishonor, : small progress here
heat and cold, : still get affected
happiness and distress, : small progress
fame and infamy, : small progress
who is always free from attachment to material things and : a little progress but I think my material desires have just shifted from conscious level to a subconscious level.
always grave and satisfied in all circumstances, : I am a naive person
who doesn’t care for any residence, : a little progress here but it all may just be all at surface level as I haven’t practiced it diligently.
and who is always fixed in devotional service : I can only dream for such a stage.
— such a person is very dear to Me.

marks : 3/9

CC Madhya 23.113: “‘Devotees who follow these imperishable religious principles of Kṛṣṇa consciousness with great faith and devotion, fully accepting Me as the supreme goal, are very, very dear to Me.’

If I count all the parameters and give one mark to each parameter then I score 10/35 !! This too when I liberally gave myself 0.5 marks wherever I made some progress, the right marking would be 0.25 for a small progress. In that case my correct score would be a grand 5 out of 35 !

I thought hard and looked at my score and thought `is this a failure’ ? Have I failed in Krishna consciousness. The answer, surprisingly, was not a yes. Was this test depressing ? Again a no. Let me share why not

1. First it shows that I have indeed made some progress since I started practicing bhakti yoga and took shelter under ISKCON.

2. This unique test tells me, broadly, where I stand today in my spiritual journey today. Lately, mostly due to praise from ever generous and softhearted devotees, I had started believing that I am doing quite fine as a devotee. This test shattered the myth created by my dear mind.

3. This test tells me that if I can walk this much with whatever little efforts I have put in then what awaits me if I put more of my heart into Krishna consciousness then I will be able to take further baby steps beyond this stage. I have to definitely improve my chanting.

4. It tells me the power of causeless mercy and how important the role of prayers has been in my spiritual journey. How my long list of disqualification has indeed become my qualification to receive mercy of Mahāprabhu and guru parampara, so I should pray more and serve ISKCON.

5. Lastly, it tells me that Krishna consciousness indeed is a science. And it is working for me! And this is in spite of my lack of steadfastness, intelligence and complete lack of enthusiasm to serve Vaishanavas.

I pray at the lotus feet of all the Vaishanavas to have pity on this most fallen soul, please show me the right way and bless me so that my consciousness improves and I can serve in the sankirtan movement of Mahāprabhu.

I am copying the famous `Ohe Vaishanava Thakura’ song by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura for the pleasure of the devotees below.

ohe! vaiñëava öhäkura, dayära sägara, e däse karuëä kari’
diyä pada-chäyä, çodha he ämäre, tomära caraëa dhari

O worshipable Vaishanava Thäkura! Ocean of mercy! Be merciful upon this servant and, giving me the shade of your feet, purify me. I am taking hold of your lotus feet!

chaya vega dami’, chaya doña çodhi’, chaya guëa deha’ däse
chaya sat-saìga, deha’ he ämäre, bosechi saìgera äçe

Help me subdue the six urges and purify my six faults, please bestow upon me the six qualities of a devotee, and offer me the six kinds of devotional association. I am sitting in your association, hoping to receive this.

ekäké ämära, nähi päya bala, harinäma-saìkértane
tumi kåpä kari’, çraddhä-bindu diyä, deha’ kåñëa-näma-dhane

Alone, I do not have the strength to perform my harinäma-sankirtana. Please be kind and give me one drop of faith. Please bestow upon me the priceless treasure of Krishnanama!

kåñëa se tomära, kåñëa dite pära, tomära çakati äche
ämi ta’ käìgäla, ‘kåñëa kåñëa’ bali’, dhäi tava päche päche

Krishna is yours! You have the power to give Krishna! I am nothing more than a beggar running behind you, calling out “Krishna! Krishna!”

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

All glories to the association of devotees who encourage me everyday by their sheer beahviour.