Chapter 1 from the bookGoing Beyond Vaikuṇṭha, 4th edition by Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja


Chapter One

The Śrī Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta contains many fine topics concerning bhakti. By hearing them with great attention and interest, certainly a sublime type of ‘greed’ will arise, and that greed will move us in the direction of Vraja. For any sādhaka who desires spontaneous devotion (rāgānuga-bhakti), Bṛhad- bhāgavatāmṛta is very useful. How we can enter into devotion unto the Supreme Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa (bhagavad-bhakti) and what is the nature of that devotion – this book describes both of these topics completely.
   After Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam was spoken in seven days, the mother of Parīkṣit Mahārāja, Uttarā, said to her son, “Because what Śukadeva Gosvāmī explained was so philosophical and full of siddhānta, I was not able to experience it in my heart due to being a woman. Therefore please explain the essence of it in a simple fashion, in a few words only, so that I may understand it well.”
   Then Parīkṣit Mahārāja described how Nārada, from his own experience, showed the glories of Bhagavān by revealing the glories of His dhāma and the glories of His eternal associates. Nārada, by going to different holy places and different worlds, achieved knowledge of Bhagavān (bhagavat-tattva), and he experienced how Bhagavān is one yet expands into many. Similarly, the dhāma is one, with Vṛndāvana as the original dhāma, and it expands into many. And the original associates of Bhagavān are those of Vṛndāvana, and likewise they expand into many other worlds. This is the siddhānta: the one is expanded into many. Bhagavān is not two, three, ten or twenty. Nārada is the crown jewel of those who know this established truth (tattva), and he is rasika, expert in relishing rasa. So pretending that he didn’t know any of this, Nārada began his journey.
   First he met a brāhmaṇa worshipping his śālagrāma-śilā. He said to the brāhmaṇa, “In this world, you are surely fortunate.” Beginning from there, he ultimately arrived at Dvārakā, where he realised the gopīs to be the topmost devotees. The gopīs of Vṛndāvana are categorically higher than those great souls who are situated in all the other rasas, and even higher than the queens of Dvārakā. And amongst all the gopīs, Śrīmatī Rādhikā is the best:

ārādhanānāṁ sarveṣāṁ
viṣṇor ārādhanaṁ param
tasmāt parataraṁ devi
tadīyānāṁ samarcanam

Padma Purāṇa

[Mahādeva told Durgā-devī:] Of all varieties of worship, worship of Viṣṇu is the best. But even better than that is the worship of those devotees related to Him.

   In this verse the word tadīyānāṁ means ‘those who have a relationship with Bhagavān’. There are so many who are related to Him, but amongst them, Śrīmatī Rādhikā is the best. Hearing all of this, Nārada became overwhelmed with divine love (prema). Especially in the pastime of constructing Nava-vṛndāvana in Dvārakā, he was shown the glories of the gopīs. Seeing how Kṛṣṇa was overwhelmed by separation from the gopīs, Satyabhāmā, Rukmiṇī, Jāmbavatī and all others became astonished. Nārada was very pleased, but then he began to feel ashamed, thinking, “By coming here today and making Kṛṣṇa remember the gopīs, I have given Him some pain and made Him fall unconscious.”
   Kṛṣṇa said, “You may ask any boon from Me.”
   Nārada replied, “Ask for a boon? I have committed a great offence at Your feet! I have given You so much trouble and made You fall unconscious.”
   Kṛṣṇa said, “If you had not done this, then the glories of My eternal associates in Vraja would never have been broadcast. Therefore you are worthy of taking a boon from Me. Tell Me what you would like.”
   So Nārada said, “My Lord, I want to always remember Your pastimes with the gopīs in Vṛndāvana. Wherever these pastimes are being performed, I want to go to that place and take the dust on my head. I want to always sing the kīrtana of those pastimes, and if You would be so merciful, please give me the prema of the gopīs.”
   Kṛṣṇa said, “So it shall be. Going to the places of My pastimes in Vraja – especially Nandagrāma, Varṣāṇā, Govardhana, Yāvaṭa, Ṭera-kadamba, Uddhava-kyārī, Vaṁśīvaṭa and Rādhā- kuṇḍa – with great love you should offer obeisances (praṇāma) and pray for their mercy. Then you will easily obtain that rare prema which even Brahmā desires.”
   According to the gradation of His associates, there is gradation in Bhagavān. There are so many different types of devotees, different types of pastimes, and different types of rasa. For the four Kumāras, Kṛṣṇa appears as Brahmā, for Viśvaksena and the devotees in Vaikuṇṭha He is Nārāyaṇa, for Hanumān He appears as Lord Rāmacandra, and for Satyabhāmā, Rukmiṇī and Uddhava He is Dvārakādhīśa. To the gopas He is a friend, to those in vātsalya-rasa He is a son, and to the gopīs He is the dearest lover: all are one and the same Kṛṣṇa. How is it possible to comprehend all of this? Only by the mercy of Bhagavān and His devotees will we be able to fully understand this; without their mercy it is not possible.
   By relating the story of Gopa-kumāra, Parīkṣit Mahārāja explained to his mother in a very simple and charming way how we can attain prema. If anyone desires prema but performs no hearing (śravaṇa) and chanting (kīrtana), or thinks that he will attain it merely by his own endeavour, he will never get it. Without service to the spiritual master (guru) and service to the Vaiṣṇavas, then even after thousands of births or even after reading thousands of scriptures, one will still not be able to attain prema. Only by following the prescribed sādhana is it possible. It has been said that if we neglect the regulations of the Śruti, Smṛti and Nārada-pañcarātra, we will not attain exclusive bhakti, but only become confused. Therefore we must follow the rules and regulations. What are they? We must accept initiation (dīkṣā), offer intimate service to the guru, and accept instruction from him. We must simply serve the spiritual master and the Vaiṣṇavas, and keep arrogance far away by cultivating humility and not thinking highly of ourselves:

tṛṇād api sunīcena
taror api sahiṣṇunā
amāninā mānadena
kīrtanīyah sadā hariḥ

Śrī Śikṣāṣṭaka (3)

One should chant the holy name in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself to be more insignificant than a piece of straw. One should be more tolerant than a tree, free from false pride and ready to offer all respect to others.

   The more we can follow this, then by the mercy of Bhagavān, and by the mercy of the Vaiṣṇavas – which is the very essence of the mercy of Bhagavān – the sooner bhakti will appear in our hearts.
   If Bhagavān bestows His mercy on someone, then that person will attain bhakti. He has that power. But why does He give His mercy to some persons and not to others? In this world most people don’t engage in bhagavad-bhajana, and to them He will not give His mercy. Then very few people will get His mercy. Why is this so? Because He doesn’t consider everyone to be equal. If mercy is shown to some and not to others, it appears that the fault of partiality is present. If a devotee makes distinctions in regard to whom he is merciful, then it seems that the fault of partiality has appeared in his devotion. To give much love to one person, less to another; to give much instruction to one and less to another; to tell deep things to one and only superficial things to another – in this behaviour it seems there is the fault of partiality.
   But there are three types of Vaiṣṇava: uttama (topmost), madhyama (intermediate) and kaniṣṭha (neophyte). Uttama Vaiṣṇavas have almost all the good qualities of Bhagavān. They don’t experience the sufferings of ordinary people. They are ātmārāma (self-satisfied) and āptakāma (devoid of mundane desires). Even if some allurement comes before them, they are never disturbed and are always fixed in internal worship. They will not show kindness to anyone either, and even if someone dies they may remain indifferent. They are transcendental to the body and fully self-realised.
   The kaniṣṭha Vaiṣṇava does not have sufficient knowledge of tattva, and is therefore unable to give mercy. And there are four symptoms of a madhyama Vaiṣṇava:

īśvare tad-adhīneṣu
bāliśeṣu dviṣatsu ca
yaḥ karoti sa madhyamaḥ

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.2.46)

For Bhagavān he has prema, and towards Vaiṣṇavas he has three types of friendly relations. Towards an uttama Vaiṣṇava he has a service attitude, with those on an equal footing to himself he will establish friendship, and towards a kaniṣṭha Vaiṣṇava he is merciful. He is completely indifferent to envious people, and to those who are ignorant but have a little faith, in a general way he is merciful.
   In a madhyama-adhikārī there are these four types of partiality, but in an uttama-adhikārī there is no such partiality. He has the same outlook towards everyone. He doesn’t see the difference between a conditioned soul and a liberated soul; he sees that everyone is liberated. Therefore he has no duty. But it is the duty of the madhyama Vaiṣṇava to have this partiality. Therefore who will give the mercy by which bhakti will arise? The madhyama Vaiṣṇava, and especially those that are higher madhyama Vaiṣṇavas, will give this mercy. One who is entering the realm of an uttama Vaiṣṇava – who is not there yet, but is qualified to cross the upper limit of the madhyama stage – is especially kind and merciful. He wants to distribute to others the wealth that he has stored inside his own heart. When he distributes mercy, the fault of partiality cannot be attributed to him, because according to the Bhāgavatam, it is actually a symptom of this stage to be partial. If we acquire the association of such a Vaiṣṇava, then we should serve him with our life and soul:

śuśrūṣsyā bhajana-vijñam ananyam anya-
nindādi-śūnya-hṛdam īpsita-saṅga-labdhyā

Upadeśāmṛta (5)

We should serve a Vaiṣṇava who is advanced in bhakti and whose heart is free from the tendency to criticise others.

   If we achieve the association of such a Vaiṣṇava, then it is necessary for us to offer our head bowed to him in surrender. If there is any cheating tendency in our service, he will know of it. Just like Bhagavān, he can see inside us and he knows well peoples’ cheating ways. He may dispense punishment to us, but in that there will also be mercy. Or upon perceiving our cheating he may be indifferent towards us, so in a straightforward manner we should serve him.
   There are also two types of mercy from Vaiṣṇavas. One is mercy acquired in previous lives and the other is mercy acquired in this life. The accumulated pious merit from perhaps millions of lifetimes may result in one’s receiving mercy from Vaiṣṇavas who are rasika, merciful by nature and knowledgeable in tattva, thereby leading one to take initiation from a genuine spiritual master and make progress on the path of bhajana. This is called prāktana-saṁskāra: that which has been acquired in previous births. Having such previous acquisition, in some very rare cases there may even be no necessity of formally accepting a guru. For instance, Haridāsa Ṭhākura and so many of the associates of Caitanya Mahāprabhu were already fully developed in bhakti and for them there was no necessity of taking formal initiation, but still they accepted it just to set an example for common people.
   There is also the case of Bhārata Mahārāja. In his first birth he had a guru, but in his second and third births he did not formally accept a guru, yet still, without effort he attained the elevated stage of bhāva. He didn’t listen to his father or anyone who tried to dissuade him from the path of bhakti. This is prāktana-saṁskāra, having which one will easily acquire an elevated guru, attain the association of advanced devotees (sādhu-saṅga), and very quickly feel devotional sentiment arise within him. Maybe only one verse of a scripture will be recited to him, and from that only, he will understand everything. Those who have this previous merit will have some taste (ruci) for devotional life, and will knowingly accept initiation from a rasika Vaiṣṇava. Then intense greed for bhakti will arise in them, and they will make rapid progress in bhajana.
   As for those who don’t have this previous merit, by hearing about the pastimes of Kṛṣṇa from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and by associating with Vaiṣṇavas, greed for bhakti will gradually arise in them. Then they will accept a guru. But they may accept a spiritual master whose thought is not in the right line, and so they will have to leave him and approach a genuinely spiritual guru whose siddhānta is correct. Or they may accept a real guru in the first place, and when that guru leaves this world, what must they do? Accept an instructing spiritual master (śikṣā-guru), a rasika Vaiṣṇava who is full of spiritual greed. These are the two types of mercy from Vaiṣṇavas.
   In Śrī Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta, Gopa-kumāra explains all of these points to a brāhmaṇa from his own life experience. This brāhmaṇa was a resident of Mathurā who went to Pragjyotisapura in Assam. Just as we see these days in Gujarat there are scholars who wander here and there speaking from the scriptures to make their living, so this brāhmaṇa’s aim was like that. He was thinking that there was a great deal of money in Assam, and that somehow or other he would be able to make a living there. So he went there, and when he didn’t make any money, he worshipped the goddess Kāmākhyā-devī (Pārvatī-devī). She became very pleased with him, and understanding his internal sentiment, thought, “It appears that he has some spiritual merit (sukṛti) from previous lives. If I give him just a little help, he will be able to go far. But first his desire for money must be eliminated, and then he will be able to go forward.” She appeared before the brāhmaṇa and said, “You desire wealth? There is nothing greater than the treasure that I will give you.”
   What is the greatest wealth? Bhakti. If anyone approaches a genuine guru – even if that person is just an ignorant boy or girl and not able to understand much siddhānta – still, such a guru will slowly give them love for the Supreme Lord. But an impure guru will say, “Worship Devī, worship Gaṇeśa, worship Śaṅkara, and being pleased with you, they will give you whatever you desire.”
   Kāmākhyā-devī, upon seeing a person’s nature, will act accordingly. Seeing that this brāhmaṇa was a resident of Govardhana, she decided that he should not be cheated in any way. Understanding his simple nature, she gave him the gopāla-mantra.
   For entrance into the topmost devotional mellow of amorous love (mādhurya-rasa), this mantra is especially necessary. By the mercy of Sanātana Gosvāmī and other exalted Vaiṣṇavas, the gopāla-mantra is now prevalent in our sampradāya. Before the appearance of Caitanya Mahāprabhu this mantra was not made available to everyone. It was only given to those who were understood to have the special qualification of sufficient merit from previous lifetimes.
   Devī gave this brāhmaṇa her direct audience (darśana) and bestowed this mantra upon him. Chanting the mantra, his devotion became firm. Chanting more and more, he eventually lost his desire for wealth, and felt that he already possessed the very root of all wealth. From Assam he went to the ocean at Gangasagara and bathed, and becoming indifferent to that place, he went to Gaya. Feeling indifferent there, he went to Varanasi, where he became a little attracted to the conception of liberation (mukti). There Pārvatī-devī again blessed him with her darśana, yet this time she was accompanied by her husband Śaṅkara, who said, “Beware! Don’t stay here! Go away from here immediately!”
   If they are especially merciful to someone, they will instruct him in this way. Otherwise, one would remain there, and shaving his head, would begin chanting the famous impersonalist aphorisms ‘ahaṁ brahmāsmi’, ‘tat-tvam asi’ and ‘sarvam-khalv idam-brahma’, aspiring for impersonal liberation. But being merciful to this brāhmaṇa, Mahādeva and Pārvatī told him, “Run away from here quickly; you mustn’t stay! Mukti is like a tigress that will devour you, and you will never emerge from its mouth! Run from here quickly and don’t turn back! Go straight to Mathurā, bathe at Viśrāma-ghāṭa, and then proceed directly to Vṛndāvana.”
   On the way the brāhmaṇa spent some time in Prayaga where he saw a crowd of thousands of people. Seated around a fire performing a sacrifice were great renunciants with their hair tied high on their heads and ashes smeared on their bodies. Others were giving lectures and readings and loudly chanting, “Jaya Śrī Rāma! Jaya Śrī Rāma!” For the month of Māgha [January– February] all types of holy men (sādhus) go there to bathe. The hermitage of Bharadvāja Ṛṣi where Vālmīki spent some time is there, and there also Rāmacandra crossed the Gaṅgā. It is a very pure place; Caitanya Mahāprabhu instructed Rūpa Gosvāmī there as well.
   Seeing all of this, the brāhmaṇa thought, “If I could be like this also, it would be very good.” The people were giving great respect to all of the saints there. He took darśana of the Bindu-Mādhava deity, attended the ārati ceremony and heard lectures. When some devotees started performing a kīrtana, he said, “What are you shouting? And what is all of this you are speaking in your discourses?”
   They said to him, “Brother, don’t speak out so brashly like this; it will be an offence (aparādha). The great souls (mahātmās) are describing the glories of Bhagavān Śrī Viṣṇu in their discourses.”
   Again the brāhmaṇa felt indifferent and left there. Following the instructions of Śaṅkara, he eventually arrived at Mathurā and bathed at Viśrāma-ghāṭa. In Varanasi, Śaṅkara had told him, “If you continue chanting your mantra-japa, your favourite deity will give you darśana.”
   Who is the deity of the gopāla-mantra? Gopāla-Kṛṣṇa. And which Gopāla-Kṛṣṇa? It is according to the particular sentiment of the devotee. To some it is that Gopāla who takes the cows out to graze, to some it is baby Kṛṣṇa sitting in the lap of Yaśodā, and for those in mādhurya-rasa it is Kiśora-Gopāla. For this brāhmaṇa, it was Kṛṣṇa taking the cows out to graze, playing the flute and wandering in the forests of Vṛndāvana in the company of His cowherd friends.
   If we do not receive the darśana of Kṛṣṇa in our meditation while we are chanting our mantra-japa, in the higher sense we can understand it all to be useless. “When will it be? When will it be?” – we should have this eagerness. We should chant with our hearts, and then we will see that this mantra will bestow His direct darśana. Otherwise birth after birth it will be fruitless. If we are mindless while chanting, or worried, or sometimes falling asleep, or sometimes becoming discouraged, we will not receive the full result of the mantra. When will we get the full result of the mantra? When we chant in precisely the way that the spiritual master has taught us, and as Pārvatī instructed this brāhmaṇa: chanting with our concentration focused, ridding our hearts of all desires for sense enjoyment, with humility, and with tears coming to our eyes in remembrance – this will bring Gopāla. We must chant with a steady mind and exclusive sentiment, and eventually the mantra will give us direct darśana of Śrī Kṛṣṇa himself:

gurau goṣṭhe goṣṭhālayiṣu sujane bhūsura-gaṇe sva-mantre

Śrī Manaḥ-śikṣā (1)

We should chant with peace of mind, love and firm faith, and then the mantra will give us direct darśana of our deity, and also darśana of our spiritual master.
   After bathing at Viśrāma-ghāṭa, the brāhmaṇa entered Śrī Vṛndāvana. Eventually he arrived at the banks of the Yamunā, and at that time there was no town or village there. From a secluded grove (kuñja) he heard a voice lamenting, but it was also very sweet. He could not discern if it was someone crying, if it was a kīrtana, or even whether it was a man or woman, but the sound was attracting him. Slowly he began searching after this voice until he came to a dense kuñja amongst the gardens of the Yamunā near Keśī-ghāṭa. Entering the kuñja, he saw a very effulgent and attractive youth. It was Gopa-kumāra, and he was chanting this kīrtana in a very sweet melody:

śrī-kṛṣṇa gopāla hare mukunda
govinda he nanda-kiśora kṛṣṇa
hā śrī-yaśodā-tanaya prasīda
śrī-ballavī-jīvana rādhikeśa

Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta (2.4.7)

   In his kīrtana he was emphasising the line hā śrī-yasodā-tanaya prasīda. He was shedding tears and saliva was falling from his mouth. Whether he was conscious or unconscious, the brāhmaṇa couldn’t tell. Bringing some water from the Yamunā, the brāhmaṇa cleaned Gopa-kumāra’s mouth, and fanning him, gradually brought him to his external senses. After a little while Gopa-kumāra arose and said, “You have come from Assam, from Pragjyotisapura? There the goddess Devī gave you some mantra?” The brāhmaṇa did not reply. “She gave you the gopāla-mantra? From there, via Gangasagara and Gaya, you went to Varanasi, and there Śaṅkara and Pārvatī gave you some instruction? And via Prayaga you have come here?”
   The more Gopa-kumāra said, the more the brāhmaṇa was astonished, and deep faith arose in him towards Gopa-kumāra. Thinking, “How did he know this?” the brāhmaṇa could only stand motionlessly and listen, stunned. He was deeply affected. When we have this kind of experience, the faith that it produces will stay with us for our entire life. When we are fortunate enough to meet such a guru, the effect will be lasting. But upon meeting a bogus guru we will get a different feeling. The so-called guru will say, “My friend, please take harināma initiation from me.”
 One may reply, “No, not now; perhaps I will take it tomorrow or the next day.”
 But if the so-called guru sees that, “This man is wealthy and has a nice house and nice possessions; through him we can get some work done. There is some litigation against us, and since he has a post with the government, he can clear it up for us,” then he will say, “No, there is no need to wait. Take it now; otherwise your mind will become distracted. Just bring a flower garland.”
   And even if one does not want to bring a garland, the false guru will say, “All right then; for you there will be no restriction in regard to eating and drinking, such as being vegetarian and abstaining from wine. Whose mantra do you want? Would you like the Gaṇeśa mantra?”
   A pure guru will not do any of this funny business with mantras. He will thoughtfully determine the sentiment of a prospective disciple, and if the person has a genuine desire for kṛṣṇa-bhakti, then he will give him the mantra. Otherwise, on some pretext he will postpone it and send the person away. Especially if a madhyama-adhikārī spiritual master is a little weak, he will keep the prospective disciple in his company for some time, first become convinced about his purity of purpose, and then give him the mantra. The madhyama-adhikārī Vaiṣṇava mostly acts as guru, not the uttama-adhikārī. An uttama-adhikārī Vaiṣṇava must come down a little to the madhyama-adhikārī stage in order to act as guru; but the uttama-adhikārī generally does not initiate disciples. Nārada became the guru of many persons, but he never actually performed the rituals of a formal initiation ceremony. He would simply inspire the flow of bhakti in someone’s heart, give some instruction, and nothing more.
   Once there was a man named Kabīra who wanted to take initiation from a Rāmānuja Vaiṣṇava named Rāmānanda Ācārya. Whenever he would come asking for initiation, Rāmānanda would send him away. Rāmānanda considered this Kabīra to be a first-class māyāvādī, a nirviśeṣavādī, and therefore thought that he shouldn’t be given initiation. So, one night, when it was extremely dark and Rāmānanda was going to bathe, Kabīra, knowing that he was coming, lay down on the path in front of him. Because of the darkness, Rāmānanda did not see Kabīra lying there and tripped over him. Thinking that he had offended someone by touching them with his feet, he said, “Say Rāma! Say Rāma!”
   Then, standing up and clasping Rāmānanda’s feet, Kabīra said, “This is my initiation, Gurujī. Now you are my guru. Rāma, Rāma, Rāma…”
   One can get initiated by this kind of trickery also, but we cannot obtain devotion in this way. Kabīra simply remained a first-class māyāvādī.
   Gopa-kumāra was saying such things that it inspired full faith in the brāhmaṇa. The brāhmaṇa said, “I have come from afar, and in my heart there is a strong desire to know one thing: what is sādhya, the final goal, and sādhana, the method to attain it?”
   If this question is not within a disciple, then he will never reach the desired goal. When Mahāprabhu was in East Bengal, Tapana Miśra asked Him, “What is our sādhya and sādhana?” By asking this question, a disciple will please his guru very much, and the guru will reply, “Oh, what a beautiful question you have asked!”
   A disciple will be thinking, “Until now I have been unable to ascertain what our sādhya is. Who should we worship, and how should we perform that worship? What is our necessity? To whom will we go, and how will we get to Him?”
   Therefore, from the very beginning of our spiritual practice, we must know what is sādhana and what is sādhya: “Which path should I take? And by travelling along this path, what will I attain?” This knowledge is given only in a real sampradāya; in some sampradāyas we don’t even find this.
   Gopa-kumāra said to the brāhmaṇa, “My dear friend, there is little time. I will tell you some things regarding this from my own experience. You already possess the mantra, and you have already obtained the darśana of Mahādeva and Pārvatī-devī. It is possible, in some circumstances, that the mantra alone will give you everything. But without remaining in the appropriate Vaiṣṇava association, it is generally not possible to learn the answer to your question. Therefore, in very simple language I will help you to understand what is sādhya and sādhana. I will tell you in sequence, one stage after the other. If I immediately tell you about vraja-prema, the prema of the gopīs, the prema of Rādhikā, or if I immediately tell you how Śrī Kṛṣṇa – Nanda-nandana, Naṭavara, Śyāmasundara, Rādhā-kānta – is alone our most worshipful deity, you will not understand. If I tell you first about the intimate pastimes of Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, you will not understand. So I will explain the gradation involved, and according to your specific internal nature you will catch a particular sentiment.”
   Then Gopa-kumāra began his own life story: “I took birth in the home of a milkman at Govardhana. When I was a little grown-up, my parents would send me to take the cows for grazing. Taking the cows out to graze, drinking milk and playing with my friends: it was the carefree life of a young cowherd boy. My friends and I were fearless; we could even fight without fear of being rebuked. The relationships between people there were real and intimate, and this is how I grew up.
   “One day I saw a brāhmaṇa, and he was very merciful to me. He was always performing kīrtana of the name of Bhagavān, and I saw that he was very renounced, never caring for anything of this world. I began to develop some faith in him. My mother would tell me to take him some milk, and I would go and deliver it to him. I told him that whenever he became hungry, he should tell us. While taking the cows out every day, I would go to see him, and slowly I came to love him. Eventually I loved him with my whole heart and soul, so much so that I forgot the affection of my mother and father and everyone else.
   “I saw him in many different states – sometimes laughing, sometimes running, and sometimes rolling on the banks of the Yamunā shouting, ‘Hā Kṛṣṇa! Hā Kṛṣṇa!’ Witnessing this, great faith in him arose within me. My relationship with the brāhmaṇa was very sweet. Like a mother I would sometimes bring him roṭīs and other things, but mostly he would take milk. When I would come and sit before him, he would put his hand on my head, pat me on the back and show me great affection. As a result of this, slowly I became indifferent to the things of this world, and I desired to receive initiation from him.
   “Then one day I insisted that he initiate me. He told me to first go and bathe in the Yamunā. I did so, and upon returning, he spoke the mantra into my ear, the same mantra that Pārvatī-devī has given you. Then my gurudeva began to tell me the rules and regulations for chanting. He said, ‘Who is the deity of this mantra? And by chanting it, what kind of sentiment will come into your heart? Listen: with the flute in His hands and a peacock feather on His head, the incomparably marvellous Śyāmasundara…’ Then at that moment he became overwhelmed with bhāva and fell to the ground unconscious, without having said a word about the rules and regulations or sādhya and sādhana. He had only told me the mantra; he didn’t tell me its meaning, or how many times to chant it, or even how to sit while chanting. There was foam coming from his mouth, his limbs were shivering, and the hairs of his body stood erect. I ran to the Yamunā for water to revive him, but when I returned he was no longer there. I searched through all of the kuñjas of the entire area of Vṛndāvana. Searching and searching I became exhausted, and not finding him anywhere, I became very upset.”
   When I received initiation from my guru, Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Mahārāja, I also asked him, “Please tell me a little of the meaning of the gopāla-mantra and kāma-gāyatrī.” He replied, “Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa are the gopāla-mantra and kāma-gāyatrī. By chanting them, Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa will eventually reveal Themselves to you. There is no necessity of knowing the full meaning now. When the appropriate time comes, the mantras will appear within your heart and reveal everything to you.” I have always followed his instruction in this regard and there has never been any necessity for me to ask anyone else.

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