SRI NAVADVIPA-DHAMA-MAHATMYA (Appendix)
The Land of Sweetness
An overview of the glories
After his retirement, Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur wanted to go to Vrindavan and pass the rest of his life there, but he repeatedly had a dream in which he was told that he must discover the actual birthplace of Sri Chaitanyadev. He could not neglect the dream. He again entered into service at Krishnanagar, and there he consulted the records of the locality. With the help of those records, and by his divine inspiration, he discovered the birthplace at the Yoga Pith in Mayapur. Then, with deepened interest, he visited the entire Nabadwip Mandal. With reference to the scriptures, he gave a description of both the ancient and contemporary holy places in the Dham of Mahaprabhu. He established a committee to ensure that the service of Mahaprabhu's place of advent would continue. Lastly, he handed it over to our Prabhupad, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami.
Infinite courage of the pioneer
When Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur began the service of the Dham and Mahaprabhu, he had to do many things to attract the public to accept his discovery of the Dham as authentic. At that time, the place was uninhabited. Gradually a brick building was made, and the worship of the Deity of Mahaprabhu was begun.
The Temple came later. Generally, the brahman cooks he required would not stay there very long because it was an isolated place and there were violent elements nearby. To ensure that the service continued, he had to undergo many undesirable things. For example, sometimes he had to prepare ganjika (hemp) by his own hand for the cook! Otherwise, the cook would have left. At times, when 'respectable' persons came, he had to make arrangements for tobacco. There were many other trials.
The Thakur's foresight
Devotee: Srila Thakur Bhakti Vinod also had a great vision for the world.
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: Yes. He saw in his divine eye that prema-dharma, the religion based on divine love, is so self-evident in character that the intelligent could never avoid embracing such a conception of pure religion as the highest. Love—prema: the fine intellect cannot but detect the purity in the love of religion in its highest conception. His idea was: "With an unbiased mind, the Western thinkers cannot but appreciate the doctrine of divine love, as given out by Sri Chaitanyadev. So, I am sure that in the future many of the Western scholars will come under the flag of Sri Chaitanyadev." This was his conviction, and he mentioned this in lectures that he delivered throughout Bengal.
When Sripad Bhakti Saranga Goswami Maharaj returned from preaching in England, he brought one Mr Burchett back with him. A meeting was held at the Bag Bazaar Math. That meeting was presided over by a gentleman of the name Kiran Dutta, a good scholar and a Theosophist. In his talk he said, "When we were students at City College, Bhakti Vinod Thakur delivered a lecture there to the effect that in the near future Western scholars would come and join the sankirtan under the banner of Mahaprabhu. Now, clearly, I can bear witness to the fact that his prediction is beginning to come true. I heard the lecture in my young days, and now in my old age I see the evidence—it is going to be true. I am very glad for that."
The eye of faith
Devotee: In Navadvipa-bhava-taranga, Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur seems to be having actual visions of the Pastimes of the Lord on the various islands of Nabadwip. Yet he writes in such a way that he also seems to be aspiring for those visions. Is he actually having those visions?
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: Yes, of course. His vision is inspired. The Dham has inspired these two perspectives in him. The Dham allows us to see according to the degree of our devotion. A doctor sees a patient according to his capacity. A higher politician can see a higher strategy, and so on. Higher intelligence can see deeper. Such is the case always. A detector can see the depth afforded by its capacity. The x-ray can detect to a certain depth, and the microscope has another dimension of utility. There is revelation according to one's capacity. Deserve—and have.
In an ordinary country there is a capital. The capital is where the existence and position of the king is more intense than in the general section of the country. Similarly, the Lord is everywhere, but His concentrated existence is found in the Dham, or the holy abode. With fully developed vision, we can feel the special characteristic of the Dham. We will find His presence everywhere, but with particular intensity in the Dham. With the awakening of our real eye, we should be able to feel and appreciate according to this criterion. There is no question of a Dham for those who have no eye to see. There is also a hierarchy in the Dham. All have a serving attitude. Whether birds, beasts, worms, or insects—everything contributes to the Reality. Their feeling of heart, their gesture, posture, and movement—everything contributes exclusively to the Pastimes of the Lord.
Dhamera svarupa sphuribe nayane: in a song, Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur aspires for that pure vision of the Dham. Otherwise, it may appear quite ordinary to us, like a jungle. The purity of Ganges water is only perceived by those who have proper faith [sraddha]. Otherwise, to others' eyes, it is ordinary water. The same applies to the Deity [Sri Murti]. One may think that the Sri Murti of Lord Jagannath in Puri appears to be a somewhat awkward figure. His arms seem incomplete, His feet are not visible, and His eyes are enormous. Yet Mahaprabhu stood before Him for hours shedding tears, and no one could move Him from that place. What did Mahaprabhu see in that figure, and what is He to our eyes? So, according to the depth of the vision of our inner eye, we can perceive the Dham, the Deity, and the purifying Ganges water. Sraddhamayo 'yam purusah (Bg: 17.3): "The nature of a person is based on faith." Of what value is a mirror without an eye? In a looking-glass we should find the reflection, but if the eye is absent, what will the subject see in the glass? The eye to see—faith—is necessary. According to one's sraddha, the specific character of the Dham as distinct from all other places will come into view, disclosing its real form. Everything depends on sraddha [faith].
The capital of theism
Devotee: Did Lord Nrsimhadev have some connection in Nabadwip at Nrsimha Palli?
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: Yes. All the different representations of theism have been absorbed in Nabadwip Dham. In the capital, all provincial authorities have some representation. In Delhi, regions such as Bengal, Madras, and Bihar have their representatives. The highest conception of theism is in Nabadwip, so naturally representation of all other theistic conceptions is here in some form or another. Siva, Devi, Jagannath, Nrsimhadev, and so many others represent themselves here to honour the highest conception of theism. They think it necessary. They feel they must have some representation here. It shows how all the different conceptions of theism are adjusted in full‑fledged theism, which is all-inclusive.
When Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur was staying in Godrumadwip, he noticed that every day early in the morning, a flow of wind would come through his yard towards the Yoga Pith, the birthplace of Mahaprabhu. He began to search most earnestly to detect the reason for this in a prayerful mood. Then one day, he found that Nrsimhadev was going every day early in the morning from Nrsimha Palli to attend mangal arati at Mahaprabhu's birthplace.
Everything has a conscious, personal form. To the degree that there is connection with the conscious personality within things, there is more attraction.
A favourable atmosphere
Devotee: Can you tell us more about Dham-tattva. It seems unclear.
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: Everything is favourable, but we cannot see it. Rather, we see that everything is unfavourable to us. Apparently, our home has become the abode of our enemy. It looks like that to us.
Generally, it is expected that in other parts of the country there may be other conditions, but that the Dham must be favourable to the life of a devotee. But here [in Nabadwip], on the surface, we find more difficulties for devotees. How are we to harmonise and adjust to this? Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur said,
ekhana ye brahma-kule chaitanyera ari
(Kalyana-kalpa-taru: Prarthana-lalasamayi, 4.11)
"Though in these days we find many in the bodies of brahmans who oppose the cult of Sri Chaitanyadev, in the fullest adjustment we should conceive of them as lila-pustikari, a necessary, indirect help to the Lord's Pastimes."
There is direct help and indirect help. Indirect help is necessary to enhance the activity of the direct school. In this way, we are to adjust. In Vrindavan also, so many demons—Kamsa and his agents—will always be there. We must be prepared for that. And it is necessary. Opposition is always necessary in the highest quarter.
aher iva gatih premnah svabhava-kutila bhavet
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 8.110)
["Like a snake, the movement of divine love is by nature crooked."]
Lila, fundamentally, requires opposition. It is necessary to help the positive side from a different direction. The more trouble there is to acquire wealth, the more there is taste for it. The greater the hunger, the greater the taste. So, we should not be cowed down by superficial opposition. It is tasteful. We want the highest thing, but without undergoing any sort of trouble? That would be injustice.
Our Madan Manohar Prabhu says, "Vrindavan is very favourable. There, when we wander in the street, people do not insult us. Here [in Nabadwip], if we go to the bazaar, people come to bite us like tigers if they see tilak or anything of the sort. Vrindavan is free from such trouble. So, I think I should live in Vrindavan."
We must be attentive to our highest attainment. In Vrindavan, external life may be comfortable, but the internal process is difficult. If we can collect a ticket from here [Nabadwip], from Nityananda Prabhu and Mahaprabhu, then Vrindavan, the highest plane of the purest character, is within our fist. So, the trouble here ultimately pays us in cash for the highest goal.
Devotee: Since I am now in Nabadwip, what special service is very important to do while I am here?
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: Acquire the proper angle of vision. This is most important everywhere. Only we are to acquire the proper angle of vision: a new eye, divya‑drsti [divine vision]. Diksa [initiation] means divya‑drsti: to pierce through our prejudiced estimation and have a proper view into the reality of things. That is what is necessary everywhere. Sadhana [spiritual practice] as a whole means that: realisation.
We must die to live. To have a spiritual life, we will have to die as we are at present. The whole mental system has to be dissolved. It is full of nothing but misunderstanding and prejudices gathered from a selfish standpoint. Everything we know has been estimated from a selfish standpoint, be it very meagre or extended selfishness. The standpoint of a country or a nation means extended selfishness. "I am not selfish. I stand for the cause of my country." Someone may speak this way, but such a conception is actually extended selfishness. In the infinite, what is the meaning or value of that extension, of a country? It has no meaning. We are to acquire nothing less than an infinite standpoint, an angle of vision into the infinite.
How do we look at the environment from a universal standpoint? From the standpoint of Krishna's interest, the central interest, the Absolute's interest. That leads us to the conception of the Absolute as Krishna, the Autocrat, who is beauty personified. We are to learn to see everything here from that standpoint. We must give up our so‑called real estimation of the environment. It has no value.
What is real? Everything here is transient, deceiving. Whatever we draw from outside is deceptive. It may stand for some time and for a particular section, but it is a relative truth, a relative truth in the misconceived world. There is also relative truth from the absolute standpoint, but that is another thing. From the absolute standpoint, there is relative truth according to a gradation, a hierarchy. But that is different from relative truth based on misconception. Within the misconceived world, everything is misconception, or a part of a part of a misconception, or a misconception of different quality and quantity.
Diksa means divya‑jnan [divine knowledge], and divya‑jnan means knowledge gathered from the absolute standpoint, not a self‑centred, country‑centred, nation‑centred, humanity‑centred, or even 'whole animation‑centred' standpoint. We are to learn nothing less than infinite‑centred calculation.
He is for Himself, and everything is for Him. What value does anything have in bringing satisfaction to the Lord? We are to learn how to calculate how much something can contribute to Krishna's satisfaction. We are to enquire and know that. How much can something supply satisfaction to Krishna? How much can it be used in Krishna's interest? We must convert ourselves into agents that look for Krishna's interest in the environment. We are to search out Krishna's interest, Gauranga's interest, and give up our self‑interest of different types found in different layers. That is the main thing. That is diksa, and that is what is wanted. Krishna must be allowed to sit on the throne of our heart where the ego is now, and according to Him we will try to look at anything and everything.
The structure of the Dham
Devotee: We have heard that the nine islands of Nabadwip represent the nine fundamental processes of devotional service.
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: Sri Nabadwip Dham is envisaged as a lotus flower. The centre of the lotus is the birthplace of Mahaprabhu, and it represents atma-nivedanam [self-surrender]. One has to first surrender, and then all the practices of devotion follow. The petals of the lotus represent sravanam, kirtanam, smaranam, pada-sevanam, archanam, vandanam, and dasyam [hearing, chanting, remembering, serving the Lord's feet, worshipping, praying, and servitorship]. Sakhyam [friendship] is situated half on one side of the Ganges and half on the other. In this way, the nine islands of Nabadwip are represented as a lotus flower embodying the nine standard practices of devotion.
Devotee: Please tell us something about Sri Nabadwip Dham parikrama (circumambulation).
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: We should try to become more acquainted with the realistic view of Nabadwip. When travelling to these places, we are reminded by the incidents connected with them how such representation comes from each place. All of them taken together promote our understanding as to what is devotion proper.
Atma-nivedanam, full self-surrender, is the basis of all. After atma-nivedanam, the plane of life will be categorically changed. After surrendering to the central direction, whatever will be done by us will come to have recognition as devotion. That is devotion. Atma-nivedanam is selflessness plus self-surrendering. Self-surrendering presupposes selflessness. Selfish actions come to an end and selflessness is also crossed, and then self-surrendered life begins—and that is devotion proper.
There are so many incidents, stories, and sceneries connected with Sri Nabadwip Dham parikrama, but all are meaning to help us in our life of absolute adjustment. If one can catch that, then by his parikrama through different holy places and his hearing about local 'historical' incidents, he will receive eternal instructions in various conceptions of devotion. He will receive encouragement in this way.
It is not like the parikrama of the ordinary people in the general Hindu section of society who also go out on pilgrimage. The general people come in contact with the holy places, and they have some holy association, but their main object is to gain some unseen help in their present life. They want their desires of this present life to be satisfied by some invisible help. It is punya-kamana—to acquire good merit to help success in their present life according to their conception. It is not suddha-bhakti. The objective of Gaudiya Math people is quite different.
The kirtan of love
Sankirtan is the central service recommended by Mahaprabhu, especially for the Age of Kali. Sankirtan means to listen and reproduce. To hear and tell. And the telling, the expression, the reproduction, is the more powerful thing. We are to exert ourselves to the utmost for kirtan. Kirtan means to preach, and that has been recommended as the highest method of attainment, especially for beginners. Assert as much as you can; engage yourself in preaching, spreading the truth that you imbibe from the higher source. Thereby, you will be benefitted the most. Exert yourself to spread the news of the Lord, the Truth. Then His omnipotent supply from above will be lavishly extended to you. As much as you can sell, so much you will be furnished with materials by the capitalist. So go on. He is not a capitalist of the mundane world. He is a capitalist of real property: devotion, service, prema. That is the only property in this world. What can dispossess us of everything and fulfil all our wants? What can compensate us and take the place of everything else? Only prema. No other thing can give us perfect health. Only prema: love. Love is above everything. Love is the only wealth in this world.
Mahaprabhu, Nityananda Prabhu, Advaita Prabhu, and others came with this. They came and continue to come now and then to the world with these tidings that bring such a high prospect into our life. After coming, anyhow, into a human birth, if we do not try for that prospect, then we commit suicide; our actions amount to nothing more.
Sri Gaudiya Math's Dham-parikrama invites everyone to try for that, to try to acquire that wealth. However small, or of whatever character it may be, its object is connected with that highest plane given by Mahaprabhu Sri Chaitanyadev, the Lord of love and the distribution of love.
The mercy of Nabadwip
Devotee: Could you elaborate on how it is necessary to get the mercy of Nabadwip Dham before Vrindavan Dham.
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: First, we must try to approach Nityananda Prabhu. He is the Lord of Nabadwip Dham. To secure a ticket, His permission is necessary first.
yatha yatha gaura-padaravinde
(Sri Chaitanya-chandramrta: 88)
As much as we are able to dedicate ourselves to the divine feet of Sri Gauranga, automatically and suddenly we will find that we are taken into Vrindavan to Radharani. The real key is here in Nabadwip with Sri Gauranga. We are to enter the confidential circle of Gauranga and Nityananda, who are the most benevolent.
Nityananda used to roam along both sides of the Ganges calling out to one and all, "Come! Join the camp of Sri Gauranga!
bhaja gauranga kaha gauranga laha gaurangera nama
"The life of my life is one who has come to take shelter under the direction of My Lord Gauranga. O fallen souls, gather round and beg My Lord Gauranga for His grace!"
Automatically you will find yourself in Vrindavan. All the undesirable things within you will be cleared in no time, and, unconsciously, your pristine inner self will emerge. It will find suddenly that it is in the midst of the desired soil, Vrindavan, which is filled with the most wonderful paraphernalia; you will find you are at home, back at home. Get a ticket here in Nabadwip, and you will quickly reach your home.
It is like a direct flight from Kolkata to New York, with no break necessary in the journey. Nabadwip is Gupta Vrindavan: it is suppressed and covered, but really Vrindavan. Outwardly, it is covered by magnanimity, added generosity, to enlist the fallen souls, the culprits. Through grace, their disease will be cured, and they will become fit to be a proper child of the soil of divine love, Vrindavan. As Vrindavan is not temporary, but permanent, so its recruiting office and staff are also permanent. They are always doing Their work. Sometimes They are more busy, sometimes less busy, but They are always there. That is Nabadwip.
The land of sweetness
Once a gentleman challenged me, "Why do you confine Sri Chaitanyadev to Bengal? Why do you say Sri Chaitanyadev's followers are 'Gaudiya' Vaisnavas? You chant the Lord's Names: 'Chaitanya', 'Gaura', 'Nimai', and so on. But 'Gauda' means Bengal. To say 'Gaudiya' Vaisnava is to confine Sri Chaitanyadev to a province. Why do you promote 'Gaudiya' Math and 'Gaudiya' Vaisnava-dharma? I cannot adjust to this."
Devotee: What should be the answer to that Maharaj?
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: It is generally given that 'Vrindavan' does not mean a particular province, town, or forest; it has its broad meaning. So, 'Nabadwip' and 'Gauda' may be taken in that sense. If we can understand Nabadwip Dham proper, then we will understand that Nabadwip Dham is not situated in a particular province. It has the dignity that Vrindavan has.
Devotee: So Gauda Mandal is the same as Vraja Mandal?
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: Gauda Mandal is Vraja Mandal. The word 'Gauda' comes from the word 'gud'. 'Gud' means misti, sweet. When something is sweet, it may be described by the synonym 'gud'. Gud represents sweetness. So, Gauda Mandal: 'the sweet land'. There is no sweetness anywhere like that found in Vrindavan and Nabadwip. In Vrindavan, it is confined in a particular group, but in Nabadwip, it is being distributed. Here people come to know, "Yes. It is sweet." They get the chance to taste, appreciate, and declare, "Yes! It is sweet!" But in Vrindavan, even Laksmi Devi cannot purchase a ticket. Laksmi Devi, the goddess of wealth, cannot purchase a ticket to enter the Rasa-lila.
Devotee: So Nabadwip is the actual land of nectar?
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: At least the public may come to understand that nectar does exist. Radha and Krishna tasted nectar in Their harem in Vrindavan, and then They combined to distribute it to the public in Nabadwip. That is the unique thing about Nabadwip: the two highest interested parties have combined to give nectar to others.
Srila Svarup Damodar said that in eternity, we cannot say that Vrindavan-lila is first and Nabadwip-lila is second. Radha and Krishna are sometimes combined and sometimes separate. In Dvapar-yuga, They are separate, and in Kali-yuga, They are combined. Both forms are eternal. It cannot be said that summer, or winter, or the rainy season, comes first. They move in an eternal cycle.
radha krsna-pranaya-vikrtir hladini saktir asmad
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Adi-lila, 1.5)
"Though They are one, in ancient times, They divided Themselves and showed Their Pastimes. Now again, They are combined."
In this way, Svarup Damodar has given the idea that both lilas are eternal. Generally, we think that Krishna-lila is first, and Gaura-lila came afterwards to distribute the wealth of Vrindavan to the people. But from a broader perspective, both lilas are eternal. Smartas say Krishna's lila in Vrindavan is not eternal. They say Krishna kindly came to the human world and showed His infinite grace to those who were living in the mundane world at that time. But by Mahaprabhu's instruction and inspiration, the goswamis proved that Krishna-lila is not temporary, but eternal. It is not that Krishna is part of Narayan's lila. Rather, Krishna's lila itself is supreme and eternal. And as such, the distribution of Krishna-lila to the public is also eternal. Radha and Krishna like to give Their wealth to others, not to strictly confine it to a particular circle of friends. Thus, there is the necessity of Gaura-lila, and in this way, we can understand that Gaura-lila is also eternal—out of necessity. It cannot be temporary because distribution is also a part of Radha and Krishna's eternal enjoyment.
Svarup Damodar composed this verse to explain that there is no question of who is first and who is second. They are both eternal and going on with Their Pastimes, sometimes combined and sometimes divided. So, Gaura-lila and Krishna-lila—Vrindavan-lila and Nabadwip-lila—are both eternal.
The highest dignity
In the highest eternal quarter, we find lila of both types. In one compartment, we find Radha and Govinda are separate and enjoying Their Pastimes amongst Themselves and a confined circle. That is Vrindavan. In Nabadwip-lila, we find Radha and Govinda combined and trying to distribute Themselves to others: trying to distribute the rasa that was confined within Their own circle.
Audarya and madhurya are the specific characteristics of the two lilas and the two Avataris. Both Krishna and Gauranga are Avatari, the source of all Avatars. They are two phases of the highest ontological aspect of the Absolute—the Avatari. In one, They taste Their own sweetness in Their own lila, and in the other, They distribute that rasa to others. They are of two types, but the rasa in Their Pastimes is of the same quality.
Our Guru Maharaj wanted to show by installing Deities of Mahaprabhu and Radha-Govinda together that the highest order of worship is to worship Radha and Govinda combined: Mahaprabhu, who distributes the rasa, the highest order of sweetness, that Radha and Govinda taste within Their own circle. They are all on the same level. They are all of the same dignity. They are together in the highest position. To represent this to the world, our Guru Maharaj has established such worship on the altar as the most favourable method for preaching about Radha and Govinda of Vrindavan.
The dynamic Absolute
Radharani and Her magnanimity are introduced to the world in Gauranga. There is no possibility of any selfishness or sensualism entering a devotee. But if we analyse Gauranga, we find that He is Krishna in the garb of Radharani. When the Two become One—when the negative and the positive become one—then, according to some philosophers, They become nondifferentiated and impersonal. But the Vaisnava philosophy says that when They are combined, Their personality is not lost. Rather, in the garb of the negative, the positive searches for Himself. These other parties say They become Brahma: the positive and negative become one nondifferentiated thing within which nothing can be detected in any way. They say no qualities remain, and everything becomes unknown and unknowable. But the Vaisnavas say that when the Two become One, the positive searches for Himself in the mood of the negative: He who is to be searched out searches for Himself in the mood of the highest searcher. The underlying philosophy is that They do not come to equilibrium. Some say that when the positive and negative mix, it creates equilibrium, but the Vaisnava philosophers say, "No! Dynamic character is always maintained! Never equilibrium!"
Radharani and Krishna, the potency and the owner of the potency, have very closely embraced. In this regard, Ramananda Ray has given us the highest conception: forgetfulness.
pahilehi raga nayana-bhange bhela
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 8.193)
["Our attachment first arose through eye contact. It has increased daily and reached no limit. Neither He, the man, nor I, the woman, are its cause. Understanding this, Cupid has pressed our hearts together."]
It is not that the predominating moiety and the predominated moiety have mixed, but that an extraordinary ecstatic feeling has come to Them. Krishna is overpowered by His potency, and He is searching for Himself. Radharani's influence over Krishna has transformed Krishna into a devotee, and He is now searching for Himself. Sweetness is tasting itself and becoming mad. That sweetness is living, not dead, and He, that sweetness, is tasting Himself and becoming mad.
What is the proof that Mahaprabhu is the ultimate source? Atmanusvada: He is tasting Himself and dancing. He is feeling His own saukhyam, happiness, or ecstasy, or anandam, or beauty, or whatever it may be, and dancing madly. He is feeling intense ecstatic joy tasting His ultimate sweetness, and, through kirtan, He is distributing that ecstasy to others. It is not that He is tasting something else and expressing His happiness. His tasting Himself is making Him dance. This is atma-trpti [self-satisfaction]. Thus, His kirtan is self-distribution. The Absolute must have this characteristic.
(Sri Sri Prema-dhama-deva-stotram: 66)
Savalila means not static, but dynamic, ecstasy. What symptom must the Absolute possess? It is seen in Mahaprabhu. He is tasting Himself and distributing Himself outwardly by kirtan. His dancing expresses His internal satisfaction, and His kirtan is His distribution of that to others.
Srila Jiva Goswami has described Mahaprabhu as the Svabhajana-vibhajana-prayojanavatari. Svabhajan means that He worships Himself, serves Himself; vibhajan means that He distributes that service to the public; and prayojan means that this distribution is the only end of His life. What is the necessity (prayojan) of this Avatar? To distribute something. What is that? His own service. He serves Himself, He distributes the service He does for Himself, and that is the necessity of His life. And He is not only an Avatar, but Avatari. His position is the highest—Avatari.
There is Avatar Gauranga and Avatari Gauranga. Avatar Gauranga distributes the Name to the world; He comes once in every Age of Kali. Avatari Gauranga—Radharani and Svayam Bhagavan Sri Krishna combined—comes only once in a whole day of a Brahma, not every Age of Kali. The real conception of Mahaprabhu, the Avatari, is here: Radha and Krishna combined in Nabadwip as Sri Gauranga. Radha and Govinda combined and engaged in distributing Themselves is the innermost existence of Gauranga.
Thus, from the highest position, He distributes Himself. It is not that a lower function or part will distribute the highest thing. Everything the Lord does is sweet, but still there is degree within that, and when He, to the highest degree as Avatari, comes down to distribute what He Himself tastes to others, He may be called the Svabhajana-vibhajana-prayojanavatari. Srila Jiva Goswami has described Sriman Mahaprabhu in this way.
Giving the gift
Devotee: I have been in India for eight years, but I have not been able to spend much time in Nabadwip. I am very fortunate that I could come here now.
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: Of course. Nabadwip is considered by the high-order devotees to be the highest place of theism and absolute love. Sri Radhika and Govinda have combined, and They are avowed to put Their dearest wealth to the public. With this idea, both parties have Their best wealth in hand and have come to distribute it: "Come this way! You will get the highest thing! O people! You can have the same dish that We Ourselves taste! You can have divine love of the highest order!"
raso vai sah
The Upanisads say that rasa, anandam [pleasure], sundaram [beauty], is really controlling the whole creation. Everyone wants rasa, satisfaction. No one can say otherwise, from the atheist to the highest order of theist. Everyone wants rasa. But what is rasa proper? A man drinks wine in search of rasa. A ruffian works for rasa. An animal attacks another animal for rasa. But what is rasa in its real form? The scientific gradation takes us up to madhura-rasa: santa, dasya, sakhya, vatsalya, and then madhura. But it does not stop there. From madhura-rasa in general, we approach parakiya-madhura-rasa, which is found only in Vrindavan. Parakiya means madhura-rasa in a very rare and risky form. Parakiya is more intense than ordinary madhura-rasa: it comes only at the cost of all other prospects in life, such as name and fame in society and the affection of near and dear ones. We must risk anything and everything for parakiya-rasa, which is more intense and more tasteful than anything else in the plane of madhura-rasa. That peculiar thing has been given by Mahaprabhu Sri Chaitanyadev as the greatest attainment in life. Srimad Bhagavatam and other Puranas had given already some clue about it, but Mahaprabhu and His followers openly and broadly declared it to be the highest.
The main difficulty lies in crossing moral rules. We should consider that really the charge is on our side, not on the side of the Lord. Everything belongs to Him and not to us. Moralists consider parakiya to be a filthy thing, but if we can analyse its real characteristic, then it will be found that the moralists are the culprits. They claim that something is theirs and object that Krishna is snatching it away. But Krishna is the real owner. He steals butter, but in the absolute sense, everything belongs to Him. This is the funny thing: He steals what belongs to Him absolutely. He steals 'another's' property for fun. This is a particular lila of His which contributes to the highest order of happiness in the environment. The owner is stealing. The owner is a trespasser. How? It is aprakrta. Aprakrta-jnan is said to be the fifth stage, the highest stage, in our conception of life. Prakrtavat nahe prakrtam: aprakrta means that which seems to be very near to worldly things, but is not so; it is just the opposite. This sort of play in the drama creates the highest excitement amongst the audience. It is like magic which is almost impossible.
The inconceivable gift
yadi gaura na hata tabe ki ha-ita
Vasudev Ghos sings: "How could I live without it? How could I not get a taste of such a high fulfilment of life? It would be impossible for me to live."
He was living already, but now that he has found such a tasteful thing, he feels, "Without this, how could I live for eternity?" Such a wonderful expression comes from his lips: "If I could not get this, then how could I live?" He has tasted so much fulfilment, to such a high degree, that he feels it is impossible for anyone to continue to live without the taste of that highest thing: "How could I drag on with this body if I did not have the chance of coming in contact with that most valuable thing?
radhara mahima prema-rasa-sima
"How could we have known that Radharani holds the highest position? She who is sometimes condemned by the public as an outcast, She holds the highest position? Without the wonderful, broad, scholarly explanation given by Mahaprabhu, full of peculiar knowledge, how would it have been possible to come to Her and such an impossible understanding?
"This is such? The highest position is there? Crossing the directions of the scriptures, and neglecting society and so-called superiors to come to Krishna is the highest thing?" Yes! In the face of connection with Krishna, no scriptural, social, or moral sanctions are necessary. He is above all. Beauty is the autocrat, and beauty does not care for any laws of this world. Beauty is such, and it is the ultimate thing.
What is the limit of moral calculation? Must it govern your relationship with the Master of your heart? Must the law come to judge Him? No! He is above all, and no law or power of this world can challenge Him.
Krishna madly aspires to appreciate Radharani's service in parakiya-madhura-rasa. So how, in what sort of inconceivable way, has She couched Her sacrifice? As Krishna is Rasaraj, ecstasy Himself, so Radharani is Mahabhava, infinite sacrifice. The magnitude and quality of Her sacrifice cannot be conceived. So, if you are prepared to leave everything and enter Vrindavan, what sort of capital must you have to be granted entrance? Such sacrifice, self-giving.
radha-padankita-dhama vrndavana yanra nama
(Gitavali: Sri Radhastaka, 1.1)
"What is Vrindavan? The land that is purified by the footprints of Sri Radhika."
Krishna madly searches for Her. What sort of sacrifice has She made? Sacrifice of what quality and what magnitude? Be prepared, my friend, for that type of sacrifice.
Debauchery, lustful pleasure hunting, is the worst disease you are suffering from here. If you can get a little pinch of that sacrifice from the higher quarter, then that disease of the heart (kamam hrd-rogam) will be banished forever. If you want the perfect cure for this disease, you need only a drop, a bit, of that lila, that sacrifice. If you can apply even a speck of it, you will get rid of this nasty disease of sense-pleasure hunting forever. You will be saved forever by a little pinch of attraction to that high quarter of sacrifice.
vikriditam vraja-vadhubhir idan cha visnoh
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 10.33.39)
Even simply hearing about it with a regardful attitude will release you from that nasty disease, the monstrous demon that, "I am master. I am monarch of all I survey."
radha-padankita-dhama vrndavana yanra nama
Even the touch of the footprints in that place of sacrifice, Vrindavan, can absolve you from all the troubles you have been suffering from for eternity.
yadi gaura na hata tabe ki ha-ita
"Who would come to us with such a prospect? If Gauranga did not come, then who would come here with this prospect, the sweetest and highest prospect for our life? How could we know of it if Gauranga did not come here? How could we live without this hope, the ray of such a great prospect for us ordinary people? Such a saviour, if He did not come, then how could we live?"
Mahaprabhu's associate Vasudev Ghos says this. So, what sort of adoration did the devotees have when Mahaprabhu came back to Nabadwip? With what sort of purified love did His servants and friends take Him into their midst? Five years after His sannyas, He came here to Koladwip and forgave all the offenders.
kuliya-gramete asi' sri-krsna-chaitanya hena nahi, yare prabhu na karila dhanya
(Sri Chaitanya-bhagavat: Antya-khanda, 3.541)
["There was no one whom Sri Krishna Chaitanya did not bless when He came to Kuliya Gram."]
Everyone felt the fullest satisfaction, and He announced a general amnesty for all the heinous offenders. So, in this place, Aparadh-bhanjan-pat, where Mahaprabhu came, all our offences may be forgiven by the Lord of Lords. By His grace, we may be accepted as candidates in Vrindavan in the camp of Sri Radhika and Her own.
Of course, we will get all these things by the most magnanimous heart of Nityananda Prabhu.
hena nitai vine bhai radha-krsna paite nai
Firmly catch the holy feet of Nityananda. All else will come to you automatically. Gauranga will come, and when Gauranga comes, everything comes.
Devotee: When the soul reaches perfection in the line of Srila Rupa Goswami, worshipping Gauranga, do they then, in the spiritual world, worship Gauranga and Radha-Krishna simultaneously?
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: Yes. Both are one and the same. They are two different phases of one and the same thing. Gaura-lila is Krishna-lila plus magnanimity, self-distribution. When Krishna tastes the highest ecstasy with His own paraphernalia, that is Vrindavan, and when He decides to give that ecstasy out to the public, then Vrindavan becomes Nabadwip. Both of these lilas exist simultaneously. One is not before or after the other. Simultaneously, the two tendencies are there. One, to taste within, and the other, to distribute without. Amongst the Lord's servitors, there are three types. One is more addicted to Krishna, the second more to Gauranga, and the third almost equal, that is, equally addicted to both sides. In other words, there is a group that is more inclined towards Krishna-lila, a group more inclined towards Gaura-lila—distribution, magnanimity—and a group that is neutral, in the middle. So, differentiated character is there. Differentiated character is always maintained. The idea that all are equal is Brahma, nirvises [nondifferentiation]. There is always gradation, hierarchy, groups, departments, and variety—vaichitra ['wondrous diversity'], to the infinite.
This text has been compiled from recordings and publications of Srila Sridhar Maharaj's lectures. Sections 1–4 and 8 are excerpted from The Hidden Treasure of The Holy Dham. Section 9 is excerpted from Holy Engagement. The rest of the content is being published for the first time.
· Translator's Note
· Publishers' Notes
· Sri Navadvipa-dhama-parikramaya Ahvana
· Sriman Navadvipa-dhama-vandana
• The Glories of the Dham
• The Nature and Dimensions of the Dham
• Instructions for Circumambulating the Dham
• Sri Jiva Hears the Glories of the Dham
• Sri Mayapur and Antardvip
• Visiting Sri Ganga Nagar, Sri Prthu Kunda, Sri Simantadwip, Sri Visram Sthan, and Other Places
• Sri Suvarna Bihar and Sri Deva Palli
• Sri Harihara Ksetra, Sri Varanasi, and Sri Godruma
• Sri Madhyadwip and Sri Naimisa
• Visiting Sri Brahmana Puskara, Sri Uchcha Hatta, and other places
• Sri Sri Koladwip, Sri Samudragad, Sri Champa Hatta, and Sri Jayadev
• Sri Sri Rtudwip and Sri Radha Kunda
• Sri Vidya Nagar and Sri Jahnudwip
• Sri Modadrumadwip and Sri Rama-Lila
• Sri Vaikunthapur, Sri Rudradwip, and Sri Pulina
• Sri Bilvapaksa and Sri Bharadvaja Tila
• Sri Jiva Goswami's Questions and Srila Nityananda Prabhu's Answers
• The Removal of Sri Jiva Goswami's Doubts and His Travelling to Vrindavan
Sri Gaura Krishna Tattva
The Land of Sweetness
The Ten Offences to the Holy Dham
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