Hari-kathaArticlesHearts Skipping to the Forest - Govinda-lilamrta

Hearts Skipping to the Forest – Govinda-lilamrta

Kavirāja Gosvāmī now describes the mid-morning pastimes.

Kṛṣṇa has left Nanda-bhavana with the sakhās and cows, and they are on their way to the forest, while playing many instruments.

While walking in the dhāma, if you think of materialistic people and their mundane activities, then those very people will steal your energy. If you think of Vraja-bhumi and the glories of the Vrajavāsīs, then their power and mercy will come to you. You will acquire spiritual energy from svarūpa-śakti.

Śrīla Gurudeva would perform parikramā of Vṛndāvana, Govardhana, Varsānā, Navadvīpa-dhāma and Kṣetra-maṇḍala with the accompaniment of saṅkīrtana and also the presence of Mahāprabhu and the guru-varga. Because of this, none of the pilgrims or brahmacārīs became weak.

Śrīla Gurudeva said, “By performing parikramā and having darśana of the prominent pastime places of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, Mahāprabhu, and the Vaiṣṇavas, great strength will come. Love and affection will awaken in the heart and one will have spiritual energy. One will never be weak, hopeless or tired.”

If one remains with his body and uncontrolled mind while performing parikramā, thinking of worldly people and impermanent things and talking and joking about useless subject matters, then all his strength will be lost. Why is this? You are in Vraja-maṇḍala, Kṛṣṇa’s Līlā-bhūmi, but there you bring only useless things. What is coming from your mouth? Where is your consciousness? You are not in Līlā-bhūmi. You came to Vraja-dhāma, but your nature, mind, culture, behavior and etiquette keep you far away from the dhāma. You are not following the proper principles therefore you offend the dhāma. This is called dhāma-aparādha. If you perform dhāma-aparādha, then the dhāma itself will send you out, saying, “Why did you come here? Why aren’t you glorifying Radha-krsna?”

When someone comes to the dhāma with a negligent or disrespectful mood, then after one or two days he will lose taste for parikramā or any kind of dhāma-sevā. As a result of this, he will become hopeless and weak.

If anyone has a little love, however, if he stays in the dhāma under the guidance of Śrī Guru and the Vaiṣṇavas, serves them, offers them gifts and hears their hari-kathā, then he will receive blessings. The eyes of Śrī Guru and the Vaiṣṇavas will surely fall favorably on that person who comes to the dhāma with a service attitude. They will think, “Oh, he is working so hard,” And their hearts will melt.

Guru and Vaiṣṇavas appreciate any love we can offer to God, His dhāma, and His devotees. If they see this love in us, then they will reciprocate with their own love. The flow of their love will transfer from their hearts to ours.

Once I asked Śrīla Gurudeva, “Every day you are going on parikramā and conducting big feasts. Do you never become tired or weak?”

“No,” Śrīla Gurudeva said. “Why would I? This is service for the Guru-varga. They are always with me, therefore I am never weak or hopeless.”

While Kṛṣṇa and His friends enter the forest, they play flutes, buffalo horns, mṛdaṅgas, shenais and all kinds of musical instruments.

The sakhās chant, Jaya kanhaiya-lal kī!” And “Kṛṣṇa kanhaiyā, dāū ji ke bhaiyā.” Other times they sing, “Jaya govinda, jaya gopāla!”

The sakhās loudly sing the names of Kṛṣṇa, as well as many other different songs. This pleases Kṛṣṇa very much and is a nice offering to Vraja-bhumi.

What benefit will come by staying silent like a dumb man or tree trunk? Why did God give you a voice? Why don’t you sing? Are you some silent sage?

Mahāprabhu said, “In kali-yuga, without saṅkīrtana, the anarthas within will not be cleansed and Kṛṣṇa will not manifest in the heart. Let the singing of Kṛṣṇa’s names fill your ears, or else they will be filled with useless or polluting vibrations. To protect yourself from contaminated sound, perform kṛṣṇa-kīrtana and this will protect you.

If one loudly chants kṛṣṇa-kīrtana, then all bad tendencies and moods that lurk in the heart will vanish. When the senses come in contact with kṛṣṇa-kīrtana, they become surcharged with purity and energy.

The cows cannot sing, but they moo in time with the kīrtana. Animals can also do kīrtana. If you blow a conch shell near a dog there is a good chance that he will howl along with the sound. In Purī we see this. When the pujārīs or temple sevakas play the gongs during ārati, many dogs gather around and howl until the ārati is finished.

Similarly, the calves and cows moo and dance with the sakhās as they do kīrtana. The cows lift up the tails and listen to the singing with their long ears. Often, being deeply attracted by the kīrtana as well as Kṛṣṇa’s presence, they look back, and stop moving forward all together.

The flow of Yamunā wishes to back up in order to stay near Kṛṣṇa. This results in whirlpools that cause the lotuses to be washed up on the bank as offerings. The sakhās collect these lotuses one by one and give them to Kṛṣṇa. Sometimes they collect them and make garlands for Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma or the lotus stems are given for Kṛṣṇa and Baladeva to eat.

Flowers and ripe fruits fall from the trees for the service of Kṛṣṇa. Lush green grass covers the forest floor, also waiting for their service to be accepted by Kṛṣṇa. In the forest, as Kṛṣṇa walks step-by-step on the grass, the cows graze behind Him. If Kṛṣṇa does not touch the grass with His feet, the cows will not eat it. They will accept nothing but Kṛṣṇa’s prasāda. Kṛṣṇa knows this and therefore daily walks through the groves of Vraja. If He did not do this, the cows would not eat or drink.

Kṛṣṇa washes His feet and bathes in the water of the Yamunā, and the cows drink that water. Now, we are independent and feel we do not need prasādam or caraṇāmṛta. We feel we do not need the dust of Vraja and we do not offer obeisance. We do not serve with our bodies, nor perform kīrtana. But we do not realize that our body will be stolen by many enemies. Some come in the form of girlfriends or boyfriends, some like mothers and fathers and so-called relatives. They will make us their slave.

We will allow this to happen. We will be slave of these enemies, but do not want to be the servant of the Vrajavāsīs. As long as this mentality is present, eternal relationship with Vraja-bhumi cannot be had.

If one only takes Kṛṣṇa’s prasāda, he will never become sick. Sanātana Gosvāmī used to daily go from Vṛndāvana to Mathurā, and from there, to Govardhana by foot every day. He would not only go to these places, but perform parikramā of them. After Govardhana parikramā, he would return to Vṛndāvana. But he was never sick or tired.

If this body is used in the service of God, Śrī Guru and the dhāma, then so much spiritual power will come. However, if one simply uses the body for serving mundane people, then he will simply be robbed of his energy. This will lead to no benefit at all. This is only karma.

ātmendriya-prīti-vāñchā—tāre bali ‘kāma’
kṛṣṇendriya-prīti-icchā dhare ‘prema’ nāma
“The desire to gratify one’s own senses is kāma [lust], but the desire to please the senses of Lord Kṛṣṇa is prema [love].”

As Kṛṣṇa and His blissful group of friends and cows leave His home and head to the forest, He looks back and sees His mother, father and the other Vrajavāsīs following Him.

Kṛṣṇa stops and says, “Mother, father, please do not come out in this heat. Your youth is behind you. Do not worry, I will come back in the afternoon. If you don’t stay behind mother, how will you prepare for the evening meal? I’m coming soon. I will walk for a while with the cows, they will graze, drink and bathe and then we will quickly return. Don’t worry. Go back home.”

When Kṛṣṇa stops, so do all the cows and boys.

Nanda and Yaśodā say, “Please don’t go.”

Yaśodā Mātā weeps profusely. All the mothers and fathers weep at the thought of being separated for Kṛṣṇa for so long.

The Vraja-devīs walk shyly at a distance off towards Yāvaṭa to prepare for sūrya-pūjā. Rādhārānī’s face is withdrawn.

The gopīs say, “In our next lives we will be born as cows or sakhās. Then Kṛṣṇa will take us with Him to the forest.”

Breast milk moistens the clothes of Yaśodā Mātā and the other mothers who follow behind Kṛṣṇa. They all weep in anticipated separation.

Yaśodā Mātā is greatly worried for Kṛṣṇa’s safety in the forest.

“I am not alone,” Kṛṣṇa says. “I have thousands of friends with Me, as well as all the cows. Each of these cows has the power to manifest millions of soldiers if they need to.”

Once, the king Viśvāmitra tried to steal the kāmadhenu cow from Vaśiṣṭha Ṛṣi. He asked Vaśiṣṭha, “May I have this cow. I am the king, anything which is good in the state is rightfully mine. ”

“Yes, take her if you like,” said Vaśiṣṭha.

Viśvāmitra’s men went to take the cow who looked at Vaśiṣṭha and said, “I do not want to go with this king. His nature is very rough and hard. Why are you letting him take me.”

Vaśiṣṭha said, “How can I protect you?”

“Can I protect myself?” kāmadhenu asked.

“Yes,” said Vaśiṣṭha.

Then she let out a moo, and suddenly millions of soldiers manifested from her body. They were equipped with tridents, swords, bows and arrows, and they easily routed Viśvāmitra’s army. Viśvāmitra was left alive, but he became very angry.

“Just one of our cows is equal to thousands of kāmadhenus, dear mother,” Kṛṣṇa says. “Do not worry. I am safe with these cows.”

There are cows that are devoid of sukṛti and of tāmasika nature. We see them wandering the streets and eating garbage. But Kṛṣṇa’s cows are not ordinary. They are sādhana-siddhas and nitya-siddhas. The nitya-siddha cows are also rāgātmika Vrajavāsīs and have eternal moods for serving Kṛṣṇa.

“Kṛṣṇa,” Yaśodā Mātā says, “You are so soft and sweet. You have no umbrella and no shoes. How can you walk on top of all the stones, and in the severe heat of the sun? How can we stay in our sheltered homes while You are out in the hot sun, working so hard? My dear son, at least wear shoes and take an umbrella.”

“If you want to give Me shoes and an umbrella, you will have to arrange the same for all My friends and cows. They have no need of these things. If they don’t take these things then why should I? Oh mother, serving the cows is My dharma. I do not want to be a selfish servant.”

Some people think, “I will not serve unless I have all facility. I need helpers and favorable circumstances. Only then I will serve. I need AC, otherwise I will not cook. In reality, if one has no tyāga, or renunciation, then his service is not correct.

Kṛṣṇa says, “Following dharma, without waiting for anything in return, is a pure execution of dharma. If one follows pure dharma, he will be long-lived, famous, and always protected. Dharmo raksati raksitah, dharma protects its protector. The proper execution of dharma results in fearlessness. If in the course of carrying out My dharma, I give the body any even a small facility for enjoyment, then it is not pure dharma.”

Nanda Bābā and Yaśodā Mātā were happy to see Kṛṣṇa’s determination and to hear His knowledge, but they could not help but be worried.

Yaśodā Mātā called Baladeva, Śrīdāma, and other elder sakhās and tolld them, “My son is very restless. I am offering Him into your worthy hands. Please take good care of Him.”

These sakhās have both vātsalya, parental affection, and sakhya moods towards Kṛṣṇa. They perform everything for Kṛṣṇa’s happiness.

Yaśodā Mātā says to them, “Please protect Kṛṣṇa. Don’t let Him do anything independent or dangerous. When you return, you may report to me if He does out of line.”

She gives Kṛṣṇa many kavacas and chants protective mantras on various parts of His body.
Kṛṣṇa says, “Dear mother, please let me go.”

He respectfully touches the feet of His parents, who breathe hard with emotion as if they are losing Him forever. They kiss and caress Kṛṣṇa’s face, and smell His hair.

Yaśodā Mātā prays, “May Nṛsiṁhadeva protect You. May the gods of the sky, earth and forest as well as the guardians of the ten directions watch over You. May they bless You to return home quickly and safely.”

She then embraced Her son and so did Nanda Bābā. Then, they gave permission. “Now You may go.”

Kṛṣṇa and the sakhās again begin to sing and play their musical instruments. They run along the path into the forest and behind them, Yaśodā Mātā looks on and weeps.

As Kṛṣṇa exits the village with His brilliant cows in front of Him, high above, the clouds come together to make a very cooling shade. The air is made sweet by the smell of honey that drips from the trees. The forest welcomes Kṛṣṇa with various presentations and services. The trees have been waiting for Kṛṣṇa to touch them and accept their offerings.

The cuckoos, parrots, peacocks and other birds fly to the tops of the trees, pick fruits and flowers and bring them to Kṛṣṇa. The deer come on the pathways and approach Kṛṣṇa, their hearts captured by His limitless beauty. They come forward, smell Kṛṣṇa’s feet and run back quickly. All the animals accompany Kṛṣṇa into the forest.

The hearts of the young gopīs break as they watch Kṛṣṇa leave. As they watch Him enter the forest they shiver and weeping look as delicate as a doe.

Kṛṣṇa glances at them and says to them with His eyes, “Don’t worry, we will meet in the forest.”

His eyes meet with Śrīmatī Rādhārānī, who glances at Him from the corners of Her eyes, and secretly says, “I will come to meet You at Rādhā-kuṇḍa. Make some excuse and go there.”

Kṛṣṇa begs blessings from Rādhārānī to enter the forest, which She gives despite the great pain of separation in Her heart. Kṛṣṇa thus enters the forest, carrying Rādhārānī’s mind with Him.

Kṛṣṇa looks back one last time. To His surprise He sees that His mother is still following behind Him at a distance. He runs back and says, “Mother, you promised you would not come with Me. Why are you still here? Please don’t come further.”

But how can she return? Her heart and soul is going to the forest, how can her body stay back? Her body moves forward automatically, as if pulled by an unseen line.

Kṛṣṇa says, “Mother, quickly go and make me some drinks. You can send Me something nice to eat for in the forest. Don’t you know? I become very hungry in the forest. Quickly send some nice pīṭha-pānā and laḍḍus.”

He also says, “You must quickly boil the milk so that it doesn’t spoil. Then make many sweets and send them to Me for lunch. If I hear that after preparing lunch, you ate and agreed to take some rest, then I will be happy. Only after hearing this will I eat what you send. Promise Me that you, father and the other elders will all do this.”

Hearing Kṛṣṇa’s sweet request, and crying profusely, Yaśodā Mātā embraces Him repeatedly. She gazes at His face for a long time before finally letting Him go, thinking, “I am not qualified to go with Him.”

[CC-by-NDNC Bhakta Bandhav]

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