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Шрила Бхакти Гаурава Нарасингха Свами - дикша ученик Шрила Бхактиведанта Свами Прабхупады, вайшнав, проповедник, автор книг, инициирующий гуру, санньяси.
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Shrila Bhakti Pramoda Puri Maharaja’s pranama mantra is as follows:
nama om visnu-padaya gaura-presthaya bhu-tale
srimad bhakti-pramodaya puri goswamin iti namine
"I offer my obeisance unto Om Visnupada Shrila Bhakti Pramoda Puri Gosvami, who is most dear to Shri Gaura in this world."
divya-jnana pradatra ca prabhave janma janmani
jnana-vairagya-dehaya sastra-siddhanta samvide
"Birth after birth, may he always bestow and enlighten me with divine knowledge. He is the personification of spiritual wisdom and is the revealer of the conclusions of sastra."
patitanam samuddhare yati-vesadharaya vai
pracaracara karyye ca jagarukaya sarvada
"He has accepted the robes of a sannyasi in order to deliver the fallen souls. He is always attentive to both devotional practice and preaching."
yathoddhavasya-kumarad bhagavadarccane rati
vaisnavanam sarva krtye daksata parama tatha
"In his youth, he developed an attraction towards the worship of the Supreme Lord, in the same way that Shri Uddhava did. He is supremely expert in all the devotional ceremonies of the Vaisnavas."
On the auspicious day of the appearance of Shrila Puri Maharaja, I received a request from Mukunda Dasa as follows:
"Today while doing an offering and reading the pranama-mantra for Shrila B.P. Puri Maharaja, it is mentioned, the service of Shri Puri Maharaja is just as Shri Uddhava to Shri Krishna. Very nice to read it and would love to hear more on this – ‘the service of Shri Puri Maharaja is just as Shri Uddhava to Lord Krishna’."
My reply was as follows:
Uddhava is known as the dear most and intimate friend of Lord Krishna. So much so that Krishna says,
na tatha me priyatama atmayonir na sankarah
na ca sankarsano na srir naivatma ca yatha bhavan
"O Uddhava! Neither Brahma nor Siva are as dear to Me as you; My elder brother Sankarsana is not as dear to Me as you, nor even Laksmi. Even My own Self is not as dear to Me as you." (Bhagavatam, 11.14.15)
From the very beginning of his life, even as a young boy, Shrila Puri Maharaja manifested great attachment towards Lord Krishna. Shri Uddhava carried a message from Krishna to the gopis in Vrndavana and upon his return, he announced that above all, the gopis were the greatest devotees of Krishna. Similarly, in his adult life, Shrila Puri Maharaja carried the message of krsna-bhakti to the world and announced that the greatest devotees of Krishna are the gopis of Vrndavana and among the gopis, the topmost position is held by Shrimati Radharani. Praising the gopis as the greatest devotees, Uddhava prayed to take birth as a blade of grass in Vrndavana so that he may be trampled upon by the lotus feet of the gopis. Shrila Puri Maharaja also had such sentiments towards Vrndavana and the gopis.
asam aho carana-renu-jusam aham syam
vrndavane kim api gulma-latausadhinam
ya dustyajam sva-janam arya-patham ca hitva
bhejur mukunda-padavim srutibhir vimrgyam
"The gopis of Vrndavana gave up their husbands, children, and families who are difficult to renounce, and sacrificed even their religious principles to take shelter of the lotus feet of Krishna, which are sought after even by the Vedas themselves. O! Grant me the fortune to take birth as a blade of grass in Vrndavana, so that I may take the dust of the lotus feet of those great souls upon my head." (Bhag. 10.47.61)
As Caitanya Mahaprabhu has suggested, Gaudiya Vaisnavas accept the Bhagavatam as the topmost pramana (evidence).
In the 10th canto of the Bhagavatam, we are taken to the highest conception of divinity and shown who are the greatest devotees of Krishna. In the conception of other sampradayas, Laksmi, the Four Kumaras, Siva, Candravalli and others are conceived as holding the highest position, but Bhagavatam dismisses all in front of the Vraja-gopis and heralds Shrimati Radharani as the topmost devotee. Indeed, Shrimati Radharani is the full embodiment of mahabhava, of the hladhini-sakti, the internal pleasure potency of Krishna.
The following is an excerpt from "Loving Search for the Lost Servant" by Shrila B.R. Shridhara Maharaja proclaiming the glories of Shrimati Radharani, radha-dasyam, in the Gaudiya Vaisnava conception:
Once, the Diwan of Bharatpur had come on a pilgrimage with his family to the holiest of places, Shri Radha-kunda, the holy lake of Shrimati Radharani. He and his family were circumambulating Radha-kunda. They would fall flat on the ground, offering obeisances lying down with their arms outstretched. Every time they bowed down in this way, they would mark the spot where their fingertips touched the earth. Then they would slowly rise, step forward to where that spot had been marked, and again fall flat, offering their obeisances with great respect and adoration. In this way they were circumambulating the entire Radha-kunda. Upon seeing such intense worship, Paramananda Prabhu, an intimate disciple of our guru maharaja Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, intimated to Prabhupada that the Diwan and his family must have great respect for Radharani to circumambulate the Radha-kunda in such a fashion.
At that time Prabhupada said, "Their angle of vision towards Radha-kunda and Radharani is different from ours. They recognize and revere Krishna. And because Radharani is Krishna's favorite, they also have some reverence for Radha-kunda. But our vision is just the opposite. Our concern is with Radharani. And only because She wants Krishna do we have any connection with Him."
And so, the Gaudiya Vaisnavas know only Radharani. They are concerned only with Her, and Her duties, Her necessities. They are ready to serve Her in all respects, and cannot contemplate any service without Her. That is the highest achievement of the Gaudiya Vaisnavas, that is the special feature of Mahaprabhu's party, and that was announced by Raghunatha Dasa Goswami in his Vilapa-kusumanjali (102):
kalo mayatigamitah kila sampratam hi
tvam cet krpam mayi vidhasyasi naiva kim me
pranair vraje na ca varoru bakarinapi
This verse is a direct prayer to Radharani. It expresses a particular type of hope which is so sweet and reassuring that it is compared with an unlimited ocean of nectar. He says, "There is a hope which is sustaining me and nurturing my existence. With that hope I am somehow passing my days, dragging my life through these tedious times. That nectarine ocean of hope is attracting me and keeping me alive. But my patience has reached its end. I can't endure it any longer. I can't wait any more."
"At this moment if You do not show Your grace to me, I am finished. I shall lose my prospect forever. I shall have no desire to continue my life. It will all be useless. Without Your grace, I can't stand to live another moment. And Vrndavana, which is even dearer to me than my life itself -I am disgusted with it. It is painful; it is always pinching me. And what to speak of anything else, I am even disgusted with Krishna. It is shameful to utter such words, but I can have no love even for Krishna unless and until You take me within Your confidential camp of service." This is the prayer of Raghunatha Dasa.
When Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada would begin to explain this verse, his figure would become transformed. He would become full of emotion; his face would become like that of a phantom.
In this verse, Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami, taking an extreme risk, says, "O Radha, if I do not get Your favour, I don't want anything. I want You and You alone. To have an independent relationship with anyone else, eliminating You, is impossible in my life. You must be first, and then others. Without You, we can never even think of a separate relationship with Krishna." Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja has written that without Radharani's company, Krishna is not beautiful. Everything is relative-dependent. A teacher depends on the student, and the student depends on his teacher. Although Krishna is the enjoyer, He is completely dependent on the enjoyed, Shrimati Radharani. The two are correlative; one cannot be separated from the other. As the enjoyed, Radharani is also absolutely dependent on Krishna, the enjoyer.
Radharani says, "My fate is lost forever because I have given Myself, I have sold Myself to many places. When I heard the flute, I dedicated Myself to the song of the flute. When I heard the name of Krishna, I dedicated Myself to that sound. And when I saw a beautiful picture of Krishna, I wholly dedicated Myself to that picture. So in three places I have sold Myself completely, with no possibility of any happiness or peace in My life. If l had dedicated Myself to only one thing, there might have been a possibility of peace, but because I have dedicated Myself in three different places, I am hopeless.
"Seeing the picture of Krishna, I couldn't contain Myself. I couldn't but give Myself to that beautiful figure, and so I dedicated Myself fully. The name of Krishna also purchased Me fully. And the sweet sound from the flute - that has also drawn Me to the extreme of dedication. So how can I hope for peace in My life? It is impossible, My friends." Radharani did not know it at that time, but the source of Krishna's flute, His name, and His beauty are one. If She could have seen how all three of these meet together, then it would have been possible for Her to have peace of mind. But it is difficult to understand this principle.
How is it that the sound of Krishna's flute, the sound of His name, and a picture of His form are nondifferent from Krishna Himself? Idealism. In Hegel's words, ideal realism. The absolute idea is not to be dismissed as an abstract thing; rather, it is the basis of all existence. Reality is there, but it is ideal realism. And the foundation of the reality of Vrndavana is given by Nityananda, Baladeva: nitaiyer koruna habe, braje radha-krsna pabe, dharo nitaicarana du,khani.
After Bhaktivinoda Thakura describes the position of Radharani in his Saranagati, he says, "I want to serve those who have the service of Radharani in their heart. I want to serve the feetdust of those whose only wealth is the service of Shri Radha. I want to fall before them and take the dust of their holy feet. If you cannot fix your mind in the service of Radharani, then all your attempts to serve Krishna are useless. If you cannot achieve earnestness in the service of Shrimati Radharani, then all your labour for Krishna has gone to hell." We cannot conceive of a sun without heat, nor can we conceive of Godhead without His potency. So also, no conception of Krishna is possible without Shrimati Radharani. We can't know any Madhava without Radha.
She is Krishna's other half, in Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta's language, the predominated moiety. Devotional service as a whole is represented by Her, because both the intensity and the comprehensiveness of Her service to Krishna are unparalleled. There are so many examples of chaste and pious ladies in the ancient history of the Puranas: Saci, the faithful wife of Indra; Sati, the wife of Lord Siva; Laksmidevi, the goddess of fortune; Satyabhama, Krishna's wife in Dvaraka; Rukmini, the principle queen of Krishna in Dvaraka; and even the antagonists of Radharani, headed by Candravali. All of them represent different aspects of Radharani. They all spring from the main potency which is known as Radha.
The name Radha comes from the word aradhania: One who can serve, who can worship, who can give respect, who really loves Krishna, who can render loving service. All of these other ladies who are famous for their chastity and piety are but partial representations of Radharani. If we note the scriptures and scrutinize the position of those virtuous ladies, we'll find that the source of all their chastity and devotion is Shrimati Radharani. She is the fountainhead of devotion. And so Bhaktivinoda says, "I bow down and take the dust of the holy feet of those who have as their only wealth the service of Radharani. I hanker after nothing else." Whoever knows this and always travels on that path with a sincere heart is most fortunate.
It is the ideal that makes one great, not any material possession. One who has the highest ideal is really wealthy. The highest ideal is the most valuable thing we may possess. And less valuable things must be eliminated if we are to concentrate our efforts and save ourselves from useless endeavour. Caitanya Mahaprabhu came to show us that highest ideal - the path of divine love. And we find divine love of Godhead in its highest intensity in His life and teachings of Shrimad-Bhagavatam. The whole Shrimad-Bhagavatam is meant to illustrate the ideal of divine love which reaches its highest expression in Shrimati Radharani.
The Shrimad-Bhagavatam sings very gloriously about the paramour relationship of Radha and Krishna. The Vedas and other Puranas are not so expressive about such confidential pastimes, yet we find a hint of the glories of Radha and Krishna in Shrimad-Bhagavatam. And the Gosvamis have more fully expressed Radharani's devotion in their writings. In Rupa Gosvami's Padyavali, we find Her saying, "My Lord, people say that I have a bad reputation because of My connection with You. I do not feel any trouble in My heart because of this. My concern is that I could not give Myself to You completely. The people in general say that I am illicitly connected with You, but what disturbs Me is that I could not really give Myself to You. I feel that I am not fit for Your service. This is only the trouble within My heart."
And the ecstasy of divine love increases in separation. One day, when Krishna was playing with His cowherd boyfriends in the pasturing grounds of Vrndavana, Krishna suddenly felt extreme separation from Radharani. He sent His best friend Subala to Radharani, saying, "Go to My Radha and fetch Her. Without Her, I can't live. Suddenly I have so much desire for Her company that I can't stand it anymore. Somehow manage to bring Her." Subala said, "How is it possible to bring Her here in the jungle in broad daylight?" Krishna told him, "Somehow manage it!"
Subala thought, "What should I do?" Subala was very intimately connected with the family of Radharani's husband. He went to the house of Radharani and told Her girlfriends, "Krishna can't tolerate separation from Radharani any longer. He is so eager to meet Her that He is going mad. Somehow you have to arrange for Them to meet."
"How is it possible?" the gopis asked. Subala explained to them that Krishna was nearby in the jungle. They discussed between themselves what to do. Subala was a beautiful boy who resembled Radharani. So Subala took the dress of Radharani, and Radharani wore Subala's cowherd dress.
When Radharani was discovered wearing the dress of Subala, She was challenged by Her family members: "Subala! What are you doing here?" In the dress of Subala, Radharani said, "A calf is missing and its mother is mooing. So I have come here looking for that calf." So a calf was given to Radharani, and She carried that small calf on her breast into the forest. In this way, Radharani was disguised as Subala, while Subala, who had taken the dress of Radharani, remained behind in Her room.
Radharani had been given a hint of where Krishna was hiding near the forest's edge. She went to seek Him out. At last, when Radharani saw Krishna, She approached Him in the garb of Subala. Krishna was mad. He could not detect that Radharani had come, but mistook Her for Subala. He said, "Oh, Subala, you have come back without Radharani! Couldn,t you bring Her?"
Radharani began cutting jokes: "No", She said, "lt was impossible for me to bring Her in the daytime." Krishna said, "Then what am I to do? I can,t tolerate My life any longer." Radharani said, "If You say so, I can go to Candravali and bring her." "No, no", Krishna said, "Curd cannot satisfy the thirst for milk. It is not possible!" Krishna was faint with disappointment. Then Radharani embraced Him, saying, "My Lord, can,t You recognize Your maidservant? You failed to recognize Me!" Then Krishna was again full of joy.
Although the pastimes of Radha and Govinda are mentioned in the scrip~ tures, these are all very high things. They are not ordinarily to be expressed in words, but still sometimes we are forced to speak about them because the high ideal of divine love given by Shrimad Bhagavatam is the supreme goal of life . Of course, the scholarship of Sukadeva Gosvami and Srl Gauranga Mahaprabhu have helped, to a certain extent, to establish the dignity of the proposal that love is above knowledge. It was admitted by everyone that Sukadeva held the highest attainment of the learned men of knowledge; he was unanimously admitted by the scholars to hold the highest position. Because of this, when Sukadeva Gosvami came to inaugurate the principle that divine love is above everything else, the scholars had to take notice. Caitanya Mahaprabhu demonstrated to the scho~ lars that His intelligence and scholarship excelled everyone else's. So when He came with the tidings of divine love, then it was easier for the ordinary men to accept it as the highest ideal and try for it.
So Vasudeva Ghosh says, yadi gaura Iia hate, tabe ki haita kemane dharitam de. If Mahaprabhu had not appeared in this Kali~yuga, then how could we tolerate living? How could we sustain our lives? What He has given -the very gist of life, the very taste, the charm of life - without that, we think it is impossible for anyone to live in this world. Such a thing has been invented, discovered by Gauranga. If He had not come, then how could we live? It is impossible to live devoid of such a holy and gracious thing as divine love. Without Caitanya Mahaprabhu, how could we know that Radharam stands supreme in the world of divine love? We have received all these things from Him, and now we think that life is worth living. Otherwise to live would be suicidal.
And serving those who can serve Radharani is the way to approach Her vicinity. By serving the servants of the servants, we are assured of success in getting the grace of Krishna. If somehow one can be counted in the group of Shrimati Radharani's servitors, one's future is assured.
Within the group of Radharani's servitors, we aspire to be rupanugas, followers of Shri Rupa. And the followers of Shri Rupa will have great earnestness to look after the order of Shri Rupa, as he does towards Lalita. In this way, through Rupa Gosvami, our devotional service is going to the highest plane. And our highest gain is only there. Not even our connection with Radharani or Lalita-devi is the highest goal of life, but our highest aspiration is to serve in the Rupanuga sampradaya; that means that our highest attainment is in Shri Rupa's connection.
Radha-dasyam has been said to be the highest attainment. Why? The quality and quantity of rasa that Radharani can draw from Krishna can never be found anywhere else. So if you are situated just behind Radharani, you'll be allowed to taste not only the quantity, but the highest quality of rasa.
No other person can draw such high rasa from Krishna. The fullest, highest type of quality is drawn from Krishna: He gives Himself fully and wholly and deeply. So if you are in Shri Rupa's group, then you can have a taste of that sort of rasa.
In Radharani's camp, when Krishna and Radha are enjoying very solitary pastimes in a secluded place, the grown-up sakhis can't venture to enter the room and assist Them. The young girls, the manjaris, are sent there. The leader of that young group can enter where both Radha and Govinda are very closely connected, when even the sakhis do not venture to go for fear of causing some interruption. But Rupa and the marnjaris can enter there at that time due to their young age. That sort of rasa that cannot be had even through the sakhis can be had only through the manjaris.
Bhaktivinoda Thakura prays to gain admission there. He has such a high quality of aspiration. He says rupanuga hoite sei doya. He runs to be enlisted in the group of Rupa, who can grant us that sort of prospect. And Prabhodananda Sarasvati has described the prerequisite for understanding all these things:
yatha yatha gaura padaravinde
vindeta bhaktim krta punya-rasih
tatha tathotsarpati hrdy akasmat
radha padambhoja sudhambhu rasih
"As much as you surrender to the lotus feet of Shri Gauranga, you'll find yourself safely situated in the service of Radha~Govinda. Don't try to approach Radha~Govinda directly; if you do, there may be some difficulty. But the lotus feet of Shri Gauranga will take you there safely."
In my Sanskrit poem dedicated to Bhaktivinoda Thakura, I have explained all these points:
sri-gauranumatam svarupa-viditam rupagrajenadrtam
rupadyaih parivesitam raghu-ganairasvaditam sevitam
jivadyair abhiraksitam suka-siva-brahmadi sammanitam
sri-radha-pada-sevanamrtam aho tad datum iso bhavan
"What was sanctioned by Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu by His descent was intimately known only to Shri Svarupa Damodara Gosvami. It was adored by Sanatana Gosvami and served by Rupa Gosvami and his followers. Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami tasted that wonderful thing fully and enhanced it with his own realization. And Jiva Gosvami supported and protected it by quoting the scriptures from different places. The taste of that divine truth is aspired for by Brahma, Siva, and Uddhava, who respect it as the supreme goal of life. What is this wonderful truth? Shri radha-pada-sevana: that the highest nectar of our life is the service of Shrimati Radharani. This is most wonderful. O Bhaktivinoda Thakura, you are our master. It is within your power to allow them to bestow their grace upon us. You are in a position to bestow the highest gift ever known to the world upon us all. It is at your disposal. O Bhaktivinoda Thakura, please be kind to us and grant us your mercy."
So Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, our most benevolent Lord, has come to search for His long lost servants and to give to them this highest ideal of divine love. Gaura Haribol!
(The following discourse was spoken by Shrila Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada in the Sarasvata Natya-mandira, Shri Gaudiya Matha, at 6:00 pm in the evening of Shri Radhastami, September 19th, 1931)
There is one personality whose name is not referred to in the Shrimad Bhagavatam, yet the readers of Shrimad Bhagavatam nuture the hope of becoming that person's devoted servant. May that personality, who is everything to Bhagavan, completely destroy our false-ego and grant us shelter at Her feet.
Today is Her appearance day. Having accrued all varieties of compassion from Bhagavan, she distributes that as gifts to all. May that personification of great mercy manifest within our hearts and make Her appearance there. May Her appearance day be the concern of our adoration.
Generally we hear that the whole world is maintained by Govinda. Many people discuss about Govinda in this way. Yet there is one whom Govinda Himself considers as His sarvasva – His all in all. Without taking shelter of that personality, we will not be able to comprehend what sarvasva actually means. The word sva means 'one's own', and sva also means 'treasure.' Sva means Govinda's own and also one who is Govinda's treasure. She is the complete wealth of Govinda – the wealth of the wealth of Govinda. She is Govinda's sarvasva-vastu. When we make Her our worshippable object, then we will understand the actual meaning of worship.
All the sastras loudly proclaim that those things in relation to Bhagavan are the objects of worship. Apart from Him, no one else can be worthy of the word aradhya (worship). At present we are bound by ignorance and we have forsaken our search, cheating ourselves out of attaining prema. At the time when anarthas arise, we mistake Him for something else. Our ultimate goal is artha (that which is necessary), the opposite of which is anartha. If we do not serve those innermost necessary ideals, or perfections that are available to us, and if we do not gain instructions on the matter of service, then we will be ruled by our own false-ego, rendering service unto something else other than that which is actually worthy of service.
Only divine love for God is worthy of worship. Understanding this point clearly, we live with the fervent hope that we will eventually be counted amongst Her retinue. Otherwise, it is better for us to die thousands of times.
asa-bharair amrta-sindhu-mayaih kathancit
kalo-mayatigamitah kila sampratam hi
tvan cet krpam mayi vidhasyasi naiva kim me
pranair-vrajena ca varoru bakarinapi
"O Varoru, my beautiful, most magnanimous Goddess, my heart is flooded with an ocean of nectarean hopes. I have somehow been passing my time until now eagerly longing for Your grace, which is an ocean of ever cherished nectar. If still you do not bestow Your mercy on me then of what use to me are my life, the land of Vraja or even Shri Krsna who without You, is simply a mighty hero the destroyer of demoniac forces like Baka." (Vilapa-kusumanjali 102)
ha natha gokula-sudhakara su-prasanna
vaktraravinda madhura-smita he krpardra
yatra tvaya viharate pranayaih priyarat
tatraiva mam api naya priya-sevanaya
"O Lord, O ambrosial moon of Gokula, O Lord whose beautiful face is like a lotus flower, O sweetly smiling one, O You who are soft and compassionate, so I may render service unto You, please take me to where Your beloved sports in loving pastimes with You." (Vilapa-kusumanjali 100)
This is the devotee's only desirable hope – when will that ocean of nectarean hope bear fruit? I believe it is imperative that I maintain my life because of that hope. But because our eagerness does not increase, that hope is not completely attained – that hope is not fruitful. If that hope is not fulfilled today, if today Govinda's sarvasva does not manifest in our hearts, then we have been deceived. You will not be able to find anyone more unfortunate than us in the history of the world. If we are cheated out of serving that personality whose mercy awards us everything we need, including residence in the Lord's holy dhama, and all things connected to Him, and if we cannot understand Her identity or discover Her within the 18,000 verses of the Shrimad Bhagavatam, then our study of the Shrimad Bhagavatam has been pointless.
Being intimately acquainted with Her identity, Shri Gaurasundara has spoken to us on the topic of unnata-ujjvala-rasa (the highest mellows of conjugal love) , explaining the various ways of serving the Lord and the process of pure service. It is only because He spoke to us about ujjvala-rasa that we may understand the topic, as well as the opposite – the meager splendor of material rasa.
In order to incite us to render service unto Him, Bhagavan has personally given us knowledge of Himself in so many ways. However it is necessary that we fully understand that personality who has rendered such perfect service to Bhagavan that He has made Her the object of His own service. Those who praise Her can award us the qualification to serve Her and they can manifest anuraga (attachment) for Her lotus feet within our innermost heart. The intelligence and strength to serve Her is attained by accepting the association of Her beloved friends who are under Her shelter – in this way we may realize that service to Her is our highest objective.
When we can understand, through the instructions of the mahajanas, that She is Bhagavan's sarvasva, we must proceed to serve Her, knowing that the prosperity of worship only exists in Her. From this day forward, Her appearance day, if we engage in Her service then we shall become qualified to reach the pinnacle of the highest type of auspiciousness.
All of us do not pray for that highest auspiciousness. But if by some ajnata-sukrti we obtain the association of one of the associates of Vrsabhanu-nandini, who is the personification and source of supreme auspiciousness, and if we are granted the actual good fortune of hearing genuine discussions about Her, then we can attain the inspiration to journey along the path of highest auspiciousness.
If we deprive ourselves of rendering service to and taking shelter of She who means everything to Nanda-nandana, the emporium of rasa (akhila-rasamrta-murti) as well as Her associates, then we will never attain the qualification to serve Govinda. Firstly, to understand Her identity, we believe that it is necessary to know Her name. But while studying the Bhagavata we cannot find any occurrence of Her name, we only find descriptions of Her form, qualities, the distinctive characteristics of Her companions and Her pastimes. In Bhagavatam, we find everything about Govinda's all in all, with the exception of Her name. But we discover this in the verses of Shrimad Bhagavatam:
jnanam me paramam-guhyam yad vijnana-samanvitam
sarahasyam tad-anganca grhana gaditam maya
"To be merciful upon you I will teach you the most esoteric knowledge of Me, including the realization of My nature and entourage, the inconceivable mystery of loving devotion or prema-bhakti, and its constituent part in the form of devotional practice or sadhana-bhakti. Now hear My message attentively, and accept what I impart to you." (Bhag.2.9.30)
kalena nasta pralaye vaniyam veda-samjnita
mayadau brahmane prokta dharmo yasyam mad-atmakah
tena prokta sva-putraya manave purva-jaya sa
tato bhrgv-adayo 'grhnan sapta brahma-maharsayah
"The message of the Vedas is eternal religion, non-different from Me. When in the course of time those eternal teachings disappeared from view with the universal cataclysm, I imparted them to Lord Brahma at the dawning of a new creation." (Bhag 11.14.3)
The Lord explained all these topics to Brahma, the original person, but after some time the people of this world forgot the Lord's words because the stream of their thoughts were subjected to the effects of old age and destruction.
jnanam parama-guhyam me yad vijnana-samanvitam
sarahasyam tad-anganca grhana gaditam maya
"As I speak, listen to Me and try to understand. Knowledge about Me is extremely confidential." That knowledge is endowed with realization, it is knowledge possessed with confidentiality – it is the supreme secret. Rahasya means rahasi sthitah – this means that those secrets cannot be assimilated by any external force, nor can any branch of those secrets be grasped. Due to the currents of thought that exist in the external world, we have forgotten the essential objective of taking shelter at the feet of those who have true knowledge of the atma. Bhagavan is ever ready to bestow this knowledge.
Bhagavan told Brahma: "As I speak, listen to Me and try to understand. Without My mercy no one is eligible to hear or assimilate this message. Only through My mercy can anyone obtain this confidential knowledge. What am I? What is My form? What is My svarupa? What are My qualities? What are the distinctive characteristics of My confidantes? What is My lila? My supramundane pastimes that are surcharged with rasa far exceed the path of mundane sentiments. There is no way to attain this without the potency of My mercy. I am the storehouse of all transcendental qualities – I am not speaking about those qualities that are contaminated with the modes of passion and ignorance, but of those that are the foundation for creating, maintaining and destroying the universe. I am distinguished by these attributes and I am the active cause of all effects, thus I am the essential original principle. This can only be realised by attaining My mercy." In this way the words mad-anugraha (My mercy) have been used. Information concerning Bhagavan's parts and parcels, information on confidential topics related to Him, information concerning realized knowledge – specifically that which is endowed with spiritual consciousness, and information concerning His opulence – these are all supremely confidential and non-dualistic. It can never be initiated at any period or for any reason without the express mercy of the Lord. This secret knowledge is thoroughly expressed in the beginning of the catuh-sloki verses of the Shrimad Bhagavatam. We are most fortunate that Shri Gaurasundara has revealed this to the world. A secret topic has been mentioned, but the name of that personality about whom this secret is concerned has not been uttered. Because it is a secret, it should not be revealed to those advocating foolish ideologies and thus it has not been openly disclosed. After hearing the pastimes of Nanda-nandana as narrated in the Bhagavata, such people do not gain strong faith, and rejecting all these topics they simply deliberate upon the impersonal non-dual nature of the Lord, which is favorable to their mundane realisations. Some of them consider it reasonable to merge into that. Without hearing from a proper source, their perceptions will be perverted. Due to their vehement hatred of service to the Lord, such persons can never understand topics concerning the intrinsic nature of bhakti. Due to the trajectory of the sun, the appearance day of the Supreme Goddess who is fully imbued with rasa, has arisen in our own radiantly pure hearts. The roaming sun is revealing that Supreme Goddess. Therefore, today the demigods are also showing us great favour by revealing this secret.
It is our duty to surrender unto one who is acquainted with that secret. A poet by the name of Manohara Dasa has said:
radha-pada-pankaja bhakata ki asa
dasa manohara kara ta 'piyasa
"The hope of the devotees is that they may serve the lotus feet of Shrimati Radharani. This is also Manohara Dasa's desire."
The exclusive aspiration of the greatest devotees of the Lord is service to the lotus feet of Radha:
Shri radha-pada-dasyam-eva paramabhistam hrda dharayan
karhi syam tad-anugrahena paramadbhutanuragotsavah
"When will I relish that most wonderful festival of attachment to the lotus feet of Shri Radha by holding that most supreme desire of serving the Divine Couple, within my heart?" (Radha-rasa-sudhanidhi 259)
In his asta-padis, Shri Jayadeva has said:
kamsarir-api samsara-vasana-bandha srnkhalam
radham adhaya hrdaye tatyaja vraja-sundarih
"The enemy of Kamsa (Shri Krsna) abandoned the other beautiful damsels of Vraja and took Radha within His heart, for she was like a chain that tied him tightly to his supreme and essential desire to enjoy the rasa dance." (Gita-govinda 3.1)
At the rasa-sthali all the gopis are present with Gopinatha, absorbed in playful pastimes of rasa. When Varsabhanavi (Shrimati Radharani) arrived at the rasa-sthali, She saw that unlimited gopis were dancing in a circle, all of them fully occupied in serving the Lord. Feeling sorrow within Her mind, the daughter of Vrsabhanu Maharaja thought, "Today My Krsna is in the hands of others! Today My own associates are busy enjoying pastimes with Him!" Thus, to nurture vipralambha-bhava – which actually nourishes sambhoga-rasa – rather than taking part, Varsabhanavi ran away from the rasa-sthali. At this point Jayadeva Prabhu has written, "Krsna, the enemy of Kamsa, suddenly broke away from the rasa-sthali." Samsara-vasana-bandha srnkhalam – with thoughts of Radha in His heart, Krsna abandoned all the other beautiful damsels of Vraja. When someone rejects the shelter of Radhika, any expertise they may have in pleasing the senses of Krsna can never conform with exclusive heartfelt service to Him. All the gopis are direct expansions of Radhika, and while they remain proudly under the shelter of Krsna's sarvasva, Shrimati Radhika, they can supply Krsna the topmost pleasure:
Shriman rasa-rasarambhi vamsi-vata-tata-sthitah
karsan venu-svanair gopir gopinathah Shriye 'stu nah
(Cc. Adi 1.17)
Shrimad Gopinatha nurtures the mellows that manifests during the rasa-lila. Standing at the shore near Vamsi-vata, He attracts all the gopis by the sound of His flute. May He grant us all auspiciousness.
We will never assent to enjoying Shri Krsna (sambhoga) without taking shelter of She who is His all in all. To shed light on this, the author of the asta-padi reveals something that supplements the description in the Bhagavata when he says, tatyaja-vraja-sundarih – as all the gopis danced in the rasa-lila, Krsna abandoned them in order to find Shri Radhika who resided in His heart. The fetters of the love of all the other gopis are powerless, weak and susceptible in comparison to the bonds of Varsabhanavi which are extremely strong and powerful. All the gopis took shelter of Vrsabhanu-nandini's adhirudha-mahabhava – overwhelmed by mohana, madana and other intense feelings of separation, they went to find Krsna. They all understood that without taking shelter at the lotus feet of Varsabhanavi, Govinda's sarvasva, madhura-rasa is never completely nourished. All the loving sentiments with which the various gopis perform their services, simultaneously exist in Varsabhanavi exclusively in their entirety. Deserting all the other gopis, who were immersed in feelings of prositabharttrka etc. Krsna was attracted by Varsabhanavi's captivating charms, since She possesses all these loving sentiments in full. Thus He set out to find that personality who even attracts the all-attractive One. The gopis are expansions of Radhika and are eternally a portion of She who is the original source – they could not bind Krsna, for He completely belonged to Radhika. Thus She enticed Krsna, who attracts everyone, from the rasa-sthali. One can only understand such topics if the functions of the soul have awakened to the taste of madhura-rati (divine love). But those whose hearts contain an intense mood of vatsalya-rasa can also completely appreciate the sweetness and beauty of such pastimes.
All the gopis came to participate at the rasa-sthali, attracted by Krsna and charmed by the sweet sound of His flute. Again, when Varsabhanavi, the complete embodiment of madhura-rati, desired to offer service, then the object of our service Nanda-nandana Gopinatha Radha-ramana discarded the general attraction of all the other gopis and was captivated by Shri Varsabhanavi's charm. He who is most attractive became attracted. Therefore, when liberated jivas attain the eligibility to fathom Radhika's identity, they consider the following:
karmibhyah parito hareh priyataya vyaktim yayur jnanina
stebhyo jnana-vimukta-bhakti-paramah premaika-nisthas tatah
tebhyas tah pasu-pala-pankajadrsas tabhyo 'pi sa radhika
prestha tadvad iyam tadiya-sarasi tam nasrayet kah krti
"The jnanis have attained the distinction of being dearer to Lord Hari than those who follow the path of karma. Even dearer to the Lord are those who have abandoned knowledge, understanding that the path of bhakti is higher. Even more superior are those who have attained love for Krsna. The gopis are most exalted of all, and amongst them Shri Radhika is certainly the dearmost of Shri Krsna. And Radha-kunda is as dear to Krsna as She is. Therefore, which fortunate soul will not take shelter of Radha-kunda?" (Shri Upadesamrta 10)
krsnasyoccaih pranaya-vasatih preyasibhyo 'pi radha
kundam casya munibhir abhitas tadrg eva vyadhayi
yat presthair apy alam asulabham kim punar bhakti-bhajam
tat premedam sakrd api sarah snatur aviskaroti
"It has been established by great sages that amongst all the beloved Vraja-Gopis, Shri Radha is Krsna's most treasured object of love. Similarly, Her kunda is just as dear to Him. One who bathes even once in the waters of Radha-kunda attains love for Krsna which is extremely difficult to achieve even for great devotees, what to speak of ordinary devotees." (Shri Upadesamrta 11)
Shri Radhika is the abode of Shri Krsna's intense love, and amongst all other dear associates, She is the most illustrious and the most beloved in all respects. Uddhava and other great devotees pray for the dust of the feet of the gopis, and all the gopis consider themselves most fortunate if they obtain Her shelter. The topmost devotees, who are drawn towards madhura-rasa and who have reached the topmost levels of devotion to Bhagavan, take refuge in the land of Varsabhanavi's pleasure pastimes and bathe in Her lake, Radha-kunda. With a sentient attitude they constantly bathe and reside there. Those who have loyalty towards Saibya and Candra do not even have the qualification to drink there. To constantly reside on the banks of that lake and to bathe there with a mindful attitude is not achieved by any common, fortunate person. So long as the divinity of Varsabhanavi's youth and nature does not become the subject of our reflection, we will never fully comprehend the glories of achieving Her shelter.
In order to perform bhajana, it is essential for the students of the Bhagavata to know Her Name. Bhajana begins with nama. One cannot begin bhajana starting with lila.
prathamam namnah sravanam-antah-karana-suddhyartham-apeksyam. Suddhye cantah-karane rupa-sravanena tad-udaya-yogyata bhavati. Samyag-udite ca rupe gunanam sphuranam sampadyate sampanne ca gunanam sphurane parikara-vaisistyena tad-vaisistyam sampadyate. Tatas tesu nama-rupa-guna-parikaresu samyak sphuritesu lilanam sphuranam susthu bhavatity-abhipretya sadhana-kramo likhitah.
"For the purification of the heart it is necessary first of all to listen to the chanting of the Holy Name. After the heart has been purified by listening to the Holy Name the fitness for the manifestation of the holy Form is attained on hearing the recital of scriptural accounts of the divine form. After the full appearance of the divine form, the divine qualities manifest themselves. After the appearance of the divine qualities, due to the characteristic traits of servitors, the knowledge of the distinctive and perfect identification of the devotee arises. Subsequent to this, after the full manifestation of the Name, form, quality and servitor has taken place, the transcendental activity of God manifests itself. For this reason this account of the successive stages of sadhana is written." (Krama-sandarbha commentary on Shrimad Bhagavatam 7.5.18)
Therefore, if our contemplation on rasa is not born from an attraction to the Holy Name, then we are not qualified to study Bhagavan's form, qualities and pastimes. Some may have attained external, mundane perfection in grammar, however, as long as their conduct conflicts with that of realized souls, the topic of the Lord's rasa-lila will never be grasped by them. For this reason, Shri Gaurasundara has explained nama-bhajana. Along with the taraka-brahma-nama (the Divine Name that grants deliverance) we find the word 'hare' and if one does not understand the primary meaning (vidvad-rudhi) of this word, there will be difficulty. Even when we consider the word 'rama,' many times we are compelled by historical concerns. Repeatedly, allegorical and metaphysical theories, as well as the fictitious notion of imposing human nature upon the Supreme Lord ruin our pure intelligence. Those who lack rahasya-jnana (knowledge of confidential truths) and try to be an intermediary for darsana of Radha-Govinda, will finds that knowledge concealed from them. In the maha-mantra, the word 'Hara' which denotes Varsabhanavi, becomes the word 'Hare' in sambodhanatmaka-pada (the vocative case). In the maha-mantra, the word 'Rama' refers to Radhika-ramana Rama in the vocative case. Those who have not achieved the qualification to enter into madhura-rati and have not obtained rahasya-jnana consider that 'Hare' is simply the vocative form of Hari. Some even say that the word 'rama' means atma-rama (one who is self-satisfied) and go no further than that.
To declare that Purusottama alone exists is to present only half of His true identity. Those words that do not express the other half only mislead us. When we are cheated of the conception of a Supreme Divine Couple, we will also reject the idea of the non-difference between saktimana and sakti (the Potent and the Potency) – then, whatever small understanding we may already have of Purusottama also degrades, and results in the theory of an impotent God.
The conception of Radha-Govinda is the most complete. Discussions on anugatya-dharma towards Purusottama who exists alone can only terminate in vatsalya, sakhya and dasya-rasa – the topic of unnata-ujjvala-rasa is not discussed. Direct words such as Radhanatha, Radha-ramana etc. describe His totality and completeness; words such as Brahman or Paramatma can never establish this. All those who traverse through the kingdom of sadhana-bhakti, and then the realm of bhava-bhakti in search of prema-bhakti must realise that the topmost pinnacle of prema-bhakti is only found in the divine love of Varsabhanavi and nowhere else. Without Her shelter, the jiva achieves very little eligibility.
When we pass over Devi-dhama, Viraja, Brahmaloka, and we cross beyond all the conceptions of opulence found in Paravyoma, as well as the informal moods of friendship and parental affection found in Goloka, situated in our eternally perfect spiritual identity and familiar with the topics of Radha-ramana, then our qualifications will be so great that we will consider ourselves extremely fortunate and our service shall rise to the zenith of perfection. This cannot simply be called 'realization,' or aparoksa-anubhuti. It is not the aparoksa-anubhuti described by the jnanis. This thing is an extraordinary affair called mohana and madana. These things are known as udghurna, citra-jalpa and maha-bhava. Presently we reside within our gross bodies, which present many obstacles for us – even the sensitivity of our subtle bodies causes us problems. If the pursuit of our soul is without the unhindered and incessant shelter of Varsabhanavi, then we will never find it. Thus, taking the dust from the feet of the best of rupanugas, Shrila Dasa Gosvami Prabhu, upon our heads, we earnestly pray:
ha devi! kaku-bhara-gadgadayadya vaca
yace nipatya bhuvi dandavad udbhatartih
asya prasadam abudhasya janasya krtva
gandharvike! nija-gane gananam vidhehi
"O Goddess Gandharvika! Feeling intense distress I fall on the ground like a stick and implore You with many words and in a faltering voice to be merciful to this fool and accept me as one of Your own associates." (Gandharva-prarthanastakam 2)
(First printed in The Gaudiya, Vol. 10, No. 11 in October 1931, and reprinted in Shri Caitanya Sarasvata Matha's periodical, Shri Gaudiya Darsana, Vol. 4, October 1958)
Swami B.G. Narasingha
(The following is an excerpt from a lecture by Shrila Narasingha Maharaja at Govindaji Gardens on 28th August 2009 on the occasion of Shri Radhastami and the Vyasa Puja celebration of Shrila Narasingha Maharaja)
The Upadesamrta with the illuminations of Shrila Shridhara Maharaja has been printed and this is a very befitting day for this book to come out. The front cover has a picture of Rupa Gosvami's samadhi, and on the back there is a picture of Radha-kunda. Rupa Gosvami and Radha-kunda – these things are deeply connected from the plane of Krsna consciousness in Goloka Vrndavana.
Mahaprabhu considered Radha-kunda to be non-different from Radharani. So the question may arise, how should we deal with Radha-kunda? The answer is – the same way we would deal with Radharani. How would you deal with Radharani in the temple? How are we dealing with Radharani? If you are a pujari you have some dealings with Radharani. Then, the rest of us – what dealings do we have with Radharani? The answer is pretty obvious – through Shri Guru and the Vaisnavas. These are paramount to our dealings with Radharani.
Radha and Krsna are present in the form of the Deity. There we have the opportunity to perform personal service – dressing, bathing, offering food, flower garlands, scented oils etc. But they stand very still and sometimes they do not change their look.
But we should not think that it is idol worship. Idol worship means where there is no life. Nowadays in modern Hinduism, even temple pujaris have become accustomed to call the Deity ‘the idol’. They'll happily tell you which ‘idol’ they are worshiping at the temple. The very definition of the word ‘idol’ means a form of a god, but it is lifeless. No life is there. The sri-murti, the Deity, is never lifeless. It is always full of life – Krsna life. Otherwise it is not a murti. It is only a statue. Then it might be considered to be an idol. When does a Deity become an idol? Can a Deity become an idol? Yes it can.
When those who worship the Deity fail to respect the devotees, then at that point Deity worship becomes idol worship. This means that Krsna is no longer present and that poor fellow is simply worshiping a lifeless statue.
Abhirama Thakura was an associate of Lord Nityananda. Sometimes he would go to a temple to take darsana and when he would prostrate himself before the deity, if Krsna was not there, then the deity would just explode into pieces and fall on the floor. It was a serious thing if Abhirama Thakura was coming to your temple for darsana!
Now why would that happen? Because people sometimes keep a statue of Krsna for the sake of collecting money from innocent people who have no discrimination about who is a Vaisnava, what is a proper Deity etc. They are simply roaming and searching for Krsna blindfolded. Why did the deity break? Was it Abhirama Thakura’s power? No – it was Krsna’s power! Krsna's potency could not tolerate a pure devotee bowing down before a lifeless statue, even of Krsna.
Once, Abhirama Thakura offered his obeisances to the sons of Nityananda Prabhu and they had all died except for Vircandra Gosvami. If Abhirama Thakura offered obeisance and that person was not actually a Vaisnava then they would die. Generally, false Vaisnavas avoided Abhirama Thakura. If the news came that Abhirama Thakura had come to the village for some purpose, all the false Vaisnavas would leave to visit their aunty in some other place!
One day Abhirama Thakura was coming to Puri to have darsana of Mahaprabhu. At that time there was also a young boy named Gopala-Guru. During Mahaprabhu’s time Gopala was a young boy, but later he grew up and was the leader of many Vaisnavas. On this occasion he found himself between Mahaprabhu, who was in His room and Abhirama Thakura who was coming down the hallway. Gopala was so frightened that he turned around, ran back and jumped onto Mahaprabhu's lap, wrapping his arms around Mahaprabhu's neck. He understood that he would be safe there, because if Abhirama Thakura offered obeisance in that direction, Mahaprabhu would protect him. He thought of himself as not being a real Vaisnava. That type of thinking is only found in a true Vaisnava.
To think of ones self as the least qualified is the actual qualification of the most qualified. But we can't artificially do that. The tendency is there that once we hear that the most qualified are the ones that feel the most unqualified then we start saying, “No, I'm not qualified prabhu!” But just get a hold of yourself! You are trying to imitate the highest devotee. You can't just say, "I'm not qualified!" Words without meaning and without feeling are best not spoken.
What is our path to become a real Vaisnava? Not in the sense of becoming the highest Vaisnava – no one should think like that. But we do aspire to become a real Vaisnava. Why did we join Krsna consciousness? It is not unfair or improper to aspire to become pure. Otherwise why are we here? We aspire not just to become devotees of Krsna, but we aspire to become pure devotees of Krsna. We do not aspire to become mixed devotees. What do we aspire for? We know that only pure devotion pleases Krsna, so we aspire for pure devotion.
At the beginning of his Upadesamrta, Rupa Gosvami sets down a simple path of self-control. The first thing that we have to control is our mouth. The mouth does two things: it eats and it speaks. Its habit is to eat dirty and nasty things, and to speak dirty and nasty things. What nasty things do people eat? That is pretty obvious if you go down to the market. We generally think that dirty things means dead animals. But, there is a big vegetable section at the market – that is also a dirty thing. Anything that is not offered to Krsna is considered to be a nasty or dirty thing. In Bhagavad-gita Krsna says that, “If you eat vegetables which are not offered to Me, then you are eating sin.”
Devotees are always cautious to offer their food to Krsna first in their house and especially in their temple or asrama. Sometimes, in the course of life's duties and journey a devotee may have to eat outside, in someone else's house or sometimes in a restaurant while traveling. But a devotee doesn't like to eat in a restaurant. If someone says there will be prasadam in a half an hour; then he doesn't say, "Hey, why don't we go to the Pizza Hut tonight instead!"
This is what happens amongst the non-devotees. It happens all over the world all the time. Restaurants are huge in big cities. People skip cooking and go to a restaurant. We never skip prasadam in a favour of eating in a restaurant! Of course, someone may go and eat in a Govinda's Restaurant, but even then, it is better you take prasadam in a temple and stay away from the Govinda's Restaurant also. In the beginning, Govinda's Restaurant was off limits to the devotees. Prabhupada never allowed devotees to go to Govinda's Restaurant. When there is a temple prasadam why you want to go to the restaurant?
Therefore it is said that devotees do not like to eat in restaurants, but sometimes they may have to. There lies the ultimate principle – always remember Krsna and never forget Him. In any circumstance outside of the ideal circumstance, we remember Krsna and mentally offer everything to Him. But in the temple we can bring that remembrance into shopping, cooking, cleaning etc. for Krsna. But outside, it takes a little bit more to keep that in focus.
The first thing that Rupa Gosvami outlines in Upadesamrta is self-control, and the first aspect of self-control is in relation to what you eat and what you speak. You must train yourself to take krsna-prasadam and train yourself to speak about Krsna, to chant Krsna's Names and that also mean to speak with Krsna's devotees. That generally means speaking about Krsna. So self-control begins with controlling our speech and our eating, then Rupa Gosvami explains about controlling the other senses. Through eleven simple verses he takes us all the way to the highest conceptions within the service of Radharani in Vraja. It is not that we will always be on level one, but we should definitely concern ourselves with level one if we want to get to level two. Once we are at level two it's only nine more stages till the eleventh stage and things become very sweet even before that. But if we do not follow that, then we won't even get to level two, nor to the third step, the fourth step and so on.
Why we are observing my appearance day today? Actually I came late from Mexico, so Giri Maharaja and Madhava Maharaja thought it was a good idea to observe it on Radhastami because ultimately our guru represents the service of Krsna, and the service of Krsna is the domain of Radharani. She is Bhakti-devi, therefore our guru represents Shrimati Radharani.
Although the ultimate representation of guru is that he represents Shrimati Radharani, still, we are not to deal with him in that exact way. Similarly we know that as Rupa-manjari, Rupa Gosvami is one of the closest associates of Radharani in the spiritual world. But we are not to deal with him as Rupa-manjari – we are to deal with him as Rupa Gosvami. The other side is there and that is waiting in eternity. If you can't deal with him properly on this side as a Gosvami, then how will you deal with him on that side as a manjari? That is not possible. You first have to deal with the saints here on this side properly – not skip over that and just try to imagine you have a connection far, far away in the land of Goloka Vrndavana.
Once, during the time before we had emails, somebody wrote me a long letter. It was handwritten on graph paper with all these little squares and I thought, "This is madness. Did this come from a lunatic asylum?" It didn't – it came from a godsister. The first few pages she was asking about meditation – “Can this meditation on Prabhupada be performed?” The first part of the meditation was that Prabhupada has come from his morning walk and into the temple. We hand him some flowers and he sits on a Vyasasana and we offer him garlands. Then, at a certain point, it changed. His dhoti shifted to another color and all of the sudden he was being meditated on as being a gopi or a manjari. It went on and on with all of these types of things. I wrote back and said, “Up to this page it is fine because you really used to offer Prabhupada a flower and you really did used to give him a flower garland and you really did wash his feet etc. All these things really happened and you can meditate on that if you want. That is called smaranam. But everything else after that is a total speculation. It never happened. You are taking this into a realm where you have no assurance whatsoever. You should simply understand that our gurudeva has an intimate connection with Radharani and is Her representative here. It's very similar with Krsna also. When Shrila Shridhara Maharaja was asked something about krsna-lila he laughed and said, “That is for the next life, that is rather a dreamy thing."
We are to concern ourselves with sankirtana and Mahaprabhu. Service to Mahaprabhu is more important and there is no service of Mahaprabhu without serving the devotees. It is said that rather than trying to approach Krsna and Radharani directly, you just approach the service of Mahaprabhu. Accept the service of Mahaprabhu and worship Mahaprabhu's lotus feet and one fine day you'll wake up and you will find that you are fully absorbed in the service of Radha-Govinda. You don't even have to make a separate endeavor. This is a great secret within Gaudiya Vaisavism. Everything comes to the devotee who fully surrenders at Mahaprabhu's lotus feet. But, if you simply try to surrender directly to Krsna, you will have problems.
That is the most difficult thing to do. Even if you succeed it is not complete. Then Krsna Himself says, “Now that you have done that, you have to go to this department.” He is not the ultimate department. But when you come to Mahaprabhu, you are dealing with the ultimate department - that is called audarya. Audarya is a notch above madhurya. Audarya means madhurya with magnanimity. Krsna-lila is called madhurya-lila – the sweetest. But Mahaprabhu's lila is called audarya-lila and audarya means the sweetest rasa with magnanimity. Magnanimity is something we all need. We need that magnanimity because we are very, very small. We do not have such a capacity to serve Krsna without magnanimity. Magnanimity means divine grace, with Krsna's divine grace. Can you go to the sun to warm yourself? No – the sun comes to us. We cannot go to the sun, but Krsna can come to us. This is given in physics – the possibility of the positive and the negative. Krsna is the positive and we are to act like the negative and the positive will be attracted towards us. Otherwise we cannot reach the positive.
The greatest negative it is said to be Radharani. She is the greatest negative and Krsna is totally attracted to Radharani. The reason that Krsna left the rasa-dance was to search for Radharani. There were millions of gopis dancing with Krsna and one of them was Radharani. Suddenly She disappeared and Krsna immediately lost interest in the rasa-dance. It was all dry. He had no more focus, millions of gopis were dancing there but Krsna lost His focus because Radharani was gone. We are always told that just as the hand serves the body and as a servant serves the master, we are a part of Krsna and we are meant to please Krsna. But after reading this pastime I suddenly realized, "If millions of gopis could not please Krsna, then what chance do any of us have? How can you, or I, or any of us directly please Krsna when millions of gopis together could not please Him? That is a fact. Therefore, we must please Krsna's dearmost, and the dearmost of Krsna is Radharani. Thus, in Gaudiya Vaisnavism, we are devotees of Radharani first, and second we are devotees of Krsna – but we don’t advertise this to the public.
One big Shri Vaisnava pandita came here once. During our discussion I said, "Buddha is also a part of dasavatara.” The six Shri Vaisnavas who were with him said, "No, no, no! Not Buddha, not Buddha." But the pandita said, "No, actually Svamiji is right. Buddha is actually in dasavatara. The other six Vaisnavas were deeply shocked. He explained that, "No, we say like that generally because we are fighting Buddhism, but actually Buddha is in the dasavatara." I told him that I saw Buddha carved on a wall with the other dasavatara in an ancient hoysala temple. Generally you will never see Buddha amongst the dasavatara in South India – they'll put Hayagriva instead. Then that pandita told those gentlemen, "These people are suddha Saktas.”
The six people that were with him were also shocked about this, "They are not Vaisnavas?" They were surprised because it is the Smartas who are Saktas – at least in Bengal. They worship Devi, Kali and various other saktis and they study their tantras etc
Then the pandita explained, “No, they are suddha Saktas because foremost they are devotees of Krsna's consort - Radha."
He was a man who had done a deep study of Gaudiya Vaisnavism.
Now we are Gaudiya Vaisnavas – should we be like the Shri Vaisnavas who didn’t know that Buddha is actually included in the dasavatara? In other words, should we be the kind of Gaudiya Vaisnava who doesn't understand the depth of Gaudiya Vaisnavism?
About ten years ago, one of our devotees went to some village for a special program on Sivaratri. When he came back and I asked him, “How was your program?"
He said: “They were worshiping Siva and I told them how in Vrndavana Siva becomes Gopesvara."
I told him that, “You don't go out and tell the common people how Siva became a gopi in Vrndavana. You don’t understand. Those are secrets and these things stay on this side. Once you go out our gate you need only one book in your hand – Bhagavad-gita. That's it.”
Look what Shrila Prabhupada did for the world with Bhagavad-gita. Scholars lined up during his time to give appreciation for the Bhagavad-gita. The world is suffering due to lack of knowledge of how to live in this world and why are we in this world? They are not suffering due to a lack of deep knowledge concerning the other world. That does not concern them - it doesn't concern most of us! We are to explain the knowledge that we are not this body, how all living entities are servants of Krsna, and how the Holy Name is non-different than Krsna. Actually we say that the Maha-mantra is non-different than Krsna, but half of the Maha-mantra is the name of Radharani also. We should know that we are dealing not only with Krsna, but with Radha-Krsna. But when we go into the world to preach, we leave Radharani in the background. We do not come to the front with Radharani.
When he narrated the Shrimad Bhagavatam, Sukadeva Gosvami wasn't just sitting with a bunch of village drunkards. He was sitting there with many rsis and sages and Maharaja Pariksit himself. He kept the Name of Radharani in the background. Even when it came to that part of the Bhagavatam when he could have introduced Radharani, he hesitated to tell these people about those secrets. He told it in a peculiar, hidden way. He never directly told the Name of Radha even once in Shrimad Bhagavatam. It’s not there. They were many great rsis there, but who were they? Many of them were Brahmavadis and yogis with mystic powers and all types of philosophers. But none of these things qualify one for vraja-bhakti. He did not want to do them any harm. If the highest thing goes to those who are not qualified, it will not do them more harm than good.
It is like bee-pollen. In western countries farmers harvest pollen from the bees and it's very high in vitamins. You can buy this and it is very tasty, but if you take too much of it, you will get diarrhea. It is a good thing, but too much of a good thing can make you sick. That is common with anything – milk is also good, but drink too much and it'll give you loose motion. So this high, high topic does not look good in the small ears of the common people. Or, as Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura used to say: "This high topic does not look good in your small mouth."
Concern yourself with the necessity of your present status. Do not try to go beyond. You have to go step by step. Upadesamrta takes us step by step and Shrila Shridhara Maharaja’s illuminations are very wonderful and very assuring. We must go step by step and with much caution as we approach the ultimate goal.
Question: Is there a difference between the Gaudiya Vaisnava conception of the maha-mantra and the conception of the maha-mantra found in other sampradayas, such as the Ramanujas, Madhvas, Nimbarkas and Vallabhas?
Narasingha Maharaja: Yes. In fact the Gaudiya conception of the maha-mantra is exclusive and stands distinct from all other sampradayas. The Gaudiya conception is exclusive in that it surpasses even the greatest expectations of the Vedas (liberation) and affords one the highest fulfillment of the ultimate goal of life. This is not simply party spirit propaganda or sampradaya jingoism, but an ontological fact.
The conception of the maha-mantra as a whole, as well as each of its constituent parts (Hare, Krsna and Rama), are uniquely different in Gaudiya Vaisnavism than in any other spiritual tradition of India.
The maha-mantra appears in the Kali-santarana Upanisad of the Krsna Yajur Veda wherein Lord Brahma is answering a question by Narada Muni:
dvaparante narado brahmanam jagam katham
bhagavan gam paryatan-kalim santare-yamiti
sa hovaca brahma –
sadhu prsto’smi sarva sruti-rahasyam gopayam
tacchrnu yena kali-samsaram tarisyasi bhagavata
adi-purusasya narayanasya namoccarana-matrena nirdhuta-kalir bhavati
At the end of Dvapara-Yuga, Narada, who had traversed the whole world, went to Brahma and addressed him thus, ‘O Lord, how shall I be able to ward off the effects of Kali?’ Brahma thus replied, ‘You have asked an excellent question. Listen to that secret which all the Vedas keep hidden, through which one may cross over material existence during the age of Kali. One becomes free from the influence of Kali by merely uttering the Names of Lord Narayana, who is the original Supreme Person.
naradah punah papraccha tananam kimiti
sa hovaca hiranyagarbah –
hare krsna hare krsna krsna krsna hare
hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare
iti sodasakam namnam
Thus again Narada asked Brahma, ‘What are those Names?’
Lord Brahma replied, ‘Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. These sixteen Holy Names will destroy the sinful influences of the age of Kali. I do not see any other method
The Kali-santarana Upanisad is one of the 108 Upanisads listed in the Muktika Upanisad, yet in some academic circles, scholars are of the opinion that the Kali-santarana Upanisad was written either by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu or one of His followers. Such scholars have no evidence for their claim other than their own opinion and that is generally not accepted amongst learned circles in India.
One enigma surrounding the maha-mantra is whether it begins with ‘Hare Krsna’ or ‘Hare Rama’. In the oldest surviving copy of the Kali-santarana Upanisad, dated circa 1740 CE with the commentary by the Advaitin scholar Brahmayogin Ramacandrendra Sarasvati of Kanchipuram, the maha-mantrais written as:
hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare
hare krsna hare krsna krsna krsna hare hare
However, in numerous other editions of the Kali-santarana Upanisad the maha-mantra is written:
hare krsna hare krsna krsna krsna hare hare
hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare
Presented below is a statement by Srila Sridhara Deva Gosvami Maharaja from which we might conclude that the 1740 edition of the Kali-santarana Upanisad quoted above was interpolated by Mayavadis. Since the Name of Krsna is superior to the Name of Rama, as stated by Srila Sridhara Maharaja, it stands to reason that the Vedas would present the sequence of the mantra ontologically, thus the Advaitin edition is suspect.
Commenting on this enigma, Srila Sridhara Deva Gosvami Maharaja has stated as follows:
“The real importance of the Name is not to be found merely in the arrangement of its syllables, but in the deep meaning within that divine sound. Some scholars argue that in the Kali-santarana Upanisad, Lord Brahma says that the Hare Krsna maha-mantra is properly pronounced only when the Name of Rama precedes the Name of Krsna:
hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare
hare krsna hare krsna krsna krsna hare hare
“In the Kali-santarana Upanisad, the Hare Krsna maha-mantra is given in that way. But to say that the Name of Rama must precede the Name of Krsna in the mantra is a superficial understanding.
“It is said that because it comes from the Upanisads, the Hare Krsna mantra is a Vedic mantra, and therefore, because the ordinary people may not have any entrance into Vedic mantras, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu readjusted this mantra by reversing the order of the words. In that way, it is said, the concern that it is a Vedic mantra is thereby canceled, and so Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu gave it to all without breaching the injunctions of the Vedas. Some devotees in Uttar Pradesh who have great affection for Sri Caitanyadeva like to give this opinion. But our faith is that the mentioning of ‘Hare Rama’ first is only superficial. It concerns the idea that since the Rama avatara appeared first and the Krsna avataraafterwards, the Name of Rama, ‘Hare Rama,’ should come first in the maha-mantra.’
“A deeper reading will consider that when two similar things are connected together, the priority will be ordered not on the basis of historical precedent, but in consideration of the most highly developed conception. The Holy Name of Krsna is higher than the Holy Name of Rama. This is mentioned in the Puranas: three Names of Rama equal one Name of Krsna.’
"The Name of Krsna is superior to the Name of Rama. Where the two are connected together, the first position should be given to the one that is superior. Therefore, the Name of Krsna must come first in the maha-mantra. This is one point.’
“Another point is that within the eternal plane, everything is moving in a cyclic order. In an eternal cycle, which is first and which is next cannotbe ascertained, and so, in the eternal plane of lila, it cannot be determined whether Krsna is before Rama or Rama is before Krsna. So from that consideration also, since the Names of Krsna and Rama are eternal andunrelated to any historical event, we may begin the mantra from any place.’
“But above these considerations, our sampradaya has given another, higher consideration. A eeper understanding will reveal that the Hare Krsna mantrais not at all concerned with rama-lila.’
“In the Name of Rama within the Hare Krsna mantra, the Gaudiya Vaisnavas will find Radha-ramana Rama. That means, ‘Krsna, who gives pleasure (raman) to Srimati Radharani.’ In our conception, the Hare Krsna mantra is wholesale Krsna consciousness, not Rama consciousness.’
“Sri Caitanya's highest conception of things is always svayam bhagavan, krsna-lila, radha-govinda-lila. That is the real purpose of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's advent and teachings. In that consideration, the Hare Krsna mantra does not mention the rama-lila of Ayodhya at all. There is no connection with that in the highest conception of the Hare Krsna mantra.’
“And the inner conception of the mantra is responsible for our spiritual attainment. When one pronounces the Name of Rama, if he means Dasarathi Rama, his attraction will take him there, to Ayodhya; if he means Parasurama, he will be attracted to another place. And if Rama means Radha-ramana Rama, he will go to Goloka. The inner conception of the devotee will guide him to his destination." (Loving Search For The Lost Servant)
The Names in the maha-mantra are Hare, Krsna and Rama. The followers of the Sankaracarya school, as well as those of the Ramanuja and Madhva schools, conceive the Name of Hare to be the vocative case of Hari. Thus for them ‘Hare’ means Narayana, ‘Rama’ means Ramacandra and ‘Krsna’ means the avatar of Narayana [not Krsna the avatari, or source of Narayana].
The followers of Sankaracarya have adopted this version of the maha-mantra and the Vaisnava sampradayas of South India have also adopted the same. ‘Hare’ in all these sampradayas means Hari, or Narayana. In all circumstances their way of thinking is about liberation (mukti) and not actually about bhakti (devotion). Moreover, the followers of Sankaracarya are sometimes found to chant the maha-mantra and give more attention to the maha-mantra than the Ramanuja sampradaya or the Madhva sampradaya. The Kali-santarana Upanisad and the maha-mantra are accepted by all these sampradayas, yet the maha-mantra is of little importance to them. Only the Gaudiya Vaisnavas stake everything on the maha-mantra.
Actually, according to one Madhva website, it appears that at least a certain section of their sampradaya has ‘lost the plot’ so to speak. The following is a contemporary Madhva quote:
And it is known that the Hare Krsna mantra is recited without proper procedure, without dhyana, sankalpa, etc., in the approved Vedic fashion. It has been arbitrarily picked out of a book and practiced in mutilated form, and is thus a false initiation (as the originators of the tradition were themselves unqualified to recite the mantra). Worst of all, it is recited ‘as’ Krsna Himself, and not as a symbol or tool for his worship...as such, it stands to reason that the ‘Hare Krsna maha-mantra’ is best avoided by everybody.
The most obvious mistake in the above quote is that the Kali-santarana Upanisad clearly states ‘nasya vidhiriti’ – ‘there are no rules (vidhi) involved in chanting the maha-mantra.’ In fact the Upanisad guarantees liberation to anyone who chants the maha-mantra. Thus, one begins to wonder what’s been happening in the Madhva sampradaya over the past seven hundred years?
punar-naradah paprccha bhagavan ko’sya vidhiriti
tam hovaca – nasya vidhiriti
sarvada sucirasucirava pathan-brahmanah
salokatam samipatam sarupatam sayujyatameti
Again Narada enquired: ‘O Lord, what are the rules to be observed with reference to it (chanting the maha-mantra)?" Brahma replied, “There are no rules. Whoever, in a pure or an impure state, utters these always, attains the same world of the Lord (salokya), proximity with the Lord (samipya), the same form as the Lord (sarupya), or absorption into Brahman (sayujya). (Kali-santarana Upanisad 3)
For the followers of Sankaracarya, the Name ‘Hare’ means Hari – He who takes away one’s karma, material desire and illusion (maya). For Ramanujas and most Madhvas, Hari is He who takes away all inauspiciousness and bestows all good fortune. But for Gaudiya Vaisnavas the conception of Hare is altogether different.
For the Gaudiyas, Hare is the vocative case of Hara, the internal pleasure potency of Krsna. Thus Hare means Srimati Radharani.
It should not be misunderstood that we are arguing or fighting over the proper meaning of the names in the maha-mantra. There is certainly room for different bona fide conceptions within the maha-mantra. Each with his conception may attain that particular destination.
yei yei rupe jane, sei taha kahe
sakala sambhave krsne, kichu mithya nahe
In whatever form one knows the Lord, one speaks of Him in that way. In this there is no falsity, since everything is possible in Krsna. (Cc. Adi 5.132)
In this regard Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Svami Prabhupada writes in his purport to this verse:
If someone calls Lord Ramacandra by the vibration Hare Rama, understanding it to mean “O Lord Ramacandra!” he is quite right. Similarly, if one says that Hare Rama means “O Sri Balarama!” he is also right. Those who are aware of the visnu-tattva do not fight over all these details.
However, one must also remember that all realities are not the same, nor do all conceptions lead to the same destination.
It is often said as a reference that the maha-mantra first appears or manifests in the Kali-santarana Upanisad portion of the Vedas, but such a statement is not actually correct according to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, who has stated:
Lord Hari's Name is Lord Hari Himself. The maha-mantra was present before the scriptures manifested. The catuh-sloki of the Bhagavatam beginning with 'aham evasam evagre' is proof of this. The supremely independent Holy Name is not under the jurisdiction of scriptural control. Actually, the scriptures have appeared by the supreme will of the Holy Name. It is not a fact that the scriptures manifested first and then the Holy Name appeared after. The Brahma-samhita says that the Holy Name appeared first in Brahma's heart. (Sri Srila Prabhupader Upadesamrta)
The maha-mantra chanted by Gaudiyas is always chanted as:
hare krsna hare krsna krsna krsna hare hare
hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare
Whereas other sampradayas might chant the maha-mantra for liberation, the Gaudiyas chant the maha-mantra out of devotion to please Krsna. Hari takes away material desires, maya, etc, but Hare, the internal potency (hladini-sakti/Radharani) captures or takes away the mind and heart of Krsna. Hara is the energy by which one can serve Krsna, and the only energy that can please Krsna. Krsna Himself is the reservoir of pleasure and Rama, or Radha-ramana, is the one who gives pleasure to Srimati Radharani.
The Gaudiya conception of Rama in the maha-mantra meaning Krsna, the giver of pleasure to Sri Radha, is also collaborated by Sri Bhaktisiddhanta as follows:
According to the mood of aisvarya, ‘Rama’ refers to Ramacandra, the son of Dasaratha. According to the mood of madhurya, ‘Rama’ refers to Krsna, the relisher of Sri Radha's association. Whenever the Name 'Rama' indicates service to Radha-ramana Krsna, then the word 'Hare' which is the vocative form of Hara, refers to Sri Radharani, who is the origin of all spiritual potencies. Sri Radha is known as Hara because She attracts the mind of Krsna. Hari means 'attracter'. Hare is the vocative form of the word 'Hara'. There are three Ramas – Rama, the husband of Sita-devi, Rama the husband of Revati and Rama, the lover of Radha. (Sri Srila Prabhupader Upadesamrta)
The Gaudiya conception of the maha-mantra is not something whimsical. It is authorized by bona fide acaryas and supported by guru, sadhu and sastra. It was also the preferred conception of chanting by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Furthermore, the Gaudiya conception of hearing and chanting of the maha-mantra transcends all types of liberation and ultimately reaches the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord.
mali hana kare sei bija aropaṇa
sravana-kirtana-jale karaye secana
When one receives the seed of devotion, he should take care of it by becoming a gardener and sowing the seed in his heart. By watering the seed gradually by the process of sravana and kirtana (hearing and chanting), the seed will start to sprout.
upajiya bade lata ‘brahmanda’ bhedi’ yaya
‘viraja’, ‘brahma-loka’ bhedi’ ‘para-vyoma’ paya
The creeper of devotion is manifest and grows to pierce through the wall of the material universe. It crosses over the Viraja river and the plane of Brahman and then reaches to Vaikuntha.
tabe yaya tad-upari 'goloka vrndavana'
'krsna-carana'-kalpa-vrkse kare arohana
It continues to grow further up to Goloka Vrndavana, where it finally embraces the wish-fulfilling tree of Sri Krsna's lotus feet.
tahan vistarita hana phale prema-phala
ihan mali sece nitya sravanadi jala
There in Goloka, the creeper expands and produces the fruit of love for Krsna. Although remaining in the material plane, the gardener continuously sprinkles the creeper with the water of hearing and chanting. (Cc. Madhya 19.152-155)
Commenting on the maha-mantra in his Maha-mantrartha Dipika, Sri Jiva Gosvami reveals the meaning of each of the sixteen Names in the maha-mantra in consecutive order as follows:
hare krsna hare krsna krsna krsna hare hare
hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare
sarva-ceta-harah krsnas tasya cittam haratyasau
vaidagdhi-sara-vistarair ato radha hara mata
Krsna steals the minds of everyone, yet Radha steals even His mind by Her divine expertise. Thus She is known as Hara.
sri radham mohana-gunalankrtah krsna iryate
He forcibly attracts Sri Radha with the sweet sound of His flute, therefore that Lord of all enchanting qualities is known as Krsna.
sruyate niyate rase harina harineksana
ekakini rahah-kunje hareyam tena kathyate
It has been heard that during the rasa-lila, doe-eyed Radha was stolen away by Krsna to be alone with Him in a secret forest bower. She is therefore known as Hara.
ramate radhaya sardham krsno nigadyate
When Krsna sports with Radha, Her golden hue takes on the dark complexion of Krsna's skin. He is thus known as Krsna.
krtvaranye sarah-srestham kantayanumatas-taya
akrsya sarva-tirthani taj-jnanat krsna iryate
In order to please Sri Radha, Krsna manifested the most wonderful lake (Syama-kunda) in Vrndavana. He then called all the holy rivers to fill it. He is thus known as Krsna.
krsyate radhaya premna yamuna-tata-kananam
lilaya lalitas-capi dhiraih krsna udahrtah
By Her unsurpassed love, Radha charms He who performs wonderful lilas on the banks of the Yamuna. Therefore, those who are sober know Him as Krsna.
hrtavan gokule tisthann-aristam pusta-pungavam
sri haris tam rasad uccai rayatiti hara mata
While in Gokula, Sri Hari (Krsna) killed the demon known as Aristasura. During that time, Radha cried out to Him with great feeling and by doing so, She stole His mind. She is thus known as Hara.
hyasphutam rayati priti-bharena hari-cestam
gayatiti mata dhirair hara rasa-vicaksanaih
Filled with ecstatic love, Radha sometimes sings the glories of Hari’s exploits quietly, and sometimes She sings them aloud. Those who are expert in the secrets of divine sentiments call Her Hara.
rasavesa-parisrastam jahara muralim hareh
hareti kirtita devi vipine keli-lampata
Due to the intense love of Sri Radha, Sri Hari becomes so captivated that His flute falls from His hand. With the desire to enjoy in the forest bowers with Krsna, Radha steals His flute. That goddess is thus famous as Hara.
sri radham ramayamasa ramastena mato harih
Krsna, who is expert at embracing, sports with Radha in the forest groves or in the caves of Govardhana. Thus He is known as Rama.
hanti duhkhani bhaktanam rati saukhyani canvaham
hara devi nigadita maha-karunya-salini
That most merciful Radha destroys the miseries of Her devotees and gives them great happiness every day. Therefore that goddess is known as Hara.
ramate bhajato cetah paramananda-varidhau
atreti kathito ramah syamasundara-vigrahah
The minds of the devotees are continuously drowned in an ocean of supreme joy by seeing the beautiful dark form of Krsna. Therefore He is known by
the Name Rama.
ramayaty-acyutam premna nikunja-vana-mandire
rama nigadita radha ramo yutas taya punah
Radharani is known as Rama because She enjoys loving pastimes with Acyuta (Krsna) in a secret forest pavilion. Since He is always by Her side, He is known as Rama.
rodanair gokule davanalam asayati hyasau
visosayati tenokto ramo bhakta-sukhavahah
When the residents of Gokula were crying due to fear of the forest fire, Krsna immediately swallowed it and gave His devotees great joy. In this way, He is known as Rama.
nihantum asuran yato mathura-puram ity-asau
tadagamad-rahah-kamo yasyah sa’sau hareti ca
Sri Krsna went to Mathurapuri in order to destroy the demons. However, due to being captivated by the love of Radha, He later returned. Therefore She is known as Hara.
agatya duhkha-harta yo sarvesam vraja-vasinam
sri radha-hari-carito harih sri nandanandanah
When the son of Maharaja Nanda returned to Vraja, He took away the suffering of all the Vrajavasis. By His wonderful exploits, He steals the heart of Sri Radha. Thus He is known as Hari.
Throughout his Maha-mantrartha Dipika, Sri Jiva Gosvami reveals the meaning of ‘Hare’ as Hara until the final verse wherein he says that ‘Hare’ means Hari – He who has stolen the heart of Srimati Radharani. In the first verse Radha steals the mind of Krsna, and in the last verse Krsna steals the heart of Radha. Indeed, Radha wears a locket with a picture of Krsna around Her neck, and Krsna wears a locket with a picture of Radha around His neck. These Two have stolen each other’s hearts and minds, thus one might suspect that Sri Jiva is alluding to the appearance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in his Maha-mantrartha Dipika as the combined form of both Radha and Krsna. In any case, according to Jiva Gosvami, the divine pastimes of Radha and Krsna are written throughout the maha-mantra.
As for the other Vaisnava sampradayas, namely the Nimbarka sampradaya and the Vallabha sampradya, they too – like the Ramanujas and the Madhvas – do not follow the line of thinking of the Gaudiyas. Actually the Nimbarka sampradaya does not chant the maha-mantra of the Kali-santarana Upanisad at all. The Nimbarkas chant what they call the yugala-mantra:
radhe krsna radhe krsna krsna krsna radhe radhe
radhe syama radhe syama syama syama radhe radhe
In some learned circles it is thought that the Nimbarkas plagiarized Sri Caitanya and the Gaudiyas. Indeed, some scholars are even of the opinion that Kesava Kasmiri, who had been defeated by Sri Caitanya, fabricated the Nimbarka parampara and placed himself at its head.
According to verifiable sources, it appears that the yugala-mantra of the Nimbarkas was actually only introduced into their sampradaya in the 14th century by Harivyasa Devacarya (the third acaryain the Nimbarka line after Kesava Kasmiri) as it does not appear in any of their literature prior to that period.
The idea that the Nimbarka sampradaya is authorized to neglect the chanting of the maha-mantrain preference to the yugala-mantra is further suspect by the fact that Sanat-kumara, one of the original founders of that sampradaya, has said the following:
hare-krsnau dvir avrttau
krsna tadrk tatha hare
hare rama tatha rama
tatha tadrg ghare manuh
hare krsna hare krsna
krsna krsna hare hare
hare rama hare rama
rama rama hare hare
The words ‘Hare Krsna’ are to be repeated twice, then ‘Krsna’ and ‘Hare’ are to be repeated separately twice. Similarly, ‘Hare Rama’, ‘Rama’ and ‘Hare’ are also repeated twice. The mantra will thus be – Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. (Sanat-kumara Samhita, as quoted by Dhyanacandra Gosvami in his Gaura Govindarcana Smarana Paddhati, verses, 132-133)
As for the Vallabha-sampradaya, they too do not chant the maha-mantra as part of their tradition, which seems rather ironic, knowing that Vallabhacarya took diksa-mantras from Sri Gadadhara Pandita and that he was also associated for sometime with Sri Caitanya directly. One cannot help but think that something very serious has gone amiss in that sampradaya. Currently the Vallabha sampradaya neglects the maha-mantra in preference of the astaksara-mantra, namely ‘sri krsna saranam mama.’ This mantra, not being found in the Vedas or in any authorized sastra, was purportedly invented by Vallabhacarya.
Our conclusion is that there are indeed differences between the Gaudiya Vaisnava conception of the maha-mantra and the conception of the maha-mantra found in other sampradayas. With the exception of those sampradayas that have deviated from the path of previous acaryas, (Madhvas, Nimbarkas and Vallabhas), these differences are primarily based on higher and lower conceptions in rasa (referring to the Ramanuja sampradaya) and not simply on who is right and who is wrong. Nonetheless, it should go without saying that any intelligent and pious person regardless of their professed sampradaya affiliation should accept the direction of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to chant the maha-mantra, if they want to make substantial spiritual advancement toward the ultimate goal of life.