Raghunatha Bhatta dasa: Yesterday you were speaking about our Shripad Tirtha Maharaja. You described how he became a good devotee.
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: He was not learned in the beginning. [*See Endnote 1]
Shripad Madhava Maharaja: He could not remember any verse, so everyone in the matha would tease him.
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: He was from a lower-class family. Actually he was born in a poor family of ksatriya origin, which is referred to in Bengal as a lower class, poor family.
Raghunatha Bhatta dasa: I am worse than lower-class.
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: But you have finished high school and perhaps university.
Raghunatha Bhatta dasa: I did not finish university.
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: You did not finish, but you studied there. I did not study in any university. Moreover, Shrila Gaura-kisora dasa Babaji was totally illiterate and Shrila Haridasa Thakura was as well.
Raghunatha Bhatta dasa: My position is that I am a very fallen soul. I am asking you to please bless me and make me a sadhu.
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: If you are sincere and pray to God, Krishna, who is very merciful, He will at once make you a sadhu. It is for this reason that He has given you such elevated sadhu-sanga without your praying for it. That is why you are hearing so many beautiful subject matters.
Shri Krishna is very merciful. You are fortunate to have this association, so try to take it in your heart.
Devotee: Shrila Gurudeva, Shrila Prabhupada used the term “Back to Godhead” for more than thirty years. I have also heard you use the term sometimes. I would like to know what this phrase means.
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: I explained this in my class yesterday – Shri Krishna is beautiful, Shrimati Radhika is more beautiful, and together they perform so many sweet pastimes. Our home is with Them.
Brajanath dasa: Shrila Gurudeva, in English, the phrase ‘Back to Godhead’ means that one has been there before and that one will be returning there.
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Regarding our philosophy, this is not the correct meaning. By constitution, your home is in Goloka Vrindavan, but unfortunately you fell from the tatastha region to this world. Now you should try to go home. Now, I have a question: Why did Brahma test Krishna? What was the reason?
Tirthapada dasa: The basic answer is that this is part of a pastime.
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: This is of course part of a pastime, but why was this pastime performed?
Govinda dasa: Brahma did this because Krishna wanted to accomplish many other pastimes by this one.
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: What were those pastimes?
Shripad Padmanabha Maharaja: When Shri Krishna killed the demon Aghasura, Lord Brahma saw Aghasura’s soul come out of his body and enter Krishna’s lotus feet. Seeing this, Brahma wanted to witness more sweet pastimes of Shri Krishna.
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: This is all right. Can you explain further?
Shripad Padmanabha Maharaja: There are many reasons why this pastime had to take place.
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Why?
Shripad Padmanabha Maharaja: The cows and elderly gopis of Vrindavan had a desire to have Krishna as their own son. They wanted to breastfeed Him, to give Him their milk.
Shripad Madhava Maharaja: And the teenage gopis wanted Krishna as their beloved.
Shripad Padmanabha Maharaja: Therefore, during that pastime, those teenage gopis were betrothed to Krishna, who was then in the form of the innumerable cowherd boys.
Shripad Madhava Maharaja: Knowing the desire of Shri Krishna, Yogamaya attracted Brahmaji to steal the cowherd boys and calves.
Shripad Padmanabha Maharaja: In Brahma-vimohana-lila, Lord Brahma began to think, “I just saw that Krishna killed Aghasura, and the demon’s soul entered into Krishna’s body. Yet, I also see Him sitting among His friends. He looks almost like an ordinary cowherd boy.” In this way, the question came into his mind, “How can He be the Supreme Lord of all?”
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: No. He only thought, “I want to see some more sweet pastimes.” To fulfill Krishna’s desire, Yogamaya came and made that thought enter his mind.
Shripad Padmanabha Maharaja: At that time he questioned Krishna’s supremacy and power.
Shripad Madhava Maharaja: No. He thought, “What will Krishna do if I steal His cowherd boys and calves?”
Shripad Padmanabha Maharaja: Yogamaya then made the calves wander some distance away from the place where Krishna was taking breakfast with His cowherd friends. Krishna told His friends, “Don’t be disturbed. I will go and find the calves.”
He went to search for the calves. In the meantime Lord Brahma came, stole the cowherd boys by his mystic power, and put them to sleep in a cave.
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Is he speaking correctly?
Brajanath dasa: No.
Prema Prayojana dasa: In the same way that Ravana cannot steal Sita, Lord Brahma cannot steal the cowherd boys. Lord Brahma merely thought that he had stolen them.
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Try to hear this with attention.
Prema Prayojana dasa: The cowherd boys are eternal associates of Shri Krishna. How can any person who is insignificant in comparison to them steal them away and exert his influence over them? This is quite impossible. Actually, Yogamaya gave him the impression that he had stolen the boys and put them in a cave. He then returned to Brahma-loka, but when he reached there he was not allowed entrance to his palace.
Shripad Madhava Maharaja: Yogamaya made the second set of boys.
Prema Prayojana dasa: And Shri Krishna made a third set. The original boys were still on the bank of the Yamuna, and Yogamaya made the second set.
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: There were three sets: One set consisted of the original boys and calves, and they were covered by Yogamaya. Mahamaya [*See Endnote 2]
Shripad Madhava Maharaja: Yogamaya made the second set.
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: No, it was Mahamaya. Mahamaya made a replica of those same cowherd boys and calves, and this was the second set, the set that Brahmaji stole. Regarding the third set, Krishna personally expanded as that third set. This is the thing I wanted to tell you. This is very mysterious, very mysterious.
Balarama dasa: What happened to the original set of cowherd boys?
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Yogamaya covered them so that no one would be able to see them. Neither Brahmaji nor the Vrajavasis, nor even Baladeva Prabhu, could see them. Being covered by Yogamaya and under her influence, the year passed in a flash for them.
Shripad Visnu Maharaja: Shrila Gurudeva, what is the need of Mahamaya creating the other cowherd boys? Why not Yogamaya?
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: If Yogamaya had created them, how would Brahma have been able to steal them?
Shripad Visnu Maharaja: Even though Brahma is the head of our sampradaya and he is able to watch this lila?
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Still. Being influenced by Yogamaya, even Balarama did not understanding what was actually taking place, so what to speak of Brahma.
Nrhari dasa: I read that Shrila Madhvacarya omitted this chapter about Lord Brahma in his commentary.
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Yes, but Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His followers have accepted it. Shrila Madhvacarya considered, “Brahmaji is my Gurudeva. He cannot be bewildered by illusion.” Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu reconciled this. He explained that this is one of the very sweet pastimes of Krishna. By performing this pastime, Krishna fulfilled the desires of the cows, mothers, and young gopis.
Shripad Madhava Maharaja: Madhvacarya did not write commentaries on the fourteenth and fifteenth chapters of the Tenth Canto (the chapters describing Brahma stealing the cows and cowherd boys). It is not that he took out those chapters; rather he did not write commentaries on them.
Shripad Sajjana Maharaja: Shrila Sukadeva Gosvami did not mention in the Shrimad-Bhagavatam that Shri Krishna went to Brahma-loka and took the form of Lord Brahma.
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: It has been told in other Puranas and in the commentary of Shrila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura. What happened when Brahmaji went to Brahma-loka?
Shripad Sajjana Maharaja: When Brahmaji reached there, the guards blocked the door and told him, “Get out! Get out! You are an impostor!”
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: “Our Brahmaji is already here.”
Shripad Sajjana Maharaja: “And He told us to keep the impostor from entering here.”
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Then what did Brahma do?
Shripad Madhava Maharaja: Brahmaji then returned to Earth and meditated on the possible reasons his servants treated him in that way. During his trance of meditation, he realized that Shri Krishna was behind the whole incident. Krishna had ordered them to do so; He had bewildered them.
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: There he realized.
Shripad Sajjana Maharaja: Brahma returned to Earth after one year of Earth-time. He saw that so many wonderful pastimes had taken place in Vraja during that year, like the betrothal of the young gopis. He looked in the cave where he had put the cowherd boys and calves created by Yogamaya and saw that they were still there. Then he looked further and saw that all of the calves and cowherd boys were continuing to play with Krishna as before. He then saw those cowherd boys transforming into the four-armed forms of Shri Krishna known as Lord Narayana. Seeing this, he understood that Shri Krishna had personally taken the form of all of His cowherd boyfriends and calves.
Rohininandana dasa: Gurudeva, today we are celebrating the annakuta ceremony of Shri Govardhana. What should we be meditating on and trying to feel in our hearts while performing our devotional service and making preparations for Shri Govardhana?
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Giriraja Govardhana can give what Shri Krishna Himself cannot give, because Govardhana is asraya-vigraha, meaning, ‘the abode of love for Shri Krishna.’ We should pray to him in this way: “Govardhano me disatam abhistam – May Govardhana Hill fulfill my deepest desire.” (Shrila Visvanath Chakravarti Thakura, Shri Govardhanastakam.
pramada-madana-lilah kandare kandare te
racayati nava yunor dvandvam asminn amandam
iti kila kalanartham lagnakas tad-dvayor me
nija-nikata-nivasam dehi govardhana! tvam
["Oh, Govardhana, please grant me a dwelling near your side so that I can easily witness and serve the youthful lovers, Shri Radha Krishna, as They perform newer and newer secret, amorous lilas within your many caves where They become completely maddened from drinking prema. You are present and making everything possible." (Shrila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, Shri Govardhana-Vasa-Prarthana-Dasakam, verse 2])
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: “You can enable me to see the sweet pastimes of Shri Krishna – even the intimate kunja pastimes. You can also give me the service of Shri Shri Radha and Krishna.” Shri Govardhana, Yamuna devi, and Lalita-sakhi can grant the fulfillment of these desires.
Shripad Sajjana Maharaja: Gurudeva, today is Father’s Day. We wish you a Happy Father’s Day.
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Do not merely speak it. This sentiment should manifest by your actions.
Anupama dasa: Yesterday you mercifully gave me harinama. I want to know how I can serve you better and get your blessings.
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: You can think, “By all means I must try to serve in any way that I can.” In what ways can you serve? What qualifications do you have?
Anupama dasa: I am very fallen. I have no qualification.
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Then chant Hare Krishna. I will be happy by that.
Anupama dasa: Can you please explain the meaning of my name – Anupama?
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: This is a name of Krishna. It means that no one in this world or the transcendental world is equal to Him.
Shripad Madhava Maharaja: Incomparable; matchless.
Devotee: Shri Chaitanya-caritamrta explains that Shrila Ramananda Raya is a manifestation of Shrimati Visakha-devi, and that he is Arjuna of the five Pandavas. Can you please explain how this is possible? Is it not rasabhasa to think like that?
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: In Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s pastimes, Shrila Haridasa Thakura is a combination of Shri Prahlada Maharaja and Brahma. In the same way, Shrila Ramananda Raya is a combination of Shrimati Visakha-sakhi and Arjuna. But which Arjuna?
Shripad Madhava Maharaja: He is not Pandava Arjuna. He is Arjuna, the priya-narma sakha (intimate cowherd friend) in the sweet pastimes of Krishna in Vraja.
Nrhari dasa: Shrila Gurudeva, is the Arjuna of the Pandavas an expansion of Arjuna of Vraja?
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Yes. Shri Krishna loved Arjuna of the Pandavas because he had the same name as His dear friend Arjuna in Vraja.
Gaurasundara dasa: In your book The Origin of Ratha-Yatra there is a pastime in which Mother Kunti asked Vasudeva Maharaja, “When we were in trouble in the house of shellac and it burned down, why did you not ask about our welfare or help us in any way?” Vasudeva Maharaja replied, “I was in prison being kicked by the soldiers of Kamsa. When I was released I immediately sent a message to you.”
My question is this: Didn’t the pastimes of the Pandavas begin after Vasudeva Maharaja was already freed from prison?
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Krishna was still young when Vasudeva Maharaja was in prison. It was during this time that the Kauravas tried to burn the Pandavas in the fire.
Shripad Madhava Maharaja: Arjuna and Krishna are the same age and Bhima is a little older, so the pastimes of the Pandavas were taking place even before Krishna killed Kamsa.
Shripad Damodara Maharaja: Gurudeva, Shrila dasa is here.
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: (To Shrila) My dear friend. You have no wife, nor any children, nor any related responsibilities, but you do not come with us to preach around the world. You are not merciful to me, or even to Krishna.
Shrila dasa: I have no mercy on myself.
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: You are very cruel. Krishna wants to take you with Him, but you refuse to go.
Visvambara dasa: Shrila Gurudeva, you have often quoted this verse:
barhapidam nata-vara-vapuh karnayoh karnikaram
bibhrad vasah kanaka-kapisam vaijayantim ca malam
randhran venor adhara-sudhayapurayan gopa-vrndair
vrndaranyam sva-pada-ramanam pravisad gita-kirtih
["Wearing a peacock-feather ornament upon His head, blue karnikara flowers on His ears, a yellow garment as brilliant as gold, and the Vaijayanti garland, Lord Krishna exhibited His transcendental form as the greatest of dancers as He entered the forest of Vrindavan, beautifying it with the marks of His footprints. He filled the holes of His flute with the nectar of His lips, and the cowherd boys sang His glories." (Shrimad-Bhagavatam 10.21.5)]
I would like to know if there is a special potency in this verse. Every time I think of it or read it, I begin to cry. I don’t know why There must be some magic in it.
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Shrila Sukadeva Gosvami has filled this verse with all of the sweetness of Shri Krishna’s form (rupa-madhuri). The gopis experience the truth of this verse, and you are fortunate to realize this.
Trilokanatha dasa: Some years ago in Hilo, Hawaii, you said that Krishna’s pastimes of sambhoga (meeting) are superior to those of vipralambha (separation). You cited the example of the gopis cursing Lord Brahma for creating eyelids that cover their eyes. However, a few days ago, we heard that Shrimati Radhika feels separation from Shri Krishna even while sitting on His lap, and Krishna very much appreciates Her love in these moods of separation. Shrila Prabhupada has also stressed the superiority of feelings of separation.
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: It has been told in scripture that the mood of separation dances on the head of the happiness of meeting. But do you think that the gopis will be happy in separation from Shri Krishna? Do you want Shrimati Radhika and Shri Krishna to be separated?
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: It is in this regard that I have said that meeting is the highest situation – in accordance with this line of thought.
Shripad Madhava Maharaja: Shrila Sanatana Gosvami has written that feelings of separation dance on the head of the happiness of meeting. However, in the next verse he says that Shri Krishna cannot tolerate His devotees’ feelings of separation and immediately appears before them.
Rohininandana dasa: It is said that the most dangerous thing for us is to commit vaisnava-aparadha. In that connection, I fear that I am not making advancement because I have offended you. I am hoping that you will forgive me so that I can make some advancement.
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: I have forgiven you, but you should know that in your past lives you have committed many offences. This is the reason why, when you chant harinama, tears do not fall from your eyes and the hairs of your body do not stand on end:
hena Krishna-nama yadi laya bahu-bara
tabu yadi prema nahe, nahe asrudhara
tabe jani, aparadha tahate pracura
Krishna-nama-bija tahe na kare ankura
["If one chants the exalted holy name of the Lord again and again and yet his love for the Supreme Lord does not develop and tears do not appear in his eyes, it is evident that because of his offenses in chanting, the seed of the holy name of Krishna does not sprout." (Shri Chaitanya-caritamrta, Adi 8.29-30)]
Endnote 1: At present he knows several thousand verses.
Syamarani dasi: Was it Yogamaya or Mahamaya who created the set of cowherd-boys stolen by Brahma?
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: It was actually Yogamaya, but she acted through the agency of her shadow, Mahamaya. It was the action of Yogamaya, but through Mahamaya. Do you understand?
Syamarani dasi: Are you referring to the same Mahamaya who controls the material world?
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Yes. She who was Yogamaya with Yasoda, and who came with Vasudeva Maharaja to Mathura, at once became Mahamaya for Kamsa. They are the same Maya, but by action, or function, they are known as Yogamaya or Mahamaya.
Brajanath dasa: Madhava Maharaja said that the gopis worshipped Katyayani, Mahamaya, and it was that same Mahamaya who bewildered Brahma.
Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: For the gopis, that Maya was Yogamaya. Maya is one, and by her function she is two. When she acts upon Krishna and His associates, she is Yogamaya. When she acts to bewilder the conditioned living entity, then she is Mahamaya.
Someone may say, “Narayana Maharaja is a most angry person.” Another person may say, “No, he is very loving.” The first person saw me chastising someone, and therefore his idea is that I am an angry person. The second person saw my very sweet behavior and thinks, “Oh, he loves everyone.”
(Shrila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja, darsana, January 29, 2010, Johannesburg, South Africa).]