nirapekṣaṁ muniṁ śāntaṁ
anuvrajāmy ahaṁ nityaṁ
My pure devotees are free from any personal desire, always rapt in thoughts of My pastimes, peaceful, devoid of enmity, non-envious and equally disposed towards all. I therefore always follow in their footsteps because I desire to purify Myself with the dust of their lotus feet.
The following is an excerpt from Mādhurya-kādambinī, Shower Three, Texts 2e–2f, Commentaries of Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura and of Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja
kiṁ ca, kaścin mahā-bhāgavatatvāt mahāparādhiny api yadyapi na kupyati tad api tatrāparādhavatā sva-śuddhy-arthaṁ praṇaty-ādibhir anuvartanīya eva saḥ | “serṣyaṁ mahāpuruṣa-pāda-pāṁśubhir nirasta-tejaḥsu tad eva śobhanam” iti satāṁ vākyena tac-caraṇa-reṇūnām asahiṣṇutayā tat-phala-pradatvāvagamāt |
Bhāvānuvāda: Due to their supremely forgiving natures, some mahā-bhāgavata Vaiṣṇavas do not become angry, even though a grievous offence to them has been committed. Nevertheless, for the offender’s own purification, he should beg forgiveness by offering obeisance to that Vaiṣṇava and rendering service to him.
It is stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (4.4.13): “The foot-dust of the pure devotees will deprive an offender of all his power. Criticism of saintly personalities befits only the wicked [as they will receive an appropriate consequence].”
Such words spoken by great personalities indicate that the foot-dust of those pure devotees cannot tolerate any offence to that devotee and that this holy foot-dust certainly gives the offender the result of his aparādha.
Pīyūṣa-varṣiṇī-vṛtti: In regard to the characteristics of pure devotees, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.2.45) states:
sarva-bhūteṣu yaḥ paśyed
bhūtāni bhagavaty ātmany
[Śrī Havi Yogīndra said to Śrī Nimi Mahārāja:] O King, one who sees his own mood of attraction to Śrī Kṛṣṇacandra, the Soul of all souls, in all jīvas, and who also sees all living entities residing within the shelter of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, is an uttama-bhāgavata.
Such mahā-bhāgavatas roam this earth absorbed in prema, unconscious of the external world. If anyone blasphemes them or acts with hostility toward them, they do not become indignant and do not take offence. Hearing this, some may conjecture that if they never become angry or take offence, such acts as criticizing them cannot be deemed aparādha.
In this regard, Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura explains that although these pure devotees are not offended by anyone, the heart of the offender becomes extremely foul. Thus, if a person by chance criticizes or commits an offence to such a pure devotee in some way, then, to purify his heart, he should please that devotee by falling at his feet, praising him and begging for his forgiveness. Knowing him to be an exalted saint exclusively dedicated to chanting the holy name, he should perform nāma-kīrtana while staying in his company. By doing this, the offender will quickly attain the mercy of Nāma Prabhu.
Here, another question may arise: If pure devotees regard praise, obeisance, blasphemy and malice to be the same, then they cannot possibly become angry when criticized, and likewise, it is not possible to please them by praising them or offering them praṇāma. How then can the offender purify his heart and remove the offence simply by following their footsteps, offering praise, obeisance and so on?
The author quotes Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and the words of Śrīmatī Satī-devī, who became enraged upon seeing her husband, Śrīman Mahādeva (Lord Śiva), being disrespected at the fire sacrifice conducted by her father, Dakṣa. This demonstrates that although a mahā-bhāgavata never takes offence, his foot-dust cannot tolerate it. Therefore, in order to pacify the foot-dust of the Vaiṣṇava, it is incumbent upon a person to earnestly glorify and offer obeisance to him.
nāścaryam etad yad asatsu sarvadā
nirasta-tejaḥsu tad eva śobhanam
It is no wonder that those wretches who consider the corpse to be the self repeatedly and enviously deride great souls. Such blasphemy certainly befits them. Although these exalted personalities pay no heed to the activities of such persons, their foot-dust cannot tolerate the offence and will destroy their power.
Through this great teaching, it is to be understood that although the impudent behaviour of wicked persons does not stimulate anger in the heart of a great devotee, nevertheless, to pacify the dust of the holy feet of that pure devotee, such wicked persons must follow in that devotee’s footsteps and worship him by glorifying him and offering him obeisance. If they do not, the dust of the devotee’s holy feet will unfailingly mete out the appropriate punishment for their offence. Of this, there is no doubt.
kiṁ ca, duravagama-niṣkāraṇake kvacit kṛpā-dṛṣṭau prabhaviṣṇau svacchanda-carite kvacin mahā-bhāgavata-maulau tu na kāpi maryādā paryāpnoti | yathā śivikāṁ vāhayati kaṭūkti-viṣa-varṣiṇy api rahūgaṇe śrī-jaḍa-bharatasya kṛpā | yathā ca pāṣaṇḍa-dharmāvalambini sva-hiṁsārtham upaseduṣi daitya-samūhe uparicarasya vasoś cedi-rājasya | yathā vā mahā-pāpini sva-lalāṭe rudhira- pātiny api mādhave prabhu-varasya nityānandasyeti |
Bhāvānuvāda: Only those saintly persons who are the crest jewels among mahā-bhāgavatas are independent and fully qualified to bestow mercy for a reason that is unknown, or even without any reason at all. In this regard, no rules and regulations of any kind, nor any limit or boundary, can be applied to them. For example, King Rahūgaṇa engaged Jaḍa Bharata in carrying his palanquin, and then showered poison-like words upon him that were full of bitter, harsh criticism. It is legendary that despite this, Jaḍa Bharata conferred mercy upon the king. Demons, who abide by heretical principles, came to harm the King of Cedi, Uparicara Vasu, but Uparicara Vasu bestowed mercy upon them. Similarly, Lord Nityānanda bestowed mercy upon the greatly wicked Mādhāi, even after Mādhāi had struck Him on the head, causing blood to flow.
Pīyūṣa-varṣiṇī-vṛtti: Absorbed in the rapture of spiritual bliss (bhāva), mahā-bhāgavata devotees are devoid of material attachment, envy and so on. They thus wander throughout the world, unperturbed by praise or criticism. It is impossible for them to favour or punish anyone. However, as stated previously, one who criticizes them commits a most grievous offence. Nevertheless, the same rules do not apply in every situation. By nature, the mahā-bhāgavatas are independent and fully competent to bestow causeless mercy. Therefore, they sometimes shower their incessant compassion and merciful glance even on great offenders who have wronged or blasphemed them. The revered author has illustrated this with the three following examples.
Once, the king of Sindhu and Sauvīra, King Rahūgaṇa, was being carried on a palanquin along the river Ikṣumatī. On the way, one of the palanquin bearers fell ill and the commander in charge of the king’s transportation needed someone to replace him. The commander chanced to see a brāhmaṇa youth from the Āṅgirasa dynasty, the parama-bhāgavata Śrī Jaḍa Bharata. Free from any bodily conception, Śrī Jaḍa Bharata was a well-wishing friend of all living entities and devoid of malice. Seeing his stout, well-built physique, the commander engaged him in carrying the king’s palanquin.
Without saying a word, Jaḍa Bharata lifted the palanquin and silently began walking with the other carriers. He studied the path intently, taking each step with care to avoid crushing any ants and insects. Hence, he was unable to keep pace with the other carriers, and Mahārāja Rahūgaṇa was jolted about. The king chastised the carriers a few times. Fearing punishment, they said, “Your Highness, this new bearer is walking unevenly, causing the palanquin to not proceed smoothly.”
Enraged, the king spoke scornfully: “Why, you look exhausted! Are you carrying this contraption alone? Are you a skinny weakling beset with old age? Walk properly! Don’t you know who I am!”
Despite being ridiculed with these derisive words, Jaḍa Bharata did not retort and continued carrying the king’s palanquin as before. How could disdainful, taunting words generate an anger that has no purpose in the heart of one who is beyond the false ego of bodily identification? Such words did not have the slightest effect on Jaḍa Bharata and he proceeded as before. When the palanquin again began to totter and jolt, Mahārāja Rahūgaṇa became infuriated.
“What are you? The living dead? Are you not the least afraid of disobeying my order? Remember this: Just as Yamarāja gives punishment to all, I, also, will mete out a most fearful punishment, and then you will walk properly.”
With a slight smile, Jaḍa Bharata then used the king’s own words to convey wonderful, unprecedented instructions that were full of spiritual knowledge. He spoke of the bodily conception of being fat or thin, he spoke of birth and death, and of knowledge of the ultimate transcendental reality. Upon hearing these authentic instructions on spiritual truth, the king was mortified and immediately descended his palanquin, placed his head upon Jaḍa Bharata’s lotus feet and pleaded forgiveness for his offence.
Finally, King Rahūgaṇa’s many inquiries were satisfactorily answered and his life became successful. Relinquishing his identification with the body, he became dedicated to bhagavad-bhajana and achieved the supreme destination. Despite his committing offences, he still received the mercy of the mahā-bhāgavata Jaḍa Bharata and was blessed. The history of Jaḍa Bharata and Mahārāja Rahūgaṇa is described in detail in the Fifth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
The second example describes the king of Cedi, named Mahārāja Uparicara Vasu. In Bhakti-sandarbha (Anuccheda 176), Śrī Jīva Gosvāmīpāda tells the history of Uparicara Vasu from the Viṣṇu-dharmottara. This account shows how great souls bestow mercy, even upon severe offenders.
In order to aid the demigods, Mahārāja Uparicara Vasu annihilated the demons. Repentant for inflicting violence on others, he became detached from material enjoyment, and with an anxious heart, he entered Pātāla-loka [a subterranean planet] with a desire to continuously meditate on Śrī Hari.
The demons learned that their former enemy had desisted from violence and had gone to Pātāla-loka without weapons. Seeing an opportune moment to take revenge, they went to Pātāla-loka and approached Uparicara Vasu, desiring to kill him. The moment they raised their weapons to behead him, their weapons froze mid-air, and they were unable to strike that great devotee. This took place by the power of his devotion to Bhagavān.
The demons went to their preceptor, Śukrācārya, and after receiving his counsel, they returned to Pātāla-loka, where they proceeded to impart instructions on atheism. It should be noted that upon hearing the demons’ entire account of this incident, Śukrācārya had concluded that as long as the heart of Uparicara Vasu remained immersed in remembrance of Bhagavān, no one could touch a hair on his body. But if Uparicara Vasu disobeyed or disregarded Bhagavān in his heart, then he could be destroyed. Śukrācārya therefore told the demons, “Go to Uparicara Vasu and loudly announce, ‘There is no God! The Vedic scriptures are false!’ ”
As they followed Śukrācārya’s instruction to loudly propagate atheism within the hearing of Uparicara Vasu, his meditation was slightly disturbed. Seeing their misfortune, his heart filled with compassion. He thought, “Alas, what a tragedy for these demons! In order to take my life, they desire even to obscure the existence of Bhagavān, who is the Lord of all, the cause of all causes and the supreme controller of everything. O supremely merciful Bhagavān, please be kind to them, purify their meagre intelligence and immerse them in the nectar of devotion to Your lotus feet.” Due to this merciful prayer by the devotee of Bhagavān, all of those demons became devotees of the Lord.
A second history of Uparicara, King of Cedi, is elaborately described in the Mahābhārata (Ādi-parva 63 and Śānti-parva 337).
Uparicara was the son of King Pīrava. He was constantly engaged in dharmic practices. On one such occasion, he performed such great austerities that Indra and the other demigods suspected that he was doing so in order to attain Indra’s position. They approached him about this and he peacefully desisted from his austerities. They thus awarded him the kingdom of Cedi, and Indra presented him with a most tremendous celestial, jewel-encrusted airship that remained in the sky, ready for his use. Indra also gave him a vaijayantī-mālā, a special flower garland that would protect whoever wore it in battle from all types of weapons. When the appropriate time came, the king crowned his sons the kings of his various realms and then took up residence in his airship, travelling here and there.
One day, there was a dispute between the demigods and the brahmarṣis (sages realized in brahma, the Absolute Truth). The prominent scriptures prescribing the path to attain material enjoyment (karma-kāṇḍa) state that yajña is performed with aja. What exactly is aja? The brahmarṣis said that the word aja means anna-bīja, or food grains. In other words, fire sacrifices are performed with food grains as the offering. But the demigods argued that aja here indicates the offering of a sacrificial male goat. In other words, one should perform yajña with the ritual of killing a goat. The brahmarṣis said, “This is Satya-yuga, and yajña that is injurious to any animal cannot be the religious practice (dharma) of a saintly person; it is considered sacrilegious.”
As the debate was going on, Śrī Uparicara Vasu came by and alighted his airship. “O demigods,” the brahmarṣis said, “this King Vasu is supremely religious. His performance of yajña is unsurpassed, and he is extremely generous and truthful. Let him settle this debate.” The demigods accepted this proposal. After they explained the details to King Uparicara, he said, “First, please tell me honestly, who among you interpreted aja to mean ‘a male goat’ and who interpreted it to mean ‘food grain’?” When both sides had answered, King Uparicara took the side of the demigods.
The brahmarṣis were incensed. “You know perfectly well that here, aja means food grains, but still you have sided with the demigods. You must now fall from heaven by the power of our curse, penetrate the earth and descend directly to Pātāla. If your verdict has contradicted the Vedas and sūtras, our curse will surely be effective. And if what we have said is discordant with the scriptures, then let it be we who fall down.”
At that moment, King Uparicara Vasu fell to Pātāla-loka. However, despite residing there, he constantly chanted Bhagavān’s holy name. Lord Nārāyaṇa soon became pleased and sent Garuḍa to bring King Uparicara Vasu to Him in Vaikuṇṭha.
The purport is that despite Uparicara Vasu’s offence to the brahmarṣis and virtuous personalities, Bhagavān still showed him favour and he attained residence in Vaikuṇṭha.
In essence, although someone may offend saintly persons, whose nature is independent, the offender may still be delivered. In this way, the constraints of [ordinary] morality cannot restrict the mahā-bhāgavata.
In the third example, the respected author, Śrī Cakravartī Ṭhākura, mentions the mercy bestowed upon Mādhāi by the supremely blissful Lord Nityānanda, who never becomes angry. The deliverance of Jagāi and Mādhāi is one of Śrī Gaura-Nityānanda’s celebrated pastimes.
One day, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu called Śrī Nityānanda and Śrī Haridāsa Ṭhākura and said, “Nityānanda and Haridāsa, spread My teachings far and wide. Go from house to house, to everyone’s door, and tell them,
‘Learn the ontological truth (tattva) about Śrī Kṛṣṇa and worship Him. Tell everyone to daily chant His holy names: hare kṛṣṇa hare kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa hare hare / hare rāma hare rāma rāma rāma hare hare.”
Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu and Haridāsa Ṭhākura, having received this order from Śrīman Mahāprabhu, would daily go from house to house, begging alms from everyone: “Chant the holy names of Kṛṣṇa and worship Him! Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the soul, the wealth and the life-breath of the entire world. One should worship Him exclusively.” Thus, they both preached in this way, going from door to door.
Once, while Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu and Haridāsa Ṭhākura were promulgating bhakti in the town of Navadvīpa, they happened upon two drunkards, Jagāi and Mādhāi, drinking liquor on the main road. Although Jagāi and Mādhāi were brāhmaṇas by birth, their appearance and temperament were terrifying. They would drink alcohol and they would loot and murder. There was no sin they had not committed. When Śrī Nityānanda saw them, His heart filled with compassion.
People tried to dissuade Nityānanda Prabhu from going near them, but He had resolved to deliver Jagāi and Mādhāi. He approached them and ordered them to utter Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s holy name. Both were hopelessly intoxicated, and as soon as they heard Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s name from the mouth of Nityānanda Prabhu, they made chase, intending to beat Him. Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu and Śrī Haridāsa Ṭhākura ran away, with the two scoundrels pursuing them. The sight of this made wicked people chuckle and saintly people lament. Somehow, Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu and Haridāsa Ṭhākura escaped.
The next day, Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu and Haridāsa Ṭhākura again went to that place, where both drunkards were guzzling from an earthen pot containing wine. Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu again approached them and instructed them to utter the holy name of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, whereupon Mādhāi seized a shard from a broken pot and struck the head of Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu, causing it to gush blood. When it was reported to Mahāprabhu that Jagāi and Mādhāi had wounded Nityānanda, Mahāprabhu was outraged and ran to where they were. When He saw blood flowing from the head of Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu, He summoned His discus weapon, crying out, “Cakra, cakra!”
Immediately, the Sudarśana cakra appeared in Mahāprabhu’s hand.
But Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu cried out, “Jagāi saved Me by telling his brother Mādhāi not to strike Me! And because of this, Mādhāi did not try to strike Me a second time.” Mahāprabhu embraced Jagāi, who then called out, “Kṛṣṇa! Kṛṣṇa!” and fell to the ground unconscious in prema. The heart of Mādhāi was also transformed, and he fell at the lotus feet of Śrīman Mahāprabhu, who told him, “As long as Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu does not forgive you, you cannot be delivered by any means whatsoever.”
Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu prayed on Mādhāi’s behalf: “O Lord, please bestow kṛṣṇa-prema upon Mādhāi as well.”
Śrīman Mahāprabhu placed His hand upon the head of Mādhāi and granted him kṛṣṇa-prema. Jagāi and Mādhāi then began to dance and call out, “Hare Kṛṣṇa!”
By the mercy of the moon-like Nitāi, these two wicked rascals quickly became mahā-bhāgavatas. They daily swept and cleansed that very bathing place on the bank of the Gaṅgā where they used to disturb others. All the ladies and gentlemen could then again go there to bathe, without any apprehension.
The following is an excerpt from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (2.3.23), translation and purport by Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja
The person who has not at any time received the dust of the feet of the Lord’s pure devotee upon his head is certainly a dead body. And the person who has never experienced the aroma of the tulasī leaves from the lotus feet of the Lord is also a dead body, although breathing.
According to Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, the breathing dead body is a ghost. When a man dies, he is called dead, but when he again appears in a subtle form not visible to our present vision and yet acts, such a dead body is called a ghost. Ghosts are always very bad elements, always creating a fearful situation for others. Similarly, the ghostlike nondevotees who have no respect for the pure devotees, nor for the Viṣṇu Deity in the temples, create a fearful situation for the devotees at all times. The Lord never accepts any offering by such impure ghosts. There is a common saying that one should first love the dog of the beloved before one shows any loving sentiments for the beloved. The stage of pure devotion is attained by sincerely serving a pure devotee of the Lord. The first condition of devotional service to the Lord is therefore to be a servant of a pure devotee, and this condition is fulfilled by the statement “reception of the dust of the lotus feet of a pure devotee who has also served another pure devotee.” That is the way of pure disciplic succession, or devotional paramparā.
The following is an excerpt of a darśana with Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja in Cebu, the Philippines on December 27, 2008, published in Walking with a Saint – Morning Walks and Conversations 2008
Madhuvrata dāsa: Only by taking bath in the foot-dust of the pure devotees can one become free from material existence.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: What is the meaning of mahatpäda-rajo-’bhiñekam (bathing in the foot-dust of pure devotees)?
Madhuvrata dāsa: The word ‘foot-dust’ implies following the instructions of the pure devotees.
The following is an excerpt from Śrī Manaḥ-śikṣā, 4th Edition, Verse 1, Purport by Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja
The word goṣṭhālayin refers to the residents of Vraja. Those residents of Vraja who have inner sentiments like the eternal rāgātmika Vrajavāsīs, even though they may not have taken birth in Vraja, are the real Vrajavāsīs; especially if they have the topmost mādhurya-bhāva of the gopīs and are performing bhajana in this mood. We should understand these to be the true residents of Vraja and serve them. How should they be served? We should hear the harikathā emanating from their mouths and serve the dust of their feet. What is the meaning of “the dust of their feet”? It means to develop excellent loving attachment (rati) for them through service; this in turn will improve one’s bhajana. Always remember that everything in Vraja – even the trees, creepers, birds and animals – is transcendental (cinmaya) and favourable to Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes. Whatever Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī says is the eternal truth. We have to reach up to that stage where we can also have the same vision as he has.
The following is an excerpt from The Origin of the Ratha-yātrā, Chapter 5, by Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja
Uddhava then prayed:
Nanda-vraja-strīṇām means the beloved gopīs of Kṛṣṇa. Uddhava prayed to them, “I want to offer myself unto the dust of your lotus feet. I want to keep even one particle of your foot-dust on my head, and if I can only get one particle of dust, it must be Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s.” Neither Brahmā nor Śaṅkara, nor even Satyabhāmā and the other Dvārakā queens, can attain this.
Kṛṣṇa had sent Uddhava to see the glories of the gopīs, and now he saw Mount Everest, the highest peak of the Himālayas of the gopīs’ love. He could not become like them, however, so he had to return to Kṛṣṇa empty-handed. “I went there and saw something very mysterious and wonderful, which I cannot explain,” he told Kṛṣṇa. “You told me about the gopīs, and what I saw was even more wonderful than what You told me. But I had to return without realizing anything.”
Yāsāṁ hari-kathodgītaṁ, punāti bhuvana-trayam. The songs of the gopīs, such as Bhramara-gīta and Gopī-gīta, purify the whole universe, and if one recites them, or even remembers them, he will actually be purified. So try to recite all these songs (gītas) and know them. The meanings are very deep, and Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja wanted to teach that the very wonderful moods therein are our aim and object. He wanted to teach this and he did discuss it in his books, but how could he actually plant it in barren lands and deserts? First he had to cultivate the lands to make them fertile. He wanted to give this highest goal, but in the meantime his Svāminī, Śrīmatī Rādhikā, called to him, “Come at once! We need your service.”
This is our goal – the dust of the lotus feet of Śrīmatī Rādhikā.
āsām aho caraṇa-reṇu-juṣām ahaṁ syāṁ
vṛndāvane kim api gulma-latauṣadhīnām
yā dustyajaṁ sva-janam ārya-pathaṁ ca hitvā
bhejur mukunda-padavīṁ śrutibhir vimṛgyām
The gopīs of Vṛndāvana have abandoned the association of their husbands, sons, and other family members who are very difficult to give up, and they have forsaken the path of chastity to take shelter of the lotus feet of Mukunda, Kṛṣṇa, which one should search for by Vedic knowledge. Oh, let me be fortunate enough to be one of the bushes, creepers, or herbs in Vṛndāvana, because the gopīs trample them and bless them with the dust of their lotus feet.
Uddhava prayed, “If I cannot attain Rādhikā’s lotus feet, then I will be satisfied with the dust particles from the feet of any of Her sakhīs. I don’t want the dust of Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet, because I will have to take a particle of the gopīs’ moods if I want to please Kṛṣṇa.”
We must engage in the process given by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, and Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura. The teaching of our present ācāryas is the same wine in new bottles. The bottles are different colours, but the wine is the same. If you drink that wine, you will certainly become mad, but this madness is actually desirable.
Image/Art made possible by Pixabay.com & Krishnapath.org