14/A Drop of Divine Love
Only Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu can give the conception of full-fledged theism. It is His grace, His sweet will. It is His own wealth, not the property of many. Krishna is an autocrat. He is the highest. And whomever He selects to receive His own wealth will get it. No one can raise the question of "no taxation without representation"-there is no room for that sort of slogan here.
In order to explain this for our benefit, Bhaktivinoda Thakura, taking himself as a fallen soul, says, "My position is that of a servant of Krishna, but I am devoid of Krishna. What am I? I am a slave of Krishna, a slave of the Lord, but I am devoid of my master? What an ironic thing it is." You can wail, you can repent, you can mourn, but all rights are reserved by Him. And when you awaken to that higher stage of self-surrender, you will get that wealth. But still, we must conceive that Krishna is above all law. Otherwise, surrender is meaningless.
If we analyze the very basis of surrender, we must ask where does surrender begin? In full surrender, there are no rights. Whenever any rights are established, surrender becomes unnecessary. We cannot think, "We must fight for our innate rights." To a certain extent we may try for our rights in this world, but in Krishna's pastimes this mentality has no place.
"All Rights Reserved"
Even the goddess of fortune, Laksmidevi, cannot enter there, what to speak of others. It is inconceivable. Krishna is not under any law or within anyone's fist. "All rights reserved." Everything is His sweet will. But He is absolute good; that is our solace. We cannot enter His domain as a matter of right. Even Lord Brahma, Lord Siva, and Laksmidevi cannot enter there. But still, if we take the path chalked out by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, we can enter and achieve a position there.
It is so dear, so rare, so valuable and desireable. We must look for the magnanimity of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu which is aspired for by Lord Brahma and Lord Siva. They are praying for a drop of His mercy, but Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu brought that here in a flood and inundated everyone with that nectar, a drop of which is rarely to be had or even thought of. We must approach His mercy with such an attitude of hankering and expectation. His gift is so great and magnanimous-who can understand it?
With two verses of Srimad Bhagavatam, one from the mouth of Krishna Himself, and the next from the mouth of Uddhava, He takes us straight to that highest place, eliminating so many external things. Krishna says:
na tatha me priyatama atma-yonir na sankarah na ca sankarsano na srir naivatma ca yatha bhavan
"O, Uddhava! Neither Brahma, nor Siva, nor Baladeva, nor Laksmi, nor even My own self are as dear to Me as you are."
And Uddhava says,
asam aho carana-renu-jusam aham syam vrndavane kim api gulma-latausadhinam ya dustyajam svajanam arya-patham ca hitva bhejur mukunda-padavim srutibhir vimrgyam
"The gopis of Vrndavana have given up the association of their husbands, sons, and other family members, who are very difficult to renounce, and they have sacrificed even their religious principles to take shelter of the lotus feet of Krishna, which are sought after even by the Vedas. O! Grant me the fortune to be born as a blade of grass in Vrndavana, so that I may take the dust of those great souls upon my head."
The Progressive March Towards Divinity
The gradation of theism can be traced from Lord Brahma, the creator of the universe, to Krishna's intimate friend Uddhava in Dvaraka. And Uddhava takes us directly to Vrndavana to reveal the highest devotion, eliminating various prospects in our progressive march towards divinity. We have to march on. And the way is that of surrender, of loving devotion, not mere formal devotion.
vaikuntaj janito vara madhu-puri tatrapi rasotsavad vrndaranyam udara-pani-ramanat tatrapi govardhanah radha-kundam ihap gokula-pateh premamrtaplavanat kuryad asya virajato giri-tate sevam viveki na kah
"Superior to the spiritual realm of Vaikuntha is Mathura, where Sri Krishna first appears. Superior to Mathura is the Vrndavana forest where Krishna enjoyed the rasa dance. Better still is Govardhana hill, which was the site of even more confidential pastimes of love. But best of all is Radha-kunda, which is situated at the foot of Govardhana hill, and holds the supreme position because it is overflooded with the nectar of the highest kind of divine love. Who is acquainted with the science of devotion who will not aspire for the divine service of Srimati Radharani at Radha-kunda?"
The Heart of Krishna
We must place our faith in these subtle things. Only through faith of a finer order can we be led to that highest quarter. The highest conception is in the heart of Krishna, and we have to enter into the heart of Krishna, not any other place.
Although Krisna's conjugal pastimes with the gopis (madhurya-lila) are supeme, they cannot stand alone: there are many other things which are present in His pastimes. Krishna's pastimes with His friends and parents are essential in supporting His pastimes of amorous love.
Conjugal love is, of course, the main thing, but still it is dependent on the other paraphernalia of Krishna's pastimes. There must be Krishna's family and friends and all the different groups of servitors. Even the environment of Vrndavana itself also has its valuable part to play.
And what is Vrndavana? The sands of the river Yamuna, the jungle, the birds, peacocks, and deer, the cows, cowboys, and caves of Govardhana hill, the motherly relatives-everything is there, and it is well-designed and most suitable for the pastimes of Sri Krishna.
Vrndavana is necessary for the pastimes of Radha and Govinda. When Radharani meets Krishna in Kuruksetra, Her mind runs to Vrndavana. She thinks, "Krishna is here and I am also here," but Her mind runs to Vrndavana. In Kuruksetra, Srimati Radharani is hankering for the environment of Vrndavana; She wants to have Sri Krishna's company there. All of Krishna's paraphernalia and divine associates have their own unique value, and cannot be eliminated.
Radha-Govinda cannot be taken away from Vrndavana anymore than Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu can be taken away from Nabadwipa. The whole thing is a system. One part cannot be snatched away from the other parts. All the devotees have a necessary part to play in order to create the harmony of Krishna's pastimes. Otherwise, it would not be living, but dead, artificial, useless. It cannot even be imagined. Krishna-lila is an organic whole.
Srimati Radharani says, "My mind is running straight towards Vrndavana. I have the main object of pleasure, Krishna Himself, but it is useless without the favorable paraphernalia of Vrndavana." So Radharani's pain of separation rises to the highest point in Kuruksetra, where She has attained the object of Her union after a long separation. There, Krishna is very close, but, without being surrounded by the favorable paraphernalia of Vrndavana, She cannot have the real advantage of union. In this way, Bhaktivinoda Thakura has explained the mood of Srimati Radharani in Kuruksetra.
A Revolutionary Guru
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura once revealed the importance of Kuruksetra in a unique way. The words of our guru maharaja were mostly very revolutionary. When I was a beginner with only two years or so in the Gaudiya Math, I was in charge of the Kuruksetra temple. Once, I came to the Calcutta headquarters at the hired house in Ulta Danga for the yearly preaching festival. After the festival I was to return to Kuruksetra. Srila Prabhupada was thinking of opening a "Theistic Exhibition" in Kuruksetra, showing with dioramas how Krishna and His friends came there from Dvaraka, and the gopis came there from Vrndavana.
It is mentioned in Srimad Bhagavatam that during the solar eclipse, they came to bathe in Brahma-kunda, a sacred lake in Kuruksetra. Srila Prabhupada wanted to show that pastime with a diorama, and so the exhibition was arranged. He ordered handbills to be printed, and twenty thousand circulated in the area, inviting people to come for the exhibition.
Vrndavana-For Shallow Thinkers?
In this connection, he told us, "You all know that only the bogus, hollow people and men of shallow thinking like Vrndavana." I was very much perplexed to hear this. I had been told that Vrndavana is the highest place of spiritual perfection. I had heard that one who has not mastered his senses cannot enter Vrndavana. Only the liberated souls can enter Vrndavana and have the opportunity of discussing krsna-lila. Vrndavana is for the liberated souls. Those who are not liberated from the demands of their senses may live in Nabadwipa, but the liberated souls may live in Vrndavana. Now Prabhupada was saying tha the shallow thinkers appreciate Vrndavana, but a man of real bhajana, real divine aspiration, will aspire to live in Kuruksetra.
Hearing this, I felt as if I had fallen from the top of a tree. "What is this?" I thought. I am a very acute listener, so I was very keen to catch the meaning of his words. The next thought he gave us was that Bhaktivinoda Thakura, after visiting many different places of pilgrimage, remarked, "I would like to spend the last days of my life in Kuruksetra. I shall construct a cottage near Brahma-kunda and pass the rest of my life there. Kuruksetra is the real place of bhajana."
Why? Service is more valuable according to the intensity of its necessity. Shrewd merchants seek a market in wartime because in that dangerous position, money is spent like water, without any care for its value. They can earn more money if a war comes. In the same way, when Srimati Radharani's necessity reaches its zenith, service to Her becomes extremely valuable. According to its necessity, service is valued. And in Kuruksetra, Srimati Radharani is in the highest necessity because Krishna is so close, but Their Vrndavana lila is impossible. in a football game, if the ball is just inches from the goal, but again comes back, it is considered a great loss. In the same way, after a long separation, Krishna is there in Kuruksetra, so the hankering for union felt by His devotees must come to its greatest point, but because He is in the role of a king, they cannot meet intimately. The circumstances do not allow the Vrndavana lila to take place. So at that time, Srimati Radharani needs the highest service from Her group, the sakhis.
Bhaktivinoda Thakura says that in that situation, a drop of service will draw the greatest amount of prema, divine love. In the pastimes of Radha-Govinda, there are two aspects: sambhoga, divine union, and vipralambha, divine separation. When Radha and Krishna are very near to each other, but can't meet intimately, service at that time can draw the greatest gain for the servitors. Therefore, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura says, "I shall construct a hut on the banks of Brahma-kunda in Kuruksetra and contemplate rendering service to the Divine Couple. If I can achieve that standard where the prospect of service is so high, then there is no possibility of returning to this mundane plane at any time."
The Fifth Note
Upon arriving in Kuruksetra, Srimati Radharani said:
pryah so'yam krsnah sahacari kuru-ksetra-militas tathaham sa radha tad idam ubhayoh sangama-sukham tathapy antah-khelan-madhura-murali-pancama-juse mano me kalindi-pulina-vipinaya sprhayati
"O my dear friend, now I am at last reunited with My most beloved Krishna in Kuruksetra. I am the same Radharani, and He is the same Krishna. We are enjoying Our meeting, but still I wish to return to the banks of the Kalindi, where I could hear the sweet melody of His flute sounding the fifth note beneath the trees of the Vrndavana forest." (Padyavali)
Wherever Radharani and Krishna are, Vrndavana is necessary. And Vrndavana means the favorable paraphernalia. In this way, Vrndavana is unique. When Krishna met the inhabitants of Vrndavana in Kuruksetra, He first came to Nanda and Yasoda's camp after their long separation, to show parental respect to them. In the midst of their great disappointment, they felt, "Oh, our boy has come to see us at last." It was as if life had returned to the dead. After some courtesy was shown to them, Krishna made arrangements to meet privately with the gopis, and suddenly He appeared in their camp. Externally, Krishna was the leader of so many kings in India. And the gopis had come from some unknown quarter, where they lived in the jungle in the society of milkmen. Externally, they had no position, and Krishna held the highest position in the political and royal society. He was the central figure, like the eyeball in every eye. And they were in a helpless, poor and neglected condition. The gopis pleaded with Krishna, saying:
ahus ca te nalina-nabha padaravindam yogesvarair hrdi vicintyam agadha-bodhaih samsara-kupa-patitottaranavalambam geham jusam api manasy udiyat sada nah
The group of gopis told Krishna, "O You who have a lotus navel, we know that the great master yogis who have nothing to do with this mundane world try to meditate upon Your holy lotus feet. Their interest is in higher realization in the conscious world. They are said to center their highest attention on Your lotus feet. And those who are busy elevating their life in this world of exploitation are also busy worshiping Your lotus feet to escape the entanglement of action and reaction. The center of interest for the elevationists (karmis) and the salvationists (jnanis and yogis) is Your lotus feet.
"And what are we? We are simple people from the country with cows as our wealth. We are animal traders who live in the country, trade in the cow business, and sell curd and milk on the outskirts of society. We are neither scientific exploiters (karmis), nor are we the kind of exploiters who do research in the world of consciousness. We only know family life. We have no other qualifications. We are busy with our family life in the lower section of society. But in our audacity, we pray that if at any time You would kindly condescend to extend Your lotus feet to our negligible hearts, we would think ourselves blessed. We are busy in our family matters. We do not know scriptural life or the methods of the salvationists. We know nothing of yoga, jnana, Vedanta or the Vedas. Our ultimate concern is neither with scriptures or moral standards. We hold a negligible position in society and simply pray that in the midst of our family life we may remember Your holy lotus feet. Please grant this to us. We can't expect anything more from You." That was their petition.
Krishna replied to them, saying:
mayi bhaktir hi bhutanam amrtatvaya kalpate distya yad asin mat-sneho bhavatinam mad-apanah
"Yes, I know. People want devotion to me to achieve eternal life. To cross the limit of mortality and to have eternal life, they come to Me and worship Me. For these reasons they want My service, but fortunately for you, you have some natural affection towards Me. That will utimately bring you to Me."
That is the formal or superficial meaning of what was spoken by Krishna and the gopis. But the great preceptors of our line have squeezed out another meaning from these prayers. They are conscious of the real, private relationship between the two parties, so they have drawn out another meaning based on the divine sentiment between the lover and beloved. When the gopis prayed to Sri Krishna at Kuruksetra, their real meaning was this: "Oh, we remember that one day You sent Uddhava to console us. He recited many scriptural references about how the whole world is mortal, how it is nothing, how we shall all have to die-affection has no great value; attachment must be cut out. He said that we must try to liberate ourselves from any attraction for the environment and attain salvation. You wanted to tell all these apparently sweet things to us through Uddhava.
"Now, You Yourself are also showing us the same path. You say that You are great and that everyone should try, for their highest interest, to think of You." This explanation is found in Caitanya Caritamrta. The gopis tell Krishna, "Do you think we are yogis who will be satisfied with abstract meditation on You? Can we be satisfied by imagination? We are not a party to that. Neither are we karmis fruitive workers who are incurring a great debt from nature, who come to Your door to get relief, praying, 'O God, please relieve us from all our previous sins.' We do not belong to either of these two sections. "What are we? We want to live with You as Your family. We are interested neither in abstract thinking, nor in using You to clear off the faults of karma to nullify our sinful activities. We don't want to use You for any other purpose. We want to have a direct family life with You. Don't You know that? And still You send messages through Uddhava, and now this! Aren't You ashamed of Yourself?" This is their inner meaning.
Krishna's Inner Answer
Krishna's answer also has an inner aspect. He replies, "You know, everyone wants Me. Through devotion they want me to help them attain the highest position in the world of eternal benefit. If they have a connection with Me, they consider themselves fortunate. But on the other hand, I consider Myself fortunate because I have come in touch with the valuable affection that I found in your hearts."
The gopis read the inner meaning in that way. And when Radharani could see into the inner meaning of Krishna's reply, She became satisfied. "Wherever He may be in the physical sense," She thought, "At heart, He is Mine alone." She composed her troubles within and returned to Vrndavana thinking, "He cannot but come to join our party again very soon."
In Padyavali, Srila Rupa Goswami reveals the inner meaning of this verse. When Krishna came to the camp of gopis in Kuruksetra, He suddenly found Srimati Radharani and stooped down as if to touch Her feet. Radharani began backing away, saying, "What are you doing! You are trying to touch My feet?" She shuddered, "You have done nothing wrong. You are My master. You are at liberty to do whatever you want. I am Your maidservant and should try with every nerve to satisfy You. You have commited no crime. I am the criminal. How? I still drag on my body and life. This is my crime-I could not die from Your separation! Still, I show My face to the public-I am not worth Your divine affection. The whole burden of breaking the law of love is on My head."
Not a Bit of Divine Love
In this way Srimati Radharani spoke. And in a similar verse, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu says:
na prema-gandho'sti darapi me harau krandami saubhagya-bharam prakasitum vamsi-vilasy-anana-lokanam vina vibharmi yat prana-patangakan vrtha
"I have not even a bit of divine love for Krishna within Me. Not even a scent of love for Krishna is to be traced within Me. You may ask, 'Then why are you shedding tears profusely, uninterruptedly? Day and night, You are always shedding tears for Krishna. How do you explain this?' Oh, you don't know. I only do this to make a show and deceive the people in general into thinking that I have divine love for Krishna. In this way I want to become famous as a great devotee of Krishna. But I am a hypocrite. Why do I say so? The positive proof is this: I still live. I could not die! If I had any real love for Krishna, I would have died from His separation. That is the positive proof that I have no trace of krsna-prema within Me."
Krishna-prema is so high and attractive that once coming in contact with it, no one can maintain his life without it. It is so high, so beautiful, so enchanting-it is heart-swallowing! It is impossible even to conceive of it. Divine love of such a high degree is known as prema. That divine love for Krishna is not to be traced in this mundane world. If by chance someone had any experience of that high and vital kind of devotion, then by any separation from that, he would die instantly. It is so beautiful and magnanimous. We are out to search only for that divine love in this world. And Sriman Mahaprabhu came to distribute that to the world for our sake.
"Let us Take Poison"
I have heard that a group of people in South America committed collective suicide because they felt that their faithful way of life was going to be destroyed by the present civilization. They could not tolerate that, but rather, they thought, "Let us take posion and leave this world behind. Then we can live safely in the world of our faith. We have no charm for anything in this mundane world. Let us go with peace. We are members of the peaceful world. Let us enjoy that peace which is independent of material acquisition."
We can agree that there is no charm here that shall make us hesitate to withdraw from this world, but we must also disagree and say that our life in this world is valuable. Why? With this life we can acquire a higher aspiration. We can have the chance of acquiring the goal from this plane. This human life is so valuable that with it we can take the path of the highest divine conception. This human body is highly valued and rarely achieved. In Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.9.29) it is stated:
labdhva su-durlabham idam bahu-sambhavante manusyam artha-dam anityam apiha dhirah turnam yateta na pated anu-mrtyu yavan nihsreyasaya visayah khalu sarvatah syat
"The human form of life is very rarely attained, and although temporary, gives us a chance to achieve the surpeme goal of life. Therefore, those who are grave and intelligent should immediately strive for perfection befor another death occurs. There are so many forms of life: the aquatics, the vegetable kingdom, the animals, the birds, ghosts and other living beings, but only in this human position do we hold the key to the complete solution of the problems of lifel."
If we can use this human life in a valuable way, we can acquire the key by which to become free from the whole chain of life in this troublesome world. We can get rid of the bondage of all sorts of physical and mental troubles. The key is here, in this human form of life. Jiva Goswami says that lower life-forms have insufficient understanding to realize the highest truth. And in the higher life- forms, such as demigods, because previously acquired energy or karma has accumulated on all sides, the chief enjoying elements are surrounding the living being. It is difficult to escape the charm of those influences and begin the prospect of a fresh life in a higher plain of consciuosness. This human form of life is the most advantageous position to escape this engtanglement and reach the highest object of our divine life.
The Highest Conception of Magnanimity
Sometimes people ask, "Why did Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu choose to give the highest conception of divine love-krsna-prema-to the lowest class of people, to the people of Kali-yuga?" But that is the very nature of Sri Caitanya-avatara. Why did the gopis who are considered to be in the most exalted devotees come from a neglected social position? What is the meaning of the highest conception of magninimity? What should be its nature? To help the most needy. And because Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu comes from the highest position, He cannot give ordinary things, and His attention must be drawn to the most needy. Is it unnatural? The highest magninimity must take notice of the lowest and most needy. And if He wants to help them, He will do so with His own coin. He cannot distribute to them only glass or stone chips. When He has the opulence of jewels and gems, why should He search for stone chips to distribute to the lowest level? He must extend to the lowest and poorest people what He thinks to be real wealth.
Mahaprabhu-The Great Messiah
So we should all fall at the feet of the great Messiah, Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu. His devotees say, "If we had to conceive of a place where Gauranga had not appeared, we could not maintain our lives. We shudder to think of living without such a magnanimous friend of Sri Gauranga," How could one live his life without Gauranga? It is impossible. The world is not worth living in without Gauranga. Sri Gauranga is most magnanimous. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates the Panca-tattva have come to raise all souls from their fallen condition. Generally, only deserving persons can gain entrance into Vrndavana, into krsna-lila. But as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Krishna Himself has come down to cure the offenders of their offenses and grant them entrance into Vrndavana. Simpoly by chanting the names of the Panca-tattva and by remembering their lila, we can be purified even from the lowest position and prepare for participation in Vrndavana lila.
In Goloka Vrndavana, Radha-Govinda are enjoying Their pastimes of divine love within Their own circle. And there is another quarter, where Radha-Govinda are combined as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu- Krishna Himself in the mood of Radharani is tasting His own sweetness with His entourage. We have to realize this through the recommended process. Who is Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu? He came here to bestow upon us the gift that will promote us to the highest goal of life.
To bring Sri Gauranga nearer to our soul is to get, even unconsciously, a guarantee of our achievement in krsna-lila. For the fallen souls it is more useful to cultivate devotion for Sri Gauranga. That will give us the complete fulfillment of life with least trouble. Devotion to Gauranga will not lead us to any haphazard or misconceived Krishna consciousness, but real Krishna consciousness. We can have full Krishna consciousness-plus something more. What is that? The distribution of Krishna consciousness. Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami, the giver of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, the most valuable theological literature that has ever seen the light of day, has written:
krsna-lila amrta-sara, tara sata sata dhara, dasa-dike vahe yaha haite se caitanya-lila haya, sarovara aksaya, mano-hamsa caraha' tahate
"What is krsna-lila? It is the real essence of nectar. It is the gist of sweetness, happiness, and ecstasy. The sweetness of the sweetest thing that can ever be conceived is represented in krsna-lila. Then what is caitanya-lila? In caitanya-lila, that sweet nectar of krsna-lila is flowing in all ten directions in hundreds of streams as if from a fountain. That fountain is caitanya-lila." Although caitanya-lila appears later than krsna-lila, caitanya-lila is the source, the foundation. We see that Krishna appeared in Dvapara-yuga, in the previous age, and then Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu appeared later, in Kali-yuga. Still, Their lila is eternal. First there is the giver, then the gift. And the gift of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is that in all the ten directions, He is distributing unlimited streams of sweet krsna-lila to the world.
Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami concludes, "O devotees, come! Like so many swans, you must swim in the lake of Caitanya Mahaprabhu's pastimes. From that lake krsna-lila is flowing to the world in different streams. Devotees, like clouds, take nectar from that lake, and distribute that nectar freely to the fortunate souls. Come and live in that lake. Ask the swan of your mind to take shelter in that lake. May that swan swim in the nectarine lake of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's life and precepts, from where so many hundreds of streams of nectar are flowing in all directions. O devotees, I offer this humble prayer to you."
Nitai Gaura Haribol !
Sri Chaitanya Saraswath Math
Kolerganj, P.O.Nabadwip,DT. Nadia, W.Bengal, PIN 741302, India