Today is Rādhāṣṭamī, the birthday of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī. To speak on the glories of this occasion and on rādhā-tattva is beyond my ability. I do not have the realization or knowledge to do this. However, I remember Śrīla Guru-pāda-padma and the care and nourishment that he gave me and is still giving me today. The heart melts remembering his sneha-rasa, affectionate care and love. May whatever I have heard from his lotus lips always be manifest in my heart. May I always be absorbed in remembrance of him and never go an inch away from him. This is my prayer at his lotus feet.
Śrīla Gurudeva would always help his followers with his sneha-rasa. Indeed so many living entities were nourished by his sneha-rasa and engaged in Kṛṣṇa’s service through this. Without this sneha-rasa, no one would be able to take shelter of Bhagavān and serve Him. No one would be able to cross māyā and enter the spiritual world and the service Śrīmatī Rādhārānī and Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Therefore I am remembering and praying to Śrīla Gurudeva who by his sneha-rasa always engages us in Bhagavān’s service.
Just now, we had the good fortune to hear the tattva and vicāra about Śrīmatī Rādhārānī. It is very rare to find people that hear and speak about rādhā-tattva in this world. People speak about the material world and how to enjoy within it and they glorify mundane men and women who are nothing but cheaters. Camatkāra ko namaskāra—people bow to scintillating objects that fascinate their senses. But it is very difficult to find someone who will give us taste for bhajana, lead us to the spiritual world and engage us in eternal loving service.
False gurus can capture the hearts of followers for some days; a young girl can attract a boy for a while; and a mother can keep a child in her lap until he grows—none of this will last long. The demigods may give us something—this is also temporary. People think they can find everlasting happiness by following so many self-proclaimed avatāras and people that pose as enlightened teachers. This is impossible.
It is very rare to find someone who can lead us to aprākṛta-tattva and the Supreme Lord. It is very rare to find someone who can show us the method by which we can worship the Supreme Lord, make Him our own, and even control Him. No one of this world can teach this process. It is very rare to find someone who can bring us back to God, back to home. Such a personality must be from that realm himself. We must go to the lotus feet of Bhagavān. That is our place. We do not want to make Bhagavān our servant, or engage Him in helping us. We want only to serve as dāsānudāsa. Who will help us in this path?
Once, Pārvatī-devī asked Śiva Ṭhākura, “O Prabhu, how is it that you experience such peace of mind? You are always blissful and content. You do not neglect or show contempt to anyone. You have conflict with no one and you need nothing. What rasa are you tasting that carries you above this world? Who do you worship? Who has taught you the process to become like this? I am always with you, but you have never asked me for water to drink. You never ask me for cloth and you never say, ‘I am tired, please massage my feet.’ You never ask for anything to eat. What rasa are you drinking? What is it you have? Who has given it to you? Please tell me everything. You are my husband, my Lord, my Guru. You are everything to me. Through strong practice and worship I have attained you; now please tell me the practice you follow to be completely peaceful, so I may be absorbed in the same rasa that you are relishing.”
Śiva Ṭhākura said:
viṣṇor ārādhanaṁ param
tasmāt parataraṁ devi
“The highest worship is that of Viṣṇu. This is propounded by śāstra and the learned sages and is generally understood. But, O devī, I will tell you a great secret. There is someone whose worship is higher than that of Viṣṇu’s. Tadīyānāṁ samarcanam—if a person worships Viṣṇu’s tadīya, His nearest and dearest, than that worship is the highest.”
Tad refers to tad-vastu, the supreme subject, Kṛṣṇa, and tadīya means those who Kṛṣṇa feels to be His very own beloved devotees. One who is tadīya feels Kṛṣṇa is his or her madīya, dearmost friend and beloved. Tadīya is the mood, “I am Yours,” and madīya is the mood, “You are mine.” Those who are offered or those objects offered in Kṛṣṇa’s service are tadīya. One may possess something but if it is not one’s own property then giving it is not called charity. It is like a bribe. If I have five rupees and I give one rupee to someone as a donation, then I see that person as a beggar or an impoverished person. In a condescending manner, I gave this money to someone, but I did not accept him as my own, nor did I offer myself to him. If I did not give myself to another then I am not tadīya. Therefore first you must give yourself to Kṛṣṇa; then you can become His tadīya. When you become tadīya then you will become madīya. And you can say, “Tum to mera ho—You are mine.”
This mood is only in Vraja-maṇḍala. The Vrajavāsīs do not worship Kṛṣṇa and address Him as Bhagavān. When they speak with Him they say things like, “Merā Gopāla,” and, “Tu merā hai.” They do not perform His ārati. They do not sit Him down, wash His feet, and drink His caraṇāmṛta. On Kṛṣṇa’s birthday Yaśoda-mātā calls the brāhmaṇas and they bathe Him with cow dung, cow urine, milk, yogurt and ghee. They do this so that He will be blessed with auspiciousness and a long life. They chant protective mantras and give Him rakṣa-kavacas to guard His body. They pierce His ears and take hair from the tail of a cow and make a special mālā for Him to wear around His neck to ward off evil spirits. Why do they do this? They have completely offered themselves to Kṛṣṇa. They are samārpitātmā. Therefore they have mamatā, a possessive mood toward Him, and can say, “You are mine.” Others worship Him, calling Him the Lord of Lords and glorifying Him with verses like—
bhavāya nas tvaṁ bhava viśva-bhāvana
tvaṁ eva mātātha suhṛt-patiḥ pitā
tvaṁ sad-gurur naḥ paramaṁ ca daivataṁ
yasyānuvṛttyā kṛtino babhūvima
[O creator of the universe, You are our mother, well-wisher, Lord, father, spiritual master and worshipable Deity. By following in Your footsteps we have become successful in every respect. We pray, therefore, that You continue to bless us with Your mercy.]
They may say things like this. They may even say, “I am Yours,” but they cannot say, “You are mine.” They do not have this deep mamatā, intense possessive love.
Śrīla Gurudeva said, “Look, where can this mood come from? You must wander in the galīs of Vraja and pray as Uddhavajī—
Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 10.47.63
[I offer my repeated respects to the dust from the feet of the ladies of Nanda Mahārāja’s cowherd village. When these gopīs loudly chant the glories of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the vibration purifies the three worlds. I pray for one particle of the dust from their feet to grace itself on my head.”]
Lord Brahmā, our ādi-guru, glorifies and yearns to attain the footdust of the gopīs:
śaṣṭi-varśa-sahasrāṇi mayā taptaṁ tapaḥ purā
tathāpi na mayā prāptās tāsāṁ vai pāda-reṇavaḥ
nāhaṁ śivaśca śeṣaśca śrīśca tābhiḥ samāḥ kvacit
[Śrī Brahmā says to Bhṛgu and the other ṛṣis: Although I performed severe austerities for sixty thousand years to attain the dust from the vraja-gopīs’ lotus feet, I was unable to attain it. You should clearly understand that I (Brahmā), Śaṅkara, Śeṣa, and Lakṣmī are not equal to the vraja-gopīs.]
We should try to follow and understand this instruction our ādi-guru has given us. He prayed and did austerity to attain the footdust of the gopīs. He said, “Go to the galīs of Vraja and take the dust on your head. Strive to receive just one particle of dust from that dhāma. Parabrahma, Parameśvara, the Supreme Lord Himself runs behind the cows day and night only to anoint Himself in the dust of Vraja.
Now I will come to our main subject. Śrīla Gurudeva said, “If you want to learn about the highest rasa and form of upāsanā saturated with this rasa, you must go to Vraja. You can learn about this rasa-upāsana there.”
In the construction of a house there are many materials such as sand and bricks needed to build. There is also the need of workers and an architect or engineer. However, even if all these things are present, without water you cannot make the building. Rasa, or water, is so powerful that it can join all the bricks, cement, sand and everything to make a multi-level building. If there is no rasa, nothing can be built. Without rasa, everything will separate and crumble. Brahmā could not create the universe by himself. In our sampradāya we accept śakti-pariṇāma-vāda. Through transformation of śakti, Kṛṣṇa’s beloved potency, Śrīmatī Rādhārānī, all things are manifest.
Śrīmatī Rādhārānī is known as Urjeśvarī. She manifests and is the embodiment of all potencies. Her dear disciple is Surya-devatā, the Sun-god. He is always worshiping Śrīmatī Rādhārānī, and he receives blessings and potency from Her, which he distributes to the world. Being pleased with him, Śrīmatī Rādhārānī goes to Surya-kuṇḍa to gives darśana to the Sun-god.
On the pretense of performing sūrya-pūjā, Śrīmatī Rādhārānī goes to Surya-kuṇḍa. In reality She goes to meet Kṛṣṇa and also to give blessings to Her disciple, the Sun.
Śāstra describes that once, Śaunaka Ṛṣi asked Sūta Gosvāmī, “Whose worship is topmost?”
Sūta Gosvāmī replied, “Amongst all objects of worship, worship of Kṛṣṇa is the highest, but beyond even worship of Kṛṣṇa, worship of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī is supreme. One time, Nārada went to Kṛṣṇa, and asked, ‘O Bhagavān, I heard of many kinds of vratas from You; now please describe something about the birthday of Rādhārānī to me.’
“Kṛṣṇa told Devarṣi Nārada, ‘You are My dear devotee, therefore I will speak this secret to you. One time, the Sun-god, who always wanders throughout the three worlds giving light, began strong austerities in a cave of the Mandarācala Mountain. The universe was cast in darkness and all living beings trembled in terror. Indra came with the demigods and pleaded to Bhagavān to solve the troubles of the world.
“Kṛṣṇa was pleased and said, ‘Do not worry, I will arrange a solution.’ Kṛṣṇa came and gave darśana to Sūrya. Sūrya felt immense bliss and prayed to the Lord. He said, ‘O Śrī Hari, my birth and austerities are now successful by receiving Your darśana. Brahmā, Viṣṇu, and Maheśa always meditate on You, but Your darśana is extremely rare, even to them. Still, You have given darśana to Me. I am supremely fortunate.’
“Kṛṣṇa said to Sūrya, ‘O Divikara, you are My dear devotee. Ask for a boon.’
“Sūrya prayed, ‘Please bestow upon me a daughter endowed with all good qualities. May She always be controlled by You, and may You always be controlled by Her love. I have no other desire.’
“Kṛṣṇa said, ‘Tathāstu, so be it. I am controlled by Rādhārānī. No other can control Me. I will take birth in Nanda-bhavana in Gokula Vṛndāvana and You shall come as Vṛṣabhānu in Varsānā. My beloved Rādhārānī will then appear as your daughter in Rāval.’”
“Śrī Hari thus came to Nanda Mahārāja’s home, and Sūrya-deva came to Varsānā as Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja. In the month of Bhādra, on śukla-pakṣa, aṣṭamī tithi, viśākhā-nakṣatra, Śrīmatī Rādhārānī appeared in this world.
“‘Kṛṣṇa said to Nārada Ṛṣi, ‘On this day, one worships Śrīmātī Rādhārānī by offering one’s self in Her service and using all paraphernalia to honor and worship Her. This vrata is superior to all others.’ Hearing this from Kṛṣṇa, Nārada Ṛṣi preached the glories of performing a vrata for Rādhārānī on Her birthday.”
The Sun-god appeared as Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja and further performed strong austerities to receive Śrīmatī Rādhārānī as his daughter. We thus see the importance of strong sādhana to achieve our goal.
Immediately after Kṛṣṇa was born to Nanda Mahārāja and Yaśodā-mātā, news spread throughout Vraja and the Vrajavāsīs sang, “Nanda ke ānanda bhayo, jaya kanhaiya-lāla kī!” Everyone was overwhelmed with bliss and submerged by a shower of rasa.
Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja and Nanda Mahārāja have strong friendship. Their affection for each other is so great. When Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja first saw baby Kṛṣṇa, he was captivated by His beauty. One desires to see nothing else having seen that Śyāmasundara. He felt, “Nanda-nandana has come. How can I please Him? Is there a way that I can give Him happiness and arrange for His service? What is the best way that I can show Him my affection? What gift can I give Him?” Day and night, Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja was thinking like this.
Nanda Mahārāja and Yaśodā Mātā live only to give pleasure to Kṛṣṇa. This sentiment is also in the heart of Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja. “How can I please Kṛṣṇa?” he was thinking. “Bhagavān Parameśvara has come, but what gift can I give Him?”
Offering one’s self is the highest offering someone can make to the Supreme Lord. This means that all one’s property is also offered. Some people say, “Everything in this house is yours, but the key is mine. I gave you myself but I did not give you the key.” The Vrajavāsīs are not like this.
Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja explained the feelings in his heart to His mother-in law, Mukharā, and asked her, “Mother, what should I do?”
Mukharā said, “Parjanya Ṛṣi worshipped Śivajī and Nanda Mahārāja received Kṛṣṇa by Śivajī’s blessings. Now, you should worship Brahmājī and then you can receive the best gift possible for Kṛṣṇa. In Varsānā, there are Dāna-gaḍa, Māna-gaḍa, Vilāsa-gaḍa and Bhān-gaḍa. I have heard that Brahmājī himself has come there to do austerity and these four peaks are his heads. Ask him what you should do.”
Vṛṣabhānu Maharja went to these four places and did intense austerity. The guru-varga has described that at this time, Brahmājī disclosed a very secret thing unto him. Brahmā said, “In the beginning of creation, Bhagavān Himself gave me a bīja, seed. This gave me the power to create. I have kept this. It is still with me. This is a special mantra. Take this seed, this bīja-mantra, and chant it. All your desires shall be fulfilled.”
As Śrī Guru gives a bīja-mantra, Brahmā gave this bīja-mantra to Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja. In Gahvaravana, there is a very beautiful kuṇḍa, and all tīrthas are present within its water. The tears from Brahmājī’s eyes formed this kuṇḍa. Vṛṣabhānu went there, bathed and then began to chant and meditate on the bīja-mantra. He experienced that there was no need to worry.
Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja went then to Rāval and every morning would perform bhajana on the bank of the Yamunā. All the while he chanted his bīja-mantra that he received from his Guru. That person receives all realization who is always absorbed in meditation on the mantra he receives from Śrī Guru. For doing upāsanā of the mantra received from Guru, there is a specific method. One must chant that mantra during brāhma-muhūrta. This time begins around three in the morning and is reserved for bhajana. If the sādhaka does not rise at this time and instead remains in laziness and sleep, he will never be able to attain perfection. He will become a brahma-rākṣasa. And if one performs bhagavat-upāsanā at this time, chanting the mantra he received from Śrī Guru, he will cross beyond this word and attain Parabrahma. He will be filled with all rasa and good qualities. Thus he will be able to please the Supreme Lord.
In Śrīmad-bhāgavatam, Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmi says:
bhagavān harir īśvaraḥ
yan no vihāya govindaḥ
prīto yām anayad rahaḥ
Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 10.30.28
Different ācāryas have given commentaries on this verse in many ways but we do not pay so much attention to these. What does our Śrīla Gurudeva say? He said, “The meaning of this śloka is that if anyone wants to do arādhana of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī, Hari Himself will teach that person how to do so. Hari Himself teaches how to do arādhana to those who wish to worship His tadīya, very own beloveds. He came to teach how to worship Śrīmatī Rādhārānī. Anayārādhita—Kṛṣṇa says, “You cannot attain Me by your own method of worship. I will teach you how I worship Śrīmatī Rādhārānī. By worshiping Her, you can come to Me.”
If anyone wants to worship Rādhārānī, Hari says, “This is not possible for you to do alone, but I will help you and give you the qualification to do so. I will give you everything. Do not worry.”
Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja stayed in Raval. He would go alone to the Yamunā every morning during brāhma-muhūrta and would stand chanting and meditating in the water for a long time. Why? Gaurakiśora dāsa Bābājī Mahāraja would stand inside the Gaṅgā up to his neck, keeping a basket of Gaṅgā’s sand on his head.
Someone asked him, “Bābājī Mahāraja, why do you do this?”
Bābājī Mahāraja answered, “Given the smallest chance, māyā can enter within one. Therefore I protect myself in the Gaṅgā.”
Similarly, Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja would stand in the water of the Yamunā and chant his mantra received from Brahmā. To achieve an affectionate relationship with the Absolute and reach the stage of mamatā, great sādhana is necessary. To become priyatva, dearly beloved to Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, and to have mamatā for Them is not such an easy thing. The Vrajavāsīs do not think in terms of ‘mine’ and ‘yours’. They offer everything to their priyatama.
In this way, anayārādhita—Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja set out to achieve that which cannot be achieved by any ordinary aradhana, worship. Kṛṣṇa helped him. Yan no vihāya govindaḥ—Govinda became pleased with Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja and was ready to give whatever he desired.
Soon after, Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja saw a beautiful lotus floating on the waters of the Yamunā. In the pericarp of that lotus, Śrīmatī Rādhārānī lay effulgent, sucking Her toe, just like Gopāla does. Seeing this, Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja was captivated. He swam out and carried Her in his arms to the shore. He took Her from the lotus that served as Her bed on the water and gently placed Her in the lotus of his heart.
Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja brought Rādhārānī home where Kīrtikā-devī took Her in her arms and covered Her with her shawl. Just one year before, Śrīdāma had been born to them. Now, her heart melting with vātsalya, or maternal affection, Kīrtikā-devī desired to give Rādhārānī the milk from her breast. But Rādhārānī would not drink. She also would not open Her eyes. Many days passed, but She still did not drink any milk from Her mother.
One day Nārada Ṛṣi came to the home of Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja and Kīrtikā-devī. Vṛṣabhānu Maharja welcomed him and served him befittingly. Nārada Ṛṣi asked, “Please tell me, has a son or daughter been born to you recently?”
“Yes,” Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja said, and he brought Śrīdāma.
Nārada Ṛṣi said, “No, no. I know that he has come more than one year ago. But has a child come more recently?”
Nārada Ṛṣi knows that just as their cannot be separateness between the sun and its rays; fire and its heat; water and its liquidity; honey and its sweetness or musk and its scent—there also cannot be separateness between śaktimāna and śakti, potency and the potent. They are inseparable. Nārada Ṛṣi knew that Kṛṣṇa had come to Vraja, and this could only mean that His śakti was appearing somewhere nearby. He was thus searching throughout Vraja to find Her.
Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja had told Kīrtikā-devī, “Don’t tell anyone about Her. Let no one see Her. Let no one find out that we have a daughter.” They were hiding Rādhārānī in a lovely bedroom. Although She was not eating or drinking anything, She was increasing day by day in health, size, and beauty. Still, Her parents were unable to directly serve Her.
Nārada Ṛṣi was persistent and he begged to be able to see the newborn girl. Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja and Kīrtikā-devī were unable to hide Rādhārānī. They brought Nārada Ṛṣi into the inner room where Rādhārānī was lying in a cradle covered with a silken shawl. They lifted the cloth that was over Her, revealing Her dazzling form. Nārada Ṛṣi was delighted to have Her darśana. He constrained his ecstatic emotions from showing outwardly and began chanting Vedic mantras. He said to Vṛṣabhanu Mahārāja and Kīrtikā-devī, “Bring kastūrī, aguru, kuṁkum, kuśa grass and other auspicious items. I will give Her aśirvāda (blessings).”
As soon as they left the room, Nārada Ṛṣi offered Śrīmatī Rādhikā sāṣṭāṅga daṇḍavat-praṇāmas, lying prostrated on the floor before Her cradle. He then did parikramā and offered prayers to Her.
ālakṣito na sahasā puruṣasya tasya
sadyo vaśī-karaṇa-cūrṇam ananta-śaktiṁ
taṁ rādhikā-caraṇa-reṇum anusmarāmi
[I perform anusmaraṇa of the footdust of Śrīmatī Rādhikā, whose unlimited power instantly subdues the Supreme Person Śrī Kṛṣṇa and who is not easily seen even by great souls like Brahmā, Śiva, Śukadeva, Nārada Muni and Bhīṣma.]
Nārada Ṛṣi said, “O Kiśorī please grant me mercy. I am unable to do Your aradhana. Until now, I sang kīrtana, ‘Hari, Hari’ and ‘Nārāyaṇa, Nārāyaṇa.’ I chanted all the names of Bhagavān, but I did not receive a farthing of the happiness that is present in the dust at Your lotus feet. O Rādhe, now You have given me Your darśana. The happiness I am feeling in Your proximity is impossible to feel by chanting the names of Bhagavān Nārāyaṇa. How can I become Your servant?”
Śrīmatī Rādhārānī showed him Her kiśorī-svarūpa and said, “Go to the foot of Govardhana and perform aradhana there. Later, I will come to the Kuśuma-vana and give You my darśana and blessings.”
When Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja and Kīrtikā-devī returned, Rādhārānī was again a small baby lying in the swing. Nārada Ṛṣi did not bless Her, he worshiped Her with the paraphernalia that they had brought. Then he said, “I am going now.”
As he left, he said, “O Vṛṣabhānu, until Nanda-nandana comes and is placed next to your daughter in the same swing, and until your daughter receives Kṛṣṇa’s remnants, She will not open Her eyes or drink Kīrtikā-devī’s breast milk. She will open Her eyes only when Śyāmasundara comes before Her.”
Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja had not yet invited Nanda Mahārāja to see Rādhikā. Now, Nandalālā was brought to Rāval and placed on the same swing as Śrīmatī Rādhikā. Śrīmatī opened Her eyes and saw Kṛṣṇa’s charming face and took His praśāda. Only then did She begin taking anything of this world.
Upāsanā of our Śrīmatī Rādhārānī is no ordinary thing. Who can teach us this upāsanā? Parabrahma, Parameśvara Kṛṣṇa Himself teaches us how to serve and worship Her. This transcendental knowledge is received through the guru-mantra and the chanting of such in brāhma-muhūrta on the bank of the Gaṅgā or Yamunā in the holy dhāma. By this process one can achieve the highest perfection.
I have only touched on Śrīmatī Rādhārānī’s unlimited glories and pastimes. All śāstras only glorify Śrīmatī Rādhārānī. One who does not perform upāsanā, or worship of Her, cannot understand this. Today is our day of supreme fortune. We are here in Jagannātha Purī-dhāma, under the shelter of Guru-pāda-padma. This is the place that Śrīla Gurudeva came to perform his final pastimes and he is always present in this vipralambhaksetra, the place of separation. We are here remembering his glories and praying to his paramārādhya-devī Śrīmatī Rādhārānī.
[CC-by-NDNC Bhakta Bandhav]