[This lecture is on the subject of the various levels of devotees, a subject that is discussed by Shrila Maharaj on every tour and in every country, and there are some very new features to the discussion:]
Like Jada Bharata, Ambarisa Maharaj had no fear of death. Death was standing in front of Ambarisa Maharaj, and yet he prayed to Sudarsana-cakra, "O, save this brahmana." He did not pray for himself. On the other hand, Durvasa Muni, although a brahma-rsi (learned brahmana-sage), was running here and there to save himself. In this way Jada Bharata and Ambarisa Maharaj were the same, but in other ways Ambarisa Maharaj was superior. His bhakti was higher than that of Jada Bharata. Jada Bharata was a jnani-bhakta, like Prahlada Maharaj, and he knew about the soul and the Supreme Soul. But Ambarisa Maharaj was more than that. He was a pure bhakta, living in Vrindavana, with greed for Vraja-bhakti (the love and service of the Vrajavasis). Jada Bharata had nothing to do with Vraja-bhakti. He was a bhakta, but not like Maharaj Ambarisa. He never meditated on Vraja; whereas Ambarisa Maharaj followed all Ekadasis and Maha-dvadasis in Vraja, doing parikrama throughout Vraja-mandala, going to Varsana, Nandagaon, Vrindavana rasa-sthali, Govardhana, and so many other places. Therefore, he is superior.
So Jada Bharata and Ambarisa Maharaj were both situated on the level of bhava-bhakti, but Ambarisa Maharaj is superior. This is true - but do you know the history of phal-vikrini, the fruit seller lady, in Vrindavana? She is millions of times greater than Ambarisa Maharaj. Please tell the history of phal-vikrini.
[Shripad Aranya Maharaj:] Krishna manifested His pastimes in the house of Nanda Maharaj in Gokula Mahavana. When He was only about 2 ½-3 years old, He attracted a low-caste lady in Mathura who made her living by selling fruits. She would go from street to street with a basket of fruits on her head, calling out, "Phal lo, phal lo. Take fruit. Who will buy my fruits?" As this lady was moving from here to there in Mathura, she had the good fortune to meet the Vrajavasis, who would sing, "Govinda Damodara Madhaveti." Hearing the Vrajavasis' descriptions of Krishna, she developed a very strong greed in her heart - "I want to meet Krishna and serve Him." This is the power of association with pure devotees.
One morning she put all her best fruits in her basket and set off for Vraja-Gokula. She had made a vow in her heart: "Today I must see Krishna; do or die! If I don't see Him today, I will not return." She was very, very determined. She came there and was walking around the house of Nanda Maharaj, calling out, "Phal lo! Phal lo!" She was so absorbed in thoughts of Krishna, however, that she forgot what she was supposed to say. Instead, she began saying, "Govinda lo, Madhava lo, Damodara lo," calling out the name of Krishna. Krishna did not come, however, so she entered a very deep mood of separation. She sat down and wept.
Krishna was inside His house. If someone will call the name of Krishna with tears in his eyes and with a melting heart, Krishna becomes restless to meet with that person. Krishna now took some grains in His hand and went outside to meet with the fruit seller. Her face was down and she was weeping, and she did not see that He had come. He said to her, "Give me fruits. Give me fruits." She looked up and saw that very beautiful form of Krishna who she had been so much desirous to see -like a small child, with very reddish lips, lotus eyes and curling hair, and decorated with a peacock feather and a pearl necklace. Otherwise, He was naked. Seeing Him, she became completely stunned and many ecstatic moods manifested in her. She could not give any reply. Krishna repeated, "Give Me fruit. Give Me fruit." When she came back to her senses, she saw Krishna standing before her with His little reddish palms held out. His eyes were looking down at the basket of fruits, and some water was coming on His tongue. He wanted to taste that fruit. She said, "I am a fruit seller. You should give me something in return, because this is how I make my living." His mother had given Him some grains to give the fruit-seller in exchange for her fruits. He now extended His hand to her, and only one or two grains of rice fell from His hand. He was a baby and did not know how to close His fingers, so when He was running there, almost all the grain fell to the ground. He therefore had hardly anything to give her, and He became a little shy.
The fruit-seller said, "Okay. I'll give You fruit, but there is one condition. You should sit on my lap and call me "Mother." Hearing this Krishna thought, "What should I do? Mother Yasoda is My mother and this woman is low-caste. How can I sit in her lap?" Then He looked at the fruits and thought, "All right, I can do it." To make sure that no one was watching Him, He looked all around Him, sat down on her lap, called her "Mother" and quickly jumped up and said, "Phal dow. Give Me fruit." He sat in her lap only for one second, but Her desire was fulfilled. She very happily took all those fruits from her basket and put them in Krishna's hands. Then, happily dancing, Krishna went back inside His house and distributed those fruits to His mother and friends. Just before leaving, however, He had given her a side-long glance and thereby completely stole her heart.
Now she sat alone, and Krishna had taken her heart. If ones heart is gone, the other senses cannot function. Thus, she could not take even one step, and she continued sitting there until evening time. A Vrajavasi approached her and said, "The sun is going down. You should go home." In separation from Krishna she got up, took her basket on her head out of habit, and started to walk in the direction of Yamuna to return to her home in Mathura. When she came to the bank of Yamuna, she felt that the basket was very heavy. She thought, "I gave my fruits. My basket should be empty. Why is it so heavy?" She put it down and saw that it was completely full of jewels - so many priceless transcendental treasures - so much wealth that we cannot imagine. She was a poor person, but when she saw the wealth, she thought, "I don't want these things." The wealth of this world will distract our mind away from Krishna, so it is not wealth. It is a burden; actually it is a death sentence. She took the basket, turned it upside down and threw all the jewels in the Yamuna. Happily singing the names of Krishna, she continued singing and dancing back into the forest of Gokula Mahavana, and she was never seen again.
At some time, Lord Krishna called her. Putana had previously come to Him as if she was a mother, but actually she wanted to kill Him. And yet He sent her to Goloka to be His nurse there. So if this person comes to Him, her heart melting and tears crying in separation from Him, and she actually wants Him to treat her as a mother, then what destination will she get? Her destination must be superior to that attained by Putana.
So one day Krishna called her. She did not go to Goloka but she went to Vraja, Goloka Vrindavana, to the highest destination. She is there today, taking Krishna on her lap. Krishna is calling her Mother even today - and she is a neighbor of Mother Yasoda. So those who will chant the name of Krishna, being eagerly desirous to meet Him and serve Him with relationship - "Krishna, You are my friend." "Krishna, You are my darling child." Or especially, "Krishna, You are the beloved of my Svamini" - then, it is definite that at some time Krishna will call those persons and they will join Him forever in transcendental Goloka Vrindavana.
[Shrila Narayana Maharaj:] Can you say that there is any comparison between Ambarisa Maharaj or Bharata Maharaj and this fruit seller? No, there is no comparison. Even Ambarisa Maharaj cannot have the chance that Krishna will come in his lap and He will call him "Father," So she is so superior - so superior - because she is in Vraja. She was always seeing Krishna and, in the end, she received motherly love in Vraja, as a neighbor of Yasoda Maiya. How fortunate she is!
Do you know Pulindi-kanya? She is from a low-caste aboriginal tribe at Govardhana. She is also blackish, like hill-tribe people. One early morning she was in the forest gathering some flowers, some fruits and some cow dung. She saw the dew on the grass, mixed with reddish color, and she became agitated in bliss. She at once remembered Krishna, became full of love and affection for Him and wanted to embrace Him. She took that reddish kunkuma from the grass and smeared it all over her body.
purnah pulindya urugaya-padabja-raga
limpantya anana-kucesu jahus tad-adhim
["The aborigine women of the Vrindavana area become disturbed by lust when they see the grass marked with reddish kunkuma powder. Endowed with the color of Krishna's lotus feet, this powder originally decorated the breasts of His beloveds, and when the aborigine women smear it on their faces and breasts, they feel fully satisfied and give up all their anxiety."]
The reddish kunkuma on the grass had come from Shrimati Radhika, who always puts kunkuma on Her breast and body. Lord Krishna places His feet on the breast of Shrimati Radhika, and that kunkuma thus comes on Krishna's lotus feet. He had returned home in the early morning when there was dew on the grass, and that kunkuma had thus mixed with the dew. The Pulinda girl then collected that kunkuma.
That same Shrimati Radhika is speaking the glorification of the Pulindi-kanya in this verse of Venu Gita, saying, "I am not fortunate like the Pulindi-kanya." Purnah pulindya urugaya-padabja-raga. The kunkuma had come from Krishna's beloved (dayita), and He had gotten it on His feet. Shri Radha prayed, "That Pulindi does not always meet with Krishna, but she is more fortunate than Me - or anyone - because she put that kunkuma on her heart and other limbs, and embraced Him totally. In this way, He became hers. I am not as fortunate as that Pulindi-kanya." Can you compare the fruit seller to this lady? There is no comparison.
Now, still more superior A young girl came from another village, and married in Nandagaon. That new bride heard about the glories and beauty of Shri Krishna - that He is very tricky, and very attractive. But she had never seen Him; she had only heard His glories. She was happy that her husband was from Nandagaon and that she was coming to live there. One day, Krishna was going for cowherding along with Shri Baladeva Prabhu and His millions of cows and cowherd friends. Balarama with His companions were ahead, playing on a horn made of palm leaves. He had gone ahead, leaving Krishna behind, because He knew the etiquette of rasa. He had gone ahead so that his younger brother could meet with the gopis.
That newly married gopi wanted to go out to see Krishna, but her mother-in-law stopped her and said, "Don't go! Otherwise a black serpent will bite you! Don't go." The girl asked, "Why are you going? Why is your daughter going? Why are all the ladies going? All the old women, young and teen-aged girls are going. What offense have I done that I cannot go? I must go, even if you will be angry."
She went out and stood at the door. Krishna saw her from very far away and knew her mood. He twisted the tail of a very beautiful white calf, which at once jumped and came running towards that door where she was standing, totally absorbed in Him. Then, when Krishna came, following that calf, He took His flute and touched her under the chin. He at once took her heart, and went off to the forest smiling. Now, what could she do without her heart? She was totally absorbed in Krishna, who had gone and taken her heart. All the dust from the cows' hooves settled and He was out of sight. Still, she continued standing there.
Her mother-in-law then came back and demanded, "What are you doing, standing here? I told you that a black serpent would come. Perhaps He has bitten you. Now come with me." And she took her forcibly. Her mother-in-law continued, "You should churn yogurt. Bring that pot of yogurt." The bride brought a pot and began to churn, but her heart and mind were not present there. She did not notice that by mistake she had taken a pot of mustard seeds instead of yogurt. Again her mother-in-law came and reprimanded her, demanding, "What are you doing? This is not yogurt. Alright, go and bring water." She gave her one pot, another pot and a third pot, with a bucket and a rope. She said "Here, take this child with you," and she placed a baby boy under her daughter's other arm. "Go and bring water."
This girl was very strong, so she could easily carry all that her mother gave her. She went to a well very far away. Her mother-in-law thought that she would go and fetch water, and this would bring her back to proper consciousness. She went, but her heart and mind were not with her. Reaching the well, she put down the pots and the baby boy also. She intended to tie the rope around the pot, but her mind was not present there; so instead she began putting the rope around the neck of the baby boy. All the other gopis who were drawing water immediately exclaimed, "Oh, what has happened to this girl? She is placing the rope around the neck of that boy!" Someone suggested, "She must be possessed by a ghost." Another answered, "Not a ghost. Krishna, the son of Nanda, has possessed her mind and heart."
Is there any comparison between this new bride and the Pulindi-kanya? No, there can never be any comparison Pulindi-kanya has only indirect contact with Krishna, while this girl has direct contact with Him - because she is a gopi. Pulindi is not a gopi, so this new bride has more love and affection for Krishna and thus she is far superior. After that day, she may meet Krishna here and there with other gopis, under the guidance of nitya-siddha gopis, the gopis who are eternal associates of the Lord.
But who is still superior?
yat-kinkarisu bahusah khalu kaku-vani
nityam parasya purusasya sikhanda-mauleh
tasyah kada rasa-nidher vrsabhanu-jayas
(Shri Radha-Rasa-Sudha-Nidhi 8, Prabodhananda Sarasvati)
The kinkaris, maidservants of Shri Radha, are superior. Shrimati Radhika orders them, "There is a black person in Vrindavana. He is a big cheater. He is black outside and inside. If He comes here, don't let Him enter My kunja. I don't want to see Him again. He should not come to Me; He should return to wherever He just came from." Lord Krishna soon arrived there and, requesting permission, begged the kinkaris, "I must go to Shrimati Radhika. I want to meet with Her and pacify Her." On this day however, all the other gopis, like Rupa Manjari and Rati Manjari, were very strict. They told Him, "You cannot enter. You should return to wherever you just came from," And what did Shri Krishna do - although He is the Supreme Lord, the Lord of lords? He placed His head at the lotus feet of the gopis and prayed, "Please let Me come. Please let Me come."
Now compare that new bride with the manjaris who are serving Shri Krishna and Shrimati Radhika in this way. Who is superior? The manjaris are far superior. Why are they superior? Because they are serving Shrimati Radhika:
venum karan nipatitam skhalitam sikhandam
bhrastam ca pita-vasanam vraja-raja-sunoh
tam radhikam paricarami kada rasena
(Shri Radha-Rasa-Sudha-Nidhi 39, Prabodhananda Sarasvati)
Shri Krishna, the Lord of lords, is very beautiful and attractive. But when, on His way to cow-herding, He looks in the direction of Shrimati Radhika, who, along with Her sakhis, is standing near a kunja and hiding, what happened to Him when He received Her glance upon Him? His flute at once slipped from His hand. This flute is very powerful. It bewilders even Lord Brahma, Lord Sankara, Lord Sankarsana and all other incarnations. It drives all the gopis out of their houses at night, even if they are in the midst of serving their husbands or sons, by churning butter or cooking. They drop whatever they are doing.
If any gopi becomes maanavati, in a sulky mood, Krishna can immediately and very easily break her mana by playing His flute. So the flute is very powerful, but it very easily falls from Krishna's hands when He realizes Shri Radha's glance. Moreover, His peacock feather falls down. Where does it go? It falls down at Her lotus feet. And what else happens? He at once begins to faint, and at that time His cowherd friend Madhumangala says, "Oh, what are You doing! Nanda Baba and Yasoda-maiya are here!" It is very hard for Krishna to maintain His normal consciousness when Radhika throws Her sidelong glance towards Him.
So Radhika is most superior - more so than Shrimati Candravali or anyone else. She is Guru of Krishna, friend of Krishna, servant of Krishna, advisor of Krishna, and she is especially His Guru of love and affection.
How you can have such a love? There is only one process.
anaShritya vrndatavim tat-padankam
kutah syama-sindho rasasyavagahah
(Sva-sankalpa-prakasa-stotra 1, Raghunatha dasa Gosvami)
Who can sink in the ocean of love - in the ocean of syama-rasa? Syama-rasa is Shrimati Radhika's love and affection of Krishna. Who can have this? Anaradhya radha-padambhoja-renum. Those who have not served the lotus dust of Radhika cannot have it. Vrndatavim tat-padankam. Those who have not served and taken shelter of Vrindavana, that land which is covered with Her footprints and Her foot dust, cannot have it. Asambhasya-tad-bhava-gambhira-cittan. And those who have not taken shelter of the persons who are always sinking in love and affection for Her, like Shrila Rupa Gosvami, Shrila Sanatana Gosvami and the other Gosvamisif they have not heard these devotees hari-katha, they cannot know Her glory.
This is our ultimate goal.
I want to finish my classes here. We began from sraddha. We told so much hari-katha, and the essence of all is found here - that our object is to serve Shrimati Radhika. We should begin practicing bhakti from the smallest fraction, from sraddha, and that practice is called vaidhi-bhakti. Then we should gradually go up. When you develop a real taste for bhakti, you will not fall down, and if you have no taste, oh, you are already fallen. There is no further down to fall.
Editor: Shyamarani dasi
Typists: Sulata dasi
Proofreader: Vasanti dasi