[Hari-katha inspired by the Guru-varga]
Mahaprabhu is very kind. Now He is present in Navadvipa-dhama, at Srivasa Angana. He desires to make a place for there to be respect and faith in the hearts of people. If there is external, but not real, respect, then that respect will soon be destroyed. When faith and relationship is strong then you will be nearby Mahaprabhu and never nearby maya. Otherwise, you will follow Mahaprabhu for some time but then start to follow others and become contaminated.
Mahaprabhu desires that His bhaktas be one-pointed. He wants the devotees to all be connected and realized in their spiritual service. He wants them to cross maya and achieve the destination of Vraja-dhama. Mahaprabhu did not want people to simply stay with Him. He offered whoever came near to Him to the Vrajavasis and gave them connection to vraja-seva. If Mahaprabhu did not take people to Vrajadhama then people would continue to move within Maya-dhama. There are many departments in Maya-dhama and many positions and conditions. In Maya-dhama, or Devi-dhama, Durga is the warden. She has many expansions, or shadows, and they have various departments and areas. They decorate those places with many alluring objects for the embodied jivas’ senses. The agents of maya set up these traps to steel peoples’ blood, and once their blood is gone they reject them. So long as there is strength or blood in a person’s body, then men, women, and animals will come to try and enjoy him.
Mahaprabhu did not want to exploit anyone. He wanted to free them from all bondage. He wanted to give them faith and transport them to the spiritual world. The only condition He gave was this: one must have the desire to serve. If one person loves another, he will naturally want to serve that person. Mahaprabhu wants everyone to have this service tendency. This tendency comes by Radharani’s causeless mercy. Someone will serve for some days without the blessings of Radharani, but afterwards he will think, “Oh! It is Sunday today; a good day to rest. I serve every day.” They do not naturally want to serve. Service is an obligation or duty to them, carried out without taste. But when there is real relationship and love, then the taste to serve will always increase. One will always be inspired to serve in newer and newer ways with ever-increasing enthusiasm.
Mahaprabhu wants this mood to always be flowing in all the devotees. Without love, work is very painful. When there is love, however, it is very tasteful. The work may be the same, but a difference will stand out between the person who works out of love, and the person who works out of obligation. A person may even be working hard in the sun, but if he is doing it for his lover, then he can maintain that work for many hours without any pain. When will this stage come to us in our practice of bhakti?
Mahaprabhu teaches many different things in His Navadvipa pastimes. Gauracandra is Sarva-lokanatha, the Master of all universes. Mahaprabhu is merciful, and thinks for the welfare of all living beings. He does not come only to help the people in Navadvipa-dhama. The brahmanas who understand the Vedas and the sannyasis—they follow some dharma. But this dharma does not have so much power, because the followers chose according to their desire. A drunkard chooses to drink alcohol. Drinking is not his dharma, rather it is merely his desire. He will serve those who arrange beer for him and he will share the beer with them. He will accept those people as his friends. But this is not dharma. Simply pursuing what is appealing to you is not dharma. To think this is dharma is nothing but your mental speculation.
Mahaprabhu instructed the brahmanas and sannyasis. He said, “Your speculation is not necessarily correct. You must learn what absolute dharma is.”
Imagine a small boy that is extremely fond of sweets is being sent to school. If you fill up his bag with chocolates and lollipops, on the condition that he goes to school, then he will eagerly go to school. But will he become a first class student? Will he forget candy and chocolate? If you only fulfill his desire for sweets, he will not necessarily become a good student. He will always be thinking of the awaiting reward, without taste for the practice.
What people choose is not necessarily good for them. Hari, Guru, and Vaisnavas will not fulfill the harmful desires of the people. Rather, they will give what is auspicious for them, like responsible parents. When a child cries to a responsible mother, “O Mama, why are you not giving me any chocolate,” she will not give him chocolate. If it is not good for him she will not give it, and if he continues to complain, she will chastise him. Why? Because if he eats too many sweets, it will be harmful for his health. Children need healthy food.
Mahaprabhu came to help the jivas. He arranged what was truly helpful for them. Subhadra and Arjuna had a son named Abhimanyu. He was very qualified. He was intelligent and strong. In the course of the Kuruksetra War, Abhimanyu was separated from his father and the rest of the Pandava army. He was surrounded and killed by seven maha-rathis. Why did Krsna not protect Abhimanyu? He was Krsna’s nephew. Krsna knew what was happening and He had the power to stop it, but He knew that His sister Subhadra had too much attachment to her son. Draupadi also had deep attachment to her five sons. Krsna arranged for the removal of these attachments.
Our attachments and desires, or in other words, whatever we choose—this is not beneficial for us. Bhagavan works in mysterious ways and out of great kindness removes the material attachments from our hearts.
Arjuna was so powerful. How was it possible for Asvatthama to kill the sons of Draupadi? Krsna wanted to completely purify His devotees of all their anarthas and relieve the burden of the Earth of all these powerful forces. Then the jivas would be humble. If one thinks, “I am strong. I will teach others,” this is not helpful for anyone.
For example: if I began to teach all the Brahmacaris tantra and mantra, they could become quite powerful. They could be able to tell others, “Sit down,” and they would have to sit, or “Get up,” and they would rise. They would gain the ability to control others like this. Then if anyone acted against them, they would use these powers against him. Acarya Ramanuja empowered three disciples with mystic powers. Later he personally liberated or killed them, before they started abusing their strength. Krsna gave great power to the members of His dynasty, and then he destroyed all 56 crores of them.
Mahaprabhu is the most powerful, but what did He do? Before anyone strayed from the proper path, He made them strong and gave them nistha. He came into the heart of Saci Mata and sweetly maintained everyone with love and affection. He considered how the devotees would be attracted to the Supreme Soul, and made suitable arrangements. He did not teach a difficult method, involving hard study. He established a joyful musical program, or harinama-sankirtana. He arranged this, knowing that the jivas would like a musical program. He arranged sankirtana, or dancing and singing in great ecstasy.
Mahaprabhu constantly performed nama-sankirtana. He did not stop. During nama-sankirtana, He manifested His special moods and ecstatic symptoms. He chanted and sang and danced and roared in ecstasy. Sometimes, He laughed loudly. Sometimes, absorbed in prema-rasa, He rolled on the ground. Brahma and the demigods prayed to Mahaprabhu, but Mahaprabhu was rolling in the dust of Navadvipa. Sometimes later, Mahaprabhu would come into external consciousness and enter the Ganga, playing in the water for hours on end. He swam about with His associates. Sometimes, He would sit and instruct others to do His abhiseka. At Srivasa Angana, the devotees bathed the Lord with many pots of water from the Ganga. There also, Mahaprabhu would play with the devotees.
Srivasa Pandita had a niece, who was given the name Dukhi. Dukhi means sad. Dukhi was six years old. She used to behold Mahaprabhu from a distance, and bring many pots of water from the Ganga for His abhiseka. Mahaprabhu saw the small girl bringing many clay pots of water one after the other. She put Tulasi in some pots, flowers in a damp cloth on the top of other pots, and camphor and other fragrances, such as kusa grass, and oils, in others. The fragrant water would become cool in the clay pots.
No one ordered Dukhi to do this service. She did it of her own accord. Mahaprabhu was pleased to see the pots of water. He asked Srivasa who had arranged them. Srivasa replied, “I have a niece whose name is Dukhi.”
Mahaprabhu said, “From today, no one should call her Dukhi. Now she shall be called Sukhi, or the happy girl because she is always happy and engaged in service.”
The bhaktas felt joy at heart to hear Mahaprabhu’s words. They marveled, “The Lord thinks of the welfare of everyone.”
Mahaprabhu said, “Some people shave their heads and then think that Yamaraja will not come to punish them at the time of death. But this is impossible. Crossing maya is not so easy. Without prema, without love, Krsna will not be happy. If you serve, but have no love, Krsna will not be pleased.”
“I am living in this asrama, so I must force myself to do some service; otherwise people will be angry with me.” If this is your mentality then Krsna will not accept your service. Krsna only accepts service done with prema. Krsna does not look at birth, wealth, beauty or the lack thereof. He only wants to see who has love and who serves with that love.
In sastra many rules and regulations are written. Mahaprabhu showed how to apply these principles in one’s own life and instructed others to actually follow them in their own lives. Without applying the precepts of scripture, one cannot advance in spiritual life. If we use the body in the service of God, the body will be our friend. If we do not use the body in God’s service it will be our enemy.
In the house of Srivasa Pandita there were some servants. They all become happy and received Mahaprabhu’s blessings. Anyone who was proud would melt in front of Mahaprabhu. If they came in a challenging mood, their hearts would soften and love would awake in their hearts.
One day during sankirtana at Srivasa Pandita’s house, while the devotees danced in sankirtana, Srivasa’s son died. The boy had been sick. The boy left his body while sankirtana was going on. The ladies of the family began to weep bitterly. Srivas Pandita entered the room and asked what had happened.
“Why are you crying?”
“Your son has died.”
After a moment of silence, Srivasa Pandita said, “Everyone must leave their body. If someone leaves while hearing kirtana, he is extremely fortunate. He has left his body while Mahaprabhu dances here in our home. He will surely receive a transcendental body in the spiritual world. You should not lament. If you must cry, do so softly. May the sound of your crying not disturb Mahaprabhu. Please don’t disturb the kirtana. If Mahaprabhu’s kirtana stops because of you, this son of mine will not be the only one who dies today. I will enter the Ganga and not come back.”
This incident reveals the special glories of Srivasa Pandita.
The ladies suppressed their crying, and Srivasa Pandita reentered the kirtana. The kirtana went on for some time. All the bhaktas understood what had happened. Although no one told Mahaprabhu anything, the all-knowing Lord asked Srivasa Pandita, “What has happened? My heart feels agitated today. Please don’t hide anything from Me. Tell Me what has happened.”
Srivasa replied, “O Lord, You are here and all these mahantas are here. How could there be a problem?”
Then the other devotees said, “The son of Srivasa Pandita has left his body.”
“When?” Mahaprabhu asked.
“A few hours ago,” Srivasa Thakura said. “If you permit me, I will perform his last rights.”
Mahaprabhu thought, “Srivasa’s son has died, but he is not lamenting. He is not crying and is not present with his deceased boy. Just see the nature of the bhaktas! How is it possible for him not to lament the death of his own son?”
Mahaprabhu did not immediately give permission to Srivasa Thakura to perform the last rights for his son. “Wait,” He said, and entered the room where the dead boy was. “Where are you going, O spirit soul?”
The boy opened his eyes and spoke, “O Prabhu, whatever You write down will happen. I cannot act against fate. Whatever is meant to be will be. Oh my Master, You gave me, along with this body, its life span. Today was my last day. According to my karma, I am moving onward. Who is my mother? Who is my father? Who are my brothers and sisters? The Supreme Lord is the master of the soul. According to the results of karma, the soul moves throughout the many species of life, receiving different parents and relatives. Now, in this life, the time has come for me to leave this set of relatives. Lord, may You and Your associates not take any offense in my behavior. Please allow me to leave with Your blessings.” The boy fell silent once more. Everyone that heard him speak was also silent.
Hearing the words of the dead boy, everyone received spiritual knowledge and understood that the soul transmigrates from one species of life to another, but remains uncontaminated by any of those material bodies. The soul can attain true birth, spiritual birth, by tasting krsna-prema and entering the spiritual world.
Srivasa Pandita caught the lotus feet of Mahaprabhu and said, “Prabhu, You are my father, mother, son, and everything. You are my life and soul. Please bless me that I never forget Your lotus feet. If person catches on to Your feet and never lets them go, he will easily transcend material existence.”
Srivasa and his brothers prayed to Mahaprabhu. Everyone around was weeping. Mahaprabhu said, “O Srivasa, this is samsara. One day it is clean and nice; the next day it is dark, dirty and destroyed. One day there are many people together; the next day, there is no one. This is samsara. O Srivasa, this material world is a place of suffering, but if someone thinks of You, he will forget all sadness and become blissful. Nityananda Prabhu and I are your sons. Do not lament for the passing of this soul.”
All the bhaktas now began to cry. Why? Mahaprabhu indicated He would leave. They felt in their hearts that Mahaprabhu would take sannyasa. Why? If there is so much sweetness, and that sweetness becomes only sweeter and sweeter and sweeter, then one should be warned that some bitterness is around the corner. If one eats too many sweets, he will get a boil. If a situation is extremely nice and
tasteful, then you can understand that a big problem will soon come and that situation will be broken.
The bhaktas were not crying because Srivasa Pandita’s son had died, but when they heard Mahaprabhu’s announcement they became grave and sorrowful. The bhaktas understood that Mahaprabhu would soon take sannyasa. They now felt so much impending separation and were weeping. Looking at Mahaprabhu’s beautiful face, they were able to control themselves somewhat.
Accompanied by the bhaktas, Mahaprabhu carried the body of the boy to the Ganga. There, the boy’s body was bathed and adorned with fresh tilaka and cloth. They offered him to the Ganga. A small boy that has not married or received diksa is not cremated. He is offered to Ganga-devi.
Thereafter, Mahaprabhu returned to His home and the devotees returned to theirs. What is the secret lesson behind this pastime? Srivasa’s family loved Mahaprabhu, but they also had love for their family members. They shared their attention in this way. Relatives are like thieves that steal shares of our love and affection. They cry, laugh, and talk with us, and want us to spend our valuable time with them. If you go close to them, you will soon see their real nature. They are really ferocious, dangerous beings. If you spend your life following them, Yamaraja will smash you at the end of your life.
There is no real love among relatives. They weep when one of their members dies, but this is based on selfishness. If you stay with any of them all day long, you will see their real nature exposed. Life with such people is compared to a person who is kidnapped, cast into the forest and thrown onto a nest of angry ants, his hands tied behind his back. The ants bite him on every inch of his body and he cannot save himself. Relatives are like these small ants that cover you and gradually devour you. Srivasa did not want to share his love, and now, he was able to offer it fully to Mahaprabhu without distraction. He had no attachment to anyone in his family.
So much lamentation surrounds the death of a relative, and on the other hand, when a baby is born, everyone feels that their life is successful and they practically lick the baby like a lollipop.
Mahaprabhu told Srivasa Pandita, “Give him in to the Ganga. I am your son. Nitai is your son. You do not need another son.”
Srivasa offered pranama and happily accepted Mahaprabhu’s instruction. Mahaprabhu arranged these pastimes in Navadvipa in order to teach the bhaktas how to develop strong faith. Only devotees can understand these pastimes. Non-devotees will think, “How could he be so cruel as to neglect his son? Why did the boy have to die? Mahaprabhu is God. He could have protected him. Why did Mahaprabhu not save the life of His dear devotee’s son? I will not do bhajana. There is no use of doing so if the Lord will not protect me.”
But this is Mahaprabhu’s important test. If someone has an expensive camera or piece of any kind of equipment, a greedy person will devise a plan to somehow acquire or steal it. This world is full of cheaters. We lose our time and our life at the hands of these cheaters. Our children and other relatives steal our time and our love and take us far away from Bhagavan.
Mahaprabhu said, “You do not need this son. You may now move on.” Mahaprabhu had the dead boy confirm the nature of samsara.
The boy said, “Your attachment to me is not good. I am the property of God and no one else’s.” Addressing Mahaprabhu, the boy had said, “I am most fortunate to have died while hearing Your sankirtana. Why should I wait for these people? They also will have to leave. I have gone first. What is the problem in this?”
Mahaprabhu was always distributing pure love and devotion. He Himself could not tolerate the bliss of His love. He would shower the devotees with His tears of ecstasy during sankirtana. Mahaprabhu came another day to Srivasa’s house for Visnu Puja, but His tears made His cloth wet. He changed His cloth but because of His asta-sattvika-vikara He could not remain dry. This happened several times. Mahaprabhu said to Gadadhara, “I cannot do this worship. Please, you do it.”
In Navadvipa-dhama, Gaurahari was thus always absorbed in bliss and sankirtana.
[CC-by-NDNC Bhakta Bandhav]