Today we continue our observance of Candana-yatra. We are reading from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, Chapter Four: “Sri Madhavendra Puri’s Devotional Service,” which describes how Madhavendra Puri traveled by foot from Govardhana to Jagannatha Puri to procure sandalwood to grind and mix with camphor and place on the body of the Deity Gopala whom he had installed on the top of Govardhana Hill. After Madhavendra Puri installed Gopala on the top of Govardhana Hill, two brahmans came, and he initiated them and engaged them in the service of the Deity. When he was satisfied that the two brahmans could conduct the worship nicely, he left for Jagannatha Puri. The Deity Gopala appeared in a dream to Madhavendra Puri and told him, “Although you have made so many arrangements for My worship and service, still My body is burning because of the heat. So please go to Jagannatha Puri and bring Malayan sandalwood.”
Madhavendra Puri was pleased to receive that service from Gopala, and he proceeded toward Jagannatha Puri. When he reached Remuna, he took darshan of the Deity Gopinatha. The arrangements at the temple were excellent, and the offerings of sweet rice, known as gopinatha-ksira, were particularly famous. Because the sweet rice tasted as good as amrta, nectar, it was called amrta-keli. So, Madhavendra Puri just had a thought—that if he could taste some of the amrta-keli, he could prepare similar sweet rice for Gopala.
As soon as Madhavendra Puri had that thought, however, he became ashamed. Although actually there had not been any fault, out of his extreme humility he considered that he had been lusty in wanting to taste the Deity’s sweet rice. And so, without saying anything to anyone, he left the temple and went into a vacant marketplace in the town and began to chant the holy name. He was just chanting and chanting and eventually, toward the morning, he dozed off.
Meanwhile, the Deity Gopinatha appeared in a dream to the pujari and said, “I have stolen a pot of sweet rice and kept it hidden behind the curtain in the Deity room. Please come and get it and go into the town to the marketplace and find the sannyasi named Madhavendra Puri and deliver the sweet rice to him.” So, the pujari bathed, went into the Deity room, found that indeed the Deity had hidden the pot of sweet rice behind the curtain, and he took the sweet rice into the town, as he had been instructed. And, holding up the pot of sweet rice, he called out, “Will he whose name is Madhavendra Puri please come and take this pot. Gopinatha has stolen this pot for you.” We resume reading:
ksira lana sukhe tumi karaha bhaksane
toma-sama bhagyavan nahi tribhuvane
The priest continued, “Would the sannyasi whose name is Madhavendra Puri please come and take this pot of sweet rice and enjoy the prasada with great happiness! You are the most fortunate person within these three worlds!”
PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada
Here is an example of a personal benediction by Krsna’s immoral activity. By Gopinatha’s stealing for His devotee, the devotee becomes the most fortunate person within the three words. Thus even the Lord’s criminal activities make His devotee the most fortunate person. How can a mundane rascal understand the pastimes of Krsna and judge whether He is moral or immoral? Since Krsna is the Absolute Truth, there are no mundane distinctions such as moral and immoral. Whatever He does is good. This is the real meaning of “God is good.” He is good in all circumstances because He is transcendental, outside the jurisdiction of this material world. Therefore, Krsna can be understood only by those who are already living in the spiritual world. This is corroborated in the Bhagavad-gita (14.26):
mam ca yo ‘vyabhicarena bhakti-yogena sevate
sa gunan samatityaitan brahma-bhuyaya kalpate
“One who engages in full devotional service, who does not fall down in any circumstances, at once transcends the modes of material nature and thus comes to the level of Brahman.” (Bg 14.26)
One who is engaged in unalloyed devotional service to the Lord is already situated in the spiritual world (brahma-bhuyaya kalpate). In all circumstances, his activities and dealings with Krsna are transcendental and thus not understandable by mundane moralists. It is therefore better not to discuss such activities among mundane people. It is better to give them the Hare Krsna maha-mantra so that they will be gradually purified and then come to understand the transcendental activities of Krsna.
COMMENT by Giriraj Swami
In the Bhagavad-gita Krishna says, bhaktya mam abhijanati, yavan yas casmi tattvatah—He can be understood only by devotional service. Ordinary people cannot understand Krishna; He is always hidden from them by the curtain of Yogamaya. They see Him superficially and misunderstand Him. Therefore, we do not generally discuss Krishna’s pastimes publicly before an audience of ordinary people or a mixed audience but rather give them the Hare Krishna maha-mantra to chant.
Devotees—pure devotees who are surrendered to Krishna—can understand Krishna because they are on the same platform, the Brahman platform. As Srila Prabhupada mentions in the purport, even the activities of the transcendental devotees are incomprehensible to the mundane moralists because the transcendental devotees are also acting on the spiritual platform and are not bound by ordinary rules and regulations but are impelled by Krishna. Krishna is free, and therefore the devotee is also free to act according to Krishna’s desire.
An important word in Sanskrit is yadrcchaya, which is often translated “somehow or other.” The implication of the word is that Krishna is free and Krishna’s devotees are free. Yadrcchaya is sometimes translated as “by His own sweet will.” Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.6.37) describes how Narada Muni, after instructing his disciple Vyasadeva, played upon his stringed instrument, the vina, and left to travel through the universe yadrcchaya—by his own sweet will. In the purport Srila Prabhupada explains that the pivot in devotional service is freedom: “[A] full-fledged free soul like Narada, always engaged in chanting the Lord’s glory, is free to move not only on earth but also in any part of the universe, as well as in any part of the spiritual sky. We can just imagine the extent and unlimitedness of his freedom, which is as good as that of the Supreme Lord. There is no reason or obligation for his traveling, and no one can stop him from his free movement. Similarly, the transcendental system of devotional service is also free. It may or may not develop in a particular person even after he undergoes all the detailed formulas. Similarly, the association of the devotee is also free. One may be fortunate to have it, or one may not have it even after thousands of endeavors. Therefore, in all spheres of devotional service, freedom is the main pivot. Without freedom there is no execution of devotional service. The freedom surrendered to the Lord does not mean that the devotee becomes dependent in every respect. To surrender unto the Lord through the transparent medium of the spiritual master is to attain complete freedom of life.” So, everything about Krishna consciousness is based on freedom—ultimately Krishna’s freedom and the freedom of those who are surrendered to Him.
Dharmam tu saksad bhagavat-pranitam. Dharma is the order of Krishna. Whatever Krishna orders, that is dharma. He gives the orders, but He is not obliged to follow them. So His activities may appear to be immoral according to mundane calculation, but actually Krishna is on the absolute platform. He is the Absolute Truth. He is all good absolutely, and whatever he does is good for everyone, and especially for his devotees. Here the example is Madhavendra Puri. Krishna stole the sweet rice for him and thus transgressed ordinary ethical principles, but by His stealing for His devotee, His devotee became the most fortunate person in the three worlds.
Of course, it is superficial to say, “Krishna stole.” Actually, everything belongs to Krishna. He danced with other men’s wives, with unmarried girls, but everyone belongs to Him. Once, a man criticized Krishna, telling Srila Prabhupada, “Krishna is a debauchee, an adulterer. He enjoyed with the wives of others.” Srila Prabhupada replied, “Does not everything belong to Krishna?” “Yes,” the man replied. “Then does your wife not also belong to Krishna? Then who is the adulterer?”
eta suni’ puri-gosani paricaya dila
ksira diya pujari tanre dandavat haila
Hearing this invitation, Madhavendra Puri came out and identified himself. The priest then delivered the pot of sweet rice and offered his obeisances, falling flat before him.
A brahmana is not supposed to offer his obeisances by falling flat before anyone because a brahmana is considered to be in the highest caste. However, when a brahmana sees a devotee, he offers his dandavats. This brahmana priest did not ask Madhavendra Puri whether he was a brahmana, but when he saw that Madhavendra Puri was such a bona fide devotee that Krsna would even steal for him, he immediately understood the position of the saint. As stated by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu: kiba vipra, kiba nyasi, sudra kene naya/ yei krsna-tattva-vetta, sei ‘guru’ haya. (Cc Madhya 8.128) Had the brahmana priest been an ordinary brahmana, Gopinatha would not have talked with him in a dream. Since the Deity spoke to both Madhavendra Puri and the brahmana priest in dreams, practically speaking they were on the same platform. However, because Madhavendra Puri was a senior Vaisnava sannyasi, a paramahamsa, the priest immediately fell flat before him and offered obeisances.
Here we see the humility of advanced devotees. Amanina manadena. They do not want honor for themselves; rather, they are ready to offer all respects to others. Once, in Mayapur, Srila Prabhupada had finished his lunch and his servant had taken the plate with Prabhupada’s remnants into the servants’ area which is just near Prabhupada’s room. After some time, Srila Prabhupada heard shouting coming from the next room. Apparently, his secretaries and servants were arguing. So he sent Hari-sauri to see what was happening. Hari-sauri went and returned and informed Srila Prabhupada that one of the secretaries who was more senior had said that he was sick and could not eat the regular temple prasada and should therefore get all of Prabhupada’s remnants. The other secretary thought that Prabhupada’s remnants should be shared equally with everyone and not be taken all by one person.
Srila Prabhupada told Hari-sauri to call them into his room, and when he had heard from both parties, he said, “It is not enough to be the servant of the spiritual master. But one should be the servant of the servants of the spiritual master. Devotees should be humble.” In Bengal, at least previously, he related, if a saintly person would come to a village, all the villagers would rush out to receive him. They would offer obeisances. They would take the dust from his feet. They would invite him to their homes and do their best to serve him and please him, thinking, “Here is a saintly person. I want to serve him and please him and get his mercy.” And the sadhu was thinking, “I’m just an ordinary person. Why are they all coming and offering obeisances to me and taking the dust at my feet and wanting to serve me? I am just an ordinary person.” And because both parties were humble, Srila Prabhupada explained, both made great spiritual advancement.
Here we see that in the dealings between Madhavendra Puri and the priest from the temple of Gopinatha, both were extremely humble. There was no fault in Madhavendra Puri, but he thought that he had lusted after the Deity’s sweet rice. His only purpose was to taste it so he could prepare similar sweet rice for Gopala, but still, he felt ashamed and left the temple. The pujari also was very humble, as seen by the fact that he offered dandavats to Madhavendra Puri. Generally, brahmans don’t offer dandavats to people, because they are in the highest order in terms of varna. But the priest was humble and could understand how exalted Madhavendra Puri must be for the Lord to have stolen sweet rice for him.
This is the nature, the mood, of devotees, and this is how devotees make advancement—by being humble. Srila Prabhupada asked us to address each other as “Prabhu.” Prabhu means “master.” So, naturally, if the other is my prabhu, what am I? I am his servant. Prabhupada introduced that system so that we would see other devotees as our masters and ourselves as their servants. That is how we make advancement and how we have congenial relationships. Once, a devotee asked Srila Prabhupada what to do when there are conflicts between devotees—how to solve the problem. Srila Prabhupada said, “If each devotee thinks that he is the servant of the servant, then there will be no problem.” But it should be heartfelt. Everything we do is meant to be heartfelt. As Prabhupada said, “We shouldn’t say, ‘Oh Prabhu, can you please bring me my slippers.’” That is not the meaning of prabhu.
When the story about the pot of sweet rice was explained to him in detail, Sri Madhavendra Puri at once became absorbed in ecstatic love of Krsna.
prema dekhi’ sevaka kahe ha-iya vismita
krsna ye inhara vasa,-haya yathocita
Upon seeing the ecstatic loving symptoms manifest in Madhavendra Puri, the priest was struck with wonder. He could understand why Krsna had become so much obliged to him, and he saw that Krsna’s action was befitting.
A devotee can bring Krsna perfectly under his control. This is explained in Srimad-Bhagavatam: ajita jito ’py asi tais tri-lokyam (Bhag 10.14.3). Krsna is never conquered by anyone, but a devotee can conquer Him through devotional service. As stated in the Brahma-samhita (5.33): vedesu durlabham adurlabham atma-bhaktau. One cannot understand Krsna simply by reading Vedic literature. Although all Vedic literature is meant for understanding Krsna, one cannot understand Krsna without being a lover of Krsna. Therefore along with the reading of Vedic literature (svadhyaya), one must engage in devotional worship of the Deity (arcana-vidhi). Together these will enhance the devotee’s transcendental understanding of devotional service. Sravanadi suddha-citte karaye udaya (Cc Madhya 22.107). Love of Godhead is dormant within everyone’s heart, and if one simply follows the standard process of devotional service, it is awakened. But foolish mundane people who simply read about Krsna mistakenly think that He is immoral or criminal.
This verse cited by Srila Prabhupada in the purport from the Tenth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam—jnane prayasam udapasya namanta eva—is from the prayers of Lord Brahma to Krishna. Brahma says that one should completely give up the attempt to understand God through speculative endeavors. Namanta eva: but one should become submissive and hear about Krishna from bona fide devotees. San-mukharitam: then if one does so, offering respects with body, mind, and words, Krishna who is Ajita, unconquerable, becomes conquered.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains in his commentary that this compound word tanu-van-manobhir—tanu means “body”; vak means “words”; and manobhih means “mind”—can be read in different ways. The devotee conquers Krishna, and Krishna’s body, mind, and words are conquered. Thus Krishna with His body always remains by the side of the devotee. With His words, He is always glorifying His devotee, and with His mind He is always thinking of His devotee. And the devotee conquers with his body, mind, and words. With his body he offers obeisances to the messages of Krishna and to the place where the messages are recited and to the preachers who speak the messages, with his words he repeats and glorifies the messages of Godhead, and with his mind he reflects on the messages of Godhead and takes great pleasure in such messages. The same three words also apply to nondevotees, because there are many words in Sanskrit such that when different words are connected to other words in different ways, which is all legitimate according to the rules of Sanskrit grammar, one derives different meanings. So, the devotee offers respects with his body, mind, and words, and Krishna’s body, mind, and words are conquered by His devotee. And nondevotees? Now we are coming to that word ajita, that Krishna is unconquerable. Nondevotees cannot conquer Krishna—not by their bodies, no matter how strong or powerful they are; not by their words, no matter how eloquent they are as orators; and not by their minds, by their mental gymnastics or speculative processes. They cannot conquer Krishna.
This is very encouraging. And the verse says, sthane sthitah: you can remain in your position, in varnasrama-dharma. You don’t have to change your position; you just hear the messages of Krishna from pure devotees and offer respects with body, mind, and words, and you can conquer Krishna, who is unconquerable. This is the point here: the Deity was conquered by Madhavendra Puri’s pure love and stole the sweet rice for him. Therefore Srila Prabhupada says, “The Mayavadis want to become one with God, but we can become controllers of God out of love, pure love.”
Tanu-van-manobhir. The devotee can conquer Krishna with his body, mind, and words. With his body he can touch Krishna; he can catch Him and touch Him. With his words he can call Krishna, “Come, come. Come Krsna. Come.” And with his mind he can capture Krishna in his heart. So many meanings from one verse; the words can be read in so many different ways.
The priest offered his obeisances to Madhavendra Puri and returned to the temple. Then, in ecstasy, Madhavendra Puri ate the sweet rice offered to him by Krsna.
After this, Madhavendra Puri washed the pot and broke it into pieces. He then bound all the pieces in his outer cloth and kept them nicely.
Each day, Madhavendra Puri would eat one piece of the earthen pot, and after eating it he would immediately be overwhelmed with ecstasy. These are wonderful stories.
Having broken the pot and bound the pieces in his cloth, Madhavendra Puri began to think, “The Lord has given me a pot of sweet rice, and when the people hear of this tomorrow morning, there will be great crowds.”
Thinking this, Sri Madhavendra Puri offered his obeisances to Gopinatha on the spot and left Remuna before morning.
Earlier we read that Madhavendra Puri followed the path of ajagara-vrtti. He would not make any effort to get food. He followed the process of the python who just lies with his mouth open and if something comes in his mouth he eats and if nothing comes then he fasts. So, Madhavendra Puri followed that process. If Krishna sent food, he would eat, and if Krishna didn’t send food, he would fast. He depended entirely on Krishna’s mercy, but he kept the pieces of the earthen pot which were part of the Deity’s paraphernalia and had been given to him by the Deity’s mercy and love, and he felt great ecstasy taking a little piece of the pot every day. But Madhavendra Puri reasoned that news of the incident would spread and the next morning there would be great crowds, and he didn’t want crowds of people around him. He didn’t want name or fame. He just wanted to peacefully worship the Lord, chant the holy name, and do his service to Gopala and bring the sandalwood.
But as we will see later, Madhavendra Puri’s reputation spread. He left Remuna before the morning because he wanted to escape the crowds. He wanted to go to Jagannatha Puri, but when he arrived in Puri the news had already reached there and people were very eager to see him and offer him their respects and worship.
So, we can see the difference. Vallabha Bhatta was proud. He wanted people to respect him, but the result was that no one respected him, because he was proud. And Madhavendra Puri was humble. He didn’t want respect. He didn’t want honor. He didn’t want to have a good reputation. He didn’t want any sort of reputation; he wasn’t interested in reputation. But his fame as a devotee spread, and honor came to him even without his desiring it.
We should also be careful to avoid duplicity. Hearing what I just said, someone might think, “People don’t like those who are proud; they like those who are humble. So if I pretend to be humble, people will like me and honor me.” But that duplicity is a great obstacle. We have to be genuine in everything we do. I think of a statement by P.T. Barnum, the famous American entertainer and co-founder of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. He said, “The main thing in show business is sincerity. If you can fake sincerity, you’ve got it made.”
Walking and walking, Madhavendra Puri finally reached Jagannatha Puri, which is also known as Nilacala. There he saw Lord Jagannatha and was overwhelmed with loving ecstasy.
When Madhavendra Puri was overwhelmed in the ecstasy of love of Godhead, he sometimes stood up and sometimes fell to the ground. Sometimes he laughed, danced, and sang. In this way he enjoyed transcendental bliss by seeing the Jagannatha Deity.
When Madhavendra Puri came to Jagannatha Puri, people were aware of his transcendental reputation. Therefore crowds of people came and offered him all sorts of respect in devotion.
Even though one may not like it, reputation, as ordained by providence, comes to him. Indeed, one’s transcendental reputation is known throughout the three worlds.
We sing every morning to Srila Prabhupada: ebe jasa ghusuk tribhuvana, that his fame is spread all over the three worlds.
pratisthara bhaye puri gela palana
krsna-preme pratistha cale sange gadana
Being afraid of his reputation [pratistha] . . .
It is very interesting: that same word was also used in relation to Vallabha Bhatta. He wanted pratistha, distinction, and here the same word is used.
Being afraid of his reputation [pratistha], Madhavendra Puri fled from Remuna. But the reputation brought by love of Godhead is so sublime that it goes along with the devotee, as if following him.
Almost all the conditioned souls within the material world are envious. Jealous people generally turn against one who automatically attains some reputation. This is natural for jealous people. Consequently, when a devotee is fit to receive worldly reputation, he is envied by many people. This is quite natural. When a person, out of humility, does not desire fame, people generally think him quite humble and consequently give him all kinds of fame. Actually a Vaisnava does not hanker after fame or a great reputation. Madhavendra Puri, the king of Vaisnavas, bore his reputation, but he wanted to keep himself outside of the vision of the general populace. He wanted to cover his real identity as a great devotee of the Lord, but when people saw him overwhelmed in ecstasy in love of Godhead, they naturally gave credit to him. Actually a first-class reputation is due Madhavendra Puri because he was a most confidential devotee of the Lord. Sometimes a sahajiya presents himself as being void of desires for reputation (pratistha) in order to become famous as a humble man. Such people cannot actually attain the platform of celebrated Vaisnavas.
Madhavendra Puri wanted to leave Jagannatha Puri because the people were honoring him as a great devotee; however, this threatened to hinder his collecting sandalwood for the Gopala Deity.
In other words, he didn’t like the name and fame that he got in Jagannatha Puri. He didn’t like all the honor and respect. So, for himself, he would have left, but he wasn’t there for himself. He was there for the service of Gopala. So he tolerated all the name and fame and respect and honor of the crowds of people for the sake of his service.
Sri Madhavendra Puri told all the servants of Lord Jagannatha and all the great devotees there the story of the appearance of Sri Gopala.
When all the devotees at Jagannatha Puri heard that the Gopala Deity wanted sandalwood, in great pleasure they all endeavored to collect it.
Those who were acquainted with government officers met with them and begged for camphor and sandalwood, which they collected.
It appears that malayaja-candana (sandalwood) and camphor were used for the Jagannatha Deity. The camphor was used in His aratrika, and the sandalwood was used to smear His body. Both these items were under government control; therefore the devotees had to meet with the government officials. Informing them of all the details, they attained permission to take the sandalwood and camphor outside Jagannatha Puri.
We all have this experience when we sincerely try to serve the Lord. People sometimes help in unexpected ways—or people we would not expect to help, help. Every major festival has such stories. Madhavendra Puri is on the highest platform of devotional service, which we can hope to attain, by the mercy of the Lord and the devotees, only in some far distant future. But still, because we are trying to serve such devotees, trying to serve Srila Prabhupada and the disciplic succession with all sincerity, without duplicity, we also get some of the same results because, as we often say, bhakti is one substance, pure devotion is one entity, and the different stages from sraddha to prema are just different degrees of maturity of the same entity: bhakti, or sraddha. Therefore one gets the same results to some extent all along the way. It is just that the results increase as one progresses.
One brahmana and one servant were given to Madhavendra Puri just to carry the sandalwood. He was also given the necessary traveling expenses.
To get past the toll collectors along the way, Madhavendra Puri was supplied with the necessary release papers from government officers. The papers were placed in his hand.
In this way Madhavendra Puri started for Vrndavana with the burden of sandalwood, and after some days he again reached the village of Remuna and the Gopinatha temple there.
When Madhavendra Puri reached the temple of Gopinatha, he offered his respectful obeisances many times at the lotus feet of the Lord. In the ecstasy of love, he began to dance and sing without cessation.
When the priest of Gopinatha saw Madhavendra Puri again, he offered all respects to him and, giving him the sweet rice prasada, made him eat.
Madhavendra Puri took rest that night in the temple, but toward the end of the night he had another dream.
Madhavendra Puri dreamed that Gopala came before him and said, “O Madhavendra Puri, I have already received all the sandalwood and camphor.
“Now just grind all the sandalwood together with the camphor and then smear the pulp on the body of Gopinatha daily until it is finished.
“There is no difference between My body and Gopinatha’s body. They are one and the same. Therefore if you smear the sandalwood pulp on the body of Gopinatha, you will naturally also smear it on My body. Thus the temperature of My body will be reduced.
Gopala was situated in Vrndavana, which was far from Remuna. In those days, one had to pass through provinces governed by the Mohammedans, who sometimes hindered travelers. Considering the trouble of His devotee, Lord Gopala, the greatest well-wisher of His devotees, ordered Madhavendra Puri to smear the sandalwood pulp on the body of Gopinatha, which was nondifferent from the body of Gopala. In this way the Lord relieved Madhavendra Puri from trouble and inconvenience.
We can see the beautiful relationship between the Lord and the devotee. Madhavendra Puri was ready to do anything for the service of the Lord; he didn’t mind any trouble or inconvenience. But the Lord, out of affection for His pure devotee, wanted to save him from all the trouble and inconvenience he would have faced along the way. So He appeared to him again in a dream and explained, “If you grind the sandalwood and mix it with camphor and smear the pulp on the body of Gopinatha, the heat in My body will be reduced because Gopinatha and I are the same. My body is the same as Gopinatha’s.” Gopala continued:
“You should not hesitate to act according to My order. Believing in Me, just do what is needed.”
After giving these instructions, Gopala disappeared, and Madhavendra Puri awoke. He immediately called for all the servants of Gopinatha, and they came before him.
Madhavendra Puri said, “Smear the body of Gopinatha with this camphor and sandalwood I have brought for Gopala in Vrndavana. Do this regularly every day.
“If the sandalwood pulp is smeared over the body of Gopinatha, then Gopala will be cooled. After all, the Supreme Personality of Godhead is completely independent; His order is all-powerful.”
The servants of Gopinatha became very pleased to hear that in the summer all the sandalwood pulp would be used to anoint the body of Gopinatha.
Madhavendra Puri said, “These two assistants will regularly grind the sandalwood, and you should also get two other people to help. I shall pay their salary.”
In this way Gopinathaji was supplied ground sandalwood pulp daily. The servants of Gopinatha were very pleased with this.
In this way the sandalwood pulp was smeared over the body of Gopinatha until the whole stock was finished. Madhavendra Puri stayed there until that time.
At the end of summer Madhavendra Puri returned to Jagannatha Puri, where he remained with great pleasure during the whole period of Caturmasya.
Thus Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu personally praised [this story was actually told by Lord Chaitanya when He was traveling to Jagannatha Puri and came to the temple of Gopinatha in Remuna on the way] the nectarean characteristics of Madhavendra Puri, and while He related all this to the devotees, He personally relished it.
Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu asked Nityananda Prabhu to judge whether there was anyone within the world as fortunate as Madhavendra Puri.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, “Madhavendra Puri was so fortunate that Krsna personally appeared before him on the plea of delivering milk. Three times the Lord gave orders to Madhavendra Puri in dreams.
“Being obliged because of the loving affairs of Madhavendra Puri, Lord Krsna Himself appeared as the Gopala Deity, and, accepting his service, He liberated the whole world.
“On account of Madhavendra Puri, Lord Gopinatha stole the pot of sweet rice. Thus He became famous as Ksira-cora [the thief who stole the sweet rice].
“Madhavendra Puri smeared the sandalwood pulp over the body of Gopinatha, and in this way he was overpowered with love of Godhead.
“In the provinces of India governed by the Mohammedans, there was much inconvenience in traveling with sandalwood and camphor. Because of this, Madhavendra Puri might have come into trouble. This became known to the Gopala Deity.
“The Lord is very merciful and attached to His devotees, so when Gopinatha was covered with sandalwood pulp, Madhavendra Puri’s labor became successful.”
Caitanya Mahaprabhu placed the standard of Madhavendra Puri’s intense love before Nityananda Prabhu for judgment. “All his loving activities are uncommon,” Caitanya Mahaprabhu said. “Indeed, one is struck with wonder to hear of his activities.”
When the living entity feels spiritual separation from Krsna (krsna-viraha), he has achieved the prime success of life. When one becomes uninterested in material things, he is simply experiencing the other side of attraction for material things. However, feeling separation from Krsna and engaging in the service of the Lord to fulfill His mission constitute the best example of love of Krsna. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu wanted to point out this intense love of Krsna exhibited by Madhavendra Puri. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s devotees later followed in the footsteps of Madhavendra Puri, serving the Lord without personal considerations.
Caitanya Mahaprabhu continued, “Sri Madhavendra Puri used to remain alone. He was completely renounced and always very silent. He was uninterested in everything material, and for fear of talking about mundane things, he always lived without a companion.
“After receiving the transcendental orders of Gopala, this great personality traveled thousands of miles just to collect sandalwood by begging.
“Although Madhavendra Puri was hungry, he would not beg food to eat. This renounced person carried a load of sandalwood for the sake of Sri Gopala.
“Without considering his personal comforts, Madhavendra Puri carried one maund [about eighty-two pounds] of sandalwood and twenty tolas [about eight ounces] of camphor to smear over the body of Gopala. This transcendental pleasure was sufficient for him.
“Since there were restrictions against taking the sandalwood out of the Orissa province, the toll official confiscated the stock, but Madhavendra Puri showed him the release papers given by the government and consequently escaped difficulties.
“Madhavendra Puri was not at all anxious during the long journey to Vrndavana through the provinces governed by the Mohammedans and filled with unlimited numbers of watchmen.
“Although Madhavendra Puri did not have a farthing with him, he was not afraid to pass by the toll officers. His only enjoyment was in carrying the load of sandalwood to Vrndavana for Gopala.
“This is the natural result of intense love of Godhead. The devotee does not consider personal inconveniences or impediments. In all circumstances he wants to serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
It is natural for those who have developed intense love for Krsna not to care for personal inconvenience and impediments. Such devotees are simply determined to execute the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead or His representative, the spiritual master. In all circumstances, even amidst the greatest dangers, they undeviatingly carry on with the greatest determination. This definitely proves the intense love of the servitor. As stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.14.8), tat te ‘nukampam su-samiksamanah: those who seriously desire to get free from the clutches of material existence, who have developed intense love for Krsna, are worthy candidates for going back home, back to Godhead. An intense lover of Krsna does not care for any number of material comforts, scarcity, impediments, or unhappiness. It is said that when one sees apparent unhappiness or distress in a perfect Vaisnava, it is not at all unhappiness for him; rather, it is transcendental bliss. In His Siksastaka (8), Caitanya Mahaprabhu has also instructed, aslisya va pada-ratam pinastu mam [Cc Antya 20.47]. The intense lover of Krsna is never deviated from his service, despite all difficulties and impediments brought before him.
Srila Prabhupada also exhibited this mood of intense love for Krishna and willingness to endure any difficulty for the sake of His mission. Once, in 1971, there were a number of difficulties in the Calcutta temple. The temple president had started a business to raise funds for the temple and had become preoccupied with it, and as a result, the temple was being neglected. In spite of the business, the temple was quite poor. It wasn’t the fault of the business; the temple was just very poor. So, the devotees were disturbed, and they were waiting for Srila Prabhupada to come.
When, eventually, Srila Prabhupada came to Calcutta, he invited all the devotees to come and speak with him. They expressed their concerns to him—their complaints and grievances—and he listened with great sympathy. Then he appointed three officers and said they should meet every week and discuss all the problems and issues, and whatever they decided should be written down in a book of minutes and be followed.
But although Srila Prabhupada listened with great, genuine sympathy and concern, at a certain point his mood changed. He said that his policy—his personal policy—was always “Everything for Krishna; nothing for myself.” He said that when he had traveled to America on the Jaladuta, he had suffered two heart attacks and had thought that if he suffered a third he would die. And then when he got to America there had been so many difficulties and he had suffered physically with headaches and ringing in his ears. He said that he had suffered very intensely—“I do not wish to discuss the details.” But, he told us, “I never complained, because my policy was always, ‘Everything for Krishna; nothing for myself.’ ” He said that there would always be difficulties in the material world and that if we became too absorbed with the difficulties, talking about the difficulties, complaining about the difficulties, we would become diverted from our Krishna consciousness; we would become absorbed in mundane talks. So, it is better to remain absorbed in Krishna consciousness and engage in krsna-katha.
When I think of what Srila Prabhupada said and what he endured, I see that it is not less than what Madhavendra Puri did and endured. Prabhupada’s crossing the Atlantic on the Jaladuta is certainly comparable to Madhavendra Puri’s walking to Jagannatha Puri and starting back to Vrindavan. And the difficulties Prabhupada faced on the way—the seasickness, vomiting, and heart attacks—and then the difficulties he faced in America—moving from place to place, living with hippies who sometimes went crazy on drugs and wanted to attack him—were no less than the difficulties Madhavendra Puri faced with the Mohammedan officers and toll collectors on the way from Puri to Vrindavan. It is the same spirit: intense love for Krishna and manifest externally in a willingness to do anything and everything required for Krishna’s service without personal consideration. Even Prabhupada’s followers, by his mercy and by his immense spiritual presence, were able to act in a similar mood. We might not have had the full realization, but we had the same type of mood of being ready to do whatever was required for Krishna’s service on Prabhupada’s order.
In many ways, we today are still very close to this most extraordinary personality, to Srila Prabhupada, and we should be mindful of who he was and as much as possible try to take up the same mood—not imitating, but following. I have been listening to Tamal Krishna Goswami’s tapes Matchless Memories, and he made a point about taking risks for Krishna, taking risks for spreading Krishna consciousness. When we take risks, he said, we have to depend more on Krishna and that Krishna will manifest Himself to the devotee who takes risks for Him. It doesn’t matter what a devotee’s position is or what a devotee’s service is—it can vary greatly from one devotee to another. Whatever a devotee’s position or service, he or she should be ready to take risks for Krishna. In the course of taking risks for Krishna, the devotee will naturally have to depend on the Lord, and the Lord will reciprocate and the devotee will feel the Lord’s reciprocation and thus their relationship will become firmly established—thick.
“Sri Gopala wanted to show how intensely Madhavendra Puri loved Krsna; therefore He asked him to go to Nilacala to fetch sandalwood and camphor.
“With great trouble and after much labor, Madhavendra Puri brought the load of sandalwood to Remuna. However, he was still very pleased; he discounted all the difficulties.
That is the nature of the pure servant that he is always happy in his service, however difficult it may be.
hantayam adrir abala hari-dasa-varyo
manam tanoti saha-go-ganayos tayor yat
“Of all the devotees, this Govardhana Hill is the best! O my friends, this hill supplies Krsna and Balarama, along with Their calves, cows and cowherd friends, with all kinds of necessities—water for drinking, very soft grass, caves, fruits, flowers and vegetables. In this way the hill offers respects to the Lord. Being touched by the lotus feet of Krsna and Balarama, Govardhana Hill appears very jubilant.” (SB 10.21.18)
In this verse, sung by the gopis—our acharyas say it was actually sung by Srimati Radharani—they glorify Govardhana Hill as hari-dasa-varyo, the best among the servants of Hari, Krishna, and they describe him as pramoda, jubilant. He offered his body for the service of the Lord and devotees. Go-ganayos. He served not only Krishna and Balarama but go-ganayos, the cows and cowherd people, the cowherd boys and the gopis, by providing them fresh grass, water, fruits, herbs—so many things. And in doing so, he was pramoda (jubilant). When the servant serves the master in a jubilant mood, the master is pleased. Someone may serve in a complaining mood; that’s not so pleasing to the master. But when the servant serves in a happy mood, the master is pleased. And when the servant sees that the master is pleased, he becomes more happy. And when the master sees that the servant is happy, he becomes more pleased. And then the servant becomes happier and the master becomes even happier and the servant becomes happier still—pramoda.
Madhavendra Puri had that jubilant mood. Although externally he had to go through so many difficulties, internally he was jubilant, and that pleased Gopala very much.
“With great trouble and after much labor, Madhavendra Puri brought the load of sandalwood to Remuna. However, he was still very pleased . . .
Here the word is ananda.
. . . he discounted all the difficulties.
“To test the intense love of Madhavendra Puri, Gopala, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, ordered him to bring sandalwood from Nilacala, and when Madhavendra Puri passed this examination, the Lord became very merciful to him.
This is Lord Chaitanya speaking.
“Such behavior exhibited in loving service between the devotee and the devotee’s lovable object, Sri Krsna, is transcendental. It is not possible for a common man to understand. Common men do not even have the capacity.”
After saying this, Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu read the famous verse of Madhavendra Puri. That verse is just like the moon. It has spread illumination all over the world.
By continuous rubbing the aroma of Malaya sandalwood increases. Similarly, by considering this verse its importance increases.
As the Kaustubha-mani is considered the most precious of valuable stones, this verse is similarly considered the best of mellow poems.
Actually this verse was spoken by Srimati Radharani Herself, and by Her mercy only was it manifest in the words of Madhavendra Puri.
Only Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has tasted the poetry of this verse. No fourth person is capable of understanding it.
This indicates that only Srimati Radharani, Madhavendra Puri, and Caitanya Mahaprabhu are capable of understanding the purport of this verse.
This is Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami speaking now.
Madhavendra Puri recited this verse again and again at the end of his material existence. Thus uttering this verse, he attained the ultimate goal of life.
This is the verse:
ayi dina-dayardra natha he
dayita bhramyati kim karomy aham
“O My Lord! O most merciful master! O master of Mathura! When shall I see You again? Because of My not seeing You, My agitated heart has become unsteady. O most beloved one, what shall I do now?”
The uncontaminated devotees who strictly depend on the Vedanta philosophy are divided into four sampradayas, or transcendental parties. Out of the four sampradayas, the Sri Madhvacarya-sampradaya was accepted by Madhavendra Puri. Thus he took sannyasa according to the parampara, disciplic succession. Beginning from Madhvacarya down to the spiritual master of Madhavendra Puri, the acarya named Laksmipati, there was no realization of devotional service in conjugal love. Sri Madhavendra Puri introduced the conception of conjugal love for the first time in the Madhvacarya-sampradaya, and this conclusion of the Madhvacarya-sampradaya was revealed by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu when He toured southern India and met the Tattvavadis, who supposedly belonged to the Madhvacarya-sampradaya.
When Sri Krsna left Vrndavana and accepted the kingdom of Mathura, Srimati Radharani, out of ecstatic feelings of separation, expressed how Krsna can be loved in separation. Thus devotional service in separation is central to this verse. Worship in separation is considered by the Gaudiya-Madhva-sampradaya to be the topmost level of devotional service. According to this conception, the devotee thinks of himself as very poor and neglected by the Lord. Thus he addresses the Lord as dina-dayardra natha, as did Madhavendra Puri. Such an ecstatic feeling is the highest form of devotional service. Because Krsna had gone to Mathura, Srimati Radharani was very much affected, and She expressed Herself thus: “My dear Lord, because of Your separation My mind has become overly agitated. Now tell Me, what can I do? I am very poor and You are very merciful, so kindly have compassion upon Me and let Me know when I shall see You.” Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was always expressing the ecstatic emotions of Srimati Radharani that She exhibited when She saw Uddhava at Vrndavana. Similar feelings, experienced by Madhavendra Puri, are expressed in this verse. Therefore, Vaisnavas in the Gaudiya-Madhva-sampradaya say that the ecstatic feelings experienced by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu during His appearance came from Sri Madhavendra Puri through Isvara Puri. All the devotees in the line of the Gaudiya-Madhva-sampradaya accept these principles of devotional service.
As we read about how Madhavendra Puri would take darshan of the Deities in the temples, Gopinatha in Remuna and Jagannatha in Puri—how he would chant and dance in ecstasy, how he would fall to the ground and rise up again—we are reminded of Lord Chaitanya and how He would chant and dance in ecstasy when He would see various Deities in different temples and especially when He saw Lord Jagannatha in Nilacala. That external manifestation of love of Godhead comes from the internal state of love of Godhead of separation from Krishna and ecstasy in meeting Him. That is the mood of Radharani, and Madhavendra Puri had that mood, and through disciplic succession that mood was conveyed through Isvara Puri to Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. So Madhavendra Puri is really the origin of that mood of separation from Krishna in the mood of Radharani after Krishna left Vrindavan. Madhavendra Puri is so important.
When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu recited this verse, He immediately fell to the ground unconscious. He was overwhelmed and had no control over Himself.
When Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu fell to the ground in ecstatic love, Lord Nityananda took Him on His lap. Crying, Caitanya Mahaprabhu then got up again.
Exhibiting ecstatic emotions, the Lord began to run here and there, making resounding noises. Sometimes He laughed, and sometimes cried, and sometimes danced and sang.
Caitanya Mahaprabhu could not recite the whole verse. He simply said, “Ayi dina! Ayi dina!” repeatedly. Thus He could not speak, and profuse tears were in His eyes.
Trembling, perspiration, jubilant tears, shock, fading of the bodily luster, disappointment, moroseness, loss of memory, pride, joy, and humility were all visible in Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s body.
This verse uncovered the door of ecstatic love, and when it was exhibited, the servants of Gopinatha saw Caitanya Mahaprabhu dance in ecstasy.
There’s a little bit more, but I think we’ll conclude the reading. Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami says:
ei ta’ akhyane kahila donhara mahima
prabhura bhakta-vatsalya, ara bhakta-prema-sima
Thus I have described both the transcendental glories of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s affection for His devotees and the highest limit of ecstatic love of God.
sraddha-yukta hana iha sune yei jana
sri-krsna-carane sei paya prema-dhana
One who hears this narration with faith and devotion attains the treasure of love of Godhead at the lotus feet of Sri Krsna.
sri-rupa-raghunatha-pade yara asa
caitanya-caritamrta kahe krsnadasa
Praying at the lotus feet of Sri Rupa and Sri Raghunatha, always desiring their mercy, I, Krsnadasa, narrate Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, following in their footsteps.
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports to Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, Fourth Chapter, describing Sri Madhavendra Puri’s devotional service.
I will be leaving Dallas now. That’s definitely in line with the mood of separation: I feel separation from Sri Sri Radha-Kalachandji and Their servants. But I am sure the separation will purify me and inspire me for my return journey in six weeks, which sounds like six millennia right now. Anyway, in the meantime, we will try to take shelter of the holy names and the devotees. Hare Krishna.
[A talk by Giriraj Swami during Candana-yatra, April 28, 2009, Dallas]