Devotee: The material world comprises a quarter of this creation and Śrī Goloka Vraja and the unlimited spiritual planets comprise the rest. In Goloka Vraja, Kṛṣṇa is served by hundreds of thousands of gopīs as depicted in the verse from Śrī Brahma Saṁhitā:
lakṣāvṛteṣu surabhīr abhipālayantam
govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi
Now, I cannot reconcile the number of the gopīs when compared to the 8.4 million species of life in this material world as mentioned in the Padma-Purāṇa, it seems their number is smaller when compared to the material species in this planet, in Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta and other literatures so many līlās are mentioned like kṛṣṇa-līlā, rāma-līlā, and caitanya-līlā, so why is the number of gopīs mentioned in the hundreds of thousands when the spiritual world and Goloka Vṛndāvana are unlimited. It seems their numbers are relatively smaller.
Śrīla Gurudeva: Everywhere it has been mentioned that kṛṣṇa-līlā comprises of cit-vastu coming from cit-śakti. This cit-śakti is the predominating śakti from Vaikuṇṭha to Goloka Vṛndāvana. Cit-śakti has many manifestations and functions. The manifestations of cit-śakti are inconceivable, as Brahmāji has said:
jānanta eva jānantu
kiṁ bahūktyā na me prabho
manaso vapuṣo vāco
vaibhavaṁ tava go-caraḥ
[There are people who say, “I know everything about Kṛṣṇa.” Let them think that way. As far as I am concerned, I do not wish to speak very much about this matter. O my Lord, let me say this much: As far as Your opulences are concerned, they are all beyond the reach of my mind, body, and words.]
By mind, senses, and this body one cannot estimate the inconceivable. Our mind and body is made of matter so the spiritual realm is inconceivable to them, but we can know once we have surrendered fully to the bona fide spiritual master who will reveal this knowledge to us. So we should accept this and try to make our soul, and mind realize these things like Brahmājī who realized the catuḥ-ślokī from Kṛṣṇa:
yavan aham yatha-bhavo
astu te mad-anugrahat
Srimad Bhagavatam 2.9.32
[All of Me, namely My actual eternal form and My transcendental existence, color, qualities and activities—let all be awakened within you by factual realization, out of My causeless mercy.]
aham evāsam evāgre
nānyad yat sad-asat param
paścād ahaṁ yad etac ca
yo ’vaśiṣyeta so ’smy aham
[Before the creation of this world, only I existed. The gross and the subtle, up to the indefinable Brahman—in other words the cause (sat) and the effect (asat)—did not exist. Nothing other than I existed. What is manifested in the form of creation is also I, after creation it is also I, and after annihilation only I will remain.]
Brahmā, it is I, the Personality of Godhead, who was existing before the creation, when there was nothing but Myself. Nor was there the material nature, the cause of this creation. That which you see now is also I, the Personality of Godhead, and after annihilation what remains will also be I, the Personality of Godhead.
Also vijñāna, or more specifically, prema-ātmā-dharma, and bhakti-rasa were explained to Brahmājī by Kṛṣṇa. So Kṛṣṇa described all the facts to Brahmājī, who still was unable to realize them, then Kṛṣṇa blessed Brahmājī by His mercy as told in this śloka:
jñānaṁ parama-guhyaṁ me
sa-rahasyaṁ tad-aṅgaṁ ca
gṛhāṇa gaditaṁ mayā
[The Personality of Godhead said: Knowledge about Me as described in the scriptures is very confidential, and it has to be realized in conjunction with devotional service. The necessary paraphernalia for that process is being explained by Me. You may take it up carefully.]
So, the causeless mercy of Śrī Kṛṣṇa or of His devotees is of the essence here and one should know that his mental speculations are of no standing when it comes to the subject of this tattva. The key to this acintya, inconceivable, tattva is in the hands of the devotee. If we want to realize we should chant more and serve a tattva-vit, rasika, bhāgavata-bhakta.
yāha bhāgavata paḍa vaiṣṇavera sthāne
ekānta āśraya kara caitanya-caraṇe
Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya-līlā 5.131
If you want to understand Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, you must approach a self-realized Vaiṣṇava and hear from him. You can do this when you have completely taken shelter of the lotus feet of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Otherwise realization will elude you.
Do you know the meaning of bhāgavata? One can never know if he is not in the guidance of the Guru-varga. Our Guru-varga like Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī and Śrīla Vishvanatha Cakravarti Ṭhākura have elaborately described the meaning of bhāgavata by breaking down the word into its constituent letters like bhā-ga-va-ta. Bhā stands for the rays of transcendental knowledge, bhakti, or bhakti-rasa. Bhā can also mean Bhāṇḍīravana in Vraja where Śrī Kṛṣṇa used to take mahā-prasādam with the sakhās and where the cows being allured by the green grasses found themselves exposed to a raging conflagration, and the sakhās followed the cows without Kṛṣṇa and also found themselves in the same predicament with the cows and without finding any shelter called out to their beloved Lord to save them. This is also the place where Śrī Brahmājī performed the gandharva marriage of his Lordships Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa; a rāsa-sthalī is also present there. So bhā means bhāndīra—a repository of transcendental knowledge, and bhā can also mean bhāgavata, all this knowledge is present in the bhāgavata. But why are we unable to grasp the implicit purport of the Bhāgavatam, despite reading over an extended period of time? The reason has been told by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura in Śrī Jaiva-dharma, that one should listen to hari-kathā. This is told by Śrī Brahmājī:
jñāne prayāsam udapāsya namanta eva
jīvanti san-mukharitāṁ bhavadīya-vārtām
sthāne sthitāḥ śruti-gatāṁ tanu-vāṅ-manobhir
ye prāyaśo ’jita jito ’py asi tais tri-lokyām
[Those who, even while remaining situated in their established social positions, throw away the process of speculative knowledge and with their body, words, and mind offer all respects to descriptions of Your personality and activities, dedicating their lives to these narrations, which are vibrated by You personally and by Your pure devotees, certainly conquer Your Lordship, although You are otherwise unconquerable by anyone within the three worlds.]
So one should hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam from a rasika, tattva-vit Vaiṣṇava to grasp its essence, and then realization will dawn on one. Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has said not to exercise your mental worldly limited senses to gain access into the inconceivable realm, as the attempt will be futile. Just chant more and realization will come, and also serve tattva-darśī Vaiṣṇava, by this hearing advancement in bhakti will be achieved as a tangible outcome. No room for doubt will exist then.
Once Śrī Kṛṣṇa was yawning and Mother Yaśodā saw in her Kanhaiyā’s mouth infinite universes with infinite Viṣṇus, Brahmās and Śivas, and also saw herself engaged in pastimes with Kṛṣṇa, so this is acintya-bhāva. How could Nanda Bābā’s cows which numbered ten lakhs in number, Vrishabhanu Mahārāja’s cows which numbered eleven lakhs in number and the infinite associates of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, all find space in Śrī Vraja maṇḍala which according to material estimation may comprise a certain number of miles? Inconceivability predominates there.
Why does fire burn? Why does one die when he consumes poison? Why is the sun comprised of heat and light? These are examples of acintya-śakti (inconceivable potency). So we should chant more and realize. Any mental speculation will not do. Distinctive chanting of a high quality like how our mahājanas have shown (Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura) will help one to realize these confidentialities of the transcendental realm. Harināma without offence, criticizing, and especially comprised of a relationship of love and affection with Kṛṣṇa is what is needed. Who is Kṛṣṇa? What is your relationship with Yaśodā?
Devotee: She is Kṛṣṇa’s mother.
Śrīla Gurudeva: What will you call her?
Śrīla Gurudeva: No, What will you call Yamunā?
Devotee: Yamunā Mayi.
Śrīla Gurudeva: Vṛndāji? Do you know Vṛndā? Who is she?
Devotee: Tulasī Mahārāṇī?
Śrīla Gurudeva: Actually Vṛndā is not Tulasī Mahārāṇī, but Tulasī Mahārāṇī is a manifestation of Vṛndā. Vṛndā is the root of Tulasī Mahārāṇī’s manifestation. So what will you call Vṛndāji?
Śrīla Gurudeva: Bhakti-devī, mother, or sister, or sakhī, or nothing?
So we should know all these things. We have been initiated but these relationships are not within our grasp, so we should know that we haven’t been really initiated. Initiation begins with relationship to the Vaiṣṇavas, we call Yaśodā as ‘Māiyā’ but what will we call Kīrtidā-devī? You know Kīrtidā-devī?
Devotee: She is the mother of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī.
Śrīla Gurudeva: If you have relationship with Śrī Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa then you can have a relationship with these personalities. This is actual initiation. A fire sacrifice and a sacred thread are not the real constituents of initiation, they will only add to the conception of being initiated.
Initiation means a process to come nearer to Kṛṣṇa, actually it really means the relationship between Kṛṣṇa and His devotee-. You know we are all the servants of Śrī Kṛṣṇa:
jīvera ‘svarūpa’ haya—kṛṣṇera ‘nitya-dāsa’
kṛṣṇera ‘taṭasthā-śakti’ ‘bhedābheda-prakāśa’
sūryāṁśa-kiraṇa, yaiche agni-jvālā-caya
svābhāvika kṛṣṇera tina-prakāra ‘śakti’ haya
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya 20.108-109
[It is the living entity’s constitutional position to be an eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa because he is the marginal energy of Kṛṣṇa and a manifestation simultaneously one with and different from the Lord, like a molecular particle of sunshine or fire. Kṛṣṇa has three varieties of energy.]
What is the meaning of nitya-dāsa?
Devotee: Eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa.
Śrīla Gurudeva: Eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa, but there are so many kinds of servants like Nanda Bābā is a servant, Mother Yaśodā is a servant, gopīs are servants, Baladeva Prabhu is a servant, Śrīdhāma and Subala are servants, Hanumānji is a servant, the four Kumāras are servants, but what kind of a servant are you?
Kṛṣṇa Consciousness means to know all these things, and once you are realized all your questions will be answered in a moment. No doubt will arise, automatically they will subside. Now the potentialities and potencies of our soul are in a seed like latent position. Just like a seed of a mango has all the constituents of a tree like a root, sprouts, leaves, branches, the trunk, the number of leaves that will appear and disappear, the number of mangoes, the longevity of the tree and so on, all of these factors are present in the seed of the mango as a potentiality. We cannot see all this in the seed but it is fact that the seed has the potency to become a subsequent tree, so in our soul everything is there and we can realize everything if we are in the guidance of a bona fide guru. The associates of Kṛṣṇa come from Vraja and tell all these things but we cannot realize. Like in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, and in the books of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, everything has been revealed but we cannot realize just by reading, only by practicing under guidance can we realize. (Gurudeva gives examples by showing how words can be formed by using the English language by suitable practice.)
Thus one will gallop and realize. This is dīkṣā initiation. By practicing sincerely under the guidance of Śrī Guru and Vaiṣṇavas one will advance higher and higher, and all the doubts will be washed away, and when realization dawns on the devotee, he will be in wonder and will think as to when this glorious awakening resulted in him. And when he reads the books and practices, he will be immersed in an endless ocean of mellow and happiness, being carefree and thoroughly oblivious of the world around him, and he will realize that, “I am a servant of Śrī Kṛṣṇa”. He also will not look at anyone as being just a servant of Kṛṣṇa, but rather he will see each and every soul as belonging to one particular mellow of a loving relationship with Kṛṣṇa, be it dāsya, sakhya, vātsalya, or mādhurya-rasa. So if you have any relation with Kṛṣṇa that, “I am the friend of Kṛṣṇa,” like the conception of Subala-sakhā, then Subala will say, “Yaśodā is my mother,” and, “Nanda Bābā is my father”. If you are a father or mother of Kṛṣṇa, then your relationship will be accordingly. If you have a relationship like the gopīs then you must follow in the footsteps of the gopīs, wherein they call Śrīmatī Kirida-devī, the mother of Śrīmatī Rādhikā, as, ‘mother’ and the gopīs will call Śrīmatī Yaśodā-devī as ‘mother-in-law’ rather than addressing Yaśodā as ‘mother’. Do you understand these things or not? If one is a friend of Śrīmatī Rādhikā then she will call Kīrtidā-devī as ‘mother’, Śrīdhāma-sakhā as ‘brother’, Vṛṣabhānu Bābā as ‘father’, but she will address Nanda Bābā and Yaśodā-devī as ‘father-in-law’ and ‘mother-in-law’ respectively, and Vṛndā-devī and Yamunā-devī as a sakhī. So this is the process and this is actual dīkṣā initiation. Gradually we will realize more.
Try to develop your Kṛṣṇa Consciousness. Coming in the realm of bhakti one should realize śaraṇāgati—surrender—as the door to bhakti. Śaraṇāgati is not bhakti in itself but the door to bhakti. We will enter śaraṇāgati, and if one has offered himself to the lotus feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa then the door to bhakti will open and one will find himself in the endless bhakti ‘rājya’, the kingdom of bhakti, the realm of bhakti. We cannot proceed an inch in this process without the guidance of an emissary from Śrī Goloka Vṛndāvana-dhāma, like the spiritual master who has descended from the spiritual realm after being requested by Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself to deliver the sādhakas, then the spiritual master will descend to this world and lead the sādhaka by the finger back home, back to Godhead, all the while nourishing the sādhaka with dīkṣā, hari-kathā. Gradually the bhakti creeper of the sādhaka crosses the stage of sraddhā, sādhu-saṅga, bhajana-kriyā, anartha-nivṛtti, wherein ignorance and offences start to be dispelled. Tattva-jñāna starts to manifest and all anarthas and offences start to be done away with, and once the misgivings and hindrances are dispelled, the stage of niṣṭhā comes. Gradually the sādhaka crosses niṣṭhā, all the while listening to hari-kathā and serving the spiritual master and the Vaiṣṇavas with śikṣā-guru and then the stage of ruci comes. At present we have very little ruci and niṣṭhā as shown by the example of Śrīla Haridāsa Thaura when he said:
khaṇḍa-khaṇḍa hai deha yāya yadi prāṇa
tabu āmi vadane nā chāḍi harināma
Śrī Caitanya-bhāgavata, Ādi 16.94
[Even if you cut my body into pieces, I will never give up the chanting of harināma.]
But if any problems come to us we set aside the mālā and try finding the solutions to the problems, thinking, “Let my problems be solved and then I will chant. Let us take maha-prasadam and then chant, or let me sleep and rest for a while and then I will chant.” So no ruci at all, for instance when you are hearing kathā [Gurudeva makes some gestures and devotees laugh], so niṣṭhā and ruci hasn’t awakened in us yet, so we will have to strive for niṣṭhā and ruci, and once attained the next stage would be āsakti wherein doubts of all sorts will be cleared away. For instance your question will be solved in a moment by yourself, no doubts will be there. Śrī Kṛṣṇa has so much power that a particle of His dust or Vraja’s dust may contain lakhs and lakhs of worlds, you cannot imagine! This is cit-śakti’s power, kṛṣṇa-śakti’s power. Śrīmatī Rādhikā can create infinite universes in a moment, infinite number of Brahmājī’s and Śaṅkaraji’s, but it seems that the demon Śankhacuda is carrying Śrīmatī Rādhikā on his shoulders and Śrīmatī Rādhikā is weeping and when we hear that She is weeping a doubt crops up in our minds as to why She is weeping. We think Śrīmatī Rādhikā can create so many worlds but why in this instance is She weeping and unable to save Herself? Even Śrīmatī Sītā-devī was seemingly carried away by the demon Rāvaṇa and Sītā-devī was also weeping bitterly and she appeared to be helpless. Why is this despite us knowing Sītā-devī’s power of inconceivable potency like Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s, since Sītā-devī is a manifestation of Śrīmatī Rādhikā? So in this way doubt again comes.
Doubt came in the mind of Sri Garuḍaji and even Śrī Nāradajī, but we should not have any doubts. Doubts will come surely if there is no ruci, taste, for harināma wherein we are unable to realize the non-difference between the nāma and nāmī. So one should chant under the guidance of a nāma-tattva-vit dīkṣā or śikṣā-guru and as a result all the pastimes will appear in our hearts like a cinema reel.
Gaura Premānande! Haribol!
[CC-by-NDNC Bhakta Bandhav]