Chapter 7 from the book, Going Beyond Vaikuṇṭha, 4th edition by Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja
When Brahmā stole the gopas and calves and Kṛṣṇa Himself became all of them, He took on the same nature as all the boys and calves. He also became the sticks, blankets, everything – all were Kṛṣṇa Himself, and none were different from Him. Brahmā personally experienced this:
durvitarkyā hi sā śaktir adbhutā parameśvarī
kintv asyaikānta-bhakteṣu gūḍham kiñcin na tiṣṭhati
Although Bhagavān’s potency is wonderful and inconceivable, it is not a secret to His exclusive devotees.
But devotees do not keep the same feelings for all of those mūrtis. If they do, then their sentiment will not be perfected. If we see Them all as equal, then will we treat those sticks which Kṛṣṇa became the same as the original form of Kṛṣṇa Himself? Rāmacandra, Nārāyaṇa, Nṛsiṁha, Vāmana – Kṛṣṇa is one with all of Them. So an ordinary man, a neutral person, will consider Them all equal, just as one may consider that all tulasī leaves are equal: which one is smaller or bigger, which one has holes in it, which are dry, wet, or immature doesn’t matter; all are equal. Similarly, those who are neutral say, “For us, all Vaiṣṇavas are equal. We don’t consider who is an uttama-bhāgavata, madhyama-bhāgavata or kaniṣṭha. We see only that they are all Vaiṣṇavas. They all wear saffron cloth, apply tilaka and take harināma, so for us they are all representatives of Bhagavān.”
Some people speak like this, but in bhagavad-bhakti, such neutrality is not desirable. In bhakti there should be exclusive feeling for one mūrti. Kṛṣṇa, Rāma, Nṛsiṁha, Nārāyaṇa – They are all one, but for a devotee one favourite deity (iṣṭadeva) must come. Then there can be perfection in bhajana. Otherwise, the vision that all are equal and that all are one from the viewpoint of tattva is correct, but from the viewpoint of worship (upāsanā), there are some shortcomings in it.
For instance, Kṛṣṇa steals from houses and tells lies. Yaśodā asks, “Hey! Have You been stealing from others’ houses?”
Kṛṣṇa replies, “When could I have done it? Early in the morning you sent Me to the forest to take the cows grazing. All day they are grazing, and then I bring them back in the early evening. Then I come to you. Tell Me, when could I have stolen anything?”
And He had done it, too! This is mugdhatā. This is a positive quality of Bhagavān, which is accepted by devotees, but monists (nirviśeṣavādīs) consider this to be a fault. They consider this to be a defect and will not understand it. This is a quality of Bhagavān’s variegatedness, but a neutral person will not be able to understand it.
In the realm of bhakti, neutrality is the most undesirable thing. Exclusive sentiment is the specific quality of bhakti; therefore in relation to Kṛṣṇa there will never be neutrality. There is neutrality in Brahman, so this is a desirable quality for brahmavādīs, impersonalists. If someone says that complete neutrality is a quality of Kṛṣṇa, then he is certainly a neutral person. In the war between the Pāṇḍavas and the Kauravas, by cleverness and cheating Kṛṣṇa took the side of the Pāṇḍavas, His devotees. One can also say that the sun is neutral. When you are in front of it, it gives you light and heat, but when you remain inside the house you don’t get its rays. Then where is the sun’s neutrality? The Lord is just like this.
Kṛṣṇa is just seated quietly, just like the master of a house is seated. For everything He has appointed a department head and has told everyone, “All of you do your own work!” Then He just sits quietly and oversees them all. Like this Kṛṣṇa possesses all transcendental potencies (śaktis), and lets everyone automatically do their work. In the management of the universe these śaktis see to it that there is never any disturbance. There never has been, and never will be; such is the efficacy of His śaktis.
Kṛṣṇa stole something, and when the news of His theft reached Yaśodā, she became angry. Parabrahma, the Supreme Being, had stolen from houses and broken pots, so He will have to be punished. But because His limbs are so soft, she will not hit Him, but bind Him; then He will learn His lesson. Taking a rope in her hands, she tried to bind Kṛṣṇa, but the rope was short by a measurement of two fingers’ length. She tried again with more rope, and again the rope was two fingers’ length short. Trying and trying, from early until ten o’clock in the morning, the rope was still two fingers’ length short. At that time, Yaśodā was very astonished, and the gopīs were very delighted. Originally they had angrily come to speak against Kṛṣṇa so that He would be given punishment, and now they were clapping their hands and laughing, saying to Yaśodā, “Just see, you cannot control Him! How will you possibly bind Him?” They brought all the ropes of Vraja and still couldn’t bind Him. It was always two fingers’ length short. Yaśodā had applied such a long rope, and neither His waist nor waist ornaments had increased in size, so how is this?
Bhagavān’s acintya-śakti remains in an inactive state, not doing anything, but is always searching for an opportunity for service. Just like the person who doesn’t work all of the time but simply waits for the order of his master, Bhagavān’s millions and millions of śaktis are waiting for His order. But it is not like our giving an order to someone. Bhagavān simply desires something in His mind and simultaneously that task is done. Here Kṛṣṇa thought, “Today Mother is trying to bind Me, but outside the cows are waiting for My darśana. Until I come, they will not give milk. The calves are also waiting for Me. The sakhās will come, and because I won’t be able to go and play with them, they will be very unhappy.”
The cowherd boys saw all of this and said, “Today Your mother has taught You a good lesson!” They were very unhappy that on that day they wouldn’t be able to play with Kṛṣṇa, but at the same time they loved Kṛṣṇa so much that just by seeing Him very briefly they felt great happiness. Kṛṣṇa is very small in this pastime, only three-and-a-half years old. So these other boys are only three or even two years old, yet seeing Kṛṣṇa in this condition they felt great happiness. But they also lamented, “Oh, today Kṛṣṇa will not be able to play with us because Mother has bound Him.”
This is mugdhatā, not sarvajñatā. This svarūpa-śakti is also called Yogamāyā, the energy by which Kṛṣṇa performs so many activities and pastimes. Yogamāyā saw that an opportunity for service was available, and she responded accordingly. “His waist will not be bound, and then He will be able to go and play.” Regardless of how much rope was applied, the rope remained two fingers’ length short. This is impossible, but it becomes possible by the arrangement of this svarūpa-śakti, the medium by which Bhagavān performs His pastimes.
What determines whether Yogamāyā gives the darśana of Bhagavān to someone or not? If Yogamāyā is pleased, then someone can receive Kṛṣṇa’s darśana. If she is not pleased, then they won’t get His darśana. This Yogamāyā is the foundation for all of His pastimes, and this same Yogamāyā in full form, expanded to the highest limit, is Śrīmatī Rādhikā Herself. The same śakti is present in Dvārakā in the forms of Satyabhāmā, Rukmiṇī and others, in Vaikuṇṭha in the forms of Lakṣmī, and in the heavenly planets in the forms of the wives of the plenary portions of Bhagavān there. In heaven there is the form of cañcalā, or restless, Lakṣmī, and in Vaikuṇṭha there is the form of acañcalā, or steady, Lakṣmī. They are all Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s reflected forms or expansions.
In the material world there is cañcalā Lakṣmī. Why is she called that? Because today wealth is with one person, and tomorrow it will be with another. She doesn’t stick to one husband, and she is always wandering in the four directions. Today here, tomorrow there, and so on. Who is she? She is the shadow śakti of the steady Lakṣmī: Bhū, Śrī and Nīlā. Durgā is also a shadow śakti – Vindyavāsinī, Kaṅkālī, Cāmuṇḍā and so on – they are all shadow śaktis of the steady Lakṣmī. At the time of Rāmacandra’s pastimes, within Laṅkā there was Laṅkinī, and she was also a shadow śakti of the steady Lakṣmī. The demons were worshipping her, but by nature she was restless. When Hanumān came and attacked, she became perturbed and ran away, thinking, “Very soon he will destroy Rāvaṇa. This monkey has certainly come to defeat us.”
In this world Lakṣmī is very restless, never remaining in one place. Some people who have abundant wealth think that they will turn it all over to their offspring, but there is no guarantee that it will stay within their family. But that Lakṣmī who in the form of Bhakti-devī resides with Bhagavān is steady. Wherever this Lakṣmī is, she is steady. If she is residing in a place where someone offends her, then she may leave; otherwise she will stay. But bhakti doesn’t come quickly – it is very difficult to obtain. Therefore such superior potency (para-śakti) of Bhagavān cannot be understood by argument, but by the mood of service. If inside us is niṣṭhā, exclusive feelings towards one particular form of Bhagavān, then bhakti will come, but if there is no exclusive niṣṭhā towards one form, then it will not come.
One may desire to perform bhajana for Rāma and Sītā, Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, Candrāvalī and Kṛṣṇa, and others. From the perspective of tattva this is all right, and it is possible that one may even attain Vaikuṇṭha. But if there is no niṣṭhā for one particular deity, then there will be no rasa and no ānanda. This is being exclusive, but it is not being biased; it is thoroughly correct.
In the verse under discussion from Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta, we find the word parameśvarī. Parameśvarī is acintya-śakti, and to know Her is not possible by argument. She is beyond that. When will we be able to have Her darśana? When we engage in exclusive bhajana it will become easy. The sentiment of the gopīs’ rāgabhakti is very rare, and very difficult to obtain. But although that sentiment is very rare, it can be achieved. Sometimes even if that thing which is considered the most degraded of all in this world is dovetailed in the service of Bhagavān, it can become the highest thing:
vikrīḍitaṁ vraja-vadhūbhir idaṁ ca viṣṇoḥ
śraddhānvito ’nuśṛṇuyād atha varṇayed yaḥ
bhaktiṁ parāṁ bhagavati pratilabhya kāmaṁ
hṛd-rogam āśv apahinoty acireṇa dhīraḥ
Anyone who faithfully hears or describes the divine pastimes enjoyed by Śrī Kṛṣṇa with the gopīs of Vṛndāvana will very quickly obtain pure bhakti, thereby conquering the heart disease of lust.
There is a very beautiful explanation of this verse in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam commentary of Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura. Some people think that they will first become free from all offences and anarthas, become pure by their own efforts, and then engage in bhajana, but that is absurd. First concentrate the mind and make the heart pure, then do bhajana, and then bhakti will come? It will never be like this. You can try to concentrate the mind for millions of lives, but there is no guarantee that it will remain focused. Even the senses of great sages like Viśvāmitra and Saubhari became disturbed, so therefore in millions of lives it will not be possible to control the mind by one’s own personal endeavour. You will just be kept waiting for millions of lives. It is like thinking that you will wait until the water of a river dries up before you cross it. Whatever condition you are now in – if you are a thief, a dacoit, a hooligan or if you are pure – start performing kṛṣṇa-bhajana and chanting the holy name, and automatically bhakti will take care of the rest.
In this world, there is no greater misconduct than adultery, but if it is in relation to Kṛṣṇa, then it is not misconduct. Why? Because He is the husband of all. From the perspective of bhakti the feelings that the gopīs have for Kṛṣṇa are the highest of all sentiments, both in this world and in the spiritual world. Some people who hear the Tenth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam say, “Hey, this is mundane! They are loving Kṛṣṇa through hiding and deception, and because of this they have become so exalted?”
Yes, they have become so exalted that the most exemplary personalities such as Nārada, Uddhava and the Kumāras meditate on the gopīs’ feet within their hearts. Those devotees who have developed sentiments like those of the gopīs – vikrīḍitam vrajavadhūbhiḥ – will gain entrance into Kṛṣṇa’s playful pastimes.
If one listens with faith to narrations of Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes with the gopīs by anuśṛṇuyāt – accepting a pure spiritual master, an ideal rasika Vaiṣṇava who knows the science of Kṛṣṇa, and then constantly hearing from him – then exclusive sentiment will come to him. This sentiment is our everything, and it will arise in us and give us great happiness. Anuvarṇayet means it is passed on from one to another. What Vyāsadeva taught to Śukadeva Gosvāmī, Śukadeva in turn taught that very same thing to Mahārāja Parīkṣit. And what Śukadeva Gosvāmī taught, Sūta Gosvāmī described that very same thing in the assembly of the sages. If it is described like this and one listens with faith, what will happen? Bhaktiṁ parāṁ bhagavati: parām means Kṛṣṇa, the best of all tattva – one will obtain bhakti for Him, and that bhakti will become so intense that pratilabhya kāmaṁ hṛd-rogam āśu: one will obtain the prema of the gopīs. And by obtaining that, what will happen? The disease in the heart will be uprooted. What is that disease? The lust that men and women have for one another, which clouds a person’s intelligence. If it creates so much strife amongst lower species such as animals and birds, then what to speak of the effect it has on people?
This lust is so all-encompassing that when the desire comes for anything, we think, “I am its enjoyer. I am its master.” Even in regard to such basic things as food and clothing – any desire for personal enjoyment whatsoever – it is all lust. There are so many types of lust from gross to subtle, but by hearing about the gopīs’ transcendental desire for Kṛṣṇa, automatically the heart disease of worldly desire, which binds us birth after birth, can be uprooted. And then prema, that entity which couldn’t be obtained by millions of lifetimes of attempts at purification by our own efforts, will gradually come. Just see how something that is degraded in the worldly sense can at once be made pure when performed for Bhagavān’s pleasure.
Therefore, Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura says, “To eradicate your bad qualities, to control your mind and to rid yourself of lust, all of your personal efforts will prove futile! In millions and millions of lives it will not happen! Just do one thing, and don’t worry: practice devotion unto the Supreme Lord by engaging in hearing (śravaṇam), chanting (kīrtanam) and remembrance (smaraṇam). There are so many kinds of narrations about Kṛṣṇa, but the descriptions of the rāsa-līlā wherein Kṛṣṇa is sporting with the gopīs are the topmost. If someone becomes absorbed in them day and night, then he will find no free time for anything else. So how could he possibly become engaged in any sinful activity? That person is really dhīraḥ – one whose buddhi, intelligence, is fixed.”
dadāmi buddhi-yogaṁ taṁ
yena mām upayānti te
To those who are sincerely devoted to serving Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me.
In this verse, the word buddhi means the intelligence that gives Bhagavān. It is full of mercy. In one place, Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura says, “O Kṛṣṇa, You are very merciful. You said dadāmi buddhi-yogam. Please give me buddhi-yoga. And You may ask, ‘Which buddhi-yoga do you want? The buddhi-yoga that I gave to Arjuna?’ But I don’t desire that. For Arjuna it was all right. For those people who desire that variety of buddhi-yoga, it is all right. But to me please give that buddhi-yoga by which even You become bewildered and forget Yourself, in which You sport with the gopīs, and by serving which one completely forgets himself. To become the servant of the gopīs, to become lost in that service and forget everything else – I want that buddhi. For those who are serving You, having forgotten everything else and being intoxicated in that service, You are doing everything in the form of an ordinary human being. Be merciful and please inspire that buddhi-yoga within me. Such dhīraḥ, steadiness, is what I desire. Give me that intelligence by which I can come to You in this way.” Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura has offered such a beautiful prayer to Bhagavān, and no one can offer a higher prayer than this.
Here Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura is saying, “My friends, practise sādhana like this. Don’t pray in this way all of the time: ‘O Kṛṣṇa, I am a big thief, a big hooligan… .’ Just become deeply absorbed in His pastimes. ‘I am qualified, I am not qualified’ – this is the consideration of a neutral person.”
Let us say someone has become greedy for a rasagullā, and he has no money. Then by grabbing it, stealing it, or by any means he will get it. Our greed for bhakti must be like that, and we should pray to Bhagavān that He will be merciful and give us this greed. So the purport here is that the buddhi-yoga we really want is the mercy of Yogamāyā.
This Yogamāyā śakti of Bhagavān is durvitarkyā – inconceivable and beyond argument or debate. “Others have received it, so I should certainly receive it. Why was it given to them anyway? Bilvamaṅgala’s conduct was very bad, so why did he get it? And on the contrary my consciousness is pure; I have never stolen or told a lie. Why shouldn’t I get bhakti?” We should not think like this. “When will we get it? How will we get it?” – it is durvitarkyā, inconceivable.
By the arrangement of this very Yogamāyā alone, Bhagavān appears in an unlimited variety of forms. When Bhagavān comes in the forms of Nara and Nārāyaṇa, He is always absorbed in meditation. That is one bhāva, or mood. In the form of Rāma He has a particular mood, in all other forms He possesses a specific mood, and all of this is arranged by the influence of Yogamāyā, Parameśvarī. From Parameśvara comes Parameśvarī. The verse under discussion here from Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta says kintv asyaikānta-bhakteṣu, gūḍhaṁ kiñcin na tiṣṭhati: even though it is inconceivable, still, it is not a secret to His pure devotees. By whose mercy will we obtain exclusive bhakti? From Yogamāyā we will receive a proper understanding of it; otherwise no one will ever be able to understand it.
Nārada told Gopa-kumāra, “To enter Goloka you must understand these points. Then you will be qualified to render service there. Otherwise you will remain here in Vaikuṇṭha and have dealings with Nārāyaṇa in a similar way as the Kumāras, who came here, received a brief darśana, and then merely returned to their own residence.”
Now I will explain the next verse:
patnī-sahasrair yugapat praṇītaṁ
dravyaṁ sa bhuṅkte bhagavān yadaikaḥ
paśyanti tāny atra yathā pratisvam
ādau mamādatta tad eva me ’tti
Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa simultaneously ate all of the meals offered by His queens in such a way that each queen thought, “He has accepted His meal from me first.”
Here Nārada is saying that once he went to Dvārakā and saw a very peculiar pastime of Kṛṣṇa. So many queens were there, including principal queens such as Rukmiṇī; Kṛṣṇa had thousands of wives there. They all prepared many different kinds of preparations, and they wanted to see whose offering Kṛṣṇa would consider the most beautiful and the most delicious. They all invited Kṛṣṇa to their respective palaces, and they were all watching to see whose palace He would go to first. They had already given invitations to Kṛṣṇa. It was understood that whoever could take Kṛṣṇa into their home on this day and serve Him drinks and feed Him would possess the topmost good fortune. Seeing Kṛṣṇa emerge with Nārada from the Sudharmā assembly hall, all the queens eagerly stepped out of their palaces. Nārada was thinking, “Whose palace will He go to first?”
Just then Kṛṣṇa assumed as many forms as there were queens and entered the palace of each and every one of them simultaneously. Nārada also expanded into as many forms and followed behind Him. This is also possible for great devotees; we shouldn’t think them incapable of doing that. There is only one Rādhikā, but when Kṛṣṇa becomes Nārāyaṇa, She becomes Lakṣmī. When He becomes Vāmana, She becomes the Lakṣmī of Vāmana. And when He becomes Mahāprabhu, She expands into Viṣṇupriya and Lakṣmīpriya. In this way, wherever there will be pastimes, She will be there. When Sadāśiva becomes Śaṅkara, then She becomes Pārvatī.
It is the same for devotees who are rasika. Some devotees are satisfied in only one līlā, while others go to all līlās and, assuming many different forms, taste many different pastimes. Merely tasting one līlā will not satisfy them. Nārada is like this. For those who are rasika, it is difficult to say where they are. Nārada visits Nārāyaṇa, and in the same form he also goes to visit Rāma. But the Nārada that goes to Rāma is different from the Nārada that goes to visit Kṛṣṇa. Not different in tattva, but different in bhāva. Each of these expansions of Nārada has his own sthāyibhāva, permanent sentiment. Just as Kṛṣṇa says that He will never leave Vṛndāvana, it is like this with devotees also. The gopīs will never leave Vṛndāvana. If they do, it will only be in another form as expansions, and it is the same with the gopas also.
When Nārada enters Vraja-dhāma, he is Madhumaṅgala. At Govardhana at Nārada-kuṇḍa, near Kusuma-sarovara, he performs austerities and worship for what purpose? His desires have not been completely fulfilled. “O Kṛṣṇa, I have seen what it is to be in sakhya-rasa, I have seen what is in vātsalya, and I have also taken a look at dāsya. Now, O Lord, what is remaining?” He desires to experience that also, and taking another form, it may be possible.
So Nārada is saying that Kṛṣṇa came out of the Sudharmā assembly hall in this way, and that he was following Him. So many queens offered preparations, and Kṛṣṇa expanded into thousands of forms and simultaneously went to the palace of each and every queen. With the very same form and mood, He simultaneously tasted all their offerings. Some people say that there was only one form of Kṛṣṇa going from palace to palace very, very fast, but Nārada could not have done this as well. They say that with such great speed Kṛṣṇa went to each queen in such a way that all of the queens thought that He had come to her first. They say that if one minute is divided into millions of parts, that is the speed at which He was going. But it is like this only in His mādhurya-līlā in Vraja. In His aiśvarya-līlā in Dvārakā He expands into many forms, but in Vraja He doesn’t expand into more forms; He remains in one form only. When Nārada saw Kṛṣṇa expand into all of these forms in His aiśvarya-līlā, he was not at all astonished. When was he really astonished? When he saw Kṛṣṇa in His mādhurya-līlā. With great speed and dexterity the same one Kṛṣṇa was appearing simultaneously between millions of gopīs, and each and every gopī was thinking, “Oh,
Kṛṣṇa is very attracted to me! He loves me the most!”
Next Nārada speaks this verse (Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta 2.4.167):
kvacit keṣv api jīveṣu tat-tac-chakti-praveśataḥ
tasyāveśāvatārā ye te ’pi tadvan matā budhaiḥ
When Bhagavān’s potency enters into a living entity, he is known by the wise to be a śaktyāveśa–avatāra, an empowered incarnation.
If any special potency of Bhagavān enters into a living entity, he is called a śaktyāveśa-avatāra. This is the meaning of śaktyāveśa-avatāra: Bhagavān has transmitted His own transcendental potency (bhagavattā-śakti) into that person. Bhagavān is the possessor of all śakti, but bhagavattā is the manifestation of śakti. Bhagavān has unlimited qualities and this śakti manifests them all. Bhagavān is heroic, merciful, knowledgable and full in all six opulences, and they all manifest by śakti. Who really lifted Girirāja-Govardhana? Śakti, without whom His each and every activity would not take place. But we should not think that śakti, potency, and śaktimān, the possessor of the potency, are separate. They are one and the same.
We must respect those in whom śakti has entered just as we would respect incarnations of Bhagavān Himself. Paraśurāma, Nārada, Kapiladeva – we should give respect to them as empowered incarnations of Bhagavān because there śakti has manifested. Who is the guru? There are different gradations, but he is either Bhagavān’s jñāna-avatāra, bhakti-avatāra or prema-avatāra:
uktas tathā bhāvyata eva sadbhiḥ
Śrī Gurvaṣṭaka (7)
The spiritual master is to be honoured as much as Bhagavān Himself because he is the most confidential servant of the Lord. This is acknowledged in all revealed scriptures and followed by all authorities. I offer obeisances to the lotus feet of such a guru.
If a Vaiṣṇava gives us bhakti, then what will we call him? What sentiment will we have towards him? He is giving us śikṣā, instruction, and although he may not have spoken the mantra in our ear, he is giving us bhakti. He is giving us something which is indescribable. Yadunandana Ācārya originally gave initiation to Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī, but is what Rūpa Gosvāmī gave him later to be considered less important than that? We should always consider these things. The śakti of Bhagavān is within the spiritual master, so we should respect him just as we respect Bhagavān. In reality even more credit should be given to the guru, because by his mercy we can understand Bhagavān. We have no direct knowledge of Bhagavān. Mahāprabhu was very merciful, but we can’t say that we actually know Him. Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, Rūpa Gosvāmī – we have heard that they were all very merciful, and they can give us mercy from their position, but it is our own guru who can give us special things because of our direct relationship with him. He attracts us to bhakti and eradicates our desires for material enjoyment, so therefore birth after birth we will remain indebted to him.
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