The Mysteries of Vṛndā Kuṇḍa
– By His Holiness Śrīla Indradyumna Swami
Before we begin this morning, I would like to acknowledge our musical section. I don’t know if many of you noticed; it’s kind of a little bit in the background like it is supposed to be, but our musical section adds a lot to the mellow and to the mood and to the feeling of these wonderful Kīrtanas we are having every day. Of course Kīrtana doesn’t depend on musical instruments; it is the heart of the devotees when they are chanting. And it’s a wonderful addition.
As we were driving here today, one devotee sent me a photo of a Harināma party in Paris in 1972. And I looked at the photo and I thought, “Wow, everyone is in bliss.” And then, “Oh, I am there too!” I was actually leading the Kīrtana with one of those old clay drums. It must have been years old and there was tape on the head of it, because I remember we had broken the head there, so there was tape and, “Boom, Boom, Boom.” There were two pairs of karatāls and there was no sound system. Imagine no sound system!
I think from 1969 up to about 80, I don’t know, when did we start with a lot of the sound systems? In the early 90’s maybe. I don’t remember, maybe the 80’s. For many, many, many years we had no sound system. It was just the Kīrtana leader’s strong voice, just mṛdungas and karatāls. But it was wonderful; we actually pioneered the Saṅkīrtan movement in that way for many years. But later on I think Prahlāda was the first one to introduce that accordion. That is very nice with various musical instruments, and especially when they are played by talented musicians and whom are devotees of the Lord. It adds a very wonderful element to the Kīrtana. It helps us focus more on the chanting of:
Just like you have like a green emerald as the main jewel in the ring, but you have little tiny diamonds around it. So the diamonds accent the beauty of the emerald. Similarly our musicians, they accent the beauty and the focus on the Holy Names. So we are very grateful to all of them.
All right, here is Murari Kṛṣṇa from Kazakhstan [clapping], our Premānanda Kīrtana on the trumpet from South Africa [clapping], our Śeṣa-Dāsi on the flute from Croatia [clapping], and our newly initiated Gāndharvikā Sundarī—the girl from heaven [“Haribol!”, clapping].
oṁ ajñāna-timirāndhasya jñānānjana-śalākayā
cakṣur unmīlitaṁ yena tasmai śrī-gurave namaḥ
śrī-caitanya-mano-‘bhīṣṭaṁ sthāpitaṁ yena bhū-tale
svayaṁ rūpaḥ kadā mahyaṁ dadāti sva-padāntikam”
jaya śrī-kṛṣṇa-caitanya prabhu-nityānanda
śrī-advaita gadādhara śrīvāsādi-gaura-bhakta vṛnda
Śrī Vṛndā Devī ki – jaya!
Śrī Vṛndā Kuṇḍa ki –jaya!
Last year, Mother Daivi Śakti gave an historic account of the history of this transcendental place. It was a very beautiful lecture about the glories of Vṛndā-Devī, so we cannot claim to come close even to that today. I have also heard one of my Parikramā Gurus—Dinabandhu Prabhu, very eloquently speak about the glories of Vṛndā-Devī many times. We can only pray for their mercy that we can say something glorifying Vṛndā-Devī today here at this Vṛndā Kuṇḍa. It’s only by some incredible good fortune that we find ourselves here today at—Vṛndā Kuṇḍa, where Śrīmatī Vṛndā-Devī lives. Again, she is one of the five transcendental personalities who allow us to enter this transcendental abode and perhaps one day to live in eternally in Śrī Vṛndāvan Dhām. By now, after so many lectures, you must know those five personalities very well—like your five fingers. You know your five fingers; you know the five personalities, but you can repeat their names after me. It’s a little tradition we have here repeating these transcendental names of the forests, the personalities.
- Gopeśvara Mahādeva,
- Govardhana Hill,
- Paurṇamāsī, or sometimes it’s said— Vraja Reṇu, the dust of Vraja.
This is where Vṛndā-Devī resides and very early every morning Vṛndā-Devī, Paurṇamāsī and Nandamukhī—they meet here and they make plans for the pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa throughout Vraja–Maṇḍala. Vṛndā-Devī is of course a very popular personality in ISKCON; her pictures are everywhere and there are even some deities of Vṛndā-Devī now. Of course, here, there is a very beautiful Deity of Vṛndā-Devī and she is of a golden complexion, and she wears a dress of a blue color. And she has a parrot. Probably you can hear it in the background. There are lots of green parrots here at Vṛndā Kuṇḍa. She has a pet parrot who is called Dakṣa and it’s her chief messenger. She is very busy in the affairs of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. So in the affairs of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa lots of messages are passed back and forth between Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa and the Gopīs. Even Gopās sometimes help in those pastimes. Lots of messages are going; so these are the parrots that carry the messages.
There is no internet in Goloka Vṛndāvan. There is actually no internet here in Vṛndā Kuṇḍa. I tried to go on the internet and it didn’t work so I thought to maybe get a parrot. This parrot Dakṣa, it’s on her left hand. His specific duty is to fly all over Vṛndāvan and gather information about—like what’s going on in Vṛndāvan. It’s like the original drone. He sees what the Gopīs are doing; he sees what the Gopās are doing; what’s the news of Vṛndāvan; what’s the newest scandal going on? He comes back and reports all that information to Vṛndā–Devī, who assimilates that and uses that to facilitate Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes in various ways in different parts of Vṛndāvan. Of course that’s a big job, so he doesn’t do it alone; he has one hundred thousand (100,000) parrot disciples.
Vṛndā-Devī herself, she has hundreds of thousands of goddesses who are helping her in her service of arranging the pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. Vṛndā-Devī herself works under the direction of Paurṇamāsī. Technically Paurṇamāsī is described in the Gosvāmī literature as the presiding Deity of the internal energy. She is referred to as Yoga-Maya, and she appears as an elderly Gopī, very old and very experienced and very wise. She is the Guru of Vṛndā-Devī, and Paurṇamāsī’s business is to oversee and supervise literally everything that happens here in Vṛndāvan. Things don’t go on by chance here. Everything is orchestrated to the iota to facilitate the loving exchanges between Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa.
I was reading the other day, one Gosvāmī was describing that Vṛndāvan is the original and perfect love story. In loving dealings, to make the loving dealings exciting and relish-able there are all types of intrigues. There is politics; there is deception; there are sometimes spies. In the original, pure love story of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, this is particularly true. Paurṇamāsī, you could say everyday she writes the script for the day. How everything will evolve—that’s the choreography, meaning like the background and so forth and so on. That’s done by Vṛndā-Devī. Paurṇamāsī, Nandamukhī and Vṛndā-Devī—they meet here, they make the story for the day and then Vṛndā, she goes out and she starts choreographing, making like the stage scene for everything to happen.
Just like you have the script, to the theater, then you have the people who are in charge of the stage preparations, like the background, “How the stage is going to look to facilitate the mood of the play?”—that’s the duty of Vṛndā-Devī. She is the choreographer of Vṛndāvan and many of you know of course that the Vṛndāvan forest was originally Vṛndā-Devī’s forest. The Gosvāmīs write that Vṛndā-Devī once performed penances for 60,000 years by the calculation of the demigods—here in Vṛndāvan, in this vana. It was just a vana then, just the forest, Vṛndāvan means—‘Vṛndā’s forest,’ but it was just a vana. To get the blessings of Kṛṣṇa she performed penance here for 60,000 years and then Lord Viṣṇu appeared before her and gave her a very wonderful boon that we all are benefiting from.
Lord Viṣṇu’s boon was that any penances performed here in this forest will quickly fructify and bear excellent results; so of course our process in Kali–Yuga is to abstain from sinful activity and what’s more—to sit and chant:
The results of those, that activity of chanting will very quickly bear fruit and excellent results. You will very quickly achieve Prema or love for Kṛṣṇa. The word spread about the benefits of living in this forest, and everyone started calling it Vṛndā’s vana, it was Vṛndā’s forest. “You go to Vṛndā’s vana—Vṛndā’s forest; and whatever austerities you perform, excellent results will come very quickly.”
Vṛndāvan—Vṛndā’s forest became very famous. But of course a devotee’s vision is that nothing belongs to him or her, everything belongs to the Lord. So we are very happy being the servants, engaging whatever we have in the service of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. The perfect example of that is Vṛndā-Devī who gave her beloved forest, her blessed forest to her mistress—Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī.
Giving gifts and accepting gifts is very much part of the process of devotional service, as described by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī in his Updeshamrta [NOI Verse 4: dadāti pratigṛhṇāti …]. Just like the other day at Rādhā–Kuṇḍa one Bābāji gave me a very, very, very precious gift, some beads that have been handed down ancestrally from his forefathers that were worn by a Bābāji, called Madhusūdan Dāsa Bābāji, who was the Veṣa Guru, or the Bābāji Guru of the Jagannātha Dāsa Bābāji. While we were discussing, I said, “Bābāji, these are extremely valuable, very spiritually potent.” He said, “Yes, that’s why I am giving them unto you.” This is the Vaiṣṇava. Prabhupāda told me personally one time, he gave me his dhoti to encourage me. He said, “A gift from a Vaiṣṇava is a very special thing.”
In the Bhakti-Rasāmṛta-Sindhu, Rūpa Gosvāmī describes that we should give gifts to the Deity. We shouldn’t just give something insignificant. We should give the best of what we have to the Deity because that’s a sign of love. Love means that you give the best to the beloved. It’s an expression that you give the best to your lover. For Vṛndā, what was most dear to her? She performed austerities for 60,000 years and she got the blessing of this forest, so she gave that forest to her beloved, her mistress Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī and then Rādhārāṇī became Queen of Vṛndāvan. That’s the history of this great forest within Vraja-Maṇḍala. This is the history of the forest. It was a gift of Vṛndā to Rādhā.
Again Vṛndā-Devī has a service, when we are all servants of Kṛṣṇa, we are very happy to be the servant. We don’t want to be the master. I heard Prahlāda say one time: we don’t want to become the sugar, we want to taste the sugar. We don’t want to be the master, we are very happy being the servant, and so we are begging for service every day—almost two hours a day:
Essentially, what is it? “Please give me service. I am a servant. It’s my constitutional position; it’s my intrinsic nature to serve. I have been serving maya for so long, so please now give me service to your lotus feet.” All the liberated souls, they are servants and they have wonderful service. Vṛndā-Devī’s service is to choreograph the pastimes here in Braja. Because the setting facilitates the mood. Just like we heard the other day, when Kṛṣṇa was to descend into this world 5,000 years ago, He asked Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī to come, but She wouldn’t come without the setting of Vṛndāvan, because you need that setting to facilitate the mood. [Rādhā:] “We need the Yamunā River, we need Govardhan Hill; we need the Vṛndāvan forest to facilitate our loving exchanges.” So the setting is very important.
Just like Varṣāṇā-Rāṇī, she purchased one of the apartments in that building near to where we live, and it’s empty now, but she is very carefully maintaining it. You know, she is going to Delhi a few times, and thinking about which furniture to have there. Which curtains? What the colors will be? It’s important for all of us to do that when we have a new house. We very carefully choose the setting that we want to live in, which reflects our mood. Just like where we are right now—isn’t this a wonderful setting for having Kīrtana and Kṛṣṇa Kathā? It’s better than being in some concrete building with no windows, no air, and no greenery. This is a perfect setting, so I think you get the point.
Vry early before the sun rises, Paurṇamāsī, Yogamaya, and Nandamukhī and Vṛndā—they sit here and this is their sevā. They want to facilitate deep loving exchanges. Paurṇamāsī writes the script, “Okay, They will meet today here and then this Jaṭilā, she will come; Kuṭilā will come and the Gopīs have to turn away and Kṛṣṇa has to hide” and—like that, she is making the script. Then Vṛndā-Devī is thinking, “So, I think for that particular scene we will have this arrangement and the next scene, we will have that arrangement” and like this—they think. Then the sun rises and the whole thing unfolds and Vṛndā-Devī’s managing all the choreography until midnight. “What type of trees will be there? What type of flowering bushes will be there and where they will be and what perfume they will have? What scent they will have? When that scent will pass by the noses of the Divine Couple? What type of animals will enter the scene? When they will exit? What type of birds will be there? What songs they will sing? Which melody and which meter?” Just like you can see if you are sitting here, the musicians are playing music but I see them always talking and Śeṣā, she is always writing down, you know A, B, C chords, like this. They are always like changing in a way, looking at each other and smiling and making some gesture—and then “Boom”, nice music composition comes out, and as we chant that melody, we become enlivened. This is practice; we are participating in Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes eventually.
“Which peacocks will dance? And how they will dance? Which bumblebees will take part in the pastime over here; another set of bumblebees there? How they will hum? How high they will hum? How low they will hum?” It facilitates Mādhurya Rasa. In Vṛndāvan, there is the parental Rasa, there is friendship Rasa, there are various Rasas. Rūpa Gosvāmī says, “Actually all the Rasas although they are different, ultimately they all facilitate the Mādhurya Rasa—the loving pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa.” That is, the predominating mood in Vṛndāvan is Mādhurya Rasa.
Some Gopīs are assigned to cook, so as soon as they get the order—boom!—right early in the morning they start cooking and then the younger Gopīs who are serving them, they get to take the refreshments to Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa at exactly the right moment, and then take it away. Everything is choreographed. This is Vṛndā-Devī’s service. Would you like to participate? Would you like to help Vṛndā-Devī? [“Haribol!”] Then you have to let her know, you have to let her mistress Rādhārāṇī know, you have to let Kṛṣṇa know. And how to let them know? By chanting:
As one of our speakers said the other day, “Chanting japa is not about finishing your rounds, it’s about actually begging for sevā, begging for service.” This is how we beg for service. “My dear Lord, My dear energy of the Lord, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, please engage me in your service.” What does it mean? It means like this, the details of this type of Vraja–Sevā, this is what we are praying for. You have to focus, you can’t let your mind wander. If you are saying to someone, you know, [action/voice: showing laziness, sleepy state]: “Uh…Can I please … Uh … Can I please serve you?” They are not going to take you very seriously. But if you are begging, [pleading voice]: “Please, please can I render you some sevā? Please, I will do anything, nothing for me, everything for you.” “All right, come on.” Yeah, that’s japa, that’s Kīrtana, that’s Saṅkīrtan and if that is our practice, our Sādhana, then it will become natural to us. We are always begging, begging, begging for—so that one day Kṛṣṇa is going to say, “Okay.” Kṛṣṇa’s like—there is that song: “Knock, knock, knock on heaven’s door” [knocking sound]. Someone’s knocking on your door, okay—open the door, “What do you want?” “Sevā, service? na dhanaṁ na janaṁ na sundarīṁ kavitāṁ ….” It’s the mood that is important, the consciousness—Kṛṣṇa Consciousness.
His Holiness Śacīnandana Swami often says especially during our japa, “The 3 p’s: posture, pronunciation and prayer—the mood of the chanting.” It’s very easy to capture that mood, to imbibe that mood in the atmosphere of Vṛndāvan, that’s why we come here and I am so impressed actually when I sit back here and watch many of you chanting with abandon. It means just with no ego, just calling out for mercy. I see you just absorbed, and it’s facilitated by the Kīrtanas of Mādhava and Baḍa-Hari Prabhu and Śrī Prahlāda of course and our expert musicians. But this mood here—just it is so easy to pray for mercy here, to pray for service. This is why we come to Vṛndāvan. I am watching you and you all are like this. This is the mood, and actually you can see it in the videos, Ananta Vṛndāvan’s videos, you see, he captures that moment, so many devotees just calling out. This is begging for service.
Our Śyāmala-Kiśorī, she is sitting there. I always look at her during the Kīrtanas, or during the classes. She is like sitting on the edge of her seat absorbing every drop of nectar. She is a nectar hound; she got that from her mom and dad. Thus we want to help Vṛndā-Devī even in the smallest way. The smallest service is more valuable than the biggest position in this material world. Just to show you how expert Vṛndā-Devī is in this choreography, I will give you an example [of] how she does it. Many of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes take place under the cover of darkness. They meet secretly in some particular place in Vṛndāvan and with the Gopīs and have Their transcendental amorous loving pastimes.
Of course there are many obstacles to overcome because They are not married, so it’s not allowed in Vedic culture. But it’s all transcendental of course. But there are many obstacles which make Their final meeting very fulfilling and very satisfying. One of the obstacles to the night-time meeting is the full moon. They are supposed to meet secretly, go away from home and meet secretly, but when the full moon [is out], everything is illuminated. This is an obstacle, so Vṛndā-Devī has to think, how are we going to overcome this obstacle? How am I going to choreograph this scene so They can facilitate Their loving exchanges? What she does is with her transcendental magic wand, Vṛndā-Devī makes the whole forest white. The trees are white, the leaves are white, the flowers are white, the ground is white, and she arranges that Rādhārāṇī has a beautiful full white outfit so as She is passing through this background of whiteness, you can’t see Her, you can’t perceive Her. And Kṛṣṇa is also dressed in white and so They meet. And this is how one is meant to use one’s intelligence in Kṛṣṇa Consciousness.
On the dark moon night, meaning when there is practically no moon. There is never “no moon” but it’s a very tiny sliver—everything is very, very dark. So if Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa were to wear those white outfits, they would stand out and they would be caught by Jaṭilā and Kuṭilā, Abhimanyu, or somebody. Thus Vṛndā-Devī arranges everything dark; she uses her transcendental magic wand, and then everything is very dark—the trees, the flowers, the ground, everything is very dark. Rādhārāṇī wears a very beautiful dark outfit and similarly Kṛṣṇa, and so like this. This is how she arranges everything and one of our Ācāryas, he said that just as Rādhārāṇī never cooks the same preparation for Kṛṣṇa twice, so Vṛndā-Devī never makes the same choreography for any particular pastime the same twice. Always new and always fresh—this is Vraja.
She is a very kind and compassionate personality, like Vaiṣṇavas are. She really embodies the mood of her supreme Rādhārāṇī by embodying, imbibing the same mood as Rādhārāṇī. The residents of the spiritual world actually want all created beings to participate in these pastimes. They are not thinking, “Oh, this is just for us and to hell with everyone else.” “No.” They are hoping that eventually everyone will come back to Godhead. Because the more, the merrier. It facilitates Kṛṣṇa’s enjoyment if all His sons and daughters are back home, back to Godhead. Just like Kavirāj Gosvāmī describes in Caitanya Caritāmṛta, how Lord Caitanya is very anxious for the conditioned souls to become Kṛṣṇa conscious and go back to the spiritual world. Prabhupāda said, in a purport, “We should try to relieve the Lord’s anxiety by spreading the Kṛṣṇa Conscious movement,” so this is the mood of the Lord Himself, so certainly it’s the mood of His devotees, both those in the spiritual sky and those who find themselves here in this world.
Just like His Holiness Gaur Govinda Mahārāja, he once said that there are two types of liberated souls, meaning Vaiṣṇavas in the spiritual sky, who leave that place and come to this world. There is the one who out of his own feeling of compassion, leaves the spiritual world to come here to preach, and those special souls who are requested by the Lord Himself—those special ambassadors—the chosen sons, so to speak, like Prabhupāda who was asked by Kṛṣṇa to come to this material world to reclaim the fallen souls back home back to Godhead.”
My Godbrother Bhavānanda Prabhu told me that Prabhupāda told him personally, “I did not want to come to this nasty place; I did not want to come to this nasty place, but Kṛṣṇa told me, ‘You go, and write books on the science of Kṛṣṇa Consciousness and I will arrange everything for you’, and so it came to pass.” The result is that all of us are sitting here today, so that was originally the desire of the Lord facilitated through the service and surrender of His pure devotee, Śrīla Prabhupāda. Although these great souls are fully immersed in this Nitya-Līlā, this means the eternal pastimes in a very intimate loving relationship with Kṛṣṇa are always expanding. It’s not just limited. The emotions are deepening and increasing, ad infinitum forever. Sometimes they leave that place and they come here to this world of darkness and ignorance.
What is that song that Patit Uddhāraṇa —my Godbrother wrote about Prabhupāda?
Oh Paramhansa of the nectar lake
Did You Your own True Love forsake,
Leaving His fresh and fragrant lotus breast
To come to this world of birth and death?
Or is this a helping hand You lend
While in this world of matter You transcend?
I am perplexed. Please, let it be known:
Have You come to take me home?
It’s not just some devotee, off to the side, who has some lesser service or insignificant service. Everyone has a very important service; everyone’s service is valued and essential to the loving pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. Any soul who leaves that world and comes to this world we must honor and give our lives for their service and their mission. Actually the truth is the greatest souls come, the greatest of the great.
‘śrī-kṛṣṇa-caitanya rādhā-kṛṣṇa nahe anya’
Who is Caitanya Mahāprabhu, who descended into this world 500 years ago? He is the combined form of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, and why have They come? For the purpose of delivering the souls of Moscow and New York and San Francisco and Chicago and Alice-Springs and you know—this is amazing.
Therefore it should not be surprising for us to learn, although we already know but, to just repeat the glories, that this Gopī Vṛndā-Devī who gave her forest, her Vana, i.e., Vṛndā’s Vana—to Rādhārāṇī and choreographs all the intimate loving pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, is busy every morning, making these plans and taking some of the information from Dakṣa her parrot. She also comes to this world of men to facilitate our deliverance not just back to Vaikuṇṭha, to the spiritual world, but specifically to Goloka Vṛndāvan to participate in these eternal pastimes. That is Vṛndā-Devī, who appears in this world as Tulasī Mahārāṇī—the Tulasī plant. At this point, it would be appropriate to have His Holiness Bhakti Viśvambhara Mādhava Mahārāja speak, because he is a strong advocate of worshiping the Tulasī plant. He is a friend of mine. We don’t meet often, but I call him, Avadhūta Mahārāja, he is totally Avadhūta. Very learned in scriptures, very expert preacher, Śloka–vālā, and he has deep affection for Vṛndāvan and Tulasī, so much so that he called me up on the phone the other day. We were driving out somewhere and he chastised me. He said, “It’s Ekadāsī. You should be staying back in your Āśrama in front of a Tulasī plant chanting all day long:
Ekadāsī is a day for making spiritual advancement. You should be honoring Śrīmatī Tulasī Devī and chanting your Japa all day.” “Okay, Mahārāja, sorry.” I said, “I can’t turn around—I have got six buses, 300 devotees.” He said, [in a scolding/jolly voice:] “Okay, but next time.” [Laughter] I said, “Yes, next time, Mahārāja! Avadhūta Swami, next Ekadāsī I will chant in front of a Tulasī plant all day long.” He said, [in a louder voice:] “All day long and all night!” [Laughter]
We all know the glories of Śrīmatī Tulasī Devī and the importance of taking proper care of the Tulasī plant. Śrīla Prabhupāda introduced the worship of Tulasī very early in our movement and she is central to our practices. Every morning, we are meant to worship the Tulasī plant and the best example of worshiping her was established by Haridāsa Ṭhākur, who we always see chanting his japa in front of Tulasī–Devī. Actually in the Caitanya Bhāgavata, it’s stated that whenever Lord Caitanya would chant japa, his disciples would make sure that a Tulasī plant was next to him. It’s also stated actually Mahāprabhu has quoted in Caitanya Bhāgavata, He used to say that, “Just as a fish cannot live when taken out of water so I cannot remain alive in separation from Tulasī Mahārāṇī.”
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu ki – Jaya!
Śrī Vṛndā-Devī ki –Jaya!
Tulasī Mahārāṇī ki – Jaya!
Golokera Prema-Dhan Harināma Saṅkīrtan Yajña ki –Jaya!
Of course, there is more to be said about any of these personalities, these places, these pastimes, but I am personally hankering for the Bhajan that’s coming up. Our beloved Baḍa Hari Prabhu is going to sing the Vṛndāṣṭakam —the eight prayers glorifying Vṛndā-Devī, glorifying Tulasī Mahārāṇī, as written, as coming from the heart of Viśvanāth Cakravārtī Ṭhākur.
But before we do that I would like to share with you one pastime that I recently read which shows how much Vṛndā-Devī’s involved in orchestrating all Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes—a very sweet pastime. Or if this talk is going on too long, I can save it for next year. How many of you would like to hear this pastime next year? [No one raises their hands and there is laughter] You can also hear it next year. There is nothing to be shy about. Raise your hands, you can hear next year, and it’s okay. Who would like to hear it two years from now? Three years from now? [SB 1.1.19]: “svādu svādu pade pade”—the sages of Naimiṣāraṇya, “We never get tired of hearing this nectar.” But who would like to hear it now? [Devotees showed eagerness for hearing by loudly chanting, “Haribol!”]
Once upon a time—in reality, long, long ago—5,000 years ago to be exact, somewhere in the Vṛndāvan forest Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa were having Their pastimes. And Kṛṣṇa decided, He came up with an idea, He is going to tease Rādhārāṇī just to make Her a little angry and then try to make up with Her. Like this, Their loving sentiments become stronger in that way. He was sitting there very peacefully and chatting and so forth, so He came up with this idea, “How to increase the emotions?” Thus with full intention, He says to Rādhārāṇī, “My Dear Candrāvalī, Ah.” I probably shouldn’t even say it out loud here. [Laughter] Candrāvalī is the main Gopī in the rival group of Rādhārāṇī. There are two groups—left wing, right wing. Candrāvalī is Rādhārāṇī’s main rival, like They get really jealous. That’s a real “No, no” for Kṛṣṇa to even mention Candrāvalī’s name.
He said, “My dear Candrāvalī, ha-ha-ha.” He said, “Woah!” [Laughter] “Excuse me.” Rādhārāṇī said, “No way I am going to excuse you; no way.” She looked Kṛṣṇa straight in the eye and She said, “How is it possible that after hearing that name my two ears do not explode?” So Kṛṣṇa is pretending, and He looks, “Oh, I am so sorry.” He lifts Her veil, but She covers Her face again and She won’t let Him. He lifts Her veil again and He says, “My dear Rādhārāṇī, My dear radiant one, don’t misinterpret My affectionate words and sour the sweetness of our pastimes.” Rādhārāṇī would have nothing to do with that. She just slapped His hand, She got up and She started walking away. She walked by as far as that little tree growing there and She turned around, shook Her hand at Kṛṣṇa and said, [in an angry voice:] ”I will not remain here to be the puppet of a debauchee.” Kṛṣṇa comes like this and He kind of smiles. This is [like] all His pastimes, so He could go to Her and say He was sorry and She would say, “Okay, it’s alright.” This is a very common pastime here in Vṛndāvan.
How to appease Her anger … He gets Her angry and then He [says], “I am really, really sorry.” “Okay, I forgive you.” Something like that. The first part of His plan was successful. He made Her really mad. But He couldn’t fulfill His plan without some help. Thank God, He needs the help of His devotees, because our life would be so boring without devotional service, like those poor Māyāvādīs who have nothing to do eternally [laughter] and who say, “I am in the Brahman,” but they just glow like—Buzzzzzz.” [Laughter] He is thinking He needs some help, so He said, “Let’s see, who can help me? Aha—Vṛndā-Devī!” She was there in a split second, “Yes!” “I need some help.” “I am at your service.” He said, “I have this plan you know to increase our loving sentiments—Rādhā and I.” She said, “What can I do?” He said, “I want to dress up as a Gopī.” A lot of the time these pastimes are repeating. You know, Kṛṣṇa dresses up as a Gopī and then there is the Dāna-Ghāṭi, the tax pastimes. It happens at different places at different times. So again He wanted to dress up as a Gopī and approach Her as a Gopī. He told Vṛndā, “I want to masquerade as a young girl, so I need the appropriate clothes and cosmetics. Can you have the clothes and do you have some cosmetics?”
Now in their commentaries on this Līlā one of the Gosvāmīs says that Kṛṣṇa was asking the right person. Because Vṛndā-Devī has various cottages, small cottages throughout Vṛndāvan, where she stocks everything she needs for facilitating Rādhā’s and Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes. You know we are talking about the choreography, so you know she has something stashed over here, a little more stashed over there, so she has her—and her little servants, her Gopīs—they have these cottages all over Vṛndāvan. They store [items] in it. Immediately when it’s needed they run, they open up [the cottage] and they get out the paraphernalia to facilitate the pastime. It may be a Gopī-disguised outfit for Kṛṣṇa to wear and pacify the māna—the anger—of Rādhārāṇī, or Rūpa Gosvāmī says it may be bathing clothes for His water sports. Or, some of these cottages they are stock full of various fruits and vegetables, and honey and spices and utensils and ingredients for cooking up a quick feast. Whatever it is, whatever is needed— Vṛndā-Devī has it on hand. Now the question has been posed by the saints that, any of these desire trees in Vṛndāvan they could easily facilitate all these things, because that’s what desire trees do. They don’t just produce one particular fruit like mundane trees in this world—apples, oranges, bananas. But from any tree you can get any fruit, you can get any vegetable, you can get utensils, you can get cooking pots, you can get jewelry, you can get clothes—anything you want from a Kalpa-Vṛkṣa tree. The saints are saying, “Why not just use the Kalpa-Vṛkṣa trees?
The Gosvāmīs answer that question. Many of these services in Vṛndāvan, they are shared by the devotees, and what’s more, they enjoy sharing these articles and they enjoy sharing these services, and they enjoy sharing the experience of the services to Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. Just like we do. We like to cook together, we like to go on Harināma together, and we like to clean together. We like to share, and share our experiences, and our realizations. This is why the Kalpa-Vṛkṣa trees and the Gopīs with their cottages, they share the services of Vraja and we are being trained in the same mood.
Just like my dear Godbrother Bhakti Bringa Govinda Mahārāja, he trained me once. He chastised me and trained me one time in this principle. We were taking Prasādam, I think at a house near Balarāma Bābā’s Āśrama, and there were 10 or 15 Godbrothers and sisters. One of my disciples had made some Gulābjāmuns, like three or four Gulābjāmuns. She brought those and put those on my plate. So we were just finishing the meal. I went, “Mmmm oh,” I started eating them, and Mahārāja said, “Hey, Vedic culture—Vraja means you share whatever you have, so share those Gulābjāmuns, Indradyumna Swami, with everyone here.” [In a jolly voice:] “No…I got a little piece.” But I was trained like that. That way, we share our good fortune with others, beginning with our beloved Godbrothers and Godsisters and assembled devotees. That’s always the principle, “All for one and one for all.”
Kṛṣṇa had made Rādhārāṇī very angry. She had left, She refused to meet with Him. So Kṛṣṇa had this plan, “If I go disguised as a Gopī, I can meet Her and we can rectify the situation.” Vṛndā-Devī gave Him all the clothes and the cosmetics and she kind of helped Him arrange it like ladies do—I don’t know, but something like that, and then she ran off according to the plan Kṛṣṇa had to find Rādhā to persuade Her to meet this new Gopī. Actually, she later describes this Gopī as her sister, “Rādhārāṇī, you got to meet my new sister. She is really awesome!” Vṛndā-Devī went to try to find out where Rādhārāṇī was. But Rādhārāṇī was at Gaurī-kuṇḍa with Lalitā and Viśākā and some of the other Sakhīs and some Mañjarīs. And Rādhārāṇī was complaining to Lalitā and Viśākā, how Kṛṣṇa had mistreated Her and how She became very angry with Kṛṣṇa. Now usually Lalitā and Viśākā sympathize with Her, because they know how Kṛṣṇa deals with Her, how He teases Her. They don’t like that—especially Lalitā—she becomes very angry with Kṛṣṇa.
Rādhā is crying, “He just mistreated Me so much, He said that name—Candrāvalī. He said it with so much love and devotion.” But in this particular instance, Lalitā refused to sympathize with Rādhā, it was so unusual. She said, “No, no, no, no, no, wait a minute, Rādhā.” She said to Rādhārāṇī that, “Everyone knows that Kṛṣṇa cannot think of any other woman in your presence.” Then Viśākā spoke up and she said, “And now you have criticized Him,” so Rādhā became very morose, “Oh yeah, maybe I overdid it.” She is thinking, “He lifted My veil and said that He loved Me and I slapped His hand and ran away and called Him debauchee.” Seeing that there was hope for some reconciliation and some deep, loving embrace after all of these anxieties, Lalitā said, “Well, I wonder where Kṛṣṇa is now? You have to find Him and put the Divine Couple back together. I just wonder where Kṛṣṇa is?”
According to the script that Paurṇamāsī had written that morning here at Vṛndā–Kuṇḍa with Nandamukhī and Vṛndā-Devī, according to the script—just when Lalitā said that, “I wonder where Kṛṣṇa is,” Vṛndā-Devī, who is looking for Rādhārāṇī, walks in. “Hi, everybody! Oh, where is Kṛṣṇa? I know where He is.” So you know, Lalitā, Viśākā, “Oh, oh, where is He, Vṛndā? Where is He?” Vṛndā got a little kind of a sly smile. She said, ”Right now, He is pouring out His sorrows to Nikuñja-Vidyā.” “Nikuñja-Vidyā? Hmm.” The girls look at each other and they said in unison, “Who is Nikuñja-Vidyā? We never heard of anybody called Nikuñja-Vidyā?” Vṛndā, she puts her arms like this, “You girls don’t know who Nikuñja-Vidyā is? How ignorant you are! Nikuñja-Vidyā is the goddess of Bhāṇḍīravana and I have always been telling you. You don’t remember? She is my younger sister!” Rādhārāṇī and Lalitā, all started scratching their heads, “Nikuñja-Vidyā? Did you ever hear of her?” “No, I never heard of her.” “Well.” Then Vṛndā says, “She is the protector of the treasure chest of Kṛṣṇa’s secrets.” So the girls were thinking, “Well, Kṛṣṇa is pouring His heart out to this Gopī. He must be missing Rādhārāṇī so much. Let’s go meet Nikuñja-Vidyā and maybe Nikuñja-Vidyā can facilitate Rādhā’s meeting with Kṛṣṇa again!”
Vṛndā says, “Just follow me, Gopīs.” So Rādhā, Lalitā, Viśākā all followed Vṛndā-Devī to a nearby Kuṇḍa, where there is a beautiful Deity of some goddess, and there is this beautiful Gopī there. Really nice cosmetics, and nice dress and she is very absorbed making flower garlands [Laughter]. Very beautiful Gopī who is a little-little bluish, black like a monsoon cloud, very pretty Gopī and she is also making earrings from peacock feathers. Vṛndā says, “This is my sister Nikuñja-Vidyā and just a couple of hours ago, Kṛṣṇa was just pouring out His heart, how much He misses Rādhā, and doesn’t know how to make up to Rādhā. This is my sister Nikuñja.” Rādhā turns to Vṛndā and says, “Your sister is extraordinarily beautiful. Although we never met, I want to speak to her and see if she can help me meet Kṛṣṇa again.”
Vṛndā says, “All right, you have permission to approach my sister, Nikuñja-Vidyā.” So Rādhārāṇī goes, very slowly, hoping that Nikuñja-Vidyā will tie Her up again to Kṛṣṇa and she sits down right next to Nikuñja-Vidyā and says, ”Oh Nikuñja-Vidyā, knower of the groves, where is He who lives in the groves?”—meaning Kṛṣṇa. Nikuñja-Vidyā said [in a lady’s voice], “Well, I don’t really know. But maybe I can tell you.” [Laughter] And all the Gopīs thought, “That Gopī has a funny voice.” [Laughter].
Rādhā says, “But please, where is He, who lives in the groves? Where is my Kṛṣṇa?” Nikuñja-Vidyā says, “Come a little closer”. So Rādhā gets right next to this new Gopī. But this new Gopī, Nikuñja-Vidyā, she is just making her earrings from peacock feathers. Then Vṛndā says to Rādhā, “I think you have to show my sister some more affection for her to reveal her secrets.” Then Rādhārāṇī says, “Nikuñja-Vidyā, oh goddess of Bhāṇḍīravana, please bestow your mercy upon me, so I may again meet and serve my beloved Kṛṣṇa.” Nikuñja-Vidyā keeps making her earrings of peacock feathers, and Vṛndā says [loudly], “Show my sister some more affection.” So Rādhārāṇī goes, “Well, whatever works.” She extends Her arms and gives a big loving embrace to Nikuñja-Vidyā and with that touch, the Gosvāmīs say Nikuñja-Vidyā suddenly became extremely responsive. Nikuñja-Vidyā, she responded by giving Rādhā a big loving hug as well and the two of them are embracing, and the Gopīs are going, “Wait a minute.” Suddenly Nikuñja-Vidyā lost control in the arms of Rādhā who controls Kṛṣṇa, and Nikuñja-Vidyā started kissing Rādhārāṇī all over Her face, and some of the Gopīs stood up and said, “Well, wait a minute —this goddess is going a little bit too far. That’s like how Kṛṣṇa kisses Rādhā; that’s not allowed—this girl can’t do that!”
Vṛndā is thinking, “This is not how Kṛṣṇa said the plan would unfold. He didn’t go as per plan, it wasn’t supposed to go this far.” Vṛndā stands up and she says, “Girls, don’t worry, such expressions of affection are not uncommon for goddesses.” And suddenly Rādhārāṇī looks at Lalitā and She says, “I have experienced this kiss before, Lalitā.” And they look at each other and they have suddenly figured out what was going on and Lalitā turns bright red. [Laughter] She was so angry, she couldn’t speak, and suddenly Rādhārāṇī pushes Nikuñja-Vidyā away and stands up and She says, [yelling voice:] “Deception! I have been deceived. This is deception.” Then She puts Her hands like this, and She looks at Nikuñja-Vidyā—Kṛṣṇa—and She says, “A fine trickster You are, but I have achieved My desire and You have achieved Your desire,” and She embraces Kṛṣṇa again, and seeing this pastime with this perfect loving conclusion, all the Gopīs started laughing and laughing, and rolling on the ground, and laughing—at how Kṛṣṇa had again with His trickery won the heart of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī with the help of Vṛndā-Devī. These kinds of pastimes are going on everyday here in the Vṛndāvan forest, and we are foolishly missing out thinking we can somehow find happiness in this world of birth and death.
But by coming here to Śrī Vṛndāvan Dhām, on Parikramā, and coming out here to Vṛndā–Kuṇḍa, in this very blissful, devotional atmosphere and chanting and hearing these pastimes, our desire, our original desire to serve Kṛṣṇa in such a way becomes aroused again. By the mercy of our Spiritual Masters, by the mercy of our founder Ācārya, Śrīla Prabhupāda, we can actually approach such a personality as Vṛndā-Devī and request her very humbly that, “Maybe one day in the future by the mercy of Guru and Gaurāṅga, we will become qualified enough. If there is still some space left, there in the unlimited spiritual world, we could help her render some small service, in helping her choreograph all these pastimes in Śrī Vṛndāvan Dhām.” As we have experienced, over the last almost four weeks, every place has its special Bhāva, its special mood, its history, its personalities. We are just so fortunate this last month to be traveling to all these varieties of places and imbibing, somehow imbibing a drop of this, this mercy.
Here is the place to pray to Vṛndā and Rādhā and Nikuñja-Vidyā—Kṛṣṇa. This is a place to pray for mercy because, prayer is one of the nine processes of devotional service. So before you go, embrace one of these desire trees and pray. Alternatively, you can roll in the Vraja–Reṇu, the dust of this place, and pray. You can bathe in the sacred waters of Vṛndā-Kuṇḍa and pray. You can sit and chant some japa in front of the numerous Tulasī plants that are here and pray. Or being most fortunate you can go before the beautiful Deity of Vṛndā-Devī with Dakṣa, her parrot, and personally offer your supplication, your prayers,and beg for mercy. if it’s difficult for you to think exactly how to pray, then you can simply repeat the words—the prayers from the heart of Viśvanāth Cakravārtī Ṭhākur and surely Vṛndā-Devī will hear you. Here are some beautiful prayers by such an Ācārya, that you can say to the Deity.
- “Oh Vṛndā-Devī, Oh protectress of the moving and nonmoving living entities in Vṛndāvan, you are wealthy in the mercy of the Divine Couple, who enjoy pastimes in Vraja. Please also be merciful unto me. Please place me amongst Śrī Rādhā’s associates.”
- “Oh Śrīmatī Tulasī Devī, Oh celestial Ganges, river of mercy, it is because I once placed my head at your lotus feet and drank some drops of water that washed your lotus feet, that these desires have arisen in my heart.”
- “Oh Śrīmatī Tulasī Devī, how low I am!—My heart pierced by hundreds of offenses. How exalted and difficult to attain is my aspiration. Your causeless mercy is my only hope. It is by your mercy that I, who am so fallen, can have these desires in my thoughts.”
Śrī Vṛndā-Devī ki – Jaya!
Śrī Vṛndā-Kuṇḍa ki – Jaya!
Tulasī Mahārāṇī ki – Jaya!
Śrīla Prabhupāda ki – Jaya!
Śrī Vraja-Bhūmi Śrī Vṛndāvan Dhām ki –Jaya!
Śrī Kārtik Parikramā – 2015 ki –Jaya!
Śrī Goloka Vṛndāvan Dhām ki – Jaya!
Jaya-Jaya Śrī Rādhe……………………………………… Śyāma!
‘Spasiba Bolshaya!’ [Big “thank you”]