From an evening class given by Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja 23 May 1996, Bath United Kingdom
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: We have come to the house of Sudevī and her husband. There is not sufficient place here for all the devotees to stay for a day or two, so we have to leave this place very soon. But I am so glad that I have come to Sudevī’s house. I am especially glad to see the devotees who have come from our previous preaching programs. I am very happy to see that those devotees are here. Wherever I go, I see a lot of sweet faces, hence, I think that I am in Vṛndāvana. (Just then a bird sings and everybody laughs)
Devotee: The parrot is from Vṛndāvana Gurudeva.
Śrīpada Mādhava Mahārāja: He is telling, “Gurudeva! Gurudeva!”
Devotee: He is also telling, “Kṛṣṇa! Kṛṣṇa!” [Laughter]
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Is that an actual bird? [Laughter]
Devotees: Yes Gurudeva.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: I want to see the bird. Is the bird from Vṛndāvana or from here? He is so happy that all the Vaiṣṇavas are here and are chanting, “Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare, Hare Rāma Hare Rāma Rāma Rāma Hare Hare.”
I was thinking in India that when I will have to go to Holland, England, and various places, I will be out of Vṛndāvana and Mathurā, but now, I feel that I am not out of Mathurā or Vraja-maṇḍala. There are so many devotees everywhere, so much sweet hari-kathā is being spoken, and sweet behaviour is being exhibited among all the devotees. There is harmony between each other, and when I think of this I become so happy. I follow the ideas and conceptions of Svāmījī; he would often say, “When I was in the foreign or western countries, I never thought for a moment that I am out of Vṛndāvana or out of India.” I am now seeing and experiencing the same phenomenon; everywhere I go, I see that there are many sweet devotees, who patiently listen to hari-kathā. They are trying to develop their devotional activities. But here, there is a lack of sādhu-saṅga and that is why I have come here to the Western countries. Svāmījī has planted the seeds of devotion in many hearts, but some of them are still seeds, while some of them have sprouted a little. Some seeds have sprouted and have blossomed into little plants with leaves; but now, they all want water. If water is not given, the seeds will die and the seeds that have sprouted and grown into a creeper having leaves will also die.
So, Svāmījī ordered me, “I am giving some water to you, go there and water the seeds, creepers, and plants who are in dire need of being nourished. Otherwise, they will dry, wither, and ultimately die.”
So, I came with the water of hari-kathā. What I speak is based on what I have heard from my bonafide guru-varga, Gurudeva, and many śikṣā-gurus. Some of my śikṣā-gurus are—Pūjyapāda Śrīdhara Mahārāja, Pūjyapāda Vāmana Mahārāja, Pūjyapāda Trivikrama Mahārāja, Pūjyapāda Śrautī Mahārāja, Pūjyapāda Vana Mahārāja, and all the disciples of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, who are very senior devotees. I have studied the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, and Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta under their guidance many a times. Under their tutelage, I collected some of this transcendental water and I have also collected many gems of devotion from Svāmījī, Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja. With a basket of invaluable jewels I have come here and I see that all the devotees are so energetic now; all are so happy and the dark colour of gloom has been lifted and the colour of hope and enthusiasm has set in. The seed of devotion seemed to be drying, but now, as would a normal seed, their seed is turning green, which signifies advancement of their Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Fresh buds of various colours have sprung forth from the seeds that have now grown into little creepers of devotion. These buds are preparing to blossom, and they will yield proper, sweet fruits. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī says that the sādhaka should carefully water his creeper of devotion that has its roots in this world with the water of hari-kathā and sevā, devotional service. Upon tending meticulously to this creeper of devotional service, the practitioner will see that his creeper of devotion has crossed this universe consisting of the planets— Bhū, Bhuvar, Svar, Mahar, Janas, Tapas, Satya, Tala, Atala, Vitala, Nitala, Talātala, Mahātala, Sutala, and the 14 planets altogether. This creeper will have even crossed the Virajā, the border between the spiritual and material realms. If this creeper of bhakti is given the water of hari-kathā, by its proper mālī, gardener, then it spirals upwards and crosses Brahma-loka, Śiva-loka, the abode of Sadāśiva and enters into Vaikuṇṭha.
Continuing on its journey, the creeper of devotion crosses the realm of Vaikuṇṭha. Going past the holy abodes of Ayodhyā, Goloka, and even past the border of Dvārakā, this bhakti-latā, creeper of bhakti enters Mathurā at Viśrāma-ghāṭa. Here, it is nourished by fresh, new water. It is tended to by the naga-patnīs, the yajña-patnīs, and Uddhava. Going forward in its journey, the creeper first enters Vraja-Gokula and from Gokula, the creeper goes to Vṛndāvana. Flourishing in its growth, the creeper has many branches appear on it and these branches spread out to Nandagaon, Varsānā, and all over Vraja-maṇḍala. At last, it comes to Govardhana, and in Govardhana, who is the main centre of Vraja-maṇḍala, this creeper of devotion finds its final shelter at the eyes of Govardhana, that is Śyāma-kuṇḍa and Rādhā-kuṇḍa. It takes shelter of the lotus feet of Śyāma-kuṇḍa, thus taking shelter at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa Himself. And then, it takes the shelter of Rādhā-kuṇḍa, thus attaining shelter at Śrīmati Radhika’s lotus feet. What becomes of the creeper when it finally finds shelter at the lotus feet of Śrī Radha and Kṛṣṇa? Very sweet, juicy fruits manifest from its branches, and these fruits are automatically let loose from their branches and on falling down, they come to Earth and settle near the mālī, gardener, who has been diligently watering the creeper from the time it’s seed has been sown. We are the gardeners, Gurudeva gives the water of hari-kathā to us and when we take care of that creeper with great attention, the sweetest ripened fruits, which are skinless and pervaded with rasa, will make their way through and place themselves before us. How do these fruits come? A parrot pecks at the fruits and these transcendental fruits are gradually handed down by the disciplic order. The mālī, the gardener takes them and on tasting them, he exclaims, “Oh so sweet!” And then he slowly ascends on the creeper. This creeper crosses all the realms of the mundane creation and does not rest even on reaching the spiritual realm. Crossing past the many spiritual realms, the creeper goes to Gokula, Vṛndāvana, Nandagaon, Varsānā, and to Govardhana, where it finds its final shelter at Śyāma-kuṇḍa and Rādhā-kuṇḍa. There, the devotee sees that lakhs and lakhs of fruits, indeed, uncountable fruits are there. Taking all those fruits that have descended to the earth, the devotees taste them. This is the description of the creeper of devotion given by Rūpa Gosvāmī, as stated in Caitanya-caritāmṛta.
But, the unlucky person will not obtain and taste that fruit, even though lakhs and lakhs of fruits are coming from there. Such an unlucky person has no faith in bhakti, he only outwardly chants the holy name while internally, he desires that his material desires be fulfilled. He will not obtain the fruits of devotion by cheating others while being in the garb of a so-called guru or a so-called devotee. They will only have the fruits of this material world, what are those fruits? Wine, wealth, and women are the fruits of this material world that they crave for. These fruits will destroy their lives. Have a very strong faith and be grounded in the conviction that, “Kṛṣṇa is always protecting us.” The six basic principles of śaraṇāgati are the platform of bhakti. No one can save us, only Kṛṣṇa can save us, none other, so why should you fear? Don’t think, “What will happen after Mahārāja will go? What will happen if all are against me? If my husband, or my wife, my father, and whole world is against me, then what am I to do? Then I will have to suffer.” This is not true, we should have the firm faith that, “Kṛṣṇa will surely save us, He has the power to save us.”
He saved Arjuna from all the Kauravas whose numbers were in the millions. He saved Draupadī from the midst of many demons. He saved all who surrendered to His lotus feet, who accepted śaraṇāgati. He saved Dhruva Mahārāja, He saved Prahlāda Mahārāja. Do you know who Prahlāda is? How was he saved? Prahlāda did not at any time pray to Kṛṣṇa that He should save him, but every time there was an attempt to have him killed, he was magically saved. There was one sister of Hiraṇyakaśipu, whose name was Holikā. She had a benediction from Lord Brahmā that if she was inside a fire, she would not be burnt. So, Hiraṇyakaśipu ordered his sister, “Take my five year old son on your lap and enter into a raging conflagration!” So, she took Prahlāda and entered into a powerful inferno. But, she was burnt to ashes whereas Prahlāda emerged unscathed. In repeated attempts to kill Prahlāda, Prahlāda was thrown into the sea, he was thrown from mountains, he was surrounded by venomous serpents. Lions were set to attack and eat Prahlāda Mahārāja, but he was saved every time. Despite trying to have his son killed numerous times, Hiraṇyakaśipu was himself killed by the hands of the Lord.
So, if you want to do bhajana of Kṛṣṇa, then you should have solid, unflinching faith in Kṛṣṇa that He will save you, and that there is nothing for you to fear. If this faith does not come in the heart of a devotee, then he cannot serve Kṛṣṇa. Guru teaches all his disciples to be completely surrendered to Kṛṣṇa. If a devotee like Śrīvāsa Paṇḍita; do you know him? Śrīvāsa had nothing, he was penniless. There weren’t even any rats in his house, do you know why? Because there were no grains, there was not even the slightest particle of food for the rats to eat and that was normal for his house. If it rained, the rainwater would not flow off the roof, rather, all the rain came inside, why? Because, his house had no roof.
So one day, Caitanya Mahāprabhu told him, “Śrīvāsa, I know that you are a very poor man. I also know that your four brothers and yourself are always engaged in kīrtana, the whole day and night. Accompanied by the chiming of big karatālas, all of you sing, ‘Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare, Hare Rāma Hare Rāma Rāma Rāma Hare Hare.’ You don’t try to earn money and manage wealth, so how will you maintain your life? You should do something to maintain your life.”
On listening to Mahāprabhu speak, Śrīvāsa Paṇḍita clapped his hands thrice while counting, “One, two, three.”
Caitanya Mahāprabhu asked, “I don’t understand what you mean to say by clapping your hands thrice.”
Śrīvāsa Paṇḍita replied, “If we don’t have mahāprasāda for one day, I will bear it. I will wait the second day; I will fast, we will all fast. We will wait the third day also, and if there is no mahāprasāda for us to honour on the third and fourth day and we are made to fast, then the river Ganges is here, and we will all jump in. Why? Because, You may be criticized. The residents of this world may say, ‘Kṛṣṇa and Caitanya Mahāprabhu cannot give anything.’” Śrīvāsa Paṇḍita and his entire family were pure devotees, hence, if they were deprived of mahāprasāda, the śloka of the Gītā wherein Kṛṣṇa promises to look after His devotees will be proven false. The śloka is:
ananyāś cintayanto māṁ
ye janāḥ paryupāsate
yoga-kṣemaṁ vahāmy aham
But those who always worship Me with exclusive devotion, meditating on My transcendental form – to them I carry what they lack, and I preserve what they have.
In this śloka, Kṛṣṇa promises to collect everything that the devotee needs to maintain his life. Kṛṣṇa will even take what the devotee needs on His head, He will take all responsibility. Kṛṣṇa always protects His devotees from all troubles and calamities.
He will give and protect, He promises to.
There was a devotee called Arjuna Miśra. He would regularly read and explain the Bhagavad-gītā. On one such perusal of the Bhagavad-gītā, he came across the line, “yoga-kṣemaṁ vahāmy aham.” Thinking that Kṛṣṇa Himself will not carry what His devotee needs, he cut the line.
He thought, “Kṛṣṇa will Himself not carry what the devotee lacks. He can order someone else to carry what the devotee lacks. Personalities like Hanumān and Garuḍa can carry. Indeed, everyone is the servant of Kṛṣṇa, hence, except for Him, all can carry. He will order them. So, why would He carry anything by Himself?” So, he cut that line. For several years, Arjuna Miśra would diligently chant, remember, and meditate on Kṛṣṇa. Yet, he was so poor that he had to beg daily. So, he cut that line and went to beg.
He thought, “I should try and something may come.” When he went out to beg on that day, he was unable to procure anything. He decided to return home when he saw that the sun was about to set. In the meantime, a twelve-year-old boy, who had the complexion of new rain clouds, and who had a pītāmbara (yellow shawl) on His shoulders reached the doorstep of Arjuna Miśra’s home. Carrying two big baskets on his shoulders, he knocked on the door of Arjuna Miśra.
The wife of Arjuna Miśra was there, but he had not yet returned. He was on the way to his house, but had not yet reached. The boy knocked on the door and the wife called out, “Who are You?”
In a very sweet voice, the boy replied, “I am a disciple of our Gurudeva.”
So, she opened the door and led Him in. She saw how He was profusely sweating and looked extremely tired. Making the boy sit down, she asked, “From where have You come?”
The boy replied, “I am coming from my Gurudeva. My Gurudeva ordered and told Me, ‘Take these things and go to my house at once! Give all these things to my wife.’ But, I feared that I could not bear the load and while I decided on how to carry it, it became a little late. Gurudeva had ordered me to go earlier, but I was late by a minute or two. I was ready to go, but to punish Me, he scratched My back with his nails. See these scratches for yourself.”
She saw those scratches. Blood was on the verge of coming out, the marks on the little boy’s back were reddish. Seeing the punishment meted out to this young boy by her husband, she became furious and began to think, “How beautiful, soft, and sweet this boy is! How has my husband become so cruel hearted that he has done something like this? Let him come home, I will give him a good lesson.”
In the meantime, she told that boy, “You should sit here, I am going to cook just now, I will offer the bhoga (unoffered foodstuffs) to Nārāyaṇa, and I will feed You and You should then go.”
The boy replied, “Okay mother, you should cook, I am just sitting here.”
Meanwhile, the husband returned and knocked on the door. Being so furious, she confronted him and said, “Oh Brāhmaṇa, why did you give such a heavy load to that boy? Don’t you have any pity? You are so cruel-hearted!”
Arjuna Miśra replied, “Which boy? Where?”
“Your disciple, he has come to me.”
“I have no disciple at all; I have not sent anything by anyone. I have just come home!”
“Why did you scratch Him?”
“I want to see who this boy is.”
The wife told her husband, “Come on. I will show you who the boy is.” They entered the room, but there was no boy here or there. They searched everywhere, but could not find Him. Then bitterly weeping, Arjun Miśra told her, “Bring my book, the Gītā.” And when it was brought in front of him, he saw that the line he had cut through with a pen, was perfectly legible again. Then he began to roll on the earth crying, “Oh Kṛṣṇa, Oh Kṛṣṇa, I have committed many offenses at Your lotus feet by cutting this line. I had no faith in that line. And for this reason, You have come and brought all these things. This is an example to the whole world; that Kṛṣṇa Himself takes all the burdens of His followers.”
Then he took the dust of his wife’s feet and said, “Oh you are so lucky! Kṛṣṇa Himself came to you and you saw Him. You gave water to Him and He took it, but I am so foolish and fallen that I could not see Him.” Then they both began to cry and weep. So, why should we fear and think, “What will happen tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow? All are against me, they will kill me!” But anyone cannot be killed if Kṛṣṇa desires so. If Kṛṣṇa wants to protect and save someone, then no one can do them harm. But, if Kṛṣṇa does not like to save and protect someone, then by their own efforts these people can never save themselves. Even powerful men like Hiraṇyakaśipu, Rāvaṇa, and Kaṁsa could not save themselves by their own efforts. So you should have a very firm belief in Kṛṣṇa. You should be carefree and fearless. Thus, we should always proceed and develop our Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
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