On the Way to Sri Vrindavan Dham
A lecture by
When Mahaprabhu would hear the name of 'Vrindavan,' He would become ecstatic in bhava, in prema, and would lose His senses in divine love. While describing His travels in Vrindavan, Srila Krishna Das Kaviraj Goswami said, "I cannot even express His mood."
When Mahaprabhu was in Puri Dham during the time of Lord Jagannath's Ratha-yatra, Svarup Damodar would sing and the Lord would dance in ecstasy. Mahaprabhu Himself would not sing so much, but Svarup Damodar would sing, and He would dance.
In one way, Vrindavan is a very difficult place—whether going, leaving, moving around or living there, everyone must be very careful. When Jagadananda Prabhu wanted to go to Vrindavan, Mahaprabhu gave him four instructions:
sighra asiha, tahan na rahiha chira-kala
Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Antya-lila 13.38
"If you want to go to Vrindavan, you can go, but do not stay too long. Do not climb upon Govardhan Hill even to see the Gopal Deity there, and always stay with Rupa and Sanatan. Take their guidance and do not leave their association." These were three of His directives and the fourth was, "Do not imitate the Vraja-basis."
Jagadananda Prabhu was Mahaprabhu's good friend and is considered an incarnation of Satyabhama. He was extremely attached to Mahaprabhu and sometimes would show his affection in unusual ways. Mahaprabhu instructed him: "Do not imitate or intimately associate with the Vraja-basis."
Jagadananda Prabhu knew everything about the rules and regulations for living in the Holy Dham but Mahaprabhu showed Himself as thinking he was not so qualified. He therefore gave some instruction, "Jagadananda wants to go to Vrindavan alone but I do not feel that it is good." In this way He checked him many times.
Lastly Jagadananda was very sad to see Mahaprabhu's renounced mood. He could not tolerate it, so he did not want to always stay with Mahaprabhu. Instead he wanted to go to Vrindavan. At that time Mahaprabhu gave these four directives to him and gave him permission to go: "You can go, but do not stay for long because everywhere there is some work of illusion, maya. Maya covers everything in this mundane world. It may be Vrindavan, Nabadwip, or Puri, but everywhere there is some covering of maya, and if you stay too long in such places you may be attracted by maya's work and so make some offences to the Dham."
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur says in his book Sri Nabadwip-bhava-taranga: jadamaya bhumi jala dravya yata ara. What we see in Nabadwip Dham, that is all jada, mundane; but actually inside of that mundane form, when maya mercifully removes the cover, we will see the real form of the Dham.
Even to see the outside of the Dham is beneficial, but if we make aparadh, offence, it is detrimental to our spiritual life. And if we cannot see properly the real transcendental Dham, at least we should try not to see the opposite thing—to see it as only mundane.
When Mahaprabhu experienced mahabhava for seven days in Srivas Pandit's house, the different devotees saw Him in different forms. Devotees of Ramachandra saw Mahaprabhu as Ramachandra, devotees of Visnu saw Him as Visnu; others saw Him in the Form of Nrsimhadev, and yet others saw Him as different incarnations of Visnu.
In that gathering Mahaprabhu restricted Mukunda Prabhu: "I shall not give you darsan."
Mukunda remained outside the house, weeping. Seeing him crying, the devotees reported to Mahaprabhu, "Mukunda is very sad and he wants to end his life by drowning in the River Ganges. He does not want to maintain his body if he cannot see Your form. He is continually crying outside."
Mukunda sent a message with the devotees asking Mahaprabhu, "When shall I see Your form?"
Mahaprabhu answered, "After crores of births he will be able to see Me."
Hearing this, Mukunda became very happy and began dancing outside the entrance, "Oh, after only crores of births I will again see Mahaprabhu! Therefore I have no problem. I can tolerate crores of births to again have His darsan."
Hearing that, Mahaprabhu was happy and said, "Now he has already crossed those crores of births and he can see Me— he can come immediately."
So the devotees called Mukunda: "Oh Mukunda, come, Mahaprabhu is calling you."
But Mukunda said, "Mahaprabhu said 'after crores of births,' then how can I go there now? If I go now I will not be able to see the real form of Mahaprabhu. Only after crores of births shall I be able to see, but not now—if I 'see' Him now, that will not be really seeing Him, it will be illusion. So why shall I go there? I do not want to go there now."
Real vision is necessary, and that is the main thing. Otherwise, seeing the Deity, the Dham or anything else is only an exercise of the eye; it is not actual vision and we shall not gain real benefit from that. But Mahaprabhu said, "Now his crores of births have gone, and he can come and see Me."
Mukunda very much chastised himself that he had done wrong, and so had caused Mahaprabhu to at first refuse him entrance. Mahaprabhu then showed His real form to him.
The main thing is that without devotion and transcendental knowledge we can neither see the real Vrindavan Dham nor the real Nama, Rupa, Guna and Lila (Name, Form, Qualities and Pastimes) of the Lord. All these are transcendental, therefore we cannot see them with our mundane eyes—that is the main thing.
If we go to Vrindavan or stay in Nabadwip the same is true, but still these places are Holy Dhams and they emanate auspiciousness. We can touch a drop of that if we stay there without offence. In that way we can touch the glow of that jyoti, that effulgence. The Dham is covered by illusion, but even so, there is some brilliance, and that glow or brilliance of the Dham may touch us if we stay there without offence. But if we stay there too long we may become overly familiar and then that glow may leave us. That glow is something like light, but it is more than that, it is the transcendental world and it is fully conscious.
It was for our instruction that Mahaprabhu advised Jagadananda, "Do not stay in Vrindavan for a long time as there is more possibility of making offence, and do not go upon Govardhan Hill because this Hill is a form of Krishna."
In the scriptures it is mentioned that Govardhan has two forms: one is as a servitor, and the other form is as Krishna Himself who accepts service from the devotees. So Mahaprabhu instructed Jagadananda, "Do not go upon Govardhan Hill, and when you stay in Vrindavan you must stay with Rupa Goswami and Sanatan Goswami. Under their guidance no problem will arise and there will be less chance to make offence. If you stay with them, you will not make any offence there. Staying with Rupa-Sanatan is also a great responsibility, but by My order you can stay there securely and follow their guidance."
Later there was a Pastime where Jagadananda became very angry with Sanatan—but that is their Lila. Actually, Jagadananda Prabhu is a parsada (eternal associate) of Mahaprabhu, but Mahaprabhu always teaches us through His devotees.
The main principle is that when we go to Vrindavan, we must follow a devotee. To keep ourselves within the proper conception we must take the shelter, asraya, of a real devotee, otherwise if we think, "I will do bhajan alone in Vrindavan," it may be most unbeneficial.
Many of Srila Prabhupad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur's disciples wanted to do bhajan there, but Srila Prabhupad Saraswati Thakur did not agree with that. Not only that, but after he himself went to Vrindavan, he expressed: "I am very unfortunate, I did not see there even one proper, perfect devotee."
There were many babajis in Vrindavan at that time, many of whom were famous and widely acclaimed to be siddha mahapurusas (perfected souls). But, with his hands held to his forehead, Srila Prabhupad Saraswati Thakur said, "I did not see any perfect Vaishnav in Vrindavan. This is my misfortune."
So we must be cautious with our knowledge. Knowledge is a type of power and should be used wisely. This caution has been given to us in the books. Transcendental knowledge is another thing; still, if we can use even mundane knowledge wisely we must gain some benefit. It was for this reason that Mahaprabhu told Jagadananda Prabhu: "When you are in Vrindavan use your knowledge wisely and you will be benefitted. Follow Rupa and Sanatan Goswami—not by imitating their practising life, their sadhana, but by following their directives."
The scriptures advise us, "You must follow what Krishna says, but you are not to try to imitate what He does."
The advice of Srimad Bhagavatam is, "Do not even think to imitate Krishna or His powerful devotees. Lord Siva digested an ocean of poison, but you have no capacity to do that. If you try, you will die."
We have much news of the transcendental world such as through the scriptures, but only when we can use that wisely and properly will we be benefitted, otherwise we will be the losers. Everywhere there is some danger, so we should always exercise caution.
Vrindavan Dham is transcendental, though the word 'transcendental' does not seem sufficient to properly describe it. We can say 'spiritual world' but that is also insufficient. Vrindavan Dham is chinmaya dham, it is transcendental, it is conscious, but it is also more than that.
Rupa Goswami gave a very nice sloka about that world and that type of ecstasy:
vyatitya bhavanavartma yas chamatkara-bharabhuh
He says 'vyatitya bhavana', that plane is over and above whatever we can reach with the fullest extent of our knowledge. It is far beyond our understanding; it is inconceivable to us, but at the same time it is so nice that we cannot even imagine it. But it is our own property and we can get it. Not only can we get it but we must get it one day, otherwise we have no hope. Today or tomorrow, or maybe after millions of births, but we must get that. There is no other way for us.
Srimad Bhagavatam says:
nr-deham adyam sulabham sudurllabham
Srimad Bhagavatam 11.20.17
We must utilise this chance of our human birth immediately. We now have this human body and it is very suitable for practising Krishna consciousness. With other bodies like those of cows, horses or trees, consciousness is insufficient. We are fortunate because now we have a human body—not only a human body, but a civilised human body with developed consciousness having taken birth in a suitable place. We are not as jungle-men. Therefore having this human form with developed consciousness, one who does not take the opportunity to practise Krishna consciousness is a suicidal person. There is no certainty whether we will get another chance, so we must immediately take advantage of this opportunity.
Devotee: Srila Maharaj, in the English civilisation we never heard before about Goloka, or chinmaya dham. In English there are no words to properly describe these things. So, how are we to suitably express them?
Srila Govinda Maharaj: In some way we shall try to give a description. We shall try to give some general direction. Srila Rupa Goswami did that also in his verse:
vyatitya bhavanavartma yas chamatkara-bharabhuh
It is beyond your intelligence, beyond your whole civilisation, everything. Perhaps we can know up to the fullest extent of our civilisation, but it is beyond that.
Devotee: Rupa Goswami can express this using Sanskrit and Bengali words, and Your Divine Grace can also. But how shall we translate the word divya? If we say divine, that indicates only heaven; and if we say consciousness, that is only general consciousness. There is no word for Goloka, and no word for chinmaya. We need to translate into English, but we do not have the appropriate words, then what shall we do?
Srila Govinda Maharaj: We will always try our best to express everything properly according to our capacity.
Even our own understanding may not be real, actually, although our feelings tell us it is. In my own childhood when I used to hear songs about Radha-Krishna lila, sometimes I would sit as if unconscious while imagining those Pastimes. I would visualise what is happening there, what Krishna is doing, what His associates are doing, and many things. Now I think differently, but at that time I thought what I saw was real. And when I would hear or sometimes sing the Gosthya-lila songs (songs about Krishna's cowherding Pastimes), I became fully attracted—not only attracted but completely charmed. Captured by that illusion I considered myself as also going with that party for herding cows. That is an auspicious thing, no doubt, but now I can understand it was one kind of illusion, and by the grace of Srila Guru Maharaj I was protected from being too much involved with it. In this way no bad reaction came to me.
Now I am worshipping from a distance the whole of that realm, but at that time I was thinking, and very heavily feeling also, that I was actually part of that lila. Now I can understand it was something, but not the real thing. So there may be many things, but everything is mixed with the mundane conception.
Srila Guru Maharaj and Sripad Jajavar Maharaj used to talk together, and sometimes those talks were very heavy. Srila Guru Maharaj always supported the consciousness line whereas Sripad Jajavar Maharaj always analysed and categorised everything—he would see things from an analytical viewpoint. Analysing may not always be bad; but when you want to stand in the plane of consciousness, and if you can stand there, then you can see everything, otherwise not. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur says:
vichaksana kari', dekhite chahile
If you want to analyse everything, it will disappear from your view. When you go to put your eye to that subject to look, scrutinise and analyse, it will then disappear. If you take that approach, it will be very difficult for you. But if you stay in the real conscious plane everything will appear before you.
There are two kinds of appearance—real appearance and illusory appearance. Where there is mundane consciousness, something is appearing, but we can say that is illusion. That illusory appearance may sometimes be achieved by the application of the power of the yogis, or by the use of drugs, but it is all illusory. By controlling the senses the yogis can stay in some plane of consciousness but that is not the real Krishna conscious plane.
yamadibhir yoga-pathaih, kama-lobha-hato muhuh
Srimad Bhagavatam 1.6.35
What we may see through the practice of yoga—yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, dharana, dhyana, etc.—is also the shadow, not the real thing. Through yoga, at best we can see only the light of Paramatma and have some connection with Him. But we cannot attain to the Pastimes of Krishna and the world of Krishna through that method.
In Sri Brahma-samhita, it is said:
"When my heart is full with Krishna-prema and my eyes are decorated with the love of dedication and they get that transcendental vision, then I shall be able to see in my heart and everywhere those Pastimes of Vrindavan."
Devotion is the necessity. Srila Rupa Goswami clearly says that only by devotion is one able to feel and see everything.
Sometimes devotees would ask Srila Guru Maharaj, "What should I think about when I chant the Hare Krishna mahamantra? Should I think of the Deity, or the devotees, or their paraphernalia?"
Srila Guru Maharaj would reply, "No, nothing—you only pray to Sri Nam, 'Please show Your form,' and chant without offence. When that transcendental Nam Prabhu will appear in your heart, your body will also become transcendental, chinmaya deha."
The scriptures give us many directions about how to practise devotional life. They are something like instructions from an expert who can make a particular thing. An expert in electronics can build several tape-recorders or radios every day. It is very easy for him. He is qualified so he can give instructions to others about how to do it: "If you do like this and this, you will also be qualified and you will find it to be a very easy thing."
The scriptures come to us in a similar way. Vyasadev and other rsis and munis are very expert and they express, "If you try to practise in this way, it is very easy." But actually to go to that plane is very hard. We see that there are many disturbances, many offences, and other obstacles.
When one tries to start a generator, it is first necessary to do some cranking. A lot of power is required and it is troublesome and difficult, but once the generator is running, it can produce full power—maybe a thousand kilowatts or more. At first though, when one tries by hand to start it up for generating power, it is difficult. Similarly, our present stage is hard for us, no doubt, but once we get going it will be easier. In the practising stage one feels something: some happiness, cleanness, enthusiasm, and many things.
The first class stage, the highest stage, is when we can firmly stay in the plane of Krishna consciousness, and that is the paramahamsa stage. In many places it is recorded that everything comes from Krishna and everything belongs to Krishna. To be fully in that consciousness is the paramahamsa stage. When that consciousness comes we shall easily harmonise with everything. In the midst of the whole environment, we shall be able to tolerate everything.
When Krishna established the Pancha Pandavas in their kingdom, He said to Kunti Devi, "Now everything is settled here. Stay here happily. I am going to see My Dvaraka, My kingdom, and see how things are going on there." Krishna was ready to leave by chariot, and while standing in front of everyone, Kunti Devi approached Him and prayed:
vipadah santu tah sasvat
Srimad Bhagavatam 1.8.25
"My dear Krishna, You are thinking we are very happy now, but actually it is not so. We are very sad because You are going back to Dvaraka. I do not want this kingdom. I can leave everything if only You will stay here; but now You will not stay, so rather I am praying that those earlier days of danger will again come to us, and that these present 'happy' days will leave! I want those dangerous times because during danger we get Your presence, and with Your presence comes all auspiciousness. Whoever sees Your face will not take birth in this mundane world again."
The main point is that at first when we start in our devotional life some trouble must come, but once we are running we will go very easily. We shall feel it to be a very easy thing to practise Krishna consciousness. When we are established in the faithful plane we will have no problem. Only it is necessary to stay in the faithful plane and then our chariot will run. However, the beginning part is difficult because our soul is covered by ahankar thus we cannot differentiate between the ahankar and our soul. It is therefore necessary to engage in the initial cleansing practices in order to differentiate properly.
ahankara nivrttanam, kesavo nahi duragah
The obstruction is our ego, ahankar. Ahankar means false ego, but that definition is not very accurate. Ahankar means a particular kind of world—a whole world with so many things within it. "My mother, my father, my brother, my wife, my house, my garden, my everything... And: I can do this, I can do that, I have done it; and before me, my father did this and that..." The ahankar world is a very big world! It is not only ego; to say only 'ego' is not sufficient, but it is an expanding world. If we can detach ourselves from that egoistic world then immediately we can establish ourselves in the faithful plane, and after that we will have no problem. Therefore I described the paramahamsa level as the plane from which, in our earlier analogy, the 'generator' is already running. Srila Prabhupad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur came into this world to teach us the practical paramahamsa class by his conduct, writings and speech.
Many things may be wrong according to the mundane law, but everything belongs to Krishna. In Srimad Bhagavad-gita (18.17) Sri Krishna says to Arjuna:
yasya nahankrto bhavo, buddhir yasya na lipyate
("He who is free from egotism (arising from aversion to the Absolute), and whose intelligence is not implicated (in worldly activities)—even if he kills every living being in the whole world, he does not kill at all, neither does he suffer a murderer's consequences.")
The point Krishna is making is that no sin will touch you if you stay in that faithful plain of the transcendental world.
Many symptoms come in a practitioner's life. The first symptom is enthusiasm—and by the inspiration of Srila Swami Maharaj many newcomers were very eager in their peaching: "My Guru said I must preach and he said everything belongs to Krishna, everything is Krishna's property and we are the servitors of Krishna so we must use everything." In this way they very enthusiastically preached in the West. Within our mundane law it is offensive to take property from a hotel, for instance, but some of them did not care for that. They thought, "They are making offence because they have the mentality, 'It is my property, it is my hotel.' But actually they are all thieves, we are not thieves."
Srila Swami Maharaj gave the real conception of Krishna consciousness, no doubt, and if we are one hundred percent pure then we shall have no problem. But if we are not cent-percent pure and if there is any tendency to imitate, some problems must come. Imitation is hard to recognise—and if we cannot recognise what is imitation and what is pure, we will be faced with problems. So it is necessary to differentiate between what is imitation and what is pure.
Srila Swami Maharaj spread the wave of Krishna consciousness all over the world, and now the time has come for preaching the conception of Srila Guru Maharaj. My hope is a very deep hope—I always hope in a very big way—and I am always surprised to see in which way Krishna consciousness is spreading all over the world.
prthivite achhe yata nagaradi-grama
Sri Chaitanya-bhagavat, Antya-khanda, 4.126
"My Holy Name will be preached in every town and village of the world." It is a miracle that it has happened in only a few years. If we think about it we cannot believe how it is possible. Srila Swami Maharaj tried very hard for his first year in America, but he could not successfully achieve anything. For one year he tried so hard to get that generator going; but when it started, then immediately the whole world lit up through Krishna consciousness.
Maybe sometimes we make some offences, perhaps even forty percent of the time we are making some offence. It is our birthright! Because we have taken birth in this mundane world, we can't help but do some imperfect work. But with so much offence in the world we are astonished and cannot guess in which way Krishna consciousness has spread all over the world. Seeing the result of Srila Swami Maharaj's preaching we are very much enlivened.
Srila Prabhupad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur also tried very hard to spread Krishna consciousness. When the Gaudiya Math first started, all the imitation sampradayas became very fearful and they wanted to kill Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur's mission, and wanted to kill him also, but they were not successful. He tried very hard and established sixty-four centres in India and also sent his devotees outside India to Germany, England and America. He tried in that way but he was not so successful with the overseas preaching. After his disappearance some disturbance came to his mission, but still some of his disciples, like Sripad Ban Maharaj and Sripad Goswami Maharaj tried very hard to preach.
Sripad Goswami Maharaj was sent by Srila Prabhupad Saraswati Thakur to London. At one stage he had no money at all, not a farthing. He had a stove in which it was necessary to put four pennies in order to cook, but even that money he did not have. He thought, "What shall I do now?" Soon afterwards the cleaner gave him an envelope and explained he had found it under the table, or perhaps in the door, "Please see what it is." Sripad Goswami Maharaj opened it and saw a cheque for 1300 pounds. He was surprised!
Previously he had written to the Maharaj of Baroda: "I am in much trouble for lack of money, please send me something as a donation"—and now that money had come. His immediate concern was for some breakfast, otherwise with no food he would get sick, but how to release the money? That morning, as soon as the bank opened, he went to cash the cheque, but as he had no account, the bank clerk asked him for some identification: "You are Mr. Goswami? Can you show that?" He had no proof of identity and also being Indian he was perhaps not very conscious about that. However, the previous day he had attended a meeting and his photo was published in that day's newspaper. Suddenly he saw the newspaper lying on the counter and pointed it out to the bank official, "I attended that meeting, look, there is my photo." Then that man immediately gave him the money!
Anyhow, Sripad Goswami Maharaj tried very hard in London but was not so successful. Maybe he planted some seeds in the soil of England, but it is very true that he was not successful in achieving anything substantial. Also Sripad Bon Maharaj tried in Germany, France and America but he also was not so successful.
Many years later, Srila Swami Maharaj tried and he was successful. He had also tried to preach in India but without much success, but his intention had always been to go to the West to preach, and he eventually did so. That history you know: for one year he tried to generate something there. Then it took off by the mercy of Krishna and Nityananda Prabhu, and its light spread all over the world in such a short time. I am very surprised, and also full of joy in my heart. I am thinking, "How is it possible?"
When Buddhism, 'Sankarism' or whatever other 'ism' appeared, it took such a long time before they were accepted by the people, or it would sometimes take the influence of a king or some special event to help a particular conception to spread and be preached widely. In whatever way, it generally took a very long time. But within five to ten years Srila Swami Maharaj was able to spread Krishna consciousness all over the world. And Mahaprabhu foretold it:
prthivite achhe yata nagaradi-grama
When we see this we feel very happy in our heart and think, "Here a transcendental thing must be present!" We may be able to see or not see, that is another thing, but we can feel it is present there.
So, I am not immediately looking at any fault of the devotees. What the devotees either in the West or East are doing, I think they are doing very nicely. I immediately remember Srila Swami Maharaj and Srila Guru Maharaj, and feel, "Maybe they are doing a little wrong, but that is no problem."
I do not know what is the will of Krishna and Mahaprabhu now, but real Krishna consciousness has spread, no doubt, so there is a substantial serving chance for the conditioned souls, and I think that in some way or other it must spread more, and everyone will be benefitted in that way.
We see many acharyas in this world. Perhaps they are not all perfect, but somehow they are trying and at least they are doing some raw, first cultivation. When cultivating crops there must first be ploughing, then planting the seed, then watering, etc. In that way we can say the work is going on very nicely.
When there is a war, many soldiers die. Also many women, children, property and other things are lost. In a war it is inevitable, it must be so. So this is also one kind of war— with Maya, Durga. It is a revolt. Some revolutionary environment has been created by Srila Swami Maharaj, Srila Guru Maharaj and others. So some will die or be injured but the gates of Durga's prison-house have been broken. Otherwise, how is it that people all over the world are chanting 'Hare Krishna'? The revolution has already erupted and in the fighting some may be injured and some may die, but the gate has been broken and the prisoners are running to Vaikuntha.
Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur described the Pastimes of Krishna and Radharani in a very respectful way. From his writings we can understand what is our highest destination. At the present time there may be some difficulty in different ways for many people, but this special type of knowledge, this Krishna consciousness, will come to the prisoners sleeping under Maya.
The prisoners were sleeping but now with this consciousness they have woken up, a revolt has broken out in the prison and they are escaping. We are so fortunate that in our time it has happened and we are seeing it. It could have come in the past or it could have come in the future but we are so fortunate to see the revolution happening now. We have seen many things and we have had the association of the Generals and soldiers—that also is our fortune. Now if we can proceed to our destination in a harmonised way that will be ultimately fruitful for us all. Hare Krishna.
|HARE KRISHNA HARE KRISHNA KRISHNA KRISHNA HARE HARE | HARE RAMA HARE RAMA RAMA RAMA HARE HARE|
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