Śyāmarāṇī dāsī: Gurudeva, this is the wife of your disciple Vijaya prabhu. For her entire life up to now, she has been worshiping Durgā-devī. Last night, we showed her your translation and commentary of Brahma-saṁhitā, which explains the relationship between Durgā and Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. She read it. She wants to know how to cut her relationship with Durgā, so that she can worship Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: You should know who Durgā-devī is. Durgā-devī is a shadow of Śrīmatī Rādhikā. Rādhikā is likened to the soul, and Durgā-devī, Kālī, is likened to the body. If a reality is not present, there can be no shadow of that reality. Similarly, without Rādhikā, there would be no existence of Kālī.
In order to give mere worldly benedictions, Śrīmatī Rādhikā manifests as Durgā in this world. This world is a durga, which means ‘fort;’ it is a jail.* As protector and destroyer of this world, Durgā-devī can give you wealth, reputation, and other worldly benefits, but she cannot give kṛṣṇa-prema, liberation, or anything spiritual. Only Rādhikā and Her direct manifestations, like Viśākhā and Lalitā, can do so.
Durgā-devī is not present in Goloka Vṛndāvana. She is only manifest in this world, whereas there is a manifestation of Śrīmatī Rādhikā named Yogamāyā, who is in the spiritual domain and is somewhat like Her. Whatever Durgā-devī gives you will be gone after your death, so it is better for you to think of Rādhikā as the reality and Her shadow as Durgā. It will be better for you to take initiation, just as your husband has taken, and thus worship Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. Then, Durgā will be very, very happy with you.
Śrīpāda Padmanābha Mahārāja: Sometimes disciples ask if they can still keep a deity of Durgā in their house.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: They should be one-pointed. If they cannot give up having Durgā on their altars, they can offer Durgā the remnants of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa’s caraṇāmṛta (remnant water from the bathing of the Deities). Otherwise, they will be cheated.
Kṛṣṇa-priyā dāsī: Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura says in Jaiva-dharma that we should only take prasādam that has been offered to Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. He says that the foodstuffs offered to the demigods are not truly prasādam. What is the nature of the foodstuffs we get when we go to the temples of the demigods? What do we call that? Can we eat it?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: We do not eat the remnants of Kālī, Durgā, Śaṅkara (Lord Śiva), or their manifestations. If bhoga (unoffered foodstuffs) is first offered to Kṛṣṇa or Viṣṇu, and Their prasādam is then offered to the demigods, we can accept that. For example, in Bhuvaneśvara, the bhoga is first offered to Ananta Vāsudeva (a form of Kṛṣṇa), and His prasādam is offered to Bhuvaneśvara Liṅga-rāja (Lord Śiva). We can accept that prasādam. We offer obeisances to Śaṅkara, and if a devotee gives the prasādam remnants of Kṛṣṇa to Śaṅkara, we will accept that; otherwise not.** In any case, we will not accept ashes in imitation of Śaṅkara (Śaṅkara smears his body with ashes in order to show the world the destination of bodies – at death their bodies are burned and turn to ashes), or other customs accepted by his followers. If someone does not wear tilaka and kaṇṭhī-mālā (tulasī neck-beads), then the messengers of Yamarāja, the god of death, will consider, “This person is not a devotee of Kṛṣṇa.” They will take that person to Yamarāja for punishment. So, try to wear tilaka and kaṇṭhī-mālā.
Rāma-tulasī dāsa: Regarding a devotee of Śrī Kṛṣṇa and a nondevotee, what happens to the soul after someone dies?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: If one is not a proper devotee, then according to his activities he will have to go to heaven or hell. According to his karma he may take birth anywhere, as a dog, donkey, monkey, or any other species.
Rāma-tulasī dāsa: Does this take place immediately, as soon as the soul leaves the body? Or, does it take some time?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: It depends on what the person has done.
Rāma-tulasī dāsa: My wife passed away on January 5th of this year. Where did she go?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: She was a devotee, and you and her children are devotees. She was always chanting the holy name, so she has taken birth in a rich devotee family. There she will easily obtain a guru again, and she will continue her bhajana.
Kṛṣṇa is more merciful than Nārāyaṇa, Viṣṇu, and other incarnations. There is no one more merciful than Kṛṣṇa. Even Lord Rāmacandra could not give as much honour to ladies as Kṛṣṇa did. Kṛṣṇa gave Himself to Śrīmatī Rādhikā and the gopīs.
Sixteen thousand princesses, the very beautiful daughters of kings, had been imprisoned in the jail of Narakāsura, and they always remembered Kṛṣṇa there. Kṛṣṇa came and killed Narakāsura, released the princesses, and then told them, “You can now go wherever you want – to your husbands, mothers, and fathers.” They replied, “We cannot go anywhere. We want to be the maidservants of Rukmiṇī and Satyabhāmā in Your palace. We will sweep there, and perform all other menial services.” Kṛṣṇa said, “No. I will accept you as My queens, just as I have accepted Rukmiṇī and Satyabhāmā.” He married all of them and took them to Dvārakā, and there He gave each of them a palace.
* “Durgā is the superintendent of police of this universe. Durgā [a Sanskrit word] means ‘fort.’ Gā means ‘going,’ and dur means ‘difficulty.’ So, that realm where you cannot go anywhere unless you accept so many difficulties – that is called durgā, or fort. This universe, this material world, is just like a durgā. You cannot escape. Conditioned souls cannot escape. It is very difficult. Daivī hy eṣā guṇa-mayī mama māyā duratyayā” (Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja, Bhagavad-gītā 7.14, purport).
“There are rules and regulations in this world’s government, just as with an immigration department or security department. These rules are simply reflections of the original function of the supreme government. This world is just like a prison house. You cannot escape so easily.
“… The original superintendent is Durgā. Durgā is the protector of this durgā, from where you cannot escape. She is also a servant of Kṛṣṇa. This Durgā is fear personified, but still she cannot disobey Kṛṣṇa’s order” (Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja, Lecture of October, 1974).
** “Lord Viṣṇu should be offered everything, and His prasāda should be distributed to all the demigods. This practice is still followed in the temple of Jagannātha at Purī. There are many temples of demigods around the main temple of Jagannātha, and the prasāda which is offered first to Jagannātha is distributed to all the demigods. The deity of Bhagālin is worshiped with the prasāda of Viṣṇu, and also, in the famous Lord Śiva temple of Bhuvaneśvara, the prasāda of Lord Viṣṇu or Lord Jagannātha is offered to the deity of Lord Śiva” (Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 4.7.55, purport).
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