Book excerpts Pinnacle of Devotion THE PURPOSE OF LORD CAITANYA'S DESCENT


We are continuing our reading from Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta. Now we are discussing the third chapter, which explains the identity of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and the reasons He came to this world. Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja tells us that Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Śacīnandana Gaurahari, is directly Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself. He is not only Bhagavān, the Supreme Lord, but He is Svayam Bhagavān, meaning the original form of Godhead, from whom all other incarnations emanate. He is Vrajendra-nandana Kṛṣṇa Himself. This Kṛṣṇa is eternally situated with all His attributes and with His complete power, personified in the form of Śrīmatī Rādhikā. Even if the sun could be separated from its heat and light, Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa can never be separated.

Kṛṣṇa sported in Vṛndāvana for ten years. He took birth in Mahāvana Gokula and played there for His first few years, and then both His family and Rādhikā’s family moved to Vṛndāvana, where They enjoyed unlimited pastimes. There in Vṛndāvana, Nanda Bābā’s family stayed at Chaṭṭīkarā, and Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja stayed at Rāl. Then they moved to Kāmyavana, then Khelanvana, and finally Nanda Bābā’s family settled in Nandagāoṅ Gokula and Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja’s family in Varṣānā. In each dwelling place Their families made a new village, and Their villages were always side-by-side. Śrī Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa met at these places and eternally performed Their topmost pastime of rāsa-līlā as well as other pastimes.

When Kṛṣṇa comes to this world from Goloka Vṛndāvana, the whole of Vraja comes with Him: His associates, the Yamunā River, Govardhana Hill, Bhāṇḍīravana forest, and the entire eighty-four krośas (168 square miles) of Vṛndāvana accompany Him. He comes once in a day of Brahmā, in order to taste the five rasas of His pastimes: śāntadāsyasakhyavātsalya, and mādhurya.

Although He enjoys these rasas, He still has three unfulfilled desires, and the fulfillment of these desires is the essential reason for His appearance as Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Also, because He is an ocean of causeless mercy and an ocean of rasa, He wants to sprinkle drops of special mercy upon the jīvas so that they will be able to come to Him and serve Him forever.

Devotee reads from the introduction to Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛtaĀdi-līlā 4:

In this chapter of the epic Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī has stressed that Lord Caitanya appeared for three principal purposes of His own. The first purpose was to relish the position of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, who is the prime reciprocator of transcendental love of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Lord Kṛṣṇa is the reservoir of transcendental loving transactions with Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. The subject of those loving transactions is the Lord Himself, and Rādhārāṇī is the object [the abode of love]. Thus the subject, the Lord, wanted to relish the loving mellow in the position of the object, Rādhārāṇī.

The second reason for His appearance was to understand the transcendental mellow of Himself. Lord Kṛṣṇa is all sweetness. Rādhārāṇī’s attraction for Kṛṣṇa is sublime, and to experience that attraction and understand the transcendental sweetness of Himself, He accepted the mentality of Rādhārāṇī.

The third reason that Lord Caitanya appeared was to enjoy the bliss tasted by Rādhārāṇī. The Lord [Śrī Kṛṣṇa] thought that undoubtedly Rādhārāṇī enjoyed His company and He enjoyed the company of Rādhārāṇī, but the exchange of transcendental mellow between the spiritual couple was more pleasing to Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī than to Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Rādhārāṇī felt more transcendental pleasure in the company of Kṛṣṇa than He could understand without taking Her position, but for Śrī Kṛṣṇa to enjoy in the position of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī was impossible because that position was completely foreign to Him. Kṛṣṇa is the transcendental male, and Śrīmatī Rādhikā is the transcendental female. Therefore, to know the transcendental pleasure of loving Kṛṣṇa, Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself appeared as Lord Caitanya, accepting the emotions and bodily luster of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī.

Lord Caitanya appeared to fulfill these confidential desires and also to preach the special significance of chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare / Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare and to answer the call of Advaita Prabhu. These were secondary reasons.

Śrī Svarūpa Dāmodara Gosvāmī was the principal figure among Lord Caitanya’s confidential devotees. The records of his diary have revealed these confidential purposes of the Lord. These revelations have been confirmed by the statements of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī in his various prayers and poems.

This chapter also specifically describes the difference between lust and love. The trans­actions of Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Śrīmatī Rādhikā are completely different from material lust. Therefore the author has very clearly distinguished between them.

While Śrī Kṛṣṇa was considering how to fulfill His desires, the time came in Kali-yuga to preach the yuga-dharma, the religious process of the age. At that time, Advaita Ācārya came to prepare a platform for the descent of Kṛṣṇa and His associates. Advaita Ācārya wanted to give vraja-prema, but He could not do so because this was not the function of Mahā-Viṣṇu. Infact, this was not possible even for Rāma, Nṛsiṁha, Kalki, Vāmana, and Paraśurāma. All of these avatāras could establish yuga-dharma, but they could not give to any living being what Svayam Bhagavān, Vrajendra-nandana Śrī Kṛṣṇa, could give – pure vraja-prema.

Baladeva Prabhu can give this prema, but He leaves it for Kṛṣṇa to distribute and He assists. In the pastimes of Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Baladeva came as Nityānanda Prabhu. Nityananda Prabhu can also distribute that special kṛṣṇa-prema, that mādhurya-prema – directly and indirectly – but He waits for Caitanya Mahāprabhu.

There are four reasons for Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s appearance: two external reasons and two internal. The primary internal reason was to taste the moods of Śrīmatī Rādhikā (prema-rasa niryasa korite asvadana) and the secondary internal reason was to satisfy Advaita Ācārya who, offering tulasī leaves, had called for Kṛṣṇa to descend. The primary external reason for His appearance was to teach the fortunate jīvas the path of rāgānuga-bhakti (rāga-mārga-bhakti korite pracāraṇa), and the secondary external reason was to establish yuga-dharma (yada yada hi darmasya).

By His love, Advaita Ācārya induced Kṛṣṇa to come to this world. If a pure devotee takes the soft leaves of tulasī with a mañjarī in the middle, and offers it to Śrī Kṛṣṇa while weeping and praying to Him, Kṛṣṇa will not be able to refuse that devotee. He will have to ‘leave’ Goloka Vṛndāvana and at once come to him.

To inspire Kṛṣṇa to hear us, it is therefore necessary that we also worship tulasī daily, as Advaita Ācārya has done. By this method we can certainly please Kṛṣṇa, even if we are unable to please Him in any other way. By this method, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu and all Their associates will enter our hearts.

As mentioned above, Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Śacīnandana Gaurahari, is Kṛṣṇa Himself, and Nityānanda is Baladeva Prabhu. Through saṅkīrtana, which is the yuga-dharma, Mahāprabhu bestowed prema upon all types of living entities. In fact, even Kṛṣṇa could not have induced the forest inhabitants to chant and dance as Caitanya Mahāprabhu did. Serpents, elephants, tigers, she-goats – everyone became inspired by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.

Mahāprabhu sang:

Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa he
Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa, rakṣa mām
Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa, pāhi mām
Rāma Raghava, Rāma Raghava, Rāma Raghava, rakṣa mām
Kṛṣṇa Keśava, Kṛṣṇa Keśava, Kṛṣṇa Keśava, pāhi mām

Weeping and sometimes rolling on the ground as He sang, Mahāprabhu was not in His external consciousness. Overwhelmed, all the animals, creepers, and trees began to chant along with Him. After receiving Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s mercy, they all developed intense affection for Kṛṣṇa.

When Kṛṣṇa came to this world He was also merciful, but He gave kṛṣṇa-prema according to the quality of the devotee’s surrender and devotional practice – not less, not more – like a scale.

ye yathā māṁ prapadyante
tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmy aham
mama vartmānuvartante
manuṣyāḥ pārtha sarvaśaḥ

(Bhagavad-gītā 4.11)

As all surrender unto Me, I reward them accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Pṛthā.

Consider the analogy of a pot, which represents our qualification for kṛṣṇa-prema. When Śrī Kṛṣṇa was present, He never gave a pot to anyone. Rather He said, “Oh, bring your pot. According to the type and size of your pot, I will give you that much prema.”

Without our qualification, Kṛṣṇa will not give us prema. For example, if we have committed many offenses, He will not give us prema. On the other hand, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is giving the pot and the prema. He and Nityānanda Prabhu are so merciful. They have no scale at all. Because Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Śacīnandana Gaurahari, is the son of Śacī-devī, He is so magnanimous that whoever comes to Him receives His mercy. Without a scale, He says, “Come on, come on. Do you have a pot?”

“No, I have no pot. No qualification.”

“Oh, alright then. I will give you the pot and also this nectar, kṛṣṇa-prema.”

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu gave prema lavishly, but this is only one of the external reasons for His appearance. The internal cause for Kṛṣṇa’s descent as Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was to relish the three moods of Śrīmatī Rādhikā, which only She can taste. He borrowed Her intrinsic mood and beauty and became tadātmā, meaning ‘one in heart,’ with Her.

To further understand the meaning of tadātmā, let us consider this analogy. When iron is placed in fire it can burn. Iron does not burn, only fire has this power, but when placed in fire the iron becomes one in quality with it and can also burn. Likewise, Śrī Kṛṣṇa became tadātmā with Śrīmatī Rādhikā and forgot that He is Kṛṣṇa.

When Caitanya Mahāprabhu met Rāya Rāmānanda at Godāvarī, He learned rasa-tattva from him. Rāya Rāmānanda is Viśākhā, Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s dearmost friend, and Caitanya Mahāprabhu is Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa, in the form of Śrī Caitanya, made Śrīmatī Viśākhā-devī His guru in order to assist Him fully to develop the mood of Rādhikā. Then, Kṛṣṇa, as Caitanya Mahāprabhu, manifested His form as mahābhāva-rasarāja-svarūpa. Without accepting Viśākhā as His guru, this would not have been possible.

After meeting with Rāya Rāmānanda, Mahāprabhu retunred to the Gambhīrā at Jagannātha Purī, where He was able to fulfill His desire to taste the three moods of Śrīmatī Rādhikā. He is therefore very grateful to Viśākhā, and also to Lalitā, who appeared in this world as Śrī Svarūpa Dāmodara. Without their help, He cannot taste these three moods of Rādhikā.

His Brilliant, Unparalleled Donation

Because Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is Kṛṣṇa Himself, He can distribute vraja-prema, and especially parakīya-bhāva (paramour love), which is also called unnatojjvala-rasaUnnatameans ‘highest,’ ujjvala means ‘brilliantly shining,’ and the rasa refers to the taste of a specific relationship with Kṛṣṇa.

The brilliance of unnatojjvala-rasa is unparalleled, and it is this love that all of ourācāryas in the Gauḍīya sampradāya have come to this world to teach. Our ācāryas did not come to taste what Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu came to taste, but to give this same rasa which He came to distribute. The distribution of unnatojjvala-rasa is the main reason for His advent, but not the foremost, supreme reason. It is the primary external reason. As mentioned above, the primary internal reason was to taste Rādhā’s mood, and the second was to answer the call of Advaita Ācārya.

Mahāprabhu wanted to distribute that prema upon the jīvas which is rare even for Brahmā, Śaṅkara (Śiva), and Nārada. This is Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s mission, which can only be accomplished by the power of Kṛṣṇa in the form of Mahāprabhu.

Similarly all our ācāryas, like Rūpa Gosvāmī, Sanātana Gosvāmī, Jīva Gosvāmī, Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī, Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja, Viśvanātha Cakravarti Ṭhākura, Śyāmānanda Prabhu, Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura, Śrīnivāsa Ācārya, Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, Baladeva Vidyābhuṣaṇa, Śrīla Prabhupāda Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja, and Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja, did not come only to preach the glories of chanting the holy name, for this can be given by the associates of Mahā-Viṣṇu.

The expansions or manifestations of Mahā-Viṣṇu, like Advaita Ācārya, can preach and distribute the holy name, but they cannot preach vraja-prema through nāma-prema-saṅkīrtana. There is a vast difference between the nāma-saṅkīrtana of this Kali-yuga and that of other Kali-yugas. This is a specialty of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, who came along with His followers and associates.

Incarnations of Mahā-Viṣṇu like Advaita Ācārya, and His associates like Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanātana, Sanat Kumāra, Viśvaksena, and others, can perform and establish nāma-saṅkīrtana and yuga-dharma, but that nāma-saṅkīrtana will not give kṛṣṇa-prema, or vraja-prema. The nāma-saṅkīrtana of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and His associates has a special power that can give this.

Unnatojjvala-rasa is the special mood of Śrīmatī Rādhikā, which can be tasted by Kṛṣṇa as Caitanya Mahāprabhu, but cannot be distributed. What did Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu give? He did give unnatojjvala-rasa, but unnatojjvala-rasa is of two kinds: kāmātmikā, which He relished, and tat-tad-bhāvecchātmikā, which He distributed.

Kāmātmikā is the mood of Śrīmatī Rādhikā, Lalitā, Viśākhā, the rest of the eight principal gopīs, and other gopīs like them. Śrīmatī Rādhikā has five kinds of sakhīs (gopī friends): sakhī, nitya-sakhīprāṇa-sakhīpriya-sakhī and priya-narma-sakhīPriya-narma-sakhīs are also known as parama-preṣṭha-sakhīs.1

(1) Sakhīs: Daniṣṭhā is an example. These sakhīs love and serve Śrīmatī Rādhikā and Kṛṣṇa, but they are slightly more inclined toward Kṛṣṇa.

(2) Nitya-sakhīs and (3) Prāṇa-sakhīs: these are the only two kinds of sakhīs who are in the category of tat-tad-bhāvecchātmikā. It is their service that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu ultimately came to bestow upon the jīvas. These sakhīs serve both Śrī Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, with a propensity to favor Śrīmatī Rādhikā and render service to Her. If Kṛṣṇa calls them, they do not come to Him; they obey only Her. The prāṇa-sakhīs, like Rūpa Mañjarī and Rati Mañjarī, being even more intimately connected with Her are naturally the leaders of the nitya-sakhīs.

(4) Priya-sakhīs and (5) Priya-narma-sakhīs: Lalitā and Viśākhā are examples. Among these two types of sakhīs, the priya-narma-sakhīs are most dear. Both types of sakhīs serve the Divine Couple, Śrī Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa with a slight tendency towards Śrīmatī Rādhikā, but they do not lean soley toward Her. They have so much power that they can sometimes chastise Rādhikā and at other times chastise Kṛṣṇa.

The difference between the nitya- and prāṇa-sakhīs and the priya- and priya-narma-sakhīsis that the nitya-sakhīs and prāṇa-sakhīs are mañjarīs. They do not do anything for their own personal relationship with Kṛṣṇa. They do everything for Śrīmatī Rādhikā. They have no desire to taste Kṛṣṇa’s association for themselves. This bhāva, or mood, which is called tat-tad-bhāvecchātmikā, is also unnatojjvala-rasa, and it is this type of unnatojjvala-rasa that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu came to distribute.

This is a very elevated topic. One may wonder why I am speaking about this topic, since only a few, rare persons can truly embrace its essence. The answer is given in the above-mentioned verse, where it is implied that in order to perform sādhana, we must first be clear about our objective. For example, if we want money, we may have to serve the government, get a job, or do business. If we do not do business, we may resort to stealing, or we may get a group of dacoits and forcefully attack others with swords.

Śrī Kṛṣṇa attacked Bhīṣmaka’s kingdom, where hundreds of thousands of kings and their armies waited in full force to protect Rukmiṇī from Kṛṣṇa. However, despite the efforts of those kings, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, like a lion entering a group of jackals, took Rukmiṇī on His chariot and rode to Dvārakā where He married her.

As mentioned above, if someone’s goal is to accumulate money, and if by begging he does not get it honestly, he may get it by hook or by crook. A dog standing outside a sweet-shop will drool as he watches people eat rasagullā and rasamalai. He will not enter the shop, which the owner guards with a stick, but runs to lick the leaf cups that have been thrown away. And, while he is licking the cups, he will try to guard them from any other dog in the vicinity.

Similarly, in spiritual life our objective should be fixed first, and then we can decide how to achieve that objective. The practice to attain the goal is called sādhana, and the goal itself is called sādhya. Without knowledge of one’s sādhya, one cannot determine his sādhana. This is why Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja presents the sādhya in the first verse after the maṅgalācaraṇa verses of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Ādi-līlā 1.4).

If your objective is to accept what Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu came to give – that unnatojjvala vraja-prema – then come with me to the school of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, read all the Gosvāmīs’ literature, and learn how to develop greed for this. There are no rules and regulations for how this eagerness will come. It can manifest by associating with and hearing from a bona fide Vaiṣṇava. It will not awaken by śastric arguments alone.

A very ordinary, ugly, deformed poor man may see a princess and may have some greed to make her his wife. Although the idea of having her as his wife is absurd, there is no wealth or any other qualification required to have the greed for such a marriage. Similarly, spiritual greed cannot be controlled. It is acquired by hearing about the beauty of Śrī Kṛṣṇa and the affection of the gopīs for Him as described by the literatures of the Gosvāmīs headed by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, and also by hearing Śrīmad- Bhāgavatam and Caitanya-caritāmṛta. Such literatures also describe how Kṛṣṇa was controlled by the gopīs, and especially by Śrīmatī Rādhikā. They describe how He places His head at Rādhikā’s lotus feet, begging for Her mercy.

By hearing the topics of Caitanya-caritāmṛta and the books of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī from a pure devotee, greed may come, whether or not one is otherwise qualified for it – whether or not one is a pure devotee. And when greed comes, one becomes qualified to choose his means of practice (sādhana). He immediately achieves ruci (a natural taste for hearing chanting, remembering, etc.) and thus gallops toward his goal.

Those who practice sādhana-bhajana of Kṛṣṇa out of fear of going to hell are practicing what is called vaidhī-bhakti. Such persons have the propensity to perform vaidhī-bhakti. Practicing because greed has arisen in the heart is called rāgānuga-bhakti. There is a difference between rāgātmikā, which is the mood of the gopīs themselves, and rāgānuga devotees, those who are performing bhajana with greed to attain that mood.2

Those in this world who are at the advanced stage of āsakti (attachment for Kṛṣṇa), and who are just reaching the stage of bhāva, are rāgānuga. Those devotees who have not reached this stage, but who are developing some greed (rāgānuga-pravṛtti), will soon become qualified to practice rāgānuga-bhakti. They are not practicing rāgānuga yet, but they are approaching it.

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu came only to bestow this greed; to those who already have greed, He came to give them bhāva; and to those who have bhāva, He came to give them prema.

What kind of prema does He give? Not Śrīmatī Rādhā’s mood of unnatojjvala-kāmātmikā-bhāva, but the mood of unnatojjvala-tat-tad-bhāvecchātmikā. Although this is a difficult subject to understand, it is essential for us to try to understand it. After ten or twenty years, or in a future life, in the association of elevated (unnata) Vaiṣṇavas, we will be able to realize something of it.

A sincere, aspiring devotee tries to develop this greed. He prays, “I am not a rāgānuga Vaiṣṇava, but I beg that in this life, or if I am not qualified then in a thousand lives from now, that I may receive the mercy to become a rāgānuga Vaiṣṇava. I want nothing other than this, nothing else. I do not mind dying, but I do mind taking water from anywhere other than Keśī-ghāṭa or Mānasa-gaṅgā ghāṭa, or any ghāṭas (bathing places) of the tat-tad-bhāvecchātmikā gopīs.”

Now I will explain the original verse under discussion:

anarpita-carīṁ cirāt karuṇayāvatīrṇah kalau
samarpayitum unnatojjvala-rasāṁ sva-bhakti-śriyam
hariḥ puraṭa-sundara-dyuti-kadamba-sandīpitaḥ
sada hṛdaya-kandare sphuratu vaḥ śacī-nandanaḥh

(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛtaĀdi-līlā 1.4)

May that Lord, who is known as the son of Śrīmatī Śacī-devī, be transcendentally situated in the innermost chambers of your heart. Resplendent with the radiance of molten gold, He has appeared in the age of Kali by His causeless mercy to bestow what no incarnation ever offered before: the most sublime and radiant mellow of devotional service, the mellow of conjugal love.

This verse is from the maṅgalācaraṇa of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī’s Vidagdha-mādhava. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu inspired Rūpa Gosvāmī in Prayāga to fulfill His desire to distribute unnatojjvala-parakīya-bhāva, and along with this, to distribute knowledge to the jīvas about what He tasted. This bhāva is unparalleled even in Goloka Vṛndāvana, what to speak of this world. This prema is the eternal religion (nitya-dharma) of all fortunate living entities, not just those in human bodies.

If a husband who has affection for his wife sees that his wife has affection for another man, he will be upset. Similarly, if the wife knows that her husband internally loves someone else, she will be upset. Either way, their entire life together will be disturbed. We see the relationship of husband and wife, lover and beloved, not only in humans, but in creatures, creepers, and trees. Without this loving relationship, one cannot live. Trees and creepers also have this affection, but they cannot express it. Humans can express it to a certain extent.

The perverted reflection of prema (pure spiritual love) is the desire to satisfy the body, and this is called kāma (lust). Because lust is not pure, it causes pain, suffering, and problems. In this world it is seen that a man cannot fully satisfy a woman and vice versa. After some time he or she will become dissatisfied and may look for someone else.

We are refugees here in this material world. Because of lust we are imprisoned here, seeking satisfaction in a wife, husband, children, mother, father, friends, and worldly objects, and Kṛṣṇa arranges for us to taste the result of such material attachment. Satisfaction is only possible when one has affection for Kṛṣṇa; otherwise, no one can be satisfied.

When Lord Rāma and His own Śrīmatī Sītā-devī came to this world, they both played a role and taught us worldly jīvas the result of lust. They taught us that lust is a very bad thing.

When Rāma, Sītā, and Lakṣmaṇa were in the jungle, the demon Mārīca came in the form of a golden deer. Sītā saw the deer and told Rāma, “I want this deer. You can catch it alive, or You can shoot it and bring his skin.”

Lakṣmaṇa warned Rāma not to follow the deer. “He is actually a demon, not a deer,” Lakṣmaṇa told Rāma. “That demon will cause You many problems. Don’t go; it is better to disobey Your wife.”

Although Rāma is the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself and is therefore not controlled by māyā, He showed the conditioned jīvas what happens when a man comes under the control of a woman’s material desires. The result is problems. Rāma replied to Lakṣmaṇa, “I must carry out the order of My wife, even if the deer is a demon.”

Rāma went after the deer, and as a result He had to leave Sītā twice. Finally He had to leave her ‘forever,’ due to others doubting her purity after she had spent some days with Rāvaṇa. She was pure, but because others doubted her chastity, Rāma felt He needed to consider the mood of those citizens and abandon her. He sent her into the forest and then lamented deeply.

Rāma lived in a royal palace and Sītā lived in the forest in the āśrama of Vālmīki, sleeping on a grass mat and cutting wood for cooking. Rāma repented, “I have sent Sītā to the jungle, so I will also live as a renunciate and not taste any material comforts.” He stayed alone in His palace, sleeping on a mat on the floor. Sītā slept easily, but Rāma could not. He always wept, “O Sītā , O Sītā , O Sītā! I made a mistake by trying to satisfy My subjects.” Sītā was consoled by Vālmīki, but there was no one to console Rāma, no one to wipe away His tears. He wept constantly, and one who knows the heart of Rāma will also weep bitterly.

Once, Rāma performed a rājasūya-yajña (sacrifice) on the bank of the river Gomatī near Naimiṣāraṇya. All of His subjects, including His mothers, brothers, monkeys (Hanumān and Sugrīva), and Vibhīṣaṇa assembled there. The yajña was conducted from early morning to ten o’clock, after which everyone assembled to hear narrations from the Purāṇas.

One day, the twin sons of Rāma and Sītā, Lava and Kuśa, arrived in that assembly. They were about nine years old and, closely resembling Rāma Himself, they were very beautiful. No one knew who they were or from where they had come. Playing on vīṇās they began to recite the Rāmāyaṇa, which they had heard in the āśrama of Vālmīki. They sang in a melodious tune, as with a vīṇā, wherein high sounds trembled down to low ones in a rāga suitable for spiritual lamentation (karuṇa-rasa). Their singing was so sweet that all those present were stunned in silence. They sang about the pastime in which Sītā, Rāma, and Lakṣmaṇa, in the dress of renunciates, left Ayodhyā for the forest under the order of Kaikeyī – at which time King Daśaratha, lamented, “Alas, Rāma! Alas, Rāma!” and immediately left the world. As Lava and Kuśa sang, Rāma, Lakṣmaṇa, Bharata, Kaikeyī, Hanumān, Sugrīva, and the entire audience were captivated and wept bitterly. They felt that if the pastime was taking place right before their eyes.

As the day drew to a close, Rāma sent Lakṣmaṇa to give Lava and Kuśa a donation of a pot of gold coins, fine silken cloth, and golden ornaments. Lakṣmaṇa descended from His throne and asked them, “My dear boys, please tell Me your father’s name and where you are from. Lord Rāma wants to know your identity.”

The boys were silent at first, and then said, “You know the Vedas. You are a learned person, so You must know that it is not proper etiquette to inquire from a brahmacārī or sannyāsī about his father and mother, wife, daughters, or sons. You don’t know this etiquette? We are two brahmacārīs. You may therefore inquire about the name of our Gurudeva or the whereabouts of our āśrama, or request us to speak hari-kathā. We are disciples of Vālmīki. We have come from his āśrama and we have learned these songs from him.”

Lakṣmaṇa became speechless, ashamed that He had asked this question. He thought, “Yes, what they are saying is correct. One should not say to a brahmacārī or sannyāsī, ‘Oh, Mahārāja, you are still married. Your wife and sons are still there.’” He then requested them, “Please accept this golden pot containing jewels and golden ornaments.”

The boys replied, “We are simple brahmacārīs. What use do we have for such opulent gifts? We eat fruit, and without the use of a vessel we drink water from our hands. Please return these gifts to Rāma, who is a king and has use for them.”

Lava and Kuśa then returned to their mother, who had been anxiously waiting for them. Taking the boys in her arms, one in her left arm, the other in her right, she caressed them and asked, “O sons, why have you come home so late today?”

“Today, Mother, we went far away to the assembly of a king.” The boys did not know the king’s name. “There we sang the pastimes of Sītā and Rāma. We don’t know why, but everyone present was weeping – the king Himself, His brother, and even the monkeys. And while there, we saw something very unusual. There was a golden statue that looked exactly like you, with the same face and same beauty; but whereas you speak, this statue did not.”

Sītā began to weep bitterly. The boys asked her, “Mother, why are you weeping?” but she could not explain to them Rāma’s banishment of Her.

The next day, Rāma said to Vālmīki, “I know that Sītā is staying in your āśrama. Please bring her to Ayodhyā immediately. I cannot live without her.”

The following day, Sītā arrived in Ayodhyā with Lava and Kuśa holding her hands. Looking down at the ground as she walked, she followed Vālmīki and silently entered Rāma’s kingdom, wondering what was going to happen. Rāma, Lakṣmaṇa, Hanumān, Kauśalyā, and others eagerly gazed at the sight of Sītā returning to Ayodhyā. The Lord’s associates now assumed that the two boys must be the sons of Rāma. Because they were so beautiful, they could not possibly be the sons of any other.

Rāma approached Sītā and said, “Please show Me proof that you are pure, that you have never been touched by Rāvaṇa.”

Sītā responded in a mild voice with honor for Rāma, “Do You not accept the proof of my purity from Daśaratha Mahārāja and Agnideva? I will now give you proof.” She then prayed, “O Pṛthivī (the personified Earth planet), you are my mother. If I am pure, if I have never known anyone except Rāma, if my heart has never touched anyone else, even for a moment, then please open and take me in your lap.” She said this three times.

Then at once, with a great sound, the Earth divided in two and a beautiful golden chariot appeared. Pṛthivī-devī took Sītā on her lap and the Earth closed.

Rāma immediately jumped up, crying, “O Sītā ! Sītā ! Sītā ! You have left Me! O Mother-in-law, Pṛthivī-devī, return My Sītā or I will shoot you and break you into pieces. I want to see Sītā at once!”

Vālmīki approached Rāma and said, “Rāma, do not be so distressed. Go to Sītā. She is waiting for You in Your abode.”

In this way Rāma is showing the world the result of lust: “Do not do as I have done, otherwise there will be so many problems.”

In order to be happy, try to attain pure love for Kṛṣṇa. Material love is an endeavor to gratify selfish desires, whereas pure kṛṣṇa-prema is the opposite, free from the slightest taint of any selfishness.

In order to reveal to the jivas their eternal natural dharma, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu descended to this world. This world is like a school. Let us not waste this good opportunity to practice bhakti-yoga in the association of pure devotees, who are free from politics, hypocrisy, duplicity, and diplomacy. It is essential to understand that vraja-prema is our eternal dharma, and in order to be happy forever, we will have to achieve it. We must not allow lust to create a disturbance in our life. If one is married, that is alright; there is no harm in that as long as the husband treats his wife as one who is dear to Kṛṣṇa, serving her with love and affection but reserving his real inner affection for Kṛṣṇa.

This world is a training center We must not become entangled in it, otherwise we will have endless problems. One may perform one’s duty, maintaining one’s family members, for wealth is also not detrimental if it is utilized properly. Our family is not meant to fulfill our lust. While serving our family we must practice bhakti, and thus make this world like Vaikuṇṭha, the Lord’s spiritual abode.

1 “It is said that the gopīs are divided into five groups, namely the sakhīs, nitya-sakhīs, prāṇa-sakhīs, priya-sakhīs and parama-preṣṭha-sakhīs. All these fair-complexioned associates of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, the Queen of Vṛndāvana-dhama, are expert artists in evoking erotic sentiments in Kṛṣṇa. The parama-preṣṭha-sakhīs are eight in number, and in the ecstatic dealings of Kṛṣṇa and Rādhā they side sometimes with Kṛṣṇa and at other times with Rādhārāṇī, just to create a situation in which it appears that they favor one against the other. That makes the exchange of mellows more palatable” (Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 4.217).

2 “The original inhabitants of Vṛndāvana are attached to Kṛṣṇa spontaneously in devotional service. Nothing can compare to such spontaneous devotional service, which is called rāgātmikā-bhakti. When a devotee follows in the footsteps of the devotees of Vṛndāvana, his devotional service is called rāgānuga-bhakti” (Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 22.149).

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Sri Radhastami

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