Hari-katha Articles Under Shelter, Under Protection

Under Shelter, Under Protection

In the fifth verse of Śikṣāṣṭakam, Mahāprabhu prayed:

ayi nanda-tanuja kiṅkaraṁ
patitaṁ māṁ viṣame bhavāmbudhau
kṛpayā tava pāda-paṅkaja-
sthita-dhūli-sadṛśaṁ vicintaya

O Nanda-nandana, as a result of my fruitive activities, I have fallen into this fearful ocean of material existence. Please bestow Your mercy upon this eternal servant of Yours. Consider me to be just like a speck of dust at Your lotus feet and always accept me as Your servant.

The aspiration here is to become a speck of dust at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa. Brahmā and Uddhava have prayed like this. We want to become very small, like a particle of dust in the midst of the Vrajavāsīs. Being close to them, their mercy will purify us.

The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.8.26) states:

edhamāna-madaḥ pumān
naivārhaty abhidhātuṁ vai
tvām akiñcana-gocaram

O Lord, You can easily be approached, but only by those who are materially exhausted. One who is on the path of material progress, trying to improve himself with respectable parentage, great opulence, high education and bodily beauty, cannot approach You with sincere feeling.

Taking birth in a rich family that possesses so much opulence, being very learned, possessing great strength, and having a fair and beautiful body causes pride to arise in the heart of the jīva, and thus he finds it very difficult to be akiñcana.

The sādhaka should pray to become the foot dust of those who are the nearest and dearest servants of the Lord. But do not think that this is ordinary dust. This means to be very close with those intimate servants of the Lord, under their shelter, and feeling very insignificant.

One time, a king had a very intelligent, young son. This prince asked his mother and father, the ministers, and other persons, “How can I please everyone? I will be pleased if I can do this.” The king, as well as the ministers and the boy’s tutors gave some advice to the boy. The prince followed all their advice and thus everyone was very pleased with him.

However, there was one person who was not happy. There was an elder female servant of the prince who was like an aunt for the prince and served him in so many ways since the time of his birth. She used to wash his cloth, massage him, feed him, and fan him while he slept. For some reason however, she would cry every time she saw the prince.

The prince asked her, “Why are you crying whenever I am present? Everybody else becomes happy as soon as they see me, but you start to cry. Please tell me why.”

She would not answer his question, and silently continued doing her services. After asking again and again, the prince began a hunger strike. He said, “As long as you do not tell me why you cry every time you look at me, I will not eat. I will not go to school or anywhere else. Please, tell me.”

Since the maid remained silent, the king and queen themselves came to her and said, “Please, tell us why you are crying.”

The lady said, “But if I tell you, I will die immediately.”

The king said, “But if you don’t say anything, our son will fast to death.”

Then she said, “Okay, I will tell it to your son in secret, but not to anyone else.” The king agreed, and the maid then told the following to the prince.

She was serving in the house of the king at the time the boy took birth. The mother could not take care of her baby for the first six days, so the sister and aunt, which happened to be this maid, took care of the boy during this time. Six days after the baby’s birth, Lord Brahmā comes and writes the baby’s karma on its forehead.

On the night of the sixth day, the maid recited mantras for the child’s protection and put him to sleep. She herself slept at the gate which led to the prince’s quarter. There, Lord Brahmā appeared in the middle of the night and said, “Give me way. I have to go inside and write the boy’s karma on his forehead.”

The maid replied, “I will only let you go inside if you tell me what you’re going to write.”

Lord Brahmā knew that he could not cross over her body. If he did so, he would lose all his sukṛti. He requested the maid again and again to let him pass by until she finally let him go. Upon seeing that Brahmā would never cross her body, she got the idea to lay there and force him to tell her what he wrote on his way back. Brahmā went inside, did his job, and came back.

Then she said, “Now I will not give way until you tell me what you wrote.” Brahmā finally agreed to tell her everything. But at the same time, he warned her that she would die instantly if she told this information to anybody else. Brahmā told her, “This boy will be a beloved prince until he dies suddenly at the age of sixteen. Then the king and queen will become blind with grief and the whole country will go to ruin.”

Since the maid knew this, she was always suffering and crying when she saw the boy. She watched him growing up into such a brilliant and intelligent boy imbued with all good qualities. Now, the last year of the fifteen-year-old prince had come and he was told his unfortunate destiny. After revealing this misfortune, the maid died immediately.

For the prince’s sixteenth birthday, everybody was invited to the palace for the celebrations. The prince thought, “I shall not leave my body in front of my parents and everybody else.” With this in mind, he went to the horse shed on the night before his birthday, where he took a good horse and rode it off into the jungle. He went to the far away āśrama of Kana Muni. The ṛṣi was in samādhi and the prince offered praṇāma, performed parikramā, and waited for the ṛṣi. In the evening, the ṛṣi came out of his samādhi and looked at the prince.

“What led you to me, dear prince?”

The prince replied, “You know that I am the prince, so you must also know why I have come. Please give me shelter.”

The ṛṣi said, “Yes, I know about you and your future. You can stay here and take my shelter. I will give you mantradīkṣā. Then you will be safe.”

Although the following night was clear and calm, suddenly thunderbolts started appearing in the sky. The thunderbolts were sent by Indra in order to kill the boy. This was what Brahmā wrote on the prince’s forehead.

Kana Muni sat on a raised platform and had told the prince to sit underneath the platform, taking full shelter of the muni. Indra destroyed all trees and creepers in the forest and all the animals ran away in fear. But he could not touch the prince, who was being protected by the sādhu.

Many demigods came, including Lord Brahmā and Yama Mahārāja, and the muni addressed all of them, “If you want to kill the boy, you will have to kill me first.”

Brahmā said, “Give him up. I will give him another birth.”

But the muni refused. Indra said, “You cannot change the boy’s karma.”

The muni fearlessly replied, “No problem, you can kill me then.” But Indra could not kill him, because he knew that he would be cursed for killing such a great muni. Finally Lord Viṣṇu appeared and said, “I have a solution that will make it so the boy does not have to die, but at the same time Brahmā will not be a liar and his karma will become true.

Indra should throw a thunderbolt striking the boy’s fingernail and a strand of his hair. When they become separated from his body, they will be considered dead.” Indra followed Viṣṇu’s instruction, and everybody was appeased and left. The boy went back to the kingdom and everybody rejoiced upon his return.

āśraya laiya bhaje tare kṛṣṇa nahi tyaje āra saba mare akarana

It is necessary to take shelter. We should realize that we have fallen in the very dangerous ocean of saṁsāra, or material family life. Wherever the soul goes and takes birth, it gets a new family. These so-called family members all arrest the jīva. Therefore it is necessary to take shelter of those who are near and dear to God. They may treat us as they like, as everything they do is for our protection and purification.

Mahāprabhu prayed:

maj-janmanaḥ phalam idaṁ madhu-kaiṭabhāre
mat prārthanīya mad-anugraha eṣa eva
tvad bhṛtya-bhṛtya-paricāraka-bhṛtya-bhṛtya
bhṛtyasya-bhṛtyam iti māṁ smara lokanātha

Mukundamālāstotra 25

O Supreme Lord of all, slayer of the demons Madhu and Kaitabha! Please be merciful to me and grant my prayer that You may remember me as a servant of Your servant’s servant, a servant of such a servant of Your servant’s servant, a servant of a servant of Your servant’s servant, and a servant of Your servant’s servant servant.

When we take shelter of the servants of the Lord, they will take care of us as our guardians. Without this relationship, svarūpa-siddhi can never be attained.

Param Gurudeva was very close to Prabhupāda Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. When my Guru Mahārāja came, Prabhupāda told Param Gurudeva, “Vinoda, you take care of this boy.” In the same way Prabhupāda put Siddha-svarūpa Brahmacārī in the care of Bhāratī Mahārāja, and he put Bhakti Dayitā Mādhava Mahārāja, whose name was Hayagrīva Brahmacārī, in the care of Bhaktivilasa Tīrtha Mahārāja.

During his lifetime, Prabhupāda Sarasvatī Ṭhākura demonstrated a perfect example on how to follow Vaiṣṇavism. Once a brahmacārī, who had grown up in a rich family in Calcutta, joined the maṭha. When he joined, the temple facilities where very simple and there was no good water and food available. In time, the brahmacārī became ill with typhoid and was suffering for a long time, and it looked like he was going to die.

There were also no doctors in Māyāpura in those days and the only treatment they could provide consisted of some herbs from the jungle. One day, the boy’s father came to the maṭha and offered his son some medicine. The brahmacārī said, “I will only take the medicine if you ask my Guru Mahārāja for permission.” The father then asked Prabhupāda if he could provide medicine and the proper diet for the boy and Prabhupāda agreed.

The parents stayed in Māyāpura for one month and spent a lot of money on doctors and medicine. When the boy got some relief from his illness, his parents asked him to go back to their house in Calcutta and to stay there until he was completely cured, after which they said he could go back to his guru. The brahmacārī again told them to ask Prabhupāda, who again agreed to their suggestion.

When they arrived in Calcutta, the brahmacārī said that he wanted to stay in a room outside rather than in the house. But the mother said, “I was in Māyāpura for one month looking after you, and now I will have to continue my service to you and at the same time serve the rest of the family and look after the house. I can only do this if you stay inside the house.” He submitted to his mother’s request and stayed inside the house.

Sometime later the mother said, “The doctor ordered you to eat fish and meat in order to gain strength, but if you don’t want to you don’t have to. But, please, at least accept some of my cooking that contains fish or meat stock, and some dishes that contain eggs. In this way you will become healthy. You don’t have to eat any fish, just take the juice from the soup, and this will make you healthy.”

Like this, māyā slowly captured the boy and when Param Gurudeva went to his house to check if his health was back, the boy was indeed healthy, but his intelligence and taste for bhakti was lost. The boy was so embarrassed that he did not even come out of the house to meet parama Gurudeva. parama Gurudeva was kept waiting, and then after a long time the boy’s mother gave him some dakṣiṇā for Prabhupāda and said that her son was still not well enough to go back to the maṭha.

Since Param Gurudeva promised Prabhupāda to bring the brahmacārī back to the maṭha, he was determined, and thus tried again and again to bring him back, even though it appeared to be hopeless. After quite some time, Param Gurudeva again met the brahmacārī. He now had a successful business, but he wept when he met with Param Gurudeva and asked him how he could go back to the maṭha.

Shortly later he had an accident and completely disabled, the boy had to stop his business and went to meet Prabhupāda, who told him to offer whatever little he had left for Kṛṣṇa. In this way, Kṛṣṇa’s punishment turned out to be His blessings, and allowed the boy to come back to Prabhupāda.

Āśraya, taking shelter, is necessary. Otherwise nobody will take care of us and think about us. Without shelter, we are hopeless in this world and we will never attain svarūpa-siddhi. This verse teaches us that in order to attain svarūpa-siddhi, we have to take shelter; not directly of the Divine Couple, but of their nearest and dearest servants.

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Mahāprabhu was very clever, He said, “I will accept the bhaktas invitation for lunch on one condition. They must be a lākhapati.”Lākhapati is generally a word used to describe someone who is wealthy. All the bhaktas were disturbed thinking that they were all very poor. Then Mahāprabhu said, “They must chant one lākha of harināma and then I’ll take prasādam from them. Otherwise I won’t touch anything.”The bhaktas thought, “When will we have time to chant 64 rounds and after perform all our services?” There would be no time to go and address anybody and no time to talk uselessly; there would be no time to waste a moment. Then after chanting, they would cook and offer and serve Mahāprabhu. Why did Mahāprabhu give this instruction to chant 64 rounds? While chanting, devotees could always pray to Śrī Rādhārānī and the Vraja-devīs. By remembering and praying to them for six to eight hours daily, their mercy would easily be attained and then strong energy and taste comes. Then when they cook or offer any bhoga, those foodstuffs will be like the cooking of the Vraja-devīs and their mahā-prasāda. Otherwise one who does not follow, remember and pray to the Vraja-devīs, anything offered independently to Kṛṣṇa will not be accepted.Kṛṣṇa and Mahāprabhu say, “If you have no relation with the Vraja-devīs, if you are not praying and requesting them for relation and shelter, then I will not be related to you.”In Dvārakā they chant, “oṁ namo bhagavate vāsudevaya, śrī-kṛṣṇa śaraṇam mama.”But they don’t chant, “Rādhe Rādhe! Prāṇeśvarī Rādhe! Madeśvarī Rādhe!” They only go to the side of Kṛṣṇa; therefore, Kṛṣṇa does not accept them.Mahāprabhu instructed all bhaktas to chant daily 64 rounds of harināma with the aim and object fixed on serving Śrī Vraja-maṇḍala and the Vrajavāsīs. And if they do not think about Vṛndāvana, then they are very far from Kṛṣṇa and Mahāprabhu and They won’t accept anything.From the day Mahāprabhu instructed the devotees to be lakhapatis, they seriously chanted 64 rounds daily and after came to the Gambhīrā near Mahāprabhu and invited Him to take prasādam and bhikṣa. This is called vraja-sevā and svarūpa-siddhi. If you think, “I will do everything! All work!” If you are not under guidance and shelter of the Vraja-devīs then everything you do will be karma. Karma and sevā are very different. Karma is anything done independently. If you work for 24 hours a day with an independent doer mood, only material results will come.Mahāprabhu instructed, “Chant 64 rounds daily while remembering the Vraja-devīs and Vrajavāsīs, and practicing internal mānasī-sevā. Otherwise the mind will go restlessly here and there. Pray for the service of the Vrajavāsīs. Pray, “Please accept me!” While chanting, always pray. If there is no prayer, then chanting is only dry practice, like a tape recorder or parrot. Once, a person taught a parrot to chant, ‘Rāma Rāma, Rādhe Syāma.” The parrot chanted over and over and all people came and said, “Bah! Very good parrot.” After some time a cat came. The parrot forgot Rāma’s name and started shrieking, “Kaw, kaw, kaw, don’t kill me!”Mahāprabhu said, “Chant 64 rounds of harināma while praying and remembering the holy names of the Vraja-devīs. ”After, when one goes for any task or service, then the practical mood will come and one will continue to pray and if anything goes wrong, the vraja-devī’s will be your guardians and will protect you. Otherwise, one’s service will be improper and not connected. Chanting does not mean austerity; it is the process to build relation with God and His associates. Therefore pray, “I’m very wicked and useless, please accept me and give me your eternal service. I’m waiting for this only, I will take nothing else.” Now the mind is restless and there is no desire or taste for any service. By force we do anything, and if any disturbance comes, like a volcano we erupt in anger.Gambhīrā means deep and grave. These instructions of Mahāprabhu are very important and serious. In this world all give instructions for material acquisition. From the beginning of life parents train their children, “mama, pāpa, uncle, auntie.” Then they send them to school where teachers teach business and atheistic philosophy. Sad-guru and vaiṣṇavas teach paramārtha, spiritual truths and treasure. They bring us to the transcendental path. No one else teaches this. Materialists hear the instructions of sādhus and tell their relatives; “Don’t listen to these crazy fools!”Worldly people always teach about material sense enjoyment for the dead physical body. But no one is merciful and teaches about the real life of the soul. No one helps to break attachment and bring one to the God’s lotus feet. They know this world and mortal life is temporary but without sense enjoyment their minds are not happy.Mahāprabhu told all the bhaktas that He would not accept or have any relation with a devotee who did not chant one lakh of harināma daily. Haridāsa Ṭhākura chanted three lakhas daily, and therefore, Mahāprabhu sent mahā-prasāda for Him daily. One day Govinda Prabhu went to give Haridāsa Ṭhākura mahā-prasāda but he wouldn’t accept saying, “Now my body is not helping or allowing me to complete my vowed number of holy names; therefore, I won’t give it any help with this prasādam. If this body doesn’t serve God, it is worse than useless.”Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja taught all his disciples to first chant sixteen rounds after maṅgala-āratī without distraction and then perform any other activity. The minds of those who have no relation with Śrī nāma will never be purified. 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Once, Sanātana Gosvāmī came to meet with Rūpa Gosvāmī as he was writing about the swing pastimes of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. In his writings, he was explaining how Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, along with the sakhīs and mañjarīs, engage in swinging pastimes. He explained how, when Rādhārānī becomes frightened on the swing, she holds onto Kṛṣṇa tightly. He wrote several expositions, and Sanātana Gosvāmī relished this for many hours. Then he read a part where Rūpa Gosvāmī described Rādhārānī’s hair as being like a black snake coming up from Her waist, with hoods expanding over the top of Her head. Sanātana Gosvāmī said, “Oh, everything you have written is excellent, but Rādhārānī is very soft and sweet. Why have you said that Her hair is like a black snake? This seems improper.” Rūpa Gosvāmī humbly replied, “O brother, please correct this with an analogy you find appropriate.” “I will consider it and will write something tomorrow,” Sanātana Gosvāmī said. Sanātana Gosvāmī then left for his own bhajana-kuṭīra. On the way he saw many small kiśorīs playing and dancing. One of the girls was seated on a beautiful swing. “How wonderful,” he thought, “this reminds me of the sweet description I have just read.” He saw the little girls pushing their sakhī back and forth very happily. Suddenly he noticed a hooded snake rising above the swinging girl’s head, as if ready to strike. He ran forward and called, “O kiśorī, be careful! A snake is about to bite you! There are many snakes, all you girls are in danger!” But as he approached, the scene suddenly disappeared and he found himself alone. He then understood, “This was a vision of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī’s swing pastimes. Anything Rūpa says is absolutely true. There is no cause for doubting his descriptions.” Śrī Guru is eternal and his vāṇī is also eternal. Whatever Śrī Guru says is truthful. Therefore never doubt the conclusion of your Gurudeva. Sometimes Sanātana Gosvāmī and Rūpa Gosvāmī would meet at Ṭera-kadamba; they had many wonderful interactions there. Every day Śrīmatī comes from Yāvaṭa to Nandagrāma with Her sakhīs and mañjarīs and She cooks there with Her own hands. She is very young and delicate, and yet, She is svarūpa-śakti, the root source of all energy and She easily carries heavy clay pots full of honey, milk, yogurt, and other ingredients. When She has completed Her cooking pastimes, She returns to Yāvaṭa and goes to worship the sun. At that time Rūpa Mañjarī and the other mañjarīs decorate the pathway with rose and lotus petals. Ṭera-kadamba is between Nandagrāma and Yāvaṭa. Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu performed bhajana there, continuously engaged in devotional service. Sanātana Gosvāmī stayed at Pāvana-sarovara and sometimes came to speak with Rūpa Gosvāmī. They would speak morning to evening, drinking the transcendental nectar of hari-kathā and would not even notice the day pass into evening, nor did they feel any hunger or thirst. As the rest of the world mulled around in mundane activities, they manifested the books that we continue to honor today. At around four o’clock one afternoon as Rūpa and Sanātana were rapt in hari-kathā, a young girl approached and said to them, “O Bābā, you did not do mādhukarī today, so my mother has sent me with this milk. Please drink it.” But they did not answer or even notice Her; such was their absorption. “Bābā,” the girl said, “shall I boil the milk for you?” Not receiving a reply, She said, “I will make some kṣīra, then you can offer bhoga and have some.” She collected some dry cow dung and leaves, in the same way that She arranges everything for Kṛṣṇa when He is in the forest, and then She started a fire and cooked kṣīra. Afterward She said, “O Bābā, I am finished cooking; offer this and then take some yourself. Now I must go.” In the evening Rūpa Gosvāmī asked Sanātana Gosvāmī, “You have not eaten all day. What can I give you? We have not done mādhukarī today.” Then Rūpa Gosvāmī saw the pot of hot kṣīra and, recalling the episode with the young girl earlier in the day, said, “Ah yes! A girl came today and made this kṣīra.” They had no clay pots or metal plates, so they brought lotus leaves, cooled the kṣīra down and offered bhoga. Rūpa Gosvāmī then gave some of the prasāda to Sanātana Gosvāmī, and they took it together. Upon tasting the exceedingly divine kṣīra their hearts melted in ecstasy. This is called rasamayī-sevā; if our hearts have no softness, and we do everything out of a sense of duty like an ordinary karmī, then how will the heart ever melt? Śrīmatī Rādhārānī cooked this kṣīra Herself and gave it to Rūpa and Sanātana. Why? From morning to evening they were engaged in hari-kathā and rasamayī-sevā. chāpanna daṇḍa rātri-dine jāne nā rādhā-govinda vine They knew nothing but Rādhā-Govinda throughout the day and night, always being absorbed in transcendental service and nothing else. Sanātana Gosvāmī understood that the kṣīra must have been cooked by their Svāminī and so he questioned Rūpa, “Did you pray for anything while we were speaking?” “Actually,” Rūpa admitted, “I was thinking that I had nothing to offer you as prasāda…” “Alas! Just see what you have done!” Sanātana said. “Because of your desire, our Svāminī Herself came and cooked for us.” Once there was a self-acclaimed sādhu living in Vṛndāvana named Khanja Kṛṣṇādāsa. We should know that wearing tilaka, shaving our head, keeping a śikhā, and dressing like a Bābājī does not make us sādhus. We must have the qualities of a sādhu, which are described elaborately in scripture. However much oil you rub on a dog’s tail will not straighten it. Khanja Kṛṣṇādāsa heard many other sādhus praising Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, so he went one day for his darśana, thinking, “I will go see this Rūpa Gosvāmī everyone is glorifying to be the best of sādhus.” Khanja Kṛṣṇādāsa was a cripple who walked in a crooked manner with the help of a stick. As he approached Rūpa Gosvāmī, he saw him laughing heartily, and thought he was laughing at him. He turned around angrily and returned to his hut. Although he went to see the sādhus and become purified, he only became more contaminated, because he could not understand the nature and position of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī. Wherever a sweeper goes, he only collects refuse. He has relation only with that. Khanja Kṛṣṇādāsa went to see the pure devotee, but rather than his heart becoming cooled and filled with good qualities, he burned in anger, unable to forget the image of Rūpa Gosvāmī apparently laughing at him. He did not know that Rūpa Gosvāmī was absorbed in the pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. To bestow mercy on Khanja Kṛṣṇādāsa, who had come with some good intention, Śrīmatī Rādhārānī blocked the flow of Rūpa Gosvāmī’s aṣṭa-kaliya-līlā-smaraṇa. (see more)

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If we have no relation with līlā-śakti, if She doesn’t help us and come in our heart, then we will never get liberation from mundane activities, māyā līlā. We will not be able to cut this off. Therefore, the guru-varga, our gosvāmīs, gave us a way to make relation with kṛṣṇa-līlā, vraja-līlā. They took some help, power and potency from līlā-śakti, and then wrote about Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes in Vraja and reserved it in the form of granthas. Hearing these pastimes, one will become attached to līlā-śakti, and She will gradually give us entrance. On one side, intense renunciation will arise in the heart, vairāgya, and on the other side there is deep anurāga, intense attraction. Then one will never hear, follow or have any connection with māyā līlā. If one doesn’t establish connection with līlā-śakti and vraja-līlā, then he will make stronger relation with māyā. He will never understand what is kṛṣṇa-līlā, what is Kṛṣṇa’s śakti, Divine Potency. Everything one does will be speculation and imitation.

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