Jaga Mohan Prabhu: Can I ask a question about Katyayani-vrata? The gopis perform this vrata at a very young age. At the age of five?
Sripada Premananda Prabhu: Two and a half years, three years.
Jaga Mohan Prabhu: So, obviously Cupid did not give them this burning sensation to be with Krsna. They are too young. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Thakura says that when a rhino is born, it runs away from the mother because the tongue of the mother is too rough and when she licks her baby, its skin would be shredded. This is evidence for the existence of a previous life. The baby rhino instantly knows that it should not be near the mother. Is it instinct that the gopis desire Krsna and then approach Paurnamasi devi. Where does this emotion come from?
Sripada Premananda Prabhu: You are sleeping in class. What can I do? The sadhana-siddhas first met with Lord Ramacandra in the forest of Dandakaranya. They were rsis and munis at that time. They had love for Gopala Krsna. When they saw Rama, they desired to have Him as a lover, but they also had male bodies. By chanting the Gopala-mantra, this mood came to them, but at that time the desired relationship with the Lord was not possible. Therefore, they had to come in dvarpara-yuga and take birth in the house of a gopa in Vraja-mandala. Then their desire was fulfilled.
Jaga Mohan Prabhu: So, this was their mood acquired in previous lives?
Sripada Premananda Prabhu: Listen now! Krsna wakes up at three o’clock every morning. He opens the gate of Nanda Bhavana and runs to the house of the gopis, together with His sakhas. These gopis were newly born infants. Krsna stole something from their house and gave them darsana. They were sleeping with their face covered with a cloth. Krsna removed the cloth and gave them some of His remnants. After this darsana of Govinda, love for Him automatically came. When the gopis were two or three years old, one day Krsna was outside in Nandagrama. Yasoda Mata gave Him a flute. Krsna did not know how to play it, but a wind was blowing, and it went inside the flute and when it came out a beautiful sound emanated from it.
Krsna said, “Who is calling me? Where is this beautiful sound coming from?” He looked at His vamsi and then desired to learn this instrument. He played the bija-mantra klim, and this sound went inside the ears of all these gopis and churned their hearts. Then, they were running in the direction where the sound was coming from. They did not know where their hankering came from. In their past lives they acquired this desire. Now, they came to Vraja-bhumi where they strived to meet with Krsna and have a permanent relationship with Him. They no longer wanted to give their hearts to anybody else who would misuse their love and cheat them.
Jaga Mohan Prabhu: I have one more question. Yesterday, you explained the verses of Vraja-vilasa-stava explaining kesi-lila and before that there were some verses about Katyayani-vrata. You talked about them only in brief, so I could not quite catch what you said. Did you say that the gopis, by giving up their cloth, gave up their previous identity?
Sripada Premananda Prabhu: This happens in the place of Vrndavana that is called Praskanda Tirtha, which is connected to kaliya-lila. Krsna was sweating while He was dancing on the hooves of Kaliya and some sweat dripped down inside the Yamuna. This place became known as Praskanda Tirtha. Yogamaya Paurnamasi gave the gopis the mantra when they went to the Yamuna. They thought, “Previously Kaliya came there. Our lives are useless. It is not possible that Krsna will accept us and meet with us. We will all go there and leave our bodies.” But, when they came there, they could not see Kaliya and the water did not contain any poison. Everything was clean. Once they arrived there, some hope came to them because Krsna’s power is in Praskanda Tirtha. They came to Yamuna devi and became happy and sad at the same time. Then Paurnamasi devi appeared and told them, “This place is siddha-bhumi. I have a siddha-mantra. I will give this to you and when you chant this mantra then whatever you desire will come to you.” Then, the gopis were there, doing vrata and tapa for one month. As a result, they lost all attachment to their bodies and families. The last day they even left their cloth and went inside the Yamuna to bathe. They forgot that they were naked.
This Praskanda Tirtha is powerful and helped them to give them liberation from these attachments. And then Krsna came to disturb them. They would not have been disturbed by Krsna alone, but He came with four sakhas and therefore they became disturbed. Who were these four sakhas? They were mana, buddhi, ahankara, and citta—mind, intelligence, false ego, and heart. These covered the gopis and arrested them. Then, they became aware of their nakedness and were too shy to go before Krsna who would laugh at them and joke about them.
The mind always disturbs. I thought that I would give this class tomorrow as the final class of katyayani-vrata. But, you are poking me and therefore I am telling this. You may do bhajana and do everything well, but your mind sometimes disturbs you. Mind, intelligence, false ego, and heart always comes and disturbs. The gopis hesitated to go to Krsna. Before, they gave up everything, but when Krsna and the sakhas came, the gopis became anxious. They were chanting their mantra for one month and forgot their mind, intelligence, false ego, and heart, and they knew that Krsna will come and accept them. But Krsna tested their level of surrender.
When this happens to the sadhaka, he becomes nervous and turns away, thinking to be busy executing his work and duties. Krsna first sends mana, buddhi, ahankara, and citta to those who want to surrender to Him. Then everybody you are related to will come and take your attention. When somebody newly joins the temple, his relatives will tell him, “If you do not eat non-vegetarian food, you will be weak. The babajis will make you a eunuch. You will not get married and have children. There will be no enjoyment for you.” Some western brahmacaris are told by their fathers and even mothers, “This age is meant for enjoying. You have no girlfriend. Why do you want to be a celibate, a eunuch?”
Krsna tested the gopis. He asked, “What does your mind tell you now? Is he helping you or not?” Bharata Maharaja was performing austerities when a deer calf came to him and his mind and senses told him to look at it and take care of it. On one side there is God and on the other side there are the mind, senses, and the subtle body. Who will you follow? Which way will you go?
This test to the gopis is similar to the test that Arjuna had to pass on the battlefield of Kuruksetra. He advised the gopis and pointed out their faults and that they did not like Krsna but rather their cloths and shyness. By speaking to the gopis in this way, Krsna purified them and cut their last attachments, and then Krsna accepted them. He first made sure that they would never again be involved with others. Krsna said, “Are you going to this or to that side? After you give up everything, then you can come to Me. Otherwise, if you come while holding on to something else, I cannot accept you. I cannot even look at you and your vrata will be futile.”
Jaga Mohan Prabhu: Is the Cira-ghata here in Vrndavana near kesi-ghata connected to this lila?
Sripada Premananda Prabhu: Where the Kadamba tree in Praskanda-tirtha is situated, that is Cira-ghata. It is called like this because Krsna stole Cira, the gopis’ clothes. The gopis were sadhana-siddhas, but they still had some other desires. They were tatastha, where they could choose which side they wanted to go. They could choose if they wanted to stay inside the water or come out. They could be a fish or a crocodile or Krsna’s beloveds. [Laughter]
Jaga Mohan Prabhu: Why is the other Cira-ghata more prominent then this Cira-ghata?
Sripada Premananda Prabhu: The one in Vrndavana is not Cira-ghata. They now call this Cira-ghata because clothes get stolen here every day. But, this is not the actual Cira-ghata. The real Cira-ghata is some distance away from Vrndavana. At the time Srila Gurudeva was present, we would go there by buses with so many people. There would be a nice feast. Also, at the end of Kartika I would cook a big feast alone. We would beg buttermilk from different houses and make curry and spinach. Gurudeva would come and make a big program there with two to three thousand people. We made big fire pits and collected wood and cow dung. The villagers would also help by donating milk to cook khira with. We cooked many preparations and then Gurudeva would come, bathe, give class, take prasadam, and then return to Vrndavana. That is the main Cira-ghata, where the Kadamba tree is present. But, in Vrndavana everything is everywhere. We should not neglect this. Performing the vrata here is enough for this life.
Before, I used to come from Mathura to perform Katyayani-vrata. I would come in December, in the cold and fog, then do parikrama, bathe in the Yamuna, and do the worship, and then return to Mathura. Now, we have good facilities and a good opportunity to perform this vrata. Some austerities are necessary. Otherwise, how will we attain the blessings of Hari, Guru, and Vaisnavas?
Tomorrow will be the last day…
Giridhari Prabhu: Let’s go to Cira-ghata tomorrow.
Sripada Premananda Prabhu: If we all want to go, we would need to arrange busses and prasadam. And also, if I go, my heart will be broken. Therefore I am not going anywhere. I remember Srila Gurudeva and the Guru-varga. I would remember their love and the classes they would give there. After class they would take prasadam and come to Vrndavana or Mathura. That scenery I cannot forget. Therefore it is not possible for me to go anywhere. I used to go to Govardhana or Vrndavana and do parikrama with Srila Gurudeva walking in front of me. He would offer pranama, sit at different places, and give hari-katha. Now I am dry. Where will this love and classes come from? If you never received this love, you cannot understand how I feel. Srila Gurudeva would give vraja-rasa and vraja-bhakti in such a sweet way. This is not possible to get anywhere else. No other acarya is equal to him. If I go to these places, my brain stops functioning. Even if I only think about him I cannot remember anything else. I try to forget these things, but I cannot. From my childhood I was with him. When he went to preach in western countries, most of this stopped. He was in an advanced age and was sometimes sick and so many people were always present around him. Before, we would be a hundred or a hundred-fifty people going on parikrama from place to place and Srila Gurudeva and the Guru-varga would glorify these places hour after hour. I would cook khicari, offer it, and Srila Gurudeva would eat the prasada with so much love and glorify it. He would always ask me, and even the last time I spoke to him, he asked, “Are you not cooking khicari? Are you not making malpua?”
I cannot forget these things. Those who did not meet Srila Gurudeva cannot understand his heart, his kindness, and his compassion for us. Now also he is protecting us. Otherwise, it would not be possible that we all sit together here and do kirtana and all programs are running. This is only possible by his great mercy.
We would go do Govardhana and celebrate Annakuta. You cannot imagine in what sweet way this happened. We would go in the forest at the foot of Govardhana and at noon we would offer many preparations. He, Trivikrama Maharaja and all other Sannyasis would carry them on their heads and offer them and pray to Giriraja. Then with their own hands they would distribute the prasada and then tell how Krsna would celebrate this festival.
I have all these memories. I cannot forget them. Now, this flow of anuraga is not present. Nobody has this love. The world became dry. If I go to these places and see nonsense things, then there will be more pain coming in my heart. Therefore, other than the early morning parikrama, I am not going out of this gate. I try to not even go downstairs.
There were such amazing hari-katha and kirtanas. Kanaiya Prabhu was a senior Vaisnava who was present, and Asrama Maharaja, the disciple of Sarasvati Prabhupada, was there. They would sing:
radhika-bhava-gambhira citta jeva mahadhira
gana-sanga na koila jevane
They would sing the kirtana and explain it. Everybody’s heart would melt and they would cry. I will not be able to forget these classes and programs life after life.
Everybody is against Katyayani-vrata and Kesava-vrata. If you are progressing towards nitya-dhama and nitya-lila, then nobody likes to see this. Even all the demigods are against this. All so-called babajis and bhaktas are against. We all followed this vrata one year in Govardhana and Radha-kunda. There were so many brahmacaris and Vrajavasis with us. Srila Gurudeva knows everything, but he never told us to not follow this vrata. He encouraged. He knows that whoever is greedy for Vraja-bhumi and vraja-anuraga would automatically follow this vrata seriously. The process to attain this will naturally be revealed to you. There will be no headache and tension and the more you follow the process the more serious you will become. Then you will see Srila Gurudeva present in the eternal world performing his service.
Sometimes I think of going to Cira-ghata, Biharavana, Rama-ghata, Tapavana, Nanda-ghata, and many other places in Vraja. In Biharavana there are some disciples of Srila Gurudeva. The whole parikrama party would go there. I would go there with a few brahmacaris in advance and cook a vast amount of malpua, sabjis, rice, kari, and many other thing. The Vrajavasis would also cook. Then, Gurudeva would come and give hari-katha, and kirtana would be sung. Everybody would hear his sweet hari-katha, and all the Vrajavasis wondered what to give to Srila Gurudeva who distributed the priceless gift of vraja-rasa. At that time we would distribute prasadam, he would distribute kari-sauce.
When we celebrated Radhastami in Mathura, we would distribute kari in the street. Everybody would only get a little bit, but people would form huge lines to get the prasada. They would take it and bring it to their houses and even to the government offices, hospitals, and courtyards. Everybody would relish this prasada. How would the prasada be so tasty? Srila Gurudeva’s love was present in that prasada.
radha-nitya-jana’ taha chadi mana
kena va nirjana-bhajana kaitava
Srila Gurudeva is Radharani’s kinkari. When he was here, all services and festivals would go on in such a beautiful way. Now they also go on, but everything is dry. One day when he is happy and pleased with us, he will call us to the eternal world and we can again meet and serve him there. Now we are unqualified and still students that follow his classes until we one day become qualified to be taken by him to the eternal world. While staying in this world, we should focus on sadhana and remembering Guru and Vaisnavas. Then your bhajana will go on perfectly. If you forget them, then this will not be bhajana or bhakti. If the Guru-varga does not come in your heart, then Maya devi will dance there and you will lose your good chance to perform bhakti.
I remember how Srila Bhakti Pramoda Puri Maharaja would give class. He would close his eyes and speak for one or two hours without looking at anybody. One day I asked him, “Maharaja, you close your eyes and never open them during hari-katha.”
He said, “I am present with my Guru Maharaja. I speak with him. He hears my classes and Mahaprabhu hears them. I do not look at anybody. Why should I look at anybody? Why should I try to help anybody? They can only receive help from my Guru Maharaja and from Srimati Radharani. I have nothing to give. I can only serve my Guru Maharaja.”
If you cannot meet with the acaryas in our Guru-varga, you cannot understand the softness of their hearts. Throughout my life I would always go on parikrama with Srila Gurudeva. When I go now, I cannot look left or right. I only see him walking in front of me, offering pranama to all the lila-places, and reciting prayers. Half of the Govardhana-parikrama he would chant harinama and the other half he would recite prayers and offer pranama. When he went to Radha-kunda he would also pray and then bathe.
These memories will be present with me for the rest of my life. He kindly arranges that all programs are nicely running with the help of all his bhaktas. Alone it would not be possible to do these things. Svami Maharaja started his preaching seemingly alone, but his Guru Maharaja arranged everything for him. Srila Gurudeva is present in nitya-lila now, but he arranges all favorable circumstances for us to perform sadhana. Why should we then not remember him? He is doing all good arrangements. He even makes sure for every single drop of water to come to us. We should remember Srila Gurudeva and his compassion and mercy. He gives us everything. If we do not chant, remember, and serve, then we are all selfish and useless. If we remember Gurudeva, then the way for us to perform sadhana will be clean. There is no need to fight and insult others. There is no need to beg for anything and save it somewhere. Soon vraja-bhakti will come in our hearts and then we will go to the eternal world and serve Srila Gurudeva. Why should we collect material possessions? Why should we divide our hearts? We should offer our hearts to Gurudeva and the Vaisnavas. Then we will be fortunate. If we divide our hearts and share them, we will lose everything.
[CC-by-NDNC Bhakta Bandhav]