Lord Caitanya therefore teaches direct worship of Lord Kṛṣṇa, who appeared as the foster child of the King of Vraja. He also suggests that the place known as Vṛndāvana is as good as Lord Kṛṣṇa because there is no difference between the name, quality, form, pastimes, entourage and paraphernalia of Lord Kṛṣṇa and Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself.
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Teachings of Lord Caitanya
As a sannyāsī, Kṛṣṇa Caitanya put on nothing but a kaupīna and a bahirvāsa (outer covering). His head was without hair, and his hands bore a daṇḍa (stick) and a kamaṇḍalu (hermit's water pot). The holy son fell at the feet of his beloved mother and said, "Mother! This body is yours, and I must obey your orders. Permit me to go to Vṛndāvana for my spiritual attainments."
At Raṅgakṣetra he stayed for four months in the house of one Veṅkata Bhaṭṭa in order to spend the rainy season. There he converted the whole family of Veṅkata from Rāmānuja Vaiṣṇavism to Kṛṣṇa-bhakti, along with the son of Veṅkata, a boy of ten years named Gopāla, who afterwards came to Vṛndāvana and became one of the six Gosvāmīs or prophets serving under their leader Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya. Trained up in Sanskrit by his uncle Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī, Gopāla wrote several books on Vaiṣṇavism.
Mahāprabhu had written in reply that he would come to them and extricate them from their spiritual difficulties. Now that he had come to Gauḍa, both the brothers appeared before him with their long-standing prayer. Mahāprabhu ordered them to go to Vṛndāvana and meet him there.
Caitanya returned to Purī through Śāntipura, where he again met his dear mother. After a short stay at Purī he left for Vṛndāvana. This time he was accompanied by one Balabhadra Bhaṭṭācārya. He visited Vṛndāvana and came down to Prayāga (Allahabad), converting a large number of Mohammedans to Vaiṣṇavism by argument from the Koran. The descendants of those converts are still known as Pāṭhāna Vaiṣṇavas. Rūpa Gosvāmī met him at Allahabad. Caitanya trained him up in spirituality in ten days and directed him to go to Vṛndāvana on missions. His first mission was to write theological works explaining scientifically pure bhakti and premā. The second mission was to revive the places where Kṛṣṇacandra had in the end of Dvāpara-yuga exhibited His spiritual līlā (pastimes) for the benefit of the religious world. Rūpa Gosvāmī left Allahabad for Vṛndāvana, and Mahāprabhu came down to Benares.
The sannyāsīs of Benares soon fell at the feet of Caitanya and asked for his grace (kṛpā). Caitanya then preached pure bhakti and instilled into their hearts spiritual love for Kṛṣṇa which obliged them to give up sectarian feelings. The whole population of Benares, on this wonderful conversion of the sannyāsīs, turned Vaiṣṇavas, and they made a master saṅkīrtana with their new Lord. After sending Sanātana to Vṛndāvana, Mahāprabhu went to Purī again through the jungles with his comrade Balabhadra. Balabhadra reported that Mahāprabhu had shown a good many miracles on his way to Purī, such as making tigers and elephants dance on hearing the name of Kṛṣṇa.
Mahāprabhu slept short. His sentiments carried him far and wide in the firmament of spirituality every day and night, and all his admirers and followers watched him throughout. He worshiped, communicated with his missionaries at Vṛndāvana, and conversed with those religious men who newly came to visit him. He sang and danced, took no care of himself and oft-times lost himself in religious beatitude. All who came to him believed in him as the all-beautiful God appearing in the nether world for the benefit of mankind. He loved his mother all along and sent her mahāprasāda now and then with those who went to Nadia. He was most amiable in nature. Humility was personified in him. His sweet appearance gave cheer to all who came in contact with him. He appointed Prabhu Nityānanda as the missionary in charge of Bengal. He dispatched six disciples (Gosvāmīs) to Vṛndāvana to preach love in the upcountry.
However, Lord Caitanya's greatest gift was His teaching that Kṛṣṇa can be actually treated as one's lover. In this relationship the Lord is so much attached that He expresses His inability to reciprocate. Kṛṣṇa was so obliged to the gopīs, the cowherd girls of Vṛndāvana, that He felt unable to return their love.
That Mahā-Viṣṇu who lies on the Causal Ocean is actually an expansion of Balarāma, who is Kṛṣṇa's first expansion, and, in the Vṛndāvana pastimes, is the brother of Kṛṣṇa.
The author of Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī, was an inhabitant of Vṛndāvana and a great devotee. He had been living with his family in Katwa, a small town in the district of Burdwan in Bengal. His family also worshiped Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, and once when there was some misunderstanding amongst his family about devotional service, Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja was advised by Nityānanda Prabhu in a dream to leave home and go to Vṛndāvana. Although he was very old, he started out that very night and went to live in Vṛndāvana. While he was there, he met some of the Gosvāmīs, principal disciples of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu. He was requested to write Caitanya-caritāmṛta by the devotees of Vṛndāvana. Although he began this work at a very old age, by the grace of Lord Caitanya he finished it. Today it remains the most authoritative book on Caitanya's philosophy and life.
When Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī was living in Vṛndāvana, there were not very many temples. At that time Madana-mohana, Govindajī and Gopīnātha were the three principal temples. As a resident of Vṛndāvana, he offered his respects to the Deities in these temples and requested God's favor: "My progress in spiritual life is very slow, so l'm asking Your help." In Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Kṛṣṇadāsa first offers his obeisances to Madana-mohana vigraha, the Deity who can help us progress in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. In the execution of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, our first business is to know Kṛṣṇa and our relationship with Him. To know Kṛṣṇa is to know one's self, and to know one's self is to know one's relationship with Kṛṣṇa. Since this relationship can be learned by worshiping Madana-mohana vigraha, Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī first establishes his relationship with Him.
When this is established, Kṛṣṇadāsa begins to worship the functional Deity, Govinda. Govinda resides eternally in Vṛndāvana. In the spiritual world of Vṛndāvana the buildings are made of touchstone, the cows are known as surabhi cows, givers of abundant milk, and the trees are known as wish-fulfilling trees, for they yield whatever one desires. In Vṛndāvana Kṛṣṇa herds the surabhi cows, and He is worshiped by hundreds and thousands of gopīs, cowherd girls, who are all goddesses of fortune. When Kṛṣṇa descends to the material world, this same Vṛndāvana descends just as an entourage accompanies an important personage. Because when Kṛṣṇa comes, His land also comes, Vṛndāvana is not considered to exist in the material world. Therefore devotees take shelter of the Vṛndāvana in India, for it is considered to be a replica of the original Vṛndāvana. Although one may complain that no kalpa-vṛkṣa, wish-fulfilling trees, exist there, when the Gosvāmīs were there, the kalpa-vṛkṣa were present. It is not that one can simply go to such a tree and make demands; one must first become a devotee. The Gosvāmīs would live under a tree for one night only, and the trees would satisfy all their desires. For the common man this may all seem very wonderful, but as one makes progress in devotional service, all this can be realized.
Vṛndāvana is actually experienced as it is by persons who have stopped trying to derive pleasure from material enjoyment. "When will my mind become cleansed of all hankering for material enjoyment so I will be able to see Vṛndāvana?" one great devotee asks. The more Kṛṣṇa conscious we become and the more we advance, the more everything is revealed as spiritual. Thus Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī considered Vṛndāvana in India to be as good as the Vṛndāvana in the spiritual sky, and in Caitanya-caritāmṛta he describes Rādhārāṇī and Kṛṣṇa as seated beneath a wish-fulfilling tree in Vṛndāvana on a throne decorated with valuable jewels. There Kṛṣṇa's dear friends, the cowherd boys and the gopīs, serve Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa by singing, dancing, offering betel nuts and refreshments and decorating Their Lordships with flowers. Even today in India people decorate thrones and recreate this scene during the month of July. Generally at that time people go to Vṛndāvana to offer their respects to the Deities there.
Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī maintains that the Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa Deities show us how to serve Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. The Madana-mohana Deities simply establish that "I am Your eternal servant." With Govinda, however, there is actual acceptance of service, and therefore He is called the functional Deity. The Gopīnātha Deity is Kṛṣṇa as master and proprietor of the gopīs. He attracted all the gopīs, or cowherd girls, by the sound of His flute, and when they came, He danced with them. These activities are all described in the Tenth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. These gopīs were childhood friends of Kṛṣṇa, and they were all married, for in India the girls are married by the age of twelve. The boys, however, are not married before eighteen so Kṛṣṇa, who was fifteen or sixteen at the time, was not married. Nonetheless He called these girls from their homes and invited them to dance with Him. That dance is called the rāsa-līlā dance, and it is the most elevated of all the Vṛndāvana pastimes. Kṛṣṇa is therefore called Gopīnātha because He is the beloved master of the gopīs.
The causeless mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is first appreciated when one comes in touch with a bona fide spiritual master who can bring the conditioned soul to the highest position of devotional life. Therefore Lord Caitanya said that by the mercy of the spiritual master one can achieve the causeless mercy of the Lord, and by the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one can attain the mercy of the bona fide spiritual master.
Thus by the mercy of the spiritual master and Kṛṣṇa, one receives the seed of devotional service. He has only to sow the seed in the field of his heart, just as a gardener sows the seed of a valuable tree. After sowing this seed, one has to water it in the form of chanting and hearing the holy name of the Supreme Lord or by taking part in discussions about the science of devotional service in a society of pure devotees. When the plant of devotional service sprouts up from the seed of devotion, it begins to grow freely. When it is full grown, it surpasses the length and breadth of this universe and enters into the transcendental atmosphere, where everything is bathed in the effulgence of the brahmajyoti. The plant even penetrates this brahmajyoti and gradually enters the planet known as Goloka Vṛndāvana. There the plant takes shelter at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa. That is the ultimate goal of devotional service. After attaining this position, the plant produces fruit, which is known as the fruit of love of Godhead. However, it is necessary for the devotee, or transcendental gardener, to pour water on the plant daily by chanting and hearing. Unless one waters the plant by chanting and hearing, there is every chance that it will dry up.
If one is not particularly careful, even by watering the plant of devotional service, unnecessary weeds will grow and hamper progress. The idea is that when one waters a garden, not only does the desired plant grow more rapidly, but the unwanted plants grow also. If the gardener does not see these impediments and take them out, they will overcome and choke the plant of devotion. If, however, one is careful to guard against the growth of unwanted plants, the plant of devotion grows luxuriantly and reaches the ultimate goal, Goloka Vṛndāvana.
Devotees in the third stage, the stage of friendship, are Śrīdāmā in Vṛndāvana and Bhīma and Arjuna in Dvārakā and on the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra. There are many others also. As far as those relating to Kṛṣṇa in paternal love, they include devotees like Yaśodā and Mahārāja Nanda—that is, Kṛṣṇa's mother, father, uncle and similar relatives. In conjugal love there are the damsels of Vraja, Vṛndāvana, and the queens and goddesses of fortune in Dvārakā. No one can count the vast number of devotees in this rasa.
Attachment to Kṛṣṇa can also be broken down into two categories. On one platform there is attachment with awe and veneration. This type of attachment might be characterized by a certain lack of freedom, and it is exhibited in Mathurā and in the Vaikuṇṭha planets. In these abodes of the Lord, the spirit of transcendental loving service is restricted. However, in Gokula Vṛndāvana, love is freely exchanged, and although the cowherd boys and damsels of Vṛndāvana know that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, they do not show awe and veneration because of the great intimacy of their relationship with Him.
Similarly, when Kṛṣṇa was playing jokes on Rukmiṇī, she feared that Kṛṣṇa might leave her and became so perturbed that she dropped the fan with which she was fanning Him and fainted, falling unconscious on the floor. As far as Yaśodā, Kṛṣṇa's mother in Vṛndāvana, is concerned, it is stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (SB 10.8.45):
- trayyā copaniṣadbhiś ca
- sāṅkhya-yogaiś ca sātvataiḥ
- hariṁ sāmanyatātmajam
The Personality of Godhead, who is worshiped by all the Vedas and Upaniṣads, as well as by the sāṅkhya system of philosophy and all authorized scriptures, was considered to be born in her womb. It is also stated (SB 10.9.12) that Mother Yaśodā bound the child Kṛṣṇa with a rope, as if He were an ordinary son born of her body. Similarly, there are other descriptions of Kṛṣṇa's being treated as an ordinary person (SB 10.18.24). Indeed, when He was defeated in games with His friends, the cowherd boys, Kṛṣṇa would carry them—notably Śrīdāmā—on His shoulders.
Regarding the dealings of the gopīs with Sri Kṛṣṇa in Vṛndāvana, it is described (SB 10.30.36-40) that when Sri Kṛṣṇa took Śrīmatī Rādhikā alone from the rāsa dance, She thought that Kṛṣṇa had left all the other gopīs. Although they were all equally beautiful, He satisfied Her in this way, and She began to think proudly, "My dear Lord Kṛṣṇa has left the beautiful gopīs, and He is satisfied with Me alone." In the forest, She told Kṛṣṇa, "My dear Kṛṣṇa, I am unable to move anymore. Now if You like You can take Me wherever You desire." Kṛṣṇa replied, "Come lean against My shoulder," and as soon as He said this, He disappeared, whereupon Śrīmatī Rādhikā repined greatly.
At this time Rūpa Gosvāmī received information that Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu was preparing to proceed to Vṛndāvana from Jagannātha Purī.
In the meantime, Rūpa Gosvāmī, with his younger brother Śrī Vallabha, had started for Vṛndāvana to meet Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
Then the Lord inquired: "How did you get free from your custody? I understand that you were arrested." Sanātana then narrated the whole story of his release. "I have seen your two brothers," the Lord then informed him, "and I have advised them to proceed toward Vṛndāvana."
Lord Caitanya then described the different features of Kṛṣṇa and requested that Sanātana Gosvāmī listen attentively. He then informed him that Kṛṣṇa, the son of Nanda Mahārāja, is the Absolute Supreme Truth, the cause of all causes and the origin of all emanations and incarnations. Yet in Vraja, or Goloka Vṛndāvana, He is just like a young boy and is the son of Nanda Mahārāja. His form, however, is eternal, full of bliss, and full of knowledge absolute. He is both the shelter of everything and the proprietor as well.
Caitanya Mahāprabhu also gives evidence from Brahma-saṁhitā of the transcendental properties of Lord Kṛṣṇa's body:
- īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ
- anādir ādir govindaḥ
"Kṛṣṇa, who is known as Govinda, is the Supreme Godhead. He has an eternal, blissful spiritual body. He is the origin of all. He has no other origin, and He is the prime cause of all causes." (Bs. 5.1). In this way, Caitanya Mahāprabhu gives evidence that Kṛṣṇa is the original Personality of Godhead, full in all six opulences. It is Śrī Kṛṣṇa whose abode, known as Goloka Vṛndāvana, is the highest planetary system in the spiritual sky.
Lord Caitanya further points out that the Paramātmā, the all-pervading feature situated in everyone's body, is but a partial manifestation or expansion of Kṛṣṇa, but because Kṛṣṇa is the soul of all souls, He is called Paramātmā, the Supreme Self. In this regard, Caitanya quoted another verse from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam concerning the talks between Mahārāja Parīkṣit and Śukadeva Gosvāmī. While hearing of the transcendental pastimes of Kṛṣṇa in Vṛndāvana, Mahārāja Parīkṣit inquired from his spiritual master, Śukadeva Gosvāmī, as to why the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana were so much attached to Kṛṣṇa. To this question Śukadeva Gosvāmī answered:
- kṛṣṇam enam avehi tvam
- ātmānam akhilātmanām
- jagaddhitāya so 'py atra
- dehīvābhāti māyayā
"Kṛṣṇa should be known as the soul of all souls, for He is the soul of all individual souls and the soul of the localized Paramātmā as well. At Vṛndāvana He was acting just like a human being to attract people and to show that He is not formless." (SB 10.14.55)
The personal form of Kṛṣṇa can be divided into two: svayam-rūpa and svayam-prakāśa. As far as His svayam-rūpa (or pastime form) is concerned, it is in that form that He remains always in Vṛndāvana with the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana.
In the two-handed form, as the cowherd son of Nanda Mahārāja, Kṛṣṇa fully exhibits His opulence, form, beauty, wealth, attractiveness and pastimes. Indeed, in some of the Vaiṣṇava literatures it is found that sometimes, in His form as Vāsudeva, He becomes attracted to the form of Govinda in Vṛndāvana. Thus as Vāsudeva He sometimes desires to enjoy as the cowherd boy Govinda does, although the Govinda form and the Vāsudeva form are one and the same.
As far as the Vāsudeva form is concerned, the three expansions manifested from Him are Keśava, Nārāyaṇa and Mādhava. The three forms of Saṅkarṣaṇa are known as Govinda, Viṣṇu and Śrī Madhusūdana. (It should be noted, however, that this Govinda form is not the same Govinda form that is manifested in Vṛndāvana as the son of Nanda Mahārāja.) Similarly, Pradyumna is also divided into three forms known as Trivikrama, Vāmana and Śrīdhara; and the three forms of Aniruddha are known as Hṛṣīkeśa, Padmanābha and Dāmodara.
According to the Hayaśīrṣa-pañcarātra, there are sixteen forms, and these forms are named differently according to the situations of the disc and mace. The conclusion is that the Supreme Original Personality of Godhead is Kṛṣṇa. He is called līlā-puruṣottama, and He resides principally in Vṛndāvana as the son of Nanda. It is also learned from the Hayaśīrṣa-pañcarātra that there are nine forms protecting each of the two Purīs known as the Mathurā Purī and the Dvārakā Purī: Vāsudeva, Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha protect one, and Nārāyaṇa, Nṛsiṁha, Hayagrīva, Varāha and Brahmā—protect the other. These are different manifestations of the prakāśa and vilāsa forms of Lord Kṛṣṇa.
His abode is the supreme planet known as Goloka Vṛndāvana, and by His will, this Goloka Vṛndāvana is manifested in this universe and in other universes as well. Thus the Lord is always in His supreme abode, Goloka Vṛndāvana, and by His supreme will His activities there are also manifested in innumerable universes. When He appears, He appears in those particular places, and in every manifestation His six opulences are displayed.
In each and every one of these Vaikuṇṭha planets an expansion of Kṛṣṇa has His eternal abode, and Kṛṣṇa Himself has His original, eternal abode called Kṛṣṇaloka or Goloka Vṛndāvana.
In this universe even the largest planet lies in one corner of outer space. Although the sun is thousands of times larger than the earth, it still lies in one corner of outer space. Similarly, each of the infinite planets, although unlimited in length and breadth, lies in a corner of the spiritual sky known as the brahmajyoti. In the Brahma-saṁhitā this brahmajyoti is described as niṣkalam anantam aśeṣa-bhūtam, or undivided and unlimited and without a trace of the material modes of nature. All the Vaikuṇṭha planets are like petals of a lotus flower, and the principal part of that lotus, called Kṛṣṇaloka or Goloka Vṛndāvana, is the center of all the Vaikuṇṭhas.
When Lord Kṛṣṇa was within this universe, Brahmā played a trick on Him in order to confirm that the cowherd boy in Vṛndāvana was actually Kṛṣṇa Himself.
Lord Caitanya further explained that not only Kṛṣṇaloka but even Vṛndāvana, Lord Kṛṣṇa's abode on this planet, cannot be estimated as far as potency is concerned. From one point of view, Vṛndāvana is estimated to be thirty-two square miles in area, yet in one part of this Vṛndāvana all the Vaikuṇṭhas exist. The area of the present Vṛndāvana miles in area, and Vṛndāvana City is estimated to be about sixteen krośas, or thirty-two miles. How it is all the Vaikuṇṭhas exist there is beyond material calculation. Thus Caitanya Mahāprabhu proclaimed the potencies and opulences of Kṛṣṇa to be unlimited. Whatever He told Sanātana Gosvāmī was only partial, but by such a partial presentation one can try to imagine the whole.
From revealed scriptures it is understood that Kṛṣṇa lives in three transcendental places. The most confidential residence of Kṛṣṇa is Goloka Vṛndāvana. It is there that He stays with His father, mother and friends, exhibits His transcendental relationships and bestows His mercy amongst His eternal entourage. There yogamāyā acts as His maidservant in the rāsa-līlā dance. The residents of Vrajabhūmi think, "The Lord is glorified by particles of His transcendental mercy and affection, and we, the residents of Vṛndāvana, have not the slightest anxiety due to His merciful existence." As stated in Brahma-saṁhitā (5.43), all the Vaikuṇṭha planets in the spiritual sky (known as Viṣṇuloka) are situated in the planet known as Kṛṣṇaloka, Goloka Vṛndāvana.
Although He has innumerable pastimes, the most important is that of Kṛṣṇa in human form frolicking in Vṛndāvana, dancing with the gopīs, playing with the Pāṇḍavas on the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra and playing in Mathurā and Dvārakā. Of His important pastimes in human form, the most important are those pastimes in which He appears as a cowherd boy, a newly grown youth who plays a flute. It is to be understood that a mere partial manifestation of His pastimes in Goloka, Mathurā and Dvārāvatī, or Dvārakā, can overflood the whole universe with love of Godhead. Every living entity can be attracted by the beautiful qualities of Kṛṣṇa.
Kṛṣṇa freely moves amongst His friends as a cowherd boy in Vṛndāvana, and when He plays His flute, all living creatures, mobile and immobile, become overwhelmed with ecstasy. They quiver, and tears flow from their eyes. Of Kṛṣṇa's various opulences, His conjugal love is the summit. He is the master of all riches, all strength, all fame, all beauty, all knowledge and all renunciation, and out of these, His perfect beauty is His conjugal attraction. The form of Kṛṣṇa, the conjugal beauty, is eternally existent in Kṛṣṇa alone, whereas His other opulences are present in His Nārāyaṇa form.
"What great penance and austerities the damsels of Vṛndāvana must have undergone, for they are able to drink the nectar of Kṛṣṇa, who is all beauty, all strength, all riches, all fame and whose bodily luster is the center of all beauty."
The attitude of the gopīs is like a mirror upon which the reflection of Kṛṣṇa's beauty develops at every moment. Both Kṛṣṇa and the gopīs increase their transcendental beauty at every moment, and there is always transcendental competition between them. No one can appreciate the beauty of Kṛṣṇa by properly discharging his occupational duty, or by austerities, mystic yoga, cultivation of knowledge or by prayers. Only those who are on the transcendental platform of love of God, who out of love engage in devotional service, can appreciate the transcendental beauty of Kṛṣṇa. Such beauty is the essence of all opulences and is only appreciated in Goloka Vṛndāvana and nowhere else. In the form of Nārāyaṇa the beauties of mercy, fame, etc., are all established by Kṛṣṇa, but Kṛṣṇa's gentleness and magnanimity do not exist in Nārāyaṇa. They are found only in Kṛṣṇa.
There is no essential difference between a fully surrendered soul and a person in the renounced order of life. The only difference is that a fully surrendered soul is completely dependent upon Kṛṣṇa. There are six basic guidelines for surrender. The first is that one should accept everything that is favorable for the discharge of devotional service, and one should be determined to accept the process. The second is that one should give up everything that is unfavorable to the discharge of devotional service, and one should be determined to give it all up. Thirdly, one should be convinced that only Kṛṣṇa can protect him and should have full faith that the Lord will give that protection. An impersonalist thinks that his actual identity is in being one with Kṛṣṇa, but a devotee does not destroy his identity in this way. He lives with full faith that Kṛṣṇa will kindly protect him in all respects. Fourthly, a devotee should always accept Kṛṣṇa as his maintainer. Those who are interested in the fruits of activities generally expect protection from the demigods, but a devotee of Kṛṣṇa does not look to any demigod for protection. He is fully convinced that Kṛṣṇa will protect him from all unfavorable circumstances. Fifth, a devotee is always conscious that his desires are not independent; unless Kṛṣṇa fulfills them, they cannot be fulfilled. Lastly, one should always think of himself as the most fallen among souls so that Kṛṣṇa will take care of him.
Such a surrendered soul should take shelter of a holy place like Vṛndāvana, Mathurā, Dvārakā, Māyāpur, etc., and should surrender himself unto the Lord, saying, "My Lord, from today I am Yours. You can protect me or kill me as You like."
In addition to these, there are thirty-five items of devotional service, and they can be analyzed as follows: (1) hearing, (2) chanting, (3) remembering, (4) worshiping, (5) praying, (6) serving, (7) engaging as a servitor, (8) being friendly, (9) offering everything, (10) dancing before the Deity, (11) singing, (12) informing, (13) offering obeisances, (14) standing up to show respect to the devotees, (15) following a devotee when he gets up to go to the door, (16) entering the temple of the Lord, (17) circumambulating the temple of the Lord, (18) reading prayers, (19) vibrating hymns, (20) performing saṅkīrtana, or congregational chanting, (21) smelling the incense and flowers offered to the Deity, (22) accepting prasāda (food offered to Kṛṣṇa), (23) attending the ārātrika ceremony, (24) seeing the Deity, (25) offering palatable foodstuffs to the Lord, (26) meditating, (27) offering water to the tulasī tree, (28) offering respect to the Vaiṣṇavas or advanced devotees, (29) living in Mathurā or Vṛndāvana, (30) understanding Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, (31) trying one's utmost to attain Kṛṣṇa, (32) expecting the mercy of Kṛṣṇa, (33) performing ceremonial functions with the devotees of Kṛṣṇa, (34) surrendering in all respects, (35) observing different ceremonial functions. To these thirty-five items, another four can be added: (1) marking one's body with sandalwood pulp to show that one is a Vaiṣṇava, (2) painting one's body with the holy names of the Lord, (3) covering one's body with the remnants of the Deity covers, (4) accepting caraṇāmṛta, the water which washes the Deity. These four additional items make thirty-nine items for devotional service in all, and out of all of these the following five are most important: (1) to associate with devotees, (2) to chant the holy name of the Lord, (3) to hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, (4) to live in a holy place such as Mathurā or Vṛndāvana, (5) to serve the Deity with great devotion. These items are especially mentioned by Rūpa Gosvāmī in his book Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu.
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has recommended that one live in the association of those who are of the same mentality; therefore it is necessary to form some association for Kṛṣṇa consciousness and live together for the cultivation of knowledge of Kṛṣṇa and devotional service. The most important item for living in that association is the mutual understanding of Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. When faith and devotion are developed, they become transformed into the worship of the Deity, chanting of the holy name and living in a holy place like Mathurā and Vṛndāvana.
The inhabitants of Vṛndāvana, Vrajavāsīs, are living examples of devotional service. Theirs is ideal devotional service with attachment, and such devotion can be found only in Vrajabhūmi, Vṛndāvana.
Since all the inhabitants of Vrajabhūmi, Vṛndāvana, are very dear to Kṛṣṇa, a devotee selects one of the inhabitants and follows in his footsteps in order to be successful in his own devotional service. A pure devotee who is attached to the Lord always follows in the footsteps of a personality of Vrajabhūmi. It is advised in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.2.294) that a pure devotee attached to devotional service should always remember the activities of a particular inhabitant of Vraja, even though he is not able to live in Vrajabhūmi or Vṛndāvana. In this way he can always think of Vrajabhūmi and Vṛndāvana.
Lord Caitanya, describing the symptoms of a person who has developed from faith to the stage of bhāva, states that such a person is never agitated even if there are causes for agitation. Nor does such a person waste his time even for a moment; he is always anxious to do something for Kṛṣṇa. Even if he has no engagement, he will find some work to do for Kṛṣṇa's satisfaction. Nor does such a person like anything which is not connected with Kṛṣṇa. Although he is situated in the best position, he does not hanker after honor or personal respect. He is confident in his work, and he is never under the impression that he is not making progress toward the supreme goal of life-going back to Godhead. Since he is fully convinced of his progress, he is always confident and keeps himself busy to achieve the highest goal. He is very much attached to gratifying the Lord and in chanting or hearing about the Lord, and he is always attached to describing the transcendental qualities of the Lord. He also prefers to live in holy places like Mathurā, Vṛndāvana or Dvārakā. Such characteristics are visible in one who has developed to the stage of bhāva.
The situations known as rūḍha and adhirūḍha are possible in the conjugal love relationship. Conjugal love exhibited by the queens at Dvārakā is called rūḍha, and conjugal love exhibited at Vṛndāvana by the damsels of Vraja is called adhirūḍha. The highest perfection of adhirūḍha affection in conjugal love involve meeting (mādana) and separation (mohana). In the ecstasy of mādana, meeting, there is kissing, and in the ecstasy of mohana, separation, there is udghūrṇā and citrajalpa. As far as citrajalpa is concerned, in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, there is a portion known as Bhramara-gītā in which various kinds of citra jalpa are mentioned. Udghūrṇā is a symptom of separation, and there is also a symptom called transcendental insanity. In that transcendental insanity one thinks that he himself has become the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In such an ecstasy, he imitates the symptoms of Kṛṣṇa in different ways.
The supreme lover is Kṛṣṇa, and He is situated in Vṛndāvana, and the supreme beloved is Rādhārāṇī.
The Lord then told Sanātana Gosvāmī that He had previously taught his younger brother, Rūpa Gosvāmī, at Prayāga (Allahabad). The Lord assured Sanātana Gosvāmī that He had empowered Rūpa Gosvāmī to spread the knowledge He had given him. The Lord then similarly ordered Sanātana Gosvāmī to write books on the transcendental loving service of the Lord, and He authorized him to excavate the different sites of Kṛṣṇa's pastimes in the district of Mathurā. Sanātana Gosvāmī was also advised to construct temples in Vṛndāvana and to write books on the principles of Vaiṣṇavism, as authorized by Lord Caitanya Himself. Sanātana Gosvāmī executed all these desires of the Lord—he constructed the temple of Madana-mohana at Vṛndāvana, and he wrote books on the principles of devotional service, such as Hari-bhakti-vilāsa.
Above that planetary system is the spiritual sky where innumerable spiritual planets, known as Vaikuṇṭhas, are situated. Above these Vaikuṇṭha planets there is Kṛṣṇa's planet known as Goloka Vṛndāvana. The word goloka means "planet of the cows." Because Kṛṣṇa is very fond of cows, His abode is known as Goloka. Goloka Vṛndāvana is larger than all the material and spiritual planets put together. In the prayer contained in the Harivaṁśa, Indra admitted that he could not understand the situation of Goloka even by asking Brahmā. Those who are devotees of the Nārāyaṇa expansion of Kṛṣṇa attain the Vaikuṇṭha planets, but it is very difficult to reach Goloka Vṛndāvana.
The mind of Śukadeva Gosvāmī was attracted by the transcendental pastimes of Lord Kṛṣṇa, and the minds of the damsels of Vṛndāvana were attracted by His personal beauty. Rukmiṇī's attention was attracted by His bodily features and transcendental qualities, and the mind of the goddess of fortune was attracted by His flute playing and other transcendental features. Lord Kṛṣṇa attracts the minds of all young girls and elderly ladies by His childlike activities. He also attracts the minds of His friends by His friendly activities. When He appeared in Vṛndāvana, He even attracted the birds, beasts, trees and plants. Indeed, everyone became attracted in love and affection for Kṛṣṇa.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead is the Absolute Truth, but He is manifested by the expansions of His different energies also. Those who follow the regulative principles of devotional service ultimately attain the Vaikuṇṭha planets in the spiritual world, but one who follows the principles of love in devotional service attains to the supreme abode, the highest planet in the spiritual world known as Kṛṣṇaloka or Goloka Vṛndāvana.
"O supremely virtuous one, O Personality of Godhead (Balarāma), just see how these bees and wasps are following You, glorifying Your transcendental fame and worshiping You. Actually these wasps and bees are not as they appear; they are great sages who are taking this opportunity to worship the supreme soul. Although You are not known by ordinary persons, they know You, and they are following and glorifying You." There is a similar verse in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.15.7) which describes the reception given to Balarāma and Kṛṣṇa by the peacocks of Vṛndāvana. "O worshipable one, just see how the peacocks that are returning to their nests are receiving You with full pleasure. These peacocks are just like the damsels of Vraja. The cuckoos on the branches of the trees are also receiving You in their own way. The residents of Vṛndāvana are so glorious that everyone is prepared to render devotional service to the Lord."
The Lord then told Sanātana Gosvāmī that the association of good devotees, engagement in the transcendental service of the Lord, the understanding of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the chanting of the holy name of the Lord, and residence in a holy place like Vṛndāvana or Mathurā are all very important for elevation to the transcendental plane. One need not attain all five of these items; if one is expert in just one of them, he will, without fail, be elevated to the stage of love of Godhead.
When one becomes attracted by the transcendental qualities of Kṛṣṇa, he begins devotional service. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.15.8) glorifies the land of Vṛndāvana in this way:
- dhanyeyam adya dharaṇī tṛṇa-vīrudhas tvat-
- pāda-spṛśo druma-latāḥ karajābhimṛṣṭāḥ
- nadyo 'drayaḥ khaga-mṛgāḥ sadayāvalokair
- gopyo 'ntareṇa bhujayor api yat-spṛhā śrīḥ
"This land of Vrajabhūmi is glorified by the touch of Your feet. Being touched by Your fingers, the creepers also glorify You. When You look on the hills, rivers and lower animals, they are all glorified, and the gopīs, being embraced by Your transcendental arms, are also glorified." The gopīs (cowherd girls) glorified Vṛndāvana in the following words: "Dear friends, all these inhabitants of Vrajabhūmi—including birds, beasts, and trees—are glorified when they see Lord Kṛṣṇa going to the pasturing ground with His friends and Balarāma."
Sanātana Gosvāmī was a great devotee of the Lord, and he was directly instructed to spread the cult of bhakti by writing many books. There is a description of Sanātana in Caitanya-candrodaya, and it is mentioned there that Sanātana Gosvāmī was one of the most important personalities in the government of Nawab Hussain. His brother, Rūpa Gosvāmī, was also a minister in the government, but both of them gave up their lucrative government posts to become mendicants and serve the Supreme Lord. Externally the brothers became just like ordinary mendicants, but their hearts were filled with transcendental loving service and a great love for the cowherd boy of Vṛndāvana. Indeed, Sanātana Gosvāmī was dear to all pure devotees of his time.
There is a very nice song sung by Śrī Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura, a great devotee and ācārya in the disciplic succession from Lord Caitanya. Narottama dāsa sings: "When will there be transcendental vibrations all over my body simply by my hearing the name of Gaurāṅga? When will tears incessantly flow from my eyes simply by my uttering the names of the Lord? When will Lord Nityānanda have mercy upon me, and when will all my desires for material enjoyment become insignificant? When shall I be purified by giving up all contaminations of material enjoyment? And when shall I be able to see the transcendental abode, Vṛndāvana? When shall I be eager to accept the six Gosvāmīs as my prime guidance? And when will I be able to understand the conjugal love of Kṛṣṇa?" No one should be eager to understand the conjugal love of Kṛṣṇa without undergoing disciplinary training under the six Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana.
When Lord Caitanya received news of this criticism from His students and disciples, He simply smiled and started for Mathurā and Vṛndāvana.
The Purāṇas are called supplementary Vedic literatures. Because sometimes in the original Vedas the subject matter is too difficult for the common man to understand, the Purāṇas explain matters simply by the use of stories and historical incidents. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.14.32) it is stated that Mahārāja Nanda and the cowherd men and inhabitants of Vṛndāvana are very fortunate because the Supreme Brahman, the Personality of Godhead, full of bliss, engages in His eternal pastimes as their friend.
After visiting the temple of Jiyara-nṛsiṁha, the Lord proceeded further south into India and ultimately reached the bank of the Godāvarī. While on the bank of this river, the Lord remembered the Yamunā River in Vṛndāvana, and He considered the trees on the bank to be the forest of Vṛndāvana. Thus He was in ecstasy there. After taking a bath on the banks of the Godāvarī, the Lord sat near the bank and began chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare.
In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is found that when the gopīs of Vṛndāvana desired Kṛṣṇa as their husband, they prayed to the spiritual energy, yogamāyā, for the fulfillment of their desire.
Even the transcendental relationship experienced by a devotee of Nārāyaṇa in Vaikuṇṭha is incomplete in that it is not realization of a relationship with Kṛṣṇa in Goloka Vṛndāvana. The devotees of Kṛṣṇa do not relish devotional service to Nārāyaṇa because devotional service to Kṛṣṇa is so attractive that Kṛṣṇa's devotees do not desire to worship any other form. Thus the gopīs of Vṛndāvana do not like to see Kṛṣṇa as the husband of Rukmiṇī, nor do they address Him as Rukmiṇīramaṇa. In Vṛndāvana Kṛṣṇa is addressed as Rādhākrṣṇa, or Kṛṣṇa, the property of Rādhārāṇī.
In Gīta-govinda there is a verse which states that the enemy of Kaṁsa, Kṛṣṇa, also wanted to be entangled in love affairs with women and thus simply took Rādhārāṇī away and left the company of the other damsels of Vraja. Kṛṣṇa was very much afflicted by Rādhārāṇī's absence and, being thus mentally distressed, began to search Her out along the banks of the Yamunā. Failing to find Her, He entered the bushes of Vṛndāvana and began to lament.
"Because You are asking me to speak of the pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa," Rāmānanda Rāya humbly submitted, "I will obey Your order. I will speak in whatever way You like." Thus Rāmānanda Rāya humbly submitted himself as a puppet before Lord Caitanya, the puppet master. He only wanted to dance according to the will of Caitanya Mahāprabhu. He compared his tongue to a stringed instrument, saying, "You are the player of that instrument." Thus as Lord Caitanya would play, Rāmānanda Rāya would vibrate the sound.
He said that Lord Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the source of all incarnations and the cause of all causes. There are innumerable Vaikuṇṭha planets, innumerable incarnations, expansions of the Supreme Lord, and innumerable universes also, and of all these existences the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa is the only source. His transcendental body is composed of eternity, bliss and knowledge, and He is known as the son of Mahārāja Nanda and the inhabitant of Goloka Vṛndāvana. He is full with six opulences—all wealth, strength, fame, beauty, knowledge and renunciation. In Brahma-saṁhitā (5.1) it is confirmed that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Lord, the Lord of all lords, and His transcendental body is sac-cid-ānanda. No one is the source of Kṛṣṇa, but Kṛṣṇa is the source of everyone. He is the supreme cause of all causes and the resident of Vṛndāvana. He is also very attractive, just like Cupid. One can worship Him by kāma-gāyatrī mantra.
In Brahma-saṁhitā the transcendental land of Vṛndāvana is described as being always spiritual. That spiritual land is populated by goddesses of fortune, who are known as gopīs. These are all beloved of Kṛṣṇa, and Kṛṣṇa is the only lover of all those gopīs. The trees of that land are kalpa-vṛkṣa, wish fulfilling trees, and one can have anything he wants from them. The land is made of touchstone and the water of nectar. In that land all speech is song, and all walking is dancing, and one's constant companion is the flute. Everything is self-luminous, just like the sun in this material world. The human form of life is meant for understanding this transcendental land of Vṛndāvana, and one who is fortunate should cultivate knowledge of Vṛndāvana and its residents. In that supreme abode are surabhi cows that overflood the land with milk. Since not even a moment there is misused, there is no past, present or future. An expansion of this Vṛndāvana, which is the supreme abode of Kṛṣṇa, is also present on this earth, and superior devotees worship it as the supreme abode. However, no one can appreciate Vṛndāvana without being highly elevated in spiritual knowledge, Kṛṣṇa consciousness. According to ordinary experience, Vṛndāvana appears to be just like an ordinary village, but in the eyes of a highly elevated devotee, it is as good as the original Vṛndāvana. A great saintly ācārya has sung: "When will my mind be cleared of all contamination so I will be able to see Vṛndāvana as it is? And when will I be able to understand the literatures left by the Gosvāmīs so that I will be able to know of the transcendental pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa?" The loving affairs between Kṛṣṇa and the gopīs in Vṛndāvana are also transcendental.
The word klīm added to the gāyatrī mantra is explained in Brahma-saṁhitā as the transcendental seed of love of Godhead, or the seed of the kāma-gāyatrī. The object is Kṛṣṇa, who is the ever green Cupid, and by utterance of klīm mantra Kṛṣṇa is worshiped. It is also stated in the Gopāla-tāpanī Upaniṣad that when Kṛṣṇa is spoken of as Cupid, one should not think of Him as the Cupid of this material world. As already explained, Vṛndāvana is the spiritual abode of Kṛṣṇa, and the word Cupid is also spiritual and transcendental. One should not take the material Cupid and Kṛṣṇa to be on the same level. The material Cupid represents the attraction of the external flesh and body, but the spiritual Cupid is the attraction by which the Supersoul attracts the individual soul. Actually lust and sex are there in spiritual life, but when the spirit soul is embodied in material elements, that spiritual urge is expressed through the material body and is therefore pervertedly reflected. When one actually becomes conversant in the science of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, he can understand that his material desire for sex is abominable, whereas spiritual sex is desirable.
Spiritual sex is of two kinds: one in accordance with the constitutional position of the self and the other in accordance with the object. When one understands the truth about this life but is not completely cleansed of material contamination, he is not factually situated in the transcendental abode, Vṛndāvana, although he may understand spiritual life. When, however, one becomes free from the sex urges of the material body, he can actually attain the supreme abode of Vṛndāvana. When one is so situated, he can utter the kāma-gāyatrī and kāma-bīja mantra.
After hearing Rāmānanda Rāya speak of the qualities of Rādhā Kṛṣṇa, Lord Caitanya desired to hear from him about the reciprocation of love between Them. Rāmānanda Rāya described Kṛṣṇa as dhīra-lalita, a word which describes a person who is very cunning and youthful, who is always expert in joking, who is without anxiety and who is always subservient to his girl friend. Kṛṣṇa is always engaged in love affairs with Rādhārāṇī, and He takes to the bushes of Vṛndāvana to enjoy His lusty activities with Her. Thus He successfully carries out His lusty instincts. In Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu it is stated:. "By His impudent and daring talks about sex indulgence, Kṛṣṇa obliged Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī to close Her eyes, and taking advantage of this, Kṛṣṇa painted many pictures on Her breasts. These pictures served as subject matter for Rādhārāṇī's friends to joke about. Thus Kṛṣṇa was always engaged in lusty activities, and thus He made His youthful life successful."
The sages mentioned in the Upaniṣads and in śruti also desire the post of the gopīs, and they also follow in the footsteps of the gopīs in order to attain that highest goal of life. This is confirmed in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.87.23) when it is said that the sages practice prāṇāyāma (trance) by controlling the breathing process, mind and senses through the mystic yoga practice. Thus they try to merge into the Supreme Brahman. This same goal is attained by atheists who deny the existence of God. If such atheists are killed by an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, they also merge into the Brahman existence of the Supreme Lord. However, when the damsels of Vṛndāvana worship Śrī Kṛṣṇa, it is as though they have been bitten by a snake, for Kṛṣṇa's body is compared with the body of a snake. A snake's body is never straight; it is always curling. Similarly, Kṛṣṇa often stands in a three curved posture, and He has bitten the gopīs with transcendental love. The gopīs are certainly better situated than all mystic yogīs and others who desire to merge into the Supreme Brahman. The sages of Daṇḍakāraṇya also follow in the footsteps of the damsels of Vraja in order to attain a similar position. One cannot attain that position simply by following the regulative principles. Rather, one must seriously follow the principles of the gopīs. This is confirmed in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.9.21) wherein it is stated that Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the son of Śrīmatī Yaśodā, is not easily available to those following the principles of mental speculation but is easily available to all kinds of living beings who follow the path of devotional service.
If one wrongly thinks that the material body is as perfect as the spiritual body and begins to imitate the damsels of Vṛndāvana, he becomes infested with the Māyāvādī impersonal philosophy. The impersonalists recommend a process of ahaṁ grahopāsanā by which one worships his own body as the Supreme. Thinking in this way, such pseudo-transcendentalists dress themselves as the damsels of Vraja. Such activities are not acceptable in devotional service. Even Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, the most authoritative ācārya in the Gauḍīya sampradāya, has condemned these imitators. The process of transcendental realization is to follow in the footsteps of the associates of the Supreme Lord; therefore if one thinks himself to be a direct associate of the Supreme Lord, he is condemned. According to authorized Vaiṣṇava principles, one should follow a particular devotee, and not think of himself as Kṛṣṇa's associate.
In this way Rāmānanda Rāya explained that one should accept the mood of the damsels of Vraja. In Caitanya-caritāmṛta it is clearly said that one should accept the emotional activities and not imitate the dress of the associates of Kṛṣṇa. One should also always meditate upon the affairs between Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa in the transcendental world. One should think of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa twenty-four hours a day and eternally engage in Their service. One need not externally change his dress. By following the mood of the associates and friends of Rādhārāṇī, one can ultimately achieve the perfectional stage and be transferred to Goloka Vṛndāvana, the transcendental abode of Kṛṣṇa.
"And out of all songs, what song do you think is the best of all?" Caitanya Mahāprabhu asked. And Rāmānanda replied that any song which describes the pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa is the best song. In conditional life, the soul is captivated by sex. All fictions—dramas and novels—and material songs describe love between men and women. Since people are so attracted to this kind of literature, Kṛṣṇa appeared in this material world and displayed His transcendental loving affairs with the gopīs. There is an immense literature dealing with the transactions between the gopīs and Kṛṣṇa, and anyone who takes shelter of this literature or of the stories about Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa can enjoy actual happiness. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.33.36) it is said that the Lord displayed His pastimes in Vṛndāvana in order to reveal His actual life. Any intelligent person who tries to understand the pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa is most fortunate. The songs that tell of those pastimes are the greatest songs in the world.
"Where should a person live, giving up all other pleasures?" Lord Caitanya next inquired. Rāmānanda replied that one should give up all other pleasures and should live in Vṛndāvana where Lord Kṛṣṇa had so many pastimes. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.47.61) Uddhava says that it is best to live in Vṛndāvana even if one has to live as a plant or creeper. It was in Vṛndāvana that the Supreme Lord lived and it was there that the gopīs worshiped the Supreme Lord, the ultimate goal of all Vedic knowledge.
Being very satisfied, Lord Caitanya smiled and showed Rāmānanda His real form as the combination of Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. Thus Lord Caitanya was Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself with the external features of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. His transcendental ability to become two and then to become one again was revealed to Rāmānanda Rāya. Those who are fortunate enough to understand Lord Caitanya as well as the Vṛndāvana pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa can be able, by the mercy of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī, to know about the real identity of Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya Mahāprabhu.