Aug 102020
 

We read from Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto Ten, Chapter Two: “Prayers by the Demigods for Lord Krsna in the Womb.”

TEXT 18

tato jagan-mangalam acyutamsam
  samahitam sura-sutena devi
dadhara sarvatmakam atma-bhutam
  kastha yathananda-karam manastah

SYNONYMS

tatah—thereafter; jagat-mangalam—auspiciousness for all living entities in all the universes of the creation; acyuta-amsam—the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is never bereft of the six opulences, all of which are present in all His plenary expansions; samahitam—fully transferred; sura-sutena—by Vasudeva, the son of Surasena; devi—Devaki-devi; dadhara—carried; sarva-atmakam—the Supreme Soul of everyone; atma-bhutam—the cause of all causes; kastha—the east; yatha—just as; ananda-karam—the blissful (moon); manastah—being placed within the mind.

TRANSLATION

Thereafter, accompanied by plenary expansions, the fully opulent Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is all-auspicious for the entire universe, was transferred from the mind of Vasudeva to the mind of Devaki. Devaki, having thus been initiated by Vasudeva, became beautiful by carrying Lord Krsna, the original consciousness for everyone, the cause of all causes, within the core of her heart, just as the east becomes beautiful by carrying the rising moon.

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

As indicated here by the word manastah, the Supreme Personality of Godhead was transferred from the core of Vasudeva’s mind or heart to the core of the heart of Devaki. We should note carefully that the Lord was transferred to Devaki not by the ordinary way for a human being, but by diksa, initiation. Thus the importance of initiation is mentioned here. Unless one is initiated by the right person, who always carries within his heart the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one cannot acquire the power to carry the Supreme Godhead within the core of one’s own heart.

The word acyutamsam is used because the Supreme Personality of Godhead is sad-aisvarya-purna, full in the opulences of wealth, strength, fame, knowledge, beauty, and renunciation. The Supreme Godhead is never separated from His personal opulences. As stated in the Brahma-samhita (5.39), ramadi-murtisu kala-niyamena tisthan: the Lord is always situated with all His plenary expansions, such as Rama, Nrsimha, and Varaha. Therefore the word acyutamsam is specifically used here, signifying that the Lord is always present with His plenary expansions and opulences. There is no need to think of the Lord artificially as yogis do. Dhyanavasthita-tad-gatena manasa pasyanti yam yoginah (Srimad-Bhagavatam 12.13.1). Yogis meditate upon the Supreme Person within the mind. For a devotee, however, the Lord is present, and His presence need only be awakened through initiation by a bona fide spiritual master. The Lord did not need to live within the womb of Devaki, for His presence within the core of her heart was sufficient to carry Him. One is here forbidden to think that Krsna was begotten by Vasudeva within the womb of Devaki and that she carried the child within her womb.

When Vasudeva was sustaining the form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead within his heart, he appeared just like the glowing sun, whose shining rays are always unbearable and scorching to the common man. The form of the Lord situated in the pure, unalloyed heart of Vasudeva is not different from the original form of Krsna. The appearance of the form of Krsna anywhere, and specifically within the heart, is called dhama. Dhama refers not only to Krsna’s form, but to His name, His form, His quality, and His paraphernalia. Everything becomes manifest simultaneously.

Thus the eternal form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead with full potencies was transferred from the mind of Vasudeva to the mind of Devaki, exactly as the setting sun’s rays are transferred to the full moon rising in the east.

Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, entered the body of Devaki from the body of Vasudeva. He was beyond the conditions of the ordinary living entity. When Krsna is there, it is to be understood that all His plenary expansions, such as Narayana, and incarnations like Lord Nrsimha and Varaha, are with Him, and they are not subject to the conditions of material existence. In this way, Devaki became the residence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is one without a second and the cause of all creation. Devaki became the residence of the Absolute Truth, but because she was within the house of Kamsa, she looked just like a suppressed fire, or like misused education. When fire is covered by the walls of a pot or is kept in a jug, the illuminating rays of the fire cannot be very much appreciated. Similarly, misused knowledge, which does not benefit the people in general, is not very much appreciated. So Devaki was kept within the prison walls of Kamsa’s palace, and no one could see her transcendental beauty, which resulted from her conceiving the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Commenting upon this verse, Sri Viraraghava Acarya writes, vasudeva-devaki jatharayor hrdayayor bhagavatah sambandhah. The Supreme Lord’s entrance into the womb of Devaki from the heart of Vasudeva was a heart-to-heart relationship.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

We have gathered here at the lotus feet of Lord Krishna to remember and celebrate His appearance in this world. According to Vedic literature, Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead (krsnas tu bhagavan svayam). He is the Absolute Truth, the origin of all that exists. And He is realized in three features, nondual (advaya), as explained in Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.11):

vadanti tat tattva-vidas
  tattvam yaj jnanam advayam
brahmeti paramatmeti
  bhagavan iti sabdyate

“Learned transcendentalists who know the Absolute Truth call this nondual substance Brahman, Paramatma, or Bhagavan.”

Brahman is the impersonal effulgence that emanates from the transcendental form of the Lord; Paramatma is the localized feature of the Lord, within the heart; and Bhagavan is the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krishna Himself, full in six opulences.

The form of Krishna is not material. Our bodies are material, distinct from the soul, which is spiritual. The Bhagavad-gita (2.13) explains,

dehino ’smin yatha dehe
  kaumaram yauvanam jara
tatha dehantara-praptir
  dhiras tatra na muhyati

“As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change.” The soul is a nonphysical, nonchemical particle of spiritual energy, and it is the soul that animates the body. As long as the soul is in the body, we say the body is alive. Actually, the body is never alive; the body is just a machine. But it appears to be alive when the soul is present to animate it. And when the soul leaves the body, the body has no capacity to act, to function, and then we say that the body is dead. In conditioned beings, such as us, there is a distinction between the body, which is made of material energy, and the soul, which is composed of spiritual energy. But in the case of Krishna, there is no difference between His body and soul. Being absolute, His body and He are the same. In our case, there is a difference between us and the body, because our real identity is the soul. If someone’s father passes away, he or she will cry, “Oh, my father has left. My father is gone.” Although the body of the father is there, why do we say, “My father has gone”? Intuitively we know, especially at a time like death, that the body lying there in the room is not the person. The body is just a bag of chemicals. The real person is the soul who has left the body, and so the children and other relatives and friends cry, “Oh, he’s gone,” because he is the soul, not the body.

But in the case of Krishna, He and His body are not different because He is absolute. There is no difference between His inside and His outside. He is completely spiritual. The Brahma-samhita says, isvarah paramah krsnah sac-cid-ananda-vigrahah: “Krishna is the Supreme Godhead. He has an eternal, blissful spiritual body.” Anadir adir govindah sarva-karana-karanam: “He is the origin of all, but He Himself has no origin. He is the prime cause of all causes.” That is Krishna.

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Aug 022020
 

Today is the appearance day of Lord Balarama, the Personality of Godhead who is the first expansion of Lord Krishna, the original Personality of Godhead. As Krishna states in the Bhagavad-gita (4.7):

yada yada hi dharmasya
  glanir bhavati bharata
abhyutthanam adharmasya
  tadatmanam srjamy aham

“Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself.” Lord Krishna says, srjamy aham: “I manifest Myself.” He doesn’t take birth like an ordinary human being, but He manifests Himself in His original spiritual form.

For what purpose?

paritranaya sadhunam
  vinasaya ca duskrtam
dharma-samsthapanarthaya
  sambhavami yuge yuge

“To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I Myself appear, millennium after millennium.” (Gita 4.8) He manifests Himself to protect the devotees, annihilate the demons, and reestablish the principles of religion.

In every sphere of activity in the material world there is deterioration; everything in the material world declines. A new house, for example, is very nice, but it gradually deteriorates, and eventually, when too old, it has to be rebuilt. In the same way, our performance of spiritual duties deteriorates, whether we are individuals, families, communities, or a society. And so the Lord comes repeatedly to reestablish religious practice. He appears in order to establish religious principles (dharma), but over time religious practice declines, and so He manifests Himself again and again. We all know how prone we are to allow our practice to deteriorate. Thus, on auspicious occasions like today, Lord Balarama’s appearance day, we can pray to the Lord to manifest Himself and help us to become reestablished in our religious principles and practice.

I shall read from Srimad-Bhagavatam specifically about the appearance of Lord Balarama. What Lord Krishna said in the two verses quoted from the Bhagavad-gita is explained elaborately in Srimad-Bhagavatam, wherein it is stated that when the earth was overburdened by demonic rulers who had amassed large military forces armed with deadly weapons to wage war for personal gain, Lord Brahma, the chief of the demigods in this universe, approached the shore of the ocean of milk. There, accompanied by Lord Shiva and other celestial beings, he worshipped Lord Vishnu, the supreme God of all gods. In response, Lord Vishnu imparted some instructions, which Lord Brahma in turn conveyed to the demigods. He told them that very soon the Lord would appear on earth to diminish the burden of the world and that the demigods, to assist Him, should take birth in the Yadu dynasty. Lord Brahma further stated that Lord Balarama, who is also known as Sankarsana, would precede the Lord and serve Him in every respect:

vasudeva-kalanantah
  sahasra-vadanah svarat
agrato bhavita devo
  hareh priya-cikirsaya

“The foremost manifestation of Krsna is Sankarsana, who is known as Ananta. He is the origin of all incarnations within this material world. Previous to the appearance of Lord Krsna, this original Sankarsana will appear as Baladeva, just to please the Supreme Lord Krsna in His transcendental pastimes.” (SB 10.1.24)

Lord Brahma told them as well that Yogamaya, the personal potency of the Lord, would also appear and assist the Lord in His mission.

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Aug 022020
 

Giriraj Swami read and spoke from Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.7.26 during a Zoom conference with ISKCON Malaga.

Krishna and Balarama by Ramdasa Abhiramdasa

“This verse is especially describing the appearance of Lord Krishna and His immediate expansion, Lord Baladeva. Both Lord Krishna and Lord Baladeva are one Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Lord is omnipotent, and He expands Himself in innumerable forms and energies, and the whole unit is known as the one Supreme Brahman. Such extensions of the Lord are divided into two divisions, namely personal and differential. The personal expansions are called the vishnu-tattvas, and the differential expansions are called the jiva-tattvas. And in such expansional activity, Lord Baladeva is the first personal expansion of Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.7.26 purport

The Appearance Day of Lord Balarama (Right click to download)

Jul 302020
 

We read from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, Chapter 19:

TEXT 1

vrndavaniyam rasa-keli-vartam
kalena luptam nija-saktim utkah
sancarya rupe vyatanot punah sa
prabhur vidhau prag iva loka-srstim

TRANSLATION

Before the creation of this cosmic manifestation, the Lord enlightened the heart of Lord Brahma with the details of the creation and manifested the Vedic knowledge. In exactly the same way, the Lord, being anxious to revive the Vrndavana pastimes of Lord Krsna, impregnated the heart of Rupa Gosvami with spiritual potency. By this potency, Srila Rupa Gosvami could revive the activities of Krsna in Vrndavana, activities almost lost to memory. In this way, He spread Krsna consciousness throughout the world.

TEXT 2

jaya jaya sri-caitanya jaya nityananda
jayadvaita-candra jaya gaura-bhakta-vrnda

TRANSLATION

All glories to Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu! All glories to Lord Nityananda! All glories to Advaitacandra! And all glories to all the devotees of the Lord!

TEXT 114

loka-bhida-bhaye prabhu ‘dasasvamedhe’ yana
rupa-gosanire siksa kara’na sakti sancariya

TRANSLATION

Due to the great crowds in Prayaga, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu went to a place called Dasasvamedha-ghata. It was there that the Lord instructed Sri Rupa Gosvami and empowered him in the philosophy of devotional service.

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

Parasya saktir vividhaiva sruyate. The Supreme Lord has multipotencies, which the Lord bestows on His fortunate devotees. The Lord has a special potency by which He spreads the Krsna consciousness movement. This is explained in the Caitanya-caritamrta (Antya 7.11): kali-kalera dharma-krsna-nama-sankirtana/ krsna-sakti vina nahe tara pravartana. “One cannot spread the holy name of Krsna without being specifically empowered by Lord Krsna.” A devotee who receives this power from the Lord must be considered very fortunate. The Krsna consciousness movement is spreading to enlighten people about their real position, their original relationship with Krsna. One requires Krsna’s special power in order to be able to do this. People forget their relationship with Krsna and work under the spell of maya life after life, transmigrating from one body to another. This is the process of material existence. The Supreme Lord Sri Krsna personally descends to teach people that their position in the material world is a mistaken one. The Lord again comes as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to induce people to take to Krsna consciousness. The Lord also empowers a special devotee to teach people their constitutional position.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

Lord Chaitanya met Srila Rupa Gosvami at Prayaga. Because of the great crowds that surrounded Lord Chaitanya, He took Rupa Gosvami to a secluded place called Dasasvamedha-ghata. In 1971, when Srila Prabhupada traveled to Allahabad for the Ardha-kumbha-mela, he also visited Dasasvamedha-ghata with his disciples. Lord Chaitanya empowered Srila Rupa Gosvami with his potency to revive Krishna’s pastimes in Vrindavan and thus spread Krishna consciousness. Only one who is empowered with the potency of the Lord, by the mercy of the Lord, can actually spread Krishna consciousness all over the world. Although Rupa Gosvami lived simply in Vrindavan, wearing a loincloth and sleeping one night under one tree and the next night under another, he wrote books that for generations have served to enlighten devotees all over the world. Even now we are reading The Nectar of Devotion, which is a summary study of his Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, and The Nectar of Instruction, which is his Upadesamrta. And we are benefiting both from the example Srila Rupa Gosvami set when he lived in Vrindavan and from the books he wrote.

TEXT 115

krsnatattva-bhaktitattva-rasatattva-pranta
saba sikhaila prabhu bhagavata-siddhanta

TRANSLATION

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu taught Srila Rupa Gosvami the ultimate limit of the truth about Lord Krsna, the truth about devotional service, and the truth about transcendental mellows, culminating in conjugal love between Radha and Krsna. Finally He told Rupa Gosvami about the ultimate conclusions of Srimad-Bhagavatam.

COMMENT

In His talks with Rupa Gosvami, Lord Chaitanya began with the most basic knowledge and proceeded gradually to the highest. Rupa Gosvami begins Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu a little after Lord Chaitanya began, with pure devotional service, and he ends with the highest perfection of pure devotional service, madhurya-rasa. Although he mentions madhurya-rasa as one of the five principal mellows in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, he describes it elaborately in another book, Ujjvala-nilamani.

TEXT 116

ramananda-pase yata siddhanta sunila
rupe krpa kari’ taha saba sancarila

TRANSLATION

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu taught Rupa Gosvami all the conclusions He had heard from Ramananda Raya and duly empowered him so that he could understand them.

TEXT 117

sri-rupa-hrdaye prabhu sakti sancarila
sarva-tattva-nirupane ‘pravina’ karila

TRANSLATION

By entering the heart of Rupa Gosvami, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu empowered him to ascertain properly the conclusions of all truths. He made him an experienced devotee whose decisions correctly agreed with the verdicts of the disciplic succession. Thus Sri Rupa Gosvami was personally empowered by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

PURPORT

The principles of devotional service are only apparently under the jurisdiction of material activity. To be rightly guided, one must be personally guided by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. This was the case with Srila Rupa Gosvami, Sanatana Gosvami and other acaryas.

COMMENT

At the beginning of the chapter Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami compares Lord Chaitanya’s empowering Rupa Gosvami to Lord Krishna’s empowering Lord Brahma with the Vedic knowledge. Because Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, He could start the disciplic succession, and He chose Lord Brahma, the first living entity in the universe, to be His first disciple. Similarly, Lord Chaitanya is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and He has the authority to begin a disciplic succession, and He chose various disciples, such as Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami, to receive knowledge directly from Him. He entered their hearts and empowered them to understand His words and thoughts and to communicate them to others. Even Lord Krishna, to establish the principle of disciplic succession, accepted a spiritual master, Sandipani Muni, and Lord Chaitanya also accepted a spiritual master in the Madhva-sampradaya, Isvara Puri. But Lord Chaitanya’s teaching, acintya-bheda-bheda tattva, “inconceivable simultaneous oneness and difference,” is unique. His philosophy goes beyond the other disciplic successions and, as our acharyas explain, includes significant elements from all four disciplic successions.

TEXT 118

sivananda-senera putra ‘kavi-karnapura’
‘rupera milana’ sva-granthe likhiyachena pracura

TRANSLATION

In his book Caitanya-candrodaya, Kavi-karnapura, the son of Sivananda Sena, has elaborately described the meeting between Sri Rupa Gosvami and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

TEXT 119

kalena vrndavana-keli-varta
lupteti tam khyapayitum visisya
krpamrtenabhisiseca devas
tatraiva rupam ca sanatanam ca

TRANSLATION

“In the course of time, the transcendental news of Krsna’s pastimes in Vrndavana was almost lost. To enunciate explicitly those transcendental pastimes, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu empowered Srila Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami with the nectar of His mercy to carry out this work in Vrndavana.”

PURPORT

This verse and the following two verses are from Act Nine (38, 29, 30) of the Caitanya-candrodaya, by Sri Kavi-karnapura.

COMMENT

Srila Prabhupada says that the transcendental “news” of Krishna’s pastimes in Vrindavan was almost lost. Once, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura decided to publish a daily newspaper in Bengal, and the printer questioned whether he had enough news to publish every day. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura replied that he had enough news from the spiritual world to publish a newspaper every second but that unfortunately there were no customers.

TEXT 120

yah prag eva priya-guna-ganair gadha-baddho ’pi mukto
gehadhyasad rasa iva paro murta evapy amurtah
premalapair drdhatara-parisvanga-rangaih prayage
tam sri-rupam samam anupamenanujagraha devah

TRANSLATION

“From the very beginning, Srila Rupa Gosvami was deeply attracted by the transcendental qualities of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Thus he was permanently relieved from family life. Srila Rupa Gosvami and his younger brother, Vallabha, were blessed by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Although the Lord was transcendentally situated in His transcendental eternal form, at Prayaga He told Rupa Gosvami about transcendental ecstatic love of Krsna. The Lord then embraced him very fondly and bestowed all His mercy upon him.”

TEXT 121

priya-svarupe dayita-svarupe
prema-svarupe sahajabhirupe
nijanurupe prabhur eka-rupe
tatana rupe sva-vilasa-rupe

TRANSLATION

“Indeed, Srila Rupa Gosvami, whose dear friend was Svarupa Damodara, was the exact replica of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and he was very, very dear to the Lord. Being the embodiment of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s ecstatic love, Rupa Gosvami was naturally very beautiful. He very carefully followed the principles enunciated by the Lord, and he was a competent person to explain properly the pastimes of Lord Krsna. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu expanded His mercy to Srila Rupa Gosvami just so he could render service by writing transcendental literatures.”

TEXT 122–131

The characteristics of Srila Rupa Gosvami have thus been described in various places by the poet Kavi-karnapura. An account has also been given of how Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu bestowed His causeless mercy upon Srila Rupa Gosvami and Srila Sanatana Gosvami.

Srila Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami were the objects of love and honor for all the great stalwart devotees of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

If someone returned to his country after seeing Vrndavana, the associates of the Lord would ask him questions.

They would ask those returning from Vrndavana, “How are Rupa and Sanatana doing in Vrndavana? What are their activities in the renounced order? How do they manage to eat?” These were the questions asked.

The Lord’s associates would also ask, “How is it that Rupa and Sanatana are engaging in devotional service twenty-four hours daily?” At that time the person who had returned from Vrndavana would praise Srila Rupa and Sanatana Gosvamis.

“The brothers actually have no fixed residence. They reside beneath trees—one night under one tree and the next night under another.

“Srila Rupa and Sanatana Gosvami beg a little food from the houses of brahmanas. Giving up all kinds of material enjoyment, they take only some dry bread and fried chickpeas.

“They carry only waterpots, and they wear torn quilts. They always chant the holy names of Krsna and discuss His pastimes. In great jubilation, they also dance.

“They engage almost twenty-four hours daily in rendering service to the Lord. They usually sleep only an hour and a half, and some days, when they continuously chant the Lord’s holy name, they do not sleep at all.

“Sometimes they write transcendental literatures about devotional service, and sometimes they hear about Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and spend their time thinking about the Lord.”

TEXT 132

ei-katha suni’ mahantera maha-sukha haya
caitanyera krpa yanhe, tanhe ki vismaya?

TRANSLATION

When the personal associates of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu would hear of the activities of Rupa and Sanatana Gosvamis, they would say, “What is wonderful for a person who has been granted the Lord’s mercy?”

PURPORT

Srila Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami had no fixed residence. They stayed beneath a tree for one day only and wrote huge volumes of transcendental literature. They not only wrote books but chanted, danced, discussed Krsna, and remembered Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s pastimes. Thus they executed devotional service.

In Vrndavana there are prakrta-sahajiyas who say that writing books or even touching books is taboo. For them, devotional service means being relieved from these activities. Whenever they are asked to hear a recitation of Vedic literature, they refuse, saying, “What business do we have reading or hearing transcendental literatures? They are meant for neophytes.”

COMMENT

When Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura went to Radha-kunda, the babajis were expecting that he would speak on rasa-tattva. Instead, he spoke on the Upanishads, because he knew that so many were prematurely imitating advanced devotees or pretending to be advanced devotees. And Srila Prabhupada said that in order of advancement, Sri Isopanisad comes first, then Bhagavad-gita, then The Nectar of Devotion, then Srimad-Bhagavatam, and then Sri Caitanya-caritamrta.

PURPORT (continued)

They pose themselves as too elevated to exert energy for reading, writing, and hearing. However, pure devotees under the guidance of Srila Rupa Gosvami reject this sahajiya philosophy. It is certainly not good to write literature for money or reputation, but to write books and publish them for the enlightenment of the general populace is real service to the Lord. That was Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati’s opinion, and he specifically told his disciples to write books. He actually preferred to publish books rather than establish temples. Temple construction is meant for the general populace and neophyte devotees, but the business of advanced and empowered devotees is to write books, publish them, and distribute them widely. According to Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, distributing literature is like playing on a great mrdanga. Consequently we always request members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness to publish as many books as possible and distribute them widely throughout the world. By thus following in the footsteps of Srila Rupa Gosvami, one can become a rupanuga devotee.

COMMENT

It is the goal of devotees in the line of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Srila Rupa Gosvami to be rupanuga devotees, followers of Rupa Gosvami. In his Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Rupa Gosvami has described all categories of devotional service: sadhana-bhakti, bhava-bhakti, and prema-bhakti. And within each category, there are two divisions: vaidhi and raganuga. Srila Rupa Gosvami has composed three very important verses about the practice of raganuga-bhakti, which are also quoted in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta. One reads,

seva sadhaka-rupena
siddha-rupena catra hi
tad-bhava-lipsuna karya
vraja-lokanusaratah

“The advanced devotee who is inclined to spontaneous loving service should follow the activities of a particular associate of Krsna’s in Vrndavana. He should execute service externally as a regulative devotee as well as internally from his self-realized position. Thus he should perform devotional service both externally and internally.” (Brs 1.2.295, quoted as Cc Madhya 22.258)

Externally one engages in devotional service as a sadhaka, a practicing devotee, and internally one engages in service in his perfected spiritual body. Followers of Rupa Gosvami, such as Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, have explained that externally we follow Rupa Gosvami and our spiritual master as they were, and internally we follow Sri Rupa in his eternal spiritual form as Rupa-manjari.

But it is easy to misunderstand and misrepresent the instructions of Srila Rupa Gosvami, and in Vrindavan there are many sahajiyas who do that, though they claim to be Sri Rupa’s followers. They try to follow Rupa-manjari and other associates of Sri Sri Radha-Krishna with their physical bodies. They do not follow the external behavior of Rupa Gosvami and the Gaudiya Vaishnava acharyas, but they imitate Rupa-manjari and other internal associates of Radha and Krishna. For example, in krsna-lila the residents of Vrindavan do not observe Ekadasi. But Rupa Gosvami, with reference to authoritative scriptures, has instructed in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu that we must observe Ekadasi, and Lord Chaitanya Himself personally observed Ekadasi. But sahajiyas consider themselves to be vraja-vasis like Krishna’s associates in krsna-lila—or they want to imitate the vraja-vasi associates of Krishna—so they do not observe Ekadasi. But, following the verses of Srila Rupa Gosvami, Srila Prabhupada explains very clearly in The Nectar of Devotion that externally one continues to follow the regulative principles just like a neophyte devotee—or any devotee who adheres to the standard Srila Prabhupada gave for ISKCON.

When we were in Allahabad for the Kumbha-mela in 1977, His Holiness Lokanath Swami came to meet Srila Prabhupada. Prabhupada lived in a tent, like all of us, and although his tent was a little bigger and had a heater, still it was cold and difficult, and he became sick. Sometimes in the afternoon there was sun, and he used to come outside into a courtyard constructed with colorful shamiana cloth, and I would often sit there with him.

Srila Prabhupada had been encouraging Lokanath Swami to travel by bullock cart throughout India and preach. But Gopal Krishna Maharaja had instructed Lokanath Swami to stay in Bombay to take care of the new bhaktas. Lokanath Swami repeated Gopal Krishna’s arguments to Srila Prabhupada, including Gopal’s description of Lokanath Swami as a “key devotee.” “What is this ‘key devotee’?” Lokanath wondered. Prabhupada replied, “No, you should travel with bullock cart and preach.” Then Lokanath Swami asked, “What about the program for the new devotees?” Srila Prabhupada answered, “Our regular program is for new devotees. Our program is the same for all devotees; we don’t have any different program for new devotees.” Then Lokanath Swami explained that some of the devotees had joined because he had preached to them and they were attached to him personally and might not be able to continue without him. Srila Prabhupada replied, “Those who are very much attached to you personally may accompany you in the bullock cart, and you can have the same program in the bullock cart as you travel.”

So, when we quote Srila Prabhupada’s Nectar of Devotion that externally one continues to act as a neophyte, we mean that one continues to follow the regular program Srila Prabhupada gave for all devotees, beginning with the new ones. And as one adheres to the morning program and other principles, one can feel the results—favorable results. But at the same time, if a devotee is fortunate enough to have some specific taste for some specific service, he is also encouraged to serve according to his taste, while continuing to observe the regulative principles.

Srila Prabhupada concludes the purport by saying that if a devotee writes and publishes and distributes books, he is actually following Rupa Gosvami, and thus one can become a rupanuga devotee. So Srila Prabhupada’s blessing is upon us if we write, publish, and distribute transcendental literature.

TEXT 133

caitanyera krpa rupa likhiyachena apane
rasamrta-sindhu-granthera mangalacarane

TRANSLATION

Srila Rupa Gosvami has personally spoken about the mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in his auspicious introduction to his book Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu [1.1.2].

TEXT 134

hrdi yasya preranaya
pravartito ’ham varaka-rupo ’pi
tasya hareh pada-kamalam
vande caitanya-devasya

TRANSLATION

“Although I am the lowest of men and have no knowledge, the inspiration to write transcendental literatures about devotional service has been mercifully bestowed upon me. Therefore I am offering my obeisances at the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who has given me the chance to write these books.”

Srila Rupa Gosvami Prabhu ki jaya!
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta ki jaya!
Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!

[A talk by Giriraj Swami on Rupa Gosvami’s disappearance day, August 23, 1999, Carpinteria, California]

Jul 302020
 

We are celebrating Jhulana-yatra, which is steeped in the moods of Vrindavan. When I first began reading Srila Prabhupada’s books, I was struck by the following description in the introduction to Teachings of Lord Chaitanya: “Actually, the Vrindaban on earth is as good as the spiritual Vrindaban, and therefore Krishna Das Kaviraj Goswami says that underneath one of the desire trees of Vrindaban there is a nice throne decorated with valuable jewels on which Radharani and Krishna are seated. And His dear friends the gopis are serving Them: somebody is singing, somebody is dancing, somebody is offering betel nuts and refreshment, somebody is decorating with flowers. . . .

“In India it is still a fashion of recreation to sit on a swing, and, if it is moving, it is very refreshing. In every home they have a hanging throne, and when a man comes home, if practical,it is moved from time to time, and he becomes refreshed. So, similarly, the same system prevails, especially in the month of Sravana, July-August, when there is the function called Jhulana. During Jhulana, in all the houses—not only in Vrindaban but all over India—the people hang thrones. In every house and village they place Radha and Krishna and decorate Them with flowers and move the throne and offer dancing and kirtan. . . . The temples are decorated, and thousands of people come as spectators. Generally, people go to Vrindaban at that time. Krishna and Radha are seated on the throne, surrounded by His friends.”

And leading into these two paragraphs: “There is an acharya who describes Vrindaban: ‘When my mind becomes cleansed of all dirty hankering for material enjoyment, then I shall be able to see Vrindaban.’ So Vrindaban is actually experienced by persons who have finished with material enjoyment. Everything is spiritual. This becomes revealed. . . . As you become more Krishna conscious, as you become more advanced, everything is revealed to you.”

Although I am still waiting for that qualification and that revelation, even in my present state I can, by divine mercy, relish some of the flavors of Vrindavan during Jhulana-yatra in Carpinteria.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Jul 272020
 

Rtadhvaja Swami and Giriraj Swami spoke on success in the grihastha ashrama, Giriraj Swami with reference to Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.5.18.

“Ordinarily, the spiritual master, husband, father, mother or superior relative accepts worship from an inferior relative, but here Rsabhadeva forbids this. First the father, spiritual master or husband must be able to release the dependent from repeated birth and death. If he cannot do this, he plunges himself into the ocean of reproachment for his unlawful activities. Everyone should be very responsible and take charge of his dependents just as a spiritual master takes charge of his disciple or a father takes charge of his son. All these responsibilities cannot be discharged honestly unless one can save the dependent from repeated birth and death.” —Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.5.18 purport

Success in Grihastha Ashrama (Right click to download)