Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is the selfsame Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa. This time, however, He appeared as a great devotee of the Lord in order to preach to the people in general, as well as to religionists and philosophers, about the transcendental position of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the primeval Lord and the cause of all causes. The essence of His preaching is that Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who appeared at Vrajabhūmi (Vṛndāvana) as the son of the King of Vraja (Nanda Mahārāja), is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and is therefore worshipable by all. Vṛndāvana-dhāma is nondifferent from the Lord because the name, fame, form and place where the Lord manifests Himself are all identical with the Lord as absolute knowledge. Therefore Vṛndāvana-dhāma is as worshipable as the Lord. The highest form of transcendental worship of the Lord was exhibited by the damsels of Vrajabhūmi in the form of pure affection for the Lord, and Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu recommends this process as the most excellent mode of worship. He accepts the Śrīmad-Bhāgavata Purāṇa as the spotless literature for understanding the Lord, and He preaches that the ultimate goal of life for all human beings is to attain the stage of premā, or love of God.
Collaborate with us to invoke and fully manifest Srila Prabhupada's Vani-presence.
Vrndavana (SB cantos 1 to 6)
SB Preface and Introduction
The Lord had a very high estimation of the affections of the damsels of Vrajabhūmi (Vṛndāvana) for Kṛṣṇa, and in appreciation of their unalloyed service to the Lord, once Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu chanted the holy names of the gopīs (cowherd girls) instead of the names of the Lord.
The incident of the Lord's accepting the sannyāsa order is very elaborately described in the Caitanya-bhāgavata by Śrīla Vṛndāvana dāsa Ṭhākura.
Thus at the end of His twenty-fourth year the Lord accepted the sannyāsa order of life in the month of Māgha. After accepting this order He became a full-fledged preacher of the Bhāgavata-dharma. Although He was doing the same preaching work in His householder life, when He experienced some obstacles to His preaching He sacrificed even the comfort of His home life for the sake of the fallen souls. In His householder life His chief assistants were Śrīla Advaita Prabhu and Śrīla Śrīvāsa Ṭhākura, but after He accepted the sannyāsa order His chief assistants became Śrīla Nityānanda Prabhu, who was deputed to preach specifically in Bengal, and the six Gosvāmīs (Rūpa Gosvāmī, Sanātana Gosvāmī, Jīva Gosvāmī, Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī, Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī and Raghunātha Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī), headed by Śrīla Rūpa and Sanātana, who were deputed to go to Vṛndāvana to excavate the present places of pilgrimage. The present city of Vṛndāvana and the importance of Vrajabhūmi were thus disclosed by the will of Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
The Lord, after accepting the sannyāsa order, at once wanted to start for Vṛndāvana. For three continuous days He traveled in the Rāḍha-deśa (places where the Ganges does not flow). He was in full ecstasy over the idea of going to Vṛndāvana. However, Śrīla Nityānanda diverted His path and brought Him instead to the house of Advaita Prabhu in Śāntipura.
In the story of Sākṣi-gopāla, in which there was a family misunderstanding by two devotees of the Lord, the Lord, in order to mitigate the turmoil as well as to show specific favor to His servitors, traveled from Vṛndāvana to Vidyānagara, a village in Orissa, in the form of His arcā incarnation. From there the Deity was brought to Cuttack, and thus the temple of Sākṣi-gopāla is even today visited by thousands of pilgrims on the way to Jagannātha Purī.
After some time the Lord again started on His tour towards northern India, and He decided to visit Vṛndāvana and its neighboring places. He passed through the jungles of Jharikhaṇḍa (Madhya Bhārata), and all the wild animals also joined His saṅkīrtana movement. The wild tigers, elephants, bears and deer all together accompanied the Lord, and the Lord accompanied them in saṅkīrtana. By this He proved that by the propagation of the saṅkīrtana movement (congregational chanting and glorifying of the name of the Lord) even the wild animals can live in peace and friendship, and what to speak of men who are supposed to be civilized. No man in the world will refuse to join the saṅkīrtana movement. Nor is the Lord's saṅkīrtana movement restricted to any caste, creed, color or species. Here is direct evidence of His great mission: He allowed even the wild animals to partake in His great movement.
On His way back from Vṛndāvana He first came to Prayāga, where He met Rūpa Gosvāmī along with his younger brother, Anupama. Then He came down to Benares. For two months, He instructed Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī in the transcendental science. The instruction to Sanātana Gosvāmī is in itself a long narration, and full presentation of the instruction will not be possible here. The main ideas are given as follows.
Sanātana Gosvāmī (formerly known as Sākara Mallika) was in the cabinet service of the Bengal government under the regime of Nawab Hussain Shah. He decided to join with the Lord and thus retired from the service. On His way back from Vṛndāvana, when He reached Vārāṇasī, the Lord became the guest of Śrī Tapana Miśra and Candraśekhara, assisted by a Mahārāṣṭra brāhmaṇa. At that time Vārāṇasī was headed by a great sannyāsī of the Māyāvāda school named Śrīpāda Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī. When the Lord was at Vārāṇasī, the people in general became more attracted to Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu on account of His mass saṅkīrtana movement. Wherever He visited, especially the Viśvanātha temple, thousands of pilgrims would follow Him. Some were attracted by His bodily features, and others were attracted by His melodious songs glorifying the Lord.
At Mathurā, the Lord visited all the important places; then He reached Vṛndāvana. Lord Caitanya appeared in the family of a high-caste brāhmaṇa, and over and above that as sannyāsī He was the preceptor for all the varṇas and āśramas. But He used to accept meals from all classes of Vaiṣṇavas. At Mathurā the Sanoḍiyā brāhmaṇas are considered to be in the lower status of society, but the Lord accepted meals in the family of such a brāhmaṇa also because His host happened to be a disciple of the Mādhavendra Purī family.
At Vṛndāvana the Lord took bath in twenty-four important bathing places and ghāṭas. He traveled to all the twelve important vanas (forests). In these forests all the cows and birds welcomed Him, as if He were their very old friend. The Lord also began to embrace all the trees of those forests, and by doing so He felt the symptoms of transcendental ecstasy. Sometimes He fell unconscious, but He was made to regain consciousness by the chanting of the holy name of Kṛṣṇa. The transcendental symptoms that were visible on the body of the Lord during His travel within the forest of Vṛndāvana were all unique and inexplicable, and we have just given a synopsis only.
Some of the important places that were visited by the Lord in Vṛndāvana were Kāmyavana, Ādīśvara, Pāvana-sarovara, Khadiravana, Śeṣaśāyī, Khela-tīrtha, Bhāṇḍīravana, Bhadravana, Śrīvana, Lauhavana, Mahāvana, Gokula, Kāliya-hrada, Dvādaśāditya, Keśī-tīrtha, etc. When He saw the place where the rāsa dance took place, He at once fell down in trance. As long as He remained at Vṛndāvana, He made His headquarters at Akrūra-ghāṭa.
From Vṛndāvana His personal servitor Kṛṣṇadāsa Vipra induced Him to go back to Prayāga to take bath during the Māgha-melā. The Lord acceded to this proposal, and they started for Prayāga. On the way they met with some Pathans, amongst whom there was a learned Moulana. The Lord had some talks with the Moulana and his companions, and the Lord convinced the Moulana that in the Koran also there are descriptions of Bhāgavata-dharma and Kṛṣṇa. All the Pathans were converted to His cult of devotional service.
Transcendental devotional service has five stages of reciprocation:
1. The self-realization stage just after liberation from material bondage is called the śānta, or neutral stage.
2. After that, when there is development of transcendental knowledge of the Lord's internal opulences, the devotee engages himself in the dāsya stage.
3. By further development of the dāsya stage, a respectful fraternity with the Lord develops, and above that a feeling of friendship on equal terms becomes manifest. Both these stages are called sākhya stage, or devotional service in friendship.
4. Above this is the stage of paternal affection toward the Lord, and this is called the vātsalya stage.
5. And above this is the stage of conjugal love, and this stage is called the highest stage of love of God, although there is no difference in quality in any of the above stages. The last stage of conjugal love of God is called the mādhurya stage.
Thus He instructed Rūpa Gosvāmī in devotional science and deputed him to Vṛndāvana to excavate the lost sites of the transcendental pastimes of the Lord. After this, the Lord returned to Vārāṇasī and delivered the sannyāsīs and instructed the elder brother of Rūpa Gosvāmī. We have already discussed this.
The Lord left only eight ślokas of His instructions in writing, and they are known as the Śikṣāṣṭaka. All other literatures of His divine cult were extensively written by the Lord's principal followers, the six Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana, and their followers. The cult of Caitanya philosophy is richer than any other, and it is admitted to be the living religion of the day with the potency for spreading as viśva-dharma, or universal religion. We are glad that the matter has been taken up by some enthusiastic sages like Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Mahārāja and his disciples. We shall eagerly wait for the happy days of Bhāgavata-dharma, or prema-dharma, inaugurated by the Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
SB Canto 1
Liberation from material bondage is, therefore, a by-product of devotional service. Attainment of spiritual knowledge is not sufficient to insure liberation. Such knowledge must be overcoated with devotional service so that ultimately the devotional service alone predominates. Then liberation is made possible. Even the reactionary work of the fruitive workers can lead one to liberation when it is overcoated with devotional service. Karma overcoated with devotional service is called karma-yoga. Similarly, empirical knowledge overcoated with devotional service is called jñāna-yoga. But pure bhakti-yoga is independent of such karma and jñāna because it alone can not only endow one with liberation from conditional life but also award one the transcendental loving service of the Lord.
Therefore, any sensible man who is above the average man with a poor fund of knowledge must constantly remember the Personality of Godhead by hearing about Him, by glorifying Him, by remembering Him and by worshiping Him always, without cessation. That is the perfect way of devotional service. The Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana, who were authorized by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu to preach the bhakti cult, rigidly followed this rule and made immense literatures of transcendental science for our benefit. They have chalked out ways for all classes of men in terms of the different castes and orders of life in pursuance of the teachings of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and similar other authoritative scriptures.
The godly living beings who are all residents of the planets in the spiritual sky are eternal associates of God in different spiritual planets called Hari-dhāma and Maheśa-dhāma. The abode of Lord Kṛṣṇa above all spiritual planets is called Kṛṣṇaloka or Goloka Vṛndāvana, and the perfected living being, by developing seventy-eight percent of the above attributes in fullness, can enter the planet of Kṛṣṇaloka after leaving the present material body.
In this age, devotional service of hearing and repeating the holy glories of the Lord is strongly recommended, and one who takes the vow of renunciation of family life need not imitate the parivrājakācārya like Nārada or Lord Caitanya, but may sit down at some holy place and devote his whole time and energy to hear and repeatedly chant the holy scriptures left by the great ācāryas like the six Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana.
As for the validity of Śrī Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, there are hundreds and thousands of evidences from revealed scriptures, and there are hundreds and thousands of evidences from personal experiences of devotees in various places like Vṛndāvana, Navadvīpa and Purī. Even in the Kaumudī dictionary the synonyms of Kṛṣṇa are given as the son of Yaśodā and the Supreme Personality of Godhead Parabrahman. The conclusion is that simply by hearing the Vedic literature Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, one can have direct connection with the Supreme Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and thereby one can attain the highest perfection of life by transcending worldly miseries, illusion and fearfulness. These are practical tests for one who has actually given a submissive hearing to the readings of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
The word urukrama means "the one whose activities are glorious." Krama means "step." This word urukrama specifically indicates the Lord's incarnation as Vāmana, who covered the whole universe by immeasurable steps. Lord Viṣṇu is powerful, and His activities are so glorious that He has created the spiritual world by His internal potency and the material world by His external potency. By His all-pervading features He is everywhere present as the Supreme Truth, and in His personal feature He is always present in His transcendental abode of Goloka Vṛndāvana, where He displays His transcendental pastimes in all variegatedness. His activities cannot be compared to anyone else's, and therefore the word urukrama is just applicable to Him only.
When the Lord Himself appears amongst us, as Rāma, Nṛsiṁha, Varāha or in His original form as Kṛṣṇa, He performs many wonderful acts which are humanly impossible. As we shall find in the Tenth Canto of this great literature, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa exhibited His humanly impossible activities even from the days of His lying on the lap of His mother. He killed the Pūtanā witch, although she smeared her breast with poison just to kill the Lord. The Lord sucked her breast like a natural baby, and He sucked out her very life also. Similarly, He lifted the Govardhana Hill, just as a boy picks up a frog's umbrella, and stood several days continuously just to give protection to the residents of Vṛndāvana.
Let me therefore offer my respectful obeisances unto the Lord, who has become the son of Vasudeva, the pleasure of Devakī, the boy of Nanda and the other cowherd men of Vṛndāvana, and the enlivener of the cows and the senses.
Generally the Lord is worshiped by the devotees in a reverential attitude, but the Lord is meticulously pleased when the devotee, out of pure affection and love, considers the Lord to be less important than himself. The Lord's pastimes in the original abode of Goloka Vṛndāvana are exchanged in that spirit. The friends of Kṛṣṇa consider Him one of them. They do not consider Him to be of reverential importance. The parents of the Lord (who are all pure devotees) consider Him a child only. The Lord accepts the chastisements of the parents more cheerfully than the prayers of the Vedic hymns. Similarly, He accepts the reproaches of His fiancees more palatably than the Vedic hymns. When Lord Kṛṣṇa was present in this material world to manifest His eternal pastimes of the transcendental realm of Goloka Vṛndāvana as an attraction for the people in general, He displayed a unique picture of subordination before His foster mother, Yaśodā. The Lord, in His naturally childish playful activities, used to spoil the stocked butter of mother Yaśodā by breaking the pots and distributing the contents to His friends and playmates, including the celebrated monkeys of Vṛndāvana, who took advantage of the Lord's munificence. Mother Yaśodā saw this, and out of her pure love she wanted to make a show of punishment for her transcendental child. She took a rope and threatened the Lord that she would tie Him up, as is generally done in the ordinary household. Seeing the rope in the hands of mother Yaśodā, the Lord bowed down His head and began to weep just like a child, and tears rolled down His cheeks, washing off the black ointment smeared about His beautiful eyes.
The Lord's omnipotency is displayed by His simultaneous presence in every place. He is present always in His eternal abode Goloka Vṛndāvana, and still He is present in everyone's heart and even within every invisible atom.
The worshipable object of Bhīṣmadeva is Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa as Pārtha-sārathi, and that of the gopīs is the same Kṛṣṇa in Vṛndāvana as the most attractive Śyāmasundara. Sometimes less intelligent scholars make a mistake and think that the Kṛṣṇa of Vṛndāvana and that of the Battle of Kurukṣetra are different personalities. But for Bhīṣmadeva this misconception is completely removed. Even the impersonalist's object of destination is Kṛṣṇa as the impersonal jyoti, and the yogī's destination of Paramātmā is also Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa is both brahmajyoti and localized Paramātmā, but in brahmajyoti or Paramātmā there is no Kṛṣṇa or sweet relations with Kṛṣṇa. In His personal feature Kṛṣṇa is both Pārtha-sārathi and Śyāmasundara of Vṛndāvana, but in His impersonal feature He is neither in the brahmajyoti nor in the Paramātmā. Great mahātmās like Bhīṣmadeva realize all these different features of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and therefore they worship Lord Kṛṣṇa, knowing Him as the origin of all features.
Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is so attractive for the living beings, especially for the devotees, that it is impossible for them to tolerate separation. The conditioned soul under the spell of illusory energy forgets the Lord, otherwise he cannot. The feeling of such separation cannot be described, but it can simply be imagined by devotees only. After His separation from Vṛndāvana and the innocent rural cowherd boys, girls, ladies and others, they all felt shock throughout their lives, and the separation of Rādhārāṇī, the most beloved cowherd girl, is beyond expression. Once they met at Kurukṣetra during a solar eclipse, and the feeling which was expressed by them is heartrending.
Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is sometimes described as a thief. He is very famous amongst His pure devotees as the Mākhana-cora. He used to steal butter from the houses of neighbors at Vṛndāvana in His early age. Since then He is famous as a thief.
Common men on the earth are very much fond of reaching the heavenly planets because they have heard that comforts of life are far greater there than on the earth. They are now trying to reach the moon by spacecraft. Considering all this, the heavenly planets are more celebrated than the earth. But the celebrity of earth has defeated that of the heavenly planets because of Dvārakā, where Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa reigned as King. Three places, namely Vṛndāvana, Mathurā and Dvārakā, are more important than the famous planets within the universe. These places are perpetually sanctified because whenever the Lord descends on earth He displays His transcendental activities particularly in these three places. They are perpetually the holy lands of the Lord, and the inhabitants still take advantage of the holy places, even though the Lord is now out of their sight.
The heavenly planets may be very famous for offering better facilities of material enjoyment, but as we learn from the Bhagavad-gītā (9.20-21), one has to come back again to the earth planet as soon as the acquired virtue is finished. Dvārakā is certainly more important than the heavenly planets because whoever has been favored with the smiling glance of the Lord shall never come back again to this rotten earth, which is certified by the Lord Himself as a place of misery. Not only this earth but also all the planets of the universes are places of misery because in none of the planets within the universe is there eternal life, eternal bliss and eternal knowledge. Any person engaged in the devotional service of the Lord is recommended to live in one of the above-mentioned three places, namely Dvārakā, Mathurā or Vṛndāvana. Because devotional service in these three places is magnified, those who go there to follow the principles in terms of instructions imparted in the revealed scriptures surely achieve the same result as obtained during the presence of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa. His abode and He Himself are identical, and a pure devotee under the guidance of another experienced devotee can obtain all the results, even at present.
The queens at Dvārakā were svakīya, or duly married wives, but the damsels of Vraja were young friends of the Lord while He was unmarried. The Lord stayed at Vṛndāvana till the age of sixteen, and His friendly relations with the neighboring girls were in terms of parakīya. These girls, as well as the queens, underwent severe penances by taking vows, bathing and offering sacrifices in the fire, as prescribed in the scriptures.
As already explained, the citizens of Dvārakā who lived at the time of Lord Kṛṣṇa's presence there were all liberated souls who descended there along with the Lord as entourage. All were very anxious to have an audience with the Lord, although because of spiritual contact they were never separated from the Lord. Just as the gopīs at Vṛndāvana used to think of Kṛṣṇa while He was away from the village for cowherding engagements, the citizens of Dvārakā were all immersed in thought of the Lord while He was away from Dvārakā to attend the Battle of Kurukṣetra. Some distinguished fiction writer in Bengal concluded that the Kṛṣṇa of Vṛndāvana, that of Mathurā and that of Dvārakā were different personalities. Historically there is no truth in this conclusion. The Kṛṣṇa of Kurukṣetra and the Kṛṣṇa of Dvārakā are one and the same personality.
O lotus-eyed Lord, whenever You go away to Mathurā, Vṛndāvana or Hastināpura to meet Your friends and relatives, every moment of Your absence seems like a million years. O infallible one, at that time our eyes become useless, as if bereft of sun.
When Lord Kṛṣṇa was at Vṛndāvana even the cows would become moistened by affection towards Him, and He would draw milk from the nipples of every affectionate living being, so what to speak of the stepmothers who were already as good as His own mother.
The gopīs at Vṛndāvana could not forget the Lord when the Lord was away in the forest cow herding. When the Lord boy Kṛṣṇa was absent from the village, the gopīs at home used to worry about Him traversing the rough ground with His soft lotus feet.
The great six Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana all came from greatly rich and aristocratic families, but when they adopted the life of mendicants at Vṛndāvana, superficially they appeared to be in wretched conditions of life, but factually they were the richest of all in spiritual values.
Subhadrā: Daughter of Vasudeva and sister of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa. She was not only a very dear daughter of Vasudeva, but also a very dear sister to both Kṛṣṇa and Baladeva. The two brothers and sister are represented in the famous Jagannātha temple of Purī, and the temple is still visited by thousands of pilgrims daily. This temple is in remembrance of the Lord's visit at Kurukṣetra during an occasion of solar eclipse and His subsequent meeting with the residents of Vṛndāvana. The meeting of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa during this occasion is a very pathetic story, and Lord Śrī Caitanya, in the ecstasy of Rādhārāṇī, always pined for Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa at Jagannātha Purī.
Vidura went out from the palace to detach himself from household affairs, especially political intrigues. As referred to hereinbefore, he was practically insulted by Duryodhana's calling him a son of a śūdrāṇī, although it was not out of place to talk loosely in the case of one's grandmother. Vidura's mother, although a śūdrāṇī, was the grandmother of Duryodhana, and funny talks are sometimes allowed between grandmother and grandchildren. But because the remark was an actual fact, it was unpalatable talk to Vidura, and it was accepted as a direct insult. He therefore decided to quit his paternal house and prepare for the renounced order of life. This preparatory stage is called vānaprastha-āśrama, or retired life for traveling and visiting the holy places on the surface of the earth. In the holy places of India, like Vṛndāvana, Hardwar, Jagannātha Purī, and Prayāga, there are many great devotees, and there are still free kitchen houses for persons who desire to advance spiritually. Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira was inquisitive to learn whether Vidura maintained himself by the mercy of the free kitchen houses (chatras).
The ekadaṇḍi-svāmīs are mostly fond of the Himalayas, but the Vaiṣṇava sannyāsīs are fond of Vṛndāvana and Purī.
There is no difference between the Lord's Self and the Lord's transcendental body. The expansions execute differential activities. When the Lord, however, appears in His person as Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, His other plenary portions also join in Him by His inconceivable potency called yogamāyā, and thus the Lord Kṛṣṇa of Vṛndāvana is different from the Lord Kṛṣṇa of Mathurā or the Lord Kṛṣṇa of Dvārakā.
Thus annihilating the gross body of five elements into the three qualitative modes of material nature, he merged them in one nescience and then absorbed that nescience in the self, Brahman, which is inexhaustible in all circumstances.
All that is manifested in the material world is the product of the mahat-tattva-avyakta, and things that are visible in our material vision are nothing but combinations and permutations of such variegated material products. But the living entity is different from such material products. It is due to the living entity's forgetfulness of his eternal nature as eternal servitor of the Lord, and his false conception of being a so-called lord of the material nature, that he is obliged to enter into the existence of false sense enjoyment. Thus a concomitant generation of material energies is the principal cause of the mind's being materially affected. Thus the gross body of five elements is produced. Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira reversed the action and merged the five elements of the body in the three modes of material nature. The qualitative distinction of the body as being good, bad or mediocre is extinguished, and again the qualitative manifestations become merged in the material energy, which is produced from a false sense of the pure living being. When one is thus inclined to become an associate of the Supreme Lord, the Personality of Godhead, in one of the innumerable planets of the spiritual sky, especially in Goloka Vṛndāvana, one has to think always that he is different from the material energy; he has nothing to do with it, and he has to realize himself as pure spirit, Brahman, qualitatively equal with the Supreme Brahman (Parameśvara).
Thus by pure consciousness due to constant devotional remembrance, they attained the spiritual sky, which is ruled over by the Supreme Nārāyaṇa, Lord Kṛṣṇa. This is attained only by those who meditate upon the one Supreme Lord without deviation. This abode of the Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, known as Goloka Vṛndāvana, cannot be attained by persons who are absorbed in the material conception of life. But the Pāṇḍavas, being completely washed of all material contamination, attained that abode in their very same bodies.
According to Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, a person freed from the three modes of material qualities, namely goodness, passion and ignorance, and situated in transcendence can reach the highest perfection of life without change of body. Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī in his Hari-bhakti-vilāsa says that a person, whatever he may be, can attain the perfection of a twice-born brāhmaṇa by undergoing the spiritual disciplinary actions under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master, exactly as a chemist can turn gun metal into gold by chemical manipulation. It is therefore the actual guidance that matters in the process of becoming a brāhmaṇa, even without change of body, or in going back to Godhead without change of body. Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī remarks that the word hi used in this connection positively affirms this truth, and there is no doubt about this factual position. The Bhagavad-gītā (14.26) also affirms this statement of Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī when the Lord says that anyone who executes devotional service systematically without deviation can attain the perfection of Brahman by surpassing the contamination of the three modes of material nature, and when the Brahman perfection is still more advanced by the selfsame execution of devotional service, there is no doubt at all that one can attain the supreme spiritual planet, Goloka Vṛndāvana, without change of body, as we have already discussed in connection with the Lord's returning to His abode without a change of body.
The spiritual planet, Goloka Vṛndāvana, the eternal abode of Lord Kṛṣṇa, is shaped like the whorl of a lotus flower. Even when the Lord descends to any one of the mundane planets, He does so by manifesting His own abode as it is. Thus His feet remain always on the same big whorl of the lotus flower. His feet are also as beautiful as the lotus flower. Therefore it is said that Lord Kṛṣṇa has lotus feet.
The Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, is known as Ajita, or unconquerable, and He is so in every respect. No one can know His actual position. He is unconquerable by knowledge also. We have heard about His dhāma, or place, eternal Goloka Vṛndāvana, but there are many scholars who interpret this abode in different ways. But by the grace of a spiritual master like Śukadeva Gosvāmī, unto whom the King gave himself up as a most humble disciple, one is able to understand the actual position of the Lord, His eternal abode, and His transcendental paraphernalia in that dhāma, or abode.
For a devotee like Mahārāja Parīkṣit, none of the material planets, even the topmost Brahmaloka, is as desirable as Goloka Vṛndāvana, the abode of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the primeval Lord and original Personality of Godhead. This earth is one of the innumerable material planets within the universe, and there are innumerable universes also within the compass of the mahat-tattva. The devotees are told by the Lord and His representatives, the spiritual masters or ācāryas, that not one of the planets within all the innumerable universes is suitable for the residential purposes of a devotee. The devotee always desires to go back home, back to Godhead, just to become one of the associates of the Lord in the capacity of servitor, friend, parent or conjugal lover of the Lord, either in one of the innumerable Vaikuṇṭha planets or in Goloka Vṛndāvana, the planet of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa. All these planets are eternally situated in the spiritual sky, the paravyoma, which is on the other side of the Causal Ocean within the mahat-tattva.
Beyond the limitation of the material creation, which is compared to the cloud in the sky, there is the paravyoma, or the spiritual sky, full of planets called Vaikuṇṭhas. Such Vaikuṇṭha planets are also differently known as the Puruṣottamaloka, Acyutaloka, Trivikramaloka, Hṛṣīkeśaloka, Keśavaloka, Aniruddhaloka, Mādhavaloka, Pradyumnaloka, Saṅkarṣaṇaloka, Śrīdharaloka, Vāsudevaloka, Ayodhyāloka, Dvārakāloka and many other millions of spiritual lokas wherein the Personality of Godhead predominates; all the living entities there are liberated souls with spiritual bodies as good as that of the Lord. There is no material contamination; everything there is spiritual, and therefore there is nothing objectively lamentable. They are full of transcendental bliss, and are without birth, death, old age and disease. And amongst all the above-mentioned Vaikuṇṭhalokas, there is one supreme loka called Goloka Vṛndāvana, which is the abode of the Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa and His specific associates.
SB Canto 2
The first duty of a person in the renounced order of life is to contribute some literary work for the benefit of the human being in order to give him realized direction toward self-realization. Amongst the other duties in the renounced order of life of Śrīla Sanātana, Śrīla Rūpa and the other Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana, the foremost duty discharged by them was to hold learned discourses amongst themselves at Sevākuñja, Vṛndāvana (the spot where Śrī Rādhā-Dāmodara Temple was established by Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī and where the actual samādhi tombs of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī are laid).
When we speak of hearing and chanting, it means that not only should one chant and hear of the holy name of the Lord as Rāma, Kṛṣṇa (or systematically the sixteen names Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare), but one should also read and hear the Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in the association of devotees. The primary practice of bhakti-yoga will cause the seed already sowed in heart to sprout, and by a regular watering process, as mentioned above, the bhakti-yoga creeper will begin to grow. By systematic nurturing, the creeper will grow to such an extent that it will penetrate the coverings of the universe, as we have heard in the previous verses, reach the effulgent sky, the brahmajyoti, and go farther and farther and reach the spiritual sky, where there are innumerable spiritual planets called Vaikuṇṭhalokas. Above all of them is Kṛṣṇaloka, or Goloka Vṛndāvana, wherein the growing creeper enters and takes repose at the lotus feet of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the original Personality of Godhead. When one reaches the lotus feet of Lord Kṛṣṇa at Goloka Vṛndāvana, the watering process of hearing and reading, as also chanting of the holy name in the pure devotional stage, fructifies, and the fruits grown there in the form of love of God are tangibly tasted by the devotee, even though he is here in this material world. The ripe fruits of love of God are relished only by the devotees constantly engaged in the watering process as described above.
For a pure devotee of the Lord, any topics in relation with His name, fame, quality, entourage, etc., are all pleasing, and because such topics have been approved by great devotees like Nārada, Hanumān, Nanda Mahārāja and other inhabitants of Vṛndāvana, certainly such messages are transcendental and pleasing to the heart and soul.
And by the constant hearing of the messages of the Bhagavad-gītā, and later of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, one is assured herein by Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī that he will reach the Personality of Godhead and render Him transcendental loving service in the spiritual planet of the name Goloka Vṛndāvana, which resembles a huge lotus flower.
The life history of many such devotees is almost the same because there is always symmetry between the early lives of all great devotees of the Lord. According to Jīva Gosvāmī, Mahārāja Parīkṣit must have heard about the childhood pastimes of Lord Kṛṣṇa at Vṛndāvana, for he used to imitate the pastimes with his young playmates.
At Vṛndāvana there is a tamarind tree (the place is known as Imlitala) which is said to have existed since the time of Lord Kṛṣṇa.
Only attention engaged in the service of the Lord, especially in dressing and decorating the temple, accompanied by musical kīrtana and spiritual instructions from scriptures, can save the common man from the hellish cinema attractions and rubbish sex-songs broadcast everywhere by radios. If one is unable to maintain a temple at home, he should go to another's temple where all the above performances are regularly executed. Visiting the temple of a devotee and looking at the profusely decorated forms of the Lord well dressed in a well-decorated, sanctified temple naturally infuse the mundane mind with spiritual inspiration. People should visit holy places like Vṛndāvana where such temples and worship of the Deity are specifically maintained.
"O King Rahūgaṇa, the perfectional stage of devotional service, or the paramahaṁsa stage of life, cannot be attained unless one is blessed by the dust of the feet of great devotees. It is never attained by tapasya (austerity), the Vedic worshiping process, acceptance of the renounced order of life, the discharge of the duties of household life, the chanting of the Vedic hymns, or the performance of penances in the hot sun, within cold water or before the blazing fire."
In other words, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the property of His pure unconditional devotees, and as such only the devotees can deliver Kṛṣṇa to another devotee; Kṛṣṇa is never obtainable directly. Lord Caitanya therefore designated Himself as gopī-bhartuḥ pada-kamalayor dāsa-dāsānudāsaḥ (CC Madhya 13.80), or "the most obedient servant of the servants of the Lord, who maintains the gopī damsels at Vṛndāvana." A pure devotee therefore never approaches the Lord directly, but tries to please the servant of the Lord's servants, and thus the Lord becomes pleased, and only then can the devotee relish the taste of the tulasī leaves stuck to His lotus feet. In the Brahma-saṁhitā it is said that the Lord is never to be found by becoming a great scholar of the Vedic literatures, but He is very easily approachable through His pure devotee. In Vṛndāvana all the pure devotees pray for the mercy of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, the pleasure potency of Lord Kṛṣṇa. Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is a tenderhearted feminine counterpart of the supreme whole, resembling the perfectional stage of the worldly feminine nature. Therefore, the mercy of Rādhārāṇī is available very readily to the sincere devotees, and once She recommends such a devotee to Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Lord at once accepts the devotee's admittance into His association.
Mahārāja Parīkṣit did not ask his spiritual master, Śukadeva Gosvāmī, to narrate Lord Kṛṣṇa's pastimes in Vṛndāvana; he wanted to hear first about the creation of the Lord. Śukadeva Gosvāmī did not say that the King should hear about the direct transcendental pastimes of the Lord.
The Lord's pastimes in the internal potency are displayed in His activities in Vṛndāvana, but His external potential works are directed in His features of Kāraṇārṇavaśāyī Viṣṇu, Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu and Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu.
There are two sides of the transcendental manifestations of the Supreme Lord, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. For the pure devotees He is the constant companion, as in the case of His becoming one of the family members of the Yadu dynasty, or His becoming the friend of Arjuna, or His becoming the associate neighbor of the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana, as the son of Nanda-Yaśodā, the friend of Sudāmā, Śrīdāmā and Madhumaṅgala, or the lover of the damsels of Vrajabhūmi, etc. That is part of His personal features. And by His impersonal feature He expands the rays of the brahmajyoti, which is limitless and all-pervasive. Part of this all-pervasive brahmajyoti, which is compared to the sun rays, is covered by the darkness of the mahat-tattva, and this insignificant part is known as the material world. In this material world there are innumerable universes like the one we can experience, and in each of them there are hundreds of thousands of planets like the one we are inhabiting. The mundaners are more or less captivated by the unlimited expansion of the rays of the Lord, but the devotees are concerned more with His personal form, from which everything is emanating (janmādy asya yataḥ (SB 1.1.1)). As the sun rays are concentrated in the sun disc, the brahmajyoti is concentrated in Goloka Vṛndāvana, the topmost spiritual planet in the spiritual sky.
In the spiritual sky His opulence is immeasurable. The Lord resides in all the spiritual planets, the innumerable Vaikuṇṭha planets, by expanding His plenary portions along with His liberated devotee associates, but the impersonalists who want to merge in the existence of the Lord are allowed to merge as one of the spiritual sparks of the brahmajyoti. They have no qualifications for becoming associates of the Lord either in the Vaikuṇṭha planets or in the supreme planet, Goloka Vṛndāvana, described in the Bhagavad-gītā as mad-dhāma and here in this verse as the sva-dhāma of the Lord.
This mad-dhāma or sva-dhāma is described in the Bhagavad-gītā (15.6) as follows:
- na tad bhāsayate sūryo
- na śaśāṅko na pāvakaḥ
- yad gatvā na nivartante
- tad dhāma paramaṁ mama
The Lord's sva-dhāma does not require any sunlight or moonlight or electricity for illumination. That dhāma, or place, is supreme, and whoever goes there never comes back to this material world.
The Vaikuṇṭha planets and the Goloka Vṛndāvana planet are all self-illuminating, and the rays scattered by those sva-dhāma of the Lord constitute the existence of the brahmajyoti.
As enunciated by Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī on the basis of Vedic assurances, brahma-gati means to attain a spiritual form as good as that of the Lord, and in that form the liberated living being eternally lives on one of the spiritual planets situated in the spiritual sky. Attainment of this perfection of life is easily available to a pure devotee of the Lord without his undergoing any difficult method of perfection. Such a devotional life is full of kīrtanam, smaraṇam, īkṣaṇam, etc., as mentioned in the previous verse. One must therefore adopt this simple way of devotional life in order to attain the highest perfection available in any category of the human form of life in any part of the world. When Lord Brahmā met Lord Kṛṣṇa as a playful child at Vṛndāvana, he offered his prayer in which he said:
- śreyaḥ-sṛtiṁ bhaktim udasya te vibho
- kliśyanti ye kevala-bodha-labdhaye
- teṣām asau kleśala eva śiṣyate
- nānyad yathā sthūla-tuṣāvaghātinām
- (SB 10.14.4)
Bhakti-yoga is the highest quality of perfection to be achieved by the intelligent person in lieu of performing a large quantity of spiritual activities.
Lord Caitanya accepted many devotees from communities other than the varṇāśramites, and He Himself declared, to teach us, that He does not belong to any caste or social order of life, but that He is the eternal servant of the servant of the Lord who maintains the damsels of Vṛndāvana (Lord Kṛṣṇa) (CC Madhya 13.80). That is the way of self-realization.
In the Brahma-saṁhitā it is said that the Lord, in His transcendental abode Goloka Vṛndāvana, is accustomed to herding the surabhi cows and is served there by hundreds of thousands of goddesses of fortune. All these goddesses of fortune are manifestations of His transcendental pleasure potency (hlādinī-śakti) in His internal energy, and when the Lord manifested Himself on this earth He partially displayed the activities of His pleasure potency in His rāsa-līlā just to attract the conditioned souls, who are all after the phantasmagoria pleasure potency in degraded sex enjoyment. The pure devotees of the Lord like Śukadeva Gosvāmī, who was completely detached from the abominable sex life of the material world, discussed this act of the Lord's pleasure potency certainly not in relation to sex, but to relish a transcendental taste inconceivable to the mundaners who are after sex life. Sex life in the mundane world is the root-cause of being conditioned by the shackles of illusion, and certainly Śukadeva Gosvāmī was never interested in the sex life of the mundane world. Nor does the manifestation of the Lord's pleasure potency have any connection with such degraded things. Lord Caitanya was a strict sannyāsī, so much so that He did not allow any woman to come near Him, not even to bow down and offer respects. He never even heard the prayers of the deva-dāsīs offered in the temple of Jagannātha because a sannyāsī is forbidden to hear songs sung by the fair sex. Yet even in the rigid position of a sannyāsī He recommended the mode of worship preferred by the gopīs of Vṛndāvana as the topmost loving service possible to be rendered to the Lord. And Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is the principal head of all such goddesses of fortune, and therefore She is the pleasure counterpart of the Lord and is nondifferent from Kṛṣṇa.
There is a common proverb that a confectioner is never attracted by sweetmeats. The confectioner, who is always manufacturing sweetmeats, has very little desire to eat them; similarly, the Lord, by His pleasure potential powers, can produce innumerable spiritual beauties and not be the least attracted by the false beauties of material creation. One who does not know alleges foolishly that Lord Kṛṣṇa enjoyed women in His rāsa-līlā in Vṛndāvana, or with His sixteen thousand married wives at Dvārakā.
Lord Kṛṣṇa saved His foster father, Nanda Mahārāja, from the fear of the demigod Varuṇa and released the cowherd boys from the caves of the mountain, for they were placed there by the son of Maya. Also, to the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana, who were busy working during daytime and sleeping soundly at night because of their hard labor in the day, Lord Kṛṣṇa awarded promotion to the highest planet in the spiritual sky. All these acts are transcendental and certainly prove without any doubt His Godhood.
Nanda Mahārāja, the foster father of Lord Kṛṣṇa, went to take his bath in the River Yamunā in the dead of night, mistakenly thinking that the night was already over; thus the demigod Varuṇa took him to the Varuṇa planet just to have a look at the Personality of Godhead Lord Kṛṣṇa, who appeared there to release His father. Actually there was no arrest of Nanda Mahārāja by Varuṇa because the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana were always engaged in thinking of Kṛṣṇa, in constant meditation on the Personality of Godhead in a particular form of samadhi, or trance of bhakti-yoga. They had no fear of the miseries of material existence. In the Bhagavad-gītā it is confirmed that to be in association with the Supreme Personality of Godhead by full surrender in transcendental love frees one from the miseries inflicted by the laws of material nature. Here it is clearly mentioned that the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana were extensively busy in the hard labor of their day's work, and due to the day's hard labor they were engaged in sound sleep at night. So practically they had very little time to devote to meditation or to the other paraphernalia of spiritual activities. But factually they were engaged in the highest spiritual activities only. Everything done by them was spiritualized because everything was dovetailed in their relationship with Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa. The central point of activities was Kṛṣṇa, and as such the so-called activities in the material world were saturated with spiritual potency. That is the advantage of the way of bhakti-yoga. One should discharge one's duty on Lord Kṛṣṇa's behalf, and all one's actions will be saturated with Kṛṣṇa thought, the highest pattern of trance in spiritual realization.
When the cowherd men of Vṛndāvana, under instruction of Kṛṣṇa, stopped offering sacrifice to the heavenly King, Indra, the whole tract of land known as Vraja was threatened with being washed away by constant heavy rains for seven days. Lord Kṛṣṇa, out of His causeless mercy upon the inhabitants of Vraja, held up the hill known as Govardhana with one hand only, although He was only seven years old. He did this to protect the animals from the onslaught of water.
Children play with an umbrella generally known as a frog's umbrella, and Lord Kṛṣṇa, when He was only seven years old, could snatch the great hill known as the Govardhana Parvata at Vṛndāvana and hold it for seven days continuously with one hand, just to protect the animals and the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana from the wrath of Indra, the heavenly King, who had been denied sacrificial offerings by the inhabitants of Vrajabhūmi.
When the Lord was engaged in His pastimes of the rāsa dance in the forest of Vṛndāvana, enlivening the sexual desires of the wives of the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana by sweet and melodious songs, a demon of the name Śaṅkhacūḍa, a rich follower of the treasurer of heaven (Kuvera), kidnapped the damsels, and the Lord severed his head from his trunk.
Brahmājī also described the highest planet of the Vaikuṇṭhaloka as Goloka Vṛndāvana, where the Lord resides as a cowherd boy keeping transcendental surabhi cows and surrounded by hundreds and thousands of goddesses of fortune.
The Lord lifted the Govardhana Hill when He was only seven years old and protected His pure devotees at Vṛndāvana from the wrath of Indra, who was overflooding the place with rain.
Brahmājī desires to worship the original Personality of Godhead, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who resides in the topmost Vaikuṇṭha planet, known as Goloka Vṛndāvana, where He is in the habit of keeping surabhi cows as a cowboy and where He is served by hundreds and thousands of goddesses of fortune (the gopīs) with love and respect.
Some may argue, why not then relish the transcendental līlā of the Lord as exhibited in the land of Mathurā and Vṛndāvana, which are sweeter than anything in the world? Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura replies that the pastimes of the Lord in Vṛndāvana are meant to be relished by advanced devotees of the Lord.
By development of pure devotional service one can factually know the Lord as He is and thus be trained in the bona fide service of the Lord and be allowed to enter into the direct association of the Lord in so many capacities. The highest glorious association with the Lord is made possible in the planet of Goloka Vṛndāvana, where Lord Kṛṣṇa enjoys Himself with the gopīs and His favorite animals, the surabhi cows. A description of this transcendental land of Kṛṣṇa is given in the Brahma-saṁhitā, which is considered by Lord Śrī Caitanya to be the most authentic literature in this connection.
SB Canto 3
According to the Gauḍīya acintya-bhedābheda-tattva philosophy, anything which satisfies the senses of the Supreme Lord, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, is also Śrī Kṛṣṇa. For example, Śrī Vṛndāvana-dhāma is nondifferent from Śrī Kṛṣṇa (tad-dhāma vṛndāvanam) because at Vṛndāvana the Lord enjoys the transcendental bliss of His internal potency. Similarly, the house of the Pāṇḍavas was also the source of transcendental bliss for the Lord. It is mentioned here that the Lord identified the house with His own Self. Thus the house of the Pāṇḍavas was as good as Vṛndāvana, and Vidura should not have given up that place of transcendental bliss. Therefore the reason for his quitting the house was not exactly family misunderstanding; rather, Vidura took the opportunity to meet Ṛṣi Maitreya and discuss transcendental knowledge. For a saintly person like Vidura, any disturbance due to worldly affairs is insignificant. Such disturbances, however, are sometimes favorable for higher realization, and therefore Vidura took advantage of a family misunderstanding in order to meet Maitreya Ṛṣi.
The tract of land comprising about one hundred square miles from modern Delhi to the Mathurā district in Uttar Pradesh, including a portion of the Gurgaon district in Punjab (East India), is considered to be the topmost place of pilgrimage in all of India. This land is sacred because Lord Kṛṣṇa traveled through it many times. From the very beginning of His appearance, He was at Mathurā in the house of His maternal uncle Kaṁsa, and He was reared by His foster father Mahārāja Nanda at Vṛndāvana. There are still many devotees of the Lord lingering there in ecstasy in search of Kṛṣṇa and His childhood associates, the gopīs. It is not that such devotees meet Kṛṣṇa face to face in that tract of land, but a devotee's eagerly searching after Kṛṣṇa is as good as his seeing Him personally. How this is so cannot be explained, but it is factually realized by those who are pure devotees of the Lord. Philosophically, one can understand that Lord Kṛṣṇa and His remembrance are on the absolute plane and that the very idea of searching for Him at Vṛndāvana in pure God consciousness gives more pleasure to the devotee than seeing Him face to face.
Lord Śiva, one of the three qualitative incarnations of the Personality of Godhead, is the plenary expansion of the Lord. Kārttikeya, born of him, is on the level of Pradyumna, another son of Lord Kṛṣṇa. When Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa descends into the material world, all His plenary portions also appear with Him to exhibit different functions of the Lord. But for the pastimes at Vṛndāvana, all functions are performed by the Lord's different plenary expansions.
Please tell me whether Akrūra, the son of Śvaphalka, is doing well. He is a faultless soul surrendered unto the Personality of Godhead. He once lost his mental equilibrium due to his ecstasy of transcendental love and fell down on the dust of a road which was marked with the footprints of Lord Kṛṣṇa.
When Akrūra came to Vṛndāvana in search of Kṛṣṇa, he saw the footprints of the Lord on the dust of Nanda-grāma and at once fell on them in ecstasy of transcendental love. This ecstasy is possible for a devotee who is fully absorbed in incessant thoughts of Kṛṣṇa.
In the incarnation of Lord Kṛṣṇa, Aniruddha appeared as the son of the Lord. Lord Kṛṣṇa in Dvārakā is the Vāsudeva expansion of the original group. The original Lord Kṛṣṇa never leaves Goloka Vṛndāvana. All the plenary expansions are one and the same viṣṇu-tattva, and there is no difference in Their potency.
The purpose of pilgrimages is to remember the Lord constantly, and therefore the Lord is known as tīrtha-kīrti. The purpose of going to a place of pilgrimage is to get the chance to glorify the Lord. Even today, although times have changed, there are still pilgrimage sites in India. For example, in Mathurā and Vṛndāvana, where we had a chance to stay, people are awake from early in the morning at 4 A.M. up until nighttime and are constantly engaged, some way or other, in chanting the holy glories of the Lord. The beauty of such a pilgrimage site is that automatically one remembers the holy glories of the Lord.
A living entity can live either on the material plane or in the transcendental abode of the Lord, in accordance with his existential condition. The conditional changes of the living entity are explained in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta in the instructions given to Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī by Lord Śrī Caitanya: "The living entities all over the universes are enjoying the effects of the respective fruitive results of their own work, life after life. Out of all of them, some may be influenced by the association of pure devotees and thus get the chance to execute devotional service by attainment of taste. This taste is the seed of devotional service, and one who is fortunate enough to have received such a seed is advised to sow it in the core of his heart. As one cultivates a seed by pouring water to fructify it, the seed of devotional service sown in the heart of the devotee may be cultured by pouring water in the form of hearing and chanting of the holy name and pastimes of the Lord. The creeper of devotional service, so nourished, gradually grows, and the devotee, acting as a gardener, goes on pouring the water of constant hearing and chanting. The creeper of devotional service gradually grows so high that it passes through the entire material universe and enters into the spiritual sky, growing still higher and higher until it reaches the planet Goloka Vṛndāvana. The devotee-gardener is in touch with the abode of the Lord even from the material plane by dint of performing devotional service to the Lord simply by hearing and chanting. As a creeper takes shelter of another, stronger tree, similarly the creeper of devotional service, nourished by the devotee, takes shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord and thus becomes fixed. When the creeper is fixed, then the fruit of the creeper comes into existence, and the gardener who nourished it is able to enjoy this fruit of love, and his life becomes successful." That Uddhava attained this stage is evident from his dealings. He could simultaneously reach the supreme planet and still appear in this world.
In the Vedas it is said that the Supreme Lord or the Paramātmā cannot be understood simply by the strength of one's erudition or power of mental speculation: nāyam ātmā pravacanena labhyo na medhayā na bahunā śrutena (Kaṭha Upaniṣad 1.2.23). He can be known only by one who has the mercy of the Lord. The Yādavas were all exceptionally learned and experienced, but in spite of their knowing the Lord as the one who lives in everyone's heart, they could not understand that He is the original Personality of Godhead. This lack of knowledge was not due to their insufficient erudition; it was due to their misfortune. In Vṛndāvana, however, the Lord was not even known as the Paramātmā because the residents of Vṛndāvana were pure unconventional devotees of the Lord and could think of Him only as their object of love. They did not know that He is the Personality of Godhead.
The Lord Himself comes to display His transcendental pastimes, typically represented at Vṛndāvana, Mathurā and Dvārakā. He appears just to attract the conditioned souls back to Godhead, back home to the eternal world. But for want of sufficient piety, the onlookers are not attracted by such pastimes of the Lord. In Bhagavad-gītā it is said that only those who have completely surpassed the way of sinful reaction can engage themselves in the transcendental loving service of the Lord.
In the Vaikuṇṭhalokas the Lord is merciful toward the liberated or nitya-mukta living entities, but in His pastimes in the mortal world He is merciful even to the fallen souls who are nitya-baddha, or conditioned forever. The six excellent opulences which He displayed in the mortal world by the agency of His internal potency, yoga-māyā, are rare even in the Vaikuṇṭhalokas. All His pastimes were manifested not by the material energy but by His spiritual energy. The excellence of His rāsa-līlā at Vṛndāvana and His householder life with sixteen thousand wives is wonderful even for Nārāyaṇa in Vaikuṇṭha and is certainly so for other living entities within this mortal world. His pastimes are wonderful even for other incarnations of the Lord, such as Śrī Rāma, Nṛsiṁha and Varāha. His opulence was so superexcellent that His pastimes were adored even by the Lord of Vaikuṇṭha, who is not different from Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself.
In His boyhood at Vṛndāvana, Lord Kṛṣṇa was notorious as a teasing friend in transcendental love to all the girls His age. His love for them was so intense that there is no comparison to that ecstasy, and the damsels of Vraja were so much attached to Him that their affection excelled that of the great demigods like Brahmā and Śiva. Lord Kṛṣṇa finally admitted His defeat before the transcendental affection of the gopīs and declared that He was unable to repay them for their unalloyed affection. Although the gopīs were seemingly anguished by the Lord's teasing behavior, when Kṛṣṇa would leave them they could not tolerate the separation and used to follow Him with their eyes and minds. They were so stunned by the situation that they could not finish their household duties. No one could excel Him even in the dealing of love exchanged between boys and girls. It is said in the revealed scriptures that Lord Kṛṣṇa personally never goes beyond the boundary of Vṛndāvana. He remains there eternally because of the transcendental love of the inhabitants. Thus even though He is not visible at present, He is not away from Vṛndāvana for a moment.
The Lord's personal abode is called Goloka Vṛndāvana, and the abodes where His plenary expansions reside are called the Vaikuṇṭhas, where the Lord is present as Nārāyaṇa. Love of Godhead is dormant in every living entity, and the entire process of devotional service unto the Lord is meant for awakening this dormant, eternal love of Godhead. But there are degrees of such transcendental awakening. Those whose love of God is awakened to the fullest extent go back to the Goloka Vṛndāvana planet in the spiritual sky, whereas persons who have just awakened to love of Godhead by accident or association are transferred to the Vaikuṇṭha planets. Essentially there is no material difference between Goloka and Vaikuṇṭha, but in the Vaikuṇṭhas the Lord is served in unlimited opulence, whereas in Goloka the Lord is served in natural affection.
It is the business of the asuras to try to kill the Supreme Personality of Godhead or to prove by all means that there is no God or that Kṛṣṇa is an ordinary human being and not God. Lord Kṛṣṇa is not affected by such determination of men of Kaṁsa's class, but in order to play the role of a child He agreed to be carried by His father to the cow pastures of Nanda Mahārāja because Vasudeva was afraid of Kaṁsa. Nanda Mahārāja was due to receive Him as his child, and Yaśodāmayī was also to enjoy the childhood pastimes of the Lord, and therefore to fulfill everyone's desire, He was carried from Mathurā to Vṛndāvana just after His appearance in the prison house of Kaṁsa. He lived there for eleven years and completed all His fascinating pastimes of childhood, boyhood and adolescence with His elder brother, Lord Baladeva, His first expansion. Vasudeva's thought of protecting Kṛṣṇa from the wrath of Kaṁsa is part of a transcendental relationship. The Lord enjoys more when someone takes Him as his subordinate son who needs the protection of a father than He does when someone accepts Him as the Supreme Lord. He is the father of everyone, and He protects everyone, but when His devotee takes it for granted that the Lord is to be protected by the devotee's care, it is a transcendental joy for the Lord. Thus when Vasudeva, out of fear of Kaṁsa, carried Him to Vṛndāvana, the Lord enjoyed it; otherwise, He had no fear from Kaṁsa or anyone else.
The forests on the shore of the Yamunā are all beautiful gardens full of trees of mango, jackfruit, apples, guava, oranges, grapes, berries, palmfruit and so many other plants and fragrant flowers. And because the forest was on the bank of the Yamunā, naturally there were ducks, cranes and peacocks on the branches of the trees. All these trees and birds and beasts were pious living entities born in the transcendental abode of Vṛndāvana just to give pleasure to the Lord and His eternal associates, the cowherd boys.
While playing like a small child with His associates, the Lord killed many demons, including Aghāsura, Bakāsura, Pralambāsura and Gardabhāsura. Although He appeared at Vṛndāvana just as a boy, He was actually like the covered flames of a fire. As a small particle of fire can kindle a great fire with fuel, so the Lord killed all these great demons, beginning from His babyhood in the house of Nanda Mahārāja. The land of Vṛndāvana, the Lord's childhood playground, still remains today, and anyone who visits these places enjoys the same transcendental bliss, although the Lord is not physically visible to our imperfect eyes. Lord Caitanya recommended this land of the Lord as identical with the Lord and therefore worshipable by the devotees. This instruction is taken up especially by the followers of Lord Caitanya known as the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas. And because the land is identical with the Lord, devotees like Uddhava and Vidura visited these places five thousand years ago in order to have direct contact with the Lord, visible or not visible, Thousands of devotees of the Lord are still wandering in these sacred places of Vṛndāvana, and all of them are preparing themselves to go back home, back to Godhead.
When the Lord displayed His activities just suitable for childhood, He was visible only to the residents of Vṛndāvana. Sometimes He would cry and sometimes laugh, just like a child, and while so doing He would appear like a lion cub.
If anyone wants to enjoy the childhood pastimes of the Lord, then he has to follow in the footsteps of the residents of Vraja like Nanda, Upananda and other parental inhabitants. A child may insist on having something and cry like anything to get it, disturbing the whole neighborhood, and then immediately after achieving the desired thing, he laughs. Such crying and laughing is enjoyable to the parents and elderly members of the family, so the Lord would simultaneously cry and laugh in this way and merge His devotee-parents in the humor of transcendental pleasure. These incidents are enjoyable only by the residents of Vraja like Nanda Mahārāja, and not by the impersonalist worshipers of Brahman or Paramātmā. Sometimes when attacked in the forest by demons, Kṛṣṇa would appear struck with wonder, but He looked on them like the cub of a lion and killed them. His childhood companions would also be struck with wonder, and when they came back home they would narrate the story to their parents, and everyone would appreciate the qualities of their Kṛṣṇa. Child Kṛṣṇa did not belong only to His parents, Nanda and Yaśodā; He was the son of all the elderly inhabitants of Vṛndāvana and the friend of all contemporary boys and girls. Everyone loved Kṛṣṇa. He was the life and soul of everyone, including the animals, the cows and the calves.
The atheist Kaṁsa wanted to kill Kṛṣṇa just after His birth. He failed to do so, but later on he got information that Kṛṣṇa was living in Vṛndāvana at the house of Nanda Mahārāja. He therefore engaged many wizards who could perform wonderful acts and assume any form they liked. All of them appeared before the child-Lord in various forms, like Agha, Baka, Pūtanā, Śakaṭa, Tṛṇāvarta, Dhenuka and Gardabha, and they tried to kill the Lord at every opportunity.
The inhabitants of Vṛndāvana were perplexed by great difficulties because a certain portion of the Yamunā was poisoned by the chief of the reptiles (Kāliya). The Lord chastised the snake-king within the water and drove him away, and after coming out of the river, He caused the cows to drink the water and proved that the water was again in its natural state.
O sober Vidura, King Indra, his honor having been insulted, poured water incessantly on Vṛndāvana, and thus the inhabitants of Vraja, the land of cows, were greatly distressed. But the compassionate Lord Kṛṣṇa saved them from danger with His pastime umbrella, the Govardhana Hill.
In the third season of the year, the Lord enjoyed as the central beauty of the assembly of women by attracting them with His pleasing songs in an autumn night brightened by moonshine.
Before leaving the land of cows, Vṛndāvana, the Lord pleased His young girl friends, the transcendental gopīs, in His rāsa-līlā pastimes. Here Uddhava stopped his description of the Lord's activities.
King Kaṁsa's death is only briefly described here because such pastimes are vividly and elaborately described in the Tenth Canto. The Lord proved to be a worthy son of His parents even at the age of sixteen years. Both brothers, Lord Kṛṣṇa and Lord Baladeva, went to Mathurā from Vṛndāvana and killed Their maternal uncle, who had given so much trouble to Their parents, Vasudeva and Devakī. Kaṁsa was a great giant, and Vasudeva and Devakī never thought that Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma (Baladeva) would be able to kill such a great and strong enemy.
The gopīs in Vṛndāvana were neither highly learned scholars nor mystic yogīs. They had spontaneous love for the Lord, and thus He became their heart and soul, and the gopīs also became the heart and soul of the Lord. Lord Caitanya approved the relationship of the gopīs with the Lord as supreme. Herein the Lord's attitude towards Uddhava was more intimate than with Maitreya Muni.
The words paramāṁ sthitim are significant in this verse. The Lord's transcendental situation was not even spoken of to Brahmā when the four verses of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (2.9.33-36) were explained. This transcendental situation comprises His dealings with devotees engaged in transcendental loving service, as exhibited at Dvārakā and Vṛndāvana. When the Lord explained His specific transcendental situation, it was meant for Uddhava only, and therefore Uddhava particularly said mahyam ("unto me"), although the great sage Maitreya was also sitting there.
The Supreme Lord is eternally distinguished from the living entities by His internal potency, although He is also understood in His impersonal feature by self-realized intelligence. Devotees of the Lord, therefore, offer all respectful obeisances unto the impersonal feature of the Lord. The word rāsa is significant herein. The rāsa dance is performed by Lord Kṛṣṇa in the company of the cowherd damsels at Vṛndāvana, and the Personality of Godhead Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu is also engaged in rāsa enjoyment with His external potency, by which He creates, maintains and dissolves the entire material manifestation.
It is cited herein by the Lord that during his daytime Brahmā would see Him as Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa. He would appreciate how the Lord expanded Himself into all the calves during His childhood at Vṛndāvana, he would know how Yaśodāmayī saw all the universes and planetary systems within the mouth of Kṛṣṇa during His playful childhood pastimes, and he would also see that there are many millions of Brahmās during the appearance of Lord Kṛṣṇa in Brahmā's daytime.
Lord Kṛṣṇa was never reduced in His position by becoming a cowherd boy or by offering respect to Sudāmā Brāhmaṇa or His other devotees like Nanda Mahārāja, Vasudeva, Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira and the Pāṇḍavas' mother, Kuntī. Everyone knew that He was the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, yet His behavior was exemplary. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha (Bs. 5.1); His form is completely spiritual, full of bliss and knowledge, and it is eternal. Because the living entities are His parts and parcels, originally they also belong to the same quality of eternal form as the Lord, but when they come in contact with māyā, the material potency, due to their forgetfulness their existential constitution is covered. We should try to understand the appearance of Lord Kṛṣṇa in this spirit, as the Kumāras pray to Him. He is eternally a cowherd boy at Vṛndāvana, He is eternally the leader of the Battle of Kurukṣetra, and He is eternally the opulent prince of Dvārakā and the lover of the damsels of Vṛndāvana; all His appearances are meaningful because they show His real characteristics to the conditioned souls, who have forgotten their relationship with the Supreme Lord.
Not only are demons always anxious to kill God with words and philosophy, but they think that if one is materially powerful he can kill God with materially fatal weapons. Demons like Kaṁsa, Rāvaṇa and Hiraṇyakaśipu thought themselves powerful enough to kill even God. Demons cannot understand that God, by His multifarious potencies, can work so wonderfully that He can be present everywhere and still remain in His eternal abode, Goloka Vṛndāvana.
Śrīvatsa is a curl of white hair on the chest of the Lord which is a special sign of His being the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In Vaikuṇṭhaloka or in Goloka Vṛndāvana, the inhabitants are exactly of the same form as the Personality of Godhead, but by this Śrīvatsa mark on the chest of the Lord He is distinguished from all others.
This verse confirms the statement in Bhagavad-gītā that the Lord appears as He is from His transcendental abode for the sake of killing the miscreants and saving the devotees. By killing the demon Hiraṇyākṣa He fulfilled His promise to kill the demons and always protect the demigods headed by Brahmā. The statement that the Lord returned to His own abode indicates that He has His own particular transcendental residence. Since He is full of all energies, He is all-pervasive in spite of His residing in Goloka Vṛndāvana, just as the sun, although situated in a particular place within the universe, is present by its sunshine throughout the universe.
Vidura was purified of all passion by wandering in sacred places, and at last he reached Hardwar, where he met the great sage who knew the science of spiritual life, and he inquired from him. Śaunaka Ṛṣi therefore asked: What more did Vidura inquire from Maitreya?
Here the words virajās tīrtha-sevayā refer to Vidura, who was completely cleansed of all contamination by traveling to places of pilgrimage. In India there are hundreds of sacred places of pilgrimage, of which Prayāga, Hardwar, Vṛndāvana and Rāmeśvaram are considered principal. After leaving his home, which was full of politics and diplomacy, Vidura wanted to purify himself by traveling to all the sacred places, which are so situated that anyone who goes there automatically becomes purified. This is especially true in Vṛndāvana; any person may go there, and even if he is sinful he will at once contact an atmosphere of spiritual life and will automatically chant the names of Kṛṣṇa and Rādhā. That we have actually seen and experienced. It is recommended in the śāstras that after retiring from active life and accepting the vānaprastha (retired) order, one should travel everywhere to places of pilgrimage in order to purify himself. Vidura completely discharged this duty, and at last he reached Kuśāvarta, or Hardwar, where the sage Maitreya was sitting.
The Emperor Svāyambhuva Manu, the son of Lord Brahmā, who is well known for his righteous acts, has his seat in Brahmāvarta and rules over the earth with its seven oceans.
Sometimes it is stated that Brahmāvarta is a part of Kurukṣetra or that Kurukṣetra itself is situated in Brahmāvarta, because the demigods are recommended to perform spiritual ritualistic performances in Kurukṣetra. But in others' opinion, Brahmāvarta is a place in Brahmaloka, where Svāyambhuva ruled. There are many places on the surface of this earth which are also known in the higher planetary systems; we have places on this planet like Vṛndāvana, Dvārakā and Mathurā, but they are also eternally situated in Kṛṣṇaloka. There are many similar names on the surface of the earth, and it may be that in the Boar age Svāyambhuva Manu ruled this planet, as stated here.
It is still the system to go to places of pilgrimage and take a bath in the water there. In Vṛndāvana the people take baths in the River Yamunā. In other places, such as Prayāga, they take baths in the River Ganges. The words tīrtham āśiṣāṁ yāpakam refer to the fulfillment of desires by bathing in a place of pilgrimage. Kardama Muni advised his good wife to bathe in Lake Bindu-sarovara so that she could revive the former beauty and luster of her body.
The Bhāgavatam is especially meant for the pure devotees, who always engage in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, in the activities of the Lord, and always glorify these transcendental activities. Pure devotees worship the transcendental activities of the Lord in Vṛndāvana, Dvārakā and Mathurā as they are narrated in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and other purāṇas. The Māyāvādī philosophers completely reject them as stories, but actually they are great and worshipable subject matters and thus are relishable only for devotees. That is the difference between a Māyāvādī and a pure devotee.
Here the word vilāsa is very important. Vilāsa refers to the activities or pastimes of the Lord. It is a prescribed duty in temple worship that not only should one visit the temple to see the Deity nicely decorated, but at the same time he should hear the recitation of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Bhagavad-gītā or some similar literature, which is regularly recited in the temple. It is the system in Vṛndāvana that in every temple there is recitation of the śāstras. Even third-class devotees who have no literary knowledge or no time to read Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam or Bhagavad-gītā get the opportunity to hear about the pastimes of the Lord. In this way their minds may remain always absorbed in the thought of the Lord—His form, His activities and His transcendental nature. This state of Kṛṣṇa consciousness is a liberated stage. Lord Caitanya, therefore, recommended five important processes in the discharge of devotional service: (1) to chant the holy names of the Lord, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare, (2) to associate with devotees and serve them as far as possible, (3) to hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, (4) to see the decorated temple and the Deity and, if possible, (5) to live in a place like Vṛndāvana or Mathurā. These five items alone can help a devotee achieve the highest perfectional stage. This is confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā and here in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. That third-class devotees can also imperceptibly achieve liberation is accepted in all Vedic literatures.
We have experience that the sun is situated in one place, but the sunlight is diffused all around for millions and millions of miles. That is our practical experience. Similarly, although the supreme light is situated in His personal abode, Vaikuṇṭha or Vṛndāvana, His light is diffused not only in the spiritual world but beyond that. In the material world also, that light is reflected by the sun globe, and the sunlight is reflected by the moon globe. Thus although He is situated in His own abode, His light is distributed all over the spiritual and material worlds.
The highest example of pure devotional service is that of the gopīs in Vṛndāvana. They are not interested in understanding Kṛṣṇa, but only in loving Him. That platform of love is the pure state of devotional service. Unless one is advanced to this pure state of devotional service, there is a tendency to desire elevation to a higher material position.
The factual activities of the Lord, such as Lord Kṛṣṇa's acting in the Battle of Kurukṣetra, or the activities of the Pāṇḍavas, or the Lord's activities in Vṛndāvana or Dvārakā, are related in the Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, which are full of the activities of the Lord. But materialistic persons who engage in elevating their position in the material world are not interested in such activities of the Lord. They may be interested in the activities of a great politician or a great rich man of this world, but they are not interested in the transcendental activities of the Supreme Lord.
SB Canto 4
First of all let us offer our respectful obeisances unto our spiritual master, Oṁ Viṣṇupāda Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Prabhupāda, by whose order I am engaged in this herculean task of writing commentary on the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam as the Bhaktivedanta purports. By his grace we have finished three cantos already, and we are just trying to begin the Fourth Canto. By his divine grace let us offer our respectful obeisances unto Lord Caitanya, who began this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement of Bhāgavata-dharma five hundred years ago, and through His grace let us offer our obeisances to the six Gosvāmīs, and then let us offer our obeisances to Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, the spiritual couple who enjoy eternally in Vṛndāvana with Their cowherd boys and damsels in Vrajabhūmi. Let us also offer our respectful obeisances to all the devotees and eternal servitors of the Supreme Lord.
It is generally understood from revealed scriptures that Lord Viṣṇu appears with four hands, but in this particular sacrificial arena Lord Viṣṇu arrived with eight hands. King Indra said, "Even though we are accustomed to see Your four-handed Viṣṇu form, this appearance with eight hands is as real as the four-handed form." As Lord Brahmā had said, to realize the transcendental form of the Lord is beyond the power of the senses. In reply to that statement by Brahmā, King Indra said that even though the transcendental form of the Lord is not perceivable by the material senses, His activities and His transcendental form can be understood. The Lord's uncommon features, uncommon activities and uncommon beauty can be perceived even by an ordinary man. For example, when Lord Kṛṣṇa appeared just like a six- or seven-year-old boy in Vṛndāvana, He was approached by the residents there. There were torrents of rain, and the Lord saved the residents of Vṛndāvana by lifting Govardhana Hill and resting it on the little finger of His left hand for seven days. This uncommon feature of the Lord should convince even materialistic persons who want to speculate to the limit of their material senses. The activities of the Lord are pleasing to experimental vision also, but impersonalists will not believe in His identity because they study the personality of the Lord by comparing their personality to His. Because men in this material world cannot lift a hill, they do not believe that the Lord can lift one. They accept the statements of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam to be allegorical, and they try to interpret them in their own way. But factually the Lord lifted the hill in the presence of all the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana, as corroborated by great ācāryas and authors like Vyāsadeva and Nārada.
Both the mother and the son were lamenting Dhruva Mahārāja's having been insulted by his stepmother and his father's not having taken any step on this issue. But mere lamentation is useless—one should find out the means to mitigate one's lamentation. Thus both mother and son decided to take shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord because that is the only solution to all material problems. It is indicated in this connection that Dhruva Mahārāja left his father's capital city to go to a secluded place to search out the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is the instruction of Prahlāda Mahārāja also that if one is seeking peace of mind he should free himself from all contamination of family life and take shelter of the Supreme Godhead by going to the forest. To the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava this forest is the forest of Vṛndā, or Vṛndāvana. If one takes shelter of Vṛndāvana under Vṛndāvaneśvarī, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, certainly all the problems of his life are solved very easily.
There are many places of pilgrimage in India, and especially prominent are Badarī-nārāyaṇa, Dvārakā, Rāmeśvara and Jagannātha purī. These sacred places are called the four dhāmas. Dhāma refers to a place where one can immediately contact the Supreme Lord. To go to Badarī-nārāyaṇa one has to pass through Hardwar on the path to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Similarly, there are other holy places of pilgrimage, such as Prayāga (Allahabad) and Mathurā, and the topmost of them all is Vṛndāvana. Unless one is very advanced in spiritual life, it is recommended that he live in such holy places and execute devotional service there. But an advanced devotee like Nārada Muni who is engaged in preaching work can serve the Supreme Lord anywhere. Sometimes he even goes to the hellish planets. Hellish conditions do not affect Nārada Muni because he is engaged in greatly responsible activities in devotional service. According to the statement of Nārada Muni, Madhuvana, which is still existing in the Vṛndāvana area, in the district of Mathurā, is a most sacred place. Many saintly persons still live there and engage in the devotional service of the Lord.
There are twelve forests in the area of Vṛndāvana, and Madhuvana is one of them. Pilgrims from all parts of India assemble together and visit all twelve of these forests. There are five forests on the eastern bank of the Yamunā: Bhadravana, Bilvavana, Lauhavana, Bhāṇḍīravana and Mahāvana. On the western side of the bank there are seven: Madhuvana, Tālavana, Kumudavana, Bahulāvana, Kāmyavana, Khadiravana and Vṛndāvana. In those twelve forests there are different ghāṭas, or bathing places. They are listed as follows: (1) Avimukta, (2) Adhirūḍha, (3) Guhya-tīrtha, (4) Prayāga-tīrtha, (5) Kanakhala, (6) Tinduka-tīrtha, (7) Sūrya-tīrtha, (8) Vaṭasvāmī, (9) Dhruva-ghāṭa (Dhruva-ghāṭa, where there are many nice trees of fruits and flowers, is famous because Dhruva Mahārāja meditated and underwent severe penances and austerities there in an elevated spot), (10) Ṛṣi-tīrtha, (11) Mokṣa-tīrtha, (12) Budha-tīrtha, (13) Gokarṇa, (14) Kṛṣṇagaṅgā, (15) Vaikuṇṭha, (16) Asi-kuṇḍa, (17) Catuḥ-sāmudrika-kūpa, (18) Akrūra-tīrtha (when Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma were going to Mathurā in the chariot driven by Akrūra, all of them took baths in this ghāṭa), (19) Yājñika-vipra-sthāna, (20) Kubjā-kūpa, (21) Raṅga-sthala, (22) Mañcha-sthala, (23) Mallayuddha-sthāna, and (24) Daśāśvamedha.
In the Brahma-saṁhitā (5.38) it is said, premāñjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanena: a saintly person who has developed love of Godhead by devotional service always sees the Lord's transcendental form of Śyāmasundara. This Śyāmasundara form of the Lord within the heart of a devotee is not imaginary. When a devotee becomes mature in his prosecution of devotional service, he sees face to face the same Śyāmasundara he has thought of during the entire course of his devotional service. Since the Supreme Lord is absolute, the form within the heart of a devotee, the form in the temple and the original form in Vaikuṇṭha, Vṛndāvana-dhāma, are all the same; they are nondifferent from one another.
By devotional service only is one elevated to the transcendental planet Goloka Vṛndāvana, and there also there is only devotional service, for the activities of devotional service both in this world and in the spiritual world are one and the same. Devotional service does not change. The example of a mango can be given here. If one gets an unripe mango, it is still a mango, and when it is ripe it remains the same mango, but it has become more tasteful and relishable. Similarly, there is devotional service performed according to the direction of the spiritual master and the injunctions and regulative principles of śāstra, and there is devotional service in the spiritual world, rendered directly in association with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But they are both the same. There is no change. The difference is that one stage is unripe and the other is ripe and more relishable. It is possible to mature in devotional service only in the association of devotees.
The independence of the conditioned soul does not mean to fight with the obstacles offered by māyā, but to surrender to Kṛṣṇa. In the material world, everyone is trying to become completely independent simply by fighting against the obstacles offered by māyā. This is called the struggle for existence. Real independence is to be reinstated in the service of the Lord. Anyone who goes to the Vaikuṇṭha planets or Goloka Vṛndāvana planet is freely offering his service to the Lord. That is complete independence. Just contrary to this is material overlordship, which we wrongly take to be independence. Many great political leaders have tried to establish independence, but due to such so-called independence the people's dependence has only increased. The living entity cannot be happy trying to be independent in the material world. One has to surrender, therefore, unto the lotus feet of the Lord and engage in his original, eternal service.
The question may be raised in this connection why Suruci, who was not at all favorably disposed towards Dhruva, blessed him, "Long may you live," which means that she also desired good fortune for him. The answer is given in this verse. Since Dhruva Mahārāja was blessed by the Lord, due to his transcendental qualities everyone was bound to offer him all respects and benediction, just as water, by its nature, flows downward. A devotee of the Lord does not demand respect from anyone, but wherever he goes he is honored by everyone throughout the whole world with all respect. Śrīnivāsa Ācārya said that the six Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana are respected throughout the entire universe because a devotee, having pleased the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the source of all emanations, automatically pleases everyone, and thus everyone offers him respect.
When there is no rainfall and the citizens are in great danger due to the scarcity of water, this royal Personality of Godhead will be able to supply rains exactly like the heavenly King Indra. Thus he will very easily be able to protect the citizens from drought.
King Pṛthu is very appropriately compared to the sun and the demigod Indra. King Indra of the heavenly planets is in charge of distributing water over the earth and other planetary systems. It is indicated that King Pṛthu would arrange for the distribution of rainfall personally if Indra failed to discharge his duty properly. Sometimes the King of heaven, Indra, would become angry at the inhabitants of the earth if they did not offer sacrifices to appease him. King Pṛthu, however, being an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, did not depend on the mercy of the heavenly King. It is foretold herein that if there would be a scarcity of rain, King Pṛthu would manage to counteract the deficiency by virtue of his godly powers. Such powers were also exhibited by Lord Kṛṣṇa when He was present in Vṛndāvana. Indeed, when Indra poured incessant water on Vṛndāvana for seven days, the inhabitants were protected by Kṛṣṇa, who raised Govardhana Hill over their heads as a great umbrella. Thus Lord Kṛṣṇa is also known as Govardhana-dhārī.
The activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His various forms and incarnations are always uncommon and wonderful. It is not possible for a tiny human being to estimate the purpose and plans of such activities; therefore Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī has said that unless the Lord's activities are accepted as inconceivable, they cannot be explained. The Lord is eternally existing as Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in Goloka Vṛndāvana. He has also simultaneously expanded Himself in innumerable forms, beginning with Lord Rāma, Lord Nṛsiṁha, Lord Varāha and all the incarnations coming directly from Saṅkarṣaṇa. Saṅkarṣaṇa is the expansion of Baladeva, and Baladeva is the first manifestation of Kṛṣṇa. Therefore all these incarnations are known as kalā.
The earth is one of the planets of the Bhūrloka planetary system. There are six planetary systems above Bhūrloka and seven planetary systems below it. Therefore the entire universe is known as caturdaśa-bhuvana, indicating that it has fourteen different planetary systems. Beyond the planetary systems in the material sky, there is another sky, which is known as paravyoma, or the spiritual sky, where there are spiritual planets. The inhabitants of those planets engage in varieties of loving service unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, which include different rasas, or relationships, known as dāsya-rasa, sakhya-rasa, vātsalya-rasa, mādhurya-rasa and, above all, parakīya-rasa. This parakīya-rasa, or paramour love, is prevalent in Kṛṣṇaloka, where Lord Kṛṣṇa lives. This planet is also called Goloka Vṛndāvana, and although Lord Kṛṣṇa lives there perpetually, He also expands Himself in millions and trillions of forms. In one of such forms He appears on this material planet in a particular place known as Vṛndāvana-dhāma, where He displays His original pastimes of Goloka Vṛndāvana-dhāma in the spiritual sky in order to attract the conditioned souls back home, back to Godhead.
To the impersonalists liberation means merging into the existence of impersonal Brahman. But factually this is not mokṣa because one has to again fall down into this material world from that impersonal position. One should therefore seek the shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and engage in His devotional service. That is real liberation. The conclusion is that we should not stress pious activities, economic development and sense gratification, but should concern ourselves with approaching Lord Viṣṇu in His spiritual planets, of which the topmost is Goloka Vṛndāvana, where Lord Kṛṣṇa lives. Therefore this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is the greatest gift for persons who are actually desiring liberation.
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, after retiring from his minister's seat in the government, went to Vṛndāvana and lived beneath a tree, like Mahārāja Pṛthu. Since then, many people have gone to Vṛndāvana to imitate Rūpa Gosvāmī's behavior. Instead of advancing in spiritual life, many have fallen into material habits and even in Vṛndāvana have become victims of illicit sex, gambling and intoxication. The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement has been introduced in the Western countries, but it is not possible for Westerners to go to the forest and practice the severe austerities which were ideally practiced by Pṛthu Mahārāja or Rūpa Gosvāmī. However, Westerners or anyone else can follow in the footsteps of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura by living in a temple, which is transcendental to residence in a forest, and to vow to accept kṛṣṇa-prasāda and nothing else, follow the regulative principles and chant sixteen rounds daily of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. In this way, one's spiritual life will never be disturbed.
Our life is so short that we must strictly adhere to the principles laid down by the Vaiṣṇava ācāryas and peacefully execute Kṛṣṇa consciousness. There is no need to become despondent. Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura recommends: ānande bala hari, bhaja vṛndāvana, śri-guru-vaiṣṇava-pade majāiyā mana. For a transcendental, blissful life, chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, come worship the holy place of Vṛndāvana, and always engage in the service of the Lord, of the spiritual master and of the Vaiṣṇavas. This Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is therefore very safe and easy. We have only to execute the order of the Lord and fully surrender unto Him. We have only to execute the order of the spiritual master, preach Kṛṣṇa consciousness and follow in the path of the Vaiṣṇavas. The spiritual master represents both Lord Kṛṣṇa and the Vaiṣṇavas; therefore by following the instructions of the spiritual master and by chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, everything will be all right.
According to a Bengali proverb, whatever spiritual progress one makes in life will be tested at the time of death. In Bhagavad-gītā (8.6) it is also confirmed: yaṁ yaṁ vāpi smaran bhāvaṁ tyajaty ante kalevaram/ taṁ tam evaiti kaunteya sadā tad-bhāva-bhāvitaḥ. Those who are practicing Kṛṣṇa consciousness know that their examination will be held at the time of death. If one can remember Kṛṣṇa at death, he is immediately transferred to Goloka Vṛndāvana, or Kṛṣṇaloka, and thus his life becomes successful.
To take birth in a family of brāhmaṇas is not the ultimate finishing touch; one must have the power of a brāhmaṇa, which is called brahma-tejas. Similarly, taking birth in a royal family is not the all in all; one must possess the power to rule the world. Similarly, taking birth as a vaiśya is not all; one must possess hundreds or thousands of animals (specifically cows) and rule over other vaiśyas as Nanda Mahārāja did in Vṛndāvana. Nanda Mahārāja was a vaiśya who possessed nine hundred thousand cows and ruled over many cowherd men and boys. A person who is born in a śūdra family can become greater than a brāhmaṇa simply by accepting devotional service and giving aural reception to the pastimes of the Lord and His devotees.
It is said, vaiṣṇavānāṁ yathā śambhuḥ: Lord Śiva is the best of all devotees. Therefore all devotees of Lord Kṛṣṇa are also devotees of Lord Śiva. In Vṛndāvana there is Lord Śiva's temple called Gopīśvara. The gopīs used to worship not only Lord Śiva but Kātyāyanī, or Durgā, as well, but their aim was to attain the favor of Lord Kṛṣṇa.
Those who are engaged in fruitive activities (karmīs) attain the higher planetary systems as a result of their past activities, and the jñānīs, who seek unification or a monistic merging with the effulgence of the Supreme Lord, also attain their desired end, but in the ultimate issue, the devotees, who desire to personally associate with the Lord, are promoted to the Vaikuṇṭhalokas or Goloka Vṛndāvana. The Lord is described in Bhagavad-gītā (10.12) as pavitraṁ paramam, the supreme pure. This is also confirmed in this verse. Śukadeva Gosvāmī has stated that the cowherd boys who played with Lord Kṛṣṇa were not ordinary living entities. Only after accumulating many pious activities in various births does one get the opportunity to personally associate with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Since only the pure can reach Him, He is the supreme pure.
"I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, who is adept at playing on His flute, whose eyes are blooming like lotus petals, whose head is bedecked with peacock feathers, whose beauty is tinged with the hue of blue clouds, and whose unique loveliness charms millions of Cupids." Thus Lord Śiva's desire is to see the Supreme Personality of Godhead as He is described in this way-that is, he wants to see Him as He appears to the bhāgavatas, the devotees. The conclusion is that Lord Śiva wants to see Him in complete perfection and not in the impersonalist or voidist way. Although the Lord is one in His various forms (advaitam acyutam anādim), still His form as the young enjoyer of the gopīs and companion of the cowherd boys (kiśora-mūrti) is the most perfect form. Thus Vaiṣṇavas accept the form of the Lord in His Vṛndāvana pastimes as the chief form.
Worship according to the pāñcarātrika-vidhi is called vidhi-mārga, and worship according to the bhāgavata-vidhi principles is called rāga-mārga. The principles of rāga-mārga are especially meant for devotees who are elevated to the Vṛndāvana platform.
The inhabitants of Vṛndāvana—the gopīs, mother Yaśodā, Nanda Mahārāja, the cowherd boys, the cows and everyone else—are actually on the rāga-mārga or bhāgavata-mārga platform. They participate in five basic rasas-dāsya, sakhya, vātsalya, mādhurya and śānta. But although these five rasas are found in the bhāgavata-mārga, the bhāgavata-mārga is especially meant for vātsalya and mādhurya, or paternal and conjugal relationships. Yet there is the viśralambha-sakhya, the higher fraternal worship of the Lord especially enjoyed by the cowherd boys. Although there is friendship between Kṛṣṇa and the cowherd boys, this friendship is different from the aiśvarya friendship between Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna. When Arjuna saw the viśva-rūpa, the gigantic universal form of the Lord, he was afraid for having treated Kṛṣṇa as an ordinary friend; therefore he begged Kṛṣṇa's pardon. However, the cowherd boys who are friends of Kṛṣṇa in Vṛndāvana sometimes ride on the shoulders of Kṛṣṇa. They treat Kṛṣṇa equally, just as they treat one another, and they are never afraid of Him, nor do they ever beg His pardon. Thus the rāga-mārga, or bhāgavata-mārga, friendship exists on a higher platform with Kṛṣṇa, namely the platform of vipralambha friendship. Paternal friendship, paternal service and conjugal service are visible in the Vṛndāvana rāga-mārga relationships.
The four arms of Lord Viṣṇu have different purposes. The hands holding a lotus flower and conchshell are meant for the devotees, whereas the other two hands, holding a disc and mace, or club, are meant for the demons. Actually all of the Lord's arms are auspicious, whether they are holding conchshells and flowers or clubs and discs. The demons killed by Lord Viṣṇu's cakra disc and club are elevated to the spiritual world, just like the devotees who are protected by the hands holding the lotus flower and conchshell. However, the demons who are elevated to the spiritual world are situated in the impersonal Brahman effulgence, whereas the devotees are allowed to enter into the Vaikuṇṭha planets. Those who are devotees of Lord Kṛṣṇa are immediately elevated to the Goloka Vṛndāvana planet.
It is said that the transcendental name, form, pastimes and entourage of the Lord cannot be appreciated by the blunt material senses; therefore one has to engage himself in devotional service so that the senses may be purified and one can see the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Here, however, it is indicated that those who are constantly engaged in meditating on the lotus feet of the Lord are certainly purified of the material contamination of the senses and are thus able to see the Supreme Lord face to face. The word "meditation" is very popular in this age amongst the common people, but they do not know the actual meaning of meditation. However, from Vedic literature we learn that the yogīs are always absorbed in meditation upon the lotus feet of the Lord. Dhyānāvasthita-tad-gatena manasā paśyanti yaṁ yoginaḥ (SB 12.13.1). This is the real business of the yogīs: to think of the lotus feet of the Lord. Lord Śiva therefore advises that one who is actually serious about purification must engage himself in this type of meditation or in the mystic yoga system, which will help him not only to see the Lord within constantly but to see Him face to face and become His associate in Vaikuṇṭhaloka or Goloka Vṛndāvana.
As stated in Brahma-saṁhitā: vedeṣu durlabham adurlabham ātma-bhaktauvedeṣu durlabham adurlabham ātma-bhaktau (Bs. 5.33). This indicates that it is very difficult for one to attain the ultimate goal of life and reach the supreme destination, Vaikuṇṭhaloka or Goloka Vṛndāvana, simply by studying Vedānta philosophy or Vedic literature. However, this highest perfectional stage can be attained by the devotees very easily. That is the meaning of vedeṣu durlabham adurlabham ātma-bhaktau. The same point is confirmed by Lord Śiva in this verse. The Lord is very difficult for the karma-yogīs, jñāna-yogīs and dhyāna-yogīs to attain. Those who are bhakti-yogīs, however, have no difficulty at all. In the word svārājyasya, svar refers to Svargaloka, the heavenly planet, and svārājya refers to the ruler of the heavenly planet, Indra. Generally, karmīs desire elevation to heavenly planets, but King Indra desires to become perfect in bhakti-yoga. Those who identify themselves as ahaṁ brahmāsmi ("I am the Supreme Brahman, one with the Absolute Truth") also ultimately desire to attain perfect liberation in the Vaikuṇṭha planets or Goloka Vṛndāvana.
In conclusion, if a disciple is very serious to execute the mission of the spiritual master, he immediately associates with the Supreme Personality of Godhead by vāṇī or vapuḥ. This is the only secret of success in seeing the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Instead of being eager to see the Lord in some bush of Vṛndāvana while at the same time engaging in sense gratification, if one instead sticks to the principle of following the words of the spiritual master, he will see the Supreme Lord without difficulty.
Ordinary persons engaged in pious and impious activities cannot understand the form, name and activities of the Lord. The devotee, however, can know the Personality of Godhead in many respects. He can understand that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, that His address is Goloka Vṛndāvana and that His activities are all spiritual. Because the Lord's form and activities cannot be understood by materialistic people, He is described by the śāstras as nirākāra, that is, one whose form cannot be ascertained by a materialistic person. This does not mean that the Supreme Personality of Godhead has no form; it means that it is not understood by the karmīs, or fruitive actors.
When the world becomes degraded, civilization becomes demoniac, and for the common man the rectum and the genital are taken very seriously as the centers of all activity. Even in such a sacred place as Vṛndāvana, India, unintelligent men pass off this rectal and genital business as spiritual activity. Such people are called sahajiyā. According to their philosophy, through sexual indulgence one can elevate oneself to the spiritual platform. From these verses of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, however, we understand that the desires for sexual satisfaction are meant for the arvāk, the lowest among men. To rectify these rascals and fools is very difficult. After all, the sex desires of the common man are condemned in these verses. The word durmada means "wrongly directed," and nirṛti means "sinful activity." Although this clearly indicates that sex indulgence is abominable and misdirected even from the ordinary point of view, the sahajiyās nonetheless pass themselves off as devotees conducting spiritual activities. For this reason, Vṛndāvana is no longer visited by intelligent men. Sometimes we are often asked why we have made our center in Vṛndāvana. From the external point of view, it can be concluded that Vṛndāvana has become degenerate due to these sahajiyā activities, yet from the spiritual point of view, Vṛndāvana is the only place where all these sinful persons can be rectified by means of taking birth in the forms of dogs, hogs and monkeys. By living in Vṛndāvana as a dog, hog or monkey, the living entity can be elevated to the spiritual platform in the next life.
The cultivation of Kṛṣṇa consciousness is possible where great devotees live together and constantly engage in hearing and chanting the glories of the Lord. In a holy place like Vṛndāvana, there are many devotees constantly engaged in chanting and hearing the glories of the Lord. If one gets the chance to hear from pure devotees in such a place, allowing the constant flow of the river of nectar to come from the mouths of pure devotees, then the cultivation of Kṛṣṇa consciousness becomes very easy. When one is engaged in constantly hearing the glories of the Lord, he certainly rises above the bodily conception. When one is in the bodily conception, he feels the pangs of hunger and thirst, fear, lamentation and illusion. But when one is engaged in hearing and chanting the glories of the Lord, he transcends the bodily conception.
Generally people are not aware of their interest in life—to return home, back to Godhead. People do not know about their real home in the spiritual world. In the spiritual world there are many Vaikuṇṭha planets, and the topmost planet is Kṛṣṇaloka, Goloka Vṛndāvana. Despite the so-called advancement of civilization, there is no information of the Vaikuṇṭhalokas, the spiritual planets. At the present moment so-called advanced civilized men are trying to go to other planets, but they do not know that even if they go to the highest planetary system, Brahmaloka, they have to come back again to this planet.
If one goes to the highest planetary system within this universe he still has to return after the effects of pious activities are finished. Space vehicles may go very high in the sky, but as soon as their fuel is finished, they have to return to this earthly planet. All these activities are performed in illusion. The real attempt should now be to return home, back to Godhead. The process is mentioned in Bhagavad-gītā. Yānti mad-yājino 'pi mām: (BG 9.25) those who engage in the devotional service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead return home, back to Godhead. Human life is very valuable, and one should not waste it in vain exploration of other planets. One should be intelligent enough to return to Godhead. One should be interested in information about the spiritual Vaikuṇṭha planets, and in particular the planet known as Goloka Vṛndāvana, and should learn the art of going there by the simple method of devotional service, beginning with hearing (śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ (SB 7.5.23)).
The deer in the flower garden is an allegory used by the great sage Nārada to point out to the King that the King himself is similarly entrapped by such surroundings. Actually everyone is surrounded by such a family life, which misleads one. The living entity thus forgets that he has to return home, back to Godhead. He simply becomes entangled in family life. Prahlāda Mahārāja has therefore hinted: hitvātma-pātaṁ gṛham andha-kūpaṁ vanaṁ gato yad dharim āśrayeta (SB 7.5.5). Family life is considered a blind well (andha-kūpam) into which a person falls and dies without help. Prahlāda Mahārāja recommends that while one's senses are there and one is strong enough, he should abandon the gṛhastha-āśrama and take shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord, going to the forest of Vṛndāvana.
If, like Mahārāja Ambarīṣa, we think of Kṛṣṇa constantly in this life (sa vai manaḥ kṛṣṇa-padāravindayoḥ (SB 9.4.18)), we will certainly be transferred to the kingdom of God at the time of death. Even if our attempt to be Kṛṣṇa conscious is not complete, our Kṛṣṇa consciousness will continue in the next life. This is confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (6.41):
- prāpya puṇya-kṛtāṁ lokān
- uṣitvā śāśvatīḥ samāḥ
- śucīnāṁ śrīmatāṁ gehe
- yoga-bhraṣṭo 'bhijāyate
"The unsuccessful yogī, after many, many years of enjoyment on the planets of the pious living entities, is born into a family of righteous people, or into a family of rich aristocracy."
If we rigidly follow the principles of meditation on Kṛṣṇa, there is no doubt that in our next life we will be transferred to Kṛṣṇaloka, Goloka Vṛndāvana.
The root cause of one's association is the mind. This great Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is the greatest boon to human society because it is teaching everyone to think always of Kṛṣṇa by executing devotional service. In this way, at the end of life, one may be transferred to the association of Kṛṣṇa. This is technically called nitya-līlā-praviṣṭa, entering into the planet Goloka Vṛndāvana. Bhagavad-gītā (18.55) explains:
- bhaktyā mām abhijānāti
- yāvān yaś cāsmi tattvataḥ
- tato māṁ tattvato jñātvā
- viśate tad-anantaram
"One can understand the Supreme Personality as He is only by devotional service. And when one is in full consciousness of the Supreme Lord by such devotion, he can enter into the kingdom of God." After the mind is completely absorbed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, one can enter the planet known as Goloka Vṛndāvana. To enter the association of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one has to understand Kṛṣṇa. The process of understanding Kṛṣṇa is devotional service.
If one realizes that he is an eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa but does not preach it, his realization is imperfect. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura therefore sings, duṣṭa mana, tumi kisera vaiṣṇava? pratiṣṭhāra tare, nirjanera ghare, tava hari-nāma kevala kaitava: "My dear mind, what kind of Vaiṣṇava are you? Simply for false prestige and a material reputation you are chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra in a solitary place." In this way people who do not preach are criticized. There are many Vaiṣṇavas in Vṛndāvana who do not like preaching; they chiefly try to imitate Haridāsa Ṭhākura. The actual result of their so-called chanting in a secluded place, however, is that they sleep and think of women and money.
The devotees who engage in the service of the Lord in this world will have the same opportunity in the spiritual world also. Thus for a devotee, everything is in the spiritual world, for as long as he can hear about the pastimes of the Lord, or wherever he can chant, the Lord is personally present. Tatra tiṣṭhāmi nārada yatra gāyanti mad-bhaktāḥ. When the pure devotees assemble to chant, hear and talk about the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the place where they assemble becomes Vaikuṇṭha. For the devotee there is no need to pray to the Lord for transferal to the Vaikuṇṭha world. A pure devotee can create Vaikuṇṭha or Vṛndāvana anywhere simply by chanting the glories of the Lord without offense.
When a pure devotee goes to a place of pilgrimage, he desires to purify that holy place of pilgrimage. Many sinful men bathe in the holy waters of the places of pilgrimage. They take their baths in the waters of the Ganges and Yamunā at places such as Prayāga, Vṛndāvana and Mathurā. In this way the sinful men are purified, but their sinful actions and reactions remain at the holy places of pilgrimage. When a devotee comes to take his bath at those places of pilgrimage, the sinful reactions left by the sinful men are neutralized by the devotee.
To get material benedictions from Lord Śiva is not difficult, but actually these are not benedictions. The Pracetās received benediction from Lord Śiva, and as a result they attained the shelter of the lotus feet of Lord Viṣṇu. This is real benediction. The gopīs also worshiped Lord Śiva in Vṛndāvana, and the lord is still staying there as Gopīśvara. The gopīs, however, prayed that Lord Śiva bless them by giving them Lord Kṛṣṇa as their husband.
SB Canto 5
"The only remedy is hari-nāma-saṅkīrtana, the chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, which is imported from the spiritual world, Goloka Vṛndāvana. How unfortunate I am that I have no attraction for this." Manu wanted to seek shelter at the lotus feet of the Lord, and therefore when his son Priyavrata took charge of his worldly affairs, Manu was very relieved. That is the system of Vedic civilization. At the end of life, one must free himself from worldly affairs and completely engage in the service of the Lord.
Because of their compassion for the poor fallen souls. the six Gosvāmīs gave up their exalted positions as ministers and took vows as mendicants. Thus minimizing their bodily wants as far as possible, they each accepted only a loincloth and a begging bowl. Thus they remained in Vṛndāvana to execute the orders of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu by compiling and publishing various Vaiṣṇava literatures.
"Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail." (BG 8.6) We can naturally conclude that if we always think of Kṛṣṇa or become fully Kṛṣṇa conscious, we can be promoted to the planet of Goloka Vṛndāvana, where Kṛṣṇa eternally lives.
Although Bharata Mahārāja was awarded the body of an animal, he did not forget what had previously happened due to his purposeful mistake. He was very anxious to get out of his deer body, and this indicates that his affection for devotional service was intensified, so much so that he was quickly to attain perfection in a brāhmaṇa body in the next life. It is with this conviction that we declare in our Back to Godhead magazine that devotees like the gosvāmīs living in Vṛndāvana who purposely commit some sinful activity are born in the bodies of dogs, monkeys and tortoises in that holy land. Thus they take on these lower life forms for a short while, and after they give up those animal bodies, they are again promoted to the spiritual world. Such punishment is only for a short period, and it is not due to past karma. It may appear to be due to past karma, but it is offered to rectify the devotee and bring him to pure devotional service.
Holy places like Vṛndāvana, Hardwar, Prayāga and Jagannātha Purī are especially meant for the execution of devotional service. Vṛndāvana specifically is the most exalted and preferred holy place for Vaiṣṇava devotees of Lord Kṛṣṇa who are aspiring to return back to Godhead, the Vaikuṇṭha planets. There are many devotees in Vṛndāvana who regularly bathe in the Yamunā, and this cleanses all the contamination of the material world. By constantly chanting and hearing the holy names and pastimes of the Supreme Lord, one certainly becomes purified and becomes a fit candidate for liberation. However, if one purposefully falls victim to sense gratification, he has to be punished, at least for one lifetime, like Bharata Mahārāja.
Even if one has sufficient money to maintain a family, the situation is such that no one is happy in family life. Consequently according to the varṇāśrama institution, one has to retire from family life in middle age: pañcāśordhvaṁ vanaṁ vrajet. One should voluntarily retire from family life at the age of fifty and go to Vṛndāvana or a forest. This is recommended by Śrīla Prahlāda Mahārāja (SB 7.5.5):
- tat sādhu manye 'sura-varya dehināṁ
- sadā samudvigna-dhiyām asad-grahāt
- hitvātma-pātaṁ gṛham andha-kūpaṁ
- vanaṁ gato yad dharim āśrayeta
There is no benefit in transferring from one forest to another. One must go to the Vṛndāvana forest and take shelter of Govinda. That will make one happy. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness is therefore constructing a Kṛṣṇa-Balarāma temple to invite its members as well as outsiders to come and live peacefully in a spiritual atmosphere. That will help one become elevated to the transcendental world and return home, back to Godhead.
Material life means being fully absorbed in eating, sleeping, mating and defending. Out of these, sleep is taken very seriously. While asleep, one completely forgets the object of life and what to do. For spiritual realization, one should try to avoid sleep as much as possible. The Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana practically did not sleep at all. Of course, they slept some, for the body requires sleep, but they slept only about two hours, and sometimes not even that. They always engaged in spiritual cultivation. Nidrāhāra-vihārakādi-vijitau **. Following in the footsteps of the Gosvāmīs, we should try to reduce sleeping, eating, mating and defending.
Kṛṣṇa says, kṣīṇe puṇye martya-lokaṁ viśanti: when the persons living in the heavenly planets exhaust the results of their pious activities, they return to this earth. In this way, they are elevated to the heavenly planets, and then they again fall to the earthly planets. This process is known as brahmāṇḍa bhramaṇa, wandering up and down throughout the universes. Those who are intelligent—in other words, those who have not lost their intelligence—do not involve themselves in this process of wandering up and down. They take to the devotional service of the Lord so that they can ultimately penetrate the covering of this universe and enter the spiritual kingdom. Then they are situated on one of the planets known as Vaikuṇṭhaloka or, still higher. Kṛṣṇaloka (Goloka Vṛndāvana). A devotee is never caught in the process of being promoted to the heavenly planets and again coming down.
"Lord Caitanya replied, 'Lord Kṛṣṇa has a specific characteristic. He attracts everyone's heart by the mellow of His personal conjugal love. By following in the footsteps of the inhabitants of the planet known as Vrajaloka or Goloka Vṛndāvana, one can attain the shelter of the lotus feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. However, the inhabitants of that planet do not know that Lord Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Unaware that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Lord, the residents of Vṛndāvana like Nanda Mahārāja, Yaśodādevī and the gopīs treat Kṛṣṇa as their beloved son or lover. Mother Yaśodā accepts Him as her son and sometimes binds Him to a grinding mortar. Kṛṣṇa's cowherd boy friends think He is an ordinary boy and get up on His shoulders. In Goloka Vṛndāvana no one has any desire other than to love Kṛṣṇa.' "
The conclusion is that one cannot associate with Kṛṣṇa unless he has fully received the favor of the inhabitants of Vrajabhūmi. Therefore if one wants to be delivered by Kṛṣṇa directly, he must take to the service of the residents of Vṛndāvana, who are unalloyed devotees of the Lord.
As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (9.21), kṣīṇe puṇye martya-lokaṁ viśanti: after the results of one's sacrifices, charity and other pious activities expire, one must return to the lower planetary systems and again feel the pangs of birth and death. However, one who becomes Kṛṣṇa conscious can go back to Kṛṣṇa (yānti-mad-yājino 'pi mām (BG 9.25)). Therefore the demigods even regret having been elevated to the higher planetary systems. The denizens of the heavenly planets regret that they could not take full advantage of being born in the land of Bhārata-varṣa. Instead, they became captivated by a higher standard of sense gratification, and therefore they forgot the lotus feet of Lord Nārāyaṇa at the time of death. The conclusion is that one who has taken birth in the land of Bhārata-varṣa must follow the instructions given personally by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Yad gatvā na nivartante tad dhāma paramaṁ mama (BG 15.6). One should try to return home, back to Godhead, to the Vaikuṇṭha planets—or to the topmost Vaikuṇṭha planet, Goloka Vṛndāvana—to live eternally in full, blissful knowledge in the company of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
In the land of Bhārata-varṣa one can very easily perform the saṅkīrtana-yajña, which consists of śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ (SB 7.5.23), or one can perform other methods of devotional service, such as smaraṇaṁ vandanaṁ arcanaṁ dāsyaṁ sakhyam and ātma-nivedanam. In Bhārata-varṣa one has the opportunity to visit many holy places, especially Lord Caitanya's birthsite and Lord Kṛṣṇa's birthsite-Navadvīpa and Vṛndāvana—where there are many pure devotees who have no desire other than to execute devotional service (anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyaṁ jñāna-karmādy-anāvṛtam (CC Madhya 19.167)), and one may thus become free from the bondage of material conditions.
SB Canto 6
Because of the child's broken language and awkward movements, old Ajāmila was very much attached to him. He always took care of the child and enjoyed the child's activities.
Here it is clearly mentioned that the child Nārāyaṇa was so young that he could not even speak or walk properly. Since the old man was very attached to the child, he enjoyed the child's activities, and because the child's name was Nārāyaṇa, the old man always chanted the holy name of Nārāyaṇa. Although he was referring to the small child and not to the original Nārāyaṇa, the name of Nārāyaṇa is so powerful that even by chanting his son's name he was becoming purified (harer nāma harer nāma harer nāmaiva kevalam (CC Adi 17.21)). Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has therefore declared that if one's mind is somehow or other attracted by the holy name of Kṛṣṇa (tasmāt kenāpy upāyena manaḥ kṛṣṇe niveśayet (SB 7.1.32)), one is on the path of liberation. It is customary in Hindu society for parents to give their children names like Kṛṣṇadāsa, Govinda dāsa, Nārāyaṇa dāsa and Vṛndāvana dāsa. Thus they chant the names Kṛṣṇa, Govinda, Nārāyaṇa and Vṛndāvana and get the chance to be purified.
Our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement now has centers in Vṛndāvana and Navadvīpa so that those who want to live a retired life, whether they be devotees or not, can go there and with determination give up the bodily concept of life. One is welcome to live in those holy places for the rest of his life in order to achieve the highest success by the very simple method of chanting the holy name of the Lord and taking prasāda. Thus one may return home, back to Godhead. We do not have a center in Hardwar, but Vṛndāvana and Śrīdhāma Māyāpur are better for devotees than any other places. The Caitanya Candrodaya temple offers one a good opportunity to associate with devotees. Let us all take advantage of this opportunity.
The result of perfection in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is that after giving up one's material body, one is immediately transferred to the spiritual world in one's original spiritual body to become an associate of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Some devotees go to Vaikuṇṭhaloka, and others go to Goloka Vṛndāvana to become associates of Kṛṣṇa.
Sometimes we have to observe the Vedic ritualistic ceremonies to please such unintelligent men. Recently, when we established a large Kṛṣṇa-Balarāma temple in Vṛndāvana, we were obliged to have Vedic ceremonies enacted by brāhmaṇas because the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana, especially the smārta-brāhmaṇas, would not accept Europeans and Americans as bona fide brāhmaṇas. Thus we had to engage brāhmaṇas to perform costly yajñas. In spite of these yajñas, the members of our Society performed saṅkīrtana loudly with mṛdaṅgas, and I considered the saṅkīrtana more important than the Vedic ritualistic ceremonies. Both the ceremonies and the saṅkīrtana were going on simultaneously. The ceremonies were meant for persons interested in Vedic rituals for elevation to heavenly planets (jaḍī-kṛta-matir madhu-puṣpitāyām), whereas the saṅkīrtana was meant for pure devotees interested in pleasing the Supreme Personality of Godhead. We would simply have performed saṅkīrtana, but then the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana would not have taken the installation ceremony seriously. As explained here, the Vedic performances are meant for those whose intelligence has been dulled by the flowery language of the Vedas, which describe fruitive activities intended to elevate one to the higher planets.
The Personality of Godhead appeared in Vṛndāvana as the son of mother Yaśodā, who bound the Lord with rope just as an ordinary mother binds a material child. There are actually no divisions of external and internal for the form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead (sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha (Bs. 5.1)), but when He appears in His own form the unintelligent think Him an ordinary person.
In the dark well of family life, one is always full of anxiety because of having accepted a temporary body. If one wants to free himself from this anxiety, one should immediately leave family life and take shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in Vṛndāvana. Nārada Muni advised the Haryaśvas not to enter household life. Since they were already advanced in spiritual knowledge, why should they be entangled in that way?
One should not give up the process of austerity. If possible, one should bathe in the waters of the Ganges or Yamunā, or in the absence of the Ganges and Yamunā one may bathe in the water of the sea. This is an item of austerity. Our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement has therefore established two very large centers, one in Vṛndāvana and another in Māyāpur, Navadvīpa. There one may bathe in the Ganges or Yamunā, chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra and thus become perfect and return home, back to Godhead.
This chapter describes how Indra, the King of heaven, was victorious over the soldiers of the demons, and it also describes the shield of the Viṣṇu mantra.
To take protection from this shield, one must first touch kuśa grass and wash one's mouth with ācamana-mantras. One should observe silence and then place the eight-syllable Viṣṇu mantra on the parts of his body and place the twelve-syllable mantra on his hands. The eight-syllable mantra is oṁ namo nārāyaṇāya. This mantra should be distributed all over the front and back of the body. The twelve-syllable mantra, which begins with the praṇava, oṁkāra, is oṁ namo bhagavate vāsudevāya. One syllable should be placed on each of the fingers and should be preceded by the praṇava, oṁkāra. Thereafter, one must chant oṁ viṣṇave namaḥ, which is a six-syllable mantra. One must progressively place the syllables of the mantra on the heart, the head, between the two eyebrows, on the śikhā and between the eyes, and then one should chant maḥ astrāya phaṭ and with this mantra protect himself from all directions. Nādevo devam arcayet: one who has not risen to the level of a deva cannot chant this mantra. According to this direction of the śāstra, one must think himself qualitatively nondifferent from the Supreme.
After finishing this dedication, one must offer a prayer to the eight-armed Lord Viṣṇu, who sits on the shoulders of Garuḍadeva. One also has to think of the fish incarnation, Vāmana, Kūrma, Nṛsiṁha, Varāha, Paraśurāma, Rāmacandra (the elder brother of Lakṣmaṇa). Nara-Nārāyaṇa, Dattātreya (an empowered incarnation), Kapila, Sanat-kumāra, Hayagrīva, Nāradadeva (the incarnation of a devotee). Dhanvantari, Ṛṣabhadeva, Yajña, Balarāma, Vyāsadeva, Buddhadeva and Keśava. One should also think of Govinda, the master of Vṛndāvana, and one should think of Nārāyaṇa, the master of the spiritual sky. One should think of Madhusūdana, Tridhāmā, Mādhava, Hṛṣīkeśa, Padmanābha, Janārdana, Dāmodara and Viśveśvara, as well as the Supreme Personality of Godhead Kṛṣṇa Himself. After offering prayers to the Lord's personal expansions known as the svāṁśa and śaktyāveśa-avatāras, one should pray to the weapons of Lord Nārāyaṇa, such as the Sudarśana, gadā, śaṅkha, khaḍga and bow.
According to Vedic astronomical calculations, day and night are each divided into thirty ghaṭikās (twenty-four minutes), instead of twelve hours. Generally, each day and each night is divided into six parts consisting of five ghaṭikās. In each of these six portions of the day and night, the Lord may be addressed for protection according to different names. Lord Keśava, the proprietor of the holy place of Mathurā, is the Lord of the first portion of the day, and Govinda, the Lord of Vṛndāvana. is the master of the second portion.
The Brahma-saṁhitā (5.37) says, goloka eva nivasaty akhilātma-bhūtaḥ: the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, is always situated in Goloka Vṛndāvana. It is also said, vṛndāvanaṁ parityajya padam ekaṁ na gacchati: Kṛṣṇa never goes even a step from Vṛndāvana. Nevertheless, although Kṛṣṇa is situated in His own abode, Goloka Vṛndāvana, He is simultaneously all-pervading and is therefore present everywhere. This is very difficult for a conditioned soul to understand, but devotees can understand how Kṛṣṇa, without undergoing any changes, can simultaneously be in His abode and be all-pervasive.
In Vṛndāvana, the damsels of Vrajabhūmi enjoy transcendental bliss in the company of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, and they feel the same transcendental bliss in separation when Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma leave Vṛndāvana for Mathurā. There is no question of material pains or pleasures for either the Supreme Personality of Godhead or His pure devotees, although they are sometimes superficially said to be distressed or happy. One who is ātmārāma is blissful in both ways.
O demigods, one who has no compassion for humanity in its suffering and does not sacrifice his impermanent body for the higher causes of religious principles or eternal glory is certainly pitied even by the immovable beings.
In this regard, a very exalted example was set by Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and the six Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana.
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu had a very young and beautiful wife and a very affectionate mother. Indeed, the affectionate dealings of His family members were so pleasing that even the demigods could not expect such happiness at home. Nevertheless, for the deliverance of all the fallen souls of the world, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu took sannyāsa and left home when He was only twenty-four years old. He lived a very strict life as a sannyāsī, refusing all bodily comforts. Similarly, His disciples the six Gosvāmīs were ministers who held exalted positions in society, but they also left everything to join the movement of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Śrīnivāsa Ācārya says:
- tyaktvā tūrṇam aśeṣa-maṇḍala-pati-śreṇīṁ sadā tucchavat
- bhūtvā dīna-gaṇeśakau karuṇayā kaupīna-kanthāśritau
These Gosvāmīs left their very comfortable lives as ministers. Zamindars and learned scholars and joined Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu's movement, just to show mercy to the fallen souls of the world (dīna-gaṇeśakau karuṇayā). Accepting very humble lives as mendicants, wearing no more than loincloths and torn quilts (kaupīna-kantha). they lived in Vṛndāvana and followed Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu's order to excavate Vṛndāvana's lost glories.
A pure devotee is never attracted to any exalted position within this material world. He simply wants to associate with the Supreme Personality of Godhead like the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana-Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, the gopīs, Kṛṣṇa's father and mother (Nanda Mahārāja and Yaśodā), Kṛṣṇa's friends and Kṛṣṇa's servants. He wants to associate with Kṛṣṇa's atmosphere of Vṛndāvana's beauty. These are the highest ambitions of a devotee of Kṛṣṇa. Devotees of Lord Viṣṇu may aspire for a position in Vaikuṇṭhaloka, but a devotee of Kṛṣṇa never aspires even for the facilities of Vaikuṇṭha; he wants to return to Goloka Vṛndāvana and associate with Lord Kṛṣṇa in His eternal pastimes. Any material happiness is like water in a ditch, whereas the spiritual happiness eternally enjoyed in the spiritual world is like an ocean of nectar in which a devotee wants to swim.
A devotee should always aspire to live in the association of advanced devotees and engage in the service of the Lord through the paramparā system. One should serve the mission of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu through the instructions of the great Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana. This is called tāṅdera caraṇa sevi. While serving the lotus feet of the Gosvāmīs, one should live in the association of devotees (bhakta-sane vāsa). This is the business of a devotee. A devotee should not aspire for material profit or lament for material loss. When Aṅgirā Ṛṣi and Nārada saw that Mahārāja Citraketu, an advanced devotee, had fallen in the darkness of ignorance and was lamenting for the material body of his son, by their causeless mercy they came to advise him so that he could be saved from this ignorance.