Question: In Śrī Brahmā-saṁhitā it is described that Śrī Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa are seated on a divine throne, and the whorl of the lotus flower upon which They are seated is described as a hexagonal figure. What is the meaning of this hexagonal figure?
Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja: I am sorry, but we are not to enter into the discussion of such a higher and subtle position of the līlā of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. That is not to be brought to the public, and that is the distinction between the Gauḍīya Maṭha and the sahajiyā section. The sahajiyās are trying to imitate all these things, but we have no faith in imitation. The higher līlā will come in an individual case, and it will awaken in an irresistible way. When the program of the sādhana stage is finished, it will come automatically, spontaneously. We are believers in that – not to simply know the form and by that we will reach there. That is not the policy accepted by Guru Mahārāja, Prabhupāda. Pūjāla rāga-patha gaurava-bhaṅge.
Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura also said, “Stick to the rulings of the class you are fit for, then you will see automatically.”
yathā yathā gaura-padāravinde
vindeta bhaktiṁ kṛta-puṇya-rāśiḥ
tathā tathot sarpati hṛdy akasmād
As much as a person who has performed many pious activities has devotion to the lotus feet of Śrī Gaura, to that extent he will eventually achieve the causeless ocean of nectar stemming from the lotus feet of Śrī Rādhā. (Śrī Caitanya-candrāmṛta 88)
Strictly stick to gaura-līlā, Mahāprabhu, and you will automatically find within your heart that rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi (the ocean of nectarean rasa of Śrī Rādhā) is flowing. Don’t attempt directly to have it. It will come automatically, spontaneously. You should not approach that intellectually, for that will give you bad prejudice. Not only that, but it will be harmful prejudice and you will have to expend more energy to do away with that layer of misunderstanding. Our Śrīla Prabhupāda did not allow these things. Do your duty in your plane, according to what you deserve, and that will come naturally. That was his instruction all through – not only temporarily, but all through. Don’t do like that, for then you will get māyā instead of Yogamāyā.
Kṛṣṇa knows it fully well. She (Rādhārāṇī) knows it fully well. When you are to be taken into the confidential area, that cannot be acquired by any other thing but His sweet will – the flow of Her sweet will, or His sweet will. Try to have the natural thing – not anything of imitation or any reflection. Reflection and shadow – these two kinds of misconception may come there. Reflection is more dangerous. In Hari-nāma Cintāmaṇi also it has been stated like that. On our way, that sort of temptation may come, but we must not think that everything will come within the fist of our intellect.
acintyāḥ khalu ye bhāvā na tāṁs tarkeṇa yojayet
Those subject matters that are inconceivable cannot be ascertained by logic or argument. (Mahābhārata, Bhīṣma-parva 5.22)
Don’t take that which is inconceivable under the jurisdiction of reason. When it will be extended to you, you will be astounded only to have a peep into that. Na tāṁs tarkeṇa yojayet – don’t try to drag that into the zone of reason. This is autocratic in its nature. It may come in one shape to you, it may go in another shape to another gentleman. It is so expansive and so free in it’s nature. It is infinite. Rather, the Infinite is at the base of those pastimes. Always prepare yourself. Hanker – but don’t make it an object of your experience.
When Mahāprabhu talked about the higher līlās it was as if He was in a trance. As if in a trance He gave a description of His wonderful experience of kṛṣṇa-līlā. Several times we find that sort of deep līlā, the higher līlā of Kṛṣṇa, being related by Mahāprabhu Himself – the govardhana–līlā and the jala-keli līlā when He jumped unconscious into the ocean and for hours was carried by the waves of the sea to Cakra-tīrtha from Svarga-dvārā. He described the jala-keli of Kṛṣṇa, and also at Caṭaka-parvata. There is no end to His līlā. When His body was transformed like a pumpkin, then also He described a līlā, but the nature of that description was not any book-produced thing. It cannot be taken into black and white. It is such a thing. So we receive caution often that, “Don’t try! It will come automatically. Go on with the program that is given by the śāstra and the guru and it will happen. If you have such a possibility of fortune then it will come to you. It is not a natural experience that can be given to this and that. It is not to be tackled in such a way.”
Yathā yathā gaura-padāravinde – engage your full attention in gaura-līlā and that will come automatically within you. From the indirect way it will come to you from the higher domain. When it will be pleased, it will come down for some time to give you experience, and you will simply be astonished, “What is this?” Then even when gone, withdrawn, you will have nothing to lament. It is a living thing. Try to come to get the Whole. We cannot make it our object. It is such a high thing.
It is even difficult to participate in the intimacy between an ordinary man and his closest friends – so it is with the līlā of the Supreme Lord. How can we dare enter into that, and especially publicly? It is not possible. Externally we can try to give some description of the outer possibilities, but not the actual thing. We won’t venture to enter there.
Question: Can they draw something general, like a lotus flower?
Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja: A lotus flower is representing the idea of beauty, softness, and such things. And different petals represent different platforms of rasam. In such a way we can take it – beauty, softness. No mundane ideas should be drawn there – only a distant similarity. But categorical difference should always be there.
Even we are not allowed by our master to read the books where they are described: Govinda Līlāmṛtam, Stava-Kusumāñjali, and Ujjvala-Nīlamaṇi. He did not allow us to study and discuss these. Rather, he would be very much disturbed if he heard that someone was interfering with the higher līlās in those books. He did not like it.
Duṣṭa-phala karile arjjana (‘you will only attain bad fruit’) – Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura gives a warning that you will only get a bad result if you venture to cross the line. A bad effect will come to you – aparādha. From the lower position of anarthas, the steps are shown. Śraddhā, sādhu-saṅga, śravaṇa, kīrtana, then anartha-nivṛtti – the undesirable things will vanish altogether. Then ruci, āsakti and bhāva-bhakti – the sprout of real devotion. Then prema-bhakti, sneha, māna, praṇāya, rāga, anurāga, bhāva, mahā-bhāva – by such steps we are to approach there.
Once, one senior gentleman wanted to discuss these things with Prabhupāda. He laid much stress on that, and ultimately he left the association of Prabhupāda and lived a secluded life. Previously that gentleman did much service to the mission. Prabhupāda remarked, “Oh, he has two lives. He is married with Kṛṣṇa and she has got a child.” Such a remark was there, that he was a man, but considering himself to be a gopī, he wanted to cultivate an intimate connection with Kṛṣṇa and the gopīs. In this way he wanted intensely, but Prabhupāda remarked, “Oh, he has turned into a lady, a gopī, and after coming in contact with Kṛṣṇa, she has produced a child!”
Another time, the Guru Mahārāja of Prabhupāda, Śrīla Gaura Kiśora Bābājī, was in a hut near the Ganges. Another disciple who left Prabhupāda went to imitate Gaura Kiśora Bābājī, and constructed a tiny hut nearby and imitated his bhajana, hari-nāma, discussions of Narottama Ṭhākura – all these things. He observed strict vairāgyam in his physical life. Gaura Kiśora Bābājī remarked one day that, “It is not only by entering a labour room and imitating the pain of giving birth to a child – many important previous events are necessary, then a child will come. Only imitation will not give birth to a child.” Such was his remark to that gentleman.
Śuddha-sattva, pure goodness. You must come in connection with what is known as śuddha-sattva first. Viśuddha-sattva, the nirguṇa world. Śuddha-sattva means nirguṇa. You must come in connection with nirguṇa, then only you may try to approach the subtle happenings or events there.
It is not to satisfy our curiosity. “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” With this spirit we must approach the whole thing. At the same time, by God’s grace, we may not become a disbeliever by considering, “I shall judge the whole thing to the last detail, then I shall accept what you say.”
There are many things below, but the charm and reason of the higher plane is enough to convince a person to come this side, and these high līlās should be left high above our head. Very cautiously we are to handle all this līlā, especially mādhurya-līlā.
About a year after I joined the mission, Prabhupāda arranged for the full Kārttika month to preach in Vṛndāvana. At that time, he asked Bhāratī Mahārāja to explain the Seventh Canto of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, the story of Prahlāda – not the stories of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, Yaśodā or anything of Vṛndāvana. He said, “Preach śuddha-bhakti of Prahlāda first. They are ripe in sahajiyā. Just try to make them understand, ‘Enter the plane of bhakti! What to speak of kṛṣṇa-līlā – that is far, far above.’” In Vṛndāvana the people wondered, “What is this? They are explaining Bhāgavatam, but leaving the Tenth Canto, they are explaining the Seventh Canto, prahlāda–līlā, the lower portion of bhakti. That is wonderful and strange.”
Again, I found later on that Śrīla Prabhupāda himself gave a lecture between Rādhā-kuṇḍa and Śyāma-kuṇḍa. There is a boundary line between the two. There he spoke for a few days. The Upadeśāmṛtam of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī was read by him and explained. He did not explain about Śrīmatī Rādhārānī, nor about Kṛṣṇa, but about that Upadeśāmṛtam – the basis. His attention was always towards the basis. The fruit will come of itself. “Pour water onto the root and the fruit will come up itself.” He himself explained this while sitting in the middle between Rādhā-kuṇḍa and Śyāma-kuṇḍa. He explained not only Bhāgavatam, but Upadeśāmṛtam. Upadeśāmṛtam is the substance of Mahāprabhu in the language of Rūpa Gosvāmī.
vāco vegaṁ manasaḥ krodha-vegaṁ
etān vegān yo viṣaheta dhīraḥ
sarvām apīmāṁ pṛthivīṁ sa śiṣyāt
A self-controlled person who can overcome the impulses of speech, the mind, anger, the tongue, belly and genitals is qualified to instruct the whole world.(Upadeśāmṛta 1)
And the last śloka:
kṛṣṇasyoccaiḥ praṇaya-vasatiḥ preyasībhyo’pi rādhā
kuṇdaṁ cāsyā munibhir abhitas tādṛg eva vyadhāyi
yat preṣṭair apy alam asulabhaṁ kiṁ punar bhakti-bhājāṁ
tat premedaṁ sakṛd api saraḥ snātur āviṣkaroti
It has been established by great sages that amongst all the beloved vraja-gopīs, Śrī Rādhā is Kṛṣṇa’s most treasured object of love. Similarly, Her kuṇḍa is just as dear to Him. One who bathes even once in the waters of Rādhā-kuṇḍa attains love for Kṛṣṇa which is extremely difficult to achieve even for great devotees, what to speak of ordinary devotees. (Upadeśāmṛta 11)
These topics were explained by Śrīla Prabhupāda, and nothing from Govinda Līlāmṛtam or Viśvanātha Cakravartī’s Śrī Kṛṣṇa Bhāvanāmṛta – these things were left. So, our training was in this line.
Pūjāla rāga-patha gaurava-bhaṅge – that is always upon our head. That prospect of our life’s future, life after life, cannot be finished. We will rather foster the pure hope that we may be taken in one day to that camp.
Question: Sometimes in Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Śrīla Kṛṣṇa Dāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī makes reference to Govinda Līlāmṛtam, Ujjvala Nīlamaṇi and other such confidential selected works. How are we to take that?
Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja: There are three chapters of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta that we were generally not allowed to enter into, including the discussions with Rāmānanda Rāya, to a certain extent. Where the līlā portion of Rādhā-Govinda is mentioned, we have no entrance into that līlā. Of course, when pārāyaṇa (consecutive chanting of the whole book) is going on, we go on reading, but without giving any particular attention to the līlā of the highest order of rāga. That was barred. “Don’t try to come into details there. That will come automatically when the time will be right. Do not make it a discussion of the public. Do not bring it to the public eye.”
The following incident happened in Vṛndāvana. Prabhupāda had a friend there from his childhood, an attorney, who came to see him. So Prabhupāda went to give a return visit to this friend. Śrīpāda Paramahaṁsa Mahārāja was with Prabhupāda when they went to give the return visit. They were told, “He is upstairs.” They went there and saw that a gosvāmī was explaining the rāsa-līlā section of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. Prabhupāda just bowed his head and immediately came away. Then his friend, leaving that rāsa-līlā discussion, also came down and said, “Yes, the rāsa-līlā explanation is going on, but you did not take your seat? You just bowed your head and came down. What is the matter?”
Śrīla Prabhupāda replied, “Our guru’s order is such that, ‘If you attend rāsa-līlā explanation you will commit an offence.’ It will be an offence to attend rāsa-līlā explanation, so I had to come back. This is my guru’s order. To attend rāsa-līlā explanation is aparādha.”
He has shown such strict behaviour to us, and we also do that – especially myself. At so many other places they show the rāsa-līlā with dolls, but I never do that. Following what is true to my understanding of my Gurudeva’s will and his words, I do not make any show of jhulana-līlā or rāsa-līlā or anything of that type. I find in my heart that this is not desirable to my Guru Mahārāja. But at present, in so many maṭhas I see and hear also, that they are doing that. But I strictly abstain from that sort of showing. Jhulana-līlā, rāsa-līla – I consider that is too high for us,. I must be true to the words of my Gurudeva if I want my realisation and not any position of some sort of popularity. To attract people by such show, and to make money, or to make a favourable field for preaching, they may do like that, but I do not do. I do not want popularity nor any position as a higher ācārya. I am a student. Still I consider myself to be a faithful student. What I heard from my Gurudeva, I try my best to stick to that, to keep my position there as I heard from him. I do not want to mutilate that in any way to suit my purpose. I try not to do that. Of course, for big propaganda they may make different ways as they think. They are free. But I am not a member to go on in such a way.
When Prabhupāda offered me to go to the West, I replied simply that I did not consider myself fit to go to the West, “I will not be able to show success there.” I mentioned two defects. Then some sannyāsīns showed much reverence to me, “What is this? So many persons wish for this opportunity. You are prepared to lose this chance? You neglect to take advantage of such a position, that you will be a world preacher? Do you have no hankering for that?”
I replied, “Yes, Mahārāja, I have no hankering to have such a position. My only humble ambition is that I may be reckoned as a sincere devotee of Mahāprabhu Śrī Caitanyadeva. No other ambition I have in my mind to become a world preacher and so on.”
In my nature I am such. I want truth, and I hope and crave for the mercy of the Vaiṣṇavas and you all, that I may not have that ambition, but to be the most humble servant of the Lord, that I may not be misguided. I may engage myself in the lowest form of service. Tad dāsa-dāsa-dāsānaṁ dāsatvaṁ dehi me prabho (‘O Lord, give me service to the servant of your servant’s servant.’). May my faith be so firm and of such a quality that the least offer of His divine service, may satisfy me. I may not get the chance there in the higher officer class. With the lowest connection with Divinity I may go on satisfied with my life. Mahāprabhu says, “Just consider myself a speck of dust at Your feet, Kṛṣṇa.”
ayi nanda tanuja kiṅkaraṁ
patitaṁ māṁ viṣame bhavāmbudhau
kṛpayā tava pāda-paṅkaja-
“O Nandanandana, son of King Nanda, although I am Your eternal servitor, I have fallen into the terrible ocean of material existence due to the fructification of my own deeds (karma). Please graciously consider me to be a particle of dust at Your lotus feet.” (Śikṣāṣṭaka 5)
That may be our guide. “Consider me to be one of the specks of dust at Your feet.” That is too much! Our faith should come to such a gradation of quality that we may be satisfied to become a speck of dust at His feet. Then, by His sweet will, anything may happen. But our humble aim should be to have even the least connection of real divinity – not a concocted Kṛṣṇa.
Pūjāla rāga-patha gaurava-bhaṅge – very sweet. The rāga-patha is on our head. We are servants of the rāga-patha. We are in vidhi-mārga, under śāstrika rule. We must live and move under śāstrika rule, and always keep the rāga-patha upon our head.
Once an incident happened while our Śrīla Prabhupāda was at Rādhā-kuṇḍa. A pāṇḍā in his talk made a side remark that, “We are brāhmaṇas in Vraja. We can bless Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī.” Prabhupāda was perturbed by such a haughty remark, “Dāsa Gosvāmī is our highest ācārya in our Gauḍīya camp, and that fellow says that he is able to bless Dāsa Gosvāmī and I am to hear that?” He stopped taking food and remarked, “If I was an ordinary bābājī I would not care. I would leave the place. But I am running with a motor car here as an ācārya. I have a responsibility. I am moving here in the pose of an ācārya that I shall protect the sampradāya. I shall brush the dust of undesirability from the sampradāya. How can I tolerate such a remark against my guru? Until there is any pratīkāra (any suitable correction), I cannot take any food.”
I think I did something to give vent to the feeling of my Gurudeva today! I did something today to clarify his position. Pūjala rāga-patha gaurava-bhaṅge – this is enough. Tad dāsa-dāsa-dāsānāṁ dāsatvaṁ dehi me prabho. This is not a figurative thing. This is not mere poetry. Mahāprabhu says:
nāhaṁ vipro na ca nara-patir nāpi vaiśyo na śūdro
nāhaṁ varṇī na ca gṛha-patir no vana-stho yatir vā
gopī-bhartuḥ pada-kamalayor dāsa-dāsānudāsaḥ
I am not a brāhmaṇa, a king, a merchant, or a labourer (brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya or śūdra); nor am I a student, a householder, a retired householder, or a mendicant (brahmacārī, gṛhastha, vānaprastha or sannyāsī). I identify myself only as the servant of the servant of the servant of the lotus feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Lord of the gopīs, who is the personification of the fully expanded (eternally self-revealing) nectarean ocean that brims with the totality of divine ecstasy. (Padyāvalī 63)
This is not only an ornamental thing. This is reality. To feel ourselves to be humble is to actually become eligible for higher service. So much selflessness, so much self-abnegation is necessary for a unit here of the lowest order to enter into that domain. There is an undercurrent plane, and if we really want to contact with that, we shall have to manifest the finest of the fine in ourselves, and with no demand. In this negative way we are to transform ourselves. Then we can have a touch of that plane where we can go.
The least tinge of exploitation, any speck of ambition, will not take us there. That is another thing – pratiṣṭhā. Pratiṣṭhā is self-establishing, to be stable, to be immortal, to be invincible. It is not self-giving, but it is the self-establishing tendency. “I must stay. I must live.” But, if necessary I must die for the interest of Kṛṣṇa.
mārobi rākhobi yo icchā tohārā
nitya-dāsa prati tuwā adhikārā
Slay me or protect me as You wish, for You are the master of Your eternal servant. (Śaraṇāgati 3.3.2)
A suicidal soldier! For the cause of the country, if necessary I must die. I may be effaced. If it is necessary, my very existence may be effaced for the satisfaction of Kṛṣṇa. Such a temperament, selflessness of such a degree is necessary to find that plane. Let us be blessed by Prabhupāda Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. All glories to Guru and Gaurāṅga!
(To the devotees gathered there) You are helping me to take out from my inner heart so many beautiful and valuable things. It is through your help that these old memories are coming again fresh to me. I am forced to take out those things of the inner nature of my previous life which I got from my Gurudeva as wealth. Again I have the chance of seeing that treasury. I am given the opportunity by this recapitulation of what I heard at the divine feet of Gurudeva. This is our education, what I got from the divine feet of Gurudeva, I just sincerely put it to you all.
Pūjāla rāga-patha gaurava-bhaṅge – he instructed that we must not go to live at Rādhā-kuṇḍa. One day near Lalitā-kuṇḍa, the Svānanda Sukhada-kuñja is there, and there is a single-story building. He said, “A second story is necessary, but I will not be able to live there.”
I asked, “If you will not live on the first floor, who will live there? What is the necessity of further construction?”
“No. You don’t know. Better persons will live there – Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, Gaura Kiśora Bābājī Mahārāja. They will live there, and we shall stay on the ground floor and we shall serve them.”
Again he said, “I shall live in Govardhana. Rādhā-kuṇḍa is the highest place – the place of our Guru Mahārāja, our Gurudevas. They will live here in closer connection with līlā, but we are not fit to live there. We shall live in Govardhana, just a little far away. Because we shall have to come and serve our Gurudeva, we must be near, but we must not live in closer connection with them. We are not fit.” Pūjāla rāga-patha gaurava-bhaṅge – the whole tenor of his life was such. “That is high and we are to honour that from below.” We are to establish in the whole world this sort of posing – the proper regard for that higher līlā: “That is too high.”
One day in Allahabad – perhaps it was that very year Śrīpāda Swami Mahārāja (A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda) was initiated – while speaking in a park, Śrīla Sarasvatī Prabhupāda said, “I am out to give a challenge to fight with any person to show that the highest position is occupied by my Gurudeva, by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and by Mahāprabhu. Let anyone come to fight with me to decide. I am ready. I am ready to give that challenge to anyone and everyone. Let them come to fight with me. I am ready to establish the throne in the highest place – my Gurudeva.”
Pūjāla rāga-patha gaurava-bhaṅge. “Guru Mahārāja, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, preached exclusively this mādhurya-rasa, but with great precaution. He used perhaps 90% of his energy to point out the negative side – “This is not mādhurya-rasa.” And to clear away the negative side, he had to spare, in his words, ‘gallons of blood’ to establish what was not that mādhurya-rasa.”