Hari-katha inspired by the Guru-varga
Today is Pandava Nirjala Ekadasi. The glories of this Ekadasi that I am about to explain haven’t been told in any book or sastra. All that I say is to cheat others. So be careful in accepting my words. But those who stand still and fixed despite being tortured and cheated will be like Prahlada Maharaja and Druva Maharaja. Otherwise, they will be the followers of the Vraja-devis, the manjaris. Why? Despite the world being plagued by this shortcoming, the followers of the Vraja-devis are not disturbed. They know that the people, who employ various means of cheating, do so because of being driven by false ego. This is everyone’s chit-fund or bogus fund business. They will try contaminating you with their nature. But if you stay strong and fixed, you will gain entrance into Mahaprabhu’s movement.
Anyhow, today is Pandava Nirjala Ekadasi. Now I will start my program. Krsna would often visit the Pandavas, but He would mostly talk with Bhima and Arjuna. Nakula and Sahadeva were silent and peaceful. Yudhistira Maharaja was Dharmaraja; he had no tension. But Bhima and Arjuna would always argue with Krsna.
They would say, “Krsna, You say that by following Ekadasi, one will obtain a good result. He will be helped in all ways. To substantiate Your statements, You quote from many sastras. You collect Ekadasi’s glories from everywhere and tell us about them. You always tell us, ‘Follow Ekadasi! Follow Ekadasi!’ But despite us following Ekadasi, we haven’t received any benefit.”
Bene-fit, this means there is no good fruit obtained. Benefit means one obtains a profit. Extra profit signifies benefit. Profit may finish, but benefit will not finish as quickly; it will stay with you for some time. The fruits obtained are of two types—profit and benefit.
Anyhow, when Bhima and Arjuna posed this question to Krsna, the Lord said, “Both of you don’t follow Ekadasi seriously. You cheat yourselves.”
On the day of Ekadasi, many preparations like pakoda, puri, halava, burfi, fruit salad, fruit yoghurt, lassi, mango shake, and drinks are prepared. You take all of these preparations from morning to evening. On the condition that you don’t eat grains, you take a lot of fruits and roots. You also take cashew nuts, pistas, walnut kernels, water chestnut, betel-nut, and many kinds of nuts. Then you will have no room for the proper observance of Ekadasi. So, how can she come and help you?
A devotee in our midst always covers his head with a cap. People think that his head has no hair, so he covers his head with a cap. But, his head has much hair. Hence, people are mistaken. Similarly, we cover our observance of Ekadasi. Externally, we show people that we follow Ekadasi. Instead, from the morning, we supply our eleven senses with air, water, ether, fire, and earth. We drink many juices and rasas. Do you know who the founder of rasa is? The ear is accustomed to various kinds of sounds from the early morning. It is familiar with many musical programs.
Srila Rupa Gosvami Prabhu has written, “Atyaharah prayasasca.” What is atyahara? Is it merely the control of one’s diet? It is the withdrawal of senses from sense objects. One also eats through the agency of his different senses like ears, eyes, nose, hands, and body. One Babaji would often follow Nirjala Ekadasi and Siva-ratri. He would bathe in the Ganga and Yamuna at least ten times. While he would bathe, his entire body would drink the water. Then how could he be thirsty? By sitting in a water pot, the entire body will be soaked with water. This is also ahar. Air has many dimensions of sound to it. Hence, this is also ahar, a form of gratification for the senses. The nose doesn’t eat, but it smells. So, it is also ahar.
Krsna told Bhima and Arjuna, “Both of you don’t follow Ekadasi despite Me repeatedly insisting the both of you to follow. For the complete day, your senses are always wandering after sense objects.”
During the day of Ekadasi, a person looks at kachoris and pizzas and thinks, “They look so crunchy!” He also sees rasagullas and wonders how tasteful they are. So, he eats through his eyes.
Chastising Bhima and Arjuna, Krsna said, “Both of you eat through all your senses. But still, both of you say, ‘I don’t eat sinful things. I don’t eat grains.’ But, your senses are always looking to fulfil their wants. Jada-rasa can only be abandoned when you follow Ekadasi. Ekadasi-devi bestows Bhakti-rasa and Vraja-rasa. But do you have a place for her in your heart?”
On listening to Krsna speak, the Pandavas became very serious. Sensing their sincere demeanour, Krsna asked them, “Will all of you follow Ekadasi.”
The Pandavas said in unison, “Yes.”
“Do you promise to?”
“I would like to give you all transcendental rasa.” What form of rasa?
nigama-kalpa-taror galitam phalam
pibata bhagavatam rasam alayam
muhur aho rasika bhuvi bhavukah
Krsna told the Pandavas, “I have a desire to give you aprakrita-rasa.”
But how could Krsna give the Pandavas this rasa if they had no room for this mellow in their hearts? Hence, Ekadasi-devi is sent by the Lord to make everyone’s hearts a resting place for the Lord. A day or a month before Ekadasi’s appearance, devotees buy greska. Afterwards, they buy freska, leska, kinnua, mannua,*** and many other foodstuffs. They acquire pure ghee and indeed, stock many kinds of foods.
A devotee thinks, “Tomorrow is Ekadasi. So, I should make special preparations.” The devotee then cleans and washes many kinds of fruits and roots. He powders them and makes pakodas. He makes many offerings. After making them, he says, “These offerings are not for me; they are for Jagadisa.” But in reality, he only makes the offerings according to his wishes. Externally, he offers them to the Lord; indeed, he is greedy to taste the different varieties of preparations. By taking these preparations, there will be no room for Bhakti-rasa, Vraja-rasa.
Sukadeva Gosvami distributed this rasa to Pariksit Maharaja. Except for this rasa, the king didn’t take anything for seven continuous days and nights. All the members of the assembly consisting of Rsis, Maharsis, Brahmarsis, and Tapasvis, also drank this rasa. This rasa was showered down on everyone. Hence, they had no room for mundane tendencies in their hearts. But we desire many mundane things. Today is Ekadasi, so one may have eaten up to his neck the previous night. He thinks, “If I fill my belly with food, there will be no need for me to eat any food on Ekadasi.” Hence, he eats like a camel or a buffalo. One may also drink much water and eat many dry fruits before 3’o clock in the morning. He engages in this act just so he can maintain his fast on Ekadasi. This body is a vehicle. By giving it a suitable amount of oxygen and nutrition, it will run well. But eating up to your neck on the day before Ekadasi is a form of cheating.
During the summer, the sun scorches everyone with his heat. All the rasa in our bodies dries up and to make things worse, we sweat profusely. We are to also maintain a complete fast from even water. The sun dries the rasa in our body from outside and by maintaining a fast; we dry our body from the inside. Therefore, our hearts will be cleansed and Ekadasi-devi will enter and decorate our hearts. What will she give us?
Mahaprabhu says that she gives, “Unnata-ujjvala rasam sva-bhakti sriyam.” But we can only receive sva-bhakti sriyam if we have room for Bhakti-devi in our hearts. If we have no room for her in our hearts, how can she give us this bhakti-rasa?
sri-gaura-karuna-sakti-vigrahaya namo ’stu te
How will gaura-karuna-sakti, the personified form of Mahaprabhu’s energy enter your heart if you have no room in it? Therefore, Srila Prabhupada Sarasvati Thakura, the Gosvamis, and our Guruvarga would follow Ekadasi for three days. How would they do so? On the day of Dasami, they would take fruits and roots. On Ekadasi, they would maintain a complete nirjala fast. On the day of Dvadasi, they would break their fast by taking caranamrita. Even on Dvadasi, they would only take fruits and roots. Hence, one who follows in their footsteps will find his body to be completely dry; there will be no jada-rasa in his body. Then there will be no desire to enjoy. One’s senses will not run after their sense objects. The senses will never be hungry and thirsty; their ahar, diet will be controlled. But if you feed your senses every day or even at every moment, then they will always be busy. This unrestricted indulgence of the senses is called intoxication, nasa. Most are nasabaz, intoxicated. People are always in need; if they don’t find what they need, they become disturbed. They then fight among themselves. Why do brahmacaris and bhaktas fight among themselves? If everyone has come to engage in bhajana, then why do they fight? If you can’t engage in bhajana, you may cry and pray, “My life is useless.” But why is there competition? Can a mundane form of competition ever exist in the realm of Bhakti?
Krsna told the Pandavas, “On this Ekadasi, you must completely fast from even water, even if you are unable to do so on other Ekadasis.” Why? During the summer, Jyesta-masa, one is greatly troubled by the heat. Now, we are observing a Sukla Ekadasi, the Ekadasi on the bright fortnight.
After listening to Krsna’s advice, the Kunti-devi, the Pandavas, and Draupadi collectively addressed the Lord and expressed their worries on the proper observance of Ekadasi. On the pretext of following Ekadasi, some people cheat the gullible. They claim to follow Ekadasi-vrata, but they engage in prajalpa for the complete day of Ekadasi. They talk endlessly with each other. On the day of Ekadasi-devi’s appearance, we must not talk with each other. We must be silent and only drink the nectar of God’s holy name, nama-rasa.
madhuram madhuram etad mangala-mangalanam
sakrid api parigitam sraddhaya helaya va
bhrigu-vara! nara-matram tarayet krishna-nama
jayati jayati namananda rupam murarer
katham api sakrid attam mukti-dham praninam yat
parama amritam ekam jivanam bhushanam me
In his Namastaka, Srila Rupa Gosvami states many sublime glories of the holy name. On the day of Ekadasi, we must only continuously drink nama-rasa. We must be careful to not be entangled by atyahara and prajalpa.
Krsna told the Pandavas, “By staying with Me, you will perfectly follow Ekadasi.”
Then the Pandavas followed Nirjala Ekadasi under the guidance of Krsna. The devotee must only drink nama-rasa for the complete day. The devotee must not talk, sleep, collect, and engage in other activities. He need only be engaged in kirtana and hearing the glories of Ekadasi-devi’s specialties. Who follows Ekadasi? The Vraja-devis follow Ekadasi; the Vrajavasis follow Ekadasi. How do they follow? By following the process delineated by the sadhus and sastra. How do the Rsi-Maharsis follow Ekadasi? On the day of Ekadasi, all the Rsi-Maharsis assemble and start a yajna. They engage in performing the sacrifice for the complete day and night. The fire, air, and the heat of the summer, dry their bodies’ rasa. They continuously taste nama-rasa. The jada-rasa they are accustomed to is finished, and aprakrita-rasa enters their hearts.
Today’s means of communication aided by many satellites has made connecting people supposedly easy. By the means of internet, one can see the pictures of his loved ones. Clever people collect what they see and learn. Krsna showed the Pandavas of how the Vrajavasis follow Ekadasi.
Manifesting the divine scene, Krsna told the Pandavas, “Look how the Rsis, Maharsis, Brahmarsis, and Tapasvis follow Ekadasi. Especially make a note of how the Vrajavasis follow Ekadasi. You think, ‘I am great. Everything is my right.’ But you must not think like this. Therefore, respect and faith is necessary during the day of Ekadasi. On this day, you must go near Guru and Vaisnavas. Or else, you must at least go to a temple of Hari. You must also bathe in the Ganga and Yamuna. You must also read the sastra on this auspicious day. If you cannot engage in any of these activities, just engage in nama-kirtana. Maintain silence throughout this day. Don’t speak unnecessarily and don’t collect anything mundane. All of you must seriously follow this day. Otherwise, your endeavors will be bogus and in vain.”
By listening to Ekadasi-devi’s glories spoken by Krsna, the Pandavas followed Ekadasi. Hence, respect for this day blossomed in their hearts. Krsna showed them His hand bearing the sign of an amla fruit and said, “Look how the Vrajavasis follow Ekadasi.” Then the nature of the Pandavas changed.
They said, “Krsna, the Vrajavasis are very powerful. They are naturally strong. From the morning, they engage in many activities. They milk the cows and then make yoghurt. They go to the cowshed and feed the cows and calves. Indeed, they take care of everybody. But still, they follow a Nirjala Ekadasi. They don’t talk inappropriately or unnecessarily. They only taste Your rasa.”
Srila Gurudeva would often say of how the Vrajavasis would always sing, “Govinda, Damodara, Madhaveti.”
Krsna told the Pandavas, “Look how the Vrajavasis chant My names from the early morning.”
Krsna then also had the Pandavas see how all the Rsis and Brahmarsis chanted Brahma’s glorification of Krsna. The sages reverentially chanted, “Govindam adi purusam.” The sages started a yajna in honor of the Lord.
The assembled sages chanted, “Venum kvanantam aravinda-dalayatksam, barhavatamsam asitambuda-sundarangam, kandarpa-koti-kaminiya-visesa-sobham, govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami.”
The Pandavas were greatly surprised by what they saw. They saw how all the residents of the heavenly realms up until Brahmaloka, and how all the residents of the lower planetary systems like Tala, Atala, Talatala, Rasatala, and Patala followed the bhaktas. Then the Pandavas became very greedy. Why were they greedy?
They eagerly thought, “When will we go to Vraja-mandala? When will we take birth there? When will we follow this vrata under the guidance of the Vrajavasis?”
By following this Nirjala Ekadasi even once, all forms of jada-rasa will be forgotten. The desire for name, fame, popularity, and kingdom will be done away with. All mundane longings will be given up and forgotten. The Pandavas renounced everything and went to Radha-kunda and Syama-kunda. They took birth as trees there to perform their austerities.
They were of the conviction, “We will stay permanently in one place. We will never leave Vraja-mandala.”
While learning the English language, one mixes words from his native language like Bengali and speaks the language. Why does he do so? Because the language can easily be learnt this way; speaking English in its unadulterated form is not possible. The Pandavas were fixed in their position; they didn’t want to move an inch away from Syama-kunda and Radha-kunda.
If I were to tell a devotee, “Oh Maharaja, you will stay in this room for your complete life. You are to never come out. Staying in this room, you must chant in front of Tulasi-devi, like how Mahaprabhu did while He stayed in the Gambira for eighteen years.”
While staying in the room, the devotee will think, “Oh there is no fresh air here. I am now imprisoned in this jail!”
Being accustomed to jada-rasa, a person likes the features of this material world. Thus, he attracts sin to himself. Therefore, how can you be fixed? You will have to give up jada-rasa entirely; you will have to renounce. But, how can you do so? When the desire for spontaneous love and affection for Krsna arises in you, you will be able to do so.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has sung:
vraja-kori vasa, raganuga hoiya
Vraje-kori vasa—always reside in Vraja-mandala. Tisthan vraje tad anuragi-janunugami, staying under the guidance of the followers of Krsna, never come out of Vraja-mandala for even a single moment.
The Pandavas said, “We will follow in the footsteps of the tad anuragi Vrajavasis-the manjaris and the Vraja-devis. Our mundane natures will then completely dry and we will never go out of Vraja. We will stand still.”
Humans have two legs to move around, but the trees are bound to the ground by their roots. Their roots are fixed to the ground beneath them. How can they move around? When they try to move from their position, they crash to the ground or are uprooted. They are not bound by mere roots, they are shackled to the ground and told, “Don’t go here and there like animals.”
But when an animal like a donkey is told as such, it will bray in frustration. The trees however, will make no such complaints. The Pandavas went to the bank of Syama-kunda and became trees. The mercy of the Vraja-devis is present in a distinct form on the banks of Radha-kunda and Syama-kunda. They never left Radha-kunda and Syama-kunda for a moment. Situated there, they chanted the Vraja-devis’ names.
Hence, how glorious Ekadasi is! Ekadasi-devi bestows Vraja-bhakti-rasa. Hence, the Pandavas received the grace of the Vrajavasis by the mercy of Ekadasi-devi.
A Bengali poet has written in his poem of how a person can never be content. Despite accruing much wealth, he will desire more. Similarly, the Vraja-devis think, “How can our services for Krsna increase? How can we collect His transcendental qualities?” They always follow Ekadasi and the rules and regulations of Bhakti.
A year has a month consisting of only vratas. Twenty four Ekadasis and the appearance days of the Lord like Janmastami, Rama-navami, Nrsinga Jayanti, Vamana Dvadasi, and Varaha Dvadasi constitute an entire month of vratas.
Hence, although one may take jada-rasa for eleven months, by properly following Ekadasi and the appearance days of the Lord, he will follow an entire month of vratas. Then God will run behind you, and say, “What can I give you?” While following the vratas, you must not take jada-rasa. You need only follow in the footsteps of the Vrajavasis; always remain under their guidance. Then the flow of rasa will enter your heart. Tad-anuragi-jananugami, follow in the footsteps of the anuragis. Then you will properly observe the vratas.
Otherwise, you will think, “This Nirjala Ekadasi is so hard to follow!” Then you will greatly suffer and struggle. Losing your composure, you will constantly think, “When will this day finish? How long till’s its morning?” But, by renouncing on one side, you will gain aprakrta-rasa on the other side. This flow will soon enliven you and conquer your heart. As a result, you will never be tired and disturbed. Therefore, the prominence of kirtana-rasa is unparalleled. Start drinking this kirtana-rasa today, on the appearance day of Ekadasi-devi. There was a sadhu in Devananda Gaudiya Math who would engage in kirtana for the complete day.
During the night, he would tell the brahmacaris, “Anyone who doesn’t sleep during the night of Ekadasi and staying awake, performs kirtana for the entire night will be duly rewarded. I will give him 200 grams of chenna or one kilo of rasagullas in the morning. Or else, I will give him one pot of sweet yoghurt. Or better yet, I will give him many mangoes, peanuts, cashew-nuts, and all the savouries he desires.”
Becoming greedy, the brahmacaris would go to the bank of the Ganga, and engage in kirtana for the complete night. Despite the jivas being greedy, the sadhus never cheat them.
Being the jivas’ eternal well-wishes, the sadhus think, “How can the hearts of the jivas be devoid of all material tastes? How can bhakti-rasa enter their hearts?”
Hence, by following this Pandava Nirjala Ekadasi, you will be connected to that flow of bhakti-rasa. By the mercy of Krsna, the Pandavas received Vrajanuraga—relationship with the Vrajavasis. With what intention do we follow this vrata of Ekadasi? We follow this vrata to be eternally related and connected to Guru-pada-padma and his followers. Otherwise, there are many cheaters who are ready to trick and steal us. There are many monkeys, baboons, chimpanzees, and brahma-raksasas in the guise of human-beings who are eager to steal us. Where are they found? They are found on Facebook. They will destroy your lives if you are not careful in avoiding them.
Therefore, Krsna says, “Those who follow Ekadasi will be especially favored by Me. I will give them Vraja-bhakti-rasa and a relationship with the Vrajavasis.”
Hence, the Pandavas were surprised by what they received from Krsna. They thought, “What has Krsna given us?”
Bhimasena said, “I am not hungry anymore. Previously, I would become angry on becoming hungry. But now, my anger fire, hunger fire, thirst fire, desire fire, lusty fire, and all kinds of fires have been removed. I am no longer affected by any problems.”
When bhakti-rasa enters your heart, the whole environment will be favourable to you. But, if you have no desire for bhakti-rasa and have no relationship with the Vrajavasis, then you will try to make relationships with your fellow conditioned souls. You will also inadvertedly build on your relationship with the body, mind, and senses. You would rather like animals like pigs, dogs, cats, and rats, than liking bhakti-rasa. Then you will never be clean and strong.
Our Guruvarga would follow Ekadasi very strongly. They wouldn’t speak one word to anyone.
Krsnot-kirtana-gana-nartana-parau premamrtambho-nidhi—by tasting premamrta, you will forsake jada-amrta. Why do you talk to and address people? Only for the purpose of jada-amrta, do you do so.
Thus, one will tell his lover, “Why are you not talking with me? Are you angry and disturbed with me? Please forgive me.”
Then, one starts engaging in politics and hurling insults at others. One will cheat others; but he will not stop his nonsense there. He will conspire against others and file criminal cases against them. But the Guruvarga tells us to stop these devious means of hurting others. Instead, they tell us to renounce everything and attain liberation.
So today, on this day of Nirjala Ekadasi, a sincere follower will find himself greatly empowered by Ekadasi-devi. But how will you be empowered if you are always suffering?
On the day of Ekadasi, you may think, “I am continuously suffering. There are many mice in my stomach. There are many demons also. This machine of a body gives great pain to me; it wouldn’t work on other days, but today, it is working and making me very tired. If I could only give the body some water!”
But, after giving water, you will think, “I should give the body some ether also. A little fire and air wouldn’t make a big difference either.”
You must be strong. Then you will not go the wrong way. Only the Vrajanuragis follow Mahaprabhu’s movement, Krsna’s movement. They wish to get benefited. Otherwise, by following Ekadasi, what is gained? Many people question, “Why should Ekadasi be followed?”
In reply to their question, Krsna says, “Look at the Dandakaranya Rsis’ tapa. They start their austerities from the early morning. They chant, ‘Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya Dhimahi, Om Namo Narayanaya Namah. Om Visvaksenaya Namah. Om Sadhyaya Namah.’ Chanting these mantras, they offer many oblations of ghee into the fire.”
The sages would also chant:
krsnaya govindaya hare paratmatmane
pranata klesa-nasaya govindaya namo namah
Some of the sages would also start the recital of Srimad Bhagavatham and Srimad Bhagavad Gita.
mamakah pandavas caiva
kim akurvata sanjaya
drstva tu pandavanikam
vyudham duryodhanas tada
raja vacanam abravit
acarya mahatim camum
tava sisyena dhimata
The sages would recite the scriptures completely. When Krsna showed this sight to the Pandavas, they were greatly surprised. They remarked, “How wonderful this program is.”
Everyone thinks, “We need only silently sit or sleep on the day of Ekadasi. Instead of eating grains we should eat almonds and cashews. We can also drink water and many kinds of juices. We only need to do this; this is enough.”
But, Krsna says, “No. You must engage all your senses in bhakti.”
sevanam bhaktir ucyate
You must engage all your senses, hrsik, in the service of the master of the senses, Hrsikesa. Then it is called Bhakti-yoga. Otherwise, it is bhoga-yoga. This form of cheating is not good. On this day of Ekadasi, you must decorate the temple with many flowers. You must make 108 preparations and offer bhoga. All of you must engage yourselves in dance and kirtana. You must also read and explain the Bhagavad Gita. Instead of taking part in cricket and other games, you must engage yourselves in these services. By losing one night’s sleep, you become very unhappy. But by playing games and watching movies the whole night, you will not bat an eyelid. You will never be tired and disturbed. But, if on the day of Ekadasi you are told to not sleep, you will say, “I have a head-ache coupled with many body-aches.” Although you complain of pain, you will have no problems seeing movies and serials all night long.
When Krsna revealed the glories of Ekadasi-devi to the Pandavas, they became very serious in following her appearance day. After they sincerely followed Ekadasi, Krsna appeared before them and said, “Now it is possible for all of you to attain Vrajavasa, residence in Vraja-mandala. Otherwise, it is not possible to attain Vrajavasa without having a relationship with the Vrajavasis.”
Therefore, on Nirjala Ekadasi a strong order was given by Krsna to the Pandavas. He told them, “If all of you want Ujjvala-rasa and no other form of rasa, then you must promise to follow Ekadasi.”
The Pandavas duly promised to follow Ekadasi. Then Krsna arranged a nice program of bhakti for the Pandavas for the complete day and night. The Pandavas were greatly happy and surprised by what they saw. Their happiness continued well into the morning of the next day.
Krsna then quickly returned to Vrndavan. He told Uddhava, “O Saumyam, you must also go to Vrndavan.” Hence, Uddhava was protected. Or else, he could not be protected by any other way. Except for Bhakti-devi, Ekadasi-devi, nobody can protect us. Pure devotion is our aim and object and the desire of Guru-pada-padma.
Now, we must do arcana and abhiseka. Everyone must engage in kirtana throughout the day.
At least on this day, try to be serious and follow bhakti. Then you will get incalculable benefit. Otherwise, you will end up in unholy places.
Gaura Premanande! Hari Haribol!
[CC-by-NDNC Bhakta Bandhav]