10 June 1996 Houston
The Gift of Krsna-prema
[A translation of Hindi Hari-katha spoken by Nitya Lila Pravista Om Visnupada Astottara Sata Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja – Srila Gurudeva]
To listen to the audio files of this class, please click on these links:
[Vishnu dasa introduces Srila Gurudeva to the audience in Hindi]
Vishnu dasa: We are very fortunate, that amidst us we have the presence of Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja. He is from Sri Kesavaji Gaudiya Math, Mathura and Sri Rupa Sanatana Gaudiya Math, Vrindavana. Some of you know who Maharaja is. Like I said yesterday, describing Maharaja would be like trying to describe the depth of the ocean. Maharaja is an Acharya of the Gaudiya disciplic lineage that has originated from Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Eighty years back, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakuraji founded the Gaudiya Math to propagate the message of Caitanya Mahaprabhu all over the world. After the manifestation of the Gaudiya Math, on his arrival in the West, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Svami Prabhupada established ISKCON. The parent organization is the Gaudiya Matha, and our Maharaja’s Guruji is Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharajaji who gave Srila Prabhupadaji Sannyasa-diksha. Maharajaji accepted Sannyasa at a young age. Since then, he has maintained and looked after Sri Kesavaji Gaudiya Math, Mathura and Rupa Sanatana Gaudiya Math of Vrindavana. He has preached the message of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu all over India.
Maharajaji is considered an authority of Gaudiya Vaisnavism. He is considered an authority of the vista of all tattva siddhanta of the Sanatana dharma of India. He has written over fifty books. Many residents of Vrindavana and Mathura have been initiated by Maharaja. To take birth in these divine abodes of the Lord, one has to be supremely fortunate; and many of these most fortunate residents have accepted initiation from Maharaja. Maharaja also has disciples all over India, and indeed, all over the world. Accepting the repeated requests of devotees, Maharaja has come to the West for the first time to shower his mercy on us. In the course of his preaching, Maharaja visited Holland and England. The people there were greatly inspired by Maharaja and decided to accompany him to America. So today, you can see many people who have followed him here to America from various countries. By seeing this, I am reminded of the scene when Krishna would play on His Venu, and all the Vrajavasis would run towards Him on hearing Him play the flute. So, Maharaja will speak on the Bhagavat today and from Wednesday to Saturday, Maharaja will lucidly explain the Bhagavat at the Gandhi center.
So, my humble request to you all is that you please come with your family and friends and listen to the nectarean katha of Srila Maharajaji.
Assembled audience: Hare Krishna.
[Srila Gurudeva speaks his class in Hindi]
Srila Gurudeva: I live in Vrindavana, India. Mathura and Vrindavana are near each other. Not even a mile’s distance separates them; rather, only the length of two fingers separates them. A person who resides there does not wish to go to any other place. Only the unfortunate leave Mathura-Vrindavana and go to other places. People continuously perform worship and engage in austerities; just so they can become a particle of dust, or a flower, or a blade of grass in Vrindavana. This way they will be showered by the dust of Vrindavana and their lives will be successful. Personalities like Brahma and Sankara greatly perform dhyana and yearn to become a particle of dust in Vrindavana. But, I have left Vrindavana and come here. Externally, I may seem to have left Vrindavana and come here. But, I see that the transcendental beauty, opulence, and fragrance of Vrindavana should manifest in all the countries. We Indians especially have faith in and pray to Radha-Krishna, Sita-Ramacandra, and other incarnations of the Lord. We should support and help those people who are engaged in worshiping the Lord. We should never abandon the Vedic culture of India. If we abandon our culture, we will not obtain peace and happiness. Our culture has awakened the whole world. So, I gravely considered, “I must go to a place where Indians are. There are other people, who are not Indians, but they are also the servants of Krishna; they are His part and parcels. Therefore, I want to help everyone realize their relationship with Krishna.” Unless self-realization takes place…
Oh little boy, be silent. Don’t disturb.
Until self-realization takes place, and until your devotion to the Lord who creates, maintains, and preserves this world has not awakened; you cannot be happy and peaceful. You all know how Ravana had a city of gold, but because he opposed Rama, what became of him? He was destroyed. You cannot find happiness in money. Peace and happiness cannot be bought by money, if this was possible, America would have bought all the peace and happiness of this world and the poor Indians and people of other nationalities would be left ruing. So, peace and happiness transcends these material conditions. How will you obtain peace and tranquility? You will only obtain it if you surrender to that Person who has created this infinite cosmos. Surrendering to Him, beg for His mercy. He is not far away from us; He is present in all of us. There is no place in this world where He is not present. You may call for your husband, or son, but if they are far away from you, so much so, that they are even out of the telephone range, then will they hear you? Will they hear you if you call out to them from the terrace? No, they will not respond. But, Krishna is never far away from you. Pray to Him by your mind, and call out, “He Prabhu!” There is no need to even call out to Him, Krishna will understand by Himself. There is no place in this world where He is not present. Kamsa, Jarasandha, Ravana, and Hiranyakasipu thought, “I am the emperor, the controller of the entire world.” They believed in the existence of Brahma, but they thought, “Krishna is not Brahma, He is not Parabrahma.” Their conception of Brahma was like that a shapeless, attribute less, colorless entity. They thought, “Krishna is a small boy. He cannot be Brahma. He who conducts the affairs of this world must be someone else. In fact, this entity who administers the world is nirakara, formless, and niranjana. He is formless. He cannot be seen by us.”
Thus, even when Krishna was in front of these demons, they did not realize that He was Parabrahman. On seeing Krishna, they thought, “He is an ordinary boy. He is just a cowherd boy. He is a gopa-balaka.” They could not understand Krishna. People in general have the idea that, “Brahma is formless, nirakara. He is nirguna, without any qualities. He cannot be seen by these eyes. That entity, which cannot be seen by these eyes, is formless. This entity has no shape or color.” I will speak on this point of contention.
Today, I met a Bengali family from Calcutta. They questioned me, “The person who administers this world is known as Paramatma, Ishvara, or Bhagavan. He is the object of our worship. But, does He possess any form?” Christians don’t accept the form of the Lord. Buddhists don’t accept the form of the Lord, neither do the Muslims. When they see us worshiping the deities, they speak of it as idolatry. When they see us worshiping Krishna, Ramacandra, or Sankaraji, they remark, “This worship is useless. Because the Lord has no form.” Refuting this fallacious belief, I will speak on Srimad Bhagavatham and Srimad Bhagavad Gita. I know that most of the people have the belief that Bhagavan has no form. I will speak a little on this contentious topic, and the audience can decide by themselves on what the truth is.
There is a creator behind this world. This is true and no consideration can refute this fact. All the philosophers and theologians of this world, and all the people who place their trust in dharma at least a little, whoever they may be; a Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Hindu—all of them agree that this world has been created by Bhagavan. They believe that God has created this world. But what is the meaning of God? No word is meaningless. G-O-D, God; ‘G’ stands for generator, He who creates this world. ‘O’ stands for operator, He who nourishes His creation.
On hearing this, you may say, “My parents look after me. They nourish me. Why will Bhagavan nourish me?”
“You are saying the right thing. But you see externally. When you are in the womb of your mother, your mother eats rotis; but how is milk produced from her breasts? A barren woman also has breasts, but why is milk not produced from them? Only the lady who has a baby will have milk produced in her for a year. Then the supply of milk will be stopped.” Why is the production of milk stopped? When a baby is in the womb of its mother, it is automatically nourished by the food the mother consumes. Who gives the intelligence to the baby in the womb of the mother? How are the limbs of the baby formed? Can a scientist create a baby and its limbs? A scientist cannot create a leg of even a mosquito. Science is not as advanced as you think. A scientist gathers some pre-existing substances and on able combination of these substances, he will claim to have produced something by himself. When a man is dying, why can’t he take his soul and place him in another fit body? But, this is called ‘Vijnana.’ Narada Rsi and Sukracharya could do this. It is the topmost truth that whatever you see in this world has its origin in Bhagavan. Bhagavan has created this world and He has different names like Brahma, Allah, and Kuda. This is all right. But, they say, “If the form of the Lord is accepted, then the Lord may be subjected to birth and death like the conditioned souls. Brahma does not take birth nor does He die. If Brahman is subjected to this transformation, then He is prone to disease, lamentation, sadness, happiness, bewilderment, and ultimately death. So, if Brahma has a form, He has to accept these transformations. But, Bhagavan is not subjected to birth, death, happiness, sadness; so he has no form. If he possesses a form, he has to take birth and die. He has to be educated. And at the last moments of his life, he has to leave his body and depart to an unknown destination. Hence, the form of the Lord should not be considered.” This is their logic.
And I will duly answer on the authority of our scriptures and other scriptures. Firstly, it has been written in the Bible, “God created man after His own image.” What is the meaning of this statement? According to His form, God created human beings. If God is formless, then where have all these forms appeared from? If this is true, the page bearing the statement should be removed. Or else, believe in the statement. If God is formless, how did He create human beings according to His own image? The scripture of Islam, the Koran also states, “Inallah kalaka mein suratihi.” Surat, according to His surat, form, Khudat-Allah has created human beings. So, why has the Lord’s form also been mentioned in the Koran? In our sastras, the Vedas, it is written, “Sat evo samya idam agaasitah.” Sat evo samya, Yagnavalkya Rsi spoke this statement. He said, “He Saumya, the Lord has a form and according to that form, human beings have been created.” According to logic, I will prove how true these statements are. Can all of you understand my Hindi?
Srila Gurudeva: Accha. In scientific terms, there is a theory called the cause and action theory. This means that thing, which has no underlying cause will not be present in Karma. No potency in cause will not lead to an action being performed. In a seed, there is a potency of a tree. If you sow a seed in the earth and water it, then the same innate potency of the seed will manifest, otherwise not. A neem tree will not grow from a mango seed. By tending to the seed with appropriate amount of water and mud, it will grow into a tree. On the bank of the Ganga, a mango seed, a neem seed, a jackfruit seed, and seeds of other trees may be planted and watered with the same amount of the same water. These seeds will receive the same amount of sunshine, air and they will be looked after by the same gardener. But, the only difference is that the seeds are of different trees like a mango tree or a neem tree. By being appropriately tended to, the seeds will grow into different trees bearing different fruits. Some fruits will be sweet, while some will be sour. These fruits will not be the same. What is latent in the seed will manifest as the corresponding tree.
If Bhagavan is formless, where did these various forms come from? Bhagavan is the seed giving father of everyone. He is the root of all universes. If Bhagavan had no form, there would be no platform for these multifarious forms to arise. This can only mean that Bhagavan is the repository of all forms. All kinds of human forms find their full reconciliation in the form of Bhagavan. There are many persons who can walk like the four legged animals. Personalities like Narada Rsi can even fly in the sky like birds. All the various kinds of forms find their perfection in human beings. Therefore, Krishna and Rama have a human-like form. Krishna is bigger than the biggest object you can possibly conceive of, and He is also smaller than the smallest. His form is inconceivably beautiful. All the potencies of all the forms find their place in the form of Krishna. Therefore, if Krishna is formless, what scope would be there for all these forms to arise? Something or anything cannot manifest out of nothing. This world cannot arise out of nothing! The Buddhists and many Christians also consider Bhagavan to be formless, but do not think this way. Even if there is no cause, Bhagavan is the cause of all the causes and if He is formless, where did all these forms arise from?
There is another point of consideration. Rupa, form; Guna, quality; Akara, transformation; all these are words. Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, and all other Indian languages are the daughters of Sanskrit. Do you understand? Tamil, Telugu, and all other languages… It is the opinion of erudite scholars that languages like French, English, and all the languages of the world have their roots in Sanskrit. They are all offshoots of the Sanskrit language. Languages like Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Oriya, Tamil, Telugu and other languages are especially related to the Sanskrit language. Sanskrit is a very simple language, but now people have declared it to be a dead language. To especially deprive India of her glorious heritage and to weaken her, some unscrupulous persons have done this. Sanskrit has such literary ornamentations that all the other languages of the world pale in comparison. So, this word ‘Rupa’ is of the Sanskrit language, it is the root word. The words like Rupa, Guna, Akara, Nama are all root words. To explain formlessness add the letter ‘A’ to Rupa and the word becomes ‘Arupa,’ this word Arupa is not an independent word; it is derived from the word ‘Rupa.’ Did you understand? If you want to describe something, which is formless you will use the word ‘Arupa.’ For instance, in geometry, you may say, “Let a, b, c be a triangle. If the two sides and adjacent angles are equal, then two triangles are certainly equal in every respect.”
In the same manner, suppose God has no form, qualities or anything else, then how has this world manifested from nothing? Will anything arise from nothing? Lakhs and lakhs of years may pass, but no new thing will be created by a mass of nothingness. It cannot be created from zero. To explain something in Hindi or Sanskrit, the word ‘upasarga’ is used. Understand in which context upasarga is used. Water is flowing from a man’s nose, he sneezes in between and his head feels heavy. His body temperature has also increased. So, what is this ailment that is affecting this man?
Srila Gurudeva: Why was he affected by fever? It was because of the cold weather. These are the symptoms of fever, the man wipes the drops of water being released by his nose, but they will not cease.
Even on massaging his head, his headache will not reduce. You may on the air-cooler or the fan, but his fever will not recede. Contrarily, his fever only increases. You should give him medicine to cure him of the physiological illness, then he will be all right. These symptoms like a running nose, an aching head etc., constitute an upasarga. When these symptoms are allayed and the fever itself is cured, he will regain his normal health. Similarly, in the word, ‘Arupa,’ remove the upasarga, ‘A’, then what remains? Only ‘Rupa’ remains. The same applies to the word, ‘Guna.’ ‘Nirguna,’ means having no qualities. But in this very word guna, qualities are there. If you remove guna from ‘nirguna,’ what remains? Only zero remains. So, the root words—Rupa, Guna, Akara are embodied in Brahma. He has a transcendental form, He has transcendental qualities, and possesses innumerable names. So, if Krishna didn’t possess transcendental qualities, how did this word ‘Guna’ arise? Some people may question, “Somewhere in the Vedas it is written, ‘Apani pado yavana grihitah.’” On the basis of this statement, they say, “God has no name. He has no form. He has no attributes. He has no power. He has nothing. It has been written.”
We reply, “It is written. But why? Mundane intelligence cannot comprehend His transcendental nature. By unconditionally surrendering unto Him, He will make you realize His transcendental nature. By your own intelligence, you cannot understand who He is.” An example will shed more light on this. There is water, but can you see this water or not? You can see it. How does water look like? What is its form? If you look at water and can understand that it is indeed water, then surely water must have a form. But the scientists will tell, “Water has no form.” Why do the scientists say this? But we can see the form of water and can understand that this liquid substance is water. Water assumes the form of its container, if it is placed in a glass, it assumes the form of the glass. The same applies to the other containers. So, we cannot define water. Hence, Krishna who is Brahma, can assume all the forms you can conceive of, so which form will you mention. Therefore, people say, “He has no shape or form because He cannot be defined.” But, we see that water has a form. And if you cannot explain or understand the form of water, how can you understand the form of Krishna? He has many more forms than water. So, we cannot define the transcendental nature of Krishna. Hence, it has been stated in the sastras that to describe all the forms of Krishna is an improbable task. Krishna can assume all the forms. Krishna manifested Himself in the form of a boar, Sukara; He manifested Himself in the form of a fish, Matsya. He manifested Himself in the forms of Varaha, Nrsimha, Rama; all these manifestations are some of the multifarious forms of Krishna. Therefore, Krishna cannot be defined by mundane intelligence.
When you drink water, can you realize the taste of water? When we drink water, we can understand the taste of water. Water reflects the taste of its source. If there is salt in the water, the water will be salty. If the water springs from a natural source, the taste of the water will be nice and satisfying. The taste of water changes when it is mixed with other substances. Water in its original form has a beautiful taste. Without water, we cannot live, hence, water has these qualities. Water sustains life. Without water, can anyone live? No one can live. So, water has many qualities. Without water, we will cease to live. Despite this, if a person says, “Water has no qualities.” What will we call this person? Will we consider him to be foolish or intelligent? Water has a taste and potency of its own. Electricity is produced by water. Water sustains this entire creation. The world is also dependent on electricity. Without electricity, will this light bulb work? Water is filled with many qualities, but they say, “Water has no qualities.” Water has so many qualities, so which quality will you even start describing? By the name, ‘water,’ the image of water will appear in your mind. Any entity of this world has a name, form, qualities, and activities. There is no entity in this world that is bereft of these characteristics. This void, this nothingness, lacks any distinctive name, form, qualities, and activities.
[Pointing to an object]
This object has a name, form, qualities, and activities. Wind has many names, one of which is air. Air and wind may mean to be the same, but they are not the same. When air blows with a certain degree of velocity, it becomes wind. Air mixed with water, snow, and other elements bears another name. Water is one single substance. Vapor is another form of water, so is ice. Water in its state of liquidity is justly called water, but ice cannot be called water. Ice is composed of water, but it cannot be called water. In this way, Prabhu has many names. He has also has a transcendental form, and He has innumerable transcendental qualities. He performs many pastimes. If it wasn’t for Him, this world would have never been created. Krishna is supremely merciful. His mercy is indeed, incredible. He looks after and nourishes everyone. There is no one in this world who is not looked after and nourished by Him. But, Krishna doesn’t display this quality of nourishing everyone. He is not like the mundane donors. Someone may donate one paisa and say, “Brother, take my picture!”
While garlanding someone, a person may say, “O brother, take my photograph when I garland him.” Krishna has no need of such ostentatious displays of charity. He bestows mercy on everyone while remaining concealed from everyone’s eyes. Krishna has innumerable forms and He is also present in the heart of each and every living entity. Therefore brother, understand that Krishna has a transcendental form and that His mercy is inestimable. There is no scripture in this world whether it be the Bible, Koran, or the scriptures of the Buddhists; where the form of Bhagavan is not mentioned. Bhagavan has an enchanting form. He can also manifest innumerable forms at one moment. During the Rasa-lila, each gopi danced with one form of Krishna. Can any one of you expand into two forms? Some people say, “Aham brahmasmi, I am brahma.”
“If you are brahma, manifest millions of forms.”
Once in the Mathura math, one mayavadi, brahmavadi came and started saying, “Aham brahmasmi, I am brahma. Sarvam khalidvam brahma, everyone is brahma.”
I replied, “It is my great fortune, that Brahma has come to see me while I am seated here. You are brahma, many namaskaras to you.”
I told the brahmacharis, “Children, I want to conduct a little examination, so please bring a burning log of wood. Krishna is Parabrahma, I heard that He had swallowed fire, so let’s examine the legitimacy of this person’s godhood. Please insert this burning log of wood in his mouth. If he is Brahma, then he will swallow the fire and I will be convinced that he is brahma. If he will die or he if runs or flies away from here, we will see that he is not brahma.”
Sripada Madhava Maharaja: Die or fly; but gone.
When he saw the brahmacharis bringing the burning log of wood he started to tremble in fear. I told the brahmacharis, “Hold him so that he doesn’t run away.” The brahmacharis held him. I was just scaring this person.
I asked him, “Are you brahma or not? Tell me!”
But he did not utter anything. If he claimed that he was brahma, I would have placed the burning log of wood in his mouth and checked the validity of his statement.
So, he didn’t say anything. Upon being released, he ran out of the temple. If he was the formless brahma, how did he even assume a form? So, don’t be victimized by such philosophies. Brahma indeed, has a form. What is that form? It is the form, Rupa of Krishna, Rama, and other incarnations. If you just see the beauty of these transcendental forms even once, then you will have no taste to see anything of this mundane, material world.
How can the transcendental beauty of Krishna be described? In South India, there was a great saint called Sri Bilvamangala Thakura. He was a very exalted devotee. Have all of you heard the name of Bilvamangala Thakura? No? He was a great devotee. Previously, he was attached to a prostitute. This prostitute was very beautiful and her singing was enchantingly sweet. She was well versed in all kinds of knowledge. Upon seeing her, Bilvamangaliji offered all the wealth of his house at her feet. And he became hers.
Bilvamangala was born in a very aristocratic family. He was well versed in all scriptures. He was married to a chaste woman of an equally aristocratic household. His parents were wealthy. But, by bad association, he became attached to a prostitute. One day, Bilvamangalaji was observing the shraddha ceremony of his father in his house. While the Brahmins were taking prasad, he separated all the delicious sweets from the rest of the foodstuffs. Collecting them, he went to meet the prostitute at night. When he went to meet her, there was a raging storm. The river was flooding its banks, and the rain was continuous. Seeing the fierce some river, Bilvamangala thought, “How can I cross the river? There is no boat.” At that moment, he saw what appeared to be a log of wood. He sat on it and with great difficulty crossed the river. It was very chilly and cold, but being undisturbed, Bilvamangalaji reached the house of the prostitute with great pace. But, the house was locked from inside. Looking around, he saw towering walls in all four directions. He thought, “How can I climb?” He saw what looked like a dangling rope. Holding on to it, he started to climb up. But within a few moments of his ascent, his body became limp, he lost his grip and fell to the ground. His fall created a loud thud and the prostitute’s sleep was broken. The prostitute told her maidservant, “What was that? What fell on the ground that caused this loud thud? Go and see.”
On reaching the spot, the maidservant saw that the person who had fallen to the ground was Bilvamangala. Helping him to his feet, she aided him and brought him to the house. He was dried and covered with a blanket. Upon gaining consciousness, the prostitute asked Bilvamangala, “How did you come here?”
He replied, “I cannot live without you. You are my life and soul.”
“That’s all right, but how did you come here?”
“I got hold of a rope.”
“Show me that rope.”
When Bilvamangala showed her the rope, they saw that it was no rope; it was a black snake. Being unaware, he caught hold of a snake and started to climb up.
She enquired, “How did you cross the river?”
“I used the help of a log of wood.”
“Then let’s go see it.”
But on reaching that spot, they were shocked to see that it was no log of wood, rather, it was a corpse. The corpse was decaying and foul smelling. None could bear the sight and the stench. But, having no sense, how did this lusty person use this log of wood to cross the river?
The prostitute told Bilvamangala, “Fie on you! If you had so much love and affection for Bhagavan Krishna, your life would have been successful. Fie on you! Fie on you! Leave my house at once! There is no use of having the presence of a such a lusty person in one’s house.”
These words of the prostitute pierced Bilvamangala’s heart like the sharpest of arrows. The arrow like words of a person cause far greater pain than an ordinary arrow. The wound caused by an ordinary arrow will heal, but the wound caused by the arrow like words of someone will never heal throughout one’s life. The affected person will greatly wriggle in pain being pierced by these words.
So, Bilvamangalaji left the house of the prostitute and went on his way. On the way, he felt thirsty and approached a well.
On seeing a lady, he told her, “Please give me some water.” The lady was newly married. When she drew water from the well and poured the water into Bilvamangala’s hands, he drank her beauty with unblinking eyes. When she took some water and went towards her house, Bilvamangala followed her from behind. Her husband was seated outside. The lady went inside the house and Bilvamangala stood outside.
Her husband asked Bilvamangala, “O brother, why are you standing here?”
Bilvamangala replied, “I want to speak to the lady who just entered this house.”
“Okay Mahatmaji. Please take your seat here.”
Comfortably seating Bilvamangala, the husband brought his wife. On seeing the lady, Bilvamangalaji offered her his pranama, obeisance. He told her, “Can you give me your hairpins?”
During the olden days, the hair of a woman would never be cut. Their braid was very beautiful and the braid would decorated by garlands of flowers. Even now, in South India and North India, the woman tie their hair and have garlands of flowers encircle the hair. To tie the braid a long hairpin is used, so Bilvamangala asked the lady to lend her hairpins. Upon receiving them, he immediately pierced his two eyes with the hairpins. The eyes are the root of all diseases. “Na rahe basa, na baje bansuri,” how will the flute be sounded when there is no wood for it to be made? Similarly if there are no eyes, what sense objects can be seen? So, Bilvamangala Thakura removed his two eyes.
He then cried out, “Ha Krishna! Ha Krishna!” and proceeded to Vrindavana. He met a small boy in the way. This small boy asked Bilvamangalaji, “Baba, are you going home?”
“I am going to Vrindavana.”
“Oh I am also going to Vrindavana.”
“Then please hold my stick as you walk and I will follow You from behind. Please take me to Vrindavana also.”
After a just walking for a little time, the little boy said, “Baba, we have reached Vrindavana!”
“We reached Vrindavana so early!”
Which part of Vrindavana did they reach? They reached Giriraja Govardhana. There, without eating, drinking, or sleeping, Bilvamangala would call out, “Krishna! Krishna!” During one evening, a small dark complexioned boy wearing a Pitambara approached Bilvamangala Thakura and said, “Baba, My mother has seen you completely abstain from food. In Vraja, no one is ever hungry. Please drink this milk My mother has sent.”
Bilvamangala paid little attention to this small boy’s statements and continued crying out, “Krishna! Krishna!” After some time, the boy went away. Bilvamangala Thakura then drank the milk. The milk was so sweet, fragrant, and ambrosial that on tasting it, Bilvamangala cried out, “Oh Krishna has cheated me! It was Krishna Himself who had gotten the milk for me.”
Bilvamangala declared, “I will not drink this milk. Until You give me Your darsana, I will not eat or drink.”
Bound by Bilvamangala’s unflinching vow, Krishna was forced to come along with Srimati Radhikaji.
He told Srimati Radhikaji, “Don’t go near this blind person, or else he will catch Your feet! They are very intelligent.”
Srimati Radhikaji replied, “Oh why will a blind person catch My feet?”
“Don’t go any further!”
As he heard Krishna speak, Bilvamangala started stretching his hands slowly. He thought, “I will catch Srimati Radhika’s lotus feet and will never leave them.”
Krishna and Srimati Radhikaji came to give Bilvamangala Thakura darsana. As soon as Srimati Radhika came near Bilvamangala Thakura, he stretched out his hands and caught hold of Srimati Radhikaji’s lotus feet.
Srimati Radhika said, “Oh he indeed has caught hold of My feet!”
Srimati Radhika wanted Bilvamangala Thakura to catch hold of Her lotus feet for who else would have the greatest fortune of clasping those lotus feet?
On having Her feet clasped, Srimati Radhika said, “Oh stop catching My feet!”
Bilvamangala replied, “I will not leave Your lotus feet!”
“When will you leave them?”
“I will leave them if you make my eyes behold Your forms.”
“This is all right.”
After having the darsana of Srimati Radhika and Krishna, Bilvamangala Thakura said, “Now that I have had Your darsana, I don’t wish to see any other form. I only want that Your transcendental forms be eternally situated in my heart.”
The Divine Couple Sri Radha and Krishna blessed him and said, “Tatastu, so be it.”
Bilvamangala Thakura then became blind like before, but his heart’s treasure was never lost. Sri Krishna never got out of his heart.
Despite Krishna being so transcendentally beautiful, some people say, “Krishna has no form. Bhagavan has no form, qualities, and attributes. He is formless, tasteless, and colorless. He is like zero.”
Never think like this. We don’t worship a statuette; we worship Krishna. To those who oppose the worship of the deity, I tell them, “Why do you worship the picture of your father?” When we worship the deity of Krishna, we honor and worship Him, and He accepts our prayers and offerings.
patram puspam phalam toyam
yo me bhaktya prayacchati
tad aham bhakty-upahrtam
—Bhagavad Gita 9.26
Krishna will accept your heartfelt offerings of even water, a fruit, flower, or leaves. In our Vrindavana, there is a temple of Madana-Mohanaji. Have you heard the names—Madana-Mohana, Govinda, and Gopinatha? Five hundred years ago, He came to Mathura. How did He come there? The great-grandson of Krishna, Maharaja Vajranabhaji had established the deities of Govinda, Gopinatha, and Madan-Mohana, five thousand years ago. But, five hundred years back, some pujaris, priests had neglected His worship, so He left Vrindavana and came to Mathura. Madana-Mohana would always play in the house of a brahmani, the wife of a brahmana. The deity would always play with her son. The brahmani would always prepare khichari to feed Thakuraji-Madana Mohana and her son. How would she prepare the khicari? In India, during the earlier days, people would use twigs to clean their mouths. This way, their teeth would always remain healthy. Though my age is eighty, my teeth are still strong. We would chew on twigs of neem. Despite my advanced age, the teeth remain. But here, a neem twig cannot be obtained, so the teeth should be brushed.
So, while the brahmani would chew on a long twig of neem, one end of the twig would be placed in her mouth and the other end would be used to stir the khicari. When she would chew on the twig, the water from her mouth would fall into the khicari. She would make khicari for Madana-Mohana and her son this way. Srila Sanatana Gosvami saw how the khicari was being made, and being alarmed, he told the brahmani, “Oh mother, what are you doing? You haven’t taken a bath, nor have you cleaned your mouth. You are using the same twig to stir the khicari and to clean your mouth. And you want to feed this preparation to your son and to the deity of Krishna who resides in your house?”
The brahmani replied, “Okay Baba. I will never do like this again. From tomorrow, I will take a bath in the Yamuna, and only after observing the necessary rituals, will I feed Krishna and my son.”
From the next day, the brahmani did as she promised. Because of the delay in being fed, the two boys were crying. Even Thakuraji was crying. He has manifested the form of a small boy. The brahmani would call Madana-Mohanaji, “Madana.” And she would call her son, “Sadana.” After playing, the two boys were crying and telling their mother, “Mother! Mother! We are so hungry!” Sanatanaji came and saw how the two boys were crying. Even Krishna was crying. On seeing the brahmani, Sanatana Gosvami fell at her feet and said, “Mother. If Madana-Mohanaji wants the food that is mixed your remnants; then this is all right and is all that is needed.” Krishna always eats the remnants of His devotees. Yasoda and Nanda feed Krishna their remnants. The friends of Krishna also give Krishna the remnants of the food in their mouths. Sabari was of a lower caste. She was a tribal. She was old, ugly, and knew nothing. But, Rama was so satisfied by her offerings. He would delightfully eat the half eaten or partially eaten fruits. She would offer them to Him with so much prema! Krishna rejected the opulent offerings of Duryodhana and at Vidura’s house, he only ate the skin of the bananas and other dried foodstuffs.
Vidura’s wife offered Krishna only the skin of the bananas, while throwing the fruit away. Vidura was not at home at this time. When Vidura arrived at his house, he was shocked to see his wife feeding Krishna banana peels. Startled, he told her, “What are you doing? You are feeding Krishna the skin of bananas?”
Krishna replied, “Vidura, the taste of the skin of the bananas far exceeded that of the fruit, because your wife offered them to Me with so much love. Now that you have corrected her, she is giving Me the fruit; but the taste of this fruit has been spoiled. The fruit is not as tasteful as the peel. Even the preparations cooked by the hands of Rukmini and Satyabhama lack the taste of these banana peels that your wife offered Me. Your wife’s offerings are filled with prema.” Krishna doesn’t accept those offerings that are devoid of prema. Krishna will accept your offerings of water, fruits, flowers, and leaves; if they are offered with prema. Or else, He will not accept them. He has no lack of anything. He is atmarama and aptakama, He nourishes the entire creation, so who can possibly feed Him? There is no one who can feed Him. But, if you offer food with love for Him, prema, then He will become very hungry. He would steal butter from the gopis’ houses; He would only do so because the butter was the melted form of their love for Him. This is the svarupa, the intrinsic nature of bhakti. Therefore, bhakti to Krishna should be cultivated. Never think of Him as nirguna and nirakara! If He is devoid of all qualities, He must also be devoid of the quality of being merciful, then what need is there to worship Him? What is the need of the presence of a Bhagavan who lacks the distinctive quality of being merciful? What need is there for a Brahma who doesn’t listen to our prayers and who doesn’t appear to us despite our repeated cries? Our Krishna is not like this. If Brahma doesn’t have any potency to even manifest a form, and if he cannot walk and sit, then know that this entity is not Brahma. He has no power to do anything. He is powerless and formless.
Therefore, our Krishna can manifest not only one form, He can manifest innumerable forms. He can become the husbands of millions of wives; He can become the son of millions of parents; He can become the friend of millions of friends. This Brahma, Krishna can maintain and nourish every soul of His infinite creation. To this Krishna, we time and again offer our namaskaras. In Kali Yuga, we should engage in the bhajana-kirtana of this Krishna. Krishna is especially attained by chanting His holy names. In this context, and in relationship to His pastimes, I will speak harikatha tomorrow. I thought I should speak on some of Krishna’s pastimes today. You should all listen to these pastimes that have been mentioned in Srimad Bhagavatham. These pastimes are incomparably sweet! A person will even abandon eating and sleeping on listening to these pastimes. By being enraptured by these pastimes, his life will be successful. He in whose ear Krishna’s name has entered even once; will be amazed to see how successful his life is! For his life to be successful even repeated hearing of Krishna’s name is not necessary; only listening to His name once will suffice. So, the people of this assembly should not think that the names of Krishna they are listening to is in vain. Ajamila, in the last moment of his life, called out, “Narayana,” while intending to call out to his son. And just by uttering the Lord’s name once, just see where he went! Never be of a conception that underestimates the power of the holy name. Don’t think, “This katha is so boring and lacks any zeal.” In whosever ears this Krishna-nama is entering; the nama will surely act on the listener in some period of time. The name will surely carry one across this insurmountable ocean of birth and death, and take him to Vaikunta-dhama.
You should think, “Who am I? I am not this body. The body will be left behind in some time.” Bhagavan has loaned you this human form of life, and He has said, “You perform My bhajana. Or else, I will punish you.” How will you be punished? You will again have to enter the cycle of millions of species of lives and transmigrate from one body to another.
Punarapi jananam punarapi maranama
This will surely happen if you don’t engage in the bhajana of Bhagavan. So, if you want peace and happiness, then from today chant, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.” If you are unable to recite the entire maha-mantra, then just chant Hare Krishna or Om Hari or Rama. If you cannot even chant Rama, then by chanting a couple of words, all be achieved? What are those two words? They are, “Radhe Radhe.” By chanting Radhe Radhe, Krishna will come, Hari will come, Rama will also come, the whole world will come, and everything else will come.
I will finish my discourse for today. Tomorrow, when you all come, I will speak on some beautiful pastimes and glorifications of Krishna. I will speak on how Krishna enraptured Vraja; how the gopis serve Krishna; and on how the Vrajavasis are entirely dependent on Krishna. I will speak on these topics tomorrow.
I end my class for today. Kirtana should be sung.
[Maha-mantra kirtana is sung by the devotees]
[Transcribed by the Bhaktabandhav Team]