Bhakta Bandhav Srila Gurudeva, Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja, speaking on the festival of Vasanta Pancami and the appearances of Srimati Visnupriya Devi, and Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, on that day.
In India, there are many festivals held for the worship of Lord Krsna. There the year is divided into six seasons, each lasting two months. Among the six seasons, the most glorious is Vasanta, Spring. The Vasanta season is very pleasant, for the weather is neither too hot nor too cold at that time. An abundance of fragrant flowers, like beli, cameli, jui and others bloom everywhere, and flowers such as ratkerani (night queen) bloom even at night. Rivers like Ganges and Yamuna are especially clean and pure at that time, looking as though they are simply waiting for Sri Sri Radha and Krsna, and the lands in many places look like yellow carpets because they are full with varieties of yellow flowers. Krsna’s garments are also yellow, because His most beloved Srimati Radhika has a yellowish-golden complexion and He wants to be always embraced by Her.
Today is Vasanta-Pancami, the beginning of the Vasanta season, at which time the Rasa Dance of Krsna was performed in Govardhana, in the village of Parasauli, by the lake known as Candra Sarovara.
At that time the gopis were dancing with Krsna for the duration of a night that became billions of years; it became as long as one entire day of Brahma. On that night the moon stood still, not moving from its best view of the sight of the dancing of Radhika and all Her sakhis with Lord Krsna. Such beautiful pastimes were born from an ocean of rasas (sweet, transcendental mellow tastes), saturated with unlimited happiness.
In Saradiya, the autumn season, the Rasa Dance was performed in Vrndavana, under the shade of the Vamsivata tree, in the beginning of Kartika month. All classes of gopis participated in that Saradiya rasa-yatra, whereas in this Govardhana Vasanti-rasa, only the highest class of gopis were allowed to participate. In this Spring Rasa Dance, Lord Krsna openly demonstrated the prominence and superiority of Srimati Radhika.
Krsna disappeared in the midst of this Vasanti Rasa Dance, and all the gopis were bitterly crying, “Where is Krsna? Where is Krsna?” The gopis searched for Him everywhere, and after some time they saw Him in His four-handed form, standing like a statue. Coming nearer, they said, “Oh, He looks like Krsna, but at the same time He is not Krsna. Our Krsna is not four-handed. Where is His flute, His peacock feather, and all His other apparel gone? He now carries a conch shell, disc, club, and lotus flower – in four hands!” They prayed to him, “We are very attached to Krsna, and we are searching for Him. We will die without Him. If you are Narayana, please be merciful and tell us which way He went. Be merciful so that we may find Him.” Then, after praying in this way, they left and went on their way.
When Srimati Radhika was arriving after the other gopis had left that place, the breeze that had just touched Her veil carried so much fragrance from Her body that it entered the nostril of Krsna and He thought, “Oh, My most beloved is near.” He forgot that He was supposed to maintain His four-handed form, and He could no longer hide His original form. Two hands disappeared at once, entering His body, and His original two-armed form reappeared – with His flute in His hands and His peacock feather atop His head.
rasarambha-vidhau niliya vasata kunje mrgaksi-ganair
drstam gopayitum svam uddhura-dhiya ya susthu sandarsita
radhayah pranayasya hanta mahima yasya sriya raksitum
sa sakya prabhavisnunapi harina nasic catur-bahuta
[“At the beginning of the Rasa Dance, Lord Krsna hid Himself in a grove just to have fun. When the gopis came, their eyes resembling those of deer, by His sharp intelligence He exhibited His beautiful four-armed form to hide Himself. But when Srimati Radharani came there, He could not maintain His four arms. This is the wonderful glory of Her love.” (a quotation from the Ujjvala-nilamani by Srila Rupa Gosvami, as quoted in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Adi 17.293)]
When Krsna sees Radhika, His most beloved and the embodiment of all love and affection, He forgets everything else. She is no one other than Krsna. She is Krsna Himself, but in the body of Radhika.
In this way, Krsna returned to His own form and quickly embraced Her. This occurred in vasanti-rasa-lila.
In the chapter of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta called Raya Ramananda Samvad, Srila Caitanya Mahaprabhu questioned Sri Raya Ramananda Prabhu, “What is our sadhya (perfection) and our sadhana (the process to achieve that perfection)?” Raya Ramananda replied, beginning from varnasrama-dharma. He told Mahaprabhu, “According to the adherents of varnasrama-dharma, to be in family life and pursue varnasrama-dharma (the execution of the religious duties of the different castes and statuses of life), in order to please Krsna, is the best process to please Him.” Mahaprabhu rejected this and said, “In varnasrama there is no pure relationship between the soul and Krsna.” After that, Raya Ramananda suggested, “One should offer the fruits of all his activities to the lotus feet of Krsna,” but Mahaprabhu rejected this also, and said, “This is external; go further.”
After that Raya Ramananda said, “One should take shelter of the lotus feet of Krsna,” and he quoted a verse from Bhagavad-gita: “Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.” (Bhagavad-gita 18.66)] Krsna is saying here, “If you take the shelter of My lotus feet, you will be happy forever.” People all over the world think that this is the essence of the Bhagavad-gita, but Mahaprabhu rejected it as external and therefore not the ultimate goal of life, and He told Raya Ramananda, “Go on; continue further.
Raya Ramananda then suggested karma-jnana-misra-bhakti (devotion contaminated by mental speculation and the desire to enjoy the fruits of one’s actions), and he uttered the verse: “One who is transcendentally situated by realizing the impersonal brahma never laments or desires to have anything. He is equally disposed toward every living entity. He has the opportunity to realize the Supreme Brahman and become fully joyful if he attains pure devotional service unto Me.”(Bhagavad-gita 18.54)]
Sriman Mahaprabhu also rejected both concepts – karma-jnana-misra-bhakti and brahma-bhutah – because they are devoid of pure devotion, and after that Raya Ramananda gradually came to the topic of prema-bhakti. Mahaprabhu replied to this, “This may be the stage of perfection, but please go further.” Raya Ramananda then discussed dasya, sakya, and vatsalya-prema (love for Krsna in the moods of servant, friend, and parent) and Mahaprabhu said, “Oh, very good, very good! But please continue further.” In bhakti-rasa (intimate devotion to Krsna while thinking oneself in a relationship with Him as an ordinary cowherd boy), Krsna is not anyone’s father or mother. In the understanding of pure bhakti, the Supreme Lord cannot be anyone’s father or a mother – He may only be a son. We can serve Krsna in any of four relationships, but if we think that He is our father or mother, we cannot serve Him, because fathers and mothers serve their children.
After hearing about these relationships, Caitanya Mahaprabhu told Raya Ramananda, “Please speak further,” and Raya Ramananda then said, “Gopi-prema (serving Krsna as a beloved) is the highest attainment, and among the gopis Srimati Radhika is the best. When Mahaprabhu asked Raya Ramananda to give an example of a pastime that reveals Radhika’s supremacy, Raya Ramananda first gave the example of Saradiya rasa-lila. He said, “All the gopis were dancing with Krsna, and it appeared that one gopi danced between each two Krsna’s and one Krsna danced between each two gopis. Billions of gopis were dancing together with Krsna, but all of a sudden He disappeared. Why did He disappear? He did so to please Radhika. He took Her with Him, and no one knew where He or His beloved had gone.”
Mahaprabhu then expressed His doubt: “Because Krsna met with Radhika after His disappearance from the Rasa Dance, it seems that He was fearing all the other gopis. If He openly gives up all the gopis, leaving with Radhika in front of them all, then only it will be shown that the love of Radhika is the highest.”
Sri Raya Ramananda then explained about this vasanti-rasa. He said, “Krsna was dancing with billions of gopis, and meanwhile Radhika thought, ‘Krsna always promises: “You are My most beloved.” But I see that He is dancing with Me and all the other gopis as well; so perhaps we are all equal in His eyes.’ At that time Radhika adopted a sulky mood and became somewhat angry. She thus left the Rasa Dance in front of all the other gopis, and Krsna followed Her.
“Krsna was thinking, ‘If Radhika is not here, there can be no Rasa. There can be no meaning to the Rasa. I am performing rasa-lila only for Radhika. She is My half, My whole, My guru and My servant; She is everything to Me. She is My life and soul. In vasanti-rasa, Krsna declared this openly.”
Mahaprabhu then said, “Oh, this is good!” and He questioned further, “I want to know about krsna-tattva, radha-tattva, prema-tattva, and rasa-tattva from you.” When Raya Ramananda began to deeply describe these topics, however, Mahaprabhu stopped him and said, “Don’t say anymore. These subject matters are so elevated that there is no one in this world qualified to hear them. If you continue to speak about them, I will at once enter the mood of Krsna and I will have to give up this form of Sacinandana Gaurahari.” Raya Ramananda then stopped speaking.
For us, today is the observance of the anniversary celebration of that very same vasanti-rasa, and for Krsna this rasa is going on eternally. All of His pastimes are eternally manifest in Goloka Vrndavana, and He also displays them throughout innumerable universes as He appears in one universe after another. Here in vasanti-rasa, Krsna declared openly, “My super-most beloved is Srimati Radhika.”
There is no difference between Srimati Radhika and Lord Krsna. Krsna manifested Radhika from His left side. If we can make Radhika happy, then Krsna will be happy and He will be controlled quite easily; and this is the purpose of our observance of vasanti-rasa.
The Appearance Day of Srimati Visnupriya-devi
Today is also the birthday of Visnu-priya devi – the wife – the power – the energy – of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. She is one of the manifestations of Srimati Radhika, she is especially a manifestation of Satyabhama, and she is the Supreme Lord’s Bhu-sakti.* She had great love and affection for Sacinandana Gaurahari and was married to Him for many years; but Mahaprabhu was always absorbed in Radha’s mood, calling out, “Alas, Krsna! Alas, Krsna!” and He had no time to talk with her. Though they were in one family, in one house, He was always absorbed in the ecstasies of Srimati Radhika. Thus, He was sometimes falling down and rolling on the earth, sometimes crying, and sometimes singing loudly like a mad person.
“In the stage of love of Godhead, the devotee is fixed in his vow as an eternal servant of the Lord, and he becomes very much attached to a particular name and form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As his heart melts with ecstatic love, he laughs very loudly or cries or shouts. Sometimes he sings and dances like a madman, for he is indifferent to public opinion.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.2.40)]
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was always acting in this way, and continually weeping. If you want to develop love for Krsna, you will have to follow Caitanya Mahaprabhu and always weep for Krsna. We see that He was weeping throughout His life, from the beginning. This increased further when He took sannyasa and left everything to go to Jagannatha Puri, and it increased still further after He met with Raya Ramananda.
Although Visnu-priya devi was married to Mahaprabhu in His family life, He hardly ever spoke with her, especially when He returned from Gaya, where He took harinama and diksa initiation from His Gurudeva, Sri Isvara-puripada. His personality changed at that time. He was no longer known as Nimai Pandita. Now He became known as Bhavuka Nimai, Nimai who is always absorbed in His ecstatic moods of krsna-prema.
At this time, however, some of the inhabitants of Navadvipa, especially the students and His former teachers in the schools, became somewhat unfavorable towards Him and wanted to control Him. Mahaprabhu thought, “I came to give the supreme medicine for everyone’s material disease, but these persons quarrel with Me and insult Me. I should take sannyasa, the renounced order of life, for then they will weep for Me* [See Endnote 2], and thus I will immerse the whole world – including mayavadis like Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya and Prakasananda Sarasvati – in krsna-prema.” This is one of the reasons Caitanya Mahaprabhu took sannyasa.
On the day He decided to take sannyasa, Visnu-priya devi went to bathe in the Ganges. While she was on the way there, she accidentally stubbed her toe on a stone, and it was injured and bled. Then, while she was in the midst of bathing there, the nose-ring she had received on her marriage day and which is very auspicious for a wife, fell in the Ganges. Although she searched for it with great endeavor, She could not find it. She began to weep bitterly, “Why are all these things happening today?” Later, when She returned home, Saci Mata asked her, “Oh my daughter, why you are weeping so?” She replied, “Today I went to bathe in the Ganges. My foot was injured and I lost the nose-ring of my marriage day. I don’t know what is to be my fate.” Her mother tried to console her.
Although Caitanya Mahaprabhu had previously paid practically no attention to her, that night, after taking some prasadam, He decorated her hair and placed betel nuts in her mouth. That morning He had gone to visit and meet with all His associates. He had procured some milk and He had also gotten a loki vegetable from Sridhara, with whom He would always jokingly quarrel. When He returned home in the evening He told Saci Mata, “Mother, please make a lak-laki preparation from these, adding sugar, ghee, camphor and other ingredients, and offer it to Lord Krsna.” He later honored that prasada, after which He entered the room of Visnu-priya devi like a luxurious person, in royal dress, as one would dress for a wedding ceremony. Then, with love and affection He asked her, “O, how are you?” He decorated her, gave her a beautiful garland, placed betel nuts in her mouth, and engaged in loving conversation with her.
Visnu-priya began thinking, “What am I seeing? A hurricane light, which burns with kerosene oil, burns brightly when it is just about to be extinguished. It makes the sounds ‘buk buk’, then ‘tuk’, and then it becomes dark; it’s finished. I see now that my fate may be like this. Considering what happened this morning, and seeing how He is decorating me so lavishly, giving me betel nuts and saying with flattering words, ‘My dear-most beloved’, I wonder what is my fate. Why is He doing this?”
In the meantime, Yogamaya came and entered Visnu-priya’s eyes in the form of sleepiness. She did not want to fall asleep, but by the power of Yogamaya she was forced to do so. Caitanya Mahaprabhu glanced at her once, and then stood up to leave home and take sannyasa.
Without giving up everything in this world, how can one love Lord Krsna totally? If your love and affection is divided between many persons, situations and objects, how you can you love Krsna? We have seen that in India, exalted devotees like Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami and Srila Rupa Gosvami, and also Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself, quickly gave up their positions, wealth, reputation, father, mother, wife and children. Weeping for Krsna, they left their homes and took sannyasa, not remembering their homes or families at all, and always remembering, “Krsna! Krsna! Krsna!”
When Mahaprabhu was coming out of His home, He saw His mother standing like a dried-up statue, with no tears in her eyes. She couldn’t even think of what to do. Air was coming and going from her nostrils, but she had no external consciousness at all – for Mahaprabhu, by His power of Yogamaya, was controlling her. Mahaprabhu did parikrama of His mother three or four times, touched her lotus feet, and told her, “Mother I am going to search for My beloved Krsna.” Then, in the middle of that cold and dark night, He jumped in the Ganges, calling out “Oh Krsna!” He came out on the other side of the river, in Kantaka Nagari, and there He went to see Kesava Bharati to take sannyasa from him.
After accepting the sannyasa order, Mahaprabhu went to Jagannatha Puri, and from Puri He returned to Navadvipa on the way to Vrndavana. While there, all the residents came from here and there by boat and other conveyances to see Sacinandana Gaurahari. Even dogs and blind persons came, and Saci Mata also came.
Everyone was present except Visnu-priya. Why was she not allowed to come? This is the symptom of love and affection for Krsna. If you will give up your dear-most object for Krsna, this is the symptom that you have some love and affection for Him. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu taught this by His own example, and for this reason Visnu-priya was not there. Everyone else was allowed to come, but she was not.
What was she doing? She was weeping continuously. She was more attached to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu than anyone else was, and she was more detached from worldly things than even Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself. She maintained her life by taking some grains of rice, one by one, and using them as counting beads as she continually chanted, “Hare Krsna Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare.” Every time she completed the utterance of these sixteen words, she picked up one grain of rice and placed it on a pile. She would wash the rice grains, one by one, with the water of her tears as she chanted until midday, and then she would cook that rice with some vegetables. She would then give the bhoga to Mother Saci, who would offer it to her Deity, Narayana. After that she would eat very little of it, remembering the pastimes of Sacinandana. Her life was totally absorbed in Lord Krsna and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and she chanted Hare Krsna day and night. After some time Mahaprabhu somehow gave her a Deity of Himself, made from neem wood, and that Deity is being worshiped in Navadvipa up to the present day. Visnu-priya used to worship that Deity, weeping bitterly and talking with Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and He would also speak to her in the form of that Deity.
Saci Mata also remembered Caitanya Mahaprabhu always. She used to offer Him prasadam, and He used to come to her house and eat it – although she thought His coming was only her imagination or only a vision. He was bound to come – bound by the love and affection of Saci Mata and Visnu-priya devi.
If one wants to serve Mahaprabhu or Radha-Krsna, he must be like Visnu-priya. She was much more renounced than anyone else, including Mahaprabhu. He was renounced, but not like her. Also, He was always surrounded by so many bhaktas who consoled Him, but she had none to console her.
Today is birthday of Visnu-priya, who is the embodiment of prema-bhakti. She is prema-bhakti itself.
Visnu-priya devi ki Jaya!
[Question:] Gurudeva, you said Visnu-priya devi is Bhu-sakti. So is she like Laxmi?
[Srila Gurudeva:] No, she is like Satyabhama.
[Question:] But we hear that Navadvipa-dhama is non-different from Vraja.
[Srila Gurudeva:] Yes
[Question:] How can Satyabhama be in Vraja-lila?
[Gurudeva:] Radhika has come as Gadadhara Pandita, and Sri Svarupa Damodara and Sri Raya Ramananda have come as Lalita and Visakha. The associates of Nrsimhadeva, Ramacandra, and all other incarnations have also come to Navadvipa, because Sacinandana Gaurahari includes all incarnations. All incarnations are within Him. So Satyabhama may also come to Navadvipa-lila and have the association of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
[Question:] Is this also true in Svetadvipa (Navadvipa in Goloka Vrndavana?* [See Endnote 3]
[Srila Gurudeva:] Yes, they all can be there also. Everything exists in Krsna, as stated in the Vedanta Sutra: Viruddha dharmam tasmin na cittram – all mutually contradictory characteristics exist harmoniously in Lord Krsna’s pastimes, and Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Krsna Himself.
[Question:] So we worship Visnu-priya devi and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in the path of arcana – following the principles of sravanam kirtanam, visnu-smaranam, pada sevanam (hearing, chanting, remembering and praying, etc.) in a regulative way, in awe and reverence?
[Srila Gurudeva:] Yes, one serves Visnu-priya devi and Mahaprabhu in arcana-marga (the path of regulative worship), and he serves Gaura-Gadadhara in bhava-marga, that is hearing, chanting, etc. in spontaneous love, following in the footsteps of the gopis.
The Appearance Day of Srila Raghunatha das Gosvami
Today is also the birthday of Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami. If you want to become pure devotees, you will have to follow Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami. You want to follow, but you are weak – as Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja says, “Mr. Dog, Mr. Hog, Mr. Pig.” – and some are like camels, tigers or bears. We must try to follow Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami. He was wealthy and he was situated in a high position, but he left everything for Krsna and continually cried, “O Krsna, O Sacinandana Gaurahari.” By the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu he quickly received the shelter of Mahaprabhu. Hardly eating anything but somehow maintained his life, He went to Vrndavana after Mahaprabhu departed, and he lived at Radha-kunda.
Without the mercy of the guru you cannot have love and affection for Krsna or Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Guru-krpa (guru’s mercy) is essential, and guru-nistha (faith in guru) is the backbone of all kinds of bhakti. When Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami received the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu, all his problems and obstacles quickly disappeared, and he was able to leave home to be with Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Performance of bhajana in one’s house, while still living with one’s father, mother, wife, and husband, is one kind of bhajana, but that kind of bhajana cannot give the fruit of love and affection for Krsna. One day you will have to thoroughly give this up.
The first symptom of real bhakti, achieved by the austerities of chanting and remembering Krsna, is causeless knowledge and detachment from this world. You will surely become renounced, whether you are in worldly life or in the renounced order. If you are chanting seriously and perfectly, renunciation is bound to come. We have heard that when Guru Nanak (the saint in India who founded the Sikh religion) was young, his father told him, “Go to the market and bring back the ingredients we need to sell at our shop.” On the way to the market he came upon many Vaisnavas and sadhus. Seeing that there was no management of prasadam for them, he quickly went to the market and bought all the paraphernalia needed to make a festival for them, and for that purpose he spent all his father’s money. He later returned home empty-handed, and his father asked, “Where are the ingredients I told you to buy – the rice, dahl, ghee and other things?”
Guru Nanak replied, “I did the shopping, but I have given all the goods for the service of Vaisnavas. In this way I have done some very good shopping for my future life and for the benefit of my whole dynasty.” He had so much strong belief in Krsna; he knew that if one serves Krsna, Krsna will give him everything he needs. We do not have this same belief, and therefore it is even very hard for us to give a penny. Some persons can give some of their wealth, but he gave everything.
Because Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami was chanting and remembering Krsna, having been spiritually brought up by Srila Haridasa Thakura and initiated by Sri Yadunandana Acarya, some good effect was bound to come. He became detached from the world, and he considered Krsna to be his father, his mother, and his everything. All tattvas (established philosophical truths) came in his heart, and he quickly left his home and beautiful wife. He was the only son of his father, who was as wealthy as a king, and his wife was as beautiful as Miss Universe. It would have been very hard for an ordinary person to give up such luxuries.
After leaving home, Raghunatha dasa did not travel on the main road. Hiding, he went on the village route, not eating anything except some puffed rice and some milk, and a journey of one month passed quickly in 12 days. At that time there were no trains or cars, but he ran quickly, without taking any time to bathe.
When he came in Jagannatha Puri he did not go to see Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra. He came directly to the assembly of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who was surrounded by many associates like Svarupa Damodara and Raya Ramananda. Someone told Mahaprabhu, “Raghunatha has come,” and Mahaprabhu quickly embraced him and said, “O Raghunatha, you have just come from the ditch of stool.” Some time before, Mahaprabhu had told him to return home, but now He said, “All worldly life is like stool, and Krsna is so merciful that He delivered you and you have come out from that house.” Mahaprabhu then placed him in the hands of Sri Svarupa Damodara, and Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami thus began a transcendental life; always hearing from Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Sri Svarupa Damodara, Srila Rupa Gosvami, Sri Pundarika Vidyanidhi, Sri Vakresvara Pandita, Sri Gopal Guru, and Srila Haridasa Thakura.
The life history of Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami is one of the jewels in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, and moreover, much of what Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja wrote in Caitanya-caritamrta he had heard from the lotus mouth of Raghunatha dasa Gosvami. Try to remember his life and character. If you do, a power will enter within you and you will be able to become a devotee like him – whether you are in worldly life or renounced life. Try to be like him. We cannot be like him without help, and therefore we pray to Nityananda Prabhu to help us.