Devotee: I have seen in the song Prabhupāda Līlā-Smaraṇa-Maṅgala-Stotram that you have indicated Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Prabhupāda was in mādhurya-rasa. However, we have also heard from other great souls quoting Śrīla B. R. Śrīdhara Deva Gosvāmī Mahārāja that Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja has shown affinity for sakhya-rasa. This apparently has been shown in Prabhupāda’s prayer written on the Jaladuta while he was on his way to the Western world. So my question is, being an admirer of Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja, how do you harmonize your opinion about the rasa of your Guru Mahārāja with that indicated by Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja?
Narasiṅgha Mahārāja: What Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja has spoken, we should take that upon our head. After the departure of our Prabhupāda, it is appropriate that we should accept the direction of Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja. Almost these very same words were uttered about Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja by our Guru Mahārāja in a letter to Śrīpāda Govinda Mahārāja (Our Affectionate Guardians, p. 8). To accept Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja’s opinion is quite natural for anyone who even remotely knows something of his higher subjective realizations and of his intimate relationship with our Śrīla Prabhupāda.
When Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja heard the recitation of the poem composed by our Guru Mahārāja, Prayer to the Lotus Feet of Kṛṣṇa, he commented that there was indeed strong indication of our Guru Mahārāja being in sakhya-rasa. Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja said,
“He has expressed himself, his eternal position, the acme of his aspiration. In Vṛndāvana he has established Balarāma and Kṛṣṇa and Nitāi-Gaura, and he is saying like that, Nitāi-Gaura are Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma. It’s almost clear that he comes from that group. And now he’s again there. Hare Kṛṣṇa.”
Such a statement by Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja is not to be taken lightly. A short time later there was some objection to Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja’s referring to our Guru Mahārāja as being in sakhya-rasa. Some of our Guru Mahārāja’s disciples for some reason took objection to Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja’s statement. Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja was shocked by the immaturity of those disciples who objected. The consideration of rasa was obviously not a topic that those disciples were familiar with. Indeed, their harshness in dealing with Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja reflected their extremely neophyte state of Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
At that time Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja made reference to the effect that because of the special empowerment of Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu that our Guru Mahārāja might have couched his mādhurya tendencies in deference to Lord Nityānanda.
The idea given by Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahraja was that it is possible that our Guru Mahārāja was in mādhurya-rasa, but out of deference to Nityānanda, by whose potency he was influenced for his preaching campaign, Śrīla Prabhupāda may have veiled his mādhurya sentiments. Therefore some of the sakhya influence of Nityānanda Prabhu was shown outwardly, keeping mādhurya in the background.
It was not unthinkable for Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja to say such a thing —that our Guru Mahārāja was outwardly showing sakhya influence and keeping his mādhurya sentiments in the background. Certainly such is not unreasonable.
To be a follower of Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja does indeed mean to adhere to his instructions and opinions. Last but not least, his instruction was that one should come to the plane of eternal truth, by surrender —to know the truth in the core of one’s heart, anurāga.
Some devotees may be in favor of our Guru Mahārāja being in sakhya-rasa while others may favor him in mādhurya-rasa, but to establish a right and a wrong in this matter may not be as black and white as some would like it to be. The truth is subjective —as He wishes us to see Him, so we shall see Him.
In the life of our Guru Mahārāja there were innumerable indications for thinking that he was connected to kṛṣṇa-līlā in mādhurya-rasa. We have tried to show practically, by those indications, how Śrīla Prabhupāda is very dear to Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. Only a portion of those indications have been recounted in the song Prabhupāda Līlā-Smaraṇa-Maṅgala-Stotram. Those were as follows: (1) That Śrīla Prabhupāda’s father prayed to the Vaiṣṇava sādhus asking for their blessings that his son become the servant of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. (2) That Śrīla Prabhupāda took mantra-dīkṣā (initiation) from Śrī Sarasvatī Ṭhākura (Vārṣabhānavī-devī Dayita Dāsa also known as Nayana-maṇi Mañjarī in his siddha-rūpa). (3) That Śrīla Prabhupāda received his most cherished instructions to print books from his guru while they strolled along the banks of Śrī Rādhā-kuṇḍa (the most sacred place of pilgrimage for the followers of Śrī Rūpa and Raghunātha Dāsa). (4) That Śrīla Prabhupāda’s chosen place of bhajana in Vṛndāvana was just behind the samādhi of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī (Rūpa Mañjarī). (5) That Śrīla Prabhupāda after completing his world preaching mission returned to Vṛndāvana and selected Kārttika month (the month non-different from Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī) as the time of his departure and his entrance into the eternal līlās of the Lord. (6) And lastly Śrīla Prabhupāda manifested a great desire just a few days before his pastime of departure to go to Govardhana Hill, the eternal place of residence of the followers of Śrī Rūpa and Raghunātha Dāsa. These and other indications of Śrīla Prabhupāda being the dear-most servant of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī were expressed in Prabhupāda Līlā-Smaraṇa-Maṅgala-Stotram.
It may be said that one cannot judge the rasa of a particular devotee simply by his external movements or place of residence etc. However such a statement may be taken as only partially true. Otherwise Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas would not choose holy places such as Vṛndāvana, Navadvīpa, and Jagannātha Purī as their preferred places of residence/bhajana. The prākṛta-līlā (external movement) of the pure devotee is not necessarily devoid of aprākṛta-bhāva (one’s internal feelings of love of Kṛṣṇa). Although the movements of the pure Vaiṣṇava are certainly deeply mysterious and not easily understood, they may nonetheless give us some perspective on the level of their intimacy with the Supreme Lord.
Further biographical information that has not been mentioned in the Prabhupāda Līlā-Smaraṇa-Maṅgala-Stotram indicating the intimacy of Śrīla Prabhupāda in Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa līlā is as follows. (1) When choosing to establish his mission ‘The League of Devotees’ at Jhansi, India, Śrīla Prabhupāda chose a building known as Rādhā Smarak (Rādhā Memorial) to set up his offices. (2) When Śrīla Prabhupāda went to Delhi for printing his Back to Godhead magazine he chose a residence in the Chippiwada, Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa temple. (3) When choosing a printing press to begin the publication of his life’s work Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, Śrīla Prabhupāda chose the Rādhā Press in Delhi. (4) When introducing his disciples to the worship of śrī guru, Śrīla Prabhupāda requested us to daily sing the prayers to the spiritual master composed by Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, in which the glory of the spiritual master as a servant of the divine couple in mādhyura-rasa (nikuñja-yuno rati-keli-siddhyai) is mentioned. (5) Śrīla Prabhupāda’s favorite bhajana was “jaya rādhā-mādhava jaya-kuñja-vihārī, gopī-jana-vallabha” (This song was sung whenever Śrīla Prabhupāda gave Śrīmad Bhāgavatam class).
In any case, we have many such remembrances of our divine master that have unfolded in our heart so as to impel us to contemplate him as a follower of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī and an eternal member of the intimate mādhurya-rasa circle. We feel it proudly in our heart that Śrīla Prabhupāda was the confidential representative of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī who was especially empowered by Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu to spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness all over the world.
namaḥ oṁ viṣṇupādāya kṛṣṇa-preṣṭhāya bhūtale
svāmī śri bhaktivedānta prabhupādāya te namaḥ
gurvajñaṁ śīrasi-dhāryam śaktyāveśa sva-rūpine
hare-kṛṣṇeti mantreṇa pāścatya-prācya-tāriṇe
viśvācārya pravaryāya divya kāruṇya mūrtaye
rādhā-kṛṣṇa-padāmbhoja-bhṛṇgāya gurave namaḥ
“I offer my humble obeisances unto His Divine Grace Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Prabhupāda, who is very dear to Lord Kṛṣṇa on this Earth, having taken shelter at His lotus feet. Taking the order of his guru on his head, he became empowered by Nityānanda Prabhu to act as a śaktyāveśa-avatāra. He distributed the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra all over the Eastern and Western world, delivering and uplifting all fallen souls. He is the best of millions of jagat-gurus, because he is the personification of divine mercy. He has distributed the sweet nectar of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam and the transcendental knowledge of Bhagavad-gītā all over the world. He is constantly engaged in exclusive devotional service to Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, and Śrī Gaurāṅga Mahāprabhu. I offer my humble obeisances unto Śrīla Prabhupāda, who is like a bumblebee always tasting the nectar of the lotus feet of Śrī Śrī Rādhā and Govinda.” (Praṇāma-mantra composed by Śrīpāda B. S. Govinda Mahārāja upon Śrīla Prabhupāda’s personal request)
As Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja has said, “If we raise our head a little higher and look up then we shall find Rādhārāṇī and gurudeva. It is Rādhārāṇī who is instrumental in accomplishing the function of gurudeva from behind. The source of grace for the guru is coming from the original source of service and love. Sākṣād-dharitvena samasta śāstrair, we are asked to see gurudeva not as opaque but as transparent, to such a degree that through him the highest conception of service, the first conception of service can be seen. It can be obtained there. If we are earnest then we shall find the highest link from the original source. We are requested not to see guru as limited in his ordinary personification, but as the transparent mediator of the highest function in his line. If only our vision is deep, we can see that according to the depth of our śraddhā, our vision, guru-tattva is very particular, very noble, very broad, wide and very deep.” (Follow the Angels, p. 163)
In summary we may conjecture that our Guru Mahārāja, Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Prabhupāda is in mādhurya-rasa simply because he saw his guru as Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. His guru is Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. This was also confirmed by Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja on several occasions as follows:
“Svāmī Mahārāja has clearly written that his guru is Rādhārāṇī, it is there. Kṛṣṇa, Rādhārāṇī will be pleased if you help me in this campaign. Is it not written there, e-puṇya koribe jabe rādhārāṇī khuśi habe dhruva ati boli tomā tāi? So he has admitted that his guru is Rādhārāṇī. So we aspire after the service of Rādhārāṇī, under the direction of Śrī Rūpa and other devotees, not committing any wrong.”
“In general rasa, general service of Kṛṣṇa he preached in the West. Though he knew and admitted that, ‘My guru is Rādhārāṇī.’ Rādhārāṇī, my gurudeva, has ordered me to preach in the west. And Kṛṣṇa, my friend, You are to help me, because Rādhārāṇī will be satisfied, my gurudeva. Your greatness is also like that. So, You must come to help me’”
Śrīla Prabhupāda Līlā-smaraṇa Mañgala Stotram
1. jayore sva pāriṣada, śrīla svāmī prabhupāda
abhaya amṛta parā gati
tomāra caraṇa padma, dhūli mora śreya-sadma
tāhe mama nitya paraṇati
All glories to His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Prabhupāda. He is always accompanied by his associate servitors, his internal nature is just like the sweetest nectar and externally he appears like fearlessness personified. I continually offer my full prostrate obeisances unto the dust of his lotus feet which are the all auspicious shelter and goal of my life.
2. sat jana vandita, mama cira vāñchita
tava sevā parasāde, pūrita se hṛdi sādhe
tava guṇa-śobhā mana-lobhā
The blissful service of the lotus feet of Śrīla Prabhupāda is glorified by the topmost saints and devotees. To obtain the unalloyed service of his lotus feet is the only cherishable goal of my life. That eternal desire is always being fulfilled by the nectar of His Divine Grace and therefore the beauty of his unlimited transcendental qualities continually charms my heart. Now my dear devotees please hear with great care and attention the narration of Śrīla Prabhupāda-Līlā-Smarana-Maṅgala-Stotram, the transcendental qualities and pastimes of His Divine Grace, the topmost servant of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī.
3. śrī nandotsava-dine, nija sakhī-gaṇa-sane
premānanda-nimagna śrī rādhe
sukha icchā parakāśa, ḍāki nija priya dāsa
kahilena “pūra ei sādhe”
On the day when the grand festival of Śrī Nanda Mahārāja, celebrating the birth of Lord Kṛṣṇa was being held, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī accompanied by Her sakhīs, who were all deeply absorbed in the bliss of kṛṣṇa-prema, called for one of Her dear-most servants. Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, the Absolute Queen of Vṛndāvana, spoke thus revealing Her happy thoughts, “You must fulfill one desire of Mine.”
4. āji śubha divasete, mama kṛpāśīṣa sāthe
avatīrne hao dhārānīte
śrī kamalā-dhani tathā, tava gaura-sevā-kathā
On this auspicious day you must incarnate on the earth along with My blessings and spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness in every town and village of the world. My very dear Śrī Kamalā (Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura) has already announced your coming and she has also predicted your devotional service unto My Lord Gaurāṅga.
5. iṣṭa-devī-pāde-nama, tabe he śrī kṛṣṇa-prema
e dharāra kroḍa dhanya-kore
avatīrna hoile nāmā, śuddha-bhakata-vaiṣṇava
That unalloyed servant of Śrī Kṛṣṇa (later to be known as A. C. Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Prabhupāda), who’s heart was filled with the most inconceivable love of Godhead, paying obeisances and offering countless prayers at the lotus feet of the Supremely Worshipful Goddess of Fortune then appeared on the earth in the renowned Vaiṣṇava family, headed by the pure devotee, Śrī Gaura-mohana.
6 & 7.
nija putra-tāre tini, parama kalyāṇa māni
prārthanā karilā sneha bhare
he vaiṣṇava sādhu-gaṇa, koro kṛpā anukṣana
mora prāṇa ei putra-pare
mama putra e abhaya, yena rādhā-dāsa hoiya
nitya-kāla seve rādhā-dhana
parama gaurava-bhaṅge, kīrtana koruka raṅge
tāṅra guṇa bhariyā bhūvana
Invoking the blessings of the Vaiṣṇava sādhus upon his son, Gaura-mohana prayed to all of them with great sincerity, “O sādhus, O Vaiṣṇavas, please bestow your blessings upon this dear son of mine, who is my life and soul, so that he can become the servant of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī eternally serving Her, the Supreme wealth of life. Please bless him so that he can preach and sing Her qualities and glories in a most grand way, inundating the whole world.”
8. pare eka śubha-kāle, tvadīya karūnā bole
mililā śrī gurudeva-sāthe
śrī viṣṇu-kiraṇa dyuti, sudivya karuṇā-mūrti-
rūpa tumi herilā tāṅhāte
Afterwards, at an auspicious moment arranged by the grace of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, Śrīla Prabhupāda met his spiritual master (Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura). He saw the divine grace of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī in his gurudeva and understood him to be an effulgent Ray of Viṣṇu, His Divine Grace personified.
9. bhaya-hīna pracāraka, bhakti sadācāra dakṣa
prabhu bara se dayita dāsa
nija dṛdha citta-mate, nāma dilā sva-śīṣyete
īśa abhaya caraṇa dāsa
That great divine master Śrī Vārṣabhānavī-devī Dayita Dāsa (Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, meaning the servant of the lover of Śrī Rādhā) who is expert at practicing pure devotional principles and who is a fearless preacher of the Divine Message of Godhead now conferred upon Śrīla Prabhupāda the name Abhaya Caraṇāravinda according to his own firm self-confident character. The meaning of that name is that he is the servitor of the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead which are the abode of all fearlessness and hopes for the pure devotees.
10. rādhā-kuṇḍa taṭāṅgane, ati antaraṅga sthāne
ela tāṅra sāndra premāveśa
gāḍha anurāga-mane, sarva-ātma nivedane
māthe tule nilā gurvādesa
In the most intimate place of the mādhurya pastimes, namely Śrī Rādhā-kuṇḍa, Śrīla Prabhupāda experienced the full ecstasy of kṛṣṇa-prema. Whole heartedly surrendering unto Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura with intense love Śrīla Prabhupāda received upon his head the most holy order of his Gurudeva, “If you ever get money, print and distribute books.”
11. rūpa-sārasvatī-srota, guru icchā-ājñāmata
premabhare kīrtana karite
pradarśilā e jagata, sakala saubhāgya yata
āse gāro guru-niṣṭhā hate
By singing and preaching with great loving devotion that sublime message of his Gurudeva, which is pure devotional knowledge of the Rūpa-Sārasvatā (rūpānugā) stream, Śrīla Prabhupāda has shown to the world that all good fortune manifests from adherent devotional service unto the lotus feet of Śrī Guru.
12 & 13. śrī śrī rādhā-dāmodara, śrī jīvera mandira
prabhu-datta nija kūṭirete
āra rūpa-samādhite, vraja-rāga āveśete
bhajana korilā rasa-prīte
śuddha-bhakta-ratna-maṇi, rūpe nitya-kāla tini
sethāya rahena virājita
yethā rādhā-pada-sevā, dhari rasa-mūrti-śobha
nirantara hana prasphūṭita
In the temple of Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī, namely Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Dāmodara Mandira and Śrī Rūpa’s samādhi, in his rooms given by his divine masters, Śrīla Prabhupāda performed his bhajana in the loving devotional mood of the Vraja-gopīs. Śrīla Prabhupāda lives eternally in his place of bhajana as the precious gem among the pure devotees where the loving devotional service of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī constantly blooms, personifying the beauty of divine ecstatic mellows.
14, 15 & 16. parama suhṛda haye, gaura-prema-vāṇī laye
pāścatya deśete āilā yabe
bhāi boli śrī kṛṣṇere, sambodhiyā samādare
prātharnā korilā ei tabe
bhāi tava puṇya habe, rādhārāṇī khuśī habe
dhruva ati boli tomā tāi
labhive se bhāgya āro, yadi tumi khuśī koro
bhāgya-devī-rūpa śrī rādhāi
śrī siddhānta sarasvatī-, rūpa dhari se śrīmatī
more ājñā dilā pracārite
se icchā pūrṇa koro, āmāra vacana dharo
tabe pāri tāṅhāre sevite
Leaving behind the sacred land of Vṛndāvana and taking a great risk in his old age, Śrīla Prabhupāda came to the Western world as our Ever Well Wisher carrying with him the message of gaura-prema, love for Lord Gaurāṅga. Upon his arrival he earnestly prayed to Lord Kṛṣṇa addressing Him as “bhāi” (O brother) in an intense loving way.
“O dear brother, my dear intimate friend! I tell You this in a most definite way. You can achieve some invaluable merits by pleasing Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. You (Lord Kṛṣṇa) can really attain even more good fortune if You can now please Her, the Supreme Goddess of all good fortunes. Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī Herself in the form of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura ordered me to preach Her message. Therefore, please take my word and advice and fulfill Her desire; then only can I attain success and serve my guru fully.
17 & 18. atula saubhāgya-khani, tāṅra ei divya-vāṇī
śrī nāma śrī śācī-putrāśraye
śrī svarūpa sanātana, rūpa-prabhu guru-gaṇa
sabe mahā kṛpānvita hoye
āmā-bhakta sabākāre, dena pravesādhikāre
vṛndāvana-govardhane, kabhu rādhā-kuṇḍa-pāne
parama abhiṣṭa siddhi dane
The mine of incomparable good fortune is the message of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Prabhupāda: “If someone takes shelter of kṛṣṇa-nāma, and Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu, the son of Mother Śacī, along with Their dear associates, Śrī Svarūpa Dāmodara, Sanātana Gosvāmī, and Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī, They being greatly pleased with such a person bestow upon him entrance into the embrace of the dear associate servitors of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī at Govardhana, Vṛndāvana, and sometimes at Śrī Rādhā-kuṇḍa, blessing them with the supreme fulfillment of the ultimate goal of kṛṣṇa-prema.
19. śrī rādhikā priyankarī, śrī kārtīka-māsa bari
girirāja hṛdayete smari
tiṅho aprākaṭa hoila, nitya līlā praveśilā
rāje yetā rādhā-saṅge hari
Completing his missionary activities in the western world Śrīla Prabhupāda returned to Vṛndāvana. Accepting the month of Kārttika, which is non-different from Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, bearing Girirāja Govardhana in mind and embracing the lotus feet of his most worshipful Lord in the core of his heart Śrīla Prabhupāda made his disappearance from this world and entered the nitya-līlā, the eternal loving pastimes of Goloka where Lord Govinda is always effulgently present with His dear-most Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī.
20. ei panthā pradarśane, śīkṣā dilā āmārgane
kon vastu-siddhi lakṣya haiya
kori bāsa govardhane, dainya ātma-nivedane
labha śrī rādhikā-gaṇāsraya
By showing us his disappearance from this world in the month of Kārttika and by revealing his desire to go to Govardhana Hill, Śrīla Prabhupāda has shown us the path which leads to the fulfillment of the ultimate aim and object of life—to obtain supreme shelter in the camp of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī’s associate-servants with humble self surrender, residing always at Śrī Govardhana.
21. kabe tāṅa aprākṛta, bhāva-guṇa-bibhūṣita
satya kori e vāstave, āmāri sampada habe
e jīvane dāni sukha sīmā
When will that day be mine, in some distant lifetime, when the beauty of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s transcendental life, possessed by the qualities of pure love for Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa actually become my only wealth giving me a taste of the highest happiness? O when will that day be mine?
22 & 23. sakala hṛdaya diye, sutīvra ākāṅkhā loiye
se āśe rohi mui hīna
kabe sei bhāgya habe, e jīvana dhanya habe
kabe mor āsibe se dina
prāṇabari pratiṣṭhāne, tāṅri kṛpā-śaktyādhāne
labhi eka-niṣṭha tanu-mana
e dīna sevaka tāṅra, guṇa-gāntha-sambhāra
kori yābe satata kīrtana
Let us always pray to remain the humble and obedient servants of Śrīla Prabhupāda. With a burning heart, filled with an intense longing for his association, this poor and lowly insignificant beggar humbly prays for that fortunate day when the life of his servant will be empowered by His Divine Grace with firm determination so that I may with one pointedness, not caring for anything else, constantly sing with my body and mind the sweetest glories of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s unlimited transcendental qualities and pastimes.