Hari-katha inspired by the Guru-varga
We are very lucky to be here today. By the causeless mercy of Guru-pada-padma and the Rupanuga Guruvarga, we are present in Vrndavana dhama observing Urja vrata.
Sastra tells us:
mahat-kripa vina kona karme ‘bhakti’ naya
krishna-bhakti dure rahu, samsara nahe kshaya
—Caitanya Caritamrita Madhya 22.51
Even if God, Guru, and Vaisnavas are with us, still, who is kind enough to manifest everything inside our hearts? Who gives us the power by which we can understand who the Vaisnavas are, and thus respect them properly?
[Upon the visit of Sripad Sridhara Maharaja who is a disciple of Srila Bhakti Vaibhava Puri Gosvami Maharaja, Sripad Premananda Prabhu spoke on Srila Bhakti Vaibhava Puri Maharaja’s glories.]
When I came to Mathura to stay with Gurudeva, I was alone. I left one family, and came to stay in the family of Vaisnavas. We were lucky to have Pujyapada Bhakti Vaibhava Puri Gosvami Maharaja visit us in Mathura; he would often speak harikatha in the evening. Gurudeva would give him the vyasasana and request him to speak. Pujyapada Bhakti Bhudeva Srauti Maharaja, Pujyapada Bhakti Jivana Janardhana Maharaja, Pujyapada Hrisikesa Maharaja, Pujyapada Paramahamsa, Maharaja, Pujyapada Sara Maharaja, and many other Acaryas would come to Mathura. They shared a sweet relationship with Gurudeva. Gurudeva would respect them, and he would tell me to serve them. In this way, I would be able to understand them.
He said, “Unless one respects and serves the family members of God, one can never realize anything.” Therefore, he requested us to serve them. We didn’t serve as a matter of duty. People who serve by force have no love. Guru and Vaisnavas are transcendental power houses. They are the expansions of Svarupa sakti. If you serve them, you will be connected to their power. By their power, you will understand who the Vaisnavas are.
Millions of people came to Mahaprabhu. Mahaprabhu would place them under the guidance of His different associates like Sri Svarupa Damodara, Raghunatha das Gosvami, Vakresvara Pandit, Gopala Guru, and Gadadhara Pandit. No one could understand Mahaprabhu’s mood without taking shelter of His associates.
I never thought that Bhakti Vaibhava Puri Maharaja was not my Gurudeva. He taught me many things. I was a servant in his temple for many months. I would only work and work. Maharaja would call me a karmi, or worker. He would say, “You are running up and down the stairs a thousand times a day. Then, you run to Holi gate, and then to Janma bhumi, like a horse.” I was always working. Therefore, when Maharaja came to see me, he would call me a maha-karmi. But, he had so much love for me. Once, he pulled me to Rajamundry and to Kovur. He also took me to the Caitanya Candrodaya temple in Balesvara. Why? He had unlimited love. I will never be able to define or explain this love. Before, I was with Maharaja. For me, he was my relative, my family. But, I could not understand his nature as a Mahabhagavat, and I would argue with him. I never thought that this could be Vaisnava aparadha, or that this could make a Vaisnava angry.
Sometimes, Maharaja or Pujyapada Janardhana Maharaja or Pujyapada Srauti Maharaja would come and stay for fifteen days or a month in Mathura. Vrndavana only had Caitanya Gaudiya Matha, and Mathura only had our temple. Srila Puri Maharaja would come and give class. His classes were infused with much spiritual power. It was like power coming from the powerhouse. This would purify one, and like the words of the Acaryas, his words would completely transform the heart. Maharaja would close his eyes when he was speaking. He would speak for half an hour, or one hour, without opening his eyes. Sometimes, he would cry, and sometimes he would smile. Sometimes, he spoke without stopping for a long time.
At that time, we didn’t understand the meaning of bhava. When one crosses all anarthas, and comes near the stage of rati, he develops a special mood. Ordinary people do not know who a Vaisnava is. Vaisnavas mercifully make a platform. They clean the heart, and they help someone to understand who a Vaisnava really is. Only Vaisnavas can understand Vaisnavas. But, ordinary people have no intelligence. They cannot understand this.
By the causeless mercy of Pujyapada Bhakti Vaibhava Puri Gosvami Maharaja, he accepted me, and because of this, I never distanced myself from Vaisnavas in my life. He would tell me, “Apart from the Vaisnavas, nothing in this world has any value. They are the family members of God. They are the expansions of God’s body.”
Today, Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja came to visit us. Seeing him, I remember his Guru Maharaja. He had so much love. I can never forget this. When I would go to his matha, he would give me access to the store, the temple, and to the entire temple premises. He would let me cook, offer bhoga, worship the deities, and serve everyone. No one would say anything to me. I could do anything I liked. Also, I could freely go to the temple of Pujyapada Janardhana Maharaja. Vaisnavas don’t see distinctions. They do not have a party spirit. They are the family of God, and they all live together harmoniously. I would not make a difference between disciples of different Acaryas. Mahaprabhu’s movement is very big-hearted.
Maharaja asked me to speak something about Giriraja Govardhana. In the morning, I tried to explain something. There is a question: Why did Krsna worship Giriraja Govardhana, and tell everyone else to also worship him? He told Nanda Baba, Upananda, Sananda, Abhinanda, Nandana, Parjanya, Variyasi, the elders, and everyone to worship Giriraja. Why? Who is Govardhana, and why do we worship him? The Vrajavasis worshiped lord Indra, Siva, and Brahma. Most people worship the demigods. But, Krsna stopped the worship of the demigods, and instructed the Vrajavasis to worship Giriraja Govardhana. The Guruvarga has answered this question many a times. They gave very sweet responses.
In the morning, we heard the conversation between Krsna and Radharani.
He asked Srimati Radharani, “Would You come to Vraja Mandala with Me?”
She said, “No.”
“Why won’t You come?”
“You can go if You like.”
Krsna said, “Please come with Me.”
“I will come if Govardhana and Yamuna-devi come with Me.”
“Everyone will go,” Krsna said.
Srimati came and the sakhis and manjaris also followed Her. Lord Krsna’s sakhas also came. All the Vrajavasis were only engaged in activities that would secure the welfare of Krsna. Durvasa rsi, Sandilya rsi, and all the sages came, but still Srimati was not happy.
She told Krsna, “Where is My Govardhana? He came to Vraja mandala. But there is no respect and love for him. People throw straw, dust, garbage, and cow dung on him, and they step on him. They are using Govardhana as they like, and without respect. Is this the symptom of love? The Vrajavasis are all far from Govardhana.”
Krsna thought about this. Then, He said, “I will arrange a program.”
One day, Krsna asked Nanda Baba, “Baba, who helps and supports us in Vraja-mandala? Who serves us in Vraja-mandala? Who is our good friend? Whoever comes here expects respect and puja. When any of the different rsis come, we offer them puspanjali and bhoga, and when they are pleased, they bless us and leave again. They come to take, but how much do they help the Vrajavasis? Do they always stay with the Vrajavasis? Do they take care of the Vrajavasis? Do they have a relation with Vraja? They come to Vraja, and then leave again. They have no love for the Vrajavasis. They are in the party of Kamsa. We take care of the cows, but Kamsa takes fifty percent of the revenue as tax. He takes milk, butter, paneer, and everything. Why do we give this? Don’t go to these cheaters.
Why do you worship Indra who is a servant? Does he come and accept our service? What does he do? He does his duty as a servant. If he doesn’t do his service, he will be punished by the Lord. Why do you worship him?”
Nanda Maharaja said, “What do You want me to do?”
Krsna said, “We should go to Govardhana. Govardayati iti Govardhana—Giriraja satisfies the desires and increases the bliss of all the Vrajavasis. He has a loving relationship with everyone.”
pramada-madana-lilah kandare kandare te
racayati nava-yunor dvadvam asminn amandam
iti kila kalanartham lagnakas tad-dvayor me
nija-nikata-nivasam dehi govardhana tvam
Govardhana’s heart is the playing center of God, and he gives everyone Vraja-bhakti rasa. Krsna is raso-vai-sah. This rasa is the only way to serve God and the Vrajavasis. The Vrajavasis collect water from Giriraja. When the cows go, they eat there; there is abundant grass there. Waterfalls decorate the surface of Govardhana. Giriraja is in the middle of Vraja, like the tilak of Vraja. Why is he neglected and disobeyed? What is the reason for the neglect of his worship? Did Indra ever come and accept the Vrajavasis’ bhoga; did he bless them?”
Last night it was Dipavali. We heard the meaning. Today morning, Krsna did abhiseka and offered bhoga to Govardhana. Lord Krsna Himself, as tadatma with Giriraja, accepted all the bhoga. In one form, He is there in the form of Giriraja, and as such He accepted all the bhoga. And, He wanted more. He loved to taste the love of the Vrajavasis. When someone gives something with love, it has so much power. However much Krsna took, He wanted more.
Krsna told Giriraja, “We are simple cowherds. Please, be happy with tulasi leaves and water. We have no more food.”
Then, Krsna told the Vrajavasis, “Now, ask for any boon from Giriraja. Whatever you like, you can ask.” The Vrajavasis gave some food and Giriraja accepted it directly. But, did Indra ever come and accept their gifts?
Krsna, the supreme Lord Himself, explained the glories of Giriraja. Radharani was very happy. She said, “Now, people are respecting My Giriraja. He is My dear friend. Unless someone likes My Giriraja Govardhana, he is not My follower; he is My enemy. Vraja-mandala would have no place for such people. If someone does not like Yamuna-devi, or Giriraja Govardhana, he cannot be considered a Vrajavasi.”
Indra became angry. He said, “Now, you are worshiping a hill? I will teach you a lesson. Why are the Vrajavasis following this cowherd boy?”
Krsna said, “You are a servant in Vraja. You should sweep and clean Vraja. I arranged the demigods to serve.”
na kinkaro nayam rini ca rajan
sarvatmana yah saranam saranyam
gato mukundam parihritya kartam
The Vrajavasis are not the servants of anyone. Demigods are supposed to serve the followers of God. If they don’t serve, they are suspended. Krsna made them angry. They all came, and washed Vraja-mandala for seven days and nights. Then, Giriraja became effulgent. There was no more dust or dirt covering Govardhana. Everything was gone. Before, Giriraja was lying down, being sad because he could not serve the Vrajavasis. Then, he stood up seven kilometers high, with seven stories. All the Vrajavasis came inside his heart, and he fed and maintained everyone for seven days. The Vrajavasis gave a little grain, but he gave water, food, and places to stay for the cows, and all the Vrajavasis. The old, the young, and indeed, everyone were sheltered by Giriraja Govardhana. For seven days and nights, the Vrajavasis were with Krnsa and Giriraja. Giriraja became very pleased. Wherever the power of Svarupa sakti is present, everyone will become happy and pleased.
Nityananda Prabhu instructed Raghunatha, “Serve the Vaisnavas.” Then, thousands of Vaisnavas took prasada.
The Vrajavasis have this love. Whoever wants to serve the Vrajavasis will never have any problems in life. Krsna showed how Giriraja was the dearest friend, and the family member of the Vrajavasis. And, Krsna showed how he was their guardian and protector. He said, “Don’t go anywhere else for shelter. Come to Giriraja, do parikrama, bathe him, offer bhoga, give him whatever you have. Giriraja will accept it. He is ours.” From that day until now, Giriraja has been offered abhiseka and puja. In the homes of the Vrajavasis, they make hills out of cow dung and worship Giriraja. If they cannot go all the way to Govardhana, then they make Govardhana in their own homes. The Vrajavasis say, “I took all the dung from my cows, and then wealth came out of the dung.” ‘Govar’ means cow dung, and ‘dhana’ means wealth. From the cow dung, great wealth has come out. In their homes, they made Giriraja Govardhana from cow dung. There, they offer bhoga, incense, and lamps. The Vrajavasis are very simple hearted. They say dhana comes from govar.
But, Krsna says, “Ananda vardaiti so ca Govardhana—Govardhana is the one who increases the bliss of the gopas and gopis.”
The Vrajavasis say, “We don’t understand your language, Krsna. We know dhana, our wealth, came out of out govar, cow dung.” They thought that the greatest wealth is inside the cow dung. Therefore, they collect this dung; make dry patties, and then garlands. You can see in the Vrajavasis’ homes how they take small cow dung patties and make them into necklaces and bangles. In the evening, the Vrajavasis offer tilaka, flowers, lamps, and so forth to Giriraja.
Krsna did everything for the happiness of Srimati Radharani. When Giriraja was pleased, and everyone was happy, then Srimati Radharani became happy. Giriraja has a kunja called rati-keli kunja. In that kunja, there are tunnels to Nandagrama, Varsana, and Yavata. Sometimes, Raghava Pandit stayed in these caves. There are so many caves and kunjas where Radha and Krsna perform their intimate pastimes. If you meditate on Govardhana-vasa-prathana-dasakam, you will have these pastimes enter your heart.
[CC-by-NDNC Bhakta Bandhav]