with HH Indradyumna Swami and Bada Haridas in the holy month of Kartik – Join Indradyumna Swami and Bada Haridas as they take you on an unforgettable journey to Sri Vrindavan Dham and Sri Mayapur Dham.
HareKṛṣṇa. We are talking about environmental scanning. I say everybody is pretty much in bliss doing an environmental scan here [Laughter]. We will just talk a little bit more about what happened after Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākur went on his pilgrimage. While he was doing that pilgrimage he was of course—seeking blessings, but he was also doing an environmental scan. As he traveled around, he was seeing, “What is going on with all of the devotees?” He saw that there were quite a variety of things going on. That is what a preacher does, wherever he travels he looks around and he sees, “What is going on with the people and what can I do for them?”
Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākur, as he was traveling from one place to another he was seeing all theses associates of Mahāprabhu that were hardly able to breathe or speak due to the incredible separation that they were feeling from Mahāprabhu. Of course we have to understand that, the separation they were feeling, it’s nothing like mundane depression. It’s not that, as Mahāprabhu left they were miserable and in a mundane way that they become depressed and unhappy. No, it was a very different thing that they were feeling and it’s a very elevated spiritual emotion. The intensity of their separation was increasing their ecstasy of love. But Narottama saw that it was like they were burning in this fire, they were just missing Mahāprabhu so much. Thus he wanted to bring them all together.
Then he also saw that there are many lesser advanced devotees that were experiencing difficulty. In the absence of Mahāprabhu, a variety of different types of moods and even philosophies were cropping up. Especially because all these devotees that were in Bengal, they were completely separated from what was going on in Vṛndāvan, where you know the Gosvāmīs were writing all their books. But they didn’t really know so much about what was happening there, so there was a kind of disconnect. The devotees in Bengal primarily were meditating on Mahāprabhu and they grew up with Him and they were thinking of Him as their friend. The devotees in Vṛndāvan on the other hand, the Six Gosvāmīs have been writing all these books and explaining RādhāKṛṣṇaLīlā. There was a difference in mood in these two places but they are all the followers of Mahāprabhu.
So there was some confusion and Narottama saw that all the devotees need to come together. He needs to bring them all together and inspire them to become one unified group to glorify Mahāprabhu. He had done, so to speak, his environmental scan and now he had to make his strategy. He decided that he wanted to bring everyone out, all these devotees who had been in different parts of Bengal and around the surrounding areas. He wanted to bring all of them together for a big festival and he wanted to do that on the appearance day of ŚrīCaitanyaMahāprabhu. This is quite a number of years after Lord Caitanya had left, but this was going to be the first Gaur-Pūrṇimā festival; so this required a huge plan. It’s not like now. We just make a website and then everybody clicks into it, and we say this is where it’s going to be, this is what we are going to do, everybody come. Then you get on your plane, get on your train. It was a very difficult task to organize a Gaur-Pūrṇimā festival at that time. He had to convince first of all, all of the associates who can barely move out of intense separation from Mahāprabhu, that they should get up and go a long way for this festival.
It required a lot of effort, so Narottama got in touch with ŚrinivāsaĀcārya and ŚyāmānandaPaṇḍita, his old friends from Vṛndāvan, and he asked for their help. He said like, “I want to do this big massive festival. I want to bring everybody together, and we are just going to all come together and push forward Mahāprabhu‘s mission.” It was difficult; it was a really difficult thing to do. Even ŚrinivāsaĀcārya was dubious. He was like, “How are we going to do this?” Especially Narottama wasn’t really an organizer, but ŚrinivāsaĀcārya was. They decided to dig in and support Narottama and really try to do this Mahā–Mahotsava festival—GaurPūrṇimā festival. Now just imagine if he didn’t have that inspiration, where would we be? Just think of having no Gaur Pūrṇimā festival; it’s horrible!
By the mercy of Narottama’s inspiration, we have this festival every year. Because he saw these devotees are suffering all over the place, many of them are alone, many of them don’t have enough association; and he wanted to bring them all together. Following in the footsteps of Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākur, Śrīla Prabhupāda was very adamant about having these Guar–Pūrṇimā festivals every year, where devotees will come together, they will get inspired, and then they can go out and preach.
So for Narottama the strategy was to bring everybody together and it required a massive effort to make this happen; but everybody went for it. The inspiration spread everywhere and the devotees got very inspired, “We are all going to Kheturī!” Kheturī is the first place of this festival. Narottama and all the others had to make so many arrangements to bring the devotees into the house. The whole of Kheturī; everyone was just busy to accommodate and to make Prasāda. These descriptions of arrangements indicate it was a most incredible festival that was organized. It’s said that there were so many devotees coming that the Padmāvatī River was black with boats, you could hardly see the river. Narottama, Śrinivāsa, Śyāmānanda—all the devotees are on the bank waiting to greet all these boats as they come in. This is the first Gaur–Pūrṇimā festival. That’s why we can thank Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākur for that wonderful experience of celebrating the Gaur–Pūrṇimā festival that we have every year.
Narottama was making his own preparations and his preparations were to go very deep into his Kīrtana that he established. He knew that he had to bring these two camps of people together; there is the Vraja mood and the Bengal mood. He had to bring these devotees together so that they would become united in the mission of Mahāprabhu. You know so much could be said about that festival;—it’s so amazing in itself that we could talk for a long time, but suffice it to say it was something that had never happened before: that kind of confluence of so many wonderful devotees. There were so many preparations that were required. Like you know when you have these big festivals, what it takes to put it on, to feed everybody—so much had to be done. But the real preparation that was going on was going on in Narottama‘s heart. That he was developing his style, his mood and his emotion of the Kīrtana that would bring the presence of the Lord. The real success of the festival wasn’t that there was fantastic Prasāda, and everybody had great accommodations. The real success of that festival was that, when Narottama began to sing, it was so potent and it was so powerful that the Supreme Lord Himself and all of His associates appeared before everyone—non-devotee and devotee.
That was thereal purpose of the festival—to transport everyone to the spiritual world—and he achieved that; and that is the purpose of our Parikramās and that is the purpose of our festivals. The purpose of all these things that we do is to actually leave the material realm and enter into the spiritual realm. You don’t have to go somewhere; it is here all the time, it’s just our consciousness is not there. Lot of amazing things happened at that festival. The establishment of the CaitanyaCaritāmṛta as the biography, and the philosophy to be followed for all times, that was one thing. Of course because so many devotees were separated from one another—they didn’t have internet, they didn’t have telephone—as they were separated, so varieties of different types of philosophies had cropped up. That was the purpose; Narottama wanted to bring everyone together to clarify a lot of things, to increase the service to ŚrīCaitanyaMahāprabhu. Even though there were so many wonderful things at the festival that were inspirational, the real inspiration is that Pañca-Tattva appeared there and everyone saw Them. In Their company and in Their presence there was no need of saying anything, everyone was just in ecstasy. All differences of opinions, they just dissipated. I remember that used to happen sometimes in Śrīla Prabhupāda’s presence.
One time Prabhupāda was in New Māyāpura and he came out on a morning walk. And it was a bit of a problematic time in that Yātrā. So Prabhupāda sat down on the grass and he looked around at all the devotees and he said, “So what is the problem?” Then I was thinking, “Wow, now we can tell him, you know, so many problems”; and then I was looking around and everybody is just smiling and beaming at Prabhupāda. I was like, “Isn’t anybody going to say anything? We are having so many problems and we are so fried” [Laughter]. I was just scanning the crowd, everybody is just smiling looking at Prabhupāda, totally happy and I thought, “Well, maybe I should say something”. And then I thought, “What about this thing and that? Oh, that’s nothing, that’s not important.” Then I concluded, “Ah, there is no problem!” [Laughter].
And then, Prabhupāda said, “Yes, there is no problem; whenever we are in KṛṣṇaConsciousness: No problem!” That’s the caveat; when we are KṛṣṇaConscious. This is the thing that Narottama wanted to bring everybody together, because he saw all the differences of opinions. All those everyday problems, just like [Poof!] gone; when everyone is in the presence of Pañca-Tattva. There is Lord Caitanya, Nityānanda—all the associates, the Six-Gosvāmīs, and everybody is dancing and chanting:
So where is the problem? That’s what Prabhupāda said, “Where is the problem? No problem, just we are not Kṛṣṇa Conscious so we think we have problems”.But the potency of the Lord appearing through the pure chanting of the Holy Names is— when the Lord appears: no problem. This is just to get some understanding of the heart of Śrīla Narottam Dāsa Ṭhākur. His chanting was so pure and so imbued with love that the entire Pañca-Tattva and all Their associates appeared right in their Kīrtana. Everybody could see them; everybody—even unqualified people they were able to see, “Wow!” We can only imagine, “What a Kīrtana! What a Kīrtana!” Every year on Parikramā in Māyāpura,Jayapatākā Mahārāja always goes and says, “Maybe this year—They will come, if we have a really good Kīrtana and we will all see Them [Laughter]”, and it’s possible; it happened and it’s not a fairy tale. But it requires the purity of heart; so this is the heart of Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākur; imagine he called all the associates to be present.
I was considering, what were the elements of his consciousness?—that he was empowered and capable of doing such a remarkable thing. I mean, he was a musician, so is it the style of his Kīrtana? There are so many elements to Kīrtana; but there are many elements to the consciousness of Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākur that qualified him to such an extent to be able to call the Lord and all of His associates into everyone’s presence. Just to name some of those elements because we are all trying to learn: “How to do this right?” We are all trying to learn: “How to do Kīrtana; How to be a devotee?” There are these elements that we have to add to whatever we are doing right now.
One of the ingredients in Narottama’s Kīrtanas is his intense love of the Devotees. He showed so much love in his songs; you hear his songs and how he is talking about his friends? You know “RāmcandraSang…”— all these things we sing everyday; that’s him glorifying his friends, whom he loves. He had this mood of always intense hankering for perfection—that even though he had so much incredible experiences, which hardly anyone in history ever had. He never had the mood that, “Okay, I have arrived”. I mean if you look in some of his song books, there are whole big sections that are just about songs in which he is hankering for perfection. I mean, Lord Caitanya entered into him; so he is perfected, but he doesn’t feel perfected. That’s the nature of a devotee.
Also he had this constant mood of humility; if you read his songs, it’s 80% just this expression of humility and unworthiness. There are so many elements to his Kīrtana that made it that powerful and studying that and thinking about that is very important for all of us. They have these famous books now for Managers—“7 habits of highly successful people”. Similarly for us Narottama is showing 10, 20, 40 “Habits of highly advanced Devotees”—that we should look at, we should study. After that Kheturī festival Narottama became famous everywhere and with fame comes opposition. At another time we can talk about that opposition, but we have run out of time today.
But on this, his disappearance day we can meditate on the only person I have ever heard of in my life whose heart melted in love of God and then his entire body melted in love of God. There was no body of Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākur left existing, only a pot of milk. Such a personality, that we have any association with—simply miraculous.
By the mercy of Śrīla Prabhupāda we are receiving inconceivable blessings. We are supposed to leave the hall so we will have to end there.
JayaŚrīla Narottam Dāsa Ṭhākurki Jaya!
HG Baḍa Hari Prabhu: “ŚītalāMātājī ki Jaya”
HH Indradyumna Swami: “Once again informing you all; Prasādam is at 1 o’clock at Fogla ashram. We leave at 4.30 tomorrow morning for Govardhan. Prasādam, Lunch Prasādam will be served at RādhāKuṇḍa around 1 O’clock. Don’t forget to go on facebook and see all of AnantaVṛndāvan’s amazing videos about this Parikramā. We have just put up a video five minutes ago; it’s called ‘A Visit to Mathurā’, —very nice video. So that is on my facebook page. Please visit and see the wonderful work of AnantaVṛndāvan.
Spiritual Warrior’s Battle Strategies, Part 1 (From Life of Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākur)
– By Her Grace Śītalā Mataji
HareKṛṣṇa! It’s so nice; it feels just like a few seconds that we were all here together last time. Yesterday I was flying here on the plane and just was glancing at a newspaper, and I was seeing all the horrific things going on in the world. You know hundreds and thousands of people migrants struggling across Europe. It’s just so much that one headline after another that are the horrible situations that people in this world are experiencing. Then you look at our situation here and literally, not exaggerating, I think we must be the most fortunate people on the planet.
We are here in this most sacred of places. Śrī VṛndāvanDhām, of course is the most sacred but even more sacred are certain particular spots here, that because of the Bhajan of great, great souls, they become even more amazing spots. So apparently this is like the second most favorite spot of the six Gosvāmīs that they would come here and discuss Kṛṣṇa–Kathā together.
The environment that we are in , with just a few hundred people, we have this experience that we are just so fortunate and need to be very, very, very grateful. We have nothing possible to complain about. So for that blessing and that mercy and that fortune that we really don’t deserve, I really want to thank ŚrīlaPrabhupāda who is the personality who opened the door to Vṛndāvan to the entire world; and to thank Indradyumna Swami and his amazing crew for continuing to bring us here year after year to really experience some miracles in our lives; And thanks for Bada-Hari’s and Mādhava’s amazing Kīrtanas; that I was feeling very dull and covered by the modes as I was coming in here; but you know once you sit through a Kīrtana by Baḍa-Hari all of a sudden everything becomes light and blissful.
I was trying to think what to talk about. There are so many wonderful aspects of ŚrīlaNarottamaDāsaṬhākur that we can talk about and we do talk about every year. I find that sometimes, I wind up only talking about the early life of Narottama. Because his young life was just so fascinating, it’s so amazing, and then usually it winds up taking so much longer, and we don’t get into the middle of his life and the later part of his life.
So today I thought I want to focus specifically on NarottamaDāsaṬhākur as the innovative, creative, dynamic preacher—what he did as a preacher. Because after all that is really what we are all here for! ŚrīlaPrabhupāda created this organization, ISKCON, for the specific purpose of preaching Mahāprabhu’s message all over the world. Because each of our Ācāryas did amazing things, so it’s very relevant and very pertinent for us to look at what our Ācāryas did in this area. How did they preach? How did they knock down the walls of the material energy? How did they go about it?!
None of our Ācāryas became incredibly successful by just doing the routine casual stuff. They really had to become spiritual warriors. That’s a preacher: spiritual warrior. That means you are waging war on the misconceptions of the mass population and those misconceptions that block their vision from Kṛṣṇa. A spiritual warrior has to figure out the ways and the means that he can break down those walls so that people can glimpse the beauty of Kṛṣṇa.
Anyone who is going to attempt to do something like that, generally they will first do what you will call an environmental scan. Even in businesses, people do it. They take a look, “What’s going on? What do the people like? What do they not like? What are the challenges? How can I touch them?”
Actually anybody who is a book distributor—they know—they do that environmental scan every time they see somebody; how to touch this person? Actually someone said once to ŚrīlaPrabhupāda that, “Oh, you weren’t really doing so much in your first year or two when you arrived in the United States?”
Prabhupāda said: “What? I was doing so much”. The devotee: “Well, what you were doing?” and he (ŚrīlaPrabhupāda) said, “I was studying the American people”. Prabhupāda made his strategies on the basis of what he was seeing before him.
Every preacher has to do that, make a strategy. Every soldier, every warrior has to make a strategy for the particular social context. Like say in World War 1, the strategy was to fight in the trenches, and that kind of strategy worked pretty well. But in World War 2 when they started to do that, it was a disaster. Because then they had airplanes, so the trenches just became the graveyards. Thus to be dynamic preacher you have to know, you have to think, you have to make strategies. Every single one of our Ācāryas had to consider the environment and the social situation that was going on at their time and make their battle plan.
NarottamaDāsaṬhākur had to do this, make a strategy; and actually everyone—if you look at ŚrīlaBhakti-Vinod Ṭhākur, ŚrīlaBhakti-SiddhāntaSarasvatī all down the line, Lord Caitanya Himself; each one of them made plans for preaching. What did they emphasize? What was their battle strategy? Like ŚrīlaBhaktivinode Ṭhākur, at his time Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism had fallen to such disrepute, that he had a herculean task of trying to start preaching. One of his strategies was to pray, for a ray of Vishnu. “I’ve got something to do here that’s impossible; I need a ray of Vishnu”. That ray of Vishnu of course was ŚrīlaBhakti-SiddhāntaSarasvatīṬhākur, who came into the world into a situation that was very complex. Things were going on in the world and especially in India and especially in Bengal that had never happened before. It was a time when the values and the rational thought and the scientific thought of the westerners were pouring into India, with their missionaries and their condescending attitude towards everything Indian. The people of India, they began to question their own belief system. This ushered in what was considered to be the Bengal renaissance. It was a period when they tried to modernize Hinduism so that it wouldn’t seem so freaky to the intelligent westerners.
That gave rise to a group of what was called the bhadra-loka, or like the so-called intelligentsia, the intelligent Bengal people who really were trying to go along with the western viewpoint. They wanted to get rid of the idols, and all the Deities, because it looked bad to the westerners. There were reformists like Vivekānanda and RāmaMohanRāya who were pushing back especially Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism, anything with any Bhakti or devotion and bringing forward this Advaita philosophy. Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism was just kind of relegated to obscurity; it was just not cool.
That was the situation which ŚrīlaBhakti-SiddhāntaSarasvatīṬhākur had to face. So what was he going to do? He had to make a strategy. It was the first time that they had to interact with modernity— with the modern world. How was he going to spread KṛṣṇaConsciousness in this environment, even to the West? One of the things that is acknowledged as his key to success was his attentive awareness of the social and cultural and political environment. He really knew what was going on.
I am going to get to Narottama soon [laughter], but ŚrīlaBhakti-SiddhāntaSarasvatī is so amazing also to talk about. Because he actually knew all philosophies, he studied everything, and when he got together with his friends, he debated. Think about what we talk when we get together with our friends? So he would argue everybody’s point of view. He was a very strategic thinker, so he made a radical battle plan; he had various ideas for the intelligent class, the general mass of people, the westerners, and his own devotees.
He had all different strategies, very clear. The first thing was to mass distribute—mass produce so many books. This was not common then; now we are used to it. But it wasn’t common then; Thousands of books, thousands of magazines, and just mass distributing—that was a new thing. As you know, the way that he spoke, the way that he wrote was so erudite, that the idea was to beat the English, at their ‘own game’. They think they are so smart [laughter]. But you can hardly even follow ŚrīlaBhakti-SiddhāntaSarasvatī; he knew English better than the English. Apparently his Bengali works are not such high language; so it was a strategy.
The other thing that he emphasized was YuktaVairāgya—that was also a new thing. He rode in cars and wore clothes and used the printing press, and went overseas; all these things were radical. Even wearing a wrist-watch at that time for a Sādhu was like way out there. He had a strategy with the British that he would go to practically any lengths to treat them according to their culture and to their customs and to serve them in a way that they would have to be touched. To gain strength, another part of his strategy was to unite with the other Sampradāyas; so he published Rāmānuja, Madhvācārya; he tried to get the Vaiṣṇavas together, to fight against this modern influx.
Then for the general mass of people he did these massive theistic displays, using dolls and mechanized devices. This is all just like totally radical at that time; nobody had done anything like that before. He developed Māyāpura, started Parikramās, there was no such thing. We just assume there have always been these things, but ‘No!’, somebody started everything. We are doing this today, because ŚrīlaBhakti-SiddhāntaSarasvatī had a strategy and that was to do massive Parikramās. He was doing incredible Parikramās of Vṛndāvan and Māyāpura.
Then amongst his devotees he introduced so many strategies. He introduced Sannyāsa as we know it today. We just think, “Well, these things were always there”, — “No!” He established GBC, and even his own followers thought that was just so radical that they couldn’t keep it after he left. He initiated by quality and not by caste. We just think all of these things are normal now, but somebody before us just pushed and pushed to bring these things, so that we now have what we have. He focused his western preaching to westerners on Lord Caitanya and not on Kṛṣṇa. He subordinated Rāgānugā and encouraged SanātanaŚikṣā. You know he brought forward more not the Rāgānugā mood, but the mood of following the instructions of SanātanaGosvāmī. He created a hard institution; I mean prior to that, Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism was existing just softly. I am sorry; I am saying so much about him; I don’t know if this is the day; but I think it’s important to understand these things. These are al, the battle strategies of our Ācāryas so you could go through each one of them. I am just focusing on ŚrīlaBhakti-Siddhānta, because he is just so amazing. Each one of them had to consider, “How are we going to get the mercy out there, to the people!”He was the first to create really a hard institution and at the same time, he warned against what could be the problems of a hard institution. It’s possible that it could cramp the flow of Bhakti. Nowadays they call that the ‘routinization of charisma’; that you know, you create an institution so that you can get out to people, but it could just turn inwards and lose the spirit. He emphasizedthe importance of keeping a very-very strong preaching spirit; that is actually the purpose of the institution, so that you can spread and teach and benefit the world. It should never just become mechanical. If you study each one of our Ācāryas, they studied the environment that they were living in and the people around them and the challenges and then they made appropriate strategies. War-strategies: “How are we going to break through here?”
Even Lord Caitanya Himself adopted strategies. It was a strategy that He took Sannyāsa from a Māyāvāda or impersonalist line. Gopala BhaṭṭaGosvāmī, he had to make things acceptable for the smārtas. So the point is they were in touch with what was going on in the world and how to make KṛṣṇaConsciousness accessible to the people of their time.
Of course, ŚrīlaPrabhupāda had strategies; what he did was as a creative, innovative, amazing preacher. He was initiating what were considered Mlecchas; he was putting ladies as Pūjāris on the altars; he was introducing book distribution, introducing Ratha–Yātrā all over the world; he was opening up the Dhāma to the whole world, I mean opening the Kṛṣṇa–BalarāmaMandir.
These are all radical amazing battle strategies by great-great preachers. This is what preachers think about, “How are we going to get out to the most people?” We Neophytes think, about ‘I-me-mine’ like, “How am I going to feel better? How will I be happier?” That’s not how preachers think. The preachers are constantly thinking about, “How to touch as many hearts as is possible? How to give love to people?” Every successful preacher has made a battle strategy. You don’t win wars without a strategy; I mean you have got to figure out,”How am I going to get out there?”
Actually I am remembering the first time I went on IndradyumnaMahārāja’s festival tour in Poland. My daughter wanted to go and she was too young to go on her own, so I thought well, I will just go and take her there and then I will leave. I was going to stay a few days. I was sitting, waiting for the first bus to go out on Saṅkīrtan; and Mahārāja was showing me and he was so enthusiastic about how, “We are just starting the new tour,” and he said, “Look, I got these new flags, and we have got all these new things; we have all these balloons on a stick”. I was thinking, “My God, what is this?—a circus?” [laughter] Then I saw all the ladies were dressing all pretty and everything, and I was just sitting there and thinking, “God, I am like a dinosaur from a previous Yuga.” I thought, “I got to get out of here as soon as possible”. So then we get out there and it was the most amazing experience. I said “See, Oh my God!—this is a battle strategy, that somehow or other you bring the spiritual world out to the people; all this color, and bliss, and fun, and everybody just gets sucked right in. What a strategy!”
Thus every preacher, every devotee has to make some strategy; they have to do their environmental scan and see, “How do we go about this? How do we touch people’s hearts at this time in this place?”
ŚrīJīvaGosvāmī as also a most incredible strategically minded person is thinking “Well, how are we going to take out from Vṛndāvan now, all that we have been acquiring, all these books being written?” JīvaGosvāmī—what a strategic thinker! He thought, “So here is this student, NarottamaDāsa and he is the son of this wealthy Zamindar who is a very powerful person; so we should send him out preaching”. This was a big shock to NarottamaDāsa.
You imagine—he, living in Vṛndāvan as a perfected devotee; it’s quite different from living here as a neophyte devotee. The first thing of becoming a preacher is that you have to be ready for sacrifice and austerity. Here is NarottamDāsaṬhākur, who has been living in Vṛndāvan as a perfected devotee and associating with the greatest persons existing on this planet at that time; I mean he was actually living in Vṛndāvan. Most of us are here little bit on the covering, but NarottamaDāsaṬhākur, ŚrīnivasĀcārya, Rāmcandra as best friends, studying under ŚrīJīvaGosvāmī—they were in ecstasy here in Vṛndāvan. They were really seeing Vṛndāvan. When Narottama and Śrīnivas are doing GovardhanParikramā, they heard Kṛṣṇa‘s flute. That’s a real GovardhanParikramā. Try it tomorrow—right? [laughter]. They heard the sound of Kṛṣṇa’s flute, Kṛṣṇa appeared to them when they were doing Parikramā. This is how Narottama was living in Vṛndāvan. He wanted to continue with that life in Vṛndāvan forever. It was quite a shock to him when it was announced that he was going to Bengal.
Narottama had to go along with this battle strategy that he had to leave all of these beloved devotees: RaghunāthaDāsaGosvāmī, ŚrīJīvaGosvāmī, his beloved Spiritual Master—LokanāthaGosvāmī. He had to say, “Good-bye.” He took his last Parikramā around Vṛndāvan and saying good-bye to all the residents of Vṛndāvan. That is really some incredible Parikramā for a realized soul.
Narottama with great heart, I mean it was a very-very heavy heart, but at the same time with very great excitement; because he was about to fulfill the mission of the Lord. Narottama took this journey which was actually a very difficult journey to take all these books that have been stock-piled for years and years in Vṛndāvan—all the writings of RūpaGosvāmī, SanātanaGosvāmī, JīvaGosvāmī. It was so amazing, like a treasure chest of gold he was taking to the other side of the country. You can only imagine the scene—that when, I think it was in front of GovindajīMandir where they packed all these books. Everybody in Vṛndāvan came to watch this amazing scene; all those years that these great, great, great devotees had been compiling all these works. When you think of all the Bengali devotees they didn’t know about any of this. They didn’t know, they didn’t have these works and JāhnavāMātā was writing from that side of Bengal to ŚrīJīvaGosvāmī, “Please send them!“, because it was a very difficult situation over there in Bengal. All those devotees were just remembering “Mahāprabhu, Mahāprabhu”—they were just remembering His presence there. But they didn’t have these books that had been compiled and were empowered by Mahāprabhu, who gave the instructions to Sanātana and Rūpa. He gave all the seeds from which they were to unpack into all these books. All these devotees in Bengal they didn’t have any of it.
This was ŚrīlaJīvaGosvāmī’s incredible strategy that “Okay—book distribution is going to happen now”. All these amazing, jewel-like manuscripts are carried like priceless gemstones, put into the boxes to seal them and to send them out.
What a journey and what a mission that Narottama, Śrīnivas and Śyāmānanda had! What a mission!, to take all the realizations, all the jewel-like, most valuable realizations of all the Gosvāmīs and take them across the country. That journey and all that happened there, I won’t go into that detail, but it was an arduous journey and many traumatic things happened along the way. But eventually Narottama did arrive in Kheturī which was the area given to him by ŚrīJīvaGosvāmī as his Prabhu-datta desh. “You are the wealthy son of a very influential Zamindar and so people are going to listen to you. You are going to have some influence in this area!” It was somewhat radical, because Narottama as a renunciate to go back to his home-town, that was difficult. He was going to have to meet all those old friends and relatives, who all thought of him as RajakumarNarottama and they all loved him. There are two different versions; some say that his mother and father were still there when he returned, some say that they were not. But in any case, many relatives and many people who knew him and loved him as a little boy were there.
That was going to be his first challenge that he had to re-enter this place where everyone saw him differently. They really loved little Naru. He was like the talk of the town. He was the only son, and so everyone, “Little Naru, he’s coming back”. Everyone came rushing out, “Narottama, Narottama is here”. Everyone was so excited.
But when they got in front of him—of course, they want to run and embrace him—but when they see him: “Whoa, this is not our little Naru. This is some great Vairagi”. There is Narottama with his thin body and as a Sādhu with his little water pot. So everyone just froze. All the village people are rushing, everyone is running from everywhere, “Narottama is here, Narottama!” They are all rushing out to greet him and then they all just freeze, “Oh my God, what is he now? Where is Naru?”
Narottama had to deal with the situation. As a preacher, he had to know how to not discourage them but at the same time they have to get the point that he is not their little Naru anymore. Because first thing that happens is his cousin-Santosh, who has taken over the kingdom that Narottama is actually supposed to be running. He said, “Oh Narottama, I was just taking care of it until you came back; take it.” Narottama as a preacher he had to make it very clear, “No one even talk about politics, or position, or anything. I am now something else. Anyone who talks about those things, or expects me to behave in those ordinary ways, I will be gone”. So everyone was just frozen that they just don’t want him to leave again. They love him so, “We will just do whatever you want, Naru”. He made it very clear, “No, I will not go into my former home. Now I will be very happy to just stay out here in the Chandi-Mandap somewhere near the temple.” Then he began his strategy for preaching and he saw most of the people at that time are fairly pious but not very intellectual, not really comprehending deeply about spiritual subject matters. So Narottama’s battle strategy was what?—It was, “I am going to write songs; songs that anybody can understand.” Because now we just take it for granted, we sing all these philosophical songs and we just think they were always there forever; well, they were not. The brahmanical class actually had a very powerful control over spiritual knowledge. They were in control of giving it out and doing Saṁskāras for people; they had a system.
This idea of writing songs with very-very deep subject matter, that will be sung in the way that people sing their village songs— this is a battle strategy. So Narottama began his work. He made a strategy but at the same time, he was feeling that he was not fully empowered yet, and so he had this very strong desire. He had never actually been to Navadvīpa, he had never been in all the sacred places on that side of the country. He felt that, in order to do the preaching that he was meant to do, he needed the empowerment to do it and that he needed to go and get the mercy of the Dhām and the mercy of the devotees, in order to really launch his mission. This is a common strategy that you will find most of our Ācāryas planned; they also did this at some point in their life, like ŚrīlaBhakti-SiddhāntaSarasvatī did this. ŚrīlaBhakti-SiddhāntaSarasvatī felt that what he had to do was so complex and such difficult work that he really needed special empowerment. So he went to the Dhām. He went to MāyāpuraDhām to do a Vrata, and that Vrata was done with the purpose of understanding, “How to spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness?”
ŚrīlaBhakti-SiddhāntaSarasvatī actually took a vow to chant a billion names and he went into seclusion to do this. He stayed in a hut and slept only on the floor. He used no footwear or chadar. He ate only rice once a day, and not that he was only doing that; he also did some preaching activities during this Vrata. But you imagine: this took nine years. I mean that is very serious preaching preparation. Even he did that again another time, after the departure of ŚrīlaBhaktivinode Ṭhākur and his spiritual master—ŚrīlaGaurKishorDāsaBābāji. At that time he also went into another state of intensive Bhajan to get empowerment to preach. It’s not an easy task in this world. Probably there is nothing more difficult than to push back the material energy and bring in the spiritual energy. It requires empowerment; you can’t just decide to do it. You do these things not because the austerities bring you something, it’s because you get the blessings of the previous Ācāryas.
At the end of his (ŚrīlaBhakti-SiddhāntaSarasvatī) intensive Bhajan for quite a long period of time, in preparing to actually manifest his mission, he finally got a most extraordinary confirmation and empowerment from all the previous Ācāryas. He had a vision and in that vision he saw the Pañca–Tattva, he saw the Six Gosvāmīs, he saw his own spiritual master, he saw his father. In other words, everybody came and he saw them and then he heard from them, “Begin the task of spreading ŚuddhaBhakti. You will get unlimited support. The support of people, opulence, scholarship—it’s all waiting to serve your mission and everything will manifest when it’s required. With full strength, you push forward. Distribute Prema–Dharma to the whole globe. There will be no hindrance because we will forever be with you”. So how about that realization and blessing he got for results of his Vrata? Amazing!
This is the mood of the preacher, that he comes to the Dhām for this purpose, to pray and to get empowerment. We don’t come to have a good time and to just socialize, meet new people. The devotees really come for empowerment and for realization.ŚrīlaPrabhupāda also went to the Dhām before he got on the boat. He went to Śāntipura and he begged the mercy of Advaita–Ācārya there at the house of Advaita–Ācārya. Of course he spent years in front of the Samādhi of RūpaGosvāmī to get the empowerment to do what he did. We also see, of course IndradyumnaMahārāja is such a great example. When we go on our Parikramās, sometimes he shares that, this is what he is praying for when he goes to SanātanaGosvāmī’s Samādhi and in front of Govindajī—he said, “I am praying for the empowerment to go out and spread KṛṣṇaConsciousness. I am not just coming here to have fun. Yes, KṛṣṇaConsciousness is fun, but really there is a big task, there is a big war that we are meant to be fighting.”
So Narottama was feeling this way, he was feeling, “I need the mercy of the Dhām and I need the mercy of all these personalities in order to really become a preacher.” So Narottama went to Navadvīpa, where he had never been before. He began his pilgrimage in Māyāpura. For him it’s said,—every day, every moment his heart was pounding, because he was in such a state of separation and union simultaneously. He is meeting all the devotees that are left, that were there who were with Mahāprabhu. He is in the places where Mahāprabhu lived and played and yet he is seeing and he is not seeing, so he is torn constantly. Sometimes he is in a mood; he is just crying “How was I born late? How did I miss this? How come I wasn’t there?” Maybe some of you feel that sometimes when you think, “Why wasn’t I there when Prabhupāda came, just a few years back?” But this mood of, “Why did I miss? Where are you? I want to see you”; that brings one into the presence of that person whom you are missing. So there is union and separation going on. Like some of you probably sometimes think, “Oh, I wish I would have been there when Prabhupāda was there”, and to the degree that you have that feeling of separation, that desire, then somehow or another Prabhupāda becomes present. It’s not like a few people only know Prabhupāda. Prabhupāda is interacting with everyone.
This was Narottama‘s experience that sometimes he would just be burning and burning in this mood, “How did I miss this? Why wasn’t I here?” He is in all the places; he is in the house of Lord Caitanya, but Lord Caitanya is not there. But with that mood suddenly the Lord would appear, and he would be in union. For the devotees who were dying in separation from Mahāprabhu and were seeing Narottama, then suddenly they felt union again, because he just reminded them so much of Mahāprabhu. In this spirit, Narottama traveled from Māyāpura and Shantipur and Ambika Kalna, Kardaha and he met Jāhnavā Mata and he met all these devotees who had met Lord Caitanya. Then eventually Narottama makes his way to Jagannātha–Purī and there in the house of GopīnāthaĀcārya, one evening he has a revelation; it’s not a dream exactly, it’s a revelation. I am going to read, it’s from Bhakti–Ratnakar about what Narottama experienced in that revelation. So suddenly Narottama finds himself standing on the grand road where the Ratha–Yātrā comes down and he sees the Ratha–Yātrā cart coming towards him as he is standing on the side of the road. Then he sees CaitanyaMahāprabhu and all His associates are dancing in front of that Ratha–Yātrā cart coming towards him; so Narottama stood transfixed, just trying to take in every aspect of this extraordinary scene.
He watched Lord Caitanya dancing in such a spirit of love and all the devotees were simply gazing upon Him, dancing in utter joy. Huge crowd of pilgrims pushed forward just to get a glance of this beautiful dancing. The demigods were showering flowers and other demigods were disguised as humans joined into the ecstatic festival of the Holy Name. Even lame and blind and deaf, they all forgot their handicaps; they forgot, “I am not supposed to be able to walk, but I am walking”. They all hurried to join the Kīrtana. Even the stone-hearted people, they started just weeping in joy. They are hearing this melodious chanting of the Lord’s Holy Names and everyone was just dancing in ecstasy. Even the animals and the birds were all stunned watching and Narottama was just standing at the side of the road watching this scene. He is just silently weeping in joy.
Then Lord Caitanya left the Kīrtana and He came right to where he was standing and he took hold of Narottama’s hand and embraced him. HareKṛṣṇa! He said, “Narottama, you should go back to Kheturī. It is my desire, you establish a new type of Saṅkīrtan. Through your Kīrtana, you will reveal My teachings and My mission and My pastimes to the world. I will empower your Kīrtana to mesmerize the hearts of all who hear it. Those fortunate to take shelter of you will receive the most precious wealth of love of God. Now go back to Bengal, establish the Saṅkīrtan of the Holy Name. Go deliver souls, Narottama, and bring them into the Sampradāya of love of God and know that I will always be with you and will protect you”. Narottama fell at Lord Caitanya’s feet, bathing them with his tears. Then each of all the devotees that were there all came and embraced Narottama and they encouraged him to fulfill his mission. That was the real result of Parikramā. This is the real thing—real devotees—that’s what happens to them.
Then Narottama continued on Parikramā; he went to Katwa and Śrīkhanda and then he went to Ekachakra, on his way back to Kheturī, he went to these other places. Then again in Ekachakra he had some extraordinary experience. He met an old very elderly brāhmaṇa who wanted to take him around and show him the holy places. That is a whole story in itself, so I won’t get into that, but eventually what Narottama found was that the old brāhmaṇa was ŚrīNityānandaPrabhu Himself. This was the result of Narottama’s pilgrimage. We are all here on pilgrimage; I don’t know what we will take back with us. This is what Narottama took back with him. Of course during that time he had been everywhere; he had met everybody; he had taken the pulse of what was going on. He had done an environmental scan, and he got the blessings to do what he needed to do. So you might do the environmental scan, but without the blessings you don’t have the Śakti.Narottama was really ready now to launch his mission.
I am wondering if we should stop there. Yeah, we should stop there. Haribol [clapping]
HH Indradyumna Swami: “Sadbhih! So we are not actually going to stop; we are just going to take a break. You can take a little Prasādam now. It’s okay, it’s Narottama’s disappearance day. So on these days you can take some Prasāda. So you have your breakfast now—25 minutes for breakfast—till 10 o’clock and then from 10 to 11, Mādhava is going to lead Kīrtana and then from 11 to 12, Śītalā will finish her discourse, if you would like?”
Today is the disappearance day of ŚrīlaNarottama Dāsa Ṭhākur. We are blessed as Baḍa–HariPrabhu is with us. We will be singing one of Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākur’s songs to open the program: “Ye anilo Prema-dhana”, which we sing on the departure day of great Vaiṣṇavas. MādhavaPrabhu will be leading Kīrtana later on in the morning.
Of course as I was telling you, Ṭhākurāṇī is here—ŚītalāDevīDāsī—my dear Godsister. She will be speaking extensively on the pastimes, the teachings of ŚrīlaNarottama Dāsa Ṭhākur. She has just joined our Parikramā from Māyāpura. You please give her a big round of applause—Mother Śītalā [Applause, Haribol!]. [Sound of monkeys jumping on rooftop]. They are also applauding in their way [Laughter]. She will be with us much of our Parikramā and she will be speaking on different Vaiṣṇava personalities at different times. We are very blessed to be here in ŚrīVṛndāvan Dhām. It’s a very auspicious day.
Just next to the Pushpa Samādhi of Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākur is the full Samādhi of his GuruMahārāja, LokanāthaGosvāmī.
We are very blessed that from Moscow, Russia comes Bhakti–AnantaKṛṣṇaMahārāja to join us with his group today. Please give Mahārāja a big round of applause. [Applause, Haribol!].
I am sure that ŚrīlaNarottama Dāsa Ṭhākur is very pleased with Mahārāja. The preaching he does is his Mahā,Mahā, Mahā, Mahā-Mahotsava—the festivals throughout the country of Russia. We are very much honored, Mahārāja, that you have joined us today.
Bhakti- Ananta Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja ki –Jaya.
All Glories to Śrīla Prabhupāda.
We would like to ask the devotees to move forward, because we have many more devotees coming, so just take about two minutes, kind of stand up, and move as far forward as you can to give room for the other devotees.
Spending Extra Time – Absorbed in Devotional Service
– By His Holiness Śrīla IndradyumnaSwami
It is getting a little warm out here now and we don’t want to get over-heated. The sun can be quite strong here, so we are going to conclude our Parikramā. Actually in the SamādhiMandir, there’s some construction going on there and not many devotees can fit in that area at the moment. So if you have a strong desire to take Darśana of SanātanaGosvāmī just go down the steps in front of the temple, then you turn right and turn right again. It is just on the side of here, you can go individually and take your Darśana.
We would like to thank MādhavaPrabhu for beginning our program today with such a beautiful Bhajan. We would like to thank CaturātmāPrabhu for giving us such an enlightened and scholarly discourse on the glories of SanātanaGosvāmī and Madana-Mohan. We would like to thank ŚrīlaPrabhupāda for inviting us to ŚrīVṛndāvanDhām. We will conclude our Parikramā here for the day.
Remember that tomorrow morning we are meeting outside Kṛṣṇa–BalarāmaMandir around 6 o’clock to start getting you off on the rickshaws down to Rādhā–Gokulānanda temple. Those of you who don’t show up in time, just take a rickshaw to Rādhā-Raman, and Gokulānanda is just down the street. Please spend the rest of your day in a very Kṛṣṇa conscious way. Spend extra time chanting japa. It is one of the best things to do here in Vṛndāvan. Just find a sanctified place, a clean place, a holy place and just chant extra rounds. Take the time to take a favorite scripture and just sit under one kalpa-vṛkṣa tree and absorb the deep philosophy of Kṛṣṇaconsciousness. If you can’t keep so still, you have to be a little busy, then go to the temple of some of your favorite Deities and just sit down in Their divine presence and beg for Their mercy. Prabhupāda said, “If you have got time, chant HareKṛṣṇa”; so we have lots of time here in ŚrīVṛndāvanDhām for these essential spiritual activities. Thank you all very much for coming today. I hope that this experience has deepened your appreciation for Vṛndāvan, for SanātanaGosvāmī, Śrīla Prabhupāda and for Śrī-Śrī Rādhā–Madana-Mohan.
I will take your leave now. I’m going to go back and walk up the Parikramā Mārga back to my house. I would like to leave you with a very nice invitation. I have a very dear God-brother; his name is BhaktiBringaGovindaSwamiMahārāja. He is one of my ŚikṣāGurus; he’s the one who gave me this infection for Vṛndāvan. BhaktiCaitanyaSwami said, “BhaktiBringaGovindaMahārāja, when he cooks, it is like gold; when GovindaMahārāja speaks, it is like gold; and when BhaktiBringaGovinda Mahārāja sings, it is like platinum.”
BhaktiBringaGovindaSwamiMahārāja ki Jaya!
Mahārāja has a house; just one house down from my little house, right next to where you registered when you first came to Vṛndāvan. Every night from now on, well at least for another week, Mahārāja has his Kīrtanas, these Bhajans at his house and he wanted me to invite all of you to come this evening at 7:30. How’s that for an invitation? So that means you can offer your lamp to Gaur-Nitāī, Kṛṣṇa–Balarāma, and Rādhā-Śyāmasundara. Then you can walk over and come down past Balarām Bābā’s place on the way to my house and just on the left is Govinda Mahārāja’s house. We can all sit and there are different Kīrtaniyās who are singing, but hopefully GovindaMahārāja will sing tonight and we can enjoy a nice Kīrtana. Every night you are invited to come for this Bhajan at his house.
He can fit about 300 people in his patio. Now, our Parikramā is of 300 people, so you just do the mathematics. There are lot of devotees who come for Mahārāja’s Bhajans. We have a saying in English: “First come, first served.” You know when Prasādam is being served, some smart devotees, they run to the front of the line and they get the nice hot sumptuous Prasāda; so I would recommend if you would like to come to the Bhajan, you try to come early to get a space because it gets pretty crowded. I am going to go see Mahārāja right now so I can report to him how many of you are coming, so raise your hand if you are coming. “Woahh!” It’s going to be a tsunami of our Kīrtana party. Okay, that is 7:30 pm at Mahārāja’s house and 7 o’clock tomorrow morning at Rādhā–Gokulānanda.
I should actually feel a bit intimidated; this is after all Vṛndāvan. Vṛndāvan is the place for those who are qualified to speak about the pastimes of the Lord and that is certainly not myself but being requested by Indradyumna Swami —Śrīla Gurudeva, and actually on the order of Śrīla Prabhupāda I am going to speak. Many times Śrīla Prabhupāda would ask the devotees right in front of him, “You, give the class!” I never had that experience but I can imagine how intimidating that must be. But particularly this place is very confronting to me, because in 1977 when I came to Vṛndāvan on my own just to experience Vṛndāvan and to develop my relationship with Vṛndāvan, this is a place I came regularly and a place that I felt very connected with what I was learning about KṛṣṇaConsciousness.
For SanātanaGosvāmī, this was his place and because this is raised up above, because it’s a hill, it’s a little bit separated from everything going on below it. Also the fact that Yamunā River used to be just right below would have made it so much more beautiful during SanātanaGosvāmī’s time. It is our responsibility, our duty to appreciate and glorify SanātanaGosvāmī, but the other Gosvāmīs also appreciated and glorified SanātanaGosvāmī. I would like to start off with a very nice prayer from RaghunāthaDāsaGosvāmī, whom we know was very, very exact in his renunciation, and he says this:
[RaghunāthaDāsaGosvāmī]: “I was unwilling to drink the nectar of devotional service possessed of renunciation but Sanātana Gosvāmī out of his causeless mercy made me drink it, even though I was unable to do so. Therefore he is an ocean of mercy. He is very compassionate to the fallen souls like me and thus it is my duty to offer my respectful obeisances unto his lotus feet and to take shelter of him.”
I mean, how could we have written such apoem glorifying SanātanaGosvāmī? This poem actually describes us, we are so fallen; yet SanātanaGosvāmī is giving us the process of devotional service.
KaviKarnapura gives a further indication, a little insight into the identity of SanātanaGosvāmī. He says in his ‘GauraGonadeshaDeepika’: “Rūpa Manjari’s closest friend who is known by the name Rati manjari appeared in the pastimes of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu as Sanātana Gosvāmī. He is considered to be a personal expansion of the body of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.” We know that when the Lord comes, whether it’s Kṛṣṇa Līlā or GauraLīlā, He brings all of His associates with Him and they all take different roles. And through the association and engagement with these devotees He spreads the teachings of Kṛṣṇa Consciousness. It is said that the writings of SanātanaGosvāmī are paralleled only by those of Rūpa and RaghunāthaDāsaGosvāmī.
Now JīvaGosvāmī has given a very detailed explanation of the ancestral history of SanātanaGosvāmī and he traces the family line back into the late 1300s. We won’t go into all that detail especially since I have 39 pages reduced down to 25 pages; but we can suffice it to say that SanātanaGosvāmī was very expert in leadership in the field of politics tempered with a deep expertise of all the Shastras. SanātanaGosvāmī was not the first in his family line to be entangled in the leadership of the Muslim government. It was actually his grandfather that moved the family to Jaisore which we now know as Bangladesh and that’s when the involvement began. SanātanaGosvāmī came from a big family. His father’s name was Kumar Dev and he had many sons and several daughters, and the three prominent ones were Rūpa, Sanātana and Anupama. As Gurudeva mentioned, Sanātana was the older of the two by about 5-6 years. They were all educated in all of the sciences of every field of knowledge. Of course these three were also the oldest of all the brothers so whatever they did the other brothers would follow and in this way it was a very educated and knowledgeable family. Of course we refer to them as Rūpa and Sanātana, but their birth names were Amara and Santosha. We will see later how they get these names Rūpa and Sanātana.
The Muslim leader of Bengal at that time, Husain Shah, he had heard about these two pious men, Amara and Santosha, and how highly qualified they were. So he wanted to engage them in the activities within his government and at first they declined, “Not so much interested. Thank you very much!” But as we might say he made them an offer they couldn’t refuse: “You either serve in my government or I will make life for the Vaiṣṇavas very, very difficult.” At that time because they were serving in the Muslim government they accepted Muslim names and titles according to the service they were taking up. Sanātana, who was Santosha, was known as Sakar Malik and he was the private secretary to the Shah and then Rūpa became known as Dabir Khas and he was in charge of the treasury and the revenue. They even engaged ŚrīVallabha– Anupama and he was the Superintendent of the Royal Mint (a treasure). The Shah was very appreciative of the service they were rendering and he rewarded them, paid them very, very satisfactorily.
Now according to strict Vaiṣṇava tradition and Hindu tradition, if a person associates with Muslims they become contaminated by their association. So SanātanaGosvāmī, RūpaGosvāmī, they felt themselves very fallen due to this daily association they have. Of course, this is only due to their great humility as true Vaiṣṇavas. Sanātana’s father was a little bit of a fanatic. If he even saw a Muslim he would go and perform some type of atonement for that and here his eldest sons were serving in the Muslim government mixing with them every day. It’s described that Sanātana, Rūpa and Anupama had fallen into an ocean of humility, considering themselves to be the most fallen. In the Bhakti–Ratnākara it describes that this example of Rūpa and Sanātana was the tool that Lord Caitanya used to teach humility.
While serving in the government they made their headquarters in the town of Rāmakeli. And it was a good choice because Rāmakeli was the home of many famous devotees at that time also. They became very much respected and while they were there, Brahmins from everywhere, even far South India, would come to stay, and study with them, and converse with them. Even though they had this mixing with the government service they would do, they were considered to be the crest jewels of Vaiṣṇava scholars. Of course this is appropriate, because their teacher was the brother of Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya. This is when they were boys before they got this government post. Vidyā–Vācaspati, he was the brother of SārvabhaumaBhaṭṭācārya, and he is the one that taught them all the philosophy and Śāstra and everything else they understood. Even after they were adults and established themselves in Rāmakeli he would come and visit them and then continue with his teachings and they would have discourses.
We see that even from an early age they were very much absorbed in the mood of Bhakti, what to speak of during their government service time? They remembered Vṛndāvan in their residential area. They had planted a forest of Tamal trees and forest of Kadamba trees and of course many, many forests of Tulasi. And the ponds that they had there, they named Rādhā-Kuṇḍa and Śyāma–Kuṇḍa respectively, and they were quite well known for this activity. When there are some devotees in different places, doing some wonderful services/great activities, then (even before Interpol, internet and facebook, all these things,) a devotee’s word (glories) would travel around, so Mahāprabhu came to hear about all this. Of course they also heard of the activities of Mahāprabhu for sure and they desired very much to leave their services and go and spend time with Him, but an inner voice spoke to them, “You must be patient. Soon you will have Darśana of that Personality who is the savior of the fallen.”
When Sanātana was a young boy he had a very unusual dream. In this dream he saw a Brāhmaṇa approaching him and this Brāhmaṇa gave him a copy of the ŚrīmadBhāgavatam. Upon receiving that copy of the ŚrīmadBhāgavatam from the Brāhmaṇa, his hairs stood on end and tears came to his eyes, and this caused his dream to break and he woke up and he looked around and saw there is no Brāhmaṇa, there was no Bhāgavatam. The next morning he rose as regularly and bathed and was sitting and doing his morning prayers and a Brāhmaṇa came at a distance and came before him and presented ŚrīmadBhāgavatam and said to him, “Take this Bhāgavatam, always study it and all perfection will be yours.” And the Brāhmaṇa went away, pretty amazing. When he received this treasure of Bhāgavatam, Sanātana’s satisfaction and ecstasy and devotional pleasure just knew no bounds.
From that day forward his only book of study was the Bhāgavatam. He did this because he understood that the Bhāgavatam is the essence of all scriptures and he didn’t need to study anything else. He even wrote one very nice verse, which is a nice verse for devotees to give classes particularly from Bhāgavatam to memorize and recite before they speak. “Oh holy Bhāgavata, you are my only company, my only friend and my Guru. You are my greatest treasure, my personal savior and the emblem of my highest fortune. You are the very form of ecstasy. I offer my obeisances unto you.” Nice prayers! SanātanaGosvāmī is described by Śrīla Bhakti Siddhānta Sarasvatī as ‘Bhakti Siddhānta Ācārya’—the most important teacher of the devotional doctrine.
After Mahāprabhu took His Sannyāsa He went to Purī and He did His tour of south India, then He returned to Purī again and decided to go and visit Vṛndāvan,by following the Ganges as it went through Bengal. Now whenever Śrīla Gurudeva tries to go anywhere, big crowds go around him; devotees all want to be there. Can you imagine the thousands of people that surrounded Mahāprabhu as He tried to go on pilgrimage? Everywhere He went, there was just chaos. In this way, He made His approach to the village of Rāmakeli. Now Rāmakeli is sometimes called Gupta–Vṛndāvan. Anybody knows what this word ’Gupta’ means? It means “hidden.” There is a list of five or six important things to be seen in Rāmakeli:
The Tamal and Kadamba tree under which Mahāprabhu is said to have sat with Rūpa and Sanātana respectively.
The temple of Madana-Mohan that they established there.
The different bathing Ghats of Śyāma–Kuṇḍa, Rādhā-Kuṇḍa, Surabhī–Kuṇḍa, and Lalitā–Kuṇḍa.
A very large lake that RūpaGosvāmī personally excavated called RūpaSāgara and then of course another one called SanātanaSāgara.
When the Shah saw all of these crowds of people coming, he thought maybe there was some kind of revolt or uprising or something. Keśava–Khatri knew what was going on and he assured the king, “No, no, no need to worry!” He explained a bit about the character of Mahāprabhu, so that the king could understand that this is no political difficulty. Then His minister, Dabir Khas, also assured him of the wonderful qualities of Mahāprabhu and that there was no need to fear; but they sent a message to Mahāprabhu warning him that, “This king can’t be trusted and you should be a little cautious coming here with such a big crowd.” They more or less minimized Mahāprabhu’s importance as the Yuga Avatar to the king. But the king was very intelligent. He said, “I have been beginning to think that this person must be the Supreme Godhead Himself.” After this conversation and hearing the king think like that, Dabir Khas went back to his own residence. He and his brother decided that they would go incognito to visit Mahāprabhu. Of course first they met Nityānanda and Haridāsa, and then Nityānanda and Haridāsa took them in and introduced them to Mahāprabhu.
Caitanya Caritāmṛta gives some nice verses about this exchange. Rūpa and Sanātana said the following, “We two are millions of times more degraded, fallen and sinful than Jagāi and Mādhāi. We are of a more wicked birth because we are taking up activities that appear just like those of the Muslims. We constantly associate with people who are inimical to the cows and the Brāhmaṇas and because of this we are bound by the neck and thrown into a ditch filled with evil substances.” When Mahāprabhu heard this, he said “No, no, no! You two are my eternal servants. You should be known as Rūpa and Sanātana and I have come here to Bengal just to see the two of you. Know for sure that soon Kṛṣṇa will deliver you from your predicament.” Bhakti Siddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākur explains that this was the initiation of Rūpa and Sanātana as followers of Lord Caitanya. Suppose it’s your initiation ceremony and you want all your best friends there. Now listen to the list of those who were there when Rūpa and Sanātana received their names. Nityānanda Prabhu, Haridāsa Ṭhākur, Śrīvasa Paṇḍita, Gadādhara Paṇḍita, Mukund Dutta, Jagadānanda Paṇḍita, Murāri Gupta, Vakreśvara Paṇḍita and so many other Vaiṣṇavas who were travelling with Lord Caitanya.
The Lord gave all of His blessings to Rūpa and Sanātana and then Sanātana gave a bit of an advice to Mahāprabhu. Kind of a little unusual on your initiation, you say to Guru “Oh, I have one bit of advice for you.” But it was advice for His well-being. He said that, “Your business here is now finished, it would be better if you would leave now. Even though the Shah says he has faith in You, he is a ruler and a king and he cannot be trusted. Also for You to continue on pilgrimage to Vṛndāvan with such a large group of people is not in Your best interest. This is not the appropriate way to go to Vṛndāvan.”
Mahāprabhu was impressed by the wisdom and intelligence of SanātanaGosvāmī and He returned back to Purī. Now after this time, Rūpa and Sanātana, it became almost impossible for them to continue on with their mundane mind-numbing service to the Shah. They had become Sādhakas of the first order and it just became so difficult to continue with anything other than that. Rūpa finally arranged to resign from his post in the government and he deposited 10,000 gold coins with one grocer, like a banker, to hold. He then took all the rest of the accumulated wealth [made] by him and he divided it up against the Brāhmaṇas, the Vaiṣṇavas and his family members. Then he sent two of his servants to go to Purī and find out where Mahāprabhu was, because he knew that Mahāprabhu was getting ready to travel to Vṛndāvan and he wanted to join up with him.
Now that was Rūpa, I mean he was the minister of the treasury, so a little easier for him to get away; but Sanātana was the personal secretary and private minister to the Shah himself, and the Shah treated him just like he was a brother and gave him all kinds of facilities and kept him very comfortably settled. Sanātana thought that, “This kind of affection from him is really a great source of problems for me. If I could get him angry at me, it would be easier for me to get out of service to him.” One day he sent a servant to the Shah and said, “Oh, I am sick, I can’t come to work!” Have any of you ever, maybe called in, “I am sick” when maybe you weren’t really sick? There may be one or two; none of you? [Laughter] I have done that; I wanted to go to Janmāṣṭamī, so I informed the office, “Oha, Oha [Coughing] I can’t make it in today! Oha, Oha.” So in this way Sanātana stayed home from work, from taking care of business with the Shah. For one day, two days, three days, and it’s a week he didn’t go in. So the Shah became very much concerned, “What’s going on with Sanātana? He is my main right-hand man. He is ill or unhealthy, something must be the problem.”
Sanātana in the meantime was sitting at home and just endlessly studying the Bhāgavatam. The Shah thought, “Now he is like my brother, so I should send the doctor to see how he is doing.” The doctor went to check on Sanātana and what did he find? He found Sanātana in perfect health, sitting and reading the Bhāgavatam with all his associates, having Kathā. “Oh! You are not sick?” “No, no, not really!” The doctor went back and told the Shah, “He is not sick; he is just studying the Bhāgavatam.” The Shah became a little surprised as to why Sanātana would lie to him. He went to see Sanātana personally and he spoke very sweetly to Sanātana, “You have to come back and taken up your ministerial duties. I need your assistance. I cannot run the kingdom without you. All of my affairs depend upon you and you are just sitting in the house with the Paṇḍitas and reading Bhāgavatam. If you do not come back, my kingdom will fall apart. You must return to your service.” Sanātana looked at him, folded his hands and said, “I will no longer be able to assist you in your governmental affairs. You will have to find somebody else; I quit.”
The Shah got so angry. He stood up and screamed at Sanātana, “First your brother left and now you are quitting. You are ruining all of my plans.” Sanātana very calmly said, “You are the independent ruler of Gauda; you can do whatever you want. You can see any mistake, and mistreat as you feel fit.” The Shah then threatened and said, “I need you because I am going to invade Orissa and take over that kingdom. If you do not assist me at this particular time I will put you in prison.” Sanātana said, “Your business is to give pain to the Deities and difficulty to Lord Jagannātha. I will not help you in this matter.” Thus he was then sent to the prison. Actually the building that he was imprisoned in is still there. In my collection of memorabilia I have one piece of that wall, from the prison cell of SanātanaGosvāmī. That alone is enough reason for you to come to Alachua to get the Darśana of that piece of wall.
In the meantime, Rūpa got the understanding that Mahāprabhu had gone and He was in the Jārikhaṇḍa forest on His way to Vṛndāvan. He and his younger brother Anupama decided to go and try to catch up with Mahāprabhu. But he decided first that he should send a letter to Sanātana. It was a specially composed Sanskrit verse. This is that verse: “Where has the Mathurā of the Lord of the Yadu’s gone? Where is the Kingdom of Koshala of the Lord of the Raghus? Contemplate these points and make your mind steady. This world will not last forever.” When Sanātana got this, he was able to understand the secret meaning of this verse sent to him by Rūpa, and what was the secret meaning? The secret meaning was indicating that Mahāprabhu had gone to Mathurā.
This was the conviction that Sanātana needed; he began to plan his escape from prison. Because he was very much aware of all of the activities of the kingdom, he knew the jail-keeper. He tried to convince him to let him go: “I want to make a pilgrimage to the holy land and if you give me this freedom, then Allah will be very pleased with you. The Quran says that if you free someone who has been unjustly imprisoned, you will get great benefit.” “Yah!” the jail keeper was a little bit interested, but after all, he feared for his life. So Sanātana said, “Okay, 5000 gold coins?” The jail keeper said, “I will get back to you on that.” The next day, he still hadn’t given any response, so Sanātana said, “Six thousand gold coins! Let me go.” The jail-keeper said, “I will get back to you on that.” The next day Sanātana arranged for the grocer to bring 7000 gold coins all in a pile right in front of the jailer. How strong your determination would be if someone puts 7000 gold coins right in front of you? His determination was not very strong, “All right! All right!” Sanātana told him, “You just tell him you took me to the Ganges to take care of some bodily business and I jumped in and drowned, and you don’t know what happened.”
Sanātana was the prime minister but, when he escaped from jail he didn’t have a penny to his name. He was able to arrange for one servant—Ishan—that he had to come with him. But this Ishan thought, “I can’t just go empty handed; I need to take care of him!” So he stashed eight gold coins. As they were traveling they went through one section of land where there was a very well known robber who controlled that area. And one astrologer palmist told him, “Oh, oh, some great fortune is coming your way, very soon some travelers will come and they have wealth, you should secure it.” When they came into his area, he received them very nicely and made arrangements for them, so they had a nice place to stay and good food and nice accommodation. He was really just a big rascal setting them up so that he could rob them. Actually we did this play one time when I was a younger devotee and I played this robber guy. I had a little beedi (cigarette) in my mouth, one of those sleeveless shirts that all the rickshaw-valas are wearing, a gamachā wrapped on my head, so it was great fun.
SanātanaGosvāmī was a prime minister, he was expert in politics, he knew something was up: “There is no reason for this man to be so nice to us. Something is not right here”. He went to Ishan and said “Ishan, I have one question. Have you brought something with you that you haven’t told me about? Maybe you have some private funds stashed?” Ishan hung his head and said, “Yes, my lord, I have brought seven gold coins.” How many gold coins did we say he had? Eight, but how many he told Sanātana he had? Seven. Sanātana said, “Why have you done this; you have put our lives in great peril. Give me the seven gold coins you brought.” [Ishan counting and giving coins:] “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, Um 8 (hidden)”, so he gave them and SanātanaGosvāmī took those gold coins and went to the innkeeper, to the robber, to the landowner and he said, “I have a present for you. You have been very kind to me. Unknown to me, my servant has kept these gold coins. I would like to give them to you and you would do me a great service if you would take them.” The robber told them, “Actually I knew you had eight gold coins.” Sanātana counted that it was seven. The robber said, “Had you not given them to me, I would have taken them from you and plundered you. But now that you are offering them, I won’t even take them. You can keep them.” He (Sanātana) said, “No, no, you will do me a great favor—please, if you don’t take them, someone else will. Please you take them.” So the man accepted the seven gold coins, Sanātana and Ishan continued and they went over the mountain areas. After they crossed the mountain areas, Sanātana said one thing to Ishan, “Ishan, you have one more gold coin?” [Ishan replied:] “Yes, I do”. [Sanātana said:] “All right, you take that gold coin and you return home. You are not ready for renunciation, so you keep the gold coin and you return to your home.” In this way, he bid good-bye to Ishan and Sanātana continued on his way.
Now Sanātana got near one place called Patna, very famous place where they have big auctions for animals all the time. And remember what I said, Sanātana came from a big family. Well, one of his sisters married one devotee—Śrīkaṇṭha—and they lived there. When Śrīkaṇṭha said, “This is all your family, you stay here for a few days, be comfortable.” But Sanātana wanted no delays, “No, No I have to continue on.” [Śrīkaṇṭha said:] “But you have nothing. At least take this nice expensive comfortable Bhutanese blanket.” So Sanātana thought he could use this for sleeping, for staying warm, as his gamachā, for so many things, so he accepted it.
Finally he arrived in Banaras where Mahāprabhu was staying and when he arrived there he went to the home of Candraśekhara. Candraśekhara let him stay there, while the devotees went in and informed Mahāprabhu that he had arrived. As soon as Mahāprabhu understood Sanātana had arrived, He went in and quickly embraced him. It is described that in this anticipated meeting of these two wonderful devotees all of the different ecstatic symptoms manifested and what did Mahāprabhu do? With his own lotus hands, He began to dust all the dirt off the body of SanātanaGosvāmī. Now Sanātana felt very uncomfortable with this happening. He said, “My dear Lord, please—No, No! Don’t even touch my body.” CaitanyaCaritāmṛta gives Mahāprabhu’s response: “I touch your body to purify myself. The devotional force in your body is so great that it can purify the entire universe. I look at you, I touch you, and I sing your glories and by doing so all of My senses reach their perfection.” The Lord repeated this again and again, that He was being benefited by touching the body of Sanātana and then He said to Sanātana, “Listen my dear Sanātana, Kṛṣṇa is an ocean of mercy. He saves the most fallen. He has delivered you from the greatest type of hell.” Now of course Sanātana wasn’t really in hell; he was an eternal associate of the Lord, but it was His pastime.
The Lord looked at Sanātana; Sanātana had been in prison for some time and living with the Muslims, serving there and traveling and he had his long beard and long hair, etc. He said to Sanātana, “Go and shave and get your hair cut and look respectable.” Generally speaking, Vaiṣṇavas are clean-shaven, no hair, no beard. Of course during the Cāturmāsya period many devotees don’t shave, do fasting and things like that. After being shaven and cleaned up, he came before Mahāprabhu. Mahāprabhu was very satisfied to see him. When he was taking his bath, and shaving up and all, his friend Candraśekhara came and wanted to give him some new cloth, “You should put on some new Dhotī, new Kūrtā, now that that one’s so old.” Now even though at one time in his life, Sanātana had been wealthy enough to give clothes to thousands of mendicants, now he only had one set of cloth. But he was just as happy with that one set of cloth and he did not want to accept any new clothes from Candraśekhara.
Now, there was one Maharashtrian Brāhmaṇa that lived with the devotees there and he invited Sanātana, “You please come for Prasādam today”. Sanātana said, “No, No, I am not interested. I am only doing Mādhukarī. Whatever I collect that’s all I eat.” Mahāprabhu was very happy with this. As he would come before Mahāprabhu during his stay there, he would have on his little loincloth, his little shawl and that really nice Bhutanese warm blanket given to him by Śrīkaṇṭha. Whenever he would go in front of Mahāprabhu, he would see that Mahāprabhu kept looking at this blanket. Mahāprabhu never said anything; He would just look at this blanket. Sanātana could understand. He was a very intelligent man, familiar in the ways of subtle dealings. That day he went to the Gaṅgā to take his bath, and there was one old Bengali beggar with his old cloths that he had and some blanket and he was washing his clothes. So Sanātana said to him, “Can we trade? I will give you this and will take yours?” And the old beggar looked, he said, “The fact that I am poor and a beggar is not enough, you must tease me like this? You look to be a saintly person, but why do you make fun of me in this way?” “No,” Sanātana said, “I am very serious, you take,” and he put the blanket on his lap. So he took the old quilt and put it around his shoulders.
Then he went back that afternoon for Darśana of Mahāprabhu, and he had on his shoulder just a bare quilt. Mahāprabhu looked at it and looked at it again, looked at it for a third time and then smiled. He said, “I have been thinking about this. It seems that since Lord Kṛṣṇa is very kind to you, he has cured you of your disease for attachments to material enjoyments. Why would He then allow you to hold on fast to one last item?”
After restoring a patient to good health the physician does not let even one trace of the disease remain. It is quite contradictory to perform Mādhukarī while wearing a blanket worth five gold coins. You can imagine, someone comes to your door dressed in a very fine tuxedo with a big fine hat and the cane and the shave, “I am very poor, could you give me a little something?” Who’s going to believe him? So in this way Lord Caitanya said, “By giving this up you have increased your spiritual strength and refrained from becoming a laughingstock.” At this point, Mahāprabhu begins His opportunity of giving the teachings of KṛṣṇaConsciousness to SanātanaGosvāmī.
SanātanaGosvāmī speaks first to Mahāprabhu, “Actually, I don’t even know how to inquire about the goal of life or the process for attaining that goal.” And then this famous verse which we all know, “Ke āmi? Who am I?”Śrīla Prabhupāda actually quoted this verse many, many times in his lectures. It is one of his favorite verses to quote. It is mentioned that this is the first inquiry for one on the path to spiritual perfection. Because if we mistake what our true identity is, then all of the other knowledge will be based on a faulty conclusion. Śrīla Prabhupāda often gave an example, “If you add one and one and you get three, even if you master the most complicated calculus, you will have the wrong understanding.” So due to the fact we have limited time and due to the fact I have no philosophical understanding, we will just let it be up to you, to go to the CaitanyaCaritāmṛta Madhya Līlā chapters 20 to 23 and read this conversation and the Lord’s instructions. However, it’s interesting to note that when Mahāprabhu spoke to SārvabhaumaBhaṭṭācārya, He gave 18 different explanations of the ātmārām verse. But when he spoke with SanātanaGosvāmī he gave 61 different explanations of the same.
After this conversation with Mahāprabhu is finished he instructs Sanātana, “Now you go to Vṛndāvan”; and when Sanātana goes to Vṛndāvan the first person he meets is Subuddhi Rāya. Now Subuddhi Rāya made his living by just selling some dry wood for lighting fires. Despite this, Subuddhi Rāya was able to host whatever Vaiṣṇava came around. Sanātana spent some little bit of time there and he learned that Rūpa and Anupama had already returned to meet Mahāprabhu in Purī. He stayed in Vṛndāvan just long enough to visit the different 12 forests, just like we are doing.
Anyway, it took Rūpa and Anupama a little bit longer to return and of course, along the way back Anupama departed this world, but that is a whole other story. When Sanātana was going to Purī, he went through the Jārikhaṇḍa forest to stay off the main road and he developed some skin sores from the bad water. When he got to Purī, he didn’t want to go to see Mahāprabhu directly. He wouldn’t even go near the Jagannātha temple, afraid that the pujaris might bump into him and become all contaminated, because he was oozing pus and stuff. He thought, “I am such an unfortunate personality. It’s almost Rathayātrā; I just want to throw myself underneath the wheels of Jagannātha’s cart, and in this way, I will be crushed to death while I look at Mahāprabhu dancing in ecstasy.” He was thinking like this and Mahāprabhu came to see him and Haridāsa, since they were staying together. Once again, Mahāprabhu embraced Sanātana so firmly. Now he had these sores all over his body, and not just one or two, but everywhere, and Mahāprabhu embraced him very firmly and all this pus-stuff is going on Mahāprabhu’s body. Now we are making a face here hearing about it and Sanātana felt very badly about it, but Mahāprabhu was in ecstasy. He was very, very satisfied. Mahāprabhu then said to Him, “My dear Sanātana, if I could attain Kṛṣṇa by committing suicide then I would give up millions of bodies in a moment, but you cannot obtain Kṛṣṇa by falsely giving up your body. Besides, you have already surrendered your body to Me, it’s My property. Do you think you can destroy the property of another? Your body will be an important instrument in My establishing devotional principles”.
We are going to jump ahead a little bit to Sanātana being here in Vṛndāvan. There are so many nice stories but we are bound. This is an interesting thing about the difference between the material and spiritual worlds. In the spiritual world time is conspicuous by its absence and in the material world everything we do is governed by time. So Sanātana is living here in Braja in Mahavan and he has got a small grass hut that he stays in and he goes out every day for Parikramā and for begging Mādhukarī, like that. One day as he is walking, one little boy—the boy’s name is Madana–Gopāla—runs up and grabs his hand:
[Madana–Gopāla:] “BābāBābā I want to go with you. I want to go; please take me with you”.
Sanātana looks at him, says: “Lala, why do you want to go with me?”
[Madana–Gopāla:] “No, I want to live where you live!’
[Sanātana:] “And if you live with me, what will you eat?”
[Madana–Gopāla:] “Bābā, I will eat whatever you eat”.
[Sanātana:] “But I only eat dry chapatis and a few handfuls of chickpeas.”
[Madana–Gopāla:] “Then that is what I will eat also.”
[Sanātana:] “No, no, no, that won’t be enough for you. You are a young boy. You stay with your mother and father.”
[Madana–Gopāla yells:] “No, Bābā no, I want to go with you.”
Sanātana explained nicely to the boy: “No, no, you can’t come with me. I have no way for you to stay with me. You stay with your mother, father.” Then he continued on his way to beg his chapatis.
Now, the Madana-Mohan Deity was residing in a home of one Brāhmaṇa named Dāmodara Choubey. This Deity was previously worshipped by none other than AdvaitaĀcārya and through the course of time, now came to the care of this Dāmodara and his wife Vallabhi and their son. Now the way they worshipped this Deity of Madana–Gopāla, it’s a little bit unusual. It was filled with parental Bhāva and with deep friendship from the boy. They actually understood and took the Deity to be one of the family members and just like naughty brothers sometimes they do with each other, they would fight and blame the other and go run and tell the parents on each other, like that. Then the parents would sit them down together to feed them and when they are done, put them to rest together.
SanātanaGosvāmī would periodically go by Choubey’s house and beg chapatis and he would see how they were worshiping the Deity MadanaGopāla. One day, he decided to instruct Vallabhi Mata, “What are the rules and regulations and the proper way to worship the Deity?” Now after doing this, the next time he came for chapatis he saw that Madana-Mohan and the son, they were sitting together and taking Prasādam side by side very happily. Upon seeing this scene it caused great emotions of ecstasy in Sanātana’s own body. Then he said to Vallabhi, “Forget what I told you. You worship the Lord in whatever way your heart feels.”
One night, Sanātana and Vallabhi had the same dream, MadanaGopāla comes to both of them and says “I want to go with Sanātana,” and then He turns to Sanātana and says “Bābā, I am coming tomorrow to stay with you and my name is MadanaGopāla.” So then he [Sanatana] woke up. Sanātana began to think, “What did I see? Such a beautiful boy and He resembled that little boy who tried to come with me previously.” Thinking in this way, he opened the door, he decided to go outside, and there was the Deity of MadanaGopāla. The entire courtyard was illuminated by the effulgence emanating from this beautiful Deity. He expected that any moment that Deity would say something to him, and finally with tears streaming down his face he fell and offered obeisances.
He constructed a little hut for Him and eventually he was able to get a few things together and perform an Abhisheka for the Deity. RūpaGosvāmī came to hear and he came and looked, took Darśana of MadanaGopāla. In this way he continued on with his writings and his little bit of service to the Deity. But that service was not very much. One day the Deity refused to eat. Sanātana said, “What is the matter?” This is an interesting thing: he makes the offering and the Deity won’t take, so he has a conversation with the Deity. This is how advanced he is. He (MadanaGopāla) said, “All you are giving me are these dry chapatis, day after day same thing—dry chapatis. Not even any salt. Can you at least give me some salt?” SanātanaGosvāmī would beg flour, roll it with water, flatten it up and throw it in fire. That was it; and then being a good devotee, he would offer to His deity first and then he would eat. MadanaGopāla said, “That’s it! I am not going to eat any more. You have to give me at least some salt.” Sanātana says, “Salt? Today you want salt, tomorrow you may want ghee, the next day it’s a Sabzi. I don’t have time for all this. Mahāprabhu has given me the service to writes books. I don’t have time to take care of all these meals for you.”
A day or so later, there is one very wealthy Kṣatriya named KṛṣṇadasKapur, he was going to Mathurā for the purpose of engaging in some business and trade. But his boat became stuck on a sandbar just on a hill here. He came up to the hill, went to Sanātana and said, “Please help me sort this out and get my boat free.” Sanātana said, “I am just a renunciate; I am just writing books. You go talk to MadanaGopāla if you want something. He can arrange things, I can’t do anything.” Thus he went before MadanaGopāla and he made one prayer: “O my MadanaGopāla, if by Your mercy my boat is freed, then whatever profit I get from the sale of this cargo, I will give your Gosvāmī to be engaged in Your service.” That afternoon there was a rainstorm like you cannot believe! So much water that the river rose, the sandbar just disappeared, and the boat continued down to Mathurā. Kṛṣṇadas Kapur went to Mathurā, sold his goods, got a great profit, came back and gave it all to SanātanaGosvāmī and became his disciple.
Oh, we have run out of time, but there’s one more really, really good story. What we will finish with is just the little description of the relationship between SanātanaGosvāmī and all of the residents of Braja. He would go around and visit all the different houses of the Gṛhasthas and all the villagers. [Sanatana would ask:] “So how are you today? Is that daughter of yours married yet? And how’s your son’s education coming along? Have you settled that maybe land you were going to purchase; has that come through alright?” Or if a husband and wife were having some arguments, like they do sometimes, they would go to Sanātana and he would settle the dispute. In this way, he was just like an uncle to all of the residents of Vṛndāvan.
When SanātanaGosvāmī passed away, two remarkable things happened. When a family member passes away, male family members (all the men in the family) shave their head. Every male resident in Vṛndāvan shaved their head on the departure of SanātanaGosvāmī, and RūpaGosvāmī was so distraught at the departure of Sanātana, that he went into his Samādhi, stayed there and never came out. So we will finish there.
There are so many stories of Sanātana around the different places of Braja, but we will save those, when we go to those places in Braja. The sun is starting to come a little bit so we will have some Kīrtana and cool off our minds.
Thank you very much for your attention.
HareKṛṣṇa. [Applause, “Haribol!”]
Indradyumna Swami Mahārāja:
Let us thank CaturātmāPrabhu again for his beautiful description of the life and teachings of SanātanaGosvāmī. [Applause, “Haribol!”] I have adjusted the program a little bit. We are going to give you time to break out your Prasādam, and take a little breakfast here and then we will walk down to the SamādhiMandir. It’s just down the main steps of the temple here. Behind there is the main entrance and then turn right and right again to go down, and we will meet at the Samādhi of SanātanaGosvāmī. We will have our Kīrtana there and that will conclude the day.
You’ve got a lot to remember, a lot to absorb and to relish. While everyone is here, I would just like to remind you, tomorrow is a very special day. It’s the disappearance day of a great Ācārya that’s very dear to many of the devotees’ hearts in ISKCON. It’s the disappearance day of Śrīla NarottamaDāsaṬhākur. Narottama, Śrīnivas and Shyamananda carried on the Saṅkīrtan movement after Lord Caitanya, along with the Pañca-Tattva, went back to the spiritual world.
NarottamaDāsaṬhākur was a great preacher, and a great Rasikā devotee, who shared his realizations in many poems and songs. Traditionally every year in our Parikramā, we meet at the Rādhā–Gokulānanda Temple for our program. So we’re just going to ask all of you that tomorrow you be at the Rādhā–Gokulānanda Temple at 7 o’clock tomorrow morning. How many of you know where the Rādhā–Gokulānanda Temple is? Okay, so it’s just a few meters away from Rādhā–Ramaṇa Temple. How many of you know where Rādhā–Ramaṇa Temple is? That beautiful little Deity of GopālaBhaṭṭaGosvāmī, RādhāRamaṇaji! Well, if you don’t know where Rādhā–Ramaṇa is, you just tell a rickshaw-vala–“Rādhā–Ramaṇa?” and I will be waiting for you at Rādhā–Ramaṇa Temple from 6.30 on and will walk you to the Rādhā–Gokulānanda Temple. Actually starting at 6 o’clock in the morning, devotees will start assembling outside the Kṛṣṇa–BalarāmaMandir, the main gate and we will be helping you on rickshaws to get down there. We will just grab a rickshaw, “Rickshaw? Rickshaw? Rickshaw?” We’ll throw you there and say “RādhāRamaṇaji, RādhāRamaṇaji, RādhāRamaṇaji!”
Okay, so 6 o’clock outside the Kṛṣṇa–BalarāmaMandir, if you miss the boat there, then just tell a rickshaw-vala–“Rādhā–Ramaṇaji” and then Gokulānanda Temple is just down the road a little bit, down 50-60 meters.
We choose Rādhā-Gokulānanda Temple, because there is a PushpaSamādhi of Narottama there. His Guru was LokanāthaGosvāmī and his full Samādhi is there, and there is a beautiful hall that’s covered. By Kṛṣṇa’s arrangement, ŚītalāMātājī has come from Māyāpura today. She is the favorite of all the devotees, especially the Mātājīs, and she will be giving the lecture tomorrow at Gokulānanda temple there on Narottama. A terrible thing has happened, very terrible—the temple authorities asked Caturātmā Prabhu to give the temple lecture about NarottamaDāsaṬhākur tomorrow morning. They kidnapped our Caturātmā. I can’t believe it, they asked him to give the temple lecture and now they stole our Caturātmā. But he will catch up with us later.
We would like to welcome all of you to the beautiful temple of Madana-Mohan. CaturātmāPrabhu will go into great detail about how this temple manifested by the strong desire of Śrīla SanātanaGosvāmī. Actually, it’s the first temple to be built by the six Gosvāmīs. Actually CaitanyaMahāprabhu very much wanted that the glories of ŚrīVṛndāvanDhām be revived and manifest to the entire world. This is the place of Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes, ŚrīVṛndāvanDhām but through the millenniums those glories became unmanifest.
Five hundred years ago actually Vṛndāvan externally just appeared as a very dense jungle so CaitanyaMahāprabhu asked his immediate followers/disciples—the Six Gosvāmīs to come here and perform three very important functions.
To write books on the science of KṛṣṇaConsciousness, which would later form the foundation of the –‘International Society for KṛṣṇaConsciousness’. One time Prabhupāda said, “KṛṣṇaConsciousness is authorized and the authorization is the ancient Vedic scriptures.” Lord Caitanya told the Gosvāmīs to come to this jungle and sit, research the Vedic scriptures, and write books on the science of KṛṣṇaConsciousness.
He also asked the Gosvāmīs to wander this transcendental land of Vṛndāvan/Vraja–Maṇḍala which is quite big and rediscover the places where Kṛṣṇa performed his Lilas.
Then he gave them the instruction to install Deities & temples here in Vṛndāvan so that in the future little people like us could come and be inspired. In general the Gosvāmīs didn’t ask the sculptors to carve the Deities and install the Deities. It is interesting, the history is that many of these Deities were hidden for many millenniums because of foreign invasion, so quite often the Gosvāmīs would discover their Deities in the jungle or under the ground here in ŚrīVṛndāvan and then establish their worship.
CaturātmāPrabhu will tell the story of how the Deity of Madana-Mohan appeared first of all to Śrīla SanātanaGosvāmī. Actually SanātanaGosvāmī is the elder brother of Śrīla RūpaGosvāmī. RūpaGosvāmī considered him one of his spiritual masters. Madana-Mohan appeared but of course SanātanaGosvāmī was a Bābāji, he didn’t have any money so how could he build a temple? So we will hear about that. But it is very appropriate that the first Deity that appeared to the Gosvāmīs was Madana-Mohan; and then Rūpa found Govindajī and MadhuPaṇḍita found Gopīnātha. Śrīla Prabhupāda describes in the CaitanyaCaritāmṛta that, “Those who are aspiring to enter in and to reside eternally in Vṛndāvan, they approach the Lord in these three phases. By the mercy of our Spiritual Master we are first introduced to Madana-Mohan, then to Govindajī and then to Gopīnātha—this is the authorized path of entering into Vṛndāvan”. Why is that? – Because actually Madana-Mohan means the attractor of Cupid.
It’s a nice story, actually we were walking down the ParikramāMārga and KalasamvaraPrabhu reminded me of that pastime that at one time Cupid came to Vṛndāvana. You know Cupid’s business, his thankless task is to shoot everyone in this material world with the arrows of lust to keep them bound up with material desires until they come up to their senses— “This is all useless. Let me become a devotee of Kṛṣṇa”. Actually Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-Gītā, “It is lust only, Arjuna, which is the all devouring sinful enemy in this world”.
So Cupid he flies around the creation and he takes his arrows of lust and he sees someone and “Phhht” [sound of shooting arrow]; he shoots those lusty desires into the heart. Everyone is bound up in material existence by these desires. At one point in this business of Cupid he came to the point where everyone in creation had been inflicted with the material desires by his arrows. There wasn’t anyone left from Brahmā down to the insignificant ant; his arrows had entered into the heart of every living creature, so he was getting bored. “What do I do now? Everyone’s been afflicted with material desires”. He was kind of proud of his achievement. One Sādhu approached him and said, “Hey, there is one person you cannot inflict with material desires”. Cupid said, “How is that possible?” So that Sādhu said, “Because He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, He is transcendental to this material creation and right now He is living in Vṛndāvan.” Cupid didn’t know about this Personality—ŚrīKṛṣṇa, so he took it as a challenge. He said to that Sādhu, “I will show you. I will go to Vṛndāvan and shoot my arrows into the heart of that Kṛṣṇa.”
Thus Cupid had the good fortune to come to ŚrīVṛndāvanDhām. When he got there he inquired from the sages, “Do you know this person called Kṛṣṇa?” He was surprised that every single resident in ŚrīVṛndāvanDhām not only knew about Kṛṣṇa, they knew everything about Kṛṣṇa and they had given their hearts to Kṛṣṇa; they loved Kṛṣṇa. He asked the people of Vṛndāvan, “Where is this Kṛṣṇa?” It was evening time so they said, “Usually in the evening, Kṛṣṇa’s sporting on the banks of the Yamunā with his girlfriends.” So Cupid thought, “Oh He is with girlfriends? He is a good candidate for my arrows.” He didn’t understand that Kṛṣṇa’s relationship with His devotees, with His girlfriends is completely pure and transcendental.
It was just down the road a little bit Kalasamvara pointed out the particular place and Kṛṣṇa was there, having pastimes with the Gopīs on the banks of the Yamunā. Cupid came there and through the trees he could see Kṛṣṇa and he took his arrows like that and set his bow and he tried to take good aim so he could get right into the heart of this cowherd boy. You know, when you point your weapon at somebody you want to take a good aim so you don’t miss. You want to get the exact point, there are certain vulnerable parts in the body where you can shoot somebody and inflict them with your arrows or your bullets. So he is kind of looking at the form of this cowherd boy and going up and down from His feet, to His waist, to His chest, to His head, and then, “Let me see”— he is going back down. In this way, he is meditating on the transcendental form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. What happens when you meditate upon the form of the lord? It just melts your heart, because Kṛṣṇa is so beautiful. He is all attractive; especially when Kṛṣṇa is on the banks of the Yamunā with His devotees in His ‘Tribhaṅga-Sundara form.
Tribhaṅga-Sundara means He is in His three-fold bending form, like we see Him on the altar, His form is bent in three different places: His neck, His waist and His ankles/feet. He is playing His Vamsi/flute; and He is Keśava: He has long black curly hair, curling down to the sides of His shoulder. Very beautiful! Because as a young boy, He is growing, His skin is loose and He has got three lines on His neck; and in His ears, He has shark-shaped earrings dangling and shining with the brilliance of the sun. His eyes, beautiful lotus eyes, they actually extend all the way almost to His ears. Divine personalities, their eyes go almost to their ears.
RūpaGosvāmī describes the teeth of the Lord; they are lined up like beautiful pearls: a line of pearls on top and bottom. He is wearing yellow dhoti; and He is bluish-black like a monsoon cloud. The palms of His hands and the palms of His feet have a pinkish-reddish color; and on the bottom of His feet are different auspicious signs which delineate Him as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. There is a beautiful aroma emanating from the body of the Lord which is a combination of Āguru oil, musk, saffron and camphor; and He is wearing a garland called Vaijayantī Garland. Vaijayantī Garland means there are five kinds of flowers and the Vaijayantī Garland goes all the way to His ankles. Because of the aroma, there are always these transcendental little bumble-bees flying around that garland to get the nectar. So like this Kṛṣṇa is so attractive. He is Manohara: He attracts the mind of all created beings.
Here is Cupid trying to figure out which part of the form of the Lord he will shoot his arrows, and at one point he is just meditating and he just drops his bows and arrows and says, “This Kṛṣṇa is so beautiful; he has captured my heart” and he runs over and falls at the lotus feet of the Lord, grabs them; and says, “Please let me become your servant!” So one of Kṛṣṇa’s unlimited names is Madana-Mohan—He who attracts even Cupid. Everyone in this world is controlled by Cupid. But Cupid is controlled by the beauty of Kṛṣṇa— Madana-Mohan.
We are aspiring to become devotees, because we don’t really consider ourselves devotees; we have humility so we consider ourselves we would like to become devotees. One time a devotee said to Prabhupāda, “Prabhupāda, you’re the greatest devotee.” Prabhupāda looked down, he said, “To become a Vaiṣṇava is a very exalted thing. I am just trying to become a Vaiṣṇava”. We admit we are devotees but we admit we still have some material hankerings for this world, because when we chant HareKṛṣṇa tears of love of God still don’t flow from our eyes; so we accept in a humble way we are aspiring devotees and we still have these material desires—lusty desires. So to conquer over these lusty desires we approach Madana-Mohan because He attracted even Cupid. If we can be attracted to Madana-Mohan we can conquer over Cupid—those lusty desires.
The deeper essence on this Parikramā is we are trying to enter ŚrīVṛndāvan; to enter into understanding the mellows/Rasas of ŚrīVṛndāvanDhām. So it is very appropriate that at the beginning of our Parikramā we have come to the temple of Madana-Mohan. We have come to the deity of Madana-Mohan to pray, “Please free us from Material desires so we can serve you purely without motivation.”
na dhanaṁ na janaṁ na sundarīṁ
kavitāṁ vā jagadīśa kāmaye.
mama janmani janmanīśvare
bhavatād bhaktir ahaitukī tvayi
“All I want is pure devotional service to your lotus feet unimpeded with any contamination in my heart”; so later when you take Darśana of the Deity you can pray like that.
Actually the original Deity of Madana-Mohan was later moved because of the invasion of the Muslims to Karoli, a village in Rajasthan; and the devotees installed another Deity of Madana-Mohan that is called, “Pratibu”. Pratibu means another Deity, but identical with the first Deity, but there is not any difference. The Deity is in Karoli but this Deity is non-different from the Madana-Mohan in Karoli; so don’t think, “Oh, there’s some difference.” It is exactly—Pratibu: same Deity. Later on as our hearts get a little bit purified by approaching the Lord, chanting His Holy Names, associating with His devotees; then we approach Govinda–Deva, the Deity of Śrīla RūpaGosvāmī and we engage our senses in the service of Govindajī and our spiritual senses become purified. By engaging in the service, our spiritual senses become awakened and then at a more advanced stage of KṛṣṇaConsciousness we approach Gopīnātha.“ Nātha” means Lord, so Gopīnātha means Lord of the Gopīs and we engage in higher Rasas of association in service to the Lord in His form as Lord of the Gopīs. Like this, Madana-Mohan, Govinda and Gopīnātha; this is the authorized process of entering into Vṛndāvan.
You feel very fortunate, very blessed to be sitting here at this historic and amazing temple complex. Actually, the River Yamunā used to flow right along the path of ParikramāMārga we were walking on; that was the original path of the Yamunā River. Here you get a beautiful Darśana of Yamunā Mai, the forests of Vṛndāvan and other temples as well. So we are at the right time, at the right place, doing the right thing. Many devotees around the world, they are very appreciative of you all coming on this Parikramā; because as we show the photos and the videos that AnantaVṛndāvan is producing, people are feeling the same Bhāva, the same devotion that you are feeling by being here; so all the Vaiṣṇavas around the world are very grateful that you have all come here performing this great Parikramā.
This is our only business now for the next few hours. We just sit here; we are getting used to sitting and hearing and chanting; Isn’t it? I can see you are much more controlled; you are much more focused, you are hankering (Laulyaṁ) for this nectar. First couple days you were sitting down, I was noticing you were moving and looking around and falling asleep as many of you just got off the plane and jet lagged etc. Now everyone is getting used to the Parikramā; you are sitting there and focused.
Vṛndāvan is meant for Bhajan. Many years ago when Prabhupāda was here, because we were in the preaching mood, some devotees said to Prabhupāda, “Can we go out to RādhāKuṇḍa and open a preaching center and have Harināma all day and distribute books?” Prabhupāda said “No, Rādhā-Kuṇḍa is meant for Bhajan.” In that regard all of Vṛndāvan is meant for Bhajan. We come here in this sanctified atmosphere and we sit; engage in ‘Śravanaṁ’ (hearing) &‘kīrtanam’ (chanting), which brings – ‘Kṛṣṇasmaraṇam’ (remembrance of Kṛṣṇa). We hear we chant, and have a little Prasāda; this is the mood of Vṛndāvan. This is the mood of our Parikramā 2015 here in Vṛndāvan.
Of course this ISKCON is a missionary movement. Prabhupāda left Vṛndāvan to go to the West to spread the glories of Vṛndāvan. But he expected us to come here; hear and chantbecome spiritually strong and then go back to the West to share our good fortune with others by preaching the glories of Vṛndāvan. So you should all be like transcendental sponges just absorbing the waters—-absorbing the nectars of Vraja—through Kathā, and Kīrtana and Saṅga-association.
Because of your strong desires Kṛṣṇa has sent very qualified devotees to give you this nectar. We are going to begin our program today with the nectarine very deep Kīrtana of MādhavaPrabhu. Devotees all over the world, they are hankering for the association and Kīrtanas of MādhavaPrabhu and we have him for one month on our Parikramā party. What better place to have Kīrtana than at the feet of Madana-Mohan? Then CaturātmāPrabhu whose forte is speaking about the glories of our VaiṣṇavaĀcāryas, he is going to enlighten us on the glories of Śrīla SanātanaGosvāmī. He said he had notes for eight hours about SanātanaGosvāmī, I said, “Bābā, you have 90 minutes”. He will be speaking for about 90 minutes about SanātanaGosvāmī, then we will have breakfast and after breakfast we will have another Kīrtana to get into the mood to go to the SamādhiMandir of SanātanaGosvāmī which is just behind the building here.To prepare us to take shelter of the lotus feet of SanātanaGosvāmī we will call upon another great Kīrtaniyā, famous throughout the universe, BaḍaHariPrabhu; to lead the Kīrtana. After that we go to the Samādhi of SanātanaGosvāmī; and when we get there, you know what we’re going to do?
harer nāma harer nāma harer nāmaiva kevalam
kalau nāsty eva nāsty eva nāsty eva gatir anyathā
More Kīrtana! But standing Kīrtana with Karatāls and Mṛdungas and dancing in great ecstasy before the sacred Samādhi of Śrīla SanātanaGosvāmī.
There won’t be any lunch here. Lunch you will have at your homes or at the temple. A little preview: tomorrow is the disappearance day of Śrīla NarottamaDāsaṬhākur; we will be having our program at the RādhāGokulānanda temple starting at 7 o’clock. We will sing “Je anilo, Prema dhana”. That lecture will be given by Her Grace, Ṭhākurāṇī, ŚītalāDevīDāsī.
Please give a big round of applause for MādhavaPrabhu to lead us in an ecstatic Kīrtana to enter the mood of ŚrīVṛndāvanDhām.
Did you enjoy your pilgrimage Parikramā to the great city of Mathurā? [Applause, Haribol!]
Did you learn a lot of things about this transcendental abode? [Applause, Haribol!]
Has it left a deep impression in your hearts? [Applause, Haribol!]
Did you like the pastime how Kṛṣṇa appeared as Varāha to the cowherd boys? [Applause, Haribol!]
And wasn’t it amazing the Darśana of the Deities? [Applause, Haribol!]
Tomorrow we’re going to walk to the first established temple in Vṛndāvan, Śrī-Śrī Rādhā–Madana-Mohan. That temple was established of course by Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī. And we’ll also be visiting his SamādhiMandir, the SamādhiMandir of Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī. It’s actually one of my favorite places in Vṛndāvan, his Samādhi. It’s his full Samādhi, means his transcendental body was placed in the dust of Vṛndāvan there and they built a beautiful Samādhi. And in that area there is also what’s called the GranthaSamādhi—grantha means scripture; so there is a scripture Samādhi. All the books that were written by the six Gosvāmīs were placed inside that Samādhi for preservation. It’s about this big; it’s in the corner of the courtyard. And the instructions are to never open that Samādhi, because some of the books that were written by the Gosvāmīs are just too deep, too esoteric, too elevated for aspiring devotees to read or to hear.
The atmosphere in that area is very much like old Braja. In the early years we used to go and visit there, 72-73. We would go there and we would have long Kirtans and lots of Kathā, so it created a very deep impression in my heart as a young devotee and I always like to go back there and seek guidance and inspiration from Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī. We’ll sit at the foot of the Madana-Mohan temple. There’s a small little courtyard there. We’ll all fit there and tomorrow’s class will be given by His Grace CaturātmāPrabhu. He’s in shock so give him some applause. [Applause: Haribol!]. He is very famous for speaking about the lives and the teachings of great Vaiṣṇava personalities. And Kirtans will be performed by MādhavaPrabhu, Baḍa-HariPrabhu, and me. [Applause, Haribol!]
I just love to sing and dance in front of SanātanaGosvāmī’s Samādhi. So we’re going to leave at seven in the morning. You can assemble on the road, the ParikramāMārga outside my house there at Rāma Reti near BalarāmaBābā’s place, near my house, or [the] houses of BBGovindaMahārāja, GirirājaSwami. You can all assemble there at seven o’clock. It means you can go to MaṅgalaĀratī at Kṛṣṇa–BalarāmaMandir.
In that cool morning air of Vṛndāvan, we’ll all walk down to the Madana-Mohan temple, takes about 45 minutes. It’s a very nice walk, part of the Vṛndāvan Parikramā walk. Tomorrow we’ll give you time to have breakfast there. But there won’t be any lunch served tomorrow, because when we do the Vṛndāvan temples, you can come back and take Prasādam where you’re staying or you can take Prasādam at the temple, so we won’t serve lunch tomorrow. Okay, so remember we’re leaving a little later: seven o’clock, and if you’re late you can just come down to the Madana-Mohan temple and you’ll catch us there.
One point I know, I’m looking around, and devotees are quite sleepy. Remember I told you: in India it’s good to go to bed early. Actually, in Vedic culture, in village life, people would go to sleep when the sun went down, and they would wake when the sun got up. India has a very intense climate. You might not be able to see it or perceive it but the climate, the weather, everything is very intense here and you can’t move as quick and get as many things done as you can in the West. You may have started to experience that.
You can’t do everything. But you should do the main thing, which is come on the Parikramās. We’ve organized these Parikramās. We’ve invited these illustrious personalities, older devotees to accompany us, so you can get a real Vṛndāvan experience over the next month. So go to bed early. You need the rest. You need the rest more here than you do in the West. It also helps to take a nap in the afternoon. This is not deep philosophy, this is just how to live in India, how to survive the Parikramā. When you get back, don’t run down to LoiBazaar to go shopping. There’ll be plenty of beautiful Sāris at the end of Kārtika, as well. When you get back, take a nap, take a nap. And get up and chant some extra japa, read a little bit.
At most, you can go to the temple to offer your lamp and then go home and take rest. Don’t talk and chat till one—and then you get tired and you won’t be able to hear the Kathā or dance in the Kirtans and so this is good advice. You should be in bed by 8:30, nine o’clock. What? Yes! The early morning’s the best part of Braja. When you get up, it’s dark. You can chant Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa. These Parikramās are intense—walking, singing, in India. But these are some of the best days of your life. When you’re older you’ll look back and remember these Parikramās, and you’ll remember, “Wow, that was really amazing.”
Okay, early to bed and drink lots of water. We’re told to drink two liters, you know. In India you can drink four liters. It helps keep you hydrated. So tomorrow at Madana-Mohan temple up on that beautiful hill, I don’t want to see any of this [mimics sleeping]. You’re sleeping!
Okay, and before you leave today, please leave our pūjārī friend a nice donation. This pūjārī’s doing very PakkaSevā and the Deities are very beautiful. They’re shining, there’s lots of BhaktiBhāva. So this is setting such a nice example for the whole world taking very good care of Kṛṣṇa, so if you have some lakṣmī, please give it to the pūjārī. He has a beautiful long, long hair there—big Śikhā. So please give him a very nice donation. I’m just making a personal request because everything will go to the Sevā of Rādhā–Govindaji.
AnantaVṛndāvan produced a beautiful video last night about the first days in Vṛndāvan. It’s called “Entering the Dhām.” It’s on Facebook, my Facebook page. It’s three minutes long, beautiful song by Jahnavi, “Like the river flows to the sea”. So if you can get online, watch that video. He is posting photos, you can see yourself, “There I am in Mathurā!” Go online if you can and see the beautiful work of AnantaVṛndāvan—the whole world’s enjoying it. All of ISKCON is relishing his artistic abilities.
We would love to share this with the whole world and inspire them to come to Vṛndāvan! [Applause, Haribol!] We’ll try to get a big screen maybe and show you as we produce them every day. Also everything’s going live on the internet, Vrindavan.tv. You can tell all your friends, your family members, they can see you, see the Parikramās and benefit from the Kārtik experience here on Vrindavan.tvlive every day, the whole Parikramā. Okay, seven o’clock tomorrow morning outside my house. Madana-Mohan and SanātanaGosvāmī lecture by CaturātmāPrabhu.
Mathurā Dhām ki—Jaya!
Mathurā Maṇḍala Dhām ki—Jaya!
Śrī Vṛndāvan Dhām ki—Jaya!
Lord Varāha – Deva ki—Jaya!
Śrī-Śrī Rādhā Govinda-Deva ki—Jaya!
Vṛndāvanesvari Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī ki—Jaya!
Gaura Bhakta Vṛndā ki—Jaya!
Kārtik Parikramā 2015 ki—Jaya!
Jaya-Jaya Śrī Rādhe…Śyāma!
I really hope Prasādam is here?. Prasādam is here, Wow! Rasikā Śiromani Devī Dāsī ki—Jaya! Govinda Carana ki—Jaya! She would like to make some announcements. “Announcements Dāsī!”
[Announcement by RasikāŚiromaniDevīDāsī]
Śrīla Gurudeva leads the devotees Prasādam prayers…
Let’s now please show our affection for MādhavaPrabhu for leading us in such a wonderful devotional Kīrtana. [Applause, Haribol!].
Usually Mādhava gets us going. Well, it’s very nice in the beginning, but usually crests at about an hour, an hour and a half, so this is austere for him: telling him to chant for only thirty or forty minutes.
Before we begin, I’d like to introduce two God-brothers of mine whom I have just met actually for the first time on this Parikramā: ManyuPrabhu, over here on my left, if you could stand up please. He is a senior Prabhupāda disciple. He joined early in the movement, and he served in Southern California, and he was on the famous Rādhā–Dāmodara traveling festival program. That’s his story; and I am sure he has done a lot of other devotional service, which he hasn’t shared with me yet, but in our association in the next month I will learn about and share with you.
Like me, he is probably in his sixties, so I asked him what he does and he said, “I am a retired teacher.” It’s not uncommon these days when I meet God-brothers or God-sisters, I ask, what is their profession. “I am retired ‘this’, I am retired ‘that’”. It just shows how old we are getting. And he has come here with his son Nimāi, and interestingly enough, they’re both visiting Vṛndāvan—India, for the first time. [Applause].
Another Godbrother, GhoṣaṬhākur, are you here today? Where are you? There, sitting, GhoṣaṬhākur. He is from Canada, Quebec, and he has also done lots of devotional service through the years. Actually he comes to Vṛndāvan, India quite often actually. He has got an attachment for Braja. And he will be with us for the entire month, as well. It’s very nice for me especially to meet God-brothers I have never met before after so many years. It’s kind of one of those special things that happens as you grow older.
I’d ask all of you to please give these older Prabhupāda disciples the proper respect when they are amongst us. Out of natural humility, they are sitting on one side and in the back of the temple room, but you should facilitate when everyone is sitting down; you should clear a path and you should make sure that they are sitting along with myself and Baḍa-HariPrabhu and so forth, and they have nice cushions and they get garlands the same time we get garlands.
The disciple should offer the same respect to the Spiritual Master’s God-brothers as they offer to the Spiritual Master. So as you facilitate me, you please facilitate them, and honor them that they received the grace of a pure devotee, Śrīla Prabhupāda, and they’re active in his devotional service at the fag-end of their lives. That says a lot.
At the moment we are actually sitting in one of the most holy places in creation: MathurāMaṇḍala, the city of Mathurā. Of course, as you are walking down the street, you may not be able to perceive this is a spiritual abode. This is a big city. It’s falling apart: there’s garbage, there are pigs, and it looks like there are more monkeys in Mathurā than there are in Vṛndāvan.
But we accept that actually this is one of the most sacred places in the universe on the basis of Guru, Śāstra, and Sādhu. This is how we see Mathurā. We see Mathurā through Guru, through Śāstra, and through Sādhu. It’s said that a saintly person sees through his ears, not through his eyes. So we can take the opportunity to see, to perceive, to appreciate Mathurā, and let us say, through the words of a great devotee like Śrīla SanātanaGosvāmī. He has written in his great Bṛhad–Bhāgavatāmṛtam, “All glories to the Goddess Mathurā Dāsī, the best of all holy cities. She enchants the mind, she is most dear to the enemy of Kaṁsa, and she is decorated with the Lord’s birthplace. The city of Mathurā is glorified throughout the world for dispelling misery and bestowing liberation and devotion, what to speak of the various pastimes the Lord has performed in Mathurā.” Very beautiful verse describing Mathurā! In this verse, Śrīla SanātanaGosvāmī points out that of all the holy cities in Bhārata, in India, this universe, and the creation, actually Mathurā is the holiest of all cities.
Actually in Vedic tradition, it’s accepted that here in Bhārata, there are seven principal holy cities; and like yesterday, you can repeat after I tell you what they are: There are Kashi, Kanchi, Avanti, Mathurā, Ayodhya, Hardiwar, and Dvārakā. This is another set of details that you can imprint within your mind and think about. I visited a few of these holy places and they are quite amazing. Why is it that Śrīla SanātanaGosvāmī says that of all these cities Mathurā is the most sacred? Because he took that information from the SkandhPurāṇa!
Actually Lord Caitanya told the six Gosvāmīs to come to Vṛndāvan and write books on the science of devotional service. So to do that, they researched so many ancient Vedic scriptures, and they presented the philosophy of CaitanyaMahāprabhu based on these scriptures. Why Mathurā is considered the most holy city of all is described in the SkandhPurāṇa. The verse is quite long so I won’t quote the Sanskrit, but the translation is:
“Among the holy cities like Kashi, Mathurā is most auspicious. Why? Because she awards liberation among human beings in four specific ways: by birth, by vows of initiation, by death, and by cremation.” That means she is very auspicious because if you take birth in this city of Mathurā, you can achieve perfection. If you have your initiation ceremony somewhere here in Mathurā, if your GuruMahārāja decides he’ll do your initiation here in Mathurā, you can very easily achieve perfection.
Like Vṛndāvan, if you come here and you die somewhere in this city, within the boundaries of the city, you die in Mathurā, you achieve liberation. Actually Mathurā is so merciful that even if you don’t die here, let’s say you die in Delhi, but they bring your body here, and they cremate your body—your dead body (you’re gone, but your body’s cremated here), you also achieve liberation. Just think about that for a moment. By taking birth in Moscow, do you achieve liberation? By having your initiation ceremony in Buenos Aires, does it necessarily guarantee your liberation?
If you die in Auckland, New Zealand, does it guarantee your liberation? If they cremate your body in Kiev, do you necessarily achieve liberation? But just by doing those things here, just those acts alone, you get so much benefit. But the real glories of Mathurā are described in the PadmaPurāṇa. And that I’ll quote because it’s a short verse:
muktir eva mahā-phalam
muktaiḥ prārthyā harer bhaktir
mathurāyāṁ hi labhyate
“In other holy places, liberation is the greatest reward that one can achieve. But in Mathurā, one can gain what is prayed for by the liberated. What is that?—Pure devotional service to Lord Hari.”
You can get liberation by doing different things, but greater than liberation you should get pure devotional service, and that guarantees you go to Vaikuṇṭha or at best you go to GolokaVṛndāvan. Pure devotional service of the Lord is better than liberation. What does liberation mean? Liberation from suffering, liberation from the process of repeated birth and death, or the best liberation can offer is that you appear to merge into the Brahman. That’s a very blissful state, but according to cosmic time, it’s also temporary, because although you merge into the Brahman, at some point you become dissatisfied because you’re not connected to Kṛṣṇa. Material desires appear again in your heart, and you fall back down to the Earth planets.
This city of Mathurā can offer more. Liberation is very nice, but Mathurā can offer more than liberation. She can offer you pure devotional service, which guarantees an eternal life of bliss and knowledge in the spiritual world. Understanding this, pious people or saintly people; they always search out a holy place to live, a holy place like Mathurā.
I was reminded of this last year when we were at RādhāKuṇḍa. There is one young girl there named Pūjā. She was about nine years old and as she was growing up so I said to her, “Well, when you finish school here at RādhāKuṇḍa, I’d be happy to pay for your education, college education in Delhi or Mumbai or if you’re a good student, I could even send you overseas. You could go to England and get a Master’s or Ph.D.” Because she is a very smart girl!
She started laughing. She said, “No way! No way!” I said, “Are you not interested in education?” She said, “I can read, I can write, I am never going to leave RādhāKuṇḍa.” I said, “No, you can get an education, some security for the future.” She said, “I have Rādhārāṇī’s blessings; what more do I need?” She’s nine years old. She said, “You can achieve all perfection just by living here on the banks of RādhāKuṇḍa.” So I [said], “No London? No New York?” “Nope, RādhāKuṇḍa.” She said, “I don’t even go to Aniyore.” (Aniyore is a little village further down the side). “I don’t even go to Aniyore; I just stay here on the banks of RādhāKuṇḍa.” I said, “Actually on the banks of RādhāKuṇḍa you spend a lot of time?” She said, “Yes, last year, I was going there every day. I was pouring milk into RādhāKuṇḍa, praying that you would get over your sickness, Mahārāja. When you were very sick in the hospital, every day, 12 Noon, I’d go to RādhāKuṇḍa and give her milk, and the flowers, and the waters, and I’d say prayers that you would get healthy again.”
Pious people, devotees, Sādhus, they like to live on the banks of the Sarasvatī River, the Yamunā, the Ganges, or a holy place like Mathurā, Vṛndāvan, because they know the benefits—that just living there, you get so much pious credit and devotional mercy. Such places have been existing since the beginning of creation. Just like there are materialist cities that have existed since the beginning of creation, so cities like Mathurā, Vṛndāvan, Ayodhya, they have also been existing. Because there are two classes of men: there are the divine and the demoniac. The demoniac, they go towards the sense gratification in the big cities and the devotees of the Lord, they migrate to the cities like Mathurā.
And we have come to the best of the best. There is a nice pastime that illustrates how Vṛndāvan, or how MathurāVṛndāvan is the best of the best. Sometime near the beginning of creation during the night of Brahmā when Brahmā was sleeping, a demon named Śaṅkhāsura defeated the demigods in heaven and stole the Vedas. It’s said that when Śaṅkhāsura stole the Vedas, the demigods who depend on those scriptures, they lost all their spiritual strength. We can understand that. We get our spiritual strength from ‘Śravanaṁ kīrtanam viṣṇoḥ smaraṇam’—from hearing and chanting. When we read Prabhupāda’s books, we get so much spiritual strength.
The demigods are all devotees. They’re also having Kīrtana, they’re also reading Śāstra. When the demon Śaṅkhāsura stole all the Vedas, the demigods felt, “Oh, now we have lost all our spiritual strength. Śaṅkhāsura stole it.” So the demigods approached the ocean of milk and they prayed to Kṛṣṇa again to intervene and save the situation. The Lord assumed the form of Matsya, a fish, and He killed Śaṅkhāsura in a great battle and rescued the Vedas. In this way, the demigods got back their spiritual strength; so Lord Brahmā considered this to be a great victory that the Vedas had been rescued.
He decided to hold a big celebration, a big Yajña, at another sacred place called Prayāga. Saintly persons from all over the universe, various demigods, all came and celebrated this great victory of Lord Matsya over this great demon in rescuing the Vedas. While that was all going on, Brahmā was looking around and thinking, “All these Sādhus have come and this is a very holy place because the three rivers, the Yamunā, Sarasvatī, and the Ganges meet here.” He said, “At this big Yajña, I’m going to declare that Prayāga is Tīrtharāja, the King of all holy places.”
He stood up during the Yajña and he said, “Everyone pay attention. I am declaring that of all the holy places in creation, Prayāga is the best. It shall be known as Tīrtharāja, King of all holy places.” Then Brahmā ordered all the holy places personified to pay dandavats, to bow down and offer prayers to Prayāga. So they did. But after the sacrifice was over, NāradaMuni, who was attending this great function, he was looking at Prayāga personified and he could see that because of this honor that was bestowed upon it, Prayāga was getting a little proud. He was getting a little puffed up, “Oh, I am Tīrtharāja, why everyone should bow down to me. I am more holier than thou.”
We don’t want to speak ill of Prayāga, it’s a very auspicious place, but if there’s a little pride that enters the heart of a devotee, the Lord arranges that devotee again becomes humble.NāradaMuni approached Prayāga personified and said, “You know, that’s a big Yajña, you have got the title now, Tīrtharāja.” Prayāga said, “Yes, everyone is bowing down to me.” Nārada said, “Not everybody is bowing down. There are two holy places, if you didn’t notice, who didn’t come to the ceremony and offer you tribute”. Prayāga was like, “Woah! What holy places didn’t come and honor me as Tīrtharāja?” NāradaMuni said, “Mathurā and Vṛndāvan. They didn’t come.”
Prayāga said, “Mathurā personified and Vṛndāvan personified; they didn’t come and honor me as Tīrtharāja. I’m going to complain to Lord Kṛṣṇa.” He is a special personality of course; he has special abilities, so he went to Vaikuṇṭha and met with Kṛṣṇa. At that Darśana he said to Kṛṣṇa, “Dear Lord, you witnessed my coronation as the King of all holy places. But did you know that Mathurā and Vṛndāvan chose to stay away from the ceremony? In this way, they have ignored yours and Lord Brahmā’s order to worship me. This is a great aparādha, this is a great offense. You should do something about it, Lord Kṛṣṇa.” Kṛṣṇa was silent for a while. Then he smiled and replied to the puffed up Prayāga, “My dear Prayāga, I agreed with Lord Brahmā that we could make you king of all holy places, but not the king of My home. Do not try to rule over My own personal residences of Mathurā and Vṛndāvan.” Prayāga was shocked, “Your personal?” Kṛṣṇa replied, “I always reside in Mathurā and Vṛndāvan.” He said, “My personal residence. You can’t rule over My residences.”
Kṛṣṇa said, “Just try to comprehend the glories of Mathurā.” And this following beautiful verse came from the lotus mouth of BhagavānaŚrīKṛṣṇa Himself, glorifying the very city you are now sitting in.
Kṛṣṇa said to Prayāga:
mathurā maṇḍalam saksan
miderame parat param
lokatrayag param divyam
“MathurāMaṇḍala’s My home. It is My transcendental abode, above the three worlds. It is not destroyed even at the time of cosmic devastation. Like Me, Mathurā is eternal.”
Well, the Lord is glorifying this transcendental abode which you are now sitting in. How fortunate we are, how blessed we are to be in this transcendental abode. The Lord’s own home, the glory of Mathurā is that Kṛṣṇa takes His birth here, He appears here in Mathurā, His Janmabhumi, here. When we celebrate Janmāṣṭamī, we are celebrating His birth in Mathurā.
When he was chastised by the Lord in this way with transcendental knowledge, Prayāga being a great devotee of the Lord immediately became very humble, and he knew Vaiṣṇava etiquette. We know, we have been trained that when we offend a devotee, the only way we can become free from that offense is to show some remorse and go andbow down to that devotee and ask for forgiveness.Prayāga said to the Lord, “May I be excused?” The Lord said, “Yes.” Immediately Prayāga came here to this Mathurā–Maṇḍala, this Vraja–Maṇḍala and from a distance he saw Mathurā personified, Vṛndāvan personified. And he paid full Daṇḍavats on the dusty road. He begged for forgiveness and as soon as he asked for forgiveness— naturally, a devotee’s very benevolent—immediately he was forgiven by Mathurā and Vṛndāvan.
But he admitted, he said, “Because of my offense I still feel some contamination in my heart. Please tell me what to do that I can become free from any residue contamination in my heart for not respecting you for who you are?”
Do you know what Mathurā personified told him? How to become free from contamination? He said, “You go on Vraja-Maṇḍala Parikramā, Mathurā-Maṇḍala Parikramā, you visit all the holy places, and by going on Parikramā, all inauspiciousness within your heart will go away and Prema, love, for Śrī Kṛṣṇa will awaken.” This will be practically experienced by all of us. We’re just beginning our Parikramā now and by the end of the month you’ll feel so much purification, so many bad things will go from the heart, you’ll develop a little drop of Prema–Bhakti for Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. This Parikramā is a very powerful process in devotional service.
Something very interesting happened after that. BhūmiDevī, whom we know as the personified Earth, Mother Earth, also began kind of questioning, “Why of all holy places on the planet are all the sages and ṛṣis saying that Mathurā and Vṛndāvan are the most sacred?”
Of course we should understand when these types of doubts appear in the minds of great devotees, it’s not really their doubts, Kṛṣṇa’s just allowing that to happen so that He can instruct them and by instructing them, He’s instructing us. Śrīla Prabhupāda explains very clearly in his classes on Bhagavad-Gītā that Arjuna had some doubts but he didn’t really have those doubts. Those doubts appeared by the mercy of the Lord, so the Lord could speak Bhagavad-Gītā to Arjuna but really He was speaking Bhagavad-Gītā to all of humanity, for all of time.
So Bhūmi had the same doubt as Prayāga, “Why Mathurā? Why Vṛndāvan? There are so many holy places.” The Lord being in the heart of every living entity and seeing this, He decided to teach BhūmiDevī a lesson. But not immediately, He decided to wait till a particular moment, and that moment came when the first demon in the universe, Hiraṇyākṣa, took the planet Earth, took Bhūmi and threw her down to the bottom of the universe, in the water of the Garbhodaka Ocean.
At that point the Lord appeared as Varāha, a great boar, to rescue Bhūmi from the bottom of the Garbhodaka Ocean. Why? Why did the Lord assume the form of Varāha? Because Prabhupāda explains, these boars, the boars we know here on the Earth, they go to filthy places and they lay there and they bathe there and they eat there, so the bottom of the universe is sometimes considered not the cleanest place, so the Lord took the appropriate form of a boar, a transcendental boar—not an ordinary boar—to rescue the Earth and put Bhūmi back in her natural orbit.
Lord Varāha fought with Hiraṇyākṣa, He killed him, he went down, He took the Earth on his tusks, the Lord has two white gleaming tusks, so He took BhūmiDevī on His tusks and He flew into the air and they were pausing there in the sky for a moment, and Bhūmi’s resting on the tusks of Varāha.
At that point, Mother Bhūmi became anxious and she said to Lord Varāha, “Since everything is now flooded with water, where are you going to place me? Where are you going to place Mother Earth, everything’s flooded with water.” So Lord Varāha smiled and replied to Bhūmi. He said, “I will place you where trees still grow.” So Bhūmi repeated, “But all the trees and plants are all drowned in water now.” And again Varāha smiled at her and gave her some mystic vision. And with that mystic vision, she saw in the distance, a place with beautiful flowers, green trees, beautiful mountains and rivers and all types of animals, like deer, and cows, and sheep, and butterflies and soft winds. She saw so many—such a beautiful scene.
She was bewildered, she said to Lord Varāha while sitting on His tusks, “What is that place that hasn’t been touched by this devastation?” Varāha replied, “That is transcendental Mathurā–Maṇḍala, a part of the land of Goloka. It is a special place because it is never inundated with water when other parts of the universe are.” Mother Earth smiled and paid her obeisances to the city of Mathurā and the greater area of Mathurā–Maṇḍala. And she declared that of all holy places in the universe, Mathurā is the most holy. So through these pastimes, although they’re quite detailed, we can appreciate where we are right now.
If you were listening carefully, you’ll note that Lord Varāha plays a very important part in the glorification of Mathurā. And that is one of the reasons that two of the primary principal temples in this city, are temples where the Deity of Lord Varāha are worshipped. These are very ancient Deities that have been worshipped since the beginning of time. One is a black Deity of Varāha and one is a white Deity of Varāha. We are going to visit both those temples in about half an hour. Just so you can appreciate more of these transcendental Deities, the white Deity is called “ĀdiVarāha” and He was first worshipped by Aditi. Lord Indra stole the Deity of Varāha from Aditi. When Indra had it, then Meghnatha took it from Indra, and then Rāvaṇa took this Deity from Meghnatha. Then when Lord Rāmacandra killed Rāvaṇa, He took this Deity and brought it to India, Bhārata. Then Śatrughna, Lord Rāmacandra’s brother, was the king of this Province so after getting the Deity from Rāmacandra, he established that Deity here in Mathurā.
You can remember these pastimes; remember the history of these Deities when you’re taking Darśana. These Deities have been worshipped for billions and billions and billions and billions of years. I’d also like to share with you a pastime of Lord Varāha personally in this greater area of Mathurā–Maṇḍala or Vraja–Maṇḍala. When I was doing some research last night I was very surprised to find out that Lord Varāha actually appeared in Kṛṣṇa’s Vṛndāvan pastimes.
Did you know that? There’s a pastime of Varāha with the cowherd boys. So I’ll briefly tell that pastime. Well, one time the cowherd boys were getting ready to wrestle. Near the tail end of Govardhana, there are those two lakes, one’s called ApsarāKuṇḍa. So the boys were getting ready to wrestle between each other. So they divided into two groups. Balarāma’s older, so Balarāma, on His side, there were the older cowherd boys. And all the younger cowherd boys were on Kṛṣṇa’s side. So when the boys wrestled like this, they first began by challenging each other. Each side challenges the other side, “We’re bigger! We’re stronger than you!” “No, we’re bigger, we’re stronger; you are going to see.” There’s a lot of shouting and arguing that goes on.
Balarāma and the older cowherd boys are making fun of the younger boys. “This Kṛṣṇa, He’s so much smaller than Balarāma. He always needs Balarāma’s help and He plays with the girls anyways, so what kind of boy is He? And we’ve beat Him up so many times,” and they’re making fun of Kṛṣṇa and Kṛṣṇa—that particular time, He couldn’t stand being ridiculed. So Kṛṣṇa stood up and He kind of came into the center where the two sides were yelling at each other and He said, “Actually, I’m stronger than anyone in the universe, what to speak of any cowherd boy.” When He said that, Balarāma started laughing and laughing so hard, He fell over. So now the younger brother, Kṛṣṇa’s becoming really, really angry and when you get angry what happens? You turn red. Right? Your eyes become red, your skin flushes, you become red. So Kṛṣṇa became very angry and His face became red with anger.
He said, “All right, my friend, you’re going to see what I can do.” Without further warning, He immediately changed His form into a gigantic, angry boar. In that form, He stood up on His rear legs, and He was as high as the clouds, He had huge fearful tusks and He began moving His tusks around and lashing out with His scary hooves at all the older cowherd boys.
He was black as a Tamal tree and His eyes were red like rubies and He started getting bigger and bigger and bigger and making the noise that boars make. Now I don’t know how they do that [mimics boar snorting]. Like that, but much louder! [More mimicry] So the birds flew away and the animals ran for shelter, so Lord Varāha began to speak to the boys in a very loud voice. He said, “So you think I’m weak. Do you? My dear brother Balarāma, my dear friends, now watch me lift this entire planet with my tusks.” Then Kṛṣṇa in the form of the boar put His two tusks in the dust of Vṛndāvan and started to pick up all of Vṛndāvan and the Earth and it started to shake and the cowherd boys were rolling down. They were like this. And the boys called out, “Kṛṣṇa save us! Save us! Please forgive us!”
But Kṛṣṇa, He wasn’t pacified. Kṛṣṇa, He didn’t like being ridiculed by the older boys so He started lifting the Earth more and more and the boys started rolling down, down, down. So the boys turned to Balarāma. They said, “Balarāma, what do we do?” Balarāma said, “Uh, uh, Madhumañgala, start reciting the Pūrus–suktā.” Pūrus–suktā’s recited by the Brāhmaṇas and Madhumañgala takes great pride in being a brāhmaṇa, but he was so nervous [mimics shaky voice of Madhumañgala reciting]. Balarāma said, “That’s not going to work.” So Raktak, one of the cowherd boys, he had a good idea and he whispers in Balarāma’s ear, and Balarāma said, “That’s a very good idea.” Raktak figured out how to save the situation so he whispered a secret into Balarāma’s ear. And Balarāma said, “Yes, that’s the way we’ll solve the problem.”
What did Balarāma do? He fell on the ground. He paid obeisances to His younger brother and said, “I’m sorry, please forgive us.” And all the cowherd boys [mimics sound of them offering obeisances], they all lined up and finally Kṛṣṇa said, “Alright, I forgive you. No more ridiculing me in the future.” So then Kṛṣṇa assumed His original form and He tightened His belt and put His flute back in there and His bugle horn and took all the dust from His hands like that and smiled at His friends who were still shell-shocked from seeing this great boar.
But then Viśvanātha says, “But soon the great fear of the boys disappeared and they were all filled with wonder, ‘How did Kṛṣṇa do that?’” And Subala patted Kṛṣṇa on the back, he said, “Very well done, my friend. How do you do such magic?” And one by one, all the cowherd boys embraced Kṛṣṇa. By this time they had forgotten, totally forgotten about the wrestling match. And they decided instead they would go to Surabhi Kuṇḍa for a swim and as they were going there, all the boys were imitating Varāha’s roar, his noise, Caturātmā is… [Caturātmā Prabhu makes sound]. And Viśvanātha says that although the boys had been impressed by Lord Varāha’s great display of strength, most of them were still convinced they could beat Kṛṣṇa in a wrestling match.
Because although the Lord displays these fantastic pastimes, in the end, the boys just think He’s one of them, He’s the best of them; they don’t see Him as God. So these are some, very few, of the pastimes of Mathurā–Maṇḍala, Vṛndāvan–Maṇḍala. We know that you know that Kṛṣṇa came here and killed the Kuvalayapida elephant, He defeated the wrestlers, He killed Kaṁsa, associated with the ladies of Mathurā, there are so many pastimes, so we could go on for hours.
But although it’s getting late, we have to visit the temples before they close at 11, and you’re a little tired, I’d just like to conclude with reading a few of the prayers of the Gopīs when Kṛṣṇa left Vṛndāvan to come to Mathurā.
Actually, Akrūra was a Minister in the government of Kaṁsa. He was actually a great devotee of Kṛṣṇa but somehow or other he was working with Kaṁsa, so Kaṁsa chose him to come to Vṛndāvan and take Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma to Mathurā for the purpose of killing them actually. So there are many significant points, but the most significant of course was the pastime of the Gopīs, their prayers in which they’re revealing their heart to Kṛṣṇa about the impending separation from the Lord.
At that point, that you know, Akrūra was putting Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma on the chariot and getting the horses ready to leave Vṛndāvan and come to Mathurā, the word spread very quickly throughout Vṛndāvan and the Gopīs all assembled around that chariot. And their prayers actually demonstrate the deepest, most loving, and touching sentiments that any living entity can have for God, can have for Kṛṣṇa.
And those feelings they had, those emotions, those sentiments, you know we as aspiring devotees are hoping one day to achieve that same mood. So I thought it would be appropriate to finish today just by reading the prayers of the Gopīs as Akrūra was about to take the boys here to Mathurā.
And some of you may know these prayers are found in the Tenth Canto of the Bhāgavatam, Chapter 39. We won’t read all of them. We’ll just read the prayers 19 to 26. They’re quite deep so you have to kind of sit up, sit properly and take a breath of air and listen very attentively. Some of the essence of ŚrīmadBhāgavatam! The Gopīs said:
“O Providence, You have no mercy, You bring embodied creatures together in friendship and love and then senselessly separate them before they fulfill their desires. This whimsical play of Yours is like a child’s game.”
“Having shown us Mukunda’s face, framed by dark locks and beatified by his fine cheeks, raised nose and gentle smiles, which eradicate all misery, You are now making that face invisible to us. This behavior of yours is not at all good.”
“O Providence, though you come here with the name Akrūra, you are indeed cruel. For like a fool you are taking away what you once gave us—those eyes with which we have seen. Even in one feature of Madhudviṣa’s form the perfection of your entire creation.”
“Alas, Nanda’s Son, who breaks loving relations in a second, will not even look directly at us, forcibly brought under His control; we have abandoned our homes, relatives, children, husbands just to serve Him. But He’s always looking for new lovers.”
“The dawn following this night will certainly be auspicious for the women of Mathurā. All their hopes will now be fulfilled for as the Lord of Vraja enters their city, they will be able to drink from His face the nectar of His smile emanating from the corners of His eyes.”
“O Gopīs, although Mukunda is intelligent and very obedient to His parents, once He has fallen under the spell of the honey sweet words of the women of Mathurā and been enchanted by their alluring shy smiles, how will He ever return to us unsophisticated village girls?”
“When the Dāśārhas, Bhojas, Andhakas, Vṛṣṇis and Sātvatas see the son of Devakī in Mathurā, they will certainly enjoy a great festival for their eyes, as will all those who see Him traveling along the road to Mathurā. After all, He is the darling of the goddess of fortune and the reservoir of all transcendental qualities.”
“He who is doing this merciless deed should not be called Akrūra. He is so extremely cruel that without even trying to console the sorrowful residents of Vraja, he is taking away Kṛṣṇa, who is more dear to us than life itself.”
“Hard-hearted Kṛṣṇa has already mounted the chariot, and now the foolish cowherd boys are hurrying after Him in their bullock carts. Even the elders are saying nothing to stop Him. Today fate is working against us.”
“Let us directly approach Mādhava and stop Him from going. What can our family elders and other relatives do to us? Now that fate is separating us from Mukunda, our hearts are already wretched, for we cannot bear to give up His association even for a fraction of a second.”
“When He brought us to the assembly of the rāsa dance, where we enjoyed His affectionate and charming smiles, His delightful secret talks, His playful glances and His embraces, we passed many nights as if they were a single moment. O Gopīs, how can we possibly cross over the insurmountable darkness of His absence?”
“How can we exist without Ananta’s friend Kṛṣṇa, who in the evening would return to Vraja in the company of the cowherd boys, His hair and garland powdered with the dust raised by the cows’ hooves? As He played His flute, He would captivate our minds with His smiling sidelong glances.”
So a small portion of the Gopīs’ prayers as Akrūra is taking Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma from Vṛndāvan to Mathurā. So today we tried to share with you some of the unlimited glories of this great city of Mathurā and this greater region of Mathurā–Maṇḍala, Vraja–Maṇḍala.
Now we’re going to visit three or four of the temples in this little corner of the city. Two of those temples are the Varāha temples, the Ādi–Varāha and the big, black Varāha. We’ll have to ask you that the temples are small so when you go in, you have to pay quick obeisances and take a quick look because we have to put four hundred devotees in and out of these four temples, so it won’t be too easy. But as always, Rasikā has a plan; Rasikā and Govinda have a plan with Narottama.
So take quick Darśana of RādhāGovinda, then we’ll assemble outside and we’ll send you to the respective temples. And afterwards, we’ll come back here to take Prasādam. Here’s one quick note: “Dear devotees, we are broadcasting our Parikramā through the internet and you can tell your friends and relatives to join us and see the Kīrtanas and hear the lectures every day on Vrindavan.tv. Yeah, Vrindavan.tv, everyone can watch. And also every day we’re posting on my Facebook page the photographs of the day before and very nice videos that AnantaVṛndāvan is taking.
Alright so, Gurudeva opened the door that I wanted to continue to walk through a little bit, before I transition into this pastime. We are here because this is the KārtikParikramā program. And sometimes we forget that it’s named after the month that we’re observing: Kārtik. For most devotees in another part of the world, who are now here in Vṛndāvan, going around to different places every day, all kinds of vows, strict penances, and austerities are naturally performed.
But there are fiveprominent activities that are given by the Gosvāmīs that one should observeduring Kārtik:
Increase our hearing.
Increase our chanting.
Worship Dāmodara, and
Perform fasting: Now that fasting is different for each individual, but the concept is that during the month of Kārtik, we restrict our food intake. We restrict how we take food in and what we take in.
The points that Śrīla Gurudeva has made are very practical; so aside from him being the Spiritual Master of the lion’s share of devotees here, and that in and of itself being sufficient for you to follow those instructions, executing a KārtikVrata in Vṛndāvan during Kārtik also gives you the benefit as well. Actually not only the benefit—one thousand times the benefit! So like he says, when you see that tasty looking pakora or that nice little ice cream bar, just remember, “If I don’t do it, I get a thousand times benefit for not doing it, and I also please Śrīla Gurudeva.”
Alright, so, let’s dive into the nectar of the pastimes here at Kāmyavan a little more. I have a question for all of you. Raise your hands if you answer this. “Before today, how many of you knew that this was the place where Yudhiṣtira had the exchange of questions? How many of you knew that took place here in Kāmyavan? How many did not?” Most of us didn’t realize that this prominent pastime that we are all very familiar with, took place here right in Vṛndāvan.
As we were driving in our caravan of cars and buses, we asked directions, and the locals were like, “Okay, well which Kuṇḍa? There are so many Kuṇḍas, which one you want to go to?” One of the Kuṇḍas in this area is called Dharma–Kuṇḍa. Now we all know the five Pāṇḍava brothers: Yudhiṣtira, Arjuna, then Bhīma, then Nakula, then Sahadeva. These five, they were pretty much inseparable, especially when they were incognito or going out into the forest or any of these activities. They were always very close with each other. One day, four of the brothers: Bhīma, Arjuna, Nakula, and Sahadeva, decided that they would go out for a walk into the forest, and Yudhiṣtira didn’t feel like going that day for some particular reason.
They went out walking in this Kāmyavan area, and as happens when you hike for a fair amount of time, you become a little thirsty. So the boys became a little thirsty and they came upon a Kuṇḍa, which was called DharmaKuṇḍa. Then first Bhīma, he went to drink water and a voice in the sky said, “Stop! Before you can take this water from my Kuṇḍa, you must answer my questions.” Now we know Bhīma’s a pretty powerful, strong guy. He’s thinking, “You know, I am Bhīma, I just want a glass of water here, not even a handful, just a palm-full of water, I don’t have to listen to you.” So he took the palm-full of water— [sound of drinking water]—fell over dead.
Arjuna came, he went to the lake, and he saw, “There is my brother Bhīma, he’s dead!” But he was also overcome by thirst, and he went to take water first before he investigated. And as he knelt at the lake and put his hands into the Kuṇḍa, the voice again came from the sky, “Stop! Before you can drink this water from my Kuṇḍa, you must answer my questions.” Uncharacteristically for Arjuna, he also just blew off the voice, took a palm-full of water; he also fell over dead. We have got two out of the five Pāṇḍavas no longer there.
Sahadeva then comes next. The same scenario repeats itself; he goes to take a drink, he’s told to stop, he takes it anyway, falls over dead. And finally the fifth of the Pāṇḍavas, Nakula comes also, the same exact scenario; sees that his brothers have fallen dead, goes to take a drink of water, is told to stop, takes the drink anyway, and also dead.
Now after some time, the four brothers have not returned to the house, so Yudhiṣtira, he’s the oldest; he’s kind of looking out for the rest of them, he becomes a little concerned. He goes out in search of his brothers, “Where are they? Why haven’t they come back?” And he sees that “There are all four of my brothers lying side by side next to this Kuṇḍa. What possibly could have happened? They are the Pāṇḍava brothers!”
As he is pondering this question, the celestial voice again comes from the sky, “I own this Kuṇḍa, and your brothers tried to drink from this Kuṇḍa without following my request. I told them to first answer my question, then they could take water, but they did not obey, so they died. This is the suitable reaction for one who steals the property of another. But you, Yudhiṣtira, you’re the older, wiser brother, so I will ask you the questions, and if you answer them, I will revive your brothers.”
One hundred questions! Now Gurudeva did say we will sit here all day, right? Someone want to keep count? [laughs] There are ten that are very important, so I’ve taken those ten instead of the one hundred. You can go to the Mahābhārata on your own and read the one hundred questions; they are listed there.
1) The first question that Yudhiṣtira is asked, “Who makes the sun rise and ascend into the skies? Who moves around the sun? Who makes the sun set on the horizon? What is the true nature of the sun? And where is the sun established?”
Now if I were taking count, I’d say that’s about six questions right there. But because they all deal with the topic of the sun, the voice in the sky was able to present them as one question; and besides, if somebody’s got your brother’s lives in their hands, you’re not likely to argue fine points of topics with them. Yudhiṣtira gives the answer: “Brahmā makes the sun rise and ascend into the sky. The collection of gods circumambulates the sun. Dharma or truthfulness causes the sun to set. Therefore, truth is actually the sun and the sun is established only by truth.” So satisfaction was given, so the next question was asked.
2) “What instills Divinity in a Kṣatriya? What is the quality of virtuosity in a Kṣatriya? What is the human-like quality of a Kṣatriya? And what is the conduct that is akin to non-virtuosity in the person of a Kṣatriya?”
So Yudhiṣtira gives the following answers: “The Divinity of a Kṣatriya is the art of archery. The offering of oblations is the quality of virtuosity found in Kṣatriya. The only human-like quality found in Kṣatriya is fear. And abandoning people who are under the protection of Kṣatriya is the non-virtuous activity that a Kṣatriya can perform. Alright, the answers are satisfactory, he moves on to the next question.
3) “What is that thing which is like a Mantra in a performance of a Yajña? Who is the performer of rites and ceremonies during the Yajña? Who accepts the offerings and oblations of the Yajña? And what is that which even the performance of a Yajña cannot transgress?” Yudhiṣtira thought and gave the following answers: “Breath is to be taken like a Mantra in the performance of a Yajña. Mind is the one that performs all the rites and activities of the Yajña. Only the ślokas accept the oblations of the Yajña. And the Yajña cannot be surpassed by the ṛṣis. [How do you say this? The transgression of this cannot be—you can’t surpass the potency of a Yajña except through ṛṣis]. Again, the answers were satisfactory, moves on to the next question.
4) “What is heavier than the Earth, higher than the heavens, faster than the wind, and more numerous than straws?” Yudhiṣtira had no problem answering this one, “One’s own mother is heavier than the Earth, one’s own father is higher than the heavens, the mind is faster than the wind, and only our worries are more numerous than the blades of grass.” That’s a good one to remember, I see some of you writing it down, that’s the one you want to remember.
5) The next question: “Who is the friend of the traveler? Who is the friend of one who is ill and dying?” Yudhiṣtira thought for a moment: “The friend of the traveler is his companion. You need look no farther than Indradyumna Swami and Baḍa–Hari for that answer. The physician is the friend of one who is sick, and the dying man’s friend is charity.”
6) The next questions; “What is that which when it is renounced makes one lovable?” And what is it, which, if it is renounced, makes one happy and wealthy?” So what is it that we can renounce that makes us loved by all?
Yudhiṣtira gave a very good answer. “Our pride! By renouncing our desire, we become wealthy and by renouncing avarice, or bad attitudes towards others, we become happy.” That’s also a good one. “You will become loved by others if you give up your pride, you become wealthy if you give up your desire to attain things, and you become happy if you stop finding fault in others.”
7) Next question: “What enemy is invincible? What is an incurable disease? And what sort of man is noble and what sort of man is not noble?”
Yudhiṣtira was very quick to answer this question, as well: “Anger is the invincible enemy of everyone. Covetousness (To intensely desire, to hanker) is the disease that cannot be cured. That person is noble who considers the well being of all living entities and that person is not noble who has no mercy on others.” When we think of someone who has the well-being of all living entities, can we not think of Śrīla Prabhupāda? I mean so much difficulty; he was living here in this wonderful place, and left it all just for our benefit.
8) Next Yudhiṣtira was asked, “Who is truly happy?” Which of us here feels they are truly happy? Who? [Devotees respond] Really? Only just like three or four of you feel that you’re truly happy? You are in the lap of Vṛndāvan in the association of the most exalted Vaiṣṇavas, chanting the Holy Names of the Lord, of course you are happy! But Yudhiṣtira gave a different answer.
“One is happy who has no debts. Not only financial but debts and obligations to anyone.”
So these are among the top-ten. Everybody’s got a top ten list, top-ten this, top-ten that; so these are the top ten questions. And this tenth one is one that as Gurudeva said earlier Śrīla Prabhupāda referred to many times in his lectures.
9] “What is the most amazing and wondrous thing?” Yudhiṣtira gave a very appropriate answer which Śrīla Prabhupāda liked to repeat many times in his lectures. It’s worded different ways according to the particular translation.
“Day after day, countless people die, yet those who are living wish that they would live forever. Is there anything that can be a greater wonder than that?”
This was the answer that the personality of this voice which we will soon find out was actually looking for. This was the big prize. It’s like the big bell went off; you won the big prize, and the bells ring, and the trumpets blare, and you are the winner, you got it all.
In this way Yudhiṣtira finally gets what? He gets to get a drink of water? All of this for palm-full of water? No, you have to remember that Yudhiṣtira had a better deal with the voice: that his four brothers would come back to life. So as the five Pāṇḍavas are standing there together on the banks of DharmaKuṇḍa, the voice reveals to them who he really is. It is none other than the Lord of Dharma: Yamarāja Himself. And Yudhiṣtira of course is Yamarāja’s son. Yamarāja is so pleased with the cooperative agreeable nature of Yudhiṣtira’s approach to this that he gives his blessings to them. He said, “Since you have agreed to the laws of Dharma, Dharma will always protect you five brothers.” Then he gave an additional blessing which would be particularly useful to them, “During the period in which you would have to be incognito, hiding for fourteen years, no one would be able to recognize you.”
Because you may remember during that famous chess match when they lost, everything was gone and they were banished into the forest. The condition was, “Not only are you banished for fourteen years, but if anybody recognizes you in the last year, fourteen more years of banishment.” When you think about it, that’s really a pretty harsh punishment. I mean, the five Pāṇḍavas are like the most famous people of the time, everybody knows who the five Pāṇḍavas are. Of course we know that they were successful because they each had their own particular skill and their own particular way of taking advantage of curses they received, and qualities and characteristics they had by which nobody did recognize them.
This is a pastime also that happened here in Kāmyavan. Kāmyavan is known for the pastimes of the Divine Couple, and for the pastimes of the Lord’s devotees who have resided here, and for the pastimes of some particularly short-tempered long-haired sages [DurvāsāMuni].
Sometimes people, you know, later after this incident, Yudhiṣtira would be asked, “You know, a hundred questions. I mean, that’s like an A+.” Now we get this music [laughter at music in the background]. Anyway, Yudhiṣtira had a very good reply, you know. He would say that Dharma protects those who protect Dharma. If you uphold your Dharma, Dharma will in turn protect you. This is an important thing to remember, that we all have a particular quality, a particular religious responsibility as Vaiṣṇavasand if we embrace those qualities of Vaiṣṇavas and are very true to them then they will also protect us as we go about our life’s work. There is one of those thoughtful phrases you see posted in different places around and it says, “You know, your honesty is who you are when nobody is watching.”
So this is the important thing to remember that the qualities that we’re supposed to represent as a devotee; we should be embracing those, and then these same qualities will be our own strength.In this way, Yamarāja served a very interesting purpose with Yudhiṣtira; a purpose that’s benefited by all of us today.
Yamarāja is one of the twelve Mahājanas. These are the personalities that give us our understanding and our standards in KṛṣṇaConsciousness. We can greatly benefit from that. Now for the non-devotee, for those not interested in their spiritual upliftment, Yamarāja has one purpose, he’s the lord of death. He’s feared by everyone who is not in their devotional position and he is the source of anxiety and stress when an individual who is not a devotee is leaving this world. But for those of us who are taking those instructions that he gives in our KṛṣṇaConscious development, he actually becomes our friend.
Aside from that, so many of the devotional practices we do daily protect us from Yamarāja. It is said that, “One who wears the Tilaka on the forehead, has the Tulasi beads on their neck, who sings the nice song of Tulasi, who waters TulasiDevī, such a person never sees the lord of death.” This is why devotees don’t fear Yamarāja. They take him as an instructor. Now generally you wouldn’t go to the lord of death and seek instructions on your devotional practices. But because he serves the dual purpose as a Mahājana, his instructions, his directions are very beneficial to the living entities. Our Ācāryas, they give us a little bit of guidance, they say that there are actually three things that we can go to Yamarāja and ask for. Because he is a Mahājana, he’s capable and interested in giving us these three things. Do you want to know what those three things are? Get your pens and papers ready?
The first one is that we can ask him for good Sādhana. Isn’t this what we all desire? I mean, we all have our standard of devotional service that we’re executing, but couldn’t it be a little bit better? Couldn’t I read just little bit more? Couldn’t I chant my Japa just little bit better? Couldn’t I be a little more attentive to only eating KṛṣṇaPrasādam? Couldn’t I make more of an effort not to fault-find and criticize others? These are all practices of our Sādhana that we can ask Yamarāja, “Please help me develop these.”
The second thing we can ask Yamarāja for: “Cleanliness.” Inside and outside. Outside, of course, you take Prasādam and wash your hands. It’s funny! I was just giving a class in Alachua to the children’s school. I go there weekly and speak about the VaiṣṇavaĀcāryas to the different grade levels of kids. I was talking about Mādhavācārya last week and how during the time of Mādhavācārya it was the latter part of the middle ages in Europe, and the one thing we have from the middle ages is the black plague. This comes about primarily because of the lack of cleanliness that existed at that time. When I asked the following question to each of the grade levels from the little five-year-olds to the fifteen-year-olds, “Which of you had a shower or a bath this morning?” every single one of the kids raised their hand. I said, “Which of you had a shower or bath yesterday morning?” and in all the grade levels, every single kid raised their hand. I said, “Which of you will have a shower or bath tomorrow morning?” and they all raised their hands. Then I told them, “The thing is that in the middle Ages in Europe, they bathed, oh you know, once every two weeks, once a month maybe?” They all had the same reaction, “Eeeeeee!” [indicating displeasure] That was it; they considered it to be a horrible thing! Śrīla Prabhupāda, if he would drink water, he would rinse his hands and mouth, so cleanliness outside. Cleanliness inside by being very thoughtful of what we’re thinking and where our mind is dragging our consciousness.
The final thing that a Sādhaka is encouraged to ask from Yamarāja is for the ability to control our senses especially at the time of temptation. In this way we can be very, very thoughtful of these three points; and these are things that can help us in our devotional life; and this is part of the whole pastime that took place here in Kāmyavan at DharmaKuṇḍa.
Okay, alright, so we’ll finish there. Thank you very much, and we can try and remember these things, as we have our Prasādam, how to be clean after we have our Prasādam. So that means that we want to leave the place very neat after you’re finished. Don’t leave a mess, we are Vaiṣṇavas, we have a reputation to take care of. Thank you for your tolerance, and your time, and I pray you give me your blessings.
It’s even getting more cloudy, which is nice because it’s even cooler than it was earlier. And the weather is going to start changing—that means it going to sometimes be hot, and sometimes even cold. This is not deep spiritual philosophical wisdom, it’s just kind of practical knowledge that you have to be careful not to get sick in the changing weather patterns.
I think when everyone goes out now, you should be wearing a sweater, some socks or maybe even a hat, because if it gets cold, you should be covered. You shouldn’t get sick, because once your immune system goes down, then you can get something more serious. And when it is sunny, be careful not to get too much sun. There’s a big difference between the sun in Russia—Moscow, Paris, and New York—and the sun in India. It’s a very intense sun here that can deplete you and make you sick. Well, you could get heat stroke or even sun stroke.
One golden rule in India is you should only drink bottled water and you never eat outside. When we come to places like this, we are providing nice Prasādam. When we’re back at the Kṛṣṇa–BalarāmaMandir, they have Prasādam every afternoon there. But don’t eat out at sweet shops.
‘vāco vegaṁ manasaḥ krodha-vegaṁ jihvā-vegam’
[NOI – verse 1]
Don’t eat out of the sweet shops. Don’t eat ice cream from those little carts they carry around. When they don’t sell it one year, they put it in the freezer and they bring it out the next year. They don’t sell—the next year’s ice cream is ten-twelve years old. [Laughter] I’m exaggerating, but be careful.
Don’t eat from the food stands, like when we’re at the bus stops on the way to Jaipur. Those little stands—they sell yummy samosas and pakoras and khachori. But you don’t know who cooked there, where it was cooked, what pot it was cooked in.
vāco vegaṁ manasaḥ krodha-vegaṁ
If you’re hungry—eat fruits. If you wash the fruits, it’s generally safe, especially fruits that have a skin on them like oranges or bananas. You can have them. You can eat extra fruits and nuts. You can get some nuts in packages, that’s pretty safe. But generally, we will be providing nice Prasādam at Noon. And at the temple they have Prasādam and many of you can cook where you’re staying. You have in your lodging or apartments, you can cook Prasādam there. I said this last year and then ten minutes after the talk, I walked outside, devotees were buying ice cream out of the little box, for five rupees or whatever. Be careful!
Be careful of the animals. I know the cows are really cute and especially the little calves, but every calf has a Mommy looking after that little calf. The Mommy may come and charge you. Respect the cows from a distance.
How many of you have ever been on the Polish festival tour in Poland during July and August? Oh, wow! [Polish word]. It’s intense, but this is ten times more intense. This is the first day, it’s real easy. But we get up quite early, we are driving, we are out, we are walking around everything. So when you get back, it’s good just to relax in the evening. Maybe you can go to the temple and offer the lamp, like that, and so forth, but be careful not to stay up too late. Don’t eat late at night.
Your main purpose in being here is going on Parikramā and hearing the Kathā and participating in the Kīrtana and seeing all these wonderful places. If you stay up at night and socialize, you’re walking and talking and sitting, looking around, then you go to bed late and you gradually become more and more tired, and you won’t be able to keep up with us.
We are speaking from many years of experience, like forty years of being in India, having survived. If you get sick, let my management team know. RasikāŚiromani, she’s got nothing to do [Laughter]. You can tell her, we’ll find a doctor for you. We have the best doctors. If you get sick, take care of it immediately. Just let us know, and we’ll take care of you. If you get a little cut, you take care of it immediately. We have antibiotic creams you can buy over the counter here. In America, we come with “Neosporin”, it has antibiotics in it. You can also get something similar in all the pharmacies here. You get a cut, immediately put some antibiotic cream and a band-aid. Don’t let it go more than 2-3 days. Even a mosquito bite, if you scratch it, then it gets infected, so put on some antibiotic cream, put a band-aid on, you’ll be okay.
Another very intelligent thing to do while you are in India: we have this hand wash, the antibacterial hand wash they sell all over the world, you can even get it in India. Whenever I’m anywhere, I’m all the time just cleaning my hands with this liquid, because you don’t know what you’re touching when you’re going on, this and that, and the animals and the sides of the building. If you keep your hands clean with this disinfectant, and then when you touch your mouth, you won’t transfer a disease. I travel with this everywhere in the world. There are different kinds of it.
In the West, in KṛṣṇaConsciousness, we follow the rule: eat to your full satisfaction. In India, we have a different rule: under-eat. Especially don’t eat too much at night. Don’t go to MVT, have a pizza, think, “I’m going to sleep really good.” And everyone’s going to probably get a little diarrhea. We’re being quite open here. Fast; just don’t eat anything for a few days, just drink water. Don’t eat, take a little yogurt; it will cool your system down.
And the monkeys are so cute. We heard how Kṛṣṇa’s playing with His monkeys here in Vṛndāvan. Rāma had a whole army of monkeys, but you’re not God. The monkeys, they just want to be rascals, and they will steal your bags, they will steal your glasses. I’ve had at least 26 pairs of glasses stolen in the last 40 years. Watch out for the monkeys! There’s one monkey, I see him, he has stolen six bananas in the last five hours here, and I don’t know where he is now. Also, always be respectful to the locals. Never argue with anyone: rickshaw-valas, never get in any arguments. One last point, as far as our Parikramā is concerned, always be on time. It all starts with getting up early in the morning. I know it’s not easy sometimes, but the buses are going to leave at 5:30 am, maybe ten or twenty minutes later. But it’s always good to be on time, as everything functions smoothly, and it saves everyone’s time.
All this is not as interesting as Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes, and stories about DurvāsāMuni, but it’s practical advice that will make your Parikramā experience much smoother, healthier and enjoyable. Now during my talk this morning, I committed a great offense. Without knowing it, I told the pastime that CaturātmāPrabhu was going to tell, about the boy that DurvāsāMuni cursed to be a crocodile. He has been waiting months to tell that story! So during Prasādam, he was practically in tears. I said, “What’s wrong?” He said, “You told my story!” Seriously!
So I said, “You will have nothing to say this afternoon?”. So I got my computer out, and I had one more story I was going to tell if I had more time, so I’m going to give him one more story that I had that he can tell. I actually gave him my notes on the computer and he has been memorizing them since Prasādam. But of course, it’s not my story; it’s a beautiful pastime which I touched on earlier, about the ten questions that Yudhisthira answered to Yamarāja. It’s a very important, instructive pastime and Caturātmā is an excellent preacher. He’s a very popular class-giver, so with great pleasure, we turn the program over to Caturātmā, who will tell this wonderful pastime. Because I just disappointed him and made him cry, please give him a big round of applause as he comes forward.