Prabodhānanda Sarasvatīpāda prays, “Dear mind, please always meditate on and serve Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa.” Many people have strong personalities and collect great amounts of name and fame. They are not humble. They challenge others and demand posts like chairman and president. We should know that these things are very trivial; they will only remain for a short time. When we develop greed for vraja-rasa, or vraja-bhakti, we will see these positions as insignificant. The positions that people desire in this world hold no value for those who desire the highest spiritual position, that is to be a humble maidservant of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa.
It is said that in this world, “Honesty is the best policy,” but on the spiritual platform even these so-called virtues will be discarded in Kṛṣṇa’s service.
Kṛṣṇa has said:
man nimittaṁ kṛtaṁ pāpam
api dharmāya kalpate
mām anādṛtya dharmo ‘pi
pāpaṁ syān mat prabhāvataḥ
Even if one is performing religious activities, if he has no attachment to Me and no desire to serve Me, then these religious activities are actually pāpa or sin. On the other hand, if one performs seemingly sinful activities by My command, or for My sake, then that can be considered dharma.
So the question is not exactly how we are acting, but why, for what, and for whom. Are we doing it for Kṛṣṇa under the command of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, or we are acting independently for our own self-gain with the hope that others will consider us to be very important?
Kṛṣṇa also said:
ājñāyaivaṁ guṇān doṣān
mayādiṣṭān api svakān
dharmān santyajya yaḥ sarvān
māṁ bhajeta sa tu sattamaḥ
Give up all types of external activities and surrender only unto Me. I have created all of the rules and regulations in the scriptures, and those should certainly be followed by ordinary men, but for those who are one-pointedly attracted to Me and who are endeavoring to serve Me, all these can be given up.
This is a very critical verse and is difficult for ordinary people to understand, but the Vraja-devīs understand this verse very well. If we come to Vṛndāvana with the desire for mahāt-saṅga, the association of liberated souls, then we are on the right path, but if we only associate with those who externally follow all the rules and regulations present in scripture, then we will not be able to obtain the highest position—to be the maidservant of Rādhikā.
The gopīs are very tricky, they will say that they are doing one thing but will do something else. They will tell their parent and elders, “We are going to the Yamunā to pick flowers,” but instead they will go and meet with Kṛṣṇa. They will say that they are carrying buttermilk in clay pots, but actually they have kept butter, honey, and many other nice things for Kṛṣṇa. They will say they are going to sell buttermilk in the market, but instead will go and cook a feast for Kṛṣṇa in the forest and meet with Him there.
The gopīs are crooked and tricky. They have so much love, and they also follow rules and regulations. Their rules and regulations however are those of Vraja, not of this world. Those who never drink the divine nectar of Rādhārānī’s names and service can never understand the behavior of the Vraja-devis and certainly cannot adopt their perfect behavior.
The gopīs are expert at always pleasing Kṛṣṇa through their tricky behavior. Those who are always honest and straightforward cannot have the guidance of the Vraja-devis nor learn to serve Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa like them. We must therefore learn to become tricky. When Śrīla Gurudeva served Param Gurudeva, Ācārya Kesarī Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja, he also did so in tricky ways.
Once, Param Gurudeva asked Śrīlā Gurudeva, “What have you cooked today?”
Gurudeva replied, “Only kichaḍi.” However, when he served Param Gurudeva, he first gave him kichaḍi, but then he also brought chutney, subjis, yogurt, kṣira, and so many tasty things. Param Gurudeva asked, “What is this? Where did you bring all this from?”
“Oh, someone has arranged this for Ṭhākurajī. So I have brought a little of Ṭhākurajī’s prasāda for you. I don’t know who has made this or where it has come from. I heard that some devotees brought this for Ṭhākurajī, so we offered it and then brought some prasāda for you.”
Ordinary people will not have this kind of mood when serving Ṭhākurajī and Guru Mahārāja. In this way, Śrīlā Gurudeva trickily arranged many delicious items for Param Gurudeva. He did not tell Param Gurudeva directly that he had made these things for him, rather he told him, “This was all arranged for Ṭhākurajī.” He thought, “I know that my Gurudeva will not accept these nice things, he will say, “Why are you bringing such opulent things only for me?” He understood that Param Gurudeva would become upset, so he acted in a tricky and clever way.
This behavior is natural for the Vraja-devīs. Gurudeva also behaves like this because he has pure vraja-bhakti. The Vraja-devīs are always eager to serve in a pleasing manner. If any problem or disturbance comes then they never become hopeless or depressed; their love ever-increases. Obstacles that would destroy any ordinary person’s love may be there, but their love only increases.
This pure bhakti—this vraja–bhakti—is highly exalted and therefore Prabodhānanda Sarasvatīpāda sings, “O my heart, please give up attachment for the important things of this world and just run to Vraja, to Vṛndāvana, where the supreme treasure, the nectar flood of Śrī Rādhā’s name delivers all the sādhakas of this world and brings them to the eternal land of Vraja.”
We pray to always bathe in the nectar of Rādhārānī’s names. When there is so much rain that the land becomes flooded, the river overflows, and everything is either swept aside or pulled into that flood—even great big trees and houses—still, we can see that in the rivers there are lotuses that are not broken.
They move this way and that, from side to side as though they are playing in the water. In the same way, when the flood of śuddha-rasa, or the divine nectar of Rādhārānī’s names enters our hearts, we will become restless with the desire to be present in Vraja, and even if so many obstacles come before us in this world we will be able to conquer all difficulties.
O Śrī Rādhā, storehouse of bliss, as the most expert of lovers prostrates at Your feet and begs for the festival of a single embrace, when will I see You knit Your eyebrows and hear You say “No. No.” (Verse 10)
“O Vṛṣabhānu-nandinī, Kṛṣṇa is so clever. He comes and offers praṇāma to You and begs, ‘Please give Me Your shelter, and just once accept Me as Yours. I am Yours alone. Please show with an embrace that You accept Me.’ ”
Dāsa Gosvāmī prays:
tavaivāsmi tavaivāsmi na jivāmi tvayā vinā
iti vijñāya rādhe tvaṁ naya māṁ caraṇāntikam
Śrī Vilāpa Kusumāñjali 96
I am Yours! I am Yours! I cannot live without You! O Rādhe, please understand this and bring me to the service of Your lotus feet.
“O Rādhe, please accept me as a maidservant at Your lotus feet.” In this same mood Kṛṣṇa falls at the feet of Rādhārānī and prays to Her, “Please accept Me!” He is very clever and therefore again and again He offers obeisance at the feet of Rādhārānī saying, “Please embrace Me. Just once touch Me with Your graceful hands. I am Yours only. I desire nothing else in this world. Nothing else can give Me happiness.”
Kṛṣṇa is very clever and prays to all of the different Vraja-devīs, but they are all also very intelligent and do not readily accept Him. Kṛṣṇa prays, “O Śrīmatī Rādhikā, please accept Me. Just give Me one drop of your mercy!” But Śrīmatī does not agree to Kṛṣṇa’s pleas and neither do the gopīs.
“Do not speak to Him,” Rādhikā instructs her friends and maidservants. To Kṛṣṇa, She says, “No! No! Get out! We have no relation with You!”
In Vraja there is a great feast of ānanda-rasa, the bliss of the Vraja-devīs’ nectarful love, and Kṛṣṇa came to taste that feast. But the Vraja-devīs do not give Him a taste so easily. So many people offer things to Kṛṣṇa, but He is not so greedy to taste these offerings. He is greedy for the love of the gopīs. When He begs for their mercy and they do not give it to Him, He also finds this very sweet. He is very eager to taste the māna, the transcendental anger, present in the love of the gopīs. When something is easily available then it will not be so relishable, but when one has to struggle for something, then that thing will be extra sweet.
A fully surrendered servant of Śrī Guru will not be interested even if everything desirable is made easily available to him. Without Śrī Guru’s permission he will not touch anything.
In Vraja there is ānanda-utsava, a festival of bliss. Kṛṣṇa prays, “O Rādhe! Please give Me one morsel from this feast, I offer obeisance to You and surrender to You, without Your permission I will not take anything.”
Prabodhānanda Sarasvatīpada says, “Oh just see! The Supreme Personality Himself is falling at the feet of the gopīs and praying for their mercy. He is always acting under their guidance, but we the jīvas of this world are always acting independently, so how can we expect to receive the mercy of the Vraja-devis and to be welcomed into their company and to serve there? Rādhikā tells Kṛṣṇa, “No, no, I will not give You anything, go away at once.” But Kṛṣṇa begs Her, “Please do not reject Me, please just give Me a drop of Your affection.”
Without the permission of the Vraja-devīs we cannot taste even a drop of this vraja-bhāva and vraja-rasa. Prabodhanada Sarasvatīpāda tells us, “Even Kṛṣṇa has to beg for the mercy of Rādhikā. Even He depends on Her grace. What to speak of us, the Supreme Lord Parabrahma is begging at the feet of Rādhikā for mercy; yet we think we are great masters of others and worthy of respect. We are trying to take everything by force, but we forget that nothing can be achieved without the mercy of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas and Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa.”
visphurjitaṁ kim api gopa-vadhūṣv adarśi
sā rādhikā mayi kadāpi kṛpāṁ karotu
May Śrīmatī Rādhikā, who is the personified ocean of divine love, and the splendor of whose jewel toenails shines brightly amongst the cowherd maidens, be merciful to me. (Verse 11)
The nails of the gopīs are like jewels that shine with a powerful effulgence. If we just remember the nails of the gopīs’ feet, then the effulgence of those nails will illuminate the spiritual form of our soul. Not only this, we will be given vraja-anurāga; that love and affection brings you to Vraja-bhūmi and will allow you entrance there.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī instructed Parīkṣit Mahārāja—sthāne sthitāḥ śruti-gatāṁ tanu-vāṅ-manobhir. How can we be situated permanently, sthāne-sthitāḥ, in that place where the gopīs distribute most pure and powerful glories of Kṛṣṇa and describe His special qualities? How can we gain entrance to that place—the assembly of the gopīs—where they always speak about Kṛṣṇa? This must be our constant concern.
Therefore, we must remember the lotus feet of the gopīs or even just the nails of their feet, as this is supremely purifying and uplifting. Sthāne-sthitāḥ—we must take shelter of the Vraja-devīs’ lotus feet and be firmly fixed there, otherwise we will be spiritually poor and unable to have darśana of Vraja and Kṛṣṇa.
Nakha-candra-maṇi-cchaṭayā—the gopīs’ toenails are like jewels that illuminate the souls of those who take shelter of them. Without them we will have no light by which we can develop spiritual vision, we will remain spiritually blind in this world, lost in the darkness of illusion. Therefore Śukadeva Gosvāmī advised Parīkṣit Mahārāja to be sthāne-sthitāḥ—fixed in that one place. Be fixed at the feet of the Vraja-devīs. No one else can give us permanent shelter and happiness; only the gopīs have this power. Without the light of the Vraja-devīs’ mercy, our hearts will remain in darkness, attached to so many temporary things of this world.
Guru-pāda-padma gives us our siddha-svarūpa and siddha-praṇālī, our eternal spiritual forms, and the process to realize and attain those forms and serve with them in Vraja.
He is also an eternal mañjarī and can give us connection to the Vraja-devīs and Śrīmatī Rādhikā. We therefore take shelter of the lotus feet of Śrī Guru-pāda-padma.
śri guru-caraṇa-padma, kevala bhakati-sadma,
vando mui sāvadhāna mate
Carefully adore the lotus-like feet of Śrī Guru, which are the treasurehouse of pure bhakti.
Śrīla Gurudeva came to this world in the form of a sādhaka to instruct us and show us the path of anurāga, while in his spiritual form he is present as a mañjarī, serving Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. So when we follow the teachings that he gave us in his sādhaka’s form, we can come to one day understand his form as one of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī’s maidservants.
aṅgair iva praṇaya-lola-vilocanāyāḥ
tasyāḥ kadā nu bhavitā mayi puṇya-dṛṣṭir
When will the queen of Vṛndāvana, Śrīmatī Rādhikā, Her eyes restless and Her limbs like waves in the overflowing ocean of nectar, place Her merciful glance upon me? (Verse 12)
Kṛṣṇa takes shelter of the feet of Rādhārānī and prays to Her, saying, “From Your toenails shines an effulgence that illuminates all of Vraja and Vraja’s inhabitants. I am therefore taking shelter of You, O Rādhe. Please be merciful to Me!
The love in Your heart, saturated with anurāga, illuminates all of Vraja and enters the hearts of all the Vrajavāsīs. May that love also enter into My heart. O Rādhe! Please give Me one drop of Your mercy, one glance of affection.”
The love of the jīva is intrinsic within itself, but we misuse this love and share it with so many others, failing to offer it to Kṛṣṇa and Rādhārānī. Here Prabodhānanda Sarasvatīpāda teaches us that we must gather our love, which is scattered here and there, divided among so many other living entities, and offer it all to Rādhārānī and Kṛṣṇa. The difference between offering our love here and there and offering it all to Kṛṣṇa is like a person smelling a flower and then throwing it into the street to be trampled underfoot, and another person taking a flower and very carefully offering it to Śrī Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, who then offer it with love to their iṣṭa-devas. If we offer our love to Hari, Guru, and Vaṣṇavas, they will give us back prasāda. Prasāda gives happiness to sādhakas, bhaktas, and all living beings. When Guru and Vaiṣṇava offer something to Ṭhākurajī and then give us the resultant prasāda, their love reflects from Ṭhākurajī and gives us so much power and nectar. We must not directly accept anything for our enjoyment, otherwise it will be like poison for us, but once it is prasāda then it is like divine nectar. Śrīmatī Rādhikā is the abode of divine love, and from Her that love shines into the hearts of all the Vraja-devīs and all the Vrajavāsīs. Kṛṣṇa sees Śrīmatī Rādhikā by the light of Her love and He always prays for a drop of Her mercy.
If we want to see Kṛṣṇa then we must become purified within and without. As long as we are contaminated by duplicity and a cheating nature we cannot see Kṛṣṇa and His beauty, therefore we must take full shelter of Guru-pāda-padma and Vaiṣṇavas. They will purify our minds and hearts. It is not possible to do this by our own endeavor. When we are under their guidance they will show us Kṛṣṇa, they will give us kṛṣṇa-darśana.
When our heart is pure then naturally it will have room for the Vrajavāsīs, and Kṛṣṇa will then enter there. But as long as our heart is full of so many wicked tendencies, Kṛṣṇa and His associates will never come inside our hearts. If we want the flow of nectar—if we want the repeated waves of that rasa to come in our heart, then we must get rid of all the doubts that lurk there. We must purify ourselves of doubts toward Guru, Kṛṣṇa, Rādhārānī, and Vraja. We must respectfully and faithfully follow the examples and teachings of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, and then we will have proper respect for everyone. First we must develop faith, śraddhā, and then if we stay in sādhu-saṅga we will be able to start the process of bhajana and gradually free ourselves of anarthas. Then we can proceed on the path of bhakti and cross over all obstacles.
If we want to experience ever-fresh waves of rasa coming one after another in our hearts, then we must become free of doubts, which come from small-mindedness. Being small minded is like being a small bucket where only a little bit of water can stay. There will be no waves in a small bucket of water. If we want the river of rasa to flow into our heart then we must make room to receive it by removing all doubts and wicked tendencies. Then our heart will become like an ocean ready to receive the current of rasa that is an eternally flowing river of nectar coming from Śrī Guru and Vaiṣṇavas. We pray for that day when we will properly respect the family of God—all the Vaiṣṇavas and the Vrajavāsīs—then we will experience bhāva-taraṅga, waves of spiritual bliss.
Srila Prabhodananda Sarasvati Thakur ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the Bhaktabandhav book publication, Sri Sri Radha Rasa Sudha Nidhi. Available from [email protected] )