Giriraj Swami

Jul 042020
 

Today is Guru-purnima. Srila Prabhupada has explained that the system of honoring the spiritual master is current in all sections of Vedic followers. In the Mayavadi (impersonalist) sects, the disciples offer respect to the spiritual master once a year, on Guru-purnima. And in the Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradaya, the disciples offer homage annually on the appearance day of the spiritual master, called Vyasa-puja because the spiritual master represents Vedavyasa, the empowered incarnation of Krishna who compiled the Vedic literatures, and the bona fide spiritual master presents the same knowledge through disciplic succession. Yet although Guru-purnima is generally observed by the Mayavadi groups, we shall take the opportunity to discuss the principle of guru—and glorify the acharya-sampradaya.

Guru is a deep subject. We sing, vande ’ham sri-guroh sri-yuta-pada-kamalam sri-gurun vaisnavams ca. We offer respects to the spiritual master in singular, to the spiritual masters in plural, and to all Vaishnavas. The singular spiritual master is our personal spiritual master, the plural spiritual masters are the predecessor acharyas, and the Vaishnavas are the followers of the spiritual master. We offer respects to them all, because they all come in the same line, the disciplic succession (parampara) from Krishna Himself.

Srila Prabhupada explains, “The offering of respect to the spiritual master means offering respect to all the previous acharyas. Gurun means plural number. All the acharyas, they are not different from one another, because they are coming in the disciplic succession from the original spiritual master and they have no different views.” Thus we offer respects to the predecessors.

Similarly, we offer respects to the followers. Srila Prabhupada explains further, “Spiritual master means they must have many followers, who are all Vaishnavas. They are called prabhus, and the spiritual master is called Prabhupada, because at his lotus feet there are many prabhus. Pada means ‘lotus foot.’ All these Vaishnavas are prabhus. So they are also offered respectful obeisances—not the spiritual master alone, but along with his associates. And these associates, his disciples, are all Vaishnavas. Therefore they should also be offered respectful obeisances.” (SP comment on Mangalacarana, January 8, 1969)

For us in ISKCON, Srila Prabhupada is the main guru; he is the founder-acharya. But he also has his associates—Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja, Srila Tamal Krishna Goswami Maharaja, Srila Sridhar Swami, Srila Bhakti Tirtha Swami, Srila Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami—to name some prominent ones who have departed. And, of course, Prabhupada is being served by so many others today, and we can serve and learn from all of them. Continue reading »

Jul 042020
 

Dear Devotees,

Please accept our humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

It is with overwhelming heartache that we announce to you the departure of our beloved godbrother and a dearmost servant of Srila Prabhupada, His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami.

From his earliest days as a young devotee, Maharaja had the extraordinary privilege of serving as one of Srila Prabhupada’s confidential, personal servants. And ever since, His Holiness Bhakti Charu Maharaja’s life has been an offering of love at the lotus feet of his spiritual master.

Indeed, there was not a service that Maharaja did not perform for the pleasure of Srila Prabhupada. As instructed in their very first meeting, Maharaja translated every one of Srila Prabhupada’s written works into Bengali, the language of Srila Prabhupada’s own birth. To fulfill this cherished order, Maharaja took on years of austerity, rising at midnight to carefully translate his spiritual master’s divine words.

Maharaja served as one of the most active members of the GBC Body, he was an initiating spiritual master with many dedicated disciples all over the world, and he shared Krishna consciousness in every segment of society, from simple Bangladeshi villages to the British parliament. Maharaja encouraged and advised ISKCON leaders in management and spiritual topics, saved more than one ISKCON project in times of despair, and did his utmost to contribute to the welfare of the most vulnerable members of society.

One of Maharaja’s unique contributions was the “Abhay Charan” television series, which brought the glorious life and pastimes of Srila Prabhupada to the world on an unprecedented scale. And most recently, Maharaja again heightened the glory of his spiritual master by building a marvelous temple and devotee community in the holy city of Ujjain.

Maharaja’s voice, sweeter than honey, has immortalized many of our acharyas’ prayers, and most famously, Maharaja’s heartfelt rendition of the gopis’ song of separation from the Tenth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam rings in our ears.

Despite his position and many qualifications, both material and spiritual, Maharaja was a humble and loving gentleman who took pleasure in serving devotees. Indeed, one of Maharaja’s favorite pastimes was to personally cook and serve prasadam for the devotees. As in all aspects of his service and gentle and cultured nature, Maharaja’s cooking was highly refined and infused with bhakti.

There are no words that provide solace when facing separation from such a glorious Vaishnava, but we can take some comfort in the fact that His Holiness Bhakti Charu Maharaja lived constantly in meditation on how to serve Srila Prabhupada and his mission. Undoubtedly, he now continues that service under the direction of His Divine Grace.

Let us offer true homage to Maharaja by continuing his legacy of service in our own lives. Let us commit ourselves, mind, body, and soul, to the service of Srila Prabhupada, following in the footsteps of his beloved servant His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami.

One of Maharaja’s most cherished instructions from His Divine Grace was “Your love for me will be show by how you cooperate together after I am gone.” Now, in Maharaja’s absence, we are reminded to take that instruction to heart and reaffirm our dedication to ISKCON, and to each other.

We also commit ourselves, as Maharaja’s servants, to assist and care for his loving disciples in his absence. It was very important to Maharaja that we operate as one family in Srila Prabhupada’s service and we remind you today that although Maharaja is no longer physically present, you are protected by the shelter of many devotees who are ready to offer you the support you may require at this difficult time and in the future.

As Maharaja often glorified Srila Prabhupada with the beautiful words of the gopis, let us also remember Maharaja as that most munificent Vaishnava who will eternally inspire the followers of Srila Prabhupada to share the glories of Lord Krishna:

tava kathamrtam tapta-jivanam
kavibhir iditam kalmasapaham
sravana-mangalam srimad atatam
bhuvi grnanti ye bhuri-da janah

“The nectar of Your words and the descriptions of Your activities are the life and soul of those suffering in this material world. These narrations, transmitted by learned sages, eradicate one’s sinful reactions and bestow good fortune upon whoever hears them. These narrations are broadcast all over the world and are filled with spiritual power. Certainly those who spread the message of Godhead are most munificent.”

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami ki jaya!

Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!

Hare Krishna.

Your servants,
Ramai Swami
Bhakti Caitanya Swami
Bhanu Swami,
GBC Executive Committee

Jul 022020
 

Certain situations are extremely painful, and our intelligence fails to understand how this could be a blessing of the Lord. At such times, we can try humbly submitting a prayer: “O God, please give me the strength to see this situation as your mercy, although my intelligence fails to see it so.” This way we can tap the so-far-concealed grace of the Lord and develop gratitude for all inconceivable situations that God arranges for us in our lives.

—Radhanath Swami

Jul 012020
 

I will read a verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto Three, Chapter Two, Text 23. This verse is very significant. Not only is the verse beautiful, but it also has historical significance, because when Sukadeva Gosvami came out of the womb, after sixteen years, he left home immediately, and his father, Srila Vyasadeva, followed him into the forest. And when he came close enough to him, he recited two verses from Srimad-Bhagavatam, one describing Krishna’s beauty, from the Tenth Canto, and one describing Krishna’s mercy, which is this verse.

When Sukadeva Gosvami heard these two verses—the one describing Krishna’s mercy and the one describing Krishna’s beauty—he became attracted. Although liberated, he became attracted by the transcendental qualities of Krishna, and he came back to hear Srimad-Bhagavatam from his father, Vyasadeva.

TEXT 23

aho baki yam stana-kala-kutam
  jighamsayapayayad apy asadhvi
lebhe gatim dhatry-ucitam tato ’nyam
  kam va dayalum saranam vrajema

SYNONYMS

ho—alas; baki—the she-demon (Putana); yam—whom; stana—of her breast; kala—deadly; kutam—poison; jighamsaya—out of envy; apayayat—nourished; api—although; asadhvi—unfaithful; lebhe—achieved; gatim—destination; dhatri-ucitam—just suitable for the nurse; tatah—beyond whom; anyam—other; kam—who else; va—certainly; dayalum—merciful; saranam—shelter; vrajema—shall I take.

TRANSLATION

Alas, how shall I take shelter of one more merciful than He who granted the position of mother to a she-demon [Putana] although she was unfaithful and she prepared deadly poison to be sucked from her breast?

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

Here is an example of the extreme mercy of the Lord, even to His enemy. It is said that a noble man accepts the good qualities of a person of doubtful character, just as one accepts nectar from a stock of poison.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

The Lord is absolute. He is all good for everyone, and He is neutral toward everyone. He is always thinking of how to do good for others. So even if one approaches Him as an enemy, He will try to do good for the person, as was the case with Putana. Although she came to kill Him by administering poison from her breast, He elevated her to the position of a nurse, like a mother, in the spiritual world.

Srila Prabhupada said it is a mark of a good man that he takes the good side, not the bad side, of others. He gave the example of his guru maharaja, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta had a disciple named Kunjabihari dasa—people used to call him Kunja Babu—who, Srila Prabhupada said, came to do business with their guru maharaja, to profit personally from his relationship with him and from his service in the Gaudiya Math. But Srila Prabhupada said their guru maharaja didn’t take Kunja’s dark side, that he was coming to make business, but took the bright side, that he was coming to offer service.

“Putana Raksasi—she offered Krishna poison. But Krishna is so nice that He thought, ‘She took Me as My mother,’ so He took the poison and delivered her. Krishna does not take the bad side. A good man does not take the bad side—he takes only the good side. Just like one of my big godbrothers—he wanted to make business with my guru maharaja, but my guru maharaja did not take the bad side. He took the good side. He thought, ‘He has come forward to give me some service.’ ” (Talk with Bob Cohen, February 28, 1972, Mayapur)

PURPORT (continued)

In His babyhood, the Lord was administered deadly poison by Putana, a she-demon who tried to kill the wonderful baby. And because she was a demon, it was impossible for her to know that the Supreme Lord, even though playing the part of a baby, was no one less than the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

COMMENT (continued)

On the occasion of the wedding of Vasudeva and Devaki, Kamsa, who was Devaki’s brother, was driving their chariot, and he heard a voice from the sky (akasa-vani) saying that the eighth son of Devaki would kill him. And he was so selfish and egoistic and demonic that he didn’t wait for the eighth child; he killed all the sons of Devaki, one by one. Then, eventually, Krishna appeared, and He manifested His four-handed form of Vishnu to convince them that He was the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But still, out of parental affection, they were afraid for Him, and thus Vasudeva carried Krishna to Vrindavan.

Kamsa sent many demons to Vrindavan to kill Krishna, and Putana was one of them. And it is described in Srimad-Bhagavatam that when sucking Putana’s breast, He sucked out her life air. It is also described that He closed His eyes, and commentators explain that He closed His eyes because He didn’t want to look at her because although she was a demon, she was a woman who appeared to be showing motherly affection.

PURPORT (concluded)

And because she was a demon, it was impossible for her to know that the Supreme Lord, even though playing the part of a baby, was no one less than the same Supreme Personality of Godhead. His value as the Supreme Lord did not diminish upon His becoming a baby to please His devotee Yasoda. The Lord may assume the form of a baby or a shape other than that of a human being, but it doesn’t make the slightest difference; He is always the same Supreme. A living creature, however powerful he may become by dint of severe penance, can never become equal to the Supreme Lord.

Lord Krsna accepted the motherhood of Putana because she pretended to be an affectionate mother, allowing Krsna to suck her breast. The Lord accepts the least qualification of the living entity and awards him the highest reward. That is the standard of His character. Therefore, who but the Lord can be the ultimate shelter?

COMMENT

This verse reminds me of Srila Prabhupada: How shall I take shelter of one more merciful than he? There was no one more merciful than Srila Prabhupada. Lord Nityananda is most merciful, and Srila Prabhupada manifested the same quality of mercy as Nityananda Prabhu. Continue reading »

Jun 282020
 

Chanting before Tulasi today, I recalled an incident with Srila Prabhupada in his garden in New Dvaraka, Los Angeles, in 1973. I was looking at him, and suddenly his face lit up, his eyes opened wide, and he smiled broadly, as if he were seeing a long-lost dear friend. When I turned around to see who had come, I saw that it was Tulasi, being carried by a devotee. “Just by her presence,” Prabhupada said, “Tulasi purifies the whole atmosphere.”

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Jun 202020
 

Srila Prabhupada expressed his appreciation for his father in his dedication to his book Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead: “To My Father, Gour Mohan De (1849-1930)”—“A pure devotee of Krsna, who raised me as a Krsna conscious child from the beginning of my life. In my boyhood ages he instructed me how to play the mrdanga. He gave me Radha-Krsna vigraha to worship, and he gave me Jagannatha ratha to duly observe the festival as my childhood play. He was kind to me, and I imbibed from him the ideas later on solidified by my spiritual master, the eternal father.”

As devotees, we try to encourage and facilitate our children’s Krishna consciousness, as Prabhupada’s father did with him—an effort that is solidified when our children find their eternal spiritual masters.

Later, Srila Prabhupada wrote one of his disciples, “You have accepted me as father, so I have also accepted you as my dear and real son. Relationship of father and son on spiritual platform is real and eternal; on the material platform such relationship is ephemeral and temporary. Although I cannot give you anything as father, still I can pray to Krishna for your more and more advancement in Krishna consciousness. Your sincerity and service mood will always help you in advancing your genuine cause.”

We are indebted to all our fathers, biological and preceptorial. To those still with us, we wish you Happy Father’s Day. To those who have left us, we love you and miss you, and we shall try to act in such a way as will please you—and Krishna, the Supreme Father.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Jun 202020
 

Today we are observing the disappearance day of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Sri Gadadhara Pandita. I first learned of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura when I visited the Boston temple. At that time there were only two published books in ISKCON: the abridged edition of Bhagavad-gita As It Is, published by Macmillan, and Teachings of Lord Chaitanya, published by ISKCON. And at the front of Teachings of Lord Chaitanya was a series of very dignified black-and-white photographsof Srila Prabhupada, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji, and Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. Under the photograph of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura was a caption: “The pioneer of the program for benedicting the entire world with Krishna consciousness by the instructions of Lord Chaitanya.” I understood from the caption that Srila Prabhupada was continuing the work of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, and that we were able to come in touch with Krishna consciousness in part because of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura.

As the years passed and I came to learn more about Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, I began to see more and more how the Krishna consciousness movement brought by Srila Prabhupada to the West and expanded throughout the world was a continuation of the work of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and the result of his desire. So we are all indebted to Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, and we are intimately connected with him through parampara.

Lord Chaitanya predicted, prthivite ache yata nagaradi grama, sarvatra pracara haibe mora nama: “In every town and village of every country of the world, My name [Krishna’s name] will be preached.” Although Lord Chaitanya made this prediction more than five hundred years ago, even His followers have sometimes been bewildered about how it would be fulfilled. Some of them even thought the prediction was metaphorical or abstract. But Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura had faith in the order and the desire of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and through his books he began the work of spreading Krishna consciousness and the holy name of Krishna throughout the world. In particular, in 1896, the year of Srila Prabhupada’s birth, he wrote a book called Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu: His Life and Precepts and distributed it to libraries worldwide.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura passed on his desire, which was Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s desire, to his son Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, though he never left India, passed on the same desire to his disciples. In particular, he gave the order to Srila Prabhupada to preach Krishna consciousness in the English language, which even then was the universal language in the Western world, and in the whole world.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura predicted, “Very soon the unparalleled path of hari-nama-sankirtana will be propagated all over the world.” He foresaw the day when Vaishnavas from all over the world would come to Mayapur and chant Jaya Sacinandana together with the Bengali Vaishnavas, Gaudiya Vaishnavas. And Srila Prabhupada was the one who acted to fulfill the desire and prediction of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura:

“Oh, for that day when the fortunate English, French, Russian, German, and American people will take up banners, mridangas, and karatalas and raise kirtan through their streets and towns. When will that day come? Oh, for the day when the fair-skinned men from their side, chanting, ‘Jaya Sacinandana ki jaya,’ will extend their arms and, embracing devotees of our country coming from our side, treat us with brotherly feelings. When will that day be?” (Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, in Sajjana-tosani)

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura had a house in Godrumadvipa, across the Jalangi River from Mayapur, and he used to chant on his balcony there. One day he looked across the river and had a vision of an effulgent city with a wonderful temple, an adbhuta mandira, at its center. He desired that this wonderful temple and splendorous city should come into existence, and here too Srila Prabhupada has engaged his followers to fulfill the prediction and desire of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Sri Nityananda Prabhu:

eka adbhuta mandira ei haibe prakasa
gaurangera nitya-seva haibe vikasa

“An astounding temple will appear and will engage the entire world in the eternal service of Lord Chaitanya.” (Sri Navadvipa-Mahatmya, Parikrama Khanda, Ch. 4)

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura is also the one who discovered the actual birthplace of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in Mayapur. Over centuries of the Ganges flooding and changing course, the location of Mayapur, the birthplace of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, was lost. Bhaktivinoda Thakura studied old maps and consulted different local people, and ultimately he determined the actual location.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura carried forward the idea of the Vedic city in Mayapur, and he had some of his householder disciples build small houses there. But again, it was really Srila Prabhupada who carried the desire of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura forward to the point where there is now a budding metropolis in Mayapur. He was very enthusiastic about the project, and now his disciples are working to make this magnificent vision a physical reality. Continue reading »

Jun 162020
 

This Krishna consciousness movement is spreading quickly all over the world—within four, five years. Is it my credit? No. It is Krishna’s credit. But because I have tried to do this business, people are automatically giving me the credit. They say, “Swamiji, you have done wonderful.” I have done nothing wonderful. It is Krishna’s business. Krsna-sakti vina nahe tara pravartana. (Cc Antya-lila 7.11) Without Krishna’s strength, nobody can spread. That is stated in the Caitanya-caritamrta.

Krishna is always ready to help us, provided we are also ready to cooperate with Him. If we cooperate with Him, what Krishna desires, if we want to do a little, immediately Krishna will help you. If you work one percent, Krishna will help you ten percent. Again if you work one percent, Krishna will help you another ten percent. But the cent percent credit you get, by the help of Krishna. Krishna gives you intelligence. Tesam satata-yuktanam bhajatam priti-purvakam, dadami buddhi-yogam tam. (Gita 10.10) [“To those who are constantly devoted and worship Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me.”] If you are engaged satatam, twenty-four hours, without any other engagement—sarva-dharman parityajya (Gita 18.66), giving up all other, nonsense business, sarva-dharman. Simply if you are engaged in Krishna’s business, priti-purvakam, with love. Not as hackneyed: “Ah, here is a duty, chanting of Hare Krishna. All right, “harekrishnaharekrishnaharekrishna” [chants very quickly and indistinctly]. Not like that. With priti, with love. Chant every name, “Hare Krishna,” and hear. Here is Krishna; here is Radharani. That kind of chanting, quality. Not “Harekrishnaharekrishnakrishnakrsinhaharehare.” Not like that. Priti. Tesam satata-yuktanam bhajatam priti. That priti is required. That is the essential quality.

—Srila Prabhupada, talk on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.10.2, June 17, 1973, Mayapur

Jun 152020
 

His Holiness Sridhar Swami Maharaja left his body in Mayapur on Srivasa Pandita’s appearance day in 2004. He was such a good friend to me—and to all the devotees in ISKCON, and ultimately to everyone. I spend my days trying to please him by serving the causes and devotees dear to him. When I think of his words “There is no one I love more than Giriraj Swami,” my heart melts.

I miss you, Maharaja—I love you.

Hare Krishna.

Your eternal servant,
Giriraj Swami

Jun 142020
 

Srivasa Pandita is one of the members of the Pancha-tattva: sri-krsna-caitanya prabhu-nityananda sri-advaita gadadhara srivasa. Vedic authorities state that in the current Age of Kali, Krishna came as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Balarama came as Sri Nityananda Prabhu. Similarly, Maha-vishnu appeared as Advaita Acharya, Srimati Radharani as Gadadhara Pandita, and Narada Muni as Srivasa Pandita.

panca-tattvatmakam krsnam
  bhakta-rupa-svarupakam
bhaktavataram bhaktakhyam
  namami bhakta-saktikam

“I offer my obeisances unto the Supreme Lord, Krsna, who is nondifferent from His features as a devotee, devotional incarnation, devotional manifestation, pure devotee, and devotional energy.” (Cc Adi 1.14)

Panca-tattvatmakam: The Pancha-tattva comprise one truth on the absolute platform. Lord Chaitanya is bhakta-rupa, Krishna in the form of a devotee. Lord Nityananda is svarupakam, the expansion of a devotee. Advaita Acharya is bhaktavataram, the avatar of a devotee. Srivasa Thakura is bhakta, a devotee. And Gadadhara Pandita is bhakta-saktikam, the energy of the Supreme Lord who supplies energy to the devotees—the devotional energy, Srimati Radharani.

In the Adi-lila of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami describes the tree of Lord Chaitanya. The tree itself is Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and at the same time Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is the gardener who tends to the tree. This tree, like any tree, has a trunk, limbs, and branches. The limbs and branches and leaves are devotees—the devotees of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami says that he is listing such devotees for his own purification, just to glorify them, and that he cannot distinguish between who is higher and who is lower. He wants to glorify them all. And Srila Prabhupada remarks that this is the attitude of a pure devotee. A pure devotee respects all devotees. He does not distinguish that some should be respected and some not; he respects all of them.

Srila Prabhupada also mentions that ISKCON is a branch of the Chaitanya tree. In reality, Prabhupada himself is a most important branch of the Chaitanya tree, but in his humility he says that ISKCON is a branch. So all the devotees in ISKCON, who are attached to ISKCON, are leaves on the Chaitanya tree. And we should respect and honor them all.

After giving us this introduction to the Chaitanya tree, Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami begins to describe specific devotees, and the first he describes is Srivasa Thakura. For our purification, we shall read now the first verses of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila, Chapter Ten, “The Trunk, Branches, and Subbranches of the Caitanya Tree.” And then we shall discuss more about Srivasa Thakura.

TEXT 1

sri-caitanya-padambhoja-
  madhupebhyo namo namah
kathancid asrayad yesam
  svapi tad-gandha-bhag bhavet

TRANSLATION

Let me repeatedly offer my respectful obeisances unto the beelike devotees who always taste the honey of the lotus feet of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. If even a doggish nondevotee somehow takes shelter of such devotees, he enjoys the aroma of the lotus flower.

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

The example of a dog is very significant in this connection. A dog naturally does not become a devotee at any time, but still it is sometimes found that a dog of a devotee gradually becomes a devotee also. We have actually seen that a dog has no respect even for the tulasi plant. Indeed, a dog is especially inclined to pass urine on the tulasi plant. Therefore the dog is the number one nondevotee. But Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s sankirtana movement is so strong that even a doglike nondevotee can gradually become a devotee by the association of a devotee of Lord Caitanya. Srila Sivananda Sena, a great householder devotee of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, attracted a dog on the street while going to Jagannatha Puri. The dog began to follow him and ultimately went to see Caitanya Mahaprabhu and was liberated. Similarly, cats and dogs in the household of Srivasa Thakura were also liberated. Cats and dogs and other animals are not expected to become devotees, but in the association of a pure devotee they are also delivered.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

This is an important verse to begin the description of the Chaitanya tree. The tree describes the devotees, and here Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami glorifies the power of the devotees: by their power, even a doglike nondevotee can become a devotee and taste the nectar at the lotus feet of the Lord.

In six days we shall observe Jagannatha Ratha-yatra, and that date is also the disappearance day of Srila Svarupa Damodara Gosvami and Srila Sivananda Sena. Every year, Sivananda Sena would take a party of devotees from Bengal to Orissa for the Ratha-yatra, and one year a dog joined them. Sivananda Sena was so merciful that he accepted the dog as part of his party, so much so that when they had to cross a river by boat, he paid the boatman extra to take the dog.

One day, when Sivananda Sena had to attend to some work, his servant forgot to feed the dog. And when Sivananda came and inquired, “Did you feed the dog?” he discovered that it had not been given its meals. Sivananda Sena immediately sent ten men to find the dog, but they could not find it. And Sivananda Sena felt so sorry that he fasted.

The next day too they did not see the dog, but when they reached Puri they saw the dog sitting a little distance from Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who was throwing it remnants of green coconut pulp and requesting it to chant the holy names “Hari,” “Krishna,” and “Rama.” Sivananda Sena, out of his humility, offered obeisances to the dog, feeling that he had been an offender, because he had neglected to serve it properly. The following day, however, no one saw the dog, for it had been liberated and gone back home, back to Godhead, by the mercy of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the holy names.

This is the strength of the mercy of a pure devotee. By the mercy of such a devotee, one gets the association of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the mercy of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu—the opportunity to chant the holy names of Krishna—and in the end goes back home, back to Godhead. Continue reading »