[Hari-katha inspired by the Guru-varga]
In this life we are all waiting and praying for the mercy of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, Śrī Śrī Rādhā Vinoda Bihārī, Śrī Vraja Maṇḍala, Yamunā-devī, Vṛndā-devī, Girīrāja Govardhana and the guru-varga. They distribute the sweetest vraja-rasa. In this life we are waiting for their mercy. They are very kind and will help. They will give mercy but there is one condition.
It is said, “Milk, go rasa, and alcohol, soma-rasa, are not equal.”
Milk and alcohol are not equal and can’t be taken at the same time. They are both rasa, but not rasam alayam. One gives a very quick result and one is slower. Don’t think that a very quick result will come when following bhakti. Bhakti-devī gives real help, but She doesn’t show. She arranges to make everything favorable for aspirants, giving all facility. If She sees that anything is wrong, She won’t disturb, if one is going a wrong way She won’t give punishment. How does She change one? She makes friendship, coming nearby, very slowly She changes our bad nature and helps. Her help is very sweet.
Every year, Śrīla Gurudeva would go on Śrī Vraja Maṇḍala Parikramā with many sannyāsīs, brahmacārīs, gṛhasthas and other Vaiṣṇavas. Sannyāsīs and devotees from different societies had great faith in Śrīla Gurudeva and his non-sectarian spirit; they would all come together and perform Śrī Vraja Maṇḍala Parikramā. The devotees would walk from place to place and bags, luggage and cookware were carried by bull cars and horse cars.
In 1978, a very large parikramā party went on Śrī Vraja Maṇḍala Parikramā together. After that time for a few years there would be a smaller party. In 1978 there was a large group of devotees from many areas. There were 35 sannyāsīs and many brahmacārīs. Many senior gṛhastha disciples of Prabhupāda Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī and other Vaiṣṇavas were present as well. Among the sannyāsīs was Śrīla Gurudeva, Śrīla Trivikrama Gosvāmī Mahārāja, Śrīla Janārdana Gosvāmī Mahārāja, Śrīla Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja, Hrsikesh Mahārāja, Dāmodara Mahārāja, Vishnu Mahārāja and many others. I was there collecting bhoga, marketing, cooking and looking after other services. I never went for darśana with the party.
For three nights the parikramā party stayed in the temples surrounding Bimala-kuṇḍa in the forest of Kāmyavana. From there the parikramā party traveled from place to place during the day, and in the evening returned and there was hari-kathā and kirtana performed at Bimala-kuṇḍa.
The parikramā party walked to many places during the day such as Setubandha Rāmeśvara Kuṇḍa, Jal-vihāra Kuṇḍa, Jal-krīḍā Kuṇḍa, Luk-lukī Kuṇḍa, Govinda Kuṇḍa, Phisalanī Śilā, Vyomāsura’s cave, Bhojana Thālī and Kāmeśvara Mahādeva.
Pūjyapāda Śrīla Janārdana Mahārāja was a very rasika rāgānuga-bhakta and senior disciple of Prabhupāda Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. He was from Odisha, but spoke fluent Bengali and Hindi. He was elderly, heavy set and had difficulty walking. One day he called me, “Prema, come here!”
Śrīla Gurudeva, my Guru Mahārāja, Śrīla Janārdana Mahārāja, Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja–-no one ever called me by name, they would call me by different nicknames. Now also, in Mathurā, Vṛndāvana, no one says my name. Śrīla Janārdana Mahārāja and Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja called me only, “Prema.”
Śrīla Janārdana Mahārāja called me nearby and said, “No one likes me.”
I was surprised, “What do you mean?”
“Please take me to Bhojana Thali, I can’t walk so far, I desire to take mahā-prasāda there, then my body will never have any desire for bhoga, enjoyment. This desire will be finished and desire will only come for Kṛṣṇa’s bhoga, Kṛṣṇa’s mahā-prasāda.”
I said, “But Mahārāja, you are always taking mahā-prasāda.”
He joined Prabhupāda Sarasvatī Ṭhākura’s Gauḍīya-maṭha when he was 7 years old and had taken mahā-prasāda his entire life.
He said, “No, I will go to Bhojana Thali, offer bhoga and then take Kṛṣṇa’s prasādam there. Kṛṣṇa is there present and He eats and feeds everybody there.”
He told, “At Bhojana Thali the Vraja-devīs and Śrīmatī Rādhikā make plates and bowls with their own hands and gave bhoga to Kṛṣṇa and the sakhās there. Kṛṣṇa took and was very pleased and gave benediction that whoever came to Śrī Vraja Maṇḍala and offered bhoga to him and took his mahā-prasāda, whether animal, human or demigod, by taking His mahā-prasāda they would never be restless or desire to take any bhoga or any other’s remnants. All material desires, hunger and thirst will go and transcendental desires will come.”
I took Śrīla Janārdana Mahārāja by a motorized rickshaw to Bhojana Thali were the parikramā party was present.
Śrīla Gurudeva saw me and was very angry. I said, “What is my fault, why are you angry?”
“Why did you come here!” Śrīla Gurudeva said, “All Vaiṣṇavas are going there for prasāda, who is making all the arrangements!”
I said, “I only quickly brought Pūjyapāda Janārdana Mahāraja and now I will go back.”
Śrīla Janaradana Mahārāja requested me to stay to help him return back. “Prema,” he said, “if you go, then who will take care of me?”
I whispered to him, “Oh Mahārāja, sit here, when the parikramā party leaves, I will come and bring you back. Don’t worry.”
My nature is always to be crooked. I ran quickly back to Bimala-kuṇḍa. When the parikramā party was leaving, Śrīla Gurudeva asked Śrīla Janārdana Mahārāja, “Are you coming?”
Janārdana Mahārāja was sitting in one place, and he said, “Yes, yes, I’m coming after I sit for a minute or two.”
Śrīla Gurudeva left with the party. After cooking and all arrangements were completed, I brought a motorized rickshaw and brought him back. We arrived back at Bimala-kuṇḍa before the parikramā party. When Śrīla Gurudeva returned he asked Janārdana Mahārāja, “How have you returned so quickly? You left last, and got here first, how is that possible?”
Janārdana Mahārāja said in jest, “This is prema’s policy.”
Śrīla Janārdana Mahārāja had no attachment or relationship with his body. He would walk, never watching at stones on the path. He would weep, sweat and his hairs would stand on end while going on parikramā. He never watched where he put his feet. I saw that his feet were all cut and bleeding from thorns and stones on the path and I was very disturbed. I ripped a piece off my dhotī, took some medicinal grass, pasted it with a stone and applied a salve on his wounds, binding it with the piece of cloth. In the evening time Śrīla Janārdana Mahārāja was giving class. All devotees asked what the injury and bandage was on his feet.
He said, “There is no problem, but I know one person who cut his cloth and used it to bind my feet.”
I can’t ever forget his mercy. I only gave a little service and piece of cloth, but he accepted this service as something great. Guru and Vaiṣṇavas are so kind.
Śrīla Janārdana Mahārāja told me, “Day and night you are only working; you are never remembering any ślokas.”
I said, “I have no intelligence, what will I memorize, when will I have time to read?”
He instructed me, “Today you must remember the 108 names of Śrīmatī Rādhika and then come and tell them to me tomorrow morning.”
“This isn’t possible, I never learn verses!”
“No! You must. These are special prayers to Śrīmatī Rādhika. Memorize them and then recite them daily in prayer.”
I said, “Okay, only by your mercy will this be possible.” Then he blessed me with his hand on my head.
I went to the market, cooked, cleaned the pots, distributed prasādam, but with the paper in my hand always. While serving I would look at the paper over and over.”
By the next morning I had somehow memorized everything, over thirty verses.
He was pleased and gave blessings. Guru and Vaiṣṇavas mercy and blessings aren’t ordinary. If they are pleased then anything is possible.
‘īśvara-svabhāva’—bhaktera nā laya aparādha
alpa-sevā bahu māne ātma-paryanta prasāda
Caitanya-caritamrta Antya 2.108
The Personality of Godhead does not take seriously an offense committed by his devotee. The Lord accepts whatever small service a devotee renders as being such a great service that He is prepared to give even Himself, what to speak of other benedictions.
Śrīla Gurudeva later asked me, “Did Mahārāja (Janārdana Mahārāja) give you a lot of blessings?”
Śrīla Gurudeva joked, “Will you give me a share. I don’t get a chance to serve him.”
I was astonished, “What is Gurudeva saying?”
Whenever I would go to massage Śrīla Gurudeva he would joke and tease me.
One night when we were staying in Bimala-kuṇḍa during this time, Śrīla Gurudeva asked, “This is Kāmyavana, Kāmeśvara Mahādeva resides here and fulfills all desires. You have so many desires, don’t you?”?
I said, “Yes.”
Śrīla Gurudeva said, “You are always thinking about cauliflower, malpua and potatoes. Is this your desire?”
“Yes, tomorrow I will cook so many things and distribute it to all the devotees.”
“Hey! Don’t ask Kāmeśvara Mahādeva only for potatoes and cauliflower.”
“But this is what I like, I will go to the market and collect big, big cauliflowers and potatoes, and ingredients for cooking malpua. This is my desire, I will distribute nice praśadam to all the Vaiṣṇavas.”
Then Śrīla Gurudeva would speak hari-kathā as he was laying to rest at night and explain what one should pray to Kāmeśvara Mahādeva to fulfill.
One time at Kāmyavana, Śrīla Janārdana Mahārāja asked Śrīla Gurudeva, “Oh Mahārāja, you give wonderful classes, but please tell me your opinion on this topic, ‘can Śiva Ṭhākura bestow vraja-bhakti?’
Śrīla Gurudeva replied, “Yes, certainly, Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura prays:
vṛndāvanāvani-pate! jaya soma soma-maule
prema prayaccha nirupādhi namo namas te
(Saṅkalpa kalpadruma 103, Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura)
O gatekeeper of Vṛndāvana! O Soma, all glories to you! O you whose forehead is decorated with the moon, and who is worshipable for the sages headed by Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanātana and Nārada! O Gopīśvara! Desiring that you bestow upon me prema for the lotus feet of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Mādhava, who perform joyous pastimes in Vraja-dhāma, I offer praṇāmas unto you time and again.”
In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is told:
nimna ganam yathā gaṅgā
devanam acyuto yathā
vaiṣṇavānāṁ yathā sambhuh
purananam idam tathā
“Just as the Gaṅgā is the greatest of all rivers, Lord Acyuta the supreme among deities and Lord Śambhu (Śiva) the greatest of Vaiṣṇavas, so Śrīmad-bhāgavatam is the greatest of all purāṇas.” (Śrīmad-bhāgavatam, 12.13.16)]
Śiva Ṭhākura is the greatest of Vaiṣṇavas. Śiva Ṭhākura resides in Vṛndāvana continuously rendering service to Kṛṣṇa and the Vrajavāsīs. The form of Gopīśvara Mahādeva was manifested when Kṛṣṇa desired to perform the rāsa dance, Śrīmatī Rādhārānī appeared from Kṛṣṇa’s left side and Gopīśvara Mahādeva manifested from Kṛṣṇa’s right side. Other expansions of Śiva Ṭhākura all come from the original manifestation of Gopeśvara Mahādeva. The other forms of Mahādeva cannot award the benediction that can be attained by the mercy of Gopīśvara which is vraja-prema.”
Śrīla Gurudeva had a lively discussion about this topic with Janārdana Mahārāja who was hesitant to agree with Śrīla Gurudeva. After parikramā was finished, Janārdana Mahārāja left and went back to his āśrama. A month later he sent a letter. In those days I read correspondence to Śrīla Gurudeva and wrote Gurudeva’s reply.
I read to Śrīla Gurudeva, “Janārdana Mahārāja searched all the gosvāmīs’ literature. He highlighted and sent quotes establishing that Gopeśvara Mahādeva can bestow Vraja bhakti. Among these quotes is Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī’s prayer in his Vraja-vilāsa-stava:
mudā gopendrasyatmaja bhuja parisranga nīdhaye
sphurad gopirvrndair yam iha bhāgavatam pranayibhih
bhajadbhistair bhaktyās vamabhilasitam prāptam acirād
yamitire gopīśvaram anudinam taṁ kila bhaje
I daily worship Gopīśvara Mahādeva, who is situated on the bank of Yamunā. That very Gopīśvara was worshipped with deep devotion by the gopīs, and he quickly fulfilled their desire to attain a supremely precious jewel in the form of the embrace of the son of Nanda Mahārāja [Kṛṣṇa].”
The letter continued on from there.
Śrīla Gurudeva follows śiva-rātrī vrata, fasting as one does on ekādaśī. Vrata means a vow. “I promise I will follow your footsteps. Please protect me.”
If we are independent and think, “I am a great Vaiṣṇava, why should I follow anyone,” then we will lose everything and no one will help. Don’t think like this. The conditioned souls are very proud by nature. They never want to give proper respect to the Vaiṣṇavas and demigods. But they will easily respect ordinary popular and famous people.
Never forget Śrī-Guru-pāda-padma, if you do so, your creeper of bhakti will be cut and withered. By the mercy of Śrīla Gurudeva the devotees may have grown into a powerful lush tree, but if that tree is cut out by the root, no matter how much water you pour on it, it will never help. The tree will still dry out and die. Therefore, wherever you are present, even if you are alone, speak the glories of Śrīla Gurudeva. Follow śravan, kīrtan, and the process of navadhā-bhakti. Śrīla Gurudeva is present with navadhā-bhakti. He has bestowed this to his disciples. If a devotee has firm guru-niṣṭhā, then even following bhakti alone, then Kṛṣṇa will send many like-minded devotees. Kṛṣṇa will even come Himself.
Once Pārvatī asked Śiva Ṭhākura, “O Prabhu, who should I worship, they are so many different gods and goddesses, but who is it that you worship and meditate on? If I try to worship you, then you are not pleased, who should I serve?”
Śiva Ṭhākura said, “Serve my worshipable Devī.”
Pārvatī asked, “But who is your worshipable Devī?”
Śiva Ṭhākura said, “Listen, Viṣṇu is the greatest worshipable Deity, but there is someone beyond Him.”
Pārvatī said, “Who, who?”
Śiva Ṭhākura said:
viṣṇor ārādhanaṁ param
tasmāt parataraṁ devī
Lord Śiva told the goddess Durgā, “My dear Devī, although the Vedas mention worship of demigods, the worship of Lord Viṣṇu is topmost and is ultimately recommended. However, above the worship of Lord Viṣṇu is the worship of (or rendering of service to) His devotees, who are the object of the Lord’s love.”
The worship of Kṛṣṇa’s tadīya nija jana, His beloved devotees is the highest form of worship. Bhagavān Kṛṣṇa wanders in Śrī Vraja Maṇḍala begging and crying for the mercy of the Vraja-devīs:
yat-kiṅkarīṣu bahuśaḥ khalu kāku-vāṇī…
Śrī Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi (8)
O daughter of Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja, ocean of rasa, that beautiful boy who wears a gracefully tilting peacock feather in His hair is actually the original Personality of Godhead. Still, He is always falling at the feet of Your maidservants and pitifully begging them with many humble words to gain entrance into Your kuṣja where the two of You engage in Your playful loving pastimes.
In Varsānā, Kṛṣṇa goes with a begging bowl, praying for the mercy of Śrīmatī Rādhikā.
Śiva Ṭhākura spoke to Pārvatī the Śrī Rādhā-Kṛpā-Kaṭākṣa-Stava-Rāja in the Urdhvāmnāya-tantra:
kadā kariṣyasīha māṁ kṛpā-kaṭākṣa-bhājanam?
O Śrīmatī Rādhikā—Śukadeva, Nārada, Uddhava, and all the topmost munis are always offering vandanā (prayers) to Your lotus feet. Remembering You and praying for Your sevā miraculously removes all the miseries, sins, and offenses of the three spheres. Your joyful face blooms like a lotus and You delight in pastimes in the kunjas of Vraja. You are the daughter of Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja and are the dearly beloved of Brajendra-nandana, with whom You always perform vilāsa—when, Oh when will You bestow upon me Your merciful sidelong glance?
Śiva Ṭhakura said, “O Pārvatī, just worship Śrīmatī Rādhikā and the Vraja-devīs.”
In those days there were no taps or nearby hand pumps for water. All the brahmacārīs would bring water for the sannyāsīs to bathe and use in the mornings to clean their teeth and so on. In the early morning we would collect water from Bimala-kuṇḍa for all the sannyāsīs.
One morning, Śrīla Gurudeva called me, “Do you know who is a Vaiṣṇava?”
I said, “Everybody here is Vaiṣṇava.”
Śrīla Gurudeva, “Oh, you don’t know, you have no knowledge, last night I saw everything.”
All the sannyāsīs would sleep in one big hall and the brahmacārīs would massage before they rested. Śubhānanda Brahmacārī and other brahmacārīs would massage the different sannyāsīs. In the early morning the brahmacārīs would arrange oil, soap, tree twigs for toothbrushes and other items for service. The devotees would sleep only a few hours at night. Then in the morning they would bathe and the brahmacārīs would collect wood and cook. All would have a light and playful mood. That day can never come again in this life. How was the happiness everyone felt? It was unlimited!
Śrīla Gurudeva said, “Last night I saw a great Vaiṣṇava.”
“Where, who?” I said.
“Viṣṇu Mahārāja sits for the complete night on the bank of Bimala-kuṇḍa crying, “Ha Guru Mahārāja! Ha Śrīmatī Rādhikā! Ha Kṛṣṇa! Ha Vraja-devīs!”
I said, “Does he not sleep at all?”
“No,” Gurudeva said, “he rolls in the dust and cries out, chanting harināma. How can you understand? In the day time he is silent, but at night he doesn’t sleep for one minute.”
I said, “Then you also must not sleep at night? Otherwise, how would you see Viṣṇu Mahārāja’s bhajana. You must also be chanting all night . . . right?”
“Yes,” Śrīla Gurudeva said. “I was also chanting, but only watching my godbrothers. I have faith that my Guru Mahārāja is merciful to me. Before, I thought only the seniors can give mercy. But now I understand, if anyone has love and affection for God and Śrī-Guru-pāda-padma, he has so much mercy to give. Therefore, respect everybody.”
Parikramā was by walking. In the evening parikramā would come back to the camp and we would give hot water and wash the feet of the Vaiṣṇavas and massage them with hot oil to relieve the pain in their feet and bodies. Then they would take a little mahā-prasāda, speak hari-kathā and rest.
When will that day come again?
Śrīla Gurudeva ordered, “First serve my gṛhastha godbrothers, than come and serve me.”
I said, “You are Guru, and a sannyāsa, they are family men.”
Śrīla Gurudeva said, “Vaiṣṇavas are not family men or renunciants, they have relationship with Mahāprabhu and their lives are dedicated to Guru and Vaiṣṇavas!”
Then we would serve them first and then serve Śrīla Gurudeva.
Without service to Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, the heart will never be clean. One will never be pleased and happy.
Therefore, Śrīla Gurudeva ordered me, “What should we pray to Kāmeśvara Mahādeva for? If anyone has mundane desires and relationship with mundane people, pray, ‘Please, O Mahādeva! Give me relationship with the devotees, and give me desire to dedicate my life to their service, may pride never come, please protect me, you are my guardian!”
Then bitterness will never come for service. Otherwise Guru and Vaiṣṇavas will instruct, “Do this.” Then one will run and quickly finish and then have no desire to do anything else. But when mercy comes, then when you are serving, more and more good ego and desire will come for service. You will never be tired and hopeless and your mind will never be disturbed. When chanting harināma, more and more taste will come. Service desire will increase more and more.
Before, if we collected a little money in donations, then we would go and collect milk sweets and make very tasty preparations. In the evening when all the sannyāsīs and Vaiṣṇavas sat to take mahā-prasāda, Śrīla Gurudeva would ask, “What did you cook today?”
I said, “Oh, there is nothing special, just some rice, simple boiled potatoes and dahl.”
Then we gave smashed potatoes, a little dahl, rice and subji, and wouldn’t say anything. After a while, we would bring out many fancy preparations, like samosas, many types of pakodas, and sweets. But we wouldn’t say anything, otherwise Śrīla Gurudeva would abuse and beat us and shout loudly.
I didn’t say anything. First we gave the special preparations to Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja and Śrīla Janārdana Mahārāja. Not giving any to Śrīla Gurudeva, otherwise he would have taken it and flung it at us. But while all the other Vaiṣṇavas were taking, they said, “Oh Mahārāja, it is very tasty. Take only a little. We know you are sick and have weak digestion, but just take a little.”
Then Śrīla Gurudeva would take a little, and we would then give more and more and all would be happy and laugh together.
In the early morning parikramā would begin. The villagers brought buttermilk, hot capatis with ghee and buttermilk and guḍa. After kirtana and hari-kathā they would take breakfast.
All sannyāsīs would go to Bimala-kuṇḍa to bathe. Even old and grave sannyāsīs would swim from one side to the other in Bimala-kuṇḍa and play with each other. Seeing all the sannyāsīs swimming and playing, what brahmacārī would be able sit quietly? Then all brahmacārīs would go and swim.
Śrīla Trivikrama Gosvāmī Mahārāja would float like Anantadeva Śeṣanāga on top of the water, looking like a boat. Śrīla Gurudeva would swim with great enthusiasm. Śrīla Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja was very grave and peaceful, he would go and bathe quickly and come out. But Śrīla Gurudeva would jump and swim, cross the kuṇḍa and come back very fast! He was always athletic and strong.
Śrīla Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja joked with Śrīla Gurudeva, “In your past life you were a stallion, always prancing around!”
Śrīla Trivikrama Gosvāmī Mahārāja was heavy, but very strong. Many ācāryas and sannyāsīs would bath together. In those days there was no recorder or videos to capture these pastimes. They are only printed in the heart.
The parikramā party went to Phisalanī Śilā, the stone slide where Kṛṣṇa and the sakhās would slide and also Śrīmatī Rādhikā sometimes used to slide here with Her sakhīs.
Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja quietly came up behind Śrīla Gurudeva and pushed him down the slide. They would play together like young children.
Oh, when will this day come again? Now, brahmacārīs hide in their rooms like prisoners, like offenders, never coming out and associating with other devotees. Before, Śrīla Gurudeva, Śrīla Vāmana Mahārāja, Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja, all the sannyāsīs and brahmacārīs would sit together. They would play together like sakhās, wrestling, joking and playing.
When will that day come again in life? Now if you say something, people will take another meaning and become offended. Now it isn’t possible to joke. Nowadays, if a devotee humbly asks anything, people think they are insulting and taunting. What to do? Who to talk with?
Śrīla Gurudeva would joke with me while eating, sleeping, and at all times. Whenever Śrīla Gurudeva came from the west he would joke with me.
If the salt was ever high in the cooking then Śrīla Gurudeva would say, “Yes, today Varuṇa-deva definitely came and left a gift for us. Today was a big feast and Varuṇa-deva came with his crocodile, therefore, today everything is crocodile food!”
On parikramā we would cook under a neem tree. In the winter season, during Kārtika, daily a few leaves of neem would fall into the cooking.
While Śrīla Gurudeva was eating, sometimes he would find a neem leaf and say, “Today, Nimāi has come inside the subji!”
After Bhojana Thali, the parikramā party would go to Caraṇa Pahadi. The glories there are very wonderful.
Śrīla Gurudeva requested Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja to give a lecture. He said, “This is not my center, my sakhās are done below here, I will go and speak there. Here is your place, therefore, you should speak. You are always the ladies’ followers!”
Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja would tease Śrīla Gurudeva as they were near and dear godbrothers.
Śrīla Gurudeva answered, “Yes, yes, but I think that all are wearing sarees, woman’s clothing! Here no one is a gentleman.”
Śrīla Gurudeva would joke, “We are sannyāsīs, we don’t wear dhotis we only wear sarees.”
Sannyāsīs wear five meters cloth, lower cloth, dopata, bahir vāsa.
Then Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja started kirtana in a slow dramatic tone about the glories of taking the shelter of Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet:
ekhana bujhinu prabho tomāra caraṇa
aśoka-abhayāmṛta pūrṇa sarva-kṣaṇa
sakala chāṛiyā tuwā caraṇa-kamale
paṛiyāchi āmi nātha tava pada-tale
tava pāda padma nātha rakṣibe āmāre
āra rakṣā-kartā nāhi e bhava-saṁsāre
āmi tava nitya-dāsa jāninu e-bāra
āmāra pālana-bhāra ekhana tomāra
baṛa duḥkha pāiyāchi svatantra jīvane
saba duḥkha dūre gela o pada varaṇe
“I have finally understood, O Lord, that Your feet are full of the ambrosia of immortality, joy, and fearlessness. I have now given up everything to fall down and take shelter of Your lotus feet, my Lord. Your lotus feet, O Lord, will protect me. Nothing else in this world can give me the same protection. Now I know myself to be Your eternal servant, so the responsibility for my maintenance is Yours. My life of so-called independence gave me so much misery, but now that I have taken shelter of Your feet, all these miseries have disappeared.”
In the middle of his singing, Śrīla Gurudeva would pinch him, than when Śrīla Gurudeva was singing Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja would pinch him. They were always joking and teasing each other.
Śrīla Gurudeva next sang:
śrī rādhā-kṛṣṇa pada-kamale māna
kemone labhibe carama śaraṇa
cira-dina koriyā o-caraṇa-āśa
āche he bosiyā e adhama dāsa
O mind, how is it possible to attain the ultimate shelter – the lotus feet of Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa? This wretched servant has been waiting since time immemorial, sustaining hope against hope for Your shelter.
he rādhe! he kṛṣṇacandra! bhakta prāṇa
pāmare yugala-bhakti kor’ dāna
bhakti-hīna boli’ nā koro upekṣā
mūrkha-jane deho’ jṣāna-suśikṣā
O Rādhe! O Kṛṣṇacandra! I know I am pāmara, most wicked, but please be merciful and give me bhakti for You. I am completely bereft of devotion so surely You cannot neglect me. I am such a foolish person, mūrkha-jana, but still, please bestow upon me devotional knowledge and instructions.
Then Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja stole the mike and sang:
“It is true, I am so absorbed and troubled by my thirst for material enjoyment.”
Then Śrīla Gurudeva would take back the mike and sing again. When coming to the verse,
yugala sevāya, śrī rāsa-maṇḍale
niyukta koro’ āmāya
lalitā sakhīra, ayogyā kiṣkorī
vinoda dhariche pāya
Bhaktivinoda, the unworthy servant of Lalitā Sakhī, tightly holding Your lotus feet close to his heart, begs to be engaged in Your confidential sevā in the śrī rāsa-maṇḍala. Please hear my supplication and appoint me as Your maidservant. (Another meaning of vinoda is “Always giving pleasure to Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa.”)
Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja would again steal the mike and repeatedly sing, “Viṣaya-pipāsā-prapīḍita-dāse, viṣaya-pipāsā-prapīḍita-dāse.”
In the evening while the brahmacārīs were massaging them, Śrīla Gurudeva said to me, “Today there was a big fight.”
Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja said, “Yes, I defeated Mahārāja.”
Śrīla Gurudeva said, “You defeated me! Halfwit! You only sing, “Viṣaya-pipāsā, viṣaya-pipāsā, viṣaya-pipāsā! What is this? Why don’t you chant, lalitā sakhīra, ayogyā kiṇkorī
vinoda dhariche pāy? What is viṣaya? Bogus!”
In the early morning, while Śrīla Gurudeva was brushing his teeth, Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja said, “Last night you didn’t sleep, you were only thinking, “Lalitā sakhī, Lalitā sakhī, Lalitā sakhī! Never thinking about Kṛṣṇa and Govinda! Only Lalitā sakhī! Only thinking about ladies!”
Śrīla Gurudeva flung down his toothbrush and threw a cup of water at Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja! Oh, how did they joke!
Śrīla Gurudeva said, “For your whole life you only ate fish!”
Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja said, “For your whole life you only ate sattoo!” (A roasted chickpea flour popular in Bihar)
Śrīla Gurudeva said, “Machli khor!” (fish eater)
Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja said, “Sattoo khor!” (chickpea flour eater)
They had such intimate friendship, who could understand and see? When will that day come? Is it possible in millions of lives? How great was their affection and heart-to-heart relationship?
While eating, Śrīla Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja, Śrīla Trivikrama Gosvāmī Mahārāja and Śrīla Gurudeva would sit in a row. For Trivikrama Mahārāja we would give some extra red chili powder and pure ghee in his prasādam. For Śrīla Gurudeva we would only give simple boiled subji, no oil, no chili and a very low amount of salt. Śrīla Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja would take everything, he was very tolerant and never said anything about what to give or not.
Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja would take chili and ghee and put it on Śrīla Gurudeva’s plate, saying, “Hey Mahārāja, taste, taste, how is this tasteful? As long as you don’t eat like this you will never understand bhakti! Bhakti is madhura, sweet and full of flavor. If you don’t take spice, chili and ghee, how will you be strong and able to follow bhakti?”
Śrīla Gurudeva said, “Arggh, Tamasi! How can you eat like this!?”
Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja said, “This is not tamasi, it is cutuli!” (meaning backside)
He spoke a very special language. In front of anyone he wasn’t shy. I can’t repeat all his language.
At one minute they would appear to be arguing, than the next minute they would speak very sweet and lovingly. How can one understand this?
For a while Śrīla Gurudeva was silent, than Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja said, “Yes, now I understand. You have been rejected. Therefore you are suffering and feeling big pain.”
What is the meaning of their language? Kṛṣṇa rejected Candrāvalī and went to Śrīmatī Rādhikā. Then Trivikrama Mahārāja chimed, “Rejected! Rejected!”
Śrīla Gurudeva understood his hint. Becoming red in the face, Gurudeva angrily shouted, “Yes, now Jatila and Kutila have come with Abhimanyu! You better run quickly.”
Who could understand their moods and relationship? This is very sweet. All brahmacārīs would clap and laugh. May the guru-varga give us a clean heart and mind, then we can understand their language and our life will be successful.
Before, during Śrī Navadvīpa-dhāma Parikramā, many Vaiṣṇavas were together inside a bus going to Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and joking and laughing the whole way. But new people can’t understand these moods. They think that this is bogus, only uselessly talking. They cannot understand the transcendental moods of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas. Guru and Vaiṣṇavas are never absorbed in anything material.
What did Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu pray:
yaḥ kaumāra-haraḥ sa eva hi varas tā eva caitra-kṣapās
te conmīlita-mālatī-surabhayaḥ prauḍhāḥ kadambānilāḥ
sā caivāsmi tathāpi tatra surata-vyāpāra-līlā-vidhau
revā-rodhasi vetasī-taru-tale cetaḥ samutkaṇṭhate
“That very personality who stole away my heart during my youth is now again my master. These are the same moonlit nights of the month of Caitra. The same fragrance of mālatī flowers is there, and the same sweet breezes are blowing from the kadamba forest. In our intimate relationship, I am also the same lover, yet still my mind is not happy here. I am eager to go back to that place on the bank of the Revā under the Vetasī tree. That is my desire.”
Only Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu could understand Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s mood. The devotees thought, “What is Mahāprabhu saying, this is a mundane romantic poem.”
But the Guru-varga are always in the spiritual world.
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu understood Mahāprabhu mood and wrote:
priyaḥ so ‘yaṁ kṛṣṇaḥ saha-cari kuru-kṣetra-militas
tathāhaṁ sā rādhā tad idam ubhayoḥ saṅgama-sukham
mano me kālindī-pulina-vipināya spṛhayati
[This is a verse spoken by Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī.] “My dear friend, now I have met My very old and dear friend Kṛṣṇa on this field of Kurukṣetra. I am the same Rādhārāṇī, and now We are meeting together. It is very pleasant, but still I would like to go to the bank of the Yamunā beneath the trees of the forest there. I wish to hear the vibration of His sweet flute playing the fifth note within that forest of Vṛndāvana.”
The parikramā party went to Setubandha. At the gopīs request, Śrī Kṛṣṇa called monkeys to build a bridge (setu) here. One can still see the ruins of this bridge of rocks (setu-bandha) in the lake.
When coming to this place Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja would shout, “JAY Hanumān!” and jump high in the air. Why? He would tease Śrīla Gurudeva, knowing that Śrīla Gurudeva had much love for the Rāmāyaṇa.
Śrīla Gurudeva quoted Śrī Tulasī dāsa’ Rāmāyaṇa, saying, “bari mate haya ghrit, sikhatate borute, vīṇā hari bhajana ye siddhānta apil”
“I would sooner believe that oil can be wrung from dry sand or ghee churned from water, but without hari-bhajana no one can get out of the cycle of material existence, birth and death. This is a certain truth.”
Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja heard Śrīla Gurudeva and teased him by shouting, “JAY Sītā Rāma, JAY Hanumān!”
Śrīla Gurudeva would hear and tease, “Jaya Rādhānātha, Jaya Rādhānātha!” (The brahmacārī name of Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja)
Whenever parikramā would go to Setubandha they would argue. One group would take Śrīla Gurudeva’s side and one group would side with Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja.
Trivikrama Mahārāja said, “Rāmacandra’s monkeys carried stone. Now Rāmacandra’s near and dearest sevaka, Gaura Nārāyaṇa, will carry stone here and make a bridge to cross this kuṇḍa!”
Then Śrīla Gurudeva told a story, “Once Arjuna and Hanumān met and argued over who was greater, Rāma or Kṛṣṇa. Hanumān said, ‘Rāmacandra is great.’ Arjuna said, ‘Kṛṣṇa can create thousands of Ramas in one minute. Your Rāma built the bridge with the help of monkeys. My Kṛṣṇa is so powerful, with one arrow He can make a bridge in a second.’ Hanumān said, ‘Okay, make a bridge over this river here with your arrows and then we will understand who is more powerful, my Rāma, or your Kṛṣṇa.’
“Then Arjuna took his bow and arrows and quickly built a bridge across the river.
Hanumān said, ‘I will touch this bridge and break it into many pieces with one hair of my body.’
Hanumān shouted, ‘Jay Sītā Rāma!’ and put one foot on the bridge. But it didn’t break. Then Hanumān put another foot on the bridge, and the bridge slightly shook. Looking below, Hanumān saw that Rāma was carrying the bridge and bleeding. Arjuna looked and saw that Kṛṣṇa was holding up the bridge. Both came down and prayed, “Oh Prabhu, forgive me, please stop holding the bridge.”
The Supreme Lord was present in His original form, but to Hanumān He was Rāma and to Arjuna He was Kṛṣṇa.
The Lord said, “I had to uphold My devotees’ honor.”
Śrīla Trivikrama Mahārāja then shouted, “Jay Śrī Rāma!”
We will be very fortunate when these pastimes appear in our heart.
[CC-by-NDNC Bhakta Bandhav]