Here Prabodhānanda Sarasvatipāda prays to Śrīmatī Rādhikā who is an ocean of divine qualities. She has seven especially sweet qualities, just as there are seven oceans in this world. Before approaching that ocean of divine qualities, Śrīmatī Rādhikā, we are first advised to take shelter of Śrī Yamunā-devī, who is an expansion of Śrī Viśākhā-devī. She will purify us and help us to renounce all our attachments in this world. She will give us a good opportunity to take complete shelter of Śrīmatī Rādhikā. Kṛṣṇa is rasa-mūrti, the embodiment of all divine mellows, but how can we serve Him? First we must become pure, and by taking bath during brāhma-muhūrta, preferably in a holy river like Yamunā, we will become purified. If we cannot bathe directly in the Yamunā or the Gaṅgā, we can invoke these sacred rivers through mantra. In this way, we should take bath in the early morning and then in a pure state we can serve Kṛṣṇa and Rādhārānī in our minds. We will be able to meditate properly, and we will understand how to serve that rasa–mūrti Śrī Kṛṣṇa.
Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī explains how Viśākhā-devī is the śikṣā–guru of the gopīs, and that Yamunā-devī is her non-different expansion. So she will teach us how to serve Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa may come and test us, as He did in the case of Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura and Lokanātha dāsa Gosvāmī. He tests us to see if we have more affection for Him or for Rādhārānī. First He came to Lokanātha dāsa Gosvāmī, but he would not be diverted from his service to Śrīmatī, so then He went to Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura and begged from him a glass of water. He also came to Sanātana Gosvāmī in the form of Madana-mohana and wanted Sanātana Gosvāmī to always stay with Him. At first Madana-mohana lived like a mendicant with Sanātana Gosvāmī, but soon He began to arrange a palatial temple for Himself, and brought so many pujārīs, priests, and cows to serve Him. When Sanātana Gosvāmī said he was leaving to travel around Vraja as a mendicant, Madana-mohana said, “Oh! Do you not like My prasādam or My sevā?” Sanātana Gosvāmī replied, “I do not like opulence, I only like the service of Śrīmatī Rādhikā and the Vraja-devīs.”
Once Sanātana Gosvāmī completed the Madana-mohana temple, he continued to wander throughout Vraja, all the time praying for the service and darśana of Śrīmatī Rādhikā. He prayed, “O Rādhe! O Goddess of Vṛndāvana! O Lalitā-devī! O Son of Nanda! Where are you—he rādhe, vraja-devike ca lalite, he nanda-sūno kutaḥ?” Searching and praying for Rādhārānī and Her shelter, he no longer took responsibility for Madana-mohana. Why then did he sing, “Nanda-sūno-kutaḥ—where is the son of Nanda?” Why did he call out like this if he had just been staying with Madana-mohana and serving Him. He had just constructed a temple for Madana-mohana and arranged for His bhoga, but then chose to leave that place. If we look carefully, we can understand that this prayer of his is addressed to Rādhārāni and the Vraja-devīs. He says, “O Rādhārānī! O Lalitā! O Viśākhā! O Vraja-devīs, I only want to have a relationship with that Madana-mohana who is always together with Rādhārānī.”
Kṛṣṇa likes to see if the bhaktas are more attached to Him or to Rādhārānī. If a bhakta only has affection for Kṛṣṇa, then he will become dry or devoid of rasa because he has no connection to the ocean of rasa, Śrīmatī Rādhārānī. If we only have kṛṣṇa-bhakti, and no devotion to Rādhikā, we may achieve vaikuṇṭhīya-bhakti, some opulence, or the mood of Arjuna and other associates from Dvārakā or Mathurā, but we will be unable to enter the realm of mādhurya-rasa. Uddhava only had love for Kṛṣṇa, therefore Kṛṣṇa sent him to Vṛndāvana, where he took shelter of the gopīs and studied from them.
As caitya-guru, Kṛṣṇa can inspire the sādhakas in the heart to take shelter of the Vraja-devīs. As the very close friend of Uddhava, He personally told him to go to Rādhārānī and the Vraja-devīs and to learn and receive blessings from them. Kṛṣṇa will not keep us nearby Himself unless we have relationship with Śrīmatī Rādhārānī.
Bhasmāsura went to Śiva Ṭhākura and prayed to him for a boon. He performed intense austerities, and when Śiva Ṭhākura finally became pleased with him He told him to ask for whatever he liked. Bhasmāsura asked, “Please give me the boon that whenever I place my hand on someone’s head, that person’s head will explode.”
“Yes, as you like!” Śiva Ṭhākura replied.
As soon as he heard this, Bhasmasura ran towards Śiva Ṭhākura.
“What are you doing?” Śiva asked.
“I will test the boon first on you! If it works, you will be dead, and I will steal Pārvatī!”
This is the demoniac mood of the baddha-jivas. They approach Bhagavān with a desire to enjoy rather than offer service. Giving us all instruction by His example, Mahāprabhu prayed:
maj-janmanaḥ phalam idaṁ madhu-kaiṭabhāre
mat prārthanīya mad-anugraha eṣa eva
bhṛtyasya-bhṛtyam iti māṁ smara lokanātha
O Supreme Lord of all, slayer of the demons Madhu and Kaitabha! Be merciful to me and grant my prayer. Please remember me as a servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of Your servant.
Mahāprabhu came to taste this mood—the mood of a servant—and to give it to us. He also prayed:
ayi nanda-tanuja kiṅkaraṁ
patitaṁ māṁ viṣame bhavāmbudhau
kṛpayā tava pāda-paṅkaja-
Śrī Śikṣāṣṭaka 5
O Nanda-nandana, please be merciful upon me, Your eternal servant. I have fallen in the turbulent ocean of material existence as a result of my fruitive actions. Please consider me as a particle of dust affixed to Your lotus feet and accept me forever as Your bound servant.
“Please make me like a particle of dust at Your lotus feet.” Being such a particle of dust means to always remain as the humble servant of the Vrajavāsīs. When we have such a humble disposition, then Kṛṣṇa will come and give us darśana and show us the glories of Vṛndāvana. Vṛndāvana is glorious because of the power of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī. Vṛndāvana-dhāma will manifest in our hearts only when we surrender ourselves to Śrīmatī Rādhārānī and the gopīs.
Inside the Yamunā there is an island where Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa play together with the aṣṭa-sakhīs and mañjarīs; it is called Yoga-pīṭha. On this island there are many trees like kadamba, nāga-kesara, campā, ām, and so forth. These trees form circular boundaries around the outer portion of the island. In order to enter the innermost compartment of this island, the kuñja where Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa engage in their amorous pastimes, one must pass through the different gates that are positioned in these tree boundaries. Within the circles of trees, there is a 1008 petalled lotus flower, and each petal of this lotus flower is a kuñja-kuṭīra overseen by a particular gopī.
Yoga-pīṭha is in the heart of Yamunā-devī, in the same way that Rati-keli-kuīja is in the heart of Girirāja Govardhana. The hearts of Kṛṣṇa’s associates are like this. They are pastime places meant for the pleasure of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa and places where the Divine Couple are served in so many ways.
After bathing in the Yamunā during brāhma-muhūrta, we will be able to understand how Śrīmatī Rādhārānī is an ocean of love, beauty, compassion, and all divine qualities. Her divine qualities are not bound within a small area like a mere pool.
Her anurāga and divine qualities are boundless like the ocean.
Kṛṣṇa has four extra qualities that make Him super-excellent and greater than any incarnations of Viṣṇu. These are His rūpa-mādhurī, prema-mādhurī, līlā-mādhurī, and veṇu-mādhurī. Only Kṛṣṇa has these special qualities. Similarly, Śrīmatī Rādhikā has special qualities that are not present in the other gopīs or in any other goddesses. She is supremely clever, or vaidagdha. She is also most intelligent. She instructs the gopīs how to serve Kṛṣṇa and teaches them in such a way that they never become proud or independent. Rather, they become qualified and know how to hide their moods. They never leave Vraja-maṇḍala and they never leave Śrīmatī Rādhārānī. Even if Kṛṣṇa wants to talk with them and meet with them, they will not do so without the desire and instruction of Rādhārānī.
They do not act without the instruction of Rādhārānī, even if Kṛṣṇa desires something from them. They have so much love and respect for Kṛṣṇa, but they hide it. They do everything perfectly under the guidance of Rādhārānī. This is gopī-bhāva.
The gopīs have so much love and are completely full of rasa, but they keep this hidden. As a grape is filled with juice but is concealed by a thin skin, the gopīs’ love is covered or hidden.
nigama-kalpa-taror galitaṁ phalaṁ
pibata bhāgavataṁ rasam ālayaṁ
muhur aho rasikā bhuvi bhāvukāḥ
Śrīmad–Bhāgavatam is the essence of all Vedic Scriptures and the ripe fruit of the tree of Vedic knowledge. The essence of that Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the love of the gopīs, and this is contained in rāsa-pañcādhyāyī, the five chapters concerning rāsa-līlā. The gopīs know how to conceal their love and use it only for Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. They are trained by Śrīmatī Rādhārānī Herself.
Only intelligent and clever people will be able to drink the rasa of the gopīs’ love for Kṛṣṇa. Those who are not so clever will be misguided and will develop vaikuṇṭhīya-bhakti, while those who are under the guidance of rūpānuga Guru and Vaiṣṇavas will not be swayed by the opulence of heaven or any of the upper planetary systems, nor that of Vaikuṇṭha, Ayodhyā, Dvārakā, or Mathurā. They will also not follow goloka-svakīya-bhakti, or the worship of wedded Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, which is also found in a portion of Goloka and is much like the worship of Lakṣmī-Nārāyaṇa.
In eternal Vraja-dhāma, Nanda Bābā, Yaśodā Mātā, or the sakhās do not worship Kṛṣṇa in any formal or opulent method. They have the mood that He is their son or their friend. The gopīs however take love to an even higher level. They worship Kṛṣṇa at Yoga-pīṭha with their loving moods. Their secret process of worship of Kṛṣṇa is not written in śāstra. They serve and worship Kṛṣṇa with their natural and spontaneous love only.
For the rāgānuga-bhakta there is no starting or stopping of service. They will not be seen to miss maṅgala-āratī or to sleep directly after. They are engaged in aṣṭa-kālīya-līlā-smaraṇa, and at every moment of the day they serve there with spontaneous love. They are always present with Rādhārānī and Kṛṣṇa.
Pibata-rasam-ālayam—only drink this rasa of prema-sevā. If you are qualified and intelligent then you will want to drink this rasa incessantly. It is not possible to obtain this rasa or mood by following the rules and regulations of scriptures, and once you drink a drop of this rasa you will always want to take more and more. Spiritual greed will increase more and more and you will also learn how to become like a gopī—very hidden and concealed, you will hide and protect your love. You will not be like Durgā, manifesting eight arms and conquering and defeating so many people. You will not want to become a big jagat–guru, with many thousands of followers; instead you will develop the sweet and simple moods of the gopīs.
The gopīs do not act independently of Rādhārānī; they are always busily absorbed in their service under Her guidance.
They will not even follow the orders of Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Controller, if it contradicts the desire of Rādhārānī. So if we want to develop that mood of the gopīs and enter Vraja, we must be under anugatya of the anurāgi-bhaktas, then we will not have any time to waste, and will not try to fulfill the desires of ordinary people.
In his later pastimes, Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja would be sitting in his room apparently not doing anything. His sevakas would come and offer him some prasāda and say, “Please take something,” but he would say, “No, I have no time. I am so busy.”
His sevaka said, “O Guru Mahārāja, please accept something to maintain your body.”
“What can I do? My Guru Mahārāja has given me so much sevā for Ṭhākurānī. Do you want me to neglect that sevā and instead serve my body? I have no time.”
When they again and again requested him to eat something, then he began to weep like a child. They would say, “Please don’t cry, please take just a little bit.” They would try to give him some prasāda with a spoon but he would not open his mouth to eat.
He said, “You want me to eat, but you are not my Guru Mahārāja! He will be disturbed. He has given me so much service. If I neglect my sevā, it will displease Ṭhākurānī.” He would always call Rādhārānī ‘Ṭhākurānī.’
How can ordinary people understand this behavior? Śrīla Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja was always internally engaged in his service to Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. When his sevakas saw him externally sitting in his room alone, apparently doing nothing and yet saying that he was so busy, some thought he had become mentally weak. But really he is supremely intelligent and eternally engaged in the service of Ṭhākurānī. He therefore would not want to waste time in external affairs. He later stopped speaking entirely. For almost two years, he would not speak to anyone, only if he met with Śrīla Gurudeva or myself would he speak.
He told me, “Please take me to Govardhana. I will stay there and live in a straw hut. I will beg from the Vrajavāsīs and daily do parikramā. There I will be peacefully absorbed in my sevā. I do not want to stay here.”
Why did he speak like this? Those who are rāgānugā–bhaktas do not like aiśvarya. Where any aiśvarya mood develops, they will not be happy and they will not speak with people who have an opulent mood, instead they will always endeavor to be with anurāgi-jana. If we want to taste this vraja-rasa then we must give up all desires for opulence as well as for following the rules and etiquette of this world.
Kṛṣṇa told Uddhava:
ājñāyaivaṁ guṇān doṣān mayādiṣṭān api svakān
dharmān santyajya yaḥ sarvān māṁ bhajeta sa tu sattamaḥ
Those who render service unto Me, having abandoned all types of dharma, and having understood the inherent positive and negative aspects of the prescribed duties instructed by Me in the Vedas, are counted among the best of sādhus.
Kṛṣṇa says here that we should give up all the external rules and regulations that He Himself detailed in scripture and should develop one-pointed love for Him.
Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī writes in his Mahaḥ-śikṣā:
na dharmaṁ nādharmaṁ śruti-gaṇa-niruktaṁ kila kuru
vraje rādhā-kṛṣṇa-pracura-paricaryām iha tanu
“Do not follow dharma or adharma as mentioned in the Śrutis and Smṛtis. Instead just follow the gopīs and Śrīmatī Rādhārānī.”
The gopīs are very clever. They are not cheaters, but they are tricky. General people say, “One should be straightforward, this is favorable to bhakti,” but they are really cheaters themselves. They have many desires keeping them away from directly serving Śrīmatī Rādhikā. They say something, think something else, and do something else, but the Vraja-devīs are not like this. They are thoroughly absorbed in rādhā-rasa and syāma–rasa. Only for the pleasure of Kṛṣṇa and with the permission of Rādhārānī do they do anything. They do not consider what someone else may want. They concentrate on what Rādhārānī wants and how She wants them to serve and please Kṛṣṇa. Without Rādhārānī’s instructions, they will not do anything. This is their supreme intelligence.
We can develop this mood by taking shelter of Yamunā-devī, and remembering Viśākhā-devī, then we can gradually develop a fraction of the intelligence that Śrīmatī Rādhārānī has. That intelligence is not present in anyone else. Only the followers of the gopīs can receive a fraction of this pure intelligence. Once we have developed a fraction of this vaidagdha-sindhu, the nectar ocean of pure intelligence coming from Śrīmatī Rādhārānī and Her followers, then we can achieve a drop from the anurāga-sindhu, the ocean of the highest form of love. If we do not receive spiritual intelligence, then anurāga will not fill our heart. Our heart will be filled instead with virāga or hateful thoughts.
Anurāga means incessant love for Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. If we follow anyone other than the Vraja-devīs and their followers—the Guru-varga—then there is no guarantee whether we will develop anurāga or virago—love or hatred. This vraja-anurāga is not attainable by the followers of vaikuṇṭha-bhakti or of other rasas.
Once you develop this anurāga–rasa–sindhu, the flow of enthusiasm and service will be permanent. Your service will not stop after one or two days. That kind of service is done with anurāga. Anurāga means incessant love. We see that some disciples serve and worship their Gurudeva for a few days and then forsake him and stop serving; that is not anurāga. Such starting and stopping, or halting of service, is not based on anurāga, rather it is due to an enjoying mentality. The Vrajavāsīs are not bhogīs, enjoyers; they are all yogīs, always connected to Kṛṣṇa and His service. They are completely attached to Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa and never do anything unrelated to Them.
The Vrajavāsīs serve without desiring anything in return. When they offered everything they possessed to Girirāja Govardhana they were not thinking, “O Girirāja! Give me something in return.” In this world, people offer something to Kṛṣṇa and then wait to get it back. This is not pure bhakti. This is not the mood of the Vrajavāsīs.
Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s next special quality is Her vātsalya-rasa–sindhu. She is a nectarean ocean of care and compassion, vātsalya-rasa. She is always taking care of others. She always cares for those who come to Vṛndāvana, whether they are animals or beggars.
Nowadays people say, “Oh! You are from that other guru, you cannot stay in this temple.” Otherwise, they say, “You are not serving enough, get out of here! This temple is my property!” They do not show compassion for even an ant, mosquito, or worm. This proud and sentimental attitude is not the nature of vātsalya-rasa. Śrīmatī welcomes everyone who comes to Vraja-maṇḍala. She is an ocean of vātsalya-rasa. Because of Śrīmatī’s vātsalya-rasa–sindhu, ocean of nectarful compassion, no one leaves Vṛndāvana upon once coming. They feel so much happiness in Vṛndāvana, in the compassionate care of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī, that they never even consider leaving.
Śrīmatī Rādhārānī is an ocean of affectionate mercy, ati-snigdha-kṛpā-sindhu, and therefore Her followers are also very affectionate and merciful. When people first come to the path of bhajana they have so many desires and bad habits. Guru and Vaiṣṇavas mercifully help them progress. They are always tolerant and are never disturbed by the wrongdoings of neophytes. They are always ready to listen and care for others. Gradually Guru and Vaiṣṇavas change the nature of conditioned souls by their affectionate dealings with them. Once the jīvas are trained properly, Gurudeva sends them to Sevā-kuñja, where they can train further under the guidance of the Vraja-devīs and become fully capable to serve Kṛṣṇa.
We do not find this ati-snigdha-krpa-sindhu anywhere else.
If somebody disobeys Lord Rāma, then Hanumān, unable to tolerate it, will immediately be ready to beat that person. But Guru and Vaiṣṇavas are so tolerant that even if someone is critical or offensive, they do not take this into account and always remain affectionate and helpful. Even if new sādhakas cannot follow all the regulations and etiquette, and cause disturbances when they first come to the maṭha, still Guru and Vaiṣṇavas tolerate and give them affection. They even praise them, knowing that they need respect and encouragement. By their affectionate mercy they gradually transform the fallen nature of the conditioned souls and prepare them to directly serve Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa said that even higher than following the rules and regulations that He has given in scriptures is to give them up and directly serve Him under the guidance of His beloveds. So we must be under the guidance of a rasika–guru and the rasika–vaiṣṇavas. We can thus progress to the platform of spontaneous love.
When spiritual power comes within our hearts, ānanda, spiritual bliss, will illuminate our existence. The power of that ānanda will shine from us and attract others. They will also be affected by that power and bliss. Other living beings become attracted to that ānanda as parrots and other birds are attracted to ripe fruits and bees are attracted to blossoming flowers. Anyone who is connected to Śrīmatī Rādhikā and Her mañjarīs becomes like this. This is by the power of Rādhārānī. She is lāvaṇya–sindhu—an ocean of beauty, grace, and the special quality which is present in fresh youth.
Lāvaṇya is a special quality like the milk of a cow, the fruits of a tree, or the flower of a creeper. It is that special factor which makes something wonderful, unique, and attractive. Lāvaṇya is not just ordinary beauty. It is the love in the heart. When people learn to direct their love solely to Kṛṣṇa and not misplace or distribute it here and there, then that love becomes fully powerful and sweet, like a ripe fruit. If a person instead spreads his love to meet the many sense objects of this mundane world then he will be like a fruit with no juice, or a plant bereft of fruits, leaves, or flowers. It is therefore greatly dangerous for unqualified people to take the position of guru. Unqualified gurus give their love away to conditioned souls and become attached to them and fallen with them. They do not remain one-pointed to Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa.
Rainclouds have lāvaṇya. They are full of rasa, or water, and shine with electricity. The sun collects water from the oceans, rivers, and lakes and this becomes the lāvaṇya of the clouds. Water, which nourishes all life, is the lāvaṇya of the clouds.
When the bhaktas are with Kṛṣṇa they feel power as a result of His śakti. They receive all good qualities, but these qualities are not their own, they are nothing but the mercy of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī.
Similar to a rainbow, the bhaktas’ hearts become exceedingly beautiful when they come in contact with Svarūpa-śakti, Śrīmatī Rādhikā. Possessing this love of the Divine Potency, they attract the people around toward them. However, the souls they attract will not be attracted to the wielder of that love, they will be attracted to the love itself and its source. If we are really fixed in our prema for Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, then we will not be attracted or attached to ordinary living beings, nor will they become attracted to us and make us entangled.
Now we will hear about Rādhārānī’s amṛta-chavi-rūpa-sindhu, or the nectar of Her splendorous form. One meaning of the word ‘chavi’ is ‘splendor.’ Another meaning is ‘picture.’ The conditioned soul naturally takes many pictures with eyes throughout the day. Then when he sleeps at night all these pictures pass through his mind like a reel of film. If a person is always serving Guru, Vaiṣṇavas, and Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa then when he sleeps he will see in his minds’ eye the chavi, or splendid form of the Divine Couple. He will see Rādhā Ramaṇa-bihari, Madana-mohana, Rūpa Mañjarī, Nayana-maṇi Mañjarī, and others. Their forms will manifest before his eyes when he meditates.
If we desire to see the ‘amṛta-chavi,’ that picture full of love—or that form which is so splendorous—then we have to engage in proper bhajana. If we do not do so, our minds will remain attached to material forms. One thing is mṛta–chavi and the other is amṛta-chavi. One causes death and the other gives eternal life. Mṛta–chavi is a form or picture that causes us to decrease our lifespan and amṛta-chavi gives the nectar of immortality. If we are always looking at and thinking of the material forms, which are displayed in the world’s newspapers, magazines, and other modes of media, then our lifespan will decrease and our energy spoiled. On the other hand, if we collect and store in our consciousness amrta–chavi, beautiful spiritual forms, then they will bestow eternal life.
When we have received connection to the six oceans of Rādhārānī’s divine qualities, then at last we will achieve entrance in to the ‘keli-sindhu’ or ocean of Her divine amorous pastimes with Kṛṣṇa. Once we get a taste of that necturful ocean, we will no longer have any material tastes. We will become like Vṛtrāsura, who prayed:
na nāka-pṛeṣṭhaṁ na ca pārameṣṭhyaṁ
na sārva-bhaumaṁ na rasādhipatyam
na yoga-siddhīr apunar-bhavaṁ vā
samañjasa tvā virahayya kāṅkṣe
“I do not want sovereignty over this earth or any material enjoyment, nor do I want to become the ruler of heaven or any higher planetary systems. All I want is to always be engaged in your service, birth after birth.”
Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura sings:
kīṭa janma hau yathā tūyā dāsa
bahirmukha brahma-janme nāhi āśa
“O Prabhu! Please may I take birth as Your servant, birth after birth. In the association of Your devotees I can taste the nectar of Your glories, hear about Your pastimes, and remember Your divine qualities.”
Śrīmatī Rādhikā is endowed with these seven oceans of divine qualities. We pray, “When will She bring me into Her shelter? When will She appear in My heart?”
Prabodhānanda Sarasvatīpāda teaches us these prayers.
He received the mercy of Mahāprabhu and therefore he understands the Lord’s heart and reveals it to us. Prabodhānanda Sarasvatīpāda wrote these verses and then taught them to Hitahari Vamsa, the disciple of Gopāla Bhatta Gosvāmī. He also taught them to other residents of Vraja. These verses are very famous in Vṛndāvana. If anyone takes shelter of them that person will be able to understand Mahāprabhu and our Gauḍīya line.
Srila Prabodananda Sarasvati Thakur ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Sri Sri Radha Rasa Sudha Nidhi”. Available from: [email protected] )