All Glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga
The Loving Search for the Lost Servant
by Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Deva Goswami Maharaja
A Christian theologian predicted that Christianity is on the verge of a Copernican revolution. Prior to Copernicus, it was believed that the earth was at the center of the universe, and that the sun and other planets orbited the earth. Until recently, in the Western world it has been thought that Christianity was the central conception of divinity in the theistic universe. But as Western man has begun to gaze Eastward, he has discovered a plurality of theistic conceptions orbiting the Supreme Truth.
Accepting that plurality, we must also accept the accompanying gradations of theism, superior and inferior. As the planets are situated according to their gravitational attraction for the sun, the varieties of theistic conception are situated higher or lower according to their attraction toward the Absolute Center. The Krsna conception of divinity is one of being irresistibly drawn in attraction toward the infinite center of all love, beauty, and harmony.
The infinite can make Himself known to the finite, and the divine agent through whom this function manifests is Sri Guru or the divine guide. His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Deva Goswami is an agent of divinity and a messenger of that supreme reality. He has reminded us that we are all "sons of nectar, " and that we shall have to "die to live," "dive deep into reality," and enter the "land of dedication." As much as we sacrifice ourselves in this plane, we shall become released from its influence and be drawn through dedication into the higher plane of reality where the divine pastimes "move in a crooked way." And there we will find the "hidden treasure of the Sweet Absolute" in the service of Srimati Radharani.
His Divine Grace has informed us that the heart's inner hankering for ecstasy, charm, and sweetness, leads it in the search for Sri Krsna – Reality the Beautiful. The Krsna conception of divinity is so irresistible that even Krsna Himself becomes overwhelmed by His own potency and is madly engaged in tasting His own sweetness, ecstatically dancing, and thereby distributing that sweetness to others. In Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Goswami describes that while dancing at the Ratha-yatra, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu would sometimes fall in an ecstatic swoon and appear like ''a golden mountain rolling on the ground." Srila Sridhara Maharaja describes that "In the agony of separation from Krsna, ecstatic eruptions of ecstasy flowed like lava from the heart of the Golden Volcano of Divine Love, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu."
And now in The Loving Search for the Lost Servant, we find that the Lord's heart is such that He also feels the agony of separation from His fallen devotees, and as they are engaged in searching for Him, He is also engaged in a loving search for His lost servants.
Bhakti Sudhira Goswami
amnayah praha tattvam harim iha
paramam sarva-saktim rasabdhim
tad bhinnamsams ca jivan prakrti-
kavalitan tad vimuktams ca bhavat
bhedabheda-prakasam sakalam api
hareh sadhanam suddha-bhaktim
sadhyam tat pritim evety upadisati
harir-gauracandro bhaje tam
Here, in one verse, Bhaktivinoda Thakura has given the very gist of Gaudiya Vaisnava philosophy. He says, "We are not interested in the opinion of anyone ordinary: there is no value to any opinion other than what is revealed truth (amnaya)." Amnaya means revealed truth or scripture that is coming through a reliable source: the guru-parampara, a genuine succession of gurus.
And what do they say? They enumerate these facts: Hari is all in all (harim iha paramam). What is His nature? He is the master of all potencies (sarva-saktim). And He Himself is the ocean of rasa, ecstasy (rasabdhim).
And the jiva soul is not a direct part of Him, but a part of His potency (tad bhinnamsams ca jivan). Not a plenary portion (svamsa), but a partial portion (vibhinnamsa). Everything is a part of Hari, but svamsa means an avatara and vibhinnamsa means a part of His potency, tatastha-sakti. And by nature, some souls are engrossed in the external potency, and we find some in the lap of the internal potency (prakrti kavalitan tad vimuktams ca bhavat). By their very existence some souls are within the svarupa-sakti and some are outside the svarupa- sakti. Some souls are liberated and some are nonliberated (mukta and amukta). Everything is a part of Hari and has something in common with Him and something different (bhedabheda-prakasamsakalam api hareh). And the only means to attain Him is pure devotion, exclusive devotion (sadhanam suddha-bhaktim). Hari Himself, in the form of Gauracandra, is giving us the understanding that divine love is the highest goal of life (sadhyam yat pritim evaty upadisati harir- gauracandro bhaje tam).
"Why did you stay away? Why have you been living away from home for so long? How was it possible for you? How could you bear My separation? You left Me, and you have been passing lives after lives without Me? Still, I know what trouble you took to return to Me. You searched for Me everywhere and went to beg from house to house, and you were chastised by many, ridiculed by many, and you shed tears for Me. I know all these things. I was with you. And now, after great trouble, you have again come back to Me."
The Lord's Loving Search for His Lost Servants: Great intensity is expressed here in a simple way. It is a mad search – an urgent campaign. With great earnestness Krsna comes to deliver His lost servants. Krsna comes to take us home.
In Brhad-Bhagavatamrta, it is written that once, as Krsna and the cows were returning from the Vrndavana forest at the end of the day, a boy had just attained spiritual emancipation and entered Vrndavana as a cowherd boy (sakhya rasa). Seeing His long lost servant, Krsna embraced him and both of them fainted in ecstasy.
All of Krsna's other cowherd friends were astounded, thinking, "What is this! Krsna has lost His senses by embracing this newcomer? How is it possible!" Then, as all of the cowherd boys looked on astonished, Balarama came to Krsna's relief and somehow managed to rouse Him. Then Krsna addressed His friend with great affection: "Why did you stay away? Why have you been living away from home for so long? How was it possible for you? How could you bear My separation? You left Me, and you have been passing lives after lives without Me? Still, I know what trouble you took to return to Me. You searched for Me everywhere, and went to beg from house to house, and you were chastised by many, ridiculed by many, and you shed tears for Me. I know all these things. I was with you. And now, after great trouble, you have again come back to Me." In this way, Krsna addressed His long lost servant and welcomed him. And when Krsna returned home, He took the newcomer by His side to take prasadam. In this way, a new recruit is earnestly welcomed by Krsna Himself.
So the Lord's search for His lost servants is a loving search; it is not ordinary, but from the heart. And the Lord's heart is not an ordinary heart. Who can estimate what type of search He is engaged in? Although He is full in all respects, still He feels pangs of separation for every one of us, however small we may be. In spite of His supreme position, He has room for us in a corner of His loving heart. This is the nature of the infinite. Such an absolute autocrat, absolute good is Krsna.
An autocrat is not under law. It is not that if Krsna gives Himself to one, another will be lacking. The infinite is not like that; rather there is an infinite supply at His command. So He is the emporium of rasa (akhila-rasamrta-murtih). And He is searching for His lost servants, to bring them home.
Otherwise we have no hope. Our solace, our consolation in life, is that ultimately we are under the care of such a loving Lord. Krsna's friends think, "What do we care for others? We have our Krsna, our friend. " That sort of inner encouragement, that desperate encouragement, comes from within. "Krsna is there, He is our friend. What do we care about anything? We can take poison, we can jump on the head of that big serpent Kaliya, we can do anything. With Krsna behind us, what do we care? This sentiment is expressed by Bhaktivinoda Thakura in his Saranagati.
raksa koribo tuhun niscaya jani pana korobun hama yamuna pani
"Fearless and confident of Your protection, I shall drink the waters of the Yamuna, whether they are poisoned or not. "I am Your property. You must take care of me; You can't leave me."
kaliya-dokha korobi binasa sodhobi nadi-jala badobi asa bhakativinoda tuwa gokula-dhana rakhobi kesava! korato jatana
"Although the Kaliya serpent's venom has poisoned the Yamuna's waters, I know that poison will not act. Your presence will cleanse the waters and so increase our confidence in Your protection.
Bhaktivinoda is now the property of Gokula, Your holy abode, O Kesava. Kindly protect him with care." How are we to enter into such a loving relationship with the Lord? Through the grace of Sri Gauranga. One devotee has said, "If Gauranga had not come, how could we live? And who would inform us about our ultimate prospect in life?" We have such a great prospect. And yet, without Gauranga, who would have come to inform us that we have so much wealth within? And Sri Gauranga says, "You do not know, but you have such a great magnitude of wealth." His coming to inform us of our prospect is like the astrologer who reads a poor man's horoscope and tells him, "Why are you living a poor life? You have immense wealth buried underground. Try to recover it. You are so great and your guardian is so loving and so high, and yet you are wandering like a poor fellow in the street? What is this! You are not helpless; it is not that you have no guardian. You have only to remember your merciful guardian."
In the Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.5.32), where the Kali-yuga avatara is mentioned, we find evidence of the advent of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. There it is said:
1. krsna-varnam tvisa 'krsnam
3. yajnaih sankirtana-prayair
4. yajanti hi su-medhasah
"In the age of Kali, persons of great piety and intelligence will worship the Lord as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He will appear in a golden form chanting Krsna's name, accompanied by His associates and entourage."
After that, there are two other verses about Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu:
dhyeyam sada paribhava-ghnam abhista-doham
tirthaspadam siva-virinci-nutam saranyam
bhrtydrti-ham pranata-pala bhavabdhi-potam
vande maha-purusa te caranaravindam
Srimad Bhagavatam (11.5.33) explains here, "That same personality who came as Ramacandra and Krsna has again appeared. He has come to direct us to the real fulfillment of life. He is drawing the sweetest nectar from above for the sake of everyone. Meditate only on Him and all your troubles will be finished. He purifies all holy places of pilgrimage and great saintly persons by His touch and by His sankirtana. He draws the highest things down from the highest plane. And even Brahma and Siva, puzzled by His noble gift, will begin to praise Him. They will eagerly aspire to take shelter under His lotus feet in surrender. The pains of all who come to serve Him will be removed, and their inner necessities will be fulfilled. And He will take care of those who take shelter of Him; they will be given protection as well as everything they may need. In this world where mortality rules, where we are continually experiencing the undesirable changes of repeated birth and death, in this area where no one wants to live, a great ship will come for us and take us within, and carry us away from this unpleasant position. Let us fall at the feet of that great personality who comes to give us the highest nectar."
dharmistha arya-vacasa yad agad aranyam
maya-mrgam dayitayepsitam anvadhavad
vande maha-purusa te caranaravindam
"O Supreme Lord, You gave up the goddess of fortune and her great opulence, which is most difficult to abandon and is sought after even by the gods. In order to perfectly establish the principles of religion, You left for the forest to honor a brahmana's curse. To deliver the sinful souls who chase illusory pleasures, You search after them and award them Your devotional service. At the same time, You are engaged in a search for Yourself, in a search for Sri Krsna, Reality the Beautiful."
This verse generally applies to Lord Ramacandra, who left His kingdom, and after going with Sitadevi to the forest to discharge the duties designed by His father, chased after the maya-mrgam – the golden deer. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, however, shows how this verse also applies to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He says that the word maya-mrgam means that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu ran after the souls that are enveloped by maya or misconception. The word maya-mrgam, when applied to Ramacandra, means that He ran after Marici, who had taken the form of a golden deer. When applied in the case of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the words maya-mrgam anvadhavat mean "He chased after those souls who are in illusion in order to deliver them. He ran in pursuit of the fallen souls as a savior, to deliver them from maya or illusion."
Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura has also given another interpretation: he says that dayitaya ipsitam means "it is desired by the beloved," that is, the search for Krsna. In this way, He identifies two qualities in the Caitanya avatara: He relieves the fallen souls, and He searches out Krsna in the mood of His beloved (dayitayepsitam anvadhavat). Inspired by the mood of dayita, His beloved, Srimati Radharani, He ran after the souls in bondage to deliver them. Here we find the scriptural reference, the seed of this conception. He is in quest of the lost souls, absorbed in a loving search for His lost servants.
And throughout the whole life of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His other self, Nityananda, it is very clear that They, being the Supreme Entity Themselves, are hunting after the fallen souls to deliver them. This will be the backbone of our conception of the Lord's loving search for His lost servants.
And it is also said:
yada yada hi dharmasya
glanir bhavati bharata
vinasaya ca duskrtam
sambhavami yuge yuge
"Whenever and wherever religion declines and irreligion becomes prevalent, I advent Myself. In order to protect the saintly and punish the wicked, as well as to reestablish religious principles, I appear millennium after millennium." Here, Krsna says, "I come here now and then to help reestablish the scriptural injunctions, as well as to do away with the demoniac." These are the references from the scriptures describing how Krsna comes in search of His servants. By accepting these statements as our starting point, we can see that He is always coming to this world to help the fallen souls, His own servants. What is the position of the fallen souls? In Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja records Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu instructing Sanatana Goswami:
jivera 'svarupa' haya – krsnera 'nitya-dasa'
krsnera 'tatastha-sakti' bhedabheda-prakasa'
krsna bhuli sei jiva anadi-bahirmukha
ataeva maya tare deya samsara dukha
"The constitutional nature of the jiva soul is that of an eternal servant of Krsna; the jiva soul is a manifestation of divinity which is one with Krsna and different from Him. The jiva souls are the marginal potency of the Lord. Though in reality they are servants of Krsna, from time immemorial, they have been engaged in misconception, as exploiting agents." In order to deliver His lost servants, the Lord comes now and then to take them up to His own home.
In other religions we find many messiahs coming to help us to retrace our path from worldly consciousness back to God consciousness. Yet although we see this conception in other countries and other religious traditions, in India it is found in a most profuse and systematic way.
In Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.14.3) Krsna says:
kalena nasta pralaye
mayadau brahmane prokta
dharmo yasyam mad-atmakah
"By the influence of time, the transcendental sound of Vedic knowledge was lost at the time of annihilation. Again, at the time of creation, I first inspired Brahma the creator from within his heart. And then, through Brahma, so many disciples were enlightened. They in turn enlightened their disciples. And in this way, the line of revealed truth descends from Me." And in Bhagavad-gita Krsna says:
imam vivasvate yogam
proktavan aham avyayam
vivasvan manave praha
manur iksvakove 'bravit
imam rajarsayo viduh
sa kaleneha mahata
yogo nastah parantapa
"First I instructed the sun-god Surya in this knowledge, and from Surya it passed to Manu, and from Manu to Iksvaku; so from the beginning of time, I am giving My tidings to others, transmitting the truth that I am the goal through this system of disciplic succession, generation after generation."
In this way, Krsna appears again and again to reclaim His long lost servants. And, as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Krsna is also tasting His own sweetness. When He wants to distribute it to the devotees, the cause is His ecstatic potency (hladini-sakti). When Krsna combines with His potency as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, He becomes the acarya. So Krsna says, acaryam mam vijaniyan: "Know that I am the acarya." His acarya-lila is His self-distribution, and thereby He is taking His lost servants home. His recruitment is to distribute knowledge about Himself and devotion for Himself, and then to take them home.
In Vrndavana, Krsna is tasting rasa within His own circle, and in Navadvipa, as Sri Gauranga with His group, He is tasting Himself and distributing that taste to others. His distribution and recruitment are one and the same. By distributing Himself He is drawing our hearts to Him, taking us home. The self-distribution of the Absolute is meant to draw us back home, back to Godhead, and in this way, the Lord is eternally engaged in His loving search for His lost servants.