After the departure of Lord Krishna, all the Pandavas, unable to bear the separation from Krishna, decided to leave this world. Before they left, Maharaj Yuddhisthir appointed Parikshit, son of Abhimanyu, as the emperor of the whole world. Vajranabha, the great-grandson of Lord Krishna, son of Aniruddha, was made the king of Mathura.
Vajranabha missed Krishna very much. Many great personalities requested him to reestablish the glories of Vrindavan. Vrajanabha decided to excavate all those places in Vraja where Lord Krishna performed His pastimes. He sat under a tree on the banks of Yamuna and prayed to Krishna to reveal His divine pastimes places in Vraja. He received Krishna’s mercy, who revealed His Vrindavan pastimes in his heart. Vajranabha then called upon Vishwakarma, the architect of the demigods to install various Deities. The three principal Deities carved by him were Radha Madanmohana, Radha Govindadev and Radha Gopinath.
At that time there was no one other than Uttara, mother of Maharaj Parikshit, who had seen Krishna directly. The first Deity she saw was of Madanmohan. When Vajranabha showed this Deity to Uttara she said Madanmohan’s feet perfectly resemble Krishna’s feet. Next, when she saw the beautiful form of Govindadeva, she explained that the chest of Krishna was exactly like Him. Finally, when she saw the Deity of Gopinath, she explained that the beautiful smiling face of Gopinath exactly resembled Krishna’s face.
One can understand the importance of these three Deities of Vrindavan for the devotees. Krishnadas Kaviraj Gosvami declares that these three Deities of Vrindavan are the very life and soul of all Gaudiya Vaisnavas.
ei tina ṭhākura gauḍīyāke kariyāchena ātmasāt e tinera caraṇa vandoṅ, tine mora nātha
These three Deities of Vrindavan [Madana-mohana, Govinda and Gopīnātha] have absorbed the heart and soul of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas [followers of Lord Caitanya]. I worship Their lotus feet, for They are the Lords of my heart.
Srila Prabhupada explains the role these three special Deities of Vrindavan play in the lives of devotees in his purport of the above verse –
The author of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta offers his respectful obeisances unto the three Deities of Vrindavan named Śrī Rādhā-Madana-mohana, Śrī Rādhā-Govindadeva and Śrī Rādhā-Gopīnāthajī. These three Deities are the life and soul of the Bengali Vaiṣṇavas, or Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas, who have a natural aptitude for residing in Vṛndāvana. The Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas who follow strictly in the line of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu worship the Divinity by chanting transcendental sounds meant to develop a sense of one’s transcendental relationship with the Supreme Lord, a reciprocation of mellows (rasas) of mutual affection, and, ultimately, the achievement of the desired success in loving service. These three Deities are worshiped in three different stages of one’s development. The followers of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu scrupulously follow these principles of approach.
Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas perceive the ultimate objective in Vedic hymns composed of eighteen transcendental letters that adore Kṛṣṇa as Madana-mohana, Govinda and Gopījana-vallabha. Madana-mohana is He who charms Cupid, the god of love, Govinda is He who pleases the senses and the cows, and Gopījana-vallabha is the transcendental lover of the gopīs. Kṛṣṇa Himself is called Madana-mohana, Govinda, Gopījana-vallabha and countless other names as He plays in His different pastimes with His devotees.
According to the Vedic principles, there are three stages of spiritual advancement, namely, sambandha–jñāna, abhidheyaand prayojana. Sambandha-jñāna refers to establishing one’s original relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, abhidheya refers to acting according to that constitutional relationship, and prayojana is the ultimate goal of life, which is to develop love of Godhead
So these three Deities of Vrindavan, each one of Them represent
Sri Radha Madanmohan are the presiding Deity of Sambanda – our eternal relationship with Krishna, we are His part and parcel.
Sri Radha Govindadev are the presiding Deity of Abhidheya – how to act in that relationship. devotional service.
Sri Radha Gopinatha are the presiding Deity of Prayojana– ultimate goal, love of Godhead.
Krishna willing, in our upcoming blogs, we will read in a little more detail about these special Deities of Vrindavanand try to understand and appreciatethe unique role They play in the lives of all the Gaudiya Vaisnavas.
All glories to the three main Deities of Vrindavan.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
P.S.: It is said that if one gets darshan of these three Deities of Vrindavan on the same day, especially on an Ekadasi, then it is accepted that one has taken full darshan of Krishna. I have posted Their pictures and today is Ekadasi.
“In a temple of jewels in Vṛndāvana, underneath a desire tree, Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Govinda, served by Their most confidential associates, sit upon an effulgent throne. I offer my humble obeisances unto Them.”
So description of Vrindavan, Vrindavan and Radhā and Krishna situated there. The Vrindavan … Vana means forest, and vṛnda means tulasī. Mostly there are tulasī plants and other trees also, but all the trees are living desire trees, spiritual. They can serve Krishna in any way, desire. They have become trees by their voluntary desire. They’re all spiritual beings—there is no force—but everyone has got a particular tendency to serve Krishna in a different way.
So these trees and plants, they are also living beings. They are not ordinary living beings, but they have decided to serve Krishna by supplying fruits and flowers. They want that service. Everyone has got his particular propensity. So someone is serving as the land there, someone is serving as the throne, someone is serving as the supplying agent of fruits and flowers, someone is engaged in His service as the gopis, confidential servitors. The cows, calves, everything—they are all different living entities. They are not made of these material things, material body.
Ānanda-cinmaya-rasa-pratibhāvitābhis tābhir yaeva nija-rūpatayā kalābhiḥ [Bs. 5.37].They are all also expansion of Krishna’s pleasure potency. In one sense they are also Krishna; they are not different from Krishna. Śakti-śaktimatayor abheda: “The power and the powerful, they are not different, identical.” Just like the sun and the sunshine. So in the sun globe there is heat and light, and the sunshine, there is heat and light. So, so far heat and light is concerned, they are one. Similarly, Krishna and Krishna’s pleasure potency, ānanda-cinmaya, ahlādinī… It is already described, rādhākṛṣṇa-praṇaya-vikṛtir hlādinī-śaktir asmāt.
So whatever description is there of Vrindavan, that is expansion of Krishna’s pleasure potency. They are not different. Therefore in the beginning it is said, dīvyad, “shining,” or “divine,” “transcendental.” So we should not consider Vrindavan ordinary forest. Here we have got Vrindavan on this planet. That is also not ordinary forest. The exactly the same Vrindavan as it is Goloka Vrindavan … There is no difference. Therefore Narottama dasa Thakura says that
viṣaya chāḍiyā kabe śuddha ha ‘be mana kabe hāma herabo, śrī-vṛndāvana
Viṣaya chāḍiyā. Our present position is that we are materially diseased, so we have to become free from the material disease. Material disease means sense gratification, and the most formidable disease is sex. This is called material disease. So viṣaya chāḍiyā. We have to be, become free from the contamination of viṣaya, material enjoyment. This is the statement of Narottama dasa Thakura.
viṣaya chāḍiyā kabe śuddha ha ‘be mana kabe hāma herabo śrī-vṛndāvana
“When my mind will be cleansed of all material desires, then I shall be able to see what is Vrindavan.” It is very difficult to see Vrindavan with material desires. Bhakti means the first qualification is to become free from all material desires. (Then we will be able to see Vrindavan)
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 9th April, 1975, Mayapur)
Why has Krishna allowed His dham to deteriorate, Srila Prabhupada?” Gurudas asks. “It has not deteriorated,” he replies. “Well, you just said that the Goswami temples were neglected.” “That’s a fact. But Vrindavan has not deteriorated.” “Most Americans would be shocked to see what I saw this morning,” I say. “How’s that?” Prabhupada asks. “Well, for one, they’d consider it unhygienic.” “Just see. For a materialist, everything is topsy-turvy because his vision is perverted. Beauty and ugliness are in the eye of the seer.” “But what’s this veneer covering the holy dham?” “The ugliness that you see here is yoga-maya,” Prabhupada says. “It’s Krishna’s covering. Vrindavan appears this way to drive away the atheists and impersonalists, just as New York attracts them. For a devotee, this Vrindavan is as good as Krishna’s transcendental abode in the spiritual sky-Goloka Vrindavan. But you must have the eyes to see.”
“Why God has made somebody so opulent and why somebody so poor?” This is the general question we hear. Does God discriminates between different souls? Srimad Bhagavatam clears the doubt
naiñä parävara-matir bhavato nanu syät
jantor yathätmä-suhådo jagatas tathäpi
saàsevayä surataror iva te prasädaù
sevänurüpam udayo na parävaratvam
“Like the ordinary living entity, my Lord, You have no such discrimination, thinking like ‘He is my friend; he is my enemy, he is favorable, he is unfavorable.’ Such conception of low grade and high grade You have not got. But according to one’s gradation of service, You offer them benediction exactly like the desire tree offers fruits according to the desire of the person. The desire tree has no distinction of low-grade and high-grade position of the beggar.”
God is Absolute
Parävaratvam. Para means “better,” and apara means “inferior.” Superior and inferior. There are two things, superior and inferior, everywhere, but in the eyes of God, Krishna, there is no such thing superior or inferior. He’s superior, and everything is superior. This should be understood. There is no such discrimination that “Here is a devotee, so he’s superior, and here is a non-devotee, he’s inferior.” That is not God’s discrimination; that is your discrimination.
How is that?
If you like to remain as inferior, you can remain. God has given you independence. And if you like to become superior, you can become superior. It is not God’s discrimination; it is your discrimination. Mind this verse very carefully. Krishna says that “You fully become dependent upon Me, and I shall give you full protection.” This is superiority. As soon as I fully surrender to the supreme superior, Krishna, then my position is immediately superior. But if I don’t do that, then I remain inferior.
There is a verse in the Bhagava gita, ye yathä mäà prapadyante täàs tathaiva bhajämy aham (Bg 4.11- As all surrender unto Me, I reward them accordingly.) “It is up to you to… If you surrender cent per cent, then I am also fully cent per cent for you.” But if you have got discrimination—”Certain percentage for my wife, certain percentage for my children, certain percentage for my country, certain percent…,” so on, so on, so on, so on, ultimately, “Zero for God”—then God is also zero. It is up to you. But if you take God—”You are my everything”—then He is also for you, everything. It is up to you. Parävaratvam. He does not discriminate; you discriminate.
Can we understand this via an example?
There are many persons, they come to Vrindavan, and whatever they have earned throughout the whole life, so they give everything to the wife and children and make contract that “I am going to Vrindavan. You send me at least two hundred rupees for my expenditure.” “And what about two lakhs and crores?” “Oh, that is yours. The two lakhs and crores, what I have earned, that is for you, my dear children, my dear wife, and you give me two hundred for God. So I am going to Vrindavan.” So Krishna is very intelligent: “All right, I am also for you two hundred.” Ye yathä mäm… This is the meaning, real meaning.
Srila Prabhupada calls it…
It is called…Responsive cooperation. “If you have surrendered to Me cent per cent, then I respond cent per cent. If you have surrendered twenty-five percent, then I respond twenty-five percent.” This is the position.
Mahajans know it!
Prahlada Maharaj knows it, that naiñä parävara-matir bhavato: “You have no such thing as discriminating.”
I am very fallen but why can’t God show more compassion?
So one may say that “I may… I am foolish. I may not surrender to Krishna cent per cent, but why He is not kind cent per cent?” So that is Krishna’s discrimination. Why He should? He can. He can become cent per cent, but He does not do so. That means Krishna is senscient; He is not impersonal. Don’t think that whatever you are doing, Krishna cannot see. In the Deity room, if you think that “This Deity is made of brass. Whatever nonsense I can do, He does not see,” no, He can see everything. Aïgäni yasya sakalendriya-våttimanti paçyanti pänti kalayanti [Bs. 5.32]. He sees. You rascal, you do not know how Krishna sees. You think that “He has these brass-made eyes. He cannot see. I can do all nonsense with…” No. That is not. He can see everything. Paçyanti pänti. Aïgäni yasya sakalendriya-våttimanti. He can see with His lotus feet. He can see with His hand. We can see simply with our eyes, but Krishna can see with all the… Aïgäni yasya sakalendriya-våttimanti. You have seen: Krishna is playing the flute. The fingers are open. A finger touching: “What you are doing?” We do not know the fingers can also see. But this is absolute. Krishna can use His any energy, any power, any part of the body, for anything else. This is Krishna. Aïgäni yasya sakalendriya-våttimanti.So Krishna can see within our mind how much we are surrendered and how much we are after material enjoyment.
So what should we do?
Therefore the best thing is we have to make zero. Anyäbhiläñitä-çünyam Çünyam means zero. Unless we make everything zero, simply Krishna fact… Krishna is the only fact, and everything zero.
Without Krishna, everything zero. Just like one is one, and zero is zero, but when zero is added with one, it becomes ten immediately—ten times. Similarly, this material world is zero, and Krishna is one. If you want to enjoy the material world by your own effort, it will always prove zero. You’ll never be satisfied. But you add this zero by the side of Krishna, you enjoy like anything, ten times. Ten times. With zero it is zero, but when it is added with Krishna, it is ten times. Just see practically. Our Krishna consciousness movement was started with forty rupees. Now that forty rupees or something added with Krishna, it has become forty crores. You see practically. When I started for your country, I came to Mayapur. I offered my obeisances to my spiritual master, then I went. At that time I had no money even to purchase the ticket. And after that, I have come with forty crores. This is the secret: ye yathä mäà prapadyante
And the result will be…
If you fully surrender to Krishna, then Krishna is there. You have to learn how to take from Krishna. Of course, a devotee is never desirous to take anything from Krishna. He wants to give only. This is pure devotee. A pure devotee wants, “Krishna, whatever little I have got, You take it, everything.” And Krishna says, “Yes, because you have given your everything, even up to your life, I’ll also give you My everything to you.” This is Krishna.
God is like a wish fulfilling tree!
Krishna has no discrimination, but it is up to us to know how to take from Krishna. Just like the example is given here that saàsevayä surataror iva. Surataror iva. Surataroù means the desire tree. It is described in the Brahma-saàhitä, desire tree. Cintämaëi-prakara-sadmasu kalpa-våkña [Bs. 5.29]. That is kalpa vriksha….. kalpa vriksha there is in the higher planetary system, and especially in the Vaikuntha world. There are trees are kalpa vriksha, because everything is spiritual; nothing is dead. Here you can take some fruits or flower from a particular tree, but there, if you like, you ask kachoré and samosä from a tree—you get. But we have no idea what is surataroù, surataroù, what is kalpa Vriksha. Whatever you desire, you’ll get it. Surabhéh, surabhér abhipäl… The cows are surabhi. Here you have got limitation; you can milk morning and evening to a certain extent. But there the cows are surabhi. Surabhi means you can milk as many times as you like, and as much milk you want, you can take it. But these things are there, but we have no information. We are struggling here. Manaù-ñañöhänéndriyäëi prakåti-sthäni karñati [Bg. 15.7]. Because we are fools and rascals, we are trying to make some adjustment here. That is not possible.
It is duùkhälayam açäçvatam. This is mäyä. We are trying to be happy in this material… It will never be possible. But these fools and rascals, they do not know. They are making big, big plans how to become happy, how to become, in our country, in our home, in our society, in our family, and so on, so on, so on. This means we are simply becoming entangled. Ato gåha-kñetra-sutäpta-vittair janasya moho ‘yam [SB 5.5.8]. Ahaà moha, illusion. It will never be possible. Therefore, the conclusion is we should fully surrender cent per cent to Krishna, and then we become happy. Saàsevayä surataror iva te prasädaù.
The example is: just like the desire tree, kalpa Vriksha. It can fulfill any desire, any desire. We have got so many desires. Krishna can fulfill all the desires. Please surrender to Krishna. This is the process.
Pure devotion means first of all you learn not to order Krishna, “Krishna, give me this, give me that, give me that.” Don’t bother Krishna. That is the beginning of spiritual life. Anyäbhiläñitä-çünyam. You prepare to carry out every order of Krishna. Then it is spiritual life. Don’t make Krishna your order-supplier. You become order-supplier of Krishna.
If you learn how to give service to Krishna cent per cent, then you get everything, everything, without asking. Krishna knows everything, what is required for you. Just like a father knows what is the necessity of the child. The child never begs, “Father, give me this, give me that.” No. He’s simply dependent on parents. The parent knows. Similarly, if we become cent per cent dependent and serve Him faithfully under His order or His representative’s order, then the success is sure.
( Srila Prabhupada lecture, March 5 , 1976, Mayapur)
Now the amazing thing is that all of the above is simply transcript of a lecture given by Srila Prabhupada, I simply copied it ‘as it is’, the language, even the sequence of the paragraphs. I have only inserted questions based on each para! It is simply an amazing lecture, full of gems. We can hear the original audio of this lecture here. Transcript of the complete lecture is here.
If we simply read the transcript carefully and repeatedly or hear the audio with sincerity and attention then we can get many keys to make a very rapid progress in Krishna consciousness and surrender to Krishna.
Let us hear about Krishna’s birth in Gokula, the description of beauty of this newly born transcendental baby and see if the sweetness of His divine pastimes can penetrate our steel framed heart and touch some deep spot within us. Acharayas declare that simply by attentively reading such descriptions one can easily develop a greed to know and meet this blue-hued cowherd boy who has blooming eyes like lotus petals, whose head is decked with a peacock feather and whose beauty charms millions of cupids.
Krishna’s own desire
The time for an appearance of the Lord coincided with two internal desires of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. First the Lord desired to descend on earth to increase the fortune of Yasoda and Nanda. Also at that time Krishna wanted to relish the sweet mellow of srngara rasa (paramour love) while enacting His worldly pastimes. For these two reasons the Lord appeared within the material creation on Bhuloka, (earth planet), along with His parents, friends, and other eternal associates
Shri Nanda, Yasoda, and others appeared in Brhadvana (Mahavana) before the Lord. The gopas, gopis, and other eternally liberated associates appeared after the Lord. Then those who had attained perfection by sadhana, namely the sruti-caris and muni-caris, took birth in Vrindavana. Learning of Krishna’s imminent appearance, the earth personified, feeling like a wife happily greeting her husband after a long separation, immersed in unlimited joy.
At the time of Krishna’s birth the general mass of people tasted the inner bliss that devotees forever relish. Auspicious signs abounded everywhere. As Vishnu’s conch shell Pancajanya opens in a clockwise fashion, similarly, auspicious sacrificial fires glowed in all directions. Pure gentle breezes brought a refreshing coolness like devotees who satisfy and sanctify everyone with their calm, sweet, and affectionate behavior. The whole atmosphere became as completely purified as the heart of a devotee. The devotees once again found peace and prosperity in worshiping the lotus feet of Lord Hari. Fruits filled the jubilant trees.
The bodies of all creatures manifested extraordinary beauty and youthful vitality. Men felt extremely joyful and displayed virtuous qualities. Throughout the world people behaved cordially and interacted amicably. Happiness twinkled in everyone’s eye.
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.
Krishna’s birth in Mathura
As the living entity comes out from the womb of his mother and the moon appears on the lap of the eastern direction, Yogesvara Shri Krishna, the personification of complete bliss, appeared amidst great festivities. As the moon appears in the lap of the eastern direction, which is like a beautiful bride, Krishna manifested the wonderful pastime of His appearance out of His love and compassion for the conditioned souls. Due to austerities performed in previous lives, Vasudeva and Devaki received the opportunity to momentarily relish parental affection for Lord Shri Krishna when He appeared before them in His form as Vasudeva.
But His final stop is somewhere else..
Thereafter in fear of Kamsa, Vasudeva brought Vasudeva Krishna to Gokula. There the Supreme Lord appeared as Govinda before Nanda and Yasoda, His eternal parents who have been smothering Him with the sweetest form of parental love since time immemorial.
Lord Hari, who is bliss personified, appeared in the home of Nanda Maharaja, the king of Vrndavana for three reasons: to engage the self satisfied sages in devotional service, to please the devotees by performing sweet transcendental pastimes, and to relieve the earth’s burden caused by the demons. At the time of His majestic birth Krishna employed His inconceivable powers to appear in a body of eternity, bliss and knowledge.
Krishna’s 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.
Krishna’s transcendental body
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.
Spontaneous love of mother Yasoda
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.
She saw her child’s body as made of dazzling blue sapphires. His mouth resembled a red bimba fruit 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.
All attractive Krishna
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.
Nanda maharaja’s arrival
The elderly Vrajavasi ladies addressed Vrajaraja Nanda, “O most fortunate one, you fathered a son!” Previously Nanda Maharaja had felt deeply aggrieved over his long-standing inability to obtain a son. His heart was like a small lake that had completely dried up during a long hot summer. But when Nanda Maharaja heard of his son’s birth he felt as if the dry lake of his heart had been blessed with a sudden downpour of nectar. The gentle sound of Krishna’s voice removed all his grief and lamentation. Now he bathed in the rains of bliss, swam in the ocean of nectar, and felt embraced by the joyful stream of the celestial Ganges.
Eager to see his son, Nanda’s body thrilled with astonishment and waves of ecstasy as he stood outside the maternity room. Because he had accumulated heaps of pious activities, it appeared that the King of Vrindavana was now shaking hands with the personification of pious deeds. Anxiously standing in the background, Yogamaya induced Nanda Maharaja to enter the maternity room. He rushed in to see his son, the personified seed of condensed bliss. It seemed that all the auspiciousness of the three worlds now resided within Krishna, the original cause of everything. Nanda saw his son as a perfectly charming person. The kajala around Krishna’s eyes looked like lines on a black creeper of beauty. As the very embodiment of Nanda’s good fortune, Sri Krishna bloomed like a beautiful flower in a garden of desire trees.
Let the festivities begin
Cymbals, damru drums, bherries, and big drums vibrated auspicious sounds in specific melodies. A celestial concert of precise poetical meters, proper rhythms, and metrical compositions suddenly manifested there. The musical ensemble inspired the society girls to sing and dance in mirth and merriment. Though not good singers, by the will of the Lord they sang with great virtuoso. Their wonderful songs filled Nanda Maharaja’s heart with joy. The combined vibrations of brahmana’s chanting Vedic hymns, the recitation of Puranic lore, and the panegyrics’s prayers transformed the ether into sabda brahman.
The joy of Krishna’s birth celebration taxed the drains of Nanda’s capital city as they swelled to the brim with milk, yogurt, and other auspicious liquids. Soon rivers of this nectar flooded the streets of the town and permeated the entire atmosphere with a sweet fragrance. Disguising themselves as birds, the demigods descended to Vrajapura to happily drink the flood of nectar. The Vrajavasis decorated their cows with gold and jeweled ornaments. Then in great excitement they smeared them with oil, fresh butter, and turmeric paste. Beholding Krishna in their hearts, these fortunate cows looked like the essence of the earth’s auspiciousness. The whole world resounded with their jubilant bellowing. Absorbed in the ecstasy of Krishna’s birth, they forgot about eating and drinking.
The festival drowned the gopis in an ocean of joy. After offering oil, vermilion, garlands, and utensils in charity to all the assembled gopis, Rohini, the wife of Vasudeva, asked them to bless Krishna. Upon completion of the sacrifice, Upananda and the other relatives felt constant happiness while taking their baths. Keeping the King of Vrindavana in the front, Nanda’s relatives offered opulent cloth, jeweled ornaments, tambula, garlands, and sandalwood pulp to the guests. Then they humbly requested all in attendance to bless that wonderfully auspicious boy who had just appeared in Vrindavana.
(Ananda Vrindavana Champu, chapter 2)
He who accepts this truth (that Krishna’s appearance and activities are transcendental) 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 Krishnato 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. In other words, such a faithful devotee of the Lord attains perfection.
Please accept my humble wishes and prayers for a very happy Janmashtami.
All glories to the most auspicious Janmashtami festival.
Meditating on the lotus feet of Sri Sri Radha-Muralimanohara, placing myself at the dust of Lord Caitanya’s feet, and respectfully offering obeisances to the great devotees of the Lord, who are so many oceans of transcendental virtue, I shall now happily begin to praise the transcendental opulences of Sri Vṛndāvana.
I am not strong enough to go to the far shore of the great nectar ocean of Vrindavan’s glories. Who can go there? However, because I love Vrindavan.
I will now dip into that ocean. I pray that this endeavor may become successful and bring an auspicious result.
O Sri Vṛndāvana , please reveal in my heart Your wonderful transcendental form full of the most confidential spiritual knowledge and bliss. Embarrassed to describe the highest nectar, the Upanisads only say “not this, not this”. Where are you described?
Day and night I glorify Vṛndāvana , which is filled with the wonder of Sri Sri Radha and Krsna’s pastimes, the wonder of the greatest sweetness, the ultimate nectar of Lord Hari, the sweetest, most beautiful auspiciousness and a flood of virtues Ananta-sesa, Siva, and a host of others cannot cross.
Think of Vṛndāvana with love. Roll in its dust. Love it ardently. Please its moving and non moving residents. Worship Sri Radha’s birthplace. With all your heart take shelter of Sri Vṛndāvana , the best of all holy places.
I meditate on Vṛndāvana , where the cuckoos sing the fifth note, the flute plays splendid melodies, peacocks sing and dance, vines and trees bloom, splendid and charming forests are wonderful with many birds and deer, and there are many splendid lakes, streams and hills.
May my eyes become overwhelmed with ecstasy by seeing the nectar waves of Vṛndāvana’s beauty. May my intelligence drown in the nectar ocean of Vṛndāvana’s glories. May my body become agitated by the swiftly moving currents of ecstatic bliss and thus roll about on the ground of Vrindavan . Falling down like a stick, may I offer my respectful obeisances to all the residents of Vrindavan .
May the land of Srila Vṛndāvana where Subala and the other wonderful cowherd boys, who are all dear friends of Sri Krsna, play, where Lalita and the other splendidly beautiful young gopis, who are all filled with love for Srimati Radharani, enjoy transcendental bliss, and where Sri Sri Radha-Krsna thirst to enjoy wonderful transcendental amorous pastimes day and night, become manifest in my heart.
To drink: the freely flowing streams are filled with clear sweet water as nectar. To eat: the dried leaves from the trees are foods as palatable as one could desire. The warm breezes are just as one would have them. To reside: there are clean mountain caves and other suitable residences. Alas! Alas! How unfortunate I would be if I wished to leave Vṛndāvana !
May Sri Vṛndāvana , which grants auspiciousness and bliss to all, and which is deeply loved by two or three great souls, become the mother and protectress of blind me.
May I love Vṛndāvana , where at the base of a kadamba tree on the cool shore of the Yamuna a dark complexioned, amorous, divine youth dressed in yellow garments plays a flute as He glances at Radha’s lotus face.
He who gives up the company of ordinary people, keeps no servants or followers, agitated with a desire to serve Sri Sri Radha-Krsna, constantly sheds tears, his hands placed on his cheeks and lives in Vṛndāvana , is the most fortunate of all persons.
Where do all people automatically and effortlessly obtain pure ecstatic love for Krsna? Where does the Supreme Personality of Godhead manifest His supremely wonderful pastime form? Where is the empire of the bliss of devotional service to Krsna’s lotus feet manifest? O brother, listen I will tell you a secret. All this is present here in Vṛndāvana.
O brother, please reside under the trees of Vrindavan , and from time to time enter the villages to beg alms. Drink as much Yamuna water as you like. Dress in some rejected pieces of cloth. Consider others’ praise of you the most bitter poison, and their disrespect sweet as nectar. Serve Sri Sri Radha-Muralidhara, and never leave this land of Vrindavan.
Vrindavan is wonderful. The two sweet fair and dark splendors named Radha and Krsna are wonderful. Pure love for Their lotus feet is wonderful. He who has faith in Them and rises to the spiritual world is wonderful. The rare soul who understands these truths is wonderful.
I worship two splendors who are more handsome than millions of Rati-Kamadevas, who have stolen the glory of millions of Laksmi-Narayanas, whose forms are effulgent as gold and sapphires, and who enjoy pastimes in the forest of Vrindavan.
Let us worship the Person more splendid than a blue lotus and sweeter than the nectar handsomeness of all other forms of Godhead, who wanders in a forest filled with nectar from Radha’s feet.
Even glorious Laksmi-devi, who rests on Lord Narayana’s chest, cannot taste the supremely sweet nectar Radha’s maidservants always taste in many ways. O dear friend, please worship Radha in Vrindavan forest.
In Vṛndāvana forest the trees are called druma because they melt [dru] with love for Krsna and they are also called taru because they shield [tarana] Krsna from the blazing sunshine [tarana]. The vines are called vratati because they have taken a firm vow [vrata] to serve Krsna. The deer are called krsnasara because Krsna is their life and soul [sara], and they are also called mrga because they always search [mrg] for Krsna’s footprints.
Anointing your entire body with the dust from the feet of the residents of Sri Vṛndāvana , seeing Sri Vṛndāvana as the supreme effulgent transcendental realm, and meditating on the fact that Sri Sri Radha and Krsna are always charmed by the sweetness of Sri Vṛndāvana , please reside in this transcendental abode, Sridhama Vṛndāvana.
How can a person who has never seen Vrindavan’s Yamuna river, which is filled with eternally blooming indivara, kamala, kahlara, kumuda, and other lotus flowers, all filled with the sweet humming sounds of bumblebees, and which displays the places where Sri Sri Radha-Muralidhara and Their friends enjoyed transcendental pastimes, remain alive?
( Selected verses from Sri Vrindavan Mahimamrta by Srila Prabodhananda Sarasvati Thakura)
In my heart I place the splendid feet of Radha’s Lord, feet that eclipse the glory of autumn lotuses, are served by hosts of bumblebee sages, are marked with lightning and lotus and decorated with glistening golden anklets, and break the three sufferings of the devotees.
(Garga Samhita, Canto 1, chapter 1, verse 2)
Then, placing Her glorious transcendental form in (the womb of) King Vrishabhanu’s wife, Shri Radha descended into a great palace in a garden by the Yamuna’s shore.
In the month of Bhadra (August-September), on a Monday that was the eighth day of the bright fortnight of the moon, at midday, when the sky was covered with clouds, (to celebrate Radha’s descent) the demigods scattered flowers that had blossomed in the Nandana gardens.
Because of Radha’s descent the rivers became very pure and clear, the directions became auspicious and happy, and graceful, gentle, cooling breezes carried the pollen of lotus flowers.
Gazing at her daughter beautiful as hundreds of moons, the gopi Kirti became happy. To bring auspiciousness she gave two hundred thousand cows in charity to please the brahmanas.
(Garga Samhita, Canto 1, chapter 8, verse 6-9)
Srila Prabhupada explains who is Radharani?
Today is Radharani’s appearance day. So we should try to understand Radharani’s feature. Radharani is the pleasure potency, hladini-shakti. Anandamayo ‘bhyasat (Vedanta-sutra 1.1.12). In the Vedanta-sutra the Absolute Truth is described as anandamaya, always in pleasure potency. That änandamaya potency… Just like ananda. When you want ananda, pleasure, you cannot have it alone. Alone, you cannot enjoy. When you are in the circles of friend or family or other associates, you feel pleasure. Just like I am speaking. The speaking is very pleasing when there are many persons here. I cannot speak alone here. That is not ananda. I can speak here at night, dead of night, nobody here. That is not ananda. Ananda means there must be others. So because Krishna, the Absolute Truth, is anandamaya, therefore eko bahu syäm, He has become many. We are also Krishna’s part and parcel, to give pleasure to Krishna. And the chief pleasure potency is Radharani.
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, London, 29th August 1971)
We approach Krishna through the mercy Radharani
Actual aim of life is to satisfy Lord Vishnu, and Krishna is the origin of Vishnu-tattva. And He is pleased through Radharani. Therefore we don’t keep Krishna alone. No, Radha-Krishna. First Radharani. So that day is today. First you have to worship Radharani.
Therefore in Vrindavan you will see all devotees, they will address one another, “Jaya Radhe.” Still. Because they know that “If Radharani is pleased, if I can please Radharani …” Radharani is presented, the original pleasure potency, always absorbed in thought of Krishna. So anyone who comes before Radharani to serve Krishna, oh, She becomes so pleased, “Oh, here is a devotee of Krishna.” She immediately recommends, “Krishna, oh, here is a devotee. He is better than Me.” This is Radharani . I may be a, not devotee. I may be most fallen rascal. But if I try to reach Krishna through Radharani , then my business is successful. Therefore we should worship Radharani first. That is our business. Instead of offering directly one flower to Krishna, you just put it in the hands of Radharani : “My mother Radharani, Jagan-mata, if you kindly take this flower and offer it to Krishna.” “Oh,” Radharani says, “Oh, you have brought a flower?” Krishna said, patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ yo me bhaktyā prayacchati [Bg. 9.26], but don’t try to offer Krishna directly. Just offer through Radharani. It will be very much appreciated by Radharani.
So this is our philosophy, to please Krishna through Radharani, and just today is the auspicious day of Radharani appearance. So we should offer pushpanjali and pray to Radharani that “Radharani , kindly be merciful and tell about me to Your Krishna. To Your Krishna. Krishna is Yours.” Krishna, Radha-Krishna. Krishna is not independent. Krishna is Radharani’s property. So you have to approach Krishna through Radharani. That is, today is the auspicious day. Worship Radharani very nicely and be happy.
( Srila Prabhupada lecture, London 5th September 1973)
She always feels separation of Krishna
As Radharani is always in feelings of separation of Krishna, similarly, in the position of Radharani, Lord Caitanya was feeling separation of Krishna. That is the teachings of Lord Caitanya,feelings of separation, not meeting. The process of devotional service taught by Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His disciplic succession is how to feel separation from Krishna. That is Radharani’s position, always feeling the separation.
The Gosvamis, they also, when they were in Vrindavan, they never said that “I have seen Krishna.” Although they were the most perfect, they never said that “I have seen Krishna.” Their prayers were like this: he rādhe vraja–devikeca lalite he nanda-sūno kutaḥ. he rādhe, Radharani, he rādhe! vraja–devike ca vraja-devike! ca. Radharani does not remain alone. He (She) remains always with His (Her) friends, vraja–devi, Lalita or Vishakha and other damsels of Vrindavan. So the Goswamis are praying, in their mature stage, when they were living at Vrindavan, they were praying in this way, he rādhe vraja–devikeca lalite he nanda-sūnokutaḥ: “Where, Radharani, where You are? Where are Your associates? Where You are, Nanda-suno, the son of Nanda Maharaja, Krishna? Where you are, all?” They were searching after. They never said, “I have seen Krishna dancing with the gopis. Last night I saw.” (laughter) This is sahajiya. This is not mature devotee. They are called sahajiya. They take everything very cheap—Krishna very cheap, Radharani very cheap—as if they can see every night. No. The Gosvamis do not teach us like that. They’re searching after. he rādhe vraja–devikeca lalite he nanda-sūnokutaḥ, śrī-govardhana-kalpa-pādapa-tale kālindī-vane kutaḥ: “Are you there under the Govardhana Hill or on the banks of the Yamuna?” kālindī-vane kutaḥ. ghoṣantāv iti sarvato vraja-pure khedair mahā-vihvalau. Their business was crying like this, “Where You are? Where You are, Radharani? Where you are, Lalita, Vishakha, the associates of Radharani? Where You are, Krishna? Are You near Govardhan Hill or on the bank of the Yamuna?” ghoṣantāv iti sarvato vraja-pure. So throughout the whole tract of Vrindavan they were crying and searching after Them, khedair mahā-vihvalau, as if madman. khedair mahā-vihvalau. vande rūpa-sanātanau raghu-yugau śrī-jīva-gopālakau.
So we have to follow the footprints of the Gosvamis, how to search out Krishna and Radharani, Vrindavan, or within your heart. That is the process of Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s bhajana: feeling of separation, vipralambha, vipralambha-seva…..Not that very easily, “We have seen Krishna or seen Radharani in rasa-lila.” No, not like that. Feel the separation. The more you feel separation from Krishna, you should understand that you are advancing. Don’t try to see Krishna artificially. Be advanced in separation feeling, and then it will be perfect.
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, London, 29th August 1971)
Last weekend, in Vrindavan, I stayed with the family of Deepak Handa prabhuji. Prabhuji is a very sincere, steady and soft-hearted devotee, it is indeed a good fortune to be able to get association of such a Vaishnava family.
We started our journey back to Gurgaon and as we were crossing Parikrama marg we saw a western mataji collapsing in front of us on the sidewalk. They were two matajis, in their mid thirties, one of them collapsed and a small crowd had gathered. Deepak prabhuji immediately stopped his car to check if everything was fine. Rather reluctantly, I too followed prabhuji, thinking what help can we give as we are on way back to Gurgaon. As we reached the spot we found that one local devotee had already stopped a rickshaw and was requesting them to show them to a nearby doctor whom he knew personally. Another local mataji too checked and as she found that the mataji who had collapsed was back on her feet and someone is taking her to a doctor, she was satisfied and left. I too told Prabhuji let’s leave as everything seems settled, she just seemed weak and may be collapsed from exhaustion or weakness. The only hitch in my mind was to which doctor they were being taken to. I told the local devotee to take them to ISKCON hospital but he was firm to show them to the doctor he knew very well, he insisted that many local devotees see this doctor only.
All seemed settled but Deepak prabhuji refused to leave them like this. He said if we are slightly doubtful then let’s check the doctor. We were getting delayed and I thought by going to the doctor we will get further late and we should just move on. Of course I didn’t say it as Prabhuji seemed firm on helping them. Prabhuji went to park his car properly and I followed the two matajis to the doctor, along with the local devotee who recommended him, the doctor was very close by.
The doctor turned out to an ayuvedic doctor/practitioner. He checked her blood pressure, pulse, etc and said that she is suffering from severe acidity, may be even diarrhea, and that she has lost too much fluid.
He then scolded the devotee who brought her stating that he let this mataji lie down on his couch as she seemed to have passed urine, even stool, in her clothes. Suddenly I could smell the stench and felt repulsed. The doctor, said that he can’t do much instantaneously and the best course is that she drinks some energy drink (ORS) and take some precaution in eating. By this time Deepak Prabhuji had walked inside and started talking to the other mataji. We found that they have a flight the same evening to Norway! She didn’t seem to be in a condition to take a long flight today. We also found that they were staying quite close and finally it was agreed to let them go back to their room, get some rest, drink the ORS and then they can decide whatever action they wish to take. All settled.
Deepak Prabhuji then took the prescription for the ORS and requested the two matajis go back to their room and that we will deliver the ORS to their room or at their reception. I thought that one of the mataji is fine and she can easily pick up the ORS from a nearby chemist on their way back to their room. Still out of courtesy I told Prabhuji let me go and get the energy drinks.
As I came out I saw the rickshaw puller washing his seat as he too realised that it was smelling of urine. He didn’t complain as both the matajis again climbed back in the same rickshaw and left. The only thing in my mind was to quickly leave back for Gurgaon.
As I turned back, and slowly walked towards the main road to find a chemist, I suddenly realised that this morning only I had prayed to one of the trees in MVT to kindly give me an opportunity to serve Dhama or some person in Dhama! Over the last few months it has become a habit for me to pray to the trees in Vrindavan, with amazing results. I had written about it in an early blog few months back (please read it here). I immediately felt utterly ashamed at my internal thought process during this whole incident. I realised that based on my prayer I received an opportunity to help someone in dhama yet I behaved internally like an insensitive moron. I was also relived that I was with Deepak Handa Prabhuji as I am sure that had I been alone I may not have even stopped or stopped and just moved on. But Krishna is so merciful that He ensured that I was with a devotee whose heart was soft. I profusely thanked Krishna and the tree to whom I had prayed in the morning .
In a swift change of mood I was full of excitement and there was sudden spring in my step as I absorbed what really had happened and how my desire got fulfilled within few hours and how close I was to miss it! I knew that had it not been for the presence of Deepak Prabhuji I would have certainly missed it. I went and bought those ORS drinks, then we went together and delivered at mataji’s room.
This incident may sound common but there were many learning for me
It moved something in my heart. I will try to be more sensitive towards helping others, will pray for a softer heart.
Remain constantly in the association of devotees, especially in dhama.
I also learnt a good lesson from Deepak Prabhuji on what does being a devotee really means. I felt utterly ashamed from inside. What kind of a devotee I am with such a hard heart.
This incident also showed me that if we are conscious in Krishna consciousness then we can clearly see that our prayers are being answered but we have become so blind and hard-hearted that we don’t see them.
It solidified my faith that all trees in Vrindavan are Kalpa Vriksha (wish-fulfilling trees)
It also helped me realise that when we pray from the level of our present level of advancement then it helps. I had heard it in a lecture few weeks back that whenever we pray for something then we should pray from the our present level and not try to jump to something higher for which we have no qualification. The example that exalted devotee gave was that if someone gifts us a penthouse in a very fancy building but we find that there are no stairs or lifts for it then it is useless for us. Similarly instead of praying for something very high like Krishna Prema or being present in one of the pastimes of Lord etc., it is better and practical to pray for advancement from our current level to the next level. One can not make progress from an artificial platform. Somehow those words stuck a chord in my heart and from that day my prayers changed and it seems to be working.
In the end, I am copying translation of three verses from Sri Vraja-riti-cintamani, by Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura chapter 2, text 21, 22 & 23, glorifying the amazing trees of Vrindavan.
From the branches and roots of the trees of Vraja all Brahmas and Shivas emanate. Although the trees of Vraja are as splendid as the sun, they still are wonderful parasols to shade one from the sun’s rays. They shine with the luster of youth, just as the four Kumaras.
The trees of Vraja were never planted or husbanded. They never grew from any seed. They glisten with many leaves and flowers. They bear many ripe, unripe, and ripening fruits.
The splendid trees of Vrajabhumi are perfectly spiritual in nature and full of all potencies. They are just like the incarnations of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Just as the conditioned souls misunderstand the spiritual nature of the Supreme Lord’s incarnations, in the same way they misunderstand the glory of these trees in Vraja.
I felt a lot better just by writing my last blog, crying to the Lord. I saw two clear answers for my agitated heart.
1. Beg for a service which is inconvenient for me at the local temple.
2. Beg to the Srila Prabhupada at his samadhi at Vrindavana to show me the way.
Next day, 29th, as I was getting ready to go to the office my morning meeting got cancelled and then the afternoon meeting too got postponed and suddenly I smelled a golden opportunity to go to Dhama for a day. I left for the Vrindavana at 11.30am.
It was all empty roads on a hot summer day. I realised this is the best time to listen to some nice lectures and as I was browsing though my list on phone I saw the recorded lectures of Govardhan Retreat by HG Bhurijan Prabhu and HH Sacinandan Maharaj. It was a coincident that I haven’t heard this series since many months ( I listen to them regularly). The recording started with initial introduction to Govardhan retreat by HG Bhurijana Prabhu. Prabhuji then explained various wonderful pastimes of Krishna at Govardhan and then HG Madhavananda Prabhu spoke for half an hour on more pastimes of Krishna and then it was time for lecture by HH Sacinandan Maharaj. The next 1.25 hours were sheer bliss by listening to Maharaj. I am quoting a small portion of the lecture, which I noted on my mobile while listening. I have realised that I only absorb and remember those lectures which I hear repeatedly or those which I share with devotees or those for which I make notes. The highest being when I share it with devotees, in that case too I remember only 20-30% of what I like, unless I share it with more devotees.
Maharaj quoted 7th verse from Manah Sikshah, written by Sri Raghunath Das Goswami ( I am writing the verse for the benefit of readers, Maharaj didn’t recite the full translation of the verse)
My dear mind, the despicable desire for material honor and distinction is compared to a shameless dog-eating, low-born prostitute- yet she is flagrantly dancing in my heart. How, then, can the pristine love of pure devotion to Sri Krishna even find a place in my heart ? You will simple have to serve the unalloyed devotees of the Lord, who are his intimate associates and stalwart supporters. They alone can drive out this prostitute and enthrone pure love of Godhead within my heart.
Maharaj explained that when the desire for fame enters our heart and we allow her to stay there for a long time, then she, the fame, doesn’t want to stay alone, she invites her so called husband called Envy ! She invites envy to come as she wants a union. The desire for fame always invites envy of others who are more famous than us, better than us in so many other ways. And then this couple produce two children
1. aggressiveness towards others
2. criticism of others.
Maharaj added that if we let the desire for fame enter our heart then all the Vaiahanava qualities leave us. Good night sunshine !! So this desire for fame needs to be thrown out and we need to remain very conscious of it rather remain vigilant for even a small such desire because even if it is unintentional, it will cause havoc. The desire of fame is described as a dog eating witch by Raghunath Goswami ! (I read earlier that Srila Raghunath Das Goswami is the prayojan acharya, the one who takes us to our ultimate goal.)
Maharaj further added another gem by stating that
it is not for the recognition of others that we should our bhakti, it is for the recognition of Krishna. This is what we want, not that we are recognised as something special and something good. We want that Krishna is recognised.
What wonderful lines and realisation for me. I never ever thought like this before. I aspire to become a good devotee and a good disciple but never thought for a single second that I am doing my bhakti for the recognition of Krishna, which means consciously or unconsciously I am doing my bhakti for my ownself, my own fame.
Maharaj explained that `pratishtha’ is like poison and if we swallow it then ufff ! it will destroy you from inside. Maharaj added that whenever fame comes to us, as we do some good service, and we generally say this is all due to the mercy of my Guru Maharaj. Maharaj said don’t say such words because we want to be known as a very good disciple, say it because we should feel (and say) that on my own I am not good for anything and whatever good is there it is because someone else gave it to me.
What is the solution ? One should serve those who are dear to the Lord. Only a pure devotee of the Lord can throw out this `witch’ of fame, and her associates, who are in our heart, and then bring the great king of love, Krishna, on the throne of our heart.
I pray at the lotus feet of HH Sacinandan Maharaj and beg him to bless me that I always remember this one line and do my bhakti only for the recognition of Krishna.
(we can listen and download all the earlier Govardhan retreats lectures at http://www.vihe.org/audio_lectures.html, scroll down to HH Sacinandana Swami, HG Bhurijan Prabhu, HG Jagattarini Mataji, then click again and we will find links to all the earlier recorded lectures from earlier retreats)
All glories to HH Sacinandan Maharaj.
After I took the left turn from the highway for Sri Radha Kund, and passed through villages, there were lush green fields on both sides.
I reached Sri Radha Kund around 3 pm. We drove right till the Radha Kunda, as the market and the lanes were deserted. I got down from the car a local panda (local priest) arrived from no where, probably the car acted as a cue. The road outside was so hot that I could not walk a single step barefoot.
I entered Sri Radha Kunda, paid my obeisances on the steps and then took bath in the shaded portion of the Kunda. The water was surprising not at all warm. I paid my respects, seek forgiveness for entering the holy water, being completely unqualified, I shared what all was agitating me and then I prayed with all my heart to show me a way. After the bath, the panda `cajoled’ me to offer arti and made me donate some rice and dal as today was `amvasaya’. I requested him that I needed the pictures of Sri Radha Kund and Govardhan and the panda helped me by taking me to a shop and I found just the right picture and size for my altar. I was so happy to see these pictures that I wanted to hug the panda. I was looking for them since last one year and could not get them anywhere. HG Vidurpriya Prabhuji had told me earlier that They will come when They want to and not when I want, so today They agreed.
Sri Radha Kund ki Jai !
I had earlier planned to visit only Sri Radha Kund and then go straight to Vrindavan but after listening to the retreat lectures, and now getting a beautiful picture of Giriraj, I felt inspired to pay my obeisances to Sri Govardhan. I told the driver to go to Govardhan, we drove till the main market and then took the left turn.
And there He was, an effulgent and majestically standing Govardhan.
I filled my eyes with His beauty, paid dandavat pranam, thanked Him, and left for Vrindavan with Vraja dhooli on my forehead.
I had a quick lunch in the car, which my wife had packed for the office. By the time I reached the temple it was almost 4.25 pm. I bought a pair of rose garlands for Sri Krishna Balram and entered the temple. Whenever I enter Sri Krishna Balram temple it is an indescribable feeling. It is like coming back to my real home, or as I have shared earlier, coming back to the home of my grandfather. I know someone is waiting who loves me, without judging me, or I may add, someone who loves me despite knowing who really I am.
As I entered inside, a soft melodious kirtan was going by the 24 hour kirtan party. I first paid my obeisances to Srila Prabhupada, thanked him profusely for inspiring me to come here and begged him to engage me in his transcendental movement. And after paying dandavat at the closed altar I went and met HG Ganshyam Prabahu, who was part of the Kirtan party. He is a very simple and sincere devotee who serves HH Janananda Maharaj. I gave him the parcel which HG Shyam Sundar Prabhu had sent for him. Suddenly the conchshell blew and it was time for Their Lordship to see us.
The beauty of Deities at Vrindavan is beyond words, They always look so fresh, so beautiful, so stunning, so captivating, so charming, words fail to describe Them.
After paying my obeisances and thanking Them for letting me come there, I stood there admiring Their beauty, alternating between all the three altars, each one more munificent, more sublime and simply divine.
The kirtan was now going on with more vigor. A hall which was empty 5 minutes back was full of dancing devotees.
As I came into the temple courtyard I saw devotees doing the service for rubbing chandan for the chandan Yatra. HG Ganshyam prabhu came out and graciously got me some mahaprasadam. He saw me looking at the devotees who were doing the service of rubbing chandan and he asked if I would like to do it ? My heart jumped and I said Yes please ! He went to the Prabhuji who was in charge of the service and requested him to allow me to do the service for sometime. Prabhuji asked my credentials and whether I am following all the 4 regulative principles strictly and chanting my rounds, and after my affirmative answer Prabhuji allowed me to take up the service. I was so delighted as I could get a direct service for the Lord. I didn’t sit idle for a single minute today, what a good fortune, all mercy of Mahaprabhu, Srila Prabhupada and the devotees.
Later, I went to Srila Prabhupda’s samadhi and thanked him again for inspiring me to come to Sri Vrindavan dham and sought his causeless mercy to engage me in his movement and begged for intelligence to serve his servants and their servants with all my heart and without any prejudice. I wanted to cry at his feet but no tears came out of my dry stone like heart.
I left the temple around 5.50pm to meet HG Damodar Prabhu, a very knowledgeable and yet a very humble devotee. I reached his home at 6pm and spent 30 wonderful minutes with him. After initial greetings I asked Prabhuji how can I read Caitanaya Caritramrita better and learn to recite the Bengali verses. Prabhuji instructed me that I should not just the read the translation, which is what I do, but also read the verses, even if I can’t pronounce them properly. Prabhuji said that there is no difference between Sri Caitanaya Caritramrita and Sri Caitanya Mahāprabhu and whenever I read Caitanaya Caritramrita I must first pray to Mahaprabhu and if Mahraprabhu is pleased then reading and reciting Bengali verses would suddenly become a cakewalk. Jai!
When Prabhuji had last come to Gurgaon, he had sung `Hari Haraye Namah Krsna Yadavaya Namah’ and `Bhaja re bhaj re amar mana ati manda’ bhajans. These two bhajans remain firmly imbibed in my heart for the melodious and absorbing way Prabhuji sang them. He had literally taken me to the transcendental world while singing them. So my second question was how can I learn to sing Vaishnava Bhajans as I have developed a longing to learn them but I do not have any musical sense or voice. Prabhuji smiled and replied that to sing Vaishanava bhajans we do not need to be an expert in tunes or require any special singing skills as they need to come out from our heart. When I said that in my case the heart also does not have any feeling or purity, Prabhuji told me to pray to the goswamis and practice them everyday and I should get them. He also told me that I can listen to bhanjans by Sri Akinchan Krishnadas Babaji Maharaj, Srila Prabhupada’s godbrother, who used to chant almost 24 hours a day and hear how by simply playing a basic kartal tune and with a not so melodious voice he still takes the listener to another realm by his simple bhajans. I promised myself that I am going to learn few bhajans, which I can sing alone in my coarse voice and see if I can glorify the Lord. I left his association around 6.30pm for back to Gurgaon.
This short trip proved to be one of my best trips as by the mercy of the Lord I could absorb most of the time remembering Krishna, listening about Krishna, got darshan of Sri Radha Kunda, Sri Govardhan, Deities at Krishna Balram temple, goy to do the chandan service for the Lord and then got devotee association with HG Ganshyam Prabhu and HG Damodar Prabhu. I spoke to HG Shyam Sundar Prabhuji for sometime and then chanted almost all the way back to home. My agitated heart was calm, filled with love and an increasing inspiration to do something more in the service of Krishna, Srila Prabhupada and Guru.
I had not been to Vrindavan Dhama since last Kartika, which is a shame as I live just a 2.5 hour drive away.
It was a double bonanza trip for me, first HH Janananada Maharaj was there and he had agreed to give me some time, he is a very simple, austere and humble Sanyasi. In the words of HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj he is one of the hidden jewels of ISKCON. Maharaj always stay at ISKCON Goshala. The second bonanza was that Sumeet prabhu got me a room at the same Goshala. I have no love for cows and I thought staying close to them I might inculcate some love for cows.
I left on Saturday noon and reached Goshala around 4 pm. I had planned to change, take darshan of the Deities and then meet Maharaj. As I got down from the car and turned towards the Goshala building I saw HH Janananada Maharaj walking with his assistant. I paid my obeisances, he was pleasantly surprised to see me and said that he is going for a program and might get late so he will see me tomorrow morning. I kept on walking with Maharaj and after some time requested him if I too could attend the program. He agreed to my request, the program was at ISCKON hospice. Maharaj refused to sit in my car and chose to walk stating that it was a short distance and he always prefers to walk.
We reached the hospice and the program started Maharaj gave a very nice lecture on SB 1.7.7.
My points of learning from the lecture:
1. Srimad Bhagavatam is the fruit of vedic knowledge, we should be concerned with the fruit rather than getting lost in the vast vedic knowledge.
2. Knowledge is good but what we do with the knowledge is more important. Maharaj gave many examples from Srimad bhagavatam like Hiranyaksha, who had the knowledge about spirit soul but still utilised it for the wrong purpose.
3. False ego means false identity, we are thinking of ourselves at the bodily platform rather than as a spirit soul. Maharaj gave the example that if a person is watching TV along with his dog and is totally immersed in the TV program, laughing, crying, etc. watching it. The dog must wonder why my master is behaving in such an odd way. The dog is not connected with the TV and will wonder if his master has gone crazy! Maharaj said similarly in today’s time we identify with our wallet and now mobile phone and how badly we lament when we lose our mobile phone as if our life air is lost.
4. Maharaj concluded the session by instructing us that we to see everything in relation with Krishna and not with ourselves. This is what Guru maharaj also always teach us that Krishna should be in the centre and not us.
As maharaj was leaving and reached the main gate of the building, he turned back and asked the doctor accompanying us that he wants to see the facilities and meet the patients. We turned back and then Maharaj went through the facilities, there weren’t too many patients, and the building, though simple, was well maintained. Then we went to the top floor and met patients. We were told that they are all cancer patients, at their last stage. Srila Prabhupada’s kirtan was playing in each room and somehow the atmosphere was not that of complete gloom.
Maharaj went and met every single patient. He held their hand, consoled them not to fear and told them to chant the Holy name. Maharaj was full of compassion.
We came back to Goshala, I took permission to get fresh and take darshan of the Deities. I checked into my room. It was a very simple room, just a bed and nothing else, the bathroom was neat and simple. Standing outside the room the air smelled fresh, though scented with cowdung, hay and other paraphernalia.
I went to the temple and took darshan of Their Lordships. It is always a very humbling experience standing in from of Krishna & Balram and facing music in the heart that my progress in spiritual journey is negligible and no efforts in preaching. I took darshan and told Them I would try harder and begged for their mercy. I could get Mahaprasad from the counter for dinner.
I came back to Goshala. I found the ambiance here very soothing, a pleasant change from all the hustle and bustle around the temple. I felt as if I in a different Vrindavan. To my surprise I found that the geyser in my bathroom is not working and I wondered how to take a cold morning bath but then Maharaj’s assistant came to my rescue and told me that I can get warm water from Maharaj’s bathroom. I honoured the Maharaprasadam in the room and was in the bed by 9pm. It was very calm and serene barring some noises from cows and monkeys which I actually liked.
I got up without the alarm as at 3 am, I felt as if the whole place has come suddenly alive. There was some generator or machine which started with great noise and the people were moving around, cows and what not. One Brahmachari was already taking a bath my bathroom, as he came outside I asked him `Is the geyser working?’ He said the water is fine, though not hot it is not very cold also. It gave me courage to enter the washroom and I thought if he could take it then so could I. I opened the tap of the geyser and there was no difference in the temperature and water was so cold! All my thoughts and courage of taking a cold water bath got evaporated immediately and I shamelessly went toward’s Maharaj’s room to get warm water. Maharaj came out and gave me an inquiring look. I explained about the geyser and Maharaj told me to take water from his bathroom. As I came out of room after getting ready, I was not ready for the chill and it is some walk to the main temple from here. As I walked out I saw a Brahmachari starting his scooter. I requested him for a lift till the temple and I was right in time for Prabhupada arti at his samadhi.
As I stood there with darkness all around me and just the light from Samadhi illuminating I wondered if this shows that unless I take shelter under the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada I will remain in darkness.
Then it was time for the mangal arti and surprisingly for a Sunday it was not all packed up and I found a good place to stand in front of the altar. The Kirtan peaked at 4.30am and the altar doors opened.
Mangal arti darshan is always very very special and somehow it always reminds me of Krishna Lila. After a melodious arti and then Tulasi pooja, I went to Srila Prabhupada’s quarter to chant my rounds. I felt too cold there and had to take shelter of the guest house reception where I paced from one side to another to keep myself warm.
It was then time for the Shringar darshan and Guru Puja.
I wonder how the beauty of the Deities at Vrindavan always seemed to increased every time and They always look so fresh as if They have just came out after taking a bath, Nava Yauvana.
Morning class was by HH Bhakti Marg swami Maharaj. Two lessons I learnt
1. Looking into the past is in the mode of tamoguna (ignorance), looking into the future is in the mode of rajoguna ( passion) and looking or putting our consciousness into the present is in the mode of Satoguna (goodness).
2. Our philosophy is not so much devotion to Krishna but devotion to Krishna’s devotees.
I had a quick breakfast at Govinda’s and then came back to Goshala. There was a group of new devotees who had arrived from Punjabi Bagh temple with two Brahmacharis.
All glories to preaching !
I met Maharaj again. He spoke about working on the `internal’ as well `external’. He explained that our internal consciousness is known only to us unless we confide in some devotee. Hence externally devotees may correct us in chanting properly, correct our pronunciation, our dress, etc. but internally we have to work ourselves very consciously as only we know this internal status.
Maharaj also advice that`Grahsthas’ must maintain at least a basic standard for Deity worship. He explained very nicely that if one learns all the rules and regulations when learning to drive a car then it may get little cumbersome in the beginning but later it will help a lot when one would drive almost without remembering but still following the rules. He said imagine a driver who learns without any rules and what kind of driver that person will turn out in the future.
I left Dhama at noon after taking darshan of Their Lordships.
This was during my initial days of spiritual journey. I had started going to Vrindavan, alone, staying for a day or two, not knowing what exactly to do besides attending temple program. I did not know a single soul there besides Deities. So, mostly I would attend all the morning programs, have breakfast prasadam at Govinda, come back to room to read, sleep a bit, back in the temple at 4-5pm, have dinner prasadam at Govinda, come back to room, read a bit and sleep by 9pm for next day’s Mangal Arti. This is what I still aspire for.
I was again in Vrindavan Dhama and after Mangal Arti there was announcement that it is very special day (what day isn’t special in Vrindavan) and a bus will be leaving for Vrinda Kunda for the marriage of Tulasi and Shaligram. I had never ever heard in my life about this event and I don’t know why my heart prompted me to board that bus to the Lila sthali of Vrinda Devi. I went for it.
It was two bus load of devotees, with hardly any Indian on board. We reached the temple after a long bumpy ride, it was in middle of the fields, with no road after the final turn towards temple.
I could see a beautiful small temple decorated in very simple and traditional Indian way. There was a slight buzz around the place. I found that a group of devotees had done all night kirtan the previous night. Jai ! As we entered it was announced that we will get some prasadam, we sat on the mats and were served a very delicious puffed rice prasadam, it was dry and salty, with a banana. I still remember the taste of that prasadam after so many years. I still hanker for it, even that time I had greedily taken extra portions and kept on munching it for a long time. After the prasadam was over most of the devotees got busy with some service. The temple was getting ready for the marriage. The whole setting was completely rural. I wondered around, bought and read a book, a devotee had put the book stall. I was too naive to beg for any service.
I was told that an Malaysian couple has been sponsoring this event for some time. As the time came for the marriage we had ISKCON pujaris and local temple priest who presided over the ceremony complete with mantras and, later, pheras. The local priest explained how the `Braja’ scriptures are different from what our Acharayas have written. The Malaysian couple, wife was Indian and husband a native Malaysian, did the kanyadaan. Shaligrama shilla and Tulasi walked around the havan kund in their laps. Many devotees had brought nice gifts for the newly weds. Amid all the kirtan, marriage, vidai (bride leaves for husband’s home) not for a single moment I felt that I was not attending a traditional Indian marriage.
After the marriage there was a feast for the local Brajawasis, we served each one of them with sumptuous prasadam. Once they finished then it was our time to honour the prasadam. Kirtan continued almost throughout the time. It was the first time that I came contact with the non-Indian ISKCON devotees and I was completely ashamed to see their devotion during the whole ceremony. I am sure I have never worked so hard, as they did, in any of my cousin sister’s marriages (I don’t have a real sister). I still vividly remember one devotee feeding leftover prasadam to a street dog with such affection as if feeding his own son. I would not have even gone close to that dog in normal times. Consciousness of all these devotees was very pure and I felt being the odd one out.
We came back in the evening. I will felt purified till my inner core. Sometimes when I look back, I think it was after attending this ceremony and being in touch with so many pure devotees that my spiritual journey got on the track.
I also feel that we do not appreciate enough what role ISKCON plays in making such `Lila sthali’ accessible to a common man. Had it not been for ISKCON, every devotee would be on the mercy of local `panda’ or priest, as in most traditional Indian temples. I don’t remember being charged for this for the trip, and even that would be some very reasonable amount to cover the cost, got association of devotees, blessings of attending Tulasi Shaligram marriage, heard melodious and impromptu kirtans by devotees, sumptuous prasadam, opportunity to serve Brajavasis. I do not know any other organization in India, or the whole world, which would serve so much and that too for a non-member like me and with no other motive than to please Krishna.
It is a pity when I see so many temples in India, at prime locations in cities and various Dhams, in dilapidated condition. They should all handover the management to ISKCON and see the difference in service to Deities and preaching in the area, which is the purpose of a temple.
We can know more about Tulasi vivah and the Vrinda Devi temple, now under ISKCON, at