Śrīla Gurudeva: I want to discuss the subject matter of our discussions at this festival. I was thinking that we will first speak about the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, First Canto, Second Chapter:
sa vai puṁsāṁ paro dharmo
yato bhaktir adhokṣaje
[The supreme occupation (dharma) for all humanity is that by which men can attain loving devotional service unto the transcendent Lord. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted to completely satisfy the self.]
Then we will discuss niṣṭhā-bhakti (steady devotion), and then the subject of prema, which is the goal of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. After that we will speak about the principle of guru and disciple, with reference to the dialogue between Nārada and Vyāsa. After that we will discuss something of Prahlāda-caritra (the history and character of Śrī Prahlāda Mahārāja), and then the Tenth Canto. We will briefly go as far as we can in discussions of the Tenth Canto up to brahma-vimohana-līlā (the pastime of Kṛṣṇa bewildering Lord Brahmā), indra-vimohana-līlā, and other such pastimes. Is that okay?
Śrīpāda Padmanābha Mahārāja: Yes, Gurudeva.
Śrīla Gurudeva: There are so many mysterious truths in Brahmā-stuti (Lord Brahmā’s prayers) in brahma-vimohana-līlā. Similarly, there are many mysterious things to know in Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes with the dvija-patnīs (the wives of the brāhmaṇas), and especially with the nāga-patnīs (the wives of the serpent Kāliya). There are so many instructions given therein – so we will discuss these topics.
Viṣṇu dāsa: Gurudeva, you have been coming to Houston for fourteen years, but we have never gone beyond the first half of the Tenth Canto. Is there a possibility that you can discuss the second half of the Tenth Canto, as well as the eleventh and twelfth Cantos?
Śrīla Gurudeva: We can do that.
Govinda dāsa: This is Kṛṣṇa dāsa; he comes from ISKCON. He was previously a disciple of Romapada Svāmī, for the past eighteen years, but he wants to take shelter of you.
Śrīla Gurudeva: [To Kṛṣṇa dāsa] Why have you left ISKCON? Was your guru not qualified?
Kṛṣṇa dāsa: Actually, I lost my faith.
Śrīla Gurudeva: Why? You know that if you give up a qualified guru it is against the principles of bhakti and it is an offense. It is important that you carefully consider the matter before making your decision.
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: He was there for about eighteen years, so now he has decided.
Śrīla Gurudeva: All right. I will give you shelter.
Umesh: Mahārāja, I have had no job for the past three months due to layoffs. I am struggling.
Śrīla Gurudeva: I can’t help you in this matter. But I can guide you in the process of bhakti.
Girirāja Govardhana fulfills the desires of everyone, and all the Vrajavāsīs take shelter of him. If you take shelter of Girirāja Govardhana and chant his prayers, then all your desires will be fulfilled. You can talk with Tīrtha Mahārāja; he will tell you the prayers to chant every day. We can give you a picture of Girirāja Mahārāja – meaning Girirāja Govardhana – so that you can pray to him. Om girirājaya nāmaḥ.
Viṣṇu dāsa: Gurudeva is giving you the mantra, om girirājaya nāmaḥ. Girirāja is the mountain that Kṛṣṇa picked up and balanced on the pinky-finger of His left hand.
Śrīla Gurudeva: Any questions?
Viṣṇu dāsa: When Gopa-kumāra reached Vaikuṇṭha, the residents of Vaikuṇṭha prohibited him from speaking about the pastimes of Kṛṣṇa in Vṛndāvana. They told him that the Lord’s pastimes as a gopa were performed for the purpose of deception [to deceive demons like Kaṁsa and Pūtanā]. So my question is this: Are the Vaikuṇṭha residents unaware of the glory of Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes in Vṛndāvana? Are they unaware that these pastimes in Vṛndāvana are higher than those of Vaikuṇṭha?
Śrīla Gurudeva: If the residents of Vaikuṇṭha knew the glory of Vṛndāvana, they would not be residing in Vaikuṇṭha. They do not know its glories.
Viṣṇu dāsa: But even the people staying on this planet are aware.
Śrīla Gurudeva: That is why this planet is called sādhana-bhūmi (the land of sādhana). Neither the heavens nor the lower planetary systems are called sādhana-bhūmi. It refers only to this planet Earth, and especially to Vraja-maṇḍala, Vṛndāvana, and Navadvīpa, which is non-different from Vṛndāvana. Here, whatever mood in which you perform your spiritual practices, you will attain that perfection.
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: We can practice here, whereas in other planetary systems we cannot do so.
Śrīla Gurudeva: Even those who worship Rāmānujācārya and his followers think that Śrī Kṛṣṇa and all other incarnations come from Nārāyaṇa. They think that Kṛṣṇa is a expansion of Nārāyaṇa. They challenge, “It is not possible for us to serve Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s gopīs, or His mother and father, or His other associates. Nārāyaṇa never comes to this world, so Nārāyaṇa’s manifestation, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, comes here.”
Viṣṇu dāsa: Sometimes we meet devotees, even in ISKCON, who cannot understand that there is something higher than Vaikuṇṭha. They have no desire to understand, so their faith does not develop when we speak to them. Should we just consider that at present this is their adhikāra (spiritual qualification), and there is not much we can do to change their minds?
Śrīla Gurudeva: Yes. That is okay.
Śrīpāda Padmanābha Mahārāja: One more point about this, Śrīla Gurudeva. You have said many times that the jīva’s svarūpa (eternal constitutional nature and identity) is already fixed. So, is it that this is the svarūpa of some of the persons in other sampradāyas who are worshiping Lakṣmī-Nārāyaṇa? Even though they are here on this Earth planet, where Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu appeared, could it be that according to their svarūpa they are meant to go to Vaikuṇṭha?
Śrīla Gurudeva: This is also true in Mahāprabhu’s pastimes. Śrīvāsa Paṇḍita, Anupama, Murāri Gupta, and other associates were worshipers of Nārāyaṇa and Kṛṣṇa’s other incarnations.
Veṇu-gopāla dāsa: Śrīla Gurudeva, it is stated in Śrī Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta that Gopa-kumāra’s sādhaka and siddha form are the same. How is this possible?
Śrīla Gurudeva: Gopa-kumāra was a special case. He was actually from Goloka Vṛndāvana, and he came here to help us conditioned souls. He thus took birth in the Govardhana area, as a cowherd boy, and he received a guru named Jayanta, who was personally sent by Rādhikā. There was some change in his sādhaka body here, and when he went to Vaikuṇṭha, his body became transcendental.
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: His body was not four-handed when he visited Vaikuṇṭha, but it was cinmaya (transcendental, of spiritual substance)
Śrīpāda Tīrtha Mahārāja: I have a question regarding this verse:
vīkṣya mānaṁ ca keśavaḥ
[Seeing the gopīs’ intoxication due to their good fortune, and also the māna (sulky mood) of Rādhārāṇī, Lord Keśava wanted to quell the first and pacify the second. He thus disappeared at that very spot.]
This verse states that the vraja-gopīs became intoxicated by their good fortune.
[He continues to ask his question, in Hindi, on the subject of this verse.]
Śrīla Gurudeva: There are many types of gopīs – taṭasthā (neutral to Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s party of gopīs), suhṛdā (friendly to Her party), svapakṣa (in Her party) and vipakṣa (against Her party). Such subjects are not for discussion among ordinary society; they are discussed among elevated devotees. For others we discuss topics like Prahlāda Mahārāja, Citraketu Mahārāja, and the Eleventh Canto.
Here we will discuss some of the Eleventh Canto, and the Tenth Canto as well. We will discuss some of the last parts of the Tenth Canto, such as Sudāmā-caritra (Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes with the brāhmaṇa Sudāmā), Rukmiṇī-caritra (the history of Kṛṣṇa’s marriage with Rukmiṇī), and then mausala-līlā (the pastimes leading to Kṛṣṇa’s disappearance from the vision of this world), and Uddhava-saṁvāda (the conversation between Kṛṣṇa and Uddhava).
Śrīpāda Padmanābha Mahārāja: We discussed the Eleventh Canto in Badger last year.
Śrīla Gurudeva: We discussed the Tenth Canto ten or twelve times.
Śrīpāda Padmanābha Mahārāja: Yes, but we discussed the Eleventh Canto in Badger recently, and most of the devotees who heard it there last year are coming here for this festival.
Śrīla Gurudeva: No harm.
Brajanāth dāsa: They forget.
Śrīla Gurudeva: Most of the same devotees will be coming here from out of town, and there will be only a very few local devotees.
Viṣṇu dāsa: A very lot.
Śrīla Gurudeva: Very few.
Brajanāth dāsa: This is Sam from Bengal.
Sam: I have been a Buddhist most of my life, but I am encouraged to submit to the Hare Kṛṣṇa organization.
Śrīla Gurudeva: I went to China. There is a Buddhist leader with 40,000 disciples, and his prominent preachers have a total of about 1,100,000 disciples. He wants to surrender all of his followers to me, and he is making a very big preaching center.
Sam: I can understand why this is more appealing in comparison to the philosophy we are used to.
Śrīla Gurudeva: You should know that Buddhism came from Gautama Buddha who is from Gāyā in India. His birthplace was in Nepal. He preached that the world was created from zero, and in the end we become zero. His doctrine claimed that there is no God and no jīva, nor is there anything else: There was and is only zero.
If anyone wants to be zero, or nothing, that person will do well to accept this Buddhist doctrine. The Buddhist preachers pose many arguments in support of their conception and can attract general people very easily, but they cannot attract anyone who is knowledgeable. The Buddhist doctrine was driven out of India, to Tibet, and then to Japan, China, and other places. This doctrine is again being rejected, and people are now coming to
You are very lucky that you want to surrender yourself and be happy. You are a spirit soul, part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa. You are His eternal servant. There is happiness in the process of bhakti, whereas in Buddhism there is no happiness. After all, if all is zero, there is no one to be happy.
In reality, the soul is part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa, His eternal servant. He can enjoy the service of Kṛṣṇa.
[At the end of the walk, Śrīla Gurudeva enters the home of Suśīla dāsa and Bimalā dāsī, where the devotees sing, Gaurāṅga Bolite Habe.]
Śrīla Gurudeva: Whether you are a gṛhastha, householder, or a tyāgī, renounciant, you must somehow maintain your life – by business, by service, or by some other means. In any case, in your gṛhastha-āśrama, the center must be Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa and Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. If Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa are not the center of your gṛhastha life and you are not performing bhajana by chanting and remembering, your money will not save you. One day you will become old, and after that you will give up your body. At the time of death whatever you have collected – the money you’ve earned, the position you have attained, your wife, children, and all your possessions – will all remain here. Moreover, where will you go? In your next life you may again be born as a dog or hog, a donkey or a monkey.
Always remember these instructions. There is no harm in being a gṛhastha. So many followers of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and so many devotees of Kṛṣṇa were gṛhastha; but they were gṛhastha only to serve Kṛṣṇa.
[To Asish, the son of Suśīla dāsa and Bimalā dāsī] We have come to your house today, so now it is Vaikuṇṭha. But always remember that gṛhastha life is to be maintained only to serve Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. Follow your mother’s and father’s path – the way in which they are serving Vaiṣṇavas and guru, and giving their whole energy for kṛṣṇa-bhakti. You should also be like that. Don’t forget this.
[Excerpted from the Gaudiya Vedanta Publication “Walking With a Saint 2009”]