BE LIKE THE GOPIS
The Gopis told Krsna, “Oh Krsna, we are not like this.” The Gopis knew everything. They were sages in their past life who had done austerity and studied all the scriptures. Some were even personified scriptures – Srutis and Upanisads. They had so much knowledge and wisdom but even though they had all this knowledge, when they came before Krsna they did not speak back in any arrogant manner. They tolerated everything, even though Krsna spoke very strongly to them, like a fire burning them. They accepted it without becoming against Krsna.
We should try to become like the Gopis, very gopan, very secret and confidential. If we do not have this forbearance then we cannot do bhajana. The real meaning of bhajana is to serve:
bhaja dhatu iti sevayam
The root of the word bhakti or bhajana is bhaj which means to serve. We need to learn how to serve, and that service should be done with humility. We should learn to accept the chastisement of our elders and our seniors. Those who are always talking back cannot have any peace in their life. They are only creating fires because they do not control their speech. ‘gopis, go, gopan’ – means very secret and confidential. They are so ‘gopan’ – confidential, they are so hidden and secret that no one can know what is in their hearts.
The gopis said to Krsna, “You know all dharma, therefore to serve one’s relatives, husbands or family members, that is our dharma and You are telling us to do this, to serve all our relatives. That instruction is with You. This is a good instruction. However, if one asks, ‘What is the purpose of this?’ The Gopis said, “You are telling us to do so many different things.”
Many people will come, but people will not speak hari-katha or bhagavat-tattva to them. What do they tell them? “Oh, sweep the temple, clean the pots, tend the garden, cut vegetables.” Then so many times people think, “They are not giving us hari-katha or kirtana, they are only engaging us in material work.” People come to Guru and Vaisnavas and think, “Is this cheating? Are they cheating us by only engaging us in external activities?”
Jagannatha das Babaji Maharaja told his followers, “Oh, go out into the garden, there is no point in pulling the rope. You are taking your mala in your hand and only pulling on the rope and saying you are chanting one, two or three lakhs. What is the benefit in that? Go to the garden and plant eggplants and tend to the garden, this is much better for you.” Will we challenge Guru when he gives us instructions like this? Will we say, “No. I have come here for bhajana.” They were not ready to accept the instruction of their Gurudeva. Therefore, Guru will test us and see if we have a desire to serve or do we want everything to go on according to our own desires. We must be fully developed in our relationship. We have been in this world for so many lifetimes serving so many people in so many lives, but for whom? It is said:
ātmendriya-prīti-vāñchā (Caitanya Caritamrta Adi 4.165)
Only to fulfill our own desires and to satisfy our relatives and friends. Therefore, Jagannatha Das Babaji Maharaja told his followers to serve and take care of the eggplants and develop a garden using all the produce in Krsna’s service and in this way develop sukriti.
If you do not do service how can you make a relationship, and how can you break your relationship with maya? Therefore, the Gopis said to Krsna, “We are not qualified to serve You and we have so many bad qualities, Oh Krsna. You are telling us to go home and serve our family in household life, so how can we serve You? We have no eligibility or qualification for that. You are the Lord and Controller, therefore please kindly help us.”
If Krsna were to say, “Oh how do you now I am Isvara – the Lord?” The Gopis would say, “You are Paramatma – the indwelling Supersoul. You have called us to You because You are Paramatma and we are the atmas. Otherwise someone may invite everyone to come to them, or call everyone, but they will not come. They may be able to cheat others but they cannot permanently keep someone with them with love and affection.
THE GOPIS PRAYERS
The Gopis said, You are Paramatma, You called us all here and we have all come to You. Now please teach us how to serve You. Help us to become qualified to serve You. Do not cheat us by only giving us external instructions and external dharma. It is very hard to find a truly dharmic person in this world, and even if that person is present, they may not help and teach others. You however can truly help us, so kindly do not forsake us. You are the master and beloved of everyone. You are our true friend, relative and family member. If we have not served You then we are not really serving our true family, friend and beloved. Without You we have been drowning in material existence. You have now so mercifully called us to Your lotus feet, so please kindly help us.
We have been in darkness for so long. Now we have come into the light. In the darkness we cannot see anything and when we come into the light, we can see who we are and who others are. We have been in the darkness of maya for so long, Oh Krsna. We lived there in that realm of maya and the darkness of ignorance for so long and now You have called us to You into the effulgence of truth. Now we can see who is the father and who is the mother, who is the friend and who is the husband. Krsna You are everything to us. Without You we have no one else. We have been drowning in samsara – material existence.”
REAL AND FALSE RELATIONSHIPS
In this world we may call someone Rama, Laksman or Sita, we may give people so many different names, but are they truly our friends and relatives? In this world all the different jivas are drowning in samsara (cycle of birth and death). We call each other different names. We call each other husband, wife, friend, daughter, child, son, parent, but then when we die, where has our mother, father, husband, or daughter gone? Will they be able to stay with us forever? Therefore, how are they our relatives?
“Krsna You are telling us to serve our friends and relatives but we only see You as our true relative now. Before we were lost in the darkness of illusion.”
In this world all these relationships are just like a dream. It is like for example where different birds will come onto a tree and spend the night, and then in the daytime, they will fly to another place. Or different people will come to a hotel and while staying in different rooms, they meet each other. Then the next day they again leave and go their separate ways. Or while traveling on a train, people will meet with each other, and then go to their different destinations. Or like in the ocean or a stream, two straws may come together, but then gain the current pulls them apart, and they are separated. In this life relationships and family members are like this. We should consider who is truly our real relative? If we are not related to Krsna and His associates then we have not established our true relationships, and we are only drowning with others in samsara (cycle of birth and death).
“Therefore, Krsna we are taking Your instruction to heart and we want to truly follow. You are telling us to serve our family and serve our friends, but Krsna You are our only friend and You are our only family. Therefore, we will serve You. Please if we are not qualified to serve You, please help us learn, please teach us and help us become qualified and accept us. We do not want to go again into the jail of maya.”
In the ‘Vaisnavas Tosani’, our Srila Jiva Goswami describes what we should do if there is some calamity. People in this world say, “Oh karma is dharma. You should do your karma and your duty in this world.” But what is our true dharma?
DHARMA AND ADHARMA
The Gopis therefore spoke to Krsna saying, “Oh Krsna, You say that for a woman to serve her husband is the highest dharma, but who is truly the husband of all souls? Who is the real Swami? Krsna we want to serve You as You are the real husband or master of all souls. Until now we have done adharma, not dharma. Why? We accept someone as our husband but that is only for a few days and then we accept another person as our husband and in this way, we are like prostitutes, so that is adharma.
In one life we have one husband, and in another life, we have another. You are telling us to serve our husbands but that is adharma, Oh Krsna. You are the real Husband of all souls therefore we have come to You. Relationships in this world are made only for a few days and then we are separated by time, and by our different karma and natures. We have accepted others as our group as our own members even though we have no permanent relation with them, therefore that is adharma or irreligion. You are telling us to follow real dharma so we truly want to follow that Sri Krsna. Otherwise by following that so-called ‘dharma’ we have suffered for so many lifetimes in material existence.
Now, Oh Krsna, we are truly prepared to follow dharma and we will never give it up. Krsna we now understand this truth, we have come into the light and we are endeavouring to follow this proper path. Therefore, please kindly help us along the path of truth and light and do not send us back into darkness. We understand You are testing us Krsna, but please do not forsake us. We do not want to go backwards into the darkness. We want to come more close to You, we want to go forward.
You are giving us instructions on dharma but what is real sadacara? What is the proper way of acting? And what is improper action? Before we did not know what is dharma and adharma. If people are following dharma, then why is there so much enmity, anxiety and so many problems? If we are really following true dharma, then we will not have to suffer from all these things. We have left everything and come to You. This is not any form of ‘adharma’ – irreligious activity.
You are our Beloved, You are our Friend, You are our Guardian, You are our life and soul and You are our everything. We cannot forget You Oh Krsna, and we cannot go separate from You. To go away from You and leave You, as You are telling us to do, would be adharma – irreligion. You are telling us to follow dharma and so we are following as we understand. To leave You would be the greatest sin, the greatest offence, and the greatest irreligion.
The citizens of a country enjoy the country. The King maintains them and protects them. There is this word bhokta – enjoyer. The real enjoyer is Krsna, the Lord, the Master. When we try to become the enjoyers then this is the root of our ignorance and sin. We should understand that we are the subordinates of Isvara – the Supreme Lord – and to serve Him and develop a relation with Him, that is the highest type of dharma. We cannot go against dharma. Krsna, You are our Master and Controller, we are not Your instructors. You are telling us to follow dharma and to serve our true relatives and so we are following that, we are serving You.
When we take shelter of Sri Krsna, then true knowledge of what is dharma and adharma will awaken within us. When we take shelter at His lotus feet then all good qualities will come within us. At that time everyone will be satisfied with us. All the sages and all the demigods will all be satisfied if we come to the lotus feet of Krsna, then we are not indebted to anyone. Otherwise we are always in debt to someone or another. When we come to Sri Krsna and surrender to Him then we no longer have any debt to any person or personality in existence. Why? Because we have taken shelter in ‘our true purpose’, ‘our true place’.
Krsna took the form of ‘Mohini’ and He showed what is true seva-dharma and gave instructions on how to serve Guru. The nature of disciples will not be going towards dharma without the mercy and help of the Guru. Therefore, the Gopis said, “Krsna You are acting in the form of Guru so please accept us and show us how to serve. Please accept our service.” The disciple cannot progress if the Guru will not accept them and their service.
The Gopis said, “Oh Krsna You are Svayam Bhagavan, the Lord Himself, please tell us what is stri-dharma – the dharma of a woman? You know what is auspicious and inauspicious. To follow adharma is always wrong, therefore Krsna kindly do not trick or cheat us. You have told us to go and serve our husbands in our homes but Krsna You are our eternal husband. These other people are just like an actor for a few days, taking the role of our husbands, but it is not permanent and they are not our real relatives. You are our eternal friend.
“What is the nature of the sadhus, what is in their hearts? Krsna, You said that sadhus are Your heart and You are in the hearts of the sadhus, therefore please make us sadhus. We also want to be sadhus and be renounced. We want to give up all other relationships and attachments and be only connected to You, then we will have the faith that You will always be in our hearts and we will always be in Your hearts. Please give us this tendency to serve, that is eternal.”
When we serve in maya then our pure tendency is covered and we become trapped in illusory connections and relationships. When we begin to serve Bhagavan then we are freed from maya as that is real dharma. Then we do not have to suffer for sinful reactions.
The Gopis said, “What do You want Krsna? Do You want us to become trapped in maya and go into maya and serve there? Do You want us to suffer and struggle for maya? Or do You want us to be free from maya and be with You? Please do not instruct us and tell us to leave You. Please accept us Krsna. We have understood Your true mood in Your instruction and we will endeavour to follow that.”