Excerpt of a lecture on Shrila Sanatana Gosvami's
San Francisco - May 25 2003
Shri Shrimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja
What kind of krsna-prema do we want? Not the prema of Hanuman or the Pandavas or even Uddhava. We will not reject their prema; we will offer pranama to it. But we do not want it. What do we want? Do we want to serve Krishna as Shrimati Radhika is serving Him? No. We also offer so many pranamas to that prema. Our goal is to serve that prema, but we do not desire it ourselves.
We want to serve Shrimati Radhika and Shri Krishna in the way Shrila Rupa Gosvami and Shri Rupa Manjari serve Them. By this one will be perfect. It is the topmost status for the jiva. You should realize this and not waste a single moment in sense gratification. Try to maintain your life, but make this status the aim and object of your life.
We have discussed the various stages of devotees up to the Pandavas, whom we have been glorifying. They are Krishna's bosom friends, and Krishna is their servant. What to speak of serving them, Krishna even grooms and massages their horses. Kunti is like Krishna's mother, Yudhisthira His father and elder brother, and Bhima His brother and friend. Arjuna has more intimate a friendship with Krishna than does Bhima, and Draupadi has even more intimacy with Krishna than do any of the Pandavas, although she sometimes also has a mood of reverence towards Him. She is a sakhi of Krishna. Try to know all these facts.
Speaking to Narada Rsi, Arjuna explained that he and the other Pandavas are actually bereft of good fortunate. "Krishna teaches us the Gita," he said. "He tells us to be Saranagata, surrendered souls; but we are His intimate associates, His friends. I cannot say how many lives ago we surrendered to Him. Thus we are very unfortunate.
"Also, when Krishna performs any service for us we become quite ashamed. One time, against our wishes, He became my charioteer and was even washing and massaging my horses. Why did He do this? It was not in fact for me. It was simply part of His overall plan to kill the demons.
"I did not want to slay Bhisma-pitamaha, Dronacarya and my other worshipable superiors, but I had to do so. I told Krishna that I could not fight with Drona and Bhisma-pitamaha because they are my gurus; nonetheless Krishna obliged me to kill them. How painful it was. Bhisma was an exalted bhakta, and to kill him was very sinful.
"I further told Krishna, 'You are known as Madhusudana, killer of the Madhu demon, and not as "killer of your guru".' No one is to kill his guru, who should be regarded as superior to one's own father. Nonetheless Krishna repeatedly urged me to shoot my gurus. He has not actually served us, nor are we near and dear to Him. Why has Krishna come to this world? To protect the entire universe, to assist the demigods and vanquish the demons. This is His sole purpose."
Arjuna continued, "If you really want to see an exalted reservoir of love and affection for Krishna, you should at once fly to Dvaraka and seek out Uddhava."
The Speciality of Uddhava
Who is Uddhava?
vrsninam pravaro mantri
krsnasya dayitah sakha
sisyo brhaspateh saksad
Sukadeva Gosvami said: The supremely intelligent Uddhava was the best counselor of the Vrsni dynasty, a
beloved friend of Shri Krishna and a direct disciple of Brhaspati.
Krishna Himself told Uddhava:
na tatha me priyatama
atma-yonir na sankarah
na ca sankarsano na srir
naivatma ca yatha bhavan
Krishna said, "Uddhava, you are most dear to Me. Brahma, who is My son; Sankara, who is non-different from Me; My brother Sankarsana; the goddess of fortune Shri Laksmi; and even My very own life, are not as dear to Me as you are. You are so close to Me." Krishna has also declared, "Do not think that Uddhava is even slightly inferior to Me. He is as good as I am, and sometimes he may even be greater." How exalted Uddhava is.
Narada thus left Arjuna and traveled to Dvaraka to meet Uddhava. He glorified Uddhava and the Yadavas, to which Uddhava replied, "Don't speak like this. I know that I am a high-class devotee of Krishna and that Krishna's queens are also very dear to Him. Krishna once gave a parijata flower to Rukmini, and He also stole an entire parijata tree from heaven and planted it in Satyabhama's courtyard."
The Story of the Parijata Flower
One day Krishna was sitting among His wives in Dvaraka - all 16,108 queens were present, including Rukmini and Satyabhama. Narada arrived there with a parijata flower plucked from heaven and told Krishna, "Please take this flower and give it to Your favourite queen." Krishna thought, "Narada is very tricky; he wants to throw Me in a dilemma. If I give this flower to Rukmini, then Satyabhama and the other queens will be angry, and it will take great effort to pacify them. And if I hand it to Satyabhama, then Rukmini will be jealous."
Narada interrupted His thoughts, "Don't delay. I have pressing business to complete. Please give the flower to one of Your queens now, in my presence, before I leave." Krishna wondered what to do. Narada kept insisting, so He took the flower, closed His eyes, and gave it to Rukmini. He thought that by closing His eyes, the other queens would be unable to tell that He was intentionally selecting her. At once, breathing heavily like a serpent, Satyabhama ran to her palace. She threw off all her garments and ornaments, put on some old, ragged and dirty clothes and, weeping, entered her kop-bhavan, "anger-room".
Kings used to build "anger-rooms" for their queens. If a queen took shelter there, the king knew he would have to pacify her. Now Satyabhama went into her kop-bhavan and began to weep loudly. Her many maidservants were pacifying her, in a way that Krishna would know He had committed a great wrong. Krishna approached Satyabhama and gently put His hand on her, but she immediately pushed Him away. "Go away at once," she said bitterly. "Return to Your dearest queen. You are a liar. You ridiculed and insulted me in front of the entire assembly."
Krishna said, "Listen, I gave a single parijata flower to Rukmini, and you have become so upset. I will bring an entire parijata tree from the heavenly planets and plant it in your courtyard."
Satyabhama replied, "You could not give me even a single flower, and now You say You will bring me a whole tree."
"Come with me," Krishna said. At once he called Garuda and, sitting on his back, they traveled to the heavenly planets together. There, Krishna fought against Indra and the demigods and defeated them. He uprooted a parijata tree and planted it in Satyabhama's courtyard.
The Glorious Yadavas
Uddhava continued speaking to Narada Rsi: "After defeating the demigods, Krishna also forcibly took away Sudharma-sabha, their famed heavenly assembly house, and brought it back with Him. Why? He knew the demigods had the false ego of being masters of the universe; so to crush their false pride He stole away Sudharma-sabha and brought it to Dvaraka. Just see how Krishna is serving the Yadavas in Dvaraka.
"Also, you should know that Krishna established Ugrasena, Kamsa's father, as emperor and said to him, �I am your servant. Please order Me and I will collect taxes for you from across the universe. Don't be concerned." Krishna thus became his subordinate.
"Sankarsana, the son of Vasudeva Maharaja and Rohini, is Krishna's own brother. Krishna also has ten sons and one daughter from each of His queens - that is, 11 x 16,108 children in all. Through them He has so many grandchildren. These are all Krishna's blood-relatives, His svajana. Although the Pandavas are like Krishna's brothers, they have no blood relation with Him; they are His friends. So how glorious are the residents of Dvaraka, the Yadavas."
Uddhava admitted to Narada, "We are very high-class devotees and most dear to Krishna. I accept everything Krishna has said to me - that I am His advisor, friend, servant, and so on. Nonetheless, I still lament."
"Why do you lament?" asked Narada.
"I was proud that I was serving Krishna in so many ways, but my false ego was crushed when I went to Vrindavan and witnessed the glories of the gopis. Their love is as high as Mount Everest and as deep as the Pacific Ocean. It has no limits. I could not measure it. If you want to see how glorious the Vrajavasis are, go to Vraja."
The Blessed Land of Vraja
Lord Brahma declares:
aho bhagyam aho bhagyam
purnam brahma sanatanam
Krishna is the supreme authority, the Lord of lords. He is unrivalled and all-powerful, and yet He is very sweet. He can destroy an entire universe in a moment, and create millions of universes in another. Nevertheless, that same Krishna wants to serve the gopis. He is the dear friend and son of everyone in Vraja-Nandagram.
Uddhava himself has prayed:
etah param tanu-bhrto bhuvi gopa-vadhvo
govinda eva nikhilatmani rudha-bhavah
vanchanti yad bhava-bhiyo munayo vayam ca
kim brahma-janmabhir ananta-katha-rasasya
In this world the land of Gokula is most blessed. Why? Because the gopis, who alone have perfected their lives through their spotless love for Shri Govinda, reside there; without them it would not be as glorious. Shri Govinda, who sustains all universes, is especially the very life and soul of the Vrajavasis, such as the gopas, gopis, calves and cows.
Although Shri Govinda lives in Goloka-Vrindavan, He also sustains and nourishes all beings in all parts of His creation. Therefore Uddhava has prayed, "Those who fear material existence, as well as others such as myself and so many rsis and munis, hanker to serve that Krishna, especially when He is in the company of the gopis. We have no desire to take birth in a brahmana dynasty, or even to become Brahma
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
Uddhava desired to become grass in Vrindavan. He prayed, "When Krishna associates with the gopis or when the gopis go to meet Krishna, they will place their feet on that grass and my life will be successful." What is the status of the gopis and their love and affection for Krishna, and how does it compare with the love of Uddhava?
ya vai sriyarcitam ajadibhir apta-kamair
yogesvarair api yad atmani rasa-gosthyam
krsnasya tad bhagavatah caranaravindam
nyastam stanesu vijahuh parirabhya tapam
Brahma, Sankara and all other demigods perform arcana of the feet of Laksmi, and that very Laksmi performed austerities to serve Krishna in Vrindavan, but was unable to attain His service. She wanted to enter the rasa-lila, but Krishna did not accept her.
Uddhava began to weep as he continued:
We are gradually approaching the aim and object of our sadhana. You should have some greed to collect this jewel. Uddhava is saying here, "O gopis, I want to be the dust of your lotus feet; not many dust particles, but only a single one, as I cannot digest good fortune greater than this." There are countless gopis, but in his mind Uddhava has selected one particular gopi, namely, Shrimati Radhika. He desired just one particle of Her foot-dust.
Uddhava prayed to the gopis:
mahan me 'nugrahah krtah
He is saying, "O gopis, you have conquered Krishna and controlled Him in all respects. He is now totally yours. I am unable to convey to Him what you have said out of separation from Him. He may even die upon hearing it. I do not have your mood of separation. You are maha-bhaga, most fortunate. You are superior to Yudhisthira, me and even Giriraja-Govardhana. You have bestowed so much mercy upon me, but I am very unfortunate, being unqualified to receive it." And thus Uddhava wept.
The Height of Selfless Service
Hearing the glories of the Vrajavasis, the old and senile Padmavati, mother of wicked Kamsa, shook her head and said, "Alas! Those merciless cowherd men are very cruel. They made Krishna take their cows out to graze all day, from His early childhood. They never gave Him any shoes or an umbrella to shield Him from the blazing sun. They never even fed Him. And when, tortured by hunger, He ate a little butter, the cowherd women tied Him up!"
To this, Rohini replied sharply: "Padmavati, you are shameless and have no heart. You are the one who is very cruel. You have spoken as you have because you know nothing of love and affection.
"Vraja was beset by great calamities. Many demons, like Putana, Aghasura, Bakasura and Kesi, came to create a huge disturbance and torment the Vrajavasis. Nonetheless, the Vrajavasis never blamed Krishna for this. Everything they do is out of love for Him and is only to please Him. They are unequalled in their love and affection; they are indeed unique in this world.
"Indra also wanted to destroy Vraja, and for this he sent torrential rain and thunderbolts to Vraja. Then the yamala-arjuna trees almost crushed Krishna. In every such incident, the gopis only desired Krishna's welfare. They uttered mantras like �mangalam bhavatu' and 'kalyanam bhavatu' - 'May auspiciousness be upon You.' In whatever they do, whether it is the worship of Giriraja-Govardhana, Narayana or any other deity, they pray, 'O Narayana, please let me behold Krishna.' Just see the glory of the gopis."
Krishna Himself has told the gopis, "na paraye 'ham niravadya-samyujam - I can never repay you. I am unable to abandon any of My devotees, not even a sadhaka in this world, whereas you have left your very own fathers, mothers, sisters, wealth, reputation and worldly dharma. I cannot do this, and so I am unable to repay you. I therefore pray that you will be merciful to Me and be satisfied by your own good activities. Only in this way can I be freed from my debt to you."
Shri Radha's Victory
And who is the most glorious of all?
venum karan nipatitam skhalitam sikhandam
bhrastam ca pita-vasanam vrajaraja-sunoh
tam radhikam paricarami kada rasena
Shri Radha-rasa-sudha-nidhi (39)
Shri Prabodhananda Sarasvati has established that among all gopas and gopis, Shrimati Radhika is the most prominent. He explains here: "As Krishna was on his way to go cow-herding, Radhika threw a sidelong glance at Him, which pierced Him like an arrow. It went straight into His heart, and at once His vamsi fell from His hands.
"Brahma, and indeed all living creatures, are attracted by Krishna's vamsi. Upon hearing its sweet sound, the gopis immediately abandoned the service of their husbands and the cooking in their homes. Their chapatis were burning on the fire and their milk was boiling over, but they left all their duties. That same vamsi, which controls all the gopis, now dropped out of Krishna's hands, due to the sidelong, arrow-like glance of Shrimati Radhika.
"Day and night, Krishna carries His vamsi, and His peacock feather always rests on His head. But having been shot by Shrimati Radhika's side-long glance, Krishna began to reel and lose consciousness - His peacock feather fell at Shri Radha's feet, and His yellow cadara slid down from His shoulders. When will Radhika sprinkle Her mercy on me so that I may serve Her with rasa? What rasa? Prema, sneha, mana, raga, anuraga and so on."
The Unrivalled Status of the Manjaris
What to speak of Radhika, Krishna falls at the feet of even Her maidservants:
yat-kinkarisu bahusah khalu kaku-vani
nityam parasya purusasya sikhanda-mauleh
tasyah kada rasa-nidher vrsabhanu-jayas
Shri Radha-rasa-sudha-nidhi (8)
Once Radhika was in a sulky mood in a forest grove, and She ordered Rupa Manjari and others to guard Her. She said, "Go to the entrance of this kunja, and when that black cheater comes you should stop Him. Don't let him enter My grove."
Thus, when black Krishna arrived, Rupa Manjari and Rati Manjari, standing guard at the entrance, checked Him: "You may enter only if Radha orders us to let You in. But now She is angry with You, so return to Candravali. Don't come here." Placing His head on the lotus feet of those kinkaris (maidservants), Krishna begged for forgiveness. Shri Prabodhananda Sarasvati is praying to become one stick in the broom used for sweeping kunjas. How glorious are those kinkaris.
vrndaranya-mahesvarim priyataya yas tosayanti priyah
prana-prestha-sakhi-kulad api kilasankocita bhumikah
keli-bhumisu rupa-manjari-mukhas ta dasikah samSraye
Stavavali, Vraja-vilasa-stava (38)
These kinkaris serve Shri Radha alone or the Divine Couple together in all Their pastimes. They offer Them betel nuts (tambula), massage Them, fetch water, serve Radha when She goes out to meet Krishna, and engage in many other duties. Here Shrila Raghunatha-dasa Gosvami prays, "I take shelter at the lotus feet of those kinkaris, who have Shri Rupa Manjari as their leader, because they and no one else can perform all these services."
I too bow down at the lotus feet of the manjaris headed by Shri Rupa Manjari, and I pray that they will sprinkle their mercy on me. Beyond this, I don't know anything.
Editors: Sundar Gopal dasa and Syamarani dasi
Transcriber: Vasanti dasi
Typist: Anita dasi