Hari-kathaArticlesTaster of Love - Govinda-lilamrta

Taster of Love – Govinda-lilamrta

One time at breakfast, though Kṛṣṇa was given many delicious items cooked by Śrīmatī Rādhārānī and served by the hand of Rohiṇī Mātā, He appeared to be neutral and was not speaking to anyone.

Yaśodā Mātā saw that Kṛṣṇa had only eaten half of what was on His plate and she thought, “Kṛṣṇa has no taste to eat. Maybe He is unwell. Why does He not eat properly?”

Worried, she went to Kṛṣṇa and asked Him, “Why don’t You eat nicely? If You don’t eat anything, then I will also fast. Please take something more. Rādhārānī came from so far to cook for You. Why don’t You eat? I will not be able to live if You do not eat.”

“My son is very skinny and does not eat anything,” Vrajeśvarī said to Rohiṇī Mātā in great anxiety. “What can I do?”

Rohiṇī Mātā then took Kṛṣṇa on her lap and lovingly stroked His back, saying, “Please Kṛṣṇa, take something more. Take a laḍḍu.” She kissed His cheek and said, “Please take something. Your mother is very unhappy. Please have some more.”

Śrīmatī Rādhārānī expertly prepares a huge variety of food preparations for the pleasure of Kṛṣṇa. Everything She does is very clean and nice. If Kṛṣṇa does not accept Her service, Śrīmatī becomes very upset.

Sometimes Yaśodā Mātā notices that Kṛṣṇa seems sad and quiet while He eats, and sits there hardly touching what is on His plate. When Kṛṣṇa seems to be in a mood like this,  He is actually trying very hard to hold in symptoms of ecstatic emotion that threaten to manifest uncontrollably when He eats Śrīmatī’s cooking. Externally, it seems that His sad or troubled.

In one such instance, Yaśodā Mātā addresses her son as follows:

“Kṛṣṇa, Rādhā has come from Yāvaṭa to cook for You. She didn’t sleep the whole night. She was making many arrangements for this meal. She has done so much for Your sake, but if You don’t take anything, She will be very unhappy. She will stop coming to Nanda-bhavana. Can’t You appreciate the hard work of others? Please eat nicely.”

Kṛṣṇa said, “Yes mother, I will eat. Don’t worry. I just have one small request.”

“What is that? Yaśodā Mātā asked.

“There are many fresh fruits that grow in the groves of Vraja and are waiting for service. Many Vrajavāsīs have come from their homes with fruits from their houses and food items they have personally prepared. I am feeling sad to not see these preparations. Hearing the glories of Vraja, even the demigods come here with many presentations. If we don’t accept these offerings, then they will be very unhappy and so will we.”

Any person, be he small, big, rich or poor, if he offers Kṛṣṇa something with love, He will accept it. Kṛṣṇa relished Sudāmā’s meager offering of chipped rice. He does not neglect anyone, but has love for all souls. For those who do not get the chance to personally bring their loveful offerings to Kṛṣṇa, He comes to them and steals it.

Yaśodā Mātā’s heart melted. “From tomorrow,” she said. “We will look to see if anyone is waiting with something to offer Kṛṣṇa. They will bring those gifts and serve them to Kṛṣṇa.”

The loving devotee will always make offering of affection to his Lord. When a sadhaka chants gopāla-mantra, he is offering something with love to Gopāla. Chanting a dry mantra is insufficient. You have to offer something and then it will be an action of love.

With love, if anyone offers a fruit, flower, root, or water, Kṛṣṇa says, “I will take that.”

patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ
yo me bhaktyā prayacchati
tad ahaṁ bhakty-upahṛtam
aśnāmi prayatātmanaḥ
Śrīmad Bhāgavad-gītā
“If my bhakta offers Me a leaf, a flower, fruit or water with love and devotion, I will surely accept that gift.”

Kṛṣṇa cannot be happy if He doesn’t accept offerings of His devotees.

Citraka, Patraka, Raktaka, Bhadra, Bhadrasena have the service of greeting those who come with gifts for Krsna and arranging that their offerings of love reach Him. There are many elder gopīs that bring butter, pomegranates, cherries and many other things. Kṛṣṇa is eager to accept everyone’s love.

When Mahāprabhu was in the Gambhīrā, the bhaktas in Navadvīpa would collect throughout the whole year, many preparations to give Mahāprabhu. They carried these for a month while walking from Navadvīpa to Purī. An arrival, they gave it all to Govinda Prabhu to offer to Mahāprabhu. Every day, Govinda Prabhu asked, “O Lord, people bring You many offerings with so much love, but You don’t accept them. How many times must I lie when they ask me if You have eaten them or not?”

Mahāprabhu said, “Anything that comes should be given to Jagannātha, I don’t need anything.”

Govinda Prabhu said, “They didn’t bring these things for Jagannātha, they brought it for You.”

“No, give it to Jagannātha.”

“If You won’t accept these offerings, I will tell the devotees not to bring anything again.”

Mahāprabhu said, “No, give whatever they bring to Jagannātha.

“I will offer everything to Jagannātha by mind.”

“No give it directly to Him.”

“You are Jagannātha.”

After almost a month there were multiple many roomfuls of this prasādam, but Mahāprabhu would not accept anything. He was setting an example of a renunciant, and only ate a little bit. Govinda Prabhu was also very stubborn and would ask Mahāprabhu again and again to accept the prasāda of the Navadvipa devotees.

One day Mahāprabhu suddenly said, “Alright, how many things do you have? Bring everything.”

Govinda Prabhu immediately began to serve the prasāda to Mahāprabhu. The Lord ate with great relish, until all the rooms that were filled were now empty.

Mahāprabhu asked, “Govinda, do you have anything more?”

“I have something still.”

“Give it to Me.”

“No I won’t give You more.”

“Why not, you said that you do not wish to be a liar.”

“What is left is some dry items and some pickles. I will give You a small amount of these things every day. I won’t give everything to You at once.”

When the devotee takes dīkṣā from Śrī Guru, it means he is receiving relationship, sambandha-jñāna. The knowledge that, “I am Kṛṣṇa’s, I am Gurudeva’s.” But one who gives nothing to Śrī Guru and Kṛṣṇa is not a real disciple. If one does not give anything by body, at least he should give something by mind. But even this is rare nowadays. Now if a disciple is asked, “Can’t you give one tulasī leaf to God?” he will say, “This is not possible for me.”
Such a person’s chanting of harināma and mantra is dry. It as if they simply run like a tape recorder saying, “Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare…” and “He Gopinātha, Hey Gopijana-vallabha,” but without any affection or mood of any kind.

Why do you call Gopijana-vallabha? Is He your servant? Can you not serve Him? This is not the proper process. If a mother has affection for her baby, she will tend to him without bathing and without having to be asked.

We have heard the story of Sanatana Gosvāmī and the brāhmaṇi who cooked daliā for Madana Mohana. She was stirring the daliā with the back end of the stick she was using to brush her teeth. Her two boys Madana and Sadana were crying, “Give me breakfast, give me breakfast,” She put it on their plates piping hot and the boys lips were burning as they tried to eat it very fast.

If you have no love how can you have relationship. How can you expect to enter aṣṭa-kālīya-līlā or asta-kaliya-smarana? The dry chanting of mantra does not work. Service is necessary. The gopīs have love, Yaśodā Mātā has love. Therefore they always serve. Crazy people are lazy and inactive. Karmīs, yogīs, bhogīs and jñānīs, who have no relation with svarūpa-śakti or līlā-śakti, have no affection, attachment, or attraction for God. They run here and there devoid of love.

The sadhaka, at least by mind, must serve in the way that Yaśodā Mātā and the gopīs serve Kṛṣṇa. If you cannot do this practically, then do it by mind.

Bhajana is very deep. You must have a do or die mentality. Who will do or die? Will the body do or die or the soul do or die? The soul never dies. And tomorrow or the day after the body will have to be discarded. Therefore, like candana, you should grind and paste the body on the stone slab of loving service. Then you will be fortunate. Your life will be successful. If you don’t do this, though you might have a big body like an elephant’s, many jackals and dogs will bite and have a huge festival of eating your body slowly.

Therefore, use this body for the sake of God. This is the first instruction. If one does not do this, he will never cross māyā nor enter the eternal world.

Caitanya Mahāprabhu said to Raghunātha das Gosvāmī—

eka kuṅjā jala āra tulasī-mañjarī
sāttvika-sevā ei—śuddha-bhāve kari
dui-dike dui-patra madhye komala mañjarī
ei-mata aṣṭa-mañjarī dibe śraddhā kari
Mahāprabhu said, “Give eight tulasī-mañjarīs to Girirāja, and bath him with a clay pot of water. Start this practice, then everything will run on nicely.”

Another time during breakfast, Yaśodā Mātā noticed that many peacocks, parrots, cuckoos and other animals were all waiting outside the window to offer something to Kṛṣṇa. They had all collected something from the forest. Some brought fresh dates, grapes, cherries and other fruits. There was a small rabbit that had come with small green leaves.

All the Vrajavāsīs hearts have love and they offer this to Kṛṣṇa.

Yaśodā Mātā became surprised. She saw even deer were waiting with gifts. The cows had already given milk, but all the other animals were waiting to offer their love.

Yaśodā Mātā went and stroked the different animals and took the fruits and other offerings they had brought. The Monkeys came with many mangoes, for they had affection Rāma. Now Rāma was Kṛṣṇa, Gopāla. They did not forget their pastimes with His as Rāma.

Our mundane family members do not teach us this. Our friends do not teach us this. They don’t say, “God is your good friend. Give Him something.”

We can’t give anything. We have something but we hide it. Ice cream, juice, mango shakes, banana shakes, we lock them in our room, and cover our heads with a cloth as we devour all we have collected, sharing it with no one. But for our lover, our beloved God, we cannot give even one drop. If a fly comes and take something from us we will try to kill it or smash it. How can we give anything to God? We are now like dogs, our tongues are very long and we want everything as our own.

Yaśodā Mātā saw everyone’s love and collects it to give to Kṛṣṇa, who is always hungry for it. Then Kṛṣṇa ate the fruits, roots, and other offering with so much happiness.

Kṛṣṇa accepts offerings and also distributes to everyone His prasādam. He is very merciful. He takes butter, yogurt, sandesh, and laḍḍus and distributes it to the monkeys and other animals early every morning. From around 3:30am to 6:00am He goes house to house collecting and distributing charity to all the animals. Kṛṣṇa has this love. This love is our life. If we don’t offer our love to God, our lives will be dry and useless. If we give our love to any other we will be arrested in the dark jail of illusion. We will be punished as prisoners.

Once, in Hastināpura, Duryodhana arranged an opulent feast as well as brahmaṇas singing hymns from the Vedas to welcome Kṛṣṇa who had come for diplomatic issues.

Kṛṣṇa requested Duryodhana to avoid war and simply give the Pāṇḍavas five villages, but the wicked son of Dhṛtarāṣṭra refused, saying that he would not give the Pāṇḍavas the amount of land that would fit the tip of a pin. After their discussion, Duryodhana requested Kṛṣṇa to have a meal with him. “I’ve arranged many things for You,” he said. “You are my samdi, my relative. Please eat.”

“First of all, I am not hungry,” Kṛṣṇa said. “Second, we have come to no agreement in our negotiation. Thirdly, you have no love for Me, so how can I eat?”

Duryodhana became angry and said, “If You don’t eat my meal I will arrest You and throw You in my dungeon. There they will give You rotten food and then You will understand!”

Duryodhana called for his soldiers, but just then, Kṛṣṇa showed His universal form, the Viśvarūpa. Seeing this great form, Duryodhana shivered and sweat dripped from his body. He was so terrified he passed in his clothes. Bhīṣma Pitāmaha, Droṇācārya, Kṛpācārya and the other leaders of the Kuru line came and prayed to Kṛṣṇa for forgiveness. Then Kṛṣṇa disappeared and went to the house of Vidura.

Vidurāni, the wefe of Vidura was waiting and thinking of Kṛṣṇa. “Oh, I am so unlucky,” she thought. “How can I see Kṛṣṇa? How can I offer Him something? I am of the śūdra cast. Kṛṣṇa will not eat anything from a lower caste person.”

Kṛṣṇa suddenly appeared in front of her and said, “Vidurāni, I am very hungry. Do you have something for me? Can you give me something to eat?”

Seeing Kṛṣṇa, Vidurāni became surprised. “He has come to me?” she thought in amazement.

She saw that there was a ripe bunch of bananas in the corner of her room. She took some and without washing them, began to peel them and offer them to Kṛṣṇa. All the while she gazed at Kṛṣṇa and did not notice that she was dropping the bananas and giving Him the peels.

Kṛṣṇa ate one peel after the other and said was very happy. “Vah!” he said. “This is so sweet!”

Kṛṣṇa was pleased by Vidurāni’s loving offering. Some people may ring a bell and chant many mantras and and say, “Etat sarvaṁ kṛṣṇāya samārpayāmi! Idaṁ ācamanīyaṁ, eṣa madhuparka, eṣa puṣpāñjali, idaṁ āsanaṁ samārpayāmi! Svāgatam, svāgatam!” but this does not attract Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa is hungry for the affection of His devotees. In an offering to Kṛṣṇa, all external opulence or presentation that is devoid of love and affection is of no value.

Nothing will happen when the heart has no love. One can ring the bell and lock the door and expect the Deity to eat, but nothing will happen.

One the other hand, Kṛṣṇa runs to taste the love of His devotees. He goes from house to house in Vraja-maṇḍala, checking all rooms for anything that may be hidden. He eats what he finds and also distributes it, showing how much love is present there. He gives the monkeys, squirrels, crows, eagles and everyone, saying, “You should also taste this. Your life will be successful by doing so. The gopīs made this. Taste the love of the Vrajavāsīs!”

Kṛṣṇa is greedy for this, He waits and even cries for this love.

Yaśodā Mātā takes Kṛṣṇa in her lap, and with tears streaming from her eyes and milk dropping from her breasts, she says, “Please take something. Take this mango juice. Take some lassi. Have some panīr. Have some fruit-salad.” In this way she feeds Kṛṣṇa, her heart melting with affection.

She gives many types of fried savories and sweets, the other. If she simply gives these things to Krsna He does not eat thim, but when she says the names of the gopīs who made the different items, He immediately eats.

One time, while Kṛṣṇa ate He looked around and thought, “My sakhās are very beautiful, golden, healthy, tall and strong. But I am skinny dark.” He saw Paurṇamāsī Devī standing nearby. She understands His heart and came near to Him and said so that only He could hear, “Don’t worry. Today I arranged very special laḍḍus for You. If you eat them, you will become very happy. Tomorrow you will be very fair, healthy and strong. ”

Kṛṣṇa said nothing, but began to show signs of being depressed and despondent. Śrīmatī Rādhārānī, Lalitā and Kundalatā understood His heart and sent Him manohara laḍḍus. When they came to Him, Kṛṣṇa looked at them, smelled them, touched one to His lips and then rejected it. The gopīs and Śrīmatī Rādhārānī were very unhappy, they thought, “We made such a nice thing, but Kṛṣṇa didn’t take it.”

Yaśodā Mātā spoke firmly to Kṛṣṇa, “This kind of laḍḍu is very special. If you don’t eat these, we will all do a big hunger strike. No one will eat. You must eat them.”

Kṛṣṇa made a face to show that it was very bitter. Yaśodā Mātā said to Madhumaṅgala, “You check one. See where the problem is. Are they hot or spicy, sour or bitter? Why isn’t Kṛṣṇa eating them?”

Madhumaṅgala took a little piece, and his face lit up with excitement. He began to dance, exclaiming, “This is so tasty! My life is successful today! Give me more. More!”

Yaśodā Mātā was surprised, “Why doesn’t Kṛṣṇa eat the laḍḍus?”

Kṛṣṇa wanted Madhumaṅgala to taste the greatness of the gopīs’ affection for Him. He likes when His friends taste the exceptionally tasty preparations made by Śrīmati and her sakhīs and mañjaris.

The sakhās all laughed and said, “Really, Your sense of taste does not work properly Kṛṣṇa. You think the best things do not taste good. That is why You are skinny.

Yaśodā Mātā then remembered that Durvāsā Ṛṣi had said that anything Rādhā cooks is very helpful, healthy, and tasty. She went to Rādhārāṇī and asked, “Rādhā, what did you specially cook Yourself today? Your sakhīs made many things, but what did you make alone?”

Rādhārānī showed Yaṣodā Mātā many preparations that She had put aside and covered with small gold plates. Yaśodā Mātā said, “Why didn’t you give these plates first?”

“If your son was given this first, He would have distributed all of it to His sakhās and not eaten anything Himself.” Rādhārānī said. “Now give these items to Kṛṣṇa with your own hand. Kṛṣṇa never neglects what you give with your own hand.”

Tears began to fall from Yaśodā Mātā’s eyes and she said, “You are so thoughtful and intelligent.” She went and took Kṛṣṇa in her lap, uncovered the plate, and began to feed Kṛṣṇa with her own hand.

Kṛṣṇa very eagerly ate what she gave him morsel by morsel. He soon finished most what was there and asked, “This is so little, don’t you have any more?”

Now Yaśodā Mātā became more distressed, thinking, “Why did Rādhā not make more than this?”

Rādhārāṇī did not want Kṛṣṇa to share this special plate of prasāda, therefore she made just enough for Kṛṣṇa.

“This is good.” Madhumaṅgala said. “You should feed Kṛṣṇa you’re your own hand every day. Then He will eat properly. But mother, don’t you know? Kṛṣṇa is very fond of drinks. Why don’t you get him something to drink.”

“You are right,” Yaśodā Mātā said. “I made Him eat but I must also make Him drink.” She went to bring some drinks and as soon as she was a safe distance away, Madhumaṅgala took Kṛṣṇa’s plate and ran. He gave the plate of Kṛṣṇa’s remnants to Dhaniṣṭhā who saved it for Śrīmati Rādhārānī.

Yaśodā Mātā came back and saw that Kṛṣṇa’s plate was missing. “Where did the plate go?” She asked.

“We gave it to the squirrels and monkeys sitting outside,”

Madhumaṅgala said. This was only partially true. Madhumaṅgala did give some of Kṛṣṇa’s remnants to the animals before sneaking the plate to Dhaniṣṭhā.

Yaśodā Mātā became upset and said, “You gave Kṛṣṇa’s plate to the animals?”

Madhumaṅgala said, “What to do. They were very greedy, and were threatening to jump in through the window and raid it anyway. We gave it to them to pacify them and avoid incident.”

“Alright you silly boys.” Yaśodā Mātā said, “take your breakfast and then take some rest.”

The sakhās were, of course, in no mood to rest. They were ready to start their day of fun.
Breakfast is concluded with a pleasant array of sweets. Once Kṛṣṇa has finished prasādam, He prepares to go to the forest with the cows. His hands are washed, and Yaśodā Mātā cleans His face and mouth. She gives Kṛṣṇa ācamana with a pot full of cool fragrant water.
The two servants named Jāmbula and Rasāla bring a mouth freshener made of cardamom, camphor and clove. Kṛṣṇa puts a little of this in His mouth and it provides a very clean and fresh feeling. He then lays on a splendid bed, where His servants fan Him with peacock feather fans and offer Him tāmbūla.

Rādhārānī now comes out from the kitchen and washes Her hands and feet. From a hidden place, She watches Kṛṣṇa rest while she is fanned by Her sakhīs. Her heart is overwhelmed with affection as she gazes ot Her beloved through the window.

Yaśodā Mātā searches eagerly for Rādhārānī and when she finds Her it appears that She is greatly fatigued and perspiring due to having worked very hard in the kitchen all morning. In reality, Śrīmatī has becomes like this by looking at Her beloved Kṛṣṇa through the window. Yaśodā Mātā says Rohini Mata and Dhaniṣṭhā, “It is time for Rādhā to take prasāda.”

Dhaniṣṭhā mixes Kṛṣṇa’s remnants with the portion of prasādam that is served to Śrīmati and Her sakhīs. Rādhārānī is shy to be sat down and fed, but Yaśodā lovingly says, “My dear daughter, You the object of my love just much as Kṛṣṇa is. Don’t be shy, please take this prasādam. When You have eaten and rested a while, You may return to Yāvaṭa.”

Rādhārānī and Her sakhīs are all very shy, but on the repeated requests of Vrajeśvari and Rohini Mātā, they eat something.

Yaśodā Mātā’s heart is very soft. She is very happy to see Śrīmati smile and eat with Her girlfriends. Feeling that Rādhārānī was her own daughter-in-law, she arranged many ornaments and gifts to give to Her.

She said to Dhanista said, “Bring this vermillion, sandalwood and ornaments to Rādhā. I will arrange many other things for Kṛṣṇa’s marriage.”

In the other room, Kṛṣṇa’s servants bring Him many ornaments and perfumes. They apply sandalwood paste and musk on His body and anoint His charming forehead with tilaka. His face is decorated with dots and designs. On His head they place a crown of peacock feathers. They give Around His neck, they place a guñjā necklace, a vaijayantī garland and the enchanting Kaustubha-maṇi. They further decorate Him with many bracelets, armlets and ankle bells. Kṛṣṇa was now ready to go to the forest, graciously equipped with His vetra, viṣāṇa and veṇu— His stick, buffalo horn, and beloved flute.

This is the process by which to serve. In the eternal world, this process conquers over everything. But we do not do this. We are say we are Bābājīs, tyāgīs or vairāgīs, but really we are bhogīs. We say, “No, don’t do mānasī-sevā. This is not good for us.” We will search out jackals, eagles, ladies and gents and serve them, but we can’t serve Kṛṣṇa. We say, “I have no qualification.” But we have qualification to serve everyone else. We have the qualification to serve cats and dogs, but no right to serve God. There is some prohibition to serve God. People say, “You are not qualified for this. Don’t do it.” But you are qualified to serve the gents and ladies. This is your special ability. These are called the cheaters of Māyā-devī! The soldiers and scholars of Māyā-devī’s army give such instructions, saying, “You are not qualified. Serve pigs and piglets, this is good for you. Don’t serve God. Don’t think about Rādhārānī, you will be fallen.”

Whence have they brought these ideas? This is kali Mahārāja having come with his expansions and giving these instructions. They say, “You have no qualification. Simply chant mantra, this is good for you. Don’t think about anything while you chant.”

Is this thinking bad? If anyone thinks about God is it bad? If anyone thinks about Vṛndāvana and the gopīs and mañjarīs is that bad?

People say, “This is not good. When you get adhikāra then you can think of this.” When will we get adhikāra? By cleaning toilets, will we get adhikāra? By serving pigs and dogs will we get adhikāra? How would this come? Follow this process!”

Kavirāja Gosvāmī was not crazy. Why did he write this? Why did he preserve all this? If we hear this and then become a little greedy, and understand it’s value, then our life will not be destroyed nor go by in vain. Our life will be successful. The demigods do not want people to cross māyā, in the same way, many people in this world say, “Don’t do this. Don’t think about these things.”

They give this prohibition, but if we follow them, will they take responsibility for our souls? Will they help us cross māyā and achieve pure devotion? Can they give us this promise? No they cannot! Then why should we follow them?

[CC-by-NDNC Bhakta Bandhav]

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