Book excerpts Pinnacle of Devotion No One But Kṛṣṇa 

No One But Kṛṣṇa 

Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī explains that, within His heart, Śrī Kṛṣṇa considered again coming to this world to distribute a sprinkle of unnatojjvala-rasa. He thought, “The yuga-dharma can be established by My plenary portions, the yuga-avatāras. However, this unnatojjvala-rasa has not been given since the last day of Brahmā, when I previously came as Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.”

All yuga-avatāras come from Śrī Advaita Ācārya, or Mahā-Viṣṇu. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and His second body is Baladeva Prabhu. The only difference between Him and Baladeva is Their bodily color. Baladeva Prabhu expands further as Mūla-saṅkarṣaṇa in Dvārakā, and He still further expands as Mahā-saṅkarṣaṇa in Vaikuṇṭha. From Mahā-saṅkarṣaṇa comes Kāraṇodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, and from Kāraṇodakaśāyī Viṣṇu comes Mahā-Viṣṇu Advaita Ācārya. From one aṁśa (plenary portion, or limb) comes another, then another, then another, and so on.

Mahā-Viṣṇu (Advaita Ācārya) is in charge of establishing the yuga-dharma, which, in Kali-yuga, is nāma-saṅkīrtana. Although Advaita Ācārya is the ‘head of this department,’ Śrī Kṛṣṇa was thinking that besides Himself, no one can establish vraja-prema.

Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī writes:

caturtha ślokera artha ei kaila sāra
prema-nāma pracārite ei avatāra
satya ei hetu, kintu eho bahiraṅga
āra eka hetu, śuna, āche antaraṅga

(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛtaĀdi-līlā 4.5-6)

I have given the essential meaning of the fourth verse: this incarnation descends to propagate the chanting of the holy name and spread love of God. Although this is true, this is the external reason for the Lord’s incarnation. Please hear one other reason – the confidential reason – for the Supreme Lord’s appearance.

Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī is requesting us to establish the aim of our chanting and meditation. First we have to determine the main objective of our sādhana and bhajana, and then we can fix our minds on that goal. Why did we decide to take shelter of the lotus feet of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and our gurudeva? If we have determined that our goal is vraja-bhāva, service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa like that of the gopīs and others in Vraja, we will seek the shelter of an exalted, self-realized guru. If our goal is not clear, and if we also want money, name and fame, and material fortune, then we will seek a guru with a mixed conception of spiritual life and we will be cheated. Such a guru may say, “If you take initiation from me, your worldly desires will all be fulfilled very easily, and by the potency of the mantra I am giving you, you will make money and become famous.” In this way he will cheat us, as he himself has been cheated, and both the guru and disciple will go to hell.

Those who want vraja-prema and who have impressions on their hearts from previous lives of association with a pure Vaiṣṇava, will be able to consider and properly decide where to accept shelter.

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu went to Gayā and associated with Śrī Īśvara Purī. Having surrendered everything – His mind, heart, and body – at His gurudeva’s lotus feet, He declared that His life was now successful. He received the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra and gopāla-mantra from Śrī Īśvara Purī, and by chanting these mantras He saw a very beautiful boy playing on a flute. This boy had a three-fold bending form, a peacock feather in His hair, three lines on His abdomen and neck, and He spoke in a very sweet voice. Maddened with love, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu ran after that naughty boy, who went into a kuñja (secluded grove) and disappeared. In deep separation Caitanya Mahāprabhu fell to the ground, rolling about and crying, “O Kṛṣṇa, where are You? Where are You?”

By His own actions, Mahāprabhu established the objective of our life. With this elevated goal in mind, we can consider who will be most helpful in our attainment of that goal. Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī has explained that one who is ignorant of his goal will be deprived of the most elevated association.

In the fourth verse of Ādi-līlā, beginning anarpita-carīṁ cirat, Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī established that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu came to bestow upon the conditioned souls unnatojjvala-rasa, the beauty of the gopīs’ full love and affection for Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. How can this prema, which is extremely rare in millions of universes, be attained by us? When, by chanting Kṛṣṇa’s names, will we fall down on the earth and roll about, tears streaming from our eyes and our hair standing on end? How will it ever happen?

Śrī Kṛṣṇa descended as Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu in order to fulfill the three desires to taste Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s love for Him. We must concentrate on choosing our objective, and then we can proceed in fulfilling it. How can we do this? It is not accomplished by chanting merely one or two rounds of Kṛṣṇa’s holy names each day, nor is it accomplished by performing arcana of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, Gaura Nityānanda Prabhu, Jagannātha, Baladeva, Subhadrā, śālagrāma-śilā, Nṛsiṁhadeva Bhagavān, Rāmacandra, Lakṣmaṇa, Sītā, and others at the same time on one altar. In the beginning, when our śraddhā1 is like a very small sprout, we may have this impression.

We think and act according to the type of association we have. Although in the beginning we are not able to properly follow a mahā-bhāgavata, or even a madhyama-adhikārī, gradually, by his association we will be able to completely follow him. Many of you have traveled thousands of miles, from America, Canada, England, and other places, to hear how to become clear about the objective of life and the means to attain it. Your hearts must have had some impressions (saṁskāras) from past lives and this life. These discussions are not accessible for those who have no such impressions.

Loving Kṛṣṇa Like the Vrajavāsīs

Now I shall give the essence of what Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja wanted to give. Later, when we have more time, I will explain more elaborately how to attain our highest goal: what rules and regulations to follow, and what our practices should be. I will explain Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī’s Śrī UpadeśāmṛtaManaḥ-śikṣā of Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī, and Śikṣāṣṭakam of Caitanya Mahāprabhu, among others. I will begin with ABCD: from śraddhā, to niṣṭhā, to ruciāsaktibhāvaprema and then higher.

Even if we do not have a spontaneous desire to serve Kṛṣṇa in the mood of the Vrajavāsīs, we can at least know from śastrā that Kṛṣṇa’s three-fold bending form is very beautiful. Although He is Yaśodā-maiyā’s small son, He is the God of gods, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Even Brahmā and Śaṅkara cannot fully understand His identity.

Brahmā has four heads, Śaṅkara has five heads, and Saṅkarṣaṇa and Sahasraśīrṣā Viṣṇu have unlimited mouths and heads. But even they cannot fully glorify baby Kṛṣṇa, who is sucking on the breast of Yaśodā. In the form of a baby, when Śrī Kṛṣṇa lies down He is so weak and helpless that He cannot roll over; yet at the same time He is so powerful that He supports the entire conscious and unconscious universe.

Loving Śrī Kṛṣṇa as the gopīs and Vrajavāsīs love Him is our ultimate goal. With this in mind, we read the books of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī, and Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja in order to understand how that goal can be easily attained.

As I mentioned earlier, Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī states that Caitanya Mahāprabhu came to distribute the holy name with prema. This is the explanation of the fourth verse. Nāma-saṅkīrtana alone can be established by Mahā-Viṣṇu, but He cannot give vraja-prema. When Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu appeared in this world, He not only taught the yuga-dharma, but He gave that very rare prema that no one else can give. He gave both the holy name and prema.

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu gave prema through the yuga-dharma, which in this age is chanting the Lord’s name. If the yuga-dharma had been arcana (Deity worship), then He would have given prema through arcana; and if it was meditation, then He would have given it through meditation. In this way Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu established the yuga-dharma, and He asserted that there is no need at this time for a separate yuga-avatāra to come and establish it: “I Myself will establish it, and at the same time I will give that special prema that no yuga-avatāra can give.” He called Nārāyaṇa, Mahā-Viṣṇu, Mūla-Saṅkarṣaṇa, Mahā-Saṅkarṣaṇa, Kāraṇodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, Ananta Śeṣa, and all His other expansions, and They all combined in His body.

It was not Śrī Kṛṣṇa who killed Kaṁsa and Pūtanā; rather it was Mahā-Viṣṇu, who was within Kṛṣṇa’s body. Although we usually hear that it was Kṛṣṇa, it is not His duty to establish religion; it is the duty of Mahā-Viṣṇu. Because Kṛṣṇa’s expansions are combined in His body, Their separate duties may appear to be performed by Him.

His actual personal pastimes are in Vṛndāvana, tasting the dāsya-, sakhyā-, vātsalya-, and mādhurya-rasa of Vraja. In the form of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, who is Kṛṣṇa Himself covered by the beauty and mood of Śrīmatī Rādhikā, Kṛṣṇa tastes the happiness Śrīmatī Rādhikā receives from serving Him.

He tells Himself, “I am so beautiful, but when I see the beauty of Rādhikā I become controlled by Her. I am so lovely, but Śrīmatī Rādhikā is even lovelier. I have so much prema, but Rādhikā’s prema is much greater. She is therefore My prema-guru. At the same time, when I consider deeply, I see that My form has a special quality that drives Her mad. What is that quality?”

Kṛṣṇa cannot fully understand and taste His own quality without experiencing Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s sentiments. Therefore, He must come as Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu to appreciate this, and give a sprinkle of that appreciation to others. As Caitanya Mahāprabhu, He can teach nāma and give this special prema.

svayaṁ-bhagavānera karma nahe bhāra-haraṇa
sthiti-kartā viṣṇu karena jagat-pālana

(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛtaĀdi-līlā 4.8)

To take away this burden, however, is not the work of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The maintainer, Lord Viṣṇu, is the one who protects the universe.

Svayaṁ Bhagavān, the original Supreme Personality of God-head, is Kṛṣṇa. Nārāyaṇa, Rāma, Dvārakādhīśa, Goloka-pati, Nṛsiṁha, and all of the incarnations of Kṛṣṇa are Bhagavān, but only Kṛṣṇa is Svayaṁ Bhagavān. Bhāra-haraṇa in the above-mentioned verse means ‘to take away the burden of the Earth,’ which is not the duty of Kṛṣṇa. It is the duty of Mahā-Viṣṇu, or Advaita Ācārya.

What is Kṛṣṇa’s duty? What is His personal speciality?

prema-rasa-niryāsa karite āsvādana
rāga-mārga bhakti loke karite pracāraṇa
rasika-śekhara kṛṣṇa parama-karuṇa
ei dui hetu haite icchāra udgama

(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛtaĀdi-līlā 4.15-16)

The Lord’s desire to appear was born from two reasons: He wanted to taste the sweet essence of the mellows of love of God, and He wanted to propagate devotional service in the world on the platform of spontaneous attraction. Thus He is known as supremely jubilant and as the most merciful of all.

Rāga-mārga bhakti loke karite pracāraṇa is a very important line, and it is the essence of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta. This is particularly explained in Rāyā Rāmānanda saṁvāda (the discussion between Mahāprabhu and Rāya Rāmānanda), Svarūpa Dāmodara explains it at the Ratha-yātrā festival, and some aspects are also explained in the dialogues Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu had separately with Rūpa Gosvāmī and Sanātana Gosvāmī. This was the main objective of their discussions.

Rāga-mārga-bhakti is different from vaidhī-bhakti. When we read Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, especially the histories of Ajāmila, Vṛtrāsura, and Kapila and Devahūti, we become fearful that we will go to hell if we do not serve Bhagavān.

One may be a faithful servant of one’s father, mother, husband, and children, and one may perform pious activities. Nowadays, to serve the motherland is given high regard, and there are examples of this in every country. In India, Bhagat Singh, Gandhi, and others gave their lives for this purpose, and this principle is true in America and England and other countries as well. However, if we serve our country’s people, but not Kṛṣṇa, our original father, we will go to hell. Knowing this, we must certainly serve Kṛṣṇa. If a tendency to serve Kṛṣṇa, Viṣṇu, Rāma, and other incarnations is motivated by a fear of suffering, the practice of such service is called vaidhī-bhakti.

On the other hand, by hearing pastimes of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa from a pure devotee, or by reading in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛtaabout the service of the gopīs and Vrajavāsīs, if one develops a tendency or greed to serve Kṛṣṇa as they do, this is rāgānuga-bhakti.

While Śrī Kṛṣṇa sucks the breast of Yaśodā-maiyā, she puts Him on the ground. He then rolls around on the earth crying, “Mother, Mother! I want to sit on your lap!” But Yaśodā-maiyā threatens Him, saying, “Naughty boy, at this very little age You steal butter and roll on the earth, making Your body and cloth dirty. I will never take You on my lap.”

While Nārada Muni was visiting Vraja, he witnessed this pastime and thought, “Oh, Yaśodā-maiyā is such a high-class Vaiṣṇavī. What pious activities and rigorous austerities did she perform in her previous lives to have Kṛṣṇa Himself, the God of gods, as her son? Did she bathe in many pure tīrthas (holy places) and give great quantities of wealth in charity? Kṛṣṇa is stting on her lap and she is chastising Him. I can never be as elevated as her.”

Yaśodā-maiyā noticed Nārada Muni standing nearby, so she took her son and placed Him at Nārada’s lotus feet. Nārada was astonished and wondered what to do. “If I don’t give my foot-dust to Him,” Nārada thought, “it will be clear that He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This will disturb His human-like pastimes and make Him very angry with me.”

Yaśodā then took Nārada Muni’s foot-dust, first sprinkling it over her own body and then on Kṛṣṇa’s head and body. Nārada Muni was silent. He could not stop her, because he did not want to make Kṛṣṇa angry.

On the other hand, Yaśodā does not mind if Kṛṣṇa is angry and cries. She threatens to give Kṛṣṇa a slap if He continues to cry bitterly. She says, “Oh, You are not becoming quiet? I will give You a slap.” She then lovingly slaps Him and again says, “Be quiet.” Who else could do this?

When one hears pastimes of such intimacy as this, and a desire arises in one’s heart for the opportunity to serve Kṛṣṇa as a mother, this is called rāgānuga-bhakti in vātsalya-bhāva.

Another devotee may hear the pastimes describing how Śrī Kṛṣṇa obeys the gopīs and places His head at their lotus feet, especially at the lotus feet of Śrīmatī Rādhikā, and says, “Please forgive Me,” Or “I will not be able to repay You in millions of births.” The devotee will then wonder about the glories of the gopīs and desire to become their foot-dust. This means desiring to become completely sold-out to their services as the fully dedicated maidservant of Rādhikā. This is rāgānuga-bhakti in mādhurya-bhāva.

Uddhava said:

āsām aho caraṇa-reṇu-juṣām ahaṁ syāṁ
vrndāvane kim api gulma-latauṣadhīnām
yā dustyajaṁ svajanam ārya-pathaṁ ca hitvā
bhejur mukunda-padavīṁ śrutibhir vimṛgyām

(Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 10. 47. 61)

The gopīs of Vṛndāvana have given up the association of their husbands, sons, and other family members, who are very difficult to give up; and they have forsaken the path of chastity to take shelter of the lotus feet of Mukunda, Kṛṣṇa, which one should search for by Vedic knowledge. Oh, let me be fortunate enough to be one of the bushes, creepers, or herbs in Vṛndāvana, because the gopīs trample them and bless them with the dust of their lotus feet.

In Vṛndāvana, Uddhava went to the ‘school’ of the gopīs, where he learned about the highest love and affection for Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Sometimes the gopīs chastised Kṛṣṇa, calling Him ‘cunning’ and ‘cheater,’ and other times declaring, “We should not mention His name. We want to forget Him. He is so ungrateful. How could He forget His mother Yaśodā, His father Nanda, and His friends like Subala and Śrīdāma? How could He forget Girirāja Govardhana and Yamunā-devī, where He played for several years during His boyhood? How could He forget us, and especially, how could He forget Śrīmatī Rādhikā?”

Hearing the gopīs’ words, Uddhava became dumb-founded like a wooden stick and prayed, “I want to be bathed in the dust of the gopīs‘ lotus feet. I should stay in Vṛndāvana for a long time and perform so many austerities that I will become qualified for this.” For the fulfillment of this prayer, waiting for that mercy, Uddhava is presently at Uddhava-kuṇḍa near Kusuma-sarovara in Vṛndāvana.

How glorious is the gopīs’ service to Kṛṣṇa! Their service should be our ultimate goal, and we should consider how to attain it. If we are prepared to do anything to get it, that greed is called rāgānuga-bhakti.

Persons practicing rāgānuga are very rare. If we are only able to do vaidhī-bhakti, we should continue to do so. If by some good fortune we attain the association of a rasika Vaiṣṇava, a self-realized devotee who is situated in his relationship with Kṛṣṇa – such as Śukadeva Gosvāmī, Nārada Muni, Rūpa Gosvāmī, Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī, or Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and his line of disciplic descendants – a very little greed for this will awaken within our hearts, and then we may become qualified.

[The following discourse was given in Singapor, March 7, 1997, just after Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja left Australia, on route to Navadvīpa]


1 Śraddhā means initial faith; faith in the statements of guru, sādhu, and scriptures. Śraddhā is awakened when one has accumulated devotional pious activities over many births, or by the association and mercy of a transcendental person who has dedicated his life to the service of Lord Kṛṣṇa. It is the first stage in the development of the creeper of devotion.

[CC-by-ND GVP]

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