[Hari-katha inspired by the Guru-varga]
Now, the festival of Candana-yatra and Kesava-vrata are going on. Kesavadeva is now bestowing His mercy to those following this vrata. By continuously serving Kesavadeva one makes relationship with Him. The Vraja-devis teach Kesavadeva how to serve His bhaktas. Without learning from the gopis, then Kesavadeva does not know how to properly serve. The Vraja-devis first serve and teach Kesavadeva the process of service. During Candana-yatra, the different sakhis and manjaris and Vrajavasis come and serve Krsna. They smear candana, kasturi, and the paste of saffron flowers along with aguru, camphor, and other ingredients on Krsna’s body. Different gopis paste varieties of candana and use this to serve Kesava. Some of the gopis smear the candana first from Krsna’s feet to His head, and some gopis smear the candana from His head to His feet. The gopis serve Krsna very nicely in this manner.
yajnarthat karmano ‘nyatra
loko ‘yam karma-bandhanah
tad-artham karma kaunteya
[Work done as a sacrifice for Visnu has to be performed; otherwise work causes bondage in this material world. Therefore, O son of Kunti, perform your prescribed duties for His satisfaction, and in that way you will always remain free from bondage. –Vedabase]
When jivas come to this world, they cannot live without performing karma. Those who say, “I do not perform karma,” are cheaters. Mityacarah sa ucyate. To breathe, walk, eat, drink, sleep, or pass, is all karma. So no one can live for even a moment without karma or performing action. And by doing karma, one becomes bound by karma-bandhana. How to be freed of this? In this world, everything is done for one’s own happiness and for the happiness of conditioned souls. So we must learn to worship the Deities of God, as well as Tulasi, Ganga, Yamuna, and Guru and Vaisnavas. By serving them, then one’s bandhana, bondage, is cut. When your attachment is with Hari, Guru and Vaisnavas—the tadiya and madiya vastu—then what you do will no longer by karma, it will be seva, service.
The nature of karma is that when you do action, you wait for the fruits. If you don’t wait for fruits, you still may want pratistha, name and fame, and you think, “I have done this. This is going on by the results of my activities.” This creates a fine layer that binds to the subtle body and in turn binds us to this world.
Many sat-karmis do good activities. When they leave their bodies’ people remember them for a long time. Those who are considered great men, who have done great deeds, they are bound to this world by their karma and cannot get salvation. Napoleon Bonaparte, Shakespeare, Rabindranath Tagore, Subhash Candra Bose, Mahatma Gandhi, and many others, for hundreds or even thousands of years, people remember them, and this binds them to this world. These souls are arrested by karma-bandhana and cannot get mukti. Wherever they may be going, the people remembering them pulls them back down.
On the other hand, when a bhakta follows bhakti and becomes liberated, or in the case of the nitya-siddha Guru-varga, such as Rupa-Raghunatha—remembering them bestows bhakti and mukti from samsara because they are the associates of God in the transcendental world. One who remembers and follows them achieves the transcendental world. Sat-karmis help people by giving charity and help, like Mother Teresa and Sister Nivedita opened hospitals and gave medicine, food, and support for the poor, lame, and destitute. When people remember these sat-karmis, it makes them bound to this world. This karma is an argala, strong bondage. It is impossible to break the bondage of this karma without Divine Grace and as long as one is bound by this karma one cannot become happy.
Scripture instructs how to act to cross maya-bandhana—how to have everything, and still to be neutral, and not to touch anything, to do one’s duty, but to cross this material existence at the same time.
karmany evadhikaras te
ma phalesu kadacana
ma karma-phala-hetur bhur
ma te sango ‘stv akarmani
“Karmany evadhikaras—you should act only for Me,” Krsna said. “This is your right, adhikara.” The eva in karmany eva means that one should do everything for Krsna, that we have the adhikara to act solely for God—not for anyone else. When you do this, you will be freed of the fruits of your actions. Don’t take any fruits from God as a result of serving Him. If children do something for the happiness of their parents, then the parents will naturally take care of their children. This is nature. Why should a child take remuneration from the parent for service done? Doing so makes one separated from his parent. Krsna is the Supreme Father of all beings and thinks about their welfare. If you let Krsna care for you and you serve Him unconditionally, you will be much happier than by trying to do everything for yourself. Therefore Krsna says, “You have adhikara for karma, but, ma phalesu, not for the fruits, offer the fruits to Me without considering yourself the doer. By taking rewards from Me you will become independent and go far away from Me.”
Jivas do everything with their independent desires. Even the majority of those who practice bhajana become disturbed if no fruits come as a result of their bhajana. They think, “I have done bhajana for a long time, but no fruits have come. People do not glorify me. I have no temples or followers. Everyone has kicked me away, but I have nothing. My bhakti and bhajana is useless. Other people have done bhajana and see how many temples, followers, cars, and things they have. They are famous and glorified everywhere. But for me there is nothing.”
But, those who take from God these rewards for their bhajana receive actually less than zero, minus-zero. Their balance of bhajana is worse than zero.
How are the gopis? Asulka-dasika, unpaid maidservants. Also, was Krsna pleased with them? Yes. But He left them, and did not come back for a hundred years. And they suffered so much.
How to be freed of this karma-bandhana? How to be free of this? People collect so much sat-karma. In Caitanya-Siksamrta, Bhaktivinoda Thakura writes: Sat-karmis work, and do everything for the welfare of their family, society, country, and so forth, and then people think about those persons day and night and this binds them to the world.
One day, a sadhu went to a village and saw everyone there was crying. He went to another village and saw everyone crying there as well. For many villages, everyone was crying. He asked why and in response the villagers said, “A person who was a well-wisher and Good Samaritan to everyone has recently passed on. If anyone had any problem, at any time, even midnight, he would come and help. He was more helpful than God, but now he has left his body.”
“Do you have no faith in God?” the sadhu asked.
“God is very cruel! He has taken away our well-wisher. When he was with us, he was more helpful than God. He was more than God for us.”
“If he was more than God, then why did he leave you? He is the cruel one because he left. Why did he leave you? If he was helpful, why didn’t he stay with you? Who is permanently helping you? Who sent him? This person, did he come to this place by his own desire, or was he sent by God? You forgot God, and thought that this person was helpful and all-in-all, therefore God took him back.”
Sadhus’ nature is that they always speak the truth. The villagers said, “Leave here! Don’t give us your advice. We will not follow it.”
“Will this person come and save you at the time of pralaya?” the sadhu asked.
“We will believe in God if He sends that person back to us,” the villagers replied.
The sadhu went to the palace of Janaka Maharaja along with some of the villagers. They asked, “Maharaja Janaka, you are king and helpful for all your citizens. This person was more than your representative. He was helpful for all of us. So why did God take him away from us?”
“I will inquire and inform you,” Janaka Maharaja replied.
Janaka Maharaj asked Dharmaraja what had become of this person. Dharmaraja replied that heaven had been in need of such a good servant, who was selfless and equally helpful to everyone, so he said this person was now in heaven.
“Please send him back,” the villagers begged.
“No, he will not come back to Earth,” Janaka Maharaja replied. “The jivas are given all facility and help, but they forget their soul, God, and their real duty. When you give them all facility, they become more proud, and more eager to enjoy. If I send this person to help the jivas, the jivas will be happy, but it will not make them serve God, and cross maya, and become eternally happy there in the transcendental world. Even after all help comes to them, they run and jump into maya. Karmis perform karma, and the fruits of karma come, and then they do more karma, and then receive the fruits again, and then they do karma again, and receive the fruits again and this goes on in a continual cycle.”
Prabhupada Sarasvati Thakura would describe the condition of silkworms. One silkworm eats all the leaves of a tree and then makes a large nest on all sides made of silk. The nest becomes very large, strong, and the silkworm doesn’t know how to get out. He doesn’t know how to escape. Karmis are like these silkworms. The silkworms are collected by people and are then boiled inside water. Thus the silk is opened and people make long bundles of this silk and use it to make silken cloth. Karma-bandhana is like this. Jivas do good work, but they do not know how to escape from the results. Even after leaving their bodies, the fruits of their karma bind them to this world. People think about them, then how can cross maya? They are pulled back to this world. Therefore, tadiya tubhyam namah—offer yourself to the tadiya-vastu of Bhagavan. Who is tadiya? Ganga, Yamuna, Tulasi, the bhaktas, and so forth. Make relationship with them, and then your bandhana can be broken. This karma-bandhana does not break easily.
So one is advised to worship Salagram and Tulasi. This is prescribed. You should paste candana and offer it to the Lord. The Lord Himself arranges this chance to serve Him. He says, “You serve everyone, so why don’t you serve Me at all? I don’t need so much. You can give everything to others, but just give Me Tulasi and candana. Also, these are bitter, people will not like it much, so give these to Me.”
Still, people do not give. “Then give Me a little water?” the Lord says, “if you come nearby Me through any means, you will be liberated from karma-bandhana. So come to Me.”
In the forest, rsis and maharsis thus perform yajnas and worship the Lord. In Vrndavan, Sandilya Rsi, Bhaguri rsi, Bharga Rsi, Gargi, Nandimukhi, and Paurnamasi Yogamaya, during this month, they arrange for a nice program in Nanda-bhavana. Even before Krsna appeared they arranged this. Nanda-bhavana is situated on Nandisvara-parvata. Siva Thakura appeared as this hill. Nanda Maharaja and the residents of Nandagoan reside on this hill. Nanda Baba’s father is Parjanya Rsi. In the month of Vaisakha, he told Nanda Baba, “You should give water in charity to the birds and everyone. They are thirsty. First give water to Lord Siva, Lord Sri Hari Narayana, and then to the birds, animals, and all people.”
Nanda Baba discussed this with Yasoda Mata. He said, “I will give water for all jivas. But what water should we give? We should arrange caranamrta. Abhiseka water, or Ganga water, is most beneficial. My father, Parjanya, respects Siva. On the day of Ganga Dasahara, then Ganga Devi comes. Bhagiratha did tapa for so long, and when this month finishes, then Surya Narayana the Sun-god, became very happy, and told Bhagiratha, ‘I will help your forefathers, by sending Ganga. Brahma has Ganga, and will give her. When she comes down, then Siva Thakura will carry her on his head, and will help everyone.”
Nanda Baba continued, “Let us pray to Parjanya Rsi for the blessings of Siva Thakura, and by his grace, Ganga Devi may appear in Vraja.”
Nanda and Yasoda prayed to Parjanya Rsi, and he in turn prayed to Siva Thakura for Ganga water in Nandagoan. Before, people did not know that water was underground, inside the Earth, and could be stored and taken from wells. Siva Thakura became pleased with the prayers of Parjanya Rsi and appeared before him, saying, ‘Ganga Devi is present in Heaven as Mandakini, in Patala-loka as Bhogirathi, and on Earth as Bhagirathi. Ganga is not flowing here in Nandagoan above the earth, but she flows beneath. And if you worship and pray to Ganga, she will appear. After praying and worshiping Ganga, dig a well in the earth and she will stay there. From that well, you can give Ganga water to all the Vrajavasis.”
Nanda Baba worshiped Ganga Devi in Nanda-baga, his garden, and he then made a well and with this water he worshiped Thakuraji and then gave water in charity to the Vaisnavas. During Vaisakha-krtya, he worshiped Lord Salagrama and Siva Thakura with this water, and then gave water to all birds, animals, guests, and villagers. Everyone became very pleased.
Dharmaraja came to Nandagoan in the form of a destitute brahmana. He said he was very thirsty and asked for water. The Vrajavasis brought him water, but no matter how much they gave, he asked for more. His thirst was never quenched. Dharmaraja sat outside Nanda Bhavana and drank incessantly. After sometime, the news came to Nanda Baba that this person was drinking and drinking without stopping. “Don’t you know how his thirst will be quenched?” Nanda Baba asked. “Take him caranamrta of Siva Thakura and Lord Sri Hari.” The Vrajavasis gave this caranamrta to Dharmaraja, and then he said, “Now, finally, my thirst is quenched. Up to now, everyone was giving me water, but no caranamrta.”
To give water in charity is karma, but to give caranamrta is not karma. To distribute food is karma, but to distribute prasada is not karma. Anything that is related to Yajnavai Visnu will not give karma-bandhana.
Dharmaraja happily gave a boon to Nanda Maharaja, saying, “Your Nanda-bhavana, Nanda-baga, Nanda-baithak, your gosala, cows, and all the residents of Nanda-bhavana—they will always have the nectarean water of Ganga to nourish them.”
Below Nanda-baga there is a well and all the Vrajavasis go there to collect water, even to this day. The water is amrta—sweet, tasty, clean, and the well never dries up. At most of the other places in Vraja, the water is bitter and salty. The well blessed to the Vrajavasis by Dharmaraja is Ganga water and is very sweet.
After Krsna and Baladeva appeared, Dharmaraja brought water from this well for their abhiseka and service. When Baladeva began to talk, He asked, “Why do all the Vrajavasis go to that well for water?”
“Other water is bitter and does not taste good.”
“Take Krsna and let His feet touch the water in other places,” Baladeva said, “and then all the water will become clean and sweet.”
Yasoda Mata would not let Krsna go out. But on the day of Gopastami, Krsna first came out. He came for darsana of Aslisvara Mahadeva, nearby Nandisvara-parvata, and He jumped in the pond there and swam and played in the water. That water then became sweet. Krsna began to daily swim in Pavana-sarovara from that time, and therefore the water is sweet there as well.
During krsna-lila, Krsna would go and bathe in all the water in the kundas and sarovaras of Vraja-mandala and all the water became sweet and full of nectar—it became His caranamrta.
On one side, there is karma-bandhana, and to get mukti from this, one must take shelter of Krsna, His caranamrta, and His seva.
During the month of Vaisakha, the Vrajavasis daily bathe Lord Sri Hari in the form of Salagrama, and they also give water and worship to Siva Thakura. They worship Salagrama with Tulasi and candana.
When Krsna became three or four years old and started taking the calves out to graze in the forests of Vraja, every day, after Salagram and the household Deities were offered candana, Yasoda Mata smeared candana on His forehead and body. It is hot in the summer when Krsna takes the calves and cows out to graze. So Gargi and Nandimukhi requested Yasoda Mata to cover Krsna’s body with candana before He takes the cows out to graze, otherwise the summer will dry and heat Krsna’s body.
Where can this candana be found in Vraja? This is a tricky and funny story. Jatila and Kutila have a nice garden in Yavata. Many special plants are in this garden, because Abhimanyu regularly goes to Mathura. There, Kamsa has a wonderful garden, with trees of all varieties. Kamsa Maharaja has a good friendship with Abhimanyu and Govardhana Mallah. When Abhimanyu goes to Mathura, Kamsa gives him gifts, so that he continues to be his loyal follower from Vraja. Kamsa gives fruit trees, creepers, and other plants and Abhimanyu brings these to Yavata. Abhimanyu then made a wonderful garden on his land. Kamsa once gave him a special tree that had bark like white-gold. Jatila and Kutila daily watered and served this tree.
One day Jatila asked Abhimanyu, “This new tree you brought has no fruits or flowers. Ayana, this tree is very strange. It has no fruit.”
“This is a very special and costly tree,” Abhimanyu replied.
“What need do we have for this tree if it bears no fruits or flowers?” Jatila thought.
When Abhimanyu was away, then Jatila arranged to sell this tree. Some servants came from Nanda-bhavan and told her, “We were sent by Nanda Maharaja, who heard that you were selling a tree.”
“Yes, yes,” Jatila said, “my garden has a useless tree. I will sell it.”
“How much is the cost?”
“What will you give for it?”
“Nanda Baba said he will give you five cows for this tree.”
“No, no, it is worth more than that. Give six cows, and with calves, and those that are giving milk.”
“Agreed. We will take the tree then.”
The servants from Nanda-bhavan then brought six cows with calves, and took the candana tree to Nanda-bhavan.
When Abhimanyu returned, he asked Jatila, “What happened to the candana tree?”
“I sold it.”
“To who?” Abhimanyu said angrily.
“Are! I sold it for six cows to Nanda Maharaja.”
“You don’t know how much that tree was worth,” Abhimanyu said. “It is a candana tree.”
Nowadays, one kilo of candana wood in Indian costs 10,000 rupees. And Jatila gave a large tree of hundreds of kilos to Nanda Baba for only six cows. Before, in India, one could buy about a six-inch length of candana for twelve grams of gold.
“Go and take the cows back to Nanda Baba!” Abhimanyu insisted, “and return with the candana tree.”
So Jatila and Kutila ran to Nanda-bhavana and requested for the candana tree to be returned. But Nanda Maharaja had already had it cut into pieces and stored away, and some parts had been pasted and used for Thakuraji, and the prasadi-candana was given to Parjanya, Nanda Baba, Krsna, Baladeva, the sakhas, and residents of Nanda-bhavan. Krsna was very happy with this candana and began dancing blissfully. So when Jatila and Kutila arrived, and Jatila said, “My son is angry and wants the candana tree back. And we have brought back your cows, so the deal is canceled,” then, Nanda Maharaja arranged a babul tree that looked like the candana tree and gave it to Jatila and took back his cows.
Jatila returned with the babul tree, and Abhimanyu lamented, saying, “Oh, you have been cheated. This is just a babul! Okay, what can be done. I will make a bull cart with it. But if Kamsa asks about the candana tree, then what will I say? He likes me so much, therefore he gave me this tree. But you didn’t recognize its value.”
Candana trees grow from their roots. If you plant part of the root of a candana tree, then it will grow a new tree. It has no seeds, or flowers and fruits. It grows new trees from its roots. Not all plants grow from seeds. Those that grow from their roots or branches are called ajani-sambhava—they do not grow from seeds. Banana trees are also like this. They grow from their roots, not from the seeds in fruits. So they are called ajani-sambhava, and are created specially by Brahma.
Nanda Baba’s servants planted the first candana tree in Nanda-bhavana, received from Jatila and Abhimanyu, and from that first tree, so many candana trees grew and were planted, from the roots. And they would paste this candana and use it for Krsna during Candana-yatra and during the summer season.
bhagya yadi na thaki ghi tak-tak hale habe ki?
If you give a dog ghee to eat, it cannot digest it. Similarly, Abhimanyu worked hard, and the first candana tree came by him in Vraja-mandala, but then, Krsna’s followers took it, and Abhimanyu only has neem and babul trees. With neem branches, he brushes his teeth, and pastes neem leaves and smears it on his body.
One who eats candana will lose his desire and ability for family life—one will be a brahmacari. There is an Ayurveda medicine called Candraprabha, and taking this, one’s body becomes cool, and one is a good brahmacari. The Vrajavasis would say, “Krsna has taken candana from childhood, so He is a brahmacari. He has no taste for family life.”
Otherwise, how could Krsna dance with millions of gopis without any vikara—transformation? This is because He is a perfect brahmacari. Another thing very helpful for brahmacarya is bael leaves. If you take bael leaves regularly, then your mind, brain, and body will be very cool. You will have no lusty desires.
In Vraja-mandala, Nanda-baga, the garden of Nanda Maharaja, has candana trees. Candraprabha means the rays of the moon. The moon gave its nectar to candana trees, therefore candana and candra have a close connection, even by name.
Before, Rsis and Maharsis would offer candana to Thakuraji, and in the evening, they would drink the abhiseka water, which was offered to Thakuraji and is mixed with candana. Then their bodies are always cool, and their brains are very sharp. There are many special glories of candana.
Krsna likes candana so much, and Siva likes bael. Brahma likes lotuses, because he was born on a lotus. With his four heads, he eats lotus flowers, stems, seeds, and honey. He drinks lotus honey and sings the Sama-veda. He eats the lotus seeds and speaks the Yajur-veda; he eats the lotus stem and speaks the Atharva-veda. And he speaks the Rg-veda when he takes the lotus flower petals.
So Brahma uses the lotus, Siva uses the bael, and Krsna uses candana. These three things are very powerful. But if one has relation with lotus, then he will desire to create, like Brahma. And if one has relation with bael, he will be yogiraja. And if one takes candana, one will not be bhogiraja or yogiraja, he will be free of all problems, everywhere. He will have all specialties and good intelligence.
atmaramas ca munayo
nirgrantha apy urukrame
kurvanty ahaitukim bhaktim
[Suta Gosvami said: All different varieties of atmaramas [those who take pleasure in atma, or spirit self], especially those established on the path of self-realization, though freed from all kinds of material bondage, desire to render unalloyed devotional service unto the Personality of Godhead. This means that the Lord possesses transcendental qualities and therefore can attract everyone, including liberated souls. –VedaBase]
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